Rhymes and Reasons: NCISLA Epilogue Fan Fiction
A/N: Many thanks to Karen for suggesting that I turn a small drabble into a longer piece. The first section of this story is the original drabble I wrote and the rest is all new.
The lyrics below, which are from the John Denver song “Rhymes and Reasons,” spoke to me one day and seemed to fit certain themes of this story.
So you speak to me of sadness
And the coming of the winter
Fear that is within you now
It seems to never end
And the dreams that have escaped you
And the hope that you’ve forgotten
You tell me that you need me now
You want to be my friend
And you wonder where we’re going
Where’s the rhyme and where’s the reason
-Rhymes and Reasons
– – – – – –
“This case certainly didn’t turn out how I expected,” Kensi said, plopping down onto the couch next to Deeks. He acknowledged her closeness with a flick of his eyes, but didn’t respond otherwise, deep in thought. “I was so ready to blame Adebayo for Wassner’s death and then it turned into a murder investigation. Either way, the outcome was tragic.”
Sighing heavily, she ran both hands through her hair, then pulled up a smile from somewhere.
“So, that handwriting analysis you pulled with the letters was pretty impressive. I bet you’ve been dying to tell me about it all day.”
“We compared the two letters, noticed there were discrepancies between the way some letters were written. That’s pretty much it,” he summed up woodenly.
Tucking her leg under herself, Kensi twisted to face him, and nudged his shoulder. “You know, I could use some of that patented Marty Deeks humor right about now,” she prompted, poking his shoulder.
Deeks exhaled noisily, which did nothing to dispel his heavy thoughts. “I honestly don’t think I have that in me tonight,” he admitted.
“Babe.” He heard Kensi’s concern in the single word, followed by her hand covering his forearm. “Hey, what’s going on?”
“I used to find some kind of satisfaction, or relief, in concluding cases like this. At least we were seeing justice served, but, uh, I don’t feel that anymore. I just feel dread and this darkness I can’t shake. I feel… hopeless,” he said.
Tonight, Rountree’s unexpected joke had provided a momentary distraction, but any humor was long gone by now.
“Deeks,” Kensi said, dismay in her voice. “How long has this been going on for?”
“A while. I don’t really know for sure.” He shook his head once. It was something that had creeped up on him slowly. “At some point, it just got harder to brush it off. And I try, you know, I really try to be the guy that makes everyone laugh and forget, but it’s getting harder and harder to do.”
“You don’t need to be that guy for us, Deeks. I just need you to be OK.”
He dragged his hands through his hair and made a rough sound of exhaustion, slumping in the cushions.
“I will be. I just need some time to get through this slump,” he assured her.
“What can I do?” Kensi asked, desperation tinging her voice.
“Remind me why we do this. Give me hope.”
Deeks tried to get beyond the darkness plaguing him. He tried all the usual things that helped: surfing, running, holding Kensi close. But none of it worked. Not even Kensi or Rosa could dispel the feelings.
That was the turning point, when he knew he needed to do something more. When he realized that he was putting on an act more often than not and Kensi’s laugh, or Rosa’s latest cooking creation, didn’t bring any joy.
And that scared him. Enough to make him call their therapist of his own volition.
For the first time in years, he broke his promise to Kensi and hid the true depths of his problems. She knew he was starting therapy again, but didn’t know the degree to which he was struggling. If it scared him, he could only imagine how worried Kensi would be. At least, that was what he told himself to excuse the lie of omission.
Even though he trusted Dr. Anu Dewan and had known her for years, he still felt uneasy at these appointments. Maybe it was the years of ingrained training to keep his worst feelings and thoughts to himself lest someone use them against him.
Dr. Dewan ushered him in after just a few minutes, letting him get settled while she moved around her office, fixing a cup of tea. A minute later, she returned, and handed Deeks a mug of coffee, reassuring him before he could turn it down.
