Boulevard of Broken Dreams
Here it is – the final chapter of this storyline. To me, it fits with CBS' announcement to end NCIS Los Angeles. My story, however, won't end with a bang, nor with a too sweet thing either, which would not fit me. Still, I feel double sad: the ending of 14 seasons of my favorite show ánd the ending of this storyline. Probably the final time that I wrote a NCIS LA story too. Feel really sad about that as well…
Never mind, for those that enjoyed reading #Callen centered stories, it can be read over and over again. Please, do leave me a review, for this final time.
He knew his friend never was thoughtless or acted careless on purpose. Reckless, sure, but always because he was aware that with his actions he could save other people or prevent others being at risk. Yes, Callen was willing to take risks but only if those were necessary. Calculated risks only though.
Los Angeles || April 10 || 10:07 AM
Callen gratefully sipped from a cup of hot coffee. He had welcomed a warm shower earlier on, after which Anna changed the bandages, and now he felt like a real human being again.
With a healthy appetite he took the final bites from the toast with omelets that Anna served. Although she was no natural talent when it came to cooking, she'd managed to make him an easy and light breakfast.
He got on his feet and put the plate on the counter top.
"Makes me feel human again," Callen said, taking the final sip from his coffee.
"Everything better than trying to be super-human," she replied with a soft smile as she joined him.
It felt relaxed, softly resting her head against his chest, her hands around a coffee mug herself. "You know, I'm so glad you feel better, Callen," she added with a sigh.
There was no way to describe how happy she was right now.
A full night sharing the bed with her love next to her, followed with an early morning shared shower. And now, sharing the few square inches in the kitchen, feeling his hand getting tangled in her hair, his soft breathing in her neck.
If only it could stay like this...
Without talking, Callen sensed something she was going through that was left unspoken and asked "When do you have to leave?"
She craned her neck to face him. "How do you know?"
The message had been on her phone and only since the screen of her phone lit up when dressing after the shower, she'd noticed.
"Maybe I've got some supernatural talents after all," Callen tried to quip. He pulled her closer and pressed his lips on hers. When he let go, he said "Anna, I felt it. It's your body language."
She nodded. "They need me to be back in six hours from now. Which means I'll have only one hour left to pack some clean clothes and go to the airport. And you can't drive me, so I need to call in a cab. Or an Uber, whatever. Feels like... well, like I'm torn between a job too far from here, and wanting to stay."
"Staying to take care of me? There's no need, Anna, and you know that."
She understood. "You've got Sam, I get that. Promise me you don't do anything stupid, Callen."
Gently he placed his hand under her chin, so he knew for sure that she caught his words and how he felt. "Never, Anastasia, would I do anything stupid and risk losing what we have. Perhaps the two of us should find out a very different kind of future that lies ahead."
He paused a moment, gathering his thoughts of the past few days. He scraped his throat before he uttered for the very first time: "I'm talking about a future outside the agency. Outside any agency at all. No more NCIS, or anything in this alphabet soup of federal agencies. Maybe even escape this city, Anna, you and I. Think of it. I mean, I could be a private investigator. Or try and start farming."
A large smile appeared on her face, partly because of his sincere message but also because the thought of Callen on a tractor somewhere in Nebraska. "Seriously?"
"I AM serious about it, Anna. Let your thoughts go over it when you're on your way to the bush-bush in the middle of no-where."
Her large eyes were fixed on his blue ones.
"Think of it," he repeated. "There's nothing I want more than being with you. Living a quieter life, in a healthy environment. Maybe even get Sam to be an uncle in future time..."
"Oh..." Tears welled up in her eyes.
Before she could really reply, a series of knocks on the door sounded. And now that she recognized what Callen had told her before, she knew. "Speaking of the man himself… "
"Sam, the man!"
Callen opened the door himself perhaps a bit too cheerful and glancing around in the room, Sam felt he had interrupted something special. He didn't feel like pressing, however, knowing his friend would share at a time he was ready to.
Los Angeles, NCIS LA Headquarters || April 10 || 15:20 PM
Only a few hours later, Sam re-entered the building through the massive wooden doors, followed by Roundtree and Deeks. The case they'd worked on had been an easy one and the three of them still were relaxed. Fatima would start from the headquarters again in the next week, after being pampered by her parents, whereas Kensi had planned a shopping session with Rosa.
From where Sam was standing, it took him one glance at his partner for years and easily sensed Callen's mood; a mix between being bored and a tad withdrawn, perhaps even disinterested.
He figured his usual partner was tired after these few hours of office duties, which didn't surprise him. But then, Callen had had more moments like this — coming back from some medical trouble.
From what Sam remembered Callen always had been eager to handle cases, even from the office, feeling annoyed because he couldn't join the team in the field and grateful to meet them once they got back. Far from what he showed today.
