Writing Deeks: Fixing TV Densi
Before “Humbug” finally happened, fan fiction writers felt just as frustrated with Densi’s lack of progress as most everyone else. We talked to them about how this frustration affected the way they wrote Deeks and Kensi’s relationship, and whether things might change now that Densi is official.
She ducked her head and said softly, “Actually… I have a date.”
His eyes shot up to look at her and he felt all the air go out of his lungs as if he had been shot in the chest a second time. “A what?” he said shocked, not believing he had actually heard her say those four offending words.
“A date. You know, that thing you do sometimes with other women,” she said testily.
He was stunned and absolutely speechless. It was his own damn fault. He had been content to leave their ‘thing’ as it was and had never even bothered to talk to her about it. He assumed she hadn’t been dating since he hadn’t and the pain of knowing she was about to go out with another man was more incapacitating than that of the gun shot.
He finally found his voice and said softly, “Good night Kens.” He got up and walked as quickly as he was able to his car. He had to get away. The pain in his chest was nothing compared to the pain in his heart.
– Kadiedid, “Please Don’t Go”
Many of the fan fiction writers we interviewed found the lengthy will-they-or-won’t-they aspect of Deeks and Kensi’s “thing” the most difficult part of them to capture. At the pre-“Humbug” time of these interviews, many were feeling downright discouraged by it. “Their reluctance to get together” has been the hardest thing for peanutbutterer to capture. “At this point in the show the roadblocks between them that we’ve been presented with are tenuous at best so it’s a struggle to write them and rationally keep them apart.” She described the distinct and logical progression she once saw in their relationship, noting, “That’s been lost for me since the uneven arc of the fourth season. It bounced back and forth into place and there has definitely been growth, but it’s no longer logical for me. Honestly, the only thing I seem to be inspired to write anymore is ways for them to fix what I feel has been lost.”
Similarly, Bamie02 found it difficult to capture their pre-“Humbug” status. “Kensi has stepped up, talking and reassuring more while Deeks has taken the obvious step back this time,” she described. “Trying to find that medium and where/how it will go from here” has been difficult. Tess DiCorsi experienced similar frustrations, explaining that the hardest thing to capture about Densi was “Trying to even out the show’s odd take on Kensi and Deeks [pre-Season 6]. She got him through the rough times, it’s a love story– OK. It becomes a love story but neither of them can be ‘covert’ about it to the point that Kensi doesn’t even change her shirt? They pine for each other while they’re separated, she’s the most important thing in the world to him but some random screw-up has Deeks convinced they’re a disaster. Feh.” Or, as phillidi expressed even more bluntly, “I either want them either to sh*t or get off the pot. I’m tired of all the waiting, it’s not normal. I don’t care if they break up and get back together or never get back together. People who are in love just don’t act like this!!!”
For peanutbutterer, “Season 4 was the season that had me furiously typing at the keyboard. I think that by Season 5 I had reached a point where I was too frustrated- that things were too far gone for me to save. The twisting and turning I’d have to do to manipulate the situation into something I was a fan of was just too much. So there comes a point when the frustration becomes too much. There’s a line between being frustrated enough to want to fix it and so frustrated you just want to give up. It’s a fine one, and for me, LA has landed on both sides of it.”
“There seems to be a prevailing idea in television that it’s the path you take to get there that’s the best and afterwards you’re left with all the boring domestic stuff, but I don’t subscribe to that,” peanutbutterer continued. “I think there are plenty of great things to mine and explore once they’ve actually committed to each other and stopped the will-they/won’t-they dance- a dance that can grow old after a time. I think that the Densi relationship we have seen on screen [pre-Season 6 was] treading dangerously close to reaching the point where the journey’s become too ridiculous and contrived. I like to write the moment where they get together and I’ll continue to write it over and over, but that doesn’t mean that it should be the final destination in the show.”
Thank goodness the showrunners finally brought Deeks and Kensi together!
