Life and Death
"I just had a call from the LAPD," Hetty said quietly, and then reached out to steady herself on the wrought iron screen next to Kensi's desk. Kensi rose slowly from her chair, her face tense. Sam sat forward, having never seen Hetty this shaken, as Callen walked to her side and took her arm.
"Hetty, are you alright?" He asked.
"No, Mr. Callen, I'm not." Gathering herself, she took a deep breath and said, "Deeks has been killed."
No one said anything. They were all stunned into silence. Then they heard Kensi murmur a small, "No." as she slowly sat back down, her face slowly dissolving into tears. Sam went to her, lifting her up and wrapping his arms around her as she began to shake, her eyes wide with shock and grief.
"Hetty, are they sure." Callen asked her quietly as he led her to a chair in the sitting area.
"Yes." she replied.
Deeks had been on an undercover assignment for just under two months. None of them knew any details about what that assignment had been, they never did. Deeks was very careful about sharing information on his LAPD work. He kept his work for each agency separate. Although Hetty usually had some idea what he was working on, she never divulged what she knew to anyone else. Callen knew she had more information than she was sharing at the moment, and he was determined to find out what had happened, but he would have to wait for the shock to wear off before pursuing his questions. Some of them, anyway.
"How was he killed?" Callen asked as he brought her a cup of tea.
"In an explosion and fire at a warehouse," she said quietly. Then she did something that Callen had never seen her do. She cried. Tears spilled silently down her cheeks and Callen had no idea what to do or what to say, because he was simply too shocked to comment. This was one of the toughest women he had ever known, always in control, always keeping her emotions in check, at least in the presence of her agents. But the death of this particular agent, had hit her harder than Callen would have expected, since he had only been with them about a year.
Hetty wiped her tears, and offered no apology for shedding them, but she did begin to explain her emotion over the death of Marty Deeks.
"Have you ever made an instant connection with a person, Mr. Callen?" she asked him quietly, not wanting an answer. "Well, that's what I felt when I first met Mr. Deeks. Actually, I probably felt that connection when I first read Deeks' complete file. I had been keeping track of his work for the LAPD ever since he became an undercover officer, but when I began looking for a new partner for Kensi I had one of our analysts research his background. When I read what he had gone through as a child, I felt sympathy for what he had endured, of course, but when I met him in person, his personality was not what I was expecting in someone who had come through those kind of childhood experiences."
She stopped, looking at Callen with that small, enigmatic smile, "He had a joy for life, Mr. Callen, that is rare for an abused child, actually it's rare for most people. And he expressed that joy every day. That is why I connected with Mr. Deeks."
Sam came over to tell them that he was taking Kensi home. They all knew this was going to be a difficult time for her. "Stay with her, Sam," Hetty told him, "she's going to need us if she's to get through this."
After Sam and Kensi left, Callen asked, "Hetty, what was Deeks' assignment?"
"Why do you want to know that, Mr. Callen?" Hetty asked as she walked slowly back to her office.
"Call it professional curiosity," Callen answered, standing resolutely in front of her. She knew he didn't like loose ends, and that he would want to know every detail in order to resolve in his mind what had happened to Deeks and why.
"He was part of an extended stakeout of a possible drug manufacturing ring," Hetty said as she poured herself more tea. "But, you want more specifics, don't you Mr. Callen."
"Yeah, I do," he replied sitting down in front of her desk like he intended to stay a while. "You said stakeout, Hetty. So, he didn't infiltrate this ring, he probably wasn't the primary undercover, so what was his part? Don't you think it's odd that he was killed on a stakeout? Deeks was too good at his job to be spotted during a stakeout. And what was his alias?"
"Mr. Callen, you have a very suspicious nature," Hetty commented as she picked up the phone, "and, so do I"
She made several phone calls and when she was done she looked at Callen and he saw skepticism in her eyes. "First of all, there is no identifiable body, since the warehouse burned to the ground. However, there are witnesses who saw Deeks go into the building right before the explosion." Hetty paused and gave Callen a questioning look. "His alias was a homeless man, a street person that lived in one of the alleys by the warehouse. He was the stakeout, 24 hours a day, for fifty-two days."
