Indisposed

Nell Returns

Eric alternated between smiling and whistling. Today was a big day in Ops. Nell was returning to work after her recent bout with the flu.

Not a minute too soon.

Sure, Vanessa and Richie had been great helping out. Kensi, too. But it simply wasn’t the same without his partner. Like Deeks and Kensi, he and Nell could communicate with a look, a nod, or a raised eyebrow. It was efficient and their own thing.

He dusted her desk and computer and placed the small yellow orchid he’d bought at the grocery store this morning to the right of her mouse. Barely a minute later, he heard other employees greeting Nell as she came up the stairs.

“Hi there, partner,” said Nell as she approached her desk.

Eric smiled. “Someone’s feeling chipper today.”

“Yep, I’m all better. Good thing because Mr. Bubbles isn’t used to me taking up the whole couch all day, every day.”

“How could you be so inconsiderate of your feline friend?” laughed Eric.

Now Nell spied the orchid. “Oooh, what’s this?”

“Nothing. Just a little token to ease you back into the routine.”

She picked up the vase and examined the orchid. “It’s lovely. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. You really like it?” asked Eric anxiously.

“Of course. Yellow is my favorite color.”

Eric nodded in approval and relief. “I thought I heard you say that one time.”

Further conversation had to wait as an alert popped up on Eric’s monitor. “Guess it’s back to business,” he said as he read the notice. “Robbery at a high-end jeans retailer. LAPD should be on that.”

They settled at their computers and Eric brought Nell up to speed on what had transpired during her sick leave.

Fifteen minutes later, Vanessa and Richie entered Ops already involved in an argument.

“There’s no way that algorithm can do that process,” insisted Vanessa.

“It does and I’m gonna prove it,” returned Richie.

“I’d like to see you try,” said Vanessa with a jab to Richie’s chest.

Richie smirked. “Game on, Tran.”

“Nell, this is Richie Everett, the guy I told you about,” said Eric by way of introduction.

“Nice to meet you, Richie,” smiled Nell.

“Oh, you’re Eric’s girlfriend. He really missed you while you were sick.”

“Yeah, I missed being here,” said Nell with a glance at Eric. His eyes were like saucers and he grimaced.

Everyone returned to their respective workstations. “Girlfriend? What’s up with that, Beale?”

Eric adjusted his glasses. “I may have, uh, implied that we were . . .”

“Go on,” urged Nell. It was funny to see Eric trying to describe their relationship.

Another alert suddenly beeped. Their heads swung toward the monitors. “Uh oh, witnesses say the driver of the get-away vehicle was dressed like a sailor and is leading LAPD on a high-speed chase through downtown,” said Nell.

“Wow,” said Eric. “They must have gotten tired of wearing those bell-bottoms all the time. I mean, who wouldn’t? I’ll call the team.”

“Yeah.” Nell laid a hand on Eric’s arm before he got up. “We’ll talk later,” she said sweetly.

“I would expect nothing less,” gulped Eric. I am so dead.


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