The Navy Ball
The sun was just beginning to peek over the horizon when Deeks awoke; rays of red and orange light bathed the room in a soft glow. As he became more alert, he realized that Kensi had never returned to her own bed during the night, and she was now snuggled into the crick of his shoulder. Her brown hair was splayed out across her pillow and she was turned onto her side, nestled against his body. She looked more peaceful than he had ever seen her. He watched her sleep for a few minutes, trying to still his mind and body so as not to rouse her. It had been a long time since he had woken up with someone next to him and, if he was being honest with himself, it felt good. Although he loved an awake Kensi, a sleeping Kensi was something spectacular too. He studied her skin, her hair, her eyelids—something that he was never allowed to do with 'awake Kensi.' The minutes ticked by in silence.
Deeks soon began to feel a familiar ache in his side from lying in one position. He knew that the ache would slowly turn to a burn, the burn into a knife-like jab if he didn't move off of his bruised ribcage.
There was also the possibility that Kensi would wake up and be less than thrilled about their overnight snuggle session. They had yet to discuss the… thing (damnit!) that lingered between them and she seemed to be in no rush to do so. As much as he wanted to have an honest conversation with her… having it in bed was probably not the ideal location. Bed was synonymous (in his immature mind) with sex, and although the prospect of sex with Kensi Blye was enticing, he wanted more than sex. He wanted everything… if he was being honest with himself.
It was this train of thought that prompted him to slowly slip his knee out from between her legs and roll onto his back, severing the contact between their bodies. He held his breath for a brief moment as Kensi grunted and sleepily rolled onto her other side, burrowing further under the covers. After a few seconds, she was still again.
Deeks quietly moved around the room, pulling out his running clothes and dressing in silence. He grabbed his shoes and bro-sack (okay, fanny pack) and was about to leave when he thought better of it. Picking up a pen off the bedside table, he scribbled a quick note to his partner and set it gently on his side of the bed before leaving the room.
Kensi awoke to sunlight streaming through the window, causing her to feel too warm under the heavy duvet. Kicking it off, she stretched and rolled over onto her back, letting her eyes adjust to the light. The clock read 07:30. She could vaguely hear the sound of her teammates voices downstairs.
Deciding that it was probably time to get her ass out of bed, she yawned and pushed herself into a sitting position. As she turned to get up, her hand hit a sheet of paper lying on the bed next to her. She realized in that moment that she had fallen asleep with her partner… who had departed without waking her. Irritation crept into her periphery.
As she turned the note over in her hand, she tried to push away the idea that this was a 'dismissal letter.' He wasn't leaving her a 'the sex was great but…' note because there was no sex and the two of them weren't dating. Kensi internally shouted at her brain to turn off and opened the sheet of paper, revealing her partner's messy script.
Went for a run. Actually, it's been a while since I did any form of exercise, so I'm not sure how much of it will actually resemble running… this note is now longer than I had intended.
P.S. Thank you
She couldn't help but grin as she read, hearing his voice in every word. Refolding the sheet of paper, she tucked it carefully under the pillow and slid out of bed. Her stomach rumbled as she quickly brushed her teeth and splashed water on her face before pulling on jeans and a t-shirt and leaving the room.
Downstairs, Michelle, Callen, and Nell were sitting around the kitchen table drinking coffee. The kitchen was a warm shade of yellow, potted plants sitting on the windowsill. Kensi wondered who watered them when nobody was staying in the safe house. She couldn't even keep a plant alive at her own house; those poor plants would be doomed if she was responsible for housekeeping at the L.A. safe houses. Deeks often referred to her as a plant hospice worker.
"Morning," she said to her teammates as she grabbed a mug and poured herself a cup of coffee.
"You're usually up with the sun," Callen said, "what gives?"
Kensi shrugged, letting the hot liquid burn her throat on the way down, savoring the feeling. She hopped up on the counter. The 01:00 break in her REM sleep cycle was the obvious answer to that question, but she couldn't divulge that particular pearl of info. "Jet lag," she answered, smiling at Callen.
"Well, better drink your coffee fast," Nell said. "Apparently Hetty has a full day of events planned."
"Where's Sam?" she asked, peering around the corner to see if anyone was in the living room. She assumed her partner actually was out exercising and didn't get sidetracked on the way out the door.
"Running," Michelle said with an eye roll, "with your man."