"He was a street person? Why would he go into the warehouse?" That puzzled Callen. "Did they tell you who his case officer was? I mean, how did Deeks pass on his information? He had to have contact with somebody."
"Slow down Mr. Callen, those are all good questions" Hetty said and then leaned across her desk and asked, "but here's a better one, who are these witnesses who would notice a homeless man doing anything, let alone a specific homeless man?"
"Something's not right here, Hetty," Callen was starting to get very suspicious and very curious.
The two experienced agents stared at each other as their minds raced through all the questions and all the possible answers. They knew Deeks was very good at undercover work and very inventive with his aliases. He could disappear into an alias and if he was undercover as a homeless man, then they probably wouldn't have recognized him if they passed him on the street.
"We need to talk to those witnesses, Hetty," Callen stood and began to pace. Hetty smiled inwardly, because she knew that look on his face. It was that determination and doggedness that made him one of the best agents she had ever worked with. If there were questions, then he always worked to find the answers, no matter how long it took.
"I'll get the police report," she said. They both knew they would work this as if it were a new case. But, this one was very personal.
"Hetty, you know I don't connect with people very easily," he could almost hear her smile, "but there was something different about Deeks. He was just the opposite. He seemed to connect with everyone. Everyone he wanted to connect with, anyway, except maybe for Sam. I envied him that ability, because I don't think it came naturally to him, I think he worked at it."
Hetty looked over at Callen as he lowered his head, fighting his emotions. "He was fun to be around, Hetty." he said softly, "He made me laugh, hell, he even made Sam laugh while he was annoying the heck out of him. And, he got Kensi to loosen up, maybe more than we know. We have to find out why he was killed, Hetty, or we won't be able to get past this, especially Kensi."
"I know, Mr. Callen, I know."
Joe Sutherland sat in the boat shed looking at two very intense Federal agents. He knew Deeks had been a liaison officer with NCIS, but since he had never talked about it, Sutherland had no idea who these two were. Deeks was a secretive guy, which was probably why he was, or had been, such a good undercover. Sutherland was still in shock over yesterday's disaster, and exhausted from all the questioning he had already endured at the LAPD. He had liked Deeks and he was pretty sure the two people in front of him had too.
"Mr. Sutherland, my name is Hetty Lange, and this is Mr. Callen," She didn't offer to shake hands, she merely sat down and flipped open the file folder in front of her. "You were Mr. Deeks case officer on his last assignment, is that correct?" Sutherland nodded. "Were you the only person he reported to?" Sutherland thought that was an odd question, but he nodded again.
"How did Deeks pass on his intel to you?" Callen asked.
"We had a go-between," Sutherland answered, the exhaustion evident in his voice, "I had an undercover working a couple of days a week as a volunteer at a soup kitchen right down the street. Deeks would go there for dinner and pass on his written notes and a button camera with pics of possible suspects as they entered the warehouse. Deeks would panhandle everybody, so he got great close ups. God, we were so close to busting these guys..." His voice trailed off and then he slammed his fist on the table. He looked at the two agents and told them, "I don't know what went wrong. Our inside undercover was killed, too. But, I can't figure out how they made Deeks, or why he was in that warehouse."
"We would like to talk to the go-between from the soup kitchen," Hetty told him. Then she put her hand over his, and patted it. "We're going to get the answers, Mr. Sutherland and I'm sure we can count on your help to do it."
"I don't know how long I'll be around," Sutherland said, "I've been suspended."
"Why?" Hetty asked.
"LAPD needs somebody to blame for this mess, and you're looking at him." Sutherland rose and ran his fingers dejectedly through his thinning hair and looked at the two Feds. "But, I'll give you my personal number. If you want to know anything, call me. I liked Marty, he was one of the good guys." Then he wrote down the name and number of the go-between and left.
"He had a good operation going there," Callen said looking at the name and phone number the case officer had left, "Maybe it was the inside undercover who got made and then flipped on Deeks."
