We’ve spent a lot of time with our group of fan fiction writers discussing the many sides of Marty Deeks. The character himself gives them plenty of inspiration, but they also often find themselves reacting to events on the show. Whether it’s a small plot detail or a huge story arc, an intriguing twist or a disappointing development, events from individual episodes can serve as a jumping off point for short post-ep drabbles, or as a launching point for a completely different storyline.
As she entered the boathouse, Kensi heard the strains of a soulful violin coming from inside. Deeks must have NPR on again, she thought. Kensi took two more steps inside and was instead stunned to see him standing next to the center table with his foot propped up on one the chairs. Deeks’ eyes were closed in deep concentration while the sweetest music came wafting out from the violin he was holding.
Kensi placed her hand over her heart as it raced faster in response to the music. The veins in his hands stood out from exertion, which only added to the beauty of his playing as his fingers floated rapidly over the fret board.
One of our writers actually avoids letting events from the show inspire her work. “I try not to let the show influence me too much,” says ZBBZL. “I have an image of Deeks in my head, the Deeks I imagine they first thought of in the writing room, and I try to write about this Deeks. Not the Deeks that they often screw up with in the show. So I stick to my Deeks and make him grow from there.” Most other writers we spoke with, however, actually do find themselves influenced by the show’s events. thepixiesmademedoit notes, “Deeks has changed over time and if you want to reflect that, to stay true to that, then I think your writing needs to change too.” Sweet Lu says of her writing: “When I write short stories that follow the show, then I try and keep them as close to their characters as I can.” For Jericho Steele it’s a bit of a balancing act. He says, “I write Deeks in the way I see his character, while also staying true to the way he is presented in the show. I like to explore the characters’ personalities and why they are the way they are.”
Sometimes a TV episode can inspire lighter fare. Belle Walker, for instance, found inspiration in a seemingly minor development in a Christmas episode. “Once in a while the show will give us a tiny personal tidbit about one of the characters that I would like to see explored a little more,” she says. “Such as in the ‘Hetty is a re-gifter’ episode [‘Disorder’] where Deeks takes the nice spice rack that Kensi didn’t want, it made me think that Deeks might be a decent cook and would probably make good use of the spices. And that little idea spawned my most recent story called ‘Spicing Things Up’ where Deeks tutors Kensi in the kitchen.”
At other times writers take inspiration from the show’s darker events. For example, nearly everyone we interviewed had their own take on the events of “Descent” and/or “Ascension.” aslycsi1315 says that, “episodes… influence how dark I would write Deeks,” she says. “My story ‘Choices’ goes with ‘Endgame’ as Deeks has to make a choice with the team, assuming that Callen really did shoot the Chameleon, being in ruins,” she describes. “…My story ‘Remorse’ which I had started the week before ‘Ascension’ had my own predictions of what would happen and the blowback between Sam and Deeks’ relationship; and my stories ‘Plan B’ and ‘8 Weeks’ where Deeks cracks with Kensi in Afghanistan. I never change my story according to the show if I had started the story before an episode aired.”
“I’m scared, Kens,” he began softly, his hands rising to momentarily cover his face and rub at his eyes. “I’m about to be given another four letters after my name, except I feel like these ones are gonna define me far more than the others from now on. Like perhaps they’ll just erase them away forever.”
“You’re an idiot.”
Deeks looked up quickly at Kensi’s crisp words, but there wasn’t a hint of amusement hidden beneath the pained surface of her features.
“Do you really believe that four letters are all that define you?” she asked, utter incredulity coating each and every word. “You think that’s all you are?”
Stunned into a rare silence, Deeks had no immediate answer to his partner’s vehement response.
“You are more than just four letters, Marty Deeks. You are more than just LAPD, you are more than just NCIS, and you will always, always be more than just PTSD.” Pause. “You just have to believe it.”
“How can you know that?”
“Because I know you.”
“Really? Are you sure?” he responded frustratedly to the lack of hesitation and conviction in Kensi’s words, to the faith so deeply embedded within them. “Because I look in the mirror some days and I’m not even sure who’s looking back. I feel like this is stealing me away piece by piece. Like I’m a footprint on the beach just waiting for one more wave to finish washing me away.”
For Sweet Lu, “a sentence or a scene can generate an idea for a story, whether one close to the characterizations on the show or an expansion of that character and his experience.” Take a single line from Season 5. “I have taken phrases, such as Hetty telling Deeks to button up at the end of ‘Frozen Lake’ and turned it into a story about him going back to LAPD. I explored what the second part of Hetty’s comment might mean, when she says ‘it’s cold out there.’”
She was even more influenced by a single, spectacular boom. “Sometimes one scene will inspire a story,” she explains. “In my case, one explosion inspired a quartet of stories, the one in ‘Sans Voir,’ when Sam and Kensi and Deeks were almost killed in that warehouse explosion. I began to wonder how Deeks would respond if the other three members of the team were almost killed in a similar explosion, leaving him alone to try and bring the perpetrator to justice. It became an emotional roller coaster and led to a story called ‘Judgement,’ followed by ‘Vengeance’ and ‘Promises to Keep’ and finally, ‘Crossroads.’ That one explosion became an inspirational explosion of words, pulling out deep emotions for all the characters and had me digging deeply into my own memories and emotional responses to family. It also made Owen Granger a villain. I haven’t liked or trusted him from the beginning and so I went with that in these stories.”
