Author's Note: I am not sure if I like this chapter; but I think that is mostly because I am sad to be ending this fic. It was so much fun to write, and I am so glad you all enjoyed it too! I am sorry for those of you that wanted pairings in this; I tried, but because they weren't in my original plan to begin with, they didn't fit. I will try some pairing stories soon, I promise. I have a new story in the works, and I hope to you all come check it out! With love and imagination-Elle.
NCIS:LA NCIS:LA NCIS:LA
It was a tired, battered, and still damp crew that arrived back at the OSP headquarters. Hetty somehow knew they were coming; she was standing in the middle of the room, blocking them from going to the bullpen, showers, training room or gun range without passing her.
She flicked her eyes over the group, and Callen saw she was relieved to see them all safe and sound, despite her flat expression. All the agents felt vaguely guilty, although they weren't sure what they were supposed to be feeling guilty about. Despite changing clothes yet again, they still looked like they had been through war, particularly Eric's bruised face and Callen's cut forehead. Nell had also had to wrap her hand tightly in a bandage; the punch had bruised her knuckles.
Hetty took notice of all these details, and folded her arms. "I have rarely seen an operation turn out like this, in all my years."
"Hetty, I can explain!" Eric started, trying to hide the sodden and water damaged suit in his arms, but Callen broke in.
"It was my fault, Hetty. Eric would never have been in danger if I had been on my guard." The lead agent said firmly, purposely drawing all the blame onto himself. But the team seemed to have other ideas.
"I should responded faster when I thought something was wrong." Nell said apologetically, rubbing her hand absently. Callen felt another pang of guilt that a member of his team was hurt because of him.
"And I should have been watching the boys closer. I saw Eric heading out to the garden with her and should have followed." Kensi said, seemingly angry at herself.
"And I should have gone looking for him when Nell said he hadn't checked in." Sam said. Deeks nodded. "That goes for me too."
Eric had a strange expression on his face and spoke up. "Guys, it's all my fault. I should have called for backup or fought her off or something. I didn't think and I almost got you all killed." He sounded miserable.
Callen started to correct them but Hetty cleared her throat.
"What are you all talking about? That was a compliment!" She said with a smile. The team stared at her. She continued. "You apprehended a mentally unstable threat with no casualties, and only minor injuries. Did you know that that car she crashed had almost two million dollars worth of stolen firearms in the trunk? There were also plans for a large dirty bomb, and half the materials required. You prevented a disaster we had no warning about." She paused. "But most importantly, you recovered three kidnapped naval officers alive and well; they were able to go home to their families. One even made it home in time for his son's kindergarten graduation."
Kensi smiled at that, but Hetty plunged on. "I am proud of you all, and you should be proud of yourselves."
The whole team was looking at each other in surprise, smiles breaking out. "Well, when you put it like that…" Deeks said. "We pretty much rocked, huh?"
Hetty chuckled. "Yes, Mister Deeks, you 'rocked.' I would be happy if all operations ended this successfully. Although, perhaps without the kidnapping and attempted drowning of two of my most valuable assets."
That got a laugh out of the agents, well…all the agents but Eric, who just grinned nervously.
"Now, don't just stand there. Go sit over there-" She motioned toward the lounge. "And I will bring you all some tea to warm you up."
"Actually, Hetty, I was going to head home-" Deeks broke off at her look and nodded. "Sitting."
True to her word, Hetty reappeared with a tray with seven steaming cups. They all accepted the gesture gratefully. Sam caught Hetty up, with the occasional interjection from the others, and the woman seemed satisfied. Suddenly, Eric spoke.
"Um…Hetty…about the suit." The computer analyst said uneasily. "I didn't mean to, I swear…"
Hetty looked with no emotion at the ruined fabric he held out like a ticking time bomb. "I see."
Eric flinched, and Sam winced in sympathy of the coming storm.
"Mr. Beal, I would appreciate it if you would toss that in the incinerators before you leave."
All the agent's eyes went wide at the statement, relief breaking over Eric's face as her words sank in. "You…aren't going to kill me?"
"Of course not, Mr. Beal. If the price of a successful mission is one tuxedo, then I can turn a blind eye to it every once in a while. Why, Mr. Callen and Mr. Hanna destroyed more than that on one of their first missions together."
