It didn't take long for him to start to wake up. Deeks stirred on the bed, one hand reaching towards his face. He rolled his head from side to side. His eyes flickered open, a quick flash of colour in his too-pale face. They slid closed quickly, the sedative still washing through his body. He convulsed, body trying to cough out the tube in his throat.
A nurse pressed her hands to his shoulders, holding him still until he relaxed, slumping against the pillows. Sweat dampened his forehead. She picked up a cool, damp cloth and wiped it away.
"Just try to relax. The tube is there to help you breathe." She patted his arm. "Bear with us for a few minutes and we'll have it out."
Kensi pressed a hand over her mouth, a little bit scared by what was happening. Her eyebrows drew together as she frowned, eyes fixed on her partner.
"Is he alright?" she asked.
"The sedation hasn't fully worn off yet. He'll be confused and very sleepy at the moment." She caught sight of Kensi's face and smiled gently. "Don't worry. This is all quite normal at the moment. I doubt he'll remember any of it."
Kensi nodded and let her hands drop. She fiddled with the book, turning it over in her hands. Her teeth pressed down on her bottom lip as she watched the doctor gather her equipment.
The doctor touched Kensi's arm. "Ms. Hart. I'd like you to wait in the hallway for this next bit. It can be very distressing, and I feel it would be better if you don't see it." She slipped a pair of gloves on and reached for a covered tray, taking a small, empty syringe from it.
Numbly, Kensi laid down the book and stepped outside the room, pressing her back to the cold wall. Her head pounded tensely, and she felt vaguely sick. There was a vending machine halfway down the hallway. She wandered toward it, pulling a few coins out of her pocket to buy a soda, hoping that it would settle her stomach. The cold liquid helped, quenching her thirst.
Bare seconds later, she found herself standing back outside of the door, staring out of the window. She could hear the doctor's voice, a gentle counter point to Deeks' harsh coughing. As soon as he's awake, I'm going to kill him for this, she thought. Her hand dropped to her side, brushing over the phone in her jeans pocket.
She fished it out, dialling a number that she knew as well as her own birthday. It rang a few times before Hetty answered.
"Hi, Hetty," Kensi said, clearing her throat. "Just checking in."
"How is he?" The older woman didn't waste any time on small talk. "We're all hoping that he'd been back with us by now."
Kensi could hear the normal, late night sounds of the Mission, and wished suddenly that they were all back there, clustered around a desk or in the Ops room as they tried to solve a case. Normal life could be boring, but in that second, it sounded pretty damned good to her.
"Waking up. They're taking him off the vent now," Kensi said, and took another swig of her soda. "The doctor sent me out of the room while the remove the tube."
An orderly walked past, pushing a cart laden with clean bedding. One of the wheels squeaked, the sharp sound making Kesni frown. The air smelt like lemon and pine.
"I'm very glad to hear that he's coming around," Hetty replied. "Do Mr. Callen and Mr. Hanna know?"
Kensi shook her head, then realised Hetty couldn't see the gesture. "No. I phoned you first."
"I'll let them know," Hetty assured her. "Your place is with Mr. Deeks. We need him safe and well again."
"How is the investigation going?" Kensi asked, and paced down the hallway, stretching her legs after too many hours of sitting in uncomfortable chairs. Her lower back protested, and she stopped for a moment to stretch, working the kinks out.
"Mr. Callen and Mr. Hanna are following a few leads," Hetty said. "Mr. Beal is going to send you a list of names. I need you to go over them with Mr. Deeks. See if anything jumps out at him."
Kensi almost winced, remembering the last list she'd had to go through with her partner. "As soon as he's awake," she promised. "Well, if his doctor clears it," she amended quickly. "They don't want him tiring out."
"That's understandable. This is important, but don't force Mr. Deeks into it if he's not up to it. Don't worry, it won't be as long as the last one," Hetty said, as if she was reading Kensi's mind.
Deeks' doctor poked her head into the hallway. Kensi scanned her posture, finding nothing but subdued relief. It reassured her more than words could have.
"Looks like I can go back in," the dark-haired woman said into the phone.
"Let us know if anything changes," Hetty said. "And Ms. Blye? When you're finished going over that list, I want you to get some rest. Understand?"
"I will, Hetty," Kensi promised, already wondering how exactly the petite woman classified rest.