1975 - Black Sea, Romania
Ilena looked at her brother playing on the beach and ran off to get some shells for their sandcastle.
"Laney!" G called, "We need big shells."
She smiled at the confused looks on the faces of the other people around them knowing that not many people in this sector spoke English.
They thought it was their own magic language, Amy, their mama had spoken it and they had heard a reel to reel recording of their mothers voice every night since they were born, she read them the same book every night, a British story about a doll called Noddy and his friend an elf called Big Ears. She would always finish the tape by saying "Goodnight and sleep tight, I love you my babies." Then they would hear a rustle and the tape would finish.
Papa told the twins that the rustle they heard was their mother's angel wings and that she had come down from heaven to leave that story for them.
The truth was Amy Comescu had discovered late in her pregnancy that she had pre-eclampsia a condition that caused high blood pressure in pregnant women and was dangerous, she had talked Gregori into buying a reel to reel recorder so she could tape stories for her babies, so she could read to them if anything happened to her.
The week before the babies were born Gregori had come home with the recorder and she had picked up her favorite Enid Blyton book and started reading.
Before she could record another she was dead, she had hemorrhaged in childbirth and died of the complications. Gregori had insisted that the children were played the tape every night, in the hope that both they and he himself would not forget her voice.
Ilena waved at her brother as he dug deeper and deeper into the sand with his spade, biting his lip in concentration. She turned to look for more shells when a hand clasped itself over her mouth.
She kicked and screamed until she realized it was Nikolai.
"You scared me," she said as she relaxed and he released his hand.
Nikolai smiled, "Come on Ilena, let's go and get ice cream for you and Gregori."
Ilena headed towards the blue and red cart in front of them.
"No wait, there is a new shop just across the road there," He pointed to the road that ran up alongside the beach. Ilena nodded and took his hand.
They stood at the road waiting to cross when a dark colored van pulled up in front of them, Nikolai put his hand over the child's mouth and put her inside the van and quickly sped off.
He turned around to see Garasovic running along the sand.
Garasovic sighed with relief as he saw Gregori and handed him a toy.
Nikolai watched as the man singled out his partner and put a bullet in her head, quietly he snuck up behind Gregori and covering his mouth grabbed him off the beach, leaving the bucket spade and tin soldier lying where they fell.
Gregori was kicking he didn't like this, "Shh!" Nikolai spat, "Stop squirming."
Gregori stopped moving in shock, Nikolai knew their magic language!
As the second van pulled up Nikolai opened the door, Gregori realized he was being taken away and panicked, he kicked out again and as Nikolai tried to put him in the van, losing his hold on the boy Gregori hit his head on the door and was knocked out.
"You better not have killed him?" Agent Granger snapped looking at the boy, "He's the whole point of this operation."
Nikolai jumped in and checked him over, "Nope, he has a slight concussion maybe, but he'll be ok."
The van sped off to join another van at the airport.
Ilena was sitting with a woman who kept looking at her strangely. "I want my baby brother." She said crying.
"You two are twins," the woman snapped,
"I am the biggest." Ilena insisted.
The woman looked at the clipboard, "What is your name?" she asked.
"Laney." She said.
The woman wrote down, 'Amy.'
"Sit in the back child."
"I want to go home!" Ilena cried.
Five minutes later she looked up and wiped her eyes as Nikolai came up the steps and climbed onto the plane carrying Gregori.
"G!" Ilena called, she struggled as the woman from earlier put a chloroform cloth over her face until she passed out.
"So what is the boy's name…For when we arrive?" She asked,
Nikolai looked at him, "His sister said; it's G."
"That's not a name, it's a letter." The agent snapped at him.
Agent Granger sat next to her, "Agent Monroe, do you really want this boy looking up his name and finding out he's the missing son of Gregori Comescu?" he took the clipboard from her.
"Where is Agent Callen?" Agent Monroe asked.
"She didn't make it," Nikolai said sadly as he reached over and pulled the large door to the plane closed.
Agent Monroe sat back taking her clipboard back from Agent Granger, he had seniority but the paperwork was still her job.
"So, Owen, what are we to do with them?"
"A team will be organized to keep an eye on them growing up, we are to steer them into occupations that will keep them close and when it is time they will be told a modified version of their stories. Hopefully they will be the destruction of the Comescu regime."
