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Wake Me Up When September Ends: NCISLA Summer Song FanFic Series

A/N: I hate to bring this fun summer-themed series to an end with an angst-filled story, but hey, you didn’t expect me to write something light and funny, did you? Sorry, people, it’s September now, and summer is over! Warning: one reference to the passing of a beloved, furry character.

Wake Me Up When September Ends

Lyrics by Green Day

Summer has come and passed
The innocent can never last
Wake me up when September ends

September 15th, 1990

Marty sits in the comfy, overstuffed chair in Miss Kristin’s compact, cluttered office. He barely registers the random toys and books, along with a few stuffed animals, scattered throughout. He knows she’s a social worker, although he doesn’t understand what a social worker does. He’s visited here a couple times already since he shot his dad. He thinks they’re trying to decide if he needs to go to jail for his crime, but so far, they’ve been pretty nice.

He shot his father on Labor Day weekend when his parents got into a fight over whether his mom could get him some new back-to-school clothes. He sighs. His appearance hardly matters now. If they don’t send him to jail and he gets to stay in school, the other kids will see him as scary, a freak, no matter how well-dressed he is. He can already feel the weight of their collective judgment pressing in on him, the shame of his actions, and of his totally screwed up family, marking him as defective.

He realizes Miss Kristin has been talking to him.

“What?” He tunes back in and focuses on her kind green eyes.

“I was just trying to explain, Marty, that you’re not in any trouble,” Miss Kristin repeats. “You’re going to stay with your mom now that she’s out of the hospital. Your dad is the one who’s in trouble. He’s going to have a court hearing and the judge will decide whether to send him to jail for what he did… How do you feel about that?”

Marty shrugs. He can’t possibly explain the emotions roiling through him. Terror that his dad will come after him and his mom to finish the job. Embarrassment that his family is so beyond messed up. Shame that he shot his own father.

“It’s complicated, I know,” Miss Kristin assures him. “You did a brave thing, Marty. We’re going to make sure your dad can’t hurt you or your mom anymore, OK?”

He nods, but feels far from safe. Miss Kristin doesn’t know his dad, doesn’t know how angry he can get, how much he can hold a grudge. He’ll never forgive him for what he did. It’s only a matter of time before he comes back to get revenge.

And maybe that’s to be expected. Sons aren’t supposed to hurt their fathers, let alone shoot them. His father might be a monster, but Marty inherited the same blood, the same willingness to use violence to solve his problems. And for all the shame he feels now, he has to admit that he’d also felt a small sense of satisfaction, power, and maybe even pride, in that moment when he pulled the trigger. And that has to mean he‘s as bad as his father. Maybe they should put him in jail, right alongside the old man, because he’s a monster too.

Like my father’s come to pass
Seven years has gone so fast
Wake me up when September ends

September 5th, 2005

“Breathe, Deeks. Breathe.”

“Yes, sir,” Deeks replies. He frantically struggles to calm the shake in his hands as he aims at the paper target in the distance. A soft breeze cools small beads of sweat on his brow. He can do this. He has to do this.

“Keep that grip firm,” his training instructor Officer Steven Park coaches him. “Keep both eyes open, align your sights, and squeeze that trigger.”

Deeks blows out a breath, focuses on inhaling and exhaling, and does as Park instructed. He can’t stop the small flinch that occurs when the gun fires. The bullet tears through the paper target but misses the figure silhouetted there by several inches.

“Progress, Deeks. You hit the paper,” Park chuckles. Deeks wants to think he’s laughing to break the tension and not because he’s mocking him, but it’s impossible to tell. “Why don’t you call it a day. Go clean your weapon.”

“But sir, I can do–”

“Deeks, that’s an order.”

“Yes, sir,” he replies, embarrassed by his continuing poor performance in Firearms Training. Shoulders slumped, he files off the range and inside to a table where he begins the process of cleaning his Beretta. His buddy Jerry’s encouraging face flashes through his mind as he disassembles his weapon. Jerry helped him practice shooting before he joined the academy so he wouldn’t fall apart under the pressure of training, but his performance is getting worse, not better. He pictures Jerry’s expression shifting into a frown. It’s been a long time since he’s felt so discouraged.

