Thank you so very much for the patience. This is the final chapter. It's definitely time for me to move on from this story. I never intended it to take so long to finish but life happens and it's been a challenging couple of years. Things are also starting to take me in a different direction and I've been working on some original fiction and a few other projects which has taken up all the spare time I can manage to find – which unfortunately for my projects is incredibly little.
I'll be heading back to Moving On – for those Callen/Kensi fans but I don't know when I'll get those up. I don't like that I've left it so long and am hoping to get it moving on (pun intended) again very soon.
For those who have reviewed and haven't heard from me, my apologises. I have a lot of admin work to sort out and will get back to all of you just as soon as life, time and crises allow.
My apologises to Deeks fans as I couldn't figure out a way to bring him into this considering the way the story line is going in the show.
Enjoy this final chapter. Any mistakes are mine.
Disclaimer – don't own anything from the tv show, just borrowing it and adding my own little twists.
Christmas Day 2014
Callen looked out the window by the sink in the kitchen and waited. He was pretty sure now was about the time. Sure enough, within a minute he heard the squeal followed by the hurried footsteps heading his way.
"Daddy!" Tabby called as she flew into the kitchen.
Footsteps continued to follow as she slid to a stop next to Callen and ducked around him. Callen held back a smile, trying to stay serious for just a few more moments, though it was hard knowing that from the sound of the bells coinciding with the footsteps, this part of his dream was coming true. Callen glanced down and saw the wickedly cheeky sparkle in Tabby's eyes that confirmed it and he could no longer hold back a smile.
"Please Dad, make Uncle Sam Stop," she begged glancing away from him to the door behind.
Callen turned around and gave Sam, the green Christmas elf the once over before chuckling.
"What are you up to Sam?" he asked calmly.
Sam stopped and pointed behind Callen. A soft giggle came from that direction too.
"She's got a camera. I did not agree to that," Sam said firmly.
Callen turned his head back to Tabby. "Tabby," he said in a voice that definitely sounded amused, "Why do you want a photo of Sam?"
Tabby turned her expressive, wickedly cheeky, blue eyes to him. "Come on, Dad. I have to tell my class about my Christmas. Without a photo, they'll never believe me that a giant elf was here." She giggled cheekily and looked back at Sam.
Callen glanced at Sam who still had a very stern face on and if Callen was right, he was also blushing, though it was hard to tell.
"Give me the camera, Tabitha Paige," Callen ordered gently, with a serious voice of his own, though if Sam had been able to see his eyes he would've seen the uncanny sparkle that resembled Tabby's so much that you would think the two were biologically linked.
Tabby pouted and handed the camera to Callen.
"Thanks, G." The relief in Sam's voice was clear.
Callen promptly turned and took a photo of Sam, grinning from ear to ear as he did. Tabby squealed in delight and Callen handed back the camera. He bent down and she kissed him quickly before running off to the other room.
Sam glared at Callen. "You're in trouble now, G."
Callen chuckled and shook his head. He knew he wasn't. He also knew Sam would do anything, not only for his own kids but for Callen's as well. "Why are you dressed like an elf, Sam? At least give me that."
"Your daughter," Sam grumbled. "She's got me wrapped around her little finger."
Callen grinned. As much as Sam tried to be seriously grumpy about it, he failed completely. Callen raised an eyebrow and asked, "You dressed up for Sammy?"
He knew now that Hetty had brought to costume to help with the entertainment. He also knew she definitely had Sam in mind as the costume had been too big for him. Tabby had been otherwise occupied playing with Sam's kids at the time that Hetty had brought out the costume which left it to be little Sammy who had somehow managed to convince Sam to wear the costume.
"Yep," Sam nodded. "And whatever you do," he added completely serious this time, "don't name the next one after me. SEAL training definitely doesn't prepare you for that kind of enemy. And don't let Hetty babysit anymore either. She's teaching her 'The Look' already."
"What look?" Callen asked, already knowing. Both his daughters were already using in on him. He was just grateful that Ally didn't use it as well.
"The one that has me doing anything she wants without thinking through the consequences," Sam said with gesture at his current attire. "Need I say more?"
Laughter came from the lounge room and judging from the comments Callen could hear, it was highly likely that Tabby was showing the photo of Sam around.
Callen moved toward the door and Sam reluctantly followed, both of them heading in to join the rest of the family.
