Knock, knock, knock.
"I'm sleeping!" Deeks folds his arms across his chest, the very picture of a petulant child. She can't see him from the other side of the door, but it still makes him feel better.
"Come on, Deeks. Let me in?"
He tosses a piece of popcorn into his mouth and shouts, "Nobody's home!"
"Are you going to make me pick your lock?"
He pushes off the couch and crosses the room. "Heaven forbid you put in any effort!"
Okay, so he's being a little bit of a baby, but he's upset. His feelings are hurt. He's allowed to have feelings.
"I'm allowed to have feelings," he tells her as he swings the door open.
She's crouched, lock pick in hand. She drops her arms to her sides and stands. "I know you are."
She looks contrite, but it isn't endearing her to him at all. (Okay, maybe just the tiniest bit. But he sure as hell isn't going to admit it.) "Can I come in, please?"
"I don't want you to."
"Yes, you do."
He puts his arm up on the door frame, preventing her entrance. "No, I don't. I'm having a birthday party in here and you aren't on the guest list."
She looks around his arm. "There's no one in there."
She looks again. "I don't see him."
"It was a pretty crazy party. He had to retire early."
She sighs. "Please let me in?"
Grudgingly, he drops his arm and turns around, walking back into his living room and flopping onto his couch. "Fine. But don't plan on staying. I have things to do."
She comes into the apartment and closes the door behind her, dropping a paper bag beside the table where he puts his keys. "You're kinda acting like an eight-year-old here."
He fights the urge to send her right back out the door. "Well, if you had any idea when my birthday is, you'd know that I'm thirty-four."
"I'm really sorry," she says, perching on the arm of the couch. "I knew it was in January, I even knew it was on a day that had the number eight in it. I just..."
He puts his feet on the coffee table and settles deeper into the couch. "I was dropping hints all day."
"I thought you were hinting that it's coming up!"
"You are the worst detective ever." He picks up the remote control and un-mutes the television. Some very melodramatic actress is crying about something. He decides someone probably forgot her birthday, too.
"I almost died today," she reminds him, as if it's some kind of defense.
He shrugs. "Just proves my point."
"Deeks." She reaches over, snags the remote, and hits the power button. "Come on, I'm really sorry. I didn't feel like I could cancel on Jaime, or I would have taken you out."
Heaven forbid she offend Jaime. "How was your date?"
"He brought his mom."
Deeks leans forward and grabs his beer. "Sounds pretty serious."
"Seriously awkward, yeah." She nods toward his beer. "You going to offer me one?"
He takes a swig. "I'm not really motivated to, no."
"Really? You're not forgiving me?"
He slides his feet off the table, puts his beer down and turns to face her, his expression serious. "No, Kensi. I'm not forgiving you." He shakes his head. "Not tonight, anyway."
"Deeks, it's just a birthday."
If only that were true. "It's not just a birthday. It's," he runs a hand through his hair, trying to think of the best way to explain, "it's us."
She frowns, clearly taken by surprise. "What do you mean?"
What does he mean? He wipes a hand over his face and sighs. Working through this aloud probably isn't the best idea. Also, he's pretty sure Ann Landers would tell him to wait twenty-four hours before responding to a perceived slight. His brain gives the order to shut up, but, in typical Deeks fashion, his mouth completely ignores it.
"I know things are fuzzy with us, and I know you like to pretend to blow me off, like everything I say is the butt of a joke, but that's what I thought it was - pretending. And then today I realized that maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I am just a punch line to you."
She slides down onto the couch beside him. "That's not fair."
"Isn't it? This, this thing that we do," he makes a vague gesture between them, "is it just recreational for you? A way to pass the time?"
She shakes her head, but he can't tell if she's disagreeing or still just confused. "You're blowing this way out of proportion."
"Maybe. Probably," he acknowledges. "It's just that I assumed, I never even," he trips over the words as they continue coming, "I just figured it was a given that we'd hang out, that I'd spend the evening with you. And it didn't even cross my mind that I'd need to schedule it." He turns his attention to the television, watching their reflections in the darkened screen as he admits, "I know I sound like an ass right now, and I really wish I could shut myself up. It's just that I thought I knew what I meant to you, Kens, but now I'm not sure."
He bites his tongue to keep himself from going any further. Where are those famous California quakes when you need the Earth to open up and swallow you whole?
