Word count: 8,710
Rating/warnings: NC-17/ sex, violence, and adult situations. And language, because flyboys swear worse than sailors.
Disclaimer: Not mine. And I've put everything back neater than I found it this time!
Notes: Yeah... well, this story was supposed to be something entirely different. I tried to make it fit a prompt, but then John decided he hated it, and then Cam wanted to explain his side of hings and wouldn't just settle for his own chapter, so I ended up with this. I actually think it's pretty good, for something that's so absolutely not what I thought it was going to be at first. I hope you enjoy it :)
They're silent in the car, have been silent since they left the Mountain, since John had been released from the infirmary and Cam had grabbed him by the arm and hauled his ass topside. John had been manhandled into the car, door slammed practically in his face, and Cam had walked, cool and contained, to the driver's side. John watched as Cam belted himself in and drove out of the compound. He didn't even stop to chat with the airman stationed in the security booth, just nodded at the man, who raised the gate and let them through.
John has always been able to read Cam like an open book. The man wears his heart on his sleeve anyway, has always been terrible at hiding what he's thinking or feeling, but John's got that special knack that can see through the really good lies too, the ones that fool everyone else. Tonight, though, tonight he looks at Cam and sees – nothing. And that fact scares the shit out of him, because Cam's clearly feeling something, something below the surface, and it's just as clearly related to John.
But now John has no clue, no idea of what had wound Cam up so tightly.
He thinks back over the day, figures it's probably something he said or did, since Cam had been perfectly happy when they'd driven into work this morning. He'd been stuck on base all day, in meetings about SG-1's recent encounter with the Lucien Alliance, while John had been off-world on a supposedly routine trading mission which had, predictably, blown up in his face.
It had been his team with SG-7; could have just been the one team, but then John had mouthed off about something in the hallway and someone had overheard and Landry just had no goddamned sense of humor, so John and his team had ended up playing pack mules for the trading mission. John was expecting it to be boring as hell – trading missions usually were – but then, suddenly, Colonel Arvis had said something wrong or Swarrin had used the wrong fork or John had rubbed his eyebrow at an inappropriate time – nobody ever really knew what they'd done wrong in those situations – and the two teams had found themselves running back to the Gate. John and Arvis had been taking up the rear, ushering their teams ahead of them, and Arvis had signaled to him and they'd split, each drawing some of the angry natives away.
Arvis had ordered him to go through the Gate, that Arvis would be right behind, and John had complied, thrown himself through the wormhole and been spat out on the other side, staring behind as the Gate cut out without Arvis.
And then John had been yelling, screaming up at Harriman, dial back dial back, and for whatever damn reason Harriman had actually listened. John had run back through, sweeping around with his P90, tapping his radio on and calling for Arvis.
Arvis, who hadn't answered. Arvis, who hadn't come crawling out of the brush. Arvis, who had been captured by some natives in the two minutes that John had been on the other side of the Gate. John found Arvis the hard way, after being captured himself, and found himself tied up next to the older man in a dingy hut.
"Sheppard," Arvis had growled. "Thought I told you to get through the Gate."
"Good to see you too, sir," John had drawled back in reply. "I did get through. I just got back through, is all."
Arvis had just glared until the natives had returned. They had unceremoniously hauled Arvis up, and when he'd struggled against them and his bonds, hit him hard in the head with a thick stick. Arvis had dropped like a stone. They dragged him out between them, and John was left alone with his thoughts.
He had been working to get his hands free with little luck when the natives returned without Arvis. "Trade," the larger one had grunted, and John had just looked up at the guy, honestly not understanding.
"You traded," the guy had clarified, which didn't really clear up anything, but John nodded anyway. "He went back."
Oh. Oh. John's eyes had widened slightly as he realized that somehow, he'd managed to get himself traded into Arvis' place as the hostage. Which was ridiculous, really, because Arvis was a much more valuable hostage than John would ever be, but these guys apparently thought otherwise. And, hey, he could get himself out of this, now that he didn't have to worry about Arvis. He had reached back, preparing to kick up at the nearest man…
…and then he'd been waking up, in the infirmary, an indeterminate amount of time later. John shakes his head, grimacing at the knot he can still feel on his skull, the pain in his left shoulder from where the dislocation had been reset, the bruises down his torso that he didn't remember getting.
Cam had been there when he woke up. John had opened his own eyes to see blue depths staring back at him, frantic worry the only thing John could discern there. Cam's eyes had always been the easiest thing for John to read; though John would be the first to admit that he wasn't a poet, wasn't a romantic, he could definitely see where that whole eyes-being-the-soul's-window thing came from when he looked at Cam.
Cam's eyes have always reminded John of the sky. When Cam is happy, they're light and free and make John think of flying; when he's upset, clouds roll through his gaze. Now, sitting in the car, John turns to study Cam across the seat of the car. The look in his eyes reminds John suddenly, sharply, of he storm that had hit Atlantis during his first year, when Kolya had come with his forces and everything had almost been lost.
John's gut clenches. He didn't want to look at Cam and think of things he might lose.
