It started with a sneeze, which in itself was harmless enough.
As Deeks sat up in bed and rubbed his nose, the rest of it began to sink in. Headache, sore throat, and a bit of a chill- he felt like he should be in a Nyquil commercial. Another sneeze exploded from his nose, sending a shockwave of pain all the way down to his toes. “Shit,” he groaned aloud, and even that hurt. Not today, he thought to himself. Why today?
Picking up his phone, he cleared his notifications and checked the time. He still had two hours before he needed to wake up to go to work. Maybe the extra sleep would take care of his ailment? With a shiver he pulled his comforter up to his chin and snuggled close to his warm, snoring partner in bed. Sleep was all he needed… just more sleep…
Finally, he was warm- warm, achy, and feeling like he’d been hit by a sledgehammer. Nothing in the world could make him want to get out of bed, especially not with this unbelievably warm heated blanket wrapped around him. Heated blanket? He didn’t have a heated blanket.
Opening his eyes felt like an impossible task so he forced his hands to feel for the warmth that was enveloping him. And feel he did- his fingers danced blindly along smooth calves, soft thighs, and a warm, cotton covered ass. Kensi. Her hair tickled his chest and he hummed, trying to breathe in her scent. Sure, he probably had the flu, but he wasn’t dead.
His lovely human blanket nudged his scruffy cheek with her nose before whispering in his ear. “Happy birthday.”
“Thank you,” he said with a weak smile, his voice almost hoarse. His eyelids fluttered, fighting the urge to just stay closed. Seeing her was worth the blinding pain of the sunlight in his eyes. “Is this a special birthday wake up? Because I could get used to this.”
“The real birthday surprise is tonight,” she said, wiggling her eyebrows.
“I can’t wait.” Deeks tried to keep his eyes open, but even the beautiful sight above him couldn’t stop the pounding in his head. There had to be something he could do to make himself feel better. Food, coffee, Tylenol, something… anything.
“Okay, it sucks, but we gotta go to work.” Kensi brushed a curl of hair away from his forehead and paused, moving her hand to his cheek. “You feel a little warm.”
Dammit. “That’s just the kind of effect you have on me,” he lied, squeezing her ass for emphasis.
He didn’t need to have his eyes open to know that she had narrowed her own at him. “Okay. Come on, I’ll buy you breakfast on the way.”
“Thank you for your time.” Deeks stuffed his badge back in his pants and pulled his leather jacket tightly around his chest as he walked away from a local street vendor. The coat in combination with a tee shirt, sweater, and scarf might have looked a little ridiculous in downtown Los Angeles, but he didn’t really give a damn. He was freezing and miserable and frankly, his not so great birthday was starting to turn into yet another shitty birthday.
“And I thought Sam’s moping was bad,” Callen commented beside him. “I’m having flashbacks to when Kensi was in Afghanistan right now.”
Deeks rolled his eyes and refused to acknowledge the comment about his moping. It wasn’t Callen’s fault that their respective partners fit the undercover bill required for their case of the day. It also wasn’t Callen’s fault that he felt like shit, or that Kensi had been rather stand-offish since climbing out of his bed that morning, or that he had ridiculously high expectations for his birthday that had since come crashing to the ground. Even so, the senior agent could be a big enough jerk at times that he should just handle the Detective’s foul mood without question.
“Lemme guess,” Callen continued, snooping into the window of an empty storefront. “She forgot your birthday again.”
“She didn’t forget my birthday,” Deeks grumbled, giving a half-ass knock to the glass door of the store. He jiggled the handle- unlocked.
“Got you a crappy gift?”
“No crappy gifts.”
“So what’s the deal?”
As he slowly opened the door to the empty store, Deeks internally debated whether or not he wanted to get into a bad birthday pissing contest with Callen. It was a battle he knew he could never win, and might not get much sympathy in the process either. At least he’d had a few birthday parties as a child, and he’d blown the candles out on a cake with Happy Birthday Marty scrolled across the top. He didn’t know what the hell G’s cakes would have said. “There’s no deal, really,” he answered quietly, clearing his throat. “The day just hasn’t gone as I had imagined. Circumstances beyond my control.”
Callen smirked. “So, just another regular day at work then?”
They moved towards a door in the back of the small room. Callen twisted the knob and Deeks poked his head into what he thought was a closet, but turned out to be a dark hallway. “Huh,” he said, taking a step inside with Callen right behind him. “Not what I-”
The rest of his sentence was nothing more than a loud grunt as something slammed into him, knocking him to the floor. That was absolutely the last thing he needed that day. A booted foot kicked his ribs and he moaned in pain, scrambling to grab the leg of the asshole that was now throwing punches at Callen. He rolled over and coughed before climbing to his feet (and it felt like it took about a year to do so).
