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Cats and Dogs Sleeping Together

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Oneshot based on this post by wallflower:
http://wallflower18.livejournal.com/269881.html

You should check it out before reading, but you don't have to to get the gist of the story.

She made this awesome banner, too!

***

Cats and Dogs Sleeping Together

“Ow!” Kensi snatched her hand back, glaring at the red welt on her skin. “I thought you said he was friendly.”

“He is friendly,” Sam said.

“No, he isn’t,” Deeks said. “Let me tell you, I know my felines, and that is one unfriendly — holy shit!” He froze as the tiny kitten leapt fearlessly onto his arm

“What’s the matter?” Kensi smirked. “Afraid of a teeny tiny kitty cat?"

“Not afraid,” Deeks insisted. “Wary. With good reason. Cats are the perfect killing machines, far more so than your average shar — shit!” He shrank back as the kitten began climbing toward his shoulder, sinking its claws in the fabric of his shirt. “Get it off me,” he said. “Getitoffme getitoffme getitoffme—"

“Okay, okay.” Sam gently scooped up the kitten, which was so skinny it was the size of a bunched-up sock. It clung to Deeks’ shirt, hissing, and Sam had to extricate its razor-sharp claws one at a time.

“You see?” Deeks gave an exaggerated shudder. “Killing machine.”

“Don’t listen to him, baby. He’s a mean man.” Sam cuddled the kitten to his chest. Its fur was a soft and fluffy grey with reddish-golden highlights.

“I’m not mean,” Kensi pouted. “I love cats.”

“You startled him, coming at him all of a sudden like that,” Sam said. “He’s just a little guy. Aren’t you, baby?”

Deeks frowned. “It’s smirking at me.”

Sure enough, the kitten flashed a definite “Fuck all ya’ll” look at Kensi and Deeks before butting his head against Sam’s hand. Sam obediently scratched his ears, and the kitten started to purr, closing his eyes in sheer bliss.

With a “Harumph,” Kensi sat at her desk, pulled open the top drawer, and dug out a box of bandages.

“You better clean that cut with peroxide,” Deeks advised. “God only knows what the feral beast picked up.”

“He’s not feral,” Sam said defensively. “He’s just shy. I think he was abused, or abandoned. It took days for me to lure him close enough to the building to give him food and water. He’s small but he’s fierce,” he added. “I think he’s been fighting with the coyotes. He’s got scars.”

“What are you gonna call him?” Kensi asked.

Sam shrugged. “Dunno. He’ll tell me his name when he’s ready.”

Deeks shook his head sadly. “Never thought I’d see the day when the badass SEAL turned into a cat lady.”

“I like taking care of things,” Sam said.

There was an awkward silence as they all digested his statement. It had been two months since Dom’s death. Sam knew the others didn’t blame him for what had happened to his younger partner; still, he blamed himself.

Eric trotted downstairs. “Hey, you guys, Hetty wants you in Ops-ACHOO!” He blinked in surprise as the sneeze rocked his entire upper body. “Is there a cat in here?”

“No,” Sam said, turning his back to shield the kitten from sight.

“Sam picked up another stray,” Kensi told Eric.

“Hetty better not catch you with that thing in here,” Eric warned.

“She won’t,” Sam said. “This little guy knows how to hide in plain sight. Don’t you, buddy?” He opened his lower desk drawer, which he had converted into a cat condo, complete with a mug of water and a soft grey t-shirt folded up for a makeshift bed. The kitten turned around three times, settled down on the bed, and gave an enormous yawn, then batted its big blue eyes up at Sam in obvious adoration.

Sam gave him one last scratch on the head, then carefully half-closed the drawer so there was enough room for the kitten to jump out if he wanted. “Stay here,” he ordered.

“It’s a cat, not a dog,” Deeks pointed out as they headed upstairs. “Cats don’t obey commands.”

“No, but if I prove to him I can be trusted, he’ll stick around.”

To Sam’s surprise, Nate was sitting in ops with Hetty, their heads close together over the table as they spoke in low voices.

When the others entered, Hetty slid a fat paper file across to the table to Nate. Nate picked it up, rose, and left the room. He gave the rest of the team a friendly nod as he left, his eyes lingering on Sam’s.

