Father's Day 2015
Here it was again, another year had passed and it was 'that' Sunday morning.
He sighed as he looked through the window, both of them where he knew they would be, saving a space in the booth for him.
It had been a few years since this tradition had started. First it had been just him alone; then Kensi had joined the team and after a few beers had opened up about the death of her father. That year she had joined him. Then, after Dom, Deeks had joined the team and after his shooting he had opened up about his own father he had been invited to join their little gathering and now it was as it had been, breakfast for three on Father's day morning.
Callen's day had started the same this year. He had woken, showered and dressed. Made coffee and called Gibbs. Listening to the commotion at his surrogate father's house as Gibbs' team made their own preparations for the day a few hours ahead of him and Gibbs once again complained about Callen's lack of vacation to be there on this day.
Something had sounded off this year, the commotion at Gibbs' end, had sounded louder with more people. But Callen had brushed it off.
He had sent Sam a warning text, so he could be at least half awake before Kamran came in with whatever she had 'made' for him for breakfast this year. Although in the child's defense she was getting better over the years with her attempts at making Father's day breakfast.
Then, grabbing his keys he had picked up an envelope that was lying next to the keys and had headed off to the diner where he knew the two junior agents would be waiting.
On the way he stopped.
It had only been a few months since he had learned of his own fathers death in Russia. He had wanted more than anything to be there this year, to pay his respects to a man he couldn't remember but had been his hope for many years. Instead he did the next best thing. He stopped at his sister's grave. He hadn't been before the mission to Russia and he had a great many things to tell her. Although he hoped that she knew about their father and that they and his mother were all….wherever you went when you died and that he would one day be able to join them.
He sat cross legged on 'Hannah Lawson's' grave, his hand placed flat on the ground as he thought about the fact that most of his family were finally together and he was still apart from them.
Not that he wanted to die, far from it. He still had things to do. But he was slowly coming to terms that the only people who had ever known what the G in his name stood for were beyond his capacity to ask. He would never know.
He sighed and opened the envelope, glancing around to make sure no one was watching he took the copies he had made of the pictures of his family and looked at them. His mother, Amy and his father, Nikita, or Constantine. He laughed at the irony. His father also had been a man of many aliases, they had been more alike than they had realized.
He slipped the pictures into a plastic wallet and took out his knife and dug up a small square of turf. Slipping the pictures under the turf he patted it down gently. "Just in case you can't find them either Amy...tell them I love them...and I'm sorry…." Wiping a stray tear he got up and swiped the grass from his jeans. "I gotta go, I won't be so long next time." he vowed to her hoping that she could hear him.
Unseen, two figures looked at each other sadly as the could see the pain Callen was carrying and not voicing as he walked away.
He parked up and got out of his car and headed to the diner.
He sighed as he looked through the window, both of them where he knew they would be, saving a space in the booth for him.
Kensi smiled as she spotted Callen through the window of the diner and said something to Deeks who looked up and waved slightly.
He entered and slid into the booth next to Kensi.
"Hey guys." He smiled.
"I ordered your usual." Deeks grinned as the waitress came and put plates of food in front of them all."
Callen wasn't really that hungry but he did appreciate the gesture.
"So, how's it been?" he asked.
"I was telling Deeks about when my father took me camping in Yellowstone and I swore we had camped on a geyser." she grinned.
"Had you?" Callen asked, having never been there he had no idea.
"Na, it was a real camp site, but I really thought for days that the tent was going to fly off during the night when the ground erupted like Old Faithful." She smiled at the memory.
She knew she always had to talk more at these things as Deeks didn't like to talk about his father, and Callen had no stories.
No one complained though, they all enjoyed her stories and although they wouldn't admit it they both imagined doing these things as a child her stories adding more realism to their imaginations.
Both Kensi and Deeks looked at Callen concerned, usually at this get together he would tell them some story, about a foster father or two, but he was unusually quiet.
"Callen?" Deeks started, "You ok, you seem more...I dunno, off today than normal."
Callen pushed his pancake around his plate with a fork and looked up at them.
