Characters: John/Cam, Evan/David
Word Count: 4,244
Rating: PG/surprising things.
Notes: Part of the kids'verse, yay for a return to cute things! Cam takes a weeklong vacation on Atlantis and, well, it's Atlantis. At least the whales didn't show up. Takes place when the twins are about two and a half. Thanks to clwilson2006 and stormylullabye for fixing my mistakes; anything left is all mine.
It wasn’t often that Cam got vacation time, so he got pretty excited when Landry dropped a paper on his desk, informed him of the IOA’s “everybody needs a vacation” drive, and told him to pick a destination.
Cam hadn’t thought twice before deciding on Atlantis.
That’s how he ended up in the Gate room, duffel slung over his shoulder, waiting as the Gate spun and whooshed out. Cam grinned as he trotted towards the event horizon, waiting for the signal from the nearest SF before walking through.
The Gate spat him out on the other side, and Cam was greeted by a security team, guns pointed in his direction. He dropped his bag to the ground and raised his hands. “Whoa, there, boys. I’m friendly.”
“Cam?” John sounded surprised, confused, but not unhappy. Cam grinned up at him as he jogged down the steps from the control room. “What the – what are you doing here?”
“Vacation,” Cam shrugged. “Landry said to pick anywhere.”
John stopped in front of him and Cam stood still, smiling at him, for long enough that it made him wonder if maybe he should have just hopped on a plane back to Kansas for a bit. But then John’s face broke into a grin and he grabbed Cam’s shoulders, tilting his face, meeting his lips. There was a catcall from somewhere behind them and John laughed as he pulled away.
“Come on,” he said, loudly enough for whoever had made the sound to hear. “You can stay with me.”
The applause followed them down the hall.
It was on Cam’s third day that it happened.
They were exploring in one of the unused labs in the City, John tugging him around and showing him this thing or that. Cam had the gene, though his was much weaker than John’s, and though he couldn’t feel the connection to the City like John could, he could definitely feel something at the back of his mind, something that felt more like home than anywhere else he’d ever visited.
The lab they were in had a bunch of machinery in it, mostly big boxes with writing Cam couldn’t read. None of it was initialized, so Cam kept his hands to himself, lest he turn on some giant power-draining video projector and spend the rest of his vacation getting yelled at by McKay for killing their ZPM. On the plus side, he evaluated, he’d get a little more time here with John, until the Daedalus could get back out this way.
It was almost worth it. Not quite, he decided, but almost.
There was a weird machine towards the back of the room, half-covered by a dust jacket, and Cam pulled the sheet the rest of the way off, meaning to resettle it immediately. He paused, looking down at the machine, because it was different. He leaned over its edge, peering down through the curved glass dome into the empty chamber without touching it.
“Any ideas?” John asked from beside him. Cam stood straighter, shrugging a shoulder.
“Fish tank?” he hazarded. John snorted and walked to the other side of the machine, placing his hand on a panel there, apparently entirely unconcerned about using all of the ZPM’s power.
John frowned and tilted his head. “I guess it’s broken.”
“Wait,” Cam said, “there’s another panel here,” and he pressed his hand to it, and there was a bright flash of light, and then-
The chamber wasn’t empty any more.
John tapped at his radio. “Beckett, I need you in Auxiliary Lab Three,” he said, remarkably calm. “And McKay. You too.”
Cam, for his part, was still staring into the chamber, because there was no way, no way, that there was actually a baby in there. No. Way. Especially not one that had rounded-out versions of John’s pointy ears and his own nose, not one with light eyes that seemed able to track him, not one that was almost certainly his. And John’s. And he suddenly recalled, rather sharply, asking John if Lorne had beamed himself a couple of kids, and he had to sit down, but he couldn’t look away from the tiny, tiny infant in the chamber.
“Easy there,” John murmured into his ear, slipping his arm around Cam’s waist, taking more of Cam’s weight than Cam had meant to give him. They stared at the baby together until Cam found his voice.
“I think so.”
Cam breathed in and out carefully, finally removing his hand from the panel. When he did, the glass over the chamber slid back, and the baby sucked in a startled breath. Her eyes squeezed shut and she began to cry with little reedy wails. Cam leaned forward before he knew what he was doing, scooped her up gently, and cradled her to his chest.
“Hey there, little one,” he said softly. “Don’t cry, now. Calm there, see.”