But still, the silence reigns; John doesn't know how to break through, knowing that what's wrong would only make this worse, and Cam seems like he never wants to speak again.
The drive home takes longer than forever but in no time they're there, and John blinks because he's sure that they've been in the car for… actually he's not sure; Dr. Lam had assured him that there was no concussion, but John feels a little lightheaded as he reaches to unbuckle his seatbelt. Cam is already out of the car and around to John's door, opening it and roughly yanking John out before slamming it and walking towards the door, dragging John with him.
The silence is strained; John doesn't know what's going on, and he feels like there's something he should be saying, something he should be apologizing for, but he'll be damned if he knows what it is, so he waits for Cam to fit the key in the door and notices, oddly, that Cam's hands seem to be shaking. The key scrapes along the doorknob, the only sound in the chilly evening air, and Cam roughly shoves it forward, turning the lock and the knob and shoving the door open all at the same time.
John follows him in, and Cam takes three steps into the hallway as John shuts and locks the door behind them. When he turns around, Cam is rightthere, and oh, he's still pissed, and John can feel himself leaning away, his body already tensing for the punch he can almost see coming.
What he doesn't see coming is Cam grabbing him, shoving him up against the door, and kissing him so hard and so long that he's gasping, that they're both panting when they part. "Safeword," Cam says abruptly, and his voice is low and rough, his eyes blazing with a light John's never seen before. The storm plays through his memory again rain lightning wind as he stills against the door, held nearly immobile by Cam's weight against his own body.
"Cam…" he tries, but John can tell right away that it's not what Cam's looking for right now. His eyes burn fiercely into John, and his hand comes up and clamps down over John's mouth.
"Safeword," Cam repeats, and John nods against the hand pressing into his face. Cam stands stock-still a moment longer before pulling his hand away.
"Amber," John says, and Cam repeats, "Amber."
And then Cam's mouth is back, this kiss no less insistent than the last. John shifts back, trying to get comfortable, but Cam presses further in, and John stops moving. Cam's hands are gripped around John's forearms, pinning them back to the door, and his mouth is moving against John's own, less of a tender gesture than it is laying claim. Cam's mouth moves down John's face, biting at his jaw, his ear, his neck, before nipping on his pulse point. John gasps, pinned against the door, Cam's mouth possessively marking him.
"Cam," John gasps again, and Cam raises his head, looks him straight in the eyes, and growls back.
"Stop talking." Cam's voice is hard, low, and there are undercurrents that John can hear but not define, so he pushes back, not with his body but with his voice.
"What…" he tries, but it's all he can get out before Cam's hand is back across his mouth, pressing harder than it was before. Cam is suddenly pressed all the way up against John, and his mouth is right next to John's ear.
"I'm pretty sure I told you to stop talking," he says, biting John's earlobe. John gasps; the pain is slight, but it's unexpected. "Don't open your fucking mouth, Sheppard. It's your turn to listen. Understood?"
John's eyes are wide enough that, in any other context, he is absolutely certain he'd be laughing at himself. Instead, he physically closes his mouth under Cam's palm and holds absolutely still. Cam's never like this – has never been like this, not in the ten years they'd spent as on-again/off-again fuck-buddies, not in the three years they'd been actually together. John has rarely seen the man more than mildly upset about anything, can count on one hand the time Cam has lost his temper. This is far beyond any sort of response John's ever seen from Cam, and it seems so uncharacteristic that he thinks to himself mind control? before he can censor the thought. This is Cam, he reminds himself, and whatever bee happens to be in his bonnet, John assuredly put it there.
Cam seems satisfied and removes his hand from John's mouth. John works his jaw gently, feeling the spots along the jawbone that would probably have small, finger-shaped bruises in a few hours. Suddenly, Cam's hand is around the back of his head, and it lands just so on the knot where he'd been knocked unconscious, and as John's arching away from the sudden pain, Cam's shoulder lands in the middle of the one John had dislocated.
John swallows against the pain. It's far from intolerable but equally far removed from feeling any sort of good. His eyes had squeezed shut, and he forces them open now, vision swimming for a moment until he blinks and brings Cam's face into focus.
"Fucking hero complex," Cam says, speaking aloud but not to John. He presses his shoulder back into John's, and the pain lances down into his arm and chest. John winces but doesn't pull away as Cam leans in to take his mouth again.
Cam isn't sure that it's a good idea to try to talk to John when he's still so fired up, but then, he knows he won't relax until they talk.
He'd sat by John's bed as the machines beeped around him, as Lam reset his shoulder, checked for concussions and broken bones and a thousand other things that Cam didn't want to associate with John. He'd sat there for four damn days, listened to phrases like brain damage and in his own time and long-term care.
And then, an unscheduled gate activation had turned out to be the Tok'ra, stopping by to chat with Landry about something that Cam found he didn't even want to care about. Landry had mentioned John to the woman (whose name Cam hadn't caught, why hadn't he asked?) and she had appeared at his side with one of their healing devices, which she used without saying a word before looking up at Cam.
"I have left him with some of the bruising," she had said. "He will live, but he will also remember."