Kensi faltered. "Deeks?" she set her mug down and laughed (it came out more high pitched than she had intended). "Deeks is not my… man," she said. It sounded unconvincing in her ears.
Michelle waved her hand through the air. "Sorry, partner… man. It's all the same in our house." She pointed at Callen, "I refer to G as my husband's work wife."
Kensi and Nell snorted.
"Why am I the wife?" Callen said, a note of protest in his voice.
"Do you really want me to answer that question?"
Callen was about to respond, but was interrupted by the front door banging open. Kensi could hear Deeks' voice from the foyer.
"Oh my God," she heard him say, "I think I am going to die."
Sam entered the kitchen first, chuckling. Deeks was at his heels, covered with sweat and breathing hard. He was wearing jogging shorts and his fanny pack, his shirt tied around his head like a turban. When he turned to grab water out of the fridge, Kensi saw the intricate web of yellow-green bruising that covered his side, still healing from his complex rib fracture eight weeks ago.
"It's like… one-hundred-and-twenty degrees out there," he said as he collapsed in an empty chair and leaned against the backrest. "I'm pretty sure I am going into heat stroke."
Callen looked at his phone. "It's seventy-four," he said.
Deeks took a long drink of his water. "I'm from California," he argued, "and, I say, it's freaking hot out there."
Kensi laughed, thinking of the note he had left her. Something resembling exercise, she thought.
After recapping his water, Deeks whipped his fanny-pack (bro sack?) around and unzipped it. He pulled out a pastry bag and tossed it to Kensi, who caught it easily.
"Boston cream," he said, adding, "Sorry if it's a little… smashed. There was a thing with a tree branch and a small dog that caused a minor incident…" he waved his hand in the air. "You know what? Forget I mentioned it."
Sam chuckled and clapped Deeks on the shoulder. "This guy made me stop at mile three to pick that up," he said. "Who stops exercising for a donut?"
Deeks pointed a finger at Sam, "Someone that knows how the day will go if his partner doesn't have sugar first thing in the morning."
Kensi took a bite of her donut (which was not smashed, thank the Lord). "What does Hetty have planned?" she asked Nell, continuing the previous conversation through Deeks' interruption.
"That is an excellent question, Ms. Blye."
Kensi, mouth full of boston cream, swiveled on the counter toward Hetty's voice. How the operations manager was able to sneak up on them unannounced so frequently was beyond her understanding. "Hi Hetty," she said, wiping cream off her chin and smiling guiltily.
"We are going on a field trip this morning," she said. "To tour the NCIS D.C. office." Hetty turned toward Sam and Deeks. "I suggest you two make yourselves presentable. Car leaves in thirty minutes."
Deeks let the lukewarm water rush over him, cooling his aching muscles. He was man enough to admit that a five-mile near-sprint with Sam probably wasn't the best way to ease his way back into exercise. The first two miles had been bearable, the adrenalin pushing him forward. The middle one-point-five were okay, but the last few had been killer. No wonder Sam was built like a boulder.
Shutting off the water, he dried off and stepped out of the shower. He pulled out his toothbrush and brushed his teeth quickly, not evening bothering with the floss. As he rolled on deodorant and shook out his wet hair, there was a soft knock at the bathroom door.
He hastily pulled on his jeans before opening the door, not at all surprised to see Kensi on the other side. She was dressed and ready to go, also not shocking. The woman could make herself fit to be seen faster than anyone he'd ever met (himself included).
She stood in the doorframe, holding her toothbrush in one hand and coffee in the other.
"Don't those two cancel each other out?" he asked as she set the coffee mug down on the counter and squeezed toothpaste onto her toothbrush. "You're gonna have… pepperminty coffee breath."
Kensi smirked at him, stuck the toothbrush into her mouth, and started brushing.
Deeks grabbed his shirt off a hook on the back of the bathroom door. As he turned, he noticed Kensi staring at his bruised ribcage. He was grateful that he'd been smart enough to pack button-ups (from his collection of four shirts, as Kensi pointed out), as he was unsure at this particular moment if he could raise his arms above his head sans pain. Pulling his arms through the sleeves, he left the buttons undone.
"If you squint, you can see the Mona Lisa," he said, craning his neck to look at his war wound in the mirror. Truthfully, it looked much better than even a week ago. The bruises had faded to a greenish-yellow; hardly noticeable if you didn't know they were there.
