HIDDEN SECRETS

Chapter 1

Author's Note: A strange little story that came to me while listening to a haunting piece from the soundtrack NCIS, 'Things Have Changed' by Bob Dylan. My first Chance/Jake slash and probably the only such piece I'll write. It will be short.

Fighting together over the years, one would think a person would know just about everything about their partner.

Chance thought just that about his best friend, Jake. But occasionally something would happen and he would receive a peek into a life he knew nothing about.

If he was honest about it, he would realize there were probably a lot of things Jake didn't know about him as well.

They'd served together in the enforcers, sharing quarters, friends, and carousing at bars after a long duty day for several happy years then came their expulsion from the enforcers that forced them to rely solely on each other every day with no outside contacts.

They weren't completely insular from the outside as they did still see old friends, family, and made temporary liaisons with others. However, those outside connections were never told more than the surface information available to anyone wanting to check their past, but more personal matters were kept between the two of them because of the major secret they shared.

So discovering this odd, incredible thing about his shy friend, shook him to his foundation. He'd discovered Jake's secret when the cinnamon tom began taking off at least twice a week late at night for several hours then returning sometime after midnight smelling of cigaret smoke, stale sweat and the scent of fems and toms on his person.

At first, Chance did his best to ignore this new behavior. It didn't affect their jobs and seemed to make him happy. He respected his partner's privacy too much to ask nosey questions, but as time went on, he got more and more curious and a little concerned.

"Why am I worried? He has a right to do what he wants......so why am I getting concerned and suspicious about what he's doing? He doesn't ask me where I'm going or who with so why do I feel I need to know what he's up to?" He questioned himself, a couple of months later. He couldn't understand this obsession about where his partner was going and with whom.

He had his own pursuits, certainly; playing pool with old buddies or spending a few hours in a favorite bar or spending a night with a pretty fem to blow off steam and there was the occasional flirting with Ms. Briggs, though he really felt nothing more than friendship for her.

But this business with Jake......it wasn't right the way he felt. He had only realized over that past couple of years how much he cared for his friend and how that attitude had morphed into something much more over time.......sneaking up on him all unaware.

But he had no inkling from Jake that his interest might be reciprocated, so he mooned after the cinnamon tom, never letting him know how desperately he wanted to cross the line into something more intimate.

Finally, no longer able to stand it, he made his move. His friend might be angry with him later but he just couldn't let it be any longer. So one night, after doing their end of day routine then going to bed as usual, Chance lay silently pretending to be asleep and waited until he heard his friend leave. He peeked out his door and spotted Jake, dressed in jeans and red t-shirt with a jean jacket, heading down the stairs. He waited for a count of twenty before stealthily following his friend down to the hangar. He waited near the hatch until he heard a cyclotron start up. Under cover of the noise, he peered down and saw Jake was turned toward the exit, getting ready to leave.

He pulled his head back out of the hatch and headed for the tow truck outside the garage entrance. As he climbed aboard, he heard the cyclotron heading off. He studied his mini scanner on his glovatrix. The bug he'd put on Jake's bike was working perfectly. Swallowing down his guilty feelings for tagging his friend, he set the truck into motion and began stalking his partner.

Chance kept a couple of miles distant from Jake as he followed him into the city then into an area known for many late night hot spots. The signal on the cyclotron finally led him to a nightclub known as the Night Owl.

Frowning, he noted the club was rather understated. Despite more noisy, brightly lit clubs just down the street, this place was quiet on the outside, its huge glowing owl, the only sign that this was even a club. Seemed a rather quiet venue for his friend to be interested in and, yet, the number of cars parked beside it spoke of an entirely different situation inside the place.

Parking his truck out of sight in an alley behind the club, he set its security system then walked, hunching his shoulders forward to hide his face from the street lights as he headed for the front of the club. He spotted the cyclotron partly hidden behind a dumpster as he walked past going to the mouth of the alley. He was in the right place alright.

Reaching the unassuming front door, he grabbed the bar-like handle and pulled it open then stepped in. He was immediately enveloped in darkness. The foyer was small and nearly claustrophobic. Beyond it was a black hanging curtain and past that he could hear the low mutter of voices, stale smoke and the scent of many bodies slapping his senses as he pushed his way into the interior. The club was more like a bistro than a place where people came to dance, meet and drink.