Cam could only nod and hope that his eyes expressed his gratitude.
In the end, John had woken up and Cam had been so relieved that the weight of being up for days had vanished, replaced by the calm knowledge that everything was right with the universe.
So he had left and let Lam check John over. He went to the gym, found Teal'c, threw a few punches around as he let the thoughts wash through him. He'd meant it as a way to relax himself, a way to think things through before he sat and talked with John. Rather than letting him organize his thoughts, however, the exercises he ran through with Teal'c only sharpened his anger, made him rehash every report he'd heard of the mission, of hundreds of missions before that, of every fucking stupid move that John had ever made. Teal'c didn't seem surprised when Cam had simply straightened out of his crouch after twenty minutes and left the gym.
And then he had picked John up from the infirmary and stuck him in the car and John had known that something was wrong. He didn't say anything in the car, and Cam was grateful; he honestly wasn't sure what would've happened if John had started to talk. Yelling, probably, lots of yelling.
He'd meant to bring John home, to sit him on the couch, and to talk to him. That had been his original intention, but when John had stepped through the doorway so quietly and locked the door, Cam had turned around and his control slipped. It was only a second, a fraction of a second, but he'd pinned John to the door and pressed their mouths together hard. John was there, real and warm and mostly fine under his hands, and the relief surged forward again, only to be quickly tempered with a new flare of anger.
"Safeword," he growls now, and can see John's confusion, can hear it in his voice as John says his name. Cam raises his hand, presses it to John's mouth, and looks him directly in the eyes before repeating himself.
This wasn't his normal way of expressing his anger, but fuck, if he was doing it this way he was at least going to do it right, make sure he didn't hurt John any more than he was already hurt.
"Amber," he hears himself repeating, before diving back in and kissing John with all the intensity of the last four days, of thinking that John would never wake up, of thinking that John had some sort of insane suicide wish, of thinking that maybe John didn't know exactly what he was to Cam if he kept risking his life with those fucking stunts of his.
Cam hears John trying to ask again, and Cam can't take it just yet, can't take knowing that John will have some sort of damn explanation, that he'll rationalize and reason and Cam needs John to just shut up and understand for a minute. "Stop talking," he orders John, and John frowns, blinks, and tries to ask again.
Cam's hand is suddenly back against John's mouth, and he's leaning all of his weight into John's body, being careful not to bump his injured shoulder or land too hard on any of the bruises he knows are still scattered against his partner's chest. He puts his mouth right next to John's ear. "I'm pretty sure I told you to stop talking," he says, and wonders how he's not growling the words. He bites into John's earlobe and heard the gasp it elicited, but Cam isn't worried. The bite wasn't hard enough to hurt, just hard enough to show John that he's serious.
Cam draws back slightly to look into John's eyes again. "Don't open your fucking mouth, Sheppard. It's your turn to listen. Understood?"
Cam can feel the surprise rolling off of John, but the fact that John's not physically fighting tells Cam that, for now, he's okay. He can feel John close his mouth under his hand and relax a little bit. There is confusion in his eyes, but also trust, and Cam pulls his hand from John's mouth, only to reach for the back of his head. He found the know that the Tok'ra woman had left there and pressed his fingers into it, probably a little harder than he should have, because John's arching up from the door and Cam's slamming his own broad shoulder into John's wounded one.
John's eyes squeeze shut but he doesn't say anything, and a moment later, they open back up, seeming a little dazed before they latch onto Cam's.
"Fucking hero complex," he growls, the words falling from his lips before he can think to stop them. He punctuates the comment with another jab into John's shoulder, and leans in to kiss John again.
Cam can tell in that very second that John understands, knows what's going on. There's a part of him that is suddenly, inexplicably, relieved, because John understands and he's still there, still letting Cam do this, not pulling away or using the safeword.
Cam's shoulder is still digging into his own, but John isn't going to try to dislodge him. Cam's comment had stilled him entirely, partly out of shock but mostly out of a sudden understanding.
Cam is pissed, the kind of pissed that you get when someone close to you does something incredibly fucking stupid and almost gets himself killed. Like, say, rushing in without backup to rescue a guy he barely knew who may or may not have even been alive. Something like that.
So John stays against the wall, sweating, as Cam stands back to survey him, letting Cam take what he needs because he's caused this and he's been there and he knows that Cam isn't going to hurt him, not seriously.
"Do you have some kind of death wish?" Cam growls suddenly. John's not sure if this is some sort of rhetorical question or if Cam's seriously expecting an actual answer. Before he can make a decision, Cam's hand is grasping his chin, forcing John to look straight into his eyes. "Is life back on Earth so fucking miserable," he spits, "that you're gonna keep pushing and pushing until some goddamned savage on some godforsaken little hellhole ends it for you?"
John is speechless. Yeah, sure, he misses Atlantis like he imagines he'd miss his arm if it were gone – a phantom pain, like something's not there that should be, like some vital part of him is missing. But he'd known what he was giving up when he'd made the decision to transfer Earthside, after the laws were changed, when he and Cam could actually be together. He'd made that choice and he was, for the most part, at peace with it.
