Pairing, rating: John Sheppard/Cam Mitchell, R for disturbing subject
Summary: Sometimes, Cam wishes he could lose himself for a while.
Warning: major character death. I really cannot recommend this story to anyone who might possibly be upset -- especially if you love the pairing.
Cam's got his head on straight. Considering what he does for a living, he's proud of that. Sometimes, though, he wishes he could lose himself for a while.
The bodies of the Atlantis personnel come through the gate at 15:45. They are carried on four jumpers that come through the gate one after another, each one bobbing for a second before announcing its arrival and rising awkwardly towards Lab 9. Cam's not involved with the business of carrying the dead from the jumpers to the makeshift morgue across the hall in Lab 12, but everyone knows what's happening. Every face is somber, every voice lowered, every footstep muffled. The SGC hasn't lost this many people at once in a while, and nearly half of the dead are civilians.
All SGC therapists and clergy with clearance are at the Mountain. Many will be bound for Atlantis when the jumpers travel back, along with more Marines and medical supplies.
Cam skips dinner and makes his way up to the morgue instead. He asks the solemn round-faced airman at the door, and is told that Colonel Sheppard is number 37.
The caskets are the sturdy plastic stackable kind, and are laid out in rows by nationality. Cam walks past German flags, French, Malaysian, and Nigerian before he gets to the Americans. He finds number 37 easily enough. It makes him think that John always said he didn't want to turn forty. And now he won't.
Cam flips the latches and opens the casket lid. The body bag gives him pause, but he's not going to John's funeral and he's sure as hell not going to put flowers on John's grave. This is all the goodbye he's going to have, so he pulls the zipper down as far as John's neck.
He's seen bodies ripped apart, and he's incredibly grateful that someone made John presentable. There are white bandages that probably cover cotton batting, but the effect is natural-looking. John looks like he's sleeping with the blankets over his head, just half his face showing. He looks really young, with his one eye shut and lashes dark against his cheek. Cam touches his cheek, firm and cold, and then ducks to press a kiss to John's mouth. John's lips are curling up in a barely-there smile, incidentally, but Cam remembers making John smile. He remembers John naked and laughing.
Cam's knees crack when he straightens up, and he looks around automatically to make sure he's still alone. His eyes are gritty from the dry, frigid air. He needs to leave. He hates leaving John, but he does, zipping him back up and latching the casket lid down.
He thinks, resting his palm over the ID window on the casket lid, that he doesn't even have a picture of John. He'll have to ask his mother, even though the thought of telling her why is terrible. When John went home with him in the summer, when they were playing touch football with the cousins, he thinks his mother might have taken out the old Kodak camera. It'd be good to have something to hold onto, when he remembers.
He passes Dex and McKay in the corridor. They walk too closely, like a defensive formation, and have their heads practically shaved. Almost all of the personnel from Pegasus do, Cam's heard.
"Mitchell," Dex says, but when Cam stops and turns, it's McKay who speaks.
"They're going to ask you to take over Sheppard's job," he says, blunt, staring at Cam a little too intently. He sounds like he's angry, but Cam knows John considered McKay his best friend. He doesn't know if McKay knows that he was sleeping with John. Cam can feel a headache coming on.
"Jesus," he says, then apologizes for swearing. McKay shakes his head a little, looking exhausted. "I don't. . . ."
McKay holds up a hand. "Atlantis would rather have you than Ellis. He doesn't understand us." He waves the subject away, letting his gaze slide away to land unfocussed on the far wall. "Are you coming to Sheppard's funeral? We are," and he indicates Dex with a backwards nod. "His brother's been remarkably sane, at least in e-mail. Of course, he's in agreement with John's wishes to keep everything quiet and get it over as soon as possible. Ronon's going to sing a song." McKay shoves his hands in his pockets. "A Satedan honor thing."
"He died well," Dex says, and Cam knows he flinches, he can't stop himself.
"I have to go," Cam says, and he knows he's being rude, but he just can't be around people right now.
He locks himself in his office and paces. The last morning he had with John, they woke up before the sun and had slow, lazy, messy sex. After, John sprawled out over Cam and kissed him with sated, smirking thoroughness while Cam slid his hands over warm skin, sweat-slick. They'd showered together, and then John returned to Pegasus. He was gone for seven months measured in twenty-five e-mails that said nothing incriminating.
That is all Cam has. He never learned half the things about John that he wanted to know, and he never said the sort of words that he wished John could have remembered as he died. He thinks about how John kissed, and how he kissed John, and he thinks that he loves John. He might even be in love with him. The thought is as heavy as he suspected it would be, but it's not unbearable. He wonders what's wrong with him that he can live with this. He wishes he knew whether John had ever loved him back.