Deeks on a surfboard is a thing of beauty. One with the waves, wetsuited (or not), he’s hard to resist. He may have made only a single appearance on TV, but fan fiction writers sure haven’t been able to ignore him. Beyond the wetsuit, they see Deeks gaining a wide range of things from his hobby: release, relief, and don’t forget “the zen stuff.” Full disclosure: Surfer Deeks is my favorite Deeks, and there were some amazing descriptions of him throughout these writers’ work, so this installment is a little longer than usual. What can I say? Enjoy!
“Go and surf, Deeks.” He doesn’t reply, he just nods and stands up circling around her to pick up his board. He tousles her hair before striding down the beach to the water. She manages to keep her eyes from drifting downwards from his back by musing on the several times she’s seen him do this.
He’s a surfer. On the inside, on the outside. When he talks (idiosyncrasies, those adorable idiosyncrasies that she, like Hetty, can’t help but be fond of), and when he stares silently and wistfully at the ocean when they’re on the way to apprehend a suspect or asset.
He’s riding the waves now, his entire being radiating his total focus as he gracefully navigates the water. She’s watched him enough to know why he’s better than most of the posers on the waves. He moves with the water, becomes one with it, instead of plowing through it.
Sort of like their partnership. Their friendship. Their rela-their um, their thing.
She has got to stop with the constant wave-life comparisons.
For the fan fiction writers we interviewed, Surfer Deeks’ appeal starts with his laid-back Southern California vibe. It’s the scruffy beard and long hair, but it’s also his approachable nature and humor. “What caught my attention first thing,” says imahistorian, “was how different Deeks was from the rest of the NCIS:LA team. The second the camera turned to him in ‘Hand-to-Hand’ I remember literally sitting up straighter on my couch. You could just tell that he was different.” That difference included “how physically he was strikingly different from everyone else.”
Similarly for Sweet Lu, Deeks’ surfer vibe left an impression. “Marty Deeks made NCIS:LA for me, especially after ‘Fame,’ when he put on those shades and said, ‘Don’t worry, Fern. I’ll be back.’ He was sexy, he was SoCal, he was funny and he moved with grace. He added such a spark to the show.” She adds, “I like that the show made Deeks a surfer. In the beginning I’m sure it was a stereotypical thing to add to his character as a SoCal boy, but now it is a part of his persona that carries something more and we couldn’t picture him without it. It adds to his breezy, smart ass persona on the show.”
Deeks is usually a pretty upbeat and seemingly happy guy. I think that most of the time it isn’t even an act. But I know he has demons, just like the rest of us. And some days there isn’t enough beer and ice cream in the world to make what we do and see okay. I’m glad to be the one who sees when he’s battling his demons because I knew if he didn’t trust me I would never see that side of him. Because true, carefree, happy moments unhindered by work and the past are kind of rare.
Deeks didn’t seem to notice my observation of him as he finished with the board, and then slipped his arms into the wetsuit, reaching behind his neck to zip it closed. He was on his feet, lifted the board in one fluid movement, and he tossed me a wave as he ran towards the water…
Because watching him surf, it’s clear he loves it. And I can’t deny how good he looks out on the water. He’s free and happy and I feel lucky to see him like that.
Deeks’ love of surfing is clear, but our writers see it as more than just a sport. To them it brings Deeks a variety of emotional, and even spiritual, benefits. First and foremost among them, as Sweet Lu describes, is that “He continually finds freedom there as well as joy.” Jessica237 agrees. “I think that for Deeks, surfing is his freedom, so to speak,” she describes. “It’s the one thing that grounds him, the one thing that never lets him down. He can grab his board, his wetsuit, and get out there on the waves and leave everything else back on land for a little bit.”
For Sweet Lu, that freedom brings with it a clear view of the real Deeks. She says, “I like that honest part of Deeks that joyously abandons the world he is used to living in… I think when he’s surfing it is the closest he is to being who he truly is as a person… nothing false.” Or as Jericho Steele puts it, “When it’s just him, his board, and the waves… Deeks doesn’t have to hide or try to be someone he’s not, he can just be himself without any pressure to be otherwise.”
