Disclaimer: Not mine. Just playing with them and promise not to break anything (more than what's broken already).

Story notes: Post "Descent" with Deeks/Kensi (other OSP staffers appear but mostly Deeks and Kensi). A smidge of adult language. Multiple chapter story.

1. "In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer." - Albert Camus, "The Stranger"

May 17, 2013

He was vaguely aware he was in a bed and not strapped to a chair which he thought was good since he was exhausted and felt like shit. Of course, he felt like shit because of what happened in the chair. He was hoping the bed would be better. Hard to be worse.

May 19, 2013

He thought it was Kensi sleeping with her head near his leg. He hoped she found him and they were safe. If Sidorov had them, he hoped they were both dead because he couldn't live with himself if she was captured trying to rescue him.

May 21, 2013

There was arguing in the background. His thoughts immediately went to his parents but the voices were too low so it couldn't be them. Gordon and Ellie screamed their drunken hatred for each other before good old Gordo would end the fight with his fists. No, these were hushed, angry voices. And he couldn't remember his father using the word "cannon fodder" ever. Motherfucker, yes. Cannon fodder, probably not.

May 22, 2013

"Wake up, mi hijo. You're scaring everyone." He wanted to get up, he really did. He was just so tired and everything hurt. "Martin, enough of this," said a different voice a little later. "Nobody likes a drama king."

May 23, 2013

Everything still hurt. He looked around the room and saw some deflating mylar balloons, a sad little floral arrangement that was probably half its original size and two empty vases. Oh yeah, there was Nate reading Maus. He remembered reading Maus in college. He wanted to tell Nate that but his mouth didn't work right. Trying again, he started to choke on his own saliva. Nate jumped up and rushed to his side. "Hold on Marty, I'll get help," Nate's tone was soothing as he grabbed something on the bed. Suddenly, the room was full of people and he was finally awake.

July 5, 2013

Their greetings were oddly similar - "Hey man, great to see you." "Hey, you've been missed." "Hey, glad to see you're out and about." - as he walked through the gym. They seemed almost sincere but nobody mentioned how genuinely awful he looked.

A walk through the main hallway brought him to the bullpen where Callen was busy with his laptop. Deeks decided to borrow the "Hey man, great to see you" line for Callen.

"Deeks, what are you doing here?" Callen stood and walked over. Shaking Deeks's hand, Callen actually sounded sincere when he offered his "It's good to see you."

"Had some medical stuff to drop off for LAPD and Hetty. I planned to stop by earlier but my visit to headquarters was a lot longer than I thought it would be." A lot.

"Is that a good thing or a bad thing?" Callen asked, leaning on Sam's desk.

"More of an 'it is what it is' thing," Deeks shrugged his shoulders and tried not to flinch. "I'm done with all the dental work. I've been speaking to the department appointed therapist twice a week. Even Skype'd with Nate this week. Still having other issues with the rib cage and shoulder and need to put back some weight before I can be physically cleared to return to work."

"You've been laying low."

"Really haven't been up to much so there's not much to say. And if there was something to say, a month's worth of dental surgery sort of made it impossible."

"How much weight have you lost?"

"About twenty-five pounds. It's not the weight as much as the strength and stamina I'm missing. Swimming's hard, working out is worse," Deeks sort of half-smiled. "I drew the line with my doctor when he wanted to prescribe Ensure with every meal."

"I've seen you with a plate of fish tacos, you'll catch up before you know it. Sam mentioned he tried to call before he, Michelle and the family were moved to a safe house."

"I didn't know they were in a safe house. Wow. No, I had about three weeks where I was just going to the dentist all day then going to bed. Didn't even say much to Monty."

"I think Sam tried to stop by your place."

"Staying at a friend's. He is on a long undercover assignment and his place is real close to the dentist." Actually it was in the same high rise as the dentist's office making blowing off an appointment impossible.

"Deeks!" Nell called from the top of the stairs. "You're back!" She raced downstairs with Eric in tow. "I'd hug you but I don't want to hurt you."

Deeks leaned down and gave Nell a gentle hug. He shared a bro hug with Eric, though he winced when Eric gave him a hearty pat on the back. "Miss seeing you here and at the beach," Eric told him.

"Miss being seen at the beach. Miss the beach."

"Deeks," Kensi half-said, half-gasped as she entered the bullpen. Deeks noticed her hair was a little damp. "When did you get here?"

