Never Tell!

Chapter 16

Kensi woke up aching; she had been aching most mornings since she had been blown up by a trap set by the Russian GRU over that damn book that Hetty had said didn't exist.

She was alone again.

Callen had already left and gone into work. Things had been rocky for them since then, no…since before then when Tracy Rossetti had reemerged in Callen's life.

Although he had said it was fine, twice they had made love and he had called her name.

The last time, Kensi had called him out on it…Callen had insisted it was just an accident, although then he had intentionally put her in harm's way and allowed her to get kidnapped by the Russian GRU agents and was it her husband who made it to the room, putting his own life on the line to save her, no…it was her partner, Marty Deeks.

Marty Deeks who came around once a week at least while Callen was working on some project to spend time with her and Lena, Marty who didn't mind taking her car to work and leaving his at home so she fitted the child seat into his so they could swap cars and take Lena to the park, Deeks who was always available to talk.

She was rapidly developing feelings for her partner and she didn't like it.

Callen entered the gym, a cup of tea in his hand. He opened a cupboard and then opened a bottle in a disguised gas canister he looked at the bottle not noticing Deeks who looked mad and walked away, he then opened the bottle and poured it into his drink closed the bottle and placed it back in his hiding place when a voice made him jump.

"Do you think you're clever ...?" Hetty said.

Callen jumped guiltily.

"That you can read people? That you know things?"

Callen smirked to himself, she hadn't seen the bottle.

"Well, I'm an undercover agent for a highly respected federal agency, so ... I'm going to go with "yes." And I'm sorry about your syrup." He added, knowing she had caught him taking it earlier, if she had been referring to the tiny bottle of Russian Vodka he'd just poured in his cup, he knew she would call him out on it.

"What you so crassly referred to as my "syrup" ... is my Michoacán shade-grown agave nectar, my personal sweetener. But, however, it is not that which I refer to. I've just, uh, received copies of your Federal 360 coworker evaluations. Perfect scores in every category, for every coworker?"

Callen knew he had skimmed through them after Kensi had kicked him out the other night, he figured Hetty would be pleased he had given everyone a perfect score.

"What can I say? You run a tight ship." Callen shrugged his head still pounding and the tea with the vodka in so very, very close.

"You know what you-have to do with these. Redo 'em." Hetty ordered.

"I'll race you for it." Callen said as he pointed to the climbing wall, a thought ran through his head, 'are you out of your mind' but he continued to point anyway.

"You think you can win?" Hetty asked, he opened his hands submissively, "Just because you're ..."

"I did not say that!" Callen exclaimed

"Just because I'm ..." Hetty tried.

"I did not say that either." Callen argued.

"All right, let's do it. Come on, top of the wall." Hetty said, Callen put his cup back down and walked to the wall.

"Top of the wall!" Callen grinned he was glad he and Hetty had these times together, he actually wasn't thinking about Kensi.

"I have to, uh, warn you ... that if you indulge in this sort of frivolity and brinkmanship, and I win, I'm going to expect these tomorrow." She said waving the reports in front of him. She knew something was eating at him for him to revert to these tactics and she hoped he would talk to her soon.

"Deal." He agreed.

"Also, I need to tell you that I've had years of practice."

"You don't scare me." Callen said looking at the wall, it wavered in his vision, and he knew he was slightly hung over from last night. "Well, maybe a little bit." He admitted.

Hetty laughed. "I seem to recall a saying something like that to a Sherpa, just before I beat him to the Everest summit ... with a broken arm."

"You expect me to believe that?" Callen said incredulously, Hetty stared at him, "Okay, see; now you're bluffing."

Hetty turned to the wall, "On three. One ... two ..." Callen snatched the papers out of her hands, "Wise choice. And no ... I will not do this just for fun." She said pointing to the wall, she shot the gas canister a look making a mental note to talk to him about it later and left.

"I wasn't going to ask." Callen said to a now empty Gym.

"Ask what?" Sam said walking into the Gym and seeing his partner looking bewildered.

"Wait a minute. Was she bluffing?" he said aloud, although talking to himself looking up at the wall.

"Who?" Sam asked. 'Were they fighting again?' he wondered.

"She does this to me every time. She knows I think she's bluffing, Then she starts with these Yoda mind tricks ..." Callen was still talking to himself, looking between the papers and the wall.

"Did Callen sleep last night?" Sam asked Kensi who shrugged as Sam picked up a new weight.

"So that I don't take the challenge ..." Callen still wasn't focused on anyone else he took a sip of his tea, "which is what she wanted?"

"You didn't have him reading Hegel again, did you?" Sam asked Kensi who started kickboxing a bag.

"Wasn't me. I burned all my copies." Kensi said remembering the night he read that and was so confused the next day they didn't get anything done.

"Copies of what?" Deeks asked walking in carrying an oversized travel mug.

"Whoa, what are you drinking?" Kensi asked looking at the cup that was the same size as Lena's bunny.

"Coffee by the half gallon. I'm literally mainlining caffeine, 'cause it's much more effish. Yeah, that's an efficient way of saying "efficient." He grinned taking a huge gulp.

"So this is why I have to pull over every 20 minutes for you to pee?" Kensi laughed.

"It's a con!" Callen said finally looking at Sam and waving the papers in his hand. "No, it's a dual-con, that's what it is." He continued, Sam frowned at him but he was amused at his partner's apparent melt down.

Callen's phone rang, "That's exactly what it is." He said and picked up the phone, "Callen." He said in answer.

"Okay, what did I miss?" Deeks asked and Sam laughed.

"Hey, Rose." Callen said.

"I came back. I saw him and I ran." Rose rambled on the other end of the phone, Callen's expression changed to one of concern.


"Oh, dear. Yeah?" She gasped.

"Rose, slow down." He said, she had been fine when he had left her apartment a few hours ago, and now she sounded decidedly off, the others turned to look at Callen.

"I, I, uh ... I, uh, yeah, uh ... Um, and I…" Rose let out a sob.

"We're coming." Callen said and closed the phone knowing she would be at the mortuary in the hospital.

As they arrived at the hospital, the body of Edgar, Rose's co-worker was being loaded onto a trolley and moved into a corridor.

