“Yep … I had a little run-in with one of the Warrant Officers in my platoon and this is where I ended up.”
Deeks continued to draw out more of the Marine’s bad boy side. “What’d you do? It couldn’t have been that bad.”
Pollard let out a sigh. “My buddies and I were out riding around town when someone suggested we climb out onto the hood of the car and do a little impromptu hood-surfing.”
Deeks couldn’t help but laugh at that. “Really?”
“Really. Everything was great until we heard screeching brakes and some idiot yelling his head off at us.”
“Ah … the Warrant Officer.”
Pollard nodded. “Give that man a cigar. He and his wife were coming back from dinner when he saw us.”
“What’d he do to the others?”
“Not a damn thing. Said I was the senior man in the car and I should have stopped it.”
Deeks began to see the reason for the man’s animosity. “Ouch.”
“Yeah … the others got a stern talking to and I got thirty days barracks restriction and since they didn’t want me sitting around getting into any more trouble they put me on escort and driver duty.”
After that, Deeks didn’t know what to say and Pollard just looked pissed. Falling back into his cover, the detective went with the common ground that had already been established. “Does that mean you surf for real or do you just ride on cars?”
Pollard’s expression faltered for a moment before he smiled broadly. “No. I actually surf but I can’t go until I get done with this stupid gig.”
“Yeah, the swells were awesome this morning.”
“Wow … a biker and a surfer. Didn’t think we’d have so much in common, you being a civilian and all. No offense.”
Deeks was pleased that parts of his cover were actually part of who he really was. Getting close to Pollard was proving easier than he had first thought. “None taken. We all do what we are meant to do.”
“Yeah, but if I’d known everyone with more on their collar than me was always going to make my life miserable, I’d have become a plumber.”
“So, you’re not a career Marine?”
Pollard almost spit the words out. “Not likely.”
“What else would you do?”
Deeks saw a carefully crafted mask slip in place over the young man’s face.
“I’ve some things going on the side, and once they pay off, I won’t need the Marines anymore.”
The mask told Deeks to tread carefully or there would be no more free information. Pollard was no fool and if he bolted, their only source could disappear. He wanted to turn the conversation back to surfing or even motorcycles but the road ahead opened up into a long valley with a large airfield stretched out before them. Off to the left, several ranks of combat ready Marines waited for the transports to arrive.
Pollard drove the hummer along the graveled road to where several other vehicles were parked. It didn’t take long for Deeks to spot Callen and Sam who were standing beside a large black Ford Expedition. They were each dressed in the Marine Corps’ digital woodland camouflaged utility uniform and Callen had a pair of binoculars draped around his neck.
“Looks like your Colonel is waiting.”
Deeks didn’t really have to fake his apprehension at any interaction he would have with the senior field agent who was standing ramrod straight, playing a Marine Colonel perfectly. “Oh great.”
Pollard looked over briefly as he maneuvered between the barricades that designated the observation area. “Do I detect some tension?”
“More like deep animosity, and I’m stuck working for him for the foreseeable future.”
“Let me guess … he doesn’t like the hair?”
Deeks chuckled at how the Marine was picking up on things that were unsaid. Even though Sam had made amends to him for the comments about “character” and “hair”, something was hindering the relationship he had once shared with Callen. There was a shadow that appeared whenever Callen spoke to him and Deeks was wanting to get to the bottom of it before they reached the point of no return and there was damage to their working relationship and maybe even to their friendship.
“Let’s just say we’ve had our disagreements. He tends to take the ‘gung-ho’ thing to new levels and he forgets I’m not one of his Marines that jump when he yells.”
“I know what you mean bro. They tend to be that way sometimes. I wonder … hold the phone, what do we have here.” Pollard brought the vehicle to an abrupt stop.
Deeks caught himself before his head slapped into the front window and looked over to see what the Marine was talking about. He followed the man’s gaze until he saw what, or more accurately, who had seized Pollard’s attention. She walked around from the driver’s side of the Expedition and Deeks would have recognized her from a mile away. His breath caught in his chest and he heard Pollard’s do the same as the woman dressed in Marine utilities came to a stop beside the big Marine Major standing a few steps behind Callen.
The Marine camouflage uniform didn’t really flatter the female form, it wasn’t designed to, but whoever had sewn the top blouse and the cargo pants that Kensi was wearing, had gotten them perfect. The dark pixel pattern set off her dark skin and her hair was tied up into a tight bun just beneath her cover. Deeks felt his chest constrict at the way she seemed made to wear the uniform, like she was born to it and he felt a little pride that his girl could pull off the Marine image without much effort. She was beautiful as much as she was deadly. She couldn’t be any more perfect if she tried.
The detective was pulled from his thoughts as Pollard let out a long whistle. “Where did she come from? She must be the new driver. I haven’t seen her around anywhere.”
Deeks tried to remember that he was undercover, just like Kensi, Sam, and Callen, but the way Pollard was ogling his partner was getting hard to bear. He took a quick breath and focused on being Jimmy Satterlee, a bad boy, a man who treated women as possessions to be used and then cast aside. When he spoke, the words hurt. “Yeah. If they used her for a recruitment video, the Marines would never run out of ‘A Few Good Men’”.
