trscrny: Your review made me smile, for one because obviously there's more scenes that grabbed your fancy and for another because putting the reader right into the action is pretty much what I strive to achieve with my writing. I love fleshing out scenes and giving more than the bare backbones of a narrative, so that the story comes alive. I'm always glad to hear it's working out the way I intended it to. So thanks for letting me know and I'm really glad you're enjoying the story.
altarp2408: Thank you. Glad you like the story. Kensi's reaction… I hope I won't disappoint you there. *crosses fingers*
ssl71: Thanks. Glad you enjoyed the chapter and yeah, I think it was time to pull them out of the danger zone. How Callen guessed… coming up right now :)
So, this is already the last chapter. Just a follow-up to tie off some loose ends. Have fun with the Epilogue everyone!
Come Hell or High Water
It had been way past midnight by the time they arrived back at OSP. The EMTs had been thorough yet quick in their assessment, to Callen's dismay deciding that a trip to the hospital was necessary. The bullet wound had been a through and through, checked, cleaned and stitched - despite Callen's protests. Luckily, they had agreed to letting him go afterwards.
After shedding his ruined clothing in the wardrobe department, leaving them for someone else to bother with, Callen headed for a shower… after a quick but deliberate detour to maintenance.
There was still a lot of left over tension in his body, coupling with the bruises from today's activities and serving to make him move more stiffly than he would like. The warm water from the shower helped. He grinned to himself as he stood under the spray. He may be facing Hetty's wrath tomorrow for tampering with her water conservation timers that usually kept their showers short - or cold - but he felt he deserved the small comfort. Indulging, he lingered far longer than he usually would, allowing the warm water to soothe the aches of the day.
He also may be incurring his partner's wrath for showering after his bullet wound had been patched up, but technically, the hospital hadn't specified that he shouldn't let it get wet, so he would use that loophole and deal with his partner tomorrow if necessary.
Eventually, Callen shut off the water and dressed quickly. He knew there would be reports on top of reports to write about today, and while he would love nothing more than to finally be done with this day (yesterday, whatever), he had already decided to get a head start on the reports before he got some rest.
Leaving the locker room, he jumped in surprise when his arm was gripped from behind. It was rare that he let go of his situational awareness enough for anyone to sneak up on him, but the day had been long and within the confines of this building, he felt safe enough to relax. It was also the reason why he didn't instantly go into damage control and retaliated against the unexpected touch - anyone inside of these treasured walls was cleared to be here.
Swiveling round anyway, he only really relaxed when he came face to face with Kensi. Loosening his stance, he mustered her. He knew she hadn't been harmed, but it was good to see for himself. "Hey," he offered a greeting, adding a small smile for good measure. "I didn't think you'd still be here."
"Had to talk to you," Kensi gave back with a shrug of one shoulder.
That didn't exactly bode well, but then again, she hadn't kicked his ass yet. Still, it was probably better for his long-term survival to fess up. Callen shifted uncomfortably, barely keeping from shuffling his feet. It had once been a nervous habit - one he had taken great pains to get rid of. He glanced away from her and then back, sighing softly, "I'm sorry," he told her quietly.
Kensi simply watched him, her head tilted to the side in a silent prompt for him to continue.
Callen shrugged, "it wasn't my place to tell everyone and their mother about…" he allowed his eyes to meaningfully flicker down to her still flat abdomen.
When he glanced back up, he found a small smile on Kensi's features before her hand unconsciously drifted to her belly. She sighed before shrugging, "no, it wasn't, but I kind of get why you did it. I don't like it, but I do get it."
That was a relief, even though he knew she hadn't completely let him off the hook. "Are you both alright?" he asked, concerned for their wellbeing. While he knew she hadn't been harmed, today had been highly stressful and that might have done some harm.
"We're fine, Callen," she told him firmly, the smile again playing around her lips before her features turned into a frown, "how did you know?"
He shrugged a little, "there were a few small things. Each on their own, nothing worth noting, but taken together…"
Again, Kensi tilted her head in a silent prompt and Callen smiled, recalling some of the incidents. "That stomach bug two weeks ago," he started, "then your husband has taken to standing even closer to you - I swear any closer and we have to find something to unglue you guys with," he added with a gentle teasing note.
Kensi slapped her hand lightly against his chest in retaliation.
Callen laughed softly and did something he rarely did: he initiated physical contact with another person. Reaching out, he rested his palm against her cheek and leaned forward to drop a gentle kiss against her forehead. "I'm glad you're ok. I'm sorry for taking your announcement away from you, but at the same time I am not sorry for doing it to keep you safe… and I'm happy for you guys. Congratulations," he murmured against her forehead.
There was a brief moment of silence before Kensi leaned in and carefully circled her arms around him in a brief hug. "Thank you," she murmured.
They stood like that for a few moments before Callen started to gently extract himself from her. "Go home, Kens. I'll see you tomorrow." He gave her a small nudge for good measure and then returned her farewell once she stepped away from him.
Watching her as she walked down the corridor, he leaned his shoulder against the wall. He had only given her two instances that had tripped him off about her pregnancy. There were several more, but the most prominent one he had kept to himself…
Earlier that day - yesterday, whatever - before they had left to start the operation at the bank, he had passed by her cubicle in wardrobe. Kensi had been standing in profile, first fussing with the blouse over her abdomen, as if checking to see if it was getting too small and restrictive. After satisfying herself that nothing showed, her hand had drifted to her belly. Everything about her had gentled in that instant. Her eyes had held a shine that he had never seen in them before and there had been some sort of feminine softness he had never anticipated with the tough female agent. Kensi knew how to use her feminine assets to work an op, but what he had seen that morning had been a gentler version of her.
Before, he had speculated, but in that moment, he'd known for sure.
Smiling softly to himself, Callen pushed away from the wall and followed after Kensi. Instead of leaving OSP though, he turned to head towards his desk, determined to get some work done on that report before he would stretch out on the couch for a while.
The next months would bring disruptions and new challenges to their family. They would have to find new ways to make things work and adapt to the situation with Kensi being out of the field.
While he hated having to adapt, in this instance he couldn't help but look forward to it.
Sinking into his chair, Callen powered up his laptop and started working on the report. It was time to put this bungled heist to rest so that they could focus on the next steps of their original case.