He peeked over his shoulder once more- repeating the action he'd been performing for the past thirty minutes. Technically, he wasn't supposed to be back here with her. Technically, he didn't give a flying shit. His partner didn't deserve to wake up in the hospital alone; groggy from all the medications he knew they'd loaded her up with. So, Deeks re-adjusted his numb bottom in the chair he was occupying and cupped Kensi's warm hand in his own.
And went back to mentally beating himself up over for the fact that he hadn't been there. You're not Superman, his conscience berated, what would you have done differently? Sam did everything a good agent should have done. Accidents happen. But... but... Deeks came up empty with his responses each time, trying to find the words to explain.
He knew this worrying was futile. He could back track, analyze, and fret all his brain could manage, but it would get him nowhere.
"You need to wake up." Two beats of silence passed before Deeks started up again, "Kensi, this sucks. I know we're partners and all, and you like to tease me and annoy the hell outta me, but this is a bit extreme." The chuckle that slipped from between his lips was only a bit forced. "Sam's demolishing the walls, Hetty isn't throwing out her usual proverbs, and Callen… his gloominess and brooding have increased ten-fold. We can't function properly without you." Leaning both elbows onto the bed, Deeks brought his hands up, running them through his unkempt hair and unshaven face. The clock on the wall ticked monotonously, signaling another minute, another hour that she hadn't woken up.

Her skin looked ghostly underneath the fluorescent light glowing overhead, and if the rise and fall of her bandaged chest wasn't an indicator, he would have thought her dead. But no, she wasn't dead. "You're still alive… somewhere in there. I bet you can hear me, too, can't you?" He grinned at her still form, "You and that damn stubborn streak of yours. You're listening to all of this and still won't give me the courtesy of letting me know, so I can quit worrying." Performing another quick peek, Deeks rose up from the chair and shuffled to the door, pressing his ear against the cold wood. Heels clicked against the tiled floors, voices murmured through the muffled quiet. Somewhere down the hallway, though, a door slammed shut with a bang.

In the sudden quiet, he can hear the faint noise of gunfire from below - where he knows the rest of his team is located. It's been a few months, so Deeks believes he's entitled to call Callen and the others his team. And to call Kensi his partner, since they've been shoved together since the beginning.

It was never established, truthfully. Hetty never called them in and determined their new positions. It just... happened, as unpredictable as it sounds. Back in the department, Deeks never understood the meaning of a partner. Sometimes the captain would toss him some fresh meat to straighten up, but never someone he could fully trust.
When Hetty mentioned the trust thing all those months ago, Kensi seemed surprised, like she couldn't imagine nothaving trust in a partnership. Deeks, at the same time, was trying to determine just what the word "partnership"meant. Now, without a doubt, he trusts Kensi. He trusts her with his life, keeping his cover safe, and - most importantly - his car.
Something pricks at his skin, giving him that numb, jump-in-a-frozen-river feeling. Without returning his weapon to its home in his waistband, Deeks glides across the floor and peeks over the railing. A flash of black cloth and denim passes through his vision before he can even aim past the metal pipes blocking the targets. There's still a chance that it could be one of his own team and he really, really doesn't want to go back to the department with the knowledge he shot one of his own on his conscience. Instead, he backs out of the room and heads for the stairs, hoping to catch a good look at the potential suspects beforetheycatch the team. He's mid-stride, stairs in sight, when Callen's voice rings in his ear.

"Deeks, what's your status?" Before Deeks can think of responding, a movement to his right has him turning on his heels, pulling the trigger.
"Oh, no you don't," The liaison smirks when he hears the tell-talethumpof a body as it collapses onto the concrete, "Sneaky little bastard." It's then that he remembers Callen and the fact that his leader has been waiting for an answer.Whoops. "Sorry, Callen. I found one hiding behind a desk. What's up?"

"Any others?" Black cloth and denim flash into his mind.

"I saw some movement from my right, but they were gone by the time I finished this one. Everything good?"

"No. Kensi's been shot." The numb feeling returns but, in a seemingly impossible way, it's grown stronger. This isn't just a jump in a frozen river. This is scuba diving the Aleutian Islands without any protective layers: no wetsuit, no nothin'.
Shot. He sucks in a breath through his nose, pushing it out through his mouth.Probably one of those gunmen I saw and didn't tell them about. He knows he needs to stay quiet, even with all of this self-hatred rotting away his insides. He looks for something to punch, to mutilate that won't cause a big scene. Everything in the vicinity is metal, though, and it might spook the leftover shooters.Damn it, damn it, damn it.Yeah,like repeating curses is going to help. Your partner's wounded – shot - and you're chanting."Is she gonna be okay?"