"Just got here. Have to drop off some medical forms with Hetty and figured I'd say hello," he told her. "Hello."

"Hi," she returned his greeting.

"Mr. Deeks, so good to see you," Hetty greeted him warmly as she walked in from the courtyard. "I didn't know you planned a visit. After you're done with the others, please stop by my office." She patted him gently on the arm as she walked away. Before walking to her office, Hetty turned back to the group. "Mr. Beale, Miss Jones, have all the intelligence files been transmitted to the Navy Yard?"

"Almost, we should probably get back to that," Eric answered, pulling Nell to the stairs. "Great seeing you, man," Eric waved to Deeks.

"Mr. Callen, has the final after-action report about your trip to New York concerning the Sidorov investigation been filed?" Hetty asked.

"No, I'll get right on that." Callen turned back to Deeks. "It is good to see you."

"Thanks, man."

"And I probably should finish my expense report," Kensi moved to her desk and opened her laptop. "We can catch up when you're done with Hetty," Kensi told Deeks.

"I guess we can," Deeks said. Seeing how efficiently Hetty cleared the room, he made his way over to her office. "Would now be a good time to talk?" Deeks asked, standing by her desk.

Pointing to the guest chair, Hetty said, "Now would be a perfect time, especially since I have a seven o'clock flight."

Sitting down and carefully easing his messenger bag strap over his head, Deeks asked "Is my security clearance high enough to ask where you're going?"

"A friend has a lovely villa in Tuscany. A few weeks of relaxing in the sun with good food and good company restores the soul. I've encouraged everyone on staff to not only take some time off but to go somewhere, enjoy the world." She pointed to his messenger bag. "Do you have paperwork for me?"

Deeks pulled out a thick folder and passed it to her. "All the dental work is done but I've been warned not to be hit in the mouth for at least six weeks. The department shrink thinks I'm dealing as well as anyone can with what happened. I don't know what Nate told you but I'm guessing since nobody threw a net over me when I walked in, I'm probably not scaring him either. The costochondral separation is slowly healing but it is healing. Any sort of pressure on my chest or ribs just hurts right now. Good news is my shoulder is getting better. I'm not where I need to be physically to return to work but with this place shutting down for a month and my mouth, my ribs and ..."

"Should we expect you around Labor Day?"

"Well, that's the other reason I'm here. Have you spoken to Roger Bates?"

"When you were hospitalized. He was very unhappy with your injuries and how they came about as we all were."

"He's still unhappy."

"How unhappy, Mr. Deeks?"

"I spent the last two-hours getting an earful from Bates, Deputy Chief Warner, even my union rep and my old handler were at the meeting. Well, they didn't call it a meeting."

"What did they call it?"

"Bates called it an intervention. He thinks I'm being badly misused by your agency and I guess I'm not bright enough to know I'm in trouble."

"He thinks that, does he?"

"I've had two significant injuries in the last three years. Both caused me to miss a serious amount of work, both could have killed me."

"But didn't."

Deeks looked down and then at her, chuckling a little before answering. "Yeah, I tried that and since he wants to speak with you before he considers allowing me to return here, I would advise you not to go there."

"Why not?"

"According to Bates, a positive outcome does not reflect a successful plan." After his fifth straight five-hour day in the dentist's chair two weeks ago, he wasn't so sure the words positive and outcome were true for this situation anyway. "He thinks I was shot so someone could get to Kensi. I got a taste of Russian dentistry and a pretty good beating protecting Sam and Michelle. If I come back, what purpose do I serve other than being good at taking a beating?"

"He wonders what LAPD is getting out of this besides medical bills."

"He wonders why I'm looking to return to a position where I'm getting badly hurt over and over again."

"Both Mr. Hanna and his wife suffered injuries during the case. Miss Blye..."

"All things I tried to explain to him. I even tried to explain that the shooting had as much to do with my carelessness as anything else but wow, that didn't sit well either. Warner said I sounded like an abused wife." It was the only time Deeks was angry during the conversation. He sounded like many things in his life, never an abused wife.

Hetty nodded her head. "Where do you stand on all of this, Mr. Deeks? I made you an offer a few years ago, an offer I would gladly make again. You explained that you feel you are a police officer so I am happy to have the liaison position available to me."

