I had started this story months back and never got around to finishing until I showed one of my friends who then made me finish. So thank you to veggiewoppa for the inspiration (or is it threats?) needed to complete this!
Disclaimer: Not mine, just borrowing.
It began just like any of the hundreds of other times the team had headed out to question a person of interest in a case.
They suspected the proprietor of a small local bakery was involved in a drug smuggling operation that was responsible for at least one recent murder in the Los Angeles area. With Callen and Sam waiting outside, one at the small group of tables in front of the bakery and the other loitering near the entrance to the back alley, Kensi and Deeks strolled into the shop. They were posing as an engaged couple shopping for a wedding cake, and Deeks was happily playing his part - a little too happily, in Kensi's opinion.
Shaking his head in amusement at Kensi and Deeks' bantering, Sam took another sip of coffee and surveyed the crowded sidewalk. Nothing appeared suspicious or out of the ordinary, just the usual assortment of pedestrians. The various occupants of the other cafe tables were all busy with their own coffees, newspapers, and phone calls.
Callen's voice crackled in Sam's ear. "Remind me why you get to drink coffee while I have to stand by the dumpsters?"
Sam rolled his eyes. "Because you lost at Rock, Paper, Scissors."
"You cheated, if I remember right."
"How do you cheat at Rock, Paper, Scissors?" another voice laughed.
"Aren't you supposed to be cake-shopping, Romeo?" Sam shot back, hiding the amusement in his own voice.
"Eh, Kensi doesn't like any of these. We're waiting to talk to the manager," Deeks told him.
A female voice joined the conversation. "If I remember things correctly, you're the one who demanded to talk to the manager when they didn't have any heart-shaped cakes."
"Oh come on -"
Deeks' voice cut off abruptly, and a commotion could be heard from within the shop.
"He's headed your way Callen!" Kensi shouted, just as the bakery's back door banged open.
Callen started towards the man. "I've got him!"
When the man saw Callen heading towards him, his eyes widened and he spun, stumbling slightly as he changed directions.
"Federal agent!" Callen yelled, sprinting after the fleeing man. "Stop where you are!"
The order did nothing to pause the other man's flight; if anything, it spurred him faster. He darted into the street at the other end of the alley with hardly a look in either direction.
Putting on another burst of speed, Callen reached the alley's exit just a few steps behind him.
It was a scene that had unfolded many times before, the suspect darting into traffic, the agents in pursuit. With an eye on the approaching cars, Callen wove between various vehicles after the bakery owner. Horns blared and both the fleeing suspect and Callen found themselves leaping over a hood as a car braked to a screeching halt in front of them.
The other man reached the far curb and paused for a brief moment to look back at Callen. The agent was just halfway across the eight lanes of traffic and quickly closing the distance.
Suddenly, from behind him, Callen heard Sam's shouted warning of, "G, look out!" He barely had time to look around and see what Sam was warning him about. He spotted the approaching vehicle out of the corner of his eye and lunged out of the way, but the car was going faster than he was.
He almost made it safely past, but the front corner of the SUV managed to catch Callen in the side, sending him spinning to the ground. The pain barely had time to register before his head impacted with the asphalt with a sickening crack.
The last thing he saw before everything went black was the tires of oncoming traffic.
Sam hadn't wasted any time when he saw what was going on. Even before the SUV rammed into his partner, he'd known what was about to happen. As much as he didn't want them to, the dots all connected in his head, and he was already in action when the actual collision occurred.
He darted into the traffic, keeping an eye out to make sure he didn't end up in a similar situation as the one from which he was trying to rescue Callen. Screeches and squeals filled the air as vehicles slammed on their brakes or swerved suddenly to miss the man lying in the middle of the road. Surprisingly, only one or two sounds of colliding metal met his ears, a miracle considering the number of cars on the road.
As he sprinted towards his partner, he saw Kensi and Deeks out of the corner of his eye. The other two members of the team were running towards the scene of the accident as well, only a few yards behind Sam.
"We've got Jacobs!" Deeks' voice shouted in Sam's ear as he and Kensi tore through the intersection, doing their own share of weaving in and out of traffic before continuing down the sidewalk after the suspect.
The SUV at fault hadn't even slowed, the driver apparently too worried about the consequences to stop and take responsibility.
"Eric, I need an ambulance!" Sam barked out, coming to a halt beside Callen's prone form. He gave his partner a quick once-over, trying to take in any injuries and assessing the situation to the best of his ability. "And the license number of that Suburban."
The memory of a similar scene rushed to mind, the two of them in the road, a limp Callen in his arms, but Sam quickly banished it. He had too much to worry about right now to be thinking of anything else.
