A/N: Everybody gets writer's block, especially me, so Till Death Do Us Part is on hold for a little while. I do have a little preview available on my Tumblr though.
I got a prompt from a Tumblr anon, so I decided to do it. This can count as a post-3x24 piece.
The theme word of this story is "vividly". Don't think I'm just being repetitive XD
It's those split seconds, those brief yet pivotal moments in time that you remember. The small spaces that stay in your memory forever. Other moments are just like brief flashes, short glimmers that come to you every so often. Hazy images, memories of just emotion and nothing else.
Kensi Blye knows that most of this case will one day be a hazy memory. She won't remember what Sam and Deeks were bickering about, won't remember which side she playfully took. She won't remember much of what went down at the gun range, won't remember what ran through her mind when she decided to elbow her touchy partner.
She remembers vividly the moment she saw a bullet tear through Renko's chest. She can still feel the sharp sting of grief, as poignant now as it was then, can feel the adrenaline that tore through her as the bullet shot through the clear air. She can feel the mixture of guilt and anger that tore through her when she did not even spare her partner a second glance. Most of all, she hears the silence when she called Renko's name. The playful voice she will never hear again.
Everything just . . . hurts. She wants to curl up under a hundred blankets and wake up to realize this day was just a bad, bad nightmare.
"Kens?" she looks up into the soft and battered face of her partner. She's sitting on a couch back at the Mission, where she, Sam, and Deeks returned after Callen's arrest only to find Hetty gone and everyone else almost frozen in shock. Nell wasn't talking, not even to Eric. Sam was beyond angry but had to go home to his family. And Kensi, after about an hour of desperately looking for a way to help her team member, just sat down on the couch and remained there in silence until everyone (or so she thought) left.
If her mind wasn't utter chaos right now, she would feel bad for the way she's shut Deeks out during this case. She can see the same thoughts reflected in his own gaze as he looks down on her, although his is brimming with something else- worry.
"You're still here," she murmurs softly, gathering her legs up onto the couch. He sits down next to her hesitantly, lips pursed.
"Of course," he says gently.
"I thought you'd want to go home," she mumbles quietly. Deeks' mouth twitches into a slight smile.
"Didn't really want to be alone," he admits, but Kensi can sense what he really means. He was worried about her. Is worried about her.
"Hm," is all she says. He keeps watching her, his face as serious as Kensi thinks it can be. She's seen that face far too much today. And the one time he tried to lighten up for her, she shut him down.
She could really use his humor right about now.
"Hell of a day," he says. Kensi laughs without humor.
"Hell of a day," she repeats softly, eyes drifting downward to the ground.
Another vivid memory comes to mind- the explosion.
She's run away from plenty of explosions before. Too many to remember immediately. She recalls a hazy memory of a red vehicle, and Deeks- she had to get him away from it at all costs. That's all she can remember about it.
She can't exactly remember what was discussed in that warehouse and the car chase afterwards, but she clearly remembers the split seconds in which she didn't know whether first her partner, and then Sam, was alive. Fear. Panic. Preservation. Pain. Relief. Preservation again.
Her breath catches as the feelings of dread and panic rush back through her and her eyes shut as if to squeeze out the pain. Her hands ball into fists and she feels Deeks shift closer to her, his hand coming up to rest on her knee and give it a gentle squeeze. She leans in closer to her eyes remaining shut tight.
"I'm here, Kens," he murmurs, his voice firm and just . . . there. She nods quietly.
"I know," she whispers, anchoring on to the reassurance he offers, "Keep saying that."
"I'm here," he repeats louder, his hand moving from her knee to take her hand, encasing it in both of his. "I'm here, Kens, and we're okay, we're fine-"
Kensi snorts at his use of the word and smiles bleakly. "We're not fine."
"No, we're not," he agrees, "But you wanted me to keep talking for once, so I just-"
"Can it, Deeks."
She hopes he knows how much she appreciates, maybe even relishes his presence, his warmth radiating even after the hell they've been through. She even allows herself to wish Hetty had allowed him to stay with her at the hospital. In hindsight, she could have used his presence in the midst of the death and the panic and the bleak hopelessness of the hospital. She opens her eyes and risks a glance at Deeks, who stares steadily back at her.
They sit in silence for another few minutes, and Kensi watches the shifting shadows as the sun begins to set. She's starting to feel her cuts and burns from today again and just an ache in general. She wonders if her partner is going through the same.
