A/N: I finally decided to get this one out there. I wrote it a long time ago and it was one of the ones that got lost and I'm being brave and taking it back. Coming back to it after so many years caused a few things to change. I know Dom's been gone a long time but maybe someone will enjoy hearing about him again.
Am posting it completely here as a one shot rather than a few chapters.
Disclaimer - all things NCIS LA are not mine. Plot and the OC's I'll willingly claim. Thanks to those who do own NCIS LA for letting us play in their world.
"So tell me again why we are following Dom?" Sam asked. They were parked a few blocks away from where they'd followed Dom to a half hour ago. He'd been picked up outside his apartment but they hadn't been able to get a glimpse of the driver. Sam knew Callen was getting antsy to go in but had managed to restrain himself so far.
"Because I think he has a date," Callen replied.
"So?" Sam asked.
"You don't want to know with who?" Callen asked. The car had pulled into a parking garage so they hadn't had a chance to see exactly where Dom had gone.
"He'll tell us when he is ready," said Sam.
"Since when? As far as I can work out, he doesn't date," Callen said.
"What about it? Neither do you," Sam said. He glanced over at Callen before he continued. "So we're checking out the girl to make sure she's not taking advantage of poor innocent Dom?"
"If we get caught," Callen said just as his phone rang.
Hetty got straight to the point when he answered. "Mr Callen, I need you and Mr Hanna back in the office. We have a case."
"Sure Hetty, on our way," Callen replied, disappointed that they wouldn't get to see who Dom was with.
"Eric tells me you are near Mr Vail," Hetty added. "Bring him in please. He hasn't been answering his phone."
"Not a problem," Callen smirked. "Be there soon." He turned to Sam the smirk still there. "We get to bring in Dom." Sam shook his head at the look of glee on Callen's face.
"We're here." Sam pulled up right outside the building that Eric had told them Dom's phone was at. Callen looked at the sign on the window and then at Sam, eyebrows raised.
"He's at a dance studio?"
"Looks that way," Sam answered.
"Didn't think Dom could dance." Callen and Sam both exited the car and headed to the door of the studio. Callen had to admit he didn't really know Dom that well but somehow he didn't seem to be the dancing type.
"Guess we're about to find out," Sam commented as they walked through the doors.
They stopped just inside and watched the couple who were on the dance floor doing a pretty hot and sexy dance.
"So where do you think Dom is?" Sam asked as he looked around the room.
"There," said Callen. He pointed at the couple Sam had dismissed as they turned around, mid-dance, and he recognised Dom as one of the dancers.
"No," Sam said in disbelief. "Our Dom? Dancing like that with a girl?" Sam and Callen stared at them as they continued to dance, seemingly oblivious to their audience.
"Looks like," said Callen. He watched the way the girl was moving around Dom. She was good, very good. If he'd looked, he would have seen that Dom was too, he just was more interested in watching the girl.
"So when did Dom grow up and get interested in girls?" asked Sam with only a tinge of joking to his tone.
"Don't know," Callen said with a shake of his head. "But he's got good taste."
"Didn't get that from you," Sam replied with a smirk at his partner.
"You ever hear him mention a girl?" Callen asked with a quick sideways glance at Sam before he returned his gaze to the couple on the dance floor, finally taking note that Dom could indeed dance. Even though it was obvious the girl was in a league far out of Dom's for ability, Callen could tell that she was working with Dom to dance together, not just around him.
"Apart from actual family, just Sarah," Sam said.
"The sister type one? Doubt that would be her." Callen said as he looked back at Dom's partner. Loose light brown hair, long legs and just the right about of curves to fit the slender body that was moving with exceptional confidence.
"Yeah," Sam said. "Doubt it too. She sounded all sweet, innocent, girl next door type, didn't she?" The music and dancing finished at that moment.
Callen lowered his voice. "She certainly doesn't fit that description." He watched the girl smile at Dom and they both started to move again without the music. Knowing Hetty was waiting Callen called out. "Didn't know you had it in you Dom." Except his timing was bad and he hadn't realised that Dom was in the middle of lifting the girl. His comment startled Dom enough that he almost dropped her as he looked over at them.
