A/N - Finally the last chapter. I've read over this so many times, tweaking a little each time until it hit me last night- I'm procrastinating. I don't want to say goodbye to these two or this story. I've thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Sofia and learning more about Callen's background (even if it is only my version) but I need to. I have three days left to move on from them to be ready to write my next Callen/OC story (see profile if you are curious. I've put a version of my Nano summary up there to tempt you) during NaNoWriMo and I need that time to shift my head and my heart to my new pairing. I've experienced it before, a sadness, almost a loss and I'm starting to get better at recognising it.
Hawk - Thanks once again for your review - Once I read your comment it did ping a little something in my brain and then I tracked my research and I did find out that information about the rings - it would've fitted so well with the story too if I'd remembered when I was writing it - though maybe I did and that's were the inspiration came from to have Callen wear it on the right hand, though I just didn't know it. Thanks in advance for your final review. I've enjoyed your comments and support.
Thanks to everyone who has joined me on this journey, whether you reviewed or not. To those who did, you know how much I appreciated the feedback, input, prompts and conversations that we had. I look forward and hope that I'll see you back on my next story once the craziness of NaNo is over.
There are twists in this chapter that I didn't even see coming until I wrote it! Would love to know your thoughts on the final chapter and the story as a whole.
So, it's now time to say goodbye to Callen & Sofia &...
Six weeks later.
Callen relaxed against the archway to Hetty's living room, his attention on Sofia and Dana as they sat on the couch talking quietly. With their heads close together, and not being able to see their faces, they'd pass as mother and daughter with their almost identical shade of dark blonde hair. But their facial features and eyes, Sofia's pale green and Dana's brown, told a different story. Dana was on the small side for her age. She really didn't look almost fifteen; the top of her head barely came up to Callen's shoulder. Now that Dana was more settled with them, and the tough protective attitude had gone, she seemed even younger.
Dana had been with them now for five weeks.
The first week she had stayed with Hetty to give her a chance to get to know them while they decided where to go with this. They'd left the final choice in Dana's hands, even though it didn't seem like she had many options given the situation. In the end she'd chosen to come with them; even knowing what Sofia's gifts could do and a tamed down version of Callen's line of work.
The soft laughter that drifted to him from them made Callen smile.
The first two weeks Dana had been with them were hard. The initial flush of being safe and able to keep her baby had gone after a few days when fear and worry of it all going wrong again kicked in. Completely understandable given her history in the system, and how important stability was for her now. Boundaries were pushed, arguments were frequent and Sofia fought hard to help Dana understand that things were different now. Callen had kept his distance from the arguments though had backed up Sofia when needed. As much as he was going to be a part of Dana's life, initially they felt it better that he stay back until Dana trusted him. Pushing a man's authority on her with what she had just been through didn't seem like it would be a good strategy.
One afternoon toward the end of those two weeks Callen had come home early to an exceptionally quiet house. He'd found Sofia and Dana curled up on the bed in Dana's room; the young girl's head on Sofia's lap. Dried tears stained Dana's cheeks and her eyes were closed in sleep. Sofia, on the other hand, still had tears falling as she stroked Dana's hair tenderly. Careful not to disturb Dana, Sofia had shifted her head off her lap onto a pillow and taken Callen to their own bedroom where she had curled up in his arms and let the rest of her tears fall.
There had been a confrontation that day that had led to Dana pushing past Sofia and, for the first time, that physical contact had Sofia falling to her knees. Not because of Dana's actions but because of Dana's memories; just like Sofia had on the beach in Romania so long ago with his own. The sheer force of the multiple memories and the fear and pain that she had felt from them had left Sofia in tears on the floor and Dana scared. In the end though, it had been a turning point for Sofia and Dana. From that moment things changed. After they'd talked and cried together, Dana had fallen asleep, exhaustion from the emotion of the encounter taking its toll. Callen hadn't asked Sofia to tell him what she had seen. He'd trusted her when she said that there was no doubt that Dana had told them the truth, even though they hadn't doubted her before.
"Looks like you have your own swan now," Hetty's quiet voice came from beside him.
Callen kept his eyes on Sofia and Dana. "Let's make sure this one gets to make her own choices huh?" he said, just as quietly. "No leading her down the spy path."
