And so we come to the end of Writing Deeks. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the course of this series, it’s that every writer- and every reader- has his or her own version of Marty Deeks. There are so many different facets to his character that we each focus on those we find most compelling. No matter how you personally see him, he’s made a powerful impact on NCIS: Los Angeles and provided tremendous inspiration for fan fiction writers driven to tell more of his story.
When she meets his eyes he tries his best to convey how serious he is. He’s got a lot of flaws – for all his false bravado, he knows this. He knows he’s not the ideal partner, knows he’s hurt her before and is likely to hurt her again, but he’d never abandon her. Kensi’s greatest heartbreak comes when the people she loves leave, and he’ll be damned if he allows that to happen again.
She smiles slightly before responding.
“Yeah, Hetty’d kick your ass if you left us without two weeks’ notice.”
“She’d kick my ass if I left at all.”
“There’s that,” she concedes. “You fulfill her daily dose of cheekiness.”
“Charm,” he corrects. “Plus, I’m cute.”
“Plus, you’re -“
He grins. “I almost got you to say it.”
Some of us focus on the lighter aspects of his personality, that wonderful smile and sense of humor, that sexy laugh. Others are fascinated by his dark side, his self-doubt and his ability to transform himself into an even darker alter ego named Max. Still others focus on his relationship with his kick-ass partner, from the flirtatious banter to the all in commitment, and beyond to marriage and babies. Marty Deeks really does offer something for everyone.
peanutbutterer concurs, saying, “I think there are tons of different versions of Deeks. I don’t think I figure that out through my own reviews so much as through the reviews of other writers. When I read a fic and I find the characterization really out of character, I go check the reviews and more often than not find things along the lines of ‘I can totally see Deeks doing this!’ and ‘You’ve really nailed it!’ which just tells me that the Deeks in their heads and the Deeks that lives in mine aren’t the same. And that’s okay. The show is (and the characters are) what we take from it. There’s no right or wrong- and that’s what fuels so much of the fandom discourse that I thrive on. It’s what brings us to this crazy corner of the Internet, after all- meeting people who enjoy the same show and joining them in enriching and expanding our experience. Sometimes that means showing us a new and different way of looking at the same material.”
Jericho Steele adds, “There are as many different views of Deeks as there are number of readers of fanfic!… Some readers only see him as Kensi’s partner, others only see him in the realm of Densi, or that he’s Hetty’s favorite, or he’s a pest to Sam, or as Max Gentry… well, you get the picture. All of that’s okay but sometimes it sells him short, like he only has one purpose and anything outside of that is nothing interesting or worth their time. But it’s all of that and so much more that makes him a fan favorite, and there’s so much of him that we may never see play out on the show… but we can hope.”
As these articles took shape, I found it interesting how an individual writer would emerge to take center stage in a particular post. It makes sense though. I can’t think about witty banter without thinking of peanutbutterer, angst without Jessica237, original characters without Sweet Lu, or Competent Deeks without Tess DiCorsi. Look at the extreme difference in outlook between Belle Walker, who prefers the lighter side of things, and ZBBZL, who loves the angst. Belle compares Densi to other fandoms by saying, “There’s much more opportunity for humor and flirting while keeping them still in character. Other fandoms have been more drama-centered with just one or two clever quips here and there so as not to deviate from the personalities established on the shows. With Densi, you can have ten pages of nothing but humorous banter, and that could fit them perfectly.” ZBBZL, on the other hand, says, “…all these damaged characters are a proof that you can overcome your past and misery. It’ll hurt, it’ll be hard, it’ll be hell, but it’s possible, and I think it’s necessary to show this because there are tons of victims out there, tons of people who suffer and suffered from trauma and abuse, and they deserve to be well-developed and treated on screen.” The amazing thing is that they’re both right.
“This is about your father isn’t it? If you want to talk about it, I’m here. Or even if you don’t, I’m still here. I’m not going anywhere,” she whispered gently.
Deeks closed his eyes and tried to stop the tears but he was unsuccessful. Kensi reached out and wrapped her arms around him. As quiet sobs shuddered through him, she couldn’t help but feel anger toward the person in his life that was supposed to love and care for him unconditionally. His father had broken his spirit in more ways than one and it was a miracle he had managed to find the strength to not only survive it but to also rise above it.
“Deeks, it’s okay. I’m here….shhhh. He’s gone and he’s not worth remembering anyway. It’s okay.” She managed to kick off her shoes and climb up on the couch and lay beside. She pulled him closer to her and kissed him lightly on his forehead. He was a broken little boy and she needed him to find his way back to the man he had become.