Rose had hugged Callen as he arrived earning a look from his partner which he ignored. They turned and walked towards the crime scene.

"So, I was Trying to call you, he wouldn't stop talking. Oh, dear! I shouldn't say that now that he's dead. And right here! He didn't Have far to go." She looked over as they closed the body bag on Edgar.

"We're done." An officer told Sam who nodded.

"So, I was walking out, because in reception here is lousy, but ... I came back, I saw him…and I ran." Rose was still shaking and not caring that his partner was in the room he held Rose and turned her to face him.

"Rose! You need to listen to me." She nodded and looked at him, "They had a Plan. They had guns. You did the right thing."

She let a tear slide out and he brushed it away. "Did I? Then why do I feel so crummy?" She asked.

"Were you close, you and Edgar?" Sam asked shooting Callen a look.

"No. Not at all. That-that's the worst part. I barely knew him." She looked over at the photo of herself and Nate; she gave Callen a small smile remembering how last night they had sat and talked together, both missing the operational psychologist and reminiscing, "Nate always knew what to say. Not that you guys do, but ... you know."

Callen nodded, after last night he did know. "He's an operational psychologist. That's what he does for a living."

"I miss him." She said sadly.

"We all do." Sam replied.

"You said you were trying to call me?" Callen asked.

"Yeah, yeah. I found a residue on the body, you know, the one that was stolen? And I recognized the naval signature: USN…US Navy. Nate and I talked about it once. Um, so when i saw it, I thought, "Do I know anyone in the navy?"

Callen smiled, "I may need to see a sample of that residue." He said.

"Of course." Rose said and went to the microscope and grabbed a slide.

"Coroner's van is missing. Eric's looking for it. These guys are good." Sam said quietly to Callen.

"Residue was on a stolen body with a naval signature? Does that sound normal to you?" he asked.

Sam shook his head, "No, it sounds Classified to me." He told him.

Callen gave Rose a final hug and turned and walked out of Autopsy with Sam.

"What's going on with you and Rose?" Sam asked.

"Nothing, we're just friends." Callen snapped.

"Yeah?" Sam said arching an eyebrow at his friend no believing him.

"Yeah, she misses Nate, and we talk sometimes…drink a bit, but mostly talk." Callen said walking a bit faster.

Kensi walked over to Deeks who was downloading the security footage.

"They waited for the guard to make his rounds, jimmied the door down the hall, walked right in, and walked out the same way." She told her partner.

"Okay, so that is there." Deeks said showing her the footage, "We also have him on camera here, here and here. It's a closed loop DVR deck, aim its low resolution. They're wearing caps, and they are turned away from the camera. Wow. Bad guys, one; cops, zero. Downloading." He said showing her his phone; he looked over at the bodies wrapped in plastic. "Funny, isn't it? A thousand ways to die." He said.

"Only two ways to go, though: cremated or buried." Kensi said,

"Not me. I don't want to be buried, and I certainly do not want to be burned." He insisted.

"Oh, you will have to choose: casket or urn?" she told him with a small grin.

"No. I'm going for cryogenic suspension." Deeks said with a full on grin.

"Oh." Kensi said stunned.

"Mm-hmm. Frozen in a state of suspended animation, and then they can thaw me out, when they have the medical technology to bring me back." He grinned and she laughed.

"Can we keep you in the office? Ooh, with a little viewing window, like an aquarium. That'd be so cool."

"You mock me now. 20 years from now, I'm going to come back. You know what I'm gonna do? I'm gonna marry your daughter."

Kensi shot him a look. "Oh?" the download ended and they went to join the others.

Deeks looked at Kensi who looked slightly hurt, "Oh! That is awkward." He said

"That is creepy!" she agreed.

"You know what I would love, though, is for you to be my mother-in-law. Think about that. 'Oh, Mrs. Callen, it's so good to see you. What a wonderful one-Piece jumpsuit you're wearing.'" He laughed.

"Just stop it. You're giving me nightmares." Kensi said, after the past few weeks the thought of being married to Callen for that long was scary.

"It's just me helping you with your walker to the early-bird special." Deeks quipped.

"Shut up." Kensi said as they reached the others.

"Hi." Deeks grinned at the other two.

"Anything on the Vic?" Sam asked.

"Ask Eddie Haskell." Kensi said gesturing to Deeks.

"Okay. I, uh, talked to LAPD, and they're more than happy to hand over the case. The report says it's a home invasion gone bad. Yusuf Afzal was killed by blunt force trauma to the head. He was hit, he fell, and then died." He said.

"And then half-autopsied." Kensi added.

"Then stolen. He had a bad day… for a dead guy." Callen gave his wife a half hearted smile which she ignored.

Sam looked down at his phone trying to ignore the tension.

"Eric found the van." He said.

"Kensi, take Beaver, here, and check it out, will you?" Callen said.

"Beaver? Really? Okay." Deeks followed Kensi as she strode out, "No, that's fine. Good, if we're going to do a nickname, maybe we should do something cool, right? Like Diesel? Or, D-Rock, D-Unit? Just think about it!"

"He's De-caf." Sam quipped at Callen as Deeks ran to catch up with Kensi.

Sam looked at the look on Callen's face, "Are you sure you two are alright?" he asked.

"Fine." Callen said and walked off.

Deeks and Kensi parked up near the Coroners van and walked towards it.

"That's not much of a plan. Steal a body, steal a van, drive four blocks, abandoned the van ... and this is completely nonsensical." Deeks said as he got out of the car.

"Seems to have worked for them. Looks like one of your parking jobs, Deeks." She said looking at the sloppy parking.

"That's one of the Reasons I Became a cop. You can literally park anywhere you want." Deeks told her with a wink.

"Seriously ... why did you become a cop?" Kensi asked.

"You mean, like, honestly?" Deeks asked surprised.

"No. Lie to me." Kensi said as she looked in the front of the empty van.

"I wanted to protect people ... you know? I wanted to do something that really made a difference in people's lives." He said deciding to tell her half the truth, the rest he didn't want to burden her with and he couldn't stand lying to her.

