Buckle up…last chapter.
The gunshot reverberated throughout the warehouse echoing for minutes it seemed. Callen's gun, which he had pointing at his own throat jerked away as his head turned to the source of the noise. Sam expecting to see Callen take his own life, jumped at the blast and he too, found the source of the gunshot. Both were surprised and shocked.
"Now that I have your attention boys, put your gun down Callen," said Ziva smiling holding a smoking gun, "and you Michael, let go of the trigger."
"NO!" screamed Sam, terrified at the prospect of the bomb exploding. "Don't! HQ will explode!"
Callen had turned from Sam to Ziva, too shocked to make heads or tails from the new development. His emotional roller coaster had suddenly made a loop-da-loop. He just stared at her, gun by his side.
"Oh Sam it's ok," she said moving closer to Michael, her focus and aim never faltering. "You see boys, I've been following Michael since he arrived in Los Angeles. I've been watching everything he's being doing. I even know what colour briefs he put on this morning. I knew my father's watchdog would come for revenge."
Michael's face was seething with anger and betrayal. "I thought you many things Ziva, but stupid wasn't one of them. It's him over me. But will he forgive the woman who blew up his precious NCIS HQ?"
"Go on let go! But before you do remember this…it was never a competition. You were a mere distraction," Ziva goaded. Michael furious with anger and rage held the remote trigger higher to emphasize its power and he let go of the button. Sam and Callen closed their eyes in anticipation for the explosion, but none came. Everything was quite except for a small and faint laugh. Michael, Sam and Callen looked in shock and disbelief when the scenes at the headquarters remained unchanged. Ziva's laughter became louder.
"What did you do?" screamed a frantic Michael, "what did you do?" Sam and Callen just looked on like bemused children. Everything seemed to be out of their control. Their roles were adlib and they were only along for the ride.
Michael moved forward towards Ziva in a threatening manner, eyeing her maliciously. Ziva straightened her stance and gripped her gun tighter. "You weren't listening. I told you I have been following you. I deactivated the bomb and informed Hetty. You were played Michael," said a very satisfied Ziva.
"Callen untie Sam, and you put your hands where I can see them!"
Then in a blur of a brief moment, Rivkin pulled out his gun and aimed it towards Ziva. She froze but suddenly a hailstorm of bullets rammed into Michael's body. It jerked as he fell to the floor wearing a look of shock on his face. His life drained away. Ziva stood frozen as Callen lowered his gun. "You ok?" he asked her. He was so bewildered by the turn of events, but it didn't stop his reflexes working to perfection.
She caught her breath. Michael was everything she despised but the actual process of killing him was harder than she had led herself to believe. She lifted her eyes from Michael's lifeless and bloodied body and faced a confused Callen. "Thank you," she responded. "Now it's over."
Callen had a many questions. But he knew it just wasn't the time. He turned his attention to Sam whilst Ziva walked over to Rivkin and gently closed his lifeless eyes, frozen in shock at what Callen had done. His death was right. But his loss would weigh on her heart. They had shared a love for years. After a while she crouched and ran her hand through his hair I loved you once but you were too much like my father. Find peace now, she thought.
The LAPD and the rest of the NCIS officers were arriving. Sam was walking around trying to get his blood flowing through his legs again and rubbing his wrists when he noticed a silent Callen watching Ziva. He meandered over, "You did the right thing, G."
"G?" Callen turned to face him with a questioning look.
"You turned the gun on yourself. I thought we were past the whole sacrificing your life for us thing," stated a jaded Sam.
"We are. I've learnt my lesson Sam. But this…this was bigger than you or I. This was NCIS HQ. In this case we were both expendable. It didn't make sense us both dying when only one really had to. After I had killed you, he'd kill me. At least this way you stood a chance," explained Callen. Sam stared at him. He hated it when Callen rationalized things so perfectly.
But Callen's gaze had drifted to Ziva again. Sam could see Callen was anxious to talk to her. He placed his hand of Callen's shoulder, "Go on, I'll meet you at the car."
Callen turned to face Sam, "No wait I'm coming."
"No. You need to talk to her. I'll wait for you at the car," he patted Callen on the shoulder and left the warehouse not before nodding to Ziva, who smiled back.
Callen and Ziva walked towards each other. She looked at him. She had sacrificed so much for him but he was worth every ounce of pain and suffering. He was her light. Now he was safe and she was happy. They looked longingly at each other. "I think we need to talk," said Callen.
