When the Bough Breaks

Chapter 3

The closer the agents got to their center of operations, the louder the frantic cries of fear and shock grew, and as soon as they pulled into the lot, they saw that the main building was on fire and people that worked with them were rushing out and around them in panic. There was more smoke than fire, as the fire was already mostly snuffed out, thanks to help from the safety systems that had been installed for precautions such as these, but the damage had already been done. Outside, things looked bad, but inside, the agents knew the situation would be dire, as they had friends and teammates who were still in there.

Callen and Sam swiftly got out of their car and helped one of the techs that was suddenly shoved to the ground as people ran over her in fear, as well as another of the agents, then Callen quickly called out, "Have you seen Hetty, or Nell, or…"

Before he could finish, the young tech pushed Sam away from her as she shouted back, "I don't know. I haven't seen her. Let me go!"

"We need to find the others," Sam said as Deeks and Kensi arrived and quickly ran over to them.

"Have you seen Eric and Nell, or Hetty yet?" Deeks asked as Sam opened the door and the four of them stepped inside.

Callen shook his head as they cautiously began to maneuver through the rubble and around the areas still on fire, then as they made their way into the main room, they suddenly saw Nell, who was lying half conscious on the ground beneath a section of the ceiling that had fallen, choking on the smoke surrounding them. Deeks and Callen made their way over to the youngest member of their team first, while Sam and Kensi worked on helping a few others trying to get out.

Callen quickly asked, "Nell, are you all right? Are you hurt?"

She briefly answered, "No… no... I mean, aside from a gash… on my forehead… oh God, Eric! He's… he's… I was trying to make my way… up to him, but…"

"Don't worry, we'll find him," Sam replied as Kensi came over and began to help Nell walk toward the exit.

Deeks, Callen, and Sam climbed the stairs to make their way up to the ops center and as soon as they made their way into the room, they found that flames blazed throughout it, the computers and equipment were shattered, and down on the floor, lying on his back beneath masses of rubble, was where they found Eric unconscious. The three agents rushed over and Sam and Deeks carefully worked to lift the debris off of him, while Callen gently placed his fingers over his throat to feel for a pulse.

"He's still breathing, but his pulse is weak," Callen said as he continued to help the others. "We have to get him out of here, fast."

Deeks was looking down near Eric's right hip, where the large mainframe in the center of the room had landed and pinned Eric to the floor, then responded nervously, "Yeah, well that might be a little difficult."

Sam looked at him sternly as he asked, "What are you talking about? We need to hurry and lift this thing off him, then…"

"You don't understand!" Deeks suddenly interrupted angrily as he lifted his hand away from the area to reveal blood covering his fingers, causing both Sam and Callen to stop what they were doing and stare back at him in confusion. "Part of this thing has impaled him. We can't just, lift it off him. We need to be very careful about how we do this."

"We don't exactly have the time to be careful," Callen answered as he quickly looked around the room and saw the it wouldn't be long before the flames would engulf the entire room, as the sprinklers were no longer functioning. "We just need to pry him loose and hope that he's strong enough to hold on until we can get him to the paramedics. They've got to be out there by now, along with the fire department and other rescue workers."

More debris began to fall around them, then Sam looked over at his partner, and replied, "I agree. Are you guys ready?"

Callen nodded, while they prepared themselves to pull Eric out from under the rubble, as Deeks responded, "As I'll ever be. Let's do this."

"We have to get out of here; now!" Sam shouted after pulling Eric free, as the fire suddenly erupted, then together the three men maneuvered themselves down the stairs and through the building as carefully, but as quickly as they could, with their seriously injured friend between them.

"Eric!" cried Nell as soon as she saw them emerge from the building and that her partner was hurt. "Eric! Is he…?"

When the agents handed Eric off to a couple of paramedics that ran over to them as they came out, Callen turned to Nell and gently pulled her back as she rushed over to them and tried to get to him. She tried to break free from his grasp, but Callen held her firmly in his arms, not having to struggle too hard to do so, as Nell was small and didn't have much fight in her as she finally give in, sinking to her knees, and cried.

Callen held onto her tightly when each of the agents walked over to them, then Kensi spoke up softly saying, "He's going to be all right, Nell. Eric's got more strength than we give him credit for; a lot more."

"We didn't see anyone else inside as we made our way back out here," Sam said as he looked down at her sadly. "Where was Hetty?"

"I am right here, Mr. Hanna," Hetty answered as she and Granger slowly walked over from behind them. "I was called away for a meeting with Owen. How is Eric, and the rest of you?"

Sam looked over toward the ambulance where the paramedics were working to stabilize their friend before heading off to the hospital, then turned back to the woman that put their team together as he replied, "We're all just fine, aside for the shock over what's happened here, but Eric… We don't know."

Kensi asked, "Hetty, what the hell happened here? How could this have happened? This place was supposed to be secure and unknown."

"I don't know what happened here, but you can be sure that I will get to the bottom of this," she responded angrily. "We must figure out if the bomb that has struck us to our core, is indeed connected to our latest case I have just assigned to you."

"But Hetty, our headquarters and all of our resources have been destroyed," Deeks retorted. "Not to mention, one of our best computer analysts has been severely injured, almost killed. How are we supposed to do that?"

Hetty looked over at the team's LAPD liaison as she declared firmly, "In any way possible, Mr. Deeks; in every way possible. We will find the men or women that are responsible for this and we will bring them down, by any means necessary."

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