keep it in the family
Summary: Things aren't all they seem in the Davis family. Matthew's eyes are opened once more, and for both the brothers, things are looking up.
Grateful thanks to Joy for the excellent beta, as ever.
Daniel walked nervously behind Paul as they approached the front door to Matthew's large house. Family money from inheritance had bought outright the five bedroom detached mini-mansion in the suburbs of DC. Few others in the lower to middle officer ranks of the forces could have afforded such grandeur, but Matthew had owned it since just before he'd made major. Daniel had to wonder at Paul's relationship with his father, as he knew that he hadn't received a penny on the old man's death. Not that Paul had wanted it. He had told Daniel that as far as he was concerned, he had no family (at least until meeting up again with Matthew) and wanted nothing from them. Paul's head was currently held high, but Daniel knew that underneath it all, he was nervous about meeting up with his mother, specifically.
The door opened and they saw Matthew standing there, a huge smile on his face.
"Paul! Daniel! You made it! Why didn't you call me from the airport? I'd have come and got you."
"No need, Matt," Paul answered for them both, shocked beyond belief when Matthew pulled him into a hug - but gladly accepting it. "The advantage of being a flyboy," he added with a grin. "We hitched a lift up to Andrews with a transport and then Daniel managed to con a staff car and driver out of the colonel in charge. I think that General Hammond had called up in advance to smooth the way."
He stepped aside and grinned madly when he saw Matthew and Daniel greeting each other with a hug and big smiles.
"I'm glad you came," Matthew said sincerely to Daniel.
"I'm glad I'm here," Daniel replied. "Um, Matt, before we go in, you should know something."
Paul held out his left hand, as did Daniel.
"It's not official," Paul explained. "I mean, we didn't go to Hawaii or Vermont or anything. We just decided that we wanted the other to wear our rings. If that makes any sense whatsoever," he added with a groan, wincing at his pronoun mangling.
"I think I get it," Matthew replied with a smile.
"It was your idea anyway," Daniel added innocently. "If you hadn't said what you did about me being your brother-in-law, I doubt the idea would have come to us."
That stopped Matthew short for a minute. Then he said, "I'm glad you listened to me, Paul. Maybe being your big brother has paid off for once."
"Ha ha," Paul said dryly, rolling his eyes.
A noise at the door to the hall from the living room got their attention.
"Ah, Virginia. Paul and Daniel have arrived."
"Well, I can see that," she said, shaking their hands briefly, and accepting the bouquet of flowers that Paul had brought for her with a tight smile and an unconvincing 'thank you'. "I thought you said that Paul would be coming with his partner."
"I did," Matthew confirmed, his face straight. "Daniel is Paul's partner. Life-partner I believe the phrase is. Or is that 'significant other'?" he asked, turning to the guys and desperately trying not to laugh.
The men caught up on his mood and had to hide their own amusement. "Partner will do," Paul managed to get out.
The choked noise from Daniel was understood by the men, but fortunately missed by Virginia.
"We only have one spare room," she growled. "With one bed."
"That's okay," Matthew answered cheerfully. "They do sleep together at home, you know. Married couples often do, so I'm told." He turned back to the men, his control slipping with every moment. Over the years, he'd had few opportunities to get one over on his wife and he was really glad for the opportunity now. He wasn't doing anything that Paul and Daniel hadn't agreed to beforehand, so he felt able to continue in that vein. Paul would stop him before he went too far.
"How about we take the suitcases up?" he suggested to both men, wanting to get them away from Virginia before she said something else that might upset them. They nodded and followed him up the winding staircase.
In the guest room, they dropped the cases on the floor and collapsed with quiet laughter onto the bed.
"Well, that went well," Paul finally said, gasping for breath.
Daniel crawled off the bed and put his hand on Matthew's shoulder. "If ever you want to transfer to the Springs alone, you know you have somewhere to live with us, don't you?"
"I may have to take you up on that," Matthew answered. "I have a feeling that things are going to go as Paul feared. But you know what? I don't really care."
He went to the door and looked out onto the landing, making sure that no one was listening in. Then he shut it and gestured for the men to come close to him.
"I have something to tell you all later, and I hope you'll be pleased with the news. I've spoken to my lawyer. He's carefully taking care of my funds, making sure that if it comes to it - when it comes to it - she won't be able to fleece me in a divorce court. As far as custody of the kids is concerned, to be honest, she can have the sullen brats. I won't miss any of this. I come home from work and I get the warmest welcome from the doormat. I may fight her for custody of that," he added thoughtfully. "I should call my lawyer."
"We'll have to see," Daniel teased. "It may not fit in with the décor."
"I think we can come to an arrangement," Matthew chuckled. "Look guys, what I'm basically saying is this. I'm looking for a change in my life. If my family's reaction to you seems to precipitate a change, then as far as I'm concerned, that's all to the good. Don't feel bad from my point of view, okay?"
They agreed, then requested that they could shower and change before meeting up with 'Mother'. Matthew said that would be a good idea and left them to it.
It was with trepidation that they went back downstairs, Daniel behind Paul all the way.
"Dan, come here," Paul hissed as they got closer to the living room door off the vast hallway.
"I'm right behind you, pal," Daniel insisted. "I've got your six."
"I'd rather you were by my side," Paul growled through gritted teeth. But by then they were at the open door.
"Mother," he said, trying to stay calm. "It is good to see you again."
Daniel forced himself to stay quiet and not yell 'liar, liar, pants on fire'. Instead he kept his face neutral and didn't look Matthew in the eye.
Her voice cut through the air and sent a shiver down Daniel's spine. If she could have sounded more scathing with that one word, Daniel didn't think anyone would survive the onslaught. Even though he knew that familial relations were strained in the Davis household, he was still surprised by the sheer lack of warmth from a mother to her youngest son.
"Mother, this is Dr. Daniel Jackson," Paul said by way of introduction. "Daniel, Elizabeth Davis."
"Pleased to meet you, Mrs. Davis," Daniel lied sweetly. "Paul's told me a lot about you."
A look of horror ran across Paul's face as he turned to stare at his partner. Daniel could see the 'Daniel, don't you dare' look in his eyes.
"I wish I could say the same about you, Doctor," she replied. "Paul has been remarkably quiet about his private life."
"Mother, I have to be quiet about my entire life," Paul answered before Daniel could say anymore. "You know I work in a highly-classified position."
"Quite," she answered.
Paul ushered Daniel to a seat and sat next to him, deliberately not touching him.
"What are you a doctor of?" Virginia asked as she decided to come into the conversation.
"Uh, one PhD is in archaeo-linguistics and the other is in archaeology," Daniel replied.
An awkward silence fell and Daniel decided that he would rather be anywhere else than there at that moment. Even being under fire would have been an improvement. Where was a Goa'uld invasion when you wanted one? Bunch of ingrates. After all he'd done for them, too.
"What would an archaeologist be doing with the Air Force?" Elizabeth suddenly asked. "I assume that you are with the Air Force?"
"Uh, yes, I am. I'm also a linguist," he replied. "Um, Near and Middle Eastern languages."
He said no more, hoping that she would get the message.
"So, you work in Intelligence?" she pushed.
"Not really, but I can't discuss my work," he answered. "It's highly classified, as I'm sure you will appreciate."
'Oh God, oh God,' Daniel thought to himself. 'How much of this can I take before bursting? Poor Paul, he was brought up in this atmosphere!'
"How did you and Paul meet?" Virginia asked, obviously looking to break the uneasy quiet.
"I was given a position as liaison between Daniel's base and the Pentagon," Paul answered, much to Daniel's relief. "We became close friends quickly."
Daniel wanted to reach over and take Paul's hand, but he didn't think that it would be the right move. He also wanted to stand up and pace, to scream - anything to stop the tension in the room.
"How did you get together?" Matthew asked, much to Paul's horror.
Daniel's eyes opened wide in shock, but he saw the twinkle in Matthew's eyes and decided to play along.
"Ah, well, we went for dinner one night after work after a particularly harrowing mission, and we got talking. We realised that we had a lot in common and that we wanted the same things from life, it was easy after that."
"Easy? With Paul in DC and you in Colorado? Come on, Daniel, I know it hasn't been easy. You've had to fight for everything you've got."
Paul started to smile, realising what Matthew was up to. He was trying to explain in his own way that the men's relationship wasn't a fly-by-night fling, but was deadly serious.
"That's true, Matt," Paul sighed. "But then any relationship worth having is worth fighting for. For the first two years it wasn't easy, at least we had to keep hiding out, pretending we were just good friends..."
"Two and a half years," Daniel added. "Even when you got posted to the Springs and you were living with me, we still had to pretend."
"Thank God for understanding COs," Paul retorted with a grin.
"How long have you been together?" Paul's mother asked, surprising herself.
"Over three years," he answered her. "We've been living together for the last, what, fifteen months, Dan?"
"Yeah, something like that."
"But, the law?"
"Was changed six months after we moved in together," Paul got in before Daniel could answer.
His mother stood up and strode to the big, open fire and looked at a picture of her late husband, her eyes opened in shock.
"You were not only prepared to go against your father's wishes and join the Air Force," she spat, "but you insist on doing something as ludicrous as living with a man, and breaking the law in the process? You are NOT my son."
Daniel was about to go in fighting, as was Paul, but Matthew stepped in.
"Mother," he growled out. "You are in my house, speaking to my brother and the man that I consider to be my brother-in-law. You will treat them with respect or you will be asked to go home. I will not have them spoken to like this. My brother," he emphasised, "is with the best person on the planet for him. He isn't the one to have entered a sham of a marriage just for political and social gain." He looked at both his mother and his wife as he said that, getting two shocked looks back. "Please, Virginia, don't try to pretend that you have ever loved me. I saw through that when I asked you to marry me, for heaven's sake. Unfortunately, I didn't have the backbone that my younger brother has and succumbed to the pressures put on me to marry someone 'suitable'. I'm just glad that Paul hasn't had to endure years of coming home to an atmosphere that closely resembles a morgue. He was sensible enough to live his life the way he wanted to and strong enough to endure all of the risks associated with it. I'm proud of him."
Matthew calmed down and looked at the faces of the other occupants of the room. His mother and wife were open-mouthed with shock, as was Paul, though his eyes spoke volumes. Daniel was grinning widely and he winked wickedly at Matthew, mouthing 'thank you' to him. He got a grin in reply.
"I have news," Matthew suddenly announced, regaining everyone's attention. "I have discussed my position with General Harper and he agrees with me that I will do more good if I am posted to Colorado. I will be retaking an active role and heading one of the army teams being sent there."
"That's great!" Daniel got in, his sentiment echoed by Paul a moment later. Virginia, however, came out fighting.
"Oh, no," she spat. "I have endured this life and I am finally where I want to be. I will not be coming with you to such a backwater."
"Good," Matthew replied evenly. "I wasn't wanting you there." Then he turned around and spoke to the men, "Gentlemen, would you like to accompany me to a bar? I think I could do with a drink in an atmosphere warm enough to defrost the ice in my blood."
Saying nothing, the men stood up and followed him out of the room.
"Thanks for coming back, Jack," Hammond said as Jack appeared in his office.
"It's my pleasure, George, especially under the circumstances."
"Do you think that this will work?"
"Oh, yes, I do. Paul told me a lot about Matthew's wife and their mother, and I think that this will do him no end of good. It will cheer him up if nothing else."
Hammond smiled warmly, excited about the little surprise they had hatching.
"Have you spoken to General Harper?" Jack asked.
"I sure have, Jack. He's turned out to be a nice man, you know. Andrew is more than happy to help out."
"Is Matt aware of what's going on?"
"No, just that he has to get them there on time."
"What about his uniform?"
"That's where you come in, Jack. You have a key to their place, don't you?"
"Go, get it and turn up tomorrow at Matthew's place. Your transport is arranged, my secretary has all the details for you."
