He had an alibi for last night. He’d been fucked by it to near screaming, put away wet and then slept next to it until morning. His alibi had three stars and Daniel wasn’t going to be the reason for his discharge.
He looked up at the Navy Cop.
“I stayed at a friend’s house. He has a guest room.”
“So he was with you? Specifically between 12 pm and 2 am?”
“We went to bed at 12.”
That was a lie. They’d barely made it through the door at nine.
“We watched football and talked.”
“A friend from work?”
Daniel nodded. “Yes.”
“What does a linguist and archaeologist do for the Air Force?”
“But you’re not a translator and your specialty appears to be old languages.”
“I’m afraid the details are classified, Agent DiNozzo.”
The man gave him a long look.
“Who was playing?”
“You said you and your friend watched football,” DiNozzo reminded him.
“Redskins and Patriots.”
“The Redskins were awful, weren’t they? Lost the game practically at the beginning.”
“Sports is Jack’s thing.”
DiNozzo just kept grinning.
“Well, everyone’s got an opinion, right? That’s where the Monday morning quarterback comes from.”
“Like I said, sports don’t really interest me.”
“And you said you went to bed at 12?”
Daniel relaxed the fist clenched in his lap.
“All right, why don’t you write down your friend Jack’s contact details.”
After what felt like forever, the agent returned.
“General O’Neill’s come by.”
It came out before he could help himself. He kept his blank face though and hoped the agent hadn’t seen more than he should.
He and Jack were friends, he repeated to himself. Nothing more.
“Yes, he is.”
“Then I’m sure he’s confirmed my alibi and I can go.”
DiNozzo nodded. “We don’t have anything to keep you here.”
Daniel heard an unspoken ‘yet’. He sighed loudly.
“Look. Like I said, I was feeling Vaughn out for a position in our program.”
“General O’Neill didn’t know about him.”
Daniel barely refrained from rolling his eyes. He shouldn’t antagonize the man and better they focus on his connection to Vaughn than his relationship with Jack.
“I don’t have to run everything by the General. I’m head of the linguistics department on the base and Jack isn’t even my direct supervisor anymore. Besides, I didn’t feel that Vaughn would make the cut.”
“Why not? Because of his older brother?”
Daniel chided himself. Of course they knew about that. God knew he’d spent long enough in this interrogation room. They’d probably already talked to Kyle.
“In part,” he conceded. ”If Kyle mentioned me to Lance, it was possible that he wouldn’t hear me out.”
“But he did. Or at least agreed to a meeting.”
Daniel shrugged. “There’s little I can say without having someone sign a whole rain forest of paper. So there really wasn’t much I could talk to him about. I got the impression that he was only listening to get some amusement.”
“Did he expect you to talk about aliens?”
Now Daniel did roll his eyes.
“Probably. Look, are we done?”
The door opened and another agent entered. This one was older, probably the agent in charge.
“Boss?” DiNozzo confirmed his assumption.
“Game’s up,” the older agent said, eyes pinning Daniel to his seat. Suddenly, he could feel his heart in his throat.
“The general says you watched a documentary last night. Now I don’t know what hold you have on a guy like O’Neill, but you better give it up!”
He looked angry. Probably ex-military himself.
DiNozzo turned to Daniel with a slow grin.
“Guess you aren’t going anywhere.”
Of course that was when Jack muscled his way into the interrogation room, another agent right behind him and yelling:
“You have no right-”
But Jack ignored him.
“For heaven’s sake, Daniel is innocent!”
“Then why are you lying for him?” The older agent demanded. “Sounds like he’s guilty of something. Maybe he didn’t kill the Petty Officer, but he’s blackmailing you.”
Jack laughed. It wasn’t a nice laugh.
“Jack, shut up.” Daniel almost scared himself with how harsh he sounded. His tone gave Jack a pause. After a second, Jack regained his equilibrium. He glared at the three agents around him.
“Find another suspect. Daniel isn’t it.”
The glare he sent to his lover was barely softened.
“And you: not another word. I’m fixing this, one way or another.”
He stormed out before Daniel could reply. Had Daniel been alone, he would have cursed violently and loudly.
“Do you have anything you would like to say?” DiNozzo asked.
Daniel leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms.
“You heard the man. I’m shutting up.”
“You’ll go into lock-up,” the agent warned him.
It wasn’t his first time as a prisoner. He had faith in Jack, but at the same time, he was afraid. If only Jack didn’t do anything stupid now.
