Author's Note: ...1
On Monday, Sam came back to work, fully refreshed but slightly grouchy from being grounded all weekend. He and Callen traded barbs and insults all morning starting with the topic of who had the most saves, then branching out from there in a myriad of directions to include who had the most scars (Callen), who had the best pickup lines (Sam because he got Michelle), who was the best shot (Sam grudgingly gave that to Callen), who was the strongest (hands down to Sam), who was the better liar (slight edge to Callen), who was the better driver (after much protest Sam took that honor), who was the better fighter (they couldn't come to agreement on what a fight was so they called it a draw), and a host of other stupid comparisons. Hetty got so tired of hearing them she sent them on a wild goose chase just to get the dynamic duo out of the office and her earshot.
After banishing them, Hetty returned to her desk, sat in her chair and nearly rapped her chin on her desk because her chair was so low. Slowly getting out of it, she examined the mechanism that raised and lowered it. It must have failed as she sat because it had been the perfect height a few minutes earlier. She raised it back up, cautiously sat and thought no more about it when it seemed to hold.
Later that evening when she went to get into her car to go home, she took another unexpected plunge as if someone had repositioned her car seat to the furthest most position from the steering wheel. She couldn't reach the steering wheel or the brake or gas pedal. Annoyed, she had to readjust her seat.
The next day back at the office, again she found her seat at her desk in the lowest position and again that night her car seat moved. Over the course of the next couple of days, other odd little things kept happening besides the sinking desk chair and the elongating driver's seat. First, a number of her items in her office seemed to magically get moved to shelves just out of her reach. Even in the ladies room, the paper towels mysteriously ended up on top of the dispenser, way above her normal reach. She reviewed the tapes of the garage but had no luck in spotting the culprit. The final straw was when she went home one night, went into her kitchen to prepare dinner and discovered every item in her cupboards had been moved to the topmost shelf. She was pretty sure who was doing this and even had an inkling of what it was in retaliation for; but she still hadn't caught the person with a smoking gun so to speak, so she set a trap.
Hetty was sitting at her desk the next day when she saw Callen go flying through the hallway in front of her desk, towards the gym. A faint odor drifted to her olfactory sensor and she couldn't stop the smile that crept on her face. She was pretty sure the trap had been sprung and she headed off to the gym to confirm.
Awhile later when Callen emerged from the locker room, freshly showered, wet head and wearing a long-sleeved, light blue, buttoned up shirt, she was waiting.
When he saw her, he pulled up short. He glanced around the gym and found it totally empty except for him and her. "Are you looking for me?"
"Should I be?" she calmly asked.
He gave her a slightly stressed look. "Please don't start that again."
She pointedly stared at his long sleeves which he had not rolled up yet. In all the years she had known him, unless he was wearing a short sleeve shirt or a long sleeve shirt under a suit jacket, he always rolled up his sleeves. If he wore a long sleeve t-shirt, sweat shirt or polo, the sleeves were halfway up his forearms. Long sleeve shirts with cuffs were neatly folded back to the required position. But today, his sleeves were down to his wrists. "You forgot to push your sleeves up. Is the world coming to an end?"
"Ha, ha," he replied brushing past her.
She trailed after him. "Is there perhaps some reason you don't want to roll up your sleeves today, Mr. Callen?" She saw his shoulders blades tighten at her remark. "I have some soothing Aloe Vera in my desk, if you want it."
With that Callen stopped, turned and faced his ninja boss. "That wasn't very nice Hetty," he griped. "I could have been seriously hurt."
"So could have I, having to get a ladder to reach the necessity to make my dinner last night. And how did you get past my security system?" she questioned him.
"I'm a Special Agent. I have skills," he drolly replied.
She smiled smugly, cocking her head to the side. "But what you don't have is any hair on your forearms, do you."
With an aggravated sigh, he pushed up his sleeves displaying his red, hairless forearms. "Your little fire bomb did the trick nicely thank you very much."
"I do hope there was no damage to the interior or my car."
He ruefully shook his head. "Not a scratch."
"Goody. Glad to see I haven't lost my touch. Don't mess with my car, Mr. Callen."
"Duly noted," he sincerely replied.
Callen thought the war was over when he left for the night. He couldn't wait to get home as his forearms felt like they had a bad case of sun burn, but he had been too stubborn to ask Hetty for her lotion. On the way home, he bought a big bottle of Aloe at the drugstore and slathered his arms with it when he got home.
For once he was tired so he climbed the stairs to his bedroom, flung his clothes on the floor in a pile and dropped onto his bedroll. He was sound asleep when his phone went off, displaying an emergency message to return to Ops immediately.