Ziva smiled and nodded, "We do."
At NCIS HQ
"You knew. You sent us there knowing that madman would be there. I was tied to a chair. G was aiming a gun at me. I was going to die! Then if that wasn't enough, G aims it at himself," said Sam slowly raising his voice as he towered over the diminutive Hetty.
"Oh Mr. Hanna, so much anger. Calm down. Here sit and have some tea," she grabbed him by the elbow and led him to one of her antiques chairs and pushed him into it. She poured the tea and offered it to Sam who took it begrudgingly. "There. Now the tea is hot so careful." She slowly shuffled to her chair, sat purposefully and looked at Sam, "Mr. Hanna, I didn't count on Mr. Callen reacting that way and I know how it must seem. But it had to be played out that way. He wasn't supposed to die. We just wanted a confession and incarceration. He would've been an invaluable source of intelligence. I had every faith in Agent David. All's well that ends well. You're safe, Mr. Callen is safe, Miss David is safe and Rivkin is dead…it's over," said Hetty.
Sam shook his head, clearly not as accepting of the outcome of the operation. He placed the untouched tea on the table, got up glaring at Hetty and started to walk off. When Hetty spoke, "Please don't turn your back on me Mr. Hanna. I wouldn't do that to you." Sam stopped and looked at Hetty as she continued, "I am sorry. Things went a little too far, granted."
"I don't like being played, you know that Hetty," said Sam seriously.
"That wasn't our intention. Now go home and take a few days off," said Hetty, knowing that a good hot cup of tea wouldn't suffice and she would have to make it up to Sam, somehow someday.
Hetty was looking around for Callen. But he wasn't there. "Eeeric?"
"Yes Hetty?" appeared servile Eric.
"Whereabouts of Mr. Callen?"
Eric started to type in his hand-held. "Driving south heading towards Huntington Beach. Two heat signatures. Car….it's a rental…in the name of Ari Brenner?"
'Thank you Mr. Beale." She knew they were together and she was glad.
They really hadn't spoken since leaving the warehouse. Most of the drive was in silence. They were both coming to terms with the last three months and the final culmination. Where would they go from here? The repercussions were too vast and too abstract to even imagine. Callen drove Ziva to a secluded spot overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. It was one of his favourite spots when he needed time alone, time to heal and time to think. Callen pulled the rental car to a stop and looked at Ziva. She was hiding behind a dark pair of shades. "In here or outside?" he asked.
"I prefer the outdoors." She got out and Callen watched her move so feline-like. The wind gently buffeted her ponytail she wore so high. She found a spot on a small grassy knoll and sat, crossing her legs like a child. Callen followed her and sat beside her, just close enough for intimacy. He hadn't decided what he wanted from this relationship. Maybe he was weary of it all or maybe it was time to settle down. He wasn't sure
Callen drew breath as he took in the physical beauty of the spot he had chosen, then spoke, "I am sorry you got dragged into this. But I'm not sorry that I got to see you again."
Ziva maintained a detached façade. "What do we do Callen? Is there too much hurt and history for us to have a relationship? Can we go forward from this or will the past keep dragging us back to places we don't want to go? I don't know. When I found out who you really were from Gibbs, I couldn't believe that you had lied to me. I hated you. I hated you for a long time that's why I turned to Michael. That's why I never contacted you. I had been betrayed by my father and then by the man I loved. I was hurt."
Callen understood her pain and emotions. Broken hearts were casualties of their line of work, but breaking Ziva's heart felt like he had ripped out his own. "I'm sorry. When I joined Mossad as Ari I had one directive and I fully intended on fulfilling it. I didn't count on falling in love with the director's daughter. The love I had for you was the only true and real thing. It wasn't a lie, Ziva and that love has prevented me from falling in love again."
She still kept looking straight out to the ocean as she said, "But I am his daughter, Callen and every time you look at me, you'll remember everything he did to you. You'll remember the lashings, you'll remember the beatings and the betrayal."
He moved around as to face her, "No I won't."
The force of her emotions made her turn to look at Callen, "Yes, you will and then I will see the suffering you have had to endure because of our love, because of me. I can't do that Callen. I can't see past that. After we rescued you, I saw your broken body and I felt your shallow breath. That image is burnt in my mind and in my heart. It will always be there. It is the guilt I will always bear regardless of the love I have for you."
