A/N - Well, here goes. The final chapter.
Thanks so much for the amazing support you have given me on this story. The favouriting, alerts and reviews has been mind-blowing.
So, I do hope you enjoy the wrap-up (at least the second wrap-up! for those romantically inclined that kept going!). It's been hard to find the right place but I'm hoping I've pulled it off. At least I'm happy enough to leave this little world and the characters to live the rest of their lives in privacy. ;-)
I would love to hear from you about what you thought of the story now that it is complete, what you loved, what you didn't, where things could have been improved. I might not be able to change this story but any constructive advice will certainly help future stories - and I have plenty of ideas just need to find the time and the bunnies to get hopping.
Disclaimer in Chapter 1!
Kensi closed her eyes and took some slow deep breaths. She shouldn't be nervous right? This is what she wants.
Kensi opened her eyes and looked in the mirror. She smiled at the image in front of her. Her dress was ivory, and mostly straight. There was a split in the side to allow her to walk easily but it was covered where the material crossed over creating a small double layer. A split to mid-thigh wasn't exactly correct bridal attire. The dress had a simple square cut neckline and one inch straps over her shoulders and her hair was piled on top of her head with a few ringlets loosely falling around her face.
Yes, this is what she wants. Marcus had given her that dream wedding. The one you dream about when you were a young teenager with nothing to worry about. Not only that, the groom was perfect for her.
Admittedly there were some minor tweaks to the plan. The fashions had definitely been updated. Her dad wasn't going to be walking her down the aisle. Though in his place was someone who was very special and family in his own way.
Also it wasn't a huge wedding, like she'd dreamed when she was a young teenager – the one where every member of your extended family and all the friends you'd ever had and never lost touch with were there, happy for you yet entirely jealous that you'd scored so well. Kensi smiled at that thought. Funny how the important things in life change as you get older. Given what she did for a living though, it was best to keep it a private affair. Initially she hadn't been sure that was going to be possible given who Marcus was. The successfulness of his business meant he was in the limelight and public eye to a degree. However, he had promised that his personal life was off limits to the media. He refused to allow them to print anything about his personal life a long time ago. He'd even gone so far as to take the relevant papers to court. He'd won. His argument had been that his business was what he was known for and as such his personal life wasn't relevant public knowledge. The judge had agreed and awarded damages that had ensured no one tried again.
Marcus. A rush of heat flooded through her coming directly from her heart at the thought of the man she was about to commit herself to in a way she never thought she would.
Marcus was now living with her in LA. He'd decided to step back from his job at his firm a bit. He found someone he trusted to take over the helm and was starting up a branch office in LA. But life came first now. He would generally work 9-5 hours, though he kept his hours flexible so he was around when Kensi needed him. Her job still scared him but given that he'd been through so much already with Annabel he was able to handle it. If Kensi was off on a mission that meant she wouldn't be home for a while, only then would he put in longer hours. Their relationship was his – no their – priority, not work.
Which was why Kensi had asked for a pre-nup. The only thing she wanted from this marriage was Marcus and she wanted him to know that, without any shadow of a doubt. He had reluctantly agreed and had it drawn up. She'd signed it willingly with no regrets at all. She knew it was the right thing to do, both in her heart and her head. What she hadn't expected was the moment she handed it to Marcus was for him to hold it over a lighter and throw it in a metal bin to watch it burn. He held her gaze as he said three little words that meant so much to her. 'I trust you.' Coming from him and everything he had been through, in a way they meant more than those other three little words that he said to her often.
So now, almost six months to the day that he had proposed – twice – Kensi found herself in a luxury hotel and reception centre, known for its discretion, security and ability to keep everyone away who shouldn't be in attendance. She found herself about to get married in a beautiful setting with those around her that she loved and for once, money and budgets hadn't factored in to this elaborate set up. This wasn't an undercover op, though if anyone were to witness Hetty buzzing around making sure everything was perfect, you'd think it was. This time Hetty wasn't in charge, at least not officially.
Kensi turned from the mirror at the sound of the door opening and smiled as Hetty stepped through.
"How are you, my dear?" Hetty asked.
"I'm good, Hetty," Kensi replied.
"I have something for you. To complete your outfit if you would like," Hetty added. She stepped forward to Kensi and held out a box, that Kensi easily identified as a jewellery case.
Kensi looked between it and Hetty curiously.
Hetty smiled. "Just something from that antique jewellery collection we talked about that I thought you might like to borrow for today. If you don't it want it, I won't be offended," she promised.
