DISCLAIMER: All characters of NCIS: LA are the property of Shane Brennan Productions and CBS Television Studios.
The time was 10 o'clock.
It was late. Too late.
Hetty walked into the Ops room, bemused to find the only people insider were her two best intelligence agents. They were still in their chairs, pouring over pages and pages of electronic material.
"I thought you two had left for the evening. Surely there's somewhere you would rather be other than here."
"There is, Hetty," Nell replied. "But we were going to finish the reports from today's op before we left. And the Russian government apparently has questions about how a spy could have stayed undetected in California for almost 30 years."
"We're also setting up a conference with the GRU for tomorrow. General Major Sergun wants to be caught up on the situation. Callen's going to do the debriefing," Eric added.
"I read the correspondence," Hetty said, nodding her head. "It's curious that the head of the GRU is personally getting involved. But no matter." She strolled past the large screen, littered with Russian documentation. "I always say that the more information that is shared between allies, the better."
Eric paused, his fingers hovering over the keyboard. "Hetty, you never say that."
"Correction, Mr. Beale. You have never been around when I have said it."
He heard Nell giggle quietly next to him. Whether Hetty heard her as well he couldn't tell. She continued on as if nothing happened. "Let me know when the meeting is, so that I may be present for the briefing. They are a fair bit of time ahead of us, so do keep that in mind."
Hetty glanced at her watch. "In the meantime, I shall retire to my quarters. Unlike most of the agency, I do not have the advantage of youth on my side." She headed toward the door, which slid open to let her through. "Have a good evening, Mr. Beale, Ms. Jones."
"Good night, Hetty," they replied in unison.
For a few minutes after Hetty left, the only sounds in the room were the furious typing of the two agents. The determined looks seemed to infer that they were having a silent contest to see who would get done their report first.
"You're slipping, Eric."
"And what makes you think that?"
"You're only typing at about 78 words per minute, just lower than me."
"So this is a race?"
"Did I ever say it wasn't?"
"You're lucky that Hetty came when she did, or else I'd be done already," Eric snickered.
Nell shook her head slightly, her eyes staying on her monitor. "You keep telling yourself that, GeekToys82."
Eric tilted his head toward her, still typing away. "Still on that, are we?"
"Yes. Yes, we are."
He continued to stare at her, realizing something from the debacle Nell had earlier in the assignment. "You know...you never told me you had a sister."
"You didn't ask."
"OK. I'm asking now."
Nell sighed. She clicked her mouse, transferring her report over to the document folder. She then swiveled in her chair to face Eric. "Yes, I have a sister. Her name is Emily."
Eric finished his sentence with a flourish. "You've never mentioned her before."
"Well, she and I aren't really on the best of terms right now. And that's not even taking into account the whole 'profile' thing."
The tone of her voice was telling enough for Eric to know that it was a sore subject for her, but his curiosity got the better of him. "Where does she live?"
"In Burbank. She's a teacher. Third grade." Nell drummed her fingers on the table. "Nasty little buggers."
"I take it you're not a fan?"
"Not really, no. But she loves the job, so...can't do anything about it."
Nell had failed to notice Eric had vacated his chair, absentmindedly tapping away at his handheld monitor. She stood up as well, her interest piqued. "Eric, what are you doing?"
"OK, what are you really doing?"
Before Eric could reply, the entire room was draped in a red light. Nell looked up at the TV screen to see a very familiar sight.
"Eric, where did you get that? I thought I deleted it hours ago!"
"Nell, my dear," Eric mocked, throwing his arms out at the resurrection of her RomancingTheOne profile, "Thou should knoweth that nothing is ever truly deleted. I will admit, though, that you did try awfully hard. It took me a while to put the data back together."
There was a moment of silence following the exchange, Eric studying the page with Nell standing still behind him, blushing furiously. He studied the page for a moment, then turned back toward her. "So, I have a question for you."
"Yeah?" Nell said, her blush letting up considerably. "And that would be?"
"Why did she set this up?"
She stepped forward, falling into place beside him. "Because...she's worried about me."
Eric raised an eyebrow at her. "Why's that?"
Nell sighed again. "She just thinks that I need to put myself out there on the dating scene. Doesn't want me holed up with my face in a computer screen all day. She seems to believe I'm going to end up alone for the rest of my life."