"How's your arm?" she asks, removing her hands from his.
"You show me yours I'll show you mine," he replies. She purses her lips and chuckles.
"My arm is fine."
"But your elbow isn't," Deeks observes. "I'm not blind, Kens." She bites her bottom lip and them holds her arm out for him to examine. He gently pushes up her sleeve and looks at her elbow studiously.
"Think I'll live, Doc?" she teases half-heartedly. He smiles.
"I think I liked examining your cracked rib better," he jokes as he lets her pull her arm back. He offers his arm to Kensi, but she shakes her head, not wanting to see anymore.
She heaves a heavy sigh and leans back on the couch, closing her eyes again.
"Want to head home?" Deeks asks finally. She sits up again, tilting her head slightly.
"I don't want to," she admits, but not telling him why. She doesn't want this moment to end. She doesn't want to go home and be reminded of everything, have it all crash down on her.
"But you need to," Deeks points out gently. She knows he's right, they can't stay here all night. Hetty would-
Actually, she won't.
Suddenly, she's desperate to get out of the place where so many memories have been made. Memories that will do nothing but taunt her.
"Yours or mine?"
She knows that he won't crack a joke about her clumsy wording today, she wishes he would. He probably thinks it would offend her. And maybe it would. But still, she wishes he would.
Why waste a chance at a laugh when Mike Renko will never laugh again?
"Whichever you want," Deeks replies, noticing the flash of grief in her eyes. "Kens-"
"Yours," she answers, cutting him off. She's not ready for this talk. Not yet. Not ever, maybe.
For now, she'll just stick to "not yet".
"We can take your car," he says, "So you can-"
"Okay," she interrupts yet again, standing up. "You got beer?" Deeks chuckles, standing as well.
"Of course," he replies, "And ice cream."
"This isn't Christmas," she jokes gently. Deeks hesitates and holds his uninjured arm out to her. She accepts it with a thankful smile. "Home?" she asks in a mutes whisper. He meets her unsteady gaze with his.
The drive is mostly silent, save Deeks' occasional asking if she was still okay. Truth be told, she's beginning to get annoyed by his constant worry, but she's too tired to do anything about it. She hates it, but maybe she can just let herself be taken care of for a little while. She gives in to her selfish desire and leans over, resting her head on Deeks' shoulder as he drives, eventually dozing off.
She dreams of Callen.
She let him down. She should have stopped him, should have done something to keep him from getting to the point of no return. She didn't. She failed. God, she failed.
But still, she dreams of Callen. Of the hopeless, cold expression in his eyes as he shot the Chameleon. She remembers, vividly, the blankness, the almost robotic way he looked. She feels the emotions of the moment all over again- adrenaline, dread, more dread, hopelessness. She then feels, wait, she doesn't remember being lifted- no, this isn't a memory anymore-she wants to move but she can't do anything quite yet, the haze of sleep still shrouds her awareness.
"Deeks?" she mumbles groggily.
"We're here," Deeks whispers, "Go back to sleep, baby."
"Don't call me baby," she mutters before losing awareness again. As she drifts off, she thinks she hears him chuckle.
Kensi wakes up on his couch with Monty curled up at her feet. She faintly hears the sound of a shower being turned off and blinks rapidly, gaining consciousness slowly. She remains lying down, too comfortable to really move at all.
She doesn't really wake up until Deeks emerges from his bathroom.
Oh my God. Is he-?
Deeks is walking in front of her wearing only a simple white towel. His skin is still slightly damp and his hair clings to his face. His skin is slightly flushed and she can see his toned chest and defined muscles rippling as he walks-even injured-
She should NOT be having these thoughts right now. Ever, for that matter. Not when they have things to take care of, when-
Vividly, another memory hits her like a train and she flinches visibly. Suddenly, she's trembling, she can feel abandonment, pain, confusion, hopelessness, always hopelessness-
How could she just leave them to help Callen alone, how could she not even say goodbye or-
It's like Jack all over again, and she hates making the comparison but she can't help it. She just feels so alone and she's sick of being lonely . . .
"Kensi?" He's there, crouching in front of her, she doesn't know how, but he's there. "Kens, what's wrong? Talk to me, Kens-"
She squeezes her eyes shut, pushing, forcing back the pain and the memories. She won't do it now, not in front of Deeks. She's lost everything, she cannot lose her dignity. She can't make Deeks deal with a broken Kensi. She won't, she won't.
