What triggered it, he wasn’t quite sure.
Maybe it was the ‘slack-crack’ sound that the slide of the perp’s shotgun made as he racked the slide back to chamber another round.
Maybe, it was the threat to a loved one’s life that he felt responsible to protect.
Maybe it was the current atmosphere that existed between him and his ‘so much more than just a partner’ Kensi Blye … one where they were beginning to share the things about the past that weren’t all that pleasant.
Whatever the reason … it hadn’t really mattered too much to Detective Martin Deeks, he had been too busy dodging bullets at the moment to fully digest the impact that the little twinge of a long-lost memory would have on him. But that had been hours ago and now he was sitting in the Mission’s armory, studiously cleaning his SIG that was field stripped on the foam mat in front of him. As he buffed some stubborn carbon buildup from the pistol’s chamber, his mind was awash with all the events of the day that was supposed to go a lot smoother than it had.
Thanksgiving was supposed to be a day of family, friends, and … most importantly … food. That’s what normal people were enjoying somewhere at that particular moment, but the members of the Office of Special Projects weren’t ‘normal’ people. Their work days didn’t stop for holidays, federal or not, and the bad guys had decided that this time of year might be a good time to try to breach the security at a big time defense contractor’s warehouse. While no one was injured, no one for the good guys anyway, the emotional effect on a certain LAPD detective was still ringing through his very bones, right down to his soul. If the team had noticed anything unusual about how he was acting, no one said anything after the debrief or when they had finally departed to their separate holiday plans, and he had silently stayed behind to finish up a few things … like clean his gun, which he had been doing silently for the past hour and a half.
This holiday was one that held no real sentimental value for the detective, in fact, it was one he tried his best to just work his way through without too much ‘down-time’ … time that would give him an opportunity to think … and remember. So, while he sat scrubbing the same piece of metal, he tried to keep his mind focused on the task at hand and not the ghosts from his past that always haunted him this time of year.
He tried to think of the way Sam had practically threatened his life if he bailed on coming over tomorrow for some left overs and the game on the big screen.
The way Kensi had looked so adorably shy when she asked him to accompany her to her mother’s for what she called, the Thanksgiving Feast to rival all others … and the way he had agreed to go with a little more excitement than he should have. The thought of spending the day with Kensi, then heading over to the Hanna’s for more food and fun, actually brought a smile to the otherwise melancholy surfer.
That expression is what greeted his partner as she silently slipped through the door at the other end of the room. She paused just inside the threshold, resting her shoulder against the corner of the wall as she just watched Deeks from just a few yards away. He made no indication that he knew she was there, he just continued to work away at the weapon in his hands. When he spoke without looking up at her, it actually startled her.
“You know, watching somebody like that could either be construed as creepy and slightly ‘stalker-ish’ … or … ” Then he raised his blue-on-blue eyes to hers, and she saw the smirk at the edges of his lips. ” … one would think that someone just can’t get enough of all of this.” Deeks gestured down his body with a hand that held part of his pistol.
Kensi let out her patented snort-laugh, the one that told him that she was slightly embarrassed and a little tense. “Yeah, I’ve always had a weak spot for SIGS … they get me a little excited.”
“Awww Fern … you wound me.” He pouted a little and she couldn’t help but think he looked completely delicious at that moment.
Pushing herself away from the wall, Kensi moved over to stand just a few inches away from her partner and he spun on the stool until he was facing her, his bent knees mere inches from her thighs. He turned his eyes back down to the part in his hand and he casually began to wipe the metal with an oily rag.
Seeing that he was slowly retreating into mundane activity, Kensi folded her arms across her chest, letting her breath out in a soft, yet forceful sigh. “So, this is where you disappeared to after Granger cut us loose for the weekend?”
His answer was way too fast and sounded like he had been rehearsing it just in case someone came to check on him. “Yeah, didn’t get to do a thorough cleaning last time … and since there’s no time like the present … ”
“Deeks … ”
The blonde detective continued as if he hadn’t heard her. ” … then I might as well do it now … ”
Deeks had to stop when she reached out with her long fingers and seized him by the wrists. He fought the inclination to yank away from her and hide what was eating away at him … they were at such a wonderful place with their ‘thing’ … and he didn’t want to be the one to put a damper on what was happening. But when he glanced up into her eyes, he knew the conversation was coming, he just didn’t know if he was ready.
“Marty?” There was such emotion and concern in her voice that his breath caught in his lungs and he felt goosebumps form on his arms. When her hands gave him a gentle squeeze, he had to look up into her beautiful mismatched orbs … what he found there wasn’t pity or uncertainty … it was pure concern, laced with a little love. “You can pull this with anyone but me … I know you and I know when something is bothering you. You can tell me anything … you know that, right?”
