Heart of Glass
Kensi was in Afghanistan.
It was hard to wrap his brain around that fact and even harder to accept that there was nothing he could do about it. Several weeks had passed since he and Monty had made the big move to Hawaii and as he continued to struggle with all the changes that were still happening, his heart just did not feel like he had ever left. Not a day went by that he did not miss home and the friends and family he had left behind. There were moments where he knew for certain that this was the right thing for him … and then there were times when he was positive that he had made the biggest mistake of his life in leaving that world behind.
If Nell had not relentlessly updated him on what was happening back in LA, he would have had no idea that Kensi had been sent across the sea on some top secret mission that the rest of the team had not been read into. She was only able to relay that Hetty had dispatched his partner to accompany Assistant Director Granger on a clandestine mission to assist the CIA in hunting down a target known only as the White Ghost, like some tired old movie cliché involving spies, silly code names, and damsels in distress. Even in his wildest dreams, he could never picture Kensi as a damsel, much less one in distress.
But he could still picture her. She haunted his dreams and even appeared in his wakeful moments when he would see her face in a crowd or hear her cackling laughter at the coffee shop that he dropped in on occasion. Even though it had only been a short time, her grip on his heart was no less strong and he sometimes wondered if she missed him as much as he missed her.
Did she think about him? Did she understand how much he was hurting and why he felt he had no choice but to do something so drastic? Would her heart ever lose its protective shell so that she could truly love and be loved in return? Would he ever be strong enough to let her go completely and would his heart ever heal from having to say "good-bye" to her in the first place? As the days had turned into weeks and then into months … he was slowly finding the answers to those questions and he felt he was slowly sinking into a spiral that had no good conclusion that he could see.
This hurt a lot more than he had imagined when he began the process of pulling up roots and moving across the water the islands … he just hoped that one day, the entire ordeal would eventually make sense. Deep down he doubted he would ever fully grasp why he had made the decision that he did or why Kensi could not say the words that he could clearly see in her eyes. If she would not fight for them when he was standing just inches away, how could he ever hope that she would now that they were thousands of miles apart?
He guessed it did not really matter anymore; he lived here now and was trying to find his footing with a new team in a new city in a new state and she was chasing bad guys and kicking ass on the other side of the planet. Deeks just hoped that she was safe or as safe as someone in their line of work could be and that one day, she would find the peace and happiness that she so richly deserved. There had been a time when his sole desire had been to be a part of that but now his heart only wanted what was best for Kensi … and if that included his absence from her life, then so be it.
He only wished that his heart could also learn to live a life without her in it. A life filled with sunsets that while beautiful, felt hollow and lifeless; walks on the beach that use to bring peace but now were only filled with a dreadful loneliness that threatened to overwhelm him even on the good days.
If this is what a life without Kensi was like, how could he ever endure it?
A gentle feminine voice interrupted his thoughts. "You know, someone sitting out here with that distant look on their face might be considered creepy by most … especially when you're doing it in my back yard."
Deeks dropped his head, letting out a long sigh as the wife of one of his few true friends approached along the path to his little thinking spot. It was nothing more than a simple wood bench sitting under a cluster of banana trees that were growing in the corner of the Murphy's back yard. There was a small path that ran along the edge of the privacy fence, winding its way down a gentle slope behind the small duplex that had once been a free-standing garage but was now Deeks temporary home until he decided to finally look for more permanent housing. A chore that was met with both anticipation and dread from both the Murphy's and Deeks himself.
Once they knew he was moving to the island, the Murphy's had been adamant that Deeks would stay with them until he decided what his long term plans were and what path he would follow. His new position with 5-O was still in the early stages and McGarrett had been understanding in allowing the former detective to find firm footing before giving him any serious tasks. Deeks called it his "probation" period and griped about it as often as he could, but maybe his new friends saw something that he wasn't ready to see himself just yet.
"Sorry Susan … I didn't think you guys would be back so soon." He glanced up to watch as the tall red-head eased her way down the gravel path. Even though she was in her mid fifties, Susan Miranda Murphy was still one of the most beautiful women Deeks had ever met. How she had ended up with a man as grizzled and rough as Kendall simply amazed Deeks. She was graceful and kind but she also had a temper that would rival even Kensi's, which was saying a lot … but her heart was loving and kind. Kendall called her an enigma wrapped up in a hurricane and it was evident to anyone who met the couple that he loved her more than life itself and her feelings for her husband were just as strong. Even back when he first knew them, Deeks had always hoped to find a love just half as powerful as theirs.
