Joy's Fiction Stargate SG-1 Slash Fanfiction

Trilogy 12

T


Trilogy 12: Temet Nosce

Part 2 of 2

Note: Please forgive the sappy and hokey song inclusion near the end of the story.
Words: 53,582
Warning: There is a brief bit of het involving Talen, Jalen, and some anonymous others.


For the billionth time, Stuart regretted saying yes to dinner.  Now that it was over, the tension in his shoulders and neck was just beginning to lessen.  The only saving grace of the evening had been Alex.  He’d been the only one not to tease, not to push.  As the night wore on, it had started to become an engagement of tomfoolery by the others.  He couldn’t make up his mind which of the bastards he worked with was going to die first.  There was merit in getting rid of Jack.  Cut off the head of the snake and the body dies.  Problem was, there were times where Daniel was the head of the snake.

What was with this almost parental need to involve him in a conversation with Adriann?  Sometimes, you just didn’t get on with people.  Why in God’s name couldn’t they simply accept that?

Jason was just as bad.  Sam wasn’t so much in on it, but she was in their camp, as the saying went.  Teal’c?  Well, he was pragmatic.  He’d want Stuart to accept Adriann as a matter of decorum, honor, and ease of relations, though Teal’c tended to look at it more broadly sometimes: whatever the team liked, everyone else should like, too–or at least not broadcast that they didn’t.

Stuart understood the logic, and he understood why his reticence bothered the others.  It bothered him, too, because he just didn’t understand why this one alien out of all the others he’d come across since joining the SGC had rubbed him the wrong way.  It made no sense.  Some of the other aliens had been a hell of a lot more threatening than Adriann and his sister.

So was it just because they were …  vampires?

Even the word made Stuart cringe.  For some bizarre reason that was probably centered in his childhood, he couldn’t accept the reality of “vampire”.  It was like meeting a real werewolf (and frankly, Jalen’s eyes were beginning to creep him out).  Who the hell would relax around someone who could grow their canines and rip your throat out on a whim?

The only solution to this nonsense was a mission.  He would then see how they behaved under stress.  Professionalism always calmed his judgment, and in the field, during a crisis, finding out whether you could trust someone worked very fast.  It was simply a matter of ass-saving.

Right now, the domestic angle wasn’t cutting it.  No one ever showed anything truthful over dinner except table manners and political disposition.  This was the slow, uncomfortable, unreliable version of trust-building and he hated it.  Why the hell did he need to get to know Adriann and his family?  It wasn’t like they were part of the SGC.  They were off-world allies.  So what if Daniel was sleeping with the leader.  Did he have to have positive reinforcement from his friends and co-workers?  It was as if he was looking for validation or something.

Thankfully, Stuart had only one more day with this nonsense before heading home for Christmas.  Hopefully, Jack wouldn’t pull any crap during the party tomorrow.

 

.  .

 

“You could have tried harder,” Alex remarked as he drove Stuart home.  The amused smirk he’d worn all night hadn’t left.  He knew it was rude but couldn’t seem to lose it.  It was ridiculous, watching Stuart purposely refuse to make an effort to be friends with Adriann and Talen.  He was civil and friendly, but beyond that, he was quite obviously distrustful and suspicious, and Alex decided he’d make it his mission to find out what the problem was.

“Leave off, Alex,” Stuart sighed, staring out of the car’s window.

“Until we all know what the problem is, you’re not getting off easy.”

Sidestepping, Stuart answered, “Jack’s entitled to ask questions.  He’s our leader and their envoy.”

“But your attitude makes no sense.  Adriann and Talen aren’t any different than the other aliens we’ve come across.”

Stuart sighed more loudly and closed his eyes.  “They are and they aren’t.”

“What is it?  It can’t be that they’re real-life vampires.  Or is it?”

Stuart’s mouth twisted.  “It is.  And no, I have no fucking idea why.”

“Maybe it’s Adriann’s constant flirting.”

Stuart looked over to find that idiotic smirk still plastered on Alex’s face.  “If you don’t get rid of that look on your face, you can let me off here and I’ll walk home.”

Alex wasn’t put off by the threat because they were almost at their apartment complex.  “What are you afraid of?  That he’ll kiss you?  Or kiss you in front of others?”

Stuart’s answer was a growl deep in his throat.  “We’re not talking about this anymore.  Find another subject.”

That was the cue to back off, and Alex knew that to tease further would cause an argument.  He was tempted to ignore it, to see if maybe an argument would arouse Stuart enough to talk more about what bothered him, but there was a greater chance that he’d get pissed off instead.

Tomorrow, he’d have to tread just a little more carefully, which would be difficult.  Stuart hated tip-toeing around a subject, but his behavior was forcing Alex to go there.  So, buttons had to be pushed.  The day after tomorrow, Stuart would take off for two weeks and Alex didn’t want him leaving with a rift between them, so the buttons had to be the right ones.

So no teasing about Adriann.  Maybe.

 

.  .

 

On the way to Jason’s, Jack mused over a comment Daniel had made during dinner.  Waiting till he joined Jason and Jalen in the elevator that led to the loft, he asked, “So what was that Daniel said about twins?” Both Jalen and Jason cleared their throats, recalling memories they’d just as soon forget.  The only problem was the look on Jack’s face.  A very dirty smirk.

“Look you,” Jason warned as they exited the elevator and stepped into the loft apartment.  “I’ll indulge you in anything else, but this is one subject you need to drop.”

“What?  A guy can fantasize,” Jack replied, heading to the open kitchen to fetch the beers.  He knew better than to tease, but sometimes difficult memories needed a bit of levity to take the sting out of them.  The past could be so damn tricky and dangerous.  “Come on, Jason.  You know how fantasies can be used to heal anything reality throws at you.”

Uncomfortable and fuming, Jason turned on his heel and went over to the living room sofa, followed by his brother.  “I’m gonna kill him.”

“Jack or Daniel?” Jalen asked, plopping down next to him.  Like Jason, the idea that Jack was even playing with the subject made him squirm uneasily, but unlike his twin, he could throw a humor blanket over it because he knew Jack wasn’t serious.  Not completely.

When Jack walked over with three beers, Jason took one.  “Both,” he answered his brother.  “If Jack doesn’t get that look off his face.”

Jack snorted and handed Jalen his beer.  “Relax, drama queen.” He sat down on the opposite sofa and took a sip from his own bottle.  “Put the shoe on the other foot, then try and stay mad.”

Jason and his brother pictured two Daniels and two Jacks but all that did was increase the awkward tension that now permeated the room.  “I’m not mad,” Jason told him.  “Just stop fucking around.  You know it’s never gonna happen.”

Jack rolled his eyes and sat forward.  “No.  But I think you should lighten up.”

Jalen had already dismissed the twins notion, and was instead feeling perversely flattered that Jack wouldn’t mind having sex with him.  Images flooded his mind and the resulting ardor made him feel mischievous.  “Here’s a compromise.  Jason could always leave us alone for a while.” When Jack’s eyes widened–and Jason rolled his–Jalen laughed and stood up.  Handing his beer to his brother, he gave him a telling grin as he walked around the sofa.  “Time for me to head out.”

With a mixture of relief and worry, Jason dug his keys out of his pocket and tossed them over.  “Just remember to lock up the truck.” He pointed at the far corner of the open apartment, where a new bed had been sitting for a few weeks.  “And try to be quiet when you come in.”

He gave both men a quick, assessing look.  “If it’s okay with you, I’ll just get a room at the Howard Johnson’s.” Before Jack and Jason could protest at his staying out all night, he held up a hand.  “I’ll behave, I promise.” When they surprised him by not arguing, he felt a satisfied boon of victory.  “I’ll take that as a yes.”

“Have enough money?” Jason asked.

“I’m fine,” Jalen said, and with a wink at Jack, he headed for the elevator.

Jason expected the fun to begin right away, or for Jack to keep teasing, but instead, Jack leveled him with a questioning, and slightly concerned, look.  “Have you been letting stay out all night?”

Jason gave Jack an apologetic look as he got up, walked around the coffee table, and held out his hand.  “He’s from Earth, Jack.  He won’t get noticed and knows how to behave.”

Jack sighed as he took Jason’s hand and stood up.  “One half of him does.  What about the other half?”

Jason shook his head and led Jack out of the living room, heading toward the raised bedroom area.  “We’re gonna stop talking about him now.”

Jack halted halfway there and pulled Jason against him, turning him in his arms.  Before he could say a word, Jason silenced him with fingers while his other hand reached down to firmly rub over his lover’s growing erection.  “I’m thinking Warden and Inmate.  What about you?”

Jack’s dick jumped eagerly at the thought.  They hadn’t done this in a while, and he was more than ready for it.  Leaning into his lover’s hand, he rubbed indulgently before he suddenly shoved him back and spun him around.  Fingers clamped on a shoulder, he marched his convict toward the bed, growling, “Hands behind your head.  You’re out of bounds without a guard.  You know what this means.”

“Yes, sir,” Jason replied as his dick began to swell.  His breathing turned shallow by the time they reached the bed and he grunted with want as his jeans and briefs were unceremoniously yanked down.  With his fingers laced tightly behind his head, he closed his eyes and fell blissfully into his role as Jack pushed his cock between his cheeks and sank deeply into his waiting body.  This would be the first of many times, and not just below the waist.

The Inmate did what he was told.  During each fuck, he said everything the Warden told him to, whatever he wanted to hear.  When he was at last forced onto hands and knees, the Warden allowed him to take his cock in hand.  Stroking with keen and rapid relief, the Inmate was pounded into happy submission, ass cheeks numb and balls hot and vibrating.  Warm, sticky come spilled over his hand, onto the bed, while inside him, the Warden’s cock swelled.

Shoving the Inmate into the mattress, the Warden left finger-shaped bruises as his climax took over.  He was heavy, but the Inmate didn’t care.  He loved the weight of him.  Kisses came then, rewarding him, promising more to come.  Though the Inmate was spent and tired, he could never say no.  The Warden was very good at his job.

 

.  .

 

Jalen pulled over to the side of the road and parked behind a familiar large, black Ford king cab.  He looked across the street at the small bar and smiled.  The bass from the music drummed through the walls and a mixture of laughter and anger filtered through the front door and open windows.  The place was jumping tonight.  He waited patiently, stroking his cock through his jeans.  He hoped that the chosen one inside would come out soon, but sometimes the anticipation that built was a good thing because it added to the roughness and savagery.

A little over an hour later, Jalen’s prey–as he preferred to call him–appeared.  Tall, with short, thinning hair.  A Good Old Boy in shit-kicker boots and western shirt, drunk and whooping it up with his friends.  After five minutes of jackass boasting and locker room rudeness, they split up, and Jalen’s target crossed the street, heading unsteadily toward his truck.

Jalen propped his arm on the opened window.  “You shouldn’t be driving in that state,” he said in his most friendly tone.

“You should keep your trap shut and mind your own business,” said the prey as he halted a few feet from his ride.

“Wouldn’t want you to get a ticket, that’s all.  Cops are out in force tonight.”

The prey grunted, and Jalen knew he was likely remembering that this was a holiday week.  The cops statement would make sense somewhere in the alcohol-addled brain.

“You offering me a ride, friend?” asked the prey.

Jalen smiled, and warning flecks of gold appeared around the grey and brown of his eyes.  “It’s no trouble.  I’m just taking off myself.”

The man squinted, taking a few wobbly steps toward him.  There was a hint of recognition through the cloud of booze and beer.  “I don’t remember seeing you inside.”

“I wasn’t in long.  Just stopped in for a glass.” Jalen wished the repartee wasn’t necessary, but he got off on it nonetheless.  The thrill of the hunt.

The drunken fool waved his arm in the air.  “What the hell,” he said, and used a hand on the hood of the truck to steady himself as he walked around.

After the prey got in and slammed the door shut, Jalen’s dick twitched, and his nipples went hard.  Under his upper lip, his canines grew, then retracted, and he swallowed the saliva that welled in his mouth.  Starting up the truck, he headed off down the road.

“Straight home?” he asked after a long minute’s silence.

The prey had his head down, appearing to nod off, but Jalen knew he was thinking it over.  He grunted finally and fidgeted in his seat.  Pointing to their left, he finally said, “Behind there.”

Pulling down an alley that flanked an old lumber mill, Jalen threw the truck in park, turned off the engine, and reached down between his legs to push the bench seat back.  It would give him the room, though he was fully prepared to take this outside.  The prey sat unmoving, ultra-sensitive to the sounds of Jalen turning and shoving his jeans down around his ankles.

Back against the door, with one arm draped over the steering wheel and the other over the back of the seat, Jalen spread his bent knees wide and waved his thick erection at his prey.  “Come get it, you fucking closet case,” he ordered, the derisive tone filling the cab.

This wasn’t the part he enjoyed all that much.  The prey was exceptionally inept at sucking cock, but it relaxed him, made him eager for everything else.  And Jalen liked watching the shame and humiliation and outright want that crossed the face of this homophobic bitch.  He was sucking cock.  His cock.  The prey knew what would happen next and he practically trembled at the thought of having Jalen’s cock rammed up his ass.

What was particularly worthy of this little sexual get-together was that it was almost always like the first time–though nothing could compare to the very first surprised and fearful grunt and gasp.

Pulling away, and out of that sloppy mouth, Jalen waited as the drunken shithead dropped his drawers and turned, knees on the bench, upper body bent over the open window.  He’d always grabbed at the hand-holds, and the ones in the drunk’s own truck were nearly ripped out from the repeated weighty use.

Condom on, minimal lube applied, Jalen grabbed his hips and slid into his ass.  The sucking-air gasp from the prey was always first.  Then came continual grunts and moans with each slow, hard thrust, and spiced throughout was the begging for more.

“Take it bitch,” Jalen growled, and issued further derogatory names as his rhythm and force increased.  He dug his fingers deep, leaving new bruises, and when the prey’s ass tightened and he came, Jalen yanked him back inside, pulled him against him, and sank his teeth deeply into his neck.  The blood was hot, delicious, and there was always a moment when Jalen would be tempted to kill him.

But that never happened.  He was always rational, always aware.  How else was he to enjoy each and every moment?

He loved it at the end, when the prey came again, filled with guilt and anger, screaming, “Fuck you!” He’d whimper and whine after that, because the taking of blood would end and the fucking would stop.  Hours later.

Jalen would always take him back to his truck when the night was finally over.  Like he did now.  This was second best, this part.  Watching the prey pretend nothing had happened, even though he’d always say he was sorry.  Always ask for forgiveness.

Because the best part of it all?  The prey thought he was Jason.

In a few weeks, Jalen would leave and go back to Bel’a’lat.  But that wouldn’t end this ritual.  One day, he’d let Carlson the Killer go, release him from this form of penance, forgive him the nearly thirty-year old crime of hate.  But the real forgiveness couldn’t come from him, and Jason would never give it.

He thought of the discussion he’d had during the Shak’lo sparring with his twin, and regretted lying to him.  He’d put on an act, pretending that he’d wanted nothing more than to murder the hateful bastard.  But in truth, he didn’t.  He wanted the bastard to pay for what he’d done to Jason and his lover all those years ago.  And there were better ways to make someone pay than to inflict physical suffering.

It might not be wise, interpreting Adriann’s Ah’na’ta’hen this way, but Jalen was not Adriann, not Daniel, and definitely not Jason.  This brand of justice was satisfying.  And it was working.

 

.  .

 

Drumming his fingers on the steering wheel, Jalen drove around with what seemed like aimless direction, but twenty minutes later, he parked in the lot of a nightclub.  Getting out, he’d only just shut the door when he was surprised by the swift movement of shadow and a presence coming up behind him.  Though he’d already begun to spin about in response, he already knew who it was.

Smirking, he said, “Do Sam and Teal’c know you’ve escaped your leash?”

“I am out for what they call a walk in the night air,” Talen smiled.

Jalen’s smirk turned to a knowing smile as he leaned against the door of Jason’s truck and crossed his arms.  “Some walk.”

Talen took up a post beside him and lazily looked at the clear but cold night sky.  “Unlike you, it didn’t take me long to get here.”

Momentarily ignoring the tease, he said, “And you’ve been here the whole time?” She just smiled.  “How many?”

Her smiled broadened, showing just a sharper bit of canine.  “More than you.”

Jalen snorted and elbowed her.  “I did my task for the night.  Not nearly as enjoyable as yours, I’m sure.”

She made a doubtful face.  “Maybe.  It was need, and there was some enjoyment, but I don’t have the time or place to do a proper hunt and seduction.”

Jalen rolled his eyes.  “Find one who lives alone and take him there.  That’s all you need.” When she crossed her arms and sighed, eyes still on the stars, he added, “Or don’t you trust yourself?”

“I trust myself fine,” she said irritably.  “It’s these contact lenses I don’t like.  I don’t feel like myself.” Looking at him, into his eyes, she lifted her chin.  “You don’t have to worry about that.”

“Then take the contacts out when you get to their home,” Jalen said, gesturing a direction randomly.  “You can always glamour them into thinking your eye color is normal.”

“Please do not use that word,” she said, wrinkling her nose.

“What word?”

“Glamour.  That is an Earth word.  Does not apply to us.”

He leaned into her, pushing her with his arm.  “Sorry, but it’ll have to do.  You don’t have a word for what you do.”

Sash’el Nah’t Tee.”

“An Earth word,” he said, laughing at her, knowing full well that she’d known what he meant.

Their teasing conversation was interrupted by the closing of a car door and an alarm system engaged.  As two men and one woman passed them, heading for the awning-covered entrance to the club, Talen cocked her head, listening.  Leaning into Jalen conspiratorially, she whispered, “I believe the night may not have been wasted.”

Jalen nodded, his gaze fixed on the new arrivals.  He looked at his watch.  “It’s nearly midnight.  We only have a few hours.”

She smiled mischievously at him.  “You do like to play with them, don’t you?”

He laughed again and pushed off the truck.  Taking her hand, he equaled her smile.  “I wonder who I learned that from?”

 

.  .

 

The drive to Daniel’s was silent; Adriann kept his observations on the now-dark surroundings to himself, and for that, Daniel was thankful.  He wasn’t in any mood for small talk and neither was Adriann.  When they finally arrived home, Daniel didn’t need his empathy or the telepathic link to know that Adriann was as excited as he was.

Inside the house, Daniel waved indirectly.  “Have a look around.  I’ll just set your bag in the bedroom.” He’d bought his friend a large shoulder bag while they’d been in the mall, figuring he could use it to take home all the new clothes, plus he’d have it for any future visits.  Setting it on the bed, he rubbed his hands along his trousers, realizing they were damp.  He was nervous, anxious.  How long had it been?  Eighteen months?

He half expected Adriann to be standing behind him when he turned around, but no one was there.  Perversely, Daniel didn’t know whether or not to be disappointed.  On the one hand, he wanted to skip the brief tour, any extended foreplay, and go straight to the sex.  On the other, he wanted to drag this out.

Daniel headed back to the living room and found Adriann there.  He was looking at the DVDs Daniel had set on the coffee table.  Adriann had one boxset in his hand and looked over as Daniel approached.  “These are the films you told me about?”

Daniel walked over, offering a grin.  “Sam got them for me for my birthday,” he said, then bent over and plucked out a video case from the stack and showed him the cover.  “You were so taken with the pirates you saw in my mind, I figured it would be a treat for you to see the entire series.”

Adriann stared at the pictures on the cover and his lips twitched with amusement.  “I would indeed.  But …” He held up the boxset, showing Daniel the cover, which depicted two overlapping pictures of a dark-haired man.  In one, he looked like every other human.  In the other, he had white eyes and vampire fangs.  “Who is this?”

Daniel smiled with mischief.  “One example of our modern vampire.” He paused when Adriann frowned a little, but in disapproval or confusion, he couldn’t tell.  Adriann was blocking his feelings from him.  “You’ve told me that you wanted to see where our vampire attitudes came from.  I figured I’d show you the good and bad.  Are you still interested?”

Adriann pursed his lips, thinking it over, then finally nodded as he set the DVDs back down.  “I am.” He awarded Daniel with a soft but knowing smile.  “Just not right now.”

Swallowing, Daniel dropped the DVD case on the table and turned away, heading for the French doors behind the dining table.  “We’ll have plenty of time.” Opening one door, he gestured for Adriann to follow him as he took a step outside.  “So how did you like the dinner?”

Adriann looked around at the darkened patio and back yard, and though his eyesight was better than a human’s, he wondered why Daniel was showing this to him now.  Was he beginning to engage in the game he knew they both wanted to play?  He tried to read his mind and discovered that Daniel was actually blocking him–just as he’d been doing.  Adriann decided to play along, even though no block could keep him out.

Focusing on the question, he shrugged.  “It was fun.  The food was good, though quite different from our own.  You have many more choices than we do.  Is it like that everywhere on this planet?”

Daniel grinned as he leaned against the closed half of the door.  “Yes.  Comes from having many different cultures on this planet.  Even in this country, where there are regional dishes that are served nowhere else.”

Adriann nodded as he looked up into the cloudy sky.  “You are wondering why I didn’t tease Stuart as much as you believed I would.”

Daniel smirked at him sarcastically.  “Aren’t you supposed to stay out of my head when I’m trying to keep you out?”

Adriann looked over his shoulder, then turned and closed the distance between them.  “It was not a difficult deduction.”

Daniel laughed mutely, air blowing through his nose.  “You left it up to Talen to give him sly looks meant to make him uncomfortable.  And even she pulled her punches.”

Inclining his head, Adriann stared at him for a few long seconds before he the corners of his mouth turned up in a smile.  “I decided to leave the teasing for tomorrow.”

Daniel nodded absently, but he no longer cared about the conversation.  It was becoming a stall tactic for him.  He felt the heat from Adriann’s body coming off him in waves; it matched his own desire.  When would Adriann start their game?  Or had he already?  “And Talen?” he asked as he turned and walked back into the dining room.

Behind him, Adriann answered, but from outside, not in.  “She has decided to leave him to me.”

Standing at the threshold between kitchen and dining room, Daniel turned around to ask him what that meant, but Adriann was gone.

A tingling crawled over his skin as the hair raised on the back of his neck.  A shadow flickered just out of his left peripheral vision and the tingling ran like a river down his spine.  There wasn’t really a plan here.  It was prey and predator.  Daniel would simply follow Adriann’s lead.  He focused his hearing, listening for the slightest movement as shut the patio door.

“Hello?” he called out as he walked into the living room.  The only light came from the stove light in the kitchen and from the street lights outside.  “Hello?” With his senses on alert, he headed for his bedroom.  Listening for Adriann was actually pointless.  The man moved like a ghost; if he saw or heard him, it was because he wanted it that way.

Once in the bedroom, he found the bathroom light on and moved over to shut it off.  The moment the room was left in darkness, the bedroom door made a creaking noise.  Daniel turned around slowly.  The silhouette of a man stood in the doorway.  His heart beat faster, anticipation rising.  It had been so long since he’d felt his soft skin and hard muscle, felt the force of his tongue and cock, felt the pierce of his teeth.

Such anticipation was heady, but he still wanted to drag this out.  Now it was time to find out which fantasy Adriann wanted.

“Who’s there?” he asked as he took off his glasses and set them on the windowsill behind him.

“I have been watching you,” Adriann replied.

“Who are you and why are you in my house?”

“My name is Adriann.  I am here for you.”

“For me?” Daniel asked, brows rising.  “Why?”

There was a rustle of clothing from Adriann as he moved toward him.  Daniel’s dick jumped as he played his part and moved to his right, putting the bed between them.  Had this been real, that would have been a tactical error he’d have avoided.

The darkness seemed to close in on him and Adriann moved so quickly that Daniel didn’t have time to adjust to it.  He was on his side of the bed, coming toward him, and Daniel’s only option was to launch across the bed and head for his dresser where his combat knife was stowed.  He had to do this quickly, as if frightened in flight, but he knew that it wouldn’t matter.  Given Adriann’s speed, the moment he moved, it would be over.

Moving as quickly as he could, Daniel jumped onto the bed, both hands braced on the mattress as he began to swing his legs across.  He fully expected a grab from behind, but a whoosh of air passed him and Adriann was suddenly in front of him just as he landed on his feet.

Off balance by the landing, Daniel stumbled backward but Adriann caught him by left wrist.  Pretending to be angry and terrified, he swung with his right fist.  He caught Adriann across the jaw and, with a force that surprised him, Adriann tackled him to the bed, uttering a deep, feral growl.

“Why do you fight me?  I know what you want.  I am here to give it to you.”

“You don’t know me,” Daniel protested, even as his dick swelled to erection.  He was pinned, wrists caught and pressed to the bed, unable to fight him off.

“I know your feeling, what you want,” Adriann said, his voice deepening, resonating throughout the room.

“I am the dreams you have.”

Daniel gasped out a laugh.  “You’re insane.  Get the fuck off me.”

“You called to me.”

“The hell I did.  I’ve never met you before,” Daniel gasped.

“But you have,” Adriann purred as he nuzzled his neck.  “Isn’t this what you want?”

“No!” Daniel replied, breath going shallow as his attacker lowered his body on top of him, lips inches away from his own.  “Let me go!”

“You have dreamed of me.”

“I don’t know–“

“It’s in your mind.  I can see everything.”

“How the hell can you do that?  No one is telepathic.”

“I am,” Adriann said, nipping his earlobe.  “And I am finally here.” He then pressed his lips to Daniel’s and kissed him firmly, tongue diving into his mouth.

Though he attempted to feign resistance, Daniel couldn’t help but kiss him back.  It had been so long since he’d seen him, and his need was so great that his surrender was already given.  Adriann knew it, felt it, but continued to play out his little game.  He yanked at their clothing, making Daniel arch with pleasure.  The only thing that kept him from laughing with delight and breaking the spell was the light scratching of needle-sharp fangs over his skin.

Their clothes now formed a messy pile on the floor, and just when Adriann inserted a knee between Daniel’s legs, Daniel made one more attempt at a mock escape.

“No,” he said, reaching down to …  what?  Cover himself?  Take his dick in hand?  Take Adriann’s?  Looking down, he pretended to be fascinated and shocked by the length of Adriann’s slim cock.  A cock that was wet and shiny with what Daniel already knew was natural lube.  When he looked up, he caught the points of Adriann’s fangs beneath his lips.  “What are you?”

“Your dream come true?” Adriann smiled.

At that, Daniel did laugh.  “You can’t be serious.”

For a long moment, Adriann stared down at him.  “I have been waiting so long to feel you,” he said huskily.  “It has been so long.”

Daniel swallowing and cleared his throat, unsure if Adriann was still playing the game.  He wanted to agree with him, but he didn’t want to break the act.  “I’m not …  I haven’t …” He swallowed again, hard.  “You’re really here.”

Adriann stared into his eyes, his own glinting with lust and need.  “At last.” Without warning, he pulled Daniel’s knees up and pressed them to his chest.  He leaned his weight into him, kissing him again, and Daniel felt consumed by the roll of his tongue, the taste of his spit, the heaviness of his body.  The exposure between his legs made him moan loudly and upon the heels of that sound came the hot touch of flesh against his anus.

He jerked, hips thrusting upward, and Adriann surrounded him tightly in his arms.  The kiss deepened, distracting him, and when Adriann growled into his mouth, Daniel was impaled and filled completely.  Daniel’s legs trembled from need and he broke the kiss with a harsh gasp.  “Oh fuck.”

“Yes,” Adriann hissed quietly, and pulled back for the first thrust.  Daniel shuddered beneath him with long-denied pleasure, and with long, strong fingers, Adriann reached between them to take his dick in hand.

Daniel sucked in a breath, grabbed the bedspread with both fists, and looked down.  Staring at the hand that held his cock, at the cock that held his ass, he suddenly closed his eyes to hold off orgasm.  Dropping his head back, he wallowed in the pleasure of the long strokes, both inside him and out.

A moment came where Daniel needed it to be quicker and harder, more feral and a little savage.  He opened his eyes, pupils dilated fully, and simply communicated his need through them.  Adriann stared back, eyes feasting on his like a hungry animal.  He bared his teeth, lengthened his fangs, and withdrew his dick from his body.  Daniel still gasped in surprise as he was turned over on all fours as if he weighed nothing.  Adriann crouched over him, encircling him in his arms, and pulled Daniel to his knees as he slid his cock back into him.  Keeping his eyes closed, Daniel reached back and wrapped his arms around his neck, opening his senses to nerves that begged to explode.

Then Adriann lifted him, and suddenly, only the tops of Daniel’s feet were touching the bed.

“Spread for me,” Adriann growled in his ear, his rhythm and force never stopping, never faltering.

Taken by surprise, Daniel complied, and his thighs strained with effort as he spread his legs.  The enormous strength of Adriann’s arms around his chest and belly kept him from falling forward and in his ear, Adriann whispered, “Hold on.”

Daniel’s balls and dick swung with greater and greater speed, heat rising with them along with the height off the bed.  His feet no longer touched the mattress and he stared at the wall, eyes wide in elated pleasure.

“Jesus,” he whispered.  The slapping of flesh on flesh grew louder and Daniel dropped his head back to his lover’s shoulder, guttural moans escaping his throat.

Adriann caressed his neck with lips and tongue, savoring skin and pulse and hot, salty sweat.  “I need you,” he whispered.

Daniel closed his eyes.  “Please.”

The cock inside him swelled, and a gasp of surprise escaped his throat as he was filled just shy of pain.  His prostate was now under assault and Daniel grimaced from the keen pleasure it caused.  He was close, so close.  The pleasure and heat of orgasm rose quickly, and Daniel let out a breathy whine.  Left hand reaching up to grab at Adriann’s hair, he yelled his name as his cock let loose short bursts of come.

Then Adriann struck.  Daniel gasped as Adriann’s incisors cut into him like a knife through butter, lips and mouth sucking feverishly at the hot spurts of blood.  Heat spread from the bite, suffusing his body with an added dimension of pleasure.  Daniel jerked and shuddered, wishing the pleasure would continue forever.  Time seemed to abandon its normal pace, and all too soon, his orgasm was finished.  Far from calm, he was enveloped in a long, deep kiss as he felt his body return to the bed, Adriann draped against his back.

It was minutes or hours later–Daniel couldn’t tell nor did he care.  He lay on his side, spooned in front of his alien lover, wanting so much to tell Adriann that that was the most amazing experience he’d had with him.  He knew the words were unnecessary, but he wanted to say them all the same.

Sleepiness gripped him, taking with it all the tension that had been building for months.  He didn’t need to understand his attraction or his love for this man.  This vampire.  He accepted it.  He still felt guilty, thinking that sex was all they really shared, but his rational mind–maybe it was his heart–knew better.  The guilt remained until a few hours later, when it evaporated with Adriann’s lips firmly wrapped around his cock.  Daniel closed his eyes and threw his head back, hands firmly gripping his lover’s head.

“I love you,” he whispered, and sometime later, with his ass off the bed and Adriann’s firm grip behind his knees, Daniel climaxed.  He clutched desperately to the pillow under his head, grimacing with each thrust of his hips while his dick was drained of both come and blood.

 

.  .

 

Sleep was lifting like a morning fog, and Daniel cracked his eyes open, detecting the sounds of water running from the bathroom sink.  Lying on his side, he moved to sit up, and groaned from the soreness in his muscles.  Adriann had made him use all of them, or so it felt.  It wasn’t like he’d never used them all before, but it was usually with Jack and Jason, not just one person.  It felt as if the only thing that didn’t hurt was his ass and dick, and Daniel had no damn idea how that was possible.

As he absently scratched his head, Adriann walked into the room, giving him a pleased if devious smile as he stopped at the dresser, doing something Daniel couldn’t see.  Despite the soreness of his body, and the knowledge that he’d probably not be able to come if Adriann wanted him again, he couldn’t help but feel arousal.  His dick might not be with the game plan, but the rest of him certainly was.  He stared at the pale naked body with the hard muscle and long, tapered dick, and his toes curled.

Irritably, Daniel told his body to shut the fuck up.  Something had to be saved for Jack and Jason.

Adriann walked over and leaned down, kissing him.  “I would give you a ‘wakeup call’ but I do not believe you need one.” He straightened up and winked.  “Not from me, anyway.”

Daniel groaned and stood up, rubbing his hips.  “They’re probably just as tired,” he said, though that was more out of hope than certainty.

“Maybe,” Adriann said, then held out his hand.  “Shower?”

Daniel grinned and took it.  “Don’t tell me you can pick up on them from a distance.”

“No, I cannot.  But I know you.”

Rolling his eyes, Daniel decided he’d have to figure out a way to be more secretive.  A second later came Adriann’s mental laughter.

 

.  .

 

Jack resisted waking up.  Behind him, Jason’s warm body added to his desire to remain where he was.  For a moment, he didn’t remember whose bed they were in, until he turned his head and knew that the pillow wasn’t his.  He felt the morning stirrings of arousal and tried to ignore them, wanting to go back to sleep.  But as the seconds passed, he gave in.  With a smug and pleased smile, he reached back, finding Jason’s partial erection.  Working his hand, he elicited a soft groan.  He loved the feel of a hardening dick, and lying there, in his present position, he suddenly wanted that dick inside him.

Reaching for the night stand, Jack grabbed the lube and spread a messy amount over his sphincter, pushing some of it inside.  Then with a slick hand, he stroked Jason until he was fully hard.

“Damn you,” Jason murmured, wanting to go back to sleep.  But still, he was hard, and difficult to ignore.  He grabbed Jack’s shoulders, holding on as he thrust through his lover’s firm grip.  When Jack was ready, he rubbed the cockhead against his hole and pushed inside.

His dick filled him slowly but fully, and though Jack was completely familiar with his lover’s cock, he was less used to playing catcher.  Had he always felt this big? he wondered.  It burned for a few moments before the slow, easy thrusting rhythm took it away.

It was like a slow dance, this kind of morning fuck that pulled them from sleep and woke them fully.  Jason’s hands slid under his arms to play with his chest and Jack sighed with pleasure.  A minute passed, then another and another.  Then Jack’s patience grew thin.  The slow pace was enough.  Now it was time for hard and fast, with the promised delivery of an acute orgasm.

Grabbing the bed sheets in front of him, Jack leaned forward even more and raised his top leg.  “Now.” Jason knew what he meant.  No further explanations were unnecessary.

Without a word, Jason took Jack by his shoulders, gripping them hard as his hips began to grind into him.  Faster, and faster still.  His panting became louder and heavier, turning Jack on.

“Sounds like you’re gonna come before me,” he said with a strained grin.

“Totally your fault.”

