Thoughts We Cannot Entertain
It's been a weird case.
There's a double murder, a baby, and a key and the whole thing's been a bit of a disaster since the beginning.
She's had yet another long day. She's been fighting with child services because the damn baby is evidence in a sensitive case and she has a migraine the size of the greater Los Angeles area. All she wants is a bath and bed.
She unlocks the door and pushes her way into the house, disarming the alarm out of practice and habit. It's so second nature she doesn't realize she's done it until she's arming it again for the night. She's heading for the bedroom when she stops dead at the end of the couch.
It's a picture that twists her heart and stomach, but sends the pain skittering from her brain.
Callen's there, the baby on his chest, both of them fast asleep. She sighs, dropping her things quietly. Bed can wait, she decides, because this is such a rare picture that she can't help but pause. Callen's presence isn't unique. This is his house, after all, but they've been sharing lives for almost four months, sharing a bed much longer than that. She can't even remember how it started - though with their lives she's pretty sure there was a case and near death - but it's been so very good.
The baby, however, is different. No one's sure why the little thing took to Callen rather than, say Deeks or Sam, but from the moment Callen got his hands on the boy, they've been inseparable. And it looks like they've had a seriously busy afternoon. Toys are scattered over the living room floor, the playpen that's doubled as a bed in the corner. It's incredibly and terrifyingly domestic.
Kensi reaches out, settling her hand on the baby's back, just below Callen's. The baby doesn't stir, but the added warmth against his hand has Callen's eyes popping open.
"Hey," she greets softly.
He blinks, actually and honestly startled from sleep and she smiles a little. "Time?"
"Late," she answers, her body sagging. She's exhausted.
"Not much, though I'm probably a little out of the loop. I spent all day fighting with CPS over custody."
He laughs a little and despite the shaking, the baby sleeps on. He can't be more than eighteen months and he's a champion sleeper. Kensi thinks his parents, when they were still alive, must have been proud.
"How about you guys?" Her fingers are dancing over his and the baby's soft onesie, a caress and a restless twitch at the same time. It happens when she's overtired and can't get her brain to shut off.
Callen looks down at the baby's head. There's a softness to his gaze that warms her heart and terrifies her. Callen's never really struck her as paternal, but she can see a desire in his eyes that she's not sure is a possibility. There's an echo of those same feelings when he looks at her, like he wants everything, but doesn't think he can have it.
They've never made each other promises. Not once. They can't and they won't. With what they do and who they are there just aren't promises to make. Not when there's such a risk that it could all fall apart in literally a split second. They've kept carefully away from that. So much of where they are today just... Happened.
"We played catch," he says, voice suddenly low and gruff, like it gets when he oh-so-rarely talks about his time in foster homes. "He's got an arm, but his catching technique could use some work."
She laughs quietly at the picture of Callen presenting a little boy with a baseball mitt as the kid stares up with startling blue eyes.
"We had lunch and a nap, then watched some TV."
She'd been the one to insist on a television when she'd moved in. The idea of him watching children's shows makes her smile.
"I tried to convince him to watch a sport but he was deadset on something he called teehaus. Treehouse. I'm ready to carve my eyeballs out."
She laughs again and he smiles. It's her smile, a soft little tilt of his mouth. She only sees it when they're alone like this and her breath catches. They stare at each other, hands tangled over the baby, a million words hanging between them.
"Do you ever think-"
She doesn't believe him and her arched eyebrow shows it.
He sighs. "Not often. I try not to." He looks away, to the downy head of hair on his chest. "It's just not in the cards, Kens. I'm not a good father."
"You don't know that," she argues, because she has to and because she sure as hell doesn't believe him. They all dream of something different, whether they're suited for it or not.
"We work all the time," he points out softly. "We put ourselves in danger, pretending to be all sorts of things we're not. In the blink of an eye, all of that can change. And I can't have people relying on me, believing I'm always coming home when I know that there is always a serious possibility that won't be the case."
She knows all of this. These are arguments she has with herself on bad days, when she second guesses her whole life and all decisions within it.
