This is my first drabble into NCIS: LA – and I hope to make this a two part story. Reviews and comments are always welcomed!

Lady Winter

When Sam had woken up that morning, he'd had a feeling things weren't going to go well. Nothing in particular happened – he wasn't late, he didn't burn the coffee, he even made Hetty smile early on. In general, it had seemed like it was going to be a normal day – but he had a nagging feeling in his stomach that something wasn't quite right.

It may have been that for once in his life, G Callen was early to arrive to their base of operations – and it wasn't because he'd spent the night on the couch. He was staying at a half decent hotel for once – at least in Sam's opinion – but it was still a rare occasion for the free-spirit that was G Callen to show up on time for work – let alone early.

When Sam had arrived, G was at his desk, knees propped against it (as Hetty would certainly never allow feet), whistling softly as he checked email on his phone, a hot cup of tea steaming within easy reach. Sam had stopped and stared, surprised to see his partner there, and G had given him one of those infuriating smiles, as if he'd known his early arrival would set Sam's day into some sort of spiral. Sam had scowled at him. Kensi, who had just arrived, snickered, as if she'd seen the whole situation exactly the way Sam had.

G looked like he was about to say something when Eric's whistle summoned them upstairs. Sam was left with his unsettled feeling and G's boundless energy as his partner passed him on the stairs. This just proved to irritate Sam further, and he tried to clamp down on his unruly emotions. It wouldn't do to show weakness in front of G – or he'd be in for a day of poking and prodding at his own expense. G liked nothing better than to harass the angry bear.

Hetty seemed to notice that his mood was amiss and lifted and eyebrow at him as he stepped through the door into their super-technology room. He shrugged a little, then glanced at G, who was bouncing on the balls of his feet, listening to Eric prattle on about something. Hetty smiled and left the subject alone.

Sam settled in next to G, leaning against one of the desk tops.

"Morning," his blue eyed partner responded, grinning a little too broadly.

"You are way too happy this morning. What's wrong with you? Normally I'm the morning person."

G shrugged in a way that Sam had come to read as truthful and not evasive – and G was evasive a lot, so this shrug was always a good sign. "The sun was out…I had a nice run…saw some turtles on the beach," G rambled. Sam groaned.

"I hate when you're like this."

G just grinned back at him.

The story he told was nice, but Sam had to guess that most likely, G was actually excited about their scheduled OP.

For three months, they had been gathering information and tailing a group of Marines who were smuggling drugs overseas to sell on the street in Afghanistan and Iraq. They hadn't been stupid enough to sell them to any of their fellow Marines – after all, random drug testing happened all the time – but they were making a killing on the locals and in general, giving the Marines an ugly reputation in some areas.

NCIS had gotten a break when the Marines involved had needed the help of an MP – and Callen had plenty of experience in that arena, so for over a month, he – or rather Ryan Ellis – had been assisting the Marines with various small things they needed, which had slowly been escalating as the Marines came closer to trusting him with the actualities of what was going on.

They'd made it clear to Ryan Ellis that tonight was the night they really needed his help – and he should be ready. Three months of evidence gathering, long stakeouts, and Callen pulling off another 'Legend' and they were finally going to see results.

Ultimately, that's was what had G excited – and that was probably was what was making Sam so unhappy. G had done this entire OP flying solo, but always with someone listening in – someone close. It would be the same tonight, but when the actual "act" went down, Sam wished he could be much closer. Like right there – in the room.

G had teased him unmercifully about acting like his mother, but Sam couldn't help it. G Callen was his best friend – and he'd come to really appreciate their relationship – it was one of the best partnerships he'd ever had, once he'd adjusted to G not always liking the team approach he was used to as a former SEAL.

But after that day on the beach – after the day Sam had sat on his knees, begging G not to die – after the day some horrible person had shot G full of five bullets on a crowded street in the middle of the afternoon – after the day that Sam had watched his best friend's white shirt turn cherry red, his blue eyes fluttering closed…after that day, Sam hadn't liked to be far away from G.

He owed G his life, a dozen times over – and although the same could be said in reverse, Sam still felt like he owed his partner. What was more was that they had a loyalty to each other – and Sam had sworn, right there on the sidewalk, oranges splattered all around them, making the air smell of warm orange juice as G bled out, that he would do whatever it took to make sure that never happened again.

Tonight, Sam wouldn't be able to be with G. He'd be as close as he could be – a block or so away – waiting for things to go down.

He'd much rather be skulking around outside – but that was too dangerous and could blow the whole operation right out of the water. Which was exactly what Eric was explaining at that moment. Kensi would be with Sam – and they'd be three minutes out the way Sam drove. Three minutes was longer than he liked.

Eric and Nate would be monitoring from command – and Sam was glad they'd have ears on G at all times.

