The Navy Ball
Los Angeles, CA
The Secretary of the Navy had allowed the NCIS team use of his personal jet for the flight from L.A. to D.C. Kensi, who was used to flying coach (or worse), adjusted her seat to a steep recline and accepted a soda from the flight attendant, sipping it happily. The cabin was large, equipped with flat-screens and enough computer technology for Eric and Nell to run the office from the air if they wanted (they didn't). She sipped her drink and watched as her partner pushed his bag into the overhead compartment next to hers and shut the door, securing it in place.
"I could have brought my entire wardrobe and we still would have had room in here for all your weapons," Deeks said.
Kensi plucked a magazine out of her bag and opened it pointedly. "Your wardrobe, as you call it, consists of about four button-ups and a pair of jeans."
"Ouch." He slid into the seat next to hers.
"She's right, Deeks," Sam said as he moved past them down the aisle. "Plaid is kinda your thing."
"Plaid isn't my thing," he protested. "Awesomeness is my thing."
Kensi snorted and turned a page. "My point is, we'd have room for everybody's weapons and all the clothing you own."
The jet began moving toward the runway, preparing for takeoff.
Deeks pulled a magazine out of the rack in front of him and opened it, staring at the glossary for a second. "So…" he started.
She didn't look up. "So…." Flipping to an article about a recent celebrity cheating scandal, Kensi scanned the photos, feigning interest.
"How many weapons did you bring?" He was doing his best to hide a grin.
She looked at him incredulously. "Um, none, Deeks," she answered quickly. "We're on vacation."
He shook his head, disbelieving. "Come on, I know you better than that and… it's not really a vacation. Seven?"
She flipped the page again, pretending to ignore him.
She knew how long this could go on if she didn't respond. "Four," she said finally.
"One gun, one knife, and two ninja-throwing-stars?" he guessed.
She pursed her lips to keep from smiling. "No," she said.
She rolled her eyes and sighed, turning to look at him. "Two guns, a can of mace, and a taser."
"That's my girl." He smiled and turned a few pages of his magazine, settling into his seat.
The jet picked up speed on the runway and Kensi felt her ears pop as they lifted into the sky. A few rows back, she could hear Eric and Nell discussing the finer points of autopilot. She closed her eyes while the jet ascended. When they made it above the clouds, the turbulence was gone and she let out a breath she hadn't realized she was holding. Flying didn't usually bother her, but she had never flown on such a small plane before. Looking out the window, she watched the landscape turn from buildings to farmland, hoping this 'vacation' would be uneventful.
Somewhere over a flat, treeless State, Deeks finally spoke. "Kens?" he said, "You wanna tell me what this is all about?" His voice was quiet.
Kensi shut her magazine and turned to look at him with, what she hoped was, a perplexed expression. "What what is about, Deeks?"
"I don't know…" he shrugged, "Care to explain the sudden passive-aggressive streak you seem to be having? Maybe I'm lucky you only brought four weapons."
She pursed her lips and snapped her magazine open again with a loud CRACK. "Deeks," she said, "If I wanted you dead, you already would be."
"You may have mutant-ninja training, but I'm pretty scrappy," he argued.
"Besides," she said, continuing through his protest, "You know the answer to your question, and I really don't think we need to discuss specifics."
He shook his head, "Man, do I really wish that were true. The only thing I do know," he went on, leaning over and speaking softly, "is that you drove me home from the hospital and then disappeared for two months."
She glanced across the seats, making sure nobody was listening in. Just in case, she kept her voice low. "Which, by the way, is a great excuse to hop into bed with the first floozy that offers you a free ride." Saying the words out loud caused her heart to pound in her chest. This train of thought had occurred to her during the drive to the boatshed after the incident at the bar. True, she had only seen a brief encounter between Deeks and the bar bimbo; however, horrible scenarios had been playing on repeat in her head for the past week, each one making her angrier. In her mind, he had kissed her, almost died, and then moved on to a new piece-of-ass before she had a chance to process anything.
His mouth hung open, a shocked expression on his face. Her statement had obviously caught him off guard.
She was still staring at him, eyes locked on his.
"Ever had a rib fracture before, Kens?" he asked finally.
She didn't respond.
"Yeah, didn't think so. Try three ribs and a broken arm and a swollen jaw… kinda makes that type of acrobatic work a little painful."
They both fell silent momentarily as Callen walked past toward the back of the plane. If he noticed the sudden silence, he didn't let on.
When he was out of earshot, Kensi continued, her voice low, "Look, I really don't need the visual of you and circus sex when I go to sleep at night."
