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Project 'C'

By Gina Mae Callen

Action / Thriller

Chapter 1

Callen woke up, checked the traffic report and got out of bed. He knew the route that Sam would take to pick him up as he located his GPS; he put the coffee on and headed for the shower.

True to form as Sam pulled up Callen was standing outside with 2 to go cups of coffee.

"Morning." Sam said having stopped wondering years ago how he did that.

Callen grinned, "Morning, did you have a good weekend?"

"Not bad Michelle and I took Kamran up to Disneyland, you should have come. It was fun." Sam smiled.

Callen climbed into the car, "Yeah, fun," he said, his voice saying to him a weekend in Disneyland with thousands of screaming children was anything but.

"What did you do?" Sam asked.

"Read, played Chess, did some gardening…" Callen said.

"You could have got your reports done…" Sam laughed, knowing how behind he was.

"No way, my house is a technology free zone." Callen said, "There's enough work at work I don't need to bring it home." He complained.

Sam nodded, he'd been trying to get Callen to buy a TV and a couch ever since he'd brought the house, wanting somewhere 'girl-free' to watch the games with, but Callen resisted every time.

Pulling into the parking lot at the side of the mission Callen grabbed his bag and walked inside.

"It's not my fault!" Deeks yelled as Kensi twisted his arm behind his back.

"Yes it is….you did something to it!" she snapped at him as she glared at her computer screen.

Callen dropped his bag, "what's going on?" he snapped, he was more tired than usual, and he felt a bit off.

"Deeks did something to my computer, it keeps showing a bleeding heart!" she cried, "Eric and Nell aren't in yet and he won't fix it."

"I didn't do it; I don't know what happened, maybe when you took it home this weekend it picked up a virus?" Deeks suggested.

"Yeah?" Kensi stopped and looked at him, "Or you sent me one, all I did was Skype with you!"

Callen walked over and looked at the computer hit a few keys and smiled, "All gone, now can we get back to work?" he asked.

Deeks and Kensi stared at him, "You…? You fixed it?" she asked awed.

"Eric and Nell weren't always here you know… before them, we had to do this sort of thing, it's easy…" and for Callen it was. Computers had always… well as long as he could remember come easy to him, he could just look inside the computer, see where the problem was and figure out the right file path to fix it.

He figured everyone could do it.

He shrugged and walked over to finish his after action reports, most of which he'd done in his head in the car on the way to work.

He printed them out and handed them to Hetty.

"Thank you Mr. Callen, working hard again, I see." She said.

Callen smiled, "Yeah… he headed to the armory to work on his gun."

Hetty watched him go as her phone rang, she answered it and all signs of amusement were wiped from her face.

"When was he taken?" she said urgently.

She listened to the man on the other end and stood up and walked into the bullpen.

"We have a case." She said quietly.

"I'll get Callen." Sam got up to go to the armory.

"No… Mr. Callen is not to be read in on this case." Hetty said.

The others looked worried and followed her up the stairs.

Eric and Nell looked surprised as Hetty walked in. "Do we have a case?" Nell asked.

"We do…" Hetty walked over to the computers and typed a code and a redacted file opened.

"Daniel Hurst was kidnapped this morning, He was a scientist with the CIA… his work was in applied Genetics and advance computer technology."

"So…" Sam started looking around, "Why is Callen out of the loop."

"Hetty!" Callen's voice came from downstairs, he ran up the stairs and into ops. "You can't keep me out of the loop on this one."

"Bugger!" Hetty swore and turned to face her agent.

"I have to help him…" Callen looked at the photo of the man who taught Callen everything he knew about being a human being, all his rules, his attitude and his caring for others no matter what came from him.

"Mr. Callen, you can't… it's not… You have been told….!"Hetty started but Callen cut her off.

"Don't tell me it's not appropriate, did they take Emma or Jessie?" he asked worried.

"No, they are safe… I didn't realize you kept in touch?" Hetty said surprised.

"Dan was/is my doctor and for a while my family, he was one of the nice ones and kept in touch my whole life, I can't just sit here while he's out there in danger."

"Mr. Callen, you can and you will stand down from an active role in this investigation, on the orders of the CIA. You are not to interfere, however, I think it might help if you go with Sam to see Emma Hurst and help with reassuring your friend that we will do all in our power to bring him home safely."

Callen nodded, "Fine, but… Hetty… I…"

"Be grateful I am allowing you this much." She cut him off and he strode from the OPS center and headed downstairs.

"Mr. Deeks, Ms Blye… Mr. Hurst worked for the CIA, but had a downtown LA office, I'd like you to see if you can get some information on any current projects he was working on, anything that could compromise national security." Hetty said.

"I'll send the address to your Smartphone's." Nell said as she pulled the address up of Daniel Hurst's practice.

Callen paced Hetty's office waiting for her to arrive.

"Mr. Callen, I have said everything I am going to say, now you may go and assist Mr. Hanna in the questioning of Mrs. Hurst and Jessica, but that is it until I am told otherwise."

Callen nodded and turned to find Sam waiting, keys to the challenger in his hand.

They pulled up outside a large mansion in Beverley Hills.

