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Striding in Bars with Boys

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It figures. First time he's in DC sans Mitchell -- family detour, but not one of those detours, the ones that do their best to make him feel guilty for not falling in line -- with time to burn and energy to burn it with and a clean enough conscience to want to burn it in style, and lo! That not-so-new club, the one that everybody's talking about -- no not that one, the other one, the one that's more mainstream -- the one that everyone in the scene agrees that everyone else just has to experience, just once (and no, not that one either, the one that actually manages to keep its nose clean) just happens to be within spitting distance of his hotel (for people who spit like him). It was fate. It was luck. It was divine fucking providence.

So of course it was the night they got raided. (Really. The universe should not be out to get him anymore. When he finally meets the upper management, he's going to lodge a complaint.)

Things had started out so promising, too. A courtesy call to Mitchell -- "yes Momma, no Momma, I will Momma, tell everyone that I said hi and could you please put Cammie back on now?" -- as he's getting dressed (without Mitchell there's room in the suitcase and hope springs eternal) and then a thirty minute stroll through a DC Indian summer (and the weather's always better without Mitchell there to feel it -- and maybe he'll hold off on that complaint after all) and yeah, ok, line out the door and around the fucking block, but a flash of bills and a flash of teeth and pants that are an invitation to riot -- and some VIP is petting him and sliding them both in passed the bouncers ahead of the lingering mob.

It cost him something off the top shelf -- nothing's ever free -- but the guy had smiled a no-promises smile and kissed his cheek before taking his drink and sauntering over to a corner and a crowd, and if anyone could fully appreciate the concept of keeping one's options opened--

He was in one of the hottest clubs in town, surrounded by pulsing lights and wall-to-wall pretty. Meant he'd already been lucky once -- no need to cry if he didn't get lucky again.

So he scoped the room (entrances and exits bathrooms and lines of sight coat check and the cost of a fucking beer) and scoped the people (eye candy and threat assessment threat assessment of a totally different sort) and counted his blessings as he slithered out onto the dance floor.

He'd noticed the one guy first off. Seated at the bar nursing something dark and mixed, mumbling into the fizz of the cola, and at first glance he'd looked just how anyone else might look, foundering way out passed their comfort zone. Clubs like these always had there fair share of men like that so at first he didn't pay him no nevermind (green eyes and a pale pretty-boy face that he just might have taken a shine to if he also didn't wear his jacket like he prayed it would swallow him whole) but then later, as the night wore on, he'd drifted into a more charitable mood (all Mitchell's fault) and -- no one that pretty should look that morose in any fine establishment such as this.

The knot of writhing humanity around him untangled just a bit, and he was halfway to making his way over to Sad Green Eyes when another dancer beat him to it, and then he had to blink hard for what he'd seen.

Mystery Man was wearing his pants.


Exactly his pants, right on down to the shiny studded steel rivets, and damn if he didn't fill them out a fair sight better, too. That, he reasoned, too appreciative to be truly jealous, was a fabulous ass. And the chest trapped by one of those clingy mesh tops -- purple or green or black, depending on the light -- wasn't half bad, either.

And why the hell was Sad Green Eyes so fucking sad when he was so obviously on the arm that belonged to said ass? It was a pretty little mystery, one just as pretty as the pair of them, and -- fuck! -- this was why he needed Mitchell, because Mitchell would have brought him up hard for how it wasn't any of his business, for how no one would welcome him for stirring the pot when he obviously had no first clue about the soup inside, but right now he didn't have Mitchell and the Mitchell-voice inside his head was too busy telling him that it would be only charitable to rescue the pretty boy from what looked like one big fucking disaster of a club date.

In the absence of an actual Mitchell outside his head, three guesses which one of them he listened to.

Or which one of them he would have, if he hadn't overheard part of the tail end of their conversation ("--lighten up, McGemcity, cuz right now you--") -- and yeah, ok, it was less eavesdropping and more lip-reading, and it took him a bit of a moment to pick up exactly what Nice Ass called the Pretty Boy and someone cutting in front of him meant he missed the very end of what was said, but -- shit, fuck -- Mick-Gemcity?

It was a bolt out of clear blue skies, but add some weight and trim the hair and -- fucking fuck it all -- Pretty Boy was hotshot author Thom E. Gemcity. Oh, he just had to call Mitchell. Something this delicious simply couldn't go unsaid.

