Blue Christmas
By Juli
August 2001
Challenge story

Christmas sucked.
Jesse Travis indulged in one final heavy sigh before getting out of the car.  The young intern had
been honored to be included in Mark's holiday dinner and didn't want to mar the festivities with
his own melancholy.  Jesse had only known Dr. Sloan for a couple of months, but the older
doctor had rapidly become the father figure he had been craving since his own dad had walked
out of his life over a decade ago.  Mark had made him a member of the family almost from the
start, encouraging not only his studies, but also his involvement in solving crimes.  Jesse couldn't
have asked for a better mentor.
Not only was Mark a caring man, however, he was also an observant one.  If he noticed Jesse
was un-jolly during the jolliest time of the year, then he'd naturally ask why... and Jesse wasn't
sure he was ready to tell his new friends just yet.
It was all so pathetic.
Christmas was supposed to be the happiest time of the year, full of good cheer towards your
fellow man, decorations designed to lift your spirits, fa-la-la-la-la and all that crap.  Jesse was a
reasonable young man.  He could live with the sound of carols being piped through the shopping
mall and retailers urging people to buy, buy, buy... it was the holiday orientation towards family
that caused a problem for him.
With a mental shake, Jesse wrenched his thoughts back to the present.  It was time to shove those
feelings down into their customary part of his heart.  He'd deal with them later, like he did every
holiday.  For now, it was time to put on his happy face and be a gracious guest.
"Jesse!" Mark greeted the student as he arrived, his enthusiasm not at all dimmed by the fact that
he'd just spent a long shift with the younger doctor.  "Come on in, here's some eggnog."  The
white-haired man handed him a glass.  "We were just talking about you."
"Nice things I hope," Jesse said, a little apprehensive.
"We were just wondering, Dr. Travis," Norman Briggs explained, the hospital administrator's
eyes twinkling in uncommon good humor.  "How the newest Community General intern
managed to get Christmas off?"
Jesse shrugged as nonchalantly as he could manage, given that his shoulders had just tensed. 
This touched on the very subject he didn't want broached.  "Justin Hurley's wife is pregnant, he
needs all the overtime he can get and Christmas is double pay.  I gave him all my hours to help
out."  The young man looked around the festively decorated living room, looking for a way to
distract his friends.  Despite the huge tree, garland on every available surface, and more
poinsettias than he could count, something was still missing.  Something important. Or, rather,
somebody.  "Where's Steve?"
Mark paused in the middle of hanging up Jesse's coat.  "He should be here any minute.  He's
getting ready to go out of town on that skiing trip tomorrow and you know how that is, lots of
last minute details to straighten out before you go."
Jesse smiled at his older friend.  Having spent the afternoon helping Mark tie up his own loose
ends, he knew just what the other doctor meant.  The older Sloan's situation was made even
worse by the fact that he didn't really want to spend the holiday in Europe, but had been
maneuvered into it by his pushy sister.  Only the fact that Steve himself would be gone had
convinced Mark to leave.
"Tell me about it," Amanda Livingston commiserated.  "I've really looked forward to meeting
Collin in Hawaii, but sometimes the extra paper work doesn't seem worth it."
"I keep telling you, Amanda," Norman smugly chided.  "If you properly delegate and plan
adequately, everything runs smoothly."  Indeed, like the others, Normal was leaving the next day
to visit his mother on the East Coast, but he didn't look nearly as frazzled as his colleagues.
"Well, we don't all have your foresight and organizational abilities, Norman," Mark temporized, 
then turned back towards his youngest guest.  "What about you, Jess?  You never did say how
you'd be spending your unexpected holiday."
Jesse shifted on his seat.  This was exactly the question he'd hoped to avoid.  "Ummmm... I
hadn't decided exactly."
"Your mom must be anxious to have you come back to Chicago," Amanda guessed, "This was
going to be your first Christmas away from home, right?"
"Not exactly," Jesse responded.  "I mean, yes, this is my first Christmas away from Chicago, but,
no, I'm not going to Illinois.  My mom already has plans to go on a cruise with her boyfriend.  If
she changes them now, she loses her deposit."
"What about your father?" Norman asked.
The intern suddenly found the holly vine pattern printed on his eggnog cup very fascinating and
he concentrated on tracing the intricate detailing with his fingers rather than looking at his
companions.  "He's got a new family," Jesse said softly.  "And they've got their own plans." 
He'd actually called his dad that afternoon when he realized that he'd be free for the holiday, but
Dane Travis told him that his wife's parents would be spending Christmas with them and that
there was, literally, no room for Jesse.
"Oh, Jess," Mark said.  "I'm sorry to hear that.  Normally, Steve and I would love to have you
spend Christmas with us, but we're both out of town this year."  Indeed, it seemed that most of
their circle of friends were traveling, which was why Mark's annual holiday dinner was taking
place on December 23 rather than Christmas Eve itself.
Damn.  Jesse hated the sympathy in Mark Sloan's voice.  This was exactly what he didn't want,
that his friends should pity him.  It had meant so much to him that he'd been invited to this
gathering simply because they wanted his company and not because anyone felt sorry for him.
"Hey, it's not like this is the first Christmas I've spent on my own," The young blond said to the
room at large.  "Even when Dad lived with us, he traveled a lot over the holidays and Mom, she's
a doctor.  You guys know what that means.  She got called out more times than I can remember. 
I'll sleep late, maybe get a little surfing in or maybe go to a movie, grab some Chinese for dinner. 
I'll be fine."  In short, it would be like most of his other Christmases. Better, even, if he really
could hit the beach.
From the looks on their faces, his friends didn't agree, but the entrance of Steve Sloan saved  him
from having to say anything further.
