The Navy Ball
Los Angeles, CA
Two weeks prior
Callen watched Kensi cross the room and leave the boathouse, the door banging closed behind her. Sam, just exiting the interrogation room, stopped short when he saw the expression on his partner's face.
"What?" he asked, turning to see what Callen was looking at. "Kensi leave?"
Callen knit his brow together and shook his head, "bad sushi," he said.
Sam recoiled. "Oh no, she didn't."
"She did," Callen responded.
"She knows that…"
"We invented the bad sushi excuse?" Callen finished, nodding. "That she does."
"Hey, Dorneget?" Sam called.
The two men heard a crash. A few seconds later, their temporary agent, who had been working in an adjacent room, came rushing through the door. Callen noticed that he had a phone cord wrapped around his foot, and was dragging it as he walked.
"Better hang that up,' Callen said, pointing at Dorneget's leg.
"Yeah, sorry," the man said, fumbling to untangle himself.
"Agent Dorneget!" Sam said gruffly after a second.
"Yes, sir?" he set the phone down on the table.
"What'd Agent Blye have for lunch this afternoon?"
"Umm," he looked from one agent to another.
"This isn't a trick question, Dorneget," Sam said.
"Burrito, extra sour cream… and two moon pies, but… I don't think I'm supposed to know about those."
Callen shot him a questioning look.
"She shoved the wrappers under the driver's side seat."
Sam nodded. "So no sushi, then?"
Dorneget looked confused. "Is… is this a trick question, Agent Hanna?"
Sam opened his mouth, but Callen cut him off.
"Did anything happen while the two of you were out earlier?"
Dorneget thought about it for a minute. "There was a drunk guy… outside of Joe's… should I be telling you guys this?"
"Absolutely," Callen replied. "What was the drunk guy's name?"
He shrugged, "She didn't introduce me."
"How'd you know he was drunk?" Sam asked.
"I guess I don't, but I saw him doing shots of tequila when we walked in," he said. "He's tall, wavy blond hair."
Sam raised his eyebrows, "Lemme guess, ruggedly handsome?" He shot a look in Callen's direction and the two men nodded.
"Deeks," Callen affirmed. He ran his hand along his unshaved jaw, thinking. "Anything else?"
"Not really," Dorneget said, shrugging again. "They talked about her partner. The guy said she should call him."
Callen crossed his arms and turned to look at Sam. "You talk to Deeks lately?"
Sam shook his head.
"You wanna flip for it?" Callen pulled a quarter out of his pocket and tossed it in the air, a menacing look on his face.
Sam caught the coin in the air. "No, I'll pay him a little visit tomorrow."
"You worried you'll lose?" Callen asked, a smirk on his face.
Sam rolled his eyes. "Worried you'll cheat," he said, tossing the quarter back to his partner.
"Hey, now!" Callen said, shoving it back in his pocket, "I resent that." He grabbed his jacket off his chair.
"But you don't deny it." Sam unlocked his gun from the safe and shoved it into it's holster.
The two men crossed the room, about to leave the boatshed, when Dorneget stopped them.
"Um… Agent Callen?"
"Yeah?" Callen had his hand on the doorknob.
"What I do with the guy in the interrogation room?"
Sam and Callen exchanged a glance.
"Let him go," Sam answered. "Guy doesn't know crap."
Leo Carrillo State Beach
The sunrise was spectacular over the ocean. Deeks sat on his surf board, leaning back, feet crossed at the ankles, watching the dark sky turning magnificent shades of orange. He guessed it was around 06:00. After his discussion (argument?) with his partner, he hadn't really felt like going home. Instead, he picked up a sixer of Land Shark and headed to the place that always made him feel calm. Today, however, he only felt irritation (and a severe hangover).
The encounter with Kensi had left him feeling worse than he had yesterday; if he didn't feel so badly about what happened, he would have found the predicament at the bar to be mildly amusing. Any other day, she'd have caught him sulking at home, not boozing it up at Joe's. Subsequently, he wouldn't be sitting alone on the beach contemplating the future of their partnership at six in the morning. The series of events that had led to this point were ridiculous, as far as he was concerned. She had told him to say something he really meant, so that's what he had done… well… kinda.
If he was being honest with himself, he would admit that kissing her was probably not what she had in mind. Avoiding a discussion about their brief lip-lock was easy to do when the discussion about what it really means never took place. He had gone over it a million times in his head, wondering if she said those words without having any idea how he felt. His train of thought, however, was interrupted by heavy footsteps in the sand behind him. He waited a few seconds while Sam Hanna situated himself beside him.
"How'd you find me?" he asked.
"Eric," Sam answered. "Kinda early for surfing."
Deeks leaned back on his elbows. "Surfing doesn't goad well with rib fractures."
"Kinda early for drinking," he followed up, motioning to the empty beer bottles sticking out of the sand to Deeks' left.
Deeks shot him a half-smile, "Drinking does help the rib fractures."
Sam nodded and leaned forward, clasping his hands around his knees.
They sat in silence for a few seconds before Deeks spoke again. "Kensi send you out here to check on me?" he asked, squinting into the rising sun.
Sam shook his head. "What's her beef with you?"
Deeks shrugged. "I wouldn't call it beef necessarily… chicken is a more accurate comparison."
