Disclaimer: None of the recognised characters belong to me, I will return them I promise!
This is set immediately after the Hetty/Callen scene of Deadline- before the rest of the episode occurs- I wasn't happy with what was left out!
Punch after punch connected with the heavy weight bag, connecting solidly and fuelled by anger and hurt as years of perceived knowledge proved themselves to be lies. He could feel the sweat rolling down his face and into his eyes, yet he didn't pause for a second as his brain whirled through a million thoughts- feelings of betrayal at the forefront of his mind. All this time and one of the few people that he had trusted- actually allowed to see over the walls he had built over the years and she had been lying to him all of his time. His punching increased as a new wave of anger washed over him. He knew that soon he had to stop, had to get showered and ready for work, but he had to get the anger out of his system- couldn't allow it to fester for the day. He had barely slept the night before as everything the operations manager had told him whirled constantly through his mind. Sure he now had slightly more information in relation to his background, and he was glad about that- he just didn't understand why the woman had kept it from him. She knew how much it meant to him- knew that it tore him up inside to be missing such minute details that normal people took for granted. Finally he stopped the punching and rested his now weary head against the slightly swinging bag, he pulled his towel over his sweat covered skin and reached for his bottle of water, his breath being drawn in panting gasps as much from his emotions as the exertion. He headed out of the gym and to the showers, his mind many miles and many years away.
Sam whistled as he walked into the bull pen of Ops, he somehow felt that today was going to be a good day- finally Hunter was gone and Hetty was back at the helm as Operations manager- something that was certain to put his partner in a better mood and hopefully lift the funk that had encompassed him since their trip to Romania. He was surprised to find the subject of his thoughts already seated at his desk and flicking through a file whilst sipping at a cup of coffee. His partner looked as though he had spent the night there, his skin was flushed and his eyes lacked their usual sparkle.
"G?" he greeted in concern as he walked across to his own desk.
"Morning Sam" Callen greeted, looking up from his paperwork to greet his partner.
"You're early- did you sleep here?" Sam asked in confusion.
"No, I wanted to get a work out in before work" Callen replied, semi honestly.
"Hetty around?" Sam asked as he shrugged off his jacket. A flicker of something unusual crossed Callen's face at the question, but it was gone before Sam could decipher what it was.
"Not seen her" Callen responded noncommittally. Sam shot him a questioning glance that the team leader chose to ignore, and was rescued from any comment by the arrival of the rest of the team.
"Morning guys" Kensi greeted cheerfully as she sauntered across to her desk. "I cannot wait to finish work tonight- I have a date with Project Runway, a six pack of beer and a Chinese takeout" she told them all as she took her seat.
"You get crazier by the day" Deeks commented softly with a shake of his head- well accustomed to his partner's television habit he was unsurprised by her declaration.
"What's on the agenda for today?" the junior agent asked Callen, ignoring her partner for a moment.
"Catch up day unless something comes in that I haven't been briefed on yet" he replied, his attention remaining on the file that he was updating. Kensi looked across at his for the first time noticing how quiet he seemed.
"I love catch up days" she commented with a grin, getting to her feet to pour herself what she somehow knew was going to be a much needed coffee, before taking her seat and turning her attention to her in tray. They had been like that for less than a minute when a high pitched whistle cut through them- drawing their attention to the tech that stood on the balcony looking over them.
"Guys you are all needed in Ops" Eric summoned them with a thumbs up, turning away safe in the knowledge that they would all follow. Kensi practically cheered at the escape from the paperwork that she was dreading and the four trooped up the stairs silently to see what mission awaited them. Callen stepped through the doors first, almost faltering at seeing Hetty stood waiting for them. He covered his action with only the slightest hesitation and walked straight past her to stand behind Nell. Sam didn't miss the momentary pause of his friend, but he had no idea as to the possible reason for it, he was pulled out of even contemplating it by the briefing that Eric pulled up on the screen in front of them.
"This is Lieutenant Commander Steven Williams- a Navy Seal. He was reported missing yesterday in suspicious circumstances. None of his team have seen him since yesterday afternoon and his car was found abandoned on Venice beach with blood splatter around the wheel and driver's side window" Eric told them.
"Was he active?" Callen asked, keen to establish as much information as possible prior to deploying his team.
"Yes, he returned two weeks ago from a deployment to Afghanistan" Nell responded.
