If there was one thing Daniel hated about being part of the Horsemen, it was the copious amounts of information that would turn up out of the blue. Often they would come in a thick stack of paper or maybe in a USB depending on what the Eye felt was safest. Daniel could usually handle a USB easily, just plug it in and scroll through, separating information as needed and taking notes. It was the paper that threw him for a loop.
It couldn't be kept neatly and often ended up torn or turned into paper aeroplanes and pirate hats by Jack's deft fingers. He'd even made cranes and whales out of the papers, attempting to make Daniel smile. Those days were a bit better. It was still horrible having to sort through all of it, though.
Daniel was in the lounge, sitting cross-legged on the floor and hunched over the coffee table. Paper was strewn about him, covered in highlighted words and phrases and pencil drawings and annotations. A half drunk cup of coffee was leaving rings on a stack of papers he'd put aside. The letters and numbers were beginning to swirl and dance in front of him, signs that maybe he should have gone with the others for a night off down at the local bar. They'd left a few hours ago, leaving the hotel suite almost silent apart from the occasional creak from people moving around above them.
Daniel looked around, glancing at the clock on the wall. 11:43. What he wouldn't give to have Jack sitting across from him, folding the paper Daniel had labelled as useless into bits of origami. He'd usually have his phone out beside him, looking up instructions for more complicated things. He'd always have his tongue poking cutely out of the corner of his mouth, concentrating on getting the folds right. When he was done, he'd grin and place the origami animal in front of Daniel or place the paper hat on his head or throw the paper aeroplane so it would hit Merritt in the head as he walked past. Jack always managed to make things a little more interesting, always knew when to drag Daniel away from the work to show him a new trick or try to teach him to throw cards. Daniel was more than grateful for it when it happened.
He glanced back down at the papers, letting out a sigh. "Fuck this."
He grabbed his cup of stone cold coffee and got up, willing to give himself a half hour break before going back to work. His joints popped as he stood. His foot was asleep, pins and needles making walking uncomfortable as he made his way to the kitchen. He poured out the coffee and flicked on the jug, setting up another coffee.
As he waited for the jug to click, Daniel thought about what had happened earlier. Jack had offered to stick around with Daniel, keep him company while he went over the new information. Daniel had been happy for the offer, thinking maybe his night wouldn't be so boring after all. Merritt had mumbled something to Jack as he passed, making the younger man flush and call him an asshole. Merritt teased him for a bit before Lula had proceeded to drag him out the door, claiming that they all needed a drink if they were going to survive being locked up together.
"Are you coming?" Merritt had asked, smirking at seeing Jack being dragged out the door by 5 feet 3 inches of hyper magician.
"Not tonight, I have all this to get through." Daniel gestured at the paper strewn across the lounge. It looked like a filing cabinet had exploded and promptly disappeared.
"You sure? Saying a certain something to a certain someone might be easier when said certain someone is plied with a number of shots." Merritt tried to come off as innocent but at this point, Daniel could see through him with ease.
"I'm sure and don't you dare say anything to him." He threatened, jabbing a finger at Merritt. There wasn't much heat behind it and Merritt knew that Daniel wasn't likely to go through with anything horrible. Maybe bad enough to make his life hell for a couple of weeks but not horrible horrible.
"C'mon, Danny-boy, you can't keep stepping around it like this. Pretty soon something's going to happen between you two, whether it's a falling out or going for a roll in the sheets."
"I get it, Merritt."
"Sure you won't join us?"
"You've got to do something about it soon."
Daniel sighed and gave Merritt one of his signature 'I'm-not-in-the-mood-for-this' glares. "Merritt."
"Daniel." Merritt mustered up his best (worst) imitation of Daniel's look, crossing his arms for good measure. Honestly, he would have stopped ages ago if Daniel had just loosened up a little. Not that it would ever happen but still, perhaps if he got that stick out of his ass...
There was a beat of silence where Daniel was doing his best not to shove a snickering Merritt out the door while Merritt continued pushing his luck to the limits.
Lula's voice carried down the hallway and back through the door, snapping Merritt to attention. It wasn't like she scared him, it was just that someone so young should not have such a fixation on decapitation. So, yeah, she scared him a little. "HURRY UP, MERRITT!"
