She was on her second helping of Pad Thai, mulling over the op that she couldn’t seem to shake. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed that Deeks’ mind was anywhere but on the food in front of him. He had barely eaten anything, nibbling absently at the same spring roll he had picked up fifteen minutes ago. He’d been quiet since they’d gotten back to the house, but she hadn’t wanted to push him, knowing he was having as much trouble as she was at letting go of their shared undercover experience. Callen had questioned both of them as had Hetty, but Deeks had blithely responded with a few choice jokes about the boring beige and white outfits everyone was forced to wear. Even Granger had asked for details of what went on when they lost communications, grumbling that he wanted all of it in their reports by day’s end tomorrow. Sam seemed to sense something was bothering Deeks, but had simply squeezed his shoulder and told him to call if he wanted to talk.
“I’m really fine Deeks,” she said.
“I said I’m fine.”
“Yeah, no. Of course,” he replied with a quick, rather nervous grin.
“You weren’t thinking about me were you?” Surprised by the startled, slightly guilty look on his face.
He let out a long slow breath as he slumped back in the chair. “No.”
“I’m just trying to understand why someone would subject themselves willingly to that kind of treatment,” he replied softly. “I know real life can be scary, but to blindly follow someone else’s vision of the way you should live your life, just doesn’t make sense to me. God, Kens… they were picking up scattered gravel in the lawn as if it were the key to finding their own souls.”
“I was scared for you,” she revealed.
“Why? I didn’t buy their shit.”
“Deeks, they held you underwater for a long time,” she said, the words catching in her throat by the end. “It was cruel and it made me mad.”
“Were you worried about me?” He asked with a soft smile.
“Of course I was worried,” she snapped. “You started thrashing and I thought they were drowning you. I begged him to let you up and he wouldn’t. I wanted to punch him… but I couldn’t.”
“I told you I was method,” he grinned cockily, which only made her angry.
“You were faking?”
“Of course I was faking,” he said, but his smile quickly disappeared. “Doesn’t mean it didn’t piss me off.”
He reached for her then, running his hand up her arm and into her hair, looking at her with turbulent eyes. She knew there was more. They hadn’t discussed what was going on with him while she was lying drugged on a bed of satin and rose petals. He’d made her tell him everything, but had yet to give her any answers to her own questions.
“Something they did got to you,” she said quietly as she held his hand against her cheek.
“What they intended to do to you got to me,” he whispered as he edged closer. “Hiding behind some fake, quasi religious bullshit just so they could…”
“I don’t worry about you when you can defend yourself, but they took that away from you,” he said, turning away as he spit out his anger.
“That’s not the only thing you’re angry about, is it?” She took his hand, stroking the back of it with her thumb, trying to get him to look at her.
“The cowards used a child’s game to get them to hurt themselves,” he said sadly. “Who does that? And those men didn’t even question it, they just kept slapping themselves as if they deserved it.”
She could feel the tension ripple through his muscles as he pulled his hand free and rose and walked away from her. She followed him, unwilling to let his anger fester.
“Do you think they really believed what they preached?” he asked as she wrapped her arms around him.
“We may never know,” she replied. “But, I think those people did believe it would help them. They must have been desperate.”
“I fought my entire childhood not to give into my father,” he said softly. “He wanted me to be something I wasn’t and I fought him every step of the way even when it cost me. These people didn’t fight at all. They didn’t fight for themselves, Kens, and I’m having a hard time understanding that.”
“Not everyone is as strong as you, Deeks,” she reasoned.
“It was hard to watch,” he said slowly. “I wanted David out of that room. Hell, I wanted out of there. The whole atmosphere was abusive and it made me sick. When those men attacked me I was ready to beat the crap out of somebody. So much for keeping my cool.”
“You did get him out of there and me too,” she said as she pulled him to her. “The op is over, Deeks. Let it go.”
“I’m glad you’re strong minded,” he said as he pressed his forehead against hers. “You’re stubborn and you stand up for yourself and that’s what I love about you… that… and how you looked in that blue swimsuit. I actually wondered why it wasn’t beige like everything else.”
“Strong mind. Strong body,” she said with a smile and a soft kiss.
“Wanna show me just how strong that body of yours is?” His smile warming his face and easing her concern. “You could show me another yoga move.”
“You’ll just moan.”
“I thought you liked it when I moaned.”
“You’re not talking about yoga are you?”
“Were we ever?”
He cocked his head and smiled and she knew the shadows had lifted and they were back on solid ground.