"Cam-' he tries, staring straight into his partner's eyes, trying to break through the clouds that cover the blue skies he's searching for. "No," he says softly, wondering if Cam's even hearing him. "I'm not miserable, I don't have a death wish, no."
"Then why," Cam's voice is soft, and his eyes are suddenly closed. His hand is still on John's jaw, and John can feel Cam trembling, can still feel the tangle of emotion running through him. "Why do I feel like every time I turn around, you're in another fucking hospital bed, with another injury from doing something stupid and reckless and –"
Cam's hands are suddenly at the hem of John's shirt, and John lets him pull it up and off, wincing as his sore shoulder is jostled around. Cam tosses the shirt somewhere behind him and stares at the mottled bruising on John's torso.
John studies his chest himself for a moment. He's glad he was out like a light when he got those; they look incredibly painful. They're not too bad any more, thankfully; the Tok'ra healing glowy light thing (he'd tried to get Lam to explain it to him but decided after a little while he didn't actually care) had fixed most of the internal damage, but the bruises are still tender to the touch. Cam's fingers trace across his chest after a moment, touching each bruise lightly, fingers barely ghosting across the skin. He outlines each bruise, pulls his fingers through the centers, before he pulls John towards his own body suddenly. John finds himself crushed to Cam's front, and he stands perfectly still, feeling the same careful exploration of the bruising on his back.
Cam is suddenly stepping back, away from John, and John realizes, as he looks into his partner's face, that he has no idea what Cam is thinking.
Cam steps back suddenly, looking at his partner, and it all suddenly boils to the surface. "Do you have some kind of death wish?"
He can see John's eyes widen, see the honest surprise written there, and he brings a hand to John's face, locking their eyes. "Is life back on Earth so fucking miserable," he spits, "that you're gonna keep pushing and pushing until some goddamned savage on some godforsaken little hellhole ends it for you?"
And that's a big part of it, Cam suddenly realizes. Yeah, he's fucking sick and tired of John always being in some state of disrepair, wishes their house didn't always contain someone in a cast, wishes their medicine cabinet could hold vitamins and aspirin like a normal couple's might. But more than that, he wishes that he knew – really knew – that John wanted to be here. That he wanted to be Earthside, didn't regret giving up his posting in Atlantis to come home because Cam couldn't transfer out there. Cam wants to be sure that John doesn't resent his decision, resent him.
Cam wants to be sure that John doesn't hate Earth so much that he'd rather die than stay.
But suddenly, John's talking, staring back at Cam as if he's trying to literally pass his own feelings through their locked gaze. "No, I'm not miserable, I don't have a death wish, no." And Cam feels something inside of himself break, some tiny dam, and he's no longer sure if he wants to punch John or kiss him or cry.
"Then why," he asks as evenly as he can manage, "why do I feel like every time I turn around, you're in another fucking hospital bed, with another injury from doing something stupid and reckless and –"
Stupid and reckless bounce around in Cam's head, thundering in the walls of his mind. It's all he can think about as his hands move, almost of their own accord, to John's waist, where he grabs the hem of the shirt and yanks it up and off of John's body. He's focusing on John's chest now, seeing the bruises that the Tok'ra woman had told him would be there. Cam reaches out, trailing his fingers across John's chest, outlining the purple and blue mess. It looks worse than it feels, he's been told; the spots are still tender, but they won't be painful to lie on. Stupid and reckless are still echoing as he pulls John forward, repeating his actions across John's shoulders, down his ribs, to his lower back. The man is one big purple damn mess.
Cam steps back suddenly, needing to be away from John, needing to not be touching him for half a second – but that's all he can manage, not even a full second, it seems, before he's halfway down the hall, puling John along behind him (by the right arm, he realizes somewhere in his head, don't want to hurt him) until they reach the second door or the right, and Cam jerks John sharply into their bedroom.
John lets himself be dragged along into their bedroom. He's already made up his mind to let Cam take what he needs, but as they go down the hallway, John wonders if Cam even knows what that is. He's still mad, John's pretty sure, but he doesn't want to punch John, or he would've done it already. As they cross the threshold, Cam lets him go, but John stays still, waiting to see what Cam does.
Cam walks a few steps into the room before he spins and looks back at John. They stand like that for a moment, and John finds that he's trying to reassure Cam with his gaze, trying to say I trust you and go ahead and whatever you need without opening his mouth. Which, he evaluates, is stupid, given that his mouth still works.
"Tell me," he says simply, and he watches as Cam's eyes spark. In takes two long strides to bring himself within inches of the other man. "Tell me," he says again, more softly, and Cam suddenly exhales.
"Amber?" Cam repeats, and John nods.
And then Cam's hands are on him, puling and tugging at his belt buckle, his pants, his boxers. John's clothes are pooled around his feet in a matter of seconds, and Cam is kneeling on the floor, tugging at his boots. John steadies himself with his hands on Cam's shoulder, lifting his legs and feet as Cam works, until Cam stands back up and John realizes that he's completely naked.
