The Trouble Magnets and the men that defended them tended to get together often. Trouble Magnets liked it because, as a general rule, TMs were a social lot. There were, of course, always exceptions. Defenders liked it because the benefit of networking with other Defenders and getting tips for protecting their TMs outweighed the additional risk of getting a group of TMs together under one roof.
Unlike picnics and parties, however, the TM Annual Conference only took place once every two years. It included a variety of educational sessions, everything from academic presentations to workshops to roundtable discussions. This year it was the Cascade group's turn to host and Jack O'Neill was glad that he was relegated to things like crowd control. It was someone else's turn to be in charge.
Jack stood at the back of the small auditorium, just waiting for the trouble that was inevitable with so many TMs gathered. Before heading for a seat at the front of the auditorium, Daniel had accused Jack of picking that spot because it offered a quick getaway should the presentation become too technical for Jack's patience. Jack had to admit that was partially true. Mostly, though, he stood at the back of the room so that he could keep an eye on everybody and try to keep potential disasters to a minimum.
Like the one that was about to happen.
Gibbs and DiNozzo were already seated. O'Neill knew that Gibbs had been keeping DiNozzo on a tight rein ever since the Los Angeles NCIS group had become active. TMs, as O'Neill well knew, could be every bit as jealous and proprietary as their Defenders, with the added complication of generally having fragile egos to boot. Until DiNozzo was more confident that Gibbs was just friends with G Callen, it was best to keep the two couples as far apart as possible.
When Sam Hanna and Callen entered and started to move towards the same side of the room that Gibbs and DiNozzo were on, O'Neill whistled sharply. He waited until Sam was looking at him before jerking his head over to the other side. Hanna nodded and, putting his hand at the small of Callen's back, guided his TM to the alternate direction. Hanna was definitely looming large, but O'Neill didn't blame him. The man's TM had been shot four times; that kind of scare took a long time to get over. If you ever could, that was. Jack remembered all the times that Danny had been hurt, or even died, and shuddered. He felt for Sam, he really did.
A few minutes later and the room settled into almost silence as Jim Ellison ascended the stage to approach the podium. The man's TM, Blair Sandburg, had handled the MC duties the day before and it was Ellison's turn. Jack smirked. He liked Ellison, but it was fun to see the Sentinel out of his comfort zone.
"All right, everybody," Ellison tapped at the microphone before addressing the group at large. "Welcome to Day 2 of the TM Annual Conference."
The audience, for the most part, went silent and became very attentive.
Ellison cleared his throat. "First of all, today was supposed to be TM/Defender Support Network Day."
Almost as one, the men in the crowd swiveled their heads to look at the rows that had been roped off. It had been meant to honor those men and women who, while neither a TM nor a Defender, supported the efforts of both. The Supporter could be anything from a boss that covered a Defender's absence from work as he rescued his TM to a female friend that leant a sympathetic ear to a TM frustrated with his overprotective partner. The Supporters didn't get very much recognition and Supporter Day had been designed to honor their efforts.
The chairs, however, were empty except for one lone figure. Jack smirked again. Trust Teal'c to be the only one that showed up.
"I have a letter I'm supposed to read from the newly elected Support Network President, Simon Banks," Jim Ellison continued. "It says, `Dear TMs and Defenders. While we appreciate you finally thinking to thank us, after years of covering your asses, what we really need is a day off. Take care of each other; we're going fishing.'"
There was scattered laughter from around the room and Jack relaxed. Jim had warned him about the announcement. They hadn't really expected any trouble and it was nice to be proven right.
"Second, I'm sorry to have to tell you that the Vampires 101 session for this afternoon has been canceled," Ellison grimaced. "We're very sorry for the inconvenience. "
At the back of the room, Jack snorted with laughter. Ellison picked up on the sound and glared at him, but far enough away to be safe from repercussions, Jack just grinned at him.
Apparently, no one on the organizing committee had thought to question the Winchester brothers wanting to do a session on vampires. Vampires were everywhere lately and the committee must have assumed that the Winchesters were taking advantage of a hot topic. When Jack got a look at the schedule, though, he pointed out that the Winchesters had requested that the session take place, not in an auditorium or classroom, but in the garden. In the West garden, that happened to have no shade from the afternoon sun. Jack wasn't sure if the boys intended to teach other TMs and Defenders how to kill vampires or if they were just hoping to lure actual vamps into a sunlight-induced death. Either way, the TM/Defender organization had taken a neutral position on the whole undead thing and couldn't allow the session to take place.
