Sworn and Broken
Sworn and Broken.
The boy was running. He could hear the man chasing him, getting closer and closer.
"Spencer, come here boy." The man growled.
Spencer felt his heart rate increase, and he ducked down behind a wall. The man leaned over and grabbed Spencer. "Get off and let me go!" Spencer screamed.
A slap across his face stopped him in his tracks; Spencer fell back onto the asphalt and tried to scramble away.
"Quiet or I'll kill you," the man said and he dragged the boy, back to his van.
The boy stood there shaking with silent tears running down his face.
"Please let me go, I won't tell" Spencer pleaded.
The man backhanded him, tied him up and threw him in the back of a van.
The van screeched off into the night with the face of a terrified boy peering out of the back window.
"Morning did you sleep here?" Sam asked Callen as he walked in that morning.
"Nope, just up early," Callen said with a smile on his face.
Sam gave him a strange look.
"You been taking vitamins? You've been looking a lot healthier recently." Sam asked.
"Just eating well and exercising," Callen replied.
"Yea," Deeks grinned joining in, "He's been running after the hot-dog cart in the morning."
Callen rolled his eyes and smiled. "Maybe, I've been sleeping a bit better, up to two hours now!"
"Yeah!" Sam said genuinely pleased for him, Callen's sleeping habits had always been a cause for concern.
"OK," Eric said, "We have a case; the son of a marine who is serving in Iraq has been reported missing,"
"Isn't that a case for LAPD?" Deeks asked.
"Normally, yes." Eric said but this marine is a programmer, and we think his son has been kidnapped to get his father to provide codes to hack our systems, so Vance asked us to take it,"
"Who's the kid?" Callen asked.
"Spencer Smith. His father is Corporal Robert Steven Smith. He helps co-ordinate raids in Iraq on insurgents." Eric replied, "He's been left in foster care, we are trying to locate his records."
"How old is he?" Kensi asked,
"Thirteen," Eric replied.
They had worked the case cold for three days until a baker had found the boys' body in a dumpster behind his shop.
Corporal Robert Smith was flying in on compassionate leave and Callen had had to give the Corporal the bad news.
He walked back into OPS. Everyone had left for the day and Callen sat at his desk with his head in his hands.
Nell as usual was one of the last ones to leave, she came down the stairs and saw Callen at his desk, and she walked up and put a hand on his shoulder. "You ok?" She asked. He snaked an arm around her waist and pulled her to him. "I hate doing that." He said, taking comfort in her arms.
She smiled in sympathy and sat on his lap. "I know," She replied. "Home?" She asked and smiled as he stood up.
He looked at her and yet again, marvelled in the way she had of totally disarming him.
They had been seeing each other for four months although no one else knew it. Callen didn't want to complicate things, but he had felt more at peace since they had started seeing each other, and what had surprised him was the fact that he was actually sleeping now. He walked out holding her hand, neither of them saw Hetty come round the corner and smile at the sight of the two of them.
The kid ran, He was cold and underfed and was breathing heavily, both from the exertion and the three broken ribs.
He could hear the man behind him, running and calling his name.
"I'm gonna find you and I will kill you," The man swore
The kid found a dumpster behind a building; threw in his bag and climbed in. He curled up into the smallest ball he could and cried silently, he had learned years ago you cry out loud they find you and it hurts more.
"G. Where are you boy...G?"
The hand reached in and grabbed him.
Callen jumped as Nell put her hand on his shoulder.
"G, you ok." Nell asked
Callen nodded "Just a dream," He said reassuringly and walked to the bathroom.
He wiped his face and stared in the mirror; where the hell had that one came from, he hadn't thought about that incident in years. He was rattled but by the time he walked back into the bedroom he didn't show it. He curled up behind Nell taking comfort in her warmth. But he didn't go back to sleep.
Hetty, watching from up on the balcony, was concerned. For the last few days, Callen had been on edge, she knew the case they were working on was stressful, finding the body of the ex-marine's son in a dumpster had shook them all.
Callen walked back in the room with what was probably his 7th cup of coffee that day. Sam was worried, Callen didn't sleep at the best of times but with his caffeine intake, Sam doubted he was sleeping at all.
