One of the best things about fan fiction is that it gives us all a chance to read a version of events that contains different, maybe even more satisfying, developments from what we see on television. The fan fiction writers we interviewed frequently use their writing as an outlet to elaborate on TV events, or even to change things they disliked. This is certainly the case when it comes to Densi.
He’s standing on a frozen lake…
…It’s a dream- a dream so realistic and so painful at the same time. At the same time of his realization, the ice below his feet won’t hold up much longer. “Kensi, move!”
“I thought you listened to the Gurkha.”
The ice inches in front of him suddenly shifts forward and dips into the water. He has seconds left to save her and if there’s time, himself as well. “I listened to him, Kens. I was patient and I went slow! It’s been so hard- I tried!”
Kensi’s eyes fall to the cracking ice. “Why didn’t you wait?”
“I waited!” Deeks looks down to see he’s out of time. In the last second before he falls through the ice and into the frigid water, he hears only his ragged, effortless breath. And then nothing.
In reality, he isn’t drowning and thrashing under the three inches of ice. Marty Deeks is slipping in and out of consciousness on the hospital bed he currently lies on. He has no idea of the chaotic car ride from OPS or of the absolutely flabbergasted looks on the emergency room attendants’ faces as Sam carried him in. All he knows is that he’s drowning and he’s not even sure he wants to break out of the ice.
– aslycsi1315, “8 weeks”
TV Deeks and Kensi’s relationship has been ever-evolving, and our writers have found themselves reacting to the changes. For ZeGabz, “[‘Recovery‘] changed everything. The question went from, ‘Will they ever get together?’ to ‘How will they work this out?’ And that changes a lot, especially in regards to the characters’ mindsets during stories. This new intimacy adds layers upon layers to even the smallest interactions. Kensi’s reactions to Deeks’ dirty jokes change, Deeks’ protectiveness becomes even more pronounced… yeah, it changed a lot.”
phillydi has continued some of the more major storylines from the show, such as a follow-up she wrote to “Plan B,” called “Touché”. Jericho Steele draws inspiration from all sorts of smaller Densi moments. “Some of my best ideas about Deeks have come from what didn’t happen in the show, almost as much as what did happen,” he says. “I’ve used a lot of the banter between he and Kensi, taking it a little further along than on the show (they give us so much, it’s hard to choose sometimes). Anything involving ‘I’m fine’, one of his nicknames for his partner, Kensi trying to crack a joke, touché, Monty… and the list goes on.”
The more she looked at it, the more she felt sorry for it.
And the more she felt guilty for rejecting it in the first place.
He’d given it to her out of endearment, not impudence. And out of a joke, yes…but a joke shared between just the two of them and nobody else.
It was cute that he’d given her a gift that reflected the nickname that he’d also given her.
And rejecting the plant had kind of meant something similar to rejecting the man. She understood that now.
Rising from her seat, she traveled the few steps separating her desk from her partner’s. She picked up the pathetic fern, cupping its small yellow pot gently between her hands.
A trip to the restroom for a refreshing dampening of its soil, and the fern was placed once again in its former spot on her desk.
Oh, what irony that the very thing she’d despised at the beginning would be the one thing to keep her company until its giver returned to her.
– Belle Walker, “Fern’s fern”
These writers often find themselves motivated to address Densi events from television that they aren’t so happy with. It’s quite satisfying to fix something that didn’t happen on TV the way the writer felt it should have. This opportunity to correct a perceived wrong, or to include a clearly missing element, drives a lot of Densi writing. Sweet Lu, for example, has “done stories that give a different point of view of a scene I didn’t like, which I did with the scene of Talia and Kensi vying for Deeks’ attention in the boat shed” (in “Come On”).
Jericho Steele handles his dissatisfaction another way. “Sometimes, the show just frustrates me to the point that I need to throw something,” he explains. “Well, instead of doing that, I try to use my stories to expound upon the idea the show presented. In the show, Kensi lost her dad at the age of fifteen. I used some of that [in ‘Aunt Hetty’] to build not only her relationship with other characters, but with Deeks as well. I referred to Deeks’ shooting in the ‘Personal’ episode to cause Kensi to appreciate the fact that, in their jobs, tomorrow is not a given and they could lose each other at any time.”
Several controversial events have created a stir in the fandom and triggered many resulting fan fiction stories. For peanutbutterer, such incidents have changed the way she writes Densi. “They used to be so much lighter and bantery and flirty and fun,” she says. “Now everything I write is shadowed with all these issues the show never resolved. Whether I address it or not there’s always the lingering presence of Monica, of ‘Drive,’ the punch, and the traumas they experienced during their tortures. Unless it’s completely AU it’s hard to rationalize them ever truly being back in the place they were in the earlier seasons.” She adds, “Here’s a specific example: I’ll never write a playful punch again.”
“You get mad at something I do – or don’t do – fine. Yell at me, throw things, or knock the shit out of a punching bag. Hell you want to hit me again? Then we can spar and you can beat my ass on the mat. But don’t ever punch me in anger. Ever. I told you last night I can take the punches to the arm and the jabs you dish out just fine, I don’t want you to think that’s a problem. You wouldn’t be Kensi, we wouldn’t be us if that stopped. But this will never work if I have to wonder what’s going to happen if I piss you off again, because I know I will. It’s inevitable.”
