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A Storm in the Desert

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Sam Hanna had barely cleared the front door of “Dovecote”, Hetty’s Hollywood home, when he heard his name being called and running feet.

“Sam, Sam!” Seconds later, he had an armful of enthusiastic Grisha.

“Hey, miss me?” Sam asked with a laugh as he accepted the hug.

“You were gone forever!” Sam could hear the pout in Grisha’s exclamation.

Sam squeezed tighter. “Sorry buddy,” he said apologetically. “The bad guys weren’t co-operating.”

“Did you get them though?” Grisha pulled back enough to give him a serious look.

“Of course I did!” Sam told him.

That earned him a smile. “You need to come see my ducks,” was all Grisha said though and he took one of Sam’s hands to tug insistently.

“Okay, okay,” Sam chuckled, letting himself be pulled through the house.

He was led to the conservatory, at the back of the house, where a large table was covered in a colored array of origami ducks.

“Looks like you’ve been busy,” Sam commented as he took them in.

“This one is you!” Grisha announced, picking up the sole black duck on the table and handing it solemnly to Sam.

Sam took it carefully and lifted it for a closer look. “It is?” he asked.

“He’s bigger’n all the rest and protects them,” Grisha told him, stumbling slightly over the word ‘protect’. Sam looked into the earnest blue eyes that were watching him. “Do you like him?” Grisha sounded anxious.

Sam gave him a reassuring smile. “Of course I do.”

Grisha smiled back sweetly, face lighting up with innocent pleasure and Sam swallowed hard.

“Grisha, it’s time to wash up for dinner,” a crisp British accent announced from behind them.

Sam turned to see Duke, Hetty’s security guy and Grisha’s de facto guardian watching from the doorway. Grisha didn’t argue, just gave Sam a quick hug again before heading off after Duke. Sam sank into a chair and carefully set down the duck, before rubbing absently at his chest, then leaning forward.

“It is hard, is it not Mr Hanna?” Hetty’s quiet voice wasn’t a surprise.

Sam didn’t look up, just nodded in agreement. Hetty came to sit in the chair next to him.

“There’s been no progress?” Sam asked.

“The doctors remain confident they will have a breakthrough soon.”

Sam looked up. “And you Hetty?” he asked her. “Are you confident?”

She gave him a slight smile. “I am confident we will do everything in our power to look after Mr Callen, whether he reverts back to the man we know and love or remains locked in this child-like state.”

Sam nodded, knowing that was true.

“Come, it is time to eat,” Hetty said, patting his knee. “I made mac and cheese at Grisha’s request.”

Sam smiled, knowing it was his partner’s favorite thing in this new, altered state. “Sounds good,” he agreed and followed after Hetty to the kitchen.

*

The next day, Sam took Grisha to the zoo. They’d had a discussion about animals the evening before, as Grisha had filled him in on his trip to a local park, where there had been a pond full of ducks. That had been the inspiration for the raft of origami ducks in the conservatory.

Grisha had been eager to see the wide variety of animals at the zoo and peppered Sam with questions all the way there. Sam did his best to answer them all and promised they could look for books in the gift shop afterwards. Sam also foresaw a plush animal or two in their future, but knowing what Grisha’s real childhood had been like, he couldn’t begrudge him anything he wanted.

It might be considered a waste of time and money when Grisha eventually recovered his memories, but Sam didn’t care. And he refused to say ‘if’ not ‘when’, when he thought about his partner’s future, refusing to countenance the possibility that he wouldn’t recover.

*

They walked around the zoo hand-in-hand and Sam felt nervous that they might get comments, as they were two men without any children. But although there were a few looks, especially when Grisha babbled at him about whatever they were looking at several times, Sam didn’t hear anything negative. It was a relief, because he wasn’t in the mood for trouble, he just wanted to enjoy Grisha’s company.

Lunch was completely unhealthy, burgers and sodas near to the alligator, which Grisha was fascinated by. Afterwards, they spent a long time browsing the shop, coming out with a plush alligator and T-rex, along with books on evolution and dinosaurs. Sam also spotted a book of origami animals, so he added that to their pile as well, making Grisha’s face light up.

“We’ll get some paper from Target,” Sam told him.

