A/N: This story follows Rosa’s first few months with Kensi and Deeks. Although I was initially annoyed that there wasn’t more affection between Deeks and Rosa in “Come Together”, wiser souls than I pointed out that he likely didn’t want to make Rosa uncomfortable or push their very new relationship too quickly. So, that’s the approach I’m going with.
Thanks to Karen for the suggestion and for offering one of her stories as inspiration.
“Ok, so for this one you need to—” Deeks tilted his head, pausing in the middle of washing dishes to listen to Kensi explain a trigonometry problem. Rosa responded in Spanish, her softer voice barely filtering through to the kitchen. While he was pretty fluent at this point, he didn’t have the Spanish skills necessary to discuss complex mathematical terms and concepts.
Sometimes when Kensi and Rosa really got involved in conversation, he struggled to keep up. Once they realized though, they usually were considerate enough to slow down so he could participate. Kensi was also helping him refine his pronunciation, per his request, which continued to be the most difficult aspect for him.
Shaking his head, Deeks plunged his hands back into the soapy water and resumed washing up from dinner.
Rosa had settled in with relative ease, or at least as well as could be expected given the circumstances. They enrolled her for the last month of high school classes, with Kensi providing support as needed to fill in any gaps from Rosa’s lack of consistent schooling in the last year. Although Deeks would have loved to help out, they’d ultimately decided that Kensi was a better choice due to her level of fluency and the strong bond she already shared with Rosa.
While Kensi handled school drop offs and pick-ups, Deeks managed the plethora of meetings they needed to attend on Rosa’s behalf. He wished he could be more involved but didn’t want to add to the many stresses in her life by forcing things.
He’d noticed she seemed hesitant around most people besides Kensi, which admittedly hurt a little. Deeks tried not to take it to heart though, frequently reminding himself how much crap Rosa had been through in the last year. She deserved the time to adjust to her new life without unnecessary pressure.
Pulling the plug from the wash sink, Deeks watched the water swirl down the drain, thoughts elsewhere. Sometimes it still stunned him that he and Kensi were parents to a sixteen-year-old. It was rewarding, amazing, and terrifying all at the same time.
A sharp burst of laughter from down the hall brought him out of his thoughts. Just listening to them giggle made him smile and he decided to abandon the kitchen for the time being. Wiping down the counters could wait until later.
He walked down the hall, pausing outside Rosa’s bedroom. Kensi and Rosa sat cross-legged on her bed, a haphazard stack of books and papers pushed to the side while Rosa told a story in rapid-fire Spanish. Whatever she was relating seemed to be the source of their near hysterics.
“Hey, hope I’m not interrupting,” Deeks said, rapping his knuckles on the door a couple times when there was a break in the story. Rosa started, but recovered quickly, offering a shy smile.
“No, you’re not. We just finished,” Kensi said, sharing a sheepish smile with Rosa. “Or as much as we’re going to get through tonight without going crazy.”
“Sounds about right.”
“Do you want to come in, Marty?” Rosa offered, hesitating ever so slightly on his name. She still struggled with calling him anything other than Mr. Deeks for some reason. Deeks glanced around the room, seeing it for the small haven it was, and decided now was not the time to encroach.
“Actually, I thought you ladies might need a snack break,” Deeks told them, grinning when Kensi immediately sat up straighter at the mention of food. “How does Fosselman’s sound?”
“Oh, baby, that would be amazing. I’ve been dying for a caramel fudge malt,” Kensi said immediately, much to Deeks’ amusement. When she saw him unsuccessfully holding back a grin, she stuck her tongue out at him.
“What about you, Rosa?”
“I liked what I had last time,” she said simply.
“Ok, one caramel sundae with sprinkles and whip cream, hold the cherry, and one caramel fudge malt, extra whip cream,” Deeks rattled off. Maybe he couldn’t be the mentor and confidant Rosa needed right now, but he certainly could make sure she was well fed.
Deeks pulled into the parking lot of Rosa’s high school, choosing a spot a couple rows from the main entrance. There were a few dozen other vehicles parked around, and lined up next to the entrance. It was just after 2:30, which meant that Rosa should be coming out any time now.
Although they’d suggested Rosa take the summer off to relax, she’d decided to take summer classes, determined to be on track with her peers for her junior year. She seemed to enjoy learning and eagerly read anything she could get her hands on. Well, aside from algebra and geometry which Rosa and Deeks shared similar views on.
The release bell rang and a couple minutes later, students came pouring out of the doors. He spotted Rosa walking with two girls he recognized from pictures she’d taken during an end of year field trip. It looked like Rosa was mostly listening, as she tended to do, but at least she was smiling. He and Kensi had been concerned that Rosa would have difficulty fitting in, what with starting so late in the year, and the many differences between her and her classmates. Thankfully, there hadn’t been any problems in that realm, though Deeks was fully prepared to step in if anyone gave Rosa trouble.