Sam continued into the room but Callen paused and took it all in. So many family members. Sam, his wife and kids, Kensi and Nate. Though this time there wasn't a baby in Kensi's arms. Things hadn't moved quite as quickly for the two of them, even though Callen had encouraged them. However, they were now expecting their first child, just a couple of weeks after Ally was due. Nate leant over and kissed Kensi, giving her stomach a gentle rub as he did. Sam whistled at them and Nate pulled back, a blush on his cheeks. Kensi giggled and gave Nate a gentle tug to get him to come back which he followed after a brief glance at Sam. Apparently Sam really wasn't that intimidating in an elf costume.
Callen smiled at the interaction. Kensi was so happy and much more relaxed now things were working out with Nate. It had taken a while but she had finally gotten to a place of trusting that Nate wasn't going anywhere. He was in it with her for the long haul.
Callen continued to look around the room, his eyes stopping at the Christmas tree. Ally stood with a large gold star dangling from her fingers. His smile grew a little bigger as he started to move over to her. Sammy was at her feet playing with the presents that were under the tree.
Sam was already there and Callen watched as he reached down and picked up Sammy. She giggled in delight and reached out her small hands to him.
"You're trouble, you know that Samantha Faith Callen," said Sam. "Just like your dad." With that, Sammy planted a dainty kiss on Sam's cheek and all was forgiven.
Callen smiled as he walked up behind Ally. She turned around and he plucked the star out of her fingers and shook his head.
"You weren't trying to put it up were you?" he asked, as per his dream.
Ally smiled indulgently at him with a small roll of her blue eyes. "You know G, I've been pregnant before. I can still do most things."
Kensi chuckled and a knowing smile passed between the two women. Callen knew Kensi was having some issues with Nate not wanting her to do anything the could remotely be considered strenuous
Ally looked back to Callen and smiled. "And no. I wasn't. I was waiting for you."
She kissed him briefly and stepped back to watch him put the star back on the top of the tree. Once he had done that he slipped an arm around her shoulders. She moved slightly so she was side on to him and rested her head against his shoulder, her arms slipping around his waist. His other hand rested gently on the bump beneath her soft green dress.
"Merry Christmas, Ally," he said softly as he watched the antics of the children playing with Sam the Giant Christmas Elf.
He could feel the gentle and totally contented smile that was on his face. It was a smile he felt often these days.
Ally looked up at him and smiled a similar one at him. "Merry Christmas, G."
Callen heard the beep and watched as Hetty walked over to a laptop that was on the dining table. She flipped the lid and pressed a few keys.
"Nice to have you join us, Eric. Hello Nell. How is Hawaii?" Hetty asked of the two techies that were on the other end of the line.
"Merry Christmas, Hetty. It's hot and the surf is amazing, but I still miss all of you."
"Miss you too Eric," Kensi called out from her spot on the couch.
"Merry Christmas, Eric and Nell," everyone else called out.
"How are the surfing lessons going Nell?" Hetty asked. From Callen's position he could see her roll her eyes and elbow Eric.
"Not so good," she replied. "Merry Christmas Hetty," she added quickly to change the conversation.
So there was more than one thing that wasn't quite in the dream, but it didn't matter to Callen. Most of it was and the bits that weren't were still good.
Hetty turned to the others in the room, a satisfied smile on her face. "All right then, my delightfully crazy family. Now we are all here, time to eat."
"I'm just going to get changed, "Sam said.
Hetty turned and shook her head, an amused smile replacing the satisfied one. "To the table, Sam. The present ceremony hasn't happened yet. Your job is not done."
Sam's two kids came up, one on either side of him and escorted him to the table. A ripple of soft laughter went around the room at the reluctance of Sam, a louder one came from Eric.
"You really do look great as an elf," Eric said while Nell tried to hold back her chuckle.
Callen caught the look that Sam gave Eric and was sure Eric was glad he had an ocean and computer connection between them.
Callen sat down on one side, Sammy on the other and Ally directly across from him. Hetty was at the head of the table, Sam on the other side of Tabby with his two kids between himself and his wife. Kensi sat next to Ally and Nate beside her. It was a squish and next year they'd need the extra table again with the two new children, Eric and Nell and Conrad and his family. There was room for it and for Callen it was still a wonderful feeling to have so many people in his house – sometimes it still felt strange that he had a house, let alone the family that he now called his own.