Kensi spit toothpaste into the sink and rinsed her mouth. "I hadn't seen it before," she said as she set her toothbrush down on the counter and turned to face him. She laid her hand on his side and palpated his ribs with her fingers. "Does it still hurt?"
He bit his lip to keep from cringing. Heat from her hand sent tingles up and down his spine. He cleared his throat and shook his head. "Only when I run… five miles at a sprint, apparently." He let out a short chuckle. "Next time Sam offers to let me run with him, use the duress word."
She smiled at him, her thumb still stroking his side. Her hand was warm and the motion was soothing to his aching ribcage. "What's the duress word?" she asked, taking a step forward and looking up at him. She was wearing an expression he had never seen before. Her eyes were wide, jaw relaxed; a combination that made her appear innocent, as if she wanted him to take control, push her backward and kiss her without asking permission.
He cleared his mind, not allowing that thought process to continue. If he made it easy for her every time, they would never get anywhere. "How about… no, stop, don't go with him?" Her body was so close to his now he could smell her shampoo. He wasn't sure what to do with his hands, so he lifted his right and pushed her brown hair behind her shoulder, letting his palm rest on the side of her neck.
She took another small step closer and rested her forehead against his. "That's really duress… words."
Oh God, he thought, stop, stop stop! He ran his other hand down her arm, intertwining their fingers lightly. Deeks felt heat shoot into his groin, but he forced his body to stay still. He was determined not to make the second move. Kensi ran her hand up his side smoothly, letting it rest on his chest. She nuzzled her nose against his.
His breath caught in his throat and he had to stabilize himself against the bathroom counter with the backs of his legs. The contact between their bodies felt explosive, as if every second they had ever spent in one-another's company had led up to this moment. He stayed completely still, letting her have the reigns and wondering if she was feeling as utterly out of control as he was in this moment.
Kensi let go of his hand and lifted it, grabbing a lock of wet hair and moving it out of his face. Her lips were so close now; he could feel her warm (pepperminty coffee) breath against his skin.
Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. It took every muscle in his entire body to drop his hands from her smoking-hot body and step away from her. The connection between their bodies was severed, but electricity still buzzed around them. He exhaled slowly and started buttoning his shirt.
Kensi ran a hand through her hair and leaned against the counter in a manner that did not look the least bit innocent.
"Yeah?" Deeks called, his voice breaking. He had no idea who was going to come through that door, but hoped to God it wasn't going to be Hetty. She could probably smell the sexual tension from downstairs. He realized that the operations manager had all but given him verbal permission to pursue this, but that was completely different then walking in on it.
The door opened, however, to reveal Sam, freshly showered and ready to go.
Deeks did his best to look nonchalant, as if he hadn't been two seconds away from losing his shit and having his way with his partner on the bathroom counter.
"We're leaving in five," Sam said, holding up his fingers. He looked from Deeks to Kensi and back again, waiting for a response.
Kensi recovered first. "Be right down," she said, smiling at him.
Sam left the door open and disappeared.
Deeks and Kensi stood on opposite ends of the bathroom, staring at one another, breathing hard.
"Oh my God," Kensi said after a minute, raking a hand through her hair with trembling fingers. "We can't do this."
Deeks was caught off guard. "Can't do… what're you talking about?"
She stayed silent, glancing up at the ceiling.
He took a step toward her.
"No, no, no!" she said, holding up a hand and backing up a step. "Ten feet."
"Ten feet… what? What are you even talking about?"
"We need to talk about this, and it's obviously not going to happen if we are in close proximity." She backed up another step, moving toward the door slowly, as if he was a wild animal that she was trying to escape… as if he had been the one to start touching her.
He relented, telling himself that at least Kensi was acknowledging that they needed to have a conversation about this… thing (damnit!).
"Fine," he said with a shrug, "Ten feet."
She nodded. "Ten feet."
He made to move past her, but she stopped him.
"I'm not going to stay in this bathroom until you decide you're ready to leave."
"Fine," she said, pursing her lips, "I'm going." Turning on her heel, she exited the bathroom, picked up her jacket from the bed, and left the room.
It was that moment, standing in the doorframe of their room, that Sam first realized what was happening between the two junior agents. It wasn't his years of investigative skills, however, that enabled him to see what was going on. It was the familiarity of the situation.
