Out Of The Darkness

by Ryley

Rated T for minor coarse language and mentions of violence.

AN: This is my first fan fic in a while, so bear with me.

6-26-2011 A couple of errors that were pointed out to me have been fixed.

Sam Hanna sat in the street holding onto his partner for dear life. Even though it had only been minutes since Callen was shot, it seemed as though it had been hours. Paramedics were on their way, but he feared they would not make it in time to save Callen.

There was so much blood. It pooled around the two men as the crowd grew larger.

Sam felt Callen move slightly in his arms. "Hey, buddy. Don't try to move. Help's on the way. Just stay still."

Callen's eyes were glassy and unfocused. "Wha—" Blood gurgled out of his mouth as he tried to speak.

"You've been shot several times. Just stay calm." Sam realized he was actually trying to keep himself calm, since Callen seemed so out of it.

"Russians?"

"What'd you do to tick them off?"

The corners of Callen's mouth turned up ever-so-slightly. "I'll live...That will...tick them off...plenty." The effort of speaking was draining what little energy he had left, but he felt like there were things he needed to say while he still had time. "The girl...?"

Sam looked around, but didn't see the Russian girl in the crowd. "She probably didn't want to stick around waiting for the cops to get here."

"Smart...girl," Callen said, short of breath.

Sam was having a hard time keeping his emotions in check. His partner was laying in the street bleeding to death and all he could do was hold onto him and wait for help to arrive.

Callen could feel himself slipping away into darkness. He was cold and yet he felt nothing. He could barely draw a breath. He could hear the gurgling in his chest, but he couldn't feel it. It was as if he was detaching from his own body. As darkness enveloped him, he thought he could hear sirens in the distance and someone calling his name, but he didn't care.

The darkness was warm and inviting. He was weightless. All around him, he could sense something familiar—something just out of reach.

Voices from somewhere within the darkness whispered softly. "It's not time. Go back."

Callen thought he could see faces in the darkness and one of the voices was familiar, but it took him a moment to place it. It had been so long... "Mom? Is that you? Why can't I stay?"

A face came closer. "It's not your time. You still have so much to do." The face receded into the darkness.

The voices faded and Callen was aware of other noises, but these were not comforting the way the darkness was. There was a rhythmic beeping and a whooshing sound with a puff at the end. Both sounded far away. He tried to listen for the voices from before, but he couldn't hear them. All he could hear were mechanical noises. They were familiar to him, but he couldn't remember what was making the noises. He allowed the rhythmic sounds to lull him.

Ten days.

Sam had spent as much time with Callen in the ICU as work and the hospital would allow. He didn't want his friend and partner to wake up alone.

The surgeons had been able to remove all the bullets and repair most of the injuries caused by them. Both lungs had been punctured and they were causing most of the worries now. The second night in ICU, Callen's went into respiratory distress and a tracheostomy was performed. The next hurdle in his progress was waiting for his lungs to heal enough to take him off the ventilator. The doctors kept telling Sam they were encouraged by the improvements in his numbers and to be patient, but every day that Callen spent in the ICU, it got harder and harder for Sam.

He kept up an almost constant monologue of office happenings. He didn't know if any of it would filter through Callen's unconsciousness, but he continued anyway. Maybe something he said would keep him going.

Sam had only been sitting down about ten minutes, when he noticed Callen's right hand move across his chest towards the I.V. in his left arm. "Hey, buddy. You've got to leave those alone," he cautioned, not knowing if Callen was conscious enough to understand.

Several times over the last few days, Callen had come to just enough to move around a little or try to take out the I.V. He usually wasn't awake long and hadn't tried to open his eyes yet.

This time, however, he noticed his friend's eyes flutter and open slowly. Sam pushed the call button frantically.

A moment later, the nurse came in and started checking Callen's vitals.

Sam had seen her before.

She was tall, with sun-kissed auburn hair and beautiful green eyes. She spoke clearly and calmly to Callen, "Don't try to talk. I'm Daria. We've got you on a ventilator. Just blink once for yes and twice for no. Can you do that for me?"

Callen obediently blinked once.

"Good. Do you know where you are?"

One blink.

"Are you in any pain?"

One blink.

"On a scale of one to ten, with ten being the worst, is it a eight or above? Blink once for yes. Twice for no."

One blink.

"Nine or above?"

One blink.

"Ten?"

Two blinks.

"I'll let the doctor know as soon as he gets here," she said, giving his hand a little squeeze.

Callen squeezed back slightly.

The nurse smiled as she returned to her duties of checking his vitals.

A moment later, Callen's doctor entered the room.

"Doctor Grimes, Agent Callen is experiencing severe pain. It's about a nine."

The doctor looked down at Callen and said, "Okay. We'll increase the dosage of your morphine to -"

Callen gripped the doctor's hand as tightly as he could. Two blinks.

Dr. Grimes could see the distress in Callen's eyes. "It's okay, Agent Callen. We regulate it very carefully."

