A/N; This is my entry for AngelPrincessLilac's 210 Summer Challenge. Great idea Angela, I hope this works as it kind of escaped my pen before I could tinker with it too much.


What More Is There To Say?

Dom's life had been over too fast; his death had happened because they had not been fast enough. The young Agent had not even had time to take the training wheels off before he had been hauled into the darkness and subjected to some of the worst experiences the undercover world had to offer. They were all feeling the weight of the unfairness. It was the chaffing sensation that their best had not been good enough and their youngest, most vulnerable member had paid the ultimate price. Sam had been right; what more is there to say?

Callen threw his head back in a practiced motion, draining the whiskey glass steadily. As he set his third… or maybe fourth down on the bar he smiled invitingly at the Barmaid. He knew she liked him, just like he knew he had been benefitting from doubles and not the single he had ordered. He wasn't about to complain because after his earlier talk with Sam he needed to do a little numbing of his own.

He was being a hypocrite. He had been worried about his partner of three and a half years. Watching the lights dim in Sam's eyes was something that scared him more than the thought of opening up enough to let his own sorrow show. Sam was the eternal optimist – he remembered explaining this to Hetty recently. Tapping his glass with his forefinger he giggled a little to himself as he recalled his 'glass half full and half empty' analogy for Sam and himself. Placing a hand to his mouth he wondered if the last double had in fact been a triple, because he was slightly further gone than he had first thought. But the smile dropped as he felt his mobile vibrate in his jacket pocket. He knew answering that call would put him back on duty. Now that he'd slipped the mask for a while, he is in no hurry to replace it. Part of him doubted his ability to put on a convincing enough show as either "G" – if it was Sam or as "Agent Callen" – if Hetty was checking in on him.

Right now he had tumbled back in time, becoming once again that scared stiff, fair-haired five year old. He wanted time to stand still, neither going forward into the imposing unknown nor backward into the wrenching heartache he had just left. His breath hitched and his eyes blurred and for once he wished there was someone warm and willing sitting next to him. He could be alone anytime… right now he needed….

"Hey – no downers at my bar beautiful." A light teasing voice demanded, as another- definitely triple- measure was set down in front of him.

He cut his gaze at her travelling up her torso slowly. He didn't usually indulge in this bar game, but he didn't think he could handle being alone tonight. When he reached her face he found that she was more than enthused by the suggestion in his eyes.

"I get off in half an hour Baby – walk me home?" she murmured close to his ear.

He nodded smiling with a cockiness he neither felt nor probably faked very well, because in the next instant her warm breath was tracing the side of his face.

"Leave the brooding at the bar Baby- pretty please?"

Without a word he slugged back the drink in front of him and let the warm wave of heat carry his smile to her. Much better, her response was instant, if a little crude.

For his part Callen imagined that sobering up a touch might prove useful if he did in fact plan on walking her anywhere. He was only slightly alarmed when his attempt to rise to visit the gents resulted in him sinking abruptly back onto his stool. Definitely triples! Sighing he rose more deliberately, not bothering to check if she had noticed or not. She hadn't even asked his name; he doubted she cared about his sobriety. He frowned a little at that- something about that should bother him, but he couldn't put his finger on what exactly. He made his way weaving to the gents.

It had been a joke in the unit, and in others he had been in, but Callen really could spot a tail almost instantly. So his utter dumfounded state counted for the first ten seconds of stunned paralysis at finding the two heavyset men in biker uniforms standing at his six with their arms folded expectantly. This was a shakedown. His sluggish mind put it all together too late; the barmaid, the generosity and the roofed in his last shot – the reason his legs wouldn't head in the direction he willed them to. Sucking in a breath he wondered idly, why him; but pulling his thoughts together as best he could before the drug took full effect, he turned round with what he hoped was a easy going smile.

"Well at least you were gentlemanly enough to wait till I'd finished." Callen smirked amiably

"We were waiting for, uh events to take their course – so to speak." the slightly taller man answered him gruffly.

"I personally prefer the hands on method to unconsciousness myself." his partner with the diamond studded skull and crossbones earring answered.

Callen nodded appearing to take it in. In truth on the inside he was relieved, they were not professionals; if they had been, he'd be out cold, or dead by now.

"So before the ass whopping, cause I'm gonna guess that's where this is going… why me?" Callen questioned good naturedly.

The taller guy, obviously the leader smiled sweetly in return. "Sorry to disappoint you buddy. Sylvie, that's my go to girl at the bar, just liked the look of you, and me and my amigo here just needed the practice… what can I say?

Callen's laugh was bitter as he stood up straighter, the sting in his chest as all the events of the funeral and the past week came back to him, fueling his need to vent some of his now unbearable anger. In his mind's eye he saw Dom; smiling, joking, spouting pointless historical facts, playing with green bobble headed Aliens… alive. He had been selected randomly; Dom had been targeted on purpose. It made no sense. Callen seemed to lead an almost charmed life, whilst Dom… Dom whose mother had damn near folded in half from crying at his graveside, whose friends had trailed past in a never ending line of respect and love, who's fourteen year old brother had seen straight through their cover stories and glared at Callen like he was personally responsible… Dom; never stood a chance. They should have trained him better – he should have been more like Sam, tougher, more thorough, the lead was his, the responsibility also his.