Sam looked at him, waiting for further explanation.
Deeks sat up and grabbed his sunglasses, pushing them on his face. "Kensi is having some issues with communication. Nothing a life-time of therapy won't fix." He looked at Sam, searching for a way out of the conversation. "Dude, you have that shirt in like… seventeen colors," he said, changing the subject, "Don't you think a nice Hawaiian print would be more appropriate for the beach?"
Sam chuckled, "Evading the topic; a technique used by someone with something to hide."
"Or by someone that isn't in the mood to talk about it," he responded, turning back to face the ocean.
Sam was quiet for another minute. "Look, I know we're not really… talkers."
"You're not really a talker." Deeks grabbed an empty beer bottle and spun it in his hands. "I think we've established that I am a talker, and it bugs the hell out of you."
Sam waved a hand in the air. "Fine. I just wanted to say that I was wrong."
Deeks feigned surprise. "Huh?"
Sam's face was serious. "My wife is alive because of you."
Deeks shook his head. "Michelle is alive because she's a highly-trained CIA operative."
"And because you didn't break." Sam took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. "I thought you would sing like a canary as soon as that drill hit you."
Deeks visibly shuddered.
"But I was wrong about you."
Deeks nodded and squinted behind his glasses. "So… is this where we hug it out?"
Sam snorted. "Not really a hugger."
"Not a hugger… not a talker."
Sam rose to his feet and dusted off his pant legs. "How's it going at the LAPD office?"
Deeks stared forward, watching the waves hit the shore. "About as well as could be expected," he answered.
Sam clapped him on the back and started toward his car. "We miss you too, Deeks."
When he was out of earshot of the liaison officer, Sam dialed Hetty's number.
"Mr. Hanna, how can I help you?"
"We need to get Deeks back in the office," he said simply.
"You know I have very little control over what the LAPD director does with him while he's off on injury," she replied with an even tone.
"Hetty," he said, looking back to where Deeks sat in the sand, "he's drowning. We need to pull him out." He used the comparison purposefully.
There was a pause before she spoke again. "I'll see what I can do, Mr. Hanna."
Sam shut the phone. It was out of his hands now.
Bullpen: One week later
"So, Lt. Snyder was murdered six months ago."
Kensi, who had been rifling through her bottom desk drawer, stopped and looked at Callen. "Huh?" she said, a confused look on her face. "So who was.…"
"The guy we interrogated in the boatshed?" Callen sank into his desk chair. "Ryan Michael Hershman. He killed Snyder and assumed his identity."
"The body we found in Snyder's backyard," Sam added, leaning against a post, "was Snyder. They just identified him."
"And Ryan Hershman has just been apprehended by LAPD," Hetty said, coming around the corner, a cup of steaming tea in her hands. "Three counts of murder and one for assault with a deadly weapon."
"He's going away for a while," Callen said. He switched off his computer and leaned back in his chair.
"As are we, Mr. Callen."
Kensi rose up off the floor and sat on the edge of her desk, arms crossed. "What do you mean, going away?"
"We have been invited to the Navy-Marine Corps Ball," she answered. "SECNAV will be awarding us for our part in recovering the stolen nuclear weapons."
"Awarding us?" Sam looked skeptical.
"When has SECNAV ever cared to acknowledge us?" Callen added.
"The short answer, Mr. Callen, is that they haven't." Hetty took another sip of her tea.
"So why now?" Kensi asked.
"Because, Miss Blye," Hetty answered, "What you did… was a very big deal."
"And I take it we're going," Callen said, more a statement than a question.
"Oh, we're going," Hetty said, turning away from the agents, "Or the director will have my head." She walked a few steps and then stopped again and turned back around. "Our flight leaves tomorrow morning at 07:00. You'll find your boarding passes in your inboxes." She pointed a finger at each of them. "I expect everyone to be on time."
Kensi walked swiftly through the airport, her suitcase rolling easily behind her. Bleary-eyed, she sipped her coffee as she walked. Nearing the specified gate, she saw the rest of the team, with the addition of Sam's wife, gathered already.
Hetty was impatiently checking her watch. "Cutting it close, Miss Blye," she said, eyebrows raised. Seeing Kensi check her watch, she added, "Oh, don't worry, you're not the last to arrive."
Kensi came to a stop next to Michelle and looked around. "Who are we missing?" she asked.
"Deeks!" Callen said, a surprised expression on his face.
Kensi turned around, and sure enough, their LAPD liaison officer was jogging toward them, a duffel bag slung over his shoulder.
When he reached them, he dropped his bag on the ground. The other members of the team greeted him happily, giving him hugs and handshakes all around. Kensi noticed that he was only slightly out of breath after the jog through the airport. His rib fractures must almost be healed, she thought.
"Mr. Deeks' director was kind enough to let us have him back a few weeks early," she explained, speaking directly to Kensi.
She tried not to feel awkward as her partner finished saying hello to the others and turned to her.
"Hey," he said.
He pulled her into a hug without a second of hesitation. She smelled seawater and lemongrass shampoo.
"I missed you," he said softly into her ear before pulling back. He looked at her face, searching. "You still mad?"
She saw Hetty watching them over his shoulder. "No," she lied, adding a shoulder jab for emphasis and getting mild satisfaction out of his flinch. "Just glad you're here."