That Don't Impress Me Much
An NCIS: Los Angeles Fanfiction
Being the newest member of the team, I thought it would be interesting to explore how Nell feels about her colleagues.
Nate gestured courteously towards the chair with a welcoming smile, nicely judged to put his visitor at ease. "Please have a seat."
"No couch?" She'd been expecting a couch, for some strange reason, but this just looked like a normal office. Well as normal as any office was in the Mission, which was decidedly eccentric. Or should that be eclectic? Anyway, it was quirky, that was for sure. Rather like the people who worked there.
"No couch," Nate agreed. "Just you and me having a chat."
"Mmm." Nell pursed her lips. "This is me, Nate. And you know me. So what's the real reason behind this cosy little, off-the-record chat?"
"Did I say it was off the record?" He looked enquiringly at her.
"That was the implication – wasn't it?" Nell loved these verbal games she and Nate indulged in; they were like the linguistic equivalent of chess.
"It might have been your perception, Nell. But that's different, isn't it? And it's your perceptions I want to talk about today."
"Okay." Nell wriggled in the chair until she found a comfortable position. "Well, coming here was kind of scary, especially my first day. You said you'd be here – and you weren't. So what happened?"
Nate sighed. "I said I'd try to be here, Nell. But it wasn't possible. Things happened. Work things."
"I do work for NCIS now" she reminded him. "So you can tell me. I've got clearance."
"You've not got that sort of clearance. Not yet," he amended quickly. Nell was exceptionally bright and there was no telling how far she might rise within the intelligence ranks, or how fast. "Anyway, I'm here now."
"Yes, you are. And it's really good to see a friendly face. How long did you say you were staying for?" she asked disingenuously.
"For as long as I'm needed." It was only with a considerable effort that Nate managed to stop himself from grinning at her persistence. Nell hadn't changed on little bit – and he hoped she never would. He thought everything about her was just perfect, exactly the way it was.
"Long enough to take me out to dinner?"
"Definitely long enough for that." Nate remembered the last time they'd spent together – the way the candlelight had made her hair gleam in the dark, the way her fingers had toyed with the single pink rose he'd given her. He could remember every single detail of that evening, and he replayed them over and over again in his head. Sometimes, when things were especially dark and he felt he'd been thrown into a maelstrom from which there was no escaping, it was only the thought of Nell that kept him going. That and the hope he would see her again and that they could take up where they had left off.
"I'm going to hold you to that promise." Nell reached out and touched his hand briefly. "I've really missed you, Nate."
"I've missed you too." Their gazes locked and for an instant it was as if it had only been days since their last meeting, not months. And Nate felt that this evening couldn't come quickly enough. "Anyway, back to business. Hetty wanted me to have a word with you."
"She doesn't like me, does she?" Nell said, and her shoulders drooped slightly. "I talk too much don't I? I told Eric it was because I had ADHD, but I don't think he believed me. It's just that…"
"Nell – you're talking too much."
"Sorry. It's just that my mind seems to go so fast and if I don't get the ideas out there, so that people can hear them, then I'm going to lose them. And some of my ideas are good - really good."
"You don't have to convince me – I'm your biggest fan. Who do you think recommended you for this job in the first place?"
"You're prejudiced, Nate."
"Maybe I am – slightly. But your record speaks for itself, Nell."
"That's not going to help if they don't like me," she said miserably.
"Who said anything about not liking you? They don't even know you. Give them a chance. And give yourself a chance. Just slow down a bit, that's all I'm saying."
"Eric doesn't like me. Sometimes he just looks at me. Like this." Nell arranged her features into her best impersonation of Eric looking as if he'd just stepped in dog poo, while in bare feet.
"Maybe he's just impressed and trying to keep up with you?" Nate struggled to keep a straight face. "Your level of intellect can be quite intimidating, you know."
"Not to Eric," Nell said firmly. "Have you ever seen him in Ops? He's like some sort of god in there. All the things he can do. I'll never be that good." She sighed enviously. "And they all respect him. The team, that is. They'll never respect me."
"If you keep on like this, then of course they won't. Nobody wants another Eric – because they've already got him. He's the technical support, you're the intelligence analyst. And it's only been a week. You've still got a lot to learn."
"I was fluent in Mandarin Chinese after a month," Nell reminded him.
"Stop setting yourself impossible targets. Just take things easy for a while. Give yourself a chance to settle down and make friends."
"Like that's going to happen. They all hate me, don't they? That's why I'm here, isn't it?" She knew this job was too good to be true, too good to last.
"On the contrary. Everyone seems very impressed with you. And that's not why you're here. I actually want to talk to you about them." Of all the cunning plans Hetty Lang had ever come up with in her time (and she had come up with hundreds, if not thousands, most of which were still classified, as far as Nate knew), this was possibly the sneakiest and most devious. It had the added benefit of being incredibly simple.
"I hardly know them," Nell protested.
"Exactly." Nate steepled his fingers together and regarded her blandly. "First impressions count. I want to hear all about your perceptions of the team – tell me about how you see them."
Nell began to feel a little calmer, especially now she knew she wasn't about to be ceremoniously escorted from the building and branded a failure. Rumour had it that Hetty had some slight problems with previous post-holders. "You want me to tell you about the team? What I think about them? What I really think about them?"
"Exactly." Nate hadn't missed the gleeful undertone to her voice. It looked like this was going to be very interesting indeed.
"As long as this doesn't get back to them. You've got to promise me that, Nate."
"I promise." Oh yes, this was definitely going to be interesting, he thought.
There's clearly a Nate and Nell backstory, judging from the tiny hint dropped in Lockup. So I decided to expand on the premise that they are old friends -and maybe even something a little more.
Hope you enjoy this story. Reviews are like chocolate - I can never have too many of one or too much of the other!