A/N - Well, after writing about Kensi's birthday, the bunnies decided to give Callen a go. Hope you like this little one shot. Nothing romantic, just team/family bonding.
Disclaimer - I do not own anything - just having fun.
"Hetty," Nell called out, walking down the stairs and approaching Hetty's desk. "Can I have a word?" she asked.
It was late and everyone else had gone home. Nell herself, was headed that way but noticing that Hetty was alone, and perhaps more importantly, that Callen wasn't there, she decided to make a minor detour.
Hetty raised her head from the paperwork she was perusing. "Of course, Miss Jones." She sat back in her chair and watched the young analyst stop in front of her desk. "What can I help you with?"
Nell swallowed a tad nervously before beginning. "It's about Callen."
Hetty tilted her head. "There are many things about Mr Callen. Is there anything in particular you wish to know?"
Nell nodded. "His birthday. I've been here a couple of years now but I've never seen him celebrate or even acknowledge his birthday."
"And you know when his birthday is?" Hetty queried. Not that she needed to. Nell knew everything about the team.
"Of course. Is there a reason we don't do anything?"
"Because I don't want anything done."
Callen's voice behind her made Nell jump around, her hand going to her chest as her heart raced.
"I thought you were gone," she blurted out.
"Nope." He didn't elaborate. If truth be known he rather enjoyed seeing Nell looking caught out. Usually she was full of information and right where she felt comfortable. Now she didn't seem so.
"Why don't you celebrate?" Nell asked bluntly.
"You really want to know?" Callen asked her. He watched her reaction and body language carefully. Sometimes people just asked because they felt they should, not because they really wanted to know.
"Yes," Nell said. "I wouldn't be asking if I didn't."
Callen could see she was serious.
"Yet you asked Hetty not me? I'm hurt Nell." He faked a look of pain on his face – not too good a fake because he wasn't wanting to hurt her. There was actually a little part of him that was flattered that she cared enough to try and find out.
Nell rolled her eyes. "No you're not. So why don't you celebrate?" she asked again.
Hetty sat quietly simply listening to the exchange. She was curious to hear what answer Callen would give. Was it possible that the simple question from Nell could get more out of him than the usual 'I'm not interested'?
"Because I don't have a reason to," Callen answered honestly before elaborating. "A birthday is simply a number that doesn't matter unless it's related to school, driving, alcohol, voting or retirement." He shrugged. "And I doubt I'll need to worry about the retirement number."
Nell opened her mouth to protest but Callen stopped her with a look. He knew enough about Nell that told him she would need more. Plus, Hetty was listening and he could see she was curious too. Might as well kill two birds with one stone - so to speak.
"Also," Callen continued, "I have so many aliases and have celebrated birthdays on so many different days that one particular day holds no special meaning. Along with the fact that I've never had a family to celebrate with and, more often than not, those that have wished me a happy birthday are usually wishing it to someone else. Birthdays don't mean anything to me Nell – so I don't bother with them."
Nell thought for a moment before replying. "I suppose I can understand some of that," she said reluctantly. "Though I don't agree with all of it. Thank you," she said. Before turning to Hetty. "Good night Hetty."
She brushed past Callen and said quietly. "Thank you again. Good night."
Callen watched her go while Hetty studied him. He was surprised that Nell had left it at that, but pleased that she seemed okay with his reasons even if she didn't agree. He turned back to Hetty.
"What is it, Hetty?"
"That's more than you've ever told me."
Callen shrugged but didn't say anything.
"Do I take is you have a soft spot for our Miss Jones?"
Callen raised an eyebrow in denial but said, "I have a soft spot for all things small and delicate."
With that he left Hetty smiling and thinking to herself that Callen could find a very roundabout way of telling someone he cared about them.
Three weeks later.
Callen walked into the bullpen early one morning. He'd been undercover for the last two weeks and was finally back in the office. He had a lot of paperwork to get done so, since he hadn't been sleeping, thought he'd come in and get it done before the team got in and wanted to know the ins and outs of the mission.
He stopped abruptly before he got to his desk.
Sitting right there in the middle of it was a cupcake – complete with a candle, unlit thankfully. There was definitely no way he could have missed it. He knew instantly who was responsible.
Callen picked up the cupcake and headed up to Ops. The smell of chocolate started to make his mouth water.
He walked through the door and spotted her immediately looking over some things on the computer.
Nell spun her chair around and glanced at the cake before turning her gaze to him with a smile. "Yes Callen?"
Callen held up the cupcake. "It's not my birthday," he stated.
"I know," she replied.
Callen raised his eyebrows and lifted the cupcake a little more in question.
"It's a cake," she added, stating the obvious.
"For what?" Callen gave her a look that told her not to play with him. Apparently she didn't take the hint, but somehow he couldn't find it in himself to be mad at her.