Groping in the dark, he found his pile of clothes and pulled the shirt over his sleep tousled hair. Next, he felt for his jeans but couldn't locate them. Grumbling, he walked over and flipped the light switch for the overhead light. As the room was illuminated, he scanned it but still couldn't find the elusive jeans. His socks and boots were where he'd tossed them. Still a bit groggy from being woken up from a deep sleep, something that rarely happened, he decided he must have taken his jeans off in the bathroom and left them there. However, a quick scan of said room came up empty; no pants.
Finally deciding he had to get to the office, he went to his closet to grab a new pair of jeans. Flinging open the door he looked inside and found shirts, but no pants except for a single lone pair of jeans, neatly hung on a hanger. "What the hell," he growled before he stalked to the single, beat up dresser in the room and started flinging open the drawers. Socks and shirts greeted him but not a single item that went on the lower half of the body, other than underwear. As he opened the last drawer he found a single pair of pajama bottoms, red flannel, with an Oreo cookie pattern on them.
He started cursing in Russian, as he held the ridiculous pajama bottoms aloft. Tossing them on the floor, he stalked back to the closet and dragged the lonely pair of jeans out. An examination of them showed they were skinny jeans at least a size or maybe two smaller than he wore. His eyes darted from the damn skinny jeans to the Oreo pjs on the floor. His eyes glinted for a second, as a thought occurred to him. Dropping the jeans onto the floor, he practically sprinted for his to-go bag. Ripping open the zipper, he peered inside and groaned as he discovered it had been stripped of any form of pants or even shorts.
His phone urgently buzzed again and glancing at it, he saw it was Sam. "You get the call G? Do you know what's up?"
Callen was about to say it was a hoax when his phone got a second call which showed Kensi was calling him.
"Wait a second G. Deeks is calling" Sam said as he put his partner on hold.
Callen eyed the two pair of pants on the floor. He had thought this was a Hetty hoax but even she wouldn't go as far as to wake up the entire team just to get even with him, would she?"
When Sam got back on the line, he offered to pick Callen up but Callen passed, saying he could get there sooner on his own. He had already decided he was going to make a quick stop at the Walmart on the way to Ops, emergency or no emergency. That was an easy decision; the hard one was what pants to wear into the store so he could buy a new pair of jeans. As much as he detested the thought of putting on either pair, he decided that getting arrested for indecent exposure and having to be bailed out of jail by Hetty would be worse.
Switching to Spanish to continue his cursing, he grappled with the skinny jeans, trying to pull them on. Tug as he might, he could not get them all the way up. Peeling them off his thighs, were they had gotten stuck, he threw them back on the floor and reached for the Oreo pajama bottoms. He figured if anyone asked, he could say his child was sick and being a good father, he'd hurried to Walmart to buy his sick son medicine without thinking to change out of his jammie bottoms.
Procuring his phone, gun and wallet he was suddenly stymied. What the hell was he supposed to do with them? The pjs had no pockets and the holster he threaded on a belt to hold his SIG only worked if one was wearing a belt. The pajamas had no belt loops; no big surprise.
Stomping downstairs with his hands full, he grabbed an old, plastic Chinese takeout bag lying on the counter and dumped all his stuff in there feeling vaguely stupid. If he ever had to draw his weapon, he'd be dead before he could fish it out of the plastic bag that smelt vaguely of soy sauce.
His car keys were on the counter and he scooped them up and headed out the front door. As he stepped into the dark, a flash went off and he stumbled, nearly falling off his small stoop. He was desperately trying to find his gun in the bag, when another flash occurred. "It might be nicer if you smiled," a familiar disembodied voice drifted out of the darkness.
Callen stopped digging for his gun and looked around. There on his lawn stood his ninja boss, who was snapping pictures of him. He turned around and went back into his house. He was tempted to slam the door in her face but he didn't. Once they were both inside and the door shut from any prying neighbors that might wonder why there was a photo shoot on Callen's front lawn at 2:00 a.m., he rounded on her. "This was a hoax! How did you get Sam and the rest to play along?"
"I didn't. I simply used some technology to make you think they were also getting an alert. All smoke and mirrors. The rest of your team is at home, snug in their beds."
Shaking his head, he walked into the kitchen, opened the fridge, seized a beer, flipped off the lid and chucked it in the sink. "Want one?" he offered and she shook her head no as he downed half his bottle in a single gulp. "You broke in my house," he accused.
"I have skills too," she mocked.
He drained the rest of the bottle before setting it on the counter. "My jeans?"