"You may be on to something there, Mr. Callen." Hetty stood and sighed deeply, shaking her head, and Callen could tell she was angry. "He had no backup. No one he could call on for help when his cover was blown, and it makes me angry that I couldn't convince him to become an agent here with NCIS. If I had, he'd still be alive."
"Hetty, you can't blame yourself," Callen said, trying to reason with her.
"Yes I can, Mr. Callen, and I do." Then she turned away and walked out shaking her head.
Callen arranged to meet Sonya Park at the soup kitchen by the burned out warehouse. He needed to see where Deeks had been working. As he stared at the remains of the warehouse, his head filled with more unanswered questions, and with the revelation that Hetty had offered Deeks a full time position as an agent. The first six months they had worked with Deeks, not one of the team could see him as an agent, except for Hetty. But a couple of weeks ago he and Sam had talked about it, and even Sam was beginning to see Deeks' potential. Now, it just made him sad to think about it.
"Mr. Callen, I'm Sonya Park," Callen looked down to see a small Asian woman with short-cropped hair and wearing purple glasses. She was still undercover, he thought.
She led him inside the soup kitchen and introduced him as a potential donor, and then ushered him into a small back office. As she sat down across from him and began to speak, her voice broke and she had to take a minute to collect herself.
"I apologize, Mr. Callen, but Marty was a friend," she said, "We had been undercover together before. He got me out of a rough situation once, and I wish I could have done the same for him this time."
"Did he give you any hint that he thought his cover was blown?" Callen asked.
"No, he thought we had just about all the intel we were going to get," she said her voice edgy and sharp, "I saw him two days before he died. He came in with one of the homeless guys he hung out with, and we managed to talk briefly, before the guy interrupted us. He never let Deeks out of his sight for long. Marty said he was a Gulf War vet who had suffered a severe head wound that caused brain damage and ended up on the street. He thought Marty was one of his old buddies from Iraq. If you can find him, he might be able to tell you why Marty went into that warehouse. That's the one thing that doesn't make sense to me. There was no reason for him to go in there."
After getting the name of the homeless veteran, Callen walked down the alley, asking the street people if they knew the guy. He wasn't having much luck until an old, white haired man crawled out of a cardboard box and ran into him. He knew the vet and pointed to a low entrance to the brick building across from what was left of the warehouse.
As Callen turned to walk towards the opening, he saw a scraggly dressed man emerge. He had tangled, long black hair, and wore a floppy camouflage hat. He was moving fast and talking to himself. Callen stepped in front of him and said his name. "Zozo?" The man looked at him blankly, as if he wasn't there, and just walked around him without saying a word. Callen decided to follow him.
Zozo stopped at the soup kitchen and loaded up on corn bread and pieces of fried chicken, stuffing them into an old beat up backpack with Star Wars characters on it. He didn't stay still for a second, always moving and always mumbling to himself. Then he hurried out the front door and almost ran down the alley, turning the corner and running into a health clinic that had been set up for the homeless by the same people who ran the soup kitchen. Callen heard someone shout inside, and as he opened the door to see what was going on, Zozo rushed past him, almost knocking him over. Callen stayed to ask what had happened.
"Is this guy, Zozo, a regular here?" he asked one of the women cleaning up a turned over med cart.
"We've seen him here before, but he refuses to take meds, and that's why this is so weird," the older woman said, "he came in asking for Vicodin, and when I wouldn't give it to him unless I examined him, he stole it off the cart."
"Do you have any records on him," showing the woman his badge. She didn't have much, but she did have his full name and his social security number. Callen got Eric on the phone to begin a run down on this guy. Callen was getting very curious about Alonzo "Zozo" Davis.
By the time Callen got back to the OSP Center, Eric and Nell had a complete file on Sergeant Alonzo Davis. When Nell put his service photo up on the screen you wouldn't know it was the same person. It showed a handsome young man, clean-shaven, with dark eyes and a slight smile. Nothing like the haunted man Callen had followed.
