Tag to episodes: Imposters (2x23), Familia (2x24) , Lange, H (3x01), Cyber Threat (3x02), Backstopped (3x03)

I originally started this a couple weekends after Backstopped. Got to say, I originally hated Hunter, probably like the majority of watchers. I went back and re-watched it and was completely inspired that time around.

The first three chapters go through the five episodes, all the important Hunter or Callen moments. Some are in-between moments that I added. Sometimes the moments are written twice, from each person's perspective.

The theory may prove completely incorrect, but for the story's purposes...

Anyways, I didn't post it because I simply didn't have time to write it with my other series going on, maybe if I post it I'll nag me to complete it... anyways, let me know what you think :)

::

"Hetty!" It was strange. Hearing his voice after all those years. It had changed, obviously- but... it was still familiar to her ears. "I've been calling you!"

"I'm sorry, I..." Was the tech's response.

"Why didn't you answer my calls?" She heard him ask the tech as she made her way down the stairs. "Where is she?"

"Miss Lange," she said looking down at the stairs steeling her resolve. She wasn't the one being called, but it didn't bother her. He didn't even know who she was. "She's gone." She informed him taking the last step from the stairs and getting a good look at G Callen. "She tended her resignation." The agents watched her warily and but she didn't mind, she hadn't expected a warm welcome. She held out the file to Callen. "Effective immediately."

Blue eyes and such pain reflected in them. She wished to do something more, but she needed to keep the secret. It was of the utmost importance. Hurting him now meant protecting him from a much bigger threat later.

"Who are you?" Sam Hanna wanted to know looking offended simply by her presence.

"Lauren Hunter," she replied. "Her replacement." She took a deep breath knowing full well this wasn't going to be all rainbows and butterflies.

A scoff sound from Kensi and an incredulous look from Deeks. "Her replacement?" He asked with disbelief.

Kensi looked shocked. "Is this a joke?"

It was offensive, that the agent would ask such a question. None of them knew her, none of them knew the role that she was truly playing. They would be thanking her, welcoming her if they did. She gave an angry smile before letting it fall and but the offense stayed on her face. "I'm not much of a joker, Agent Blye."

Callen looked up from the file he'd been reading and looked to the red haired tech. "Nell, get me Director Vance on the phone."

The two of them were already moving towards the ops centre when she spoke. "That won't be necessary." She waited till she heard his footsteps pause. "Director Vance is coming online in ops to brief you all momentarily." She turned heel and looked at him. My, my how you have grown, her heart swelled with pride, he'd really made something of himself. "Agent Callen, I'd like to have a word with you in my office when you're finished." She walked away toward the office that was, for now, hers.

::

Callen had a great distrust for this Lauren Hunter woman. She was in Hetty's office, taking over Hetty's space, doing Hetty's job. It didn't just annoy him, it pissed him off.

He'd called Hetty. Six times. Not once had she picked up the phone. Every other call he left a message, and thinking back each time they sounded angrier. The rest of the team was worried too. Sam had called. Kensi wanted to know if they had heard anything, but there was nothing to report to her.

The tech's informed the team of their 'speculations' on Agent Hunter and it didn't fill Callen with trust. Classified assignments. Off the grid for years. Knowing that Director would be the only one with the authority to put a Operations Manager- even a temporary one- in place. And Callen wanted to make damn sure it was temporary. He left the room, there was little point in beating around the bush. You want answers? Ask the questions. He stalked off toward Hetty's office, because there was no way he was even going to think about it being Hunter's.

He could feel the watchful eyes of his agents on his back and he waited seemingly patient for her to get off the phone.

"I have the authority," she was saying and it sounded to him like a dig, her cold eyes locked on to him. He ground his teeth trying to keep calm, but he didn't like someone coming in here, taking over Hetty's place. More he wanted answers as to why she had left so suddenly- maybe because he'd stopped her from placing her resignation after Dom died.

She finished up with her call and hung up. She sighed. "You walked off last night when I wanted to talk with you."

He moved and invaded her space hoping to throw her off balance. "So who are you?"

"I'm Miss Lange's replacement. She..."

"She did not retire," he cut her off, his anger burning. "Not voluntarily."

"You were very close with her. I can understand your... confusion."