"Are you going to be there?"
"Try keeping me away, Jack," Hammond answered with a broad grin. "He deserves this."
"That he does, George. He's really come into his own since taking on this post."
"I thought that Kovacek was good, but Paul's been amazing," he replied, settling back into his chair with a contented look on his face. "I think that this little surprise we have planned will just underline that."
"Some people might talk, George. He's still young."
"He's earned it, Jack. All the points are there. He's been there just about long enough. All the brass that know him agree, too. "
Jack grinned back at him and nodded. "He's having one hell of a month, isn't he?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, getting together with his brother, the little excitement we had with Rayner, getting 'married'..."
"Ah yes, the ring," George chuckled. "You should have seen his face when he came in to see me before going off duty. He was nervous and fingering his hand. I don't think I've ever seen him look nervous before, Jack, but it was as if he was asking me for my daughter's hand or something."
Jack burst out laughing.
"Tell me you made him sweat," he urged.
"What do you think?" came the laughing reply. "I scowled when he asked permission to wear the ring on duty, stated that only married couples had that right. The poor guy looked like he was going to explode - not sure if it was with anger or resentment. Trouble was I couldn't keep it up for long. The look of relief on his face when I gave him permission to wear it was incredible. I don't think I've ever seen him smile so widely."
"You should have been there when Daniel gave him the ring," Jack said with a smile, remembering. "I thought he was going to burst."
George was a little more serious for a moment. "How is Daniel? Really? This must be bringing back memories for him." His eyes drifted over to the picture of his late wife, remembering his own happiness when she said 'yes'.
"He's fine, George, really happy. Yeah, he got a bit choked up that night, I think he was overwhelmed. I know he was. He and I escaped to the garden and had a talk and he was okay after that. The next morning he was grinning like an idiot."
"I'm glad. It's about time he got some happiness."
"This is true. Let's just hope that Paul's family doesn't spoil that for him."
"Are you okay?" Paul asked as Matthew stared into his drink, the shock of his own words to his mother and wife finally hitting him.
"Yeah," he croaked. "It needed to be said, Paul."
"Maybe so, but I was rather surprised by your vehemence."
Daniel stayed out of the conversation for the moment, just watching and waiting in case he was needed.
"I meant every word I said, Paul. You know, when we met up at your house, I was jealous, especially after the snow day. Watching you and the others having so much fun, being a real family, that I was angry with you. Why should you have it and not me?"
"I understand, Matt, honestly. After all, you were the married with kids one, you were the first son... you should have had everything. I had it easier, there wasn't as much pressure on me to conform as there was on you."
"I'm not going to conform anymore, Paul. I love my job, don't get me wrong. I don't regret joining the Army for a moment. I've seen parts of the world I wouldn't have seen, I've done things that others could only dream about and I've met some amazing people. No, no regrets there. But conforming just to please Mother is something that I am not going to do anymore."
"Do you think that Virginia's going to divorce you?"
"I'm not sure. Knowing her, she's more likely to stay here and spend my pay just to punish me."
Silence descended between the brothers, only the buzzing chatter of the other drinkers in the bar breaking through. Daniel thought for a moment and then spoke.
"You did the right thing," he said quietly. "You kept your word and did more. Standing up for Paul - and me - was a very brave act, Matt. I just want you to know that I, that we are very grateful. Whatever help you need now, whatever support you require, you know you can rely on us, don't you?"
Matthew smiled and nodded. "Yeah, I do. You've already proved that, Daniel. I just wish I could tell them what you've already done for me."
"I doubt that would make a difference, Matt," Paul sighed. "As far as Mother is concerned, anything that happens outside of her sphere of interest is unimportant. Damn that woman," he spat. "She is so... GAH! I don't know what she is, but she is," he ended in frustration.
Daniel laughed in sympathy and put his hand on the top of Paul's ducked head.
The three were mildly drunk on returning to the house. Matthew refused to call it his home, seeing as he never felt welcome there. He'd mulled over some options that he had, discussing them with Paul and Daniel and coming up with a plan. Paul's hope that he would 'ditch the bitch' seemed to be more likely than ever to come to pass.
There was no sign of Matthew's children, but this didn't surprise him. At that time of night they would either be in bed or still out with their friends. Not that Matthew blamed them, either. He didn't want to be in the house, so he couldn't see why they would. Hushing each other loudly, the three men stumbled up the stairs and parted at the guest bedroom door. With an en suite bathroom, Daniel and Paul were able to get ready for bed without worrying that they'd disturb the others in the house. Matthew entered his room and saw his wife sleeping in her bed, a face mask on and ear plugs in. He snorted, thinking that she looked ridiculous as the moonlight that cracked through the curtains highlighted the green goo that covered her face. No, he wouldn't miss her one bit.
He got ready and crawled under the covers in his own bed - the twin of the one his wife slept in. 'When was the last time they'd slept together?' he wondered. He couldn't remember it. Thinking that his wife had never loved him, knowing that to be the case, and that she had only married him for status and money, he realised something. She was nothing more than a high-class whore - and not a very good one at that. What did that make him? A dumb john? Disgusted with himself for falling for the 'it's your duty' routine that had been thrust on him throughout his life, he fell into an uneasy sleep, but not until he'd made a decision regarding his children. As he dropped off, a small thought nagged at him about them and wouldn't go away. He couldn't pin it down, but he had the feeling that there was more to their attitude than at first appeared.
In the guest room, Daniel had decided that it would probably be better to sleep with some clothing on. He wasn't expecting anyone to burst into the room, but he never felt comfortable about sleeping nude in someone else's house. Paul agreed and for the first time in ages, the two of them slept in sweat pants.
"This isn't right," Paul sighed, trying to get comfortable. "I'm used to feeling your skin."
"Hmm, I know, babe. Never mind, I'm sure we'll get used to it. We don't have to stay for long you know. We promised we'd see in the new year with Matt, so we will. After that... maybe we can go back to Colorado? I hear Aspen's pretty cold this time of year."
Paul snorted and buried his head between Daniel's chest and arm in an effort to smother the building laugh.
"Why not?" he finally agreed. "It's not as if we can't afford it. You know something, Dan? I worked out what we earned between us and it shook me rigid."
"Oh? Go on." Daniel was curious because despite his initial worries when opening the stargate that he was never going to get paid, he'd never really paid much attention to details. He always seemed to have plenty of money, so it didn't bother him.
"If we include the extras, like hazard pay and so on, we earn the best part of a quarter of a million per annum before taxes and stuff."
"Whoa." Daniel sat up in shock. "That much?"
"Uh, Dan, bear in mind you bought the house outright and it didn't really affect the way you live, I'd have thought you'd have noticed it."
"I suppose so," Daniel agreed. "I just don't really pay any attention to my pay cheque. When I found the house, I called up my bank and asked them if I had enough money to buy it. They just said 'yes'. That could explain something though."
"Oh? What's that?"
"Why they sounded so surprised."
Paul sniggered again before thinking out loud. "I guess it's because we don't have anyone to spend it on. Our medical bills are covered, most of our food is either provided for us as rations or we get it at the commissary. We don't use much in the way of electricity or have high phone bills because we're rarely home."
"True. I have noticed that my phone bill has dropped dramatically since you moved in," Daniel added.
"And it's only one phone bill, one grocery bill, one electricity bill and so on. Unless we're spending money on Cassie and the girls, we rarely splash out on anything."
"Damn. We really are rich, then, aren't we?"
"Not bad, eh?"
"Not bad at all."
Daniel thought for a moment, then he said, "So, you're after my money?"
Paul just poked him in his ribs.
Jack woke early and with difficulty, got himself ready, his one arm still in a sling. He was so waiting to get rid of the damned thing, but the shot that had gone through his shoulder had done some serious damage. He sighed, thinking that he was getting older and that he wasn't healing as quickly as he used to.
As soon as he was dressed and had eaten, he packed his clothes, got the suit bag which contained his dress uniform out of the wardrobe and waited in his living room. Ten minutes later, there was a beep from a car and he left the house.
"Good morning, Carter," he called out cheerfully, struggling with his overnight bag and trying not to drag his uniform on the ground. She bolted out of the car and retrieved his baggage and carefully put it in the car.
"Morning, Sir," she replied, not quite as cheerfully but still a little more lively than he would have expected for that time of the morning.
"Are you coming with me?" he asked, getting into the car and struggling with the seat belt.
She snorted and took the seat belt clip out of his hand and ignoring his objections, popped it in the holder.
"No, I'm afraid not, Sir," she replied. "The General did offer, but Jan only has seven more days of leave so we're off to visit her family."
"Oh?" He turned and looked at her with a raised eyebrow.
"Yeah," she drawled. "Jan says it's time they met me."
"You're going to come out to them?"
"That's the plan. It shouldn't be bad," she said, much as in hope as in conviction. "Jan says her parents are pretty cool, really."
"I'm sure it will be fine, Carter," Jack soothed. "How could they not like you?"
She ducked her head and blushed, covering for it by turning the key in the ignition and then looking over her shoulder to see if the road was clear.
"Thanks," she murmured.
"Hey, Jan wouldn't do this if she wasn't sure. The last thing she'd want to do would be to upset you, right?"
It only took a few minutes before they pulled up outside the men's house and Sam helped Jack out of the car, much to his chagrin.
"Stop your fussin' Carter," he growled, but she ignored him and carried on.
"What time's your flight?" she chuckled.
Muttering about fussy majors, lousy archaeologists that think they can be spies and the cold weather that made his knees ache, he crankily made his way up the garden path and opened the door. Sam went straight to the living room and checked on Daniel's fish, feeding them as she had promised to do and then she joined Jack in the men's bedroom.
Jack was looking through the wardrobe.
"Dammit, they've mixed their clothes up," he snarled.
"Guess they know what is whose," she shrugged. "Shove over." She nudged him out of the way and found the suit bag which contained Paul's dress uniform and then found another, empty one. A few moments later and she had Daniel's best suit out and packed up, complaining that he didn't seem to possess a tux.
"Ties?" she asked.
Jack opened up another wardrobe door and saw the tie rack. "What colour suit and shirt have you chosen for him?"
"Black suit, white shirt," she replied, looking for his dress socks and rolling her eyes when she saw that there was only one drawer that contained them. She picked up two pairs of nice-looking black socks and shrugged. The guys seemed to share them. They had similar-sized feet anyway.
Jack picked out a silver-grey silk tie and added it to the pile. There was no sign of the shoes that they wore to official occasions so Jack assumed that they were already with them. Daniel had complained to him that Paul was making him take his suits and things for daily use, so it was a reasonable assumption.
"We got everything?"
"Looks like it, Sir. You have got your camera, haven't you?"
"In my suitcase, Carter."
"Good - I want the pictures of his face when he's told."
"Got that covered," he answered with a smug grin. "We good to go?"
She zipped up the bag and lifted it. "We are. Let's move it on out!"
Matthew knocked warily on the guest room door. Last time he'd been near those two guys in the morning, they'd been making love. He wasn't sure he ever wanted to see that again. A "Whoosit?" from behind the door told him that at least one was coherent.
Chuckling to himself, he realised that Paul wasn't really awake yet. He knew it wouldn't have been Daniel who'd answered.
Opening the door, though, he still cautiously poked his head around it before opening it wide enough for him to get in. Just in case. What he saw made him smile. Daniel was out cold, the covers were down to their waists and he could see that they were at least partially dressed. Paul was wrapped up in Daniel's arms, resting his head on Daniel's chest and using it as a pillow.
"Morning," Matthew whispered, unwilling to get his head bitten off by waking Daniel the Dangerous without a mug of coffee as a peace offering.
"Breakfast will be ready in about ten minutes. You know what it's like. If you're not there..."
"Gotcha. Gimme a chance to wake him."
"I'll see you downstairs. I'll, er, make sure that there's plenty of coffee ready."
