In Case of Emergency Break Glass
Disclaimer: I don't have the rights to NCIS:LA and its characters or a Challenger or a small ninja-esque boss.
A/N: This is just a little team fic (I could've split it into chapters, but I thought that'd be mean considering they'd each be a bit short) that wasn't planned and kind of wrote itself. Thankfully it wrote itself with a coherent plot and snappy dialogue.
"Look what we have here." The wooden panel gave a protesting squeak as it was pushed to the side.
"Panic room." A 'humph' bounced off the steel door. "He's definitely not just a computer repairman at the mall."
His partner's mouth slammed open, a verbal warning close on its heels, but it was too late. Fire ripped through his side and he felt himself falling. A hand on the back of his jacket yanked him backwards and he crashed to the floor. A metallic thunk careened off the walls and through his head.
"It's going to be okay, we'll be safe here" were the last words he heard before his eyes rolled back in his head.
"That lady just snarled at me when I told her I have naturally glossy hair." Kensi scowled as she pushed the shampoo bottles in line with the edge of the shelf.
Nell smirked, "You are supposed to be selling products, not telling people to live with the genetics they have."
Kensi snorted, "Have you seen some of these ingredients? Oat flour? Wheat germ oil? Kelp? Do we put it on our hair or eat it? And then there are the chemical compounds that I'm sure I saw on the last bomb residue analysis I read."
"Are you sure you're okay?" Nell raised her eyebrows. "You seem a bit cranky."
Kensi crossed her arms. "Somehow Deeks found out that the manager threatened to fire me because of a complaint. He thought it was hilarious." She huffed. "I just want to know how long we have to pretend to be 'beauty experts' to keep an eye on this guy." Her eyes flashed across the mall hallway to the shop across from them. Their target was hunched over his work table, piecing a computer back together. They had reason to believe that he was paid to cover the tracks of criminal organizations. The problem was, there was a price on his head and he was less useful to them if he was dead. Their assignment was a combination of protection and intel gathering. "I'd like to see Deeks try and do this job."
Nell ran her fingers across a rack of nail polish, "I don't know, Sven might be pretty good at it."
"I think he was going to offer, but Sam glared at him before he could get a word out." Kensi rolled her eyes. "He probably wishes he could be here right now."
His hearing was the first thing to come back. A thumping reverberated through his ears, and he tried to block it out. Finally, it died out but it was quickly replaced by a dull roar. He pressed his eyes shut tighter. He took a breath only to have pain rake across his side. His eyes shot open to find a mop of blond hair in front of his face.
"What...?" He gasped.
"Good, you're awake." Deeks voice sounded mumbled.
"You sure about that?" Granger looked around the room, if you could call it that. He took in the low lighting and the dark walls. There was a cabinet in the corner and a cot across from it. He realized that there was a pillow under his head, keeping it off the floor.
"Well, unless we both died together and we're the only two people in hell, then yes, I'm sure you're awake."
Granger pushed his head up to see what was hurting so bad. "For the love of flying monkeys, I've been shot again, haven't I?"
Deeks' hands paused and he turned his head. "Flying monkeys?" His eyebrows began to rise.
"No, I do not have some deep love of the Wizard of Oz." He went to say more but a spasm made him grimace instead.
"Don't move." Deeks shifted back to where he was before and his forehead pulled together as he frowned.
Granger gave up trying to see what was going on and dropped his head back onto the pillow. He grunted through the pain and tried to focus on something other than the fact that an LAPD detective with a history of goofing off during training sessions was probing around his abdomen. "Do you even know first-aid?"
"Not the first time I've pulled a projectile out of someone." Deeks was back to mumbling.
"Please tell me you're not making that up in some twisted plan to make me trust you."
"It wasn't a bullet, but it was a pellet that Ray took in the leg. If his dad had known we were messing around with his pellet gun he would've shot us both with a real one." He paused as his hands raced. "There, it's out."
Granger heard a clink as it hit the ground. He watched as Deeks pushed a piece of guaze onto the wound and taped it down.
"That should hold for a while. We should keep an eye on it though."
