A/N – So final chapter is here. It's a little short but I hope you like it.
Thanks so much for the fantastic response to this story. I really appreciate the support, the reviews, encouragement and comments. I'm so glad I've been able to pull of such a realistic younger Callen in the flashbacks.
Disclaimer in Chapter 1
Two weeks later, after a couple of hectic weeks where Callen had barely had time to eat but somehow managed to find the time to think, he knocked on a door. A young girl answered.
"Hi. Who are you?" she asked with a curious, yet slightly apprehensive look on her face.
"I'm looking for your Mum, Jo. I'm an old friend," Callen said. He recognised her as Tamara, the older of the girls.
"You the guy from the reunion?" she asked.
"Yes," he answered while wondering what else Jo had told her daughters.
Tamara looked him over, the apprehensiveness disappearing, before speaking. "She's out the back. You'll have to go round. Not allowed to let anyone in," she told him.
"Which side is the gate?" Callen asked. Tamara tilted her head to the left and he nodded.
Callen walked down the steps, around the side of the house and through the gate. He stood at the corner of the house, just out of sight and watched as Jo dug in the garden, with Ella helping. It was all very domestic and it made him smile. So different from his current life, but it reminded him of those few precious months with Alina's family before he'd first met Jo. He heard Tamara's voice call out from inside the house.
"Ella. Come inside. I need your help."
Ella instantly jumped up and ran inside to her sister, an obvious look of excitement on her face at being needed by her older sister. He watched as Jo shook her head and turned back to her work.
Callen moved closer, watching her carefully as he did. He hoped he was doing the right thing. He knew it was what he wanted, what she had said she wanted, but it didn't stop him being concerned. He'd even spoken to Hetty one night late in the office. Asked her if she thought it was possible for him to have a normal life.
"Mr Callen, normal is relative. Your normal is probably not what you are looking for. If you are interested in Josephine, then I will do everything in my power to help you figure out how to be in their lives safely."
Callen hadn't asked how she knew Jo's name. He honestly wasn't all that surprised she did. Hetty also reminded him that stopping to smell the roses, or even commit to helping one grow, wasn't a bad thing. In most cases, it was usually very rewarding.
Between Sam's reaction after the reunion, Hetty's encouragement and promise of helping keep them safe, plus his own desire to not let Jo disappear out of his life again and to make this work, he was here.
And he was more nervous than he'd ever been.
Jo must have sensed someone was watching her for she suddenly stood up, turned around and looked at him.
"What are you doing here?" She took a small step back away from him – wariness on her face.
Callen stopped and wondered if she had changed her mind. Her usual look for him was very welcoming not wary.
"You told me to find you," Callen replied carefully. He watched as Jo took a deep breath.
"You know the deal G," she told him.
"I know," he answered. Now he understood her reaction. She was protecting herself rather than getting her hopes up about why he was here.
"And you are okay with that?" Jo asked.
Callen took encouragement from her words – and the fact that she hadn't just told him to go away. He took another couple of steps forward. "As long as you still are with what comes with me," he said.
Jo pulled off her gardening gloves, dropped them on the ground at her feet and stepped over to him.
"Yes," she said, a smile starting to form on her face. "Are you sure? Family time, dinners together, nights where I'm too tired to do anything but collapse in bed and sleep, times when the girls are sick and I have no time -"
Callen stopped her by putting his fingers on her lips. He smiled. Sam had already filled him in on the … complexities of life with kids, especially active teenage ones.
"Yes," Callen told her firmly.
Jo's smile came out fully and the welcoming look that he was so used to with her blossomed on her face. She reached up to put her arms around his neck.
"Welcome back," she said just before she kissed him. He returned the kiss and for a few moments they forgot about everything.
Until it started to rain.
Jo pulled back and looked up, so did he and he noticed the clear blue sky. Jo started to chuckle and looked over his shoulder, before pulling back – though he didn't let her out of his arms.
"Tamara!" she called out.
"Looked like things were a little hot out there." Tamara giggled and then continued. "Thought you might like to cool off."
"Turn it off please," Jo requested.
"We'll be at Susie's for an hour," Tamara said. Another giggle followed before they heard footsteps and the gate open and close. The water didn't stop.
"Way too perceptive," Jo muttered, as she stepped away.
Callen pulled her back into his arms. "Where's Susie's?" he asked.
"Just across the street," Jo said. She wrapped her arms back around him.
"So they will be alright for a few minutes?"
"I need to bring them back G, I don't-"
Callen kissed her quickly to stop her and then pulled back.
"Just a few minutes Jo. We should probably talk about how you want this to go with them. What you want to tell them," Callen said. "What other rules I should know about other than not being allowed to let anyone in."
"No boys in their bedrooms," Jo said.
Callen grinned. "That didn't stop you."
"Then let's hope that if they do that, then it is as innocent as it was with us," Jo said.
"Who said it was innocent?"
Jo's eyes widened. "Nothing happened," she denied quickly.
"Doesn't mean I didn't want anything to happen. Especially that night in your bed." Callen watched the blush slowly cover her cheeks. It made him very curious.
"Oh," Jo said. "Then I'd definitely better make sure they have no reason for putting a lock on their doors."
He so wasn't letting her get away with just that. "Are you trying to say it wasn't all innocent with you either?"
"I'd better turn the water off." Jo tried to turn away. Callen pulled her back easily.
"Not so fast." He looked expectantly at her. Jo stopped struggling. Apparently she could tell there wasn't any point in trying to get away. She closed her eyes before she answered.
"Not all innocent this side either."
Callen kissed her once more and when they broke apart he spoke first.
"There are no guarantee's this will work out." Callen wanted to give her an out now, just in case.
"The only guarantee is if we don't try, it won't work," Jo countered, not taking him up on the offer.
"Then I guess we should figure out how to do this," he said.
Jo smiled. "Let's."