Boys Keep Swinging (by Claire)

Summary:   The team goes undercover — in a whole new way.
Category:  NCIS-LA
Genre:  Crime
Rated:  PG
Word Count:  18,391


 

When You’re A Boy

“Okay, so it’s a pretty straightforward undercover operation tonight at the club.” Eric tried very hard to keep a straight face and it was greatly to his credit that he almost succeeded.

“Which club exactly?” Deeks asked suspiciously. For some reason, alarm bells were ringing wildly in his head.

“Pop of the Cherry.” The reply was mumbled; in fact, it was almost inaudible. Eric busied himself with his computer and avoided looking anywhere near Deeks.

“What? No way. No way at all. Count me out.” Deeks was emphatic. Actually, he was more than that; he was also acutely embarrassed. Deeks had this dreadful certainty about what was going to happen and he didn’t like it one little bit.

“Come on — I’ve got you VIP passes.” Eric wasn’t above groveling.

“Big deal. And I’m not even going to ask how you managed to score those, because I really don’t want to know.” Deeks gave the technical operator a knowing smile and was gratified to see a flush creep right up Eric’s neck and then across his face, until even his ears were scarlet.

Sam could bear it no longer. “You want to let us in on the big secret anytime soon? What’s so wrong with the club that’s got Deeks all fired up?”

“You really don’t know? Sam, someday soon you’re going to have to come out of that hermetically-sealed wombat hole you live in.”

“It’s a drag club,” Kensi said. “That’s why Deeks has got ants in his pants. He’s worried about getting something else in there too. Or someone else.” She smirked happily, enjoying his discomfort and being secure in the knowledge she would be exempt from any cross-dressing.

“Maybe he’s worried he’ll make too good a woman, what with that fluffy hair, and those big blue eyes and that baby-soft skin.” Callen grinned joyfully. “Suck it up, Deeks. I always wondered why we had a pretty boy on the team, and now I know. You’ll be a vision in powder-blue.”

Deeks shot him a look filled with hate. “My sides are splitting. You ever considered a career in comedy — or does living below the poverty-line not hold much appeal for you?”

“Exactly what makes you think Mr. Deeks will be the only person going undercover and in disguise tonight?” Hetty stood slightly apart from the rest of the team, arms crossed and watching them with considerable interest. It was like watching a herd of rutting buffaloes, each one trying to assert their masculinity. There were times when she seriously considered requisitioning some bromide and putting it into the water coolers.

“Because I’m a girl?” Kensi volunteered.

“Because Deeks will make the best woman. Or should that be ladyboy? It’s practically type-casting.” Sam felt safe in the knowledge that it was patently obvious he would make a terrible woman and would therefore be sitting on the bench for this operation He almost felt sorry for Deeks. Almost. But not quite.

“Because I’m team leader and I get to decide who does what?” God, that was a great trump card to have in your back pocket, Callen thought. The NCIS equivalent of the “get out of jail free” card in Monopoly, only better.

Deeks just lounged across the table, keeping his head down. Clearly it had already been decided that he was going to be the one going in drag and, given that it was three against one, he decided to save his energies and just accept he was going to be the object of ridicule. He’d get his revenge later, even if it killed him.

“You are all wrong on all counts. I’ll need each and every one of you in place and undercover if we’re to have a chance of catching those Thai sailors. All hands on deck, as it were.” Hetty sometimes felt it was necessary to emphasize exactly who was in charge around OSP.

“I’ll escort Deeks then. Be his date for the night. Just a one night stand though, Deeks. Don’t expect me to send you flowers the next morning, because you’re so not my type.” Callen grinned.

“Mr. Callen, I thought I made myself clear, but obviously I was wrong. You, Mr. Hannah and Mr. Deeks will all be dressing in drag tonight. No exceptions.” There it was, the iron hand in the Kevlar glove.

“Nobody is ever going to buy me as a woman.” Sam looked more indignant than Hetty had ever seen him before.

“This isn’t about whether or not you could realistically pass as a woman,
Mr. Hannah; it is about getting a job done. Some drag queens deliberately highlight the dichotomy between their maleness and the female persona they assume. They are not necessarily transvestites, you know. And in some cultures, it is acceptable for a heterosexual male to enjoy the company of a drag queen, or indeed to dress as a drag queen himself. Of course, a ladyboy is quite different, and more related to transgender issues. Many of them are remarkably beautiful.” It was hard not to laugh out loud at the shocked expressions on the faces of her team, but somehow Hetty managed it. Did they really think she didn’t know about the slightly less orthodox sexual mores? That she just went home in the evening and had a nice cup of cocoa? How the hell did they think she knew about the club in the first place – by osmosis? Heck, it was one of the best places she knew for a night out with fascinating company.

“I don’t know anything about that.” From the tone of Sam’s voice, it was clear that he didn’t want to know anything more, either. The mere idea of having to dress up in women’s clothing was a personal affront to his masculinity. And the prospect of any of his buddies from the SEALs every finding out was not worth thinking about, because then his life would not be worth living.

“Not quite so funny when you guys are going to have to wear panty-hose and high heels, is it?” Deeks was beginning to perk up at the knowledge that he was not going to be the sole sacrificial ferret in this whole affair. There was safety in numbers, after all. They could agree some sort of mutual pact to expunge from the collective memory afterwards and certainly never to talk about it.

Callen just hoped it wasn’t the male members of the team who were going to be ritually humiliated. “What about Kensi? Where does she fit into this?”

Hetty smiled seraphically. “Why, Ms. Blye is also going to participate in the cross-gender dressing. Why on earth would you think otherwise? As you very well know, I’ve always believed in being an equal opportunities employer. And it is illegal to sexually discriminate.”

“Gee, thanks, Callen. I’ll remember this next time you want a favor.” If looks could kill, Callen would be lying on the floor just waiting to be measured for a body-bag.

“Ms. Jones is organizing some… “Hetty paused, not quite sure of the right word, for once in her life, “… outfits to be sent over for you to try on. It’s rather a specialized field, I believe. But we still have to consider the matters of make-up and hair.”

“Lack of hair, in Sam’s case. And hardly any in Callen’s. Who’s going to fancy a butch drag queen?” Finally, Deeks felt he was able to get his own back after all the jibes of earlier on.

“I might be able to help there. I have a friend.”

“Just the one, Callen?”

“Don’t be picky, Sam. Okay, I have this friend, who’s a hairdresser…”

“You mean you pay for that buzz-cut? Listen, save money and get yourself a pair of clippers. Or go to a barber.” Deeks spoke with an air of authority that was remarkable coming from a man who looked as if he thought hair-clippers were only used when grooming dogs.

“Would you shut up and let me speak? I reckon JJ would probably be able to help us out, given its short notice.”

“In other words — this JJ clearly feels he owes Callen after ripping him off for all these years by charging him an arm and a leg for what is basically a number 4 cut all-over. Must take all of five minutes.”

“Since when did you become such an expert on hair, Deeks?”

“Since always. Women love my hair. Haven’t you noticed?”

“Really? Okay — let’s ask them.”

“Sorry, Callen — but Deeks is right. He’s annoying, but he does have good hair.” Kensi often had to fight the urge to run her fingers through it. Even when it was messed up, which she reckoned he probably did on purpose, Deeks had great hair.

“I’ve always been partial to a man with a full head of hair,” Hetty mused; Deeks felt himself blushing violently and wishing he’d kept his big mouth shut. That was just so wrong on so many levels. Although it was interesting that Kensi liked his hair. Very interesting indeed. He filed that one away for future reference.

“Nell?” She was Callen’s last hope for some sanity in the midst of all this madness.

“He’s got lovely hair,” Nell said dreamily and then clapped her hand over her mouth in horror. The last thing she wanted the team to know was that she spent copious hours, both on and off duty dreaming about Deeks.

“Thanks for the solidarity, ladies. Anything else you want to be proved wrong about, Callen?”

“Other than the fact that I’ll look ridiculous tonight? Not really.”

*****

Nothing Stands In Your Way

If the day had started badly, it was getting steadily worse. Callen had managed to secure the exclusive services of his hairdresser at short notice. It seemed there was literally nothing the devoted JJ would not do for his precious Mr. Carl. This was good timing, as it meant they could at least escape from the Mission, where word of that evening’s outing had swiftly done the rounds, which meant that everyone else was whispering avidly behind their hands and trying to not snigger too loudly. Unfortunately, most of them were none too successful. And the comments of “hair today — gone tomorrow” and “curl up and dye” were swiftly becoming old and tedious.

“Remember to call me Mr. Carl,” Callen reminded them as they drove across town.

“Isn’t that just a little bit pretentious? Does that mean Sam gets to be Mr. Harn and I’m Mr. Dere? Enquiring minds want to know. Or would that be too much like Reservoir Dogs? No, make that Reservoir Bitches.”

“Shut up, Deeks or I’ll let him loose with the clippers on that shaggy head of yours. JJ has the impression that Mr. Carl is loosely involved with the enforcement end of film producing and he’s hoping one day I might just come in useful.”

“He thinks you’re in the Mafia? You? Come on, you’re kidding me — right?” For some reason that Callen could not understand, Deeks found this hilarious. “That’s just what we need — a hairdresser who is at the less-able end of the spectrum. Do they let him use scissors with sharp points or just the ones with rounded edges?”

“JJ’s alright. Don’t give him a hard time. Remember, he’s going to be the one doing your hair and one slip of the scissors and you’re that much nearer a normal, grown-up look. Which would be a contradiction in terms for you, wouldn’t it?” Mess with JJ and he’ll have your guts for garters. There’s no flies on JJ. Okay, actually there are, especially since the gender reassignment surgery. But that kind of makes him perfect for the job. Especially where Kensi is concerned. God, she looks grumpy sitting there. I bet she’s regretting saying she liked Deeks’ hair. Traitor.

Kensi clutched onto her hair protectively. “I’m not having my hair cropped. Not for anyone. Understand?” It had been bad enough when she’d had to have her hair cut short as a kid; no way was she going through that again as an adult. Not for anyone. She huddled into the corner of the car, like an animal trying to protect itself.

“Relax. Nobody said you would have to get your hair cut,” Callen said, in a vain attempt to soothe her. He’d never seen Kensi quite so worked up before. What was the big deal about going to the hairdressers? Didn’t women love that sort of thing? Of course, Kensi wasn’t exactly like most women.

Sam attempted to pour some oil on troubled waters. “I’m sure JJ will find some way of putting it up. Maybe a chignon?”

Callen shot a suspicious look. “How come you know so much about women’s hairstyles, Sam?”

“Because I’ve got sisters. And they’ve got hair, okay? Don’t try to make something out of this.” Sam’s knuckles showed white as he gripped the steering wheel. Not for anything would he let on that he was so good at doing the girls’ hair, his mother had gratefully handed over that chore to him. As he got older, they’d bring their friends around for free hairdressing, which had scored Sam no end of dates. Still, it wasn’t something he felt like sharing.

They were all on edge. For once, Deeks had no more smart remarks to make, which made a refreshing change. Usually a car journey with Deeks was akin to having a bored child in the back seat continually asking “are we there yet?”. This was pleasantly quiet and without incident, although persuading Kensi to get out of the car and then in through the door of the salon was slightly tricky, as she behaved like a dog who realizes he is just outside the vet’s and has no desire to get a thermometer stuck up his ass followed by a shot in the neck. However, after a little coaxing and a hard shove from Sam, she made it inside, only hyperventilating slightly.