He rolled his eyes, "Funny, because for someone who doesn't want to think about it, you seem to be spending a lot of time thinking about it."
He had a point.
"You know it's not that simple, Deeks." She raised her chin and glared at him. "And I do not spend a lot of time thinking about your sex life." So. Not. True. Her face turned pink.
"Kinda like how you know the girl at the bar was just that—a girl, at a bar, that-."
"You licked?" she raised her eyebrows.
"It was a dare, Kens." He shook his head. "I made twenty bucks."
"And what did she get for letting you put your tongue on her?"
He chuckled, "Touché."
They were quiet for a few seconds.
"You know, if you wanted an explanation, there's this new invention called the 'phone' that can be used for communication these days," he said.
"Yeah?" She pretended to be intrigued, resting her chin on her fist and staring at him with wide eyes. "So tell me then, is that a two-way device?"
"Good question—why, yes, it is."
"Huh," she shrugged. "Guess I'll have to try this 'talky device' one of these days."
In that moment, Kensi realized (and had perhaps known all along) that he was telling her the truth about the girl at the bar. She had wanted to believe that he had committed an act of injustice against her. If he had slept with her, or anyone else for that matter, it would mean that this… thing… they had wasn't real. It would mean that her avoidance of him over the past few weeks was null and void. Their partnership would recover, and her world would go back to the way it was. As she followed this train of thought, however, she also realized that she wanted more than just a partnership.
And it terrified her.
Somewhere over the Eastern United States, 17:00
Deeks awoke to the smell of apple shampoo and Kensi's head resting firmly on his shoulder. He hadn't realized he'd fallen asleep. As he opened his eyes, he saw the faces of Sam and Callen staring back at him. They were resting their elbows on the back of the seats.
He felt Kensi stir next to him.
"Not really used to two dudes staring at me while I sleep," he said, rubbing his eyes. "You guys are creepers."
"And you two," Callen replied, pointing between Deeks and Kensi, "are adorable."
"Snuggling," Sam added.
Kensi opened her eyes and groaned, lifting her head off of Deeks' shoulder. "We are not snuggling."
Sam turned to his partner, "What would you call it, G?"
Callen shook his head, "Looked like snuggling to me, Sam."
"So you're telling me that you know what partner snuggling looks like, then?" Deeks challenged. "And, so there isn't any confusion, I am insinuating that the two of you do your own share of snuggling."
Sam hid a smile. "Not really a snuggler," he said.
"Not a talker, not a hugger, not a snuggler…" Deeks trailed off. "What do you bring to the table, Sam?"
"Skills, Deeks, mad skills." He stood up, Callen following suit. "We'll be at Dulles in one click," he said. "Hetty wants to see everyone in the conference room in ten."
After Sam and Callen disappeared behind the set of doors at the south end of the plane, Deeks stretched and rolled his neck from side to side. Next to him, Kensi yawned.
"Sleep okay?" he asked.
She blushed, "Um, yeah. Sorry about falling asleep on your-."
"It's okay," he said, waving it off. "You looked… well, adorable, apparently."
She sighed and rested her head on the back of her seat. "Deeks," she said, after a few seconds, "when did everything get so-."
She nodded, her brown eyes staring into him. It had been so long since he had seen her look so… vulnerable.
He broke eye contact momentarily, staring down at his hands and then up at the ceiling. "Probably longer ago than either of us care to admit," he said finally.
"Do you think they know?" she asked.
Deeks didn't need to ask who 'they' were. He remembered the note that Hetty had given him a few months back; Sunshine and gunpowder, it read (i.e. Hetty knew). Sam, Callen, and the others? Probably not. "No," he said, shaking his head. This information was need-to-know. "Although, they are-."
"Federal agents," she finished.
"Yeah." He ran a hand through his hair. "They are trained to know stuff, after all."
"Maybe we should-."
"Stop finishing one another sentences in public?" He grinned as she rolled her eyes.
"Amongst other things." She broke eye contact and exhaled.
"So, you're… saying there are other things we shouldn't do in public?"
"You know what I mean."
He shook his head again, "No. This confused look on my face right now," he drew an imaginary circle around his face for emphasis, "is not just for show."
She rolled her eyes and stood up, stretching her arms above her head. "Same look you always have, Deeks." She placed her hands on the tops of the seats and swung her legs over his easily, coming to rest in the aisle. "Come on, we're going to be late to the meeting and then Hetty'll think we're canoodling back here."
"Nobody uses the word 'canoodling' anymore, Kens," he said as he stood up and stretched his back. His ribs ached from sitting in one place for so long.
