Author's Note:

Hello again lovely NCIS LA Fandom! I'm alive! And I have an epilogue! Sure it's been a year but still... To be honest when I sat down half an hour ago to try and get some writing done this was not what I planned to work on (not only have I been out of the writing game for the last year but I haven't had time for much TV watching either and as a result I've only just finished watching Season Four of NCIS LA so I'm rusty as all hell when it comes to these characters) but it just kind of happened.

Now I know there were quite a few people who disliked the way I ended this story and to them (if they came back a year later to read the epilogue of a story whose ending they didn't like... o.0 ) I apologize but I really didn't (and still don't) see any other way the story could have ended. I know people love a happy ending but in life, more often than not, that doesn't happen. Life is about making do as best you can and pushing forward and celebrating like crazy whenever things do end like they would in a fairytale. Wow, that was depressing; it wasn't supposed to be depressing... Oh well. X) The point is I'm sorry it wasn't the ending you wanted but I stand by it even now and hopefully this last little piece will help just a bit!

Oh, the sequel! I'm still not sure about it. Like I said I've been off writing for a year and am just trying to get back into it but I'm not sure how well I'll do. I think I'm going to try to get all the rest of my unfinished work going again before I even consider continuing this... Though I do have a few ideas... No, stop it, bad Prickly. Finish your other fanfics first... If I do chose to write a sequel at some point (emphasis on 'at some point') I'll post the first chapter here so all of you can find it easily.

That's all for now! Please enjoy!

Happy Reading!


Nine Months Later...

"I swear, if he brings that damned dog into work one more time he'll be sharing the mutt's wet food for the rest of his life..." Sam grumbled in frustration as he tucked his workout clothes neatly into the gym bag before him. After this latest session they were in need of a good wash.

Looking up for his laces, Callen smirked at the dark skinned man from the bench behind him. "Monty steal your breakfast again?" he asked teasingly.

The agent rolled his eyes. "I don't know how many times I've told him that we work at a top secret government agency, not a kennel. What the hell was Colby thinking, anyway, suggesting Deeks as our liaison..?"

The younger man shrugged and kicked off his shoes. "From what Colby told me, Marty Deeks is very good at his job if a bit... Goofy."

"Understatement," Sam snorted, "I mean, the man might be good, but he just makes you wanna slap him."

Callen chuckled as he changed quickly out of his own sweat soaked clothes and into clean a pair of jeans, a T-shirt and jacket. "Didn't Hetty teach you to play nice with the new kids?" he quipped, earning himself a glare from his former partner, "Alright, forget Deeks, Monty and your stolen breakfast, how's Renko?"

"You're really not helping, you know that, G?" Sam sighed, but he was smiling all the same, "Renko's Renko. Same as always."

"So what you're saying is that you miss me?"

Tossing his bag up on to the bench, the former SEAL avoided his friend's eyes. It had been just over nine months since Callen made the phone call that changed everything and while all the physical wounds had long since healed and the younger man had proved himself more resilient than should be humanly possible there were still moments, like this one, where Sam wasn't sure what to do. Nine months ago he would have taken the joke at face value, fired back his own smart-ass comment and moved on. Eight months ago, when he wasn't sure that his best friend would ever find his way out of his own head, he would have taken the question to heart and made damned sure G knew just how much he was missed. Recently, however, these sorts of things had become less clear. Most of the time, that sort of banter was just that, banter, but sometimes, even now, it wasn't…

"No, Sam."

Brought unceremoniously back to reality by his former partner's voice, the dark skinned agent raised his eyebrows questioningly.

"I know what you're thinking," Callen clarified, even as he packed up his own gym bag, "And stop it. I don't need to be handled with kid gloves, alright? I'm okay." He tossed the older man a quick smirk, "I even passed Nate's last psych eval."

Sam stared at him doubtfully, his eyebrows raised, if possible, even higher but G merely shrugged.

"Alright," he conceded, standing up and slinging his bag easily over his shoulder, "So maybe passed isn't quite the right word but at least I didn't bomb it this time."

