wikiDeeks Drabble of the Week for “Of Value“
A/N: This takes place a few days post “Of Value”.
Deeks was in the middle of some yard work when Callen’s car pulled up in front of the house. He tugged his baseball hat off, wiping sweat off his forehead while he watched Callen grab a brown paper bag from the passenger seat and make his way up the sidewalk.
“Hey, Kilbride send you to track me down or something?” Deeks called once Callen was in speaking distance.
“Nah. I heard you were alone for the day, and thought you might want some company,” he answered as he reached into the bag and pulled out a six pack of brown bottles. “You have time for a beer?”
Callen had never stopped by without an invite before, but Deeks decided not to comment on that. It was warm out, he was thirsty, and he would bet his brand-new surfboard that Callen had more on his mind than a simple drink.
“Sure. Come on in the back.”
A few minutes later, they were camped out on the patio with chilled beers and a package of pretzels Deeks found in the pantry. It reminded Deeks of when they used to grab a couple bottles at the Squid and Dagger after work. They’d lost some of that camaraderie since selling the place.
After finishing about half his beer, Callen glanced around the yard, nodding at the remains of their vegetable and flower gardens. “You guys really fixed the place up. It looks good,” he said. He’d already asked about Rosa, Kensi, and Roberta so Deeks supposed home improvement was all he had left for small talk.
“Thanks. I can’t really take much credit though, since Rosa was pretty much in charge of the gardens. She’s amazing,” Deeks said, pausing as he noticed Callen nod distractedly. “Something tells me you didn’t just come over to talk agriculture and drink my favorite beer.”
“That obvious, huh?”
“Well, you’re not usually this interested in our do-it-yourself projects. What’s on your mind?”
“The other day, you were trying to get me to open up,” Callen began, slowly rolling his beer between his hands. It wasn’t much, but it struck Deeks as a particularly nervous gesture for a man who usually had his emotions tightly under wraps.
“Yeah, and you wanted me to keep my questions to myself,” Deeks interjected with a smirk. “Sorry for prying.”
“No, it’s OK. You actually got me thinking about a few things.” To Deeks’ raised eyebrow, he rolled his eyes, and clarified, “No, not kid things.”
“I did not say anything.”
“Right.” He paused again and looked slightly beyond Deeks. “I am trying to figure out how to move forward with my life and come to terms with my past.”
“Wow, that is a lot to unpack,” Deeks murmured, echoing his words from last time they talked. A part of him was thrilled that Callen was actually trusting him enough to finally open up. Another smaller part was terrified he’d screw this up horrifically.
“It is,” Callen agreed. “I’ve spent so long trying to figure out who I am, chasing the past, that I don’t know how to exist without it.” He absently fiddled with a small piece of the label from his bottle. “When I found my dad and then Alex and Jake, I thought I found my purpose, my family.”
“But then they were taken away too,” Deeks commented softly, with sympathy.
“And then they were taken. Left.” Bitterness entered his voice. “I should be happy now. I have Anna, we have a house, a future, but I keep searching for more answers and I don’t know how to stop.”
“I know I didn’t go through half of what you did, and I can’t pretend to know what you’re going through now,” Deeks began, pausing to take a sip while he gathered his thoughts. “But I do know about letting your past dictate your future. For the longest time, I thought that becoming my father was my destiny and I let that control some of my choices. I isolated myself and was terrified of opening myself up to anyone in case they found out who I really was. Being with Kensi helped me realize that I was more than the son of an alcoholic, the kid with a troubled past… a terrible father.”
“So what you’re telling me is Anna is the key to all my problems,” Callen summarized with just a touch of sarcasm.
“Well, a lot of them. You need to be honest with yourself. What’s going to give you peace and happiness? Maybe what you’re doing right now does support that. Can you be a good husband, a good partner, and keep searching for answers? Maybe you’ll find out that having all the answers doesn’t fix everything.” He glanced at Callen, who looked back with a carefully blank face. “In my case, facing my fears of what I might become was worth it to have the life I have now. It wasn’t easy and I had a lot of help, but it was what I needed. ‘Cause let me tell you, Callen, what I have right now is pretty amazing.”
“And I want that too, but habits are hard to break,” Callen said softly after a minute, a wistfulness in his voice.
“Amen to that, brother” Deeks agreed, reaching over to clink his bottle against Callen’s. “You’ll get there eventually. And you got a whole team of people ready to help you. If you want.”
Deeks lifted his bottle, waiting until Callen did the same.
“To breaking bad habits.”
Callen didn’t repeat the toast but clinked his bottle against Deeks’ and drank.
As he watched Callen’s gaze drift back to the garden, Deeks could only hope he’d done enough.
A/N: This story operates under the assumption that Deeks doesn’t fully know what Callen has been up to in his spare time. So, if some of his advice seems slightly callous, it’s because he’s not working with the whole story.
Thanks once again to Lyssa for helping me whip this story into shape.