Susan inclined her head back toward the main house, her long hair cascading down across her shoulders and back, dancing down to her waist. "My husband … that stubborn man I married … is unloading the groceries even though he will complain about his back for the next day or two."
Deeks rolled forward, preparing to stand. "Let me go help ..."
Susan stopped him with a raised hand. "Stay where you are, Martin, he said something about chivalry and taking care of his lady … " Deeks caught the smile she tried to hide even though she was playing it down. "... then he sent me down here to check on you."
That stopped him cold. "Check on me? Why in the world would he send you to check on me?"
Her lithe frame moved soundlessly across the river pebbles until she could sit on the large boulder next to the bench. "For one thing, you always stay here when we ask you to go out with us, even when it's just down to the market … second, you've been busy with your new job, we hardly see you much … and third … " Susan's words stopped as she let her eyes drift out across the view that swept down away from their back yard, disappearing into the distance where she could just see the white caps crashing against the beach a few hundred yards away.
"And three?" When she didn't respond immediately, Deeks waited a few moments before he glanced over to the woman sitting a few feet away. "Susan?"
A heavy sigh escaped her lips as she hung her head, letting her auburn hair drape, hiding her face behind a curtain of red. "He's … well, to be honest … we're both a little worried about you."
Chuckling softly, Deeks leaned back against the back of the bench and tried to appear relaxed and unperturbed. "Worried about me? Why are the two of you be worried about little ole me?" He fell back into humor to try and downplay the situation, that deep inside, he knew had been brewing over the past few weeks. With his reluctance to acclimate to his new environment, especially his hesitance to venture out on any errands, the little facade of the laid-back-surfer was slowly crumbling.
Letting out a frustrated sigh, Susan silently counted to ten, allowing her world renowned temper to cool to a simmer rather than boil over so quickly. "Martin ..." there was love and kindness in her tone, but there was warning as well. When she spoke to him like this, Deeks could not help but be reminded of Hetty and her skilled use of the English language to both caress and cut at the same instant. " … don't give me the dumb surfer dude act … I've known you too long for those games."
Deeks swallowed the reprimand for what it was … a friend trying to be just that … a friend. "Sorry, Susan … I didn't mean to sound so flippant."
"Yes you did." She chuckled, letting him know that while this was a serious subject, she was not going to kill him. Not just yet anyway. "But that's part of your charm … let's you get away with a lot."
"Then can I go now, mom?" He probably should not have said that but it just slipped out before he had time to think about it too much.
"You know, I don't think the neighbors will hear you scream and I haven't had an opportunity to test that theory … but if you keep being snarky with me … "
She did not have to finish for Deeks to get the message that he cold either pay due respect to the seriousness of her concerns or he would find out just how far away the nearest neighbor lived. The Murphy's place was at the end of long black top and he could not remember seeing any mailboxes within a hundred yards of their's … maybe it was best to just let her have her say.
"Sorry Susan … what's on your mind?"
Turning to face him fully, Deeks was drawn to the deep green of her eyes, like creamy jade, and was stunned to see a high level of concern in them. "I'm not trying to dig into your business, Martin … but we just want to make sure that you're doing okay."
This time he did hop up from the bench before she could stop him. "I'm fine, Susan." When her countenance did not waver, Deeks swallowed the lump that had suddenly formed in the back of his throat. "What's got you guys so worried?"
Susan crossed her long legs underneath her sundress, hooking one elegant ankle over the other. "You don't go outside your little room unless you're coming out here, you won't go with us anywhere, no matter how many times we ask … and God forbid we make the mistake of asking you anything about your team back in LA … especially Kensi."
Her voice never rose in volume and her tone remained level and calm, but the conviction and concern had been so heavy, Deeks felt as if she had screamed at him. All the energy to leave vanished and his weak legs dropped him back onto the bench as he found himself starring down at the ground under his feet.
"I just want to know what's rattling around in that blonde head of yours." Deeks felt her warm hand land gently on his shoulder and he could not recall hearing her move to sit next to him. Murphy always said she was nothing more than a big cat and her feline-like stealthiness was making a believer out of the former detective.