He wasn’t even really sure he was ready to call their relationship anything more than a partnership or friendship. Just because he knew he felt more for her didn’t make it easy for him to put a label on it and change everything about how they worked together. But at a minimum he knew there were aspects of their relationship, feelings that had to do with trust and possessiveness, that bled into how they thought about each other. He wasn’t necessarily looking to put a ring on her finger. But he felt like they couldn’t keep going in the same cyclical pattern of ignoring what Kensi didn’t want to talk about.
And then she’d gone and done the unexpected, pulling the rug out from underneath him once again. She refused to consider their relationship beyond partners and friends but she couldn’t help those reactions that gave her away. There was something more there, even if she didn’t want to acknowledge it. And although Deeks had retreated and allowed Kensi to put that physical and emotional distance between them, it wasn’t because he wanted to. He didn’t really know how to reach her. But that didn’t mean he wouldn’t try. Just as soon as he figured out a plan of attack.
– imahistorian, “Take Me Out”
Our frustrated fan fiction writers dealt with their unhappiness by doing what they do best: telling the version of Densi’s story they wished they were seeing on television. Tess DiCorsi said, “If I’m writing something for late Season 5 or in the future, they’re a couple. I don’t understand why the program (or the mothership or the mothership’s mothership) thinks the tease is better than a real relationship.”
Even peanutbutterer found ways to handle her exasperation. “I think, for me, frustration can be a great motivator for writing fanfic,” she explained. “When I’m upset about what the show has done, it’s cathartic to try my hand at fixing it. A lot of times that comes in the form of post-eps, picking up where the show left off and addressing things that they didn’t get around to, but I feel are important to the characters. Sometimes it’s more in-depth than that- actually finding a way to modify what the writers have done and turn it into something that I like better.”
More specifically, we got stories that showed that Deeks and Kensi could overcome their lack of communication and become a real couple. Tess DiCorsi, for example, wrote a story (“The Matrix”, part of “With My Pen and Electric Typewriter” ) that “worked on the idea that the two of them could talk and move forward with their relationship without using raccoons.” phillydi said, “I always try to explain why Kensi or Deeks are being hesitant in the relationship and then resolve the issue over the course of the fic.” She went on to explain, “I just didn’t see this as a realistic relationship on TV. I didn’t care that they worked together. If the attraction was that strong they were going to be sharing a physical relationship eventually. So, I tried in my stories to write about what would make their relationship seem real to me. There was some problem communicating but it’s usually resolved by the end of the fic. It’s all those romances I read as a girl, I’m afraid. The lack of resolution [on TV] drove me crazy.”
Other writers developed a version of Deeks more ready to handle an adult relationship. ZBBZL said of her Deeks, “I also don’t treat him like he’s a teenager: his relationship with Kensi is, I think, more mature in my stories. I’m tired of the one step forward, two steps backwards dance they do in the show. I don’t do that in my stories. So, yeah, my Deeks is maybe a little deeper and more mature.” imahistorian’s Deeks has similarly evolved. “I think the way I generally write Deeks is as a bit more settled in who he is,” she says. “Through a series of stories I’ve written he’s gone through situations that have allowed him to be confident in who he is and more open and sensitive as a man and as a romantic interest for Kensi. Clearly the show has not quite taken that path.”
And as he often liked to do after a night of intimacy, he studied her as she slept there beside him in the early morning hours of the next day.
Every detail of her face was already ingrained in his memory, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t enjoy her beauty in person, too.
Deeks laid on his side, propped up by one elbow as he gazed solemnly down at her.
He brushed a stray lock of hair off her cheek, toying with the silky strands as they slipped through his fingers.
“I love you,” he softly whispered — the first time either of them had ever spoken those words to the other person.
