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In All But Name

Summary: Starting the final series in this set of stories. A dysfunctional chosen family can be way better than the one you were born with.
Warning: recollections of under-age sex are mentioned. If you don't like the idea, don't read it. If you do read it, don't come crying to me. You've been warned.
Many thanks again for betaing, ideas and cheerleading to Gary, Joy and Fabi.

Cursing himself for being so out of breath, Daniel reached the kitchen door. He'd pushed himself hard on the morning's run, trying to beat back the start of his dark mood. He wasn't sure what was bringing that on, it happened from time to time and he knew it. Nothing at home was prompting it, that was certain. It was almost as if things were too good at home, as if he was waiting for something to go wrong. He cursed himself again for his pessimism. Why should something go wrong?

Ever since Paul had started his new job, he'd seen him grow almost physically in stature. Paul's previous life had, for the most part, been in helping people, but not on the 'front line'. Not that his work behind the scenes hadn't been important, it had been. But apart from his early days in special ops, he'd not been right there, helping out, making things better. Now, he was. Yes, sometimes their fear came to pass that the stress of the job meant that Paul would need to forget, but Daniel was more than happy to help out. As was Jack. That wasn't important, though. Paul loved making a difference, and seeing the difference happen right before his eyes.

As for Jack, he was as happy as anything. His reputation as an artist was growing daily, surprising the hell out of himself if he was honest. He would never have pegged himself as a sculptor or potter as a young man. Jack was really enjoying it, too; creating something instead of destroying it was a nice change. To leave his mark on the planet as someone who made people happy by making things instead of someone who made people sad by blowing things up... well, it meant a lot to him.

So Daniel couldn't see why he'd felt the darkness descend over the last few days. His own work was going well. The 'cracking of Linear A' book he'd written had been published, creating an academic explosion. Many of his former colleagues now wanted to talk to him, where they wouldn't have done in the past. Of course, the predicted "he's wrong" comments from some quarters had come his way, but as his opponents couldn't actually find anything in his work which they could specifically prove was wrong, the rest of his field were coming over to his side. Not that he spoke to them. A liaison at the Pentagon was dealing with all the calls, just as he'd been promised when he'd finally finished the book. He didn't want to speak to them; wanted, in fact, to tell them all to 'fuck off'. Needless to say, his liaison wasn't saying he was from the Pentagon. A special, direct line had been installed to his office and when it rang, he knew to answer it as if he was Daniel's PA. In a few months' time, when the furore had died down, the phone line would be cut and that would be the end of it.

It didn't stop the odd journalist trying to trace Daniel to interview him, though. When rumours of his presence in San Francisco got out, they'd tracked down the house. Jack had pre-empted them by installing a large gate at the end of the drive with a 'buzz-to-enter' facility. No journalists were ever allowed in. They were politely informed that Doctor Jackson was away, or busy, or whatever they could come up with at the time. Jack and Paul never gave their own information away, holding fiercely onto their privacy. The last few weeks had been quiet, allowing Daniel to go running again, something he'd missed and something, he muttered to himself, he damned well needed. He'd never been so unfit.

An idea struck him as he drank down a bottle of mineral water from the fridge and he moved into the living room to discuss it with the guys. He could hear their voices, so knew they were in there.

"Hey, guys..." he started, then stopped.

In front of him were, as he'd known, Jack and Paul. However, they had company. A man, about Daniel's age, and a woman, old enough to be Daniel's mother, were sitting across the living room on one of the sofas. Jack and Paul were on the other one, backs up straight and not happy.

"Daniel," Paul said with a small smile. He stood up and turned his back on the visitors, allowing Daniel to see his face. His face spoke volumes to Daniel. He wasn't happy about the visitors; he was glad Daniel was back... and now he was getting annoyed because Daniel's current state of dress made him very horny. In shorts, sleeveless T-shirt and sneakers without socks, Daniel was covered also in sweat, rivulets of it running down his face from his long hair. He hadn't cut it in a year and it was now just the way it had been when the men had first met.

"Paul? Er..."

"Meet my mother and brother," Paul said evenly. Too evenly. "Elizabeth and Matthew Davis." Turning to face his family, he said, "Mother, Matthew, this is Doctor Daniel Jackson."

Daniel could see that Paul was wanting as much back-up as possible, and he cast a glance over to Jack, getting a surreptitious wink back from him. He fought down a grin. Jack was already on the case.

"I'd shake," Daniel said as Matthew made to stand up, "but I think I'd be a lot more polite if I quickly took a shower and got changed."

Beating a hasty retreat, he dived into the bathroom, stripped, nearly yelled when the water was too cold to start with, washed himself down and was out and dried in a matter of minutes. He wondered what he should put on, thought that the guys were in jeans and shirts, so he figured he'd do the same. As he ran a towel through his still wet hair, he realised he had his earring in. Shrugging to himself, he decided to leave it in. To hell with what Paul's mother might think of him.

The conversation in the living room was strained. Paul's mother had decided to come visit him as she was on the West Coast for a holiday with Matthew and his family. Besides, they had business to discuss.

Paul knew that if they hadn't had business to discuss, there was no way in hell he'd have seen them, even though they were in the same state. Not that that bothered him; he'd rarely gone to visit his mother when he lived in DC; at least not since his father had died. He and the old man had had a relationship that his mother couldn't even guess at. When his father had died of a heart attack ten years earlier, it had signalled Paul's freedom in a way he couldn't describe. He was devastated by his father's death, but his father had been the only thing tying him to his family, so with the death came liberation.

"Paul, we really must discuss family business," Matthew insisted, just as Daniel entered the living room and sat on the other side of Paul to Jack.

"Sure. Go on," Paul encouraged.

Matthew looked from Jack to Daniel and then back to Paul as if to tell him to get rid of them. Daniel nudged Paul to say 'tell him'. With a sigh, Paul did.

"You can say whatever you need to in front of Jack and Daniel. They are family - at least to me. Whatever you say they'll hear about anyway, so you may as well save me the breath and tell us all."

His mother virtually growled.

"You may well be friends with these people, but they are not your family."

"They are," Paul interrupted. "Legally, as well as by my choice. Daniel and Jack are my legal next-of-kin. They are also my medical contacts and my sole heirs should it come to that."

The shock of Paul's statement started to register on his mother's and brother's faces, but he continued. "Jack and I are the same for Daniel. Things are slightly different between us and Jack, but that's only because he has family he's in close contact with. For most legal issues, Daniel and I are his next-of-kin. So as I said, they are my family, and as such, if you have anything to say to me, you can say it in front of them."

"This is ridiculous! Why didn't you discuss this with me, first?" his mother demanded.

"When have you contacted me?" he asked slyly. "In the Christmas card you send me with your name printed on it? In the birthday phone calls you never bother to make?"

"You could call me!" she complained, completely missing Paul's point.

"Why would I? You have nothing to do with me, and I'm your son. Not that that has ever meant anything to you."

"What is that supposed to mean?"

Both Daniel and Jack noticed that Paul's body was starting to shake with anger and upset; years of neglect from his mother finally surfacing. Cautiously, they both moved closer to him, Jack sliding his arm around Paul's back, Daniel now defiantly taking Paul's hand in his and holding it tightly.

"Being passed over to a nanny the moment I was born..." Paul started. "Only being brought in to see you at certain times of the day. Having to be dressed 'just so' when I did get to see you. Having to behave in a similar manner. I don't ever remember you holding me," he whispered harshly. "I don't remember laughing with you. Nothing you have ever done or said to me has made me feel wanted or loved." He looked at his brother and laughed without humour. "You got your heir," he spat. "I was just the spare. Unwanted. A 'just in case' child. If it hadn't been for Father, I probably wouldn't have bothered to see you at all from the moment I joined up. Why do you think I did join the Air Force? That gave me more of a family than you ever did."

"You couldn't even stick that out," she snapped back.

"I was there longer than I was with you," he answered evenly. "And I left out of choice, to move on and find a new direction. I've found it. I've found the family I want to spend the rest of my life with. You aren't going to spoil that."

His mother stood up.

"Then you will be cut out of my will. And the endowment from your father's will, which has matured, and of which I have control, will no longer be split between you and your brother. He will get it all."

"I don't think so."

Paul's voice suddenly went very quiet and got everyone's attention.

"You have no say in the matter. When I leave this place, I will be disowning you. Legally."

"And I will let the world know just how close I was to Father. And 'Uncle Roy'."

Daniel and Jack cast odd glances at each other and gave small shrugs. Neither had heard this particular story.

His mother sat back down.

"What do you mean?" she hissed.

"Oh please, Mother. You don't think that I didn't know about Father and Roy? Best friends, my ass." His voice had changed. No longer icy, his lovers heard a distinct bitchy sneer in it and settled back for some entertainment. When Paul let loose his inner bitch, fur and feathers often flew.

Paul stood up and headed for the drinks cabinet, poured himself a whisky and cradled the glass for a moment. He took a sip, slyly winking at the men over the top of the glass.

"I suppose you have no idea what I'm talking about, do you, Matthew?"

"No, I don't. What the hell are you talking about?"

"You may well have been the one that was close to Mother, but, if you recall, Father and I were close, too. I learned a lot from the old man."

Daniel watched as the colour started to drain from Elizabeth's face. He found it amusing.

"Father - or as I called him when we were alone, 'Dad' - was gay, Matt. Mother knew this. She didn't want a man bothering her more than necessary, so allowing Dad his 'friend' was one way of getting what she wanted. A man who was rich, had a good social position and wouldn't want her to put out. Dad gritted his teeth and did the necessary so you and I could turn up, but that was it."

"Don't be ridiculous," Matthew started.

"Oh for Pete's sake, Matt. Look at her and then tell me I'm making this up. I used to go fishing with Dad, remember? Can you ever remember us bringing anything home? That was because the only catch Dad ever made was Roy. I used to see them in bed together."

"But men share if there isn't enough room, that doesn't mean anything," Matthew whined.

"In a three-bedroomed cabin? Please, Matt, stop being so damned na´ve. Besides, I have more proof if you want it. Visual proof."

He looked directly at his mother and all remaining colour left her.

"What do you mean?" she demanded.

"Remember Dad's cine camera?" he asked innocently. "And, when they came out, the new video camera? You see, Dad knew that when you decided it was time to cut me out, I'd need some back-up."

"Paul? You knew this would happen?" Daniel asked quietly.

"Of course I did," he shrugged. "So did Dad. So he made me take film of him and Roy. Some of it innocent - at least when I was young, that was. But by the time I was old enough... let's just say I know where I get my voyeuristic tendencies from."

"Paul?" Matthew called to him, wanting to know just what Paul was talking about.

"I filmed them in bed together, Matt. If you want, you can see a porno film featuring your dear old dad. Funny thing is, he insisted on having a picture of Mother by the side of the bed. He said it made him last longer."

Jack snorted, quickly fighting down on his urge to burst out laughing. Daniel nudged him in the ribs.

"How old were you?" Daniel asked quietly.

"At that point, I was fourteen, fifteen... something like that." Quickly, his head snapped around and he added, "He asked, Daniel. Never forced. Never. You have to believe that. Dad never hurt me, not once. He kept me sane."

His hazel-green eyes implored Daniel to believe him. It was true. Never once had William Davis ever hurt his son. He'd only loved him - been the only one to love him. Daniel nodded slowly, wanting to believe Paul, but his own past coloured his view. A silent communication passed between them, that Paul would explain more later.

"I'm sure Mother doesn't want her private life plastered across the front pages," Paul said smoothly. "So I don't think that Dad's will will be altered. Because I can assure you, if you try anything, I will contest it. Publicly. Not only will it get out that Dad was gay, it will get out that I am, too, and that I'm living with not one, but two men."

He sat back down in-between his lovers and took their hands in his. They felt him still shaking a little and held onto him tightly.

"It's not the money," he said quietly. "It's the principle. Dad wanted me to have my share. I don't know how much it is, and I don't particularly care. I will want to see the paperwork to prove that Dad's wishes have been carried out, however. I don't need the money, it's irrelevant. I have a lovely home, I have a job, I don't need to work, either, so don't think that I'm in that particular state. Come September, I will be going back to college part-time to finish my bar exams. Not because I have to, but because I want to. Unlike Matthew, though, I will be a civil rights lawyer, fighting for what is right. Not what is the most profitable."

"How could you afford that?" his mother sneered. "I know what job you are doing. It's hardly well paid."

"Frankly, that's none of your business. But I have plenty of savings," he shrugged.

"He has no need of them," Daniel put in. "Jack and I have more than enough individually to take care of all three of us for the rest of our lives. We'll see him through college, no matter what. He doesn't need you or your money."

"This has nothing to do with you," she spat.

"It has everything to do with him," Paul spat back. "Unlike you, I've chosen my partners for life out of love. Something you know nothing about."

"How dare you!"

"Simple," he replied quietly. "I know you. The only things you love are money and status. I have news for you, Matthew. If you'd been a girl, her attitude to you would have been very different." He straightened his back and stated, "You may cut me out of your will. I have no interest in what you would leave anyway. I don't want anything from you. Why change the habit of a lifetime?" he added with a sneer. "But I will have what Dad left me. I loved him, he loved me. If I don't, your social standing will hit rock bottom before you know what's hit you and you'll spend the rest of your life outside the clique you've so happily ensconced yourself in."

Bitterly, Elizabeth drew an envelope out of her bag and gave it to Matthew. He opened it, took some papers out and stood up. Paul copied his actions, taking a step to the middle of the room and letting Matthew come to him. He took the proffered papers and read them quickly. Swallowing down his surprise at them, he got to a point where he had to sign. He took the papers to the coffee table and picked up a pen from on top of the newspaper where it had been left when Jack had finished his crossword. Signing it, he turned to the men.

"Could you witness this, please?" he asked.

"Of course."

Without reading it, Daniel and Jack took it in turns to sign. They trusted his legal training to guide them that they were doing the right thing.

"Matthew?" he said, standing up and handing the papers back to him.

"I'll just..." Matthew said, reaching into his pocket. A few moments later, he was writing a cheque and signing it. All of the money was going into his account and he was giving precisely half of it to his brother. Something told him that if he didn't get this just right, Paul, the quiet one of the family, would suddenly become the noisy one and that his own career would suddenly go down the toilet. If Paul launched a campaign to smear the family name, the family firm of lawyers would lose business quickly. It was in his financial interests to hand over the money. Paul didn't look at the cheque when he took it, he just folded it and put it in his pocket.

"I think I should take us all on vacation when the cheque clears," Paul said over dinner.

His mother and brother had gone, and though he knew that it was probably the last time he'd ever see them, he wasn't sad. If anything, he was relieved. As soon as they were out of sight, he'd grabbed his jacket and headed into town, paying the cheque into his bank, then he'd returned home. Nothing more had been said about it until Paul mentioned it over dinner, neither of the other men knowing quite what to say.

"You don't have to, Paul. Save the money for a rainy day," Daniel countered.

"You have no idea how much it is, do you?" Paul teased, taking a sip of a glass of wine.

"No, it's none of our business," Jack answered.

"I thought we were family," Paul said quietly.

"Of course we are," Daniel said quickly. "Of course we are. It just... the amount doesn't mean anything to us, babe. All we are is glad that you've got what your father wanted you to have. We don't need any extra money for the home, or holidays or anything like that. Like you said to your mother, it's the principle of the thing. I don't care if it's a dollar or a hundred thousand dollars. It's what's yours. We'll celebrate with you, and for you, but it's not as if we love you for your inheritance."

Paul ducked his head, getting what Daniel was saying. He wanted to share everything with them, though, and was getting a little frustrated that they were fighting down their curiosity.

"I'll bite," Jack finally said with a grin. "Enlighten me."

Looking a bit happier, Paul pulled out the receipt for the cheque and handed it to him.

"Holy shit!" Jack exclaimed, passing it to Daniel.

"Fuck. That's... that's... a lot of money, Paul."

"So, can I take you guys on vacation?"

"Uh, yeah. I think we can allow that. Don't you, Jack?"

"As long as it's not camping," Jack said with a chuckle. "It plays hell with my back."

Paul laughed out loud and put the receipt back in his pocket. The receipt for over $5,000,000.

"Not even camping on a Hawaiian island?" he teased.

Jack waved his head from one side to another and said, "If you'll blow up an air bed, I guess I could manage it."

"We can check out holidays on the Internet if you like," Paul said to the others. "Maybe we can find somewhere we'll all like."

"Sounds good to me," Daniel replied. "What about you, Jack?"

"Sounds wonderful. I must admit to being in shock, though. I had no idea you'd get this."

"Me neither," Paul shrugged. "I mean, I knew I'd get my half of the endowment. Dad put it in his will. There were some shares and stocks and things. To be frank, when they read the will I was still in shock from his death, so I didn't really pay a great deal of attention to the lawyer who was reading it out. I just heard that in ten years, a particular investment he'd made on our behalves would mature. If I'm honest, I'd admit to forgetting about it pretty quickly. I never needed the money; after all, it was only me at home - a home which a twenty-first birthday gift from Dad had paid for outright - and my Air Force pay was good. I spent a lot of time overseas, so I got more money there. When I was posted outside DC, I lived on base whenever possible so my expenses were minimal and I rented out my apartment and got extra cash that way. It might have been different if I'd been married and with a family, but that was never an issue. I was really surprised when Mother and Matthew turned up today."

His voice had dropped as he said the last few sentences, and the others picked up on that. Dinner finished, Daniel cleared the plates into the dishwasher and then took Paul by the hand and led him to the living room. Sitting him on the sofa, he poured him another glass of wine and said, "Paul, talk. Tell us about your father. You've never really spoken of him."

Daniel sat next to him and wrapped his arm around Paul's back, Jack sitting next to them.

"I guess I had a strange childhood. You heard what I said about Mother. That pretty much covers me and her. But Dad... I guess he knew I was like him, and not just in the way you think. He had no time for the monied set, either; an opinion which I'd developed separately by the time I was about five, I think," he added a touch wryly.

He lay back against the sofa and felt his glass taken out of his hand. Next thing he knew, he was lying against Daniel's chest, his feet up on the sofa, with Jack stroking his legs.

Smiling, he said, "Uncle Roy wasn't my real uncle, of course. He was my dad's business partner - another corporate lawyer. They were together, as lovers, for over thirty years in total," he added quietly. "Roy was like Dad. Unhappily married. So many guys had to do that back then. They couldn't just stay single." He laughed hollowly. "They say there's no class system in this country, but it's not true. At least, people in my parents' circle believed they were the equivalent of the upper classes back in Europe. Most of them were descendants from families like that. Very few of their friends couldn't name at least one titled ancestor.