At least Sam Winchester had had the grace to look chagrined at their ruse being discovered, but Dean had clearly been disappointed.
"Instead, we've put together an impromptu panel discussion," Ellison informed the group. "It's titled `What if the Female Love Interest isn't so Bad?" and will be headed up by Walter Skinner, with other panelists including our newest Defender, Peter Burke. The opposing view will be represented by Mac Taylor."
Ellison took a deep breath. "Okay, got the announcements out of the way, now on the housekeeping stuff. Printouts of today's presentations are in the notebook you were given when you picked up your registration materials. Defenders, if your TM has lost his, there's more at the back of the room. Cell phones should be turned off during this morning's presentation. " Jim's steely blue gaze swept across the room. "And they better be turned off, because believe me, I'll know if they aren't."
There was a flurry of motion and a scattering of beeps as phones were pulled out and turned off. Ellison smiled smugly.
"So, with no further ado, I want to present Dr. Blair Sandburg, consultant to the Cascade Police Department, professor of Anthropology at Rainier University and Trouble Magnet extraordinaire. "
Ellison stepped back and started clapping, the rest of the audience readily joining in. Jack had seen Blair waiting at the side of the stage and knew Blair well enough that he wasn't at all surprised to see the young man all but bounce up the few steps, waving at the audience as he did. Blair was an experienced teacher and from his easy stage presence, Jack could see why he was a popular one.
"Thanks everybody," Blair looked far more comfortable behind the podium than Ellison had. "Geez, Jim, go take a seat. You don't need to glare at the audience; they aren't going to bite me."
There was another round of laughter while Jim left the stage. Once the Defender was gone, Blair rubbed his hands together. Jack smirked; and here he'd thought Danny was enthusiastic about his subject.
"This morning's session is all about that most intimate of environments, our clothing," Blair picked up the remote control and a PowerPoint presentation lit up the screen behind him. A slide show started, comprised of pictures of different styles of clothing, from cultures all over the world.
Blair started pacing as he warmed up to his subject. "Clothing serves several functions. First and foremost, it's a portable environment, protecting us and keeping us comfortable. " A picture of an astronaut encapsulated in a spacesuit was pictured on the screen. "And not just against the elements, either. The current theory is that clothing began as a way to protect us from insects."
The screen changed again, this time to a photo of a fashion show runway.
"Of course, clothing also functions as adornment," Blair continued. The screen changed again, to a Native American in full feathered regalia. "As religious observation. " Another change, this time to that of portrait of Henry the VIII. "As a way of distinguishing social strata."
Jim Ellison cleared his throat and made a motion with his hand, clearly urging his TM to get to the point. Blair was long used to his Defenders impatience and just laughed.
"Okay, okay." Blair turned to his audience again. "The point is, your clothing gives clues. Clues about all sorts of things and we're all socialized from infancy to interpret those clues. You don't even need to be a profiler; you're reading people all the time."
He grinned at the crowd. "Let's start with something simple. The uniform. The Merriam Dictionary defines a uniform as "a dress of a distinctive design or fashion worn by members of a particular group and serving as a means of identification. '"
Jack was startled to see his own picture on the screen. A few men in the audience turned to look at him and Jack waved at them awkwardly.
"This is the epitome of a uniform," Blair explained. "Most people from our planet would recognize someone dressed like this as a member of the military or the police, even if they don't know what a Stargate is."
"And most of them better not," Jack grumbled under his breath.
"The insignias, the coverall design and even the stark color all earmark this as a uniform," Blair explained. "But the devil is in the details. Here's the same uniform, but worn by a different man."
The picture of Jack in SG1 attire was replaced by one of Daniel, eliciting some wolf calls from the audience. Jack's back came off the doorframe as he straightened to look around the room. Unfortunately, he didn't have Ellison's eyes or ears and couldn't determine who the guilty parties were.
"Look at the way Daniel wears the uniform," Blair instructed the audience. "The lines of the garment are basically the same, but Daniel's isn't so crisp. With the addition of longer hair and the lack of the standard issue head gear, Daniel manages to look like a civilian even while wearing a uniform."
The slide changed again, showing the two pictures side by side. Jack could immediately see what Blair was getting at. Danny wore the SG1 coverall well, it looked damn sexy if you asked Jack, but he didn't wear it with a military bearing.
"Now, if you were Trouble," Blair pointed at the slide, "which one of these two guys would you look for?"