“Mr. Carl! And you’ve brought your friends too — oh, this is lovely!” JJ planted a loving kiss on Callen’s cheek and then surveyed them carefully. “There’s no time to waste. I can see I’ve got my work cut out for me here.”

“Excuse me?” Kensi bristled visibly. “My hair’s in excellent condition.” Do not come anywhere near me with scissors or I will swing for you.

“If you say so, dear. You might want to do something about that dandruff, though. I can see it clear across the other side of the room.” JJ looked carefully at Sam. “I see you as a redhead.”

“You do?” Sam swallowed hard. His Aunt Sophie had red hair and she bore a remarkable resemblance to a pig in knickers. He just hoped he hadn’t inherited her genes.

“Oh yes. Nothing subtle though — more like Lucille Ball. You’ve got the chutzpah to carry off that look, and you can’t say that about just everyone. So, wigs for you and Mr. Carl, an updo for scurfy-girl over there and — oh my! Haven’t you just got the best hair!” JJ’s voice rose at least an octave and Sam wondered if he was going to climax there and then. Kensi just looked as if she wanted to string him up from the light fitting. “I’m going to have such fun with you.

Deeks gave him an “aw shucks” smile that made him look like he’d just come off the farm that morning. You could practically see the straws sticking out of his hair.

“Mr. Carl — why haven’t you brought him round to see me before?” JJ was running his fingers through Deeks’ hair in paroxysms of delight. “What I couldn’t do with hair like this.”

“Don’t do anything much,” Deeks pleaded. “I kind of like it the way it is.”

JJ studied him carefully for a couple of moments. “Well, I think you need some more height in there, but we can probably fudge an early Meg Ryan look with a little back combing. Maybe add a jeweled comb for a little bling?” He stoked Deeks’ hair lovingly, almost as if it was rare and exotic breed of animal and then let his fingers edge forward to caress his cheek. “And I’m going to have such fun shaving you too!”

“Yeah, whatever.” Oh God, this is mortifying. Why did I ever think it would be cool to be treated like a sex object? Or maybe it’s just JJ treating me as a sex object that’s a turn off. I hope so.

Two hours later, the transformation was complete: Kensi was the proud possessor of a French pleat so incredibly tight that her eyebrows were at least an inch higher than normal. To her chagrin, JJ had insisted on adding a smear of gel, so that her hair had a slightly greasy appearance. He’d also been most insistent that she should not wear any makeup that evening. “I look like the one of the ugly sisters,” she moaned as they got into the car as quickly as possible.

“Count yourself lucky. You still look normal — just not very attractive.” It had been a struggle to actually get into the car with a pile of crimson curls adding almost another foot to his height and now Sam cringed as he looked in the rear view mirror before pulling out of the parking space. “I look like a freak.” No, it worse than that, Sam thought. He was the spitting image of Aunt Sophie. Right down the little piggy eyes. He was just surprised that he was still able to speak, rather than oink. “You look…different,” he volunteered to Callen.

“Tell me I don’t look like Marilyn Monroe — please?”

“You don’t look anything like Marilyn Monroe. She was beautiful,” Deeks said firmly. “You look like a man in a platinum blonde wig. It’ll probably be better once they get some make-up on you, though. Red lips and a beauty spot could make a big difference.”

“I do not want to look like Marilyn Monroe,” Callen forced out from between gritted teeth.

“Why not? She was an icon.”

“It’s a damned sight better that looking like Aunt Sophie,” Sam spat out. The traffic lights ahead turned red and he was forced to stop. Staring stonily ahead, Sam was uncomfortably aware that the occupants of the cars on either side were staring curiously at them. Beside him, Callen slunk down in the seat. Deeks just smiled insouciantly and gave them a merry wave.

“Who’s Aunt Sophie?”

“She’s hell on wheels. And she made my life a misery when I was a kid.”

“And you look like her?”

“With this wig — yup.” God help me.

“Is that why you shaved your head then?”

“Never mind why I shave my head. That’s my business — Meggy dear.”

“Those rhinestones in your comb are so sweet – they bring out the color of your eyes.” Kensi leant across and flipped the ends of his hair with her finger. “You should wear your hair in a shag all the time.”

“I’ve nothing against shags — just not that sort.”

Kensi decided to act innocent. “What other sorts of shags are there?”

“You want me to draw you a diagram? Or give you some personal, one-on-one tuition?” Deeks leered at her, but the Meg Ryan hairdo ruined the effect.

“Stop squabbling in the back, kids. Or there’ll be no ice-cream for either of you.”

“Spoilsport.” Kensi stuck her tongue out and waggled it back and forth. “My head really hurts. And I don’t think I can move much of my upper face.”

“Think of it like preparation for your first Botox.” Deeks yelped as her hand connected with the side of his head. “Watch the hair, Kensi!”

“Cut it out, right now, you pair. Or I’m stopping the car and making you walk back.”

A blissful silence descended and lasted all the way back to the Mission. The moment they went inside, a cacophony erupted: shouts, whistles, handclaps and air-horns filling the space with noise, while a barrage of camera flashes partially blinded them. Sam looked up to where Eric stood on the balcony orchestrating things and held his gaze, while spitting on his forefinger and drawing slowly across his throat.

*****

Clothes Always Fit You

“Walk,” Callen hissed. “Don’t run. Don’t let them see they’ve spooked us.”

Deeks had this weird flashback of Michael Caine saying “don’t shoot till you see the whites of their eyes” in Zulu and forced himself to walk steadily behind Sam. He certainly wasn’t about to look right or left, far less catch anyone’s eye, white or otherwise. Ignoring the catcalls and wolf-whistles, he kept his own eyes firmly fixed on the pile of scarlet curls that adorned the top of Sam’s head and, in particular, a stray ringlet that bobbed merrily behind his left ear.

“Now I know how prisoners feel when they’re marched out to be hung before the baying crowds.” Kensi found her knees were trembling by the time they reached the sanctity of Hetty’s clothes store — or dressing-up box, as Deeks had irreverently nicknamed it.

“You think that was bad? Believe me, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Just wait until we’re dressed up and in full make-up. Then you’ll know all about it.” Sam was trembling with a volatile mixture of rage and embarrassment.

“I want to go back to LAPD. Right now.”

“Wimp.”

“You’re just jealous because I’ve got a get-out clause.”

“True. It still doesn’t mean you’re not a wimp.”

“If I’ve got a choice between being a man in a dress or a mouse, the mouse wins every time.” Deeks crossed his arms firmly.

“I do apologize.” Hetty suddenly appeared from behind the curtain that served both as doorway and screen. “That was most unprofessional behavior and I will make sure it never happens again. I’ll be having a very stern word with everyone involved.” After I’ve seen all the photographs.

She took step forward and surveyed them closely and fought a desperate battle not to laugh. In this, Hetty was largely successful as the only discernable sign was a slight quiver of her lips. “Your friend has done an excellent job, Mr. Callen. You are all indeed transformed.” I’d never thought of you with peroxide blonde hair before, but it is really rather beguiling. Poor Mr. Hannah looks somewhat porcine though. And doesn’t Mr. Deeks make a pretty girl? Such smooth skin. It’s a pity about his eyebrows though, but nothing a little plucking won’t sort out.

“He’s made us look like freaks!” Kensi snapped. Her head was really pounding now and she wished she could unravel that stupid plait and go home.

“The job is only half done. Even the greatest artists need time to create a masterpiece.” She pulled out a rail of clothing. “I think you’ll agree Ms. Jones has done a remarkable job.” The slack-jawed expressions that greeted this statement showed that the team certainly agreed with the word remarkable.

“Which one is which?” Callen asked weakly, not sure if he wished to know the answer.

“This one is yours.” Hetty pulled out a version of Marilyn’s famous white pleated dress. “You’ll have to shave your armpits, of course, as well as your legs.” She held out the dress and Callen took it silently, along with the white shoes. He looked like a dog that has just realized he’s about to be bathed and that there is no escape.

“What about his underwear?” Kensi asked. “Won’t he need, err… falsies? Or something to fill out that neckline.”

Hetty gave her a pitying look. “The dress caters for that, dear. There are inserts in the top, into which one puts these.” She reached into a bag and pulled out a couple of pale pink silicon objects. “I believe they call them ‘chicken fillets’ in the trade.”

Kensi felt three pairs of male eyes descend upon her. “Don’t look at me. Why would I know anything about them? I’m more than happy with what God gave me. I certainly don’t need any help in that department.”

“Yeah, right. Tell that to the Marines,” a skeptical voice hissed.

She was almost certain it was Deeks, but unfortunately he was too far away to hit.

“Mr. Hannah — I believe this one is for you.”

Sam tried not to shudder as he received the asymmetrical, one-shouldered violet satin dress, with a wide skirt that fell to the floor.

“Wasn’t Miss Jones clever to find a gown that would cover your tattoo?”

“I’ll be sure and thank her.” He looked at the dress dubiously. “Isn’t this going to clash with my hair?”

“It’s called ‘color blocking’ and it’s very on-trend at the moment. What?” Callen held his hands up in supplication. “So I read the women’s magazines I find lying around the Mission from time to time. It doesn’t make me a bad person.”

“Keep telling yourself that often enough and you might start to believe it.”

Hetty decided to press on regardless. “And this is for you, Mr. Deeks.” She held out a pale green sheath.

“How cute — sea-foam green to match your slanket.” Kensi was glad she and Nell saw Deeks in the same color-palette.

“It’s a bit… tight, isn’t it?” Deeks looked at the dress in horror. “I mean, certain things are going to, um… show.”

“Your legs aren’t that bad,” Sam said kindly. “Not really bandy at all.”

“That’s not what I mean and you know it. And my legs aren’t bandy in the slightest.”

“So you say. Some might beg to differ.”

Deeks turned to Hetty with a piteous look. “That dress — it’s going to show, well, pretty much everything.”

“There’s not that much to show, Deeks. Stop boasting.”

“Shut up, Sam. Or I really am walking right out that door.”

“Don’t forget to leave your hair clip behind.”

“Enough. Mr. Deeks is actually making a very valid point.”

“For once.”

“Luckily, Ms Jones thought of that and has solved the problem for you. For all of you, gentlemen. And here is the solution.” Hetty delved into her bag of tricks once again.

“Spanx?”

“Not Spanx, although rather similar. Ms Jones was able to ascertain that you put these on and then arrange yourselves appropriately.” Hetty was rather proud of the way she phrased that. “So that everything is out of sight, if you get my meaning.”

Deeks blanched, but managed a quick recovery. “Maybe Nell could come down and show me?” he suggested helpfully.

Hetty gave him an old-fashioned look. “I hardly think that will be necessary. The shop owner kindly provided some diagrams just in case any of you had any problems.”

They were somewhat graphic in detail and Callen felt his eyes begin to water. “You really do think of everything. I don’t suppose you’ve got razors for us in there too?” He held out his hand and was less than surprised when Hetty handed them out in total silence.

“Come on, show me mine.” Kensi was resigned for the worst and was pleasantly surprised when she received a tailored black suit, with cigarette pants and tuxedo jacket, plus a white silk shell to wear underneath. “Way to go, Nell!” She looked at Hetty expectantly. “Where’s my underwear?” She was wearing a black bra today, and it was well past its first flush of youth into the bargain.