"If Dad hadn't married, rumours would have circulated about him, and back then, that would have ruined him before he'd even gotten started. He inherited his father's own business, and with it, a very traditional clientele. Which is why Matthew's so scared of my 'sordid little secret' coming out. His clients are the children of the very same people. Roy and Dad grew up together, really. Roy's father was my grandfather's partner. His eldest son is Matthew's partner, Matthew married Roy's daughter. It's the fourth generation of the family to run the firm. I should be proud of that, I guess, but it doesn't mean anything to me."

"Don't see why it should," Jack shrugged. "Tradition's a good thing, but nothing should be forced on you. My dad was a cop, and a damned good one. If I'd followed him, I'd have done the best I could to live up to his reputation, but I can tell you, he was every bit as proud that I joined the Air Force. You should have seen him when I graduated from the Academy. I thought he was going to burst."

The others smiled at him, enjoying Jack's memories.

"Dad didn't want me to follow him," Paul said. "He told me it would make me miserable. I can remember that chat as if it was yesterday."

Don't do it, son. You need to follow your heart. Find something that interests you.

I want to join the Air Force, Dad. I hope that's okay with you.

If you're sure, Paul. But you know you'll have to keep quiet about yourself.

I know. Maybe the law will change, eh?

Maybe you can get it changed.

"I didn't get it changed," he muttered, then pulled himself up again. "When I was about eight, he took me to a fisherman's cabin he owned up in New England. Roy was with him. I was so young, I didn't think anything of him sharing a bed with Roy. I had my own room, they had theirs, and during the day, the three of us played. It was magical. The scenery was beautiful, the weather was perfect... we didn't fish, but we did swim and play on the beach. Thinking back, Dad and Roy touched a lot. I didn't make anything of it, though. I was just happy."

He took a sip of his wine, smiling again as he remembered that time.

"I used to really look forward to those holidays. Dad would take me so that I could get some idea of what it was like to be a real kid. He and Roy would take me to visit different places and we'd eat out - we'd eat things I wasn't allowed at home. Junk food, for example. I could drink coke. It was a relief. Truly a relief. Sounds dumb, eh? That I could get so worked up by a Mac and cheese and a diet coke."

The others laughed kindly and shook their heads.

"Nah," Jack answered. "Kids shouldn't get them every week. Things like that should be treats. Maybe not as infrequently as you got them, but if today's kids got less of them, less of the sweets and stuff, they'd appreciate what they do get more. Just like you did."

That earned Jack a smile from Paul and a look of understanding from Daniel, who felt the same way.

"How often did you vacation?" Daniel prompted gently, trying to get the subject back on track.

"Most of the major holidays. Whenever I got home from school."

Both Jack and Daniel knew that Paul had been to boarding school, so that wasn't a shock.

"We'd go every summer, Easter too. Christmas holidays were spent at home, or with Mother and Matthew. They would go to Europe every summer with Roy's wife and children. Dad and I didn't want to go. We enjoyed doing what we did."

"Didn't anyone think it was funny?" Jack asked. "I mean, you not going on vacation with your mother?"

"If they did, they didn't say anything. Everyone knew that Dad and Roy had been friends all their lives. No one read anything into it. Mother didn't want me around, so as none of us were kicking up a fuss, no one questioned the motives. I wouldn't mind betting that Mother and Roy's wife were sleeping together," he added with a laugh.

"When did you find out about your father?" Daniel asked.

"Uh, when I was eleven, I think. I walked in on them in the bedroom and they were kissing. I was a bit shocked, but somehow, everything fit. Roy was about to freak, but Dad put his hand on him to calm him down. They asked me to wait for them in the kitchen and a few minutes later they joined me. Dad explained everything - in terms a pretty na´ve eleven year-old would understand, anyway. Told me that they loved each other, and that they'd been forced to marry and so on. Told me what would happen if their secret got out. Then Dad asked me if I would tell. He didn't ask me to keep quiet, he just asked if I would say anything. He trusted me to say 'no', Daniel."

"What did you say to him?"

"What could I say? I walked around the table and gave him a hug, then I gave Roy one. Then I sat back down. I remember smiling and winking at them. They knew what I wasn't saying. They made me happy. Why would I do anything to hurt them?"

The men remained silent for a while, finishing their drinks. Then Paul stood up and said, "Uh, I think I want to go lie down. Maybe have an early night. You guys want to join me?"

"How could I turn down an invitation like that?" Jack teased. He put his hand out and Paul caught it. "Here, give an old man a hand up," he said.

Paul pulled him up and staggered back as Jack literally landed on him. They stood, laughing, for a few moments, holding each other tightly.

"Wish I'd met your dad," Jack whispered. "Sounds like a nice guy."

"He was," Paul agreed. "He was also a hard-nosed bastard at work. He wasn't inclined to lose his cases."

Daniel stood up and dropped a kiss on Paul's nose. "Seems like there's more than one thing you take after him for then. C'mon, let's go to bed. I want to hear more about him and this Roy."

A few minutes later, they were stripped, scrubbed up and in bed. For once, Paul was in the middle, lying on his back with the others lying on their sides and looking at him.

"So, tell me about the filming, Paul. Are you sure you weren't pushed into anything?"

"Promise, Daniel. Look, when I was nearly fourteen, I realised I was gay. I'd tried going after girls, like my friends at school - er, it was a mixed school - but they left me absolutely stone cold. I didn't want to be gay. I knew from Dad's own story that it would make life difficult for me. I didn't want to be forced into a marriage with some woman chosen for me just because it looked good. I would have preferred to have been straight and able to leave home and choose for myself. So I fought it for a while, but my hormones had kicked in and I was noticing guys not gals. In the end, I had to accept it. The next vacation, I told them about my revelation. Dad was horrified for me. He was scared, I guess. Didn't want me to go through what he had. In the end, he calmed down, and between him and Roy, they explained a lot. Answered all my questions without fudging anything. By the end of that vacation, I was a lot happier about being what I am. The next vacation was the summer one. We had longer together. By that time, they were happy at being themselves in front of me - had been for a few years. I'd see them kissing, getting turned on, and for the first time, it did the same to me. I would sneak back into my room and jerk off. I'd feel guilty. I mean, this was my father, and I really didn't want to do anything with him."

At a look from Jack which questioned his words, Paul added, "Trust me, Jack. This isn't going to turn into one of those bad porn stories with a 'daddy showing his boy what to do'."

The others laughed. All too often that had turned up in fiction and film and drove them all mad.

"Dad never once laid a finger on me, I promise. Not in anger or like... that. But the cabin was his and Roy's escape. It was where they got to be themselves. The older I got, the more they let me see. I think that Dad would rather I learned that two guys could love each other than see bad porn to learn any lessons. They showed me that I didn't have to have anonymous fucks in dark and dingy alleyways.

"The next year, I was back with them. Their bedroom door was open and they were making love on top of the bed. Both were naked. I watched them. I couldn't help but watch them. After a while, Dad saw me and I ran. A bit later, he joined me on the beach and told me that it was okay, I didn't have to run. It was better I learned what to do somewhere safe than to have some stranger take advantage of me. I saw his point. Then he and I discussed my mother. He guessed she'd find out about me at some point and that she'd try to hurt me, most likely to get back at him. So he asked that I film him and Roy together. I suppose some of that was him wanting to show off - a bit like we do now. But he was very politically astute and I wouldn't put it past him to do this just to protect me in the future. He wouldn't let me answer straight away, told me to think about it. I did, and eventually, I said 'yes'. I wanted to. I needed to see them together.

"I'd always filmed them messing about together on the beach, and later, when I'd found out about them, I'd filmed them holding hands and sometimes kissing. I think that was Dad preparing me for this - he was the sort of guy to think far ahead. So that night, I did."

He stopped speaking, remembering what he'd seen. Daniel moved until he was a lot closer, right next to him, his lips brushing over Paul's ear.

"Tell me," he ordered. "What did you see?"

Paul swallowed hard, the men noticing that he was erect already.

"I pretended that I didn't know them. It made it easier. In my mind I gave them different names, different personalities. I watched through the viewfinder. They kissed a lot, touched each other so lovingly. I got really hard just from that. Dad tipped Roy onto his back and started to kiss him all over. I think they forgot I was there. Eventually, Dad rolled Roy onto his side and I watched as he started to fuck... no, he made love to him. It was so gentle, so loving. I was shaking by the time they came, desperately needing to do the same, but I couldn't move, couldn't stop looking at them through the viewfinder. Roy looked at me and called me over. I did, still filming him. When I was close enough, he sat up and took the camera off me and put it down, then he slid his hand inside my shorts and jerked me a couple of times. That's all it took. My knees buckled and he caught me, holding me tight as I finished. When it was over, I said nothing, I just went straight to my room and lay on my bed. Dad came in and sat down next to me.

Roy just wanted to help. I don't want you thinking he's going to do anything you don't want him to.

No, I... Dad, nobody's ever touched me like that.

A bit embarrassed, eh?

Uh, yeah, I guess.

Don't be. Especially not after what you've seen. Are you okay? Are we okay?

"I sat up and hugged him. Of course we were okay. Then Dad dropped the, well, it wasn't quite a bombshell. He said that Roy would show me anything I wanted to know. He'd teach me anything I wanted to learn. He wouldn't approach me, he'd never make me do anything, but if I wanted to learn the ropes with someone I could trust, then Dad was okay with the idea and Roy was, too. I know this might sound strange now, but they both believed it was for the best. That I'd be safer this way. They knew that one day I'd go looking for sex and they figured that knowing how good it could be would show me that I didn't have to accept bad treatment."

The others were silent for a while, then Jack spoke.

"Part of me wants to tear those guys apart. It's like they were emotionally pressuring you to do something against your will. But they weren't, were they? They genuinely tried to make it easy for you."

"Yes, that's exactly it, Jack," Paul replied. "Nothing more happened that summer. I didn't want anything else. The next summer, I was coming up to sixteen, though. It was different. I was different."

"What happened?" Daniel asked quietly.

"Only what I asked for, Dan. I told them that I needed to learn everything. I couldn't face Dad watching me, though, don't ask why, I just couldn't. I think he was relieved. He'd have been there if I'd asked him to, to support me, I guess, but I didn't want him there. Roy, believe it or not, wasn't overly turned on by the prospect. He loved Dad, he wasn't into young boys - he certainly was no chicken hawk. He was doing this to help me. Back then, it wasn't easy to get information. There was no web from which to find 'how to' guides, and in our circle, even straight sex wasn't talked about. This was the only way I could learn without putting myself at risk of being found out. So he did it. Over that summer, I learned the basics. He was the first guy that blew me, the first guy I blew... He always made sure that I did things to him first, always made me top. Only when I knew what I was doing would he let me bottom."

"Did he... you know...?" Jack asked, surprisingly coyly.

"Fuck me? Yeah, he did. At the end of the vacation. I had to plead with him, believe it or not. Can't tell you how many guys would have jumped at the chance, but I had to beg him. I knew that the chances were I wouldn't be there the next summer. I was going to the Academy as soon as I could go, and I couldn't take that chance. I wanted to know everything before I went. I'm glad I did, it gave me more confidence."

Daniel flopped onto his back silently. He was obviously thinking this through. Paul twisted and lay on his side to look at him.

"Dan? What's wrong?"

"Wrong? Nothing. Nothing's wrong. I guess I'm a bit confused, that's all. You know how I feel about under-age sex. But most of the time, an older guy is taking advantage of the younger one. This time, it sounds like you were in control."

"I was. And hell, I was only a few months younger than you were when you met Fai."

"Fai didn't fuck me till I turned eighteen," Daniel insisted. "He wanted to wait until he thought I was ready. I needed to wait that long, especially after... well, you know."

"But you did other things. You fucked him, didn't you?" Paul pushed. "No, I wasn't in a loving relationship, but Roy did love me, Daniel. Genuinely. I'd never have trusted another guy the way I trusted him back then. If I'd thought he was doing this because he wanted to get off, I think I'd have run away. But you can believe me, he didn't think of it like that. It was his way of teaching me, keeping me safe. I feel the same way about hawks as you do, you know that. He wasn't one."

"What happened to Roy?" Jack asked suddenly.

"He committed suicide about six months after Dad died. He couldn't live without him, I guess. Of course, the whole thing was covered up. They said he'd had a bout of depression after losing his best friend, and it was compounded by some health issues. But he wasn't unhealthy and I know it. He and I were in contact and I knew how upset he was. He had no one else to turn to. No one to talk to. There would be no more holidays for him, no more being himself. He couldn't take any more."

"I'm sorry," Jack mumbled, hugging him close. "Truly."

"Don't be," Paul shrugged. "Sure, it's sad that he was pushed into that, but he'd have been a lot more miserable if he'd lived. If he'd been in our generation, things might not have been so bad, but in his generation and his section of society... well, he had nowhere else to go."

His voice told them that he'd mourned Roy deeply and had let go, so neither man pushed it.

"Are you okay?" Daniel suddenly asked. "I mean, after everything today?"

"You mean my mother and brother? Sure. I told you, Daniel, there's no love lost between us. Never has been. I'd have loved to have been friends with my brother, but that never happened. My mother doesn't love me and never has, and to be frank, I pretty much feel the same way about her. Only my dad meant anything to me. Besides, I've got you guys, haven't I? What more do I need?"

Daniel flipped back onto his side and grabbed Paul fiercely.

"Nothing," he said. "Not them, not any inheritance... nothing."

The next thing Paul knew was he was flat on his back and Daniel was kissing him as fiercely as he'd held him. More so, even. They were hard again in moments and Daniel ground his cock against Paul's, desperately trying to get off as soon as possible. Jack watched them with a smile on his face, his hand snaking to his own dick, jerking himself off as he watched them build up speed and pressure. He couldn't take his eyes off their faces. They'd broken the kiss, Paul's eyes were screwed shut, his head was tipped back and his mouth was open wide, panting for breath as Daniel pushed harder and harder against him. Daniel's eyes were wide open, unable to look away from Paul's face. His mouth copied Paul's, his breath coming in short gasps. Jack's hand moved faster, he wriggled a bit closer to Paul until he was lying completely along his body. He let go with his hand and transferred it to Daniel's ass, thrusting his hips against Paul's side and sliding his fingers until they found Daniel's asshole. He pushed two inside - dry, hard, he made Daniel shout out with shock. It finished him. Daniel started to come, his ass closing around Jack's fingers as he did. Paul felt the hot liquid splatter over his stomach and it triggered him off. He cried out, an incoherent noise as he came, feeling at the same time his leg warming as Jack came all over him.

They lay still for a while, catching their breath, then Daniel slid off Paul and reached for some wet wipes.

"There's one down side to that," he said with a grin. "It's messy."

The others started to laugh as he cleaned them up, then Paul said, "Guys. It's just sunk in. I'm a millionaire. We're millionaires."

"Think we should celebrate?" Jack asked, smiling broadly back at him.

"Absolutely. Champagne anyone?" Daniel suggested.

"Have we got any?"

"Um, one bottle. You know I like to have some in the house. I'll have to go shopping for some more tomorrow."

"Since when have you been a champagne drinker anyway?" Paul asked, trying to sit up.

"Since I met you guys," Daniel replied. "It's given me something to celebrate."

"I hate champagne hangovers," Paul moaned as he stumbled into the kitchen.

"Champagne, wine..." Daniel corrected, "um, you shouldn't have drunk the whisky beforehand. Mixing drinks isn't a good idea."

"Shut up," Paul whined, heading straight for the coffee pot.

"Love you, too," Daniel chuckled, standing behind him and pulling him into his arms. "You okay?"

"Apart from a pounding headache, I'm fine," Paul replied, snuggling back against Daniel. "A bit worried now, though."


"The money. I didn't want or need that amount of money, Daniel. It's too much. I have no idea what I'm going to do with it."

"Take your time. There's no rush," Daniel soothed. "It's yours to do with as you wish. My advice would be to make sure that you're secure, whether you work again or not. I mean, just in case something happens to Jack and me in the near future. Sure, you'd have this place and whatever we had, but I want you to make sure you'd be more than comfortable. After that... well, Jack and I don't need anything as you know. So, spend it as you will. If you want to give it to charity, then do that. But wait. Think it through. Talk to an accountant." He took a deep breath and then said, "In the meantime, take an aspirin and drink some coffee. Don't worry about it, okay?"


"Charity," Paul said, musing over his toast. The others looked at him in a 'go on' way and he elaborated. "Daniel said I could give some money to charity. I'm inclined to agree."

"Oh. Which ones?" Jack asked.

"SLDN, I guess. AIDS research... and the office," he added with a shrug. "God knows we need more money. I might be able to work for nothing. Then they could employ another counsellor."

"Sounds good," Daniel agreed. "The more help you get there the better."

He stood up and put his plate in the dishwasher, then leaned over Paul's shoulder and took a bite out of his toast.

"Hey! Get your own."

"I did. Hurry up, I've got plans for you," he replied with a grin, winking at Jack as he did.

With a groan, Paul quickly finished his toast and as he was about to stand up, he felt Daniel grab hold of his hands.

"You're thinking too much," Daniel said quietly. "I can see it in your eyes. You're worried. I can't allow that."

"Oh fuck," Paul moaned, but he didn't put up a fight.

Without another word, Daniel steered him to the stairs, turning to look at Jack and give him a wink.

"You can join us if you want, Jack," he said quietly. "Your choice."

"I'll just clear up here and be down," Jack replied with a grin. "I could go for some 'not thinking' time, too."

Daniel said nothing more, he just smiled wickedly and carried on down the steps.


Inside the playroom, Paul stood immobile - not because he was tied up, but because he was awaiting his instructions. Daniel was sitting on the jointed table and looking at him, as if he was trying to decide what to do.

"Strip," he finally said, waggling his finger in Paul's general direction. "Slowly."

Swallowing harshly, Paul pulled his T-shirt up and over his head, letting Daniel see more and more skin by inches. The stud he had in his navel appeared first, then, a few seconds later, his chest, the nipple ring glistening in the soft light. When he got to the stage that his arms were up and the shirt was covering his head, Daniel said, "Stop. Stay where you are for a moment."

