21 Days

A/N: So this is my first venture into NCIS LA. I have written previous stories for both NCIS and Rookie Blue. It should also be mentioned that I am based in South Africa so, we are currently only officially on episode 3 of this series. Lucky me – there is the internet... I hope you enjoy!

Disclaimer: I do not NCIS LA or any of the fab characters or stories lines – I just mangle them for my own entertainment…

21 days. They say that is how long it takes to form a habit, whoever they are. And it just so happens that today, the day they end this undercover marriage sham, was day 21. It's strange, Deeks thinks, his whole apartment could have neatly fitted into the kitchen of their cover house. And yet it seems so quiet, so big, so empty, without her presence. Not that he missed the insults of course, a man's ego (even one as well-established as his) can only take so much, even at the hands of Kensi.

He had eaten his dinner standing at the kitchen counter, drank a glass of milk, washed, dried and stacked the single plate and glass. Now, having recently showered, he pulls on a pair of boxers and sinks into his bed. The bed he hasn't slept in for 20 nights. Takes him all of two minutes to realize that he is lying on the left hand side. Habit-forming – bah.

He lifts his hands, tucks them behind his head, stares at the ceiling.

Can't sleep. Got nothing to do with the fact that he is on the "wrong" side, and everything (he accepts with a shudder) to do with the fact that he is not currently wrestling for bed space. Aggh good times… good times…

A sharp rap of the knuckles on the front door pulls him back. He glances at his watch as he throws back the covers: 12.30am. Usually, there are only two reasons why people knock on your door in the middle of the night – the first, the extremely satisfying kind; and the second the kind that involves hospitals and body bags. Usually. However, this, he suspects falls into the realm of neither.

Scratching his lower back, he peers through the peephole, just to make sure. (Can't be too safe, as Sam drummed into him when he came and installed the voyeuristic instrument, muttering all the while about damn rookie agents who think they are immortal and refuse to follow proper tactical procedure. Deeks hadn't thought it pertinent at that precise moment to remind the Navy Seal who was armed with a drill, that he wasn't actually an agent, but a liaison.)

He is, however, amused to see that his current doorknocker has her lock-picking kit out. Decides to put her out of her misery, opens the door. A slightly disheveled version of Kensi marches in, her hair down and wild. He looks her up and down (he is Deeks after all, reputation to live up to and all that), takes in her faded flannel PJ pants, the softly worn NCIS training shirt, and are those pink fuzzy slippers on her feet?

He steps back, scratches his head idly as she dumps her go-to bag in the doorway and stalks off towards his bedroom.

She hasn't said a word, and judging by the mask of irritation that is plastered on her face, he decides, wisely, to swallow the comment that threatens to bubble out of his mouth. Seems…safer that way.

With a smirk, he closes and deadbolts the door, picks up her abandoned bag and follows her into the bedroom.

Kensi is already tucked under the comforter, splayed out, fast asleep. He slides in next to her. She snuffles, grunts, shifts closer, throws her arm over his waist. In the darkness, he closes his eyes, a smile on his lips. Seems he is not the only one who thinks that 21 days is enough to form a habit.

He is the first to wake, a tangle of arms and legs. Extricates himself as carefully as he can. Gently pulls open the drawer, and exchanges his boxes for board shorts, before slipping out of the bedroom. Whistles softly while he makes the coffee, leaves her cup and a Twinkie on the counter by the pot, picks up his surfboard and quietly closes the door behind him.

As he expects, she is gone by the time he returns. Even the bed is made. Crumpled, but made, none-the-less. Her coffee cup in the sink, and the damp towel left on the floor by the shower, the only evidence that she was ever there. That it was not a dream, after all.

Hands jammed deep into his pockets, Deeks whistles tunelessly as he waltzes into the Mission. Kensi doesn't look up from her paperwork. Doesn't even register he is there. "Someone got a good night's sleep," Callen acknowledges, stirring his coffee.

"Yeah, it had its moments," Deeks responds, sitting down opposite his partner. "And you, Fern. Did you get a good night's sleep?" his eyes widely innocent as she glares him down.