Jalen?

Jack opened his eyes wide as his brain fully wakened from the half-dreaming state.  No, not Jalen.  Jason lay against him, bringing him toward the edge.  Where the hell had the idea about Jalen come from?

“Jesus, you’re tightening up,” Jason warned, hips slapping against Jack’s ass with rapid need.

Jack suddenly needed to see him.  He could easily slip back into that daydream state and experience that confusion again.  But Jason was at his peak and there was no way Jack would stop him.  Focusing on the grip on his shoulders, he reached behind him, feeling for Jason’s short hair.  The movement made Jason lean forward to kiss the side of his face and neck.

“I love you,” Jason whispered harshly.  “Come with me.”

“Yes,” Jack agreed, and took his dick in hand.  Quickly matching Jason’s breathing, he adjusted his hips and after a few strokes over his prostate, he arched his head back and received Jason’s kiss as he came.  His lover’s hand cradled Jack’s face, deepening the kiss just as he froze in the grip of orgasm.  Seconds stretched to minutes and sated peace replaced arousal.

“I love you back,” Jack finally replied.

“Who were you thinking I was?” Jason asked with a knowing grin on his face as he slipped out of Jack’s body.  “Was it Christian Bale again?”

Jack swallowed and shook his head slightly.  “Not this time.”

“Who then?” Jason persisted.  He picked up on the worry knot between Jack’s brow and knew that whoever had popped into Jack’s head was someone he hadn’t expected.  “Coming out of sleep, no pun intended, is a damn tricky thing.  People we wouldn’t consciously–“

“Jalen,” Jack said with a grimace, and waited for Jason to pull away.  When he didn’t, he rolled back against him to have a look at his face.  Jason looked puzzled, but other than that, rather calm.  “I thought you’d be mad.”

With a deep breath, Jason shook his head.  “No, I’m not mad.  I took your advice from last night.  I’m not surprised you thought of him.  A twin is a twin and you’re curious and aroused.  I’d only be mad if you asked both of us for a threesome.”

Jack lifted a doubtful brow.  “So you’re not mad that for a moment, I thought you were your brother?”

“No, but I’m gonna be if you keep doing it.” Jason grinned to take the sting out of the warning, then sighed with resignation.  “Maybe I should take off one night and leave you with him.”

Jack stared at him, taken aback, then immediately thought Jason was kidding.  “You’re hilarious.”

“I’m not kidding, Jack.  I wouldn’t have said it if I wasn’t serious.” Amused and pleased that he’d left Jack speechless, he rolled out of bed and headed for the shower.  “Daniel and Adriann will be popping by your house soon.  We gotta get a move on.”

Jack lay there, staring at the ceiling and listening to the start of the shower.  Images of being with Jalen sent a curious and not unpleasant tingle down his spine.  Long hair.  And facial hair.  The last time he’d been with someone with a beard, it had been Jason, during that time he’d retired to Diné after SG-1 had been declared MIA.  Jack’s pleasant feelings faded somewhat, recalling the look on Jason’s face when he’d seen that his lovers weren’t dead.

He brought himself back to the here and now, listening to Jason’s movements in the bathroom.  Why was he offering him this chance?  Jack considered that there might be some ulterior motive, then shook his head, knowing better.  This was just Jason being his usual accommodating self–and the fact that he knew how Jack would react toward him after the night with Jalen.  The only thing that bothered Jack was Jason not spending time with anyone.

Easing out of bed, prepared to dissuade Jason from his idea, Jack stood up just as his lover appeared around the corner, half wet and holding out his hand.  “I’m thinking tonight, after the party.  What do you think?”

“And what will you be doing?”

Jason shrugged.  “I’ll think of something.”

Jack growled.  “Don’t pick up a stranger.”

“I’m not gonna go trolling, Jack.”

Jack took his hand.  “What if your other half isn’t available?”

Jack’s question didn’t fool Jason and he gently cupped Jack’s balls.  With a very serious look, he said softly, “At a chance for a night with you, he will be.  Trust me.” With a quick kiss, Jason returned to the shower, leaving Jack standing there, contemplating the meaning of that statement.

He blinked a few times as it sunk in.  “Are you saying he’s been wanting to sleep with me?” he asked, heading into the bathroom.

Jason’s water-muffled answer made him smile.  “I don’t think sleep ever entered his mind.  It never did when I used to fantasize about you.”

Jack grinned mischievously as he climbed into the shower and spooned behind his lover.  “Two things,” he said as he reached around him and took the soap bottle.  “One, tell me all about it.”

“And two?” Jason asked, a wet smile spreading across his face.

“What do you mean, used to?”

 

.  .  .

 

It was just after noon and the tension in Jack’s balls increased slightly when he heard the key turn in the front door.  He moved to the threshold of his kitchen, waiting to see who was coming in.  When Daniel and Adriann entered, the tension relaxed a little.  As Adriann’s attention was drawn to Christmas decorations, Daniel walked into the dining room and stopped, briefly, giving Jack a thorough examination.  Jack smiled.  It was both innocent and dirty.

With a quiet snort, Daniel brushed past him and entered the kitchen.  “Shut up,” he murmured.

“You look like the proverbial cat who ate the equally proverbial canary,” Jack teased.  “Had a good reunion night?”

“Morning to you too,” Daniel replied with a small grin.

He’d purposely put his back to Jack as he checked the contents of the fridge and Jack knew this game.  He walked up behind him and kissed him on the back of his neck, liking the way Daniel shivered.  He didn’t need to see if he was smiling.

“Good Morning.  Although technically …”

“It’s afternoon,” Daniel grinned.

“So,” Jack drawled as he leaned in and spoke behind his ear, deepening his voice.  “How’d it go?”

“Fine,” Daniel drawled back.  Though Jack was teasing him, he was also re-marking his sexual territory, using a tactic that won over Daniel almost every goddamn time.

“And?” Jack asked, brushing against his back.

“And what?” Daniel forgot why he had the fridge open.

“Gonna be with him till Wednesday?”

For a moment, Daniel wasn’t sure if Jack was displaying impatience, or if he was giving him an out with Adriann till Christmas Eve.  With perverse pleasure, he smiled and turned around.  “It would be rude to leave him on his own for the first few days here.”

Jack nodded, his breath whispering warmly over Daniel’s face.  Reaching over his shoulder, he closed the fridge door.  “Do I at least merit a proper hello?”

“Alway–” Daniel began, lifting his chin ever so slightly, and as he expected, Jack kissed him before the word could finish.  Daniel put his arms around him, loving the feel of him through the jeans.  He groaned and slid his hands over Jack’s ass, an action that put his back against the fridge.

I think he missed you, Adriann sent.

Daniel ignored him as he paid proper attention to the man giving him a very sensual, delectable hello.  His only regret was wishing he had the goddamn energy to steal into the bedroom.  Fuck the guests that had already showed up.

“We could steal an hour,” Jack whispered against his lips.  “It’s early yet.”

Daniel swallowed.  “Don’t do this to me.”

“Do what?” Jack smiled.

“Bastard,” Daniel said around a kiss.  “Who’s already here?”

“Carter, Talen, and Teal’c.  Jason and Jalen haven’t arrived yet.”

Daniel frowned distractedly.  “I thought Jason stayed here last night.”

Jack grinned slowly.  “Actually, I stayed over there last night.  I’ve only been home a few hours.”

Daniel smirked at him.  “Then how the hell are you in the mood?  I know damn well you–“

“We did,” Jack began, giving him a dirty smile.  “But I also didn’t want an awkward audience for my usual morning routine, so we had a quick shower after and left.”

There was something in his eyes and Daniel became suspicious.  “Jalen stayed out, didn’t he?”

“Pretty much.  Jason was a little more passionate than usual.”

Daniel smirked at him, not falling for the bait.  “Reclaiming his property, no doubt.”

Jack smirked back.  “He made me an offer.”

“Offer?” Daniel asked, curious.

“To set me up with Jalen.”

Daniel stared at him, searching Jack’s eyes for the hint of a joke.  It wasn’t there.  “You want to?” When Jack hesitated, Daniel let him off the hook.  “What if he’s busy?”

“He gets to be with me.  Why would he be busy?”

Daniel was tempted to slap the egotistical shit upside his head.  Instead, he decided to see if he could make Jack jealous, even in the abstract.  Jack may never develop a long term relationship with another person since he didn’t seem interested in outside relationships, but he did have a hypocritical attitude about someone else’s current sex partners.  “Adriann’s sleeping with him, you know.”

Jack grinned.  “Jason told me.” He stepped in against him, crotch perfectly positioned, and whispered, “I forced it out of him as I tied him down and slowly fucked him all night long.  Warden and Inmate.  Remember?  Or has it been too long?” In truth, Jason had told him about Jalen and Adriann that morning in the shower, but Jack wanted the image planted.

Daniel swallowed hard and for a moment, mulled over the urge to push Jack away and call him an asshole.  It’s probably what Jack expected.  Instead, he sighed and turned his back on him, opening the fridge again.  “Sounds like my night, only without the restraints.” He added over his shoulder, “With Adriann’s strength, he really doesn’t need them.”

He should have known the comment would backfire.  Jack’s groin was now against his ass.

“Wanna step inside my office and tell me about it?” Jack asked, planting his hands on the fridge, framing Daniel within them.

He rubbed against him ever so slightly, but it wasn’t necessary to entice him because the heat from Jack’s body was enough to drive Daniel crazy.  “Yes,” he said before he could think about it.

Slipping quietly into the bedroom, they kicked off their shoes and headed toward the bed.  “I may not be able to come,” Daniel said, hoping he was wrong.

“Do tell?” Jack said, shirt and jeans open as he pushed Daniel onto his back across the mattress.  “That’s why we’re here, isn’t it?”

“I thought that was an excuse,” Daniel said as he reached for his lover’s cock.  He hadn’t gotten around to opening his own shirt yet, but it didn’t matter because Jack was already hiking it up as he latched onto a nipple with his teeth.

“What did he do?” Jack asked him, voice muffled as he moved on to belly skin, fingers deftly working at his jeans.  “Suck you dry?”

“Many times,” Daniel replied as cool air met his exposed crotch.

“We’ll see,” came Jack’s reply before he swallowed Daniel’s cock.  With a pleased moan, Daniel pulled at Jack to maneuver himself for a sixty-nine, and with a hunger usually reserved for late nights, he eagerly took him into his mouth.

The sounds they made camouflaged the opening of the door, but they both heard the lock.  Neither of needed to know who it was, and they made room for Jason as he crawled onto the bed.

“You started without me,” he said with a tone of disapproval, but it disappeared with a deep kiss Daniel thoroughly enjoyed before he pushed his pants down and buried his cock in his mouth.  With his hips already moving, he bent over to kiss Jack hello, then adjusted his angle and dived for the cock he’d had fun tasting only six hours ago.

Three busy sets of hands.  Three insatiable sets of mouths.  And a full stereo of deep-throated sounds.  Undulating hips moved slickened cocks in and out of reddened mouths and slack jaws.  Balls were teased and glands probed, winding up the tension that was already thick with need.  Spit was plentiful, caused by salivating sexual hunger, and sooner rather than later–given that they could hear the arrival of additional car engines–they increased their combined skill set to get each other off.

Afterward, Jack started to wonder if his guests could survive on their own for a while.  Surely Carter and Teal’c could take over?  Then he heard Stuart’s voice and a slow smile crossed his face as he made up his mind.  With a heavy sigh, he carefully extracted himself from his lovers.  “Time to go have a different sort of fun.  Anyone hungry?”

Daniel started laughing as Jason rolled off the bed.  “Could you be more specific?” he asked, slapping Jack on the ass before he had time to pull up his pants.

 

.  .  .

 

With the ease of friends and a welcome respite from their typical duty, the party passed from a cold, sunlit afternoon to an ever colder night with the smell of snow crystals in the air.  It was arriving late, but fortunately there wasn’t a storm on the horizon to interfere with plane travel.  Stuart was relieved, and he knew the other guests would be too.  Everyone could relax without having travel stress added to their worry list, and Jack’s comfortable house made that easy.

Soft white bulbs mixed with candles and Christmas tree lights, altering the normal homey atmosphere of Jack’s living room into a subtle sensuality.  It would’ve been there without the holiday lights; Jack had good taste in furniture and a great sense of Feng Shui.  He’d mentioned that to Jack once and had received a disgusted look.  Jack pretended not to know about Feng Shui, but Stuart had a feeling it was more out of adopted machismo than reality.  The only damn thing missing was an indoor fish pond.

Even for the holiday, Jack had flare.  The living room had been rearranged and an extra sofa brought in to accommodate extra guests.  The tree was set to the right of the large front window, set in a corner by the fireplace.  Under the window and facing the fireplace were two sofas, and then there were the overstuffed chairs.  Extra throw pillows and rugs had been brought in for anyone wanting to sit on the floor.  With the added light from the fire, Stuart was reminded of his mum’s house.  She also had a great flare for making people feel welcome.

Underlying Jack’s welcome atmosphere was the strategic placing of mistletoe, which Stuart found a little annoying.  But overall, he couldn’t complain.  He was relaxed and feeling particularly happy–a mood that was unusual for him.  Most of the time his upbeat moods were based on pragmatic acceptance and feelings of satisfaction and security.  Happiness–true happiness–had been rare and short-lived.  He figured that gave it more meaning, so in the grand scheme, it didn’t matter if he wasn’t, generally, happy.

It did occur to him that his sort of happiness could be considered bizarre: A sort of nervous sexual tension.  It kept him wired, alert.  If it was bizarre, he didn’t much care.  This was a time where could indulge in a private thrill: watching Alex.

This was something he didn’t usually allow himself.  But today was special.  A one-off he could happily coddle and not worry about.  At a party, he’d be expected to look at the man he spent a lot of time with.  Like now.  The blended colors of the Christmas lights gave off a slightly pinkish glow and it seemed to deepen the color of Alex’s tanned skin.  Stuart indulged in a private desire to see how his bare skin looked next to Alex’s.

It wasn’t the first time he’d found himself thinking of such a thing, but the majority of the time, whether sharing a mission or home alone, those idle thoughts were simple curiosity and nothing more.  He was too well disciplined to allow explicit indulgences.  One didn’t dwell on things you couldn’t have.  If you took the opportunity to seize them, it was momentary and brief, not long-lasting.  It might have been different in England, if Alex were there as an attachment, but during wartime–on world or off–one couldn’t afford the luxury of love and plans for the future.

The only reason he felt anything close to that at the moment was because he’d spent a lot of time with Alex lately.  And the holidays added to it because they made him more sentimental than he usually was.  At least, that’s what he tried to tell himself.  But every time Alex stood close to a sprig of mistletoe hanging from the ceiling, Stuart automatically sought out the whereabouts of Jalen and Adriann.  They may be alien, but they were still men.  And Alex and Jalen had been, or still were, lovers.

Stuart told himself to disregard such jealous feelings.  It did no Earthly good.  Jealousy only appeared when there was a thought about the future, the hope that there was a chance for the two of them.  It was preposterous.  What he should be doing is cutting that off.  It would be easy.  So very easy.  Especially while working within this very bigoted military the Yanks had going.

But despite the discipline and the well-nurtured excuses, loneliness was catching him up, and god, he missed sex.  A long time ago, he didn’t mind the one night stands.  But over time, Stuart found he preferred connection.  Just being able to get off was no longer adequate.  But what he preferred and what he forced himself to believe so that loneliness would be held at bay contradicted each other.  How could he look for a committed relationship when he denied himself the chance of one in the first place?

To make matters worse, thoughts of Alex made up his nightly five-fingered ritual.  It was an indulgence he allowed because he convinced himself that it had no meaning past the orgasm.  At least, until now.  Tonight, God help him, the lighting and bourbon-rich eggnog was playing merry hell with his button-down composure and strict rules.  He knew he should have begged off, told Jack he was flying out early, and part of him wished he had.  But decorum had interfered, with a fat helping of Alex’s company.

This would be the last time he catered to this …  attraction.  After the New Year, he’d cut off these feelings and force himself to see Alex as nothing more than a colleague and friend.  If that meant he had to return to the one-night stand, so be it.

Stuart took a drink and sighed deeply.  Okay, pact made, one solution seen to.  But what about tonight?  The nervous tension began to increase, and he purposely headed toward Sam and Janet, needing to distract himself from his inconvenient thoughts.  Talen was with them, but he could suffer her teases easily, especially if they took away thoughts of Alex’s warm, hard body beneath his own.

 

.  .

 

Adriann was amused.  He’d been privately leaning on Stuart’s mind since the man had arrived and found him absolutely fascinating.  Part of it was the delicious accent spoken in that rich, deep voice, and the delight to be able to watch someone new for a while.  Stuart wore what Adriann had come to understand as semi-formal.  Black dress trousers, cream shirt, and lightweight black jacket most human males wore with their suits, but there was no tie, no shiny shoes, and he hadn’t shaved too close.  He was not so …  how did Jack put it?  Spit and polish.

That was just the visual charm.  Inside, there was the self-discipline of the man.  His facade was slipping, but only a little, and the decision to cut off his feelings after this holiday was intriguing.  Adriann wanted to mess that up, for he loved to watch a disciplined man lose control because to repress so tightly seemed unnatural.  It was what had drawn him to Daniel so intensely, though that wasn’t why he’d fallen in love.

With Stuart, it was approaching fetish-level.  The sexual restrictions these soldiers put on themselves was almost heartbreaking.  He didn’t agree with it, and honestly found it more than a little dismaying.  Perhaps that was what drew him in.  One had to find happiness no matter where it took them and getting someone else to indulge in their desires was immensely satisfying.

He looked over at Alex, talking with Jalen and Teal’c, and leaned a bit, needing to discover if Jack and Daniel and Jason were right, that Alex’s feelings matched Stuart’s.  To his delight and relief, they did.  Now all he had to do was push them together, hopefully with arms and legs entwined and a lot of thrusting going on.  He wondered if he could manipulate that and be able to listen in at the same time?  On the other hand, it could all turn to disaster, and maybe in his favor.  Such a smooth, delectable throat almost as white as his own.  What would that deep voice sound like with a hard cock poised for plunging and teeth sinking into hot flesh?

“What’re you thinking about?” Daniel asked as Adriann watched Stuart excuse himself from the women and disappear through the back door and onto the darkened backyard deck.

“Interfering,” Adriann answered absently.  “Where’s he going?”

Daniel looked over his shoulder, watching the handsome Brit exit the back.  “Probably out for a cigarette.  Stuart smokes tobacco on occasion.  Now answer my question.”

Adriann grinned mischievously and pointed at the mistletoe on the ceiling.  “Seems to have backfired.”

“For whom?” Daniel asked, then caught Adriann’s thought.  “Don’t even–“

“Do you or do you not believe they would be good for each other?”

Daniel sighed as he looked over at Alex, who was now looking toward the back door.  But he wasn’t moving toward it.  “Yeah, I believe they would be.” Turning his gaze back to Adriann, he shook his head.  “Subtlety is the key.  But if you had your way, you’d have them locked in a bedroom.” He grinned at the way Adriann rolled his eyes before searching out Jack.  “You could try to make Alex jealous and see if he does something.  If he doesn’t …” Daniel paused and gave Adriann his most determined look.  “Let it be their idea, Adriann.”

“If Alex doesn’t act on his desires, what would Stuart do if I did?”

Daniel narrowed his eyes slightly.  “Freak out?” he warned.

Adriann smiled cryptically.  “Only for a moment.”

“Don’t,” Daniel replied, intensifying the warning in his mind.  You can’t do that to him.

Adriann sighed and looked at him with a mixture of fondness and irritation.  “I won’t.  I’ll save it for others we don’t know and will never see again.” He paused, and intensified his own mental thought.

Agreed?

“Agreed,” Daniel said softly, knowing that Adriann was dying to go out on the hunt.  “Just be careful.”

“Always,” Adriann replied.

When he left him and headed for the back door, Daniel surreptitiously watched Alex for a reaction.  To his pleasant surprise, the man’s attention was grabbed, and his alarms went up.  Knowing he shouldn’t interfere, Daniel walked over to him anyway.

“He’s only going to talk to him, Alex,” he said, grinning when Alex jerked in surprise.

“Who?” he asked.

Daniel snorted.  “That lie was a miserable failure.  Try again.”

“Daniel,” Alex said, shoulders slumping as he began to frown.  “Just …  leave it.”

“He’s not going to seduce him.  Although Adriann would love to do that.”

“He would?” Alex asked, eyes widening.

“What do you think?” Daniel asked, then quickly added, “Do something.”

Alex ordered himself not to blush as he cleared his throat.  “No.  We’re friends, Daniel.  That’s all.”

Daniel pressed his lips together.  “Even with my abilities turned off, I can tell that you both like each other.  Why won’t you go there?  He’s leaving tomorrow.  He’ll be gone for almost two weeks.”

“Yeah, I know,” Alex replied, irritated at having his own idea thrown back at him now that he’d decided to play it coy.  “He was telling me about his plans when he gets home.”

“So why don’t you give him something to think about over the holiday?”

Alex lowered his voice, giving Daniel a very serious look.  “Because I’m not sure it’s a good idea.  Relationships don’t seem to be my thing.”

“Only because you always go after what’s unavailable.  Stuart’s available.”

“No, I don’t think he is.”

It was Daniel’s turn to be surprised.  “He’s seeing someone?”

Alex cleared his throat.  “No, not that.  I don’t think he wants to be with anyone right now.”

“Did he say that?”

“No.  It’s just the feeling I get.”

Daniel rolled his eyes.  “Then your feelings are wrong, Alex.”

“You know that for sure?” Alex asked, once more surprised, but there was a look of hope on his face that he quickly tried to mask.

Daniel’s sense caught it.  He cared about Alex, cared about Stuart.  He wanted them to find some kind of happiness, even if didn’t last all that long.  After all, next month, they could all be caught in an ambush somewhere and die.  “Life’s too damn short, Alex.”

“I know,” Alex sighed.

“Do something then.”

“I can’t.”

Daniel grew irritated and decided on the manipulated approach.  “Put your money where your mouth is.”

Alex scowled.  “Excuse me?”

“Adriann’s been listening to both of you all night.  He knows, and therefore, so do I.”

“What?” Alex asked in a harsh whisper.

“Yes, yes, it’s none of our business, but he cares about you,” Daniel said with a tone that purposely sounded like a warning.  “He doesn’t understand this silly dance the two of you are playing.  He thinks you need to take the risk.  Trust me.  If you don’t, he will do something to make you.”

“Now wait just a damn–“

“It’s how he sees it.  And frankly, I agree with him.”

At that moment, several pairs of eyes were on them and Daniel bit his lips together.  “Oops.”

“What?” Alex asked, and after looking around, he cringed and covered his eyes with a hand.  “Fuck.”

Jack sauntered over and handed Alex a new cup of eggnog.  “You’re surrounded by sharp ears, remember?”

“Don’t remind me.” With a dirty look at Daniel, Alex accepted the cup from Jack and took a large drink before checking how much bourbon Jack had added.  After a short, harsh cough, he stared at the contents, then abruptly downed the remainder.  Ignoring the surprised brows from Jack and Daniel, he focused only on what he’d say and do not long from now.  He’d been sober all evening in order to avoid acting out of turn, but right now, all he wanted was to get rid of inhibition and embarrassment.  He could endure teasing later.

So the question was, how long should he wait before going out there and making a fool of himself?

Before someone did it for him, that is.

 

.  .

 

Stuart stood by the bottom stair at the end of the deck, having just lit his cigarette.  Movement to his left caught his eye and with a brief turn of his head, his guard went up when he saw that it was Adriann.  He really wished that hadn’t been his immediate reaction.  He’d been trying to relax around the man all during Jack’s party, but it wasn’t happening.  Though he could think up rationalizations about earning trust, he knew none would stick.  He had to find common ground, because if he didn’t get a grip and resolve whatever was wrong, it would only get worse over time.

Earlier, Jack had only been half-kidding when he’d said, “You’re xenophobic, Blackwell.  Get over it, or you won’t last much longer as a field specialist.”

It had been a shock to hear that, especially coming from Jack, the man who didn’t easily trust anyone unless they were children.  Jack had a weak spot there and Stuart sort of understood that, though his own interaction with children was sorry-assed.  They liked him, but he wasn’t so comfortable around them.  But xenophobic?  Prejudice against anything would have been Stuart’s last guess.  He judged on action, not race, religion, gender, or identity.  So how the hell could he be xenophobic?

But Jack was right.  He had to get over this, or he wouldn’t be at the SGC come this time next year.  To go home in defeat over something so goddamn trivial?  He had to figure out whatever the hell the problem was, particularly with Adriann.  It’s just that every damn time Adriann gave him that haughty, superior look, Stuart wanted to give him a right cross.

The thought struck.  Was that the source of the problem?  That air of superiority?  Adriann certainly had it in droves.

“Needing some air?” Stuart asked, forcing a friendly tone.

“A little,” Adriann answered, pleasantly surprised by the gesture.  Stuart’s behavior reminded him of a skittish stallion.  “Do you mind if I join you out here?”

Stuart shrugged, wishing he could’ve smoked in peace.  “As the Yanks say, it’s a free country.”

Adriann sensed the small lie, but after last night and today, he had a better idea about how Stuart really felt.  One thing the man didn’t like was aggressive, egotistical people, those who thought they were better than others.  Unfortunately, Adriann easily fit that description.  He could be egalitarian when he chose to be, but he’d never really had much need to hide his feelings.

As he drew closer, Adriann sensed that Stuart was trying to fight his feelings and judgments, and that was the only thing that kept him from picking a fight.  Even among his own people, they’d had a form of bigotry and despite his own narcissistic tendencies, it was something Adriann had no use for.  Belief in oneself above others was understandable, even if it offended others.  But to consider your life worth more than someone else’s?  No.  That was something he held a zero tolerance for, and why he didn’t bother hiding his active enmity toward those on this planet who held a hatred for homosexuals.

It was why he fully approved of Jalen’s clandestine activities, though he himself would have inflicted pain and fear.

“Something on your mind?” Stuart asked, breaking Adriann’s train of thought.

“Common ground,” Adriann answered, gesturing between them.

“Sorry?” Stuart asked, confused.

“Trying to find some between the two of us.” Adriann passed Stuart without a glance and walked into the middle of the yard, directing his gaze at the moon.  It was almost full, and clouds were gathering.  The weather was chilly, but not too uncomfortable.  Hadn’t Daniel said it would snow soon?  No matter, Adriann found the cold remarkably concentrative.  Pointing at the moon, he said, “Did you know that we have twelve of them?”

Stuart’s brows went up in surprise at the question.  Not the facts, just the subject matter.  Without brooding over his actions, he walked out to join Adriann, standing only a few feet away.  “You must have one hell of a lunar calendar,” he quipped.

Adriann found the reply endearing.  It was so simple an observation; not even Daniel had ever made such a statement.  “We do.” He continued to stare into the sky, using it as pretense as he sifted through his mind for the precise wording.  When ready, he turned to Stuart and regarded him as calmly and friendly as he could.  “I’ve discovered we have common ground on a few things.  Maybe it would help …  how did Daniel put it …  bridge the divides?”

“It couldn’t hurt, I suppose,” Stuart allowed.  Though he kept his tone polite, there was no mistaking the wariness in his eyes.

Adriann inwardly rolled his eyes, resisting the urge to push past the surface of his mind.  It would just be so much simpler if these humans would drop the constant vigilance of their minds.  Most humans chose to lie or hide rather than tell the truth, and it was extremely aggravating, particularly when expressing deep thoughts.  Contrary to what Adriann had let Daniel and the others believe, reading thoughts of any kind couldn’t be helped.  Even when the mental barrier was up, there was always something to sense, no matter how insignificant or small.

With a weary sigh at Stuart’s stubbornness, he asked, “If you’d rather not have a conversation, let me know and I’ll go back inside.”

Stuart had been looking up at the sky and at Adriann’s words, he looked over sharply.  He didn’t answer right away, puzzled by this olive branch–if that was the proper term.  Eventually, he said, “I apologize if I gave you that impression.  So as the saying goes, speak your piece.”

“Very well,” Adriann nodded.  “So I shall start by being direct and honest with you.  I can sense your …  trepidation …  without even attempting to read your mind.  It’s part of who I am, and I cannot change it, nor will I apologize for having that ability.  But if it bothers you to know that, say so.”

“It bothers me,” Stuart said with the beginning of a smile.  “But I appreciate the honesty.”

Adriann jogged his brows.  “I can understand that.  Your people spend entirely too much time telling each other lies.”

Hearing it was a bit shocking, but Stuart wasn’t too bothered, either.  “True enough.  We sometimes worry too much about what others think.”

Adriann nodded but didn’t respond, hoping that Stuart would take the lead in the conversation.  Perhaps such a gesture would show that he didn’t think his opinions, or even the sound of his own voice, was more important.

“So what common ground do you see?” Stuart asked when the silence stretched out.

Adriann sighed, wondering if lying would be appropriate right now, and he suddenly smiled and let out a short laugh.

“What’s funny?” Stuart asked, frown returning.

Adriann gave him a playful smile.  “Your ways are rubbing off on me.  I was thinking of lying in order to make you feel better.”

Stuart snorted cigarette smoke out of nose.  “You don’t lie?”

“Due to our telepathy, we tend not to say one thing and think another.”

“That actually makes sense.”

Adriann merely grinned back.

“So what was the lie?” Stuart asked, taking a drag.

“That I’m not nearly as full of self-importance and superiority as you think I am.”

Stuart stared at him, thunderstruck, and started laughing.  Shaking his head, he headed back to the stairs and sat down.  “How the hell do you do that?”

“What?” Adriann asked as he walked over, gesturing a silent request at the space next to Stuart before he sat down.

“Get people to laugh, and thus, let their guards down?”

“Not exactly the result I was purposely aiming for, but I’ll take it.  To answer the question, I simply read into your feelings.  You don’t like lying, or being rude, as so many other humans do, so you cover it up by expressing very little.”

“Except when the situation calls for it, like being in the field.”

“When opinions are more valuable there,” Adriann nodded.

“Exactly.  Arrogance isn’t a good trait most of the time, which is why yours is more than a bit off-putting.”

Adriann smiled.  “Are you sure it isn’t my handsome looks or disarming fangs?”

Stuart smiled and shook his head.  “Maybe both.  I’m not comfortable with coming across the living embodiment of myth and legend.”

Adriann nodded, though more soberly as he thought of the past.  “It’s a bit disconcerting.”

“You’ve come across that?” Stuart asked, surprised.

“In a way, but not the same way you mean.” Adriann grinned, but there was no pleasure there.  “Finding out that I share a common ancestry with the Bor’cha beasts is a little unsettling.”

Stuart snorted agreement.  “That’s what humans thought when they learned we share a genetic code with the primates on our planet.  Half the planet still refuses to believe it, despite the proof.”

“I’m afraid we don’t really have much choice, given how few of my people are left.”

Stuart turned to stare at him.  “I thought your people were having children again.”

“Not really,” Adriann answered sadly.  “Because of our long lives, we are slow to breed, and gestation is longer than your species.  Emine had her child and one other of us may be pregnant, but we don’t have many of us left.  Except for my sister and I, the others aren’t directly related, so at least there’s no danger of inbreeding.  Still, we don’t have much stock to choose from so this is going to be a long, laborious process.”

“What about mixing with another race?” Stuart asked carefully.

Adriann smiled, the sadness lifting slightly.  “No more plausible than it is to make you a vampire.  And I’m glad.  I’d rather our race came back whole before we started messing about with the mixing of genetics.”

Stuart jogged his brows.  “Guess I can see your point there.  If we were dying out, I’d want to work on building that back instead of finding half-breeds.” He frowned, realizing he’d said something impolitic.  “I mean no offense toward–“

Adriann waved him off.  “Jalen is an anomaly.  The only way to turn another human being like him would be to find a Tok’ra symbiont willing to die for the cause.” He grinned.  “I don’t see them doing that.”

“No, I don’t either, and I’ve only met one.” At Adriann’s lifted brow, he added, “Sam’s dad.”

“Ah.”

They were quiet for a few minutes while Stuart smoked, and when he put the cigarette out in the soda can he’d brought with him, he rested his forearms over his knees and laced his fingers together.  “Thanks.”

To say that Adriann was surprised would’ve been an understatement.  “You’re welcome.  But for what?”

“For trying.”

“Then I return the thanks because so were you.”

“Not enough.  I wasn’t looking for common ground.  If my judgment wasn’t so clouded, I would have been.” Stuart offered a crooked smile.  “Alex thinks …” he began to say, then stopped and shook his head.  “Never mind.  You probably already know.”

“Not necessarily,” Adriann replied.  “Just because I can sense what you feel and read your mind at will doesn’t mean I purposely do it.  Nor do I know everything.”

Stuart smiled and looked away.  “Whaddya know.  You’re not omnipotent.”

This time it was Adriann’s turn to laugh, which in turn made Stuart smile at him.  He looked into his incredible blue eyes surrounded by pale skin and black hair, liking the way the upper lids were slightly hooded, as if he were on the edge of drowsiness.  Or sexual promise.  With a breath, Adriann looked away.  “Hardly that.  I have my weaknesses, which tend to have huge consequences.  It’s a common failing among us arrogant bastards, don’t you think?”

Stuart chuckled and nodded a bit.  “Maybe.”

Taking a breath and deciding to risk the repair that had been made, Adriann stood up, shoved his hands in his pockets, and looked up at the sky.  “So like our world, but with different stars.” Turning, he gave Stuart a more solemn and frank expression.  “Am I mistaken in thinking we’ve …  worked out something between us?”

Stuart hesitated, staring at his hands, then stood up and faced him, copying his body language.  “You’re not mistaken.”

Adriann sighed again and nodded with agreement.  “I’d rather not destroy the ground we’ve made because I feel it’s important, but I’m going to risk it by bringing up something else we have in common.”

Stuart frowned with concern.  “You can’t leave it be?”

Shaking his head, Adriann said, “Comes from caring a bit too much.  At least, that’s what I’d like to think.”

Lifting his chin, expression serious, Stuart nodded once.  “Go on then.”

“It’s about Alex.”

He let the words hang in the air and waited for Stuart to reject talking about him.  The emotions playing across the man’s face, caution, confusion, and defensiveness, told him that if he stopped now, no harm would be done.  He purposely closed his mind to him, not wanting to know if he was right, or what Stuart may give away about Alex.

“What about him?” Stuart said, surprising him.