"Anything worthy of note?" Sam asked softly.
"Nothing, it was his second tour in the last twelve months, deployed with his regular team and there was nothing unusual" Nell informed them softly.
"What about here in the states?" Kensi chipped in.
"Nothing unusual. The team were involved in a trial of new kit prior to their deployment" Eric told them pressing some images on the screen to illustrate his point.
"What happened with it?" Callen asked as he looked at the new slides.
"It was new diving kit, the team gave mixed reviews and the company weren't awarded the contract" Nell told the team in front of her softly. "I am already running background into the company to see what I can dig up" she finished.
"Good thanks Nell" Callen told her. "Kensi you and Deeks take the family- dig up as much as you can any threats, any unusual behaviour the usual stuff. Me and Sam will speak with the rest of the team before heading over to see what evidence there is on the car" Callen instructed, instantly fitting into his usual methods of working. Each of the team members nodded their heads before going straight off on their deployments.
"Mr Callen may I have a word with you a moment please?" Hetty stated, her voice slightly unsure that added more to the mystery that Sam was seeing unwind. Callen nodded once at his partner to signal that he would catch him up.
"What do you want to discuss Hetty?" Callen asked, his tone unusually sharp. The two analysts present in the room looked up in shock, before exchanging a glance and excusing themselves from whatever was going on between the two senior members of the group.
"Please Mr Callen- I just need to know that you can talk to me, professionally at least" she stated, her heart breaking at the thought of losing the friendship that meant so very much to her. Callen paused before replying.
"I just don't understand Hetty- I don't think I ever will, but I never thought you of all people would betray me like this" he told her, his eyes filling with moisture as once more the feelings of hurt sprang to the forefront of his mind. "Just leave me alone Hetty" he told her quietly, and with those words she felt her world shatter a little bit more with an awful feeling that she had wrecked the best relationship she had had in recent years. She nodded before turning and doing as he bid. She walked out of the room, blinking in a rare display of upset she headed to her desk- not missing the glance that Sam shot in her direction, but choosing to ignore it for the time being. Callen followed a few moments behind her calling out to his partner the two men headed out to follow up the case.
"So what's going on G?" Sam asked as soon as the partners were settled in the car and on the way to the seal's temporary base.
"Nothing that I know of Sam" Callen responded, his gaze fixed out of the window as he sucked on the tootsie pop he had procured from the glove compartment.
"Come on G- level with me" Sam asked softly, knowing that something must have happened between his best friend and the ops manager, but he had no idea whatsoever what it could be.
"Seriously Sam, I have no idea what you are talking about. You think the equipment company could be behind this?" he asked changing the subject at such a pace that he momentarily lost his partner.
"If the money was right then maybe" he finally responded, his mind still focussed on whatever was going on with his friend.
"I'll call Nell when we are through here" G stated, glad that his change of subject had worked.
"You sure that you're ok man?" Sam asked, just needing to check before they got too involved in the case.
"Sam I'm fine, now let's find this missing Seal" Callen replied as he opened the door and stepped out, sure that his partner would follow.
"Well I would say that company definitely need looking at" Callen stated as he headed back to the challenger. The Seal team had had nothings but bad things to say about the equipment they had trialled, they had also given some interesting insight as to the pressure placed on their leader when he had fed back their honest remarks. The contract had been worth millions- so it as no surprise that the company had been bitter at not being signed- the question that remained for the NCIS team was how deep that bitterness ran. A question that hopefully their analyst team would have some answers to.
"Yeah, we heading back to catch up with that?" Sam asked as he folded his large frame into the driver's seat.
"Let's swing back the car first, see if there is anything for us then we can meet Kensi at the boatshed" Callen replied fastening his seat belt.
"The boatshed?" Sam questioned in confusion. "Kensi got a suspect that I don't know about?" he asked.
"No, just more relaxed that's all" Callen replied, as he took out his cell to call Eric- effectively ending the conversation. Sam shook his head in confusion- to think that he actually thought that Hunter's departure would have brought his partner back to normal, apparently not- it seemed it had made things a million times worse in some way that he knew nothing about. "Eric has managed to dig through the background of that company. Fairly newly established, the contract would have been the making or breaking of them and by all accounts it has ended up as the latter" Callen told his partner, unwrapping another tootsie pop as he spoke. "The CEO has gone off the radar since the contract was rejected and the company are filing for administration" he continued. "Eric is tracking every system he can think of to find him" he finished, liking the way that the case appeared to be falling into place.
