When the Bough Breaks

Chapter 6

Callen and Sam rounded the corner and finally pulled into the driveway of Hans Mikkelsen's large and very expensive home, but upon doing so, they saw no lights on inside, indicating that no one was home. However, the two agents went up to the door and rang the bell anyway, hoping that maybe Mikkelsen and his wife had already gone to bed seeing that it was now pretty late. A light came on and within a minute the door was finally opened a crack by a woman, whom the agents knew to be their suspect's wife.

"Can I help you?" the woman asked groggily as she looked at the two men standing in front of her in confusion. "It's late. I was in bed."

"Yes, forgive us, Ma'am," Callen began sincerely. "I'm Agent Callen and this is my partner, Agent Hanna, with NCIS; Naval Criminal Investigative Service. We're very sorry to come so late, but I'm afraid we really need to speak with your husband. It's a matter of urgency."

She opened the door a little wider and then answered, "My husband isn't here right now. I believe he's working late tonight. If you really need to talk to him, you'll find him there."

Sam shook his head as he responded, "Actually, he wasn't there. We hoped he'd be here. I f he isn't here and he isn't at work, do you have any idea where he would be?"

"What is this about?" she asked again with worry in her voice. "My husband has done nothing wrong. He would never…"

"Ma'am, we're not really sure if he's guilty or not, but we really do need to talk to him, in hope of ruling him out as a suspect," Callen replied.

She stated, "A suspect; a suspect of what?"

Callen quickly looked at his partner, then back at the woman, and answered, "Early this morning, our head office was bombed. Surely you saw the stories on the news. Every station's been playing them all day."

"Listen to me very carefully, agents," she responded angrily as she finally opened the door all the way and stepped outside. "My husband isn't a terrorist. You are looking for the wrong man. He isn't home and if he isn't at work, then you're out of luck. Good night."

"Well, that went about as well as I expected," Sam stated as Mrs. Mikkelsen stormed back inside the house, then slammed the door behind her. "We should see if Deeks and Kensi have had better luck with Cosgrove."

Callen only nodded as he pulled out his cell phone to make the call, then turned toward the driveway when he and his partner saw and heard a car drive up behind their Challenger. Nell stepped out and swiftly walked toward them, then crossed her arms nervously, as she suddenly wasn't sure what she should say to them or why she was even there. Both Sam and Callen could see that she had been crying, as tears were still apparent in her eyes and streaks stained both sides of her face.

Not really sure what to say either, Sam spoke up again softly as he looked down at the youngest member of their team and said, "We weren't expecting you to meet us here. Mikkelsen isn't home and he's not at their office. We were just about to call the others to see if…"

Nell finally looked up at them and cried softly, "Eric's fallen into a coma. He isn't doing well. All of the others are out of surgery and are going to be all right, but Eric… he got the worst end of the attack. The doctors don't know if he's going to make it. They aren't sounding very optimistic."

"He's going to pull through, Nell," Callen finally replied sadly. "You have to stay strong for him and he'll make it. I know we've already said this, as I'm sure Hetty and Nate have both said this as well, but he's strong, just like you."

"I wish I had as much faith that he'll come out of this okay too, but until I know that for sure… I just want to work; to help you guys find the bastards responsible for hurting us," she answered firmly. "I need to stay busy or I'll just go crazy waiting around. Do you believe this Mikkelsen and his partner are the one behind this?"

Sam looked at Callen, then back at Nell, and responded, "It's nothing more than a gut feeling right now. We think so, but so far, we have no evidence that the theft and killings from last night are even involved in the bombing. Finding the link between them is going to be difficult, if there is one."

Nell nodded and replied, "I'm afraid it's about to get more complicated. SECNAV has ordered all NCIS agents to come in for questioning and all cases to be dropped until their own investigations are through and they find the traitors who helped our terrorists. Hetty told me all this before I left the hospital."

"Yeah, well everyone else can obey that order, but we have our own investigation to lead," Callen said smugly as he looked over at his partner and smiled, as Sam was smiling too. "I wouldn't trust SECNAV to get the scumbags behind this, at least not before they finish whatever it is that they've started."

"You both think that we were targeted so that we would be too busy helping our own people, instead of trying to find them if they had just gone after what they were really after," Nell stated in surprise.

Sam nodded and answered, "That's right. Let SECNAV focus on the bombing and whatever else the hell they want to focus on. We'll do what we all do best, together."

Callen spoke up again saying, "Together. Now, let's call Kensi and Deeks. We need to meet up and talk."

Meanwhile…

Hetty slowly walked inside Eric's hospital room once the doctors finally gave her the okay to see him after they finished working on him the best that they could. As she did so, she found that the goofy young genius she had hired years ago to become their lead computer analyst was hooked up to multiple machines to help keep him alive, including a large ventilator that made him look very small. The lower half of his body was covered by a blanket, while the upper half covered only by the loose fitting hospital garment he was changed into, making it so that she could see some of the bandages that were wrapped around the many wounds he had received in the attack. A bandage also covered his head where he had been struck by the falling debris, the main cause for him slipping into the coma.

"This never should have happened," Hetty finally spoke softly as she gently took the young man's hand in her own. "We allowed ourselves to get comfortable within our own home and forgot that it too could be vulnerable to outside threats; that our agents while out in the field weren't the only ones that could be hurt. Of course the proper precautions were taken, but we never believed anything like this was possible and now, you've paid the price. I am so sorry, Eric. Please, prove to me and to the others, especially Nell, that you have the strength that we all see inside you. That same strength you showed the last time you went out into the field and faced multiple bullets to stop that missile from hitting its target. You have saved so many people and there are so many people that still need saving. So fight, for them and for us."

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