When the Bough Breaks

Chapter 4

Eric and the rest of the injured or those in shock were finally escorted to the hospital, while the head team, as well as Hetty, Granger, and any other able bodied agents and techs all remained behind to work the bombing, in hope of discovering how this tragedy was possible. Nell was permitted to accompany her partner and the others to the hospital, where Nate, who had been called by Hetty, would soon meet up with her. All other emergency vehicles remained behind to help with putting out the fire and to help those in still in need.

"At least five are dead, that we know of so far; two agents and three techs or analysts," Kensi said sadly as the team regrouped after working hard for over in search of evidence, more of the injured, and the bodies of those that worked among them. "Nearly a dozen men and women were injured, several of them critically like Eric. This is surreal. I just can't believe this is happening."

"We all feared that a tragedy such as this would happen one day and now, that day is here," Hetty responded as she and Granger joined them. "Whoever has done this, wanted to strike us where they could do the most damage and cause us the most pain. Not one man or woman has done this. Whoever they are, have a deep grudge against NCIS in general and in order to pull this off, they would have needed inside help."

Deeks stared at her as he replied, "You think that one of our own has sold us out and helped terrorists do this?"

Granger answered for their leader as he answered, "We do. They knew where we were based and they knew how to get inside to plant the bomb. Only one of us could have given our terrorists that information."

"The question is who?" Callen responded. "Why would any one of us help those that did this; anger, money, or a threat maybe?"

"Those that work for NCIS are loyal and devoted to our country," Sam replied as he looked over at his partner, then between Hetty and Granger. "I believe that whoever we're looking for feels that our country has wronged him or someone he or she loves in some way. I can't imagine that any amount of money is a powerful enough motive."

Deeks shook his head as he retorted, "I disagree. Anyone, if given the right sum, can be bought."

Kensi glared at her partner as she asked, "Are you saying that if someone offered you the right dollar amount, that you would do this?"

"No, of course not," he answered quickly. "I'm just saying, money is the biggest motivator to get scumbags like our terrorists to things like this; that and God, not that God would ever promote this or any of the other terrible things that happen in this world, but…"

"We get your point, Deeks," Callen interrupted. "But I definitely agree with Sam here. This goes way beyond money. We need to figure out if our ex presidents are a part of this and if the real information that was stolen helped."

Sam smiled as he responded, "Yeah, I didn't believe those two suits either; employee files, my ass."

Kensi asked in surprise, "That's what they told you was stolen? Surely they could have come up with something better that that. Who besides law enforcements maybe would encrypt employee files?"

Callen continued, "My instincts tell me that Cosgrove and Mikkelsen are guilty as hell. We just need to prove it."

"Then, let's get to work," Hetty finally said. "We solve this, for Eric and the rest of the men and women who have been harmed and killed."

Late into the evening, Nell was sitting inside the hospital's waiting room long after being seen by one of the doctors to make sure that she was all right. Physically, she was fine, but emotionally, Nell was devastated and still in shock over what happened earlier that day. She couldn't say much more than a few words at a time to Hetty, who had stopped in to see how she was doing, but since left to help the others work the case, or even to the doctors and nurses as they came in to check on her.

"Hello again, Nell," Nate spoke softly as he finally arrived and slowly took a seat in the chair beside her. "I apologize for getting here so late. Unfortunately, I had trouble getting a flight out here on such short notice."

Without looking over at him, Nell gloomily replied, "But you made it."

He nodded and answered, "Yes, I made it. I… I can only imagine how you must be feeling right now, Nell. I know what Eric means to you."

"How can you possibly know what he means to me?" she suddenly cried as she finally turned to look at the psychologist. "I don't even know what he means to me. I mean… He's my best friend, I can talk to him about anything, and he knows me better than anyone, but…"

"You're not really sure if he means more than that?" Nate continued.

Nell turned away and scoffed, then responded, "I… This is Eric we're talking about. He's Eric, but this has nothing to with that. He could have died in that explosion, he still might die. He was going on and on about how I shouldn't date this guy that I've started seeing, that he isn't right for me, and the last words I said to him were in anger. I shouted at him, telling him to mind his own business."

Nate looked down for a moment, then looked back over at her as he replied, "You blame yourself for him getting hurt in the bombing."

"I blame myself for saying words I didn't mean and leaving him alone," she finally answered. "I should have been up there with him. Perhaps if I was, I could have done something to keep him from getting hurt, like that."

"Or you could have gotten hurt as well," Nate responded. "Or worse, you could have died. You need to allow yourself to breathe and be grateful that Eric is still alive. You don't need to blame yourself for what happened. This wasn't your fault, Nell. The only people to blame for Eric getting hurt are the men or women that caused all this. Eric would be the first one to tell you that you're not to blame."

Tears welled up in her eyes as Nell quietly replied, "You're right. My God, what am I going to do if he dies, Nate? What if I can't tell him the truth about how I really feel about him?"

Nate pulled her into his arms to offer her comfort and then answered, "You have to have faith that he'll pull through this. And that the others will find those responsible and make them pay."

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