Cam takes a step back, fumbling with his own belt buckle with one hand as he tugs at his own shirt with the other. John moves forward, reaching out to help, and meets Cam's glare. He drops his hands back to his sides, watching Cam's hands steady as he pulls off first his shirt and then his pants, tugging at shoes and socks until he stands, clad in his own boxers, a moment later. He just stands for a minute, just looking, and then he's suddenly puling John backwards, towards the bed.
"What-" John gets out before Cam's hand is back against his mouth, as it had been in the hallway.
"Don't," Cam breathes in his ear, shoving John down to the bed. John falls gracelessly, landing sprawled across the mattress, and watches as Cam finally strips off his boxers and follows him onto the bed. Cam is on him in moments, hard mouth against his own, and John lies pliant on the bed, letting Cam take what he needs.
"You won't even-" Cam says sharply, pulling back slightly. "God, John, you won't fight for anything, will you?" And then his mouth is back, sharp and demanding, and this time John pushes back; not resisting, but actively participating. He brings his arms up to Cam's sides, and Cam reacts instantly, grabbing John's wrists and pinning them above John's head. John honestly struggles for a moment, not used to the restraint, but he soon realizes that Cam's hold is rather effective, and he slackens. Cam is breathing fiercely above him, pulled back enough to rake his eyes over John's upper body.
"Better," he growls, low in his throat, and John just smirks, pulling at his hands again to agree. Cam makes a noise in the back of his throat and rocks his hips against John's, and John feels the expression slide off his face as he groans. Cam's eyes close above him and he repeats the motion, both of them moaning this time.
"You need to realize something," Cam says, voice lower than usual but still even. John looks up at him, eyes half-closed, and Cam leans down until his mouth is right next to his ear. "You can be a real fucking idiot."
John had followed him all the way into their bedroom, and Cam lets him go almost as soon as they cross through the doorway. He needs – God, does he even know what he needs? – needs to not be next to John for a minute, to figure out what the fuck is going on, why he's angry and maybe a little scared and why those emotions, of all things, are making him want his partner more than he could remember wanting him in a long time.
He's turned himself around while he was thinking, and now Cam finds himself facing John, watching the intense look on his partner's face soften, watching as John says, "Tell me."
John's stepping towards him, reducing the space that Cam put there, and Cam feels his eyes burning, trying to keep John in his sight because there's a sudden, primal urge to never let John get more than three feet away from him again, and John's repeating himself, quieter. "Tell me."
The feeling rushes to the forefront and Cam feels his restraint snap. He looks John in the eye as he lets out a sudden rush of breath. "Amber?" he recalls, wanting to be sure, wanting to make damn certain John knows he can stop this, because Cam's not going to trust himself to be able to read the cues that he's normally pretty adept at picking up on. John just nods.
Cam's hands are at John's belt before his brain catches up, and he's pulling at fabric and buttons and zippers as he slides to his knees, freeing John of boots and socks and clothing until John is bare, his hands on Cam's shoulders. Cam stands back up himself, reaching for his own clothing erratically as he stares at John. John reaches forward, his hands getting close to Cam's waist before he stills, reading something in Cam's face that he doesn't remember putting there. John's hands return to his own sides and Cam finds that he's suddenly much more able to remove his own clothing. He strips to his boxers and takes John in: his legs, scratched and raw; his arms, bruised; his left shoulder, purple and stiff; his torso, mottled and dark; his face, which alone holds ho sign of physical trauma but is set into an expression of trust and of acceptance, two looks that rarely reside there.
Cam shakes himself off and pulls John towards their bed.
"What-" John begins, but Cam cuts him off with a hand across his mouth. He doesn't even know why he's doing it; he doesn't mind John talking during sex, likes it even, but right now he needs the quiet, needs to be the one in control, needs John to shut the fuck up and listen.
"Don't," he manages, bending to deliver the word right into John's ear, and pushes at John's hips until he falls back onto the bed. He lands hard and lies as he fell, limbs spread out from his torso. Cam pulls his boxers down and off, and he's covering John's body with his own before he really knows what he's doing. He's kissing John, hard and demanding and rough, and John is lying there, just lying there, and Cam has a sudden flash of panic lying there like he's dead before the anger rises in him again.
"You won't even-" he grinds out, pulling back to collect himself. "God, John, you won't fight for anything, will you?" And yeah, part of him knows that he's being irrational, that John is trying, that this is really fucking out of character for him and John probably has no idea what Cam wants from him, but he pretty well ignores it as he leans back down to reclaim John's mouth. But now, now John's responding, leaning up into the kiss, kissing him back. Cam feels John's arms lift and suddenly there are warm hands on his sides.
Cam reaches and tugs John's hands up above his own head, pinning his wrists there with one strong hand. John's reaction this time is instinctual; his eyes widen a fraction as he pulls at his wrists, trying in earnest to free his hands. He relaxes a moment later, and Cam leans back, concentrating on breathing as he takes in the sight before him.
