"Well, I think I'll retire for the evening," Kensi says as she stands. "Goodnight, everyone."

"Great." He stands as well. "I'll walk you back."

She raises an eyebrow. "I don't need an escort, Deeks"

"I know you don't," he says with a grin, "but I do. There's no way I am going to be able to find the sleeping quarters. Have you seen the size of this place?"

She shakes her head. "I'm surprised you ever learned to tie your shoelaces at all."

Callen laughs.

"Why do you people not understand? Velcro was awesome!"

Kensi starts walking away. "Come on, Shaggy. This tour guide is leaving."

Deeks nods to Hetty and Callen before jogging after her.

"So," he says when he's caught up, "this little delay doesn't mean you get out of Tahoe. We'll just have to postpone it."

She rolls her eyes. "You have a one-track mind."

"At least it has a track at all."

"I suppose you should be thankful for that."

She's leading them through the ship, apparently having memorized the layout already. He wasn't exactly truthful before when he said he wouldn't be able to find his way, but can admit to himself that he probably would have taken a wrong turn or two, so it wasn't a total lie.

"So you couldn't get Petty Officer Smalls to lead you to your bunk?" Kensi asks as they turn yet another corner.

"Oh, I'm sure I could have." He adds a waggle of his eyebrows, just in case his tone isn't suggestive enough.

"Right," she says, disbelief clear. "She was really falling for that charm of yours."

"So you admit I'm charming."

"I admit no such thing."

"What about your lieutenant? Plans with him later?"

"Fraternization is forbidden," she reminds him.

"I'm sure they make allowances for the holidays."

"Yeah, there's a Christmas Nookie Clause."

"Nookie Claus, Santa's porn star sister. The black sheep of the Claus family."

Kensi rolls her eyes. "I'm sure you're on a first-name basis with her."

"Hey, I'm not the one that was feeling up my escort."

"I was not feeling him up! I was trying to distract him," she argues, stopping in front of the door to her quarters. Her gaze swings up to his hairline. "How's your head, by the way?"

"Fine, thanks."

She grins.

"I hate you."

"Uh huh." She points down the hall. "You'll need to take two lefts. Follow the smell of sweat and the sound of snoring. That should take you to your berthing compartment."

He whimpers. "You're really going to make me sleep with sixty dudes?"

"I didn't assign your quarters."

"No, but you snapped up that stateroom without even a second thought." He tsks. "Some gentleman you are."

She raises an eyebrow. "I'm an officer."

"I'm just saying, I would have at least expected you to offer it to Callen or I first."

"Like you would have?"

"I spent part of today tied up in a garbage can!"

"All the more reason not to have you stinking up the nicer room."

He sighs. "You're so heartless."

She laughs and swings open the door. "Come on. You can hang in here for a bit."

"For a bit? Like, until tomorrow morning?"

"Don't push it."

He nods dutifully, closing the door behind him as he steps inside. "Not pushing."

She drops down onto the bed and starts to work at the laces of her boots.

He puts his hands in his pockets and surveys the room. "No X-Box. I suppose we'll have to talk."

She shudders dramatically.

He looks at the uniforms hanging on the rod and crosses to them. He reaches a hand out, letting his fingers trace the patches a moment before speaking. "You think you'll end up with a Marine?"

"I'm sorry?"

He waves a hand around, indicating the carrier and all the people in it. "Callen and Sam are under the impression that these guys are your type."

"And what do Callen and Sam know about my type?"

He shrugs and plants himself in the rolling chair. "Well, your dad -"

"Because most girls are sexually attracted to their fathers."

"And Jack."

She slips her boots off. "Jack was a long time ago. I'm a different person now."

"So you wouldn't date one of these jarheads?"

She looks up and meets his gaze, hesitating a moment before responding. "Maybe. I don't know."

He picks a paperweight up off the small desk, turning it over in his hands. He can't see her with a Marine. Well, he can, but when he pictures her with a Marine she's not the Kensi that he knows - she's the Kensi he imagines she used to be. The one with the walls and the defenses that have yet to be cracked.