"My father's dead." he told them.
"Are you sure?" Kensi replied shocked.
Callen nodded, "Hetty found out, while we were in Russia. I saw his grave."
"I'm sorry man." Deeks said, "I know you were hoping…"
Callen smiled sadly, "All you can do sometimes is hope. But at least I know now."
"You gonna be ok?" Kensi asked.
Callen dropped his fork, "Yeah...I'm good...Listen guys I gotta go I have an appointment, but you guys finish up, breakfast is on me ok?" he dropped some money on the table and stood up to leave. "We'll do this again next year, you guys enjoy."
Not looking back at them he walked out.
"Shit!" Deeks swore, and the looked apologetically at a woman with children at the next table.
"He never said, it's been a few months and he never said a thing!" Kensi exclaimed in surprise. "Damn...I forgot to tell him about …" she jumped up and ran out of the diner to find Callen but he was gone.
Deeks followed her and stood behind her as she looked up and down the street for him.
"You know you aren't going to find him if he doesn't want to be found."
"Yeah...but this was going to be his surprise, and I don't want to be the one to tell Hetty we didn't tell him, she planned this for a month." Kensi sighed as she picked up the phone to make the call she didn't want to make.
"Don't worry Miss Blye, He will be here anyway." Hetty said in that all knowing way of hers. "Just make sure you and Mr. Deeks are not tardy."
Deeks grinned as he heard Kensi talking to Hetty.
"We won't be." Kensi promised and ended the call. "She says not to worry as he'll be there."
"How does she know that?" Deeks asked shocked.
Kensi shrugged, "It's Hetty." was all the explanation she could come up with, it was all she really needed.
Four hours later, Callen pulled up outside Hetty's beach house.
This was how he always spent father's day. Even though Duke wasn't a part of Hetty's household anymore, having been killed last year, He still needed to spend the remainder of the day with Hetty, sitting on her back porch, sipping tea and hearing her stories. It was, he had to admit the best part of the life he shared with her. Although he had never admitted it her stories were always welcome and even more now as he realized that some of the stories she had told him over the years had been of his own mother.
He never understood why she had kept these things from him, but in the thirty years he had known her he had learned to trust her judgement about everything.
Although he still wondered what was in that envelop to be opened after her death; he wondered what secrets did she know that she wasn't ready to share yet.
He was so wrapped up in his thoughts that he hadn't noticed the familiar cars parked in the street near to her house as he climbed out of his car and opened the door with his key to her house.
"Hetty?" He called on entering.
"I'm out by the grill Mr. Callen." she called.
"Ok!" he headed into the kitchen and helped himself to a beer, walked out onto the seafront porch and stopped. "Oh...er Hi…" he said shocked.
"Hey G!" Sam grinned, "We thought you weren't coming."
"Uncle Callen!" Kamran ran up to him and pulled him into a hug.
Callen grinned and returned the hug, "Hey Kam," He looked around, the whole team were there, Kensi and Nell were on loungers enjoying the sun, Michelle and Sam were sitting under a parasol at a patio table, Monty went to play fetch with Kamran and out of the Ocean were the figures of Eric and Deeks both enjoying the surf before the food was ready.
Hetty was near the grill, sitting in her favorite chair and in his usual chair was a grey haired man, his back to Callen.
"Mr. Callen, you're late." Hetty smiled as she looked up from her visitor.
"Traffic." Callen replied by way of explanation, "What smells good?"
"Cowboy steaks of course G." The man with his back to him said as he stood up.
"Gibbs!" Callen grinned, the first genuine smile he'd given all day and he walked over to hug him. "Happy father's day Dad." He said quietly.
"Thanks son." Gibbs replied and he walked over to turn the steaks.
"Why are you here?" Callen asked as he moved to stand near Gibbs as he turned the meat on the grill.
"Do you not remember the promise I made you last year?"
Callen nodded, "But I called you this morning I heard you in D.C...I heard the others in the background?"
"You heard Sam picking me up from the motel I stayed at last night," Gibbs told him.