Merritt straightened his hat and waved goodbye to Daniel, ducking out the door. Daniel had nearly slammed the door after he was across the threshold, leaning his back against it. Of course, Merritt knew. Merritt knew almost everything emotions based. Though if you asked Daniel, mentalism still wasn't magic. It was just guess work. Pure guess work and dumb luck. Naturally, Daniel wasn't going to do anything about his crush on Jack. If he took the first step, there was the potential to screw everything up and he'd really rather not go there.
Daniel had shoved it all to the back of his mind and went to work.
Daniel tipped his head back, running his hands over his face. Merritt was right. He'd have to deal with this crush at some point. He didn't have to do it now but he would eventually. He supposed 'crush' didn't even really cover the issue. A crush was something fleeting. This had been going on for ages. He was well and truly screwed.
The jug clicked off and just as Daniel was about to pour the hot water into his coffee, a knock came at the suite door. He tensed. There were only a few possibilities of who was on the other side of the door. One, police, they were fugitives after all. Two, someone they'd exposed wanting revenge. Three, hotel staff doing their job. Four, one of the others having forgotten their key or too drunk to use it. Daniel crept towards the door, checking his exits as he went. He wasn't as capable as Jack when it came to jumping out of windows and scaling down buildings but he could make do. He could feel his heart slamming against his ribcage. If it was the police, had they already gotten the others at the bar? Did they have them all in custody, ready for Interpol to take them in, read them their rights and lock them up. Daniel's handcuff key in the soda can had worked once to get him out of an interrogation but he didn't think it would work again. They'd been underestimated before and, if Interpol was doing their job right, that mistake wouldn't be made again. Hearing a rushing noise in his ears, Daniel took a peek through the eyehole.
A man was on the other side, short brown hair, about 5'7", dressed in a leather jacket and dark jeans. He was facing away from the door, his hands jammed in his pockets and he was swaying a bit. Daniel let out a breath he didn't know he'd been holding and undid the locks before pulling open the door, stepping back to allow Jack to step inside.
Jack spun around and grinned widely upon seeing Daniel. "Hey!"
"Hey." Daniel was a little taken aback at the other man looking like an excited, if intoxicated, puppy. "Jack, are you drunk?"
"Is that 'maybe' a yes or a no?"
Jack thought for a minute, concentrating hard and chewing on his lip. "Maybe yes?"
"What did you drink?" Daniel asked.
"I might have had a few shots."
Jack was standing in the doorway now, grin a mile wide. Daniel didn't have to be a mentalist to tell he'd had more than just a few. His eyes were slightly unfocused and his words slurred just enough to still be coherent. His cheeks were tinted red and he was giggling like a child, lounging against the door frame like it was the only thing stopping him from dropping to the ground.
"How many constitutes a few?" Daniel asked, raising an eyebrow.
Jack at least had the cognitive ability to look a little embarrassed. He scrunched up his face and Daniel had to use most of his control to not focus on the way Jack's brow furrowed or how his nose scrunched up as he thought. "Uhh... 7? Maybe?"
"Maybe." He grinned triumphantly like it was something to be really proud of.
"Nothing else?" Daniel pinched the bridge of his nose. Maybe he shouldn't have left Jack with Merritt and Lula. It wasn't that he didn't trust them, it was just that he tended to be the voice of reason when it came to alcohol.
"A couple of beers." Jack hummed, licking his lips. Daniel tracked the movement with his eyes, much to his own embarrassment though Jack didn't seem to notice. He pushed off the door frame and took a couple of steps towards him. "Blame Merritt. He called me a lightweight."
"So you got plastered."
"And then thought you'd come to me."
"Merritt said I had to deal with my issue and Lula agreed."
"And you thought it was a good idea to listen to them."
Jack nodded, seeming a little more sober than when he'd first knocked on their hotel door. His eyes were a little more focused, staying fixed on Daniel's face.
"Real smart," Daniel said, trying not to shuffle under Jack's stare, sarcasm dripping off the words. "And your issue is?"
"That you're really cute." He blurted, a childlike grin across his face. All seriousness was gone from his face in an instant as Jack flashed him the flirtatious smile he usually reserved for stunning the people at their shows. Daniel felt the tips of his ears heat a little and bit the inside of his lip in an attempt to stop it from spreading to his cheeks. His common sense told him that there was a good chance that it was the drink that was talking and not Jack. Hell, Merritt might have hypnotised him just for a bit of fun for all he knew.
