Callen had been told to take another month's leave. He visited his extended family with Hetty. He shared in their loss as he heard stories of his family and his mother. He was beginning to understand who he was.
Starting from Dom's kidnapping, every twist and turn in the recent months had led him right here, standing in front of his parents' grave. He stood there looking at the two head stones and thinking of how much he'd lost but also of what he had gained. Now he knew who he was and who his real family was. He wasn't alone anymore. Finally he could stop searching, finally he could stop running and finally he could buy furniture and settle down.
He hadn't heard her arrive. "Life was cruel to them, at least in death they're together. Oh Bella, the youngest and the one who always needed saving," said Hetty looking nostalgically at the graves.
Callen turned to see her as she placed white lilies on the graves.
The moment was somber but Callen had risen above it all now. Now was the time to start afresh and maybe start to see the glass half full. "Out of all this, you know what the biggest shock was Hetty?" asked Callen staring at the graves.
"I couldn't imagine where you'd start Callen," she smiled. "Uncovering your past has been quite a thriller, wouldn't you say? Not a Pulitzer but a bestseller at least…" she said teasing knowing full well what Callen was going to say.
"The biggest shock was that I was born in Australia...Aunt Hetty," he smiled then broke into a belly laugh. "Do I get special treatment now…you know extra days off…a lollypop if I'm a good boy?" he joked seeing the reaction on her face, that of pure delight and happiness.
Hetty laughed with him. She hadn't laughed in such a very long time. "You scoundrel…so you're an aussie by birth," she said in a very over-accentuated Australian accent looking at Callen. But then her smile started to fade as her face went serious and she said earnestly, "Callen I am sorry I never told you. I knew about the foster homes and all the times you run away or lived on the streets. It was the only way to keep you safe. I know it sounds ridiculous but …"
Callen looked at Hetty then back to the graves. "So many wrongs Hetty in this whole story. We all did what we thought was right at the time…we all made mistakes and we are all victims of our own failings and circumstance. We've both lost so much. But you kept your promise by keeping an eye on me and for that I need to thank you. I always knew I had a guardian angel…tiny but tough. You had my back, I know. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you," said Callen turning to his aunt and giving her a brilliant smile.
Hetty was grateful. She too had lost so much but Callen was alive and so was her baby sister, living through her son. "You haven't made it easy Callen. But I can assure you that I'll keep that promise to your father until the day I die," said Hetty smiling back at Callen. Then very uncharacteristically she grabbed his hand, gave it a kiss and patted it. Then she turned his hand palm up. Callen looked at her quizzically. Smiling like the cat that ate the rat, she placed a key in his palm and closed his fingers over it and whispered, "A present from your father."
a/n I can't believe it's over. Whoa! A very big thank you to all you wonderful readers who reviewed and favourited (new word) the story. I hope you enjoyed the journey as much as I enjoyed writing it. To think it started as a mere 2-3 chapter story…ooh those plot bunnies New stories on the horizon.