Chapter 18: The Rabbit Hole
Callen turned on the spot as Sam and Deeks ran over to them. "Hetty?"
"Agent Callen," The diminuitative opperations manager eyed her team leader. "I was under the impression that I was visiting a team of highly skilled, responcible federal agents. Not a bunch of hooligan teenagers!"
"Hetty," Callen started after a momentary pause. Her surprise visit had caught him off guard- and caught all of them in a bad position. "I can explain…"
"And I look forward to that Mr Callen, after," She paused, keen eyes flickering to the shivering Deeks and Kensi, "you go inside so you children don't get pneumonia."
"Have I mentioned how much I've missed your beautiful words of wisdom, Hetty?" Deeks smiled broadly and took a step towards her.
"March, Mr Deeks," Hetty ordered, pointing to the front door. "Now."
"It's amazing," Sam said quietly to Callen as they trudged to the door, "That one word from Hetty can shut him up when a dozen threats from us do nothing."
"Because Mr Hanna, one word from me is even better than a threat," Hetty supplied from her position at the rear of the group. "And if that's true, you need to work on your delivery."
"Nell! Eric!" Deeks threw open the door and it bounced off the wall. "We've got a visitor."
Eric walked out of his room in a dry hoodie and jeans. The only indication he'd been involved in the water fight was his damp hair. "Hetty. Please tell us you're here to take us home."
"Indeed I am," Hetty nodded and smiled.
"Oh thank god," He groaned, throwing his head back. "I was about to kill someone."
"Everything's okay?" Kensi asked, blinking in surprise. It had been two months since thye'd heard anything from the outside world. Two months of only seeing the team. "You caught them?"
"Yes," Hetty nodded again. "NCIS in Florida caught them operating out of a boat that was travelling up and down the coast."
"We can go home? Our identies aren't compromised any more?" Callen quirried, erring on the side of caution.
"No. In fact you can leave as soon as you've packed."
"Thank you Hetty," Nell appeared, carrying a stack of towels, which she passed to Deeks to pass around the soaking people.
" I couldn't very well have my best people out of the game now, could I?"
"We're the best?" Deeks glanced up, a smug smile on his face.
"She wasn't talking to you," Kensi side swiped him, nudging him in the ribs.
"Well she wasn't talking to you," He retorted, shaking his shaggy hair out and spraying all of them with water. "And I'm going to pack."
"We're actually going home, now aren't we?" Nell asked like she didn't really believe it.
"Yep," Eric nodded. "And we're going to have the biggest WoW marathon ever. After I don't see any of you for like, a week. No offense."
"Two weeks," Sam amended. "And no offense taken."
"What makes you think you're not seeing each other?" Hetty asked in a suspiciously curious tone, as though she already knew the answer. "You have to work together."
"You're not seriously going to send us back to work straight away?" Eric deadpanned, jaw dropping in a comical manner.
"We've just spent months living with each other," Kensi objected with a begging look in her eye. "Hetty please…"
"I told you I was taking you home," Hetty shrugged.
"I'm going to have so many facebook notifications, it will take me at least a week to sort through them all," Eric complained, vainly hoping that she would take pity on them.
"I just want to go home and not hear people talk or snore all night. Hetty, please. You know what they're like," Sam joined in the begging.
"The more you complain, the more paperwork is pilling up on your desk," Hetty warned them.
"Fine," Kensi pouted – the first one to succumb to the famous Hetty glare. "I'll go pack then."
"Can we like not have to see each toehr?" Eric asked, his tone more hopefull than a child begging for presents on Christmas eve.
"Come on," Nell grabbed his wrist and pulled him away. "You're stuff's all over the place. It's gonna take you hours to pack." Sam followed them, knowing that Callen and Hetty wanted to talk.
"So we're your favourites?" Callen leant against the wall and smirked.
"Mr Callen, did I ever let you think otherwise?"
"No. But it's still good to hear once in a while."
"I'll put it in my diary," Hetty's lips curved itno a smile. "You know, my budget was actually in the black these last few weeks."
"Well, we'll have to fix that, won't we?" Callen brushed past her and walked into the room he'd shared with Sam.
"No you won't."
Hetty stood in the middle of the living room and looked around, evaluating it. Aside from the water coating a myriad of surfaces, there were no traces or indentifying markers in the room. Her team had kept their wits for the most part.
"We're all packed," Kensi ambled into the room, fingers dug deeply into her pockets. "The guys are just trying to put everything in the car."
"Is it fitting?" The older woman asked with mirth. The sheer amount of stuff they'd accumulated was proving difficult to get in the car and allow room for them all.
"Nell's making sure it does," Kensi smiled and gave a one shouldered shrug. "It'll fit eventually. Even if we have to tie Deeks to the roof."
"So," Hetty strung out the word and took a step forward. "How was the vacation?"
"It was," Kensi struggled to find a fitting word. "Interesting."
"You learnt more about your team?"
She nodded. "More than I needed to."
"Good," Hetty nodded again, another smile on her lips. "This will make you better in the long run."
"Yeah," Kensi scoffed. "What doesn't kill you, right?"
"We did it," Deeks crowed as he walked in, followed by the rest of the team.
"Everything fits," Callen explained. "And we didn't even have to put Deeks on the roof."
"Pity," Sam muttered loudly.
Hetty ran a finger under the old mantle piece above the fireplace, tutting at the amount of dust and dirt. "I should have known none of you would clean up after your-" She paused as her fingers glided over something smooth that was definitely not wood. "What is this?" She inquired, pulling a manila envelope from the underside, tape and all.
Nell's eye's widened and she sprinted across the room. "No, that's nothing."
"Then why are you turning red?" Deeks asked, ambling over to read over Hetty's shoulder.
The analyst skidded to a stop a few inches before her boss. "Hetty."
"Privacy is a gift in this world," Hetty looked the coltish girl in the eye then handed over the envelope.
"And in this team, non-existent," Deeks yanked it out of her hands and tore it open. Instant polarioids fluttered to the floor, each one of them photos of the team from the last few months. Deeks paled as he recognised one of him and Kensi from the night they all got very, very drunk. "Oh crap."
Hetty glanced down curiously at the photos. "Oh my. What have you been up to? Actually," She held up her hand. "Don't tell me. Ignorance is bliss in this case, I think."
A/N: So this is the end of On The Run. I know not everything is tied up with a pretty ribbon – that's what you're imagination is for. Anyway, I hope you liked this story :D I had fun writing it. Thank you for all your reviews and comments. They mean so much.