Matthew grinned and left, shutting the door behind him. They looked so comfortable with each other that he couldn't help be pleased to see them like that.
Behind the door, Paul attempted to wake Daniel.
"Dan. Dan, c'mon, it's time to get up. Come on Daniel. Open your eyes."
"Not nice, Daniel."
"Not nice, tired."
"I know, hun, but we're expected downstairs in ten."
"I know, I know. Do it for me, please. And try not to bite. Matt's making sure there's some coffee waiting for you."
"God. What time?"
Paul blinked and focussed on the bedside table clock. Inwardly, he groaned.
"What the fuck? It's a holiday. And it's only six in the morning to us!"
"I know, hun. But this is the way it is. Please, babe, get up. We've got less than ten to get showered and down there."
Groaning and moaning, Daniel let go of Paul and hauled himself up, then put his hand out and pulled Paul to stand too. They stripped off their sweat pants and stumbled into the shower together, forgoing their usual early morning wake up 'routine' and just washing as quickly as they could.
Used to getting dressed quickly, they were back in the bedroom and ready to go. As Daniel put his hand on the door handle, Paul caught his arm and turned him around. A moment later and Daniel felt himself being drawn in for a long, deep kiss. He didn't put up a fight.
"That's more like the wake-up call I love," he whispered, holding Paul tightly. "Love you, Paul. So much. Don't worry about what's going to be said down there, I'm with you all the way."
"I know, Dan," Paul sighed. "That's what gives me the strength to go on."
They entered the dining room together and Daniel's heart sank when he saw Virginia and Mrs. Davis sitting primly at the table. There would be no joking and teasing, no pinching food off the plates of the many people surrounding the table as happened so often at their place during the holidays. No love.
Well, not no love. Daniel was determined not to let Paul down, and Matt's face lit up as they appeared in the room.
"Morning guys," he said with a broad smile. "Here's some coffee, Daniel. There's more on the way."
"Ah, an officer and a gentleman," Daniel replied, taking the proffered cup. "Thank you, Matt."
Paul poured his own cup and sat down, making sure that he was sitting in a chair that was next to another empty one. Daniel took the hint and sat next to him.
The table contained various foods; toast, French toast, a hotplate keeping various other cooked items such as scrambled eggs warm. Daniel followed Paul's cues and took some toast as it was nearest him.
"Sleep well?" Matthew asked as he settled into his own seat.
"Don't know, I was sleeping," Paul answered sleepily.
A noise interrupted Matthew's rejoinder and they turned to see Matthew's twin teenagers grumpily enter the room. Daniel let loose a big smile when he saw both of them stop short and stare wildly at the two men at the table. A wicked grin passed between the two teens as if something had just been said - or realised. Daniel thought for a moment and then he grinned back. It could have gone one of two ways. The kids would be anti-Paul or pro-Paul. The looks told Daniel that things wouldn't be as bad as they could be.
"Ah, children," Matthew said before his mother or wife could speak. "This is Victoria and Alexander," he continued. "Victoria, Alex, this is Doctor Daniel Jackson. Your Uncle Paul's partner."
Daniel stood up and offered his hand as he spoke greeting. Both children hesitated for a moment and then took it in turn. Paul was standing at Daniel's side and greeted them both formally, but Daniel could hear the pain in his voice at having to treat them that way. Alex, especially, looked knowingly at Paul and winked.
They all sat back down at the table and then the fun started.
"Alex, Victoria," Matthew said as they piled the food they wanted on their plates. "I have some news for you." As if the news about their uncle hadn't been enough. "In a matter of a few weeks, I will be taking up a new posting."
The youngsters froze and waited for further information.
"I will be joining your uncle in a joint services base in Colorado."
"But I can't go there!" Victoria blurted out. "I'm near my exams at school, Father. How can I change now?"
"You are not expected to," Matthew replied calmly, continuing with the thought that had struck him the night before. "It will be your choice. Your mother has apparently decided to stay in DC. Until I find myself a house in Colorado Springs, I will stay with Paul." He looked back over to Paul and Daniel and got an agreeing nod. "I shall not force you into doing anything you do not wish to do," he added, getting a shocked look back.
Surprised by his statement, Victoria couldn't help but blurt out the one thing that she'd wanted to say for years.
"If that were the case, I wouldn't be working towards some dumb arts degree at some dumb Ivy League college because it's expected of me, I'd be..."
She stopped short, seeing the look of horror in her mother's face - and her grandmother's. Matthew was shocked too, but running her attitude through his mind, analysing her words tactically, he knew that this was the chance he had to build bridges with his daughter at the very least.
"You'd be what?" he asked gently.
She took the chance and spilled her ambition.
"I'd be joining up," she said, straightening her back and sticking her chin out defiantly.
"Oh? What service?" Matthew asked before wife could say a word.
"The Navy," she replied, in a manner that spoke volumes to Matthew and those around him. She was expecting him to be horrified.
"Any particular reason?"
"Uh, er," she stuttered, the wind having been taken out of her sails. "Yeah. I want to go to sea. I love the sea. I've dreamed of nothing else since I was a kid."
"Okay," Matthew shrugged. "You'd still be better off going to college first - you know, for your career's sake, but I'm sure that with your marks you can do something a lot more technical and suitable."
"THAT'S ENOUGH!" Virginia howled. "I will not have a daughter of mine becoming a sailor. How ridiculous is that?"
"Excuse me?" Matthew turned slowly to he. "And just whose life is it? I told you last night, Virginia, that I point blank refuse to live my life to please you or Mother or follow any other family convention anymore. If Vicky wants to join up, then that's what she's going to do. She's a smart girl, smart enough to have done her homework on the subject, I'm sure. If she feels that she can get through basic training without worrying about breaking a fingernail...?" He turned and looked at his daughter who was trying not to laugh - partially from amusement, but mainly from the shock. She nodded. "Then I'm sure that she will do very well. You can continue to live here, playing your socio-political games, trying to pretend that you are more than you really are, but I am not playing that game anymore. And I don't see why my children should be forced into it, either."
Elizabeth Davis had had enough of this and she turned on Paul. "This is your fault. You and your obscene ways. You've pushed him to do this. What do you have? Blackmail on him or something?"
Daniel snapped. He stood up, took Paul's hand and pulled him to stand too.
"Have you heard yourself?" he said quietly. Too damned quietly for Paul's liking. "Have you actually listened to the poisonous rants that come out of your mouth? Matthew is doing what he has wanted to do for years. He's got the strength of his convictions - and now he has someone to support him through it. I don't know how the man has a) stayed sane and b) remained decent after listening to the rubbish you spout. Your children were not just a means to an end, Mrs. Davis. They were a part of you. But the minute you'd done your bit, that was it, wasn't it? The same for you," he pointed at Virginia. "These children, these young adults have their own lives to lead. If all you're worried about is the family name and inheritance, then your ambition is as shallow as your personalities. If Victoria wishes to join up, then why shouldn't she? Why shouldn't she serve her country? It's an honourable and decent profession. Is it because she's a girl? Because I can tell you that I work with a number of women in the Air Force and they serve their country every bit as well as the men and they are respected by us all for their work."
"What has this to do with you?" Elizabeth snapped. "You are not even a part of this family."
Daniel laughed. "Maybe not. But Paul's a part of my family, and so is Matt. That makes Matt's kids a part of it, too... if they want."
He looked over at them and saw Victoria smiling broadly at him. Alex was just stunned.
"Paul, honey," he emphasised the endearment just to spite, "I don't know about you but breakfast at McDonald's suddenly seems a lot more appetising than eating here. Coming?"
Paul nodded dumbly, stunned by what was happening. Slyly, Daniel turned to the kids and Matt. "You coming? I'm buying."
He was followed out by quite an entourage.
"I don't believe you did that," Paul said as they queued for their orders. Matthew and his kids had found a table and having given their choices to the men, were waiting for them.
"I'm sorry, babe," Daniel murmured. "I couldn't help it. I kept it clean, though..." he offered hopefully. At the scowl he got in return his shoulders dropped. "I'm really sorry, Paul. But you were right, your mother is obnoxious and I shouldn't have come. When we go back to the house I'll pack up and go home. Maybe you can salvage something."
"Don't be silly," Paul sighed. "I'm not giving you up, I'm not going to stay anywhere near that battle-axe without you. It's just, oh, I don't know. I'm used to you being more diplomatic."
"Me? Diplomatic?" Daniel laughed. "Remind Jack to tell you about me and Kinsey that time."
"Oh, anytime we've met."
Daniel's answer was given so glibly that Paul burst out laughing.
As they were then at the head of the line, Daniel gave the orders and Paul took the first tray with the drinks on back to the table a few minutes later. Shortly after that, another tray, piled high with the various breakfast offerings, appeared on the table, Daniel peeking out from behind it.
"Dig in," he said, waving his hands over it.
The kids took no persuading and grasped at the bacon McMuffins with the feverish passion of a drowning man clinging to a lifebelt.
"Guess you kids don't get out much, huh?" Paul laughed. They just shook their heads.
After taking a bite and swallowing, Alex finally spoke up. "Uh huh. If Mother thought that we wanted to be like other kids, coming out and eating junk food now and then, she'd throw a conniption fit." He looked awkwardly at his father as if he felt guilty for saying it.
"Alex, it's okay," Matthew comforted. "In a way, my mother was right. It was seeing Paul with Daniel and their 'family' that pushed me into this... but... it's been a long-time coming. I hope you can forgive me for not standing up to them before," he pleaded with his children. "I can't give you back the childhoods you should have had, but all I can do is promise you that whatever you decide to do with your future, I'll back you up. It's likely that we won't be as well-off as we were," he warned them. "I know my mother will cut us out of her life now. If you want that financial security, then I won't blame you if you return to them."
The twins were silent for a moment and then with a look from Alex, Victoria spoke.
"Er... Dad?" she tried out. She'd been brought up to call him 'Father', but suddenly the painful formality of their life seemed out of place. Matthew smiled broadly back at her.
"We don't care about money. We just want to do what we want to do. Be what we want to be. And for me, that's to be the best sailor that I can be. I want to go into communications."
"Can't argue with that," Matthew answered her. "What about you, Alex? Do you want to sign up, as your mother... as I was pushing you to?"
"No," he whispered. "I'm sorry, Dad, but I really don't want to."
Matthew reached across the table and grasped Alex' hand.
"So, what are you going to do?"
Daniel and Paul watched intently as they saw Alex' whole demeanour change. From nervous to happy, from shy to more outgoing. Just knowing that he had his father's support had literally changed his life.
"Er, I wanted to go to art school," he told him. "I've been painting well at school and I love it. Really love it, Dad."
Matthew sighed. "You do know that it's a tough life, don't you? Harder in many ways than being in the service. You may not have a regular job, you'll have to be prepared to do many other jobs to maintain a living. Very few artists make it big and rich."
"I know. That's not why I want to do it. I just love to paint." His eyes lit up as he remembered the last art show that he'd been a part of at the school. "There's something magical about creating something."
Matthew nodded as he thought. "Do you think you can get into art school?"
"If I start applying now for next year, I will stand a chance," Alex replied. "If I can't get into a specialist art school, plenty of regular universities have art departments. I don't see why I couldn't get in. My grades have been good."
"This is true," Matthew agreed. "You've been working hard."
He looked over to Daniel and Paul and saw approval in their eyes. For a man that thought his children felt nothing for him, he had suddenly realised why they'd acted like that. Now he was going to do his damnedest to make things right.
"I don't see why not then," he continued. "You know you're both going to have to work hard, don't you? There's going to be no using connections to help you, no falling back on your mother's protection. I'll be there for you as best I can and I'll support your decisions. But I am going back out into the field. My work will be dangerous again."
A quick nod from Daniel to Paul had him interrupting. "Uh, Matt, don't worry. They'll have us," he said. "And if anything happens to us, there's Jack, Sam... they won't be alone."
