"Have I told you that I hate the cold," Probationary Special Agent Marty Deeks of NCIS told the rest of his team as he looked out of the window of the helicopter.
"Yes," Sam groaned.
"Many times," Kensi pouted, hitting her partner on the arm. Deeks rubbed where she'd hit him, but for once stayed quiet, looking out the window once more. From where he sat G smirked and shook his head at his younger half brother's antics. A few months had passed since Deeks had been rescued from the warehouse, and he'd finally agreed to become an agent. Once the former detective had sufficiently recovered from his injuries, and had solidified his relations with the rest of the team, Hetty had sent him off to train at FLETC. Now, though, Deeks was back with his team, having completed the classroom based subjects, and would now do the rest of the course through experience, learning on the job what being an agent was about, and communicating via email with his teachers back at Quantico.
The team had been sent by Hetty to the mountains, where a retired Special Forces soldier named Simon Everett lived. Several other members of his unit had been killed in LA, and Hetty had been worried that the soldier would be targeted. The team had found out the unit had been involved in a highly sensitive mission that, if the details were revealed to the wrong person could compromise the location of a large weapons cache, including enough guns to arm a small army, and a few larger, more dangerous items, such as rocket launchers, and bomb making materials. Steps had been taken to move the cache to another, more well protected area, but Hetty had sent her team up to see if whoever it was that was targeting the unit had taken out the retired soldier.
The only problem was that the man lived near the top of a mountain, in thick wilderness. At the best of times it was difficult to access, requiring a four wheel drive, and then a lengthy walk. Now, though it was the depths of winter, and although the weather had been mild, here in the mountains heavy snow had fallen, making the roads impossible to use, and forcing the team to use the helicopter to get them to a clearing close to the soldier's cabin, and then walking the rest of the way.
"We're coming in for landing now, try and be as quick as possible, there's a storm coming in that looks pretty nasty, and I do not want to be caught out here when it hits." The helicopter pilot said as the approached a clearing
"You got it," Sam replied as they got their bags ready to quickly disembark from the helicopter. The helicopter began to drop towards the snow covered ground, and once it touched down on the snow the Callen jumped out, his feet sinking into the snow. He was glad that Hetty had gotten them to wear ski clothes, in order to make sure that they stayed warm, because he knew that if he was wearing ordinary shoes his socks and shoes (and feet) would be soaking wet and freezing cold already. He glanced over his shoulder as Deeks hesitated in the doorway of the helicopter, before Sam rolled his eyes and pushed the younger man out of the helicopter. Deeks crinkled his nose.
"It's cold," he announced, before getting out of the way so that Kensi could jump down. Once the team were all prepared Callen checked his GPS, and began to walk towards the Soldier's cabin, the wind dying down around them the further away from the helicopter's slowing blades they got.
It was a lengthy walk, made longer by the rugged terrain, and the worsening weather. Callen was in the lead, and they followed after him in single file. They were quiet, even Deeks had fallen silent, concentrating on not tripping over on any hidden logs beneath the snow. Soon even Sam and Callen were feeling a little puffed, and were glad when the soldier's wooden cabin came into view.
"Now that is a sight for sore eyes." Deeks smiled as they approached the cabin. Callen couldn't help but agree as they approached the building.
"Guys," Kensi said in a low voice, pointing at the cabin's door. The lock was splintered, and the door had obviously been kicked in. Within moments the entire team had their guns in their hands, their approach of the house becoming much more cautious. Sam approached the front door, wincing as the front step creaked, before kicking the door open and entering the building.
"NCIS," Callen called, following at Sam's heels. Kensi and Deeks, having walked a perimeter around the cabin and finding no other exit, entered the building as well. The four agents spread out searching the building. They found no trace of the soldier, until Kensi and Deeks headed down into the basement of the small cabin. Here, lying in a pool of blood, was Everett, shot through the back of his head.
"There's no one else here, obviously whoever did this is long gone," Sam reasoned.
"I wouldn't say that," Callen argued as he crouched beside the body, "his body isn't cold enough. He's only been dead for an hour or two." The rest of the team fell silent as they thought about the implications of Callen's discovery. The killer, or potentially the killers, were undoubtedly still in the area.
"Deeks, call Hetty," Callen ordered. Deeks already had his phone out and had hit his speed dial.
"I've got no signal. The mountains must be blocking it. Does anyone else?" Deeks reported. The rest of the team checked their phones.
"I've got nothing," Kensi shook her head.
"Damn," Sam swore, obviously finding that he had the same issue. Callen checked his phone, and scowled. He too had no signal.
