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Fic: Almost Free (Mitchell/Sheppard, NC-17)

Title: Almost Free
Author: race_the_ace
Recipient: somehowunbroken
Pairing: John Sheppard/Cameron Mitchell
Rating: NC-17
Disclaimer: I don't own Stargate Atlantis/SG1 or any of its characters or plots. I mean no infringement, this is for personal benefit only. Also, some lines are taken directly from SGA S4E03 and SG1 S9E01. Those are not mine.
Summary: John Sheppard was almost free. But everyone knows, almost doesn't count.
Word count: 6,941
Beta: ninja007
Warnings: Slash abounds. Also, abuse of canon. AU (like really, really AU). Spoilers for... pretty much all of Atlantis, but especially Remnants. Rimming.
Author's Notes: I had the honor of writing Cam/John for a very prolific Cam/John writer. I can only hope it lives up to the standard she set for that pairing. Merry Christmas!
Author's Notes 2: So I had a lot of help with many of the smaller details of this fic. SG1 is not my main fandom, so I had a bunch of questions that several lovely people were willing to answer. If you're reading this, I think you know who you are, thank you so much for listening to my inane questions and for answering them. You all were so helpful and amazing.

*****

Cam stepped through the Stargate, and like every other time he'd been in the same room as John Sheppard, their eyes met instantly. That warm feeling he felt whenever he was around John, seeped into his body again. He brushed his thumb against the ring sitting heavily on his ring finger. There was a matching one on John's hand, and Cam could see it glinting in the artificial light of Atlantis.

"Welcome home," John said quietly, a small smile dancing across his lips; an even bigger smile was dancing in his eyes. He reached out for one of Cam's bags and Cam automatically handed it to him.

"Don't let Momma hear you call it that," Cam warned, with a smile of his own. But they both knew that home wasn't the City.

A moment later, Carter stepped through behind Cam, a huge smile on her face. John stepped back from Cam and offered her a salute, one which she returned easily.

"Colonel Carter," John said. "Welcome to Atlantis."

"Thank you," she answered. "It's nice to be here."

Cam was vaguely aware of Sam talking in the background to everyone who was gathered in the gate room, but he only had eyes for John. He hadn't seen John in seven months, nine days, eleven hours and fourteen minutes.

After a few minutes, people started moving, and the gate room began to empty and Cam was left standing there staring at John, which was really alright with him, except that John had never really like public displays of affection, and Cam was sure that he was about five seconds away from one.

"Your room?" He asked John, quietly so as not to be overheard.

John nodded and led Cam away from the Stargate towards a hallway. Cam always forgot how quiet John was. He'd known him for years, loved him for years, but still he always expected John to talk more.

After a short trip in an elevator like thing, although Cam didn't feel them move at all, they reached another hallway lined with silver doors. "Does the whole City look like this?" He asked.

John laughed softly. "You get used to it." He waved his hand over the controls to the side of the door and it slid open.

"Do I get a map, too?"

"The Newbie Map," John confirmed, as they stepped inside and the door closed behind them. "But try to memorize it as soon as possible."

"Got it," Cam said, dropping his bag at his feet. "Now will you kiss me?"

*****

As the cadet across from him smiled in his direction again, Cam blushed and ducked his head. It was a new kid that had shown up at The Academy about a month ago. Whenever Cam looked at him, his heart started beating faster, and his chest felt tight in a way it hadn't since he'd dated Amy Vandenberg in tenth grade.

The new kid was quiet, smart, and dedicated from what Cam could tell. More than once their eyes had met, and Cam wondered if he felt anything like what Cam did.

"Hey."

Cam looked up and the other guy was standing right in front of him, hands shoved in his pockets, leaning down towards Cam.

"I'm John," the guy said. He slowly pulled his hand out of his pocket and held it out in Cam's direction. "John Sheppard."

"Cam," he answered, taking John's hand. "Cam Mitchell."

John's hand was warm in his and Cam finally knew what it was like to get lost in someone's eyes as he stared at John. John had unbelievably beautiful eyes--a greenish sort of hazel. Eventually John looked away and pulled his hand back, leaving Cam feeling cold and empty.

Cam had never believed in love at first sight, although his momma swore by it--that's how her and Cam's dad met, but he had always thought that a romanticized tale of her past. But standing here now, with John, Cam was starting to believe it as the minutes ticked by.