"Can't fault her for trying to help," he said, shuffling the handheld between his hands. "She's your sister. I'm pretty sure that concern among siblings is part of the contract."
"Yeah, I guess you're right."
"And you know what? She did get one thing right." Eric pointed to the left side of the wall, and Nell followed his finger to gaze at the profile picture.
"That picture? Really?" Nell exclaimed. "That's not even a good photo of me."
"Nell, if this is a 'not good' picture," he retorted, "I would love to see a picture that you would deem 'decent'."
She turned away, her cheeks going pink. "Stop trying to make me feel better."
"What? I'm being serious."
Nell walked over to her chair, grabbing her purse. "I'm nothing compared to Emily. You would probably like her; she's pretty, smart, and can probably hold her own at Starcraft. And I heard she joined a Segway hockey league on the weekends. You'd like that."
"Sure, that sounds nice and everything, but there's one problem."
"Oh yeah? And what's that?" she asked, fiddling with the strap of her purse.
Eric's gaze unconsciously fell back to the profile, landing on her picture. "She's not you..."
"...What did you just say?"
Too late, Eric realize that the whisper he had meant for himself had been just loud enough to carry thought the empty Ops room. He wheeled toward her to see an astonished look on her face. "I mean...she's not you, because if she was you, you would be her, and not here. Being two people would complicate things, especially with a job as secretive as this."
Nell sauntered up to Eric, whose speech was becoming more garbled and rapid. "Naturally, that would be silly; two people couldn't co-exist in the same body. I don't even think we have the technology for that. I could probably find that out if you let me live and go somewhere far far away from you-"
Her hand came up to his mouth, one finger gently covering it, stopping Eric's rambling in its tracks. Silently, she brought it back down to wrap her arms around his waist, giving him a warm hug.
Eric was, understandably, confused. He had thought he was surely going to suffer some sort of traumatic injury. Unless it was coming later, of course. But the hug felt really nice, so he wasn't going to question it.
"Thank you, Eric."
Her words were hushed, but filled with the emotion that he had grown to love so much. It wasn't every day that Nell showed any sort of affection, but the days she did were ones that he was sure to remember.
She straightened up, grinning sheepishly. "Well," she whispered, patting Eric's chest, "I guess I'll see you tomorrow."
Eric slowly nodded, returning her smile. "Yeah. Sure thing."
She walked away, leaving him to his thoughts. The hug that had happened just moments before still left a tingle on his skin, sending a slight shiver down his back. He wasn't sure how he was going to recover from-
The sudden thump into his back knocked Eric out of his reverie. He leapt about a foot into the air, only realizing that it was the rampart purse of Nell that had smacked into his body.
"And get rid of that profile!"
Her words were serious, but the teasing smirk on her face let him know that she was not entirely so. Eric rubbed his back, grimacing slightly.
"Geez, what do you have in that purse?
"It's a woman's secret." Nell brought her bag back over her shoulder, twirling back toward the door. "Good night, Eric."
He watched as she walked out the door, a little more spring to her step. Not that he was purposefully watching her walk or anything, because that would be totally weird and inappropriate for the workplace.
Oh God, why was his face getting hot?
Shaking his head, Eric punched a few commands into his computer, wiping the profile off of the full screen.
And then he thought for a moment.
He pressed a single button, and the lone picture of Nell came back up on the wall.
He pressed another button. A confirmation screen appeared in front of the photo.
Save Document to Removable Disc? Yes/No
Eric glanced back at the doorway, making sure Nell wasn't going to walk back through.
And with one final click, he pressed the Yes box.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: For all of the people who watch me for my Phineas and Ferb fanfics...relax.
This doesn't mean I'm abandoning the show. I just happen to have interests other than P&F. And one of them just happens to be NCIS: LA.
I absolutely love the show, and especially the chemistry that is between Eric and Nell. I'm not going to go all crazy and say that they should definitely get together in the show, but it seems like they're almost there already sometimes.
And this past episode (Neighborhood Watch) was one of those times. I just had to make this little one-shot. Maybe it will get my P&F creative juices flowing again.
Read and review, if you like. Until next time.