"Better," he decides; John is silent and still, trapped against the bed by Cam's body and hands. Cam has no doubt that if John didn't actually want to be here that he'd be flipped over and off before he could form a thought, or that John would just use the safeword – amber, he reminds himself – and they'd be working this out some other way. Instead, John smirks up at him, tugging against Cam's grip on his wrists.
Cam makes a noise in his throat that he's never heard himself make before and grinds his hips against John's. The smirk disappears as a moan escapes John's lips. Cam feels his eyes shut as if without his permission as he does it again, and this time his own moan adds to the sounds John makes.
"You need to realize something," Cam says, forcing his eyes open to look down at John below him. John looks up at him, his own eyes half-closed, and somewhere in his head, Cam wonders how his voice can possibly still be that calm. Cam leans down on top of John, supporting most of his own weight, until his mouth is right against the side of John's face. "You can be a real fucking idiot."
Cam feels the protest running through John's body, the automatic opening of his partner's mouth to deny the accusation, but he's quicker than the response. He moves to cover the space between his own mouth and John's, claiming it as his again as he lets his body press into John's torso. John moans into Cam's mouth, assent or argument, and Cam honestly doesn't care at this point.
"A real fucking idiot," Cam repeats and yeah, now his voice is uneven, but he feels everything inside him that he's been saving, every doubt, every frustration, bubbling to the surface and damn it, John is going to listen.
"You're not careful," he begins, and as he does he's reaching over to the drawer in the bedside table, fumbling around for the lube. "You're never fucking careful with your own damn life, and I don't know if anyone ever fucking told you this, but you only get one of those." He sits back and squirts some of the gel onto his hands before trailing his hand down John's chest. John, for his part, seems to get that he's supposed to be quiet, and shudders against Cam's hand instead of responding.
"Sure, you're a good team leader, and yeah, your team fucking adores you," Cam allows, pausing as his hand reaches John's groin. "But you can't be their leader if you go and get your damnfool ass blown the fuck up." He punctuates the last few words with quick, firm strokes, watching and listening to the reactions his words and actions produce.
John automatically tenses at the words fucking idiot, protest springing to his lips before he feels Cam moving over him, shutting him up rather effectively with his mouth. Cam's body is pressing into his and John moans, not even sure what he's trying to communicate, or even if that's what he's doing.
"A real fucking idiot," Cam repeats after a moment, and John can hear the unsteadiness in his voice now that wasn't there before. He's not sure if it's emotion or arousal and decides that it's probably both.
Cam is reaching for the nightstand when he speaks again. "You not careful. You're never fucking careful with your own damn life, and I don't know if anyone ever fucking told you this, but you only get one of those." He's got the bottle in his hands now, and John can hear the lid click open somewhere in the distance, but his head is filed with Cam, his words and his actions and the intent, the meaning behind both. Cam squirts the bottle into his hand and tosses the bottle off before running that hand down John's torso.
Cam's hand strokes a smooth, sure path from John's shoulder to his groin before he pauses. "Sure, you're a good team leader, and yeah, your team fucking adores you," he says, wrapping his hand around John and resting there as he continues. John is trying very, very hard to stay still, to focus, because fuck, this is important. "But you can't be their leader if you go and get your damnfool ass blown the fuck up." His hand moves a few times as he stops talking and John sucks in a breath. Listen.
"You don't seem to realize," and now Cam's hand is moving down, not rushing but not taking his time, seeming completely sure of himself, completely calm. John would believe it if he couldn't see the fire in Cam's eyes, feel the slight tremble in his fingers as he rests them on the sheets between John's legs, "that there's more to you than you."
Cam's fingers are moving now, sliding one at a time, preparing, and John's world is slipping in and out of focus as he concentrates hard on Cam's voice. "If you died out there doing something stupid," Cam says softly, "it would kill me."
John hears the words and goes absolutely still. Cam's preparing himself now, and John relaxes as his partner moves forward and sinks inside. They are both still as statues for a moment, adjusting, until Cam begins to move above John, slowly at first, but building to quick, hard thrusts within moments. Cam has stopped talking for the moment, and John rolls his last words in his head as he moans and pants under Cam.
They're neither of them good at talking about feelings or emotions or anything like that; both are military men, and both are too used to years of not being allowed to speak their real feelings to be comfortable with doing it now that it's no longer forbidden. John has always figured that they didn't really need the words, figured Cam knew what he meant to John and that John knew the same about Cam. But what Cam had said – and suddenly, it's like he can see himself from Cam's position, waiting at the Gate with his heart in his throat, hoping and praying. And he puts himself in Cam's shoes, feeling his stomach twist as he thought about the times Cam had been stuck off-world, been taken hostage, and those were for valid reasons, things that he hadn't gotten himself into through not thinking things through.
The feeling rushes through John's body, deep and powerful, and everything clicks into place, body and mind, as Cam speeds up. Suddenly, Cam grabs John's chin and stills completely. John opens his eyes, not sure when he'd closed them, and stares up, straight into Cam's eyes, fierce and bright now, no trace of the storm.
Cam rocks his hips forward, powerful and fluid, punctuating each word. "You… are... not... expendable," and with that, they're both flying.