"On its way," Eric's voice came over the comm, serious as usual but tight with worry. "And we're working on the camera footage. Is Callen okay?"
"I don't know, Eric." Sam knew he was being short with the other man, but he was more focused on the scene in front of him than with polite conversation.
Callen lay on his side on the concrete where he had fallen. There was a small puddle of blood forming under his head, and while all of his extremities seemed to be intact, the worrying possibility of internal damage was at the forefront of Sam's mind.
Knowing better than to attempt to move Callen, Sam settled for standing in the road, making sure all oncoming traffic saw and avoided the section of the lane where his partner lay. By the time the ambulance came screaming up, most of the drivers on the road were detouring in a circular pattern around Sam and Callen, even if they were driving under the speed limit in order to take in as much of the scene as possible.
Sam found himself pushed to the side as the EMTs rushed around, checking Callen's injuries, calling out various medical terms and prepping the unconscious man for transport back to the hospital. He could hear various conversations going on in his ear, as Kensi and Deeks finally managed to catch Jacobs, as Eric and Nell announced their findings, and as everyone continued to ask if Sam knew anything yet.
His answers were as monosyllabic as possible, his attention focused more on Callen's deathly white face than on anything else.
If the ambulance staff wasn't going to ask him to ride with them, they certainly didn't try to stop him as he wordlessly climbed in the back doors beside the stretcher. As the vehicle sped away, lights and sirens whirring, Callen remained as still as ever.
Muffled voices floated in and out. He tried to listen but there was a pounding in his head that made it impossible to concentrate.
They sounded insistent, abrupt, worried about something. For a moment, he considered that maybe he should be worried too.
He tried to open his eyes, which prompted some sort of a flurry of activity around him, but he couldn't make much out. There was a pounding in his head that only intensified as he attempted to do what the voice at his ear was telling him to do, and eventually he gave up.
The darkness was much more welcoming. It didn't demand he open his eyes, didn't poke or prod him, didn't hurt his head when he tried his best to do what it asked.
With an unspoken apology to whoever was around him, he gave in and sank back into the welcoming arms of unconsciousness.
"Mr. Beale, tell me we've found the driver of the vehicle at fault," Hetty ordered, striding into ops.
Eric and Nell, both typing furiously on their keyboards, looked up from their monitors at the sound of her voice.
"We have," Eric replied, swiveling in his chair with a touch pad in his hands. With the tap of his stylus, a video pulled up on the large screen that covered the entire adjacent wall. "A traffic camera at the nearby intersection caught the entire scene," he said, tapping again to play the video.
The chase played out in front of them, showing Jacobs running through traffic with Callen hard on his heels. When the collision occurred, Eric paused the feed, freezing the image on the vehicle speeding away. All three of the viewers focused on the SUV itself, avoiding the form lying on the pavement in the same frame.
Eric zoomed in on the vehicle's back end, its license clearly visible. "It's registered to a Louis Wilcox," he reported, bringing up an image of a driver's license on the screen. The image on the ID showed a man in his mid-thirties, with balding red hair and a short-clipped beard and mustache.
"Where are we on tracking him down?" Hetty wanted to know.
"We're working on it," Nell spoke up from her seat. "We've got his home address but it was foreclosed on about a month ago. I'm running family and any known friends right now; hopefully we can find out where Wilcox has been staying for the past weeks."
"Send Kensi and Deeks to the house," Hetty instructed. "There is a chance that Wilcox did not vacate it as he was supposed to." She gave both of them a look. "Keep me apprised of the situation. I want to know as soon as we have him in custody."
"Wow, would you look at this place?" Kensi observed, exiting the driver's side of the vehicle.
Deeks just nodded as he glanced around. "Well, you can't expect someone who doesn't pay the mortgage to keep up his house too well. Do you think he's still here even after he got foreclosed on?" He ducked to look through a crack in the blinds on one of the front windows. "Eh, too dark. I can't make anything out."
Kensi mounted the stairs at the front of the house. "Well, let's see who's home."
"Ooh, something needs upkeep," Deeks commented when the storm door squeaked as it was pulled open.
Kensi just ignored him and knocked on the door. When there was no answer, she knocked again. "Louis Wilcox? NCIS; we need to talk with you."
There was a muffled squeak from the backside of the house. Deeks and Kensi exchanged looks before leaping into action.
The agents heard the back door slam as Kensi yanked open the side gate. When they reached the rear of the house, they could see Wilcox just mounting a garbage can along the fence at the edge of his property.
"Wilcox!" Deeks yelled.
The man looked back for a split second, pausing at the sight of the two handguns pointed his way.
"Put your hands where we can see them!" Kensi shouted at him.
