A little Callen & Sam adventure.

Sometime in Season 2.

Let me know what you think.

Lady Winter

Sam glanced over at his partner as he drove down the isolated stretch of highway in the late afternoon sun. G Callen was leaned back in the Challenger's seat, head resting against the door frame, dark aviator sunglasses masking his eyes. It was a warm day, but G seemed to be soaking in the sun. He didn't seem at all bothered that his black polo was attracting the sun's rays.

Sam grinned a little. One rarely saw G Callen so relaxed – so secure. Sure, Callen was good at pretending to be relaxed and looking at ease, but anyone that knew him well enough knew that he was always watching, always on edge – always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Even at the office.

Sam counted it as a real compliment that the other agent trusted him enough to look so exposed.

"What are you staring at?" G groused in what sounded like a sleepy tone, but Sam didn't believe for one minute that Callen was nodding off.

"You, sleeping beauty. It's time you got some rest."

"I sleep plenty Sam," Callen retorted in a wounded way. Sam snorted. They both knew it was a lie. G had crashed on Sam's couch enough for the former Navy SEAL to know that G hardly slept at all – more like cat-napped, and then spent the rest of the time wandering, touching, and often destroying.

No wonder Callen barely had anything in his house.

"You hardly sleep at all, G," Sam admonished.

"Haven't we had this mother hen conversation?"

"Yes – and I thought we both came to the conclusion that a little mothering couldn't hurt you."

G shifted a little, and although Sam couldn't see his eyes, he could picture G arching an eyebrow, and he could see the little grin tugging at the corners of his mouth.

"I think that's a conversation you may have had with Hetty. Or Nate. Or both. Not me."

Sam sighed out a laugh. "Have you always been this stubborn?"

"It's only an act I put on for you," Callen replied with a dismissive wave as he straightened up in his seat.

Sam let the comment slide, mostly because in a way, he was a little afraid it was true. G Callen had been many things in his life – he had lived more Legends than many operatives had and that often made Sam wonder. Who was G Callen, really? Every time he thought he really knew his partner and friend, something would crop up – like Tracey – his "ex-wife." Sam understood that past assignments and past legends weren't something you simply discussed, but every now and then, something from the past would come back to rattle Callen's cage – and Sam was left reeling a little, wondering how much of his G Callen was the real G Callen.

It was something that he normally chose not to think about – something he compartmentalized, along with things like how it felt to support G's body as he bled out on a sidewalk in Venice, oranges destroyed by bullets leaking juice around them, making the air fragrant as Sam tried to will his partner to live. He liked to keep all of that neatly tucked away.

Sometimes he still had nightmares about it though. He didn't tell G that.

"Starting to get hungry, Sam," Callen warned in as whiny as a tone as he got, and he shifted again in his seat – impatient as always. Callen wasn't a person that sat still easily.

"Eat a sucker," Sam murmured, searching the cubby between the seats for the bag of tootsie pops he kept there to entertain G. He managed to free one from the bag, saw it was orange and knew G would be pleased. A moment later, G had the sucker in his mouth, wrapper tucked away for Sam for some later date. In a lot of ways, Sam couldn't help but think that G reminded him of his kids.

Sam just shook his head with amusement.

He liked days like these – where the sun was out and nothing was terribly pressing. They were still on a case, but they weren't racing against a clock or preparing to go into armed conflict.

Instead, they were on their way to an impound yard about sixty miles outside of LA where local police had impounded seven identical Ford Fusions that NCIS believed were being used to smuggle guns and sensitive information in and out of local Navy bases. Callen had tasked Kensi and Deeks with hunting down the two Navy Midshipmen and a civilian who's names the cars were registered to. Then he and Sam had set off to actually look at the cars.

Sam had to admit, it was a beautiful day for a drive as they climbed slowly in elevation, the four lane highway they were on largely disused.

They had been riding in companionable silence for a while, and Sam had been occasionally glancing over at G to see what kind of progress he was making with the sucker when he noticed a subtle change in body posture.

Callen turned his head to the right, ever so slightly and the muscles in his forearm tightened.

Sam had seen that behavior before – G was watching something intently without trying to be obvious about it. The way his arm muscles bunched mimicked just how they would look if he was holding his Sig.

"What is it G?" he asked, his voice dropping.

"We're being followed," G responded, sounding mildly surprised and irritated. "Blue Suburban. It's been back there a while…but…"

"You sure you're not just being paranoid?" Sam asked carefully.

Callen scoffed. "Me, paranoid?" His tone was light, but Sam saw his trigger finger twitch a little. "I could be wrong," he admitted. "…but they've been hanging back there a while. No reason to on a road this empty, considering you're doing the speed limit."

"Not everyone speeds, G," Sam pointed out wryly, but he knew that it was unlikely G was wrong about this. His partner had a lifetime of watching over his shoulder and knowing when there was danger and when there wasn't.

"True…" Callen agreed as they came around a bend onto a relatively flat stretch. There were no other cars in sight, and the side of the highway was fringed with small trees and bushes. They were on the inside lane, which had an embankment flanking it, but on the opposite side of the road, the embankment went down a relatively steep hill. "Here they come," G said suddenly, his voice ratcheting up.

"Think we should call it in?" Sam asked, just as he heard the roar of the powerful engine that was driving the Suburban.

"No time," Callen replied, and he was right because just then, the Suburban pulled even with them on the passenger side. "He's got a gun!" G warned, and for a moment – Sam had déjà vu. The SUV was different – not even the right color, but he clearly remembered seeing a man hanging out a black SUV, semi-automatic weapon in hand, gunning G down on the street.

The lapse cost him and he was a little slower than usual to mash his foot down on the accelerator. G was reaching for the glove box to retrieve his Sig, but it was all too late.

The driver opened fire on the Challenger and G swore loudly as glass shattered all around him. Adrenaline pumped through Sam's veins as everything seemed to slow.

Sam had been in a car accident before, but never one cause by gun fire. He could hear the soft thumping as bullet after bullet struck the Challenger broadside. G had slid down a little in his seat, but he was still a prime target as the gun continued firing. Sam couldn't see it, but he could imagine the flame at the muzzle of the weapon even as the front tire blew and the car jerked sharply, and the reaction was made worse by the speed of the Challenger.

It took all of Sam's strength to wrestle the wheel, but the car careened into the opposite lane and then skidded across three feet of gravel, and then it went over. The next few seconds felt like an eternity as the car turned on it's side, barrel rolling down the steep embankment and Sam's forehead smashed into the steering wheel and the world went black.