"Sam said no one cried when I was shot."
Kensi Blye glanced up from her laptop, finding her team leader, G Callen stretched out on the couch in the bullpen, twirling a pen in his hand. It was late—nearly midnight—but he hadn't made any move to go home. Instead, he'd planted himself on the couch with a pen and legal pad, presumably composing his thoughts before writing his report on the day's events.
"What?" Kensi asked. She wasn't sure she'd heard him, and couldn't figure out why that might be important just now.
"In the hospital parking lot," Callen said, still staring off into nothing. "After we'd taken out the shooters. We were talking about Deeks, and Sam mentioned that no one had cried for me when I was shot." He paused, turning his gaze to her as he amended his statement. "He said Eric might have shed a tear."
Kensi leaned back in her chair, swiveling it to face Callen. She gave him a speculative look, trying to figure out whether he was serious or not.
"Do you honestly believe that no one cared that you'd been shot?"
"Oh, I think you all cared," he said. "I just never gave any thought to the idea that one of you might have cried. Or all of you. But no one?"
"Sam was just joking," she said, trying to deflect him.
"Sam's just not the crying type," he said as if he hadn't heard her, ticking off team members on his fingers. "Neither is Macy; she probably ran back to the office to start tracking the shooters. Dom was probably too shocked for much of anything. And Eric was probably too busy chasing Macy's leads. Hetty hadn't arrived yet. That leaves you, and you don't cry. Especially in front of other people."
Kensi sighed as the memories washed over her, glancing down at her lap so she wouldn't have to look into those beautiful blue eyes. Those eyes that she'd feared she'd never see again. He heart clenched painfully in her chest at the memory of those hours and days, and she had to take a deep, steadying breath, trying to regain some of her composure.
She looked up, meeting his eyes, seeing the questions in them, the need to know thrumming just below the surface. He'd always been that way: needing to know, to understand, the parts of his life he didn't remember.
"Oh, Callen," she whispered. "You have no idea."
Kensi charged through the door, practically running towards Sam where he stood in the modest waiting room. He turned when he heard her footsteps, causing her to skid to an inelegant stop just inside the door. She gasped, covering her mouth as she took him in: shoulders slumped, brow knotted in worry. And the blood. Oh, there was so much blood!
"Sam?" she asked, nearly choking on just his name. She couldn’t force any more words past the lump in her throat, but she didn't have to.
Sam crossed the short distance between them and pulled her into a fierce hug. "He's still alive, Kensi," he whispered as he held her close.
When he pulled back, her eyes went his shirt. "So much blood." She looked back up into his eyes. "How many—how many shots?"
Sam glanced away, then returned his eyes to her. "A dozen, maybe less." Kensi gasped. "It was a full auto. He didn't have a chance to…"
Kensi nodded. What else was there to say? He'd been shot. Ambushed. And whoever had done it had wanted to make sure he didn't survive.
And he still might not. She knew that far too well.
"Have they said anything?" she asked.
Sam opened his mouth to reply, when the doors burst open. Both of them turned to see Dominic Vail and OSP Ops Manager Lara Macy rushing into the room.
"How is he?" Macy asked.
"He's in surgery," Sam said, glancing at Kensi, then focusing on Macy. "It was an ambush. He had no chance to get out of the way. They were gunning for him. Whoever it was wanted him dead."
"Do we know who did it?" Dom asked.
Right then he looked about as lost as Kensi felt, and her heart went out to him. Ever since he'd joined the team, he'd looked up to Callen, seeing him as a role model, someone he could aspire to be. His face reflected the pain they were all in, but for Dom it was worse. This was the first time he was going through this. The rest of them had been down this road before.
Sam shook his head. "I didn't get a good look at the shooter. It all happened too fast."
"Have the doctors said anything?" Macy asked.
"Not since they took him into surgery," Sam said. "He crashed once in the ambulance on the way in, and he was barely hanging on when we got here."
Kensi watched as the stoic Sam Hanna cracked ever so slightly. Then his face hardened and he pulled himself up to his full height. She reached out and squeezed his arm, and Sam turned, softening just a little as he nodded at her. They were all feeling it: the fear, the concern, the very real loss that had started to creep in at the thought that their team leader might not survive.
"I don't think I've ever seen Sam look so scared," Kensi said, leaning forward and bracing her arms on her knees.
"No, Callen," she said, sitting up and raising a hand to stall his protest. The look on his face was almost her undoing, but she pushed aside his concern. "It's okay. We've never really talked about this. You should know."
At Callen's nod, she leaned back and took a deep breath, steeling herself for the rest of the tale. She hadn't planned to tell him this, any of this. But the truth was, she needed to say something. After Deeks—well, she couldn't hold this inside anymore.