"That's really nice, Deeks." Kensi said shooting him a smile, his stomach did flip flops and he took it too far.

"That and I know how much girls love a guy in uniforms." He grinned as she rolled her eyes.

"Overrated." Kensi smiled.

"Really? Overrated? The whole uniform thing? You do not like that shiny badge? Those tight polyester pants?"

Kenai gulped at the thought of him in tight pants.

"Door, Deeks." She said focusing at the job in hand.

"One, two, three." Deeks said and he opened the door and saw a grenade pin clattering to the floor of the van.

"Bomb!" They ran as fast as they could both blown off their feet by the force of the blast.

Again Deeks was under her, reminding her of when he saved her from the laser filled room.

"Maybe they did have a plan." Deeks said looking in her beautiful mis-matched eyes.

Kensi sighed looking into his deep blue eyes, they were so unlike Callen's so full of concern and….was that…love?

"I…" she said.

Within seconds he was kissing her, he had no idea why, she was a married woman, married with a child and married to his team leader…but he couldn't help himself.

Back at Ops an hour later, Sam and Kensi were standing in front of the table, Deeks was behind the table and G was standing off to one side as Eric briefed them.

"What do we know about our stolen dead guy?" Callen asked Eric

"Yusuf Afzal, 36 years old, at Cal-west Hospital worked as a computer tech. No criminal record, nothing on Interpol, no watch lists, nothing. He was born here, never left the country. He's, like, the MOST boring guy in Venice." He said looking at the I.D on screen.

"And our body snatchers?" Callen asked.

Eric puts photos of the van on the screen.

"The bomb did a great job of destroying any traces of what they were doing. No visuals, no prints, no DNA, and we're still tracking down that navy residue that was found on Yusuf." Eric said.

Callen was tired and his head pounding, he scratched the back of his neck. "So why do you steal a dead body?" he asked.

"Proof of death." Kensi offered.

"Satanic ritual." Sam said

"Cannibalism." Deeks grinned. "... Just thinking outside the box."

"You need to get back in the box." Sam snapped.

"But why this one? Why this corpse? Why risk a murder conviction to steal it?" Callen asked.

"Maybe he's not Yusuf Afzal. Could be a cover." Kensi offered.

"We could run Yusuf's DNA, see if he's in the SOCOM database." Eric said looking at Callen who nodded.

"It's a long shot. If he's any kind of a jihadist, he'd be keeping a low profile." Callen said.

"He could have been a sleeper, either way below the radar or Yusuf has more secrets than we Realize." Sam said.

Walking up the path to Afzal's home Deeks turned to Kensi.

"All right, According To the LAPD crime report, neighbors heard yelling they came over, knocked on the door, the alarm company was called and turned the alarm off and they called 911 from the stoop."

"Quite a neighborhood watch." Kensi said, she took out the keys and opened the door.

"Report also says the perps escaped out the back. Case is cold from there." They walked in and a woman appeared.

"Oh, can I help you?" she asked surprised to see anyone there.

Kensi and Deeks were just as surprised. "Can we help you carry, Yusuf's stuff to your car? 'Cause we're sort of wondering who you are." Deeks said his hand on his gun. The woman didn't look threatening but in their line of work they couldn't afford to be complacent.

"And now I'm wondering who you are." The woman said suspiciously.

"We are investigating Yusuf's murder." Kensi said.

"Your turn." Deeks said.

"Larissa Bay, his girlfriend. I was just grabbing a few things of ours. You know memories. If you need it for evidence, take it." She said handing Kensi the albums.

"It's okay. Maybe you can tell us a little bit about Yusuf. Where'd you guys meet?" Kensi asked kindly and Larissa sat down.

"At the hospital. I'm the lead nurse on the pediatric floor. He was our computer tech. I think he crashed my server A few times just so he'd come by."

She showed Kensi a picture of her and Yusuf together.

"The old workplace romance trick." He said winking at Kensi.

"Sounds like you two were serious." Deeks said.

"I think we thought it was going to be. We were friends for years and started dating on Valentine's Day." She said sadly.

"The Police are calling this a home invasion." Deeks said looking through a pile of mail.

"Which is hard to believe; It's ridiculously safe ... people everywhere." Larissa said.

"Can you tell me about Yusuf's background? Where was he from? Was he religious?" Kensi asked.

"His Parents Fled Beirut in the '70s. They Were Muslim but not practicing."

"So is that how he came to have a non-observant girlfriend?" Deeks asked suspiciously.

"I celebrate Christmas with my dad and Seder with my mom, and Yusuf happily came to both." Larissa told him.

"Any chance that's not His real name, not His real background?" Deeks asked.

"Yusuf is not a closet or a radical militant, if that's what you're thinking. What he is, is completely all American." She said defending her man.

"I'm just saying people have that ability to hide aside of themselves."

"Does your partner hide anything from you?" Larissa snapped.

"Matter of fact, She Does, yeah." Deeks said and Kensi smiled. "She got a junk food Jones She does not think I know about ... but I find the Twinkie wrappers stuffed between the car seats."

"That was one time on a stakeout." Kensi laughed

"If that was one time, there's like 12 in a box ..." Kensi interrupted him.

"The Police report says that you were working the night of Yusuf's death."

"You think I Had something to do with it?" Larissa asked stunned.

"Given the rocky family dynamic ... you know, you got different religions ... I think we're just saying ..."

"You're not hearing me. I loved Yusuf. After His shift, he'd suit up and go into the NICU with me to rock the babies. You have this all wrong."

"Evidently." Deeks said.

Outside Deeks turned to Kensi, "Well, if He went into the NICU, he cannot be all bad."

"So you believe her?" Kensi asked.

"I really wish somebody was lying. Come on. I'll go buy you a Ding Dong." He smiled at her.

"Yummy." Kensi smiled and Deeks was surprised at the butterflies it caused in his stomach.

Nell and Sam had talked about the residue that they had found off the body and she told him about Overwatch. Within the hour Callen and Sam were meeting a man at the boatshed.

"Overwatch is a tagging detection system for use in counterinsurgency operations. Sensor platforms can track insurgents as they attempt to hide or retreat among the civilian population." Reardon said

"Right, how about you tell us what's not in the catalog description?" Callen snapped.

