by Sweet Lu
Hetty let out a deep sigh and tossed her cellphone unceremoniously onto the desk as she tried to control her emotions. She was angry and deeply concerned for her missing team, but yelling at Callen had done nothing to solve the problem and she practically growled when Granger handed her a much-needed glass of scotch.
“Still pissed I see,” he remarked as he settled in across from her. “The hospital is keeping Nell overnight and she’ll be fine. Callen and Sam will find the others. You know that.”
“Since when are you the voice of reason, Owen?”
“Since you need me to be,” he replied. “Haven’t seen you this rattled in awhile.”
“How did an elite team of Federal agents manage to get themselves kidnapped during a weekend in Vegas?” Her frustration bursting out unchecked.
“Want some good news?” Granger asked coolly.
“You could have led with that, Owen,” she breathed out before downing the last of the scotch.
“Techs got a hit off facial rec for one of the men that had Nell,” Granger said. “Long history of arrests, and his last place of employment was a brothel in the desert northeast of Vegas. I sent the information to Sam. It’s a good place to start.”
Before she could answer, Hetty’s main line rang and she shot Granger a quizzical look since it was almost midnight.
“Sorry to bother you so late ma’am. I’m Colonel Russo, Chief of Intel at Fallon Naval Air Station in Nevada. Can you tell me why I’m receiving emails in German with your name on them?”
“Who’s the sender?” She asked.
“Herr Beale. Lots of weird stuff attached that makes no sense,” the colonel replied.
“Forward it to me immediately, Colonel Russo,” she said with a growing smile. “You’ve just made my day.”
“If you say so ma’am,” he replied. “Do you want the location of the sender as well?”
“That would be very much appreciated, Colonel,” she said. “If you have a preference for a certain scotch please let me know that too.”
“Good thing I worked late then,” he laughed. “Shouldn’t ask, but maybe someday you can tell me the story behind all this.”
“Colonel, I’m looking forward to finding that out myself,” she said and hung up.
“How’s your faith in your wayward team now Henrietta?”
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, Owen,” she said as she opened her laptop. “I doubt they’re out of danger just yet.”
Kensi pulled off the road and behind the Buckaroo Casino and cut the engine, waking Deeks from the short snooze he had fallen into. He gasped as he sat up to undo his seat belt and Kensi gripped his shoulder as he rode out the obvious pain.
“How do you want to play this?” She asked, the worry plain on her face. “I know you’re hurting, so don’t pretend you’re not.”
“What gave it away?” He asked, flashing a quick grin that faded into a grimace.
She ran her hand across his shoulder and into the hair at the base of his neck, her thumb caressing the side of his cheek, trying to will some strength back into him.
“I’m good to go Kens,” he assured her. “Phin won’t keep Eric alive for long, now that he thinks he has what he wants.”
“I think we should find a working phone and call for backup,” she said. “You know they’re looking for us.”
“Thought there was no cell service out here.”
“I think Lorraine was lying about that,” Kensi said, with a teasing smile. “It was before she wanted to get you in the sack.”
“Eeewww, Kens. That image is not helping,” shivering at the thought.
“She did save your life,” she reminded him.
“Well, that won’t be her reward,” he said.
“Better not be, pretty boy,” she teased.
“Could you not use that nickname? It sucks,” he pleaded.
“I’ll consider it after we rescue Eric,” she said, opening the door and pulling Angela’s gun.
Deeks followed and they made their way up the deserted road toward the brothel. The chilly air sharpened his mind a bit and he did his best to ignore the pulsing pain in his side. When Kensi entwined her fingers with his he felt her strength and pulled her closer as they walked.
“Got an idea about the phone,” he said. “One of us hits up one of Lorraine’s customers to let us make a call. Some of them should be leaving about now.”
“Should be me,” she said immediately.
“Do you really have to ask that question?” She said as she fluffed out her hair.
“Yeah, no. Right,” he smiled. “Do that Portugally accent you used on that woman at the call girl place.”
“Portugally? That’s not even a word Deeks. It’s Portuguese.”
“Whatever, Wikipedia. It was sexy as hell.”
“Oh, I think the southern accent will work just fine out here,” she drawled as she undid the top two buttons on her shirt.
“You’re not trying to pick the guy up, you just want to use his phone,” he said, a bit irritated.
“Really? Have you seen the guys going in and out of that place?”
“Wasn’t really looking at the guys,” he said quietly as they approached the parking lot of the brothel.
