The Navy Ball
Washington D.C., 18:30
"Do you want to tell me what that was all about?" Kensi jammed the handle of her carry-on down and lifted it up as she and Deeks descended the aircraft stairs.
"What what was all about?"
"Can we not do this again?" she said, irritation creeping into her voice. They reached the bottom step and she grabbed the sleeve of his jacket, spinning him around to face her. The other members of the team glanced back briefly, but continued walking toward the hanger. "Rooming together all weekend isn't really the best way to stay on the down low."
Deeks sighed and raked a hand through his blonde curls, avoiding eye contact. "Nightmares," he said finally.
Kensi dropped her hand. "Oh." She looked down at her feet. "Sidorov?" she asked quietly.
Deeks squinted at the sun and nodded. "And his band of nasty torture devices." He adjusted his duffel bag over his shoulder. "As much as I love being the butt of Sam and Callen's jokes," he said, "I'd rather them not catch me waking up in the middle of the night… screaming like a little girl."
Ahead of them, the others were greeting the D.C. agents and loading luggage into three vehicles. Kensi and Deeks started walking again.
"Why didn't you tell me?" she asked.
He shrugged, "I thought you needed some space, didn't want to unload on you."
She opened her mouth to say something else-to apologize for not calling, for not asking how he was doing-but they had reached the rest of the group.
"And this is Detective Marty Deeks and Special Agent Kensi Blye," Callen was saying.
Kensi moved forward to greet their east coast counterparts, seeing a few familiar faces among the bunch; it had been a few years since they had crossed paths.
"Detective?" asked a dark-haired woman, identified as Special Agent Ziva David.
Deeks nodded, "LAPD liaison."
"Oh!" she said, "you are me—well, you were me."
Seeing Deeks' confused expression, Special Agent Timothy McGee added, "Ziva was our Mossad liaison before becoming an agent."
Kensi recalled Director Vance mentioning this a few years back; Ziva had cut ties with her old agency after a particularly dangerous mission had gone awry and Mossad had left her for dead. Kensi decided that she and Ziva would probably get along splendidly if they worked in the same division.
Ziva grabbed Kensi's bag and placed in the trunk. "You are hungry, yes?"
"If we don't feed her soon," Deeks interrupted, tossing his duffel unceremoniously in the trunk, "she'll start gnawing off my leg in the car. I think she's already exhausted her Twinkie supply, so we'd better move fast."
Kensi punched him playfully in the arm.
"Ow!" he said, grinning and rubbing his shoulder. "Can you at least start with my left leg? Maybe at the toes? I feel like my balance would initially be compromised, but as long as you started with the pinkie and-."
"Oh my God, Deeks," Kensi said, covering his mouth and pushing him into the back seat. "Just shut up."
Ziva snorted. "He reminds me of my partner," she said. "I bet he talks incessantly during stakeouts." She was just about to open the driver's side door when another agent walked up and plucked the keys out of her hand. "Tony," she protested, "It is my car!"
Tony waved to Kensi and Deeks in the back seat. "Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo," he said, introducing himself. He slid past Ziva and squeezed into the driver's seat, grunting as he moved the seat backward.
Ziva rolled her eyes and walked around the other side of the car.
"Trust me," he said as Ziva shut the door and buckled her seatbelt, "you'll thank me for this later when you're still breathing."
"Tony, I have never killed anyone with a vehicle…" she stopped and thought for a second. "Not accidentally anyway."
"And talking during a stakeout is standard operating procedure, Zi-VA," he said as he started up the engine. Tony shifted his glance toward the two agents in the backseat. "I don't know what kind of fancy west coast food you folks usually eat, but how do you feel about cheeseburgers?" he asked.
Deeks snorted, "music to my partner's ears."
Louie's Grill and Saloon
The restaurant was a small, hole in the wall with excellent cuisine, according to Tony. It was also within walking distance of the safe house, which was a bonus. The teams made small talk at first, mostly discussing their demographics—hometown, college, previous career (when applicable). Deeks, who had always thought of special agents (no matter which agency they hailed from) as stuffy, white collar snobs, was impressed at how laid back their east coast counterparts were. The dynamics of the team even mirrored theirs in a small way.
"So," Tony was saying, "Office of Special Projects." He took a swig of his beer and leaned back in his chair, looking at the agents sitting around him.
