December 31st, 2012, 0034 hours
Deeks trooped tiredly into the darkened Ops Centre and sighed. 'Really? It's not bad enough that criminals don't take Christmas off, but they want to destroy New Year's too?'
Hetty laughed softly. 'It's up to us to make sure that those "2012" predictions don't come true.'
Deeks looked around at the empty room. 'Where is everyone?'
'Coming. It is the middle of the night, after all. It seems that you were the only one even close to awake,' Hetty said, smiling at the memory of the sleepy detective answering the phone with an eloquent ''etty?' in sleep slurred tones.
Deeks yawned. 'And I was extremely and totally fast asleep.'
'I wish I was right now,' Eric grumbled, trooping into the Ops Centre before clapping his hands twice. Immediately, everything whirred to life.
'That's… interesting. You have a clapper… computer?' Deeks asked.
'It's so much hassle to turn everything on by hand,' Eric sighed, sitting down in his swivel chair.
'Is it just me, or are you-'
'They're not polar bears this time,' Eric grumbled, rubbing at his sleep ruffled hair.
'No. They're pandas,' Deeks said, tilting his head to examine the tech's pyjama pants.
'Pandas are awesome… and by buying these, I helped save one,' Eric said sheepishly.
'But why are you wearing them?' Deeks questioned.
'I'm hoping that this is all a mistake, and I can go home to my comfy bed,' Eric yawned widely.
'We all hope that,' Callen grumbled, coming through the automatic doors and dropping into one of the swivel chairs.
The automatic doors swished open again, revealing a sleepy Sam carrying a wide awake child.
'Dadda, it's so pretty,' the girl said, still in purple pyjamas, pointing up at a string of fairy lights that had yet to be taken down from the Christmas celebrations.
'It is, honey,' Sam yawned, cradling his child.
'Michelle still on her retreat with her sisters, Mr Hanna?' Hetty asked.
'And I have to look after Bella,' Sam grumbled. 'I hope you don't mind, Hetty, but it's the middle of the night and…'
'It's no problem, Mr Hanna.'
Deeks and Eric stared at the small child.
'Oh, right.' Sam put her down in a swivel chair, and the child smiled up at him with his own smile. 'Isabella, this is Hetty, Marty and Eric.'
Bella blinked at them. 'Hi.'
'Hello, Bella,' Hetty said.
'Hi,' Eric mumbled, looking inexplicably scared of the small girl.
'Hey,' Deeks said, immediately kneeling down in front of her.
'Hey,' she grinned at him. 'You're Marty.'
'I am,' he said, wondering what Sam had told her about him.
'You've got a doggy,' she said brightly, much more awake than anyone else in the room. 'I want a doggy, but Dadda says I can't have one.'
'Why ever not?' Deeks asked.
'Dadda says that when I get older, I'll find out,' she grumbled, pouting. 'I'm old. I'm a whole lot old.'
'I don't doubt that. How old are you?' Deeks asked, eyes sparkling.
'Six,' she said brightly, holding up the required amount of fingers.
'Wow. You are old, aren't you?' Deeks chuckled.
Nell and Kensi bustled into the Ops Centre, but stopped short of the sight in front of them.
'Hi!' Bella said brightly to them. 'I'm Bella.'
'That's Kensi, and that's Nell,' Deeks said, pointing to them.
'Hey, Bella,' Kensi said uneasily.
'Miss Jones,' Hetty said. 'Could you please take Miss Isabella down to my office and stay with her until I am able to accompany her?'
'Sure.' Nell held out her hand to Bella, and the little girl latched on willingly.
'I'm six, you know,' the girl said chattily. 'How old are you?'
The two went away, and Hetty nodded to Eric. 'File Alpha-Gamma-Sierra. Password nine, foxtrot, Romeo, three, eight, Charlie.'
'Cool.' Eric typed into his iPad and quickly pulled up the required files.
'Are you wearing your pyjamas?' Kensi asked, distracted by his garb.
'Yes,' Eric said shortly. 'They're pandas.'
'Cool. Pandas are cool,' Kensi said quickly.
'Hetty, why are we here?' Callen asked tiredly.
'I'm glad you asked, Mr Callen,' Hetty said pleasantly. 'Someone is trying to blow up New Year's.'
'Great,' Kensi said dryly. 'Like there weren't enough explosions on New Year's to begin with.'
'Materials were stolen from the San Diego Marine Base an hour ago,' Hetty informed them, motioning to Eric who pulled up footage of three figures, masked and dressed in black, sneaking in and then out, heavily armed and clearly doing something illegal. 'Materials that can be used to make a very dangerous bomb.'
'Come on! New Year's Eve?' Deeks groaned. They all jumped when there was a sudden gunshot and one man suddenly faltered, his hand going to his butt. 'Youch. You Marines don't aim for the leg or anything, do you? Straight for the butt, so that he can't sit down properly for a month.'
'Oh, God,' Sam sighed, shaking his head. 'I'm gonna have to call Michelle. I can't take care of Bella while trying to do this.'
'Not to worry, Mr Hanna. I'll look after your daughter,' Hetty soothed. 'We'll get along fine.'
'As long as you promise not to teach her how to use any weapons… or how to play poker,' Sam added quickly.
'I think we'll stick to "Go Fish" if we must play cards,' Hetty assured him. 'Now, there are some very sleepy Marines that would like to get off duty very soon. Mr Hanna, Mr Callen, I think you'd be more suited to handle those interviews while Miss Blye and Mr Deeks inspect how these men got into the base in the first place. Mr Beale, I will relieve Miss Jones from her babysitting duties, and then you shall brief her and then scrub that footage for every clue you can find.'
'Yes, ma'am,' Eric said, giving her a salute before returning to his computer.
'Off you go!' Hetty said, pointing to the doors and watching her agents and detective.
'Yup,' Deeks said glumly before yawning. 'My new year's resolution – get more sleep.'
Kensi laughed. 'Good luck with that.'
'What about you?' Deeks was heard to ask as they left Ops. 'What's your resolution, Fern? Only twenty-four hours left to figure one out.'
Hetty chuckled. 'I remember when I used to make resolutions. I don't anymore. I do things.' And with that, she left to babysit Bella.
31st December, 2012, 0128 hours
'You followed the trail yet, Lassie?' Deeks asked Kensi, watching her intently as she led the way along the winding streets of the on-base housing, walking along beside her.
Kensi shone her flashlight right into his face, and he recoiled back, shading his eyes. 'Call me that again, Deeks, and you'll be the one howling.'
'Promise?' he asked, grinning.
'Ugh. You're so annoying,' she sighed, continuing tracking the men's trail through the base.
''nother blood spot,' Deeks said, pointing his flashlight at it.
'Yes, I saw it,' Kensi sighed. 'It's strange that they were on foot.'
'You do remember what we have to go through each time to get your car on base, right?' Deeks asked.
'Yeah, but what they were carrying was heavy,' Kensi said, shaking her head. 'Not even motorcycles, or anything.'
'The guy that got shot must have been in so much pain,' Deeks said, shaking his head. 'I know it hurts to run when you've got a bullet wound in your chest – I can't imagine how bad it would be with a wound in your butt.'
'All I know is that he was bleeding everywhere.' Kensi sighed before kneeling down and pulling a swab out of her back pocket and taking a sample. 'Did I ever say thank you?'
'For what?' Deeks asked, looking around for more blood spatter.
'Running with a bullet wound in your chest to save my stupid ass.'
'That was a year ago, Kens.'
'I know, but I can't remember if I thanked you.'
'Well, now you have. And by the way, your ass is everything but stupid. Smart, hot, awesome. Not stupid,' he protested, checking out said ass.
'You think my ass is hot?' Kensi laughed.
'It takes after the rest of you,' Deeks said honestly.
'Oh, Deeks.' Kensi paused, and Deeks, still concentrating on her ass, ran into her back. 'Hey!'
'Sorry,' he said, backing away.
'I found how they got onto the base,' Kensi said, pointing.
'A tree?' Deeks asked, tearing his gaze away from her derriere.
'Not just a tree. Two trees, side by side, one on each side of the fence.'
'But is it possible?' Deeks asked sceptically.
Kensi's eyes twinkled mischievously in the torchlight. 'Give me a leg up.'
'What- no. Kensi, as your partner, I am not going to let you climb that tree. It's too dangerous.' Deeks shook his head emphatically.
'You're right,' Kensi said thoughtfully. 'You do it.'
'What- why me?'
'Because you're much closer to the men's build than me, or Sam, or even Callen. If any of us were to successfully determine whether this was their way in and out, it would be you.'
'There's still the question of climbing the tree, full stop,' Deeks said, shaking his head.
'There could be evidence up there, if it was the way of ingress. More blood, scraps of clothing, hair, anything. Have you ever climbed a tree before, Deeks?'
'Yes,' he said quickly. 'Much bigger than those ones, too.'
'Then go on.'
He squinted at her. 'How did I get pulled into this?'