As he watched, Rosa spotted his truck, which wasn’t all that hard given that it was the only bright red vehicle around.
“I’ll call you later, Rosa!” One of the girls called out before heading for her own car. Rosa waved over her shoulder, then finished walking to the truck.
“Hi Marty,” she said, opening the door.
“Hey, sorry for the last-minute change,” Deeks said as Rosa set her backpack on the floor and hauled herself into the passenger seat. “Kensi got called into work to help with a translation.”
“That’s ok. Thanks for picking me up, but you know I can start taking the bus.”
“Mm, we’ll leave that as a last option,” Deeks decided, waiting for her to finish buckling in before he backed out, careful of the many teenagers still wandering around. “So, how was your day?”
“Good. I got a 97 on my health test and Mr. Ramirez liked my poem,” she told him with a shrug.
“That’s amazing,” Deeks complimented her.
Rosa shrugged again, dipping her head a little. They drove the next few minutes in silence, sun beating through the half-open windows, while the local Oldies station played in the background.
“What’s this song called?” Rosa asked halfway through a John Denver song.
“It’s called “Country Roads.” He turned the volume up and sang along to the chorus. “One of my all-time favorites, but a few decades before your time. We can change it if you want.”
“No.” She tilted her head, a small furrow forming between her eyebrows as she listened. “It’s different, but I like it.”
“Really? You don’t have to say that just to make me happy.” The song ended and he turned the volume back down. “Believe me, I will not mind.”
“I mean it. Does he sing any other songs?”
Deeks grinned, delighted by the prospect of sharing John Denver’s greatest hits with her.
“Oh, you have no idea,” Deeks said, briefly looking away from the road again. “YouTube. ‘Rocky Mountain High’”.
Rosa did as he requested and they drove the rest of the way home, Deeks belting out the lyrics, much to her amusement.
“So, I was thinking maybe we could go to the farmers market tomorrow,” Kensi said as they ate a late supper of enchiladas and a Spanish bean stew that Rosa had taught them to make.
They tried to eat at least one meal a day together. True, sometimes that meal consisted of bagels in the car, but more often than not, they managed to make it home for dinner.
“Or there’s the 5K at the fairgrounds.”
“Ooh, I don’t know if I’m ready for a race in this heat,” Deeks commented. “I might have to cheer you two on from the sidelines instead.”
Rosa didn’t respond, eyes fixed on her plate. The last couple weeks she’d been noticeably subdued and apathetic. At first, Deeks had brushed it off as typical teenage behavior, or perhaps a sign that she was becoming more comfortable around them and losing the need to please them all the time.
Whatever the reason, he and Kensi had ultimately decided, after many late-night discussions and a fair amount of worry, to let her come to them when she was ready. It was damn hard though. He hated seeing her sad and uninterested in the things that normally brought her joy.
“So, what do you think?” Kensi prompted, gently nudging Rosa’s elbow.
“I don’t really feel up to going anywhere,” she answered eventually, glancing up for a scant second before lowering her gaze once more.
“Alright, well then maybe we could check out that drawing—”
“I just want to stay home! I don’t want to run, or paint, or anything else.” Rosa snapped, surprising both of them. Deeks couldn’t remember her ever having raised her voice before. After a moment of stunned silence, he cleared his throat, purposely keeping his voice as even as possible.
“That’s alright. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. What do you need from us?”
“I just want to be left alone,” she said firmly, pushing back from the table. She all but ran to her room, leaving them in silence.
“I feel like such a failure,” Kensi whispered, brushing tears from her eyes. “Everything I say ends up being the wrong thing.”
“Hey, baby, this isn’t your fault,” Deeks told her. He took her hands between his, tipping her chin up. “As awful as this feels, we knew there’d be some rough moments.”
“But what if it doesn’t get better?” He heard the fear in Kensi’s voice, echoing the same worries that kept him up at night.
“Then we’ll figure out a new plan and work from there. The most important thing is that we don’t give up on Rosa or ourselves.”
“Ok,” Kensi whispered, sniffing a couple times as she squeezed his hand in a death grip.
The next few days, Rosa kept to herself, swinging between anger and melancholy. She took long walks on the beach or worked alone in the garden.
Deeks found her one of those days, curled up on a lawn chair in the backyard, knees tucked to her chest as she stared out towards a row of burgeoning tomato plants. He noticed her fingernails were stained with dirt and plant residue.