"Your team does mostly undercover work?" Ziva grabbed a few French fries off her partner's plate and dipped them in ketchup.
Sam nodded, "Founded in 2006. We deal mostly with major threats to national security."
"Which is how you became involved with Isaac Sidorov." Special Agent Timothy McGee added. "I read the report. You deserve every bit of the recognition for recovering those nukes." He reached across Ziva and grabbed a fry off Tony's plate.
Tony slid his plate away from the other agents, "Enough with the food stealing, both of you!"
"I ordered broccoli," McGee said, dipping his French fry in Ziva's ketchup. "Buyer's remorse."
"It's what we do… what all of us do… everyday," Callen said. "Why we're being awarded for it this time?" He paused and glanced at the other members of his team. "Your guess is as good as mine."
"Accept it and move on, Agent Callen," Gibbs said, rolling his glass of bourbon around in one hand.
"Says the guy whose received 'Agent of the Year' for what… thirteen years in a row?" Callen countered.
"Like I said, just accept it." He took a sip of his drink and reached across Callen to grab a fry off his senior agent's plate. "And don't let it go to your head."
Tony rolled his eyes and pushed the rest of his dinner to the center of the table. "Anyone else?"
Deeks grabbed one and stuffed it into his mouth. "They can keep the award if I could get my molars back." He took a long swallow of his beer. "I vote, no more nuclear weapons and no more torture."
"Here, here!" Sam said, clinking his glass against Deeks'.
"You know what I'd like to see?" Callen said, grinning.
Sam glanced at his partner and shook his head. "No."
"Oh, come on…." Callen replied. "Too soon?"
"Ten years from now will still be too soon, G."
"What?" Kensi asked, taking a huge bite of her burger.
"Deeks… making out with Sam."
"It was CPR, not romance," Sam retorted. "And nobody needs to relive that."
"Oh," Eric piped up. "We have it on vide—oww!"
Deeks saw Nell shoot Eric a stern look and he immediately fell silent.
"Wait, we have footage of it?" Callen asked.
Eric and Nell exchanged a glance.
"Well…" Nell started slowly, "There happened to be a government satellite in the area at the time." She stopped and looked at Eric momentarily. "But technically we don't have access to it…."
Deeks made a sudden realization about what Nell was saying. "Exactly… when does this satellite footage start?" he asked.
Nell and Eric exchanged another quick glance, neither making eye contact with him.
"Um… the CIA was also tracking Sidorov's movements… so we hacked into their system a few weeks ago to find out if they had any information that we did-." Eric looked at Deeks' blank expression and stopped. "Footage starts shortly before you guys arrived at the house."
Beside him, Kensi choked on her burger.
So they know, Deeks thought.
"Why haven't we seen this?" Callen asked.
Nell shook her head. "It's shotty at best… not really much to see." She looked up, momentarily catching Deeks' eyes before looking back at Callen.
She definitely knows.
"Besides… it's probably better that nobody else sees it. We could go to prison for accessing it in the first place," she finished.
"Not that I'm arguing… but when has that ever stopped you before?" Callen asked.
Nell shrugged, "SecNav has never been paying close attention before."
The other agents seemed to accept this answer. Deeks wondered how long it had taken Eric and Nell to craft this argument. Was protecting him and Kensi their primary motivation in keeping the satellite footage under wraps? He wasn't sure how to feel about this new development; wasn't sure he wanted others on the team knowing about his… thing (damnit Deeks… use a different word!) with his partner. Stealing a look at Kensi, he hoped she wasn't completely freaking out.
She was staring into space with unblinking glassy eyes, absently crumpling a straw wrapper in her fist.
Completely freaking out.
"Kens?" he said.
"Huh? Yeah?" she said, startled. "Sorry, I'm going to use the… bathroom." She stood up, looking somewhat frazzled.
"Didn't you just pee like… five minutes ago?" he asked.
She shot him a dirty look over her shoulder as she walked toward the women's bathroom. "You're not one to talk."
"Hydration is healthy," he said, biting down on another French fry.
"You call it hydration," she shot back, not turning around, "The rest of the world calls it a bladder infection."
Nell had waited a few minutes before following Kensi into the restroom. She was fairly certain that Eric's slip-up about the case footage had blown over easily, but she didn't want to arouse suspicions with a group bathroom trip.