Or better yet, snap a pic and text it; a nice close up to blur the background enough to hide where the pic was taken. Sighting Gemcity in an androgynous gay bar might be too perfect for words, but only so far as his personal perverted amusement factor went, and if Mitchell got the bright idea to forward it on... Well. Just because he liked her family that didn't mean he trusted any of the their friends, or their friends' friends, or whoever the fuck all trolls their MySpace pages, and its probably the only rule left he hasn't broken yet (not looking too closely) to not out somebody else for any reason, ever, and especially not some young up-and-coming author who he maybe wouldn't mind reading again.

As far as crime novels went, Deep Six was squarely middle of the road, and yeah sure it got a lot more of the technical shit right than is generally expected of its genre and went so far overboard on the minutia of the Alphabet Soup that it flew way passed proving the point of having an inside source and into outright flaunting it, but the prose was full of artsy cliches and the characters were an interesting grabbag of archetypes and neuroses -- interesting enough to sometimes give him the creepy-unsettled feeling waltzing up his spine for the way those crazy hats fit into a team of four (the old-school military leader with the tragic past and the socially awkward techno geek and the think-outside-the-box please-please-underestimate-me-now-so-I-can-kick-your-ass-later whipping boy and the utterly badass outsider who may or may not botch their idioms just so see how the others would react) -- and thank God the plot was just about as predictable as it should be and Chekhov's fucking gun was cleaned and prepped and then fired and admired and then cleaned again and finally put to bed in its fucking place of honor, else he might have screamed bloody murder the eighteenth time the Mitchell Annual Christmas Poker Not-Tournament forgot what topics they'd already rehashed to death over chips and cards and too much fucking eggnog.

But famous or not, amateur-with-promise-and-a-decent-editor or not, Pretty Boy was obviously here at the behest of someone who either didn't realize or didn't care that he was having a fucking craptacular time. Hell, the club scene wasn't for everyone, and at least half the so-called naturals still had their own awkward acclimatization phase before they were comfortable enough to strut it out in leather and studs and fetish-wear, and -- fucking fuck fuckity fuck -- the kid was probably sweating in his boots (fine, fine soft leather boots) that someone else with a camera phone and far less memory scruples would snag a pic and out him to the fucking world, and sure Nice Ass did have a really nice ass, but since he was also taking pains to act the part there was absolutely no reason why said ass was worth the risk.

Man obviously didn't know what he had or even what to do with it, and that tweaked something inside, something deep down where all the old instincts hid (from everyone who wasn't a Mitchell, but the lot of them were all all-fucking creepy when it came to reading people), the part that whispered (Mitchell's voice in Daniel's cadence and -- fuck it all -- that should have been a fucking clue!) he should do something if he could.

This was why he'd given in to letting Mitchell vet his potential partners -- he thought with his dick when he should think with his brains and he thought with his brains when he should fall back on his instincts and he fell back on his instincts at the wrongest of all possible times. Couldn't fucking win.

Too bad he never seemed to remember that, especially not when he was sidling up to the bar and onto the open stool right next to Pretty Boy Gemcity, flick of the wrist towards the bartender -- two more of what he's having, please -- and then a deliberate pivot, a subtle hip swivel to make those pants settle just so about his hips and--

"You know," drawn out lazy sunshine drawl (all Mitchell's fault), "you really could do so much better." More open honest trust-me-I'm-right than sledgehammer of innuendo. Didn't hurt that when he nodded back towards the floor Nice Ass had a queen on each arm and someone's feather boa around his neck.

Pretty Boy Gemcity followed his gaze, face contorting into poignant dismay when the point struck home. Then a huff, and a sigh, and a mutter -- "how does he do that?" -- more into his drink than not. Jealous and incredulous and maybe (just maybe) a little bit affectionate, too, half-hidden underneath.

He could work with that.

"Why do you put up with it?"

Gemcity opened his mouth, looked like he misplaced his answer somewhere between his brain and his teeth, and spent a full two seconds at a complete loss for words before he settled on, "because we're partners." As if that explained everything.

"Yeah?" He arched an eyebrow (he'd had a very good teacher in how to do it just right). "Always this one-sided?"


Another sighing huff, just as their drinks came over. Gemcity looked flustered -- couldn't for the life of him figure where the refill had come from -- before realizing what had happened. He blushed (Mitchell would have called it "adorable") and stammered, and decided to answer the question as an excuse to ignore the drink entirely.

(And hells fucking bells it was clue on top of clue and he was missing them and if this was a mission he'd be so fucking dead--)

"Oh, usually. But I've learned not to mind."