"G... you good?"
The response was short, predictable to Sam. He nodded, halted Roundtree and handed the young agent his gear bag. "Take that with yours, will you?"
And then: "Hey Marty, if you do the report thing, then I'll drive Callen back home."
His friend rolled back his desk chair with a deep sigh. During the past hours, Callen had been thinking. But discussing anything between the walls of the office where he'd been working with his team was too far from comfortable. Walls had ears, and there was no way he wanted to have any of the personnel overhear what he had to say.
Minutes later, Sam let the Challenger roll back from the small parking. Once he approached the first traffic lights, Callen started talking. "Take the Marina Freeway, and the 405, will you, Sam."
"Cause I need you to listen. You know, I've been thinking. Thinking a lot, actually."
Despite Callen's seriously spoken words, Sam tried "You mean that was a possibility, with that head of yours?"
He hummed , was silent for another minute before he started again. "About those plans you made, having me as the chosen one who handles the team from withing the office."
"We talked about that, didn't we? Or did you forget?"
"So?" Sam wanted to know.
"So, I've been rethinking it. You know…. I've always loved my job, doing what we've been doing. Still, well, life is temporary and short, but you and I already know. In our line of work, we live every day as our last."
He paused a moment, knowing Sam thought about Michelle, as he did himself.
"And I… well, I think I just want to live while I'm alive. Not gonna live forever. Instead, we could die young." Callen chuckled softly. "Though I get it, the youngsters laugh behind my back and call me old."
By now, Sam got the feeling that his friend's words were going in a certain direction, one he may not really like.
The focus was on the road for the minutes none of them spoke. Then Callen gave new directions.
"Take the Ten East."
Although he did not ask questions about why taking this route, Sam wondered what his friend had in mind. understood. "It's about Anna, right?"
"Among other things, yes," Callen said. "I mean, we'd both be safe once I'd choose a desk job and with her job right now. But being bored to death inside an office, behind desk is not what I look forward to. It'll never be the same as being out there in the streets. The adrenaline, being there, like now, with you. I guess I know by now that I'm no Hetty or Gibbs. So I've been thinking... There's got to be more than that."
Sam chuckled. "Like I said, it's about Anna. C'mon, G, it's about being happy, together. I get that. We've had this conversation before, I'm pretty sure. About you retiring and getting a hobby. Build things and playing golf and so on."
"But what, G?"
He hesitated a moment. "Making fun of it is one thing. Being serious about it is another. You get what this means, don't you big guy?"
Sam glanced at his partner next to him, who appeared to be in a complete different mood than he understood and he dreaded the upcoming explanation of his best friend.
Callen finally said. "I'll complete one or two more missions, then I'm out, Sam. It's time to go and explore a new life. One without NCIS or any agencies. We're going to find us a place somewhere on this planet to start over. You see, I wonder why I should put myself through the many more lies, fights and sleepless nights when there should be more of life ahead. Sharing a life that is new to us, while we can."
Both men let their thoughts go over these words. When Sam and Michelle once made a decision to explore how a career could be combined with parenthood, they were younger and expecting to have a different future lying ahead.
The same was more or less going on right now with Kensi and Deeks. The uncertainty how a day could end, with bullets flying, could kill a relationship. Once there were children, a family, things changed so much more.
However, Sam never expected that his friend would make a decision like he now mentioned.
Softer now, Callen added "You know Sam, I think you're the one who ought to take over the position of Hetty in the end."
Los Angeles, Little Tokyo || Sakura Crossing
He'd guided Sam further to this place, showed him where to stop and how to reach the parking lot.
Still, he didn't really explain, all except the single line before he got out of the car. "Let me do the talking". Two beeps sounded as Sam closed the doors of the Challenger and the larger man followed his friend who walked towards a small, square office with windows in every four directions. He halted at the glass windowed door.
An older woman welcomed his friend with a kind of warmth that surprised Sam.
"Why, Mr. Clark. It's good to have you back". Her gaze went over Callen's companion. "And this is?"
"This is Sam," Callen said. "He's in my unit." He also introduces the older woman the other way around.
"Sam, this is Regina, concierge of this building." Then he explained: "Sam drove me this way. We've been... hunting for the past few days. And before we head back to Germany, I thought we'd take Ellie for dinner."
Regina shook her head. "I suppose she's in Phoenix already. She didn't call you to explain?"
Callen took his phone, checked the messages and stated, while slowly shaking his head "How stupid. No phone calls but she sent apps. Never checked them..." He looked up and said "Thanks, Regina."
"Isn't it great?" She beamed.
He nodded, absently, and was about to head up to the apartment when she stopped him with two words "Your mail!" She turned to a small cabinet and while her thick fingers went through the contents of a drawer, Regina addressed Sam. "You, young man, should know better then take Clark out to a hunting party. I mean, he ought to be in a better shape than this!"
