Hide And Seek

By DC Lady

Spoilers for Season 1, Episode 14 of NCIS Los Angeles.

Story idea gakked from an old episode of Starsky & Hutch. However, all narrative and dialogue are mine.

It was a typical morning after a particularly hellish case that involved biochem warfare. Callen hated those types of cases, but it had ended well, even though he managed to get infected with botulinum poison. Again. And again, he would've died if it hadn't been for Sam's quick thinking and a really big shot filled with the antidote.

He really hated needles.

At least this time there wasn't an easily persuadable little old lady with way too much knowledge about the stuff to be worried about. The bad guy who concocted this particular batch of botulinum poison was dead.

Callen walked into the bull pen, dropped his bag on the floor, then shoved it underneath his desk with his foot.

"You get the all clear from the doc?" Sam asked.

"Good morning to you, too," Callen muttered, but Sam only looked at him and waited. "You're not my mother, Sam." It was a well-worn statement that didn't faze the big guy one iota. Callen sighed. "The doc's waiting on the last of the blood test results, but so far, everything's checking out normal. He saw no reason for me not to return to work. Satisfied? Or do you need me to get you a note from him?"

"Unnecessary, Mr. Callen. The agency doctor automatically sends those directly to me," Hetty said as she walked up to his desk and handed him a folder. He opened it and grinned.

"When do we start?"

"Immediately," Hetty said.

"What is it?" Sam asked.

"Our next case: Operation Hide And Seek." Callen handed the folder to Sam.

"Morning," Kensi said as she and Deeks entered the bull pen. She stopped in front of Callen's desk. "Did you get the all clear from the medical officer?"

"What is this, a conspiracy? Yes, mother. There's even a note from the doctor." Callen looked over at Hetty who gave him the smallest twinge of her lips.

"Good," Kensi said, sounding way too smug this early in the morning.

"Mr. Callen, a word if you please." Hetty signaled him to her office, for privacy, no doubt.

"Something wrong?"

She nodded. "The Petry case."

"Nothing new has come across my desk." He looked at her closely, not that he was ever very good at getting an accurate reading on where Hetty was heading on any subject. "Do you know something that I don't?"

"I know that the report you submitted is clearly lacking."

Petry was an ex naval officer who decided to go into business for himself with armed forces' technology. He was still on the run with said technology that would garner a lucrative price on the black market. Callen would see to it that Petry didn't get that far.

And it was all in the report. Leave it to Hetty to find something he'd apparently missed, although he couldn't think of what that could be.

"A signature, Mr. Callen," she said and handed him the report along with a pen. "You forgot to sign it."

He grinned, scribbled his name, then handed it back to her. "Sorry. It won't happen again."

"See that is doesn't." She put the folder on her desk, then looked up at him. "Do you still believe that Petry hasn't left the country?"

"We've got him cornered, Hetty. He can't hop a slow boat to China without us knowing about it. It's just a matter of time before he surfaces, and when he does, we'll get him."

"I have no doubt that you will, Mr. Callen." She looked over to Deeks who had his feet propped up on his desk . "Try not to have too much fun at Mr. Deeks expense, will you?"

"You're kidding, right? Operation Hide And Seek never looked so enticing." He turned to leave.

"I'm grounding you to within a thirty mile radius of this location, Mr. Callen. No more overnight stays at the Chateau Marmont for whatever alias you choose to enact this time."

He wondered if she was trying to give Deeks a much needed edge as there weren't many choices in places where he could stay around her specified parameters. Then he grinned. Maybe it was time to brush the dust off an alias who didn't require luxurious accommodations. In fact, he required no accommodations at all.

He straightened when he noticed Hetty watching him with a raised eyebrow. It wouldn't do to peak her curiosity, after all, so he made a hasty retreat.

All right, everyone, we have a new case," Callen said as he entered the bull pen. Sam rubbed his hands together. He'd always loved Operation Hide And Seek. Or maybe it was the chance at teaching newbies the ropes that he loved. Callen always thought Sam would make a great teacher. As for Callen, he just loved the chase, even though technically, he wasn't the one who was doing the chasing.

Kensi raised an eyebrow at Sam, who handed her the folder. She burst out laughing when she opened it. "Oh, this is going to be fun."

"What?" Deeks asked, holding his hand out for the folder. When Kensi didn't give it to him, he looked over to Callen.

"We're about to give you your Suspect Apprehension exam," Callen said. "It's required if you want to continue working with us."

"Exam? But I haven't studied for any exam. I do get to study, right?"

Kensi couldn't stop laughing.

Sam put a hand on Deeks' shoulder. "This isn't a sit down, multiple choice, Deeks. You see, G here will disappear, and you are going to find him. Or else."

All color drained from Deeks' face. He pointed at Callen. "My test is to find Callen? Callen, the super-agent who has about a gazillion aliases and has had enough practice in disappearing off the face of the earth more than anyone I've even heard of? I doubt even Hetty could find him if he didn't want to be found. No offense, man, but can't I play hid 'n seek with Kensi, instead?"

Kensi stopped laughing. "And you think you could find me?"

"Piece of cake. I'd just hang out at that Taqueria on fourth and main each morning when you go to get your breakfast burrito."

Sam looked at Kensi with a frown. "Establishing a routine is deadly in our line of work, Kens. You know that."

"He's just yanking your chain. There are at least five Taqueria's I go to and not the same one twice in a row."

Sam pointed at her. "Make sure you don't."

She rolled her eyes, then turned to Callen. "Are the rules the same?"

"You've done this before?" Deeks' voice squeaked.

"Many, many times," Kensi said.

"And exactly how many of those agents actually found Callen and passed this test?"

"No one has been able to find Callen. Yet," she said, looking a little proud of that fact.

"You have forty-eight hours to find me. I will check-in every hour on the hour. And I will sleep someplace we both know within a thirty mile radius of here. You can also use everything at your disposal to find me, including Sam and Kensi."

"I can see utilizing what I'd normally have at my disposal, but checking in every hour hardly seems fair. I mean, bad guys don't usually call us to check in, do they?"

"This is Callen we're talking about, Deeks. Whether he calls in or not doesn't matter. You'll never find him," Sam said.

"Hey, I'm not complaining," Deeks said. "Okay. Okay. This could be fun, I guess. When do we start?"

Sam and Kensi both gave Deeks identical grins.

"It already has," Kensi said.

Deeks turned every which way. "Where'd Callen go?"