"She's your swan Mr Callen. Where you guide her is up to you."
Callen turned his head and looked at Hetty but kept Sofia and Dana in his peripheral vision. "There's more to her isn't there Hetty? Something you haven't told us?"
"Nothing bad, just -."
A gasp from their direction pulled Callen's attention instantly from Hetty. He saw the look of surprise in Dana's brown eyes, a rare colour combination with her blonde hair. She held Sofia's hand on her rounded stomach. Dana looked at Callen with an excited smile. It was the first time he'd seen her look at him without a sign of wariness.
Callen didn't blame her. After everything Dana had been through Callen knew the road to her trusting him wouldn't be easy and would, potentially, be long. He had some serious convincing to do that she was safe with him and he was okay with that. He was patient when things really mattered.
Callen smiled back and Dana beckoned him over. Curious, Callen moved to crouch in front of her. His eyes flicked to Sofia's but there was nothing to worry about in them even if they were shining with unshed tears. He turned his focus back to Dana.
"Everything okay?" Callen was very conscious of the tone he used whenever he talked with Dana. The last thing he wanted was to scare her.
Dana nodded. "She kicked. Sofia felt it too."
"Would you like to…" Dana trailed off.
Callen couldn't tell if Dana regretted starting to say what she had or if she just wasn't sure. He waited patiently as she took a slow breath in and out.
"Would you like to feel too?" Dana finally asked him.
Callen knew this was a huge step from Dana to trust him with such contact. She'd been hesitant of even being next to him for a good few weeks and tended to seem uncomfortable and ready to flee if she found herself in the same room as him alone. Physical contact between the two of them was almost non-existent.
Something was happening here and he didn't want to shut Dana down if she was reaching out to him so Callen made sure his reply left it up to her. "If you're okay with that."
Dana held out her hand, one that was a little shaky but she had a determined look on her face. Callen placed his in hers and shifted so she could move it where she wanted. Sure enough within a few moments there was definite movement against his hand.
"See, she's strong," Dana said excitedly.
"She is," Callen agreed. He glanced at Sofia. "She? Are we sure?"
"Just a mother's instinct," Sofia replied. Callen wasn't sure which mother Sofia was referring to but it didn't matter. He'd trust them.
Callen looked back to Dana. "I'm going to be well and truly outnumbered aren't I?"
"You know you'll love it," Sofia said.
Callen glanced between them with a smile. "Of course," he agreed.
Dana's lips twitched. "Maybe we should get a dog," she said. "A cute little one."
Callen heard a smothered chuckle from behind him and knew Hetty was finding this amusing. So was he. Amusing and hopeful. Here was yet another sign that she was becoming more comfortable with him. This was the first time Dana had said anything remotely teasing to him
"How about a manly one?" Callen countered. "And definitely a boy."
"One like Monty." Dana had a cheeky twinkle in her eye to match her smile and Callen liked it. Such a different young girl to the one who had come home with them initially.
Kensi and Deeks had brought Monty with them the couple of times they'd been over to get to know Dana. The team had already been introduced to Dana during the time she'd been with them. It was perhaps a touch sooner than would've happened under normal circumstances, however Nate had suggested that giving Dana some security in knowing that there were other adults, particularly female ones, around that she could trust might help. It was something she hadn't had previously with the isolation of being shipped from home to home frequently and not being settled, not to mention those she had spoken to who hadn't believed her. Deeks' theory was that having Monty there might give Dana something other than another man around to focus on and make it easier for her to get to know him via Monty. Even though they obviously trusted the team, for now Sofia always made sure she was with Dana when the team was around. Sam had a similar idea and had brought Kamran with him in the hopes that her presence, and the evidence of trust between the two of them, might reassure Dana that Sam was someone she could trust. So far so good. Eric had had the least of an issue with Dana. Probably because he seemed that much closer in age and didn't appear at all threatening.
"Not like Monty," Callen said firmly. "I'm sure we can find something suitable." Callen glanced briefly down where Dana, surprisingly, still held his hand against her stomach and the slight activity that was continuing. "Not yet though. Let's get you settled with this little one before we add anymore."
