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09 January 2011 @ 01:01 am
Ecclesiastes (1/3)  
Title: Ecclesiastes
Author: somehowunbroken
Fandom: SGA/SG1
Characters: John/Cam
Word Count: 20,098
Rating: NC-17
Notes: For bluflamingo, my recipient in this year's John/Cam Thing-A-Thon over at sg_flyboys. This kind of fell off the track of your prompt at some point; I do hope you'll forgive me and that you like it anyway :)

Summary: When Cam comes home to find John sleeping on his couch, he has no idea what they're in for. AU from 'The Return' on.

Spoilers: General spoilers for pretty much everything up to and including SGA: 3x11, “The Return, Part Two,” and SG1: 10x11, “The Quest, Part Two,” though it goes largely AU after that point. Specific spoilers for SG1: 4x10, “Beneath the Surface” and SG1: 10x14, “The Shroud.” Other than that, um, severe and sincere abuse of canon, sorry.

Other notes: Thanks to my incredible beta, stormylullabye , who has seen exactly four episodes of SG-1 and still managed to do a critical read-through of the story. Also, thanks to clwilson2006 , calcitrix , and camshaft22 for other read-throughs and general hand-holding and encouragement through this. Any and all mistakes are, by this point, entirely my fault. :)



There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.


i. give the salt back to the sea

a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build


Cam returns from maybe possibly finding the Sangraal and definitely for sure losing Jackson exhausted, and he wants nothing more than to drop down onto his couch with a beer and fall asleep for the next two days or so. His plan is foiled as soon as he walks through the door to his apartment, though, because there’s a duffel bag in the hallway and a pair of combat boots on the welcome mat and a figure already huddled on the couch, curled up beneath the afghan Momma gave him Christmas last.

Cam lets the door slam shut behind him and the figure startles upright. Cam takes in the messier-than-usual hair and dark circles beneath hazel eyes before speaking.

“John. What brings you Earthside?”

John slumps back into the couch, clutching the blanket in his hands. “Sorry.”

Cam frowns, because it’s not any sort of answer to his question, and as far as he knows John’s got nothing to apologize for. “Why?”

John blinks, and Cam’s struck by how bad he looks – his hair is ridiculous, sure, but his face is pale beneath that, his eyes sunken, the circles beneath them like bruises. He looks hollow, and Cam’s gut clenches as he thinks about everyone on Atlantis and how damn responsible John feels for all of them, and wonders who died.

“I’ve been here for a week,” John finally answers. “I drank all the beer.”

“Looks like you needed it,” Cam replies, walking into the living room and sitting in the easy chair, facing John. “Why have you been here for a week?”

John’s head tilts. “You said I could,” he reminds Cam, a conversation they’d had ages ago when they’d both realized the other was in the program, a key left in John’s long-term storage at the SGC and a promise of a place to stay.

“Yeah,” Cam agrees. He’s not angry that John’s here, just confused. “But why aren’t you on Atlantis?”

John’s face shuts, goes perfectly blank, and Cam has the crazy thought that it’s Atlantis that died, that that’s who John’s mourning here on his couch alone.

“Nobody told you,” he says, and it’s not a question. His voice is absolutely flat. “They just-” His voice breaks off, and Cam has the urge to reach out and touch John. He holds back; John looks like he might break, like he’s just too fragile for everything right now.

“Nobody said anything to me, no,” Cam replies evenly. “Do you want to tell me, or should I just go make up the spare bed?”

John shakes his head. “I’ll stay on the couch,” he says, slumping a little to the side.

Cam sits for a minute, watching as John’s eyelids droop and he falls into the sleep of the dead. He shakes his head, picks up his own bag, and makes his way to the end of the hall. Once the door to his bedroom is firmly shut, Cam flips his cell phone open and dials.

“Hey,” he greets when Sam picks up on the other end. “Why is Sheppard passed out in my living room?”

There’s a second where Cam doesn’t believe a single word Sam’s said to him – John and his team finding Ancients, actual, living Ancients; said Ancients kicking everyone out of Atlantis, with nobody being left behind; a vague, hazy someday-in-the-future offer of returning that sounds more like placating than a sincere offer. He almost doesn’t believe it, but then he thinks about John looking like he’d lost every damn thing he’d ever loved all at once, and he knows it’s the truth.