Eric whistled and Callen, Kensi, Deeks and Sam all dutifully trotted up to the op's Centre.
They all filed in and Nell Jones picked up her tablet and turned to the group.
"We just got a hit off the van that dumped the boys' body in that alley," Nell said. She pulled up a surveillance camera shot of a dirty brown pick up and an older guy who was skinny about 6ft tall and had silver hair, pulled the boys' body out of the van and threw it in the dumpster.
Sam sucked in his breath, "He just threw the kid away."
Nell looked at the footage "We got a hit off his license plate."
"Who is he?" Deeks asked.
"Micheal Pike. He's an ex foster carer with a string of abuse convictions." Eric replied, pulling up Pike's driving license.
On hearing that Callen slipped out the door and bolted down the stairs, narrowly missing Hetty who was on her way up.
Hetty walked into the room, "Where is Mr. Callen going?" She asked as she had witnessed Callen run down the stairs.
The others looked about in confusion, "We didn't see him leave?" Kensi said.
"Eric, find him." Hetty ordered.
"Sure," he said and pulled his keyboard closer and rapidly started typing. "His car is still out front." Eric said confused.
They looked all over ops for him. Sam found him in the bathroom vomiting down the toilet.
"You, ok G?" Sam asked
"Yeah, Sam." Callen said "I just ate something bad."
Callen turned and headed back up to OPS and was blocked from entering by Hetty.
"Mr. Callen. You are off this case." She stated.
"What!" Callen stopped in his tracks and turned to look at her, his eyes guarded.
"Do you think I don't know?" Hetty said quietly.
Sam looked confused.
"Pike was your foster father."
"He was...?" Callen feigned surprise, "Come on Hetty, There were so many, I'm supposed to remember them all."
"What number was he?" Hetty asked quickly
"Fifteen," Callen answered without thinking, his eyes jumped to hers in a moment of panic. "Please Hetty, he really doesn't mean anything, don't take me off this case."
Hetty looked him in the eye to see if he was trying one on, but he seemed sincere, "Why then, did you peel out of ops as if the hounds of hell were after you?"
"Bad breakfast burrito," Callen explained straight faced." Come on Hetty, I can't remember them all."
"Very well, but any problems and you are off the case immediately. Am I clear?" Hetty's voice was low but menacing enough that Callen took a step back and nodded.
Eric pulled up the information he had on Pike, Callen stood behind Nell as he talked, and she leaned back slightly trying to give him as much support as she could.
Sam noticed and had a wry smile on his face, just for a second and then turned his attention back to Eric.
"Micheal Pike born June 10th '52, grew up in a single parent household, mostly unemployed, was a foster carer until '83 when he was arrested after a string of complaints of abuse of children in his care."
Callen stared at the screen impassively as the others flicked their eyes to him to see if he would say anything.
"He was charged with the murder of 12 year old Dennis Hill who was found beaten to death in a dumpster in Reseda. He got out in 2008 after finishing a 20 year sentence." Callen flinched slightly but still said nothing.
"Do we have a location on him?" Sam asked.
"No," Eric admitted "We have kaleidoscope looking out for the van, but when LAPD went to his house it was on fire, so there's no evidence there."
"What's the connection between him and Corporal Smith?" Callen asked placing his hand on Nell's shoulder as if he was looking at her tablet, really he was drawing strength from her presence.
"Smith was one of the foster kids who testified against him at his trial." Eric said tapping the keyboard and bringing up the details of the trial.
Nell felt Callen's hand tighten as he read the details.
"Damn." He said under his breath.
"Mr. Callen," Hetty looked at him, "according to these records you were there about the same time, why didn't you testify?" She didn't want to ask this in front of everyone but she knew they may get some important information so this question needed to be asked.
"Wasn't there." Was all he said, not being able to look at Pike's face on the screen anymore he walked off to get another coffee.
Sam caught up to him, "Are you ok G?" he asked.
"If I had stayed I could have stopped it." Callen said quietly.
"It's not your fault social services moved you." Sam said trying to reassure him.