"Well, I can't get into specifics, with people like you, but the idea essentially is that you tag a guy with the residue, you can track him anywhere on the planet by satellite to within a yard away." Reardon said.

Callen scowled, at him, but Sam looked impressed.

"That's impressive." Sam told Reardon.

"You have no idea." Reardon typed on his Ipad and put a map on the screen, "Special Ops started field testing last month in a single high conflict area. Here's our first go." Red spots appeared on the screen.

"Kunduz." Sam said recognizing the area.

Callen resisted the urge to say bless you.

Reardon nodded, "Afghanistan. And here are the targets" the red spots appeared again, "And here is a tracking history." A trail of red lines appeared.

"How long does the residue last?" Callen asked.

"A few months, a few days. We give the residue the half-life we want." Reardon said.

"And it stays on?" Callen asked, even he was getting impressed.

"Clothes or skin. Let me show you." He put a metal box on the table. "You need steel wool or harsh chemicals to take it off, and that's assuming you know you've been tagged. This is inactive spray; it'll give you the idea." He sprayed himself on the shoulder, nothing appeared, he gave Callen a camera, "Here, see for yourself."

"Huh." On the screen over Callen's shoulder Sam could see a green mark on Reardon's shoulder.

"Have there been any problems?" Callen asked.

"Tracking is spotty indoors, and, uh, we had one incident involving a violent altercation where the residue actually transferred subjects, just once. The real issue is overloading ... the man-hours needed to analyze the data dump."

"So many suspects doing things, So many questionable data trails." Callen said.

"Exactly. I got to tell you, this is a game changer." Reardon said excited.

"But it's only as good as your human Intel. You have a target walk into a mosque really...? What do you know? He could be using the bathroom or selling a new cell phone up to the Imam."Sam argued, he hated it when anyone thought anything was infallible.

"Thanks to various concerns of a similar nature, we are limited to Kunduz. The geographic area is reasonably sized, so there are lots of people to track while we work out the bugs." Reardon said.

"Tell me how it ended up on Yusuf Afzal." Callen snapped.

"Who, as far as we can ascertain, has never been to Afghanistan." Sam added.

Reardon looked at the name and ID and typed it into his Ipad, "Yusuf Afzal. He's not one of ours. We did not put it on him."

"So who did?" Sam asked.

"Access is highly restricted. The residue is not stored stateside. Bottom line, I have no idea." He admitted.

"Commander, can you bring up LA?" Callen asked.

"As I Said, there are no subjects stateside." Reardon objected.

"Humor me." Callen grinned.

Reardon sighed; there was no arguing with this agent, "We do not use this domestically."

A map of Los Angeles appeared and hundreds of red spots appeared.

"I don't understand. Okay, this ... it's got to be a glitch." He said looking stunned.

"Some glitch, 'cause it looks like someone is Illegally tracking dozens of Americans." Sam snapped.

"Now that or there are hundreds of Afghan terrorists roaming around LA." Callen sighed.

Reardon grabbed his phone and rang his superior, "Okay, got it." He said and cut the call.

"It's not a glitch?" Callen asked.

"No, it's not a glitch. The Pentagon just went on high alert. Software says it started about three weeks ago. 112 subjects have been tagged." He said.

"So who are they? Why is the navy tracking em?" Callen asked.

"It's not us! Our satellites are picking up the residue; the Overwatch software is recording and time-stamping it, the rest of the data has been encrypted we can't read anything." Reardon exclaimed.

"So basically somebody hijacked the world's most powerful tracking technology." Sam said

"Basically, yes." Reardon said annoyed.

Sam and G leant against the table as Eric and Nell briefed them on the Overwatch situation.

"We have not had any luck breaking the encryption. He's spoofing his IP address masking his real IP with a fake one. This guy is good." Eric told them.

"He also hacked the tasking of satellites to collect data over LA area." Nell told them

"Very good." Eric reiterated the awe in his voice evident.

"So why tag a hundred people in Los Angeles? And what's the connection to Yusuf?" Callen asked.

"What about the targets? Can we follow people home, check their work addresses, cross-check them that Way?" Sam suggested.

Eric sighed, "The encryption makes the computer think they're all the same person, so we just see these icons pop up willy-nilly." Eric said gesturing to the red spots on the map.

"But we did find a common vector ... Masjid Farook. It's a mosque in Westchester. On any given day, at afternoon prayer, you can get ten, 20, 50 targets." Nell said.

"So the hacker specifically targeted this mosque." Callen asked her.

"Masjid Farook is not known to be a radical hot spot. The imam likes publicity, and there's the occasional fringe speaker, it's not considered a security risk." Sam said to them.

"Well, what about its members? Anybody on the watch list?" Callen asked.

"No one to set your heart racing." Eric informed them.

"I doubt whoever is behind this is going to get caught outside the mosque in a van with a pair of binoculars and adult diapers, although it would not hurt to have our own monitoring to cross-check." Nell said seriously.

Sam laughed.

"Eric, send the details to Kensi. Nell, that's a nice visual." Callen said flashing Nell a huge smile and she blushed as Sam and Callen left.

Eric sighed, as Nell turned to him, "I had another thought. It's a little out there. Okay, so this guy spoofed his IP address." She started.

"Yeah?" Eric said as he was typing away.

"Now, he probably visits other sites from the same computer. Maybe sometimes he forgets and visits, I do not know, ESPN and his IP address spoofing is on and …" Nell started.

"And sometimes he visits and he is not spoofing ..." Eric interjected.

"Leaving the real IP address behind." Nell added.

"Now, that is very, very good." Eric said proudly.

Nell ducked her head and blushed and Eric laughed.

"So, by cross checking the exact page views with time of day, in the morning politics, cricket at night. And because people are painfully predictable in their internet browsing, I matched this spoofed IP address and this IP address." Eric said.

"Which is ... Brentstein & Associates, a small firm specializing in risk analysis ... We did it!" Nell exclaimed amazed as she and Eric high fived each other.

Kensi and Deeks sat in the car park of the Mosque and watched all the people passing by.