Deeks perked up at that. "Oh, really?"
"Hetty!" Callen said suddenly just as Sam said the same thing with a slight whine.
"What did they do?" Nell asked, tilting her head in curiosity.
Despite the glares from her senior agents, Hetty answered. "They somehow were able to set a stretch limousine on fire, and if I remember correctly-"
"And you always do." Callen muttered darkly.
"They also managed to release over two hundred cats from a Cat Show. It took almost four hours to collect all of the felines in the Expo Center."
"Cat show? Why did you release two hundred cats from a cat show?" Kensi asked, laughing as she took a sip of tea.
Sam glared in Hetty's general direction, not quite brave enough to glare directly at her. "We didn't mean to. Our suspect ran into the show, we followed…"
"There may have been some pepper spray involved." Callen added.
"And he ran right into the show ring…" Sam continued.
"Spooked the cats." Callen added.
"He made it to the back room. Started opening cages to distract us." Sam said thoughtfully. "I guess that was when Callen grabbed this can of catnip and threw it at him. Hit him too, but-"
"The can popped open…catnip everywhere." Callen made an exploding motion with his hand.
"And, it was all downhill from there." Sam shrugged.
"The catnip got on us, the suspect…the floor…the air ducts…those cats went crazy. And they were already spooked." Callen shook his head and shuddered slightly.
"Yeah, that one calico wouldn't let go of your leg. I will never forget you trying to arrest the perp with this little kitten hanging onto your jeans." Sam smiled.
Nell and Kensi had been holding back giggles and finally couldn't. Deeks and Eric joined in, while Hetty gave an indulgent smile. Callen shot a glance at Sam. "Well, you had that long haired cat following you around meowing at you the whole time. Loud little guy, too."
"How did you set the limo on fire?" Deeks asked, catching his breath.
Sam shrugged. "Turns out catnip is flammable."
"No, dropping a lighter onto the mini-bar, with spilled alcohol everywhere is flammable." Callen corrected.
"But the catnip flakes didn't help." Sam argued.
Callen rolled his eyes. "I'm pretty sure it was the vodka, buddy."
"Stop, stop! My sides hurt!" Nell gasped, her face red.
"Oh, no. She's doing that laugh where you are laughing so hard you can't breathe, but no sound is coming out." Deeks noted. "If you don't stop making her laugh she'll die, and that would be a bummer after that impressive sucker punch."
Nell managed to catch her breath as Hetty concluded the story. "Between the limo, and the feline disaster, they caused almost fifty thousand dollars worth of damage."
Eric whistled. "And you didn't fire them?"
"Of course not. They broke up one of the biggest smuggling rings of the decade."
"So…what did you do to them?" Kensi asked.
"Oh…nothing much." Hetty smiled.
"Nothing much?" Sam protested. "Our next assignment was participating in a junior college's theater."
"They were doing Cats." Callen explained.
"And I think you invented that job, anyway. We learned nothing." Sam said sulkily.
"Wait, wait, wait. Was that where those cat ears came from?" Deeks asked.
"Yes." Callen admitted.
"So, relax, Mr. Beal. No matter how bad you get, I doubt you could top that." Hetty took a sip of her tea. "Now, I want you all to get some rest. You do not have to come in until after lunch tomorrow."
All the agents looked relieved at the respite. "Thanks, Hetty." Nell stood. "I think I want to go home now."
"Take care of yourself, tiger. Don't get into any brawls on the way home." Callen said, and she lightly smacked his shoulder with her un-bandaged hand. Deeks left a few minutes after her.
Kensi took her leave, offering to drive the exhausted Eric home. He accepted gratefully.
"Make sure you get lots of rest, Mr. Beal." Hetty cautioned as he left.
"Will do, Hetty." He smiled wearily as he followed Kensi out the door.
"That goes for you too, Mr. Callen." Hetty said firmly, turning to her lead agent.
"Come on, Hetty. I get plenty of rest." He said with a smile.
Hetty raised an eyebrow.
"Enough rest." He amended. She smiled slightly.
"Be sure you do." She said firmly, but affectionately. Sam and Callen left, leaving Hetty to gaze after them. She glanced down at the props Nell had returned to her while cleaning out the van and fingered the little gold gavel with its heart shaped base. She glanced around and brought it down with a sharp tap.