These Arms That Long to Hold You
As the ambulance drove away, Deeks continued to breathe heavily. He was still experiencing the adrenaline rush of finding the lifeless forms of Nancy and Callie Briones in the trunk of a car, of feeling the mother gasp for breath as he pulled her from the confining space, of holding her back while they watched Kensi try to save her daughter’s life, of hearing that beautiful child cough and take air into her own lungs, and of witnessing the way the two clung to each other while they waited for emergency personnel to arrive.
Deeks came up behind Kensi and put a hand on her shoulder. He felt her muscles tighten and quickly relax, her shoulders dropping as she drew in and then let out a calming breath. Just as when he’d grasped Kensi’s knee a few minutes ago, the contact was for himself as much as for her.
“You did great, Kens. You saved that little girl’s life.”
When Kensi’s only response was a brief nod, Deeks ran his hand down to hers and turned her around. He was surprised to see that she wasn’t even making an effort to stop the tears that streamed down her face.
“Hey, no. No, baby, come here,” Deeks soothed as he pulled Kensi into his arms. One hand slid to her waist to draw her in tightly, while the other found its way into her hair. Deeks felt Kensi’s heart pounding even faster than his own.
They’d been in more frightening spots than this, prevented the loss of their own and others’ lives hundreds of times in nearly a decade as partners. Hell, Deeks had even performed CPR twice before, both times on people they knew. But the rapid heartbeat and breathing, the shaking and sweaty hands, the recurring visions every time he closed his eyes hadn’t lingered this long before. This time was different.
This one was harder to let go because it involved a child, which was always more stressful. But it involved a child when children, his own much-wanted but still-hypothetical children, were never far from Deeks’ mind. He and Kensi had made some headway while Deeks was in the hospital last month. A short while after Deeks told Kensi that he still wanted them to be married, she had assured him that she still wanted children. Once home, they continued with the wedding planning, but interspersed with those discussions were talks about how to honor Deeks’ desire that they be out of their dangerous careers before starting a family as well as Kensi’s wish to stay in the field in case children didn’t come.
For himself, Deeks understood that being so close to the momentary terror Nancy Briones felt not knowing if her daughter would live or die, followed by the emotional mother and child reunion so similar to the one they’d watched between Mosley and her son in Mexico, was a taste of what he wanted one day. Not to the same degree, of course. Deeks didn’t ever want to see his child in a life-or-death situation. But he wanted to feel the nervous excitement of being there when his son took his first steps, followed by joy when the boy toddled into Deeks’ arms waiting there to catch him. Or the anxiety as his daughter pedaled faster than he could run holding on to the back of her bike, watching her ride away from him for the first time without training wheels, and the pride when she ran into his arms minutes later yelling, “Daddy, I did it! Did you see me?”
He wanted to be a parent, a father, complete with all of those moments: the good, the bad, and the ugly. He wanted a life full of the sweet sound of babies’ laughter and the sour smell of dirty diapers, the toothless grins and the tantrums, the curiosity and the recklessness, the humor and the drama, and yes, the relief that came after the fear.
Today’s experience, unexpectedly, made Deeks want it even more. He wanted to know the kind of love he saw, even if it came with the chance of that kind of pain. Kensi’s tears and her own difficulty calming down had Deeks worrying that her thoughts had taken her in the opposite direction.
She wasn’t particularly superstitious, but Kensi had confided in Deeks during one of their recent talks that she had suddenly developed an irrational fear that harm would come to a child of theirs, no matter what their line of work.
She attributed it in part to their brief exchange in the mission years ago after he’d been tortured by Siderov’s men. Kensi told Deeks she knew what he’d gone through and he’d responded that he hoped she never would. Months later, she was tortured at the hands of the Taliban.
Similarly, the night they’d had their argument, Mosley told Kensi she prayed her agent would never know how it felt to almost lose a child. Kensi had gone directly from that conversation to Deeks wanting to know when she would be willing to leave NCIS to start having children. She hadn’t put it together at first, but when she did Kensi admitted to Deeks that Mosley’s words had scared her more than she’d realized.
Now here they were again, having just observed another mother nearly lose her child. The fact that Kensi’s actions had prevented that tragedy would mean little to her. Deeks knew today’s experience was likely feeding her fears once more. He was concerned that Kensi might want to put a halt to their discussions about how they could both get what they wanted when it came to having a family.
Bringing his attention back to the present moment, Deeks noted their heart rates and breathing had returned to normal. Removing his hand from Kensi’s head, he gently pulled the comm from her ear, turned it off, and tucked it in his pocket before repeating the process with his own. Kensi took the opportunity to wipe her face with her hands.
They were standing in the middle of a mall parking lot, but he didn’t care. Deeks wanted to address this now, before it undermined all the progress they’d made.
“Kensi, listen to me. That will not be us,” he waved his arm in the general direction of the car’s still open trunk. “Nancy Briones is a Navy wife, she doesn’t have our training or our experience. Williams betrayed the trust Mosley placed in him, and you and I would never do that to each other.”
She shook her head. “No, but random things happen all the time Deeks, and there’s no way to guarantee that something terrible won’t happen to one of our children.”
“No there isn’t. But—”
“But then I think about what we saw today. What Nancy must have felt when she had her daughter back in her arms. I want to feel that one day too, Deeks, as awful as that probably sounds. I mean, not for something this horrible obviously, but I want to know…I don’t know,” Kensi paused, searching for an example, “what it’s like to hold our kids after they wake up from a nightmare.”
“Kens,” Deeks started, but she cut him off again.
“You’d think the last thing I’d want after this would be to have a baby, but I still do. I’m willing to take the risk for that kind of reward.”
“You done?” he asked with a relieved sigh. When Kensi nodded, Deeks laid his forehead against hers, a smile playing on his lips. “I was just thinking the same thing.”
Kensi pulled back just enough to meet Deeks’ eyes. “You were?”
“Yup. I want all the ups and downs that come with raising a family too, minus the kidnapping and other really bad stuff, of course. And I want them with you. No matter what comes our way, baby, as long as I have kick-ass Kensi by my side, we can get through it.” He kissed her softly. “Do you believe that?”
“Yes. And I love you. And I want to go home tonight and talk some more about how we’re going to make all that happen.”
Deeks kept an arm around Kensi as he started walking them toward their car. “I can show you exactly how to make that happen as soon as we get home. No talking necessary.”
Kensi laughed and reached her arm around Deeks’ waist. “You know what I mean. I have a feeling we might finally come to an agreement about this tonight.”
“Yeah?” Deeks asked hopefully.
“Yup. And then maybe you can show me how we’re going to make it happen.”