"Ho, ho, ho," The detective called out as he entered the home he shared with his father.  "Sorry
I'm late, folks."
"That's okay," Jesse leapt at the chance to change the subject.  "Your dad was just telling us how
your annual ski trip is on Christmas this year.  You always go with an old army buddy, right?"
Steve ran a hand through his sandy blond hair, looking a bit chagrined.  "Actually... it looks like
there won't be a skiing trip this year."
"What?  Steve, we each were to leave on our own trips tomorrow.  I never would have agreed to
escort your aunt on her holiday tour of Europe if I thought I'd be leaving you alone at
Christmas."  Dismayed, Mark stared at his son.
Steve tried to mollify his father.  "I know, Dad, I know.  It couldn't be helped.  Jack's on some
sort of hush-hush mission."  It was a pretty good excuse. Colonel O'Neill had been assigned a lot
of those in the past couple of years but whatever section of the military his friend was caught up
in, it was highly classified and he couldn't tell Sloan about it.  Ex-military himself, Steve
understood and didn't press for details.
It wasn't the truth, but as an excuse, it would have to do.  His father, as liberal and open-minded
as he had always been, wasn't ready for the truth.
"That's *wonderful*!" Mark exclaimed.
Steve blinked at his dad, non-plussed at the rapid shift in attitude.  "Excuse me?"
"Jesse was just telling us that he didn't have any plans for the holiday, but now he can go skiing
with you... and neither one of you will be alone for Christmas."
The older Sloan was positively beaming as he made his pronouncement, never noticing the
matching looks of dismay on Steve and Jesse's faces.
***************************************
"Steve, I'm really sorry about this..."
The older man sighed.  He'd been hearing the same phrase all the way from Los Angeles and was
beginning to get a bit tired of it.  "Jess, for the hundredth time, it's *okay.* I know this was all
Dad's idea.  You were just an innocent bystander."
"Yeah, it's just that I'm sure you'd rather be spending time with your army buddy than with me,"
His traveling companion said.  "If Mark hadn't figured out that I didn't have other plans, this
never would have happened.  I mean, normal people have a place to go on Christmas."
Steve took a good look at Jesse's woebegone face and melted.  He hadn't meant to be so hard on
the intern.  It had been easier to keep his responses to Jesse's many apologies short and to the
point.  He certainly hadn't meant to give the other man the impression that he didn't want him
along on the trip...
Even if it was true.
Not for any reason Jesse might be able to imagine, however.  Steve didn't want to share a skiing
trip with Jesse Travis only because he was afraid that he himself would not be able to keep his
hands off the younger man.
Of all the students to take under his wing, why did his father have to choose one as irresistible as
Jesse?
From the moment Jesse had bounced into Community General, Steve had been smitten.  Not only
was the younger man small but athletic (Steve preferred a lover that he could tuck under his chin,
but wasn't attracted to the wimpy type of man), but he had a bright and sunny disposition too. 
The detective was just itching to get the intern alone sometime and see if he really were as naive
as he seemed...
Steve Sloan strove to keep *that* aspect of his life tightly under control and strictly under wraps. 
Not even his father knew of the detective's preference for men and Steve loved his dad too much
to test the boundaries of his father's open mind.  He'd learned from his sister's mistake that there
was a limit to Mark Sloan's non-judgmental nature.  Steve had no desire to be ousted from his
father's life for choosing the wrong mate, like Caroline had.  No, he'd learned early on to be
discreet but it was getting harder as he got older.  His body's physical demands had decreased a
bit over the years, but conversely, the needs of his heart had become more important. The
combination made it nigh on impossible to find physical release with just anyone.
His annual trips with Jack O'Neill had been a life-saver.  Both men were in professions not
known for their acceptance of same-sex relationships.  Their yearly get-away was a means to find
sexual release with a trusted friend, sort of like screwing it out of their systems so they could go
on with the rest of their life.
So, instead of the much-anticipated buddy fuck fest he'd been looking forward to for months,
Steve was on a trip with the man who'd been starring in his fantasies of late, but who was also a
man that he didn't dare make a move on. It was no wonder that Steve was cranky... but it wasn't
Jesse's fault and the older man felt like a heel for causing him to feel bad.
"Look, Jess," the detective said, pausing in the process of unlocking the cabin.  Perhaps while
they were shivering on the doorstep wasn't the best place to have this conversation, but he
wanted to fix the situation before Jesse endured another minute of feeling unwanted.  "I think it's
safe to say that this isn't how either of us imagined spending our Christmas, but that doesn't
automatically mean that it's going to be bad.  Just different."
"Really?" Jesse's voice was hopeful, but with an underlying tone of doubt.  "You just seemed a
little less than enthusiastic to have me tagging along."
Inwardly, Steve winced.  He hadn't realized he'd been that obvious.  "Sorry I gave you that
impression, Jess.  I've just got a big case on my mind is all."
The young blond's expression cleared, this explanation obviously having set his mind at ease. 
"Maybe I can help you with that.  I don't know much about police work, but after hanging around
you and your dad for a couple of months, I'm starting to pick some things up.  Besides, Mark
says I'm a fast learner."
Steve chuckled as he finished unlocking the door and ushered the distracted younger man into the
cabin. What Jesse lacked in height, he certainly made up for with enthusiasm.  "Slow down, Jess. 
This trip is supposed to be fun."
The detective refused   absolutely   to think about what other things his companion's agile
tongue could do besides merely chattering.