Adriann hesitated, then rushed ahead.  “I think you’re aware that most of us know about the attraction between you two?”

At first, Stuart’s eyes widened in surprise, but they narrowed soon after as he thought about it, and eventually, he agreed.  “It’s nothing but a flirtation.” He paused, then added, “Which I intend to stop.”

“You don’t want to take it further than that?” Adriann ventured.

Stuart opened his mouth to answer, but paused again, thinking over his words.  Giving Adriann a long look, and remembering their mutual hatred of lies, he sighed heavily and gave in.  “I don’t want him hurt.”

“Admirable, but are you sure it’s not yourself you’re protecting?”

Stuart shrugged.  “Maybe it’s both.”

“And what if one or both of you are killed by an ambushing squadron of Jaffa next month?” When Stuart didn’t answer, Adriann reached out and gently gripped his shoulder.  “I hate to see passion squandered or strangled.  Maybe it’s because I’ve lived too goddamn long.  If you don’t mind my saying so, I don’t think you should waste time on playing it safe, on what might be.”

Stuart frowned.  “Maybe you should leave that decision to us.”

“But aren’t you making the decision for the both of you?”

Stuart pressed his lips together, hating that Adriann had a point.  “So …  your caring about him.  That was the common ground?”

“Partly,” Adriann replied, and for a split second, debated whether he should bring up the past or not.  Alex would probably kill him.  So to speak.  “Has Alex told you that he hasn’t always realized that he was bisexual?”

“He’s mentioned something to that effect, but we’ve never discussed it,” Stuart replied, wondering what that had to do with anything.

“Has he told you that he discovered that little fact about himself because of me and my people?”

“No,” Stuart said, his frown turning to puzzlement.

“Or that his first experience with a man was with one of us?”

“No,” Stuart answered flatly.  This was something he didn’t know, and now he began to understand why Alex was as close to Adriann and his people as Jack and the others were.  “Why are you telling me this?”

Adriann thought over his answer.  “Because he’s attracted to you.  And because he’s looking for someone to be with.  Those of us who care about him want that for him, too.  And I think that person is you.  If you’re looking for the same thing, whether you’re ready or not, then you might benefit from knowing that.”

He squeezed his shoulder affectionately and started up the steps.

“I don’t get it,” Stuart said, stopping him.

“What don’t you get?” Adriann asked, his turn to be confused.

“You care about him, and I get that.  But why bother talking to me about it?”

With another smile, this one slightly patronizing, Adriann walked back down the steps and gently palmed Stuart’s face in his hands.  He startled him with the action, and startled him more when he leaned in and pressed their lips together.

Stuart didn’t move, shocked by the sudden intimacy, and though his brain was frozen, the rest of him wasn’t.  He didn’t return the kiss, but his stomach was alive with butterflies and below that, an odd warmth stirred.  It reminded him of the first time he’d realized he’d been attracted to men.  He’d been sixteen, and not a virgin.  Sex with women had given minimal satisfaction, and until he’d experienced the harder angles men provided, he’d thought there’d been something wrong with him.

There was something of that feeling now when Adriann stepped back, thumbing his cheek like a caress before moving back up the stairs.

“What the hell was that about?” Stuart asked, hating the mixture of arousal and defensiveness.

Adriann sensed the conflict, and for a moment, he considered forcing Stuart to face desires he’d purposely refused to accept.  However, much as he liked a conflicted partner, now wasn’t the time.  One day, when Stuart visited Bel’a’lat or Var’chol’si, he’d show him there was nothing to fear.  “I care about your well-being,” he said finally.  “And as I said, I hate to see anyone I care about strangle their desires.” Adriann gave him a hint of a smile.  “It’s not natural.”

“Bastard, you’ve no right,” Stuart began, feeling the warmth spread over the rest of his body.  Before he could give Adriann a lesson in manners and privacy, the back door opened, and Alex walked out.

Staring at them and noticing the tense body language, he frowned.  “You aren’t fighting, are you?”

A guilty look crossed Stuart’s face as Adriann answered.  “No, we’re just fine.” Looking at Stuart, he asked, “Aren’t we?”

With that, he walked away, his long strides taking him down the deck to Alex.  “I think it’s time you two talked,” Adriann said quickly and quietly, then cocked his head as he appeared to be listening to what was going on inside the house.  “Don’t take too long.  They want to open presents.”

Bewildered, Alex looked over his shoulder as Adriann disappeared, then headed down the deck and pointed behind him.  “What the hell were you two discussing?”

With the meaning of Adriann’s words echoing in his head, Stuart’s attention shifted dramatically.  His eyes were drawn to pale blue jeans that enhanced long legs, a dark beige sweater that accentuated the muscular curves of his chest.  Alex’s cheeks were flushed, and it wasn’t from the cold; they were always like that.  It gave him a perpetual blush that was intriguing.  Stuart knew he was treading on dangerous ground, letting himself indulge, following Adriann’s advice.  When Alex was at the bottom of the stairs and looking at him expectantly, Stuart decided to ignore the warning bells.

“Stuart?  What’s wrong?”

It was as if Stuart realized he was under a spell, or waking from a deep sleep.  All metaphors and euphemisms probably applied, and for a moment, he felt like laughing.  All he wanted to do right then and there was have sex, to feel the heat inside Alex’s body.  Looking into his concerned eyes, he said, “Any plans after you leave here tonight?”

They stared at each other, fingers twitching to touch, bodies aching sweat, and each thinking the other didn’t know.  Puzzled by the question, Alex wasn’t about to ask the reason for the question.  “No, no plans.  But I was gonna ask you if you’d like a ride to Peterson tomorrow.”

Stuart smiled at him and chuckled softly.  “Yeah, I’ll need one.” He reached up, tentative and unsure, and when Alex didn’t flinch or step away, he touched his hair, straightening unnecessarily.  “Would you like to join me for breakfast?”

Heart racing, Alex reached over and took the hand that touched him.  “I would.  But are you talking about the waking-up kind or the coming-over kind?”

Swallowing, Stuart said, “The former.”

Alex smiled and closed the distance between, placing Stuart’s hand on an ass cheek.  “Here’s your Christmas present.”

Stuart blinked slowly, concentrating on the heat under his palm and fingers.  “Any special instructions?”

Alex leaned in, chin up, and whispered, “It requires a kiss to open.”

Stuart let out a sigh through his nose as their lips met, meshed, and opened.  Unconsciously, his hand moved back up into Alex’s hair and closed tightly when Alex sought out his tongue.  He didn’t dare make any other moves, save his free hand sliding around the man’s waist; his mind was too preoccupied with contradictions.  On the one hand, he delighted in savoring the sweet taste of his mouth and the solid warmth under his hands and against his body.  But on the other hand, he wondered if either of them would please the other.

When Alex drew back enough to take a breath, Stuart posed the question.  “What if this doesn’t work?”

“Be more specific,” Alex replied.

Stuart swallowed again, gaze on Alex’s lips, then his eyes.  He meant to say “Sex,” but what came out was, “Us.”

Despite sharing his worry with Daniel, Alex was suddenly not in the mood for doubts.  “We’ll have to see, but I’m not letting you get cold feet.” He brushed his lips over Stuart’s, smiling mischievously.  “Just curled toes.” Stuart’s answering kiss was swift and passion-filled.

 

.  .

 

Inside, Adriann and Talen exchanged smiles, though both their eyes were unfocused.  Daniel noticed, gazing between her perch by the window and Adriann’s place by the fireplace.

“Now what?” he asked Adriann as he knelt to add wood to the fire.

Adriann jerked his chin toward the back yard.  “They’re kissing.”

Jack’s head whipped around at the words.  “What?”

“Well fuck me running,” Jason chuckled as he started to get up from the sofa.  Sam and Janet, sitting on the window-side sofa with Teal’c, tittered over the phrase.

Jack held out his hand, stopping Jason.  “You remember what first times are like.  Audiences aren’t appreciated.”

Jason stared back at him, then eased back into the cushions and grinned knowingly.  “If you could get away with it, you’d be spying.”

“We’re not talking about me,” Jack shot back, his mouth twitching with amusement.

“We’re not talking about me, either,” Jason returned.

Jack caught an expression on Teal’c’s face.  “What?”

“I have noticed that many people discuss the relationships of other people.” He pointedly refused to look at Sam and Janet.

Jack stared back at him, the smirk on his face displaying his doubt.  “They didn’t on Chulak?”

Sam began to drum her fingers on her knee, a display Daniel recognized as her standard nervousness.  Given the slight frown on Teal’c’s brow, he guessed why the Jaffa had made the observation.  Before Teal’c responded to Jack’s question, Daniel said to him, “I think Teal’c believes we talk about him and Sam.”

Sam pretended to find something interesting on the side of her glass. 

Jack smirked at his teammates.  “Relax.  You’re too boring to talk about.”

Janet started laughing as Sam threw Teal’c a look that warned him against a rebuttal.  When she looked back at Jack, she said, “Ditto.”

Jack opened his mouth to argue but realized he didn’t want anyone talking about his relationship either, so he let it go.  Daniel smiled at him as he turned and sat down on the floor, his back to the fire, and Jack found it irritating that he couldn’t read what it meant.  “What?”

“Nothing.”

Jack stared at him, considering whether or not to start a small argument.  As Daniel met his gaze and held it, however, there came a rush of warmth that had nothing to do with the heat from the fireplace and Jack realized that Daniel was silently challenging the ‘boring’ rebuttal.  “Later then.”

Daniel gave him a single nod, his gaze traveling from Jack to Jason to …  Jalen.  He lifted a brow and grinned, making Jack look over at Jason and Jalen, frowning with confusion because he had no idea what Daniel was thinking about.  He wanted to ask, but had the overwhelming feeling that now was not the time.  He’d decode it after the others went home.

Silence filled the room for a few long minutes before Talen finally broke it up.  “Fascinating,” she said, surprising everyone.  She’d been quiet most of the evening, preoccupied with the strangeness of her newly pierced ears.  At present, she was peeking through the blinds covering the back window, one hand absently rubbing her ear.

In a show of brotherly bossiness, Adriann walked over and touched her hand, pulling it away from her ear.  “Cease.”

She shot him a disdainful look and went back to fiddling.  “Get your ears pierced,” she muttered, preoccupied.

“Why are you staring out of the window?” Jack asked, looking over his shoulder.  “If you want to pry–“

“Like we did,” Daniel grinned.

“Doesn’t your telepathy do that for you?” Jack finished, throwing a look at Daniel.

Talen looked over her shoulder at him.  “Added visuals are nice.”

Jack could only smirk.  “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  Privacy, remember?”

“Yes,” Adriann said, turning away, giving Jack a long look as he settled on the arm of the couch next to Jason.  “Stuart seems to be more concerned about it than the rest of you.” He shot a look at Teal’c and Sam.  “With a few exceptions.”

Teal’c nodded back, and rather than respond in kind, Sam tried to deflect any focus from their relationship.  “What’s fascinating, Talen?” she asked, giving Jack a challenging look as she spoke.  “I’m sure you’ve seen men kiss before.”

“Indeed,” Daniel and Teal’c intoned, and laughter rippled through the room as they looked at each other and grinned.

Talen turned away from the window and walked over to the sofa Jason and Jalen shared, intending to sit next to the latter.  But Jalen moved to the arm and invited her to sit between them.  Jason grinned and patted the cushion, earning a slap on the side of his knee as she sat down.  “It’s fascinating because it is Stuart,” she said, directing her words to Sam.  “He is very …”

“Reserved?” Daniel offered.

Talen tilted her head, searching for the right word.  “No.  Restricted.”

Jack jogged his brows and gave Daniel a sidelong look before meeting Talen’s gaze.  “He’ll get over it sooner or later.”

Talen smiled.  “With my family’s help, it would be sooner.”

“Not if Alex has anything to say about it,” Jason said, referring to Alex’s tendency toward jealousy.  “And we don’t yet know how Stuart is, so let’s maintain a low profile for now and leave them be.”

“Agreed,” Talen said as she gave him a wicked smile …  then winked at her brother.

Adriann cleared his throat as the back door opened and the two men entered.  They looked a bit guilty, and ordinarily, Adriann would have delighted in it, but he sensed resistance from Daniel, so he decided to deflect attention instead.  “You’re just in time for gift exchanges.”

“So it is,” Daniel replied quickly, and gestured for Stuart and Alex to grab a seat on the floor as he tried to pretend that they’d all been talking about something else.

 

.  .  .

 

Talen sensed some reservation from Sam as she followed her and Teal’c into the house.  The couple had been talking about their gifts during the drive home, but the conversation waned the moment they arrived home.  She didn’t sense any need for privacy, and she knew that Sam was aware of how long her nightly ‘walks’ took.  Refraining from searching their minds for the answer, Talen followed them into the kitchen and watched as Sam put away the leftovers Jack had given her.

“What is on your mind?” she asked, deciding she couldn’t wait for Sam to explain.

Sam glanced at Teal’c, then turned with a guilty expression.  “We’re gonna be heading out tomorrow instead of waiting till the day after.”

Making a quick assumption, Talen raised a brow.  “Since your General Hammond does not wish me or my brother to be on our own, you wish me to seek shelter elsewhere.”

“No!” Sam said quickly.  “I just didn’t want to surprise you by having you stay here by yourself for another day.” Sam paused, the guilt increasing.  “Just remember to tell the General that you stayed with Jason.”

Talen relaxed and smiled at her.  “I will not forget, and I will be fine on my own.”

Sam nodded automatically and after a moment’s hesitation, gave her brows a twist expressing curiosity.  “If you don’t mind, where do you go on your walks?”

Talen smiled.  “Places where there are a lot of interesting people.”

Teal’c’s brows shot up in surprise.  “Those places are more than a few miles away.”

“I enjoy the exercise,” Talen replied.

“But aren’t you freezing?” Sam asked.  “Maybe I should give you extra money so you can call a taxi.  The buses don’t run late at night.”

“Thank you but that will not be necessary.  The cold does not affect me much.”

“Oh,” Sam said, chewing at her lip.  She suddenly wondered what Talen meant by ‘interesting people’.  “Do you, you know, feed?”

Talen’s smile turned reassuring.  “Yes.  And to ease your worry, I will not bring anyone here while you are gone.”

“No, I didn’t think you would.  It’s just that this place at night can be a bit dangerous if you don’t know–“

Talen held up her hand as she walked over to Sam and gave her a hug.  “I am in no danger,” she said, pulling back.  Then smiled, showing a slight lengthening of her fangs.  “Trust me.”

Sam smiled.  “Sorry.  I keep forgetting that you’re like your brother.”

Talen returned the smile, guessing Sam’s comment was about more than just protection.  “You need not worry.  I have not, and will not, attract attention.”

“I know.  Just do me a favor?”

“Anything.”

“You haven’t been here long.  Telepathy or no telepathy, there are some nasty people out there who could blindside you if you’re not expecting it.  So please be careful anyway?”

Talen put her arm around her and winked at them both.  “You have my word.”

 

.  .

 

Alex had already gone out to warm up the car and Stuart paused at the open front door to say goodbye.  He clasped Jack’s hand.  “Fantastic evening, mate.”

Jack grinned back, returning the firm grip before he let go.  Judging by the expression on Stuart’s face, he was embarrassed that everyone seemed to know what had happened in the backyard.  Well, how could they not?  It wasn’t like they’d hid in the bushes, for cryin’ out loud.

“Have a safe trip and Merry Christmas,” Jack told him.

“Happy Christmas,” Stuart said, and he looked like he wanted to say something else, but he just waved as he walked out the door.

If it weren’t freezing outside, Jack would have watched them leave, just to make the man more nervous than he already was.  Probably can’t wait to get laid, he thought as he closed the door.

On the heels of that thought, Jack turned around to find Daniel closing in on him.  Arms wrapping around his neck, he kissed him softly and Jack couldn’t help but return the affection.

“What was that for?” he asked.

Daniel gave him a mock-scowl.  “I need a reason?”

“No,” Jack drawled, “but you’re leaving instead of staying, so–“

Daniel cocked his head toward the hallway.  “Jason’s having a little chat with his brother.  Care to share your thoughts about what they’re discussing?” He didn’t need to know what they were discussing.  Jason had already told him, mostly to get his opinion, but obliquely, to get his permission.  It wasn’t necessary, but Daniel appreciated the head’s up.  He was actually turned on by the idea and almost wished he could be there.  But like Jack, he was wondering what Jason would be doing for the night.  It wasn’t that Jason needed to have company, but with almost everyone paired off, it seemed a little unfair.  He was also feeling the fiery urge to take Jason home with Adriann.

I would not mind.

Daniel rolled his eyes.  You could always let me ask you first.  Out loud.

I apologize.

“Stop that,” Jack scolded.

Daniel blinked, refocusing on Jack with a guilty look.  “He popped in my head.  Seemed rude not to answer.” Jack’s warning stare made Daniel grin.  “Sorry.”

Jack looked over Daniel’s shoulder to give Adriann the same scolding look.  “Do you mind?”

Adriann turned away with a grin on his face, making Jack growl in his throat as he looked back into Daniel’s eyes.  “Where were we?”

Daniel smiled, feeling the need to provoke.  “Are you considering it?”

Jack slowly pulled out of his arms, hating the fact that this was feeling more and more like he was being set up.  “You against it?” he asked as he began to clean up the refuse of paper plates and ripped wrapping paper.

Daniel reached out and took his arm, stepping in to close off the distance Jack had created.  “No,” he said softly, serious now.  “I just don’t want you doing it just to please Jason.”

Hands full, Jack threw him a chiding look instead of backslapping his lover’s shoulder.  “You actually think I would?”

Daniel knew he wouldn’t the second Jack asked.  “No,” he sighed, but something still felt off.  “You just seem …  ambivalent.”

“Not ambivalent.  Just …  I feel like the guy who’s waiting for his buddies to pay for the whore.”

Daniel gawped at him, surprised.  “You know you’re not being set up like that.”

Jack narrowed his eyes.  “Then stop hovering and leave, Daniel.” He swiftly kissed him, then pushed him away.  “Go grab Jason and I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Looking sheepish, Daniel kissed him back then stepped past him and headed for the door.  “Jason!” he called out as he glanced over his shoulder at Adriann, making sure he was following.  “We’re leaving!  I want you to come with!”

 

.  .

 

Exchanging looks of surprise with his brother, Jason grinned.  “The master has spoken.  Guess that settles that.”

“Guess so,” Jalen replied, his eyes sparkling as he gave him a wicked grin.

Jason threw him a warning look as he called out, “In a sec!” He knew what the grin meant; Jalen had just been sharing a fantasy wish to be with Daniel, too, though he hadn’t been that serious–even if he’d meant it.  Lowering his voice, Jason grabbed his brother by the shoulder and squeezed.  “Told you I’d find somewhere to be.”

“Don’t think you have much choice,” Jalen teased.

Jason smiled.  “When it comes to Daniel and Jack, I don’t mind.  Besides, we take turns being bossy.”

Jalen nodded, his gaze resting on the bed before turning back to Jason.  “Who’s bossier?”

Jason chuckled as he opened the door.  “Depends on the subject.” To his surprise, Daniel and Adriann were already outside, heading for the Jeep.  “Jesus Christ, Daniel!  Where’s the hurry?” he yelled out the door.  Turning to Jack, he gently grasped him by the back of the neck and kissed him.  “Love you.”

“Love you back,” Jack replied, kissing him again before pushing him out the door.  “Go.  It’s freezing in here.”

When he shut the door, he turned to find Jalen leaning a shoulder against the wall, arms crossed, with a smirk on his face.

“You guys are so cute.”

Jack gestured at the living room mess.  “Make yourself useful,” he said, and pointedly tried to ignore the sole reason for Jalen remaining behind as he walked past him to grab a garbage bag from pantry.  Jalen remained where he was, watching him.  Flecks of gold were showing in his eyes and Jack halted on his way back.

“What’s with your eyes?” he asked, staring.  “You pissed off about something?”

“No.  Does it bother you?” Jalen asked, taking the garbage bag from Jack.

Jack considered the question as he stared, examining his eyes.  “No.  Just never seen that except when you’re hacked off.”

Jalen dropped the garbage bag behind him, and it floated to the back of one of the sofas.  “Happens when I’m excited …  one way or the other.”

Jack considered whether or not Jalen was playing Alpha or simply letting him know that sex was on his mind.  If he was playing Alpha, it was a bit disconcerting.  He was used to Jason’s aggressive submissiveness; he was almost always the bottom, preferring to ‘take point’.  Jack had no idea what Jalen preferred, and it bothered him.  He was such an enigma, unlike Jason.  Hell, his eyes made that much obvious.

Jack dropped his gaze to Jalen’s lips, the dark goatee that surrounded them, and a curiosity rose about how that hair would feel around his dick.  Clearing his throat, he looked away and headed down into the living room.  “Wanna give me a hand here?”

It wasn’t his style, being coy.  At least, not since he’d been with Daniel and Jason; Jason’s intuitive nature had made it difficult and Daniel had known him too damn well beforehand.  Not that Jack could or would complain, though sometimes he wished he could still play coy just to make them work for it.  Was he doing it now, subconsciously?  Or maybe his desire for Jalen was filled with that sense of the unknown.  Jack tended to skirt around such instances, seeking to surround and watch from a distance, provoking the other person into making the first move; like an infantry unit walking into unknown territory.

Plus, Jack had an intense desire to draw this out.  Foreplay in all its forms.  One of the things Jack loved was playing games.  Sure, he liked the direct approach for most things, including sex, but there were times where play had advantages.  Role play, for example.  He loved having that occasional ‘out’ with Daniel and Jason.  While playing coy was hardly role playing, it still afforded a measure of uniqueness, to behave anew.

The room was heavy with silence, Jack realized.  The only sounds were that of cleaning up.  He wondered what Jalen was thinking, wondered if he should say anything himself while having company.  But Jack liked silence and he stubbornly, egotistically decided that Jalen should get used to his quirks.

That thought made the presumption that being alone with Jalen would happen again, though not necessarily for sex.

Trash gathered, room cleaned, Jack twisted the bag closed and pursed his lips as he looked around.  When his eyes rested on Jalen, a slight, sardonic grin pulled at the right side of his mouth.  “Thanks.”

“No problem,” Jalen replied.  “Where’re the cans?”

“Side of the house,” Jack answered, pointing at the far living room wall.

Jalen held his hand out.  “Allow me.”

Jack stared into his eyes, still flecked with gold, and handed over the bag.  He waited and watched him walk out the back door before he turned and headed into the kitchen.  There wasn’t much of a mess, just a few dishes to put in the fridge and the dishwasher.  As he mechanically worked, his mind went elsewhere.  In the forefront of his mind were the gold flecks, but they soon gave way to an underlying rise of ego.  Or lack thereof: Jalen had no problem finding partners.  Younger partners.  Why him?

Suddenly a memory popped into his head that made him chuckle with self-deprecation.  It wasn’t a happy memory, but for the sarcasm he’d used.  It was years ago, when Hathor had chosen him for snakedom.  He’d shot her his wry “What, the gray doesn’t bother you?” comment, something that hadn’t required two synapses to say but just flew out of his mouth without thinking.  It was inappropriate to think of now and it had nothing whatsoever to do with the moment, but his words were still apropos.  Even worse, there’d been times when he’d internally asked the same question of Daniel and Jason.

Doesn’t the gray bother them?

“What’s funny?” Jalen asked as he walked in and headed to the sink.

Jack looked over his shoulder as he closed the dishwasher, watching him wash his hands.  Pushing the start button, he put a hand on his hip and adopted what Daniel called his puzzle expression.  As in, the need to take one apart and put it back together.

“My strange sense of humor,” he replied.

As Jalen dried his hands with a paper towel, he returned the studied look on Jack’s face.  “Something’s on your mind.  Care to share?”

“Just …” Jack began, wondering if he should verbalize his thoughts, then abruptly said to hell with caution.  “Wondering what you’re doing here.” When Jalen’s brows shot up in surprise, assuming rejection, Jack hastily added, “I mean, why me?”

“Should I go?” Jalen asked defensively.

“Don’t do that,” Jack said, waving a hand in irritation.  “Answer the question.”

Jalen sighed, feeling just as irritated.  It didn’t remove the ardor he was feeling; Jack simply had the knack for causing annoyance.  “Why not you?” he side-stepped.  When Jack gave him an impatient look, Jalen felt a perverse need to be just as abrupt.  “Is it your dick that needs stroking or your ego?”

A slow smile spread across Jack’s face.  “Both probably.”

Jalen remembered Jason’s warning from their discussion in the bedroom: “When Jack smiles at you, any disagreement you may have–and trust me, there will be one–will start to evaporate.  Stay on point or you’ll let him win any argument with that damn sexy smile.”

Jalen couldn’t help smiling as he remembered, and it was Jack’s turn to ask the question.  “What’s funny?”

Jalen slowly shook his head as he chose his words carefully.  “Just a warning Jason gave me about your disarming smile.”

“Disarming?” Jack asked, filing that away for future use.

Ignoring the question, Jalen had his own.  “My turn to ask you a question.”

“You never answered mine,” Jack said, waving a beckoning hand.

Jalen grinned mischievously.  “Fair enough.  The answer is because you’re sexy and I want you.”

Jack could feel the heat rising between them simply by the knowledge of that answer.  This was the kind of beginning foreplay he liked: the play of words.  One day he’d tell Daniel that, though he probably already knew.  Sometimes, there was simply no need for words.

Now, however, was not one of them.  “Ask.”

“Why did you agree to be with me?”

Jack lifted a brow as he threw him a crooked grin.  “Because you’re sexy and I want you?”

Jalen smirked at him.  “Do better.”

Jack’s grin turned into respectful surprise.  “Aren’t we the cocky one.”

Jalen took a step toward him, and in the process, felt the palms of his hands tingle with anticipation.  “Ditto.  Now answer my question.”

“What do you want to hear?” Jack asked softly, though the intensity in his eyes belied the tone.  “That you look like Jason, but for the hair, the goatee, the leaner muscle …  the eyes?”

Jalen grinned.  “Back to the eyes again.”

“You want another answer?”

“Not really, just making sure.”

“Satisfied with the Q and A or do you want to know something else?”

“No,” Jalen answered, having already guessed at Jack’s reason.  “But there’s one difference you left out.  Perhaps on purpose.”

“What’s that?” Jack asked.

Jalen reached out and took Jack’s hand as he took another step and closed the distance between them.  With his eyes on Jack’s, he raised his hand to his open mouth and grazed the fleshy part of his palm before settling on the inside of the wrist.  There he lengthened his canines enough to barely scratch the skin.  “This.” He then turned his attention to Jack’s wrist as he closed his eyes and kissed it with his mouth open, tongue lightly pressing against the veins there.

Jack felt his dick respond and it surprised him.  Was it because of his teeth, or the soft facial hair on his skin?  Staring at him, feeling a flutter in his stomach combine with intense curiosity, he swallowed.  “Do you need it like the others?”

“Janet tells me I require it, but it doesn’t feel like normal hunger,” Jalen finally answered as he drew his mouth away and met Jack’s eyes.

“What does it feel like?” Jack had to ask, moving his gaze from eyes to lips and back again.

Jalen’s pupils grew.  “Want.”

“You feel that now?” Jack asked, half-hoping the answer was no.

Jalen’s smile was coy.  “I will,” he said.  Watching Jack stare at his lips, his teeth, into his eyes, he leaned in slowly.

Jack held his breath as their lips met, and the moment the soft hair touched him, he felt an unused hunger rise up.  The kiss had been gentle, almost tentative, but he immediately wanted more the moment his tongue met Jalen’s.  No longer able to keep any margin of distance between them, Jack pulled Jalen against him and felt the man’s hand separating them as he unbuttoned his shirt.

“Here’s another difference,” Jalen murmured between kisses and he led Jack’s hand to his chest–and the fine hair there.

The only sound Jack made was a puff of air through his nose as he pushed aside the open shirt and cupped a pectoral muscle, thumbing the nipple erect.

Jalen moaned and pulled back, heart hammering and breathing shallow.  “I think it’s time we went to the bedroom, don’t you?”

“So the Q and A is definitely over?” Jack asked as he squeezed the hard muscle.

“Until we need to ask something while we’re having sex.  Do you have any questions?”

Jack rubbed his lips together, liking the slight tingling the goatee left behind.  “Top or bottom?”

Knowing this would create an Alpha issue between them, Jalen said, “Top.  You?”

“Top,” Jack replied.  Then smiled.

Jalen felt the insides of his thighs match his palms.  “I sense a wrestling match coming on.”

Jack’s smile broadened.  “What a lovely idea.”

He led him to the bedroom, and once clothes were shed and they lay next to each other, Jack found himself preoccupied with two things: the feel of Jalen’s silky goatee on his skin and the touch of dick in his hand.  The latter was more surprising because it was bigger than Jack remembered during their time with Baal–and subsequently wished that memory would conveniently disappear.

“Is this part of the change?” he asked, taking his dick in hand, and caressing him.

“No,” Jalen said as he inhaled the scent of Jack’s neck.

Jack rolled them over and thrust provocatively, biting along the collarbone.  “Just wondered.  Doesn’t matter anyway.  We’re well-matched.” Surprising him, Jalen rolled them over again, then began to make his way down his body, the goatee and long hair tickling him in a way that he loved.

“I think we should take turns,” Jalen said, voice muffled between Jack’s legs.

Jack threaded his hands through his lover’s hair and closed his eyes.  “Doing what?”

“Getting fucked,” Jalen said before he swallowed him.

It took Jack a moment to answer, preoccupied with the hair against his cock.  Finally, he pulled away and turned them over again, hand once more on Jalen’s cock as he maneuvered between his legs.  “That’s an even better idea.  But first …” As he went down, discovering more hair trailing a line to his goal, Jack wondered if he could convince Jason not to shave until after the holidays.  Then he thought about stubble burn and decided against it.  Jason’s smoothness was something he relished, and while experiencing this difference with Jalen was nice, he realized it was Jason’s lack of hair that he preferred.

For now, however, he intended to indulge in that difference.  Loving the way the man growled and writhed under his touch, he licked a wet trail over the sensitive crease between groin and hip.  “Do you share the same bondage kink Jason does?”

Jalen grabbed at Jack’s shoulders, pulling at him.  “Come back up here and find out.”

“I’m not finished,” Jack said, looking up at him as he teased him with his tongue.

Jalen smiled at him, allowing his canines to lengthen just a bit.  “Come on, Jack.  Try to tame the wild boy.”

 

.  .

 

Adriann didn’t say a word, not aloud nor in his mind, but Daniel still had a pretty good idea what he was planning after they arrived at his house.

“Got any of that Mike’s left?” Jason asked after hanging up his jacket and heading into the kitchen.

“Yeah, help yourself,” Daniel replied.  He turned to Adriann, giving him a conspiratorial look as the vampire began to unbutton his tunic.  “Care to let me in on your plans?”

Adriann slid a hand behind Daniel’s neck and pulled him in for a firm kiss.  “I think you already know.” He then released him and quickly strode into the kitchen.  His steps were silent, stalking, predatory, and just before Jason twisted off the top of the bottle in his hand, he moved in behind him, enveloped him in his arms, and planted his lips at his neck.  Fangs poised.  “Hello,” he said roughly.

Jason inhaled sharply and hurriedly put the bottle on the counter next to the fridge before he could drop it.  “Hungry, are we?” he gasped as he shut the fridge and planted his hands against the door.

Adriann pulled him away, turning him to face Daniel, who stepped in front, trapping Jason between them.  “For everything, I think,” Daniel murmured, then kissed him hard as sharp incisors sliced into his flesh.

 

 

As Daniel walked into Jack’s kitchen, he stopped, appreciating the rear view of the man in the Air Force t-shirt and boxers making coffee.  “Nice ass,” he said with a smile.

Jack glanced over his shoulder and continued with the coffee maker.  “Good morning to you, too.” With a quick glance at the oven clock, he added, “Almost afternoon.” Looking over his shoulder a little longer, he didn’t see Jason or Adriann.  “Where’s–“

“At my house, sleeping.  Jalen?”

“Left for Jason’s half an hour ago.  Jason still there?”

“Nope,” Daniel said as he walked up behind Jack and put his arms around him.  “He’s in the bathroom, taking a leak.  So how was last night?”

Jack covered Daniel’s arms with his own, grinning crookedly.  “Different.”

Daniel nodded.  “You know what today is?”

Jack’s grin turned sarcastic.  “The 22nd?”

“And?” Daniel asked, resting his chin on Jack’s shoulder.

Jack turned his head toward him, rubbing his cheek against Daniel’s.  “And …  starting today, we have two and half days’ abstinence before Christmas Eve.”

Daniel sighed.  “As we agreed.”

Jack squeezed his arms pointedly.  “That includes Adriann.”

Daniel smiled and squeezed back.  “I know.”

Jack inhaled deeply against his neck and let silence grow between them before he asked, “Any plans today?”

“I figured I’d show Adriann and Talen a bit more of our insane planet.  At least, locally.”

“Am I invited?” Jack asked, knowing he was.

“What do you think?” When Jack leaned into him, Daniel growled in his ear and released him, stepping away.  “Tease.”

“I can’t help it,” Jack replied.

“Try to resist anyway,” Daniel warned with a mock-glare.  When Jason walked in, heading straight for Jack, Daniel rolled his eyes.  “Just say hello, Jason.”

“Hello Jason,” Jason replied as he kissed Jack on the cheek.  Ignoring Daniel, he winked at Jack.  “Okay, let’s have it.”

“Have what?”

“Your snarky little comments about comparisons.”

Jack winked back as he finished the coffee.  “I’ll hold back this one time.”

Jason sighed and leaned against the counter, looking from Jack to Daniel and back again.  Just looking at the two of them and considering their two-day abstinence made his balls itch.  Clearing his throat, he pushed away from the counter and headed for the exit, giving Daniel a meaningful look as he passed.  “Think I’ll go hang out with Jalen.  I’ll call you later.”

“Chicken,” Jack called after him.

“Damn straight,” Jason called back.

Daniel sighed wistfully.  “Wish we had someone to hang out with that we weren’t tempted by.”

“Could always call Carter and Teal’c,” Jack said, then made a face.  “Crap, I forgot.  They’re leaving today.”

“Should get a call soon,” Daniel said, walking over to get a mug from the cupboard.  With another warning look at Jack, he added, “We can easily behave ourselves.” Jack smiled at him.  It was that kind of smile that made the back of his knees ache.  Groaning, Daniel said, “Think maybe I’ll ask Talen to stay over as bodyguard.”