Deeks accepted it with a small nod of thanks, appreciating that she anticipated his anxiety.
“So, how are Kensi and your daughter?” she asked, taking her own mug to a padded chair opposite Deeks. Unlike his, her chair sat low to the ground to accommodate her short legs.
“Rosa and Kensi are doing good. Great, actually. Rosa’s dating, talking about college, making friends. It’s amazing and scary at the same time, but I wouldn’t change it for anything,” Deeks said, feeling the tiniest amount of lightness as he thought of his girls.
“That sounds wonderful. I’m happy for you.” Dr. Anu paused to sip at her tea. “And what about you, Deeks?”
Deeks expelled a short breath. “I’m struggling. I mean, obviously, otherwise I wouldn’t be here.”
“It’s not a specific thing I can put a name to. I just feel… dark and empty all the time. Hopeless.” He brought a hand to his chest, feeling a pain there that wasn’t physical.
Dr. Anu straightened, picking up on the desolation in his tone.
“This is changed from how you’ve felt before?” she asked.
Deeks nodded. “It’s worse. Before this, it usually got bad when we had a rough case, and I could pull myself out of those moments after a day or two.” He hesitated, and then added, “It’s almost as bad as the summer after I was tortured, but without any major trauma. But it’s like I feel the impact of every case, and every negative thing hits me harder and harder every day.”
“Marty, this is a very important question, and I need you to answer me honestly. Have you felt the urge to hurt yourself?”
“No,” he said. “Not yet at least.”
“Good. But you’re concerned.”
“Yeah. It’s getting to the point I can’t hide it at work, definitely not from Kensi. I get lost in every terrible outcome we see, the never-ending pain, the tragedy. And I can’t get out.”
“Do you still like your job?”
Deeks blinked at the seemingly non sequitur. “I mean, I value what we do. I love the team; they’re our support system.” He shrugged. “I can’t imagine not helping people. It’s what I’ve always done.”
“Well, maybe we can figure out a way for you to do that in another way. Because from what I’m hearing, working for NCIS is the root cause of your difficulties. I don’t think staying there is a healthy option for you anymore.”
“What else would I do?”
“You mentioned before that you owned a bar.”
“Yeah, but that went the way of shag carpets with COVID and everything. We couldn’t manage the overhead. Besides, if Kensi’s in the field—”
“Yes, I know and understand your concerns about leaving Kensi alone with the frequent danger of your jobs, but at some point, you have to think of yourself. You need to be in a place to support Kensi and your daughter. And from the sound of it, NCIS is no longer that place for you.”
“I’ve considered leaving more times than you can imagine, and we’ve discussed it for years now, when the time is right. I just know that Kensi’s not ready yet. Because there’s always someone to help. The thought of leaving her alone, it terrifies me.”
“I understand your concern, Marty. It’s a good and reasonable fear. You need to put your welfare at the forefront this time. You need to consider how much more you can handle before you reach a point of no return.” She settled back in her chair. “I don’t want to put words in Kensi’s mouth, but something tells me that she’d want you to make this choice for you. She wants you healthy and happy too.”
Deeks blinked rapidly, looking beyond her. She’d touched on one of his greatest fears; that Kensi would resent him for abandoning her. Having someone confirm that he wasn’t a terrible person for wanting, no needing, to get out, was both a relief and terrifying.
“There’s so much to lose,” he said.
“As much as if you continue to feel the way you do and don’t take actions to change it?” Dewan asked softly. She scooted to the edge of her seat. “Marty, I can give you medications, and strategies, which will help, but it will not get at the root of your problems. Not in my experience. Encountering your triggers and that darkness every day will continue to eat at you.”
“I don’t know what to do.”
“Talk to Kensi. I’m happy to schedule a couple’s session with you, but I think you two should discuss it on your own first. Decide what’s best for you as a couple, as a family, but most importantly, figure out what is best for you, Marty Deeks.”