Despite trusting the team immensely, Sam would rather it was him going into that boat house – not G. No matter how much he wished that though, it wasn't going to go down that way.

"Suck it up, Mr. Hanna," Hetty had said simply when he'd protested. Luckily, G hadn't been offended that Sam seemed to lack faith in his ability to keep himself out of trouble.

G had to put in an appearance at Pendleton before the night meeting, or it might be suspicious, so Sam had hovered while G changed into "his" uniform and Hetty fussed. Sam had to admit, G made a convincing sailor.

"Hetty, ever think of warming those fingers up before we do the wire part?" G complained.

"Just making sure you're alert, Mr. Callen," the mysterious short woman responded and Sam turned to smirk at G, who looked mildly uncomfortable as he emerged, looking every bit his part.

"I'm always alert Hetty," G said, trying to sound wounded, but failing. "I'd better get going though," he said seriously, and Sam saw the mask falling in place and he knew in a minute, G would be gone, replaced by Ryan Ellis.

"G, hold up, I'll just…walk out with you," Sam said, hoping he didn't look like a lost puppy. The barely concealed look on G's face proved that he hadn't done so well in trying to hide it.

"You worry too much," Callen said, but mercifully, he waited until they were out of Nate's earshot. The operations psychologist had been watching their interaction all morning like a hawk.

"I don't like you in there alone," Sam repeated for what felt like the millionth time.

"It's not the first time, Sam," G replied casually, his body language and voice tone meant to manipulate his partner – meant to inspire confidence.

Sam half growled at G. "Quit that crap, G! I'm not one of your marks!"

Instantly, Callen looked apologetic, and he paused in the door where they had no audience. "All I was trying to do was reassure you. I couldn't be there to watch your back in Afganistan – I know it sucks," he said placatingly.

Sam hated when G did that. Hated when he had a too good answer.

"Just watch your back then, ok?

"I will," G promised seriously, meeting Sam's eyes – and Sam recalled Hetty telling him that G trusted him more than anyone else. "Now, are you done being all mother-hen?" he demanded, the seriousness of their conversation evaporating.

"Do I have a choice?" Sam asked. G just shrugged, arms outstretched a little, an innocent little smile playing across his face.

"Remind the team that everything is still a go unless you hear differently from me," G said in response, then turned to go, the comment unnecessary.

Something in Sam screamed for him to stop G from getting into the car. Nothing felt right about this whole day – but he couldn't put his finger on it. How could he explain to Callen, Hetty and the rest of the team that he didn't want G going in – but he had nothing to base it off of besides something didn't feel just right. Things rarely felt 'right' when it came to undercover work.

He forced himself not to move and watched as G gave a slight wave, then drove off, as recklessly as always. Sam stood there, clenching his fists, feeling like he'd just lost a huge fight.

He turned to go back inside and almost smashed into Nate. The psychologist was watching him carefully.

"How long you been standing there, man?" Sam demanded, a little angry.

"Just long enough to see Callen speed out of here like he's a racecar driver. Something bothering you?" Nate said, holding up his hands in a peaceful gesture. Sam swallowed hard. He liked Nate, he really did – but sometimes… Well, sometimes he understood why G avoided him most of the time. Still, the worried look on Nate's face betrayed more than just concern at Sam's mental health. It took just a moment longer for Sam to realize that Nate was worried about G too.

"I just have a funny feeling, that's all," he said with a shrug. He found opening up to Nate a whole heck of a lot easier than Callen did.

Nate nodded slowly. "Ops like these are always…frustrating," he said, trying to be diplomatic, and then he sighed. "Like Hetty says, we have to trust Callen."

"I trust him," Sam said. "It's those Marines I don't trust."

"I know," Nate said, and they both stood there, hands shoved in their pockets, hoping they were just being paranoid.

The rest of the day seemed to move in slow motion for Sam. There was little preparation to be done – everything else had been so well planned out that it was more of a waiting game. Hetty insisted that Sam use the time to catch up on paperwork, and he did so reluctantly.

Callen checked in regularly, not even late for one pre-scheduled contact, and that ate away at Sam's stomach. Things were going smoothly – that should have been a good thing, but Sam wished something would go wrong now – and not later.

It was nearly five when Callen left his post at Pendelton, just like Ryan Ellis always did, and they checked comms and video feed as Callen changed into jeans and a button down and removed the obvious wire. He went only with the ear wig and one of Hetty's famous button cams – but he did all of this away from the NCIS office – it was too dangerous to risk being tailed now.

Sam was restless, pacing as Eric and G joked over the comms while they did one final systems check. Hetty pulled Sam into her "office" as soon as it was convenient and not obvious.

"You're making the rest of the children nervous," she commented dryly once they were out of earshot of the rest of the team. Sam sighed heavily.