They were rewarded with smiles for that, then Victoria, the more politically savvy of the twins said, "What's in it for you?" as she looked directly at Daniel. "Uncle Paul, I understand. He and Dad seem to be getting on really well, so being nice to us is going to help that. But you?"
Daniel burst out laughing. "Damn," he finally said, still chuckling. "You really are a Davis." Paul poked him in the ribs. "It's simple, Victoria. I love Paul, he's the one I want to spend the rest of my life with. He's a part of me. Matt and you guys are a part of him. That makes you family. I grew up with no family. My parents died when I was young, I had no siblings and virtually no contact with any other relatives. The family I have now is one that I have chosen and it means everything to me. One thing I have learned over the years is that you don't give up on family, you help them out as best you can and you're there for them. I want to be there for you, if you want to be there for your dad."
Paul and Matthew watched in amusement, and not a little sadness, that the twins' answer was a silent, mouthed 'O'. Matthew let them digest that for a moment, then he said, "What about your school? It's only two semesters till you leave. It will be disrupting if you come with me. I am prepared to do whatever it takes to help you out, but the worst of it will be on you. I won't be there every day."
Over the years, the twins had turned to each other for comfort and support, knowing that they wouldn't get it from their parents or grandmother. Even though they didn't have that apparent 'telepathic' link so often ascribed to identical twins, they had a knack for reading each other without speaking - something along the lines of Jack and Daniel's ability. As Victoria was the bolder of the two, she spoke out.
"We'll come," she announced. "We don't see any reason why we can't adjust. After all, our first ten years were spent going from one posting to another, it shouldn't take us long to settle down."
"The high school that's nearest us is full of air force kids," Daniel told them. "Cassie, a friend of ours is there."
"What, she's a teacher?" Alex asked.
"No, a kid, about your age," Paul answered with a grin. "Daniel's known her since she was about ten. He and his team rescued her when her family were wiped out, er, we can't go into more details than that, but then you're used to that, aren't you?"
The two teens laughed as they nodded. They were well-aware of the fact that their father did work they couldn't ask about, so this was nothing new.
"She's like a kid sister," Daniel continued. "The base's doctor adopted her. The second in command of my team lives with them. Let's just say we're pretty close. Cassie's as plain speaking as you," Daniel added, looking pointedly at Victoria. "You'll either become best of friends or hate each other on sight."
They re-entered the family abode with trepidation. None of them wanted to meet up with the two Mrs. Davis. As they entered the living room, it became apparent that they were alone. A note was on the coffee table.
"Matthew. Mother and I have gone to visit the Kirkpatricks as planned. We assumed that as you have guests, you would no longer wish to accompany us. We shall return after lunch."
It wasn't even signed. The words seemed so cold that Matthew nearly checked his fingers for frostbite. Snorting to himself, he threw the paper on the fire.
Daniel watched the scene and saw how uncomfortable everyone was. He had an idea and indicated to Paul to meet him out in the hall. A few moments later, the guys were together. Daniel whispered his idea to Paul and after a hissed exchange of 'are you sure' and the like, Paul returned to the living room with a big smile on his face.
"Daniel's suggested that we take you home with us," he said. "We're not sure if it's possible, but we can try to get a lodge in Aspen."
"We can go skiing?" Victoria asked excitedly.
"If we can get in," Paul answered, putting his hands up. "If we can't get to Aspen, there are some other ski resorts in our area. Failing that, the mountains local to us are covered and there's bound to be some piste or other." He looked to Daniel for confirmation.
"Don't look at me," Daniel shrugged. "I have no intention of going skiing. My life is exciting enough as it is, thank you very much. I'll be sitting in front of the log fire and quietly getting drunk on hot punch."
"Sounds good to me," Matthew answered. "Well, kids? Want to come?"
The look of "Duh!" on the twins' faces said it all.
"You'll need to go check out your clothes," Daniel said. "Pack enough for a week, though we don't know how long you're going to be able to stay. Paul will get in touch with Andrews to see if there's a transport going back to Peterson tomorrow that we can hitch a lift on. Failing that, it'll be a long-haul flight, most likely via Denver. There will be flights tomorrow, won't there?" Daniel asked.
"Quite possibly hop flights," Paul confirmed. "The Air Force doesn't shut down for the holidays, you know. But I don't know about civilian flights. Didn't you bring your laptop?"
"Good thinking Batman!" Daniel announced and legged it up the stairs.
"Batman?" Victoria sniggered.
"Ach, that's nothing. It's usually Pinky."
"PINKY?" Matthew howled.
Paul blinked back. "Yeah, you know. Pinky and the Brain? No prizes for guessing who the Brain is."
Paul turned in shock to the kids. "You don't know Pinky and the Brain? Oh God, you'll be telling me you don't know Freakazoid? The Animaniacs?" They shook their heads to each one. "If you tell me you don't know the Simpsons..."
"No, we know them. At least we get to watch them at our friends' houses."
Paul shook his head in disbelief.
"Dan?" he called out. "It's worse than we thought. We need to re-educate the kids."
A muffled 'Wha?' came down the stairs, followed by the rapid *thud* of footsteps as Daniel crashed back to the ground floor.
"They don't know the Animaniacs, Brain."
Daniel stopped dead and looked at them with sad eyes. "Freakazoid?" he ventured.
Paul shook his head.
"Nut bunnies," Daniel sighed. Then he got a twinkle in his eye. "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
Paul - a.k.a. Pinky looked back and shrugged. "Well, I think so, Brain, but what if we stick to the seat covers?"
As the kids and Matthew looked on in disbelief, Paul scooted off and phoned up Andrews air base as Daniel booted up his laptop.
"Just in case," he muttered under his breath, plugging his satellite phone. "Hopefully the Air Force will come up with the goods. If we have to fly civilian back there it's going to take nearly seven hours. The advantage of a C130 is that though it's slow, it goes direct. But there's no in-flight movie. If I ask nicely I might be able to get an airman or two to do a song and dance routine..." he offered with a grin. That was the point at which the kids lost it and doubled up. Matthew sadly realised that their laughter sounded alien to him. He looked over at Daniel and smiled as Daniel winked. Yeah, things were going to work out at last. For the first time in his married life, Matthew felt pretty much at peace.
"We're in luck," Paul announced, flopping onto the sofa next to Daniel. "There's a transport going out late morning. They don't know if there's going to be space on it, but there should be. They said to give them a call first thing to check up."
"Great," Daniel answered, typing like mad. "Uh, if it doesn't work out, there are plenty of flights. Uh, not that one, no, don't want to go via Minneapolis or Dallas... ah yeah, leaving just before nine. Six and a half hours, but then that's normal. A direct flight to Denver then the prop-hop to Peterson."
"The prop-hop?" Alex asked, still giggling with excitement.
"Yeah. Takes about forty minutes. A smaller twin-prop plane. It got nicknamed the prop-hop by Jack some years back. God only knows we've had to use it often enough. Anyway, we shouldn't have too many problems getting home tomorrow if we want to." He shut off the link to the satnet and put his computer on the table. "I seem to remember that we have some re-educating to do," he said with a grin. "Lookie here."
He clicked a couple of buttons and soon his desktop was filled with cartoon characters. He pointed out the various cartoon heroes he had and between them, he and Paul had the others in stitches as they did the voices and ran through some of the lines. After a few minutes, Daniel turned to Paul and twitched his nose. "And you call me a geek. You should listen to yourself." Ducking the cushion that Paul swatted him with, he clicked another button. "It's too darned quiet in here." Moments later, the sound turned up on his laptop, the room was filled with the noise of an eclectic mix of jazz and jive, reggae and rock, ska and scat. Taking a chance, Daniel pulled Paul until he was sitting next to him and he wrapped his arms around his lover, resting his head on Paul's shoulder. Paul grinned as he felt Daniel's body bouncing underneath him to the sound of Prince Buster. He nearly missed the smiles of his brother and the teens.
"What? Oh, is this okay?" he asked a little worried.
"It's fine, Paul," Matthew reassured him. "Just fine."
Swaying a little in time to the music, Paul put his hands on Daniel's arms and held him close. He looked over to the kids and said, "You two seem to be pretty cool about us."
"It's no biggie," Victoria shrugged. "Makes a change to see someone happy here."
The music changed to a Nina Simone song and as the modern jazz rang through the air, Paul prompted, "Alex? What about you?"
"It's cool," he shrugged, but there was a little hesitation. Daniel looked him in the eye and for a moment Alex was afraid that Daniel could see right through him. Nothing was said, but the small nod from Daniel told Alex that they'd need to talk a bit later.
Matthew sent the kids upstairs to pack and Daniel and Paul retired to their bedroom. Kicking their shoes off, they lay down.
"What was that with Alex?" Paul asked.
"Ah, that had better come from him," Daniel sighed. "Anyway, no talking."
"No talking? Who are you? Where's my Daniel?"
Daniel shut him up with a kiss.
They spent the next ten minutes just kissing, running their hands up and down each other's body, getting turned on but not intending to take it anywhere - at that moment. Daniel broke from the kiss and started to tell Paul all the things he wanted to do to him when they got home and Paul would be able to relax a bit more. How he wanted to tie him up, kiss him from head to foot, turn him over and then repeat his actions on Paul's back. How he'd bite him in places that only they would know about, how...
They were interrupted by a knock on the door. Groaning quietly, they moved a little apart from each other, Daniel turning so that he could face whoever it was. Paul took advantage of this and snuggled up behind him, effectively hiding the hard-on he was now sporting.
"Come in," Daniel called out, at the same time as reaching back and catching Paul's hand in his. He wasn't really surprised to see Alex standing nervously in the doorway.
"Alex, come on in," Paul encouraged.
"Er, you can shut the door if you want to," Daniel added quietly. In the seventeen year-old's eyes, he could see a mix of hope and panic and knew pretty much what was going on in his head.
"I, er, I... oh God, I don't really know you, do I?" Alex' hands went straight to his head and he caught hold of his hair.
"Alex." Daniel's voice was gentle but commanding, a tone that Paul heard often at the base when Daniel wanted a reluctant soldier to do his bidding. It was almost impossible to ignore the tone. To underline their friendliness, the two men sat up, feet on the floor, butts on the bed. "I know you don't know me, and you hardly know Paul, but you do know that Paul and your father are brothers. They're building a relationship that it would appear you already have with your sister. I told you before, Paul is a part of me, so that makes you a part of me, too. No, you don't know me, but I can promise you I'm no threat to you. If you need to talk, then do it. Nothing you say in here will leave this room until you want it to."
Daniel was so sincere that Alex nodded and then looked at the end of the bed.
"Sit down, Alex," Paul encouraged. He scooted backwards and onto the pillows, then nudged Daniel to join him. That way they could be close to Alex but still give him his own space.
"I don't know how to say it," Alex started.
"You can just come out and say it," Daniel answered with a grin. "It's not going to surprise me."
Alex blinked fiercely, then blushed. "You know?"
"I guessed. Uh, don't worry, it's not obvious," came the kindly reply.
"Whatever it is, it's not obvious to me," Paul added. "What's going on?"
"I... oh God, I've told Vicky, but..."
"You don't have to say it," Daniel butted in firmly. "It's yours to tell or not. Nobody can make you say it, nobody can make you even acknowledge it to yourself, though I think you're pretty much there, aren't you?"
Alex nodded. Paul was getting frustrated by this and he moved a little closer and put out his hand to Alex, taking the boy's hand in his, he held it tight.
"There's nothing that you have to keep to yourself, either," he whispered. "Whatever it is, we're not going to turn away."
The support from what were essentially two strangers helped, and Alex blurted it out.
Daniel beamed back at him, acknowledging his courage for actually saying it. Paul sighed. "Oh, is that it? Sheesh. Like that matters. Come here."
He put out his other hand and then pulled his nephew into a hug. "I know it's hard to come to terms with it," he said, "but it's no big deal. Not to family, anyway."