"Did you really just pull a bullet out of me?" Granger tried to force his sluggish brain to catch up.
"It wasn't in deep, I think it ricocheted off of the monitor before blasting its way into your side. Seems like just some soft-tissue damage."
"Where are we?"
Deeks sat back and looked around. "It's a panic room, a very well stocked and somewhat scarily supplied panic room. No kidding, I found everything I needed to patch you up plus MREs, water bottles, and a chemical toilet tucked beside that cabinet. I'd say you could hide in here for a week if you plan right."
"What about access to the outside world?"
The corners of Deeks' mouth turned down briefly. "That's not as good a story; there's no reception probably because we're sitting in a massive tin can. There's a camera pointing out on the door, but whoever shot you found it pretty quick and took the lens out with the smashing end of his gun."
"The question is what do we do now?"
"That was kind of strange." Nell puckered her lips as she kept watch across the hallway.
"What was?" Kensi asked as she tucked the bill from the debit machine under the cash register's money tray. "The fact that I made a sale? Now you're making fun of me?"
Nell chuckled. "No, but if you do ever decide that being an agent isn't for you anymore, a job in a high-end beauty products boutique should not be your fallback plan."
Kensi's eyes narrowed, but then she grimaced. "Agreed. I don't think I could do this on a regular basis. Now what was strange?"
"Him." She tipped her head towards their target. "He got a message on his phone and tensed right up but then he set it down very carefully and has been entirely focussed on his work since."
"Why is that strange?"
"Because in all the time we've been watching him, he's only fixed one computer. He just assembled a laptop in less than five minutes. It's like he's been stalling all this time and now he's trying to distract himself or something."
"Hmm." Kensi tapped the counter. "I wonder what the message was."
"Yeah." Eric squinted at one of his computer monitors as he picked up the phone.
"We think our guy just got a message and it spooked him. Can you find out what it was?" Nell's voice came over the line.
"I will, but his encryption is really good. Give me some time and I'll work on it." He paused. "Has Kensi sold anything today?" Humour laced his voice.
"Actually, yes. And I think it was the same hair gel you use."
Eric scowled. "Very funny. I'll call you back when I get an answer." He hung up the phone and rolled his chair to another monitor. He started a program to track down that message. He left it running and rolled back to his first spot.
While Sam and Callen were shaking down various informants to get more information on their mysterious electronic janitor, he was supposed to be finding evidence of his scrubbing on the internet. So far he'd found some examples and now that he had a bit of pattern he was writing code to speed the process. He was just hoping Deeks and Granger would find something new at the guy's house to point them towards the system he used to talk with his clients. They had determined that all communication was done offline, which made Eric's job of cracking the client list that much harder.
"Paper, I hate paper." He shivered as he polished off his little sniffer and sent it out into the big bad internet world.
A ping sounded at the other monitor and he pushed off to glide over to it. His heart momentarily stopped and he scrambled to confirm what he was reading. He pulled up every camera angle available and dialed phone numbers. With every passing second his dread grew until he knew there was no mistake.
He pounded the buttons to call Callen.
"We have a serious problem."
"Do you see it?"
Callen squinted through the binoculars at the vehicle parked in the driveway. "Yeah, and it's a city works truck."
A combination of panic and annoyance laced Eric's voice. "No, it's not. City trucks always have a logo on the side, they don't just print 'Public Works' on the door. That truck is a fake."
"Are you sure this isn't an old truck or just a short-term vehicle?" Callen realized that Eric was worked up, but if they were wrong, they could blow the entire operation by busting into that house.
Silence filled the line and Sam mouthed 'he's not happy with you'. Eric came back on, his voice in tight control. "I ran the plate, the tags, and everything down to the tires. This is not a city truck and those men inside are not public works employees."
Sam whispered to Callen, "What would city employees be doing in a private residence anyway?"
"Okay Eric, take us through it from the top."
"There was a message sent by the house's security system that 'Protocol 17' had been activated. His system isn't that high-tech, I let Deeks and Granger in with no problem so this was something else and it couldn't be good based on the encryption level on the message. I checked the cameras and saw the truck in the driveway so I called Deeks and he didn't answer. I checked his GPS and it was offline, and so was Granger's. I went back over the floor plans and found what was listed as a closet on the blueprints, but it's not."