Dana yawned and lifted her hand to cover her mouth, which left Callen's hand on her stomach. He removed it quickly so she wouldn't worry.
"I think perhaps it's time to get someone home to bed," Callen said to them both. He rose to his feet and held his hand out to Sofia, who happily put her hand in his and allowed him to pull her into his arms. "Us too," he whispered just loud enough for her to hear before he caught her lips in a brief yet heated kiss. It had been a long and exhausting day and he was looking forward to finishing it off on a very good note with Sofia - in private.
Callen looked down at Dana and held out his other hand, hoping she'd take it. Dana stared at it for a moment before she tentatively put her hand in his and smiled.
"Yeah," Dana said. "Let's go home."
And damn if that one little word didn't do things to Callen's heart that he hadn't expected. Home. She'd said home for the first time that he could recall. She was obviously getting more comfortable with him. That all added up to mean she was feeling safer and that was a big, and very important, step.
Callen helped Dana up carefully before they headed toward the front door and gathered their things. After saying good night and thanking Hetty for dinner, Sofia and Dana headed to the car but Callen lingered.
"Hetty, I'm a big boy. I can handle it." Hetty had hinted that it wasn't bad so there was really no reason for her to keep whatever it was about Dana from them.
Hetty looked up at him. "I am sure you can however it's complicated and may come as a bit of a shock."
"Very well." Hetty nodded slightly. "You knew Dana's grandfather."
Callen frowned. "Who?"
Callen slid into the driver's seat of the car and glanced back at Dana. She was strapped in safely, both hands rested protectively on her stomach. Her eyes were closed which gave him a chance to study her face to see if there was something of the man he'd known briefly a long time ago in it. But there wasn't. Either she didn't look like him or he couldn't remember Ilie well enough. Callen turned to look at Sofia and saw the questioning expression on her face.
"Mai târziu," Callen said quietly. "Hai acasă."
"Do you know you two do that pretty often." Dana's voice drifted quietly from the back seat.
"Do what?" Callen turned and looked at her. Her eyes were open now and he could see her brown eyes and one of his memories became clearer. She had the same eyes as Ilie; not the same shape, just colour.
"Speak another language."
Sofia shifted in her seat to turn and look at Dana as well. "I'm sorry Dana. We don't mean to."
"It's okay," Dana said. "I don't think you're trying to keep things from me. I don't think you even notice."
"You know Sofia and I were born in Romania," Callen said.
"Oh that's right. So, what did you say?"
"I said Later. Let's go home." Callen wondered if she'd heard Ilie speak it at all. "Would you like to learn it?"
Callen smiled. "Yes you. Then you'll know what we're saying if we forget."
"You want me to know?" Dana asked.
"We're not trying to keep secrets from you," Callen assured her. "It's just something that happens. We both know it well, we're used to speaking it with each other. Sometimes we slip into it without thinking." There was something special about talking with Sofia in the language they had first become friends in, almost like it made their connection stronger and, having lived alone with each other for so long, they hadn't really thought about how frequently they slipped into it.
Callen waited and watched as Dana looked thoughtful. Finally she smiled and said, "I'd like that."
"Try this one then. Micutul meu," Sofia said softly.
"Micutul meu," Dana repeated tentatively.
Sofia nodded. Callen saw Sofia blink rapidly and a shine in her eyes.
"What does it mean?" Dana asked.
Sofia smiled, a hint of sadness in it. "My little one," she replied before she turned and settled back into her seat.
Callen heard Dana repeat it softly and out of the corner of his eye saw her gently rub her stomach as she did.
Callen reached out, took Sofia's hand and brought it to his lips. She looked at him, the shine still there. "Te iubesc," he said.
Sofia smiled and the sadness slipped from her eyes. "Love you too. Take us home."
Callen watched from the doorway as Sofia helped settle Dana comfortably in her bed. Over the last few weeks Sofia and Dana had created a safe, comforting, quiet bedroom for Dana. A place of her own that would help calm and comfort her. The colours were gentle and the room uncluttered yet cozy. Currently it was softly lit by the flower night light on the bedside table that cast a warm yellow glow over the room. Dana's fear of the dark was something they would deal with in time but for now, the light plus the string of fairy lights that they had put over her desk, ones that she could turn on with a remote control if she needed more through the night, was enough to help her cope at this point. There were more important things at the top of the list that needed to be dealt with first.
