The Navy Ball
Deeks watched as Kensi pulled a small container out of her purse and opened it, picking through the contents.
"Okay, for the record," he said, "When I ask how many weapons you brought on 'vacation,' you need to answer honestly. Our partnership needs to be based on trust—a mutual respect for one another-."
She smirked and handed him an earwig. "These aren't weapons, Deeks," she replied. Turning to McGee, she tossed him an earwig and asked, "do you have computer access?"
He nodded, placing the device in his ear and switching it on. Turning, he quickly jogged toward his car, parked a little ways down the street.
"They're weapons of communication, Kensi," Deeks protested.
"What do you have in mind?" Tony asked, watching her unload her supplies.
"Is she smart enough to use a burn phone?" Kensi asked.
Ziva and Tony exchanged a glance.
"Maybe," he replied. "Her father was an intelligence officer, mother was a CIA operative."
McGee rejoined them, computer in hand.
"We are going to lose her," Ziva said, motioning toward Sarah Woodring, now twenty-five yards down the street.
Deeks shook his head and pointed to the mouth of an alley on the right side of the street. "We'll head her off on the next street over," he said.
McGee glanced up from his laptop. "How do you know she's going to turn right…." His voice trailed off as the five agents watched the woman make a right hand turn at the end of the street.
Deeks grinned, "She was holding car keys in her hand and the nearest parking..." he pointed, "Is either a parking garage on the left-."
"With cameras," Kensi said as she handed McGee a small GPS device.
"Or a pay by the hour lot with no security and very little streetlight to the right," Deeks finished.
McGee returned the bug to Kensi, who jammed an earwig in her ear. Turning to her partner, she said, "Let's go." They walked swiftly down the sidewalk and into the narrow alleyway. "How're your ribs feeling?" she asked.
"I'm not quite up for an obstacle course, but I'll keep you updated."
The streetlights bathed the alley in soft light, drawing the shadows out. The result was an eerie feeling of quiet darkness. They passed a row of industrial trashcans and dimly lit doorways.
"Talk to me, McGee," Kensi said quietly.
McGee's voice suddenly filled their eardrums. "Sarah Woodring," he answered, "Twenty-nine-year-old female working as a journalist for Huff Post since 2012. Graduated magna cum laude from Penn State, Vice President of the Beta Rho Sorority in 2006."
As they reached the end of the alleyway, Kensi stopped and pulled the rubber band out of her ponytail. Her long brown hair fell down around her shoulders. Turning to her partner, she looked at him and cringed.
"What?" he said, checking out his reflection in a window and smoothing down his hair.
When he turned back, she undid the top button of his shirt.
"If I knew it was going to be that kind of party…"
"You wish it was going to be that kind of party," she returned with an eye roll.
"I always have high hopes, sugar dumpling."
Kensi looked him over, nodding. Together, they turned the corner and started walking toward where Sarah Woodring would be. This street resembled the last, with restaurants and bars in close proximity. There were people everywhere; sitting in outdoor patios, walking in groups, and waiting to gain entrance to low lit clubs.
"Same sorority, different college," Kensi said as she scanned the busy street for Sarah Woodring.
Deeks shook his head, "Different sorority, same college."
McGee's voice filled their ears again, "In college, Sarah was known for throwing some wild parties at the sorority house, she was even arrested and charged with disturbing the peace in 2005. Boyfriend was Ned Shaddly; he played football for Penn… roommate was Lisa Ellis."
"I have a visual," Kensi said, catching sight of the woman's red jacket. She took hold of Deeks' arm and they easily transitioned into their new roles. She slowed her pace as Sarah crossed a busy intersection and waited until she was about ten feet away.
"Oh my God, Sarah?!" she called, loud enough to be heard over the traffic.
Sarah Woodring glanced behind her momentarily before raising her eyebrows and coming to a tentative stop in front of Kensi and Deeks.
"Do I… know you?" she asked, clutching her purse a little tighter.
"Tiffany Kramer!" Kensi said. She waited a few seconds to proceed. "I went to Penn State! Oh my God, how many years has it been?" she pretended to think for a minute, "Like seven?"
Sarah stood, a perplexed expression on her face.
"I met you at a huge Beta Rho party after the homecoming game… your boyfriend was playing… Ned, I think?"
Sarah nodded, "Those were some wild times."
She was buying it.
"Oh, I am so rude!" she gave Deeks' arm a squeeze, "This is my boyfriend, Dexter DiWitt. He graduated from Penn a few years before us."
Deeks moved forward to shake her hand. "Dex," he said.
"Oh!" Kensi cried, "We are going to miss the movie if we don't go soon!" She turned back toward Sarah Woodring, who looked just as startled as when Kensi first approached. "We should catch up soon! Give me your phone and I'll leave you my number."
Sarah, still looking unsure, pulled her phone out of her purse and handed it to Kensi, who quickly punched in her own number and hit 'call.' She felt her phone vibrate in her pocket. Done, she thought.
"Um, it was… nice to see you again," the woman said after Kensi handed her phone back.