"Dom!" She hit him on the shoulder. "Focus. You know what will happen if you drop me again."
Dom looked guilty. "Sorry Sarah." Dom put her down carefully, and they headed over to Callen and Sam.
"Sarah?" Callen murmured to Sam. He had a better chance to look at Sarah, now she wasn't moving so much. Her eyes were hazel and as she moved a little closer there seemed to be a hint of green to them when the light hit in the right spot. It didn't change his opinion though. Dom definitely had good taste.
"Guess the boy can lie better than we thought," Sam murmured back under his breath just before Dom and Sarah got to them.
"Guess so," said Callen but couldn't help wondering why Dom had kept her a secret.
"So what was that?" asked Sam with a nod back to the dance floor.
"Salsa," replied Dom.
"When did you learn to dance?" Callen asked. He watched a smile twitch on Sarah's face and and gave her a curious look. She smiled back at him, something secret hidden behind the sparkle in her eyes.
"Known for a while. Guys," Dom said, "this is Sarah. Sarah, Callen and Sam."
"The Sarah?" asked Callen. Dom nodded and looked just a touch nervous.
"Hi," said Sarah. Her eyes lingered on Callen just a bit longer than Sam.
"What are you guys doing here?" asked Dom.
"Hetty sent us," Sam said. "You weren't answering your phone."
"Oh," said Dom. Both Callen and Sam could tell Dom was disappointed the prospect of having to leave.
"Can I have him for five more minutes?" Sarah asked them.
"Why?" asked Callen.
"One more run through. It's our last chance before Saturday Night," Sarah replied.
"What's on Saturday night?" Sam asked.
"Salsa competition," Sarah replied.
"You're dancing in a competition with Dom?" Callen asked, disbelief evident in his tone and one his face.
"Yes," Sarah said and caught Callen's gaze with hers. "You have a problem with that?" she asked. Callen could tell she was having a hard time trying not to smile. He blamed the look of shock on Sam's face for that, though his probably wasn't that far behind but at least he'd been able to talk.
"Nope, no problem," Callen admitted. "Just surprised that's all. We didn't know our Dom could dance."
"So, do I get my five minutes or what?" Sarah looked between Callen and Sam as she waited for an answer.
"Sure. Don't mind if we watch do you?" Callen asked her. He was willing to face the music, so to speak, with Hetty for being a little bit later than expected.
"Ask Dom not me," Sarah replied. "I'm used to being watched." She walked away backwards with a smile and sparkle in her eyes before she turned and went to restart the music.
Callen looked at Dom questioningly.
"Fine," Dom said with a shrug and then moved to join Sarah.
Callen and Sam took a seat and watched. This time they got the full show, but still couldn't quite believe it.
"Our innocent Dom ain't so innocent is he?" Sam asked as they watched them dance.
"How far do you think they go?" Callen had a feeling he hoped wasn't jealousy of Dom having her dance like that with him.
"What?" asked Sam.
"You think this is more than just a dance?" Callen rephrased.
"You interested in her, G?" Sam asked him.
"Maybe," Callen admitted without taking his eyes off the dancing couple. He was interested. She'd got his attention with her looks, he was okay admitting that. You had to start somewhere. It was her confidence though and something else he couldn't yet place about her that he wanted to get to know.
"If she's Dom's, you'll stay away right?" asked Sam. Callen glanced briefly at his partner and saw the concern on Sam's face.
"If she's Dom's, yep," Callen agreed before he returned his focus to the dance floor. One of his rules; he didn't go after a friend's girl.
"Gotta say G, looks pretty heavy out there. Not looking promising for you," Sam said.
Callen didn't reply. Unfortunately he was thinking the same thing.
When the dance finished again, Dom went to quickly change and Callen decided to take advantage of the moment to talk to Sarah alone.
"So, you and Dom huh?" Callen asked in a not so subtle attempt to investigate the situation. Sarah looked at him, shocked.
"Me and Dom?" She laughed a little as she got his meaning. "No." She shook her head to emphasize her answer. "Sorry to disappoint. It's just a dance."
Callen wasn't disappointed.