Callen turned his back on Sam, "They didn't I ran away." He admitted. "I did 6 months on the streets until they found me and I found out he had been put away and it was safe to go back. I didn't want them putting me back with him."
"Hetty needs to know this. " Sam said and he was right, this meant that although Callen knew Pike, he hadn't been involved in that case so it wasn't a conflict of interest.
They walked into ops and Callen again stood near Nell as if he was drawing strength just from her presence. He stood silently sipping his coffee as Sam told them.
Hetty nodded at the news that explained to her the gap in his file that even she hadn't been able to fill.
"It seems we may need to pass this case back to LAPD."Hetty decided seeing as it has nothing to do with Corporal Smith's work"
"Erm, Hetty?" Nell said, "Corporal Smith has just been reported missing."
"Very well, Mr. Callen and Mr. Hanna can head over to Corporal Smith's house and see what evidence they have," Hetty instructed.
"Ms Blye and Mr. Deeks," Hetty said as the two senior agents left. "I need you to look into Mr. Pike's records, see what information they have on him and his connection with Corporal Smith, and even more discreetly what we have on him and our Mr. Callen, I need to know if there will be a conflict of interest."
Callen and Sam pulled up at the house.
LAPD still had tape around it; they ducked under and went into the house. "I've got blood over here." Sam said. Callen walked over and looked, "Not enough for him to be dead though," Callen stated, breathing a quiet sigh of relief, "Maybe he was kidnapped." They went over to the officer outside guarding the scene, "Where there any witnesses?"
"We have a BOLO out for a dark brown van, a witness saw two men carrying a body to the van and driving off they called us in after that." The officer told them.
Callen looked around and saw a traffic camera and called Eric, "Can you check out the cameras and see if you have anything on the van that's in the BOLO?"
"Sure I have kaleidoscope looking out now will get back to you when I get a hit," Eric said.
Kensi and Deeks sat down with Pike's file and a whole stack of social services files of kids that had been placed with him during the 1982-83 periods.
"Wow," Kensi exclaimed after reading some of Pike's file, "How the hell did welfare miss this?"
Deeks looked up at her getting angrier with each file he read, he walked over to get a coffee just so he didn't have to look at the files, "I've got Callen's file for that placement, I don't want to read this alone," He admitted. Kensi put her file down and came to sit beside him. They opened the file and began to read.
' G. Callen ... D.O.B. March 11th 1970.
Placed with Micheal and Janet Pike on December 15th 1982
Various reports from school of visible bruising and the usual withdrawal as seen in in other placements, bruising may be results of fights with other students.
Visit reports G quiet in household not engaging with Social Worker, (This is not unusual) has 2 other placements in home, Robert Smith, 10. And Dennis Hill, 12.'
"So he did know them," Kensi said. Deeks nodded reading on.
' reported missing from placement on February 15th 1983. Found and replaced with new foster parents on August 20th 1983.
Medical reports found malnourished, various broken and bruised ribs and other bones, 3 stab wounds.
Also of note, Callen had to have his shoulder and wrist re-broken and reset evidence suggests shoulder, wrist breakage and stab wounds happened while in the care of the Pike's.
G.Callen hasn't engaged with anyone since being brought into medical care by police. Other than to say his name. Will not look anyone in the eye so possible avoidance issues and will not divulge where or how his injuries were received. So police unable to investigate and press charges.'
"We need to tell Hetty," Deeks stated.
They gave Hetty all the information she had gathered and she picked up the phone and called Callen.
Callen looked at his phone and switched it off, He had an idea what Hetty had wanted she had, had time to read his social services report and he wasn't in the mood to answer questions.
So Hetty called Sam, It wasn't her first choice and when he answered he could hear her annoyance down the phone. "Mr. Hanna, Mr. Callen is not answering his phone; unless he is injured and unable to reply bring him in NOW!"
Sam actually jumped at the ferocity in her voice. But closed his cell up and went to the car, "Eric needs us in ops." Sam told Callen. It wasn't exactly a lie, Eric had sent a text to them both saying they were needed Sam just figured whatever had made Hetty mad with Callen, they could thrash it out face to face.