John reached over and touched his finger to one of the little girl’s palms. Her fist instantly clenched around it. Cam looked from the baby to John, surprised to see the smile on his face as he stared down at what was very likely their daughter.
“Oh my,” came an accented voice from Cam’s right. He looked over and saw Dr. Beckett staring at them, eyes wide, medical kit in hand. “Where did you find this wee one?”
John shrugged. “Can you give her a workup, Doc?”
Beckett nodded and held out his arms, and Cam passed the baby over reluctantly. The baby started to whine as soon as she was in Beckett’s arms, and Cam automatically began to reach for her again, but John pulled him back.
“Let Carson do his job,” John said, watching as the doctor laid the baby on a table and drew various medical equipment from his bag, running a scanner over her and doing God-knows-what else. He looked up after a few minutes and smiled at them.
“She’s perfectly healthy,” Beckett said, and Cam nodded, already itching to get her back in his arms. “I’ll need to run some more tests, obviously, but judging from the look of her, I’d say congratulations, boys.”
John’s face split into a grin as he collected the baby and walked back over to Cam. Cam reached out a finger to touch the baby’s palm, as John had done, and again, the little girl’s fist closed around it. Cam leaned his forehead against John’s, and they stared down at their daughter together.
“What did you turn on this time?” McKay’s voice came from around the corner. Cam could literally hear him come to a stop as he saw the two of them in the middle of the room, holding a baby and looking so obviously like new parents. Cam was expecting a snide remark or more yelling, possibly both, so he was a little surprised by the snicker from McKay’s direction.
“Lorne’s gonna be pissed,” he remarked. “Now he doesn’t have the weirdest baby story in the City.”
She was, in fact, theirs.
John and Cam sat on the couch in John’s quarters later that afternoon, the baby sleeping soundly in John’s lap as they continued to stare at her. She was, undoubtedly, the most beautiful, breakable thing that Cam had ever seen, and he couldn’t help reaching out to touch her again and again, stroking a finger down her side or touching her feathery hair or glancing across the tips of her toes.
Beckett had run all the tests twice before confirming what the men already knew: she was theirs, by some quirk of the Ancients. McKay confirmed it a few hours later, telling them that the machine had apparently been used for “reproductive purposes.”
“Leave it to the Ancients to take all the fun out of it,” he had snorted. He’d scrunched his face up when he added, “Apparently it can only be activated by two gene carriers who are,” and here he consulted a datapad and looked mightily like he wanted to use air quotes, “committed to each other and to the raising of their child.”
But she was theirs, completely and totally theirs, and wow, this was turning into one weird vacation, because Cam hadn’t known how seriously he’d been considering John’s question about kids, how much he’d actually wanted this, until she’d opened that tiny mouth of hers and let out her first whimpering cry. Now, though, he couldn’t imagine where else he’d want to be, what else he could possibly want to be doing, because he was sitting with the man he adored, who was holding their baby, and wow.
“We have to name her,” John said softly, bringing Cam back to reality for a second.
Cam shook his head. “I have no idea. You?”
John hesitated, and Cam shifted so he could sling an arm around John, lean into him a little more, set his chin on John’s shoulder and stare down at the baby. “Tell me.”
“Elizabeth,” he said softly. “If you don’t mind.”
Cam squeezed his shoulder. “I don’t mind at all,” he replied. “Elizabeth. Lizzie.”
“Elizabeth Emily Mitchell,” John said, staring down at the baby. “My mom,” he added.
“You don’t want her to have your name?” Cam was surprised. He hadn’t thought about it that far, not really, but he’d always sort of assumed they’d do the hyphen thing.
John turned to him, close enough to kiss, and leaned his head forward an inch into Cam’s. He closed his eyes and sighed.
“Your family – our family,” he said haltingly. “They’re wonderful. They’re perfect. When we bring her home, they’ll accept everything about her without a single question they know we can’t answer. They’ll love her instantly. My dad…”
Cam knew all about John’s dad, about how much he hated John’s decision to join the service, how he’d all but kicked John out when John had come out to him. He’d been a little surprised that John had gone to his funeral, honestly, but John had just shrugged when Cam asked him about it. “He’s still my dad,” had been the only response.
“Dave’s better,” John said now. “But I still don’t think this is something he can just – accept.” He paused. “I’d rather she be a part of a family that loves her for who she is, what she is, without ever doubting her. I want her to know her aunts and uncles and a zillion cousins that she’ll never remember and her grandparents and-”
John pressed his lips together tightly and Cam leaned forward, gently pressing a kiss to his mouth until John relaxed into him a little. Cam pulled back. “You’ve given this a lot of thought.”