"Wow, nice place." Sam said, looking at the house, Callen nodded, lost in a time back when he first saw the house.

He was seven, he'd arrived in America from Romania two years before, his English was still rusty and he was scared, he'd only been in group homes and they hadn't been very nice or welcoming and now the same two people in suits who had taken his sister away from him had come to take him again. He had been silent in the car the whole journey and stared with wonder at the huge house and the man standing with his wife at the door.

"Behave Callen, you're being given a great gift, you'll be able to help your country someday." The dark man in sunglasses told him.

"I will?" he asked confused.

"Yeah…" the man got out of the car and grabbed Callen's bag. "Come on kid, meet the doc."

"I do not need a doctor, I am not sick?" Callen said worried.

Emma crouched down and smiled at the boy, "Hey, you must be Callen, my name is Emma Hurst… I hope you enjoy staying with us." She said.

"Are you going to be my new mommy?" Callen asked.

Emma shook her head, "No… your mommy will always be your mommy, but we are going to look after you for a while, my husband is a doctor, you're sick Callen, you need our help to get better." She said carefully.

"I don't feel sick?" Callen said confused.

Daniel bent down and looked at the small boy, "I know you don't…do you remember the tests you took when you first arrived?" he asked.

Callen nodded, all the needles had scared him.

"Well, we found a nasty bug in your head, we have to operate on it to make it go away, so you've been sent to stay with us until you're all better." He said, "Come on Emma will show you to your room." He said handing his wife the boy's bag.

Daniel watched his wife take Callen inside and he turned to the two men in suits, "Tell your bosses, this is our last chance, I understand why the mother had to die, there was no way she would have allowed us to do this, but letting the daughter escape and drown… that was just sloppy, I had already said I wanted the boy, he is the most viable candidate, he won't even realize he's different as he gets older.

Sam knocked on the door, jolting Callen out of his reverie.

The door opened and an old woman opened it cautiously. Then she smiled, "Callen!" she exclaimed, holding her arms out.

Callen stepped into the hug, much to the amusement of his partner.

"Em, this is Sam Hanna, my partner, we're investigating Dan's disappearance." He said.

"Come in." she said.

They entered the house, it was immaculate and Sam stopped in the lounge to look at some pictures on the mantelpiece.

There were pictures of Daniel and Emma over the years, a few of a young woman, from birth to childhood, and some of Callen at varying ages, some with the young woman and some without.

"Nice family." Sam remarked smirking at Callen.

Callen ignored him and looked over at Emma, who had sat back in her chair.

"Em?" he asked, concerned.

"I'm alright Callen, just old now, it's been a while since you were here… I know you still see Dan, he tells me, he told me about you being shot. You didn't even come and visit."

"I'm sorry," Callen looked genuinely remorseful. "Can you tell me when you last saw Dan?" he asked gently mindful of how frail the woman looked.

"About an hour after he met with you for your physical G, he met us for lunch, you were supposed to come remember." A younger woman's voice came from the door behind them.

Callen's face lit up, "Jessie?!" he said, turning.

A thirty year old woman with auburn hair and eyes as blue as his walked through carrying a tea tray. She placed it on the coffee table and enveloped Callen in a hug.

"I've missed you…" she said.

"Obviously…?!" Callen grinned, looking at the prominent bulge in her belly and Sam shot him a look.

She flashed a ring at him, "I got married G, you were overseas at the time."

"When?" he asked, confused.

"Last Christmas, I married Steven Cassinelli, our son is due in four months." She smiled.

"Congratulations," Callen said, steering her to a chair.

Sam waited patiently watching Callen and wondering if this would be what he would have been like if he'd had a family.

"Sorry Sam, this is Jessica Cassinelli, Emma and Dan's daughter… my foster sister." He said, "Jess, this is Sam Hanna my partner at NCIS."

Sam and Jessica shook hands as she motioned for them all to take a seat.

"We waited all Friday for Dan to show up, we knew he was giving you your physical and we just assumed he had asked you for dinner and you were giving him a hard time again." Emma said with a smile that showed Sam just how beautiful she had been in her youth.

"Mom!" Callen said without thinking, "I came for dinner a month ago." He argued.

"Never enough, you know that." Emma said not acknowledging his slip, he had a few times called her mom and she liked it and didn't like to draw his attention to it lest he stop.

"Is Dan working on anything right now that would make someone want to kidnap him?" Callen asked.

"No… not at all, not that I know of…"

"What about a patient?" Sam asked, "Callen said Mr. Hurst was a doctor?"

"Callen was his only living patient, he had another, a girl, she ran away and drowned, she was a troubled soul." Emma said looking sadly at Callen.

"I was his only patient?" Callen asked surprised.

"Of course, dear, with you the experiment worked perfectly, he didn't need to do it again." Emma said, confused, surely by now having worked for the CIA and now NCIS Callen knew what he was? Of course, he had not said anything to her over the years, but then Callen had probably been told to keep it a secret.

"Who was the girl?" Sam asked, maybe she had relatives that wanted Daniel dead.

Emma shook her head, looking at Callen surprised, "Why, Amy, your sister… you two were perfect for the project." She said as Callen sat stunned looking at both her and Sam.

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