"Ok, you going to update Kensi with where to meet later?" Sam asked softly.
"On it" Callen responded, already dialling and feeding all of the information through to the junior agent. They stopped briefly at the scene of the car, but within thirty minutes the full team were meeting back at the boatshed and comparing notes- each of them in agreement that the CEO or an associate appeared most likely in the frame for whatever had happened to the young Seal officer.
"Anything from the family?" Callen asked the other set of partners as they met over a coffee.
"Nothing that they could put down to this, the only thing they did share was that Williams was adopted and had apparently been trying to trace his birth parents- but with no luck" Kensi explained. Callen quirked an eyebrow at this update.
"Williams is 34 years old, anything to say why now?" he asked in surprise.
"He only found out he was adopted two years ago" Kensi responded, she had also been surprised at that news. "I don't think there is anything to link it to his disappearance though" Kensi stated softly, noticing the look of anger that crossed the face of her team leader and surprised by the vehemence of it.
"Did they give any reason why they hadn't told him?" Callen asked, his voice weighty with unexplained emotion. Kensi and Deeks exchanged a glance before the female agent responded.
"Said that they were trying to protect him" she finally replied, Callen scoffed at the response. Shaking his head to clear his thoughts he turned his attention back to the tasks at hand.
"Here's a list of all the premises registered to Jones or the business" Callen stated as he handed each of them a list. "You two take the top half and we'll do the rest" he instructed Kensi. With one final nod the teams split and headed off, Kensi and Deeks still confused as to why they had met at the boatshed and knowing for certain that they were missing something. At that moment neither of them envied the former Navy Seal that would have to try to piece that particular puzzle together.
"You think the whole adoption thing has something to do with him going missing?" Sam asked his partner as they got into the car.
"Probably not" Callen replied softly, knowing that it was unlikely to have resulted in a violent abduction. "I don't understand how they can keep something like that from him for 32 years" he continued, the words escaping him before he could stop himself. Sam hesitated sensing that somehow the deception uncovered in this latest case was linked to whatever was upsetting his partner.
"I don't know G. I can't imagine how they have done that or why. They must have had their reasons- maybe he was from an abusive family- I don't know G they must have done it to protect him" Sam reasoned quietly, sensing that his answer was important although not fully knowing why.
"Why?" Callen asked, his voice quiet.
"Why what?" Sam asked in confusion.
"Why must it have been to protect him?" the younger man asked, his eyes locked somewhere in the distance.
"They adopted him G so they must have desperately wanted a child- everything in his file shows that he had a well-balanced child hood and didn't want for anything. He had a steady family that loved him- that doesn't seem to me like someone that has deliberately betrayed him- it must have been through love" Sam reasoned, and Callen heard the truth in those words and couldn't find any argument. He sighed deeply. "You going to tell me what's going on G?" Sam prompted, sensing that his partner's resolve was weakening.
"Maybe later" Callen finally replied, reining his wandering mind back in and onto the case. "Let's find Williams first" he stated.
The agents finally returned to Ops three hours later, exhausted but happy that they had managed to find the missing Navy seal- slightly battered and bruised, but very much alive. Callen had watched the man's family gather around him at the hospital, his heart in his throat as he knew it was something he would never have. He had entered the welfare system at five years old- he could so easily have been encompassed in a happy loving family- but for whatever reason that wasn't the hand that fate had dealt him and instead he had bounced from house to house, never truly finding anywhere to call home and no one to call family. He cast his gaze around the office and saw the rest of the team standing slightly off leaving him to his thoughts, the closest thing that he had ever had to a family. He sighed as he squeezed his eyes shut- the missing seal was safe and sound and the greedy CEO was safely under lock and key- all in all a good day's work for the OSP team. Callen signed off on the last sheet of paperwork in the file, and placed it in his out tray. He got to his feet and headed away from his desk.
"You going home G?" Sam asked seeing the movement.
"Off to the gym" Callen replied walking as he spoke.
"I thought you worked out this morning?" he questioned, but he got no answer as Callen continued on his way.
"Is he ok?" Kensi asked in concern for her friend.