"Oh my God, you too!" She launched herself forward, gathering Sarah up in a hug and tagging her jacket with a GPS device. Taking a hold of Deeks' hand again, they started backing away from Sarah, Deeks pulling her away in a typical 'we're going to be late if you don't stop talking' fashion. "Make sure you give me a call if you wanna catch up, ok?" With a little wave, she turned and they continued walking in the direction they had been headed prior to the meet. She didn't glance back.
When they were out of earshot, Deeks said, "McGee, we have an audience."
The two agents came to a stop at an intersection, and Kensi turned to face her partner, attempting to get a better look. Twenty feet back, she saw what Deeks had been referring to. There was a man in a black sedan staring at Sarah's retreating form through the side mirror. Kensi patted Deeks' chest and smiled, trying not to arouse suspicion. "I see them," she said.
"You want us to engage?" Deeks asked. He leaned forward and kissed her on the forehead, not daring to turn around again. The crosswalk light signaled them to move and the pair started forward again.
"Negative," came McGee's voice. Tony and Ziva are headed that way.
"Black Chevy Malibu parked across the street from the parking lot," Deeks said. He let go of Kensi's hand and wrapped his arm around her waist. "Two guys inside, one with binoculars. Plate is Echo, Uniform, Lima four twenty-one."
"Got it," McGee said. "And Sarah Woodring's GPS device is transmitting. We owe you one."
"You can buy me a drink at the Navy Ball," he replied with a smile.
"I'll buy you two—alcohol is free all night," McGee said. "You should be able to see Tony and Ziva now. They're going to tail the tail."
Deeks saw Ziva's car round the corner. She parallel parked within eyesight of the Malibu, waiting for the driver's next move. Deeks nodded discretely at the two agents as he and Kensi passed by.
"The safe house is five blocks to your left," McGee continued. "I sent the address to your phones."
"Thank, man," Deeks said. "Oh, and… can we not mention this to Hetty?" he asked. "I'm technically not cleared for field work."
Kensi snorted. "She'll find out."
"Not if we don't tell her."
"It's Hetty. She knows everything," she replied.
Deeks nodded, "Isn't that the truth." As they turned the corner, he reluctantly let go of his partner's waist. The night breeze swirled around them as they walked through the neighborhood in companionable silence. Deeks checked the address on his phone and pointed to a gray house about halfway down the street. It was well-kempt with a small front porch, the yard surrounded by a white fence. Deeks pushed open the gate and he and Kensi made their way across the stone path leading to the front door. On the porch, he noticed a security camera hidden in a hanging plant. He pulled his key out and unlocked the door, holding it open for Kensi.
Inside the foyer were his and Kensi's bags, presumably dropped off by Tony and Ziva. Callen and Eric were sitting on the sofa watching television, feet propped up on the coffee table.
"Hey, where have you two been?" Callen asked.
Kensi crossed the room and plopped down in a chair, pulling her feet up underneath her.
"I am going to plead the fifth," Deeks replied, grabbing his duffel and Kensi's suitcase off the foyer floor. "And I would like the record to reflect that anything that may have transpired this evening was not my idea."
Kensi laughed. "You just don't want Hetty knowing we broke curfew."
"Wait, there's a curfew?" Deeks asked. "I thought her 'dinner and bed' comment was just a suggestion."
"Hetty already paid us her nightly visit," Eric said.
"I told her I thought you guys were already in bed," Callen added. He shrugged, "which technically wasn't a lie, because I didn't know that you weren't."
"Then that's where I'll be going." Deeks made his way toward the stairs. "She's probably watching us from some hidden camera, biding her time before striking."
"Sam and Michelle are the first door on the left," Callen warned.
"Got it." He ascended the stairs, turning right at the top. There was an open door about ten steps down the hallway, leading into a large room with two double beds. He dropped their bags down on the floor before shutting the door behind him. Digging through his duffel, he found his pajama bottoms and a white v-neck. It had been a long day and the prospect of sleep sounded wonderful. He changed quickly and collapsed on the bed, feeling exhausted. His ribs were throbbing and he closed his eyes against the pain. A few minutes went by before he heard the door open softly.
"You still awake?" Kensi whispered.
"No," he replied.
He heard her pad across the room to the bed and unzip her suitcase. He wondered what she had packed to sleep in.
"Close your eyes, please."
"They are closed."
He heard the rustle of fabric and couldn't stop himself from opening one eye. Moonlight streamed through the window, illuminating Kensi's bare back as she peeled her top off. He felt heat shoot down his body and he squeezed his eyes shut again as she started to turn around.
"I saw that," she said.
"Saw what?" He clamped a hand over his eyes. "I certainly saw nothing on account of my eyes being closed… you know… because peeking would be wildly inappropriate and unprofessional."
"Deeks, you can open them now."
"Are you sure?" He peered through his fingers. Kensi was standing near the bed, her discarded clothes in a pile at her feet, wearing a tiny tank top and… were those underwear? He recovered his eyes. "Speaking of inappropriate," he said.
