New Horizons

March 08, 2002

Blair sat in the park, enjoying that rarity, a warm, sunny day in Cascade. He looked around him, thinking how much he was going to miss the place. But it was impractical to stay. The problems with his dissertation had pretty much guaranteed that. Oh, he'd tried to make it work, for the sake of Jim, Simon and all their friends, but he just couldn't stay at the Academy, couldn't be a cop.

When he'd gotten a broken wrist during the first week due to an "accident", Blair had told Jim that he had to leave, that it wasn't fair on anyone if he stayed around. Jim took one look at the bruised, haunted look on his Guide's face and decided there and then, he wasn't going to let Blair leave him.

"Chief, we'll both go," he said.

"No way, no," Blair started to protest.

"Blair, remember our promise to each other?" Jim asked gently.

Blair nodded; how could he forget? When they had got together, Jim had recited a passage from the book of Ruth to Blair, promising him that they would always be together no matter what. That had taken a serious battering in the wake of Naomi's interference and the press conference, but they had fought through it together and were stronger for the experience. 'What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger,' Blair had thought ironically. Well, he could certainly testify to the truth of that statement, from both sides of the fence.

So, it was decided, they would both leave. All that remained was to work out where to go. Jim had gone to Simon anyway and told him he was resigning. Simon had tried to argue him out of it, but when Blair had arrived to take Jim for lunch in the middle of the argument, one look at the younger man had convinced Simon of the truth of what Jim had told him. So he had agreed to accept Jim's resignation.

"Where will you go?" Simon asked, looking from one to the other, already thinking about how much he was going to miss the team of Ellison-Sandburg.

"Actually, I may have an answer to that," Blair said as Jim started to say he didn't know. "But it's something Jim and I need to discuss first, if you don't mind, Simon."

Jim looked at Sandburg in surprise, noticing that for the first time in a long time, Blair actually looked excited about something.

"Of course, Sandburg," Simon agreed. "Why don't you take the rest of the day, Jim? You're looking a little under the weather, wouldn't want you to come down with anything."

Jim hesitated, started to say he felt fine, then Blair nudged him and he got a clue.

"Actually sir, I think I have a migraine coming on, so if you don't mind, I could use a bit of time off," he said.

"No problem, Jim, see you tomorrow," Simon said, nodding agreement.

During the drive home, Blair refused to tell Jim anything about what his answer might be, but he was practically vibrating with excitement, so Jim guessed it must be a good thing.

Once back at the loft, Jim immediately turned to Blair.

"Okay Chief, give it up," he said.

Blair plopped down on to the couch and turned bright eyes on his lover.

"I had a phone call today from an old friend, Daniel Jackson," he said.

"Uh huh," Jim sat on the coffee table, in front of Blair. "I remember you mentioning his name once," he said. "He's the pyramid guy, right?"

Blair laughed affectionately at Jim, patting his knee. "Yeah, the guy who claimed the pyramids are actually a lot older than they really are. Well, after that last lecture, he disappeared out of sight completely. Today he called me to say that he had a proposition we might be interested in and asked if we would meet with him to discuss it."

"Where?" was all Jim asked.

"Washington, DC," Blair responded, holding his breath.

"What else did he tell you?" Jim asked.

"Not a lot really," Blair admitted. "He just said he's working for the Air Force now and that he couldn't tell me, tell us, any more unless we agreed to a face to face meeting."

"So why are you so eager to go?" Jim asked. "I wouldn't think you'd be that keen on joining the US military."

Blair frowned. "I wouldn't have to, according to Daniel. He works for them as a civilian consultant and he said it's very well paid work. I'm intrigued and I'd like to at least hear what he has to say. He hinted that it was important work, related to National Security. He also mentioned seeing the Press Conference and being interested in your special abilities." As he said this last, Blair sketched quote marks in the air.

Jim sat back a bit and looked at Blair. He could see that his reaction had disappointed Blair, but he wasn't sure that this was the right opportunity for them. He also had no desire to re-join the military. On the other hand, they had nothing else on the horizon that looked remotely like a possible future for them.

"All right, I'll agree to the meeting, hear him out. I guess he deserves that much at least," Jim said.

He was rewarded with a huge enthusiastic smile from his lover. "Great, man, I'll let him know we're coming." Blair bounced over to the phone.

"When do they want this meeting, Chief?" Jim asked as he watched Blair start to dial.

"As soon as we can get there," Blair said.

Jim raised his eyebrows at that. "They're keen," he said.

Blair made shushing motions with his hands as the phone was answered.

In DC, Daniel had explained to them about the Stargate project, introducing them to Major Davis and General Hammond. While Jim had gone off to discuss the pros and cons of being re-activated as a Ranger, as opposed to remaining a civilian, Daniel had explained in greater detail to Blair the anthropological aspects of the project.

"Thanks to the new President," Daniel explained, "more emphasis is being put on to the non-military aspects of the project again. Although we still have to consider looking for weaponry as our prime directive, as it were, he's been convinced of the importance of our other objectives as well."

"Thanks, no doubt, to you," Blair said with a grin.

"Well, I may have helped a bit," Daniel said self-deprecatingly.

Blair grinned and then Jim had returned and the conversation had turned to the various cultures Daniel had encountered and Jim's time with the Chopec, which Daniel found fascinating.

When Jim had gone to meet the President, Blair watching enviously, to be reassured he would be protected from the alphabet soup of government agencies, the conversation had become more personal. Daniel and Blair reminisced about the time they had spent together, first in Cascade, during Daniel's two semesters at Rainier, then later in California, when Blair had spent a summer with Daniel.

