“Deeks! Wake up!” Kensi hissed and jabbed her elbow forcefully into his chest.
Deeks jerked to attention and then slowly dropped his head back onto his shoulders. He tried to ignore Kensi’s terse whisper but he could feel her piercing stare drill a hole into the side of his forehead and made an effort to sit straight up in his chair.
“That will be all today, ladies and gentlemen,” the imposing figurehead gestured to the large audience in the lecture hall. “Tomorrow we will discuss how support unit members are recruited. Please read Chapters 10 and 11 in your guide and be prepared to discuss the kinds of tactical response training used with these new units.” The instructor placed his manual down on the desk. “See you all tomorrow,” he smiled and gathered his papers up in front of him.
As the lights came back on in the large auditorium, Kensi nudged Deeks gently this time, forcing him to rise slowly from his desk. He stretched his back in exaggeration and followed Kensi as they shuffled single file down the row of chairs and into the aisle. Students spilled slowly out of Maury Hall and into the hot summer sun as they walked across the green manicured oval and down Stribling Walk. Formal undergraduate classes had ended weeks ago at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis but the institution hosted a series of specialized training opportunities for naval personnel throughout the summer break.
Deeks sidestepped a group of plebes as they jogged in formation across the quad and over to Bancroft Hall for a late lunch. The air was still and the humidity from the bay hung over the campus like a wet blanket. Deeks groaned inwardly as he pulled his bag across his chest and straightened his shoulders. The sweltering day only added to his uncharacteristic lack of enthusiasm.
“Ah come on, Deeks,” Kensi taunted. “I don’t think the class is really that bad.”
“Are you kidding me?” Deeks stopped short and wiped his brow with the back of his hand and leaned up against one of the ancient maple trees scattered throughout the imposing campus.
“I admit I wasn’t expecting to find the subject matter riveting but when we had a chance to travel to the Naval Academy I really thought we’d have the opportunity to get to ride some east coast waves and have a mini vacation courtesy of Uncle Sam.” Deeks rested his hand on Kensi’s hip and pulled her closer. Kensi shook her head to protest but decided to allow her partner to continue to blow off some steam.
“This is perfect surf weather but instead we’re holed up in that marble mausoleum all day long, listening to some retired navy admiral drone on and on about tactical support models.” Deeks closed his eyes and let out a tired sigh. “The worst part is we haven’t even seen the beach since we got here!”
“Well, don’t let Hetty hear you say that. She’ll haul your ass back to the Mission so fast your head will explode,” Kensi laughed as she leaned up against Deeks. “Besides, it was an honor to be selected to attend this class with Admiral Whitehead. Hetty pulled a lot of strings to get us out here.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know,” Deeks moaned. “I guess it could be worse. I could be stuck here without you, huh?”
Kensi draped her hand through Deeks arm and bumped up against his shoulder as they continued across the oval. “See, there is always a silver lining, Deeks. Why don’t we get something to eat? You always feel better on a full belly,” she smiled and patted his stomach.
Deeks was about to reply when Kensi stopped abruptly in front of him.
“Look!” She cried and pointed to the impressive building before them. A large group of people gathered at the bottom of the stairs as two massive bronze doors swung open. A jubilant bride and groom rushed forward out of the Naval Academy Chapel and stood at the top steps waving at the crowd below. In front of them awaited a gleaming archway of sabers. The honor guards lined the stairs as the happy couple walked under the blades and family members cheered and threw rice and confetti into the air.
“Watch,” Kensi said as they observed the time honored ceremony together. “The last two members of the guard will block their way and then the one next to the bride will give her a swat on the rear end as they go by,” she continued to explain. “It’s a symbol of the challenges they will go through together as they begin their life in the military.”
Deeks was impressed. “How do you know so much about this?” Deeks asked but already had a feeling he knew the answer.
“My parents were married at the chapel at Pendleton,” she said wistfully. “I used to stare at the wedding photo of them walking under the sabers. It was so romantic. I couldn’t wait to recreate that same exact moment when Jack and I were planning our wedding.”
Deeks hadn’t anticipated that last part and didn’t know how to respond as he stood quietly beside her as they watched friends and family rushing forward to congratulate the happy couple. It was obvious by the expression on Kensi’s face that she had been transported back to a time that held some bittersweet memories for her. He had hoped to erase these same memories and replace them with joyful ones of their own. He reached out to clasp her hand in his, hoping to interrupt her thoughts.