Unfortunately, Jack knew the answer to that one. Luckily, Blair didn't linger on it, instead changing the slide again. This time it was a picture of Jack Malone on the screen.
"Remember that definition of uniform – `a dress of a distinctive design or fashion worn by members of a particular group and serving as a means of identification. '" Blair reiterated. "Although we tend to think of military and other occupations that use a formal uniform, there's such a thing as an informal or unofficial uniform." Blair grinned cheekily. "I think everybody that looks at this picture immediately knows that Jack is FBI."
There was a light chuckle from the audience.
"Notice how the suit he's wearing is dark, giving it defined edges and making Jack distinct from his surroundings. The dark color also implies authority and sternness. Now compare him to Martin Fitzgerald," a picture of Jack Malone's TM was added to the slide. "Martin is also FBI, but notice how he tends to wear earth tones, which are not only warmer, but also softer and make him appear more approachable. "
"Might be the lack of a scowl on Martin's face," someone called from the audience and there was another round of chuckles. Jack was sorry he couldn't see the other Jack's face; Malone was no doubt not happy at the moment.
"Yeah, but which came first?" Blair countered. "Does Jack dress this way because he's a Defender, complete with the attitude that comes with it, or does the way he's dressed affect your perception of him?"
There was silence from the audience.
Blair didn't let the lack of comment deter him. "Okay, uniforms are the easiest to analyze, but we can have some fun looking at other Defender/Trouble Magnet modes of dress too."
The slide shifted to show Jethro Gibbs. In the picture, Gibbs was wearing his normal attire of a knit polo shirt underneath a sport coat, with casual pants.
"Okay, here Gibbs is perfectly showing his ambivalence about being an authority figure," Blair explained. "How? He's wearing a jacket, but no tie. The clothes are presentable, but just short of formal and they're relatively comfortable, showing he's a man of action. Can anyone guess, though, how Gibbs still manages to give off an aura of authority?"
"A head smack?"
Jack smirked as he recognized Tony DiNozzo's voice. The tone of it was clearly full of amusement, but it broke off in a yelp. Gibbs must have demonstrated what Tony had quipped about.
Blair chuckled. "You've got the right part of the body."
"Hair cut," someone yelled out.
"Exactly," Blair pointed in the direction the voice had come from. "Gibbs looks like a no-nonsense, ex-military guy, who is active and doesn't stand much on appearance. Exactly like the man we know him to be. Tony, on the other hand is more mercurial."
The slide show changed rapidly, showing Tony DiNozzo in many different types of dress, both casual and in suits. As an experienced Defender, to Jack the lack of a coherent appearance showed a man insecure about who he was, but Jack was glad that Blair hadn't brought that up. It would be too embarrassing for Tony.
"Here's another one," Blair pressed the remote and changed the slide again. This time, it was a photo of the Winchester brothers. "Notice how Dean is wearing a leather coat and Sam a fabric one. Dean comes off as the tough guy and leather certainly has a tougher, harder appearance. It's also rather battered and scratched and we all know how rough it's been for Dean the last couple of years."
The mood in the room sobered. Even in a group of Trouble Magnets, the idea of going to Hell was pretty daunting.
Blair didn't let the change deter him. "Sam, on the other hand, is usually shown wearing a fabric coat of some sort. Textiles, by their very nature, are softer to the hand than leather, showcasing that Sam is the sensitive one of this pair. Or at least is willing to be viewed as the more sensitive one."
"Hey," Dean's voice rang out. "Since I wear leather, that makes me the Defender, right?"
Ellison was still standing at the side of the stage and turned to glare at Dean. "Pipe down, Winchester. You're on thin ice already."
In contrast, Blair just laughed again. "It's all right, Jim. Sorry, Dean, but there's no way I'm getting in the middle of that argument. Just no way, man."
Jack snorted. The Winchester brothers had been in the TM/Defender group for years, but no one had been able to figure out yet which one was the Trouble Magnet. Jack was all for labeling them both TMs and let Bobby Singer be their Defender. He had no doubt that being in a wheelchair wouldn't slow Bobby down one little bit. Some people were lobbying that Castiel would make a good Defender for the Winchester brothers, but Jack had his doubts. Cas might be angel, but he had some TM leanings of his own. The last thing they needed was three of them with an undetermined status.
Someone in the audience raised their hand and Blair acknowledged him. "Yes, Mac?"
