Since You've Been Gone.

By Gina Mae Callen

Thriller / Drama

Chapter 1

Deeks stretched and woke up as his curtains were opened.

“Nell?!” he groaned as his partner placed a bag with a coffee and a doughnut on his nightstand.

“Marty?!” She smiled back, “It’s a beautiful day, I’ve been up for hours, I cleaned my apartment, shopped, fed your dog and walked him.” She informed him with a smile.

“Traitor.” He shot at Monty, who sat by Nell’s feet wagging his tail.

Nell smiled, “Deeks… I know you wanted to spend today alone… but…”

“No.” Deeks pulled the duvet over his head, “I don’t want to think about it.”

“Callen is spending the day with Sam; it’s not bad that you’d remember today, but you shouldn’t be alone.”

Deeks pulled the duvet down and sat up.

“I don’t want to remember this Nell, I don’t want to go back there,” He fought to keep the emotion from his voice but his eyes teared up. “I can’t…”

Nell took a chair from the corner of his room and put it next to the bed.

“You can’t stay here Deeks… you need to get out see some sun, maybe surf?”

“Why can’t I just stay here? Remember the day it all went wrong… remember what he did to me and to Sam.” Deeks groused.

“Because then you let Sidarov win.” Nell said, looking Deeks right in the eye, “And what did your mother teach you?”

“Never let them win,” Deeks said flatly. “Low blow Jones.” He said although his mouth upturned slightly in a smile.

“So surf?” she asked.

Deeks shook his head, “Not today, been thinking of visiting my mom again, do you wanna come?” he asked. “You know she loves you.”

Over the year, Nell has trusted Deeks and had been let in on his secrets and she had let him in on hers, they were true partners.

Nell stood up and threw a towel at Deeks, “Ok Mr.… Up and at ’em, I’ll take Monty out again, you’d better be washed and dressed by the time I get back. I’d hate to have to go into your bathroom to get you,” she grinned, knowing as he did that it was an empty threat.

She left and Deeks got out of bed and headed for the shower.

He got as far as the bathroom mirror and stopped, staring intently at the spot where exactly a year ago, he was bleeding out of his mouth and he thought he was going to die.

He heard her voice again as clear as day.

“I have to leave you, you have to stay here.” She had ordered.

“No.” he moaned, begging her with his eyes to stay, to release him and back him up like a partner should.

He watched disbelievingly as she walked out leaving him there.

He sank to his knees in the bathroom and sobbed.

“You out yet?” Nell called as she let herself and Monty back into the house.

Deeks opened the bedroom door and walked out into his living room

“What time did you get up?” he asked, looking around him at his immaculate living room.

“Er….” Nell grinned, “I still have your trash if you want me to put it back?” she offered picking up the bag.

“Don’t you dare?” Deeks laughed, pulling the bag from her hand. “I’ll take that,” he walked to the end of his balcony and tossed the trash which landed expertly in the dumpster.

He walked back into the apartment with his arms spread wide. “All done!” he smiled.

“So are we going?” Nell asked.

Deeks grinned, “Hold on I’ll check she’s home,” He picked up his cell phone, “Mom… it’s Martin.” He said as she picked up.

Deeks waited as his mother said hello.

“Can we come over and see you, yeah… We, I’m bringing Nell and Monty.” He smiled as she agreed, “Ok are you at the office?” he asked. “Ok then bye mom.”

He closed the phone and turned to Nell, “Mom’s at the downtown office, but she said swing on by we can join her for lunch.”

Nell smiled and grabbed Monty’s leash.

The law offices of Deeks, Smith and Harran were on the corner of a rundown low rent block. Shelly Deeks’ office was on the third floor of the building and Deeks and Nell climbed the stairs with Monty following him.

Monty shot off as Deeks opened the door to the waiting room; Deeks looked to Nell worried as a shriek came from inside the office.

As he rounded the corner, he saw two small children squealing in delight as they tickled Monty, “Look Mommy a doggie!” they laughed.