He felt the powerful swell rise beneath him and he pushed off strongly, paddling rapidly to catch the crest of the wave as it broke. Wind whipped the spray around him as he slipped down the face of the rushing wave and cut in before the curl. He laughed as he worked his board, reveling in the joy of the familiar smell of salty air, the wind in his hair and the cries of the gulls as the dying wave slowly dissolved, the white water cascading around him until finally engulfing him as it pushed him toward shore.
“Oh buddy,” he shouted over the roar of the surf, “There’s no place like home.”
Beyond a sense of freedom, our writers also believe that surfing offers Deeks a place of refuge and healing. Sweet Lu believes it was so from an early age. “I think being out on the ocean became a safe haven for him when he was young,” she contends. “In a sense, it was a place he could go that was his alone, unspoiled by any hint of his father. It provided solace, the isolation giving him a sense of protection, the water healing him in some way, again and again, the waves lulling and constant movement almost a lullaby for him.” For her, that sense of release continues to this day. “When I write him surfing,” she says, “I use it more as a cleansing experience, a homecoming, a way for him to decompress… It’s where he sheds his aliases when he comes out of an undercover assignment, the cleansing water washing away the dregs of who he had to become.” Jessicac237 has a similar vision. She notes that, “…Deeks tends to carry a lot of guilt with him, a lot of pain, but somehow, when he’s in the ocean with his board, he’s able to escape that at least for a little while. It guides his concentration elsewhere- he’s focused on the waves rather than what troubles him.”
Jericho Steele relates to the escape a physical activity can bring. “I think it’s where he finds peace,” he describes. “When he has a bad day on the job, he can lose himself in something that takes his focus away from the darkness around him and, for a short time, he can let go of everything that haunts him. If there is something that is bothering me, I find solace in one of my hobbies, like archery. The need for attention to detail and repetition focus my mind on something else and, later on, I find that skill helps me deal with the situation that was bothering me in the first place.” Beyond the concentrated focus, Jericho sees the ocean as a refuge for Deeks: “It’s his escape. Everyone needs a place to go to get away from everything for a little while. Surfing is where Deeks goes to be alone with just himself and his thoughts… The waves don’t care if he’s had a bad day or if he doesn’t feel like himself; they don’t care if he feels confident or if he’s a little unsure of himself; they won’t make fun of his drawl or sense of humor or what he picked to wear to work that day; they won’t question his character or punch him if he steps over the line or hold anything against him. They are just there for him, waiting for him to decide if he wants to venture out with them or not. Either way, they’re always there.”
The sand is warm beneath his toes, despite the relative chill of the early morning. A quiet breeze blows in from the sea, the salty air tickling his skin, leaving him yearning for the waves. Deeks feels the pull; there’s a subtle ache deep in his chest as he watches a small handful of surfers take advantage of the swells.
Before everything that had happened, Deeks had never ignored the call of the ocean.
Now, he doesn’t know if he’ll ever get back out there.
He remembers quite vividly telling Kensi once that the ocean is where all surfers go to escape their problems and if there’s one thing he knows to be utterly and completely true, it’s that. It’s been true for him ever since he was a teenager, lost and confused, unsure of where he was headed in life or if he even had a future worth fighting for. On the waves, he’d always been able to push everything aside for a few hours and return to it later, his mind much clearer, much calmer.
The ocean is the one thing that’s always been there, the one thing that has never changed. The one constant that has never abandoned him.
And as much as he would kill to be out there right now, well, Deeks can’t bring himself to challenge that truth, not right now.
He’s afraid it won’t be the same.
He’s not convinced that any amount of surfing would be enough to cleanse his soul this time.
And then there’s the zen aspect. You know, “The ocean, dolphins, the zen stuff, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah” as Kensi describes it [in “Leipei”]. Our writers may not depict Deeks’ surfing in quite these terms, but they do see something philosophical- even metaphorical- about it. imahistorian thinks “he probably loves the uncertainty of surfing. You never know where a wave will take you and he’s someone who thinks on his feet. Surfing is practically the physical embodiment of that.”
