I want to thank everyone that's following this story and has taken the time to review. I really didn't see it getting that kind of response. I have to say, I don't mind being wrong. This chapter may start out slow, it's mostly a build up kind of thing, but most of the dialogue is necessary. (The rest is simply because I enjoy Deeks pushing people's buttons, and wanted some form of semblance between the characters' dynamics on the show.)
Chapter 2: Every Move You Make
Kensi isn't exactly in a good mood as she walks through the front doors. She'd been halfway to Vegas to meet up with an old friend for a weekend of fun before her phone started chiming, forcing her to turn around and drive the two hours back to the city. As she approaches the bullpen, she sees Deeks sitting on his desk, Monty dutifully resting at his feet. She can tell from her partner's posture that something's wrong, not that she didn't already know as much after receiving Eric's text informing her that her day off had been cut short. Deeks is focused on a spot on the floor, one arm draped lazily across his stomach as he twirls Sam's letter opener between his fingers with the other. It's his 'thinking' stance.
"Don't hurt yourself there, Deeks," she jokes, placing her bag on her desk, startling him out of his reverie. He absently looks to the letter opener in his hand before setting it back on Sam's desk, moving to sit in his chair before meeting her eyes. He gives her a lazy, half smile and Kensi feels her stomach drop.
Deeks is a myriad of facial expressions, most too similar for the average Joe to distinguish between, but Kensi knows her partner and she's learned to catalogue all of his idiosyncrasies. The smile he's giving now is the one he reserves for trouble, the one that says 'Alright, let's pretend that everything's okay.' It's not one of her favorites.
She settles into her seat, leaning her elbows on the desk before interlocking her fingers, her chin resting on top. "I'm guessing you already know what's going on, or are you making that pouty face because you've got to cancel your plans?"
"You talk to Hetty yet?" he asks, ignoring her question. Kensi lets the smile fall from her face when she hears his serious tone. He's watching his fingers, occasionally glancing up to gauge her reaction. Any thought that they could wrap up whatever this is in time to salvage her weekend gets up and runs out the door. Deeks not trying to smooth things over with a joke is usually indicative of something bad. Kensi drops her hands to her desk, grasping on to her elbows as she leans forward, preparing for the worst. That lazy smile had spelled trouble.
"No. I just got a text from Eric. He didn't give any details."
Deeks purses his lips, nodding slowly as though it were the answer he'd been expecting. "I found a package on my doorstep this morning," he looks up, making sure he has her attention before continuing, "It had pictures of us in it."
"Us, as in…you and me?" she asks, noticing that no one else is in the office.
"Us as in all of us. You, me, Eric, Sam, the whole team."
"What were we doing?" She tries hard to school her expression, carefully so as not to show how unnerved his news is making her. But then she hears that breathy, humorless laugh he does sometimes, and she knows that 'trouble' has just been upgraded to 'FUBAR'.
"They were just pictures of us doing the norm, you know? Day to day kind of stuff." He squints his eyes before rapping his knuckles on the wooden desk, leaning forward to mirror her pose. "Some of 'em were taken while we were at home. They know where we live, where we shop…Kens, we didn't even know they were watching us."
"Who are 'they'?" Her voice is small, almost hushed as she takes in the implications of what he's just told her. She hasn't even seen the pictures yet, but she already feels violated, that unsettling tickle you get on the back of your neck when you feel as though you're being watched showing up a little late.
Deeks just shakes his head, throwing a hand up in the air as he half-heartedly shrugs a shoulder. "Don't know. Eric's waiting for the lab to send him scans of the photos."
Kensi reaches across the desk for the small container of paper clips resting on the edge. She digs around the tangled clips and random straw paper until she finds a ponytail holder. "Any idea how long that'll be?" she asks as she stands and bends over at the waist, letting her hair fall forward as she works her fingers through it in place of a brush. Deeks doesn't answer right away, and when she stands, tossing her ponytail back, she realizes he had been watching her.
He clears his throat, and turns so she can't see his face, absently rubbing at the knot on the back of his head. "Uh, no. But it probably won't be long, they've already had 'em a couple of hours now."
Kensi quirks an eyebrow, frowning. "A couple of hours? How long ago did you get the package?"
"Around eight," he tells her, causing her frown to deepen. It's been almost three hours since Deeks found the photos. Why isn't the rest of the team there?