A nod. “Since I first brought it up to you and you didn’t shoot it down immediately.”
“Okay,” Cam said, looking down at their daughter again, still fast asleep in John’s arms. “Okay.”
Cam was holding her a little later when the door chimes rang. John stood to answer the door. “Hey, Lorne.”
“Woolsey thought I should know,” came Lorne’s voice from the hallway. “Congratulations, and welcome to the club.”
Cam snorted as he stood, carrying Lizzie with him. Lorne stood, a young boy’s hand in his own, as the child in question tried his hardest to run in any direction. Cam squatted down on eye level with the boy. “Hi there.”
The kid stopped instantly, peering curiously into Cam’s face. He had no fear of strangers, apparently, and growing up on Atlantis would probably do that, Cam reasoned.
“Who’re you?” the boy asked bluntly. “And who’s that?”
John squatted down next to Cam and tugged on the boy’s free hand until he leaned forward into John. Lorne let go of his hand and the boy moved to stand between John’s legs, facing Cam. “Robbie, I’d like you to meet your Uncle Cam,” John said. The boy – Robbie, and the girl was Angel, Cam recalled – waved at him. “And this is your cousin Lizzie.”
Cam heard Lorne’s intake of breath but decided to let John handle that one. Robbie leaned over into Cam’s personal space, sticking his face right near Lizzie’s. “She’s little.”
“Yeah,” Cam said, in complete agreement with a two-year-old. “She sure is.”
John stood and continued his talk with Lorne while Cam and Robbie stared at Lizzie. Robbie sidled closer to Cam, little by little, until he was pressed right into Cam’s side, staring down over his shoulder at the baby.
“Can I hold her, Uncle Cam?”
“Huh?” Cam glanced at the boy and noted the hopeful expression on his face. “Oh. Um. Sure, I guess so. Let’s go sit up on the couch, okay?”
Cam negotiated Robbie into position, telling him to hold her gently, not to touch her head, and arranged pillows around the boy before gently placing Lizzie into his arms. She squirmed a little but didn’t cry, and Robbie’s eyes widened to saucerlike proportions.
“She’s little,” he repeated, sounding awed. Then, more decidedly: “I like her.”
“You know what?” Cam replied. “I think I do, too.”
Lorne called from the doorway and Robbie looked up. Cam retrieved his daughter and helped the little boy from the couch, and he ran back over to his father, who scooped him off the floor with ease. “I held her, Daddy,” he chattered. “I held Lizzie and I want to tell Angel and Papa and can we go find them?”
Lorne ruffled his son’s hair and smiled down at him. “Sure thing, buddy,” he replied, taking Robbie’s hand. He looked back at John. “David and I will be by later,” he promised, and the two walked away.
“Lorne’s giving us one of the cribs,” John explained, rubbing the back of his neck with one hand. “And Angel’s baby clothes. We’ll still need to get nappies from Teyla, but at least she won’t be naked for the foreseeable future.”
Nappies. Baby clothes. Cam looked down at the little girl in his arms and realized exactly what he was in for.
“Hey,” John said gently. “We’ll figure it out, okay?”
“Yeah,” Cam replied faintly. “I reckon we will.”
Three days later, it became quite apparent that ‘figuring it out’ meant a lot more than negotiating cloth nappies and figuring out the tiny snaps that adorned baby clothing. More than once, Cam decided to put Lizzie in some of Angel’s old Athosian babywear just because it had ties instead of buttons that his fingers felt too clumsy to handle.
On the third night after Lizzie appeared, Cam’s sixth night on Atlantis, John sat beside him on the couch, cradling the sleeping newborn against his chest. “I took a bunch of leave.”
“Huh?” Cam blinked as John settled against him. John shrugged.
“We haven’t really talked about what we’re doing now,” John reminded him. “I don’t want you to take her back to Earth without me, and I doubt you want to leave her in Atlantis without you here.”
Cam shook his head slowly. “Okay. So you’re coming back to Earth with me.”
“Yeah,” John said, bouncing Lizzie a little. “I took three weeks. I have more saved up if we need it, but I’m hoping we can figure something out before then.”
“You don’t want to transfer,” Cam said. It was a statement of fact, nothing that they didn’t already know, but it needed to be said out loud.
“No,” John agreed. “I don’t.”