"It's a good thing you had us rent our skis on the way in, the way they're going, they'll be all out
by the end of the night," Jesse said.  Now that he'd been successfully reassured that Steve didn't
mind having him along, the young doctor was talking off some pent up stress.  "I thought doctors
had it bad, having to work on holidays, but who would have thought that the slopes would be so
crowded at Christmas?  Although, when you think about it, people do get skis for Christmas
presents and they're bound to want to try them out   oh, wow..."
Jesse's voice broke off as he good a good look at the cabin.
The eating area was sparse, not too surprising considering the resort had several restaurants of
their own to promote.  Most of the common space was taken up by a large sunken living room. 
A rustic fireplace was placed there, with dozens of pillows making for a cozy nook.  The doors to
the bedrooms revealed that they were uneven in size, probably for parents traveling with
children.  One was large, with a proportionately sized bed, while the other was more modest in
scope.
Steve and Jack had always rented the same cabin, the two bedrooms having been for decency's
sake rather than any real need.  Still, Sloan had reason now to be thankful for their caution. 
Explaining a single bedroom arrangement might have been a bit difficult given the current
situation.  Jesse was naive, not stupid.
A soft question interrupted the detective's line of thought.
"You guys didn't come up here to go skiing, did you?"
Steve turned around to find Jesse staring seriously at him.  "Why do you say that?" The older
man gulped.
"Look at this place," Jesse said.  "It's designed for people who want to stay inside, not for people
who plan on spending all day on the mountain.  Besides, it's the furthest cabin from the slopes,
so isolated that you *really* have to know it was here to be able to find it."
The taller blond blinked.  Apparently Jesse's observation skills had improved since studying with
Mark.  
"Amanda was right," The intern concluded, "You and Jack come up here every winter just to
pick up girls."
Thankfully, however, his powers of deduction hadn't kept pace.
Steve barely stopped himself from sighing with relief. His feeling of gratitude at not having been
discovered diminished, however, when he saw the undeniably sad look on his companion's face. 
"Jesse," He replied, instinctively moved to again reassure his young friend. "I can honestly say
that I have never 'picked up' a woman on one of these trips.  Not even once.  Haven't even been
tempted."
"Good." 
It took Jesse a minute, but he realized what he said and a blush quickly spread up from his neck
to the tips of his ears.  Before he could begin to stammer an explanation, however, a sneeze
rocked him back on his heels. 
And then another one.
Steve looked down at the smaller man's feet.  "Tennis shoes, Jess?" He chided.  "Remind me,
which one of us is supposed to be the medical expert here?  Even I know that sneakers aren't
good enough for snowy conditions."
"Hey, we've been in the car for XXX hours," The intern defended.  "I thought these'd be more
appropriate for traveling in.  I've got boots for later."
"Tell you what," Steve suggested, putting his hands on the other man's shoulder blades and
gently pushing him towards the smaller of the two bedrooms.  "You change out of those shoes
and put some socks on, I'll make us some hot chocolate. That'll warm you up."
"Yes, Mom," Jesse protested, smiling even as he hurried to do the detective's bidding. 
The cop snorted, not at all impressed.  "All I've got to say is, that you've mistaken me for your
mother, maybe you didn't do as well in medical school as you claim."
***************************************
Jesse closed the bedroom door behind him and leaned against it.  He then commenced thumping
his head on the hard wood but was careful to do so quietly.  He was in enough trouble the way it
was.
What had he been thinking?
The young man was well aware that he tended to wear his emotions openly on his face.  His only
hope had been that his expression when he spoke of Steve picking up women was viewed as
chagrin at the discovery that he was tagging along on a girl-chasing trip.  Even that hope had
flown out the window, however, when he'd stupidly voiced his satisfaction at finding out that his
assumption had been wrong.
The feeling of relief that had washed through him upon hearing that he wouldn't have to spend
Christmas watching Steve chase after women had been profound.  That would have been the
ultimate nightmare of a holiday.  While Jesse knew that the older man wouldn't ever want a geek
like *him,* standing by while the man he lusted after filled his bed with a bevy of buxom ski
bunnies would have been more than he could take.
With a heavy sigh and a final thump of his head on the doorframe, Jesse turned back towards his
bags.  Time to get out dry socks and get back to Steve.   He couldn't hid in the bedroom forever,
as much as he might want to at the moment.  As their very first conversation in the cabin had
proven, it was going to be even harder than he'd anticipated to keep his feelings under control.
He only hoped that he was up to the task.
***************************************
Steve watched his young companion disappear into the bedroom.  Had Jesse turned back at all,
he would have seen a very thoughtful look on the detective's face - the kind of expression that
meant that a Sloan had put his thinking cap on. Having worked with both Mark and Steve on
several cases in the short couple of months that he'd been in Los Angeles, the expression itself
wouldn't have seemed unusual to the intern.  The fact that Steve was thinking about *him.*
however, would have surprised the doctor no end.
In fact, the older blond was analyzing the look on Jesse's face.  Had the brief flash of emotion
that the other man exhibited when he'd mentioned Steve chasing girls have actually been, not
sadness, but jealousy?  If so, that would certainly explain Jesse's pleasure on hearing Steve's
denial.  Could it be that he'd been wrong about Jesse's sexual orientation?
The more Steve considered it, the more likely the possibility was.  A very chatty man, Jess was
unusually reticent on the subject of dating, past or present.  When teased, Jesse would blush and
say he was too busy figuring out how to be an intern to do much dating.  Steve knew that was a
sorry excuse.  He'd witnessed Jack Stewart's internship and the dark-haired doctor had cut a
huge romantic swath among the ranks of the nursing staff before becoming a resident.  Steve
wasn't a doctor but had been in their midst all of his life.  He didn't need his father to tell him
that Jesse was at least the medical equal of Jack Stewart, if not better.  No, being too busy or
focused was not the reason that Jesse wasn't dating.
