Callen had grown up, he woke up in his own apartment, and buddy was asleep at his feet as he practically bounced out of bed.
He looked over at the badge and gun on his nightstand.
"YES!" he shouted with excitement, Buddy barked and hopped off the bed and grabbed his leash.
Callen rubbed the dog's head and they grabbed some breakfast. His phone rang as he was heading to the car.
"Morning dad." Callen grinned.
"Are you ready for this?" Sam asked his voice worried.
"Dad? I've done my FLETC training and Director McGee said I was perfect for the LA team."
"So I can't get out of it then." Sam mock sighed.
"Nope…" Callen grinned, "I'm on my way in…" he stopped as Buddy barked. "We're on our way in." he amended.
"Fine but buddy stays in my office." Sam said. "I'll warn Deeks you're coming…."
"Dad?!" Callen laughed, "Uncle Marty knows I start today."
"Just don't give him too much trouble ok?" Sam asked.
Sam looked around the office, the team had changed over the years, Kensi and Deeks had gotten married, Kensi was now home expecting their third child. Deeks now was team leader after becoming a full agent the year after the Comescu trial, as a wedding present to his new wife.
Eric had moved on to head NCIS-Cybercrimes division and Nell was running Ops having turned down numerous promotions.
Hetty had finally retired last year, and handed the reins of the Los Angeles office to Sam, with Director McGee's blessing. Although she still came to OSP on occasion as a consultant. Deeks headed what until this week had been a team of three.
Himself, Dominic Vaile and Mike Renko. Nell occasionally went out in the field as needed, but she preferred to back up her partner in the office. Sam was still her partner and she would always have his back.
Nell walked over to Sam's office and looked at the basket in the corner.
"So he's coming today." She said as she watched Sam hang up the phone.
"Yeah and he's bringing Buddy with him."
"You ready for this?" Nell asked as she grabbed her coffee that Sam had placed on the table half an hour ago for her.
"No…I called Tim, I begged Tim…but he's as stubborn as Gibbs and Hetty rolled into one. Cal's FLETC scores were off the chart and the one posting he had requested was here. Tim granted it, said it would be a good fit." Sam sighed.
"There was no favoritism, we all know that." Nell said softly.
"I know, but we've been there, we've faced these guys down on a daily basis, we've been blown up…I don't know if I can sit by and watch that happen to my son." He said voicing the concern that had been eating him for months.
"He's 26 years old Sam, with all he's been through before the thirteen years you had him, he's more than prepared for this, Nate spent hours with him when he first made his decision to become an NCIS agent, it's all he ever wanted to do." Nell reasoned as she looked up as Deeks walked into the office, laughing with Mike Renko about something.
"It'll be fine," Nell said supportively as she stood up nodding at Deeks.
Sam laughed, "I suppose so…you'd better keep Hetty on speed dial just in case." He said as his partner jogged up the stairs.
In the years since he had adopted Callen, Sam hadn't dated anyone else, he hadn't even thought about it, Amy had been his one true love and Callen had kept his hands full, Hetty had been around for Callen's female support and eventually, Callen had grown out of his crush on Nell and viewed her as an aunt instead. Nell hadn't married either she'd had a few dates here and there, but nothing really full on. Although she herself had had a crush on Eric, but with his move to Washington their fledgling relationship hadn't survived although they had remained good friends, talking regularly on Skype.
Callen walked in the door of the mission, as he had many times over the years, though not in over a year, and this time not as the Operation Managers son, but as a fully fledged agent himself.
"Callen." Deeks greeted him warmly as he walked in with the dog on his tail.
"Deeks, hey." Callen grinned as he walked in the bullpen and took his father's old desk.
Buddy barked and jumped up at Deeks, "Hey Buddy…you coming too, I figured you would, I have something for you boy." He said kneeling down and pulling a badge on a chain out of his pocket, "It was Monty's, now it's yours you are our new mascot." Deeks announced putting the K9 badge around Buddy's neck.
Callen grinned as Buddy barked and ran off to his basket in Sam's office.
"Hi," a young agent Callen hadn't met came over, "Dominic Vaile," he said shaking hands.
"Callen." Callen said he smirked at Deeks, who winked.
They had talked at length the night before, and decided that Callen would just be Callen…he didn't want his other teammates to know he was Sam's son, until he felt they would not accuse him of favoritism.
"Is that his first or second name?" He asked Deeks.
"Just Callen kid." Deeks said. "Cal, this is Mike Renko…He's going to be your partner for a week, then I'm gonna trade you with Vaile, we'll see which one is a better fit."
"Ok." Callen said.
Deeks grinned as he pulled a stack of paperwork and dumped it in Callen's intray. "And the fun side of being an agent…Paperwork, You have to fill it all in or the operations manager gets antsy….or worse he calls the old operations manager."
"I'll get right on it." Callen said grabbing a biro and filling out the forms.
"G?" Dominic said reading over his shoulder. "What does that stand for?"
For the first time Callen worried about using his old name, he had wanted to use it for work only and use his real name at home, he forgot how much that question had annoyed him, but after the first week in FLETC no one had asked him.
"I gotta get coffee." He said walking to the kitchen and praying Deeks would take it for him.
"Did I upset him?" Dom asked.
Sam walked over to him, "No kid, but you need to know Agent Callen grew up for a long time in the system," Sam lied; they had worked out this back-story as close as could be so there were no problems. "He doesn't know his first name and doesn't like to be reminded of it, but if you want to call him Callen that's fine, however there will be no bugging him about it, do I make myself clear Mr. Vaile." Sam glared at the smaller man who cowered slightly.
"Yes sir." Dominic said as Renko smirked.
"That goes for you as well, Mr. Renko." Sam snapped as he walked back into his office.