"As I said, it's not my birthday."
"Neither is it any one of your aliases birthdays," Nell added to his surprise.
Callen stepped a little closer. "Nell." His tone was firm and this time she listened, though she didn't show him any sign of being scared.
"Callen," she said as she jumped quietly off the chair and walked toward him. "You may not think a birthday is important but it doesn't mean that others don't. I wasn't big on birthdays until one year my dad was in hospital for his and I realised that birthdays aren't so much about you once you stop being a child, but about those who care about you getting to celebrate you and what you mean to them. However," she continued stopping him from reaffirming that he doesn't do birthdays. "This," she pointed to the cake, "is not a birthday cake. This is a 365 days cake."
Callen looked confused.
Nell smiled and continued. "This is to celebrate that you have survived another 365 days. And, G Callen," her voice got a little stronger, "That is definitely a number that is important in your line of work."
Callen held back a smile. "A 365 day cake huh?"
"A 365 day cake," Nell confirmed.
"I think I can do that, just as long as I don't have to blow out a candle."
Nell promptly reached over and pulled the candle carefully out of the cake. "Done," she said with a triumphant sound. "Happy 365 days, Callen."
Callen broke a piece off the cupcake and held it out to her.
"It's for you," she said with a shake of her head.
"Not much of a celebration if I don't get to share it with someone is it?"
"Point taken," she said and accepted the piece of cake, "However, perhaps we should go outside. Hetty doesn't allow food in Ops."
"Hetty's not here."
"Doesn't mean she won't know." Nell made a move toward the door but Callen shook his head and she stopped. What was a birthday – sorry – 365 day celebration without a little breaking of the rules. Wasn't that supposed to be part of the fun - getting away with things you wouldn't normally be allowed to do?
"I'm not going to tell. Are you?" Callen asked with a grin and a challenge in his eyes.
"No," Nell replied reluctantly, "but you know Hetty. She'll just know."
The Ops doors swished open silently behind Callen. Before she had a chance to warn him Callen added, "She doesn't know everything Nell."
"Not everything, Mr Callen, but the majority of things."
Hetty stepped closer to Callen after he turned around. She eyed the cupcake in their hands and looked at him over the top of her glasses.
"Cake? What is it we are celebrating? And in Ops no less." Hetty looked at Nell with the last bit and Nell swallowed nervously while moving ever so slightly behind Callen – as if for protection.
"365 days," Callen answered calmly.
"Me still being around," he said with a grin.
"Sounds like something worth celebrating," Hetty acknowledged.
"Would you like to join us?" Nell asked in desperate hope to avoid getting in trouble and it sounded like Hetty was almost approving this.
Hetty smiled and stepped closer. "I'd be delighted."
Callen reluctantly broke off another piece of his fast-diminishing cake and handed it to Hetty before finally getting to try what was left.
"Very nice Miss Jones," Hetty nodded after taking a small bite. "Though doesn't a Red Velvet cake have a romantic connotation to it?"
Nell almost choked on her mouthful of cake. She shook her head desperately. "God no!" she added as soon as she could form the words.
Callen watch with amusement to see how Nell would handle this. He was pretty sure Hetty was teasing.
Hetty just watched Nell intently and waited patiently for more.
"Hetty," Nell said after she managed to get her mouth cleared of cake. "This is my brother's favourite cake. I make it for him whenever I'm home."
Callen smiled. "Brains, beauty and she can cook." He turned to Hetty. "I'd better keep my eyes open Hetty, make sure the right guy catches her."
"Who says I'm not already, Mr Callen."
Nell rolled her eyes. "Seriously? As if I have the time. Plus, I don't need protecting."
"But isn't that what brothers do that?" Callen turned and asked her innocently. Or at least in an innocent tone – the look was definitely teasing.
Nell didn't quite know how to answer that. However Hetty did.
"Indeed they do." Hetty moved to leave but she turned back before going out the doors. "Miss Jones, no more food in Ops," she said sternly. There was a pause before she added, "Until this time next year." Then she left leaving Callen and Nell to finish their cake in peace.
After they finished their last bite, Callen said, "Thanks Nell."
With that, Callen left too.
Nell sighed. She didn't quite know how that went. She thought it went okay but she couldn't be completely sure. Callen, as usual, was very difficult for her to read.
"Oh well," she thought, "I guess I'll just have to try again next year."
Callen on the other hand had no doubts.
It had gone really well. Nell had given him something else to think about and a way to celebrate that wasn't exactly a birthday.
He sat down at his desk and pulled out his phone. He added an entry for one year from now titled '365 days'.
He was looking forward to it.
A/N - Hope you liked it. Love to know what you think. Thanks for reading.