As they walked into the bullpen Callen was surprised to see that Kensi and Deeks wouldn't look at him and they all jumped as Hetty came up behind them.
"Mr. Callen, My office, now!"
He followed her but didn't sit down; instead he chose to lean against one of the support pillars with a clear view of the outside door.
"What!" He said belligerently, the others in the bullpen stopped and listened in this was a side of Callen they had never seen. Even Hetty was shocked at his demeanor.
"You lied to me Mr. Callen," Hetty stated
"No, I didn't," Callen shot back at her, "I said I wasn't there when Pike killed Den and I wasn't."
"Mr. Callen," Hetty said gently "You were there the day before, why didn't you say you knew both victims?"
"It didn't matter, you didn't ask me if I knew them, you asked me if I was there when Dennis was killed and I wasn't."
"So where were you?" Hetty asked gently even though she was seething.
Callen gave a resigned laugh which made Hetty blood run cold, "Pulling what was left of my sorry ass out of a dumpster, Stupid asshole thought he'd already killed me, and I wasn't about to head back to prove him wrong."
He sank into the chair by her desk. "I can do this job, but I won't go back to that, and I'm NOT talking about it."
Hetty poured him a cup of tea, "Mr. Callen, I have no wish for you to relive that part of your past but maybe you could cast some light on Mr. Pike's way of thinking, what he might do if indeed he is the one who had Corporal Smith."
Callen's hands shook as he took the tea, "I can't... please Hetty." He said and took a big gulp of the tea. It was really hot and burnt his mouth but that pain was being quickly erased by all the other memories that were threatening to overwhelm him. Hetty watched as his walls came up and yet again his face was a blank.
"I need a minute," Callen got up and walked towards the restrooms.
Sam came over to Hetty, "Is he ok?" Sam asked worried.
"I don't know can you check on him." Hetty asked
Sam nodded and headed after him. Hetty fired of a hurried email to Nate informing him of what was going on and arranging for him to be available for a video conference later on if needed.
Sam came back. "He's gone!"
Hetty nodded she had expected something like this to happen. "Let's see what Mr. Beale has for us." She headed for ops Sam caught up Kensi and Deeks and they all headed after her.
Nell and Eric were in ops still trying to track down Pike's van. Nell's mobile vibrated and she checked the text, it just said; 'I need you, you can find me. I'm at our spot. Please, don't tell. G.'
Nell looked up worried as the others came in and filled them in on Callen's runner and what they knew so far. While they were all engrossed in looking for him Nell slipped out the back and drove to Santa Monica beach, She parked up and walked toward Callen who was sitting watching the waves, with his knees drawn up to his chest trying to be as inconspicuous as possible.
She sat beside him and his arm curled around her shoulders, "Hetty is really worried about you G, So am I," Nell said quietly to him.
"I didn't want to go there; I could have done this job without them digging." He said, she looked at him and was surprised to see tears coursing down his face. Her heart broke for him, whatever he was hiding must be bad, but he was needed.
"You need to come back, we need you." She kissed him, "I need you." She said simply. He nodded and she called Hetty, "Hetty. I have Callen, we'll be back soon. Pike has an address in Reseda; I'll text it to Eric, ok thanks." She shut her cell phone and gently pulled Callen up.
He pulled her to him and kissed her, "Don't leave me," He said, "I know I have to tell Hetty but I can't do this alone."
She stroked his face and smiled at him, "You're not alone." She linked her arm with his and they walked back to her car. "How did you get here?" She asked looking for a car. He shrugged his shoulders and gave her a lopsided grin, "I think I ran."
She smiled and rolled her eyes as she opened the car door for him and he climbed in and winced.
"Are you alright?" She asked worried.
"Caught my ribs on the bathroom window, climbing out." He admitted. He knew they weren't broke so he wasn't worried, "Maybe you can make them better later." He grinned.
They walked back into the office with Callen's arm around Nell and headed straight for Hetty's office. Deeks, Kensi and Sam saw them and Kensi's arm automatically came up and closed Deek's mouth as it dropped open.
"Nell and Callen?" Sam asked "When?"
"About four months," Kensi said.
