First of a three part trilogy, Madness, Insanity and Salvation.
Callen looked over at the sleeping form of Nell.
He and Sam had made it back the night before. It had taken some crazy sidestepping on his part as Paris Summerskill had dropped a big hint about him staying.
She was nice and the idea of being on the move…that did appeal to him. Occasionally, now he was based in one place he got itchy feet and wanted to move like in his childhood it was comfortable and he liked that.
Now…he had something to leave behind and that he didn't want, so he had used the Sam has family excuse to get back as quick as possible.
Sam had sat on the plane on the way back from El Centro to Los Angeles and looked at him. "We could have stayed a few more days; Quinn has gone to visit her mother." He told him.
"I missed the sea."
Was all that Callen replied whilst staring out of the window.
What he didn't add was that more than anything he missed his diminutive redheaded analyst.
The two of them had been seeing each other since Callen had gone after Hetty in Romania. Although they had agreed to keep it to themselves, Nell for fear it wouldn't work out and Callen for fear….just for fear.
Callen hadn't had much go right in his life, this was his…This relationship, affair, mutual hook up whatever it was, was important to him.
He needed her, but he hadn't come right out and said anything yet.
He knew this was a problem, she knew why he wouldn't commit or tell the team or even her that he loved her. Nevertheless, she could tell, by the way he smiled at her and the way he kissed her when they were alone that he loved her.
She had had a small slip at Christmas, when she had gone to kiss Eric on the cheek under the mistletoe, he had turned at the last minute, and she had kissed him. However, she had brushed that off as an aberration and had carried on.
Before Callen and Sam had left for the assignment with Granger and the Red Team, Eric had let slip that they had kissed. Blindly chattering on Eric hadn't noticed the look of hurt that had crossed Callen's face for less than a second.
Then they had left and Nell had had to watch Callen interacting with Paris; even when they had come back after Danny had been hurt and Roy had been assigned to the Red Team. Callen had been there supporting her as she had to face her own demons regarding Roy Quaid, Danny's replacement.
Worse for her had been listening to the scuttlebutt around the office regarding Callen and Paris as a couple. Kensi and Deeks she had expected it from, a few jokes maybe from Sam. However, the worse had been when Hetty had said Paris and Callen instead of Paris and Quaid.
As if she had expected them to get together when she was talking to Granger. As Nell heard the final part of the conversation and Hetty admitted she had thought about Callen joining the red team, Nell had broken and she had left early and gone back to the house she and Callen shared and had gone to bed.
She had grabbed the shirt he was wearing before he left and she put it on allowing his scent to overwhelm her and lull her to sleep.
That was where Callen had found her a few hours later when he arrived home.
He sat on the chair watching her, fearful of waking her up. Just taking stock of what he had.
He realized he loved her.
He had missed her while he'd been away.
He had been away before, hell he'd even missed Christmas spending it with the team on the carrier after the case of the murdered NCIS agent afloat.
Then he hadn't missed her as much he had this time.
Sharing a bunkroom with Sam and Granger had nearly cost him dearly as he had woken from a particularly vivid dream of her and only just managed to stop himself from calling her name on awakening, he'd spent the rest of the night pottering about the makeshift base trying desperately not to fall back asleep and dream of her again.
While talking to Paris the next morning he had found himself daydreaming about the way Nell's hair fell as she woke and that little raspberry noise she made as she turned over and tried not to snore.
He smiled to himself as she did just that in front of him and woke up slowly rubbing her eyes and sitting up.
"G?" She said confused. "I thought you weren't getting in till tomorrow."
"I convinced them Sam needed to get back for his family. We got in early." He said moving from the chair to the edge of the bed.
"I thought you would want to stay and familiarize yourself with Paris…I mean the team," She said tears building up again.
Callen looked at her.
"Nell we need to talk." Callen said soberly.
Nell looked stricken, She shot up from the bed and headed to the bathroom, "I'm late for work." She said. Closing the door to the bathroom she sat on the toilet and allowed the hurt to flood through her.
"Nell!" Callen called knocking on the door.
Nell wiped her eyes and opened the door.
"It's ok." She said and kissed him on the cheek, "we both knew it wouldn't last." She grabbed her clothes and started dressing.
"NO...Nell that's not it!" Callen said mortified. "Unless that's what you want?" he asked.
Nell turned to him her eyes ablaze, "Look Callen I get it, she's blonde and a team leader, an agent and a good two feet taller than me she has to be perfect for you, I'm short, I'm ditzy and only an analyst."
Callen grabbed Nell and pulled her too him.
"Nell Jones you are perfect and I love you." Callen said with all his feeling pouring into that sentence.
She stood still in shock. "You…you love me?"
Callen looked at her, this was madness and he felt like it was swallowing him whole, but he had finally seen the light and to keep her, he had to tell her what she meant to him.
It was now or never.
"Nell, I love you….I would say I love you more than anyone, but I have never loved anyone for comparison. I feel like I'm drowning and then you come and hold me and I feel saved. I am scared…more scared than I have ever been. Admitting this to you is scarier than facing a roomful of armed terrorists. And….when you hold me I feel…Safe."
He trailed off and sat on the bed waiting for her to say something or do something.
His first thought was she's going to leave and he found himself clutching her hand unwilling to let go.
She turned and wrapped her arms around him.
"I love you too, I thought I was losing you to Paris, Everyone thinks you both make a good couple."
Callen shuddered. "I don't she's too driven, she's headstrong and focused and more importantly she's not you."
Nell sat next to him on the bed and leant into his hug.
"I'm glad you feel that way G, I think…well we need to tell the team about us." Nell said softly.
"You want to tell them?" Callen was surprised it had been her idea to keep it a secret.
"Erm, we need to tell them." She said.
Callen looked at her confused.
She reached over to the nightstand, pulled out a small box, and opened it. She handed him the stick inside.
He picked up the small piece of plastic and his face broke into a grin as he realized what it was.
"You're pregnant?" he asked the hope evident in his voice.
She nodded and smiled as he laughed lifting her up and kissing her.
This was truly madness and he wouldn't have it any other way.