Characters: John/Cam, David Parrish
Word Count: 3,162
Notes: For smlg29, who won me in the qldfloodauction and wanted John/Cam in Atlantis, some mission-gone-wrong whump, and a happy ending. I hope you like it, and thanks for helping out with such a worthy cause!
AR-2 is out on a mission, a normal, routine milk run to an allied planet, and Cam’s in bed, because the planet’s rotation doesn’t line up with that of New Lantea; in order to be there during the planet’s day, Lorne and his team have to leave around 2300 hours. John’s sort-of next to him, sort-of on top of him, and one of Cam’s arms is curled around his partner, the other resting on John’s hip. They’re both asleep, both resting after a long day, a long week of negotiations with the Genii and the Travellers. It’s well-earned rest, though, because they’ve settled things peacefully and more or less got what they wanted from both groups.
The beeping from the bedstand brings both men awake and alert instantly. It’s one of the radios, and Cam grabs for it and sticks it in his ear because he’s closer to the bedstand. “Mitchell,” he says, listens for a second, then puts the radio in John’s ear. “It’s for you.”
“Sheppard,” John says into the earpiece, and the ghost of a grin flicks across his face as Cam reaches for his own radio. “We were sleeping, Sergeant, don’t worry about it.”
Cam flicks his radio on in time to hear the rest of Chuck Campbell’s announcement. “-four hours, sir,” he says. “I know standard procedure is to wait six, but…”
“Nah, Chuck, that’s good thinking,” John says easily, projecting calm confidence that doesn’t show in his face. He’s slipping out of the bed even as he opens his mouth again. “I’m on my way down. Call Lieutenant Morrison, get AR-6 out of bed, I want to be out of here in twenty.”
“Yes, sir,” Campbell snaps of smartly, and the line goes dead.
They dress in silence, and less than three minutes after being woken from a sound sleep, they’re out the door. They step into the transporter, and Cam hovers his hand over the panel while he looks at John.
“Be careful,” Cam says; it’s a warning and a plea and a reminder, all in one, and John smiles a little again as he brushes their lips together.
“I will be,” John murmurs as the doors open, and then Colonel Sheppard jogs away from him, all business as he makes his way towards the armory. The transporter doors slide shut again and Cam taps the screen and steps out into the control room a moment later.
Cam’s leaning over the railing, hands clasped casually, as John heads out with his team and AR-6. “Let’s get a move on,” he hears John say as the wormhole snaps into existence, and John turns to toss him a smile over his shoulder before he steps through.
There’s a lot of tension surrounding a rescue mission, a lot of waiting, and one of the things he hates about being in charge is that he’s always left behind to deal with the frantic friends and sometimes lovers while his people are out there searching for the missing. It only adds to the tension that John’s the one out there, that Cam’s stuck here behind a desk thanks to a leg injury that just won’t heal right, no matter what the doctors and the Ancient tech try. It twists Cam’s stomach to know that John’s out there right now, as he’s trying to think of something to say to a nervous-looking Dr. Parrish, trying to be reassuring while he thinks of John getting shot at, John being taken captive, John being beaten to within an inch of his life…
“Colonel Mitchell?” Parrish says hesitantly, and Cam mentally brings himself back to his office and focuses on the other man’s face. He’s frowning a little in a way that looks more concerned than anything else. “I’m sure – Evan says that Colonel Sheppard is very good at what he does.”
And now here he is, supposed to be giving the civilians someone to look to for comforting bullshit, and he’s the one being comforted instead. He smiles a little ruefully and shakes his head. “That’s the war widow’s plight, Doc,” he says lightly. “Someone’s gotta stay behind and worry.”
Parrish gives him a wry smile in return. Yeah, he knows.
It’s a slow three hours before the wormhole begins to spin and Chuck jumps to his computer. “I’m reading Major Lorne’s IDC,” he reports, and Cam can feel Parrish’s relief, palpable in the air around them.