He froze, wondering what Daniel had in mind. He soon found out when he felt his nipple ring being tugged by Daniel's tongue, followed by a trail being licked down until his stud was between Daniel's lips. Daniel stayed there for a few minutes, licking, tugging... generally winding Paul up until he let loose an involuntary moan.

The attentions stopped and he heard Daniel say, "Carry on."

By the time the shirt was off and he could see again, Daniel was back on the table, watching him, an amused look on his face.

Feeling a little cross that Daniel was almost laughing at him, he took his time undoing his flies, making sure that he was teasing Daniel as much as possible. Nothing was being said - Daniel was already having to control himself at Paul's tease, reminding himself that he'd given the order to strip like this. To get his own back, he undid his own flies and started to stroke his cock as if to say 'go too far and you'll make me come too soon'. It didn't take too long for Paul to get his jeans off and stand naked in the room.

"I think I want access to all of you," Daniel said thoughtfully, reaching for Paul's wrist bands on the shelf.

Paul knew what was going to happen. There was a panic hook in the middle of the ceiling and Daniel was going back to the older style of play - at least as far as tying him up was concerned. He put his hands out wordlessly, his dick betraying him as it jerked when he felt the bands being done up tightly. It jumped again when they were attached together and again when the rope was run through it.

Daniel kicked a small stool out from under the table and stood on it, and a few moments later, Paul's hands were raised and the rope was attached to the hook.

"Do I want you to know what's coming?" Daniel murmured, obviously to himself.

Paul said nothing, but waited to see what he decided. Whatever it was, he'd have no say in the matter and he knew it. Not that he cared. He was more upset by the events of the previous day than he'd admitted, and he knew that Daniel had guessed. Shutting his mind down would be good for him.

He shut his eyes and waited and soon felt the blindfold covering his eyes. Daniel said nothing to him, just reading his body language told him that Paul was happy.

As soon as he was satisfied that Paul was ready, he moved to the shelf and took down the paddle.


Jack was just about to make his way to the stairs when he heard the buzzer to the gate. Cursing under his breath, he pressed the button and asked who was there. His heart sank when he heard the voice on the other end of the line. Wondering if he was doing the right thing, he let the visitor in.


Paul gasped when he felt the paddle slam down on him yet again. The only thing on his mind was the stinging of his ass. It was hot, throbbing and he was glad when Daniel stopped for a while and smoothed his hand over the red skin. He gasped again when he felt Daniel kissing the back of his neck softly, in direct comparison to the strength of the spanking he'd just got.

"Do you want more?" Daniel whispered.


The floor covering and Daniel's bare feet allowed no sound when Daniel walked and Paul had no idea where he was. He didn't need the blindfold, his eyes were tight shut and his head was tipped back. A crack of the leather cat on his shoulder made his head jerk up and drop forward, allowing Daniel more access to his shoulders. The many tails of the whip gave him multiple places to focus on. He knew he wouldn't get many strokes of this, that Daniel couldn't use it often, so he concentrated hard on it, enjoying the sting as it came. He could picture Daniel in his mind, how he looked. He'd seen Daniel do the same thing to Jack and it was so easy to imagine it. His cock leaked freely, but somehow, he wasn't struggling to keep under control, as if being held in this state was so natural to him that it was no longer an effort.


Jack scowled as he opened the door and stepped back to let Matthew in.

"What do you want?" he growled.

"I need to speak to Paul," came the even reply.

"He's busy. You'll have to wait."

Turning on his heel, he stalked into the living room, expecting the other man to follow him without an invitation. Jack didn't like him. Didn't like the way that he hadn't stood up for his brother against his mother. Didn't like the way that money and status meant more to them than their own flesh and blood. Jack knew that the fact that Paul was gay wasn't even a factor in Matthew's attitude towards him, that Paul had been more or less ignored throughout his childhood. Though he couldn't help but wonder if the revelation had made things better or worse. His mother and brother had barely reacted when they'd arrived the previous day and found Jack with Paul. Paul had introduced him as his partner and his mother had looked at Jack as if he was something the cat had dragged in, but apart from that, she'd said nothing.

"What is he doing?"

Matthew's voice broke through Jack's thoughts. Jack smiled a nasty smile as he replied.

"Playing," he drawled.

"Playing? Then why can he not be disturbed?"

Jack sat on the sofa and waved his hand to indicate that Matthew should sit. When he had, Jack said, "It's a game of concentration. Daniel won't be happy if I take Paul away until it's finished."

"How long will they be?" Matthew sighed impatiently.

"Who knows?" Jack shrugged. "Sometimes they don't take long. Other times they take hours."

"HOURS? I don't have that long."

Jack looked at him for a moment, then said, "I'll go see what's going on."

His voice told Matthew that he was going alone. Slowly, he strolled towards the kitchen and took his time as he went down the stairs. He hung around at the door and watched the men for a while, his hand automatically going to his groin when he saw Daniel drop to his knees behind Paul and start to fuck him with his tongue.

Daniel's hands roamed over Paul's ass, pulling the cheeks apart to allow him better access. Paul was gasping and crying out, begging Daniel to let him come.

When Daniel pulled back, his face covered in a big smile, Jack said, "Guys, you might want to wind this up. We've got company."

Daniel ignored him - or appeared to. He covered his dick with lube and thrust inside Paul in one stroke, earning himself a "YES!" from his lover. Hands on Paul's hips, he started to move, pumping hard and lifting Paul every time he got all the way in.

"Jack," he panted. "Come here."

Jack knew what he wanted and moved in front of Paul, taking their lover's cock in his hand and squeezing gently. As Paul moved, he fucked Jack's hand, smiling when he felt Jack's own cock next to his, and Jack's other hand joining the first. Their visitor was forgotten as the speed picked up, the strength increased. Paul moaned, needing to come, urging the others to come with him. Daniel laid into him, as hard as he could. Paul's body bounced against Jack's almost violently, but Jack stayed rock steady, pushing back against him. That was enough and Paul started to come, taking the others with him.

They didn't notice the shocked face of Matthew Davis as he stood at the door, watching them.

Daniel pulled out of Paul, grabbed a cloth that he'd placed on one side and wiped himself down, then did up his flies again. He handed the cloth to Jack, then, after undoing the blindfold, stood on the stool to release Paul, catching him as his jelly-like legs gave out on him. All three men weren't with it, focussed solely on each other.

Matthew watched as Daniel lifted Paul and placed him on the table, then Jack as he cleaned Paul up. The men redressed Paul and Daniel wrapped his arms around him and held him close. That was when he noticed the still stunned Matthew.

"Jack? Did you invite our... visitor down here?" Daniel asked dangerously quietly, his choice of word to describe Matthew speaking volumes. He was no guest.

"I didn't," Jack said simply. "I said I'd get you."

"You were taking a long time," Matthew complained. "Now I see why." His tone was sneering and it was clear he wasn't impressed with what he'd seen.

"It's none of your business," Paul said, surprisingly calmly. "What the fuck are you doing here anyway?"

"I wanted to talk some sense into you. Seems it's not a moment too soon."

Jack saw Daniel's body language tense and spoke before Daniel could say anything.

"What do you mean?" he growled.

"He's obviously been... brainwashed or something. Look at him!"

Jack laughed out loud at those words. Paul was still floppy in Daniel's arms, still unable to support himself. However, he tilted his head up and said, "We should go upstairs," to Daniel.

Daniel nodded, slid off the table and scooped Paul up in his arms, carrying him out of the room and pushing Matthew out of his way. Paul could have walked, but Daniel wanted to show Matthew that he was taking care of his brother - a lot better than he had been as a child.

"You have no idea what you've just let yourself in for," Jack muttered to Matthew as he, too, brushed past him.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

Jack stopped walking and turned. "You may be a well-connected, high-powered lawyer, Davis, but you've picked the wrong guys to piss off this time. This is one battle you will not win. Do yourself a favour and fuck off now before you get hurt."

"Are you threatening me?"

Jack laughed. "You've got to be kidding me. You're not worth threatening."

Matthew walked into the living room and saw that Daniel was sat on the sofa, Paul kneeling astride him, his head on Daniel's shoulder. Even though Paul had his T-shirt on, he saw the red stripes down the back of his arms.

"What have you done to him?" he growled at Daniel.

"Given him what he wanted," Daniel replied quietly, stroking Paul's hair and dropping a kiss on his head.

"Don't be ridiculous. You've talked him into that... perversion."

Paul started giggling, surprising Matthew, but not the others.

"Hey," he said goofily to Daniel. "We're perverts! I always wanted to be one of those."

Jack and Daniel laughed out loud when he said that, Jack deciding to get in on the 'comfort action' as he did. He put his hands out to Paul and pulled him onto his lap, taking his turn at stroking and kissing him.

"Well, would'ja believe it?" Jack teased. "I always wanted to be one, too."

"I'm being serious!" Matthew interjected as they laughed in his direction.

"So're we," Jack snapped back. "And who are you to say what is good for Paul? You have no idea what's brought us to this point, what's brought us together."

"It's obvious. You and him," he pointed at Daniel, "somehow persuaded him to give up a successful and promising career and enter this so-called relationship. What were you after? His money?"

He was greeted with three stunned faces at that accusation.

"What'll it cost to get him away from you?" he pushed.

"Excuse me?" Daniel was too shocked to be angry at that moment.

"Everyone has their price. How much?"

"What the FUCK are you talking about?" Jack demanded.

Paul slid off Jack's lap and stood up, shaking in anger. The others made to stand up, but he put his hands out to stop them.

"Get out," he said quietly. "Get out now and never come back."

"For heaven's sake, Paul. They've obviously got some hold over you. What is it? Blackmail?"

"Shut the fuck up," Paul growled. "You have no fucking idea about us." He stopped when Daniel put his hand up and took Paul's in his. "Dan?"

"Explain it, pet," he said nearly silently. "Let him know the truth. It's up to him if he believes it or not."

Before Paul could say anything, though, Daniel said more loudly, "Paul is free to leave at any time he so chooses. We have an agreement. I will never send him away. He can walk. I'm not going to explain the whys and wherefores of this, but that's a fact. It's a contract. I'm sure you of all people understand that. And as for money," he spat, "that suggestion is so far beneath me that I'm not even going to dignify it with an answer."

"You might not," Jack snarled, "but I will. A quick FYI - we don't have a price. The only thing we want is Paul. You could offer the entire contents of your bank, your firm's bank and your firm's clients' banks, and it wouldn't be enough. There isn't enough money on the planet to compensate for losing him. I know you'll find that a hard concept, but it's a fact. And if you try to take Paul away from us, I'll kill you. Daniel might have a contract with him, but I don't. He's mine. He's ours. He never was yours."

Daniel reached over and took Jack's hand in his, holding it tight to calm him down. He knew that Jack loved Paul, but the fervour in his voice was almost unexpected. Paul turned and knelt in front of Jack, taking his face in his hands and pulling him for a kiss.

"I'm not going anywhere," he whispered.

"I know. Just make sure he believes that."

Paul motioned for the guys to separate a bit and he sat in-between them on the sofa. Both men put their nearest arm around him, their other hands reaching over and taking hold of Paul's. Feeling secure, Paul spoke.

"I'm not going to go into great detail," he started. "Just give you some facts. Daniel and I were together first. Jack joined us two years later. Daniel asked my permission to bring him into the relationship and I agreed. I could have said 'no' and there would have been nothing more said on the subject. Believe that or not, it's up to you. I'm speaking the truth."

Matthew said nothing, he just waited for Paul to continue.

"As for the... dynamics of our relationship, it really is none of your business. Suffice it to say, no one makes me do a damned thing I don't want them to do. Not you, not these two, and certainly not Mother. I'm sure she is the reason you're here, you don't exactly have the imagination to think you could change my mind.

"Now, when it comes to money," he spat, his distaste at mentioning the subject as apparent as was the other men's, "I have no desire for more than I had when I woke up yesterday morning. Jack is wealthy enough to take care of the three of us just from his pension and his current earnings. Daniel is even better off - I don't know what's in his bank account but I am aware of what he earns, and it was more than I was earning as a major in the Air Force. I'm sure that as his book is on the best-seller list, he's even more comfortable than he was before. I don't know, it's irrelevant. We're fortunate that money isn't a worry to us and it's not something we discuss. The only reason I was insistent on getting what Dad left me was the principle, just as I said yesterday. I had no idea what was there - it could have been a dollar for all I knew. But if he'd left me fifty cents, then that would have been accepted gratefully, as it would have been what he had wanted and what he had left me. I know that's hard for you to believe, but not everyone is as obsessed with the size of their bank account as you are.

"Some more facts. I chose to leave the Air Force before mentioning it to them. They decided they'd leave independently of me. I'd already gotten myself a new job when we were sent on what was to be our final mission. Don't ask the details, you won't hear them."

"Why not?" Matthew growled.

"Ever heard of the word 'classified'?" Jack snapped. Then he grinned. "Of course, we could tell you. But then I'd have to shoot you."

Matthew snorted in disbelief, then he bought a clue when he saw the others' faces.

"I'm not kidding," Jack said evenly. All of a sudden, Matthew believed him.

"All you have to know is that we're all here out of choice," Paul said. "Nothing you can do or say will take me from them. Nothing you can do or say will take them from me. Now, I think you should leave. As far as I'm concerned, I never want to see you or Mother again as long as I live. I'm happy as I am. You never wanted me around when I was a kid, so why you think you want me around now is beyond me."

"That's not true!" Matthew broke in.

"Of course it's true. Even when I came home from boarding school, you barely spoke to me. You didn't go to boarding school. Mother wanted you around so she could influence you, could keep an eye on you. She didn't want to set eyes on me, and you copied her actions."

"I had no choice," came the reply, a lot more quietly.

"You had every choice," Paul snarled. "Every choice in the world. You could have spoken to me. You could have spent time with me during the holidays. You could have come to the cabin with Dad and me, but you didn't."

"But Mother would have cut me off!" he whined.

Paul smiled sadly. "And you made your choice. Money and position were too important to you, even as a child, Matthew. I meant nothing to you. I still don't. Quite frankly, you don't mean anything to me, either. I learned early on not to think of you or her. It hurt a lot less to live like that than to live in hope. I learned that love and attention meant more to me than anything else. I get more of that here than I've ever had in my life. I don't know what you saw downstairs, but whatever you think was going on, I'm sure you got the wrong end of the stick. Daniel and Jack concentrate on my needs. They make me happy. They think of me long before they think of themselves. I know you might not believe that, but it's God's honest truth." His shoulders dropped and he sagged against the others as he finished. "Now, please. Go."

Matthew didn't move, he looked afraid.

"What, did your mother threaten you?" Jack sneered. "Bring him back or she'll what? Cut you out of her will?"

There was no answer.

"Asked and answered," Jack spat. "You are pathetic. I've never met anyone more shallow than you. Let me make something clear to you. Paul is ex-special operations. I am ex-special operations. Daniel's just plain nasty when he's pissed off," he added with a grin. "You get out of Paul's life, you stay out of Paul's life, or else you'll spend the rest of your life looking over your shoulder. I can find out things about you; your secrets, your little habits... just how much you're screwing out of your clients..." he said, surreptitiously tilting his head and winking at the others. "I have friends in the CIA. Daniel works for the Pentagon, in an indirect sort of way, but they don't like their employees being harassed. They would certainly take great exception to him being threatened by an amateur like you. I... we can ruin you, and we won't hesitate to do so if you start to hurt Paul any more than you already have. Take Paul's advice and run with it. Get out, Davis, and don't come back. Nothing your mother could do to you would be worse than what we could do."

"But..." Matthew whispered. "I wanted to know..."

Daniel suddenly understood that despite having been sent there by his mother, Matthew had come wanting to discover something out for himself.

"What?" he pushed.

Looking directly at Paul, he asked, "Father? What you said yesterday. Is that true?"

"Every word," Paul replied. "Dad hated Mother like poison. He'd almost willingly married her- 'almost' in the sense that he needed a 'cover' - solely to hide the fact that he was gay. He and Roy had been together, on and off, since they were teenagers. When it was time for them to join the firm, they were back together, and had to hide it. So, they let their parents pick wives for them, ones that weren't any more interested in the men than they were in them. But over the years, her shallowness sickened him. He might have been a corporate lawyer, and a successful one at that, Matthew, but Dad did have a sense of proportion that Mother does not have. He taught me when we were alone, that love is way more important than money.

"You should have seen him and Roy when we were alone, Matt. They were so much in love. They had to live their public lives hiding it - something I'm all too well-versed in myself. Without them, I wouldn't have survived my childhood with my sanity intact - or possibly not survived it at all. Mother doesn't love you, Matthew. She has no idea how to. She is not proud of you, either. She expects you to do what you do, and as long as you live up to her expectations, she will be on your side. You'll feel her wrath when you go back to the hotel without me. Maybe, for once, you'll stand up to her."

Matthew nodded slowly, believing for the first time that Paul was right and his mother was wrong. He wasn't happy with the idea of his brother living with the others, but something told him that Jack's threats were very real, and he felt the level of emotion between the men. He wasn't going to win this one, and he knew it.

"Those films..." he started, standing up as he did.

"Are somewhere very safe. They're not here," Paul answered tiredly. "You won't find them. Nobody will see them, either. Unless, of course, you continue to harass me. Tell Mother that I don't want to hear from her ever again. That's my final condition for keeping quiet."

"Right," Matthew replied.

Daniel looked at him. "You want to see them for yourself, don't you?"

"I... I..., er..."

"Why? To get off?" Jack asked.

"No," Daniel replied for him. "For his own peace of mind."

Matthew looked at him in surprise. How did he know?

"I'll send you a copy," Paul broke in. "I won't tell you when - I have to go somewhere to get the tapes. We'll be going on vacation soon, and when we're back, I'll get them. I'll put them on a CD ROM. It should all fit onto one or two discs, I'm sure."

"Thank you," Matthew replied. "Um, how will Mother know you won't use the tapes anyway?"

"Why would I?" Paul asked in surprise. "Dad made the tapes as protection for me. I don't want to use them. But as Dad would say, he's dead, so he can't be hurt by them, so I'm prepared to do so if I'm driven to it. If I can keep them a secret, as I have for over twenty years, I'm going to. I don't want to drag his name through the mud, neither do I want to do that to Roy. Uh, Roy said I could use them, in case you were wondering. He had no more time for his family than Dad had for you lot. He's dead, too, so I can't hurt him, can I? It's a last resort, Matt, nothing more."