"She's tagged…So's he…" Kensi said looking at the family walking along.

Deeks watched a woman walk by pushing a child who was about the same age as Lena.

"Have you talked to him…?" he asked.

"About?" Kensi asked looking through the camera.

"Look, something is going on, ever since Ross…"

"Don't say her name." Kensi spat. Deeks looked at her apologetically.

"Is he staying home nights?" Deeks asked.

Kensi looked intently at the camera trying to hide her tears, "No…not for a few nights, we've argued more too. Not in front of Lena, he's still devoted to her, but…I think I'm pulling away." She admitted.

She found herself reaching for his hand. He took it and rubbed his thumb over her knuckles.

"It'll be ok," Deeks said softly.

She turned to look at him "Marty…I…it's…" Deeks looked at her in the eyes.

"Kens…guy with a spray…" Deeks said softly looking over her shoulder.

"Huh?" Kensi said.

"Guy with a spray…" Deeks said again, Kensi looked through the camera.

"It's Overwatch." Kensi said and got out of the car to chase the man, who promptly got into a taxi.

Callen and Sam walked into the offices of Brentstein & Associates.

"It would take a warrant and a day and a half to identify which computer." Sam groaned looking at all the computers in the room.

"By then, he'd have wiped his hard drive and been long gone."

"Empty office?" Sam suggested nodding towards an empty side room.

"Could access their employee list. Interference?" Callen suggested to Sam and connected his computer to his phone.

"We've got company." Sam whispered as a woman walked towards him.

"One more minute!" Callen hissed.

"Uh, excuse me?" Sam said drawing the woman's attention away from the office. "Could you help me out here?" He asked.

The woman stopped, and focused on him, "Depends on what you need?" she said.

Sam laughed, "You're funny. Uh, I'm looking for Alan. He's an accountant. I've decided I needed a numbers guy in my life. Am I on the right floor?" He asked.

"There's no Alan here, and we're not accountants. I'd suggest you try the directory in the lobby." She snapped.

"Oh, uh, wait. You know what? Maybe it wasn't Alan. Adam ... Alex ..." Sam said pretending to check his phone.

"You getting this, Eric?" Callen asked in a hushed voice.

"Got it. Running a broad-spectrum search." Eric's voice came clear through the earwig.

"Uh, Assan?" Sam asked.

"Nope." The woman snapped looking towards her office again.

Sam's phone chimed as a text from Callen appeared on the screen. 'Done. G.' it said.

"Great. Well, thank you." Sam said smiling,

"Okay." She said and turned to look at the office, Callen was hiding in.

"Oh, sorry. Sorry. One more thing." Sam said turning the woman back to face him as Callen walked out of the office.

"Um ... Yeah?" she snapped getting irritated.

"Do you have a restroom?" Sam asked as G walked past.

"I... I have this condition." Sam said slightly embarrassed.

The woman pointed down the corridor and turned with a huff and walked into the office G vacated.

"Thank you." Sam said aloud and then dropped his voice, "Better have a plan G." he hissed.

Callen walked over to the Xerox machine and started copying blank sheets of paper, smiling as people walked past.

In Ops, Nell turned to Eric. "Hey, Eric. I think I got something." She said and threw a picture on the screen, "Hector Cage, Department of Homeland Security. Worked on a bunch of boring stuff... boring stuff, and the early development team of USN6457. That's the code name for Overwatch." She said.

"Waiting, Eric." Callen said as he xeroxed more blank sheets of paper.

"This is your plan? I let you take lead, and ride shotgun, for this? Xeroxing blank pieces of paper?" Sam moaned.

Callen grinned, "People only see what they want to see." He said and he was right no one was taking any notice.

"Dumb luck club." Sam sighed,

"Callen, Sam, I think we got something. Hector Cage. He's an analyst. I'm sending you His picture now." Eric said.

Callen grinned as Eric sent the picture to his phone, "See? Good Plan."

Sam chuckled, "Dumb luck."

"Where's Hector's office?" Callen asked a woman who was passing, she pointed down the hall and Callen nodded to her, they walked down the hallway and arrived at Hector's office at the same time he arrived.

They looked at the picture and Callen turned to him.

"Hector Cage? We'd like to ask you some questions." Callen said, Hector ran, jumped over a desk as Callen and Sam chased him. He runs to a door which opened suddenly and Hector was hit in the nose and fell down bleeding.

Kensi and Deeks stuck their head around the other side of the door.

"Whoa. What are you ...?" Deeks said looking at Hector on the ground.

"We found the guy." Callen said to Sam.

"Huh. So did we." Kensi replied.

"You gotta be more careful, Hector." Sam grinned as Hector let his head fall back onto the ground with a groan.

Hector sat dabbing his nose in the boathouse as Callen and Sam entered.

"Three years, Homeland Security department computer tech." Sam said looking at his file.

"I need a doctor." Cage said.

"You saw a doctor." Callen said sitting down across from him.

"I saw an EMT." Cage argued.

"You're fine. Got a clean bill of health. You can answer questions."

"Early development team, Overwatch. According to your boss, you had access to the prototype of the residue." Sam sat next to Callen, "Then you moved on to Brentstein & Associates, Where do you ..."

"Stochastic analysis of terrorist risks. Which means that I…" Cage started.

"Predict the chances of a random terrorist attack. Insurance companies love you guys." Sam smirked.

"Buildings are targets. Buildings need insurance. Who do you think should be paying for all that risk?" Cage snapped.

Kensi and Deeks were watching on the screen in the other room as Callen and Sam got to work.

"Let's get back to where you hacked into classified military software. One of the guys you tagged turned up dead.

Sam put Yusuf's picture on the table in front of Hector.

"Nice mosque." Sam laughed, "And his ID badge says he works at a hospital. That is a grade "A" soft target. Do you guys care at all if he espouses the destruction of America?"

"If we want your opinion, Hector, we'll visit your blog. Right now, we can focus on where you were two nights ago." Callen asked.

"I was at my computer at work, pulling an all-nighter. It can be verified by multiple surveillance cameras and people. Anything else, or ...?" Cage told them.