"How long have you and Jim been together?" Daniel asked Blair.

Blair pulled a face. "Is it that obvious?" he asked ruefully.

Daniel smiled at him. "Only to me," he said reassuringly. "I knew you pretty well once," he reminded his friend. "I can tell. He's "The One" isn't he?" A hand gesture capitalized and en-quoted the phrase.

Blair gave a huge smile. "Yeah, he's the one," he nodded.

"It's not going to be easy for either of you," Daniel warned him. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell and all that stuff."

Blair gave a mischievous grin. "Voice of experience?" he asked.

It was Daniel's turn to pull a face. "Yeah," he said.

"So spill, man," Blair said enthusiastically. "It's not the dishy Major Davis is it?" he asked.

Daniel snorted. "Sorry, but you were the last long distance relationship I had. Once was enough for that particular trip."

"So give," Blair insisted.

"His name's Jack O'Neill and he's a Colonel. He's in charge of my team, SG-1, actually," Daniel said.

"So why isn't he here," Blair asked, "helping to recruit Jim?"

"He had to go on a mission," Daniel said, misery coloring his tone. "But the Pentagon decided that it was imperative that I come here with General Hammond, that this was a more important use of my time than going on that particular mission."

Blair took Daniel's hand in his. "I'm sorry," he said. "You must miss him."

"Its ages since he went on a mission without me," Daniel said. "I trust the rest of our team and he's very good at what he does, but it's not the same as being with him, you know?"

"I know," Blair said, hugging Daniel. "I used to hate it when I couldn't go with Jim on cases because I had to be at the University. I was always worried something would go wrong with his senses and I wouldn't be there to fix it for him."

"You are going to join us aren't you, Blair?" Daniel asked, pulling back from the hug.

"So long as Jim agrees," Blair said. "It sounds like a wild trip, man. I wouldn't miss it for the world."

"Good," Daniel replied. "I've managed to build up a good scientific team there, but none of them are friends, you know, they see me as their boss and I don't really socialize with them. It'll be good to have someone there as my equal."

"Someone who won't take your shit, you mean," Blair said with a laugh.

Daniel laughed as well. "You always could see through me."

At that point Jim returned, and shortly afterwards Daniel left them alone to discuss their decision.

Blair rose from his park bench with a sigh and set off across the park for the walk back to the loft. He couldn't call it home anymore, as it wasn't home. They were selling the apartment and moving to Colorado. Blair had found them a house to stay in while they looked for somewhere permanent to live, providing they passed their induction course and stayed on at the SGC.

They had realized early on that it would be impossible for Jim to stay on the Base. The sensory stimulation would be far too extreme for Jim's senses, even with white noise generators and all his dials turned way down. So Blair had found them a house in a fairly isolated location. He hoped that Jim liked the house; they had an option to buy it if things worked out and they decided to stay in Colorado.

"Hey, Jim." Blair walked in to the loft, finding his lover sorting through a stack of CDs.

"Hey, Chief." Jim looked up with a warm smile. "You okay?"

Blair nodded. "Just saying my farewells," he said.

Jim smiled. "I'm going to miss this place."

"Your tribe, man," Blair said. "It's not going to be easy, adjusting to leaving Cascade and taking on a new tribe."

"I'll cope," Jim said comfortably. "You won't let me do anything but cope, Chief, just like always. Besides, all that matters is that we're together and you're happy."

Blair swallowed around the sudden lump in his throat. "No," he said, voice a bit unsteady. "Your happiness matters just as much as mine."

"'Whither thou goest'," Jim quoted softly, hand reaching out to Blair.

"'I will go'," Blair completed the phrase, kissing Jim's palm as he did so.

"Exactly," Jim said with a brilliant grin. He pulled Blair to him and kissed him. "'Where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people'."

"'And thy God my God'." Blair finished the quote, reaffirming their commitment to each other with another kiss. The packing was abandoned as they renewed their love with their customary passion and enthusiasm.

Jack came out of his office en route to his meeting with General Hammond and promptly collided with someone. He grabbed at the other person automatically to steady them both. It was a strong, muscular body. It also smelt like Daniel, Jack noted as he inhaled the familiar aftershave. Jack felt his body respond automatically to the smell.

"Oh, man, sorry!" a voice blurted out.

Jack looked down into blue eyes and started to respond, still on autopilot. "It's okay..." The words died on his lips as his mind finally caught up with events. He clued into two things: this person was smaller than Daniel - he never had to look down into his lover's eyes - and the voice wasn't right either.

"Blair! Two voices called the name from opposite ends of the corridor, one familiar, and the other not. Then the familiar voice said his name.

Jack swiveled his head to look at the men converging on him. Daniel was coming down the corridor from the direction of his office, a confused look on his face. The other person was a tall stranger with a fierce glare on his face.

"Hey, man, you okay?" The voice from the body in front of him startled Jack back to awareness. He realized that the four of them were attracting furtive glances from other personnel. And he still had his hands on this stranger's shoulders. He snatched them away quickly, flushing with a mixture of embarrassment and anger.

As the other two men reached them, Jack gestured them all into his still-open office before anyone had a chance to speak. He pushed the door closed and leaned against it for a minute, striving to regain his composure.

The other three watched him as he finally moved to sit behind the comforting barrier of his desk. The two strangers had taken the chairs, while Daniel leant against the wall in a corner.