"Marines are very," he searches for the right word, "rigid."

"You mean their muscles? Yes, they tend to be quite solidly built." The light in her eyes clearly indicates that she's toying with him.

She reaches up and starts removing the pins from her hair. It only takes a few before the whole thing tumbles down. He doesn't know what it is about that moment, but as the curls fall across her face his chest constricts and the room suddenly seems smaller than before.

He clears his throat. "Yeah, I can't really see myself with a military girl."

"Too badass for you?" she asks with a smile.

"No, no," he says with a smile of his own. "Badass is fine by me."

"Any ass is fine by you."

He sets down the paperweight and puts his hand on his chest, offended. "Untrue! I have a very discerning palate."

"I'm sure." She starts to unbutton her uniform. "Mindy was a fine example of your high standards."

"I knew I'd regret letting you meet her."

"You didn't let me meet her! I ran into you. You had no choice." She slips off her shirt, revealing the black tank top she's wearing underneath. "When was the last time you went on more than one date with the same woman?"

"What, you've got a monopoly on first dates?"

"No, but that's my style. It isn't yours. Well," she amends with a shake of her head, "it didn't used to be."

He shrugs a shoulder. "I don't know. No time anymore, I guess."


She doesn't sound like she believes him any more than he believes himself.

There's a weird energy to the room now - like the things they're not saying are just echoing around them, growing louder with each passing second. It's awkward and stifling and almost dizzying. It's getting to his head, it must be. That's the only reason he can think of for saying what he says next.

"I just always end up comparing them to you, and, well," he forces himself to meet her gaze, "no one quite measures up."

"Deeks..." Her tone is equal parts warning and reluctant, so he decides to push through.

"Kensi, this thing we have is getting a little out of control."

She shrugs, helpless. "So we do a better job of controlling it."

"That's not the solution I'm leaning toward," he says, using his legs to walk his rolling chair closer to her.

Despite the seriousness of the conversation, she laughs at him. "You could have just stood up."

"What's the point of wheels if you don't roll on them?"

He's in front of her now, knees bumping hers, and he brings his hand up to cup her jaw.

"Deeks," she says again, but this time she's smiling, her laughter from a moment ago not completely abated.


She closes her eyes and he kisses her, soft and tender and filled with the emotions that he has so much trouble keeping in.

She weaves her fingers in his hair and they fall back into the bed together, the chair rolling into the dresser with a thud.

"You just don't want to sleep in the berthing compartment," she accuses, tugging at the buttons of his shirt.

He grins between kisses. "No, Major, I most certainly do not."

December 27th

She pries her lips away but still presses her body firmly against his. "Deeks, where are you," she kisses him again before continuing, "where are you going? The bedroom is -"

She doesn't finish the thought, silenced by the jolt they take as his backside hits the bathroom door.

This time she does tear her body away. "The bathroom? Seriously?"

He grins and tugs her back toward him. "Patience, princess."

Of course, patience, he's very well aware, is not really in Kensi's wheelhouse.

"Deeks, what the hell?"

He grins and swings open the door.

The room is lit by the soft glow of candles. A bottle of champagne and two flutes sit beside a bath filled with warm water and bubbles.

Kensi raises an eyebrow.

"I was promised a hot tub," he says with a shrug. "I am going to get a hot tub."

She laughs and reaches for the hem of his shirt. "I guess you are."

When their clothes are all shed, he steps into the tub, snagging her hand and tugging her in with him.

"So where's the snow?" she asks as she settles into the water. "Can't provide the whole experience?"

He shakes his head. "I could, but your mom was busy tonight, so..."

He was expecting it, but still didn't manage to prevent her from dunking his head under the water.

"Kidding," he sputters when he comes up for air. "I was kidding. Forgive me?"

Kensi smiles. "I'm sure you'll find some way to make it up to me."

He pours her a glass of champagne and starts to do just that.