"Davis was a Gulf War vet, and a decorated one," Nell reported, "He did two tours as a medic, his last tour ended when he went out after a wounded soldier in the street during a firefight and got hit in the head by shrapnel. After getting out of the hospital, he lived with his brother for a while, but after a physical confrontation between the two, Davis ended up on the street."
Just as Nell finished, Sam came in. "Whose that guy?" he asked dejectedly, "new case?" Callen looked at Hetty to see if she wanted to let Sam in on what they were doing. She nodded.
"Sam, we're investigating Deeks' death." Callen informed his partner. Sam's head snapped up and his eyes widened. "Why?" he asked, "I thought it was a blown LAPD case."
"Too many unanswered questions," Callen told him as he walked closer to the screen. "And you know how I hate unanswered questions."
"Who's this guy?" Sam asked sharply.
"He's a homeless vet that hung out with Deeks during his assignment," Callen shared, "one of Deeks' contacts says this guy Zozo hardly let Deeks out of his sight, thought he was an old army buddy. I want to talk to him about why Deeks went into that warehouse, but I'm not sure he's all there mentally enough to even answer a question."
"Well, what are we waiting for," Sam said walking towards the door, "let's go see what he says."
It was late afternoon when Callen and Sam walked through the alley looking for the small opening into the brick building Zozo had come out of. Most of the street people had gone down to the soup kitchen for their dinner, so the alley was mostly deserted.
"Deeks was down here as a homeless guy for fifty-two days?" Sam was amazed. "No shower, no bed, same smelly clothes. How did he do that?"
"He's stronger than he looks," Callen said, and then caught himself, "it's hard to believe he's gone, isn't Sam? How was Kensi doing when you left her?"
"She's devastated, G. I think she was in love with the guy." Sam said sadly to Callen.
"Yeah, I think we all figured that out before she did." Callen bent down to look inside the opening in the building.
"Do you think Deeks loved her?" Sam asked his partner as they stepped inside the dark abandoned building.
"He would have been crazy not to." Callen said as he pulled out a flashlight and scanned the interior. A large rat ran along a back wall, as they stepped over old mattresses, and scattered wine bottles. The interior was a labyrinth of cement walled rooms, with water pooled in low spots on the floor and the whole place had a rank smell. They wandered from room to room, hoping to see some indication that Zozo was living there. As they came around a corner, they stopped as they heard something hit the floor in one of the rooms up ahead. They moved forward slowly and as quietly as they could, not wanting to scare Zozo into running away. They both thought he was the one person who could tell them what Deeks had been doing right before the explosion that killed him.
Callen knelt down next to the door with Sam on the other side. They could see light coming from a smaller room inside, shadows of someone moving back and forth, played against the gray concrete wall. Then they saw Zozo. He walked out of the small room and disappeared into another one to Callen's left, his footsteps fading as he got further away. Callen motioned for Sam to follow him inside, and they quietly crossed into the space, hoping to talk to Zozo when he came back. Then they heard someone cough, then a low moan, coming from the lighted room. Callen looked quizzically at Sam, who drew his weapon and stepped into the small room. Lying on an old mattress on the floor was Deeks.
Sam almost dropped his gun in shock, as he stopped abruptly, causing Callen to bump into him.
"Deeks!" Sam shouted, his voice echoing off the walls. Callen stared down at the man they all thought was dead and a smile creased his face. Sam knelt down beside him. "Deeks, can you hear me?" Sam asked quietly, shaking his shoulder.
Suddenly a figure crashed into Callen, knocking him to the floor. It was Zozo, and he held a broken two-by-four over his head, threatening to hit Callen. Sam stood up and pointed his gun at the homeless vet, "Drop it, now," his voice loud and commanding in the small, enclosed space.
"No," Zozo yelled back at Sam, "I won't let you kill him."
Callen held his hand up as he rose from the floor, "Zozo, we're not trying to kill him, he's our friend."
"I don't believe you. You don't even know his real name" Zozo said and he began to shake, "I saw you at the soup kitchen with that lady who works there. She works for the guys that tried to kill Jimmy."
