He had talked long into the night with Hetty and about how Reinhardt, 'Uncle Carlos' had spent one of the best days of his childhood with him. She had enjoyed hearing about the trip, but had eventually retired at one am, and had suggested that he go to bed soon.
Moreover, he had slept well that night, dreams of Maria and Cousin Carlos' trip filled his mind.
He woke up with a smile as he walked down the stairs and stopped as he heard voices in Hetty's kitchen.
"Are you sure he's alright, he isn't at his house and his cell phone is switched off, I'm worried Hetty." Sam's voice came floating to him.
"I can assure you Mr. Callen is fine, He's looking through evidence in the Reinhardt case." She replied.
"But he's never been out of touch like this except for when he went after the Comescus. I mean how do we know we got them all or what if he's found something and he's gone searching for his father alone, you know what sort of trouble he can get into. He needs someone to watch his back."
"And this is why you found it necessary to invade my home at this early hour of the morning?" Hetty asked having heard her loose floorboard and knowing that Callen was listening.
"He's my partner Hetty, my family, he's been through so much…I am worried, what if something has happened to him?" he snapped.
Callen stood outside the door and debated on going in and talking to Sam, he looked down at the book in his arms, 1988 – 1991. College years, these were safe, he had left the system at that point. Nevertheless, how would Sam react to the fact that there were other books out there? He was not sure…
"Then I would assume that you'd be there to save my ass as usual." Callen said walking into the room.
He put the book down and grabbed a mug of coffee that Hetty placed on the counter with a few slices of toast, "Eat Mr. Callen." She ordered.
He drank the coffee and looked at the toast, mentally wishing it would turn into a breakfast burrito.
Sam smiled at the look on his partners face.
"You didn't call." Sam said looking at the book next to the plate of toast.
Callen moved the book closer to him, "I've been busy."
Sam sighed and drank his own coffee as Hetty gave a small nod and walked out of the room.
"Need some help?" Sam asked, he did not want to upset Callen, but for him to not be at work for a few days, something was up with him.
"I was reading." Callen said and threw the toast in the trash, he was not looking forward to reading more, and he had just lost his appetite.
"G…?" Sam stood in his way.
"I'm fine Sam; you've seen me now go back to work." Callen moved the book out of Sam's eye line.
Sam did not move, "G…man, you look like Hell, what's in those books?"
"Evidence." Callen sighed he was not going to lie to his partner.
"So why do you have to be the one to go over it, are there more books?" Sam asked.
Callen nodded, "there are and I'll read them and write a report."
"What's in them G, I'll help and we can get you back on…" Sam reached for a book while talking and Callen dropped the one he was holding.
"NO!" He snatched the book back from Sam, "No…" he reiterated calmer. "I can do this."
Sam stepped back, "G…what's in the books?"
Callen sighed, they were evidence and he knew he could not keep it from his partner. "My life, all of my life Sam, from when my mom was shot…right up to…" He looked at the book, "Well this one is 1988-1991."
"Hetty shouldn't have let you read these…they should have been processed for evidence."
Callen moved a half step back, "I needed to read them, and I needed to know if he knew…"
"Is your name in there?" Sam asked stepping back himself, giving Callen the space he was craving.
Callen shook his head, "No…he didn't know," He put the book he was holding down and turned to make himself another coffee, "I don't want everyone reading them Sam, there's stuff in there…bad stuff…from when I was a kid, it's not relevant to the investigation, it's just relevant to me. I didn't want anyone from the team reading them." He handed Sam a mug of coffee, as a kind of peace offering.
Sam nodded in thanks. "You should let someone see them, just in case you miss something."
Callen knew Sam's words were right, but he shook his head, "I'll share with you…most of them…Some…they can't be read, not by anyone."
"But G…what if…"
"No!" Callen stood firm, "If you wanna help, then you can read…" he looked through the pile, he found a safe year, "This one…" he handed 1994- 1999 over to Sam.
Sam put the book down, "Maybe I should go over the one's you've already read, just in case."
Callen sighed, Sam was stubborn. "Fine." He snapped and walked over to the read pile of book he'd left in Hetty's day room he picked up the first one, there wasn't anything too bad in that one.
"Ok this is the first book." Callen flipped the book to him.
Sam looked at the pile Callen had read, "Which one don't you want me to read." He asked.
Callen looked at the books and shrugged. He picked up the 1984/85 book. "Any of those are fine," he said absently twirling the other book in his hand, "I'll take this one."
Sam smiled, G could convince anyone of anything, but there was no way Sam bet that Callen had read those books out of order.
"You've read that one G." he said.
Callen shook his head, "Haven't." he lied not looking at Sam.
"G!" Sam exclaimed as he tried to take the book, "You need to let me read it…Let me in, I won't betray you, I won't talk about the book, if there is nothing in there that pertains to the case I'll leave it, I'll say nothing and forget I saw it." He promised.
Callen backed up…he wanted to argue, he wanted to take the book and burn it…he wanted to wish he had never read it. Then he looked up and saw Hetty watching from the door.
She had called Sam and asked him to come over he had been set up.
His shoulders sagged and he looked at Sam in defeat. "When did she call?" he asked slumping into the wing-backed chair he had spent the last few days in.
Sam chuckled knowing that eventually Callen would have seen through their ruse.
"She called me in her office yesterday morning, she is worried about you, we all are." He added.
"I'm fine." Callen replied as Hetty closed the door and left for the day, "Really Sam…" his voice sounded hollow to his own ears.
"You need help G, Hetty's right, you shouldn't be doing this alone, let me have your back." He reached for the book.
