“Deeks, it’s been a long time since you were in the desert,” Kensi reminded him.
“But, why me?” He asked, looking from one to the other of his teammates, whining ever so slightly as he searched for a way out he knew he probably wouldn’t find.
“Think about it Deeks,” Sam said with a small smile. “You’ve gone in as a photographer before and you look the part of someone who doesn’t like to follow the rules. The type of person our suspect will relate to.”
Deeks’ mind skirted over the last time he’d used the alias, Jimmy Satterlee. He was a good time guy who liked to sing and dance to the juke box in seedy bars, happy to down a beer with the best of them, but the shadow of that character was long and he looked quickly at Kensi and gently touched the back of her hand, needing to feel her warmth. Sam squeezed his shoulder, bringing him back to the present and he looked up to see a veil of skepticism in Callen’s eyes, a look he was becoming used to and one he was beginning to resent. Callen had been watching him closely ever since Granger’s last visit and he found it exceedingly irritating, tiring of the evil eye he got every time Callen looked at him. He was becoming convinced that whatever his team leader and Granger had discussed had something to do with him and the thought unnerved him.
“Mr. Deeks. Wardrobe. Now.” Hetty said as she brushed past him.
He broke eye contact with Callen and willingly followed his diminutive boss, a smile playing lightly across his face as he left the doubtful scowl of the senior agent behind and toyed with a way to get under Hetty’s skin.
“Did you play with dolls as a child, Hetty?” He asked as she began rifling through the racks of clothes. “You probably dressed them up and put them outside in dangerous terrain, yeah? Probably used a magnifying glass so the sun could burn their hair off, maybe threw them down storm drains, watching to see where they came out and then docking their pay because they ruined their outfits.”
“You’re in rather rare form this morning, Mr. Deeks,” she said absently as she held up a tan, button down shirt with multiple pockets on the chest and even on the sleeves. “Now, put this on with this khaki vest over it.”
He did as he was told, wondering just what was supposed to go in all the various sized, zippered pockets that covered the front and back of the vest.
“Do you have any old film canisters I can stuff in some of these little pockets?” He laughed as he came out to model his outfit. “I know you remember slide film.”
“Now, you’re just being cheeky,” she said, a stern look of disapproval clouding her features, before a slight smile replaced it. “I remember a lot of things, Mr. Deeks. I once bought an incredibly tiny camera in East Germany to use on a mission because I could easily hide it in my bra.”
“Too much information, Hetty,” Deeks said as his cheeks flamed and he dramatically shivered. “Way too much.”
“Come now, Mr. Deeks. Surely you can take it as well as dish it out,” she commented mildly before turning serious. “Don’t take this assignment lightly, Mr. Deeks. Corporal Pollard is our only connection to the recent thefts at Pendleton. That was sophisticated weaponry that went missing, and we need to find out who’s really behind it and whom they’re selling to. So, Mr. Deeks, you keep being a wiseass. It’s the perfect persona for your alias. Pollard will relate to your wildness. He doesn’t do very well with authority, so any acts of defiance you can throw in when Mr. Callen orders you around out there will catch his attention. Be the bad boy, Mr. Deeks. I’m sure you’ll be good at it.”
“You referring to Max Gentry, Hetty?” He asked quietly.
“Not that dark,” she answered. “More of a cheeky bastard that gets under everyone’s skin, especially your boss’ which will be Mr. Callen. He will establish his alias, Lieutenant Colonel Richard Jaeger when he gets to the assembly point for the field exercises.”
“I’ll be there under the auspices of SecNav,” Callen interjected, his solid form reflected in the mirror. “My job is to report back on field operations and your job is to provide me with the photographs to go with that report. You’re a new hire. A civilian that came highly recommended, but who rubs me the wrong way.”
“So nothing new then,” Deeks said soberly, watching for Callen’s response.
“Is there something you want to say to me, Deeks?” Callen asked, his voice tightly controlled.
“Just trying on my new surliness,” Deeks said evenly.
“Hey partner,” Sam called out. “Our chopper’s waiting.”
“Who you gonna be, Sam?” Deeks asked, relaxing slightly as Callen turned away.