Cam hears John's sharp intake of breath and moves his hand, bringing it down to rest on the bed between John's thighs. "You don't seem to realize that there's more to you than you." He knows he's not totally in control, can't be at this point, at he lets his mouth go, concentrating on keeping his fingers from trembling too badly as he works them into John. His mind is flashing back at a million miles an hour – John with a broken wrist last year, three years ago with staples up his side from surgery, last month with stitches in his temple, yesterday in a coma, looking dead – and it really is hard to keep himself in the present until he starts speaking again, words spilling out, trying to convey everything he needs to say, knowing he doesn't have the words. He tries anyway.
"If you died out there doing something stupid," Cam says, trying to enunciate clearly, "it would kill me."
John is absolutely still beneath him, his eyes open wide, and Cam can see that whatever John was expecting to hear, it wasn't that. Cam keeps going, slicking himself up and pressing forward until he's deep inside John, stilling completely once he's there. He moves after a moment, trying to stay slow until John can adjust, but finds himself moving faster and firmer, not trying to lose himself but pretty well doing so anyway.
He can tell that John's thinking, through everything, and almost takes a moment to admire the other man's ridiculous ability to multitask as he moans and writhes and thinks. Cam is past thinking coherently himself, instead giving in to the movement and sensation and the breaking inside of his body that soothes the ball of fear in the pit of his stomach. Every movement is a calming hand in his thoughts – he's alive, he's okay, he's here, he's alive.
Cam thinks suddenly of what he said – it would kill me – and knows, absolutely as he knows his own name, that it's the full truth. Neither of their jobs have any sort of personal security, and they both know that either one of them could simply not come back for any number of reasons, but losing John to his own recklessness would tear Cam to shreds. He would be useless, vacant, and it would get him killed.
Cam can feel the change in John, though he's not sure how or even what it is, but suddenly John is pulling Cam in as much as Cam is pushing forward, and Cam stops moving as he grabs John's face and locks their gazes together.
"You… are... not... expendable," he gasps out, rolling his hips forward with each word, and as he finishes his sentence, it's too much and they're both gone.
Cam isn't sure how much later it is when they start talking again. They have been lying together on the bed, Cam's arms wrapped carefully around John, avoiding the bruises and scratches that still cover his body.
"I'm sorry," Cam says eventually, his head pressed into John's shoulder.
John shifts beneath him. "For what?" he asks, and his tone is honestly curious, not just trying to brush him away. Cam presses a kiss into John's shoulder.
"Getting so pissed," he replies. "Hurting you in the hallway. Doing it like this."
"Hey," John says, a thread of surprise in his voice. "You have a right to get pissed when I'm being a fucking idiot." Cam can hear him grin. "You didn't hurt me past what I could handle, and you gave me a way out. And I happen to like doing it, in pretty much any way, shape, or form I can get." The lighthearted tone towards the end makes Cam smile as he closes his eyes, content to lie in the silence for just a minute longer.
"Would you have used it?" he asks suddenly, and John shrugs.
"I wouldn't have needed to," he replies, as if it's that simple. "You weren't gonna hurt me."
Cam pulls away and sits. "You don't know that."
"Yes, I do," John says, and now he's being gentle, as if Cam is the one lying battered and bruised in the bed, sitting beside Cam against the headboard. "Soon as you gave me a way out, made me come up with a safeword, I knew I wouldn't need it. Not just because I trust you," he adds, seeing the protesting look on Cam's face. "Because if you were thinking you might hurt me, you'd be careful not to." He pauses. "And you didn't."
Cam nods, not wanting to press the issue, but needing to be sure. "Would you have used it? If I slipped, or didn't think, or…" He hesitates, his mind coming up with a thousand things to fill the empty space, but not wanting to voice any of the ugly thoughts. John's hand on his thigh pulls him out of his own mind.
"If I thought I needed to," he says, "yes. I would have."
Cam nods again and sags a little against the headboard, suddenly glad for its support. He'd wanted to make sure John had that way out, but he also knew John well enough to know that there was a real chance the other man wouldn't say the word, would just let Cam keep going and going…
"Besides," John says, "you were nowhere near hurting me. Not even close." He slips an arm around Cam's shoulders and tugs him against his own good shoulder. Cam goes willingly.
John lets Cam lie against his shoulder, trying to form his thoughts in a way that's not going to come across as him being an asshole, which is kind of tough. He has no idea how to have this conversation. He's never had it before, never needed to have it before, and it honestly scares the shit out of him a little. A lot.
"Please don't take this the wrong way," he starts, then frowns when he feels Cam stiffen and lean away a little. He tugs his partner back against his chest. "It's not bad," he says in a rush, "but I don't want to sound like an asshole, and I usually end up there, but I'm really trying not to tonight."
Cam snorts. "You certainly have your own way with words," he agrees, but he relaxes again. "I will try not to take this the wrong way."
John's silent for another moment, gathering his words and trying to force them into making sense. "Before, what you were saying," he begins again. "Is that what – do you really –" And Cam sighs but doesn't move.
