Loose Ends, Part 1
Summary: Now that they’ve made their decision, it’s time to start tying up loose ends. Part of A New Direction series; continues on from A New Path; crossover with Stargate SG-1.
Author’s Note: Un-beta’d as usual. Small warning for very limited language…fairly mild, really, but thought it best to include a warning.
Disclaimer: Jim, Blair, Simon, et al, and The Sentinel belong to Pet Fly, UPN, and Paramount. Jack and the gang belong to MGM, and the other Stargate Powers That Be. No copyright infringement is intended.
“Jim! I can’t find my other cufflink, man!” Blair’s voice sounded muffled.
Curious, Jim wandered over to the doorway to Blair’s bedroom and peered inside. All he could see was Blair’s legs and feet sticking out from under the small desk that housed his computer.
“Where did you last have it, Chief?”
“Both of them were on my desk last night, man, I swear!” Blair backed out from under his desk and slumped onto the floor, brushing his hair back out of his face.
Jim scanned the room slowly, then started to laugh when he realised where the ‘missing’ cufflink could be found.
“Come on, man, it’s not funny. You gave me those cufflinks as a graduation present. I’ve got to find it, Big Guy, I’ve just got to!” He cast a desperate gaze around the room.
“Calm down, Chief,” Jim was still laughing as he reached down and grabbed Blair’s hands and lifted them up, exposing the cufflink shining brightly on each cuff. “Nervous much, Chief?” he teased as Blair groaned at the realisation that he’d just spent twenty minutes looking for a cufflink that wasn’t actually lost.
“I’m sorry, man. I’ve tried to tell myself that it’s no big deal, you know, but I just can’t seem to stop myself stressing,” Blair followed Jim out to the living room, dropping heavily onto the couch.
“We’ve still got half an hour before we have to leave, so how about I fix you one of your calming teas?” Jim asked, continuing on to the kitchen and filling the kettle.
“Would you, man? That would be great, thanks,” Blair leant back on the couch, resting his head on the back and closing his eyes. “I’ve tried to meditate, but it just isn’t happening for me this morning.”
“Just take it easy, Chief,” Jim smiled sympathetically. “You’ll be fine,” he added, heading for the door. What are they doing here? They were supposed to be heading back to Colorado last night…
“Who is it, Jim?” Blair had seen the telltale cock of the head and the movement toward the door.
“Just some unexpected visitors,” Jim smiled as he opened the door to reveal O’Neill, Carter, Teal’c, and Daniel clustered in the hallway.
“See,” O’Neill turned to Daniel, “I told you we wouldn’t need to knock!”
“Come on in, everyone,” Jim stepped back to allow them access, idly noting that Carter and O’Neill were in dress uniform, and that Teal’c and Daniel were both wearing suits, Teal’c with the addition of a fedora to cover the golden tattoo on his forehead. “Nothing’s wrong, is it? We thought you were heading back last night.”
“Well, it seems that Daniel and Carter were hanging out to see Sandburg graduate, and T was pretty keen as well, since he’s never seen a graduation ceremony before,” O’Neill shrugged.
“Right, Jack, like you weren’t the one who insisted that we all brought our good outfits with us,” Daniel rolled his eyes.
“Daniel has a point, Sir,” Carter grinned at her team leader.
“Indeed,” Teal’c added with a twitch of his eyebrow. “There is also this package which you insisted be express delivered to us no later than this morning.”
“Yeah, that’s right, gang up on the Colonel,” O’Neill muttered, struggling to keep a straight face.
“It’s great that you decided to stay, guys,” Blair grinned happily at the foursome. “It means a lot that you’ll be there for me today.”
“We’re a team, kid,” O’Neill grasped his shoulder firmly. “It’s like being part of a family, so how could we miss the baby of the family’s graduation?”
“This is so cool!” Blair bounced over to the kitchen to help Jim with the coffees and teas.
O’Neill followed and quickly pushed Jim out of the kitchen. “I’ll help the kid with that. You’re out of uniform, Colonel,” he waved a hand at the suit pants, dress shirt and tie that Jim was wearing.
“Kind of hard not to be, Colonel, since I don’t have a dress uniform,” Jim told him with a grin.