They hadn't leapt apart guiltily or behaved in a manner that suggested they were sleeping together, but when he opened the door, he didn't see Deeks and Kensi standing in front of him; he saw himself and Michelle years ago. Sam knew by looking at them that they had moved from 'just partners' to 'what now?' From the energy that was rolling off of them to the electricity that sizzled invisibly through the air, he gauged that the transition had happened recently.
Had he seen this coming? The short answer was no.
He had never invested much time into watching their interactions before. He wondered if G knew, but quickly dismissed the idea. Kensi and Deeks' behavior toward one another hadn't changed at all, and unless they did something stupid, Callen would probably write any abnormalities off. Sam was able to recognize their body language and expressions only because he had been through it.
He thought of a recent conversation he had with Callen, joking in nature, after Nell had found Kensi strangling her partner with her thighs on a hotel bed.
Four months prior...
They were on the way to the boatshed, Sam maneuvering easily through traffic.
"You think there's something we should be concerned about?" Callen asked, tapping his fingers on the door.
"Why're you asking me?" Sam asked. When Callen didn't respond, he turned at looked at his partner, who was staring at him with raised eyebrows. Sam rolled his eyes. "You can't stop that sort of thing, G."
"Look, I'm not suggesting that we can," he replied. "I am, however, suggesting that we stop them from doing it at work."
Sam made a right hand turn and parallel parked. "You're assuming that there's something to stop." He was skeptical that Kensi and Deeks were doing anything other than their routine flirting.
"No, I'm preparing for the worst." He slid out of the car and shut the door, waiting for Sam on the curb.
Sam grabbed the keys and followed suit. Locking his car doors, he followed his partner across the marina toward the boatshed. "What do you have in mind?" he asked, humoring Callen.
"Operation Arctic Storm."
"Arctic storm?" he said, a sarcastic ring in his voice.
"It's got a nice ring to it," Callen replied. "Like… taking a cold shower."
Sam chuckled. "Call it whatever you want 'cuz it's never gonna happen. Kensi is too smart for that."
Sam pulled open to door to the boatshed. "Well… you got me there."
Wow, had he been wrong.
The trip to the NCIS D.C. office had been relatively uneventful, save one incident that forced Kensi and Deeks to hide in the men's bathroom to escape being seen by Sarah Woodring. She'd been brought in for questioning, and although Kensi didn't much care if the two of them were identified as agents, Deeks was petrified that Hetty would find out about their unapproved undercover work.
The rest of the day had been spent watching baseball with Sam, Callen, and an uninterested Eric while the ladies were being treated to a SecNav sanctioned "spa day" prior to the Navy Ball. Deeks wondered if the trip also included their operations manager. Somehow, he couldn't envision Hetty participating in that type of pampering.
Now dressed and ready to go, they were watching the end of the Dodgers game and waiting on Nell and Kensi. Callen had broken the seal on a fifth of whiskey, and they were passing it around the room while they waited.
"Hey, this ball will be the perfect opportunity for you and Kensi to break out the tango Hetty made you learn," Sam said to Deeks, taking a pull from the bottle and handing it to him.
Deeks snorted, "It was a waltz," he corrected. "And better watch your mouth, or I'll remind Hetty that you and Callen never completed your Vietnamese Waltz lessons." He took a drink of Callen's whiskey, feeling it burn his throat on the way down and passed it to Michelle, who gave him a skeptical look.
Fifteen minutes later, Kensi came down the stairs slowly, concentrating on hanging an earring in her ear. Her long black dress had a plunging neckline, drawing attention to her toned arms and… other… assets; long dark hair pulled back into a low chignon, earrings sparkling in the light of the living room. Deeks rose from the couch with the others and watched his partner float down the stairs. As he watched her step softly onto the carpeted floor, he thought to himself that she had never looked so beautiful. Deeks loosened his tie a little and crossed the room toward her as the other agents gathered their things and headed toward the door.
"This is less than ten-feet," Kensi whispered into his ear through a smile.
He plucked her wrap out of her hands and draped it over her shoulders carefully, smiling back. He watched as she tightened the fabric around herself. Giving her shoulders a squeeze, he put his hand on the small of her back and led her toward the door. "You look..."
"Just as wonderful standing ten feet away."
She turned, making eye contact with him.
He stared back, unblinking.
"Thank you," she said.
He moved her forward, holding her elbow as she descended the porch stairs, ensuring she didn't fall.