The Warrior’s Way
“I’m already there…” Deeks whispered as he looked over his shoulder and watched Kensi leave the bullpen.
He realized it was the first night the couple would spend apart since they declared their love for each other. He always looked forward to this time of the day. Knowing he could retreat to a place where it was just the two of them, blocking out the world around them was something he never took for granted.
But right now, he told her it was probably better to spend some time apart… especially after what took place earlier in the day. Kensi hesitated because she knew Deeks was hurting but understood his need to be alone… especially tonight.
Deeks gripped the strap of his leather bag tightly and gave a heavy sigh. The day’s events rested heavily on his shoulders as the memories swept over him. He closed his eyes and could feel his emotions overwhelming him as the grief enveloped him like a heavy blanket. He stood silently for a few minutes, his legs refusing to budge. No matter how many times he had looked death straight in the eyes, it never got easier. And when death came for someone he called a friend, his sorrow became all consuming.
Deeks shook his head trying to wade through the sadness and forced himself to turn and walk down the Mission hallway and out into the warm LA night. Deeks had one stop to make before he could call an end to this long and painful day. If he had told Kensi where he was headed, he knew she would want to come with him. But he wanted to say his goodbyes alone to the friend and brother-in-arms who understood him in ways that Kensi never could.
Jemadar Thapa was gone.
During their time spent together, Deeks had grown to respect and treasure the friendship he had forged with the tiny Buddha. Somehow he always said exactly what Deeks needed to hear. His words of wisdom could come across like the advice found in a fortune cookie, except Deeks knew his remarks were tailored for Deeks and for Deeks alone. Thapa had helped him in so many ways to make sense of life and love that Deeks wanted to spend one last time alone with his friend to thank him.
The smell of formaldehyde and chemicals greeted Deeks as he pulled open the heavy doors of the Los Angeles County morgue. He always hated the place but not for the obvious reasons. Deeks despised the silence. It seemed to assault him from all sides despite the fact it existed in deference to the lifeless people who rested quietly in its cold rooms. He showed his badge at the front window but the guard recognized Deeks immediately and waved him through. The detective hesitated and then took a deep breath as he proceeded down the dim corridor, his footsteps echoing with each step he took.
Deeks quietly entered the room with the square refrigerated chambers stacked up against the back walls. In the middle of the room, a gurney held the shrouded body of his friend. He moved solemnly over to the table and gently pulled back the white sheet. He drew in a long breath and quickly gazed down at the floor. It shouldn’t have been a surprise. He had hoped the terrible day had been just a bad dream. But the Gurkha’s final moments came flooding back as he remembered kneeling on the hospital floor begging the fearless warrior to defy death one more time. But it wasn’t meant to be. Today was Thapa’s expiration date.
“Hey, Buddy,” Deeks leaned down and whispered. “I hope you can hear me.” Deeks looked around the room searching for any evidence of his friend’s existence but turned back again to study the Gurkha’s face. He pulled a stool over and sat down next to the gurney.
“You told me once that you were as human as everyone else but that’s not true. You were pretty awesome today because you sacrificed your life to save someone who really means a lot to me. I just wanted to thank you for that,” Deeks nodded a few times wishing his friend could respond.
“You taught me so much, Thapa. I was like Grasshopper to Keith Carradine’s Caine, just soaking it all in. I guess I should tell you your advice got me through more than one rough patch with Kay Kay,” Deeks laughed out loud and shook his head. “Boy, she hates that name! But you knew that, didn’t you? I thought she was going to blow a gasket when she heard you call her Kay Kay today. But you were right in the end… there shouldn’t be any secrets between us. It just frightens me, you know?”
Deeks stopped to remember the moment and smiled broadly. Deeks’ whole body shivered and then his smile quickly faded as he became somber once again.
“You are one of the bravest dudes I know, Thapa but what I don’t know is if I could ever face death the way you did. It’s almost like you knew today was… what did you call it? Your expiration date?” Deeks remembered.
“Maybe because of the business we’re in we all have an expiration date. I just don’t know if I could ever be ready to face that day… not now, not when I have so much to live for.”