But could he risk taking a chance it was because Jesse was gay or bisexual?  Could he expose his
own preference by making a move on a man that might reject him, and then go on to expose his
secret to his father?  Not that Jesse would do something like that purposefully, but given Jesse's
open nature and his father's powers of observation, it was bound to happen. 
"Get a grip, Steve," He said softly to himself.  "You're the big, bad detective here.  He's the
naive doctor. An ingenue.  Put those investigative skills of yours to use.  Even if it's not a formal
interrogation, you should be able to wrangle it out of him."
Or his name wasn't Sloan.
***************************************
By the time Jesse emerged from the bedroom, Steve had the cocoa ready and a fire going in the
fireplace.  Unbeknownst to the doctor, the older man had his tactics ready too.  In fact, if the
intern knew what his companion had in store for him, he might very well have stayed in the
bedroom for the entire trip.
"C'mon, Jess, take a load off.  It's Christmas Eve, we should pamper ourselves a bit."  Steve put
action to his words, handing Jesse a steaming mug and then sitting down in front of the fireplace.
The younger blond looked at his friend and gulped.  Seeing Steve Sloan stretched out among the
pillows, a satisfied expression on his face as he tasted his hot chocolate, was something out of his
dreams.
"What's the matter, Jess?"
Jesse pulled himself together.  "Nothing," he stammered.  "Just tired, I guess."  The intern
hurried to join the other man in the pillow nest that was the sunken living room.
Steve looked at his friend through half-lidded eyes.  Jesse's staring had not gone unnoticed, nor
had his guilty jump when the detective had spoken to him.
Time to turn up the heat a notch.
"So, what's a good looking guy like you doing in a place like this?"
The older man watched with thinly veiled amusement as his companion wiped at his mouth. 
He'd deliberately timed his question to coincide with Jesse taking a big drink of his hot
chocolate.  The results had been interesting, if a bit messy. With luck, though, the chocolate
wouldn't be the only warm and creamy liquid that Jesse would be splattering before the night
was over. 
"Excuse me?" The intern squeaked, as soon as he'd recovered.
"What are you doing *here* for Christmas?" Steve clarified.  "I'd think some doe-eyed nurse
would have hauled you home to meet her mamma by now."  The detective hid his grin at seeing
the younger man's blush by taking another sip of cocoa.
"Oh, man, don't start that again," Jesse said, having been teased a lot on this same subject since
arriving in Los Angeles.  Some of the nurses even referred to the new batch of interns at
Community General every year as 'fresh meat.'  "I date... I've just been too busy give a lot of
time to it.  I mean, being an intern's nothing like medical school, it's go, go, go all day and all
night too sometimes.  Then, there's getting used to living in California.  Don't get me wrong, I
love it, it's just different than Chicago, you know?  A whole different mind set. And then there's
helping Mark when he's helping you with a case...."
"All right, all right, Jess," Steve laughed.  "I get the point."  Actually, the detective had deduced
more than Jesse probably thought he had   the younger man's protests had been a little
vehement.  What was he trying to hide?  "Why California, by the way?  It's a long way from
Chicago."
"That's kind of the point," Jesse answered, relaxing back into the pillows as Steve left the
dangerous topic of dating.  "Besides, there's great surfing here.  You don't exactly get a lot of
that in the Midwest."
Steve found it hard to believe that Jesse Travis, had traveled across the country simply to ride the
waves.  The young man was too serious about his medical career to have made the all-important
choice of where to do his internship based on a hobby. "So, how are you liking your fast
California Christmas?  Feeling any nostalgia for the old stomping grounds?"
The other blond snorted inelegantly. "Not hardly.  Oh, it's been weird not having snow at
Christmas, but I'll admit that I've really appreciated not having to scrape an inch of ice off my
windshield every morning.  Besides, now that we're here," A vague wave of his hand
encompassed the entire resort. "I've got all the snow I could want.  And then some."
"I'm glad I could oblige."
Jesse blushed.  "Thanks, Steve.  I mean, not just for letting me tag along on this trip, but for
everything.  You and Mark have been great, letting me help out with your work and all.  And
hang around all the time.  I hope I'm not too much of a pest."
The older man smiled.  "No, you're not a pest, Jesse. Believe me, it's been our pleasure."  Steve
had wanted to say it was *his* pleasure, but didn't know how the intern would act.  It might be
too much too soon.
In fact, Jesse turned the conversation away from the intimate moment.  "Hey, look, this place has
even got a little Christmas tree.  That's nice."  
Steve looked over.  A small tree was tucked away in the corner, a safe distance from the
fireplace.  "That's a nice touch."
"Do you and Jack come here every year at Christmas?"
"No," the detective explained.  "We always come here to ski, but this is the first year we've
scheduled it over the holiday."  He chuckled.  "I knew when Aunt XXX mentioned that she
wanted to go to Europe for Christmas, that Dad would be suckered into taking her, so it seemed
like a good idea to make alternate plans."
"Well, I'm sorry they fell through."
"I'm not," Steve said firmly.  "I have absolutely no complaints about the company."  The bigger
man turned away when he saw Jesse's furious blush deepen even redder, giving his companion a
chance to collect himself.  "Look, there's a wreath over the door too.  Say," he turned back to
Jesse with a question.  "You aren't one of those types that has to get up at the crack of dawn on
Christmas morning, are you?"
Jesse smiled, fully recovered and dimples in full force.  "No.  Since starting college, I found that
sleep was a precious commodity."