“Thanks,” he says into the silence when he’s processed everything. “We still on stand down?”

Sam hesitates. “For a few days, yeah,” she says, and she’s careful not to mention until we find a way to find Daniel or anything like that, and it’s great that she’s trying to not give him more to worry about right now but it’s almost harder to not-think about it when she doesn’t bring it up, ignoring the white elephant in the room.

“Yeah,” Cam says instead of pointing that out to her. “Thanks.”

The sound of Sam debating over whether or not she should say something else crackles on the line. Cam sighs. “Spit it out.”

“I don’t want to assume anything,” she finally says. “But – he came to you for a reason, Cam. I don’t think he’s just borrowing the couch.” Cam freezes, because of course Samantha Carter would figure out Cam’s Big Damn Secret, but she continues before he can get out a word, protest or otherwise. “I want to say ‘don’t hurt him’ but I know you won’t, and I want to say ‘be careful’ but you always are.”

“Oh,” Cam finally replies after too many seconds have ticked away. “Okay.”

Sam laughs, a quiet little sound, and Cam has to screw his eyes shut because it’s how she sounds when she’s telling you something she thought you already knew. “Cam.”

“I should go,” Cam says, not wanting to have this particular conversation over the phone, or ever. “See what I can do.”

Sam lets him hang up the phone with his dignity intact, at least, and Cam spends the next little while worrying about John, about Jackson, about himself, before he closes his eyes and falls into oblivion.

-0-

Cam wakes to the sound of his shower running, John’s surprisingly nice tenor following a melody Cam can’t hear well enough to place, though it seems familiar. It’s a Thursday, and Cam mentally catalogues what he has to do today, things like going grocery shopping and writing his report on the clusterfuck that was that last mission. He can spend it at home, at least, which is more than he can say for the man currently walking from the bathroom, towel slung low around his hips.

Make that another thing to do today, then: figure out why John’s here, what he’s doing, what he needs from Cam. Figure out if it’s something Cam can even give him. It’s probably not, but Cam figures he can at least try.

Cam gets out of bed and watches John disappear through the entrance to the living room. Cam debates following him down the hall before realizing that he’s probably getting dressed, and heads for the shower himself instead.

The shower is, as always, spent thinking. Cam’s hands automatically reach for soap and shampoo and his razor, moving through the motions as his mind whirs. John’s here and Jackson’s gone, John’s in his living room and nobody knows where Jackson is, he doesn’t know how to help John and he doesn’t know how to find Jackson. He tries attacking the thoughts from different angles but keeps coming up with the same things. It’s a start, he finally decides as he shuts the water off and towels himself dry.

Cam dresses in jeans and an old tee before he walks down the hall. He passes the doorway to the living room, where John has folded the afghan and put it neatly on the back of the couch. John’s curled into the easy chair, staring absently at the television. It isn’t on.

Cam continues the few steps to the kitchen and surveys his refrigerator. There’s a carton of eggs with a few missing, some milk, a shady takeout container with the name of a restaurant that he doesn’t remember ordering from, and a few bottles of salad dressing. Cam chucks the takeout without even opening it and sniffs the milk, instantly deciding that it would probably be better off dumped as well. Options narrowed, he grabs the eggs and shuts the refrigerator, moving to the stove and grabbing a pan.

Cam knows by now that John likes his eggs scrambled – “Easier to eat,” he’d once explained as he shoveled a forkful into his mouth while dashing from the mess hall at McGuire – and it’s simple enough to crack the eggs into a bowl, add in some salt and pepper, toss the mess into the pan and wait. Cam hunts around in the cupboard until he finds a loaf of bread; the end piece is no good, but the rest of it looks fine, so Cam butters it and slaps it down into the pan after he slides the eggs out. He’s just tossing the toasted bread onto the plates with the eggs when John walks into the kitchen.

“Forks and napkins,” Cam directs, and John grabs them from their drawers and sets them on the table. He walks back to the coffeepot, which Cam hadn’t noticed is already full, and pours two steaming mugs, tipping the sugar over Cam’s cup before bringing those over as well.