“Deeks,” a definite warning in her voice.
“I didn’t mean it that way,” he said defensively. “How about that fine looking specimen?”
A big, overweight bald headed man stumbled against the door of his car and fumbled for his keys. His tank top had seen better days and the number of keys on his chain was impressive and Deeks was about to make a smartass comment when Kensi pushed him behind a truck, handed him the gun and started toward the man.
“Hey honey bun…” She drawled out sweetly. “Could you let little ol’ me use your phone for one tiny second?”
Deeks rolled his eyes at how cheesy she sounded, but the man practically fell over himself handing it to her. She turned her back on the man and quickly dialed a number, as the big guy kept trying to stroke her hair.
“If this is who I think it is, tell me you’re all safe before Sam runs anymore cars off the road,” Callen demanded before she could say a word.
“How long till ya get here, Honey?” She drawled back. “We been missin’ y’all.”
“Got it…you’re not alone,” Callen said. “We’ve got GPS coordinates on your location and are headed your way. Now, answer what you can. Anybody hurt?”
“I’m just fine, but cousin Marty ain’t feelin’ too good,” she drawled and pushed the big man’s hand off her shoulder.
“We’re about to go get ’im,” she said. “How long did ya say you’d be?”
“Twenty or thirty minutes,” Callen said, sounding anxious. “You wait for us, Kens.”
“Afraid I can’t do that, Honey,” she replied. “It’s gettin’ late.”
“Can you two do this?” Callen asked quietly.
“You know us. Just the life of the party,” she said, her drawl slipping as the reality hit her that they were on their own.
“If you can stall, do it,” Callen said with resignation. “If not… take care. But know we’re coming.”
“It’ll be good to see you both,” she said softly in her own voice before ending the call and handing the phone back. “Thanks mister.”
“Don’t I get a thank you kiss or nothin’?”
“Take nothing and get the hell outa here,” Deeks said as he walked out pointing the gun at the big man.
“How long?” Deeks asked, stepping back as the man floored it out of the lot.
“Half hour, maybe less.”
“We go now before it’s too late,” he said.
They nodded and walked purposefully right in the front door, headed for the back room where they’d last seen Eric. There were only a few patrons left at the bar and a couple of the girls were lounging on a ratty looking purple sofa with a couple of johns. Deeks and Kensi’s entrance was barely noticed in the dim light, their movements masked by raucous rock and roll music and they were down the hall before the security guards recognized what was happening. The back hall was dark and Deeks stumbled, unable to hold back a moan as his ribs collided with the wall. A door opened behind them, flooding light into the dingy hall and Deeks turned and pistol-whipped the first guy to step out. The second one tackled Kensi to the floor, but Deeks landed a vicious kick to the side of his head and he rolled off her onto the floor, letting Kensi snatch his gun.
“You’re not really a male stripper are you?” Phin’s voice cut through the dull pounding of the music out front. “Probably not a lawyer either.”
He was standing in the hall outside the computer room with his hand around Eric’s throat and a gun pressed up under his jaw.
“I think you were probably right David,” he continued as the well-built bodyguard stepped out behind him armed with a Glock. “You’re law enforcement of some kind, and David really doesn’t like cops.”
“Then he’s not gonna be too happy when a truckload of Federal agents arrive,” Deeks said, leveling the gun at Phin. “Now let him go.”
“I don’t think I believe you,” Phin laughed. “And I don’t think you want me to splatter your geeky friend’s brilliant brain all over this hall. Of course I could just start with one of his lower extremities… a kneecap maybe, or better yet, one of his hands.”
“Let him go you sonofabitch,” Deeks was pissed now, and his voice became deep and threatening as he watched Eric close his eyes and begin to tremble.
“It’s never a good idea to become attached to people. If you care about them it changes how you respond in situations such as this,” he lectured. “You care about your little girlfriend and I watched you throw caution to the wind whenever she was threatened. It’s debilitating really. Love. Unnecessary and dangerous. It compromises you when you need to be thinking of your own wellbeing. Eric here, broke all his own rules because he didn’t want any of you to be hurt. Love of any kind makes you vulnerable. It’s why Eric was so easy to control. It’s why I’m a multi-multi-millionaire.”
“No you’re not,” Eric said softly.
“What are you talking about?” Phin asked.
“Eric don’t,” Deeks cautioned.
“Tell me Eric or David starts shooting,” Phin was growing agitated and Deeks bit his lip as he saw the man begin to lose control.
