Snippets Swept From The Floor

An NCIS: Los Angeles FanFiction

Because nobody knows you and your secrets quite as well as your hairdresser.

A series of one-shots that are not entirely serious. Alright, they're not in the slightest bit serious. And for once, this should be a maim-free zone, so readers of a nervous disposition need have no fears. Until I get to the chapter about Marty, that is. Hmmm – what damage could I inflict with a pair of scissors? Will that fabulous hair emerge unscathed?

Chapter One: Callen

"Mr Carl!" As ever, he was greeted with open arms. Literally. Joshua-James enveloped Callen in a warm embrace, managing to transfer a goodly amount of his sparkly bronzing powder onto his friend's face. "It's been too long. Far too long. And I mean that most sincerely." JJ placed his hands on his hips, surveyed his friend and shook his head sadly. "What did I tell you about making regular appointments and keeping them?"

"That they were essential?" Callen ventured, running his hand nervously through his short crop. It didn't look at all bad to his eyes.

"Mmm-hmmm. And it's been how many weeks since you came in?"

"About four?"

"More like six. And just look at the state of you." JJ spun Callen around so that he was facing a mirror. "Disastrous. Completely ruins the whole look. We were aiming to give the impression of being mildly intimidating, weren't we?" JJ was under the impression that Mr Carl had some shadowy existence in the enforcement end of film production and harboured secret hopes that his client might be able to open some very lucrative doors for him. "And now you look as dangerous as a florist on Prozac."

Sometimes Callen wondered why he put himself through this ordeal. But once he was lying back in the chair, having his scalp massaged by JJ's expert fingers he could feel his cares drift away on a cloud that smelt like Heaven laced with lemon-verbena, mint and rosemary and Callen remembered exactly why he kept coming back to JJs salon. Because there was nothing quite like it. This was his one escape, his one indulgence in what was otherwise a pretty frugal existence. While he was content to own less possessions than the average American pet, it was a different matter when it came to his hair. Only the best would do.

Over the years, Callen had spent a small fortune on his hair: regular appointments with JJ, expensive shampoos and conditioners, hair brushes made with the finest boar's bristle and by a company with a Royal Warrant to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, no less. And it was all worth it. He was worth it. Because hair was unique – it let a man say something about himself. It told people exactly who you were. You didn't need to have an identity when you had a hairstyle that said it all. And that was comforting, when you had no idea who you were.

"You've been skimping on the conditioner too, haven't you?" JJ remarked. "Wash and go is all very well when you're in your twenties, but a man of your age and in your position has to start respecting his hair. It won't be here forever, you know."

"What do you mean?" Callen sat bolt upright in the chair, spraying soap suds all around him. "I've got a great head of hair. Full coverage, no thinning, no receeding hairline. Don't I?" Suddenly, he was worried. Who the hell would he be without his hair?

JJ reached out a hand and pulled him back down into the chair. "You've obviously got some sort of magic mirror in your bathroom, then. One that tells you exactly what you want to hear." He finished rinsing Callen's hair before wrapping a fluffy towel around his head and leading him over to the cutting station. "Mr Carl – how long have we known each other?"

"Ten years?" Callen guessed.

"And have I changed in that time?"

Callen bit back his immediate response, which was that JJ sure as hell had, given that Joshua-James had been Jennifer-Jane when they first met. The gender reassignment surgery had been a long and often painful process. "Well, yes. Of course you've changed."

"Hallelujah. Mr Carl - I've got news for you. You've changed too. Look."

His gaze drawn inexorably to the mirror, Callen looked on in horror as JJ pointed out the subtle changes in his hairline. "It's probably gone back about half an inch. But don't worry – it's still a strong look and with your bone structure, you can carry it off. Or you could always grow a fringe – sort of sweep it over to one side, you know? Hide what's no longer there?"

"And look like Justin Bieber? I don't think so." Good God, even Mr Carl had some pride, which wasn't easy when you were lumbered with a name like that. Callen still wasn't sure who had come up with that cover-name, but he had his suspicions. And one day the guilty party would be brought to justice.

"We could always add some low-lights, make it look like your hair is thicker?" JJ mused, clearly on a roll now.

"What are you trying to tell me?" Callen sunk back into the chair and watched with considerable horror as JJ produced a hand-mirror and proceeded to angle it so that he could show Mr Carl exactly where his hair was starting to look less full – there was no way either man was going to say the dreaded word "thin", far less mention the possibility of imminent bald spots.

Oh God – I look like a teddy bear that's been hugged too often. Callen tilted his head from side to side, trying to assess how bad the damage was. No matter which angle he tried, there was no doubt that there were a couple of areas where his hair was not covering his scalp quite as thickly as it had done in the past.

"How long?" he asked in hollow tones. "How long before I'm bald?"

JJ batted him lightly on the side of the head with the towel. "Stop being such a drama queen, Mr Carl. You're not going bald. Yet. You've probably got at least another 10 years before you need that prescription for Rogaine. Or there's always the possibility of a hair transplant. Look at how Matthew McConaughey's career burst back into life when he got his new hair."

"You're so reassuring, JJ."

"I aim to please. So – what'll it be then?"

"The usual," Callen said firmly.

"I can't persuade you to change? Maybe be a bit more daring?"

"JJ – I lived through the eighties and early nineties, which were basically the years that taste forgot. I'd quite like to forget them too. I've been there with bad hairstyles - I even had a mullet, for crying out loud. I'm through with all that. I just want my usual."

"You could still stay short but go for more of a boyish vibe? You know – introduce some movement, use a little bit of gel – distract the eye from those laughter lines?"

"I've told you before I'm not interested in Botox."

JJ laughed. "That's what they all say, Mr Carl. Until they hit forty five and then they come running back to me. I could do you a good deal, you know? Maybe throw in a complimentary waxing?"

"I'm still not interested, And I'm a long way off forty-five." Callen pretended he hadn't heard the snort of disbelief that greeted this last statement. "Just the usual, alright?"

"Have it your way. So, that'll be the modified buzz cut and an all-over application of Clairol Light Ash Brown?"

Callen nodded. JJ was the only person in LA he trusted with his secret. It had been a hell of a shock to realise he was going grey, and while George Clooney carried off the look with considerable aplomb, Callen knew he was not quite in that league. Hence his regular visits to JJ.

"Just remember not to leave it so long next time," JJ advised as he mixed up the dye. "Your roots were terrible."

When he left the salon a couple of hours later, Callen looked and felt like a new man – one with a full head of brown hair, with subtle hints of dark gold. JJ had been right about those low-lights after all. But there was still no way he was growing a fringe.