"Who the hell are you two anyway?" Jack finally blurted out. 'And why do you,' Jack thought to himself, looking pointedly at Blair, 'smell like Daniel?'.

The smaller man immediately spoke. "Blair Sandburg," he announced, sticking out a hand for Jack to shake. Jack ignored the hand, looking to his lover for an explanation instead. Blair withdrew the hand, but didn't seem concerned by the hostile reaction.

"Jack, this is Blair Sandburg and his partner, James Ellison," Daniel said. "They're the new guys the General mentioned this morning in the briefing."

Jack nodded in recollection of that fact. "The geek and the guy with the weird senses," he said.

Jim growled at that and half rose from his chair. A soft touch to his shoulder from Blair made him subside again. Blair had seen the soft look on Jack's face as he addressed the seemingly harsh words to his lover and smiled, hiding it as soon as Jack's eyes flicked back in his direction.

The jarring ring of the phone disturbed the silence that fell. Jack scooped up the handset and said his name.

"Yes sir, I'm on my way," he said. "I got side-tracked when I bumped into one of the new men. I'll be right there." He replaced the handset and stood up. "I have to go," he announced abruptly. "Daniel, can you arrange another meeting?" With that parting remark, he swept from the room, leaving the other three men sitting in his office.

Daniel gave a fond sigh. It was just as well he loved Jack, the way the man behaved sometimes. He looked at the partners. "Coffee?" he asked.

Soon afterwards, they were settled in Daniel's office, mugs in hand.

"Still serving the best coffee around," Blair noted, toasting Daniel with his mug as he took a mouthful of the dark liquid. Daniel merely smirked in agreement.

"Sorry about earlier," Daniel said, breaking the silence that fell over the three of them. He had watched Jim Ellison carefully studying and cataloguing the contents of his office, knowing that the ex-cop was probably cataloguing its occupant at the same time.

"Yeah, so what's with the Colonel?" Blair asked. "He always like that?"

Daniel smiled reflexively. "Not always, no. He's in the middle of performance evaluations with the General at the moment and it always makes him a little short-tempered."

"That's a generous assessment," Blair said, a mischievous look on his face. "I just bet he gets called Mr. Grumpy."

Daniel shook his head with a laugh. "That would be Colonel Grumpy to you," he said, emphasizing Jack's rank. "As second in command he gets away with a lot."

"I bet," Blair nodded in agreement. "I'd hate to be on the receiving end of a training program he was running."

"Uh oh," Daniel said, flashing his own mischievous look at Blair.

"What, man?" Blair demanded, a nervous look at Jim betraying his anxiety.

"Jack runs the induction course for all new recruits," Daniel said. "Basic fitness, hand to hand combat, firearms qualification. You get a whole week of him playing the drill sergeant to the hilt."

"Oh man, I'm sunk," Blair groaned dramatically.

"Don't underestimate yourself, Chief." Jim entered the conversation unexpectedly, earning a startled look from Daniel - who had almost forgotten his presence - and a look of gratitude from Blair. "You've had to do plenty of running around with me these last few years as my partner and we know you can take down bad guys in plenty of new and exciting ways, all designed to scare me into an early grave."

Blair considered that with a thoughtful look on his face. "Thanks, Jim," he said, flashing a grateful smile at his partner. "That just leaves the guns." He gave an unconscious shudder as he spoke that word.

"I know how you feel." Daniel jumped into the conversation again. "I was the same at first, but believe me, you'll be pretty glad you can use a gun as soon as the first Jaffa or seemingly peaceful alien takes a pot shot at you."

Blair still looked uncertain. "Well, I trust you, Daniel, so I'll take your word for that. Plus, I don't want to be a burden to anybody." He shot a glance at Jim as he said the last, but Jim had wandered away to look at Daniel's bookcase and appeared not to have heard the comment.

"So when does all that stuff start?" Blair turned to look back at Daniel again.

"In a couple of days," Daniel replied, keeping half an eye on Jim as he spoke. "You also have to have another very thorough medical from our doctor, so that she knows your normal physiology and an orientation course from yours truly. That will take most of this week. Then you go on a mission next week with SG-1 to help you get used to procedures off world. That's when you'll meet the rest of the team you're joining, SG-8."

Blair nodded agreement. "Okay, man," he said. "So what are you working on right now?"

The sudden shift in conversational topic didn't surprise Daniel. He was used to the way Blair's mind worked and knew the anthropologist would be processing all he had just learned even while listening to Daniel discuss his work. Daniel was looking forward to having Blair around. As much as he loved Jack, it was nice to have someone to talk to who understood what he was talking about and shared his enthusiasm for his work.

The next few days passed by in a whirlwind of activity for Jim and Blair. There was the orientation course, which included a talk from Teal'c on the history of the Goa'uld. Blair was fascinated by that and spent several hours talking to Teal'c, asking questions about Chu'lak, the System Lord hierarchy and symbiotes. Teal'c bore the questions well, glad of an appreciative audience to listen to him talk and liking his open and frank curiosity about things.

The medical, while being thorough, had given Blair an opportunity to discuss Jim's abilities with Doctor Fraiser, someone Blair took to straight away. He gave her a copy of his research notes and they spent a happy afternoon discussing tests and the techniques Blair had taught Jim to help him control his senses. They also spent some time with Jim showing off his abilities, which impressed the doctor, no end.

"This is amazing," was her frequent refrain as Jim patiently endured the demonstrations. At the end of the day, Blair took Jim off for dinner as a thank you for his patience. They went to Gunther Toody's, the closest Colorado Springs had to a Wonderburger.