And that was why he missed them, because -- fuck it all to hell -- it read like Gemcity was a fucking kept boy, and yeah, sure, he'd been in the scene long enough to know that some people liked to carry that shit out of the bedroom and into the rest of their lives, but then those people were happy about it, not settling, not just making due, not going along to fucking get along when there was a very good chance it could have nasty repercussions later on.

His head was awash in a sea of plans, each more fantastical than the next, of just how the fuck he could seduce Pretty Boy away from someone who didn't deserve him (And what exactly did it say about him that the half that didn't involve Mitchell's kitchen (woman really could bake to save the fucking world) involved a zat'nik'tel?) but for now he simply fished one of the business cards out of his back pocket, the ones they keep on hand so dessert could make a safe call first, and slid it over on top of the ten he was slapping down to cover the drinks they didn't touch.

"Yeah, well, when you get tired of being some fair-weather fag's little pet bitch, you call me. If anything I can give you a place to hide when that jerkoff lands your face on the cover of Enquirer."

Gemcity really was pretty when he was sputtering speechless, but since part A of halfassed plan Q was done it was time for a tactical retreat. And yeah, he'll cop to the cheap little thrill he got when, as he was sliding up and out of his seat, he let his hands ghost across the top of Gemcity's shoulders, just lightly tracing the top of his back, for the way Gemcity arched up and froze, all startled and touch-starved and wary-by-nature, because -- fuck -- he'd been there once (and thank you God for putting Mitchells on this earth and please God please don't let the rest of us fuck it up on them) and maybe part B could be fun after all.

Part B was out on the dance floor. Part B involved a shitty little trick Mitchell had once played on Carter and some douche she was sleeping with, deliberately muscling into said douche's bed just so Carter could catch them at it, all to save Carter from making a Big Mistake because Mitchell loved Carter more than she needed her friendship. It was a Mitchell plan through and through (because only a Mitchell could be so utterly selfless) and if that wasn't the perfect rubber stamp he didn't know what was.

And Part B lasted long enough for him to slink on over to where Nice Ass was currently courting a man in artsy cammos and a fucking military haircut. He wasn't close enough yet to see if his tags were real, but in DC he could be anyone and if he was someone then he was definitely from the shallow end of the grunt pool. That's where Part B stalled a little, because Nice Ass was dancing like he meant it and grunt boy had his hands roving all over the fucking place and Nice Ass was writhing to the music, head thrown back, long line of his throat exposed, and the grunt was talking dirty like he could have talked dirty for fucking America (and lip-reading along like watching porn on fucking mute). And maybe Plan B didn't need to happen because Gemcity was looking on, wide-eyed and disgusted and maybe a little turned on. Definitely like there were a million and one thoughts zipping through his head at once and if he wasn't careful he just might blurt to the world the very last one he would have wanted it to hear.

But then grunt boy, hands full of that pretty color-change shirt, was suddenly nodding over Nice Ass's shoulder, and then three more grunts in identical haircuts and dressed off the fucking Hot Topic clearance rack materialized out of fucking nowhere out of the middle of the crowd, and -- fucking mother cocksuckers -- the only reason he saw them now was because he'd missed them before and -- fuck fuck fuck it to hell -- he shouldn't have, remembered too well a time when he wouldn't have -- and two were cruising towards the back door and one was slinking around towards the bar -- towards the fucking empty seat he'd left by Thom E. Fucking Gemcity, and -- shit fuck piss bitch there weren't enough words!

And now Grunt One was kissing Nice Ass, hot and dirty and thorough and so totally designed to keep the man from seeing anything but stars, and if he hadn't already realized he'd tripped over his own feet and into something big, something big and dark and nasty and stinking of someone's botched up covert op, the way Grunt One pulled Nice Ass's head down and to the side, squaring up their height difference, making the fucking earwig fall out of his ear, was a pretty big fucking clue-by-four, thank you very much -- and if ever there was a fucking perfect time for a fucking colorful metaphor then this was fucking it so of course he was all out them.


Thom E. Fucking Gemcity was part of the fucking Alphabet Soup he wrote so fucking well, fucking had to be -- NCIS, if he remembered, the Navy Cops -- and fuck him with a fucking rusty hammer if he wasn't running control for Nice Ass Big Ears Didn't Even Fucking Notice He'd Been Made. Thom E. Fucking Gemcity was Clark Fucking Kent and his Special Agent alter-ego hadn't been muttering into his drink but reporting into his fucking sleeve and maybe they'd lucked out and he'd seen what Lois Fucking Nice-Ass Lane had been too weak-kneed to figure out and maybe -- maybe -- backup was on the way.