"Good.  'Cause Dad is.  Every year, he hauls me out of bed, just like a kid anxious to see what
Santa brought. Once, just once, it'd be nice to sleep past sunrise on December 25."
"Sounds like fun, though." 
Steve couldn't help but notice the wistful tone in his friend's response.  "So, do you have any
special Christmas memories?"
The detective hadn't been in the room when Jesse had been telling the others that it wasn't the
first time he'd been alone for the holiday and wasn't prepared for the terse reply.  
"No."
Steve instantly knew he hated the closed off look on Jesse's face and had to do something about
it.  "That's too bad," he finally said, in as non-committal tone as he could manage.  Then,
wanting to lighten the mood, the detective launched into a series of stories about his own
childhood Christmas escapades shared with his sister, Caroline.
His strategy worked.  Jesse was surprised to hear that there was another Sloan and was eager to
learn about Steve's sibling.  With the natural curiosity of an only child, the young man soaked up
whatever details Steve was willing to tell him about what it was like to have a sister.
Eventually, Jesse even relaxed enough to tell tidbits from his own childhood.  The fact that the
younger man's parents were rarely mentioned told the detective a lot.  Actually, the most
important person in Jesse's young life had been his best friend, Cameron.  Steve soon found
himself jealous of a snot-nosed freckle-faced kid he'd never even seen, who was no doubt a
young Adonis by this time.  Suddenly, the taller blond felt every one of his years.
"Sounds like you and Cameron were inseparable.  What's he doing nowadays?"  Steve figured it
was best to gather as much information about potential competitors as soon as possible.
For the second time during the conversation, Jesse's expression shut down.  "Last I heard, he was
an architect, working for a firm on the North side of Chicago."
"Ah," Steve said.  Unlike with the last awkward spot, his cop's instincts told him not to let this
topic drop.  "You lose touch after high school?"
He was surprised to actually get an answer.
"Kinda."  Jesse shrugged.  "Cam was two years older than me, but I'd been bumped up a couple
of grades so we graduated together. We were supposed to go to the same college, even be
roommates."
When the younger man seemed to become lost in his memories, Steve prompted him.  "You guys
have a fight or something?"
"You could say that," Jesse said absently, mind still mostly in the past.  "We went on our last
camping trip of the summer and I finally got up the nerve to kiss him.  Cameron freaked."
Steve gasped.  True, he'd been verbally poking and prodding Jesse, trying to get some sort of
indication of the younger man's sexual preference, but he'd never expected such a definitive
statement.
Jesse didn't realize what he'd said until he heard the other man's audible intake of breath.  Then,
as he mentally backtracked over the last thing out of his mouth, the blood drained from his face
as the implications of what he'd inadvertently revealed hit him full force.
The "K" word hung between the two men like a loaded gun, rife with the ability to save or
wound, depending on who was wielding the weapon.
"Jess... you like guys?"
The young man hadn't expected to reveal this aspect of himself just yet, but now that he'd
slipped up, he wasn't going to deny it. There was only way to answer Steve Sloan's question  
with the truth. "C'mon, Steve.  You have to have noticed that I don't often date the same woman
more than once.  It's not because I'm *that* inept, it's just that I don't want to lead any of them on.
Not when there's no chance that I really want to be with *any* woman. Not like that." Jesse's
blurted explanation died off as the young man realized what he'd just admitted to.  It was one
thing to slip up and imply that he was gay, it was quite another to admit it deliberately. Quickly,
he took a big gulp from his hot chocolate mug -- a tactic to stop any more words from flowing
from his mouth.  He'd done enough damage the way it was.
Steve watched the nervous young man, not really sure how to manage to speak over the pounding
of his heart. Even given his suspicions and targeted line of questioning, he had a hard time
believing Jesse's awkward confession was true, so closely did it match his own unspoken desires.
Afraid that if he said anything that he'd wake up and find he was dreaming, the big man
remained silent.
"You're not going to kill me, are you?" Jesse asked.  "I'm still the same person that I was before
you knew."  Not sure of  his friend's acceptance but knowing that the continue silence was a bad
sign, the young doctor ducked his head.  Carefully, he glanced up at the detective through
lowered lashes.  He was afraid to meet Steve Sloan's gaze and the recrimination that it might
contain, but was desperate to know if he'd just ruined the most important relationship in his life.
It was the look that unfroze Steve. The sight of a blushing Jesse Travis, looking up at him so
shyly, a hot chocolate mustache on his lips, would melt the heart of a much colder man than
Steve Sloan.
The detective set his hot chocolate down deliberately, expression blank as he watched his friend
mirror his actions.  Steve slid from his position among the pillows and moved closer to the
intern, stopping when his face was just an inch from Jesse's.  The younger man pressed back into
the soft cushions, flinching away from what he thought would be an angry diatribe.  Instead,
however, the detective adeptly licked the hot chocolate foam from the doctor's lips.
"Jesse," Steve said gently when he'd cleaned the last chocolate remnant from other man's mouth,
Jesse's lips softening and opening in reaction to the unexpected touch, "have you ever noticed
that *I* don't often date the same woman more than once?"  The detective was crouched on all
fours above where the smaller man was pressed back into the pillows, looking lovingly down at
his partner's dazed expression.
In response, the young intern ran his fingertips lightly over the contours of Steve's face, as if
Steve's skin was a soap bubble he was afraid of popping.
"Jess?  You okay?"
Steve's concern was rewarded with a tremulous smile.  "I've dreamed about this so many times,
but I'm not dreaming now, am I?"
"No."
Bolder, Jesse rested his hands on Steve's shoulders.  "You and your Jack O'Neill.  You guys
didn't come up here to go skiing, did you?"
"No."