Callen and Sam looked at each other, not understanding what Zozo was trying to say. They didn't want to shoot him, because he obviously was trying to protect Deeks, but they needed to get the two-by-four out of his hands, so they began to spread out, confusing him. He looked from one to the other, becoming more and more agitated. Finally, he swung the board at Callen, and Sam jumped him from behind, wrestling the board away from him. He stared at them, his eyes wide with fear, then he scrambled back towards Deeks, shielding him from Sam and Callen.
"Sam, put your gun away," Callen said softly, as he slowly sat down on the floor with his legs crossed. Sam did what he asked and then joined Callen on the floor.
"We promise not to hurt him, we just want to know how he is," Callen spoke as calmly as he could. "We can see you took good care of him. What kind of injuries does he have, Sergeant Davis?" His voice taking on the sound of a command.
Zozo looked down at Deeks and then back at Callen, and then began a battlefield report. "He has a severe concussion from hitting the wall, sir, and some contusions and lacerations to his head and face. He suffered a collapsed lung and burns on his back and right arm. His left leg is broken, but I put a splint on it and it should be fine, sir."
"Good job, Sergeant," Sam nodded to Zozo. "The evac unit should be here shortly to take him back to the field hospital for treatment. I'll go check on their ETA. Carry on, Sergeant." Sam stood and walked out of the room. As soon as he was clear he sprinted for the alley, grabbing his phone as he went, calling Hetty as he exited the building.
"Hetty, Deeks is alive! He's badly hurt but he's alive," Sam told her where to send the ambulance. Then he leaned back against the building smiling as tears brimmed in his eyes.
Kensi almost didn't answer the door when she heard the knock, pulling the covers over her head. But the knocking was persistent, so she stumbled out of her bedroom to the door. She was surprised when she saw it was Hetty, and she prepared herself for a sermon about the trials of life and how to survive them. She usually got something out of Hetty's pep talks, but she didn't want to hear one today, please, not today. Her heart was breaking and she knew as soon as Hetty mentioned Deeks' name she would lose it.
"Hi, Hetty," she said, managing to seem somewhat in control of her emotions, but for some reason Hetty had a small smile on her face that seemed very inappropriate today. She pushed the door wide as she entered Kensi's living room, taking the young woman's arm and leading her over to the couch. When they were seated, Hetty's smile grew and Kensi started to get a strange feeling in the pit of her stomach.
"Kensi, he's alive," Hetty said softly, patting her hand and watching her face go from incredible sadness to euphoria in seconds.
"How, Hetty? You said LAPD confirmed he was dead. Where is he? When can I see him, and why didn't he call us?" Kensi knew she was babbling, but she couldn't stop herself.
"He's badly injured, Kensi, and I've come to take you to the hospital. They're bringing him in now, so let's go." Hetty was still worried about him, but he was alive, the "cheeky bastard" was alive.
After Sam left, Callen moved closer to Deeks to see if he could talk with him, but he was still unconscious. Zozo was still protective of his patient, and Callen realized that was how he thought of Deeks, like one of the men he cared for in Iraq.
"How was 'Jimmy' injured, Sergeant?" Callen asked, keeping the military aspect in place and making sure he called Deeks by his alias.
Zozo started to get agitated, and Callen was afraid he was going to take off again, but he didn't want to leave Deeks. "Jimmy was always watching that warehouse, and he always talked to the people going in and out, asking for money and stuff." Zozo paused to check on Deeks when he began to cough. "Last night, the guys who run the kitchen and the clinic went inside, and Jimmy got real curious and he started buggin' 'em for money. He followed them inside and he saw something that made him real upset. When he came back he told me not to follow him like I always do, cause it was too dangerous."
Zozo stopped talking, and started changing the bandage around Deeks' head. He was meticulous, cleaning the wound and tying the bandage neatly. Callen knew he was getting just a glimpse of what Sergeant Zozo Davis was like when he was a medic in Iraq.
When he finished, he picked up the story just where he left off. "Jimmy got a gun he kept and went back over there. I snuck up to the door and looked in, and the guys from the clinic had somebody tied up and they were hitting him and then one of them stabbed him. He looked bad. Jimmy pointed the gun at them and told them to stop. Jimmy's a good man. I should have helped him, but I was scared. I didn't use to be scared of anything, but that was before I got hurt in the war."
