Kensi swings open the door wearing flannel pajama pants, a tank top and a confused frown. "Deeks?"

He doesn't bother with a greeting.

"So," he prompts, "you and Monica..."

She sighs and steps aside, wordlessly inviting him into her apartment. "You're familiar with the definition of insanity?"

"Ah, but Einstein wasn't accounting for my dogged persistence."

"There's no accounting for you, that's for sure."

He follows her into the living room where she flops down on one end of the sofa, tucking her feet under her and looking up at him. He knows she's wondering why he's here, but she doesn't ask. He's glad for that - he's not entirely sure he knows the answer. Or if he does, that he's willing to say it out loud.

He deposits the beers he's holding onto the coffee table, snags one for himself and joins her on the couch.

She nods at the lone cup nestled among the bottles in the carrier. "That for me?"

"Yup. Extra chocolate, extra whipped cream."

"I think I love you a little bit."

He grins. "I know you do."

She sticks out her tongue at him and reaches for her cup. "I'm sure it wasn't entirely selfless. Really, you just wanted an excuse to drink the sixth beer."

"I had to make room for your milkshake!"

"A noble sacrifice." She pulls out the straw and licks off the cream.

"I thought so." He manages to tear his eyes off of what she's doing with her tongue, but just barely. Usually he'd make some sort of joke, but tonight the words don't make it past the lump that's taken hold in the back of his throat. Instead, he forces his gaze on the television screen.

"Dancing with the Stars? But, it's Tuesday. You hate the results shows."

She shrugs, dipping her straw back into the shake and taking a drink. "It was too quiet."

He twists the cap off a beer. He takes a long pull before admitting, "At my place, too."

She raises an eyebrow at that. "Monty giving you the silent treatment?"

"Doggie day care closes at six. I can't pick him up until tomorrow."

She grins. "I'm pretty sure you just said 'Doggie day care.'"

"Hey, it is what it is. I've got nothing to hide."

"Try that one on Sam tomorrow. Let me know how it goes."

"Is it manlier to say 'at the boarders'?"

Her eyes shine a little brighter. "I'm not sure that I would classify anything that comes out of your mouth as 'manlier.'"

"Says the pinnacle of femininity." He makes a snorting sound.

"I do not snore!"

"I'm going to have to train Monty to imitate it so I can sleep again."

"I'm sure."

"I find it soothing. Like the ocean. Or whale mating sounds."

She laughs and holds the cup out to him. He leans in and takes a drink before she pulls it back and returns the straw to her lips.

"Although," he continues around his mouthful of ice cream, "I am wondering how I'm going to sleep with an entire bed to myself. I got used to having to curl up into a ball in the corner so I wouldn't wind up smothered by one of your wild appendages." He spreads out his arms to demonstrate what a sleeping Kensi looks like.

She punches him. "I am not that bad."

"Sure," he says, rubbing his sure-to-be-bruised arm. "Whatever you say."

"I'm not!"

"I'm just lucky you don't have Restless Leg Syndrome or I'd have found myself on the floor every morning."

"I will concede that you're lucky you didn't find yourself on the floor every morning."

He scoffs. "Oh, please. The only thing clingier in bed than you would be an actual starfish."

She reddens a bit at that. He'd woken up almost every morning with her face practically buried in his neck and her body pressed securely against his. If he tries hard enough, he can still feel the heat of her breath on his skin.

"Trying to make sure I wouldn't escape in the night?" he asks, draining the last of his beer and depositing the bottle on the coffee table.

She doesn't answer right away, and in the silence he realizes exactly what he's said. God, he's such a dick.

He makes an abortive reach for her. "Kens, I -"

She waves him off with a hand and a shake of her head. "It'll be nice to sleep alone again. I'll miss the home-cooked breakfasts, though."

He frowns, debating pressing an apology or going with the subject change. He's not sure if it's for her benefit or his that he opts for the latter. Probably his own.

"Don't lie. You'll be glad to get back to your standard half-dozen doughnuts."

"I do like sprinkles."

"And powder. And frosting." He ticks the items with his fingers as he lists them. "Cream filling. Toasted coconut."

She nods. "Those too."

"You know what else you're going to miss?"

She tugs the blanket off the back of the couch, draping it over her lap. "No, but I'm sure you'll enlighten me."

"You're going to miss that bathtub."

"And you'll miss your bro bag."

"Bro sack," he corrects. "And I won't miss it because I took it home with me."

She looks at him sideways. "Please tell me you didn't."

"You know you like it. It gives you a reason to stare at my ass."

"If I like it it's because it covers your ass."

He leans forward and squints at her face. "Your nose is growing a little."

"Ha. Ha." She scowls.

He leans back and snags another beer. "No worries. I know a place we can go to fix it. Very discreet. Can fix those ears while we're at it, too."

"You really know how to get on my good side."

"Well, you like me enough to kiss me, so I can't be too terrible."

Kensi rolls her eyes. "Jeez, Deeks. You're such a girl. It was a cover kiss."

"That's what you keep telling me."

"You are one of LAPD's most successful undercover agents and you want me to believe that you don't understand the concept of a cover kiss?"

He understands the concept very well - it just doesn't usually feel quite like that. And typically it's prompted by some need for actual cover.

"Well, I rarely play the suburban husband role. Usually, I'm more of a druggie or a thug."