– Belle Walker, “Someday”
So now that Densi is together together, will it change the way this group of writers writes them? “Going forward, yes, I think them being an established couple will, I guess not change the way I write them, necessarily, but change what I write about,” says peanutbutterer. “I really hope that the established Deeks/Kensi we see on the screen isn’t very different from the UST Densi we’ve had all these years. I’m a firm believer in the idea that things don’t have to suddenly shift- that the banter and the chemistry and the fun that has always been Deeks and Kensi can continue now that another layer has been added. I’ve tried to make that the case in the fanfic I’ve written- attempting, at least, to keep them the same characters, just placing them in different situations. So I won’t be writing as many ‘how they get together’ fics- though I imagine they won’t stop completely- but I think they’ll still be the Deeks and Kensi I’ve enjoyed writing up to this point.”
Tess DiCorsi’s writing may be less affected by recent developments. She says, “I’ve usually written them as involved so there is not going to be a lot of adjusting for me to do. Any change would likely be in how the other team members react. I think the show is going with my favorite idea– they’re involved, not hiding it but not advertising it either, everyone in the office is either willingly ignorant or just don’t care.” And phillydi sees no need for change, saying, “No, it won’t affect my writing at all, I’ll always want to see them together despite the angst and drama. It’s their destiny.”
“Deeks, do you trust me?”
“Why would you ask me something like that?” Deeks replied totally off guard.
“Because it matters.” Kensi whispered.
“Trust always matters when it comes to us, Kensi,” Deeks spoke softly. He stood up and walked away from Kensi because he knew if he tried to span the distance between them, the conversation would stop. He had been waiting so long for Kensi to gather the courage to speak from her heart; he didn’t want to jeopardize the moment.
“Kensi, I will always trust you because that comes from experience and respect. And respect… that comes from love. Nothing can change that. I only wish you can feel how important you are to me,” Deeks felt as if his heart would burst from out of his chest.
– phillydi, “Venus Rising”
Next week we’re changing gears to explore how our group of writers has handled the lack of information about Deeks’ past, and their desire to fill in the blanks in the backstory of Mysterious Deeks.
Want to Read More?
To find the stories quoted above, follow these links:
Kadiedid, “Please Don’t Go”
imahistorian, “Take Me Out”
Belle Walker, “Someday”
phillydi, “Venus Rising”
We also asked each writer to recommend a short story they thought best represents their Densi. Two gave us stories, quoted above, which feature a Densi that’s finally fighting past their will-they-or-won’t-they stage. imahistorian’s “Take Me Out” “is a story from both Deeks’ and Kensi’s points of view,” she describes. “I wanted to put them in a situation where Deeks’ worlds (LAPD and NCIS) could collide in a way where Kensi would start to question her feelings for him and Deeks’ feelings for her but slightly away from the usual dangers of their jobs. So I set it against a charity baseball game and added a few misunderstandings for good measure. And injury to Kensi for Deeks to overreact to.”
Kadiedid’s “Please Don’t Go” is “probably the one that best represents the way I see them and would like to see them on the show. They are partners and are very close but something happens and Deeks finally takes a bold step toward bringing them together. Like in ‘The Frozen Lake’ he finally says what he means and it changes everything.”
Or, go back to the last Writing Deeks, Episode Inspired Densi.
A special thanks to @thewingsofnight for creating the wonderful artwork.
Very interesting article that mentions two of my favourite Densi fanfictions: “Please don’t go” (every time I read it I can’t help being moved by the wonderful way in which Deeks’ feelings and jealousy are described…) and “The Matrix” (how much I like that determined Kensi!).
I think that fanfiction writers who were able to write very beautiful stories before Densi got together are still doing a great job now that they are officially All in!
Over the past few weeks I have read very captivating fanfictions where Densi are together that have not lost anything of the magic these stories had before they became a couple.
So, what I want to say is that the writer’s style and choice of words and situations are crucial and Densi being together only adds something but it’s not everything.
Anyway, I have also to say that some of my favourite all time stories belong to the time Densi were not together (in the TV show) and super talented fanfiction writers helped them to overcome all obstacles and bumps in their road! At that time that kind of fanfictions was a balm, a medicine, a cure for the sadness after frustrating episodes where Densi danced around each other endlessly and never got anywhere.