The mother looked up and jumped as she saw a woman and a man enter, and then she saw who it was. “You’re Martin Deeks aren’t you?” she asked with a slightly nervous smile.

Deeks grinned “In the flesh,” he admitted.

“I’m Mary-Lou Dolton, your mother’s working on my case, and she said you’d been helping her, I saw your picture on her desk.”

Nell smiled at Deeks as he looked embarrassed, “it’s ok, I like to help, this is my partner, Nell Jones, she’s been helping too, on our off hours,”

“I really appreciate it, we were here to thank your mother and you both too, he got thirty years this morning, he’ll never hurt me or my children again, and I wanted to offer your mother some money, to help.”

Shelly walked out of her office, “Now Mary-Lou I told you we do pro-bono work, I am paid by the state,” she smiled joining them.

“But your son and Miss Jones?” Mary-Lou said.

“We were happy to help.” Nell said quickly as Deeks moved away, keeping his distance, knowing that the woman would still be jumpy with a man so close.

She hugged Shelly and Nell, “Thank you all so much.” She said, “I have to take my children home now, we are going to move across the state and make a new start, I have so much packing to do. Emily, Dillon, come along.”

She gave the children a tug as they patted the dog goodbye and left.

“It was a nice thing you two did for her.” Shelly said.

“Mom, really… it’s not a problem, helping people like Mary-Lou and her family rid themselves of an abuser like Anton Dalton and knowing that they are getting a fresh start is worth it.” Marty said.

Shelly grabbed her purse and locked up her office.

“So lunch?” she offered.

Sitting at the table with their lunch, Shelly looked at her son.

He was quiet and slightly moody.

“It’s ok son,” she said, “I can see how hard it is for you today, it’s been a year,”

“You didn’t come to the hospital mom; you didn’t see how bad it was, not at first.” Deeks said sadly.

Nell put her hand on his arm to comfort him.

“I was in Seattle speaking at a women’s refuge conference, I did head back as soon as I could.” She said, knowing he was spiraling again.

Nell saw the start of Deeks’ PTSD start up, “Deeks Monty looks tired, we’d better get him back.” She said. “Thank you for lunch, Ms Deeks.”

“No problem Nell, maybe we’ll get together next week.” She said brightly as Deeks sat there.

‘Call me later’ she mouthed to her. Nell nodded and helped Deeks up.

He walked automatically to the car and stood on the passenger side. Since Kensi had gone to Afghanistan Deeks had driven and Nell had ridden shotgun. But that was not what Deeks needed today, Nell moved and Deeks grabbed her arm.

“No, don’t leave me here!” he said

Nell had done this a few times before, “Sit here Deeks, I’m not going anywhere.”

Deeks sat in the car and Nell, after adjusting the seat drove them all home.

She helped him in the apartment and sat him on the sofa.

“Nell?” Deeks said not sure where he was and really hoping he wasn’t at work.

Nell sat beside him, “It’s ok Marty, and you’re home and safe.”

Deeks looked at her.

Over the year, she had risked her life for him. She had never ridiculed him or put him down in front of the others.

He had fallen in love with Kensi, more he had fallen in love with the idea of being in love with Kensi, he had done so mostly because she had allowed it, and she had dangled him and his emotions, putting him down when it suited her. She had been in a subtle way his abuser, allowing him to love her when she deemed it needed and when not he was treated as her fool. For him her leaving after he’d gotten over the initial shock had been a God send.

Slowly, over the past year he had got his life back together.

Slowly, he had found his own worth and self esteem.

Slowly, he had noticed two things.

One. He wasn’t in love with Kensi, only the idea of him being in love with her. Like it was expected of him, the same way it had been expected for him to fall for his last partner, Jess Traynor.

And Two… He did love this woman in front of him, the woman who treated him like a person and never belittled him or dropped him for a better offer.

He loved Nell!

Nell looked at him, “Marty? Marty, come on partner, come back to me… I’m here I’m not going anywhere until you say it’s ok for me too….”Her last words were cut off as he leant over and kissed her.

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