The Tea Lesson
Disclaimer: I do not own NCIS: Los Angeles.
A/N: Here is my first complete Fanfic and my first for NCIS: Los Angeles. I really like this show and one of the main reasons is Hetty Lange. She's so funny and her humor is so weird. But you know from the show if she was your boss you'd be in the hands of the most capable person on earth. My other reason is LL Cool J. He has been in the fine list since I saw his "I'm Bad" video when I was about eight. I had to do a bit of research for the tea portion of this fic. I don't drink hot liquids- no coffee no hot tea. Therefore, if you were to ask me about my favorite tea I'm going to say sweet tea, no lemon. That's what we southerners drink. My family up north always asks if I want ice. We don't ask for ice; it's just assumed that there is ice in the drink because the official title of the drink is iced tea. We just shorten it. We do have to specify if we want it sweet or un-sweet, lemon or no lemon.
I haven't seen too many stories about Hetty and I think there should be. She holds the team together. Therefore, I'm making my first contribution. If you like it, please review. Even if you don't like it, please review. Thanks in advance.
Warnings: T for a hint of slash. It may go somewhere later…not sure yet.
Chapter 1: CCC Tea
Operations Manager Henrietta Lange quietly surveyed the office and its surroundings. There was the familiar buzz of agents and an employees going about through the morning; this government agency was doing it's best to protect America and her people. The NCIS team, hand picked by herself for her reasons, was the best. Well, with the exception of Gibb's team in D.C. However, if there was a mock mission pitting team against team, she had no doubt that Gibb's team would be sadly sitting in the dust. Not that she was bragging, but she knew the best and she had them. Perhaps I should give dear Jethro a call, she thought, and arrange a "play date". She chuckled at the thought of Agent DiNozzo thinking he could out Callen, Mr. Callen. Not even with a Callen cheat sheet written by the man himself, she thought as she turned to her desk to answer her phone.
After hours of phone calls and viewing reports, it was time for a break. She filled her electric kettle with water and set it on the base to heat. She preferred an old-fashioned kettle, heated on the stove. However, this was much more convenient. She began to peruse her tea selection, contemplating with her hands behind her back. What would be a good mid-morning treat?
Not at this time of day. I prefer that on spa days.
Her hands landed on a silver box with a special blend, an oolong made especially for her. In her variety of teas, she had some that were for general use- just regular tea drinking. She had some that she kept for the sake of the history lesson that went with them. Then there were those that she had made or had chosen to share with each member of the team. She handpicked a tea for them just as she handpicked her team. This one in the box she had chosen for Dom. She had been drinking it the day he went missing; she was testing it out before she shared it with him. Hetty wasn't going to drink it again until he was found and they could share it.
Oh, how about this Masala tea?
This was an Indian blend sent to her from a friend who had recently moved to New Delhi.
Not before lunch. Before she reached out to make her selection, she heard the familiar sound of flip-flops on tile.
"Hetty, do you have a minute?"
"Ah, Mr. Beal, do come in." She gestured for him to have a seat. "What can I help you with today?"
"Well," Eric said. "I need some advice. And I guess I could have gone to Nate, but I don't want him to, think odd of me. Does that make sense?"
"Anymore than he probably already does? I suppose it does. What did you need advice on?"
"I need some advice on asking someone out."
"On a date? I should think you'd have plenty of practice on the art of asking women out, Mr. Beal."
"Women, yes…" Eric's voice trailed off and he somewhat shyly looked at the floor. Hetty made a now-I-understand expression with her eyes and she returned to her tea selection. She selected and placed the tea bag in the cup as the kettle signaled that the water was ready. She poured the hot water over the tea bag to steep it for a few minutes.
"And the person you wish to ask out?" Eric hesitated.
"He's…um…one of the team."
"I know, I mean I've read the book about interoffice dating and everything and I'm not even sure I should be worried about anything you know? I mean he might not even like guys. On the other hand, maybe he does and just won't like me and I could just be getting myself worked up over nothing, you know? As far as I know he's not dating anyone but suppose he…"
"Agent Beal, you're rambling."
"I'm sorry. I just get a little nervous around him and when I talk or think about him. Sometimes even when I talk to him." Eric's cheeks and ears began to pink. As she prepared the tray, she was trying to deduct who had Eric's interest. Who would have this poor young man so nervous? Agent Hanna perhaps? Perhaps it is Nate. He said he didn't want to talk with him about it. Would be rather awkward to ask for his advice and then use it to ask him out.
"Tea." She said she placed the tea tray on the table between her two chairs.
"Oh, no thanks H..."
"It wasn't a question." She placed the cup in his hands and sat in the chair opposite from him.
"I call this CCC Tea, known to most people as English Breakfast. I drink it to be calm, be clear and to concentrate. So who is this agent you so have your heart set on?" Eric swallowed hard and barely whispered,
"You'll have to speak a little louder than that, Mr. Beal." Eric looked around, just to make sure no one else in earshot.