John was quiet. He didn't say anything as Cam continued to stare at him. But eventually Cam remembered his manners and invited John to sit. John did, and thus began the rest of Cameron Mitchell's life.

**

Cam had known John for two months when Christmas arrived. He could tell by the way John's shoulders were hunched, and how he shied away from any talk of the holidays that John had nowhere to go. So Cam wrote to his momma, told her all about John and then began to figure out the best way to convince John to go with him.

It turned out that the direct route worked best.

"John?"

"Hmm?" John looked up from the book he was reading. John was always reading in his spare time.

"Want to come home with me for Christmas?"

"Sure," John answered, and then went back to his book.

And that had been that.

Cam's momma wrote back ordering Cam to bring John along, and Cam grinned, pleased that he had anticipated his mother's request.

**

Cam's mom put them both in Cam's old room and Cam looked at the double bed and then at John. The tips of John's ears were pink with embarrassment, but John kicked his bag into the corner of Cam's room and plopped down on the bed, exhausted as it was close to midnight. Cam kicked off his shoes and didn't miss the way that John scooted over for him.

Cam had never really done this with a guy before, and Amy Vandenberg seemed so long ago that Cam was sure he'd forgotten all of the right things to do, if he had ever known them. But John didn't seem to care about any of that. He turned on his side and waited while Cam turned on his side, facing away from John. John moved up behind him and tossed an arm around Cam's waist, and that was that.

A few minutes later, John's breathing evened out, indicating that he'd fallen asleep. Cam wished it were as easy as John made it look. Everywhere that John touched him was afire. And the heavy arm thrown so casually over his body, was weighted with some emotion that Cam couldn't describe.

He knew one thing, though--he liked this. He liked being pressed up against John. He liked feeling John's breath on the back of his neck.

He and John had never really discussed whatever was happening between them. Cam, because he could never find the words, and John, because he didn't seem phased by it at all. But as the weeks passed, he wanted more than just John's company, more than just his smiles, and his deep-knowing looks.

Cam wanted to stay awake a little bit longer and memorize the feeling of John's body against his own, but sleep called, and he found himself drifting off.

**

Cam woke up alone and for those first few seconds, wondered if he had dreamed it all, but John's bag was still in the corner, and there was a dent in the pillow where John's head had lain. So Cam stumbled out of bed, grabbed some clothes and his shower kit, and headed into the bathroom. John had to be around somewhere.

Twenty minutes later, Cam was dressed and headed downstairs to where he was sure he smelt bacon cooking. He blinked twice at the sight before him in the kitchen. His momma was sitting at the table drinking coffee while John moved around making breakfast. And not only that, but Wendy was laughing--at something John had said. Cam's normally reticent friend was joking with his mother and making breakfast. Before today, Cam could have swore that John didn't even know how to boil water.

"Cameron!" His mother called to him. "Come sit! John is making the most delicious smelling breakfast." She patted the chair next to her and Cam went and sat down obediently. His eyes followed John, while he remembered what it was like to have the other man pressed up against him. John's eyes found his for a second, and a smile teased at John's lips, before he turned away again.

**

Christmas morning was still and quiet. Outside there was snow everywhere, and a light mist covering the vast fields. Last night John had admitted that this was his first white Christmas, so they had sat by the fire place, drank hot cocoa, and Cam was laying down with his head on John's lap, while they watched the snow fall outside.

Later that night, many of Cam's extended family would crowd into the Mitchell house and there would be a huge feast and lots of pie. But right now there was just him, John, and his parents.

Cam turned over and looked at John and was startled to find John looking back at him, eyes shining in the soft light of dawn. Cam licked his lips, and snuggled further under the warm blankets.

"It's Christmas," Cam said.

John nodded hesitantly, unsure of why Cam chose to declare the day.

"I want my present early."

John furrowed his brow and then shrugged. "Okay." He started to get up but Cam reached a hand out to still him.

Cam smiled shyly. "It's Christmas, John. Now will you kiss me?"

John stared for a moment, and there was a second where Cam wondered if he had read it all wrong. If John didn't want him like that after all. But then John slowly tilted his head towards Cam's, and their lips touched, ever so slightly.