Grisha clapped his hands excitedly, making several people stare, but fortunately he was oblivious. Sam glared around and people looked away sheepishly, so he relaxed a little and they made their way to the counter to pay.

The young lady serving on the till was cheerful and friendly, engaging Grisha at the right level, clearly picking up that he wasn’t functioning as an adult, despite appearances. Sam thanked her with a grateful smile as she handed over the bags of items.

“Enjoy the rest of your day!” she smiled back, with a wave to Grisha as they headed for the exit.

*

When Sam got back from his usual morning run the next day, Hetty was waiting for him, looking serious.

“What’s up?” Sam asked, immediately on edge.

“There has been a development,” Hetty said. “The doctors have a treatment.”

Sam smiled. “That’s good news!”

“Perhaps,” Hetty said.

Sam frowned, wondering why she wasn’t enthusiastic. “What is it?”

“The doctors are concerned that it will be extremely painful,” Hetty told him.

Sam sinks into a chair at the kitchen table. “How?”

“Briefly, the way his cells will be rewritten could cause side effects, including seizures, coma and death.”

Sam went cold all over at that. “What do they think the chances are that it could happen that way?”

Hetty sat next to him. “They don’t know,” she said. “They have run simulations and conducted some tests on mice and there was a fifty percent success rate in the simulations, but only a thirty three percent success rate in the tests on the mice.”

Sam blew out a breath at those statistics. He didn’t know what to say. Hetty reached out to touch his arm and he looked up at her. “We don’t have to decide immediately Sam,” she told him. “There is no harm to him continuing as he is at present, so we can take some time to think this through and meantime the doctors are working to refine this treatment, to try and improve the odds.”

Sam nodded. “That sounds like a good plan,” he agreed.

“Indeed,” Hetty said. “Patience will serve us well here.”

*

After that, Hetty persuaded Sam that he should spend some time with Grisha at her Venice beach house, “Ancora”. It allowed them to spend time relaxing on the beach, as well as visiting the Heal the Bay Aquarium, which Grisha loved even more than he had the zoo.

But spending evenings with Grisha without the buffer of Hetty and Duke just brought home to Sam how much he missed his partner. He loved Grisha, but he missed G, the jokes, the banter, the sarcasm, even the fast food. So he called Hetty on the second night.

“I think you should say yes,” he said abruptly as soon as she answered the call.

“Mr Hanna?” she sounded confused, a rarity for Hetty.

He nodded, even though she couldn’t see. “Yeah. I think you tell the doctors that you want Grisha to have the treatment.”

There was a long pause before Hetty asked, “Why?”

Sam sighed. “I miss G,” he admitted in a low voice. “I love Grisha, of course I do. But I want my partner back.” It wasn’t like him to let Hetty hear him so vulnerable, but he needed her to understand where he was coming from.

“Oh Sam,” she said quietly. “Of course, I will call them tomorrow first thing and make the arrangements.”

“Thanks,” Sam said. “I’ll explain it all to Grisha. It’s my choice, so it’s only right I tell him.”

“Very well then Sam, I will let you know once I have a time and a place. Good night.”

“Good night Hetty,” he replied softly and ended the call. He swallowed hard. It wouldn’t be easy to tell Grisha what was happening but he felt in his gut this was the right call to make.

*

The next morning, Sam sat down with Grisha after breakfast. “I have something to tell you,” he said.

Grisha gave him a wide-eyed look, clearly picking up on Sam’s serious tone. “Are you going away again?” he asked anxiously.

Sam smiled. “No, I promise I’m not going away again. But I wanted you to know that the doctors have found a way to treat you.”

Grisha kept watching him. “Okay,” he said. “Will it hurt?”

Sam winced. The question sounded so innocent when Grisha asked him like that, trusting look on his face. But he couldn’t lie. “Yeah,” he agreed. “I’m afraid it will hurt Grisha, maybe a lot.”

“Could I die?” Grisha’s voice trembled as he asked the question in a soft voice.

Sam took his hand. “I’m sorry buddy, there is a chance of that.”

“But you want the other me back,” Grisha said matter-of-factly. “You like him better.”

“No!” Sam protested vehemently. “I love you Grisha, but this isn’t who you are.”