He let go and then wriggled back down the bed to join Daniel. A thought struck him. "You're worried about telling your father, aren't you?"
Alex nodded. "He's changed so much and so quickly," he said. "It's fantastic, Vicky and I couldn't be happier. We understand everything now; why he was so distant and all, and why he's not like that anymore. We do love him, Uncle Paul..."
"And you're afraid that by telling him now you're going to change things?"
"Yes. He's taken the fact that Vic and I want to do different things really well, but this? It is a big deal."
"We get it, Alex," Daniel comforted. "There was a time that I wouldn't tell my best friend about Paul. Partially because of the stupid rules there used to be, but mainly because at the time, he and I were getting over a real rough patch. Jack found out by accident in the end and he turned out to be our biggest supporter. I knew he wouldn't freak about us, but I still didn't want to do anything to upset the status quo. When he found out, we'd only been talking again for a few weeks. So I do know why you're worried." He thought for a few moments and laid out the options. "The way I see it, you can do one of three things. One, tell him and hope for the best. To be honest, I think he'll take it better than you think. He's thrilled to bits that you and Vicky are opening up to him and want to go to Colorado with him..."
"Is that for real? Or is he just pleased that we don't want to stay with Mom," Alex interrupted suddenly.
"It's for real," Paul soothed. "Trust me on this one. Matt didn't think that you two were very interested in him, but I can see it in his eyes, Al. He couldn't be happier. Daniel's right, I think he'll be on your side. He won't be happy about it, mainly because he knows it's not the easiest thing in the world and it could even put you in danger. But I can't see him rejecting you over it. Put it this way, he wasn't happy to find out about Daniel and me, but he dealt with it. When he found out, he and I were barely speaking. However, he saw just what Daniel means to me and how we were together, and though he got a bit jealous in a way, he still didn't let it stand in the way of rebuilding our relationship. Now, he's happy for us. It may take him a little time with you but I doubt very much that he would give up on you because of it."
Alex nodded slowly as he digested the information.
"Two," Daniel carried on as if he hadn't been interrupted, "Paul and I can tell him for you. Or sound him out, prepare the ground, whatever. Then if he's got anything to blurt out, it'll come out to us and not to you."
"That's a bit mean of me to want that from you," Alex answered. "I mean, it's my life."
"True, but that doesn't matter. We'll do it if you want. The final option is wait or even don't tell him at all. I really don't think that would be good though."
"If you want, we can be with you when you tell him... if you tell him," Paul offered. "We won't desert you, you know."
Alex smiled back at him in thanks.
"What about Mother?"
Paul looked to Daniel and Daniel looked back at him. They shook their heads.
"I doubt very much that your mother would react any better than mine did," Paul sighed. "It's up to you, but I'd definitely tell your father first."
Daniel looked slyly at Paul as he said, "Of course, if you really want to piss your mother and grandmother off..."
Alex burst out laughing. "You're evil!" he accused.
"Guilty as charged."
The three giggled as if they were conspiring something, which in a way they were. Paul noticed that Alex' demeanour had changed, too. Not so shy, more confident in fact. It was probably knowing that there were people that would support him and that understood him that made the difference.
"Alex," he said curiously after a few minutes, "tell me something. Are you sure about this? I mean, have you... done anything about it?"
Alex blushed a little. "Yeah, a bit. I dated some girls a while back but they really left me stone cold. There's this guy at school, and, well, we er..."
"It's okay, you don't have to go into details. It's just that announcing to the world you're gay one minute and then maybe meeting a girl later on could just confuse matters."
"Like that's going to happen," Alex scoffed.
"It could, Al," Daniel retorted. "It happened to me. I was convinced I was gay. By the time I was your age, I'd been with a guy for over a year. He and I were together for five years. After he died, I went a bit nuts, dating anyone and everyone. And I mean everyone. I wasn't really turned on by girls to start with, but then I met one that did do something for me. By the time I met my wife, I knew that I was bi. Sure, for me to be interested in a woman, she's got to be special... to me, that is. There's got to be a certain something about her that makes her click, if you know what I mean. But till I was twenty-two, I hadn't really looked at women at all. What I'm saying is you shouldn't pigeonhole yourself. If it turns out that women never do anything for you, then that's fine. It's who and what you are and that's perfectly okay. You just shouldn't say at seventeen that you are one thing or the other. Everyone is different, what applies to one person doesn't necessarily apply to another. You have to do what suits you and nobody else."
Alex nodded slowly, assimilating Daniel's words. "What happened to your wife?"
Paul moved till he was behind Daniel and wrapped his arms around him, holding him tightly.
"She was kidnapped and murdered," Daniel said quietly, tilting his head back till it met Paul's for comfort.
"God, I'm sorry," Alex gasped. "I shouldn't have..."
"Hey, it's okay. She's not taboo, you know. She was a beautiful, funny, wonderful woman and I will love her till I die. I talk about her from time to time, mainly to Jack, my friend, because he knew her, but Paul knows of her and he's heard endless stories. I miss her dreadfully, but it doesn't interfere with how I feel about Paul. I love him every bit as much as I love her. That's what makes it okay to talk about her."
Again, the young man nodded, unknowing of what he could really say anyway. Then he looked at Paul and asked, "What about you?"
"Never met a woman that did a damned thing for me," Paul admitted. "I've had a couple of girlfriends, but they were for appearance's sake... er, they knew it, by the way, I wasn't using them. They needed the charade as much as me. But though I'm very comfortable with women, I'm not attracted to them. Daniel's right, though. At seventeen, much as you think you know what and who you are, you really don't. There are some men that can't acknowledge their true identity even in their sixties, for heaven's sake. People change. Ideas and ideals change. Experience changes you. There are mindless bigots in the services, for example, who turn out to be the first guys on their knees and looking for comfort when they're in a stressful situation, like a front-line posting. They'll go back to base as loudmouthed as ever, but chances are, they've been f..."
Paul suddenly stopped, remembering that the young man in front of him was his nephew and suddenly talking about this seemed plain... odd. Daniel noticed his hesitation.
"I think the word you're looking for is fucked," he said wryly. Paul looked at him open-eyed and Alex nearly fell off the bed laughing.
Thanking God that Daniel was totally unflappable when it came to talking about pretty much anything, Paul nudged him to continue.
"Do yourself a favour in the Springs," Daniel said. "Don't come out at school. It's only for a couple of semesters anyway. Unlike some other parts of the state, like Boulder and Denver which have city laws protecting gays, the Springs doesn't. I'm not saying it's a hotbed of homophobia, it's not the worst place by a long shot, but it's not exactly San Francisco. There are those from the so-called Christian right on some of the school boards. Christian wrong if you ask me, but nobody does," he muttered. "Much as I hate the idea of having to hide out, it would be easier on you in the long run."
"Right, good idea," Alex said. "I wasn't really planning on it." He thought for a moment and then asked, "Are there any clubs where it would be safe to go?"
"Not at your age," Paul told him. "You'd be eaten alive."
"We could take him up to Denver when he's eighteen," Daniel offered, looking at Paul for agreement. "Just till he learns the ropes, so to speak."
They turned to Alex and nodded. "Sure," Paul said. "Why not? We don't go out often, but there are some clubs we like. Even though it's technically okay for us to go out together in the Springs, we rarely do. There's a pretty decent club in Denver that we like. That's if you wouldn't mind being seen with a couple of old guys like us?"
Alex shook his head, laughing again. "No, I think that the first few times it would probably be a good idea," he agreed. "I think I'd feel more comfortable if you were there for me."
"Count on it," Daniel said. Then he turned slightly and dropped a kiss on Paul's nose. "We have to pack."
He'd no sooner said that than there was a knock on the front door. They heard footsteps going down the stairs and the door opening, then as soon as Daniel heard the cry of recognition, he flew off the bed, out of the door and ran down the stairs as fast as he could go.
"Jack! What are you doing here?" he called out, rushing to greet his friend. "Not that I'm not pleased to see you it's just I wasn't expecting you. Paul! Jack's here!"
"Whoa! Calm down, Daniel," Jack laughed. "I've got some news for you guys. Er, and some things too. Thank you, airman. Could you wait for a few minutes please?"
"Yes, Sir. I'll be in the car."
The young airman that had driven Jack to the house deposited the suit bags and another bag into Daniel's waiting arms and returned to the staff car.
"Jack? What's going on? Why aren't you staying?"
"I'm staying in an hotel," Jack explained. "Look, I don't have long, it's too cold to ask that poor airman to wait. Just take these and be here," he gave him a piece of paper with an address on it, "at nineteen hundred. Dress uniform, Paul," he added with a grin. "Afraid it's official. I've been hauled back for it, too. You know about this, Matt?"
Matthew nodded. "Oops," he said, "what with the events of the last twenty-four hours, I've forgotten to tell you."
"Tell us what?" Paul insisted.
"Hang on," Jack interrupted. "Tell them in a minute. I've got to go. I'll see you there?"
"Uh, Jack?" Daniel called out as Jack turned to go. "Not being funny here but will you need help getting ready? I mean, what with your arm in a sling and so on..."
Jack stopped dead and then turned back. "Good thinking," he agreed. "Can you come to my room? It's the same hotel as where the reception is being held. I'm not sure of the number yet, so ask at the desk. Say eighteen hundred or thereabouts?"
"Can you send a car for me?"
"Consider it done," Jack agreed.
"I'll be there. And, Jack?"
"It's good to see you."
Jack beamed at him and nodded to the others, then he left.
As the door shut behind Jack, Matthew was surrounded by the other four. He was about to say something when the clock in the hallway struck one.
"Lunch?" he suggested.
He marched into the kitchen with four curious people on his heels. When he got in there, he opened the cupboards and the fridge and immediately looked lost. His children sighed and pushed him out of the way, raided the fridge for anything that could go in a sandwich and put it on the table. Paul got the message and found the bread bin and Daniel found the coffee maker. Feeling a touch redundant, Matthew remembered where the plates were kept and got them out. He was feeling cross that he hardly knew his way around his own kitchen.
Within minutes, the coffee was brewing and all five were sitting around the table and making up sandwiches.
"Sorry for forgetting to tell you about this," he started, "but it's something that General Harper sprang on me when you were flying up," he finished, pointing to the men. "He's decided that a New Year's party would be a good thing and he wanted it to be an SGC event. Families are invited, by the way," he grinned at the teens. "So, glad rags on tonight, kids."
"What does SGC stand for?" Victoria asked.
The three men looked at each other and Daniel spoke up. "We can't tell you," he replied. "The name doesn't really mean anything," he added cagily, just in case they ever did hear about it, "it's just a code name anyway. But it's one of the things that we have to keep to ourselves."
Paul changed the subject, sort of. "So, he's wanting the Air Force there too?"
Matthew nodded. "It's a sort of meet and greet," he explained. "There will be some of the officers that are going to be posted there tonight. He called up Hammond and as you two were in the vicinity, it was decided that you'd be among the representatives. I guess he called Jack back because he has access to your place to pick up your uniform."
They 'hmmed' in understanding, Daniel feeling sorry that Jack had been called back from his mother's place to attend something that he was undoubtedly going to hate. Jack hated official receptions more than Daniel did - and that was saying something.
"Is Mother going to be coming?" Alex asked in dread.
"I'm afraid so, kiddo," Matthew answered, surprising him with the nickname. "And Grandmama."
A collective groan went up around the table, followed by mass hysteria. When it had calmed down and they'd eaten some more, some coffee had been given out and drunk, Alex took a deep breath.
"I've got something to tell you."
Paul and Daniel looked on intently, knowing what was coming next and getting ready to jump to Alex' aid if necessary. Victoria put her hand under the table and squeezed Alex' hand tightly.
"Go on, son."
"I know that things are different between us now, and I'm really, really happy about it," he started. "But what I have to say might change that and to be honest, I'm a bit scared."
