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Author's Notes: Appearance by the Jack O'Neill clone from the SG-1 season seven episode Fragile Balance.

Dean's POV:

I can't believe I was stupid enough to actually go to that place, but I needed to expel some energy and I really only had two choices; engage in some bare-knuckle fighting or fuck and feed from Carter. The second option isn't really an option, not at this time at any rate.

If John hadn't called Don who knows what would have happened. Was the raid already scheduled or did Don plan it in order to pull me out? Not that I needed the help. Don's so new to being a vampire that he really wouldn't be much help to me if it came down to it. Most of Don's power currently comes from the guns he has access to, the same type of guns I have access to so that isn't really any help.

On the drive home, I berate myself for giving into one of my baser needs. But if I hadn't, I would have given into the other one, and forcing Carter is not a good idea.

I arrive at my apartment and climb from the truck. Once upstairs, I peel the clothes from my body, letting them lay where they fall. I feel dirty just from having been around that place. All those kids being forced to service Vampires, all the crass bloodsuckers thinking they're so much better than the Humans they feed from...

With a sharp twist of my hand, I turn on the shower and make the water as hot as I can stand; if I want to scrub the filth of that place off me, it needs to be just shy of scalding. Climbing into the tub, I brace my hands on the wall, my head hanging down between my arms and let the water beat down on my neck and shoulders. Praying it'll ease the tension that has settled there, a tension that feels like has always been there.

The restless feeling of the past day intensifies and suddenly I know just what it is my subconscious has been urging me to do. The small voice that lives inside my brain is whispering that I should seek out Carter. I know he's in one of two places: downstairs in the loft or naked in his bed at his house. And the safe bet would be on him being downstairs. It wouldn't take much to slip down the stairs, not the elevator, too difficult to sneak in through the main door because it's next to impossible to keep it from clanging shut. The door to the stairwell can be closed slowly, quietly.

I can see it as vividly as if it's actually happening right now: I'd exit the stairwell, Carter would be sitting at his desk finishing up some paperwork, he'd be wearing those glasses that I find sexy in the extreme. I'd stalk across the floor, push his chair back against the wall, straddle his hips, sink my fangs into his neck, drain him and then bite open my wrist before forcing him to drink from me. I'd then carry him upstairs to my room, lay him on the bed and hold him through his death throes. I'd then fuck him to within an inch of his life while sealing the Bond.

The fantasy is so strong I can taste his blood, and it shocks me with its intensity so much that I involuntarily flinch back, slipping on the wet bottom of the tub and with a thud, I land hard on my ass. The pain is enough to bring me back to myself. I press my head back against the tiled wall behind me and suddenly I realize just why I've been feeling so out of sorts today. I'm fucking lonely, so fucking tired of being alone. I pull my knees to my chest, wrap my arms around them, then bury my face in them before giving over to the emotion that has had me on the edge all damn day. My shoulders shake with the force of my sobs, my screams muffled by my flesh. I've never been much of a crier, not even as a child, and it has nothing to do with being a Highlander from the 9th century. Even Highlanders know that tears are necessary at times, and there is no shame in weeping if the situation is right. No, I just never really cried, although I did shed a tear or two at my parents' funeral, but those were more for the fact that I was officially all alone in the world at the ripe old age of sixteen. Sure I was part of one of the largest Clans in all of Scotland, but I didn't have any blood relatives anymore.

A memory comes unbidden to the forefront of my mind. A memory I haven't thought of in way too long.

Winter is finally on its way out with spring right around the corner. The sun is high in the sky, and I can feel it beating down on my head, making my scalp hot.

For the past several months, I've been trying to work up the courage to enter the fenced off area where The McKinnon and his men practice their skills. Today I've decided is going to be the day I earn my place within this Clan once and for all.

I pull my father's sword from its scabbard, doing my best to ignore just how heavy it is, and, with my head high, make my way across the courtyard to the knot of people watching The McKinnon put his men through their paces.

Once I'm within hearing distance of the crowd, I can make out bits and pieces of conversation. I picked a good day to demand my place because today The McKinnon has issued a challenge to every member of the Clan. None of the people I hear talking about it knows what the challenge is, exactly, but they all seem to be quite excited about it.

The broadsword feels awkward in my hand but I do my best to not let on that I don't know what the fuck I'm doing here. I nervously flip the sword in my hand, testing its weight like I've seen the older men do, though it's a stretch to act like it doesn't weigh so much since I'm limited by how young I am compared to these old warriors. Thankfully my father's sword, while having a wide blade and good reach, isn't as heavy as most others and its guard is more open than that preferred by The McKinnon; I can comfortably hold my grip with both hands, while his hilt is more ornate and almost completely encloses his right hand. Planting my feet shoulder width apart, I stand as straight as I can, shoulders back, chin up, ready to meet any and all comers as fearlessly as I can. I may only be sixteen summers but I just lost my parents a few months ago, and now I have to fight for everything I get, from the pallet I sleep on at night to the food I eat during the day. But here, now, I'm prepared to fight for my future. I have to fight for my future. If I fail to win here today, I could possibly be turned out, left all alone in the world to fend for myself.

"You sure about this, lad?" The man opposite me is about twice my size. His face is sharp and chiseled like granite from a life of fighting for every little thing. His arms are huge and hard from years of swinging a sword, and his eyes glint in the early afternoon sun like emeralds.

A quick nod of my head is the only answer I'll give him. I'm afraid if I speak my voice will betray my nerves. Bad enough that I’m standing here facing such a massive and imposing man, the leader of my Clan, and here I am just a scrawny kid with threadbare clothes and a blade that once belonged to someone else.

"You're just a weak little laddie. There's no way you can hope to defeat me. Might as well go home." He waves his hand at me, urging me to turn tail and run before turning his back on me and laughing with his men. I'm positive I'm the butt of whatever joke was just made, and suddenly my nerves disappear, to be replaced with anger. I have been laughed at time and time again, ever since I came to live here after my parents' funeral. And on my father's grave I swore that I would never let anyone laugh at me again.

"I can defeat you," I snarl, my grip tightening on the hilt of my sword until my fingers ache. "I will defeat you."

He turns back around and the humor is slowly being replaced with irritation. The people gathered around are still chuckling but it's dying down as one by one they realize just what it is I'm fighting for here today. "You're making a big mistake, Dean McGillis. Now go home before you get hurt."

"I have no home!" I scream, the anguish and pain welling up inside, threatening to spill over. "I fight for my place in this Clan per the laws of The McKinnon himself!" A murmur ripples through the crowd at my pronouncement. Never again will I be looked down on by these people; never again will I allow them to make me feel less than I am. I may have been born to the poorest crofter in the Clan, but I am still a member of Clan McKinnon! I have the same right to fight for my place as every other member.

With a roar, I charge him, holding my sword high above my head. I expect him to stay where he is and force me to come to him, but he doesn't. With a battle cry of his own, he races to meet me halfway. We meet in the middle of the area with a clash of swords, the force vibrating down my arm, into my shoulder almost making me drop my sword. Gritting my teeth, I bite back a cry at the pain. I refuse to show any weakness. We grab each other's wrists, each straining to gain some quarter, neither willing to give that quarter. The strain is incredible. We’ve just begun and already my hands ache and sweat starts to run down my forehead but I don't dare let go of his wrist to wipe it away, and I wonder if The McKinnon is starting to sweat yet. I look into his eyes, and instead of sweat I see something there that should make me angry beyond belief but it doesn't. What I see in his eyes isn't mockery but instead a sort of sadness informing me that he will not be fighting me with his full strength. While he won't actually go easy on me, he will find a way to make it more of a fair fight by not giving the fight his all.

Any normal Highlander would be beyond insulted at not being taken seriously, but instead of being angry I'm grateful that he's willing to give me a chance. Of course he knows where I'm coming from, he was orphaned at a young age as well and had to fight his way to where he is now.

We finally manage to push each other back, and I draw first blood when the edge of my sword grazes his cheek. It takes everything within me to not get too cocky. We circle each other slowly, always looking for an opening, and when we spot one we dive for it before our challenger can react. With clangs of steel and flashes of metal our swords clash over and over, each getting in a nick here, a cut there. My father might have died a starving, penniless crofter, but he had also lived as one of The McKinnon's scouts in times of war, and he had done his best to teach me to take care of myself and my mother. Because of the lack of food making him weaker as time went on, he'd started relying more on being smarter instead of stronger, and one of the lessons I'd learned from him in the scant hours he wasn't working the parched fields or going to bed hungry was that if my opponent is faster at finding an opening then I just have to be more patient and put up a better defense. I have to save my strength and wear my opponent down, put them off-balance and then strike when and how they least expect it.

The fight lasts most of the afternoon. When I finally notice, we're both sweating profusely, breathing hard and have lowered the top half of our léinte, baring our chests, and it is with some surprise that I see that the sun has begun to dip below the mountains. Since this isn't a fight to the death, it's actually in good form to back away from each other now and then to wipe our brows and catch our breaths. We show respect for each other and don't strike until the other is ready. While I'm mopping sweat from my head with my ragged léine, The McKinnon is just watching me until I look up at him again. "If we don't hurry this along, lad, we'll be here all night, and I don't want that. Do you?" he taunts, flipping his sword in his hand.

I remain calm like my father taught me and don't let myself be angered by The McKinnon's callous dismissal of me. I can see he's trying to get it over with, either because he's bored, or he's afraid he'll hurt me, but I will not hurry. I will be patient and wait for my opening. In fact, I take one of my father's tricks and try to anger him into making a mistake: I imitate him, tossing my sword into the air and catching it with a dramatic flourish, and then settle my grip again. I can't tell whether he's angry or impressed, and I don't get a chance to think about it, because suddenly he comes at me again and I have to move forward to meet him so the force of his charge doesn't knock me over, and once again our swords tangle above our heads. As our crossed blades press against each other I stare into his eyes once more, but this time I realize with a start that somewhere over the course of the fight he had changed tactics and begun fighting me for real. He was getting tired. I was wearing him down! The knowledge fuels the fire in my belly and with a snarl, I strike how he least expects it: I plant one boot in his belly and kick him away. He stumbles back a few steps, wheezing for a few moments, but doesn't fall. He looks up at me from under his lashes and wipes the dirt from his skin. With a smirk, he beckons me closer.

The fight continues with me now totally intent on ending it sooner rather than later. My strength is waning but I duck under his next sweeping down-sideways swing and strike upwards, not toward the blade but instead against the protective hilt which both guards and traps his hand, and the awkward twisting against his hand is enough to dislodge his grip and knock the sword away. As it spins away in the dust, he falls to his knees in the universal sign of surrender. I place the tip of my sword in the hollow of his throat, my hand tight on the hilt, the heel of the other braced against the knob on the end in preparation of pushing it through and ending his life. I could end this now and take over as The McKinnon, but he is so well loved that I know that if I did, I'd breathe my last just seconds after him.

"Go on, Dean. Finish it," he instructs when he sees me hesitating.

I don't need to kill him now that I've proved my point; I belong in this Clan just as much as anyone else. Sparing his life isn't a sign of weakness but a sign of respect. With a smug grin, I throw my sword point-first into the ground beside us. He throws back his head and laughs. I offer him my hand, and he clasps my wrist, allowing me to pull him to his feet.

Once he's fully upright, he pounds me on the back, almost knocking me over. "Good show, lad. Good show!" He grabs my arm and raises it above my head. "Hear my words, Clan McKinnon! This day have I found the man who will one day be my Second!" I'm suddenly frozen in shock as a great cheer goes up from the crowd.

Confusion reigns. I was merely fighting for my place as one of his warriors. I never thought I could become his Second. Not sure I even want that kind of responsibility. Of course I no longer have any say.

