Gunfire broke the stillness. Sam and Callen exchanged grim looks then bolted for the warehouse, weapons bare in their hands. "Kensi? Deeks?" Callen called as they ran, hoping that his microphone could pick up the words over the air whipping past him.
Dead silence answered him. He tried again as they reached the warehouse door, wincing as static crackled over the connection, popping and snapping in his ear piece.
"We're clear," Kensi said. She sounded unusually subdued. "Williams is going to need an ambulance. Anna- the girl- is dead." She paused to clear her throat. "She killed herself."
"How's Deeks?" Sam asked. His footsteps clattered on the cracked concrete, stirring up dust.
"I'm not sure," Kensi answered quietly, eyes fixed on her partner.
His back was turned to her, shoulders tight and stiff under a spill of fading sunlight. It turned his hair to burnished copper and painted his skin in a million shades of gold. One arm was braced across his stomach, the other hanging by his side, gun still clasped loosely in his hand.
She walked up behind him, stopping a few feet away. "Hey, Deeks?"
"I should have stopped this," he said flatly, voice raw. "It never should have gotten this far."
The ache in his voice made her hurt for him. "I'm so sorry," she whispered, and closed the distance between them, reaching out hesitantly to lay her hand on his shoulder, half expecting him to move away.
He didn't, just turned his head so that she could see his face. Bitter sadness twisted his lips. "Maybe if I'd…"
She reached up and pressed her fingers to his lips. "None of this was your fault," she said firmly. "That scumbag is the one to blame. You just got yanked along for the ride."
"Kensi?" Sam yelled from outside of the office.
"In here," she called back, and let her hand drop.
Callen cleared the doorway first, glancing around. His gaze landed on Williams, then flickered to Deeks. Sam crossed the office without a word, kneeling by the badly injured man and applying pressure to the wounds.
Bastard deserves it, but no-one is going to say we didn't try to save his sorry ass, the dark skinned man thought.
"I didn't do it," the blonde haired man said. "Never fired a shot." There was bitterness mixed with something like relief in his voice. "Neither of us did."
He suddenly felt bone-weary, old beyond his years. His heartbeat pounded in his ears. It made his head hurt. All he wanted was a scalding shower, a bottle of something potent and a bed. And the shower's optional, he thought.
"There's an ambulance on its way here," Sam said, nodding a little as he met Callen's eyes. "Why don't you two leave us to clear this up?" He shrugged. "Hetty will want your paperwork, but that'll keep until tomorrow. Go and get some rest."
"Deeks?" Kensi asked quietly. She shoved a bit of hair out of her face, and rubbed her sore hands on her jeans.
He almost flinched, dragging his wandering attention back from Williams' slack face.
"Yeah," he said faintly, "Good idea."
The partners walked quietly though the warehouse, getting half way out before Deeks started to speak.
"Why do you think she did it?" he asked. "I mean, I get the whole PTSD/revenge deal, but why shoot him then shoot herself? We should have been able to stop her," he rambled on, just to fill the silence, because beneath the silence was the screaming, and he so did not want to go there.
Kensi shot him a worried look. "I guess we'll never really know."
"Do you think I let her down?" he asked softly.
She kept quiet for a few steps, rolling the information she had around in her head. "No," she said finally. "You warned him off. You reported him. You moved her and gave her the chance of a fresh start." She lifted her shoulders in an exhausted shrug. "Short of shooting him, I'm not sure what else you could have done."
He sighed as they came out into the settling dusk. "Well, it feels like I should have done more."
Gravel crunched under their feet as they crossed to Callen's car and got in. Kensi fired the engine, backing carefully out of the lot. She glanced across at Deeks as she gunned the engine, heading for home.
He was slumped in the seat, head propped on his hand. The other traced a frayed tear in his jeans. His posture was so weary and pain filled that it made her hurt just to look at him.
"Sleep on it, Deeks," she said softly. "You're too raw and exhausted to think about this now. Shelve it until the morning."
He nodded, knowing that she was right. Every nerve and every emotion had been rubbed raw by this. He needed time to put a layer of protection between his emotions and the facts. Sleep and food and time alone to think would help. "Yeah, you're right," he agreed slowly. Sleep pulled at him like a waning tide. He yawned, letting it pull him down into oblivion for a little while.