Word count: 1873
Spoilers: Major spoilers for SGA 5x20 Enemy At The Gate; none for SG1
Summary: They can't do this here, but they have to do it somewhere.
There are plenty of people waiting for John when he finally bows to the inevitable – and the Daedalus’ beaming technology – and goes back to the SGC. Carter, apparently channeling Landry, takes the opportunity to tell him exactly how much he shouldn’t have done that, though Davies seems pretty glad to see him in one piece. There are people who want to tell him about Atlantis’ trip, and people who want to shake his hand because he’s one of the people who just saved Earth from the Wraith, and people who don’t seem to have any reason for being there at all but are.
And, right at the back, there is Cam Mitchell.
John fights his way through the crowds, promises Carter he’ll come back for debrief after he’s had a cup of coffee or twelve, and pitches up in front of Cam. “You’re back,” he says. Cam’s got the beginnings of a black eye and he’s pale, obviously worn out, just back from the mission that kept him from joining the failed 302 attack with John.
“You’re an idiot,” Cam says. John’s used to hearing it from Rodney when he’s done something dangerous, but Cam sounds genuinely angry. Or maybe genuinely upset.
“I had to,” John says. “And, hey, I’m still in one piece.”
“Not for lack of trying,” Cam says. Yeah, genuinely upset. Fuck. They’ve been friends for so long, John forgets sometimes that Cam’s not actually around to watch him risk his life for his city. “What were you thinking?”
“That if someone didn’t do something the Wraith were going to make it to Earth and suck the life out of everyone here who I care about?” John snaps back. Okay, maybe Cam’s not the only one who’s upset or angry or – something. Something that they shouldn’t be letting out in the middle of the SGC, where there’s always someone watching.
“It didn’t have to be you,” Cam says. His face twists, like he’s just realized how dumb that is. “I don’t want –“
“What?” John asks stupidly.
“To come home and find out you blew yourself up,” Cam finishes, low and way too intense. He just looks at John for a moment, then turns and stalks off down the corridor.
Maybe John’s missed a little more than he always figured.
John spends the next week out on Atlantis – in the middle of San Francisco bay, like he needed his life to get any weirder. The IOA come to them, for once, which really just means that John gets to look at the pretty walls of his city rather than the concrete of the SGC while he’s zoning out in meetings. On the other hand, it does give him an excuse to disappear into the city when he’s had enough, checking up on the teams working on repairing the damage from their brush with re-entry – and, God, when he finds out who let Carson fly the place with Lorne *right there* he’s going to do something regrettable – and checking in on Zelenka and Rodney, who are arguing over whether they need one more week or two to get the city ready to fly back.
No-one mentions the way the IOA have yet to actually agree to letting them take the city home. John knows they will – they have to, Atlantis belongs in Pegasus, belongs *to* Pegasus. For everything John owes that galaxy, he can’t take this away from them.
O’Neill gets it, he knows, and O’Neill has the ear of the president. They’ll be going home, eventually.
It doesn’t stop him worrying, though, for which he’s almost grateful, because it means he’s not thinking about Cam. About the spark that was there the first time they met, that never really went away and never really got a chance to be anything else either. Apparently, things have changed while John’s been in another galaxy.
It goes on like that for ten days, and then O’Neill decides to come deliver the smackdown to the IOA in person. Woolsey doesn’t put it quite like that when he announces that O’Neill, Carter and Landry will be dropping in that afternoon for a meeting, but John’s been working with Woolsey for a year, and near O’Neill for five, he can read between the lines.
Teyla’s bright and energized when they file out of the conference room. Rodney and Zelenka are even deeper into a conversation comprised mainly of numbers than they were before, and Ronon’s smiling faintly. Even Lorne looks relaxed and relieved.
“How long, do you think?” he asks, heading back to their offices with John.
“Week?” John guesses. “The IOA will need to make a stand for their way of doing things for a while before they cave.”
“Yes, sir,” Lorne says, grinning at him. John can’t help grinning back – he was maybe more worried than he was telling himself, given how relieved he feels now.
“Not thinking of sticking around on Earth?” he asks Lorne.
“Trying to get rid of me, sir?” Lorne asks dryly.
“Wash your mouth out,” John tells him. He’s not sure what comes over him, but he finds himself saying, “I don’t know what we’d do without you,” not quite light enough to be a joke.
“Disappear under your own weight in paperwork within a week,” Lorne comes back immediately, but he’s still smiling, so John knows he got the praise under the joke.