“Not with that top, my dear.”

“I thought you were perfectly happy with what God gave you,” Callen said wickedly.

“I hope you cut your legs to ribbons when you’re shaving.”

Deeks was still surveying the pseudo-Spanx with considerable skepticism. “This is never going to work.”

“You’ve got that the wrong way around. The real question is: ‘will it work afterwards?’ Be sure and let me know, won’t you?” Kensi grabbed her gear and ran off to the sanctity of the female shower room, leaving her colleagues to edge towards the male showers. The rest of their colleagues were either kind enough to pretend not to notice them slink past, or they were too terrified of what Hetty might do. Either way, at least this journey was less torturous that the previous one.

“She’s got a point, you know.” Sam looked at the diagram and winced. “How the hell are we supposed to walk?”

“Very carefully indeed.”

“Remind me again whose bright idea this was?” Deeks pulled off his shirt and surveyed his armpit in the mirror. “Because this is wrong on so many levels.” He picked up the soap and turned on the tap.

“Eric’s. And once we get back, he’s a dead man.” Callen drew his razor down through the hair and then looked at the razorblade in disgust. “This is going to take longer than I thought.” He rinsed it in under the tap and started again.

“Don’t forget we’ve got our legs to do as well. Anyone want to tell me how you shave the back of your leg when you can’t see what you’re doing?” Sam stared at them in the mirror. “How can women be bothered doing this all the time?”

“Beats me.” Deeks surveyed one naked armpit and shook his head in sorrow. “This is surreal. You are sure this is all above board? It’s not just Hetty having us on?”

“Would I do something like that?” Hetty chided, popping up like a rabbit from a conjurer’s hat. “Mr. Callen, you’re going to have to do something about that chest of yours too. While Marilyn Monroe received many compliments about her breasts, none of them were to do with any degree of hirsuteness.” She departed abruptly, so they could not see the broad smile on her face.

“After we’ve killed Eric, she’s next,” Callen vowed, as he pulled the razor across his chest with a grimace.

“That sounds fair enough.” Deeks had discarded his pants and slung his foot up onto the wash-hand basin to begin shaving his legs. “Jesus, you’ve got to be a bloody contortionist.”

“Just wait till you try putting on the panty hose.” Sam realized they had stopped dead in their tracks and were staring at him.

“We are not going to ask you how you know about that, are we Deeks?” Callen shook his head sadly.

“No way. I don’t want to go there.”

“In fact, we’re never talking about this again. Understand?”

“Understood.”

“This never happened.”

“I wish.”

“Me too.”

“Just shut up and shave.”

*****

A Pop At The Cherry

“I’m not going out there.” Sam steadied himself by holding onto the side of the washbasin. To be more precise, he stopped himself from falling over only because he was gripping on to the porcelain with a death grip. These heels were proving trickier to master than he had anticipated. And the balls of his feet were aching like fun already, after only a few moments. No doubt he’d have fallen arches and bunions before the night was over.

“We’ve still got to get our makeup done.” Deeks surveyed his reflection critically. “We really need to get bigger mirrors in here. I can only see bits of myself.” He bent his knees and slowly lowered himself towards the ground. “Makes it kind of hard to get the overall impression.”

“Your butt looks huge, if that’s what you’re worried about.” Callen adjusted his falsies, which seemed to have a life of their own.

“Does not.” Deeks bounced up quickly and twirled around. “It actually looks kind of good,” he said complacently after a careful examination and a couple of surreptitious clenches. He looked across at Callen. “But those pencil pleats add about 10 pounds onto yours.”

“Really?” Callen pushed him away from the mirror. “Oh God, it’s true. My butt looks the size of Alabama,” he said mournfully. “That settles it: I’m not going out there either.” He and Sam both stared at Deeks.

“Okay. I get the message. I’ll text Hetty. She can damn well come to us for once.” There was no way Deeks was going out there alone, not now that he knew how the early Christians felt walking into the arena and just waiting for the lions to be released. He reached down automatically, before realizing that, unlike his pants, the dress had no pockets. “How the hell do women manage?” he muttered and dropped to the ground, where his pants were still lying in a heap.

“That’s why they tote their purses around with them everywhere.” And then filled them up with all kinds of junk, so they weighed about ten pounds, Sam thought. Men were just more organized, lead a more streamlined life.

“Kensi doesn’t. I’m not sure she even has a purse. Or a pocketbook.”

“Kensi’s not like normal women.”

“True enough.” Where on earth does she put all her junk then?

“Staging a sit-in, are we gentlemen?” Hetty breezed in, followed by Kensi and Nell. “Well, in this one case, the mountain has indeed come to Mohammed. I’ll be looking after you, Mr. Callen.” He looked like a rabbit hat had been caught in the headlights of an oncoming car and was just sitting there in the middle of the road, bleakly resigned to its fate.

“I can do my own make-up,” Sam said quickly as Nell approached him.

“Oh no you can’t,” Nell said forcefully and stared up at him. Given that Sam was wearing heels, she only came up to somewhere around his chest. The chest that was now artificially enhanced by a pair of chicken fillets (size: extra large). “Eric!” Nell had a surprisingly loud voice for someone so short.

“Eric’s not doing my make-up either.”

Nell managed to stop herself from kicking him in the shin, but it was a close-run thing. “Funny. Eric’s bringing in some chairs, Sam. This is going to take a while, so you may as well be comfortable. ” She gazed around curiously, having always wondered what the men’s restroom looked like; pretty much like the women’s, she thought, except for the urinals, obviously. Only it smelled strange – like a mixture of mildew and sweat, with an undertone of damp dog. Maybe it was decades of testosterone festering away?

“How come I get landed with you?” Deeks glared down at Kensi.

“I guess it’s your lucky day.”

“You look different without make-up.”

Despite herself, Kensi rose to the bait. “Different how?” A good different or a bad different?

“I dunno.” Deeks shrugged. “Just different. Like your eyes don’t look so dark or something.”

“Oh.” Kensi considered this for a moment and then took a long hard look at him. “That dress actually kind of suits you,” she confessed.

“What?” Deeks’ voice rose at least an octave and it wasn’t just because the sudden movement made the control panties cut in painfully, although that certainly didn’t help. “Guys — help me out here.”

“Kensi — no man ever wants to be told he looks good in a dress,” Callen said. “Believe me.”

“Don’t worry, G — you’re not in any danger of that happening to you any time soon.”

“Is that the pot calling the kettle black, Sam? Jealous are we?”

“Why would I be jealous of you?” Sam flared back. I look damn fine – for a man in a dress.

Deeks gave Kensi a long-suffering look. “See what you’ve started? Just don’t mention Callen’s ‘Bama butt if you want to avoid nuclear meltdown.”

“Is it safe to come in?” Eric hovered nervously outside the door, deeply regretting his actions earlier in the day. Given their awesome reputations in a fight, baiting the guys probably hadn’t been the wisest thing to do. And when it came to Kensi, it was downright suicidal.

“Go and collect them from him, Nell.” Kensi didn’t want the atmosphere in the room to get any worse than it already was. And she wasn’t thinking about the fact that the place could certainly do with a few dozen air-fresheners dotted around.

“That’s better!” Hetty said jovially, once Callen was seated. “I think we’ll give you a rose-petal complexion, darken your eyes and give you ruby red lips. That should do the job. An exercise in contrasts, if you like.”

“Do I have a choice?”

“What do you think?”

Callen submitted to her ministrations without another word.

Nell surveyed Sam intently. “You’ve got the coloring to carry off something pretty dramatic. So I’m going to go for gold and green on your eyes. And loads of eyeliner.”

“Do you have to?” He sounded completely miserable, but that was partly because sitting down was putting pressure on certain parts of his anatomy. Sam realized that it wasn’t just the balls of his feet that would be aching tonight, but his balls in general. Oh well, things could be worse, he supposed — like if he had a little piggy tail poking out of the back of his frock. But apart from that, this was pretty much as bad as it could get.

“Who’s the mouse now?” Deeks asked and then smiled up at Kensi. “Go on — do your worst.”

“Have a little faith. I’m just going to pluck your eyebrows a bit.” Well, quite a lot actually. They’re kind of shaggy.

“You are not,” he said emphatically. Deeks was pretty easy going as a rule, but Kensi had crossed a line there. Temporary changes were all very well, as were shaving parts of himself that were normally hidden underneath clothing. But no way was he going to be running around chasing criminals with plucked eyebrows.

“Am too.” She advanced towards him, brandishing a pair of tweezers.

A hand shot out and grabbed hold of her wrist. “Enough, Kensi. I’m not joking here.”

Her eyes widened in shock as he increased the pressure. “Okay. There’s no need to be a bully about it.” He let go and Kensi badly wanted to rub her wrist to try to lessen the sting, but she wasn’t about to give Deeks the satisfaction of seeing he’d hurt her.

“There’s also such a thing as taking a joke too far.” Deeks saw the reddening mark where his fingers had gripped her and immediately felt contrite. “Did I do that? I’m really sorry, Kensi.”

“Don’t flatter yourself. It would take more than you to hurt me, Deeks. Point taken about the eyebrows. I’ll just fudge the illusion by shading a darker line. If that’s alright with you?”

“I can live with that.” Deeks shut his eyes and just prayed he wouldn’t look too ridiculous.

The three women worked in away silence, punctuated only by the occasional instruction to “look up” or “purse your lips.” Finally, they were finished and ready to reveal the results of all their labors.

“I never appreciated how much effort women go to,” Sam confessed, staring at his reflection in awe. For a macho guy, he made a pretty impressive drag queen. Somehow Nell had managed not to compromise his masculinity, for which he was truly thankful.

“Me either.” Deeks blinked in shock as he surveyed himself and then looked sideways at Callen. “You look like Divine.”

“Thanks. Do you really think so?”

“Callen — Deeks didn’t say you looked divine. He said you looked like Divine. You know — the big fat guy in drag? The ugly one in Hairspray who wasn’t Rikki Lake. Personally, I think you look more like Jack Lemmon.”

“In Some Like It Hot?” Callen gave Deeks a hate-filled look. He looked nothing like Divine — did he?

“No. Just Jack Lemmon in general.” It was fair to say that Hetty wasn’t quite as adept with makeup as either Kensi or Nell, Sam thought. She’d managed to turn a good-looking guy into an ugly parody of a woman. He glanced as Deeks and couldn’t help smiling. “You look like a woman.”

“Wasn’t that the idea?”

“No. the idea was to make us look like drag queens. You actually look like a woman.” It was rather disconcerting. If he’d been walking behind Deeks, and not known it was him, Sam actually might have been attracted to him. And that was truly terrifying.

“He’s right,” Callen admitted. “Apart from the eyebrows.”

“I told you they needed to be plucked.” Kensi was glad to have been vindicated.

“I always said you were a pretty boy. And now Kensi’s just proved me right. Bet you’re the first to pull tonight.” Sam gave him a knowing wink.

That was one bet Deeks would be glad to lose.

*****

Other Boys Check You Out

Hetty had arranged for a limo to take them directly to the Pop of the Cherry, so once the final touches were added to their outfits, they trooped out, this time in complete and utter silence, as every other person in the Mission seemed to be concentrating incredibly hard on their work. You could have heard a rhinestone earring fall to the ground.