“I didn’t hack the Luxor. I just made you think I did,” Eric said, looking relieved and slightly proud.
“You’d better be lying you stupid little shit,” Phin growled in his ear.
“The Chinese code you thought you saw on screen was just a bunch of recipes for Kung Pao Chicken,” Eric said, smiling widely at Deeks.
“Well done, brother,” Deeks said with admiration.
“Fix it!” The man screamed as he dragged Eric back into the room.
Deeks felt Kensi move against his leg as she started to rise and they both fired at once, the loud report echoing down the hall. David returned fire, but he was too late and his shots went over their heads as bullets peppered his chest, sending him flying backwards onto the floor. Shouts from the other guards came from the front room and Kensi nodded toward the computer room as she turned to take on the men charging down the hall. Deeks moved cautiously toward the open door where Phin held Eric, listening for what was being said.
“You’re a genius, dammit,” Phin raged. “Don’t tell me you don’t know how to fix it.”
Deeks stepped into the room and Phin fired, hitting him in the arm, the gun slipping from his fingers as he was spun into the door and slid to the ground.
“Fix it Eric or your buddy dies,” Phin warned as he stood over Deeks, who was fighting to stay conscious.
“No!” Eric yelled and swung a keyboard as hard as he could into the side of Phin’s head, knocking him out cold.
“Eric, give me the gun,” Deeks said softly as Eric stood staring down at the man who had terrorized them. “Eric? The gun. I need to backup Kensi.”
He looked as if he were moving in slow motion, but he finally picked up the gun and handed it to Deeks.
“Might need a hand getting up,” Deeks whispered.
Eric did as he was told, shaking now as he stared at the blood streaking down Deeks’ arm.
“I’m okay, Eric,” he said as he gripped the weapon and stumbled toward the hallway. “Tie that asshole up will you?”
Kensi was crouched on the floor, firing around the corner as Deeks edged over to the wall next to her.
“Eric okay?” She asked between shots.
“Bashed the sonofabitch in the head with a keyboard,” Deeks said with a grin.
“Yeah. Who knew? Think he got tired of listening to the guy,” he replied after firing a couple of shots.
“Think what Phin said was true?” She asked.
“Do you think love makes you vulnerable?”
“Yeah maybe… but it makes me happy,” he replied.
The sound of “Federal agents” being shouted made them both sigh in relief as the security guards began surrendering.
“Kensi? Deeks?” Sam’s voice boomed out in the sudden silence.
“Glad they unplugged the juke box,” Kensi said as she stepped out into the hall. “I was starting to hate that song.”
“Gotta love the fifties,” Deeks mumbled as he slumped back against the wall.
Callen and Sam came around the corner with their eyes wide, checking each one of them carefully.
“What’d you do Deeks? Forget to duck?” Sam asked, shaking his head and glaring at him.
“Something like that,” he replied as Sam pulled off his backpack and began to rummage around for his medical supplies.
“Why didn’t you tell me you were hit?” Kensi demanded.
“It’s not that bad,” he said with a cocky grin, but none of them looked convinced.
“Phin shot him,” Eric said quietly as he stood in the doorway. “I’m so sorry Deeks.”
“Not your fault, brother,” Deeks replied. “You swing a mean keyboard, dude. Thanks.”
“You okay Eric?” Callen asked, grabbing the tech’s shoulder, his intensity almost making him vibrate.
“Did you find Nell?” He asked, “Please tell me she’s all right? Please… I need to know.”
“She’s in the hospital, and she’s gonna be fine,” Callen said gently. “She helped us find you. That and some weird German emails that were forwarded to Hetty.”
“Herr Beale at your service,” he said jauntily, but sagging almost immediately.
“So, how much trouble are we in?” Deeks asked.
“State police are already outside. You’ll probably have to come back and testify, but I’m pretty sure you’ll be in the clear in all this,” Callen answered.
“He means at home,” Kensi clarified.
“Hetty yelled at me if that’s any indication,” he replied with a smirk. “But it’s Sam you should be worried about. He made some pretty inventive threats on our drive up here.”
“Me? You threatened to place ’em under house arrest if they ever try to go to Vegas again,” Sam said.
“Sounds good to me,” Deeks said, his eyes closed as Sam worked on his arm.
“He needs to get to the hospital, G,” Sam said softly. “Think they worked him over pretty good.”