She looked down. "They're boy shorts!"
"Those," he said, opening his eyes and pointing at her tiny bottoms, "Are not boy shorts, okay? Boys do not wear shorts that small."
"Oh my God, keep your voice down!" she hissed, crossing the room and covering his mouth.
"Why didn't you pack pajamas?" His voice came out muffled.
She lifted her hand from his mouth. "What?"
"Pajamas, Kensi. Why didn't you pack some?"
She furrowed her brow. "I thought I was going to be rooming with Nell."
"And you were… what? Going to have a pillow fight and talk about the boys you like?!" He sat up in bed, holding up a finger, "You know what? Don't answer that!"
She grinned and sauntered back over to her bed, swinging her hips tauntingly. "I think I'll leave you with that visual."
"Kensi Blye, you are one evil woman." Deeks leaned back against his pillow and looked up at the ceiling. He heard Kensi pull back the covers and get situated in bed. He tried not to think about what she was wearing underneath those covers.
"You still trying not to think about my boy shorts?" she asked, a smile in her voice.
He must have lost consciousness because when he awoke, the room was empty and his jaw really really hurt. The mouth guard and drill were lying, bloodied, on a nearby table. His head felt heavy as he lifted it to glance around the room in an attempt to get his bearings. From a distance, he heard two men arguing. Deeks tried to move his hands, but they were bound too tightly. He looked up and was relieved to see Sam through the glass door, looking back at him.
"You okay?" Sam mouthed.
Deeks nodded, hoping his expression appeared optimistic. He actually hoped his face appeared anything besides painful.
Sam looked left and right before lifting his hands to the sides momentarily. He'd gotten his ropes off. This was a good sign.
Deeks twisted his body sideways, trying to test the strength of the rope. He was rewarded with a slight give near the ankles, which enabled him to free his right foot.
The voices drew nearer. He couldn't make out what they were saying because of the loud ringing in his ears.
Suddenly, one of Sidorov's cronies burst through the door, pointing a gun at Deeks' face. He barely had time to react, launching himself sideways at the last second as the gun discharged. He felt the bullet skim his left arm as he landed solidly on his right. His bone made a horrific cracking sound as he hit the ground and he cried out in pain. The chair snapped in half on impact with the concrete, allowing him to wiggle free from the rope. It was only going to be a matter of seconds before the goon with the gun aimed a second time….
Deeks rolled and sat up just in time to see Sam attack his assailant with a chair, hitting him over the head and knocking him unconscious. The man fell forward, gun sliding across the floor into Deeks' waiting hand. Sam pulled him to his feet by his good arm.
"Broken?" he asked, motioning to Deeks' arm.
He nodded and handed the weapon to Sam while cradling his right arm. Shooting with his left wasn't going to do them any good. The two agents moved to stand behind the door, anticipating more company.
Not even a second later, the door slammed open, revealing three more armed men. Sam shot the first and second point blank and then ducked as the third plowed through the door, grabbing Sam at the waist. On the floor, Deeks grabbed the leg of a broken chair and swung at the man's legs, hitting him just below the knee. The man collapsed, letting go of Sam in the process. On his knees, he grappled at what was left of the broken chair, bringing it down on Deeks' ribcage. Another shot rang out.
He immediately couldn't breathe. He leaned forward, struggling to get air in his lungs, but it was no use.
Kensi's voice ricocheted through his eardrums. Deeks sat up, clutching his chest and gasping for air, sweat dripping from his hair. His eyes tried to focus in the dark and he felt his partner's reassuring hand on the back of his head, rubbing his neck with her thumb. It only took him a few seconds to realize where he was.
"It's okay," she was saying, "it was just a dream."
He felt his pulse start to slow, his breathing return to normal. He leaned forward and rubbed his temples, feeling the phantom jaw and face pain begin to disappear. The problem with these nightmares was that they felt so real. He wasn't able to distinguish between the dream and reality because there wasn't an overt difference between the two. Torture felt like torture. Pain was pain.
Kensi repositioned herself next to him on the bed, leaning back against the pillows. They sat this way for a few minutes.
"Every night?" she said finally.
He sighed and leaned back against the headboard, not looking at her. He nodded. The silver lining to this incident was that he hadn't woken up screaming. At least there was that.
She handed him a bottled water off the night stand.
He took a drink, letting the cool liquid fill him with a sense of calm. "Thanks."
"Do you wanna talk about it?"
He shook his head and took another drink before recapping it and tossing it to the floor.
"Okay." She gave his hand a squeeze and moved to get up.
He kept a hold of her hand. "Kensi?" he said.
She stopped. "Yeah?"
"Will you lie here for a little while?" He scooted over to the edge of the bed, making room for her. "I promise not get handsy. I'll keep all my extremities to myself."
She looked at him for a few seconds before nodding.
He lifted the covers up and she crawled under, burrowing into the pillow-top mattress. "But no starfish jokes in the morning," she said.
Deeks held up his fingers. "Scouts' honor."