She also sees it giving “the surfer a chance to kind of ‘conquer’ the wave, to accomplish something that takes a lot of hard work and skill to eventually do. In a way it might be a way for Deeks to be in control of something that typically does not like to be controlled: nature… Deeks surfing can be an effective tool for storytelling purposes, like a place for him to think and feel in control.” Sweet Lu also thinks “He learned to conquer the power of the waves, and I believe that gave him confidence.”
For Jericho Steele, “Writing about Deeks surfing gives me the opportunity to explore a part of him that we don’t really see on the show but is such a big piece of who he really is.” He sees surfing as a metaphor for how Deeks lives his entire life. “I can see Deeks letting surfing stand for his way of dealing with things in his life,” he describes. “When he’s riding a wave, he is letting something pull him along for the ride and all he has to do is not fall off his board. I know that’s basic but it’s pretty close. In his life, Deeks lets things roll off his back like it’s really no big deal. Take the teasing he endures from the team. It may be good natured now, but in the beginning, there were some pretty mean things said, especially from Sam but from Callen and Kensi as well. Deeks took all they could dish out without ever breaking stride, showing them his true nature as someone who readily forgives, even when things are done intentionally. It also shows his consistency. No matter what time of day, the waves are always there. Now, they may be smaller and less powerful at certain times, but they never stop and neither does Deeks. He never gives up. He waited years for Sam to finally accept him. He’s endured Callen’s indifference until the older agent finally saw the true metal of the detective. And don’t forget Kensi. Deeks simply can’t let her down… I think it’s part of his DNA now.”
They hadn’t been in the water too long when Deeks had given Jericho some advice that could only come from someone who grew up on the waves. Jericho had caught a nice one, right from the start, and was pushing himself hard to try to ride it all the way in this time. He got a little over-confident and leaned out a little too far on his board and the wave fell away from him suddenly, dumping him face-first into the water. When he broke the surface of the water, he slapped his hands against the water in frustration.
“Crap! I’m never going to get the hang of this!”
Deeks had paddled over to make sure his friend was alright. “Hey dude… take it easy… you’re a lot better now than when we first got here.”
Jericho sighed and shook the water from his hair as he climbed back up on his board. “Yeah, I know… but it’s hard finding something you just can’t seem to beat.”
The expression on Deeks’ face looked like he had just been slapped. “Wait, wait, wait… you don’t beat the waves man… you ride them.” When Jericho just looked over at him with a confused expression, Deeks tried to explain. “Look… the waves are going to do what they are going to do… you can’t change that. First, you learn to read the wave… feel its power, sense its direction… then you climb on its back and let it take you where it wants… surfing is just making it all look effortless and coooooollll while you do it.”
Next on Writing Deeks, we’re going to spend a few weeks looking at how specific events from the show inspire our writers to write Deeks and Densi. Whether it’s true inspiration, or deep frustration, events from TV can lead to great fan fiction.
Want to Read More?
To find the stories quoted above, follow these links:
ZeGabz, “Who You Are”
imahistorian, “Basketball, Flowers, and Musical Theatre”
Sweet Lu, “Judgement”
Jericho Steele, “Aunt Hetty”
We also asked each writer to recommend a short story they thought best represents their Deeks. Jessica237 recommended one called “Fragmented” that probably best belonged with Dark Deeks, but it does includes a scene (quoted above) of Surfer Deeks. “After the Sidorov ordeal,” she describes, “we never really saw any long-lasting consequences dealing with what happened to Deeks… and I feel like it was too easily resolved for what I’ve come to see in Deeks’ life. His story goes much deeper than the smiles and the jokes; my Deeks has pain and heartache and the struggle for acceptance and still fighting despite the nagging feeling that he’s never really going to fit in, never really going to be good enough. And that was what I wanted to explore… I absolutely think that’s the one story that really IS everything I’ve built my own personal Deeks up to be.”
Or, go back to the last Writing Deeks, Direct Deeks.
A special thanks to @thewingsofnight for creating the wonderful artwork.