"The surgery took forever," she went on, voice a little more steady. "They finally got the bleeding under control, but you'd lost a lot of blood. No one could tell us if you'd make it. All they would say was the first twenty-four hours were critical. If you survived that, chances were good you'd make it. If anything went wrong…"
The steady beep of the monitors was comforting, but none of them were under any illusions that Callen was out of the woods. They hadn't left his side since he'd been wheeled out of surgery a few hours before. Once the anesthetic wore off, they wanted to be there for him when he woke up. Kensi and Sam had stayed by his side in ICU while Macy and Dom worked with Eric to get footage of the shooting and try to identify the shooter.
Sam had parked himself by the window, while Kensi sat in a chair by the bed, watching Callen's chest rise and fall with the ventilator. Her head popped up when Sam's phone rang.
He glanced at the screen, looking up to meet Kensi's eyes as he answered the call. "Eric. Tell me you have something."
Kensi watched as Sam's face changed. She knew that look. Glancing over her shoulder, she could feel as well as see the glare the nurse was leveling in their direction. Sam's glance flicked to the nurse, then back to her. She nodded once, and he headed out of the ICU.
She turned her attention back to Callen. "That was Eric," she said, though she knew he couldn't hear her. "Sounds like he has something on your—"
She took a deep breath. She couldn't say it, could barely think it. Tears began to gather in her eyes, spilling over her lashes without her permission. Reaching out, she grasped his hand in both of hers, holding on tight.
"Come on, Callen, you've gotta come back to me," she whispered. She reached out and brushed the backs of her fingers on his cheek. "I can't do this without you. I don't want to do this without you."
She squeezed his hand, pressing her lips into a thin line. There was more to it than that, but she wasn't sure she could say it out loud. She wasn't sure she should say it out loud. It would change everything, even if he couldn't hear her. Still, she felt like she needed to say it. Because if he didn't make it—
Kensi took a deep breath and leaned in close. "I love you, G. And I need you here with me, even if you never know it."
She pushed up off the chair and leaned over him, pressing a kiss to his forehead. Suddenly, the monitors started to beep faster, and then the alarms started going off. Kensi jumped back like she'd been burned, just as the nurse rushed into the room.
"Code Blue!" she shouted over her shoulder as the monitors continued to shriek. "Get the crash cart!"
Kensi backed up further as more people hurried past her, until she finally impacted against something hard and unmoving. Looking over her shoulder, she realized that she'd backed into Sam, who'd come back from talking to Eric to find Callen in crisis. He slipped an arm around her shoulders, pulling her in close. She melted into his embrace, fear etched into every line of her face.
She wiped her tears away as she watched the doctors and nurses work, hoping that she hadn't just bared her soul to a dying man.
Callen rose and crossed the room to kneel in front of Kensi's chair, taking both her hands in his own. He'd seen the tears start, but her words had frozen him to the spot. Now, though, he had to move. He had to go to her. Whatever else they were—and everything else remained to be determined—they were friends first, and his friend was upset.
But her tears hadn't subsided like they usually did. Kensi rarely let the rest of her team see her upset. She liked to think she was strong, and she was the strongest woman he knew. But sometimes even strong people needed someone to lean on. He knew that from personal experience.
Pushing up, he tugged on her hands until she stood before him. Then, he folded her into his arms, just holding her while she tried to get herself under control.
He kissed her head, rubbing his hands over her back. "You know, when I woke up I knew something was wrong, but I couldn't figure out what."
Everything was fuzzy. When he opened his eyes, the room swam before him, everything just enough out of focus that he couldn't quite figure out where he was. Even his mouth felt fuzzy, like someone had shoved a wad of cotton in there.
"Easy, Agent Callen," he heard. "Don't try to talk yet."
He focused on that voice, his vision finally clearing enough to recognize a dark-haired man in scrubs and a lab coat. The hospital, being shot. It all came back to him in a rush, and he squeezed his eyes shut for a moment. When he opened them, he looked at the doctor, and tried to speak. His mouth moved, forming words without sound. Still, the doctor understood what he was asking.
"You've been out about three days," the doctor said. "Your friends have been worried about you."
Callen turned his head on the pillow, spotting Sam and Kensi near the door. Sam had a ridiculously huge grin on his face, and it was obvious he was relieved to see his friend awake. Kensi, on the other hand, was chewing on her thumbnail, a frown creasing her brow, giving the appearance that she was hiding behind Sam.
He frowned, but the doctor started talking again, so he had to turn back. He only had so much brainpower at the moment, and splitting it between his friends and his doctor just wasn't an option.