"I don't know what to say but you're wrong," said Callen meekly, looking anywhere but at her.
"No I'm not. I love you more than life itself but love cannot remedy every thing. It cannot fix two beings as broken as we are. Our lives are not ours Callen. They never have been. We have always been victims of circumstance. Every time we think we have moved on and broken free from our past, it rears its ugly head. We were meant to be alone Callen," philosophized Ziva.
Callen knew Ziva was right. There wasn't space for her or anyone in his life. He had too many enemies and too many skeletons to sustain a healthy relationship. Their lives would always be in danger. "Well, there's nothing left to say then. You know I'll always be there for you. I'll always love you…so friends it is."
"Maybe friends with benefits," she smiled as she took his head in her hands and locked lips, devouring Callen bit by bit.
Back at Headquarters a couple of days later…
"Where'd he go? I can't believe him. He leaves us to clean up the mess," yelled Sam walking back and forth like a bear with a sore head. Kensi and Deeks just looked on amused watching an angry and hurting Sam. He missed his partner.
"Sam he'll be back. He needs time to talk to Ziva. They need to sort things out especially after…well after what happened," said Kensi walking towards Sam. She looked up at him and rubbed his huge bicep, "It's ok. He'll come back."
Hetty was watching Sam fret. "Mr. Hannaaaa?" called Hetty in her sing-song voice. Sam turned around.
"Hetty, I don't have the patience for your -"
"You always have time for me Mr. Hanna. Now sit. Tell me what is ailing you so bad. Could you be suffering for Post-traumatic stress syndrome? I heard sometimes…" said stopped. Sam was looking at her and he was ready to explode.
"…it actually starts to manifest months after a trauma. Nasty thing. Doesn't really discriminate," smiled Callen. "What's up big fella? Having a tet-a-tet with Hetty? Interesting. I suppose you're up-to-date with your reports? Having had all this time on your hands?"
Sam was dumbfounded and Hetty smiled, "All sorted Mr. Callen?" Sam just looked at the both of them wondering why on earth they weren't in a psychiatric hospital. They were both as mad as each other.
"Sorted, filed and stored away for a rainy day," said Callen wearing a calm and peaceful aura.
Hetty smiled, "Good, Jethro will be so happy to hear Agent David will be returning to her post in D.C. Now if you excuse me gentlemen, I have a date with two old friends. It's been a long day." She patted Callen's arm as she walked past him and smiled. Callen returned it.
Then he turned to his confused partner. "Sam?" said Callen frowning, noticing Sam's odd demeanor. Sam remained silent and still bewildered.
Then Kensi came by. She stopped beside Callen turning to give him a hug, feeling protective, "You ok?"
"Yeah…all good. I suppose we were never meant to be," said Callen shrugging his shoulders.
"Sorry but I'm glad things are sorted and I'm glad you're back. I missed you," she said as she gave him a peck on the cheek. Then looking at Sam, "He on the other hand..." and walked away smiling.
Callen understood his partner. Sam missed Callen and that always manifested in anger. "Sam you going to spill? You having another OCD crisis?" said Callen plunking down into a chair next to Sam. All Sam could do is watch in utter disbelief.
"Spill, spill what? And I'm not OCD."
Callen smirked whilst opening the day's newspaper, "If you say so."
"How do you do it? How do you come back from the dead, diffuse a hostage situation and reconcile with an ex-lover and remain…like…all calm, as if nothing happened?" said Sam.
"Oh I have a secret," said Callen closing his paper looking around at the Ops headquarters, his eyes stopping as they focused on each team member.
"Yeah and what's that?"
"I have a family and when I lose my way, as I often do, they help me find the road home," said Callen smiling at Sam. He had a lot to learn and a lot to work through, but he was going to start to make this work. His NCIS family was just too important.
"Now that's what I'm talking about!"
"So we're good?" asked Callen.
"Yeah, we're better than good!"
a/n You wouldn't think I'd kill Callen, did you? ;) This is it. The end. A BIG thank you to the wonderful and faithful reviewers and readers…you know who you are. It's been fun. If you've read my story and haven't reviewed, please don't be shy and send me a line.
I'm particularly proud of the last 10 lines or so (she pats herself on the back ;) Now it's time for a break to explore some other fandoms until the muse hits again or to just enjoy season 3.