Sam rolled his eyes but couldn't help the chuckle which escaped him. Today, it seemed, banter was just banter. "Believe what you like," he teased, allowing himself to relax once more, "C'mon, if I'm gonna drop you at home on my way into work, we'd better get moving."

The two men made their way out of the locker room and out to Sam's Challenger together, chatting idly even as they slid into their seats and buckled up.

"I got offered a job," said Callen abruptly, turning to stare out the passenger window.

Sam hid his surprise with all the skill of the undercover agent he was, staring the engine instead and pulling out into traffic while he waited for his former partner to continue.

The younger man didn't disappoint. "I guess word's got around to all the alphabet soup agencies that I'm... Well that I'm not exactly employee of the month anymore," he continued calmly.

"You were never employee of the month," the dark skinned man pointed out.

G tossed him a glare. "I'll have you know that the FBI used to love me," he said in a voice of mock-hurt, "I was their golden boy."

Sam smirked. "And then they met you."

"Ha ha," said Callen sarcastically, but he was smiling slightly, "You're hilarious, you know that?"

The dark skinned man's smirk grew but he chose not to respond, instead allowing silence to fill the car as he navigated easily through traffic.

"It's in Russia."

"What?" Sam blinked, glancing over at the younger man who was staring out the side window once more, "What's in Russia?"

"The job," Callen explained as he continued watching the streets of Los Angeles flash by, "The CIA and KGB want someone to... help out, on the odd op. Off the books."

The temperature in the Challenger seemed to drop several degrees at the former agent's words. It was too soon, it was much too soon, but Sam knew his best friend would deny that if he brought it up. He'd have to go at it from another angle. "G, you can't seriously be considering it," he said firmly, injecting just enough disbelief into his voice that it would get his point across. The problem was that he did believe that the younger man would jump back into the life like it was nothing, that was just who he was. "Off the books just means they don't have to report you missing!"

"You think I don't know that?" Callen had turned to face him now, and the knowing look in his eyes left his former partner with the strong suspicion that he'd seen straight through to what had not been said but was choosing not to acknowledge it. "C'mon, Sam, it's not like this we haven't done this sort of thing before."

"Yeah," the agent fired back, "But that's the point. We may have done it before but there is no we this time, there's just you and two agencies who won't give a shit. Who's gonna save your ass when you get in trouble, huh?"

Callen just smirked at him. "You will," he said simply, putting on the most trusting expression he could manage.

Sam glared. "Damn you," he grumbled, turning his attention back to the road and pointedly ignoring his former partner.

G laughed outright at his antics but sobered quickly. "I'll be fine, Sam. Really," he said with a small smile before heaving a heavy sigh, "I've been doing this job my whole adult life, been a ghost for even longer, I can't just flick a switch and become a normal part of society. I just can't. I've tried and I'm starting to go stir crazy..."

Sam echoed his passenger's sigh. "I know..." he said softly, and he did, he really did. Even now, after everything that had happened he still couldn't see his friend holding down a simple nine to five job, not without losing what sanity he had regained in the last few months. "But that doesn't mean I have to like it," he added before sighing again, "Tell me Hetty and Nate aren't good with this..." Callen gave him one of his enigmatic looks and the dark skinned man groaned. "They don't know, do they?"

"I don't need any of your permission to do this, Sam," G pointed out, his voice tinged with annoyance for the first time in the conversation, "And I'm not asking for it. I need to know if I can do this, if I can be completely self sufficient again and I will find out one way or another. I just wanted to know if you would still have my back if I need it, if I..." He shrugged and turned to stare out the window once more.

If I can't do it, Sam finished the sentence mentally. "Of course I will, G," he said with a small smile, "You're still my partner, to hell with what the agency says. That's what we do."

Callen smiled softly but the expression quickly turned into a smirk. "In that case, drop me at the airport instead?" he said innocently.

A glare was sent the younger man's way. "You're unbelievable, you know that?"

"I do, thank you."

"Oh shut up..." But despite the worry clawing at the inside of his chest, Sam couldn't help the smile that found its way onto his face and he turned off in the direction of the airport, "If I'm late for work because of you, Deeks won't be the only one stuck eating dog food..."