They kept track of how many times they allowed themselves to show up at an event together. Every time Daniel asked himself if they were still being inconspicuous enough and when two men showing up together was one time too many for friends. He supposed they had the advantage of working in the same circles. They were bound to go to the same places at least half the time.
They had a secret sign they used. They didn’t hold hands, they didn’t exchange looks conveying their affection. They didn’t touch in public anywhere below the waist and never for longer than three seconds. One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three, letting go now and throwing in a manly buddy pat.
They tapped three times on the glass of whatever they were drinking instead.
I. Love. You.
They didn’t look at each other as they did it, only caught the other’s eye quickly and tapped.
Carter and Teal’c knew, but neither had been planned. Mitchell more than suspected but made it clear that he didn’t want to be told.
They were waiting. For something. Originally that had been retirement. Now, things were changing. Maybe. Various retired generals and admirals had already signed statements in favor of a repeal of DADT. Maybe they wouldn’t have to wait until retirement.
Daniel liked to think that he had perfected the posture for Kelno’reem; his mind — not so much.
He heard steps, a key in the lock, and the door open. Daniel opened his eyes deliberately slowly. It was the older agent again who had come.
“You’re free to go.”
Daniel stood. Agent Gibbs’ face was blank. Except — was there a trace of resentment in his eyes?
“A guy in Vaughn’s class at Annapolis confessed.”
And Jack? He thought to himself.
He got his cell phone and other personal items back and no apology.
“Should I be expecting you to spy on me until I leave DC on the red-eye tomorrow?”
Daniel caustically asked as he checked his things over for damage or anything missing. His phone showed two missed texts from Mitchell.
“If you give me a reason for why you lied we could avoid that.”
Daniel resisted the urge to get angry.
“Does it even matter now? You’ve got your guy. Jack told you that I’m not blackmailing him. For Christ’s sake we worked together for seven years on the same team.”
He wished Gibbs understood what he meant by team. Being ex-military himself, he would understand that a team that bled together meant more than a team of scientists that shared 9 to 5 time.
“We’re friends. It was a misunderstanding.”
“You can still clear that misunderstanding up.”
Daniel knew that he couldn’t.
“Am I free to go?”
He hailed a cap at the next crossing and had the driver take him to a hotel in Arlington. He hadn’t stayed at a hotel in the area for years.
Once there, he called Jack on the secure line and told him not to come.
“Sheppard and McKay are in town. Let’s make it a guys’ night out,” Jack offered, but Daniel declined.
If he couldn’t spend his time with Jack the way he wanted, and with the NCIS agent potentially on their ass, it was better they didn’t see each other at all.
“I think that NCIS agent will be watching me.”
“Gibbs?” Jack cursed. “He’s got a reputation as being tenacious and a bastard. But come on, old friends and colleagues having a drink or two at a bar? Nothing to see there.”
Daniel really didn’t want to go. But Jack had a point.
“All right. What time?”
If he had a shadow that night, Daniel didn’t see him. He wasn’t used to spotting a tail in a crowded city. The evening went well at least. Jack and Sheppard felt they had to run interference when McKay and he got into it at one point about things they probably shouldn’t have been talking about in public in the first place. It only came to Daniel on the way back to the hotel in a cab with Sheppard and McKay that he’d mostly been able to ignore his need to rail at the injustice of everything. He nearly thanked McKay, but only exchanged cordial goodbyes with the two when they got off at their hotel.
Jack was waiting for him in front of his room and nearly gave Daniel a heart attack.
“Are you crazy?” Daniel snapped as quietly as he could.
“I checked. Nobody was watching outside and the reception was empty. Nobody saw me. No one will see me when I leave.”
Daniel opened the door. The first thing to do was draw the curtains. Jack checked the bathroom while Daniel was hitting his limit of keeping it together. He opened his mouth but Jack lifted a warning finger. He pulled out a bug sweeper and went through the room. Five minutes felt like half an hour. Then Jack was on him so hard that Daniel stumbled backwards and hit his leg on the nightstand.
Jack’s fingers in his hair hurt, and it was exactly what he needed now. He wasn’t gentle when he put his hand on Jack’s crotch and Jack swore against his lips. When they broke the kiss, Jack’s zipper was down and he was hard.
“Jack,” Daniel pleaded. “Make me feel it.”
Jack froze, moved to pull back. Daniel wouldn’t let him. He had his eyes squeezed shut and pressed his forehead against the side of Jack’s face. He took in his partner’s scent and felt Jack nod.
“All the way to Colorado,” Jack promised.