"This place is great, Chief," Jim commented as they went inside the 50's style diner.

"Glad you like it, man," Blair replied with a grin.

That was their last peaceful interlude for a while. The next day the physical side of their training kicked into high gear. Jim did well on everything, as Blair had assumed he would. Blair didn't do too badly himself, "for a neo-hippie" as he put it to Jim later that night, at home together.

The day of the firearms qualification was the one that Blair was dreading the most. He had been getting some help from both Jim and Daniel, although in the case of the Sentinel, it was more an excuse to feel up his Guide on the sly, so Daniel in fact had been the more helpful of the two.

But Blair was still nervous when it came time for him to actually face Jack and go through his paces. He had refused to let Jim or Daniel come along and share his humiliation, despite their eagerness to be there to give him moral support. Jim had actually bonded with Jack over their trucks, of all things. Jack drove a Ford F150, the same as Jim, although Jack's was newer. The conversation between the two of them in the parking lot had caused both Daniel and Blair to roll their eyes and snigger together at their lovers, but Blair was genuinely pleased that Jim had made a friend. After all, he had the advantage of knowing Daniel already, so Jim needed someone else to share stuff with when they got talking together about anthropology and archaeology.

The SGC had its own private range for new recruits and trainees to practice on. Jack met Blair there bright and early on the last day of the week assigned to orientation for the new recruits. As Blair was the only one who had no real previous experience of guns, he got to have his test by himself. Which had both an advantage and a disadvantage. Sure, it meant no witnesses, but it also meant that he had all of Jack's attention focused on him. And Blair was still by no means sure of where, exactly, he stood with his friend's lover and the second in command of the SGC.

"Ready?" Jack asked briskly, handing Blair the 9mm he was to use first.

"Okay," Blair nodded in reply, following Jack to where he had set up the targets for him to fire at.

After a nervous start, the time flew by, until eventually Jack pronounced them finished.

"You did okay," Jack said, surprising Blair by sounding genuinely impressed with his skills.

"Well, I know I'll never be as good as you or Jim, but I'm committed to doing this as best as I can," Blair assured Jack earnestly.

"You pass," Jack told him, handing Blair his score card. Blair looked down at the card, then up again at Jack.

"Wow! 80%. Thanks, man," he said enthusiastically.

"Don't thank me, you did it yourself," Jack replied.

"Uh, sure," Blair returned, a little surprised by the warmth in the other man's voice. "How about you and Daniel come over to our place for dinner tonight?" he asked impulsively. "It's Friday night, we can celebrate a little."

"I'll check with Daniel, but it should be okay," Jack replied.

"Great," Blair said enthusiastically. "Any time after 6.30 will be fine."

Jack nodded agreement, then waved Blair from the range in front of him. Blair was surprised to find both Daniel and Jim waiting outside for them.

"How'd it go, Chief?" Jim asked as soon as he saw Blair.

"I passed!" Blair held out the card to Jim, a huge grin on his face.

"Well done," Daniel said, patting him on the shoulder.

"I knew you could do it," Jim said, hugging Blair quickly, mindful of their location.

"I suggested to Jack that he and Daniel come over for dinner tonight to celebrate surviving orientation week, what do you think?" Blair asked, looking at Jim a little anxiously, not sure if Jim would have had a private celebration in mind.

"Sounds good, Chief," Jim said, smiling warmly. "You can cook though."

Blair snorted at that. "We'll share, just like always," he said firmly.

"Always," Jim agreed softly, looking into his eyes.

Daniel cleared his throat and they both looked up startled. He grinned. "Do you want us to bring the wine?" he asked.

"Please," Blair nodded. "You always had better taste in wine than me."

"You mean he knows which is the most expensive," Jack corrected, flashing a smirk at Daniel.

"I think your taste in men is better," Daniel said to Blair, ignoring the comment and batting his eyelashes at both Jim and Jack indiscriminately.

They all laughed at that, thankful that there was no one else around to hear the conversation.

"Around 6.30 then," Blair said, turning to look at the others.

"You mean 18:30 don't you, Chief?" Jim pointed out, teasing his lover.

They all nodded agreement, then went their separate ways.

Blair was glad that he had the rest of the day to prepare for dinner. Now that orientation was over, there was nothing for either man to do before SG-1 took them on their first mission the following week. So he went shopping for ingredients and then headed on home to start cooking.

When he got home, Jim was already there, sorting laundry. However, as soon as he saw Blair, he dropped what he was doing and hurried to the door to relieve his partner of some of his packages. Then he gave Blair a proper welcome home and a hug and kiss of congratulation. Blair responded eagerly to the kiss, before eventually breaking free, reluctant but needing to start cooking.

"Let me get the main course in the oven, love, and then I'm all yours," Blair said to Jim's sound of protest as he broke free from the other man.

"I'll hold you to that," Jim grinned down at his guide, then turned back to sorting laundry. As he worked through the pile of clothes, he watched Blair out of the corner of one eye, enjoying watching Blair moving around the kitchen.

Jim smiled to himself, glad that after the dissertation fiasco, Blair had found something he could enjoy doing. Jim thought he might even enjoy it himself, although he had been a little cautious at first about going back into the military. Meeting General Hammond and Major Davis had gone a long way to easing his mind. They had both reassured Jim that he wouldn't become a guinea pig at the hands of the NID. A surprise meeting with the President himself, who was a keen champion of the Stargate program, had also been a big help.