"Night Dana," Callen said.
Dana looked at Sofia who nodded just a little which put Callen's senses on alert. Something was up between them. Dana looked over to him.
"Callen," Dana said, "Can I talk to you?" Callen noted the hint of nervousness in her voice.
"I'll wait outside," Sofia said. Dana nodded.
This was new. Dana voluntarily alone with him.
Sofia rose from the bed and walked toward him, a reassuring look on her face. The back of her hand brushed his when she moved by him and out the door, which she left open.
"Please," Dana said, "will you sit?" Callen moved slowly to sit at the end of her bed where Dana had pointed.
Instead of staying where she was laying down, Dana sat up. Her fingers in her lap fiddled with the covers as she watched them rather than look at him. Callen waited patiently.
"Thank you," Dana said.
Callen her head voice catch just a touch. "For?"
"Today. You …" Dana took a slow breath. "You … I mean no one has … I just …" Dana groaned, her frustration clear to Callen in the sound.
"Hey," Callen said. "It's okay. Take your time."
Dana looked up at him finally and Callen saw tears in her eyes. "No one's protected me before like you did today. Not that I can remember anyway." Dana's voice was barely above a whisper. "He was there and looking at me and I felt so scared and … and like I was the one who'd done something wrong." The words were tumbling out now and Callen continued to be patient. "And then you were there, between us and he … He looked so scared and so small and pathetic. You didn't even say anything and yet I felt … so much safer and not so scared."
Today had been a hard day on them all. Dana had to go through what had happened to her with the judge and unexpectedly her former foster father, though Callen hated referring to him that way, with the help of a shady lawyer, had managed to find an obscure loophole that allowed him to be in the room too. Callen had been furious, Dana's lawyer as well. The two of them had fought hard to get around it but hadn't been successful. Even though the judge had been on their side, the law had been upheld. Hetty had now put out feelers to get the loophole changed though it wouldn't help Dana, but hopefully it would save others going through the same thing. Sofia had spent some time calming Dana before they had come back in to talk to the judge. Callen had called Sam to get him to come and wait outside because Callen honestly hadn't trusted himself not to do something he probably shouldn't.
He'd controlled himself, but only just.
When Callen had seen the look in the man's eye when he had stared at Dana - in a way that no man should look at a child - Callen had felt his blood boil. He'd shifted to put himself between the two of them as much as he could and then hadn't let his eyes leave the pathetic excuse for a man until the whole thing was over, trusting that Sofia would be able to comfort Dana and help her get through the questions. The fact that Sofia had seen Dana's memories was a blessing in that moment because it gave Dana someone to depend on who knew, without any doubt, what had happened to her.
"I can be scary when I have to be," Callen said gently.
"Why?" Dana asked him, the confusion clear on her face. "Why did you do that? You barely know me."
Callen held himself still as the strong urge to move close and pull this child, and yes she was still a child even if she was soon to be a mother, into his arms flooded him. The first answer that came to mind wasn't one he felt was right for now - Your grandfather showed me long ago what was right. The rest of his answers though were ones he could.
"Many reasons," Callen told her. "One, you're ours now." Hetty had fast tracked the adoption, how he didn't know, and it was completed the previous week. She was officially theirs. "Protection is a given," Callen continued, "to both of you. Get used to it. Two, you are just a child and deserve to have someone to protect you. And three," Callen smiled, "It's what I do and I'm pretty good at what I do."
A tear slipped down Dana's cheek.
"Dana, you're not alone anymore. We'll always protect you."
"What if something happens to you too?" Dana whispered. "Like my parents? What if I'm..." More tears fell.
This time Callen did shift. He didn't pull her into his arms but moved close enough to hold out his hand to her. Dana put hers into his with less hesitation than earlier this evening. His fingers closed around her much smaller ones. "If that happens," Callen said, "and I promise we'll do everything we can to make sure it doesn't, it's not just Sofia and I who are looking out for you. You'll be taken care of, both of you."
Dana swiped away the tears from her cheeks with her free hand and nodded. Sensing she was done Callen squeezed her hand gently, let it go and stood up.
