The bar was winding down.
Deeks had had a meal, and a few beers to dull the pain, but not the senses. He wasn't that daft.
He sat in the corner booth of the bar and watched as a couple, about the same age his parents would have been had they lived, sat, ate a meal and toasted their wedding anniversary.
His mind wandered as to where it had all gone wrong.
Had it been, as he was told, good up until the point he was born?
Was it really his fault?
Had he been more alert would she still be alive?
He shook his head not wanting to go there, but not seeing the pair of eyes in the car outside watching his every move.
"Maybe we should call this off?" Callen said to the occupants of the car.
"Something isn't right with him." Kensi agreed, "Maybe I should go and talk to him."
"I thought we agreed he needed this training, We did it with you Kensi, and I've done it with Michelle. Deeks just needs toughening up." Sam argued. "It's for his own good."
They watched as Deeks pulled his leather jacket around himself and thrust his hands in his pockets and walked away from the bar.
"I can't…" Kensi argued, she couldn't handle the feeling that although Sam might be right her gut said this was wrong.
They watched as Deeks walked along the road, he stopped near a cemetery and entered.
"We can't go in there." Kensi said, "Let's leave it for tonight. Talk to him tomorrow." she pushed.
Reluctantly Sam agreed, "Ok, I'll drop you off." he said and they drove off.
Watching Kensi enter her apartment, Callen looked at the determined look on his partners face. "You're not leaving it there are you?"
Sam chuckled, "Hell no...Like I said G, this is for Deeks' own good, LAPD has made him soft." He turned his car around and headed back to where they had last seen Deeks.
He had sat for half an hour by his mother's grave, barely glancing at the one belonging to his father..
He had been surprised when Hetty had told him that not only was his father dead, killed in 1994 in an automobile accident when he had been drunk at the wheel, but that his family had chosen to bury him only four rows away from the woman he had killed the night he had destroyed the sad excuse of a family little Martin Brandel had been able to call his own.
He sat his hand over his mother's headstone shedding the tears he let go this day every year as he remembered what he had woken up to. The screams from his parents bedroom as his father had beaten his mother, the sound his own arm had made as his father caught him standing outside the door in indecision as to whether or not he should try to call the cops as he was grabbed and his arm twisted beyond its breaking point.
The screams that left his own mouth as he had run to his room to escape the swinging fists of his father as he had grabbed the gun Ray had given him just the day before, and with the excruciating pain radiating up his arm and down the rest of his body he had fired the gun, the ricochet throwing him back into a wall and oblivion again as his father fell back with a bullet wound to the shoulder just as the police, called by a neighbor, screeched to a halt outside of the house.
He had run out the back, cradling his now broken arm. His father running behind him, his own bullet wound bleeding but the alcohol in his system meant that he was feeling no pain. Martin had run down the block, past the grocery store and down an alleyway.
He stopped panting in fear as he realized he had run into a dead end and there was no escape.
"You can't run boy...ya shot me and I swear to God you are going to pay for that."
"I didn't mean too!" Martin screamed.
"GORDON NO!" His mother's pleading scream rang through the alley causing both Gordon and Martin to stop.
She ran ahead and stood in front of the boy, her arms stretched as if to shield him from his father.
"Move woman, the boy will pay." Gordon lifted his gun at the shaking child.
"NO." She stood her ground, "This is enough, we won't take it anymore."
Brandel lifted the gun, "Fine." Not even blinking he fired shooting her point blank in the chest as the police caught up to the terrified family.
Martin fell to his mother's side and held his small hands over her wound. "Don't die momma." He begged tears falling from his face.
"You wait there, don't leave." She said knowing that he wanted to run away but hoping that the police would help him. "Stay close by here." she coughed and lifted her hand to touch his face. "Be a good boy Martin...I love..." her eyes fluttered closed and she died.
"MOMMA!" he screamed as hands gently grabbed his shoulders.
"You have to come with us son." A police officer said as he pulled the boy away.
He didn't want to disobey his mother but the police officer insisted and put him in the back of a squad car.
It had been the last time Martin remembered seeing his birth parents.
Deeks stood, patted the gravestone and pulled his jacket back on.
"I hope you're safe mom, I forgive you." he said as he did every time he visited with her.
He turned and headed for the street and life again, sparing now a glance at his father's headstone. "Rot in hell." He snapped, for a second feeling guilty and flinching, but then resolutely walking on and away from the demon he once called father.
He opened the gate and walked down the street, turning onto the street he had once called home.
Those who knew him walked away, those who didn't...well in this area of Los Angeles no one really interacted.
The local gang members knew who he was and at the sight of Brandel's boy walking the street they scattered. Even now the man's reputation was still used to scare children straight from bad behavior to good. Here Marty was himself, more Max Gentry than Marty Deeks and every inch, Brandel...not to be messed with.
Everyone knew he didn't come here much, but this week of this month the streets in Reseda were safer as Brandel walked the sidewalk, retracing his steps...his name a legend in it's own right.
Sam and Callen parked the car at the top of the hill and watched as unseeing Marty his hand in his pockets and his mind miles away walked down the hill.
A group of thugs walked around a corner.
"He's gonna be in trouble." Callen warned worried for his friend.