“What do you think’s in the package, Jim?” Carter grinned as Teal’c handed the large box to Jim.
“Cool, man! Can’t wait to see you in fancy dress!” Blair laughed at the stunned expression on Jim’s face.
“Watch it, ‘little brother’,” Carter scowled at him with mock ferocity.
“Oops!” Blair grinned and ducked back into the kitchen, using O’Neill as a shield.
“Don’t expect any help from me, squirt!” O’Neill cuffed him lightly up the back of the head.
“Hey, man, not the hair!”
“Do you think they’ll mind that I’m here?” Joel Taggart squirmed uncomfortably in his seat, as he looked around the auditorium, trying to spot Blair or Jim.
“Just calm down, Joel,” Simon Banks told him firmly. “Jim specifically asked me to see if you wanted to be here, so I’d say they won’t have a problem with it, okay?” He’d also told Simon to hold five seats when he’d rung to confirm that he’d see him at the ceremony, but Banks had no idea why.
“Okay,” Joel nodded, turning in his seat to check out a group of new arrivals. “Holy shit!”
Simon turned hurriedly to see what had startled Joel. “Oh, my God!”
Blair was walking down the central aisle wearing his ceremonial robes, chatting a mile a minute to a tall bespectacled man in a suit and a woman in Air Force dress uniform – a Major, if the glimpse Simon had gotten of the insignia on the shoulders of her dress uniform was correct. Immediately behind the trio was a huge dark-skinned man wearing a suit and a fedora, but it was the two men that were bringing up the rear that caused Simon’s jaw to drop.
One was in Air Force dress uniform, with the eagles of a full Colonel on his shoulders, and walking right next to him, responding to something he’d said and laughing, was Jim, wearing full Army dress uniform, also complete with eagles on his shoulders.
“Simon! Joel! You made it! I’m so glad you could both be here!” Blair had reached them, and quickly shook both men’s hands. “Oh, this is Doctor Daniel Jackson, Major Doctor Samantha Carter, and Murray Teal’c, all of whom we’ll be working with in Colorado. Everyone, this is Captain Joel Taggart, and Captain Simon Banks, of the Cascade Police Department, Major Crime Division.” Blair breathed a mental sigh of relief when he remembered the alias that Daniel had told him Teal’c used when outside the Mountain.
The five exchanged rapid greetings as Blair ushered Carter, Daniel, and Teal’c into three of the seats that Simon had been saving. By the time they were all seated, Jim and the Air Force Colonel had reached them.
“Joel, you’ve met Colonel Jack O’Neill. Jack, you remember Captain Taggart, and this is Captain Simon Banks, Cascade PD Major Crime Division,” Blair looked up as a soft buzzer sounded throughout the auditorium. “Gotta go to my seat, guys. I’ll catch up with you afterwards, okay?” With a wave and a bounce, he was off, heading to the rows of seats at the front where his fellow graduates were gathering.
The others had shuffled along to allow Jim to sit next to Simon.
“What’s with the uniform, Jim? I thought you only signed back up two days ago?” Simon asked softly once they were all seated.
“I did, It’s a long story, Simon,” Jim grinned a little self-consciously. “Basically, they” he gestured toward the four people next to him, “made me wear it.”
O’Neill leaned forward and flashed Simon a wicked grin. “He’s telling the truth, Captain!”
“Shut up, flyboy” Jim grumbled.
“That’s ‘flyboy, Sir’, to you, groundpounder!” O’Neill shot back
“But you’re both Colonels,” Simon pointed out, amused at the byplay between Jim and O’Neill.
“What can I say, Simon? Seniority’s a bitch!” Jim laughed quietly then turned his attention to the stage, where the graduation ceremony was about to commence.
It was a long, tedious ceremony, given that they were really only interested in seeling Blair receive his Doctorate. The Bachelor’s degrees were presented first, then the Master’s. Finally, the ceremony was drawing to a close, with the presentation of the Doctorates the final item on the agenda.
As luck would have it, the doctoral graduates were presented by surname, in alphabetical order, rather than according to their field of study. There were only five graduates, and ‘Sandburg’ was alphabetically the last in the list.