“We have horrible communication skills. That’s what led us here. Neither one of us ever says what we really mean. But I’m working on it, and up until that afternoon after I took the shot, I was the only one who was really trying. You talk a lot about saying what you really mean, but you don’t. You want me to give something without getting anything in return. I’m trying here Kensi. But I’m not going to keep putting myself out there if I’m not going to get anything in return. That’s bullshit. You want words, not actions. Well, I’m throwing that back at you.”
– Bamie02, “Little of this, Little of that”
Several writers feel their writing has evolved due to the traumatic events Deeks and Kensi suffered through in Season 5. “Well, obviously it has changed,” says bookdiva. “I mean, several defining moments have happened for them, even in the past year. Deeks after the torture is not the same as Deeks before the torture. Just as Kensi and Deeks before Afghanistan isn’t the same as Kensi and Deeks after Afghanistan. Those events play a huge role in their relationship, and therefore, that changes the way that I write about their relationship.” For aslycsi1315, “I’ve added more angst during their confessions with the hard cases that have been added during the show, such as Deeks in the hospital or Deeks and Kensi having to run from their lives because of the show… ‘Ascension’ and ‘Spoils of War’ have served as triggers for them giving into their feels because in many of my stories that run along both episodes have had Deeks and Kensi realizing that the opportunity may not be there again.”
“I’m sorry I left, Deeks. I’m sorry for every time I left. The literal times and the figurative times. I know you don’t want to hear it, but I need to say it. I am sorry.”
“I know, Kens,” he said, and the way he was so understanding… it just killed me inside.
“No,” I burst out, “you don’t know. You’re smarter than me Deeks,” I said. Normally such a confession would prompt some sort of sarcastic retort, but now his eyes only went wide in surprise. “You’re smart and loyal and dependable, and I have no doubt that you would have found a way to get me out, if the roles were reversed. But I couldn’t think of anything. I just want you to know that it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, leaving you there, in the warehouse, bloody and beaten and…” I trailed off, unable to continue until his hand on my arm brought me back from that awful place.
“And in the hospital, you wouldn’t look at me, and I couldn’t blame you,” I said, trying to ignore the tears that I could suddenly feel streaming down my cheeks. “There was nothing I could do for you, they were putting you under, and I just… I wanted to go kill him,” I finished in a whisper. “Slowly and painfully.”
I made myself look up into his eyes. This was the make or break part.
“I’m messed up, Deeks,” I said. I could tell he just quirked a smile because I so obviously wanted him to. “But I love you. Not just as a partner, and not just as a friend, but as…” I searched for the right words, but nothing came. “As you.”
– bookdiva, “And I Didn’t”
And finally, a cautionary note. Too many frustrating plot points and disappointing character developments on television can drive a fan fiction writer away from the fandom altogether. Sadly, this happened to ZBBZL, who no longer writes NCIS:LA fan fiction. “I guess that if I was still writing,” she says, “I would completely ignore Season 5. In all honesty, I would ignore most of what happened after ‘Drive.’ Sure, the sunshine and gunpowder thing was perfect, but Kensi changed dramatically in ‘Drive’ and from then on, and I lost almost all love and respect I had for her. ‘Parley’ is possibly, with ‘Drive,’ the episode I hated the most. So, I guess you could say that the events of the show did affect my writing – I stopped writing.“
No single Densi-related topic has driven our fiction writers crazier than the lengthy will-they-or-won’t-they storyline of television Densi. They had a lot to say on this topic, so we’ll talk about it in detail on next week’s Writing Deeks.
Want to Read More?
To find the stories quoted above, follow these links:
aslycsi1315, “8 weeks”
Belle Walker, “Fern’s fern”
Bamie02, “Little of this, Little of that”
bookdiva, “And I Didn’t”
We also asked each writer to recommend a short story they thought best represents their Densi. Four authors named a story that was directly inspired from a television episode. In chronological order, we start with an offering from imahistorian called “Camisoles, Corduroy, and Lip Balm,” a series of post-“Lone Wolf” drabbles about Deeks doing Kensi’s laundry for a month. It “is told directly through [Deeks’] eyes and I wrote it to try and examine how he thinks and reacts to Kensi,” she describes. “It was a real challenge to write directly from his perspective (and also from the perspective of a man), but it was also incredibly fun to come up with situations for him to realize his feelings for Kensi might be deeper than he thought.”
Next there’s ZeGabz’s post-“The Debt” story “Burned.” She says, “It has a grittiness that I was never able to recreate. It’s one of the few stories I’ve written from Deeks’ perspective, and it gave me an opportunity to explore the competitiveness in Densi’s relationship. I got to explore how Deeks would respond to a challenge, and also how Kensi would respond to him actually saying what she wants to hear. There’s something fascinating about their back and forth in regards to what they say to each other- Kensi wants him to express his feelings, but she’s terrified of what he’ll say. Deeks wants Kensi to open up, but he’s afraid he’ll let her down.”
thepixiesmademedoit wrote “Ice Cream, Confessions and the Wingnut Board” as a follow-up to the infamous “Drive.” “I like to think I got them pretty close to how they are on the show here,” she describes. ”There were light-hearted moments and some banter, but at the center was the real feelings and emotions they have for each other.”
peanutbutterer wrote “Make Believe” as “a post-ep for an episode that would have been during his undercover with Monica and it shows how that would have affected his life and his choices and his relationship/partnership with Kensi. I’m eternally upset that he essentially lived a double life for a long period of time- unbeknownst to the person closest to him- and the show never explored it, and this was my way of dealing with that frustration.”
Or, go back to the last Writing Deeks, Episode Inspired Deeks.
A special thanks to @thewingsofnight for creating the wonderful artwork.