Callen watched everyone get ready for Christmas.
Yet again, he had to watch everyone get extra stupid. People in stores turning into raving lunatics over plastic toys that they just 'had' to have and would be broken by Boxing Day.
Kensi and Deeks walked in singing Deck the Halls and he groaned into his tea.
He rolled his eyes as Sam and Hetty joined in, although he had to admit Sam could really hold a tune. In another life, maybe he could have been a singer.
He thought to himself with a smirk that it would be a cold day in hell before he ever admitted it.
"Come on Grinch, join in!" Kensi called, pulling him into their circle as they all stood around the gaudily decorated palm tree.
Callen sighed and leaned against his desk.
After a few moments, he grabbed his bag and turned to go. Granger, who had been at the eggnog and was a little worse the wear, stopped him.
"You off early Callen?" he asked.
"Yeah, things to do." He said.
"Yes, Mr. Callen gotta get ready for Santa." He said with a slightly tipsy grin.
Callen looked up at him, confused. "Santa, who?" He asked.
They all stopped and looked at him.
"Santa Claus, Mr. Callen." Hetty said over the hushed gathering.
Callen shrugged, "Dunno him." He said and walked out oblivious to the others stares.
"How in the heck can he not know who Santa Claus is?" Deeks asked. "Everyone knows who Santa Claus is!"
"Wow!" Kensi said surprised.
As he walked in his house it occurred to him, that maybe he'd put his foot in it again, he threw his bag down, "Idiot!" He said to himself.
He grabbed a beer out of the fridge and sat on the only chair in the house.
Of course, he knew who Santa Claus was. He was the guy from his childhood who came to the orphanages where he grew up.
The guy that lied.
He hated Santa Claus and had pushed the memory down with the rest of the childhood memories that were better left buried, he angrily took a sip from his beer as the memory of the last time he believed in the hope of a child.
Five-year-old Callen stood in line with the other kids waiting to see Santa.
"So who is he?" Callen asked another child.
"You tell him what you want for Christmas and he gets it for you." A small blond headed girl told him.
Callens eyes went wide. "Anything?" he asked.
The girl nodded solemnly "Last year I asked for a dolly with pigtails and I got one." She told him.
"Wow!" Callen said.
He knew exactly what he wanted, the same thing he had wanted ever since he realized he was different from other kids.
He waited until it was his turn, the support worker ushered him up to Santa.
"Hi Santa, This is Callen." The support worker said with fake brightness.
"Hello Callen, Have you been a good little boy this year?" He asked.
Callen nodded. "I think so?" He said honestly. "I tried to be good."
Santa nodded, "And what would you like Santa to bring you this year?" He asked.
Callen looked at the man intently, "I would like a family please, and it doesn't have to have a mom and dad, just someone that would love me please." He said fervently.
Santa looked uncomfortable and looked at the support worker who nodded; she was in a hurry and did not have time for this. "Okay Callen, I will see what I can do for you."
Callen was elated, finally he would get the one thing he friends had, a family. "Thank you Santa." He smiled and ran off happily.
Santa looked sadly at the support worker and then carried on talking to the children.
Callen packed his bag Christmas Eve and sat fully dressed on his bed all night.
The night worker saw him sitting there at 3am when he came to put small-donated presents on the children's beds.
"Hey G. Can't sleep?" he asked the boy.
"Just waiting Dylan. I asked Santa for a family and he said I could have one for Christmas, I'm waiting for them to pick me up and take me home."
Dylan sat on the bed next to the boy.
"Callen….Santa can only bring toys." He said gently.
"Sally said that Santa brings what you want. I have been good. I saw in the book you only get a present from Santa if you're good!" Tears started to form in his small eyes.
Dylan got up; he was only a support worker he needed back up for this one so he called the Social worker.
Jack Sutton was tired, he had been up drinking the night before and he had to watch all these kids so he could not see his girlfriend on Christmas day and he was already cranky when Dylan knocked on his door.
"Jack I have a problem with Callen."
"Oh, what's he done this time, little brat?" Jack said storming out of his office. "Callen, what are you up to?" He hissed at the boy.
"I'm waiting for Santa to bring my family." Callen said simply.
"Callen, you don't have any family, hell you don't even have a first name, that's why you're here." Jack snapped. "Now go back to bed and stop disrupting my orphanage."
He grabbed Callen's bag, threw it under the bed, and walked off, not at all upset by the small boy sobbing on the bed. Callen threw himself face first into his pillow. "Santa lied!" he said to himself.
Callen threw his beer across the room and it smashed on the wall, he wiped a lone tear that had escaped and opened the Tea box on his mantelpiece.