"Jack, you're drunk."
"You don't know what you're saying and you'll probably regret it in the morning." Daniel reasoned, shutting the door behind Jack and locking it.
"I know what I'm saying," Jack said, managing to pout and look defiant at the same time. He crossed his arms like an offended toddler. "And I won't regret it."
"You should get some sleep." Daniel sighed, trying to herd Jack towards his room.
"But Danny," Jack whined, turning his head to look back at Daniel. He twisted around so he was facing him, trying to reverse Daniel's grip on his arms. "I need to tell you something."
"It can wait until morning when you're sober," Daniel said, softening a little at Jack's huff.
Jack held up one of his hands, his little finger out. "Pinky promise?"
"Yes, Jack," Daniel said, wrapping his own little finger around Jack's before trying once more to get Jack into his own room.
Jack relaxed a little, letting Daniel guide him backwards through the suite and around furniture. "Okay... But you can't let sober me get out of telling you."
Daniel nodded, chuckling a little as Jack poked him in the chest, looking about as serious as a drunk man could. Jack paused and yawned a moment later, reaching up to rub at his eye like a child. He looked adorable with messed up hair and a half awake grin. Daniel had to admit that he thought Jack was cute. He could pinpoint the moment he fell exactly. It was when Jack had joined them on the landing when the whole Horsemen gig started up and had picked the lock like a master. He'd looked around at each of them, pausing a little longer on Daniel than the others with a shy smile and a shrug. Daniel had felt his heart melt a bit at that. The hero-worship thing probably added to it, too. After all, the best way to him was through his ego and Jack had managed to worm his way under Daniel's skin with his broad grins and flirtatious nature.
Daniel manoeuvred Jack through his room's door, letting go of him. "Time for sleep."
Jack nodded, swaying over and flopping face first into the duvet. He sighed and curled up, kicking his shoes off his feet. "Night, Danny."
"Good night, Jack." Daniel snuck out, Jack already snoring away into his duvet.
He looked at the paper still strewn about the lounge and felt the lack of motivation hit him like a brick wall. He wasn't getting any more done tonight. With a sigh, he gathered the paper into a file and left it there. He then took a leaf out of Jack's book and headed to bed, not ready to deal with what Merritt and Lula would be like when they got home.
"I am never drinking again." Jack groaned, resting his head on the breakfast counter.
"Rough night, Jackie?" Merritt quipped, breezing into the kitchen like he hadn't drunk enough liquor to kill an elephant the night before.
Jack simply grunted, his head still stuck to the cool counter. If he lifted it and moved too fast the room started doing an impersonation of a dryer cycle. Not the best way to start the day. Merritt at least had the mind to be quieter in his teasing.
"I said you were a lightweight." Merritt shook his head and poured himself a glass of juice. He offered a glass to Jack, assuming no reaction was a 'yes'.
"Sorry I can't drink enough to sink a battleship," Jack mumbled, taking the glass when it was set in front of him.
Merritt shrugged. "Did you at least confess to him like you said you would?"
Jack turned bright red, resting his chin on his arm. "I don't... I don't really know. I think I did? But I don't think he took me seriously... Though that might have been a dream. I don't know; it's a great big blur."
"Well, you better hurry up and figure it out otherwise I'm losing fifty bucks to Lula," Merritt said. "And also Danny-boy is coming this way, sober as can be."
Jack nearly choked on his orange juice, whipping around to look at the doorway. Daniel had stopped to talk to a hungover Lula who'd crashed on the couch. Merritt chuckled at the look on Jack's face. He was head over heels watching Daniel. God help the boy.
"Good luck, kid." Merritt chimed, grabbing a couple of aspirin to give to Lula on his way past.
Jack nodded, only half registering Merritt leaving the kitchen. He watched as Merritt paused to give Lula the aspirin and mention something to Daniel. Jack caught Daniel's eye over Merritt's shoulder for a split second before looking away. His cheeks were burning at the thought that maybe he did something insanely embarrassing or overstepped a boundary last night. Daniel didn't seem to be coming to talk to him to berate him about whatever happened, if anything happened, but then you never could really tell with Daniel. Almost everything was coated with a layer of sarcasm and snark. He'd gotten a little more open since their first heist but he'd kept his razor sharp tongue ready to insult or taunt.