"Are you okay?" Daniel asked as Jack shut the door on Matthew. He held Paul tightly as he spoke.

"Yeah. Tired, for some reason, but I'm okay."

"Come here."

Daniel let go of him and lay on the sofa, Paul joining him moments later. Saying nothing, they held onto each other.

When Jack re-entered the room, he saw them and was worried.

"You okay?" he asked, echoing Daniel.

"I'm fine," Paul sighed.


Paul was surprised by Jack's tone of voice, and he looked into Daniel's eyes for the first time since Matthew had gone. In them, he saw stress.

"Dan? What's wrong?"

Daniel stayed silent for a moment, holding Paul closer than he had done, then he spoke. "Why can't people just leave us alone?" he whispered. "What have we done to them? Whenever things are going well here, something happens to upset us."

"Daniel?" Jack growled. "Are you feeling...?"

He shook his head. "Just angry, and a bit hurt I guess. I won't let them take you away, baby," he whispered to Paul. "I can't lose you."

"You won't. You know that."

Jack sat on the floor next to them and took Daniel's hand in his.

"It's not the same as it was with Alec, Daniel. They don't have a hold over him."

"They never did," Paul added with a shrug. "I haven't exaggerated anything, you know."

"I know. Why didn't you tell us your childhood was so awful?"

"Awful? No, it wasn't that bad. Look, I got used to the way I was treated very quickly. I didn't know any different. Although Dad couldn't show me a great deal of overt affection in front of her, he did whatever he could to remind me he loved me. I remember him reading to me when I was small. Whenever he was home from work in time, and when I wasn't away at school, he'd be there at bedtime to tell me a story, or even to tell me what he'd been doing that day and ask me what I'd done. It didn't matter what we talked about, I had his time and his attention. No matter how abrupt my mother was with me, she wasn't abusive. She meant nothing to me, really. I didn't miss her affection as I'd never had it. It would have been worse for me if she'd suddenly changed... or been loving and then died," he added quietly. "Dad loved me and I knew it. I had a nanny when I was young and she doted on me - at least when we were alone, which was most of the time. I don't know Matthew, so I don't miss his attentions, either."

Jack shook his head in bewilderment. His father had been the more distant of his parents, but even though his dad was rarely around, he let his kids know he loved them - at least in his own way. He'd always try very hard to be there at school concerts, or award ceremonies, looking fit to burst when his children were in the limelight. Little things like that meant they knew their stoic father loved them. Of course, his mother had smothered them with affection, as if she was deliberately making up for their father. He also had a brother and sister with whom he was close. He couldn't understand how a mother could act like that towards her own children.

Daniel understood in his own way. His parents had doted on him, when they'd realised he was there. But even as a child, he'd been the sort to lock himself away and read, or study something - even wanting to be left alone to play with his building blocks. He hadn't noticed his parents being distant from time to time. He'd had a nanny, too, and had another 'family' back in Egypt, with four 'brothers and sisters' with whom playtime had been fun, raucous and quite usually dangerous. But his childhood had been as unusual as Paul's, and he understood how Paul had got used to his own, and accepted it as 'normal'.

After a few minutes' silence, Daniel said, "I'm going for a run." At the curious looks he got, he shook his head again. "I'm out of condition!" he complained. "I need one."

Paul moved away and as Daniel rolled off the sofa, he smacked his head.

"I know what I was going to suggest yesterday, before we were interrupted."

"Oh? What's that?" Jack asked, getting Daniel to pull him to stand up.

"We should put up another outbuilding."

"Why?" Paul asked in surprise.

"We can put a gym in there. Then, if the weather's bad, or we don't want to go out, there's no excuse not to exercise. Don't know about you guys, but I'm feeling distinctly unfit these days and I don't want to get flabby."

Neither man spoke for a moment, memories of Daniel working out in the gym at the SGC flashing through both their minds.


"Oh! Yeah. Great idea. We can look into it today," Paul agreed.

"You're on," Jack added. "Definitely."

Surprised by their enthusiasm, Daniel went to put on his running gear. The others couldn't get the image of a hot and sweaty Daniel out of their minds and just stared into space. Finally, Jack said, "He's gonna get us all hot and bothered, isn't he?"

With a filthy smile, Paul answered, "Oh yeah. How soon can we get it organised?"

"I love Rossini," Jack said as he lay on the sofa, Paul wrapped in his arms as they watched a stage version of The Barber of Seville on the TV.

"Hmm, me too," Paul agreed. "He knew how to write a good tune."

"Exactly. Wagner panned him," Jack muttered, "but seein' as I usually feel suicidal when I hear his music, I'll stick with Rossini any day. That guy sounded like he was enjoying himself when he wrote it."

"It shows, doesn't it? Even when you get his more serious works, you can tell he loved doing it, that it wasn't a chore."

Jack was silent for a moment then he said something strange.

"Which one do you think Daniel's like?"


"Wagner or Rossini?"

"I'm not sure I'm getting you, Jack," Paul murmured as he twisted in Jack's arms and looked in confusion at him.

"Oh, it's just that sometimes I wonder if when he... you know, takes care of us, whether he's getting as much out of it as we are?"

"Don't you think he is?"

"I used to, but now, I'm not so sure. Not sure if you realise, but when your brother was here a week ago was the last time we went down to the playroom. Since then, Daniel's been more or less stuck in his study."

"He's busy, Jack. You saw the package that arrived the following morning for him."

"I did, that's true. Somehow, though, I think there's something more going in his head. We haven't had any sex in a week - and you must admit, that's pretty unusual."

Paul thought back and realised that Jack was right - and it was unusual. Even if it was just a morning 'bump'n'grind' against each other, they usually made love at least every other day, if not every day. Unless one of them was ill, of course. None were. Daniel wasn't coming to bed at the same time as them, either. Paul had put that down to him working hard. When he was on a roll, Daniel didn't like to stop. He'd make up for it when the work had ended and he'd take a few days off, sleeping a lot and generally vegging until his active brain made him get up and at it again.

"Granted," Paul agreed. "It's probably nothing more than he's enjoying the hell out of himself in there, though."

The curtain descended on the stage, the show came to an end and Jack looked at his watch. Ten o'clock. Not late, but late enough to go to bed.

"Come on, let's go get him," he suggested. "I feel like an early night. Do you?"

"I think I could be persuaded," Paul sniggered, dropping off the sofa and onto his feet and pulling Jack up. "C'mere. Persuade me, why don't you?"

They stood for a while, kissing each other, but not taking it further before Jack broke it off, wrapped his arm around Paul's shoulder and led him to Daniel's study's door.

He had to knock on it, the security system that was installed meant that either they used a swipe card with a numeric password, or a knock if Daniel was in there, as he could let them in. A click told them the door was unlocked and Jack pushed it open.

They saw Daniel, head down in a book, one hand turning a page whilst the other one typed a few keys on his PC.

"Uh, Daniel? Time you stopped," Jack said calmly.

"Why?" Daniel didn't even look up.

"Because you've been at this all day and now it's time for bed."

"I'm not tired," came the distracted voice, but the fact that he was fighting down a yawn gave the lie to his statement. "And, er, I'm on a bit of a run now. I'll join you later."

"Dan, please," Paul countered. "We've hardly seen you all week."

Daniel looked up at that and mouthed the word 'week?'. The men nodded in synchronicity. Then he mouthed 'oops' and had the decency to look a little sheepish. Finally, he spoke out loud. "What time is it?"

Jack made an exaggerated look at his watch and said, "Twenty-two oh eight, Daniel."

"Just after ten?" Daniel scowled. "That's not late. I'll just..." He went to point to his paperwork again when Paul stepped up to him and put his hands on Daniel's.

"We know it's not late, Daniel. Come to bed..." he tried in his best 'come to bed' voice and giving Daniel his best 'come to bed' look, "...please? For me? For Jack?"

Daniel saved his work and shut down the computer, then stood up, muttering, "I'll never get this finished." It didn't stop him walking to the bedroom though.


Daniel walked straight into the bathroom and shut the door behind him, surprising the others as he rarely felt the need for privacy. On top of the washing basket was the pair of sweats he'd left there that morning, having slept in them the night before. He stripped off, washed and cleaned his teeth, took a leak and put on the sweats before leaving the bathroom.

"All yours," he said to the others, getting into the bed and under the covers fairly quickly.

Still stunned, they got ready together, and as quickly as they could, Paul whispering to Jack, "Did that seem odd to you?"

"Daniel seems odd to me," Jack whispered back. "Hurry up, let's see what's up."

Daniel lay on his back in the middle of the bed, waiting for the men to join him and trying to get worked up about them. He couldn't explain his current mood. He'd had it ever since Matthew had gone that last time. Paul's sudden wealth - although he didn't even mention it as a rule - had seemed to have changed his lover, just a bit. Not that he was suddenly a spoilt rich boy, far from it. He was still as kind and as caring as he ever had been, and he certainly wasn't trying to rub the others' noses in the size of his bank account. As he'd said, he would give a fair portion of it to charity, anyway; he didn't want it. Daniel knew the size of his own bank account. Not quite seven figures yet, but a little bit of saving over a few months and another royalty cheque like he'd got for his book and he'd be there. Jack was nowhere near that well-off, but even he was positively rolling in it, compared to your average pensioned-off airman.

No, it wasn't that; but Paul had changed. He'd been more decisive, less dependent on Daniel. Sure, it had only been a week, but during that week, he'd organised a months' sabbatical, starting a couple of weeks down the line, had taken the drastic pay cut (apparently he was being paid a dollar a year, just so that they could say he was on the payroll for insurance purposes) and was generally acting in the way he'd done the minute he'd put his uniform on and gone to work at the Pentagon. Self-assured, deliberate, confident... and in no way needing Daniel to keep him sane. Each decision he'd made had been without discussion with the others, although Daniel had suggested something similar at the beginning. He'd come home and announced what he'd done - and that was very unlike him.

Jack, of course, didn't need Daniel in the way he had when he'd been at the SGC, and suddenly, Daniel was feeling out of control. Not that he let the others see it. They were happy and he didn't want to upset them at all. There was a very good reason why he'd gone to bed wearing his sweats.

Within a few minutes, the others had joined him and soon they, too, were staring at the ceiling as if they were waiting for something. Daniel didn't move or say anything, so Jack spoke.

"Well? What do you want to do?" he prompted.

Daniel shrugged. "I was happy translating," he muttered. "I thought you two had decided on doing something. If you haven't, I'll go back and..."

Paul twisted around and shut Daniel up by kissing him.

"Oh no. You're not going back to work," he said when he broke off.

"You have something in mind?" Daniel asked, trying hard to get enthused but failing.

"I'm sure I can think of something. Unless you have something in mind?"

Daniel shook his head. "Sorry. I wasn't really planning anything."

Jack turned onto his side and stared at Daniel for a moment before asking, "Daniel? Is something wrong?"

"Wrong? No. Why, should there be?"

"I dunno. You're acting kind of odd."


"Yeah. Odd."

"In what way?" Daniel sounded a little shocked but also a bit nervous, clueing the others into the fact that something was bothering him.

"You're a bit distant, Daniel," Paul tried. "It's not like you. Like we said, we've hardly seen you all week. You're up first, you go out for a run, then you lock yourself away in your study before I've even gone to work. I see you for a few minutes at breakfast, then at dinner if you bother to come out, and that's it. You come to bed after we've gone to sleep. Have we done something to upset you? Have I done something?"

"No," he shook his head vigorously. "No, you haven't done anything. I'm just busy, that's all. My mind is elsewhere. You know how I get."

They did, and it sounded like a plausible explanation, but Jack asked casually, "So, what's up with the sweats?"


"You're wearing sweats to bed. You don't wear anything to bed normally."

"Oh. Well, when I came to bed that first night that I was late, you two were wrapped up under the covers and there wasn't enough for me on either side. I know it sounds weird, but I feel, well, exposed if I don't have something covering my legs and I can't settle. You were also wrapped up in each other, so I couldn't get in my normal place. It was just easier to put on the sweats and sleep on the side. I just carried on wearing them. Um, if I disturb you with this late working, I could always go sleep in the guest room..." he offered. "Just till it's done, that's all."

Again, the explanation made a Daniel sort of sense, but Jack wasn't totally convinced.

"Would it make you happier?" he asked carefully.

This time, he got a genuinely confused look from Daniel which oddly reassured him. "Why would it do that? I just don't want to wake you up, that's all."

"I see. No, you sleep with us, Danny. Unless you want to sleep on your own. I guess that sometimes, we all need a bit of space," he added, trying to sound unconcerned.

"It's not that, Jack." He started to sound exasperated. "Look, if all you've got me in here for is to question me, then I'm going back to my study."

Jack realised that he'd pushed him too far and changed tack quickly. He copied Paul's action and kissed Daniel, letting him know in no uncertain terms that he wasn't going anywhere. Daniel lay there, letting him do what he wanted, and not putting up a fight. He hoped he would get turned on; normally he would, but for some reason it wasn't happening for him. He tried wrapping his arms around Jack, letting the feel of skin on skin warm him up. Usually that would have him hard in seconds.

After about five minutes of kissing and touching, with Paul joining in and kissing any bit of skin he could reach, Daniel was still distinctly not turned on.

"I'm sorry, guys," he whispered. "I must be more tired than I thought. You two..." he waved his hand at them. "Carry on." He looked really upset and the others were left stunned.

"Hey, it's okay," Jack encouraged. "It happens to us all from time to time. It happens to me, doesn't it?"

"I know. It's just you guys seemed to want it and I feel like I've let you down."

Paul took Daniel's face in his hands and turned him to look at him.

"Don't you ever think that," he growled. "You've never let us down and you never will." He kissed Daniel fiercely before letting him go again.

Daniel flopped onto his back and soon found the others lying with their heads on his chest. Letting loose a little smile, he wrapped his arms around them and held them close.

"I thought you two were horny," he teased.

He felt Jack shaking his head. "We just wanted you, Daniel. Go to sleep. Things will look better in the morning."

They wished each other goodnight and Jack and Paul soon dropped off. Daniel lay on his back and staring at the ceiling for quite some time.

He wasn't there when they woke up in the morning; not that they'd expected him to be.

"Can't hear him," Jack yawned. "Must be running."

"What's wrong with him?" Paul muttered. "Something's up, Jack."

"I know. Damned if I can figure it out yet, though. Give him a break. We went too far last night. He's bound to be feeling bad about what happened - or rather, what didn't happen. Better not say anything."

"You think it's really because he's too tired?" Paul sounded sceptical as he spoke.

"Could be. All I know is that if you mention it, it's not going to get any better for him. We'll try to get him out of his study this evening. Maybe go out?"

"Yeah, sounds great. We haven't done that in a while. Got anywhere in mind?"

Jack was about to suggest something when he thought out loud instead. "I think we'd be better off getting Daniel to suggest something."


Jack propped himself up on his elbow and said, "When was the last time he said we had to do something?"

"Um, that day that Matthew was here," Paul said, suddenly realising what Jack was saying. "Okay. We'll try to get him to think of something."

"I'm not even sure what to do," Jack sighed, getting second thoughts about his idea. "Would we be better off leaving him to finish his work first? Maybe then he'd be more 'with it'."

Paul shrugged. "Unless he turns around and tells us what's going on in his head, I don't know what would be better. Look, as of the end of next week, I'm off for a month. You make sure that your customers know you're not going to be around, and we'll get Daniel to get in touch with the SGC to tell them that he's taking off, too. We'll go somewhere. Take that vacation we were talking about. Do something... luxurious," he added with a grin. "We can pamper him for a bit, take away any of his stress."

"Sounds good," Jack agreed. "Okay. We leave him alone until then. Come on, you've got to get ready for work. Perhaps we can get Daniel to think of somewhere he'd like to go over breakfast."


"Okay. What's up? Why are you two looking at me like that?" Daniel asked as they ate.

"Nothing's up," Jack sighed. "But we were wondering if you have any idea where you'd like us to go on vacation. We may as well make the most of Paul's little sabbatical."

"Um, I don't know," Daniel replied carefully. "Besides, surely that's Paul's decision?"

Paul shook his head vigorously. "No, it's our decision, Dan. Come on, what sort of vacation would you like? How about you tell us what you need, we'll say the same from our perspectives and we'll have a look to see if we can combine our ideas."

"Sounds good," Daniel agreed. "Okay, well, to be honest, I just want somewhere private, away from anyone else. All this hassle with your family and the book and so on... well, I don't want to be disturbed."

"I could go for that," Jack smiled. "I'd like to go somewhere I could fish. I haven't done that in a while."

"You went to the cabin only a few months ago," Paul argued.

"Yeah, but he wants to catch something, Paul," Daniel teased, getting a laugh from Paul and an aggrieved 'oy!' from Jack.

"Fair enough," Paul continued. "I want somewhere hot. Or at the very least, somewhere very warm. How about the Caribbean?"

Jack and Daniel looked at each other and nodded, grins spreading over their faces.

"Sounds like a plan to me," Jack agreed.

"What he said," added Daniel, raising his mug in toast.

"Do you want to choose the destination, or shall I surprise you?" Paul asked cautiously.

Daniel thought for a moment, then shrugged. "Surprise me. I trust you to get us somewhere we'll all like."

Paul beamed back at him for that, then looked a little frustrated when Daniel made to stand up and disappear back into his study.

"Paul? What's wrong?" Daniel asked, picking up on the change of mood immediately.

"Um... well... look, Dan, we haven't seen a lot of you recently and to be frank, we're missing you. When I come home tonight, could we... do something, please?"

Daniel froze, thinking back to the previous night.

"I don't mean that," Paul added quickly. "I mean, can we go out, or play a game or even watch TV together? It's the 'together' thing I want." His voice quietened, and he sounded quite miserable.

"Ok-ay," Daniel drawled. "Have you got something in mind?"

Both men shook their heads a little too strongly for Daniel's liking, but he decided to take them at their word.

"You decide, please?" Jack begged.

Slowly, Daniel nodded in answer. "Will you guys want to, um..." He didn't say it - the 'inaction' of the night before had upset him more than he was going to admit and he couldn't bring up even the prospect of the words 'sex' or 'submission'.

"It doesn't matter," Paul soothed. "That's not the point. If you think of something that is in that line, then I can't see either of us arguing. But, if you just want to play Scrabble, then that will make us happy, too. Please, Daniel, just be with us. Anything else is a bonus."