"Uh not to cut in on your Wonder years moment there pal- but we are running over time here, and you seem a little resistant to our non-violent attempts at robbing you…" the earring wearing man started shoving G hard to illustrate his point.

"C'mon Eddie- we aint got time to toy with him." The other man chided. "Just put him down before someone else's got to hit the head."

Callen seemed to come alive in an instant. He sprang at the nearest man cracking his nose with an open palm and applying a well placed knee to his solar-plexus in the same motion, stealing the breath and sound from his first victim. He paused to grin ferally at the second man as he advanced forward connecting his right fist and elbow to the other guy's face in quick succession. Stepping in to his opponent he started to deliver body blows in a fierce but leisurely way, taking his time. G wanted someone else to hurt as badly as he did.

What lay beyond thought… beyond words? For Callen only one thing, action. His upbringing had tempered him, and various covert government agencies had trained him to do just that – act. And now that he'd committed to a course of action he realized that he was finding it hard to rein in his choice. Dully he recognized he had disposed of the leader and was back to pummeling the biker- pirate.

"G!" an agitated yell called to him, seconds before a strong hand blocked his raised fist, and spun him around.

It took Callen a moment to pull focus and stop the roof spinning. Whatever they had given him had been too little to take him down, but definitely served to slow him down. He felt a warm hand alongside his cheek, turning his face upwards, and finally he registered it was Sam's worried brown gaze checking out his pupils. He half heard his partner threaten the barely standing would be mugger, and even his oblivious, unconscious boss, in an attempt to cover for him. G smiled a little half smirk to himself.

"Oh this is funny to you Superman? You taking on crime fighting in your spare time now too? What the hell is wrong with you?" Hanna's voice was steadily climbing till it reached the shrill squawk that G liked to refer to as the Mother Hen mode.

Callen felt himself being shaken in order to get a response when his only reply was to smile more broadly. The drug was stealing up on him, Sam was blurring along with the view. And the shaking was so not cool right now.

"What have you dropped G?" his partner demanded fiercely recognizing the unsteadiness, disorientation and slightly bloodshot, full blown pupils as more than just the alcohol he could smell on the shorter man's breath.

Callen looked up sharply at Sam's insinuation and shot him a heated glare. "Fu- ch you!"

"Oh really?" Sam supplied sarcastically as he reached out and steadied the other man who'd let out a groan and threw a protective arm round his stomach in quick suit.

Sweet release was part of the unwritten rules of the Marine codebook, for some, steam venting meant mixing their booze with something stiffer. Sam saw all the signs in G but was a little puzzled by the indignation in his partner; he had to admit he had never picked G for this type of R and R. But he had no time to worry about Callen's motives because unless he missed his guess the next station on this runaway train required a visit to the porcelain God.

"Le…go ...a…me!" the heavily panting man demanded.

Sam tightened his grip as he dragged the flagging man to a cubical.

"Not on your damn life – now do you know what it was or …" Sam cut short as an awful retching noise tore loose from G and he was forced to lean in to support the heaving Agent in Charge.

Callen felt his whole body spasm as he threw up violently and none too neatly. The only sensation he was aware of was the roll of his stomach and his burning esophagus. The iron clad grip that claimed his shoulders and occasionally gripped the back of his neck in a reassuring gesture was all that kept him from taking a face first header onto the floor. When it seemed to be letting up he pushed back weakly against Sam's hold and the stocky Marine helped him to his feet and only let go when he had perched G safely at the wash basin. Letting his head sag so he could toss running water over it, Callen wondered where the hell to go from here? What could he say to Sam about the disgraceful way he'd behaved? He glanced up squinting a little at the bright neon overhead that cast unfamiliar shadows on the tall Marine's face reflected in the mirror. Sam stood, arms crossed, waiting.

"I didn't order the roofey." was all G could muster.

He felt wrung out, he looked washed up, and all he could muster was a lame ass defense as he clung for dear dignity to the dirty sink, in a filthy bar, in the beaten down part of town. Only his eyes appeared animated- and all they could do was plead with Sam to somehow, miraculously; understand.

"I didn't go looking for…" G began again in a husky tight voice lowering his eye line. "I am not like this, I don't lose… I didn't mean for this to happen, I wanted to find him alive… I wanted to save him…" Callen trailed off surprising himself as his past and present appeared to collide on his tongue.

A touch on his shoulder startled him and he closed his eyes but not quickly enough to shut off the lone tear that escaped him. He glanced up briefly noting that his eyes were not the only overly bright ones, but looked away quickly, embarrassed at being caught out in the open, even by Sam. His partner on the other hand merely firmed up his grip patting his shoulder gently.

"I know G- I feel the same." was all Sam offered.

The shrill ring of Sam's cell phone split the silence calling Callen back to earth and Sam to answer Hetty's quick fired questions on whether the GPS tracker had located Callen. G returned to examining the running water as Sam's cover story flowed easily from his mouth. Sam was a brave man, lying so brazenly to Hetty about how everything was fine, how Callen had simply lost track of time, and how they'd be heading back to work soon. Callen laughed as he corrected himself – actually Sam Hanna was telling the absolute, abstract truth. Everything was fine; as good as it got for him anyways, Callen had lost track of time; and sense and himself, and the sooner they both got back to work, to normal, the better Callen would be.

What more was there to say?