A/N: My first chaptered LA fic! Like my others so far, it's Sam/G slash. This chapter is rated T for some bad language, but I'll be upping the rating to M for future chapters. For - *cough* - other reasons. Set during second half of season one;, story contains spoilers for episode 12 ('Past Lives') onwards. Enjoy!
ALIAS by Filthy Bunny
Chapter One: Out of the Box
Black Flag, 9pm.
That was the entire content of the text message. Callen frowned and ran his eyes over the words a few times before setting the phone down on the couch beside him. It wasn't unusual for he and Sam to meet for drinks after work, and the Black Flag had been one of their favoured haunts for years. But that abrupt tone usually indicated that Sam had something important to discuss, most likely related to a case; something that was bothering him too much to wait until morning. And there was one particular case that had been bothering Sam a great deal lately.
Dom had been missing for three weeks and four days. Callen knew this because Sam had reminded him at least twice that day. Callen wouldn't have been surprised if his partner was counting the hours, too. Everyone in the team had been blindsided by their colleague's abduction, but none had taken it quite as hard as Sam.
Be Tedrow. That part didn't make sense. Callen's Jason Tedrow persona related to a different case entirely, one that was most definitely closed. He could not comprehend why Sam would make such a request. And the Black Flag was a bar they had only ever visited off-duty, so why would Sam want him using an undercover alias there in the first place?
His watch read 20:15. He sighed. How often did Sam let him down? Never. If his partner thought it was important, it was worth giving him the benefit of the doubt. Callen got up from the couch in the office, which was once again doubling as his motel room, and made his way past his teammates' desks to the corridor that led to the archives room.
Time to take Tedrow back out of his box.
Callen arrived at the bar a few minutes after nine and was stunned to find that Sam was not already there. Sam was never late – unless of course Callen was holding him up. Growing more agitated by the minute, Callen went to the bar and ordered a scotch. He glanced around the half-empty lounge. It had been a few months since he was last here. The pool table and some of the furniture had been rearranged, but overall it was the same as ever. Shabby, dimly lit, anonymous. This was not a place he and Sam had ever brought the rest of the team, or where anyone they knew was likely to turn up by coincidence. It was one of the bars they chose to visit when they required more privacy, somewhere they could go without worrying about hiding the intimacy of their relationship.
Callen turned back to the bar and saw that his scotch had arrived. As he took his first swig, the phone in his pocket buzzed. Another message.
Something came up. Sorry, G.
"Goddammit," Callen muttered. Now he was plain irritated. He'd gone along with Sam's request and dug out Tedrow's personal effects from the sealed box in the archives room, and even borrowed a shirt from Hetty's extensive wardrobe without permission; a violation of the worst order as far as the operations manager was concerned. And now he'd been stood up. He was tempted to send Sam a bitchy reply, but decided against it.
He paid the bartender, drained his glass, and went out to the parking lot at the rear, pondering whether or not he should call at Sam's place on his way back to the op centre. If he had to wait until morning to learn what this was all about, it would bug him all night. On the other hand he was a little wary of turning up unannounced. Things had been difficult between him and Sam lately.
Sam was preoccupied with Dom's disappearance and seemed determined to blame himself for it. He had been dealing with his struggle in typical Sam Hanna style: turning inward, refusing Callen's attempts at comfort, pounding the crap out of the punch bag in the op centre at every opportunity. This time it was worse than usual. Although his outward behaviour at work had more or less returned to normal, and his skills in the field hadn't suffered, he continued to keep Callen at a distance outside work. It was worrying Callen more than he let on. Normally he would have broken through Sam's defensive barriers by now, but they were withstanding every assault. Callen was frustrated, and missing Sam badly, but he had reluctantly agreed to give his partner the space he needed rather than keep pushing and risk doing more harm.
Callen's boots crunched on broken glass as he crossed the darkened parking lot. He fumbled in his pocket for his car keys, and for a moment the jangling noise of his keyring covered up the sound of footsteps moving swiftly towards him. He heard it too late to react. Another body came crashing into his, dragging him off his set path and slamming him face first into the mesh fence that hemmed in the parking lot.
"What the fuck –" he gasped against the thick wire. In a now-automatic response, he jerked his elbow back into the solid torso pinning him in place to try and gain enough space to twist his body around, but he was held fast.
He knew it was Sam the instant he felt the warm breath on his neck. No one else he knew was as fast and soundless on their feet while still having the bulk to throw a grown man around like a ragdoll. And he knew his partner's scent only too well. Callen's mind spun wildly as he tried to make sense of events.
"Don't move," Sam's voice hissed in his ear. Callen heard the sound of Sam's SIG sliding from its holster, and a heartbeat later felt the weapon press against his spine.