Grisha pulled his hand away. “I want to go to my room.”

“Okay,” Sam agreed helplessly and watched Grisha walk away, feeling his heart break. That had been every bit as unpleasant as he’d imagined and he could only hope that when it was over, he still had a partner to forgive him for his choice.

*

A few hours later, Grisha had still not reappeared from his room and Sam had lunch on the table, so he went to look for him.

“Grisha,” Sam called, as he knocked on the bedroom door. There was no answer. “C’mon buddy, it’s lunch time,” Sam said, as he knocked again.

When there was still no reply, he tried the handle. It wasn’t locked, but the door wouldn’t budge. “Grisha!” Sam called more insistently, worried now. Shoving at the door with his shoulder had no effect, so he guessed something must have been moved in front of it.

Deciding there was no way in from the door, Sam hurried out of the house and round to the window. There, to his dismay, he found it was wide open and looking in, he could see the room was empty and the dresser had been pushed in front of the door. Sam swore as he pulled out his cell phone to call Hetty.

“We’ve got trouble,” he said as soon as she picked up.

“Mr Hanna, what is it?” she sounded calm as always.

Sam was back in the house now. “It’s Grisha,” he said. “I told him what the plan was and he got upset, went to his room. I’ve just gone to get him for lunch and he’s missing. I’ve no idea when he left or where he might be.”

“Well, it is fortunate I decided to get him a tracker then,” Hetty remarked and Sam gave a sigh, he should have known that Hetty would be prepared for any contingency. “Give me a few moments to get the tracker data.”

Sam listened to the click of keys for a minute, then Hetty gave a sound of satisfaction. “I have him,” she said. “It looks like he’s on a bus about a mile from the boat-shed.”

“I can be there in no time,” Sam said., already reaching for his car keys.

“No.”

Hetty’s single command stopped him cold. “No?” he asked.

“Grisha is clearly upset at the moment, let me get Mr Deeks and Miss Jones to collect him. They are the ones he has responded best to other than you or I.”

Sam sat heavily on the couch. He knew that Hetty was right, but it still hurt. “What do you want me to do?” he asked.

“You remain where you are, I will meet the others at the boat-shed. and speak with Grisha there. I will then return him to you.”

“Okay,” Sam agreed, seeing the sense in what Hetty was saying. “I’ll see you soon.”

“And Sam?” Hetty stopped him as he was about to hang up. “Try not to worry, I’m sure he will come around.”

“I hope so Hetty,” Sam answered her softly, then clicked his phone off and tossed it aside.

*

Lacking anything else to do, Sam decided to start work on his mission report. What was supposed to have been a brief stint as security and protection for Vance on a trip to Afghanistan with SecNav had turned into something a lot more complicated and frustrating, especially without his partner there to back him up. It meant the report was going to be tricky to complete and so it required all his attention, ensuring he wouldn’t be brooding about Grisha and the future.

Eric sent him an update to confirm Deeks and Nell had found Grisha without difficulty and he had gone with them to the boat-shed. without issues. After that, it had gone quiet and Sam got into his report. It came as a surprise when his phone claimed his attention and Sam was surprised to realize how much later it was. Eric had sent him another message to say Hetty was on her way with Grisha to the beach house. Sam grunted and tossed the phone aside. He was nearly done with his report and wanted to be finished before they arrived so that he wasn’t distracted.

Sam had just hit save on his report when he head the door open and Hetty saying something to Grisha. He shut down the laptop and pushed it aside, then headed through to the lounge, to find Grisha trailing Hetty, who carried a couple of pizza boxes.

“Hetty, Grisha,” Sam said, waiting to gauge their mood.

“Good evening Mr Hanna,” Hetty said with a nod, continuing through to the kitchen with a quick lift of the pizza boxes.

Sam nodded back and turned to Grisha, who had red eyes and a truly miserable expression. “Grisha?” Sam asked softly.

“I’m sorry Sam!” he blurted out loudly, then winced. “I’m sorry I runned away and scared you,” he added more quietly.

“Hey, come here,” Sam held out his arms and Grisha practically threw himself into Sam’s hug, arms coming around to grip Sam hard.