"I'm-I'm fine," she stammers in a whisper, opening her eyes. Deeks is crouching in front of her face, eyes wary and probing. Still wearing nothing but a towel.
"You say you're fine when-"
"I'm not fine," Kensi finishes, "I know, Deeks, just . . . let me be not fine for a bit, okay?" she pleads. Deeks regards her warily.
"That's hard, Kens," he admits softly, his voice barely above a hushed whisper.
"Harder than putting actual clothes on?" she quips, attempting to change the subject. Deeks, thankfully, decides to go along with it. He smiles.
"Harder than how hard you have to try to not pounce on me right now?" he returns easily, the humor not quite reaching his eyes. "I thought you were still asleep. You sure you don't want to talk?"
"Not yet," she says, and regrets it instantly. She's just given him a loophole, and she knows how much he likes them, how well he uses them.
He's thinking the same, she can tell by the slight glint in his eyes as he says, "Okay." He stands then, giving her a far too nice view as he turns around. There is no way he is not doing that on purpose. He's walking away slowly . . . it's like their undercover op all over again. She rolls her eyes.
She instantly regrets letting him go because as soon as he disappears behind the bathroom door, the vivid memories return.
It's the moment in which Deeks tried to cheer her up outside of the seedy motel. She can't exactly recall what he had been joking about . . . something about under the covers ops . . . but that's not what sticks with her. It's the moment after the joking.
"And thank you."
She hadn't missed the look he sent her way, in fact, it's the most solid memory she's retained all day. And it makes her feel terrible. Her most vivid memory should be of Renko's final smile, Hetty's last instructions, Callen's final joke to them before all hell broke lose. But no, it's of a single, likely meaningless glance.
That's the dangerous part.
She doesn't want it to be meaningless.
She replays the glance over and over in her hand, analyzing it and stupidly wanting it to mean, to be put simply, something more. As Hetty said. That stupid glance as become her anchor, keeping her afloat when the events of the day threaten to drown her.
That is not acceptable. Not for Kensi Blye. She can't, she won't rely on anyone else for any reason at all. It's done her no good in life so far, and it certainly won't do her any good now.
When she pushes the moment away, once again she's assaulted by flashbacks. Heat. Burning. Relief. Dread.
"Oh, God," she whispers brokenly, sitting up and trying to clear her head.
She doesn't notice Deeks re-enter the room and cross over to sit next to her. She doesn't even open her eyes until he puts his hand on her shoulder.
"I'm here, Kens," he murmurs. She leans into the touch, repeating his words over in her head. He's here, she's okay, but Callen, God, Callen-
"Callen-" she whispers.
"We'll get him out, Kens, you know we will," Deeks says, his voice ringing with determination, "You and I, Kens. Us."
"Us," she repeats slowly. She anchors onto the statement, hating every second of it, but needing to all the same.
"But not tonight," Deeks murmurs, "Tonight . . ." he trails off, not quite knowing how to complete the statement. Kensi looks up at him, meeting his gaze, her eyes wary.
"Tonight?" she prompts, hating how her voice trembles.
"Tonight . . . we're going to watch a movie."
Typical Deeks. Kensi can't help but smile at how normal his statement sounds. Under different circumstances, it would be a normal thing. She can't count how many nights she's spent with her partner, eating burgers and drinking beers while watching a movie.
He moves, and Kensi watches him as he goes over to his television and dig through his collection. He returns to her holding three movies in his hands.
"Not sure which you would prefer," he says, setting them down in her lap. She gives him a short nod of thanks and fingers through her choices.
Raiders of the Lost Ark, 27 Dresses, and a Star Trek movie. She holds up 27 Dresses with a smirk.
"You like chick flicks?" she asks. He snorts.
"I thought you might like to see it sometime, and it was for sale." Kensi's surprisingly touched by the sentiment, and grants her partner a small smile.
"Maybe some other night," she murmurs, pulling out Raiders. "Now you won't be able to tease me," she says as she hands it to him. He winks at her before taking the other two movies and going back over to his television. He pops in Raiders and puts away the others before re-joining her on the couch.
Deeks must be in pain. He must be. He was worse off after the explosion, and she knows he's probably worried about her right now too. She isn't exactly giving off normal vibes. But she can't put on her brave face. Deeks is one of the few people in her life who can see right through Stonewall Blye.
She's only half-watching the movie. Kensi's mind just keeps drifting from one hazy event from the day to the next. The emotions are there, not as poignant, but still there. She feels vulnerable, then she feels strong. A moment of clarity and then confusion all over again.