"That's a nice spray bottle." Callen put more pictures, this time of Cage spraying people on the desk. "Do you do that one at a time? That's a pretty time-consuming hobby." Cage looked shaky.

"You are dangerously underestimating the terrorist threat level. Privacy is history. International flights, gone. Five years, max. Three years out, we are all gonna be tagged and monitored, and every inch of every of border's gonna have a guy with a gun pointing out." Cage said defending himself.

"What a hopeful vision for the future." Sam said sarcastically.

"Is not random stochastic analysis about terrorism threats?" Callen asked.

"Yes." Cage said.

"How do you predict something that's random? I think your jobs making you crazy, Hector." Callen laughed.

"Crazier. What do you think your employers going to say when we tell 'em you've been breaching national security on company time?"

"You haven't broken the encryption." Cage said with a small smirk.

"Why do you say that?" Callen snapped.

"Would not be talking to me if you did. Just looking at the data points here, guys. You have a dead body, and you'd love to know where he's been. I guess this is the part where you make a deal with me for the encryption code." Cage said and Callen looked at Sam, he was right.

"The encryption codes you got from Hector Cage are working." Eric said a few minutes later.

"Eric, you've got everything all we need is Yusuf." Sam said.

"All right, pulling it up now." Eric said pulling the information up.

"Hector's alibi checks out. The desktop cam matches the security cam, All which matches the coworkers' statements, and the footage is Stored off-site." Kensi said

Callen rolled his eyes, "These guys are paranoid… Seriously." He sighed.

In Ops Eric looked on the screen and jumped. The red dot that represented Yusuf Afzal was moving.

"Dead men don't walk?" Eric said turning to Nell.

"Not unless it's Halloween." Nell said looking at the red dot move.

"Maybe someone should tell Yusuf Afzal it's not Halloween." Eric said.

"Where does he think he's going?" Nell asked concerned.

"Calwest Hospital? What? Is he going back to work?"

In the boathouse Sam started as Eric's face appeared on screen, "What's going on, Eric?" He said quickly.

"According to Overwatch, Yusuf Afzal just entered the south entrance of Calwest Hospital. Maybe the residue transferred subjects?" Eric asked still not trusting what he was seeing.

"Maybe to his girlfriend?" Deeks offered.

"Now to the killer. Violent altercation?" Sam threw out there. But Callen shook his head.

"Maybe they're the same person. Eric, find Larissa Bay." He said and they headed for their cars.

The four of them entered Calwest Hospital together as Eric filled them in.

"Larissa Bay is scheduled to work today in the pediatric wing of the tower." He said over the earwig.

"Kensi, Deeks, take Pediatrics." Callen said and headed through the door as Kensi and Deeks headed for the elevator.

"Talk to us Eric." Sam said looking around.

"Looks like the target is headed for the North Wing. But I can't tell which floor. Looks like the third. No, no, no. The fourth. Tracking's kind of spotty indoors." Eric told them.

Kensi and Deeks entered Pediatrics.

"Deeks? Larissa just logged into her station on the pediatric floor. ID and fingerprints are a match." Nell said to him.

Deeks nodded to Kensi, "Ready?" He asked as he spotted Larissa in her office.

"Larissa? Put your hands where we can see 'em." Kensi said.

Larissa jumped. "What?"

"Guys, we got her." Deeks said.

Eric whispered to Nell, "Wait, the target's still in the North Wing, That's two wings away." Then he said aloud, "Kensi, Deeks, the target is not Larissa."

"What's going on? What is this?" Larissa continued looking at Deeks.

"Our mistake. You're not the one we're looking for." Deeks said apologetically stepping back.

"No kidding." Larissa said sarcastically.

"I'm sorry." Deeks said again.

Kensi turned and talked to Eric, "Eric, target status. Where is he?"

"The target is in the North Wing." Eric reaffirmed.

Callen and Sam got to the north wing and couldn't find anything.

"Okay, I've got you. Callen, Sam, you are almost there. Um, looks like the target is slowing down. Uh, room 420, room 422. Okay. He's stopping. At the end of this corridor, take a right." Eric said over the Comm.

"North Wing is Radiology. Yusuf Spent the last two weeks there doing a software overhaul." Nell informed the duo.

"Now what, Eric?" Sam huffed a little miffed.

"Go down this hallway. Make a right, then another right. The target's still stopped. You should have him." Eric informed them and they moved faster.

"Nurse Edna to Oncology. Nurse Edna to Oncology." A voice came over the loud speakers.

Sam and Callen looked down the hallway, no one was there.

"Talk to me, Eric. Wrong floor?" Callen asked worried.

"No. He's stopped. He's 20 feet in front of you." Eric insisted.

"No, he isn't." Callen said looking both ways up the hallway.

"Where is he, Eric?" Sam asked.

"You're ten feet away. You're five feet. Guys, you're right next to him!" Eric insisted, the red dot not moving.

"Air duct?" Callen looked at the ceiling.

Sam and Callen looked around and Sam looked at the trash can.

"I'm getting a bad feeling about this." Sam said and opened the trash can with his pedal.

They looked in horror to see the head in the can.

"Looks like we were chasing Yusuf after all." Callen said.

"Eric, room 423 we need to get through this door…" Sam said looking at the door in front of him.

"I'm on it." Eric said turning to his computer.

Callen looked at the door. "They took the body for this iris scanner. It was all about getting through this door." He said

"Eric!" Sam snapped in frustration

"It's a secure hospital door that needs an iris scan. How easy do you want this to be?" Eric snapped back.

Callen leant forward and looked in the garbage bag and put his gun back in its holster.

"So, you're not thinking ...?" Sam started looking between Callen and the head

"We know one way in." Callen said.

"Oh, well, by all means, if you want to; I won't judge you." Sam said backing off from touching the head.

"It's not exactly my first choice." Callen said slipping on his gloves.

"Oh, so you want me to?" Sam said taking a step back.

"I didn't say that." Callen said opening the bag and looking at the head again. "Oh, boy." He stuck his hand in gingerly feeling around the head, suddenly the door beeped and unlocked. "Thank you, Eric!" He said totally relieved as he took his gun and he and Sam entered the room.