He wanted to, he really did … and it wasn’t that he didn’t trust her … it just hurt so much to even think about it, much less put it all into words. So, he did what he usually did with her in moments like this, he waited until her own impatience won out. Slowly, he felt her hand relax around his arms until she let them fall away completely and took a small step away from him. He didn’t want to hurt her or make her feel unwelcome, but this was huge … big enough to remind him that the past doesn’t stay as buried as he would like.
“Okay … I guess I’ll leave you to your thoughts then … ”
She was moving further away from him now, and he felt the coolness from her absence almost immediately and he missed it. He watched her run a hand through her long, dark hair and he felt the urge to reach out and follow her movement with his own … and maybe pull her closer. She was leaving and he had to stop her.
” … I’ll just … umm … see you tomorrow then?” Kensi didn’t even turn fully to look at him, just spoke the words over her shoulder as she hurried from the room. Then she stopped, dead in her tracks, when she heard the voice of a scared little boy speak from behind her.
“I shot my father on Thanksgiving.”
She almost didn’t recognize the voice, it was much younger, smoother … and so sad. Kensi turned slowly and found her partner’s slumped form right where she had left him. His hands were limp across his thighs, the cleaning rag in one and part of his pistol in the other. Where his eyes were focused, she couldn’t tell but he didn’t acknowledge her when she moved up beside him, closer than she’d been earlier. When she touched his arm, he continued and she didn’t know if he was telling her this story or if he was just talking to get it out of his system while he felt brave enough.
“He … uh … he’d been drinking all morning … I was watching the parade when he told mom that he had friends coming over for the game … ” Deeks almost dropped the action of his gun, so Kensi slipped it from his loose grasp and laid it on the table, but she never took her eyes from his face the entire time. ” … Mom complained that he should have told her earlier so she could have been more ready … he yelled that it was his house and he would invite whoever he wanted, whenever he wanted … and she just better suck it up.”
Deeks was breathing hard, and it appeared to Kensi like he was chasing something … or running from it. She ran her hand down his forearm until she reached his hand where she intertwined their fingers together. He had listened to her story about living on the streets after her father died, never interrupting her, only offering support and compassion … she would now do the same for him.
“Dinner was silent and a little scary, like the calm before a storm, you know?” He looked up at her and the sad little boy behind his eyes wouldn’t have been more real if he’d been sitting right there with her. The urge to wrap her arms around him was almost overpowering, but she knew he needed more from her than that. Right now, he needed her to listen to his story … to add gravity to a memory that wanted to yank his feet from the ground. So, she leaned a little closer, her other hand coming to rest over where they were already joined.
“Later, I was in my room … and I heard a crash from the kitchen. When I ran in, Mom was on the floor, a piece of glass from a broken beer bottle in her foot … she was crying and bleeding.” Deeks wiped at a tear that tried to slip from his eye, his hand shaking slightly. “I was getting the first aid kit from under the sink when dad started bellowing from the living room about what was taking so long with his beer … I told him mom had hurt herself … then I heard him coming.”
Kensi watched her partner physically shrink before her eyes … and it brought tears to her own eyes.
“He … he stood in the doorway … screaming about the mess she’d made … the broken glass … the blood … about what a worthless wife she was … ” Then he rolled his shoulders back, and he didn’t appear as frightened as he had a moment earlier. “I … I tried to defend her … told him to back off … that I’d bring him his beer if he’d just lay off of my mom for a little while.”
When he hesitated, Kensi asked the question that had burned in her since he started telling her about this nightmare. “How old were you?” He didn’t answer right away, so she repeated herself a little louder this time … and when he answered, she felt like she was going to be sick.
“I … I was eleven.”
“Eleven? Deeks … my God … ” Now she couldn’t stop herself, her arms coming up to pull his head against her shoulder, and she felt his hands slide up to rest on her hips.
“I never even saw him move … he back-handed me across the jaw and I landed on the floor, glass digging into my back … ” His hands squeezed her gently, tugging her body closer to his own and she went willingly. ” … Mom was trying to get up … stop him again but her foot wouldn’t hold her up … he was hovering over me … punching and kicking me.”
Kensi choked back her own sobs as she felt his body quivering against hers, and she wasn’t sure who was fighting to maintain control more … him or her.
“I rolled over and he started kicking my back … screaming that he hated me … that I was a useless son … that I’d always be nothing … that no one could ever love me … ” Deeks didn’t know where the words were coming from, he’d never told anyone this story but the more he talked, the more he wanted to finish … to tell her. ” … I think that’s when Mom hit him … I think it was with a chair … whatever it was, he stopped and when I rolled over, he was gone.”