"You were shot five times, Agent Callen," the doctor was saying. "We got all the bullets out, and repaired the damage, but you lost a lot of blood. I'm afraid it's going to be a week at least before we can even discuss you going home." The doctor looked over at Sam and Kensi. "I'm sure you'll want a few minutes with your teammate, but please don't stay too long. Despite the fact that he's been unconscious for the last three days, he needs his rest."
"We won't stay long," Sam assured him.
Callen watched the doctor leave the room as his friends moved to stand beside the bed. Sam reached out and laid a hand gently on his shoulder.
"You had us worried."
"Wasn't intentional," Callen croaked out.
Sam chuckled. "Yeah, well, let's not go through this again, okay?"
Callen nodded rather than try to say anything. Sam glanced over at Kensi, smiling as he squeezed Callen's shoulder lightly. Then he moved from the room, dropping a reassuring hand on her arm as he went.
Kensi still hadn't moved closer to the bed than she had after the doctor left. Callen looked up at her, frowning as he took in the worried expression on her face. He lifted his hand barely an inch off the bed before it dropped back down.
"'M okay, Kens," he said.
She took a tentative step towards the bed, and then another, until she was finally standing beside him.
"'S wrong?" he asked.
Kensi shook her head. "I'm just glad you're okay."
"Not all," he said, lifting his hand once more. "What?"
A panicked look crossed her face before she schooled it back into a more friendly smile. "You get some rest, Callen. I'll be back to check on you."
She reached out and laid her fingers on his arm, a brief and too-light touch that he barely registered, and then she practically ran out of the room.
Kensi pushed back from him, taking a few steps back to put some space between them. Callen watched as she started chewing on her thumbnail, just like she'd done in the hospital room after he woke up. The penny finally dropped for him as he watched the worried frown reform on her face.
She'd said she loved him, but he'd thought she meant in a brotherly sort of way. Now, though, watching as her nervousness spiked, he realized she'd meant something so much more. Not wanting to spook her, he adjusted his tactics.
He leaned back against his desk, crossing his arms as he studied Kensi. "You know, even though I was unconscious, I could tell I wasn't alone. Don't ask me how, but it just felt like there was someone there. Did you ever go home?"
"Hetty made me go home at least once a day for a shower and fresh clothes," she said, shrugging. "Otherwise, not so much."
She took a tentative step forward, then leaned against her desk, closer to him than she'd been before, but still out of his reach. He uncrossed his arms, bracing his hands on the desktop beside him as she did the same.
He had a feeling that the next few minutes were going to be the most important of his life, so he wanted to do this right, knowing he might never get another chance. "You visited me almost every day after that first time I woke up. Hetty didn't mind?"
Macy had left them almost immediately after he'd been shot. He knew she blamed herself for what happened to him, but she was gone before he'd been able to talk to her. Hetty Lange had been sent immediately, and while she didn't know the team, she'd taken care of them while he'd been laid up.
Kensi shook her head. "If I didn't get to see you I'd—"
"I'd be…distracted," she confessed in a quiet voice. "Hetty hadn't been around that long, but I guess she knew we'd all been close, so she made sure we all had the time to visit you."
"Yeah," he said, remembering with fondness all the food and other contraband they'd all smuggled into his hospital room after he'd woken up. Even Eric had rigged up a video game console in the room, much to his doctor's dismay. "I think I'd have gone insane if you guys hadn't been there for me."
Kensi barked a laugh. "You were driving the nurses crazy, anyway. They'd practically beg us to stay longer, just so they didn't have to deal with you."
"Ouch," Callen said. "You wound me." Kensi chuckled. Callen's gaze turned speculative as he judged whether or not she'd answer his next question. "Were you ever going to tell me?"
"Tell you what?" she asked, but he could see panic once more in her eyes.
"Were you ever going to tell me you love me? When I was conscious?"
The walls went up so fast Callen could actually see when she shut off. She turned away from him, shrugging one shoulder. "Nothing to tell. We all love you, Callen. None of us wanted to lose you."
Callen got up and stood in front of her, bending his knees to try to get to eye level with her. When she wouldn't quite meet his eyes, he reached out and lightly grasped her shoulders, giving her a gentle shake that caused her to look up. He knew she was deflecting. He'd done it enough times himself to know the signs. He just had to convince her there was no need.
"I may not remember that you said it," he said, his thumbs rubbing against her collar bone as he looked deep into her eyes, "but I can hear the meaning behind the words just fine."
"I don't—I'm not—" she said, pulling her eyes away from his as if by force. She didn't move, and he took that as a good sign.
