A/N - A special thank you to countrygirluk56 for potentially making this story close to twice as long as I thought it would be back when the mission side finished and the romance side kicked in. Your consistent reviews and thoughts and those prompts were gratefully appreciated.
Also thanks to ssl71 and knirbenrots for their support too over this story. I've loved hearing what you thought as the chapters went by.
I've loved meeting all the extra OC's (think my favourite experience was meeting Granda Patrick though close behind would have to be Emma and Ellie) and getting to know Sarah over these last 27 Chapters and 100K+ words. And it's been nice getting to know Dom (at least Sarah's version) a little more than they let us know him in the show.
So here were are, final chapter. It's not as happy as the original ending that was planned (hint the last word was supposed to be Yes) but it's still good - at least in my opinion. ;-) Also note, Janvier/Crimeleon doesn't exist in this story. If he did, he would've wreaked havoc already and I just couldn't do it. Because I was still in obsessed Callen/Sarah mode after watching the Season 8 Final episode this is what came from it.
Thanks to all those who have favourited, alerted, reviewed or simply read this story. I would love to hear your thoughts now this ride is over.
approximately 5 years later
Set at the end of the Season 8 finale following Michelle's death.
Callen stepped out of his car, every muscle in his body filled with tension. He refused to let the pain of the bruise from the bullet to his back (he was damn lucky nothing was fractured or broken) or those from the explosion enter his mind or affect his movements. He kept his pace steady, made sure his outward appearance was relaxed though he wanted to run; wanted to pull out his gun so he was ready, just in case. But if he did that he felt like he would just be asking for trouble. His eyes flicked everywhere; from the shadowy places to the lit windows, anywhere someone could be watching or waiting. The darkness of the evening made it more difficult. He walked through the entry doors to the apartment complex, facial recognition took care of the lock. Up the stairs, one at a time even as his mind screamed to take them in threes. His heart pounded in his chest, his fingers physically itched to have the comforting weight of his gun, that he refused to draw, in them.
Surely after everything that had happened in the last thirty six hours there couldn't be room for anything else to go wrong.
A palm print on the discrete panel beside the door handle would unlock the door to the apartment itself. Callen paused and took a breath.
Sarah had to be safe.
Right behind this door it was safe, that had been the plan. This was where she'd run to the moment he'd given her the word. He'd called her from the car when they'd been speeding their way to Sam's house after Michelle had been taken.
Sarah should be safe.
His head told him that but his heart was another matter. Until he saw her, held her in his arms, he'd worry even though he knew she had been here when he'd called - after they'd found Michelle.
Sam had been cradling his wife's dead body and, once Callen had sent everyone out to give him that time alone, he'd called Sarah. He'd needed to hear her voice, know she was okay. Because even in the midst of fighting for Michelle and Sam there had been a part of him that was terrified she might be the next target, if Tahir would stop with just tearing Sam apart.
Callen hadn't planned on telling her what happened over the phone, but Sarah had heard the pain and fear in his voice. Because yes, he had been afraid, still was. He'd found the words spilling out before he could stop them. He'd heard the pain in Sarah's voice as she assured him she was safe; that she'd done everything they'd taught her to make sure she wasn't followed. She knew the deal. She was to stay put until he, Hetty or Sam came. The four of them were the only ones who could get through the combination of facial recognition and the palm print into the apartment, the only ones who knew this was where she would come. In the unlikely event that something happened to all three of them Nell would find her. Nell was the only one who knew about the small vial of Overwatch (only one dose) that was tucked away in the safe inside the apartment. If no one contacted Sarah for four days straight, she would use it along with the other instructions he'd left for her in the safe.
Sarah also knew he would stay with Sam until this was over. Because she wouldn't expect anything less of him. They both loved Sam and that was simply the way it had to be. Sam needed him more.
When everything was finally over, when it was safe for Callen to come to her, he hadn't been brave enough to call. He'd sent a text to let her know he was on his way. Because he wasn't sure if he heard her voice he wouldn't lose what little control he had left of his emotions before he could get to where it was safe for him to breakdown - with her.
Callen let out the breath he'd been unconsciously holding, put his palm on the panel and heard the lock click. He opened the door and stepped through.
There she was.
His brave, strong, protective, beautiful wife. Safe but scared. The gun she held in her hands was pointed right at his chest, centre of mass for the highest chance of hitting her target. Her finger was beside, not on, the trigger to avoid accidental firing, and her hands were nice and steady. Just the way Michelle had taught her and damn if that thought didn't just rip him apart all over again.
The door closed and locked automatically behind him.
Callen's eyes never left Sarah. He saw the moment she registered it was him and, just a touch later, when it showed in her body that she was safe. The gun started to shake and she lowered her hands, flicked the safety on and put it on the shelf located at shoulder height on the wall near where she stood. Then she all but ran the few steps to him, tears already falling freely down her face. His arms went around her tight and she cried, her head buried into his neck. His hand went to her hair, held her safe against him and he took a deep breath, even as the pain seared though that spot on his back, her scent an additional reminder that she was safe. The tears fell from his eyes too.
Sarah was alive, was safe and here in his arms. He felt like the luckiest man on earth but it hurt like hell to know that Sam would never have this again. Sam would never come home to his wife, never hold her in his arms or hear her voice again.
Callen raised his head and with a gentle hand raised Sarah's so he could look at her face, into those eyes that showed so much. She was still afraid, as well as relieved, yet there was such pain in her eyes too. He was grateful that the darkness from parts of the life she lived with him hadn't affected that in her. She was stronger in more ways than one, but she hadn't lost her ability to fully feel emotion.