"Bates is thinking about ending the program," Deeks told her. Not completely a lie. "He thinks you're using me as "cannon fodder" to protect "your agents" - his words."

"At the hospital, I tried to assure him that you're as much one of my agents as Mr. Callen, Mr. Hanna or Miss Blye."

"Another sore spot, I'm guessing, since he considers me one of his detectives and not one of your agents. Bates wants to know why I was working with Sam not Kensi and if you answer the reason is classified or a matter of national security, not only is he ending the program, he's going to recommend the liaison positions with the DEA, FBI, Homeland and ICE be ended as well using NCIS as proof that information flows one way with the Feds."

Hetty nodded. "I will find a way to answer any questions he may have."

"Other answers he's going to want are why there wasn't back-up available immediately? Why an agency with surveillance equipment that is the envy of every law enforcement agency in the world sent two task force members out with tracking devices, communication gear and cell phones that couldn't survive five minutes in a swimming pool? He brought up Stan King and the fact that NCIS was able to track Kensi but didn't find Sam and me for over a day."

"The Stan King situation was different," Hetty argued.

"Bates agrees. Kensi wound up with a bruised jaw and I had a sore hand. I've had close to one-hundred grand in dental bills alone and can't work for probably three more months."

"The stakes were incredibly high with Sidorov."

"And he knows from friends in military intelligence that Kensi and Callen found two of the nukes in a cargo warehouse by Kennedy Airport and the third nobody knew about in a shipping terminal four blocks from the boat shed. Since I nearly got killed, he would have liked a debrief on that. He was also wondering why the nukes couldn't be found until what happened, happened. How, again, a world class intelligence agency couldn't find a nuclear weapon stored a five minute walk from one of their facilities?"

"I'd be happy to speak to him today, if you feel that's needed."

"He needs to cool down. I need to be back, healthy and able to defend myself and my actions."

"There's nothing for you to defend, Detective. Everything you did was what your assignment and Agent Hanna required. You should not spend one minute of your recovery time thinking that you are at fault. The SecNav, your Chief of Police and the directors of the CIA, NCIS and Homeland Security have been advised of your bravery. Your name has been put in for a number of commendations. Commendations I expect you will receive."

Deeks shrugged, getting a professional pat on the back would be better if he didn't feel like whimpering every time he got an actual pat on the back. "Well, there's another reason I'm here. I'm sort of falling off the grid for a few weeks."

"Falling off the grid? You haven't been on the grid since you were released from the hospital. I know Mr. Hanna and Miss Blye have both tried to contact you. Lt. Bates never returned Mr. Hanna's calls but he did tell Miss Blye you were in a safe house and would pass along only urgent messages."

Deeks frowned, he didn't know about that. "I wasn't at a safe house. A friend is on a long undercover assignment. I've been using the guest room in his apartment, his truck when I was cleared to drive last week. Bates should have told you I was just laying low."

"Mr. Deeks," Hetty sounded concerned. "I feel you're pulling away from us."

"No Hetty. Just trying to get better and deal with what's happened."

"There are people here who were desperate to help you deal with what happened. They couldn't find you."

"Maybe I needed to figure out how to help myself first," Deeks said, shrugging his shoulders and wincing this time.

Hetty frowned. "Mr. Hanna said the two of you had some unresolved issues before he left."

"Nothing unresolved. Sam made himself clear and based on what happened to us, he may have had a point."

"Detective, please do not do anything in haste. Rest. Recover. When you decide what you want professionally and personally, come see me and we will talk it through. Saving Mr. Hanna and his family came at a terrible cost to you."

"I did my job Hetty. It was what I've always done. I told Sam while he was complaining about working with me and I'll tell you now, I have everyone's back here. Always have. I thought you all knew that. Thought wrong I guess," Deeks sighed, suddenly exhausted. "You have all the updated medical records. I'm just going to say goodbye to everyone and let them get their work done before everything here shuts down for the month. Enjoy Tuscany," he told her as he stood.

"Mr. Deeks..."

"Hetty, I'm not making any decisions in the next few weeks." Not that he'd be the one making decisions.

"Is that because you've already made your decision?"

"No. Just trying to get healthy." Well, Deeks thought, at least that second part was completely true.

"How can we get in touch with you if there is an emergency?"

