A/N: I’m afraid this may be on the slightly cheesy side, but I hope you still enjoy. Happy New Year’s to you all!
Deeks shouldered his way through the front door, toting a sizable brown paper bag. He brought it to the table, which Kensi had set with their finest dishes. It was perfectly mismatched with the plastic containers of Chinese food he took out.
“Hey, did you get everything?” Kensi asked, coming in from the kitchen.
“Everything but the spring rolls, which they swapped with crab Rangoon,” Deeks told her, shaking a little packet with grease on the outside.
“Works for me. I’m starving.”
Deeks grinned at her enthusiasm, happily spooning out a considerable portion of sweet and sour chicken on her plate. Kensi poured beer into tall icy glasses, topping off their unconventional New Year’s dinner.
“Are you sure you don’t mind that we didn’t do something more elaborate, or exciting, for New Year’s this year?” Deeks asked after they’d eaten a few bites.
“You mean would I rather go stand outside for several hours, surrounded by thousands of people, without any food or drinks so I can watch some people lip synch and then go to an equally crowded restaurant for overpriced appetizers?” she returned, ending her question by popping half a Rangoon in her mouth.
“Well, when you put it that way. I guess I just don’t want you to be disappointed since we actually have the day off for once.”
“Deeks, I’m past the age of wanting to go out and do crazy things. We get enough of that at work,” Kensi assured him. She set down her fork and gathered his hands between hers. “Today, I’m just happy to be here with you.”
While Deeks was in a better state of mind this year than last, he still wasn’t fully in the holiday spirit. In some ways, it felt like they were still recovering from all the stress and disappointment that came with the last stretch of holidays. He wasn’t sure he could muster enough enthusiasm to spend hours with a bunch of strangers or pretend that he was completely happy.
His thoughts were interrupted by a small object hitting him directly on the bridge of his nose. Frowning, he picked up the now broken fortune cookie that Kensi had tossed at him.
“Hey, cookie for your thoughts,” she said lightly.
“I should have known you’d pay in terms of baked goods.”
Kensi smirked a little, reaching over to brush his hair out of his eyes. “What were you thinking about, you seemed a million miles away.”
“Oh, just missed opportunities,” he said, trying to play it off. “All the things I regret not doing.”
“What do you regret?” Kensi asked and he could tell that she wasn’t going to let his comment go. Some of the brightness left her eyes, making him regret mentioning it. They had so few truly happy moments these days, he was an idiot for bringing up anything that could ruin Kensi’s good mood.
“I guess I just expected our lives to have changed a little since last year. It seems like we’re in mostly the same place.”
It was hard to explain how futile it seemed at times. How tired he was of thinking that they weren’t stuck in a pointless cycle of hope that ended in the same disappointing results.
Kensi pushed her plate of half-eaten food to the side so she could cup his hand in hers. As always, her touch was soothing, grounding him.
“Deeks, I know we haven’t accomplished everything we wanted, but this time last year we had so much less,” Kensi reminded him. “Now we have a home that’s all ours-”
“Minus a freaking mortgage the size of the Pacific,” Deeks interrupted wryly.
“Hush.” Kensi gave him a fondly reproving look, squaring her shoulders, her face set with determination. “You are an NCIS Investigator, we are finally financially stable, and we’re making progress towards adopting. I think we’ve accomplished a lot. And I think we should be proud of that.”
“You’re right,” Deeks admitted quietly. Maybe it wasn’t everything he wanted, but they were in a comparatively better place than last year. He inhaled deeply, love and gratefulness overwhelming him. “And I still have you,” he added. “You’re worth more than any of those other things.”
“You’ll always have me,” Kensi promised, pressing his knuckles to her lips. She had the good grace not to mention the tears forming in his eyes, but just wound her arms around him tightly.
When he pulled back, Kensi kissed him softly and then started cleaning up the takeout containers while he composed himself. Reaching into the bag of fortune cookies, pulled one out and ripped open the plastic wrapper.
“Now let’s see what’s in store for our future.” She gestured to the packet she’d tossed at him a few minutes ago. It was a blatant attempt to change the subject, and cheer him up, and he went with it. There was no point in ruining the evening.
“Uh-uh, I want a whole one otherwise it won’t come true.”