“Phoneys. Do they really think I didn’t notice the surveillance cameras?” Sam snorted and then tried to get into the limo without flashing his control panties to the whole world. It was considerably more difficult than it appeared and his entrance was somewhat less than elegant. Deeks thought of his pencil-slim skirt and settled for hiking it up above his knees before clambering in, while Callen fared the best, due to the sheer volume of his skirt, which pretty much hid a multitude of sins.

“I’m going to have to give you guys a crash course, aren’t I?” Kensi looked at the three of them, sitting in a row. “Knees together when you’re sitting down. Oh, for the love of God! Deeks — don’t cross your legs! I can see everything — and I mean everything. Only it’s all sort of in the wrong place.” She covered her eyes in horror and repressed a shudder. That cannot be good for him.

“Don’t talk to me about it.” He squirmed uncomfortably. “These panties are squeezing my balls to death and crawling up my butt at the same time.”

Kensi clapped her hands over her ears in horror. This was even worse than she had ever imagined. She was definitely claiming double-overtime for this little excursion. Plus danger money for the damage to her mental well-being.

“My pantyhose won’t stay up. The crotch is somewhere round my knees. And my inner thighs are starting to chafe.” Sam reached underneath his dress and tried to hike the offending garment up but Kensi slapped his wrist.

“Don’t haul them by the waistband. You have to ease them up your legs gently, otherwise you’ll rip them. Honestly, you’d think none of you had ever been with a woman. And don’t start. I don’t mean like that, and you know it.”

“I don’t think I’ll ever be with a woman again.” Deeks gave another desperate wriggle.

“Too much information. Callen — what are you doing with that clutch?”

“I’m clutching it.” What else would you do with a clutch?

“Well don’t. You look like a poor widow woman, who’s about to lose the farm. Either let it lie in your lap, or tuck it under your arm. No — not like it’s a football.” Kensi’s head was starting to ache again with the strain of it all. Exactly where in her job description did it state that she had to give etiquette lessons to a trio of inept drag queens? “And for God’s sake, stop playing with your breasts. You’re heaving them around like they’re a pair of puppies. Leave them alone. They’re not pillows you’re trying to plump up.” She gave him a stern look.

“I always kind of wondered what it would be like to have breasts.” Deeks looked down at his DD chest with considerable satisfaction.

“Me too.” Sam looked at his own, considerably larger bosom with even greater satisfaction. “Why the dirty look, Kensi? Don’t tell me you never once imagined what it would be like to…“

“Stop right there. That’s it. I don’t know what’s come over you guys, but that is absolutely it. And, just for the record, I’ve never, ever thought about what it would be like to have a dick.” Except when we’re out in the middle of nowhere and it would be really handy to be able to pee standing up and not need toilet tissue. And avoid poison ivy. All that squatting and then shaking gets old really quickly. And seeing as how I don’t carry a purse, I’ve not got anywhere to stash a supply of Kleenex.

“We’re just embracing our feminine sides.”

“Well stop it. Because it’s creeping me out. I much preferred it when you were your normal, sexist-pig selves.”

“You all heard that, didn’t you?” Callen looked around for confirmation.

“Whatever.” Kensi crossed her arms and wished the driver would turn down the air-con, because it was bloody freezing, and without a bra for camouflage, her nipples were sticking out like football studs. Luckily, the guys were too absorbed with themselves to notice.

“We’re nearly here.” Callen could feel a mixture of excitement and dread in his gut. Or maybe it was an incipient hernia due to the forcible rearrangement of his genitals? He patted his thigh gently, just to make sure the gun was still in place.

“Try not to flash too many people when you get out,” Kensi pleaded. She let them exit the limo first and followed behind, in the vain hope that she wouldn’t be associated with them. Especially Callen, who really made an incredibly ugly woman. Sam stalked along confidently, having finally mastered the art of walking in heels. He bore a remarkable resemblance to Grace Jones, only in a slightly less antagonistic, more feminine way. Deeks sashayed alongside him, his butt swaying pertly along, neatly sheathed in sea-foam green silk.

An elbow dug her in the ribs. “Like a pair of hard-boiled eggs in a handkerchief. Or maybe a ripe peach, just asking to be bitten into.” The man stretched out a hand to grab Deeks’ ass and Kensi acted instinctively, pulling him around to face her, while Deeks sauntered along, completely impervious to the stir he was causing.

“Hands off, buddy.”

“Hey — a pretty face is fair game.” The man took a good look at her and smiled. “Well, well, well. Who would have thought that Kensi Blye batted for the other team?”

“Back off, Renko. I mean that. Get the hell out of here. Now.”

“Worried I’ll spill the beans? I thought you had more guts than that.”

“I’m working, you cretin.”

“Shit. Seriously? You’re not just having me on?”

“Do I have to spell it out? Take a good look — that’s Callen in the white dress, over there.” In splendid isolation, poor guy. People are giving him a wide berth. It’s like he’s got his very own exclusion zone.

Renko took a quick look and flinched slightly. “He’s not having much luck, is he? What the hell happened to his face? It’s like it melted or something.”

“Hetty did his makeup,” Kensi explained sadly. She was beginning to feel really sorry for Callen. “You’re right, though; he couldn’t be less popular if he was Typhoid Mary. Sam’s by the bar, with the red hair.”

Renko raised his eyebrows. “I thought I’d seen it all. And who’s the delicious blonde at his side?” He licked his lips and eyed Deeks up and down. And then up again.

“Deeks. Marty Deeks. After your time.” Kensi began to see that she might get some mileage out of this.

“Marti, eh? I think I’ll go and introduce myself. I might just get lucky.”

“You might.” Kensi smiled charmingly and watched as Renko crept up and goosed Deeks thoroughly.

*****

Boys Always Work It Out

With a startled yelp, Deeks seemed to leap his own height in the air as Renko’s hand caressed his butt lovingly. All of a sudden he knew exactly what girls meant when they complained about wandering hand trouble. Not that they ever complained to him, of course.

“My friend’s not that sort of girl,” a menacing voice behind Renko said.

“I’m not any sort of girl,” Deeks amplified. He turned around and glared at Renko. “Keep your hands to yourself, buddy, or you’ll be spitting out teeth for the next couple of days.” Renko paled by at least two shades as he heard the unmistakably male tones issuing from the pretty face.

“What the man said.” Callen studied Renko with disdain. “So this is your natural habitat, is it? Interesting.”

“That’s rich, coming from a man in drag.”

“I’m on a job. We all are. What’s your excuse?”

Renko decided that a change of tack was the best solution if his private life was to remain just that and turned his attention back to Deeks. “Kensi said you were called Marti.” It was not immediately apparent if he was disappointed or titillated, or even both.

“I am.” Deeks stared at him. “And that gives you liberty to touch me up how?”

“Marti’s a girl’s name.”

“Not when it’s short for Martin, it isn’t,” Callen informed him.

“You make a lousy girl, Callen.” Renko shifted gear once again.

“Is that supposed to bother me? You think I want to look like a girl and risk get felt up by creeps like you?” Callen was starting to feel better about being the ugly sister of the trio, if it meant he didn’t have to have creeps like Renko running their lascivious hands all over his body. Although it would mortifying if he was the only one who wasn’t at least flirted with tonight. “Listen, seeing you’re here, you might as well make yourself useful. We’re looking for some Thai sailors who’ve been selling contaminated coke to Marines. So keep your eyes peeled, okay?”

“Will do.” Renko slunk off towards the bar. Maybe I’ll manage to dance with Marti later on, although Callen seemed almost suspiciously protective. Maybe that was why he’s acted like that — because he reckoned I was muscling in on his date? Well, I don’t mind sharing. That Marti looks like a real little goer, a prime dame. A threesome’s fine with me, as long as I don’t have to look at Callen.

“Nice friends you have, Callen. He didn’t even offer to buy me a drink.” Deeks pouted, the effect only being magnified by the pastel pink lip-gloss.

Sam heaved a martyred sigh. “Subtle as ever, Deeks. What do you want?”

“My usual.”

“Deeks — ladies don’t drink neat whiskey. Or beer straight out of the bottle.”

“Kensi does.”

“How many times do I have to tell you — Kensi’s not like other women.”

“Really? What am I like then?” Kensi glared at Sam. “Are you trying to tell me there are men, women and Kensis? Like I’m some sort of indeterminate gender?”

“Actually, we like to call ourselves intersex. I can see you’re clearly confused about your gender, dear.” The woman had the nerve to pat Kensi condescendingly on her arm. “Why not come to one of our meetings. We know what you’re going through and how hard it can be. We can help you get through this.”

In somewhat of a daze, Kensi found herself accepting the business card with “The 3rd Way — not freaks, just people” emblazoned on it. “Get me a drink. Scotch, preferably. On the rocks. Actually, make it a double. And make it quick.” This had to rate as the most embarrassing night of her life, bar none. It was even worse than the time Nate made her go line-dancing. She shoved the hateful card into the pocket of her pants.

“How come she gets scotch and I don’t?” Deeks whined.

“Because she’s Kensi. And we’ve already been through that. Just choose something more feminine.”

“I’ll have a mimosa,” Callen said.

“No way. You’re so not worth it. Be a cheap date for once and have white wine and soda. Come on, Deeks — make up your mind.”

“Have a cosmopolitan,” Kensi suggested.

“What is it with women and cranberry juice?”

She looked at him. “Very funny.”

“No — seriously. Why do women drink the stuff all the time?” He was genuinely curious.

“This isn’t the time or the place. But put it this way, you’re never going to have that problem.” Mind you, given how tight those panties are, you might be in for a nasty surprise.

Sam bent down to whisper in his ear. “They don’t call it the “honeymoon disease” for nothing, you know.”

Deeks barely repressed a shudder. “I’ll just have a Martini.”

“With a little dinky umbrella and a maraschino cherry?” Sam teased.

“Yes. Both of them.” Why not just live the dream? Deeks looked across at the dance floor as Bad Romance started to play. “That’s Hetty’s current favorite.”

“You dancing?” Kensi was quite partial to it as well.

“You asking?” He stared challengingly at her.

“I’m asking.” Kensi held out her hand.

“I’m dancing.”

The dance floor was packed, but Kensi pushed her way through and found a clear spot. She’d never danced with Deeks before and was relieved that he was nothing like Nate, who favored a style that could best be described as “modified windmill”. Actually, Deeks was quite a decent dancer. No, make that a bloody amazing dancer. “You know all the moves!”

“Yup.” He grinned at her. “We practice in the men’s room every Friday. Me, Sam and Callen. Like a boy band, only without the singing. Actually, that makes us exactly like a boy band. Hetty’s our choreographer.”

“Very funny.”

“So I go to clubs. Why’s that such a big surprise?”

“I just never had you pegged for a Lady Gaga fan, that all.” Kensi found herself wishing they were in a different club, wearing different clothes and without Sam and Callen.

Deeks shrugged. “There’s a lot about me you don’t know.” Like how turned on I am by the fact I can see your breasts through that top. Or rather, how turned on I would be if my testicles weren’t being squashed like a pair of those stress balls.

All of a sudden, Kensi felt herself being pushed aside, just as Vogue started to blare out. “My dance.” A short Thai stared at Deeks in delight. They exchanged glances above his head and Kensi went off in search of Callen and Sam, as Deeks segued effortlessly into his best Madonna impersonation. It was disturbingly good, Kensi thought. He really did have slinky hips.

“Deeks has pulled,” she announced.

“Big deal. Deeks always pulls.”

