Deeks abruptly threw his long leg over the seat of the bike and wandered over to the metal railing, away from Kensi. He was shaking his head and kicking at the pebbles along the path. For just once he would like to have a quiet moment with Kensi. Just once. He could hear her giving one-word answers to their team leader before ending the call in a huff.
“Let me guess,” Deeks spoke first as he looked out over the water. “He’s pissed off about something new I did. What is it this time? I’m not working fast enough for him? We haven’t apprehended the suspects yet? I’m parting my hair on the wrong side? What!?” he cried out and pounded his fist on top of the railing.
“Apparently, Eric had been trying to call us when we were in the bar,” she kicked at the sand around her feet. “Callen thinks we’ve been screwing around. His words not mine. And apparently we’re not paying enough attention to the mission.”
“Is he crazy!?” Deeks bellowed; his outburst pierced the silence around them.
“I tried to tell him he was wrong, but I couldn’t get a word in edgewise,” she murmured. “He’s been so unreasonable lately… actually ever since I returned from Afghanistan.” Her eyebrows knitted together as she seriously weighed her last statement.
A steely silence hung between them. The mission to rescue Kensi had been the one factor that they hadn’t considered. Callen’s attitude towards Deeks had definitely turned hostile upon their return from Afghanistan but Deeks didn’t think too much about it. He was used to being the team’s punching bag. His unconventional methods and beliefs made him the brunt of their jokes but he usually took it in all in stride. Like the big brothers he never had, Callen and Sam could be a pain in the ass at times but he never took it personally until now.
“You’re right. He’s been riding me pretty hard since we got back. I obviously did something wrong over there that Callen’s not willing to overlook.”
“What could it possibly be?” Kensi disagreed. “The mission was a success, thanks to you…or I wouldn’t be here right now!”
Deeks shook his head in bewilderment. If they were ever going to work together as a team again, they were going to have to get to the bottom of Callen’s disapproval of Deeks.
“Come on, we better get back,” Kensi said. “He wants us at the base tomorrow morning for a briefing at 0900.”
Deeks turned to look once more over the turning waters. The wind had kicked up a notch, the white tips swirling on top of the surf spraying heavy droplets at their feet. It seemed the ocean wasn’t too pleased with him tonight either. He was happy to remove himself from its presence. No doubt he would have enough aggravation to deal with in the morning.
The smell of burnt coffee filled the halls of the old administration building in Camp Pendleton. Callen tugged at his khaki shirt collar, still not use to the stiffness of the prescribed service uniform he was wearing. He wasn’t sure where to position himself as he paced back and forth in the pristine conference room waiting for Deeks and Kensi to arrive. Sam began to tap his fingers nervously on top of a long wooden desk mainly annoyed with his partner’s temperament or lack thereof. He noticed Callen had been wound tighter than a drum these past few weeks and except for Hetty, Sam could read the man better than anyone else. He knew when Callen had an itch he couldn’t scratch.
“G, will you relax?” Sam pleaded. “Kensi and Deeks will be here, it’s not even time yet.”
Callen grunted in response.
“And I’d suggest you wait to hear what happened last night before jumping all over them,” Sam reminded his partner.
Callen didn’t respond. The lines on his face were cut deeper than usual reflecting the tenseness he felt inside. The team leader was definitely angry with his junior agents but it was the intel they received last night that filled Callen with even more trepidation. Officials discovered part of the stolen weaponry the night before in an old warehouse just outside of San Diego. Although much of the inventory was still missing it was the other items they found that had law enforcement officials in a panic. Hidden next to the military weapons, in a dark corner of the warehouse were enough ingredients to make a homemade bomb that would rival Oklahoma City and level a city block three times over. It put a whole new spin on the motive behind the theft, turning it into a possible homegrown terrorist attack instead. Their mission had just ratcheted up a notch, and they had little time to spare to prevent a catastrophe of this magnitude.
The door opened slowly and Kensi slipped inside without a sound. She held her soft green cap in one hand and tugged at the crewneck sweater of her uniform with the other. The tension in the room was palpable and not even a smile from Sam lightened her arrival.
“Where’s your partner?” Callen growled.
“He’ll be here, he had to wait for Pollard to pick him up at the motel,” Kensi was annoyed that Callen’s disposition hadn’t lightened one iota after last night’s call. He was still hankering for a fight. Deeks better be wearing his sparring gloves, she prayed, because this was going to get ugly.
“Where were you two, after you left the bar last night?” Callen continued his interrogation. Kensi wasn’t use to being grilled like one of their boathouse suspects and took a deep breath before she spoke.
“He dropped me off at my room and told me he was going to call Eric back…”
“What were you and Deeks thinking?” Callen yelled, cutting her off. Kensi began to stammer, but she didn’t have time to answer his questions as the conference room door swung open and Deeks sauntered in holding a cup of coffee.
“Jimmy Satterlee, photographer extraordinaire, reporting for duty, SIR!” Deeks held up his coffee in salute. Sam suppressed a grin by quickly brushing his hand over his mouth.