Kensi opened the box and lying nestled on a bed of black velvet was a gorgeous diamond necklace. Kensi didn't even want to think about how many carats were on it. "Hetty I couldn't. It must be worth a fortune."
"My dear, it is only worth a fortune if I wish to sell it, which I don't," she assured Kensi. "Therefore, it is not worth anything except the delight it will bring you if you wish to wear it. May I put it on so you can see?"
Kensi nodded, still shocked at this gift of Hetty's, even if it was only a loan. She leant down so that Hetty could reach and once it was on she turned around to look in the mirror. It took her breath away. The diamonds sparkled and the fall of the necklace matched beautifully with the neckline of the dress, as if they were made for each other.
Kensi turned back to Hetty. "I –"
Hetty shook her head. "If you want to, wear it. Otherwise just put it back in the box."
"I feel like I should have a security guard on either side of me," Kensi replied as she turned back to the mirror and looked at her reflection. Hetty certainly knew her stuff. It was perfect.
Hetty smiled at her comment. "Considering who you are surrounded by today, I do not think you need to worry. We certainly have the necessary number of bodyguards to take down anyone who would try and steal it from you. That is, if you don't do that yourself."
Kensi laughed softly, despite the growing nerves in her stomach. "I think I should leave that up to the guys today. Fighting in this dress would be a little tricky." She turned to Hetty¸ suddenly serious.
"Hetty, I can do this right? Be who Marcus needs?" Kensi asked.
Hetty stepped closer and took Kensi's hands in hers. She looked up at the nervous bride and smiled.
"You can be you. That is all he needs."
Kensi nodded slowly. "Me huh?"
"You, my dear. You have someone you can be you with."
Kensi took a deep breath. The nerves started to settle and she smiled. "I do, don't I?"
Hetty nodded. They both turned to face the door at the knock from the other side.
"You ready Kenz?" came Sam's deep voice.
"Come in Sam," Kensi called out.
Sam and Annabel stepped through the door.
"Wow! Kensi you look gorgeous. Pity you're already taken," Sam complimented and teased all at once.
Annabel came over to her and smiled. "Nervous?" she asked quietly.
Kensi nodded. "Like you wouldn't believe."
Annabel winked and leant close. "So is Marcus," she told her.
Kensi wasn't quite sure why, but that made her feel so much better. "Why is he nervous?" she asked.
"Because all men are," Hetty answered. "They worry, standing out there in full view of everyone, waiting patiently for their bride to come to them. Whilst the bride gets to hide her nerves tucked away in a room, the groom has to stand out there for the world to see and hope that she actually shows up."
The nerves settled in Kensi's stomach a bit more and she giggled. "Then perhaps we shouldn't keep him waiting too long."
Hetty nodded. "Very well. I will go take my place with those ragamuffins you call family and make sure they behave themselves."
Annabel smiled. "My boys always behave."
Hetty looked at Annabel for a moment not even trying to hide the smirk that formed on her face. "When you are looking perhaps," she said before she left the room.
Annabel shook her head as Hetty left before she turned her focus to Kensi. "You set?" she asked.
"I think so," Kensi replied before taking one more look in the mirror as Annabel checked her over as well.
"All set," Annabel added. She handed Kensi the bouquet and took her own. "You look beautiful Kensi."
"So do you Annabel. Thank you for being here with me," Kensi told her.
Annabel smiled and kissed Kensi gently on the cheek, being careful not to smudge the make-up. "Thank you for wanting me here."
Sam came over to them then. "Do I get to be included in the mushy stuff?" he asked with a grin.
Annabel and Kensi looked at each other and Kensi winked. There a matching twinkle in Annabel's eyes as they, almost in unison, moved, rose up and kissed Sam on the cheek. When they pulled back they started laughing at the two lipstick marks on his cheeks.
Sam caught his reflection in the mirror, rolled his eyes and shook his head before quickly ducking into the bathroom to wash it off, whilst the girls touched theirs up.
Sam stepped back into the main room. "Well then Kensi, let's not keep Marcus waiting any longer. Let's do this."
Kensi placed her arm in Sam's and they followed Annabel out the door.
Callen watched as his wife walked down the aisle. She looked gorgeous. The deep burgundy coloured dress clung to her curves in ways that made him think things that weren't necessarily appropriate, at least in public. It fell almost to the floor and as she walked he could see the slight gap where the split was.
