Post-script to S05E06 “Big Brother”
It had not gone as expected, but then how many operations actually did? A fifteen year old girl had inadvertently compromised the cell phones of two Federal Agents after her boyfriend deliberately hacked her cell. Teen angst and imposters on social media had just been the start of the problem, leading to a near massacre of the joint agency task force sent to take down a cell of the Molina Cartel…Callen shook his head and smiled as he wondered how Sam would cope when his kids reached their teenage years.
Deeks as usual had provided the comic relief for the day with his walking workstation, and had continued to be a source of amusement when the team hit the bar for a ‘debrief’ afterwards. The four of them had headed down to Venice Beach for beer and burgers at the Surf Shack, a ramshackle hut of a bar that had a sprawl of tables and chairs that spilled onto the boardwalk. The team had sat outside in the far corner, enjoying the last of the evening’s sun and each other’s company.
“So why doesn’t it surprise me that Deeks claims to have finished High School in the style of Ferris Bueller?” Sam asked, kicking off the conversation with a level of intelligence which would be maintained throughout the evening.
“Yeah, I can just see him now, high-jacking a float and shaking his bootie to Twist & Shout, just like the rock star he used to be…” Kensi said with a mischievous twinkle in her eyes.
“I’m surprised he even managed to finish High School,” Callen added before snapping his head round to look at Kensi. “And what’s this about Deeks being a rock star?”
“Hey guys,” Deeks interrupted. “Not only did I finish High School but I finished Law School and passed the Bar Exam for the State of California. Did any of you do that? No? No? No, I thought not.”
“That wasn’t the question Deeks,” Callen answered with a grin. “Were you a High School rock star?”
“He claims to have had his own band called Touching Wood,” Kensi laughed, unable to keep a straight face any longer. Sam and Callen too both burst into laughter at the absurdity and double entendre.
“Really? Touching Wood?” Callen asked. “And Kensi, you knew about this for how long?”
“A few months or so,” Kensi replied cagily as she stirred her Mojito with a straw.
“And have you found any erm, evidence of said band?” Sam said, wondering how Kensi had not let this gem of information slip out earlier.
“I have conducted some discreet investigations,” she admitted slyly. “But so far, no luck.”
Callen pulled out his cell. “I bet Eric and Nell can find footage of you. My money’s on Nell beating Eric to it. Ten bucks on it, Sam?”
“I’m in.” Sam said with a smile.
“No wait, you guys, you can’t do this?” Deeks protested.
“I think it’s too late.” Kensi smiled. “But be careful or I might just have to reveal some more of your secrets.” She winked at Deeks, who suddenly looked extremely worried.
“Oh yes, what’s this about secrets Deeks?” Callen asked. “We’re a team you know, we don’t keep secrets from each other.”
Deeks looked at Callen and almost spat out his beer. “You gotta be kidding me, right? You saying we don’t have secrets?” He turned towards Sam. “Sam, you kept your wife and kids from the rest of us for how long?”
“True, I did – but it’s no longer a secret. And I’ve even let you and Kensi babysit, and you all came to my baby-girl’s party.” Sam quickly pointed out.
“And Kensi, you didn’t trust me enough to tell me you were investigating your father’s death,” Deeks said, feeling slightly guilty he was using something so personal to demonstrate his point.
Kensi squirmed in her chair. “It wasn’t so much that I didn’t trust you guys,” she said, taking in the three faces which were now looking quizzically at her. “It was just something I had to do on my own. Callen, you understand that.”
Everyone now turned to look at Callen who had been interrupted mid-bite of his burger. He deliberately took his time to chew and swallow before answering. “I certainly do.”
Sam smiled, “Is that all we’re going to get from you?” he asked.
“Yep,” Callen said as he leaned back in his chair and observed his team. Deeks was quite right, they were a secretive bunch of individuals and he was unsure how any of them had developed the ability to trust one another and work as a team. Well, for Sam team-work was everything, but as for the others?
Deeks had sort of been forced on him by Hetty, however he had more than proven to be a quick learner and a great fit for the team. His past life as an undercover LAPD detective had seen him working alone though and even in his role with NCIS as their LAPD liaison, he was still shunned by his former colleagues. He had clearly been an outsider in the force, which was strange, Callen thought, as Deeks’ most notable characteristic was to use humour to make people to feel at ease. Well, that and using it as a defence mechanism – and to antagonise people.
And Kensi, well she’d run away from home when her parents split up, her father had died when she was a teenager, she was paranoid that all men she developed relationships with would leave her as her fiancé did and she had a reputation as the queen of first dates. But the same as Deeks and himself, she didn’t give away her secrets freely and rarely opened up to others about her feelings.
“So,” Callen started to move the subject away from himself. “If Deeks was a Ferris Bueller ‘wanna-be’, and Kensi was, erm, teased in High School, what were you then Sam?”
