“Morning!” Kensi called from the coffee station as G and Sam came in.
“Morning,” Sam answered. G gave her a half-hearted wave.
“Someone’s in a mood already?” she asked as she poured a second cup of coffee and deposited it on G’s desk as she made her way to her own.
“Someone woke up without a voice this morning,” Sam answered from his own desk as he unpacked his laptop.
Kensi put her feet on her desk, wrapping both hands around her coffee mug. “Wow, that sucks. For you,” she added with a look at G. “For the rest of us? This could be awesome.”
G glared at her over the top of the paper coffee cup.
Eric trotted down the stairs before G could find a way to actually respond, “Daily poke from Director Vance,” he announced as he waved his tablet.
“Good morning to you too, Eric,” Sam said before Eric could launch into the details. Actually, Sam was hoping to curtail the details. It wasn’t like they didn’t know. Budgets were due in to the SecNav in the next two weeks, which meant that Vance needed all their paperwork in ASAP in order to justify the increase he was gunning for.
“Sorry. Good morning Sam. Morning, Callen,” he said.
G waved again.
“Someone get up on the wrong side of the bed this morning?” Eric asked.
G rolled his eyes; this was going to be his day.
“Lost his voice,” Kensi put in helpfully, gleefully.
Just then Nate came in, throwing his bag down on the nearest chair. “You know, a sore throat can be one of the first symptoms of swine flu. It’s not gone yet.”
“I don’t have-“ Callen tried to argue, but the croak that came out was almost inaudible. He cleared his throat and took a sip of his coffee. “I don’t-“ The second attempt wasn’t any better than the first.
“I don’t suppose you know sign language?” Eric suggested.
Callen gave him the one sign he knew.
Eric cleared his throat and stared at his data pad. “Not the kind of sign I was thinking of.”
Nate turned back to the room from where he’d been looking in his bag. “Why do I get the feeling I missed something.”
“Callen flipped Eric off,” Kensi, ever the helpful one, told him. Callen rewarded her with a ‘bird’ of her own. Before reaching into his pocket for his phone.
“How are you going to – uh…” Nate watched as Callen stabbed at his phone and then jumped as his own beeped.
Nate glanced at his phone and then turned it around for everyone to see the text.
I DONT HAVE SWINE FLU
“Or any punctuation,” Kensi said cheekily. She got another bird.
Eric’s phone went off next.
WHAT DO YOU NEED?
Habitually, Eric started to answer one text with another. Kensi put her hand over his and shook her head like she might at a small child.
Eric cleared his throat. “Right. Expense reports, procedural accounts, interview transcriptions, you know… everything… in by five, or in more appropriate, military terms, seventeen hundred hours. He wants the number crunchers to have the weekend with them.”
“So he-“ Callen got two words out before croaking and coughing. “So he can sen-…” He rolled his eyes and glanced over at Sam.
“So he can send them back to us on Monday to re-do six or seven more times before they’re presented to the Secretary of the Navy as justification for why we need more money.”
Callen nodded in thanks. He could always count on Sam to know what he was thinking.
“Remind me next year to solve our biggest, most high-profile case of the year a good month or more before they need cases to make example of when justifying our staying on the job,” Kensi whined as she began digging through her bag for the receipts she’d need to have Hetty sign for.
She almost banged her head on the underside of her desk as she heard Deeks come in, hollering, “Hey there, cats and kittens!”
“You’re late,” she scolded.
He shrugged. “Seeing as I was back with the P.D. while you guys wrapped up the Rathsmusen And Company case last week, I didn’t think I’d have a whole lot to do today… you know, with you all having to do your reports…” He glanced around the room to a large number of disapproving stares.
Callen got up and took a stack of disks off the edge of his desk. “Transcripts.”
Deeks looked around the room as Callen croaked out the word. “Um… what?”
“Those are the videos of our witness and suspect interviews. You’re on transcripts,” Sam translated helpfully.
“Ah,” Deeks said with a tight smile.
“What’s with Charlie Chaplin, here?” Deeks asked with obviously no regard for his safety.
“Sore throat,” Hetty answered as she came into the room. “Though he’s still armed, so I’d watch yourself, Mr. Deeks.”
Callen turned to head back to his desk, his hand going to tap his back where his sidearm rested in his waistband. He tossed Deeks a ‘go ahead, make my day’ look as he sat back down.
Hetty handed both Kensi and Callen a form. “Please attach your receipts and email me copies of your expense reports first thing this morning. I need to verify them and send them in to the director as soon as possible. I believe he was hoping to get them… some time yesterday.”
Callen nodded and Kensi sighed, slamming her recently retrieved receipts onto her desk. “I hate paperwork.”
“You could pay for that two-thousand dollar evening dress you wore to entertain our drug runners out of your own pocket,” Hetty reminded. “Mr. Callen, my office please.”
G dug around in his desk until he found a legal pad and grabbed a pen. As he followed Hetty, Sam hollered after him, “You may need a burn bag too!”
G rolled his eyes, but didn’t even try to comment.
Hetty waved G into a chair as they moved into the space she considered her office, even though it didn’t actually have walls, separating it from the rest of the OSP. She didn’t say anything as she went to the credenza behind her desk, fussed for a minute and returned with a teacup, which she set in front of G. “Tea with lemon and honey.”
Callen noticed the Halls lozenges sitting on the saucer. He nodded as he sat back in the chair and took a sip, relaxing a little as the burn and scratch in his throat eased some.
“I’ll keep the pot hot through the day. Help yourself.”
“Thanks,” Callen said quietly, pleased when the word came out without a crack.
“I would ask that you not plan any retribution for your comrades who find some amusement in your predicament that would require them being placed on sick leave,” Hetty said, leaning back in her chair with her own cup of tea.
G smiled at the implicit permission for retribution, limited though it would need to be. He had a few ideas he suspected he’d need by the end of the day. He’d start with sending Deeks to get the autopsy reports from Rose down at the county morgue. Ever since his assignment to NCIS, Rose had shifted her affections from Nate to Deeks and she was even less subtle with her ‘hints’ about her feelings for him than she had been with Nate. Deeks had been avoiding her at all costs. One more crack about G’s cracked voice and Deeks’ nine-week avoidance streak would be broken with a vengeance.
“In all seriousness,” Hetty said, leaning forward again, “It’s a paperwork day. And I know the director has lit a fire under my butt, so I’ve lit one under Eric’s, so he’s lighting one under the butts of you and your team, but you did take an unscheduled dive into the ocean when it was only fifty degrees out the other day. And despite your partner’s insistence, you refused to dry off and change your clothes before finishing with the crime scene. It’s unsurprising you have one hell of a cold. If you need to take some time to rest today, do so. We never know when our next case will come calling.”
Callen set his teacup back on the edge of Hetty’s desk, pocketing the lozenges. He grabbed his pad and pen. He scribbled quickly and flipped the pad around to show Hetty. “Normally I would have had my duffle in my car. But now I have a house, so I don’t carry everything with me.”
Hetty gave him a disapproving look. “I will gladly take the blame for you having a stable place to keep your belongings and yourself. I will not, however, Mr. Callen, take the blame for your cold. I am not a germ. I did not give you a virus.”
Callen smirked a little.
“Now go. While I suggest you rest when you need it, I also suggest that while you are awake you complete your reports before the director decides the best way to present his case is to have you and Ms. Blye come to D.C. and present it yourselves.”
Callen gave a theatrical shiver and gathered up his teacup and headed back for his desk.