"What is it, Eric?"
"It's a panic room. And I think Deeks and Granger are trapped in it."
The two had lapsed into silence. It was better if Granger didn't talk and Deeks had focussed his energy into cataloguing everything in the room. He had set up piles around the perimeter as Granger watched. His eyelids started to feel heavy and he didn't fight them as they slid shut.
"No, no, no. Wake up." Granger flinched as Deeks flicked at his ear.
"Ow. Stop it." Granger moved his head but kept his eyes shut.
"You can't die on me, I'm only partway through my multi-step plan to kill you with kindness."
"Excuse me?" Granger flung his eyes open. "Is that what you call kindness?" He gestured at where Deeks had pulled off the gauze and was checking the hole in his side. Again.
"Not in here. Out there. The plan's been going on out there." Deeks pointed at the door.
"Is that what you've been up to?" Granger wrinkled his forehead as he re-evaluated the past few months, possibly a full year. "Blye was right, your brain is weird."
Deeks scowled at him, but a light danced in his eyes. "Here's an idea, how about you stop talking and focus on slowing this flood of blood that is presently exiting your body."
"I can't help it, just being around one of Hetty's special team raises my heart rate."
"There's the smarm we love to hate. And you wonder why no one likes you." Deeks pressed the dressing back down.
"I don't need people to like me, I'm the boss." He spat out.
"Hey. Focus on not bleeding. I have things to count." Deeks spun away and went back to his piles.
Granger rolled his eyes and settled back into the blanket Deeks had slid between him and the floor. After they got out this mess he might give Deeks some of his own killing-kindness medicine.
Deeks turned away from Granger and faced the wall. He finally let the panic that had been building in his chest seep into his face. He had told Granger that it was a minor flesh wound, which he thought it was, but although he had aced his first-aid course, he had no experience in patching up bullet holes. The doctors had done his while he was unconscious. He took a breath to settle his nerves.
He'd only told his bleeding boss half of the problem. Now that Granger seemed to be stable Deeks had to turn his attention to the more pressing matter. The bad guys were still out there and they were working on getting in. Granger had been passed out during the first phase of their plan which consisted of them banging against the door with various objects. Nothing had made a dent. When they took out the camera they hadn't realized that the microphone was still semi-operational. Deeks couldn't hear what they were saying, but he could tell by the level of noise how many people were in the room. After they gave up on the banging the noise had dropped off and he guessed they had left a guard. Now there were more sounds and he gathered that they had returned, possibly with reinforcements.
The pile of things that could be used to defend themselves was dismally small. They each had their gun with an extra clip and he'd scrounged up a lighter and a can of spray paint but he wasn't sure if that would give the same effect as a can of hairspray. There were heavy tin cans that could be hurled, but he wasn't confident that would do anything except annoy their attackers. They were painfully short of options and a storm was coming.
"Kensi, get him out of the mall and to the boatshed. We're past being subtle, we need to move this along." Callen ended the call and clenched his jaw.
"This is not a good situation. There's two of us and an unknown number of combatants. The best we can hope for is to pick a few off thanks to the element of surprise, but we'd be going in blind." Sam shook his head as he kept watch. "We need more information."
"Eric, any updates?" Callen shrugged at Sam as if to say that they didn't have many options.
"Hetty made a few calls and we have a drone heading over your position to give us an infrared reading of the house. It'll tell us how many people are in there." They could hear Eric rapidly typing in the background. "She suggested that they should do a training run over the city for some practice avoiding detection in urban areas. I'm hooked into the feed."
"What about back-up?" Callen frowned, they didn't always use it, but it was nice to have the option.
"The teams are tied up with that big bust up the shore. Remember? That's why this was supposed to be passive surveillance only."
"Right, well, we'll have to do this the other way."
"What other way." Eric's tone said he wasn't sure he wanted the answer to that question.
"The one where Hetty has some explaining to do after we're done." A smirk formed on Callen's face.