“What do you mean?” Kensi sounded incredibly indignant.

“Whenever we go out, Deeks gets a lady,” Callen explained, as if to a slightly dim child.

“Sometimes more than one. At the same time,” Sam amplified.

“No — what do you mean ‘ when you go out’? What about me?” For some reason, Kensi felt absurdly hurt.

“We’re not allowed a boy’s night out? Besides, you’d cramp our style.”

“I’m not cramping Deeks’ style, am I?” Kensi said sourly, and then suddenly remembered why they were all here. “And it looks like one of our Thai sailors thinks this is his lucky night. With any luck, his buddies are here too.”

“I wonder if it’s Deeks’ lucky night too?” Sam swallowed his Manhattan in one gulp and stalked toward the dance floor, where the Thai sailor had his head happily buried between Deeks’ chicken-fillet breasts and both hands firmly clutching his butt cheeks.

“Help,” Deeks mouthed.

“It seems a shame to break them up, doesn’t it? “ Callen mused.

“You’re just jealous,” Deeks hissed. “Even in drag, I’m still the first one to pull.”

“Yeah, but the difference is that when I say ‘I don’t fancy yours’, I actually mean it this time.”

*****

These Are Your Favorite Things

As luck would have it, at that point the music changed to the perennial classic YMCA, which was hardly a song you could slow dance to. Sam grabbed hold of the Thai sailor’s hand and did a neat maneuver so that he was pinioned between him and Deeks, a position he seemed entirely thrilled with.

“Come on.” Callen held his hand out to Kensi.

“No way.”

“Just one dance,” he wheedled persuasively. “And we’ll grab the Thai when the song ends.” God, he loved the Village People. Especially the Indian. Maybe he could persuade Sam and Deeks that they could do a routine for the Christmas party? Sam would look great as the Builder and Deeks was a shoo-in for the Biker.

“I hate this song.” Kensi let herself be dragged onto the dance floor with great reluctance. How could she get her funk off to a cheesy piece of 70’s disco crap?

Sam soon learned that dancing in a wig, high heels and a long dress was a complicated matter. But at least, unlike Ginger Rogers, he didn’t have to dance backwards. Just managing not to go over on his ankles was a feat in itself and every time he raised his hands above his head, he was in danger of knocking his wig off. As it was, it was already listing to one side and Kensi was very tempted to pull it straight. Except for the fact that she would have needed a step ladder in order to get anywhere his head. Apparently cross-dressing women not only didn’t wear bras; neither did they wear high heels. She felt like one of the Munchkins in the Wizard of Oz.

The Thai sailor was apparently somewhat bemused by the actions, but was gamely giving it his best shot. His lack of successful was perhaps directly attributable to the fact that his eyes were firmly fixed on Deeks’ false breasts, which were threatening to pop out of the top of this frock every time he raised his arms. Kensi wondered dubiously just how he knew the routine so well. Was there something he wasn’t telling her? Did he make rather too good a woman?

Callen was making the most of his time dancing with Kensi, having the distinct impression that this would be the only dance he got all night. Leaping with gusto into the routine, and remembering a night from years ago in a club in Berlin where he’d performed it solo, dancing on top of the bar to great acclaim and wearing only a pair of tighty-whities and his boots, Callen gave it everything he had, impervious to the fact that his own falsies were swinging to and fro in a contrary rhythm to the song. He’d show these guys what they were missing. There was only one small problem — he completely forgot to take account of the rather different underwear he was wearing tonight.

“What’s the matter?” Kensi hissed seeing the ominously green tinge to his face, which contrasted grotesquely with the thick kabuki-like mask of make-up Hetty had plastered on.

“We might need to drop by the hospital.” Callen felt sick. “I think I might have ruptured something. Or even both somethings.”He wondered if he would ever be the same man again. Or even just a man. “I’m going to have to go to the restroom.” I wonder how much damage a pair of control panties can do? I mean, they’re pretty much made out of industrial strength Lycra. Could they cut off the blood supply? And what the hell do I put down on my insurance claim form?

“Don’t be such a baby.” It’s only a pair of panties, for crying out loud. It’s not as if he’s wearing a thong and feeling like he’s got dental floss cutting in between his butt cheeks. How much damage can a pair of Spanx do, for crying out loud? What are we talking about here — terminal VPL?

“Baby!” The Thai grinned at her as the music changed into Murder on the Dance Floor. “Justin Bieber — pretty boy.” He looked adoringly up at Deeks, who was now getting his thing on once again and grinding away like a pro. All that he lacked was a pole, Kensi thought. She was definitely suspicious now.

That pretty much said it all, as far as Callen was concerned. He limped off towards the restrooms and promptly found himself faced with a dilemma. What was the correct etiquette in such a situation? Did you go with the gender assigned to you at birth, or with your personal preference? After a moment’s reflection, he plumped for the ladies, correctly reasoning that using a urinal was out of the question, given that it would not only involve a lot of unseemly groping and rearranging of vital parts of his anatomy, but perhaps more importantly would require him to hold his skirt up with one hand, while standing there with his panties and pantyhose somewhere in the region of his knees. And given the throbbing emanating from his nether regions, Callen was somewhat reluctant to expose himself to public scrutiny. No, he would keep whatever tattered remnants of pride he had left and make for the safety of a toilet stall, where he could do his business in peace and private. And also examine his genitals to see if there was any possible hope of salvation.

It took a while, and he managed to put his fingers through the left leg of his pantyhose, but at least everything still seemed to be functioning as it should, which was a considerable relief. Carefully rearranging himself, Callen took a deep breath and exited the stall.

“This is your first time, isn’t it dearie?”

“How did you know?” All these years I’ve been going undercover and tonight I’m standing out like a sore thumb. This is mortifying.

The other man/woman/drag queen just gave him a sympathetic smile. “You keep on trying. You’ll find the right look sooner or later. Just don’t give up. We’ve all been there. You’re a brave boy, I’ll say that for you.”

Left alone, Callen stared at his reflection in the mirror and tried not to shudder. What the hell had Hetty been thinking? And what the hell had been thinking to let her do this to him? It struck him that he’d fulfilled a long-held fantasy and was finally in the sanctum sanctorum – the holy of holies. He’d spent half his high school years fantasizing about being in a women’s restroom, and now he was finally here, Callen just felt like crap, a complete failure. It wasn’t that he wanted to be attractive to men — of course it wasn’t that. It was just… Callen leaned forward and let his burning forehead rest against the cool of the glass. “I want to go home,” he whispered quietly. And then something clicked. It was too quiet, far too quiet. There was no reverberating beat, no sound of any music at all.

“Oh shit.” Hauling up his dress, Callen pulled out his gun and slung his ID around his neck before exiting the restroom cautiously. The dance-floor was almost empty, except for a small group of people, standing in a huddle. Callen saw a flash of sea-foam green and a jaunty head of red curls and felt his heart sink.

*****

You Get A Girl

Renko materialized at Callen’s side, gun also drawn and a hunted expression on his face. “I’ve called for back- up. Something spooked the other two sailors, and when they tried to make a run for it, your guy over there pulled a knife.” He was careful to keep well behind Callen’s wide skirt as they made their way forward.

“Federal agents,” Callen called, flashing his ID. It looked as if none of the others had been forced to break cover, which was good. What was not so good was the fact that the Thai now had a knife pressed against Deeks’ belly, and his other hand pressed firmly against the agent’s false breasts, one of which was starting to appear above the top of his dress’s neckline, like a small, pink jelly-fish seeking calmer waters. Deeks’ head was back and his Meg Ryan hair do was causing his captor no little difficult, as pieces kept making their way into his mouth, so that he was continually having to spit them out.

“Take those damn stupid shoes off,” Renko hissed. “Platforms may be right on trend this season, but you’re not going to be able to do much in the way of pursuit in them, are you?”

Muttering under his breath, Callen had to admit that, for once, Renko actually had a point. He fiddled fruitlessly with the tiny straps for several heart-pounding seconds before he finally managed to undo them and was able to remove his shoes. While they might not have added to his ability to run, they were certainly chunky enough to cause some serious damage and Callen briefly contemplated flinging them at the Thai sailor’s head. With some regret, he left them lying at the side of the dance floor, missing the extra six inches they gave him in height, although his toes relished the freedom from being cramped into a pointed shape. Glancing down, he realized with chagrin that his left big toe had punctured a hole right through the fragile material of his pantyhose. All of a sudden, pedicures made sense, as his toe nail gleamed an unattractive shade of dingy yellow in the lights of the club. First thing he was going to do when he got home was hunt out the nail clippers, Callen vowed. Well, maybe after he’d washed all this makeup off his face. And maybe after he’d knocked back a couple of stiff drinks. But it was definitely on his to-do list, that was for sure. He thought that the next time he was at the mall, he might pluck up the courage to stick his feet in one of those tanks with the fish in them, the ones that were supposed to nibble away any hard skin. After all, now he’d paraded around in drag, how much more ridiculous could life get?

“Put the knife down,” Callen yelled, and simultaneously had this vivid image of how ridiculous this must appear — a short sailor threatening to stab a drag queen who channeling his inner Meg Ryan (with a fair degree of success, it had to be said) and was a good foot taller than him, while another an agent who looked like a crack-dealer’s nightmare vision of Marilyn Monroe on methamphetamine sidled towards him in his stocking soles, like a crab with vertigo. It wasn’t exactly his finest hour, Callen thought drearily, although at least his wide skirt wouldn’t hamper any movement, unlike Deeks who was pretty compromised by his tight sheath. Scanning the scene rapidly, he realized his wig was impeding his peripheral vision, and in complete exasperation, plucked it off and threw it away. It landed underneath a table, where it sat looking not unlike a peroxide blonde rabbit in a huff.

The sailor merely smiled at him and poked the knife a little further into Deeks’ stomach, just enough to break the skin. Callen could see Deeks tried hard not to wince, but his eyes grew wide with horror and Callen could see a small spot of blood begin to seep out and stain the sea-foam green satin. All of a sudden, in the wink of an eye, things had stopped being funny and the operation had turned deadly serious. There was no time to waste. He looked at Sam and raised his eyebrows an infinitesimal amount.

Sam reached out a long arm towards the back of the man’s head, hoping to grab him around the neck from behind, but the stealthy movement was betrayed by the jangle of bracelets on his wrist and he lost the element of surprise. There was a strangled bellow as the knife was thrust in as far as it would go and then twisted brutally, followed by some most unladylike swearing from Deeks and some even worse obscenities from Kensi, and then all hell broke loose.

As Deeks sank slowly down to the floor, arms clutched protectively around his stomach, Sam burst into action, like a whirlwind in shades of violently clashing shades of violet and scarlet. Twirling around like a dervish, he found that the high heels actually gave him extra impetus on his spin, and allowed him to kick his leg out and up with even more force than normal. However, the round-house kick he aimed squarely at the sailor’s face was accompanied by a loud tearing sound, as the skirt of his dress ripped apart at the seams. As the smaller man bent forwards with the shock of the blow, Sam found himself instinctively clutching the tattered remnants of his dress around his loins in an attempt to preserve whatever shreds of dignity he had left.