The younger man had started stroking his hand across Steve's chest, but he stopped suddenly. 
"Ummm... he's not *your* Jack O'Neill anymore, is he?"
Steve chuckled, the sound a throaty growl that immediately raised goosebumps on Jesse's flesh. 
"No, not for about twenty years. Besides, I think Jack's got his own young, blond doctor to keep
him busy."  When Jesse looked confused, he explained.  "The real reason that Jack called off the
ski trip wasn't a secret mission, although I understand he's had a lot of those.  Truth of the matter
was, he finally got together with Daniel."  The big man laughed again, this time the sound a
rueful rumble emerging from the depths of his chest.  "I used to tease him about mooning over a
guy who was more than a decade his junior.  'Til I met you... and I understood perfectly what
Jack was going through."
"You *mooned* over *me*?"  Jesse's voice was full of wonder.
"Oh, yeah," Steve confirmed, stretching out full length on top of his shorter companion.  "I was a
goner from the minute I saw your dimples for the first time."  
The detective bent down for a kiss, Jesse eagerly pressing up to meet him halfway.  When the
two lovers' lips finally parted, the younger man admitted, "I knew I wanted you from the minute
I saw you come off the elevator at Community General."
Steve looked satisfied.  "Really?"  Jesse nodded shyly and was rewarded with another kiss.  The
larger blond's mouth eventually diverted to the intern's ear, but further exploration of Jesse's
neck was curbed by the turtleneck the other man was wearing under his sweater.  "Baby, you are
wearing entirely too much clothing."
The two men sat up and Steve helped Jesse pull the offending sweater and turtleneck off.  When
his lover's rumpled blond head emerged from the garments, the detective cupped Jesse's chin in
his hand.  "This isn't moving two fast for you, is it, sweetheart?"  It had occurred to the older
man that Jesse had been acting a bit shy and, as eager as his body was to consummate this new
relationship, perhaps his partner wasn't ready yet.
"No way," Jesse panted.  "I eventually got over Cameron and had a couple of boyfriends in
college. I know what I want and I want you. Besides,"  The intern poked at his lover's chest.  
"I'm not the only one with too much clothing on here."
Grinning, Steve stood up, towering over the intern.  With dramatic flair, the detective pulled off
his own sweater and upped the ante by having his jeans follow.  Laying back down, the bigger
man was dressed only in his boxers, now tented with his body's obvious interest in the
proceedings. 
"*Now* who's overdressed for the party?" He asked his partner, but when Jesse's fingers moved
to unbutton his jeans, the other man batted his hands away.  "No, let me."
Jesse gasped as he felt Steve's warm hand brush across his bare stomach.  His lover grinned at
the reaction and took his own sweet time getting the jeans undone.  Slipping long fingers
underneath the waistband of the pants, the detective teased the still-hidden flesh.
"Oh, man," the intern moaned after a minute, "You keep doin' that, Steve, and I'll be so hard,
we'll never get them off."
"That would be a tragedy," Steve murmured, then moved to unbutton the rest of the way down
the crotch.  Jesse obliging lifted his hips and soon the denim was gone.  
The detective moved back up his lover's body, kissing randomly at Jesse's skin.  When he got all
the way up, the younger man's arms immediately twined around him and the two lovers rolled
back and forth, kissing furiously and rubbing together.  
Eventually, their underwear disappeared and Jesse ended up on top of his taller lover.  Steve
smiled as he watched the younger man undulate on top of him, steadying Jesse's slender hips
with his hands as the intern ground their crotches together.  Both men groaned with their cocks
slid past one another, the silken hardness causing a delicious heated friction.  Steve's hips lifted
in answer to Jesse's thrusts, the big man's legs splayed wide and his bare feet braced flat against
the floor to balance both men's weight.
The cop watched his lover's face carefully and knew Jesse was going to orgasm before his lover
did. "Give it to me, baby," he encouraged.  "Let me see you cum, Jesse.  Cum for me
sweetheart."  
The young doctor groaned and his semen splashed on both of them as he obeyed, hot streams
against already heated skin.  
"Good boy," Steve crooned as Jesse collapsed against him.  The older man caressed his satiated
partner's back.  "Good boy."
Jesse panted and lay limp against the detective's chest, but roused when the older blond shifted
and he felt Steve's erection press against his inner thigh.  Finding strength from his inner
reserves, Jesse lifted his head.  "I'm sorry... I didn't mean to... it was just that it was exactly what
I've been wanting to do ever since I met you..." Realizing that he was babbling, the young man
pulled himself together enough to ask about his partner.  "What about you?  You didn't..."
Steve smiled tenderly, brushing back damp hair from Jesse's forehead.  "Don't be sorry.  I
enjoyed watching you.  You have any idea what it means to me to see what touching me does to
you?"  The big man wrapped his hands around Jesse's ass, drawing their bodies close together.
Kneading the firm cheeks, he spread them apart, the cold air hitting his most intimate place made
the younger man shiver.  "Baby, if I'm going too fast, just say so... but I'd really like to be inside
you tonight.  May I?"
His lover was amused to note that Jesse's blush ran the entire length of his body.  "Oh, yeah,"
Jesse breathed.  "I'd... I mean, if you want to.... yes."  The intern ended by kissing his partner,
using the gesture to express what he couldn't manage to articulate.
Steve chuckled in relief.  "Good," he said, rolling Jesse underneath him and bestowing a few
more kisses on his partner.  Only the fact that he *did* want to be inside Jesse so badly enticed
the detective to move.  He could have easily cum from the combination of kisses and feeling the
lithe young body beneath him writhe in response.
Apparently Jesse was just as loathe to break off their current activities.  "Steve!" The intern
protested when he felt his lover's larger body move off his own.