Sam hid his wince in Grisha’s neck as he ducked down to whisper soothing words in his ear. Grisha relaxed after a moment, but didn’t let go of the hug, so Sam kept hold of him, rocking them slightly.

A delicate cough drew them apart after a while. “Pizza’s getting cold,” Hetty announced.

Sam pressed a kiss to Grisha’s forehead. “Let’s eat.”

Grisha’s stomach rumbled, making Sam laugh and Grisha blush. Sam took his hand to guide him through to the kitchen, where Hetty had plates and napkins waiting. She was pouring drinks for them as they sat down.

“Once we have eaten, we have things to discuss,” Hetty said and Grisha’s expression fell again.

Sam squeezed his hand. “Hey,” he said and Grisha looked at him. “It’s all good Grisha.”

Grisha nodded, although he didn’t look convinced, his expression lightened a little and he started eating enthusiastically enough. Sam was grateful for Hetty as she kept light conversation going throughout the meal, drawing Grisha out to talk about the things he’d seen at the Aquarium.

*

After the pizza was gone, Grisha helped Sam clear the table while Hetty made tea, then the three of them settled in the lounge.

“Now,” Hetty said, once they were all seated. “Grisha and I had a long talk earlier about things. The good news is that the doctors are making progress on the treatment and if we wait a little longer, there is a much greater likelihood of it being successful.”

Sam watched Hetty closely, but couldn’t detect any hint of deception about what she was saying. He nodded, but decided to reserve judgement until he could talk to her without Grisha present.

“That’s good,” he agreed. “And I don’t see any problem with waiting. What about you Grisha?”

Grisha gave him a surprised look. “What?” he asked, clearly confused.

Sam gave him a patient smile. “Are you happier about the prospect of taking the treatment if we wait a while like Hetty suggested?”

“I guess,” Grisha said, less than enthusiastically.

Sam moved closer to him and took his hand. “You know I love you right?”

Grisha nodded but didn’t say anything, although he did cling tightly to Sam’s hand. “Right, well I want what is best for you Grisha and I believe that you taking the treatment and going back to your adult self is the best thing.”

“Why don’t you like me now?” Grisha burst out, pulling his hand away and moving away from the couch.

Sam cast a look at Hetty, but she didn’t say anything, leaving it to Sam to resolve. Sam carefully stayed put as looked over at the dejected figure of the man he loved. “I do like you Grisha,” Sam told him firmly. “I’ve told you that before and you know I don’t lie to you.”

“They why do you want me to change?” Grisha asked, lower lip trembling.

“Oh sweetheart,” Sam said with a sigh, unable to resist going to him. “I want you to be the man you were before. Being like this isn’t a real life for you and you deserve your life back again.”

Grisha looked at him from wide blue eyes that were filled with tears and Sam pulled him into a hug, just like he had earlier. Grisha clung on and sniffed loudly, clearly trying not to give into tears.

“It’s okay,” Sam told him and at that Grisha did start crying, so Sam guided him back to the couch and got them settled again.

Hetty stayed quiet, but didn’t leave and Sam was grateful for her presence, as he weathered Grisha’s emotional storm once more.

Eventually Grisha’s body went lax and when Sam looked, he could see that he had fallen asleep. He gently eased out from under him and laid Grisha out flat on the couch, pulling down the folded blanket on the back to cover him. Grisha didn’t sleep a lot better now than he had before the change, but Sam thought he’d probably be out for a couple of hours.

When he looked up, Hetty was beckoning him to the kitchen and he followed after her. “Tea Mr Hanna?” she asked.

He shook his head, he wanted something stronger, but settled for pulling a beer from the fridge. He could risk one without clouding his judgement. Hetty made her tea, then joined him at the kitchen table.

“That could have gone better,” Sam commented after they’d sat in silence for a while, sipping their respective beverages.

Hetty snorted. “Unfortunately, we are dealing with a very delicate situation here with Grisha. He wants to understand what we’re telling him, but lacks the ability to do so. I do believe he trusts us though Sam, particularly you, but the thought of being hurt scares him greatly.”

“I get that,” Sam agreed. “He doesn’t really understand that he’ll still be here, but with all his older memories back again.”

