Author's Notes – I do not own NCIS:LA

So, I know I am in the middle of a couple of other stories right now and I should really be focusing more on those...but, you know how it is. This floated into my head and it went from there. As seems to be happening more than not lately, the ending was written as a rough start and I filled it in from there.

Please read and review. Let me know your thoughts.


The case had been bad. Really bad. And she knows it is going to make things harder. Ones like this always do. Up to this point, they had always gotten through the aftermath. This time is different though. This time too many things hit too close to home for him. Too many similarities. Too many moments it could have been him. Or even worse her.

She knows that is what he is thinking right now. It's always in the head. The fear. The worry. The what-ifs. And this case played on every one of those fears. Hell, it played on fears that she isn't so sure he had even let himself consider.

And if she let herself look at the facts. Look at the case and allow emotion to win over detachment, then she is certain she will see what he does. But she can't. She can't let it get in her head. Play on her fears. She replays the facts in her head like a movie reel you can't turn away from. Allows herself this one last look at the tragedy that happened today. Then she promises herself, after this, the details with be banished to a place in her head that will remain so locked down it will never be found again.

An agent. A seasoned agent. One who Callen had worked with on more than one occasion. They took his wife and his son. Then they took him. The enclosure had been constructed on site. Built to ensure he could see everything. Hear everything, but not be able to stop any of it. They were merciless about the torture. It didn't matter to them. Not her screams. Not his. And most certainly not those of their little boy. Once they were done, they drugged him in unconsciousness before opening the door to the metal structure and leaving the man to deal with the aftermath.

When he came around, he could see his wife and son. He immediately took note of the open door. Through the fog of whatever drugs he had been given, he made his way to their sides. The amount of blood was so immense, he braced himself for the worst. Feeling for a pulse, he realized they were both still alive. Barely. Finding the closest exit, he made his way out into the bright sun of the day. Looking around he realized they were nowhere near anything. There was overgrown weeds covering an old parking lot and it seemed nothing was in his line of sight.

Realizing he had no other choice, he made his way in the direction of what he hoped would lead to a road of some sorts. After walking for what seemed like miles, he managed to find an old farmhouse. Once on the doorstep, he banged on the door so hard so many times he was afraid no one would answer for sheer fear. He was eventually greeted by an old man with a shotgun. He pled with the man to call for help. Begged him to get an ambulance for his wife. His son.

The old man, seeing the desperation in the man, knew immediately it was life or death. After calling for help, he took the man back to the dilapidated building. Once inside the building, he rushed over to the woman and child. Never in his life had to he seen anything like what was in front of him. Two broken bodies. Blood everywhere. It was hard enough to see the woman lying there, but the boy was worse. He looked to be no more than five or six.

Upon hearing the sirens, the old man leaves the man with his wife and child while he flags down the help so desperately needed. The next several minutes were a whirl of activity. Medics working feverishly to stabilize the woman and child. Life flight called. Two of them. There is no time to waste. No time to transport the traditional way. The police question the man. He gives the officer a number to call. When dialed, Callen answers.

The team arrives within thirty minutes. They are greeted by the police who are left at the scene as well as the old man from the farmhouse. Purcel Jacobson. He has lived in these parts all his life. Never had experienced anything close to what he saw today. Not even after years in the military himself. Kensi and Deeks talk to him. Gather details. Sam and Callen look around the crime scene. Look for anything that may have been left. After forty-five minutes, they determine there is nothing left for them to do and make their way back to OSP.

Once there, they move quickly up to ops knowing Eric and Nell will most likely have the pictures that had been taken before they arrived. Before the victims were removed. Those will give them more information than having been there after everything was cleared. Settling in familiar places along the room, they hear Eric clear his throat as images start popping up on the screen.

"Meet Special Agent Benjamin Anderson. He works for the CIA and specializes in encryption. Top of his field. Only three people can do his job. This is Josie Anderson. His wife. Stay at home mother. No career. And this is Donovan Anderson. Their five year old son." Eric takes a breath and hears Nell pick up where he pauses.

"Benjamin came home to find his house ransacked." She pulls up pictures from his home as she continues. "During his search of the premises, he was jumped by several men. He isn't sure how many. They injected him with something." With the touch of a few buttons, the pictures on the screen shift from Benjamin Anderson's house to the building they had just left. "He woke up in this enclosure. For the next several hours he endured watching his wife and son be tortured."