The gang leader stopped and shook Marty's hand, offered him something, which Deeks shook his head too and the gang leader stepped aside to let him pass.
"You see that?" Sam snapped, "You think Deeks is on the take?"
Callen shook his head, "Maybe he's undercover again." they stood aside as the group passed them.
"Dude….you are so lucky Marty didn't hand you yo ass!" one kid laughed to the gang leader. "Offering him drugs, you know he's a cop don't ya?"
"He's a Narc?" The kid asked his leader in surprise.
"Mind yo manners Julio...That's Brandel...no one crosses him, but he don't stay round here long. Just stay outta his way and you'll be good." The leader said respectfully.
Callen and Sam shot a look of confusion between them, "Brandel?" Callen asked after the men had passed.
They followed Deeks until they got to an alleyway.
Deeks walked down and placed a rose on the one clean spot in the whole Alleyway. The spot where a few days later his father, had gunned down his mother so she wouldn't testify against him.
It had been a while since he had been here, even though he visited his mother's grave every year.
His mother had been loved in the neighborhood and the spot where she died was kept spotless even amongst the rubbish in the small alleyway. Fern Brandel was always talked about amongst the people who had known her and Marty was, although feared by the gangs loved by the older women who remembered him helping his mother as a child.
After her death a few had tried to adopt him, but his father had put pay to that, refusing even while in jail to sign any adoption papers.
The second Marty had hit 21 he had left the name Brandel behind and took on the name Deeks in honor of his mother.
His father's family had refused to take in the homeless and now parent-less eleven year old, believing Brandel's lie about the child not being his.
Marty had hit the system for a week until he had run away. He had lived on the streets for a few months, living in cardboard boxes and hanging out with the other homeless children, none of whom questioned if he had any parents.
It wasn't until an eagle eyed worker at a shelter noticed that the little blond headed boy would arrive with a different family each time and not one adult in each of the families seemed to pay attention to the child.
Marty's mind wandered as he thought back to that time.
He had at this point been homeless for three months, the last family he had latched onto had moved on, the father looking for work and he found himself alone. He had tried to sneak into the shelter for the night, but without a family to claim as his, he was turned away. Not realizing that she was following him.
Jessica Bates watched as the child stuffed his hands into his pockets and walked away from the group, confirming what she had thought for a while. He didn't have any parents with him.
She had scoured the missing children posters that she had in her possession to see if anyone was missing him, however no one matching his description was on there. After putting a call in to a friend at child welfare, to determine that there were no missing children on their books; she went to follow him.
He kept his head down avoiding eye contact with everyone until he got to the alley. He walked to the back, knelt to touch the faint blood stain that was there and whispered something. Then moving away he grabbed a bag he had stashed under a dumpster and pulled his makeshift shelter over himself.
At that Jess realized the boy was truly alone. She walked quietly down the alley and moved the box.
Instantly Martin was alert, he pulled his knife and held it out shakily protecting himself. "I ain't got to money!" he snapped trying to look tough but failing as tears of fear escaped his blue eyes.
"It's ok kid, I'm not trying to hurt you...It's me...Jess...from the shelter." she stepped back showing her hands were empty.
Martin moved back from her.
"What do you want?" he asked his distrust of adults obvious.
"Do you want to come back to the shelter?" she asked.
Martin shook his head, "They sent me away, they don't want me...I may be dumb but even I know not to go where I ain't wanted."
"Where are your parents?" Jess asked.
Martin's eyes flicked to the blood stain, "My dad's in jail...momma...she's...not here anymore."
She followed his now unflinching gaze at the bloodstain.
"She told me to wait…." he said softly, "But they took me away, I promised her though, I gotta wait here."
"What's your name?" Jess asked. "Mines Jessica Bates."
"Martin Brandel." He replied.
Her mind whirled… Brandel….she remembered the case, it had made the news and everyone knew Gordon Brandel was bad news. "That was eight months ago, have you been here all this time?"
Martin shook his head, "Some people too me away, made me stay too far away. I promised momma, I'm not going to leave her."
Jess crouched down.
"You know your momma would be worried if you were cold and hungry...How about you come back to the shelter with me? You've stayed there before right?"
"It's close...Momma said I shouldn't go too far." He explained.
Jess smiled and held out her hand. "We had lasagna today, I'll bet you're hungry?"
Martin stood up and nodded. "Yes Ma'am, but momma said we shouldn't take Charity."
Jess nodded, she had a few families that came through the shelter and felt that way, and she knew of a job that would be perfect for Martin.
"Well...we had a puppy dropped off with us, he needs a friend. If you'll help me by taking him for a walk and looking after him for me, then I'll pay you in a meal...deal?"
Martin nodded, "Yes Ma'am."
"Jess." she said, "If we are going to be friends and work together you can call me Jess."
"My friend Ray calls me Marty...I like it better than Martin."
Jess smiled, "Marty, come on then, little Monty will be wanting his dinner too."
Marty smiled as he remembered his first night with the woman who eventually became his new mother.
He dropped a rose on the space on the floor and turned intent on going to the shelter to see if his mother needed an extra hand.
He stopped as he heard a noise behind him.
"Don't move." The deep voice growled as he felt the familiar feel of a gun in the small of his back.