"She reminds me of you," Deeks says suddenly, pointing at the screen. Kensi feels as if she's been pulled from the clouds.
"Huh?" Deeks ignores her obvious distraction and continues.
"The brunette arguing with Indy," he clarifies. "Marion Ravenwood. She and Indy had a thing in the past-"
"Not like ours," Deeks says, grinning, "A different kind of thing."
She wonders if he wishes their thing was like that as much as she sometimes does.
"What kind?" she asks.
"Seriously? You have to ask?"
"I'm just asking," she says, eyes sparkling.
"It's kind of a dumb question," he responds.
"Just keeping it on your level is all," she quips playfully.
Deeks just grins at her. She's glad for it. She needs this, needs their banter to keep her up. Afloat.
"But why am I like her?" she asks, jumping a little at the sight of the tavern on fire. Her mind flashes back to the warehouse. She hears the sound of breaking metal and wood, debris crashing to the ground, feels the heat of the-
"You've both had your hearts broken," Deeks begins, and Kensi is thrust back into reality again. She narrows her eyes, but he goes on. "And despite that, you're both still able to kick serious ass." This makes her lips twitch slightly. "You can both fight, hate men-"
"I do not hate men!"
"You're always equipped with comebacks, although yours can be sort of lame. Very lame, actually-"
"Yeah?" He looks over at her with a playful expression, and for a long moment, she simply looks back at him, relishing this moment. Wanting to commit his eyes to memory. Let these images replace the repulsive and sickening ones making rounds in her mind today.
"I get the picture," she says softly, scooting closer to him and sighing.
"You tired?" Deeks asks.
"No," she says immediately, even though they both are aware that the statement is a total lie. Deeks shifts closer to her until their bodies are almost touching and his arm moves to wrap around her shoulder, pulling her into him. She's too drained to fight, and even if she wasn't she would probably allow it. She snuggles closer, restin g her head on his chest, right over his heart.
The beat is steady, relaxing. Thump, thump, thump. She knows why babies like to listen to their mothers' heartbeats. It's comforting. A sign of life.
"I think you're tired," Deeks murmurs, resting his head on top of hers.
"I'm not," she insists, stifling a yawn. He snickers, and she feels the rise and fall of his chest as he does.
"Whatever you say," he says with a small smile.
She manages to somewhat get into the movie (it's actually very good) until the scene when the car Indy believes Marion is in explodes. Kensi flinches, almost jumping out of Deeks' arms, and his other arm instinctively moves to wrap around her, encircling her in his embrace. She's still sore, but she'll endure it if he'll just keep his arms around her.
"Tell me what's going on," he whispers, "I'm your partner, Kens, you can tell me anything." She's trembling again, the weight of everything crashing down on her.
"Deeks," she whispers.
"I'm here," he whispers, pressing a feather light kiss to the top of her head.
She shuts her eyes as tightly as possible and she feels him reach for the remote and turn the movie off.
"I hate this," she says, "I hate not knowing what to do."
"We can fix it, Kens," Deeks says, "Just like when Granger-"
"It's different, Deeks," Kensi hisses, "Callen actually killed the son of a bitch!" She leans into him more, breathing in his scent.
"We'll fix it," he insists. She leaves the subject, knowing that Deeks is saying all he can say without being an optimist. "We'll try, Kens."
"Hetty," she whispers, "She just left. I can't go searching for her again, Deeks, I'm tired-" Her hands grip his shirt. "I'm tired, Deeks."
"I know, Kens, I know," he murmurs soothingly, his fingers tracing calming patterns on her arms. "Sleep. I'll be here."
"I can't sleep, Deeks," she says, clinging to him even more.
She shouldn't have let it get this far. This is a bad idea, a very bad idea. Nobody is allowed to see her like this, she's one of the guys. The strong one. She can't let herself crumble, not once, not ever. And certainly not in front of Deeks.
"And you're the only one I trust."
Can she trust him with this much? Allow him to see her in her worst state, to know her weaknesses? He'll never use them against her, but she still doesn't want to . . .
"Don't do this to me, Kensi," he whispers. "Tell me."
He's right, she admits to herself guiltily. This isn't just about her anymore. This is about them. Their thing. She takes a deep breath before speaking.
"I keep remembering . . . all the moments . . . I'll dream about them, Deeks." He gently pulls her closer, one of his arms shifting so he can stroke her hair. "I'm being ridiculous, I know . . ."