“Well you know G,” Sam said with a broad smile. “I was the star football player, quarter-back, a team player and a winner.”
“Oh yes,” Callen said with a slow smile of his own. “You were indeed a winner, but weren’t you a wide receiver and didn’t you say you were a mathelete?”
“Junior math Olympian G, we’ve had this conversation before,” Sam acknowledged in exasperation, deliberately ignoring Callen’s jibe about his little white football lie.
“So tell me, how did you manage to be a jock and a geek at the same time?” Callen asked.
“Raw, unadulterated talent, physique, brains and natural good-looks,” Sam answered, placing his hand over his heart in sincerity and causing Kensi to snort a little with laughter.
“And from the size of you, no-one would argue if you had wanted to captain the Netball team,” Callen’s comment this time caused Deeks to actually spit out his drink as he failed not to laugh at the same time as taking a swig. He was glad it was Callen who came out with that as he couldn’t see him getting away with that remark.
“Ok genius,” Sam said turning to face Callen, deliberately putting his antagoniser on the spot. “What about you? What were you like in High School?”
“You just said it Sam,” Callen replied with a sly smile. “Genius.”
“Aw, come on now, you’ve got to give us something more than that!” Deeks exclaimed. “We’ve all bared our souls today so give us something in return…”
“Yes, come on Callen,” Kensi said as she leaned forward and stared in to his eyes. “Were you a jock like Sam? Or a geek, like Sam?”
Sam shot Kensi a look, to which Kensi tilted her head to one side and raised her eyebrows.
“Nah,” added Deeks. “I reckon he was more like me, in the style of Ferris Bueller. Not up to my level of course, but close…”
Callen observed his audience and thought for a minute. His High School years were fraught with change, anxiety and uncertainty. He was lucky if he stayed in the same school for more than two months sometimes, and that was if he actually turned up to class. Deeks was right. In fact they all were. Depending on how he felt at any given school and the type of family he’d been placed with, he had naturally slipped into any American High School stereotype he fancied. His favourite was the jock, although he had brains and did not partake in the social subculture of bullying, that was so frequently associated with that particular label. But he had loved sports. He loved the physical freedom, the adrenaline rush, the challenge and winning. He decided to answer them honestly, but maybe leave out the fact he had not attended school consistently for a variety of reasons, and had actually been expelled from one – all down to a misunderstanding of course.
“I went to about thirteen different High Schools in this State alone, and no Deeks, I was never the class clown – class smart-ass at times though,” Callen said with a smile to Deeks, who nodded his head in appreciation. “Star swimmer in my last school, and I was pretty hot at track and field. And not to boast Sam, but top of the class too.”
“See,” Sam said with a shake of his head.
“See what?” Callen asked, looking a little puzzled as he was convinced he had just bested Sam, and was sure that his partner was not about to challenge him about his educational prowess. Although truth be known, he had only been top in one test…School and him was anything but a match made in Heaven.
“Most of those sports are individual sports, G, as is being top of the class,” He replied.
“So? You never said you were going to assassinate my character with this information. And anyway I was never at a school long enough…” Callen attempted to pull off his best ‘hurt-puppy’ look and failed dismally. “I’m hurt. This is why I don’t talk to you.”
“Ha, what goes around…” Sam added, pleased to have gotten his own back after the ridicule he always received from his partner, although on reflection today he’d generally had the upper hand.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Callen asked in amusement.
“Woah guys,” Kensi interrupted, before the two could go off on an argument about who was best, worst, most annoying, most talented and the most natural agent…she’d heard it all before and didn’t care to go through it all again this evening.
“Hm,” Sam shook his head and took a swig of his beer. He caught the attention of the waitress and signalled another round of drinks for the table.
“So Callen,” Deeks changed the subject a little. “You were only undercover for what, five minutes as a teacher today? What would you have done if you’d had to teach all day?”
“Well first of all I’m clearly the only one of us capable of such an assignment. I still can’t believe you were all too scared to stand in front of a bunch of kids at school.”
“No,” Sam interrupted. “I think you’ll find that you asked each of us first as you were being your typical lazy self so you didn’t have to go in.”
“Lazy?” Callen questioned, secretly peeved that Sam knew him all too well at times. “I have more undercover assignments under my belt than all of you put together.”
“Really?” Deeks challenged. “I think you’ll find me and Kens have had more than our fair share in the last three months…”
“Well that’s because you need more practice than I do,” Callen retorted, causing Deeks to smile and shake his head.
“Really?” It was Sam’s turn now. “How many times have you been made in the last six months? I had to save you from being blown up with that suicide bomb vest, you were made to drink cyanide…do you really want me to continue?”
