Indisposed

Seeing Double

“Kens, come on. Time for bed.”

Deeks jostled Kensi as she slumped against him. Apparently, revealing her deep-seated fear had taken a lot out of Kensi. She’d been asleep for some time. This left Deeks to watch mindless TV by himself and make comments to Monty who either didn’t hear him or didn’t care.

“Thought I was there,” she mumbled.

“No, that would be my shoulder.”

“Mmm. Nice shoulder.” She shifted and snuggled closer to Deeks.

A couple minutes passed. “Okay, I’m going to bed and you can stay here,” said Deeks.

“Don’t even think about leaving me out here,” she muttered, but still did not open her eyes.

There was a light knock at the front door. “Marty, it’s Pauline.”

Deeks eased Kensi off him and stood. “I’m sure I paid my rent on time,” he said as he shuffled to the door.

“Sorry to bother you so late. This was in my mailbox.” She handed him an official-looking envelope. “I think it’s a jury summons. I had to go last month.”

Deeks tore it open. “You’re right. Jury duty, starting Monday.”

From the couch, Kensi mumbled and turned on her other side.

“Oh, I didn’t know your girlfriend was here,” whispered Pauline. “She’s not sick, is she?”

Deeks glanced at Kensi and grinned. “No, she’s just tired. She’ll be her usual kick, uh, rambunctious self tomorrow.”

Pauline sighed in relief. “Good. I know how fond you are of her.”

Deeks looked at Kensi again. “I am.” He turned back to Pauline. “Hey, thanks for taking Monty out this evening.”

“No problem. He’s such a good dog.”

Pauline left and Deeks turned off the TV. Kensi showed no signs of moving so he unfurled the afghan from the back of the couch and dropped it on her.

“Nighty-night,” he said.

Kensi opened one eye. “What . . .what are you doing?”

“Going to bed,” he smirked. “Looks like you’re pretty comfy here.”

Kensi flung the afghan back and sat up. “Ugh.” She staggered to her feet and headed for the bedroom.

Deeks laughed and turned off the light. “Guess that means you’re staying.”

“Of course I’m staying. Unless you’re expecting someone else to share your bed tonight,” she challenged.

Deeks threw up his hands. “Not even going there, Fern.”

The Next Day

“Wow, you guys really are identical,” said Eric. He found it hard to believe what he was seeing on the screen. Hetty and her sister Marguerite, aka “Migs,” stared back at him. Same hairstyle, but different glasses. Hetty had on a blue suit and Migs had on a green one. Hetty always wore a brooch on the left side of her jacket while Migs wore a slightly different one on her right side.

“Of course, Mr. Beale. We’re one ovum that split,” said Migs. “But I’m the better-looking twin,” she laughed. “When Hetty said she was going to check in with you, I said I’d like to meet you. I feel like I know you already.”

“Really?” said Eric. He didn’t know whether to be pleased or terrified.

“Do you mind, Migs?” inquired Hetty.

“Not at all. Nice to meet you, Mr. Beale.”

“Same here.” I suppose.

Hetty pushed Migs out of view. “Now, how are things in Ops?”

“Good. It’s quiet at the moment.”

“Anything noteworthy to report?”

“Uh, no. Unless . . .”

“Go on.”

“Well, unless you count the incident yesterday with Kensi and Deeks that I sort of had a part in. But it was personal, not work-related. Kensi freaked and I’m surprised she didn’t strangle Deeks.”

Why am I babbling? Hetty doesn’t really need to know that.

“Personal. I see. And Ms. Jones? I trust she’s well.”

A brief frown crossed Eric’s face. “Fine. She left maybe five minutes ago. I was just finishing up a malware scan.”

Hetty nodded. “Very good, Mr. Beale. I knew you would keep on top of things.”

“When will you be back, Hetty?” asked Eric.

“Soon. Very soon.”

Migs nudged Hetty to the side. “Remember, Mr. Beale: If you snooze, you lose.”

The screen went black and the sisters disappeared. Eric looked around Ops. Not for the first time, he wondered if there were concealed audio devices up there. Did they somehow know about his awkward conversation earlier with Nell?

He’d hinted about the two of them going for sushi at the mall, but Nell said she had “other plans.”

What does that mean? wondered Eric. Does she have a date or is she cleaning out her refrigerator?

He sat there staring into space while he contemplated the situation. How would Deeks have handled it? He would probably have said, “Kensi: You, me, sushi.” Kensi would argue and punch him, but relent in the end.

Yeah, I was snoozing tonight and I lost. What is wrong with me?

The computer beeped, pulling Eric out of his trance. The scan was complete. He signed off and prepared to leave. His phone suddenly chirped with a text.

Maybe it’s Nell saying she changed her mind!

He read the text and sighed. It was only the computer store saying his new laptop case had arrived.

Whatever. Might as well go get it.

Eric was strolling down the mall when he stopped dead in his tracks. His mouth went dry when he saw Nell and some guy coming out of the computer store. They were talking and the guy had a bag. Eric ducked inside another store to see which way they went.

Fortunately, they went in the opposite direction, toward the food court. While they were ordering at the taco counter, Eric slipped into the computer store to get his case.

At the cash register, the clerk, who appeared to be about 15 years old, said, “Sir, your credit card is upside down.”

“What? Oh, sorry.”

Eric was so preoccupied by seeing Nell that he didn’t realize he was swiping his card the wrong way.

The youthful clerk asked, “Sir, are you okay?”

“What? Yeah. Actually, no. My . . . my goldfish died today.”

If Eric thought that would silence the kid, he was wrong. “Hey, sorry to hear that, man. My boa constrictor died two weeks ago. It’s rough to lose a pet.”

Eric gave him a look. “Your boa . . . wow.” He grabbed the receipt and left before the conversation got any weirder.

Next door was a men’s clothing store. Eric slipped in and pretended to shop for shirts while keeping an eye on Nell and her date. I should be the one sitting there with her.

It didn’t take long to eat tacos and now Nell and her mystery man were preparing to leave. The guy leaned down and kissed Nell on the cheek before walking away. Nell smiled and waved as he sauntered off.

She scanned the food court and made a beeline for the ice cream shop. Eric was too rattled by what he’d seen to try to talk to her so he headed for the exit. Suddenly, Nell remembered she’d left her sweater at the table and went to retrieve it.

“Eric! Eric!”

Busted. Eric slowly turned. “Nell. What are you doing here?”

“My friend Randall wanted help picking out a new tablet for his boyfriend. His birthday’s next week. Then we had a bite to eat.”

“Really? New tablet? What did you recommend?”

Woo-hoo! Randall has a boyfriend!

They happily fell into computer-speak and moved to a nearby table so Eric could show her his laptop case.

“Hey, I’m really craving some ice cream,” said Eric after they’d debated the pros and cons of various tablets and laptops.

Nell gasped in excitement. “Me, too! I’ve been thinking about it all day.”

“Well, sit tight and I’ll go get us some,” said Eric with a big smile.

“Awesome!”

I didn’t lose after all, thought Eric.


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