Blair looked over to where his lover was sitting on the couch, now that the laundry had been put in to wash. He grinned at the smile on Jim's face and called out to him.

"What'cha thinking about?" - pleased that Jim looked happy.

"Just remembering that meeting with the President," Jim said.

Blair smiled at that too. He had not been invited to the meeting, but had heard all about it from Jim afterwards. He was pleased that Jim had had his special skills acknowledged at last and a promise that they would only be used for good and not exploited or researched in some way.

He strolled from the kitchen across to Jim, sitting on his lap and straddling the bigger man's thighs.

"So, it's later," he said. "The beef is cooking. The other stuff can wait a few hours. Wanna kill some time, help me celebrate my success today?"

Jim stood up, effortlessly taking Blair's weight as the smaller man wrapped his legs around the Sentinel's waist.

"I can do that," he agreed with a mischievous grin.

"Cool," Blair smiled back and began kissing him enthusiastically as Jim carried him off to bed.

When the doorbell rang on the dot of 6.30 p.m. that evening, Jim was at the door almost immediately to answer it. Although he had been aware that Daniel and Jack had arrived, Blair had persuaded him to allow their guests the chance to actually ring the doorbell first.

"Hi, Jim," Daniel said, smiling at the Sentinel as they came into the house.

"Hi, Daniel, Jack," Jim smiled back, taking their coats and hanging them on the rack.

"Hi," Jack said, nodding at the other man.

"We've brought a couple of things," Daniel said, holding up a bag.

"Blair's in the kitchen." Jim indicated the way and Daniel nodded, taking his package with him.

"Beer?" Jim asked Jack, who nodded.

"Sure," he replied. He followed on Jim's heels to the kitchen, curious about the smells coming from that direction.

"I brought wine and ice cream," Daniel was saying to Blair as he unpacked the bag. Blair picked the bottles up to examine them. "I brought red and white as I wasn't sure what you were cooking," Daniel explained.

"Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon and Beringer Chardonnay," Blair read the labels, then looked up at Daniel.

"These look expensive, Daniel," he said with a small frown.

"Like I said before, Daniel knows all the most expensive ones," Jack said with a grin as he caught the tail end of Blair's comment.

Daniel merely stuck his tongue out at Jack. Jim laughed as he opened the fridge for a beer. Then he reached over Blair's shoulder to look at one of the bottles.

"You are a connoisseur," he commented as he examined the bottle.

Jack raised an eyebrow. "You know wine too?" he asked.

"Jim's dad," Blair started to speak, but Jim cut him off, not wanting to talk about his father with people who were still virtual strangers to him.

"Something I learned growing up," was all he said, flashing a warning look at Blair.

Blair gave a tiny nod of acknowledgement. Daniel broke the awkward silence by taking the last item out of the bag.

"I also brought this," he said, handing the box to Blair.

"Your homemade ice cream?" Blair asked delightedly, cradling the cold Tupperware in his hands.

"Yeah," Daniel nodded, a faint blush on his cheeks. "I remembered how much you liked it in college and thought it might be okay for dessert."

Blair hugged Daniel enthusiastically. "That's great!" he said. "I had some stuff that I bought from that place on Pike's Peak Avenue, but this will go way better with the shortbread." He carefully put the box into the freezer so that it stayed cold until required.

"So what exactly are we having?" Jack asked. "It smells great."

"Um, the starter is proscuitto and brie calzone with apple, red wine braised beef shanks with mushrooms, basil mashed potatoes, sauted fennel and leeks for the main course and lemon shortbread with macerated blueberries and Daniel's ice cream for dessert," Blair recited, looking anxiously from one face to the other.

"Wow, that must have taken hours to prepare," Jack commented.

"Blair's a bit of a chef," Jim said with pride.

"Something else he and Daniel have in common then," Jack said.

"It was Blair who got me into cooking, actually," Daniel offered as they went to sit in the lounge until dinner was ready.

"Do tell," Jack asked, lapping up any chance to learn more about Daniel's past.

Blair laughed and started to tell the story.

The rest of the evening went more smoothly after that, with the four men exchanging wild stories over dinner, talking about cases and missions as well as their college years.

Eventually, dinner was over, though. They went back into the lounge, with the last of the wine and coffee.

"Just a second," Blair said, going to a cupboard in the corner. He returned with a bottle of Scotch.

"This is good stuff," Jack said, looking at the bottle in Blair's hand.

Blair smiled. "One of the things that I learned from one of my mom's boyfriends," he explained. "He owned a cigar store in New Orleans and loved nothing more than a fine cigar and the best Scotch after dinner. The cigars I never understood, but the Scotch he taught me about."

"How old were you?" Jim asked, curious. It was a story that Blair hadn't mentioned before.

"Fifteen," Blair admitted with a chuckle. "Andrew never allowed me more than a sip of any of them, but he told me all about the distilling process and ageing methods. It was fascinating stuff."

Jack nodded in agreement. "I know what you mean. My dad taught me about Scotch when I was about fifteen too. I loved it. What about you, Jim?"

Jim looked uncomfortable. "My dad didn't teach me much of anything," he muttered. "I always preferred beer."

There was a brief silence again. "Why don't we catch the end of the game?" Blair suggested, picking up the TV remote.

Daniel groaned. "Not you too!" he complained.

Blair chuckled. "Don't tell me you still hate sports," he teased. "Haven't you taught him anything in the last few years, Jack?"