They eat in silence, but it doesn’t take long before they’re both finished; it’s only eggs and toast and coffee, after all, not some grand feast. John picks up the plates without saying a word and heads to the sink, running the water and grabbing the sponge to wash everything off.

Cam considers him for a moment. They’re friends; they’re pretty good friends, actually, closer than most seem to be in the Air Force, especially given Cam’s preference for fixed-wing craft opposite John’s love of choppers. They’ve only been posted together a handful of times since graduating from the Academy, longer ago than Cam cares to consider, but it hasn’t stopped them from staying friends. Cam’s family loves John as one of their own, more than John’s own family does, Cam is fairly certain. And they’ve known about each other for years, since John had walked in on Cam making out with Andy Selkiss in Cam’s dorm room at the Academy, snorted, made a smartass comment about all the pretty ones being with each other and him being left with the dregs, and walked back out. Cam’s pretty sure that there’s nobody on this planet or any other who knows him as well as the man in front of him now, and is just as certain that the reverse is true.

Cam studies John as the other man scrubs at a particularly tough spot in the pan Cam had used. John’s always been thin, but now he looks like he hasn’t eaten right in weeks. His shoulders are slumped in a way that has nothing to do with his lack of respect for posture, and as Cam watches, he drops the sponge in the sink, stares at it for a few seconds, and picks it back up with trembling hands. Cam has never seen him look this bad, not even during the worst part of the divorce.

“Thanks,” Cam offers when John puts the pan in the drying rack. “I’d have done it.”

John shrugs one shoulder as he doesn’t quite meet Cam’s eyes. “You cooked.”

“John,” Cam says, and John’s eyes rise up an inch and hold Cam’s squarely. Cam sighs and crosses the kitchen and stands just inside John’s personal space. “I talked to Sam last night.”

John seems to crumple, his shoulders dropping further, head bowing to meet his chest. He leans a little towards Cam, who takes it as the invitation he’s looking for and wraps his arms around John’s frame, pulling the other man to his body. John doesn’t cry, doesn’t scream or yell or anything. Really, he just stands there, head buried in Cam’s shoulder, gasping in careful, regulated breaths, his entire body shaking. Cam turns his face slightly to rest his cheek against John’s head and just holds his friend. They stand like that, tucked together, until Cam’s bad leg is screaming. John seems to know when it’s as much as Cam can handle and steps back, drawing his hand across his face. Cam takes a step back and looks down to where the dishes are drying, giving John time to compose himself.

“Yeah,” John says a minute later, and when Cam looks back at his face, John meets his eyes and all Cam can think is that he was right last night, wondering if John was in mourning. He quickly considers his options and smiles a little.

“Yeah,” he agrees. “C’mon, let’s get over to Albertson’s. I’m assuming you’ve been eating takeout for a week, since I haven’t been here to get you to eat your vegetables?” He keeps his tone light and is rewarded with the ghost of a smile on John’s face.

“I got mushrooms on my pizza,” he offers. Cam just rolls his eyes.

-0-

Cam thinks that maybe the food store wasn’t the best place to take John, because he wanders down every aisle and stares at things that wouldn’t have fazed him before Atlantis. He stands in front of the canned soup for nearly five minutes, reading every label and shaking his head.

“Do you know how many kinds of soup they have here?” he says quietly to Cam, but continues before Cam can even hazard a guess. “One hundred and twenty-six, between different brands and varieties. Do you know how many different kinds of soup I’ve had in the past three years?”

Cam just waits until John speaks again, reaching out to grab a can of Swanson’s broth from the shelf. “Four.” He smiles strangely as he turns the can in his hands. “And one of them I’ll never have again.”

Cam gently takes the can from John’s hands and puts it back on the shelf. “Any particular one you’re craving?”

“Tuttle root,” John says, staring at the cans as if he can make the one he wants appear if he just concentrates hard enough. Cam closes his eyes and repeats Great Gran’ma Edith’s favorite prayer – Lord, give me strength – as he closes his hand around John’s.

“Let’s go,” he says simply, pushing their cart with one hand and leading John with the other.

The rest of the store is the same; Cam picks up a selection and moves on down the aisle, waiting and watching as John picks up this or that, marvels at it, and puts it back down. The only thing he actually brings over to the cart is a jar of peanut butter. He places it in with a shrug. “We only ever had Skippy. I like Jif better.”

