North of Morro Bay
Callen remained in his sitting position on the beach looking out over the waves. As he watched the waves crash onto the sand, he felt like it had crashed onto him. When he’d first found out his father’s name and what little Hetty could find out about him at the time, his father had sounded like a hero. Thrown into a Siberian prison for helping people get out from behind the Iron Curtain and gave them new lives in America. It had helped him a little after a lifetime of being alone, to accept the hard life he’d had. But nothing had prepared him for this.
“You should have told someone,” Callen finally got out. The shock about just how bad the situation was began to settle.
“Tell who? No one in my own government would have allowed for me to tell anyone, let alone fly to the U.S. and tell them what I had found. And no one in the U.S. Government would have listened to a Major of the KGB.” Nikita’s frustration seeped through in his voice. It brought back the pain he’d gone through thirty-nine years earlier.
“But you told Mom, didn’t you?” Callen looked over to his father, realising how his family had been destroyed thanks to those who were determined to wreck Nikita for refusing to continue helping them.
Nikita nodded, tears fell down his cheek. “I tried to get you safe. Your Mother’s contacts should have helped her. Mark was too late.” He wiped the tears from his face. “My superiors used me, knowing how I was helping people get out and start a new life over here. Instead of hauling me in and punishing me, they placed men into help me and to guide me to help the wrong people. When I found out, they knew I must have told your Mother. They found out her real identity and passed that onto the Comescus.”
Callen wrapped his arm over his father’s shoulder. “You should have asked Mark for help back then, Dad. He would have helped you, if not for your sake, for Mom’s.”
“I realise that now, son. Back then I didn’t know who I could trust. Times were different, your Mother and I should never have been friends, let alone husband and wife.”
Callen knew the history between both countries. His heritage was a mixed bag. If the news got out about who his father was and that he was in contact with him, his own career could be on the line. But he trusted his team and Mark. “It’s not too late, Dad. We’ll go back, you tell Granger and Mark what you told me and show us how to decipher your code.”
“I wish it was that simple.” Nikita stood up and faced his son. “A great deal has happened in this country thanks to my mistakes, Gale. It’s already too late.”
Callen shook his head, refusing to let it beat him and his father. “No. We’ve suffered too much already. You tried to stop it and pass on the information to the U.S. Government. Mark, Granger and Hetty can provide you support on this. Don’t not let Mom’s death be meaningless.”
His son was right. Nikita looked intently into Callen’s eyes and saw the determination he used to see in Clara’s all those years ago. “You are so much like your Mother, Gale. You have her strength and determination.” He gently squeezed his son’s shoulder. “You would have made her proud. I sure am proud of you, son.”
Callen’s chest swelled with love for the man before him. His own father was proud of him. He would do whatever it took to help his father out of this mess and ensure that he remained the rest of his days in this safe community. He hugged his father. “Let’s do this, Dad. For Mom.”
The drive back in the old girl was less strained than the original drive out to the beach, but the battle was far from over. The truck ran smoothly and the worries of her conking out became minimal and Callen was no longer in a mood with his father. The trust that he’d built up over the past few months returned and he settled again in his chest. But the gut churning remained as he continued to worry about his father and exactly who his father had provided new identities to live the rest of their lives as Americans. It couldn’t be good, especially after the look his father had given him and the risk he’d gone to, to keep it safe. His father was right, who would have believed him back in the day? His mother had been his only hope and she’d been killed for it. He’d suffered a life alone for too long, it was time to seek justice and for him to have his father and sister in his life - not hiding in fear.
Owen Granger spotted the old truck first, making it’s way up the lane. “The old truck works at least.” But the owner of the truck and his son, he wasn’t so sure if they would survive this. He’d hoped that Nikita would do the right thing and admit the truth to his son, for Callen’s sake. It had chipped away at his heart over the years, knowing how hard life had been for the boy. Clara’s boy. He’d seen her fire in him and it made him smile inwardly on occasions since he’d joined NCIS. He was tough and he had somehow survived growing up in the system. He studied the make shift family that Hetty had provided for him in the team. At first he thought it couldn’t work, but after working with them for the past few years, he realised just how much this family worked. Slowly he relaxed around them and they even started to accept him in that family.