He focused on the glass of orange juice in front of him as Daniel came in, hair standing at odd angles. He'd begun to grow it out again after the plane trick on the Thames and it was at an awkward stage where it was still rather short but was long enough to fall over his forehead in a tangled heap.
"Morning, Jack." He said, going about making his coffee with precise movements. Two teaspoons of sugar, no milk. He claimed he needed both the caffeine and the sugar but the milk was irrelevant. The revelation had caused an argument in their car between Lula and Daniel about proper coffee etiquette. Jack had been tempted to side with Daniel, personally enjoying his coffee black with one sugar. Merritt had egged them on, playing devil's advocate for both sides. It had been an interesting drive to the airport. Several days passed before they dropped the argument and it still cropped up every now and then when things got boring.
Jack grunted. "Morning."
"Sleep well?" He asked, not turning around as the jug boiled.
"I guess. Killer hangover though."
"Well, you did over-do it last night."
"Yeah, I know..."
"Speaking of last night, you wanted to tell me something?"
Jack froze, tense, as Daniel turned to face him. Daniel's face was oddly devoid of emotion, looking at him carefully. The thought that maybe he'd seriously overstepped a boundary the night before returned full force. It made Jack nervous, barely refraining from tapping his feet against the bar on his stool. "Did I?"
"Yeah, what was it?"
"Didn't I tell you?"
"I wouldn't let you. I figured if it was important enough, you'd remember it sans alcohol."
"Oh..." Jack shifted a little. He never particularly liked it when Daniel was impassive like this. It meant he was onto something that you wanted to hide. Jack had seen him pulling this trick on people before when they'd pissed him off. It was designed to make them uncomfortable, to stop them focusing and make them overthink. He had to have done something wrong if Daniel was pulling this trick.
"It had something to do with an issue Lula and Merritt had sent you back here for. Any idea what it was?" Daniel could see that Jack was uncomfortable and let up a little on the act. He didn't want to scare him off or anything. It was just that he didn't want to get his hopes up any higher than they were. He wanted to know before saying anything about himself.
Jack shook his head jerkily. "Uh, no? I can't remember much of last night..."
"Really?" Daniel frowned, his face softening as he bit his lip. "It seemed to be important."
"Yeah?" Jack focused on Daniel's mouth, distracted.
"Yeah, you made me promise not to let sober you get out of telling me something."
"Oh." Jack took a sip of his juice, using it as an excuse not to answer properly.
"Mm... It was something about me being cute." Daniel smiled a little over the top of his mug as Jack snorted into his juice.
"You called me cute. Last night. While drunk. I thought you'd regret it so I stopped you before you got any further." Daniel shrugged, moving forwards to stand across the breakfast counter from Jack. He placed his coffee down carefully before continuing, albeit quieter than before. "Was it the drink talking? Or was it you?"
Jack clenched his jaw, not looking at Daniel, his leg jittering against his chair. He was tempted to say it was just the drink talking, that he was simply too drunk to really mean anything he said. As much as it would save him embarrassment and the heavy risk of rejection, he couldn't do that to Daniel. He wasn't able to straight out lie to him. So he couldn't lie but he could stay quiet, refuse to incriminate himself any further.
"Jack?" Daniel's voice was impossibly soft, gentle, breaking the moment's silence.
Jack curved in on himself a little, seeming smaller and shyer. "What do you think?"
"I think you're a very talented sleight." Daniel started, watching the tips of Jack's ears go pink. He grinned, getting the response he wanted. "I think you're very sweet. I... I think you've got some of the most stunning eyes I've ever seen. I think you're adorable and gorgeous and beautiful and that you have the potential to light up a stadium."