“How was your session with Dr. Dewan?” Kensi asked while they were cooking dinner that evening, saving him from having to broach the topic himself. Fortunately, Rosa was at a friend’s house, so they didn’t have to worry about her overhearing. “Did it help?”
Deeks braced himself on the counter, thinking of how to answer. He’d planned it out so many different ways, but now he felt at a loss.
“Babe?” Kensi crossed over from the stove, covering his forearm with hers, concern in her eyes. “What happened?”
“Um, I told her about how I was feeling and that work seems to be making it worse. And she suggested that I think about finding a less… stressful job.”
“Well, in the grand scheme of things, that seems pretty doable,” Kensi said with barely a pause. Like she’d expected this outcome.
“What about the financial consequences? We’re doing OK now, but if I can’t find a good job quickly—”
He sighed, reaching down to fiddle with collar of Kensi’s shirt.
“I’ll be abandoning you. You know that’s one of the main reasons I’ve stayed so long. So we can watch each other’s backs.”
“I know. I would have you by my side every day if I could. You’re my partner, the person I trust more than anyone else.” She sniffled and pressed her lips together, running her hands up his arms. “But your well-being is more important than any of that.”
“That’s what Dr. Dewan said you’d say.”
“She’s a smart woman.”
“This’ll mean we spend less time together,” Deeks said. They both heard what he didn’t say. Looping her arms around his neck, Kensi pressed her forehead to his.
“I trust everyone on the team to watch my back. I promise I’ll be careful.”
“Thank you,” Deeks whispered, fingers clenching in the back of her shirt as he wept into her shoulder.
“Just think,” Kensi said, sounding just as wrecked as he felt. “You’ll be able to take Rosa to school every day and maybe make me dinner every night.”
“That sounds amazing.”
6 Weeks Later
Deeks glanced around the bullpen, filled with a sense of combined fulfillment and wistfulness. The remnants of a cake that bore a partial whimsical caricature of Deeks sat on a decorated table, the office staff had left, and a small pile of presents were stacked on his streamer-covered desk. The rest of the team were around the building completing last minute tasks for the day.
Two days after his talk with Kensi, Deeks had turned in his letter of resignation with the promise to stay on until they hired his replacement. Surprisingly, after expressing his displeasure, Kilbride tried to convince him to stay, first reminding Deeks of his duty and then mentioning various perks he could offer.
When Deeks remained firm, Kilbride surprised him with a firm handshake, and the promise of an open position if he ever changed his mind. If he didn’t know better Deeks might have thought the Admiral seemed almost proud.
Somehow, having a set timeline for the end of his career with NCIS made it easier to manage. He let himself bask in the good moments, each “last”, which helped relieve the heaviness.
Smiling to himself now, Deeks grabbed a small box next to his desk and began emptying out the contents of the drawers. He’d already cleared out his locker, not that there was all that much left in either place. Over the years, he’d kept increasingly fewer personal items at work. He tossed a handful of office supplies in, along with an old plaque and ID. Underneath, he found a slightly crumpled origami giraffe. Deeks studied it for a few seconds, then carefully placed it inside a pencil holder. The final object inside was an envelope containing a small collection of pictures.
Deeks poured them out into his hand; the top picture showed him and Kensi huddled together with Eric and Nell on either side, Callen and Sam in the rear. He vividly remembered taking it after a spontaneous and competitive basketball game, and he covered his mouth, emotion sweeping through him.
Blinking back tears, he shuffled through the rest of the pictures, spending a few moments on each. Racing Callen on the rock wall, Nell and him hamming it up during after work drinks. A candid of just him and Kensi before they were together.
“Hey, you’re not thinking of skipping out without saying goodbye, are you?” Sam asked, and Deeks quickly slipped the pictures back in the envelope as everyone filtered back in.
“Yeah, no, I just wanted to be ready.”
“Well, good thing, cause we’re not done celebrating.” Sam lifted a full bottle of bourbon as evidence. Behind him, Kensi jiggled a tray of glasses.
