Chapter 8

If someone were to have have taken a picture at that moment of realization hit all 3 it would have been be hilarious.

Lily stood there like a statue rooted to the wooden floor. She knew her son was in law enforcement and she worried every day about his safety.

She had broken the contact she had had with her son to protect him from his Father. So it never come up that she shared this nice little place with her foster brother the one and only G. Callen.

But Marty didn't know that Gordon John Brandel staged his car accident. To be left alone from the law he had lived under a different name Richard Newman, having plastic surgery he changed his look so nobody could ever identify him.

Well that's not that right, Lilly had known all the time.

Now she was on the run because she knew too much. That was why she had ended up in the cabin.

Marty and G stared at each other for the longest time were both of them thought about their shared past.

Both of them felt at ease for a moment before the reality came back. Well for G. it eased back, Marty instead, felt almost crushed.

But he felt some of his peace came back to him . A warmth he thought was lost a tiny bit of hope for himself even.

That evening they cooked on the big range cook what Ma had prepared and sent up with the boys, sharing it out between them and Lilly.

The kitchen was simple functional and it had a nostalgic flare.

They enjoyed their meal and Marty and G shared some stories about them working together.

G made sure they were always good natured and light and funny.

Marty didn't need the hard stuff right now, neither did Lilly. They all noticed that everyone avoided any explanation to why they were all up here.

Deeks was stunned, this was Dodger, Callen was the dodger who had popped up at various times in his life and had always been the source of his happy memories, until he had last seen him aged seven.

Lilly watched as the two most important people in her life came together. "I can't believe it?" Callen said looking at Deeks in a whole new light.

Deeks smirked, "You know for years…." he trailed off and looked embarrassed.

"Marty?" Lilly asked looking at her son.

Deeks looked abashed, "I always thought, that Dodger was my Father, I overheard you once and I really wished he was."

"Oh baby…" Lilly moved closer to her son but he moved away, "I need to talk to Callen alone mom, can I?"

Lilly looked over at Callen who nodded and noticing that Deeks wasn't looking at them he mouthed. 'Tell you later.' and she nodded and left the room for a while, taking the opportunity to go and use the shower the cabin had to freshen up.

Callen watched Deeks as he stared out of the window caught in some internal dialogue.

He hadn't asked permission to talk to someone since he was five and the memory of that time came flooding back.

He remembered when he was five, it was Christmas, his father had gone away to Vegas with a girl and taken all the housekeeping with him, backhanding his mother on the way out of the door.

He had hidden under the bed as his father had left.

"I don't care Lilly, I don't have to feed you or the brat! I am going to spend Christmas in Las Vegas with Shelly, she doesn't whine about wanting stuff all the time, its my holiday and I'm going! So give me the money!" he yelled.

"I need it, it's for Martin's christmas present, and for food and the bills…" Lilly started, her words cut of as he backhanded her around the face.

"They can cut us off, I'll pay them when I get back, or you can go out and be the Hoe I know you are and earn it on ya back!" he snarled, he pulled the $200 out of her hand and pushed her down onto the floor. "Drop the brat off at a shelter or something for food, I don't care what ya do, I'm not even sure it's mine anyway, I still think he looks too much like that Callen brat."

Lilly burst into tears, "Martin is your son, no one ever touched me but you!" she cried.

"Yeah and I just got your word for that."

"CALLEN WAS NINE! I AM NOT THAT SICK!" She screamed in his face.

Gordon turned back with a slight leer in the doorway, "Yeah?" He sneered, "But he was cute…." He slammed the door leaving Lilly confused, upset and sick to her stomach on the floor wiping the blood with the back of her hand from her split lip.

Lilly got up cried for a few minutes and looked around her house, it was December 23rd. There were no decorations and the cupboards were bare, even the TV was gone, Gordon having sold it for money for his trip to Vegas.

She sank to her knees and sighed, "What am I going to do?"

Waiting for a moment to get herself together she sat up and shook her head.

Getting up she walked to the bathroom, washed her face and took the small box of medical supplies she kept in there and treated her bruises applying just the right amount of makeup to hide them.

She checked her hair and then she turned off the light and closed the door. Walking along the hallway she went into her son's room.

As expected his bed was empty and she crouched down and lifted the comforter.

"Martin….baby, it's ok….he's gone." she whispered.

"Really momma?" he asked with a small sniffle.

She smiled sadly she hated that he had to listen to this and that she couldn't just leave, but she knew he would track her down and take her son from her just to break her, and she had been with him since she was fourteen and at nineteen years old she had nowhere to go.

No money, no social security number, (Gordon having taken and burned it insisting that he owned her) and no family.

"Really, now how about I take you to town to see Santa?" she offered. She knew there was no chance of him getting a present but she wanted him to still have that little bit of hope, maybe she could find something with the fifteen dollars she had left in her sock hidden under the mattress.