"Get some sleep. It's been a big day." Callen turned and walked to the door but before he had taken more than four steps, there was movement behind him. He turned to find Dana almost crash into him and wrap her small arms around him. It was the first time she'd hugged him.
"Night," Dana whispered before she let go and hurried back to bed. It had been so quick Callen hadn't even had a chance to put his arms around her. Another big step forward.
"Night." Callen closed the door carefully and took a breath. Sofia was standing there across from Dana's door waiting for him with tears in her eyes. She reached out, took his hand and led him to their bedroom across the hall. Callen shut the door behind them and turned to her.
"I didn't think it was possible," Sofia said quietly as she put her arms around his neck and one of his went around her waist, "to fall more deeply in love with you than I already was but that's twice today I've had it happen."
Callen pulled her closer, the feel her against him, in his arms, soothed the heartache from today but at the same time created a need and heat within him that he was more than happy to explore after the day they'd had. He slid a hand into Sofia's hair and tilted her head back slightly to open up her neck. "And what exactly did I do to have that happen?" He trailed kisses from her shoulder to her neck. "Just so I can make sure I continue to do it."
"What you did earlier for Dana in that room with that … man. And just now with her."
Sofia shifted her head and caught his lips with hers. The warmth of her lips, the taste of her, her body softening into his and the emotion he could feel she was pouring into it almost made Callen forgot what they were talking about.
He pulled back and gently ran his thumb over her bottom lip. "Maybe you should show me how deep you're in now."
Sofia smiled and started to guide him back toward their bed. "Very happy to." They tumbled onto it and Sofia ended up on top. She smiled down at him. "You have tomorrow off right?" she asked.
Callen raised an eyebrow. He kept his gaze on her face as she unbuttoned his shirt. "You know I do." He hadn't been sure how things would go today and had made sure he was going to be free if either of his girls needed him. "What are you planning?" The buttons were finished, the shirt pushed open and she was dusting feather-light kisses over his chest.
"It's going to take me a long time." Her breath as she spoke heated his skin, "to make sure I show you exactly how deep I've fallen." Callen tugged her back up for proper kiss as his fingers found the zip on her dress and slid it down. With a sneaky shift, Callen had her dress down to her waist and then flipped her before he repeated the many small kisses over the parts of her skin that were bare as she had done to him.
"Don't mind if I show you too do you?"
"No," Sofia whispered, "go right ahead." Callen shifted back up her body and caught her lips in a fiery kiss that stopped suddenly when Sofia pulled back with a gasp.
"Very well." Hetty nodded slightly. "You knew Dana's grandfather."
Callen frowned. "Who?"
Sofia stared at Callen. Her heart pounded in her chest as her mind struggled to comprehend what she'd just seen.
"Ilie? … Dana?"
Sofia heard the groan and saw the small smile of acceptance even though there was a touch of disappointment on Callen's face. Sometimes her gift didn't have the greatest timing and it tended to make itself known more when there was a lot of emotion happening. Today had been full to bursting with it. Callen brushed a soft kiss over her lips, the contact reassuring that he truly didn't mind, even if he, and she, didn't like the interruption.
"If you've seen what I think you did, probably should talk first." Callen rolled over and pulled her into his arms.
"I'm sorry," Sofia whispered as she settled against his body. She rested her head on his shoulder, her hand over his heart, feeling that steady reassuring beat that she felt she could recognise even if she didn't know it was him.
"It's okay. We'll get back this soon enough."
Sofia lifted her head to look at him. "Ilie's her grandfather?" Callen nodded. "How?" She remembered his memory so clearly. This knife sticking out of Ilie's chest, him falling to the sand. She didn't understand.
"He survived. From what Hetty's discovered, a nurse found him in time, got him to the hospital. He almost died a few times but fought through. He was there for almost two months before he discharged himself. After that there's no trace of him in Romania."
"Is she sure it was him?" It was so hard to believe and she was fighting against that hope that she knew if she let free would be so painful if it wasn't true.
Callen nodded. "Nell's been looking into it for her and Nell's ninety five percent certain."