“I don’t know, Kens. I mean pomp and circumstance has its place but I always imagined us getting married on the beach at sunset. You, me… Monty. Just a few of our closest friends and family… something real simple,” he explained.
Kensi abruptly pulled her attention away from the chapel and looked at Deeks in exasperation.
“Oh no! That dog is not coming to our wedding!”
“Monty is non-negotiable,” he insisted dismissing her statement. Deeks pointed at the celebration in front of them. “Besides, this kind of wedding just isn’t me… us,” he corrected. “Right?” he asked hesitantly.
Kensi began to walk quickly away from the chapel as Deeks trailed behind her trying to catch up.
“I didn’t say it was Deeks, it’s just…” her words trailed off into the distance. “Let’s just forget about it, okay?”
Kensi and Deeks walked in silence back to their hotel room foregoing lunch altogether and simmering quietly inside their own personal thoughts. Deeks hadn’t said a single word to her since they left the chapel, and she knew him well enough to know that he was either really hurt or really upset. In this case she suspected it was most likely a little bit of both. In the lobby, Deeks stopped and handed his bag to Kensi.
“Can you take this up to the room, I’m going to go for a run along the bay. I think I need to burn off some of this pent up energy. I’ll see you a little later for dinner?”
“Sure,” she agreed, beginning to feel a bit guilty. Kensi suspected what he wanted more was some time away from her instead of the exercise. “I’ll see you later,” she called out as she watched him jog out into the streets of Annapolis.
“Damn! You can be so stupid, Blye!” Kensi groaned as she walked back to their room downheartedly.
She hadn’t realized how much her dream of the perfect wedding day was still tied back to all the plans she had made with Jack. But she also knew how much she had hurt Deeks. They were both good men, but in many ways Deeks couldn’t be more different than her first love. This was a new life and a new man. It was time to stop putting herself first. She had to find a way to make it up to him.
Kensi pulled out her phone from her back pocket and dialed a familiar number.
“Eric? Can you do me a favor?” she asked. “Can you find out what type of permit you need to get married on the beach in Malibu?”
As they walked along the bay wall later that evening after a quiet dinner, they stopped to watch the calm water soak up the glow of the moon’s light. A line of recreational boats bobbed gently along the dock. There had been an unfamiliar tension hanging between them all evening and the silence was killing Deeks.
“Kensi, look…” Deeks lowered his head as he leaned up against the marina wall.
“No, wait. Me first, Deeks,” she rested her hand on his chest. “You were right today. A fancy wedding like that isn’t for us at all. I called Eric today and had him get me all the information and permits for planning a wedding on the beach in Malibu. I mean it doesn’t have to be Malibu, it could be Santa Monica, Venice Beach or we could go up to…”
Deeks laughed lightly and shook his head in delight.
“What?” Kensi demanded as she tugged on his shirt. “I thought that’s what you wanted?”
“I can’t believe this,” he smiled. “After my run, I called Nell and asked her to check out how to book the chapel at Pendleton. We would have to have an LAPD honor guard but I think I could still round up enough guys that don’t hate my guts. And I still have a few favors I can call in.”
“Deeks! You would do that for me?” she cried.
“Kensi,” Deeks stopped to cup her face in both hands. He placed his forehead against hers and whispered. “I don’t care if we get married in a chapel, on the beach or on the moon. I just want you to be my bride so we can share the rest of our lives together.”
Kensi wrapped her arms around Deeks’ neck and pulled him closer to her. Her lips brushed against his as she kissed him softly. She stopped to stare into his eyes.
“I couldn’t love you any more right now if I tried, Marty Deeks. I truly am the luckiest girl in the world,” she sighed.
“Yes you are,” Deeks tried to keep a straight face as Kensi punched him lightly on the chest. “Okay, so we’re agreed…we’re getting married in the chapel?” he asked.
“Only if we can have the reception on the beach,” she added firmly.
Deeks whooped out loud as he picked her up and twirled her around the dock. “You are as wise as King Solomon, Kensi Blye… only a hell of a lot cuter,” he kissed her hard on the lips as they came to a stop.
“Now about Monty,” Kensi decided to push her luck but Deeks countered with another kiss and slowly slid the tip of his tongue into her mouth. He tasted her sweetness and she moaned softly feeling the heady effects of his kiss.
“You were saying?” Deeks asked as he broke away but then lowered his lips quickly back down to hers again. They were both in agreement that this conversation would gladly have to wait for another time.