Nate walked up behind Callen as he watched Deeks and Kensi help get the shelters kids ready to catch the schoolbus. To him it was reminiscent of some of the nicer group homes he had lived in. He watched Deeks carefully. This was the Deeks he had trusted to have his back, the Deeks he missed. This was the Deeks he wanted to remember. Not the Deeks who had hurt his boy, not the Deeks who had sworn to kill him in the hospital bed.
For a moment he found himself wondering how much like Deeks, Jake would become when he grew and how much like himself he would be.
"You ok?" Nate asked quietly nodding towards the door to the back yard. Nate grabbed the folder Callen had left on the table as he left.
Callen nodded and followed Nate out.
"Do you think I did the right thing Nate, signing that paper?" He asked looking at the folder in Nate's hand.
"You did the right thing. One day Jake will be old enough to understand what happened and maybe he'll want to meet Deeks. But for now both of you are thinking about what is right for the boy."
"Deeks is OK though isn't he? I mean...he's not gonna lose it and come after Jake again? That, in there, was the Deeks I remember before he went missing."
"Deeks is Deeks...The medication he will have to take for the rest of his life. He had said I could tell you if you asked. He would never be granted a firearms license again, he has some residual damage for the whole experience, mostly where he was hit around the head by Marc Giamatti. But he is one hundred percent Deeks now."
Callen nodded, "Hold on." he said coming to a decision, he walked back into the house. "Ma'am do you have a pen and a piece of paper I could use?" he asked Caroline.
"Sure son, no problem." She smiled handing him the items.
Callen leaned against the table and wrote on the paper. Handing the rest of the paper and the pen back he thanked Caroline and went to join Nate outside.
"Here." He said handing Nate the paper. "When you are absolutely sure that Deeks will never be a threat to Jake again you can give him this. It's our new address. Deeks can write to Jake as well if he wants to."
"Are you sure?" Nate asked.
"Yeah…." Callen let out a breath, "Yeah...It'll be good for Jake...I think. You are still gonna come and work with him aren't you…" Callen grinned, "I can pay you now you know."
"Yeah you can...I broke my toaster the other day, so our original arrangement still stand yeah?"
Callen looked at him surprised, "You're not gonna start charging?"
"For Family? Callen I've been your counselor for years, I don't help you for the money, I help you guys because you are my family and I care about you." Nate said honestly.
"Thanks." Callen said swallowing a lump that appeared in his throat.
"Our family is a little broken at the moment, but I'm still hopeful that it will be fixed."
"Nate…" Callen growled in warning, "I am not going back to NCIS. Jake needs me."
"Fair enough, what about Hetty?" Nate asked, he turned as Kensi giggled in the kitchen as Deeks grabbed her and spun her round.
"I don't know Nate." Callen moved away from the laughing in the kitchen and sat on the porch steps. Caroline looked through the window and nodded at Nate and moved to stop Deeks going outside.
Nate moved to sit next to him.
"It's been a while...Have you talked to her since that day at the meeting."
Callen shook his head, "I can't...I haven't...I mean what the hell do I say to her Nate?" He asked his voice rising with the stress, "OK...you've been like a mother to me since I was a teenager, I've been in and out of your life since then but yeah you've always been there for me. But you lied to me, you betrayed me...oh and you forgot to tell me you were married to my father! But I'm gonna be OK with the fact you've lied to me, and you put my son in danger….God Nate! I need to be able to move past this crap, I need to be able to look at her without feeling like a hurt kid!"
Callen stood and started pacing.
"You are a hurt kid Callen, you are her hurt kid. How do you think she feels about that?" Nate asked.
"I'm not a kid." Callen protested.
Nate raised his hands, "OK...poor choice of words. How would you feel if Jake looked at you with as much hatred as you look at Hetty, because you haven't told him his father was the same man who hurt him."
Callen came to an abrupt halt.
"You think he'll hate me?" Callen asked his voice shook with fear.