She stood in front of him holding the neatly folded black leather jacket, her top hand patting it gently before she looked up at him. She had a slight enigmatic smile on her face and he thought he saw a glint of tears in her eyes, but dismissed it as wishful thinking on his part. He had always joked that he was her favorite, but she had never acknowledged that it was so, and after the last few months he had become convinced otherwise. He stared down at the leather jacket as she held it out to him, but he frowned and hesitated to accept it, raising his hand to briefly touch the hair at the back of his neck.
“Take it, Mr. Deeks,” she encouraged. “It’s cold out there.”
“Where have I heard that before,” he said rather unkindly.
“You’ve earned it Mr. Deeks,” she replied, ignoring his comment. “I hope it will remind you that you still have a home here when and if you change your mind.”
“That’s not going to happen, Hetty.”
“No, I suppose not,” she said, pressing the jacket into his hands. “But, we’ll see.”
Sometimes it isn’t so much inspiration that these writers take from an episode as it is a desire to correct something they disliked about it. This is the case for imahistorian, who says, “When I do write shorter stories or ones that are a reaction to an episode, then the show does have a heavy influence. Usually a story that is an episode reaction is directly because there’s something I felt was missing that I wanted to see.” Tess DiCorsi is another writer who regularly tries to counter plot developments she dislikes on the show. For example, she reacted to what she saw in Seasons 3 and 4 as Deeks being put “in situations where he was asked to perform at the highest level without knowing the big picture. While it was a great dramatic reveal at the end of ‘Rude Awakenings’ that Quinn was Sam’s wife, hours earlier Deeks is standing on the beach with Kensi, guns drawn and with cops around, holding two CIA Agents at bay while Sam tries to drown their boss. Why weren’t Kensi and Deeks told who Quinn was to Sam? It’s not like they can’t keep a secret. They are all on the same side. ‘Composed of Nows’ is a post ‘Wanted’ story but it brings in all the issues of being expected to perform without knowing what’s what in everything from ‘The Watchers’ to ‘Out of the Past’/’Rude Awakenings’ (and ‘Wanted’).”
Season 5 contained new developments that Tess felt compelled to respond to. “I wrote a lot of angry material last year,” she notes. “Not Deeks being angry about what was done to him and to Kensi, me being angry at the show’s direction. ‘Everyday I Write the Book’ was about 8,500 words of annoyance concerning the motorcycle and Hetty’s cryptic answers to why Kensi was sent away.” It “was me venting for Deeks.” Another story, “’Absence of Faith’ was Deeks’ unhappiness about why Kensi was sent away, why Deeks and the team were kept in the dark and the fallout from the picture of Kensi being kept up at Ops. Finally, the last two summers, I wrote long ‘what happens next’ stories that had to do with the finale.” She now sees Deeks as “a lot more jaded about his time at NCIS in general and Hetty in particular.”
“Do me a favor,” Sam asked.
“If I can.”
“Don’t do anything rash. I heard you offered to go back to LAPD if that meant Kensi could return. You would have gone back but she was here for other reasons.”
“Yeah, I would have gone back. I’ve thought for months that she was here because of me. I told Hetty that. And she didn’t do a damn thing to make me think otherwise. So when I saw Kensi dead with her throat cut, when I saw her walking back to the helicopter so badly beaten, when she collapsed in my arms like I’ve never seen before telling me what happened was so bad – yeah, I thought that was all my fault. And the one person who knew I thought this was fine letting me think that. Just like she was fine leaving you and me with the men who tortured us while she dangled Michelle in front of Sidorov. Just like she was fine with keeping Callen away from the investigation about the man who might have been his father.”
“No, Sam, I’m not doing anything rash. But sooner or later, I am going to do something because I can deal with the lies from the bad guys – they’re the bad guys. I don’t like what the lies from the good guys are doing to me and what they’re making me.”
Next time we’ll take a look at the Densi side of this discussion, at how events from TV inspire our writers to write their own stories about Deeks and Kensi’s thing.
Want to Read More?
To find the stories quoted above, follow these links:
phillydi, “Sweet Soul Violins”
Sweet Lu, “Button Up, Mr. Deeks”
Tess DiCorsi, “Absence of Faith”
We also asked each writer to recommend a short story they thought best represents their Deeks. thepixiesmademedoit offered one (quoted above) directly inspired from television events called “Phoenix.” “Not the shortest short story,” she says, “but… probably the one I’m most proud of. I tried to explore what Deeks might be going through post-torture and I like to think I managed to capture a lot of what makes Deeks who he is and how he might have feared losing all of that.”
Or, go back to the last Writing Deeks, Surfer Deeks.
A special thanks to @thewingsofnight for creating the wonderful artwork.