Jack was blushing, his cheeks a dark pink as a small smile quirked the corners of his lips. He stared at the orange juice in front of him. Should he look up? If he did, then there's the potential that he'd just been told what he wanted to hear, not the truth. That would hurt like a bitch. His leg was jittering at a faster rate now the thought was in his head and he wished he had a deck of cards to occupy himself, to help him think straight for once. Or at least, as straight as he could with Daniel in the room. He considered the other option, that this wasn't a poorly thought out and insensitive joke. Wasn't this what he wanted? Daniel calling him beautiful and sweet and generally being there and his, most of all. He didn't notice Daniel leaning over the thin breakfast counter so they were nearly nose to nose.
"Hey, I'd much prefer it if you could look at me while I compliment you." He hummed, trying not to laugh at Jack snapping his head up. Now they were nose to nose, Jack's breath warm on his face and faintly smelling of mint. Jack thanked the Eye itself for the good forethought to brush his teeth before coming anywhere near the kitchen.
"Sorry," Jack mumbled. His cheeks were slowly reaching scarlet in colour and Daniel seemed to be taking enjoyment in watching him getting flustered. His finger's tapped against the glass. The soft pinging was the only sound for a moment. Lula and Merritt were probably in the lounge, listening out for the confession that would signify a winner.
"So about last ni-"
"Itwasmethedrinkjustkindahelpeditalongmadeiteasiertosaytheyreallymeanitwhentheycallitliquidcouragebutyouhavereallyprettyeyesandyoualwayslooksogreatandit'sgreattowatchyouonstagebecauseyou'relovingitandIcantellyou'relovingitandI'minlovewithyou." Jack rushed out in a single breath, dark brown eyes locked on Daniel's blue ones. Blood was rushing in his ears as a blank look came over Daniel's face. He didn't mean for that last bit to come out. 'Fuck, shit, fuck, fuck, FUCK! Abort! Abort mission! A-FUCKING-BORT!' Jack's mind screamed at him, kicking his flight response into high gear. He went to race out of the room, half out of his chair, when he was stopped by a hand around his wrist.
"Jack. Please sit back down." Daniel's voice was firm and had the same quality it had when he got audience members to participate. Jack had no option but to comply. He looked miserable, knowing that rejection was just around the corner. Why did he let Lula and Merritt talk him into this? Daniel noticed the way Jack couldn't seem to look him in the eye. He loosened his grip on Jack's wrist a little, running his thumb gently over the joint, trying for comfort. "Now, I think I understood most of that so I'm hoping that you won't hate me for this..."
"Hate you for wh-" Jack was cut off by a hand slipping under his chin and coaxing him closer. Daniel's lips sealed over his own, sending a rather pleasant albeit confused shock down his spine. Jack let out small, strangled noise from the back of his throat, and sunk happily into the kiss. Daniel's hand had moved from his chin to his cheek and his thumb stroked over Jack's cheekbone, sending little sparks with each brush. It was a slow kiss, languid and content. Jack licked at Daniel's lower lip, pressing forward when Daniel made a soft pleased noise and opened his mouth. Daniel let go of Jack's wrist, sure that he wasn't going anywhere, and ran the hand up Jack's arm, threading his fingers through his hair. Jack let out a hum of pleasure, relaxing more, and Daniel filed the fact the Jack liked his hair being played with or tugged on away for future reference. Daniel tasted of his coffee and, in hindsight, orange juice, black coffee and mint toothpaste weren't the best mix.
Daniel pulled away just enough to look Jack in the eye and rested his forehead against Jack's. He huffed out a laugh despite the grimace on his face. "Maybe next time we forego the coffee and orange juice?"
Jack bit his lip and nodded. "Yeah, good plan. So... There will be a next time?"
Daniel raised an eyebrow, his grimace becoming a smirk. "You know, for a devilishly smart person, you can be extremely thick."
Jack grumbled, flushing pinker, and gave him a look like a petulant child. Daniel pressed a second, shorter kiss to his nose, coaxing his favourite dazzling smile out again.
"But, yes, there will be a next time." Daniel paused, feigned moving away. "Unless you don't-"
"No!" The shout earned a giggle and a snort from the lounge. Of course, they were listening in from the couches, probably hanging off the edge to hear better around the wall. Jack coughed awkwardly, noticing he'd grabbed at Daniel's hand and the other man had turned it so they're fingers slotted together. "Er, no. I want there to be a next time."
"I'm glad," Daniel squeezed his hand lightly, grabbing his coffee and nodding his head towards the door. "We got some new information in last night, care to join me?"