“Good of you to show up, Deeks,” Callen’s words were harsh with a hint of sarcasm but Deeks wasn’t ready to take the bait. He refused to be intimidated by Callen’s behavior.
“It’s not even 0900 yet. Lighten up, Colonel!” He slid his camera case across the tabletop and pulled out one of the swivel chairs next to Sam. If Callen was itching for a fight, Deeks would give him one without Hetty acting as referee. He knew his casual indifference would eventually take Callen over the edge.
“I don’t know what kind of op you think we’re running Deeks, but Kensi had no business being there with you last night. You were supposed to be conducting your own sting on Pollard and his gang…alone!”
“Hold on, Callen!” Kensi cried. “I already told you earlier why I had to be there…”
Deeks held his hand out and cut her off. He rose from the table and stood face to face with Callen. His next words were slow but commanding.
“If you don’t trust me or the decisions I make undercover, then you can send me packing back to the LAPD.” Deeks’ resolve didn’t waiver. “You know as well as I do, Kensi is more than capable of handling herself out there.” Deeks took a quick breath before continuing. “What I really want to know Callen, is what your problem is? You’ve been riding my ass ever since we returned from Afghanistan. If you don’t want me as a member of this team, just say the word!” Deeks couldn’t resist moving closer into Callen’s space.
“Shut up, Deeks. You’re not going anywhere,” Sam snapped and positioned himself squarely between the two men.
“I don’t think this is the time or place for this conversation, do you?” Sam addressed Callen, trying to prevent a confrontation that both men would regret later. “We have to turn our attention to the mission and you two can resolve whatever issues you have later,” Sam kept his voice calm but firm. “This situation is critical and we need a plan people!”
Deeks backed away first, careful not to make eye contact with Kensi. He didn’t want her to feel responsible for his outburst. He walked slowly to the far corner of the room and leaned up against the back wall. His heart was beating erratically and he was angry that he let his emotions replace any rational thoughts he may have possessed before he entered the room.
“All right then, so what’s the plan?” Callen pursed his lips and crossed his arms over his chest. Kensi stepped forward to stand next to Callen and Sam.
“We already know having listened in on Pollard’s phone call that’s he’s trying to make another weapons deal,” Kensi recounted the conversation they heard outside the bar. “Looks like they don’t have enough fire power for whatever it is they’re planning on domestic or foreign soil.”
“Why don’t I let it slip that I had another argument with Jaeger because he was pushing me to finish the job sooner than planned?” Deeks looked up to gauge Callen’s response.
“You can tell Pollard it probably has to do with a new cache of high grade weapons coming to Pendleton that you overheard Jaeger talking about yesterday,” Kensi added.
“Right, then I’ll complain about how I’ve had enough of this shitty job but can’t quit since I’m up to my eyeballs in debt and need the money.”
Sam nodded in agreement. “If you work it right, he may decide to bring you in on the deal and use you as an informant. It might just work.”
“Why should he trust you, Deeks?” Callen demanded.
“Despite your limited opinion of me, Callen, I’m a damn good undercover agent. But, hey! If you have a better plan, I’m all ears,” Deeks challenged his opponent, imitating his stance. Neither one was willing to back down.
Callen looked Deeks straight in the eyes and didn’t blink. He knew the Detective’s plan had merit. Besides, his disapproval had nothing to do with Deeks’ abilities or undercover skills. His objections went deeper.
“Just make sure you can pull this plan off. I don’t want you jeopardizing the mission again, Deeks!” Callen opened the door and stormed out.
“What the…?” Deeks watched Callen leave, shaking his head. “Seriously? What is his problem?” He held open his hands and turned to look at Sam.
“Hang in there Deeks,” Sam sighed. “There’s usually a method to his madness, but I’ll be damned if I know what it is this time,” Sam shook his head. “Good luck with Pollard. Come on, Kens.” Sam said and left the room.
Kensi lingered behind.
“I’m sorry, Deeks. I feel this all has something to do with me,” Kensi said and reached out for his hand. “If it makes you feel any better, I have a very high opinion of you.” Kensi tipped her head and gave Deeks a dazzling smile. “You do many things quite well.” Kensi winked.
“I do, huh?” Deeks threw his head back and laughed as he stuffed his hands in his back pockets. “Maybe you can tell that to Callen?”
“Well, maybe not that thing…” Kensi giggled and walked out leaving Deeks alone in the room.
Deeks smiled at Kensi’s innuendo and picked up his camera case to leave. The grin slowly fell from his face as a strange feeling gripped the inside of his stomach. Callen’s accusations were unsettling. Everyone on the team knew he would never jeopardize the mission, including Callen. Deeks rarely had feelings of self-doubt and uncertainty when it came to his performance as a cop but Callen was freaking him out. He decided it was time for G Callen and Marty Deeks to have a little talk.
Diane Volpe is the Contributing Editor at wikiDeeks.com. Follow her on Twitter: @phillydi