"We don't know." That's not what he wants to here, but that means she's still breathing, and right now, that's good enough for him. Not good enough for long, but it means she has a chance. Deeks wants to continue pouring his waterfall of questions out to Callen, but when neither agents says anything, he knows the conversation is over.

The stairs underneath his feet pass by in a blur and he breathes a sigh of semi-relief when he sees the concrete floor up ahead. He's nearly there; another twist and a turn and…

"Oh, Jesus." Swallowing the rest of his outbursts, Deeks moves stealthily down the aisle where Callen is applying pressure to Kensi's wound. And Kensi, she's just lying there. Not speaking, not doing anything. Not… breathing? "Callen! Is she all right?" Some invisible force closes around his chest, making it hard to breathe, when the leader shakes his head.

The two speak no words, but after Callen removes his fingers from Kensi's neck - half of it soaked in her own blood - Deeks knows exactly what needs to be done. Maybe it will injure her further, but it might just keep her with them for a little bit longer. He slides the tips of his fingers down below her breasts, feeling the spot there, and starts pushing down gently.

This isn't how he imagined this mission going. Nell had informed them all earlier today that it would be a simple bag and tag of evidence needed to put the criminal away - no strings attached, no reason to bring a vest. Even Kensi, ever-prepared Kensi, didn't don one when they exited the cars twenty minutes ago.After this, you're not even letting her go to the grocery store without one of those damn things around her.They weren't prepared for the ambush of so many gunmen and that's when Callen sent Deeks to the second floor to eliminate all the second string targets that might be lying in wait. And that's when Kensi was shot.

"Kensi… Kensi, listen to me. Kensi, you've gotta hang on. The ambulance will be here any second. Kensi, Kensi," He can see the look on Callen's face, that whatever string of life she'd been holding onto was releasing. Deeks pushed harder, "…no, no, you've gotta stay. Kensi." He readjusts his position, realigns his hands, and begins again. Again. Again. Another. Another. She's not coming back.The idea of hissing or snarling at himself comes to mind, but doing it right now, when other things are more important, isn't a good idea. Instead, he tries and fails to bring back a few heartbeats from his partner.

Salvation comes in the form of a siren, whining softly in the distance. "The ambulance is here. Kenz, just hang on. The ambulance is here."

The automobile sways violently as the tires roll over the potholes and piles of trash littering the area around the warehouse. Deeks watches as two EMTs rush towards him, instructing that it's time.Time forwhat? Time for her to go? In which sense of the word?

"You've gotta let go of her. We have to load her onto the stretcher."Oh.He feels dumb and his hands are clammy, even after the rigorous activity he's been using them for during the past minute. Or five minutes. Or fifteen.How longhasit been?Not knowing is better, though. Not knowing means he could still live off some sliver of hope that says Kensi's only been without a pulse for a minute - not ten, not fifteen. He watches as Callen fills them in about Kensi's condition. His chest heaves again as he follows. "We're transporting her to St. Vincent Medical." One of the EMTs tells the team and then they're wheeling her away, loading the stretcher into the back. The liaison steps forward and bends down, pressing his lips against her forehead in a quick motion. A short nod and suddenly, the ambulance and Kensi are gone, vanishing over the dip in the road.

"Callen…." He doesn't know what to say. Luckily, though, Callen does.

"She'll make it." Already a man of few words, the leader says nothing more, and heads to the car. Sam moves past Deeks, a hand coming up to brush against his shoulder.

"Fuck."Startled by the sudden use of language, he glances up at Sam only to find a cold, wooden door in his vision.

