Callen sat at his desk looking down at the package. Jethro was really going all out, teasing him in the only way he knew how. G sat there, a broad smile on his face as he opened the package slowly. He was pretty sure what would be inside. Perhaps not the specifics, but definitely what shape it would be in.
It had been three months since the phone call. Ninety long days since they'd decided to change their relationship from friends to lovers. In that time, Jet had sent him twelve packages. Once a week, a package would arrive, labeled in the most blocky Russian script he'd seen in a lifetime. It amused him. G was sure that Jethro could write more neatly, but that he chose not to either to amuse the young man or to protect this fledgeling relationship. Callen figured, knowing his lover, that it was both.
The most recent package was a set of cufflinks. He opened the package to see the silver things shining out at him, and barked out a laugh so loud all his teammates turned to see what had him so happy. Even Hetty had sauntered over, gazing down at the small shapes. She had a smile on her face, and shook her head.
“Mister Callen, I do not see what is so funny about a set of cufflinks.” She looked around at the rest of the team. “Are you in on the joke?”
All of them shook their heads, and Callen laughed harder. “It's not the cufflinks themselves, Hetty. It's – well, someone sent them to me as a message.” He grinned, wrapping them up again and putting them inside his ever-present duffel bag.
“Ahhh, just like the stuffed animal you received last week, and the wind chimes the week before that. They do have a very Piscean theme.” Hetty nodded.
“Right.” Callen half-listened to his Intelligence Officer. He looked down at his sleeves. “So glad I decided to wear this shirt today.” He grinned, changing his mind and pulling them back out, affixing the small fish-shaped jewelry to his button down shirt. “It's like he knew...”
“Who knew, Mister Callen?” Before he could prevent it, Hetty had leaned over and read the address on the box. She knew Russian, or at least enough to be dangerous. “Really, Mister Callen.” She looked up at him owl-eyes blinking. He'd surprised her.
It made him laugh. “Absolutely, Hetty.” He grinned widely, then slipped into Russian. “Lyova has called me his little-fish. It stuck.” When he saw the corners of her mouth turn up, he knew she would be alright with it. His phone rang, and he looked at the number. “Speak of the devil.” He strode a few paces away and answered it. “Lyova. What a surprise.” His tone was droll, letting the sarcasm play through his words. “Your gift is appreciated. I wish I were on your line.” They'd turned the original pun into a lewd play on words, being able to express their wants without sounding like they were discussing anything other than fishing. Those who knew him might gather a little more from his expressions, but that was the beauty of their shared language. Between the odd cant and the pun, they were virtually safe from …
“Mister Callen!!” Then again...
His lover had the audacity to chuckle at him. “Figured us out, did she?”
“You know it. And she knows enough of the Mother Tongue to catch the pun. We may have to mix it up again.” Callen grinned straight at Hetty, unabashed. The rest of the team watched their interplay with varying levels of disguised interest. “How is life on your side?” He kept it vague, knowing Sam might be able to pick up a few of the phrases he spoke, then he remembered that his partner was gone. “Sam is on a trip. With Cyclops' boys.” Hetty gave him a disapproving look for passing along that information even that far, but he was worried, and this was Jethro. Jet's Rule #4 prevented him from repeating much of anything he heard in these conversations.
“Should you be telling me that, Grisha?” Jethro worried about OpSec even more than he did sometimes. “You know I'll keep it to myself, but it won't endanger him?”
“Don't fuckin' care right now. I'm pissed at him being gone without me on his tail.” He moved to sit down, not caring who picked up what at this point. As far as he knew, none of his team knew Russian at all besides Hetty, and he was mad enough at the situation to need to express it to Jet. “And it won't endanger him any more than the situation already does. His partner,” he let the word drip with annoyance that it wasn't him, “is dying from rad poisoning.”
“Damn. Read about that. Hell of a thing.” Some of his annoyance eased as he grudgingly allowed his amusement at his lover's way of backhandedly expressing sympathy to surface. “Samuil is well?” He heard him cover his phone with his hand, and bark out an order to DiNozzo.
“He is fine. And how are the children? Tohka sounds like he may have found a nerve to stand on.” Hetty snorted at his words, and G shook his head.
“Tohka,” Jet emphasized the name, probably glaring at the younger man, “Is as jumpy as my little-fish when he's had too much sugar.” G could almost see the half-smile. “Tyoma has discovered something, so I must let you off the hook.” He groaned at Jethro's stupid pun.
“Indeed. Call me when you have another moment to spare and I am away from the Owl's watchful gaze.” He heard an indignant noise from Hetty and an amused snort from Jethro.
“I will. I may be heading overseas myself, Grisha. But I will keep in touch as I can. Fare thee well, Grigory Georgovich,” Jet signed off, a fondness in his tone.
“Keep me informed, then, lover. I wory. Fare thee well, Leonid Ivanovich.” He did the same, closing the phone and running his finger along the edge of it, then gazing down at the fish on his sleeve. He knew he was acting like a lovesick school-girl, but it didn't matter. He was in love.
“Mister Callen, I appreciate the discretion with which you share your information. The fact that you share such information worries me, however.” Hetty gazed at him, unblinking.
“Who's he gonna tell, Hetty?” That surprised a couple of them, he saw. The gender of his mysterious lover. He realized Nell probably won the office pool on that point – if he'd read the list right, but it didn't matter.
“There is that. Your Lyova is exceptionally good at keeping secrets. As am I, Mister Callen. As am I.” Hetty shook her head, then leaned in, whispering in Russian. “I am pleased that you have found a lover. Perhaps I'll find a reason for the two of you to work together for a while.”
The grin on G's face stayed there for most of the rest of the day.