“The good news is that the doctors have managed to improve their success rate to 80% in both simulations and mice trials. With the additional resources they now have, they expect that to rise to at least 95% within the next two weeks.”

“Additional resources?” Sam raised his eyebrows but Hetty’s poker face was impeccable, so Sam just nodded and said, “Two weeks is manageable.”

“I do believe that we should go back to Dovecote tomorrow though, you will have the additional support from Duke once more, which is essential as you must also start attending appointments with Mr Getz.”

“You’ve recalled Nate? Is that really necessary.”

Hetty stared him down again, so Sam sighed and nodded acquiescence once more. To her credit, Hetty didn’t gloat over his surrender just finished her tea. “We should prepare for bed,” she announced. “Grisha will be awake again soon and it will be easier to persuade him to move to the bedroom if we are retiring for the evening as well.”

“Okay,” Sam agreed, finishing his beer quickly and taking the bottle to rinse before putting it into the recycle bin.

He followed Hetty from the kitchen and while she went around checking and securing the doors and windows, Sam made sure the bedroom Grisha was using was ready.

*

Two weeks later, Sam and Grisha were on their way to Balboa Naval Hospital for the treatment. Hetty hadn’t been able to go with them, because of a last minute call to Washington that had Sam very suspicious. But she had arranged a private jet for the trip to San Diego and then a car and driver at the other end. It made it easier to manage the journey and Grisha had been excited to be flying. Fortunately, the pilots had been briefed ahead of time and had allowed Grisha to make a visit to the cockpit.

Once at the hospital, there was a staff member waiting to greet them and lead the way to the private wing where Grisha would receive the treatment. Sam helped him get changed into the hospital gown and settled on the bed, before a nurse came to take basic information and vital statistics for their records.

“This will give us a pre-treatment baseline,” she explained to Sam, who was holding Grisha’s hand. “The doctor will be in momentarily to discuss the treatment with you.”

“Thank you,” Sam said with a smile as she finished and wheeled her equipment cart away. He looked at Grisha. “How you doing buddy?”

Grisha didn’t manage to smile, he hadn’t enjoyed having his blood taken. But then, even before this, he had never liked needles. “I wanna go home,” he almost whined.

Sam squeezed his hand. “I know buddy, but we agreed to do this didn’t we?”

Grisha sighed and nodded but didn’t say anything else. Fortunately, the doctor arrived a few minutes later, breaking the awkward silence.

“Good morning, I’m Dr. Grayson and I’m in charge of your case today,” he announced.

Sam nodded to him. “Hey Doc, I’m Sam Hanna and this is Grisha.”

Dr. Grayson smiled at Grisha, who mumbled ‘hello’ after a prod from Sam. “We’ve got a treatment room being set up for you and I’ll explain everything when we get there.”

Grisha looked nervous. “Why not here?” he asked.

“We have to go to a special room with equipment that lets us monitor you properly,” Dr. Grayson explained.

Grisha shrugged at that. “Okay,” he said. “Do I have to wear this though?” he plucked at the hospital gown. “I’m cold.”

“We can get you a robe to wear,” Dr. Grayson said with an understanding smile. “Some slippers for the walk as well. I’ll send back Nurse Debbie with those for you, while I go make sure the treatment room is set up. Once I’m sure we’re ready, Nurse Debbie will bring you down there.”

“Thanks Doc,” Sam told him and he squeezed Grisha’s hand, which was still gripping his tightly.

“I’ll see you in a little bit then.”

*

Before long, they were following Nurse Debbie down a long corridor and into a large, brightly lit, white room. Grisha was still gripping Sam’s hand tightly and he was clearly reluctant, but going along.

Inside, Dr. Grayson was waiting for them, along with several other personnel. A hospital bed with monitoring equipment was in the center of the room.

“Ah, Grisha,” Dr. Grayson said, as he saw them hesitate at the doorway. “Please come over here.” He gestured to the bed and Sam gently pulled Grisha into the room and over to the bed.

Nurse Debbie came over to take back the robe and slippers, while Sam helped Grisha get comfortable. Another man then approached and pulled out leather straps with buckles on the end.

“What’s that?” Grisha immediately asked, shrinking back against the bed.