"You know," he said quietly, stepping just that much closer, until he was standing with his legs straddling hers. He ran his hand up into her hair, cradling her head and tipping it back so he could look her in the eyes. "You know that you're important to me. I care about Sam and Dom and Eric. Even Nell and Hetty. But you're a part of me. All I could think of when I got shot was that I might never see you again."
Her tears started up again, and he reached with his other hand to wipe them gently away. "I know there's risk in this. I know that. But I'm done taking the safe path. No matter what happens from now on, I don't want to face it unless you're right there beside me." His eyes bored into hers as he said his next words. "I love you, Kensi. I love you, and I don't want to pretend I don’t. Not anymore."
He watched as his words penetrated through the panic and the fear; watched as she processed exactly what he meant. But still, she stayed silent.
"Say it again, Kensi," he whispered. "Say it again. Say it like you mean it."
"I love you, G," she whispered. "And I need you here with me—"
But she never got the rest of it out as her lips were covered by his. He kissed her with a fierceness that surprised her. He pulled her up, pressing her body against his as his tongue swept into her mouth, igniting a fire and consuming her with it. They clung together for long minutes, as sensation washed over her in wave after passionate wave.
When he finally pulled back, he looked down into her face, his eyes taking in every feature, every line and curve. She felt worshipped, loved, in a way she'd never felt before. He brushed his fingers along her jaw, cradling her cheek in his hand.
"No more running?" he asked.
Kensi took a deep breath. He was right, there was risk. This thing could blow up in their faces. She hadn't set out to tell him the whole story, but somehow the whole thing had just tumbled out of her as if she'd had no other choice. But really, had she had another choice? Keeping it inside clearly hadn't been working. And Callen had known something was wrong even back then, even with a drug-addled brain.
"No more running," she promised. "I'm in this for the long haul. You?"
She nibbled on her bottom lip as she waited for him to answer. So much was riding on what he'd say next, and while he'd said he loved her, that didn't mean he wanted more.
"Oh, you're not getting rid of me," he said, a twinkle in his eyes. "Now that I've finally got you, I'm not letting you go."
Kensi's smile stretched nearly off her face. She couldn't help herself. She'd thought a lot about this over the last two years, about what it would be like to know that he felt about her the way she felt about him. It was better than she'd ever imagined.
"C'mon," he said, his own grin as big as hers. "Let's get something to eat. Then we'll see what else we can get up to."
He winked at her, and she couldn't help the giggle that bubbled out of her. She grabbed her purse and jacket while he pulled his stuff together. She turned back to find him standing there with his jacket on and his bag slung over his shoulder, holding out a hand to her. She took it, and he tugged her along with him towards the door.
"Have a good evening, you two," a familiar voice floated out to them.
They froze like a couple of teenagers getting caught sneaking out after curfew, turning as one to see Hetty sitting behind her desk, her ever-present cup of tea poised in her hands.
"Hetty," Kensi nearly squeaked.
"I thought you'd already gone," Callen said suspiciously.
"I was just clearing up some last details," Hetty said, smiling enigmatically. She set her cup down as she reached for a file on her desk. "It's been quite a day for all of us. Why don't you two take the day tomorrow. I've already told Mr. Hanna, though I suspect he'll be spending it at the hospital, instructing Mr. Deeks on the finer points of tradecraft."
Callen snorted. "I bet Deeks is gonna love that."
"If it keeps him alive, I don’t care," Kensi said emphatically.
"Well put, Ms. Blye," Hetty said. "Now, go on. You've earned it."
Callen glanced at Kensi, who wore the same confused expression. "If you say so," he said.
Hetty merely smiled. Callen looked back at Kensi, who shrugged at him. She was just as puzzled as he was, but she wasn't going to argue with a day off.
"Good night, Hetty," Callen called, tugging Kensi away with him.
Hetty picked up her tea cup, sipping at the cooling liquid. They hadn't known she was still there, and she hadn't wanted to interrupt their moment, so she'd just stayed quiet. This had been a long time coming, and she was glad to see they'd finally gotten there on their own.
She'd have to speak to Eric in the morning to collect her winnings. That thought alone brought a smile to her face at the outrage that would spark among her agents. Though they had nothing to complain about. She simply knew Callen and Kensi far better than any of them realized. She'd known that one partner or the other being shot would be the catalyst, but she'd gambled that Deeks would be the first to get shot. It was just luck that she'd been right. Well, unlucky for Deeks, but perhaps lucky for her. And definitely lucky for Callen and Kensi.
She smiled again, leaning back in her chair. Things were about to get a good deal more interesting at the Office for Special Projects.