Callen started to run, keeping his head well down, like a bull that has seen the flutter of a red cape. Only in his case, the stimulus was pale green and lying much too still for comfort. Somehow, his headlong, almost blind dash was successful and he managed to head-butt his opponent right in the solar plexus, tipping him over backwards so that he went like a nine-pin. Unfortunately, his own shoes, with their smooth, slippery soles, did not give him enough purchase on the polished dance-floor to stop his wild sprint, and he got hopelessly entangled with the sailor’s wildly thrashing feet. For a spilt-second, Callen had that dreadful feeling that he was about to fall, and the equally bad knowledge that there was not a single thing he could do to stop it. Resigning himself to the inevitable, he let himself collapse forward…

And found himself lying prone on the floor, spread-eagled between the sailor’s legs, his nose a scant inch from the other man’s crotch.

“Make one move, and I’ll bite,” he growled, and then showed his teeth for good measure.

The sailor made a reflexive movement that might have been an attempt to protect his manhood, but unfortunately, it coincided with a low moan of pain that Callen instantly recognized as coming from Deeks. That was it– the proverbial last straw that blew the remnants of his patience into the four winds. “I warned you!” he yelled and then bent his head down and sunk his teeth into the soft flesh, like a dog gnawing a bone.

The resulting wail had probably not been heard since the days of creating castratos had ceased, with a few notable exceptions, most notably the marital home of John Wayne Bobbitt and his wife Loretta. It could most probably have been heard for at least five blocks and it was a tribute to Callen’s tenacity that he did not open his jaws one fraction, but continued to hold on doggedly. It certainly had the effect of spurring Kensi into action. While she had every sympathy (and indeed a certain admiration) with Callen’s instinctive reaction, she knew she couldn’t really allow him to continue to chew mercilessly upon the man’s groin while his hands squeezed the unfortunate sailor’s balls as if he was on a mission to make a quart of lemonade as quickly as possible.

“Drop!” she screamed instinctively, and Callen came back to his senses to find himself on all fours, with his teeth firmly embedded in a man’s penis, while Sam stood to one side, frantically adjusting his tattered clothing, which had ripped right up to his waist and was now exposing his control panties.

A blinding flash illuminated the scene, as Renko fired off a series of rapid photographs, immortalizing it for posterity. Or at least for future blackmail purposes. Already he could see the front page of next week’s National Enquirer, along with the resultant paycheck.

“Leave him to me,” Kensi growled.

*****

You’re Always First On The Line

Sam put a long-nailed and beautifully manicured hand on Kensi’s arm. Nell had urged him to go with the metallic-hued stick-on nails, but he’d been intent on the ones with tiger stripes, and he was strangely reassured to see that he’d made the right decision. They looked wicked. Maybe he was more in touch with his feminine side than he’d previously thought? “Remember to leave enough pieces for us to identify,” he requested mildly. “Going through dental records can be a real pain.”

Then he dropped to his knees beside Deeks, while Callen hiked up his skirt ungracefully, fished a pair of handcuffs from somewhere in the region of his underwear (and Sam really didn’t want to know any more than that) and dealt with the trembling Thai sailor, who was clearly wondering if he would forevermore sing falsetto.

“You okay, man?” Sam asked, trying to sound too worried.

Deeks cranked open an eye and Sam noticed his eyeliner had started to run. Or maybe it was his mascara? It was kind of difficult to tell. “Do I look alright?” he said tetchily.

“No — you look like a man in drag, with a hole in his gut. But you knew that, didn’t you? Let me have a look.” Sam’s long, tiger-striped nails gently pried away Deeks’ shorter ones, which had been painted pale green to compliment his dress. “Hetty’s going to kill you, you know that, don’t you?” Jesus, the wound looks bad. And there was too much blood. Far too much blood. Sam pressed down firmly and Deeks could not repress a wince of pain.

“If I live that long.” Deeks had closed his eyes again and his breath was coming in short pants.

Sam recognized the signs that he was going into shock and slapped his cheek gently. “Don’t even think that, you hear? And do not pass out on me, okay?”

“You’re a bully. Okay, I’ll bite. Why would Hetty kill me?” Deeks asked, with a certain tone of resignation in his voice.

“Because there’s no way she can return this dress, not after you’ve gone and bled all over it.” Where’s the back-up? What the hell is taking the ambulance so long? Of course, knowing Renko, there’s every chance the guy has called the wrong number and ended up asking for takeout pizza instead of support.

“I’ll try not to be so inconsiderate next time. Sam — do me a favor, will you?”

“That depends what it is. If it involves anything to do with that manky dog you keep springing from the LAPD pound, then the answer’s no. If it’s kissing Kensi goodbye, then I’ll consider it. But only if we get to use tongues.” Even under the foundation and blusher, Sam could see that Deeks was looking far too pale.

“Funny man. My sides are splitting. Wait a minute — they actually are.”

“Technically, only one side. So stop exaggerating. You want me to feel sorry for you or something? Because it’s not working.” No, I’m just going out of my skull with worry instead.

“Anyway, Monty’s okay. He can’t help the way he looks. Kind of like Callen tonight. You’ve got to look a bit deeper.”

“So what do you want me to do?” Christ, my hands are covered in blood. No matter how hard Sam pressed on the wound, the blood just kept coming. You couldn’t see that his nails were painted in golden strips, they just looked scarlet.

“Make sure they know this was for an op, will you? The hospital, I mean. Make sure they know I don’t go around dressed like this by choice.” There was a certain pleading note in Deeks’ voice and when he opened his eyes to stare at Sam, they looked large and frightened.

“Sure. If you promise to do the same for me,” Sam said, using a convoluted form of logic. Because if you promise me, that means you have to stay alive instead of dying on this stinking dance floor, wearing that stupid dress. Because you don’t deserve this, Deeks. And neither do I.

“It’s a deal.” Deeks closed his eyes in relief. “You see, I’ve been dating this emergency doctor for a couple of months now, and I really don’t want her to get the wrong idea about me.”

“What does she think you do?”

“Investment banker.” His lips moved into the ghost of a smile. “I can be a really convincing liar.”

“No way.”

“Way.”

“I should have known you were a Wayne’s World fan.”

“I’ve got hidden shallows.”

“Stick around and you’ll find out just how superficial I am.” Don’t die on me, Deeks.

“I might just do that. And teach you to pull off a really convincing cover.” It was getting harder and harder to concentrate, Deeks found. And he knew exactly why Sam was pressing down on the wound — to stop him from bleeding out — but it was bloody sore. Bad pun, Marty. Very bad pun.

“I’ll give you that one. Either she’s really stupid, or you’re damned good.” How the hell could anyone believe Deeks was anything except some scruffy beach bum?

“I told you — she’s a doctor. So she’s really smart. Got her own stethoscope and everything. Not to mention a sexy white coat. Smart and hot.” He managed to look smug and at death’s door in the same instant, which was no mean feat, even for Deeks, Sam thought.

“Back-up’s outside.” Kensi was slightly out of breath. “Want me to take over for a bit, Sam?” She could see how the muscles in his arms were trembling. She didn’t want to look at the wound, because one look at Sam’s face had told her everything she needed to know.

“I’m good. How much of Renko did you leave for them to pick up?”

“I just spoke to him, very nicely.”

“You threatened him, didn’t you? Way to go, Kensi.” Deeks’ eyes fluttered open briefly, but his voice sounded strained and faint.

“Hey, Marty.” Kensi sank down to the floor and took hold of his hand. “What did you want to go and do this for?”

“I didn’t do it on purpose,” he protested weakly.

“Sure you did. You just love being the center of attention.” Well, it’s certainly worked this time.

“Can I help it if I’m fatally attractive? Not only to women, but actually as a woman?”

“You’re not that great. And don’t bother pouting, because it’s true.” Take away the big blue eyes, the great hair, the body to die for and lips that just beg to be kissed, and what have you got left? A guy with a warped sense of humor, who held my hands in that laser trap when he could have walked away? The man who turned up at my door that night with take-out food and beer?

“Tell that to the hot ER doctor he’s dating.” Sam wondered how much longer Kensi was going to manage to hide her feelings for. He and Callen had been placing bets for months now, and the pot was currently standing at over $1000. If nothing else, it would buy a great wreath for Deeks’ funeral.

“Male or female?” Kensi asked curiously, just as the paramedics rushed in.

*****

Uncage The Colors

Hetty was waiting for them at the hospital, foot tapping with impatience. “Well?” To say that she looked less than delighted was an understatement. Callen was tempted to say she looked thoroughly pissed-off, but that would have been tempting fate.

“We got one of them,” he said, after careful consideration.

“And the others?” Her steady gaze slipped sideways as Deeks was rushed past on a gurney, oxygen mask obscuring his face, although what could be seen of his hair was still looking remarkably fine. Almost as perky as Meg Ryan’s in fact.

“Gone. Ask Renko, why don’t you? He was the one who stood and watched them leave.” Callen was still smarting over that. Couldn’t the guy have stuck his foot out at the very least and tripped them up?

Hetty decided to give him that one. She felt rather guilty about the terrible job she’d done with his make-up. “And your wig? You do realize it was made of genuine human hair and cost a small fortune?”

“It’s back at the club. I tell you what, why don’t I just swing back there and pick it up?” he asked sarcastically. He wanted to scream ‘I just bit a guy’s dick!’, but after due reflection, thought this probably was neither the time nor the place. There would probably never be a right time or place to say such a thing. Except for back at Pop Of The Cherry, maybe. And just the thought of it was making his stomach churn. The things he did for his country…

She considered this for a good twenty seconds. “Why don’t you just call the scene of crime officer? I’m sure he’ll be happy to oblige. These things do cost money, you know. And I have a budget to account for. Ask him about your shoes too, while you’re on the phone.” You signed for them, Mr. Callen. And if I don’t get them back, it’s coming out of your wages.

“What about Deeks?”

“What about Mr. Deeks?” She gave him that Medusa-like glare that had withered better men’s loins to jelly in the past. However, as Callen was pretty sure his own loins were now past redemption, he really didn’t care.

“Well, seeing he was so careless as to throw himself onto a knife and bleed all over his frock, I guess you’ll be having a few words with him too. Before or after his surgery do you think?”

“Now you’re just being silly. Accidental damage is completely different to wanton carelessness.”

“What’s this about Callen being wanton? Don’t tell me NICS is going to be hit with a paternity suit?” Kensi was tugging at her French pleat and finally succeeded in freeing her hair. “Oh God, that feels so good. You wouldn’t believe how good it feels.”

Callen and Hetty just stared at the vision standing before them. Kensi ran her hands through her hair and then shook it out.

“Your hair,” Hetty said faintly. “It’s very… full.” You look like you’ve stuck your finger in an electric light socket.

“Your face seems to have dropped,” Callen volunteered. “But on the plus side, at least your eyebrows are back to normal and you don’t look surprised anymore.” After the ritual humiliation he’d gone through tonight, he reckoned Kensi had got off pretty lightly so far. It was one thing to go out as a drag queen, but it was quite another to go out as a horrifically ugly drag queen. He was beginning to wonder if Hetty had done it one purpose. Only she wouldn’t do that — would she? “By the way, Hetty — you’re going to have to write off Sam’s dress as well; he pretty much ripped all the seams in this skirt.”

Hetty gave him a hard look, said “Bugger” in emphatic terms and stormed into the emergency room, where Sam could be heard talking rather loudly.

“We don’t usually dress like this. In fact, we don’t ever dress like this. Except tonight. It was for a job.” Even he could hear how pathetic he sounded. The room was crowded with doctors and nurses, all rushing around doing the sort of things you saw in Grey’s Anatomy. Only with no cool sound track and with considerably less-good hair. Except for the patient, of course.

