He silently watched her as she moved about the kitchen fussing with things, stopping to pick up a dish and then absentmindedly placing it aside. She touched different items as she moved along the counter, pausing to consider an apple, but then placing it back in the bowl. Reaching the fridge, she yanked it open and leaned over to look inside, scanning the meager contents before closing the door without having taken anything out. She flashed a soft smile at him, looking apologetic and embarrassed by her restlessness, and he got up to go to her but she held up her hand and there was a warning look in her eye. She hadn’t said much since getting home from the hospital, but after a clinging hug once inside the door, she had physically distanced herself and it was making him jumpy, worried that he had said something to upset her, but unable to fathom what it might have been. They had been so happy and deeply relieved after he had untied her, embracing each other with breathless joy. Now she seemed distant and he found it confusing. He wanted to comfort her, to hold her as close as possible, but for now she wasn’t allowing that, and he wasn’t sure how long he would be able to tolerate it.
He had functioned in a simmering rage ever since she had been taken, and it had exploded when he saw Sabatino. He wasn’t sure how far he would have gone if Sam hadn’t stopped him, but knew he had come very close to losing complete control, even walking a very narrow edge when confronting Hetty. Everyone was angry, but they all knew his anger was dangerous. They’d understood it though, especially Sam, and after Joelle was outed as a CIA operative he was pretty sure Callen did too.
He followed her into the living room, running his hands up through his hair as he leaned against the doorframe and tried to hold his tongue. He wanted to give her space to deal with whatever was bothering her, but a trace of the adrenaline that had flooded through him all day remained, and it made him edgy. He found it hard to stay still, his fingers twitching as he moved from one foot to the other, watching as she picked up a jacket she’d tossed aside last night and staring at it as if she hadn’t seen it before. He suddenly felt an uncontrollable urge to touch her.
She flinched and turned to face him as he moved toward her, reaching out and taking her head in his hands. Pulling her to him and ignoring the stiffness in her body as he laid his forehead against hers. She resisted only briefly and a small expulsion of breath signaled her surrender as she tucked her head against his shoulder and melted into him, clutching at his shirt. He sighed, finally letting some of his remaining anger dissipate as the warmth of her body eased the terrible feeling of loss he’d been living with all day.
“Talk to me,” he urged.
She mumbled something into his shirt, and he felt her body tense. He leaned back and saw anger in her eyes, so he kissed her forehead and ruffled her hair as he huffed out a laugh.
“You’re not gonna hit me like you used to are you?” He asked, trying to keep his voice light as he offered her a soft smile.
“Then tell me what’s bothering you.”
“I should have known,” she said, her voice constricted and raw. “I should have seen right through him, but I didn’t and it pisses me off.”
“How did I miss the signs, Deeks?” She ranted, pulling out of his hold on her and leaving him feeling empty.
“You had no reason to suspect him, Kens,” he said. “You were…”
“What, Deeks. What was I? Too weak? Too off my game to pay attention? Too caught up in my own pity?”
“Come on, baby,” he replied softly as he reached for her once again. “Don’t be so hard on yourself. You were concentrating on your rehab and he took advantage of that.”
“But he completely fooled me, Deeks,” she said, her eyes shining with angry tears. “How could I let that happen?”
“You weren’t the only one who got played,” he reminded her. “Callen looked like he’d been hit by a shitload of bricks when he found out Joelle was part of it. He still cared about her, and she’d played him like a violin. That’s gotta hurt.”
“I don’t want to make excuses, Deeks. And neither will Callen,” she said earnestly. “I should have known the minute he described you almost perfectly before he ever met you.”
“Did he say he thought I’d be handsome and charming?” He asked, finally getting a soft smile from her. “I hope you told him I’m a mean, hot, sex machine.”
“This isn’t funny, Deeks. He described you perfectly and it should have tipped me off,” she said quietly, stubbornly holding onto her anger. “He even commented that you were probably a surfer.”
“He asked me that when you introduced us,” he said, irritated by the memory. “But, none of that matters now, Kens. The sonofabitch is dead. Bet he didn’t see that coming.”
She suddenly wrapped her arms around him, fiercely holding him so tight it almost took his breath away. It helped him lose that feeling of desperation he’d been carrying. He had her in his arms now. She was safe.
“Still. I messed up and I’ll be damn if I’m going to make excuses for it,” she said as she took a step back, her eyes looking inward once again.
“Stop it, Kens,” he said sharply, finally letting out his frustration. “Don’t do this.”
“I can’t just forget it, Deeks.”
“Listen, dammit. Just listen to me,” he demanded, his voice deep and resonant. “I spent every agonizing second of the day imagining what that bastard might be doing to you. Every second. I couldn’t find you, and I couldn’t make anyone tell me where you were. I felt you slipping away from me the longer the day went on. I almost lost you once and I couldn’t believe it was happening all over again.”
“I was scared, Kensi. I just got you back and I was afraid my luck had finally run out this time,” he said, his voice breaking as he reached out to gently touch her cheek. “And if that had happened…if I had lost you this time…it would have ended me. So, I don’t want to talk about that douchebag Sullivan anymore. I don’t want to think about the op or any of it. I just want to hold you and make love to you and thank every god anyone has ever prayed to and all the stars in the universe that you’re safe.”
Her face softened then, her eyes filling with understanding as she stepped in close, brushing his unruly hair away from his eyes.
“I’m sorry. I know how hard it must have been,” she whispered.
“You have nothing to be sorry for, Kens,” he said and kissed her forehead. “You fought back and kicked his ass like the ninja warrior you are.”
“Would it make you feel better if I let you carry me around the house?” She said with a teasing smile. “You seemed to really enjoy carrying me out of that place.”
“Just practicing for the real thing, except in reverse,” he explained, raising his eyebrow and cocking his head, laughing at the quizzical look on her face. “Cause on the real day, I’ll be carrying you in instead of out…in case you didn’t know that. Okay…I’m gonna stop talking now.”
“Good. Now carry me to bed,” she instructed, holding out her arms to be picked up.
“This isn’t gonna become a habit is it, Princess?” He laughed as he lifted her in his arms.
“Maybe,” she said, wrinkling her nose and smiling that perfect smile that weakened his knees. “You complaining?”
He kissed her then, his lips lingering on hers, tasting her sweetness and breathing in her scent.
“The love of my life is in my arms,” he whispered. “What’s to complain about?”
“You not getting me to the bed fast enough, for one,” she answered. “Move it, hot boy. I want to get naked with you.”
“You’re awfully demanding,” he said and kissed her lightly as he carried her into the bedroom.
“I’m a princess, and you’re my very own sex machine…so…you have to do everything I say,” looking very proud of herself as he dropped her on the bed.
“You really do like giving orders, don’t you,” he laughed, but noticed her eyes suddenly filling with tears and he was beside her instantly. “It’s okay, baby. It’s okay.”
“I hated being tied to that chair,” she whispered as she stared down at her hands. “He threatened to cut off my leg and…”
“Sonofabitch,” Deeks choked out, wrapping his arm around her head and pulling her to his chest.
“I couldn’t do anything, Deeks,” she said softly. “I had no control, and it made me so angry…and scared. I hated that.”
“I know the feeling,” he replied, as old memories flashed behind his eyes.
“I know you do and it makes me sad.”
“But, we beat ’em, Kens. Both of them,” he said softly, lifting her chin so he could look into her eyes. “We survived and we have everything to look forward to. Let me make love to you, Kens. Let me pamper you like a princess and carry you around the house…”
“Naked,” she pronounced.
He laughed deeply then and kissed her. “Okay, Princess…time to get naked.”