Pushing back from his desk, Deeks regarded them with narrowed eyes. “I thought the cake and box full of hair care products qualified as my celebration.”
“Oh no, we’re sending you off in style,” Callen said.
Kensi laid out the glasses on her desk, and Sam poured a healthy amount of Maker’s into each, then passed them around.
Coming to the center of the room, Sam stopped directly in front of Deeks. After his recent stroll down memory lane, Deeks was definitely not prepared for this.
“Deeks, when I first met you, I disliked everything about you.”
“Really starting out strong,” Deeks joked, earning a couple laughs. Sam just gave a half smile.
“I did. But you didn’t let that affect you. You work different than anyone else I know, but you’re one of the best. You’re my brother and I love you, man. And I’m going to miss your shaggy ass.” Sam raised his glass, fixing Deeks with a dimpled smile.
The pressure of oncoming tears pressed against the back of Deeks’ eyes again. He nodded, unable to say anything at the moment. Thankfully, Kensi stepped forward, and sat next to him, grabbing his hand under the desk.
“Thanks, Sam. I love you too, brother,” Deeks managed.
Stepping to the side, Sam made room for Fatima. She offered a nervous shrug, both her hands cupped around her glass. “Um, I haven’t known you as long as Sam, or Kensi, or Callen, but from the day I started here, you were welcoming. You taught me to take myself less seriously, and along with Kensi, how to be a good partner, and above all, a true and reliable friend.” She lifted her glass too, then moved to the side, almost like they’d rehearsed the whole thing.
“It’s hard to follow up what Sam said,” Rountree began. “So I guess all I can say is thanks for being a great mentor, even though I almost got us blown up my first day.” Everyone laughed again at that, and Fatima lightly pushed his shoulder reprovingly. “You have integrity and that’s visible in pretty much everything you do. I’m lucky I got the chance to work with you.”
Unlike the others, Callen stayed where he was. “You’re going to be hard to replace, Deeks,” he said, keeping it simple.
Finally everyone’s attention on her, Kensi shifted to face Deeks. She gathered his other hand between hers, looking down briefly.
“Marty Deeks.” Kensi cleared her throat, her smile sweet and wistful. “You are my partner, my best friend, my husband. You’ve saved my life a thousand times and in so many more ways than you will ever know. You are strong, incredibly brave, resilient, and” she laughed wetly. “Oh god, I wasn’t supposed to cry. Baby, you are so good, and I can’t wait to see what you do next.”
They were both crying a little by now, and Kensi brushed a tear from his cheek, wrapping her arms tightly around him. When they pulled away a few moments later, Sam raised his glass.
“To Marty Deeks. Our teammate, friend, and brother.”
12 Weeks Later – Late July
Deeks leaned forward, gazing at the tips of his recently shined shoes, his reflection just visible in the black sheen. If someone had told him a few years ago that he’d willingly set foot inside a law school again, he’d have laughed at them. Yet here he was, waiting for an interview with the UWLA Law School Assistant Dean.
The small waiting room was empty aside from Deeks and a secretary, quietly working at her computer. Outside, several students passed by, laughter and indistinguishable words filtering through the glass. With any luck, he’d be teaching some of those students in a few weeks.
For the first few weeks after his resignation, Deeks had spent time getting used to this new version of life. Though his relief was instantaneous, as Dr. Anu had warned him was possible, the feelings of despair didn’t disappear overnight. Honestly, even months later it was still a work in progress, but there was definite improvement.
He’d continued his weekly therapy appointments and spent a lot of time in the ocean. Even more healing were the morning drives to school and afternoons spent with Rosa. He relished the uninterrupted chance to bond, and just be a parent for a change.
From there, he’d explored the possibilities. For the first time in decades, he had time to think about what he wanted from life.