Yeah and maybe Elvis wasn't dead and aliens didn't exists and the Hawks had a chance at the Cup.

And now Grunt One was backing off, probably getting ready to suggest they take the show on the road, probably into the back alley for a little grab-assing, maybe a rough and dirty blow -- and then it'll be three on one, military hand-to-hand against the pussy fed cop version, lethal force against subdual training -- and fucking Fed E. Gemcity not even realizing he's been cornered. Hell, Nice Ass leaving with their mark was probably part of the fucking plan and now everything's just fucking coming up roses.


He really needed to learn some stronger curses.

And Mitchell was so going to kick his fucking ass for this -- and he was probably going to let her -- but before he could change his mind he was sliding into the space Grunt One left behind as he tried to lead the way.

"Mind if I cut in?"

He didn't give the Nice-Ass'ed fed a chance to even think about declining. A shimmy and a spin and in a club where personal space was fucking optional (opt-in) he was pulled in close enough to feel the fucking wire strapped to the fed's (nice) chest, and then one hand was palming that Nice Ass'ed crotch, sudden and sharp enough to silence any form of protest and all without anyone being any the fucking wiser.

"What? My partner turned you down so you thought you'd try for me instead?" And oh! He'd heard that tone before -- Daniel, going toe to toe with senators and system lords and the fucking military mindset -- and the shock of it hit him harder than it had any fucking right to.

"Your partner is so fucking green its criminal." Sharp and bitter and brittle as all fucking get out, because he couldn't fucking not be, not when faced with the ghost of Christmas Fucking Past. "And you're really not much better so shut the hell up and pay attention."

Fucking Nice Ass Not-Daniel opened his mouth again and got a sharp tweak of his balls for his trouble. "I said shut up!" And he watched in cosmic disbelief as the fed's eyes flew wide over his fucking tone when before he didn't so much as flinch at the sharp pain in his groin.

(And somewhere in his head he knew -- knew at the same level he trusted Mitchells and hate-hate-hated snakes -- that if Thom E. Gemcity was a fucking nom de plume for some baby-faced fed then of course he would have based his characters off of people he knew in real life -- and that meant he had his fucking fingers around the balls of Very Special Agent Tommy Di-Fucking-Salvo and -- fuck your fucking mother -- that happy little revelation did things to the dark side of his subconscious that he really didn't fucking need right now.)

"They made you," he hissed, low and deadly and full of pissed off colonel. "You fucking idiot -- they played you like a fucking violin and now your partner's got a fucking shadow and there's two more like him waiting out back for you and GI Joe and maybe if you're lucky they'll let you suck him off first before they--"

"Who are you?" Wide-eyed and curious and so fucking not-caring about the hand threatening to make him a permanent falsetto, and it wasn't fucking fair.

"The bigger idiot who just saved your fucking life, now call in the fucking cavalry already. Before your partner's shadow gets any twitchier."

And then Grunt One was sauntering back over, antsy and impatient like he couldn't keep it in his pants much longer (and whether that was his dick or the fucking .38 he had stuffed in the cargo pocket, he didn't think the Nice Ass'ed fed really needed to find out). The fed turned, opened his arms and let the grunt kiss him fucking senseless, all wet and tongue and squirming and hands pulling through his hair before he broke it off to whisper in the grunts left ear -- "I'm just going to settle my tab..." -- and fucking shit fuck fuck -- that dumbass grunt swallowed it whole.

The grunt whispered something low, then licked a stripe up the poor fed's neck (fed closed his eyes whimpered -- maybe he'd brought a better game than first impressions had allowed) before turning on his heel and sauntering off towards in the vague direction of the men's room. The fed made sure the man was gone (and that his back was to the bar) before grabbing the front of his shirt and blowing his cover all to hell.

Idiot, idiot, idiot fed.

He kept an eye on the crowd, just to be sure no one looked like they were reacting. Gemcity -- if that was even the kid's real name -- suddenly sat up straighter, but at least he covered it by signaling the bartender, and his minder wasn't even paying attention to him anyway. Made it all the more amusing when he casually tapped his shadow on the shoulder, making the man turn around into a sea of smiling badges, and then the anonymous backup was leading the grunt away, a coat draped over the handcuffs.

He really shouldn't have stayed to watch, and no one will ever find his body after Mitchell gets through with him, but with at least four feds between him and the front door and Gemcity now making a beeline for where his partner was staking out the little annex that housed the restrooms, that left the back door his only option.