"Where's everyone else?" she asks.
"Eric and Hetty are upstairs. Nell's on her way. Callen went to pick Sam up at the airport. He and his family were supposed to be spending Fall Break in Florida, I think—wherever his relatives live."
"Sam's from New York," Kensi informs him, still not happy that she's the last to know about an apparent stalker.
"His wife's family then. They were supposed to take the kids to see Disney World or something." He lets out a frustrated huff of air, rubbing his hands tiredly across his face before leaning forward, his forehead resting on the desk. "This sucks."
Kensi quietly laughs at his muffled declaration. "I admire your ability to state the obvious, Deeks." She tries to say it without any emotion, aiming for a deadpan approach, but Deeks can hear the smile in her voice, even without looking up.
"Just one of the many reasons you love me. Right, Fern?" It's his turn to laugh when her only response is a very indignant and decidedly unladylike snort. He looks up smiling, a witty retort on the tip of his tongue when Monty decides to interrupt, his nose pressing into Deeks' side. He's whining, shifting from paw to paw.
"You gotta go, boy? Huh, Monty?" Deeks stands and reaches for the leash when Monty responds to his questions with a small bark and an enthusiastic wag of the tail. "Come on, boy. Let's go."
"Don't forget a plastic baggy," Kensi calls after him, causing him to turn and look at her. He's too busy giving his partner his best impression of the 'stink-eye' to see where he's going, and Monty may be a certified service dog, but the pup obviously was not trained to assist the visually impaired.
Just as Deeks turns back to face the door, he trips over the step in the entryway, sending him flying into the shoulder of the unfortunate man attempting to enter the building.
"Hey, watch it!" the man says as his opened water bottle falls through his fingers, bouncing off the top of Monty's head. The pup immediately backs away, stopping long enough to bark at the man.
"Sorry, man. Sorry," Deeks hurriedly apologizes, quickly bending to pick up the steadily emptying water bottle. "Here," he says, handing the bottle back to the man. Deeks recognizes him. He's seen him many times, working around the office, running errands for Hetty. Though Deeks has been working with NCIS for over two years, he still hasn't gotten to know everyone that works in the building, and as a result has no idea what the man's name is. "I apologize. I wasn't watching where I was going."
"Obviously," the man says, a slight smile on his face as he brushes the water stains on his shirt, clearly not as upset as he could be. Deeks takes that as a good sign.
"Monty, hush!" Deeks commands when Monty continues to whine and bark before Deeks remembers the reason he had been heading outside in the first place. "Again, man. I'm sorry. I was in a hurry. Had to get my dog outside so he can pee on my partner's car." The last bit is said a little louder than necessary, causing Deeks to smile when he hears an annoyed Kensi yell back, "I heard that."
"He seems insistent, you better hurry," the man says, replacing the lid on his bottle before walking off with a smile despite his wet shirt.
"Come on boy. You wanna whiz on Kensi's tires?"
Deeks doesn't even have a chance to get Monty close to Kensi's car. As soon as they exit the front doors, Monty immediately heads for the opposing wall, sniffing quickly before hiking a leg.
"Pissing on the building. Hetty's gonna love that." As soon as Monty's finished, he begins sniffing around, happily trotting around the side of the building. Deeks contently follows behind, not wanting to rush the dog in case he's got a little more business to finish.
As they approach the edge of the property, Deeks stops and pulls on the leash as Nell's mini-cooper speeds into the parking lot. He watches as she quickly opens the car door, and immediately his eyebrows rise in surprise.
She moves to the back of the car, opening the hatch before reaching for a deep-green bag. She hurriedly removes her heels—they're small, but it's more than Deeks can ever remember seeing her wearing. She's trying to slip her feet into a pair of flats when Deeks' low whistle startles her, wide eyes turning to meet mischievous blue.
"Not a word," she warns, continuing to put on her shoes before reaching for a white cardigan to cover her bare arms and strapless dress. Her makeup, while still light, is a lot darker than he's used to seeing her wear, and her hair is styled a little more than usual. Even with her head tilted down, Deeks can see the blush coloring her chest and neck.
"Nell, am I witnessing a walk of shame?" he asks.
"What? No," she answers quickly, her tone sharp and indignant.