I look around at the people chanting my name and I allow myself to be proud. Finally I have their respect. No longer will they turn their noses up when I walk by, ignore me when I speak. From now on, I will be allowed to dine at the same table, court their daughters, be friends with their sons.

The McKinnon slings one arm around my shoulders and leads me toward the castle. "Tonight we feast, for today you have become a man, Dean McGillis!" I go along easily but suddenly I stop; I've had so little for so long that I can't allow myself to abandon my father's sword, but I'm surprised to see that other warriors of the clan have picked it up as well as The McKinnon's, and as I look to my clan leader in more confusion he gives me a smile that tells me it will be okay, the blade will be cared for and returned to me. It's enough to make my eyes burn, this new knowledge that my plain, battle-worn sword will be serviced by the same men who make blades for the clan's finest warriors. And now, so will I.

Lady McKinnon makes sure I get a dunking to get the worst of the stink and grime off me before she lets me set foot in her house. Of course I'm not the only one that's forced to bathe. The older men take great pleasure in holding me down, stripping me bare and vigorously scrubbing at my skin until I'm almost howling. I would put up more of a fight but they're treating me as one of their own, and besides, I am tired from the battle I fought today. And while I'm being scrubbed, so are my clothes, because by the time I'm allowed to get myself dry I'm being handed my still-damp léine, my old belt with its cracked leather scabbard, and then I am presented with my father's blade. It's been sharpened and polished, and the leather around the grip has been oiled, and as I take it and sheathe it at my side I again have to stop and blink back tears.

Once the lady is satisfied, we're all allowed to sit at the table with me to The McKinnon's right as befits my new station, his wife to his left and the chair to my right empty until I marry. There's venison and mutton and even haggis along with fruit and crusty bread. The wine and ale flow freely. While I've never tasted food so good I can't keep the anger from building inside at the thought that while everyone here is feasting, there are families on the outskirts that are starving to death.

Apparently what I'm feeling shows on my face, because suddenly The McKinnon is leaning toward me. "Speak to me, Dean. As my Second you are one of only a handful of men allowed to speak their mind without fear of retribution."

Swallowing thickly, I try and figure out how best to broach the subject. "The amount of food, Laird. Surely it's too much for the people present."

He nods slowly, his face scrunched in thought. "And so it is. After everyone here has had their fill, the rest will be collected and taken to the poorest families in the morning."

I gape at him. "Seriously, Laird?"

"Yes, Dean. What kind of laird would I be if I ate like this while my people starve? And before you get even angrier, this is a special occasion. We do not eat this well all the time."

"But your people are starving. My parents –" I can't even finish that sentence, the pain of their deaths is still too fresh.

"I gave them food, Dean. I have a feeling they gave most, if not all, of it to you." That sounds like something they'd do. "I want you to know I wanted to attend their funerals but we lost so many this past winter that it just wasn't possible. Who do I insult by not attending? So I decided to not attend any outside my immediate family." He lays his hand on my wrist. "I'm glad your father's lack of skills was not passed down to you, Dean."

His words make sense but I'm still angry and I'm not sure why. Maybe I'm angry because my parents died to make sure I would have enough to eat. I turn back to my plate and force myself to finish the food that is piled on it.

"Why do ye hate him so much, lad?" The McKinnon asks after a moment.

I know exactly who he’s talking about, but I still make myself respectfully answer, "Who, Laird?"

"Your father."

I can't look at him. Something about his voice is quiet and almost sad, and that just makes me angry again. My father had never dealt well with people feeling sorry for him, and I suppose he passed that on to me. "Same reason as everyone else, Laird," I respond stonily, although I'm speaking through gritted teeth. "He was a poor farmer and an even poorer warrior. Even when he did use his sword, he showed no honor and instead used base tricks no true Highlander would stoop to. He didn't even die in battle. Face it, Laird, the name McGillis made him a laughingstock to the entire Clan, and now your Second will be one as well. I'm Dean, son of Bram the sneaking throat-cutter, Bram the clever fool."

A rumbling sigh cuts me off before I continue, and it almost sounds like The McKinnon wants to rub his hand over his face. "Clever fool is right," he mutters. "He didn't ever tell me he wasn't packing enough rations to feed himself whenever I sent him scouting, which almost got him killed more than once. I never liked those tricks he used, either, even if they did keep him alive long enough to come back home. I swear he made his home on the border just to spite me, so I'd have to work that much harder to get to him if I needed him. So he could spend that much longer with you and your mother."

Before I can speak, he suddenly holds up a very big finger and I sit quietly and listen as he says, "I will say this, Dean: I admit that not many liked your father and it was probably because he didn't like a lot of them either, and I was no different. I still don't like him, though I don't feel it right to speak ill of the dead. But I want you to remember these things: he did what he could to come home to you and keep you safe, and he died saving your life, as did your mother, though I know it doesn't really feel like it. I can't say I'll miss him, but if it makes ye feel any better, I'm not happy he's gone, either. My scouts warn me when danger threatens my Clan. Bram and Allina did well to remind me that not all danger brings an army and carries a sword."

I have nothing to say to that, other than to dip my head respectfully and acknowledge his words with a quiet, "Laird." Thankfully he falls silent and leaves me to my stewing in my own thoughts. I know there's wisdom in his words but I can't see it over the anger that still almost blinds me after the funerals. My father's talents were in scouting and not planting vegetables. Even with the famine in our land, even when he became too weak to go scouting and was able to be at home for an entire cycle of tilling and planting and tending and harvesting, I still feel wronged by how he was never able to grow a sufficient crop to feed his own family. And he could never fight properly with the Clan's warriors, always having to resort to lowly tricks like tripping the feet or even throwing dust in the eyes in order to win. It kept him alive, true, but the longer he lived the more his name was mocked for fighting without honor. And now his name was mine and mine alone.

Before long the celebratory atmosphere and a full stomach has my anger receding. Once I've eaten more food in a single sitting than I have for as long as I can remember, The McKinnon surprises me by nudging my shoulder. "How old are you, lad?"

"I've seen sixteen summers, Laird."

"Have you ever lain between a woman's legs, lad?" His question has my face heating up. My parents and I were fairly isolated, what with my father having no talent for reiving, so I'm not used to being asked such personal questions. He laughs. "I'll take that as a no." He looks up and scans the room. "Myra," he calls out to a woman wearing a dress so low cut her breasts are in danger of falling out. When she approaches, I can see that her red hair is plaited in neat rows along her scalp, the ends reaching beyond her waist.

She curtsies when she stops in front of our table. "How may I be of assistance, Laird?" She glances at me and I feel her gaze all the way to my toes.

"Have you met Dean McGillis?" The McKinnon indicates me. "Well then, let me introduce you to my Second. Dean, may I introduce Myra; Myra, Dean McGillis, Second of Clan McKinnon," he says when she shakes her head.

"A pleasure, sir," she murmurs, her voice soft and melodious with what sounds to me like a hint of seduction.

The McKinnon confirms that Myra is the castle light-skirt with his next statement. "Myra here will show you what you need to know about men and women. Go with her and listen to what she has to say." I nod my understanding and stand up. "And Dean?" he calls me back. "Have fun!"

I duck my head to hide my embarrassment and follow Myra from the great hall like a dog after a bitch in heat. Every man, woman and child present knows what Myra and I are leaving to do and the men, and quite a few of the women, shout ribald bits of advice to me. My face is hot enough to start a fire all on its own. I hate being laughed at, all my life people have laughed at me. I just want it to stop.

When we get to Myra's room, she turns to me and she too laughs in my face. I can't contain my anger anymore. "If you're not going to take this seriously –" I growl, turning to leave.

"Master McGillis, please!" she pleads. "I'm sorry. I wasn't laughing at you, really. I find it endearing to meet a man such as you."

"What does that mean?"

"Do you know how long it's been since I was with a man with less experience than me?" I shake my head. "Never. Every single man who has bedded me has been as experienced or more, than me. I find I quite enjoy the thought of being someone's first. And the fact that that someone is The Second of Clan McKinnon, well!" As she speaks, she walks up to me, getting in my personal space. She stands on her toes and wraps her hand in my hair to pull my head down so she can kiss me.

The kiss is all kinds of hot and dirty. She sticks her tongue in my mouth and strokes it along mine. I've never been kissed like this before. Hell, I've never kissed anyone before. I never knew such kisses existed. I start to reach up and put my arms around her like I've seen the men do, but on the way up my hands encounter her ample bosom and I can't seem to let go of them. After a bit, I feel a familiar tingle at the base of my spine and before I can do anything about it, I embarrass myself in the worst way possible.

Wrapping my hands around her wrists, I pull them away from my neck so I can step out of her embrace. Despite not wanting to, I lock eyes with her, praying she doesn't look down. "What we're doing isn't shameful, Master McGillis," she whispers, pressing in closer until I can feel her plump breasts against my chest.

I shake my head and push her back a bit more. "It's not that." I curse the way my voice breaks. It hasn't cracked like that in a couple of years.

"Then what -?" Her brow crinkles in confusion for a moment before understanding dawns. "Oh, Dean," she sighs. "It's nothing to be ashamed of. Happens to men as young as you."

"How would you know?"

"You think I'm the only light-skirt in residence? I just happen to be The McKinnon's favorite. You should consider it an honor for him to offer me to you."

I drop her wrists like I've been burned and pace away from her. "Trust me, I'm very honored but now if you don't mind; I'd rather not be present for when you can no longer hold in your laughter." I place one hand on the door latch.

Her hand on my arm halts me. "I'm not going to laugh, Master McGillis. I meant it when I said it happens to men your age. Sometimes it happens to older men, too." I look over my shoulder at her. "I'd much like to show you about men and women, Master McGillis." She steps back and bows her head in submission.

"I'd like that too. You promise you won't laugh?"

"Of course." She seems surprised that I would doubt her word.

"Very well. First off, stop calling me Master McGillis when we're alone. Dean will be fine." She nods her acceptance. "Second, I really know nothing about this. I've never even kissed a girl before today."

"What about your neighbor girls?"

"Do you not know who my father is – was?"

She closes her eyes in understanding. I have a feeling she'd met my father during one of the few times he'd been invited into the castle after doing some scouting for The McKinnon. She'd known that our croft was so far on the outskirts of the clan territory that we didn't really have neighbors. I also know in my heart that he never took more than two glances at any of the light-skirts, because another thing I learned from my father was that he was very much in love with my mother and never once strayed, because he could never betray her like that. I'm brought out of those thoughts by Myra talking again. "Of course. How foolish of me to forget." When she opens her eyes, the heat in them nearly burns me everywhere it touches and I conveniently forget all about my parents. Reaching out with one delicate hand, she tugs on my belt. "How about you show me what you have under there, hm?"

"You first," I counter, settling all my weight on one foot and crossing my arms over my chest.

"Very well," she replies with a shrug. When her hands move toward her bodice, I notice for the first time that her dress doesn't look like the dresses of the other women. Where their dresses are held closed with leather laces along the side, hers is wrapped around her body and with a couple of flicks of her fingers, it parts down the middle. She shrugs it off her shoulders and I get my first ever look at a fully grown naked woman.

Her breasts are plump and high, her nipples a dusty rose color. Her body is similar in shape to that of my mother's hour glass. Her belly is flat. Between her legs is a nest of hair that is even redder than that on her head. Her legs are long and shapely, her feet tiny and delicate.

I know I'm staring but I can't help it. I never expected to be here. Correction, I fully expected to one day find some lass that would let me bed her, I just never expected to have my first time be with The McKinnon's favored whore.

With a smirk she steps closer. "And now it's your turn," she purrs, slowly undoing my belt.

My sword is still attached so she just kinda lets it fall to the side. She then gathers fistfuls of fabric and ever so slowly begins to pull my léine over my head. She drops it on top of my sword, then kneels at my feet. I feel a moment of panic. What is she doing? But it passes when she merely removes my boots. She clicks her tongue when she discovers I don't have any cloth wrapped around my feet.