"Alex, tell me."
"Well, it's like this." He looked over to the other men for support and saw nods and smiles coming back at him. "Okay, I can do this. There's no easy way to say it, so I'll just come out and say it."
"Alex, get on with it!" Matthew interrupted, but though his words were harsh, his voice was gentle.
That spurred him on and Alex looked him right in the eye. "I'm gay."
There was a silence for a moment, Matthew not really knowing what to say. One thing he didn't want, however, was to screw this up, so he put his hand out to his son and when Alex took it, he pulled him close, standing up as he did. Then he held him tightly for the first time in years.
"That took a great deal of courage to say that," he said, his voice choked up. "Since this morning, you and your sister have been a total revelation to me. I thought you were like your mother, but now I know that you were just getting along the only way you knew how. I am so proud of you both. Knowing your own minds, being prepared to take whatever comes to achieve your goals, too. I must admit, I'm not going to jump through hoops about this, Alex, but that's because I know it would be so much easier on you if you were straight. But you're not, you're just you, aren't you? And you know what? That's okay. That's more than okay. I promise you this, you are still my son and always will be. This means nothing except for what it means to you."
Daniel and Paul looked up at Matthew, both smiling fit to burst. Paul's eyes especially were filled with pride. His brother, in a few short weeks, was a completely different man from the cold, indifferent one he'd known in the past. Victoria sat open-mouthed in shock for a few moments, then she stood up and hugged her father tightly, loving it when he let go of Alex with one arm and included her in the hug.
Inwardly, Matthew was in turmoil. He'd woken up that morning, expecting to spend the rest of his life alone. The news from his children about their choices and their forgiveness of his previous attitude to them had knocked his socks off. He couldn't have been happier. But Alex' announcement was something else. It wasn't that he was unhappy with his son, but it was as he'd told him, he would be more worried now than he had been. This was a big thing.
He looked over to Paul and saw his brother's reaction to his actions. The approval in his eyes helped Matthew accept that how he'd dealt with the news was the right thing to do.
Matthew was about to let go of his children when he was surprised by the kitchen door opening and his wife and mother walking in. Virginia was in shock to see her husband holding his once estranged children tightly.
"What is going on?" she demanded.
Matthew thought quickly and replied. "Daniel and Paul have invited us to Colorado for a few days' holiday," he said. "We have all decided to go. I'm sure you will be glad of the break from us," he added, emphasising the point that they were going without her. "Oh, and we are all going to a reception tonight. Dress uniform," he announced, his voice brooking no argument. "The General has invited us all to his New Year's party."
Virginia looked down her nose at Paul and Daniel.
"It's on their behalf," Matthew said, slowly letting go of his children after deliberately holding them as long as he could get away with. "General Harper wishes to meet the representatives of the base where his people are now going to work. As Daniel is the chief civilian and Paul is leader of the diplomatic corps, they are two of the guests of honour. Colonel O'Neill will be there, too, the base's second in command."
"I wonder if George will go?" Daniel mused out loud.
Daniel waggled his head from side-to-side. "I know he's supposed to be on duty, but I can't see that he wouldn't be there. Given that he's the general and all."
Paul smothered a grin. He now knew why Daniel had said 'George' and not 'General Hammond'. Virginia and his mother were notorious name-droppers.
"We'd better get our clothes ready for tonight," Victoria said to Alex, tugging on his arm. "We're going to need the good ones."
Alex grinned and then turned and winked at his father. He was grateful for his father covering for him in the way he had, not saying anything about his coming out. With as much dignity as he could, he scooted out of the kitchen, then ran up the stairs with his sister in tow.
"Uh, Dan, I think we should go for a walk," Paul said. "Work off our lunch."
A hissed 'traitor' came from Matthew as they made their way passed him. They said nothing, just grinned and made their way out of the kitchen and grabbed their coats.
A few hours later and Daniel wondered if he could get out of the evening's 'mission', but figured he probably couldn't. Sitting on the bed, listening to Paul in the shower he changed his musings to wondering if he should join him. After a quick 'yes/no' debate, 'yes' won and he made a move towards the bathroom. He was thwarted by a knock on the bedroom door.
"Matt, come in."
He stood back and let Matthew into the room, curious when Matthew shut the door behind him.
"What's up?" he asked.
"Oh, I don't know," Matthew groaned. "I guess that today's been a real kicker, you know?"
"I suppose so," Daniel agreed. "Finding out that your kids were actually human, that they weren't going to follow the family line, that Alex is gay..."
Matthew nodded. "That's the biggie," he whispered. "How do I deal with it?"
"What do you mean?"
"I don't want to say the wrong thing, Daniel. I do love him, he's my son. This isn't going to change that, it's just..."
"It's a shock," Daniel murmured in understanding. "You're afraid for him, you can't really relate to it, you don't know what there is for you to do."
"Exactly. Did I do the right thing? Say the right thing? Should his mother know? What?"
"You did the right thing for you and for him, Matt. You gave him unconditional support and love. That's all he wants, hell, that's all any kid wants. You've accepted him for being who and what he is. He doesn't need anything else. Yes, there may come a time when he comes home upset, possibly even beaten up because of it. Then he'll need practical help and a shoulder to cry on. But there's nothing else for you to do. Just be there for him, Matt, and you'll have it sussed. As for his mother, I'd say no. You can't discuss this with anyone without his permission. He'll accept you talking to me or Paul because he's told us this himself, but it's his news, it's about him. Quite frankly, it's nobody's business but his own. Be proud that he told you, that he trusted you so quickly with this news. You're right, it is a big deal. But not that he's gay. The deal is that he told you."
Matthew sat on the bed with a thump and mulled Daniel's words over in his mind.
"I get it," he whispered. "I'll do my best for him. Will you two watch out for him too?"
"Promise. We've already told him that when he's old enough, we'll take him out, explain the etiquette in the clubs and so on. He's agreed that having a couple of old guys around won't be so bad to start with."
Matthew chuckled at that and whispered a 'thank you'.
"You're not in this on your own, Matt. We're here for you, too. Don't forget, there are organisations that can help support you, too. PFLAG, for example. It may help you if you get involved, being there for others, fighting for equal rights and so on."
"You mean like getting married?"
There was a noise at the bathroom door and a soggy Paul entered the room. Daniel looked at his lover and grinned.
"Yeah. You know most people don't realise just what we miss out on."
"Come on, Daniel, it's only a ceremony..."
"No, it's not. Did you know that you have over a thousand rights that we don't have?"
"More than that. If Paul suddenly took ill and went to hospital, I'd have no right to visit him. If I died on a mission, he'd have no right to inherit. We have no tax allowances, no right to adopt, we can't even pick up a death certificate if that was necessary. If one of us was the victim of a crime, the other would have no right to sue for damages, even if the victim was badly injured and the other was taking care of him. It's stuff like that, Matt. From the little things like changing names, to the big things like insurance coverage and so on. When Paul leaves the Air Force, what benefits there would be from working together, like having the doctors at the base knowing to come to the other one for permission to operate or whatever, would go. Think about this. If you and Virginia stay married but separate and you retire and then suddenly die, she'll have the rights to a widow's pension. If that happened with us, the remaining one wouldn't, yet we'd have been together for years and wanted to stay that way. Not fair, is it?"
"No. I had no idea it was so bad."
"It's worse than that," Daniel sighed, "but it gives you the idea."
"How do you manage?"
"We spent a fortune on lawyers not so long back," Paul said as he sat next to Daniel, towelling his hair as he spoke. "We named each other basically as next of kin. We're medical contact for each other, main beneficiary for insurance, inheritance and so on. But whereas you and Virginia got that from spending a few bucks on a marriage license, he and I had to have virtually every single angle covered - and each one cost a lot. We still don't have the same coverage that you have, but at least it's a bit more secure for us now. When I first moved in with Daniel, if anything had happened to him I'd have been unable to have a say in anything."
"So, they want a fight, do they?" Matthew growled. Then he turned to the men and grinned. "They're going to get one."
Daniel put his hand on Matthew's shoulder and squeezed it.
"Fight, Matt. The more people that do that the better. But, do Alex a favour and talk to him about it first. After all, it could affect him. Yes, if anyone asks, you can say you're fighting on behalf of your brother, but if word gets out about him... maybe waiting a few months till he's in college would be better?"
Matthew nodded. "I see what you're saying," he said. "I can do that. But in the meantime, I'm not going to take any crap from anyone on this."
"God, Daniel, you look gorgeous."
Paul couldn't take his eyes off him, looking him up and down and only just retaining enough marbles to stop himself from drooling.
He wasn't wrong, though. Daniel had on the black suit that Jack had brought up, along with the white shirt and soft grey silk tie. But it was the way he was wearing it. He'd left his glasses off and put in his contact lenses. His hair, while brushed, still had that 'just got out of bed' look that made him deadly and his stance was that of 'don't mess with me, I'm dangerous'. It took all of Paul's self-control to refrain from jumping him there and then.
"Get your uniform on, babe," Daniel replied huskily, "and then you'll see what gorgeous really is."
The sound of a car pulling up outside the house put an end to the conversation and Daniel grabbed his wallet and headed downstairs. By the time he'd reached the hall, Victoria had opened the front door and there was a young airman, looking like he wanted to be anywhere else but working on New Year's Eve, standing just inside.
"I'll see you all at the hotel," Daniel said to those within earshot, ushering the airman back out of the door.
Virginia watched in horror as Daniel deliberately - and as soon as the airman was out of the way - turned back and kissed Paul goodbye. It wasn't a long or deep kiss, but it wasn't a quick peck on the cheek either. With a final wink and slinging a bag over his shoulder, he left the house.
When the door shut, Victoria said, "Wow, Uncle Paul, he sure cleans up nice, doesn't he?"
Paul grinned. "Oh yeah," he agreed. "Very nicely indeed."
Jack opened the door to his hotel room as soon as he heard the first knock. He had got his trousers on, and was in the process of trying to get his shirt on when Daniel turned up.
"Jack, why didn't you wait for me?" Daniel scolded, entering the room and shutting the door behind him. "And what is tonight all about? Is it really just a meet and greet? Why weren't we told about it before?"
"Hello to you too, Daniel," Jack grumped. "One question at a time, please?"
"Oh, yeah, sorry. So, come on, spill O'Neill. You talk while I dress you."
Jack chuckled and tried not to wince as Daniel looked him up and down and shook his head. As the sleeve was going up and over his bad arm, he basically repeated what Matthew had said to Daniel and the others earlier. He held back a laugh as he saw Daniel matter-of-factly doing up his shirt buttons and then tucking the shirt into the top of his pants before finishing up the flies. His tie and jacket were on in no time, the men chatting all the while, then his socks and shoes.
"Okay, now if anyone came in at this moment they might get the wrong idea," Jack laughed out loud.
Daniel looked up from his position on his knees where he was tying Jack's laces and saw what Jack was on about. He cracked up and smacked Jack's leg.
"Hush you, I'm a married man," he said.
He stood up and looked Jack up and down and smirked. "Hmm, not bad."
"Daniel?" Jack's eyes opened wide in shock, then he burst out laughing when he saw Daniel's eyes twinkle mischievously. "What am I going to do with you?" he sighed.
"Told ya, I'm a married man."
Not really knowing what else to say, Jack offered Daniel a drink from the mini bar. They cracked open a couple of Scotch miniatures each and then sat side-by-side on the bed. Daniel filled Jack in with the goings-on of the previous twenty-four hours, minus Alex' news.
"Fuck," Jack said at the end of it. "Are Matt and the kids okay?"
"Yeah, they're turning to each other for support. The kids have always done that, and now their support network has grown considerably. They'll be fine. I'm just worried that the Gorgon and the Dragon will try to spoil things for Matt and Paul."
"What do you mean?"