“We don’t judge people; we just try to fix them up,” a nurse informed him in ever so slightly patronizing tones. “But, if you don’t mind me saying, red really isn’t your color.” She gestured to his wig. “I see you more as a brunette.”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought. Maybe with some dark coffee lowlights?” Sam felt like biting his tongue off.

“Be careful with those scissors!” For a small lady, Hetty sure could pack a lot of volume into her words.

“Don’t worry,” the nurse soothed. “I won’t cut him. I just need to get this dress removed.”

“That’s what I’m talking about – the dress. Do you have any idea how much it cost?”

“Not a Scooby.” The nurse sheered through the material, from hem to neck and Hetty winced audibly.

“Pick those up,” Hetty commanded when the chicken fillets fell onto the floor. Mutely, Sam obeyed and handed them straight over to her. Hetty stood clutching them, looking as if she was about to start cooking tea for everyone.

It was probably just as well that by this stage Deeks was in a state of glorious unconsciousness, for now he was lying on the gurney wearing only his flesh-colored control panties, which left nothing to the imagination. Unless of course one was curious either as to how he’d managed to arrange himself in such a creative, if constricting manner, or indeed exactly why anyone would do that to themselves voluntarily. Sam instinctively clapped a hand over Hetty’s eyes. He felt he owed Deeks that much.

It was at this point that Deeks’ girlfriend walked in — and took one look at the patient and walked back out again, but not before screaming “investment wanker!” very loudly. It was easy to see why she was so upset, Sam thought, because Deeks was a dead ringer for her. They could have been twins. It was almost creepy how alike they looked. Actually, it was definitely creepy seeing Deeks lying there, exposed to the world, and all the while knowing he looked exactly the same under his skirt. Except that his panties were a different flesh tone, of course. They should definitely ask for danger money for this operation.

“I think there’s been a slight misunderstanding,” Sam said apologetically to the nurse and pushed Hetty outside before she could say or do anything else. It looked like it was going to be a long night. And if Deeks’ girlfriend had anything to do with it, it might just be a night of long knives. Maybe he wouldn’t actually have to worry about the state of his balls, because she very well might just cut them off, unless…

Well, he had promised the guy. And he did need a doctor. “You’d better not die on me, Deeks,” Sam vowed. “Because you are so going to owe me for this.” Mind you, if the worst came to the worst and she dumped Deeks, maybe she’d want a shoulder to cry on? Totally oblivious to the fact he was still in full drag, Sam ran after the doctor, his high heels clicking on the hard floor and the curls in his wig bobbing merrily.

*****

Unfurl The Flag

“Wait!” Sam cried and then gave a sudden yelp of pain as his ankle turned treacherously underneath him. The cry echoed around the hospital corridor and she stopped, albeit reluctantly.

“Let me guess – you’re a friend of Marty’s? A special friend?”

Sam could almost see the inverted commas around that remark. “We work together,” he admitted, wishing he was confident enough to balance on one foot. But given the height of his heels, he wasn’t going to risk falling over and breaking his other leg. How the hell did women manage? Maybe Deeks was right (for once) and Kensi really was Wonder Woman? He certainly had a new respect for her now. “Listen, I don’t think you understand what’s going on.”

“Please, don’t insult me. I might look like a bimbo, but having blonde hair and blue eyes doesn’t automatically make you dumb into the bargain.”

“Gearing up as a drag queen doesn’t automatically mean you’re into cross-dressing either.” He could hear how lame that was the second he said the words.

“Really? Next thing you’ll be telling me that if you hold a guinea pig up by the tail, its eyes drop out.”

Sam found he couldn’t take his eyes off her. Deeks was right – she was smart and so damned sexy that she was smoking, and here he was trying to persuade her to give the guy another chance? There was something very wrong with this picture.

“We’re federal agents,” Sam blurted out. “I can prove it,” he added hastily, seeing the look of disbelief in her eyes. “Just turn around for a second.”

“You’re going to pull a gun on me, aren’t you?” She gave Sam the sort of look he associated with door-to- door salesmen or Mormon missionaries.

Sam shook his head. “Nope, worse than that. My ID’s down my panties.” Somehow he managed to keep a straight face as he said that.

“I’m a doctor. I’ve seen it all before.” She held his gaze without flinching and Sam wished more than anything that he was just wearing his normal clothes and could flirt with her properly. Deeks was unconscious, after all. What he didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him… much. And it wasn’t as if he was going to be in any shape to chase Sam for at least a couple of weeks. By which time, knowing Deeks, he would probably have hit on a couple of dozen nurses and got it out of his system. But it was no good, Sam realized. He couldn’t do that to Deeks. Not until the guy was back on his feet and could put up a fair fight.

“You’ve not seen this before.” And when you do, I want everything to be back in the positions God meant them to be in.

“Big baby.” But she turned around. “If you come at me with a gun or a knife, I warn you, I’m strangling you with my stethoscope.”

“Promises, promises.” Sam delved furtively in his underwear. God alone knew why the designer had made these particular panties go all the way up to just below his nipples, but it made a difficult operation that much more tricky. “See?” He held up the ID. “We were undercover tonight. Hence the drag.”

“Marty said he was an investment banker.”

“Yeah, dumb story. Like anyone would buy that. He can be pretty dim,” Sam blurted out tactlessly. “Sorry, I meant pretty but dim.” It didn’t seem to help.

“I believed him.” She glared stonily at him and then fell forward into his arms. “Oh my God! He’s been stabbed and I’ve been such a bitch.”

“It could have been worse — at least he was unconscious.” Sam patted her gently on the back, congratulating himself on his empathy. Maybe there was something to be said for dressing up in a frock after all? Here he was, with this hot doctor literally throwing herself into his arms, pressing her incredible breasts against his own false ones and… nope, with that thought, the moment was gone. The industrial strength lycra in his control panties probably didn’t help either, as it kind of squeezed away any latent ardor. But he could enjoy the snuggling at least. He tightened his arms around her and let one hand drift slowly downwards.

“That perfume you’re wearing?” She sniffed gingerly. “What is it?”

“J-Lo LA Glow.” With great restraint, Sam forbore from asking if she liked it. He’d been pleasantly surprised with the scent and was actually considering buying some for himself.

A violent sneeze racked her body. “No — I hate it. I’m violently allergic to it.” She pulled away from him and put one hand over her nose and mouth. “And why am I standing here talking to you when Marty could be bleeding to death in there?” With that, she was gone, tearing back down the corridor at about twice the speed Sam could have managed, given her shoes, which had a t least 4 inch heels.

Some guys had all the luck, Sam reflected. Even though he was out for the count, Deeks had still managed to pull. Plus ca change, plus cela meme chose and all that jazz. He trudged wearily back to the waiting room. “I think I managed to sort things out with Deeks’ lady friend,” he announced.

“I’ll sleep better for knowing that,” Callen informed him. “You want the good news?”

“They found your wig?”

“Not quite as good as that.” One wag in the LAPD had posted a picture of it on Facebook entitled “Free to a good home: One Tribble” and Hetty had practically frothed at the mouth, insisting that tribbles looked nothing like that and demanding to know what the LAPD was coming to when young officers knew nothing of such a seminal episode of a classic TV show like Star Trek?

“Renko ordered us pizza?”

“Better. Eric’s coming over with a change of clothes. And underwear,” Callen said significantly, and gave a surreptitious shimmy, just to try to loosen things up a little bit. It as a hell of a shock to the system when free-range organs were suddenly constrained like this. “Oh, and Deeks is in surgery,” he added, and nodded over to where Hetty and Kensi sat, looking like a pair of hens left out in the rain.

Sam mulled this over. Maybe once he’d washed this muck off his face and changed into a tight shirt, he might just go and try to comfort the doctor? Show her how sensitive a real man could be? A real man, who had the benefit of being fully conscious and (hopefully) in possession of his fully compliment of assets? It was worth a shot. It would take his mind off worrying about Deeks, after all. And it was exactly what Deeks would do, were the tables turned.

*****

When You’re A Boy, Part Two

“This makeup is really hard to get off, isn’t it?” Sam splashed another handful of water over his face, but the eye shadow remained stubbornly in place. “I guess that’s why they call it waterproof.”

“No kidding, Sherlock.” Sometimes Callen really wondered about his partner. “Hetty said something about using cold cream. I looked in the hospital cafeteria, but all they had was yogurt. I guess we’ll have to use that soap.” He eyed at the bright green antibacterial soap in the dispenser with unease. It looked rather toxic, if he was perfectly honest, like radioactive slime from a horror movie. But, on the other hand, he was beginning to forget what he actually looked like without this hideously thick mask of makeup

Reaching out, Sam squirted a generous amount of soap into his hands, worked up a fine lather and then started to scrub at his face. “My eyes! They’re burning.” He swore with great fluency and rapidity and stuck his head underneath the running tap in desperation.

Callen wondered if perhaps he should have pointed out the warning on the container that stated “avoid contact with eyes” in large, perfectly clear letters, but reasoned that if the worst came to the worst, then at least they were in the right place to get some help. When Sam’s pathetic moans subsided a little, he judged it safe to proceed and cautiously rubbed a minuscule amount of soap onto one cheek and then dabbed it gingerly with some toilet tissue. To his great relief, a circle of normal-colored skin was revealed. Greatly encourage, he applied a little more, but was careful to avoid his eyes. Sam continued yelping and splashing water around in equal measures. “You reckon Kensi has any moisturizer?” he asked after several more applications of soap.

“What?” Sam was finding it difficult to hear over the running water and his own whimpers.

“My skin feels really tight. Like it’s parched or something.”

All those commercials were starting to make sense now. Callen had never really appreciated just what women went through to be beautiful. So why did he have to go through it all and end up looking ugly? He vowed to get revenge for Hetty’s cack-handedness, one way or another.

“At last.” Kensi was lounging against a wall outside the toilets when they finally emerged, both looking very shiny around the face. “I was beginning to think you’d never come out.”

Callen decided to ignore the quip about coming out. “You’ll get a bad reputation, loitering outside male restrooms, you know.”

“Do I look I’m bothered?” She leaned forward and studied Sam carefully. “I never knew you cared so much, Sam. You’re a really sensitive guy, aren’t you? Crying so much over Deeks your eyes are red.” She gave him a kiss on the cheek, before winding her arms lovingly around his waist and resting her head against his chest.

“Yeah, I’m really cut up,” Sam muttered, and squeezed her back, flashing a triumphant glance at Callen.

“Deeks is out of surgery. They say he’s doing fine and we can go see him in a while. But only two people at a time,” Kensi mumbled, finding her lip gloss was sticking to Sam’s t-shirt. Hopefully he wouldn’t notice.

Callen flashed her a winning smile and noticed she managed to find some eyeliner and lipstick from somewhere. Her hair still looked like she was channeling Eddie Van Halen from the 1980s though, and that was so not a good look. It hadn’t been good back in the 80s and it was even worse thirty years later. “You and Hetty go first,” he offered smoothly. With any luck, he and Sam could go get some pizza while the women cooed over the injured hero. His stomach was making all sorts of protesting noises, but that could be due to its relief at being released from those control panties.

“Thanks.” Kensi flashed him a quick smile, gave Sam another hug and then went off in search of Hetty.