"No I don't think he is- but he will be" Sam responded, getting to his feet and heading to get his own workout clothes on- he was going to get to the bottom of this even if he had to beat it out of his partner.
Sam almost regretted his decision as he found himself once more face down on the mat, his partner's knee firmly driven into his spine. Frustrated at his partner's stubbornness he tapped out with his free hand and was relieved when the pressure was finally released. He groaned as he struggled back to his feet- his partner already bouncing on the balls of his feet ready for the next round- raising his guard as he genuinely did not want to risk losing his teeth, which appeared to be a real danger with his partner in his current mood. A few moments later and he was once more on his knees, his partner's tense bicep firmly locked around his throat. The pattern continued for the best part of an hour before finally Callen showed signs of a let up.
"You done?" Sam asked, rotating his shoulders and wincing as they popped.
"Yeah" Callen replied, sipping at his water.
"Good, much more and I would be in bed for a week" Sam responded with a small smile. Callen returned the gesture weakly, before easing his tired frame down to the floor and sitting with his elbows rested on his knees. "You going to share with me now G?" Sam questioned lightly, sitting down on the mat beside the smaller man. Callen sighed as he pondered how to verbalise what he was thinking.
"Hetty knew my mom" he stated softly, Sam couldn't hide the surprise in his expression.
"Say again?" he questioned in confusion.
"She was her handler for the CIA- was due to meet her the day that she was murdered but the op was pulled" Callen continued, his eyes glistening at how easily his mother could have been saved.
"Hetty told you this?" Sam asked.
"Yeah, last night" Callen responded his tone cracking. "Told me about the blood feud and about my mom's death"
"Did she say why she hadn't told you before?" Sam asked, shocked at the information that Hetty had withheld from his friend for so long.
"To protect me. She said she was worried that if I knew I would have set off across to Romania and got myself killed" Callen responded with a smile that didn't meet his blue eyes.
"She knows you well" Sam commented, since that was pretty much exactly what his partner had done when he had discovered the link Romania had to his past.
"I guess" Callen relented. "All this time and she told me none of it, just watched while I looked around for any tiny specks I could find and she knew some of it all along" he muttered sadly, tired of the betrayal and tired of hurt.
"Hetty loves you G- you know you are like a son to her. If she didn't tell you it was for a good reason" Sam stated squeezing his friend's shoulder in the hope of offering some comfort to the clearly distraught younger man. "She knows that you would do anything to find out about your past, and would stop at nothing to find out the truth- I guess she had to try to protect you from yourself. She has told you as soon as the threat had passed I guess" Sam reasoned gently. He could throttle Hetty for hurting his partner in this way- but somehow he did understand it. Callen could handle himself no problem, he could fight his way out of most situations, but there was no disputing that he needed protecting from himself.
"Her name as Clara" Callen whispered softly. "She was CIA, so was my grandfather. Hetty says it's in my blood" he told his friend, sharing the little information that he had.
"That's a beautiful name G" Sam answered softly, knowing that there was little he could do for his partner, other than to be there for him. "Maybe you are supernatural after all" he commented to break the tension, referring to a conversation the partners had had a year or so prior.
"Born not made?" Callen questioned with a quirked eyebrow.
"Definitely born" Sam allowed, getting to his feet and helping his exhausted partner to his feet. "Come on get showered and changed and we can get a pizza on the way back to your place" he offered.
"I'm okay Sam" Callen argued, knowing that his partner was obviously still trying to take care of him.
"I know G, I know. Unless I'm mistaken you have eaten nothing other than candy all day so it's in my best interest to make sure you eat something and get some sleep ready for a new day tomorrow" Sam responded with a smile. Callen shook his head, but didn't argue any further- heading into the shower which he was in and out of in five minutes flat including the change into clean clothes. Without any further hesitation the two partners headed back into the office and grabbed their kit bags, Callen hesitated at his desk noticing that the completed file had gone, he turned around and saw the ops manager at her desk tapping away on her laptop. He sighed and shook his head taking a couple of steps forward he paused for a second before gently calling out.
"Good night Hetty" he threw with a soft smile her way.
"Good night Mr Callen" she replied her relief carried in waves in her voice as those few words brought her comfort that their relationship wasn't irreparable and maybe he would understand after all. Their eyes locked- each heavy with emotion then with one final nod in her direction Callen followed his partner out of the door.