“COM-Third-Fleet this is Talon Five-Five. Sub track Whiskey One Tango Zero engaged and destroyed.”
The transmission cut off. A deadly silence covered the whole of the Ops Center as Eric, Nell, Hetty, and Owen stared at the big screen in disbelief.
“Oh my god....” Nell choked out as she turned away from the screen, unable to bare the sight. Owen ran a hand down his face as he too turned away. Hetty simply held her eyes closed, her face contorted in a pained expression.
And Eric... Eric stared at the screen, mentally screaming for it to be all a dream. Trying to deny it, willing the blip onscreen to do something... anything. For another transmission. But nothing. His eyes welled up with tears.
“No...” He choked out, shaking his head. “N-no...” he all but whimpered. “T-t-they... He... can't be... no...” he choked out, his voice breaking. “Not like this.”
“Mr Beale?” Hetty said softly as she turned to the blond technician to see tears running down the man's face, his whole body shaking. The tablet he was holding slipped his grasp as he shakily took a few steps away from the screen, shaking his head, muttering incoherently under his breath.
His hands rose to his face to cover his mouth, his face scrunching up as he tried to hold back sobs. “No...” is what he kept repeating to himself. His shaky legs gave up on holding his body's weight and he sank down to the floor.
“Eric?” Hetty asked, concern clear in her voice. The blond seemed to be close to a full out panic attack. Nell recovered enough to stand next to her partner and crouch down next to him. She put her own shaky hand on his shoulder, her own eyes swimming with tears as well. Eric looked over at her pleadingly, silently asking her to tell him that it isn't true, that this isn't happening.
Nell's heart broke, as did Hetty's and probably even the stone cold heart of Granger himself, as they saw the blond man's face fall apart. Eric struggled with the urge to scream, cry or throw up. Or a mixture of all three.
None were paying attention when Kensi's sudden rush of words were heard over the comm.
Nell cleared her throat, trying to get herself together, “Come again Kensi?” She gave a small squeeze to Eric's shoulder as she diverted her attention back to the screen.
“Callen and Sam are alive!”
Kensi's voice rang loudly over the speakers, making everybody look up in elation and hope.
“I repeat: Callen and Sam are alive!”
Her voice rang again followed by Deeks.
“They're in the water!”
There was a simultaneous heavy sigh out of all of them. The biggest one probably from Eric himself as he stared up at the screen in pure relief, his heart was pounding. G's alive... They're both alive! Repeated inside his head, over and over. He vigorously wiped the tears from his face and sniffed, trying to clear all evidence of his earlier breakdown.
Hetty gave him and Nell an once over, as Owen took his leave. The two stared back at their Operations Manager silently. “Well?” She began, “What're you waiting for? Go, go.” she ushered them. They definitely didn't need to be told twice as they made a hasty retreat.
The two arrived at the boat shed before the others, Nell set up her first aid unit as Eric paced the floorboards. They looked up at the opening of the door and in came Kensi and Deeks, followed by Sam and Callen, who were now dressed in dry clothes.
Nell immediately tackled Sam into a hug, exclaiming how glad she was that they were alive. Eric, not thinking about it, shot towards Callen immediately and crushed him into a tight hug as well.
“I thought I lost you...” Eric quietly mumbled as he tried to will back the tears once more. You're acting like a girl, Beale. He mentally scolded himself. But figured he was allowed since he nearly lost the love of his life.
Callen was shocked, and a bit taken aback by the hug, but wrapped his arms around the blond nonetheless, softly rubbing the man's back. “Still here.” he assured him. He felt Eric bury his face in his shoulder blade and he tightened his hold on the man a bit to reassure him he was alright.
“What about me?” Sam exclaimed jokingly, but didn't say anything else when Nell shook her head at him to say; 'Not now'. Sam raised his eyebrows at her and she gave him a pointed look. He looked over to Kensi and Deeks, who seemed as clueless as well.
It's when he looked back at the pair that he noticed. Eric's shoulders were shaking now. And it was clear all of Callen's attention was on the blond at the moment. He was broken away from the sight by Nell tugging him over to a chair, where he received the order to sit down to be examined by the tech girl. Kensi and Deeks taking seats at the table as well, giving the two men the illusion of privacy.
“It's okay, I'm here.” Callen reassured Eric softly. Holding him tight and rubbing his back soothingly. He continued to reassure the blond as he let the other get himself together again.
“Sorry.” Eric said, pulling back and wiping away the remnants of tears. “I just....”
“I get it.” Callen told him, “It's okay.” He took Eric's hand and lead him over to the table where the others were and they sat down too as Nell fussed over Sam. Meanwhile Deeks stepped outside, and on his way he let in DEA Agent Talia Del Campo.
“Hey guys.” She greeted, “Alive and well I see?”
“Can't get rid of us that easy.” Sam grinned, Nell telling him to hold still as she shone a light into his eyes. She stood back with Kensi as Nell moved over to check over Callen. She looked over at Kensi with a raised eyebrow as she motioned to the two men's intertwined hands.
Agent Blye shrugged, “Seems like it's been going on a while now.” She murmured towards the DEA agent quietly, “news to us too.”
“They're cute together.” Talia replied with approval.
“Aren't they?” Kensi grinned, happy that the two had each other. The two continued to quietly murmur about the new-not-so-new-from-the-looks-of-it couple.
“Looks like you might have ruptured an eardrum.” Nell commented as she took a look in G's ear.