He stared off into the shadows for a while. Callen didn't want to rush him, but he needed to find out what happened, so he encouraged him to tell him if the men hurt 'Jimmy'.
"Yeah. I couple of men came up behind him and hit him in the head and he fell down and didn't move. The guys from the clinic started yelling and I saw the guys who hurt Jimmy start putting explosives all around like the kind we used in Iraq. So, I ran back over here. I was worried about Jimmy, but I was scared."
Deeks started coughing again and then opened his eyes. They seemed unfocused, and he tried to talk, but he couldn't seem to catch his breath. He turned toward Zozo and saw Callen, and a smile flashed across his face.
"How did you find me?" Deeks barely whispered.
"I just followed Zozo. How you doing?" Callen asked him as he began to cough again.
"He saved my life," Deeks said, closing his eyes as he grimaced in pain.
Zozo immediately grabbed the bottle of Vicodin that he stole from the clinic, and held Deeks head up so he could take a couple. Then he helped him get comfortable before going on with his story. Deeks seemed just as interested as Callen.
"The warehouse guys started loading stuff onto trucks and then they left, but the guys that hit Jimmy sat in a car in the front of the warehouse. I knew they couldn't see me, so I went back to help him. I got him up and just as we got outside the big doors he told me to run, and then the warehouse exploded."
Zozo began to rock back and forth and his breathing became rapid. Callen thought he was going to pass out, but then Deeks started talking to him and he began to calm down.
"There was fire and chunks of the building all over the place, and I couldn't find him", Zozo whispered. "but I kept looking until I did. You don't leave a man behind." Then Zozo stood up and walked quickly out of the room and they could hear him running.
"An ambulance is on the way, Deeks," Callen told him, "will Zozo be upset when he comes back and you're gone?"
"Probably," Deeks said softly, "I'm never sure how much is real to him or if he thinks he's back doing a tour in Iraq."
"LAPD told us this morning that you'd been killed," Callen told him.
"Yeah, I can see how they might think that." Deeks stared at the ceiling, his breathing shallow. "I should have called Joe Sutherland, my case officer, when I saw they had Rodriguez tied up over there, but there wasn't time. I should have gone in shooting, but I thought it would get him killed. Some undercover cop, huh."
"Deeks, you tried, you're just one guy" Callen said trying to reassured him, but he could tell Deeks wasn't convinced.
"How are you not dead, Deeks?" Callen asked him, "Have you seen that building?"
"I should be," Deeks shook his head like he couldn't believe it himself. "I can't tell you how shocked I was when Zozo pulled me out of there. Callen he was like a different person. His voice was strong and commanding, and he got me up and moving, and then the world exploded and I woke up here. Zozo told me the blast threw me into the wall of this building. I should be dead, and I would be if it wasn't for him."
"Kensi broke down when Hetty told us this morning," Callen said, "and so did Hetty. I think they would have really missed you, Deeks." Then he laughed softly as he saw that cocky grin appear on Deeks battered face.
"Everybody would miss me, except maybe Sam," Deeks smiled briefly, but then his face turned serious. "Why did you come down here, G?"
"Unanswered questions that Hetty and I had about your death." Callen said, "Some things didn't make sense." Callen stopped as he heard something behind him. "Callen look out," Deeks warned, trying to rise, as two men attacked Callen. He managed to knock down one of the men, but before he could draw his gun, the other man hit him with a small club and he collapsed unconscious to the floor.
Deeks recognized them from the soup kitchen, they were street people. "What the hell are you doing?" But the men didn't say a word, they just reached down and grabbed Deeks by the arms and jerked him to his knees. Blinding pain coursed though his body, and the room started spinning. He fought to stay conscious, as they roughly started to haul him out of the room. When he tried to resist, the bearded guy, kicked him viciously in the ribs and he passed out. Then they dragged him out of the room and disappeared into the darkness of the building.
Zozo watched and then silently followed.
