In the Blink of an Eye

Chapter 7

Nell sat in the back seat of Kensi and Deeks' car as the three of them headed to Eric's home, along with Nate, who tagged along because Hetty asked him to so that he could speak with Nell and because the extra eyes couldn't hurt when working together to find whatever it was Eric intended for them to see.

Nate kept looking over at the youngest member of the team out of the corner of his eyes, not wanting to start the conversation while in the car, until Nell spoke up for him saying, "If you keep looking at me like that, you'll end up going cross eyed. I'm fine."

Nate responded, "Maybe for now you are, but you've been running like crazy going through all that surveillance footage and other things. As soon as you run out of things to do, all you'll have left is the wait. Nothing, but waiting and worrying and though I haven't seen the two of you work together much, I get the sense that you and Eric are close."

"Are you kidding me?" Deeks quickly spoke up sarcastically. "They finish each others' sentences all the time. It's almost disturbing how in sync the two of you are."

"Only to you," Kensi answered. "I think it's cute."

Deeks looked over at his partner as he replied, "Of all people, I wouldn't think you would. You're the most unromantic person I know. You…"

Nell suddenly cut him off as she raised her voice and said, "Hey, Eric and I aren't in love. I like him, as a friend; he's my best friend, and we work great together, but that's it. Maybe you're right about my fear for him, Nate. Of course I'm worried for him, but so are the rest of us, including Hetty. I just want to do my job and get him back. End of story."

"All right, I've done my duty," Nate responded. "Do any of you have any idea what Eric could have possibly found from his house?"

"He's got better than a state of the art computer system," Nell answered as they finally arrived. "He could hack into the CIA databases or into the vaults in Fort Knox if he wanted to."

Kensi replied, "It's a good thing that he's on our side then. Let's just hope that we can find him before the criminals that took him force him to do for them what he does for us."

Nate noticed the worry across Nell's face deepen, knowing that she suddenly thought about his captors torturing the young tech operator until he couldn't take it anymore and give in. She may not fully admit to her friends how she truly felt about Eric, not to them and certainly not to Eric himself, but they all knew that she cared about him deeper than just a friendship. Nate also knew she would never forgive herself for not telling him how she really felt if Eric didn't come back.

After walking inside and looking over the place, including at the computers hooked up within the den, Deeks spoke again saying, "I can't believe I've never been over here before. This place is cool, maybe a little worn down, but seeing as his equipment is this nice, it's not that surprising. We should totally have a beach party here soon, you know, after we get him back of course."

"I'm sure he would love that," Nell responded quietly as she took a seat at Eric's computers and began typing to get past Eric's security he had in place.

"Do you know all his passwords or something?" Kensi asked after Nell got through much quicker than she would have thought Nell could.

Nell smiled as she answered, "They're not really that hard to figure out, not for me."

As Nell began to search through all the files, Deeks asked, "About how long will this take?"

"Seeing as I have no idea what I'm looking for… actually, I think I do," she replied until she cut herself off when she found something promising. "It looks like Eric was looking deep into Mitch Calder. This engineer was certainly a genius."

"Yet he wasn't smart enough to turn down whatever offer our bad guys made him," Deeks responded. "Why exactly is that always the case?"

Nate answered quickly, "Greed. Our guys probably offered him a substantial amount of money."

Deeks replied, "And look at how that turned out for him."

"Eric found evidence of Calder getting into a pretty big argument with this man, who looks to be threatening him," Nell said as she brought up footage from a security camera within his lab, allowing the agents and psychologist to watch as well. "The guy did a pretty good job at hiding his face from the camera, but Eric managed to catch it in a reflection and then ran the image through a number of databases. Whoa, this guy's a cop with the LAPD; Officer Collin Kitchell. There's also a check that was deposited into one of Calder's bank accounts in the amount of $100,000.00 and it's signed with the initials, CK."

"Callen and Sam said that they suspected there's a mole within the LAPD, who helped the mercenaries get the supercomputer back," Kensi responded. "This must be him."

Deeks spoke up again saying, "I'll give the guys a call."

Nate asked, "If Eric discovered evidence like this, then why didn't he inform you right away? I mean, I know that he had quit, but… What was he waiting for?"

"And why would he go out to a computer store when he's got all this?" Kensi asked as well.

"Because, he was going there to meet up with a friend of his that claimed he had some information regarding the stolen computer," Nell answered as she read an email sent to her partner shortly before he was kidnapped last evening. "Oh my God! Eric's friend that works at the computer store also works for the mercenaries."

Kensi replied, "Eric was somehow targeted and set up to be kidnapped at a specific time and place because of his friend and this Officer Kitchell."

Kensi responded coldly, "Then, they'll pay. We will find them and get them to tell us where Eric is. We've got the friend at the store. Sam and Callen can try to find Kitchell. Good work, Nell."

"It was all Eric," the youngest answered sadly. "Nate and I will get another ride back. Just go do whatever you have to do. Please, find him."

"We will," Kensi replied as Deeks came back over to them after getting off the phone with their teammates. "We've got good leads and leverage now to convince them to cooperate, at least our store owner. He didn't seem like he'd be able to hold up against an interrogation for long."

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