"I know that look." Sam shook his head. "I think we're going to be doing some serious penance paperwork after this."
"Yep." Callen's eyes flashed. "Smile, it'll be fun."
"You and I need to sit down and discuss your definition of 'fun'."
"Uh, guys, there's one more problem." Eric tried to get their attention again.
"You were supposed to be finding us solutions, not more problems." Callen responded.
"I'm not completely sure of the panic room model, but chances are that even if you clear out these fake city employees, Deeks and Granger might not know it's you who's opening the door."
Callen and Sam shared a look of unease. Sam sighed, "They won't know it's us so they might shoot their way out. Great."
"Also," Hetty's voice came over the line. "It would be helpful if we knew who these new players are, so it would be best if at least one of them is still breathing at the end."
"We'll try." Callen said quickly and hung up the phone. "Let's see what we can find out while we wait for the eye in the sky.
Kensi tried to look bored while she waited for the smoke bomb to go off in the planter a few stores down. The plan was for Kensi to run across hallway to snatch their target while Nell would close the store doors. Together they would hustle him out to the car and drop him at the boat shed.
A bang sounded followed by a hiss of the smoke releasing. Nell hit the button on her tablet that activated the fire alarm, compliments of a quick hack. Kensi vaulted across the space to the other store and hauled the guy out from behind the table. He started to fight so she slammed his head against the table and he wilted in her arms. Nell reached her as she was past the store threshold. She pulled the doors closed behind them and threw a NCIS-supplied lock on them. She turned to face Kensi and her face wrinkled.
"I know, grab his other side, he's heavier than he looks." Kensi grunted and together they dragged him out to Kensi's car.
The ride to the boat shed was done mostly in silence only broken by squeaks from Nell when Kensi took a corner a bit too hard. They made it in record time and passed their still-sleeping captive over to the agents Hetty had sent over. They climbed back in and headed for Sam and Callen's location while Nell readjusted her opinion of Deeks – if he rode with Kensi on a daily basis, he was tougher than he seemed.
The first sign of trouble was the slight rumbling under his feet. Deeks held in a sigh as he imagined his paltry pile of weapons growing into an arsenal worthy of a full-scale attack. They were pinned down. Then, something at the back of his mind started waving for attention. He pressed his hands against the door and, after realizing what the outside force was doing, resisted the urge to bang his head against it.
"What." Granger grunted.
"Don't shush me. I know you know something. Don't think just because I'm leaking that I'm just going to sit by when whatever you're dreading happens."
"Sit by? First you'd have to be able to sit up." Deeks snarked.
"Don't change the subject" Granger snapped. "Tell me what's going on."
Deeks sighed. "Fine. Feel that vibration?" Granger nodded. "There's two options; one, they're drilling into the door to crack it like a safe."
"And the second?"
He bit the inside of his cheek, "they're trying to put a hole in the wall and pump the room full of some sort of noxious gas."
"You said it was well-stocked, do we have any gas masks?"
Deeks clenched his jaw shut. He glanced at Granger who glared at him. "Only one."
"No, ease it into the turns. Use the wind to your advantage."
Nell kept watch over the house while Callen, Sam, and Kensi watched the feed from the drone flying overhead and listened to Hetty giving advice to the nervous stick jockey even though he couldn't hear her.
"It's coming up soon, it's marked as the target location." Eric cut in.
They waited and the house did show. The drone slowed and the three memorized as much information as they could. Eric would send them a screen capture later, but first impressions were important.
"Thanks Eric. We'll keep you posted." Sam ended the call. "I counted six people."
"Two where we believe the door to the panic room is." Kensi started.
"One at the front window as a look-out and one at the front door – probably to take him out when he comes home." Callen continued.
"And two searching the house; they'll be a problem since they're not stationary." Sam finished
"Do we know what that hot spot at the door of the panic room is?" Kensi asked.
"Could be nothing, could be everything. We need to get in there as fast as possible. Quick and dirty." Callen thought for a moment, "Kensi and I'll take the back door. We'll go in quiet and neutralize anyone in the back of the house."
"Get us some hostages?" Kensi smiled, having also been told by Hetty that they needed someone alive.