He could play the game. He looked to her desk and saw her keys the Warszawa key chain hanging from them. "Ah, Warsaw." He said studying her face. "You've been to Poland recently?" He asked in Polish.

"Warsaw, eight months," she responded her in perfect Polish. "And before that...Murmansk."

"Murmansk?" He switched over to Russian. "Russia." He made a sound of interest, she was at least good at the languages she spoke and he could find admiration in learning such things. It didn't lessen how royally pissed he was but at least it was nice practice. "I worked there. It's very, very cold."

"Your Russian accent is very good," she commented. She then switched to German. "And your German?"

He suppressed a smile, but spoke in German. "Germans usually mistake me for Austrian." He gave a lazy shrug. "And in Rome... they think I'm from the north."

She smiled and even gave a quiet laugh. "Milan, of course," and in French. "And what about in Paris?"

"In Paris no matter how good your accent is they ignore you."

She smiled and looked away for a moment before her face hardened once more. "Is it true?" She asked. "That you don't know what the 'G' stands for?"

He had the intent of knocking her off balance, to get answers and instead it was he who found he was knocked off balance. Most people had the courtesy not to ask- at least not to his face. He was shocked and momentarily vulnerable, he knew it because somehow this woman who should know nothing about him... knew, and more she asked. "Okay, you got me."

She closed her eyes and looked down. When she returned her gaze she spoke, "Hetty's gone Agent Callen. She told me herself, she's not coming back."

He found his footing, he wasn't going to let this woman dig again. "Well, she hasn't told me," he replied. "And since she's not answering her phone."

"Then she must not want to talk with you."

"You don't know Hetty," he responded narrowing his eyes.

"On the contrary." They momentarily locked in a battle of wills with just their eyes.

He half turned from her before asking. "Serbian?"

"Not Serbian," she replied. With that he stalked off. "Agent Callen?" She called out, but he didn't stop, he just kept moving, completely infuriated and trying to keep the emotions, the suspicions on lock down. He heard her call him again. "Agent Callen!" He ignored her completely and walked blindly past his team.

::

She watched as he walked over from the bullpen as she held the phone to her ear. "I have the authority," she informed the man on the phone while keeping her, eyes on Callen. She finished up with her call and hung up. She sighed, despite knowing she wouldn't be welcomed with open arms, she hadn't quite expected the strength of the hostility and automatic distrust. "You walked off last night when I wanted to talk with you."

He moved and stood closer to her. "So who are you?"

"I'm Miss Lange's replacement. She..."

"She did not retire," he cut her off. She flicked her eyes over to the team that was focussed on her. She knew their respect for her, or lack thereof would come from how Callen seen her. Oh the irony only she could understand. "Not voluntarily."

She broke eye contact with him, it was difficult. The hope that maybe he'd just look and know versus the desperate plea that he would stay oblivious- he'd be safer that way. "You were very close with her. I can understand your... confusion."

He looked to her desk and saw her keys the Warszawa key chain hanging from them. "Ah, Warsaw," he noted. "You've been to Poland recently?" He asked in Polish.

"Warsaw, eight months," she responded her in perfect Polish. The knowledge of languages gave her a certain sense of power because with understanding a language came understanding the information acquired and in her line of work the more languages known the more effective she became. "And before that...Murmansk."

"Murmansk?" He switched over to Russian, "Russia. I worked there. It's very, very cold."

"Your Russian accent is very good," she commented. His mastery of languages was admirable. She then switched to German. "And your German?"

He suppressed a smile, but spoke in German. "Germans usually mistake me for Austrian." He gave a lazy shrug. "And in Rome... they think I'm from the north."

She smiled and even gave a quiet laugh. He did sound Austrian, but still his command of the language was proper. It was strange, the joy she found in the conversation of languages. "Milan, of course," and in French. "And what about in Paris?"

"In Paris no matter how good your accent is they ignore you."

She smiled and looked away for a moment. She steeled herself for the next question. It broke her heart a little, but she needed to know, she needed to see his face when she asked, hear his answer and know. She found her resolve. "Is it true?" She asked. "That you don't know what the 'G' stands for?"

He paused, looked oddly vulnerable and her eyes got glassy. He really didn't know. She blinked and held in the emotions. "Okay, you got me," he said.