“Coming in hot,” Lorne’s voice crackles over the radio a second later, accompanied by the sounds of a truly spectacular firefight. “We’re gonna need a med team in the Gate room, we’ve got injured-“
A bright flash of white light pierces its way into the Gate room, and then some figures run through – too few, Cam notices immediately, far too few – and then there’s Lorne and McKay, guns still pointed back towards the Gate for a second, and then Ronon comes through with someone slung across his shoulder and Teyla close behind, and as soon as she clears the event horizon, Lorne’s yelling. “Shield, shield, shield-”
The shield crackles as unknown figures slam into the other side, fizzling a few times before the wormholes crackles out entirely.
And then Ronon’s laying John on a gurney and John’s not moving and there’s blood, a lot of blood, and Parrish’s hand is on his arm and he’s murmuring indistinct words to Cam as his stomach drops out.
Lorne comes up the stairs with Lieutenant Morrison, and they give a preliminary report as Cam tries to listen, something about ambush and capture and a fight. Parrish, oddly, stays right by his side, solid and quiet. Lorne reaches out to tangle his fingers with Parrish’s at one point, after he’s stopped talking, but he nods after a moment and he and Morrison leave.
“Let’s go talk to Dr. Keller,” Parrish says to him softly, and Cam nods and walks to the transporter with Parrish by his side. All he can think of is John on the gurney, pale and bloody with a gash in his side, but then Parrish steps into the transporter with him and taps on the screen and goes with him into the infirmary.
It’s chaos, is what it is; there are nurses running everywhere are Keller’s shouting inside the operating room. Cam can see Ronon and Teyla and McKay hanging anxiously to one side, staring into the operating room, and he heads over to them.
“What happened?” he asks Teyla, because McKay won’t be helpful and Ronon will give him details without telling him what he needs to know. Teyla glances up at him, and the look on her face isn’t good, not at all.
“Major Lorne and his team were pinned down by a group of mercenaries,” she says. “We located them and surrounded the group, but failed to notice that some of them were hiding in the treeline.” She shakes her head angrily, but Cam can see that it’s directed at herself for not seeing the danger. “They slipped in behind us during the fight, and one of them took John by surprise.” She presses her lips together, but doesn’t say anything else, and Cam’s read between enough lines in his life to know that the news isn’t good.
Parrish is a few feet away, talking quietly to a nurse, but he makes his way back to the group in time to hear the last of Teyla’s tale. “Marie says the Colonel’s in rough shape, but he should pull through without too much trouble,” he tells them. “Off the mission roster for at least a month, but once they get everything cleaned and stitched, he should be good.”
Cam’s not sure what to say, what to do, so he just nods. Parrish gives him a small smile, and Cam thinks for a dizzying moment of his mother and her friends gathering when he and Cole had been small, playing with the other kids on the base while the wives kept each other company, and he’s never felt like the war widow he’d joked about being before as much as he does in this moment. He’s never been as grateful to someone, either, as he is to Parrish, who leans back against the wall as Lorne makes his way to one of the nurses for his post-mission checkup. He looks okay, maybe a little scraped up, but otherwise fine.
“Not gonna go say hi?” Cam asks him, nodding in Lorne’s direction.
“He’s okay and I’ll see him later,” Parrish says evenly. “You, though, you’re about to fall apart.”
Cam opens his mouth to object, but he’d been woken after too few hours’ sleep on top of an extremely tiring week, and John’s in surgery, and yeah, maybe he’s a little less put-together than he should be. John’s been hurt before, has probably been hurt worse, but Cam’s never been this close to it, has read the reports with their official descriptions of John’s injuries but hasn’t really even pictured what he’s sure he’ll have nightmares about now, all that blood, sweet mother of mercy.
“Come on,” Parrish says, grabbing his arm just above the elbow and propelling him into one of the empty exam rooms nearby. He closes the curtain as he steers Cam onto the bed. “Sit,” he advises. “I’ll be back.”