"Comb your hair and put your nice jacket on, you want to look nice for Santa don't you?" she smiled as he grinned and ran to the bathroom to wash his face and comb his hair.

Two hours later they were standing outside the department store.

Martin had his face plastered up against the window with a huge gap filled grin as he looked at the array of toys in the window.

"Momma?" he asked as he looked up his eyes full of wonder, "Do you think Santa will bring me a Transformer...Ray's asking for one to so we can play together."

"I know Santa has a lot of toys to deliver, but I am sure he will try his best." she said, she looked sadly at the price tag, it was nearly all of her money, but hopefully she could find a cheaper version at the dime store.

She found the $2 entry fee for him to see Santa and they stood in line with all the other children, some of the other mothers shooting sad looks at Lilly and her son having seen their threadbare clothing and the bruises on Martin's torso as he lifted his arms for his mother to pick him up.

Lilly watched as the child ahead of them went to Santa and started rattling off a huge list of things he wanted as an 'elf' stood next to his mother, "If you could get everything I would be so grateful, charge it to me please." she handed over a credit card and the elf nodded and moved over with the little boy who had his photo taken with Santa. "The photo is $5." the elf said. The mother nodded "I'll take four." she smiled.

Martin waited until it was his turn, "Can I go now?" he asked as the kid got off Santa's lap and went over to his mother.

The next elf took over, looked at Martin's outfit and smiled at him, "Hey sweetie do you have your ticket?" he asked.

Lilly handed the ticket to the elf, "Aww that's sweet you taking your little brother to see Santa." The elf said.

Martin looked up as the elf moved the rope so he could go in, "Off you go." she smiled as Lilly shot her a look of annoyance.

Martin walked up the steps to the large man in the suit and shook slightly, he knew Santa was nice, but he was after all a man.

Santa smiled at the small boy who like most children his age was a bit scared of him. The boy looked over at the young girl with him looking for reassurance. He frowned for a second as he spotted a large bruise on the back of the small boy's neck in the shape of a handprint and looked at the girl, she seemed to be sporting a few bruises of her own.

"Hello there….Martin," he said as the elf whispered in his ear.

Martin looked shocked, " know my name?" he breathed.

Santa smiled, "I know all the names of all the children in the world." he laughed, "So tell me have you been a good little boy?"

Martin looked worried but Lilly nodded.

"Yessir." he said quickly.

"Have you been good in school?" Santa asked.

Martin looked confused, "I don't go to school." he replied, "I will soon." he grinned, "And I'll be good Santa I promise!"

"So what do you want for Christmas?" he asked.

Martin screwed up his face thinking, he shot a look at the Transformer toy on its display stand with all the little boys looking at it. Then he looked at his mother.

"Can I have a day without daddy, so momma won't be sad?" he asked.

Lilly sniffed and smiled apologetically at Santa.

"I will try my best, do you and your sister want anything?" he asked.

"I don't have a sister," He looked at Lilly, "momma?" he asked.

Lilly looked embarrassed as Martin climbed off of Santa.

"Do you want his photo taken?" The elf asked.

"No." Lilly mumbled and pulled Martin out of the store.

"Did I do something wrong momma?" he asked.

Lilly held him tight, holding her tears in, "No baby, you didn't what you asked Santa for was lovely."

She looked back in the window and saw the Santa pointing to her and talking to the woman who was dressed as an elf. She hurried away fearful that they were calling the police.

They walked through the crowds and headed to the open air christmas market.

Lilly took another look behind her and took two steps and knocked into a kid.

"I'm sorry….Dodger?" she said looking at the bruised kid in front of her.

"Lilly?" Callen asked, he'd only stepped out of the alleyway a second ago hoping to pick a pocket for some food.

"You ok?" He asked.

Lilly nodded, "Sure you wanna talk a walk, I'm gonna let Martin play on the beach for a while." she said as he ran a few steps in front of her staying close but trying to be big.

"Sure." he walked with her as Martin pretended to be an airplane and fly in front of them.

"Not too far!" Lilly called as he ran away from the crowds towards the sand.

"What's wrong Lilly?" Callen asked.

Lilly turned her head away from the fourteen year old, "Nothing Dodger," she mumbled. "What happened to you?" she asked looking at the bruises he was sporting.

Calle shrugged, "Same ole same ole." he replied, "Usual stuff, me being alive, so where is he?"

Lilly knew that the 'he' he was referring to was Gordon.

"He's gone to Las Vegas with his girlfriend. He took the $200 and left."

"So you left him?" Callen asked with a modicom of hope.

Lilly laughed, "Where would I go?" she looked over and smiled as Martin made 'snow' angels in the sand.

"Well you'll have a good christmas just the two of you." Callen sighed.

Lilly looked at him again and noticed he had his bags with him.

"You ran away again?" she asked.

Callen shrugged, "Yeah, I'm gonna sleep under the pier."

Lilly moved and wrapped an arm around his shoulder wincing slightly as he flinched, "No you're not, you will stay with us, we have no food, and no presents or tree but we have each other."