"Why don't you have anything to protect your feet?" she asks, gently touching a healing blister.

I involuntarily flinch away from the slight pain of her touch. "There was barely enough money for cloth for a new léine much less enough left over for my feet. Besides, we couldn't afford boots. I went barefoot until Adair brought me here after my parents' funeral." In fact, my mother always started saving for more cloth when she began making my new léine. I had to wear them so long that I once split one down the middle of the back while chopping wood.

She looks up at me from her position on the floor. "And he didn't give you cloth for your feet? I'll have to speak to him," she says, rising gracefully to her feet.

"You will say nothing," I order.

She bows her head in consent. "As you wish." Stepping closer, she runs one finger down my chest. "This topic is ruining the mood, don't you think?" When she's close enough that her naked breasts brush against my chest, she gasps. "Or maybe not," she chuckles. "Big boy," she purrs, taking my hand and leading me to the bed where she pushes me down on it.

I settle on my back in the middle. I've never slept on anything thicker than a simple pallet so the sound of the rope frame creaking under my weight is strange. She doesn't give me time to get comfortable before she plants one knee next to my left hip and swings her other leg over my body so that she's straddling me.

She takes my right hand and curls all but my first two fingers which she directs between her legs. "This is where you'll be putting your prick," she tells me, sticking my fingers up inside her.

My, God! She's wet there. Is she supposed to be wet?

"Hm," she hums removing my fingers. Her tongue peeks out and leaves a trail of moisture along her bottom lip. When she wraps her hand around me, I can't quite bite back the gasp at how hot it is. With a bit of a wiggle, she gets me inside her and my eyes roll back in my head. I've never in my life experienced anything even remotely close to the feeling of a woman's private place wrapped around my prick. It's much hotter and wetter than I expected it to be. And it feels a hell of a lot better than my hand.

She begins to move, grunting and groaning. Myra moves my hands from where they're gripping her waist up to cup her breasts, showing me how she likes them played with. Eventually I shoot my seed within her. I'm not sure if it's too soon or not but before I even have a chance to catch my breath, she shudders and collapses on my chest, tiny tremors wracking her frame.

She has her head tucked under my chin and just when I think she's fallen asleep, I feel her lips press a kiss against the sweat slick skin of my neck. "Mm, Dean. You're going to be breaking hearts all over this castle once the lasses figure out that you know how to use the sword between your legs."

I chuckle, then groan when I slip out of her. "Now what? Do I go back to the great hall to find my pallet?"

She raises her head to look down at me. "I thought you knew."

"Knew, what?"

"This is your room, now. As Second, you get your own quarters."

My own quarters… I've never had my own room, barely had my own pallet, except when my father wanted to bed my mother, since we lived in a one-room shack. Before I can find something to say to that, Myra has my thoughts going off in another direction. "Do you mind if I stay the night? I'm sure The McKinnon won't be requesting my services this evening and I'd rather not have to fight for a pallet in the great hall."

"Of course you can stay," I say, tugging on one braid.

Her smile is blinding. She plants a kiss on my lips. "Thank you, My Lord," she whispers. "I suggest some sleep then we can begin your next lesson." She snuggles down next to me, her head on my shoulder, one arm and leg thrown over my chest.

We get very little actual sleep, but I do learn quite a lot about pleasing a woman in bed.

I'm startled out of my remembrances by a blast of cold water from the showerhead. I spring to my feet and fumble with the knobs. Once I've got the water turned off, I step from the tub and swipe at my wet skin with a towel before tying it around my waist.

My thoughts are chasing themselves around in my head and so it is with some surprise that I find myself staring at a half-packed duffle sitting on my bed. I don't even remember making the decision to go anywhere but I guess my subconscious thinks it's necessary.

"Well, fuck," I mutter. Looks like I'm going on a road trip. I'd better let Carter know so that he knows to not plan on me for the next case.

With a sigh of resignation, I snatch up my phone and hit speed dial two, one is for my voicemail inbox, and extend my hearing just enough to hear the faint sound of his ringtone from downstairs. With a smirk, I tell my subconscious 'told ya'.

"Carter," he barks into the phone on the third ring.

"It's me," I inform him.

"You know what time it is?"

"Yeah, do you?"

"What does that mean?" He's starting to sound irritated.

I rub one hand over my scalp. "Nothing. Look, I called to say that something's come up and I'm going to have to leave town for a bit."

"How long is a bit?"

"Couple of days at least. I'm hoping it won't take longer than that." Please God, don't let it take longer than that.

"I expect a call in exactly four days if it's going to be longer." I can hear him take a deep breath. "You have any idea how much of a pickle this puts me in?"

I squeeze my eyes shut and chew my lip. "Yeah, but it can't be helped. I have to go now. I swear if it could wait, I wouldn't be calling."

"Fine," he grumbles with a sigh. "You're not in any trouble are you?"

A tender smile crosses my face at his concern. "No. Just have something I have to take of now before it becomes a problem. For me, personally, not for the team."

"Alright. But remember, I'm here if you need me." God, does he have any idea how that sounds? Or just how much I actually do need him?

"I'll call if there's anything you can do. Promise."

I hear his soft growl of frustration at my continued refusal to confide in him. "Be careful." And with that he hangs up.

That went much better than I thought it would. I scrub my hand along my scalp and down my neck where I scratch my skin with my nails, grounding myself with the slight pain.

There are only two people I can talk to about the predicament I'm currently in and one of them has too much of a peppy image to give me the answers I need, so it has to be the other one.

With a cold feeling of dread settling in the pit of my stomach, I finish dressing and packing. This is gonna be one hell of a long-ass road trip so I decide to have a snack before I go.

I pull a bag of blood from the hidden refrigerator and get a goblet down from the cabinet. For a brief second I contemplate cutting it open and emptying its contents into the goblet, then decide against it. Popping it in the microwave, I punch the buttons with more force than necessary, heating it for twenty seconds, just long enough to take the chill out of it. When the microwave dings, I remove the bag and viciously bite into it, draining it in seconds.

The blood doesn't even take the edge off my hunger, but then again, I'm fairly sure the only thing that will is feeding from Carter.

Snatching up my duffle, I take the stairs to the garage two and three at a time.

Climbing into my SUV, I point it east, heading toward the one person on this planet I swore I'd never ask for assistance, ever. I rationalize it by telling myself that he's the only one who can help. The fact that it's true doesn't help. At. All.

I break several traffic laws and end up making the trip in an hour less than it really should take, and that's with two stops along the way; one for gas and a quick feeding, and one to check the route to where I'm actually headed once I've arrived in the city proper.

The building I pull up in front of is non-descript with a faux adobe façade that fits in perfectly with the desert motif of this part of town. Of course we are in the middle of the desert so that's how it should be.

I spend a moment sitting in the car trying to find my center. Clenching and unclenching my hands on the wheel, I rehearse what I'm going to say to the man I once told to fuck off and die.

Finally, I can't sit in the car any longer without drawing undo attention, so I slide out from behind the wheel and head inside.

The lobby is exactly as I figured it would be. While this isn't my house, the men and women milling around are my brothers and sisters in arms and everyone whose eyes I meet gives me an almost identical nod of greeting; all of us recognizing another who is also on the job.

"May I help you?" a very pretty brunette sitting behind the receptionist desk asks when I approach.

With my most charming smile in place, I lean on the top of the counter. "Hey, darlin'." I wink, causing her to giggle and blush. "I'm here to see Nick Stokes. Tell him it's Dean Bendis." I give my current legal name in case anyone listening wants to protect Nick by checking up on some stranger who has come calling. And they'll find exactly what I want them to find. Namely, that I'm on the job deep under in LA.

She smiles, picks up the phone and turns to the side to whisper into the phone. I don't listen in, mostly because I already know what she's saying, 'Yeah, Nick. There's some guy here to see you. Says his name's Dean Bendis. Should I just send him away or what?' After the past couple of years that both Nick and Sylum have had, I'd be more concerned if the people he works with weren't a tad protective of him.

The sound of her clearing her throat is my signal that she's done talking to Nick on the phone. "He said if you'd like to have a seat, he'll be right out." She doesn't even finish her sentence before the door to the inner sanctum of the lab opens and Nick walks out.

"Dean!" He has his arms outstretched as if he's expecting a hug. As fucking if. I just raise one brow and take a half-step back. His smile falters a bit but he rallies and lowers his arms, sticking one hand out for me to shake. I take his hand and resist the urge to squeeze, settling for just a simple up and down motion before releasing it. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"

Gritting my teeth so hard that I can feel a muscle jumping in my jaw, I fight the instinct to just turn around and leave. "Call off your watch dogs," I growl.

The shutters come down over his face and I realize my mistake right away. While the casual observer wouldn't be able to tell, someone like me, who has known him for hundreds of years, can tell that I just released Nico Meridius. Fuck! Ignoring his greeting and instead giving him an order on his own territory, what the hell was I thinking?

"We are not having this discussion here. Give me five to finish some paperwork then you can take me to dinner." His voice doesn't even hint at the change in his demeanor.

With a glance out the windows that show the sun is rising, I smirk and ask "Don't you mean breakfast?"

"Do you eat breakfast when you get off after working the graveyard shift?" With a shrug I concede the point. He points at the chairs lining the wall opposite. "Have a seat." And then he's turning to head back behind the door.

"I can't accompany you?" I ask. The glare he throws my way is my answer. "Guess not," I mutter when the door shuts behind him.

"He suggested you have a seat." The receptionist's voice breaks through my musings about the conversation I'm about to have.

"Just drove several hours. Don't really wanna sit right now." She smiles in understanding. "So," I purr, leaning as far over the desk as I can. "What time do you get off?"

She giggles again. "I just started my shift."

"Bummer." I pout. Chances are I won't be in the mood to socialize after my talk with Nick.

"What do you think you're doing?" a familiar voice demands from behind me.

Turning, I find myself face to face with Greg Sanders. A Chosen One of Sylum since before he was born. My eyes widen when I don't hear a heartbeat coming from the young man before me. "Hey, Greggo! Heard about your promotion to field investigator. Congrats, man." I reach out to pat his shoulder but he shies away and that's when I realize that he's angry for some reason.

"Only members of Sylum get to call me that," he snarls softly, too softly for a non-vampire to hear.

"Okay. Sorry, man." I lean back against the desk and cross my arms over my chest.

"I'm gonna ask you one more time –"

With a sigh, I bow my head. What the fuck did I do to piss him off? "Does she belong to him?" I answer his question with one of my own.

"No, but –"

Again I don't let him finish. "Then what's the harm if I flirt a little?"

"She doesn't know."

I get it now. "And you know as well as I do that that's not necessary."

Before Greg can reply to that, Nick comes back out. "You ready, Dean?"

"Yeah," I say at the same time that Greg says "But Nick!"

"Not now, Greg," Nick says softly, patting him on the shoulder as he passes. "Dean and I have a lot to talk about."

Since I don't know who knows about Nick and Sylum, I chose to wait until we're in his truck and headed out to eat before saying anything about Greg. "So, when'd Greg get Turned?"

"About a year ago. His Mate was afraid he was going to start losing his hearing again so I Turned him and then talked him through Turning Greg."

"I always figured you'd be the one to Turn Greg." Considering that Greg has the soul of Nico's youngest son, Theodosius, and what the kid went through growing up, I'm amazed Nick allowed anyone but himself to Turn Greg.

"Yeah, me too," Nick admits, which tells me that he must have some hefty respect for Greg's Mate. Silence reigns for the rest of the drive. I'm just starting to reach my breaking point when he pulls into the parking lot of a diner that looks like it's from the 1950s.