Not to be deterred, Deeks continues to smile, waving a hand to gesture to the slightly shorter-than-usual dress. "Then what's with the get-up?"
"I was supposed to have brunch with an old friend," she tells him matter-of-factly, meeting his eyes. Deeks can see she's telling the truth, and he knows there probably isn't anything to it. But a guy can't pass up an opportunity like this.
"Is this a male friend?"
She looks back down, hiding her heels in the green bag before shutting the car's back hatch. "Does it matter?" she asks, keeping her face hidden.
"I'm taking that as a 'yes'," and his grin only widens.
"He's almost sixty, Deeks." She looks at him, her head tilted. She sounds exasperated, as though she were speaking with a small child who keeps repeatedly asking why he has to go to bed, and she's one second away from screaming because I said so, that's why.
Deeks nods his head thoughtfully. "So you go for the older guys. Poor Eric. Guy never had a chance."
"That's not true," she says, pushing past him as she heads towards the building's main entrance.
"So, Eric does have a chance?"
She stops and turns to face him, her eyes once again taking on that deer-in-the-headlight look. "What? I meant I don't go for the older guys."
His lips curl up into a crooked smile. "Didn't answer my question."
"First of all, this man is gay. Second, he helped me get my first job out of college. He likes to get together every now and then to see how I'm doing. Kind of like a surrogate uncle or something."
"All right, whatever," he says, letting her off the hook. Kind of. "So, can I ask you one more thing?"
"What?" She can't help sounding a little suspicious.
"How long have you been doing the whole techie by day, vixen by night thing?"
"Don't we have a case to work on?" she asks, absently pulling the hem of her dress down and wrapping the cardigan tighter around her chest.
Her question forces the image of her painting her toes in what should be the safety of her own home to the forefront of his mind, effectively ending any teasing.
"Yeah, we do."
Nell frowns as Deeks pulls on Monty's leash, directing all three of them back to Ops.
"Have you spoken to Eric, yet?"
As expected, the lab didn't find any prints on the bag or photos not belonging to Deeks. The street cameras around Deeks' apartment showed a man in a Lakers cap dropping off the package. The man had obviously known where the cameras were, because he was careful not to look at them, and if he had a car, it was parked out of site.
Nell absently sorts through the images on the screen, arranging them into different groups, trying to determine when each photo was taken, trying even harder not to freak out when she comes across a picture of herself, so obviously clueless to the cameraman's presence.
It's unusually quiet in Ops, most people having taken advantage of the long weekend. The only sounds Nell's aware of are the steady whir of the computers and the annoyingly constant sound of Eric's foot bouncing up and down in his own attempt at not freaking out.
"Hmm?" he asks, looking up from the screen, his pen dangling awkwardly between his teeth.
"Can you keep still?" she asks, making an effort to sound anything but aggravated.
He just stares at her a moment, confused because he's almost certain he hadn't been moving. But then he hears it, the steady 'squeak' as the sole of his shoe rubs against the metal bar beneath the chair. He gives an embarrassed laugh before slowly setting his foot on the ground, removing the pen from his mouth as he writes down another estimated date.
Hetty had asked each of them to look through the pictures and write down when and where they thought they were taken. The fact that some of them appear to be months old only gave the team even more reason to worry.
"Someone want to explain to me how no one noticed a man with a camera following them around?" Hetty asks as she looks at the numerous photos displayed on the large screen. There are only two taken of her, but they're enough to freak her out.
"None of us noticed it, Hetty," Eric tells her attempting to quiet her anger, assuming she's upset that the stalker had managed to fool even her.
"That's exactly my point, Mr. Beale. None of us noticed." She shakes her head disapprovingly, her hands knotting in tight fists at her sides. "What do you think the director's going to say when he learns that an entire team of the agency's supposedly elite operatives managed to go months without noticing something like that?"
Recognizing a rhetorical question when he hears one, Eric purses his lips and looks to Nell, sharing a defeated look before going back to the photos.
Kensi and Deeks keep glancing at one another, silently encouraging the other to make the first move. Deeks keeps casting his eyes to Callen, slightly tilting his head, telling her without words 'you do it'.
Kensi just scrunches her face before shaking her head no. After a few moments of the quiet back-and-forth, she leans over and taps Callen on the shoulder before gesturing to her partner, indicating that Deeks has something he'd like to say.
