Once upon a time, in 2013 to be precise, there was a writing challenge published in NCISLA Magazine in Callen's Corner: write the missing scene from episode 4 x 20 Purity.

A year later, I discovered NCISLA Magazine and all the stories written for this challenge... And wrote a fic using this prompt.

Aaaand never posted it.

So now, after seven years, I'm posting it. It's nothing revolutionary, just plain old Callen H/C ;) but it's kind of a return for me to fanfiction. There are still some stories I planned to write and haven't done so yet... So, this is the first step.

Disclaimer: All characters belong to Shane Brennan.

They nearly threw him into the small room. He immediately began coughing and knew that it wasn't a good sign. Nell's words resonated in his head. "A quarter teaspoon is deadly within minutes." They locked him in. He listened carefully to determine whether the bad guys were really leaving or not. Did the outside door really close? Maybe...

He was half-lying, half-sitting on the floor. At least they didn't handcuff me. His heartbeat was getting faster and faster, and breathing was for him a real challenge now. Each breath was more and more shallow. The cyanide worked really fast, frighteningly fast. Callen tried hard to stay concentrated on what he needed to do. Finally, he managed to take a syringe with the antidote out of his pocket.

A few hours ago, he had laughed when Hetty opened her infamous medical bag and handed the syringe to him. He wanted to stay as far away from it as he could. Now, he desperately tried to use it to neutralize the cyanide in his body.

He succeeded, and his panic slightly subsided. The team would find him. His team would find him. However, more than about his own health, he worried about the success of the operation. They had to stop this crazy DNA group and prevent them from killing half of the city.

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Sam's unrest rose. They had found G's phone, but where was he? Everything was quiet. The suspects had probably already gone. What if they had taken G with them?

"OK, you two clear these two buildings, I'll clear the warehouse," Sam instructed Deeks and Kensi.

The warehouse was clear, but on the tables there were small containers filled with some white powder and an empty glass. Sam definitely didn't have a good feeling about it.

Why was the glass empty?

Even when he searched through the warehouse, his trained mind didn't stop creating and playing possible scenarios in his head.

What if they forced G to drink the cyanide?

Then, Sam heard a noise behind a locked door. Since no one else was in sight and Callen was probably behind that door, Sam hurried up and broke in. Callen was there.

"What the hell took you so long?"

Sam quickly assessed the situation. They did make him drink the cyanide otherwise Callen wouldn't be awkwardly sitting on the floor and looking at him with watery eyes. Sam's panic nearly took over, then he saw an empty syringe lay on the floor.

"You used the hydroxo-c," said Sam with a slight smile of relief.

"Worked like a charm," Callen agreed.

Given his weak voice, half closed eyes and awkward sitting position, Sam asked: "You sure you used the syringe properly, G?"

Callen felt his partner's concern and wanted to lighten the situation, so he answered. "Still alive and not having a heart attack, so yeah, I guess."

"What happened?"

Callen switched into a more serious tone. "Fryman is behind this. The moment he walked in, I was made. They want to poison the city water at 1:00 tonight."

Sam called Kensi and Deeks. "I got him, collect the evidence."
Then, he informed Hetty.

"Let's get you out of here, G."

Callen was willing his legs to move but they wouldn't.

"Side effects," Sam simply announced.

"Deeks, come here, we have to get Callen into the car."

"Yes, and we have to … because …ehm yes. I mean, oh of course, we can. We can … get you into the car," Deeks babbled because he certainly wasn't prepared for that.

"Great. Now I'm completely reassured."
They could easily hear frustration in Callen's voice.

"Stop talking, Deeks," Sam warned him. He knew that Callen already felt uncomfortable because he didn't like showing any weakness.

Deeks and Sam carefully lifted Callen up. They held him around his back and put his arms around their necks. Callen was silent during their slow march to the car. The warehouse spun all around his head. It felt like standing on a ship in the middle of a storm.