"In the washer."
"I don't own a washer or a dryer for that matter." When she simply stood there and patiently gazed at him, he added, "I do now don't I."
"As usual, I got you a very good deal. You will save a lot of money not having to go to the laundry mat."
Grumbling like a teenager he replied, "Maybe I like going there."
"Perhaps, but Michelle Hanna thinks you like to show up at her house with your dirty clothes and hope she will do them."
Callen walked back into the living room and flopped in his chair. "That was once, because I ran out of quarters and clean clothes. And for the record I offered to wash them but she said something uncomplimentary about my laundering skills."
Hetty took up residence on the sofa she had purchased for him, using his money, a few years ago. "Couch seems to be holding up well," she said running a hand over it as she set the camera next to her.
"You did a good job picking it out Hetty," he grudgingly admitted. "I'm sure you did an equally good job with the washer and dryer. Am I to assume you raided my account again?"
Hetty gave a whisper of a sigh. "We have had this conversation before. Let's not hash it out again shall we?"
Callen shook his head. "What about those pictures you just took," he said gesturing to the camera.
"Oh, them," Hetty said innocently looking at the camera as if she had forgotten all about it. "Let's just say they are insurance."
"I think the term you are looking for is blackmail," Callen corrected.
Hetty shook her head in feigned disgust. "That is such an ugly word. If you behave going forward and don't step over the line, then these photos will never see the light of day. Step out of line..."
Callen winced. "You know that is the text book definition of blackmail." She said nothing, just sat their calmly staring at him as he ran weary hand over his face. "Do I get a warning of some sort, when I am getting close to the line? Behaving isn't my strong point."
Hetty freely laughed. "No it isn't. Yes, you'll know when you are getting close to exposing yourself."
"Fine. Can I go back to bed now, in my new pajamas? By the way, a matching top would have been nice."
Rising from the couch she replied. "In the washer, with your jeans. You might want to put them in the dryer before you go to bed or you will have nothing to wear in the morning."
"It's already morning," he grumbled pushing himself out of the chair.
"Watch the temperature setting on the dryer. You don't want to shrink your jeans," she added as she headed for the front door.
"Yeah, because that already happened to the other pair of pants you left upstairs for me," he reminded her.
"I do know exactly what size you wear, Mr. Callen. And I don't make mistakes, unless it is deliberate."
Callen realized that was a dig for two weeks ago when he accused her of not getting his size right when she was outfitting him for the undercover assignment with Deeks. "Touché."
"Goodnight," she said walking out the door to her car.
Callen stood and watched until she pulled away. Shutting and locking his door, he headed to the small laundry area attached to his kitchen. There stood a brand new washer and dryer and as promised, the washer was full of his pants. Transferring them to the dryer, he carefully selected a temperature and headed back to bed. It had been a long night.
A few weeks later, he and Sam came up with the brilliant idea to celebrate a particularly bad case by raiding Hetty's liquor stash. As they opened the drawer, Callen spotted a single Oreo cookie sitting on top of the bottle of scotch they had been about to pilfer. The agent slammed the drawer so fast he nearly took off his surprised partner's fingers.
"What the hell?" Sam angrily groused.
"It's over the line Sam. What we are doing his over the line," he repeated as he frantically scanned the area for his ninja boss.
Sam shook his head. What was up with Callen? He was definitely spooked about something. "A minute ago you thought it was a great idea. In fact it was your idea."
Callen brushed past Sam and hurried away from Hetty's desk. "Well now I think it is a stupid idea." Back in the bullpen, he grabbed his bag. "Come on. We're going out to get a drink. Somewhere where they don't have Oreos."
Sam was sure Callen had just gone off the deep end but he had no idea why. "You buying?" he asked as picked up his own bag and followed his partner down the hall.
"Yeah, sure," Callen answered absent-mindedly as he hurried towards the door, still peering around him like he expected someone to jump out and shout 'boo'. There was a story here and Sam decided it was going to be his mission to ferret it out of his recalcitrant partner.
In the distance, Hetty smiled as she watched the two men depart. You could teach an old dog new tricks, if you gave them the right incentive or maybe that was threat of punishment. Twisting the cookie in her hands apart, she contentedly licked the cream filling off the chocolate wafer as she headed for the fridge. Opening the door, she discovered there was no milk. "Oh bugger." Oreos really did go better with milk than tea.
Author's Final Note: Well the story is complete. Hope you enjoyed it and take a few moments to leave a review. This last chapter wasn't strictly necessary, though it does tie back a lot of events from throughout the story. Enjoy the rest of your summer, for those who read this in real-time.