Blood and Bone is the sequel to Shenanigans! I suggest reading it first to avoid confusion.
Reviews would be lovely especially since I'm taking it from the humour of Shenanigans and bringing this story far darker– lemme know what you think. Love and Light :)
Callen walked in early on his first day back from vacation. It had been a nice enough, but he wasn't programmed to want to sit on the beach for days and walk around aimlessly. He was a man who required purpose, a purpose that being the Senior-Agent-In-Charge of a team at NCIS gave him.
He dropped his duffle bag by his desk, put the box of donuts on the counter and started to boil water for tea. He enjoyed the morning routine, the jog in the morning- varying distance and times, coffee and donuts- never from the same place, the drive over from his house- never the same route, and then making tea once he got into the Office of Special Projects, even if he wasn't in the mood to drink it he always made a pot.
"Good morning Mr Callen."
He hadn't heard her walk up, but had long ago stopped being concerned it was his trade-craft. Hetty was a sneaky witch and could out wit, out smart and out play anyone. She was the best in the game. "Morning Hetty, not sure if it's a good one yet." He looked up to the banister half expecting Eric to come dashing out and whistle for the team.
"The glass may be seen as half full," she looked at him over her glasses. She knew Callen was as pessimistic as the days were long and she could hardly fault him for it- with the life that he had lived she was just grateful he managed as well as he had, was proud of the fact that despite the roller coaster his life had been that he had turned out so well.
"But it's still half empty," he responded and took the kettle off when it started whistling, "tea?"
"I have a pot in my office steeping, but thank you." She couldn't help the smile, she was proud of him and the rest of her team. Her agents were like the children she had never had she worried over their well being, ensured they were as safe as special agents could be, talked to them giving them words of wisdom, and alternatively verbally ripping them a new one when it was needed. She turned her head as she heard the tell tale steps of her other Senior Agent.
"Morning Hetty," Sam rounded the corner dropping his stuff by his desk, "morning G."
"Morning Sam, tea?"
Callen looked at the canisters. "Essiac, Lemon Grass, and Orange Pekoe." Sam shot him a look and being partners for as long as they had Callen nodded with a knowing smile. "Orange Pekoe it is."
"Huh," Deeks walked in and looked at Kensi's empty desk. "She always beats me." Little things sometimes became big things when they worked the job they did, despite the agents not having predictable schedules or routes due to their heightened security, they did however always show up at work on time. Kensi always beat him and it worried him that she hadn't.
"That's because you always have your morning surf," Sam said snagging a donut and taking his tea from Callen. Not exactly the breakfast of champions but considering he'd hit the snooze button- the vacation had spoiled him- he hadn't had time to make a proper meal and was hungry enough to eat the pastry.
Deeks ran a hand through his still damp hair, he'd gotten up early enough to go to the beach, do his jog, surf, get back to his house and shower the salt water off and get to work just on time. "Which I did," Deeks pulled out his phone and was about to text when Kensi's presence was announced with her click of her heels. He put his phone back in his pocket and ran to snag a powdered donut before Kensi got into them. "You're late," he said with his mouth full.
"No I'm not," she responded walking over to the counter. She was a little late, just a minute. The vacation had screwed her up she'd wanted those extra minutes and took them, thinking she still had time but traffic had been heavy on the route she had taken.
He leaned against his desk, studying his partner wondering if maybe she'd come home and had a late night. There was a twinge of jealousy, he hated it when she was flirting or rubbing up against another man for a cover. He shouldn't. They weren't dating. Didn't plan on dating. They had a 'thing.' No. No they didn't have a 'thing' they couldn't, they were partners. Besides, she wasn't his type. Keep telling yourself that, maybe one day you'll believe it, he thought. Before she actually swatted him for staring he spoke, "later than me, you're never later than me."
"Shut it Deeks," Kensi responded irritably as she looked into the donut box."You took the only powdered one," she whirled around at him and glared through her expressive brown eyes. Currently expressing rage that had Deeks ensnared in unadulterated male fear.
Treasuring his life he held the half eaten donut out, "want the rest?"
She plucked a chocolate sprinkle donut out of the box and made a face at him when taking a bite. He knew the powdered ones were her favourite and she suspected that he ate them on purpose just to spite her. "Tomorrow," she said after swallowing, "I'm picking up the donuts. And there all going to be powdered."
"Come on!" Sam whined having never been a fan of the jelly filled pastry.
"And an apple fritter," Kensi relented with a smile at her old friend.
He smiled, "thank Kens."
Kensi turned back and stared at her partner as he took another bite of her favourite donut, "aren't you suppose to be with LAPD today?" She knew he was suppose to go back undercover for the LAPD when they got back from vacation and studied him, surely he hadn't completed it this morning, it was only nine thirty three- he was good, but no one was that good.
"They called me after I landed, I'm on standby for the op, they got backed up in our tech department, they don't even have me backstopped with a drivers license yet." Deeks's voice expressed annoyance at this fact. "Should get a call in a few hours since the chief put priority on it."
"What's the case?" Kensi asked even though she knew what was coming.
"Can't say," he responded finishing the donut, "you know how it is. Figured I'd come in, finish up some of the paperwork I neglected before we left."
A sharp whistle from the balcony and the paperwork along with their less than nutritional breakfast was forgotten. Well rehearsed they dashed for the stairs- the day had begun.
The field agents walked into the dark cavern of the ops centre, computers and big screens cast eery glows. The blueish lights from above giving a strange tint to the room. Callen took charge, standing in the centre of the room Sam flanking his left side, Kensi to the right and Deeks behind the table. "What do we got?" Eric and Nell looked at each other and when neither spoke for a second Callen got a really bad feeling.