Confused, Chance stepped only a little ways into the room and kept to the shadows against the nearby wall. Many small wrought iron tables filled the fairly large room. A bar was to the right of the door with at least two bartenders and many waiters/waitresses coming and going. Across the room was a small stage which at the moment held a slim female dressed in a slinky long dress of electric blue who was singing a bluesy piece.

The interior was done in blacks and whites; black walls and tables, white tablecloths and chairs, black and white framed screen prints of old movies hung on the walls.

Nearly all the tables were filled with a mix of wealthy, middle class, grunge, hippy and country types with male/male, female/male, and female/female combinations evenly spread around. It was nearly filled to capacity.

'What was the attraction of this club that brought so many cross section of Kats here?' Chance wondered.

He looked around but didn't see Jake anywhere. Moving cautiously, he made his way to an empty table against the wall. Sitting nervously, he continued to look around. A pretty waitress with dark hair came up to him.

"Good evening, sir. You're new here. Would you like something from the bar?" She asked with a brilliant smile.

"Oh....uh....sure....let me have a beer please." Chance said, smiling back and trying to act nonchalant.

"Certainly, handsome." She said politely then turned back to the bar to get his order.

As he waited, Chance turned his attention to the singer on stage. She sang very well and was winding up her piece. When the last note faded away, the room erupted with claps and whistles of appreciation.

The waitress appeared at his side and deposited his beer, telling him the fee which he paid, refusing to start a tab. Still smiling, she took off and he returned his attention to looking around the room and watching the stage.

Suddenly there was movement behind the curtain, a few people popped out and began to set up a drum set, a couple of guitars and a stool in front of the mike which was lowered. After a few minutes the stage was set and three people came out to loud applause and shouts of excitement. Whoever these guys were, they were obviously popular.

The three spent a few minutes tuning and preparing themselves. Chance took that time to study them. The drummer was a slightly overweight tabby, who wore black rimmed glasses, some dark colored slacks and a blinding lime green shirt. The bass player was a lean siamese, wearing an electric blue shirt and black jeans. The electric guitar player was an all black medium built tom who could nearly disappear into the background if the curtains weren't a flaming red. He wore all black and black sunglasses. His hair was a flaming red which made him sorta of look like a volcano.

Chance's attention was dragged back to the empty stool when he noted the band was apparently ready to start. No sooner had he realized that than a figure came through the curtain carrying a guitar.

His mouth dropped. It was Jake, who smiled at the crowd as he went to the stool and sat down. He began to tune his guitar and the crowd immediately settled down and went silent. Compared to the members of his band, Jake was dressed rather plainly.

Without much warning the band began playing and to his shock, Jake began singing. His voice was rough but had an earthy charm that held everyone's attention. The songs he sang touched everyone in some way by the looks on their faces, each holding some story about life.

Chance was mesmerized. He had never known his friend was this talented. The group played for a couple of hours before finishing with a haunting melancholic song about how things change in one's life that sent shivers down his back. It sounded so much like their life it was eerie.

When the last note faded, the occupants roared their approval. Chance added his own clapping approval.

Jake got up from his stool, took a bow then quietly left the stage. Realizing he needed to get out of here before his partner spotted him, Chance reluctantly got up and headed out.

He quickly made for his truck and sped off for home. Parking the truck in the exact spot it had been, he quickly made for his room and shut the door. Once behind his bedroom door, he let out a deep sigh and stripped off his clothes, tossing them into a hamper.

He went to his bed and laid there staring up at the ceiling. It was another couple of hours before he finally heard Jake climb the stairs then close his door quietly.

It took Chance a long while to get to sleep. Floating through his mind was the final song Jake had sung that night. It haunted his mind, chasing him into sleep finally.

The next day he eyed his partner with new eyes. He hadn't decided what to do with this new information he'd acquired. Perhaps he should go to that club again and stay to see what else his partner was up to.......he thought about it most of the morning and by late afternoon had made up his mind that even though his partner might see him, he just had to know more about this side of Jake.