Callen walked past Sam on the way back, "Way to channel Hetty Dad." He said under his breath.
"I heard that Mr. Callen!" Sam admonished although he was finding it hard to hide the smile as he said it.
Callen settled in easily, after 6 months the team, apart from those who knew where none the wiser about his relationship to Sam. Callen had earned the respect of his teammates on his own merit and he liked that.
Dom and Callen had been partnered up in the end; they worked well together as a team and already had an impressive case closure rate.
Walking into work that morning, Callen patted Buddy as he went to sit in his bed in the corner of Sam's office.
Sam was nowhere to be seen.
Callen sat down and started on his paperwork as Dom came in with the coffees.
"Morning partner." Callen smiled as he took his drink.
"Where's Renko and Deeks?" Dominic asked.
Callen shrugged "I dunno."
"I DON'T CARE!" Sam's voice was heard from OPS, "DAMMIT TIM, YOU SHOULD HAVE TOLD ME!" He shouted.
Callen looked up worried, Dom shot him a look. His curiosity getting the better of him Callen stood up and nodded to Dominic.
They got as far as the door when Nell grabbed Callen's arm, "Out…you…"
"Nell?" Callen pulled his arm out of her grasp, "What's going on?"
Sam stormed out of ops and ran smack into Callen. "Cal…my office now."
"What did I do?!" Callen asked.
"You're going into protective custody, Deeks and Renko are taking you to a safe house, you can take buddy, but that's it."
He grabbed Callen in front of Dominic and pulled him into a hug. "Hetty's dead." He said.
Callen stepped back shaking his head, "No…No you're lying…No!" Callen turned and ran for the stairs.
"Dom, head to ops Nell will brief you." Sam snapped as Deeks came up behind him.
"Sam…It's not the Director's fault, they only found out this morning."
"How could he escape from prison, get into Hetty's and kill her, I mean this is Hetty!" Sam said he leant against a support pillar and looked down to what had at one time been Hetty's office.
"I don't know, I really don't look, you deal with Cal and I'll call Kensi, she will need to know. You do realize that the others will need to know Callen is your son now?" Deeks said looking him in the eye.
Sam nodded, "I know but right now my focus is on Callen, I'm assuming he went to the gym."
"I saw him heading that way; did you tell him Yoska was out?" Deeks asked.
Sam shook his head as head as he headed to the stairs "I never got that far." He said.
Deeks picked up his phone and headed to a quiet corner to make the one phone call he never wanted to make.
Mike and Dom stood in ops as Nell closed the door.
"Cal not getting read in on this one?" Mike asked.
"Sam's reading him in now." Nell said wiping a tear she couldn't hold away.
"What's going on, Sam hugged Callen?" Dom told Mike.
Nell sighed, "Sam is Callen's adoptive father, our last operations manager Hetty Lange was his grandmother. She was found dead this morning in her home in Encino," She said her voice shaking.
Hetty Lange was a legend, even Dom and Mike had heard of her.
"Do they have a suspect?" Dom asked looking at the crime scene photos.
Nell couldn't look so she turned and faced the boys, "We know who and we know why…we also know who his next targets are, Callen and Sam."
"Why?" Dominic asked.
"Our 'killer'," Nell spat with total hatred, "Is a low life scum called Yoska Comescu. His family has had a blood feud with Callen's family since before he was born; Callen at 13 escaped from Yoska and came to live with Sam. You don't need details but Sam's wife at the time was Callen's sister Amy. She had died a week before."
"How is it he's never said any of this?" Dom asked, "I'm his partner, he should have told me."
Sam came running up the stairs into OPS, "Nell I need you to track down Cal, he's gone and he's left Buddy here."
Nell turned on the camera's taking Hetty's picture off the big screen. "It looks like he shot straight out the back, Sam…he took the challenger."
Mike and Dom breathed in, no one touched the boss's challenger that was a rule and Callen had stolen it.
"Call Deeks, get him to call LAPD keep an eye out for it, I need a whereabouts on him and check kaleidoscope."
Nell's computer dinged as she sent an update to Deeks, "He's heading to Encino…he's going to Hetty's."
"Damn him." Sam snapped, "Get me a car….I'm…"
"You're not going anywhere, Director McGee ordered you to be taken into protective custody as well, you and buddy can head to the safe house, and I'll go to Hetty's." Nell said.
Sam smiled briefly, "Always got my back Nell," he said with a wry smile, "I'll head out there, you take Mike and Dom, find Callen…bring my boy home to me…and if you see him….shoot him…" he ordered.
Nell nodded knowing exactly who her boss and former partner was on about, "Renko, Vaile with me." She ordered and headed down the stairs as one of her techs took over for her.
Callen hadn't even waited as Sam had told him Hetty was dead, his first instinct was to pound the life out of the bag in the gym. Halfway there, his phone vibrated.
He looked at the message and stopped, the number was unknown but there was a picture of Hetty lying with her throat cut and ribbons lying across her body.
"Remember when these were yours. I will take away all you love unless you come to me." The message said.
Callen paled and ran to the bathroom and threw up, he wanted to run to his dad and show him the message, but he knew this was more than revenge, it was retribution and he had brought it down on the people he loved.
If he had had any idea…If he had thought about him at all over the last ten years he could have planned for it, he could have saved her.
More pictures came to his phone, Sam with buddy, Nell in a supermarket, Deeks and Kensi out with their children. His partner Dom with his younger sister, Mike at a ballgame.
"Which one are you prepared to lose next boy." The text said.
Callen shook and as he saw his dad talking to Deeks on the balcony he made a choice, slipping back into the office, he stole the keys to the challenger, and stroking buddy goodbye he walked out the door.