"All teams, check in" Grace requested, as she watched from Mobile ops
"Tac1 in position"
"Waiting on your go, G" Wilson informed over the comms
"All Teams…. Move in. You have a go"
Plenty of activity as she watched the video feeds being transmitted from the body cams. The teams blocked exit points, stopping squirters from being able to escape.
Grace listened to the various teams over the comms and watched, looking for anything she could use as the teams started to clear the building. It seemed to be taking forever… Thermal checks had been inconclusive; the building was either insulated or had one hell of a heating system…
Grace wasn't used to sitting on the side lines on one of these ops. She needed to be out there… in the thick of it. She hadn't spent the last few years operating from a point of safety. She had always been on the front lines, often literally, such as when she'd been deployed on operations with marine fire teams and special forces operations, she couldn't imagine sitting at a desk… she wasn't a bureaucrat. Until she was.
When Hetty started getting on in years, to the extent that she was no longer physically able to face the trek into OSP multiple times a week, she had positioned Grace to officially oversee OSP operations, rather than run things from the shadows. Hetty had long known that Callen wasn't the same as he had been… he wanted to be somewhere else, Hetty knew she needed someone who wouldn't hand over control of OSP to someone specified by SECNAV, where politics would ultimately control the direction that the branch would take.
"…Get out. It's going to blow!" was heard over the comms just before several massive explosions went off.
Grace didn't know what she was meant to do… in the end she did what she knew she shouldn't do. She pulled off her headset, throwing it at one of her operators, and slipped her comms in her ear
"Radio check. Anyone that can hear me, sound off" she ordered, panicking, as she left the van and jumped into a nearby car. Starting the engine she put the car in drive and set off down the road to where her teams had been.
She was lucky no one had been killed. More than a few had suffered burns, a few had suffered concussions as the explosions launched them headfirst into walls, or had ceilings come down on them
She had put a call into the NCIS field office in San Diego, and even the LAPD for personnel to search the building remains for any bodies, or even just anything she could use to find Mike. The SAC at San Diego had got a bit snotty at the request, feeling that her people shouldn't be getting used for what she perceived to be OSP playing 'cops and robbers'. Grace wasn't going to put a call into HQ about it… 'What goes around, comes around'. The day would come when Special Agent Mosley would need back up, and while Grace told herself she would hang up on her, she knew she wouldn't… Grace knew the camaraderie, that should have been at the core of every team, would never allow Grace to turn her back on her NCIS 'brothers and sisters', no matter how big an ass hat their boss was. LAPD on the other hand had assured her they would have two teams sent over ASAP…
Grace knew enough to get the team started. The team members that weren't being treated for burns and concussions, were put to work sweeping the debris for any remains.
About an hour later the first of LAPD's crime scene techs arrived and assisted in the search.
"Ma'am?… Special Agent Smith! I think we have something here" one of the LAPD techs called out. Grace immediately rushed over, hoping beyond hope that they hadn't found Mike's remains.
Grace had been waiting for the test results, aiming to find out who's remains they had recovered. She had refused to leave the morgue until she knew who it had been… Kens had shown up, offering to wait with Grace, or let Grace go grab a few hours of shut eye. Grace thanked Kensi, but she knew Kensi never really expected for Grace to leave. She was too invested. Kensi had waited with Grace for a few hours, before she started yawning and leaning over against Grace.
She, quietly, fired a text off to Deeks, asking him to come collect Kensi and take her home. After Deeks had picked her up and taken her home, Sydney arrived and sat at the other end of the bench in the hallway… clearly Deeks agreed with Kensi, that Grace shouldn't be alone at this time, and had called Syd
"Come on, it's just how you like it…" Sydney offered as she slid a bag of takeaway towards Grace
"Where's Jake?" Grace asked, trying to make conversation as she rooted around in the bag of takeaway
"Your nan has him. I don't like having his other grandparents in our house…"
Grace slid the bag back along the bench towards Sydney, having picked out what she wanted, indicating for her aunt to have something to eat too
She unwrapped the burger and took a bite, before letting out a pleased sigh
"You know how hard it is to get a good burger on an aircraft carrier? It's like trying to win the lottery, everyone wants a bit… you have to be quick or you're getting some sort of meat mush soaked in gravy. Mind you, at least you can occasionally get a beef burger there… no chance of that in the middle east" she added before taking another bite
"Is it him… I mean that's why you're sitting here, right?"