*****

Cam loved Atlantis. The City was huge, and just waiting to be explored. When he'd arrived, Sam had given him the option of joining a gate team, or staying on as the main City-team lead. Cam had chosen to stay. Not only had he had his fill of unfriendly races to last a life time, but he was getting tired of always running for his life. He wanted a little downtime, and Atlantis seemed perfect for that.

So about three days a week he would grab Zelenka and two Marines and head into the City's unused portions. Most of the City had been given a cursory look-through. John had said it was to make sure there were no hibernating Wraith, people in status pods, or any other catastrophes waiting to happen. Cam had gathered from the mission reports that Atlantis held a lot more secrets than most cities did.

The rest of his time was spent with John. John was busy, there was no doubt about that. And he was in demand a lot, and Cam had to learn to share John for the first time in his life. It was hard, but he was determined, and the smile that John always gave him went a long way to help with that.

At night, though, when he had John all to himself, Cam couldn't help but think that he had pieces of John now. Whereas John used to be whole, now he was broken. Cam knew what had broken him. John had told him about being held prisoner by Kolya, and about killing Sumner, and about killing over sixty Genii in one day. John had told him when he'd been stuck on Earth, kicked out of Atlantis by the Alterrans, or Ancients as John called them.

So many things haunted John at night now. So many things kept him awake. Cam had seen terrible things happen in his time as well, but nothing seemed to affect him as much as it all had for John. On John's first night on Earth, he'd showed up at Cam's doorstep, dripping wet from the rain outside. And when Cam had let him in, John had just collapsed into his arms, and Cam spent the night with John crying softly into his chest, brokenly telling Cam everything story by story.

Things were a little better now, but John was still as broken. He still clung to Cam at night, and sometimes he would just bury his face into Cam's chest and hold on tightly, as if he was afraid that Cam would leave him. But Cam had already decided that he wasn't leaving John again, not for anything.

One of the best things about Atlantis, though, other than John, was the fact that everyone in the City loved John so much. Everyone knew that he and John were living together, but no one ever said anything. Well, Ronon had slapped him on the back (hard) and mentioned something about knowing 213 ways to kill a man with just one knife. Cam was pretty sure he was joking.

"Stop thinking," John mumbled as he shifted a little, moving even closer to Cam.

"Hey, you. I thought you were asleep," Cam whispered. He reached a hand out to run his fingers through John's hair.

"Bad dream," John said, his lips gently tickled Cam's chest as he spoke.

"Wanna talk about it?" Cam offered, running a hand up and down John's side.

"It's just Kolya."

Kolya, Cam knew, was the most frequent visitor in John's nightmares. He'd long suspected that there was more to what happened with him than John had told him, but Cam had never asked, and John had never said more on it. Cam knew there were times he had wished that Kolya wasn't dead, if only so Cam could kill the bastard himself.

Cam kissed the top of John's spiky hair. "You can still talk about it."

John didn't answer, and Cam didn't really expect him to. Instead, warm lips kissed Cam's chest, and John said, "I'm really glad you're here, Cam. I've missed you."

"Ditto," Cam said. "I love you, John."

John made a noise of agreement and Cam smiled, because from John that was an 'I love you' back.

*****

They stayed in contact, over the years. Cam never really fell out of love with John Sheppard, and he never really moved on either. There hadn't been any promises between him and John, no words were exchanged, no vows of love until death do them part, but none of that mattered to Cam. John was it for him, and that was that.

If Cam was lucky, he saw John about once a year. If Cam was really lucky, he saw John twice a year. He did everything in his power to get leave when John had his. It was difficult, and he couldn't always manage it, and sometimes it was just for a day, but it was always worth it.

It was Christmas again, the easiest time for them to get leave at the same time, and John was meeting him at the Mitchell house in Kansas. If Cam were counting, and he assured everyone he wasn't while silently keeping track, he'd been in love with John for almost twelve years.

There was a hesitant knock on the door and Cam sprang up from his seat to answer it. When he opened it, he found John shivering on the doorstep in a thin sweatshirt and military issued cargo pants. There was a haunted expression on his face, and cast on his arm, and he looked like he might come unraveled at any moment.

