"Is that you, Kens?"
She turns towards him. "Is what me?"
"There's something touching my leg, just above the sock."
"Yes, Deeks, it's me." She rolls her eyes. "I took my protective boots off to play footsie with you."
"You couldn't have just humoured me? Now I know it's a tarantula that's going to climb up the inside of my jeans leg--"
"And that's a problem? It's not as if there's anything important up there for it to munch on."
"Your bedside manner really sucks."
"Fine. I'll waste some of the phone battery." She shakes her head and reaches out, really hoping to grab his thigh closer to his knee than hip. When he doesn't make an off-colour comment, she runs her hand down, stopping halfway down his calf. Shifting to her knees, she pulls her phone from her pocket and turns it on. The low light from the screen will have to do, the case is cracked and she can't get the flashlight app to work. It's still in better working order than Deeks', which is buried somewhere in that direction...well at least she thinks it's that direction. Not exactly any landmarks in here.
Carefully pulling up his pants leg, she relaxes as she sees a large piece of building insulation caught under his ankle.
"Do I want to know what it is?"
"Don't worry. I'll save you." She lifts his foot and pulls the insulation out, discarding it over her shoulder. "The big bad spider's gone now."
She pats his leg before holding the phone up to have another look around their little slice of heaven. She really needs a flashlight to make a useful inspection, but they were also casualties of the building collapse. Not that she thinks they'd have a hope of showing them a way out. The place is too unstable to risk shifting any of the debris.
"Stop teasing the injured man." Deeks coughs and she feels the wince travel the length of his body.
"You make such a big thing out of a few little bruises." She's keeping the mood light, but he's worrying her. When the world blew out from around them, he'd landed on top of her and taken the brunt of the building material falling on them. She's sure he's got a broken collar bone and at least a couple of ribs, but it's not knowing the extent of the internal injuries that's the big concern. Not that they can do anything about it, so maybe it's better to be in the dark. In more ways than one.
Her own body aches, Deeks may be lean but he hit her with some force, and there's a bleeding cut at her hairline. Other than that, she's fine. Nothing a hot bubble bath and some rocky road wouldn't cure. She is, however, antsy and annoyed that there's nothing she can do but sit here and wait for their team to dig them out.
She settles back down next to where he's propped up against a massive beam and uses the phone to inspect his face.
"I'm okay," he says, pasting on one of his patented grins.
"Just checking you hadn't fainted on me." She turns the phone off. Even in that level of light, she could see the pain in his expression and his pallor confirms that her worry is warranted.
He nudges her arm with his hand. "And here I was thinking you'd much prefer me unconscious and mute."
"Don't read too much into it," she says. "You need to be of some use when they reach us. Not letting you slack off."
"You're such a--" She can hear him smacking his lips together, trying to moisten his mouth. "Slave-driver."
"Yeah, well, if I left you to your own devices, you'd be curled up with Monty somewhere." Which sounds incredibly inviting right now. Curling up with Monty that is.
"I obviously need to make him watch a Lassie rerun marathon. Then he could come and rescue us."
She laughs. "With his bad knees and PTSD?"
"He could at least point Callen and Sam in the right direction."
They drift in and out of random conversations for the next she really has no idea how long.
After another lull, he says, "Um, Kens, how much battery do you think's left on that phone?"
"You scared of the dark?" she teases. When he doesn't answer, she reaches out and grasps his hand. She can feel a tremor and thinks it's because of the injuries until he speaks again.
"Just turn it on for a minute." He can't hide the note of anxiety in his voice.
"Okay." Once it's on, she holds it up at head height and squeezes his hand. She doesn't look directly at him, giving him time to compose himself. She feels him slowly relax.
"Thanks," he says eventually. "You can turn it off now. It's not the dark--"
She meets his eyes now. "I'll leave it a few more minutes. And you don't have to explain."
"It's not the dark as such. It's too long in a dark confined space." He swallows, glances around their surroundings and then forces his gaze back to meet hers. "I was about six. My mom was away for a few days helping her sister and my father just couldn't deal with me. He locked me in the hall closet for a couple of hours."
She blinks away tears as she rubs her thumb over his wrist. She's known for a while about the physical abuse he'd faced growing up, but she hadn't thought about the mental and emotional. Her emotional scars pale in comparison. "I'm so sorry, Deeks."
"I haven't had a reaction like this in years." He shakes his head, the embarrassment obvious in his voice.
"This isn't exactly an everyday situation." She bites her lip before continuing. "You're a good, amazingly strong person. Don't ever doubt that. You're scared, anyone in their right mind would be, and you've got more reason than most."
"No-one's every accused me of being in my right mind," she replies with a smile. "I've been caving, so I'm okay in small dark places. Worms on the other hand..."
"Worms?" He raises his eyebrows. "Cute little earthworms?"
"You know how after heavy rain, there's all those worm bodies over the pavements?" She can't help but shudder just picturing it. "I can't even look at them."
Deeks laughs, followed up by a short coughing fit. "I would never have imagined worms to be your kryptonite."
She squeezes his hand a little harder than necessary. "Don't even think about using it against me."
"I'd never do that." He holds up his free hand in the scout's honour sign.
She knows she's going to end up regretting it, but it was worth spilling her most illogical fear to get his mind off their current predicament. "Is it okay for me to turn this off now?"
"Yeah. And Kens," he laces his fingers with hers, "thank you."
Turning the phone off before she can tear up again, she tries to brush it off. "Nothing to thank me for. Haven't managed to get us out of here yet."
And if Sam and Callen don't find them soon, her greatest fear, that's already nibbling at the edge of her thoughts, might become all too real.