A/N: This story takes place a few months after “All The Little Things.” It doesn’t necessarily align with the most recent canon events. I attempted to address any traumatic content as respectfully as possible.
Kensi walked into the kitchen on a Tuesday morning to the wonderful sight of Deeks cooking breakfast. He was mixing something in a pan, a mug of coffee in the other.
“Good morning,” she greeted him, turning his cheek so she could kiss him.
“Good morning to you too. Breakfast should be ready in a few minutes.” She lightly touched his back as she moved behind him to grab a mug off the counter.
“Oh, I almost forgot, Sofia called me last night and asked if we could come over.”
After Petty Officer Sofia Addison was transferred from the USS Allegiance to the hospital, Kensi and Deeks had followed up to make sure the was alright and gather further evidence for the case against her attacker, Gary Drummond. There was no way they were letting him get away with sexually assaulting Sofia. Personally, Deeks would have been fine with Callen and Rountree dealing with Drummond unofficially. Especially after hearing how smug and unrepentant he was during their interrogation.
Sofia had insisted on leaving the hospital as soon as possible so she could stay with her newborn daughter, Evelyn Marie Addison, while she received treatment in the NICU. They’d stopped by once every few days in to see if Sofia needed anything and from there it became a weekly, sometimes more frequent, occurrence during Evelyn’s 11 week stay at the hospital.
She’d seemed to appreciate the break that allowed her to go home and shower or sleep in a real bed for a few hours. Sometimes they just talked and Sofia opened up about her worries about motherhood and taking care of a premature baby. She’d spent a lot of time with Kensi, talking about their shared history as young women in the military.
“Really?” Deeks turned from the stove with a spatula in one hand, raising an eyebrow. “I thought everything was going really well since Evie was released from the NICU.”
“I did too, but she said she needed to talk to us about something.”
“You think she’s OK?” Deeks asked, attention completely diverted from the sizzling eggs now.
Maybe it was blurring the line of professionalism to build a relationship with Sofia, but they’d both worried about her. She was single, lived far from family, and was now a young mother. Along with the trauma she’d experienced, it was a lot to throw on a person at once. It only felt natural to help her out, especially with their own difficult upbringings and early adulthood.
“I think she’s lonely,” Kensi replied. She set her coffee on the narrow counter next to the stove and wrapped both arms around his waist, pressing her face into his back. He felt her kiss through his shirt and the brief wind of a deep sigh. “She actually sounded kind of stressed.”
He knew the whole situation played on her mind. She felt responsible for Sofia. Honestly, he did too, and he worried that they weren’t doing enough to help her.
“OK, well then let’s go after work today. We can bring dinner or see if Sofia wants to go out.”
Kensi took the spatula from his hand, setting it on the counter next to her mug. She turned him to face her and lifted her hands to cup his jaw, a wealth of affection in her eyes.
“And that is one of the million reasons why I love you,” she whispered. She leaned into him hard enough that the dials on the stove pressed into his back and kissed him softly, lips lingering on his for a few moments. “I think that’s a great idea.”
Sofia had moved into a small two-bedroom apartment, partially subsidized by the U.S. government. She’d yet to resume her military duties after taking an extended maternity leave, but her former supervising officer assured her she would continue to receive assistance for as long as she needed. Personally, Deeks thought it was poor compensation for everything she’d been through.
They pulled up to the row of brownstone apartments just after six in the evening. The backseat of Deeks’ truck was loaded up with several tote bags of food, including takeout Italian for dinner. Kensi also couldn’t stop herself from taking a detour through the baby section of the store and picked up a few gifts for Baby Evelyn and several other baby paraphernalia they thought might be useful.
They toted it all up to Sofia’s third floor apartment and Deeks knocked on the generically painted black door. There was the click of a deadbolt being unlocked, which Deeks fully approved of.