We climb from the truck and head into the restaurant. A hostess in a Poodle skirt and beehive greets us at the door, then leads us to a booth next to the wall of windows. She hands us menus encased in plastic. "What can I get y'all to drink?" she asks, pulling a pencil from her hair and a pad of paper from the pocket of her apron.

"Coffee," we say in perfect unison.

"Pot or cup?"


"Got it." She pops her gum and glides away. I can't help but turn to watch her sashaying hips.

"You are such a horn dog," Nick scolds.

"I swear it wasn't like that. I was just remembering the 50s is all."

"Uh-huh. If you say so."

I bite my tongue to stop from arguing because that won't get me the info I require. "Believe what you want, Nick."

He sighs but doesn't try to continue that topic. "Why're you here, Dean?"

Before I can answer, our waitress arrives with two cups and a pot of coffee. "Y'all ready to order?"

I look at Nick who motions for me to go ahead, if I'm ready. "I'll take four eggs over easy, two slices of toast cut in triangles, six slices of bacon, six sausage links and a large glass of ice cold milk. And by ice cold, I mean I want ice cubes in it."

"You got it, sugar," she says before turning to Nick. "You want your usual, Nick?"

"Yeah, thanks, Bernice."

"Sure thing." She winks at us, collects the menus and walks away. This time I don't watch.

Nick is staring at me, his brows raised. Placing my hands flat on the table, I push back until my elbows are as straight as I can make them and once again try to find my center. "I know I swore I'd never ask for your assistance for anything but…" I blow out a frustrated breath. "I don't know who else to ask." A glance up through my lashes shows that he's not gloating, as I expected he would, but merely listening attentively.

"I've always told you, you need only ask and if it is within my power to do so, I shall help in any way I can." He stacks his hands on top of the table and I notice for the first time that he's wearing the skull ring that Warrick gave him to celebrate the creation of Sylum. "Now, please tell me how I can help."

I don't even know where to begin. I scrub both hands over my scalp, wishing for the first time in years that I had hair I could tug on in my agitation. "Tell me about Warrick," I finally say, hoping he'll know exactly what it is I'm really asking.

He sits back in the booth and frowns at me. But it's not a frown of displeasure, it's a frown of concentration, as if he's trying to figure out where to start. "I met Warrick when he attacked one of my ships in 1723, you know this. You were there."

Damn, here I was hoping I wouldn't have to spell it out for him. "His Turning, Nick. Tell me about that."

"Why? You know that story too, even though you weren't there."

I stack my own hands on top of the table and lean forward, looking down at the stained Formica. "It's Carter. He doesn't believe and even if he did, I'm nearly positive he's straight. How do I tell him that not only am I a Vampire, but that he's my Soul Mate and I refuse to spend eternity abstaining. Or do I just wait for his next life." I haven't felt this lost and alone since my parents died. I know that my situation is nothing like Nick's with Warrick but it's pretty damn close. Close enough that maybe his cautionary tale of Turning Without Consent will help me figure out how to proceed with Carter.

"How long's it been so far?"

He would have to ask me that. "Adair was killed one thousand ninety-nine years ago. I saw him again eighty-nine years later. And then again three years ago."

He nods. "And you're willing to wait another thousand years, maybe longer, because you're what, afraid to tell your L.T. that you're a Vampire because he doesn't believe? Give me a fucking break, Dean. I know you better than that. What's the real reason?"

Damnit! I really hate it when someone is able to read me as well as I can read them. "Carter doesn't do well with the unknown. And finding out that he's been wrong about something? Forget it. I like working on this team, Nick. I enjoy my job and the people I work with. What I'm most afraid of is that Carter will boot my ass to the curb. He didn't want to hire me in the first place."

Nick does me credit by being thoughtfully silent for a moment. "First, you need to find out if he's open to a sexual relationship. I know you and you're right, you won't be able to handle a month of abstaining from your Mate, much less eternity. Once you know that –" he trails off when the waitress brings our food.

"Anything else I can get you boys?"

"Nope, we're good." Nick smiles up at her.

"Alrighty, then." She turns on her heel with a flounce and we both dig into our breakfast/dinner.

"So," Nick says after he's taken several bites of his steak. "As I was saying, once you know for sure he's open to having a sexual relationship with you, you need to tell him about your true nature. I suggest doing it somewhere you feel safe and comfortable and make sure there isn't a bed anywhere near because that'll just distract you. And don't just blurt it out. Find some way to bring it up casually."

Casually, right. I break the yolks on my eggs and dip my toast into it. "That's the thing. How does one casually say 'Oh, by the way, I'm a Vampire who has seen the end and beginning of two millennia' and do I say this before or after I ask if he's sexually attracted to me?"

"That's one I've never had to worry about. You know who you should ask that."

"Yeah, Jean-Luc." I shake my head. "I came to you instead of him because he's too settled into his role as Bonded Mate. And from what I've heard he didn't have to really worry about whether or not his Mate was attracted to him."

"Hm. You have a point. I don't know anyone who has been in the same situation as you. Maybe just start talking about your sexual conquests and let slip some info about one of the men you've fucked."

A sharp twist of my head negates that suggestion. "We're not that close."

Nick sighs, leans back in his seat and crosses his arms over his chest. "You came to me for advice, Dean. Can't help you if you won't take it."

I scrub my hands over my face and resist the urge to get up and walk away; to let my stubborn pride force me to find my own way with Carter. But I'm damn tired of being alone. "I've been alone since I was sixteen, Nick. Even when I was The Second of Clan McKinnon and shared my bed with whichever wench took my fancy, I was alone. The only time I didn't feel alone was when I was with Adair and we weren't allowed to be alone the way I wanted; the way I can be with Carter." I turn to look out the window at the passing cars. "I don't want to have to leave, Nick," I whisper. "I like LA, like working with Carter."

"You said that already," he chuckles, refilling his coffee cup and taking a sip. "What's this really about, Dean? And don't try to give me any of your bullshit."

Glancing at him from the corner of my eye, I fight a grimace. "I… I have no clue how to explain it." The restless feeling is back and I begin bouncing my leg to try and get rid of it.

"You having trouble sitting still?" I nod, leg bouncing even more. He just smiles. "I know what your problem is."

His pronouncement has my eyes opening wide and my head whipping around to stare at his face. "Do you, now?" It's his turn to nod, his grin widening into a smirk. "So spill, already!" I order when he keeps silent.

"That's your instinct telling you that the time is right. That you're supposed to turn Carter."

"And if something happens where I can't?"

He shrugs. "As far as I know, no one's never not Turned their mate when they were feeling this way. Except for Byron and you know how that turned out. You have to find a way to tell him, Dean. It's now or never, just about, at this point."

I chew my lip and stare down at my plate, trying to figure out how I'm going to accomplish that.

"Wish I could help ya, Dean, but it's obvious I can't. You can either take my advice or just fumble along on your own." Nothing new there.

My hand is surprisingly steady when I reach for my glass of milk. Draining it, I thump it back down on the tabletop. "Guess so," I say with a resigned sigh, digging back into my breakfast.

Nick clears his throat, warning me that I'm not gonna like what's about to come. "Since I have you here –" he begins.

"I'm not ready to pledge my oath," I interrupt, anger rising.

His brows disappear into his hairline. "That's not what I was going to say, but… good to know."

My shoulders slump. I'm just fucking up left and right lately. "Sorry. Didn't mean to snap."

"Not a problem." He leans forward, hands once again folded on the table. "Now, what I wanted to talk about is why you act like you can't stand me most of the time."

My hand pauses with the coffee cup half-way to my mouth. "You, um, you noticed that?"

"Hard to not notice when someone who's supposed to have your back is glaring daggers at it."

I slowly set the cup back down. "You have to understand where I came from," I start, then falter when I realize he should since his past is similar to mine.

"I do, Dean. I was a slave once, remember?"

"Then you of all people shouldn't be treating me like I'm lower than scum. I understand it from Tony because he's noble born, not that I'll take it from him. I've seen how ye look at me, heard the whispers behind me back. I took th't from th' oth'r members of me clan when I was a bairn but I foug't for th' right to be respected and I'll be damn'd if I'm gonna sit back and let ye and yer 'ruling council' make me feel like I'm nothin'." I'm so agitated that my Scot's burr is coming out in full force. I stop, growl softly and try to get control of my emotions.

"I'm sorry, Dean. I never meant to make you feel less than you are. If Tony wasn't the reincarnated soul of my daughter, I'd've asked you to be my second."

I'm still too pissed off to be shocked or touched by that little olive branch. I lean forward so that no one can overhear when I hiss, "Would have been nice if you'd've told me that back then!"

He has the grace to look chagrined. "You're right. I should have told you my reasons for picking Tony. But damnit, Dean! Every time we argued, you ran off to Ardeth!" he leans forward to hiss right back.

He's right. I did run away like a spoilt child that wasn't getting its way. "I didn't think you wanted me around. You certainly never acted like you wanted me there."

"Again, I'm sorry. What more do you want from me?"

I toss my napkin down on the table and begin to scoot out of the booth. "Not a damn thing. I must have lost my senses to think I could come to you with this."

"Dean." He's out of his side of the booth and standing in front of me before I can even take one step. He places one hand in the center of my chest. "If I've never said it before, let me say it now: I'm very sorry for the way you've been treated in the past. I'd like to go forward from here on better terms. So that maybe, one day, you'll feel like pledging your oath to me and Sylum."

I look down at his hand, resting directly over my heart. "But no pressure, right?" A smile spreads unbidden over my face.

He returns my grin. "How about we finish eating, hm? Get to know each other better?"

We sit back down and dig into our food, once again.

After Bernice clears out plates, he surprises me by asking, "You got any descendants?"

"Didn't think so until a couple of years ago. I was down in Orange County and met this kid. Spitting image of me."

"So how'd that happen?" He takes a bite of the cherry pie Bernice brought him.

"Only thing I can think of is one of the serving wenches from the castle. I remember one that disappeared a coupla months after I tumbled her."

"So, this kid. What's his name?"

"Trey Atwood. Don't know anything about him. It kinda freaked me out, so I just split."

Nick picks up his coffee cup and leans back in the booth. "If ya want, I could –"

"No." I shake my head. "I've done just fine all these centuries not having any blood family. Once I figure out how to Turn Carter, I won't need anything, or anyone, else."

"Okay. Just remember the offer's there."

I nod my thanks and for the first time in forever, I feel like the man truly means it, that he really wants me around and that he might even actually like my company. The rest of the morning is spent reminiscing about our travels together. Only this time there's none of the old bitterness and tons of laughter.

I swallow the darker memories for the moment and pass another few hours with Nick. Eventually he has to head off to bed, so I'm surprised at how reluctant I am to leave Nick's company, but I do. I head on back home, to LA and to Carter.

Despite wanting to get home as quickly as I can, I decide to take my time. When I pull into the garage, a quick glance at the clock on the dash tells me it's been exactly twenty-four hours since I left. That surprise is overridden by the fact that my team's cars are parked in their spots, hidden around in the back of the garage.

The team's presence demands I take the stairs. Carter will be listening for the elevator. Grumbling under my breath, I climb from my truck, grab my bag, slam the door and head for the stairwell. I take them two at a time and enter my apartment, still ticked I had to climb the stairs when I've been awake for close to forty-eight hours.

"He said Tuesday," I mutter, kicking my duffle across the room. I begin removing my clothes and a thought occurs to me; something must have come up. Something that couldn't wait. "Well, too fucking bad. I need sleep and a shower, and not in that order."

Stripping down to nothing, I enter the bathroom and turn on the shower. I take a quick one, mostly just to rinse off the grime of the road, before collapsing face first on my bed and falling instantly asleep.