The pain of losing Michelle was clear to see. Michelle had been her friend, more than a friend. She had taken Sarah under her wing, taught her so many things she needed to know to help her cope and survive this life with him. For two women who were so different, they'd bonded over those they loved and the life they'd chosen to live. Michelle had been there for Sarah when he'd been under deep and long, when he'd been injured and so many other times. As much as she had her family who would love and support her no matter what, Michelle had known what Sarah was going through in a way they couldn't.
And as always, so strong in Sarah's eyes, was her love for him.
"I love you," he whispered.
"Love you too." She pressed a soft kiss to his lips. He put his forehead against hers and breathed slowly.
"It could've been you," Callen said and his heart screamed at the thought. Because it was a possibility. He had enemies and they were just as nasty as this one of Sam's had been. They just hadn't come for him, or her, yet.
Sarah sobbed and her body shook. Callen tightened his hold on her and lifted his head. He brought a hand up and brushed the tears off her cheeks. It was pointless, more fell to replace them, but he did it anyway. A touch, another connection between them, something else to assure them they were here and safe together.
"I don't know how Sam will survive." Callen felt more of his own tears fall. "I don't know how I would if it'd been you," he admitted. If this was what it felt like to lose Michelle; to feel pain for his brother, because Sam was way more than a partner to him, losing his wife, how much worse would it be for him to lose his own. He didn't think he could comprehend Sam's pain.
Sarah brushed his tears away with gentle fingers. "He will. So would you."
"How?" How could she be so sure? Even through the pain in her voice Callen heard the confidence Sarah had in her words.
Sarah took his hand, led him to the bedroom door and opened it without a sound. "You'd find a way," she said in a soft voice, "because she'd need you to."
Callen's eyes focused on the small mattress on the floor in the corner of the bedroom, lit up by the soft glow of the night light. Isabela Clare Callen, known to the world for just over a year as Izzie, had his whole heart before she'd even made it into his arms. Light brown hair with a hint of curls, his blue eyes, even though at the moment they were closed in sleep, and a cute little mouth that turned up so often in exactly the same mischievous way her mother's did.
His arms went around Sarah and she leaned back into him as they watched their daughter sleep. Such an innocent sight. Every smile, giggle, kiss and cuddle from his little girl seemed to make the darkness in his world fade that little bit further into the background. Sarah whispered, her voice breaking with her next words. "Because you would do everything in your power to make sure you'd never leave them."
The word took a few moments to register in his mind. Them? It was only then that Callen noticed Sarah had shifted one of his hands under her shirt, low on her stomach. Her hand stayed over his. Callen's heart skipped a beat and with his free hand tilted her face so he could see her. Was she really saying what he thought she was?
Sarah nodded and the tears overflowed again. "Something good in this hell," she whispered as she turned around to face him. He could see the dilemma in her eyes. She didn't know how she could be happy about this with everything that had happened.
"When did you find out?"
"The morning before…" Sarah's breath shuddered and more tears fell. "Just got home from the doctor when you called."
Yesterday had started out so happy for her, Callen was sure of that. He remembered how excited she'd been when they'd found out about Izzie. The crash that must've come when the day turned bad and then even worse. And he hadn't been here for her. Until it was over, until it was safe, even if he'd been able to leave Sam before that, he couldn't have come for her. It would've been too much of a risk that he'd have been followed. She'd had to cope alone. Callen cupped her face in his hands, brushed the tears from her cheeks and gently kissed her. She pulled him closer, kissed him deeper and he felt the desperation in her touch.
"Dance with me please," she begged him.
Callen looked into her eyes and saw how much she needed him. It was need, not heat. That ultimate physical connection between them, proof undeniable that he was here with her, safe.
He also saw something else. Words she would never say but she couldn't hide them from him in her eyes. She was too raw to hide anything right now. Questions direct from the heart rather than the head. He doubted she even knew they were there for him to see.
Stay with me. Stay with us.
Because Sarah knew that it had been more likely for Michelle to lose Sam not the other way around. She knew that he was the one most likely to not come home. And that thought of retirement flared to life. He wanted to come home to her, to them, for a very, very long time. The time had come, the right time - a choice he was making for himself, not for her even if she would benefit.
Callen's hands went to the bottom of Sarah's shirt and slowly lifted it over her head. He dropped to his knees and brushed his fingers gently over her stomach, placed a lingering kiss somewhere near where their next child was; so tiny yet protected and loved already. A child he would do everything he could to make sure he was here to meet, to love and to watch him or her grow alongside Izzie. He gently kissed his way up to her lips as he stood. He waited patiently for Sarah's fingers to undo the buttons of his shirt, her fingers only slightly shaky, and push it off his shoulders. His muscles and the bruises protested at the movement when he shook his arms to drop it to the floor but he blocked them from his mind; focused only on her. Callen guided them to the bed, eased Sarah carefully down before he looked into those hazel eyes that, no matter what else she was feeling, held so much love for him.
Callen lowered his head and, just before his lips touched hers, he answered spoken and unspoken questions alike, with just one word. A word that doubled as his promise. And he wasn't one to make promises he didn't plan on keeping.
A/N And they lived happily ever after... :-)
Simply because I can! This is Fan Fiction after all and what better way to end it.
Hope you've enjoyed this and once again thank you for joining me on this unexpected ride of Callen actually winning the girl even when he originally didn't think it wasn't an option.
Now, back to Moving On before I let loose the bunnies on the next Callen/OC brewing in my mind and already outlined on my computer!