Word Count: 1,188
Notes: For rinkafic, who bought me in the help_nz auction and wanted some flyboys h/c. I hope you like it, dear, and thanks for donating!
He has three broken ribs, a fractured right fibula, a recently-reset right shoulder, and bruising up and down his body, but he’s got painkillers for all of that. That’s not what’s hurting him right now.
No, what hurts is when Cam turns his head to the bed next to his and sees John lying there, just as bruised and battered and worn-down. The difference between them is that John hasn’t woken up yet. He’s been out for four days, all told, ever since the head guard on P39-MX2 had given him a particularly vicious whack across the side of the head. He’d gone down hard, and he hasn’t moved on his own since.
Lam says he should be okay, should be fine in time, but Cam can see the worried looks she keeps flashing when she thinks he isn’t looking, the way she lingers over his vitals and his chart. John should have woken up by now.
Cam closes his eyes and sighs, going over everything in his head for the hundredth time today. They’d been surprised, stunned as they were walking away, and they’d woken up a few hours later in a cell, bruised and slightly battered already. John had wisecracked when the guard opened the door, and the beating had picked up immediately, a quick smack to the face and John spitting blood into the dirt in their cell.
The rest of SG-1 had, thankfully, gotten away; it had been close, Cam later learned, closer than he’d like to cut it, because Vala had seen them go down and it was only the fact that Jackson and Sam had both been able to grab for her when she went charging off that she hadn’t given away their position and been captured as well. They’d gone back to the Gate, gotten reinforcements, and come back as quickly as they could to save the day.
Seventeen hours. That’s how long it had taken, that’s how long they’d screamed questions at Cam and how long they’d hit John when Cam hadn’t known what answer to give, what to say to make them stop. They’d hit Cam, occasionally, when he’d lashed out at the guards holding him. That’s where his injuries had come from, but John’s – John’s were all a direct result of Cam, of him not knowing the right words, of him not being able to stop them.
There’s a sudden rustling sound and a machine beeping, and Cam’s already shouting for the doctor before he gets his head fully turned towards John. He tries not to hold his breath as Lam runs in, but then there’s a flurry of activity around John’s bed and Cam can’t help but draw in a breath, another, another, as the doctor confers with the nurses and flutters her hands at the machines.
The beeping stops, and Cam’s next breath is forced, strangled, pained, because there’s no noise coming from John’s bed but the voice of the doctor, too low to hear.
“Sorry,” John says later, and Cam snaps his eyes to John’s.
“You’re – what?” Cam responds after a moment. He’s a little stunned, to be honest, wondering what John could possibly have to be sorry for. “John, no, I’m sorry, okay?”
“Huh?” John replies, sounding about as confused as Cam feels. “Okay, you start.”
Cam focuses on John’s eyes, trying to pick out what he could possibly be upset about. “If I’d come up with some answers for them,” he explains slowly, “they wouldn’t have hurt you, John. I’m sorry I couldn’t think a little quicker on my feet.”
John stares at him for a minute. “That’s insane,” he finally says, and his voice might be weak, but it’s firm. “You can’t – Cam, this isn’t your fault. Don’t do that.”
“Don’t blame myself,” Cam repeats. “Right. And you were apologizing for what, then?”
“Scaring the shit out of you,” John replies frankly. “Doc says I was out for a couple of days-”
“Four,” Cam interjects.
“-four days,” John continues. “That’s – I know what that did to your head.” He gestures. “If nothing else, it gave you extra time to blame yourself before I could talk you out of it, and I’m sorry enough for that.”
“John,” Cam says quietly. “They were beating you because they knew it was the best way to get to me. How is that not my fault?”
“You have never once laid a finger on me,” John replies without hesitating, as if he spent the entire time he was unconscious preparing to defend this very argument. “Not in the twenty-plus years I’ve known you, not even when I deserved it.” He tilts his head. “Not when I married Nancy behind your back, not when I knocked on your door and crashed on your couch when she finally kicked me out, nothing, Cam. You didn’t hit me then, you didn’t hit me this time. You’ve never been responsible for me getting hurt.”
Cam focuses on his breathing again, in and out, until the ache in his chest subsides a little. “If I’d just-”
“-lied to them?” John holds his eyes. “I’m sure that would have been much better.” His gaze softens after a moment. “I don’t blame you, so don’t you blame you either, okay?”
Cam sighs and closes his eyes, trying to erase the image of them hitting John, of John going down, John not moving on the ground-
“Don’t,” John repeats. “Cam, please don’t.”
“They almost killed you.”
“They’re not the first ones,” John says mildly, and when Cam’s eyes fly open, he shrugs. “They won’t be the last, I’m sure. Hazard of the job, Cam, you know that.”
“I’ve never had to watch it before,” Cam points out, and John closes his mouth on whatever his reply was going to be.
There’s silence for a few moments before John speaks up. “Are you stuck to your bed like I am mine?” He gestures at the tubes and wires crisscrossing his bed, effectively keeping him in place.
“I’m mobile,” Cam answers. “You need something?”
“Yeah,” John nods. “You. Here. C’mon.” He pats the bed beside his hip.
Cam glances to where the curtain is pulled around their beds before gingerly swinging his legs over the side of the bed. He grabs his IV pole and half-walks, half-slumps his way to stand by John’s bed, but John shifts and shimmies his way to the very edge, taking his mass of medical equipment with him, until there’s just enough room for Cam to slide onto the bed next to him. John leans back into him, and when Cam puts an arm gently, delicately over his side and settles his hand on John’s stomach, John threads their fingers together.
“I’m all right,” John says quietly. “I’m alive, you’re alive, this isn’t your fault, and we’re gonna be fine, okay?”
Cam tucks his face into John’s hair and inhales, the first steady, even breath he’s had four long days. Something settles as he strokes his thumb along the back of John’s hand and breathes him in, solid and present and accounted for. “Yeah,” he replies after a minute. “Yeah, okay.”