Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: NCIS: Los Angeles
Challenge/Prompt: 1_million_words Bingo: NCIS: Free Space (Tech Ops)
Word Count: 976
Date Written: 18 September 2018
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to their rightful owners, not the author, and are used without permission.
“What?” Nell demanded, slapping her hands down on her computer console and turning to face Eric.
He quickly held his own hands up in defense. “Nothing!”
“You’ve been staring at me since I came back in from the field! Everything’s gone back to normal except for us, and that look is not nothing! It’s something! So why are you staring at me?!” she demanded again.
“I . . . I just . . . “ He lowered his gaze, and she began to soften as she watched him blush lightly.
“What is it?” she asked again, more tenderly this time. “You know you can tell me anything.”
“Can I?” he queried, his voice soft and thick. He pushed his glasses back up onto the bridge of his nose and slowly looked back up at her.
“Of course.” She smiled. “We’re partners after all, just as much as any of the others are.”
He sighed. “I just . . . “ He looked down again.
“You just what?” she questioned, shaking her head.
“I just didn’t know you could handle a gun so well,” he admitted, blushing once more and looking slowly back up at her.
Her brow furrowed with confusion. “What are you talking about?”
“I saw you,” he reminded her, “out there.” He gestured with a hand to a place beyond their little area with their computers, desks, and chairs. They were safe here. They weren’t . . . out there. The one time he’d gone out into the field had almost proven to be too much for him. Yet Nell looked as if she was made to be out on the field. She’d acted with the skill and composure of any other trained officer who regularly fought in the field. It had been impressive and . . . and somewhat scary, he could admit to himself if not out loud.
“So?” Nell asked, shaking her head and shrugging her shoulders. She couldn’t understand why he was clearly so bothered by watching her in the field. Then an idea struck her. “That doesn’t mean I’m leaving our Tech Ops any time soon.”
“Any time soon?” he repeated. “So you would think about leaving?”
“Maybe,” she admitted, shrugging again. “Maybe one day. But not any time soon,” she repeated, once more shaking her head. “Is that what’s wrong?” she asked, looking at him in concern.
“No. I just . . . I didn’t know you were so good with a gun.”
“And that bothers you?”
“Well . . . “ He looked down again.
“Eric,” she said gently, pointing at herself, “my eyes are up here, not at my shoes.” She smiled as she teased him. He was the only man to whom she’d ever had to point out her eyes over anything other than her breasts, small and clothed as they stayed.
“I just . . . “ He ran a hand through his short, thick hair and blew out a sigh. “I just don’t like guns, okay?”
“And there’s nothing wrong with that,” she said softly, surprising him.
“Of course not!” She smiled. “I . . . I kinda like that guns make you nervous. They used to make me nervous too, but sometimes they’re necessary. I wasn’t about to go into the field unarmed and make a target of myself,” she explained, “but Kensi needed me. She needed her friends.”
He nodded. “So you went for Kens.”
“Of course! Why?” She raised an eyebrow at him. “Did you think I abandoned my post for any other reason?”
“Well,” he hesitantly pointed out, “you did not too long ago.”
“I did, because Hetty needed me to!”
“So both times,” he questioned, “were for friends?”
“Yes! Eric, there’s something you really need to learn about me: I will do whatever my friends need me to do. If it’s carrying a gun,” she shrugged, “then I’m carrying a gun. If it’s going into the field, then that’s where I’m headed. But I’d much rather be here, at the computers, working with you.”
“Really?” A small smile tugged at his mouth.
“Yes!” she enthused. “I don’t like the field any more than you do! Well,” she relented, “maybe a little more, but not much! And I don’t like carrying a gun. But it’s required sometimes. I do like, though, that you’re not one of those macho men who thinks he’s got to tote a gun around.”
“And I like,” he admitted softly, “that you’re so brave you run straight out into the field or wherever your friends need you without hesitation.”
“I always will,” she said. She smiled at him, and he finally smiled in answer. “Now,” she asked, turning back to her computer screen, “can we get back to work?”
He sat in his chair and just gazed at her for a long moment, so long that Nell’s face was beginning to turn the color of her hair. She started to glare back over her shoulder at him, but instead she kept her eyes focused on her screen, made a few more clicks with her mouse, and hoped he’d find something, or somebody else, at which to stare. “Eric -- “ she started, but he shook his head and finally moved his attention back to his own screen.
“I’m just glad you’re back,” he told her sincerely. He remained silently wowed by her, however. His partner was smart, beautiful, and, now he knew, courageous; she was truly the total package. She was everything any guy could want while he . . . Well, he was smart and could sometimes be funny, but that was about all he had going for him.
“So am I,” she whispered and stole a glance back across the way at him. So am I. And he’d noticed!, she thought. After all these years of working together, he’d finally taken real notice of her. She grinned, biting her bottom lip to keep from allowing her smile to become too big and noticeable. Maybe she should go out into the field more often!