Even through her medicine-induced haze, Kensi's ears alerted her to an unexpected sound in her apartment.
Soft, uniform, and coming closer. The unmistakable sound of footsteps sneaking through.
Her hand fumbled at the drawer by her bed, seeking the automatic pistol she kept stowed there.
But at the moment her fingers curled around it, a familiar body appeared in her bedroom doorway and she sighed in relief, releasing the gun and relaxing her pose.
"Are you trying to give me a heart attack?" she demanded, sitting up in bed and putting as much annoyance in her voice as her scratchy throat would allow.
Marty Deeks gave her a sheepish little smile. "Sorry. I didn't want to wake you if you were sleeping."
"How did you get in?" Kensi immediately wanted to know. "Did I leave the door unlocked?"
He grinned unashamedly this time, holding up his lock-picking tool. "Nope, that would be a handy little thing I like to call my 'spare key'."
"What are you doing here?" She sniffled into a tissue.
"Heard you were sick," he answered simply. "But lucky for you, Doctor Deeks has a cure."
She just looked at him. "Doctor Deeks? Really?"
"What? Would you rather I play Nurse Deeks? Maybe give you a little sponge bath?"
She scoffed at the implication, her cheeks coloring briefly through her paleness.
Deeks sat facing her on the edge of the bed, bringing the back of his hand to her cheek and forehead to gauge her temperature. "Slightly warm. Not too bad."
"Warm?" Kensi echoed, ignoring his hand. "I'm freezing."
"Don't worry…we'll get you back on your feet in no time," Deeks answered. "Honestly, Kens…I don't know how much longer I can stand being partnered with Sam. And today was just the first day."
Unhappy that he was seeing her looking like this, Kensi informed him tightly, "Deeks…I have the flu. It's not going to go away with a snap of your fingers."
Her partner regarded her steadily a moment. "We'll see about that," he promised ominously.
Something in his tone alarmed her, and she looked at him warily. "Go away."
"Go home. I don't want you here."
He was hurt. "You don't want — why not?"
She grasped at feeble excuses. "Because I'm sick, and…gross, and…I don't want anyone to see me like this!" Her reddened eyes pleaded with him.
He looked back at her with a soft little smile. He understood. But he also wanted her to get well. "I'm your partner, Kens. If I can't see you like this, who can?"
She stared at him, and he gazed steadily back, unwavering. "Alright," she finally relented. "But if you get sick too, it's not my fault."
Deeks smiled wider. "I'm willing to take that risk." He had nothing to worry about — he had a great immune system.
He gave her blanket-covered leg a brief friendly pat and rose from the bed.
Going to the kitchen, he put a small pan on the stove, emptied a can of chicken broth into it, and added a liberal amount of fresh minced garlic before turning on the heat.
When it was hot (but not scalding) he filled a large ceramic mug with the steaming broth and brought it to Kensi.
The warm mug felt good in her hands, but her rolling stomach gave her no desire to drink from it. "What's floating in it?" she asked, partly curious but mostly just stalling.
"Garlic. It's good for you."
"Mnh," she wrinkled her nose.
"Drink it," Deeks said gently, taking up his spot on the edge of the bed again.
"It's too hot," Kensi lied.
"No, it's not."
"It's too garlic-y."
Deeks inhaled patiently. "It's just right. And with your nose stuffed up like that, you won't taste the garlic anyway."
She still hesitated.
"Do I need to call Hetty?" her partner asked in a playfully threatening tone.
Kensi glared at him darkly. "If I wasn't sick, I'd punch you."
Deeks grinned easily. "Then drink the broth. It's full of vitamins. You'll be back to Kick-ass Kensi before you know it."
She sighed. There was no getting around it, and he wasn't going to leave her alone until she drank the broth. She brought the mug to her lips for a tiny taste.
"All of it," Deeks encouraged.
She took a real swallow. It warmed her throat, and she really didn't taste the garlic. Her nose was too plugged up for her to taste much of anything.
"Not too bad," she admitted, finally draining the mug. "As long as it doesn't come back up."
"Ew," Deeks grimaced, leaning away slightly. "Has that been happening today?"
Kensi gave him a grossed-out look. "I'm not discussing my puking habits with you, thank you very much."
"Have you had anything to eat today?" he tried a different tack.
But she shook her head. "Not hungry enough to try, and didn't want to risk it, either."
"You wanna try some soup tomorrow?" Deeks offered. "Chicken noodle? Homemade straight from a can?"
She smiled a little at his joke. "Maybe. We'll see." She reached for a fresh tissue from the box by her alarm clock.
Deeks looked around at the collection of wadded up tissues strewn across the bed and scattered on the floor. "You know there's this thing called a trash can? Really helpful for corralling your herd of stray Kleenex."
Kensi's current tissue paused at her nose as she narrowed her eyes at him. She took one final swipe and wickedly threw the small wad at him.
He jumped away. "Ah — really? That's…that's nasty. Thanks a lot..."
"Sorry, I was aiming for the trash can," Kensi quipped with a smirk, not the least bit truthful in either her apology or her intended target.
"Alright…I'm gonna take off. You get some rest," Deeks said, dropping a new box of tissues into his partner's lap and backing away before she could throw more used ones at him. "And I will be back tomorrow night for round two of playing doctor."
"Yippee," Kensi deadpanned.
"You know you miss me when I'm gone," her partner flirted shamelessly back at her.
"I'll save you some used tissues," she promised lightly.
He grinned, playing along. "You do that. I'm gonna come back here with a flame-thrower to clean up this mess."
He took her mug back to the kitchen, filled it with the rest of the warm broth, and set it on the nightstand by Kensi's bed. "Drink up," he said cheerfully. "I'll see you tomorrow."