The Best Roads

"So you were ostracized from the academic community because of your wild theories which no one believes, but which are actually true?"

Blair sighed and nodded. "Yeah, man, and it sucks, big time. I mean, Sentinels aren't all that hard to believe in…"

"Of course, the fact that you declared yourself a fraud on national television didn't help, Chief," Jim broke in, old, though no less intense, pain in his voice.

"Sounds vaguely like what I went through," Daniel said. "I truly believed in my theories, but everybody else though it was a crock and laughed me out of academia."

"But fortunately, the military, for once, wasn't stupid, and we snaffled him right up," Jack put in. "He's saved my butt more times than I can count."

"Same here," Daniel said warmly, smiling at his lover.

"Ditto with us, too, man," Blair concluded.

Jim nodded perfunctorily. "Uh-huh."

The conversation hit a lull, all four men contemplating the different roads their lives had taken.

Blair was the first to break the silence. "So about this job offer…" he started.

"We're always looking for new recruits," Jack told them. "We think Ellison would be a real asset in the field, and Sandburg here may not know as many languages as my Spacemonkey, but you've definitely got the head for remembering minute details about different civilizations."

"Which is a must for these positions," Daniel added.

"What positions, exactly?" Jim asked warily, taking a protective stance in front of his partner.

"You'd be doing mostly diplomatic work with already scouted worlds," Daniel explained. "Treaty signings, negotiations… My specialty is ancient Egypt and other Mediterranean cultures, but we've been running into a series of worlds based around South American cultures lately – last one was Aztec, before that was Toltec – and we don't have enough cultural experts as it is."

"It's a dangerous job," Jim said more than asked.

Jack answered anyway. "Yeah, but clichés aside, somebody's got to do it. Might as well be the best, huh?"

Exchanging a long, communicative look with his lover, Jim finally nodded.

Blair smiled and held out his hand to seal the deal. "You got the best; you got us."

As first Daniel and then Jack shook hands with them both, Jim couldn't help but reflect that he thought this road was finally the right one.