'You wouldn't let me do it,' Kensi chuckled.
Deeks sighed. 'When I fall out and break my leg, you're taking care of me.'
'Deal. Now get up there.'
Grumbling beneath his breath, Deeks dutifully grabbed hold of the lowest branch and hauled himself up, finding a foothold on the lowest fork. He squatted, panting, and looked down at her. 'Great view up here. I can see right down your shirt.'
'Deeks,' Kensi scolded him, shaking her head.
'Throw up a flashlight, please?' he requested.
'Sure. You can't see anything from the streetlight?' she asked, throwing it.
'It's very umbrageous up here,' Deeks told her.
'Umbrageous? Is that your New Year's resolution? To use a new word every day?'
'Nope,' Deeks said lightly, hauling himself up to the next branch.
'What is your New Year's resolution?' Kensi asked.
'If I tell you, you'll laugh,' he said childishly, but accurately.
'Okay, I'll give you that. But it can't really be that bad, right?'
Deeks shrugged, not that she could see him. 'Depends on whose perspective you look at it from. Hey!'
'You've found something?' Kensi asked, peering up into the tree, getting a good view of his ass.
Deeks turned around and caught her ogling. 'Looks like you have…'
'Shut it, Deeks. What have you found?'
'Blood,' he said brightly. 'Fresh. Looks like you were right.'
'Great. Keep going.'
Deeks sighed heavily. 'Okay.' He began to hum to himself as he pulled himself up the tree. 'Youch!'
'What?' Kensi asked, hovering nervously at the base of the tree.
'Scraped myself on the bark,' he said, shaking his hand. 'Stings.'
'I'll kiss it better later. Come on,' Kensi said impatiently, motioning for him to finish climbing the tree.
'Okay. I think I'm at the point where they switched trees. This seems to be the closest branch to the fence.' He looked around carefully. 'Wish me luck.'
'Be careful,' Kensi said anxiously.
One step. A creak. Two steps. Another creak. Three steps. A snap as he accidentally broke off a small twig. A grunt and then suddenly he was on the other side of the fence.
Deeks poked himself. 'I'm alive?'
'Shut up,' Kensi said, rolling her eyes. 'It's not like you were dodging bullets. Come on, hurry up.'
'It's a lot easier to go up than to go down, Kens,' Deeks said uneasily, before suddenly dropping to the ground from the third branch up. 'Ah. Solid ground.'
They looked at each other through two layers of wire fencing. 'Well, at least we know that it is possible,' Kensi said, watching as he got a latex glove out of his pocket. 'What?'
'I think… It's a thumb drive,' Deeks said, showing it to her.
'That's weird. One of them must have dropped it when they were climbing the tree.'
'Uh huh.' Deeks wrapped the glove around it and shoved it into his pocket. 'Well, here I go again.'
He was back on the other side of the fence easily, dropping to the ground in front of her.
'You good?' Kensi asked.
'Not completely.' He held up his hand. 'You promised to kiss it better.'
Kensi sighed and took hold of his hand before pressing her lips to the scratch. 'There. Better?'
'Uh huh… I didn't think you were actually going to do that,' he said lightly.
'If I didn't, you'd have whined the entire night.'
'Yeah, but…' He sighed and followed her. 'At least we found how they got in and out.'
'Uh huh. Now to just figure out why.'
31st December, 2012, 0201 hours
'How'd you guys make out?' Callen asked, approaching the younger partners.
'We found out how they got in and out,' Kensi said.
'How?' Sam asked.
'There are two trees, one on this side of the fence, and the other on the other side of the fence,' Kensi said as Deeks showed them the pictures. 'Deeks climbed up one tree and down the other, and did it pretty quickly and without too much trouble.'
'Except for the tree scratching me,' Deeks said, pouting.
'Oh, shush, Deeks,' Kensi sighed. 'Show them what you found.'
'Well, I found blood on the tree,' Deeks said, showing them the swab, 'Which proves that the injured bad guy was on the tree at some point recently.'
'Not that. The other thing,' Kensi urged him.
'Oh, that thing.' Deeks pulled the thumb drive out of his pocket. 'I found it on the opposite side of the fence. I'd bet that it belongs to one of the guys that stole stuff from the base.'
'I'd bet that too,' Callen said. 'Get them to dust it for prints before you get Eric to check what's on it.'
'Yup,' Deeks said. 'What did you guys find out?'
'The first signs of a breach was when an alarm was set off in the storage warehouse,' Sam said. 'Two men were sent to check it out. They saw the men just as they were making their escape – they didn't stop when told, and one of them shot, and managed to wing one of the guys-'
'In the ass,' Deeks added in an undertone.
'And then gave chase, but lost them after a few blocks.'
'At which point we picked them up again and traced them back to the trees,' Kensi said.
'And now you know about as much as we know,' Callen finished glumly.
'Alright,' Kensi sighed. 'We'll head back to Ops to get this thumb drive to Eric and Nell.'
'And we'll stay here and wait for them to finish the inventory so that we know what they took,' Sam nodded.
'Bye, guys,' Deeks said, following his partner to the car. 'Just as we'd thought we'd survived 2012, this came along.'
'We'll make it to 2013, Deeks,' Kensi said reassuringly, getting into the car. 'I know we will.'
31st December, 2012, 0233 hours
'Eric! Heads up!'
Eric caught the thumb drive flying his way. 'What's this?'
'Found it at the perp's escape tree,' Deeks said.
'Escape tree?' Eric asked, confused.
'Yes, escape tree,' Deeks said defensively. 'They climbed up a tree and over the fence.'
'Okay, then,' Eric said.
'There were no prints on the casing,' Kensi said, coming in behind Deeks and handing him a mug of coffee.
'No food or drink in Ops,' Deeks said, confused, taking the mug.
'I'm making an exception, Mr Deeks. It's too early in the morning to function properly without a hot dose of caffeine,' Hetty said, lifting her own cup of tea.
'Bless you, Hetty,' Deeks said, toasting her before taking a gulp of his coffee and sighing in relief.
'Well, Eric?' Kensi asked urgently, watching him as his fingers flew over the keyboard.
'Wow. This is… thick encryption. Layers upon layers or encryption requiring multiple keys.' Eric shook his head. 'This will take a while, guys.'
'Wow. You usually say that it might take you a while. Not that it will,' Deeks said, shaking his head.
'This is hard encryption. Really hard.'
'So's maths,' said a small voice sounding from behind them. 'But Momma says that it's important.'
'And your Momma is right,' Hetty said, patting the head of the small girl sitting next to her in a swivel chair. 'Maths is very important, as it is that Eric does what he is needed to do.'
Eric sighed. 'This will take a while.'
'As soon as you possibly can, Eric,' Hetty sighing, shaking her head. 'Now, you say that they escaped up a tree?'
'Yup,' Deeks said. 'The tree that gave me this.' He held up his hand and showed her the scratch.
'You climbed the tree?' Hetty asked, looking surprised.
'Kensi made me. Wanted to make sure that it was possible,' Deeks informed her.
'And was it?' Hetty asked, turning her amused smile onto Kensi.
'Yup. Deeks climbed over and back again,' Kensi nodded. 'And good thing he did – if he hadn't, we never would've found that thumb drive.'
'We? You mean me, right?'
'We, it was a team effort. I made you climb the tree. And that's only because you wouldn't let me climb it,' Kensi grumbled. 'You do know that you catching me when I fall is a lot less damaging for the both of us than me catching you, should you slip.'
'One of you did climb the trees, that's all that matters,' Hetty assured them.
'You guys got to climb a tree?' Bella asked, wide-eyed. 'Dadda won't let me climb trees. He says it's dangerous.'
'Your dad wasn't there when we climbed the tree,' Deeks said, grinning. He tapped the side of his nose and winked at the little girl. 'What your dad doesn't know won't hurt him.'
Bella giggled. 'You're funny.'
'Oh, yes,' Kensi said sarcastically. 'Having to hang out with Deeks all day is truly a huge bundle of laughs.'
'You love it,' Deeks said to her, laughing.
'Sure. Keep telling yourself that, Deeks.'
Bella laughed. 'You're like my momma and dadda. Are you married too?'
Nell and Eric exchanged a glance, while Hetty waited with an amused smile for their answer.
Kensi and Deeks exchanged a glance.
'We were, once,' Deeks said.
'Not anymore? You got dive- dove- divorced?' she asked, wide eyed.
'No,' Kensi said soothingly. 'We're still… partners.'
'Like Uncle G and Dadda are partners?' Bella asked curiously.
'Exactly,' Deeks said brightly.
'Where are Uncle G and Dadda?' Bella asked, turning to Hetty.
'Saving the world,' Hetty told the little girl gravely.
Bella nodded slowly. 'Dadda does that all the time, you know. He fights dragons.'
'We know,' Deeks said, giving her a big smile. 'We help him a lot.'
Suddenly, Eric stood up and touched his earpiece. 'Callen? Sam?'