"Deeks." When he doesn't turn to face her, she puts a hand on his arm. "Deeks, come on."
Reluctantly, he meets her gaze.
"You're missing the point."
"Yeah? And what's that?"
"I didn't forget your birthday, I just remembered the wrong date." She stands and makes her way over to the entryway, collecting the paper bag and returning to the couch. She holds it out to him. "I thought I had ten more days to wrap it."
"You got me a present?"
She drops back onto the couch. "Of course I got you a present." She nods to the bag. "Open it."
He does, looking inside and reaching for the item at the bottom. He pulls it out and frowns. "A ski hat."
"Turn it around."
He does, reading the bright pink letters. "Ski Bunny."
She reaches into her pocket and pulls out an envelope. She holds it out to him.
He takes it, opening it to find two pieces of paper. "Lift tickets?"
"We missed Tahoe."
He fiddles with the papers in his hand. "Yeah, I just figured -"
"I didn't want to miss Tahoe," she interrupts, either ashamed of or afraid to find out what it was he thought. "You weren't wrong to think we'd spend your birthday together - to assume. Of course we would."
He doesn't say anything. He can tell she's trying, but it just doesn't feel like enough.
She reaches out as if she's going to grab his hand, but it falls short, resting on the couch beside his thigh. "You're exactly what you think you are to me, Deeks."
He finds that really hard to believe. "And what do I think I am?"
"My partner. My best friend. My," she shrugs, almost helplessly, "my Deeks."
"Am I, Kens? Am I really?" He looks at her hand, at the distance between them. "It didn't feel like it today. Today it felt we were back in the California desert and you were hassling me about being a Barbie doll. Like everything that's happened since then just didn't matter."
"It did matter," she insists. "It does."
He shakes his head. "You say that; you say a lot of things, but it doesn't feel like it. And to me, that's what's important. You mock things I've done and that I consider accomplishments. You were completely unmoved by the fact someone in my life was in danger." He pushes off the couch and steps away. "I felt today like I was somehow inferior to the rest of the team, and after all we've been through that's a whole lot less than I deserve."
She draws her hand back into her lap and twists her fingers together. Her voice is soft. "And on top of that, we forgot your birthday."
"And even when Hetty told you about it, you still picked Jaime over me."
Her eyes shoot up. "I didn't pick -"
"You did," he interrupts, not willing to hear her defense. "You felt your obligation to him was more important than your obligation to me." He frowns at the words. "Fuck, Kens. Here I am upset that I'm not even an obligation to you. All this time," he trails off, letting the sentence go unfinished.
She stands and looks like she wants to cross to him, but doesn't.
He saves her the trouble of pushing herself and waves her off. "I think you should go."
Her expression morphs into total confusion. "What? No. I'm not going to just leave."
"I want you to."
She shakes her head, determination clear on her features. "I don't want to. I want to fix this."
"I can't imagine anything you could say that would fix it."
Tears sparkle in her eyes - her stupid, beautiful eyes - and she takes a step toward him. "I have to fix it, Deeks. We can't stay like this."
He doesn't bother to plaster on a fake smile. "It won't. I'll be good old Deeks again tomorrow morning at work."
"You won't be. You shouldn't be."
"I will be." He jams his hands into his pockets to ensure he doesn't act on the desire to brush away the tears that are starting to fall down her cheeks. "Goodnight, Kens."
He shakes his head. "Goodnight, Kens."
She sniffs once and swipes at her tears. She's looking for him to give in, for him to change his mind, but he can't. He won't. There aren't words to resolve this thing that's come between them - only actions, and that won't happen tonight.
If they happen at all.
"I'm sorry," she says, voice shaky.
He nods and leads her to the door. She's sorry, he's sure, and a big part of him just wants to blow it off - to forgive her and move on - but if no one else is going to treat him like a person with actual feelings, then at least he will.
"See you in the morning," he says, closing the door behind her without giving her a chance to respond.
He returns to the couch and reaches for his beer, but he doesn't take another sip. He knows she's still out there - knows she's standing on the other side, forehead pressed against the wood, but he makes no move to acknowledge her.
He replays the day in his mind, goes over every detail and tries to find some sort of explanation. He tries to rationalize how things played out the way they did; tries to make excuses. But the bottom line is that today stripped him of something he's spent the last two years building and it really, really hurts.
He watches his front window until he finally sees her shadow pass. Only then does he allow himself to exhale.