“Creep.”

“Maybe you should get more in touch with your feminine side, Callen? You might have more success with the ladies.”

“Come on — that was pretty low, even for you, Sam. Pretending you’d been crying over Deeks.”

“Men don’t cry. You know that, I know that. But women love nothing better than thinking they’ve got a strong but sensitive man. Makes them feel all protective. Pays big dividends.” Sam rolled his eyes suggestively.

Callen mulled this over for a few seconds. “Point taken. But it was only Kensi, you know. That doesn’t count. It’s not like you got a real woman.”

“I heard that, G Callen.” Kensi appeared behind them, having lost her way. “We’re back to this whole “men, women and Kensi” thing, aren’t we?” She looked totally irate and, in an insane way, totally hot, Callen realized. Even if she wasn’t a real woman. She was just Kensi, and that was different. Although he had a sneaking suspicion Deeks didn’t think of her in that way. But then Deeks thought about nothing else except women for 99% of the time he was awake. Which wasn’t actually a bad thing, not altogether.

Here goes nothing, he though. “I’m just kind of upset about Deeks. Can’t stop thinking about him lying there… suffering. In pain.” He screwed up his face and tried to think of something really, really sad — like when he’d thought Leonardo Di Caprio wasn’t going to die in Titanic.

“Don’t patronize me.” Kensi turned on her heel and stalked off.

“What the hell happened there?”

Sam smirked. “You’ve either got it, or you haven’t. And you haven’t. Not even with Kensi.”

“I can still hear you!” Kensi bawled. Pigs, she thought. Sexist pigs. I’ll show them. Lots of men appreciate me. I’m a prime dame. They’re obviously intimidated by how hot I am. And the fact I can kick ass with the best of them. Better, actually. I’d like to see how they’d manage if they had to wear high heels and a bra, and to have to fight some creep when you’re doubling up with period pains. Men — they don’t know how easy they’ve got it. Not a clue.

She wandered around the hospital for some time, without a clue where she was going. Eventually, more by pure luck than anything else, she ran into Hetty, who was looking particularly boot-faced. Mind you, Hetty was rarely seen wreathed in smiles: she just didn’t have the sort of face that expressed radiant joy particularly well. Annoyance, impatience and barely veiled hostility were all second nature to Hetty, but not exuberant joie de vivre.

“At last. I was beginning to think you were lost.”

“Me – lost? Come on Hetty. Anyway, it’s not like I’m some macho guy who thinks it is beneath his dignity to ask for directions.” Oh God — maybe the guys were right? Maybe I’ve been working with them for so long all that testosterone is seeping into me and I’m becoming a man? I’m going shopping first thing tomorrow — and a Wonderbra is top of the list. That’ll show them who’s not feminine.

Hetty gave her an inscrutable smile that would have put the Sphinx to shame. “Let’s go and see Mr. Deeks, shall we?” And just make sure you control yourself, my dear. I’ve seen the way you look at him and I don’t want you taking advantage of him when he’s unconscious. I’ll have to make sure I don’t leave you alone with him.

*****

Luck Just Kissed You Hello

“Mr. Deeks? Are you decent?” Always one for propriety, Hetty knocked firmly on the door before entering. Deeks lay perfectly still in the bed, splendidly unconscious.

“Hey, Marty,” Kensi said softly and studied him carefully. “Someone’s taken off all his makeup,” she announced, and noticed how different he looked clean-shaven. Kind of… wholesome, she thought. Like some Mid-Western farm boy.

“And his hair’s back to normal.” There was a note of something that sounded suspiciously like regret in Hetty’s voice.

“I don’t think you can say Deeks has normal hair,” Kensi protested. “Good hair, yes — maybe even great — but normal? I don’t think so.” The way I want to run my fingers through it certainly isn’t normal, that’s for sure.

“Don’t split hairs, Ms. Blye,” Hetty said and bent over the bed for a closer look. In her haste to get to the hospital, she’d forgotten her glasses, so she had to bend over to get as close as possible, so that her nose was almost touching his. With his usual complete lack of timing, Deeks chose this moment to open his eyes groggily, only to be greeted by Hetty’s concerned face in extreme close-up.

“Holy shit!” He attempted to sit upright in a purely reflexive action, completely forgetting about his wound and promptly collapsed back onto the pillows in agony, but not before his forehead connected solidly with Hetty’s nose.

“Hell fire and damnation!” Hetty’s hands flew up to her face, just as Kensi pushed her roughly aside.

“What did you want to go and do that for, you idiot?”

Deeks was looking completely pole-axed, but that wasn’t exactly an unusual expression for him, so it didn’t necessarily indicate any incipient brain damage, she thought.

“I didn’t want to do it — it just kind of happened. And anyway, she scared me.” It was a toss-up as to which hurt more — his head or his side. “What the hell happened to your hair?”

Kensi found the pain relief button and pressed it several times in succession. “Nothing. It’ll be fine once I’ve washed it.”

“Oh. Okay.” Deeks savored the sweet sensation of morphine flooding through his body. It was almost as good as smoking a joint. “You’ve got nice hair, Kensi. Can I help you wash it?” He gave her a woozily charming grin.

“Mr. Deeks — remember you are just out of surgery.” Hetty advanced cautiously, having repaired the damage to her nose as best she could by stuffing a rolled up Kleenex into each nostril, leaving two thin, white tails of paper protruding.

“I had surgery?” He looked across at her and almost managed not to cringe in fright. What is she trying to do to me? It wasn’t enough that I got stabbed. Now she’s trying to scare me to death?

“You were wounded, remember?” Kensi coaxed, still reveling in the first compliment she’d received all day. At least Deeks didn’t think she was “just Kensi”. And he was stoned, which meant he had to be telling the truth.

“I was wounded?” He looked confused, but managed to combine this with looking insanely hot, Kensi thought. It probably had something to do with that amazing chest of his – all smooth and golden and just asking to be caressed. Not to mention his hair

“You were stabbed. In the stomach.”

“Oh.” He digested this for a minute and then let his hand drift down to the layer of bandages across his abdomen. “It doesn’t hurt.”

“It will,” she assured him.

“Were you wearing a green dress?” Bits and pieces were starting to come back to him now, but the morphine haze made it difficult to concentrate.

“Nope– but you were.”

“Oh my God.” It was all flooding back, in glorious technicolour. Deeks remembered everything — especially those hideously uncomfortable panties, the ones that seemed intent on strangulating him. He let his hand travel a bit further down, wanting to reassure himself that he’d suffered no lasting damage. What was a mere stab wound after all, when he might have ruined himself for life? “Sweet Jesus! I’ve died and I’m in hell.” His eyes grew huge with terror and he looked at Kensi beseechingly. “What the hell have they done to me?”

Acting instinctively, Kensi flung back the bedclothes, just as Sam and Callen ran into the room.

“Don’t look!” Kensi clapped her hand across Hetty’s eyes, much to her annoyance. What was it with her agents tonight? Did they think she’d never seen the male body, naked as God intended? And she had to admit that God had clearly had a very good day when He’d made Mr. Deeks. In fact, she would go so far as to say that He had been on the top of His form, no doubt about it.

“In the name of the wee man.” Callen felt his knees grown weak when he saw what Deeks was clutching.

“Oh my God,” Deeks moaned pathetically.

“Let go of the catheter, Deeks,” Sam said patiently, trying to unclasp his fingers.

“Catheter?” Deeks echoed feebly.

“Catheter,” Sam assured him, pulling the sheet back over him. “The rest looked just fine.”

“You’re sure about that?”

“You want me to check again?”

“Nope. I can manage.” Deeks lifted up the sheet and peered at himself cautiously. “Thank you, God. Thank you.” Deeks didn’t care about the fact the rest of the team had seen him stark, staring naked; bollocks naked not to put too fine a point on it. All he was bothered about was the fact that his penis wasn’t very long and very, very thin indeed.

Callen subsided gently to the floor and rocked back and forward in near hysterics.

“It’s not that funny,” Kensi protested, and pressed the pain button another couple of times.

“It is,” Sam assured her. Not that he didn’t have some sympathy for Deeks, but the look on his face had been priceless.

“It’s not funny,” Kensi repeated and looked at Deeks, who had wisely decided to retreat into unconsciousness. He looked rather sweet and innocent, she thought. And his hair looked amazing. So did the rest of him, come to that. And thank the good Lord that those panties hadn’t had a lasting effect. “Go on — now you’ve had a good laugh at his expense, you can go home.”

“Why would we go home?” Callen staggered up and held on to the end of the bed for support. “I reckons this calls for a beer. Sam?”

“I’m in. Hetty?”

“Why the hell not?” It might take away some of the pain in her nose.

“Kensi?”

Now they ask me. Now. Talk about bad timing. “No, I don’t think so,” she said slowly. “I think I’ll just stay here with Deeks for a while. Just in case he wakes up again.”

“Whatever.” Sam waited until they were outside and the door was safely shut behind them before turning to Callen. “Deeks has done it again, hasn’t he? Even when he’s unconscious, he still manages to pull.”

“It’s only Kensi,” Callen reminded him. “So it doesn’t really count.”

“I know. Still… How the hell does he do it?”

“Do you want me to spell it out for you, boys? Or maybe I should draw you a diagram? An anatomically correct diagram?” Hetty had got a very good look at Deeks in his full glory; in fact, the image was engraved on her mind. It had quite made her day. “Come on — let’s go and get that drink. And I’m buying.”

Callen looked at Sam. “All bets are off. Neither of us is going to pull tonight. Not with Hetty around.”

“Chicken.” He flapped his arms a couple of times. “Just ask yourself this – WWDD?”

“WTF?”

What Would Deeks Do, of course.”

“Oh.” Callen thought about it for a couple of minutes. “He’d pull. No doubt about it. Maybe we’ll get lucky and Hetty will pull too?” After what had gone on tonight, nothing would surprise him.

“Yeah, right.” Not with that toilet tissue hanging out of her nose, that was for certain. Sam still hadn’t decided if he should remind her about that or not.

“I heard that.” Hetty glared at them.

When the voices finally disappeared from the corridor, Deeks slowly opened one eye. “Is it safe?”

“Perfectly safe.” Kensi perched on the side of the bed and let the fingers of her hand run slowly over the smooth, tanned, golden skin of his chest.

“Do you think they guessed?”

“Not a chance. They only see what they want to see.” Kensi dipped her head and kissed him passionately on the lips before letting her hand slip under the covers where more bare flesh lay just craving her touch.

“Bloody hell!” Callen dropped lightly down from Sam’s shoulders, where he’d been peering through the glass panel above the door. “Deeks has done it again.”

“Done what?”

“Pulled, of course.”

“But there’s only Kensi in there.” Sam looked dumbstruck. “He’s pulled Kensi?”

The door suddenly opened. “No — I’ve pulled Deeks. And before you say anything — it does so count.”

“Do come along.” Hetty clapped her hands impatiently. “Lady Gaga is waiting.”

“We’ve got to find out how Deeks does it,” Callen murmured.

“It’s the hair,” Hetty said wisely. “And the bod from God.” She shimmied gaily down the corridor, singing a snatch of Born This Way.

“It’s going to be a long night,” Sam moaned.

Kensi looked longingly back into the room. “Oh, I do hope so.”

***End***

A/N:  The chapter headings are from Boys Keep Swinging, by David Bowie (but you knew that, didn’t you?)

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