Deeks levels her with a glare, clearly not happy with her subterfuge. He looks back to Callen who's watching him expectantly.
Deeks licks his lips, before slowly pointing to Sam, carefully mouthing the words 'talk to him' as he does so. Callen looks to Sam, takes in his partner's furrowed brow and hunched shoulders before looking back to Deeks, frowning and quickly shaking his head 'no' before turning back to the papers in front of him.
Deeks cast his eyes sideways, insuring that Sam isn't watching before tossing a balled up piece of paper at Callen's desk. When Callen looks up angrily, Deeks tilts his head to Sam, eyes widening pleadingly.
Callen once again shakes his head 'no' giving Deeks a look that clearly asks are you crazy.
'He's your partner' Deeks mouths, and Kensi nods in agreement.
"I can hear you, you know." Sam doesn't even look up, he just keeps his eyes focused on the pictures in front of him.
"That's really impressive, seeing how we weren't actually talking," Deeks quips, turning to face the man sitting next to him. Sam slowly turns his head, his elbows still resting on the desk.
"I'm not in the mood, Deeks," he grits out, not bothering to hide the ire in his voice.
"Yeah, see, I kinda got that from the whole brooding thing you got going on. I'd just—we'd just like to point out that this guy even got through Hetty's defenses. There's no need for you to be embarrassed—"
"I'm not embarrassed," Sam interrupts. "I'm pissed. There's a difference, Deeks."
"Noted," Deeks says, turning back to the pictures on his own desk, seemingly giving the impression that he's going to let the subject drop. Two seconds barely pass before he's turning back towards Sam, one hand held up in a placating gesture. "Just wanna say that when something embarrasses you, you tend to get pissed, so saying you're not embarrassed—"
"Shut up, Deeks," Kensi whispers in a singsong voice when she sees Sam remove his elbows from the table. Deeks snaps his jaw closed, his teeth clicking together as he smiles apologetically, once again focusing his attention on his own desk.
It had quickly become apparent that Sam was angry the moment he stormed into the bullpen. Compared to Sam, Hetty appeared to be only mildly perturbed at the news of the photos. Deeks isn't really certain if Sam's bad mood is elevated because he had to leave his family behind in Florida or if it's simply because the man that had drilled the importance of proper safety protocol into Deeks' head after his shooting has just been caught with his pants metaphorically down.
Either way, poking at a pissed off bear probably isn't the best move.
"Hey, guys. You need to see this." Eric's soft declaration, absent of his trademark whistle instantly puts the agents on guard. Standing, they each follow Eric back to Ops, none bothering to ask him what's wrong, all knowing they're about to find out anyway.
"This was just sent to the NCIS headquarters in D.C. They forwarded it to us as soon as they realized what it was." Nell gestures to the screen before she pushes play.
As soon as the video starts, Deeks feels Kensi tense beside him, his body unwillingly doing the same. It's footage taken from inside Kensi's living room. Judging from the angle of the shot, the camera was most likely hidden in one of the light fixtures on the ceiling.
There's no audio, just a slightly grainy image of Kensi's living room. After a few more moments of staring at an empty room, Kensi suddenly enters the screen. She's running a towel through her hair as she walks towards the front door. Thanks to the angle of the camera, they can't see who's at the door until he walks into the room.
Deeks sees Sam look at him through the corner of his eyes as the image of him caring a bag of take-out and a six-pack of beer enters the screen. He remembers that day; he had talked Kensi into letting him watch the game at her place, offering to buy her dinner in exchange.
"This was over two months ago," Kensi tells them, her face calm and stoic. Deeks feels slightly proud of her showing no outward signs of distress; because personally, he's feeling a whirlwind of emotions.
"Keep watching," Hetty says, her eyes still on the screen.
Fifteen seconds into the video, Kensi shows her first sign of discomfort.
Someone had applied computer graphics, aligning a pair of rifle crosshairs over both Kensi and Deeks' heads. When the video ends with a loud gunshot echoing through the speakers as a flash of white light takes over the screen, Kensi jumps, her arm bumping into Deeks'.
No one says anything. Kensi keeps looking at the screen and the translucent arrow positioned over the image of her living room waiting for someone to press play.