"I'm not sure what they'll do, but their mother has a lot of connections and Matt's wife has a few of her own. All it could take would be a few choice words in a few choice ears and their careers could be fucked up."
"I get you. And when Hammond retires, Paul's not going to have a general to rely on."
He drank his whisky down and then patted Daniel on the shoulder.
"Don't worry, pal, I'm sure it will work out."
Standing edgily in the large ballroom of the hotel at which the reception was being held, Paul watched the doorway, hoping that Daniel would walk in every time it opened. He looked at his watch and saw that it was one minute to seven... they'd been a little early as was both his and Matt's habits. At seven on the dot, the door opened again and Daniel walked in, Jack, as per usual, glued to his hip and looking dangerous. He'd foregone the sunglasses that he liked to wear, Daniel telling him he'd look silly if he did, but even with the one arm in a sling he carried the aura of a man not to be messed with. Daniel, on seeing Paul and the others, lit up and he grabbed Jack's good arm and propelled him in the direction of his prey.
He forced himself to not kiss Paul on greeting him, though he doubted that Jack or Matt would have said anything if he did. Despite the change in the law for the military, it still wasn't a good idea to be shouting out that they were together. Keeping it discreet kept the bigots off their backs.
Matthew introduced Jack to his mother and the others, Jack's demeanour changing a little when he saw Alex. He smiled, he shook his hand, but there was something there that had thrown him and Daniel wasn't sure what. Saying that they would get a drink and rejoin them, he steered Jack away.
"Jack, what's up? You froze when you saw Alex."
All of the exchange was done in hushed tones in deference to the fact that the room was filling with people and Daniel knew that whatever it was, Jack would want to keep it quiet. However, Daniel's determination to make Jack talk came ringing out. Jack knew that he'd not be able to keep it to himself.
"Charlie," he said quietly.
"Jack?" Daniel's voice softened and he turned to look Jack in the eye.
"It's just that Alex looks a bit like Charlie - or how Charlie would probably have looked if he'd lived long enough."
They reached the bar and Daniel got them some drinks. Passing one to Jack, he asked, "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine. This happens sometimes. I'll see a kid in the mall..." He took a sip of whisky and then continued. "It's usually the ones that look like he did when..." His voice trailed off and Daniel just nodded.
"Do you want to leave? When we get back, I'll tell Hammond you weren't feeling well, that the flights took it out of you or something."
Jack shook his head. "Nah, I'll be fine, Danny. Thanks. Just... well, if I upset the kid at all, let him know, will ya? I don't think I could face a cross-examination or anything."
"You're on. Come on, let's get back. You'll like Alex, Jack. He's a good kid."
"Considering what Matt thought they were like, they would both appear to be good kids."
Daniel shrugged. They were rapidly approaching the others and he said quickly, "Most kids are, Jack. Just give them the chance to do their thing and someone to watch out for them when they fuck up, they manage. Can't let them get away with too much, though."
"You got away with much too much," Jack chuckled as they arrived.
"Had no one to stop me."
With live music playing in the background, courtesy of a small military orchestra, Jack was on his charming best, lulling Virginia and Elizabeth into a false sense of security. The nice colonel was polite, pretending that he knew nothing about the bust-up at home. As they were in a formal setting, Paul addressed him by his rank, as did Matthew, though their eyes spoke of a much more friendly relationship.
Jess had turned up not much later than Daniel and Paul's mother had been surprised to see Paul greeting her excitedly. She was introduced to everyone and the children took to Paul's best friend immediately. As the sort of character that bounced into a room and lit it up, she was soon deflecting any attention from Paul and Daniel, allowing them to stand a little closer than maybe they would have done otherwise. It didn't take her long before she had Paul on the dance floor and Daniel laughing as they moved as one.
"Jealous?" Matthew teased.
Daniel snorted. "You're kidding, right?"
By the time Paul had returned to Daniel's side, he was nearly gasping for breath. Jess' energetic dancing had done for him. Just as Daniel was about to become her next victim, a buzz at the table near them had them turning and they saw General Harper, accompanied by a familiar face. They watched as Harper and General Hammond schmoozed for a few minutes and then turn to greet them. Both generals were greeted by warm smiles. Matthew had served as an aide to Harper for years and was pretty devoted to the 'old man'.
"Ladies, gentlemen," Harper said, his voice rather ebullient. "It's good to see you here. I'm sorry to have dropped this on you at the last moment, but I wasn't sure if I could get the use of the ballroom or not."
Paul thought that was odd, as parties were usually planned well in advance, especially at this time of the year. Unless there was something else going on, that was.
Harper introduced Hammond to Matthew's family - knowing them well as he did. Then it was George's turn.
"Andrew, this is Colonel O'Neill, second in command of the base..." The usual formal greetings were made between an officer and his superior and then Hammond turned to Daniel.
"This is Doctor Daniel Jackson, our most senior civilian, head of the anthropology department and a vital member of Colonel O'Neill's team."
"Pleased to meet you at last, Doctor," Harper said. "I've heard a lot of good things about you."
"The pleasure's mine, General," Daniel replied, making a little small talk as one would. Finally, Hammond introduced Paul.
"And of course, this is Colonel Davis' brother, Major Paul Davis. Head of our diplomatic corps," George said, not a little proudly.
Daniel cast a glance over to Paul's mother as Paul greeted the general. Instead of looking as proud as one would expect of a mother of two highly-respected officers, she looked distinctly uncomfortable. He wasn't sure whether to be enjoying her discomfort or to be annoyed about it.
The evening went on, Paul's team turned up and he was delighted to see them, as were the others from the SGC, such as the marine colonel and his most senior officers. They gave the reason for being there as they were on a diplomatic mission, charming the natives in the hope of getting them over to their side. Matthew introduced various army officers to the others, ones that would soon be posted to the base, though none of them apart from Matthew had any idea of what would be waiting for them. After a few hours of small talk and dancing, and not too long before the New Year was rung in, Generals Harper and Hammond ascended the stage and quieted the orchestra, much to the players' relief. While they went off in search of refreshments, Harper took the microphone.
"I just want to say that I am glad that you have all attended tonight and seem to be enjoying yourselves."
Murmurs of agreement rang through the room and he put his hands up to hush them.
"Now, I promise, there will be no long speeches," he paused for light laughter, "but there is a little something that needs to be done. In a matter of weeks, units in my command will be joining General Hammond's base in Colorado. Needless to say, it is my belief that my people, all of whom are hand-picked as the best representatives I could send, will distinguish themselves, both in the field and at the base. The inter-force command already works with the Marines at the air base and I have no doubt that the Army will acquit itself with the same distinction.
"Having said all of that, I need to send someone to represent me. Someone that has the respect of the men under his command, someone that will command the same respect from all the members of the base. I have chosen my preferred officer, but unfortunately, he is only a lieutenant colonel, and I really need to send a full colonel. After all, the Marines have one," he added, with a twinkle in his eye.
Matthew kept his face straight, his stomach churning with disappointment. He'd been promised that he would be the most senior army officer there. A quick look at his wife told him that she was smug. He nearly missed the next thing that Harper said.
"So, seeing as I already have the man that I want, it behoves me to give him the job. Step up, Colonel Davis."
Matthew stood stunned, only moving forward when Paul pushed him. He regained his composure and made his way to the stage. Still a bit stunned, he stepped up to Harper's side.
Harper's voice rang out in the silent room. "From the Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army. In recognition of Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Davis' excellent service, I hereby authorise his immediate promotion to the rank of colonel." Harper removed the silver oak leaves from his collar and saying, "The United States Army recognises Lieutenant Colonel Davis' outstanding acts above and beyond the call of duty. It is with great pride that I bestow upon him the duties, responsibilities and respect that befit a colonel in the United States Army," he placed the eagles in the oak leaves' place.
Thanking Harper, he saluted his general, then turned to Hammond and saluted him, getting his congratulations, too. Grinning madly, he descended from the stage and to the applause of those in the room. When he reached his family, his children grabbed him and hugged him and he was patted on the back by Jack and Daniel. Paul caught hold of his hand to shake it, then changed his mind and pulled him into a hug instead, congratulating him as he did. He turned to his mother and wife and received cold kisses on his cheeks as they kept up appearances.
When the noise calmed down, Hammond took the microphone.
"It will be a pleasure to have the army units at my base, if Colonel Davis is anything to go by. I know that he is looking forward to joining us, as we are to have him and the rest of you join us. However, the Air Force isn't in the habit of being overshadowed, so I have a little surprise announcement of my own.
Jack slipped the camera out of his pocket and gave it to Jess, nodding in Paul's direction as he did. She quickly cottoned on and slyly pointed it at Paul.
He looked over to the Davis clan and smiled. "From the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force. In recognition of outstanding performance above and beyond the normal call of duty. With tremendous pride, I hereby authorise the immediate promotion of Major Paul Davis to the rank of lieutenant colonel. Please, Major, step forward."
Trying to hide his own shock and pleasure, Paul numbly followed in his brother's footsteps. He just managed to steady himself in time to reach the steps and arrived next to General Hammond.
"It gives me enormous pleasure to bestow the rank of lieutenant colonel on you, son," Hammond said proudly. "Not only does the United States Air Force recognise your ability, but all of us at the base do, too. Your commitment to the men and women of the facility has been exemplary and you have earned their respect." He did as Harper had done for Matthew and replaced Paul's major's oak leaves with the silver ones of his new rank. "It really is with great pride that I bestow upon you the responsibilities and respect that befit a lieutenant colonel of the United States Air Force."
"Thank you, Sir," Paul managed to get out.
Again salutes were exchanged and Paul made a dignified retreat. When he got back to the others, he saw Daniel smiling fit to burst, Jack looking as proud as a peacock and Matthew just about ready to take off into orbit. The kids got to him first and gave their uncle a hug, as did his brother. He next turned to his mother and sister-in-law and they grudgingly congratulated him in the same manner in which they had congratulated Matthew. Any doubt they had had about the level of support that Paul had in the Air Force had been swept away and they were left floundering for reasons to be against him. Then Paul turned to Jack and Daniel. Jack put his good hand out and took Paul's, shaking it and smiling widely.
"Congratulations, Colonel," he said. "You deserve it."
"You knew, didn't you?" Paul accused, his eyes twinkling as he did.
"You think a party could get me away from Minnesota otherwise?"
Laughing, Paul looked at his lover. Daniel wanted to hug him, wondered if he should, then thought 'to hell with it'. He grabbed him and pulled him into a tight hug, holding him closely and as affectionately as he dared.
"I am so going to do you in your uniform tonight, Colonel," he whispered.
Paul swallowed harshly and thought of his mother to deflate the erection that threatened.
It was going to be a long half-hour till the New Year.
The final half hour was filled with congratulations being offered, Paul's team swamping him with hugs as well as words. Even the marines came over to congratulate him, and for a while, Paul allowed himself to bask in the happy glow. Jack watched Paul's mother and sister-in-law as they both quietly fumed. Neither were happy about the promotions, even if there would have been a time in the past that they would have enjoyed Matthew's step closer to being a general. A sinking feeling had hit Virginia that even though he may well get there, she wouldn't be around to enjoy the rewards.
It was nearly time for the clock to strike midnight. Daniel and Paul watched curiously as Paul's team, Jack and Matthew surrounded them. The countdown started and Jack winked at Daniel, then looked at Paul, then back at Daniel and nodded. A quick flick of his eyes over to Paul's family confirmed Daniel's suspicion as to what Jack had in mind. He grinned madly back at him and nodded slightly.
"Ten, nine, eight.."
He moved right next to Paul and stood in front of him.
"Seven, six, five, four..."
Their friends moved closer until no one could see them, on three sides. On the fourth side was a wall, and in-between the wall and the men, stood the Davis clan.
"Three, two, one... HAPPY NEW YEAR!"
The cry went up, cheers and champagne corks popped and Daniel moved in for the kiss. He wrapped his arms around his lover and kissed him long and passionately. They broke apart, Paul stunned, Daniel horny and both gasping for breath.