"Looked like you two were pretty intense out there," He added just to be sure that there wasn't potential.
"Look, Callen is it?" Sarah asked. Callen nodded.
"Callen, Dom and I were just dancing," Sarah said firmly. "He's good, but there's nothing like that between us. He's my best friend.".
"Just an observation," Callen said. At least that matched up with what Dom had suggested, even if the rest of her didn't.
"I've known Dom since I was five. We've never been anything more than good friends, though he does play the boyfriend quite well when necessary," Sarah said with a gentle smile on her face. "Dancing is what I do, it's an act. My job is to make people believe that something is there. Guess we succeeded so thank you." She smiled.
"It definitely looked that way," Callen acknowledged. "Play the boyfriend?" He was curious about that comment.
Sarah grabbed a drink of water before she replied. "If I want to just go out and have fun without worrying about guys, sometimes Dom will come out and play boyfriend. Do you have any idea how hard it is for a girl to go out and have a drink or dinner, on her own, without some guy thinking she needs company or is looking to score?" She smiled again. "It let's me relax and enjoy the night, keeps the other guys away, and, if I want to dance, I don't have to worry about some guy trying to cop a feel. Dom's not like that," Sarah added. Callen noticed the sincere smile on her face as she spoke about Dom. She really did care about him.
"So you teach others to dance like that or just Dom?" Callen asked. She looked at him, eyes narrowing a little as she noticed him check her out. He hadn't meant to, but his eyes seemed to have a mind of their own and glanced over her quickly as he spoke. He noticed a slow smile spread on her face before she spoke.
"If you were really wanting to learn to dance like that," Sarah answered. "I'd say yes. But ... that's not what you want."
"How do you figure that?" Callen made sure to keep his eyes on her face this time.
"Dancing with Dom like that's easy. He's dancing. Not all guys can dance with a girl like that, just to dance. Most of the time they're looking for more. You want to dance like that with me for more than the dance, you ask me out on a date first." Sarah smiled, something with a little heat that suggested she wouldn't actually mind him asking her out. Then she turned and walked over to Dom who had just come back in. He was definitely liking this girl.
"Don't drink too much Friday night, okay? I don't want to fall on my head again," Sarah said as she kissed Dom on the cheek.
"You dropped her on her head?" asked Callen in disbelief. "Really Dom," he shook his head. "You should know you don't let a girl like that out of your hands," Callen added. He let his smile suggest to her that she was dancing with him he couldn't do that.
"It was once," Dom protested, "and it was the first time we'd done that move."
Callen shook his head at Dom and sighed.
"Sarah," a guy called out. She turned and looked behind her.
"Set up the music Joe," Sarah called back. "I'll be right there." She turned back to Callen, a wicked smile on her face. "Pity you can't stick around. If you thought things were intense with Dom, you should see me with Joe." She winked at him and then turned back to Dom. "Saturday, don't be late."
"Promise. See you then," Dom said and kissed her on the cheek before he walked toward the door and Sam.
"See you around Sarah," said Callen.
"I'm here most days," Sarah replied with a smile that confirmed she was actually interested. "Hit it Joe," she sang out as she moved toward the other man.
Callen watched her walk away. Watched her put her hair up in a loose high ponytail as she went. Then she started to move to the music. Callen couldn't take his eyes of her. She moved like the music was part of her and when the man, Joe, joined her, they moved together in a way that he couldn't believe. They seemed so connected and, she was right. Her dance with Dom had nothing on her and this Joe.
Callen wasn't quite sure how long it was that he watched, but a Gibbs-like smack to the back of his head by Sam pulled him out of it. Sarah turned around in the dance at that point. He caught the knowing smile she sent his way and for the first time he noticed the mirror on the back wall and realised that she had seen him watching her.
Callen smiled back, an acknowledgement he'd been caught. Then he turned and followed Sam and Dom to the car.
"So Dom, you and Sarah?" Callen asked once they were settled in the car.
"It's not like that. Sarah's great. We're friends. I've told you about her," Dom said, confirming what Sarah had told him.
"Misled us more like it," Sam said.
"You gave us the impression she was the girl next door type," Callen added.
"She used to be. She lived next door to us for a while," Dom said.