Callen and Sam's image appeared on the screen.
Bella's face lit up. 'Hi, Dadda!'
'Hey, baby girl.' Sam waved at her. 'Nell, we've got to talk shop. Do you mind…?'
'Not at all,' Nell said brightly. 'You want to play another game of Snap?'
'Yeah!' Bella said enthusiastically, her eyes brightening. 'Bye, Dadda!'
'Be good, Bella.'
Callen waited until the little girl had left the room completely before beginning. 'They've finished inventory.'
'What's missing?' Hetty asked.
'A whole lot of explosives. A lot. Twenty-one bricks of RDX is gone. Not to mention a bit of wiring, but the strangest thing?' Callen asked.
'No detonators. No detonators are gone, nor anything that could be used to actually detonate the explosives.' Sam shook his head.
'So, they've already got the… structure, they just needed the explosives to go in it,' Kensi sighed. 'Oh, God, this is not good.'
'They definitely do have the structure already,' Eric said, his eyes widening.
'Eric?' Sam asked. 'What are you looking at?'
'You know that thumb drive that Kensi and Deeks found at the crime scene?' Eric asked.
'I thought you didn't know how long it would take to crack it,' Deeks said.
'I'm just that good,' Eric said, oozing confidence.
'What did you find, Mr Wizard?' Callen joked.
'Their plans. And this is really bad,' Eric said, paling as he read the plans.
'What is it, Eric?' Sam asked.
'Well, at least we know exactly when the bomb is set to go off,' Deeks said nervously.
'Deeks? Tell us,' Callen said.
'Zero hundred hours on the first of January, 2013,' Kensi said.
31st December, 2012, 0520 hours
'Eric, tell me that this isn't real,' Callen said nervously, marching into the Ops Centre, arms full of takeaway food. 'Breakfast burritos and coffee.'
'It's real,' Eric said glumly, taking a bite from his burrito. 'And it's not the only copy, which means that the bad guys are going to be able to pull this off.'
'Eric, can you tell where this bomb is going to be set? Which lot of fireworks are going to be hijacked?' Sam asked, looking around the Ops Centre.
'She's asleep, Mr Hanna. Crashed two hours ago. I'm figuring that she'll be asleep for a good long while now,' Hetty assured him.
'Okay,' Sam sighed. 'Eric?'
'I… I don't know guys,' Eric said, shaking his head. 'Nell and I have been working on this for hours and we can't narrow it down. Do you know how many sets of fireworks are going off across town at midnight tonight?'
'I'm gonna take a guess and say a lot,' Deeks said glumly.
'Good guess,' said Nell.
'Where is it most likely to have the greatest amount of people?' Hetty asked.
'Um…' Eric began typing. 'Going off of last year's numbers, top three were Santa Monica Pier, Venice Beach and Hollywood.'
'Great. It's a public holiday, guys. We just don't have the man power to have bomb squads at three locations, let alone all of the locations of fireworks in the city,' Deeks said, shaking his head. 'It's impossible. Normal uniformed cops are already stretched thin and pulling double shifts. If it weren't for this case, I'd be out there right now looking for double parked cars and indecent exposure.'
'Indecent exposure?' Kensi asked, turning her gaze on him. 'Really?'
'More people get laid on public holidays than any other day,' Deeks informed them.
'You've mentioned that before,' Kensi muttered. 'But outside?'
'Beaches are very romantic.'
'As long as you don't mind sand getting everywhere.'
Deeks laughed. 'You-'
'Don't finish that,' Kensi snapped, glaring at him.
'What the hell are we going to do?' Sam asked.
'We're going to have to try and narrow down which set of fireworks it is,' Nell sighed. 'And that will be hard.'
'Can you do it?' Callen asked. 'That's what's important.'
'We can try…' Eric said nervously, afraid that was the wrong answer.
'Great. We'll try help from our end. Deeks?' Callen asked, looking to the liaison for help.
'I can call on my contacts,' Deeks nodded. 'Might be able to pick up some rumours on who's doing this, and where. But that's all they'll be – rumours.'
'We've worked on less. Kensi?'
'I can go down, help with forensics,' Kensi offered helplessly.
'No, go help Deeks. I don't want people working alone. Deeks, all respect to your LAPD training, but that's all that it is – you can't diffuse a bomb if needed.'
'No, LAPD doesn't offer bomb training as a general rule,' Deeks nodded. 'But let me guess – Miss MacGyver over here could do it while also baking gingerbread and hotwiring a helicopter?'
'Don't be ridiculous, Deeks. You know Kensi can't cook,' Callen quipped.
'Hey!' Kensi exclaimed.
'I never said that the gingerbread would be good,' Deeks pointed out.
'Hey!' Kensi exclaimed again, before smacking him on the arm.
'Ow,' he said pointedly, rubbing his sore arm.
'Deeks, Kensi, go talk to Deeks' contacts,' Callen sighed. 'Sam and I will work our contacts and between us, hopefully, we'll have everyone covered.'
'Yup. Come on, Kens. We'll hit my source who has the good coffee first,' Deeks quipped.
31st December, 2012, 0552 hours
'Wake-y, wake-y!' Deeks drawled, pulling the blankets off of the bed. 'Oh!' He immediately put the blankets back on. 'Dude, would it kill you to wear some clothes?'
'I thought I was in the privacy of my own home, Detective,' the man snarled, pulling protectively at the blankets.
'Not anymore. Put some clothes on – we've a lady present,' Deeks told him before pulling a very bemused Kensi out of the room and starting the coffee. 'He's an old surfing buddy that ended up on the other side of the law to me.'
'Good for you or bad for him?' Kensi asked.
'Eh… both, I s'pose,' Deeks said, taking out three mugs.
'And you know his kitchen so well because…' Kensi prompted.
'He's turned up here looking for a safe place while undercover so many times it's not funny,' a voice came from the doorway, and Kensi turned to see Deeks' informant, fully dressed in jeans and a t-shirt this time. 'And you weren't kidding, were you Marty? She really is a lady.'
'Oi! Show some respect, Jay, she's my partner.'
'Oh, you're the girl that he's been going on about,' Jay said, accepting a mug of coffee.
'Deeks,' Kensi said suspiciously, taking a mug as well.
'I'm taking the Fifth,' Deeks said quickly.
'And there's the lawyer coming out in him,' Jay joked before sitting down at his table. 'Alright, Marty, you better have a damn good reason for waking me up this early.'
Suddenly, an alarm sounded somewhere in the apartment.
Kensi and Deeks exchanged a glance.
'Okay, so a few minutes earlier than my usual time,' Jay amended.
'I'm Special Agent Kensi Blye, with NCIS,' Kensi said, showing him her badge. 'Earlier today, there was a theft at the base. Twenty-one bricks of RDX.'
'Shit. That'll blow a decent sized chuck out of something,' Jay said, shaking his head. 'Why're you telling me this?'
'I got to figure, with your extensive contacts, you might know who has an interest in blowing up LA with a large amount of Naval RDX,' Deeks said before slurping his coffee.
'Me?' Jay asked, pointing to himself. 'Shit, Marty, you know I'm only a low man on the totem pole.'
'Actually, traditionally, the lower you are on the totem pole, the more important you are,' Kensi informed to the two men.
'Wikipedia,' Deeks muttered under his breath.
'Fine then, high man on the totem pole,' Jay corrected himself.
'Even as a… low man in the organisation, you've got to hear mutterings of what's going on,' Deeks said.
Jay sighed. 'Damn, Marty. You're gonna get me in trouble one of these days.'
'Just tell me what you know, Jay.'
Jay glared at him over his coffee. 'There's talk of a big bang going off midnight tonight. And we're not talking fireworks.'
'The plans were right,' Deeks whispered to Kensi.
She nodded, wide eyed.
'You know who's planning this?' Deeks asked him.
Jay shook his head. 'That's all I've heard, man.'
Deeks cursed under his breath. 'What about where? You know where this is going down?'
'LA. I swear, Marty, that's all I know. I only know about this because I happened to overhear something as I was walking past a room,' Jay said, shaking his head.
Deeks sighed. 'Alright. At least our suspicions are confirmed.'
'Yeah, well, whatever I could do, right man?' Jay asked.
'Yeah. Yeah, thanks, Jay. Kens?'
Kensi quickly downed the last of her coffee. 'Thanks,' she said quickly before following her partner out of the door. 'Why is it that I have the feeling that that's set the theme for the rest of our interviews?'
'Because it probably has,' Deeks sighed. 'Come on. I've got a stripper in the Valley that hears things.'
'Of course you do.' Kensi shook her head before getting into the car. It was going to be a long day and it had barely started.
31st December, 2012, 0900 hours
'Deeks, Kensi.' Callen pounced onto the partners the moment they came through the doors.
'Coffee. Doughnuts,' Deeks said, handing them to Callen.
'Did you find out anything?' Sam asked.
Deeks paused in the bullpen. 'Is that…?'