“Kensi, Deeks, thank you for coming,” Sofia greeted them when she opened the door. She offered each of them a quick, one-armed hug. Evelyn was balanced in the other arm, her round little fist crammed into her mouth as she gummed it, the fingers of her other hand tangled in her mom’s hair. Despite her rough start in life, she was a healthy, chubby baby with a smile that could charm anyone within seconds.
“Sofia, you know we love to see you guys,” Kensi said, pausing to squeeze Evelyn’s fist once they were inside. “Hi Evie, Aunt Kensi and Uncle Marty came to see you and mommy again.”
Evelyn gave a gummy smile and reached for her. At five months old (technically closer to two months when correcting for her premature birth) she had a collection of light-brown curls, her hazel eyes bright with interest in everything around her. Currently, her attention was completely focused on Kensi’s ponytail.
“Do you mind?” Kensi checked.
“Like you have to ask at this point.” Sofia eagerly passed Evelyn over to Kensi. “You know she adores you and I haven’t been able to set her down all day.” She brushed her hair back from her forehead, then settled her hands on her hips. She sighed, closing her eyes briefly.
“Hey, it’s OK,” Deeks assured her. “Everybody needs a break now and then and you’re doing an amazing job. I mean, just look at her.”
She followed his gaze to the center of the room where Kensi had wandered. With Evelyn balanced against her stomach, Kensi turned in half-circles, singing “Patty Cake” to her. She paused right before reaching “toss it in the air”, widening her mouth in an “O” that made Evelyn burst into giggles.
“Look how happy she is.”
“Yeah,” Sofia murmured. There was a melancholy note in her voice and Deeks noticed that her shoulders were curved in, a total sense of exhaustion about her.
“Hey, how are you doing since the transition home?” he asked.
“Hmm. Oh, I’m fine. Just a little tired,” she said, giving herself a shake, and forcing a smile. “I think we hit one of those sleep regression periods again. Really sucks.”
“I can imagine.” He gently nudged her shoulder. For the first several visits, Deeks had hung back, letting Kensi take the lead. He’d assumed Sofia would be more comfortable around a woman. Eventually Sofia had assured him that she trusted him and he didn’t need to walk on eggshells around her. “Why don’t you relax while I warm up dinner?”
At his suggestion, Sofia’s expression turned to one of exasperated fondness.
“You guys really don’t have to keep bringing me food,” she told him even as she grabbed one of the bags and toted it to her small kitchen that opened off the living room. Even when she was clearly exhausted, she never stopped moving for long. She was always busy, always looking for something to do.
“It’s nothing,” Deeks assured her. “Besides, we were planning on getting takeout anyway. And since Kensi couldn’t decide, we also have stuff for tacos. You know how much she loves her tacos.”
Sofia relaxed a little over dinner, growing more animated as they discussed a recent case. She always seemed interested in any details they could give, asking multiple questions, and asking about procedures. There was still something a little off about her demeanor that exhaustion couldn’t account for.
Evie started whimpering about halfway through, yanking at Kensi’s shirt. She quieted slightly when Sofia took her and tossed a blanket over her shoulders to feed her.
“You always know exactly when mommy’s eating, don’t you?” Sofia asked Evelyn with playful exasperation a few minutes later once she was full and back to her usual cheery self. Evelyn babbled happily, dragging her hand through her mom’s half-full plate of food.
“Here, let me hold her while you finish eating,” Deeks offered, dodging a sauce-coated fist. Sofia cleaned her up before handing her over and Deeks settled Evelyn on one knee with his hand braced on her tiny back.
She made a soft, almost questioning sound that turned into a laugh when Deeks pretended to steal her nose. He tucked his hand behind his back and she frowned, eyes furrowing in confusion at its sudden disappearance. Deeks raised his eyebrows, waiting a beat before revealing his open palm, which had Evelyn in giggles all over again. She threw herself forward, smacking his chest with her tiny palms a few times in her excitement.
“You’re so good with her,” Sofia commented with a wistfulness Deeks didn’t fully understand. He’d never noticed her having any trouble engaging with Evie.