"Lt. Bates issued me a new LAPD phone today. I'm not even sure what the new number is. If you need me, Bates can find me. And you can tell him I told you if there is an emergency or an important reason, I want to be found." Deeks figured another conversation with Bates today defending NCIS would lead his LAPD boss to scheduling a cult deprogramming session.

"Enjoy your time off the grid, Detective. As when you left to work with Detective Traynor, we are anxious for you to return to us."

"Who else would have me?" Deeks smiled as he walked away knowing damn well he may no longer be available to be had.

Kensi jumped up when he walked back into the bullpen area. "How are you?"

"Skinny and sore. Working on both. I heard from Nate you two were in Brooklyn. How was it?"

"Still a lot of Hurricane Sandy damage in Brighton Beach and other areas," Kensi told him. "We missed Sidorov by a day. We found Andros, though. He's in federal custody."


"The one with the drill," Callen said. "He was Sidorov's new right hand man."

Deeks felt his stomach drop. "Glad he's in custody, though we were never formally introduced," Deeks hoped his joke covered his revulsion. He sighed a little to himself. He'd like to talk to Kensi but that wasn't happening with Callen around bringing up business. Actually, he wasn't interested in having any conversation with Kensi here in the office but couldn't figure how to get her out of the building. "I'm off, I guess. Any plans for your downtime?"

"Odds and ends," Callen said cryptically.


"Climbing Mt. Rainier through the Emmons Glacier."

"Of course you are." Deeks smiled broadly, probably for the first time in six weeks. It felt weird.

"Do you have any plans, Deeks?" Callen asked.

"Following Hetty's suggestion of rest and recovery."

"Will you'll be around? I've stopped by your place a few times..." Kensi started.

"No, staying at a friend's. If you need me, LAPD can find me. Well, what you'd need from me halfway up a mountain I'm not exactly sure. Just pack plenty of KitKats and you'll be fine."

"Are you sure LAPD can find you?" Kensi sounded bothered.

"Yeah. Call when you get back. Maybe I can gum my way through a dinner at Foga De Choa. You'll probably be hungry." He leaned over her desk and gave her a quick hug. Pulling away, he leaned over to Callen and shook his hand. "See you in a few."

"Get better, Deeks. Place just isn't the same without you."

"You found the nukes and caught everyone but Sidorov, everything's fine here without me."

"Janvier escaped custody last week," Kensi blurted out.

And Deeks now knew what Callen's "odds and ends" were. "He'll show up. He always does." With that, Deeks turned around and waved. "Have a good break. You guys earned it," he told them as he left.

Monty wasn't all that excited to see him. His first few days out of the hospital, Monty stayed in bed with him, almost knowing how awful he felt. When the loud delivery guy from the pharmacy came by with his meds, Monty growled, looking to protect Deeks. The world may not have gotten Monty, the world barely understood him, but he and Monty were simpatico. The dog's disinterest tonight was disturbing.

Deeks put the mail down on the coffee table along with the box containing his new LAPD issued cellphone that Bates had messengered over. Setting that up would be his project for the night. "Sorry today took so long, Monty. LAPD needed to talk to me and you know how they can be."

Monty was largely unmoved.

"Saw Kensi today. Wanted to take her to lunch, as much as I can have lunch with anyone, but wound up getting to her office just before four. She's like you. Cranky without food so she probably had lunch, a mid-afternoon snack and a couple of Hershey Drops from her top drawer stash by the time I saw her."

Monty looked at him, yawned and made his way to his dog bed.

"Really?" he asked as Monty settled in.

Deeks looked the 34th floor window. The loaner apartment was ridiculous, the view ridiculous. Of all the many failings his family had, the lack of large trust fund was moving up the list. While the dentist being in the building was Bates's excuse for moving him into Matthew's apartment and guest bedroom, the building's serious security, private gym and pool and access to having just about everything imaginable delivered was the real reason he was here. Hell, the building had its own dog walker and she seemed to love Monty. Still, the only upside to feeling lousy over the last few weeks was picking up the phone and having the building concierge arrange some soft food to be delivered.

But he missed the beach, his apartment, his life. And Kensi. For over two years, they were attached at the hip. He didn't think he missed her while he was concentrating on his recovery but seeing her in the office today...

"You miss Kensi?" Deeks asked Monty.

The dog just looked at him.

"Yeah, I do too. You up for a ride?" Deeks figured Monty could be his door pass to Kensi's place. Now he had to hope that she was home.