The room had been searched, there were broken pieces of glass on the floor, but Sam's attention was drawn to a small refrigerator in the corner.

"Eric, we-have an empty shelf; it has fluoro-dioxide glucose, Tositumomab ... and brachytherapy canisters. What are these?" Sam asked reading the list.

"They're radiopharmaceuticals; Guys, its nuclear medicine." Nell said as Callen looked at an Empty box with a radiation label on it that had contained brachytherapy canisters.

"If it was here, it's gone now." Callen said worried.

"Everything a terrorist needs to make a dirty bomb." Sam said.

Both Sam and G were nervous as they entered the mission, Sam for his family and Callen for Lena, he had considered calling Eva and having her take Lena out of town, but right now he knew that wouldn't help and Kensi would only get madder at him than she already was.

He looked up as he saw Deeks hurrying down the stairs.

"Hetty's talking to the FBI, CIA and Vance." Sam said.

"I alerted LAPD ... They were as obnoxious to me as always ... but they are all over it. Also, we got nothing from those videos hospital surveillance tapes." Deeks said catching up to them.

"Eric's monitoring the city's nuclear alert sensors." Kensi said shooting G a look and thinking about Lena's safety too.

"Do we know exactly what was taken?" Callen asked.

"Yeah, four canisters of brachytherapy ... enough material to contaminate several city blocks, depending on which way the wind is blowing. Would cause mass casualties, end result, Thousands of people would get sick." Kensi said looked at Callen worried.

"That's not the real threat." Sam said ominously.

"The real threat ... is the first act of nuclear terrorism on American soil. If this happens, nothing will ever be the same." Hetty said appearing from around the corner.

Sam opened a metal suitcase, taking out radiation monitoring devices.

"Radiation pagers ... register nuclear material, in case we can get close enough." Sam said handing them out.

"It vibrates or beeps, depending on the setting." Hetty told them.

"Directional radiation detector. State-of-the art Geiger counter. This one has a mute button." Sam instructed.

"Oh, give that one to Deeks." Kensi grinned.

Eric called down from the balcony. "We got a hit ... a NEST sensor went off on the ten." They all went up to Ops to get briefed.

"The NEST system ... AKA the Nuclear Emergency Support Team ... has sensors all across the country that go off when nuclear material passes by them." Eric told the team "Hospital's here and the sensors went off and... here." He told them showing them new red dots on the map.

"We confirmed the wavelength matched the missing material." Nell said

"Then, 12 minutes later, the sensor went off here and nothing since." Eric said

"Which puts us ... in Venice." Nell finished focusing the map on the area where the last NEST sensor was.

"Works for me." Sam said.

"Let's go." Callen said heading for the stairs.

They flanked the fresh produce market in Venice, holding their directional detectors as inconspicuously as possible.

"Well, you'd think somebody would do our national security a favor and leave some of these bags at home." Deeks said as they split up.

"I'm getting a low reading." Callen said looking at his detector.

"Me, too." Kensi replied

"I got something, and it's fluctuating. He must be moving through the crowd." Deeks said looking round.

"Sam, you getting anything?" Callen asked.

"Yeah, he's here. This might be a buy, G. Eric, you got eyes?" Sam asked.

"I got a traffic camera on the corner of the market on Main Street another, a little fuzzy, and an LAPD dash-cam sitting near the entrance." Eric told them.

Sam's detector beeped louder and faster.

"Sam, what do we got?" Kensi asked.

Sam looked up from his detector that was now so loud that others could hear it, A blond man noticed him and pushed another guy out of the way.

He took off running.

"Kensi, Deeks, watch the crowd!" Callen yelled and chased after the man with Sam.

"Got it." Deeks replied.

"Eric, do we have any other runners?" Kensi asked.

"I might have someone. Heading east on Main." Nell said watching the cameras

"I got him, on my 3:00 ... guy in a navy coat." Deeks started following the man who looked back, "He's going. He's going!" Deeks took off after the guy as Kensi followed.

She crossed the road; a car couldn't avoid her and hit her. She flew through the air and landed on the ground with a thud.

Deeks heard the commotion, "Kensi?!" He panted while chasing the guy.

"Go Deeks, Go…I got hit by a car, I'm good."

"Run it off Kens." Callen's voice came through the comms, "We gotta get 'em."

People gasped as Kensi got up, she shook her head and grunted and followed on after Deeks.

Deeks made it to one of the many bridges in Venice, he chased the man onto the bridge and tackled him, and the man fought back and tossed Deeks over his shoulder into the water. For a second, Deeks' face was full of fear as he looked up at the man to see him holding a gun on him; he thought of Kensi, her smile and realized he needed to fight, pulling his gun from under the water he shot the man dead as Kensi arrived at the bridge.

"Oh!" Deeks said in relief as Kensi lent him a hand to get out of the water.

"You okay?" She asked worried.

"Yeah. Your timing is fantastic. You recognize him?" He asked standing as the water dripped from him.

"He's one of the guys from the morgue." Kensi said.

They walked back to the car, Kensi trying not to check out the curves Deeks was sporting with the tight jean wet look.

She watched surreptitiously as Deeks took his shirt off and threw the wet one in his go-bag. She looked at his abs as he pulled a dry shirt over his body.

She moved towards him and handed him his jeans and he grinned at her.

Callen and Sam caught up to their man who had taken a woman hostage.

"Whoa! Easy." Sam said as he leveled his gun.

"Stay away!" The man yelled.

"Everybody get back! Everybody get back!" Sam yelled to the onlookers.

"I'll kill her, man!" The blond man threatened and the woman screamed.

"Calm down." Sam said moving out of the way as G got his gun ready.

The woman was shaking.

"Calm down." Sam said and then ducked, "Take him, G." Callen let one bullet go from his gun; no more no less, the man was dead before he hit the ground.

Callen checked the man's bag with his detector, "What are you thinking? Bomb?" Callen asked.

"Trigger, timer?" Sam guessed.

"The triggerman would have to be nearby." Callen said.

"Timer could go off anytime." Sam said, he was worried by the amount of people in the area, "We got to open it now."

"We could call the bomb squad." Callen offered.

"It's a thought." Sam admitted.