Callen allowed his father to walk inside the house first, he couldn’t force his father to do this, but he would support him all the way. He would help him to ensure that this information was passed on and he knew that Granger and Mark would help him also. Hetty too, although at present she wasn’t with them in Morro Bay. But she would fight anyone who got in their way. She’d proven her loyalty to him since he could remember.
The door banged behind them as they entered the house. It was a tough decision for Nikita to sit down and tell them all what he knew and how Clara’s identity had been burned and why she was killed. But they had been her team, another family to Clara and it was with that in mind, Nikita began to tell them the truth.
“At first what I did was for good,” Nikita began. “Good people trapped behind the Iron Curtain, desperate to get out. The conditions behind that ugly wall were really bad. This is how I met Clara and Mark. We worked together for a while and Clara and I fell in love.” He looked over to Mark, who merely nodded.
“It continued along the same path for a long while. Amelia and Gale were growing up and we were happy.” A smile hinted on the edge of Nikita’s lips at the memory. “But I came across some documents that I wasn’t suppose to see, proof that the people we were helping weren’t German at all, but Russian sleeper agents.” Nikita walked over to the kitchen sink and poured himself a glass of water. He took a good amount before returning to the table.
“Where’s the box?” Arkady looked over at Granger and Mark, as far as he was concerned, they had the box.
Mark pulled out a manilla folder, the documents were now inside it. “This is what we found inside the box, Nik.” He handed the contents over to him.
Nikita looked at the documents, the coded documents and organised them as they were supposed to be looked at. Then he pulled out the photographs of his wife and children. “I transferred the names of the Russians from these original documents onto the images. On this photo of Clara…” he paused, seeing her so full of life and laughter brought back all the memories of his time with her with a brute force. It winded him, because he knew that it was his fault that she was murdered.
This photo has the agents’ original Russian names. But in code. He pulled out another image of Clara and overlaid it. “These images may look to be duplicates, but in fact, they were taken at different times. We recreated the same shot, but if you look closely at the background, the trees are losing the leaves in this one.” Once Nikita overlaid the autumn image over the spring one, they could read the names, although they were in Russian.
“What about the others?” Mark referred to the other family photos that were in the file.
“Amelia. She was eight in this image, the clothes were a bit on the big side in this one. We took the same shot six months later, see, she fits her clothes better.” Callen watched his father overlay the two images and German names appeared. Although they had to use a magnifying glass to read the names due to how micro the letters were, they were now readable.
“And these?” Mark pulled out the two almost matching images of a very young Gale. His vibrant blue eyes were dulled due to the black and white image. He was building a sandcastle on a beach. It must have been a favourite past time for him when he was young, Callen mused. The only memory he had of building a sandcastle was when a man handed him a tin soldier and his mother stopped laughing. The memory now held horror to him and it must have been why he stopped building them, although he found the beach soothing.
Nikita looked over to his son, he saw the look in Gale’s eyes. The memory of his mother being killed haunted him even as a grown man.
“Gale was only four in this photo. You can see the variation in the castle. In this one, he’s placed tiny bits of driftwood on the castle, but in this other one, shells. The driftwood goes at the bottom the shells on top.” Nikita overlaid the shell image over the driftwood one and American names appeared.
Mark moved the magnifying glass over the images and shock hit him over the names that he recognised as they appeared before him. He looked up over at Nikita and he saw the shame in what he had done.
“I’m sorry, Mark. I tried to tell someone, but after they killed Clara, I had no where to go. Max got to our children in time and hid them, but I was in danger from my own people and men who I’d thought were friends turned on me and I was taken prisoner.”
“You do realise who some of these people on this list have become?”
“I’m not proud of this, Mark. After Max helped me escape, I had no choice but to hide, the evidence had to remain hidden with Max. He had no idea what it contained, only that it was important.” It was important for Nikita to protect his brother, especially now as he looked over at him, confusion written on his face.
Owen Granger took control of the magnifying glass, anger surged through him. “This has to go to Leon. We need to protect our country from further infiltration of these Russians.”