Callen nodded. "When we give the signal, Sam and Nell will breach the front door from the blind spot of the front window." He looked at Nell, "If things get hot, stand behind Sam and cover his six," he paused and a spark flared in his eye, "I realize that it's a big job."
"Are you calling me fat? Because if you are, that's being added to the list." Sam cocked an eyebrow at his partner.
"I said nothing of the sort. Let's get moving." He grabbed Kensi's arm and pulled her towards the vehicles.
Sam looked down at Nell. "He just called me fat." Nell bit back a smile and shrugged.
Callen and Kensi eased over the fence and approached the house from the side with the least amount of windows. They slid up beside the door and listened for footsteps. Hearing none, Kensi picked the lock and edged the door open. Callen went through first, silently crossing the back room and slipping into the kitchen. Kensi followed close behind and without speaking they moved to the bedrooms. The first one Kensi checked was empty, but Callen found someone rifling through the closet in his. He crept up behind and latched his arm around the man's neck with a hand over his mouth and squeezed until he passed out. He cuffed him to the bed frame and tucked his feet out of sight. When he tiptoed back into the hallway Kensi motioned for him to stand beside the closed bathroom door. Water stopped running and a man exited the room. Kensi slammed him in the back of the head with her gun and Callen caught him as he fell. Together they lifted him into the other bedroom and cuffed him to the bed frame as well.
"Two down. Moving into position." Callen whispered into the mic as they slunk through the house and readied themselves just outside the doorway to the den where the panic room was located. "Go." Callen murmured.
Sam came through the door with a crash while Nell yelled 'NCIS' at the top of her lungs behind him. The man at the door was stunned and Sam put a bullet in his shoulder. The man at the window was quicker but Kensi took care of him with a double tap from across the room. Four guns pointed at the two men running a drill into the panic room's door. The one threw his hands up immediately, but the other had headphones on and didn't notice. His partner lowered one hand and smacked him on the head. He turned and his hands shot up just as fast.
"The drilling's stopped." Granger noticed it first. "You think it's a good thing?"
"Best case, they broke the drill. Worst case, they're close and want to get into position before finishing off." Deeks squeezed his eyes shut.
"Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. You got a plan?" Granger squirmed up slightly.
"Fire at anything that moves." He waggled his gun.
"I approve." Granger nodded. "I'm just going to roll myself over into this corner so I can finish off anyone that you miss."
"You probably shouldn't move."
"Deeks, the people coming through that door are either going to kill us or save us. Whichever happens, my tugging on this hole right now won't matter." Granger paused and then added "Thanks for not letting me bleed out on the floor."
Deeks nodded and wiggled down behind the cabinet he had moved to give himself some semblance of cover to fire from.
Sam finished moving the two men from the back bedrooms and the one from the front door into the kitchen. The wound at his shoulder had caused the one to pass out, but Sam patched it up so it wouldn't kill him. The dead guy they left where he fell.
Callen glared at the drillers who were perched on the couch. "What exactly did you think you were drilling for?"
They shared a look and after a more menacing glare the one answered. "We didn't ask."
"What was the plan?" Callen ground out.
"We had to make a hole to the locking mechanism. There's about an inch to still drill. After, we can pop the lock with little difficulties."
"Is there any way we can get a message to the people inside?"
They shared a look again, but this one was more business than guilt. The other man answered. "There was a camera, but it was smashed out before we got here. The best option is to crack the door slightly and yell through the opening."
"Then go and finish the job."
"We, uh," they shifted uncomfortably, "we're not getting paid for this anymore, are we?"
Sam snarled. "We won't put you in jail, consider that your payment." He got enthusiastic nods in reply.
Deeks glanced over at Granger and grimaced. Even though the light was low, he could still see that the assistant director had gotten paler. On top of that, the drilling had started again and then stopped. He was pretty sure he heard it being pulled out and the mechanisms were being manipulated. He steadied himself and squinted, knowing that the bright light from outside was going to ruin his vision.
Then the moment he'd been waiting for and dreading happened. The lock popped and the door started to move. He took a deep breath and clenched his jaw but then the door stopped moving. Sounds broke through the pounding in his ears and he blinked in shock.