"Right. I'll think of something. You're right, I've been neglecting you and I'm very sorry about that. I'll make it up to you tonight, I promise. Now, I'd better get on or I won't be able to finish early tonight."

He bent down and dropped a kiss on both men's heads before scooting into his study. Within minutes, he'd made a decision as to what he'd do that night, and set the alarm on his watch to give himself time to get ready.

He'd wondered whether to put out clothes for the guys, or to let them choose their own. But thinking back to that morning, he realised that they were trying to make him take charge. He didn't really understand why, as neither man had seemed to need him to do that recently, but decided that just going with the flow and giving them what they wanted would be the way to go. So, he'd put out their best jeans - smart ones, yet casual. White shirts would go over white, sleeveless T-shirts. He even put out their shoes and socks. No boxers though, he figured that leaving those off would aid matters later.

When Paul came home, Daniel quietly but firmly directed him to the bathroom and told him to get himself ready. Jack was already done - washed, inside and out, shaved not only over his face but his body. Daniel knew that Jack loved the sensation of cloth on his completely bare skin, that it made him tingle. Paul had the same instructions, and got the same response. In the back of Daniel's mind was the worry that this wasn't going to do anything for him, though, and he had a plan. If he couldn't get what he wanted when they were out, he could at least direct the guys to 'play' together as he watched; a pretence that he would get off on voyeurism when he was afraid he wouldn't get off at all. He was seriously worried about his current lack of interest and was scared that it wasn't going to go away. He kept telling himself that it was just temporary, that he was just distracted and tired, but underneath it all, he knew that the recent change in their lives was affecting him. Trouble was, he didn't know what to do about it.

Saying nothing, he stood in the living room and waited for Paul to emerge from the bedroom. Jack was already with him, sitting as instructed as Daniel didn't want his legs to get tired sooner than necessary.

When Paul came out, Daniel was pleased to see him wearing exactly what had been put out for him and nothing else.

"Very nice," he purred. "Stand up, Jack. We're going."

Forcing himself to be strong, Daniel marched to the front door and expected the others to be on his heel. They were. Both men had been thinking about Daniel's manner over the last week or so and they didn't like it. Seeing Daniel be so decisive comforted them both.

They were surprised to see Daniel choose Jack's truck as the vehicle to take into town, but accepted it without a word. Instead, they sat in the back on the bench seat, as directed, and waited to see where he was going to take them.


They went to dinner in a place out of the way, but still popular. Daniel chose their food for them, and generally treated them the way he would do normally. As the time went on, they started to relax. Old Daniel was back with a vengeance. Over the meal, he was subtly flirting with them, winding them up until they thought they'd explode, and then letting them calm down again. They let him, enjoying it thoroughly, if getting a little frustrated by his tease.

After dinner, he took them to a nightclub they sometimes went to and tried to put one aspect of his plan into action.

He told the men to sit at a particular table and to only speak to each other, just as he often did. Then he went to get some drinks. Jack didn't take his eyes off Daniel and was surprised to see him speaking to one of the men propping up the bar. It wasn't that he was talking to him, it was more the way they were speaking. They were a little too close. A little too intimate. Somehow, he didn't want to know what they were talking about.

He kept his eye on the other guy, who seemed to be looking at Daniel as he made his way back to the men. Daniel acted obliviously, just placing the drinks on the table and then excusing himself to go take a leak. Jack's suspicions were further aroused when he saw the man apparently follow Daniel in to the toilets. Jack looked at his watch. He'd give Daniel four minutes. Any longer and he figured that something was wrong.

"Jack? What's up?" Paul asked, noticing that Jack was distracted.

"Uh, I'm not sure," Jack answered. "Probably nothing." He didn't want to say that he had one of two fears. One, and one which he couldn't bring himself to believe was that he'd propositioned the other guy, or been propositioned by him. The toilets were a notorious place in the club for sex acts, so it was a possibility. But that would be so unlike Daniel - no way would he cheat on them. The only reason Jack could think of for that would be that he and Paul didn't turn Daniel on anymore, and he didn't believe that.

The other fear was something that he was almost equally unwilling to believe. That Daniel had bought some drugs. Daniel didn't do drugs - it took away his control. He only took painkillers when he really had to. A short foray into pot smoking as a young man had been his total extent of drug taking experience, and one, Daniel had said, he didn't want to repeat. Jack had never even seen him use poppers, even though he allowed Jack and Paul to use them on the very odd occasion (and under strict supervision, as required by the mother hen to end all mother hens). But when Daniel appeared in only three minutes, the man not so long out behind him, Jack had to consider that he'd done something like that. He resolved himself to looking closely at his lover that night, to make sure that he wasn't acting as if he was high.

He did seem pleased, however, when he arrived at their table, but not high. Jack's confusion grew. When Daniel sat astride Jack's legs, deliberately holding as much of his own weight so as not to hurt him, and he started to kiss him, Jack was relieved to find that Daniel didn't smell of sex, so he hadn't had a very quick hand or blow job in the toilets. He seemed very horny, too, underlining that conclusion - not hard yet, but definitely in the mood. Soon, Jack could only think of the mouth on his and the tongue that possessed him. He was hard again, just as he'd been in the restaurant. When Daniel broke off, Jack was suffering from mixed emotions.

Paul found it was his time to suffer at the hands of Daniel. He felt himself being taken by the hand and made to stand up. Then he was gently but firmly pushed against a pillar. The next thing he knew, Daniel seemed to be everywhere. Hands and legs entwined and Daniel ground his groin against Paul's, almost urging him to get hard and come in his pants. It took all of Paul's self-control to not come. He moaned into Daniel's mouth, grabbing Daniel's ass with his hands and pulling him as tightly against him as he could.

"Later," Daniel panted as he broke away. "Promise, pet, you'll get off tonight. We all will."

Paul smiled back at him, enjoying the return of his dom.


They'd been there a couple of hours, Paul and Daniel dancing occasionally, all three exchanging kisses and touches and finished a few non-alcoholic drinks when Daniel said, "Dance with me."

Jack didn't react, thinking that he was asking Paul again as Jack didn't dance.

"Jack? Come on, I want you both out there."

"But, Daniel, I don't..."


Daniel stood up and put his hand out to Jack and his other one out to Paul. Before they knew where they were, he was leading them both out to the dance floor.

Jack saw how Daniel was planning this, and he let it happen for once. Paul was pulled in-between the two larger men and found himself being gently squeezed between their bodies. The music was slow, a sexy beat encouraging them to move their hips and little else. Daniel wrapped his arms around both men - standing behind Paul, his groin at Paul's ass, his hands on Jack's. Jack returned the favour, his hands on Daniel's back, his groin clashing with the top of Paul's. Paul tilted his head to one side, allowing Daniel to kiss his neck as they moved and Jack to kiss his face, all three of them exchanging touches and kisses more and more passionately. As the music continued, they got more and more turned on, their kisses increasing in number as well as in intensity. They were all hard, even Daniel; a fact which hadn't gone unnoticed by Paul.

Other dancers watched the triad, picking up that something different was between the men than would normally be found in a relationship - numbers within the relationship not withstanding. They were hot to watch, an air of sensuality exuding from them all. Watching them, they saw power. Powerful emotions, powerful bodies... and powerful trust. Even though Jack didn't dance as a rule, he'd trusted Daniel to lead him and he was swaying in precise time to Daniel's movements. Paul was acting almost as if he trusted the others to hold him up, as if his own legs weren't strong enough and only the power of the relationship held him. When the song ended, disappointment rippled around the dance floor. Daniel took one step back and caught Jack's hand in his again, his other arm protectively wrapped around Paul's waist as he led them back to their table. Only the change of music to a loud, jarring piece regained the watchers' attentions and they missed the fact that Daniel picked up his jacket and motioned to the others to leave.


Neither Jack nor Paul spoke as Daniel led them back to the truck. It was dark, only a few streetlights illuminating their way to the car park. When they arrived at the truck, Daniel indicated that they should wait outside it for a moment, while he got something out of the glove box.

When he'd retrieved it, he said, "Paul, get into the back of the truck. Take off your pants and shoes."

Swallowing harshly, his heart beating wildly, Paul did as he was told. The military training he had made him look around to check his surroundings - he almost felt as if he was going into battle. There was no one there. His heart slowed a little, but not much.

Meanwhile, Daniel put Jack's hands on the side of the truck, making him face it. Jack felt his jeans being undone and pulled down a bit, then he heard the unmistakable sound of a zip being pulled down.

"Don't come," Daniel murmured. "I've got plans for you."

He did his best to relax, but like Paul, his training made him listen out for company and look out for danger. He spotted none. The truck was parked up in the dimly lit corner of the car park, obviously done deliberately by Daniel earlier. The sense of danger heightened Jack's already high excitement and refraining from coming was going to be hard. Harder, when Daniel pushed inside him without hesitation or preparation. Jack cried out, an involuntary sound, earning himself a slap on his leg.

"Quiet! Do you want someone to come and check out what's going on?"

"No. Sorry." He gasped the answer, gritting his teeth harshly as Daniel continued to fuck him.

Jack wasn't the only one excited by this. Paul was watching them closely, holding onto the seats of the truck and digging his fingers into them to stop himself from just jerking off. He tried to act as lookout, but wanted to watch the men, too. His cock was hard, red and leaking. He was getting desperate.

Daniel stopped his movement for a moment and handed something to Paul. It was the small bottle of lube he'd retrieved from the glove box.

"Get yourself ready," he said. "Lie on the bench seat, open your legs and get some lube up your ass. I want to watch you."

He nudged Jack to move slightly until they were right next to the back door. Jack found it difficult to move with a cock up his ass and his pants around his knees, but he managed it. He couldn't bring himself to watch Paul, though, it would have taken him over the edge and he knew it.

Daniel wanted to come, and soon. He knew that the longer they were out there, the more danger of discovery there was. He didn't take his eyes off Paul and watched as Paul's fingers disappeared inside him, then come back out and go back in. He fucked Jack to the rhythm that Paul fucked himself, letting the sensations overwhelm him. With a loud grunt, he came, much to the others' relief.

"Jack," he panted, "get inside. Paul, stop what you're doing. Let Jack lie down on the seat."

He got inside the truck, grabbing some tissues from the door pocket and roughly cleaning himself up. He threw the packet over the back for the guys.

When all the doors were shut, and Jack was flat on his back, Daniel continued with the directions.

"Paul, you know what to do. I want you guys to take your time. Don't come for as long as you can hold out. If you can hold out till we get home, you'll get a reward. If you can't, you won't be punished, but you won't get to fuck me."

He heard the groans from behind him, knowing that there was a cat's chance in a dog's home of them managing to hold out. As soon as Paul had knelt astride the awkwardly lying Jack and had taken his cock inside him, Daniel leaned over the back and pulled at the seat belts. They felt him fiddling with them and then heard the clicks.

"Don't want you to get hurt if I have to stop suddenly," he said to them, his voice filled with amusement, but at the same time, deadly serious.

Jack and Paul resigned themselves to being stuck in this position for the duration. It was going to take at least twenty minutes to get home. Maybe more, depending on Daniel's route. Knowing him, he'd take the long way home.


Daniel couldn't help but look in the mirror as often as possible. He was getting hard again, something he knew would happen after his foray into the toilets with the other guy. Somehow, he knew they'd guess what he'd been up to - they'd have a clue soon enough, anyway - but, he hoped, they'd drop the subject quickly. He didn't want to talk about it.

Paul was riding Jack slowly, taking his time. If he stopped at all, Daniel urged him to continue, getting Daniel curses under the breaths of the men he was torturing by remote.

At some lights, Daniel was amused to see the driver of a bus in the lane next to them looking into the darkened cab of the truck. He could obviously see something of what was going on and couldn't take his eyes off them. Only when the lights changed and Daniel started to pull away did the bus driver shake himself and concentrate on his job.

Daniel loved to get the guys to do things like this. Dangerous things. Things they couldn't and wouldn't have done when they were in the Air Force. He knew they got a lot out of it, that the sense of liberation was heightened.

Seeing a police car down the road, he turned onto a sideroad and took the back way home. He wouldn't let on to the guys he was doing that, he let them believe the danger of discovery was still as high as before. It wasn't his fault they'd be taking a bit longer to get home, was it?


They didn't last. Unfortunately for them, they were only at the bottom of the hill that they lived on. The bumping of the truck over the less-well-kept back roads had added to the already tense atmosphere, and they came, almost together. When Daniel pulled up on the drive, he saw an exhausted Paul lying on top of Jack, his eyes shut, but not asleep.

"Aw, you didn't make it," he taunted. "That's such a shame. Still, I get to play," he added mischievously.

Teasing Paul further, he picked up his shoes and jeans, making him walk into the house in only his socks and shirt. Jack stiffly got out of the truck, his legs complaining but he said nothing.

Daniel did notice how awkwardly Jack was walking, however, so he determined to make the rest of the night a bit easier on him.

"You know, there's something plain exciting about making out outside," he said with a smile. "Let's go out the back."

He dropped Paul's jeans and shoes into the bedroom and suggested that the two stripped off in there for convenience. As they did, he strolled out to the back and checked that the hot tub's water was the right temperature. He'd sort of decided he'd use that before they went out, so he'd switched it on before they'd left.

A few minutes later, and the others were with him. He told them to get into the pool, then went back into the house, coming out a short while later with some things in his hands, including some bathrobes.

"Come here," he ordered, and they made their way to his side. "I want you to feel your way through this."

They swallowed harshly when they saw him pick up blindfolds, but didn't complain. It didn't take him long to cover their eyes, helping them both to sit on the ledge under the water when they could no longer see what they were doing.

"I know you've been blindfolded before," he said, getting undressed as he spoke. "But never when you were in the pool. You're going to have to trust me more than you normally do. You're outside, in the open air. You're in water. Two elements that could harm you. I will not let you be harmed, as you know." They felt the water move as he stepped into it. "Do precisely what I tell you. Nothing more, nothing less. Reach out with your hearing, your sense of smell and touch. See if you can see what I'm doing in your minds."

He took hold of Paul's hands and helped him to stand up. Paul shuddered as he felt Daniel's naked body near his, the heat emanating from it scorching his skin. Daniel let go and he felt nervous and exposed, his recently spent cock twitching with the excitement and the heat. From the movement of the water, he knew that Daniel was changing his position from in front of him to behind him.

Daniel stopped dead for a moment, thinking of what he was going to do next. Paul felt Daniel's breath on his neck and it made him shiver.

"You are so gorgeous," Daniel whispered, smiling when he saw Paul's body reacting to his soft words. "So very beautiful. Love you so much." He placed a kiss on the pulse point of Paul's neck and his knees buckled.

Paul felt the strong arms catch him and he felt incredibly safe. Daniel wasn't going to let him fall and he knew it. When he'd regained his balance, Daniel helped him to the edge of the tub.

"Put your hands here," he directed, helping Paul find the side. "Hold on tightly and don't move unless I tell you to."

Paul held as instructed, then he felt the hot water as Daniel scooped some up in his hands and poured it down the back of Paul's neck. More water washed over him - down his legs, down his arms, sluicing the crack of his ass. This was followed by kisses copying the water's path. Paul gasped out loud when Daniel's kisses reached his ass, hoping that he would follow it up in the way he normally would. His gasp turned to a happy groan when Daniel did.

Paul felt the tongue that licked a stripe from behind his balls to his asshole. He forgot Jack was there when Daniel pushed his tongue inside him, reaming him out, tasting what Jack had left behind earlier.

Daniel was really hard again, loving every moment of what he was doing, but knowing that he wanted more. Reluctantly, he stopped, kissed his way up Paul's back until he reached his neck and wrapped his arms around him, engulfing him with his body.

"I want to fuck you," Daniel murmured. "But I want you to suck me, too. I want one as much as the other." He let his cock nudge Paul's ass, feeling the hole twitch against the head. "Is your ass sore? Be honest."

"It's not too bad," Paul gulped. "You can have whatever you want."

"I know that," Daniel laughed. "What do you want to do?"

"I don't care. I want you."

"Good answer," Daniel purred, and he let Paul go briefly. In moments, he was sitting on the side of the tub and taking Paul's face in his hands. "Let go of the tub and stand upright."

Paul did, blindly allowing Daniel to guide him. The next thing he felt was Daniel's mouth on his and he surrendered to the kiss.

"Damn, you're good at that," Daniel praised when he broke off. "Bend down and open that beautiful mouth of yours."

Paul felt himself start to harden again, surprised as it wasn't so long since he'd come. The mixture of the atmosphere, the location, the blindfold... and Daniel's rock hard voice, was enough for him. He tried to ignore it, not wanting to get to the state where he'd end up frustrated at the end of the night, but Daniel bent down as Paul took him into his mouth and reached around to stroke Paul's cock with his hand. Paul let out a long moan which vibrated straight through Daniel's body.

"Oh yeah, pet," he encouraged. "You keep on moaning like that. There's nothing better than hearing that."

Jack listened intently to the sounds around him; the moans from Paul, the encouragements from Daniel which got more heated as time went on, the splashing of the water... he felt his own cock stirring and he reached down to take it into his hand. Daniel heard the slosh of water from Jack's direction and looked, grinning widely when he saw the blindfolded man aiming to get off. He wondered if he should stop him, but decided that he'd enjoy the floor show instead.

"That's it, Jack," he said. "You do that. I want to watch you."

The low, sexy voice made Jack freeze in his tracks for a moment, then he took Daniel at his word, jerking a bit more enthusiastically.

Daniel was in his element. Help from a little blue tablet or not, this scene was a real turn on for him. The only thing he had to make sure was that the others didn't take off their blindfolds until he gave them permission. No way could he allow that.

He stopped talking, concentrating instead on the feelings and his senses. Paul's mouth was hot and wet, his tongue stroked and licked, he took his time, now swallowing him, now playing with just the head. Daniel gently stroked Paul's cock, not to bring him off, but to keep him excited. It worked. Paul found himself getting more and more desperate and he increased the pace and the strength, urging Daniel to take him over the edge. Jack's hand sped up, the sounds being enough to take him close.

"Come for me," Daniel murmured. "Both of you. I want to watch you."

Paul came first, letting out a loud moan as he spilled over Daniel's hand. It nearly made Daniel come, but he held off, waiting for one last signal. Jack's breathing increased, getting really noisy, his hand working hard, his hips jerking, the water splashing... with a loud grunt, he came. That was it for Daniel and he spilled down Paul's throat.