“Jif is superior,” Cam agrees, pointing to the jam. “What kind?”

John has another few moments of culture shock before picking up a jar of strawberry preserves. “Can we get yogurt?”

Cam’s a little baffled at the non sequitur but shrugs. “Sure. What flavor?”

“Strawberry banana,” John says definitively, and it’s the first thing he’s had a strong opinion about since they entered the store, so Cam passes the next five aisles and stands next to the yogurt, watching as John picks up Stonyfield Farm and Dannon before deciding on Yoplait, picking at least eight different cups and sticking them in the cart.

“Didn’t know you were such a fan,” Cam comments as John visibly debates over whether or not he should add Cherry Orchard to the pile he’s got in the basket.

“It’s for toast,” John informs him, putting the cherry yogurt back and reaching for a second cup of Harvest Peach.

Cam stares at him. “For what?”

“Toast,” John says, a slight quirk of his lips the only indication that he might – might – be joking. “Instead of jam or cream cheese or butter.”

“You put yogurt on toast?”

John straightens from the cart, and his lips form a full-on smirk. “Yes, Mitchell. I put yogurt on toast.”

Cam blinks, processes, and makes a face. “Doesn’t it get all soggy and disgusting?”

John snorts and shakes his head. “Only a little. Like butter, only it’s flavored.” He shakes a cup of Mango at Cam before tossing it into the cart. “I eat the rest of it.”

“Huh,” Cam says. “Maybe I’ll give it a try.”

“You should,” John agrees. “If only so I’m not the only one who does it.”

-0-

The yogurt thing really seems to lift John’s spirits for some reason, so Cam decides not to bring Atlantis up just yet. Instead, he and John focus on fitting their groceries into Cam’s kitchen. The pantry is easy enough to fill, but it’s a fight to get everything into the refrigerator. After fifteen minutes or so of rearranging, Cam steps back with a victorious grin.

“I always was good at Tetris,” he gloats, and John actually laughs for the first time since Cam got home. He pulls a box of crackers from the pantry and opens them, munching as he looks around, not seeming to focus on anything. Cam grapples with something to talk about, anything, and for a split-second thinks about how this was part of his friendship with John that he’s always valued, that there was never this awkwardness of not knowing what to say. He pushes the thought away and settles on, “So how’d you get started with that yogurt thing, anyway?”

John rolls his eyes. “My mom did it when I was a kid. Said it was healthier than butter, and tasted better, too.” He shrugs. “I thought she was insane, but when she died, I figured I’d try it, see if it was something of hers I could keep with me.” He says it matter-of-factly, and Cam has to remind himself that John’s mother died when he was seven, that it’s perfectly normal for him to be able to talk about her so casually now.

“Glad you liked it that way, then,” Cam responds. John grins and grabs a cup from the refrigerator, placing it on the counter before grabbing the bread from the pantry.

“You’re trying it,” he informs Cam as he pulls the breakfast pan from the drying rack and begins to heat it up. “Right here, right now.”

Cam palms the cup. “Can we at least not go with Mango?”

John laughs. “Grab another, then.”

Ten minutes later, Cam has to agree that it’s a lot less disgusting than he thought it would be. John pulls another slice of toasted bread from the pan and spreads a thin layer of Strawberry Banana across the top, handing it to Cam before preparing another for himself. “Pretty good?” John asks.

“Pretty good,” Cam agrees. “I’m not sure it’s going to be an everyday thing for me, but I’ll admit that you were right about this being decent for breakfast.”

John grins as he pops the last of the toast into this mouth. “Told you so.”

Cam rolls his eyes and finishes his toast. This time he does the dishes, and the silence in the kitchen changes from comfortable to slightly strained as he finishes drying and putting them away.

“I don’t want to be here,” John says after it’s almost become too much. “I want to go home.” There’s pain in his voice, a longing that Cam can’t remember ever hearing before.

“I’m sorry,” Cam says quietly, because he is, and there’s nothing he can do to help John get what he wants. “John-”

“Is it okay if I stay here for a little while?” John cuts him off, closing his eyes and sagging back against the counter. “Until I can handle-” He stops.

Cam nods, though John can’t see it. “However long you need.”