'A countdown clock?' Kensi finished.
'Hetty figured that it might provide, to use her words, a kick in the ass,' Callen said dryly, passing food to his partner. 'What did you guys find out?'
'Not much,' Deeks sighed. 'They all pretty much confirmed rumours that something's gonna go off at midnight tonight, and it ain't fireworks. You guys?'
'Basically, the same.'
'What about where?' Kensi asked. 'We got nothing.'
'Nothing,' Sam said, shaking his head. 'We can't find anything on where this bomb is going to be set.'
'Who?' Deeks asked
'You guys found…?' Callen prompted.
'Again, nothing. You?' Kensi asked.
Callen shook his head. 'Nothing.'
'Damn it,' Deeks said softly.
'Guys!' Nell yelled from the balcony. 'Get up here!'
'Sounds like they've got something,' Deeks said brightly before going up the stairs, closely followed by Kensi, Callen and Sam.
'What have you got, Nell?' Callen asked, approaching the intelligence analyst and technical operator.
'What we've got, really,' Nell said.
'We've got no time for semantics right now, Nell,' Sam said urgently.
'Right. Well, Eric and I were discussing possibilities for figuring out which fireworks would be, for want of a better word, hacked,' Nell said.
'And that got us talking about you guys going and talking to your contacts about the fireworks,' Eric continued. 'Which led to the realisation that you might have contacts, but we've got our sources too.'
'That's good,' Kensi said slowly.
'We checked message boards, craigslist, comments on articles, and finally we came up with this.' Eric pulled up a message board.
'"Mad Bomber dot com",' Deeks read slowly. 'Come on, really?'
'Really,' Nell confirmed.
'What did you find, Eric, Nell?' Callen asked tiredly.
'This happy little conversation,' Eric chirped, pulling it up on the big screen. 'They're mainly pyromaniacs, but there are a few that are more… enthusiastic… than others.'
'"What's everyone doing on New Year's Eve?"' Deeks read out slowly. 'Well, obviously, not what I want to be,' he continued, more to himself than anybody else.
'"Blowing up stuff. Isn't that what New Year's Eve is for?"' Kensi read the next person's comment. 'Now that I think about it, what is New Year's Eve for?'
'"I think I'm gonna be blowing up more than Catherine Wheels this New Year's",' Callen read slowly. 'Foreboding.'
'"What are you going to be blowing up?"' Deeks read. 'Well, that is the question, isn't it?'
'"Something that will blow a nice big crater in LA",' Sam read, joining in. 'Uh oh. Eric, Nell, tell us you've traced this idiot.'
'We have,' Eric said brightly. 'Right back to his IP address and his house. Address is on your phones.'
'Thanks, Eric!' And before the two techs knew it, they were alone again.
31st December, 2012, 1031 hours
'Okay, new New Year's resolution,' Deeks announced, getting out of the car.
'And what's that, Deeks?' Kensi asked, slamming her door and getting her Sig out, checking its magazine.
'Finally get to Hawaii this year,' he announced happily.
'You've never been?' Kensi asked, confused. 'Seriously? It's like the one place that you can go overseas without needing a passport.'
'I have been, once before,' Deeks told her. 'But I was a kid. It's not like I remember much.'
'So you're gonna go back sometime next year,' Kensi said, a smile tugging at her lips.
'Yup,' Deeks said happily, before shoving a couple of magazines for his Beretta into his back pocket.
'Kensi, Deeks, take the back entrance,' Callen ordered, and was again amazed by the way that the two could change from goofy and exchanging quips to absolutely professional in a single moment.
'Yup,' Deeks said solemnly, and followed his partner to the back of the house.
'Why is it that we always get the back entrance, while they get all the glory and excitement?' Kensi muttered under her breath, her weapon half trained on the back door.
Deeks chuckled dryly. 'Because they're the senior agents.' With that, he turned on his Comm, and Kensi followed suit. 'We're on, Callen,' he said quietly.
'Yup.' They could hear loud knocking on the front door, along with the announcement of 'Federal Agents, open up!'
There was silence.
Callen tried again.
This time, some clattering.
'We're breaching,' Callen grunted before they heard the sound of Sam kicking in the door.
Running footsteps were the next thing to be heard, and suddenly, the door in front of them burst open, revealing an out of breath, rumpled man who stopped short at the sight of the agent and the detective with their guns carefully aimed at him.
He sighed before putting his hands up.
'It's funny how these guys always think that law enforcement don't know about the existence of back doors,' Deeks quipped to his partner as Callen and Sam joined them.
'Absolutely hilarious,' Kensi agreed dryly, cuffing the man with her plastic cuffs.
'Come on, buddy,' Sam said, taking the man from Kensi. 'Kensi, Deeks, grab his laptop for Eric.'
'Yup,' Deeks said dryly, watching them lead him away. 'Yup, all the glamorous assignments, right?'
Kensi patted him on the shoulder. 'Come on, Deeks.'
31st December, 2012, 1112 hours
Kensi stretched out, watching the feed on the plasma TV with her feet propped on another chair on the opposite side of the table. Deeks slid into the chair next to her, placing a mug of coffee in front of her, and put his feet up as well, putting them on the same chair.
She sighed, and he nudged her foot with his before giving her a small smile. She gave him a reluctant smile in return, and he nodded, understanding the deep weariness that had sunk right into her bones. It had been a long day, and they weren't even halfway through it yet.
She wrapped her hands around the mug, and returned her attention to the TV in front of her.
'Look, I didn't mean to illegally park,' the man was saying. They'd discovered that his name was "Jerry". 'But I couldn't see the sign that said "no parking". The tree was, um, covering it up.'
'Seriously?' Callen asked. 'You think you're here on a parking rap?'
'I haven't… I haven't done anything else,' Jerry said uncertainly.
'No?' Sam rotated his iPad so that the other men could see the screen. 'What's this?'
'It's a, uh… message board,' Jerry said, trying to come off confident. He failed.
'Uh huh. Correct me if I'm wrong, but we believe that you wrote… this,' Sam said, pointing to the line about leaving a crater in LA.
'Oh…' Jerry seemed to think about this for a moment. 'I, uh, did write that…'
'Finally,' Deeks muttered. 'We're getting somewhere.'
'What did you mean by it?' Callen asked.
'I, um… think I need a lawyer?' Jerry was clearly asking, not telling.
'Oh, sure, we'll get you a lawyer to talk to. Excuse us,' Sam said with a predatory smile. Callen and Sam left the room, and entered the outer part of the boathouse.
'You're up, Deeks,' Callen said with a lazy smile.
Deeks sighed heavily. 'Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work I go,' he muttered under his breath.
'You wanna give him a hand, Kens?'
'Yup,' Kensi said glumly. 'If you tell him that my name is Fern, I will murder you in the interrogation room. Slowly.'
The pair entered the room.
'Hello, Jerry,' Deeks said, toning down his drawl a little. 'My name is Marty Deeks; I'll be your lawyer today. This is my secretary, Darcy.' Deeks pretended not to see Kensi's jaw grind at the sound of her alias' name.
'Uh, hello,' Jerry said, jumping to his feet and shaking Deeks' and then Kensi's hand. 'Um, I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but you don't look-'
'Like a lawyer? Don't worry about it, kid, I get it all the time,' Deeks said easily, clapping him a little too roughly on the shoulder, just enough that he fell forward a touch. 'You ever seen a lawyer?'
'Yeah,' Jerry said uncertainly.
'What do they look like?'
'They're dressed in suits,' Jerry said, continuing his uncertain tone of voice.
'Uh huh. And have you ever seen a good lawyer?' Deeks continued his pitch.
'Um… I don't know…?' Jerry looked very confused.
'Of course you haven't,' Deeks said, smiling so broadly that Callen and Sam, in the other room, feared for his ears. 'And why's that, Darcy?'
Kensi sighed. 'Because good lawyers look like you, sir, because you are a good lawyer.'
'Exactly,' Deeks said, clearly enjoying playing Kensi's superior. 'Now, Jerry, tell me, what exactly is it that you did?'
'Well, I thought that it was my parking ticket,' Jerry said quickly, the words falling over themselves. 'But then it turned out that they think I've done something wrong because of something I wrote on a website.'
'What did you write on the website, Jerry?' Deeks asked.
'Just answer me this, Jerry,' Deeks continued, not giving him much of a chance to answer. 'Are you guilty, or innocent?'
'Shouldn't you just assume that I'm innocent, and plead my case like that?' Jerry asked. 'That's… that's what they do on cop shows.'
'Jerry, I'm gonna ask Darcy to remind you of something. Darcy?'
Kensi sighed again. 'Mr Deeks is a good lawyer.'
'Exactly,' Deeks said, pointing at her. 'I'm a good lawyer. Those ones on TV? Mediocre, at best. So answer me this, Jerry. Guilty or innocent?'
'I think… I think I'm guilty of something, Mr Deeks,' Jerry said nervously.