"Must have. Probably the best night's sleep in a while," Sam adds. "She positively bounded in here this morning."

"Yeah, well, you know. It's hard lying next to all this and try to contain yourself," Deeks responds as he pours himself a cup of coffee. "Can understand how that could be disturbing to some."

"The only thing disturbing is your ego," Kensi mutters.

Whatever she is about to say next is blocked by Eric's piercing whistle.

It's been a hard day, a hard case. Always is when kids are involved. So even though she hasn't said anything about their impromptu sleepover, he suspects she will be back tonight.

He is lying on the sofa reading when he hears her at the door; this time she doesn't even bother to knock. Just walks right in.

Closing and locking the door behind her, Kensi goes straight through and dumps her bag in the bedroom. Opening the fridge, she mentions conversationally: "I think I will go for a run tomorrow – try out that route by the beach."

Picking up two beers, she pops the tops off and gestures for him to lift his head. Handing him one of the beers, she rearranges the cushion against her leg, gently pushes his head back down again, reaches for the remote and puts her feet up on the coffee table. Kensi flicks through the channels before she finds a movie she hasn't seen; settles back and takes a swig from her beer. Deeks, lifting his book, continues to read.

"I could get used to this," he murmurs, holding his breath.

A moment. A sigh. "I think I already have," she responds just as quietly, turning the television volume up.

The movie ends, and she gets up. Leans over and kisses him lightly, her own eyes widening at what she has just done. Flustered, she backs away, mutters goodnight and scuttles into the room.

"A good night indeed," Deeks smirks, as he picks up his book and continues to read.

This time, it is Kensi who wakes first, brushes the hair out of Deek's face as she slips out of bed. Rummages in her kit bag and disappears into the bathroom to get changed into her running gear. She puts the coffee on, places two mugs on the counter, and adjusting her ipod, steps out the door and breathes in the fresh sea air.

The third morning, there is a key waiting for her next to her coffee.

The fifth morning, he hears her leaving while he is still in the shower. He steps out the front door, clutching his towel loosely around his waist.

"At least buy me dinner, you make me feel cheap, using my bed and body for comfort." He can hear her laughing all the way to her car. But, that night, she when she comes in, she has pizza and a six-pack of beers in her hands.

The twelfth morning, Deeks bites down, hard, on the inside of his cheek as she walks into the Mission. Tries to pretend he doesn't notice that she is wearing one of his v-neck t-shirts, tucked into her jeans. He has never wanted to be a t-shirt so badly in his life.

That coupled with the scent of his shampoo in her hair, and his soap clinging to her body, is enough to make him want to bend her over on his desk and take her right there – Hetty be damned. Is she trying to push him over the edge? He's a red-blooded male after all, and this close proximity with a woman as intoxicating to him as her, is tickling the boundaries of his sanity. Going to have to take matters into his own hands shortly. The cold morning showers simply aren't cutting it. And, let's be honest, no-one ever said Marty Deeks was a saint, or a monk for that matter.

They don't have a case, so he can't even go shoot something. Gritting his teeth, he growls something about going for a workout, has the need to punch an inanimate object. Kensi looks up, brow furrowed. Offers to be his workout buddy. Usually Deeks would respond with a lascivious grin and an inappropriate word. Usually. Instead, he mutters about being too much of a man for her to handle, and rapidly leaves the spends a few quality hours with a punching bag.

It is suggested a night out is in order. Callen and Sam, rightly guesses his source of pent-up frustration. In fact, Callen's direct words are: "Think you need to get laid".

Deeks, wisely, some might say (and slightly brave, others might comment) recommends that Kensi and Nell come as well. Could be fun, some team-building, he says. Perhaps it was the solid glare that Kensi is shooting his way that persuades him this would be the best course of action.

Callen and Sam are on a mission to find Deeks the perfect woman, or at the very least, the perfect woman for the night. Kensi is left muttering into her cosmopolitan (Nell ordered the round), as a well-proportioned blonde (definitely of the Dr 90210 variety) simpers and fawns over Deeks and his hair. Gulping down her drink, she shifts out of the booth to get another round (preferably something a little stronger for herself, and not so pink), the Barbie breathily demands Sex on the Beach, while staring deep into her partner's baby blues.