"It's Agent Callen. I want to ask him out."
"So why don't you? You are two consenting adults with lives outside of the office."
"Hetty, I can't just go up to him out of the clear blue and ask him for a date without knowing much about him." She sipped her tea.
"I thought that was the purpose of the date."
"Yes, I mean it is. But I need to know first if he is gay. There's no point for the date if he isn't. Do you have anyway way that I can creatively find out, without embarrassing myself if he isn't?" The Ops Manager sat back in the chair and pondered.
"You could ask the team. Maybe someone knows."
"Oh no I couldn't do that! It is too soon for all of them to know."
"If the two of you began dating, then everyone would know." The fear on his face turned him pale and she thought that he might be right. "How about one team member? He and Agent Hanna are close. Perhaps he would know at least if Mr. Callen was dating anyone." Eric thought about it. Maybe Sam did know.
"Suppose Sam doesn't know. What do I do then?" He tried sipping more of the tea but it was having the opposite affect on him. He wasn't calm, his mind was nowhere near clear and fear most certainly kept him from concentrating.
"You may just have to ask him." Her phone rang. "Pardon me," she said stepping over to her desk and answering it. A few seconds later, she looked at Eric. "Mr. Beal, we will have to continue this conversation a little later. I must take this call."
"Thanks for the help so far Hetty," he said leaving her office. Before going back upstairs to command central he saw Sam getting a cup of coffee. He took a deep breath and decided to ask him the question.
"Hey Sam, you got a minute?"
"Yeah, what's up E?" he asked, stirring sugar into his mug.
"You and Callen are partners and I was wondering if you could tell me something about him." Sam raised an inquisitive eyebrow.
"I'll try but your best bet will probably be to ask him yourself."
"I know, trying to make that my last resort. Two questions." Eric glanced around to make sure he was nowhere near but lowered his voice anyway. "First one, do you know if he's dating anyone?"
"Not that I know of." Eric breathed a sigh of relief. That means he had chance, maybe.
"Ok. That's good. Second question," his voice even lower. "Do you know if he's gay?" Sam gave him a look that Eric couldn't decide if it was shock, confusion or disgust.
"Wha...What? Is he gay?" The volume in Sam's voice rose. "What the world…"
"Shhh, please lower your voice." Eric said in panic.
"What in the world would make you ask that question?"
"Can't really tell you right now I just need to know."
"That one I can't really answer."
"Can't or won't?"
"Can't 'cause I don't know. I'm not sure I want to know either. You'll have to find out that one on your own."
"I figured as much. Can you please keep this between us? I don't need him to know I asked you."
"Secret's safe. Good luck finding out," he said, giving him a good luck pat on the shoulder. Defeated, he returned to the communications room.
About an hour later, Callen and Sam entered the comm room to wait for the video conference from an overseas ship. They were early, on purpose, Sam's suggestion. While Callen's back was turned to them, Sam nudged Eric to make use of the time and ask G what he needed to know. Eric violently shook his head. He mouthed I'm-not-ready-yet to Sam. He thought he was but was so afraid to ask. Sam shrugged his shoulders as if to say its-your-love life. Just then, Kensi joined them in the room with a stack of papers in her hand.
"Ugh. How hard can it be to pick a darn invitation?" They all turned to look at her as she dumped the papers on the table.
"Whose invitation for what?" G asked, sending shivers down Eric's spine.
"My cousin's wedding. She and her mother had a fight about color, invite size, envelope size, whatever. Her fiancé is a missionary working in Haiti right now and can't help her choose. So I'm stuck with the decision." They all looked what she had to choose from. "Plus they have a poem they want in the invite, along with the wedding and reception info."
"Do any of these colors match what the bridal party is wearing?" Eric asked.
"Yes, all of it."
"Wow, big spectrum." Sam said looking at two shades of red, two of orange, one pink, two shades of blue, and a one yellow.
"Is she going for a sunset?" Nate asked, joining the table.
"Your guess is as good as mine." Kensi replied. Eric took a plain white invitation and began to put something together.
"Try this, plain invite. A picture or drawing of sunset on the front. That should take care of most of the colors. Open it up and put poem here on left," He wrote poem in the inside left. "Wedding info here," he wrote that on the right side. "Reception info on the back of that page and gift registry across from that."
"I'm impressed Mr. Beal," Hetty said walking in. "Perhaps the CCC tea did you well." Eric shook his head.
"Not really." It was then Sam realized that Eric had gone to Hetty first to ask for advice on G.
"I'm impressed too. Thanks, Eric."
"I hope your cousin likes it."
"Who cares if she likes it? She told me it was my decision and I've decided I like what you created." Just then, the console let them know the video feed from the ship was ready for them to join. An hour and a half later, they disconnected and made plans on how best to start the assignment at hand.
"Well, I'll get started on the searches." Eric said.