They both looked at her stunned, "You knew?" Deeks asked. Kensi rolled her eyes and sighed, "Of course I knew, I'm a girl, besides who else is Nell going to talk to about her and Callen's 'thing'." She replied.
Deeks thought about it, "Do you talk to Nell about our 'thing'?" he asked.
"Deeks, we don't have a 'thing', but if we had a 'thing' then yes I'd talk to her," Kensi said.
Callen sat in the chair in Hetty's office. Nell stood beside him with her hand on his shoulder, "I'm sorry Hetty, and I needed to get away,"
"Mr. Callen I understand how hard this is for you, but we need to talk about this," Hetty said, Callen looked back over at the bullpen as Sam, Kensi and Deeks left the building," They are going to check out that address I gave Eric," Nell told him.
"Now what can you tell me about Pike, and are you sure you want Miss Jones here?" Hetty asked. Callen's hand grabbed Nell's "Please... Stay." he said looking up at her from the chair. Hetty nodded and Nell stood closer to Callen for support.
"I was twelve when I was placed there," He started quietly not really wanting to say out loud. "Mike and Janet were ok at first as long as you didn't break any rules," he gulped and kept his moving his eyes from the floor to Nell just to make sure she was there. "That Christmas eve we found out Janet was pregnant. I actually had a pretty good few weeks, Mike had a bit of a temper but he had cooled right down when he found out he was going to be a dad. Then in January she lost the baby, she had fallen down the stairs and Mike blamed us, I was the oldest and he took it out on me. "He stopped and took a few deep breaths; "I can't..." he faltered.
Hetty moved to the front of the desk and held his other hand." It wasn't your fault." She said.
He gave that cold laugh again, "Actually it was." He admitted, "I had dropped my pen through a hole in my bag. It's what she slipped on."
Nell squeezed his shoulder; she physically hurt hearing what he had gone through and was yet again amazed that he had come through it.
"Let's just say after that Mike and Janet didn't get on too well and seeing as Mike blamed me not only did the beatings get worse but on valentines day he wanted me to be his valentine," he stared at the floor letting the full impact of his words seep through them, "I couldn't...wouldn't let him do that so we fought and he stabbed me and threw me in his van. I ...I woke up the next day with my stuff in a dumpster, I figured he would tell social I ran away so I decided to keep going."
Nell put her arm around his shoulder, she could feel the pain radiating off him as he told what happened and Hetty took a big intake of breath.
"About 6 months later I ran into Bobby and he told me Mike had been jailed for 20 years, and that he had killed Dennis, I shouldn't have left, I should have saved him but I ran instead. I wasn't gonna go back but I got jumped by some guys over some food I had stolen and ended up in hospital and the cops called social so I ended up back in the system" Callen finished a part of him was expecting Nell and Hetty to hate him for what had happened but he really hoped they wouldn't. Either way he was too scared to meet their eyes, so he stared at the floor. Hetty nodded to Nell and moved out of the way so she could kneel and look up at him.
"G, look at me," Nell said her hands sliding around his waist. "You're gonna be ok, we're gonna be ok." She lifted his chin with one hand and kissed him lightly. He closed his eyes and breathed out and kissed her back letting all the emotion he had bottled up out in the kiss.
They went up to ops just as Eric was giving Hetty fifty dollars, Callen looked at her quizzically "You bet on us?" He asked with a grin, "Actually Mr. Callen, Mr. Beale and I had a bet on whether you and Nell, or Kensi and Deeks would admit their 'thing' first. As usual I won." Hetty smiled relieved to see the sparkle back in Callen's eye.
Eric turned and hid a slight blush and coughed, "Sam, Deeks and Kensi are about to close in on the address you gave us."
"I should be there," Callen said.
"Nope," Nell said pushing him into a chair, "Right now I need you here."
He relaxed back, well as much as he could in this situation, He remembered the garage block where Pike had kept a lock up, and it was the only place he could think that Pike had taken Bobby.
They watched from the vantage point of a security camera from a mall parking lot across the street. Sam went in first, followed by Deeks then Kensi, they heard shouts and a gunshot followed by everyone announcing they were good. Callen relaxed knowing non of them were hurt, but they asked Eric to call an ambulance for the Corporal. "Is this how you guys feel when we are out there?" Callen asked Eric and Nell.