"Oh, I've tried," Jack said with a grin. "Believe me, I've tried. But he just won't listen. He still won't go fishing with me either."

"You go fishing?" Jim asked, looking at Jack.

"I've got a cabin in Minnesota," Jack replied, nodding. "Five years and Daniel still refuses to go with me, though."

"That's terrible, Daniel," Blair said.

"Yeah, well, there's no fish there anyway," Daniel said, defending himself staunchly.

"Don't say that, Daniel," Jack protested. "Anyway, it's not the fish per se-"

"It's the act of fishing," Daniel finished for him. "Change the tune, Jack, I know that one already."

Blair and Jim laughed at the two of them, recognizing this for the old argument that it obviously was between them. After a while, they settled down again, turning their attention to the game.

Blair went to the bathroom then fetched some more coffee. He was feeling pleasantly buzzed by the good food and wine that they'd consumed as well as the glass of Scotch that he'd drunk. He found Jim sat in one corner of the couch and moved to straddle his lap.

"Blair!" Jim hissed as Blair started to run a hand across his chest.

"What?" Blair asked softly, leaning down to lick Jim's ear delicately.

"We have guests," Jim pointed out in a strangled whisper.

Blair flicked a glance across to the other couch, which was occupied by Jack and Daniel.

"I don't think they've noticed," he said so softly even Jim, with his Sentinel hearing, could barely make out what he was saying. He peered round Blair, who was now running his fingers through Jim's hair, massaging the scalp gently as he did so.

Daniel was stretched out on the couch, feet in Jack's lap. Jack was holding one foot in his hand, caressing it in a way that was much more than an ordinary foot massage. The two men were looking at each other in a way that suggested they had forgotten where they were or that the rest of the universe even existed.

Jim looked back at Blair, who had a serene smile on his face.

"I'm glad they feel that comfortable around us," he said softly to Jim. He felt Jim's arms come around him to caress his ass.

"Even so, let's go find someplace a bit more private, huh, Chief?" Jim suggested, his voice just as quiet as Blair's had been.

Blair purred a bit at that. "I'm down with that," he whispered eagerly in Jim's ear, then slithered backwards off of Jim and on to his feet, pulling Jim upright with him.

The movement caught Jack's eyes and he looked up.

"We're going to bed," Blair announced.

"Oh, we should go," Jack said. "I'm sorry, guess we hadn't realized how late it was."

"Not that late," Jim smiled. "You can stay and use the guest room if you want."

He smiled at Blair, aware that his lover was surprised by his offer.

"Well, I guess we have had quite a bit to drink," Jack agreed. "If you're sure you don't mind?"

"No man, it's cool," Blair said. "The bed's freshly made and there are towels in the guest bathroom if you want to use the shower."

"Okay, thanks," Jack said. Daniel twisted round so he could see his friends.

"Thanks," he said with a smile.

"No problem," Jim assured him. "The room's first on your left at the top of the stairs, the bathroom's en suite."

Daniel nodded in understanding and turned back to Jack.

"Night then," Blair said with a grin, noticing that the others were again gazing into each other's eyes. He wondered if he and Jim looked that sappy when they were looking at each other. 'Probably,' he admitted to himself. That was what being in love did to you.

Jim's hand on his back urged him from the room and remained there all the way up the stairs and into their bedroom, which was at the opposite end of the hall to the guest room that Jim had assigned to their guests. There was another room in between the two, but Jim had felt it was only fair to put a bit of distance between the four of them, to allow for greater privacy. They were still going to have to be quieter than normal though.

Once in the bedroom, Jim turned to Blair and pulled him in for a long, slow kiss. Moving further into the room, they slowly undressed each other, exchanging kisses the whole time, enjoying prolonging the foreplay for as long as possible, knowing it would make the end result more powerful and earth shattering.

Jack looked at Daniel, who had the foot not currently being massaged by Jack pressed into Jack's crotch, rubbing suggestively.

"Why don't we go to bed?" he suggested. "It'll be more comfortable."

Daniel smiled a slow, sultry smile. "Okay," he agreed. "But only because I think Blair would kill us if we ruined his and Ellison's couch."

Jack grinned back and took one of Daniel's hands to pull him upright. "You're scared of Blair but not Jim?" he asked.

"Jim's a pussycat, like you," Daniel informed his lover with a wicked grin. "Blair, on the other hand, is a wolf. Him I'm scared of."

Jack grinned again, not bothered by the characterization. He knew that Daniel had him wrapped round his little finger and cared not a jot. In fact he liked it, enjoyed indulging his lover, giving what he wanted whenever he could. He pulled Daniel towards him for a kiss, making it a sweet, tender exploration of his lover's mouth. Then he led the way up the stairs, keeping his and Daniel's fingers entwined the whole way.

Jim vaguely heard Jack and Daniel coming up the stairs, but was concentrating on what Blair was doing so managed to tune them out. Voyeurism was not his thing. Besides, he didn't need the extra company in bed - Blair was more than enough for him to handle, without worrying about what his friends were up to, which was likely to be little different from what he and Blair were doing right now.

Just then Blair licked one of his nipples and Jim stopped caring or noticing anyway. He gave his senses over totally to Blair and what his Guide was doing to his body. He arched into the warm touch of the mouth on his skin and moaned softly in the back of his throat.

Blair grinned against his lover's chest. It still thrilled him that Jim was so responsive to him, letting down his guard so completely in bed. It was a gift that he cherished as he worshipped his lover's body, kissing, licking, nibbling the flesh, lavishing attention on all of Jim's erogenous zones, making the other man writhe on the bed.