Kensi was halfway down the aisle. "Fine," she said, smiling at him. "She'll think we're back here fooling around."
"I'd fool around with you any day, Fern," he said, following her to the back of the plane. As they reached the door that separated them from the conference room, Deeks grabbed her arm, stopping her forward progress. "Kensi," he said, spinning her around to face him. They were inches apart. He dropped his hand from her bicep, sliding it down to meet hers, entwining their fingers.
She squeezed his hand lightly and lifted her eyes to meet his. "Yeah?"
He breathed in deeply, inhaling the scent of her shampoo. He had missed that smell over the last few months. "We need to talk about this."
There it was.
There was a 'this', and it needed to be talked about. He inwardly scoffed at himself for still being unable to use a word other than 'this.'
She let go of his hand and reached up, rubbing his cheek with the palm of her hand. "I know," she answered.
He searched her face for a few seconds, looking for a sign that she was about to bolt, but found none. They stood there, nose to nose for a few more seconds before she turned the doorknob and pushed open the door.
Somewhere over Washington, D.C., 17:20
Hetty stood at the head of the conference room table as the last two of her agents stepped through the door. She waited as they situated themselves, leaning against the wall with expressionless faces—somehow still managing to look simultaneously innocent and guilty.
"Thank you for finally joining us, Agent Blye, Detective Deeks." She kept her face neutral as she addressed the whole group. "Director Vance has been kind enough to loan us one of the D.C. safe houses for our stay. It is approximately three blocks from the Washington Hilton, where the ball will be taking place on Saturday evening."
"Kindness," Callen said, a small smile playing on his lips, "not to be confused with cheapness."
Next to him, Sam snorted.
"Enough, both of you," Hetty said, pointing between her two senior agents. "D.C. agents will be picking us up from the airport at 18:00. Dinner and then to bed, all of you." She glanced around the room, making eye contact with each person individually. She noticed Deeks raising his hand.
"Question, Mr. Deeks?"
He cleared his throat. "Um, yeah… about this whole… bed situation."
"I am getting to that," she said. Reaching into her blazer, she pulled out a manila envelope and dumped the contents onto the table. Four sets of house keys made a clanging sound as they hit the wood surface. "Eight keys, seven people," she said. "Work it out." With that, she turned and exited the room, leaving her team to their own devices.
Callen grabbed a key off the table. "Partners?" he said to Sam.
Sam shot him an incredulous expression and grabbed his own key. "Sorry G, you're just not as pretty as my wife." He threw his arm around Michelle, who gave him a kiss on the cheek. "We're childless and on vacation. Doesn't happen often."
Deeks shook his head, "I call whichever room is furthest from Sam's."
"I can't believe you're dumping me," Callen said.
"Don't think of it like that… it's more of a temporary reassignment. Besides, she can do things that you can't." He grinned and Michelle elbowed him in the stomach, rolling her eyes.
"Nope," Callen replied, "I can definitely do that."
"Like to see you try," Sam challenged.
During this exchange, Callen noticed Deeks whispering fervently in his partner's ear. She shook her head once and whispered something back. They were at the far corner of the room, so he couldn't hear what they were saying.
"Something you'd like to add, guys?" he asked.
The hushed conversation stopped and Kensi shot Deeks one last look before moving forward and grabbing a key off the table. She cleared her throat, "I am going to room with my partner," she said, an unconvincing tone to her voice. "Because… otherwise," she shot him a look over her shoulder, "Someone else will get to hear his incessant string of babble… All. Night. Long."
"Yaow," Eric said, adding a whistle for emphasis.
"I call the furthest room from the two of them," Sam said.
Kensi and Deeks rolled their eyes.
"Please. Let's be adults about this. We've slept together before…" Deeks said, before quickly adding, "You know… in a completely platonic fashion… undercover… where there were ample amounts of clothing." He stopped for a second and scratched his head. "Which is truly unfortunate because have you seen my partner?" He took a breath and Kensi silenced him with a look.
"Thank you for that visual," Callen said, shaking his head.
"You know what?" Kensi said, a note of agitation creeping into her voice, "you can have him." She lifted her hand to toss the key back on the table, but Deeks stopped her.
"Hey!" he said, "No takesies-backsies. You, my dear, are stuck with me."
"Awesome," she said with a strained voice.
"Guess that leaves me and Eric," Callen said. "And Nell with a room to herself."
Nell shook her head, "No complaints from me." She grabbed the last key off the table and swung it around on her finger.
Hetty's voice suddenly filled the conference room, "Now that you have chosen your roommate, would everyone please find their seats. We will be arriving in Washington D.C. in approximately twenty minutes."