Cam tries to get a grip on his mental state as Parrish vanishes through the curtain, but the man is back less than a minute later with a paper cup of water, which Cam takes gratefully.
“Thanks,” he says as Parrish settles into the chair in the small cubical. “I’m, um, I‘ll be fine. Go ahead.”
“We’re the war widows,” Parrish says with a funny lopsided kind of grin. “We can worry together.”
Cam gives him a small grin in return, all he can manage, and they sit in silence until they hear Keller coming out of the back room. She’s still dressed in her scrubs, and Cam tries not to remember that it’s john’s blood all over her as she makes her way to the knot of people waiting for news.
“He lost a lot of blood,” she says without preamble. “Someone got him in the side with a knife; there was a nine-inch gash that went pretty deep at some points. We’ve got him cleaned and stitched, and he’s out of surgery, but he’s not going to wake up for a while.” She glances around, and as her eyes settle on Cam’s face, she adds, “He will wake up, though. He’s going to be fine.”
“Can we see him?” McKay asks, face somewhere between anxious and relieved.
Keller hesitates. “One at a time,” she finally says, and McKay’s across the room in a heartbeat, slipping between the white curtains that surround a bed that Cam realizes must contain John.
He hangs back, lets the rest of the people in the group make their way in and out, until it’s just him and Lorne and Parish standing outside the curtains. Cam gestures to them, but Parrish shakes his head. “You’re staying?”
“Yeah,” Cam says, and Parrish nods as he laces his fingers with Lorne’s, just as they’d done in the control room earlier.
“We’ll be back,” Lorne tells him, and then they’re walking out of the infirmary. Cam watches them go before he takes a deep breath and ducks inside the curtains.
John always looks smaller when he sleeps, but he looks fragile, too, in the infirmary. There are tubes coming from him everywhere and he’s tucked into the bed. His bare shoulders peek from the top of the sheets, and Cam blinks at them before remembering that there’s a gash in John’s side, which means stitches and bandages to change and the less in the way, the better. He reaches out and tugs the sheets a little higher, over the skin of John’s shoulders, and lets his hand rest near John’s face for a few minutes.
Cam sighs and drags the chair to the side of the bed. He sticks his hand under the side of the sheets and finds John’s hand, and he wraps his fingers around John’s unresponsive ones and puts his head on the bed and closes his eyes.
Cam dreams in flashes of nightmare; John in a field with blood everywhere, miles of frozen ice, pain in his body, screams tearing from John’s throat. It’s not restful, and he keeps jerking awake and looking at John and it doesn’t get any better, because he’s still too pale and too quiet against the sheets.
Parrish walks in around hour fifteen of Cam’s vigil, and he drops a heavy hand on Cm’s shoulder and leaves it there until Cam looks up at him.
“I’ll stay,” he says quietly. “Go, get some food, take a shower. Crash for an hour. I’ll sit with him until you get back.”
Cam opens his mouth to argue, but he can’t remember the last time he ate and sleep in a bed might actually work, so he stands and claps Parrish on the shoulder as he leaves. The shower feels wonderful and he manages to choke down a sandwich, but every time he closes his eyes the nightmare is right there, waiting for him. He gives it up after tossing around for an hour and heads back to the infirmary.
Parrish is sitting in the chair beside John’s bed, reading glasses perched on the edge of his nose as he scans a datapad. He looks up when Cam comes back in, and doesn’t look surprised at all to see him.
“I didn’t figure you’d actually sleep,” he says. “It was worth a try, though.”
“I – thank you,” Cam says, rubbing his hand across his eyes. “Parrish-”
“David,” the man supplies.
“Thank you,” Cam repeats. “I’ll be fine. Go on home.”
David laughs. “I’ll just drag another chair in,” he says, and that’s precisely what he does as Cam collapse into the chair by John’s hand and threads their fingers together beneath the blankets. David sits down by the end of bed, near John’s feet, and settles the datapad across his lap again, scrolling through the information on there.