Cam ushered him in and swept him upstairs, ignoring his inquisitive family. When they got to 'their' room, John's bag hit the ground and John sat heavily onto the bed. He reached down in a feeble attempt to untie his shoes, but Cam could see that his hands were shaking, and not just from the cold. So Cam kneeled in front of him and gently pushed John's hands away. John just watched as Cam carefully untied John's shoes, and pulled them off. When he finished he leaned in towards John, between his legs, and looked up into John's face.

John gave him a small, tired smile and reached out towards Cam's face. Cam closed his eyes as John's shaky fingers traced his features. "Please be real, Cameron," he whispered.

Cam's eyes flew open at the moniker. John never called him by his full name, not once in the dozen or so years that they'd known each other. He reached up and clasped John's hand between his own. "I'm real, John. I promise."

John let out a sob of relief as he seemed to sink in on himself. Cam stood up and kicked off his own shoes, before tugging John down onto the bed with him. John curled up on his side, facing the wall, and Cam curled up around him.

There was a soft knock on the door. "Yeah?" Cam asked.

"Is everything alright, dear?" Wendy asked through the wood.

"Yeah, mom," Cam answered. "John's just not feeling so great, so we're gonna take a nap."

The door opened and Cam shifted a little to look over his shoulder. There was a look of concern on Wendy's face as she studied them. "Is he hot at all, Cameron?"

Cam lifted his hand up to John's forehead and lightly touched it with the back of his hand. Cam frowned. "I'm not sure, but he feels a bit warm, I think."

John weakly swatted at Cam's hand, but Cam left it there, trying to gauge John's temperature.

"M'fine," John said. "Just need some sleep."

Wendy walked closer to them and pulled a blanket from the foot of the bed and tucked it around them. "I'll come get you when dinner's ready," she said.

"Thanks, Momma," Cam said.

She turned off the light and left, shutting the door behind her. Cam turned his attention back to John. He kissed the nape of John's neck, before settling in. He wasn't tired, but he wasn't about to pass up time spent with John because of that.

John quickly fell asleep and Cam laid there with him, keeping watch over John's dreams.

**

John slept through dinner and breakfast, and Cam wondered how much of it was exhaustion and how much was jet lag. He wasn't even sure where John was currently posted, as John had taken a black ops posting a while back. Not that Cam was supposed to know that either.

When John finally did wake up, he wanted a shower. Cam watched as John carefully taped a plastic bag like thing over his cast, fumbling with it every once in a while. From the looks of things, and the stark whiteness of the cast, it was a recent injury. Finally, after John dropped the tape dispenser for the third time, Cam rolled his eyes and took over.

"When did you get this?" He asked, taping the bag around John's arm.

"The cast?" John asked tiredly. "Or the broken arm?"

Cam startled. "There's a difference?"

John nodded. "My chopper went down about a month ago. I was... it took them a while to find me."

"You were MIA?" Cam gaped.

"Yeah."

"I..." Cam collapsed onto the bed. "Jesus, John. You could have died, and I would never have known."

John shook his head. "You would have known. I have an attorney that I contact every three months. If he doesn't hear from me, he knows to find you."

"An attorney?" Cam frowned, then shook his head. "And that's beside the point, John! You could have died, you idiot!"

"Cam--"

"No," Cam said, cutting him off. "Don't 'Cam' me. I know you think you're replaceable, John, but you're not. Why do you have to keep taking these postings?! You think I don't worry about you every single day?"

"I never asked you to worry," John said defensively. "I'm a big boy, Cam. I can take care of myself."

Cam stood up to face John. "You can, but you don't! You never have, John! And I worry because I love you! Is that so hard to understand?"

John's expression went blank and he stared at Cam and didn't say a word. The minutes ticked by and still, John was silent. Cam's admission hung between them, so thick that Cam could practically feel the words. He'd never said them to John, and John had never said them back. Mostly they were implied--much like their relationship.

Finally John moved. His eyes met Cam's. They were heavy with sorrow and filled with distress. "No one's ever said that to me before."

"That you make them worry?" Cam asked gently.

"No," John answered. He looked away. "That they love me."

*****

"So they took some of your blood... made this gene therapy... and then they inject me with it?" Cam asked. He swung his legs a little as he sat on the gurney. John stood nearby, looking as uncomfortable as he usually did. He occasionally gave Cam's leg a pat.

