Callen woke as the familiar beeping of a hospital room filled his ears.
He opened his eyes, wincing as the light hurt his head.
He didn’t expect anyone to be in the room and he reached blindly for the saline drip he knew would be in his arm.
“Don’t take that out.” Arkady said quietly, “You were poisoned, you need the medicine to heal.”
Callen looked over at Arkady. “Why do you care? You’ve already told me what you think of me. You blamed me for Hetty’s…. Oh my God…! Hetty’s dead! I killed her!” Callen’s face turned white and he leaned over the bed to vomit.
Within seconds Arkady was at his son’s side holding a bowl.
“Shh… Callen, be still moy syn, that is the poison talking. Hetty was poisoned too, she will be fine. We caught the person responsible, she will not be able to harm you again.” He said rubbing Callen’s back.
For a moment Callen closed his eyes and allowed his father’s touch.
“Hetty’s ok? Anna’s ok?” He asked.
Damn his emotions; He had tears forming in his eyes and he couldn’t stop it, what on earth had been in his system?
“They are fine. In fact Anna was instrumental in apprehending your would be murderer and bringing her to justice.” Arkady said with undisguised pride in his voice.
“Anna’s alright?” Callen asked the worry palpable in his voice.
“She’s fine, she was here for a few hours, I sent her to get something to eat with Sam. She’s worried about you.”
Callen looked away sadly, “I failed her, I should have been there for her.”
“You did no such thing.” Arkady scolded his son, “I have talked to the doctor, you were hallucinating when they brought you in. Your team arrested the woman who poisoned you. She put more poison into your system, but after Anna finished with her…”
“Who?” Callen asked “Who did it?”
“A Comescu… although your team told me you knew her by another name… Taylor?”
Callen sighed and looked away. “Figures.”
Arkady furrowed his brow as he looked at the resignation on his son’s face.
“What?” He asked.
Callen shook his head and closed his eyes, he was tired, he’d had enough.
“Why are you still here?” Callen asked, his eyes still closed.
“You are unwell and need me.”
Callen gave a snort, the medications in his system his excuse for what came next.
“So now you care? Why? I mean it’s not like you gave a damn when you destroyed the rest of my life. Lizzy wasn’t saved by your actions. I was denied the chance to spend my life with her and my daughter because you thought you knew better. I lost out on the chance to grow up with a real family because you thought you knew better. Well, frankly father…. You suck and trying to be a father now is too little too late, you don’t want me. We both know that so why try? Because you think my daughter will hate you?” He shifted as a jolt of pain crossed him, he didn’t know where the pain was coming from but it felt old, primal and he didn’t like it.
“You are Anna’s grandfather, you have been there for her all her life, naturally she is going to choose to be with you rather than me. You shouldn’t be wasting your time. Go visit with Hetty, you lot all deserve each other… go on…. GET OUT!” He yelled.
Arkady stood, for a moment he stared at his son, his mouth agape, then, just as Callen expected he turned and walked out.
“Figures.” Callen snapped and closed his eyes again, ignoring the tear that left him.
Nell watched as a broken looking Arkady walked out of the room.
She stood quietly watching Callen as Hetty had told her to do.
She didn’t think he had noticed her slipping in as Arkady had walked out.
She silently took the chair across from his bed and watched as he focused on the ceiling, trying to control his breathing and his emotions.
After about ten minutes he stopped.
“Are you planning on saying anything at all?” he asked.
“Sorry.” Nell said.
Callen turned and looked at her. It hadn’t been a question, it had been a statement.
“Why are you sorry?” He asked.
Nell looked away a tear rolling down her face, “This is my fault.” she whispered.
Callen lifted himself up, ignoring the pain and looked over at her. “How on earth is any of this your fault Nell?” He asked beckoning her to come closer.
She moved her chair closer, after all, if he was going to lash out at her she deserved it and should at least make it easy for him.
“I didn’t ask to be born.” She sighed.
Callen gave a cold laugh. “I thought you had the perfect life. Nell Jones… Two parents happy family, why would you not want to be born with that?” He asked.
“I wasn’t.” Nell admitted.