Mac Taylor stood to ask his question. "Are you implying that the way a TM dresses attracts Trouble and that maybe they can avoid it by wearing something else?" After speaking, he sat down again.
Blair shook his head. "Although our friends in the profiling profession know that it's possible to make generalizations about modes of dress and how they relate to someone's character, it's not that simple when it comes to Trouble Magnets. Each couple has to be considered on their own, because each pairing exits in its own set of circumstances - its own universe, if you will. Here, let me show you."
The first slide was actually of Mac Taylor himself, along with his TM, Danny Messer.
"The TM is easy to detect in this photo, Mac's got a dark suit on – you sure you're not FBI, Mac?" Blair teased. "But Danny's wearing a knit shirt and jeans."
The difference was easy to see. Jack noted that it wasn't just the clothing, though. Mac's posture and expression showed the natural authority that was essential to a Defender.
"Here's another example," Blair went on. "Both FBI this time."
The next slide was Walter Skinner and Fox Mulder. Both were wearing dark suits, but Jack could easily see Mulder's TM status from the way his suit was more rumpled and how he slouched instead of standing straight.
"Here's a bit of a twist," Blair introduced the next slide, which was of Steve Sloan and Jesse Travis. "Steve is the Defender in this couple and is a police detective, but it's the TM that's wearing the uniform – a doctor's white coat. The reason that the coat doesn't provide the normal aura of authority a uniform offers is that Jesse is short."
Jesse took exception to that comment, protesting loudly enough for Jack to clearly hear, even from the back of the room. "Hey!"
Blair shrugged. "Sorry, Jess, it's true; you're short. I am too. Short is sexy, man. But you need to get your lab coats tailored more, because the way it is now, you look like you're wearing your dad's lab coat."
"More like Steve's dad's coat," someone hooted.
Jack saw Steve Sloan swivel in the general direction that the comment came from. "And so what if he does? I happen to like it that way."
"Dirty old man," came from another area of the audience, but there was no heat in the statement. It was more like admiration.
Steve grinned and wrapped an arm around Jesse's shoulder. "You better believe it."
"Okay, back to the subject at hand," Blair brought the crowd back on target. "Here's another example, from a very different set of circumstances. "
The slide showed Mal Reynolds and Simon Tam. Mal was dressed in his trademarked long brown coat, the dull color making a solid backdrop for Simon's brightly colored vest. Jack winced. Brocade on a TM meant Trouble for certain.
"Mal's wearing the remnants of a uniform, but he's doing it in defiance of the current authority," Blair explained. "Simon is actually dressed more appropriately for his particular social strata, but he's the one that attracts Trouble, mostly because he's not in his social network anymore; he's in Mal's."
"Clothing is a very personal choice," Blair went on. "I'm not advocating that any TM – or Defender, for that matter – change their manner of dress just to fit in or to try and camouflage themselves from Trouble. However, having said that, I think there are a couple of examples I can use that show some things to be aware of."
The slide changed yet again, this time to a picture of Spencer Reid, who looked very different from any FBI agent that had been shown so far.
"Geek is chic," Blair stated, leaning back on his heels. "With the technology explosion that's occurred in the last decade, being smart's just as cool as being a jock."
Jack smirked. Trust a geek to have that point of view. He thought of his Danny, though, and had to concede the point. There was something so very appealing about brain power.
"Spencer here is the epitome of `Geek Chic,'" Blair claimed. "His clothing has an air of being old fashioned, yet he pairs it a modern haircut, a modern haircut that I'd like to point out is also a very non-traditional for the FBI," Blair teased, his own curly hair brushing his shoulders as he bounced in place. "Maybe the old fashioned clothing is an attempt to look older, since we know that gaining authority outside of his team can be hard for someone whose intelligence has placed them ahead of their age peers, in terms of job placement."
Spencer was sitting towards the back of the audience and Jack could see the young man squirm a little in his seat. Aaron Hotchner and Jason Gideon were sitting to either side of him and both men put an arm around Spencer's shoulders.
"And notice the vest," Blair went on. "Spencer's wearing a sweater vest, in keeping with his geek image, but we've been seeing an upswing of vests, largely thanks to the efforts of Patrick Jane."
Jack scowled at the name. Patrick Jane was yet another one that was hard to pin down. Originally it had been assumed that the man was a Trouble Magnet, but now it was thought that he might be the rare Trouble Instigator, which made him a rather unpopular figure in certain circles. Defenders had a hard enough time keeping their TMs safe without someone actually courting Trouble.