"Something like that," John supplied.

"So they'll always be a piece of you with me?" Cam grinned.

John rolled his eyes. "With you, with Rodney, with Kusanagi..."

"I always forget how romantic you are," Cam said. He bumped shoulders with John.

"Alright," Carson said, walking over to them. He had a small box in his hands that he set down on the medical tray near Cam. "Ready for this, Colonel?"

Cam nodded. "Yup. And you'll be able to tell right away?"

"We like to give it about a day to kick in, but generally it's worked right away, yes," Carson answered. "I'm sure Colonel Sheppard will take you to Rodney's lab and you can try something out there."

It took less than five minutes for the whole thing to be over and finished with. Cam left the infirmary with a Superman bandage that John had procured from one of his pockets. It was the coolest thing ever, and Cam loved the little things that John did for him.

"Rodney's lab or jumper bay?" John asked, as they neared the transporter.

Cam grinned. "Jumper bay."

Puddle-jumpers were the whole reason Cam was getting the gene therapy. John had been so excited to take him up in one and they were both hoping that Cam would be able to fly one himself.

Cam let out a whoop of joy as the jumper lit up as soon as he stepped in it. John stopped at the threshold and Cam took the pilot's seat. The controls came online and Cam turned in his seat to grin at John. John smiled back and stepped in, closing the door and then taking the co-pilot's seat.

"Control, this is Sheppard. Colonel Mitchell and I are taking Jumper Four for a couple of hours. It's already been approved by Colonel Carter."

"Copy that, Colonel Sheppard," Chuck replied. "Have fun, and congratulations, Colonel Mitchell."

"Thank you, Chuck," Cam said loudly.

"Sheppard out." John turned to him and said, "Take her up gently, and she'll do the rest."

"It reads my mind!" Cam exclaimed.

John laughed softly. "Yeah, it's pretty cool like that."

**

John was quiet. Well, John was always quiet, but tonight he was even more quiet. Something had happened to John while he was on the mainland with the astro-biologists. Cam had been with Ronon for most of the day, hearing stories of Woolsey talking to himself and of an entire race locked away in a large capsule.

John stood, half-dressed, staring out of their window and Cam came up behind him and wormed his arms around John's waist. He settled his chin on John's shoulder and waited.

It took a while, but eventually John said, "It said I tortured myself every day."

"It?" Cam questioned softly.

"The AI attached to the capsule thing from the bottom of the ocean."

"I hadn't realized you saw it," Cam remarked.

"On the mainland. It created a... distraction for me. It seemed to think that as the military leader I was the biggest threat to it, so it created an artificial simulation just for me."

"Was I in it?" Cam asked. He pressed a kiss to the side of John's neck.

"It wasn't really that kind of simulation," John answered quietly. "I spent most of my time going back and forth between thinking Parrish was dead and Lorne was going to kill me, or that Kolya was going to kill me and it didn't really matter either way."

"Kolya?"

"Apparently my mind felt like manifesting my darkest fears," John muttered. "And apparently those fears include Kolya invading Atlantis and..." He drifted off and held up his hand. Cam reached out with a hand of his own and threaded their fingers together.

"And what?" Cam prompted.

"And him cutting off my hand."

"It made you think your hand had been cut off?"

"Yeah," John answered softly.

Cam raised their joined hands to his lips and pressed a soft kiss to John's knuckles. "He'd dead, John. He can't hurt you anymore."

John exhaled. "But he can. He does. I'm still afraid of him, Cam."

"Don't let a dead man haunt your life," Cam said gently. "Every single person on this base would put themselves between you and Kolya if he reappeared tomorrow. Don't ever doubt that, John. We all love you. I love you. And I would fight your battles with you if you would let me."

"You still owe me one, you know," John said. He turned in Cam's arms and the haunted look from earlier was replaced with a slight amount of mirth.

Cam smiled. "I did say it would take the rest of my life to pay you back..."

John nodded and leaned in. He gave Cam a short kiss, and then another, and another. "Bed," John breathed.

"Yes," Cam agreed. "Good idea."

*****

In the Spring of 2003, Cam was reassigned to Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He wasn't sure what was happening at Cheyenne Mountain that required clearance higher than the sun, and more confidentiality agreements than Cam had ever thought existed.