"Sometimes," he says softly, "In another life, I think I'd have this. A good job that's not dangerous, a woman like you, a house, a mortgage, a son. A real name."
A smile slips out on the last one, like she knows he intended.
"Maybe today I took the day off, just because. Maybe we've both been busy and stressed so junior and I concocted a plan so we could all relax tonight. We'll make dinner, put him to bed and I'll sweep you away."
He's weaving a story that cracks her heart. "But that's not our lives."
They both look down at the baby, feeling the echo of that life ricochet through their minds.
"It's not a bad life," she whispers after a moment. "Ours."
"You believe that?"
She shrugs. "We're both doing a job we love. We have each other."
He looks at her, aware she's choosing her words carefully. She's the more emotionally aware of the two of them, more in touch with how she feels and a hell of a lit better at expressing it. She thinks she's more invested than he is and he knows she always has. It's not true, he doesn't think, but it's always been harder for him to show what he feels. He's not demonstrative, though he all but curls into Kensi's affection when she offers it. It would be lowering, but Kensi doesn't seem to even blink when he clings just a little tighter.
And he always surprises her when he talks about what he wishes he could have. It's not often because, yeah, he tries not to dwell on what he cannot have, but he has dreams and wishes, buried so deep that sometimes he forgets them. But then Sam hunts for the perfect Christmas gift, or he sees Kensi just laughing with a friend, a co-worker and it all comes rushing back. Sometimes, with Kensi, it's so much worse because now he looks at her on those days and realizes everything he can't give her. She deserves so much more.
The thing is though, she doesn't want more. Well, she does, but she's also happy with what she has. That's Kensi, he knows, always capable of finding a way to be content with what the world has thrown at her. That's what draws him to her, her optimism in comparison with his absolute pessimistic cynicism. He needs her, something he hadn't fully realized until they started their, well, thing. That is now so much more than a thing. Dangerously more than a thing.
She nudges his hand with hers, getting his attention. Her eyes are black, hot and he's not entirely sure why.
"Put him in the pen," she says, voice soft but oh, so warm. She moves, letting him stand and settle the little boy into the playpen. He sleeps on and when Callen turns, Kensi's right behind him. She slides her hands up his chest, linking them behind his neck and tugging him backwards.
"Maybe you didn't take the day off," she says, her breath fanning across his ear as she leans in. She starts tugging him backwards, towards their bedroom and he steps with her willingly, his hands bracketing her hips. "And maybe you and junior didn't plot out the perfect relaxing domestic evening."
She presses her mouth to his and his hands tighten on her hips. He pins her to the wall just through the archway to the hall and she lets him dominate the kiss, lets herself drown in the feeling of him.
"And maybe you don't sweep me away, like a knight on a white horse," she says, breath coming short when they break the kiss. His hands are under her shirt, stroking the smooth skin of her stomach. "Callen, I don't care. I don't care that sometimes we go weeks with only snatched moments. I don't care about how much I worry, how much you worry, how dangerous it is, what we do. And it's terrifying."
Her head tilts back as his mouth trails down her neck, mouthing at her pulse. She knows he can feel it jump beneath his tongue. His hand span her back, but she wants to make sure he gets this. Her hands come to his face, cupping his cheeks, the gesture tender for the way they live their lives. She knows this is a sore spot for him. It always has been.
"Maybe we won't live in a house with a white picket fence and little assassins running around and, hell, maybe this won't last forever. But you and I both know how important it is to think about now. This is now, Callen." She swallows and he watches her. "I like now."
He hugs her then, just a normal embrace, despite the way her heart pounds against his chest and his hands are probably more desperate than tender as the clutch at her back. There are no illusions here, and maybe sometimes they wish they were something different, but when it comes down to it, he agrees with her.
He likes now.
Don't kill me, but this is not my best work. I started writing it on the subway yesterday, then had to actually go to work and somewhere between the two something got disconnected... Sigh.
So... I'm going to think of this like an exercise. Because it'll be December 1st soon, which means Christmas fic. Which means I need to get working!