Sam led the paramedics through the dark maze of the building. He was cheerful for the first time today. He only wished he could have been there when Hetty told Kensi the good news. She must have been soaring. Deeks' death had hit them all hard, but he was surprised at his own reaction. At first he was just concerned with consoling Kensi, but after he took her home and he had time to himself, he got physically sick over the loss of one of the most annoying guys he knew. It surprised him. Deeks was one of a kind, and Sam knew he would have missed him terribly.
As they got close to Zozo's room, Sam called out to his partner that they were coming in, but when he got no response, he immediately pulled his weapon and motioned for the paramedics to wait. He moved slowly into the room, listening for any sound and all his senses on full alert. He stepped quickly around the wall of the small room where they had found Deeks, his gun leading the way, and almost tripped over Callen lying unconscious on the floor. Sam yelled for the paramedics, and knelt beside his partner.
"G, G wake up!" Sam kept saying, looking around for Deeks. He was getting a very bad feeling. Who knew Deeks was still alive, accept NCIS, maybe LAPD and Zozo.
Callen finally came around and was shocked and very angry that Deeks had been taken, especially with himself for letting it happen. How was he going to explain it to Kensi and to Hetty.
"What the hell is going on here, Sam," he wanted to know, but the only things that came to mind were more questions. "Kensi and Hetty are going to roast me, Sam. We find him alive and then I let him get kidnapped."
"You're right G," Sam agreed, "They are going to roast you and Kensi's probably gonna eat you for dinner."
"How did they know he was still alive?" Callen wondered as the paramedics finished putting a small bandage over the cut on his head.
"G, we better find him, and fast," Sam said helping Callen out the door, "he wasn't in very good shape when we found him. That collapsed lung needs to be treated right away, or he could really die this time."
"Why did they kidnap him? If they knew he was a cop, why not just shoot him?" Callen remarked as they finally exited the building. "Sam, we have to find him. I'll call Hetty, and let her tell Kensi."
Deeks woke to sharp pains in his chest, and he could hardly breathe. His head hurt so badly that he was having trouble focusing on the man in front of him. The guy looked familiar, but he couldn't concentrate; the pain was too great. He had no idea what they wanted, but he was pretty sure they would let him know.
"You stink, Jimmy," the man said. He was a large man, with a baldhead and bad skin. Deeks thought he looked like an old movie star, but he couldn't remember his name. Then the man slapped him hard across the face, and his mind sharpened and his anger came close to the surface. What the hell did this guy want?
"You knew Rodriguez, didn't you, Jimmy," the man said slapping him again and then again.
Deeks' head began to spin, and nausea overcame him, and he vomited on the guy's shoes. That earned him a punch in the stomach that let him slip into the shadows, barely able to hear the question, let alone answer it.
"Who are you, Jimmy?" He thought that was what the guy asked, but he wasn't sure. "Where did you get the gun?" Each question was punctuated by a slap or a hard punch in the ribs. Suddenly, he couldn't breathe, and his chest was on fire. I'm dying, he thought, and then darkness invaded his mind.
Zozo huddled just outside the clinic where they had Jimmy. He didn't know what to do. The enemy had his patient and he was alone, without the squad. The two men he spoke to earlier, they might help him, but he wasn't sure which unit they were with. If he left to find them the men inside might hurt Jimmy. He was sure they already had, because he had heard the cries of pain. No, he knew he had to help Jimmy himself, but he was very scared.
Callen and Sam sat in their car and went over all the information they had on what had happened right before the explosion and what Zozo told Callen about that night.
"We know Deeks followed the guys from the soup kitchen into the warehouse. But, what guys?" Callen wondered.
"Deeks saw that they had Rodriguez and came back for his gun to pull a rescue," Sam reasoned. "He knew there wasn't time for LAPD to get there to save his partner so he went in alone."
"He really is fearless, and a little bit reckless," Callen said, "but you know we would have done the same."
"Yeah, and he didn't have backup like we do, he was on his own" Sam admired what Deeks had done and he wanted to find him and make him safe. "G we have to do something, now!