"I know what you're going to say Hetty…" Sam said, about to defend himself.

"I just want you to attempt to try to relax, Mr. Hanna. As a former Navy SEAL, I expect that you of all people would understand the inability to control every situation," she said easily, pouring them both a cup of tea.

Sam sighed again, and stared at the tea cup before speaking.

"I trust Callen – I mean, he's one of the best agents I've ever seen – one of the most capable men I know… But something just feels off about all of this."

Hetty raised one eyebrow. "Mr. Hanna, this is the first time during this entire operation that you have been…unsettled. Are you certain that this isn't because you can't be with Mr. Callen on the inside?"

Sam breathed out. "Are you analyzing me? I thought that was Nate's job."

Hetty studied him for a moment, and he felt small. She was the only one who could do that.

"Mr. Hanna, you are an exceptional agent – and your partnership with Mr. Callen is most successful – but partnerships have dangers – and that includes having your partner at risk. Ever since Mr. Callen was shot, you have been…very protective of him, whether you'd like to admit it or not."

Sam groaned. "You can hardly blame me, Hetty. The man is a magnet for danger. I mean, who else do you know that could save a whole mall full of people and still get botchulism in their thumb?"

Hetty gave him a small, understanding smile. "I won't disagree with you," she said finally. "However, you must accept that this is a dangerous job and that Mr. Callen is fully aware of the dangers. He's been doing this a long time – and although each of you needs to be looked after, your concern can be a liability. I need you to have a clear head – and to stop freaking out the rest of the staff."

Sam sighed. "I know, I get it," he responded a bit petulantly. He knew Hetty was right – for everyone's sake, he had to get it together.

Hetty nodded, signaling that their conversation was over and that she expected and trusted him to take her words to heart. Sam stood to leave, then paused. "Thanks Hetty," he said quietly and she nodded dismissively, but he knew she appreciated the gesture.

Sam spent the remaining hours being as cheerful as possible. He cracked jokes with Eric, made fun of Nate and quizzed Kensi on her most recent dating adventures. Slowly, the team began to relax into the well oiled machine that they were, bolstered by Sam's normalcy.

Even Sam had to admit that he felt better about things, the black cloud over his head evaporating. Gently, he chided himself for becoming such a worrier and almost laughed at his mothering tendencies.

Being back in the groove felt good and he and Kensi were soon pulling on vests and arming themselves while Eric tested their comms. Hetty seemed to approve of the final details and gave them one last warning to be careful. They checked in with Callen, and were soon headed down the freeway, the windows down in the Challenger. Kensi soaked in the setting sun, looking lazy, but Sam knew she was just finding her center before the op really began.

In less time than he'd expected, they were parked behind an old warehouse that was slowly rusting away due to the salt spray. It was a boat storage house, with room for several hundred speed boats, and its winding drives led directly to the marina where the Marines had rented a boat house as their base of operations. It was as close as they could get without being seen on the security monitoring devices of the private club. Early in the case, Kensi had discovered that one of the Marines, Petty Officer Alvarez had a brother that worked for the club – and that he acted as security for the five drug smugglers. That had made parking any closer an impossibility.

Sam checked and rechecked his Berretta while Kensi tuned their comms to where they could hear G's voice. He was just arriving at the boat house, and he was joking around with the people that were already there, even as it was made clear that he was being searched.

"I hear two voices," Eric broke in. "Petty Officers Alvarez and Simmons."

"Eric, do you have eyes yet?" Sam asked.

"Just coming on line now – the button cam is working great," he said, as if it was his creation. "Yes, just Alvarez and Simmons," he added a moment later. He lapsed into silence and they listened as Alvarez finished his pat down.

"Sorry Ellis, you know, procedure and all." The sound quality was perfectly clear.

"No problem," Callen responded smoothly. "I get it," he assured them, and his voice held just a slight accent that he'd adopted for the role – something softly southern.

"We're still waiting for Perez and Dietrich, so have a seat. You want something to drink?"

The small talk continued at an easy, calm pace until they heard the door.

"That would be Perez and Deitrich," Eric told them, able to see what was going on. There was more talking, this time confusing because there were several conversations going on as the two new arrivals greeted their partners in crime and also spoke to G.

"One last Marine missing," Kensi mused and Sam nodded, trying to make out G's voice. He was joking about some baseball game. G didn't even watch baseball. Apparently Ryan Ellis did.

A few minutes passed before they all heard the door. "That's Aldrich," Eric told them.

They could all hear a round of greetings before Eric muttered something unhappy.

"What's wrong Eric?" Sam said, the hair on the back of his neck rising.

"I'm not sure," he admitted.

