On Even Ground: Drabble 11/20/22
wikiDeeks Drabble of the Week for “Survival of the Fittest”.
A/N: I hope you enjoy this highly indulgent story. I just couldn’t stand how things ended between Kilbride and Deeks.
Deeks walked into the mission, bypassed the bullpen, and headed directly upstairs. He’d had enough time while he recovered from the flu to mull over Kilbride’s chastisement and subsequent non-apology. He had thought up to this point that he and the admiral had a certain understanding, earned mutual respect. Clearly Deeks had been wrong about that, but he didn’t plan to let it go like he had in the past.
As he reached the top landing, Deeks inhaled slowly, nodding to himself before he approached Kilbride’s office and knocked three times on the glass door.
“Enter,” Kilbride called out, glancing up as Deeks swung the door open. “Ah, Deeks, good to see you didn’t perish. From Agent Blye’s recounting, you were at death’s door.”
“Maybe a slight exaggeration,” Deeks allowed. “But I am feeling better.” He paused, and Kilbride glanced up expectantly. “There’s something I need to talk to you about, Sir.”
Kilbride’s sighed, glancing at the spread of papers on his desk, but gestured to a chair anyway.
“Alright, have a seat. What is the emergency today? Not enough vanilla in your coffee?” he asked sarcastically. It only reinforced Deeks’ decision to come here today.
Lifting his chin, Deeks stared the admiral directly in the eye without a hint of his characteristic humor. “No, Sir. I actually wanted to address something you said to me the other day. Well, you said a lot of things. You’re right, I have been here for thirteen years,” he began, speaking more slowly and seriously than he typically did.
It seemed to gain Kilbride’s attention. At least until Deeks finished, then he rolled his eyes.
“Deeks, we’ve already discussed this. It was a misunderstanding.”
“Not to be contrary, but you said your piece. I did very little talking for either of those “discussions”. You made it very clear how you see me, so I thought it’s only fair to have my say too.
“In these thirteen years, do you know the things I’ve been through for this team? I’ve been in more explosions than I can count, endured traumatic brain injuries, gunshot wounds. Sidorov? I assume you’ve heard of him.”
Kilbride’s jaw clenched at the name, and he nodded sharply. “I read the file.”
“The file,” Deeks laughed softly, yet humorlessly. “Does the file tell you that I have lingering, but well-managed PTSD from that case? That sometimes my jaw still aches or that I can’t see a dentist’s pick without my heart racing?”
Kilbride’s jaw tightened even more with every word, that same haunted look starting to cross his face. Deeks continued on; Kilbride hadn’t cut his tirade short to spare Deeks’ feelings and he wouldn’t either.
“My relationship with Kensi nearly fell apart while I was here, and this job, and everything that comes with it is one the main reasons we almost didn’t have kids.” Inhaling deeply, Deeks closed his eyes for a few moments to calm himself again. When he felt more in control, he opened his eyes to see Kilbride watching him with a guarded expression.
“You’ve obviously endured a lot over the years, Investigator, but what exactly is your point?” Kilbride asked tightly, a ballpoint pen gripped just as firmly in his fist. “My point is, after all that. After everything I have sacrificed, and would willingly sacrifice again, I deserve better. I’m not some rookie slacking off, or someone who’s gotten a little too comfortable in my position.
“Yes, I was late. I can’t deny that, but you were out of line to speak to me the way you did. In front of my coworkers no less.” Deeks eyed him pointedly, and maybe with a little less respect than he normally would give a supervisor. “None of us should be treated like misbehaving children.”
“I don’t coddle people, Deeks. You know that, and there’s been far too much leeway with all of you the last several months.”
“Oh, I am fully aware of that, Admiral. I’m not looking for special treatment, especially from you. Just the understanding and the respect I’m due. I’ve earned it. I don’t care if my hair drives you crazy or that I ramble sometimes. I do my job and I do it damn well.”
Deeks finished, and calmly folded his hands on the desk while Kilbride stared him down. He resisted his normal tendency to fill the silence and ease the discomfort with a joke. When Deeks didn’t so much as flinch, Kilbride’s expression shifted to one of grudging respect.
“Well, you’ve laid out your argument very neatly,” he said finally, smoothing his hands over the surface of his desk. “Though, I suppose I shouldn’t expect any less from a former lawyer. So what are your demands?”
“This isn’t an opportunity to manipulate or make demands,” Deeks retorted. “Like I said, I just want respect. I guess that is my one demand.”
Kilbride cracked the smallest hint of a smile and nodded.
“We do not always see eye-to-eye, Deeks. I have a short temper, and I admittedly, can let my judgment be clouded by your… eccentricities.” He smiled more genuinely, if a little sadly. “However, I will work to correct my knee-jerk reactions.”
“Then that’s all I can ask for,” Deeks said, extending his hand. Kilbride hesitated every so lightly before he shook it, his grip firm. It still wasn’t an apology, but Deeks hadn’t really expected, or needed one. He stood, giving Kilbride a final nod. “I hope you have a good rest of your day, Admiral.”
Deeks left the office with his head held high, on even ground for once.
A/N: Once again, thanks to Lyssa for whipping things into shape.
Well done, Em. Their interactions bring some tension to the team, and I now look forward to seeing what comes next. Hopefully it’s a scene like yours. Happy Thanksgiving.
Thank you, Lindy!
Thank you, Em. You wrote the words I would have liked to have heard out of Deeks’ mouth “I deserve better……”. If there is one thing Deeks deserves from everyone it is to be respected..
Would have been a great extended scene.
No one should have to put up with that kind of treatment. As Deeks should have said “That’s a HR violation”.