It took them a few minutes to calm a bit. Daniel gently lifted Paul to stand, then guided him to sit next to Jack. They felt their faces being taken in his hands, in turn, and their mouths being plundered by the still out of breath Daniel. They just let him, too tired to kiss him back and both unwilling to spoil the moment.

He broke off and they felt the water move as Daniel got up and out of the tub. He wrapped his robe around himself, then knelt next to them and undid their blindfolds.

"Thank you," he whispered, kissing their necks and running his hands over their bodies. "You are incredible."

Then his soft voice changed, and he became the matter-of-fact man they knew him to be. "Now, up, out, wrap yourselves in your robes and go get ready for bed. I'll just let the water out of the tub. It needs it," he added with a grin and wrinkling his nose.

Smiling at him, they both did as they were told, unaware of the fact that Daniel was hiding something.

Jack woke with a groan. His ass was sore. In the night, Daniel had woken him by fucking him. Jack figured his suspicions of the night before were well-founded and he was able to guess what Daniel had bought. Part of him was cross that Daniel would have done that, but the rest of him understood. And he also knew not to say anything. If Daniel was to get over what was going on in his head, then he needed to be left alone. Jack was also aware that Paul had been fucked during the night, too. He'd woken up when he'd felt the bed moving and had seen Paul face down, Daniel lying on top of him and grinding him into the mattress. Neither man would mind, it wasn't as if they couldn't say 'no'.

He turned to see how Daniel looked and realised that he wasn't there, yet again. Paul was the one that was right next to him, the cat in him having sought out the warmth of another body. They were convinced that Paul had been a cat in a previous life; always wanting heat, comfort and as much luxury as he could get away with. Jack reckoned he'd been a dog. All he wanted was a good meal, a nice bed and someone that he could devote his life to - preferably, that someone would devote his life to him, too. They weren't sure what Daniel would have been. Sometimes, he was an enigma, even to his lovers.


The strange noise came from Paul and Jack nearly laughed. Paul had learned to hate mornings nearly as much as Daniel usually did. Which didn't explain why Daniel was up so early these days.

"Hey. How's your ass?" Jack asked with a grin.

Paul tried moving and moaned. "Sore. Yours?"

"Matching," he answered. "Seems like Daniel's gotten over his little 'block', doesn't it?"

Paul nodded, then moved closer to Jack, resting his head on Jack's chest. Jack took his cue and wrapped his arms around him, holding him closer still.

"You okay?" he asked again.

"Hmm. I think I need to tell Daniel something," Paul whispered.


Yawning and stretching, Paul sat up and looked at him.

"I need to go get the films. I know I told Matt I'd get them after our break, but..."

"You want to see them again?"


"That's cool. So, what's the problem?"

Paul shrugged. "I want to go on my own."

Jack looked at him in shock. "Why?"

Again, Paul shrugged. "I don't know. I just need to, Jack." He flopped back down on the bed and stared at the ceiling. "I guess it's because it's really private. Always has been private. I don't mind you guys knowing about it, but this was between Dad, Roy and me. No one else."

Jack thought for a while, understanding him but knowing that Daniel wasn't going to like it.

"Can't we go with you but not to see the films?" he asked.

"It's not worth it, Jack. I'll go there, stay overnight and come home. I have to do this alone. Please, Jack," he begged, looking him in the eye. "Back me up on this one. Please."

Again, Jack thought before answering, then he nodded. "Okay. But you come straight home and then we go off on our vacation, 'kay?"

"Deal. I think we all need to get away from here for a while. I'll arrange everything today."

"Good. Now, up. You're gonna be late for work otherwise. Do yourself a favour though. Don't tell Daniel what you've got in mind until nearer the time. The more time he has to think about it, the more likely he is to get worked up about it."

"Okay," Paul agreed, reluctantly getting out of bed. He winced as his aching muscles reminded him of the night before. He took one look at the butt plug set-up that he had and shook his head. "Gonna give that a miss today," he muttered.

Jack laughed quietly, thanking anyone that would listen that he didn't have to wear them, at least not all the time.

Daniel took the news of Paul's impending departure surprisingly calmly, not even asking 'why' when Paul gently explained that he would need to go alone. Paul had waited a week before telling him, leaving it until breakfast on the last Friday before his holiday from work. He said he would fly back out east overnight and that the bank where the tapes were held in a vault would be open in the morning. He would try to fly back home that day, but they weren't to be surprised if he didn't come home until the Sunday. Daniel just nodded, as if Paul was saying he was popping out to get a newspaper. Jack didn't like Daniel's reaction one bit, knowing that underneath it all, he would be really upset that Paul didn't want him along.

He waited until Paul had gone to work and went to see Daniel who had, naturally, retreated to his study. Although he had finished the urgent translations for the SGC, he still had a pile of work for the dictionary to get through. Taking a mug of coffee as an excuse, Jack knocked on the door and waited for Daniel to open it. Technically, Jack wasn't supposed to step inside the study, as the work was supposed to be classified, but given how much he already knew, it wasn't as if there were any surprises in there. Just in case there were any surprises, however, he knocked rather than used his card, so Daniel would have time to put the data away.

The click of the door alerted Jack to the fact that Daniel had pressed the button and he pushed the door and went in.

"I come bearing gifts," he announced, earning himself a weak smile.

"Thanks, Jack. I need this," Daniel replied, taking the mug and swiftly taking a sip. "That's better," he sighed, putting the mug down. Then, looking up at Jack, he said, "I don't want to talk about it."

Jack laughed, pulled up a chair and sat down. "Come on, Daniel. I know you, remember? No way do you want him to go on his own."

Daniel shrugged. "Not a lot I can do about it, Jack," he said calmly. "He wants to do this. He's a grown man, you know. Perfectly capable of managing for a couple of days."

"I know. I know that all too well," Jack replied, equally calmly. "But I know you, too. He's hurt you, hasn't he?"

"No! Of course he hasn't."


Jack's rebuttal shocked Daniel and he scowled. "I don't have time for this, Jack," he snarled, pointing at his work.

"Yes you do," Jack argued.

"No. I don't." He sounded tired, almost as if he'd been having the same argument with himself.

"Fine. Don't talk about it," Jack snapped. "Let it build up and up until you start thinking irrationally again."

"Jack," Daniel whined. "It's not that."

"No? Then what is it?"

"I..." His voice trailed off and he shook his head. "Can we talk about this later, please?" he pleaded.

Jack's shoulders dropped and he nodded slowly. "Sure. But we're going to talk about it."

All he got from Daniel was a silent nod, so he stood up and walked out of the room.


"I'll be back on Sunday at the latest," Paul said again as he picked up his bag and headed for the door. He'd called a cab rather than have the guys drive him to the airport, another thing which irrationally hurt Daniel.

Daniel knew his feelings weren't sensible, that Paul wasn't setting out to upset him, but it didn't stop the emotions building. He kept his face straight, however, and just put his hand on Paul's arm and pulled him close.

"Be careful," he whispered. "Come home as soon as you can."

"Hey, I have to be back by Sunday," Paul answered. "We have to go shopping on Monday and then it's off for our vacation. Don't know about you guys, but I can't wait to get you alone with no phone, no visitors, no work..." His eyes twinkled at the thought and the others had to agree with him.

Daniel kissed his head, then he let him go. Jack and Paul gave each other a goodbye kiss and then Paul left the house and got into the cab. Daniel retreated to the living room and headed straight for the drinks cabinet.

"Want one?" he asked Jack, hearing him enter the room.

"Sure. Just a small one," Jack replied, wondering what was going to happen now.

He poured them both a whisky, then sat on the sofa next to Jack, picked up the remote and flicked on the news. He said nothing, appearing solely to take in the day's events. Jack watched him, waiting for him to say something - anything - but he didn't. Somehow, he knew it would be like getting blood out of a stone. Looking closer, he saw that Daniel wasn't really paying much attention to the news, either. A story that would normally have him commenting failed to elicit a reaction. So, he was thinking. Jack decided to let him think it out - perhaps then he'd get an answer.


When Daniel got into bed some hours later, wearing the sweats, Jack figured it was time to act.

"Daniel, it's summer. Paul's not here and you're going to have some of the covers. Why are you wearing the sweats again?"

Daniel froze, then reached under the cover, pulled them down and kicked them out of the bed.

"Happy now?" he sniped.

"No," Jack replied with a sigh. "Not really. Talk to me, Daniel. Something's bothering you and I don't know what it is."

"It's nothing."

"Right. Sure," Jack drawled. "And you still suck at lying to me."

He saw a flash of anger radiate through Daniel's body and decided to run with it. Grabbing at him, he pulled him close, almost forcing Daniel to fight back. Daniel struggled to get away from him but Jack wouldn't let him, rolling on him to hold him in one place. Their bodies reacted to the contact, starting to get hard as Jack ground his groin against Daniel's.

"Get off me," Daniel growled.

"Make me," Jack dared, again pushing his cock into Daniel's stomach. He continued to push, Daniel thrusting up in a half-hearted attempt to throw him off. "Come on, make me!" he taunted. "You know you want to. You want to make me give in, don't you?"

"NO! Dammit, I don't!"

Jack sighed and rolled back off him, taking the covers with him. Then he saw what Daniel was hiding and his heart sank.

Daniel lay flat on his back, staring at the ceiling, his body rigid as if in fear. Jack reached down to his legs and stroked the badly marked thighs gently, sighing out loud with sadness.

"Why?" he asked.

"It doesn't matter," Daniel snapped.

"Yes it does," he pushed. "Come on, Daniel. You promised me you wouldn't hide this. I didn't think you'd break your promise."

He could see a battle raging inside Daniel's mind and waited it out, glad for his training and experience which gave him the patience.

"I needed..." Daniel started.

"Danny? What did you need?"


"I get that. I don't get why."

Again there was silence before Daniel spoke, but finally he got the answer he'd been waiting for when Daniel reached into the bedside table and picked up Paul's 'security blanket' - the cock sheath and butt plug set-up that they'd agreed he'd wear whenever he wasn't with Daniel.

"Paul doesn't need me anymore. You don't need me anymore," he said in a whisper. "I feel useless."

"That's crap," Jack shot back. "Of course we need you!"

"No. You don't."

Slowly, he turned onto his side to look at Jack and his eyes pleaded with Jack to believe him.

"You're not in a position where you need me to take control," he said softly. "We knew this would happen, Jack. I'm not blaming you, honestly." Jack wanted to interrupt but Daniel put his finger on Jack's lips. "And now..." he took a deep breath, "Paul doesn't need that of me anymore. You've seen how he is now, ever since his mother and brother came here. He makes his own choices, does his own thing..." He flopped back onto his back and returned to staring at the ceiling. "Don't think that I don't want him to be happy," he said next, his voice strong. "He needs whatever he needs, and his needs have obviously changed. Perhaps he doesn't realise it yet, but he will."

"Ah Daniel," Jack interrupted. "It's not like that. Look, he's having to go through this on his own because of how his mother was with him when he was a kid. He and his dad were close and for now, he wants to be alone with him again. Just for now. You know that the last few weeks at work he's been dealing with cases that he's been working on for months - clearing up before his break and not taking on any more so he won't let any new victims down by him not being there throughout the process. You'll see. When we get back from our vacation, he'll launch himself into new cases and he'll need you in just the same way he always does."

"I don't know," Daniel replied. "You've seen him, Jack. He's different."

Jack had to agree that he did seem to be different, but he couldn't agree that Paul wasn't going to need Daniel anymore.

"What am I going to do, Jack?" Daniel's words came in a whisper, but he heard them clear as a bell.

All he could do was hold him close. "You're not going to cut yourself up," he finally said. "You're going to give yourself time. You're going to give Paul some time. We'll see how he is when he goes back to work and try to decide how we're going to play things then and not before. In the meantime, you're going to give yourself a break. Let this vacation be a proper one, Daniel. You'll lie on the beach, read some books, sleep... maybe we'll even do some scuba diving? You've done that before, haven't you?"

"Yeah. It's been a while, though."

"Same here. I think it would be good fun." He continued in that vein for a while, seducing Daniel with suggestions for their holiday. Seeing Daniel's face soften and some of the tension go, he wrapped his arms around him and held him close. "Don't think that I don't need you, Daniel. I will always need you. Have you any idea how safe you make me feel? How loved?"

"Can't I do that for you?" Daniel asked. "Does it have to be him? Be that side of me?"

"No, it doesn't, Daniel. I told you before, I love both sides to you and I'm happy with whichever one you choose to show me. But..." He took a breath and pulled Daniel as close as he could get him. "You have to know, that Daniel is one hell of a turn on."

There was humour in his voice and Daniel had to look in his eyes to see if he was being teased or not. He wasn't. Jack's eyes spoke of fun, but there was no joke there.

"So, you really like it?" Daniel asked, even though he already knew the answer.

"Well, duh."

"You want to, um, play?"

"I'd say yes, but that would mean we have to get out of bed. Don't know about you, but I'm comfortable here."

"Nothing says we can't play here, Jack," Daniel replied with a grin.

"True, true..." Jack agreed. "So, whatd'ya want to do?"

"Why don't you just lie back and be quiet?" Daniel said. "Let me think of something." A thought struck Daniel at that moment. All it had taken was Jack's admitting that he still needed him and his interest was rekindled. Part of him was depressed at the thought that he needed that need so much, but the rest of him told that part to shut up and enjoy the night.

"I can do that."

Nothing in Jack's body language told Daniel that he wasn't totally at ease with the idea, so he continued. He knelt up, then straddled Jack's thighs, taking care, as usual, to keep his weight off them. He had no toys to hand so he had to improvise.

First, he bent over and kissed Jack, taking his time and making sure that he covered every part of Jack's face. Jack lay there pacifically, doing nothing in reply but just soaking up the attention being lavished on him. He was a bit put out when Daniel shifted his position and he felt him get off the bed. He knew better than to question him now, though, or else he may bring back the doubt to Daniel's mind. Instead he smiled, to reinforce his comfort. At least he knew why Daniel was so upset, now, and that helped. He also knew that Daniel was right, that Paul had the right to a change of needs, but he didn't think that Paul's needs really were changing. Just put on hold for the moment, that was all.

When Daniel came back from the wardrobe with a couple of ties in his hand, he grinned back at him and raised his hands towards the bedstead. He was so going to enjoy this.

Paul sat on his hotel bed and looked at the phone. He knew he should call Daniel and Jack, but his heart wasn't in it. No, that wasn't true, he scolded himself. He was just tired and maybe... maybe he was a little nervous. Daniel's reaction had been too calm. He hadn't once argued with him about going on his own. Even Jack had argued, but all Paul had got from Daniel had been a shrug. Didn't Daniel care?

"Oh for fuck's sake, Davis," Paul growled to himself. "You're as bad as Daniel for reading too much into a situation. He didn't argue because he didn't want to upset you. You know that. Now, get on that phone and call them up."

He looked at his watch first, realised that where he was it was stupid o'clock in the morning, subtracted the time difference and figured they'd probably be in bed but awake. He also knew he'd be in more trouble if he didn't call them than if he woke them, so he picked up the receiver, asked for an outside line and called home.

The phone rang three times and then he heard a distinctly out-of-breath Daniel answer.


"Hey, Dan. Just wanted to let you know I'm in the hotel."

"Paul, hi," came the answer, Daniel sounding like he was smiling. "Did you have a good trip?"

"Oh yeah. I tell you, I'm flying first-class from now on. Much more leg room."

Daniel laughed back at him and said, "Hold on, let me..." He heard some noises and then Daniel was back again. "You're on speaker now," he said. "Jack's with me."

Paul greeted Jack and asked how the guys were, thinking that they sounded pleased.

"Of course we're pleased," Daniel answered. "You're on the phone."

Paul couldn't help but smile, but he was curious.

"So, why were you so out of breath?" he asked.

He heard laughter come down the receiver and then Jack's voice said, "Because he just fucked me."

"Ah. That would explain it," Paul answered with a grin.

"But..." Daniel interrupted, his voice sly, "Jack hasn't gotten off yet. I was about to do something when you called."

"Don't let me stop you," Paul replied, his voice hitching at the thought of what might come.

"You sure?" Daniel teased. "Don't you want to tell us about your trip?"

"It can wait," Paul insisted, and the men heard the distinctive sound of a zip being undone followed by cloth being moved.

"You think I should do something?" Daniel asked, his voice sounding almost innocent.

"Oh yeah."

"What should I do?"

Paul froze, then he groaned.

"I think you should get Jack off," he replied. "It's only fair."

"You're right," Daniel sighed, grinning maniacally at Jack. "How?"

"What position is he in?" Paul asked, his voice starting to sound a little strangled.

"Flat on his back, his hands are tied to the headboard - oh, I borrowed two of your ties, by the way. Um, hope you don't mind."

A squeaked 'no!' made Daniel smile even more wickedly.

"So? What should I do?"

Paul lay on his back on the bed, having quickly shucked all of his clothes. He shut his eyes and raised his hands above his head, then held on to the headboard behind him. He could see Daniel kneeling above him, could even feel him there.

"Kiss him," he whispered. "All over."

"It'll be my pleasure," Daniel purred.

Jack shuddered as he felt Daniel trail his lips and tongue over his face, his arms, his chest. As Daniel moved, so he spoke, telling Paul just what he was doing and where. Paul knew how it felt and was able to imagine himself in that position. He dropped one of his hands down and trailed his fingers over his skin in the same places that Daniel told him he was kissing Jack. In his mind, he was there, at home, on the bed.

Quiet gasps from Jack reminded Paul that he was there too, and now he imagined the three of them on the bed, both Jack and Daniel kissing him.

"I've finished," Daniel called out, his voice singsonging. "What now?"

"Lift his legs," Paul gasped, raising his own and bending his knees. "Rim him."

Paul heard Daniel laugh as Jack let out a frustrated growl and couldn't help but smile. He trailed his own fingers to his asshole and gently tickled himself, recalling many occasions when he'd been in Jack's exact same position. He didn't want it to end, but after just a minute or so, Jack howled out that he couldn't go on, so Daniel stopped.

"Paul? What now?"

Paul fought to catch his own breath, his senses were on edge - God only knew how bad it was for Jack. He took pity on him.

"Suck him off, Daniel. Let him come. Please."

Daniel paused for a moment, then Paul heard, "Okay."

Quickly, Paul grabbed at a bottle of moisturiser that he had put on the bedside table and covered his hands in it. Using his right hand first, he engulfed his cock with it and pulled down. Then his left hand took over, his right hand letting go and getting ready to take over again. It felt like he was entering into a never-ending wet tunnel.