“Pretty sure you’re getting fortune cookies confused with birthday candles,” Kensi said, but she tossed him an undamaged cookie anyway. She broke her cookie without hesitation, popping half into her mouth while she pulled out the slip of paper.
“Ooh, ‘A pleasant surprise is waiting for you’,” she read off. “I like the sound of that.” Raising her eyebrows, Kensi gave him a look that added innuendo to the innocent fortune. “OK, what’s yours say?”
Playing along, he opened his fortune, automatically passing Kensi the broken bits of cookie.
“‘A good time to finish up old tasks.’ What? That’s not even a fortune. I demand a do-over,” Deeks said, gesturing for another cookie. “‘Advice is like kissing. It costs nothing and is a pleasant thing to do.’ OK, that I can get behind.”
Giggling, Kensi cracked open a second one too, silently reading it. Her expression shifted to something softer, her smile growing gentler.
“It says that we can expect a lifetime of happiness,” she said, squeezing his hand.
It was just a stupid piece of paper, nothing more than a joke to most people, but for some reason, Deeks felt his spirits lift a tiny bit. He was always opens to signs from above. Maybe this time it just came in the form of a cookie.
“Then I guess it must be true,” Deeks whispered, upper lip rising in a half-smirk. “Come on, it’s time for our annual movie marathon.”
Deeks dozed off about halfway through It’s A Wonderful Life with Kensi curled up on his chest on the couch. She’d made it to George and Mary walking home from the dance. He woke up to his phone buzzing insistently in his pocket and George Bailey happily exclaiming that his lip was bleeding.
Rubbing his eyes, he fumbled for his phone, and squinted at the number. After a moment, he recognized it as the number of the foster department they’d received training through.
“Hello, this is Marty Deeks speaking,” he answered, a rush of worry wiping away the last of his sleepy haze.
“Oh, Mr. Deeks, this is Sandra Bulling from the Los Angeles DCFS,” a female voice said. “I’m so glad I was able to reach you.”
“Who are you talking to?” Kensi asked, sitting up. She ran her fingers through her hair.
“Someone from the Department of Children and Family Services,” he whispered, turning the phone away from his mouth momentarily. “Ms. Bulling, is there something wrong with our application? Our coordinator, Mrs. Wreich said everything was in order.”
“No,” she assured him quickly. “You and your wife are fully approved as foster parents.” Deeks let out a silent breath and squeezed Kensi’s knee. She looked equally concerned as he had felt a few minutes ago. He tapped on speaker phone, setting his cell between them on the couch.
“That’s actually why I’m calling,” Sandra continued. “I realize it’s very late, and on a holiday too, but we have an emergency foster placement. Would you be able to take this child in?”
“Um-” Deeks glanced to Kensi, floundering for an answer.
“Hello, this is Kensi Blye, Marty’s wife,” Kensi spoke up. “Can you give us any other information?”
“Hello Ms. Blye, of course. The child is a male 10-month old who was previously living with a grandparent and isn’t able to stay there any longer due to safety concerns.”
“Is he alright?”
Deeks’ stomach sank as a dozen horrible scenarios sprang to his mind. Even without knowing anymore, he was tempted to say yes. He remembered the family he’d stayed with for a few days after he shot his father. The desperation that surrounded packing up a single backpack of his belonging and then dropping him off with an unfamiliar family less than an hour later. Fortunately, they’d been kind enough, but not every foster home was.
“There aren’t any health concerns for the child at this time,” Sandra said firmly. “This would most likely be a temporary placement since we’re looking for another kinship placement, but he would need to stay with you for a minimum of three weeks.”
“Three weeks,” Deeks repeated, licking his lips. “Can we have a couple minutes to talk this over?”
“Of course. I’ll be waiting right here.” Deeks sensed eagerness and again, that mild desperation. Muting the phone, he turned to Kensi. Her fists were tightly clenched, bottom lip tucked between her lips.
“Kens, do you think we should–”
“Yes,” she said adamantly before he could even finish the question.
“It’s going to be a huge change,” Deeks warned. “We’ve never taken care of a baby before.”
Kensi took a deep breath and nodded, regarding him seriously. As much as he wanted to dive in head first without their usual hours upon hours of debate, he knew that they both needed to fully on board.