“Can he be trusted?” Nikita wasn’t so sure if this man whom Owen talked about would do the right thing with this information. Nerves got the better of him and his hands shook. He quickly moved his hand under the table, but Callen took hold of his father’s hand.
“It’s okay, Dad. I know about the Parkinson’s.” Shock washed over Nikita’s face.
“You know?” He thought that he’d hidden his illness well.
“Mike Hobson thought I knew about your health issues. I had Hetty ask our Analyst to find out. I’m sorry, but you weren’t telling me, so I had to find out.”
For a moment Nikita felt betrayed by his son, but he shouldn’t have. It showed to him that Callen did it because he cared.
“You’re not alone anymore, Dad. Amy and I, between us, we’ll take care of you when you need us.” It was still new to Callen to have his family back in his life, but after so long without them, he was determined to make up for loss time. “But I need you to trust me and let me in.”
“You too, son.” Callen looked into his father’s eyes and he saw his sincerity. They were both very much alike when it came to keeping things to themselves. Both men had a lot to learn in letting each other in.
Callen nodded. “I’ll try.” He had a lot of new things to adjust to. Having Alyssa back in his life and a daughter had him adjusting constantly, but he wouldn’t change a thing. Neither would he throw away this last chance he had to have his father and sister back in his life. He took it with all the courage that he could muster and he was hanging on to it with his mother’s determination.
Owen Granger looked between father and son and inwardly smiled. They’d come a long way in a few months. Suddenly he felt like his work here was almost done. “Leon can be trusted. He will help us. He has contacts with all the three letter agencies as well as Homeland’s Deputy Director, Thomas Morrow. Not to mention his contacts with those in Congress. He’ll know who we can trust and we can have these people taken into custody as soon as we’re ready.”
Callen couldn’t help himself, curiosity got the better of him and he took control of the magnifying glass. It was weird for him to look so closely at images of himself, however, he focused on the names and his eyes widened as he recognised many of them. “We’ve had Russian Presidents?” His voice raised and almost squeaked in shock. “We’ve had two presidents in the one family from this list.” He thought back to the issues the U.S. had with Russia and how things appeared to settle when these two presidents were in power. Shock rushed through his body and the reality of the consequences of his father’s inability to get the information passed onto to the U.S. Government back in the 70′s.
“That’s not all, Callen.” Mark shook his head. “This one had been the Director of our agency for just over a year, back in 1976.”
“What?” Callen couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “What happened during this time at the agency?”
“From our perspective?” Mark looked over at Owen before turning back to Callen. “We shifted our focus from Russia to the Middle East, especially Israel, Libya and Iran.”
“So basically, Russia could have done whatever it wanted during this time and we couldn’t have cared less.”
“Yes,” Mark responded.
“And the rest? What have they done?” Callen pointed to some other names. Politicians, movie stars, lawyers, Bankers, CEO’s of the largest corporations in the country.”
“Each of them have had significant affect on our country’s policies and their hands in our military. This is bad news, Callen. Our country has been invaded from the inside and now control our oil, power, water, farming and money. If we don’t tread carefully and take these men in all at once, our country could be shut down in one swift motion.”
Nikita’s chest constricted as it hit home just how bad this was. “I’m sorry. I have caused all of this grief for you. This was the last thing I wanted. I wanted to stop this and get the intel through to your people before it was too late.”
Callen gently squeezed his father’s arm. “It wasn’t your fault, Dad. You weren’t the one behind this. But you can help us take them down.” He looked at the men who sat around this table. “What can Amy do to help us on this operation?”
A smile graced Mark’s lips. “I like the way you’re thinking on this, Gale. I think it’s time that you called your sister and had her meet us here. We need a Federal Judge and she just happens to be one.”
“Good.” Callen took in a deep breath. He didn’t like having to bring his sister on this plan, but she was the one they needed to help make this legal. “This is what we’re going to do.”
Callen grabbed a notepad and wrote it all down. The men looked at his plan and they all agreed it was the best way to make this as swift as possible.
“It’s a good plan, son. You think like your Mother.”
Callen smirked. “This is for her. It’s time we had our revenge.”