Sam's voice interrupts the intelligence analyst, "They were trying to get him to break. What information did they want from him?"

Eric speaks up this time, "It appears they didn't want anything. In his statement to the police, he said they never asked for anything. Never once spoke."

Deeks, "So they are sociopaths and he was just a random grab? That doesn't even make any sense." Kensi makes a sound agreeing with her partner.

The team freezes when the next set of pictures pop up on the screen. Nell does her best to keep her voice neutral, "His wife and son were tortured for hours. There didn't seem to be anything off limits. Even with the little boy." Her voice breaks at this point and Eric starts to take over, but she finishes before he has the chance. "They are in critical condition at the hospital. No idea if they are going to make it at this point."

The next several hours are spent interviewing Benjamin Anderson and going over the events more times than anyone cares to think about. By the end of the day, Anderson's wife is dead and he is told his son has no chance of survival. The only reason he is still breathing is the machine pumping oxygen through his tiny body.

After reviewing all the evidence, it is concluded the kidnapping of the Anderson family was carried out by someone he had no connection to and it was indeed a random act of violence. That fact proves to be almost worse than the alternative. The men were captured, save the ringleader. He is in the wind as they say in this line of work.

Kensi and Deeks had left half an hour ago saying nothing as they made their way to the parking area. They had agreed neither should be alone and were meeting up at Kensi's for beers and mindless television viewing. Sam left as soon as he could. Presumably to go home and hold his family close. The case making it even more apparent how quickly life can change. Eric had walked out of the ops center to go home just as Nell came downstairs in search of Callen. She knows he is taking it the worst. He hasn't said a word since coming back to OSP.

Finding him inside the gym, she watches as he pummels the bag in front of him. She knows why he is in there. Knows what he is thinking. But one of them needs to stay grounded. In reality. Not there. Not in that room where Benjamin Anderson endured more than anyone could ever fathom. She pushes the thoughts out of her head and walks towards him in silence.

She has no idea what to say. There really isn't anything to say. She hopes that by just being there it will be enough. Except it isn't enough. His punches seem to increase in speed and intensity. The minute he had sensed her presence, it seemed to make things all that much worse.

She ventures closer to him. Still failing to acknowledge her, she reaches out and places her hand gently on his arm. His movements cease. His body stiffens and, for the first time in a long time, she can't read him at all. He jerks his arm away from her touch. Like he has been burned. Stepping to the side, he pulls off the gloves and tosses them haphazardly to the side. "Go away, Nell."

Instead of following his instructions, she moves closer to him. He watches as she positions her body so she is standing directly in front of him. In an instant, her arms wrap around his body and she is pulling him into an embrace. For a moment, he lets her. Allows himself to be get lost in her as he leans into her embrace and takes in the familiar scent of her hair. Then, as quickly as he acquiesced, he pushes her away. The movement is unexpected enough that is causes her to stumble as she catches her footing.

She watches as he walks towards the door. Leaves her standing there. "Callen." He keeps moving. He has to. It's too much. Her face takes the place of Josie Anderson. He becomes Benjamin. Trapped in that cage. Helpless. Watching in horror. Knowing he can't save her. So he does what he has to do in order to survive. To save her. He keeps moving.

"G." He freezes. The pain in her voice. The fear. The desperation. He turns and faces her again. He sees the tears streaming down her face and he instantaneously feels it down into his core. Everything he never wanted to happen. Her in this position. Him pushing her away. To save her. Save her from everything he can't protect her from. He knows it's irrational. But he can't stop seeing her face in those pictures.

"Please, G." He watches as she walks across the floor. Closing the gap between him. As soon as the distance is closed, she reaches out and touches his face. The action causes his jaw to stiffen and he tries to pull away. Except he can't. Her other hand came up too quickly. She is now holding his face securely in her grip. She knows what will happen. How this seemingly innoculous action will affect him. Bring him back down. Ground him.

She watches as he transforms before her eyes. His resolve breaks. The tears now freely fall down his face. She sees him crumble before her. His knees buckle and he falls to the ground. It's like slow motion. Joining him on the floor, she pulls him into an embrace. And he is powerless to fight it anymore.

And there they sit. In each other's arms. Letting the day wash out of their system. Because, in the end, when everything else falls away; he is her lifeline and she is his.