Blair pointed his next comments towards Spencer, although from his tone and demeanor, they were obviously meant as friendly advice and not criticism. "Spencer, if you're dressing to look older, you might have to adjust the fit of your clothes. Like Jesse's white coat, they have a tendency to look a bit big on you." He grinned widely and changed the slide. "And lose the purple scarf. Please. That's taking the geek thing just a little too far."
"On the other hand," Blair changed the slide to one that showed Greg Sanders in the lab and Greg Sanders in the field. "Greg, we're happy for you that you got out of the lab, but we miss the hair, man."
Several in the audience murmured an agreement, but Jack wasn't one of them. Sure, Greg had been cute with the wilder hair he could get away with while stuck working in the CSI lab, but out in the field, he needed a more socially acceptable hairstyle. Greg apparently didn't agree, because he had a mournful expression on his face as he ran his fingers through his short and, up until then, tidy hair.
The slide changed yet again and, for a moment, Jack didn't recognize the man pictured. He was a little on the slender side, but not as lanky as Spencer Reid. The unknown man had dark hair and light colored eyes, but it was the hat that gave him away. Jack had met Neal Caffrey briefly and didn't envy Peter Burke at all. Caffrey was a con man and not only was Burke his Defender, but as an FBI agent, Peter had to keep Caffrey on the good side of the law. From the little Jack had seen of Neal, that couldn't be an easy job.
"Neal here is wearing a vest, which we've already established is a growing trend," Blair pointed out. "His clothes are also high quality and stylish, but they're a fraud too, since they were obtained second hand and not from the original source. Bravo, Neal. You're new on the scene, but, man, you know how to work it."
For a moment, Blair lingered, like he was having an inner debate. Evidently having reached a decision, he turned back towards the slide. "But the hat. . . . like Spencer's scarf, the hat's a bit much."
"The hat's a classic!"
Jack could see where Neal and Peter were sitting. Even from the distance Jack was, he could see the pout on Neal Caffrey's face. No, he didn't envy Peter Burke at all.
"Hey, beauty's in the eye of the beholder," Blair shrugged. "But what do you say, fellas? Let's take an informal poll. All those in favor of the hat, raise your hand."
It was easy to see that about a third of the room agreed with Neal about the hat. They were, however, predominantly TMs.
"Okay. How many are not in favor of the hat?" Blair asked.
About another third of the room raised their hand.
"I'd say it's about an even split," Jim Ellison interrupted. "One third for, one third against and one third don't give a rip." The Sentinel tapped on his watch.
"Yeah, yeah," Blair looked at the audience sheepishly. "I've just been reminded that my time this morning is limited. Let's look at one more slide and, to be fair, this time I'll point out something that a Defender could be doing a little better."
Much to Jack's surprise, the photo on the slide was that of Jim Ellison. Blair was facing away from the screen and hadn't noticed. His Defender, though, had.
"Chief!" Ellison demanded of his TM. "What the hell is that?"
Blair turned around and looked at the picture. His gasp was audible even at the very back of the auditorium. Jack had to snicker. No fashion plate himself, he normally approved of Jim's casual attire, with one exception; the man always wore bright white socks, no matter what the color of his pants or shoes were. At the moment, the socks were practically gleaming in the photo.
"Very funny," Blair turned around to scold the audience. "Who inserted this into my presentation? "
There were muffled snickers from all over the audience and Ellison's head bobbed around as he attempted to track the many sources. Not surprisingly, no one confessed.
"I'd meant to talk about how Gibbs' t-shirt is often showing," Blair plunged ahead with his presentation. "I mean, we know he's macho and not much for appearances, but that's going a little far. There is such a thing as a v-neck undershirt, Gibbs."
"Turn the projector down," someone called from the audience. "The glare from the socks is blinding us."
Jack recognized the voice as coming John Sheppard, his counterpart in the Pegasus galaxy. He figured that the other Stargate officer was only brazen enough to heckle Ellison because he'd soon be millions of miles away from potential retribution.
"Hey, I have to wear white socks, Sheppard" Jim came up on stage and glared at Sheppard. "It's a hygiene thing."
Blair looked at the screen and tapped his lips as he considered what he saw. "They are awfully white, Jim."
Not really eager to have to come between a TM and his own Defender, Jack waved his arms until Blair looked at him. When he did, Jack made a desperate rolling gesture with his hands. Luckily, Blair understood him.