"Deeks! It's us! Don't shoot, we're opening the door." Kensi was yelling at him. She repeated herself a couple times and then the door started to move again. He stayed where he was, just in case it was some sort of trap.
"I'd prefer you point that somewhere else." Deeks found himself looking up at a grinning Sam Hanna.
Deeks fell back slightly against the wall. He slid the safety on with shaking fingers. "Granger," his throat was scratchy and he swallowed, "he got shot."
Sam nodded and pushed the door the rest of the way open. He moved over to the boss who was slowly rolling himself out from under the cot while trying to hold in his grunts of pain.
"Hey there partner." Kensi held out her hand and helped Deeks lever himself out from behind the cabinet. He walked out and squinted at the bright light. When his eyes finally did adjust, he looked around in amazement.
"What tornado went through here?" He took in the papers strewn throughout the room, the tossed furniture, even the light fixture that had been ripped from the ceiling.
"They were probably looking for the same thing we were, the client list." Nell pointed at the open file drawers. "I don't think they found it either."
"Who's 'they', anyway?"
Callen emerged from the kitchen. "Mercenaries. I found pesos on them so they've spent time down south. The one with the aerated shoulder claimed they were hired to track down a cartel member that defected."
"Do you believe him?" Kensi asked.
"I think I pressed him hard enough." Callen smirked slightly as he surreptitiously wiped the last bit of blood off his fingertips on the back of his pant leg.
Nell looked around at the disaster around them. "We still don't have the client list or the method of communication."
"And we blew the element of surprise since he's now sitting in the boat shed." Sam sighed as he checked Granger's wound while he lay on the cleared off couch.
Kensi slowly put her hand up, "We might still have that, he wasn't completely conscious during the ride." She and Nell shared a look and shrugged together.
"We might still be able to get what we need." Callen hitched a shoulder up.
Deeks, who had disappeared back into the panic room, re-emerged clutching a binder and a stack of papers. "You mean this client list and this file of messages?"
All eyes turned to him, somewhat in disbelief.
Granger smiled, "So that's what that pile was."
"I found them in the bottom drawer. The room's basically a safe so it makes sense to keep his important papers in there." Deeks hefted the pile. "I took a quick look at it and this guy didn't just clean up someone's digital footprint, he would create new ones if necessary. We have the past and present identities of some important people here."
"Like a black book of criminals." Nell grinned and she reached for the stack. "If you don't mind, I'm going to take that back to Eric. We have some people to find." She headed out of the room to find a quiet place to call Eric and start the process.
A knock sounded at the door followed by a voice shouting "Someone called a medic?"
Sam went to lead him in. The EMT settled down beside Granger and took stock. "Looks like a flesh wound. Whoever got the bullet out did a nice job. We'll have to replace the blood you lost, but you'll be up and cart wheeling again in no time."
"Great, I have to get the wannabe comedians for medics." Granger groaned at both the attempt at a joke and the poking by the EMT.
Another knock at the door signalled the arrival of an assault team that had been released from the sting early. They had heard on the way that the situation was under control, but since it was on their way back to their office anyway, they decided to stop in. They helped with mopping up the scene and offered to haul the prisoners down to the holding tank. They waved as they left.
"I think they were annoyed that another team got to bring in the collars from the other operation." Callen laughed as the team exchanged high-fives while loading their truck. The ambulance holding a protesting Granger followed close behind; the joke-cracking medic had insisted he go to the hospital to 'get a refill' of blood and 'a cocktail' of drugs to ensure no infection set in.
"Well, aside from that middle part, I'd call today a success." Callen herded everyone out of the house and towards the vehicles. "Drinks are on Granger."
Deeks shook his head and headed towards his car. Callen was wrong, even though the middle part was a massive train wreck, he still thought of it as a success. He had managed to not let his boss's boss die and he found the evidence they were looking for all without freaking out while a bunch of mercenaries did their best to end his existence. A smile found its way onto his face; he was taking tomorrow off and going surfing.
Wide open spaces, that's what he needed.
That, and a first-aid refresher course.