"Lowlifes don't need love?"

"Not in my experience. I must have been doing it wrong."

"Clearly." She swaps her now-empty cup for a beer. "I was really just trying to shut you up. I find that to be one of the most challenging aspects of my job. It's as if that mouth of yours never closes."

"Well, it worked." He wiggles his eyebrows suggestively. "You should try it again sometime."

Predictably, she picks up a throw pillow and hits him with it. "You are such a pig."

He grins. "Says the piglet."

With a groan, Kensi turns her attention to the television. They sit for a while in silence, breaking it only to comment on the show.

Deeks uses the time to subtly observe her. She's been a constant presence in his life for the last two years, and he likes to think he knows her pretty well - as well as anyone can know Kensi Blye, anyway. Living with her for the last ten days didn't actually reveal much he hadn't already known. He knew all about her eating habits, her morning moodiness, her ridiculous love of techno music. And though he didn't start harassing her about it until this op, he's known for a while that she snores. She's only allowed herself to doze off during stakeouts a few times and there were two occasions he'd found her asleep on the couch in the bullpen, but that was enough.

He knows what makes her laugh - when to make her laugh; knows how and when to make her smile. He knows how competent she is at her job, how focused and driven. And he knows how gorgeous she is - knows what she looks like in a bikini, flannel pajamas, and anything in between.

He knows all that, but more importantly, he knows she's his partner. So, while he's entertained the occasional fantasy about her, he's never honestly considered anything beyond that. He's said it before and meant it - she's not his type. The girls he dates are much less serious, much more - well, they're just a lot less Kensi. They're blonde, slightly flighty, incredibly flirty, and he always has to pry them out of a gaggle of friends to meet them in the first place. Kensi's focused, serious to the extreme and would sooner punch him than bat her lashes. If she's hanging out at a bar, it's likely by herself or with him. So it hasn't been too much of a struggle to keep her in a separate category - to keep himself from thinking of her the way he thinks of the others.

But it's pretty hard not to think of her like that when she's curled up against him at night, her pant leg riding up and exposing the calf that's rubbed up against his own. It's hard not to think of her like that when she's sitting across from him at the breakfast table, her hair all ruffled and face make-up free. It's hard not to think of her like that when she's dragging her hand across his chest and dropping a kiss on his cheek. And it's really, really hard not to think of her like that when she grabs him and presses her lips to his.

So, yeah, it was a cover kiss. It was all a cover. But the effect it's having on the way he's looking at her is very much real and pretty severely altering the foundation of this partnership.

He pulls himself out of his thoughts and looks over at Kensi again. She's picking at the label of her beer, teeth gently tugging on her bottom lip. He has a pretty good idea what she's thinking about. While he'd love nothing more than to leave it alone, he knows he can't. He won't be able to forget it any more than she will.

He clears his throat. Awkwardly. "Kensi, look, what I said earlier - that was -"

She cuts him off with a shake of her head. "It's fine."

It's not fine. He knows it's not fine. "It was insensitive and I wasn't thinking."

He reaches over and drops his hand on hers. Her eyes land on their hands as she studiously avoids his gaze.

"Really, Deeks. No big deal."

He berates himself. He may be an ass, but - "You know I'd never do that, right?"

She almost laughs. "What? Leave me in the night?"


When she meets his eyes he tries his best to convey how serious he is. He's got a lot of flaws - for all his false bravado, he knows this. He knows he's not the ideal partner, knows he's hurt her before and is likely to hurt her again, but he'd never abandon her. Kensi's greatest heartbreak comes when the people she loves leave, and he'll be damned if he allows that to happen again.

She smiles slightly before responding. "Yeah, Hetty'd kick your ass if you left us without two weeks' notice."

"She'd kick my ass if I left at all."

"There's that," she concedes. "You fulfill her daily dose of cheekiness."

"Charm," he corrects. "Plus, I'm cute."

"Plus, you're -"

He grins. "I almost got you to say it."


He gives her hand a light squeeze. She turns hers over and spreads her fingers, allowing them to intertwine with his. She looks again at their joined hands, deep in thought.

He wonders what she's thinking about - if she's thinking about them, what she's thinking about them. Is she thinking about her admission that afternoon on the couch? Does she still feel the same way or has the sentiment already passed? Is she imagining herself with little mutant ninja assassins? Do any of them have blond hair and blue eyes?

He wonders when he became such a sap.

He wonders if he should kiss her.

She looks up and meets his gaze. She glances at their hands once more before slipping free.

"I'm getting tired," she admits. "I think it's time for bed."

"That an invitation, Wifey?"

"If I remember correctly, Hetty specifically requested all agents retire to their own beds this evening."

"I'm not entirely convinced her comment was directed at us."

"Well, Callen and Sam's bromance does seem to mature every day."

"That happens with partners."

"Yeah," she says softly, "it does."

She shirks the blanket and pushes up off the couch, gathering the empty bottles and taking them to the sink. He follows her with the remaining beers and deposits them in the fridge. Neither of them speak as they make their way back to the front of her apartment - the urge to lead her to her bedroom a very real thing.

"Hey Deeks," she says when they reach her door. "I'm sorry about the kiss."

"Don't be." He's not. He's really, really not. He leans in, pressing a kiss to her cheek. "Night, Princess."

She smiles and ushers him out the door. "Night, Hubby."