He smiled to himself. Here was a house full of family, but it wasn't really even half of it. There was also Martha and her clan, and Conrad and his children who had become a part of it too. They weren't here this year as Conrad had recently gotten married again to a lovely woman who adored his children and was helping them all heal. They were in England this Christmas with her family, though they had spoken with them earlier this morning.
Callen knew how delighted Ally was with her new relationship with her brother and his children. They'd go and visit them during the school holidays after the baby was born sometime in March. As much as Callen would have loved to have all of his family together, there would just be too much to combine them so they'd worked out a system. Each year they had two Christmas'. One on Christmas day and one the first weekend in December. They alternated who hosted which each year.
It was working well so far. They were far enough apart that it wasn't too full on for the kids to have two Christmases and it meant a relaxed time for all rather than having them too close to each other where it would be too much, especially given Ally's current condition.
Even though she looked amazingly healthy Callen knew his wife was having a hard time with this one. She was incredibly tired and was starting to find it difficult to keep Sammy out of trouble. Hetty was looking into the possibility of a nanny, though Callen was more thinking he might just take some extra time off work between now and when the baby was born. He had some long service leave and he was pretty sure that Hetty would approve compassionate leave or even sick leave which he had a reasonable stash stored away.
One pleasant side effect of marrying Ally and becoming a father had meant that he seemed to take a little more care these days in the field and his need of sick leave had dramatically reduced.
"A toast." Hetty said bringing Callen out of his musings.
Every one raised their glasses. Hetty glanced over them all and smiled, a kind of cat that got the cream look as if she was thoroughly pleased with the handy work in front of her.
Callen's lips twitched as he waited.
Hetty raised her glass a little more. "To family, the big ones and the small ones. To patience and," with a mischievous look at Sam, "sacrifices that we make for our loved ones."
Callen grinned at the soft chuckle that went around the table.
"And," Callen added, "to faithfulness. You were right Hetty." She'd had faith in his dream that he would one day be at the table with them. He was glad she was right.
Hetty glanced at him slightly confused but she went with it. "Always," she added.
Callen just grinned as they all took a drink. He clinked his glass with all his girls, though Sammy's was a little bit less of a clink and more of a slosh as the little girl wanted to be independent lately. He didn't reach across to Ally as it would be too difficult for her but he gave her a special smile that promised her the world.
Callen closed the front door as the last of their guests left. It had been a long, but very happy day. Sam had been great as a present delivery elf and he'd even ended up leaving in the elf costume. Callen wasn't quite sure if he'd just happened to forget he was wearing it or if he was just plain exhausted after everything.
He made his way back into the living room and smiled. Ally was sitting on the couch, Sammy was asleep with her head on Ally's legs and Tabby was curled up in a big comfy chair with a book on snowboarding that she'd received from Sam's kids which was a complete winner. Ally had finally let Jacquie start seriously teaching her in the terrain park last season and she was loving it.
Callen moved over and carefully picked up Sammy and took her upstairs. She barely stirred, just snuggled into his arms and resumed her even breathing within seconds. He tucked her in carefully ensuring the little reindeer was tucked under the blanket too. He kissed her forehead and quietly left the room.
Tabby was in her room getting ready for bed and Ally was making her way upstairs. She smiled at him. Callen slipped his arms around her once she made it to the top and gently kissed her on the lips. "You get ready for bed. I'll take care of Tabby."
Ally nodded. "I'll just say good night first."
Callen took her hand and together they went into Tabby's room. It was just like his dream. The carriage bed had lasted a while but had recently been transferred to Sammy's room and a more sophisticated bedroom had emerged with Tabby's growing tastes.
Ally kissed and hugged Tabby goodnight and then slipped away. Callen tucked in his sleepy daughter and lent down and kissed her goodnight.
He turned and walked to the door, hoping in a way that the dream wouldn't be real in this instance. He didn't want Tabby to be hurting.
"Daddy," Tabby called out.
Callen took a breath and turned around. He frowned and moved back to the bed.
"What is it, Tabby? What's wrong?"
Tabby bit her lip, obviously nervous, and Callen sat down on the bed next to her. Looking at the bright side, at least she was happy to talk to him about this.
"The kids at school… They keep saying you're just my step dad. I mean I know you're not really my …"
Callen watch as her teeth caught her bottom lip yet again.