“On second thoughts…” he says, and Lorne waves a hand in what could – very charitably – be called a salute and heads left towards his own office.
John misses O’Neill and the others beaming in, in the paperwork zone, but three different people tell him on his way up to the conference room that Jackson’s decided to take the chance to visit, again. John curses the fact that Jackson picked up the gene from an Ancient repository, and so can’t have all the doors locked against him, and dispatches a couple of marines to act as tour guides slash guards, depending on the situation.
The meeting goes pretty much as John was expecting: the IOA delegates explain with a lot of words why Atlantis has to stay on Earth and Woolsey argues with twice as many words why it has to go back to Pegasus. Rodney points out the benefits to science of being in another galaxy, Teyla very calmly points out that her people are in that galaxy and currently stranded on the mainland without a gate, John and Lorne switch off between the duty they have to the rest of the people of Pegasus and the possibilities for finding advanced weaponry, and Ronon glares, the way he does with people who don’t know him well enough not to be fooled by it. The IOA reiterates all the reasons why they can’t take the city, Rodney points out that actually they have the power to do just that if they like, Carter mediates, and then O’Neill gets fed up with the whole thing and announces that Atlantis will be leaving in five days, by order of the president.
John just can’t figure out how that takes two and a half hours, when they all knew what the outcome would be before the coffee was even poured.
He doesn’t even care about the two and a half hours of mind-numbing boredom that he’s never getting back, because they’re going home. He’s not quite whistling as he heads down to the military area to start spreading the word to his guys, but he’s maybe walking with a bit more of a bounce in his step than he usually manages.
It doesn’t do him any good when he turns a corner and walks straight into someone coming the other way.
The other guy catches his elbow, keeps him upright, even brushes off the front of his jacket. John gets his feet back under him and takes a step back, only to find himself looking right at Cam.
“What are you doing here?”
Cam shrugs. He’s making a good faith effort at relaxed, but he just hits slightly awkward instead. John knows exactly how he feels, even if he’s not the one who gave away way too much in the middle of the SGC. “Came along to keep Jackson out of trouble.”
“Is that even possible?” John asks, instead of asking where Jackson is. He’s already had his guards on the radio to tell him they lost him, then found him, then lost him again.
Cam shrugs again. “Probably not.” He pauses, like he’s psyching himself up, then says, “Listen, I –“
John cuts him off. They can’t do that here. “We just got word from O’Neill – Atlantis is going back to Pegasus in five days.”
Cam’s smile is painful. “That’s great. I’m pleased for you.”
“Thanks.” Can’t do that here, but even John, who’ll admit to anyone that he’s not great with people, knows they have to do it before he leaves, if he wants any kind of friendship with Cam to be left. Which he does, badly. “Come out here with me.”
He leads Cam onto a balcony, relieved to find they’re on the wrong side of the city to see the Bridge. Everyone congregates there, taking in the new perspective on an old view. Cam leans against the balcony rail, looking out to sea, too tense for the casual pose he’s adopting. John leans next to him, looking in to the walls of Atlantis. “I’m sorry I worried you,” he says, figuring he might as well at least start with something neutral. Maybe they can avoid the big stuff altogether.
Cam shakes his head. “You were just doing what you thought you had to.”
“Yeah.” John reaches out, rests one hand carefully on Cam’s shoulder. Cam shudders. “I’m still sorry.”
“John…” Cam reaches up to rest his hand on John’s, not quite holding on. “John.” He turns suddenly to face John, still loosely holding John’s hand. He’s still got the last traces of the black eye, and he looks exhausted, worried and sad, and John’s never been good at watching his friends hurt. At least this time he knows what to do, wants to do it, even knowing it’ll probably make everything worse.
“Cam,” he says softly. He slides his free hand round the back of Cam’s neck, and breathes, and leans closer. Cam gasps, and then his mouth is against John’s, warm and soft.
John closes his eyes.
They kiss slowly, almost chaste, a bare touch of John’s tongue against Cam’s. Cam’s hand on John’s tightens, his arm going round John’s shoulders, dragging him closer, till they’re pressed up against each other, still kissing. It’s not like any kiss John’s ever had before, like saying goodbye before they’ve even had a chance to say hello properly.
Cam pulls back just far enough to break the kiss and rests his forehead against John’s. When John blinks his eyes open, Cam has his closed. He looks worse than he did before.
John wraps his arms round Cam, holds onto him, feeling the breeze kick up against the bare skin of his fore-arms, not enough salt to feel like home, and thinks, Ask me to stay. Ask me for you, and I’ll say yes.