A/N: I'm sorry for the long delay in posting a new chapter. The weather has been pretty good so have been doing other things outside. No excuse but it's meant I've not had time to write or even go on FF to read. I hope to remedy that in the future. However the next chapter is here so please read and review. Thanks to all who are still with me on this journey and I promise I will complete all my unfinished stories in due course. I hope you are all safe and well.

Chapter 20

Kensi walked back into Callen's room and saw him looking at her quizzically. "That was Deeks. They've found some incriminating evidence at the roadhouse," said Kensi. Callen nodded his approval. "They've also found a knife."

"The murder weapon?" asked Callen.

Kensi shrugged. "It's been cleaned, wrapped in cloth and hidden away so it's a fair bet; if not Jenkins then someone else. Why'd you go to that much trouble if it hadn't been involved in a crime?" Callen nodded in agreement. "It's got to be tested so we'll have to wait and see."

"What's Deeks up to now?"

"Taking the evidence back to Ops and seeing if Hetty needs him for anything. If not, he'll come here" she replied.

Callen nodded then lapsed into silence, wondering what was going on at the boatshed. He would have done anything to be involved in the interrogation but knew it wouldn't be allowed and, as much as he hated to admit it, he wasn't fit to do so. However, he was anxious to hear whether Ramirez would give up his boss, although he thought it was unlikely as Gonzalez was like a father to him.

His thoughts were interrupted by Kensi, "Penny for them."

"Ugh?" he said looking up at her. "Oh, I was just wondering what was going on at the boatshed; if Sam and Granger were having any luck."

"If anyone can break Ramirez, it's those two. They're pretty formidable" said Kensi.

"Yeah" muttered Callen, acknowledging the truth in their ability but he wasn't convinced. In his experience, the bad guys at the top of their game tended to stick together.

Deeks arrived back at Ops and handed over the collected evidence to Nell. "Can you get these off to the lab asap?"

Nell nodded. "The courier's en route and as soon as he arrives, we'll hand over the logged evidence and he'll get them back to USACIL in Georgia."

Deeks shook his head. "I don't know why we have to use them. They're so far away!"

"You know we no longer have the luxury of our own crime labs" said Hetty, coming up behind Deeks, making him jump. "We use the US Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory based at the Denfense Forensic Center, which is the DoD's premier forensic center."

"I know, but we can also use various state and local labs to support our forensic efforts."

"I am well aware of the fact, Mr Deeks," countered Hetty. "What's your point?"

"Wouldn't it be better and more time effective to use one now? asked Deeks, clearly frustrated at the delay sending the evidence to Georgia would cause.

"Hmm, you may be correct, Mr Deeks" she agreed. "I will see what I can arrange." Turning to Nell she said "Miss Jones, please get me Director Vance on the phone. I'll be in my office." Nell nodded and as she turned to do as she was asked, Hetty added "Miss Jones, do not let the courier leave, we may still have a use for him."

Going to her desk, Hetty sat down and rested her elbows on the arms of her chair, steepling her hands under her chin. Her thoughts returned to the day when she saw the footage of Sam's car careering off the road, ending up at the bottom of the hill, when she feared she had lost two more agents. She recalled the relief of seeing Sam alive, but her concern had intensified when she saw the condition her beloved Callen was in. Her thoughts were interrupted when the phone rang. Picking it up, Hetty heard Nell announce that Director Vance was on the line.

"Henrietta, to what do I owe this pleasure?" Vance said in his clipped tones.

"Leon, straight to the point as usual" Hetty said. "You are aware of the case we're investigating following the attempt on the lives of Mr Callen and Mr Hanna." It was a statement rather than a question.

"I am. How is Agent Callen?"

"He is recovering well but is as anxious to be discharged from hospital as he is to put an end to Gonzalez's business," she said.

Vance laughed. "I'm well versed in his reluctance to be in hospital however seriously he's injured. But what can I do?"

"We have recovered some evidence including the gun with which Barclay was shot and a knife that we believe may be the weapon used to kill Jenkins. The weapons alone could convict Ramirez for good and if we can link them to Gonzalez… ." explained Hetty.

"We could put Gonzalez away too" finished Vance.

"Exactly but the evidence needs to be processed quickly, faster than USACIL can manage" said Hetty. "What I would like is for you to pull some strings to get another federal laboratory to undertake the work."

"Why me?" asked Vance. "You have the authority to arrange this yourself, Henrietta."

"Yes, I am aware that I do, Leon. However, time is of the essence and I think that a request coming from the Director of NCIS, or even SecNav, would go a long way to expedite our request. I would suggest the DEA labs would be perfect. After all, as both Gonzalez and Ramirez deal in drugs as well as arms trafficking, it would be in their interest to get them off the streets."

"I agree," concurred Vance. "I'll get on it straight away. You will hear shortly."

"Thank you, Leon" said Hetty and Vance hung up without another word.

True to his word within twenty minutes, Hetty received a call from the DEA labs advising that they had been tasked to process the evidence.

"Excellent" said Hetty. "I have a courier waiting and he'll bring the evidence to your offices straight away. I would appreciate it if you could be expeditious in running the tests; it is critical we get the results quickly." After finishing talking with the DEA official, Hetty phoned Nell. "Miss Jones, please instruct the courier to take the evidence to the DEA laboratories."

"Right away, Hetty."

At the boatshed, Sam and Granger were standing watching the monitor showing Ramirez in the interrogation room.

"Do you think he's stewed enough?" asked Sam, not looking at the Assistant Director.

"Let's do it," said Granger, by way of an answer, walking towards the interrogation room, followed by Sam. He opened the door and took a seat opposite Ramirez. Sam sat down next to him. Neither spoke.

A/N2: from the .mil/dfsc-usacil website: The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory is located within the Defense Forensic Science Center at the Gillem Enclave in Forest Park, Georgia. The USACIL provides forensic laboratory services to DoD investigative agencies and other Federal law enforcement agencies. USACIL is the only full service forensic laboratory in the DoD and trains special agents and investigators from the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines in the Special Agent Laboratory Training Course, and manages the CID criminalistics and visual information programs. The examiners and analysts testify in federal, military, and state courts as well as multi-national courts.