"What else do they say," Callen prompted.
She looked up at him, tears in her eyes, and his heart broke at little for the pain he saw in there and he had to control the surge of anger that he felt toward those responsible. He called on all his training to keep it hidden from her.
"That you might leave cause I'm not yours. That you love Sammy more."
He was seriously considering whether they should move schools but he knew that children could be cruel no matter where you were so it was more important to help Tabby learn to deal with this kind of thing.
"Tabby," his voice was very gentle as he spoke with no sign of the anger he was feeling in it thankfully, "You know I'm not going to leave. I love you. You know that you are mine and I am yours. Always. You know it's official right? You're stuck with - for all the good and all the bad."
Tabby nodded and Callen lent down and kissed her cheek softly. He pulled back and wiped the tears away from her cheeks.
"You know you and your mum are the best Christmas presents I've ever got," Callen said.
Tabby finally smiled and with it, all trace of sadness left, delightful mischief replacing it.
"Better than Sammy?" she asked innocently.
Callen grinned. "Sammy wasn't a Christmas present."
Tabby grinned, an almost identical one to his which took his breath away. Sometimes when he saw these things in Tabby it was like she was always meant for him. That somehow she had a part of him in her.
"You sure? Her birthday's September."
Callen felt a little redness come up his neck and chuckled softly.
"Cheeky. I'm sure you shouldn't be learning things like that at school yet." Perhaps changing schools wouldn't be a bad idea if only they could find one that would help kids stay little kids for longer. He didn't want Tabby to grow up too fast. The real world was tough and he wanted to protect her as long as he could.
Tabby rolled her eyes and kissed him on the cheek.
"Love you, Daddy," she said, the little girl coming out in her again. He knew when she was in the grown up mood or the little girl mood by what she called him.
"Love you too, Tabby."
Callen switched the light off and closed the door after one more look back at Tabby curled up in her bed, her eyes closed. He'd bet she was more than halfway to sleep already.
He walked down the hall to his and Ally's bedroom. His heart rate kicked up a notch and his body reacted in anticipation of what was coming – hopefully. He quietly opened the door and walked in. His eyes locked with Ally's and he closed the door behind him and moved across to her. The red and white satin was real. As was the love shining so brightly in her eyes.
"So Santa, are you ready to unwrap your present?" she asked with a smile. "I know you've had to wait a long time."
She hinted that she had a very personal present for him earlier in the day.
"You're always worth the wait," Callen said softly as he traced a finger slowly across her cheek, over her lips, down her neck all the way to the bump. He moved down, kissed the bump and whispered, "Sleep tight, little one," Before he moved up and pulled her into a passionate embrace.
Callen paused for a moment and lifted his head. He had a very strong urge to turn around.
He pulled his attention back to Ally. "Sorry."
Ally raised an eyebrow in question. "I thought I could distract you better than that."
"Oh you can it's just…." His head turned around and he looked at the chest of drawers behind him. Of course there was no one there but he was sure that he'd felt someone – more importantly himself – watching. It was a different kind of awareness to when he felt others watching him. It was a feeling he had a couple of times today. The photo was there though, just like his dream.
" G," Ally pulled his gaze back to her. "Something I need to know?"
She always asked that when she thought he was thinking something dream orientated (not just any dream mind you) and he always answered the same. With a smile he said, "Yes. I love you."
Callen dropped a kiss on her lips and pulled back. "And I don't know anything more."
"What do you mean?" Ally asked a touch confused.
"I mean this was the last thing I knew from my dream."
Ally lifted an eyebrow and with one hand gestured at her attire. "You mean you knew I'd be wearing this."
Callen grinned. "Hoped more than knew. I wanted to see it for real." His fingers settled on the straps on her shoulder and slowly nudged them off.
Ally chuckled and then her eyes widened a little. "So you mean you really don't know what we're having this time? That we're equal?"
Callen shook his head. "Never equal. You are way more than I deserve as are the girls."
Ally started to open her mouth to deny that.
Callen put a finger to her mouth to stop her saying anything. "You are. I'm the luckiest guy in the world and there is no way I'm going to let you go, no matter how much I think I don't deserve you. You're mine."
He replaced his fingers with his lips and kissed her deeply, pulling back to say just one word before they enjoyed the rest of their Christmas.
Thank you so much for reading. I hope you enjoyed the happy ever after.