“When we were in the desert … you told me something like that, but you said it happened six years earlier.”
Deeks dropped his head, hiding his eyes. “Yeah … about that … I barely knew you, we had just started working together …and I guess … I … ”
She finished his thought for him. ” … you didn’t know if you could trust me with it. It’s okay … I get it.”
“Kens … ”
She held up a hand and gently stopped him. “Deeks … really, it’s okay.”
Kensi held onto him as he paused to take a deep breath, like he was about to jump off a cliff into the unknown. Just when she thought he had decided that he was finished telling her this part of himself, his small voice returned.
“Mom was helping me up from the floor when he came back … with a shotgun in his hands.”
The brunette agent froze, her body going as still as a statue. The mood that had fallen on her partner today suddenly making sense and it wasn’t just because of what had happened in the past. Today, in the warehouse, a previously unnoticed perp had come out of nowhere with a twelve gauge assault shotgun in his hands. He had racked the slide, before pointing it at her and as the sound echoed from the metal walls, she had witnessed her partner freeze for just an instant. In that split second, she had caught a glimpse of the scared little boy that her partner had kept hidden all these years, but he was gone in a flash as Deeks pumped three perfectly aimed shots into her attacker’s chest before he could take a shot.
Knowing what had triggered his momentary hesitation caused a swelling of intense love and adoration for the man in her arms to take flight inside her heart and Kensi was almost overwhelmed in that moment. If he hadn’t started talking again, she was pretty sure she would have broken down in tears right there.
“We froze … I’d never seen him so angry before … he pointed it at Mom … ” His body quivered in her arms and she held on tighter. ” … when he racked the slide … I knew he was going to shoot her … it all happened so fast that I … I don’t … I’m not sure … ”
Kensi felt his control slipping and knew she had to do something to help him hold on. “Breathe Marty … just breathe.” She felt him shudder against her chest as he took a long, deep breath … some of the tension slipping from his body.
“I shoved her to the floor just as he pulled the trigger … I heard the gun go off … I felt the heat of the blast as it passed me … ” As he felt Kensi’s arms tighten around him, he couldn’t tell if she was clinging to him or if he was holding onto her. In the end, he figured that it really didn’t matter anyway. “The pellets hit the refrigerator door right beside me as I dove toward the sink … that’s when I saw the pistol that Ray had given me. I guess Mom had found it in my room and hid it behind the jug of bleach …”
Deeks eyes drifted over toward the far wall, a glazed expression covering his features. “I … I don’t know … I don’t remember how the gun got in my hand … all I know is that I suddenly had it pointed right at his chest … and he … and he … was laughing … laughing at me.”
Kensi swallowed the lump in her throat as she tried to process exactly what that nightmare would have been like for an eleven-year-old child. Face to face with his father who had just shot at him and now was only taunting him more with his laughter. As if reading her thoughts, Deeks continued with his story.
“You won’t shoot me boy! You are nothing but a little sniveling coward … I bet you’re about two seconds away from wetting yourself … “Deeks gave a rough imitation of what his father had sounded like on that day, and it sent shivers up Kensi’s spine. “Then he turned the gun toward my mom … I begged him to stop Kens … I didn’t want to … but he pointed it right at her and then he just … he just smiled at me.”
“And that’s when I shot him, Kens … that’s when I shot my father.” Deeks’ last words were nothing more than a choked sob as his head fell to her shoulder, his tears wetting the fabric of her shirt. She pulled him to her until there was no space at all between their bodies, his hands fisting into the fabric across her back as he held her as if she was his only lifeline. As they held onto each other, Kensi wasn’t sure who was holding onto to whom.
Several minutes passed before either of them moved and it was really just to adjust their hold on one another, but she did feel his lips graze across her forehead and the simple gesture touched her immensely. “I thought I’d killed him … there was so much blood and Mom was screaming at me for shooting her husband.”
When he said that, Kensi pushed back from him slightly, until she could look up into his eyes. “She blamed you.” It wasn’t a question, it was a cold, hard statement … and it tore at her insides with all the guilt and shame such an action would cause to a child.
“Yeah … she did … guess she still does.” Deeks’ eyes were sad, but there was a calm behind the deep blue that belayed the torment his story revealed. He sighed heavily as he pressed his face into her hair, inhaling her scent and relishing the peace that it brought him.
Kensi placed her hands on either side of his face and used her thumbs to wipe away the tears that wet his cheeks. After a moment, he blinked away the last of them, and when he looked deeply into her kind eyes, he found a surge of strength when she whispered across his face, her breath tickling her skin. “Then she’s a fool.”