When I wake, I blink my eyes open to stare at the ceiling. Turning my head to the side, the numbers on my bedside clock tell me I've slept twelve hours. With a groan, I roll from the bed and take another shower, thanking God for whoever decided to update the Roman invention of indoor plumbing. One advantage to having a shaved head, no wet hair to give me away.

After dressing in some clean clothes, I head down the stairs and up the elevator.

Striding across the sunlit space toward Carter's desk, the clanging of the door echoing in my ears, my step falters the tiniest bit. Carter is sitting at his desk going over some papers with those adorable glasses perched on his nose.

He glances up at me over the rims before retuning his gaze to the papers strewn over the surface of his desk. "Wasn't expecting you back for several more days," he says by way of greeting.

Hello to you, too, Carter, I think. "Yeah, well. It didn't take as long as I thought it would." And thank God for small favors.

"Fair enough. But to go and come back in less than forty-eight?"

I give a one-shouldered shrug. "I went to Vegas," I say, then wince internally at the hard look he gives me. Way to go, Dean! Make him think you lied about why you took off. "I swear I went to see a friend about a personal matter. I can give you his name, he works for the crime lab of the LVPD, if you want to check up on me."

"If you say you went to talk to a friend, I believe you," he tells me but somehow I get the feeling he doesn't really but isn't in the mood to go into it now.

"So," I say, clapping my hands together. "Why's everyone here when you said Tuesday?"

"A young girl has gone missing. We've tracked her to a child prostitution ring," Ty speaks up, stepping up to me to hand me a file folder.

I flip it open and am instantly sickened by the age of the girls in question. I may be from a period in history when most girls were married and had their first child by the time they were twelve but I never have been attracted to anyone that young. I prefer my bed partners to be twenty-five at the youngest. Of course if they look like they might be eighteen or younger that's just fine.

"I want you and Ty to enter as clients," Carter says, removing his glasses and rubbing at the bridge of his nose.

"Naw, a client won't ever get close enough to the boss." I shake my head. "What you need is a supplier with a product that the boss can't pass up."

Carter shoots down my suggestion. "We don't have any officers who fit the profile."

"I know someone. He's worked undercover before."

Carter just blinks at me. "I can't let a civilian do this, Dean."

"I'll take full responsibility for him. And trust me when I say that the boss won't be able to not meet him. He's a delicious little morsel." I could bite my tongue for letting that slip. But the look on Carter's face tells me that either he didn't catch my meaning or he's cool with the fact that I sleep with men and women.

"How old is he?"

"Old enough but he looks fifteen."

Carter looks from me to Ty and back. "Alright, here's what we're gonna do; Ty's gonna go in as a client and Dean, you're gonna go in as a supplier. You sure you can get your foot in the door?"

I nod. "I'm sure I can find someone who can get me where I need to be."

"Get to it, then." And with that he dismisses us by replacing his glasses and turning his attention back to the papers on his desk.

Jaimie clears her throat gaining my attention. "When's the last time you ate?"

"Coupla hours ago." By which I mean it's been a coupla days.

She nods, chewing on her lip all thoughtful-like. "Why don't you come into the kitchen with me. I got some sandwich fixings. I can make you one."

"Man ate just a few hours ago, Jaimie. Plus he's a big boy. I'm sure he can make his own sandwich." Carter doesn't even look up.

"I don't mind, Carter. I can give Dean some more info about the case while I fix him something to eat."

Carter just shrugs and I know that that means his attention is no longer on either of us. I share a look with Jaimie and turn to follow her around the partition that separates the main area from the kitchen.

She steps into my arms the instant we're out of Ty and Carter's line of sight. I pick her up and she wraps her legs around my waist. "You really should have worn a skirt," I growl, pressing her back against the wall and slipping one hand up under her shirt. I tug the cup of her bra down and palm her breast. She wraps one hand around the back of my skull and urges me to feed from her.

I lick a stripe up her neck before plunging my fangs into her vein. She shudders and gives a contented sigh, her hips rocking back and forth against mine. Twisting her nipple between my fingers, I make her come apart in my arms much sooner than I usually do, and she whines low in her throat in protest when she realizes I'm cutting it short. Whispering soothing sounds in her ear, I lower her feet to the floor. "Don't have time for a full feeding right now, not with Carter and Ty right out there."

"You're right, of course." I keep my hands on her hips until she's steady on her feet. She slips from my gasp and heads toward the fridge. "So what do you like, mayonnaise or mustard?"


"Roast beef, turkey or ham?" She begins taking items out and placing them on the island in the center of the room.


She blinks at me in surprise. "What, all of them?"


"I…" she stops and clears her throat. "I, uh. Hm. I'm not sure how to –"

"Ask how I can eat if my heart doesn't beat anymore?" She nods. "Here." I take her hand and place it on my chest where my heart is beating, slowly, but still beating. "After each feeding it beats once every minute for about an hour, to help me digest any solid food I've eaten recently. Since I still need to appear Human."

"Oh, okay. That's – that's cool." She snatches her hand back the instant I let go of her wrist. "Anything else on your sandwich?"

"Lettuce, tomato if you got it." I lean against the counter and watch her nimble fingers.

"Want it cut in half?"

"Nope." I snag the sandwich off the counter and take a huge bite while walking back out to the main area.

Carter is still sitting at his desk drowning in paperwork and Ty is sitting at his with his feet up on it, texting someone; Melissa most likely.

I lean against Jaimie's desk and finish swallowing my bite. "So, I forgot to ask Jaimie why this girl's case fell in our laps." I pick up the folder with one hand and take another bite of the sandwich.

"She's some ambassador's daughter. China, I think" Ty doesn't even glance up from his phone to answer.

"Japan," I correct, staring at the picture of a pretty Japanese girl in a school uniform. Can't they see the difference? It's all in the eyes. The overwhelming silence has me looking up at the three of them staring open-mouthed at me. "What? It says it right here in her file." I raise the folder. "Besides, her name is a dead give-away. Sato Aiko. Very common Japanese name."

Carter pulls off his glasses, still looking at me like I've grown a second head. "I think you got that backwards. It's Aiko Sato."

"Actually, it's not. Traditional Japanese will give their surname first, since they belong to the clan, and their first name second."

"And you know this, how, exactly?" Carter's tone tells me I had better have a very believable reason for this.

Holding Carter's gaze, I give him as much of the truth as I can. "I spent some time in Japan in the 90s." What I don't say is it was the 1290s through the 1390s. Actually became a Samurai, one of the ones responsible for the Emperor.

"Uh-huh. And you never mentioned this before…because?" Ty demands.

I shrug. "Never saw it as important."

"You speak Japanese?" A very reasonable question from Jaimie.


"Isn't it difficult to learn? I mean all those nuances and such." Leave it to her to wonder something like that.

"Actually, English is much more difficult; although not as difficult as Mandarin Chinese." Another language I speak.

"English shouldn't have been that difficult for you since you grew up speaking it," Ty jumps in.

I actually grew up speaking Scottish Gaelic. When I finally decided to learn English it seemed to take no time at all. The fact that I was learning it from tavern wenches is probably why. Of course the fact that I wasn't developing my polite company conversation skills could be why I found it so much fun.

"We're getting off topic, guys," Carter grumbles. "You speak any other languages, Dean?"

"Enough French to impress the ladies and enough Spanish to survive in East LA." Actually I speak the language of every first world country and most of the third world ones, too, but they don't need to know that, not yet.

"Okay, people. Let's get to work," Carter states, putting an end to any further discussion about my various skills. "Dean," he calls before I can take a single step toward the door. "A word, please."

This can't be good. He never wants a private word unless I've done something wrong.

I shift my weight on the corner of the desk where I'm leaning and wait for Ty and Jaimie to leave.

Carter, that bastard, keeps me waiting for several minutes after they leave before he even looks up at me. He removes his glasses, tosses them down on the desk and leans back in his chair. "Tell me about this guy you have in mind as your way in."

"All you need to know is he's most definitely legal but looks about fifteen."

He purses his lips and reaches out to play with his pen. "Don't tell me what I need to know, Dean. Now spill."

Sighing deeply, I scrub my hands over my face. There's no way I can tell him what he wants to know. "Seriously, Carter. How can me telling you this guy's life story make any difference?"

"Because I told you to tell me?"

I drop my gaze to the floor and rub one hand along the back of my neck. "I'm going to have to respectfully refuse to follow that order. It's not that I don't want to tell you; it's that it's not my story to tell."

"What the hell does that mean?" He's starting to get angry and this isn't going to end well.

"You won't believe me if I tell you."

"Try me." His tone is clipped, curt, promising dire consequences if I don't roll over and show him my tender underbelly.

I brace my hands next to my hips on the desk. Here goes nothing. "It's classified."

The look on Carter's face tells me to hurry along to the punch line. "You had better be kidding."

Stretching my legs out in front of me, I meet his gaze head on. "Wish I was."

He leans forward and stacks his hands on top of his desk. "You're telling me that this kid's past is 'eyes only'?"

"Pretty much, yeah."

"And you know it, how?" And oh man is he getting pissed. Soon he's gonna stop being polite and then it'll get ugly.

Time to lie, and God how I'm starting to hate that I have to. "Don't, exactly. I've worked with him enough to know the important things."


"Like he can kick my ass without breaking much of a sweat, and he's a much better shot than I am. Sniper level, before you ask."

"And you're positive that the target will like your guy's look so much that he'll demand to meet you two in person?"

"Oh, yeah. He just oozes sex. I've yet to see anyone refuse him when he turns on the charm."

"Even you?"

This is my chance. I've found my opening and now I'm striking, at least to get a measure of him. "Would it bother you if I did?"

To my happy surprise, Carter just shrugs and begins picking the papers up off his desk. "That's between you and your god."

"Good to know. Oh, and for the record, I'll never bring it here; never let it get in the way of the job."

"See that you don't." It's a dismissal if ever I heard one, so I push myself upright and leave the loft.

Twenty minutes later finds me leaning against the doorjamb to a converted garage in a middle class neighborhood watching a handsome young man molding a lump of clay on a potter's wheel. "Neilson," I drawl, knowing how much it irritates him.

"Dean," he responds curtly.

"It just kills you that I don't have a last name you can use, doesn't it? Especially since I know that that's how you keep distance between yourself and others."

"Could always call you McGillis." He hasn't once looked up, all his focus centered on the pattern he's trying to put on the clay.

"Could, but that's no longer my name and neither is Bendis, not really."

"It is your current legal name, though."

"True. But that'll change with my next life."

He sighs and I can tell he's decided he's not going to be able to win this particular argument. "You gonna tell me just what it is you've committed me to?"

"Once you've finished with that pretty pot you're making."

He removes his hands from the lump of clay and lets it kinda fold in on itself. Once the wheel stops spinning, he leans over and opens a bucket sitting on the floor next to him. Unfolding the plastic inside, he takes the clay he had been working with and places it on top of the clay in the bucket and replaces the lid.

"Didn't mean for you to stop working now."

"Eh, it wasn't working right. Couldn't get the picture from my head onto the clay." He stands up and walks over to the washtub next to the door where I'm standing. "You gonna give me any hint as to why you're here?" He begins to scrub up, and I take the time to reacquaint myself with his looks. I've known him his whole life and it never ceases to amaze me how he doesn't really ever change, no matter how old he gets.

Jonathan Neilson, born Jonathan 'Jack' O'Neill, is a fifty-something man trapped in the body of a fifteen year-old through no fault of his own. Several years ago an Asgard named Loki tried to solve their cloning problem by examining Jack's DNA. What Loki didn't know is that Thor had put a failsafe in Jack's DNA preventing just such an occurrence. What we ended up with is two Jack O'Neill's. One who still looks the proper age and one who looks more than half that.