As the ceremony dragged on, Jim found his mind wandering to the list of things that he and Blair had to get done before they left to report to the SGC on the twenty-seventh.
They’d already started to compile a list of what they needed to take with them, what could be shipped and put into storage until they found a place of their own, and what they would be leaving behind, either in storage, or in the loft.
He’d already decided that he would put the loft up for rent, at least for the moment. Thanks to the back pay he’d received after returning from Peru, he owned the loft outright, and it made more sense to keep it as an income-generating asset, rather than selling it for an immediate profit. With what he and Blair would be making, they shouldn’t have any problem buying a place in Colorado Springs eventually, although they’d probably rent for a while. That way they’d have time to look around and find something that suited them both rather than having to rush into anything.
Telling Simon that they’d decided to take up the offer from the military wasn’t exactly an issue anymore, although having Simon see him in uniform wasn’t exactly how he’d planned on letting him know. He had to suppress a chuckle at the memory of the look on Simon and Joel’s faces when they’d spotted him walking towards them with Jack. The things you see when you don’t have a camera at the ready…
He’d call Stephen in the morning. They’d come a long way since their hesitant first meeting during the racecourse construction scam, and he was hoping that they’d continue they way they were heading at the moment. Actually, Stephen could probably help him find a real estate agent who could look after renting the loft for him, and it would be another way of letting Stephen know that he valued his opinion.
Informing his father would be one of the last things he’d do before he left Cascade. While they’d made some progress towards a reconciliation, William Ellison had gone completely off the deep end when the dissertation mess had erupted, venting his rage at Blair and Jim for bringing the Ellison name into disrepute. They hadn’t really spoken since then, and Jim certainly wasn’t looking forward to having to speak to him now, although he was fairly certain that the elder Ellison would be glad to see the back of him, especially if it meant that there would be little chance of any further media disasters.
He idly wondered when Blair was going to be able to catch up with Naomi, and immediately decided that he’d be making himself scarce while his partner told her about his new job. She’d been upset enough about her son working with the police. He didn’t want to even think about how she’d feel about him working with the military, for one thing, and on a top secret project for another.
With a sigh, Jim dragged his attention back to the ceremony, a little surprised that his ruminations had occupied him for so long. The presentation of the Master’s degrees had just finished, so it wouldn’t be long now.
Jim and Simon abandoned all decorum when Blair’s name was finally announced and he walked up onto the stage to collect his the scroll from Chancellor Edwards, who looked as though she was going to be ill. The clapping and cheering from first Jim and Simon, and then Joel, O’Neill, and Carter only seemed to heighten Edwards’ discomfort, much to Jim’s delight. He despised the woman with a passion for the trouble she’d caused for Blair, and any chance to get back at her was well worth the effort as far as he was concerned.
As he watched Blair blush with embarrassed pleasure at all the noise they were making, Jim’s only regret was that Naomi hadn’t made it to the graduation. Blair had left messages for her all over the place, but had been unable to contact her directly – she’d pretty much gone to ground after the dissertation disaster.
After the ceremony, they’d gathered outside to take the obligatory pictures, and for Joel and Simon to give Blair the small gifts they’d bought to mark his graduation.
“So, what now, campers?” O’Neill asked, lounging against a wall, his hands shoved nonchalantly into his trouser pockets.
“I’ve booked a table at Mantovani’s for a celebratory lunch,” Jim named an upmarket Italian restaurant that was among Blair’s favourites.
“Cool,” O’Neill grinned, pushing away from the wall, pulling the keys to the rental car out of his pocket.
Teal’c had seen the redheaded woman approaching. Not recognising her, and since she did not appear to be a threat to his team mates, he allowed his gaze to continue to scan the rest of the graduation crowd.
Blair froze at the sound of a very familiar voice. He turned and flashed a huge smile at his mother. “Naomi! You made it!”
“Of course I made it! I’m so proud of you, Blair!” Naomi hugged her son, the pulled back, a bewildered expression on her face. “Sweetie? Why is Jim in that uniform?”
Only Sentinel ears could have detected Blair’s agonised groan.
“Oh, man, I am so dead!”