"Just a minute, baby," His partner assured him.  "Got to get some supplies."
The detective all but ran to where he'd left his duffle bag.  Jack hadn't yet canceled on him when
he'd packed, so the condoms and lubricant were right where he'd stowed them.  A quick trip to
the bathroom to wet down a couple of towels and they were all set.  The whole chore took less
than two minutes, but by the time he got back to the fireplace, Jesse had started to finger his
spent cock. "What took you so long?"  The intern asked impatiently.
Steve smiled, taking the comment for the compliment that it was.  "Give a guy a break, babe. 
I'm only human."
Jesse watched as his lover knelt next to him, the older man's erection bobbing several inches
from his face.  "I don't know about that 'only human part,' Steve.  You are one seriously
beautiful man."
The detective ignored the comment.  He knew who the beautiful one was in this relationship and
it certainly wasn't him.  "Gonna get you good and slick, sweetheart."  Dumping his supplies, he
flipped open the lubricant and efficiently coated one hand with the slippery substance.  He went
ahead and put the condom on, figuring it was better to do it now while his fingers weren't
trembling too much.  Then, chores done, he batted away Jesse's fingers he grasped his lover's
slowly hardening penis.  "I can't believe that I haven't tasted this yet," He commented, then
proceeded to put action to his words.
"Ohmygod," Jesse cried out, hips lifting from the carpet as he enjoyed the sensation of being
engulfed inside his lover's warm mouth.  "I must have been a very good boy this year," The
intern managed to gasp, "Santa gave me exactly what I wanted."
Steve smiled around his mouthful of cock, having had his own vision of what the perfect
Christmas present would be.  His had entailed finding Jesse Travis underneath his Christmas
tree, the young man's only garment a red bow tied around his penis.  There'd be time enough for
that later.  For now, he was more than happy to be where he was.
Jesse was soon beyond verbalizing anything more complex than a groan and when Steve felt the
smaller man's erection return full force, he moved one hand down towards the hidden entrance to
Jesse's body.  Teasing the little pucker by rubbing against it with one fingertip, he was pleased to
hear a deep gasp in response from his partner.  Jesse was even more responsive than he'd ever
hoped.
Enough.  At this speed, he'd been shooting his seed on the carpet, instead of deep inside his
lover, and that was definitely *not* what he'd had in mind.  Leaving off teasing, Steve gently
began pushing at Jesse's opening with the first finger.
"Shit, Jess, you are so tight!  Has it been a while, baby?"
Jesse looked at him with big eyes.  "You could say that," the younger man gasped.  His hips had
stopped moving when he'd felt the intruder in his ass, but as he became accustomed to the
sensation, they picked up the pace.
It was slow going.  Steve would tease at the muscle, gently pressing and thrusting until he got it
to accept one finger, then two, scissoring and stretching as he went.  Before he would move to
add another finger, he would lavish attention on the other man's cock with his lips and tongue,
until both men were about ready to explode.
Finally, Jesse's ass was as loose as he could get it and Steve knew he was at the end of his own
endurance.
"You ready, sweetheart?" He asked, even as he slathered half a tube of lubricant onto his own
diamond-hard prick.
"Yeah."  Jesse's eyes were dilated to near black and the detective knew he wasn't the only man at
the end of his endurance.
Steve positioned himself in-between Jesse's thighs, keeping the smaller man on his back with a
couple of pillows to raise his hips.  The detective placed on hand behind each of his lover's
knees, pulling him closer and spreading him for penetration.  When he had Jesse where he
wanted him, he leaned down for a kiss.  "I can't think of a better way to spend Christmas," he
whispered in the intern's ear, "Than making love with you."  
Straightening, Steve grabbed his own cock with one hand, steering the blunt tip towards Jesse's
prepared opening.  The loosened sheath resisted the intrusion and the detective had to close his
eyes at he sensation of a hot vice clamping down on his cock to keep from cumming right then. 
Some wiggling and a lot of perseverance finally got the large mushroom head past the tight ring
of muscle and Steve risked looking at Jesse before continuing.
The young intern also had his eyes closed, tightly, and a couple of tears leaked down the side of
his face.  Steve would have thought they were tears of pleasure, but he immediately saw the
tightness of his lover's body and the way the young man had his hands buried in the thick
carpeting.  "Jess, you okay?"
"Hurts." Came the succinct response.
"I know, baby, I know."  Steve didn't press forward, keeping control of his body's instinct to
bury itself inside it's mate.  "You're really tight, but you know how it is when it's been a while,
it'll loosen up."  Jesse didn't respond, just bit his lip and nodded. 
Steve suddenly had a very bad feeling.
"Jess, you have done this before, haven't you?"
"Not exactly."  Blue eyes opened a fraction to look at him.
"But, but you said you'd had male lovers before..."  
"Not like this," Jesse gasped out.  "Never trusted anyone enough to go all the way..."
Steve suddenly felt like an absolute heel.  Jesse's first experience with anal intercourse and here
he was, taking him on the floor like dogs in heat!  Not that there was anything wrong with an
impassioned coupling, but it wasn't the way he would have wanted to his partner to loose his
virginity, had he been consulted.
"That's it, Jess."  He grunted.  "That's enough for tonight.  You're in pain, we're not going to
continue with this." Reluctantly, he started to withdraw his cock from the smaller man's body.
"No!"  Jesse shouted, startling the cop and causing him to cease his movement.  "I *want* this. 
Here. Exactly like this.  I'm ready -- don't you dare stop now!"  
Steve met his lover's defiant gaze, seeing the depths of Jesse's need.  "Okay," He reluctantly
agreed, "But we go slow."