Callen looked into Sam’s eyes and caught a glimpse of the seriousness behind the remark. No, he thought, he did not want Sam to continue. Although no one had verbalised it – yet – it had been his plan to bring the Janvier back to the US, which of course had led to the horrendous torture of Sam and Deeks. He quickly pushed the thought to the back of his mind and instead said pointedly, “Clearly none of you were up for the challenge today. Thanks Kensi…”
“Oh yes,” Kensi’s eyes gleamed as she remembered the undercover alias that had been created specifically for her, a woman. “What was your alias’s name again, Callen?”
Callen looked at her, sighing dramatically as he raised his eyebrows and said, “Valerie Bellridge…”
As soon as he uttered the name ‘Valerie’, his team cracked up.
“Yes, laugh it up, the class did too until they realised not to mess with me”
“Ah, so you went in as a strict teacher then?” Deeks asked. “The kind that all the kids are scared of. You’ve probably scarred them for life!”
“Do you really think I want a bunch of fifteen year old kids walking all over me?” Callen asked Deeks, as he had a brief flash of what he’d been like with substitute teachers – in fact most teachers – when he’d been at school.
“Ah, good point,” Deeks conceded as he too recalled the havoc and mischief he used to cause in class.
Callen’s cell vibrated on the table and he leaned forward to check the sender. It was Eric. “Message from Eric,” he announced, hoping they weren’t about to be recalled to ops for an urgent case. He opened the message and shook his head in dismay.
“What is it?” Kensi asked as she shared Callen’s concern they may have to return to work.
“Neither he nor Nell have so far found any evidence that Deeks’ Touching Wood exists.” Callen said looking up at his team, his gaze lingering on Deeks.
“Ha, that sounds so wrong when you say it like that,” Deeks said, running his fingers through his hair. He was convinced that no footage existed and was relieved that Eric hadn’t tried to fabricate some. It had just been him and two other guys and in reality, they had never gotten further than jamming a few times in someone’s garage.
“Eric will pull through for me,” Sam said turning to Callen.
“You wish,” Deeks grinned.
“Nah, Nell will come good,” Callen said, taking a swig from his fresh bottle of beer the waitress had just delivered to them. He was convinced that Nell had a crush on him and he was sure he could wrap her round his little finger if necessary.
“You reckon? Has she taken down that blog yet?” Sam asked, his eyes glinting with amusement as he stole the opportunity to once again get one over on his somewhat annoying partner. This was a moment to relish.
“What?” Deeks asked as Callen looked sharply at Sam. “Ah yes, the blog. It’s a good job your stalker doesn’t live in my neighbourhood; she’d be blogging, tweeting, instagramming and facebooking about me permanently.”
“I think you’ll find she has more discerning tastes, Deeks,” Callen said as he watched Kensi pick up her cell phone and tap away furiously. She scrolled down the screen a few times, paused and looked up at the team triumphantly.
“Well Callen, I agree she has more discerning tastes but you must have done something to upset Nell as this blog is still running – last updated – thirty minutes ago,” Kensi passed Callen her phone.
He took hold of the handset and saw there were already five new blogs about him from today. He raised his eyebrows as he read how Elise had finally built up enough courage to accost the postman to find out his name. Callen was thankful that he lived there under an alias. The thanks was short lived as he read the next entry. She now had his post and a reason to knock on his door to make direct contact. The next blogs were about how she had fallen asleep in the afternoon sun and dreamt she was laying in his arms, his strong embrace keeping her safe and warm. She had dreamed that she had awoken and found herself staring in to his beautiful blue eyes. Callen cringed as he realised that within minutes the rest of his team, and probably Nell, Eric and Hetty would be reading this. His eyes moved to the latest blog and his eyes widened as he knew this had to stop now.
Elise had grown impatient that he’d been out since early morning and not yet returned. She’d knocked on his door and when she didn’t get a response, she had peeked through the windows. And of course to her surprise and confusion she had found an empty house; a shell. Now she was questioning exactly who her handsome, enigmatic and lonely neighbour was. Her last sentence had her fantasising about whether he was could be a fugitive from the law or a secret agent, hiding out in suburbia.
Callen quickly finished his drink and made excuses to leave. His harmless blogger had just turned into a stalker and whilst she may still be harmless, he was knew that cyber-terrorists scanned the internet for certain types of ‘chatter’. He left his team to their banter as he pulled out his cell and phoned Eric to call in all favours to get his neighbour’s blog removed permanently.
Callen drove home under the cover of darkness. He parked his car around the block and jumped some fences to arrive undetected. He opened the back door, walked in and kicked the door closed behind him. Without turning on any lights, he dropped his bag on the floor and headed straight to the fridge where he grabbed a bottle of beer. He twisted off the cap and threw it in the sink as he turned and headed to the living room. Barely glancing at his sparsely decorated surroundings he sat down in his only chair and leaned back with a sigh. He’d recently started sleeping in the gym and on the couch in the bull pen again. Three years in the same place had made him sloppy. His neighbours were obviously getting too familiar with him and though it pained him to even think it, it looked like it was time to move again.