"When the facial rec. software popped out your names, they emailed it to us," Eric says after a few moments of tense silence when it becomes obvious no one else is willing to speak first, each too busy watching Kensi and Deeks for a reaction.
"You said this was from two months ago?" Callen asks, continuing after Deeks gives him a terse nod. "Stands to reason the camera's still there."
"Go get it," Hetty says, "Check and see if there's any more while you're at it."
While Sam collects the equipment needed to search for bugs, Kensi paces back and forth between the two rows of desks, nervously chewing on her thumbnail. No one says anything to her, because what can they say? Hey, sorry some creep's been watching you.
They all know the sanctity that's supposed to come with your home. You're supposed to feel safe.
When Sam walks back into the bullpen with a large, black bag in his hands, the team stands as one and heads out the door, Monty close behind. They're quiet, each wondering how long someone's been watching them, how much of their privacy has been taken away.
As they approach Kensi's car, Monty begins to act up. Whining, short barks as he pulls away from Deeks, circling the Cadillac.
Kensi watches the dog with trepidation. Her nerves are already shot, and Monty's unusual behavior isn't helping. "What's he doing?"
Deeks doesn't answer her. He simply grabs her shoulder, stopping her from going any further. "Stay here."
He slowly approaches the driver's side, watching as Monty lays down, his tail tucked at his side, his nose pointing to the driver's door. "Whaddya find, boy?" he asks, already knowing. Deeks had trained Monty from a pup, he knows what Monty's trying to tell him. He's vaguely aware of Sam and Callen walking towards Kensi, asking her what it is he's doing. He ignores them, all his focus trained on the dog lying on the ground, soft whimpers begging for his owner's attention.
He carefully drops to his knees, gravel digging into the palms of his hands as he lowers himself down. It doesn't take long for him to find what he's looking for. Something that doesn't belong.
"Good boy, Monty. Come on. Let's go." Deeks grabs the dog by the abandoned leash, quickly standing and pulling him towards his team members. He doesn't stop once he reaches them, simply pushes on Kensi's shoulder, steering her towards the edge of the parking lot, far away from her car.
"What the hell?" Sam asks, following close behind.
"There's a bomb under Kensi's car." He keeps walking, slamming the front door open as he all but runs into the building.
It takes a moment for his words to fully register. "A bomb? Under my car?"
"Yep," Deeks says, not missing a step as he runs up the stairs, Monty's leash still in his hand. "Duct tape, wires…the whole gambit. Big bomb, attached to your undercarriage."
Kensi knows she should probably be worried, that a normal person would most likely panic. As Deeks hurries into Ops, the doors barely opening before he slips in, she wonders what it says about her life that all she feels is pissed.
Hetty looks as though she's about to remind Deeks of the No-Dogs-In-Ops rule, but stops when she sees the look on her agents faces. "What's happened?"
Mail clerks, technicians, wardrobe assistants, the guy Deeks spilt water on, agents, data analysts, and Hetty all watch from the safety of the front doors as bomb technicians search the remainder of the parking lot for additional devices.
The bomb beneath Kensi's car had been triggered to go off as soon as she started the engine. The second device had been wired the same as the first, carefully placed beneath Sam's car. Deeks tries not to think about the fact that he almost left Monty at home.
As soon as the lead bomb technician gives Hetty a thumb's up, indicating that all's clear, she turns and faces the many people under her command. The whole idea of housing their base of operations in a Spanish styled hacienda on the outskirts of the city was to help garner privacy and discretion. The fact that seven individuals working at said base have been stalked for at least two months greatly endangered the entire outfit, but it had still been considered safe. At least, until the discovery of the bombs.
The stalker knows where they work. Their home away from home.
Hetty raises a hand, insuring she has everyone's attention. "As of right now, everyone in this building has officially been compromised."
Deeks can feel the worry spreading amongst the crowd as though it were tangible. "What does that mean?"
"It means we're shutting down, Mr. Deeks. It also means that you lot are no longer safe in the open," she says as she points to each of the team in turn, including Eric and Nell.
Sam bounces on the balls of his feet, his thumbs tucked into his front pockets. He looks around the crowd, taking in the nervous faces. "I hope you're including yourself in that assessment, Hetty."
"Oh, I am, Mr. Hanna, but someone has to stand guard."
EMOSEWA ERA SWEIVER