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What doesn't kill you

By Gina Mae Callen

Other / Mystery

What doesn't kill you

11th March 2013

Callen got up and sighed.

It was that day again, and this time he was 43 years old.

He couldn't say it was getting easier every year, but he was getting more retrospective as the years went by.

He climbed into his car, put the radio on, and smiled as Kelly Clarkson's song. Stronger, came over the radio. He liked the song although he knew Sam would give him grief if he ever admitted it. He knew the song was about surviving a break up, however he identified with the chorus, the song hadn't finished as he pulled up to the mission so he sat for a few moments as he finished listening.

Nodding in agreement, he switched the engine off and climbed out of the car.


Hetty stood at the door of the mission as Callen came in.

"It's here." She said flatly.

Callen looked up, excitement in his eyes, "Where?" he asked.

"On my desk….I've had it tested no prints on the envelope," She told him.

Callen looked at her, "In four years Hetty, did you really think there would be." He said skeptically.

Looking at Sam as he walked past Hetty and practically ran for her office, he looked up concerned. "G?"

"Hang on." Callen called back. To him this was more important than anything was.

He climbed the small step to her office and turned asking unspoken for permission to remove the envelope from her desk.

She nodded and he grabbed the envelope and headed for the roof.


"Is he ok?" Deeks asked coming up behind the other two.

Sam nodded, "Just give him a hour or so…depends what's in the envelope." He told the newest member of their team.

Kensi turned up, "Did he get it…did I miss it?" She asked breathlessly.

"What?" Deeks asked.

"I'm sure that none of you have turned in your after action reports from the last mission, maybe you should all get to them." Hetty suggested and they all turned and headed back to the bullpen.


An hour later Callen came back down, the others looked up in anticipation.

Callen walked into Hetty's office.

"I have a name…" He said with a tentative smile.

"Yours?" Hetty asked hoping this year, maybe.

He shook his head, "No…Grandparents, George and Martha Callen and two photos; George and Martha. Clara pregnant with me and holding Amy." he said and showed her the pictures.

He opened the card that had contained them, inside the blank card were the words, 'To my brave boy…Soon.'

His eyes shone, "It has to be from him….doesn't it?" he asked her.

She looked at the card; the handwriting seemed familiar. "It does appear so by the wording." She told him.


Forty-three years old or not, Callen seemed like a small boy who had just been given the best birthday present ever.


Callen walked into the bullpen.

"Happy birthday G…Did you get one?" Sam asked

Deeks looked up from his desk. "One what? I'm sorry Callen, no one told me it was your birthday I'd have got you a card." He said remembering how he felt when the team had overlooked his birthday.

"Why?" Callen asked non-committally. "I don't celebrate, never have, Sam only gives me a card because he found out I never had them before a few years ago."

"Why don't you celebrate?" Deeks asked as Callen got up to go into the kitchen to make him a cup of tea.

Callen shrugged, "I don't celebrate what no one cares about…not worth it." He said and turned back to his tea.


Deeks backed off worried he had upset his team leader.

He turned to Sam and Kensi, "Have I said something wrong?" he asked them.

Sam smiled "No that's just G." He said.

Callen sat at his desk and smiled at the breakfast burrito Kensi had left him and took a bite. "Thanks." He said.

"Well!" Kensi and Sam said at the same time.

Callen sighed and took the card out of his pocket.

"Two pictures and a new name." He told them.

They all looked at the pictures. "George and Martha Callen." He said pointing to the black and white picture of the older couple, "My grandparents on my mother's side." He picked up the picture taken in late 1969, "Clara, my mother and Amy and the bump is me." He smiled.

Sam picked up the card…. "Soon?"

Callen shrugged, "Who knows… Soon, could mean anything, maybe he'll leave my name, maybe he'll leave his name, maybe we'll meet. Until then it's just me, myself and I." He said.


He stood up and walked to OPS to hand Hetty the pictures to copy for her file. 

He knew, although he hadn't told the others that she was helping him as much as she could to find his father, uncle, grandfather whoever it was who shared his DNA and was sending him information each year on his birthday.

He looked down into the bullpen as his team got back to their paperwork and the last part of the song he'd heard this morning ran through his head and he smiled.

'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, stronger. Just me, myself and I. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger stand a little taller,doesn't mean I'm lonely when I'm alone'

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