John gets an email from Cam in the weekly databurst. He’s expecting the usual kind of message, tales from the Mitchell family, highlights of Cam’s recent missions, speculation on the sport of the season, maybe a few pictures of things on Earth he knows John is missing.
It’s none of that, though. It just says Happy New Year. 14 + 3. –Cam
John glances at the calendar and smiles. Fourteen years since they’d met, three since they’d decided that ‘friends with benefits’ wasn’t good enough for either of them. He types a quick reply and sends it off to sit in the buffer until the next databurst.
That doesn’t mean we’re getting old, does it?
John manages to arrange for a bouquet of roses to be delivered to Cam’s office on the fourteenth of February. He smirks as he thinks of the look on his partner’s face when the flowers arrive.
He’s sure it’s probably similar to the look on his own face when he walks into his office on Valentine’s Day and finds flowers of every Pegasan variety everywhere he looks.
“This is new,” Cam says as he looks at the Seder plate. “I remember the bone and the herbs and the salt water, but not this.” He pokes at the orange segment near the edge of the plate.
John looks up from the Haggadah and grins. “Do you remember what they’re all for?”
“No,” Cam says cheerily, even though he does. As he figured, though, John rolls his eyes and points to each of the things on the plate, giving their explanation in turn. He hesitates when he touches the orange segment.
“Uh,” John says, and his ears are flushing red as he glances back at the book on the table. “This one is kind of new.”
“What, did you forget?” Cam teases, but John shakes his head.
“It’s for remembering people who are historically forgotten,” he says haltingly. “Women. And – people like us.”
“People like us,” Cam repeats softly. He knows precisely what John means, so when John opens his mouth like he’s going to try to explain further, Cam reaches out and squeezes his hand with a smile. “You ready to start reading?”
“It’s hot,” John says. Cam grins.
“It’s the middle of the summer in Kansas,” he replies. “Of course it’s hot.”
“Pretty sure I didn’t sign on for this,” John grumbles, but given the way Cam is grinning at him, he figures Cam can see through it. “Why are we in a field, Mitchell? I thought we were celebrating Independence Day with your family.”
“We are,” Cam replies easily.
John looks around pointedly. There’s not a soul in sight besides the two of them. Cam just grins again.
“Look,” he says, pointing up across the field. John turns in time to catch the fireworks lighting up the other side of the field, outlining several figures on the ground. John hears a whoop that can only be Cam’s brother Cole.
“That’s cheating,” John complains, but he’s grinning too.
L’shanah tovah, Cam’s email says. Does this count as 14 and a half?
John snorts as he replies to the email. L’shanah tovah. You sound like my ex-wife, counting every single anniversary that you know I’ll never remember.
Cam’s reply is the first email in John’s inbox in the next databurst. I’m not your ex anything.
John smiles. Fair enough.
John opens his inbox and grins; there are ten photos attached to the email from Cam. The message reads Halloween with the kids, and John spends an hour looking at the pictures of Cam with his nieces and cousins, dressed as princesses and vampires and witches, and he smiles and misses home.
John sends Cam an email the week before Thanksgiving. Have a slice of apple with cheddar for me. Momma’s pies are like little bits of heaven on Earth, and John knows that he’ll miss their taste more than even turkey on the holiday.
The picture in his email the week after is of Cam, making a face but eating a bite of apple pie with melted cheddar cheese over the top.
John loves the act of gift-giving, but hates the process of searching for the gifts themselves. This year, he’d started in June, trying to pick up things on random missions that would make his partner smile, at the very least. He’s got his eight gifts, one for each night, and he’s even managed to swing a week’s leave on Earth. The dates don’t quite coincide with Hanukkah, but he’ll make it work.
“Hey,” he says, rapping his knuckles on Cam’s door. Cam snaps his head up so fast that John worries about whiplash, but Cam’s smile is bright enough to settle John’s fears. “I brought you Hanukkah presents.”
“You brought me you,” Cam says as he pulls John into a hug. “That’s good enough for me.”
John is one hundred percent certain that Cam’s behind his extended leave; he’d meant to go back to Atlantis after his week was through, but he’d gotten an email on his second-to-last day that suggested he just stay until after Christmas, no worries, all would be cared for. He hadn’t minded, not really, not past the perfunctory scowl and grumbling. But now he’s here in Kansas, Christmas Eve eggnog in his hand and a generous slice of pie with melted cheese balanced on his lap, and he’s leaning into Cam’s side and smiling as Momma recounts the family tales from the last year, and really, there’s nowhere else he’d rather be.
John manages to send the first email this year. 15 + 4. Happy New Year.
Cam’s reply is short and sweet. Here’s hoping for 16 + 5 and many more. Happy New Year.