She closed her eyes and looked down. Her voice was a little broken when she spoke, "Hetty's gone Agent Callen. She told me herself, she's not coming back." She prayed he didn't notice her breaking voice, or at least if he did that he thought it meant something else. She hoped his dislike for her would hide his curiosity.

"Well, she hasn't told me," he replied. "And since she's not answering her phone."

"Then she must not want to talk with you." It was hard to say such things, but it had to be done. If it made her the bad guy... so be it.

"You don't know Hetty," he responded narrowing his eyes.

"On the contrary."

He half turned from her before asking, "Serbian?"

"Not Serbian," she replied and watched as he stalked off. "Agent Callen?" She called out, but he didn't stop, she got agitated- if he didn't listen to her there wasn't a hope in hell that his team would. She walked around her desk and stopped at the step. "Agent Callen," she called again but he was ignoring her. She found herself trying to keep control of her emotions. "A word with you Agent Hanna?" He looked at her a moment before walking away too. She scoffed, well this hasn't gone as hoped, she thought bitterly. "Crap."

::

"Eric, what is the name to that file?" She asked.

"Operation Comescu," Eric replied.

She sent a worried look at the director and then reigned in her emotions. Shit, she thought.

"What is Comescu?" Callen asked.

Director Vance ignored him, and she followed the Director out.

::

The emotions of the day were taking their toll. She'd seen him, finally after all these years alive he was living and breathing and working, it brought her unparalleled happiness. Then again, he hated her, shown her blatant disrespect. She was lying to him and he knew it. The thing was he didn't know what she was lying about. It made all the difference. She was protecting him, how could she not?

The firing range was peaceful, no one was inside, and hell everyone was avoiding her anyways. She donned the bright yellow ear protectors, put on the safety goggles and grabbed her gun. Willing herself not to cry- it was stupid, so stupid to cry over it all. This was her choice and she had no doubts in her mind that it was the right one... but... she hadn't expected his hostility, the strength of it. She fought for control over her emotions and squeezed off a few rounds, her tears messing her accuracy and she was surprised by the terrible shots. She sensed she was being watched and allowed the next few bullets to stray as sadness washed over her she thought she could put all her emotions into a box... doubting yourself will destroy the mission, she thought and she couldn't have that. Forcing the sadness away she put the gun down daintily and studied the target with fake enthusiasm.

"Don't get a lot of field work?" Callen asked entering the firing range.

"I'm not really known for my marksmanship." That much was true, then again, she wasn't known as a person much less for any skill. That didn't mean that she wasn't a good shot, she was. A damn good shot.

"Well you're not really known for much at all." Callen dug. "In fact no one who's worked here has ever heard of you."

"Oh," she said setting up a new target. "Well... that's alright. Cause I've never really heard about any of them... except you."

"And Hetty."

"Yeah," she replied wistfully. She couldn't help the smile that threatened to break free. He looked just like the faded photograph... she hid the smile with an accusation. "You don't like me."

"I don't know you," he responded.

She smiled. Good answer, she thought. "What ever happened to first impressions?"

"Usually unreliable," he responded honestly. "Except maybe in your case." Ouch, she averted her gaze. "Who's Comescu?"

She turned around. "That is a question for the director."

"Yeah, well, I'm asking you."

She reloaded the gun in hand and set it back down whirling back to face him, emotions threatening her. She knew that this would be difficult, but she hadn't prepared herself for just how hard it would be to look at him, to know that he didn't trust her. "Hetty trusts me, she would not have recommended me to take over if she didn't." She paused a moment studying him. "Doesn't that count for something?"

He looked to be considering and then responded. "It should count enough for you to tell me the truth. Who is Comescu?"

Well played, she thought- he was good but that didn't mean she was going to show him her hand. "I'm sorry Callen." He would have no idea just how sorry she was, she turned back around. "I can't answer that." She put the protecting equipment back on, and turned back to see he had left the room.

The anger at the situation took over and she held her gun steady firing her way through the round each bullet ripping through the red circle.

::

This is going to go badly, she thought seeing Callen and his team come in.

"Comescu's people have Hetty!"

"Yeah, I heard," Vance replied. "We'll find her, I'm putting a team on it."