Apparently he wasn't the only one who though she looked gorgeous if the gurgles and sounds coming from the little boy in his arms, as Tommy saw her, were anything to go by. Tommy tried to make a dive for his mum as she passed them. Annabel's smile grew and her eyes sparkled with laughter when she saw them. She winked at Callen and blew a kiss to Tommy as she kept walking. Almost reluctantly he turned away and watched as the bride walked down the aisle. Tommy didn't. Social niceties such as looking at the bride, didn't register when you were barely six months old.
Kensi looked beautiful – and happy.
The nerves he was expecting to see weren't there even though Callen knew she was still hadn't been sure about whether she could do this thing called marriage when he'd last spoken to her. He had no doubts though. He seen the changes in her, witnessed her commitment to this relationship with Marcus and, given the fact that they were still together more than a year on from their first dates, he knew that commitment was real and shared. They both wanted this.
As Kensi moved further down the aisle toward them he smiled and she returned it. Callen nodded his reassurance, just to remind her that he knew she could do this. She tilted her head to Sam, who was beside her. Sam nodded at her too and she then looked toward to the two men at the top of the aisle. Marcus and Grey. She focused on Marcus who was looking at her like she was the only person in the room.
Callen followed her gaze and saw exactly what he wanted to see in Marcus. The same thing he felt for Annabel. Marcus was well and truly smitten and in love with Kensi. To be honest, Callen hadn't expected anything else. Because if he hadn't been, it wouldn't have mattered what agreement he'd made with Marcus when he'd spoken to him about marrying Annabel, Callen wouldn't have been letting this happen if he wasn't sure Kensi was in good hands. Neither would Sam. Or Hetty for that matter.
Callen watched Sam kiss Kensi on the cheek before handing her over to Marcus and coming back to join them.
When it came time for the answer to the question of who was giving the bride away, the answer came in unison – 6 different voices (plus a gurgle). Kensi's family - Callen, Sam, Hetty, Nate, Eric and Renko (who had rejoined their team to replace Grey).
Callen caught the grin on Kensi's face when she turned to look at them and the shine of tears. Things had changed so much in the last fifteen months. They were most definitely a family now, not just a team.
The fact that Annabel was the one standing up there next to Kensi was just a small hint at how far the relationship had come. Over that time, Kensi and Annabel had developed a solid friendship. Annabel gave Kensi that girlfriend she could talk to about everything, one she wouldn't have to hide from or make up some cover story. Kensi could tell her anything. Hetty had ensured that Annabel's clearance remained high enough that Callen and Kensi could talk to her about work without having to hold back. It did mean that Annabel was still working for MI6 to ensure that she was allowed that level of clearance. Hetty had arranged for her to be the 'official' liaison between MI6 and NCIS, even though at present she was still technically on maternity leave.
Callen watched the ceremony with one eye on the happy couple, one on his wife and both keeping an eye on their son. Though with Sam on one side of him and Hetty on the other, he hadn't really needed to do that.
Tommy was well and truly loved by all. Hetty doted on him and was more than happy to babysit anytime. Sam would do anything to get a smile out of him. As for Nate, well Nate found that spending a little time with Tommy did wonders for forgetting about some case that he couldn't get out of his head. Tommy's innocence and delight in playing kept Nate entertained easily.
"I, Kensi Marie Blye, take you Marcus Brandon Evans, to be my husband. I promise to love you, cherish you, protect you and to understand that we are two very different people. I promise to be there for you, listen to you and stand by your side, to work toward the future that we both want, together."
"I, Marcus Brandon Evans, take you Kensi Marie Blye, to be my wife. I promise to love you, cherish you, protect you and to understand that we are two very different people. I promise to be there for you, listen to you and stand by your side, to work toward the future that we both want, together. I promise you, here and now, that even if you drive me up the wall, I will not stop or regret loving you for one moment."
The last part Marcus had added himself and Kensi hadn't known about it. The tears that she had managed to hold back for the first part of his vows overflowed at the emotion and promise he gave her in front of everyone. Somehow, it meant even more than when he had told her the night he proposed that he wouldn't have any regrets. Marcus reached out and brushed the tears off with his fingers. He smiled at her and she smiled back.
"I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride."
Unlike Callen, Marcus waited for the statement to finish before he caught Kensi up in his arms and kissed her. She returned it just as passionately and there were cheers and whistles from all around the room.
Callen let out a small sigh of relief. Hetty looked sideways at him suspiciously.
"Did you doubt her G?" she asked quietly, under the guise of tickling Tommy, who squirmed and wriggled until he was released down to his Grandma H.
"Not her, Hetty. Just hoping that nothing crazy happened to spoil this for her."
"As if I would have allowed that," Hetty stated firmly. "Would I Tommy? Would I let anything spoil this perfect day for your Aunty Kensi and Uncle Marcus?"