He chuckled at his partner’s knack for cutting straight to the point that was in her head. Leaning forward, he brought his forehead to hers and nuzzled her nose with his own.
“I’m serious Deeks … anyone who would do that to a child … anyone who would blame a child for that … well, I’m sorry … but in my opinion, they were both fools.” When it felt like he might pull away from her, she tightened her grip in him. “You listen to me, Martin Deeks … you are a good man … despite your past … you have a good, strong heart … and anyone who says any differently will have to deal with me.”
He pulled back, but she was relieved that it wasn’t away from her, he just moved enough so he could place a warm kiss to her forehead. Kensi leaned into him, one hand falling to his chest to cover his heart that thumped away under her touch. For a moment, they simply shared the same space and time, inhaling each other’s breaths, taking and giving comfort in a way that only lovers could.
After a time, their awkward body positions finally took their toll and both felt the tightening of muscles and joints. Deeks gave the side of her head one more bump with his nose before he let her slip from his lap, not even sure how she’d ended up there, but glad she had. Kensi stood between his knees, her hands hanging loosely around his neck, her fingers tugging at the ends of his blonde locks.
When he ducked his head, she used the tip of one finger under his chin to lift his eyes back to hers. To her great relief, instead of pain or anguish, she only found serenity and what could only be described as thankfulness. His expression touched her deeply and she felt the prick of a warm blush as it crossed over her cheeks.
“Thanks Kensi … I’m not quite sure where all of that came from … but thank you.”
The brunette bumped the inside of his thigh with her hip, a sweet smile forming on her lips. “I just wanted to make sure you were okay … I hadn’t planned on all of this.”
“What? My Thanksgiving confession a little too much for you there, Fern?”
She knew he was trying to lighten the moment with an attempt at humor, but she needed him to know that no matter what stories from his past he wanted to share with her, she would always be there to listen and comfort him. “There isn’t anything you can do or say that would make me think or feel any differently about you … you know that, right?”
Deeks took a moment to examine her sincere expression and the meaning behind her words … and the peace that washed over him almost brought him to tears once more. “Kens … I … I don’t know what to say.”
Kensi gave him a crooked grin. “Just say ‘Yes Ma’am’ and we’ll be good.”
“Well then … yes ma’am.”
She let out a long sigh, her breath tickling the nape of his neck as the warm air washed over his skin. When she stepped back from him, they were both smiling but hers faltered when his grip on her suddenly tightened, stopping her movements. His voice was low and warm when he spoke.
“I’m thankful for you Kensi Marie Blye. I’m thankful that you are in my life, and that you become a bigger part of it every day.” He stood with her, his hands slipping around her waist once more. “I’m thankful that you are who you are and that you make me a better man the more I am around you. I am thankful that no matter what ghosts from my past haunt me, you are there to help chase them away … and you are able to see past the person that everyone else sees … you are the only one who sees ‘me’ and despite all my faults … you choose to stand with me.”
By the time he stopped, Kensi had fresh tears running down her face and she could only choke back a gentle protest when he leaned forward and kissed them away. When he was finished, she covered his lips with her own, pouring everything within her into the kiss and when it was over, they were both breathless.
“I am thankful for you, Marty Deeks. I am thankful that despite my shields, walls, and barricades … you persisted until I let you in and even though we have so much still to learn about each other … I am thankful that you won’t let me run from you and you are always there when I am ready to be open and honest.” Her hands crept back up his face until they ran up into his long hair. “I am thankful that you are my partner, my friend … and I know that whatever my future holds for me … you will be there, waiting for me, just like always.”
Their lips met once more, but this kiss was less hungry and needy … it was lingering and gentle, a reassurance that there were many more like it in their future. When they finally pulled apart, her lips were pulsing and his hair was a mess. Their smiles turned into smirks, then they were laughing softly at each other’s disheveled appearance.
Kensi stepped back, tugging him up with their interlocked fingers. “Come on Shaggy … it’s getting late and we have a busy day tomorrow.” When he hesitated for a second, she turned back to face him. “You still want to go, right?”
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world … and besides Kensalina … your mom would be very upset if you showed up without yours truly.” He draped an arm over her shoulder and despite his snarky reply she didn’t shrug him off.
“I see your ego is perfectly fine.”
“Just like the rest of me.” He gave her a little waggle of his eyebrows.
With a quick jab to his ribs, Kensi knew he was back. “And then, just like that … the moment’s gone.” She turned away but before she moved out of reach, he tugged her back against his chest, his arms wrapping around her and holding her tight.
“Don’t worry … I have plenty of moments.”
Kensi rolled her head against his, her forehead brushing his cheek.
“And I’ll be there for every single one of them.”
You can find more Jericho Steele’s fanfics on FanFic.net.