“What’s going on?” Sam asked Hetty.

“Jewel thief,” Hetty said, deliberately misunderstanding his question. “Possible Naval connection. Miss Jones?” She turned to Nell, who began briefing the others on the case.

As he had for weeks, Sam found it hard to focus on work. He half-listened, nodding in the appropriate places, but when Hetty dismissed the others, he wasn’t surprised when she asked him to stay.

“Mister Hanna.” Hetty crossed her tiny hands at her waist. “I don’t need to tell you what this is about.”

For a panicked moment, Sam thought he was going to get busted on the cat. Then he sighed. “You found me a new partner.”

“It’s time, Mister Hanna,” Hetty said gently.

“I know,” Sam admitted. As a lifelong team player, he felt naked and vulnerable without a partner to watch his back. But after Dom, he didn’t trust himself to do his job right, let alone keep his eye on a junior partner.

“Not junior partner,” Hetty said.

Sam blinked. He didn’t realize he’d spoken his fears aloud.

“You’re quite right,” Hetty continued. “It was a mistake making Dominic your partner. A mistake on my part,” she added quickly. “Not yours.”

Sam frowned. “Dom was a good agent.”

“He was.” Hetty inclined her head in acknowledgement. “But I put him in the field too soon. He wasn’t ready. And it put you in the awkward position of not having an equal partner you could depend on.”

“I didn’t mind,” Sam said quickly. “I like...” He hesitated, not wanting to expose himself too much.

Hetty smiled warmly. “You like having someone to take care of. That’s not a fault, Mister Hanna. It’s not a weakness. But you also need a partner who’s experienced and savvy enough to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you. Maybe even...challenge you a little.” Her eyes twinkled at the thought.

Sam sighed heavily, “Do you have someone in mind?”

“As a matter of fact, I do. Dr. Getz is reviewing his file right now.”

Sam folded his arms in resignation. He knew when he was beat. “Does this agent have a name?” he asked.

Hetty beamed. “Callen,” she said.

“Does he have a first name?” Sam growled.

Hetty’s smile grew even more mischievous. “I’ll leave you to discover that for yourself, Mister Hanna.”

***

Once the jewel thief had been bagged, Sam returned to Ops, where was alarmed to find the kitten was gone. He searched high and low, with no luck. Over the next few days, he left food and water both outside the building and under his desk, to no avail. The kitten had vanished into thin air.

Sam was heartsick. He told himself it was just a cat. Just another stray. But he missed it with an actual ache in his chest.

On the third morning, he was brooding at his desk when he became aware that someone was watching him.

He looked up to see a man, wiry but strong, with close-cropped hair and startling blue eyes. He wore scarred boots, jeans, and a worn grey t-shirt, and had a duffel bag slung over his shoulder. The man’s eyes were wary; hostile, even.

“You Hanna?” he asked.

“I am.”

The man gave a jerk of his chin in greeting. “G Callen.”

Sam rose and extended his hand. Callen looked at it suspiciously, but shook. His handshake was firm, even aggressive.

“So,” Sam said. “You’re my new partner.”

Callen frowned. “Partner? Nobody said anything about partners.”

Sam raised his eyebrows. “They didn’t?”

Callen shook his head. “I’m here on loan from the DEA,” he said. “They said I’d help out for six months. It’s nothing personal,” he added. “I just don’t do partnerships.” He hitched his duffel higher on his shoulder and glanced around the room.

Sam caught it – the tiniest hint of uncertainty in Callen’s eyes, under the bravado.

He took a deep breath.

“Typical bureaucrats,” he said easily. “We’ll sort it out. In the meantime, you hungry?”

Callen looked at him suspiciously again. “I could eat,” he said finally.

“Me too. Come on, let’s get some lunch. I’ll buy you a beer.”

Callen hesitated, and Sam nodded to his chair. “Stow your stuff. It’ll be safe here,” he added. “No one messes with my desk.”

“Okay.” Callen reluctantly lowered his duffel under Sam’s desk, then followed in his wake.

“DEA, huh?” Sam asked as they walked down the corridor.

“Yeah,” Callen said. He leaned closer, his manner conspiratorial. “If I didn’t know better, I’d swear they were trying to get rid of me.”