'And what's that, Jerry?' Deeks asked, finally sitting down opposite Jerry at the desk.
'I know these… people,' Jerry whispered. 'They're planning… something.'
'What are they planning, Jerry?' Deeks asked.
'They're gonna hijack the fireworks,' Jerry whispered.
'Which ones, Jerry?' Deeks asked heatedly.
'Are you sure that you're a lawyer? You talk awful like you're a cop,' Jerry noted.
'Jerry. The only person that knows better than Darcy if I'm a lawyer is me. Okay? And I'm very sure that I'm a lawyer. Even got the bar exam certificate to prove it. Which fireworks, Jerry?'
'I… I dunno, alright? I'm supposed to get an email around eleven thirty tonight,' Jerry stuttered.
'To give earlier warning would be an invitation for police to organise a complete strike force and a decent plan,' Kensi muttered, abandoning her cover.
'Yeah,' Deeks said, turning and meeting her eyes. 'Jerry, who? Who's planning this?'
'I…' Jerry was sweating badly by this time. 'I don't know, okay?! It's just emails. We talk through emails. But there are heaps of them. Heaps of people. They're all gonna turn up at the spot at eleven thirty tonight and… Oh, my God. You're police, aren't you? It's not fireworks that they're gonna be setting off, is it? All those people. They're gonna die.'
'Jerry, Jerry, calm down,' Kensi said, crouching beside him. 'What did they tell you it would be?'
'A way better fireworks show than what the people in charge were planning. They said… it would be the best fireworks show we'd ever see.'
'Yeah, also the last,' Deeks said, shaking his head.
Jerry was almost crying at this point. 'I didn't mean… I didn't know… I don't want anyone to get hurt!'
'We know, Jerry. You did good, telling us this. C'mon, Deeks.'
Kensi and Deeks left the interrogation room.
'You two are scary,' Callen said, shaking his head.
'We're just that good,' Deeks said modestly, slinging an arm around Kensi. 'You two just never stop to realise it.'
'Deeks, shush,' Kensi said, ducking out from under his arm. 'We need to get Eric and Nell into that laptop, and then into his emails.'
'Yes,' Sam agreed. 'Come on, we've got to get that laptop to Eric and Nell.'
'Yup.' Deeks snatched it off of the table and they went out of the boathouse, leaving Jerry alone behind.
31st December, 2012, 1428 hours
'Eric! Tell me you've gotten into that laptop,' Callen said, going into the Ops Centre.
'Oh, that was easy. His password was "open". Seriously, someone needs to give this guy a lesson in security. First lesson – make your password random. I mean-'
'Yeah, Eric, how about we continue this conversation in 2013, preferably after we've saved half of Los Angeles,' Sam said, putting a hand on the younger man's shoulder.
'Oh, sorry. Yeah, got into the laptop, got into his emails, found the emails that you told me I'd find and then I tried to trace them.'
'And?' Callen asked.
'Yeah… Not so good,' Nell said, shaking her head.
'How not good?' Sam asked.
'If we were physically tracing his internet connection, like, on a plane, we'd have already visited Mexico, Germany, Japan, Australia, Venezuela, New Zealand, China, Romania, Russia-'
'Okay, we get it,' Sam interrupted. 'How much longer do you think this will take?'
'God knows, literally,' Eric sighed, shaking his head. 'I don't know if this will go through another ten countries, or another hundred countries.'
'So, on a scale of one to ten, how good is this guy on a computer?' Callen asked.
'Eight,' Eric said firmly.
'And you've told us that you're a definite ten time and time again,' Sam reminded him. 'And tens beat eights easy, no matter where you are.'
'Except when coming first is important,' Deeks said. 'Cos then eight is better than ten…' He clocked the glares that he was receiving from Callen, Sam and Nell. From Kensi he was simply just getting an amused smile. 'I'm just gonna shut up.'
'Good idea,' Callen muttered. 'Eric. You can do this, and you can do it in less than nine hours, can't you?'
'I can… I can try,' Eric sighed. He took in the look that Callen was giving him. 'I can try very hard?' Callen continued to stare at him. 'I will?'
'Good answer,' Callen said cheerfully. 'Food,' he muttered. 'We missed lunch.'
And with that, he left Eric and Nell in the Ops Centre and left to look for food.
31st December, 2012, 1600 hours
'Eric!' Callen called, marching into the Ops Centre. 'Tell me that you've got something.'
'I've got something,' Eric called. 'You won't be happy with what it is, but it's something.'
'I'll take it,' Callen said, running his hand over his head. 'If it's something, I'll take it.'
'Okay. Well, we traced the signal back through dozens of countries and finally back to the US, where it took us to California, where it took us to Los Angeles…'
'Okay, good, in our jurisdiction,' Deeks said approvingly.
'Where it took us to an internet café,' Eric informed them.
'Damn it. Eric, did it have video surveillance?' Kensi asked.
'I couldn't get into it, so I figured that maybe it's an internal circuit, but when I call them up, asking for copies, they say that it's been broken for a month and they've been waiting for a replacement.' Eric sighed heavily.
'What about cameras around the area?' Sam asked.
'Yeah, I tried that. No luck. Couldn't see in, and there was no way to trace it back to the specific computer that the email was being sent from, anyway,' Eric sighed.
'Nell, what about you?' Callen asked, turning to the petite analyst.
'Well, I went back to what my job description tells me to do,' Nell said, sighing. 'I looked at any intelligence that threatened a strike on New Year's Eve, and narrowed out any that… You don't care how I did it, you just care what I got, don't you?'
'Bingo,' Deeks said, pointing at her.
'Right. Here. I got two,' Nell said, handing one file to Callen and Sam and the other to Kensi and Deeks.
'Great work. Both of you,' Callen said distractedly, looking through the file.
'But I failed,' Eric pointed out.
'No, you didn't, Eric,' Callen said, shaking his head. 'You did your job, something that the majority of us here wouldn't be able to do, you did it under pressure and you still did it well. Alright, Kensi, Deeks, you take that file and those suspects, we'll take this one and we'll meet back in here in two hours and discuss which ones we think are capable of this. Eric, Nell, keep digging.'
'Do you want to synchronise our watches too?' Deeks asked dryly.
'That was done when you first got them,' Eric informed him.
'Seriously?' Deeks asked. 'Do none of you understand sarcasm?'
'Come on, Deeks,' Kensi said, grabbing hold of him by the sleeve and pulling him away.
31st December, 2012, 1820 hours
'They tell us to get here in two hours, and then they're the ones that are late,' Deeks muttered, pacing the length of bullpen, bathed in the golden light of the sunset.
'Relax, Deeks,' Kensi sighed, watching her partner as one would watch a game of tennis. 'Sit down, or something. How much coffee have you drunk today?'
'I lost count a few hours ago,' Deeks told her agitatedly.
'Which tells me you've had way too much,' Kensi groaned, taking him by the shoulders and pushing him down into the sofa.
Their eyes locked for a moment, and for a single moment they both shared the same thought – leaning in and connecting their lips…
'We can come back later, if we're interrupting something,' Callen's voice came loudly from behind Kensi.
Kensi snatched her hands away from Deeks as if burnt. 'No. We weren't-'
'Nothing to interrupt,' Deeks said at the same time, standing up again.
'He's been drinking way too much coffee,' Kensi said.
'Since when is that any different to any other time?' Sam asked, pulling an icepack from the freezer.
'Gees. What happened to you guys?' Deeks asked, finally looking properly at the two senior agents.
'Got beaten up,' Callen grunted, popping two aspirin pills. 'Ow.'
'Why?' Deeks asked.
'You're asking us like we know,' Sam said, applying the icepack to his swollen jaw.
'Well, it might have something to do with us walking in on an illegal poker game,' Callen said meditatively.
'Did you find anything that makes it worth getting beat up?' Kensi asked.
'No. We and the uniforms that we had to call in searched for ages after we'd gotten beaten up, but there was nothing. No RDX, no plans for blowing up Los Angeles, no explosives, no fireworks… nothing. What about you two?' Callen asked.
'You two walked in on an illegal poker game. We walked in on a happy little family barbeque,' Deeks informed them.
'Who were actually four generations of bomb makers,' Kensi added onto the end. 'We walked in on them making homemade fireworks.'
'And?' Sam prompted.
'We arrested them, and then I called in some of my colleagues to help, but even between us, we found no RDX. Plenty of other things to make bombs with, gunpowder, a little C4, plenty of wiring, detonation materials, etc., but no RDX or plans to blow up LA,' Deeks informed them.
'Sorry, guys,' Nell said, appearing from the tech corner leading off from the bullpen.
'Not your fault, Nell. They were good leads, just not the guys that we're looking for,' Kensi told her. 'Has Eric got anything?'
'I don't know,' Nell said. 'I think he was doing something with the thumb drive that had plans on it. He might have something, I don't know.'
'Alright then. Kensi, Deeks, you mind going to check on Eric? I think I need to ice my ribs,' Callen said, wincing as he tried to get up.