"What about your team?" Callen couldn't understand why Gibbs had left the team he regarded as family in D.C to come all the way to Los Angeles just for him.
"Mr Hanna would you mind tending the grill for a moment please?" Hetty asked as she ushered both Callen and Gibbs into the house and shut the door.
Callen moved to the chair that Hetty indicated that he should sit in and waited.
"Hetty called me after your trip to Russia, you never told me." Gibbs said to Callen.
"I was under the impression he had called you." Hetty said.
"Why?" Callen asked looking up at her.
"Because you seemed to be coping with the loss of your father." She replied.
Callen looked away, "Can't miss what ya never had." he mumbled.
"You did have him, you are allowed to miss having a father." Hetty said moving to place a hand on his shoulder.
"I miss Duke." Callen admitted, "I miss him a lot, I miss you Gibbs sometimes, but you are at the other end of a phone if I need you."
"And do you?" Gibbs asked.
"Do I what?" Callen looked up at Gibbs totally stumped.
"Do you need to talk, you have lost two fathers this year."
"Constantine, Nikita, whatever the hell his name is was not my father, he's a name on a piece of paper somewhere. He didn't sit up nights with me while I had nightmares, You and Duke did that. He taught me what is was to be a better person, you taught me what it was to be a man with principles, my 'father' never did that. He had no excuse, he wasn't locked up in a Gulag, he was free, sitting in a coffee house in Russia drinking espresso, not looking for his children. He couldn't even be bothered. So tell me Gibbs why would I miss him?"
"Because you looked for him, because he is a part of you."
Callen walked to the window and wrapping his arms self comfortingly around his middle he looked out on his team enjoying the weather.
"He provided the DNA for me, you, Duke and Hetty made me who I am." He replied stubbornly.
"Mr. Callen, Your father did what he needed to do, he helped many people."
"And that makes him a saint!" Callen snapped and then turned to apologise, not hiding the pain on his face quickly enough. "He was alive all those years, we were even in the same city, but not once did he try and find me. I could cope with the fact that he was locked up and couldn't find us. But yet again to find out someone who should have cared about me didn't...I….I just …"
Callen stopped as Gibbs pulled him into a hug.
"Your father had his reasons, maybe one day we will find out why he did what he did. But you have never been unloved Callen, you know that." Gibbs said into his boy's ear as he held him close.
Hetty nodded to Gibbs and silently left the two of them alone.
"I wanted so much to meet him. I wanted to ask him my name...to know why he couldn't find us. You know Jethro at one point I had given up hope of ever seeing him then I was infected with that Spiral virus. I realized that I didn't want to be a disappointment to him by giving up. I had to fight to prove to my father that I would fight as hard to meet him as I assumed he was, fighting to meet me."
"Hurts when they fall doesn't it." Gibbs moved to sit in a wingback armchair.
"You put your parents on a pedestal, you build them up in your mind and then you find out the awful truth….they are human, they make mistakes. That realization will hurt son, but it's a new place to rebuild from."
"How in the hell do I rebuild? I can't talk to my father, no one knows him...well no one I can talk to, Arkady is still 'in hiding' in Russia."
"So rebuild from what you actually know."
Callen slumped in the chair opposite him, "What do I actually know about my father, Dad?"
"You know he helped people escape Russia and the Eastern block countries. You know he loved your mother, you and Amy."
"Do I?" he snapped.
Gibbs glared at him, "I've seen the film G, remember. That man loved his son."
Callen swiped a tear, Gibbs was as usual telling him the truth.
"Build from that G."
Callen let out a long, deep sigh. "You're right I should."
"Good." Gibbs stood up, "Come on then, I don't like my steaks well done, let's go and get them before your partner chargrills everything."
Callen stood and ran a hand down his face. "Ok Dad."
Gibbs smiled and slapped Callen lightly on the back of the head, "Told you I'd spend this year with you." he laughed as they left the room to join the others.
Callen laughed back, "Yeah and still no bar in sight."
They walked onto the porch and joined the team and this year, they all celebrated father's day.
art writing here ...