Nikolai and Monroe slept most of the way back to the US, Granger sat watching the children. He was uncertain of this assignment from the beginning but Director Colby had listened to Clara Callen's explanation of the plan, Ok the idea had been that she and Agent Resnikov raise the children, but that obviously wasn't going to work now. He leant over and nudged Nikolai awake.
"Hey," he said quietly.
Nikolai looked tiredly at him, "What Owen?" he yawned.
"You were supposed to raise them with Clara, what are you going to do?" he asked.
Nikolai shrugged, "I don't know, I cannot raise them, I didn't want to. Clara was my partner, it was her idea, I think maybe we should hide them in the system. I can keep an eye on the boy, he's the one I worry about the most, Ilena…she's more like her mother Amy. She will probably be just as sweet, but the boy…Gregori, he has his father's dark temper, and it is the only reason I agreed to go along with this plan."
"This is going to end badly." Owen said to himself watching the boy stir, "We didn't Chloroform the boy did we?" he asked.
Nikolai shook his head, "He hit his head as I was getting him into the van, he should be ok though."
Owen sighed and picked up the clipboard again, "So do we have papers for them?" he asked.
Nikolai nodded, "I have these, Clara made them." He said.
Owen looked over them, "Both children were to be Callen's?" he asked. "There are no first names on these."
Monroe opened a sleepy eye, "The girl said her name was Amy."
Nikolai looked surprised, "Amy was the mothers name…" he looked through the file on the Comescu's Amy Stevens, met Nikolai Comescu when she was employed as a nanny for Gregori Comescu's daughter Alexa, her mother died in 'suspicious' circumstances after an affair, we believe Gregori had her killed."
"Does she have any family; we can drop the kids off with?"
Monroe stretched and sat upright, "Amy Stevens' family comes from real old English money, when she married a criminal in Romania they disowned her. Her father Lord Simon Stevens knows about the children and about the plan, he's willing to take the girl, but doesn't want the boy. He'll be waiting at the airport to take her."
The plane touched down at 2am, at a private airfield in Virginia. A large black Rolls Royce sat on the tarmac and a tall blond haired aristocrat got out of the car.
"Lord Stevens?" Agent Monroe asked carrying the sleeping girl; Owen was behind him holding the boy.
"It this them?" He asked curtly.
"Yes Sir, This is Ilena…" she stopped as Nikolai interrupted.
"You should just know her as Amy, we named her after your daughter, and her nickname is Laney so if she makes a mistake it will not be too noticeable."
"Are you sure you won't take the boy?" Owen asked.
"No. it looks too much like his father, I read Clara Callen's report. I won't take him, he's your responsibility." Simon took the sleeping child and placed her in the car.
He climbed in the back as the car drove away G's hand reached out towards his sister, "Laney…" he called in his sleep.
Owen looked sadly at the child, "Let's get him inside."
It was daylight when he woke up and he had no idea where he was, his head hurt and something was missing…something important.
"Mama?" He called rubbing his eyes.
"Hello?" A woman in white said as she shined a bright light in his eyes, "Good morning Mr. Callen?"
The boy looked at her confused.
"Your name is G. Callen, you are in a hospital in Virginia you were in an accident, I'm afraid your mommy and daddy were hurt, but a lady is coming to take you to a new home."
He burst into tears that must be what he was missing, he couldn't remember….laney? The name seemed right but maybe not, maybe it was a bear, he looked there should be a bear….something, something blue…the bear must have been called Laney, but it wasn't here.
A small woman knocked on the door, "Hello Mr. Callen." She said
He looked up his face still blank.
"You hit your head, you do not remember what happened?" she asked her funny accent making him tip his head in an enquiring pose.
She smiled, "We have you first foster home ready to take you, and you will meet your social worker soon."
"Where am I?"
The woman stopped and looked at him, "You are in America Mr. Callen you must not use that language anymore, it is a bad language."
G looked at her in astonishment; he had never been told that his words were bad.
"What is my name?" he asked.
"We do not know, all we know is your name is G. Callen…we cannot find any relatives for you so you will go into foster care until you can take care of yourself."
G pulled the blanket up and stuck his thumb in his mouth his other hand searching for something…but it wasn't there.
Agent Johnson dropped Callen outside his new house and he grabbed his bag and leant against the car.
"We have you place here for the weekend, maybe longer." She said, "Come on he is expecting you."
Grabbing his bag he walked up the path to the assigned home.
"Yeah?" a man opened the door.