"Coming," he heard Kensi call from the other side of the door. When she moved the little curtain aside, she looked startled to see him. He remembered how poorly he looked at that moment. "Deeks," she said as she opened her front door, "what are you doing here?"

"Wanted to talk to you before you started climbing that mountain," he told her just before Monty barked.

"You brought Monty," Kensi dropped to her knees and rubbed the dog's ears. "It's good to see you, boy."

"We brought you a gift." Deeks held out a shopping bag.

"Come in," Kensi stood and opened the door wide, letting the two of them in and taking the bag as Deeks walked by.

Deeks made his way to the living room chair, Monty sitting right next to his left leg by Kensi's couch.

Kensi walked over to the couch and opened the bag. She pulled out a case of KitKat bars. "Forty-eight bars. Deeks, it is a five day climb."

"Well, if you ration them properly, they should last. You can break them into individual sticks. You don't have to cram it all down in one bite," Deeks teased. "Only five days to climb Mt. Rainier for you, what about us mere mortals?"

"Five days. And I'm not even sure I'm going. I'm on a waiting list."

"Because all the cool kids are climbing Mt. Rainier this summer?"

"I was supposed to go away with my Mom but that fell through. Now I'm seventeenth on a list for nine climbers."

"When were you going away with your Mom? I don't remember you mentioning it before," Deeks just let that dangle.

"Had dinner with my Mom the night before Callen and I left for Iran," she explained. "She was planning a beach vacation in Corsica and invited me to go with her. She was leaving the third of July. I figured I could get the extra week from Hetty since I have so much time coming. Just didn't work out."

"There's some great surfing in Corsica," Deeks told her.

"Yeah, Mom's not much of a surfer. The Demeure Loredana is more her style."

"Sounds fancy. Is it your style?"

Kensi looked at him, a bit surprised by the question. "My Mom would be there. That would have been enough."

"Sorry you missed it. Missed time with your Mom," Deeks felt the need to apologize though he knew he wasn't at fault. They were quiet for a minute before simultaneously saying the other's name. Both smiled a little. "You go first," he said.

"It's just, I'm sorry I wasn't there when you woke up. I stayed at the hospital for a long time but Hetty insisted I go to Brooklyn with Callen..."

"You needed to catch a terrorist with nukes, Kens. Sitting around with an unconscious me isn't all that thrilling or good for national security."

"It just felt wrong."

"You and Callen found the nukes. What's one of Hetty's rules, never apologize for being a success."

"I'm not. I'm just sorry I wasn't there."

"I was a mess. Lots of drool, lots of liquid food. It is a sad day when the hospital won't even bring you Jell-O because you can't handle it," he joked.

Kensi looked aghast. "None of that's funny."

"No, I guess it's not," he murmured.

"What did you and Hetty talk about?"

"Medical records, LAPD, my health and future."


"And what?"

"What's going on with your health and future?"

"Getting healthy so I can have a future," Deeks told her. "I'm hardly law enforcement material right now."

"How's your mouth?" Kensi seemed almost troubled asking him.

"All the work is done. It's just weird. Everything was in the same place for thirty-something years, now everything is new. Implants feel weird and I'm just sort of getting use to closing my mouth properly."

"Good thing you don't shut your mouth much," was Kensi's attempt at snark.

"Yeah, good thing," he chuckled.

"What have you been doing?"

"Dentist, sleep; physical therapy, dentist, sleep; dentist, sleep; physical therapy, dentist, sleep; dentist, sleep; try to swim, sleep; try to work out, sleep. Repeat for the following week." He went to shrug his shoulders but stopped himself. Didn't need to wince for Kensi. "What have you been doing?"

"When we got back from Brooklyn and secured the nukes, we started searching for Sidorov again. Last week, the DoD called. They were moving Janvier on a Marine Transport from Pendleton to Opa-lacka..."

"Opa-lacaka what?"

"Former Marine Air Base turned joint military-civilian airport near Miami."


"Somehow, Janvier had a team waiting for him. We're still reviewing how they got on airport property but they did. The escape team shot the two US Marshals and the four Marines escorting Janvier to Gitmo. Two dead Marines, one Marshal in a coma."

"Oh God," Deeks shook his head.

"Helicopter comes out of nowhere and Janvier is in the wind."

"Sidorov returning the favor for diming out Sam?"

