As he dropped to the ground, Callen felt his ankle twist. "Damn it." He cursed, he limped around the side of the house and out of a rarely used gate that he doubted even Hetty knew was in the wall at the back of the garden of the house. Covered with ivy, it was old and the lock was a bit rusty, but the key, which Callen had found years ago, was still hanging on the hook by the gate.
He unlocked it and as he went through, he heard from within the house the sound of his bedroom door being kicked in.
The rational part of him was yelling at him to stop and trust Sam. The rest of him…just said RUN!
He made it down the path that had not been used in years to the private beach, which Hetty owned but never used. It had been his refuge growing up, he had never told anyone about it.
One of the first things you learn when in the system, is to create a refuge, somewhere where you feel safe.
In this case when he had come to live with Hetty he had spent the first month looking for the perfect safe spot.
Every evening in the hour after he had arrived home from school until Hetty had made it home from work he had explored his surroundings. The first week checking out escape routes and hiding places in case of emergency. Such as this new mom suddenly changing her mind and getting one of the huge Agent guys she had working for her to come and kick his ass. He was pleased she had never betrayed him and as the weeks went on escape planning had been less and less.
In one of his last weeks before the fostering paperwork was finalized, he had come across this door, he found the key buried in the ground nearby and had opened it.
Going down the small pathway to the beach Callen had been surprised at how peaceful it was here.
Over the next few months, he had managed to smuggle a broken shed, which he had turned, into a makeshift shelter. A Hammock, an old leather sofa with a few springs missing and a stock of food and water; also a small cooking pot and camping stove. Hetty had not noticed any of the items missing and over the years where he could, Callen had replaced all the items.
The only additions to his stock now were weapons, a first aid kit, a spare cell phone and his bedroll, that Hetty had insisted he throw out.
Throwing his bag down, he collapsed on his sofa, watched the waves, and waited as his breathing calmed down. He carefully took off his sneaker and pulled a bandage around his ankle to stop the swelling fighting back tears that threatened to engulf him. Even here in the one place on earth, he knew no one could find him, did he feel safe enough with his feelings to let the terror that threatened to overwhelm him have free reign.
He grabbed some painkillers from the pack, took them and lay back allowing sleep to claim him.
Sam and Nate looked around the house, in the gardens and on the roof.
They noticed no cars were missing although they did not know if Callen owned a motorbike that was missing. In the end, they had to admit defeat and do the one thing they had been dreading.
They had to call Hetty.
Hetty was in the middle of a briefing with Director Vance.
After his initial shock and anger at finding out about the relationship between his operations manager and Senior Team leader, he had allowed Callen to continue his employment at OSP provided there were no more problems.
He knew that Callen would need some recovery time and this briefing was where Hetty was keeping him up to date as of his progress.
"I do hope your boy is going to be back on rotation soon. Our B team is good, but I would prefer, especially with the Vice Presidents visit to our San Diego marine training center coming up, that our A team was back and on their game." Vance told the other woman.
"Leon, Mr. Getz and Mr. Hanna are with him now, I am hoping he'll be back to work in the next month." She said. Her face was stoic however she did have her fingers crossed behind her back.
Leon smiled. "Knowing Agent Callen, that means he'll be back in about two weeks if you can keep him out that long." He chuckled.
"I hope so Leon. I do hope so." Hetty said.
She cut off the screen and turned to walk down to her office as her phone on her desk rang.
As she answered it the dread feeling that she had got bigger, "Mr. Hanna I need you and Nate to come to OSP, I have a hunch but will need Mr. Beale's help." She replaced the receiver and headed back in the direction of OPS.
It was getting dark when they both arrived at the mission building. They were met outside Ops by Kensi and Deeks.
"What did you do?" Deeks asked awed.
"What?" Sam replied.
"Hetty has spent an hour on the phone to the pentagon arranging for us to use a thermal imaging satellite over her house. And she's really mad." Kensi said awed.
Only once before had she seen Hetty this angry, right before she left NCIS to head to Prague to try to throw the Comescu's off Callen's trail.