"Of course, you would… sure you wouldn't prefer a Slow Comfortable Screw Up Against The Wall?" She offers sarcastically.

"Oh," says the Barbie. "That is most definitely on the cards." Callen and Sam just grin, a job well done.

Nell drags her away before she does the blonde bodily harm.

Deeks tries to politely extricate himself as the blonde (he thinks her name is Sandi) sucks on his ear. The drinks are slammed down in front of them, Kensi tilts her head to one side, raises a single eyebrow, her mismatched eyes sparking. "Oh, don't you two stop on my account," she says a touch too sweetly. Deeks takes in the tall slab of a man that appears at her side, like a bad apparition. "Johnny here has offered to keep me company on the dance floor."

He splutters into his beer, trying to figure out what exactly he has done so wrong in his life for karma to kick him in the junk like this…. He is so busy trying not to watch the big lug on the dance floor pawing Kensi like a dog in heat, that he almost doesn't notice the blonde's fingers creeping up his leg. He catches her hand before her fingers reach the designated target. Grabbing his hand with her other one, she presses his fingertips between her open thighs, her intention clear. He yanks his hand back, smacking the underneath of the table and yelps in pain. From the other side of the table, Nell and Eric look up from their conversation in surprise. Deeks pats the blonde on the shoulder, says he needs to go to the little boy's room and slips out of the booth.

He has had enough, both literally and figuratively.

Deeks maneuvers across the dance floor over to the bar, where Kensi is currently engaged in an animated conversation with her poster boy (must be a fireman, Deeks surmises). Leaning over her shoulder, he whispers roughly in her ear. "If you got an itch to scratch that bad, I suggest you use your own bed tonight. You're not welcome in mine."Looks her fireman up and down, holds out his hand: "Good luck to you Mate. You're going to need it."

Within 20 minutes, he is in the haven of his own shower, leaning forward as the water trickles down over his shoulder blades. He doesn't hear her until she yanks the shower curtain back, switching off the water with her other hand. "Who the hell do you think you are?" she yells at him, oblivious to his somewhat vulnerable state. "You spend the entire night being drooled on by that… that… plastic woman, and yet I am the one with the problem? I think not buddy."

He doesn't think, just reacts, weeks of pent-up frustration and emotion bubbling under the surface. Kind of figures they have overstepped that fragile boundary line a while ago. Grabs hold of her wrist and pulls her in towards him. After all, jealousy is an emotion too, isn't it?

That first kiss – the cover kiss she so insisted on - was full of promise. This one, undeniable need. He breaks away first, rests his forehead on hers: "Are you sure? There's no going back."

Cradling his face in her hands, she pulls him back towards her.

"So," he says a few hours later, tracing patterns on her bare back, "Was it all you dreamed it would be? The full Deeks?" Her only response is a sharp elbow to the ribs, a good natured sigh.

The 21st morning, she wakes to find a space has been cleared for her in the cupboard; her clothes are neatly packed in two drawers; her toiletries and miniscule amount of make-up safely secured in the bathroom. And life falls into a routine. At work they remain the same they always have been: they flirt, they flight, they antagonize, they tease; and none are any the wiser.

Four months in, the phone rings in the middle of the night. Kensi reaches over Deek's prone body, grabs her mobile off the bedside, peers blearily at the screen: Eric. She mumbles a response as Deeks pulls her in closer.

"Aaghh..Kensi? Sorry. Know it's late. Or early. You are needed in ops. Can you… Can you… tell Deeks?" Eric falls over his words.

"Why don't you just call him," Kensi retorts, sitting up in bed.

"Actually, Kensi, I… ahhh… just did."

Kensi pulls the phone from her ear, looks at it closely. "Crap". Elbows Deeks harder. "Wake up," she hisses. "Why my buttercup? Need a little more Deeks?" he murmurs, kissing her bare shoulder. "Eric called. Looking for you."