For what must have been several minutes, they both sat in silence, letting the warm breeze blow though the tress and bushes that surrounded them in a sea of green and brown. Susan did not push and Deeks remained seated, both content in the moment and allowing the other to have their private thoughts. The only disturbance had been when they had caught sight of Kendall's head poking around the edge of the bungalow but after a silent exchange with his wife, he had disappeared to do something distracting in his workshop.
Susan was tugging at a lose thread along the lower edge of her dress when Deeks finally spoke as he turned his gaze to the sky. "I guess … I guess I thought it would be easier than this." She did not move and remained perfectly silent, encouraging him to continue. "This was supposed to make it all better … give me some clarity, bring some peace ..."
When she saw him drop his chin to his chest, Susan pushed a little bit. "And that's not what you found?"
Deeks' chuckle was mirthless. "No … I think that's what I left behind."
Susan took a deep breath, the inhale before the big plunge, before speaking as calmly as she could to one of her closest friends. "I already know the answer to this question … but I think you need to say it out loud as much as you need to admit it to yourself as truth ..." She reached out and took his hand, encircling it with her long fingers. " … that peace and clarity you are so desperately searching for … that was all centered around Kensi, wasn't it?"
Deeks let his entire body go numb. It had been so hard to even hear her name spoken, much less when it was he that actually said it, that now, he felt the earth shift under him. He wanted to run, he wanted to jump up and tear off to his room and lock the door until this was all over or he could just simply jump over the back fence and stumble through the forest until he reached the blue waters of the Pacific … then he could just let the waves carry him away to whatever destination the fates decided. Why did this hurt so much? Why could he not get over her as easy as he had packed up and moved to a new place? Why was his heart still held inexplicably in her hands?
He was not sure if she had just read his mind or if he had actually uttered those questions out loud, but Susan's response struck like lightening. "It's because you love her, you dumb ass."
"Wow, Susan … nice bedside manner you've got there."
She pulled her hand from where it had been resting on his to swat him gently on the shoulder. "Count yourself lucky, kid … if you hadn't started talking I was going to put you in a headlock until you turned blue!" He could not tell if she was serious and thought better of guessing wrong, so he just sat there until she continued, her tone gentler. "Look … would you answer a few questions for me?"
Deeks knew that it would not end well if he argued then point and maybe this would help this entire conversation end quickly, so he simply nodded.
Clearing her throat, Susan leaned back, bringing her arm up to rest behind him on the back of the seat. "How long have you been here?"
Deeks did a little quick math in his head. "About three … three and a half months. Why?"
Ignoring his question, Susan pointed toward his bungalow. "Have you finished unpacking? Have you even started?" He was about to answer but she cut him off. "Other than work or your little jaunts to walk Monty, how many times have you left your room? I know your new coworkers have invited you out for drinks on numerous occasions … how many of those offers have you accepted? How many times have you been surfing on what you said were the best waves in the world?"
He began to sputter out a reply, but Susan held up a hand to stop him cold. "The first night you were here, you sat at our dinner table and said you had to learn to live your life without Kensi in it anymore, do you remember that?"
Deeks just nodded, all his fight gone.
"But from what I can see, you aren't living, sweetie … you're simply existing … and that's not the same thing."
If she had punched him in the gut, she would not have left him anymore breathless. "Then what am I supposed to do?!" There was a sea of frustration that he had held in check ever sense he had left LA and it suddenly threatened to overwhelm him. It was like he had been traveling down a road that he was confident was the right one, but the further he traveled, the more lost he had become until he no longer knew the destination.
Tenderly, Susan tugged him until his head fell to her shoulder. "I think you know what you need to do … but you're scared to do it."
"You mean, admit I screwed up by leaving LA and my old team? That resigning from the LAPD and moving to Hawaii was a huge mistake? That I should have stayed back home where the love of my life broke my heart?" Deeks shrugged her off and stood but he only made it a few steps before he stopped, unable to focus enough even to walk away.
Susan remained seated, calmly arranging her dress over her long legs. "If that's what you need to do, then yes!"
Deeks dropped his head, fighting the tears that were desperate to escape. "You make it sound so easy."
"Love is never easy."
Turning slowly, the tall blonde sighed in hard frustration. "Why not? I mean, falling in love is supposed to be the easiest thing in the world."
Her answer only confused him even more. "It is."
Before he could find the words to even formulate a response, she was pointing at her own heart. "Falling in love with someone is the easiest thing in the world … but being in love with someone takes effort, work, sweat, tears, blood sometimes, commitment ..."