Deeks shook his head and stopped to think. “But then that’s one of the things you tried to teach me, how to love despite the fear,” Deeks remembered and conceded. “But I’m afraid, your holiness, that lesson is going to take some work…”
Deeks abruptly stopped talking as he heard a slight rustle coming from directly behind him. He quickly stood and kicked the stool away from him. Deeks pulled his weapon out from behind his back and caught the silhouette of a young man standing quietly in the darkness. A quiet voice spoke from the shadows.
“My father was a Gurkha. He was not afraid to die.”
Deeks kept his gun pointed in the direction of the voice. He stared intensely at the figure, trying to make out the identity of the intruder.
“Who are you?” Deeks asked pointing his gun in the direction of the voice. “Come out here where I can see you,” he ordered.
“Always better to die than to be a coward,” the man said as he stepped closer, his arms folded calmly across his chest. Deeks was stunned to see a younger version of the dead man on the table.
“Right now, I have no intention of doing either, friend,” Deeks said. “What’s your name?”
“I am the eldest son of Jemadar Thapa. My name is Adeeb.” The young man nodded his head quickly and maintained a quiet demeanor. Deeks could see the fine features that matched the Gurkha’s face and small body frame but Deeks knew that looks could be deceiving. That tiny body could pack a punch and he wasn’t taking any chances. He kept his gun drawn and ready.
“How the hell did you get in here?” Deeks wondered in amazement.
Adeeb just smiled knowingly.
“Wait… let me guess. You’re a Gurkha too?”
Adeeb walked over to his father’s body and stared intensely into his face. The room was quiet as he waited for the younger Thapa to speak.
“We are members of the Gurung tribe, a very old and honored family. It is our duty to become Gurkhas in order to serve and protect our country,” Adeeb reached out and touched his father’s hand. “I was initiated into the brotherhood when I was very small as other members of my family before me. Like my father I consider it a calling not a profession.”
“How about that, a whole family of ass kickers,” Deeks smiled and relaxed his trigger finger. “You must have some pretty interesting family reunions.”
Adeeb was silent but continue to gaze at his father’s lifeless body.
“Why are you here?” Deeks pressed.
“Gurkhas leave no man behind,” Adeeb said. “It is my duty to take him home to our people.”
Deeks relaxed and hid his gun again behind his back. He walked over to the table and stood next to Adeeb.
“Your father told me that home wasn’t a place, it was a feeling and that I would always know where to find him and all the people that I loved if I built my home around those feelings.”
Adeeb nodded solemnly. “Yes. The warrior’s way is never an easy one. We must carry our home in our hearts always. We place all the things that are dear to us inside and carry that feeling from place to place so that we never have to leave again.” Deeks grinned at the younger man. Thapa had already taught him that important lesson earlier in the day.
“Your father was a funny guy,” Deeks reminisced . “He was tough, uncompromising and a fearless soldier. But he was also very wise and gentle.”
“My father was always a Gurkha of peace first.”
“Yeah, but when he had to be the kickass warrior that we all came to know and love, I’m just glad he was on our side,” Deeks said. “I always trusted him to do the right thing. He was a good man and I’ll remember him in here always.” Deeks pointed to his chest.
“Thank you, Sahib.” Adeeb smiled for the first time. “He will continue to live in your heart which is the greatest tribute one can bestow on a brother.”
Deeks couldn’t speak, he had no words to express how he felt at that very moment. The two men just stood together lost in their silence, paying tribute to a father and a friend.
“You know Adeeb, if you are half the Gurkha your father was, he can rest in peace now,” Deeks leaned down and pulled the cover back over Thapa’s body. “I’m truly sorry for your loss.”
Deeks turned to face the younger Gurkha, but Adeeb was gone.
He scanned the room quickly only to find he was alone again with his friend. Deeks couldn’t help but grin.
“You trained him well, my brother. And you taught me a few important lessons along the way too. I will miss you.”
Deeks turned to leave the room but stopped as he grabbed the door handle to leave.
“Oh, and the next time I see my Kay Kay smile, I promise to wave back. Peace, Thapa.”
Deeks gently closed the door behind him and sighed quietly.