"Fuck." Spinning around hastily, Deeks eyed the cursing form of Kensi Blye, blinking lazily and coughing lightly. Immediately, he assessed that there was never a more perfect sight.
"Ahh, the lady doth speak."
"What... Deeks?"
"The one and only." She grumbled something incoherently, swinging her head from side to side, fingers absentmindedly coming to massage the wounded area of her chest.
"I got shot."
"That you did."
"I'm... in the hospital?"
"Sorry if you're disappointed, but the only other option was the funeral home so..." Kensi paused in her movements, eyeing him through the haze of the drugs. He was leaning over the side of the bed, his fingers dancing along the edge, pawing at the thin sheet. But... her hand was surprisingly warm and she knew that it meant he'd been holding her hand. The thought came across her mind to smile, but it was gone within another second. The nurses must have really loaded her up.
"Fuck." Deeks bit back his laughter, ducking his head down next to the bedside in an effort to keep it hidden. "What are you laughing at?" Mission unsuccessful - although he knew it would be anyway, because this was Kensi. Lovable, always on alert Kensi. Alive Kensi.
"Nothing. Not important. What is, though, is your shining, awakened face." She began massaging the wound again.
"...aside from the colorful language, of course. That I could have done without." The glare wasn't any less menacing than it would have been in any other setting. He found himself shrinking back into his seat, hands raised in an innocent manner. "Hey, now. Don't kill the messenger. We already warned the staff that you wouldn't be holding anything back, opinions about the food, bedside manner, etcetera." She didn't speak for another minute, choosing instead to sum up her surroundings: the prickly feeling of the IV, the muted television set, the flowers littering the room. The liaison next to her side. "I'm glad you're awake."
"Good. That was plan B." He caught the inflection immediately and grinned, if possible, wider.
"What was plan A?" She was silent for a moment, studying him intently.
"Whatever the opposite of waking up is, I guess."
"Oh. Well, I'm glad you went with plan B."
"Me too." There's a universal rule that mentions something about a moment in time, where the organism is aware of something that has changed, that a shift in the timeline has occurred. It is akin to challenging the organism's fate and, in some cases, their sanity. Kensi felt this shift immediately after the words slipped out of her mouth, but she dared not mention it in front of Deeks. She would mull over it later, when her mind wasn't completely clogged up with drunken thoughts, as to what this shift was.
"Do you want me to go get the rest of the team?"
"Not just yet. I want to rest." And hold your hand again, a voice blurted out in the back of her mind. She could blame the blushing on the medication, couldn't she?
"I think you've rested enough, Kenz," Callen's voice- the last thing she can remember besides a single kiss- rang from the doorway. Aside from the doctor, no one looked the least bit surprised that Deeks was already there- and that he didn't leap up and make excuses for the doc, either.
"How are you feeling, dearie?" Hetty moved to the other side of the bed, placing the hand that had comforted Sam earlier on Kensi's shoulder.
"A little sore, but much better," She watched as her boys grouped together next to Deeks, "You guys look like hell."

"Oh, how we've missed your infectious positivity, Kenz," Callen grumbled with a spark in his eyes, "We would've looked better if you'd woken up sooner."

"How long was I out?" They all shared a glance and she chewed on her lip, riding the wave of light anxiety that rolled around the room.

"You were unconscious for three days, Agent Blye." The doctor finally spoke up and she found herself rolling her eyes.

"You guys stayed in the hospital for three days? Without a shower?"

"So did you." Sam pointed out humorously, at which she wrinkled her nose.


"Really really." A million or so sarcastic replies flew into her mouth. She caught them, though, and swallowed thickly. The team shared a look of surprise at her next words.

"Thank you." They came out in a croak, thanks to her dry throat, but still managed to cross the barrier. Deeks was the first to respond, rising up and pulling her into a crushing hug, wary of her bandaged stitches.
"It's good to have you back, Kenz." Sam moved to stand next to Hetty, clapping a hand on her shoulder and squeezing affectionately.
"Good to be back." It was reluctant, but after the nurse politely told them visiting hours were over- after throwing a scolding look to Deeks- the team filed out, throwing out well-wishes and promises to return bright and early when hours started the next day. Kensi listened to their footfalls as they left: the reluctant scuffling of Deeks, the clump-clumping of Sam's military-grade boots, Hetty's flats clippinglightly, and Callen's sneakers screeching every three seconds or so. Absentmindedly, the female agent shuffled back into the pillows, content with the pain that flared up in her chest. The pain meant she was alive, that she'd survived the latest round of Russian roulette.
Eyelids fluttering heavily, Kensi's head dropped and rested against the feather pillow Deeks had brought as a present. Suffice to say, she was enjoying it much more than the floral arrangements that drowned the room. Somewhere in the back of her mind, the nightmares had already begun playing out- black cloth and denim, she remembered, even if only caught with one quick glance- but before she could fully slip underneath the drug-induced panic, she remembered something else.

Among all the stories life provided her; among the lies and undercover operations; among the haze of morphine and battle scars, there was a promise. One that, among others she'd heard in the past twenty-six years of her life, wasn't empty. It was full of… of something. Maybe not hope, maybe not joy. It was real, though, and that she knew. In the end, after all the drama and lost days in the hospital, through all of the extensive therapy she'd go through, there was one more thing Kensi could add. There was a universal rule, written on the final page of a book or a magazine or a sheet of paper- which one of the three, she couldn't recall. What it said, though, made up for its lack of binding.

There are no universal rules. And with that, she allowed the rhythmic beeping of her heart- the organ that still pumped inside of her, pouring life into her broken body- to sing her to sleep.