"She's cute, G," Sam said as he and Callen made their way to the bullpen in the morning. "Seriously cute."
"I have never disagreed with you on that," Callen responded with an exasperated sigh. It was clear that the two had had this conversation many times.
"You like cute," Sam continued.
"Yes," Callen said, as if rehearsed. "I do like cute."
"There is no reason …" Sam began.
"I know … I know," Callen interrupted, as he dropped his bag and sat at his desk, hoping that his In Box would provide him with respite from the badgering of his partner. "She's cute … adorable, even. Smart, sweet, funny … I get it."
"Then what's the problem?" Sam poked at him from his desk across the way.
"For one, there's a 'fraternization at work' issue …" G said, hoping that would end the conversation.
"Nope," Sam said with a shake of the head. "Nothing in the rulebook about that, as long as you keep it out of the workplace."
"OK then …," Callen began again. "What about Eric?"
Sam rolled his eyes. "What about Eric? He had his chance. He tried, he crashed, he burned. All the better for you."
Callen rolled his eyes in return.
"What if she doesn't want to go out with me?" he challenged.
"Unlikely," was Sam's response.
Sam chuckled. He knew they'd pretty much come to the end of Callen's reasons. He had been pushing Callen towards Nell ever since she and Eric had broken up.
"Come on, G – it's a perfect match," Sam continued. "Brains meets brawn."
Callen waited obediently for the next line, which always followed.
"Although I'm not sure who is who," he said, in perfect unison with Sam. They had had this conversation many, many times.
There was silence as Sam quietly stared at Callen. A smirk formed on his face as G sighed, closed his eyes and dropped his head in defeat. Then Callen looked up and started to lean across his desk in a conspiratorial manner.
"Look," Callen said as he dropped his voice to a whisper. "If I tell you why, will you stop bugging me?"
Sam was intrigued. "Absolutely," he said, raising his hand as if taking an oath.
There was a pause, as G considered the ramifications. Then …
"She's just … too … short." There. He'd said it.
Sam was speechless. That was not at all what he was expecting to hear. He wasn't entirely sure what he expected to hear, exactly, but it wasn't that.
"Eric is an inch taller than you," Sam said, confused.
"Good for Eric," Callen continued. "Look … I know it's shallow, but seriously. She looked cute on Eric's arm because he – you know – he looks the part."
Sam was shaking his head in disbelief.
"But I like taller women," G said. "Sue me. She's just too short."
Callen leaned back in his chair and stared at Sam, who was still shaking his head. G felt like a louse, but there it was. The Reason. He knew Sam would clue in Deeks and Kensi. He'd probably even tell Eric. And it would eventually get back to Nell, which would suck, but still. At least he could finally get through a day without anyone trying to hook them up.
Callen breathed a sigh of relief and stood to get a cup of coffee.
"Oh Mr. Callen …"
Hetty's voice stopped him in his tracks. Callen turned. She was standing behind him
"A moment, if you don't mind," she said in a voice that was deceptively sweet. And then … the kicker.
"Unless you'd prefer someone taller …?"
She left it there as she walked back towards her desk.
It was going to be a very long morning.
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