Sorry for the long delays between chapters! I'm writing them as I go, and inspiration sometimes takes its sweet time. This one's shorter than the others, but hopefully, it's worth the wait for you all.

Hetty stood just inside the doorway to Mosely's office, hands clasped behind her back. In her usual ninja fashion, her approach had gone unnoticed, and she had chosen to let Mosely go just far enough to seal her fate. She locked eyes with Mosely and gave her that trademark Gorgon stare.

For several moments, nobody moved. Everyone barely breathed.

Finally, a single word broke the silence. "Henrietta?" Mosely breathed in a tight whisper.

"I think 'Ms. Lange' will do." Hetty replied coldly. "And you are not doing anything more to my team."

While Callen, Sam, and Kensi turned back to Mosely with barely controlled smirks, Deeks, Nell, and Eric's unbridled joy at Hetty's rebuke was apparent in their smiles.

Shay Mosely looked like a cornered dog; she tried to display dominance and confidence, but her eyes betrayed her. They flashed with terror as she took in the gravitas of the situation before her.

"Ms. Lange, as acting Director of NCIS's West Coast Operations, I have every right-" she began, before Hetty cut her off.

"Shay, the only right you have left right now is to leave the building with your ass intact!" Hetty said.

Sensing that she was getting nowhere with dominance, Mosely tried a softer approach. "I was just trying to instill some discipline in your team! They were getting too comfortable. I-I was trying to help them…"

"I don't give a damn what you were *trying* to do. What I do care about is that your leadership decisions led to one of my analysts nearly being killed for NO REASON other than flexing your authority!"


"NO MORE! Mr. Hanna, please see to it that Ms. Mosely has her things packed and escort her from the premises within the next hour. I'll be at MY desk. Ms. Jones, please get Director Vance on the line. Everyone else, you know what you need to be doing, so get to it." Hetty instructed as she turned and left the office. Nell and Eric returned to the OPS center, and Callen, Deeks, and Kensi followed Hetty downstairs.

Sam moved to stand watch by the door, arms folded. "Tick tock." he said to Mosely with a nearly imperceptible smirk.

-Several hours later-

Hetty sat at her desk, trying to tackle the mountain of paperwork that pertained to all the cases the team had handled in her absence. She was reading up on the cases to see what she had missed. Her phone call with Leon had been riddled with the occasional outburst of indignation, but by the time she hung up, Shay Mosely was summoned back to Washington on the next available flight; with any luck, she'd never work this side of the Rockies again.

She was reading the report from the warehouse where Nell had been shot. When she finally finished it, she set it on the desk and sighed. She then took off her glasses and rubbed the bridge of her nose; it had been a tiring day, and reading such a harrowing report of a beloved analyst's near-death taxed her further. The sound of approaching footsteps reached her ears as she continued to rub her tired eyes.

"Mr. Callen." she said without looking up.

With a smirk at her powers of observation, Callen sat down in a chair opposite the desk. "How are you doing, Hetty?" He asked sincerely.

Hetty replaced her glasses and looked at him. "I'm exhausted and in need of a good drink." She rose and went to her liquor cabinet. "Care to join me?" she asked, taking out a bottle of Scotch and two glasses without waiting for his answer. They sat in silence for several minutes, contemplating the events of the afternoon.

"I'm very sorry, Mr. Callen." Hetty softly broke the silence. "I'm very sorry indeed for everything that has happened in my absence. I thought I knew Ms. Mosely better than I did, when I recommended her to fill the void while I was gone. Her record read like a model agent; spotless, dedicated, professional….ironic that she worked so hard to get on my team under my authority, that she managed to actually rise to my position. Only to lose everything…." she trailed off.

Callen nodded, absently turning his glass round and round in his hands as he listened to her. "It's okay, Hetty. Her choices weren't yours." he said, trying to absolve her of the guilt she expressed.

"No, but had I been here, she wouldn't have been." Hetty replied, draining her glass and pouring another. Callen raised an eyebrow out of concern; he'd never seen her consume more than one glass, at least not so quickly. "Don't be alarmed, Mr. Callen; I've drank our friend Mr. Kolchek under the table at least once. I'm quite certain two will do me no harm." She looked up at him with a genuine smile of affection, which he returned.

Nearly an hour later, Callen rose and stretched. Hetty took their glasses and put away the Scotch. Since he only had the one measure, he offered to drive her home; she accepted, and he went to gather his things from his desk. The other three agents had long departed, as had Eric and Nell, leaving the Mission in dim silence. Callen looked around, grateful to know that he wasn't leaving for the final time.

Callen dropped Hetty at her home and started to head for his own place, feeling more at peace than he had in several days.