Tea for Three
Kate just been consulting her plan of the building when she was hailed. It was a pretty poor copy, and between that and how tired she felt after two long flights on uncomfortable Navy transports, she was glad not to have to decipher it. Her relief at seeing a face she recognised was enormous.
"Hi. Kate, please."
"Welcome to Pearl Harbor." He smiled warmly. "Good to see you again, it's been a long time."
"Thanks, Agent Owens." She hadn't been sure he'd remember her at all, after eight years. "It's good to be here."
"Call me Rich," he said. "We don't stand on ceremony."
"Okay." She nodded, and tried not to look as overwhelmed as she felt. At least he seemed pleased to see her, and that wasn't something she'd taken for granted before she arrived.
He lead her to a cluster of desks at the rear of the building. "This is us. Oi! Look alive, you Limey schmuck." Another man was listening intently to something on earphones as they approached, and Rich slapped his shoulder none too gently.
When he saw them he sprang up and to attention, with a crisp salute, before relaxing again and holding out a hand to shake hers. He towered over them both, but he didn't look threatening. If anything he put Kate in mind of an overgrown puppy.
"Major, this is our new profiling expert, Special Agent Todd. Kate, this is Major Thomas, linguist, intelligence officer, pain in my ass. He's also our resident Brit, don't ask him about tea."
"Aloha, e komo mai, Kate, welcome to Pearl. And it isn't my fault that you Yanks can't brew a decent cuppa, Rich."
Kate hid a smile as the gentle sniping continued. She would never admit it, but in her years away she'd missed DiNozzo and McGee's incessant banter, the trust and grudging respect overlaid with teasing, the relaxed atmosphere of the bullpen despite the nature of their work. It was comforting, almost homely, to let an argument that had obviously been had dozens of times already wash over her.
Eventually they reached an impasse and both men turned back to her.
"Anyway, this clown-" Rich said it with a wink and unmistakable affection despite his words "-is an army pogue, seconded to MI5, if you can believe that. Then I got lumbered with him."
Kate raised an eyebrow and turned back towards the Major. "Isn't MI5 all about threats at home? Why would you be in Hawaii?"
"Ahhh..." His eyes got comically wide and she repressed another grin. "That's kind of, uh..."
"He could tell you, but then he'd have to kill you." Owens looked inordinately pleased with his joke. Major Thomas looked as if it hadn't been all that funny the first time and Owens had cracked the joke several dozen times since then. His expression was one of moderately amused tolerance, the kind of look Kate usually reserved for Tony.
"You'll have to excuse Rich, he thinks he's funny." He shrugged. "I do the language and computer geek stuff, and... yeah, that's, well." He stopped, smiled and left it at that. Kate made a mental note to enquire further once she knew him better. "I'm Will, but I answer to most things. Have to round here," he added with a wink. "Will, Britpop, Curly, Tommy, oi, wanker..."
Rich butted in, "We usually just call him-"
"Don't. Please." Will closed his eyes, his expression pained.
"She's gonna find out sooner or later."
He let his head fall into his hands with an injured sigh. "Okay, okay."
"We call 'im Major Tom," supplied Rich with a wide grin.
Kate blinked, then frowned. "I don't think I get the significance..."
"David Bowie?" Will looked up, suddenly eager, embarrassment forgotten.
The name sounded vaguely familiar, but... "Um. I still don't follow...?"
"Space Oddity? 'Ground control to Major Tom'?"
"What?" Kate suddenly felt like he was speaking a different language.
"Hallo Spaceboy? Oh, come on, you must have heard of-"
"No, no, don't let him get started!" Rich stepped between them and clapped a hand over Will's mouth. Will visibly deflated; in fact Kate would almost have described his expression as wounded. "He'd go on the rest of the day if we let him, and you've had a long flight. Right?" He turned back to Will who nodded ruefully after a few seconds, and Rich took his hand away slowly as if he was expecting Will to relapse any moment.
Kate let herself chuckle at the pair of them, relaxing a little. They were clearly nuts. Total five year olds. For better or worse, that made her feel really good about being here. "I'll bear that in mind."
Owens grinned. "Okay." She could see him getting his business head on. He turned to Will and cuffed him on the shoulder again - apparently he had studied at the Gibbs school of motivation. "Where's Hana?"
"Oh, she's out, you know, uh, walking the beat."
Owens rolled his eyes. "God, Will, you sound like a refugee from a British cop show. One from the middle of last century."
"Well, I am British. And technically, you police the Navy, so that makes you coppers, which by extension-"
Kate shook her head as they headed off into yet another well worn argument. She had to revise her earlier impression: these two were worse than McGee and DiNozzo. She watched them for a minute, thinking to herself that she definitely wouldn't lack for entertainment here at Pearl, then interrupted them once it became obvious they'd become so engrossed, they'd temporarily forgotten she was there.
"So, where do you need me?" she asked, trying not to let her laughter show too much in her voice.
Their heads snapped round towards her, their expressions comic. She laughed. It's gonna be so much fun baiting these guys...
"Sorry." Will looked sheepish.
Rich scoffed slightly, but it was obvious he was as much amused as annoyed with his colleague. "Just don't get him started on languages, the exact meanings of words, or which is best out of Chinese or Indian tea, and you'll do all right."
"Thanks for the tip." She could feel herself sagging with relief. This is going to be okay. She hadn't realised how worried she'd been about trying to fit into a new work environment, but she felt at home here already. As long as ebbing adrenaline didn't put her to sleep, she'd manage just fine. "Where should I start?"
"You're keen." Rich nodded, looking pleased. "That there's your desk, you can meet Kalili when she comes back in, and drinks are on me when we clock off tonight. Besides that-" he shrugged "-you have great timing. It's been a pretty quiet week. I have a couple cold case files where we could use your profiling skills, but unless we get a call, the weekend starts in a few hours. Settle in, get your bearings. And welcome to the team."
There was a moment's silence, then Will piped up.
"You know what this calls for," he said, ignoring Rich's overdramatic sigh. "A chocolate biscuit and a nice cup of tea..."