Writing Deeks: Bantering Densi
It’s impossible to think about Deeks and Kensi without their famous banter and chemistry, something that was apparent from their first scene together in “Hand-to-Hand.” The way they simultaneously flirt and challenge each other is a quality that makes them stand out from other television couples. It also inspires many fan fiction writers to tell their story.
“Again, with the spinach?” Kensi questioned. He’d put that on the pizza, too.
“Gives you muscles to hit me with,” he quipped with a wink.
“I am so not Popeye,” she refuted, feigning offense to cover her amusement at his joke.
Deeks gave a casual shrug. “Yeah, you’re more like Olive Oyl. Tall, thin, brunette… minus the weird hair bun.”
Still not a compliment by any means.
“Bluto!” Now Deeks was insulted. “If anything, I’m Popeye! Check out these guns.” And he pulled up his shirt sleeve to flex his bicep for her. “You like? Yeah?”
Kensi pretended not to be the least bit impressed with his muscle display, even though she secretly loved his strong arms.
“Maybe you should double-up on the spinach,” she replied with a grin. “Or in your case, triple.”
Deeks lowered his arm and his sleeve with a wounded expression. “Ouch,” he drawled out meaningfully. “Just for that, you can assemble this entire lasagna by yourself.”
Whether or not they want to see Deeks and Kensi together, that special flirty dynamic between them stands out to nearly all the fan fiction writers we interviewed. Jessica237 describes it well: “I love the partnership dynamic– they flirt, they banter, they bicker, they tease each other, they take a few steps over the line between them without going too far too fast, and that’s really what I love about them. I love the slow build-up. I love the playfulness. It’s just Densi. It’s just them.” Jericho Steele observes the way the actors’ off-screen relationship shines through into their on-screen characters. “Eric and Daniella have such a sweet friendship (now they’re brother and sister-in-law) off camera and it shows in how they act together on screen.”
The Densi chemistry certainly spurred imahistorian to write about them. “I have written casually for other fandoms, though never this much or for as long as Densi,” she says. “It’s hard to capture, but Deeks and Kensi as characters are what makes writing them different. The actors have such chemistry that they inspire stories and scenes beyond what I see on the show. I want to see more, see different, see them in situations beyond the show. And for a long time that has largely continued, and that fuels the creative writing process.”
…the softball game seemed like an easy enough excuse of an activity.
Kensi offered him a teasing smile. “You can show off your Little League pitching skills.”
The return grin he gave her was genuine and Kensi felt a sliver of hope. He ran a hand through his damp hair as he chuckled.
“Truthfully, I’d probably be better as catcher. You can put your college softball pitching skills to good use.”
Kensi stood up a little straighter, feeling oddly pleased that he’d remembered she pitched in college. “You think you can catch whatever I throw you?”
The teasing had left Deeks’ tone and Kensi was suddenly mute, the air filled with heavy intimacy after that one word, spoken with weighted intensity. Even when they tried to steer clear of moments like these they still seemed to circle back to them. She felt the blush rise up her neck and she cleared her throat, feeling the familiar apprehension brought on by the emotionally laden words, looks, and the tone of Deeks’ voice.
Jessica237 writes a Densi at what she sees as the high point of their bantering. She says, “I feel like my Densi relationship strives to match the relationship of Seasons 2-4 Densi. That, in my opinion, is Densi.” For Jericho Steele, their chemistry, no matter the season, is unavoidable. He encountered this phenomenon over the course of writing his first NCIS:LA story. “I struggled with actually having them take any big steps in their ‘thing’,” he says. “But the more I wrote them, the harder it was to actually keep them apart… it just sort of wrote itself. They were like two powerful magnets sitting side-by-side, the natural attraction just took over and ‘bam’… they were stuck together.”
That Densi chemistry actually led Kadiedid to discover fan fiction before she went on to become a Densi writer herself. She watched them in “Deliverance” and then grew frustrated with their lack of progress over the rest of Season 2. “At the end of Season 3 I read a comment on twitter about someone who didn’t like how a particular fan fic had ended. I found the story in question and in the process found some very good writers. I read as much as I could and found that everyone has a different idea about how Deeks would react to different situations.”
The Densi chemistry was also what led Jessica237 to start writing about the couple. “When I first started watching LA in Season 2,” she says, “I had been on a bit of a hiatus as far as writing anything goes– I was annoyed with other fandoms, and I didn’t have the time that I used to have, and I wasn’t sure that I was ever really going to be writing anything else. And then “Anonymous” aired, and something about the Kensi-Deeks dynamic just struck me. Just like that. Something just clicked about them for me.” She “opened Word without another thought” and penned her first NCIS:LA story.
“I’m-I’m fine,” she stammers in a whisper, opening her eyes. Deeks is crouching in front of her face, eyes wary and probing. Still wearing nothing but a towel.
“You say you’re fine when-“
“I’m not fine,” Kensi finishes, “I know, Deeks, just… let me be not fine for a bit, okay?” she pleads. Deeks regards her warily.
“That’s hard, Kens,” he admits softly, his voice barely above a hushed whisper.
“Harder than putting actual clothes on?” she quips, attempting to change the subject. Deeks, thankfully, decides to go along with it. He smiles.
“Harder than how hard you have to try to not pounce on me right now?” he returns easily, the humor not quite reaching his eyes.
The Densi banter, which is often dazzling enough to approach the level of a classic 1930’s screwball comedy, isn’t always so easy to capture. Kadiedid, for one, struggles on occasion. “There are so many facets to their dynamic that it’s hard to capture them all,” she observes. “While I feel I may do a good job with the banter in one story, I may not concentrate on it so much in another because I may be focused on some other aspect. It’s hard to get everything in one short story but with the longer stories I find it easier to do.”