The O'Neills have been Chosen for Sylum for generations, and Jack and I have danced around an attraction since he hit puberty. By the time he was old enough for us to do anything about it, he had decided to join the Air Force which meant we couldn't actually act on our attraction since I'm not out as a Vampire. But when Jonathan showed up at my door and looked at me with Jack's eyes and spoke with Jack's words, if not his voice, I couldn't say no when he propositioned me.

His hair is so full of cowlicks he has to wear it either military short or to his shoulders long. He's currently wearing it pulled back in a pony. Give him some stubble and a gold hoop in his left ear and he'd look like a pirate. He's whipcord thin and tends to go around wearing nothing but a pair of threadbare sweatpants that just barely hang on to his hips. When messing with his clay, he throws an apron on to protect himself from being splattered.

I give a quick shake of my head when I realize I've been quiet for a little too long, and he'd asked me a question. "I'd rather not discuss it out here."

He looks up at me sharply, and I know he can hear everything I've been fighting recently in my voice. Removing the apron, he places it on a peg by the door and then leads the way into his kitchen.

I take a seat at the table where I can watch him moving around the space; he's always been graceful but being given a second chance at being a teenager has made him even more so. What is it most adults say, 'If I only knew then, what I know now'? Well, Jonathan now knows at 'fifteen' what Jack O'Neill knows at fifty-something.

He opens the fridge and takes out two beers. His identification says he's twenty-one but only because it's been six years since he was 'born'. Slinging one leg over a corner of the table, I try and not leer but damn, the boy's sex personified. When he turns to hand me my bottle, he smirks which tells me I was unsuccessful in keeping my feelings off my face.

Tipping the bottle to my lips, I take a long swig and watch as he does the same. He sets his bottle on the table, pulls mine from my lax fingers and sets it next to his, then pushes my leg off the table so he can straddle my lap.

"Mm. Seems to me like you have something rather pressing on your mind."

Chuckling softly, I slide my hands up his back to his shoulders so I can pull him down for a bone-melting kiss. He begins to slowly rock back and forth and I can feel his erection plain as day through his pants.

It's been close to two weeks since I've gotten laid, not that that's all that unusual, and with everything that's transpired in the past seventy-two hours I need to take the edge off before I can have the conversation I need to have with him. So I push him off my lap, spin him around until he's facing the table and tug his pants down to his knees. I place one hand in the middle of his back to make sure he stays where I want him to, not that he'd try to get up when he knows what's about to happen. Unbuckling my belt one-handed is a feat I've mastered over the years. Pulling my belt from the loops, I wind it around Jonathan's wrists, pulling a groan of pure need from deep within him. Who knew that Lieutenant General Jack O'Neill had a kink for being tied up while being fucked. Jonathan has a hook hidden under the edge of the table for just such an occasion so my hands are now free for me to undo my fly. Not that I need both hands. Whoever invented button-fly jeans is a fucking genius in my book. It only takes a second to pop open all the buttons and reach inside to pull out my erect dick.

"Damn," I mutter. "Just realized –"

"In the napkin holder," he supplies.

"Ah. You are one strange man, you know that?"

"I've discovered it pays to be prepared."

"Don't tell me you learned that from The Boy Scouts because I happen to know you never were one."

"You gonna talk or fuck?" he demands, the last word ending in a very unmanly squeak when I shove three fingers in his ass and immediately begin rubbing on his prostate.

A low pitched whine begins in the back of his throat and I decide I've teased him long enough. Slicking up my cock, I slowly slide in, doing my best to avoid his prostate. I keep the pace slow but deep. I've been fucking him off and on for six years so I know how he likes it. He usually prefers it hard and fast, something about having to be quick so as to avoid getting caught in the service. But I also know how he needs it most of the time and despite hovering on the edge for the past three days, I know he needs it just as slow as I do right now.

"Fuck me, you motherfucker!" he yells.

"I am fucking you. And I can't believe I let you kiss me with that filthy mouth."

"Fuck you!"

I happen to know he's just trying to goad me into giving him what he wants. "Naw. Maybe later, though. If you'll lie there and just take it like a good little boy." I lean down and lick his right ear. "Can you do that, Jonathan?" From my position draped over his back, I can feel the tremors running through his frame. "You gonna beg me for it, Boy?" I've never really been into the really kinky stuff or dirty talk, but Jonathan seems to get off on it. I can hear him gulp. He just nods his head in response. "Can't hear your head rattle. Gonna have to actually say the words."

"Yes, just –" he trails off, panting hard, his heart beating to beat the band.

"Just, what?"

"Please!" he wails, and that's all I need.

Keeping one hand in the middle of his back, my thumb pressing against the T8 vertebra, I straighten back up. I increase the pace until my hips are slapping wetly against his ass cheeks, making them jiggle obscenely.

He's grunting with each of my thrusts. The force of which has the beer bottles clinking against each other. I can see his reflection in the glass of the kitchen door. My vision is starting to grey around the edges when he stiffens under me, his hands reaching for something only he can see, and lets out a sound that I don't usually hear until after several hours of steady fucking. I usually squeeze my eyes shut from the force of my own orgasm but something has me keeping them open this time and the look on his face is incredible; his eyes are bugged out and his mouth is open on a silent scream of ecstasy. His muscles rhythmically clamping down on me is enough to pull me over the edge after him.

The harsh sound of his breathing is interrupted by the resounding slap of my palm landing on the table next to his right shoulder when I catch myself before I collapse completely on top of him. I run my thumb up his spine, counting off the vertebra as I go. He breathes out as I press down, getting even more boneless. I know that the only things keeping him from slithering off the table to land in a puddle on the floor at my feet are the belt tied around his wrists and my softening dick in his ass.

"Nearly forgot what a great fuck you are," I say, slapping him on the ass before pulling out with a groan. "That has to be my least favorite part." I start to reach for the belt wrapped around his wrists. "You gonna stay upright if I undo this?"

"I think so, yeah." He doesn't sound so sure but I unwrap it anyway and step back until I can sit back down in the chair.

He slowly pushes himself upright and then pulls his pants back up. Grabbing his beer bottle he turns with a slight wince and makes his way out of the kitchen. "Living room. Much more comfortable."

I follow, enjoying the view of him from behind. He flings himself down in an armchair with a leg draped over one arm. I take a seat in a chair set at a ninety degree angle to his, my beer dangling from between two of my fingers by the neck. When I start to put my booted feet up on the coffee table, he makes a noise in the back of his throat. I look at him, one brow raised, and he snaps, "Shoes!" With a smirk, I toe off my boots and put my now bootless feet up on the table, one ankle crossed over the other.

"Alright, Dean. Tell me just why you're here."

"What makes you think I'm here for anything other than to just see you?"

He chokes on his laughter. "Uh-huh. No. Now, spill."


He sighs, and I know he's feeling exactly what Carter feels. "I swear, it's like pulling teeth," he grumbles. "Why is this LAPD's problem and not the FBI's?"

"It's been a week and there's been no ransom request." I scoot down even further into the chair. "The girl's young, just turned fifteen, and very pretty."

"Oriental?" I nod. "Hm. Japanese?"

"Yeah, how'd you guess?"

"They seem to be hot right now with the sex slavers."

"Didn't say it was for the sex trade." I raise one eyebrow.

He chuckles. "Didn't have to. Pretty teenage Japanese girl gets kidnapped and there's no ransom, can only be one thing. How can I help if they're taking girls?"

"I made some calls on my way over here. There are reports of boys going missing and the circumstances are similar to Aiko's case. We really need something that'll make sure the main guy will want to meet the supplier and product in person and there aren't any female officers that fit the bill. And before you ask, all the male officers look like they're cops."

"And you're positive that I'll be enough to get this guy to meet us?"

"Oh, yeah." I just smirk when he presses his lips together when I don't elaborate.

"You're an ass," he growls. "Explain."

"All the boys that have been taken have been your opposite. They've been good looking, but not pretty, and muscular jocks. Everyone I talked to said he's obviously into the boys, but not the girls, because he personally examines each boy but only looks at pictures of the girls. The boys that have been offered were obviously not his type because he never asked for time alone with them, just sent them on to wherever he was sending them. I'm thinking you're more his type; whipcord thin and pretty."

"What makes you think he hasn't already been offered someone who looks like me?"

"Last boy was taken six months ago and he was just like all the ones before him."

"So his suppliers haven't figured out his type, huh?"

"Guess not. But that's our gain because he will be all over both of us as soon as he sees your picture."

"About that…" He shifts in his seat, a blush creeping up his cheeks.

"I got something for you to wear in the car. We don't have to take explicit pictures, just something that'll get his attention. Whatever you're comfortable with."

"That mean you'll be taking said pictures?" He's staring at where his fingers are picking at the label on his beer bottle and I can't tell if he wants me to say yes or no.

"Of course." I lower my feet to the floor and lean forward to rest my elbows on my knees.

"Yeah, okay. Anyone else gonna see these?" Ah! I get it now. He doesn't want this to get back to him.

"He won't ever see it, if that's what you're worried about. But there are several people who have to."

"I can handle that. I may hate that he has my life, but I swore I'd never bring myself to his notice when I walked away. He hates me enough as it is. If he was to find out that I acted on some of his deeper fantasies –" he trails off, looking up at me from under his lashes.

I chuckle. He has a point. Once Jack decided to join the military he had to put some of his less conventional wants aside and basically deny they ever existed, except for when he's a donor and of course once he Bonds with Daniel. "I will do my best to make sure he never knows that you've been living the life he once thought about having."

He nods and silence descends for a moment. "So that outfit you got for me?" He's still avoiding my eyes and I can't figure out why. It's not like he's the shy type. In fact back when Jonathan first showed up on my doorstep he suggested things that would have had me blushing if I was still alive.

I doubt I'll be able to figure it out at this moment in time, so with a mental shrug, I stand and make my way to the front door because it takes me past his chair. When I draw even with him, I run my hand over his hair, something he usually hates but his confusing behavior continues with him leaning into my touch and reaching out one hand to snag his fingers in my pocket.

I crouch down so that I'm eye level with him. "Talk to me, Jonathan."

For several minutes I think he's not going to answer but just as I begin to stand back up he says "Daniel" in a broken voice and most of my questions are answered.

My heart breaks a little at his tone. For the past decade Jack has known he's Daniel's Mate and has been waiting as patiently as he can for Daniel to notice. Then six years ago, he became another person, with a brand new soul and has had to learn to live with the fact that he no longer has the right to call himself Daniel's Mate. "Your Mate is out there." I do my best to reassure him but I don't think it's working.

He shakes his head. "That's not it." He sighs and slumps further into the chair. "Go get the outfit so we can do this."

"If you don't –" I begin but he puts two fingers to my lips.

"Just go, Dean. You need me to get this sicko, and there's no way he's gonna want me without seeing at least one picture."

He's right, of course. Pressing a quick kiss to his fingertips, I stand up and continue on out the door and to my car. Grabbing the garment bag and my camera bag from the backseat, I drape the garment bag over one shoulder and sling the strap of the camera bag over the other shoulder. When I re-enter the house, I find Jonathan slouched so far down in his chair that his head is resting on the arm in such a way that he can watch the door. I toss the garment bag onto the couch and drop the camera bag on the coffee table.

He spins around and sits up. "What'd ya bring me?" I pick up the garment bag and unzip it, pulling the sides back to reveal the private school uniform within. "You got some Catholic school fantasy you want to tell me about?" he snickers.

I just roll my eyes. "All the kids have been students at private schools. Not sure why, but my contacts suggested I keep that theme going."

He levers himself up and steps over to where I'm standing holding the garment bag. Lifting one hand he touches the blank insignia patch. "There's no school logo."

"I know. It's from a costume shop but that won't be a problem. I'll be photo shopping in some blurs to make it look like there was a logo because all the logos are blurred out in the photos of the kids."