Sounds of a commotion in the front made Deeks jerk away from the wall and he wrapped his arm around his ribs as he tried to head toward the familiar voice raising loud objections in the bar. Sam tried to stop him, but he would have none of it, glaring down at the big agent’s hand on his arm.
“That woman helped us,” He said coolly. “Now let go of me.”
Lorraine was being restrained by a couple of state troopers when he got to her. She was using some cuss words that would make most men blush as she demanded to know what was happening.
“Calm down, Lorraine,” Deeks said, the rest of the team close behind. “She owns this place, boys and she helped us stay alive.”
“Look what they did to my place, Marty,” she said sadly as the men let go of her and backed away.
“What happened to Dumb and Dumber?” Deeks asked, unable to keep from smiling.
“Had to hit ’em a couple more times to keep ’em in line. Then a big, tall, good lookin’ state trooper came along and arrested the two dimwits,” she responded as her eyes roamed over Sam and Callen. “You gonna introduce me to your new friends, Sweet Cheeks?”
“Sam, Callen? Meet Lorraine. Former dancer at the Buckaroo Casino,” Deeks said as she made a beeline for the two suddenly shy men.
“You ever do any strippin’ baby?” She cooed at Sam, running her hands down the front of his chest. “Women would go crazy over these big muscles of yours.”
“I got a job, ma’am,” Sam said, stepping away from her, but smiling.
“You could work weekends, Sam,” Deeks quipped with a laugh.
“And you need to get that gunshot wound taken care of, Sweet Cheeks,” Sam said.
“Oh, Sugar, I’m so sorry,” Lorraine said, fawning over him immediately. “Was it one of my guys?”
“It was your son,” Kensi said.
“My Phin shot you,” looking shocked and then angry. “Where is that stupid sonofabitch?”
Angela and Phin were being escorted out when Lorraine caught sight of him and she was off on another tirade, berating the man unmercifully as she followed them out the door.
“Can we go now?” Eric said. “I really hate this place.”
The trio straggled out to the SUV Callen and Sam had driven up in, their energy flagging now that the battle was over and they were safe. Deeks was asleep before they passed the neon cowboy on the top of the Buckaroo Casino, and his snoring filled the silence as they headed back to Vegas.
“He’s awake,” Nell said.
“No I’m not… go play blackjack or something…” He mumbled and turned away, snuggling into his pillow.
“They did give him some pretty powerful pain meds,” Kensi said as she sat down beside him and ruffled his hair.
“Wait… where are we?” He suddenly asked, popping his head up from under the covers, and scowling at the unfamiliar room.
“The Tower Premium Suite at the Luxor,” Eric said, his beard now gone and his hair blond again. “Both rooms comped by the CEO himself.”
“Hetty made a call. Told him what Eric did to keep them from being out ten million dollars,” Nell explained.
“I’ve got a free suite for life, whenever I want it,” Eric crowed. “And gambling privileges too. I am no longer ‘persona non grata’ in Las Vegas.”
“You earned it, buddy,” Deeks smiled as he eased himself up onto the pile of pillows Kensi was fluffing behind his head.
“You look exhausted,” Nell said softly. “Come on Eric, let’s go see what kind of trouble we can get into.”
“Don’t say that,” he snapped, his eyes wild. “Don’t even think that. Now I won’t be able to have any fun… why did you say that?”
Nell waved at them as she dragged Eric out of the room, the door clicking softly shut behind them.
“What day is this?” Deeks whispered as he snuggled down into the bed. “Shouldn’t Nell still be in the hospital?”
“They let her out this morning,” Kensi said. “And you slept the day away in this bed. Don’t you remember?”
“I remember the loud lecture I got from Sam and the short, scary one from Callen and the incredibly long one from Hetty,” he ticked each one off on a finger. “Granger just growled I think.”
“Sam and Callen were worried about you,” she told him as she ran her fingers through his hair. “And so were Hetty and Granger. They were worried about all of us.”
“Really?” He asked quietly. “Sounded mad to me.”
“That’s the way they show they care,” she replied.
“How do you show you care?” He asked, slowly stroking her arms.
“Would you like me to demonstrate?”
“Where should I start?”
He lifted the blankets and peered underneath.
“I’m already naked,” he said, smiling up at her and wiggling his eyebrows. “Your turn.”
“Okay Sweet Cheeks… move over.”
“Now you’ve ruined it.”
“Oh Sugar, I’m just getting started,” she said in a sultry Portuguese accent.