Charges of interfering with a federal investigation was so not how he wanted to cap off his evening.

And for the record -- no, he really hadn't forgotten about the two grunts waiting outside. He was just surprised as fuck to see two feds on the ground and one tiny-ass ninja chick having far too much fun in holding her own against them.

Officer Lisa, I presume.

Krav Maga versus Marine MAP. All things considered, he really hoped she didn't take his rather timely arrival as an insult. Of course, it probably would have been more expedient to grab for one of the fallen guns, but then he really didn't feel like getting shot when the backup's backup inevitably arrived just outside the nick of time.

And two-on-two they really embarrassed the everliving fuck out of the Marine Corps. Mitchell might have actually approved of that -- if he'd gotten to live with with the adrenaline high and the rush of pure sweet satisfaction for longer than the eight seconds it took for him to realize that her big bright welcoming smile wasn't aimed at him.

"Nice moves." And -- shit fuck fucking pissass cocksucker motherfucker -- he was eating pavement, knee in his back and shoulders screaming, and whoever the fuck knew what they were doing because he couldn't break the hold without breaking bones, or at least popping them out of joint.

"This your Good Fairy, DiNozzo?"

Laughter and footsteps and the idiot fed saying, "Yes, Boss," all light and amused and Daniel's "just another day at the office" smile -- and then popping-snapping-painpainpain and he was up and out and down and caught again before he could sort out who was shouting what (and in which language, but then that might have been him) and the world grayed and flickered around the echo of handcuffs locking over his wrists.

He looked up, finally, because he refused to look down, saw Gemcity standing near with a look of complete and utter horror on his boyishly handsome face -- and wished like burning that he'd never even laid eyes on the man at all.

"You're fucking welcome," he spat -- literally; he'd tasted blood -- before he let the world fade out again.

At least Mitchell wouldn't be able to kill him. She'd have to stop laughing first.


"Boss, did you -- how did -- he just--"

Gibbs sighed, mostly to cover what was left of his own surprise. "Yeah, McGee. I did." Kid knew exactly how to break his hold, pain be damned. He might have expected that from one of their Marines tonight; certainly not from some punkass kid in fake leather and more tattoos than Abby.

"But -- but he's a computer programmer, boss. How--"

"Martial arts?" DiNozzo. Much as he'd known Tony had enjoyed watching their party crasher get taken down, the fact that he'd needed to get taken down twice had obviously unsettled his senior field agent.

Hell, the whole damn op was unsettling.

"No." That was Ziva, her tone an echo of his own thoughts. "His style was more... eclectic?"

He knew what she was trying to say, hated how much sense it made. Kid was too young, his hair too long, for him to have finished a hitch in the service, and sure some black belt could have gotten out, but no civilized dojo student would have been that quick and clean about it. That kind of skill wasn't something you earned in a classroom.

"Eclectic how?"

He glared at Tony, full wattage. Kid was unconscious and cuffed with one shoulder still hanging awkwardly out of joint and two hundred odd pounds of pissed off Marine pressing down against his spine. Not the time or the place for an after-action report. "McGee, go make sure--"

"--the paramedics find their way back here. On it, boss."


"--Check on Brooks and Donovan and finish processing this scene."


"--guard our sleeping beauties until Balboa's team remembers where we are?"

Another glare.

"Or I could call Balboa for a sit rep and to make sure he knows we need the paddy wagon and an extra bus. On it."

One hell of a way to wrap up a case. Gibbs was both anticipating and dreading getting the kid into interrogation. He had some definite questions and he was almost certain he wasn't going to like the answers.

"Whoa, Gibbs, looks like you guys had all the fun."

Balboa. Good. Now where the hell were those medics? Kid was still and quiet -- or rather so still his wiry frame was starting to thrum with the effort of it, and so quiet probably through sheer force of will -- playing possum, like as not -- which made it all the more important that he not let him up again until he had someplace to let him go.

Then a harsh, choked off whisper, "You got a name, Marine?" So, the kid was through with being quiet. Sure picked one hell of a way to say hello.

"Gibbs." No point in pulling out the SA title. Anyone who'd convinced someone to teach them special forces close combat probably just saw a Marine with an interesting day job. Still, he couldn't help the curiosity. "How'd you figure Marine?"

A painful chuff of laughter. Maybe he should ease up on the kid's ribs a bit. "Everyone knows -- Marines got -- the boniest knees." Then again...