“With me or you?” Jack asked.

“Me.  I don’t trust her with you.”

Jack chuckled.  “We can solve that.  Adriann can stay with me.”

“No,” Daniel rebuffed.  “Bastard would just end up seducing you.”

Jack’s brow rose.  “And you don’t think I could resist?”

Daniel raised a brow back.  “Hell no.  Don’t trust either of you, right now.”

“That’s not a very nice thing to say,” Jack teased.

“No, but it’s accurate,” Daniel smirked.  “The only real solution here is to have Adriann stay with Talen at Sam’s and you, Jason, and I stay in our respective homes.  Alone.”

Jack jogged his brows again.  “I’m gonna assume you mean at night, because while I can go without for two days, I’m not prepared to be bored for that long.”

Daniel snorted out a laugh.  “God forbid you should ever be bored, Jack.”

“Bad things happen,” Jack warned, making Daniel laugh more.

“Can’t have that,” he replied, then winked at Jack on purpose.  “Not till Wednesday anyway.”

“Now who’s being a tease?”

 

 

The holiday, with all its music and decoration, never really hit Daniel until Christmas Eve.  In the last ten years, it was more keenly felt when they were offworld.  While he’d never been a big celebrant, being on another planet always felt wrong.  This year, they were home, and the anticipation felt just as distracting and nerve-wracking.  It was his and Jack’s ten-year anniversary with the SGC.  In two years, it would be that for Jason.

Standing in the kitchen, leaning against the counter, Daniel sighed and took a sip of his morning coffee, thinking about all the things they had been through, all the things that had changed, both in themselves and toward each other.  Ten years ago, he’d have scoffed at the mere idea of being involved in a poly relationship, never believing you could be in love with two people.  Now, he couldn’t imagine a moment without Jack and Jason in his life.

That thought led him to think of Adriann and he snorted with amusement.  He’d never in a billion years could have come up with that one, a scenario that vampires were real and that he’d be involved with one, never mind it being in addition to his relationship with Jack and Jason.

To his right, the wall phone rang, startling him out of his thoughts.  Reaching over and picking up, he read the Caller ID, Sam, and grinned.  “Speak of the devil,” he answered.

“Am I the devil now?” Adriann replied, his tone teasing.

Daniel rolled his eyes.  “Figure of speech.”

“In what sense?” Adriann asked, now curious.

“Jesus, of all the things not to pick up in my mind.” He then snorted at his own pun.

“Sorry, but my ability to read your mind doesn’t include communication devices.”

Daniel laughed.  “No, I meant …  oh never mind.  Good morning.”

Adriann laughed in return.  “Good morning.  How are you on this holiday?”

“Thoughtful,” Daniel automatically said.

“Indeed,” came the response.  “Care to elaborate, or were you simply thinking of Jack and Jason in a general sense?”

“How’d you know I was …” Daniel shook his head.  “Never mind.  Was thinking of them in general, though more specifically about being home and it being ten years since I joined SG-1.”

There was a pause and Daniel could’ve sworn that Adriann was laughing.  Or snorting.  He’d started to adopt Daniel’s mannerisms.

“What?” Daniel asked.

“I keep forgetting that ten years is a long time for humans.”

Daniel smiled.  “And it’s what for you?”

“What’s that phrase?  Drop in the …?”

“Bucket.”

“Bucket, yes.  It is still a long time, but more like a year for you.”

“You’d think in that measurement of time, you’d have developed patience.”

“I never said it was an easy drop in the bucket.”

Daniel smiled, started to reply, but was interrupted by the beep of an incoming call.  It was Jack.  “Hang on, Jack’s calling.”

“Very well,” Adriann said with mock-annoyance.

“Morning, you,” Daniel said as he clicked a button.

“Morning,” Jack replied, then yawned, making Daniel imagine him sitting on the bed in his shorts.

“You just wake up?”

“Practically.”

“Got your coffee yet?”

“Yep, can do that in my sleep.”

“I know, I’ve seen you.”

“How about you, wise ass?”

“Yep.  And talking to Adriann on the other line.”

“He can wait.”

Daniel chuckled.  “Jealous much?”

“You’re goddamn right.  What time are you coming over?”

“You know what time, Jack,” Daniel grinned.  “Sunset.” Jack made a growling noise.  “Fiveish.” Jack started to respond, but his words were blanked out as the phone beeped again.  With a frown, Daniel looked at the ID and made a loud snort.  It was Jason.

“What?” Jack asked.

Daniel had no idea what he’d said.  “Sorry.  Jason’s calling.”

“He can wait, too,” Jack mumbled, clearly speaking while taking a drink of his coffee.

“No,” Daniel drawled.  “Hang on.” Another click and he answered, “Hey you.”

“Morning.  Did I catch you in the bathroom?”

“No.  Jack’s on the other line.  And Adriann.”

Jason made a rude noise.  “I thought he was staying at Sam’s?”

“He is.  He’s also on hold.”

That made Jason laugh.  “Busy boy this morning.”

Daniel sighed as he tried to picture Jason on the phone.  “And talking about coffee.  Had yours?”

“In my hand.”

Daniel smiled and didn’t respond right away as his mind went directly into the gutter.

“Don’t go there so early.”

“It’s not early.  It’s after ten.”

“It’s early compared to when I’ll see you.”

“Jack was just asking about that.”

“About what?”

“When I’ll be over.”

“Tell me he didn’t forget.”

“Unlikely.  He’s just impatient.”

“When isn’t he?”

“Hang on.  I’m gonna tell Adriann I’ll call him right back.”

“Tell you what.  Call me back when you’re done with Jack.”

“Kinky.”

“Shut up,” Daniel laughed, clicking a button.  “Jack?”

“What?”

“Hang on.  I’ll tell Adriann I’ll call him back.”

“What about Jason?”

“Him too.”

Before Jack could reply with more sarcasm, Daniel clicked him on hold and answered the other line.  “Adriann?”

“Waiting with this thing over my ear is annoying.”

“I know, I’m sorry.  Hang up and I’ll call you back as soon as I’m through with Jack.”

“That gives me interesting images.”

Chuckling, Daniel said, “Talk to you in a bit,” and hung up the call.  “Jack?”

“Still waiting,” Jack replied gruffly.

“Not that long,” Daniel said.

“Funny, that’s not what you said the first–“

“Okay, stop.  I’ve already had to put up with that with Jason.”

“Why, what he’d say?”

“Never you mind.”

“Trust me, I never mind.”

“Jack,” Daniel drawled with barely-disguised annoyance.

“Daniel,” Jack answered back.

Daniel knew he was smiling, the little shit.  He also knew he had to change the subject or Jack would get worse.  “So, Jalen will be with Adriann and Talen for the next day and a half.”

“Yeah, and?”

And …  I don’t know,” Daniel replied, hating that he hadn’t a snappy answer ready.

There was a gravid pause before Jack said, “Leave the worrying to Jalen.  It’s our time.”

Daniel grinned at the proprietary tone and suddenly thought of another sidetracking subject.  “What’d you get me?”

“A straight-jacket.”

“Aww, that’s so thoughtful.”

“Isn’t it?  Took me months to get one tailored.”

“Oh my god, Jack!  You shouldn’t have.”

“I couldn’t resist.  You know I’m just a romantic at heart.”

“What’s it look like?  Is it the common white variety?”

“Nope, not saying.  I’ve already spoiled the surprise.  So what’d you get me?”

Daniel bit his lip as he grinned his head off.  “Books.”

“Books?”

“And I couldn’t decide so I ended up getting you two.”

“And they are?”

“‘The Idiot’s Guide to Fishing’ and ‘Vacation Spots for Tropical Rain Forest Enthusiasts’.”

There was another heavy pause before Jack said, “I lied.  I didn’t get you a straight-jacket.”

“You lied?  Shame on you, Jack.”

“I actually got you every book and article written by Budge.”

“Now that’s just mean,” Daniel said, trying to sound offended and failing.  It was difficult to do when you knew it was a game.  On the other hand, Jack was the type to buy him a ‘joke’ present on top of a real one.

“What’d you really get me?” Jack asked.

“You don’t really expect me to tell you, do you?”

“No more than you’d expect me to tell you.”

“Damn.”

“Any other questions?”

“Did you call me just to tease?”

“Yes.  What’re you wearing?”

Chuckling, Daniel said, “Bye, Jack,” and hung up, then immediately hit the speed dial for Jason.

“King Herod’s Pornography Shop and Quilting Center.”

Daniel burst out laughing and heard Jason’s breathy chuckle in response.  “I was wondering if I could place a rather large order for Rhino horn powder.”

“I’m sorry, sir.  The animal lovers forced the government to seize our supply.”

“Damn.  A case of Absinthe?”

“Real or the fake stuff?”

“Real.”

“Sorry, only available outside the U.S.”

“Really?  Well that sucks.  How about Ephedra herb?”

“Nope, the government bowed to the coffee growers’ monopoly on stimulants so now that’s banned.”

“Crap.  What about cocaine?”

“Now you’re talking!  That we have.  Just got a huge supply from Columbia.”

“Great, I’ll take a kilo.”

“Very well, sir.  Anything else?”

“What do you have in the way of lubricants?”

Plain or stimulative?

“The latter,” Daniel said, trying so hard not to laugh.

“Warming or tingling, gel or liquid?”

“Um, warming gel.”

“Excellent.  We have a sale on it.  Buy five, get three free.”

“Great, I’ll take it.”

“Anything else?”

“Do you personally deliver?”

“Yes we do.  Free shipping included, with special padding for the cocaine.”

“Could I get that delivered later today?”

“No, I’m sorry, but we can do overnight.”

“But tomorrow’s a holiday.”

“We’re Jewish, sir.”

For a second time, Daniel burst out laughing, unable to continue the pretense.  “You are such a goofy shit.”

“But I’m an adorable goofy shit.  That’s why you love me.”

“I knew there was a reason.”

Chuckling, Jason said, “I’ll see you later, Daniel,” and hung up.

Daniel stared at the phone’s ID plate and sighed at the hours spent waiting till they’d be together at Jack’s.  Immediately, he shook it off with long-used practice and hit the quick dial for Sam as he took his coffee and headed for the bathroom.

“How are Jack and Jason?” came Adriann’s response.

Momentarily taken aback, Daniel blurted out, “Normally, you say hello, but hey, good job reading the Caller ID.”

“It is not rocket science.”

At the unexpected use of the catchphrase, Daniel spit-taked into the bathroom sink, coughing afterward.

“Are you well?” Adriann asked.

With choked and harsh voice, Daniel said, “Yeah, fine,” and cleared his throat.  “I was drinking my coffee when you said that.”

“Was it unusual for me to say that?”

“Well, yeah.  I’m used to Jack or Sam saying it, not you.” When Adriann didn’t respond, Daniel had an idea that he’d been had.  “Okay, Adriann, very funny.” There came a small chuckle though the phone and he realized he was right.  Preferring to move on rather than let Adriann gloat some more, he said, “So, are you going to behave yourself for the next day and a half?”

“What do you mean by ‘behave myself’?”

“Don’t get into trouble,” Daniel said with a scolding tone.

“Ah.  I think I will endeavor not to get caught.”

Daniel let out a short chuckle.  “Not the answer I was looking for.”

“Let me rephrase.  I will not attract attention.  Neither will Talen.”

Rolling his eyes as he undressed one-handed, he remarked, “Still not reassured, but it’ll have to do since Jason’s already asked Jalen to make sure of that.”

Adriann laughed.  “What is it you call that?  Babysitting?”

Daniel snorted.  “That just sounds so wrong applied to you.  ‘Watching’ sounds better.”

There was a moment of silence before Adriann asked, “What are you doing?”

“Getting ready to take a shower.  What are you doing?”

“Nothing.  I’m bored.  I took a shower earlier.  I still can’t get used to your variation.”

“Backatcha,” Daniel grinned, “but at least we both have means.”

“Agreed.”

“Did Sam leave you her computer password?”

“No, should she have?”

“If she’d thought of it, and I forgot to tell her.  Point is, if you want to know about our history where vampires are concerned, you can do some research on the Internet.”

There was silence again as Adriann thought it over.  “You do have a point.”

“You shouldn’t be bored.  You may find it amusing, if not useful.”

“The password is for the computer on the desk by the living room window?”

“That’s the one.”

“Moving to it now.”

“Is it turned on?”

“No.”

Daniel gave him the instructions for getting it running and while they both waited, instructed him about using the mouse–and since Adriann was primarily left-handed, gave instructions for moving the mouse and pad.  Finally, the OS loading was finished, and Daniel told him to open the browser.  When that was done, the page that came up was for the Google search engine.

“You’ll have to get used to the keyboard since obviously it’s in Earth English, but once you’ve gotten use to that–“

“Daniel,” Adriann said with thinly-veiled patience.  “I am currently using your language, am I not?”

“Oh, right,” Daniel said, clearing his throat.  “Sorry.”

“Your mind is elsewhere,” Adriann stated.

Hearing the amusement in his voice, Daniel snorted into the receiver.  “Ya think?”

Adriann chuckled.  “It’s rare when I’m able to tease you.  Indulge me.”

“I already do that,” Daniel grinned.  “So quit acting like I don’t.”

Adriann was silent for a few long seconds before he said, “I know how important tonight and tomorrow are, so according to Earth custom, I’m allowed to tease you more than I usually get away with.”

Daniel laughed.  “Okay.  Now, back to the internet subject.” He waited a moment, grinning at the mock-impatient sigh.  “Type your search words into the outlined box next to the word ‘Go’.  For this subject, type in vampire, history, and myths, the click the ‘enter’ key.” He heard the tapping of keys, then silence as, presumably, the search page was loading.  “What do you have?”

“Many, many …  links, as they are called?”

“Yep.  You’ll have to go through them, but stay away from the ones with red circles next to the links.”

“Red circles?”

“Like me, Sam has her browser customized to warn for sites that have suspicious behavior.”

“What does that mean?”

“There are people who make computer viruses.  Some are minor and just annoying.  Some will crash the computer and make it inoperable.”

“That makes no sense.  How could anyone benefit from such tampering?”

“That’s a good question.  The paranoid or cynical person could say it’s the people who make and sell anti-virus software.”

Adriann made a clucking noise of disapproval.  “Seems greed and corruption travels far and wide.”

“It does,” Daniel nodded, and looked at the clock.  It was only ten after 11.  He wasn’t supposed to meet up at Jack’s for another few hours, and considering the prospect of waiting around that long, he was tempted to call Jack for an early day.

“Daniel?”

“What?”

Adriann sighed.  “You didn’t hear me.”

Daniel cringed.  “Um.  No.”

“Get Jason and go to Jack.  You three are going to be useless until you’re together.”

Daniel grinned.  “What about you?”

“I have survived at Sam’s, without your company, for two days, Daniel.  I believe I can manage.”

Unbidden came the image of Adriann’s fangs and his need to feed.  “What have you been doing about your little requirement?”

“Finding it.  With circumspection.”

Daniel wanted to ask, but didn’t.  He actually liked not knowing.  “You have the cellphone I gave you charged?”

“Yes,” Adriann drawled.

“Okay.  Make sure Talen has hers charged, too.”

“I will.”

Daniel pictured Adriann going out without him and his stomach fluttered, both out of concern that he’d be seen and disappointment that he couldn’t be there to watch.  “Do me a favor and stay out of trouble.”

“I think I covered that with my use of the word ‘circumspection’.”

Daniel smirked at the tone.  It wasn’t just sarcastic, it was filled with mischief.  “I will worry anyway.”

“I know.”

“I’ll call you tomorrow, but if anything comes up …”

“Goodbye, Daniel.  Have a good time.”

“You too.  But not too good.  I mean, you know, just–“

“Goodbye, Daniel.”

Adriann hung up before Daniel could say anything else.  He stared at the phone and considered calling him back, but what would be the point?  Adriann was right.  He had other things on his mind.  After putting the phone back in the cradle, he looked around as he rubbed his palms against his jeans, thinking over his to-do list for anything he left undone.  The gifts were wrapped and in a bag by the door, so he really had nothing else to do except get dressed and hang around doing makeshift time-wasting for a few hours.

He could watch a movie.  He could read.  But frankly, he didn’t want to do either.  And as if on cue, his mind went directly to the place he’d been trying to ignore: leaving right now, picking up Jason, and arriving at Jack’s.  It would definitely be a surprise.  A good one.  But when he thought about what came next, he knew full well that he’d find Jack in the middle of gift-wrapping.  The man always saved that for the last damned minute.

Well too fucking bad.  Without a single rebellious second thought, Daniel grabbed the phone and quick-dialed.

“What?” came Jack’s answer, the word drawn out.

“I’m not waiting.  I’m grabbing Jason and coming over.”

There was a pause, during which Daniel imagined Jack grinning like the Cheshire Cat.  “Twenty minutes then,” came his reply and he hung up.

With a cat-canary smile, Daniel hung the phone back up and headed for the bedroom.  He’d call Jason on the road.

 

 

After talking to Daniel, Adriann spent the next half hour with a frown of concentration on his face as he read through several websites.  Just off his right shoulder, Talen stood, her eyes also fixed to the laptop screen.  Neither of them spoke, their communication telepathic as he browsed sites that ranged from the fictional to the psychological, and lastly, toward cultural histories.  These last examples were the ones he quickly learned to filter out from the ridiculous.

Finally, their focus narrowed to the cultural myths of the Romani.  More widely called Gypsies.  Their myths about vampires were relatively old, tracing back about one thousand years, but they were based on a religion known as Hindi.  The “vampires” seemed to be supernatural beings that could only be killed by the Goddess Kali.  As the Romani traveled, their myths changed, adapting to the myths of the land they occupied.  There really wasn’t much of a “modern” feel to the myths, or even close to familiarity.  But Adriann found references to a change in myths roughly four hundred years ago, in what the humans called the 17th century.

Though many stories were irrelevant, the tales of an outsider drinking blood told Adriann there was more to it than that.  He couldn’t help but think there was a correlation between his people and the Romani.  There were his people’s own fragmented histories, still partially alive in their library back home.  Four hundred years ago, a number of them had left his planet to try and escape the plague.  There’d been references to a ship, and though they’d already come across one of their own that had become twisted and insane, Adriann couldn’t shake the feeling that that creature was not the last Var’chol’si living on another planet.

What if some of those travelers had come to Earth?  What if they were responsible for the change in vampire lore a few centuries ago?  Given the network of Goa’uld histories throughout the universe, it was conceivable that his people could have come across a reference pointing to Earth.  The more he thought about it, and exchanged silent debate with Talen, the more convinced he became.

The Romani culture was so very similar to the Var’chol’si that it was a little spooky.  There were obvious differences that set them apart, of course.  Skin and eye color were two of them.  Short lifespans were another.  But the common threads were just a little too interesting to ignore: their fashion preferences; nomadic lifestyle.

Adriann didn’t believe the Romani were descendants, but he was almost certain that they’d been influenced by them.  They could very well have been one source in the changes to vampire mythology.  And like all mythologies, deific belief systems tended to ignore reality, altering facts to suit superstition.

“We have to find out more about these people,” he said aloud, and because it was said aloud, it somehow broke the intense focus of their reading.  Like coming out of a dream or ceasing to read a fictional story one had been consumed by.  “We need to visit them, talk to them.  Perhaps their oral histories still refer to a strange people they met.” He looked up at Talen.  “Strangers like us.”

“Or monsters,” Talen responded with an amused lift of her eyebrow.  “They call people like us monsters.”

Adriann shook his head.  “It does not matter.  They may still be absorbed in superstition, but they’ve grown wiser, and much less prone to nonsense.”

“You hope,” Talen corrected.  “Monsters are always monsters.”

Adriann shrugged.  “Until proven otherwise.  We always elicit that response from those whose knowledge is limited.”

Her brow still raised, Talen looked down into her brother’s face and tugged on a lock of his hair.  “The humans like Daniel aren’t limited, and yet you did terrify him.”

Adriann remembered that time with perfect clarity, as if it had happened the day before.  “Terrify is the wrong word, Talen.”

“Scared then.”

He nodded soberly.  “Scared.  And angered.”

“A natural progression.  We were taking without asking.”

He sighed with a nod of acknowledgment, continuing to stare at the screen.  “On our next visit, we will have to find a way to talk to these people.  They don’t blend with society, so I don’t believe there is much risk of exposure.  But we’d be careful nonetheless.  We have to talk to them.”

“General Hammond may not authorize it,” Talen pointed out.

“Which is why we have to find the evidence to justify it.”

“And if we do, and he still says no?”

Adriann looked up at her and grinned.  “He and his nation do not own this planet.  And once Kashir and the others have repaired that ship they found, we won’t need to announce our presence to anyone.”

She smiled back, prepared to tease him about his secret love of technology but their attention was diverted when they picked up a presence outside the house.  Their eyes on the front door, they waited for several long seconds before the knock came.

Adriann grinned as Talen headed over to answer it.  “It’s about time.  I was beginning to wonder if he’d gone off by himself.”

Jalen came in, giving both of them an appreciative onceover.  As he’d expected would happen, they’d abandoned the Earth clothing for their own dark, multi-colored suede pants and jerkins.  In shadow, they’d look black.  Back on Bel’a’lat, he’d asked one of the Brethren how they got the colors to swirl and blend the same way a gasoline sheen spreads on water, but she’d just smiled and said, “Family secret.”

“Ready to go out and have some fun?” he asked.

“It’s still daylight,” Talen said with a smirk, returning the appraising gaze.  Given the black tank top and jeans, the leather jacket, and those square-toed boots Jalen said were made from an animal called an alligator, she knew his mood.  He was out for more than a blood hunt.  “Surely we should wait until dark.  Going by your planet’s season, it will only be a couple of hours from now.”

Jalen pursed his lips and sighed.  “Am I coming off a little too eager?”

“I take it you have a plan?” Adriann asked, getting up.

Jalen nodded, a nasty smile forming.

“Does it have anything to do with that murdering creature you’ve been fucking?” Adriann asked with a scolding, raised brow.

“Manipulating,” Jalen corrected, the nasty smile wider now.  “And no, it doesn’t.” He waited a few beats, looking from Adriann to Talen.  “Okay, that’s not entirely accurate.  But you agree with me that something needs to be done about him and I don’t want to wait until he gets away with something else.  While our friends are occupied, we need to do something about him.”

Adriann inclined his head, giving it consideration.  He opened his mouth, ready to tell Jalen that he couldn’t kill the man, but Talen cut him off.

“You could leave it be, Jalen,” she said, her eyes cold as she looked straight at Jalen.

“I would if Jason could do something about it.  It’s Ah’na’ta’hen,” Jalen told them both, his eyes meeting Talen’s, then Adriann’s.  It was the Var’chol’si word for vengeance, but it entailed much more: the act of taking vengeance, not just the definition of the word.  “You know it is.”

“Yes,” Talen said, “but you must not kill.  If you do, Jason will know.  He is not a stupid man, Jalen.  He will discern it.” She turned to look at her brother for back up.

Adriann sighed, glancing at both of them before he walked into the living room and sat down on the couch.  He laid his head back and closed his eyes, remembering centuries past, when Ah’na’ta’hen was common practice.  The last time he’d practiced it, it had been to kill Tam, the mentally-compromised Brethren who’d attacked Daniel.  He could feel Talen watching him, waiting to hear his refusal as she sat down next to him.  He purposely kept his thoughts closed so she couldn’t pry before he was ready.

Jalen sat on Adriann’s other side, placing a comforting hand on his thigh.  “These people have laws, but they don’t always work.  Where there is prejudice, laws are ignored to suit that prejudice.  When that happens, steps have to be taken.” He waited, but Adriann didn’t respond nor open his eyes.  “You know I’m right.”

Adriann opened his eyes and turned his head to give Jalen a commanding look.  “If it can be done without notice, without leaving any clue that would make investigators tempted to continue an inquiry, then …” He left the sentence unfinished, not willing to continue.  He didn’t have a problem with killing the man who’d gotten away with murder.  He also didn’t have a problem hiding such a thing from Jason, Daniel, or Jack.  But this was not a stupid world.  They would have to be careful.

“We shall see, Jalen.  You must consider that he may not be available tonight or tomorrow night.  And these will be the only opportune times when we could get away with it.  But.  We cannot kill him.  That will cause questions when the body is discovered.” Jalen made a noise and shook his head.  Irritated but sympathetic, Adriann reached over to cup his chin.  “Trust me, I understand.  And if we were on another world, there wouldn’t be anything to talk about.”

Jalen sighed heavily and agreed.  “I promised Jason anyway.” Pushing off the couch, he went to the shelves by Sam’s TV and knelt where she kept the DVDs.  He grinned at a few of the titles as memories surfaced, and was glad to note that thoughts of his birth universe no longer saddened him.  There would always be regret and guilt, but nowhere near as intense as they used to be.  Moving through the vertical stacks, he came to a pile that lay flat.  A yellow post-it note was placed on top.  It had Talen and Adriann’s name on it, with the message, “Thought you would find these interesting.  Love, Sam.”

Looking over his shoulder, he held up the post-it note.  “Have you seen this note?”

Talen leaned forward, arms on her knees, and frowned.  “No.  What is it?”

“A note from Sam, recommending some films she thinks you two would find interesting.” Picking up the pile, he leafed through them.  There were six, and as he scanned the titles, his eyes widened, and a slow grin spread across his face.  Clearing his throat, he said, “Tell you what.  Until it’s time to go out, how about we watch a few of these and I’ll order something to eat?”

Talen’s brows rose with eager interest.  “I have yet to see their films.  Do they differ much from their dramatic displays on their television?”

“Yeah, they do,” Jalen replied as he slotted the first DVD into the player and turned on the large widescreen.  Getting up, he grinned broadly.  “Hungry?”

“Yes,” Adriann replied.  “But for what, I don’t know.  What would you suggest?”

“Pizza,” Jalen answered instantly as he pulled out his cellphone.  He’d had the pizza number on speed dial for the last two weeks, intending to try and make himself sick of it while on Earth.  He didn’t think it possible, but he was damned determined to try.

“Pizza,” Talen echoed.  “That flat pie they advertise on the television?”

“That’s it.”

“It looked good,” she said, leaning back on the couch and waving at him.  “Plenty of meat please.”

Jalen looked at Adriann and received a non-committal shrug.  “Great,” he smiled, and dialed.  After placing an order, he grabbed a soda from the fridge and refilled the ice water Talen and Adriann had been drinking.  Returning, he bent to the DVD player and pressed ‘play’.

“And just what are you going to entertain us with?” Adriann asked as Jalen sat back down.

“One of them is an example of modern vampire and werewolf legends.”

Adriann raised a brow and smirked with amusement.  “This should be entertaining.  What’re the others?”

Smile adjusting to remove the humor from his eyes, Jalen said, “It’s the film version of a book that Jason’s read.  One of his favorites.  It’s a fictional representation of the human monsters that live on this world.  Now, tomorrow, we can watch what you didn’t get a chance to do at Daniels.” The humor in his eyes returned as he picked up a DVD and waggled it.  “Pirates.”

For the next four hours, they watched Red Dragon, then Underworld.  Both films required periodic explanations.  It was interesting, Jalen found, just how much a human took for granted.  The first film would give Adriann and Talen a fair representation of the aberrant mind on Earth.  Though they’d probably caught some of it via their telepathy, there was no beating a visual example of just how screwed up people could get.  Humans may consider vampires monsters, but humans were capable of far worse.  Plus, watching a film involving the FBI might be a good way to introduce them to the laws of American society.  It would also let them know that he was fully aware of how important it was to stay below the law enforcement radar.

The second film would raise eyebrows, and it might just spook them a little bit.  Jalen wasn’t worried about the vampires.  Those would likely cause amusement and curiosity.  But the Lycans would grab their attention.  Their perverse wolf form was eerily similar to the Bor’cha, and he was a living example of someone who had the altered DNA of one flowing through his veins.

 

 

Daniel almost wished the tingling in his palms would go away, but he was quietly enjoying the tension.  It was an itch; a need to reach out and touch, caress, and draw desire in order to reconnect and re-avow, and it had been slowing growing stronger ever since he’d picked up Jason and arrived at Jack’s.  It wasn’t uncontrollable, but it was a reminder: an underlying presence that stayed with him throughout the afternoon and into early evening.  He felt the same need from Jason and Jack, and perhaps feeling theirs intensified his own.

How they managed to stick to simple kisses of greeting and enticing body closeness was beyond him.  None of them had made any kind of verbal agreement that sex would remain at bay until after the holiday movies were watched and presents were exchanged.  But the time was approaching, and the more the minutes ticked by, the keener the tingling in his palm.

On the couch between Jack and Jason, he smiled at the end of A Christmas Carol, but his mind was no longer on the film.  Once Scrooge apologized to his nephew, Daniel focused on presents and sex.  The only discordant thought was whether to take the presents in the bedroom or unwrap them here.  It was a silly thought, but he sometimes hated having to stop and go to the bedroom once the ‘thank yous’ and ‘I love yous’ began.

From his right, a hand touched and cradled his left jaw, pulling him abruptly from his thoughts.  Jack leaned over him, whispering “Merry Christmas” as his lips met Daniel’s.  Daniel pursed his, greeting the kiss warmly.  On his left, he felt Jason’s lips on his cheek, then Jack broke away to meet Jason’s mouth before he moved away.  Their kiss was close to his face and he inhaled the scents off their lightly rough cheeks and chins.  Each separate and unique, but blending into a single fragrance that was always labeled, “Them”.

Jason pulled out of the kiss with Jack and turned immediately to Daniel, mashing their lips together in a way that was automatically familiar and expectant.  Daniel knew that if he were ever blindfolded in a dark room and kissed, he could identify it, just as he could with Jack.

The arousal between his legs began and Daniel was strangely glad he hadn’t changed out of his jeans and into his flannel gym pants.  They wouldn’t have hidden a damn thing–though there was never a need, it was times like now where broadcasting needed to be under …  wraps …  for the time being.  He reached up and pressed his hands to their chests, applying enough pressure to make them back off.  Licking and rubbing his lips together as he met their eyes, he cleared his throat.  “Presents?”

“Definitely,” Jack said, and he made Daniel and Jason laugh as he shot off the couch, grabbed the remaining presents under the tree, and parsed out the presents by giver, not recipient.

“In a hurry?” Jason asked.

“What gave it away?” Jack smirked.

Daniel looked at his presents, one for each of them, then glanced at his lovers.  “Who first?”

“I’ll go last,” Jason said, though it was more statement than offer.

Jack rolled his eyes and handed out two large red packages.  “Merry Christmas.” Though love was in his heart, apprehension reflected in his eyes.  Sometimes he thought Jason had the right idea about not giving a shit about presents in general.  Couldn’t they just drink bourbon-drowned eggnog, watch old movies, and have sex?

Exchanging grins, Daniel and Jason recognized the look on Jack’s face.  It mirrored their own feelings.  Together, they pulled at the large gold ribbon and opened their boxes.  Peeling aside tissue paper, they stared for a few moments before they looked up at Jack in surprise.  Jack never bought clothing.  Ever.  It almost always had to go back because of the wrong size or color, and most of the time the style was not something you’d be caught dead in.  But after seven years, Jack knew their sizes and tastes.  The man didn’t miss much.

Jason pulled the suede leather jacket out of the box and absently discarded the carton to the floor.  The jacket was black and hip-length, and after a casual glance at Daniel’s, of a different style.  Elaborate Celtic embroidery decorated the collar and down the lapels.  For once, Jack was paying homage to his Scottish ancestry.  Because Jason tended to pay more attention to his Navajo heritage, he never took it as a slight, but this time, he was speechless.  Glancing frequently at Jack, he stood up and put it on.  As expected, it fit.  He pulled his shoulders forward, rolling them to test the shoulder space, and noticed more embroidery around the cuff and up part of the sleeve.  Passing his hand over the soft and warm leather, and the brushed flannel lining, he looked at Jack and smiled his thank you.

“Perfect.”

“It is,” Jack replied admiringly.

Daniel thought so too, then turned his attention to his own jacket.  It was a hip-length, rich sepia brown.  Unlike the untabbed, flat pockets of Jason’s jacket, his were buttoned and roomy, including the two on the inside vest.  They were designed similarly to the styles most worn on archaeological digs, and the left inside breast had a pocket for pens.  Or tools.  It was a coat he could wear anywhere, from a night out to a fancy restaurant to fishing at the cabin.  But it was also made for utility, and Daniel knew damn well that Jack was thinking about the expedition to Costa Rica that he’d been wanting to take time off to join.

For once unable to put his myriad of thoughts to words, Daniel could only look at Jack and say, “Thanks.”

“Gonna try it on?” Jack asked.

With a charming, self-conscious smile, Daniel put it on.  It was so comfortable and perfectly fit, his smile broadened.  “Well?”

“That’s my question,” Jack said, his gaze of admiration now spotlighted on Daniel.

“Like Jason said.  It’s perfect.”

“I second that,” Jason said, looking him over.  Taking his jacket off, he laid it over the back of the couch.  “You’re next, Daniel.”

“Oh, right,” Daniel said, swallowing emotionally as he took off his jacket and placed it next to Jason’s.  He sat back down, then held his presents out without looking at either of his partners.  “There’s a disclaimer attached: neither of you are fond of the useless gift, so that is what I had in mind when I got you these.”

Jack and Jason were both dumbfounded and amused at Daniel’s display of shyness.  It was endearing.  And rare.

Jason shook his present and heard a thunk of movement inside.  Jack felt the same.  The packages were small and square, wrapped in gold paper with green ribbon.  Tearing off the paper, Jack opened his before Jason.  Lifting the lid, his brows rose in surprise.  Lying within the box was a new watch: a field watch with GPS and water-proof protective covering.

Jason had the same.  They were also both black in color.  The only notable difference between them was the wristband material.  Jack preferred nylon; Jason, leather.

With a chuckle, Jason shook his head in wonder.

“What?” Daniel asked, wary.  Jack’s expression mirrored his.

Jason opened his mouth to say something, but stopped and laughed again.

“Mind letting us in on the joke?” Jack asked.

“It’s just …  I think all three of us have either lost our collective imaginations when it comes to giving each other gifts, or our relationship has developed some sort of strange synchronization.”

“Okay, not an explanation,” Jack said gruffly.

Jason smiled at Jack and pointed at the jackets.  “You got us both the same thing.  Daniel, so did you.  And I …” His smile grew wider as he held up the gift box.  “Did too.”

Daniel smiled in pleased surprise.  “I know what happened.”