“Put her in a camouflaged bikini … show her crawling around on the beach … ”
Deeks opened his door and climbed out of the vehicle, he swallowed his irritability as Pollard’s words were drowned out by a squadron of approaching CH-53 heavy-lift helicopters that were swinging down low over the hilltops. Higher up, there was a set of tilt-rotor V-22 Ospreys waiting their turn for clearance to approach the runway.
The detective hurried over to where his teammates were waiting, his boot crunching on the gravel. Just before he reached them, Callen spun quickly and turned a hard glare on him.
“Where the hell have you been?! I need photos of the Air Assault Course training for my report and my photographer takes his sweet-ass time getting here!”
Deeks wanted to think that Callen, as Lt. Colonel Jaeger, was playing his part perfectly, but his next statement seemed a little too close to reality. “You’re sloppy Satterlee. You better impress me or this will be the last government contract you ever get.”
Kensi had her arms folded behind her back in a modified parade-rest and Deeks couldn’t see her hands twist together into gnarled fists as her anger threatened to overspill. Sam remained poised and expressionless but inside he felt the anger that his partner was spewing toward the young cop from LAPD.
Hiding behind his alias like it was a warm blanket, Deeks buried his frustration with Callen under Satterlee’s need to buck any person in a position of authority. “Let’s make a deal Colonel. I won’t tell you how to do your job and you don’t tell me how to do mine … okay?”
Callen felt the heat start at his neck and rise to his ears, maintaining his cover at that very moment took all the energy he could muster. “Just take the pictures, and don’t screw them up like the last photographer did.”
“The other guy was seventy-two years old and had a lazy eye. Don’t fuss at me because you guys go for the lowest bidding contractor all the time.”
Kensi lowered her head, hiding her soft smile, even Sam took the detective’s snarky comment in stride. Callen had turned away, like this was something he couldn’t be bothered with. “Just don’t hand me any excuses Satterlee. You know what they’re like, and everyone’s got one.”
“And some people are one.” Deeks said it loud enough for all of them to hear.
He was standing his ground, even when he knew he was pushing the limits of what Satterlee would do, hoping that the others believed it too. Callen paused and for a moment Kensi feared that the alias was being surpassed by the thing inside Callen that was eating away at his relationship with Deeks. With a sharp shrug, the senior agent moved away from the vehicles and the helicopters were making their final approach.
Deeks watched as Sam sent him a hopefully fake death-glare before he fell into step right behind Callen’s retreating form. Tugging on the straps of the camera hanging from his neck, the detective turned to find that Pollard had eased up beside Kensi and was standing way too close to his partner.
As he stepped toward them, Deeks caught what Pollard was saying.
” … well, if you’re new to the area, maybe I could give you the Jessie Pollard tour. I’m sure you’d like it.”
Kensi rotated her head slowly and gave the young man a quick once over before returning her gaze straight ahead, right at Deeks. “No thanks Marine. Not interested.”
“Aw come on, Sergeant … ” He glanced down at the name tag over her left breast, neither Deeks or Kensi appreciated how long he took to read it. “Booker? And what is your first name?”
Kensi let out an exasperated sigh, hoping to convey that the corporal was wasting his time. “Sergeant, and that’s all you need to know.”
Deeks chuckled at her statement. She was projecting the perfect disinterested female, too bad Pollard wasn’t catching on. “Really? Come on … there’s no reason we can’t be friends.”
Kensi didn’t miss a beat. “I can give you five good reasons.” She held her hand up in front of Pollard’s face, her fingers spread. “One … two … three … four … five.” As she counted, she curled her fingers in and soon her hand was a tight fist, which she waved within inches of the young Marine’s face.
“Geez. Take a chill … no need to get hostile.” Pollard held his hands up in mock surrender and took a few steps backward, out of the reach of Kensi’s fists.
Deeks was trying hard not to laugh at the young man’s misfortune but the way the man’s eyes continued to wander over Kensi’s body, he knew it was time to get out of there before he punched him right in the mouth. “Come on Jessie. I need you to drive me over to that hilltop. The Colonel wants some good shots and this angle is all wrong if I want to catch the Marines as they board the aircraft. So, tuck your tongue back into your mouth and let’s go.”
Pollard huffed in disappointment, but he did begin to walk back toward the hummer. With his eyes fixed somewhere lower than her neck, he tried once more. “Duty calls Sergeant Booker. Maybe we’ll bump into each other again.”
“I’ll have to get my shots first.” Her voice was low and cold, hoping that he wouldn’t misinterpret anything she was saying. She turned and watched Deeks walk right past her and it took everything she had not to reach out and touch him.
His soft words caught her off-guard. “Sorry about that, he’s not housebroken yet.”
Whether it was Kensi Blye or Sergeant Booker that laughed, Deeks didn’t know or really care. It was still music to his ears. He looked over his shoulder and the brightness of her smile almost made him stumble. Luckily, he made it all the way to the hummer before she called out to him.
“Try not to let that idiot get you into too much trouble Satterlee.”
Deeks opened the door but he turned to look back at her before he climbed in. “Thanks, I will … and it’s Jimmy.”
Kensi nodded her head and gave him a smile that made Pollard turn absolutely green.
“You’re welcome Jimmy … and it’s Kacey.”
You can find Jericho Steele’s fanfics on: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/4474129/JerichoSteele