The well-practiced motions of cleaning the gun settle his nerves until Officer Park appears back at his side. The man has shown remarkable patience with him, but there’s not much time left before he washes Deeks out of class, and the Academy as a whole.

“Mr. Deeks–”

“I’m sorry, sir. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I will keep working on this until I get it right. Please give me a little more time to work it out.” He’s given up so much to be here right now, he isn’t beyond a little begging if it keeps him from failing at another career choice.

Park sighs and leans against the table. “Son, why do you want to be a cop?”

“To protect and serve,” Deeks says automatically. He sets his weapon down to look Park in the eye, anxious to convince him to let him stay. When the older man gives him a questioning raised eyebrow, Deeks adds, “As an attorney, I was always dealing with the aftermath of crime, when it was too late to really make a difference. I want to be there to protect people from being hurt in the first place.”

“That’s a great reason… Look, it’s obvious that your relationship with firearms isn’t a cozy one, and I don’t need to know the reasons why. You are gonna need to work through this though, if you want to continue here. My advice to you is to focus on why you want to be here. Think about those faceless people you’ll someday be able to protect. Or think about people from your past who you maybe couldn’t protect before you got here? That gun can be a terrible weapon in the wrong hands, but in the right ones it can do just what you’re looking for it to do: it can protect people from becoming victims. If you can master your fear, your, well, whatever it is that’s going on inside your own head, you can harness its power to do good.”

“Yes, sir. I’ll do my best… Thank you, sir.”

Park pats Deeks on the back and walks away. He lets out the breath he hadn’t realized he was holding, relieved Park doesn’t seem to know about his sordid past. It should all be sealed up in his juvenile records, but the idea that his instructors and classmates could find out his humiliating secret makes his heart race.

He removes his hat to reflexively run his fingers through his hair, only to be reminded for the thousandth time how little hair is left at the moment. His current difficulties frustrate him. His old man has been gone from his life for fifteen years now and he’s tried not to think about him, to forget about him as best he can. As a public defender, he could have looked up his father’s prison records to see what had become of him, but each time he considered it, he decided he was happier not knowing, living in denial about the possibility that Gordon Brandel could reappear in his life.

Only he can’t forget him. He thought he’d made peace with what he had done, but it’s more like he’s gotten really good at not thinking about it. He and his mom went on to make a life for themselves, but they’d had to fight for everything – putting food on the table, keeping him out of juvie, figuring out how to pay for college and law school. His recent, sudden career change has made him feel like an idiot for wasting so much time and money. Would he ever amount to anything, or was his dad right all along? He doesn’t know, but he hasn’t quit yet, and they haven’t kicked him out yet either. So, he’ll keep moving forward, doing the best he can.

Here comes the rain again
Falling from the stars
Drenched in my pain again
Becoming who we are

As my memory rests
But never forgets what I lost
Wake me up when September ends

September 28th, 2010

Deeks is proud to be working with a team of super-agents, even if they think he can’t come close to keeping up. He’s beyond intrigued by his prickly new partner, whom he looks forward to harassing – and getting to know – every single day. Today he finds himself in unfamiliar territory: the desert. As a kid, the farthest afield he got from the San Fernando Valley was riding through the canyon roads down to the beach in Malibu. The desert sand serves as a poor substitute without the cool, calming waves he loves so much. He’s the master of his domain in the water, confident and content. Today, he’s decidedly out of his element, coated in dust and sweat and scrambling to keep up with his partner.

Still, the day has provided him with a few opportunities to tease Kensi, and to get her to share some personal details that have so far been hard to come by. Getting her to open up about her childhood – a gift from this very closed off person – makes all the heat and dirt worth it. But he does not want to reciprocate. The idea that Kensi and the team would find out what he’s done ties his stomach in knots. He already grins through enough judgy attitude from the whole team, especially Sam and Kensi. He doesn’t need them knowing his most shameful secret. What the LAPD thinks of him doesn’t matter, but he respects these people and badly wants them to respect him. So he follows standard undercover protocol when she presses him to share: he includes a small bit of truth to make the lie feel real, then smoothly diverts attention with a supposedly overactive bladder and a humorous story about a killer snake.

It does get him to wonder though, about what the old man is doing. He really could be dead by now. He’d definitely be out of prison, unless he went and got arrested for beating up a new family.