The man slowly did as instructed. Deeks hurried up beside him as the man climbed off the trash can.
"I didn't do it on purpose!" the man declared as Deeks yanked his hands behind his back and cuffed him. "It was an accident!"
"Including your fleeing the scene?" Deeks asked. "Yeah, you seem real innocent to me."
"I swear!" he exclaimed. "I-I-I just panicked. Honest!"
"Well, panicked or not, you just got yourself much more time in jail," the agent informed him. He looked over at his partner. "You're just lucky she didn't shoot you for running away."
A myriad of sounds swirled around him. Most were unintelligible, just a jumble of beeps and voices and various other noises he couldn't identify.
Slowly, the sounds became clearer, separating into the appropriate categories in his mind. He lay still, not feeling motivated enough to try to make out his surroundings any more than they already were. He was feeling curiously lethargic.
He was in a hospital; that he knew. There was no mistaking the medicinal smells that were assaulting his nostrils. There was a little pain, but it felt like he was floating on some sort of cloud; nothing was registering with his nerves quite yet. Concentrating his aching brain, he attempted to recall what had happened to land him in a hospital room in the first place.
It took a few minutes, but suddenly it all came rushing back.
The fleeing suspect.
The busy street.
The impact of the car.
The sudden vision of tires speeding towards his face came to mind and he pulled in a sudden breath, causing the steady beeping of several of the machines near his head to speed up. There was an immediate, sudden scraping of chairs and the sound of footsteps running quickly from the room.
His quick intake of air had made him woozy and caused a quick pain to shoot through his side. Although the voices in the room quickly became insistent and he heard someone coaxing him to open his eyes, he didn't feel the same urgent need as they obviously did.
Even as a second voice joined the first in trying to get him to fully come to, the sounds began to fade away into nothing.
When Callen again became aware of his surroundings, he lay still with his eyes closed for several minutes, trying to gauge how he was feeling. There was a pain in his side that wouldn't go away; it was a dull pain more than anything sharp and demanding, which he assumed was due to whatever pain killers they had him on. He didn't feel as drowsy as he had before, and he tentatively opened an eye to look around.
The room was dimly lit, a low fluorescent glow that seemed to come from the wall behind him. There was no sunlight coming through the windows, and the only other illumination in the room was the small amount that filtered through the crack under the door.
He opened the other eye now and glanced around the room, taking things in for the first time.
It was just a standard hospital room, with plain beige paint on the walls, a television mounted high on the wall in one corner, and various charts adorning the majority of the wall space.
There was a couch along the wall underneath an impersonal painting of a beach, a couch which was currently occupied by three of his team members. Sam was sitting up, though his chin resting against his chest gave him away. The other two agents were also asleep, and Callen cracked a small grin. If only he had a camera, things would be so much more priceless. Kensi had reclined against the back of the sofa, Deeks beside her, his head against her shoulder in a similar fashion to how a puppy might snuggle against its owner.
"Mr. Callen, it's good to see you awake," came a low voice near his left elbow. He looked over to see Hetty sitting in a chair next to his bed. Their team leader was watching him intently for any sign that he was less than okay.
"Hey, Hetty," his voice came out in a croak and she reached for the cup on a nearby table. Once he had taken a sip, his throat didn't feel quite so parched and he continued. "How long have you all been here?"
"As long as necessary," was Hetty's response. There was something in her expression that told Callen she and the others had been there all day, and he suspected the nurses already had several new stories to tell at their station in the hallway.
Before the conversation could go any further, the door opened quietly and Eric and Nell tiptoed in. Both had cardboard carriers in hand, and Eric had a paper bag as well. Callen's mouth was suddenly flooded as the sugary scent reminded his stomach of how long it had been since breakfast that morning...or was it the morning before? He wasn't even sure at this point.
"Callen!" Nell's face lit up when she saw him awake.
Her exclamation, low as it was, woke Deeks, who sat up with a start, inhaling quickly as he looked around to get his bearings. "Ohh," he moaned, rubbing a hand on the back of his neck, "Callen, I will gladly stay in any hospital room for you, but can you please go to one with more comfortable arrangements next time?"
Kensi had woken by this point as well, and she punched her partner in the arm. "Deeks, stop whining or I'll make sure they get you more comfortable arrangements in a bed of your own."
"Oh! That's brutality! You saw that, right?" Deeks appealed to the others.
Sam gave him a look. "Keep it up and I'll show you brutality."
"Okay, okay," Deeks raised his hands in surrender and turned his attention to the bag in Eric's hand. "Is that mine?"
Callen and Sam exchanged a glance, their years of partnership allowing them to have a silent exchange while the others chattered back and forth. Things were back to normal again.