"I'll help you with that when I get back. I have to drop this off at the printers. This was a great idea. Lunch is on me. What do you want to eat?"
"Where are you going?"
"I was thinking Dude's Deli."
"Oh, a California Turkey, please."
"Nope, that's good. Thanks Kensi."
"No, thank you Eric." Sam and G left to check out the lead given to them by the ship's captain. Hetty went back to her office and Nate headed out to get lunch for everyone else. Eric was alone in communications. He had started his computers searching for information. He turned to look at the screens on the other side of the room and saw that Kensi left some of the sample invitations on the table. A thought came to him. Maybe the CCC tea did work, just a little delayed with him.
A little over an hour later, the team started filtering back in from various errands. Kensi came upstairs with Eric's lunch and to inform him of the lead she thought about while in line at the deli. G sat at his desk, an envelope with a "G" printed in the middle and a lollipop taped to the side of his initial was waiting for him. He curiously looked around.
"Did anyone see who left this on my desk?" He asked aloud. "And it's cherry, my favorite."
"Don't ask me. I was with you." Sam said, smirking to himself when he realized what the envelope could possibly be. None of the other employees around had seen anything. G opened the envelope and found a card with a picture of several pieces of candy on the front. He opened and found a poem inside.
A confectioner feels joy surrounded by his creation of sweets,
But it pales in comparison of what I feel when our eyes meet.
I would literally walk a mile
For a glance of your handsome smile.
Each candy maker chooses his candy style to create,
An easier decision than asking you out on a date.
Fear of rejection has kept me a bay,
Keeping me from what I want to say.
Each night in my bed, I sigh,
Wondering if you will accept a date from this guy.
However you decide, please leave me a note in empty locker 55
G was at loss for words as he read the poem. He desperately looked around for who could have written it. More importantly, who knew his secret? Was it who he hoped it would be? He tried very hard to keep so much of his life to himself and the thought of someone he worked with wanting to share it was a bit overwhelming. Just then, Nate came in with lunch for the rest of them, but he was on his phone, telling someone he was on his way to his desk right then.
"Mr. Callen can you take Hetty her lunch please?" G nodded. He grabbed his own from the bag and was trying to deduct who could have left it. IT had to be someone who knew cherry was his favorite lollipop flavor. So that knocked down the number of people to Sam, Kensi, Eric, Nate, Dom, Hetty, and Deeks.
Ok, so it's a guy asking. That knocks off Kensi the list. Dom is currently missing. Deeks hasn't been with us long enough. If Sam was with me, Nate was out getting lunch then who was left here? Eric! Eric? Eric wants to ask me out? I never would have thought it was him. Never. Never.
He glanced up at the comm room and could see Eric and Kensi working and searching, wondering. He took their lunches, the envelope and almost ran to Hetty's office.
"Nate's on a phone call and asked me to bring your lunch. Mind some company?"
"Of course not Mr. Callen." She said stepping over to the table where she and Eric sat before.
"Good. I can pick your brain about something then." She looked at his hand.
"Received an interesting piece of mail did you?"
"How, how did you know? Wait you saw you left this on my desk didn't you?"
"Perhaps", she said taking a bite of her sandwich.
"Better yet, you know who left this. Come on Hetty, give me a clue."
"I will not. However if you want advice on how to approach the situation, I will be more than happy to help." G sighed and realized that he would have to take any advice any way she was going to give it.
Eric was eagerly waited the end of the day when he could go down and possibly check the empty locker without being seen. The team had been in and out of the comm room all afternoon after lunch and he only had a few chances to go to the men's room, not to the locker area. He was anxious but trying to not get his hopes up just in case the note didn't have the response he wanted or worse there was no note at all.
He waited until the team all left before he decided to leave. He looked around before opening the empty locker, just so no one would see him. There was a note. He held his breath. The note told him to go to The Wave at 7:30 p.m. The Wave was a little food joint he and other surfers liked to frequent when they surfed. He hoped it was a good sign that G was meeting him there and not someone else playing a joke on him. He rushed home to change clothes. It was still a date. And Sam says I don't wear pants, ha! he thought. He arrived in his flip-flops (he was still going to the beach) with just a few minutes to spare. He looked around and didn't see G. A surfer friend came to him and said someone was waiting for him on the porch side. He walked over to see G Callen with a large grin on his face. Eric almost turned around, too embarrassed to stay. G gently grabbed his hand.
"Hey Eric…wait don't go," Eric stopped and turned to look at G "What you did today was very brave. With all the stuff I do for work, and as brave as I think I am, I wasn't brave enough to ask you out." Eric was shocked.
"You wanted to ask me out? Don't play with me Callen."
"I'm not playing Eric and you can call me G. Come on, let's have dinner and watch the rest of the sunset. We have a lot to talk about." And G leaned over and kissed Eric's cheek. He blushed; wondering deep down inside how much Hetty knew about all of them and never said a word.