"No you're not," Deeks says, continuing to stroke her hair.
"I shouldn't be like, this, though," Kensi insists, "I shouldn't let myself be so . . . so-so vulnerable." She hates it, hates having to use the word, but there's really no other way to describe what she is now. "I'm weak," she spits out.
"You're not weak," Deeks says, "Kens, you're amazing." She snorts, unbelieving. "I'm serious Kensi. You're incredible. You're strong, beautiful-"
"Not after today," Kensi says, attempting to lighten the mood. This conversation's taking a dangerous turn.
"Especially after today," Deeks says. Kensi turns to look up at him, and meets his gaze. "You're beautiful when you put on a brave face, you're beautiful when you shut your eyes to block the pain, you're always beautiful, Kens."
"Deeks," she whispers, her brain going fuzzy, memories of fire being replaced by a new burning sensation of a completely different kind."Sometimes I wonder how to go on," she admits.
"We remember that for every bad time, there's happiness too."
"Where?" she asks, eyes drifting down to his lips.
"Well that's a bit deep for me," he jokes quietly. His face is too close to hers, all she has to do is lean up just a little bit and-
He's the one who pulls away, gently letting her go and standing up. She can't help the pout that appears on her face. If he notices it, he doesn't let on.
"I should, um, take you home," he murmurs.
That's a problem.
She doesn't want to go home. Back to the loneliness, the darkness. The memories.
She says nothing, but she doesn't move either. She won't ask him if she can stay. That would be . . . a bit much.
"Unless . . . " Deeks says uncertainly, "You'd like to crash on my bed." Kensi gives him a small smile.
"It's late," she says, "Don't feel like getting on the road." She then smirks. "And if I'm taking your bed, you'd better take the couch." He grins.
"Naturally," he says, heading to his bedroom. He re-emerges moments later holding a t-shirt and some jogging shorts. "This float your boat?"
"I prefer something that doesn't make me gag," Kensi says, smiling and biting her bottom lip. She likes this. The teasing. She could get used to it.
Any other night, she might let herself kiss him. Any other night, she give in.
Just not tonight. Not when Callen's in jail and Hetty is gone and Sam is without his partner.
She takes the clothes and changes into them in his bathroom, fighting the temptation to peek through his cabinets and see what kind of things he keeps there.
"You're not gonna strike a pose?" Deeks whines when she comes back into the living room. She rolls her eyes but smiles. His t-shirt feels like it comes from one of the surf shops frequented by tourists. She can almost smell the sea breeze, hear the gulls squawking, see the ocean waves crashing against the shore. She's had to roll his jogging shorts several time, and it's a good thing he's a clean freak because she doesn't think his dirty shorts would be very pleasant.
For the first time that day, Kensi Blye feels peace. Standing in Marty Deeks' home in his shirt and shorts as he gives her that stupid grin of his that sends the butterflies in her stomach fluttering.
She feels peace when she grips his arm after he turns the lamp in his bedroom off and asks him to stay. She feels peace when his arms wrap around her and pull her into him once again. She feels peace when he presses his lips against her temple and tells her to have sweet dreams.
Kensi knows that most of this case will one day be a hazy memory. She won't remember what Sam and Deeks were bickering about, won't remember which side she playfully took. She won't remember much of what went down at the gun range, won't remember what ran through her mind when she decided to elbow her touchy partner.
They'll get Callen out of jail, bring him back where he belongs. They'll bring Hetty back and then they'll put more killers behind bars.
Deeks was right. There's always happiness. And with happiness comes peace- the peace she feels in her partner's arms.
She wakes up the next morning to see Deeks smiling lazily at her, his face glowing in the morning light. And in that moment, she knows that the horrific events of the previous days won't stick. She'll fight past them as she always does- with him by her side. She won't remember the blank look in Callen's eyes or the feel of Renko's warm blood on her hands.
No. That's no ways to live.
She'll remember vividly Mike Renko's final smile and joke. She'll remember Hunter's undeniable gritty strength. She'll easily recall the moment Sam emerged from the smoke, alive and well. She'll never forget the smiles exchanged between her partner and herself last night.
With that in mind, she leans in and presses a gentle kiss to his lips, pulling him closer. And when she pulls away, she knows that she will always remember the awed and delighted look in his eyes. Vividly.
Psh, heck yeah I had to do a hopeful ending! :D I hope you enjoyed! Reviews are most certainly appreciated!