He lifts his gaze to mine, and I see the instant he figures out what that means. "They do that so that the kids can't be identified by picture alone unless someone with access to all the local databases comes across it."

"And even then it'd still be quite a long shot to identify off facial recognition alone."

"Yeah, I suppose." He frowns and fingers the lapel of the jacket. "So, um, how, uh, how we gonna do this?"

"Why don't we wait until morning so that you're a bit more alert?"

He tilts his head and eyes me out of the corner of his eye. "You saying I'm not alert now?"

I can't stop the grin from spreading across my face. "Oh, you're alert alright; just want you to be at your best for the pictures."

"That mean no more sex tonight?" He bites his lower lip and looks up at me with what I'm sure he thinks is a 'come and get me' look.

A snort of laughter manages to escape. "Until just now, in the kitchen, I hadn't had sex in two weeks. What do you think?"

"I think," he purrs, tapping me in the center of my chest with one finger. "That we need to decide who tops."

"Oh, so you're not going to make good on your promise from earlier?" I put on a mock pout.

"If you can catch me, I'll fuck your brains out." He spins on his heel and sprints for the stairs.

I chase him up the stairs and through the hall, entering his room just behind him. Lowering my shoulders, I tackle him to the bed where we engage in our own brand of foreplay. Namely wrestling and mussing the sheets even more. By the time we have both returned to Earth after touching the stars, we're so exhausted we just fall asleep, not even caring that we're sticky as hell.

I wake the next morning to find myself curled on the very edge of the bed which isn't unusual for me. The sun is just beginning to peek through the curtains. I've always been an early riser. I can feel the heat of my bed partner's body at my back, telling me that I have woken before Jonathan, again not unusual. I've never needed much sleep and now that I'm a vampire I need even less. Twisting around, I can see that Jonathan has spread out to occupy the portion of the bed that my position has left empty. He's sprawled on his stomach, his arms wrapped tight around his pillow.

I slowly roll from the bed, doing my best to not wake him. Despite how ingrained all of Jack's mental/instinctual sentinels are, Jonathan has been alone long enough to know when he's safe and when he isn't. And I fall under the umbrella of people who are safe. He stirs a bit before settling down and slipping even deeper into slumber.

I stop off in the bathroom just long enough to clean off the evidence of last night before heading downstairs for some coffee. Exiting the bathroom, I can see Jonathan still sprawled carelessly in the bed and it makes my mouth water and my fangs extend. It's been several days since I've had a complete meal from a live donor, and I'm hungrier than I have been in years but I want – no, need – to wait until after the pictures before feeding from Jonathan. He's so pale that I'm afraid even the amount I'd take for a snack would make it even more noticeable and that will not make the target want to meet him.

I jog down the stairs, very comfortable with my nakedness, and enter the kitchen to find that Jonathan has an automatic coffeemaker and it was set to come on ten minutes ago. Taking a mug down from the cabinet, I swap it out for the carafe, managing to not spill a single drop. Lifting the mug, I inhale deeply of the aromatic steam rising from within it and am mildly surprised at the rich flavor.

Wonder if Jonathan is in touch with Greg, I muse, taking a sip. I close my eyes in bliss at the full flavor that explodes over my tongue.

When I open my eyes again, I half expect to see Jonathan standing in front of me. He must be more tired than I thought if he's still asleep.

I drink down half my cup, refill it then head back upstairs to find he's now rolled over onto his right side and is curled up in a loose ball on the edge of the bed.

Sitting down in the overstuffed armchair in the corner of the room, I sip my coffee and watch him sleep. From the day Jack was born, I've been watching over him, per his mother's request and, even though she had passed before Jonathan was 'born', her request was transferred to him. There was just something about her that had everyone just about bending over backward to make sure she was happy.

When I met Sally O'Neill she was still Sally Adams. She was a very beautiful woman, and I ended up being one of just a handful of Vampires who actually fed from her with any regularity. Despite being deep in the desert when she became engaged to David O'Neill, I came back for the wedding, because she asked me to.

The unofficial rules of Sylum state that only the ruling members attend birthing ceremonies but Sally and I had become such great friends that I was the second person she called when she found out she was pregnant with Jack and when the time came for him to be made an official Chosen, she wanted me there, as her friend.

The day was gorgeous with the sun shining high in the sky and just a few wispy clouds slowly drifting by on a light breeze.

Nick wasn't happy to see me at the church, and I could tell he thought about ordering me to leave but he, like everyone else, didn't want to upset Sally and since she had requested my presence at the ceremony he had to let me stay. I stood in the back, next to Sally's father, and watched as Nick pierced his thumb with one fang and squeezed a drop of his blood into Baby Jack's mouth, declaring him to one and all a Chosen of Sylum.

Afterward, Sally approached where I was standing near the door and handed him to me. It was the first time I'd actually seen him since I had been in Scotland for a brief and very frustrating visit when he was born. As I stood there, holding him, his mother asked me to protect him, to watch over him all of his days. She said she had no doubts that other members of Sylum will also watch over him, but wanted to know that someone she considered a brother was helping to make sure he lived to adulthood.

Due to my promise to Sally O'Neill, I stayed mostly in the US during Jack's childhood. Jack was a typical boy, climbing trees, scraping his knees, getting into fights and generally giving his mother a hard time.

I had always thought Jack looked more like his father than his mother, but Jonathan seems to look more like Sally and I'm not sure how that's possible since he's Jack at fifteen and he looks just like Jack did at that age.

My memories are interrupted by the sound of Jonathan rolling over and grunting in displeasure when his searching hand encounters the empty space where I should be. He blinks his eyes open, a frown of confusion pulling his brows down over his nose until he finally locates where I'm sitting. Our gazes lock and he gives me his most seductive smile. "Come back to bed," he purrs, stretching sensuously, the sheet slipping down far enough for me to see that he's sporting a very impressive morning erection.

"Much as I'd love to, we have pictures to take so I can get this sick bastard off the streets before he abducts anymore kids."

One thing Jonathan does better than Jack ever did is pout. He gives me his best pout now and it's almost enough to make me reconsider. "Fine. Just give me ten minutes to get cleaned up." He gets out of the bed and makes his way to the bathroom, grumbling under his breath the whole way.

With a fond smile, I push myself out of the chair and step into my jeans, deciding to leave them unbuttoned. If the photo shoot goes as I think it will, he won't want to wait for me to get my fly undone. Then again, neither will I.

I head downstairs and over to the coffee table. Opening the camera bag, I pull out a high-end digital camera. Turning it over in my hand, I proceed to make sure everything is as it should be.

Ten minutes on the nose, Jonathan comes down the stairs wearing just a pair of briefs. When I raise an eyebrow at his choice of underwear, he reminds me that most teenage boys tend to wear briefs. Something about not wanting their junk swinging free in the locker room at school.

"So you have some place in particular you want to take these pictures?" He begins putting on the uniform and damn if he doesn't look good enough to eat.

"Not really. You got anything that looks like it could be a classroom?"

"Not exactly but I do have an old desk that looks like the type a teacher might have. It's in a back corner of the garage and is set up against the wall. Think you could photo shop in a black or white board?"

"I'm sure I can. One of the good things about being around when software is invented, or rather, knowing the person who created it, is that you tend to be an expert with it."

He snickers and finishes knotting his tie. "Alrighty, then. Follow me."

We enter the garage and walk past his pottery wheel and through another door and into a small room with a metal desk pushed against the wall opposite.

"If we pull it out from the wall, we can put that chair behind it. Unless you think we don't need it?"

"No, the story I plan to use is that I'm a groundskeeper at your school and I befriended you when you'd eat lunch by yourself on the football field bleachers, and once I gained your trust I snuck you in after school to take these pictures in my boss' office. Of course that means I won't need a black board." I shrug. "So it's good that you don't already have one set up behind the desk."

"If you say so." We move the desk back from the wall just far enough that we can get the chair behind it. "So how do you want me?"

"Natural. We'll start with pictures of you just standing there. Then just do whatever feels right. Remember you're letting the man who has shown you the attention you're not getting from other sources take pictures of you. You just might even be falling in love, or at least you think you are. And you want to please me so that I don't leave you alone again."

"Thought about this some, have we?" The smile that spreads across his face at that is just too beautiful to pass up so I begin taking pictures.

"Take your hair down and muss it a bit. You know, get it in your face like the teenagers today wear it?" He does as instructed. "Perfect." I snap several more shots. "You can move around, ya know." I don't stay still either, moving to the left, then the right to make sure I get just the right angle.

Jonathan is a natural at this. He knows which poses show him best and makes sure he's in them by the time I press the shutter release.

We start with shots of him standing in front of the desk, looking right at the camera, hands in pockets and a slight smile on his face. After he takes his hair down, I get lots of shots of him looking up through his lashes and hair, most with his lower lip caught between his teeth. Then he moves on to loosening his tie and opening the top two buttons of his shirt. Next, he removes his jacket and pulls his shirt tails out of his pants. He licks his lips and leans against the corner of the desk, his hands clasped in front of him. He scoots back until he can prop one foot on the edge and leans back on his hands. He rests all his weight on one hand and removes his tie with the other before opening several more buttons. Watching all this through the viewfinder of the camera has my dick twitching with interest. I'm very much aware of the exact moment when he realizes what effect his show is having on me. His behavior changes instantly and I can see his cock starting to harden through the linen of his pants.

A smirk graces my face. "He's gonna love that this is turning you on," I say. "How about you start removing your clothes now?"

His pupils dilate even further as his arousal increases. He sits up and begins to slowly remove his shirt, then he moves over until he's in the very middle of the desk and spreads his legs obscenely wide and leans back on his hands. In this position the tent in his pants is very noticeable. He kicks off his shoes and toes off his socks. Then he places one foot on the desk and, resting all his weight on one hand, undoes his fly and shoves his hand inside. For several minutes his teases me by jacking himself inside his pants where I can't see.

"Tease," I growl, snapping away while trying to figure out how to get this over with sooner rather than later so I can fuck his brains out and have my first meal in almost a week.

"Ya know ya love it when I tease." He throws back his head and lets out a full-bodied laugh the likes of which I haven't heard out of Jack in longer than is probably healthy.

The sight of a truly happy Jonathan has me stunned for a moment and in my amazement, I forget to keep taking pictures. He, of course, notices and decides to up his teasing by running his hand slowly up his chest, trailing just his fingertips over his skin, causing goosebumps to form. He draws circles around his navel before continuing up to his nipples. He twists, pinches and flicks them with his nails.

I shake myself out of the fugue the sight before me has pulled me into just in time to get several shots of him teasing himself. He then does something that has me wishing I didn't have to keep snapping pictures; he sucks on his middle finger, imitating fellatio, and I so very much want it to be my dick and not his finger. He ends his impromptu show by biting the tip and giving me a look worthy of a porn star. If he doesn't stop, he's not gonna be able to sit for weeks by the time I'm through with him.

He trails his spit wet finger back down his chest, then turns around so that he's kneeling on the desk with his back to me. Turning his head, he looks at me over his shoulder and lowers his pants with a wiggle of his hips. He has managed to surprise me by not lowering his underwear but he doesn't leave me guessing as to why for long. After sucking on his middle finger for a few seconds, he reaches around behind him and slips his hand into his briefs. I can tell he's running it in circles around his hole.

"You are so getting the fucking of your life if you don't stop that!" I say, taking a moment to adjust my growing hard-on.

"That's the plan, Old Man." His laughter echoes through the room.

I decide to let his comment pass when he pushes his underwear down before lying on his side so he can pull them off with his pants. We end the photo shoot with him reclining half on his side and half on his stomach, effectively hiding the Air Force tattoo he has on his right hip. If the target requests a full on frontal picture, I'll have to airbrush it out.