This got Callen’s attention. “You weren’t?” He sat up and swung his legs down so he was sitting facing her. She wouldn’t look him in the eye, but she clasped her hands together and took a deep breath.
Hetty had known how important it was for her to tell him, so… Nell being Nell, she just jumped right in.
“I wasn’t. I was born into a crime family. Before I was a week old a relative took me and my older sister to America, to be raised in secret. My family had a feud with another family and I was to be a part of that.”
Callen gripped the edge of the bed tighter as he listened to her story not daring to interrupt.
“Enemies of my birth family found out and took myself and my sister away, splitting us up with different families, hiding us.” Nell grabbed the edge of her cardigan twisting it, “I was placed with the Joneses, a lovely family who raised me as their own. I was 15 when I found out I was adopted and twenty when I found my family.”
Callen gave a small smile, “It went well, right?” He asked hopefully. He really hoped she hadn’t had to go through what he had with his own father.
“For a while, but it was a lie.” Nell still couldn’t look him in the eye and it was worrying him.
“Nell?” He took her hand and held it, hoping to show her some support.
“I met a few cousins and my sister, my parents didn’t live in America, I didn’t find out till later, but my mother had died in childbirth with me, my father stayed in the country I was born in and was killed later on when the feud reared its head. He was shot in an attack on his home.”
“Feuds are like that, they don’t care who they hurt.” Callen sympathized with her.
“For a while, finding out my father was dead… I hated his killer. I hated him so much that it hurt, I believed my family, I believed in the feud, even though I knew his killer and I knew he wasn’t like my family said. A small part of me knew it was wrong.”
“You knew who killed your father?” Callen asked shocked.
Nell nodded, still not looking at Callen, silent tears rolling down her cheeks.
He wanted to reach up and wipe them away, but he didn’t dare move. He knew Nell hadn’t finished and he felt that he needed to hear what she was so desperate to tell him.
“I knew him, I still know him. I trust him with everything, including my life. But I got twisted into the feud with my family. They had me spy on him, give them information, find out things he didn’t even know. Then they had me help hurt him. I did, I told my sister about him, she got herself introduced to him and she seduced him. Then… She got close enough to poison him and I had to hurt the woman closest to him. The woman he saw as a mother.”
Callen pulled his hand back and looked at her.
“Nell…. Who are you? Who was your father and who killed him?” He asked.
Nell sobbed for a moment wrapping her arms around herself like an invisible shield.
“My birth name was Sabina, My father was Stefan Comescu and you killed him when you rescued Hetty from my Grandmother Alexa.” Nell said shaking.
Callen moved away from her in shock.
“You’re… you’re a … Comescu?”
Nell finally looked Callen in the eye, instead of the hatred he expected all he saw was regret and sorrow.
“I don’t want to be. I don’t hate you Callen… I can’t hate you…” She looked down as tears filled her eyes, “I know you won’t be able to forgive me. I hurt Hetty, I know she has forgiven me, I couldn’t kill her or you, I give Joana the wrong dose of the poison so it wouldn’t kill you. My family lied about you.”
“But you knew me, you worked with me…?” Callen shook his head, “How…?”
Nell smiled sadly, “I faked my records so no one would know about my family, my adoption records were ‘lost’ and I was just plain Nell Jones.”
“So…” Callen sat there at a loss for what to do, this day was just rapidly going downhill. He had had feelings for her, feelings he hadn’t put into words and now never could. But he couldn’t hate her… he… well, he didn’t know what he felt about her now but it wasn’t hate. “... I just call you Sabina now then?” he asked.
Nell looked at him as he pulled a tissue out of the box by his hospital bed and handed it to her.
“No. I am not her… I don’t want to be her. Hetty found me great foster parents, I am Nell Jones.” She took the tissue and wiped her eyes, “But I know that you won’t want to see me again.” she stopped as the tears threatened to fall again. “But you deserved to know the truth… that and …” she stood up to go. Hopefully he would just let her leave. “And I love you, I have since I first saw you.”
Instinctively he reached out and grabbed her wrist.
“Don’t go.” He said as she looked up at him in surprise.