Jack nodded, getting off his stool and letting Daniel lead him out into the lounge. Merritt and Lula were trying to act casual and they possibly could have pulled it off if Lula's magazine wasn't upside down and Merritt wasn't studying a random pamphlet for shampoo that had been left in the hotel suite. Daniel settled into the corner of the couch, setting his coffee down on the table, and tugged Jack down next to him. Jack snuggled into his side, drawing his legs up onto the couch. Daniel picked up a folder from the table, opening it to a page of nothing but words and numbers. Jack found it way too early to deal with anything like that and moved to nap instead, slipping down so his head was resting in Daniel's lap rather than on his shoulder. Daniel ran his fingers idly through Jack's hair, a small quirk appearing at the corner of his mouth. Jack drifted off, half asleep in minutes, content as could be.
Daniel could feel the eyes of both Merritt and Lula boring into his head. They were staring at the two of them, looking over the top of their pamphlets and magazines. "You two aren't subtle."
Both pairs of eyes shot back down to their respective media. They were really about to pretend they hadn't been staring. Daniel sighed, not looking up from the file, still twisting his fingers through Jack's hair. "Lula, your magazine's upside down, and Merritt, I highly doubt you need hair care products."
"Damn," Lula muttered, shutting the magazine and tossing it on the table. Merritt threw the pamphlet beside it, shrugging as he sat forward.
"So this," Merritt gestured to Daniel with a sleeping Jack in his lap, "is a thing now?"
"Feigning innocence doesn't suit you, Merritt." Daniel looked up at them, closing the file and resting it on the arm of the couch. "Don't pretend you weren't listening at the door."
"We weren't." Lula huffed, pouting a little. Daniel levelled an unimpressed look at her. Damn, caught. She shrugged, not even sorry. "Okay, yeah, we were."
"It's rude to eavesdrop."
"Not when you have a bet going on." She grinned, turning to Merritt. "Time to pay up, Merritt."
Merritt grumbled, fishing his wallet out of his pocket. He pulled out a fifty dollar note and handed it over to a grinning Lula.
"What was your bet on?" Daniel asked, watching the exchange.
"Who would get up the balls to deal with all that sexual tension first," Merritt said, sitting back in his spot.
"That's why you sent him back drunk last night?"
Lula shrugged. "We had to get things moving somehow."
"Wait, how long's this been going on?"
Merritt glanced at Lula. "Five? Six months?"
"Six months," Lula confirmed. "Who knew all we had to do was get Jack plastered to get things moving."
"Who knew." Daniel murmured, glancing down at Jack. He was supposedly sleeping soundly.
"You should have seen him last night. Wouldn't shut up about you." Merritt chuckled. "Just, don't hurt him."
Daniel nodded, not planning on doing anything to possibly hurt Jack. He smiled affectionately as Jack shifted, rolling onto his side.
"Merritt, leave him alone," Jack mumbled, still half asleep with one eye cracked open. He'd been listening in the whole time, only drifting between consciousness and sleep.
"Just making sure, Jackie."
"Yeah, whatever." He rolled back onto his back, looking up at Daniel. He smirked a little. "He wouldn't be able to hurt me if he tried."
"True." Daniel agreed, picking up his folder again as Lula muttered something about going looking for some food covered in grease. She called Merritt to help her make breakfast, bacon and hash browns and eggs on the menu. Jack was still looking up at him, that slightly mischievous smirk still on his face.
"I just think you're cute is all." Jack's smirk grew wider. "And I love you."
Daniel smiled back, full and happy, unlike the one he used onstage. The words came out easy, surprisingly easy, almost scarily so. "I love you too, Jack."
"YES!" Merritt yelled from the kitchen, already demanding back his fifty dollars. Lula could be heard arguing with him about the amount, the legitimacy of saying 'I love you' after maybe half an hour of being together and that it was rude to eavesdrop.
Daniel and Jack were laughing at them, still curled into the corner of their couch. They spent most of the morning there, wondering how many other bets the other two horsemen had made between them and generally being cute. Merritt spent a fair chunk of his time sending snaps of the two of them to Henley. Jack and Daniel caught him a couple of times, Daniel flipping him the bird and Jack yelling greetings to Henley.