Cam closed his eyes and leaned against the back of the couch. “We can be on a plane to Auburn tomorrow.”
“Okay,” John said. “Family. That’s good.”
Cam opened his eyes and just observed John for a minute. “You know, if you’d asked anyone which of us would be the more natural parent, I doubt they’d have picked you.” He paused, reevaluated, and pulled a face. “Except in a less terrible-sounding way.”
John shot him a glance that was half-amused, half-exasperated. “Thanks. I guess.”
“How are you not freaking out about this?” Cam asked tiredly. “How is this not getting to you?”
“I spent a lot of time with Angel and Robbie,” John said slowly. “Still do. I guess I’m just more used to having kids around lately than you are. And hey, it’s not even close to the weirdest thing that’s happened in this galaxy.” He paused, clearly trying to figure out whether or not to continue. Cam nudged John’s leg with his knee. “I did say I was interested in maybe having kids, Cam.”
“I know,” Cam replied. “And it’s not that I’m not thrilled. I just – a little warning, you know, I might be a little…” He waved his hand around, unable to articulate his thoughts. John nodded.
“We’ll figure it out,” he said again, staring at Lizzie.
“Yeah,” Cam sighed. “That we will.”
Momma’s voice held the same excited sound it always did when Cam made it home for a visit, her eyes sparkling as they always did. Her face quickly gave way to shock as she took in Cam’s appearance: disheveled, exhausted, carrying more bags than two people should need for a two week visit, some of them more brightly colored than those typically carried by adult men.
And then, of course, she saw John behind him, carefully cradling a sleeping Lizzie in his arms.
“Oh,” she breathed out, an entirely different expression crossing her face as she took in Lizzie’s impossible features, already so much him and so much John. “Oh, Cameron, John, oh my.”
“Please don’t ask.” Cam felt the words tumbling from his lips as Momma walked towards John in a sort of daze. “Please, Momma, yes, but there’s so much here I can’t tell you that it just isn’t funny.”
“Can I hold her?” Momma asked John, who smiled and laid Lizzie gently in her arms. Momma gasped as Lizzie opened her eyes, the hue sliding closer to John’s than Cam’s, and Cam knew she was in love.
“Lizzie,” John supplied before Momma could ask. He leaned over to take one of the bags from Cam and slung it across his own shoulders, grabbing the baby seat from the floor and standing on Momma’s other side. “Elizabeth Emily Mitchell.”
Momma just nodded, tracing the line of Lizzie’s round baby face with her fingertips before looking up at Cam. Her eyes were watery, and there was a huge smile on her face.
“You could have said something,” she chided gently. Cam winced, because he would have if it had been possible, and Momma shook her head at him. “Never mind, then.” She beamed at John as he took Lizzie back and settled her into the baby seat. “I suppose this is the surprise you mentioned?”
“That’s her, yeah,” John said as he stood.
“Does this mean you’re moving home?” Momma asked as they walked to the car. Both men winced, and Momma sighed. “Not asking. Sorry.”
“We’re still talking about our options,” Cam tried to explain. “There’s… a lot at stake here.” He stared at the back of the car, mystified by the buckles and straps and baby seat, until Momma gently pushed him out of the way, hands moving smoothly to fasten this to that, and when she stepped back a minute later, Lizzie’s seat was strapped firmly in place. “How did you do that?”
Momma just smiled at him. “You’ll learn.”
Family, Cam recalled with sudden clarity, was exhausting.
Momma had gone in ahead of them, telling everyone not to ask questions but apparently giving them no other warning, because when Cam and John walked in with Lizzie there was a lot of complete silence, something not often achieved in the Mitchell household, and even more staring.
Finally, five-year-old Laurie detached herself from her father’s leg and walked over to tug at John’s pants. “Let me see,” she complained, and John grinned and bent down, and then it got very, very loud.
They managed to feed Lizzie and eat something themselves and get sorted into Cam’s old bedroom. Cole was inside, looking perplexed as he shoved at the side of an antiquated crib, trying to fit it in with the bed and dresser already crammed against the walls.
“Here,” Cam said, dumping their bags on the bed. “Maybe if we…”
It took a few minutes for everyone to agree that maybe there just wasn’t enough space in the room for everything to fit. Cam sighed. “I’ll go ask Momma if we can stay down the hall.”
John bounced Lizzie in his arms as Cole leaned against the wall. He was smaller than Cam, not quite as broad, but so very clearly related. He and Lizzie shared the same cheekbones, the same arch in their eyebrows.