Deeks held up a hand to slow her down. "Okay, I get it."
"Do you? Do you really, Martin? Or did you think loving Kensi would be all roses and sunsets?" She gave him a moment to catch his breath before hitting him with even more. "She's going to do things that hurt you … and you're going to hurt her … but loving someone is choosing to love them no matter what. You think I like putting up with that big oaf who is always wiping his dirty hands on my good towels? God help him but he can aggravate the living fire out of me sometimes and I literally want to wring his thick neck … but I love him … I choose to love him … despite all of that … and I will choose to love him until the day I draw my last breath."
All of what she said rolled around inside his mind like a great typhoon, blowing away some thoughts and revealing others and for a moment, it actually made him dizzy. Then a dark cloud swept in, overshadowing all of the light that had just begun to shine.
"But what if she doesn't love me back?"
"That shouldn't make any difference." When his eyes cut to hers and she caught the look of total confusion reflected there, Susan patted the bench, beseeching him to sit once more. Deeks gave her a look but once he realized she was not going to back down, he gave in and took a place at her side.
"Love isn't about what the other person does for you … or how they make you feel. True love is about putting the wants and needs of someone else before your own."
Deeks let out a long sigh. "I thought that's what I was doing. I thought leaving was what was best for Kensi." When Susan did not say anything, he looked over to see a very incredulous look on her face. "What, you don't believe me?"
"Martin … I think that's just what you told yourself so you could justify leaving her behind." She caught his arm before he could rise and held him in a death grip until he relaxed. "You were hurt and angry … even when you thought you weren't … and you protected your heart the best way you could and convinced yourself that running was the best option. That way, you didn't have to worry about Kensi choosing you or not … you made the choice for her."
That last statement lit his fire once more. "No! I gave her plenty of opportunities to choose me and she didn't! Hell, even the last time we spoke … she stood right there on that beach and refused … refused … to say the words that would have made me stay!"
Susan waited patiently until his breathing returned to normal before she reached over and took his hand once more. "Martin, look at me." It took some time and even a gentle squeeze of her hand but he finally acquiesced and tuned to face her with angry, tear-filled eyes. "Just because she didn't say the words … it doesn't mean she did not feel them."
Once again, with just a few simple words, she had rendered him mute and breathless.
"From what I can gather, you both had been through some horrible trauma … she knew what happened to you and yet was powerless to do anything to save you … she felt helpless ..."
Before Susan could continue, Deeks managed to continue her thoughts for her. " … and protected her heart, just like I did … thinking that pushing me away was the best thing to do … and yet, the whole time ..."
"... she was dying on the inside."
If the skies had opened and the archangel Gabriel had descended to the ground in front of him, Deeks would not have received a more clear revelation for the rest of his life. When he turned to look at his friend, the tears were still dripping from his eyelashes, but the smile on his face was blinding. "So, what do I do now?"
Susan reached up and ruffled his hair, messing up his styled-by-pillow look. "Well, I think it's a good think that you haven't unpacked."
He was about to reply when he caught sight of Murphy walking quickly down the path toward them, holding cell phone up to his ear as he spoke frantically to whomever was on the line. "... yeah … just a sec … here he is." And he was thrusting the phone toward Deeks who took it nervously.
"Uh … hello?"
Nell's frantic voice thundered at him through the tiny microphone. "Deeks! Oh, thank God! I've been trying to call you for the past hour or so!"
"Hey Nell! Yeah, calm down … I left my phone in my room and was out getting some of this wonderful Hawaiian air. You and Eric really have to get out to the islands ..."
"Deeks!" Her sharp and serious tone took his breath away because she only sounded like this when something bad had happened. "Please stop talking and just listen!" He swallowed, preparing for whatever she was about to tell him.
A few moments later, his phone fell to the ground at his feet, cracking the screen against a large river stone. When he looked up to his friends who were now staring at him with obvious concern etched on their faces, the color had completely left his features. The married couple spoke as one, their voices cautious. "Deeks?"
"Kensi's … Afghanistan with Granger … Taliban ..."
The next words came out in a little grunt, his world collapsing around him.
" … she's missing."
A/N: Yeah, I know. Took forever to update and all I can do is apologize once more.
Thanks for sticking around with this and forgiving me once more. To those who continue to read and review, thank you from the bottom of my heart. To those who keep saying they are going to stop reading because I take too long to update ... thanks for reading anyway!