Wordlessly Callen nodded and handed it over to Sam to read, "Don't judge me on this Sam…please…"
Sam took the book and walked over to another chair in the same room.
"You gonna read your next book while I do this?" Sam asked.
"Yeah…?" Callen said sounding unconvincing.
Sam put the book down, "Ok you wanna talk me through what's in this or do you wanna let me just read it?"
"Just read it." Callen snapped, forgetting the book he was going to read he walked away leaving Sam to his task.
Sam read the diary, occasionally he looked up to see Callen pacing the garden outside the room he was in. he had a hard time reading some of it, he wiped his eyes reading some of the abuse his friend had been through.
Eventually he put the book down and walked out to the walled garden that Callen was pacing.
"G?" Sam said and watched as Callen jumped. He was surprised, Callen usually knew when someone was near him; he had worrying as no one ever got the drop on his partner.
"Sam." Callen turned and sized his partner up, mentally bracing himself for the onslaught of…'How could you let him do that to you?' or 'Why didn't you stop him?' and the rest of the questions he'd been asked after people found out about that part of his life.
Sam took a step towards Callen who reflexively took a step back.
He opened his hands palms up, a gesture of appeasement. "G…You are right there was nothing in there that would help in the investigation," he said his voice and body showing a calmness he did not feel.
Callen stopped as his knees hit the wall to Hetty's herb garden. He could not look his friend in the eye.
"I wanted to find out about my father….about me…but I never thought…" he trailed off waiting for Sam to say something…anything, to let him know how he felt.
Finally the pressure got too much for him. "Say something!" he snapped looking over at Sam.
Sam sat on the other wall of the garden; he didn't know what he could say. "G…" he started, he grabbed G's hand. "Callen… Stop!"
Callen looked up at the anger in Sam's face and pulled his hand away from Sam's grip, "I'll talk to Hetty about getting you another partner in the morning. You won't want to work with me anymore… now you know I'm damaged…I'm…" he stopped as Sam interrupted.
"It wasn't your fault G, you were a kid and you were betrayed by people who should have protected you."
"No…don't go there G, Reinhardt should have pulled you out of there, he should have told you who he was…if he couldn't raise you he should have found someone who could…" Sam said.
"Hetty asked you to read these didn't she?" Callen asked.
Sam nodded, "That book in particular, she said that you needed to talk to someone."
"Dammit Sam, I already talked to someone!" Callen snapped.
"But this case has…"
"Yeah…This case has dragged it all up again, the wounds are as fresh as they were then," Callen stopped and scratched his arm, "Dammit…even the need to use is back…"
Sam looked up in shock, "You're not gonna are ya?" he asked.
Callen shook his head, "No…no I'm not…but damn him…why write these books Sam? Why leave it here for anyone to find?"
"I don't think they were intended for anyone G, They were intended to go to your father…"
Callen sighed, "But I checked his address books, there's not even a name or address to send them to."
Sam moved closer to Callen and smiled as his partner relaxed again.
"Maybe they were for you to find." Sam suggested.
"He knew where I was, he could have given them to me…I could have talked to him, asked about my father." Callen stood up and walked back into the house.
Sam followed picking up the book as he walked past it and dropping it next to Callen on the small side table by the chair he'd sunk into.
"Maybe it was Reinhardt's way of letting you know you are more than your past, that you were never alone…"
"I felt alone." Callen's voice was uncharacteristically soft.
Sam smiled, "But you weren't…he was there then, but he's gone now…and you're still not alone, Deeks found that roll of film with your father on…he handed it to you rather than evidence…Hetty and the rest of us will be here for you as well."
He sank into the chair facing Callen and looked him in the eyes, "You can move past this, there is more for you. I don't know if your father is still alive, I hope he is and maybe one day he can read most of these. Maybe you'll be sitting together here, and you'll be able to ask him all the questions you are asking me."
"Maybe." Callen sighed. "It just hurts, he was so close, and I know he helped me, but he could have gotten me out of the system, Hetty could have, I could have found a family…but I didn't why Sam, Why do I have to be the one to not get fostered. She took on Hunter and Stevens and Sullivan…but not me…"
Sam held onto the book and looked Callen in the eye, "Who knows with Hetty, but maybe she was, like Reinhardt, holding out hope that your father would come for you one day."
"I'm fed up of hoping." Callen admitted.
Sam smiled, "Ok," he picked up the last few books and they shared them out amongst them, "You want College and the CIA…or DEA and NCIS?" he asked.
Callen laughed knowing his friend was trying to make him feel better, "Whichever…" he took the DEA pile of books and they started to read.
After an hour or so of Sam and Callen reading and taking any notes that would help them, Callen stopped and closed his book.
"Thanks Sam." He said simply.
Sam nodded he said nothing and he needed no words.
Callen knew that for the rest of this journey down memory lane, Sam and the team had his back…and if he ever met his father, Sam would be there on his six to help him through that too.
He smiled for a second, he wondered if Reinhardt was watching over him still, maybe he'd be happy to see that even though he hurt from reading and reliving his past, he hoped somehow somewhere Reinhardt knew he was grateful to the old man for watching out for him and for giving his life to protect him and his father.
"Thanks." Callen breathed quietly.
Sam looked up from his book, "You say something?" he asked.
Callen shook his head, "Nope." He walked to the window halfway there dropped the book he'd just finished into the box with the others. He closed the window and looked into the sky with a smile.
No matter what things were going to be ok and maybe one day he could share this with his father.
It was…as always, another piece in the puzzle that was G. Callen's life.