"Right, Sam and I will go back and use the radio in the helicopter to tell Hetty what is going on. You two stay here and secure the crime scene," Callen ordered. The rest of the team nodded, and Sam followed G out into the snow. They kept their guns dawn as they moved, retracing their steps through the snow back towards the clearing where the helicopter had landed.
They were almost there when gunfire echoed around the woods around them,. Both of the agents dropped down to the ground defensively; however it become apparent that the shooters were not shooting at them, but rather towards the clearing their helicopter was in. Keeping low to the ground Callen and Sam hurried through the trees until they could see the helicopter and the individuals that were shooting at it. Three men with high powered machine guns had opened fire of the helicopter, leaving uncountable holes in the machine. Callen felt his heart clench briefly when he saw the blood splatter on the shattered windscreen of the aircraft, knowing that their pilot was almost certainly dead, shot either directly, or by a stray bullet.
"Stop, Federal Agents," Sam yelled, emerging from the tree he had been sheltering behind. Callen followed his partners lead, emerging with his gun drawn. Yje men turned, and opned fire upon the agents. Sam and Callan, however, were ready for the frosty reception, and they both fired their guns. The three men fell, killed by the accuracy of Sam and Callan's shooting.
G hurried over to the bodies, kicking the guns away from the bodies and checking to see if any of them shooters had survived. While he was doing that Sam hurried over to the helicopter to check on the pilot. Sam shook his head sadly as he felt the man's neck. There was no pulse.
The helicopter itself, too, was badly damaged, and the long range radio had been shot out. Sam was reasonably sure that none of the team knew how to fly an helicopter, but Sam knew enough about engines and machines to know that the helicopter might not make it off the ground.
"The pilot's dead, and the radios been shot out." Sam told Callen as the other agent approached him.
"We've got incoming too," Callen said, pointing at the sky. Sam squinted, frowning as he saw the dark, omnibus clouds approaching the mountain range.
"We need to head back to the cabin. At least there we'll be able to stay warm until this blows itself out," Sam suggested. Callen nodded, and they collected what useful equipment they could carry form the helicopter, and began to hurry back towards the cabin. With the obvious rumble of thunder in the distance the two Agents found that they were able to make the journey in the quickest time possible.
By the time the two senior agents reached the clearing with the cabin the temperature had noticeably dropped, and the rumble of thunder was increasing in volume. They pushed open the door to the cabin, letting themselves in, before closing it with a snap. Kensi and Deeks emerged from the basement, guns in hands.
"Oh, it's just you guys," Kensi smiled, visibly relaxing.
"What did Hetty say?" Deeks asked, tucking his gun back into its holster.
"Nothing, we didn't get to talk to her." Callen shrugged walking further into the cabin.
"There were guys shooting up the helicopter when we got there. We shot them all, but our pilot was already dead and the radio and controls had been shot out. There was no way we would have been able to contact Hetty with that.
"So...what do we do?" Kensi asked.
"The storm has come in really quickly...there is no way a rescue helicopter is going to get launched in this. We're sheltered here; we'll stay here until the storm passes, and then Hetty will send in search and rescue, probably." Callen told them. Kensi nodded, smiling. Sam and Callen knew she was thinking about how she used to go camping with her dad. Only Callen noticed the frown on his younger brother's face, but knew that Deeks wouldn't want his feeling discussed in front of Sam or Kensi.
Despite how long they had worked together as a team G knew that Deeks still thought that Sam didn't think he deserved his place on the team, and was endlessly trying to earn the former SEALs approval and acceptance. It had only been after he had learned about how he and Marty shared a father that Callen had realised how insecure Deeks was, and Callen had resolved from that moment that he would try to support his little brother, and make him know how much he was appreciated by the rest of the team.
"Right, Sam and I will go and collect firewood, you two look around and see if you can find anything that will be useful." Callen delegated. The rest of the team nodded, and they split up. Sam and G went back outside and found a wheelbarrow and a wood shed, and began to load the dry logs into the wheelbarrow to be transported into the house.
"This was not how I planned to spend the next few days," Sam huffed, his breath coming out in wispy puffs of warm air, "I couldn't think of anything worse than being stuck in a cabin with Deeks. No offence, Callen, but you know he's going to whine."
Callen couldn't deny that Sam had a good point. When something minor was bothering him Deeks did tend to go on about it. It was only when something was really bothering him that Deeks clammed up. As Callen said to Jethro Gibbs the last time they spoke, when Callen told the team leader of the NCIS D.C office Major Crime response team about his new found little brother, Deeks would never shut up about a paper cut, but the time that Deeks got shot, or when he'd been kidnapped and injured by Dirty cops from LAPD, Deeks didn't say anything about the amount of pain he was in.