"There's a few who believe that. Callen thinks Janvier has enough money to finance his own escape."

"True." Deeks thought this was the first bit of actual police related talk he's had since mid-May. He missed it. Missed who he was talking to as well.

"Deeks, you with me?" Kensi asked. "You OK?"

"Yes. Outside of the unending "Law and Order" reruns on cable, I haven't thought much about police work lately," he told her the truth. "Seems odd, you know. Good, but odd."

She nodded. "How are you really? Deeks, you can tell me."

He could, he thought. But he wouldn't. "Some days are better than others. Non-dentist days are okay. I'm getting there."

"I would have helped," Kensi nearly whispered.

"You had to get the nukes," Deeks quickly dismissed her offer.

"I've been back for two weeks. I kept hoping to hear..."

"I didn't know Bates was keeping everyone away and I'm a little ticked about that. I'm staying at a friend's, really. He comes from money so the building where he lives has everything. I really wasn't avoiding everyone."

Kensi nodded. He wasn't sure if she believed him but he wasn't sure he believed it himself.

They were quiet for a few minutes. Not quite uncomfortable but not the way things were over the last few years. "I probably should go," Deeks told her, standing slowly.

He saw a quick frown before she put on her Agent Kensi Blye face. "Do you want to do something tomorrow? See a movie, go to the beach, just hang?"

"I'm ah," Deeks started but stopped. What the hell? "I'm going away for a few weeks. A friend, a law school friend, has, well, long story but his wife's family has a place up in southern Oregon and they've taken pity on me. I'm staying in their guest house."

"Oh, that's great," Kensi feigned enthusiasm. For someone who lied for a living, Kensi was lousy at it when it came to dealing with him. Then again, she usually called him on his bullshit when nobody else knew what he was pedaling.

"Wanna come with?" For the first time since Sidorov stuck the that evil device in his mouth he was glad his jaw was a mess - he managed to actually sound cool, not blurting it out like a fifteen-year old boy.

"Ah, I, er..," Kensi started to hedge.

Trying not to sound disappointed, he quickly assured her, "Just a thought. Listen, I'm leaving tomorrow morning and there's no way you could go. Just forget it, I'll call you when I get back or you can call Bates when you're off Mt. Rainer, whatever," he started walking to the door, Monty following close behind.

"What time are you leaving?" Kensi asked, sounding determined as she walked up beside him.

"Sevenish. It's a long ride. Don't worry, we'll catch up when you're back. Besides, I'm going to be gone a while."

"How long?'

"End of the month, you'll be up and down Mt. Rainer by then. You could probably climb it three times. Forget it."

"I'll be ready when you come by. Anything I need to bring?"

He looked at her, trying to decide if he was more shocked or happy. Then he just decided to be happy. Go with that for a while. "It's on the ocean but it's chilly where we're going."

"Where are we going?"

"The closest city is Port Orford. Southern coast of Oregon. Fishing and boating village called Tututni Beach."

"I'm guessing there's surfing."

"There is. I haven't been out on the water since mid-May. Time to get back out there. Time to start getting healthy." Time to start being me, he thought.

"Sevenish," she smiled at him.

"Kens," he turned serious. "It's a small place. A guest house. One bedroom. One bathroom, smallish living area. Monty's coming. It's probably an hour and a half to the closest airport when you want to leave. There isn't much of a local nightlife. Actually, there isn't any. And if there was, I'm probably not up to much anyway. You OK with all that?"

"Sevenish." Her smile never wavered.

"Okay," he opened the door. "Sevenish." Walking away from Kensi's apartment, Deeks told Monty, "Looks like we're going to have some company. You think we're up to it?"

The dog again kept his thoughts to himself but Deeks took his wagging tail as a good omen.


I always yell that I hate author's notes and then write them.

As I was about a chapter into "Sebastian" (a chapter that was swimming around in my head for about a year), this story came to me fully formed. That's not how things usually work for me. Whenever I was having trouble with that story, I'd visit this one. Consider this what happened between the TV cliffhanger and "Sebastian" though you don't need to know what happened in "Sebastian" to read this.

I saw the season five promo/photos when this was about 90% done. They got their injuries for the show, I got mine for this story.

Different schedule this time out because I want this posted by the season premiere. A chapter will be posted every few days.

Thank you for reading the story and for tolerating this rambling postscript.