In the Blink of an Eye

Chapter 8

"Got it," Callen replied as he was about to end his call with Deeks, who explained to him and Sam what he and Kensi had just learned. "Thanks. Keeps us informed once you find out from our friend at the computer store has to say for himself. We'll be in touch."

"Eric's friend working for whoever's behind all this probably explains how they knew about Eric," Sam said after his partner hung up. "What are the odds that the person responsible for killing their computer genius happens to be the same person who is kidnapped because he is friends with one of the mercenaries' friends?"

Callen nodded and then responded, "Or at the very least, he's the reason why they were able to find him, then lure him to them. I'm guessing that they left at least one of their men behind at the shootout yesterday to keep an eye on what happened next. It would explain how they knew their man was dead and needed a replacement so quickly. None of this is really odd at all, just full of coincidences."

As they got into their car, Sam spoke again as he asked, "So, how are we going to handle this once we get to the police department?"

"Exactly how we would handle this if this were any other case," Callen answered in frustration.

"Yeah, but this isn't like any other case, G.," Sam replied. "A friend of ours' life is at stake and now we know for sure that a cop is involved."

Callen responded, "Maybe so, but that doesn't change anything. We need to speak with Sergeant Williams."

Sam answered, "She'll want to handle the investigation in house. We need to be the ones to deal with him, or the LAPD will end up caring mostly for protecting his public image as well as their own, rather than caring to save Eric. We need to find him and interrogate him ourselves."

"We need to handle this correctly," Callen replied. "But we also need to be sure to let her know that we won't allow them to get in our way in case they refuse to cooperate with us fully. You don't suppose we'll get lucky and our scumbag will decide to help us without much of a fight?"

"When are we ever that lucky?" Sam responded sarcastically.

It was then that the two agents pulled into the precinct's lot as they noticed a number of its officers walking in and out, one of whom being the officer they happened to be looking for, thanks to a photo of the man sent to them over their phones from Nell, and Callen spoke up as he answered, "He probably won't help us out without coercion, but at least we won't have a hard time tracking him down."

Sam quickly stated, "That's if we don't lose him. Let's get him, partner."

Callen and Sam observed him from a distance as they slowly walked closer to him, but it wasn't long before he noticed them and took off running, just like any other suspect usually did, so the agents ran after him, knowing that if they did lose him, then Eric's chances of getting out of his nightmare alive decreased drastically.

Officer Kitchell ran hard through traffic and into the surrounding bystanders in hope of escaping, but thankfully the agents' wills and need gave them the speed and strength they needed to finally catch up to him and take him down, as Callen tackled him hard to the ground after he had gotten struck by a bicyclist.

"I'm guessing I was right about him remaining behind at the warehouse to keep watch," Callen casually said, then pulled the cop up off the ground, shoved him hard up against a nearby car to cuff him, and pulled him around to face him, his face suddenly growing cold. "It explains how you recognized us before you ran. You and your friends kidnapped our friend. You're going to tell us where he is."

"You're wrong," Kitchell replied smugly. "I'm not going to tell you anything you want to hear. I won't deny I was there yesterday at the warehouse. And you were right that I stayed behind after the rest of my friends took off before the rest of the police showed up. I watched your computer tech shoot and kill ours. I saw his fear after what he had just done, as well as his regret after talking with him. What makes you think he's still alive?"

Callen shoved the man harder against wall as he responded angrily, "Because you need him to do what your man couldn't finish. It's why you took him. Where is he?"

Sam spoke up as he added, "Tell us and we'll tell your other boss you cooperated. She may be more lenient with you than we will be if you refuse and Eric dies."

"As far as I'm concerned, I only have one boss and Sergeant Williams isn't it," the man answered. "Go ahead and arrest me. I'll be out in no time and there's nothing you'll be able to do about it. And just so you know, right now your friend is cooperating. Once we get what we need from him, we'll kill him."

"We have a right to hold you for forty-eight hours, which is all we need to get the information we want out of you," Callen replied. "Collin Kitchell, you're under arrest for the kidnapping of NCIS's tech operator, Eric Beale. We'll figure out the rest of the charges later. I'm sure the list will eventually grow to be quite extensive and if one of them becomes murder, you'll end up having more than just me and my partner here to deal with."

Kitchell smiled and then responded smugly, "I look forward to meeting the rest of your teammates."

Meanwhile…

When Devlin walked back into the large room where he had left Eric still bound to the chair in front of the supercomputer, followed by the man that acted as his right hand, he came over to the young man and knelt down in front of him as he spoke up asking, "How are we feeling, Mr. Beale?"

Eric's head was resting on his chest, but when the man before him spoke, he slowly lifted it up and stared blankly at Devlin, then answered, "I'm tired and feeling strange."

"That's to be expected," his kidnapper replied. "Are you feeling cooperative?"

"What do you need me to do?" Eric asked.

"I need you to do what I asked you to do earlier, when you weren't so obedient," Devlin responded. "Do you think you can do that for me now?"

Eric looked down at his bound wrists, then back at his kidnapper as he answered, "I'll need my hands, but yes. There's not a machine I can't break into."

Devlin smiled and as he worked to untie the cords binding Eric to his chair, he said, "Very good. Now get to work. I look forward to seeing if you're as good as I've been told. More than one life depends on you now."

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