Gibbs had been un-sympathetic, and congratulated Callen on having his very own DiNozzo on the team and in his family. G had never met Gibbs' Senior field Agent, but Jethro spoke very highly of him.
"I'll try and make sure he doesn't get too annoying," Callen told Sam, who nodded.
"What do you think Hetty's doing right now?' he asked. Callen paused, thinking of the woman who was the closest thing to a mother he...and Deeks, had.
"She'll be pretty pissed that she can't contact us," he relied, wincing as he thought of how she would be acting towards Eric and Nell. His heart lightened, however, as he thought of Nell. He hoped she wasn't too worried about them. They were all experienced Agents, after all. A night or two in the snow wouldn't be a big deal. They had plenty of food, thanks to the supply of canned food that Everett had built up, and they had access to dry wood, so they would be able to keep themselves warm.
The only thing that could cause problems is the team being trapped together. The advantage of the way the team worked was that the only time they spent all their time together was when they were doing paperwork. At other times, like during cases, they would be working in their respective partnerships, Sam and G, Deeks and Kensi. Even in between cases there were ways to be alone. They could go to the gym or the shooting range, or just got to the boat shed, or even go home. Here, in the middle of nowhere, there wouldn't be these options, and G knew that it wouldn't take long for cabin fever to settle in.
Deeks carried the large stack of blankets he had found into the main room of the house, watching as Kensi looked through the cans of food Everett had stored in various cupboards.
"Does this feel wrong to you?" he asked. Kensi looked up at him, a confused look on her face.
"What do you mean?' she asked.
"I mean, I know Everett's dead, but we're still going to be using his stuff, and he's still going to be in the house. Doesn't this count as destroying a crime scene?"
Kensi shrugged, "well, we've sealed the basement as a crime scene, and we've taken photographs, so that's the best we can do. As for the food, well, you can not eat the food if it's too much for your conscience, but don't whinge to me when you get hungry, and I won't worry about you when you collapse and die due to starvation."
"We're not going to be out here that long, are we?" Deeks asked nervously.
Kensi smirked, "It depends on how soon the storm passes, but it'll be a few days, I think. The weather is supposed to be bad in L.A. for the next few days, so it's going to be horrid up here."
Deeks groaned and turned around, "sorry, dude," he said as he passed the closed door that led to the basement, "but I think I'm going to have to take advantage of your hospitality. I don't particularly want to starve to death, if it's okay with you."
Shaking her head slowly at Deeks' back as the former detective Kensi went back to sorting through the cans of food. While she too didn't feel comfortable about what they would have to do, it was a matter of survival.
Wrinkling her nose Kensi began to restock food, putting the cans of baked beans to the back as a last resort. She didn't want to have to live with three guys who were living off baked beans when there was nowhere else for her to escape to. Especially when she considered that they would be relying on a fire to keep warm. She let out a low laugh as she thought of a joke she had learned back in elementary school. Why did the dinosaurs become extinct? Because man created fire.
"What are you so chipper about?" Deeks asked, having returned form the back room of the cabin. Kensi jumped violently.
"Nothing," she said quickly, finishing off her task. Deeks grinned; knowing that he'd got Kensi off her guard, but didn't say anything. He didn't want to anger Kensi when there would be no escape. If Deeks managed to piss Kensi off then G and Sam would be angry with him too because they would also have to deal with the female agent on the team.
"That's all the blankets I could find," Deeks told her, putting the new stack with the ones that he had already collected. Do you think that it will be enough?"
Kensi pursed her lips at the stack. It was difficult to judge, but with the fire going, they should be alright...she hoped. She didn't particularly want to have to resort to snuggling with the rest of the team in order to keep warm.
"I think so," she said. Deeks frowned at the pile, but something out the window caught his eye, and he dashed over to it.
"Hey, Kensi, look!" he said, pointing out the window excitedly. Kensi rolled her eyes and walked over to the window, a smile flickering over her face as she watched snowflakes drifting down from the sky.
"It's snowing" Deeks said.
'Yes, obviously," Kensi replied dryly, "did you not see all the snow on the ground when we were hiking up here?"
Deeks shrugged and went back to watching the snow as it fell. Kensi shook her head at his childish fascination.
"Geeze, Deeks, anyone would think you've never been to the snow before," she said teasingly, before she began to set the fire, using the stack of small twigs, leaves and bark that sat in a compartment in the wall near the fireplace. It took a moment for Kensi to register the silence from the other side of the room, and looked over her shoulder. Deeks was still gazing out the window, but the smile had left his face. A sadness had crept into the other agent's eyes. Kensi frowned.