“I know. But think of all the kids we haven’t been able to help or were too late to help. This time we can make a difference.” Kensi inhaled deeply, the only sign that she was nervous, and squeezed his hand. “We can do this, Deeks.”
“OK, let’s do it,” Deeks agreed, fingers shaking as he turned the volume back on. “Hi Ms. Bulling, we can take him.”
“You can? Thank you so much,” she said and Deeks could hear the obvious relief in her voice. “The child’s name is Caleb and I’ll bring him and the paperwork for you to sign in about two hours.”
They talked for a few more minutes, learning a few more odd details from Sandra before she hung up. Deeks dropped his phone on the couch and stood, covering his mouth with his hands.
“Oh my god, I can’t believe this is happening,” he muttered, looking to Kensi who seemed equally stunned. In a manner of minutes, everything had changed so completely.
“I know,” Kensi breathed. She reached for him, coming into his arms with a quiet sob. Deeks felt tears pricking at the back of his eyes too and he clung to Kensi, overwhelmed by it all.
“Crap, we got a lot of calls to make.” He chuckled, rubbing the moisture away from his cheeks. Callen, not to mention Kilbride, was going to be pissed when they informed him of the sudden change.
“We’re going to do just fine,” she decided. “Now let’s get ready for this baby.”
While Deeks called Callen, Kilbride, their moms, and a few other people, Kensi ran out to one of the few stores that was open to grab some supplies. Apparently the social worker had diapers and formula, but little else, which meant they’d essentially be starting from scratch.
She made it back with a little time to spare, the back of her SUV loaded up with formula, baby food, clothes, toys, and a car seat. As they carried everything into the house and set it up in the spare bedroom, Deeks felt an odd mixture of nerves and excitement.
It was after 10 PM by the time a silver car pulled into the driveway. A flustered blonde woman hopped out and went to the back seat, and removed a crying baby. Deeks’ protective instincts rose immediately and he moved forward, Kensi by his side.
“Kensi, Marty, it’s so good to meet you in person,” she said. “I’m Sandra and this is Caleb.” His little arms waved angrily in the air as Sandra held him, looking overwhelmed. “He started crying about fifteen minutes ago and I haven’t been able to get him to stop.”
“Here, let me,” Kensi offered, reaching for the baby. Sandra readily handed him over, looking relieved as Kensi transferred Caleb to one arm as he continued to cry weakly. “It’s OK, Sweetheart,” Kensi murmured, turning her back to them as she rubbed his tiny back.
Deeks watched, vaguely stunned by the sight as Kensi continued to talk soothingly, and started pacing in small circles.
“Marty, if you could just sign a few papers,” Sandra interrupted. A few papers turned out to be the equivalent of a large textbook. Fortunately, Deeks had reviewed most of the forms when they initially applied to be foster parents. Still, it felt completely surreal as he repeatedly signed his name, using Sandra’s car as a clipboard.
When he turned to hand Kensi the pen, she was calmly rocking Caleb, who had a thumb tucked in his mouth as he slept.
“Don’t wake him up,” she whispered, carefully passing Caleb into his arms. Deeks gathered him to his chest, aware of just how precious the tiny bundle in his arms was.
“Well, I think we’re all set.” Sandra handed them a too-thin file with Caleb’s information, hastily said good-bye, and sped off.
“This is incredible.” He was completely awed, overwhelmed, and certain that he’d never been more content in his life. It didn’t seem possible, but already he was completely smitten.
“I guess that fortune really did work,” Kensi said, running her fingers through Caleb’s cap of soft brown curls. “To a future of happiness.”
“To new beginnings,” Deeks added, resting a hand on Caleb’s tiny chest as Kensi wrapped her arms around them both.
A/N: I’m not sure how many people are familiar with the foster process in the U.S., but according to my research, emergency placements often occur similarly to what I described here. Foster parents may not have information about the child beyond their age and name, only a few personal belongings, and frequently take responsibility for the child within a couple hours of accepting a placement.
I realize that this would be a difficult scenario for Kensi and Deeks to be placed in given their current circumstances. However, we’re going to pretend for the sake of this story that taking sudden family leave would not be an issue.