Jim pulled a pillow over his face to muffle the noises he couldn't stop himself from making. He never used to be this noisy in bed before but Blair brought it out in him, in more than one way.

Blair moved his way down to Jim's cock and finally took it into his mouth, at the same time teasing at Jim's ass with a lubed finger.

"Blaaair," Jim moaned, thrashing his head on the pillow, clenching the sheets tightly.

Blair hummed and smiled in appreciation as he worked on bringing Jim to climax, sucking, licking, teasing and tormenting just the way he knew the Sentinel liked it. At the same time first one, then two fingers worked into Jim, opening and preparing him. When Blair sensed that Jim was about ready to climax, he finally scraped his fingers across Jim's prostate.

The pillow he still had muffling his face thankfully swallowed Jim's scream. Blair swallowed smugly, pleased that he had again fried his Sentinel's circuits. Finally, he crawled back up Jim's body to kiss him and soothe him through the continued aftershocks of his orgasm.

Jim slowly came back down to earth, shuddering and trembling in the warm circle of Blair's arms.

"All right, love?" Blair asked, running his fingers through Jim's hair and kissing his chin at the same time.

Jim kissed Blair. "Better than all right, as always," he said.

"Good," Blair replied in satisfaction.

"What about you?" Jim asked, feeling Blair's erection against his hip.

Blair drew idle patterns across Jim's chest. "Oh, you noticed that, did you?" he asked coyly.

Jim snorted with laughter. "I could hardly fail to notice," he said, rolling onto his side and pulling Blair into him. "Make love to me?" he offered gravely.

"I thought I just did that," Blair said.

"You know what I mean," Jim said softly.

"Are you sure you want to when Jack and Daniel are here?" Blair asked doubtfully.

Jim laughed again. "What difference does that make?" he asked reasonably. "Especially after what we just did."

"You know how noisy I get," Blair muttered, slightly embarrassed.

Jim grinned at him. "I'm sure we can find a way around that," he said, raising an eyebrow.

"James Joseph Ellison, you are not gagging me!" Blair tried to pull away, but Jim resisted his efforts.

"That wasn't what I had in mind," Jim said. He knew that after all the times that he had been kidnapped and tied up, going right back to Lee Brackett in their early days as partners, Blair had a phobia about being restrained in any way.

Jim rolled on to his back and sat against the headboard, sighing. He had ruined the mood now and was angry with himself for upsetting Blair.

"I'm sorry," he said, fingers playing with Blair's curls.

"No, I'm sorry, man," Blair said. "I'm kinda killing the mood here." He snuggled into Jim's side.

"Oh, I think I did that just fine, myself," Jim said with another sigh. Blair smiled up at him. "Let's not argue who's to blame," he said. He reached across and kissed Jim. "Let's just work on getting the mood back," he suggested.

Jim mumbled something that might have been an agreement and gave himself over to kissing Blair, concentrating all his senses on the task again. When he felt Blair starting to respond more aggressively, he purposely gentled things, wanting to keep things relaxed and fun. He started to tickle Blair, running his fingers lightly over the other man's ribcage, enjoying the feeling of Blair squirming agitatedly against him, whilst still refusing to surrender the kiss before he was ready.

When he did finally break free to allow Blair to recover his breath, he delighted in the sight of his Guide. Blair's lips were kiss swollen and red, his curls a veritable riot, making him look completely debauched. He scrabbled around in the sheets for the lube and eventually found it. He kept Blair's attention focused on him as he prepared himself, already slick from the earlier teasing Blair had given him.

Blair watched breathlessly, in awe of the sight of Jim so focused on him and their mutual pleasure. He was hard and aching, more than ready to plunge into Jim and nail him to the mattress. He took the lube from unresisting fingers and carefully slicked himself up.

Jim opened his legs to Blair, inviting him in and Blair moved between the spread legs. He positioned himself carefully, lifting Jim's legs over his shoulders and finally moved forward to penetrate his lover. He eased his way forward slowly and carefully, moaning low in his throat as he did so.

Once he was fully sheathed inside, they both paused, panting for breath. Jim reached forward and took Blair's mouth in a savage, hard kiss, rolling his hips at the same time. Blair wrenched his mouth free and bit down on the pillow to stop himself from screaming in pleasure. Taking the hint from Jim, he started a slow, leisurely glide of thrusts in and out.

Jim maintained the kissing the whole time, only pausing briefly every now and then to allow them to catch their breath. He enjoyed the sight of Blair abandoning himself to his pleasure.

Blair changed his angle slightly, allowing him to find Jim's prostate on the next thrust forward. At the same time, he took Jim's renewed erection in hand and began to pump it in time to his thrusts.

Slowly but inevitably they built to climax. Blair eventually wrenched free of the latest kiss, throwing his head back as he came powerfully, bringing Jim over the edge with him as he did so.

Finally, Blair collapsed forward across Jim's chest, his limbs unable to bear his weight any longer. He eased Jim's legs down then lay, sides heaving as he fought for breath, feeling Jim's heart thundering underneath him and the slickness of their sweaty skins moving against each other as they fought to recover.

When their breathing finally slowed back to normal, Blair eased himself free of Jim and staggered to the bathroom to clean up, Jim following along a second later to do the same. Then they headed back to bed, Jim's arm around Blair's waist, Blair's head on his shoulder. They snuggled into bed together, arms and legs entwined, sharing a final kiss and declarations of love as they fell asleep together.