“Hey, we brought a couple things for you guys,” Kensi said, breaking the uncomfortable silence. She passed two bags across the table; Sofia seemed glad for the distraction, quickly pulling out a bundle of miniature clothes, a selection of bottles, diapers, and a gift card to a local restaurant chain for Sofia.
“Oh, Kensi, these are adorable.” She held up a tiny green onesie with daisies on the front and an equally small blue dress with puffy sleeves. “Thank you.” Carefully folding them, Sofia put them back in the bag as if they were made of glass.
“So, tell us what you’ve been up to. All we talked about is our work which is not nearly as exciting as we make it sound,” Deeks prompted, eager to keep her talking. Maybe they could get to the bottom of whatever was clearly bothering her.
Obviously on the same page, Kensi caught his eye, and nodded almost imperceptibly.
“Last time we talked, you mentioned you were looking into taking some college courses or maybe a part time job. That’s exciting.”
“Mm. I filled out a couple applications, but…” Sofia shrugged, trailing off. “The childcare alone would be more than I can afford. And it would be years before I could finish any program I’m interested in. And what would I do with Evie if I decided to remain in the service?”
“Well, I’m sure we can find some scholarships and you should be eligible for funds since you’re a military veteran. We’ll figure something out.”
“No, Kensi, that’s not – I was talking about this with my therapist and it’s more than money or daycare can fix,” Sofia said, voice rising in frustration. A second later, she pressed the heal of her palm to her forehead and inhaled deeply, eyes closed. “I’m sorry. You guys have been great. I shouldn’t take my frustration out on you.”
“It’s OK,” Kensi assured her, reaching over the table to cover her hand. “Tell us what’s going on. We’re not here to judge.”
Sofia rubbed her hands together, flicking a gaze towards Deeks. Evelyn had curled up in his left arm, head pillowed on his shoulder, and one hand fisted around his t-shirt as she dozed. She was a warm and solid presence.
Drawing in a deep breath, Sofia kept her eyes on her fingers, which were twisting relentlessly. Deeks felt a moment of disquiet at her obvious discomfort with whatever she was about to reveal.
“As much as I love Evelyn, I didn’t plan on being a mother this soon. Her birth, needing to take care of her, gave me something positive to focus on at first when I still felt so broken,” she began quietly. Every so often she’d flick a brief look up before dropping back to her twisted fingers.
“Um, but now that I don’t feel quite as broken and lost anymore, something else has taken over. Any way that I look at it, my life has changed completely from what I expected and I find myself… resenting Evie.” She looked up finally, tears shining in her eyes. “I know, that makes me a terrible mother and human being, but I can’t stop it.”
“No, you’re not,” Deeks said immediately, heart breaking for her. He shifted Evie to his other arm so he could reach over to squeeze Sofia’s shoulder. She was trembling, body quaking with emotion.
“I’m so sorry you’ve felt like this,” Kensi added. A quick look confirmed she felt as stricken as he did. “You shouldn’t have to deal with that all on your own.” Sofia used her free hand to wipe the tears from beneath her swollen eyes.
“That’s the thing, I’ve talked about it with my therapist and I’ve tried changing things as much as I can, but it’s not enough. As much as I care about Evie and want to protect her, I never planned to have children yet.”
“So, what are you saying?” Kensi asked in a strained voice.
“I’m putting Evie up for adoption,” Sofia answered evenly.
Deeks’ mouth went dry. It was incredibly selfish, but his immediate feeling was one of loss. He glanced down at the sleeping baby in his arms, the little girl he and Kensi had become so attached to.
“And I want Kensi and you to be her parents.”
There was a long, charged moment of silence in which Deeks was sure he misheard and shared another tense look with Kensi, who looked equally confused.
“You can’t be serious,” she finally managed.