"Aldrich has pulled Alvarez and Dietrich aside," Nate answered instead. "They're having a pretty heated conversation. Callen's trying to listen in, but he's trying not to be too obvious," the psychologist said, the tension in his voice heightened.

"Talk to me Nate," Sam said quickly. "Tell me what you're seeing."

"Aldrich is upset – he's furious actually," Nate said, no doubt reading the Marine's face. "They're all being furtive, trying to make it look like they're calm. And Perez and Simmons know something's up – they're keeping Callen busy – trying to be nonchalant about it. I can't tell…" Nate trailed off when shouting erupted suddenly, drowning everything else out.

Sam gripped the steering wheel, his hand moving towards the shifter, ready to leap into action, his hands sweating suddenly.

"Nate! What's going on!" Kensi demanded.

"Something's definitely wrong …" Nate's voice silenced for a moment. "…they've made Callen!" His announcement was enough to throw Sam into gear, and he gunned the running engine, tearing away from their previous parking spot.

"I need to know what's happening in there!" he demanded, his voice like fire.

"We've lost the cam," Eric's voice came back, alarmed and a little scared. "Aldrich got a fist full of Callen's shirt – and the button cam with it."

They could all hear the sound still, and at first, all there was was shouting – and then four rapid gun shots. Sam's stomach flipped over. G had been armed – but with an ankle holster – nothing he could get to easily.

"Mr. Hanna, where are you?" Finally, it was Hetty's voice on the line, and despite her calm tones, Sam could still hear the tension there, resonating in her voice.

"Two minutes, maybe less," Sam spat, then swore as he barely dodged a slow moving tractor, pulling a large yacht behind it into one of the storage buildings. "Hetty, what's going on in there?"

"We've lost visual and comms," was all Hetty could respond with. "Sam, remember protocols when you get there," she said.

Sam wanted to growl in frustration – he was a former SEAL – not an idiot – but still, he might have gone in guns blazing if Hetty didn't reign him in. He chanced a look at Kensi. Her mouth was set in a grim line, hand wrapped around her gun tightly, looking for all the world like an angry mama-bear who was about to protect her cub.

Sam would have grinned if the situation hadn't been so dire. All he could picture was G, lying in the middle of the boat house, bleeding out – just like he had been on the sidewalk.

In seconds, the Challenger was skidding to a stop outside of the boat house, and Sam and Kensi were out of their doors and pressed up against the outside of the building moments later. Sam tried to slow the pounding of his heart, the gun feeling a little too good in his hands. Then he noticed the silence. Kensi seemed to notice it too.

Fear pressed against Sam, and they moved in synchronicity towards the door, and Kensi paused to peek in one window.

"Two bodies on the floor," she said, her voice tight with the strain of trying to stay detached. "I don't see any other movement."

Sam nodded. "Hetty, we're going in – two bodies on the floor – no movement," he said, relaying Kensi's report, then with a swift kick, Kensi blew the door backwards and Sam was through first, gun leveled, searching for any movement. Kensi was right behind him, covering him, but there was no need. The boat house was empty. The two barn-style doors on the far side that led out onto the dock flopped unevenly in the sea breeze.

"Clear," Kensi muttered. Sam nodded, holstering his gun, his heart in his throat as he finally allowed himself to look at the two bodies. One was on his side, clearly dead, a perfect double tap to the chest – and it was Simmons. Anyone with skill could have performed the kill, but Sam recognized G's marksmanship anywhere. He spun wildly to where Kensi was.

She was kneeling by the other body, and for a moment, Sam thought she was crying because of the way her head was bent and the short brown hair that Sam could make out on the victim's head. Then Kensi looked up, her eyes clear and fierce.

"It's Alvarez – he's dead – and I'm pretty sure it was Callen," she remarked, moving so that Sam could see the same double tap.

Sam wasn't sure if he should be relieved or more scared, because looking around, G was no where to be seen, and if he'd gotten the upper hand, he wouldn't be missing. Somehow, he'd gotten the upper hand long enough to shoot two marines – but where was he?

"Hetty, we've got two dead Marines, but no G – can you have Eric trace his cell?" Sam asked quickly, even as Kensi handed him a broken ear wig she'd found on the floor – obviously Callen's – and then she raised her gun again and slowly moved towards the swinging barn door. Sam moved behind her carefully, and in a moment, they burst out onto the dock, but it was deserted.

"Got it!" Eric said triumphantly. "He's only fifteen feet from you…straight out! Wait that would make him…"

"…in the water," Kensi groused. "There was a boat here, at the slip," she added a moment later, seeing several boat lines. "They got on a boat."

"And they tossed Callen's phone in the ocean," Sam growled, straining to see out into the ocean, although he knew it was futile. They knew that Aldrich had a cigarette boat – and a boat like that could have already taken them pretty far out to sea. "Hetty – we've lost G."