I drop the camera in the bag, not even caring if it gets damaged, and stalk over to where Jonathan's stretched out seductively on the desk. "You are such a slut," I growl, shoving against his hip until he rolls over onto his back. Hooking my arms under his legs, I pull him toward me until his butt is hanging over the edge and I can just slam home. "Damn, Jon. When you asked for ten minutes I didn't think you meant so you could prep yourself."

He just smirks up at me and stretches his arms over his head, arching his back. "I knew you wouldn't be able to wait and didn't want to walk with a limp. Didn't think you'd mind."

"Didn't say I did." I slowly thrust in and out several times before urging him to wrap his legs around my waist so I can slide my hands under his back and lift him up.

When he wraps his arms around my shoulders, I lick a stripe up his neck and then plunge my fangs deep into the artery throbbing there. He lets out a moan as I begin to drink. I close my eyes in bliss as the metallic sweet taste of his blood flows over my tongue. I run one hand roughly up his back so I can grab a fistful of his hair and pull his head back, causing the blood to pump faster into my mouth. I've been doing this long enough to know when I've taken a pint from a donor. Once I reach that point, I remove my fangs despite the fact that I'm still hungry. Licking the wound closed, I lower Jonathan back down to the desk so I can lean over him and really pound his ass. He transfers his grip to my triceps and just takes what I give him.

He cups one hand behind my neck and pulls me down so he can try and remove my tonsils with his tongue. When he needs to breathe, he pushes me back a bit. "I should have let you be my eighteenth birthday present."

I just shake my head and double my efforts to get us both off. It works so well that we come within seconds of each other. I collapse just enough to rest my forehead against his. "You'd already decided on the Air Force so I would have said no since I wasn't out."

"Still not out, Old Man," he says, his voice heavy with laughter.

With a shrug I pull out and step back. "Doesn't matter." Tucking myself back into my pants, I turn and approach where I left the camera. Crouching down, I pick it up and make sure I didn't damage it when I dropped it in my haste to get my dick in Jonathan's ass.

"So, joint shower?" he asks.

I look at him over my shoulder and see that he's put on his pants and has the rest of the costume balled up under his arm. I can't quite stop the growl that escapes at the extra expense I now have to get it cleaned and pressed. "Damnit, Jon. I told you it's from a costume shop."

He just rolls his eyes and heads back into the house. With a sigh, I stand up, shoulder the camera bag, and follow him, deciding on my way into the house to take a solo shower.

"It's why I came to you that night." He drops the non sequitur into the silence that has descended some thirty minutes later as we eat some pasta at the kitchen table.

"Excuse me?" I frown across the table at him.

He puts down his fork, wipes his hands on his pants and sits back in his chair. Licking his lips, he lets his gaze dart around the room. "I'd wanted you to be my first for as long as I could remember so when I walked away I looked you up."

"That the only reason?" I twirl some pasta around my fork and take a bite.

He picks up his fork and begins picking at his pasta. "When I first touched Daniel, I knew something was wrong and when Thor fixed whatever Loki had done that caused the clones to die, the look on everyone's faces… It wasn't so bad coming from him and Sam and Teal'c and Hammond. But from Daniel – from Daniel it cut deep. He was looking at me like I was a bug under a microscope, a puzzle he needed to solve; I was less than human to them all and the fact that I was no longer Daniel's Mate –" He pauses and swallows loudly. "It was several days before I realized I couldn't stay where he put me. It felt… creepy… the way the girls were looking at me. There was no way I could go to New Orleans or to any of the members of Sylum because they'd've just sent me right back to the SGC.

"I was hoping you'd let me stay." He meets my gaze for a second before letting it bounce around the room again. "I was also hoping to feel the zing when we touched." The last is said in a very soft voice.

Leaning forward, I place my hand on his wrist. "Jon." I squeeze his wrist. "I too, had hoped to feel that zing when we touched the first time that night. But it didn't happen. Doesn't mean I feel any less for you." He looks up and opens his mouth to speak. "No, you're not a replacement for Ja – him. I see you for you, Jon. I care for you as a human being who deserves to be loved."

He blinks at me for several seconds before his face is split by a huge grin, and he throws back his head and laughs so hard tears stream down his cheeks. "God, you really think that's what this is about? Jesus, Dean. Sure it hurt when Daniel rejected me and then when you didn't turn out to be my Mate but I have a lot of self-confidence. I know who I am and that's someone he could – no, would – never even consider being and that feels great! Better than great, even. It feels bloody brilliant! I'd give anything to rub it all in his face but I made myself a vow that I'd never set foot anywhere near him. But I thank you for the confidence boost, if I'd've needed it, it would have helped."

I snatch my hand back and angrily attack my pasta. "I was just trying to help. No need to laugh in my face." I didn't deal well with people laughing at me when I was a sixteen-year-old kid, and after all this time I still don't.

"I'm sorry, Dean. I didn't –"

"Stuff it." I drop my fork and push my chair back in preparation of leaving the table. "I think it's time for me to go."

His eyes go wide in panic and he quickly takes a gulp of his beer. "No, Dean. Seriously, I didn't mean –"

"And I said to forget it. I really need to go. Carter's probably pacing a hole in the floor waiting for me to get back."

"It's late. Why don't you just wait until tomorrow?"

"Late?" I look out the window where I can see the sun shining high in the sky. "It's barely noon."

"Exactly. Surely he isn't expecting you now?"

"Doesn't matter. I got what I came for." Jonathan disappears under the table before I can push myself to my feet. "What are you -?" My words trail off when he pulls my fly open enough to wiggle his hand inside. "Jon." I try to stop him but he just slaps my hands away. "Jon –" My voice most definitely did not just squeak when his hand wraps around my dick so he can tug it out of my pants. I try one more time to get him to stop by pushing on his head. He just once again slaps my hands away.

He wraps his lips around the head and sucks and then does something impossible with his tongue that has my eyes crossing. Jonathan gives the best fucking blowjobs I have ever been on the receiving end of. I don't know if Jonathan acquired that knowledge on his own or if it's from when he was Jack, and frankly I don't care.

I thread my fingers into his hair, he didn't put it back up after the photo shoot, and just hang on as he takes me on a fabulous ride.

Just as I've decided that he's trying to Hoover my brains out through my dick, he pulls off with an obscene pop.

He climbs into my lap, wiping his chin with the back of one hand. "Still wanna leave?"

A low growl builds in the back of my throat. Little bastard knows exactly which buttons to push, and how to push them, to get me to do as he wants. "If you don't want pasta all over your kitchen floor, and to be fucked on this table for the second time in as many days, I suggest you get your skinny little ass upstairs."

He bites his lower lip and looks up at the ceiling in the classic Jack O'Neill 'I'm thinking!' pose. "I don't think I can wait that long." And so with a shimmy and a shake of his hips, he removes his sweat pants and before I know it, he's impaling himself on my cock.

"Damnit, Jonathan!" I grab his hips to help him keep his balance.

He grins down at me, then leans down and licks my nose, something that usually throws me out of the moment but not this time; this time all it does is put a lid on my simmering anger. I chuckle and wrap my hands around his shoulders from behind to pull him down so I can suck on his tongue. He gives a happy hum and settles into a rhythm that has my eyes rolling back in my head.

Flexing my fingers against his skin, I pull him down so that I can thrust up. He pulls back so he can gulp in some air. Wrapping one arm around his waist, I stand up and begin to push the plates out of the way.

"I swear you had better not shove those plates onto the floor!" he says, panting heavily between each word.

"If it's not the table, it'll have to be the floor. I can't thrust the way I want from this position."

"Then sit down and let me do all the work."

With a big push of my free hand against the table, I drop back down in the chair which causes him to become impaled further on my length and has him moaning deep in his throat.

I've already fed from him today, so I can't sink my fangs into his neck like I want. I settle for nibbling on his jaw and leaving marks down his neck. My ministrations have him wiggling in my lap in a way that is very pleasant. Wrapping one hand around his dick, I begin stroking. The sound he makes has no vowels and can't really be described as a word.

"You didn't really think I was just going to sit here and let you fuck yourself on my cock, did you?"

He shakes his head and starts to raise and lower himself, bracing his hands on my shoulders. Stilling my hand, I tighten my grip just the tiniest bit so that he has some resistance.

I've had three exhausting orgasms in the past twenty-four hours, and I'm in no hurry to have a fourth. I'm quite content to take a leisurely path to the next climax. But Jonathan doesn't agree. He does everything that usually has stars exploding behind my eyes in no time flat, but we've never had sex as frequently as we've had it this visit. Despite what everyone thinks, I can have a relationship that doesn't revolve around sex; I can spend time with someone I've been intimate with and not get naked. It doesn't happen very often, and Jonathan is the one it happens with the most, but it does happen. And I'm sure it will happen often with Carter. Not in the beginning, though. Once I get Carter in my bed, I won't be letting him out of it very often for quite some time.

Eventually, we tumble over the edge and he sags against my chest, his breath hot against the skin of my neck. "Whoever said that a slow build up isn't as good as running straight at The Big O has obviously never been fucked by you." We share a laugh, then both groan when my softened dick slips out of him. "God, I hate that part."

With a sigh, he lets himself go weightless almost as if settling in for the night. I poke him in the ribs. He jerks to the side with a yelp. "I gotta go now so you hafta get up." I pat him on the ass.

He leans back so he can pout at me. "We've discussed this already, Dean. Surely Carter's not expecting you back this soon?"

As much as I'd love to stay right where I am, I know that if I do, I won't ever find the courage to tell Carter. "It really is time for me to go, Jon. So be a good boy, and let me up."

He frowns, but does as I ask, grumbling under his breath. He pulls his sweat pants back on and begins to clear the table. Judging by the way he's dropping the plates in the sink, I can tell I've pissed him off.

"Look, much as I'd love to stay here and fuck your brains out all day, I do have a job to do. It's not like I live all that far away. I'm just –" I trail off, hoping this isn't another one of his pranks.

He looks at me over his shoulder. "I know it's hard to believe but I'm tired of being alone; of being lonely."

"Maybe if you got out there…" He rolls his eyes and I snicker. "Seriously, Jon. You're never going to find your Mate sitting here throwing clay."

He takes a deep breath and lets it out with a whoosh. "I'm trying to stay under the radar. You know what that's like, don'tcha, Dean?"

"Yeah, I do," I say, getting up and doing up my fly. "And now I have to go fly under a totally different radar and try to make some pervert so hot for you he'll demand to meet you in person."

I head upstairs with him trailing along behind me. In the bedroom, I tug on my t-shirt, then turn in a circle while looking for my socks. Jonathan's leaning one shoulder against the doorframe and watching me with hooded eyes. Giving up on locating my socks, I nick a pair of Jonathan's and pull them on while walking toward him. "I'll be back, ya know."

"Yeah, to get me to go and meet the sick bastard." He steps back to let me pass. "Almost forgot to ask something. Are you billing me as a virgin?"

"Yeah. Virgins tend to fetch more coin and creeps like the target tend to prefer to be the first. I plan on telling my man that the pictures were taken over several months."

He nods. "Fair enough."

Silence descends as he follows me back down the stairs and out through the kitchen, after stopping in the living room to grab my boots. I balance on one foot, and then the other, at the back door in order to put my boots on. "I'll call once I know more."

"Okay." His tone is heavy with dejection and I could just kick myself for forgetting how he is after we've spent any amount of time together.

I'm not sure why but whenever it's time for us to part, Jonathan gets quiet and withdraws into himself, almost like he's trying to protect himself from getting hurt, emotionally. One look at his face warns me to not say anything other than 'good-bye'. Clamping one hand on his shoulder, I squeeze and give it a tiny shake. "Try and get some sleep, okay? You just might need it." I don't give him a chance to respond and exit the house and climb up into my truck.

Throwing him a two fingered salute, I back out of the driveway and head home.

part three

Or read it on my website.


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