John lets out a breath. “Thanks.”

“Let’s move your stuff into the spare bedroom,” Cam suggests, and John’s eyes fly open, wide and a little panicked.

“No,” he says hastily, and Cam tilts his head at John, who closes his eyes again and shakes his head. “Just – I will, okay?” he continues, more quietly. “Not yet.”

Moving to the guest bedroom makes it real, Cam realizes, makes it permanent. He nods again. “Fine by me. Just let me know.”

John nods and changes the topic. “So catch me up on the Big Ten,” he says, and Cam heads into the living room and talks about Ohio State and Purdue as he switches the television on. SportsCenter takes over when Cam runs out of steam, and they sprawl across the couch and drink beer and jeer at Stewart Mandel’s predictions until the sun goes down and it’s a reasonable time to go to sleep.

Cam turns to say something to that effect and meets John’s lips, hot against his own, and when he opens his mouth to ask what the hell John pushes in farther, tongue sliding against Cam’s. After a minute, John breaks away but stays close.

“Help me,” John says, voice pleading as his forehead rests on Cam’s. “I need-”

To forget, Cam’s mind fills in when John’s voice doesn’t finish the sentence. John needs to forget, to let go and not think about what he doesn’t have any more. And it’s probably not healthy, Cam knows, but it’s something he can do, a way he can maybe make John not hate his life for a little while, so he leans back in and kisses John carefully, letting the other man take over.

John leans into him until they’re flat on the couch, John on top of Cam, and his hands hold Cam’s over his head as their mouths meet again and again. When John moves his head to the side and rests his forehead on Cam’s shoulder, Cam turns his face and kisses John’s cheek. “Here or bed?”

John mumbles something into Cam’s shoulder and stands, reaching back to haul Cam onto his feet. They stumble down the hall into Cam’s bedroom, losing clothing the entire way, until they’re naked on top of the covers and rubbing against each other almost frantically.

John’s hand slips between their bodies to grasp at Cam, and Cam swears and pushes his hips up almost involuntarily. John moves his hand expertly, fingers gliding in a pattern they’ve clearly traced before, and as he twists his hand Cam arches his back and comes.

John kisses him hard until Cam gets his mind back. Cam rolls so he’s on top and mouths his way down John’s body, wound tight as wire, until he’s swallowing John down. John’s hands find their way into his hair and he gasps out a sound that Cam’s not sure he can identify, maybe isn’t sure he wants to. John puts his arm across his face as he comes without warning, and Cam does his best to gentle him through it until he’s done.

Cam crawls back up John’s side and wraps his arms around John’s trembling frame. He’s completely silent, but Cam knows he’s still awake. He rubs a hand up and down John’s back until John finally lowers his arm.

“Sorry,” he mumbles, and Cam pulls him in tightly, pulling the blankets around their bodies.

“Don’t be,” Cam tells him firmly.

It’s a long time before John falls asleep, but it’s not much longer after that before Cam lets himself follow.

-0-

The morning isn’t nearly as awkward as Cam thought it might be, waking up with John already awake but still in bed. Cam blinks the last of the sleep from his eyes and rubs his thumb across John’s shoulderblade. “Morning.”

“Hey,” John greets, leaning his head forward to touch his forehead to Cam’s. It’s the second time he’s made the gesture, and Cam files the information away for later. “Sorry.”

“What for?”

“Freaking out,” John admits. “Losing it a little last night.”

“I think you’ve earned that right,” Cam tells him, idly moving his thumb up and down. “I can’t even imagine…” He can’t finish the sentence, doesn’t know what to compare John’s loss to in his own life. Cam quirks a lip at himself as he realizes that he literally can’t imagine what John’s going through.

John sighs. “I have to get used to it.” It sounds like something he’s been telling himself again and again, something he’s trying to remember rather than something he actually believes.

Cam is quiet for a minute as he decides how to phrase his question. “What are you doing now?”

John scowls, but Cam knows it’s not directed at him. “Meetings. Threat analyses, debriefings, planning what to do with my Marines. Administrative shit.” One corner of his mouth lifts in a mirthless smile. “I used to pawn all this shit off on Lorne. Now they make us both go.”