"And since Nell's ninety five would be someone else's hundred and fifty." Sofia knew Nell. She knew Hetty too and Hetty knew that giving Callen this information would be guaranteed to get back to her. She also knew neither woman would want to give her that kind of hope that someone from her childhood had actually survived that tragedy. And so she let the hope blossom.
Callen tucked her hair behind her ear, his fingers warm against her skin. "Yeah. We're sure."
Sofia frowned. "Dana was born here right?"
Callen nodded. "It seems Ilie fell in love and married his nurse. From what Nell can find they came here about three months after he left the hospital. She found records of a nurse at a small hospital outside of New York with an Americanised version of her name. Husband went by the name Alan. She can't find any records of them before that even though there are birth and marriage certificates that say they were born here."
Sofia rested her head back on his shoulder. "Why was Hetty looking for him?"
"She started thinking after she semi-retired." Sofia felt a slight rumble from Callen's chest as he chuckled softly. "Think she got bored," he said. "There were things that happened to me, after we told her what we knew, that bothered her and then she finally had some time to look into it. There's no mention of a man being found stabbed from the investigation into the deaths on the beach that day. Only two bodies; my mother's and the shooter's. It was wrapped up as a murder suicide. The hospital records show it was the nurse Ilie married who brought him in. It's taken Nell a while to find their trail, confirm it and what happened. She found some medical records on Alan that mention the scar and the damage to the ribs from the knife that didn't heal properly. Nell kept following the trail and that was how Hetty eventually found Dana."
Sofia pushed herself up from his arms and stared at him. There was a lump in her throat that she struggled to get the words past as the possibilities ran through her mind. "You mean if Hetty hadn't been looking Dana would still be…"
Sofia felt the warmth and firmness of Callen's finger on her lips. Her words stopped.
Callen shook his head. "No if's. She's safe now."
Sofia nodded and let out the breath she'd been holding. His finger lingered briefly on her lips before he moved it away.
"Ilie had a daughter," Callen continued. "Dana's mother."
"He had a family of his own." Sofia smiled. The man who had treated her like a daughter, been there for both her and her father had finally found his way to be a father of his own child. She knew he and Ana had wanted children but it wasn't meant to be. "I know," she said softly, "he would've made a great father."
"Fi, there's more." Callen sat up and moved closer to her. Sofia felt a shiver of fear shift through her. The look in his eye, the closeness, the physical connection that he created with his touch. She knew him and she knew from his actions that she wasn't going to like this next part.
"It was Ilie, his wife, Dana's mother and father that were all killed in the accident."
Sofia frowned and waited, knowing Callen well enough that there was more because that in itself wasn't enough to put the concern on his face. She already knew a car crash had left Dana alone.
"The accident happened two days after Gregory's." Callen's voice was soft, full of concern and care, but it didn't help because the pain came anyway as the implications of his words screamed in her mind and broke her heart again.
"What?" Sofia shifted away from him and stood up. Her dress slipped to her feet and she stepped out of it before she turned to face him. She watched Callen rise from the bed and move toward her. She took a step back and shook her head to stop him reaching out.
"No please," she begged. "I need you to tell me. I don't want to see." Sofia knew that right now was a prime moment for her to see something and she didn't think she could handle the words coming from someone else. She needed them from him. His voice, his eyes, the comfort and security that he gave her. The knowledge that if it all became too much all she had to do was ask him to stop. She didn't have that kind of control when the memories descended; then she was only along for the ride until it ended, wherever that was.
"Nell believes they're connected."
"Why? How?" Sofia shook her head and spoke before he could answer here, denial flooding through her strongly. "No ... No ... It was just an accident. They never found the car. It had to have been. They wouldn't target an innocent -" A sob ripped through her and her body shook. "What am I saying. It's the Comescus'. Of course they would."
Callen stepped closer but stopped before he touched her. Sofia knew exactly what he was doing and her heart swelled with love for him. He knew her so well. He was putting himself right there so that when she was ready for him she could reach out and he'd be there. All she'd have to do would be lift her hand. Not even take a step.
"From what Nell found in the reports," Callen continued, "she's concluded that the car that hit them was the same one as the one that hit your father and Gregory. There's enough to convince her of that."