John was on another secret assignment, but he now made it a point to check in with Cam at least once a month. Sometimes Cam could guilt him into more than once a month, and he felt simultaneously bad and good about that.

Cut Cam will always remember that Spring as the Spring everything changed. He learned that aliens exist on other planets and in space ships, and that the United States government had known for years. And then Cam met with General O'Neill and was being briefed on the F-302, a ship that could go out of the atmosphere. A spaceship. Then O'Neill was asking if Cam would like to learn how to fly one, and was there really any other answer other than yes?

By Fall he was teaching other recruits how to fly them. His new callsign became Notes, based on a combination of Professor and his old callsign Shaft. PS was too awkward to say, so they took to Notes, because all good notes have a post script. Cam liked it, and John was amused. He said Shaft was a much better callsign, mainly because he thought it humorous to suck Shaft's shaft.

Cam had retorted that at least it was better than Einstein, which is what John's squadron had called him, after they found him doing sudoku in his spare time.

**

"How's it going?" Cam asked in to the phone. He was working on a flight rotation schedule for tomorrow, and had to make time to receive some zat training, because General Landry, who was there more than O'Neill, was making noises about Cam maybe going off-world.

"Fine," John answered.

Talking to John on the phone was frustrating at the best of times. While getting John to a phone was half the battle, the other half was getting him to talk.

"Nothing new happening? No more near death experiences?"

John was ominously silent for just a beat too long. "No."

"John," Cam groaned. "You're really going to be the death of me."

"I'll try not to be," John promised.

"You know my momma would kill me if I came home this Christmas without you."

"I'll try not to let that happen either."

Cam sighed, and couldn't help but smile. "So how is it where you are?"

There was a slight pause before John answered, "Cold."

"Yeah? I can send you some jackets or something... gloves, if they'll let me."

"It's, uh..." Cam pictured John scratching the back of his neck as he always did when he got nervous. "It's pretty classified, Cam."

"Is there somewhere non-classified that I could send it, and it would get to you?"

"I'm not sure," John admitted. "I would have to see."

"Check and then get back to me, okay?"

"Yeah."

"John."

"I'll get back to you," John promised. "I, uh..." Cam heard him talking to someone in the background before John came back on. "Shit, Cam, I have to go. I'm sorry."

"Nothing to be sorry about," Cam said. "I love you."

John gave a noise of agreement and then hung up. Cam smiled as he replaced the phone on its cradle. John had never said the words, and Cam was almost sure he never would. Even hearing them was hard for John, although that didn't stop Cam from saying it at every opportunity. But John would make a little noise, and when Cam could see him he would have a small smile, and Cam knew that John loved him in return.

**

"Alright, boys and girls--listen up," Cam ordered. "Got a change of plans. New orders from General Hammond. We are no longer going after Anubis' mothership. SG-1 is on its way to Antarctica in a cargo ship."

"SG1?" Banks asked.

Cam nodded. "They think they may have found the lost city of the Ancients."

"In Antarctica?" Reverend said doubtfully.

"It doesn't matter where they are, or what it is they're doing--it's SG-1 and we're gonna cover their asses. ETA is nine minutes; expect the enemy to throw everything they have at us. Alright, saddle up, folks."

Cam turned around to finish getting ready when he comes face to face with John. John Sheppard. His John Sheppard. His John Sheppard decked out in a flight suit, looking for all the world like he's about to go up in an F-302 with Cam.

John had the smile on his face that he always did when he saw Cam for the first time in a while. "Good luck out there."

Cam blinked, his mind momentarily going blank. "What?"

"Death gliders can be tricky to go up against," John said.

Cam frowned. "Why are you dressed like that?"

John shrugged. "It's what the Air Force tells me to wear when I'm flying one of their planes."

"Flying one of their planes," Cam absently repeated. "Oh, yeah, oka--What the hell? Flying one of their planes?! You don't mean..."

John nodded in confirmation. "I guess we'll get to fly together after all."

"You haven't been trained in them!"

"Got my certification a few months ago."

"But..." Cam gaped. "I thought everyone in the Stargate program came through Cheyenne Mountain."

"I've been in Antarctica," John informed him. "Cam, we really don't have time to talk about this right now."

"You're right, we don't," Cam said. "You're staying."

