It was Christmas Eve and in the OSP building everyone was rushing around trying to get all their jobs done so they could enjoy a two day break and hand over any outstanding, but non urgent jobs to the skeleton crew that would cover the festive shift.
Eric shut down Ops and set the computers to run a diagnostic program which would need no watching so he packed up his bag and said goodbye to Nell.
"See you Eric," Nell smiled as Eric went off to spend two days with his family. Nell picked up her bus ticket. Her bus wasn't due to leave till 5pm, so she kept an eye on the diagnostics and just cleaned up a bit before she left. She took the last of her paperwork down to Hetty's office and went to say goodbye to the others in the bullpen.
"Thank you, Miss Jones," Hetty said as she took the paperwork and ushered the small woman out of her office. It was good to see the team interacting, Her Christmas party yesterday had been a success, although if she could get to relax and smile, it was that which she measured the successes by.
Nell flopped on a chair near Deeks and Kensi and dropped her bag down. "You still want a ride to the bus station?" Deeks asked.
"Please." Nell grinned as Kensi tossed Deeks a parcel.
Deeks arched an eyebrow at her. "What's this?" he held a parcel shaped like a bone.
"Christmas present for Monty." Kensi replied grinning, "Poor little guy's gonna be spending a few days with you I thought I'd get him something to relieve the boredom."
Deeks grinned, "He'll love it."
He got up and picked up Nell's bag "You ready?" He asked her and then looked at Kensi, "You want a lift too?" he said and Kensi grabbed her bag.
"Yep." She replied and grinned at Sam who was searching in the bottom of his draw, for the present he had picked up his daughter the morning before and had left at OPS, as it was safer leaving it here than having it at home.
"Happy Christmas." Sam called to the three of them as they made their way out of the mission.
He looked around for Callen, but not finding him figured her had probably left earlier. He had been talking to Eric so Sam assumed he was going with him for the holidays as he hadn't said anything about wanting to go to Sam's house this year. In fact he had skirted around the issue of Christmas all together every time Sam had brought it up.
Hetty walked over to Sam, "Are you all set for Christmas, Mr. Hanna?" She asked with a smile.
"Yes, Hetty." Sam replied, "I missed G though, I think he left with Eric."
"Oh?" Hetty said surprised, "I didn't know he was going with Mr. Beale for the holidays."
Sam shrugged, "He really didn't talk to me about Christmas so I assumed he was going with Eric." Sam clarified.
"Anyway," Sam grinned, "I have to get this home before Santa comes." He waved the present at Hetty.
"I see you managed to get one." She smiled, "I'm sure she will love it."
Sam smiled back at her and headed for the Car.
Callen sat outside Perry's Cafe, at Beech Green Park watching the tourists walking around together and listening to other peoples Christmas plans while nursing a huge cup of coffee.
He had manage to slip out of Ops while everyone was saying goodbye for Christmas and talking about what family plans they had for the holidays.
He knew Sam would try and get him to do a 'real family Christmas' at his home again this year. He'd done that last year. It felt foreign and uncomfortable to him. He'd made it through using the 'bare it and wait' strategy he had used growing up. Which was to, just grit your teeth smile politely and as soon as other people had finished doing their charitable duty they would forget him and he could carry on with his life. This year he just wasn't in the mood. So he had talked to Eric about what his plans were for Christmas and given Sam the impression he was going with him as Eric was heading up to Colorado to go skiing with his family for Christmas, which meant no one would contact him and no one would know Callen wasn't there.
More than anything, Callen hated being the works charity case; He had thought they had actually wanted him around at Christmas, until he had overheard a conversation between Deeks, Kensi and Sam one morning.
Deeks had just got in and was talking to the others as Callen had walked out of the showers having stayed over for another night at OSP. "So who's taking Callen this year?" Deeks had asked.
Callen had pulled up to a halt behind a pillar as Kensi said, "I'm off to see my cousins I can't take him."
He has been surprised at the tears that had threatened to prick his eyes, he sounded like a puppy being reprieved from the pound for the festive season. He had turned around now wanting to listen to the rest of the conversation, but had avoided the subject of Christmas every time it had been broached since then. He'd put his walls back up and decided it would be a long time before they came back down.
Even now as he felt the familiar stab of betrayal, he was annoyed with himself at how much he had come to trust them and how much he had allowed them to hurt him. He shook his head 'enough!' he said to himself. He would just do his job and keep his distance, besides it was two days they wouldn't even miss him.
Then again he wondered if would they miss him anyway.
Sam stopped by Callens' apartment, he didn't know why but his sixth sense said something was wrong.
He took the spare key out Callen had given him and went inside. The building was empty which he had expected anyway as Callen was supposedly away with Eric. He was surprised to see all of Callens belongings there though; even his bag that he took everywhere when he went away was still there. Sam picked up his phone and called Eric.
"Hey Eric, how's the holidays." He asked jovially, Eric confused on the other end answered.
"Brilliant I just arrived and checked in. How's it going with you?"Eric asked him
"Fine, same as last year." Sam smiled a bit.
"Callen driving you crazy yet?" Eric asked and Sam's heart dropped he was right Callen wasn't with him.
"Actually Eric, We thought he was going away with you." Sam admitted.
"No he asked me about my holiday which was great, he's never taken that much of an interest before but never asked to come."
Sam nodded even though he couldn't be seen, "Thanks Eric." He said and closed his Cell up.
Sam looked around the apartment the only thing missing was the box from off of the mantel. This gave Sam an uneasy feeling. He locked up and got into the Challenger and drove off to Hetty's.