'Sure,' Kensi said, and she and her partner immediately headed up the staircase, followed by Nell.
'Less than six hours,' Nell said nervously, looking up at the countdown clock.
'But we're close, Nell,' Deeks said, putting a reassuring hand on her shoulder.
Nell sighed heavily. 'Yeah. We are,' she said, putting a not-so-convincing smile on her face.
'What-cha doin', Eric?' Deeks asked, leaning against the desk that Eric was working on and giving him a deceptively carefree smile.
'Well, I was looking at the actual physical thumb drive itself,' Eric told him, gesturing to the USB drive that was sticking out of the computer tower. 'It's your basic SanDisk, four gig drive.'
'And can be bought pretty much anywhere,' Deeks nodded.
'But then I noticed,' Eric said slowly, turning to Kensi, 'That it looks old.'
'It looks old?' Kensi asked.
'Yeah. The casing shows signs of wear, it's dirty with finger grease and it's got traces of pen ink where a name was once probably written. So I figure, this thumb drive has been used numerous times and probably over a couple of years,' Eric said, tilting his head to observe the drive.
'How does this help with the case, Eric?' Kensi asked.
'You know how you can never really delete something off of a computer?' Eric asked.
'That's genius,' Nell breathed as she realised what Eric had done.
'Nell?' Kensi asked.
'The same goes for a thumb drive,' Nell said, looking at Eric. 'Did you manage it?'
'Of course I did.'
'Manage what?' Deeks asked.
'I managed to recover basically everything that was ever on this thumb drive,' Eric said brightly. 'And I was going through the documents when I found this little number.'
He brought up a document.
'It's a… It's a story, Eric,' Kensi said, her eyes squinting in confusion.
'Not just any story,' Deeks said, laughing as he took in the content. 'It's a fan fiction story.'
'Yup. Looks like people who like to blow up things like Supernatural too,' Eric said, laughing as well.
'That's great Eric, but, uh, how will this… story… help us find whoever's trying to hijack the fireworks?' Kensi asked.
'I checked all of the major fanfiction sites for this particular story,' Eric said, 'And I found it on this site; fanfiction dot net, under the username SupernaturalFan666.'
'Did you manage to trace it back, Eric?' Kensi queried.
'To log onto the site, you have to use your email address. I hacked their profile – success. I got their email address, and I was just in the process of finding out who owns that email address when you guys came in.'
Eric returned to the screen that he'd been on when they'd come into the room and said brightly, 'I've got a name.'
'I'll get the guys,' Nell said quickly before practically bouncing out of the Ops Centre. A few seconds later, they heard a shrill whistle.
Nell returned with Callen and Sam on her heels, still icing their wounds with dripping icepacks.
'Do you have something?' Callen asked.
'The name of the person who hopefully owns this thumb drive is…' Eric typed quickly, and brought up a driver's license.
'Lucas Kent,' Nell read. 'Twenty-four. Lives in Venice.'
'Send that address-'
'To your phones?' Eric interrupted Callen. 'It's already done.'
'Thanks, Eric,' Sam said.
And then the agents and detective were gone.
31st December, 2012, 2015 hours
'Ready?' Callen asked, touching his earwig.
'We're on,' Kensi said, nodding to Deeks.
'Alright,' Callen said, looking to his partner. 'Three. Two. One.'
As Sam kicked in the front door, Deeks kicked in the back and Kensi and Callen swooped in and immediately cleared their respective rooms, their partners at their backs.
A well-rehearsed routine, they quickly cleared the house.
'There's no-one here,' Deeks panted, going into the living room.
'It's empty,' Kensi said, shaking her head.
'Guys! In here.'
The pair followed the sound of Sam's voice into a bedroom, where a rug had been rolled back to reveal a hatch cut into the wood floor.
'Well… That's a good place to hide something you don't want found,' Deeks drawled, cocking his gun.
Kensi gave him a tight grin, one that showed him the true extent of her adrenaline rush.
'Ready?' Callen glanced around the group before grabbing the handle and flinging the hatch open.
'Down we go,' Sam said softly. 'Federal agents! We're coming down!' He then led the way down the narrow staircase.
It was dark and dingy and dusty, and Kensi wrinkled her nose before sneezing twice.
'Bless you,' Deeks whispered, taking up the end of the procession.
They shuffled into the basement and all looked around at the dim room.
Kensi smoothed the curled edges of a piece of paper down and gasped. 'Guys, it's the bomb.'
The three men gathered around the table, and Deeks shone his torch on the page. 'It's got labels that aren't on the computer version.'
'It does.' Callen pulled out his phone and snapped a picture of the plan. 'I'll send it to Eric.'
'There aren't any explosives in here,' Sam said after a quick look around. 'He's already gone to… wherever he's planning this.'
'Anything around here that suggests where?' Callen asked.
'No obviously pinned maps with giant arrow magnets pointing to a specific location, no,' Deeks sighed. He brightened at the sight of something else. 'But there is something here that will help us.'
'What?' Callen asked.
'Laptop,' Deeks said, holding up Kent's silver MacBook.
'I've got something else here,' Kensi said, her tone low.
'Kens?' Callen asked, turning to look at the junior agent, who held something in her hand.
She held the lanyard so that Kent's face dangled from the end of it. 'It says that Kent's one of the firework technicians.'
'But he's not,' Deeks said immediately. 'Eric and Nell would've found that by now.'
'So this must be a forgery,' Callen said, pulling a black latex glove out of his back pocket and taking it from Kensi. 'This doesn't say where he's a firework technician.'
'We'll have to get it back to Eric and Nell. It and the laptop, and find out where he is now, because he's not here now.'
'I'll get them to fire up Kaleidoscope, find where Kent is now,' Sam said, already dialling the number.
'Grab those, and we'll get going,' Callen said, pointing to the laptop and identification lanyard. 'We've got three and a half hours to figure out where this bomb is.'
Silently, Sam grabbed the laptop while Kensi tucked the ID away in an evidence bag and Deeks started to roll up the plans for the bomb.
'Kensi, what is your partner doing?' Sam asked.
'I have no idea most of the time what my partner is doing. Deeks, why are you taking the plans for the bomb?' Kensi asked.
'Well, I figure that someone is going to end up having to diffuse this bomb,' Deeks said. 'So why not have a plan that tells you if cutting a particular wire is going to blow half of Los Angeles to hell?'
'That actually makes sense,' Sam said, giving Deeks an amazed look.
'I occasionally have a good idea. On a good day, I can even make a plan that works,' Deeks said quipped.
Sam chuckled at the younger man before following his partner out of the tiny basement.
'How does someone carry so much hate?' Kensi murmured, looking around the basement with wonder in her eyes. 'How can someone hate so much that they want to cause harm to other people?'
'I… I don't know, Kens,' Deeks said quietly. 'If I knew, I would tell you-'
'Of course you would,' Kensi interrupted him with a slight chuckle. 'Have I ever told you that you talk too much?'
'Every single day. And we need to live so that you can continue telling me that in the New Year.'
'Promise, partner?' She had a curiously vulnerable look in her eyes.
'Promise. Now come on. Let's go save the world one last time in 2012.'
31st December, 2012, 2100 hours
'Merry Christmas, Eric,' Sam said, plonking the silver laptop down in front of the surprised tech.
'You're a week late, Sam,' Eric quipped. 'Santa came around this time last week.'
'Give me a belated Christmas present, then, Eric, and tell me if that laptop can tell us where the bomb is,' Sam said.
'I'll try,' Eric said before opening the laptop and beginning his work.
'Nell,' Kensi called, walking into the Ops Centre, Deeks on her heels. 'Can you tell me where this ID card gets Kent into?'
'It says that he's a fireworks technician,' Nell noted before scanning the ID so that she could run the logo on it.
'And we know that he's not,' Deeks told her. 'Which is why we think that it's a forgery.'
'Actually…' Nell began hurriedly typing. 'I was running reports of any incidents that had anything to do with the fireworks, and one of the incidents was that a technician was mugged three days ago. Her purse was taken, and never recovered.'
'You think this could be the tech's missing ID card?' Kensi asked.
'Well, where was the tech working?' Deeks asked.
'The fireworks at Hollywood,' Nell told them, her eyes wide.
Suddenly, another computer beeped, and Eric slid across the Ops Centre floor on his swivel chair to it. 'Kaleidoscope got a hit on Kent's car.'
'Thank God,' Callen muttered, leaning on the back of Eric's chair.
'West Hollywood,' Eric said, pointing at a silver Toyota Prius as it passed through a set of traffic lights.
'Where's he headed, Eric?' Sam asked, his car keys already out of his pocket.
Eric typed frantically, and pulled up a map with a small moving red dot on it. 'Looks like… where the fireworks have been placed.'
'Are you kidding me?' Deeks asked.