"Deeks?" she asked softly, getting back up and approaching him, brushing her hands on her pants as she went, "what's wrong?" she asked. Deeks remained silent and motionless, and Kensi felt worry building up within her. Reaching out she took Deeks' hand, surprised at how cool it was to touch.
"Deeks, are you okay?" she asked. Deeks blinked.
"My dad never took us to the snow. I asked him every year, but he'd just tell me to shut up, or hit me, and then walk away. After...after he was arrested my mom promised that one day she would take me to the snow, but she had to work heaps back in those days just to make sure we had enough to eat. Finally we were going to go, but then she got sick...that was the winter she died. After that I stopped caring about coming up here, and focused on surfing and school instead." When Deeks spoke there was a flat tone to his voice, and Kensi could feel the density of the emotions behind it. She tightened her grip of Deeks' hand.
"Come on," she said, tugging on it slightly. Deeks turned his face towards her, and Kensi could see the tears Deeks was fighting control. She reached out and wiped away the solitary tear that escaped with her thumb.
"My dad took me to the snow every year. We went skiing and sledding, and when I was fourteen he taught me how to snowboard. It was my favourite part of winter. For awhile after he died I didn't go back, but one day I decided that he wouldn't have wanted me to have stopped doing something I loved just because he wasn't there. Now, every winter, I go to the snow and do all the things that we used to do together."
Deeks smiled at her recollection, "It sounds like you two had a great time," he told her. Kensi smiled and nodded.
"We did, now come on, let's go."
"Go where? There's nowhere for us to go" Deeks asked.
Kensi smirked and glance over at the door that led outside, pulling Deeks towards it. The former detective put up no resistance as Kensi opened the door up and led him outside, closing the door once they were through. The pair stood in front of the cabin for a moment, before they caught sight of Sam and Callen working on the woodheap through the softly falling snow. Deeks went to call out to them, but Kensi's hand over his mouth stopped him. He looked down at his partner, his heart skipping a beat as he saw the mischief that shone in her eyes. . He watched as she crouched and gathered a ball of snow in her hands, carefully shaping it into a ball. Deeks bit his lip as Kensi inched through the snow, before she took aim and threw the snow ball as hard as she could...
Right into the back of Sam's head
Sam and Callen were loading up the wheelbarrow for what they hoped would be the last time when Callen noticed Kensi and Deeks come outside. He saw Kensi cover Deeks' mouth, and shoot him a warning glance. Sam had his back to the pair, so he didn't know they were there, so Callen said nothing and carried n as if nothing had changed, only able to hide his smile by using the skills he had picked up through his work. He lost control, however, when he heard the splat made by Kensi's snowball making contact with the back of Sam's bald head. Sam swore loudly and spun around drawing his gun, out of instinct, only to discover Deeks staring at him with a wide eyed, innocent and rather shocked look on his face, and Kensi doubled over in laughter.
"Very funny," Sam growled as Deeks lost it and started laughing too. Callen couldn't stop the smile that spread across his face.
"And you're encouraging them," Sam pouted. Callen shook his head.
"I had nothing to do with it," he proclaimed.
"I'm sure," Sam said as he finished loading the last of the wood, before he turned his back of Callen, leaving his partner to wheel the wheelbarrow over to the cabin so the wood could be stacked under the eaves near the door.
"Right, I hope they know this means war." Sam frowned, and scooped up a ball of snow.
"Deeks, run!" Kensi yelled, running back towards the cabin. Deeks followed her lead, and they both ducked behind the safety of the building, leaving the snowball to harmlessly hit the building.
Callen shook his head, "please tell me you missed on purpose," he said to Sam, who smirked in answer. Callen shook his head as Sam ducked the snowball Kensi sent his way, before sending his own one towards the younger team members, this time hitting Deeks in the face with enough force to knock the blonde surfer off his feet. Callen snorted in amusement as he finished stacking wood as Deeks jumped back up, brushing snow off his jacked, his face pink where the snowball had hit it. Sighing as he felt the bitterly cold wind tugging at his clothes, and not really wanting to risk any of his teammates getting sick, Callen walked to the door.
"Come on, the storms about to hit. You kids can play in the snow after the storm is over." G called. Deeks dove for the door, rubbing his arms.
"Good, it's cold out there," he told G as he passed over the threshold of the cabin. Sam and Kensi followed the blonde detective into the building, and Callen followed them over the threshold, pulling the door firmly shut behind him.
Kensi automatically went over to the fireplace and lit it, carefully feeding the fire until it was a steady blaze, and the team dropped onto the comfortable couch and chairs that were near the fire, enjoying the heat it produced as their clothes dried. Outside the wind swirled, picking up in strength as the gentle drifts of snow become heavier. The storm had obviously arrived.