“Why wouldn’t I be? She adores both of you.” Sofia gestured to Evelyn contentedly sleeping in Deeks’ arms. “You know her better than anyone besides me. And I know you’ve been trying to adopt for a long time now.”
“You have to know this has nothing to do with why we’re here,” Deeks said firmly. “We never had ulterior motives in mind when we offered to help.” As much as Sofia was offering everything they wanted, it felt almost indecent somehow to even consider the idea. He forced his mind away from the image of hearing Evie say her first word, taking her out on her first surfboard.
It would be easy to claim that their reservations were completely selfless, but Deeks wasn’t quite that noble. He knew Kensi had to be thinking of everything that could possibly go wrong with this scenario. Right now, Sofia thought adoption was necessary, but that could change at any point. And neither would have the heart to deny Evie her mother if it came down to that.
“Deeks, I may seem really naive, but I’ve learned when people are trying to take advantage of me,” Sofia said, chin lifted as she regarded Deeks seriously. “I trust both of you completely and I’m a little offended that you think otherwise.”
“I’m sorry.” He felt Kensi’s fingers reach for his under the table.
“Deeks didn’t mean it like that. But this is a huge decision to make and I think we just want to make sure you’re not being too hasty.”
“I’ve been thinking about this for months. In fact, I started looking into adoption agencies last month and even interviewed a couple prospective parents.” She paused, giving them each a searching look. “They just didn’t seem right though.”
“Sofia, like you said, we want a family more than just about anything,” Deeks started and Sofia pushed back from the table, facing them with a certain desperation in her eyes.
“Then say yes. You don’t know how hard it’s been, how lost I feel most days. I don’t want to make a mistake I can’t undo,” she told them.
“Sofia, what if things get better in a few months or a year and you change your mind?” Kensi asked carefully. “Having a baby can really mess with your hormones and cause a lot of unexpected emotions and responses.”
“I don’t have post-partum depression or psychosis,” Sofia said in a way that suggested she’d had this conversation many times. “It was one of the first things I talked about with my doctor and therapists after I brought Evie home. This is related to what happened with–” She paused to inhale quickly and stared straight ahead for a moment. “I can’t disconnect the trauma I went through from her existence. I’ve tried so hard to convince myself that I can be everything she needs. But every moment of joy I feel, I also have this sense of loss and bitterness. Loss of my choices, my life, my career. No matter what I do, I can’t separate those feelings and I know eventually she’ll realize I resent her or treat her differently than the other parents she sees, and I don’t want her to grow up that way. She deserves to be loved. And I deserve to follow the life I planned before all of this happened.” She paced a few steps away from the table, her restless movements reflecting her tumultuous thoughts.
“And as far as changing my mind, I wouldn’t do that to you two or Evelyn,” Sofia promised. “I would like to see her sometimes, but I would never take her away again. I can’t and don’t want to be a mother right now, maybe never, but I do want what’s best for my daughter and I believe you guys can provide that for her. What would be a better gift than two of the bravest, kindest, most loving people I know?” She turned back, facing them seriously. “So, what do you think?”
Squeezing Kensi’s hand so hard he was surprised she didn’t gasp, he found her eyes again, and she nodded, eyes filled with tears.
“Yes. We would be honored and extremely happy to adopt Evelyn,” Deeks answered. Sofia gasped, pressing her hands over her mouth, shoulders caving with what looked like a combination of relief and despair.
“Thank you,” she whispered. Moving around the table, she reached Kensi first and wrapped her arms around her. Deeks rested his hand on Kensi’s back, letting out a breath, completely overwhelmed. “You don’t know how much this means to me.”
They sat huddled together, crying for very different reasons. Deeks hoped Sofia knew how brave, how truly selfless she was in this moment. Glancing down, he stared at Evie through the sheen of tears, and silently vowed to make sure Sofia never regretted her choice.
“We’ll take good care of her,” Kensi promised hoarsely, echoing his thoughts. “And love her more than anything in the world.”
A/N: Thanks again to Lyssa for her assistance with this story.