"What about that guy, Joe?" Callen asked. He couldn't help but wonder who he was in her life, especially after witnessing them dance briefly.
"Joe? Joe's been her dance partner for ten years. He's married, to someone else, with 8 month old twins," Dom said.
"So you wouldn't mind if G asked her out?" said Sam with a quick sideways glance at G before he pulled away from the curb.
"You interested in Sarah?" asked Dom.
"Maybe," Callen replied.
"Don't hurt her Callen," Dom warned. Callen looked into the back seat and saw that Dom was serious.
"Hurt her, I'll hurt you," Dom continued.
Callen held back the little laugh at the thought of Dom trying to hurt him. He was surprised at the protective tone. "Like her a little do you?" Callen asked.
"She's one of my best friends," Dom replied. "I care about her."
"Noted," said Callen. At least he wouldn't be treading on Dom's toes if he asked her out.
Part 2: Saturday Night, after Dom's disappearance. Competition Night.
"Guys." Eric's voice pulled the team from their thoughts. It was Saturday night but no one wanted to go home. They were still trying to find any sign of Dom. Everything they'd had had dead ended. They didn't know what else to do so they were going over everything again. "There's been someone trying to call Dom for the last hour, same number," Eric continued.
"Who?" asked Callen.
"Phone is registered to a Sarah Carter," Eric replied after a quick check of his tablet.
Sam and Callen looked at one another. Callen swore and grabbed his keys and jacket. "Where is she Eric?" Callen asked.
"Where are you going G?" Sam asked.
"Gonna talk to her, maybe she might know something."
"Address in your GPS," Eric called out as Callen left the bullpen.
"Why don't you just call her?" Sam stood up and followed his partner.
"You really think it's fair to her to tell her Dom's missing over the phone?" Callen asked.
"Now's not the time G," Sam warned.
"I'm not going to ask her out." The thought hadn't even crossed his mind, though he had thought about her quite a bit over the first couple of days. But then Dom went missing and everything else had been swept from his mind. "If you were her, would you want someone to tell you your best friend is missing over the phone?" Callen asked as he got to the car.
"Guess not," said Sam.
"I'll be back soon Sam," Callen said. He closed his car door and drove off.
Sam was right. It wasn't the time. But he couldn't do this to her on the phone. It wouldn't be fair. He'd been able to tell how much Dom had cared about her, and she Dom. He wanted to be there for her when she heard. Plus, they didn't have anything else to go on, maybe she might know something. It was a slim chance but at least he was doing something. He found her at the Salsa club, it wasn't hard. She was right inside the door, waiting for Dom.
"Callen?" Sarah said, confused but she smiled at him. "Where's Dom?" She searched behind him.
Callen took a deep breath. "We don't know," he said. He watched her go pale and then she pushed him out the door and off to the side away from the others who were milling around.
"What do you mean you don't know?" Sarah stared at him.
"He's been kidnapped," Callen said. He did it as gently as he could but what little colour was in her face disappeared. Even the competition makeup couldn't hide that from him.
"No," She shook her head. "Not Dom." Callen could see the tears in her eyes, the disbelief as she shook her head again. "No."
"I'm sorry Sarah," Callen said softly. He took a step slightly closer. "Do you have any idea of anyone who might want to get to Dom?" He hoped she had something, anything at all, that would give them something to try.
"No," Sarah wrapped her arms around herself. Callen noticed she was shaking and he wondered just how much she knew about Dom's work. Her reactions seemed to suggest more than just normal worry about a friend going missing.
"Sarah?" Callen said and put his hands on her shoulders, a connection that would give him just a little more warning if she started to fall. She looked up at him. "Are you okay?" Callen asked.
"No," Sarah said. The tears were falling freely from her eyes but she wasn't exactly crying. Then he saw the sadness disappear and she got angry, with a hell of a lot of scared hiding underneath it. "Why are you here?" she asked. "Why aren't you looking for him? It's what you do right? Get the bad guys." She stepped closer to him.
"We're trying, Sarah," Callen replied. "We've got nothing left to go on," he reluctantly admitted.
