By Sweet Lu
The team continued to hash out their last case, bantering and complimenting one another on their work, especially the new guy. Of course Roundtree was stuck buying the drinks, which Deeks served without comment. He had been silent for most of the evening, seeing to mundane chores, but not joining in the conversation, which seemed to slow whenever he was near. Kensi could tell that bothered him, but he didn’t say anything.
He’d been back at LAPD for over a week, and his demeanor around the team had changed. So had theirs whenever he was around. Callen and Sam would curtail their comments about any case they considered classified, sometimes abruptly stopping mid-sentence. Deeks noticed, but understood…or at least he said he did. She knew he wasn’t happy back at LAPD, but he wouldn’t talk about it and it was starting to bug her. She’d tried to convince him that the change in his liaison position was only temporary, but his reaction was dismissive. She’d made the mistake of pointing out that he was sulking, and it had led to an argument that still simmered between them.
“So, Deeks…what they got you working on?” Sam called out as Deeks set a case of wine down on the bar.
He looked at him briefly, never cracking a smile. He cocked his head and shrugged as the others turned to stare at him. Kensi wasn’t sure if they were expecting a joke or a funny story or a comment that was typically Deeks, but that’s not what they got.
“Sorry…that’s classified,” he replied.
Callen looked stunned. Sam looked irritated by his coldness, and scrutinized him, a frown on his face. Roundtree was the one who put his foot in it.
“LAPD has classified missions?” He asked with a grin. “Come on, man. Since when?”
“So now you’re an expert on the LAPD?” Deeks asked very quietly. “Or are you calling me a liar?”
“Deeks!” Callen said sharply. “What’s going on with you? Did something happen?”
“Seriously? You’re actually asking me that?” Deeks laughed bitterly and shook his head. “I’m not part of your team anymore, Callen. I get that. But I worked classified missions with you and Sam for over ten years. And now you shut up whenever I get too close…afraid I might overhear something about a case that’s already wrapped. What happened? Everything, Agent Callen. My life changed. And now you don’t trust me. I’m just the bartender at a place you go to blow off steam.”
The last sentence came out in a low voice, and he tossed the bar towel down, grabbed his jacket and headed for the back door. Sam never let him get that far, freezing him with just the sound of his voice.
“Deeks! I’ve never seen you run from anything or anybody. We may not work together right now, but we’re still family. I think you forgot that.”
“No, Sam…you did,” he said, turning to look at them.
“Do you know how many bars there are in LA, Deeks?” Callen asked. “No? Me either…but let’s agree there’s tons, alright? But every night we come here to your little hole-in-the-wall with that ridiculously fake mounted shark over there. Ever wonder why?”
“Because you live here?” Deeks asked.
“No, you knucklehead,” Sam said. “Guess again.”
“Because they miss you, man,” Roundtree said. “Trust me. They talk about you all the time. What would Deeks say about this? What joke would Deeks make about that? It’s actually extremely irritating.”
“When I say we’re family, Deeks, I mean it,” Sam said. “Listen…we’re all adjusting to what’s happening. But right now we have to follow protocol, and you should understand that. Do we wish things were different and that you were still working with us? Yes.”
“Do we miss your humor? No,” Callen said. “Which is very weird, by the way. I won’t deny that’s been a plus. But do I want you back on my team? Yes. I do. Without question.”
“Just to clarify…you guys actually do miss me?” Deeks asked with a soft grin.
“Sometimes,” Sam said with a smile. “You’ve been an acquired taste since the day we met and found out you were a cop instead of a really crappy MMA fighter.”
“Hey! I got in a few good punches,” Deeks said.
“Keep on believing that, brother.”
“Think of this as a vacation, Deeks,” Callen said. “It’ll give you time to decide if you like being back at LAPD, or would rather become an NCIS agent.”
“If you can pass all the tests and get through the training that is,” Sam said. “You won’t have us there to correct you if you screw up.”
“Come on, guys. That won’t be a problem and you know it,” Deeks said cockily. “I mean Roundtree passed, right? How hard could it be?”
“Hey…that’s not fair,” Roundtree said. “I’m the guy buying all the beer.”
“Then shut up and buy another round,” Sam said. “Deeks is family. Not you.”
“Not yet, anyway,” Deeks said. “What do you say, Mrs. Deeks? Next round on the house? After all, what’s family for if not an occasional free beer.”
Happy Thanksgiving from our wikiDeeks family to yours!