Lorne’s probably just about as bad as John is right now, Cam thinks, but then he remembers Lorne and that botanist huddled up in the greenhouse during his tour of John’s City, and thinks that maybe it’s not so bad if you’ve got someone else going through it with you.

“What about after the meetings?” There’s an idea in the back of Cam’s skull, working its way to his mouth, but Cam bites down on it. Maybe John’s already got plans, maybe John’s had plans made for him –

“Not sure,” John shrugs. “Landry talked about putting me on a Gate team, maybe giving me my own when something becomes available.”

They both take a moment of silence for that. In the SGC, jobs “become available” when those who had been holding them die, usually in fairly horrific ways. Cam would love to see John leading a team, but not at the expense it would take to get him there; he knows that John feels the same way.

“Look,” Cam says, “I’m down one. Tag along with us until you get your bearings.”

John pulls away. “Jesus, Cam, you lost someone?” There’s an edge of panic in his voice. “And I show up on your couch. God.” He makes to move out of Cam’s arms, but Cam holds tightly.

“He’s out there,” Cam says stubbornly, refusing to accept any other possibility. “He’s not gone. He’s just… missing.”

“Dogs go missing,” John points out. “Your iPod goes missing. People don’t go missing.” He pauses. “Jackson?”

“Jackson,” Cam confirms with a sigh.

John seems to consider it for a moment. “Maybe he is just missing.”

It’s a joke, or close enough to it, and Cam laughs; it makes John smile, so even though Cam feels a little bad that it’s at Jackson’s expense, he’s glad there’s something that can lift John’s spirits for a moment.

“So you want me to join SG-1,” John muses aloud. “The flagship team of the SGC and its golden-boy leader against the black sheep of the organization.” He flashes a smirk at Cam. “Though you’ve got a dirty little secret or two of your own in the closet.”

Cam rolls his eyes. “Nothing you haven’t known about for years.” Nothing you don’t share, he ads silently, and knows that John hears it anyway, because the smirk doesn’t falter.

“I’d like to,” John says after a moment’s pause. “Tag along, I mean. I just don’t think Landry’s gonna go for it.” He shifts in the bed and closes his eyes. “He and I don’t exactly see eye to eye.”

“Is that what they’re calling it these days?” Cam asks with a grin. Landry’s dislike for John is apparent in pretty much every interaction the two men have. Cam’s pretty sure it’s because John, by all rights, should have been thrown out of the Air Force years ago, instead of being given Atlantis. It rubs Landry’s Sense-Of-Right the wrong way, especially since his hands are pretty much tied on the issue, given John’s experience and the fact that he’s a natural gene carrier. Even without Atlantis, that still counts for quite a lot.

John snorts. “Figured it sounded better than ‘he hates my guts,’ for some crazy reason.” He backs out of Cam’s embrace and swings his legs over the side of the bed. “Breakfast?”

“No toast,” Cam warns, and John grins again.

“I’ll just put butter on yours,” he promises as he walks out the door.

Cam gets up and showers, thinking about the best way to convince Landry to let John join SG-1, at least until they find Jackson. By the time he gets into the kitchen, there’s buttered toast and sliced fruit on a plate for him. Cam sits down to eat as John heads to the shower.

“I’ll talk to Landry,” Cam says when John rejoins him, freshly showered. “We could use your help, and you could use something more exciting than escorting a geology team around, I’m sure.”

John makes a face that assures Cam that he’s right. “Sounds – good,” he answers, and there’s a quick flash of surprise across his face, like he’s shocked to hear himself say the words, or shocked to find that they might be the truth. He continues, more quietly. “If I’m going to be stuck here, at least getting shot at once in a while might make it a little more worthwhile.”

Cam can only laugh, because what does it say about both of their mental states that he wholeheartedly agrees with the sentiment?

-0-

“No.”

Cam pinches the bridge of his nose and fights the sigh rising in his chest. “General-”

“No,” Landry repeats, more firmly this time, and Cam can see the stubborn set of his jaw and is reminded of a fight he and his younger brother had had years before, when Cole had set his feet in the mud and refused to give in. Until Cam had let the slack of the rope go, that is, and Cole hadn’t had a choice but to stumble forward.

“Fine,” he sighs now, rising and making for the door. “Just thought I’d keep him out of your hair for a while, at least until he calms down a bit from losing command.” Command is hardly what’s got John so upset, but Cam knows how to phrase things so Landry will understand.