And they did.  As he felt the younger man's body loosen fractionally around him, Steve pressed
forward, groaning at each inch gained.  He made it as good for his lover as he could, stroking
Jesse's flagging erection and tweaking his nipples in-between forward advances.  Slowly, the
virgin channel opened for him and when he felt his testicles press up against the firm flesh of
Jesse's ass, Steve stopped, propping himself on his arms and gazing down at his partner.  His
mate. The man he was buried in.
Jesse moaned.  He'd heard about how anal penetration felt, but nothing had prepared him for the
actual experience.  It was like being full while being split in two and once the initial burning pain
had abated, he was loving every minute of it.  
But as inexperienced as he was, the young intern knew that something was missing.  "Steve," he
gasped.  "*Do* something!"
"Yes, sir!" The detective chuckled, relieved to see that Jesse had been right, he was ready for
this.  
Moving almost as slowly as he had during initial penetration, Steve started pulling back out,
feeling Jesse's rectum flexing around him as he moved.  He stopped before he was completely
withdrawn, reversing direction and ramming back in, faster now.  With each plunge, he increased
both speed and depth of penetration, his abdomen slapping down on Jesse's as he ground against
him.
"Ohmygod," the younger man cried out, grabbing at Steve's arms.  "Don't stop!"
"I... don't... plan... on... it...," Steve ground out between thrusts.  "Not... yet."  Finding a slightly
different angle, he thrust up sharply, knowing from experience that this was likely to be a sweet
spot for his lover.
As the large tip of his lover's cock slammed against his prostrate, Jesse yowled, his hips arching
as his orgasm ripped from his body.  Steve barely felt the semen splash against his face, his world
had narrowed down to the sensation of his lover's rectum spasming around his cock.  The bigger
man's head snapped back as his body arched, hammering his hips down onto his lover as he
drove his cock even deeper.  
"Unngh," The detective groaned, beyond speech as he felt his cock pulse again and again inside
Jesse's passage, filling the condom with his seed.  His arms trembled as he managed to keep
from collapsing on top of his lover, the sweat running into his eyes not keeping him from seeing
the joy in the younger man's eyes.  
When he finally felt that his cock was spent, Steve fell in a controlled collapse, landing on his
side and rolling Jesse to move with him.  He wanted to keep their bodies connected for a few
minutes more... and not just because withdrawing would be a little painful for his lover's tender
flesh.  Jesse' responded by burrowing into Steve's arms and the older man stroked him tenderly,
murmuring soft words into his mate's ears.
Eventually, Jesse had calmed somewhat and Steve felt it was time to talk.
"I'm mad at you, you know," He said quietly, the loving tone in his voice making a lie of the
words.
"Why?"  Jesse said, lifting his face from his lover's chest.
"The time to tell me that you were a virgin was *before* we started making love, not during."
Jesse smiled broadly, the dimples deep in his cheeks.  "If I'd told you, would we have done it this
way?"
"Well, no, not exactly like this," Steve qualified, hands moving of their own accord to stroke at
his partner's face.  "We would have gone in the bedroom, taken more time..."
"And you would have been entirely too careful," Jesse interrupted.  "Steve, this was perfect!  I
bet you're a considerate lover, no matter the circumstances.  If I'd admitted to being a virgin, you
would have been inhibited."    The younger man leaned up to kiss his lover.  "You didn't hurt
me.  It was *perfect,* I promise."
Jesse's reassurance was suspended when he gasped as Steve's softened penis was expelled from
his body.
"You sore?"  The older man asked.
The intern blushed.  "A little.  Kinda throbs."
"It'll go away," Steve assured him, reaching for the damp towels.  "Meant that we did it right."
"Ooh, yeah," His lover agreed, spreading his legs to give the detective access to clean him off.  "I
think we most definitely got it right... although I wouldn't be opposed to practicing some more,
just to make sure."
"Insatiable," Steve teased.  Standing, he reached down to give his mate a hand up from the floor. 
"But, take pity on these old bones, Jess.  Let's move to the bed."
"Okay, but only if I get to jump those bones later" his lover laughed, jumping a little as the
bigger man aimed a slap at his ass.
Steve shook his head in amazement as he wrapped his arm around his new mate and headed them
towards the bedroom.  When he'd told Jess earlier that spending Christmas together wasn't what
they'd imagined, but wasn't necessarily a bad thing, this wasn't exactly what he'd had in mind. 
Not that he was complaining.
And Steve instinctively knew that he wanted this relationship to last beyond the holidays.  He
didn't know how it would work out.  Jesse was still too open and his father too observant, Mark
Sloan was bound to figure things out and the detective didn't know how that would play. At the
moment, though, he didn't really care.  All he knew was, now that he had Jesse Travis in his life
and in his bed, he was loathe to let him go.  His father and the rest of his world would just have
to adapt.
As they neared the other room, Steve's eye was caught by the large Christmas wreath that was
hung on the wall between the bedrooms.  The wreath was decorated with a large, red bow and the
bright color flashed the detective's mind back to his Christmas fantasy.  Now, beyond all his
expectations, he had a chance to act upon it.
"Jess," Steve asked, eyes lit up with excitement.  "How do you feel about red ribbons?"
~the end~


Story written as a response to a challenge issued by Nell to the dslash group. Challenge details include:

 

Must be wintertime holiday (be it Christmas, Hanukah, Winter Solace, or New Years).

Must include:

1.  First time

2.  Jesse feeling blue

3.  Snow

4.  Hot cocoa

5.  Open fire place

 

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Comments or questions taken at: journeyoftheheartfiction@yahoo.com