Teaming up with Callen was rare. He missed working with Kensi, but it was nice to be able to spend a little time with the most aloof member of the team. They had grown somewhat close when Callen lived above his bar, but they hadn’t exactly become besties. Sam still filled that position, but Deeks had hopes that during this assignment as working partners, Callen might open up a little bit, especially since he and Anna were planning a wedding. He had a few pieces of advice he could lay on him about how to deal with the ins and outs of that maze of choices. He needed to warn him how choosing napkin colors and cake flavors was a minefield he needed to be aware of. The man really had no idea what was coming. Yet he still claimed to miss riding with Sam. Hurtful, if one accepted the pain, which he didn’t.
Callen didn’t share easily, and he truly could be aloof, so he hadn’t expected him to be effusive. He deflected as usual when the subject touched on what it meant to be a two badge family after mentioning the possibility that Anna might leave law enforcement. But that didn’t stop his own mind from revisiting that old concern, especially now that Rosa was part of their family.
After Callen ended their “good talk”, he wondered where Kensi was and how she was doing. It was still hard to see her paired with anyone other than himself. He knew Fatima was competent, but he never could quite shake the fear of losing her whenever they were separated. Now with a daughter to worry about, that fear became more intense. This case and the photos on that side table at the kidnapped parents’ house brought all those concerns up close and decidedly personal.
He’d told Callen how tough Rosa was, and she was. A champ. A teenager who had survived and was thriving, but who had yet to take him up on his offer to talk about anything bothering her. When he’d been a teenager there had always been things he kept to himself, and now he hated being on the opposite side of that equation. She had to have questions, concerns, yet she just wouldn’t open up to him and, truth be told, that hurt a little. Did she understand just how dangerous their jobs were? Did it worry her as much as it did him and Kensi? With both of them in harm’s way every workday it still lingered in the back of his mind. How would Rosa cope if one of them died? Or both? And what would they do if it was Kensi who paid the ultimate sacrifice? Could he carry on alone? Was he prepared for that scenario? All those questions came crashing into his mind when Rountree reported she and Fatima were missing.
“Find them!” he shouted.
To be honest, he hardly thought about Fatima. It was Kensi he needed to find… to make her safe so their lives as a new family could go on. Kensi was his anchor. His love. His world. Without her he would be lost. The fear that he might be left all alone with a teenage girl to raise crowded out everything else. They had talked on endless occasions about the danger inherent in having children while they both held such dangerous jobs. But fostering Rosa had happened so fast, and was so welcomed, that that discussion had been set aside. Kensi started every day now with a smile. She was so happy. He was too, but the reality hadn’t changed.
The tension mounted the closer they got to Kensi and Fatima’s location, and they still couldn’t make contact.
“She can take care of herself, Deeks,” Callen said. “They both can. They’ll have each other’s back.”
“I know that, but that doesn’t make it any easier.”
“I do, but…”
“We’ll get there, Deeks. Hang in there, partner.”
“Trying,” he replied, touched that he’d called him partner. “Guess Sam would have handled this better.”
“Not by a long shot. He goes crazy when anyone in his family is in danger. He’d drive us into a ditch to get to them. I know you remember how intense he got.”
“I’d just as soon not think about that right now.”
“This is different, Deeks. And I know you’re scared about all the things that could go wrong, but all in all, I’d say you’re handling it pretty well. Kensi is tough.”
“Michelle was tough too.”
“Don’t go there. This is not the same. Stay focused, partner.”
“Copy that,” he said and then urged him to go faster.
“No back seat driving allowed.”
“I’m guessing Sam didn’t allow any either.”
“Want me to give you the Sam Hanna scowl?”
“Seen it,” Deeks said with a brief grin.
The banter helped, and he appreciated Callen talking him down. When they reached the warehouse, it was all over. Kensi and Fatima had taken down the bad guys.
“Hey,” he said softly as he greeter her. “Looks like you got a boo-boo there.”
“No biggie, baby,” she said, lightly touching the scratch on her forehead.
“Want me to kiss it and make it better?” he asked, reaching for her.
“Not right now, Daddy Deeks,” she said with a smile. “Were you worried about me? You look a little stressed.”
“We couldn’t make contact and it freaked me out a little. But Callen said I handled it well.”
“High praise coming from him,” she said and took his hand. “You okay?”
“Me? You were the one in danger.”
“After all these years, you should know I can handle myself.”
“I do know that, but things are different now,” he said quietly.
“Yeah, Rosa,” he replied, squeezing her hand. “If something had happened to you, do you know how many tutors I would have to hire just to get her through high school?”
“I appreciate that you’re trying to joke about this, but we can’t live in fear, Deeks.”
“Easier said than done, Kens.”
“I know. I worry too.”
“Do you think Rosa does? I mean does she realize how dangerous our jobs are? That one day one or both of us might not come home? Shouldn’t we have that conversation with her?”
“I’m not sure how to answer that,” Kensi replied. “She’s been through so much, do we really want to scare her with that possibility?”
“So, we play the odds and let the cards fall where they may?”
“Isn’t that what everyone does? There are no guarantees in life. No promises that tragedy won’t happen. All we can do is love her every day and give her everything we can to make her happy.”
“Just an old-fashioned loving home.”
“Something like that.”
“You know I love you, right? We need to tell her that… every day. Make sure she knows that.”
“I think she already does.”
“Think she’ll love us more if we get her that math tutor?”
“Couldn’t hurt. Better than her watching you tear your hair out trying to help her solve calculus.”
“Tutors are good people,” he laughed. “Let’s find one.”
“You two coming?” Callen yelled. “I’m buying”
“Now there’s a good partner,” Deeks smiled.