Suddenly, something else beeped. 'Ooh! The laptop's been unlocked.' Eric slid back across the room to his original computer and rapidly began typing at the laptop. 'Internet history,' he muttered. 'Favourites… Fanfiction, Reddit dot com, Facebook… Google maps.'
Eric clicked on the link and pulled up the last map that Kent had been looking at. 'Bingo. That's where the fireworks at Hollywood are.'
'We should get going,' Sam said, nervously fiddling with his keys.
'We should,' Deeks said, looking up at the countdown clock. 'We've got less than three hours to find him, find the bomb and diffuse it too.'
'And reconnect the fireworks,' Kensi added.
Deeks looked at her in confusion. 'Really?'
'If those fireworks don't go off at exactly midnight there will be panic. Even if a bomb doesn't go off, people will know something is wrong,' Callen told the detective. 'Come on. We've got to make sure that this will be a happy new year.'
And they left to save Los Angeles once again.
31st December, 2012, 2210 hours
'Deeks, Kensi, take the west side, make your way over to the fireworks,' Callen said, nodding to them as they got out of Kensi's silver SRX.
'Yup,' Kensi said, nodding with a serious look on her face.
Both turned back to face the older partnership. 'Yeah?'
'Be a bit less conspicuous. Act like you're here to enjoy New Year's Eve, not look for a… well, you know,' Callen said, subtly nodding towards the thousands of civilians that were around them. 'And for God's sake, whatever you do, don't spook Kent. We'll take the east side.'
Deeks slung an arm around his partner, and began steering her towards one of the many bars that had popped up around the open area and immediately started acting as if he were already slightly buzzed. Kensi caught on almost immediately and began acting just as tipsy and a little bit clingy, as if Deeks were her lover.
'Those two scare me, sometimes, the way they can slide into those covers,' Sam said, shaking his head.
'Which cover?' Callen asked.
'Well, in this case, the tipsy but not drunk couple intent on enjoying their night out and making it seem as if they definitely plan on enjoying some private time together later,' Sam replied.
'How could you possibly tell if that's their game plan?' Callen questioned, brow wrinkling as he frowned.
'You see Deeks' hand's position?' Sam asked, watching the younger partners dissolve into the crowd.
'What- oh,' Callen breathed as he spotted them, and Deeks' hand, which was bravely positioned on Kensi's butt. 'Deeks is a very brave man.'
'If I didn't know better, I'd think that Deeks thinks that he'll be getting a kiss at midnight,' Sam chuckled. 'C'mon. Let's find Kent.'
'Kens, I know that you know where my hand is currently positioned, and I'd like you to know that if we weren't pretending to be a slightly drunk couple right now, it would not be in that position,' Deeks murmured into her ear before pressing a kiss to her cheek.
'Deeks,' she growled, a fake smile plastered on her face.
'Relax, Kens,' he laughed, snagging a couple of beer bottles with his free hand and passing one to her.
'What are you doing, Deeks?' she asked, staring warily at the beer as if it were another bomb.
'We're pretending to be drunk. We're not gonna convince anyone of that if we don't have a drink in our hands,' Deeks whispered to her, keeping a careful eye on the crowd for Kent.
'In that case.' Kensi looked around the crowded place carefully before tipping out half of her beer. 'How am I supposed to be drunk when my beer bottle's still full?'
'The three that you've already had,' Deeks quipped.
Kensi rolled her eyes and subtly elbowed him in the ribs, but not enough to have him visibly wincing. 'Callen, Sam, you have eyes on Kent yet?'
'No,' Callen's voice came into their ears. 'Have you seen anything?'
'Nothing,' Deeks murmured. 'Callen, what if this guy isn't here? What if Kent's set the bomb and then run?'
'No,' Callen whispered. 'Kent will want to see his success.'
'What if the bomb isn't here?' Kensi questioned.
'We will know if the bomb is here around a quarter to twelve,' Sam said with a tone of certainty. 'Jerry said that the email will be sent around half past eleven. If we're right, there will be a flood of extra people here around that time. If we're wrong, Eric is monitoring the other sites in Venice and Santa Monica. He and Nell will notice an influx of people and notify us.'
'But there won't be time for us to get there,' Kensi hissed.
'But there will be time for us to notify the bomb squad,' Eric said, suddenly coming into the conversation. 'And I wouldn't worry about the bomb being elsewhere. We've got eyes on Kent.'
'Where?' Sam whispered.
'Sam, Callen, he's at your twelve o'clock. Literally directly in front of you,' Nell said in their ears.
'Alright, Kensi, Deeks, we'll take care of him. You keep searching for the bomb,' Callen ordered.
'On it,' Deeks said, going back into tipsy couple mode, wrapping his right arm around Kensi's waist while casually checking his watch on his left arm.
'How much longer, sweetheart?' Kensi asked, giving him a smile that he knew was fake. He'd seen too many real Kensi smiles to fall for a fake one.
'Only have to wait another hour and a half until you get your midnight kiss, gorgeous,' Deeks replied before planting a kiss in her hair.
In their ears they could hear Callen and Sam bitching about the amount of people that were present, making it hard for them to close in on Kent, but they ignored it, instead continuing their weaving through the heavy crowd towards the building where they knew that the fireworks and hopefully the bomb had been set on top of.
'G, you got eyes on?' Sam asked through the earwig, having been separated from his partner by the heavy crowd and the need to box Kent in.
'No. Eric, where is this guy?' Callen asked.
'He's on your nine and Sam's twelve. Seriously, Sam, he's right in front of you,' Eric said.
'It's easy for you to see him,' Sam grumbled. 'You've got an aerial view. I'm trying to see over a bunch of people who are currently dancing Gangnam Style.'
'That's what they're doing?' Nell asked.
'You couldn't tell from the footage?' Callen asked. 'Or the music?'
'Honestly, half of them look like they're suffering spasms, not dancing,' Eric said.
'Not everyone has rhythm,' Callen said.
'G, if you break out your running man, I will not stop the woman from sticking her Epipen into you this time,' Sam told him seriously. 'Last time you danced, someone thought that you were having a seizure.'
'She was just joking… right?' Callen asked.
'No, G. She wasn't- I've got eyes.'
The song ended, and the crowd thinned a little, just enough for Callen to be able to edge through and say, just loud enough for him to hear 'Lucas Kent?'
Kent took one look at Callen before bolting.
'Shit. He's running,' Callen said before trying to push his way through the thick crowd. 'Kensi, Deeks, where are you positioned?'
'North-east corner,' Kensi quickly answered.
'He's headed towards you,' Eric informed the agent and the detective.
'We're on him,' Deeks immediately replied, and the two partners continued their drunken not-so-subtle-lovers act in the direction that Kent was shoving – the direction of the building with the bomb.
Kent glanced behind him to see both Callen and Sam pushing their way through the thick forest of people and immediately doubled his speed before careening into a couple, making the woman drop her beer, which splashed all over them.
'Hey!' the man exclaimed, clearly drunk, a half drunk bottle of beer in his hand. 'That's my girl you just slammed into.'
'Sorry,' Kent muttered before trying to move past.
'Sorry?' the man exclaimed. 'That's all you have to say?'
Kent tried to move past him again.
'Hey! No-one shoves me, and they don't bump my girl.' And with that, the man heavily slugged Kent in the face. Kent, stunned by this, slumped down at Callen and Sam's feet.
'Did you really have to hit him quite so hard?' Callen asked, grabbing one of his arms and dragging him up.
'He knocked into my girl and spilled her beer,' Deeks said simply, shrugging. 'I'm "drunk", what am I supposed to do? My judgement is clearly impaired, both by alcohol and beauty.'
Sam laughed, grabbed Kent's other arm and dragged him up. 'You okay, Kens?'
'Just some beer on my boots,' Kensi said, shrugging. 'I had my "drunk" knight in shining armour to take care of me, after all.'
Callen chuckled. 'We'll take Kent to some uniforms, get them to take him back to the boatshed. You two…'
'Find the bomb,' Deeks sighed. 'We know.'
'Great.' And with that, Callen and Sam began to frogmarch Kent towards an exit.
'How much time do we have left, Deeks?' Kensi asked, leaning into her partner.
He checked his watch and then showed it to her.
'Shoot,' she cursed softly. 'Has that much time really gone past?'
'I know,' he murmured. 'We've only got half an hour left.'
31st December, 2012, 2335 hours
'Take him to this address,' Callen said, handing the uniformed police officer a card with an address on it, while Sam pushed Kent into the back of the marked car.
'You can't stop it,' Kent sneered. 'You won't be able to figure it out in time.'
'Think again, genius,' Sam said, shaking his head. 'We found your secret basement. And your laptop. And your plans. Just tell us, Kent, who helped you? There were three people breaking into the base. Where are they?'
Kent's eyes narrowed. 'I'll never tell,' he declared grandly.
'Well, we're gonna get a DNA match to the guy who got shot soon anyway, so it's not that crucial, but it would look a lot better to a jury if we could tell them that you cooperated when it was important.'