He lay on his bedroll looking at the few mementos of his family he had managed to find over the years, he got up and grabbed another beer. Laying back on his bedroll he looked at the pictures sipping on his beer till the sky lightened reminding himself why he didn't like this time of year.
Hetty sat in her office even though everyone had left for Christmas she was worried about her lead agent. She pulled his file out again and was reading through it when she had an Idea.
"Mr. Hanna….I need a favor." She asked. "And I need you to call Mr. Beale for me."
Callen woke up Christmas morning. He made a coffee and drove into work. He loved christmas morning, no traffic, no interruptions and an empty mission, at least he could get his paperwork done while it was quiet.
He opened the door to the mission and was assaulted by loud Christmas carols and the sound of laughter.
"What the Hell?" He exclaimed as Sam's daughter Kamran grabbed him and pulled him inside.
"Uncle G! Where have you been, we've been here for hours?" She laughed.
He walked into ops….or what he thought was the operations center.
A huge Douglas fir tree stood in the center of the room heavily decorated in tinsel, lights and baubles, and a large upholstered chair and sack were placed next to it.
"Sam?" Callen asked warily, "What happened to the office?"
"Merry Christmas, G." Sam laughed.
"Did I miss a memo?" Callen was confused.
"No silly, we just thought we'd have Christmas together." Kensi said smiling.
Hetty walked in front of the tree. "If I may have your attention please, now we are all finally here. Santa Claus is here to give out presents." She said smiling.
They all gathered round and Callen stood at the back watching them, uncomfortable was not even, close to how he felt, he was currently considering escape options and weighing them up to how much trouble he would be in from Hetty for escaping later.
So far none were worth the risk.
An old, rotund man walked out and sat on a large green velvet and gold upholstered chair.
One by one, Santa called their names and handed out a present. Nell jumped off Santa's lap with her present smiling as Callen turned to go, he'd sat through everyone getting presents and had been watching the proceedings for as long as he could stand.
"G. Callen!" Santa's voice came over the sound of Sam's children's laughter as they played with their presents.
Callen looked up as they all turned to him. He was floored by the kindness and love he could see in their faces.
"What?" He asked.
"I have a gift for you." Santa said.
"You…have a gift…for me?" Callen as tough as he was was actually scared.
Not because he was frightened of the man in the suit, more that he was expected to do something and for the life of him he did not know what.
"Come Mr. Callen," Hetty said and led him to Santa. She patted his arm reassuringly as she felt him tense.
"G. Callen a long time ago you asked me for something and I failed to deliver, I am sorry." Santa said and Callen narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "But today I hope this makes up for it." He handed Callen an envelope.
Callen turned the envelope over in his hands looking at it like it was an enemy.
"Open it Mr. Callen," Hetty urged with a reassuring smile.
Callen opened it and looked at the contents.
"How did you know? Who are you?" He asked shaking.
"I called him Mr. Callen, his name is Dylan." Hetty explained.
"Dammit!" Callen's eyes widened in recognition and he turned tail and walked out of the mission.
"Well that went well!" Deeks said and yelped as Kensi punched him.
He sat on the wall outside the mission, his emotions overwhelming him as Sam, Kensi and Deeks walked up behind him.
"G?" Sam said.
Callen didn't face them, but he held out what he had received so Sam could see it.
"Its what I wanted when I was five, I didn't realize I already had it." He told his partner.
He held out shaky hands and showed Sam the photograph of the whole team with the words 'my family' written in the corner.
Kensi wrapped her arms around Callen and was soon followed by the rest of the team.
"Come on!" Nell called from the door of the mission, "Food's ready."
They all walked in to eat together as a family.
Dylan stopped Callen as he walked in. "I owe you an apology from back then," The old man said. "I didn't realize the effect we had on you. I tried to find you the next year but you had been moved too many times by then. Jack lied, you need to know that he took your name off the books, I don't know why he did but Ms. Lange said that you don't remember your first name."
"Doesn't matter." Callen said, not wanting to stir things up.
"OK but its kinda fitting seeing as its Christmas, Gabriel." Dylan said.
Callen stared in shock, "Gabriel?" he ran it over his tongue, and it felt right like it belonged.
"Thank you." Callen said.
They both turned and joined the party.
Hetty clinked her glass for silence and they all quietened down. "I would like to propose a toast, to our first family Christmas, may there be many more of them and to a special member of our family who got more than he wished for. Gabriel Callen."
The others looked at him in shock as he grinned, "OK, so I believe in Santa, but he doesn't half take his time!" He laughed and looked warmly at his family.