Sofia's throat was so tight her voice was barely audible to her own ears, yet he heard her. "Did the police find it?"
Callen nodded. "Witnesses reported that his car ran into a truck that came around the corner after he'd forced the car Dana's mother was driving off the road and down a ravine."
Sofia's hand went to her mouth to stifle a sob. "No." She shook her head. "It was just supposed to be an accident." And even as she said the words she knew they weren't true. It hadn't been. "Papa wouldn't believe it was anything else."
"Fi," Callen continued, "there was damage on the car that wasn't from the second accident. Damage that matches in with Gregory's. And the driver's body was identified. He worked for a company that had ties to the Comescus."
Sofia reached for him, the need for the comfort he could give her too strong to hold back anymore. In an instant his arms were around her and she was held right where she felt safest. "You're instincts were right Fi," Callen murmured into her hair. "They always were."
Sofia lifted her head and looked into his eyes. "They found us, but they didn't come back again."
"Nell has a theory. She thinks that he was planning to come back again to you, to finish ... but obviously didn't make it."
"Why didn't someone else come?" The warmth from Callen's body was seeping into Sofia's; calming her, easing the pain that was still searing her heart with the confirmation that her bright and caring little boy had indeed been murdered.
"Nell thinks he was waiting to have completed the job before he reported back. That he didn't want to tell them he'd failed, even if it was in a small way. It's just a theory. We're not likely to find anything else out." Callen's fingers were gentle when he reached up to brush the tears from her cheeks. "At least now we know."
Sofia nodded and tilted her head into the palm of his hand. "Is this ever going to end with them?" she asked.
"It's over Fi. It's over. We just may not know everything they did yet." Callen's hands cupped the back of her head, his thumbs brushed her cheeks as his lips moved softly over hers. A reassuring touch reminding her that he was there for her. He lifted his head and smiled, his hands still comfortingly warm as they held her head. "And now Dana has us," Callen added. "Now I can pay back Ilie for what he did for my family by protecting his."
Sofia bit her lip before she smiled. "I guess that's one way to look at it." Not that Ilie would ever have done anything with the expectation of payback. "Though you didn't know that when you protected Dana this morning did you?" He wouldn't have needed to. Sofia knew that. She looked into his eyes and saw what she always saw when she looked beyond the blue and deep into his soul. The man she loved - loyal, strong and courageous. A protector right through to the very core of who he was.
"No. Hetty only told me tonight. She also said the world works in mysterious ways."
Sofia chuckled softly. "Hetty works in mysterious ways. She knew this when she asked us to take her in did she?" She knew Callen had suspected for some time that there had been more to Dana's story but had accepted that Hetty would tell them when she felt it was the right time to do. No doubt Hetty hadn't wanted to tell until they were sure of everything.
"We're more family than we realised," Sofia said. The twists and turns that all their lives had taken had eventually led them to each other, to what they all needed.
Callen smiled. "Always will be."
Callen's hands left her face and Sofia instantly missed the warmth and connection that touch had given. It returned quickly when his fingers trailed gently up her spine. She felt the hooks on her bra release with the practiced ease of his fingers. The heat from earlier flowed back through her body, pushing away the pain. The desire in his look, the love in his eyes and that special half smile he knew sent her thoughts in this direction whenever he used it, had her passion rising again. His fingers left a trail of heat on her shoulders as he nudged the straps down and discarded her bra absently on the floor. Before Sofia knew it Callen had tumbled them back onto the bed, in a way she had never figure out how he did - he never squashed her, always kept his weight off her even though he kept the contact between their bodies. Not once had he ever hurt her with the move. He looked down at her and she reached her hand up to cup his face. Her thumb brushed over the slight whiskers on his cheeks; the rough familiarity to it both comforting and arousing. Callen's hand slowly moved from her hip lightly over her skin to her waist and then higher. Her eyes drifted closed. When he stopped it was her turn to groan in frustration. Sofia opened her eyes to see the smile on his face that said he knew exactly what she wanted and what it was doing to her that he wasn't there … yet. So much promise in them. He lowered his head and brushed a kiss over her lips as his hand started to move again, ever so slowly.
"Now," Callen whispered against her ear before he trailed a line of hot kisses down her neck. "Where were we?"