"I'll inform Hetty," Nell said quietly and slipped from the room.
Callen's eyes watched the petite Intelligence Analyst till she was out of sight. Such a small divergence from the norm sent the already paranoid agent into high-alert, "what is going on Eric?" If there was one thing that Callen hated more than anything- it was being left in the dark. His entire life was enshrined in mystery- most of it even to himself. After all, what kind of man doesn't even know his first name?
"We have a case, and it's... bad." Eric said pulling the first image up on the screen, as he stood aside so everyone could see. "JAG Lawyer Katrina Hale, murdered three days ago." The visuals were gruesome and Eric having worked in the ops centre for years still felt a little sick looking at it. There was so much blood and he forced himself to lock it all down, he had a job to do.
Callen stepped forward to get a better look. The woman had obviously been tortured, her back had been cut to ribbons, blood was everywhere in the crime scene photographs. "I understand it's a JAG Lawyer, but is there some angle I'm missing?" Callen asked, "this makes it an NCIS case, but not a case for this office."
Eric pulled up the next image, and took a deep breath before beginning. "Navy Commander Gerald Roland; high level security clearance, was wounded and on leave. Murdered two days ago." There was still no proof that they had taken anything from the commander or that information had been given to the attackers- but who was he to argue with the Director of NCIS? Eric had no business arguing with his boss's, boss's, boss- and he did consider the first boss to be Callen. The field agent was the first person in a case to give commands, despite the fact that for the most part Callen just let Eric do his own thing but when Callen ordered the tech was always quick to listen.
"Similar wounds," Kensi noted as she took a step forward to get a better look at the images. She hoped the coroner could give them more information, the images were of good quality but with all the blood around the wounds there was no way for her to tell from the photograph if the commander had been sliced, stabbed, cut, nicked, or scraped. "And only a day apart?" That worried her, such a short time between murders sent a jolt through her. Her job most days was a dangerous thrill, but this left her nerves frayed it sent off the warning bells in her head and she'd learnt long ago never to ignore such a thing.
"Yeah," Eric responded and with a sigh brought up the next image, " NCIS Junior Agent Lydia West. Murdered yesterday" They had been vacationing and people had been being murdered, the job could take it's toll on a person, and Eric knew with out a doubt that the job would always take it's toll, expected it too and was grateful. If the job didn't hurt a bit while doing it, it meant that he had lost something along the way, if the day came when he could look at images like this and not care- he'd hand Hetty his resignation.
"I get the lawyer, they know all kinds of secrets," Deeks spoke up, studying the pictures. He noticed that the team of Kensi, Callen and Sam nearly always took similar stances when they came into the room. He stood by Kensi sometimes, or off to the side by the door, or like now, behind the table, he wasn't sure he belonged with the team and often found that when in a room with all three he couldn't even find the bearings to know where to stand. "and the Navy Commander with the high clearance, but a junior agent?"
Eric shrugged, "read through her files, she was bright, high scores, was working well with her training officers, but she hadn't worked on any real cases yet, she hadn't been in the business long enough to make enemies or have any valuable information."
"So maybe it's not about intel, maybe this is personal?" Sam suggested.
"Maybe," Eric responded, having had such little time, the only information he had was what had been given to him directly from his boss's boss's boss. "Director Vance just jumped on screen, scared the crap out of me, told me to get you guys up here and start working on it ASAP. He's worried that there might be a leak somewhere that had given the identities and addresses of military personnel. He hadn't even gone through Hetty."
"But he really should have," Hetty said coming in, haughty, an attitude that she was about to take up with the Director, Nell stood nervously in the doorway not crossing the threshold into the ops centre. "This is my ship, and I don't like it when someone else takes hold of the wheel." Hetty put her hands on her hips and looked to the blonde tech, "call him up Eric, everyone else, out!"
As much as Callen would have enjoyed watching the feisty Hetty rip the Director a new one he turned quickly and walked out. He had a mission, the purpose he had lacked while away. The rest of the field agents followed and they regrouped in the hall. Callen turned and they stood in a small circle around him looking to him expectantly.
He always had the plan, after all he was senior-agent-in-charge for a reason. Occasionally his methods were a little... off key but he knew what he was doing, he was good at his job, his agents respected him and for that he was thankful. They were not just colleagues but friends and the closest thing to a family he had ever had. Sometimes it made it difficult for him, his plans had a wide margin for error and despite his trust in the agents he knew bad things could happen, and he knew they would be his fault.
Bracing himself as he did each time he spoke with purpose. "Kensi, Deeks, look into the crime scene for Lydia West the other two are more high profile- intel might have been motive for them, but I just don't see it for her. Search her place, find out if it was personal. Sam and I will take the Commander's place and we'll meet up at the Lawyers."
"Got it," Kensi and Deeks took off down the stairs, arguing over who would get to drive.
Eric had slipped out of the tech room and they could hear Hetty's angry voice, he took his spot beside Nell and Callen turned and looked at them both, "when she lets you back in, get me background on our three deceased, do extensive background on Lydia West."
"You think she's the key to this?" Nell asked looking at Callen, there was something different about him since the vacation, or maybe her feelings toward the Senior- Agent-In-Charge had changed. This was work though, and she was a professional she pushed the wandering thoughts and forced her focus, there were three people who had been murdered and they deserved her attention, they deserved the justice she was sure the team could bring.
Callen shrugged, watching the array of barely masked emotions on the analysts face. Finally he answered, "maybe, if it is personal, I believe she'll be the easiest link to our killer."
"And considering he's killing a person a day..." Sam looked worriedly at his partner, it was obvious Callen was well aware of the clock ticking down.
"We might just have another dead body on our hands by the end of shift."