'Never,' Kent whispered and Callen groaned before slamming the door shut on him.
'We'll get them, G.'
Callen touched his earwig. 'Kensi, Deeks, be on the lookout for Kent's associates. He won't tell us who they are. They're probably in there right now, maybe even with the bomb.'
'We're on it,' Deeks said automatically.
'Be careful. I don't want to start this year waiting in a hospital for one of your shot-up asses,' Sam warned them.
'Yup,' Kensi said tersely before turning off her earwig.
'Twenty minutes, Kens,' Deeks said nervously, checking his watch.
'We've got to get to the top of that building,' Kensi said, pointing.
'We do,' Deeks agreed.
'Come on.' Kensi grabbed his hand and began to pull him through the crowd.
'You know, usually I'd be pretty happy for a woman to be dragging me into a secluded place,' Deeks said idly, pushing through the crowd next to her.
'You going to try and tell me that I'm not your type again?' Kensi joked.
'No, I'd be lying. But this secluded place has a… well, you know,' Deeks said, motioning to the top of the building.
Kensi discreetly showed her badge to the cop at the door.
'Is everything alright, ma'am?' the uniform asked.
'Just last minute checks,' Kensi said, giving him a disarming smile.
The pair jogged up the stairs, panting enough with exertion to prevent conversation.
Finally, they reached the top and Deeks put one hand on the door handle and the other one pulled his weapon out from his waistband.
'Ready?' he whispered.
Kensi checked her magazine. 'Ready.'
'Three, two, one…'
Deeks threw the door open, and Kensi went through, Deeks on her heels.
Suddenly, a man clad in a fluorescent vest appeared. The partners both recognised him as a firework technician, and also as one of the men from the base break-in video from his limp, caused by his gunshot wound to the ass.
'Federal agents! Get down on the ground!' Kensi yelled.
The man pulled a gun from his back, and pointed it at them before squeezing the trigger. One bullet flew harmlessly past them before they both retaliated, both bullets felling him.
'There was one more on the video,' Deeks panted, kicking the man's gun away from his reach.
'The bomb should be over there,' Kensi whispered, pointing to the far corner of the roof.
Deeks checked his watch. 'Ten minutes.'
Kensi motioned to herself, and then one side of the roof, and then to him, and the other side. Deeks nodded seriously before setting off.
They quickly surrounded the remaining man at the bomb, who was quick to put his hands up. Deeks took his weapons and cuffed him to a pole a few metres away before joining his partner at the bomb.
'How much time have we got, partner?' she asked, motioning to the bomb.
'Five minutes exactly,' Deeks panted, checking his watch.
'Alright.' Kensi tapped her earwig, and Deeks followed suit.
'Eric? You there, buddy?' Deeks asked.
'Yeah. Do you have the bomb, or should I start running?' Eric asked, quite seriously.
'There's no time to get bomb squad out here, is there?' Kensi asked.
'Not at all,' Eric agreed.
'Alright, then,' Kensi sighed. 'We're going to have to do this by ourselves.'
'We've got the plans here, guys,' Nell said. 'We've been studying it, and we can help you through it. Have you got pliers and a good light source?'
'We got pliers,' Kensi said, taking them out of her pocket.
'And now we've got a light source,' Deeks said, shining his torch on the wiring.
'Okay. You need to cut the red, blue, black and white wires,' Eric directed.
Kensi and Deeks exchanged a look before Kensi carefully snipped the wires.
'Done,' Kensi said.
'Right. You need to position yourselves so that the red wire is the furthest away from you, and the black wire is the closest,' Nell instructed.
'It's already done,' Deeks told her.
'Alright. You need to take the red wire on the right side and the blue wire on the left side and join them.'
Deeks watched in silence as Kensi quickly stripped the wires and joined the two.
'Done,' Kensi whispered.
'Take the white wire on the left side and the red wire on the left side and join them,' Eric said.
Kensi again did it quickly. 'Done.'
'Blue wire on right side and black wire on right side,' Nell said quickly.
Quickly, Kensi did it. 'Yup.'
'Join the black wire on the left with the white on the right,' Eric breathed.
Deeks exchanged a look with Kensi before Kensi quickly did it. 'Alright, is there anything else? Quickly, Eric, we've only got a little over a minute left.'
'There is a pink wire beneath all of the other wires. Almost flush with the bottom of the bomb. Do you see it?'
'There,' Deeks murmured, pointing.
'Yes, we've got it,' Kensi said.
'You need to cut it.'
'Why, Eric?' Deeks asked.
'The fireworks will go off, thanks to your previous rewiring, but so will the bomb.'
'Alright, then…' Kensi carefully positioned the pliers so that she could cut it and took a breath before closing her eyes. She opened them again when she felt a warm hand settle around hers.
Deeks was looking down at her with an unreadable expression in his eyes. 'If we blow this place up, we do it together. Partner?'
Kensi took his free hand with hers. 'Partner.'
Suddenly, the crowd below them began to chant.
Kensi and Deeks exchanged a look.
Pushing through the crowd towards where Kensi and Deeks were, Callen and Sam exchanged a look before firmly crossing their fingers.
In the Ops Centre, Nell and Eric joined hands.
In her office, Hetty sat back with a cup of tea in her hands.
The crowd swelled beneath them, getting more and more excited.
'Deeks,' Kensi whispered.
'We'll be okay, Kens.'
'Three,' Deeks whispered.
'Two,' Kensi murmured.
'One,' they said together before pressing down and snipping the wire.
1st January, 2013, 0000 hours
'Happy New Year!'
Kensi stared at Deeks in amazement. 'We're alive?'
A smile slowly spread across Deeks' face before he jumped up and spun around dizzily. 'We're ALIVE!'
He grabbed his partner's hands before twirling her around and hugging her tightly, both laughing hysterically.
'You do know that it's tradition to kiss a hot guy at midnight on New Year's Eve, right?' Kensi asked, giving him a small smile.
'I haven't heard that one. However, I do know that it's good luck to kiss the most beautiful girl you can find at midnight on New Year's Eve,' Deeks said, smirking down at her. 'Oh, look!' he laughed. 'I seem to be holding her.'
She stretched up, and he leaned down and their lips met in the middle.
'They did it, Nell!' Eric exclaimed, laughing.
'We did it, Eric,' Nell reminded him, squeezing his hand.
'Yeah,' Eric said softly, smiling at his partner. 'We did.'
Eric experienced a sense of déjà vu as his partner placed her hand on the nape of his neck to pull him down to her height.
'There isn't any mistletoe this time,' Eric whispered, looking into her eyes.
'I know. Is that a problem?' Nell asked, a wicked smile on her lips.
'Not at all.' And Eric pressed his lips against hers.
1st January, 2013, 0003 hours
They finally broke apart to the sound of slow clapping.
'Congratulations, Deeks,' Callen said dryly. 'You diffused the bomb and got the girl. Feel like James Bond yet?'
'Not at all,' Deeks said, one arm around Kensi. 'She diffused the bomb, and then she got me. I've always said that she's like a female Bourne.'
Callen and Sam laughed. 'That's one way of putting it,' Sam said.
Deeks jumped as a firework went off particularly close to them. 'You know, I've started to not feel so safe up here.'
'Started?' Kensi snorted.
'Good point,' he said, nodding to her. 'Can we get out of here?'
'Absolutely,' Callen agreed. 'They look nice, but they're awfully loud when you're close to them.'
Sam and Callen disappeared back down the stairs, but Kensi slowed, looking up at the explosions in the sky.
'They are awfully pretty, aren't they?' she said softly, staring up at sparkles of silver and gold.
'They are,' Deeks murmured, looking down at her.
She caught his eye and blushed. 'You're so corny, Deeks.'
'I know, but it's no less the truth. You're beautiful.'
Kensi laughed and took his hand, tugging him to the stairs. 'Come on, Deeks.'
1st January, 2013, 0034 hours
'Happy new year,' Hetty said to her team as they shuffled sleepily into the Ops Centre.
'Champagne?' Callen asked, eyeing the tall flutes sitting on the centre table. 'What happened to no food or drink in Ops, Hetty?'
'Occasions like these call for a little bending of the rules,' Hetty said, motioning for the team to pick theirs up. 'To a new year,' she said, raising her glass.
'To the non-apocalypse,' Sam quipped.
'To saving the world,' Deeks laughed, slipping his free hand into Kensi's.
'To fireworks, and not bombs,' Kensi chuckled.
'To friends,' Nell said quietly.
'To family,' Eric said, looking around at his.
'To relationships, both old and new,' Callen said, looking at Kensi and Deeks.
'Happy New Year!' Sam said, lifting his champagne flute high.
'Happy New Year!'
Wow. If you stuck with me to the end of this story, well done! My longest, at almost 13,000 words. XD If you did stick with me until the end of this story, please take a few minutes more and review in that handily placed box down there. You know the one that I'm talking about.
P.S. HAPPY NEW YEAR!