Callen didn't make any further attempts to move. Sam was relieved when they were finally in the car. He, always protective and caring, was afraid that he might hit Callen's arm while closing the door.

"G, move a bit, so I can close the door."

When Callen, or his arm, didn't comply, he gently placed Callen's right arm, which hung limply along his body, into his lap.

This small gesture, this small movement, frightened the two younger agents. They were accustomed to injuries; they had seen numerous times before when someone needed a little help or support while getting up to their feet. They had even experienced it themselves, but this felt different.

"So we are going to a hospital, right?" asked Kensi.

"Of course we are," Sam replied.

"We need to stop them," Callen objected, but Sam quickly corrected him.

"No, WE need to stop them, and YOU need to go to the hospital."

Deeks and Kensi stepped back and went quickly to their car. They didn't want to be anywhere near because Callen and hospitals... really didn't mix well.

In the car, Callen tried to persuade Sam that he didn't need to go to the hospital. "I used the antidote, and it's working, Sam. I'm fine."

"Are you really that afraid of needles and doctors, G?" Sam teased his partner lightly.

"Alex is about to lose his father." This was Callen's unexpected and serious answer.

Sam knew that Callen had already decided to stay on this case at all costs. Callen would never admit that he was hurt, so Sam didn't entirely believe his I-am-fine line. However, Sam's SEAL training also told him that Callen probably would be fine. He was just experiencing side effects of the antidote.

Deciding it would be even better to keep an eye on Callen personally than leaving him in a hospital, Sam finally surrendered.

"OK, we might not be going to the hospital straight away, but I'm not negotiating with Hetty. I'll leave that to you... And you'd better be walking on your own when we get to her."

"Are you really that afraid of her, Sam?" Callen modified Sam's previous question.

Callen didn't talk much during the journey, so every few minutes, Sam carefully looked at him. He seemed to be napping or just avoiding conversation after the rescue mission that would, for a while, remain labelled in Callen's mind as a public humiliation.

"What time is it?" Callen finally spoke.

"6 pm, G."

"We don't even know where to start looking..." Callen sighed.
Sam was glad that Callen talked. His body may not have been very cooperative, but his mind seemed sharp as ever.

"Here we are," Sam announced, intending to wake up Callen without actually mentioning that he had fallen asleep again.

Callen tried to slightly move his arms and was pleasantly surprised that his upper limbs were willing to cooperate. He rubbed his face and opened the door.

Sam silently offered Callen a hand when he saw how his friend struggled to get out of the car on his own. Callen accepted it, mainly because Kensi and Deeks hadn't arrived yet. With Sam's help, Callen entered the building and was grateful that the old good sofa, which had occasionally been his home, was still in place.

Callen just wanted to lie down and sleep, wishing that the sleep would fight the nausea and tiredness. However, he soon realized that this was not going to happen. Hetty headed right to them. She knew. She always knew everything.

"Is there any reason why you aren't already at the hospital, Mr. Callen?" Hetty interrogated.

Sam sent Callen an "I-told-you-so" glance.

"Oh, one of you is going to explain right now, gentlemen. Name one reason, Mr. Callen," she challenged him.


The fighting little ninja transpired instantly into an understanding sage.

"Yes, I know, Mr. Callen. I know." With that, Hetty left and re-emerged only a few moments later holding her medical bag.

Callen spotted the bag, and one look of his blue eyes sent Sam a message. But Hetty appeared to read his mind – as usual.

"Your partner won't help you, Mr Callen." She was completely right – against the petite decisive woman, the ex-SEAL was literally helpless.

"I'll do your medical evaluation, Mr Callen, and if the results don't satisfy me, you will be escorted to the hospital," Hetty announced.

"Just make it quick, Hetty; we need to work" was all Callen dared to ask for. There was no way he could avoid being stabbed with another needle or two today.

Sam anxiously awaited the results and Hetty's decision. Callen, on the other hand, seemed oblivious to the procedures. Alex and the cyanide occupied all his thoughts.