"Then go… Keep trying. Find something else. Go," Her voice rose "Go. Go find my best friend and don't even think about asking me out until you find him." Sarah put her hands on his chest and tried to push him away. Callen saw fresh tears fall from her eyes.
"Go!" she yelled at him again. But instead he pulled her into his arms to hold her as she cried.
"We'll find him," Callen promised, possibly more to himself than to her. He felt her collapse slightly into him but only briefly before she pushed him away.
"Go," Sarah said, this time more gently, as she turned and ran back inside.
Part 3: The night they'd found Dom.
Callen drove to Dom's place, he wasn't really sure why. As he walked up, he noticed a light on inside. He frowned and quietened his footsteps. He listened carefully at the door. He couldn't hear anything, but when tried the door handle he found it unlocked. He pulled out his gun and silently moved into Dom's apartment. There was a small light on the table next to the sofa which gave him enough to see that nothing looked out of place. That was until he saw someone in Dom's bed. He moved slowly.
Callen hadn't seen her in months, not since he told her Dom was missing. He'd had nothing to tell her. She was asleep in Dom's bed, arms wrapped around the pillow. Callen could see the tears still on her eyelashes, the streaks down her cheeks and shadows under her eyes that showed she'd been crying for a while. He watched and saw the shudders that were still going through her as she slept. Callen put his gun aside and sat down gently on the bed. Her eyes flew open and she looked at him. He saw the tears start to fall again.
"Go away," Sarah said softly, though it lacked conviction to make him think she meant it.
"No," Callen said. She rolled away from him, but stayed in the bed. He noticed she was wearing one of Dom's t-shirts. He saw her shoulders shake and slipped onto the bed, pulling her back to him to hold her, once again, whilst she cried.
"I'm sorry," Callen said quietly to her.
"Why? Why Dom?" Sarah asked.
"We don't know," Callen replied. They knew what they took him for, but didn't know why Dom.
"Did they hurt him?" Sarah asked, as she finally looked up at him.
"Sarah, please." Callen begged her not to make him answer that question.
Sarah closed her eyes. His answer hadn't really been the non answer that he'd wanted it to be. She put her head back down on his chest and didn't ask anymore questions. They just lay there together, both in pain. Eventually she fell asleep again. He didn't, not until the sun started to come up. He woke up when she moved away from him and got up.
"Morning," Callen said. Sarah turned to look at him.
"Morning," Sarah said softly. The tears came back to her eyes. She tried to blink them away but a few dripped down onto her cheek. Callen watched as she turned and walked away but stopped at some pictures on a shelf. She ran her fingers gently over one. Callen stood up and went over to her. It was a photo of her and Dom.
"High school graduation," Sarah whispered. "He flew out for mine. We weren't living in the same place by then, but he jumped on a plane right after his and came to me. He didn't want me to be alone. He missed the party for his afterwards so he could be there," Sarah said. There were tears in her voice.
"What about your parents?" Callen asked gently.
"They were off traveling somewhere. Couldn't be bothered coming back for it. I was at a boarding school in Denver," Sarah replied. She turned to him then and kissed him on the cheek.
"Thank you for last night," Sarah said, "Bye." She turned and walked to the door, picking up her bag and shirt as she walked past the table.
"Sarah," Callen called to her. She turned back to look at him.
"I'm sorry I couldn't keep him safe." She nodded and gave him one last smile before she turned and left.
Part 4: Dom's funeral
Callen saw Sarah sitting just behind Dom's family, a couple of rows in front of where the team were sitting together. They'd flown in that morning and were due to leave a few hours after the funeral to head back to LA. Callen noticed the space between herself and those next to her. She looked like she didn't want anybody near her.
Callen listened to the service but watched her. He saw her shoulders shake, noticed she had her arms wrapped around her like she was trying to stop herself falling apart. He caught her looking around once, saw her tear streaked face. She saw him too. He watched as she shook off the hand of the man next to her when he moved closer. Watched her shift further away and wondered what that was all about. When the service was over and they had moved to the room where the morning tea was being served, he watched her continue to pull away from everyone. He saw the same man again move close and heard her tell him to go away. The man looked frustrated and almost angry. Callen felt furious with him. It was like he must've thought he'd might stand a chance of picking her up whilst she was vulnerable. Callen remembered what she had said about Dom. That he played the boyfriend well when she didn't want to be bothered by guys. He walked over to her, she smiled slightly at him, and when she didn't tell him to go away he was pleased.