He flashed Sam a smile, a twisted, sideways smile that only reached half his mouth. In his eyes, Sam saw both weary cynicism and wry humor, and underneath it all, a hint of bewilderment — even abandonment.

Sam’s breath caught in his throat. Fortunately, Kensi and Deeks entered the building and walked toward them, distracting him. Their eyes lit up with curiosity upon seeing Callen, but Sam sent them a warning glare. Kensi grabbed Deeks’ arm and firmly steered him away, even as he opened his mouth to comment.

Callen raised an eyebrow. “Friends of yours?”

“The rest of the team,” Sam said smoothly. “You’ll meet them later. You meet Hetty yet?”

“Lang?” Callen shook his head. “No.”

“You will,” Sam promised. He found he was looking forward to that meeting.

“Sam!”

They both turned to see Eric jogging toward them. Even out of the corner of his eye, Sam could see the automatic jerk of Callen’s hand toward his lower back. He stilled the movement almost instantly — only the trained eye would have noticed.

“Easy.” Sam stepped in front of Callen and held out his hand. “Slow down.”

Eric skidded to a halt. “Sorry.” His eyes went to Callen and widened in alarm at the expression in the other man’s eyes. “Sorry,” he said again.

“G Callen,” Sam said. “Meet Eric Beale. NCIS LA Alpha Geek. Tech guy.”

He felt, rather than saw, Callen relax. Callen gave Eric his chin-jerk greeting, but didn’t extend his hand.

“Callen,” he said. “New guy.”

“Hi,” Eric said breathlessly. “I mean, uh, nice to meet you.” He looked at Sam. “Hetty says she still needs your report on the pharmaceuticals ring at the Naval base. I sent the information to your computer.”

“Thanks, Eric. I’ll get right on that.” Sam gave him a stern look, which Eric immediately understood.

“Okay, thanks, that’s great,” he backed away. “Text me if you have any ques—ACHOOO!” His body convulsed with the sneeze.

“Is there a cat in here?” he asked plaintively, eyes watering.

“No,” Sam said, then turned and started walking again.

“Nervous guy,” Callen commented as he followed.

“Harmless,” Sam said firmly. “And the best at his job. He makes the rest of us look good.”

He guided Callen through the outer door into the courtyard, careful not to touch him. “Mind if I drive?”

“Sure.” Callen shrugged. “I don’t have a car.”

“You’ll need one in LA. You got a place to stay yet?”

“Nah.” Callen’s mouth twisted. “I’ll find somewhere to crash.”

“Let me know. I know where the safe neighborhoods are. Although,” Sam added as Callen started to frown. “Doesn’t sound like you’ll be staying all that long.”

Callen shook his head. “Not planning on it.”

Sam shrugged, keeping his voice casual. “If nothing else, I’ve got a couch you can crash on.”

“Oh, yeah?” Callen actually appeared interested. His eyes narrowed as Sam opened the car door for him. “Nice ride,” he commented.

“I like it.” Sam climbed in the passenger seat and started the car. As he pulled out, he tried not to notice how perfectly Callen seemed to fit, riding shotgun in his car. “You like fish?” he asked.

“Love fish,” Callen replied. He leaned back in the seat, basking in the sun as he watched the LA landscape roll by. After a few miles, he closed his eyes in contentment and fell asleep.

That night, he crashed on Sam’s couch.

Three months later, he crawled into Sam’s bed.

Three years later, he still hadn’t left. He took up almost no space in the house, but filled up all the room in Sam’s heart. Like he had always been there. Like he owned the place.

Now, Sam gazed down at G while he slept. It was morning, with warm sun shining down on the bed, and a weekend, which meant they got to sleep in for once.

G was curled up against Sam, cuddled close. When Sam shifted to a more comfortable position on his back, G grunted in annoyance, but didn’t wake. He flexed his fingers like claws, then pressed his hand possessively over Sam’s heart.

“Shhh,” Sam soothed. “Go back to sleep, baby.” He stroked his hand over G’s head, marveling as always how soft his hair was despite the severity of the cut.

G arched his back in pleasure and snuggled closer.

And even in his sleep, he purred.

The End