“Restraints,” the man said impatiently.

“What?” Grisha turned to Sam, who looked to Dr. Grayson for answers.

The doctor stepped forward. “This procedure will be painful Grisha, but it’s important you remain in place while it goes on. The restraints are the best way of ensuring that.”

“We didn’t discuss this,” Sam said in his best interrogation voice, staring down the doctor at the same time.

He looked confused. “I explained it to Miss Lang,” he stammered. “When I explained the whole procedure to her.”

Sam studied him carefully and then nodded sharply, not detecting any hint of deception. “It’s really necessary?” he asked.

The doctor swallowed hard and nodded. “Yes, the procedure will be stimulating all of Grisha’s nerve endings, as it changes his cells, it will be painful but once begun, it must be completed. It would be more dangerous to abort the process partway through.”

“Give us a minute,” Sam told him and turned to Grisha, who was still cowering on the bed.

Grayson murmured agreement and he and the other man backed away. Sam took both of Grisha’s hands this time and gazed at him. “I’m really sorry sweetheart, I don’t know why Hetty didn’t tell me about this.”

Grisha’s lips were trembling and he was clearly fighting not to cry, but a couple of tears still slid down his face. He bit his bottom lip hard as he stared back at Sam. “I’m scared Sammy,” he choked out and Sam pulled him into a hug, rubbing his back and whispering soothing nonsense as he did so.

To his credit, Grisha pulled back quickly. He had more tears on his face, but he also had a resolute look in his eyes. “I’m gonna do this,” he said, trying to be brave, even though his voice was breaking.

Sam pressed a kiss to his forehead. “You’re so brave.” He turned to Dr. Grayson, who waited at the side of the room. “Alright,” he said.

The doctor rejoined them. “I’m really sorry no one told you Grisha,” he apologized. “Thank you for agreeing to carry on.”

Grisha nodded, sniffing hard and someone handed over some tissues for him to dry his face and blow his nose. At the same time, Dr. Grayson started to fasten the leg restraints himself and Sam admired him for doing that.

*

The procedure was long and painful, as they’d been told, but Sam stayed with Grisha the whole way through.

“You can take a break Sam,” Dr. Grayson told him, but Sam just shook his head.

“I told him I’d be here for him and I keep my promises,” he said. “Especially promises to Grisha.”

“He won’t know,” Dr. Larson, the other doctor present, said. “He’s sedated.”

Sam glared at him. “But I will.”

Finally, though, it was done. Grisha was released from the restraints and they transferred him to a gurney for the trip back to his room. The sedation wouldn’t wear off just yet. Sam followed behind the gurney and then settled in the seat next to the bed, taking Grisha’s hand in his. He would wait as long as necessary for his partner to wake up and let him know if what he’d just endured had been worth it and had worked.

Eventually, Grisha stirred on the bed and hazy blue eyes blinked open and stared at Sam. “Hey,” he said with a stupid smile.

Grisha just stared at him for a while longer before speaking, making him nervous. “Sam?” he croaked out, voice rough from the screaming he’d done at the start of the procedure, before they’d agreed they could sedate him.

“How you feeling?” Sam asked.

Grisha coughed a bit, while Sam reached for the cup of water on the tray table and held it to his mouth. Grisha sipped at the straw without trying to take the cup for himself. After he was done, he paused, clearly thinking things through. Sam bit his tongue, forcing himself to stay patient.

“Where are we?” his voice was still hoarse, but sounded more like the adult Grisha, so Sam felt hopeful.

“Balboa Naval Hospital,” he said.

Grisha looked confused now. “What happened?” he asked.

Before Sam could say any more, the door opened and Dr. Grayson came in. “Well, good to see my patient finally awake,” he said cheerfully. “Let’s see how you’re doing shall we?”

Sam sat back with a frustrated sigh, watching as Dr. Grayson ran through a standard vitals check, before folding his arms and studying Grisha closely.

“What?” he asked with an irritated look that was pure Callen, one Sam had seen countless times when a case wasn’t going smoothly and Sam grinned involuntarily at that. His partner was definitely back.

Callen turned his glare on Sam. “And what are you grinning about?” he demanded. “Tell me what’s going on.”