"You're right, Sam," Callen agreed, "but first, I want to ask Sutherland about the people that run this soup kitchen and clinic." He reached for his phone just as Kensi pulled up next to them. Sam got out to see how she was doing, and he could tell by the stormy look on her face that she was furious and ready for battle.
"Why aren't you looking for him?" she demanded and her eyes were flashing that dangerous look they all avoided if it was directed at them. Callen better step lightly, Sam thought.
When Callen got out of the car, his face was flashing some danger signs, too. "Sam, the owners of the soup kitchen and the clinic are the witnesses that placed Deeks in the warehouse before the blast. And, according to Eric, they also owned that warehouse."
"Looks like they were using their charity work to cover up their real business, making drugs." Sam said as he checked his weapon.
"They were making them here in the warehouse and probably selling out of the clinic." Callen rounded the car and gave Kensi a quick hug. "I'm sorry, Kensi," intensity coloring his eyes.
"I need to find him, Callen," she said quietly with a determination they were all feeling. They thought they had lost him once today, and they never wanted to feel that sickening pain again.
They headed for the clinic.
Zozo hadn't heard anything for a while, so he decided to peek through the window. He was shaking bad, he knew, but he had to see if Jimmy was OK. What he saw scared him even more, and he fell over some boxes stacked by the wall. He knew they saw him and he tried to get up and run but they grabbed him and dragged him inside, screaming.
Deeks was on his hands and knees on the floor when he heard Zozo scream and begin babbling. Deeks knew how scared the veteran could get about minor things, and this must have put his fear into overdrive. Deeks somehow managed to rise to his knees, just as they pushed Zozo down on the floor next to him. He began to talk softly to him to try and calm him, but Zozo wasn't buying.
"This is your crazy friend, right, Jimmy?" the bald man asked him, jerking him away from Zozo and pulling him up by his hair.
"He's not crazy, you bastard," anger flooded through him as he fought the pain in his chest, "He was wounded in Iraq."
The bald guy just laughed and then kicked Zozo in the stomach. "Shut up, you moron!"
Deeks lost it then and charged the bald man, hitting him square in the stomach with his shoulder and knocking him to the floor. He landed on top of the jerk and began pounding him in the face with his fist as many times as he could before the two street guys who had taken him dragged him off. His vision began to go gray from his effort, and he slumped between the two men. He knew what was coming but he had no more strength to fight as the large bald man stood up and kicked him in the chest.
Zozo was shocked into silence when he saw Jimmy attack the bald man. But when the bald man kicked him in retaliation, Zozo felt something he had not felt in a long, long time, anger. He felt it rise up and almost choked him. The men were standing over Jimmy, who was lying unconscious on the floor, and Zozo stood up and walked to the desk where the bald man had left his gun. Their backs were turned and they didn't see him pick it up. He calmly pointed it at the two men in front of him. His hands did not shake, he wasn't scared, and if the men had seen his face, they would have seen the face of a soldier. Zozo fired. Both men fell, leaving only the bald man standing.
"Hold on now, man," the bald man held up his hands in supplication as he backed away. He saw Zozo's face and the steadiness of his hand and he was afraid.
Zozo calmly fired twice. The bald man died on his back staring at the ceiling.
Kensi, Callen and Sam raced around the corner and were almost to the clinic when they heard the gunshots. They stopped and a look of horror passed between them. Kensi started shaking and Sam had to grab her arm to keep her on her feet. Callen charged through the door, followed closely by Sam. Kensi couldn't bear to look. She couldn't lose him twice in one day.
What they saw stunned them. Sitting in the middle of the floor, surrounded by three dead men was Zozo, holding an unconscious Deeks in his arms.
"Zozo, is he alive?" Callen asked quietly as he holstered his weapon and knelt down by the veteran.
"Yes." He said peacefully. "I couldn't let them hurt him anymore."
"You did good, soldier," Sam told him as he pulled Kensi inside. She ran to Deeks' side, trying to control her tears, without success. Her hand trembled as she reached out to touch him, something she thought she would never be able to do again.
"Are you Fern?" Zozo asked her softly, "Jimmy told me all about you. I think he loves you."