Author's Note: Just a little thing that got stuck in my head when watching NCIS:LA. I have not been a fan of the show long; I'm still on season 1, so I hope the characters are true to form. I had to write this down; it was preventing me from writing anything else! Hope it isn't too bad!
Special Agent Callen shifted in his seat, trying not to go to frown. He hated when stakeouts ran too long. Oh, they were fine for a few hours, where he would consume gross amounts of candy and Sam would make origami out of the wrappers and there was no Hetty to reprove them. But after seven hours and they had nothing, Callen was tired. He tried to sternly reprove himself for plotting practical jokes to pull on Sam, but he was not successful.
He had a feeling Sam knew what he was planning, because he was trying to distract him with small talk. They had burned through the last three World Series, Superbowls, Callen's non-existent apartment situation, and even swapped their favorite Hetty stories. They were running out of "safe" topics and Callen knew they would soon be coming to-
"So, you have no idea what the G stands for, huh?" Sam asked casually.
His past. Callen's hands tightened imperceptibly around his binoculars. "Nope. None whatsoever." He said it lightly; in the almost three years he had been partners with Sam, they had had this conversation a few times. Sam seemed convinced that Callen knew but was too embarrassed to tell him. So he occasionally brought it up. But this was the first time since Callen had been…since Callen's accident.
"Huh." Sam said, shifting in his seat as well. "What was that like? Not knowing your own name?"
"How do you think it was like?" Callen said, a little caught off guard. Sam never asked him that before. "Like Hetty says. G is not a name, it's a letter." He adjusted the binoculars even though they did not need it. "You don't even have a name…why would people care about you? Why would you matter?"
"Hey, man, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to-" Sam said, but Callen interrupted him.
"Naw, it's fine. It's just…I don't like thinking about it. It feels weird." Callen shrugged. "Imagine if your whole life, you were known as S Hanna. That's it. Just S."
Sam looked thoughtful. "That would be weird."
"Yeah." Callen nodded, watching the house in front of them intently. "I remember one of my foster moms misunderstood my social worker and thought my name was Gee, you know, like it was French? So she introduced me to all of her friends as the 'quiet little French boy' she was fostering."
Sam smiled slightly. "Did you set her straight?"
Callen shook his head. "Naw, I played along. She cooked me all these really tasty authentic French foods and even talked about visiting Paris over my school vacation. I really liked her."
There was a note of sadness in his voice. "I was only there two weeks; but she was one of my favorites."
Sam glanced at his partner. Callen seemed to be in another world. He was tempted to ask what happened, but he had learned a long time ago that he probably would like the answer. He finally asked anyway.
"What happened? If you liked it there, and she obviously liked you…why didn't they let you stay?" He asked gently.
"Because the Social Service never really gives a reason for anything they do. Although, I have a feeling that Mindy's –my foster mom- boyfriend got jealous of all the attention she was giving me, and might have asked for me to be removed. I don't know; I was twelve. I didn't ask questions." Callen said, trying not to take the stinging of opening wounds out on Sam. Sam meant well, and Callen brought up the story in the first place.
"I'm sorry, G. I shouldn't have brought it up." Sam apologized again.
"No problem." Callen said easily; trying to ease the tension that had filled the car. There was a moment of silence, then Sam spoke again.
"I don't know; it might be cool to be able to pick your own name. What do you think it could stand for?" Sam's voice was light and teasing.
"I don't know; I used to guess all the time…" Callen paused. "Greg, maybe?"
Sam shook his head. "That's okay…but I don't think it fits. Gavin, possibly?"
Callen made a face. "Gavin Callen? I hope my parents had better taste than that…it sounds funny."
"Maybe it's Geoffrey, like those eggheads from Harvard spell it." Sam said teasingly. Callen pulled his eyes away from the target long enough to glare at his partner, then paused.
"Geoffrey Callen." He nodded slightly. "Not bad."
"George?" Sam ventured.
"Gabe?" Callen countered.
"No, no, no. Gallagher!" Sam said, laughing.
"You are looking up baby names on your phone, aren't you?" Callen accused.
"So what if I am? There are some real gems on here." Sam gave a rare full grin.
"Oh? Hit me with your best shot. I've guessed them all already." Callen shrugged.
"You're telling me as a kid you guessed Gaston for your name?" Sam said, barely suppressing a chuckle.
"Yep." Callen said, amused at the look his partner shot him. "And Gary, Garrett, Gardner, Gage, Galloway, and Galileo."
"Galileo?" Sam asked, nonplussed. "Why did you think Galileo?"
"I thought my parents might be going for the ironic. I guess I'll never know." Callen shrugged.
Sam cocked his head slightly. "That may be for the best."
Callen glanced at him again. "Why do you say that?"
"Because what if you were named Garth?" Sam asked, biting back a laugh at the offended look Callen shot him.
"Do I look like a country music singer?" He scoffed, then paused. "Although, I can do a pretty mean Friends in Low Places…"
"So help me, G, you start karaoke and I throw you out of this car." Sam warned good naturedly.
"Hey, no need for violence." Callen held up a hand. "Besides. I think our guy is on the move."
Both agents were alert for a second, then realized it was a false alarm. They both relaxed. A few moments of silence, then Sam brought it up again.
"Or it could be even worse. Your parents could have been sci-fi freaks and named you Gandalf."
There was a moment of shocked silence, then a folded candy wrapper sailed through the air and hit Sam's head.
"Hey, no need to hurt the swan!" Sam protested.
"I didn't hurt the swan; I threw the crab."
Sam growled slightly, and Callen laughed.
A comfortable moment passed without conversation, while Sam's mind turned back to something Callen had said earlier.
"Mmmm?" Callen grunted by way of answering.
"Whether we know your name or not…you're my partner. You matter. You matter to me. Understand?"
Callen smiled slightly. "Yeah, love you too, man."
"I'm serious, G." Sam said soberly.
"So am I." Callen said, and there was a catch in his voice. "Thanks, man."
"You're welcome." Sam said simply.
A few more minutes, and Sam suddenly spoke again.
"And that is not a crab! It is a swan. You can clearly see the wings!"
Callen shifted in his seat, trying not to laugh. He hated when stakeouts ran too long. But every once in a while…they were worth it.