“Major Samuel Webber. I’ll be Callen’s adjutant,” he said.
“The kiss ass kind?” Deeks cracked.
“No. The kick butt kind,” Sam said, pointing a finger at him. “So watch your mouth Jimmy.”
“Yessir,” Deeks grinned as he saluted.
“You’re pushing buttons a little early, aren’t you Mr. Deeks?” Hetty questioned as she handed him a worn baseball cap to try on.
He pulled the faded red ball cap down over his eyes, deciding to ignore her question, thankful she didn’t push him for an answer, only sending him a pointed look as she headed back to her office.
“You okay?” Kensi asked as she sidled up next to him, intentionally leaning into him as he adjusted his new outfit.
“Why do you ask?” He said too quickly, still irritated by Callen’s continued scrutiny.
“Because you’re being defensive,” she answered. “And because you and Callen seem a little at odds lately.”
“That’s one way to put it,” he said.
“Want to talk about it?” She stepped in front of him and undid one of the buttons on his new shirt, making him smile.
“You have become quite talkative since you’ve been back, Fern,” he said as he looked down at her fingers as they lightly touched his bare chest. “And very touchy, feely.
“I thought you liked touchy, feely,” She said very softly with a seductive smile. “I can stop if you’d like.”
“Mr. Deeks?” Hetty’s voice ended their intimate tête-à-tête and they quickly backed away from each other.
Hetty stood waiting for him, a silver key dangling from her finger and a small inscrutable smile on her face. She said nothing as she waved for him to follow her out the front door of the mission, the door closing behind her before he could reach it.
“She’s faster than she looks,” Deeks whispered before pushing open the door.
“I’m sure this bike is as well, Mr. Deeks,” Hetty said, holding a black helmet under one arm.
His mouth literally dropped open as he walked out to discover the motorcycle she had made him give up not long ago. He stumbled over a few words, but lost them in a wide smile, silencing whatever he was going to say as he ran his hand over the fuel tank and down onto the black seat.
“You kept her,” he said softly.
“Thought she might come in handy for a mission at some point,” Hetty said, handing him the key. “Fits Jimmy’s bad boy image, don’t you think?”
“I could kiss you right now, Hetty,” he said, his eyes never leaving the motorcycle.
“I don’t think you quite have that much nerve, Mr. Deeks,” patting his arm gently before turning to go back inside. “Don’t forget your backpack. Additional wardrobe is in it as well as the latest camera equipment.”
“Don’t get too wild on the trip down,” Kensi said, laying her hand lightly on his back.
“Still worried about me, partner?” He turned to face her, taking her arms and pulling her to him.
“Just don’t want to lose you,” she said, running her hand along his cheek and up into his hair.
“When will I see you?”
“You’ll be surprised when you do,” she laughed.
“Really? Are you going to be one of those tawdry camp followers with a tight, low cut tee shirt and a little skirt that barely covers your ass?” Deeks raised his eyebrows with a growing smile, also preparing himself to be punched and was surprised when he wasn’t.
“Is that one of your fantasies, bad boy?” She twisted her loose hair up on top of her head seductively as she toyed once again with the buttons on his shirt.
“It’s on the list,” Deeks swallowed hard as she pushed against him, his eyes never leaving her pouty lips as she moved against him.
“So, how long is this list?” Her voice was low, almost a purr.
“Getting longer by the minute,” he said.
“Maybe I’ll let you see my list when this op is over,” she whispered as she turned back toward the door to the Mission, her hips swaying as she entered, leaving him wetting his lips in anticipation and then biting his bottom lip in frustration.
He slowly put on his helmet as his mind wandered, shouldering the backpack before swinging his leg over the bike and sitting quietly for a few minutes, smiling softly to himself as he revved the engine and felt the vibration between his legs. Slipping on his dark glasses, he rode the bike out of the courtyard and began to settle into his bad boy alias, searching back through his memories of his wild days running with Ray and a few of the more unsavory characters in his neighborhood. He opened the throttle and pushed the bike faster as he wove his way through traffic toward the freeway, a crooked wiseass grin on his face.
“This is gonna be fun,” he yelled into the wind.
. . . . .
to be continued…