Tommy grinned at Hetty and Hetty smiled back.
"Take some advice from your son, G. Trust me. Today is perfect."
Callen smiled and then snuck in front of Sam to steal the first hug from the bride. Even though he couldn't see it, he was sure Sam was rolling his eyes.
"You did it Kenz," he whispered softly.
"Thank you," Kensi said back to him. "For everything."
Callen pulled back and looked at her. "I just did what I could."
Kensi smiled. "You didn't interfere. That must have been hard for you to step back."
Callen rolled his eyes. "Sam can interfere as well as me. You didn't need both of us."
Sam snorted. "As if I had a chance. Hetty's more scary than me and Marcus twisted my warning around to have me help him. Kenz, you never stood a chance of saying no to him."
Kensi grinned and stepped up to hug Sam. "I know. But it was nice to know you guys were there in case."
"We'll always be there Kenz," Sam said seriously and then kissed her on the cheek then he turned to Marcus. "Remember that."
"I will," Marcus agreed.
Sam shook his head realising Marcus didn't completely understand his comment. "We will always be there … for both of you. You're family now Marcus."
Marcus nodded and reached out to shake Sam's hand. "Thanks Sam."
Hetty handed Tommy back to Callen as Kensi moved down the line to her. Callen slipped his spare arm around Annabel and pulled her close to them.
Annabel smiled. "So have my boys been behaving?" she asked. Tommy giggled when she tickled him under the chin.
"We always behave," Callen replied. Annabel glanced at him with a suspicious look on her face.
"That's not what Hetty tells me."
Callen tugged her close. "Hetty doesn't know when I don't behave, unless you've told her." He kissed her deeply, stopping only when Tommy's hand came into contact with his cheek. They both chuckled at the interruption. Annabel dropped a kiss on Tommy's cheek.
"Were you feeling a little left out?" she asked him. Tommy just grinned in response and leant toward her. Annabel took him from Callen and gave him a hug.
Callen leant close to her ear. "So have you?"
Annabel looked back and rolled her eyes. "Of course not. Though if you keep taking her up on babysitting duties she might start to work it out for herself."
Callen shrugged. "She probably already knows."
Annabel kissed Tommy one last time and handed him back to Callen. "I'll see you two soon," she told them. "Be good for Daddy." Tommy gurgled happily and Callen pulled her back in for one last kiss.
"You look gorgeous, by the way," he told her.
Annabel smiled and gently stroked his cheek. "So do you." She slipped away from them and placed her arm in Grey's as they followed Kensi and Marcus back down the aisle.
Later – at the reception.
Callen pulled Annabel into his arms as they twirled around the dance floor. He glanced over at Marcus and Kensi who were swaying gently to the music.
"They seem pretty happy with themselves," he said.
Annabel glanced over and smiled. "Reminds me of us."
He pulled her close. "I hope they are as happy as we are."
"So do I," she whispered and pulled his head down for a gentle kiss.
They glanced around for Tommy and both smiled to see him asleep in the safety of Sam's arms. Even though Tommy wasn't small, (he was above average in length at least), being held by the giant that was Sam still made him seem tiny.
"Sam's enjoying playing uncle isn't he?" Annabel said as she settled herself contentedly in his arms, her head on his shoulder. Their movements eased into a slow sway on the spot that vaguely resembled the rhythm of the music.
"Yeah," Callen agreed. "He always has enjoyed his nieces and nephews."
"So, Samuel or Samantha – any preference?"
It took a moment for her question to register in his mind and when it did Callen stopped abruptly. "Excuse me?"
Annabel lifted her head off his shoulder and looked up. She grinned at the look on his face. "It's a simple question G."
Nothing was ever that simple with his wife.
"Are you asking me about names in general, if I want another child or are you …" Callen trailed off as the smile on her face got bigger. He couldn't help but return it.
"No preference." Callen slid his hand to the back of her neck and tilted her head to just the right angle so he could look deep into those green eyes that told him everything he needed to know. They were sparkling and happy, with just a hint of something in them that he'd only ever seen when she was pregnant. "Just as long as he or she is healthy and happy and looks a little more like you if she's a girl."
"Guess we'll find out in about eight months. Should be plenty of time to decide on a name together."
He had to give it to Annabel, she certainly knew how to make moments like these memorable.
Callen lowered his head slowly. "I love you, Annabel Jane Callen."
"I love you too, G Callen."
He finished closing the distance between their lips, the last though going through his mind before his touched hers was a repeat of Hetty's words from earlier.
Today is perfect.