She still shook her head when handing Callen three envelops.
Sam simply smiled and answered "There's nothing what a good night's sleep won't fix, miss Regina."
"Wanna tell me what's going on in here, G? Or should I call you Mr Clark?"
Callen understood how he'd left his friend puzzled. After all, Sam never knew about this place. He opened the door of his own place, dropped his bag next to the side table, took of his jacket and put it on his bag.
"Just take a seat, Sam. Want something to drink?"
He eyed his partner who decided to stay on his feet and who gazed over the neighboring buildings and the streets and alleys, then turned his attention to the place itself.
"Cozy," was all he said.
Callen hummed, agreeing. The place was really homelike. He'd put a lot of efford in that, once assuming Anna and he would spend some time in this place. Still, it was too long uninhabited, aside from the four days Elisabeth stayed in here.
Then Sam gestured at the mail. "Not gonna open that?"
"Nope. I know exactly what is in it, since I sent it myself. Gregg Clark doesn't really exist, you know. Still, the man has style."
His smile appeared nervous in Sam's opinion, who tried to figure out what went on in his friend's personal life and which things he'd kept secret from other people, even from him.
When Sam finally sat down, Callen got on his feet. He took two glasses and poured himself a Budweiser. "You want one?"
A nod came and so Callen handed him a bottle and a glass.
"Well?" Sam said.
"She didn't leave a message on my phone, Sam. The phone's dead, as a matter of fact. But should've shown Regina? Don't think so."
He sighed and opened the door to the bedroom and the annex bathroom. He kept explaining though, a bit louder than before: "I own this place. Bought it about two years ago. It's, well, consider it as some kind of safe house. You know, after I sold the former place because too many people knew how to find it I figured it could be the same for the apartment above the Squid and Dagger, once, despite the security measures and all. Then, with Katya going after Anna… I figured she and I might have to go in hiding. So, this is Gregg Clarks place. He's military, stationed in Rammstein, Germany. It explains why I hardly ever am around."
He was back in the living room where Sam stood again, instead of being seated.
"She went back to Phoenix indeed. Trying to find clues or evidence this guy Lupo may have left there." He sighed, handing his friend the handwritten message.
Sam read the short message.
"You won't find her name on the passenger lists of any of the airports. Nor on a list of car rentals either," Callen said, then sighed. "She probably avoids anything that'll require identification."
He read something in his friends eyes he didn't really recognize. "So, now what?"
Callen hesitated a moment and shrugged. "Actually, big guy, I'm done with it. I just want to put this behind me and move on. Guess it's the same for her. After all, she's got a new identity as well. Whatever plans universe has, for her, for me, for us, only time will tell. Case closed, if you'd ask me."
Sam shook his head. "Not yet. There's Alexa Poliakoff, remember. And someone has been giving orders to go after Elisabeth."
"True. Well, Elisabeth Sharden died. And Poliakoff, well, she'll be behind bars for attacking another federal agent. No, Sam, I don't think this case needs anything else from our team. "
Phoenix, AZ || 1700, W Washington Str. || 3 days later
Entering the State Capital Tower felt strange. Though the floorplan had no secrets at all to her and the place was a public building, there was no way she could go and chat with her former co-workers. It was the shortest visit ever and the very last she paid to this place.
After what Callen suggested, Ellie Clark managed to break in the building she used to live in. Of course the owner of the building had re-rented her apartment once the rent wasn't paid any longer. However, she found the few boxes of personal items of the woman she once was 'Elisabeth Sullivan'. A whole life stored in the central area of the building. It was in the pocket of the jacket she'd worn on that day that she found a small note. Not her handwriting, nor any handwritten note at all. A list with several titles of famous songs and artists.
A puzzle for those who were interested and actually, she wasn't, not anymore.
She left it in an envelope for her former coworkers, the ones she found out who still worked in Phoenix. Whether or not they understood the message she added to it, she didn't know.
After that she posted the note to the office of NCIS in Los Angeles, addressed to special agent G. Callen. The brother she never had, the truest family man with so many secrets, a man who could leave out all the rest, forgetting all the hurt inside he'd learned to hide so well.
She straightened her shoulders, ready for a brand new day. So much of life ahead and she knew there was a brand new future, somewhere, somehow, a place where there'd be room to grow. .
Thank you for reading and leaving your reactions as well!
Perhaps you noticed how some (lines and parts of songs) are quoted somehow in this chapter.
Boulevard of Broken Dreams – Green Day
Die Young – Sheppard
It's my Life – Bon Jovi
Leave out all the Rest – Linkin Park
Whatever it Takes – Imagine Dragons
Only just begun - Carpenters
Brand new Day - Sting
I'm the only one, and I walk alone