A/N: I've got one this time! It's just at the end because I don't want you to have to wait any longer to read (sorry for the month long wait!)
The waves were calling to him. At this hour of the morning, surfing conditions were awesome. The water had settled from the boats and ships and anything else from the day before and it was just the consistent rolling of waves onto the sandy beach. They were great waves too; they crested perfectly and some formed good tunnels that you could get caught inside. What he wouldn't give to be out there right now. Surfing was his favorite thing to do (even at five in the morning) and always gave him the best start to the day. He could go out and surf for an hour or more then go back home, grab a shower and head in to the office. His whole day got kick-started with that routine.
Today was a lot different though. He was driving past the ocean, not scouring for the best set, but on his way to the hospital to hang out with Kensi for an hour or so. Her sleep schedule was so screwy that there was actually a good chance she'd be awake when he got there. Actually, in an ironic sort of way, Kensi was usually awake either at dawn for a couple hours or in the evening, both pretty good surfing times, especially dawn (which was usually when he went to visit her).
The pull of the water was strong. His surfboard was on top of his car. Surely, he could paddle out for a couple waves before visiting Kensi, right? She wouldn't care if he was wet and smelled like the ocean.
No, don't. Eric told himself. You said you'd go to the hospital and if you had time left before work, then you could surf some.
But salt water ran in his veins. He had to surf.
"Don't do it," he told himself.
After debating with himself for a few more minutes, he pulled abruptly into a small, empty parking lot at a beach access point. He sat there, car idling, while he deliberated.
"Just a few waves," he told himself. "Twenty minutes tops,"
When he made that decision, it didn't seem like stopping to surf before visiting Kensi was a bad thing; it felt right. He quickly got out and grabbed the board. He was already in a bathing suit (since he'd been planning to catch a wave or two on the way back from the hospital) so he jerked off his shirt and glasses and ran down the sandy embankment, toting the six-foot hunk of foam with him. His toes touched the water and all was well with the world. He waded in deep enough to climb onto the board and started paddling out.
A thought that had often occurred to him when he first started surfing alone in the mornings came back to him now.
It was a great time to surf- but also a great time for sharks to feed.
He didn't know why the foreboding sense suddenly struck him, but it didn't relinquish its hold.
He tried to shake it off, and when the effort proved futile, he resorted to simply pushing the worry to the back of his mind. He continued paddling, duck-diving under the waves as he went so he could get farther out without fighting as hard. After about a fifth of a mile, he decided that he was pushing his luck already and resolved to try and get a few good waves as fast as possible so he could head back.
It was only a couple of minutes before he found the first one he wanted. Many more came after that. The rides were fantastic. He didn't try anything fancy; he just needed the pure adrenaline rush that came from catching a solid wave. When he realized half an hour had passed, he sighed wistfully but began paddling back into shore. The niggling suspicion that something wasn't quite right moved back to the forefront of his mind.
Kensi remained silent. She wasn't going to give whoever this was the satisfaction of asking his name; she couldn't see his face and didn't recognize the voice. She wouldn't scream either even though she could feel the stitches straining against her skin like they could pop at any moment due to the gun pressed into her stomach.
Bernhardt cocked his head to the side. "I sense some confusion. You do know who I am, right?"
Kensi just glared. Bernhardt threw his head back and laughed.
"I'm hurt," he drawled sardonically. "How could you forget me?"
Still, she was quiet. What time was it anyway? Morning- she could see slight rays of sun peeking through the curtains. Wasn't Eric supposed to be here soon? Had he already come while she was asleep? No, she would have felt his presence and woken up, right? Well, maybe not. Maybe he'd been here already. She hoped he was on his way. Oh, her brain hurt from running in endless circles.
"Agent Blye, I hope you've never been given the title of 'Agent of the Year'. To be honest, this is pretty sad. What kind of agent can't remember who shot them?" he paused for a moment, "You should be having nightmares about me,"
"I don't have nightmares." She retorted.
"Is that so? Well we can change that,"
Eric pursed his lips as he drove. The closer he got to the hospital, the stronger his ominous feeling grew. So naturally, the harder he pressed on the accelerator. He'd definitely not meant to spend as much time out in the water as he had. He was going to catch it later. When he got to the hospital he quickly parked and made his way along the familiar route to the intensive care unit.
It was eerily quiet when he got there. There were no nurses or doctors present. As he passed other rooms on his way to Kensi's, he could see patients (most of them asleep due to the early hour) but still no doctors or nurses. There had to be some kind of explanation. Surely there was a logical reason for the lack of staff?
He couldn't think of a single one.
Eric quickened his pace and stopped outside Kensi's room. The curtain behind the sliding glass door, which was normally only pulled across halfway, now covered the entire length of the door. That was very out of the ordinary. Eric knew for a fact that even when she slept, Kensi still kept the curtain halfway. He frowned. Then slowly, and as quietly as he could manage, Eric slid the door open a fraction.
Just do it, he told himself. He took a deep breath (that didn't do its job of calming him) and then peeked around the corner just enough to get a view of the room. It took all of his self-control not to gasp. Bernhardt was standing over Kensi with a gun. Bernhardt's back was to Eric and Kensi was focused on the gun so neither saw the techie. He caught a few snippets of what Bernhardt was saying.