Jack gave him a running commentary.

"Jeez, he's swallowed me whole, Paul. All of me. His tongue... it's licking me, stroking me."

On and on the description went, Paul seeing exactly what Jack was describing and feeling it.

"Oh fuck," Jack gasped. "Can't hold out..."

Neither could Paul. His cock spurted time and time again as he continued to use both his hands - he didn't want it to stop. In the end, he had no choice. There was nothing left and he was exhausted.


Daniel's voice broke through the sound of panting in the hotel room and he was shaken out of his nearly trancelike state.


"You okay?"

"Whoo ya. Tired."

"Yeah. Us too. Get some sleep, baby. Call us tomorrow."

"Will do. Love you both," he whispered, reaching for the phone to end the call. He heard them both echo his words and put the phone down.

Paul left the bank, a briefcase clutched so tightly in his hand that his knuckles were turning white. To keep it safe, he had a lock and chain attached to both the case and his wrist. His back was rigid as he stood on the side of the pavement while he waited for the cab that the bank had called for him to pull up. It was funny what a large bank account did for a guy. Before, he'd got a courteous enough service, much like anyone else with a bank account in the black. Now, he got the red-carpet treatment. His dad would enjoy the joke, he knew, so he figured he'd make the most of it. He smiled to himself as the bank's guard opened the cab's door for him and wished him a 'nice day'.

He stared out of the cab's window as it made its way down the street and to his hotel. He'd made a decision that he knew that Daniel wouldn't really appreciate, but hell, he had to do it. He needed to see the tapes alone - at least the first time. Daniel would have wanted to be there for him, to hold him and comfort him. He couldn't deal with that.


Sitting on the sofa in his suite, he held the remote control in his hand. Realising that something wasn't right, he looked down and saw that his hand was shaking. He got up and went to the mini bar and poured himself a double Scotch then sat back down and forced himself to flick the TV on to the video channel. His father had only left him VHS tapes for some reason, and one was labelled, "This one first." So, being good at following orders, he'd put that one on. The screen flickered into life and the next thing he saw was his dad, sitting in a high-backed leather armchair facing the camera. It looked like he was in the same room as him.

"Hello son," the long-missed voice rang through the room. "If you're watching this then I'm obviously dead and you're in need of the tapes. This initial statement is to back you up legally. You have my explicit permission to show whomever you deem necessary to protect you. You've got Roy's permission, too. In the case that you were given at the bank you've got an envelope with a lot of papers. There's a signed statement from him along with some other paperwork that may well come in useful. More about that later."

Paul picked up the glass and took a long sip of the whisky, letting his father's words wash over him. It was just like him to get through the legal bits first.

"Anyway, I want to tell you a few things. One, and the most important one, is that I'm so very proud of you. Don't let your mother and brother get you down. Do what you want to do. Live free and happy, just as you seem to be doing while I make this tape. I only wish I'd had the balls to stand up to my parents the way you did. Still, I've been happy. Roy means everything to me - the only person that means more is you. He's kept me sane. I love him so very much and my only true regret is that I was never able to tell the world this. I guess you'll understand that when you meet someone, especially if you stay in the Air Force."

Paul couldn't help but smile as he whispered, "Oh, I know, Dad. I know."

"Down to more practical issues. I had all the cine camera tapes transferred to a few VHS ones. Even now, cine technology seems to be disappearing down the drain - which is a shame if you ask me, but no one ever does."

Paul laughed at that. His father, despite his love of technology, did have a tendency to stick with what he knew.

"I hope you get to use them for memories only, but I get the feeling that if your mother finds out about you when the endowment I've set up for you matures, then you can use them as blackmail material. There are some bits of information about our clients in the envelope, too. If it gets out, not only will they be pilloried in the press, but the firm will probably lose all its clients. No way will Matthew want that to happen. Don't tell them that you have it until you need it. I'm hoping that the tapes will be enough. Your mother is such a prude and so damned old-fashioned that she'd rather die than have the knowledge of my true life getting out. Don't you dare hide when you leave the Air Force. Be loud - be proud. Be everything I couldn't be. Sure, I could have said 'fuck it' and left her, but I'd have lost you and I'd have lost my chance to provide for you. Don't think that I regret that, I don't. I'm proud that I've been able to take care of you. It was my one greatest achievement."

Paul didn't realise it, but tears were running down his face. He couldn't take his eyes off the screen, couldn't stop listening to the voice he'd missed so much. His father spoke a while longer, telling Paul some of the firm's secrets, ways to control his mother... and how much he loved him. When it ended, he ran the tape back and re-watched it. By the time he was ready to fly home, he'd cried himself out.

Daniel had woken that morning a bit more positive than he had been for a while. After breakfast, he'd kissed Jack on the cheek and was now shopping till he dropped for their holiday. Jack had waited at home patiently, at least for a while. After a couple of hours twiddling his thumbs, and hoping for a call from Paul which didn't come, he went to the workshop and started on a special piece he'd been thinking of making for quite some time. An abstract piece which would be a surprise for the guys, but which he hoped would mean as much to them as it meant to him.

His fingers worked the clay, thinning it out to make it as delicate as he could, picking up water to keep the clay moist and malleable. He knew this would be a hard piece to finish and that there would only be a few places that he could stop at, so he'd switched off the phone in the workshop and prayed that there wouldn't be an emergency in the meantime.

He loved doing this, creating something out of his mind. Never in a million years would he have thought of himself as an artist of any sort. Art at school had been a cop-out lesson, a place to dream about flying and stare out of the window. Now he wished he'd paid attention. All of his current skill had been self-taught. Ever since he'd learned the basics during the time loop adventure, he'd secretly got books out of the library and from the Internet about creating in clay. Despite his professed lack of 'book learning', he had the ability to absorb information quite easily, a legacy from his flying days when he had to learn complex flight plans and commit them to memory immediately. So now, he had a huge store of information in his head - not that he'd admit it to the guys. He liked the thought that they believed that he learned everything from trial and error. But things like kiln temperatures, clay types for different items and glazes for different finishes really needed information from other sources.

He smiled as he watched the clay form the beginning of his dream image. A long twist of clay rose from a thicker base as if it was a new branch from the stump of a cut down tree. Carefully, he shaped it to the way he wanted it, imagining it as it would be when it was complete and glazed. After a considerable amount of time, that single strand was ready and he started work on the next one.


Daniel had to swallow down a giggle as he shopped. The excitement of the coming holiday was building and he couldn't help it. Apart from trips to the cabin, they hadn't had a proper planned break together before, and somehow, the cabin didn't count. That was their normal form of escape, and it was one that they loved. Over the past few years, they'd worked on it, extended it and made it more comfortable, but it reminded Jack too much of his time in the Air Force and his enforced breaks there as he ran from his nightmares, so occasionally, he didn't relax as much as he should have. The weekend in Chicago, and other spontaneous city breaks that they'd had, hadn't given him time to get excited. This time was different. He had to plan - they'd all planned their needs for the next few weeks over the past days. Paul had decided to push the boat well and truly out. They were going to a Caribbean island, a private one. A beautiful villa awaited them and they would be free from any contact. No worries - no past ready to jump up and bite them. All they had to do was laze on the stunning beach and play in the water. Not only that, but Paul had arranged for a private jet to take them all the way to Barbados where they would get a seaplane which would take them to the island. No waiting at check-ins, no losing their baggage at the airport. Even customs would come to them instead of the other way around. He figured he could get used to that sort of lifestyle.

He wasn't buying clothes, they'd arranged a 'beachwear trip' for Monday, and besides, he knew that Paul would want to pick his own. Jack wouldn't care one way or the other. Instead, he was getting other things, like scuba diving equipment. He'd done a course many years before, before spending a season on a marine archaeological dig. Paul had learned with his father as a child and Jack had surprised them by telling them that he'd qualified when he was in special ops. Apparently one, unspoken of, assignment had made it necessary.

The sun shone, reflecting Daniel's happy mood. He strolled down the street towards his goal. He was detouring to another shop to pick up something which he'd arranged a good few weeks before.

Dizzy had a friend who was a jewellery designer and Daniel had commissioned her to make two different designs, the first of which was ready. Just in time, he thought. He would give them to the guys when Paul came home.

Reaching his destination, he stepped inside the tiny shop. Most of the jewellery was in non-precious metals and stones, with daring, abstract designs. But what he'd requested of her was different.

"Lisa," he called out as he entered the apparently empty shop.

A short woman rose from behind a counter, looking a bit dusty.

"Daniel! Hey, honey. They're ready."

"Great. What have you been up to? You're covered in dust."

"Oh, just dropped a stone, that's all. Damned thing has disappeared into the shadows. I'll find it soon. Now, where are they...? Ah yes, in here."

Daniel chuckled quietly. When he'd met her originally, he'd immediately been taken with her. She seemed more dizzy than her friend, yet her imagination seemed unbounded. There was something infectious about her spirit which had inspired him to ask her to make the items for him. He knew she wouldn't judge him when she understood the significance.

He stood in front of the counter, his cheque book in his hand. After a few moments, she placed three boxes in front of him, opening them one after the other. Each one contained an identical signet ring, except for one thing. One was made of yellow-gold, another of rose-gold and the last of white-gold. On the top was a design on a black onyx base of the BDSM crowd's tripartite design, each of the sections in one of the gold colours. Daniel had chosen each colour to represent each one of them, and for his own reasons. He knew he'd have to explain it to them and he hoped they'd understand.

"Perfect," he whispered, picking one of them up. In the 'eye' of each segment was a tiny jewel; a sapphire for Daniel's colour, an emerald for Paul's and a diamond for Jack's. He hadn't been able to think of a brown jewel and he didn't think that would look good anyway. Besides, he had another reason for choosing a diamond, which he would explain along with the gold colours. "Thank you."

"Hey, it was my pleasure. They look simple enough, but you can believe me when I say they were tricky to do, especially as you wanted them all absolutely identical."

"That was important to me," he murmured, unable to take his eyes off the fantastic craftsmanship. "You did it. Thank you," he repeated.

"Just wait till you see the bill," she teased.

He shook his head. "It'll be worth every penny, I'm sure."


A few minutes later, he headed back to his car, the rings in his pocket and hundreds of dollars poorer. He didn't care. He felt he'd needed to do this as soon as he'd got the idea. He only prayed the guys would get what had driven him to do it - and for the 'follow-up present' they'd get in the future.

Paul was a bit nervous on the way home in the cab. He knew that Daniel would be anxious to make sure he was okay, but he wasn't up to being fussed over. Daniel had a habit of mothering him at times, and whereas he appreciated the care and concern, sometimes he couldn't cope with it. He'd rather a session in the playroom. Perhaps he could direct Daniel down there? Jack would go with the flow, he always did. He got Paul's need to be left alone to stew from time to time in a way Daniel didn't - which was odd, as Daniel liked to be alone occasionally. He smiled to himself as the driver took him up the final road to the house. Daniel would worry that he wasn't being as caring as he thought he should be if he left them alone, that was all.

Finally, he was there. The flight had taken an age and he was exhausted. It was late, past dinner time, but he'd called Jack as soon as he'd landed and discovered that they hadn't eaten yet. That was good, they could talk over dinner.

The car drew up at the gate, but rather than have the guys open it for him, he got out, grabbed his bag, paid the cab driver and tapped in the code to the electronic lock. Hearing the click, he pushed it open and walked through, making sure it was locked again before leaving it. The security they'd set up allowed them a sense of peace they hadn't had before, as if it meant they were able to shut out the world.

The walk up the drive wasn't long and he soon found himself, key in hand, at the door. Praying that the guys would be okay, he unlocked it and stepped in.

"Oh Lucy!" he called, aping Jack's favourite greeting. "I'm home!"

There was silence for a moment, then the next thing he knew was that he was pinned to the wall with Daniel's mouth firmly clamped to his. He dropped his bag and wrapped his arms around him, loving the feeling of the warmth that grew with their body contact. Their tongues teased each other and both men smiled as their lips caressed. Eventually they broke apart.

"Now, that's what I call a welcome home," he purred.

Daniel beamed back at him and whispered, "Missed you. I'm glad you're back," and moved to kiss him again.

He was interrupted by a loud cough.

"Hey! Don't I get a turn?" Jack complained.

Daniel rolled his eyes as he stepped back. "Yeah, yeah, spoil my fun why don't you. I'll just go finish dinner."

Jack picked up Paul's bag and indicated that he should follow him into the bedroom. In there, Jack pulled him into his arms and gave him a much gentler, but equally warm kiss.

"You okay?" he asked quietly.

"Yeah. I've got what I wanted," Paul answered. "I watched one tape, but it wasn't what I thought it would be. Er, I'll tell you both about it over dinner. No point in going over it twice."

"Okay. Look, before you go out there..." Jack whispered. "You should know that there was a very good reason for Daniel to be wearing those sweats all the time."

Paul's face fell. "He didn't?"

"He did. It's over now, he's happy again. Don't make a fuss. I just wanted you to know so you wouldn't be shocked, that's all."

Paul nodded slowly in understanding. "What brought it on?"

Jack wasn't sure how he should answer that, afraid that Paul would go on a guilt trip of his own. He just shrugged. "I guess the last few weeks have been a bit of an upset to the status quo. He's focussing on the vacation now though, so..." He waved his hand in a 'forget it' manner, hoping that Paul would do just that.

"Okay," Paul agreed, worried about Daniel's motives this time but unwilling to upset him again by mentioning it. He'd leave that up to Daniel. If he wanted to talk, then they'd talk. If he didn't, they wouldn't. Now all he had to do was convince his conscience to drop the subject.

They went into the kitchen where Daniel was dishing up the dinner and they sat, ready to tuck in as soon as Daniel was sitting, too.

"So, how was the flight?" Jack prompted, deciding to pick a nice neutral subject to talk about.

"Lovely, but tiring. You really do get a first-class service," Paul answered with a grin. "More or less whatever you want. The meal was delicious - and not too much of it, either. I hate feeling bloated when I'm flying."

Jack started to laugh at that image and he realised he had two pairs of curious eyes looking at him.

"Ah. Well, I was in a two-seater jet once, and had literally been scrambled out of the blue. Unfortunately, I'd drunk a whole load of coke before take-off."

Daniel picked up his fork and scooped up some food, waving his knife in a 'go on' manner.

"Let's just say I started to feel uncomfortable as we got higher and was shifting about so much in my seat that my co-pilot yelled at me, wondering if I had an itch or something that the doc should know about."

"How did you answer him?" Paul asked, grinning at the image in his mind.

"I didn't. My ass did. One long, loud fart."

The men laughed out loud - secretly grateful that they hadn't been the co-pilot.

"Just as well you had oxygen masks on," Paul sniggered.

"Absolutely. But he still said he didn't want to fly with me again for some reason."

"That probably had more to do with your flying than your farting," Daniel teased. Then, before Jack could answer, he turned to Paul. "So... the trip? Are you okay?" he asked tentatively.

Paul nodded a bit more enthusiastically than they would have expected.

"Dad left me some interesting things in that vault," he said, taking his time to speak as he finished his meal. "He put all the tapes onto a few video cassettes and made another tape where he left a message for me."

Daniel and Jack immediately reached across the table and put their hands on his arms.

"You okay?" Daniel asked gently.

"Fine. Honestly. I took the case he'd left for me to the hotel room and watched the one he'd indicated I should see. He told me some wonderful things," he said quietly, with a small smile on his face. "He also gave me some tips on how to deal with Mother if she doesn't back down. Oh, and some salacious gossip and information on the underhand dealings of some of the firm's clients which they don't officially know about, but the clients know they do, if you see what I mean. Dad said that if the info got out from me, it would ruin the firm. No way will Mother or Matthew fight me when they know what I know."

Both Daniel and Jack raised their beer bottles and toasted Paul's dad's foresight, then Daniel asked, "Did you watch any of the other tapes?"

Paul shook his head. "No. Not yet. I'm not sure if I will. Maybe one day, but..." He shrugged his shoulders. "I'm not ready to, just yet. When we come home from vacation, I might be."

"Only when you're ready, Paul," Jack agreed. "If you want me to transfer them to a CD for Matthew, so you don't have to see them, then let me know."

Paul smiled in thanks and then sat back in his chair.

"Thanks for that," he said, both to Jack for his offer and to Daniel for dinner. "It was just what I needed."

A comfortable silence fell for a few minutes, then Daniel said, "At the risk of sounding sappy, I've got something for you guys. Um, forgive me if I do lapse into moments of sappiness. I can assure you that normal service will be resumed as soon as possible."

They both laughed and agreed to forgive him, curious as to what he had in mind now.

He left the room and returned a minute later, something in his hands and a nervous smile on his face. He sat back in his seat and placed three small jewellery boxes in front of him. Peeking inside each box, he found the ones he wanted and closed them again, then passed a box to each man.

"If this is some sort of nipple ring, I'm telling ya, I'm not having that done," Jack said with a grin.

"Damn," Daniel laughed. "Foiled again."

He watched anxiously as they opened the boxes, relaxing a little when their faces broke out into genuine smiles.

"Dan? What are these for?" Paul asked, his voice containing a touch of awe at the workmanship involved.

Daniel took out his own ring and showed it to them before slipping it on to the little finger of his right hand. They did the same with their own, unsurprised when they fitted perfectly.

"I had an idea a while back. This is the first part of it. You'll see the second when it's ready," he added with a mischievous smirk. "I just wanted something that described us. So many people think that their relationship is the only way to live their lives. It's hard for any relationship outside the norm to be accepted. There is no way of registering a triad... even among the more, well, fringe lifestyles we're seen as odd. You can buy pictures of two people - straight or gay - which can represent a couple, but finding something that could represent us isn't easy. Add to that our more... um... different way of living... well, you see what I'm getting at."

They both nodded in reply, still staring at the rings on their fingers.

"Why the different colours, Daniel?" Jack asked. "I see that they have identical designs, but we all have different colours."

"I figured that each colour could represent each one of us. There are four fairly common colours of gold, but I don't really like the green one," he added with a shrug. "I gave you the yellow-gold because it's the standard. Um, that's not meant as an insult, by the way," he chuckled. "If you notice, in the segment with the yellow-gold in the design, you'll see that there's a diamond. The other colours... well, emerald for Paul's eyes, sapphire for mine... but there isn't a suitable brown stone for you. But I thought that the diamond represented you better, just like the yellow-gold. It's a constant. Always there. Less exotic, maybe, but reliable and..." he ducked his head a little and looked up over his glasses a tad shyly. "Well, desirable."