“What?” Jack and Jason asked.

Daniel tapped his temple.  “The gift Adriann gave me, the gift Lin gave Jason, and Jack’s had his natural instincts increased.”

Jack frowned.  “No I haven’t.”

“Yes you have, Jack,” Daniel argued.

“No I haven’t.”

“Yes you have.  It comes from contact with the empathic power Adriann gave me.”

Jack stared at him, and despite himself, he grew annoyed.  “When were you gonna tell me?”

“I thought …” Daniel sat there, mouth open.  He shook his head.  “I’m sorry.  I thought I mentioned it.”

Jack felt bad that he’d made Daniel unhappy on today of all days.  And the truth was, Daniel may have told him at one point and he’d simply forgotten.  Sometimes he talked way too damn fast.  “If you told me, I’ve obviously forgotten.”

Daniel started to take the blame from Jack, but Jason held out his hands.  “Okay, time out, you two.  You both forgot, how’s that?  The point is, we’ve developed an interesting side-effect.  I find that rather …  sweet.”

Daniel exchanged a smile with Jack.  “Me, too, actually.”

Jack didn’t say anything; he simply jogged his brows.

Daniel cleared his throat.  “So, do you like the gifts?”

Jason blinked a few times.  “Sorry,” he said, reaching over and giving his knee a shake.  “I love this,” he said, holding up the watch.  “Mine old one’s pretty beat up.  Thanks.”

Jack nodded agreement, giving Daniel one of his spine-melting smiles, which then turned into a smirk as he held up the watch.  “You do realize that the GPS won’t work off-world.”

“Well no shit, Captain Obvious,” Jason shot back, making Daniel laugh.  When Jack shot him a mock-scowl, he cleared his throat, tried for a sober expression, and failed.

Chuckling, Jason set aside his watch and held up his gift.  “This is for both of you, so you can decide who opens it.”

Jack gestured for Daniel to go ahead.  “You take the honors.”

Taking the gift, Daniel pulled the red ribbon out of its tie, and after the removal of the wrapping, found a black velvet jewelry box.  His mouth dropped open slightly as he cast Jack a brief glance before turning his attention to Jason.

“You didn’t.”

Jason smiled at both of them.  “Open it, Daniel.”

Daniel lifted the attached lid and he and Jack stared at the contents: three identical wide platinum rings, etched with a complex Celtic knot pattern that completely encircled them.

“Jack, yours is on the left.  Daniel, yours is in the middle.”

Daniel plucked the right one and handed it to Jason, the picked out the left one and gave it to Jack.  Taking up his own, he set the box on the coffee table.  Both he and Jack were silent as they examined the rings.

Waiting, Jason slid his own ring onto his right ring finger, absently fingering the design just as he’d done inside the silversmith’s shop in Boulder.  He cleared his throat when Jack and Daniel took too damn long to notice the inscription inside the band.  It was only a few long, interminable seconds, the rings were his commitment to them, and he desperately need to know that they liked them as much as he did–enough to wear them, which was the whole point, really.

Daniel, finally, looked inside the band first.  Winding it around in order to read the Latin phrase, his lips moved silently …  then he smiled.  Without looking up, he said, “Jack, look inside.”

Jack looked, squinting at the tiny Roman lettering.  “My Latin’s a bit rusty,” he said, raising a brow at Daniel.

Semper coniuncti in aeternum,” Daniel recited.

Jack threw him a dirty look.  “I can read that, Daniel.”

“Together Forever in Eternity,” Jason said, unable to wait for Daniel.

Jack met his gaze, as did Daniel, and a lump rose in Jason’s throat.  “Put them on,” he said, holding up the pertinent finger.  His lovers silently obeyed and neither were surprised that the rings fit.  Exchanging looks between them, they looked back into Jason’s anxious expression.  And still, they said nothing.

Unable to wait for their answer, Jason reached over and picked up his glass of eggnog.  Raising it, he said, “To us.”

Obliging, Jack and Daniel grabbed their glasses and clinked with Jason’s in the toast.

After drinking, Daniel asked, “Are these replacements for the rings Lin made?”

Jason swallowed the mouthful of eggnog.  “In addition to.” He cracked a shy smile.  “I’d ask for us to wear them on the left hand, but the right will have to do.  I doubt we will ever be legal, except to each other.”

The last words gave his statement the solemn weight it deserved, and really, there was nothing more to say.  For now, and probably for the rest of their lives, the definition of legal was strictly between themselves.  Echoing Jason’s words with action, Daniel removed his ring and slipped it onto his left ring finger, then reached over and pulled Jason toward him.

“I love you,” he said before locking their lips together.

As Jack waited for his turn, he looked down at his right ring finger and slowly transferred the ring to his left.  It felt odd there, after so many years of not wearing one.  He’d once swore to himself that he’d never wear another marriage band, but the longer he looked at his finger, the more proper it felt.  For once, he was glad to be wrong.  The moment Daniel pulled back slightly, breaking the kiss, Jack grabbed a fistful of Jason’s collar and pulled him across.

 

.  .  .

 

It wasn’t until after 8 p.m.  before Jalen, Adriann, and Talen left Sam’s house for the evening’s entertainment.  After much insistence, and lack of patience, Adriann had convinced Jalen into playing the pirate movies.  Tomorrow, they’d watch some films that Jalen wouldn’t name, and to Adriann’s frustration, the man succeeded in keeping the films a secret.

Still, Adriann got his own back by pestering Jalen so much that he hoped to loosen his mental block.

“Give it up, Adriann,” Jalen told him.

Talen was ignoring them, paying attention to Jalen’s driving instead.  “Where are you taking us?” she asked as Jalen moved onto the highway.

“A gambling establishment called a casino,” he replied, and explained in detail what that meant.

For the next half hour, Adriann and Talen watched the passing towns, lit up for nighttime as well as Christmas.  There wasn’t too much to see, given the added darkness the lights created, but they were intrigued as Jalen drove into the darkness, toward a distant glow of lights.

Several minutes later, they entered Central City, and Jalen grinned as Adriann and Talen found themselves enchanted by the old brick buildings lit up with Christmas lights.  Turning right, he pulled into a large parking lot, and to its left, across the street, were two city block-sized buildings connected by an enclosed walking bridge.  With the windows open, Adriann and Talen heard noises they couldn’t identify.  There was music and voices, but underlying them were the sounds of bells and buzzers.  The slot machines Jalen mentioned?

Jalen grinned at their expressions.  “The noises you hear are indeed coming from the casino.” He pulled into a parking spot and shut off the engine.  Removing his seatbelt, he shot them both a mischievous smile.  “Let’s go, shall we?”

Out of the vehicle, and heading toward the immense structures, Adriann asked, “You brought us here because it’s far from Colorado Springs?”

“Kind of,” Jalen replied, “but the main reason?  Or reasons?  It will be fun.  This place is so large, it has many nooks and crannies that will be easy to slip into for a bite …  or five.”

“And the other reason?” Talen asked when Jalen paused too long.

He gave them both a wicked smile.  “Let’s just see what we find,” he said, and gestured at the casino.  “This will be a challenge for your blocking ability.  If you thought the Mall was a bit annoying, this will be much, much worse.”

“It will simply be a matter of filtering, Jalen,” Talen said, rolling her eyes.  “Is it not you that will find it a challenge?”

Jalen grinned sheepishly.  “Touché.” As they headed for the entrance, and saw the doormen guarding it, he was doubly glad to have insisted that Adriann and Talen wear their colored contacts.  Any draw of attention would be unwelcome.  Their clothes might be unusual, but that could be more quickly forgotten than a pair of grey eyes.

“Welcome to Century Casino,” said the right doorman as he opened his side of the wide double doors.

“Thank you,” Jalen replied.

Adriann simply responded with a nod, but when the doorman’s gaze fixed on Talen a little longer, she smiled flirtatiously, reaching out to draw her index finger under the man’s chin.  “Thank you.”

Adriann rolled his eyes as they entered, and Jalen laughed.  “Did sister embarrass you?” he teased.

“Yes,” Adriann responded with a wrinkled nose.  “He’s completely beneath her and not worth her considerable charms.”

Talen’s gaze pierced her brother’s with well-practiced provocation.  “He will return to his home and think of me while he brings himself to orgasm.”

“Because you put the thought there, no doubt,” Adriann shot back.

The corners of her mouth twitched with the barest hint of amusement.  “Unnecessary, I assure you.”

Jalen laughed, shaking his head at her ego.  Pointing to their left, he said, “Let’s start there and get a feel for the lay of the land.”

“Excellent idea,” Adriann answered, and as they wove their way through the patronage, he added, “You do realize that ‘nooks and crannies’ aren’t necessary.”

“I know,” Jalen answered.  “But I also know that you like to focus on your intended target, which requires the semblance of privacy.”

“Touché,” Adriann mimicked.

“You’re getting better at that, but don’t give up your day job,” Jalen replied sarcastically.

That won him a grin of approval before Adriann’s attention was diverted to those around them.  Talen’s was already heavily absorbed, and she absently commented as they walked.  One person looked promising but not quite right, another would be hideous.  Adriann’s opinion would sometimes match.

After ten minutes of strolling through the maze of humanity, they picked up on the bass sounds of a live band.  Ahead, over the large opening of a side room, blazed a neon sign: Catbird Lounge!

“Shall we go in?” Jalen asked his companions, though he already knew the answer was yes.  Previous experience let them know that where there was alcohol, there was easy prey.

 

.  .

 

Miles away, their three friends were also getting lucky, but in a much more loving and satisfying way.  Celebrating their renewed commitment to each other, they moved their desires to the bedroom, eager to feel and give pleasure.  Naked and beginning to sweat, Daniel, Jack, and Jason caressed each other with hands and mouths.  Forming a circle on the bed, their bodies were eager after three days’ worth of abstinence, so just the idea of a three-way 69 made them hard.

Licking up the leaking fluid, Jason sucked Daniel’s cockhead into his mouth, moaning with delicious greed.  His hips jerked as Jack, in turn, licked enticingly over his balls while Daniel did the same to Jack.  Heart rates quickened along with their breathing, and all Daniel wanted to do was lie there forever and just suck.  Jason’s mouth felt so good and Jack’s cock tasted even better.  Twitching under his expertise, he soon had Jack thrusting with need.

Not to be outdone, Jack pulled the same trick on Jason, and grinned when both he and Daniel bucked at the same time.  When Daniel’s fingers massaged his balls and his tongue searched for his opening, Jack began to grope for the lube that had been dropped between them.

“I want you in me,” he breathed around Jason’s dick.  Picking up the lube and holding it out, he expected Daniel to take it, but Daniel gently pushed his hand away.

“I want to watch you fuck Jason first,” Daniel murmured around his balls before taking one into his mouth.

“God yes,” Jason agreed.

Jack groaned, watching him deep-throat Daniel, and to get more of a reaction out of Jason, he thrust his tongue into his hole.

Jason moaned with pleasure and rapidly moved up and down Daniel’s cock, getting him to break off from Jack and run his fingers through his hair.

“You’ll make me come,” Daniel warned.

“Good,” Jason said, smiling around his cockhead because he knew that’s not what Daniel wanted.  Yet.

“Get over here,” Jack growled softly as he pulled his hips away from Daniel and wiggled around behind Jason.  His hands on his hips, he pushed Jason onto his belly and dove his tongue again into his ass.  Jason fisted the pillows over his head and thrust into the covers.

“Jack,” he panted, eyes closed.

“What?” Jack asked, half-smiling as he probed and teased the puckered tissue.

“Silly question,” Daniel laughed, and he moved to the head of the bed and arranged himself in front of Jason’s face.  Sitting on the pillows and taking Jason’s head carefully in his hands, he murmured, “Suck me.”

Wrapping his arms around Daniel’s legs, Jason eagerly complied.  Behind him, Jack flicked the lube cap open as he pushed to his knees.  Squirting a dollop of lube over Jason’s hole, he tossed the tube aside and reached between his legs, taking Jason’s cock in hand.  He stroked and squeezed while he slid two fingers into his lover’s ass.

“Oh god yes,” Jason breathed as he let Daniel’s cock drop from his mouth.

Daniel firmed his grip on his head and angled his dick, waiting for him to open.  When Jason obliged, he closed his eyes in pleasure, fucking his mouth with just the tip of his cock.

“Fuck that’s hot,” Jack said, watching avidly, and without further preamble, spread his knees and plied Jason’s apart.  Pushing his hips forward at the same time, he aimed his cockhead over the dark pink hole and bit his lip when Jason wordlessly groaned assent.  Knowing that he’d like it slow, Jack inched his way inside, pulling back a little each time.

“Go slow,” Daniel panted, absently rubbing his leaking cockhead over Jason’s lips.

“I plan to,” Jack replied, his eyes now on Jason’s ass.

When Jason licked at the pre-come liberally oozing from Daniel’s arousal, Daniel tightened the grip on his head.  “God I’ve missed this,” he whispered.

Jack indulged in the heat and friction as well the faint sounds Jason was making.  His thrusts were excruciatingly, maddeningly, slow, but he knew that eventually, Jason would beg for him to speed up.  Meeting Daniel’s gaze, he began his rhythmic thrusts.

Jason dropped his head and rubbed his face into the covers between Daniel’s legs.  “Fuck, yes, Jack.” Gathering Daniel’s legs within his arms, he pulled him down to kiss and bite over Daniel’s abdomen and pubic hair.  Daniel bit his lip and tried not to laugh as he half-heartedly tried to push Jason off.

“Jason, that tickles,” he protested.

Jason moaned over his lover’s damp skin.  “Not to me,” he said, far from sorry.

Grabbing his head and forcing Jason to look up at him, Daniel said, “I love you,” then rubbed his cock over Jason’s throat and chin, angling for his mouth.

Jason wrapped his left hand around the base, twisting mildly as he smiled at Daniel and covered the head with his lips.  “This what you want?” he mumbled.

Daniel moaned back.  “Yes.”

Jason smiled.  “Once more, then I want you to fuck him.” Looking over his shoulder, he added, “And I have to watch.”

“Do ya now?” Jack asked, and teased Jason’s body with a circular thrust of his hips.

The movement passed over his gland and sent an intense shudder through Jason’s arms and legs.  “Shit,” he breathed, dropping his head down again.  “Daniel …” he said, not able to finish his thought as Jack interrupted with another twist of his hips.

“You’re such a shit,” Daniel said, smirking at Jack as he slid away from Jason and crawled on his knees toward Jack.

“I want you,” Jack said by explanation before Daniel grabbed him and claimed his mouth.  Beneath him, Jason looked over his shoulder and took advantage of the distraction.  Pulling forward and easing Jack out of his body, he quickly turned onto his back and raised his knees.  Jack, still held by Daniel’s passionate kiss, blindly grabbed at his thighs, and pulled Jason’s ass toward his hot, wet cock.

Jason lifted up, one hand pushing Jack’s cock downward.  The aim was off, and impatiently, Jack broke Daniel’s kiss in order to sink himself back into that warm body.  “Yes,” Jason replied, throwing his head back and closing his eyes while he waited for Jack to reestablish his rhythm.

Daniel sat back on his haunches, watching them while he covered his cock with lube and added another squeeze onto the tips of his fingers.  Kneeling behind Jack, he wrapped his free arm around Jack’s chest and kissed at his neck while he rubbed the slick substance between Jack’s ass cheeks.  Caressing his hole with two fingers, he slid one inside just as Jack thrust into Jason.

“Fuck yes,” Jack breathed, and the feel of Daniel’s finger inside him encouraged him to thrust faster.  He wanted the double pleasure and hoped that Daniel would finish his teasing prep soon.

He did, for Daniel couldn’t wait, either.  He took hold of his erection and guided his cockhead to Jack’s hole, rubbing against him several times before he eased himself inside.  There came that familiar groan and he looked over Jack’s left shoulder.  With his gaze locked with Jason’s, he pulled out and slid home in his first thrust.  Jack didn’t wait for him to continue, but grabbed the back of Jason’s knees and moved his hips forward and back.  Each thrust brought a pleasure he’d been aching for and refusing to hold back, he increased his rhythm to satisfy his need.

Daniel aided him with a little thrust each time Jack pulled back.  “That’s so good,” he said with encouragement.

“Dammit!  Now Jack,” Jason demanded.  He was ready to come and needed it hard and fast.

Jack laughed.  “I’ll see what I can do,” he said, then his smile was replaced with lustful intensity as he waited for Daniel to back off.  When Daniel pulled out of him, the absence of him was keenly felt, and making up for its loss, Jack bent over, dropped Jason’s legs, and planting his hands on either side of his head.  “Spread for me,” he ordered.

Jason lifted his knees to his chest and pulled them apart with his hands.  Grabbing the head board and making it creak, Jack slid home hard.  Jason gasped and threw his head back, one hand reaching for his cock.  Daniel’s hands slid around Jack’s chest, caressing his muscles, and tweaking his nipples, and Jason groaned at the sight.

“Like that?” Daniel gasped, enjoying the view.

“Yes.”

Daniel took his own cock in hand and used more lube as he waited for the moment when Jason would come.  With his free hand, he stroked the insides of Jack’s thighs, making him fuck faster.  The sweat was building on all of them and he wondered if the skin of his ass shone like his lovers’ did.  Abruptly, Jason redirected his attention as he shouted a warning groan.  Clenching his teeth, his hand a blur on his cock, Jason gravelly whispered, “Fuck me!”

Jack slapped his hips loudly against Jason’s ass and his own ass muscles flexed when his black-haired lover’s orgasm hit him.  Daniel had been ready, waiting with tight muscles and eager need.  As Jack continued to thrust through Jason’s climax, Daniel slid into him to the root and began his own grinding rhythm.

Jason caressed his face as he watched his lover’s expression alter.  Jack stared down at him, mouth slack in pleasure, as Daniel fucked him with short, even strokes.  “Feels good?” Jason taunted.  Jack could only nod.  “Make him come hard, Daniel.”

“I plan to,” Daniel said, reaching down to caress Jason’s calf.  “Can you come again?”

“Have I stopped?” Jason asked, his afterglow continuing to stimulate his body.  He’d slowed his hand on his cock, twitching at its sensitivity, but he refused to release his hold.  He wanted to pull shudder after shudder from his body while Daniel headed Jack toward the cliff.

Daniel chuckled and closed his eyes, spoiling himself in Jack.  Then Jack’s muscles seized around him and he gasped.  “Jack?”

Jack tightened his hands on the headboard and when Jason placed both his hands on his chest and caressed him, he nodded–both to Jason and to Daniel’s unasked question.

Slipping his thumbs and forefingers over Jack’s nipples, Jason pinched and twisted.

It was just enough to send tingling shudders down the backs of Jack’s thighs.  “Fuck yes,” Jack hissed, and groaned with satisfaction as Daniel lay against his back.  With quick, grinding thrusts, his cock rode over his gland and suddenly all Jack could do was hang on as Daniel drove him crazy.

Under him, Jason shocked him as he pulled away, but the cool air didn’t stay for long.  Jason quickly turned around to take Jack into his mouth.  The sudden wet heat coupled with a hard initial suck, and Jack gasped and white-knuckled the headboard.  “Fuck!” Between Daniel’s grinding thrusts and Jason’s firm sucking, he could no longer hang on.  He exploded into Jason’s mouth and down his throat.

“Yes, fuck yes,” Daniel panted, and grabbed Jack’s hips as he pistoned frantically.  The slapping sounds and the heat of friction added to Jack’s harsh moans and several long seconds later, Daniel’s balls tightened, and he came, shooting hot pulses of come into his lover’s body.  Upper body taut and motionless, his hips jerked through the exquisite pleasure as he rode out the orgasm, he’d been waiting days to have.

“Jesus,” Jack croaked, throat dry and eyes closed.  Then Jason’s mouth was on his, wetting his tongue and eagerly drinking him in.

“I love you,” Jason whispered.

“I love you back,” Jack returned, then reached behind him to caress Daniel’s hip and part of his ass.  “And I love you.”

“Love you, too,” Daniel responded.  He eased out of Jack and plopped onto the bed beside Jason, afterglow sleepiness encroaching.  Jack moved to his other side and suddenly he was trapped when Jason draped an arm over his chest and Jack curled a leg over his knee.  With a happy sigh, Daniel closed his eyes.

 

.  .

 

An hour after the three visitors sat down in the lounge, the band took its second break.  Jalen was about to tease Adriann and Talen for their third refusal to dance when he caught the scent and presence of his enemy.  His head whipped around to the left, and several yards away, he located Carlson, leaning his forearms on a short dividing wall that separated an upper pier of customers.  He waited, frozen, and gold flecks appeared in his eyes like embers of a fire coming back to life.  “Look here, you bastard,” he murmured.  “Look over here.”

Beside him, Adriann and Talen picked up Jalen’s hatred and his words.  They, too, turned their heads quickly to the left.  Following his gaze, they found Carlson, and the man hadn’t yet looked in their direction.  Jalen was growing angrier, hating that he hadn’t the power.  Adriann laid his hand on his arm; an encouraging but soothing burst of energy flowed from him and into Jalen, but it did no good.

“Calm down.  If you will allow me?” Adriann asked.  Without taking his eyes off Carlson, Jalen nodded.  Knowing Talen joined him, Adriann focused his gaze on their target and mentally called to him.  Slowly, as if a switch had been turned on, Carlson turned his head and found Jalen.  Straightening, he walked around the wall and down a few steps, making his way toward them.  Jalen and his companions did not break their gaze, especially when Carlson arrived at their table.

Eyes glued to Jalen, Carlson swallowed.  “This is a surprise.  What brings you here on Christmas Eve, Jason?”

Jalen thought, “Revenge,” but said, “My friends have never been to a casino.”

At that moment, Carlson remembered that Jalen had company and turned to address Adriann and Talen.  A small knot of curiosity formed between his brows and Jalen felt the disappointment within him.  The man considered them an intrusion.

“They’re eager to meet you, and would love to join in for some private action,” Jalen informed him.  “Know anywhere we can go?”

Carlson seemed to blanch, but between his legs, interest began to swell.  “I can think of a few.”

“Darkness would be good,” Jalen suggested.

Carlson swallowed again and Adriann and Talen saw the desperation in his mind.  “Behind the building, there’s an alley we can use.  We can get there through a door by the kitchen.  The staff won’t notice.  They’re too busy.”

Jalen frowned.  “Not good enough.”

Carlson blinked, panicking in the way a drug addict panics when he thinks his dealer is going to refuse him.  “No, no, don’t worry about it.  It’s in the alley behind the casino.”

“Not good enough,” Adriann repeated, sending Carlson another suggestion.

“Okay, um …  how about down the alley, a block from the casino.  There aren’t any cameras there.  When the weather’s warmer, drug dealers make their busy there.  Cops never know.  Ten minutes?”

“Are they around this time of night?” Jalen asked.

“No, too cold.  They’ve moved their business to the back of the old bus station.”

Receiving a nod of acceptance, Carlson left them.  Talen smirked at Jalen as she picked up on their prey’s increased heart rate.  “He’s so easy,” she whispered as the waited to make their way out of the lounge.

 

.  .

 

The smell of dried sweat and come met Daniel’s nose as he roused from his nap.  He wanted to get up to piss, maybe grab some leftover turkey or ham, but the warmth of his lovers’ bodies enclosing his own made him close his eyes.  As he drifted back to sleep, he thought of Adriann and wondered how he was spending his evening.

 

.  .

 

The air was cold and the darkness colder, but somehow the cooking odors that wafted down the long alley seemed to add a semblance of warmth.  Underneath them, and between two abandoned metal dumpsters, the brick of the back of another building was slightly warmer than the air.  Carlson barely noticed as two mouths sucked at his neck.  Between his legs, hands teased at his cock and no longer willing to wait, he unzipped and began to stroke himself.

Standing in front of him, Talen stood watching, arms folded across her chest.  She considered squatting in front of him and sinking her teeth into his cock, but knowing who and what he was dismissed the notion almost immediately.  She was, instead, forming another plan as she watched his hand move faster and faster, need driving him toward his desired orgasm.

With a satisfaction that Carlson’s terror of their blood-drinking only just matched his greedy desire, Jalen and Adriann abruptly pushed off and stepped away from him, wiping their mouths on the backs of their hands.  Adriann instantly felt the need to find another donor in order to remove the distaste from his mouth, and he was almost angry with Jalen for talking him into this.  Almost.  His own curiosity and desire for retribution was to blame, though ‘blame’ wasn’t the word he’d choose.

Against the wall, Carlson was confused, the emotion edging toward anger.  “Wait, I’m not done,” he protested, his hand now covering his cock instead of stroking it.

Jalen’s lip curled in disgust as he met Adriann’s eyes.  He could read his emotions and silently nodded with agreement.  Without needing to say so, he let him know that he was done with the man forever.  His gaze briefly settled on Carlson before he looked away.  “We’re done.”

“That’s fucked up,” Carlson growled as he gingerly tucked his erection away and gently zipped up.  “You people are a piece of work.” He caught Talen’s gaze, and something made him stay where he was.  Though he didn’t know it yet, it was Talen’s power influencing his mind.

She watched Adriann and Jalen head down the alley, away from the casino, but did not follow.

“Talen?” Adriann asked over his shoulder.

“I will join you in a while,” she said, her eyes turning to Carlson.  “I am not finished.”

Blocking his mind from Jalen, Adriann sent a warning, but she waved him off.

I am not finished with him.

What are you planning, sister?

She gave him a mental growl.  Getting my share.

Tread carefully.  We are not at home.

No, we are not.  You worry entirely too much.

For good reason.  I know you, Talen.  You wish to take revenge, but it is not yours to take.

She did not answer him as she looked over her shoulder at her brother and nodded once.  “Twenty minutes,” she said aloud for Jalen’s benefit.

“Twenty minutes for what?” Jalen asked.

Adriann took him by the arm and ushered him toward the door.  “She simply wants her turn in private.  We will give it to her.”

“Right,” Jalen said with a suspicious frown, wondering what Talen had in mind.  “If anyone deserves to–“

“It should be Jason,” Adriann interrupted, his voice cold and forceful.  “But it isn’t and can’t be.”

Jalen sighed angrily.  “Then it should be me.”

Adriann shook his head.  “Your anger clouds your judgment, and before you thrust that anger at me, remember who started this mess.”

Jalen wanted to argue, but he knew it would be pointless.  He followed Adriann, fighting off the desire to turn back.

 

.  .

 

In shadow against the building, Carlson steadied himself and eyed Talen warily as she cozied up to his left side, caressing his chest and collarbones under his coat and over his checked shirt.

“No more of that, please,” he said in a weak attempt to tell her no.

She smiled and slid her hand upward toward his neck, her fingers still caressing him with languorous movements.  Slowly, they wrapped firmly around his throat.  The expression on her face remained unchanged, but Carlson’s eyes widened as panic struck.

“What are you doing?” he rasped, trying to pry her hand away.

“Tell me,” she said at her most seductive.  “Did you enjoy what you did all those years ago?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he gasped.

Talen ignored him.  “Yes you do.”

Unable to break her hold, Carlson’s panic increased.  He grabbed her arm, pushed at her chest, and with shocking speed, she grabbed one of his offending wrists and pinned it to the brick while her other hand remained locked around his throat.  Towering in front of him now, she looked down at him mercilessly.

“Let me go,” he demanded hoarsely.

“Little man, I know what you have done, but I speak now of Jason and his boyfriend.” He froze.  “I can see it in your mind.  All that hatred and self-loathing, you allowed yourself to commit an act of terror.  You did not just take a life, you aided the hatred of others and caused suffering to many more.” She paused and opened her mouth enough to show him the growth of her fangs.  “What sort of punishment will fit your hideous crimes?” she asked.

“Shut up,” he whispered hoarsely.  “It wasn’t me.  Get off me.”

She hissed at him, the sound quiet, and at odds with the soft expression on her face.  “What a pathetic creature you are.”

“It wasn’t me!” he tried to argue.  “I didn’t do that.  I don’t know what you’re talking about!”

“So that was past?” she asked.

“Yes.  No!  You’re tricking me.  I don’t know what–“

“Oh come now.  Relax.” She used her soothing tone to force him to stop struggling.  “I understand,” she consoled.  “It was youth and hormones, yes?”

“Maybe, yes, I don’t know!”

She squeezed his throat.  “If that was the past, then what was that you did last week to that young man with blond hair and the peach-colored shirt?”

Carlson tried to break away.  “No, that was my friends!”

Talen closed in, her face less an inch from his own.  “Indeed?” she asked, knowing he lied.  “But we both know that’s not true.  Your claim of innocence and ignorance for crimes past is nothing but smoke on the air.” Releasing her hold on his neck, she took a handful of his collar and yanked him forward, turning him to his left.  Facing the deeper darkness of the long, unlit alley, she whispered, “Let us go have some fun.” Her voice was now mesmerizing, using more of its hypnotic tone.

He stood there, blinking in astonishment as he stared at the darkness.  “Yes.  Yes.  Please.  But I don’t understand.  You want me?  Even though–“

“But of course,” she said, seeing clearly in his memory that that was exactly what his friends had done to the blond man the week before.  They hadn’t killed him, but they’d done enough damage to put him in the hospital.  She made up her mind then and there.  There was no turning back.  Sliding her hand over his ass, she slapped him gently, encouraging him to walk.

He began to, stiffly and awkwardly, as if fighting against himself.  “I thought you wanted to kill me,” he said, laughing shakily with relief.

She laughed softly, her hand on his back, inching upward.  “Be a good boy and lead me to a place where we can fuck.”

She could feel his frantic impulses as he began to search both sides of the alley, looking past additional metal dumpsters, discarded clothing, and wood refuse.  Within his trousers, his cock strained for release and knowing that made her mouth water.  He was so easy.  So stupid.  Like any dull, trusting domestic animal.

“Here,” he panted, stopping beside a sodden stack of pallets topped with a small, ripped mattress.

“Perfect,” Talen murmured as she grabbed him and turned him toward the pile, forcing him to bend slightly.  “Drop your pants and bend over,” she commanded.

Surprised, he looked over his shoulder.  “But …”

“Do as your told,” she said, her seductive tone strengthening.

Turning back to the makeshift place for sex, he robotically unzipped and pushed his pants down.  She felt him shiver at the cold while his confused thoughts spoke the word hermaphrodite.

“I am more than that,” she informed him as she lifted her jerkin, opened her trousers, and reached inside to lift the fleshy cover that protected her organ.  She didn’t use it often, but there were times when she desired the feel of friction.  Unlike her brother, her organ was smaller and shorter, but like her brother, she could increase the blood flow and thus widen her organ’s girth.

“You enjoy this from Jason, do you not?” she asked as she placed a hand on the back of his neck and leaned over him.

“He’s a man.”

“He is indeed,” Talen said as she pushed her barely erect organ inside him and clenched her teeth in a parody of a smile.  Blood rushed to the demanding muscle tissues and she began to thrust as it grew bigger.  He groaned and gasped against the mattress and she punishingly shoved his head into it, pinning him firmly.

“You will enjoy this much more,” she told him, and grinned when he tried to shake his head.  Increasing the force of her thrusts, relishing in the whistling harshness of his breathing, Talen slammed into him so hard the pallets moved.

“Fucking bitch!  That hurts!” he complained.

“Ah,” she said with a smile.  “There you are at last.  The real you.”

He bucked against her, but that drove her deeper into him.  “Goddamn you, ease up!”

“Why are you complaining?  What you feel is not pain, it’s panic.  Did you dare pull this crap on Jason?” When he didn’t answer, even though she already knew the truth, she pushed his head harder into the mattress.  “Why do you lie to me?” she asked with quiet ferocity, slamming her hips into him.

“Cunt, I’ll rip your throat out!” he spat, then he began to repeat the words, slowing them down like a chant that soon matched the rhythm of her thrusts.

“What was his name?” she asked.

“Who?” he asked, momentarily taken off guard.

“Jason’s boyfriend.”

“I don’t re–” he started, but when his face was pushed so hard into the mattress that he began to suffocate, he corrected himself when she let him breathe.  “Colton, you bitch.  His name was Colton.”

“Why did you kill him?  Tell the truth now.”

After a few seconds where it was obvious that he was assessing his chances of lying, he finally said, “I couldn’t have him.”

“And that is what you have done throughout your miserable life, is it not?  When you cannot have something, you make sure others cannot have it either.”

“So what, you fucking bitch.  I’m not the only one.”

“No, you’re not.  But how like you to try and blame others for your crimes.  I have learned that that is the behavior of sociopaths and social outcasts.”

“I am not–“

She slapped the side of his face.  “You know what you did was wrong.”

“So what?  Will saying I’m sorry make it better?”

“No,” she said, keeping him pressed hard into the mattress.  “Because you are not sorry.” He struggled violently under her and with her free hand, she reached under him and began to jerk him off.  He was suddenly caught between the desire to come and the desire to get away, and confusion reigned.  Trying to push up with his hands so he could breathe, he bent his knees, widening them to get more from her hard, brutal thrusts.  As a result, his feet no longer touched the ground and his knees were endlessly bloodied by the scraping and pounding against the wood.  And he didn’t care.  He liked the pain, and he liked the force.

Just as Talen knew he would.  Firming her strokes, she pulled at his cock painfully and felt the thrumming under the skin.  He was almost there.  “Beg for your life,” she hissed as she brought him closer to the edge.

Her words caught him, making him freeze his confused struggles.  “What?” he asked in shock.  The words she used were the same ones he used on fags.  When she increased the movement of her hand, he immediately forgot whatever it was she’d asked.

“God.”

“Beg.”

“Fuck me.  Please, fuck me.”

“Be more specific,” she demanded softly, increasing the speed of her strokes to match her hips.

“I want your cock,” he panted.  “I need it.  It feels so good!”

“What else?” she asked, bending over him, and rubbing her breasts against his back.  “Like that?”

“Yes, yes, let me feel them!  Please.”

“Hike up your shirt,” she ordered, letting go of his dick.

He squirmed under her, trying to comply.  Lifting her jerkin and the soft silk chemise underneath, she pressed against him and rubbed her breasts over his skin.  He thought she was doing what he wanted, and he reached down to stroke himself.  But what he did not know was that Talen needed the contact to heighten her disgust.

“Tell me you’re mine,” she demanded as she slapped his hand away and took his dick back.

Grabbing the mattress, the spit in his mouth added to the dampness.  “Yes, yours, always, just fuck me.”

Enjoying the cold on her breasts, she shoved at his head.  “What is your purpose?”

“To be fucked by you.” And with hesitation, he added, “Mistress.  I am yours.”