"What?!" An angry expression fell over John's face.

"I outrank you, John. And this is my squadron. You're staying."

"First of all: my orders come from the President, Cam. You don't outrank him."

"This is dangerous, John!" Cam interrupted. "You have no idea what you're getting into! I'm not letting you go out there and get yourself killed."

"Second of all: you're not the only one here in charge of a squadron, Cam. My guys are in the next hanger bay. I heard you were here and stopped by to say good luck, and maybe steal your speech about covering asses."

"How long have you known about the Stargate program?" Cam demanded.

"Cam," John said quietly. "We don't have time for this."

Cam swallowed. "I know. I know. I just... John..."

John reached an arm out and gently touched Cam's shoulder before letting it fall. "I'll see you when this is over." He gave Cam one last look and then started to walk away.

Cam reached out and snagged the arm of John's flight suit, halting him. "I love you."

John quirked a smile and nodded and Cam was too far away to hear the noise of agreement that he's sure that John made.

**

"Bandit on our six," Cam said. "I can't shake him!"

Just as Cam was sure he was done for, the glider behind him exploded and an F-306 pulled up next to him. He could barely make out the pilot waving as he heard over his radio, "Told you they could be tricky. Stay sharp, Notes."

Cam let out a shaky laugh. "Thanks, Shep. I owe you one."

"Me, too, Einstein," Banks put in. "Thanks, sir."

"You're welcome."

**

Cam slowly kissed his way up John's back, trying to kiss the skin above each vertebrae. John was placid below him, melting under Cam's ministrations. Cam knew John's body better than his own, but every time John came back to him, there was a new scar, or a new bruise, or a new something that Cam had to learn all over again.

It was the day after the battle against Anubis' forces. Cam and John had spent most of the day writing up reports and drafting letters to family members of those in their squadrons that weren't as lucky as they were. Tomorrow John was heading back to Antarctica where he had told Cam he was working with the not-quite-yet Atlantis expedition. Cam would be staying at the SGC. But this time he wasn't letting John go without a promise of weekly calls and daily e-mails.

Cam kissed the back of John's neck when he reached it, and John sighed happily.

"God, John," Cam breathed. "I've missed you."

"Missed you, too," John said softly. "Missed you so much, Cam."

Cam sucked at the skin on the back of John's neck. "I want you, John. Every inch of you." With that he slowly licked his way down John's back, tongue caressing each spot that his lips had just touched. John shivered beneath him.

"Please, Cam," John whimpered.

Cam gently bit one of John's ass cheeks. "Hand me a pillow, would you, John?"

John passed him down a pillow and Cam slid it under John's hips, raising them off of the bed slightly. Cam lowered his mouth to the top of the crease between John's cheeks. He swiped his tongue at it and John's breath hitched. Cam gently pulled the two mounds apart. His tongue slid down John's crack and John let out a deep moan. He wet John's crack with his tongue, gently licking at it as he worked his way down.

When his tongue found John's entrance, Cam pushed the tip of his tongue in, ever so slightly.

"Cam, fuck," John swore.

Cam speared the tip of his tongue to push it into John a little further. He took his time, licking at John's entrance, slipping his tongue in every now and then. When John had relaxed enough, Cam slowly pushed his tongue in as far as he could manage. John yelled his name again and Cam reached down to squeeze his cock in an effort to not come right on the spot. He loved rimming John. The first time he had done it, he had come almost as soon as his tongue was in John. It had been embarrassing at first, but John had never made it a big deal.

With a couple more licks, Cam pulled back. He was panting hard and John was shaking below him. Cam reached under John's body and gently squeezed John's balls. John let out a moan and slid lube back towards him.

"Turn over," Cam requested. He leaned back onto his knees and began to lube himself up. John turned over and pulled his knees up to his chest, exposing his spit-slick hole to Cam. Cam took a deep breath to still himself before setting the lube aside. John hated to be fingered after being rimmed, so he just leaned down over John, lining himself up.

John looked up at him, green eyes shining in the light. He made the noise, the little noise that meant so much to Cam. Cam's face softened, "I love you, too, John."