"My names Johnson, Child services are you Mr. Davis?" she asked.
The man nodded, "This the kid?" he asked looking Callen up and down.
Callen gulped he knew this wasn't going to be a good placement.
"Yeah he's all yours, Callen I'll be by to pick you up on Monday to get you placed in your new school."
"No…wait…I…" he argued in vain as she turned to go.
Alice got in her car and drove as far as the stop sign on the corner watching as Mike Davis, known abuser, grabbed Callen by the neck and dragged him into the house. As the door slammed shut she sobbed.
Picking up the cell phone she called the number again, "I can't do this…he's just a kid."
"You know who he is, do you want him loose? This is a long term operation Agent Johnson, you are paid well. If you can't handle it we have a vacancy in Siberia you can have." The voice on the other end said.
"No…It's fine I'll get him enrolled in school on Monday" she said.
Callen held his breath as Mike Davis slammed him up against the wall.
"So the whole weekend you're mine boy." He snarled as he locked the door.
Callen scanned the area for escape routes but he had learned quickly after his last two escape attempts that the foster carers were getting meaner and the houses harder for him to escape from.
He braced himself as he saw the hand rise up and clenched his teeth bracing them from the inside with his tongue as he was backhanded.
"Gonna teach you to toughen up boy, that's why you're here." Mike said. "I'm gonna make you scream, I love hearing little boys scream."
Callen glared at him and decided, there was no way in hell he was making a sound.
Four hours later, naked from the waist up, bleeding and bruised he was thrown with his bag onto a mattress in the corner of a small room. A bowl of soup and a roll were on the floor.
"Eat that and sleep, we start again in the morning." Mike snapped.
He slammed the door shut and bolted it from the outside.
Callen opened one bloodied and bruised eye. There were no windows the only light was through the wire-meshed panel at the top of the door. There was a pillow and a blanket on the mattress but nothing else.
He could smell the food and he was so hungry, he reached over and tasted a bit, it was bitter mixed with the blood in his mouth but he ate as best as he could. After all it might be the last meal he ever got.
He never made a sound as he ate, but the saltiness of his tears dampened down the bread, he finished his food curled up in the corner on the mattress and passed out.
Mike watched the kid through close circuit television, he had been surprised when he'd been told that child services were willingly dropping off a child with him, he knew he had been taken off of the list years ago for the abuse of the boys in his care, but they had all been wimps he had just been teaching them lift skills. Now he knew that Child services knew this and were giving him a chance with this boy. Although he thought maybe, his wife had something to do with it...if so he was going to have to buy her a present, maybe a nice new china tea set.
He had tried to be a good foster parent, but boy's just pushed too much. Callen's look to him as Ms Johnson had driven away was proof that this kid needed to be brought into line; he was going to get it right this time though. He wasn't going to cross the line, but God Damn if that boy weren't purty.
He paced for an hour outside the boy's room as Callen slept. "No gonna do it, won't cross the line…" he muttered repeatedly, pacing back and forth.
"Damn It!" he swore and reached for the key on the wall by the door.
Outside a neighbor walking a dog shuddered as he heard an earsplitting scream.
Monday morning a broken, bruised and defeated Callen stood at the door as Alice pulled up.
"Good morning Callen did you have a nice weekend."
Callen didn't look at her, "Yes ma'am." He croaked out.
"What happened to you this weekend?" she asked noticing the bruises.
"Neighbor kids beat me ma'am. Mr. Davis was an excellent foster carer…I'd like to…S…S…Stay…please…" he asked shaking telling her everything he had been ordered to say.
Alice smiled, Mr. Davis had been everything that she had been told, she knew he'd get Callen into line. "Not right now we have another placement for you, but if you misbehave, I'm sure we can bring you back again."
Callen shot her a terrified look and then looked straight down.
"Thank you Ma'am…Thank you Mr.…Mr.…D…Davis for your hosp…hospitality," he said and froze as Davis put an arm around his shoulders and leaned into his ear.
"You did good kid I'm gonna miss you," he licked under Callen's ear with a small smirk as Callen jumped and tears rolled down his face.
"Come along Callen I don't have….."Alice started as Callen raced, limping past her and shot into the car. He didn't care where he was going right now anywhere was better than here.
1982 – Langley, Virginia.
Hetty looked over the latest report from Agent Johnson.
Callen was doing as well as she had expected.