“Beg for your life,” she said, this time enunciating each word slowly as she pulled her hand off his dick and withdrew her organ from his body.

“What are you doing?” he asked, shocked by the loss.

She squeezed her fingers around his neck.  “Making you beg.”

“You fucking, teasing bitch!  What the fuck are you playing at?”

She violently pushed his face into the mattress again, holding him down as he struggled.  He tried to kick out but ended up banging his knees into the pallets.  “What’s it feel like,” she growled at him, “you pathetic creature.  What does it feel to have been on the verge of happiness, but have it taken away?”

“Fuck you!” he shouted.

“No, I think not,” she said, and dug her hard nails into his neck.

“You sick bitch,” he spat.  “I order you to off me!”

She laughed.  “Make up your mind.  Get you off or get off.  Which is it?”

“Please,” he said.

She sneered at him as she quickly tucked herself back into her trousers and dropped her jerkin back down.  “Please what?  Forgive you your crimes and let you live?” His mind and body were in chaos, unable to select which he wanted, and indeed, he wasn’t taking her seriously on the latter.  Due to her prodding in his mind, his deeper, hidden thoughts were rising to the surface.  She could see the self-hatred, the desire to harm those he coveted, and the sick joy he’d felt when he’d kicked Colton to death.  Sudden revulsion swept through her and with a quick, sharp movement of her hand, she broke his neck.  “You will not achieve either,” she said coldly as she released him and stepped away, turning back down the alley and toward the direction Jalen and her brother had gone.

 

.  .

 

On the way back to Colorado Springs, Adriann fumed, angry with Talen.  She’d told him nothing, but she didn’t have to; he knew.  Jalen did, too, which only made Adriann angrier.

Jalen understood Adriann’s anger, but he didn’t think it was necessary.  Besides, he should let it go before it consumed him and ruined their evening together.  What was done was done.  Back at Sam’s and inside the house, he shut the door and leaned against it, crossing his arms over his chest.

“Don’t be angry, Adriann,” he stated plainly.

Adriann turned to him, scowling.  “I have every right to be.  She murdered a human.” He waved accusingly at Talen, refusing to look at her.  She rolled her eyes and entered the kitchen, intending to have some of that white wine Sam kept on a rack in the fridge.

“You knew what she planned, and you did nothing to stop her,” Jalen said, his own anger forming.  “Which is why you didn’t let me stay with her.”

Adriann closed the distance between them, eyes flashing.  “It was on her mind and I warned her not to do it.”

Unfazed by Adriann’s threatening body language, Jalen snapped, “You’re not her boss.  You knew she’d do what she damn well pleased.”

Adriann knew Jalen was right, but it didn’t matter.  He was about to respond when Talen’s hand closed over his shoulder and turned him about.

She stared icily at her brother.  “I intended to punish, not kill.”

“What changed your mind?” Adriann snapped.

“Do not become sanctimonious with me, Adriann.  You have had your share of justified killing.”

“Not on Earth,” Adriann replied, drawing out the words.

Lifting her chin, Talen clenched her teeth.  “What changed my mind was seeing what he’d felt and done all those years ago.” She paused before adding, “And last week.”

“He killed someone last week?” Jalen asked, taken aback.

“No, but he wanted to.  The man was hurt very badly.  That creature didn’t kill him because he didn’t want to get in trouble.  Though many people still harbor their idiotic fears of homosexuals, their laws no longer aid them.  He would not have gotten away with it as he did with Jason’s boyfriend.”

“What happened in the alley?” Adriann asked, calming down slightly.

“I experienced what he had felt and done.” She paused, shaking her head slowly.  “You would not have stopped yourself either, Adriann.  Learn for yourself.” She opened her memories to both men and watched with dark satisfaction as their expressions turned to disgust and outrage.  “Do you understand now?”

She sipped at her wine as she watched them sit down on the couch, absorbing the impact of her memory.  Gradually, their rage subsided.  Moving to the living room, she sat down on the coffee table in front of her brother.  Holding out her hand, she softened her expression.  She had to make the first overture, or he’d brood all night.

“I am troubled that I made you angry.  Please forgive me.”

He took her hand, his expression matching her own.  “There is no need.”

Jalen sighed with relief and dropped his head back on the couch.  “Thank Christ.  Now can we go back out and have some real fun?”

Adriann shot him a dark look.  “As long as your destination does not involve a gambling establishment.  Half of the blame tonight lies with you.”

“I didn’t kill him,” Jalen shot back.

“Don’t fuck with me, Jalen,” Adriann warned.  “You suspected he’d be there.”

Jalen stared back at him.  “Hoped, not suspected.  I wanted to fuck with him, not kill him.  I already promised Jason I wouldn’t take that piece of shit’s life.”

Adriann relaxed, satisfied.  He reached out and took the man’s hand.  After a heavy silence, he asked, “Where shall we go?”

Posing the question told Jalen that, at last, the subject was dropped.  He smiled with relief, hating when Adriann was displeased with him.  “Your choice.”

Talen stood up, smoothing her jerkin and tunic.  “An establishment with plenty of women will do nicely.”

Jalen winced.  “He sour you off men?”

She made a face.  “Only for tonight.”

“And what if you find a man worth having?” Adriann asked as he got to his feet.

She snorted as she turned away and headed back to the kitchen.  “He would have to be an outstanding specimen for that to happen.”

Jalen grinned at Adriann.  “I sense a challenge.”

Adriann shook his head.  “You would lose.”

 

.  .

 

Extricating himself from the bed, Jack padded sleepily to the bathroom.  As he relieved himself, he became aware of a stillness outside; the sort of quiet that only happens when it’s snowing.  Flushing, he went to the window and opened it.  Sure enough, flakes were floating down to coat the thin layer that already covered the backyard.  Thinking about what the rest of the outside looked like, he washed his hands and headed into the living room.  Parting the blinds, he looked out and found a blanket of white with the usual shade and black spots where the snow hadn’t reached.

He wondered what Adriann and Talen thought of the weather.  Was it interfering with their …  revelry?  Hoping they weren’t getting into memorable trouble, he turned to head back to the bedroom, but paused, eyes on the decorated tree.  It caused him to immediately look down at the new ring on his finger.

It was odd, but he’d actually forgotten it was there.  With new rings, he’d fiddle with them for days until his finger got used to the presence, or he’d take it off and stash it away for special occasions.  He smiled to himself, thinking this evening had been a very special occasion, but he still should have been aware of the weight on his finger, even during sex.  Was this a sign of things to come?  Would he get so used to his relationship that he’d slip up at work?  No, not possible.  He was only second-guessing because he was home, but just in case, he made a mental note to switch the ring to his right hand tomorrow.  Glancing at the glowing hands of the clock on the wall, he corrected himself.  Today.  Technically.

Returning to the bedroom and crawling back into bed and under the covers, he started to lean against Daniel’s back when his lover turned his head, eyes half-lidded in sleep, and reached up to cup the back of Jack’s head.

“I love you,” Daniel murmured, stretching automatically for a kiss.

With a smile, Jack obliged, kissing him firmly, but Daniel pursed his lips in that clumsy way only sleep could cause and Jack stifled a laugh.

Daniel was asleep.

Jack didn’t mind, touched by the endearment because the affection was unconscious.  Daniel often did those sort of things in his sleep, and as if to prove it, he reached behind him to fondle his lover’s dick.  With a grin that said someone would get teased in the morning, Jack took Daniel’s hand and placed it hand back in front of him.  Spooning against his back, he then wrapped his arm around him, his hand covering Daniel’s.  Back muscles flexed against his chest, perhaps body familiarity saying hello, and Jack went back to sleep with a grin on his face.

 

.  .

 

Wearing one of Jason’s robes, Adriann stood in front of the wide, panoramic vista of Jason’s loft and watched the snow fall.  He found it fascinating, and despite the cold, he’d opened one window section so he could occasionally reach out and catch a snowflake.  It didn’t snow that often on his home planet, except up in the distant mountains far from their mansion refuge.  The city before him stretched in silence, holiday lights coloring the white powder that was quickly blanketing everything.  It made strange shapes out of the stark ugliness of the roads and buildings.  It was actually quite beautiful.

Aside from the winter glamour, he felt strange.  He looked over his shoulder at the bed and the sleeping stranger lying naked there.  The man was tall, muscular, and handsome, with long auburn hair.  At the bar they had toured, Jalen had said that either the guy was a model or a quarterback, and hadn’t explained what either of those terms meant.  It hadn’t mattered much.  Adriann hadn’t been at all concerned with whatever the man did for a living.  His interest had been solely animal.

While that did not bother him, either, there was a strangeness to having sex with someone he didn’t know.  All his ‘stranger’ indulgences so far had been for blood only.  This time, he’d decided to take one home for sex.  After hypnotizing his partner’s mind in order to mask his fangs and his alien genitals, he’d pretty much …  what was the phrase Jalen so often used?  Oh yes.  Fucked him stupid.  Laughing softly to himself, Adriann remembered the first time he’d heard Jalen use the phrase.  Would this stranger think the same after daylight came?  Perhaps, for Adriann felt the need to have more of him, but not before he’d drunk his fill of the quiet, falling snow.

Staring out over the whiteness, his thoughts turned to the things he’d done since arriving a week ago.  It felt like it had been months since he’d quieted Daniel’s mind and brought order to chaos.  He’d learned quite a bit in that time, and he intended to learn a lot more.  Particularly about the Romani.  Perhaps some of his people had come here, perhaps not, but the supposition was plausible, and he was adamant about finding the truth.  He knew he’d have to tell Daniel about his intentions.  And Jack.  And he also knew he’d get the typical warning about coming here unannounced or uninvited–if it came to that.  But he had to know one way or another.

His guest stirred on the bed, turning in his sleep, and Adriann closed the window and returned to him.  Spooning against his body, the man jerked away; Adriann’s skin had grown cold standing there at the open window.

“I’m sorry,” Adriann whispered, pulling the man against him.  “I’ll warm quickly.” The man mumbled something, just barely awake, and for a moment, Adriann hesitated.  Would this man mind being woken up for more sex?  His brows knotted slightly as he pushed past dreams and mentally searched for his answer.  After a few long moments, it finally came, and with a smugness at getting his way, Adriann reached over to take his flaccid cock in hand.

It didn’t take long to get him hard, and judging from his thoughts, he was still half-asleep.  Adriann no longer cared, for his own body was insistent.  Sliding easily inside him, the minutes ticked by as he thrust with a slow, rocking rhythm that eventually began to quicken.  His partner was now awake, though his mind was muddled with alcohol and desire.  Rolling over onto his stomach, he pulled Adriann with him and spread his legs as he grabbed fistfuls of pillow.

Closer and closer toward climax, Adriann’s partner let him know when it was time, for he tilted his head and raised his chin.  Adriann stared down at his neck, mouth open and fangs dripping with spit.  Panting harshly, he thrust faster and faster until the body underneath him went rigid.  As the man let out a loud orgasmic moan, Adriann bit down, slicing into his flesh with ease.  The hot tang of blood spilled into his mouth and his companion let out gasps of pleasure.  The sounds made him suck harder and undulate his body against him, drawing out the man’s release as well as his own.

Hips still moving, but at a much slower pace, Adriann waited until the man’s body thrummed in afterglow before he retracted his teeth and licked the wound closed.  Then, just as he’d done earlier and many times to Daniel and Jalen, he continued to fuck him until the man was hard again.

Later, when the room was alight with morning, Adriann’s partner woke him up, whispering “Merry Christmas” as he maneuvered between his legs.  It was weird hearing that, but Adriann didn’t mind.  The weird thing about it was that he hadn’t heard this man’s voice, but Daniel’s.  An hour later, after he’d seen the man out, he discovered that he really had heard Daniel’s voice: His lover had left a message on Jason’s phone while he’d been having sex.

Biting at his lip with amusement, he picked up the receiver and dialed Jack’s number.  It was five rings before Jack picked up.

Adriann smiled.  “Good morning.”

“Backatcha,” Jack replied.  “Hang on.”

Frowning, Adriann wondered what was going on as he listened to an echo of movement, then …

“Good morning,” came Daniel’s voice.

Despite his body having had its fill, Adriann experienced a tingle down his spine at the sound of his lover’s voice.  “Merry Christmas back.”

“You found the message then,” Daniel stated happily.  “Jalen said you’d slept over there.  Were you asleep when I called?”

Adriann grinned.  “No.  Just occupied.”

“Taking a shower?”

Adriann chuckled.  “No, Daniel, I wasn’t taking a shower.”

“What were you doing?”

Adriann felt the rare touch of embarrassment; he was not accustomed to the feeling, not with Daniel.  He cleared his throat.  “Guess,” he said coyly.

There was a long pause before Daniel said, “You’re kidding me?  You …  “

“No, and yes, I brought someone here last night.” Adriann wondered then if he should have lied because the silence on the phone was just a bit worrying.  Daniel was jealous?

 

.  .

 

At Daniel’s surprised question, both Jason and Jack looked up from their breakfast.  “What?” Jason asked.

“He brought someone home,” Daniel informed them.

When Jason and Jack lifted their brows and smirked at Daniel’s reaction, their lover turned away from them, annoyed.  “Is he still there?” Daniel asked Adriann.

“No,” Adriann replied with obvious amusement.  “You’re jealousy is comforting.  But you need not worry.  He was satisfying, but no more than that.”

Embarrassed at being called on his jealousy, Daniel still wished he hadn’t said ‘satisfying’.  “What do you mean?”

“I wish he’d been you.”

Heat suffused Daniel’s cheeks before he could stop himself and didn’t dare turn around so his lovers could see.  “Oh.”

At the table, Jason winked at Jack as he munched on a piece of bacon.  “I’ll bet you a hundred bucks Adriann just told him he was thinking of him while fucking someone else.”

“That’s a sucker’s bet,” Jack answered dryly, making Jason laugh. 

Jason leaned to the side, around Jack, trying to see Daniel’s face.  “I think he’s blushing.”

“Shut up, Jason,” Daniel shot back.

Sitting right behind Daniel, Jack slapped him on the ass, making him jump.

Scowling, Daniel turned around and snapped, “What?”

“Get off the phone and eat your breakfast.”

Daniel rolled his eyes and turned away.  “I’ll have to talk to you after breakfast.  Mother’s bitching at me.”

Jack shot out of his chair and Daniel slammed the phone down and tried to dodge out of the way, but he wasn’t quick enough.  Jack wrapped his arms around him and force-walked him toward the table.  Stopping near his chair, he growled into Daniel’s ear, “Do you want to be covered in syrup now or later?”

Jason chuckled.  “There’s an idea.”

Daniel cleared his throat as his body tingled, both from Jack’s voice in his ear and the temptation to say ‘now’.  “Later?” he asked, purposely phrasing it as a question.

Jack smiled against his throat.  “This is our day.  But we could always invite Adriann over.”

Catching on quickly, Jason added, “To watch.”

Receiving a teasing, warm kiss on the side of his face, Daniel grinned as he returned to his chair.  “With or without syrup?” he asked, then ducked, laughing, as two crumpled-up napkins flew at his head.

 

 

Alex chewed at his lip as he stared at the contents of his closet and tried to decide which shirt to wear with his jeans.  He hadn’t been out for New Year’s Eve in a while.  Going up to Denver with Jason and the others sounded like fun and he was looking forward to getting a bit snockered and making dumbass resolutions with every toast.

With a twist of his mouth, he pulled a long-sleeved purple-and-white plaid off the rack and hung it on the door knob over his pale blue jeans.  With a nod, he headed to the bathroom for his shower, stripping off his Air Force t-shirt.  Tossing it on the floor, his matching sweat pants came next.  A knock at the front door startled him and hopping on one foot, he yanked off the pants and padded down the hall to the foyer.

“Who is it?” he called out with thinly-veiled irritation, sweat pants still in his hand.

“I’ll give you one guess,” came the answer.

The familiar British accent sent a flush of warmth throughout his body, and instantly, he thought of the night they’d shared before Stuart had taken off to England.  They hadn’t gone all the way, but that hadn’t mattered at the time.  The taste of him was at the back of his mind as Alex pulled his sweat pants back on and opened the door.  He smiled, and wondered if heated interest reflected in his eyes.  “You’re back a few days early.”

The cold air had turned Stuart’s cheeks pink and warm air from his breath came out in visible puffs.  “I got bored.”

“Seriously?” Alex replied, filled with curiosity.  Stuart had been looking forward to the holidays, saying he hadn’t seen ‘his mates’ in a while.  “Your mates weren’t home?”

Stuart rubbed his hands.  “Yeah, we shared a pint and a game of darts.  Gonna invite me in or stand there and let all the heat out?”

“Right,” Alex replied, shaking his head with embarrassment while stepping aside.  “I was just gonna grab a shower,” he said as he closed the door.  “Make yourself at home, grab some coffee.  There’s half a cheese omelet I made for br–“

He was cut off with a passionate kiss as Stuart enveloped him in his arms.  The cold coat made him shiver, but he wasn’t about to leave the man’s embrace.  There were questions he was dying to ask.  Did Stuart come back because of him?  If not, did something else happen?  Was everything okay back home?  The questions, however, were shoved to the back of his mind as Stuart’s hands moved to rest at the top of his buttocks.

“Mmm,” Stuart murmured, kissing his cheek and ear.  “You’re nice and warm.”

Alex panted with excitement and turned his head, receiving a few more short kisses.  He was getting harder by the second.  “So you came here to get warm?” he teased as the kisses got longer.

Throwing off his coat, Stuart backed Alex against the door.  He’d been thinking about this during his entire stay at home.  “In a way,” he said, then smothered him with a hard, hungry kiss.

 

.  .  .

 

Karaoke on New Year’s Eve.  Jack had expected the house band at Flanagan’s Pub, not a goddamn DJ and a karaoke contest.  Still, he did have some amusements and looked forward to watching Adriann and Talen get drunk.  Risk be damned.

The slight knot between his brows caught Daniel’s attention as their group was seated at the long, oval table Jack had reserved.  “What’s the matter?” he sing-songed loudly, having to raise his voice over the music.  Over the DJ booth, a running marquee announced that an 80s theme was on queue; Tainted Love boomed through the speakers.

Jack shook his head and gestured at the stage, where an open mike sat.  “Nothing.  I just expected their house band, not a DJ and a karaoke contest.”

“I was, too, but what the hell.  It might be fun.” He took a seat at the table, though he was a bit dismayed by its placement against the wall and by the pub’s enormous bar.

“What’re you scowling about?” Jason asked, pulling out a chair next to Jack.

“Who?” Daniel said.

“You and Jack.”

Daniel waved at their table, the wall, and the bar.  “This was the best they could do?”

Jason shrugged, indicating he didn’t have a problem with it.  “It’s perfect for me.  Our backs are against the wall.”

“For you, maybe,” Stuart said as he pulled out a chair.

“We have protection,” Alex smirked, tipping his head toward Adriann and Talen.  He received an eyeroll in response.

“Not really what I meant,” Stuart answered.

“And your problem?” Jason asked Jack.

“The house band isn’t playing,” Daniel answered instead.

“Ohh,” Jason drew out, looking at the stage.  “Yeah, don’t blame him.” Catching Jack’s eye, he offered, “We can always go somewhere else.”

“No, it’s fine,” Jack smirked.  “We couldn’t find seats anywhere else with this horde.” With Stuart, their number now counted eight.

“I believe it should be interesting,” Talen told Jack as she waited for Jalen, to her right, to sit down next to next to Adriann, who sat to Daniel’s left.  Pulling out her chair, she caught several men sitting in nearby tables staring at her.  “You wish something?” she asked the man directly behind her.

He exchanged looks with his friends, who laughed at his moment of embarrassment.  “I was just wondering if you’d come home with me.”

After getting a quick mental tip from Jalen, she smiled at him, showing off her stark white teeth.  “I bite.”

He smiled broadly.  “I don’t mind.”

Knowing he hadn’t taken her seriously, she stared down at him, then bent over, letting him get a good look at her cleavage.  For the evening, she’d decided to wear nothing else underneath her jerkin and had left the laces loosely tied at the top.  “I am not kidding.”

As she sat down, rolling her eyes, Adriann smiled at her.  “You appear to have admirers.”

The right side of upper lip raised in a brief sneer of disgust.  “Not the type I would prefer.” To her left sat Alex, and next to him, Stuart.  She caught the latter’s grin and lifted a brow.  “You wonder what that is?”

“I’m just surprised that you seem to be put off by the attention you’re getting.”

“She’s just shy,” Jason said next to him.

“Your definition is flawed,” Talen shot back, making Daniel laugh.

“What is karaoke again?” Adriann asked, and just as Daniel began to explain again, the waiter returned with small menus.  They were passed around quickly and contained mainly specialty drinks, appetizers, and snack food.

“Ooh, nachos,” Jalen said, eyes widening.

The waiter explained that there was a party size available and so they ordered that to begin with, along with their drinks.  Adriann and Talen had no idea what to have, so Daniel ordered for them.

As the waiter departed, Talen asked warily, “What is a Blue Hawaiian?”

“A blue drink in a big glass,” Daniel answered.  “Trust me, I think you’ll like it.”

“You know I do not care much for the taste of most of your alcohol.”

“I know, which is why I ordered that.” He opened his menu and showed her the picture.

She pulled open her menu to the appropriate page and stared at the provided image.  “It looks like an art sculpture.” She earned a few laughs and ignored them as she continued to stare at the picture.  To her, it did look like art.  Blue liquid inside something called a hurricane glass.  Slotted on the flared rim was an orange slice skewered with a cherry.

“And mine?” Adriann asked.

Daniel pointed to the Smith and Wesson‘s definition.  “You like sweets, and Talen likes a bit of tart, so I think you’ll both like these.”

Jack turned to Stuart.  “How was home?”

Stuart gave him a lop-sided grin.  “Good.”

“He said he got bored,” Alex replied and received the barest wink from his lover.

“Bored?” Daniel asked.

“I hadn’t been home since last Christmas,” Stuart explained.  “Met some of my mates down at the local pub and Christ have they changed.” He made a face.  “They’ve changed in a year.  It was disconcerting.” Sipping at his glass of ice water, he added, “Bloody annoying when that happens.”

“Could be they’ve stayed the same and it’s you that’s changed,” Jack told him.

“Bollocks.  I’m the same charming self I’ve always been.”

Jack grinned at him.  “That island you’re selling?  Not buying.”

Stuart chuckled.  “Pity.”

“There are times,” Daniel said with a bland tone, “when change in your friends is a good thing.”

Jack looked at him in surprise, his expression sober, but when he finally got what Daniel meant, his lips slowly curved upward.  “So it is,” he said, lifting his water glass.

Daniel lifted his and toasted, and on Jack’s other side, Jason was smiling to himself.  When Jack clicked his glass, Jason picked it up, saluted, and took a sip.  As Jack’s gaze remained on him, he leaned over and whispered, “I’d like to kiss you right now.”

Jack smiled and glanced at Daniel, who’d heard.  “Wait till midnight,” Daniel said.

Jack looked at them both with mock disgust.  “See, that’s the problem with threesomes.  Who kisses who first at midnight?”

“I vote they kiss together at midnight,” Alex grinned.

“You just like to watch,” Jason quipped.

“Damn straight,” Alex answered, though he was blushing a bit when Stuart looked at him in way that made him squirm.

“Why wait till midnight?” Talen asked, having forgotten what New Year’s Eve meant.

“That’s when the year turns over, remember?” Adriann told her.

She lifted her chin in acknowledgement as the waiter returned, with help.  Her piece of art was placed in front of her and she leaned in and sniffed it.  It smelled of oranges, which reminded her that she’d have to ask Jalen for some currency in order to replace the juice she’d finished off in Sam’s fridge.

She took a sip of the concoction as the others dove into the nachos and was pleasantly surprised by the taste.  Looking over at her brother to see how he liked the drink chosen for him, she started to laugh because Adriann was draining the glass.

“That good?” she asked, knowing she echoed the sentiments of the others.

He licked his lips.  “It is,” he said, then frowned that he’d have to wait for another to be brought.

Daniel chewed at his lip, considering what it would be like to get Adriann drunk.  “When the waiter comes back, I’ll have him bring three.”

“That would be better,” Adriann agreed with an apparent straight face, then dryly added, “But you don’t want me drunk, Daniel.”

“Indeed,” Talen agreed, her brow arching as an accent to her warning.

Jack drank down a third of his glass and studied it as he set it down.  “Who’re the designated drivers again?” he asked, knowing the answer.

“You and me,” Daniel smirked.

“Damn,” Jack replied with a grin.

Surprising them, Jack’s cellphone rang and everyone immediately tensed.

“Don’t fucking tell me,” Jason growled in disgust.

Jack looked at his cell and grinned crookedly.  “It’s Carter.” Pressing the button, he said, “Happy New Year.”

“Same to you, sir.”

“Carter.”

“What?”

“Never mind,” Jack said, knowing it was pointless to remind her that they were off-duty.  He would always call her Carter and she would always call him sir.  “How’re you and Teal’c?”

“Fine.  I’ll let him talk to you in a sec.  But I called for two reasons.  One, to wish you a Happy New Year.”

“Backatcha,” Jack said, taking a sip from his drink and seriously contemplating asking someone else to drive.  “And two?”

“I have some news.”

“About?” Jack asked, hating that she always had to drag things out and never get right to the point.  At least she’d dropped the ‘sir’, though he could still hear it in her tone.

“Davis called me from DC.  DADT is going to be repealed next week.”

Jack frowned, unsure he’d heard what he’d heard.  “Say that again.” She did.  Absorbing the news quickly, Jack thought of two things.  The first was that he had been under the impression that the President and the Joint Chiefs were going to put that on hold.  Second …  “Why’d he call you and not me?”

“Because he knows how much you hate being bothered while you’re on leave.”

Jack had to concede that.  “It’s good news, Carter, but it doesn’t mean a whole lot.  Damn vote will be held up for weeks, probably months.”

“He seemed pretty damn certain.”

Hope flared just a bit, but too used to bad regs, Jack pushed it aside.  “We’ll just have to cross our fingers and wait and see.  Military changes never occur that fast unless we’re going into battle.”

“I know.”

Jack paused, waiting to see if she had anything to add, and caught arched brows from Daniel and Jason.  When she didn’t say anything more, he passed the phone to Daniel.

Smiling, Daniel took it and said hello and Happy New Year.  When Sam repeated the news, however, Daniel’s response was completely different from Jack’s.  “What?” he yelled.

Jack tried to contain the smug grin on his face, knowing that’s exactly how Daniel would react.

“What?” Jason asked.

Daniel told him, and the others, and the response was similar to his own.  Except for Stuart, who simply told Daniel, “About fucking time, mate.”

“Yeah, well,” Jack said, waving his hand airily.

After Daniel asked Sam about her family and caught up on what she’d been doing, his expression changed when Teal’c got on the phone.  “How’s San Diego?”

“Warmer,” came the Jaffa’s reply.

When Daniel began to tease him about meeting Sam’s family, and all that entailed, Teal’c answered diplomatically, then redirected by asking him how things were with Adriann.  Suddenly Daniel backtracked.  “Fine.  Here’s Jack.”

With a smirk, Jack took the phone.  “Hey, T.  How’s the ocean?”

“Wet,” Teal’c responded, and the two of them got into a little sparring match filled with the same silly questions and one-word replies.

Chuckling, Jack said, “Hanging up now, T.  Here’s everyone,” and he held the phone out to a chorus of “Happy New Year.” As he pocketed his phone, a woman about Sam’s height with long, wavy blonde hair, approached Jalen.  Her attention was clearly focused on him, though she nodded at everyone else.

He looked up at her and smiled with interest.  “Well hello there, gorgeous,” he said.  “What can I do for you?”

She gestured at Jason.  “Are you twins?”

Winking at Jason, he said, “We are.”

She pointed over her shoulder at a table filled with women.  One of them looked just like her, only with shorter, straighter hair.  “My sister and I were wondering if you’d like to dance.”

“Does it have to be both of us?” Jalen asked.

She smiled just a bit shyly in front of their large group.  “No.  We just thought it would be fun.”

Jalen stood up and threw Jason a glittering, teasing smile.  “Come on, it’ll be fun.”

Feeling a bit cornered, Jason nevertheless found the little game the sisters were playing amusing.  Standing up, he grinned down at Jack and Daniel and they were smiling back at him knowingly.  The woman’s sister was in for a let-down if she and her twin wanted anything more than a dance.

The ending notes to one slow song were fading and another began, blending seamlessly.  Jalen was already leading his partner out on the floor and Jason caught the sister’s gaze as she got up and met him halfway.  Along the edge of the dance floor, he held out his hand.  “Jason.”

“Siohban,” she said, taking it.

“Ah, an Irish lass,” he teased in a lame accent.

“Half,” she said, lifting a lock of her hair.  “The rest is Danish and Norwegian.”

He bowed his head slightly.  “Scottish and Navajo.”

“Do you and your brother often look so different?”

He nodded with a brief arch of his brow.  “We do, but I’d grow my hair given half the chance.”

Frowning with confusion, she asked, “Why don’t you?”

“I’m Air Force.”

At that information, she seemed to warm to him more than usual, asking him what he did, if he’d been to Afghanistan or Iraq.  Jason lied, as he had to.

“I’ve seen my share of battle,” he said.  Just not on Earth.

“Are you just home on leave?” she asked.

He took that opportunity to close off any romantic avenues she might have on her mind.  “I am.  I leave the States in two days.”

She was quiet for a minute, her gaze falling briefly on her sister before it landed, inevitably it seemed, on the ring on his finger.  His left finger.  Jason hadn’t switched to his right hand yet and he’d done it on purpose.  Jack would no doubt remind him tomorrow to switch to the other hand.

“You’re married?” she asked.

Jason gave her a tender smile.  “Sorry to disappoint.”

She looked confused.  “I’m sorry, but …” She swiveled her head, glancing back at the table, and he turned them around so she could see better.  “Is that her?” she asked, referring to Talen.  Her frown deepened, and Jason figured she was wondering why Talen was seated across the table and not next to him.

“No,” Jason replied, and quickly considered the option of telling her the truth.  He could so easily lie.

Her face mirrored relief, but there were curious questions behind her eyes.  “Is she working?”

“My, my, such questions.  Are you worried that I’m out cheating on my better half?”

“No, of course not.” She looked at him apologetically, automatically giving him the benefit of the doubt.  It made Jason wonder why people did that.  Was it so they wouldn’t give inadvertent offense?

“As it happens, my better half is here,” he said, instantly deciding to see what kind of person she was.

“Is she sitting with others?” Siohban asked, pointlessly looking around as if she’d spot her somehow.

Jason shook his head, making up his mind.  At midnight, if she was still at the pub, she’d find out anyway.  “He is sitting at our table.” Her hand in his relaxed its grip, though she didn’t let go.  On his shoulder, the pressure her hand gave also lifted slightly.  Jason wondered if it was out of homophobia or some misunderstanding that she shouldn’t be dancing with a gay man.  When she didn’t say anything, or walk off the dance floor, he asked, “It doesn’t mean I can’t dance with whomever I want.”

She abruptly frowned.  “But …  you can’t get married in Colorado.  Or in the military.”

“That will change,” he said, then wiggled his ring finger in their clasped hands.  “This may not be considered legal, but it doesn’t make it any less important.”

“Right,” she said automatically.

Sensing her discomfort, he said, “Well, let’s see.  We have two options now.  Either we can stop dancing and get off the dance floor, or you can ask me whatever’s on your mind.”

She shook her head, keeping her hands on him and indicating she didn’t want to leave.  Quiet for a few minutes as another slow song began to play, she suddenly asked, “Does it hurt?”

He frowned, not wanting to acknowledge that she was asking what he thought she was asking.  “Excuse me?”

“When you have sex,” she asked in a whisper against his ear.

Jason gave her a long, steady look.  “First of all, why do you assume you can ask that?  Would you be fine if I asked you if your intercourse hurt at all?” When she blushed, furious at his rebuke, he then said, “And second, many people have anal sex.  Straight and gay makes no difference.  It depends on whether or not someone is doing it wrong.  And yes, like breaking a woman’s hymen, first times do hurt, but like all sex, it gets better.  Next question.”

She didn’t say anything, and he could feel that she wanted to break off and leave the floor.  He figured the only reason she didn’t was because she didn’t want to attract attention.  However, there was no telling if it was because she wanted to hide that he was gay or that she simply didn’t think it polite.

Trying to mend things so that her evening wouldn’t be marred, he said, “I apologize for snapping.”

Surprising him, she looked relieved.  “Thanks.  And I apologize for being rude.”

“Appreciated,” he answered, and the tension between them lessened.

After a few moments of silence, she opened her mouth to say something, then seemed to change her mind.

“What?” he asked.

“Do you often dance with women?”

He gave her a warm, revelatory grin.  “Sometimes, but to tell you the truth, I don’t get the chance to dance that often.”

“Oh yeah, I guess not,” she said with embarrassment, remembering the lie about serving in the war.  She suddenly made a face.

“What?” he repeated, showing amusement.

“I can’t stand this song,” she answered, then began to talk about music.  He barely knew the names of the bands she prattled off and it occurred to him that being part of the SGC was pretty much like serving overseas.  You missed a hell of a lot when you didn’t make time to listen to music radio.

“Jason?”

He realized he hadn’t been listening.  “Sorry.  Was just thinking that I’m not up on the current music scene.” When he listed the names of the bands and music, he was most familiar with, her interested and polite expression changed to patronizing.  It was at that moment that Jason remembered that she was in her early twenties.  He was literally old enough to be her father.

When the song ended, he released his hold on her waist and lightly kissed the back of her hand.  “Thank you for the dances,” he said.  She simply smiled at him and walked hurriedly back to her table.  He watched her for a moment, waiting for the inevitable shocked turns of head when they’d look at the gay man.  When nothing happened, he decided she hadn’t dropped the bombshell yet and turned to go back to the table.  Glancing back to the dance floor, he saw that Jalen was still rapped up in her sister.  And seemed to be enjoying himself.  For the tiniest moment, Jason envied his bisexuality.

“How was the dance?” Jack asked with a dry expression as Jason retook his seat.

Jason grinned at him and waggled his left ring finger.  “I’m afraid I disappointed her.”

Talen snorted, the light in her eyes telling him she’d read his mind.  Elbow on the table, she held out her hand, palm up.  “I believe it is time for you to show me some of those dance moves.”

“Why me?” Jason asked, looking at Daniel, Alex, and Stuart for bailout.  He purposely skipped over Jack, already knowing what he’d say.

