Author's Note: This is the last chapter; thank you so much for all the reviews, alerts, favorites, and PM's! You guys have inspired me on a writing kick, and I have actually started a couple of other plots I had. I had fun writing this chapter...I hope you all enjoy it. Thanks for sticking with the story, and I hope to see you all next time! Cheers! –Elle
Hetty prided herself on being a good judge of people. That judgment came from the ability to observe, quietly. For the week and a half after her team-building exercise, she did nothing but observe her agents.
There were little things the first day; the camaraderie between Eric and Nell seemed to increase, Deeks seemed more comfortable with the team, Kensi laughed genuinely, and she had even caught Callen smiling once. But time wore on, she observed even more.
One afternoon, Hetty overheard a heated discussion between Callen and Deeks.
"You acted out of line, Detective!" Callen was yelling. "What were you thinking, jumping in like that?"
"I was trying to save your life!" Deeks snapped back. Kensi and Sam seemed to be trying to blend into the wall behind the bullpen. Hetty hadn't seen either man that upset in a long time.
"I was wearing a vest, you weren't!" Callen snapped, his face inches from Deeks's.
"I didn't know that!" Deeks shot back, every bit as angry as Callen.
Hetty wondered if she should go down and separate the two men, but decided to wait a moment more.
"Then you should have checked!" Callen yelled.
"What was I supposed to do? 'Oh, Callen, that guy behind you has a gun and is a second away from pulling the trigger, are you wearing a vest?'" Deeks snapped. "I saw him aim; I pushed you out of the way. I didn't think."
"You almost got killed!" Callen snapped, a little fire gone from his voice.
"So did you!" Deeks snapped back.
"Be more careful next time!" Callen turned on his heel and stormed towards the training room. "And Deeks?"
"What?" Deeks yelled back.
"Thanks." Callen slammed the door to the training room loudly.
Hetty smiled to herself and went on with her paperwork.
A day later, she heard Kensi and Sam talking as she walked by the bullpen.
"So…Sam…" Kensi was saying, hesitantly.
"Yeah, Kens?" The ex-SEAL looked up.
"You remember a little while back, that loser I was telling you guys about?" Kensi said conversationally. "You know, the one that I mistakenly went on a second date with? The one that almost didn't take no for an answer until I pulled my gun?"
"I remember." Sam said, a strange tone in his voice.
"Well, funny story. I ran into him at the coffee shop this morning…he had a huge black eye and he acted like he had seen a ghost. He took one look at me and ran out, dropped his latte and everything." Kensi cocked her head at her friend. "Would you know anything about that?"
Sam choked on a sip of coffee. "I…no. Not a thing." He shook his head quickly.
"Uh..huh." Kensi nodded, her face displaying her suspicion. "Why do I not believe you?"
"How do you know he didn't run because you scared him? A girl pulling a gun on him is bound to give the guy the creeps."
"Because I have seen him in that coffee shop before and he never acted like that." Kensi said, smiling slowly. "And this only happened after you dragged the full story out of me last week…coincidence?"
"Must be." Sam shrugged.
"Uh huh. Sure." Kensi grinned. "What did you do to him? Come on."
"I'm going to plead the Fifth there, Kens. Sorry." Sam hurriedly stood. "I think I'm on the lunch run."
"It's ten thirty!" Kensi said in surprise. "Sam…Sam!"
Hetty silently went on her way, smirking to herself.
A day or so later, she overheard the whole team cheering in the training room. Curious, she poked her head in the room. She was surprised to see Nell attempting to scale the climbing rope. The whole team was shouting encouragement as the small young woman finally reached the top, clinging for dear life.
"Go girl!" "Rock on, Nell!" "Congrats!" Various cheers erupted in the room, Nell beaming with pride as she looked down.
"I made it!"
"We always knew you could!" Eric shouted up to her.
Hetty had to restrain a laugh as the entire team tried to coach Nell on the proper way to descend the rope, every one with a different idea. Finally, the analyst seemed fed up with the conflicting information and slowly descended on her own, the blush of victory still on her cheeks. She stepped down into the middle of hive fives, shoulder claps and a hug from Kensi. Hetty ducked back out as quietly as she ducked in.