Paul cast a glance around and saw what the others had done for them and he relaxed a little. Then he burst out laughing.
"You are incorrigible," he scolded.
"It was Jack's idea," Daniel answered, his face as innocent as he could make it.
Paul raised one eyebrow and looked at a very smug Jack.
"Why doesn't that surprise me? He's incorrigible too."
Daniel deliberately kept Paul facing away from his mother. He didn't want Paul's evening to be spoilt by the murderous look on her face.
"So, we meet up at Andrews at ten o'clock," Daniel told Matthew. "The General's giving us a lift back in his jet."
"We're going up in the world," Matthew laughed.
"Up and up and up," Daniel confirmed. "Just make sure you guys are there."
"We will be. Have you told Paul yet?"
"Uh, no, I'll do it in a minute. I just need to get him out of here."
The party was breaking up and Paul was still swamped by congratulations from his SGC colleagues and those that he had worked with at the Pentagon.
He made his way through the crowd and put his hand on Paul's arm.
"Say goodnight, Colonel," he said.
"Uh, goodnight, Colonel," Paul repeated, though he was talking to the Marine Colonel at the time. "Uh, Dan? Where are we going?"
"Got an early flight tomorrow," Daniel explained.
"Oh. We have?"
Paul went with Daniel, fully expecting to be led to the rest of the family, but instead, finding himself being taken to the elevators.
"Just a minute, hun."
Daniel pressed a button and the lift rose.
"I took the liberty of booking us a room for tonight," he explained. "Uh, a suite, in fact."
"That's what the bag was for, wasn't it?"
"You planned this all along?"
"Only when Jack had gone off to the hotel. I sneaked into the bedroom and phoned the hotel and found out..." The lift stopped and the door opened. They stepped out and Daniel led him down the corridor. "Uh, I found out that they had a suite free. Figured you'd prefer it to sleeping back at Matt's place."
Daniel opened the door, switched on the light, shut the door and locked it, then pushed Paul up against it and kissed him hard.
"That's why. Stay there."
Paul stood stock still and watched as Daniel crossed the room and opened up the bag. He swallowed hard when he saw him pick out a bottle of lube, grinning diabolically as he looked Paul up and down. Paul saw that underneath his trousers, Daniel was hardening rapidly, and his own cock responded in kind.
"Hush. No sound," Daniel ordered, his voice strong but quiet. Again Paul swallowed as the anticipation grew.
Slowly, Daniel moved back toward him, deliberately raking Paul with his eyes as he neared his goal. He arrived almost nose to nose with Paul and then grinned again; this time, his face was hungry. Paul couldn't help it. He let out a gasp and put his hands against the door in an effort to stay still. He felt Daniel's breath on his lips, could feel the heat from his face radiating on his own and he shut his eyes in an effort to stop himself from coming on the spot.
"I told you that I was so going to do you in your uniform, didn't I?" Daniel taunted. "It's your fault, Paul. You look so hot, I can't hold back anymore."
With that, he dropped to his knees. Paul opened his eyes warily and used every ounce of self-control that he had to refrain from grabbing Daniel's head and just fucking his face. He sighed with relief as he felt his trousers and briefs being pulled down, his cock springing out and smacking Daniel's cheek as it became exposed. It didn't do Paul's control much good when he saw Daniel wiping the pre-come off his cheek with his finger, putting it slowly into his mouth, drawing it out while sucking on it, licking his lips.
He counted backwards from twenty in Russian, then forward again in French, anything to take his mind off what was going on so that he could prolong it. Daniel's tongue flicked out and licked the head of his cock, then licked stripes of wetness up the whole shaft. Giggling a little, Daniel blew cold air onto it, the wetness making it feel colder than it was. Paul's entire body shuddered with the sensation.
"You want this?" Daniel whispered.
"God, yes, please," Paul begged hoarsely, his voice sounding like he'd been shouting all night.
Taking a deep breath, Paul tilted his head down and watched as Daniel started by taking the head of his cock into his mouth and then bit by bit, he took more of him in until there was no more. Paul felt the sensations course through his body as Daniel's tongue ran up and down his dick. At the same time, he was sucking, increasing the pressure one moment, then slacking off the next. He didn't use his hands, fully intending to bring Paul off with his mouth alone. Paul was in heaven, his mind shut down completely and all he knew was the fact that he was being worked by an expert. Daniel brought him to the edge and backed off, time and time again. He let the cock slide from his mouth and took each ball into it in turn instead. Rolling them around in his mouth, he gently sucked and licked till he felt them start to draw back. Then he would stop and let Paul settle for a moment before starting up anew, teasing, taunting with his tongue, salaciously enjoying every gasp and moan that came from his lover.
"Please," Paul begged, needing to end this.
"Soon baby," Daniel drawled, his voice almost patronising as he moved back to take Paul's dripping cock into his mouth yet again.
The moans got louder until Daniel figured that he'd tormented Paul enough. He flicked his eyes upwards and saw Paul observing his every move with the fanaticism of a cat in front of a fish tank. His blue eyes glistening, he arched his neck and swallowed Paul whole. With one, last, powerful suck, Paul came, pouring down Daniel's throat.
"God," he gasped, unable to grasp anymore of the English language at that moment. His eyes screwed shut in self-defence, unwilling to watch Daniel much longer as his orgasm was wrung out of him. He missed seeing Daniel letting his cock drop out of his mouth, missed seeing him get up slowly and dangerously and totally missed the fact that Daniel was now nose to nose with him again until he felt the hot breath on his lips.
"Turn around and face the door, Colonel," Daniel whispered.
His pants around his ankles, Paul somehow wriggled till he was facing away from Daniel. He knew what was coming and he braced himself for the extreme pleasure he'd get in the next moments.
First, he heard the lube being opened, then he felt his ass cheeks being almost brutally pulled apart. Then he felt Daniel's thumb as it pushed inside of him, ruthlessly plastering his insides with the lube, twisting and turning and pulling him this way and that. He tried to push back onto Daniel's hand but all that got him was Daniel pulling his hand away and a whispered "patience" in his ear. The next thing he knew, he felt something much larger in place of the thumb and he allowed himself a smile. He forced himself to relax and allowed Daniel easy entry into his body.
As soon as Daniel was all the way in, he wrapped his arms around Paul's waist. Paul had both his hands on the door, holding himself up. He felt Daniel's entire body against his and let out a happy moan. No matter that they had done this many times, that they knew every inch of each other's body, knew every taste and touch and erogenous zone, it never failed to make him happy, especially when Daniel literally engulfed Paul's body with his own.
"I love you," Daniel murmured. He started to thrust, slowly, forcefully, punctuating each stroke with words. "I was so proud of you out there. You looked so fucking hot. God, Paul, so good. I wanted to do you there, in front of everyone. Let them see what you mean to me. Let them see what you do to me. How you drive me crazy with want, with desire, with need. Do you know? Do you know what you do to me? Let me show you."
He pulled his body away from Paul's until his cock was almost all the way out. Then he slammed back into him, only Daniel's arm that was still around his waist stopped Paul from smacking into the door. Again, Daniel pulled back and impacted with him, body against body, balls against ass. Paul couldn't help it, he started to thrust backwards, almost willing Daniel to somehow merge with him, wanting more and more by the moment.
"Oh fuck," Daniel gasped. "Gonna come. Inside you. All the way. You're gonna feel it." Each short sentence was interrupted with another thrust. He stopped talking and then sped up so fast that he stopped thinking too. All that mattered was that he was inside Paul and wanting to come.
It was the only sound he could make as he started to come. He continued pounding into Paul until he had nothing more for him, then he wrapped his other arm around Paul's chest and held on tightly, resting his head on Paul's shoulder.
"Love you," Paul finally managed to get out. "God, Daniel, that was incredible."
He felt Daniel's face curve into a smile against his neck and the soft snuffle of a chuckle.
"Told you," Daniel said a little smugly. "You turn me on so fucking bad, Paul." He pulled back reluctantly, trying to ignore that horrible moment when he separated from his lover. "C'mon, bathroom. We need to get some sleep if we're going to catch that plane tomorrow."
Paul woke up a bit disorientated when the insistent beep of the travel alarm went off. He reached out, his arm flailing as he tried to hit the snooze button. Missing, he cursed, especially when a sleepy Daniel moaned, "Shut that fucking thing up, will you?"
"Gimme a minute," Paul snapped and he turned himself away from Daniel, finally got hold of the clock and switched the alarm off. "Fuck," he cursed again when he saw the time.
"Dan, it's eight o'clock. We have to get up if we're going to get the plane."
Somehow, he found the strength to stand and put out his hand to his reluctant lover. Daniel, his eyes barely open, allowed Paul to haul him upright.
They staggered into the bathroom and Paul realised that they both needed a shower if they were going to wake up at all. He reached into the shower cubicle, making a mental note that it was big enough for two, while Daniel took a leak. He switched the water on, took his turn at the toilet and then propelled the dozy Daniel into the shower.
"Oops. Hang on, better turn some hot water on," he said with a guilty giggle.
"You did that on purpose."
Paul looked at Daniel, knowing that the accusation was purely because Daniel hadn't been anywhere near a coffee pot for hours.
"Yes," he admitted. "I really wanted you to have a cold shower. Especially when I'm about to share it with you."
Daniel looked at him curiously for a moment, then he smiled.
"Oh? Is this a time saving shower? A water saving shower? Or something else?"
Paul just smiled back, stuck his hand under the water, was relieved to find it warm enough and pushed Daniel back into the cubicle. Then he stepped inside with him.
Moments later, he found himself pushed up against the wall, Daniel's wet body plastered to his, and Daniel's hard cock laying against his stomach.
"Put your leg around mine," Daniel said, trailing his one hand down Paul's side as his other held him up against the wall. He did as instructed, then he felt Daniel get hold of Paul's cock and slip it in-between his thighs, clamping his legs together tightly. Paul moaned as the warmth of Daniel's powerful muscles trapped him.
With his right leg hooked behind Daniel's left, Paul leant against the tiled wall, loving the sensations of warm water raining on him and Daniel's hot body covering him. He felt Daniel's cock pulse in time with his heartbeat and then Daniel started to move his hips.
The hairs on Daniel's legs rasped against Paul's sensitive cock and the hardness of Daniel's cock threatened to bruise his groin and abdomen, but he didn't care. He tugged with his leg, his left hand curled around Daniel's waist and pulled too, urging Daniel to move harder against him. He felt Daniel's right hand move until it was under his buttock and then Daniel pulled him closer, as if the microscopic space between them could be ignored and they could move into negative distance. No words were said, they just humped against each other until Paul felt his stomach warm to the sticky fluid that spurted out of Daniel in time to the pulsing of his dick. Moments later, Daniel felt the same thing as Paul's come brushed his ass before running down his thighs.
"That's more like a wake-up call," Paul said with a grin when they got their breath back.
"Hmm," Daniel agreed. "Make it a regular order."
They got to the plane with about five minutes to spare, Jack with them as they shared a car. Matthew had packed up the men's remaining items at his house and had brought them, along with two very excited and happy teenagers. George greeted them and ushered them onto the business jet and the children very nearly bounced up the steps into it.
They sat down, buckled up, all on board chatting as they went. There were no others from the SGC on the plane, they'd get a transport down later in the day, but George was feeling particularly munificent with Daniel and Paul at that moment. He knew how hard they'd been working recently and felt like treating them.
The chatter diminished as take-off occurred, soon returning to normal levels when they reached the cruising altitude. George unbuckled his belt and strolled over to Paul.
"Well, Colonel," he said with a smile. "How are you feeling this morning?"
Paul looked over at his family - in a way, his new family - then at Daniel, Jack and finally back at George. He waved over to the window and smiled as he pointed out the clouds.
"On top of the world, Sir. Thank you."