Cam grins a little to himself when he hears Landry sigh. “Colonel Mitchell.”

“Sir?” Cam makes sure he’s got his expression under control before he turns back to face Landry.

“Take him,” Landry growls. “But I don’t want to hear it when you find yourself getting captured even more than usual.”

“Will do, sir,” Cam says, careful not to sound too cheery about it, and heads out to find John.

It’s not that difficult, as it turns out; John’s waiting right where Cam left him, in the chair in Cam’s office, tossing a bundled-up ball of rubber bands into the air and catching it. His tone is guardedly casual as he asks, “What’s my fate?”

Cam grins. “Get your jacket,” he answers, tossing a set of SG-1 patches at John’s chest. “We’ve got an archaeologist to find.”

-0-

Introducing John to the rest of the team is, Cam finds, a little trying. Sam knows John and likes him well enough, but she frowns when Cam tells her that he’s going to be part of the team for a while. Teal’c, in typical Teal’c fashion, bows his head and doesn’t say anything.

Vala is the one Cam’s most worried about, for so many reasons, but it turns out that none of those concerns are valid. No, Vala invents an entirely new reason for Cam to worry about her reaction to John.

“Oh, you’re cute,” she beams, latching her arm through John’s when Cam brings him by. She’s been moping in Jackson’s office for the past few days, apparently, so Cam had been prepared for accusations about him replacing Jackson or Vala’s icy ignorance of John, but he’s really not expecting this immediate acceptance. “Don’t believe anything Cameron tells you about me, darling. I’m perfectly harmless.”

“I doubt that very much,” John tells her, neatly extracting his arm from hers. “It’s good to meet you, though.”

Vala laughs and John grins at her, and Cam has a moment of mental panic, because the thought of them becoming friends is, frankly, horrifying. But he shakes his head, because if they’re making each other laugh, then John isn’t pining for Atlantis and Vala isn’t worrying about Jackson. He can handle a little extra mischief in his life.

“Let’s get to know each other,” Vala chatters at John, linking her arm back through his and drawing him down the hall towards the elevators. She’ll head up to the mess hall, Cam knows, so he just smiles and waves when John tosses a slightly worried glance over his shoulder.

The smile slips from Cam’s face as they round the corner and Cam is left alone in Jackson’s office. He’s got a lot of thinking to do.

-0-

As it turns out, John fits in pretty well with SG-1, if only because they seem to be a pretty ragtag bunch of misfits anyway. He and Vala bond quickly, and Teal’c isn’t any less friendly towards him than he was to Cam in the beginning. Sam treats him pretty much the same way she treats Cam – another younger brother, someone she knows can take care of himself but watches out for anyway. There’s an added undercurrent of worry for John, Cam notices, in the way she glances at him when he’s not looking, like she’s afraid he’s going to suddenly remember that they’re not his team and this isn’t his planet, his galaxy, and everything’s going to turn sour. It never happens, though, and John slips into the team almost unnoticed, throwing himself into the hunt for Jackson and the Sangraal.

John certainly fits well enough into Cam’s life, at the very least. It’s easy enough to go from having John staying with him to having John living with him; it’s really just a matter of adding a few extra yogurt cups to the shopping list and remembering to do laundry twice as often. They co-exist well, Cam thinks on more than one occasion, even if it does seem like John’s not really planning on staying. His duffel stays at the end of the couch, mostly packed, though he sleeps most nights in Cam’s bed, curled into Cam’s body like it’s the only thing keeping him from drowning.

He shivers in his sleep, and though Cam’s asked him about a hundred times if he wants to put an extra blanket on the bed or put his clothing back on or something else, John always shakes his head and says he’s fine. Cam’s beginning to understand that it’s not the cold that’s making him shake, that it’s memory and nightmare working together to haunt him, that there’s pretty much nothing he can do to protect John from himself. He can only hold on and keep John from shaking apart at the seams, and even then, it seems like he’s not helping all that much.

Nine weeks after Cam came home to find John on his couch, John wakes with a bit-off cry in the middle of the night. Cam wakes instantly, too many years of sounds like that meaning someone’s attacking, and it only takes a moment for him to get his bearings and tear out of bed and into the bathroom, where John’s holding onto the edge of the sink, chest heaving like he’s struggling for breath.