Grace looked round at her aunt
"Come on, one of us had to mention him…" Sydney added
"I don't know…" grace replied gently shaking her head as she spoke "…I don't know what I'll do, if it is him, I mean" Grace turned her head away from her aunt, trying to hide the tears that were starting to prick her eyes, she coughed, trying to clear her throat and hide the deep emotion. "Did Deeks tell you?" She asked
"About your 'deal with the devil'…? yeah he told me. You know, I tried numerous times to visit her after you … well, after we lost you. I thought we could bond… The last time I saw her, she was so bitter. Blaming anyone and everyone for what happened. She wouldn't accept any blame for her part… it was my fault that she couldn't see Jake grow up. It was Mike's fault for keeping you away from her those previous few years, It was your dad's fault for... Look, I know your mom is far from innocent… I can't forgive her for the things that happened to you, while she hid you away from us, but she's still my sister…I miss not seeing her. But the truth is… she took too many risks after you were born. I mean for fuck sake, she took you on board a ship, where people had been killed… and your dad, where he'd been abducted. She was so in love with your dad… she couldn't stand to keep you apart"
"Syd… Please, don't. I know what happened. I know the risks she took when we were taken into WITSEC. I used to have this dream… years back, that I later found out was a repressed memory. I must have been only a few years old, but I… Someone was hurting mom. I worked with this psychologist for a while after I moved up north… anyway, he helped me focus on that. It was dad that was hurting her… Never touched me. Then there was this one day where mom had rushed home, and he was carrying me into the apartment. I saw another man there, who looked like the guy that was hurting her. Then I was in a church with mom, and... I didn't know why we were there. It was empty… mostly. And one of them, dad, was there… I asked her who he was, and she told me it was my father, and he'd lost someone very important to him. Everything changed after that… You know, when I was up there… not long after I met Vic, Gran granted me access to the team's personnel records, after action reports etc… it was then that I got all these answers. Everything made sense. We went into WITSEC so we didn't get split up from dad… yet a few months later, she just got involved with this stranger. She chose a stranger… fast forward a few years and she did it again… she chose Eric over Dad. I mean, I knew things weren't 100% right between Her and dad… When I flew back to LA with Sam and Mike, I had to go through debriefings, questions after questions. I can't forgive mom for the things that happened to me while I was with her and Eric… I guess that's why I ran away, and when I found that gun… I… I so desperately wanted to hurt him. I wanted to KILL him… I mean I pulled the trigger. I guess, in a way, I was lucky that all that happened to Eric was a basic through and through. I'd have been locked up for the rest of my life otherwise… It was then… I was sitting in the back of Mike's car, watching him shout at some cop and a guy from the FBI. He said nothing would happen to me… he put me and my needs, above his own. I spoke to gran… and that's when all this started. I so wish I could put all the blame for everything bad that happened to our family on Eric Beale. But… I Can't" Grace rambled, changing subjects with no notice or obvious leaping points.
"Hey… You know, you always have me. I'm not going anywhere" Syd explained, trying to comfort Grace "that's never going to change." She continued, reaching her hand over to rest on Grace's arm "Mike… when he found you, he was so furious about what Hetty had done to you. But he was so fucking proud of what you chose to do with your life, even after all the obstacles you faced" she continued
"I knew Vic would call Mike… after she found the baby. I knew you'd give her a good home, even if you were already raising one kid that wasn't yours. I also knew that Mike wouldn't just hand her over to protective services. You know her birth…" Grace blurted out before stopping and coughed, having started to well up "… on her birth certificate. I put you guys as her parents"
"yeah. I know. I may not be as good at it as your mom… but I know my way about computer networks too" she replied before kind of giving a gentle laugh, before wiping her sleeve over her eyes to wipe away the tears she could feel pricking. "you want to tell me what happened?"
"the kid?" Grace asked, knowing that was what her aunt was asking "I wanted to tell Mike, but I wasn't ready and he'd already made his mind up and bolted. Yeah the guy raped me, but I got my justice… I chemically castrated him, and made sure what he did to me was done to him…"
Syd and Grace had sat there talking for hours… as the evening moved on, Syd started to slouch, gradually slipping further and further down until she was eventually laying down on the bench with her head in Grace's lap. Grace didn't seem to move at all, according to the morgue staff who had been up and down the corridor during the night. Around 0600 the next morning, one of the medical examiners came out to speak to Grace, apparently being more than a little surprised that Grace looked fresh as a daisy, while he looked like death warmed up after a 8 hour shift… little did he know that Grace had been up, and active, for over 26 hours at this point. She gently lifted her aunt's head and slid herself out from under Syd. So she could speak to the ME without disturbing Syd.