Sam looked at Nate and shrugged as they walked in the room.
"What happened?" Hetty asked without looking up from what she was doing.
Sam opened his mouth but Hetty cut him off. "I don't care how much it will cost general, if it is that much of a problem for you send me the bill." She snapped. She waited and let out a self satisfied smirk, the same one Callen used on occasions, this threw Sam, he had been sure that was genetic not learned behavior.
As Hetty turned to the pair of them Sam realized the 'what happened?' comment was aimed at them.
"We were talking and Callen started to get some of his memories back. Apparently, he thought you wanted him dead, he heard you telling Yoska that. He remembered and he got convinced that you were off getting him. He freaked out and ran off." Nate said. "He also said. He thought you were just like the rest of his foster parents and he was stupid to think you actually cared, he seemed angrier with himself than anyone else." He added as an after thought.
Hetty held her horror in, she knew when she had said that she wanted 'him' dead, and only the 'him' she had been referring to was Yoska Comescu not her son. She realized that Yoska had not entirely cut the feed that day in Ops and had used her momentary lapse in judgment to hurt her boy.
She felt the urge to go to the morgue, find his body and shoot him again.
She sent a glare towards the two men and turned to Eric, "Mr. Beale, please access this satellite and type in this pass code, it is the US geological survey satellite and had thermal imagery, if you target these coordinates, we should be able to find Mr. Callen if he is indeed still on the grounds."
Eric typed the parameters in and an image of Hetty's home came online.
The house was cold, there was obviously no one inside, but behind the house in the area of the private beach, Hetty had forgotten came with the house there was a thermal signature.
"That's him!" Kensi said, "It has to be."
"Of course." Hetty said, "His bolt hole." She continued understanding.
Nate looked at her. "Bolt Hole?" He asked.
"In each of his foster homes, Callen found somewhere he could retreat to for solace or safety, He hadn't mentioned having one with me, however he must have found the beach that goes with my property. I vaguely remember there being a door in a wall; however I haven't seen it in years, the only way we'll get there is by boat." She showed them where it was on the map.
"When you get him, bring him back here, I think I know what may help him," Hetty said trying hard and failing to keep the worry out of her voice.
The boat rounded the cliffs and Hetty's beach came into view.
Kensi, Sam and Deeks pulled the boat into shore.
"You should go first," Sam said to Kensi. She nodded and walked up to Callen who was asleep on the sofa, the meds still making him drowsy.
"Callen?" She said, putting a hand on his shoulder.
Without waking Callen pulled a gun from under his pillow and pointed it at Kensi, "Go away," He said as he woke, "You shouldn't be here,"
"Hetty sent us."
This brought Callen to full wakefulness he moved still pointing his gun, "I trusted you guys and she sends you," His face went blank, "Leave now. I will shoot you, I won't go back!" He stood his ground and the others backed off.
Kensi looked back at Callen, she was shocked at how alone he looked but as Callen fired two warning shots at the people, he had called his friends they climbed back into the boat and went back around the cliffs.
Still feeling woozy, Callen grabbed his essentials and threw them in a bag, grabbed his bedroll and prepared to leave. He took the Kerosene out of the can he had and poured it all over his shack.
He hated to do this, but he had been compromised, he lit a match and threw it into the shack.
It went up with a whoosh that was seen by his three teammates on the boat.
"Callen!" Kensi said afraid.
"It's ok Kenz, Hetty and Nate know what they are doing." Sam said, with a lot more confidence than he felt.
Callen looked at the bolthole he had had for years go up in flames. He grabbed his stuff and started the slow walk up the Cliffside, limping as he went.
By the time, he reached the top of the cliff he was exhausted, he took his key, opened the weather beaten door in the wall, and carefully stepped through.
Nate stood ready at the other side to catch him as Hetty injected a sedative into his neck.
"NO!" Callen said in futility as he started to fight himself falling into unconsciousness. "Please, I'm sorry!" he begged as the drug claimed him.
Nate with the help of Sam, who had finally made it back to the house with the team, carried the team leader back to the house and transferred him to the car for his eventual wake up on the couch at OSP.