They sit in silence for a long time, until Cam can’t take the quiet humming of the machines and the quieter breathing from the bed. “How long have you and Lorne been together?”
David doesn’t look surprised by the question; he settles against the back of the chair and pushes his glasses up into his hair. “Six years,” he says. “We got together about three months after he got herein the second wave.”
“You’re first wave?” Cam doesn’t know why the news surprises him; most of those who survived the first year on Atlantis, back when they’d been cut off form Earth, have stuck around.
David nods. “Here since day one.”
“That’s a long time,” is the only thing Cam can think to say. David smiles.
“You and Colonel Sheppard?” he asks, and Cam feels a soft smile slip across his face as he squeezes John’s fingers beneath the blankets.
“Longer than I think is possible, sometimes,” Cam admits. “Eighteen years, give or take.”
David whistles. “Most of your adult life.”
Cam nods. They’re been together since their last year at the Academy, and they’d been sleeping with each other since about a month after they’d met three years before that. “The rest of my adult life, too,” he adds, mostly to himself, but David smiles like he understands.
“I hope I sound like that in ten years,” is all David says, and Cam smiles back at him and squeezes John’s hand again.
Cam freezes as John’s fingers twitch against his.
“John?” Cam’s attention is focused on his partner, lying in the bed, and he brings their joined hands out from beneath the blanket. “John, can you hear me? Open your eyes for me, darlin’, come on.”
He vaguely hears David slip out of the room and is thankful somewhere in his brain for the privacy. John’s fingers flutter against his again, and then his eyes blink open the tiniest fraction, and Cam feels like sagging into the bed in relief.
John’s mouth opens and his lips form Cam’s name, but no sound comes out. Cam grabs his hand tightly. “You’re fine,” he says. “Everyone else got back safely, and you’re on desk duty for a while, but you’re fine.”
John smiles and then Keller’s there, bustling in and taking readings and asking John questions that he’s slowly more and more able to answer as his voice comes back, as he wakes more, slips back into the land of the living. She finally tells them that she’s keeping him the rest of the day for observation, but as long as things go well, she’ll release him that night.
“How long have you been awake?” John asks him when Keller leaves. He’s propped up in the bed and his color’s back closer to healthy. “Tell me you haven’t been sitting here the entire time.”
“I haven’t been sitting here the entire time,” Cam says obediently, grinning as John swats him on the arm. “I haven’t, actually. David came to sit with you for a while last night while I grabbed a shower and some food and tried to nap.”
“David?” One of John’s eyebrows raises, and of course that’s when David sticks his head through the curtains.
“Glad to see you’re back with us, Colonel,” he says with a smile before he turns to Cam. “You want me to have Evan drop by?”
Cam shouldn’t be surprised that a first-wave guy knows about what needs to happen in the military chain of command after this, but for some reason he is. “Yeah, if you could. Thanks, David.”
David’s grin stays in place. “I told, you, we’re sticking together,” he says, and Cam grins at him as he slips back out of the room.
“Should I be worried?” John asks in the least-worried tone Cam’s ever heard. Cam just turns and smiles as he grabs John’s hand again.
“Not in the slightest,” he replies easily.
“Good,” John says seriously. “I’d hate to have to kill a civilian, and I doubt Lorne would stick around as my second if I killed his boyfriend.”
Cam can only laugh as John smiles at him, and he’s exhausted and hungry and the stress that’s knotted itself into his stomach has only just started to uncurl itself, but John’s awake and smiling back at him and he’s going to be fine. Lorne comes by and Cam and John get things adjusted, responsibilities shifted around. Cam spends most of the day sitting in the chair, right beside John’s bed, watching as his color slowly goes back to normal. True to her word, Keller releases him around 1800 hours, and they slowly make their way back to their quarters.
And that night, when they’re back in their bed, quiet and carefully curled into each other, Cam closes his eyes and the nightmares don’t come.