One week while cleaning out the garage, he’d dug out the brewing kit he’d kept from the bar, and he and Callen tried their hand at beer making again. That was something of a disaster. Fun and freeing for sure, but after a tasting they’d come to the group conclusion that crafting beer just wasn’t in their future.
He’d also started meeting with his Vets surfing group more frequently, which turned out to be just as therapeutic for Deeks as it was for the other participants. Mentorship, helping people, had always been an integral, and natural, part of his makeup. He hadn’t even realized how much he needed it. It renewed him in ways he couldn’t have anticipated.
Slowly, he’d eased back into work, taking on a few legal cases sent his way through the soup kitchen he still worked with. It wasn’t exactly lucrative, since most of his clientele were struggling families, but that wasn’t the point for him now.
Realistically, he could have slid back into a law as a full-time career. He’d had attractive offers from several smaller law firms. That would require him to start charging regular fees and curb his ability to pick and choose his clients.
What did pique his interest were the other lawyers around him. He saw so many lawyers who wanted to help those in horrible circumstances, like Rosa or the hundreds of women and children facing domestic violence, but they just didn’t have the necessary skills and knowledge to properly handle those cases.
With that as his driving force, Deeks had started submitting his resume to various law programs throughout LA. Fortunately, he’d completed most of the coursework necessary to teach back when he’d been put on leave from LAPD, so he wouldn’t be starting from square one. So far, he’d had two other interviews, which had gone well, but unfortunately didn’t result in any job offers.
Deeks rose immediately, reaching to greet the tall, balding man who had just stepped out of the office at the end of the hall. “Yes.” He shook the older man’s hand.
“Professor Steve Zand, Assistant Dean here at UWLA. It’s good to meet you, Marty,” he said with a welcoming smile. “Come on back to my office.”
Once they were settled, Professor Zand flipped open a file folder. He studied one of the documents, which Deeks recognized as one the cover page of his resume, then folded his hands atop the paper.
“I’ve read your resume and your references, and I have to say, I like what I see. You seem driven and passionate about law, though you haven’t practiced regularly in some time. I’m curious what brought you back and why you’re interested int teaching now.”
Deeks had anticipated this question. He’d planned a number of different answers, none of which seemed completely accurate or encompassing of his motivations. He smiled softly, facing the Assistant Dean calmly and for once, answered with complete honesty.
“Well, when I was a boy, my dad was abusive…”
“Ooh, sexy,” Kensi drawled, examining Deeks reflection as he stood in front of their floor-length mirror.
“You think so?” Deeks turned from side to side, showing off his outfit which consisted of a full suit, with jacket, tie, and dress shoes. It was the most formally he’d dressed of his own volition since his FLETC interview.
Kensi considered him for another moment, then reached around him from behind to straighten his tie. She gave him a once over and nodded in approval. “Perfect.”
Deeks fiddled with his cuffs; he felt a little bit like a fraud. What the hell right did he have to consider teaching law?
As if she could hear his internal doubt, Kensi grabbed him by the shoulders and turned him around, tipping his chin down. There was compassion in her eyes. “Hey, baby, you know law and you’re already a great teacher. You are going to be amazing, so stop worrying,” she told him with enough confidence that he almost believed it himself.
Today would mark his first day as an adjunct professor at University of West Los Angeles with a focus on immigration and family law.
“You’re right, just first day jitters,” he agreed. He exhaled slowly, following one of the breathing techniques he’d picked up at some point along the way in therapy. When he was finished, Kensi caught his eye, and he nodded to show he had it under control.
“So, this whole getup is working for you?” He gestured from the tie to his suit jacket and Kensi rolled her eyes, grabbing him by the lapels to drag him close enough to kiss.
“You know it does. If we didn’t have to be at work in the next hour, I’d show my appreciation in a more tangible way.” She smiled slyly, kissing him one more time. “That’ll have to do for now though. But when you get home…” She trailed off suggestively, backing away with a wink, and disappearing into the bathroom.