What would happen if his dad popped back into his life? Would they have another violent clash? Would he still have to worry about keeping his mom safe? Or was it possible, was there even a tiny chance, they could repair their relationship?

He pushes aside such thoughts to make sure Kensi doesn’t learn anything that would further damage her already low opinion of him. Knowing how she worshiped her own father, how could she ever understand why he’d done what he had to his? Sharing that information would be a quick way to get blackballed from the team.

Look at Sam Hanna, the upstanding Navy SEAL. He already judges Deeks as unacceptable, unworthy of working on their elite team. Knowing about his tawdry past would cause more disdain to rain down from the man. His team leader G Callen, on the other hand, just might understand. Callen seems to have a past at least as messed up as his own. Still, he wouldn’t want to risk it. Better they all simply think of him as inept but at least one of the good guys.

Then there’s his boss, Ms. Henrietta Lange. She had known enough about his past to fill in every field on that NCIS Liaison job application. She very well might know about his dad. But if she does, and she wants him on the team anyway, does that mean she doesn’t actually judge him harshly for what he did? Now that would be a first.

Summer has come and passed
The innocent can never last
Wake me up when September ends

September 22nd, 2011

“Here you go, partner.” Deeks dangles a white bag in front of Kensi’s face as she sits on the dark patio gazing at the drab brick wall in front of her.

“What’s this?”

“Believe it or not, it’s the Romanian version of donuts,” he smirks, confident he’s found something that will lift her spirits.


“Yes, really. I think they’re called papanasi, or is it paparazzi? Something like that anyway. You know my Romanian is nonexistent.”

She grabs the bag and places it on the table, opening it to reveal the fried delicacy covered in what looks like sour cream and jam. Her eyes light up, as does her smile, and he knows his choice in the hospital cafeteria had been a good one. As she dives in, Deeks sits down next to her and smiles, looking on as she savors the snack. It’s been a grueling several days as they flew across the world to save Hetty. Taking turns with Sam and Callen to watch over her until she’s recovered enough to be transported out of the country has caused a deep fatigue to settle into his bones. He stretches out his long frame and reclines his chair onto its back legs.

“What were you thinking about just now when I got here?” he asks. “You were staring into space like you were deep in thought.”

“Oh, um, I don’t know. I guess I was thinking about Callen. Do you think he’ll ever find his father, or even figure out what happened to him?”

“I don’t know. I hope so.”

“I can imagine how important it would be… for Callen, you know? To have closure, to know what happened.”

“Yeah,” he agrees. He thinks he sees something else in her eyes, a wistfulness maybe, but decides not to press her on it. They’re both so tired.

They sit in a comfortable silence, broken up only by an occasional moan of pleasure from Kensi. As she finishes up, she looks thoughtfully at her partner before quietly asking, “Where’s your father, Deeks?”

The question catches him off-guard and he sits up straight, unable to stop from crossing his arms in front of him. Kensi has never pushed him for details about his dad. He has an urge to cry, or maybe to flee, but in the end, he figures now is as good a time as any to come clean with her. He owes her the truth.

“He’s dead. Car accident in 1998… But there is more to his story that I haven’t told you.”

“Deeks, you don’t–”

“No, it’s OK. You deserve to hear everything…” He blows out a breath as his heart rate accelerates. “When I was 11 years old, he was roaring drunk and had beat my mom unconscious. He got ahold of his shotgun, and I was sure he was going to kill her, and probably me too. I used a .38 Ray had given me and I shot him.”

Kensi looks like she might cry. The gears turn in her head as she processes the information. “Oh my god, Deeks, I’m so sorry that happened to you. So your father is–”

“Gordon John Brandel, yup. Deeks is my mom’s maiden name.”

“What happened after?”

“He got sent to prison. I never tried to find him, and he never tried to find me when he got out. I didn’t know what had become of him until Hetty looked into it last year when I was shot.”

She considers this information and tells him, “I wish you’d told me at the time. I just thought you were dealing with the shooting. I’m sorry I couldn’t have been there for you.”

“It’s OK. At the time I didn’t even know what I felt about it all. Plus, you were there for me.”