Callen smiled, "I wouldn't say that." he grinned pulling out a wad of bills, "Courtesy of Mr. Oliver, lifted his wallet before I left,"

"Dodger!" Lilly gasped shocked.

Callen smiled, "What does Martin want for Christmas?" he asked.

"What does every kid want this year?" Lilly sighed.

Callen laughed, "Got it, and you?"

Lilly shook her head, "I'll stay with Martin and you can go and then meet me here in an hour, then we'll get some food, it won't be a huge meal but something ok?"

Callen hugged her, "You're the best Lil!" he laughed and ran off to the toy store that was down the street leaving his bags with her.

He came back with four full bags and a huge grin, "This is fun Lil, you should try it!"

"You know you're a sap." Lilly laughed, "I'm gonna take these and go get some food why don't you and Martin start heading for home, I'll see you in a few hours."

Callen rolled his eyes, "Geeze make me babysit the kid already, ok 'Mom'."

Lilly laughed, "And don't you forget." She stood up and headed to the store to buy food for the next few days grateful that Callen had saved Christmas for them.

The next morning Callen was woken by a five-year-old Martin jumping on him, "Wake up Dodger...Santa's been!" he yelled with huge gap toothed smile. "Wake up! Momma's making pancakes!"

He smiled as Lilly brought in a coffee for him, "Here sleepy head." she said and handed him the drink.

"Thanks mom." Callen sighed as he sipped the hot drink.

They watched as Marty whooped and hollered in delight as he opened the presents that Santa brought him, a train set, an Optimus Prime Transformer toy, story books and a coloring set.

Lilly put the breakfast down and the boys tucked in heartily.

Martin took his milk in both hands and drank it down smiling with a 'milk mustache', "Momma Santa did come, I am a good boy!" he grinned bits of pancake showing through his gap.

Despite the lack of manners Lilly couldn't be annoyed with her son, he was finally having the Christmas he deserved.

Marty watched as his momma and her friend cleared the table and he got his coloring book and started coloring a picture being really careful with each color.

Deeks turned back to Callen, "You know that was the best Christmas I ever had, thanks to you." he finished.

"Best one I had too." Callen admitted.

"You know?" Deeks said laying back his head on the couch studying the flames flickering in the fireplace, "All of my best memories as a child seem to involve you somehow…" the wistful note in his voice was not missed by Callen.

He smiled, "You know some of my best involve you too." he replied.

They talked late into the night Lilly having rejoined them and adding some anecdotes of her own and as the fire died down and both men began to tire Deeks turned to Callen.

He had been a positive influence in his life, his whole life...and he had never known, if anyone could listen and not judge him it would be Callen.

As it grew dark outside the lit some oil lanterns up and made a fire in the huge fireplace. Both man brought timber logs in and laid them in the wood basket.

As the cabin warmed up and the lantern provided indirect light Lilly announced. "'s getting late, I need to go to bed."

G went into the bedroom and made her bed ready while Marty and Lilly said their good-nights.

As G came back the boys made their bed near the fireplace. Both laying there in the looming light of the fireplace and were lost in the past both their shared one and what they had accomplished so far.

Both of them had struggled in their earlier years of life and both had overcome difficulties thrown in there way.

Both men had chosen to be strong.

Neither realizing that they were this similar. Maybe not in their behaviour or by character but for the ones who choose to look beyond their masks it was quite clear, Hetty was one of those and she damn well knew her Agents.

Monty was curled down be his feet and Marty was now drifting to sleep as he was beyond the level of exhaustion.

He tried to stay awake for much longer there was still thoughts running through his mind, however, he was losing this fight.

The short sleep or rather nap he had had in the morning with the nightmares, well can you even call them that? Had revealed every second of losing his soul and becoming what he hated the most in the world and that scared him shitless.

So many things that Marty was afraid of revealing these days and he was scared to disturb the others. The pain of keeping it all inside was physically hurting him and he was nearing to point where he felt his head would implode.

G had showed him that he cared about him and that he thought of him as a friend, he even shared his most heartfelt secrets with him!

G watched as Marty eventually settled down to sleep, he stoked the fire and looked anxious as the emotions Marty was keeping to himself played out across his face. Finally he hit a period of deeper sleep and Callen settled down himself, near enough to be close if needed, but far enough away to give Marty the privacy he needed.

In the middle of the night Marty let out a scream that would have shattered some bones and hearts if G haven't put a piece of blanket into his mouth.

"Shhh….Marty….you're ok, you are safe, but you need to stop screaming, you'll wake your mother." he said holding Marty tight and rocking him, rubbing his hand up and down the other man's back trying to comfort him like he had done when Marty was a child.

Finally he stopped screaming and focused on G's voice. Marty opened his eyes and Callen saw the ultimate terror in it.

"Marty, we need to talk…" Callen said and smiled with relief as Marty nodded.