Alex turned to her and took her hand.  “I’d be delighted, even though I’m a little shorter than you are.”

Jack snorted.  “You’re shorter than everyone here, Alex.”

“Be quiet you,” Alex said, not looking at him.  To Talen, he went on with a teasing grin.  “But I should warn you that they’ve been playing slow songs for a while now and they’re bound to change.”

“To what?” she frowned.

“Faster songs,” Stuart replied, draining his glass, and looking around for the waiter.  Signaling at him, he added, “It’s getting a little drowsy in here.”

To emphasize his point, another slow song began to play, and the noise level in the large pub began to rise, colored with restlessness.

“Come on, Talen,” Alex said, rising.

Everyone at the table watched them go out to the dance floor and disappear within the crowd of couples.  It was easy to spot them, however, given Talen’s height.

Daniel suddenly snorted as he imagined what would happen if the DJ started to play early 80s Disco.  Jason looked over.  “You thinking what I’m thinking?”

Daniel chuckled.  “Maybe I should go over and request a song.”

Jason nodded.  “Ask him if he’s got the updated karaoke songs, the ones with backtracks.  I’d like to know what we’re gonna be subjected to.”

After Daniel got up and wove his way through tables, Jack frowned at Jason.  “What kinds of songs?” he repeated.

Jason shrugged as he sat back and crossed his ankles.  “The ones with the original music so the singing doesn’t sound like it’s accompanied by elevator music.”

“How would you know about that?” Jack asked with a grin.

Jason looked defensive.  “I looked it up.” When Jack looked confused, he added, “You know.  Online?” He laughed quietly, finding it amusing that Jack still hadn’t gotten used to the amount of information available online.  He really should know better by now, especially since Daniel did a lot of research that way.

“So what’s your girlfriend’s name?” Jack teased.

Jason shot him a smug look.  “Jack.”

Stuart started laughing and Jack was prevented from a nasty rejoinder as the waiter appeared for another round of drinks. 

.  .

 

An hour and a half later, everyone but Stuart and Alex was just a tiny bit drunk.  Not enough for slurred speech or unbalanced walking, but moods were definitely loosened.  Daniel couldn’t help but be thankful toward his sober friends.  After noticing that he and Jack were looking a little dismayed at watching Jason get drunk without them, they’d offered to take over the designated driver duties.  They weren’t too interested in getting buzzed and had already switched to soda.

Surprising Jason, Siohban had come to ask him dance again when the karaoke contest took breaks for normal music playing.  Jalen had already moved on to other partners.  In fact, he had been the most asked, and Alex was quickly matching him.

After Jason had come back, he endured a little teasing.  “Okay, okay, you can back off now,” he warned.  Downing his sixth Long Island Iced Tea, he cleared his throat and stood up.  “Don’t do anything I would do, and if you do, don’t name it after me.”

“Where you going?” Jack asked, reaching for him, and missing.

“I’ll be back,” Jason assured him with a grin, and tapped the top button of his jeans as if to indicate he was off to take a leak.

A few silent moments later, Adriann said, “I think he’s had enough to drink.” There was a smile on his face, though he had no intention of explaining why.

“He’s fine,” Daniel said, jogging his brows.  “Trust me.”

“How would you know?” Adriann accused with a grin.  “You are already drunk.”

Daniel conceded that with a goofy grin.  “Fair enough, but you’re one to talk.”

Adriann and Talen hadn’t drunk nearly as much as their friends, but Daniel could feel their relaxed states of mind.  Something that was rare in the middle of a crowd of strangers.

“Do not start to tease me, Daniel,” Adriann warned.

“Why not?” Daniel sing-songed.

“Because you know that only turns me on and I will end up spiriting you away from here for a while.”

Daniel felt the heat rise to his cheeks as the thought turned him on, then suddenly Jack’s hand laid possessively on his thigh while his gaze rested challengingly on Adriann.

“Wanna bet?”

Adriann’s smile returned the challenge.  “Would you care to wager that you would accompany him?”

“Both of us?” Daniel asked, getting a little warmer.

Adriann lifted his chin and said nothing.  He didn’t have to.  Daniel knew he was serious, despite the playful tone.  “Not till we get home,” he said, taking a long drink from his glass.

“Done,” Adriann replied, copying him.

“Hang on,” Jack argued, waving a hand at both of them.  “I didn’t agree.”

“Not yet,” Talen said, unable to resist smiling back at Jack’s mock-scowl.  “And you cannot leave Jason alone.”

“And what would you be doing?” Jack asked her, ignoring his own contradiction.

“What would you like me to be doing?” she countered.

Daniel suddenly imagined an orgy in Jack’s living room and despite that amusing, if arousing, idea, he knew that Jason wouldn’t be too interested in sharing with a woman.  “Hunting with Jalen?” he offered, raising his brows.

Reading his mind, Talen nodded in acquiescence, though she threw Jack a sultry, dirty look.  Just when Daniel sensed that she and Jack were about to start trading erotic barbs, the music ended, and the DJ announced part two of the contest.  Jalen returned to their table and sat down, and as if he’d been listening to them, put his arm around Talen’s shoulders.

“There are some hot prospects here.  Care to join me later?”

“Closer to home would be more advisable,” she answered.

“What, you can’t fly home?” Jack teased.

As Daniel and Alex started laughing, Stuart looked around.  “Where’s Jason?” he asked loudly.

“Taking a leak,” Jack said, pretending to ignore the hint of warning on Talen’s face.  The idea of being with her was arousing, but not half as arousing as imagining her with someone else.  “Here’s an idea,” he said, now looking around for Jason.  Not seeing him, he focused his eyes on Talen and Jalen.  “Why don’t you two bring your …  dates …  back to my place.”

Daniel’s mouth dropped open, then snapped closed.  Jack’s kink for voyeurism and exhibitionism was extremely hot, though he was usually involved in it.  Intimating that he’d like to watch Talen was more than a good idea.  And Jason wouldn’t have to share.

Clearing his throat and not caring about the pink rising to his cheeks, he smiled at her, then Adriann.  “Providing Adriann wouldn’t mind having his sister in the room.”

Adriann and Talen exchanged smiles.  “Were we not in the same room a few years ago?” he asked her.

“I do not recall,” she replied, and turned her attention on Jack.  “I was too busy with Jack to notice.”

“Point,” Jack said behind his glass.

“And for our second round, we have Jason, singing The Beatles’ ‘In My Life’.”

Jack’s and Daniel’s heads whipped to their left, toward the stage.  And there, before the tall microphone, stood Jason.

“Oh my fucking god,” Daniel whispered as Jason started to sing.

“There are places I remember,
All my life, though some have changed,
Some for forever not for better,
Some have gone and some remain.
All these places had their moments,
With lovers and friends,
I still can recall.
Some are dead and some are living,
In my life I’ve loved them all.

While Jack and Daniel sat riveted, both in awe and embarrassment, Stuart lifted his brow and remarked, “Not bad.”

Alex elbowed him.  “Not bad?  He really can sing, drunk or not.” Looking at Daniel, he added, “Who’d you say he sort of sounded like?”

“Don Henley,” Daniel replied absently as he shushed Alex from talking to him.  He was too busy focusing on the words and why Jason had chosen the song.

“But of all these friends and lovers,
there is no one compares with you.
And these memories lose their meaning,
When I think of love as something new.
Though I know I’ll never lose affection,
For people and things that went before.
I know I’ll often stop and think about them.
In my life I love you more.

Though I know I’ll never lose affection,
For people and things that went before.
I know I’ll often stop and think about them,
In my life I love you more.
In my life I love you more.

Throughout Jason’s song, neither Jack nor Daniel were aware of the wolf whistles and calls of approval.  When Jason ended the song, copying Lennon’s high note, the crowded pub erupted with applause and more wolf whistles.  Jason made an exaggerated bow and jumped off the stage as the DJ commended him with a sarcastic comment about karaoke being an amateur contest.

Jason made his way through the maze of tables, knowing damn well that he’d just shocked the shit out of his lovers.  Coming into view and nodding absently at a few strangers who were verbally high-fiving him, his gaze rested on Jack and Daniel.  They sat there, appearing displeased, but Jason didn’t miss the looks in their eyes.  He had expected as much.  Coming round behind them, he rested his hands on Daniel’s shoulders and kissed him on the cheek, then did the same with Jack.  “Love you,” he said before he sat down.

“You’re full of surprises, mate,” Stuart said, raising his glass.

“Indeed,” Talen said as the others joined Stuart, then added with a wink, “It is a shame that you only bed men.”

Jason, in the act of drinking, swallowed wrong and coughed.  As bent over, covering his mouth through the short fit, Jack slapped him on the back.  “Sometimes, I’m glad for that.”

Jason started to laugh and batted Jack’s hand away.  “You’re hilarious.”

“You’re laughing,” Jack rejoined.

Clearing his throat and hitting his chest with his fist, Jason threw Jack a provocative smile.  “I think you just volunteered to be catcher.”

With a brief glance at Daniel, Jack leaned over.  “Fine by me,” he whispered in Jason’s ear.  “It’ll give me a better view of our guests and their partners.”

Jason turned to look Jack in the eye.  “Exactly what does that mean?”

“I invited our friends home.” Jack paused, thinking about Adriann and Talen’s comments earlier.  “Do you mind if Jalen’s there?”

Prompted by the question, Jason recalled the discussion with Jalen during their sparring match.  Perhaps if he were sober, he’d say no, but right now, he couldn’t deny Jack the opportunity to watch his twin.  And a small part of him was curious about Jalen, and whether his hybrid side behaved like Adriann and Talen.

“If it’s what you want,” he whispered back.  When Jack slid his hand over his thigh, Jason immediately removed it.  “Oh no you don’t,” he said with a scolding smile.  “I’m already trying not to get a hard-on.”

Having heard, Daniel chuckled, though he was more amused by the way Stuart and Alex were trying not to notice.  “I think we’re making our friends uncomfortable.  We should probably behave.”

“Tell her that,” Jack quipped, thumbing at Talen.  She had turned her chair and was currently looking around with a half-smile on her face.

“I’m not worried about her,” Daniel said, giving a mental hug to Talen as he felt her caress his mind.

 

.  .

 

Five minutes to midnight.  Waiters and waitresses had already gone throughout the pub, handing out party favors like streamers, snakes, and horns.  Above them, in clumps around the pub’s ceiling, balloons were waiting to be dropped.  The DJ had already switched to regular music after certificates for best and worst karaoke singers had been awarded.  Jason had not won, and for that, he’d been immensely relieved.  When he’d taken the stage, it hadn’t been for ego.

Jack looked at his new watch despite the large countdown clock over the DJ’s booth.  Through the speakers, Madonna blared, and unconsciously, Jason was moving to the beat.  He double-taked when he noticed Jack watching him with an amused expression and leaned over to whisper in his ear.

“I’d love to dirty dance to this, but you’d just stand there.”

Jack shook his head.  “That’s because you wouldn’t last ten seconds before I dragged you out to the truck.”

“Promise?” Jason asked, eyes bright with sexual mischief.

Jack rewarded him with his most sexy smile.  “Promise.  Threat.  Whatever works.”

Adriann wrinkled his brow in confusion and nudged Daniel.  “If you’re going to be kissing Jack and Jason at midnight, what am I supposed to be doing?”

“You can always kiss me,” Jalen offered dryly, his gaze everywhere but on Adriann.

“And me?” Talen asked.

“You too,” Jalen told her with a jog of his brows.

She suddenly hiccupped, drawing stares and laughter from everyone.  Adriann reached for her half-empty glass but she slapped his hand away.

“I think you’ve had enough art sculptures,” he grinned.

“So have you, dear brother, but I would not dream of coming between you and those Wesson Smith’s.”

Daniel spit a mouthful of his drink back into the glass as he burst out laughing.  “Smith and Wesson.  Jesus, Talen, you are drunk.”

“That was the purpose of being here, was it not?” she asked, raising her glass, and sipping through the straw.

Jack chuckled.  “She has a point.”

Paul McCartney’s “Live and Let Die” filled the pub, getting Daniel, Jason, Jalen, Alex, and Stuart to sing along as the clocked ticked down.  At zero, the joint erupted in noise and cheers and balloons.  Daniel, Jack, and Jason turned to each other, their mouths meeting in a firm but chaste kiss.

Daniel opened his mind to their feelings and the love he felt for them seemed to intensify as it merged with the love they sent back.  “I love you,” he said, and Jason and Jack said it at the same time.  Laughing, he squeezed them tightly and let them go.

He felt Adriann before he knew he was behind him.  Receiving a quick kiss, Daniel reached up to stroke a lock of Adriann’s hair.  “Thanks, you know, for everything.” He waved airily about him.  “It wouldn’t be possible if you hadn’t been able to come.”

Shaking his head ever so slightly, Adriann cupped his face.  “It’s the least I can do since it’s my–“

Daniel placed his index finger on Adriann’s lips.  “No more blame, remember?”

Adriann grabbed the finger and kissed it.  “Done.”

Jack picked up his glass and held it out.  “To a better year.”

“Cheers,” Stuart replied.

Echoing his toast, the others raised their glasses and drank.  As the slow drum beat of a romantic song filled the pub, couples filed out to the dance floor.  Having sat through the evening, Daniel took Jack by the hand.  “Come on,” he said with a wink and pulled Jack reluctantly to the dance floor.

Jack wasn’t too keen on the idea, primarily because they may be seen.  But they’d traveled to Denver, and this pub, for a reason.  This was a mixed bar.  Anyone who knew who they were and where they worked would have their own explaining to do if they tried to make mischief.  Besides, they’d already kissed, so as Jack’s dad used to say, “You pays your moneys, you takes your chances.”

There was an awkward moment between them when they both tried to take the lead.  Daniel chuckled and solved the problem by wrapping his arms around Jack’s neck.  Jack responded in kind, his arms around Daniel’s waist.

“Problem solved,” he said, half teasing and half complimenting.

Daniel threw him a mischievous look.  “One of us has to when we’re not at work.” He was rewarded with a sexy grin that forced a tingle straight down his tailbone.  Heavy with alcohol and the lack of inhibition, he said, “Jason’s next.  Then I want go home and fuck you both stupid.”

Jack privately agreed, but to be contrary, he said, “I don’t get a dance with him?”

“Do you want to dance with him?” Daniel asked.

“When’s the last time I did?”

“Fair point,” Daniel answered.  “Besides, Jason will cut in any time now,” he added, and with the sort of smile that made Jack feel both teased and turned on.

“Stop that.”

Daniel gave Jack an intense look as he closed in for a soft kiss.  “I love you.”

Jack pressed their foreheads together.  “I love you more.”

Coming up beside them as the DJ gave the couples more time with another slow song, Jason placed his hands on their backs.  “Mind if I cut in?”

Jack looked at Daniel with something approaching irritation.  “You’re damn spooky sometimes.”

“What if I’d wanted to dance with you?” Jason asked as he and Daniel placed their arms around each other.

“You will,” Jack said over his shoulder as he headed back to the table.  Not going back to his chair, he stood by Talen’s instead and watched his lovers.

Rising, Talen took his hand.  “Come.”

With a short laugh, Jack looked at Stuart and Alex as he said, “Yes, ma’am,” as he allowed her to lead him to the floor.

Jason noticed and grinned, jerking his chin.  Daniel looked over his shoulder, then snorted.  “All night he sits there and declines Talen’s requests, and now he accepts?”

Jason grinned.  “Either he’s saving the trouble of coming back out on the floor or he’s trying to make us jealous.”

Daniel threw a disbelieving look at him.  “That’s not Jack’s style.  Besides, it wouldn’t work.”

“But he’d try it anyway because we both know that he is attracted to her.”

Daniel jogged his brows.  “Another good point.” They watched their lover, curious about what he was thinking.  When Jack looked over, as if he’d been saving the moment, he shot them a wolfish grin.  Daniel and Jason exchanged looks of mock-disgust.  Jack was taunting them in one of his playful methods of foreplay.  “Bastard knows what he’s doing,” Daniel said with a smidgen of admiration.

“Doesn’t he always?”

Several feet away, Talen smirked at Jack’s smug expression.  “Do you always do that?”

“Catch on fast, don’t you?” he asked, returning her measured gaze.  He found he liked being able to look into her eyes without looking down.

She threw him a disgusted look.  “I’m a telepath.  There is no need to catch anything.”

He laughed softly, conceding.  A silent minute slid by and as Jack focused on her face, he couldn’t help but wish that he could tell when she was reading his mind.

“I have decided not to join you,” she said suddenly.

For a moment, Jack was puzzled.  Then he caught on.  He wasn’t disappointed, and in fact, he was rather relieved.  Only Jason and Daniel were the center of his attention.  “What changed your mind?”

“Jalen and I do not wish to engage in sex in the presence of our …  what is your word …  siblings.  So we will be seeking our partners elsewhere.”

“Jalen too, eh?” Jack asked, equally unconcerned about that.  Though he’d liked being with him, he really didn’t want him around when they got home.  Adriann suddenly came to mind; Talen hadn’t mentioned him, which meant he was staying with them for the evening.  At first, Jack wasn’t too keen on the idea, but then he thought of watching him bite Daniel.  That was something he’d like.  “Adriann doesn’t have any plans, does he?”

“Not if you do not mind his joining you?” she asked, knowing he didn’t.

“Haven’t had that foursome in a while,” he said, and he wasn’t being sarcastic.  He couldn’t remember the last time.  For a moment, that annoyed him.

Talen stepped away from him and Jack realized then that the song had ended.  With a devious smile, she walked toward Daniel, passing Jason, and briefly touching his hand.  Jack stood there like an expectant groom and the split-second image caused a curious heat in his stomach.  As another song began, Jason took his hand and placed the other on his shoulder, giving Jack the lead.

They locked gazes, silently dancing to the slow beat.  Jason’s body heat was distracting, and Jack cleared his throat.  “What’s the name of this song?”

Jason pressed in, his lips close to Jack’s ear.  “‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’.”

Neither one of them cared about the song but something had to be said to defuse the electricity building between them.  And hard-ons were damn annoying to dance with, never mind walk.

“How was Talen?” Jason toyed.

“She and Jalen aren’t joining us,” Jack replied, then stopped moving and leaned in, pulling Jason against him as he kissed him.

Sexual desire rose fast and Jason moaned into his mouth.  Swallowing, he said, “I think it’s time to get the hell out of here.”

“I agree.”

Getting back to the table at the same time as Daniel and Talen, it seemed Adriann was also in agreement.  The look he gave them as he stood was filled with frustrated anticipation.  The only problem was that he was the only one waiting at the table.  Jalen was dancing with the twins.

Alex and Stuart weren’t visible, and Daniel and Jack searched the dance floor.  Daniel spotted them on the other side, near the edge, and they were dirty dancing.  He smiled and pointed.  “They’re over there.”

Jason smirked.  “I think they’re in the mood to leave, too.”

Talen looked at her brother, then raised her voice for everyone else to hear.  “Jalen and I will not be joining you once we return.”

Adriann grabbed her hand and squeezed, giving his consent as well as sending her the message that he was in complete agreement.  Aloud, he said, “Don’t break your toys, Talen.  They have to be put back the same way you found them.”

“Not quite the same way,” she said, her eyes twinkling.

Adriann grinned back, then looked for Jalen on the dance floor and sent him a message.

It is time to go.

Jack raised his hand, signaling to their waiter with a wave of his wallet.  The waiter acknowledged the meaning and headed in the direction of the bar.  When Jalen returned, Jack gestured in the twins’ direction.  “Sorry if we interrupted any plans.”

Jalen ran a hand through his long hair.  “Not really.  I’m in the mood to find me a hetero couple.”

Daniel laughed as Jason rolled his eyes.  “What, that bother you?” he teased.

Jason made a face at his brother.  “Only the idea of someone who looks like me having sex with a woman.”

“Suck it up,” Jalen intentionally threw back.  The collective groan made him laugh.

“Thanks for that image, asshole,” Jason complained with a sour look.

“Suck it up,” Jack repeated, but the words were spoken in Jason’s ear.  The tone was low and growling, and without a second thought, Jason threw an arm around Jack’s neck and yanked him into a passionate kiss.  He sucked his lover’s tongue into his mouth and when that happened, Jack groaned and pulled away.

“Sonofabitch,” he replied, wiping his mouth.

Watching them, Daniel wished the ride home wouldn’t take long.  When the next song began to play and Stuart and Alex weren’t leaving the dance floor, he started to head over, but Jason waved him off.

“No, I’ll get them,” he said, walking off with long strides.

Daniel recognized that walk and gave Jack a disapproving look.  “You’re being very bad.” A slow smile spread across Jack’s face; Daniel didn’t need to be told what it meant.  Jack hadn’t been spanked in a while.  Before he could comment, the waiter returned to take Jack’s credit card.  When the waiter departed, Jack turned to Daniel, catching him moving to the music.  Imagining those hips and shoulders moving to another type of tune, he said, “What was that you said to me while we were dancing?”

Daniel cleared his throat and picked up his glass, sucking a few ice cubes in his mouth.  As he crunched, he looked back at Jack, his eyes answering the question for him.

 

.  .

 

Walking across the large parking lot, the group reached Jack’s and Jason’s trucks, parked side by side next to one of the brightly lit lamp posts.  Everyone had sex on their minds, and designated drivers Stuart and Alex separated regretfully.  Jack held up his keys after opening the driver’s door and handed them to Stuart.

“Try not to criticize,” Stuart said with a smirk as he got in and started up the truck.

“Just stay on the right side of the road,” Jack quipped back.

Alex came up to them, clearing his throat at Jack.  He took the hint and went over to Jason’s truck.

“What?” Jason asked, sliding back out of the passenger seat.

Jack jerked his head at Alex and Stuart.  “The lovebirds are saying goodbye.”

Jason laughed and a few seconds later, Alex returned.  “Get back to your truck,” Alex smirked.

“Bite me,” Jack replied.

“I’ll ride in back with Adriann,” Daniel said, motioning to Jack’s truck.

“Why not with me?” Jason protested.

“Because Jalen and Talen will be in your truck,” Daniel gestured, and when Jason’s expression turned confused, he added, “Because you’re too fucking tempting, okay?”

Jason snorted.  “And Adriann isn’t?”

“Well if it isn’t the bunch of faggots!”

The offensive shout came from across the aisle between the row of cars.  It had the immediate effect of dampening the mood like a bucket of water on a camp fire.  Everyone turned toward the speaker to find five men standing by an old four-door sedan euphemistically called a gas-guzzling boat.  They were laughing at the expletive and another man shouted something similar.

“Why don’t you perverts commit suicide!  The world would be a better place!”

“Oooh, someone’s repressing!” Jalen shouted back as he walked to the tailgate of Jason’s truck.

“Don’t,” Daniel said, his own anger rising.  He put his hand on Jalen’s arm, but Jalen shrugged him off.

“Leave it,” Jack warned as well, even though he’d like to walk over and smack someone in the mouth.

“Fucking child molesters,” growled another man, the driver apparently, who was opening up the trunk of his car.  He pulled out a baseball bat and one of his buddies picked out a tire iron; the others grabbed crow bars.

“Sonofabitch,” Jack growled.  No one had any damn reason to be carrying that many tire-changing tools in their trunk so there was only one reason for them: As assault weapons.  “You know, just once,” he muttered to Daniel, “I’d like to have a goddamn night out without some dickhead sticking his head in where it doesn’t belong?”

“Like on the sole of my boot,” Jalen added.

“Shit,” Daniel cursed.  Jason was suddenly by his side, as were Adriann and Talen.  Alex and Stuart rounded beside Jack.  “We should just get in the trucks and drive off,” Daniel suggested.  He didn’t receive an answer and didn’t really expect one.  He could feel the rising anger of those around him, though he kept himself shut off from the antagonists.

Through their peripheral vision, Daniel and the others could see that not many people were around, but those that were didn’t seem to be paying attention as they got into their cars.

“Walk away,” Adriann said to the strangers.

“Fucking freaks, ain’t gonna happen.” It was the driver.  He took a step forward, and his four friends did the same, following his lead.  They yelled more epithets and taunts, trying to get a rise out of their intended victims.

“That’ll be the head of the snake,” Jack said, looking at the driver.

Daniel snorted darkly.  “The snakehead.”

“Cut it off and the body will die,” Jason finished.

“Do you really want to do this?” Stuart asked Jack, needlessly reminding him about maintaining a low profile.  “We can still walk away.”

So sayeth the sober one, Jack thought.  He took a deep breath, wishing he could get away with beating the shit out of these pricks.  But he knew that if this fight started, no one would go home unscathed.  He had no intention of spending the weekend nursing bruises, or having Adriann and Talen answer questions from the police.

“We leave,” he said out of the side of his mouth.

Jalen made a growling sound and Talen echoed it, but they both turned their backs and headed back to the truck doors.

Alex and Stuart split up as well, heading back to their assigned trucks, but Jack waited until Daniel and Jason backed up past the tailgates of both trucks before he considered moving.

“They will attack,” Adriann said as he stepped in front of Jack, just off to his right.

“I don’t give a damn about the trucks,” Jack started to say, but Adriann’s body language stopped him.  His friend lowered his head, eyes still on the men across the aisle, and Jack recognized the movement.  “Don’t do it,” he said, knowing that Adriann could easily kill those men from where he stood.

“Get inside the truck, Jack,” Adriann said just as Talen joined him.

“No, back off, now!” Jack hissed, fearing all the things that could go wrong.  This could so easily turn into a colossal clusterfuck.

“These creatures will not heed Adriann’s advice, Jack,” Talen replied, picking up on the thoughts of their soon-to-be attackers.  “They intend violence.  We will not allow you to be hurt.”

“I can take care of myself,” Jack growled, contradicting himself because he wasn’t moving away.

Adriann said to his sister, “Take the two on the left.  I’ll take the others, including their leader.”

“Done,” Talen agreed.

“Shit,” Jack muttered through clenched teeth.

Half out of Jason’s truck, one foot on the ground, Daniel called, “Get in the damn trucks.”

“Do as he says,” Adriann told Jack.

“All of us or none of us,” Jack said, not moving.

“Goddamn it,” Daniel growled as he got and headed toward Jack.

At that moment, the men across the aisle rushed at them, the driver in the lead.  He didn’t head for Jack, Adriann, and Talen.  He headed straight for Daniel.

Jack instantly moved to protect him, not giving a shit if Daniel could do that himself, and Daniel did the same in return.  They exchanged glances of anger as they took a stance to protect the other, and from their left, Jason rushed toward them to do the same thing they were intent on doing.  After Jason, everyone else emptied out of the vehicles.

But it was a pointless effort.  Neither Daniel, Jack, Jason, or any of the other humans had to do a thing: Adriann moved to the left as Talen moved to the right, knocking aside the crow bars from the two swinging at her and they clattered to the ground.  Backhanded each man, she sent them sprawling, faces bloodied.

Adriann did the same thing to the leader and one of his men while he kicked out at the third.  He did not hold back his strength; the man he kicked flew back several yards and landed unconscious.

“Faggot bastard!” screamed the leader and he pulled a knife from his back pocket and lunged passed Adriann, aiming at Daniel.  Daniel backed up with Jack and Jason beside him, and as the blade came slashing down, it missed Daniel–but it caught the edge of Jack’s forearm as he raised it to protect himself.  The knife cut through the jacket, missing flesh, and Jack backhanded the bastard with his fist.  As the leader stumbled back, a snarl came from Adriann’s throat as he grabbed the leader by the back of the neck.

Propelling him forward between the trucks, he pinned the man to the lamp post.  “You should not have done that,” he said tightly as he slowly lifted the man off his feet, pressing his face against the cold concrete of the post.  The leader tried to yell and struggle but Adriann silenced him easily and swiftly.  His mind was weak, but behind the incoherency of alcohol saturation were memories of previous offenses, some from the day before.  One included beating the hell out of a girlfriend.  Adriann’s fingers tightened.  Behind him, he picked up the sounds of other bodies hitting the ground and felt satisfied that the problem had been taken of.

Jack was then beside him, his voice suddenly sober with warning.  “Don’t.”

Adriann looked over his shoulder.  “Who is watching us?”

“No one,” Jack said as he the others looked around.  Revelers were exiting the building, and more were across the parking lot–paying no attention.  They were all drunk.

“Adriann, don’t kill him,” Daniel echoed, rushing forward.

Narrowing his eyes, Adriann implanted a directive, which would activate once the man sobered up.  Releasing his tight hold, he let the man grow slack in his hand, falling unconscious.  “He’s alive,” he said as the man’s feet touched the ground.

“What’d you do?” Daniel asked, having recognized the focused expression in Adriann’s eyes.

“The same thing I have just done,” Talen said, kneeling next to the mumbling idiot on the ground.  Her hand was on his skull, then she suddenly released him and stood up and headed to the unconscious man that Adriann had kicked.  Picking him up in her arms, she headed to the leader’s vehicle while everyone stood frozen, stunned by the sudden and quick end of the violence.

“Which was?” Jack asked, intending to assist Talen.

“No, Jack,” she said, returning.  “Leave him.  We will take care of it.”

“This crime is not new for them.  According to the memories in his mind, there are complaints filed.” He squatted down and picked up the unconscious leader.  “What we have done, Jack, is to give these men an uncontrollable desire to confess their crimes to your authorities.”

“You can do that?” Stuart asked no one in particular as Adriann and Talen put the other men in the sedan.

“They all can,” Jack replied, knowing why Stuart had asked; that little ability wasn’t in any report.  “I’ll tell you about it later.”

Weapons back in the trunk, Adriann slammed it shut and headed back to Jason’s truck.  “Shall we go?” he asked.

“Remind me to have you with me in a firefight,” Stuart said, getting back into Jack’s truck.

As they took off down the road, Jack fingered the rip in his jacket.  “Sonofabitch.”

“Can you get that repaired?” Stuart asked.

“Yes, but I don’t want the reminder,” Jack replied, resigned that he’d have to get another jacket before they went back to work.  It was just as well.  The winter lining was getting a little thin with age.

His cellphone rang and he jumped slightly.  Wishing that it wasn’t the SGC, he flipped it open and saw Daniel’s name.  With a grin, he turned and looked between Jalen and Talen to where Jason’s truck followed.  “Miss me already?”

“Yes,” Daniel replied.  There was a pause, then he said, “Is your adrenaline still running?”

Jack sobered a bit.  “Yes.  Yours?”

“Yep.  You know, we could put that to good use when we get home.”

“What a delightful idea,” came Adriann’s voice.

Though Jack wasn’t feeling particularly amorous, or in good humor, he knew that the 30-minute drive home would help remove part of the negative mood caused by the fight.  Thinking about the idea of watching Adriann with Daniel made the evening-long stirring in his belly return.  “Did you call to talk dirty?” he asked, having no intention of doing so in front of Stuart.

“Not really in the mood anymore,” Daniel said with a sigh.  “Just want to get home.”

“Ditto.”

“Talking to you helps.”

“Ditto.”

“Jack.”

“Daniel.”

They both smiled.

 

.  .  .

 

Inside Jack’s house, the group gathered.  Adrenaline was still pumping; regret for what happened tried to settle in stomachs, but anger took its place instead.  Conversation skirted around the subject of the fight, though everyone was thinking of it.  Jason paced, his fingers opening and closing as if preparing to find someone to punch.

After he’d done this for the fourth time, Daniel grew annoyed.  “Jason, please sit the fuck down.”

Jason whirled, as if to go off on him, but he thinned his lips and stared at his lover.  Slowly relaxing, his teeth were still clenched.  “All I want to do right now is go find a certain motherfucker and kill his ass.” When Daniel and Jack looked puzzled, he added, “You know who I mean.”

They now did and looked resignedly at each other.  No matter how much they’d like justice done, cold-blooded murder wasn’t it.  Nothing could happen.

“Sometimes being a member of the SGC sucks,” Jason said with disgust.

On the couch under the front window, Adriann, Talen, and Jalen said nothing.  But Talen wanted to.  She opened her mouth to speak, to tell Jason he no longer had to wish for revenge, but Adriann put his hand on her knee and cut her off.

“He will get what’s coming to him,” he said to Jason.

“Yeah, well,” Jason growled, running a hand through his thick hair.  “I’d like to be the one to do it.”

“And I’d like to help,” Jack said, pointing at Jason’s vacant seat next to him.  His lover sighed and gave Daniel an apologetic look as he sat back down.  “But I’d prefer to think about something else right now.”

Jason’s shoulders relaxed as he caught Jack’s emotion.  “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be,” Daniel said compassionately.  “You have every right to be feeling that way right now.” When Jack gave him a look, he returned it defensively.  “He does.  We all do.”

“I’m not arguing with you, Daniel.”

“Does this sort of thing happen all the time here?” Talen asked.

“The bigotry, you mean?” Daniel returned.

“No, the attacks.”

“Not every day,” Jason said, trying not to clench his jaw.  “Not here.  But it does happen every single day, somewhere in the world.”

“And if it isn’t toward Gays,” Daniel put in, “it’s toward women.  Or differing religious beliefs.”

That prompted Stuart’s curiosity and sitting in Jack’s armchair, he looked across at Adriann and Talen.  “What is your religion, or do you have one?”

“He’s a Deist,” Daniel answered for him when Adriann hesitated.  Getting a look that meant ‘don’t speak for me’, he cleared his throat.  “Sorry.”

“You’re the Deist, Daniel.”

Stuart frowned.  “Remind me what that is?”

“A Deist believes in a being that created everything,” Daniel replied, “but one that doesn’t stand over us and direct our lives.  The universe was created and that’s that.  He or she or it put things in motion and then moved on.”

Stuart was nodding his head.  “That’s right.  I remember reading that Thomas Jefferson was a Deist.”

“Who?” Adriann asked.

“One of our country’s founding political fathers,” Jack answered.

“Oh,” Adriann said, shrugging.  “I do not believe I am a Deist,” he went on, giving Daniel a look.  “The universe is directed.  We simply are not in on the plan.”

Talen snorted.  “And if we were, we would likely ignore it.”

“You might.  I don’t know what I would or would not do,” Adriann said, bringing up an old argument.

“You want some powerful being to come and take over, removing the responsibility from your shoulders,” she rebutted softly, giving her brother a loving look.

Adriann sighed.  “Sometimes.”

Jack cocked a knowing grin.  “We all feel that at one time or another.”

“Giving up responsibility would make your head explode,” Daniel said, grinning back at Jack’s mock-scowl.