"What hearts in our throats and scared to death," Eric grinned, "Yep, just another day at the office."
Callen relaxed as the paramedics got there and he saw everyone leaving "Is Bobby ok?" he asked Eric talked to Sam and answered him, "Yes, just got a shoulder wound from Pike before they disarmed him."
He tensed up again as he saw Pike being taken to the boatshed, "Hetty, please….I need to be there."
"Very well, but you are not to be alone with the prisoner, do you understand me." She said. Callen nodded and went to leave, "Mr. Callen seeing as Sam has the Challenger, Miss Jones will take you. Keep him safe, my dear." She added to Nell.
Nell smiled gratefully and they left together as Hetty called Sam to let him know they were coming.
Pike was sitting at the table in the boat-shed while Sam and Deeks tried to get out of him the reason for the kidnapping of the Corporal, They needed to make sure it was just a personal vendetta in which case they could hand him and the evidence off to LAPD or if it had anything to do with his work in which case they would deal with it.
Callen and Nell walked in and stood beside Kensi who was watching on the monitor. Pike hadn't said a word he'd just sat there with a sneer on his face. Sam and Deeks walked out annoyed.
"We can't get him to say anything, he's not even scared of Sam," Deeks moaned.
"I could try," Kensi suggested
"He doesn't know you well enough to know, he should be afraid of you," Deeks replied.
"I know what'll scare him," Callen said under his breath. He smiled the one smile that Sam was afraid of.
"What are you thinking; Hetty said you weren't supposed to go in alone?"
"I won't, I won't even say a word, You guys go back in and act like I'm not there, He thinks I'm dead remember." Callen grinned.
"Yea but you're not, like a twelve year old ghost." Deeks pointed out.
"True, but it may shake him enough." Callen retorted.
So all three of them walked back in Callen slipped in behind Sam and stood in the corner, leaning against the wall nonchalantly.
"Look," Deeks started neither man looking at Callen, "If you tell us why you kidnapped him it'll go easier on you, why did you kill Spencer?" Deeks asked. He shifted to the left and Pike caught a glimpse of Callen and his smile faltered.
"You tell us and if it's personal you just go to a cushy jail cell, you don't…..Well we decide you're a terrorist and you disappear, No lawyer, No trial, Nothing!" Sam said. Then he moved over so Pike could get a long look at Callen.
Pike's eyes went wide. "You're dead."
Sam and Deeks played the game. "Are you threatening us," Sam said.
"N…No….He's dead?" Pike pointed at Callen.
They pretended they couldn't see him, but Sam caught Callen's eyes darken and hoped his partner could keep it together long enough for this to play out.
Pike shot out of his chair and went for Callen; Sam grabbed at Pike and missed.
"You killed my kid!" Pike yelled at Callen.
For an instant Callen took a step back, then the fury overtook him, "You killed those kids, why?" Callen yelled back at him.
"Shit," Sam grabbed at Callen and Deeks grabbed Pike and split them up but not before Callen had got a punch in.
Pike realized he was out manned and sat heavily in the chair, "They had to do, I had already killed you." He sobbed the loss of his child still weighed heavily on him.
"Dennis laughed when I told him you had run away and taunted me; Bobby called the cops on me as I had finished up with Dennis."
Callen's blood ran cold at the phrase Pike had used, "You son of a bitch," He growled.
Pike looked at him confused, "He wasn't like you, you know." Pike said softly, "It was your eyes you have Janet's eyes, I couldn't be with her you were the next best thing."
Callen ran out of the room and threw up. It was true he and Janet had both had clear blue eyes. But never had he thought that had been the reason Pike had targeted him.
Deeks and Sam finished with Pike and Deeks called the LAPD to pick him up.
As they headed back to the mission Deeks asked the others if they wanted to go for a beer, Kensi and Sam said yes, but Callen declined. He did smile at them before grinning and saying he had a better offer and looking towards OPS as Nell walked down the stairs.
Nell put her arms round his neck as he sat in his chair and kissed him.
"Now," She said, "About those ribs."