“What?” Callen called loudly. Which earned him a disapproving look from Nell and a light punch from the blond next to him. “What?” he chuckled.
Nell simply continued as she grabbed the flashlight and repeated what she did with Sam a minute ago, “You're both lucky you weren't killed by the concussion.” she said.
“Damn Lucky.” Eric agreed seriously. Callen gently squeezed his hand in reassurance, as if to say, 'I'm still here'.
“I just came by, you guys, to make sure you're okay. Glad you're doing well.” Talia told the two.
“Oh, yeah, we do this sort of thing all the time.” Sam replied casually with a shrug, “No big deal.” which earned a laugh from Talia.
“God, don't tell me that.” Callen muttered with a chuckle.
“Oooooooh~ never fear, Dr. Deeks is here.” came a loud exclamation as Deeks entered the boat shed once more, carrying a few plastic bags in his hands. “Nerd Herd, you want to grab some, uh, Pint glasses over there?” he directed to Nell and Eric as he set the bags down on the table.
“Alright.” Nell commented as she did what was asked, Eric reluctantly following suit.
“So uh, How are my little Mermaids?” Deeks asked, giving a pointed look to Callen with raised eyebrows. Probably silently asking the question on most of their minds. What's with you and blondie?
“Still swimming.” Callen grinned.
“More than swimming, apparantly.” Sam commented as he too was giving G a look similar to Deeks'. Callen simply smiled at both of them, ignoring the imploring looks given to him.
“Okay, on that note, I should get going.” Talia said, clasping her hands together as she looked around the room, “But uhm, guys, thank you, for everything.” she continued, “It, uh, it was a pleasure working with you.” She then turned to Kensi, “You, so good to meet you.”
“Yeah, hey,” Kensi replied, “I'll give you a call, we'll get together, we'll uh, talk about...”
“Oh yeah.” Talia replied as the men just watched them, trying to decipher their... 'woman language' as Deeks would probably call it.
“That's- oh!” Kensi exclaimed as she leaned in towards Talia's ear to whisper something, definitely catching Deeks' attention.
Sam, Nell, Eric and Callen desided to ignore the two and set up the table, Eric returning to his spot next to Callen, his hand immediately finding his.
“You okay now?” G asked Eric, who nodded in return.
“C'mon you guys, how long's this been going on?” Nell asked them demandingly.
“What's been going on?” Callen asked her innocently in return.
“You know we all know now, right?” Sam joined Nell in her questioning the two. G just stared back at the two innocently.
“It's okay, Callen....” Eric told him, “The cat is out of the bag.” he muttered, making G look over to him, “Aside from the obvious,” He squeezed his hand, “I... I kind of... broke down in Ops...”
Callen looked surprised at that, and felt guilty for having been the cause of it, in a way, “I'm sorry.” He said, squeezing the blond's hand and rubbing his thumb over his knuckles.
“If it wasn't for Kensi spotting you guys...” Nell started, “I think he would've had a full blown panic attack.” Nell commented, at which G immediately gave a worried look to the blond, who hung his head in embarrassment.
“Nothin' to be embarrassed about.” Sam told him, “It's okay. Shoulda seen me down there.” he chuckled, trying to lighten the mood. Callen slung an arm around Eric's shoulder, telling him it was okay and placing a kiss on his cheek.
“Awww.” Nell coed as Eric's face heated up. “Wow, Beale, you're turnign into a tomato.” she chuckled. They were interrupted by Talia letting out a loud laugh, making them look up as Deeks tried find out what that was about.
“Don't worry about it.” Kensi replied.
“Deeks, what are you doing?” Sam asked.
“We got Cervezas, and we have, uh, dark rum.” he said as he held up a bottle.
“No.” Callen said.
“Yes.” Kensi and Deeks replied in turn.
“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, we have... Depth Charges.” Deeks said as Kensi chuckled.
“You're ridiculous.” Sam commented. “Give me one.” he demanded next.
They all stood as they each got a pint and shot glass, and stood around the table.
“To... uh..” Deeks started, Kenzi cutting in as she took her gaze off of Eric and Callen, “Partners.” she finished for him.
“Friends.” Nell added as she looked towards the couple too, trying to convey that they were there for them, and they were happy they had each other.
Eric nodded with a smile, “Friends.” he agreed.
“Friends and Partners.” Sam concluded. Callen repeating him.
“Three, Two, One.” Deeks counted down as they dropped the shot glasses into their pints.
When they all had finished their drinks they settled back down on the chairs, Callen pulling Eric closer, said blond resting his head on G's shoulder. “I'm so glad you're still alive.” he told the man. “I love you.” he mumbled, at which he then tensed, the words having left his mouth before he knew it. They had been dating for a while now, but have never used those three words yet. Eric knew he loved Callen more than anyone in the world, but had been too afraid to admit it. And just like that they had slipped out.
“I love you, too.” Callen replied, squeezing his shoulder a bit, placing a gentle kiss on his temple.
“Get a room!” Deeks called with a giant grin.
“Why, are you offering yours?” Sam commented.
“God no!” Deeks exclaimed, “Nuh-uh! Never! No! I'd have to burn down my house."
“You mean the garbage dump you call your home?” Kensi said, giving her partner a light push.
“Hey, It's an organized garbage dump, thank you very much.” Deeks replied.
Callen and Eric simply smiled at each other as they ignored their friends.