"…such a shame. But we have to cut our losses at some point, right?"
Eric withdrew himself just as stealthily as he'd peered inside the room. He took a few steps away from the room then dug his cellphone from his pocket. With fumbling fingers, he punched in Callen's number. The agent picked up after the second ring.
"Yeah Eric, what's up?"
"Callen, you and Sam need to get down to the hospital now,"
"What? Is Kensi-"
"Bernhardt is here. He's in the room with Kensi and he's armed."
Callen swore. "Okay, we're on our way. Sam! Get the challenger! Eric, keep tabs on the situation. If anything happens or is about to happen, call us right away. We'll be there in ten,"
"I can do that. Oh, um, just so you know… there's no medical personnel here. It's deserted,"
"Great," Callen remarked and hung up.
Eric dropped his phone back into the shorts he'd changed into after surfing. He took off his glasses and shakily ran a hand over his face. He let out a breath he didn't know he'd been holding and tip-toed back over to the door. With any luck, Bernhardt would still have his back to the door. Eric cautiously repeated the same process as earlier and looked around the curtain again.
Bernhardt continued to talk. "…could've made a clean break of it. Your friends had to complicate things."
This time Kensi chimed in, "My friends don't complicate matters. They resolve them,"
"You're exactly like them," he snarled.
Hostage negotiation 101: Don't antagonize the captors; sympathize with them. Eric squeezed his eyes shut and prayed that Kensi's stubbornness wasn't going to get her killed before Sam and Callen got there. He'd never wanted to be an agent before; the lifestyle didn't appeal to him at all. But now? His only wish was to be an agent for the sole reason that he would have a gun and could end it all here. As it was, he was not an agent and had no weapon of any kind. He was just the techie. Sure, Callen and Sam had trained him up a bit in self-defense, but they never taught him many offensive maneuvers because it was (supposedly) impractical and unnecessary. Besides, Bernhardt had a gun.
Suddenly, Bernhardt moved to turn around. Eric hastily moved away from the door. He stepped a few feet away again, and redialed Callen.
"Yeah, Eric," he answered before the first dial tone even ended.
"I've lost visual contact. Bernhardt's back was to the door but then he turned around. I have no idea what's going on now,"
"That's fine Eric; don't try anything risky. We're less than five minutes away," He sighed and the sound of the Challenger accelerating was heard, "Just hope that Kensi's luck will hold till then,"
"Got it," he ended the call.
Eric rubbed his temples, thinking. Callen said not to try anything risky. But what if the situation escalated to the point that Eric needed to interfere? Without his "toys" as he dubbed the computers in the ops center, he was blind. He needed eyes in the room. Attempting to look around the curtain for a third time would be unwise. Eric deliberated for a minute and finally decided it was worth a shot. He'd just take it very slowly. He crept back over to the door and listened at first, trying to gauge where Bernhardt was in the room by how his voice 'bounced'.
"Anyway, it doesn't matter now. By the time anyone realizes what has happened it'll be long over and I will be far, far away," Bernhardt took a couple of steps. "Who's the tough one now?" he challenged.
"Not me," Kensi admitted, "But it's most certainly not you either," she all-but-growled.
Eric looked up. Why does she do these things? At this point, Eric decided it was worth the risk. Kensi had been pissing Bernhart off for who knows how long. He needed to see the ex-cop's reaction. He edged the curtain aside. She had a familiar glint in her mismatched eyes. Bernhardt just stared at Kensi for many long seconds. Then he smiled. Then he let out a short laugh. He raised his gun, aiming it directly at her chest. The message was clear.
It took less than ten seconds for Eric to stride into the room and knock the gun away from Bernhardt, mostly due to the element of surprise that Eric had. The tiny time frame that was opened with the shock factor rapidly closed. Soon Bernhardt and Eric were engaged in hand to hand combat. Eric surprised himself with the amount of force he managed to exert as well as the fact that it didn't bother him as much as he thought it would to hurt someone else on purpose. Another surprise that Eric received was how well adrenaline dulled the pain of being punched and hit and kicked. Pure fury and adrenaline fueled his fight.
As for Bernhardt, he had to recover from the shock before being able to fully put everything he had into the fight. He did a pretty good job though and not long after the onset he began to easily gain the upper hand, whereas before they'd been relatively evenly matched. Eric was getting beaten and he knew it. If he could just keep Bernhardt at bay long enough for Sam and Callen to get there…
The door burst open.
A/N: Alright, now before you kill me for not updating in forever and then leaving you with a cliffhanger let me offer an exchange. First are my apologies. I had surgery at the end of September and was out of school for a week. Therefore, all of October I was making stuff up and was just totally swamped (that's why the last chapter sucked :P) So I'm very extremely sorry for that; please forgive me! Second, I have the next two chapters written. But before the next chapter gets put up, can I pretty please get at least 10 reviews? The first couple of chapters got such great feedback and I was ecstatic for days. I would really love and appreciate getting that kind of feedback again (:
And I know that there are many people who have added this to their story alerts (and a few have added me as an author alert *dies of happiness*), so please take fifteen seconds and review. Pretty please with cast members' autographs on top?
Thank you all so much for sticking with this- I love you all!