Her idea seemed to be working...time to put the second part of her plan into action. Six white envelopes were placed subtly on six desks. She had a feeling the agents would enjoy this part much more than the last one.
A few days later she watched as each agent arrived at her home-well, one of her homes. They all looked surprised as they greeted Hetty and each other. Receiving an invitation to Hetty's home was a shock in itself, but to find they all received one was unheard of.
"Welcome, welcome! Please, come with me." Hetty ushered them toward the wide, luxurious dining room off of the main foyer. She heard the six fall into step behind her.
"Hetty, what is this all about?" She heard Callen ask as she pushed open the double doors. He broke off. "Oh…"
A complete Thanksgiving dinner was set, with seven chairs pulled close around the table. Candles brightened the room, which was adorned in cheerful fall décor.
"Hetty, is this for us?" Kensi said in a quiet, stunned voice.
"Yes, Ms. Blye; I felt that this would be an appropriate reward for cooperating with my little…whim last week." She smiled at her team, pleased with their varying expressions. She had been honored to learn how much the team relied on her and needed her. Indeed, they seemed to have her motives pretty figured out, but she still relished the fact she could surprise the stuffing out of them.
"Hetty, you didn't have to." Nell said quickly.
"Oh, I know, Ms. Jones. But I wanted to." Hetty motioned. "Please, please, sit."
"Thanksgiving isn't for another week, Hetty. Why now?" Sam asked in polite confusion.
"Maybe because I did not want to intrude on any personal plans any of you might have had, maybe because I am an impatient old lady."
"You, Hetty? You are neither old nor impatient." Callen said laughing as the team sat down slowly at the ornate table.
"Thank you for the sentiment, Mr. Callen." Hetty sat at the head, surveying her team.
"If we could all bow our heads and say grace in our own way." She said quietly. All complied, and after a minute or so, Hetty said. "That will do." Hetty smiled. "Now, let's dig in." She motioned to the food.
Through the entire dinner there was banter, laughter, and an ease that reflected in every agent's face. Finally Hetty motioned everyone to silence.
I just want to say a few words before we leave tonight." She folded her hands and looked at each agent slowly.
"Over the past week or so, I have been watching you. Mr. Deeks, please refrain from whatever reference or supposedly witty one liner you just thought of."
Deeks looked surprised. "How do you do that?"
Hetty continued without acknowledging the detective. "We have all worked with each other a long time. We have learned to trust, to respect, even to tease one another. But I want you to know that I have never seen this unit operate as closely as it did this past week. Your arguments." She glanced at Callen and Deeks. "Are not without caring, and your protectiveness" –A glance at Sam- "for your teammates is admirable. Even a simple challenge that a friend is overcoming brought you together. I am proud of each and every one of you."
The whole team seemed surprised.
"We all said why we are thankful for each other, but I would like to add one more thing to that list." Hetty stood and raised her glass. "I am most thankful, forever and always, that we have each other."
"Hear, hear." The rest of the team clicked their glasses and drank with the small woman.
Hetty lowered her glass. "You will find a copy of that marvelous group photo Eric managed to snag on the hall table; one for each of you. Please, take it."
"Thank you, Hetty. For everything." Sam said, than raised his glass again. "To Hetty."
"To Hetty!" The rest of the team caroused as they drank the toast.
"I am honored." Hetty said, and Callen thought he saw tears in her eyes. A little time passed as the team made their final speeches, toasts and goodbyes. As they gathered in the foyer before leaving, each one looked at the other, none wanting to be the first to leave.
"Oh, come on, guys. Group hug." Nell opened her arms. "Just this once."
A moment passed as everyone considered it. Then everyone pulled each other close, for once not caring about images, coolness or keeping people at arm's length.
As they finally broke the circle, the agents left one by one with smiles and promises to see everyone the next morning. Callen was the only one left in a few minutes, leaning against the doorframe. Hetty was grinning from ear to ear. "This was a success, indeed."
"Yeah, I guess so." Callen laughed, watching Deeks and Kensi wave at each other before pulling out of the driveway.
Hetty thought for a moment. "You know, there is this lovely little trust-building game similar to truth or dare that I think would be rather-"
"Hetty, no. Absolutely not." Callen said quickly.
"What about listing what theme song you associate with your partner?"
"What about role-switching?"