"You have a team," Callen argued.

"Not in Prague I don't," Vance said keeping his cool.

She stood back, arms folded over her chest her mind working. Hetty, she thought worriedly. And looking over his body language she knew that he wasn't going to let it go with out a fight. She kept her face schooled, impassive. She'd been getting better at it through out the day- no longer did looking at him bring tears, no longer would the barbs hurt. She had a job to do and she wasn't about to screw it up. Not now. Not when she was so close.

"How long have you known she's been in Prague?" Callen asked, his tone leaning toward argumentative.

"Miss Jones just told me," the Director replied.

Callen looked to Nell for conformation and she gave a small nod. "I need a ticket on the next available flight."

"Not necessary, I'll send a team from the field office in Paris."

"Fine, that's great. They can pick me up when I land in Prague."

"You're not going to Prague."

"I speak Czech, I speak Romanian. I have contacts in Prague that can help us!" There was a desperation in his voice that she understood, she felt sympathy for. He had lost so many before, lacked a family of blood relatives but these people- his agents were his family, and Hetty was part of that- she understood.

"You are no longer on this case Agent Callen."

His emotions were showing and she had to steel herself against them. She had heard much about him, how he was a legend even in their work, that he was stoic always had a plan... and here he was with tears shining in his eyes. She squeezed her eyes shut for a second trying to keep her own pain at seeing it at bay. "Then give me a reason! Tell me why! What is Operation Comescu about?"

"It's about you Agent Callen," the Director informed. Callen looked shell shocked. "Operation Comescu is all about you." He sighed. "Operation Comescu is an ongoing investigation into a Romanian crime family. You dream up the worst pain and suffering a man can inflict on another man the Comescu family has done worse. They've done much worse."

She tried to keep it together, hoped no one noticed with her arms crossed her finger nails were biting into her skin. Vance reminded Callen of a victim from an earlier case, told him that, that man had been trying to warn him and that the 'what' of the warning was what Hetty was trying to find out.

"And she found out..."

"The Comescu family wants you dead Agent Callen."

"Why?" Sam asked.

"Some sort of long standing family feud as far as we can tell," the Director responded. She had to keep her face impassive. The director didn't know, not who she truly was, not her true intentions, not her own personal end game.

"I don't have... any family," Callen replied. Her heart tightened painfully. It hurt for him to say that, right there in front of her. "They think I do," Callen filled in.

Vance nodded. "They've probably mistaken you for somebody else."

She could see the hurt in his eyes. "Probably." He had a look of concentration and she could tell he was forming a plan. "Hetty was trying to protect me."

"And that is why you can't go to Prague," Vance said lightly.

"That is why..." his voice broke a little. "I have to go to Prague." To hear him sound so... broken it spoke of the years, those years she knew full well had not been kind.

"Hetty has resigned her position, she is operating outside of the authority of this agency. We will send a team from Paris. We'll find her. Try to bring her back. We'll try to get her the hell out of there. And you will not, you will not be a part of that team."

He took a moment looking hurt, and betrayed, yet at the same time she found he had resolve as he pulled his badge out of his suit jacket and looked at it for a second before throwing it down on the desk alongside his gun before walking away.

Well I didn't see that coming, it was a decision made by loyalty with love. She hadn't expected it, and yet she was proud to see it. And then Agent Hanna put down his badge and gun- it spoke volumes to her, the man's trust in Callen. His resignation was also followed by Agent Blye's. That the team would give away a job that meant so much... it spoke of the loyalties that he'd built of the faith they had in their leader, and in his mission to protect Hetty.

And even the Detective, not really an NCIS agent spoke."I would if I could."

"Yes you would Detective," Vance responded and there was a tone of admiration in his voice as he had to watch them walk away.

She needed to get her plan in motion, this hadn't been part of it... "Prague is a big city. They won't even know where to start looking."

Nell cleared her throat nervously. "I... uh automatically uploaded all of the Prague addresses and information into the system, it's already on their cell phones. I'm sorry."

She put her hand to her temples, what a mess, she thought.

"Find her Agent Hunter," the director turned to her. "Before they all get killed."

She nodded and stalked off, this can still work, she thought to herself. It had to because if it didn't... she couldn't think about it. She had to make sure he came back safe.