“What is the last thing you remember?” Dr. Grayson asked.

Callen frowned, then closed his eyes, an intent look on his face. After a long pause, he opened his eyes again. “I don’t know,” he said helplessly. “I don’t remember being hurt or a case. But I have weird memories of the zoo and aquarium and ducks. Why do I remember ducks?”

Sam sighed and reached to take his partner’s hand. “We were on a case,” he said. “A bunch of drug deaths on the Nimitz, which was in Los Angeles for liberty. We found the lab where the drugs were being manufactured – something new.”

Callen was watching him closely, but there was no hint of recognition or familiarity with what Sam was telling him. “I got drugged?” he asked softly.

Sam nodded. “We breached with the React team and several low levels workers surrendered. We’d cleared a couple of offices, then we found the leader of the organization in the last one. She didn’t want to go easily.”

Callen’s eyes widened at the mention of it being a woman. “She?”

“She had a grudge,” Sam explained. “A woman scorned as they say. A Lieutenant Commander who broke up with her because she was obsessed with him. She then decided to take it out on the whole Navy.”

Callen shook his head in disbelief. “So why did she attack me or was it just my usual bad luck with crazy women?”

“Oh no, she definitely targeted you,” Sam told him. The guy she was involved with looks a lot like you.”

“Great,” Callen said with resignation. “I’m never going to hear the end of this am I?”

Sam squeezed his hand. “It won’t be like that.” Off Callen’s disbelieving look, Sam reiterated his comment. “Really G, no one is going to make fun of you over this, not after what you’ve been through.”

“So what actually happened to me?”

“She had some other designer drug she’d created and threw it at you. It was like Spiral, as soon as you inhaled it, you were infected.”

Callen shuddered at the mention of the Spiral case. “You weren’t affected though?”

“The drug only affected you because it landed on your clothing and you breathed it in,” Dr. Grayson jumped in to say. Callen looked at him, surprised and Sam guessed he’d forgotten he was in the room.

“And?” Callen prompted.

“And it stripped you of your memories, as well as affecting some of your nerves and motor functions,” Dr. Grayson explained. “I’ll save you the long boring scientific explanation.”

Callen pulled a face. “Appreciated,” he said and Sam knew his partner might not be stupid but it was the sort of thing neither of them could understand without a medical or biochemistry background.

“You reverted to childhood,” Dr. Grayson continued. “Although we don’t really know what age you were chronologically, it presented as around six to eight years of age, in terms of your behavior.”

Callen looked really dismayed now and Sam squeezed his hand comfortingly. “Hetty and Duke helped me to take care of you,” he explained softly. “Well, they did most of the work,” he admitted. “Especially when I had to go on a classified op.”

“You went without me?” Callen demanded.

“I had to G,” Sam told him. “I’ll explain later.” He cast a quick glance to the doctor as he said it and knew Callen understood from the small nod.

“So what now?” Callen turned back to Dr. Grayson with his question.

Dr. Grayson smiled. “The good news is that so far the treatment appears to have been a complete success. However, we will need to keep you here for a couple of days for monitoring and observation to be sure. The treatment procedure was fairly lengthy and traumatic, as your partner can attest. We want to be sure you’re back to baseline for you before we let you go.”

Callen pulled a face at the thought of time in hospital, but from the weary expression he now wore, Sam thought he understood.

“Alright, I’ll leave you to get some rest,” Dr. Grayson concluded. “I’m sure your partner will be able to fill you in on more details of your situation later on.”

Sam nodded. “Definitely later,” he agreed. “Thanks Doc.” He reached out and shook the other man’s hand and after another nod, he left the room.

“C’mon G, settle down and I’ll tell you everything you want to know in a while.”

“Not a kid any more,” Callen grumbled, but Sam could see he was fighting to stay awake.

Sam smiled at him. “No, but you are looking like a sleepy toddler right now,” he teased.

Callen growled at that, but it was half-hearted at best and as Sam watched, his eyes slid closed and his hand went lax in Sam’s grip. Sam carefully tucked that arm under the blanket and settled back in his chair. He could do with a nap of his own, truth be told and he had no doubt his partner would soon be awake and running him ragged again. Not that Sam would have it any other way.