Thanks Cladani. I agree with everything you are saying. It’s interesting to me that now that Densi is official, I think I’ve seen a shift in the proportion of stories written with them as a couple. And they have definitely not lost anything by doing so. On the other hand, those will-they-or-won’t-they stories really probably are my favorites too. So maybe the showrunners were doing us a favor by dragging things out for so long, in order to give us plenty of time for fan fics on that topic!
Good thoughts. The Jam is right though, some times the show can be so frustrating that you can’t motivate yourself to try to “fix” it anymore (that happened to me after Three Hearts). Hopefully the relationship will be portrayed in a logical, consistent manner going forward now that allows our imaginations to run wild again.
Thanks hermionesmydawg. The Jam is always right! We are all rooting for logical and consistent. And seeing that Dave Kalstein can return to form gives me hope that we might actually get it.
I love this.
Pre-Humbug, I always really enjoyed the stories that didn’t drag out the will-they-wont-they of Densi. Like the writers above stated, I just never felt like so much back and forth was that realistic. It was always great to read stories that “fixed” a lot of the issues with pre-Humbug Densi – both specific issues that we saw in eps (like post-eps to Ascension and Impact that expanded the end scenes to give us more. Some of my favorite post-eps are for Drive where Kensi does whatever she can to make up for forgetting Deeks’ birthday – thepixiesmademedoit’s “Ice Cream, Confessions, and the Wingnut Board” is probably one of my all time favorite fics) or even just in general (like them taking so freaking long to get together or anything that gave us something to insert into the post-Spoils of War/pre-S6 space because aside from stupid Three Hearts, I feel like we were so in the dark with regards to Densi).
I have been LOVING the post-canon Densi stories these past couple of months. Even with all the pre-canon stuff out there, I think them being together “for real” has opened up a whole new world of possibilities (you could even say that the possibilities are endless!).
Keep up the great work, writers! You guys inspire me and give me feels 🙂
Thanks Kara! I don’t know what I would have done without all those corrective post-ep fics. They provided such a great outlet for my frustration over the show’s direction. And yes- there’s been something about the Densi Together stories post-Humbug that just made them extra special. I wouldn’t have expected to have that reaction, but I’ve definitely gotten an extra level of enjoyment out of them.
Great topic and discussion, Karen! This is the reason I love Fanfic. I remember searching for spoilers and interviews about NCIS LA specifically about Deeks and whether Densi would ever come to be and stumbled upon fanfic. It was so gratifying to read stories post ep that had an outcome more in line with what I was envisioning. I can’t count the number of times that I would sigh and mutter “if only this would happen onscreen”. For me, the fanfic writers kept me from becoming too frustrated with the pace on-screen. As usual, I love the fanfic writer insights. Always grateful for fanfic writers!
BTW, I have enjoyed reading ZBBZL’s thoughts in this and previous columns…any chance of coming back into the fold and writing some more Densi fanfic, ZBBZL? 😊. A reader can wish.
Ah yes, ZBBZL is one of my favorites too. I’m not sure whether anything will lure her back, but you never know… And I agree about the post-eps. I am beginning to realize that I’ve been thinking about fan fic all wrong. Instead of something to alleviate my frustrations with the show, I think I might as well look at it as completing my experience. The TV version will never be everything that I want it to be, so instead of getting annoyed, I should just look at it as chapter 1 in a two-chapter story that is completed in fan fic form. Maybe that will improve my sometimes grumpy attitude!
Thanks so much! It’s amazing to see how much we all can relate to this ‘ship’ and even more interesting to see how much we all have been so frustrated with their progress or lack thereof! On that, I think we all are on the same page! Great job again with all of your research!
Thanks Karen. And yes, I think even those few who wanted them to take it slow and work out their issues before going all in are actually pleased with the recent change in their status. The fandom is united in happiness!
Thank you to ALL of the incredible fanfiction writers! Personally so Happy Densi is Finally Together!!
Couldn’t agree more Rhonda- well said!