"Mhm, the antidote worked very well. You can go and save the city, gentlemen."

Callen bid farewell to his "sleeping plan". Once Hetty declared him fit enough for the operation, he had to prove that she was right. He mentally prepared himself for the challenge he was about to face: getting up under Hetty's intense scrutiny.

Hetty interrupted his thoughts: "I haven't finished, Mr. Callen. You will rest and sleep for at least an hour. Trying to escape, pretending to be sleeping or trying to adjust the time on all the clocks here is not allowed."

Sam couldn't help but smile; Hetty knew Callen so well. He'd be able to do every single thing she mentioned, but now, Callen just obeyed the orders and stretched out on the sofa. For once, he decided to follow Hetty's decision because sleeping really didn't sound like a bad idea, and he needed to get better fast. Additionally, Kensi and Deeks were in the ops centre, so he didn't have to be worried that they might see him.

"See you in an hour, partner," said Sam, finally reassured that Callen would be ok.

In the next hour, while Callen slept, frenetic activity filled the ops centre: making phone calls, watching security cameras, studying the city plans. Then, the agents moved to the armoury to prepare their guns.

Callen's inner clock had always functioned perfectly and told him now that 55 minutes of sleep were enough. He didn't see anyone downstairs; everything was quiet. Callen figured that the team was up in ops, so he used this as an opportunity to quickly examine his condition. Getting up wasn't that difficult; his legs and arms were still a little stiff. Nevertheless, it was a great improvement – considering that two hours ago his limbs were very similar to jelly. Callen came to a clear conclusion: "I'm fine."

He found his team in the armoury. Sam watched him carefully, so Callen tried to give him the most confident look he could at the moment and started to prepare his gun. He was grateful that Sam didn't make any remarks about his condition.

Instead, Sam recapitulated the progress they had made in the past hour. "Ops is monitoring all water sensors and access points to underground utilities. And DWP is ready to cut off the water supply at a moment's notice."

"We've got local law enforcement and Kaleidoscope looking for them. Eventually they're going to have to show themselves," Deeks added.

In that moment, Callen's fingers failed to fulfil a simple task of loading a gun. One bullet landed loudly on the table. He wished they had forgone it, but in a room full of trained agents, who happened to be also his friends worried about him, he didn't have a chance.

"Callen, you sure you don't want to guide us from Ops?" Kensi asked. She knew the answer even before he said it aloud.

"I'm fine."

Sam didn't say anything. He probably understood how important this mission for Callen was. Deeks unexpectedly joined the conversation. "Yeah? 'Cause a couple hours ago, you could barely move."

Callen could teach everyone, except Hetty, how to avoid personal questions with a joke. "You want to arm wrestle?"

He only hoped Deeks wouldn't take this offer literally. He didn't want to spend the energy that the sleep had brought him by proving to Deeks that his strength was back. But in his mind he kind of appreciated the irony of it. Deeks seemed satisfied with this answer. "Fair enough."

Nell saved Callen from further discussions. "Okay, so I think we've got something..."

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They shot two members of the group. Fryman was transported to the ER. He would probably be sentenced for life, and Alex would be placed into a foster home. There was no other choice.

His team saved the city, thousands of lives, and Callen didn't doubt their actions. He would have certainly blamed himself that there was something else to do if he had stayed in the hospital.

When they arrived at Ops, Hetty greeted them. "Well done, ladies and gentlemen."

"Mr Callen, if you possess an alarm clock, which I seriously doubt… Nevertheless, I suggest you get up early. Tomorrow at 7:00 am, Dr. Bradley is waiting for you to do the necessary tests. Neither the time nor the need to do these tests is open to discussion." With that Hetty left and didn't even give Callen a possibility to argue. Sam secretly chuckled.

Normally, Callen would have argued, but now, he had something more important in mind. He needed to check on Alex in his new home, encourage him a little, and hope that he would be in good hands.