"Boss, EMTs are here." McGee led them back through the alley and straight towards him.

When he looked up he saw Corporal Hayes sitting cuffed and sullen before the business end of Balboa's sig while Ziva bagged the man's knife. Williams -- also cuffed -- was still out cold. Given how Donovan was down with a bleeding gash in the side of his head that Brooks was tending with a scowl and a handkerchief, he figured they were at least getting on for even.

That pissed him off.

Maybe he should talk to Jenny about mandated refreshers in hand-to-hand.

Something to consider, anyway. Especially with the way the EMTs were frowning over Donovan, their movements short and clipped. No contest then who was getting the first bus. He didn't know which Marine's fault it was, but he hoped it had been Williams. Bastard deserved it. Hell, both bastards did.

The second pair of medics came through just as the first were hauling Donovan out on a stretcher, Brooks trailing along, now finally holding some gauze against the faucet of what was likely a broken nose.

Gibbs nodded when Brooks met his eye, permission asked and granted. Now he had two less to worry about.

One of Williams' medics whistled, and he glanced over only to feel more than hear the quiet hum of laughter from the kid below him. So he'd taken Williams, then. Part of him was disappointed it wasn't Ziva.

All of Ziva was disappointed it wasn't Ziva, if the glare she fixed on Williams as they hauled the man away was any indication. It might have made him smile -- if it wasn't an unnerving echo of the way his second ex had glared at him, right after he told her she wasn't getting the house.

By now Ziva had everyone's weapons bagged as evidence, and she nodded to him on her way out.


"--Bring the car around, yes Gibbs," she answered without looking back.

That made him smile in earnest.

"You sure -- got 'em -- trained." There was an appreciative note in the kid's voice, for all the apparent effort it took to force the words out. If nothing else, that shoulder had to be screaming at him.

He'd seen grown men cry over popped joints before. That this kid seemed more interested in what was going on around him than what had happened to him was unnerving enough, but it was the quiet, deliberate stillness that worried him more. Like the kid would rather be uncomfortable than risk how any type of voluntary movement might be interpreted.

Someone sure trained you, too, he wanted to say, but this wasn't the time or the place to touch that particular can of worms. Instead he focused on how one of the medics was making his way back towards them. He squeezed the kid's wrist once, just enough to get his attention.

"I let you up, the medic checks you out. You feel like trying anything, just remember -- I dropped you twice. It really won't bother me to go three for three."

"I can live with that." And that wasn't false bravado. Kid had guts, he'd give him that. Especially since he figured that answer was ambiguous on purpose.

He moved off and the kid immediately curled into the fetal position. It fell to the medic to uncurl him, but after a moment to catch his breath he refused any help sitting up and then submitted to the medic's ministrations with little more than a halfhearted glare. He sat stoically through the requisite poking and prodding, and the final verdict was that the shoulder needed an ER trip and the road rash at his temple was painful but probably not concussion-worthy.

Meant the medics had to call ahead, because the kid's injuries weren't enough to sacrifice security for the expedience of an ambulance ride. They re-cuffed his hands in front of him just as Ziva pulled the agency sedan around.

No less than the kid deserved for all the extra hours of inquiry and paperwork he'd caused.

In the end Gibbs left DiNozzo at the scene to finish things up while Balboa's team saw to the transfer of their three other prisoners. Meanwhile he and McGee -- who had apparently disappeared to turn their wires over to the techs in the surveillance van and only just now returned to tell him so -- poured the slightly pissed, not-so-slightly medicated, definitely sulking party crasher into the back of the sedan. McGee climbed in after him while he took the front seat, and then they were off to the hospital.

"I am never going to live this down." A bald statement from their mystery guest. Yep, definitely sulking.

"Live what down?" McGee asked, because neither he nor Ziva would have.

"Arrested in DC by the fucking Navy Cops." That sulk was now angry dismay. "The old man is going to stop pretending I don't exist just long enough to make sure everyone knows about this."

While he was busy filing that little tidbit away for future reference, McGee stepped in once again to fill the void.

"Well, technically, you're not under arrest."

"Not yet." And he was back to sulking again. Though at least now he sulked in silence.

"Don't I get a phone call?" For a little while, at least.

"From the hospital," he answered, the order implicit in his tone as he made eye contact with McGee through the rear-view mirror. McGee obediently took his hand off the cellphone in his jacket pocket.

There was silence for a few more blocks and then, "You know, this really sucks." It had to be the medication.

This time, not even McGee knew how to answer him.