Deeks purses his lips, looks confused. "Why didn't he just call me then?" he says, following Kensi out of bed.

"He did. I answered your phone. Stop laughing. It's not funny Deeks. I don't want everyone to know about this… us.. our thing.. or whatever."

Deeks just shakes his head, pulls on his jeans. He knows better than to get her to label what they have. Easier that way. Less messy.

Across the city in the ops room Eric looks over at Nell. Eyes blinking madly behind his lenses.

"Did… did Kensi just answer Deeks' phone?" Nell finally asks.

"At 4 in the morning?" Eric adds.

The two stare at each other for a split second before spinning towards their keyboards to calibrate the GPS.

"Yup," says Eric. "Most definitely two signals coming from that bat cave. How long do you think that's been going on?"

"What's going on that I don't already know about?" Hetty intones from the doorway. Both Nell and Eric redden. "Aaagghh" responds Eric. "Just spoken to Kensi and Deeks. They are both on their way in." "Separately of course," Nell adds.

"Sam and Callen are already downstairs," says Eric, quickly recovering.

The two can't help but take surreptitious glances over at the couple standing next to each other seeing if they can spot any sign, any inclination. But they are the same as always, shoulders just touching. As Hetty briefs them about the case, Deeks makes a smart comment, Kensi gives him a withering look. Same as always.

They leave the ops room, Nell and Eric look at each other. Nell purses her lips: "Maybe… it was just one of their movie nights that ran late and Kensi stayed over. That's happened more than once before, hasn't it…" Her voice trails off.

It's just past the six month mark, but Deeks knows better than to celebrate the anniversary. Kensi is still not ready to put a label on it.

She leans back in her chair, her opened mail in front of her, her bank statement in her hand. "Did we get an increase or bonus that I am not aware of?" she asks, confused. A look of panic flits across Deeks' face. "Definitely not," responds Callen. "Why?"

"There's an amount here that has been deposited into my account, reference the Charlestons. Should I get Eric, has my account been hacked?" She asked worriedly.

"Deeks," Sam says exasperated. "Did you not tell her?"

Deeks has the decently to hang his head. "Err, no. Not yet. Was going to… Buu-utt you know, risking life and limb and all that. And, quite frankly, I like my junk." Crosses his legs, places his hands protectively.

"Deeks," Kensi says warningly, as she crosses over to him. "Do you have something you need to share with the class?"

"I told you to tell her," Callen chimes in.

Kensi spins on her heel. "You are all in on this? What is going on?"

Deeks mumbles into his coffee cup. "What?" screeches Kensi.

"I rented out your apartment. Six weeks ago."

"How can you rent out my apartment? My apartment." She spits out. "Where I live… And… And… How do they all know?"

"It's around the same time Mr Deeks changed your permanent residence address on your employment card, Miss Blye," Hetty adds, dryly.

"Deeks," Kensi hisses loudly. "Why did you do that? Now everyone thinks we are in a relationship."

She spins on her heel, storms out of the room.

Deeks yells after her: "Sweetheart, you have been waking up in my bed every morning for the past six months – hate to break it to you – but we are in a relationship!"

He turns to Sam and Callen, shrugs his shoulders. "Feel like a drink? Think I need to give her a bit of space before I go home tonight, and seeing as you both aided and abetted this one… You owe me."

A few hours have passed by the time he lets himself into the apartment. She is sitting in the dark, hugging her legs. "Didn't have any place to go, seeing as you decided to rent out my apartment."

He laughs at her lightly. She glares in response.

He switches on the lamp, pulls her onto his lap. "You see there," he points over to the TV cabinet. "…is your DVD collection, and over there," he points to the hallway cupboard, "… are your running shoes and go-to bag next to mine, and there," he points to the side table, where three framed photos sit – an old one of her father, dressed in uniform; a more recent one of her and her mother, laughing on the beach; one of the team taken at the boat house, "… are your memories. In the fridge is your beer and that disgusting soda you love; in the cupboard are your loathsome sugary snacks." He softly kisses the side of her neck. "Don't you get it Kens? You don't need anywhere to go, you are already home."

And, finally, she realizes she is.