"I've had confirmation that the body LAPD discovered is not Special Agent Renko. The body was already dead before the building collapsed"
Grace could see the relief on the faces of a handful of the OSP agents, especially Kensi, Sam and Deeks.
"YOU BETTER COME UP WITH SOMETHING, OR I'LL HAPPILY SEND YOU BOTH TO THE DEEPEST DARKEST PIT YOU CAN POSSIBLY IMAGINE!" screamed Grace as she launched her mug of coffee across the cabin.
Grace's people had seen her in all sorts of states over the last few years, she had easily gotten into both the 'good cop' & the 'Bad cop' roles with suspects. What made this different was that this was with her own flesh and blood.
They all knew enough about what had gone down with Grace, her mom and her stepdad. There was a lot that had been redacted, that she wouldn't talk about. She had always been there to support them, but it was more of a one-way street…
Nell and Grace had been trading barbs for a while now. Eric had tried to remain out of it… having known first hand what Grace was capable of doing. It was, after-all, the reason that he had lost some of the muscle strength in one of his arms. He had just been lucky that, till that day, she'd not had any experience handling a handgun.
Grace started walking away, frustrated at her mom
"Jay…Either of them move from their seat, without permission, I want you to put a 'slug' in their arm" she instructed one of her best people "…or let me know. I'll be happy to do it"
"...and mom, if you think I'm bluffing… ask your husband just what I'm capable of doing, when I put my mind to it" she added, tossing the comment in the air, leaving the implications hanging in the air
Grace had been at her desk for the better part of the last 8 days. She didn't even leave the office to sleep.
"She needs to go home"
"yeah" Sam said concerned, as he looked up into the cube
Sam and Deeks had been keeping an eye on her, whenever not checking on Eric and Nell.
Kensi hadn't been on site for over a week by this point, having been told to stay home, as she got closer to her due date… but she had been hounding the boys, by phone, for the last few days, demanding regular updates. But even then, Kensi wasn't happy with their lack of action.
Deeks' phone chirped again
"Kens?" Sam asked, briefly glancing over at Deeks
"Yeah" Deeks sighed after checking his watch "You know, When I was checking on the meerkats the other day, I overheard them talking about something Grace said"
Sam had moved off, starting back to OPS, hoping someone would have an update. Deeks followed after Sam "Apparently Grace threatened to shoot them. You don't think she would actually do that, do you?"
Sam didn't really have to even think about the answer "They abducted her, held her for years. She tried to kill Eric. You really think she wouldn't!?"
The 'mission' had emptied as the day shift had started heading home, and the night shift were just starting to filter in.
Grace had waited till Sam and Deeks had headed home before she left her office… not venturing any further than the armoury.
She spent over an hour cleaning her SIG, before she moved through to the firing range. For as long as she could remember, since being trained, she always managed to remain in control when handling her service weapon… but on this occasion, she was worked up, and the targets paid for that… Grace had spent so long picturing Eric's face on the targets, it was second nature to her. She could fire with her eyes closed and she was certain that she'd still be hitting the target…
She had emptied a few mags and was about to return to the armoury to adjust the sight on her SIG when she caught sight of a pair of agents stroll past the window, while gossiping.
"…and she's talking like she's an actual SAC"
"yeah, and what's her obsession with Renko. Agency's better without him"
Grace slipped out of the armoury and headed back to her office, knowing it would be ill advised to face the pair of agents while she was thinking what she was thinking.
She had left the Mission to head over and see how her aunt was doing… she knew what it was like to be apart from someone you love, but Syd was wrangling 2 kids while dealing with her own fears for Mike. Grace had just pulled up outside Syd's place when her phone started chirping excitedly. She reached into her pocket and pulled it out, checking what the issue was… it was what she'd spent years seeking…
The engine had only just been switched off when Grace started it back up and sped off.
"Quick, before they come back!" Eric whispered, conscious of the armed agents