A/N ; This came to me whilst listening to the credit music in a film. So I guess that makes this a Song Fic? Actually it's more of a collection of one-shots from Callen's life that will be linked (sometimes loosely) by the theme of Home. Any feedback welcome, as this is my first song-fic.
For so long
I was out in the cold
And I taught myself to believe
Every story I told
It was fun hanging onto the moon
Heading into the sun
But it's been too long
Now I want to come home
(From the song (I Want To) Come Home by Paul McCartney)
"So your name is really just … G?" the little lisping whisper reached him in the dark.
"I thought you, didn't need my help?" the neutral voice whispered back evenly.
"Shut up both of youse – or Old man Kline will come back in here and take someone's hide; and it sure is not going to be mine!" the eldest of the three voices hissed loudly.
"C'mon Lewis – don't you remember your first night… stop being such a jerk."
"Fine G – you want to play Mother Goose – go for it, just leave me out of it when the two of you morons are busted." Lewis gripped, rolling over on the over sprung metal bed frame.
The sandy haired fourteen year old shook his head at Lewis' back. "Haven't I always?"
The question went unanswered as Lewis faked a light snore.
G turned his eyes towards the rooms newest occupant, a week ago that had been his position. He sized up the considerably younger child. It was a knack he'd picked up along the way here. Reading people served him well; it kept him more or less in one piece. This inmate had not been in the system for as long as he and Lewis he could tell immediately. It wasn't the kid's first placement, for although his young doe brown eyes glistened in the moonlight whenever he glanced over, the boy had not given out that scared out of your wits vibe. That brand of fear was usually accompanied by a type of crying that to G's ear was different from all the other sounds of fear, loneliness and even dread he had heard leaked out of other children's mouths. He could barely remember his own first night – he had been five. He was pretty certain he cried though, everyone cried. No matter how much you lucked out with the type of Foster Career you landed with, it was never going to be home.
"What'd' a say your name was kid?" G asked.
"Irving" the small voice timidly replied.
"Oh geez!" Lewis groaned softly "Couldn't your parents have given you the pocket protector, and nerd pants to go with the ass whopping that little treasure is going to earn you?"
"Can it Lewis …"G returned in an irritated voice.
"What's in it for me?" the older boy rolled over to glare at G pointedly.
"I'll get you Caroline's number tomorrow… if you stay real quiet, I will see what I can do about that first date."
Lewis' face twitched in thought. G Callen was admittedly, a quick talking smartass, and that had its benefits after all.
"Fine – but I pick the place and you foot the bill?!" Lewis pushed.
Callen ground his teeth bemoaning the speed at which he'd have to talk to get Caroline within ten yards of Lewis. But he kept his calm.
"Deal! Now shut up?"
Turning his attention back to the youngster, Callen went on in a soothing tone.
"Ok Irv, you been in many places before this one?"
The young boy swept a stray dark lock away from his eyes as he watched Callen with renewed interest.
"Two others. One last week, it had too many kids and the couple was getting real cranky, and the other was the…."
The young boy halted in his tale, his eyes becoming glassy. He looked every inch the seven years Callen presumed him to be.
"That was the first home they took you to after your folks passed?"G gently stated rather than asked.
The resultant sniffle was all the confirmation he needed. Slapping on the brightest grin he could muster in the face of the raw sadness he traced in Irving's eyes, he carried on.
"Listen kid … it's not so bad, we all get along just fine."
Callen ignored the loud snort from the third bed, and the twinge of conscience that told him Irv would find out the truth sooner rather than later. But Callen had learned that he could only deal the problem in front of him in the here and now, aint no telling where you'd be when the next one showed up. Irv needed to learn the basics.
"You will learn to get along – we were all where you are now… once." Callen threw the sentiment over his shoulder at Lewis.
Irving nodded rapt in Callen's voice, never taking his eyes off the older boy, as if he were about to hear the hidden location of his happy ending.
"First the basic stuff. Always carry anything valuable on you – always. And always in different places… you know socks, inside jacket linings, you can poke hole's inside padded coats that works pretty well. Also, write on everything, that way when you get moved in hurry, you actually have a hope of getting your stuff shipped on to you. When you meet Careers take their name down – the good ones love that connection stuff, and the others… well you get asked a lot of questions, it's a good detail to reel off to make it appear like your listening. When you first go into a home watch for two things – the head kid, you'll recognize them… they are usually at the front of any groups and mostly get their hands on things first, food, clothes, and watch for the way the Career shakes your hand. I'll show you tomorrow… it's easier than trying to describe it." G let his voice trail off, his mind subconsciously wandering to darker places.
A small voice brought him back. "You sure know a lot – G. But won't we be adopted in a while, then all this moving stuff won't count right? I mean there's no-one I'll ever call Mom… but I miss … home." Irv's voice quivered.
Without warning Callen found his eyes tear and he exhaled as discretely as he could when Irv broke his gaze to swat at his eyes. It was like the kid had opened that door that G usually kept dead bolted. He had been seven and a half when he'd slammed the door on that particular four letter word. He had been in one too many adoption line ups and his last placement had taught him the full danger of looking to please adults too much. He had remembered the name though; and at seven and a half he had made the neatest letters he had every made on the police officers notebook. For a moment he doubted what he was doing here with Irving. Maybe Lewis was right, he should break the truth to the kid early, before the truth broke him?
He jumped with a start into a sitting position as a small cold hand touched his arm. Irving hovered by his side. He blew out a breath before daring to look at the boy.
"I didn't mean to make you sad G." the boy stated simply.
And that just about nailed Callen. How could he choose between saving the kid now – by just letting him be a kid for a little while longer, or saving him – in order that he survive long enough to grow up? Then out of nowhere Lewis proved why G had taken such a liking to him.
"You're going to have to forgive G kid – he suffers from this memory loss thing that makes him kind of zone out. He's not sad, he's a Space Cadet … can't even remember his own name!" Lewis deadpanned.
Callen broke into a broad grin at the teasing – and the save.
A voice accompanied by three sharp bangs interrupted them all.
"Will you pups quit yer yapping…. Or I'll come in there and so help you!" Mr. Kline's gruff booming voice penetrated the wall and appeared to sink into Irving's imagination.
The boy looked a little scared. G stood up silently and walked him back to his own bed. Pulling the covers round the child he whispered close to his ear.
"There is always hope, but until it arrives, be watchful."
As he got back into his own bed he caught Lewis' eye. The elder boy nodded at him and then turned away whispering.
"Forget Caroline – how much fun can she be if she listens to you anyway?"
G smiled as he crossed his hands behind his head. Staring at the ceiling he reminded himself that even in a real home it was the people who shared their lives there that gave that place meaning.