“It’s OK Deeks. You’re not that little boy anymore. Sure he was a tough kid who put up a fight to survive but in a strange way, it made you a better man. You are the most caring man I’ve ever met. You’re sensitive but that doesn’t mean you aren’t strong. You’re tough and fearless and you are extremely protective and fiercely loyal. You are nothing like your father and you never will be. It’s not who you are.”
My own personal version of Marty Deeks is primarily a combination of Doubting Deeks and Underdog Deeks, with a bit of Funny Deeks and of course a smidgeon of Surfer Deeks. What’s great about fan fiction is that I can find stories that contain a Deeks very similar to mine, but I can also enjoy those that feature one with a different combination of traits. As long as he’s well written, I still recognize him as the character I love.
“I think all readers have their own view of Deeks and I’ve been lucky of having 99% of my readers respect that and still enjoy the story,” says aslycsi1315. thepixiesmademedoit knows that “It’d be naive to believe [that readers don’t see different versions of Deeks]. I don’t doubt that every reader has their own version in their mind, just like every writer does. Often times those variances are probably quite small, and other times they might be significant.” Belle Walker observes, “I think all readers and all writers too have a slightly different interpretation of Deeks from anyone else. Some read him with a humorous slant, some with more seriousness, others with a bold intensity, and even some with a darker interpretation of his personality.”
There is a limit of course, which Jericho Steele points out. “The wonderful thing about fanfic,” he says, “is that I can basically write Deeks in any way I please. I could make him… a total chauvinistic pig who only makes derogatory comments about Kensi and how well she fills out her tight jeans. He could be so super-duper sensitive that he can’t watch a sunset or talk about dolphins without breaking out in tears. But there are fans out there that will hold a writer accountable if they push the limit too far and change him too much, and I think, that’s a good thing.”
For many of us, Deeks was the piece of the NCIS:LA puzzle we didn’t know we were missing. He completes the team, and Kensi, so perfectly that it’s hard to believe he wasn’t part of the showrunners’ original plans. Part of filling this role involves his accessibility. “To me he is the perfect man without being unreachable or untouchable,” says philldi. “I felt immediately as if we could be great friends, someone that I would love to hang out with, and of course eventually fall in love with.” As thepixiesmademedoit observes, “Not only is he one of the more open characters on the show, but he’s also the most ‘everyday’ character too… We also see more of the real Deeks than we probably do of any of the other characters. He is more open in his thoughts and feeling, less guarded in his emotions. Also as the non-agent in the team… he has asked the questions we’ve wanted/needed the answers to, the abbreviations and codes used by the team have been explained to us through Deeks. He’s been the viewers’ character.”
Jericho Steele sees him “as an incredibly skilled undercover detective sudden thrust into the world of secrets, plans within plans, bio-terror, nuclear warheads, and people who aren’t who they say they are… I hate to use the term fish-out-of-water, but there have been times he may have felt a bit overwhelmed by the situation he found himself in.” But he goes on to point out that Deeks “is a complex person who brings skills to the table that the others either don’t have or don’t use enough to become second nature to them. He completes the team in a way Dom never did. No offense meant to that character, but he wasn’t a compliment to Kensi or her skills. She was too driven and determined, like she was a spring wound a little too tight and Deeks was the only one to finally get her to loosen up a little bit.” Or, as Tess DiCorsi observes about Densi, “They’re great alone but they’re at their best as a pair.”
His eyes never straying from hers, he shifts closer to her, doing away with most of the empty space left between them. “Sometimes…something works okay for awhile. And then, you find something that actually does feel right. And what worked before will never work again.”
This time, she can’t stop it– she trembles. He’s reading her mind, finding the words she’s unable to string together. “Kinda philosophical there, Deeks. You– you speak from experience?”
He gives a low, throaty chuckle, flicking his tongue over his lips. “Two years ago,” he begins quietly, using the same beginning she’d used, “I couldn’t work with anyone.” Deeks pauses, reconsiders. “Well. Actually, it was them. Rest of the LAPD, I mean- they just swore they couldn’t work with me. That’s why I worked most of my undercovers on my own. Come to think of it, I was on my own long before that.” His lips quirk in a slight grin. “I guess I’m complicated. Thing is, though,” he continues, serious once more, “you and me…this is the longest partnership I’ve ever been in, and…”
He trails off, glancing quickly to the ground. “Sometimes the pieces just fit, and no matter how hard you try, you can’t take them apart.”
imahistorian’s Deeks has changed over time. “When I look back at the first story I wrote with Deeks, almost 4 years ago, and the story I’m writing now, he’s a vastly different character. He’s changed from a single guy with a pretty simple existence, who was pretty much unwanted by the LAPD, to a federal agent and member of a team, to a family man, and a husband and a father. He’s gone from not having a lot of personal connections and not having people count on him to being a pivotal part in many people’s lives.” thepixiesmademedoit thinks this change is inevitable. “I think as you mature and develop as a writer the style of your stories naturally follows,” she says, “whether it’s in the subject matter or just the way in which you say things. However, more importantly, 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.”