She asks more questions, but Deeks detects no judgment in her tone. He’s always expected this knowledge would change Kensi’s opinion about his character, but it hasn’t seemed to faze her. She even tells him she admires him for protecting his mother. That she still accepts him, that she doesn’t appear to see him as a bad person, that she hasn’t immediately asked for a new partner, has him reconsidering the whole story, seeing it through her eyes. Could he have been too hard on himself all this time? Hearing – feeling – this acceptance from someone he respects so much (hell, from someone he loves, even if he isn’t ready to admit that to himself) means the world to him. Is it possible he isn’t as bad a person as he’s always thought?

Ring out the bells again
Like we did when spring began
Wake me up when September ends

Here comes the rain again
Falling from the stars
Drenched in my pain again
Becoming who we are

September 30th, 2013

Bullies. God, he hates bullies. Sidorov was a little more sadistic, and a lot more sober, but he was still a bully like his father. The same powerlessness he’d felt as a child had roared back into his head and his heart as he’d sat trapped in that chair, forced to endure everything the Russian goons threw at him. He hadn’t been able to stop his father from hurting him or his mom, at least not until Ray gave him the .38. And he couldn’t stop a single thing Sidorov did to him. That’s what bullies do. They take away your power, your self-esteem, and your confidence and replace it with uncertainty and fear, shrinking you to a shadow of yourself. Worse yet, this new trauma has triggered all sorts of old memories to resurface, and they’re tumbling around in his head like clothes in a dryer.

“Hey, Marty! Are you gonna join us?” Deeks’ racing thoughts are interrupted by a surfing buddy who’s walked up to his spot on the beach.

He thinks he’s successfully covered the flinch he couldn’t help but make, and responds, “Uh, hey, Joe. Good to see you. I’m just chillin’ today, maybe I’ll see you out there later this week.”

“OK, bro. Don’t be a stranger. You know life is better from the top of a wave.” Joe smiles as he drops his towel nearby and trudges with his board toward the water.

Deeks shakes his head in frustration. He’s always found solace out there, but now his lingering injuries have him hesitating, worried one bad fall will cause too much pain, and too much pain might trigger a full-on flashback. Hell, who’s he kidding? The physical injuries aren’t stopping him, it’s the way life in general is overwhelming right now. Pulling himself together enough to get on a board and purposefully swim out into the waves is too difficult, too big a task to take on.

He tries deep breathing, hoping the uniquely fresh sea breeze can restore a sense of calm. He closes his eyes and listens to children playing in the distance and gulls calling nearby. When some teenagers throwing each other into the waves scream out, he’s jolted from his attempt at zen and works hard to keep from spiraling further into panic.

He’ll never catch a break, will he? He finally works up the nerve to kiss Kensi and he’s immediately punished for it. Shit. Is this what he deserves for being like his dad deep down, no matter how hard he’s fought to be something different? And he has begun to think maybe, just maybe, he is different, despite some horrible acts, most importantly killing his ex-LAPD partner Boyle. Maybe this punishment is all well deserved after all. But fuck. For a single moment he had everything he’d ever wanted. He had Kensi, and it was good. No, it was amazing.

And now, it crushes him, the sadness – grief, really – that he’ll never have it again. He’ll never be good enough, he’ll never come back from this latest trauma, he’ll never be the same man Kensi might possibly have feelings for. All the fighting he’s done his whole life to be something better, to take down the bullies, has all been wrenched away from him. The devastation, the loss, overwhelms him.

As my memory rests
But never forgets what I lost
Wake me up when September ends

September 28th, 2015

He loves these two women so much. He is terrified they might not get along. He is terrified they might get along. His mother has no filter. None. She’ll spill all his secrets. She’ll tell Kensi anything Kensi wants to know. Lots of stupid, embarrassing stuff. But maybe she’ll also talk about how he shot his dad. Maybe her version of the story will cast him in a different light. Maybe it will cause Kensi to see him differently, maybe even reevaluate their being together. He thinks they’re all in. He wants to pop the question at some point, at least ask her to move in with him soon. But is he really good enough to be with her?

Shooting his father might have been the right thing to do, at least he has slowly come to believe that. But things he’s done while undercover haunt him, not to mention how he killed his ex-partner and covered it up. He wants to stop thinking so poorly of his own character – he tries every day – but it’s tough.