John noticed after a moment that Cole was blatantly staring at him. He shifted uncomfortably. “What?”
“Nothing.” Cole continued to stare.
“That’s not a ‘nothing’ look,” John said, trying not to get defensive.
“Sorry.” Cole shook his head. “This is weird.”
“Tell me about it,” John muttered. “You don’t know the half of it.”
Cole grinned. “I suppose I don’t,” he said, peering at Lizzie. “I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know, actually.”
John just nodded. Neither of them spoke for a moment, until John blurted, “Is this – okay?”
Cole looked puzzled. “Momma has another room down the hall,” he said, turning to point out the door. “Y’all should fit just fine in there.”
“No.” John had to resist the urge to run his fingers through his hair, mostly because he wasn’t sure he could do it and keep a good hold on Lizzie. “Me. And Cam.”
Cole’s face cleared. “John, nobody in this family has a problem with you and Cam. There’s not a soul that doesn’t want to see him happy, and you make him happy.”
“Yeah?” John smiled hesitantly. “Really?”
Cole crossed his arms. “You love him?”
“Yes,” John answered instantly, then blushed and looked down at the baby he was holding. At their daughter.
“And you both love her,” Cole’s voice came, softer. John just nodded. “That’s enough, John. Around here, that’s enough.”
John just kept looking down at Lizzie until Cam came back in the room, clapping his hands together and demanding that Cole help him shove the crib down the hall. John followed them slowly, looking around and feeling for the first time that this maybe could be home.
“We could stay here,” John said later that night, surprising Cam. He turned on his side and propped his head on his hand, looking at John.
“Do you want to?” he asked, studying John’s face, watching for the tiny expressions that would tell him what John wouldn’t actually say.
Cam was surprised to see the utter honesty in John’s face. He’d stay here, in Auburn, where everyone left as soon as they could just to get away. He’d stay if Cam asked him to. “You really would,” he said, astonished.
John shrugged, staring resolutely at the ceiling. “If you really wanted to.”
Cam reached out and turned John’s face so he could lean in and lay a kiss on his mouth. “Thank you.”
“Yeah,” John mumbled. “So?”
“I was thinking,” Cam said softly, “of getting myself transferred. To Atlantis.”
The look on John’s face was priceless – hope and surprise and love and relief all bundled up. He smiled brilliantly in the dark. “Yeah?”
“I have the paperwork,” Cam admitted. “It’s all filled out and everything. I just have to submit it.”
“That was fast,” John observed, squinting at him. Cam didn’t say anything, but then, he didn’t have to. “You’ve been thinking about this for a while.”
John grinned and leaned over to kiss him. “I guess we should stick around and make sure Lorne doesn’t blow up my City.”
“Or let McKay run it.”
“Or that,” John replied, shuddering. “Rodney’s a good guy, super smart, but God, if he were ever in charge-”
“Yeah,” Cam agreed. “We’d all be running for the hills.”
“Quickly,” John nodded. “Very, very quickly.”
They laid in silence for a little while, listening to Lizzie breathing quietly in her crib, just next to their own bed. “Landry will be okay with you transferring?”
“Yeah,” Cam answered immediately.
John huffed a laugh. “You’ve actually talked to him about it already, haven’t you?”
“Maybe,” Cam said again, grinning as John laughed aloud. “I’d be out there as a military advisor, which basically means I’ll sign off on mission reports and sit in on the briefings. It’s not a field ops position.”
John perked up. “Wait, I won’t have as much paperwork if you transfer?” He grinned. “When can you file the forms?”
Cam laughed. “Is that what you want?”
“Yes,” John said firmly. He hesitated. “What about you?”
“For now,” Cam said. “You’ll be there and you’ll be happy. And we’ll have Lizzie.”
“Yeah,” John said, more quietly. “And you’ll be happy?”
Cam smiled affectionately. “Dumb question,” he informed John. “At the risk of repeating myself, you’ll be there, and Lizzie’ll be there. Yeah. I’ll be happy.”
“Good,” John said decisively, smiling back. “Then we have a few more weeks of vacation that we can spend however we want, now that we came to a decision.”
“Sounds good to me,” Cam replied easily. “I, for one, vote that we sleep as much as we can.”
“Seconded,” John said, yawning and turning into Cam. They settled, drifting off happily, until a cry came from the crib. John snorted.
“So much for that idea.”