The very act of telling a story- of keeping faithful to some version of Deeks while painting a picture of the world around him, all while creating conflict that generates humor or suspense- is to me a magical thing. It is something I have no hope of doing, and I am grateful that we have so many gifted writers in this fandom who can tell such wonderful stories. The group I interviewed only scratches the surface. I’m sorry I couldn’t have included more, but then this series would have stretched on to an interminable length! I’m very glad to have seen all the visits to fanfiction.net Writing Deeks has generated, and I hope you have left some kind feedback as you’ve read these writers’ stories.
The best fan fiction writers are simply, writers, without the need of any qualifiers. Those who have so generously given their time to us at wikiDeeks all share one thing: a love for the character of Marty Deeks. Sweet Lu describes her approach to writing Deeks, saying, “I follow two distinct directions when I write. One for my short stories where I adhere more closely to the vibes from the show and one where I allow Deeks and myself to explore other, more far reaching adventures and psychological examinations. I can put him in any situation, in any country and at any juncture of his life. It’s why I love writing fan fiction, especially about Deeks.”
And we mustn’t forget Densi. “Something about them just makes me love writing them,” says Jessica237, “and even though I have my… issues with [Season 5] of LA, I’m still at this point where I can’t imagine writing another pairing or fandom right now.” peanutbutterer says that writing Densi is different from other fandoms “because the dynamic is different. The relationship between Kensi and Deeks is so unique- their own histories and shared experiences are so influential in their interactions. No pairing I’ve written before has been quite like them and no pairing I write in the future will be either.”
aslycsi1315 finds writing Densi a unique experience. ”I have written five other stories [for other fandoms] with a couple getting together and it isn’t nearly as fun and satisfying as Densi. I think because I’m so in love with Densi, it makes me a little biased. They are the quintessential love story in the loyalty and love you see with every glance and smile between them.” bookdiva notes, “I have also written for [other fandoms]… Densi will always be my favorite. While I love the other couples, none of them have a) the chemistry of Densi, and most importantly b) the character of Deeks.”
ZeGabz has experience writing fanfics for Once Upon a Time, “a fantasy show.” Densi is, in a way, more difficult to portray. “They live in a world where magic can’t fill a plot hole,” she says. “When I write for Deeks, I always try to make it feel raw and organic. But, one thing that rings true no matter what I’m writing for is the sincerity of the characters’ emotions. Even though they lead different lives, Captain Hook and Marty Deeks both feel emotions intensely, and that’s something I always try to capture.”
Or as Belle Walker summed up, “I’ve actually got ten different fandoms under my author’s belt, and I don’t recall any of them ever having a character like Deeks. He’s really one-of-a-kind.”
“Do I need to be worried? I mean, I can do the mystery look too you know.” Deeks walked up to Kensi, bumping her shoulder.
“I’m pretty sure the only look you can do is the shaggy surfer.” Sam just couldn’t resist, making everyone laugh.
Nate stood back, watching the group. He remembered, before Deeks came on, how quiet everyone would be. There was jokes and laughter, yes, but this camaraderie that they had now since Deeks joined, it was enlightening. He also saw the way Kensi and Deeks looked at each other. Well, that’s interesting. Wonder if anything ever came of that little ‘relationship.’
It was nearly one year ago that I sent my first interview requests out to this wonderful group of writers, and 29 installments later, it’s been nothing but a pleasure to work with them on this series. Their generosity is much appreciated, in both their time responding to my “just one more” follow-up questions, and their willingness to share so much of themselves and the reasons why they write Deeks. Thanks to them, and to all of you who have read Writing Deeks!
Want to Read More?
Check out this great article in Time magazine about fan fiction: The Boy Who Lived Forever
Go back to last week’s Writing Deeks: Two Thumbs Up.
You can find all the participating writers on their Fanfiction.net pages:
aslycsi1315: angst, hurt/comfort
Bamie02: romance, humor (“Smile Sunshine” quoted above)
bookdiva: romance, angst
Belle Walker: humor, romance
imahistorian: romance, crime, friendship
Jericho Steele: angst, drama, friendship
Jessica237: romance, angst (“Jigsaw” quoted above)
Kadiedid: romance, drama, humor (“The Plan” quoted above)
peanutbutterer: humor, romance, angst (“Domestic Relations” quoted above)
phillydi: romance, drama
Sweet Lu: hurt/comfort, friendship, angst
Tess DiCorsi: romance, angst, crime
thepixiesmademedoit: friendship, romance
ZBBZL: romance, angst, drama
ZeGabz: romance, drama
A special thanks to @thewingsofnight for creating the wonderful artwork.