Two very deliberate blinks.

Sam stepped forward and spoke up for his friend. "He doesn't like what it does to him. He's had it a few times before and had some pretty horrific nightmares."

"Alright. We'll try something else. Agent Callen, you've had a lot of people very worried. They'll all breathe much easier now that you're awake." He turned to the nurse, "Let's see how his lungs are. I want a new ABG test run."

The nurse nodded and prepared to draw the required blood.

"What's an ABG?" Sam asked the doctor.

"Arterial Blood Gases. We use it to check how the lungs are able to move oxygen into and remove carbon dioxide from the blood."

"And that will tell you if Callen still needs the ventilator, right?" Sam asked.

"Yes."

The nurse looked into Callen's eyes as she drew the blood. She smiled at him when his hand brushed the top of hers. "Is he flirting with me?" she asked Sam.

"Probably so...it's a chronic condition."

Dr. Grimes and Daria both smiled.

The three men watched as the beautiful, twenty-something nurse left the room.

"You'll have to get in line, Agent Callen," the doctor said once she was gone. "She's the most popular nurse on staff. As far as I know, she has refused every doctor, patient and lab technician who has asked for her number. Although...you might have a shot. I've heard the other nurses say she always lingers in here when there's no one else with you. She might have a soft spot for you."

Sam opened the door to Callen's room. He had been there four days ago when Callen was moved out of ICU and put in a regular, private room.

The bed was empty.

Sam looked around for signs that Callen had been taken elsewhere for tests. Then, he heard a clang in the attached bathroom. He pushed the partially open door all the way to the wall.

Callen was leaning heavily on the bathroom sink and looking into the mirror.

"G, what the blazes do you think you're doing? I thought Dr. Grimes told you not to try getting out of bed without help!" Sam scolded.

"I'm just checking the damage..." Callen said, slightly out of breath from the exertion.

"Oh...there's going to be damage alright, if you don't get your skinny, white sitting-muscle back in bed. I heard Nurse Ratchet coming down the hall. If she finds you out of bed, you're going to have more than a few new bullet scars to worry about," Sam said, only half joking.

Nurse Ratchet was what Callen had dubbed the Fifth Floor duty nurse. What she lacked in personality wasn't made up for in looks, either. After being so attentively cared for in the ICU by the comely Nurse Daria, it was definitely a let down.

"All right...I'll go." He pushed away from the sink. It took more effort than he had expected and when he stepped away from the support of the wall on the opposite side, he started to go down.

Sam quickly stepped up and caught Callen. "Oh no, you don't. I don't want that battle axe getting after me for letting you fall." He helped Callen get back into bed. "Don't expect a story," he joked as he pulled the sheet and blanket up.

"Wouldn't dream of it..." Callen said with a smile. "So what's new in the office?"

"Nothing we can't handle without you. Special Agent Tony DiNozzo is on standby in D.C. for us if we need him, but so far there's nothing we can't handle out of our office."

"Good. I hear Tony's capable and all...but I don't want him on my turf," Callen said with a wry smile.

"What? You afraid he'll see Nurse Daria and steal her away."

"Not possible. She's mine," Callen told his friend.

"In your dreams..."

"Well...pinch me. I've got her cell number."

"What?"

"Yup. She came down on her break yesterday and gave it to me. Said if I needed anything, I could call her."

"Now I know you're dreaming."

"Said I was her favorite patient, too."

"I can't believe this. You spent three weeks on a ventilator, unable to talk and you still get the girl... Unbelievable," Sam said, shaking his head. "You know...it was a girl that got you into this mess to start with."

"How's that?"

"The drive-by was a Russian mob hit. You said so yourself. We tracked down what few leads there were and identified four Russian nationals with expired visas. The Russian girl from across the street was an informant. She's probably the one who told them about you posing as a Russian mobster. They don't take to kindly to that."

"Yeah...well, I didn't want her getting too close."

"You're just lucky they didn't hit you on the beach when you met with Gibbs."

"Huh?"

"Yeah...the van was there in the parking lot. We caught them on a surveillance camera from a surf shop."

"Geez...I could have gotten Gibbs killed." Callen didn't think he would be able to live with himself knowing that he had caused his friend's death. "I didn't know."

"Yeah, neither did we until we went back over all the tapes we could find with you on them in the last week or so before the shooting. Turns out, they were stalking you."

"How'd we miss that?"

"They're good." Sam motioned to the man dressed as an orderly mopping the hall just within sight through the open door. "We've had a guards on your floor ever since you were brought to the hospital just in case they decided to try and finish the job."

"Any signs of them since?" Callen asked, trying not to sound worried.

"Not so far," Sam stated, shaking his head slightly. "Anyway...back to this Daria girl...what is she, like twenty-four?"

"Twenty-eight," Callen said with a beaming smile.

Sam just shook his head. He had no doubts that Callen was going to be just fine.

FINI