Stuart was going to comment about the same thing happening to himself, but Alex distracted him as he got out of his chair.  He gave Stuart a significant look.  “I think it’s time we said goodnight.”

Stuart leaned forward, set his coffee cup on the table, and stood.  “I agree.”

No one argued.  In fact, Jalen and Talen wanted to leave as well.  “Give us a lift?” he asked Alex.  They wanted to implement Daniel’s idea: to take advantage of the adrenaline still running through their veins.

“Not a problem,” Alex said.

As they were seen to the door, Stuart stepped aside to let Talen and Jalen go ahead of him.  He then paused when he realized that Adriann was remaining behind.  With a surprised look, he motioned Jack outside and whispered, “I thought you were kidding.”

“About what?” Jack asked.  Stuart pointed his chin inside the house, at Adriann.  Jack looked over his shoulder, then turned back to Stuart.  Their relationship over the last year and a half had grown close enough for the sharing of private thoughts, but there were some things Jack would prefer to dance around.  “Would you believe me if I said he was sleeping on the couch?”

Stuart responded only with a raised brow and a small grin.  “Have a good night, Jack.”

“Backatcha,” Jack said, returning the grin.  They each knew what would be happening soon and neither had any desire to step into TMI territory.  Closing the door, Jack pulled aside the curtains to watch and wait as Alex pulled away.

The tension in the air changed.  Anger was dispelling, replaced with frisson and anticipation.  Daniel felt it as he opened his mind to his lovers, including Adriann.  Jason was in the kitchen, putting cups in the sink, and Adriann seemed be looking out at the snow-covered backyard.  Coming up behind Jack, he passed a hand down over one butt cheek, then walked away and headed down the hallway.

As he kicked off his shoes and peeled his shirt over his head, he could feel Jack’s building desire and recalled Jason’s stated desire to top.  Daniel knew damn well he hadn’t been joking.

A breeze caressed the exposed skin of his back and he knew without looking that Adriann had used his speed to zip into the room.  Warm hands touched his waist, making him jump slightly despite knowing he wasn’t alone.  Warm lips followed, breathing behind his ear.  Daniel swallowed as he closed his eyes and began to unbutton his jeans.  Without a word, Adriann pulled his hands away, wanting to undo them himself.

Exiting the kitchen, Jason paused at the threshold of the dining room and hallway.  Jack was shirtless and pulling off one leg of his jeans.  Meeting Jason’s gaze, he said, “Daniel’s already in the bedroom.”

Nodding, Jason toed off his shoes, then pulled off his socks.  He walked to Jack, pulling off his shirt as he closed in, and smiled as Jack’s socks impeded the removal of his jeans.  “Want some help?” he asked, then dropped to his knees in front of him.

Jack ran a hand through his lover’s hair.  “I think so.”

Keeping their eyes locked, Jason pulled Jack’s briefs down his hips, following with his mouth.  He breathed heavily.  “You smell good,” and as soon as the briefs were around Jack’s thighs, he let them go and cupped his ass with both hands, rubbing his face over Jack’s stiffening cock.  “Really good.”

“Let’s go,” Jack reminded, half-heartedly pulling Jason to his feet.

Jason didn’t want to move and slid his tongue down one side of his lover’s groin.  “Really good,” he repeated.

“Daniel will want to watch,” Jack said, trying to compel Jason to rise.

“Okay,” Jason breathed around a smile, though he still didn’t move as he took the head of his cock into his mouth.

“You’ll want to watch Daniel,” Jack said, but he caressed Jason’s hair and dropped his head back.

Jason moaned.  “Do you remember I’m topping?”

Jack pulled his hips back and dropped to his knees, pulling Jason into his arms for a deep, hungry kiss.  It was all the answer Jason needed and he moaned demandingly into Jack’s throat while his hands fumbled at his jeans.  Jack slid his hands down, pushing under the waistband, impatiently tugging.

“You’re not the only one who’s hungry,” Jack said, attacking his neck with fervent, greedy bites.  He knew this melted Jason’s spine and when he felt muscles twitch under his touch, he knew they had to leave for the bedroom now.  “Come on,” he said, regretfully pulling away and standing up.

After removing Jack’s socks, Jason stood up and pushed his jeans and briefs off, kicking them away.  “I thought you’d help,” he taunted.

“I touch you again,” Jack said hoarsely, “and we’re not going anywhere.”

In the bedroom, Daniel’s clothes were kicked aside.  Behind him, Adriann surprised him when he dropped to his knees.  Daniel started to ask him what he was doing when his lover pulled his ass cheeks apart.  With a shudder of need, Daniel fell forward, hands on the bed, and moaned loudly when his tongue entered him.  Adriann reached under to stroke him as he slid his tongue down the path to his balls.  “Fuck me,” Daniel said, and though he didn’t literally mean it, he was taken by surprise when he was pulled down to his knees.  Shoved forward against the edge of the bed, Adriann thrust his cock between his cheeks, hips moving in the tell-tale rhythm.

“This?” Adriann teased while he passed his hands over pecs and abdomen.

All Daniel could do was breathe his name into the mattress.

In the hall, Daniel’s moans grew louder, and at the bedroom’s threshold, Jack and Jason paused.  Kneeling on the floor, backs to the door, Adriann spooned Daniel against the bed.  Already fucking him, judging by the movement of his hips, but as they came in the room and moved onto the bed, they found that Daniel was simply being teased.

Jack got onto his hands and knees and lifted Daniel’s chin to kiss him.  His lovers eyes opened lazily, and he saw they were black with lust.  “I love you,” Daniel panted in a whisper.

Jack kissed him hard as Jason pressed against his back, hand reaching between to caress his balls.  Kissing over his lover’s rippling shoulder muscles, Jason copied Adriann and slid his cock between the warm and sweaty cleft of Jack’s ass.  He was already hard, but had no desire to fuck him yet.  He still wanted time between his legs where he could smell and taste and suck.

Jack more than got the hint when Jason pushed him onto his back.  Laying over him, seeking his mouth, Jason moaned when he felt Daniel comb his fingers through his hair.  Breaking off from Jack, he lunged forward to kiss Daniel and gasped when Jack found a nipple and latched on.  Mouth open in surprise, it wasn’t Daniel who found his lips, but Adriann.  He ran his tongue over the sharp ends of his fangs and aroused, Jason grasped his hair.

Jack took that moment to shimmy down the bed toward Jason’s cock.  When his hot mouth breathed around the head of his cock, Jason’s attention was caught. 

“Wait,” he protested, intending to move back, but Adriann kissed him again, holding him hostage while Daniel kissed down his neck, biting and licking the sweating skin.  All Jason wanted to do then was surrender.

“You smell good,” Jack said as he engulfed Jason’s balls, then smiled in victory when Jason’s only response was a muffled moan.  Hands on Jason’s hips, he angled for his cock.  Tongue swiping firmly over the mushroomed head, he slid a wet finger into Jason’s puckered opening and grinned around his cock when his lover responded.

“Fuck him,” Daniel said to Jack as he found Jason’s gaze.

“Not what I intended,” Jason said, then moaned and shut his eyes when Jack’s mouth robbed him of brain cells.

“Then suck him,” Daniel panted urgently, eagerly taking Jason’s searing kiss.

“That is an insanely excellent idea,” Adriann murmured.

Enticed and unable to wait, Jason pulled away from Daniel and dove on top of Jack.  Watching, Adriann stood up and pulled Daniel with him.  He spun him about, and Daniel let out a yelp of surprise, followed by a curse.  The protest fell on deaf ears as he picked Daniel up and dropped him on the bed like someone’s ragdoll.

“Goddamn you, Adriann, fucking warn me next …” The scold was inhaled as Adriann apologized by getting between his legs and swallowing his cock.  All of it.  “Fucking hell,” he gasped, coiling Adriann’s hair around his fingers.

With Jason busy between his legs, Jack looked over to find Daniel’s head next to his own, though his body lay opposite.  “Fancy meeting you here,” he joked breathlessly and met Daniel halfway as they closed the distance between them.  It was weird kissing upside-down, but intriguing, too.  He briefly thought of the scene from Spiderman; it was the only good thing about that movie.  Sucking in a breath as Jason tongued the head of his dick, he thought of something else and reached over and cupped the back of Daniel’s head.  “I have a thought.”

“Just one?” Daniel teased through kisses.

“On our knees,” Jack breathed around them.  “Belly to belly.”

Daniel moaned agreement.  “What do you guys say?” he asked.

“Perfect,” Jason murmured, moving down Jack’s shaft.

“Then let’s do it now,” Daniel murmured, twisting onto his side to kiss Jack better.  He was hungry for him, for all of them, and knew it was because of the combined emotion he was picking up.  This time, it was an entirely different kind of ‘overwhelming’.  He was so consumed by the emotions, with kissing Jack, that he didn’t make any movement to get to his knees until Adriann penetrated his body with a wet finger.

Meeting Adriann’s gaze with a mischievous smile, Jason reached down to slid his own wet finger into Jack–like Daniel, it had the desired effect.

Jack moaned in that way that made Daniel’s dick twitch.  Cupping Jack’s face between both hands, Daniel whispered, “On your knees, Jack,” as he turned to get to his.

Jason and Adriann sat up, guiding their lovers as they got into position.  Rising, Daniel placed his hands on Jack’s shoulders as he brought his knees forward, and Jack took hold of his waist, pulling him toward him.  Spreading their knees, they matched up, making it much easier to grind against the other.  Like them, Jason and Adriann were in sync, pressing chests and bellies over backs and asses.  Lube wasn’t necessary for Adriann, but Jason preferred it.  Hand slick with the stuff, he stroked himself first before sliding his fingers over Jack’s ass, getting him soothed and ready.

Jack’s muscles flinched under him and Jason pressed his lips against Jack’s earlobe.  Eyes on Adriann and Daniel, he murmured, “Ready?”

“Less words, more action,” Jack said impatiently as he rubbed his dick against Daniel’s, loving the way the sweat made them slide.

Copying Jason, Adriann mouthed at Daniel’s ear, but unlike Jason, he lengthened his fangs just enough for Daniel to feel the pinpricks against the shell of his ear.  Jack’s and Jason’s attention was caught there, and he stared back, enjoying the way they seemed to echo Daniel’s fetish for his teeth.  Sending Jason a silent message, he smiled as Jason grazed his teeth over Jack’s ear.

“Together,” Adriann said.

“Together,” Jason agreed.

“Yes,” Daniel said, cupping Jack’s face again, locking his eyes on him.  Jack swallowed hard, anticipation filling him.  Eyelids half-closing in lust, they damn near came as they watched the other get penetrated.  Jack closed his hand around both of their cocks and Daniel reached down to help.

“Fuck me,” Daniel murmured, and while his words were intended for Adriann, he was thinking of Jason, too.  This close, bodies pressing and sliding, energized by the heat and pleasure, he felt that the four of them were one entity.  And so knowing, he knew that he wouldn’t last long.  He didn’t need to communicate this warning to Adriann; the man already knew.  Handy, that telepathic link.

Proving it, Adriann amped up his thrusts, finding and spoiling his lover’s small but body-controlling gland.  “The sexiest, the hottest …” he whispered, lips moving up and down the curve of Daniel’s neck.

Daniel reached his free hand back, hooking it behind his partner’s neck.  He tilted his head slightly, presenting the tantalizing target.  It wasn’t subtle and he knew exactly what it would do, not just to Adriann.

Jason knew that mirroring Daniel and Adriann would be maddingly good to Jack, so with one hand, he reached around to caress Jack’s chest.  With the other, he splayed them over his lover’s throat, lifting to expose his neck.  Increasing the depth of his thrusts, he felt the tension in his balls rise; around his cock, Jack’s body did the same.  Swallowing dryly, he dropped his gaze from Daniel’s to focus on the wet and glistening skin of his lover’s neck.  Licking a stripe up to his ear, he whispered hoarsely, “This is so good.  Don’t know how long I can last.”

“Harder then,” Jack ordered, his gaze flitting back and forth between Daniel’s neck and Adriann’s teeth.  When Adriann picked up speed and strength, his thrusts pushed Daniel’s body against Jack’s, their hard nipples grazing each other.  Daniel sucked in a breath and Jack smiled.  “Yes.” No one needed an interpretation.  Everything encompassed the word, from fucking to biting.  He squeezed and pulled around their cocks, forcing Daniel to copy him.

That familiar flood of pleasure swarmed through Daniel’s balls.  “Shit!” he said tightly as his eyes closed and he dropped his head back.

Mesmerized by how sexy and good he looked, both Jack and Jason watched as Adriann, his gaze fixed on their faces, lengthened his fangs to long, sharp incisors.  While Daniel couldn’t see, he knew the looks on his lovers’ faces.  Breathing fast in preparation, Daniel arched his neck and back, filling them with tension.

“I love you,” Adriann growled, and instead of striking fast like he usually did, he sank his teeth slowly into Daniel’s neck.  It had the desired result in Jack and Jason, the latter increasing his thrusts.  Closing his eyes, Adriann focused on Daniel; he sucked and swallowed the fresh spurt of hot blood.  The sucking itself forced Daniel to come and he cursed under his breath as his orgasm rushed its sweet taste into Adriann’s mouth.  Moaning deeply, Adriann held his lover tightly, his hips thrusting deep and slow.

Jason bit down on Jack’s neck as he grabbed him tightly and let go, slapping against his ass.  Under his assault, Jack grabbed Jason by the hair as he held on, his orgasm blinding him momentarily.  Teeth clenched, he shot short, warm streams over Daniel’s cock and belly, igniting a response in him.

“Yes!” Daniel cried faintly.  Through slitted eyes, he watched Jason release his bite and tongue the deep impression made.  For a second, it was funny, and he let out a laugh that sounded like a harsh breath; Jack would be mad if that bruise lasted more than a couple of days.

“What’s funny?” Jack asked softly.

“Nothing,” Daniel said, closing his eyes as Adriann licked unnecessarily at his neck, sending mild aftershocks through his body.  “Nothing at all.”

 

.  .

 

“So you’re over whatever that was with Adriann?” Alex asked as he climbed back into bed.

Puzzled, Stuart put one arm behind his head while he lazily drew a circle over the mouth-shaped bruise over Alex’s sternum.  “Where’d that come from?”

Alex shrugged.  “Was just thinking about what Talen and Jalen were up to and that made me wonder about this rather swift turn around.”

Stuart shifted beside him, turning to face him and draped his arm over his lover’s waist.  “Maybe it’s the Christmas spirit,” he said, closing his eyes.  It was actually the admonition Adriann gave him about living for today.

Alex grinned, wondering why Stuart couldn’t admit that Adriann had finally won him over.  “Maybe it’s Adriann’s charm.”

Stuart growled, and eyes still closed, moved up to cover Alex’s mouth with his own.  Maybe that would shut him up.  It seemed to do more than that, since Alex reached down to take his limp cock in hand.  Stuart thought perhaps this tactic might just work, till Alex broke the kiss.  “Nice detour, but you didn’t answer the question.”

“You’re distracting me,” Stuart said, smiling down at him.

“You’re letting me,” Alex said, capitulating as he pulled Stuart on top of him.  He’ll get him to answer the question later.

 

.  .

 

On the other side of town, in a penthouse suite, sexual heat and hunger filled the room and stained the sheets of a king-sized bed.  Naked skin shone with sweat.

Talen locked her legs tightly around Jalen’s waist as they rocked back and forth to the tempo of his hard-driving hips.  Overhead, she gripped the top of the headboard so tightly that her nails made deep impressions, and placed outside her hands, his squeezed the wood until it splintered.

He’d laughed earlier, saying they were putting notches in the bedposts, and only her telepathic connection told her what he’d meant.

Black hair hung in wet locks over his shoulders, slinging drops of sweat everywhere as he dove deeper into her.  More sweat dripped from his face to hers and she licked her lips, tonguing her fangs hungrily.  “That’s it,” she purred in her own language as the sparks of animal fire ignited in his eyes.  “Let it go.”

“I can’t,” he said in English, body on fire along with his cock.  “Not again.”

“I need you to,” she urged, arching her back to present her full breasts to him, nipples hard and begging attention.  “I want it.”

It really didn’t take much; just the smell of her and the encouraging sound of her voice won him over.  Flooding his brain and overriding any internal safety switches, his heart rate rapidly climbed.  When she bared her teeth at him, that was it.  Jalen felt the fire spread over his gums as his own fangs grew.  It made her smile, revealing hers more fully.  Growling and snarling, he dropped on top of her, fangs sinking into her neck in several swift bites, spilling blood over her throat to pool in the hollow.  Slick lips sucked up the meal before he locked his mouth and teeth over neck, just under her chin.

He pinned her that way as he grabbed the top of the mattress, his now-long, sharp nails ripping holes for purchase.  Growling louder, the sound akin to rage, he slammed his hips madly, wildly, and she laughed in victory.  A second later, the beginnings of their orgasms exploded through their bodies and she grabbed him by the hair, yanking his head to the side as she struck like a viper.  Chin and nose sticky with cooling blood, he bit into her shoulder, relishing the way she bucked against him.

Next to them lay a married couple, bodies limp with exhaustion and covered in smears of blood.  Not completely unconscious, they watched through lazy lids, minds filled with terrified fascination.  They’d never come so much and so could hardly move now, but the husband’s dick twitched involuntarily as Jalen released Talen, turned her over, and started again.

Sinking his fangs back into her shoulder, he assaulted her body, dick slamming deep into her ass.  If she’d been human, he’d have broken bones.  Hissing and spitting underneath him like a large cat caught in a trap, she ripped at the sheets and headboard as he grabbed her breasts and held on.

He pinched her nipples so hard they turned bright red and the pain caused her orgasm to intensify.  Bucking harder and making him fuck her more savagely, they continued that way for endless minutes.  Until …

Flipping them over with her superior strength, she hauled his legs over her shoulders and drove her hot erection into his ass.  He howled and grabbed the headboard, breaking off pieces as come shot from his sore and aching cock.  When she struck again, this time into the muscle that joined neck and shoulder, he grabbed her ass, nails digging in, and finished their savage coital bliss with full-throated laughter.

 

 

Finishing a late breakfast on Sunday afternoon, Adriann felt he could definitely get used to bacon.  Football was another matter.  Not that he didn’t mind Jack’s and Jason’s affinity for the game, but every time he watched, he was filled with the desire to go find several of those players and show them what a body-slamming good time really was.  Daniel seemed to get into the games on TV that weekend, but Adriann knew it was only because he was caught up in his lovers’ emotions.  What Daniel didn’t realize was how different his connection to them was after Adriann had repaired the loss of empathic control.

“We could always find something else to do,” he suggested hopefully as Daniel went to get another cup of coffee.

Daniel snorted and patted his sweatpants-covered left thigh.  “I’m bruised enough, I think.”

Adriann got up from the table and tucked in behind him, hands soft and caressing.  “Your cock isn’t.”

Daniel closed his eyes and groaned, easily pushing off any arousal.  He was drained.  “You are too much, you know that?”

Catching the hint, Adriann surrounded his waist in his arms and hugged him.  “I’m sorry,” he said automatically.

There was a fat pause before Daniel looked over his shoulder.  “Don’t you dare say that.  Your energy just surprises me, that’s all.”

“Making up for lost time, I think.” When Daniel said nothing and simply nodded, he hesitated before adding, “And making up for the time to come.”

Daniel frowned and turned in his arms.  “It shouldn’t be that long until we see each other again.”

With an enigmatic smile, Adriann said, “It won’t be.”

Daniel knew that meant more than a simple promise.  “What are you planning?”

Clearing his throat, he pressed his lips tightly before revealing his plans.  “Remember when I told you I’d found some correlations between my people and Earth’s Romani?” Daniel nodded warily.  “I plan to come back and investigate further.”

“I figured as much,” Daniel smiled, not getting what Adriann was hiding.

With another throat-clearing, Adriann said, “Whether General Hammond approves or not.”

Daniel didn’t understand, until he remembered the Goa’uld ships Adriann had.  With a sigh, he said, “One of our ships will pick up the naquada signature.  Some people will be mad if you don’t announce yourself.”

“Except that the new ship we have doesn’t leave a signature.  Besides, this planet does not belong to the United States Air Force.”

Daniel made a face.  “Yeah, well, tell them that.” When Adriann smirked at him, he said, “You can’t avoid them, you know.”

Adriann smiled and murmured conspiratorially, “They won’t know.”

Daniel narrowed his eyes.  “Hammond will be pissed,” he said, keeping his voice low so that Jack and Jason wouldn’t hear.  “You’ll have to warn him, whether he gives his approval or not.”

Adriann shook his head.  “That’s a one-sided argument, Daniel, and completely unfair.”

Daniel had to concede that.  The US military wasn’t about to share with Adriann their latest technologies.  Knowing there was nothing he could say because he knew how important finding his people was to Adriann, Daniel murmured, “Try the direct approach first.  If that fails, then do what you must.”

Adriann smiled and hugged him again.  “I will.”

Daniel lifted a brow, eyes bright with amused accusation.  “Did you tell Jack about the new ship?”

“In the shower,” Adriann winked, making Daniel push at him.

“You don’t give up, do you?”

“Never in my life.”

“Hey!” Jack yelled from the living room.  “You two get out here.”

“Do we have to?” Daniel said, now sick of football, no matter what his lovers thought of it.  Even if the boys playing were sometimes nice to watch.  A knock at the door saved him from having to dampen Jack’s enthusiasm.  It was Alex and Stuart, followed by Jalen and Talen.  All but Talen joined Jack and Jason in the living room and were immediately caught up on the games that had already played.

When she entered the kitchen, she hugged her brother, then slapped his hand away when he put a finger to her chin to look at her throat and the two pinkish dots there.  “It’s healing,” she said with exasperation.  Her normal healing powers hadn’t removed the bite Jalen had given her two days earlier.

“It worries me,” he said, wondering why Jalen’s bite affected her so when he’d never had a problem.  “When we get home, please go to Emine.”

“I already plan to,” she said dismissively as she hugged Daniel.  Jerking her head toward the living room, she said, “I see they are fully engrossed in that sports activity.”

Daniel sighed with amused tolerance.  “It’s an annual ritual.”

She linked her arm through his.  “Then how about you take the two of us out on this clear but cold day?”

“Where to?” Daniel asked, torn between leaving and staying.  They’d be back at work tomorrow and there was no telling when the next downtime would be.

“Surprise us,” Adriann said, and knowing what Daniel was thinking, added, “Just for a few hours.”

With a sigh, he said, “I’ll just go get dressed.” In the threshold between the kitchen and dining room, he pointed at Adriann.  “Don’t follow me.”

A few minutes later, Daniel went to the foyer and cleared his throat to get Jack’s and Jason’s attention.  When they looked over their shoulders, he thumbed behind him.  “I’m taking these two out.  We’ll be back in a couple of hours.”

“Where’re you going?” Jason asked, surprised.

“I have no idea,” Daniel said, and when Jack was suddenly torn between him and the exciting play on TV, he laughed and opened the door.  “Be back soon.”

After they left, and a commercial break interrupted game play, Jack got up to get a few beers.  Jason followed.

“Get that look off your face,” Jason said, taking a few bottles from Jack’s hands.

“What look?” Jack asked unconvincingly.

“The look that says you wanted him to stay home.”

Jack smirked back and shut the fridge with his elbow.  “Back to the game?” he said, gesturing a full hand.

Jason returned the smirk.  “Soon as I make the nachos.” He turned and opened the fridge, not paying attention to the sound of bottles being set on the counter.  Jack’s arms were then around him, lips against an ear.  “Thought you were returning to the game?” he asked, smiling.

“Next year,” Jack said quietly, breath puffing Jason’s hair.  “We’re going to Tahiti for Christmas.”

Jason laughed and nodded with agreement.  Though each of them had loved having such guests for the holidays, their private desire to be alone for ten days had been–to use a football analogy–sacked.

“You sure about Tahiti?” he asked.

“It’ll be warm,” Jack said.

“So will the monsoons and typhoons at that time of year,” Jason replied.

“Point,” Jack agreed.  “We have a few months to decide where.”

“A few months?” Jason chuckled in surprise.  “That’s one hell of an advanced notice.”

“Barring aliens showing up to start some shit, I’m not having next Christmas messed with.”

Jason couldn’t agree more.

 

 

In SG-2’s side of the gear room, Alex clicked his field vest on, grabbed the folded newspaper on the bench, and headed over to Jason.  Just under his friend’s t-shirt collar, the faint shadow of a bruise was evident, and Alex threw him a smile and lifted his chin.

“What?” Jason asked sharply.

“Your, uh, favor is showing,” Alex grinned.

Jason glanced at Al and Connor, who were pretending they weren’t listening, then threw Alex a dirty look as he backhanded him in the ribs.  “What’s the matter, Alex?” he asked when his friend flinched.  “A little tender today?”

Just then, Alex heard Stuart’s voice on the other side of the locker island, and he blushed.  Clearing his throat, he said, “Fine, okay, you got me there.”

“Where are we going, boss?” Connor asked, idiot grin on his face as he too noticed the bruise.

“P4X-STFU,” Jason replied, throwing a wet towel at him.

As his teammates snickered but gave up the teasing because they knew better, Jason looked at the paper in Alex’s hand.  “Anything good in the paper?”

Alex handed it over, pointing to an article.  “Read that.”

It was a four-inch filler that headlined, “Mysterious murder at Casino”.  Jason quickly read the article, then froze at the name of the victim: Dwayne Carlson.  “That lying sonofabitch,” he said, recalling Jalen’s promise.

“Sir?” Connor asked, head whirling around in surprise.

“Nothing,” Jason said, angrily thrusting the paper back at Alex.  “Why’d you show me this?”

Embarrassed and shocked at Jason’s reprimanding tone, he scowled back.  “I thought you’d want to know.  What the fuck did I do?”

Jason immediately removed the scowl on his face, knowing his anger was misdirected.  “I’m sorry.  It’s just …” He looked over at Al and Connor, then shook his head.  “Nothing.  I’ll explain another time.” He paused and laid a hand briefly on Alex’s shoulder.  “Sorry to bite your head off.”

 

.  .  .

 

Standing about twenty yards from the gate, Stuart gaped at the immensity of Bel’a’lat’s fortress.  “It’s bloody huge.”

Jack grinned proudly.  “Isn’t it?”

“And it belongs to the Ancients?”

“The only one left,” Daniel said.  “As far as we know anyway.”

“The being’s name is Eros,” Teal’c added.

“And he’s gorgeous,” Sam said privately to Talen.  She winked in agreement.

The stargate started up again and the group turned.

“About time,” Jack said as SG-2 exited the event horizon.  “What was the hold up?” he asked Jason.

“One moment, Jack,” Jason said as he marched passed him, heading directly for Jalen.

Picking up on the hostility and anger, Adriann grabbed Jason’s hand before the punch could land.

“What the hell’s the matter with you?” Jack asked with alarm.

“What he said,” Jalen scowled.

Without taking his eyes off his brother, Jason said to everyone there, “Six days ago, Dwayne Carlson was found in an alley behind a casino in Central City.  His neck was snapped like a twig.”

Jalen dropped his shoulders, his body relaxing in resignation.  “He had it coming.”

“You fucking asshole,” Jason growled.  “You promised me.”

“He kept that promise,” Talen said, ignoring the warning look from Jalen.  “He didn’t kill him, Jason.”

“You were there?” Jason asked, hope filling him despite his anger.

“Jalen took us out to the casino for some entertainment.”

“What were you doing in the alley?” Jason asked.  “Following this guy?”

“Diversions,” she said with a defiant smile.

Jason’s mouth dropped open, unable to verbalize the thoughts in his head.  He had many questions, but he suddenly didn’t want to know the answers.  He knew that Talen was telling the truth, just as Daniel would later confirm.

“Why couldn’t you just leave it?” he asked.

She narrowed her eyes at him.  “Ah’na’ta’hen.”

“What?” Stuart asked.

“Justice,” Jack sighed, shaking his head.  He could no more have stopped her than he could stop loving Daniel and Jason.  Leveling Adriann with a glare, he said, “I specifically told you to lay–“

“I am not, as you say, my sister’s keeper.”

“Don’t split hairs, Adriann.  You know what I meant.”

“Yes,” Adriann replied, brows narrowing as he held up his hand to silence Talen.  “I apologize for disregarding the rules of your planet, but I am not going to apologize for the loss of a murderer, nor will I promise that it will not happen again.”

With anger and warning in his tone, Jack said, “You will follow my order and not do it again.”

Adriann stared back coldly and considered Jack for a long moment.  Finally, he relaxed the look in his eyes.  “Do you wish to depart in anger?”

Jack stubbornly refused to compromise.  “If I have to.”

Adriann nodded, not giving in either.  He gestured at the gate.  “Then as you leave, consider the killing you do when you are not on your world, then tell me I have no right to do the same.”

“That’s defense, Adriann, and you damn well know it is.”

“So was this.”

“We’re not assassins,” Jack snapped.

“Implying that we are?” Adriann replied angrily.

“That’s not–” Daniel began, but Jack cut him off.

“That is not what I said,” Jack finished.

Adriann shook his head slightly.  “Yes, it is, though I know you speak with anger, not truth.” He took a few steps away.  “Would it be better if we spoke in private?” He knew that Jack would never back down as long as their argument remained public.

Jack sighed.  “Fine,” he said, gesturing behind Adriann as he began to walk past.

Ten or so yards away, they stopped and faced each other, though nothing was said at first.  Finally, Jack began.  “You should not have let her, Adriann, no matter how justified it was.  We have laws for a reason.”

“Laws that failed to work many years ago,” Adriann replied.  “Wouldn’t you agree?”

Jack conceded that.  “Even so, it should not ever be done in cold blood.”

“It was not,” Adriann said, though he privately knew that Talen would not have cared.  “She did what she did to protect others, Jack.  It was not a simple act of revenge.”

Sighing deeply, Jack nodded.  “I didn’t mean to imply any of you are cold-blooded killers.”

Adriann smiled humorlessly.  “But according to your adherence to your laws, we are.” He could feel Jack’s thoughts automatically denying that statement and warmly placed his hand on Jack’s chest.  “Our lives don’t have to be in danger in order for us to kill, but we never kill out of sport or because it pleases us to do so.”

“I know that,” Jack said, his anger lessening.  “Just …” He wanted to tell him again, to give the order, but it might just keep them from reaching a compromise.  Happily, Adriann did it for him.

“It will not happen on your planet again,” Adriann said, then smiled sincerely.  “Not without reason.”

Jack ground his teeth in exasperation.  “Just don’t get caught, dammit.”

Adriann smirked at him and joked.  “You insult me, sir.”

“Trust me, you’ll know when I do,” Jack said, turning back to rejoin the others.  At the tense looks on their faces, he grimaced.  “Chill out, people.  Everything’s fine.”

“Are you certain of that?” Talen asked.  Her anger was clearly undeterred.

“Talen, it’s fine,” Adriann told her.

“I heard,” she said, looking only at Jack.

He stopped in front of her, letting her read all the thoughts he had no wish to say aloud.  Finally …  “I appreciate what you did.  And I don’t disagree.  I simply don’t want to worry about you the next time you’re on our planet.”

She thawed noticeably.  “I understand.”

“Are we good?” Jack asked Jason.

Jason turned away and faced his brother.  “I’m sorry.”

Jalen scowled at him, but nodded.  “Next time, just fucking ask.” When Jason started to turn away, he grabbed his arm.  “I would have,” he said in a low voice.  “Because you couldn’t.” Searching Jason’s eyes, he said with regret, “It was justice, Jason.”

“Maybe,” Jason said, whether he agreed with Jalen or not.  Turning back to Jack, he said, “We’re good.”

“Then let’s go see their shiny new ship,” Jack said loudly, a grin on his face.  Underneath it, his tone made it clear that Jason should put his anger aside for now.

It was hard to do.  As the two teams walked toward the fortress and conversation turned to Sam’s vacation with Teal’c in San Diego, Jason frequently glanced at his brother, then Adriann and Talen.  Their ways were different, but they were also so very much the same.  And was he really mad at them, or was he simply not allowing them to be who they were?  Wasn’t he always griping to Daniel that people needed to be accepted for who they were?

He suddenly recalled a popular Native American fable as the words of his Grandfather echoed in his memory: “Know thyself, Kit, and depend on it.” Jason shook his head, his anger fading.

“Penny for those deep thoughts,” Daniel asked as he moved beside him, brushing their uniformed shoulders together.

“I was thinking of a fable Grandfather taught me when I was little.” This got Jalen’s attention because he rarely knew his own Grandfather.

“What is it?” he asked.

“Yeah, tell us please?” Sam asked.

“You sure you want him to?” Daniel asked with a smirk at Jason.  “You remember his preachy stories.”

Jason looked at Jack, who shrugged non-committedly.  “Okay, fine.” Jason began, “Once upon a time, a scorpion was trying to figure out how to cross a river without drowning.  Spying a frog, he asked him if he could get a ride on his back.  The frog declined.  ‘If I do that, you’ll sting me, and I’ll die.’

“‘But if I did that,’ said the scorpion, ‘we would both die, for I would surely drown.  I promise that we shall get across safely.’

“The frog thought about it, then accepted.  The scorpion climbed on his back and the frog began to swim.  Halfway across, he felt the sting from the scorpion’s tail.  ‘Why did you do that?’ he asked as the venom spread.  ‘Now you will die too.’

“‘I could not help it,’ said the dying scorpion.  ‘It’s my nature.'”

There was no instant response to the story.  Jason hoped that was because the story provoked thought, as it was intended to do, and not accusation.  He didn’t miss the looks exchanged between Jalen, Adriann, and Talen and wondered if they truly understood.  He had to include Jalen because he wasn’t fully human anymore.

Finally, Jack asked, “What made you think of that?”

“Mostly, it was because of our cultural differences,” Jason said, waving at Adriann and Talen.  “It made me think about Grandfather’s advice.  Know thyself.”

“In the Latin, Temet Nosce,” Daniel said, nodding.

Jason gave his lovers a longer look.  “And because despite cultural differences, we understand them.  There is nothing I wouldn’t do for you.” He looked at the others.  “All of you.”

Judging by the expressions all around, specifically Daniel and Jack, Jason was relieved to know they understood.  No matter the situation, no matter where they were, their natures were to protect and love.  While he wasn’t too happy that that could be taken to extremes, such as the exacting of revenge, it was enough to know they were there for him, as he was for them.  And always would be.

~

End


Quote at the top of Part A is from the song, “Forever and Ever Amen” by 8mm.

 

 

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