Sweet Lu also finds it challenging. “I still find it a little difficult to write the sexy… banter that goes on between them,” she says. That difficulty produced an interesting outcome in her early work. “One of the main differences is that in all my stories, [Deeks] and Kensi are a couple. I decided that early on because I was unsure how to write the flirty banter they have on the show.”
“Why are you wearing shorts?”
“Are you saying you don’t like them?”
“I’m saying you should probably already be seated when the suspect comes into interrogation.”
He slides off the table. “Good plan. I don’t want to distract her with my sexy calves.”
“Yeah, that’s it.”
He starts walking toward her and, damn it, they are sexy knees.
She folds her arms across her chest and tries to look stern. “Say ‘Patriot Act’ and let me see if I can keep a straight face.”
He steps up into her space. “You don’t think she’ll take me seriously?”
“I don’t.” The urge to touch him is really strong. Like, really strong. Has she not seen him in shorts before? She tries not to remember. Remembering would probably just bring her back to that time she saw him in only his boxers and- damn it.
“Or is it that you don’t think you’ll be able to keep your hands off my exposed thighs?”
She digs her nails into her palms and barks a laugh. “Oh my god, never say ‘exposed thighs’ again.”
Deeks deflates. “What? That wasn’t sexy?”
“No, that was not even a little sexy.”
“But the shorts are sexy,” he clarifies.
“The shorts are fine. Now every time I see them I’ll just think of you saying ‘exposed thighs’ and it’ll be like a bucket of cold water.”
He lights up again. “So you’re saying you needed a bucket of cold water.”
“No,” she says quickly. “Definitely not. Of course not.”
“You are!” He’s grinning. “I’m going to wear shorts every day.”
Next week we’ll explore the trust that Deeks and Kensi have in each other, and the loyalty they both display to their partner. In the meantime, is the Densi chemistry the feature that first got your attention when it came to our favorite couple? When did you first notice it?
Want to Read More?
To find the stories quoted above, follow these links:
Belle Walker, “Spicing Things Up”
imahistorian, “Take Me Out”
peanutbutterer, “And Gunpowder” (Ch. 33)
We also asked each writer to recommend a short story they thought best represents their Densi. Two writers named stories that feature delightful Densi banter.
peanutbutterer says of her story “Growth,” “I think it’s typical of their partnership. There’s banter and teasing and fun on the surface, but something deeper is going on below, something they’re both aware of even though it remains unspoken.”
Tess DiCorsi describes her story, “The Matrix”: “[It’s] is a long drabble (in hindsight it probably should have been its own story) in the ‘With My Pen and Electric Typewriter’ compilation. It is post ‘Three Hearts’ and manages to not include a single raccoon. It also has a great quote from ‘The Matrix’ which I think is perfect for where they are [at the end of Season 5].”
Or, go back to the previous Writing Deeks, Writing Densi.
A special thanks to @thewingsofnight for creating the wonderful artwork.
Great article Karen! You picked out a lot of interesting similarities and differences in how Densi writers see them and write them.
Thanks Mel! I always think of Deeks as a wonderfully complex character, which is one of the reasons he makes such a fascinating subject for fan fiction. But Densi as an entity is also wonderfully complex. There are many aspects to their relationship that must make them very enjoyable to explore for fan fic writers like yourself. And I think ultimately, the complexity of Deeks and Densi are what lend them to so many varying interpretations.
Delightful! I kept being reminded of how many of us view them so similarly, but simultaneously differently! Like Jessica237, I appreciate them not going “too far too fast” and got “hooked” with Anonymous. Like Jericho, their personal connection adds yet another layer of complexity to the characters. I’ve also considered the magnet analogy (initially introduced to me in the movie “Cutting Edge”. Did someone mention ice skating?!) Like imahistorian (Hi Mel!), they make us want more, which fuels the fan fiction writers (& readers)! I found it most interesting some struggle with “getting them together”; maybe we should give the real show writers a break on this topic!
Thanks Gayle! Yes, I loved Jericho’s magnet analogy too. It really captures them well. But I’m afraid I can’t stop hoping for more from the show writers! I am just thankful for all these great fan fiction writers who can fill in the (gapingly large) gaps the show often leaves.
Great article Karen. You quoted some of the best banter writers, and I applaud them because it is not easy to get it right.
I think there was a connection between Kensi and Deeks from the beginning when she met Jason Wyler in that house in Hand to Hand and the banter, although serious, was right there. That line Deeks spoke is one of my all time favorites. “The one where you’re watching the sunset at Santa Monica pier, or the one where your not wearing anything but a smile?” There was an instant spark, a sparring almost that continued with Kensi refusing to give in to his obvious charm and blatant conceit. That one scene hooked me as did the the final scene in Fame. As Jerico Steele said, they were simply drawn to each other and their chemistry made writing that connection almost impossible to ignore.
Thanks Lindy. I agree, there really was something between them right from the start. For me, I first really noticed it in Borderline, but it wasn’t until the explosion in Deliverance, that brief moment where it looked like they might kiss, that I really sat up and started paying attention.
That’s funny because I remember watching that scene in Deliverance and telling Deeks to kiss her…out loud…like they could hear me. That’s what Densi does to me.
There’s nothing like Densi banter! I love all the fan fic writers that write the banter so well! Great interviews, Karen!
Thanks Reader, I love them too. Writing banter seems like a really challenging thing to do. You need to capture the characters, but you also need to be funny, and to show their chemistry. A tough trifecta to pull off.