“Kensi and I were just about to run out for some fish tacos,” he said, not surprised when Rosa shook her head. “OK, we’ll be back in a little bit. Text if you change your mind.”
He was almost to the patio doors when she softly called out,
He turned to face her and she straightened up, awkwardly rubbing her hands along the sleeves of her t-shirt. It left green stains on the light blue fabric.
“I’m sorry I’ve been so awful to you and Kensi lately,” she continued, swallowing harshly. “Especially when you’re always so kind.”
Deeks hooked his foot around a wicker chair, tugging it closer, and sat down across from her, lifting his shoulders in a shrug.
“You know what, we all have bad days and I think after everything you’ve been through you deserve to feel whatever you’re feeling.” He paused, debating whether or not he should just leave it at that. It seemed like something had changed though, so he leaned forward a little. “Is there anything you want to talk about now?”
“Does it ever stop hurting?” Rosa asked softly. “Some days I am fine and then other times…I remember that my family is gone and I have nothing.”
Her face crumpled, tears trailing down her cheeks and Deeks held out his arms instinctively. She collapsed against him, finger gripping at the back of his shirt as sobs shuddered through her body. “I miss them so much, Marty.”
Deeks held her tightly as she continued to cry, completely overcome by everything she’d been holding inside for months. Eventually, her sobs eased and she drew back, eyes red and puffy.
“Rosa, I can’t promise that the pain will ever go away completely, but after a while, it will get easier. And Kensi and I will be with you every step of the way. No matter what.”
“Even if I act like a crazy person?”
“Even if you call us every swear word out there and dye your hair green,” Deeks said, drawing a surprised laugh from Rosa. She gave him a grateful smile, eyes still shiny with tears.
“I don’t know about green, but I’ve always liked purple,” she murmured and he nodded, accepting that there might be some stained porcelain in their future.
“I think we can deal with purple, or polka dots. Whatever you need.”
“Thank you, Marty,” she said gratefully. He knew the conversation was far from over, and would almost certainly require professional help, but he didn’t want to push too hard and lose Rosa’s trust.
“Anytime.” He squeezed her shoulder, pushing himself up with a groan, and left her to her thoughts.
“Ok, steady yourself on the board. Then you want to push the nose with both hands and pop up on your feet,” Deeks instructed, sitting astride his own surfboard, one hand lazily placed in front of him.
Rosa had a much firmer grip on her board, face a mask of concentration. He slowly demonstrated rising to his feet in one smooth motion, then gestured for her to try. “You want to try and get both feet under you at the same time.”
Rosa followed his directions, her movements a little hesitant. She muttered something in Spanish under her breath when she stood and wobbled a little, overbalanced, and almost fell off.
“I think you were a little too forward. Here try it like this.”
“Kensi is right,” Rosa decided as she watched him, sitting once again. “You are like a fish. I don’t think I will ever be able to surf like you.”
“Hey, you are doing amazing for your third lesson,” Deeks said. “You don’t want to know how bad I was when I first tried. I wiped out so many times it wasn’t even funny.” He looked over his shoulder, seeing Kensi paddling out, and more quietly, “Just don’t mention that part to Kensi. She thinks I was a natural from the start.”
“Deal,” Rosa agreed. Sighing, she lifted her face to the sun, a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth.
For the last six weeks, she been seeing an adolescent therapist and both Deeks and Kensi noticed a significant improvement. There were still rough days now and then, but Rosa was more open with them about her feelings and when she needed more support from them.
Rosa kicked her feet, so her board turned in a wide circle, quietly singing “Sunshine on My Shoulders” to herself in Spanish. Much to his delight, she’d downloaded several John Denver songs to her phone, and routinely played them in between the latest Harry Styles song.
“Hey, this doesn’t look like surfing to me,” Kensi said as she paddled up beside them. “Don’t tell me I put on my wetsuit for nothing.”
“We were just taking a break,” Deeks assured her.
“And talking about wipeouts,” Rosa spoke up, giving Deeks a perfectly innocent look. “Have you ever seen Marty fall?”
“Well played,” he muttered, amused that she’d kept their deal while still finding a way to mess with him. The last few weeks had also revealed her more playful nature, which Deeks fully approved of, even if it was at his expense.
“Oh my god, I have the best story about this,” Kensi exclaimed, clapping her hands together as a mischievous gleam entered her eyes.
“Hey, ladies, it’s not fair to gang up on the only guy in the family.” Kensi and Rosa ignored his protest, floating closer to each other, the better to tease him.
As they leaned towards each other, grinning from ear-to-ear, Deeks sat back and watched. This was his family, crazy and messy, and he wouldn’t change anything for the world.
A/N: Thanks again to Lyssa for her assistance with whipping this story into shape.