Title: Dangerous Liaisons
Summary: A mistake from his past forces Callen to turn to his team for help. But will they want to?
Disclaimer: NCIS, NCIS LA, and the characters therein do not belong to me, and no amount of wishing seems able to change that.
Rating: T for language and bits of violence
Warning: Eventual Callen/Sam slash, nothing graphic. Discussion of depression and suicide but, again, nothing graphic or detailed.
A/N: I've played fast and loose with a few things here, most notably geography, technology and the timelines of the two shows. Also, I probably murdered criminal procedure but good. But this, all 30,000+ words of it, is more about the characters than the plot so hopefully you can forgive. There is a lot of talking and thinking in this story.
G positioned himself with his back to the wall, eliminating any possibility of his colleagues coming up behind him unannounced and overhearing whatever was on the tape. He pressed one earphone into place and hit play.
His own voice greeted his ears, the strain in his words enough to send him tumbling headlong back through time and space. His gut twisted and he was grateful for the support of the wall. "DiNozzo, I—"
"Callen, what the hell happened?" DiNozzo hesitated, then knelt by Derring's body. He pressed his fingertips to the man's throat but G knew he'd feel no pulse. A double tap to the heart; he'd been dead before he hit the ground.
DiNozzo holstered his weapon and unfastened Derring's overcoat, reaching inside to the still-holstered weapon. He couldn't possibly have reached for it. He'd posed no threat, and G could see the second Tony put it all together. "Shit, Callen."
"Do us both a favor and don't say anything." Silence overtook them both as DiNozzo pulled his cell phone out. "Gibbs? Derring's dead. Callen—"
DiNozzo's words cut out and an unfamiliar voice pulled G out of his memories none too soon. "There's more of this, Agent Callen, but it's within your control to see that it never sees the light of day. Be at the phone booth on the corner of Sunset and Hilgard at thirteen hundred hours." The tape cut out then, and G let the wall hold him upright for a moment before he pocketed the tape and dug out his phone to call Gibbs.
When three calls to Gibbs' cell and two to his home number ended in recorded messages informing him that the numbers were no longer in service, he had no choice but to call DiNozzo. It wasn't that he didn't want to talk to Tony—not that he did, either—but he doubted DiNozzo would be much help.
"DiNozzo." Gibbs' senior agent sounded harassed, his tone short and tight. When G didn't speak immediately, DiNozzo spoke again. "Look, I don't have all day."
That wasn't the reaction he was hoping for. "Good to talk to you too."
"Sorry, Callen. I'm just up to my eyeballs and then some and if you've got a case you plan on throwing our way, I'm throwing it back. What'd you need?"
DiNozzo didn't respond right away, but G waited him out. "Gibbs resigned. Retired, quit, I don't know what the hell they're calling it." Tony's voice sounded, if possible, tighter than it had been when he answered the call. "Anything I can do for you?"
There really wasn't but DiNozzo had a right to have some input into the destruction of his own career. "I got a… message from someone. It's about that thing that happened before I transferred to LA."
DiNozzo's voice, when he spoke again, was level and void of tension, which only told G exactly how tense he was. "From who?"
"What exactly about?"
"He's looking for something in return for…" Fuck, how was he supposed to say this without incriminating himself over a telephone line that was fully susceptible to government eavesdropping? Any actual mention of blackmail and he'd be answering a lot of uncomfortable questions if a recording of this conversation got into the wrong person's hands. And, at the moment, he harbored no illusions about informational security.
DiNozzo put it together on his own; the sharp intake of breath was impossible to miss. "Do you know what?"
"No, but I've got some pretty good ideas. And none of them is…"
"Acceptable," DiNozzo finished for him. "Well, Callen, don't worry about me. You know better than that." DiNozzo sounded a little more like himself—though still not quite right. Gibbs's departure must have really thrown him. "And you sure as hell don't have any reason to worry about Gibbs, who's currently kicking back in Mexico with any number of spicy senoritas if he knows what's good for him. Which, really, it's anybody's guess whether he does or not. Do what you have to do. And I don't really think you need me to tell you what you need to do."
"No." G let his head fall back against the wall. "No, I don't. Thanks, DiNozzo."
"Let me know if you need anything from this end. We're kind of swamped… okay, we're really swamped and I haven't been home in three days so I don't really have time for anything else. But if you need something…"
"I will. Let me know if you hear from him. He's got almost as much reason to call you as he did to talk to me."
"Right. I'll keep an ear open." DiNozzo disconnected before G could bid him goodbye, which was just as well.
The phone booth was a victim of unfortunate placement—for G's purposes, anyway. It was on the corner of a building and as only one man, he couldn't keep an eye on the entire 270 degree exposure by himself. He just had to hope that whoever had sent the tape wanted something from him enough that he planned to let him live.
The phone rang a minute after thirteen hundred and G picked up on the third ring. "Yeah."
"What do you want?" Being blackmailed didn't leave him in the mood for pleasantries.
"You have access to the files on Operation Breakwater. I want them."
"Not happening." Not that G could have met any request the guy could have made, but that definitely wouldn't be an option. He wasn't sure he could even risk faking it.
"You'd prefer that NCIS be implicated in a cover-up?"
The short answer was yes. The Breakwater files included information on cooperative military black ops around the world. A leak of that magnitude would trump any level of embarrassment over a law-enforcement cover-up. The longer answer was that after three years he'd kind of gotten used to the idea that he wasn't going to end up in prison over Alex Derring.
"The only person you're going to hurt here is me." And Tony DiNozzo. And Jethro Gibbs, though if Tony was right about Gibbs' current whereabouts, who knew if any of this would matter to him. And possibly Tom Morrow, but G had never been quite sure how much of his transfer had been because Morrow knew what had happened and how much was because he just couldn't handle both Gibbs and himself in the same office. He'd always kind of thought it was the latter. G considered it a point of pride (mostly) that he shared a fair amount in common, but most people didn't see it that way.
Morrow might have deniability, which meant NCIS would survive it all just fine. Just he and Tony would be screwed.
"Prison for the rest of your life?" The man on the other end of the line chuckled. "That's your final decision?"
"You're trying to make me commit treason to keep you from going public with whatever else you think you have on me? Come on. You really thought for a second that would work?"
"Why don't you think about it, Agent Callen, and we'll talk again. Operation Breakwater. I know you have access to the information I want. Give it to me and my evidence disappears. You're home free."
"Be at the same phone tomorrow at this time, Agent Callen, or the tapes make their way to the local news." The man severed the connection before Callen could refuse again.
If nothing else, he had one more day with his badge.