Title: Need to Know

Rating: PG

Category: Drama

Genre: Gen

Pairing: None

Summary: Callen's adjusting.

Spoilers: 1x01, Identity.

Disclaimer: NCIS, NCIS LA, and the characters therein do not belong to me, and no amount of wishing seems able to change that.

A/N: Don't really remember if Nate left before or after Hetty saddled Callen with a mound of paperwork, but for this I'm assuming after. If I'm wrong… *shrug*

"Callen? A minute?"

G gestures toward the pile of paperwork in front of him waiting to be assembled into some slightly more orderly mess of expense reports. "Got all night."

Nate winces, his expression only mildly sympathetic. "And that looks like it'll take you all night."

"Probably. What's up?"

He knows what's up. He's been waiting all night to have this conversation. And, for some reason, the prospect of being asked to talk about his feelings isn't as terrifying as it once might have been.

Lying in the street, bleeding to death, has a tendency to put things into perspective.

"Just wondering how you're doing." Nate keeps his voice low, even though they're alone but for Hetty—who probably knew how this chat was going to go before Nate even decided they needed to have it—and G appreciates the discretion. He has nothing damaging to say, and he can't think of anything damaging Nate might have to ask, but he appreciates it anyway.

"I'm okay."

Nate pulls out a chair—the only outward sign he doesn't like G's response. "You know the routine, Callen."

He is, in fact, intimately familiar with the routine. He's been through it before and, so far, Nate is taking it easy on him. G's not really sure what to do with that information, though. "I'm not putting you off, Nate. I'm really okay."

"No flashbacks?"

"More like… memories."

"In the field?"

"No." In the middle of the night, or when he passes a Russian woman on the street. But those aren't circumstances where he has a gun pointed at his head, so Nate doesn't really need to know.

"What about when the shooting started? Momentary paralysis? Fear?"

"No, Nate. Automatic weapons aimed in my direction don't scare me at all. Never have."

Nate quirks an eyebrow, frowning without moving his lips. "Above and beyond the norm?"

Nate also doesn't need to know that in the split second as those thugs opened fire on them by the car, G felt lead burn through his chest all over again. And Nate doesn't need to know about the flash of terror that tore through his gut as he stared down the barrel of Luiz Perez's gun.

Sam knows those things. Sam's an excellent undercover agent but even he isn't good enough to hide the looks of concern, or the fact that the queries after the gunfire dies down aren't asking after just G's physical health.

G is okay with Sam knowing. After all, his partner is the one who forced him to hang on as he bled out on the sidewalk on Pacific Ave, and it's kind of hard to deny the man he owes his life.

But Nate isn't Sam. And as much as G knows he wants to help and he means well, Nate isn't in the field. And if he tells Nate just how his heart trip-hammered in his chest at every gunshot today, he'll spend the next month fighting for his field status and he's not really in the mood for that.

He's okay to be back, physically and mentally. But that doesn't mean that every time he opens his door or gets out of a car, whether it's to talk to a suspect or grab lunch, he's not looking over his shoulder for someone who wants another shot at burying him.

And Nate doesn't need to know that.

"Callen?" Nate's shrink-voice, soft and measured, draws him back to the present.


"It's okay."

Where were they? Oh, right. If he's afraid above and beyond what's normal for someone who gets shot at every damn day of his life. "A little. But probably not beyond the norm for someone who has a price on his head."

"Fair enough." Nate pushes his chair back and, with another questioning look that, thankfully, isn't accompanied by any more actual questions, tells him to get some rest. Easy for Nate to say; he doesn't have Hetty after him about expense reports.

When he finally does stretch out on the couch, closing his eyes for five minutes before the expense reports put him to sleep right at the table, it occurs to him to wonder what Nate would say about his habit of sleeping with a gun under the pillow—even in the office.

But that's probably another thing Nate doesn't need to know.