Once they reached the guest bedroom, Jack and Daniel paused inside the door to admire the room. It was decorated in a way that reflected the varied and catholic tastes of both Jim and Blair but in such a way that it didn't look strange, but instead was pleasing to the eye.

"Shower first?" Daniel suggested.

"Share or not?" Jack countered.

"Definitely shared," Daniel said decisively. "Conserves water that way." There was a wicked glint in his eye as he said it, which Jack knew only too well.

"Yeasureyoubetcha!" Jack said, knowing how much Daniel hated that particular statement.

This time however, Daniel merely rolled his eyes, used to Jack's behavior and in too good a mood to start an argument, even if it did tend to lead to spectacular make up sex. He was conscious of the fact that not only were they in a friend's house rather than at home, but that Jim's Sentinel senses would surely detect any noise they made even if he was probably currently otherwise occupied with Blair. Hopefully the shower would mask any noise they made.

Jack moved forward to kiss Daniel, not liking the distracted look in his lover's eyes when he was supposed to be thinking about Jack and wet, slippery sex. And yes, he did know just how selfish and shallow that made him, but what the hell, he was a guy after all. It was not only allowed, it was expected that he would be obsessive, possessive and jealous when it came to sex with his hot young lover.

Jack kissed Daniel aggressively, moving forward to grind his hips suggestively against Daniel's as he did so. Daniel's arms went around Jack and pulled him closer, doing some rubbing of his own at the same time as he returned the kiss wholeheartedly, thrusting his tongue into Jack's mouth and reaching for his tonsils as he did so.

It was Jack who broke away first, panting hard, pulling at Daniel's clothing.

"Skin now, Daniel," he said in his best command voice.

For once, Daniel responded promptly to an order. But not in the way Jack had expected. Instead, he started undressing Jack rather than removing his own clothes, at the same time backing him towards the bathroom.

By the time they collided with the doorframe, they were both shirtless and shoeless. They paused to impatiently rip the rest of their clothes free, leaving them in a jumbled heap on the floor.

Jack pulled Daniel to him for another kiss, but Daniel slipped free, going to start the shower instead. Jack muttered an obscenity that Daniel chose to ignore. Once the water was running, Daniel pulled the colonel into the shower with him and gave him the kiss he had been trying to get earlier, with interest. Then he took the soap and started washing Jack, making it into a sensual and erotic massage, rather than the mundane cleansing Jack's showers usually were.

Jack sighed and went with the flow. When his linguist was in take charge mode, it was pointless trying to divert him. Not that he was exactly upset by the turn of events anyway. Daniel in charge pressed all kinds of buttons for him as well as being downright hot and steamy, rather like the shower experience he was currently enjoying.

When he was satisfied that Jack was clean, Daniel went on to wash his hair as well. By the time he was done, Jack was boneless with contentment; apart from his rock hard erection. Jack watched with half-closed eyes as Daniel then used the soap to wash himself, avoiding Jack's attempts to do it for him.

"Let me, Jack," he murmured, so Jack acquiesced. Daniel washed himself slowly, putting on a show for his lover as he did so. He played with his nipples, bringing them to attention and moved his hands slowly down his body, teasing himself with a light touch. His erection he ignored completely.

When he had finished with his front and legs, Daniel held out the soap and turned his back to Jack. Jack took the hint and the soap and washed Daniel's back for him. He enjoyed running his soap-slick hands down Daniel's back to cup his ass suggestively.

Daniel moaned breathily and pushed back against Jack slightly.

"Prepare me for you, Jack," he whispered.

Jack moaned and shuddered at the invitation. He needed no second bidding. He took the soap and used it to clean around Daniel's ass, working up a lather which allowed him to slip a finger inside of Daniel. Then he allowed the soap to wash away and carefully went to his knees behind Daniel.

He used his tongue to lick at the cleft, easing it open enough to take his fingers. He took his time, wanting to make it enjoyable for Daniel. Daniel rested his hands against the wall of the shower, allowing the tiles to take and support his weight as he reacted to what Jack was doing to him.

Jack took Daniel's erection in one hand, pumping slowly as he used the other to loosen Daniel still further. Eventually he was satisfied that Daniel was ready so he got to his feet again.

"Ready, Daniel?" he asked his breath tickling his lover's ear as he asked the question.

Daniel groaned and nodded agreement so Jack slowly eased his way inside of the hot passage of his lover, not stopping until he was fully inside. Once there, he rested briefly before starting the familiar rhythm of thrusts, one hand on a hip while the other again went to Daniel's cock, pumping it in time with his thrusts inside.

The pace quickly became hard and fast, as they fought to reach climax together, Jack striking Daniel's prostate repeatedly even as he encouraged Daniel's orgasm forward with his hand.

Eventually whiteout came as they hit the peak almost simultaneously. Jack rested against Daniel's back as they shuddered through the release together, the now lukewarm water continuing to play over them, washing away the evidence of their lovemaking.

When they had recovered, Jack slipped free from Daniel, who promptly turned in his arms to claim a bruising kiss.

"Thank you," Daniel said when he eventually paused for breath.

"I love you," Jack replied. "It was my pleasure."

Daniel chuckled tiredly. "It was both our pleasure," he responded. "Now what do you say to going to bed?"

"Sounds good to me," Jack replied, so they stepped from the shower, toweling off briefly before settling in to bed together, spooned up closely, both of them falling asleep almost immediately.

Many thanks to Xochi and The Alpha Gate archive for corrected formatting