Callen got a good lick in on the burly man in boots and Deeks mustered every ounce of strength he still had to body slam the guy to the ground. For a second, he might have even lost consciousness- the next thing he noticed was his temporary partner dragging the man to his feet by his zip-tied hands.
“You alright Deeks?” Callen asked, his face slightly flushed from the struggle.
“Yeah, sure, I’m…” Not alright. He will be alright, eventually anyway. But right now? He was anything but. Crawling to the nearest wall, he braced himself against it and managed to stand up again. Callen (both Callens, that couldn’t be a good sign) looked concerned. The room and everything in it was starting to spin… he needed fresh air.
Deeks just barely managed to burst through the door before doubling over and spilling the contents of his stomach all over the sidewalk. The breakfast burrito Kensi had bought him was tough to get down that morning, and hurt him even more coming back up. He gasped, resting his hands on his shaking knees. It was going to be pretty hard to keep pretending that he was fine now.
A firm hand patted his back. “Oh yeah, you look fantastic,” Callen said sarcastically.
Deeks wiped his mouth. “Sorry, man.”
Pushing their suspect ahead of them towards the street, Callen shrugged. “Just don’t puke in my car.”
There was snow all around him, and not ugly snow either – beautiful, clean white snow. The wind blew sharply against his cheeks and his nose was numb from the cold. Even so, it was the warmest he’d ever felt in his life. As he lay in the snow, he turned his head to see Kensi making snow angels, of all things. Badass Blye, who had somehow gone from being an adorable annoyance in his life to being the single most important being in his universe, was playing in the snow like a child. No memories of torture, his or hers. No lost love, no sadness or fear or anger. Just joy.
This was his new happy place, where he went to get himself through a rough day. So, it was no wonder that was where he went to relax himself when he got back to his apartment from work. Callen and Hetty had both forced him to take early leave of the day, using his birthday as an excuse since he was still trying to pretend like he wasn’t sick. He saw himself in the mirror though, and even had to admit that he looked like death warmed over. But he still didn’t want to leave- not without his partner anyway.
“She’ll be fine,” they said.
Deeks wasn’t sure if it was worry or sickness that sent him to his happy place that day. Whatever the reason, the memories of the best Christmas of his life worked like magic. Soon his shitty birthday was forgotten, replaced by happiness and simplicity again. He was used to the holidays overshadowing his birthday anyway– that was the plight of a Capricorn.
Something was rustling in the snow though- or maybe thumping? He tried to twist his head to investigate but he was frozen in place, trapped in the blanket of snow. In a moment of panic, he started thrashing about, sending warm wet snow across his face. Wait, warm snow?
He shivered and opened his eyes, coming face to face with his lovable mutt. Apparently he’d drifted off to sleep under the afghan on his couch. “Hey Bud,” he moaned, gently bumping his head against Monty’s snout. Everything hurt, but at least if he was dying he would have his dog by his side.
“Are you hungry?” A voice from the kitchen asked, literally scaring the snot out of him.
“Ugh gross,” he muttered as he looked for a napkin, or anything, close by to wipe his face. A tissue magically appeared in front of him, along with a gorgeous brunette in a tee shirt and yoga pants. She was definitely a sight for sore eyes. “Hey, uh, you’re not taking me out dressed like that, are you?”
His weak attempt at a joke didn’t amuse her. “Why are you pretending like you’re not sick?”
Swallowing painfully, he pulled his afghan closer to his chest. “Why did you ignore that I was sick all day?”
“I-,” Kensi sighed. Deeks was taking up most of the couch, but she managed to squeeze in next to his feet. “I used to think I was really good at taking care of people. But not you, for some reason. You’re an overdramatic crybaby over a hangnail, but when something is really wrong with you, you hide from it. I don’t… know how to take care of you.”
Adjusting his cat pillow under his head, he looked at the blank TV screen ahead of him. “That’s funny, I don’t really know how to be taken care of.” He tried not to sound bitter, but failed.
“Well…” she said, reaching for his remote. She turned on the television and Blu-ray player, spread his blanket over her legs, and snuggled up against his ass. “I managed to find a copy of Stand By Me and I went to Neptune’s Net for clam chowder. Although I questioned that decision after hearing about you barfing-“
“All over the place earlier,” she continued with a grin. “So I also got chicken noodle soup and some tea. The cheap stuff, just like you like.” She snaked a hand under his covers and laced her fingers through his. Her touch must have had some sort of healing powers, because he was starting to feel better already. “This isn’t what I originally had planned for your birthday, Deeks. But I’ll make it up to you sometime.”
Maybe it wasn’t a great birthday, or even a good birthday, but it wasn’t as bad as he originally thought. If he could have been granted a birthday wish exactly one year before, it would have been Kensi- at home, safe, and with him. So what if he was sick… he still had everything he wanted. “No no,” he whispered with a sniffle and closed his eyes. “This is perfect.”
Courtney is a contributor at wikiDeeks.com. Follow her on Twitter: @hermionesmydawg
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