Jack burst out laughing, but he was very complimented by the words.

"Not only that, diamonds are the hardest natural substance and seein' as you've got the rep for being the hard man in this relationship, I thought of you."

Jack reached over the table and took Daniel's hand in his.

"Thank you. It means a hell of a lot to me, Daniel. It's very beautiful. Who made it?"

"Lisa. You know, Dizzy's ditzy friend."

"I remember her," Paul chuckled. "She's completely batty."

"True, but she made all of these by hand. She just concentrates on her work, that's all."

Paul looked slyly at Jack and they both smothered a grin. Daniel saw it and smacked Jack's hand.

"I'm not that bad!" he complained.

"No, of course you're not," Paul soothed, then he changed the subject back. "So, why do I get the pink one. You tryin' to say somethin'?" he drawled.

"It's rose, not pink. More red, anyway. And yes, I'm trying to say something, but not what you think."

"Go on, I'm all ears."

"Weird," Jack teased. "I thought you looked odd."

Paul poked him, getting a call of "Children! Behave!" from a laughing Daniel.

"So? Why pi... rose?" Paul prompted.

"This is going to sound odd," Daniel started, "but it makes sense to me. You see, if you hadn't been a part of this relationship, of me, I'm not sure I'd have had the courage to have made a move on Jack. And if I had had the courage, to be honest, I think that Jack and I would have settled into a 'comfortable' routine by now." He looked at Jack for agreement or disagreement, but all he got was confusion. "I don't mean that in a bad way, Jack. You and I, we know each other in a way most people never get to know each other. I know how you will react to pretty much anything, you know the same about me. I know your likes and dislikes, you know mine. Without Paul here, I don't think I'd push you to accept anything new - I'd have gone for the 'quiet' life."

Jack nodded, understanding what Daniel was getting at. The quiet life wasn't necessarily dull, neither was it dire. In some ways, it could be a good thing. But then he thought of all the new things he'd done over the past few years and grinned. The very real possibility that he wouldn't have tried those things would have led to a pretty predictable life. He preferred the new.

"I get it, Daniel," he answered.

"Good. Like I said, it wouldn't have been a bad thing, but I really think that this life we have is much better. Without Paul, we wouldn't have it. So, to me, whereas you are the stability in my life - something that I need more than I'd usually admit to - Paul, is the lifeblood. Which is why I chose the reddest gold she had."

He looked at Paul and prayed he'd see acceptance in his eyes. He was surprised to see a few tears.

"Paul? Oh God, I've fucked up again, haven't I?" he whispered, suddenly tensing as if he was about to run.

Paul was up and out of his chair in moments and he grabbed Daniel's head between his hands.

"No! Dammit, Daniel, stop blaming yourself for everything! No, I'm just stunned, that's all. No one's ever thought of me like that. I don't think I've ever been more highly complimented in my life. I'm not upset, I promise."

"Thank God," Daniel whispered. "I was scared I'd get my explanation wrong, that it wouldn't come out right. I don't want you thinking that you're not there for me, or Jack thinking that he doesn't inspire me, it's not true."

"We get it, Danny," Jack soothed. "Honestly, we get it." He paused for a moment, then asked slightly wickedly, "Why white-gold for you? You're not suggesting some sort of innocence, are you?"

Daniel burst out laughing, and after picking one of Paul's hands from his face, he turned it and kissed the palm before shrugging.

"Like I said, Jack, I don't like the green shade very much."

"It suits you," Paul said, sitting back down.

They looked at him in confusion and waited for him to continue.

"You're three things - three people. White-gold can look like silver or platinum, depending on your viewpoint. Some people will see it as silver, some - probably the richer ones - will see it as platinum, when all the while it's gold."

"Paul? I, er, don't really get it," Daniel said in confusion.

"I do," Jack countered. "You let most of the world see one Daniel Jackson. They see a quiet man, intelligent, sometimes passionate about his subject to the point where he boils over, but for the most part, they see an even-tempered, friendly, highly brilliant but unassuming man. Then there's the other you. The dom. The strong, decisive one. The one that will tear anyone apart if they even have the potential to hurt us. You let some people see that side of you. Not so much silver as quicksilver - a bit of a mercurial temperament. The truth lies somewhere in-between. Only the two of us see the true Daniel Jackson, yet neither of the other two aren't you.

"Wow," Daniel gasped. "I, er, hadn't thought of that."

"You wouldn't," Paul shrugged. "But we do." He smiled broadly and said, "I think we should celebrate."

"What, more champagne?" Daniel asked, feigning shock. "Surely after the last hangover you'd have been put off that."

Paul laughed and shook his head. "No, I was thinking of something else. Maybe, er, play a game or something."

"Or something?" Daniel asked, grinning widely.

"Something," Paul blinked innocently. "Jack? You up for a game of Scrabble?"

"If we're going to play it downstairs, then I sure am," Jack agreed. "Danny?"

"I'm up for it. I'm so 'up' for it." He stood up and started to clear away the dishes. As he did, he said, "I want you two to go and rest for about fifteen minutes. When you have, get undressed, go shower." He thought for a moment, then said, "Jack, are you okay to do something a bit, well, energetic?"

Jack hid his surprise, then said, "Sure. I'm feeling good today. The warm weather helps."

"Great. Prepare yourself for me. You won't need to, Paul. I've got something else planned for you."

"Oh? You going to let on?"

"No, not yet. Let's just say that Jack does inspire me and I'll need you to be a 'rock' and leave it at that."

They retired to the bedroom and lay on the bed, resting their bodies for the prescribed time. Meanwhile, Daniel moved around, going downstairs and putting things to hand for later. When the men were in the shower, he returned to the bedroom and put out a pair of Paul's leather trousers on the bed, no clothes for Jack except a long T-shirt, and both their collars and wrist and ankle bands. He took some clothes for himself and retired to the spare room to get changed.

When the men returned to the bedroom, they looked at what he had left for them and Paul grinned.

"I think that you are going to get fisted, Jack."

"Nah, I don't think so. He's up to something else, I'm sure. Whatever it is, it'll be fun."

"That I don't doubt," Paul agreed. "Hurry up, I can't wait to find out."

Entering the playroom, the men were excited and not a little nervous about what was to come - a normal state of mind when starting a scene. Both of them loved the rush of adrenaline that came with stepping through the door, a feeling that could so easily become addictive.

Daniel stood in front of them and their IQs dropped directly to their groins. In tight, black leather pants, barefooted, he wore no shirt but had a tight, black leather waistcoat on instead, unbuttoned except for the middle button, leaving his nipples and navel exposed. His contacts were in and his hair was pulled back off his face, showing off the earrings he wore. All of the jewellery he wore caught in the lowered light and the men were unable to take their eyes off him.

"Jack, come here," he ordered quietly.

Swallowing harshly, Jack followed his orders and was by Daniel's side in a second. He swallowed again when Daniel looked him up and down deliberately, as if inspecting a new purchase.

"Are you sure your legs are okay?" he asked.

Jack nodded as he spoke. "They're fine. Honestly, Daniel."

Instead of answering that statement, Daniel smirked and asked, "How's your ass?"

He grinned even wider when Jack visually shuddered at that question.

"It's good," Jack gasped. "I've been wearing that wide plug you gave me this week."

"You like that, don't you?" Daniel purred.

"God, yes."

"Good. You've taken it out?"

"When I got myself ready for you."

"Excellent. I think you need to rest for a while. Come here."

Jack followed Daniel to the manacles on the wall and held back the gulp that threatened in his throat. Wordlessly, he stood in position and raised his arms. Daniel had him attached to them in next to no time, then he stood back and admired his work.

"Something's not quite... ah yeah. I know."

He lifted the bottom of Jack's long T-shirt and took it over Jack's vertical erection, dropping the material behind it as if it were a hook. Bending down, he took the head of Jack's cock into his mouth and suckled for a little while, like a kid with a lollipop. Jack didn't know whether to be happy or annoyed when he stopped.

"Hang on here," Daniel said. "Oh, you have no option, do you?" he teased before turning on Paul. "Now, what am I going to do with you?"

The phrase, "Any fucking thing you like," rattled through Paul's brain, but he kept his mouth well and truly shut.

Daniel smiled, then he led him to the jointed table.

"You are not going to have to do any work tonight," he murmured. "Frankly, all I need is your dick. So whatever you do, don't come till I tell you to."

Paul nodded as he sat on the table, willingly placing his arms and legs into just the right spots for Daniel to attach him to it. His trousers felt exceedingly tight across his groin as Daniel leaned over his face to connect his right hand to the table and he got a waft of the leather waistcoat's aroma up his nose. Daniel pulled back slowly, pausing to kiss Paul soundly as his face got into position, before attaching his left hand. Then he moved down Paul's body, taking the nipple ring that was standing proudly from Paul's chest into his mouth and teasing it with his tongue, then licking a stripe down his stomach to the stud that went through the wall of Paul's navel. He twisted it around with his lips, only just backing off in time before Paul exploded.

To let Paul cool off a bit, he moved a bit more manner-of-factly down to his feet and casually attached him there before opening the table into its cross position and tilting the head up ever so slightly. His final act as far as Paul was concerned was to go back to Paul's groin. He undid the fly buttons, Paul's cock springing out in relief, like a greyhound out of the traps. He picked up a thin strip of leather that he'd placed ready beforehand and gave an almost - but not quite - sad smile as he looked back at Paul's face.

"Sorry, but I need to..."

Without explaining further, he grabbed at Paul's balls and squeezed them tightly enough for him to lose his erection. Paul gritted his teeth as the fleeting pain seemed to rack his groin, then pass but leave a buzz like the final aftershocks after an earthquake. He didn't really notice Daniel winding the thong around his balls, making them stand out individually, and then around the base of his shaft. He did notice when Daniel ducked his head and sucked him back to hardness.

"That's it. You stay like that for me, there's a good pet." He pulled the flaps of the trousers back around Paul's cock and balls, doing up the fly buttons where possible and making it so that the only skin below his waistband to show was what was bound in the leather thongs. Then he turned his back on Paul and returned to Jack.

"Do you remember..." he started, picking up the cloth flogger in his left hand and raising Jack's T-shirt up until it came off over his head, yet was still on his arms, adding to the sense of being bound. "Do you remember when I went to LA to be with Paul and you phoned up with the most amazing fantasy?"

Jack shut his eyes and tried to cast his mind back. He had a feeling that it would be in his interests to remember it, but to his extreme annoyance, he couldn't.

"No," he gasped. "I remember you gone, of course. But not what I said."

"Just as well I do then, isn't it?"

Jack said nothing, he just kept his eyes shut, hoping to jog some sort of memory to give him a clue as to what he was being taken into.

A slap with the flogger shook him out of reminiscing and he concentrated instead on the pleasant sting. After a few slaps with it, Daniel said, "As I seem to remember, we were supposed to be recording this and then showing it to Mo, Si and the gang. They see you, tied up like this, me slapping you until I finally let you come. As they watch us, they start to fuck and jerk off."

Jack let out a low groan. He remembered. Did Daniel mean he was going to get all of that fantasy? That was why he was checking to see if Jack's legs were okay.

"Remember now?" Daniel prompted, continuing with the flogger for a while, then changing tack. Noticing Jack's eyes were still closed, he swapped 'tools'.

"I remember," Jack gasped.

"Are you up for that?"

"Yes." The word came out before his brain could stop it, his hormones speaking on his behalf. Like that was the first time that had happened, he thought. A sudden sharp sting had his eyes open and a yelp coming from him in a second. "What the fuck?"

He looked at Daniel and saw him with the riding crop in his hand.

"I thought I'd change the script a bit," Daniel said, almost innocently. He brought the crop down on him again and Jack saw that only the keeper, the floppy bit of leather at the end, was making any contact on him at all. It was more shock than hurt that had made him yell. The second time, he kept quiet.

His dick was throbbing and tingling at the same time as Daniel placed careful strokes along it, sometimes running the rough plaited leather of the main body of the crop along the shaft before allowing a quick flick of the wrist to cause a slap to make contact.

All Jack knew was the sensations concentrated on his groin. He stung, he throbbed, he tingled, he ached. He wanted it to go on for ever and stop immediately. Daniel watched him in-between slaps, gauging the length of time he could go on before he had to stop or let Jack come. When Jack dropped his head, his eyes shut, a sense of exhaustion coming over him, Daniel whispered, "One more, Jack. One more and you come." He flicked the crop gently and Jack came.

Daniel watched as the semen spurted without any more encouragement, covering Jack's stomach and dripping down his legs. He waited until Jack was finished, picked up a cloth and cleaned him up, then undid the manacles, catching Jack in his arms as he fell from the wall, placing his T-shirt back over his body properly again.

"You okay?" he asked softly.

"Oh yeah. Incredible."

"You want to go on?"

Jack thought for a second and then nodded.

"Please. I need to try... to see..."

"I know. Come on, I'll bet Paul's getting lonely over there."

They arrived at Paul's side and Daniel saw that he wasn't quite as hard as he'd been, which was probably just as well. Paul's eyes were shut, and for a moment, Daniel wondered if Paul was asleep. To double-check, he wrapped his long fingers around Paul's cock and stroked him firmly. Paul soon opened his eyes.

"'M awake," he mumbled.

"Just checking. You looked very relaxed."

"I am. Love being like this. Feel safe."

"You are, pet. Very safe."

Daniel kicked a small step next to the table and indicated to Jack to step on it. From there, he helped him get up to kneel on the table, astride Paul's waist.

"Bend down and kiss him," Daniel told Jack, picking up the lube he usually used for fisting. As Jack bent over, Daniel dipped his fingers in the tub and gently but firmly pushed one finger inside him, swiftly followed by a second. He stretched him and lubed him up, then plastered Paul's cock with the same efficiency. He positioned Jack and instructed him to sit, watching Paul's cock disappear inside Jack with a fascination he usually reserved for a translation or new find. As soon as Jack was all the way down, he said, "Stop, wait there."

Again he moved Jack's T-shirt partly over his head, this time from the back, allowing him to see all the bare skin, and more to the point, allowing him access to it. Paul's hips twitched, urging Daniel to let them continue, but he wouldn't. He trailed kisses down Jack's spine, licking the small of Jack's back and then following the crack and down to his asshole. Both men gasped when they felt his tongue push slightly inside, the movement of it driving them nuts. He didn't torture them for long, though, knowing he didn't dare. Instead, he worked his way back up Jack's spine until he reached Jack's neck.

Without telling them what he was going to do, he covered himself with lube and put some more on his fingers.

"Jack, move slowly," he urged.

Jack pulled himself up and then started to push down again, but this time, he felt one of Daniel's fingers pushing inside him at the same time. He grunted with the discomfort but carried on.

"Do you want help?" Daniel asked, sensing Jack automatically tighten around his finger.

Jack thought for a moment, then nodded.

"Yeah. Please. Just a bit."

Daniel removed his finger and picked up the bottle of poppers he had on the side of the table. Undoing the lid carefully, he placed it under Jack's nose, noticing an almost immediate change in his body language as he sniffed. Quickly, Daniel put the lid back on and replaced his finger, swiftly followed by another and then another. Jack was riding Paul's cock steadily, acting almost drunkenly and Daniel knew he wouldn't have much time. The next time Jack backed down, he withdrew his fingers and started to push his cock inside him. The only sound from Jack was a moan of both pleasure and a sense of accomplishment. As he took more and more of Daniel inside him, Jack felt incredible, totally connected to both men. He finally saw why Paul had felt so amazing when they'd done this for him. When all of Daniel was inside him, he let out a long 'ye-ah'.

"You feel good?" Daniel asked, fighting for breath as his brain threatened to fry.

"Wonderful," Jack replied.


Paul just laughed, a low filthy chuckle which made both men smile.

"Up to moving?"

Jack replied by raising himself on his knees. Daniel took the opportunity to plaster some more lube on himself and Paul and when Jack was back down - a lot more easily this time - he wrapped his arms around Jack's waist and held him still.

"Don't move," he ordered.

Jack remained where he was and Daniel took over the motion, drawing his hips back and then slamming back inside him. He shut his eyes and rested his head on Jack's shoulder, letting only his lower body move. He set up a steady rhythm, trying not to feel the effects too much, hoping to make it last. Paul's hips jerked up again, involuntarily urging Daniel to speed up, with Daniel's own body reacting to it, wanting to overcome his mind's determination to hold out.

It was inevitable that he couldn't last and neither did Paul, both coming within seconds of each other. Daniel held tightly to Jack, panting hard into his neck as he fought to get his breath back.

"Oh my God," he finally said. "Wow."

"You can say that again," Jack gasped.

"Ditto," panted Paul.

Reluctantly, Daniel pulled out of Jack and helped him get off the table and to a chair on the side of the room, putting his T-shirt back on him properly again.

"Hang on there, I need to untie Paul. I'll get you upstairs soon."

He returned to Paul's side and had him undone in moments, lifting him to sit up and cuddling him for a minute.

"You really okay?"

"Hmm, wonderful."

"Good. Are you up to clearing up while I get Jack up to bed?"

"Sure, I'll see you up there."

Daniel woke to a familiar sight and sensation. Paul lay on one side of him, his head on Daniel's chest, an arm around Daniel's waist, a leg interlocked with Daniel's. Jack lay on his other side, flat on his back but so close that Daniel could feel the heat that radiated from his body. He felt warm and comfortable, a bit horny, but then it was morning. Most of all he felt relaxed. He considered going out for a morning run but dismissed that idea pretty quickly. Fitness be damned, he was where he wanted to be.

In two days' time, he was going to be heading off on the holiday he'd only ever dreamed about, with two guys who would undoubtedly go all-out to enjoy the hell out of themselves. Paul moved a bit and Daniel saw his hand move, the ring on his little finger catching Daniel's eye. Without knowing why, he searched out the ring on Jack's hand, reaching under the cover until he felt Jack's fingers. As soon as he found what he was looking for, he was going to remove his hand, but Jack's fingers closed around his, and he lay there, smiling as Jack held onto him. Paul moved again, looking like he was literally trying to bury himself inside Daniel. All Daniel could do was wrap his arm around Paul and hold him closer still. Giving up on the idea of getting up, he shut his eyes again and fell back to sleep.