"Yes and no," Cam says, and God bless him for understanding John's inability to form words and still being able to get the message. "Didn't mean for it to quite come out like that," he confesses, ducking his face away from John for a moment, collecting his own thoughts.
"Maybe that's a conversation we should have had before the sex," John says thoughtfully. "Not during."
Cam turns back to face him, and there's a rueful sort of smile on his face. "That's how it went in my head," he admits. "Talking."
John smirks down at where Cam is propped against his chest. "I'm just too sexy," he drawls out, and Cam pokes him in a non-bruised area.
"Don't get a big head about it," he warns with a grin that quickly turns into a very raw expression. "I just – when I turned around and you were –"
John nods, knowing that Cam can feel it even if he can't see it. "I'm okay," he says instead, needing Cam to know it. Cam just looks up at him. "Well, yeah, I'm bruised as hell and I'm off duty for a couple weeks till my shoulder heals up, but I'm okay, Cam. I'm fine." He half-shrugs his bad shoulder in an attempt to play off the injury, but the wince flashes across his face before he can hide it. Cam holds his gaze.
"Do you know how close you were to dying, John?" he asks, reaching up to gently lay his hand, warm and soothing, on John's shoulder. "Did they tell you?" John mutely shakes his head. No, nobody had mentioned anything like that. Cam lets out a breath.
"If the Tok'ra hadn't shown up, if Landry hadn't happened to mention what happened, if she hadn't had that healing thing with her…" he lets the sentence slip into silence, knowing John can fill in the rest. "You had brain damage, John," Cam says quietly a moment later. "They didn't know if you were ever gonna wake up."
"Fuck," John swears softly, his arm tightening around Cam as he processes the information. "I didn't… Jesus fuck, Cam."
"Yeah," Cam agrees. "You were out for four days. That's pretty much all I thought the whole time."
"Four days,' John repeats. "Cam, I had no idea. I thought…" he trails off, bringing his free hand up to rub at his eyes. "Fuck."
Cam just nods against his chest.
They sit in silence for a little while longer.
"I love you," John says suddenly, his arm like iron against Cam's back. Cam looks up, astonished, and John's eyes are tightly shut against the confession, against Cam's reaction.
John has never said those words before. Cam's suspected, knows he sure as hell loves John, but he's never pushed for an admission, never said it out loud himself. He leans up now, brushing his lips gently to John's until the other man opens his eyes.
"I know," he says simply. "I love you, too."
John seems to relax under him all at once, and Cam's glad he has a hand down on the mattress, or he'd have fallen onto John's bruised frame. Apparently the admission opens up a floodgate in John, and the words tumble out.
"What you said before – I miss Atlantis, yeah, and being on Earth was rough for a while, but I'm not miserable. I'm nowhere near miserable. This is the closest to good I think I've ever been in my entire life, Cam." Cam blinks in the face of the sudden honesty, contentment flooding through him as he processes the words. John isn't finished. "I don't have a death wish, and I don't know why I keep going and doing stupid shit. It's like I'm hard-wired to rush headfirst into shit, like I can't help myself." He shrugs, good shoulder this time, and smiles a little self-deprecatingly.
Cam settles back against John's chest, mulling the words in his head. "It's who you are," he says finally, settling on the words. "Part of you took leave no man behind to a whole new level." John nods, silent now, and Cam knows he's thinking back to Afghanistan, to his team in Pegasus, to a thousand other times that Cam doesn't know about and doesn't want to. "I just wish you'd give a little bit of thought to it before you went running back through the Gate, I guess. Get some backup so you don't end up captured right alongside Arvis next time." Cam pauses. "He's fine, by the way. Can't decide if he's pissed at you for going back or grateful he's not like you right now."
"He's pissed, and as you pointed out, I'm a fucking idiot," John says dryly, and Cam wants to smack his own head for giving John a new way to devalue himself. He settles for rolling his eyes. "But yeah, that was pretty stupid of me. I really am lucky they didn't kill me."
"Not for lack of trying," Cam reminds him, settling his hand on John's torso lightly. "They beat the fuck out of you, John."
"Noticed," John says, glancing down to his abdomen. "I don't even know what we did, honestly."
Cam snorts. "You," he says, poking John again, "ignored the Chieftain's daughter when she made a pass at you. Or something like that."
John blinks. "Seriously? She was coming on to me? She was, like, fourteen," he gripes. "Also, incredibly not interested even if she were older," he hastens to add, but Cam just grins and shakes his head.
"Y'know, McKay told me once that you claim to never see it coming," he drawls. "I thought he was joking, but I'm beginning to see the truth in it."
John shakes his head, face twisted. "Can we make a rule?" he asks, and Cam raises an eyebrow. "No talking about McKay while we're naked."
Cam laughs, really laughs, and he feels the last of the ball of worry seething in his stomach uncurl and float away. "I think we can handle that," he says, leaning up to kiss John thoroughly.
"I love you," Cam says, relishing the words he no longer feels the need to hide.
"I know," John repeats back to him as he leans down to kiss Cam again. "I love you, too."