Callen grimaced. He didn't waste a second on fear; his trust in Sam was unwavering. But it would have been nice to know he was going to be playing the punch bag in a surprise undercover op before it actually began. Sam must have walked into something big to not have had time to warn him properly. Callen wondered who was watching them from the shadows.
Sam kicked Callen's feet further apart and shoved G's shoulders harder against the fence with one thick forearm.
"Where's your wallet?" he barked.
"Back pocket," Callen replied. Sam reached down, found the empty pocket, and moved across to the other. He made rather more contact with Callen's ass than was necessary, which Callen would have appreciated a lot more if he hadn't been worrying about who this show was being put on for. Sam pulled out the wallet and flipped it open.
"Jason Tedrow," he read aloud. "Just the man I'm looking for."
"Who the hell are you?" Callen asked, grudgingly agreeing to play along.
"Nobody," Sam said. "Where's your car?" Callen didn't reply, so Sam jabbed the gun harder into his back. "Your car."
"At the end of the lot. The black BMW."
"Not bad," Sam said. He stepped back a little and released the pressure on Callen's shoulders so he could stand straight. The gun never strayed. "Move."
"Move your feet. Walk."
"You're not just going to take the car?"
"Nope. You're coming with me."
"Jesus, what the hell do you want?"
"We'll talk about that when we get there."
"Enough questions." Sam grabbed him roughly by the back of his coat's collar and turned him in the right direction. "Now move before I decide to stop asking so nicely."
"Okay, okay. But I need my keys. I dropped them when you threw me into the fence."
"Pick 'em up. And don't even think about trying anything."
Callen crouched slowly and retrieved his keys from the glass-strewn tarmac. Standing again, he let Sam prod him in the direction of his car. There were only a few other vehicles in the lot, and as far as Callen could judge, not another living soul around. Sam ordered him into the driver's seat and he obeyed, keeping his hands in plain view on the steering wheel as Sam let himself into the back. A moment later the cold barrel of the SIG was back against Callen's neck.
"Drive," Sam told him. "I'll direct you. And stick to the speed limit. I don't want you attracting any unnecessary attention."
No car followed them as Callen pulled out of the parking lot. Sam directed him away from the heart of the city and towards the docks, where the roads were quieter, but despite keeping a close eye on his rear view mirror Callen never caught sight of any vehicle tailing his. Sam never dropped his act during the drive, leading Callen to suspect that he was wearing a wire – possibly a cam, too – and whoever his 'associates' were, they were listening in.
Eventually he pulled off onto an unlit private road that led between rows of large, squat, featureless buildings. There were a lot of abandoned warehouses on this side of the docks; empty, unsurveilled spaces that provided the perfect location for all kinds of criminal activity, and he and Sam had cornered more than a few suspects in places just like this in the course of their careers with NCIS.
"At the end, on your left," Sam said close to Callen's ear.
Callen slowed the BMW to a crawl, its tyres crunching on the cracked and broken concrete lane. He scanned what little of the drab surroundings were revealed in the headlights, but saw no other cars or even signs of recent activity. As the last warehouse came into view, he went to stop the car, but Sam nudged him again with the gun.
"Inside," he said.
A broad loading bay stood open, shutters rolled up, and Callen grudgingly turned the car inside. He held his breath as he waited for some sight that would begin to shed light on the situation: perhaps another vehicle, some armed men; some hint of what they were dealing with. But the huge interior was just as deserted as the entire complex, his lights picking out no more than a bank of trashed furniture and debris at the far end, and ugly scrawls of graffiti on the walls.
"Looks like you've been stood up," he said pointedly as he rolled the BMW to a halt. "Hope you're not too disappointed."
"Nope," Sam replied. "Everything's just how I want it. Give me your hands."
Callen frowned and hesitated before lifting both hands to where Sam could reach them. The frown deepened as Sam's cuffs clicked into place around his wrists. He sat in sullen silence, hands in his lap, as Sam climbed out of the car. He looked up as the door beside him swung open, but Sam's face was hidden from view.
"Get in the back seat," Sam said.
"Back seat. Now." He reached in, grabbed the handcuffs and half-dragged Callen from the driver's seat.
"Seriously, what the fuck," Callen snarled, slipping out of character now as he was manhandled into the back of the car.
Sam shoved Callen across the leather upholstered seat, then lifted G's bound wrists and hooked the chain of the cuffs around the raised headrest behind him, leaving Callen stretched back with his elbows pointing up towards the roof. As Sam slid into the seat beside him, G took the opportunity to look his partner full in the face for the first time. What he saw made his heart skip a beat, then start pounding. Sam's eyes were dark and hungry, his gaze thick with desire.
Son of a bitch. This wasn't an op; it was a sex game.