Deeks grinned after her. It was incredible how much lighter he felt; the joking, the flirting didn’t feel forced or drawn from the depths of him.
It helped that Kensi had taken a step back from fieldwork since he resigned. Kilbride had offered her an advisory role, maybe sensing that she was just a few steps away from following Deeks. Kensi gladly accepted, confessing to Deeks that she didn’t miss the action as much as she anticipated.
“Are you really planning on wearing suits every day?” Kensi asked, emerging a few minutes later with a brush in one hand while he checked his briefcase and gathered his keys.
“Nah, I figure I’ll make a good first impression and then once they get used to me, I’ll start slipping in more casual pieces,” Deeks said with a grin. “I figure by September I can work my way down to khakis and a t-shirt.”
“I’m sure you’ll start a revolution,” she teased. Gripping his shoulders again, she sobered slightly, her thumbs lightly caressing him through the layers of cloth. “I’ll be thinking about you today. Now go be amazing.”
“Yes, ma’am.” He caught at Kensi’s hand as they left the room. “I love you.”
“Love you too. Now go! You don’t want to be late for your first day!”
“You ready to go, Rosamund?” Deeks called as he headed for the door, checking his cuffs one more time. Rosa ran out from her room, half a bagel in one hand, bookbag in the other. She’d decided to take some community college courses before determining if she wanted to attend a traditional college program, which meant Deeks could drop her off on the way to work most days.
“¡Sí! Dame dos minutos,” Rosa called back, hurrying around to find her shoes and grab a jacket.
“You’re going to be late for comm class. Actually, we’ll both be late for class.”
“Te preocupas demasiado. Estaremos bien.”
“Dios ayúdame,” Deeks sighed, even as he grinned. For all he groaned and complained, he wouldn’t give this up for anything.
“So, you got any advice for me on my first day of school?” Deeks asked Rosa when they finally made it out the door.
“Mmm, yes, be yourself,” Rosa answered with a hint of a smile, paraphrasing the same advice he’d given her when she started college. She paused in the middle of the sidewalk, dark brown eyes considering him. “If you’re anything half as passionate as when you fought to keep me here and for you and Kensi to adopt me, then your students will be very lucky.”
Deeks made it to campus with half an hour to spare, which left him enough time to settle into his office before heading to his first class of the day.
He paused just inside the room, empty now aside from the rows of desks and chairs. In half an hour, they’d be filled with students. His students.
He thought of Kensi and Rosa’s faith in him, the path it had taken to get here, and the peace he felt now.
“I’ve found my reason again,” he whispered to the empty room.
A/N: Dr. Dewan has appeared in another story of mine, so I decided to make her Kensi and Deeks’ regular therapist.
This is a sort of thank you as much as it is a good-bye to Deeks, and all the other wonderful characters of LA. There’s no better way I can think of to show my affection for Deeks than to help him find a place where he feels happy, safe, and successful.
Deeks and Rosa’s conversation in Spanish:
Yes. Give me two minutes.
You worry too much. We’ll be fine.
God help me.
Last, but not least, thank you to Lyssa for once again catching all my typos and providing feedback and insight. Any irregularities you might find are all my fault.
I loved this! It brought me to tears. I love Deeks and Kensi as well as Eric and Daniela – I have so enjoyed watching NCIS-LA – they have brought their characters to life for me, as no other show has ever done. I will surely miss them. You have written the perfect ending.
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Thank you, Pat! This was one of the best ways I could think of sending Deeks off. I will miss them too.
Perfect. Perfect place for him and made the ending of the show a little easier to accept. Thanks.
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Thank you, Lindy! I’m glad that it fit. I spent a long time deciding where Deeks would feel happiest and most fulfilled.
Awww, I loved this! Loved seeing Deeks able to reach out for help, loved seeing Kensi’s love and support, and loved seeing Deeks find a “new beginning” that could be fulfilling- and safe. So good!