The idea of driving his father's stubborn streak out of him was working; using Mike Davis had been a godsend. He had in one weekend straightened the boy up. She didn't really want to know what he did, she never asked, but whatever it was it had worked.
According to Agent Johnson in the month since he'd spent the weekend with Davis, Callen now buckled down at his education, didn't play up at all and focused solely on his studies.
She had his life planned out and he had strayed from the path. He had started getting cocky and getting in with the wrong crowd, he needed to learn that other people controlled his life and that he would be guided in the way she needed him to be.
She picked up another report from the Asian office, Gregori Comescu had found her false lead and was currently tearing Asia apart looking for his children. Her plan in some was still on track, All Comescu business activities had been put on hold while Gregori Comescu searched the earth for his children.
She looked at the picture of the girl, she was coming along nicely, she was accomplished in art and literature, competent with a blade, Lord Stevens had made sure she received all the training she needed, he had changed her name to Grace and she was without a doubt following the plan she had made.
Lord Stevens had called her that very morning arranging her to foster Grace for a while, he had business in Romania and didn't want to raise suspicion by taking her with him, so he had told her of her aunt Hetty in America, she was to go there and learn how to ride western style and shoot. According to Simon, Grace was looking forward to the visit immensely she had called it her American Summer adventure holiday and had already packed twice.
She would be leaving in six weeks to spend three months with Hetty, The Director approved the time off and she found that she was looking forward to it as well.
1982 – Reseda California.
Callen sat in the back of the classroom of his latest school and in the back of his notebook he planned.
His latest foster parents were ok; they neglected him most of the time, the sort he preferred. He was fed up listening to the kids planning their summer vacations, and then he had a plan.
He needed a vacation from life.
Three months sun, sea, sands…no people…
The more he thought about it the more he liked the idea. Surviving in the wilderness, it had to be better and easier than surviving in foster care. He didn't even have to go far, just blend in on the streets, and disappear. It wasn't like anyone was really looking out for him or would care if he were gone.
He'd written his assignment out quickly. Recently he'd learned that they never spoke of Mike Davis if his grades were high and the threat of going back there diminished by the day.
He didn't want to get in trouble, but just once he wanted to be a kid, to walk along the beach for fun, play arcade games, go to a movie through the main door with a soda and popcorn and not get chased out.
He always got the urge to go to the beach in the summer and build a sandcastle. He had no idea why, he'd never been allowed to go to the beach and had never built one, sometimes he'd been in homes where the families had gone for a day at the beach, but he had been told to stay home, work on a project, he'd even been locked in his room once or twice. But today it was hot; a group of kids had been talking about hopping on a bus to go to the beach. He'd been finding lost pennies and nickels for months and was sure he had enough for a ticket.
He slipped out of school early and headed to the bus stop.
As he climbed onto the bus he noticed a black car following the man talking to himself.
Within moments of the bus pulling away red and blue flashing lights forced the bus to stop as two men with badges climbed onto the bus.
"Sorry folks we are after a runaway kid." The older of the two agents said.
Callen sank down in his seat.
"Come on Callen, you know better than that." Granger said as he looked down at the glowering boy.
"I just wanna see the beach." He snapped.
Granger looked down at him, he had grown a lot since he'd last seen him, He was muscular and lean, and he knew the boy could be trouble, but he had been told the boy would behave for the right phrase, "Just come with us, or we'll have to send you back to Davis." He had no idea what that meant but the boy stiffened up, grabbed his bag and walked off the bus without saying a word.
"That's good." Granger sighed; he thought he'd have trouble from the kid.
Callen shot a look at this cop, he knew not to play up now and he couldn't tell them to help him with Davis as this cop guy apparently already knew.
Callen sank to the ground by the man's car clutching his bag his only possession in the world and honestly just wished he were anywhere else but here.
Granger opened the door and Callen climbed in, "We have to take you home Callen." He said.
Callen shrugged, "Don't have one." He said.
"Where are you staying?" Granger asked.
Callen pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket with the address of his new home he'd been given that morning.
Granger looked at it nodded and drove the car.
"You know, it can't be that bad that you keep wanting to run away." Granger said to him.
Callen shrugged, "It can be." He said cryptically.
"Maybe things seem bad now son, but maybe you're destined for greatness."
Callen stopped listening dozing as the heat from the sun, hit the glass and warmed his face, as his hand, as it was wont to do over the years, reached out for something that he was missing.