John was tight as Cam pushed in, which was simultaneously the upside and the downside to spending so much time apart. Cam moved slowly and John didn't bother to hide the small grimace of pain that Cam knew he was feeling. Cam cooed a little, which he knew John didn't care for, but he couldn't stop doing it, until finally he sunk all of the way in. Once there, John's legs fells from Cam's shoulders to around his waist, and Cam took a moment to situate them both.

Then John made a different noise, but not one Cam didn't know, and Cam grinned. He slowly pulled out before slamming back in. He set a fast pace, because he knew that neither he nor John was going to last much longer, nor did he really have the energy to draw it out. There would be morning sex tomorrow at a slower pace, Cam knew, so he felt fine pushing the limits tonight.

John grunted into Cam's ear as Cam let his head hang down next to John's. "God, Cam, just... c'mon already!"

"Anyone ever tell you you're a pushy bottom, Sheppard?" Cam grinned.

John flicked one of Cam's nipples. "Fuck off, Mitchell," he said with a laugh.

"How about I just fuck you instead?" Cam bargained. He thrust into John. Hard.

"You do owe me," John mused, as his body jerked.

"Yeah, fuck, John," Cam swore. His vision went white for a second right before his body shook and he came, deep inside John.

Cam was coherent enough to wrap his hand around John's cock and jerk him off while he came down from his high. John moaned and then came all over his stomach and Cam's hand.

Cam collapsed on top of John, and pulled out, but didn't move. John wrapped his arms around Cam's back, holding him close. Cam tucked his head against John's neck and breathed deeply. "I miss you so much when you're gone."

"Yeah."

"Half the time I'm so scared you're going to find someone else and I'll just be this footnote in your life; the guy you slept with on and off for fourteen years," Cam confessed.

John shifted and Cam took the opportunity to grab a tissue from the side table. He wiped them both down while John just stared at him.

"Is that really what you think you are to me?" John asked quietly. "Just someone I fuck on the side when I'm on leave?"

"No, John," Cam protested. "I know you love me, I just... shit..." He sighed. "It's just hard being away from you so much. We've never promised each other anything, never even really acknowledged that we... that we had something to acknowledge."

"We do, Cameron," John said seriously. "We have something. And maybe it's not what everybody else has, but it's ours, okay? It's ours."

Cam kissed him softly. "I love you, John."

He watched as John swallowed and opened his mouth, a pained look on his face. "I-I... I..." John looked away. "Shit."

"Hey," Cam said gently. He reached over and turned John's head until they were facing each other again. "It's okay that you can't say it, John. I don't need the words. I've never needed the words. I've just needed you."

"I'm sorry," John whispered.

"Don't be," Cam answered. "Don't ever be." He paused. "And, John?"

"Hmm?"

"Seriously. Thank you for saving my life. I really do owe you one."

"I'll just take it out in trade," John said. He rubbed a thumb over Cam's left nipple.

"It could take a while to pay that back in trade," Cam warned.

"I've got time."

"A long time," Cam insisted. "Possibly a lifetime."

"I could go for that."

**

A week after John left, a small package arrived for Cam. Inside was a single piece of paper and a small box. Cam had never been a patient gift-receiver and he opened the box first. A smooth gold rind stared back up at him. Cam scrambled for the letter.

Cam,

I promise to always be faithful. To never take you for granted. And to eat as much pie as your mother gives me. I promise to remember that while you come first for me, part of putting you first is making sure I'm around to do that. I promise to always be there for you. I promise to cherish you above all others. And I promise to be careful with your heart, and to not abuse the love you give me.

Yours,
John


Cam grinned and slid the ring on his finger. He's pretty sure he just married John.

*****

John woke up breathless, images of Kolya standing over him with a knife, interspersed with images of him being too late and Cam's ship going down into the bright white of Antarctica were floating through his mind. He reached out and Cam was right there, tucked safely against John's side. The gold band on his Cam's hand was barely visible but when John reached out, he traced it easily with his fingers.

"Mmm, John..." Cam murmured, sleep evident in his voice. "You 'k?"

"Yeah."

"Bad dream?" Cam asked. He snuggled further into John's embrace. "Wanna talk?"

Cam always offered, but John rarely took him up on it, especially in the middle of the night. "It's nothing, Cam, I just..."

"Yeah?"

"I love you."

*****
Tags: genre: slash, pairing: mitchell/sheppard
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