"It really doesn't matter," Blair continued while Jim continued to sputter. "The point is, whether you're a TM or a Defender, you should be aware that how you're dressed gives visual clues."
Blair changed the slide one final time. "Having said that, though, the last thing I want to leave you with is a caution to be careful about judging a book by its cover," he gestured towards the two men pictured on the screen. "Nick Stokes is an athletic man, clearly in the prime of his life."
Jack nodded in agreement. Nick looked very muscular in the short-sleeved knit top he was wearing in the picture. The CSI was leaning against an SUV and his gun was strapped to his waist. He was the very picture of the typical stereotype of a macho man.
"While Gil Grissom looks, well, he looks a like an academic," Blair gestured towards the other man on the screen. "He doesn't look as athletic as Nick at all."
That understatement caused Jack to snort. In a photo, Gil Grissom looked downright soft, not overweight, but not in prime physical condition either. He didn't look capable of Defending anyone, but as Blair was in the process of pointing out, appearances could be deceiving.
"Someone not in the know might look at these two and assume that Nick is the Defender," Blair grinned as the crowd broke out in laughter. "Yeah, that's my point exactly. So, be aware of what you're wearing, but don't jump to conclusions. Thanks for attention and I hope you enjoy the rest of your time with us here in Cascade."
Jim Ellison was still on the stage and he started applauding loudly. The rest of the crowd joined in and probably hadn't even needed Jim scowling at them to do it. Blair's presentation had been interesting, on several levels.
"Thank you, Dr. Sandburg, that was interesting, " Jim stepped to the podium and spoke into the microphone. "I took a lot of notes and not about the lecture either. There will be several of you that I'll be talking to, at length, later."
Several of the TMs in the room squirmed and Jack sighed. If Ellison went after any of them for talking during Blair's lecture, there would be ruffled feathers to smooth later on.
"Now we're going to be breaking into small groups, depending on what your interest is. Defenders, your session choices include `Computers 101,' which is being taught by our special guest, Miss Abby Sciuto. Gibbs, Abby said to tell you that your attendance is mandatory." Ellison smirked before continuing. "For those of you who are actually computer literate, alternate sessions include `Leash His Puppy Dog Eyes' and `How to Protect your TM without Stifling Him."
Ellison didn't leave out the TMs either. "Trouble Magnets, your sessions include `Computer Hacking – Don't Even Think About It,' which is being taught by John McClane." Several people in the crowd tittered and Ellison glanced at them sternly. "McClane might not know much about computers, but he knows plenty about deterrent tactics, isn't that right, Farrell?"
The snickering abruptly stopped.
"For those of you not in the habit of illegally accessing other people's computers," Ellison continued, "we also have `Manly Lap Sitting' and "Defender as Teddy Bear." Jim waved at the crowd. "The room designations are in your programs and we'll meet in the banquet room for lunch."
Jack heaved a sigh of relief as the men in the room began to disperse. The small groups weren't as volatile, since TMs and Defenders were separated. Jack hadn't chosen a small group for himself, instead deciding on some down time. He waited, though, to see where Daniel was going. He didn't have to wait long; Danny was making his way towards him.
"So what did you think?" Danny asked when he reached Jack. "Of Blair's talk, I mean."
"Interesting, " Jack admitted. "Not really sure I agree with everything Blair said, though."
"Oh?" Danny asked, ready to defend a fellow anthropologist.
"Yeah," Jack replied, having to work at not grinning. "I really like Neal's hat."
Danny rolled his eyes. "And here I thought you'd have something to say about the uniform."
Jack shrugged. "Gotta love a man in uniform."
"Yeah," Danny grinned back at him. "I do."
To his embarrassment, Jack blushed. "Well, me too."
Danny laughed and kissed him, but the kiss was all too brief. Jack growled and pulled him closer, demanding and getting something deeper.
"Are you going to a small group session?" Jack asked, pleased at the dazed look in Danny's eyes.
"Well, I don't know computers well enough to hack, so I don't need John McClane to try and scare me out of it," Danny answered, not trying to get out of Jack's arms. "I can't decide, though, if I need lessons about lap sitting or cuddling with my Defender."
Jack sucked in a breath. "Tell you what, why don't we go back up to our room and I can give you a lesson about lap sitting and cuddling – both at the same time."
"Private lessons?" Danny asked, eyes twinkling.
"Very private," Jack replied firmly.
At that, Danny stepped away from Jack, but since it was only to take his hand and start to lead him towards the door, Jack didn't complain.