He delays and delays their meeting until he can’t put it off any longer. Somehow, to his great surprise, it all goes well. His mom is her usual borderline inappropriate self, but she mostly brags about him. And Kensi is too focused on how he sprang his mother on her to pay too much attention to the details anyway. Seeing the two women he loves more than anyone else in the world together, laughing and getting to know one another, brings a warm, fuzzy feeling to his heart, at least until his mom brings up yet another shameful story from his past.

“–Earth to Marty. Hey Bub. Come back to us and tell Kensi about the time you decided to steal a car under the influence of that Ray Martindale… I tell you, Kensi, that boy was nothing but a troublemaker.”

“Wow, Momma. First, you don’t know all the good things Ray did to help me, and secondly, can we please not tell stories about my youth, or my childhood… or my college years, or, well, anything that has to do with me?”

“Fine, Martin, have it your way.” As she leans across the table at him, she utters a foreboding, “For now. I’m going to get the dessert.”

He heaves a sigh and brushes some stray hair out of his eyes. Kensi reaches over to take his hand. She gently pulls his face toward her own and kisses him on the cheek, leaning in to whisper, “There’s nothing she can say that can make me love you any less, Deeks. Her stories just help me understand you better, and appreciate even more how much you overcame, and how incredibly strong you are.”

He’s not sure Kensi’s imagination can quite picture some of the things he’s done, but her words make him feel loved and safe in a way he can’t ever remember experiencing.

Summer has come and passed
The innocent can never last
Wake me up when September ends

Like my father’s come to pass
Twenty years has gone so fast
Wake me up when September ends

September 29th, 2018

He hasn’t felt this miserable since Kensi was in a coma. Thankfully she is currently alive and well, sleeping in the twin bed across from him in this shitty little Mexican motel as he lays on his side studying her beautiful face. How had things gone off the rails between them so suddenly? Kensi is his world; he’d be nowhere without her. She believes in him like no one ever has. Her faith in him has allowed him to believe in himself, to believe maybe he isn’t just like his father. And that budding belief has resulted in a yearning to be a father himself. He’s always wanted to be a dad, to be better than his old man. It’s the only way he can know for sure.

Kensi stirs, and wakes with a start, immediately looking over to him, as if to confirm he’s still here.

“Hey,” he whispers.

“Hey,” she replies.

“Listen, Kens, I know now isn’t the time to get into it, but I wanted to say that we can work things out. I know we’ll figure it out, OK? We always do, right?”

“I don’t know, Deeks.” She looks at him sadly. “We seem to have different priorities, and you don’t even want to marry me now, and–”

“I do, Kensi, I absolutely do want to marry you. It’s just that–”

“Please, I can’t do this right now, OK? We could be up all night hashing things out, and we may not succeed, and we have to be ready for tomorrow. Can we please just wait until we get home?”

“Sure, Kens, sure.”

Disappointment and heartache color her expression and it kills him that he has hurt her. He waits to see if she’ll say anything else, or give him an opening to talk more, but she merely says, “Night, Deeks,” and rolls over, leaving her back to him.

“Night, Kens.” He wants to add, “I love you,” but worries it might somehow upset her more, so he leaves her be. He rolls onto his back and stares up at the dingy ceiling and listens to the still-heavy traffic on the street outside.

He never should have allowed himself to dream so big, to believe maybe he could have it all, have the happiest of endings. He probably doesn’t deserve it anyway, but he’s come so close. Only now Kensi is talking about never having kids, and his world is unraveling. Despite his words about not getting married, he’ll never leave Kensi unless it’s in a body bag, or she sends him away. He just needs to complete this godforsaken mission and have a little space to explain that to her. And if she doesn’t want kids, he’ll live with that decision so long as it means he has her in his life. He knows that now. He lost track of the big picture in the heat of their argument, his desire for children momentarily blinding him to his far greater need to have her – his sunshine and gunpowder – in his life.

He’ll get over it eventually. He’ll just always wonder if he could have done it, if he had it in him to have been a good father. He thinks, no, he believes he could have, and maybe that will have to be enough.

Wake me up when September ends
Wake me up when September ends

October 2nd, 2022

“She’s beautiful,” murmurs Rosa amidst a cacophony of barking as she holds the small bundle of fur in her hands. She peers up at Deeks, a question in her eyes.