Kensi was splashing water on her face when she entered, letting it drip off her chin and into the white porcelain sink.
"Hey," she said.
Nell handed her a wad of paper towel and leaned against the countertop, looking at Kensi through the reflection in the mirror.
Kensi blotted her face. "Thank you," she said after a minute.
Nell shrugged, "for what?"
"You know for what." She threw the wad of paper towel into the trash and turned to face Nell.
Nell folded her arms across her chest. "I mean… I assumed that something was going on between you guys," she replied, "but I was a little… surprised to catch you in the act."
"I wouldn't… necessarily call it something," Kensi argued. "I mean… there's not nothing going on, but the word something implies-."
"That you spend your free time kissing your partner?" Nell said, matter-of-factly.
Kensi sighed. "Does Hetty know?"
Nell shook her head. "But, you may want to consider keeping the hanky-panky out of the workplace."
Kensi rolled her eyes, "Hanky-panky is so not the word I would use."
"Canoodling?" Nell said.
She snorted. "Deeks said nobody uses that word anymore."
"So you are canoodling with your partner?"
Kensi held up a finger, "I didn't say that."
"So you're just… talking about canoodling with him?"
Kensi looked like she was about to protest, but stopped. "That's actually a more accurate assessment."
"Is this just a… partners with privileges thing?" she asked, tapping her fingers against the sink.
It took Kensi a few moments before she shook her head.
"I didn't think so."
"I won't," Nell assured her. She took a few seconds to reapply her lip-gloss in the mirror before leaving the bathroom ahead of Kensi. When she returned to the table, she wasn't surprised to see Deeks watching her, eyebrows raised.
"She okay?" he asked.
Nell nodded. The group had thinned out while they had been in the bathroom. Sam and Michelle had apparently departed for the safe house, prompting Callen to leave with Gibbs (Nell assumed he was avoiding the safe house for a few hours). Deeks and Tony were making immature "sock on the doorknob" jokes while Ziva pointed out that it was summer, and nobody waswearing socks.
"The sock on the doorknob is an old college signal that means someone's getting it on, Ziva," Tony explained.
"Why do you not just lock the door?" she asked.
"What if you have a roommate with a key?" McGee countered.
She thought about it for a minute. "What if you cannot find a sock?"
"I'll tell you, if there is anything hanging on a doorknob, I would think twice about entering unannounced," Deeks said with a chuckle.
Kensi picked this moment to return from the ladies' room and sit back down at the table.
"I can see the conversation has deteriorated since I left," she said.
"They are talking about Sam hanging a sock on the safe house door," Ziva explained, rolling her eyes at her partner. She grabbed her jacket and stood up, Tony and McGee following suit.
Kensi cringed. "We should probably stay clear for at least another..." she looked at her watch and stood. "Hour."
"An hour?" Deeks asked as he stood, an incredulous look on his face. "It's the first kids-less vacation in forever and you're only giving them an hour?" He grabbed his partner's jacket and helped her put it on.
"Seriously, Deeks!" she said, "I so do not want to have this conversation anymore."
"Kens, if you were, say… married with little mutant-ninja-assassins-."
"We are not talking about this." She punched him in the shoulder and pushed him toward the door, following the other NCIS team members.
"And you wanted to get away for the weekend." He continued without pausing. "Don't you think an hour would be an insufficient amount of time to…."
"Oh my God, if you finish that sentence I will kill you, Deeks!"
He grinned, "Do it? You know… do it, and do it, and do it do it do it."
"Tony!" Ziva's voice stopped Deeks' commentary. They had reached the outside door; Tony was about to lead the way out of the restaurant. Ziva pulled him toward her by the jacket, spinning him so that his back was against the glass door.
"Is this about the sock comments?" he said.
She rolled her eyes and indicated to a young blonde passerby. "It's Sarah Woodring," she hissed.
Tony waited until the woman had passed before he looked.
McGee peered through the adjacent window. "It is her," he said. Seeing Kensi and Deeks' confused expression, added, "A witness in our current case. We've been looking for her for a few weeks… thought she had left the country."
"If she sees Ziva and me, she'll disappear again," Tony said, watching her walk away from the restaurant down the street.
Kensi looked up and down the sidewalk before pushing the door open and digging through her purse. "So let's not let that happen," she said with a grin.