"What are you feeling right now."
"Horror, hurt, fear, guilt...scared...scared that my actions will cost me my son." He looked at Nate in shock. "Do you think Hetty is feeling all that because of me? I mean I am not her biological son?"
"Jake isn't your biological son, but that's how you feel isn't it?" Nate pushed.
"God Nate...I've been so blind! I need to go see her."
Nate handed him a card, "She's here, she won't live in the other houses."
"But that's…?" he looked at the address in shock.
"Go see her, I'll make your excuses inside, hit the green button by the gate to leave. Here, I brought the file with me, get those checks paid in after you see her." Nate advised.
Callen nodded and all but ran for the car.
He wasn't sure if he had broken any traffic laws on the way to the address he had once lived at, but he had to get there the gnawing in his gut was growing stronger.
He pulled up outside the small blue beach house and ran to the door. His instinct was to get the key from the hiding space she had kept it in for him, but he was scared to see if it was there anymore.
So he knocked.
He listened as the locks were undone from inside and waited. The door opened and Hetty looked up in surprise.
"I...Hetty I'm sorry." he said.
"Come on in." She moved to allow him access, "I was out on the patio, would you care to join me?" she asked her voice neutral.
He nodded and headed outside, where as he expected there was a pot of tea on the outside table. He sat and looked up the beach at the rolling waves.
"What can I do for you?" Hetty asked as she sat.
"I'm sorry." he said again.
"My dear boy what for?" Hetty asked looking at the sorrow on her stepson's face.
"I didn't realize all the pain I had caused you. The reasons why you did what you did...why I have done what I've done. All for Jake's own good."
Hetty gave a small smile. "Our reasoning may at times be wrong, our actions a mistake, but always, we have the good of our children in our hearts."
"I understand if you don't want anything to do with me...I was hurt though, but...I want to try harder to get past this….please...Hetty...mom?"
Hetty's eyes sparkled with unshed tears, "I would like that too."
"I have some bridge building to do, I have made mistakes Het...mom…"
"I did too my son," Hetty replied. "But if you are willing to allow me into your life I would like to be a part of it."
"I would like that too...I...I still hurt, but I understand where you were coming from, do you understand?" Callen asked sure of what he meant but not sure how to phrase it.
Hetty smiled and nodded.
"I remember when you first came here…" she said looking over at the beach to hide her tears of joy, "You were such a distrustful and angry child. You wouldn't let me in at all. Duke would talk to you for hours, but you wouldn't trust me. Do you remember when that all changed?"
Callen nodded, "When you were hurt… I was afraid I would lose you. That I would be sent back into the system, you came home with a wound on your side. You wouldn't tell me what happened but you and Duke talked for hours and I overheard him asking if I was going to stay."
Hetty nodded, "I know…"
"And I ran in terrified you were going to send me back and begged you to stay."
"You didn't talk to Duke for six months after that."
"He didn't want me." Callen snapped.
"No…" Hetty waited as Callen calmed down. "I had been shot, the Comescu's found you with me, the one thing I was trying to avoid. Which was why I hadn't taken you in sooner. Duke wanted to send you back into the system as you had been safer in there. But I did what was best for you. I kept you with me."
"And I learned to trust you." Callen nodded.
"Sometimes being a parent can hurt. However, as long as you my son were safe and you had learned something to your advantage, such as learning to trust, all my pain was worth it."
"And you did it again, to teach me to trust Sam and the team again."
Hetty nodded, "You needed to trust Sam, to use his expertise to find Jake. My pain knowing you would distrust me as much as you did Duke that time was worth it because working with Mr. Hanna, Miss Jones and Mr. Gibbs was your best chance of getting your son back. You and Jake are more important to me."
"Thank you." Callen said.
Hetty smiled, "It will be a long road Mr. Callen, but I hope one day we can get back what we have lost."
Callen smiled, "Hetty….How do you feel about puppies?" he asked.