He quietly sighs and nods, a hand running thoughtfully over his scruff. “She is pretty cute.”

“I know she’s not what we came for,” Rosa says, resignation tinging her face.

Deeks takes in his daughter’s expression, and the small kitten she holds so carefully. This little black and white feline is definitely not the dog they agreed to look for. He had a hard time after Monty died, but after several months had decided it was time to give a new puppy a home. When he ran the idea by Rosa, she was excited at the prospect and asked if she could come with him to the shelter.

It’s been four months since Rosa moved in with them. Now he knows. He’s certain. There’s no longer a doubt in his mind. The love he feels for his now-adopted daughter is all-encompassing. He’d do anything she asked of him. The idea that he could ever hurt her in any way is incomprehensible. He’d die to protect her, in a heartbeat. He is not his father.

“I think she needs a home, and a family, people to look after her,” Deeks softly declares.

“Well, if she has you looking out for her, she’ll be very lucky,” Rosa replies.

Kensi brought him peace, and hope, but Rosa has brought him a profound sense of self, an ability to love himself. He sees it now. He’s not a monster. He beat the monster and became a good person who’s done lots of good in the world. He has made terrible mistakes, but he’s a good man, a good husband, and a wonderful dad. He is not his father.

“Thanks, Rosalita.” He gives her a half hug and a kiss on the top of her head, careful not to frighten the kitten, while he fights back the tears that threaten to overtake him. Hear clears his throat and asks, “Now, what do you think Kensi would say if we also bring home this little furball’s brother? I mean, the more the merrier, right?”

The smile that lights up his daughter’s face is all he needs, and everything he ever wanted.

A/N: OK, I took some liberties with my dating of “Ninguna Salida,” but the events of “To Live and Die in Mexico” occurred the day after and it aired September 30th, so I went with it. And I’m assuming Deeks’ proclaiming to Kensi in “Borderline” that his father had shot at him on Thanksgiving was no more true than the timeline of six years earlier that her.

Thanks to Lindy for her very helpful edits, and to Lyssa for catching a major timeline error and helping me figure out how to fix it, and to the both of them for being so generally supportive and awesome. Any remaining errors are my own. And thanks to Diane for humoring my inability to find a summer song I could work with and still including me in this series.

About Karen (287 Articles)
wikiDeeks Writer & Assistant Editor. I never wrote for fun before... until my ECO-obsession. Now I love to analyze any and all aspects of the best character on television.

5 Comments on Wake Me Up When September Ends: NCISLA Summer Song FanFic Series

  1. Thank you for this work of art Karen. A great mixture of what we see and what we would like to see. We rely on stories like this to get the aftermath and the repercussions of Deeks experiences. We want to see Deeks happy, too.

    I’m pleased to see I’m not the only one who thinks Deeks would call Rosa, Rosalita.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much Patricia! I’m really glad you liked the story. And yeah, by now he must have many, many nicknames for Rosa. Can’t wait to hear some of them.


  2. I love this story and am kicking myself for waiting so damned long to read it! Deeks’ repeated struggles to forgive himself for his prior “bad acts” and believe that he is a good person who is capable of being a good father were heartbreaking. For every two steps he took forward, he’d stumble back one. I’m so glad that he finally realized and accepted the truth at the end. Beautiful job, Karen!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much Donna! I’m glad you finally dove into the sea of angst that was this story. I wanted to explore Deeks’ evolving feelings about fatherhood. I’m afraid that entailed a lot of pain and insecurity before Kensi helped him to his happy ending. I would love to see the show address this directly, to give us confirmation that Deeks really does feel that he’s a worthy father. I think it’s pretty clear that he does, but I can’t help but wish for some direct discussion on the topic.


  3. Beautifully written Karen. What a great line about Deeks thinking he was punished for kissing Kensi.
    I love the way you brought bits and pieces of episodes into your the story.
    Now, if the writers would only temper his perceived incompetence and sometimes clownish behavior with the deeper soulful Deeks it would be appreciated. You write about the Deeks, I love. His humor drew me in, but his heart won me over.
    Can’t help thinking about the song Tears of a Clown.


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