“John,” Cam says quietly, not wanting to spook him further. He reaches out and puts his hand tentatively on John’s shoulder, making the touch more solid when John doesn’t flinch away. “Talk it out.”

“We lost him,” John says, voice haunted, staring into the mirror like it’s showing a movie only he can see. “I should have tried harder. He was right there, and he just ran away from me.” John’s head drops to his chest, and his voice goes quieter. “I could have gotten him, brought him back. Carson could have saved him.”

Cam’s read all of the Atlantis mission reports as well, so he knows about Ford. He knows about Ford and he knows John, knows that a hopeless situation only looks so from the outside, and he slips his arm around John’s shoulders, drawing him in until his head is resting on Cam’s shoulder. “Nothing you could have done, John.”

John remains silent, but his hands fist in the material of Cam’s shirt, holding tightly, and Cam has the fleeting thought that this is how John cries, holding on and shaking violently but not letting a tear fall. Cam presses a kiss to John’s forehead. “Tell me about him.”

John doesn’t say anything for a few long minutes, but then he opens his mouth and the words pour out, descriptions of the man and some of his jokes, stories of how he’d react on missions, his love for flying in the Jumpers with John, how excited he was when the Marines on KP discovered a hidden stash of potato flakes just in time for Thanksgiving. John paints a picture of Ford so vivid that Cam can almost see him in the room now, standing beside him and John, grinning beneath his cap, eyes laughing and a little mischievous.

“Sounds like the kind of kid who wouldn’t blame you for any of what happened,” Cam says when John falls silent against him.

“That almost makes it worse,” John replies tiredly, but he sounds like he’s gotten it out of his system, for now at least. “If he hated me for it, maybe I could hate myself a little less.”

The admission is staggering, and Cam feels the weight of the words settling around them in the small bathroom. Cam slides one hand from around John’s back to cup his face and looks directly into his eyes. “Don’t,” he says helplessly, but isn’t sure what he’s asking, exactly.

“Sorry,” John mumbles, closing his eyes and slumping down a little. “I’m sorry, Cam.”

Cam doesn’t know what to do, what to say, so he sighs and pulls John back into a tight embrace for a moment before leading him back into the bedroom and curling around him, hoping that the nightmares will let John sleep for a little while.

They don’t discuss it in the morning, but when Cam walks back into the bedroom after his shower, John’s duffel bag is sitting in the bottom of the closet, empty, and his clothes are hanging above it.




Part Two
 
 
stormylullabye: John Camstormylullabye on January 9th, 2011 06:30 am (UTC)
Yay it's done! And fabulous, I might add. :D

My only question... what color pony?
Ki: John/Cam heartsomehowunbroken on January 9th, 2011 06:32 am (UTC)
Cam had it wrong, actually. John wants The Horse Of A Different Color from The Wizard of Oz. :D
stormylullabye: John Camstormylullabye on January 9th, 2011 06:34 am (UTC)
I mean, really, who doesn't?
Ki: John/Cam splitsomehowunbroken on January 9th, 2011 06:43 am (UTC)
I actually want two.
Em: C/J: smilingbluflamingo on January 9th, 2011 07:52 pm (UTC)
I love this, thank you so much for writing it for me! (I read it this morning on my phone, and I'm re-reading it instead of going to the end to comment - bad Em!) I was so anxious when it seemed like they were going to end up apart! I really enjoyed Cam trying to make John feel better, and that Cam doesn't know if he is - it's unusual, I think, to see him being less certain about it. And John on SG1 is always awesome :)

Thank you so much for writing this for me!
Ki: John/Cam heartsomehowunbroken on January 9th, 2011 08:19 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much! I'm really glad you enjoyed it :) Losing Atlantis would be such a huge blow to John, and I feel like Cam wouldn't necessarily know if he was helping enough to make it better.

And I do love John in SG1 :)
fairjennet: human cloningfairjennet on June 7th, 2011 06:49 am (UTC)
Oh wow, this is excellent! You've got their voices down so well; I can just hear them in my head.
Kisomehowunbroken on June 7th, 2011 11:08 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much :)