"Need some help?" Callen asked.
"With what?" Sarah asked confused.
"He seems to be bothering you," Callen said with a glance at the offending male.
"He's an ex, with good reason. Unfortunately, he is also Dom's cousin," Sarah replied and turned her body toward him and her back toward the cousin in question.
"Can't be easy. Looks like he wants to get back together."
"Well that would be one way to get Dom back," Sarah said a small genuine smile formed on her face, albeit very briefly.
"Meaning?" Callen asked.
"If I thought anywhere near remotely serious about that." Sarah brushed a few stray tears from her cheek. "Even being dead wouldn't stop Dom coming back and telling me off. He broke David's nose when we broke up for what he had done."
"Protective of you wasn't he." Callen thought back to the warning Dom had given him that first day he'd met her.
"Yeah. Definitely made a girl feel loved. Family is..." She shook her head and a tear escaped. "Was important to Dom. But honor was above even family, and he defended me." Sarah took a deep breath and Callen could see that today was incredibly hard for her. It would've been hard enough without her ex messing with her.
"I'm not Dom, but I can do a pretty good job of playing boyfriend if you want," Callen offered. Sarah looked at him for a moment.
"Boyfriend might be a bit tricky since you haven't been around me all day."
She had him there. "Okay, how about bodyguard?" Callen asked. She almost laughed at that.
"How about friend?" Sarah asked. "Protective friend. Dom used to do that one too."
Callen heard the tears come back, heard her take a shaky breath, and he slipped an arm around her.
"Deal," Callen said. "Where to you want to go?"
"Anywhere but here, but I can't leave yet. I need to see Dom's parents first," she said.
"You find them. I'll keep you away from the ex," Callen said. He started them in the direction he had last seen Dom's parents and kept his arm around her shoulders, hoping that it would act as both a deterrent and a comfort.
"Callen," Sarah said, looking up at his face.
"What?" he asked.
"You're not going to try and hit on me today are you?" Sarah asked.
"Not today." Not likely at all. Not after everything. "Maybe tomorrow," he said with a small hope it might make her smile a little. He'd have to tell her sometime but now wasn't the time.
"Tomorrow would be good," Sarah said with a small smile. He looked in her eyes and could see the same thing in them that he felt. As much as they'd both been interested, nothing was going to happen between them. It would hurt her too much and he didn't want that. It would hurt him too, seeing her and being reminded of Dom, but nowhere near as much as her.
"Tomorrow it is," Callen replied just as she found Dom's parents.
Once she felt free to leave, he took her outside away from everyone. "Where can I take you?"
"I'm staying in a hotel tonight. If you can call a cab that would be great." So he did. She smiled sadly at him.
"Thank you Callen. For today." She shuddered. "For finding Dom and bringing him home."
Callen reached out and pulled her in for a hug. "I'm sorry it wasn't good enough."
"You didn't give up. I'm sure he knew you wouldn't."
Callen knew that. Knew that all the time Dom had been in the kidnappers hands he hadn't give up either. They stood there waiting. She seemed to get stronger as time went by. He hoped somehow he'd given her enough to get her through this day.
The cab pulled up and she stepped away. Callen opened the door for her, closed it once she was in, after he'd dropped the window. He pulled out a card with his number on it and handed it too her. She shook her head. "I know." The date wasn't going to happen but that wasn't why he was giving her his card. "If you need anything. If you're ever in trouble, call me." He reached out and held her hand, securing the card in it. "Let me be there like Dom would've been … Please." She smiled and nodded.
"Bye Sarah." He let go of her hand and moved away from the cab.
Callen stood there and watched as the cab disappeared. And while a part of him would love to see her again, he hopes he never does. Because if he does, he knows it'll be because she's in trouble. And he desperately hopes that she never is.
A/N - hope you enjoyed this little foray back into the early days. Love to know what you thought.