"They might take too long to get here." Callen mused aloud.

"Flip for it?" Sam offered.

Before Lena was born Sam knew Callen would have gone after the bomb himself he was glad his agent was worried about his own mortality now.

"I was the one reaching for Yusuf's head." Callen argued.

"That head is looking pretty good right now." Sam said squatting down near the bags.

"Don't blow us up." Callen advised. Sam nodded and he looked in the box.

Sam looked worried; there are only 3 canisters instead of four.

"It's not a bomb." Sam said.

"He was here to sell it. The buyer was here ... somewhere." Callen said scanning the crowd but he knew it was a futile gesture.

Up in Ops Eric turned to the others.

"We identified the two men. Wendell Hertz and Jake Varley, both, Canadian, both, traffickers. Guns, cigarettes, prescription drugs." Eric said.

"Who graduated to dirty bombs." Sam said.

Eric nodded, "No known political affiliations. They seem to be in it for the money. Oh and ... Hertz had a PET scan at the Hospital Calwest same day Yusuf was updating the system software." He filled the team in.

"Orchestrated it to canvass the hospital. They were looking for somebody with access." Callen said.

"Maybe Yusuf thought he was vulnerable because he was a Muslim. Paid him a call to make a deal. He refused, and then it got deadly, then he came up with the brilliant idea of going to the morgue and stealing Yusuf's body." Sam said.

"What about the buyer?" Callen asked.

"Unfortunately, it's buyers. Several. We hacked into Hertz's voice mail and some encrypted emails." Eric said

"And?" Sam prompted

"We ran the voice mail through a beta of Shibboleth ... it's an accent ... and identifying one of the buyers cam up as mid-mountain regional." Nell told them.

"Homegrown terrorists." Sam said sadly.

"Surveillance cameras show anything?" Kensi asked.

"Nothing yet. We're running facial recognition on the lookey-loos, tracing license plates leaving the area. But we did find this?" Nell put some footage up on the screen with a small smirk. "It's a home security system on the canals."

They watched the footage of Deeks getting dumped in the canal.

"You got footage of my tackle and my sweet right hook?" Deeks grinned then his face fell as he watched himself get thrown in the water.

"Oh! No, no. Where-where's the footage of the fight?" Deeks asked

"This is all I got." Nell grinned.

The video played on a loop Deeks splashing into the water over and over again.

"Ow! Nice move, Diesel." Sam grinned.

"D-Unit in the water." Kensi grinned.

"Okay, that's hilarious. That's where I shot the guy. Where's the footage of the fight before this?" Deeks asked Nell, but she shook her head.

"Whoa! D-Rock in the water!" Sam laughed.

"You know where the footage is ... it's in here." Deeks pointed to his head. "You know what it is? Awesome. All right. I'm gonna go tell Hetty. Hetty?" Deeks walked out of the room with a grin. "Hetty?" He called again.

Callen walked into the coroner's office. Rose looked up and smiled. Callen showed her the picture of the man Deeks had killed.

"It could be him; I…I can't be sure." Rose said shaky.

"Well, He had this on him." Callen showed her the canister box.

"Wha ...?" Rose looked shocked.

"It's the makings of a dirty bomb." Callen said.

"Wow! I mean ... wow!" She looked shaky and Callen wrapped an arm around her.

"You should feel good." He said breathing in the scent of her hair.

"I do." Rose laughed nervously. "Hey, so, I took your advice ... I…I tried to contact his next of kin. Edgar, my co-worker who died?" she said

"Right." Callen said as Rose grabbed his hand.

"But He didn't seem to-have a next of kin ... uh, well, an unmarked grave, that just didn't seem right, Then I'm, like, is he an, "RIP" kind of guy or more, "In Loving Memory"? I didn't have really anything to go on except that he really liked working here. So, I thought maybe he'd like to stay."

She pulled Callen to a table with symbols of all the religions you could think of. "I thought I would cover all the bases, and Edgar can now be around the one spot I know he loved. Or liked. I think."

Callen smiled, Rose had a beautiful heart, "Rose ... Edgar Would have loved this." He said

Rose laughed, "Thanks." She sighed as his arms wrapped around her and he kissed her hair gently.

In the Gym a few hours later Callen found Hetty alone looking at the climbing wall, she had her bottle of syrup in her hand.

"That was not me." Callen said pointing at the bottle.

"I'm not accusing, I'm, uh, offering. Congratulations are in order." Hetty said.

"I'm not so sure about that. There are still a lot of loose ends. We do not know where the canister is, it's still missing." Callen reasoned.

"It'll turn up." Hetty said reassuringly.

"That's what I'm afraid of." Callen said.

"That, Mr. Callen, is tomorrow's work. Go get some rest." Hetty said and Callen nodded.

"Good night, Hetty." Callen said Hetty took a few steps and then turned. "Hey, Hetty?" He grinned.

She smiled and faced him, "No." she said

"You do not even know what I was ..." Callen started

"Absolutely not." Hetty said

"Did you check your in-box? I redid the evaluations." Callen said with a smirk.

"In That Case ..." She put the empty bottle down and turned to the wall. "Once."

"All right." Callen agreed.

"On the count of three. One ..." Hetty said

"Wait, wait. You haven't stretched out yet." Callen protested.

"Two ..." Hetty smirked.

"You haven't warmed up yet." Callen said again.

"Three!" she ran to the climbing wall and Callen threw his bag to the ground and ran after her.

"Damn it!" Callen said

Hetty smiled, "I told you I was good."

Deeks looked over at Kensi as she pulled up outside his place, "You wanna come in for coffee?" he asked.

Kensi looked at him, Eva had Lena for the night, Callen had made sure of that.

Callen was working late again, which she highly doubted but couldn't argue with… "Sure." She said.

She followed Deeks up the stairs.

He opened the door, before he could think of anything else he had his arms around her and was kissing her passionately.

"Deeks." Kensi breathed.

He looked at her, "Are you good?" he asked hoping he hadn't overstepped the bounds.

She looked at him and without answering pulled him back in for a kiss.

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered book publisher, offering an online community for talented authors and book lovers. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books you love the most based on crowd wisdom.