21 DaysAuthor: the_minx_17Beta/Pre-reader(s): leela_cat
and stageiraFandom: Pairing:
SGA/SG1: Sheppard/Mitchell + passing mention of canon pairingsRating:
~ 6,000Highlight for Warnings and Spoiler Information:
*D/s dynamics, mild kink, possible spoilers for all of SGA
Not mine…I just play with them and make them happier for it. Well, I at least make me happier for it. Excerpt: Cam knows that for all that John hates to talk, once he gets started, once the first crack in the dam is made, it trickles out of him in fits and spurts until he gets to the real issue and then the floodgates break open. 21 Days
Earth is safe. His team is alive. Atlantis is battered and bruised but floating invisibly in the Bay. So, maybe, with Rodney wrapped around Keller and Ronon making eyes at a Marine, John can finally schedule in the breakdown that's been over two years in the making.
He believes Carter is a sure bet to approve a few days leave and, for reasons unknown even to him, John thinks Vegas would be a good place to get lost right now. Maybe take a few turns at the tables, hit a few of the raunchier clubs, and then pay someone safe to take his brain offline for a while. As far as plans go it's one of his most thought out in over five years. That's got to count for something.
He tosses out a snarky goodbye, muttering something about couples and how, really, as the odd man out he's gonna take his vacation elsewhere, and then 'gates to Stargate Command, purposely not thinking about the fact that his team, his team
didn't even pick-up on the fact that the smile he'd given them was just as bogus as the "fact" that the moon's made of cheese.
John smiles a real smile, one that even reaches the edges of his eyes, when Carter silently adjusts his leave from three days to three weeks before scrawling her signature at the bottom. He quickly makes his way topside, debating between a quick flight and a long drive and hoping he can get out of the mountain before Carter or Atlantis or, God forbid, Landry has a chance to call him back.
"Where we goin', Sheppard?"
John curses and blames his wandering thoughts along with the achy need stirring in his belly for not noticing his company sooner. He should have expected it; Cam always manages to snag leave when John comes to Earth. Arching a brow, he drawls, "Didn't know you were invited, Mitchell."
Cam's gaze, hidden behind silver aviator glasses, weighs heavy in the air. "I know what you need, John, and," he holds up his hand to stop John's retort. "And, just as important, I've got the clearance."
John has no rebuttal for that. The fact is, Cam's right. He knows what John needs because Cam himself has needed it before. It's the nature of the job. And John knows that Cam can and will take him into a headspace that's deep enough to forget Atlantis and the wraith and just how fucking close this last mission came to being the end.
End of Earth. End of Ronon and Rodney and Teyla. End of John. Just the-fucking-end
John nods and accepts and, even though the trip is no longer necessary, he whispers, "Vegas. I want to go to Vegas."
"Let's go then." Cam opens the door to the cab and motions John in. "A fast car, an open road and the radio…" He stops talking and looks toward John, assessing him again. "And a few hotels along the way."___________________________
John is on the verge of growling at the rental car guy or maybe he even does because Cam pushes the keys at him and jerks his head to the door. "Go throw our stuff in the trunk. We can hit the road as soon as I get our copy of the paperwork."
By the time Cam walks out the sky is pitched with the dusky hues of early twilight. The car is packed and John, eyes closed and breathing slow and even, is slouched in the driver's seat.
Cam slides into the passenger's seat, saying, "I'm thinking we get a little distance in tonight. Maybe round the Grand Junction area."
John sighs and, blinking his eyes open, turns the key. "Thank God you didn't want to wait 'til morning."
The ride is quiet, absolute silence held at bay only by the strains of old country music seeping out of the speakers: Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Loretta Lynn, and the like. With every mile put between them and Colorado Springs tension drains from John's shoulders. John knows that Cam is watching, waiting for the perfect moment because as soon as he relaxes enough for the slouch to become real, Cam starts looking for a hotel.
"This one will do."
It's not a true dive but it isn't a five-star either. There's a restaurant with a bar and a pool shimmering in the moonlight. Cam signs them in while John parks the car and grabs the overnight bag from the trunk.
Their room is on the ground floor, a corner room right next to an outside entrance. John snorts when he sees the location. Apparently having an escape route is still second nature for Cam. He wonders if it was their time in Afghanistan or if going through the 'gate that has hammered such instincts into them both.
"Hungry?" Cam asks.
John rolls his shoulders and prowls the room. Maybe they stopped too soon after all. "I could eat. Maybe." He pauses at the window and peers around the edge of the curtain. "Think that restaurant does to-go orders?"
"We'll see." Cam reaches for the phone and soon starts asking questions and ordering food.
John pushes Cam's voice to the background. He turns on the television, flips through the channels without really seeing anything, and finally tosses the remote to the bed and goes back to pacing.
"It'll be ready in about fifteen minutes. Why don't you grab a quick shower?"
"Look," John starts, shaking his head. "We should eat and then, if you're tired, you can sleep in the car while I…"
Cam's voice brooks no argument. It's the same tone Cam used before, back when the Ancients reclaimed Atlantis and sent them all packing back to Earth. John isn't even slightly interested in arguing. "Shower. Right."
The water beats down on John's shoulders, hot to the point of scalding and yet barely stinging enough to chase the invading memories away. He grunts when Cam knocks to say he's off to get the takeout, determined to simply stand there and use up every drop of hot water in the hotel. Maybe it'll take long enough that Cam won't make him talk tonight.
No such luck, he realizes as he steps out of the steamy bathroom with his skin tinged a soft pink and his hair sticking up every which-a-way. "Subs?"
Cam smirks and crunches into a chip. "Figured you'd be in there a while so I got something that would keep."
John huffs a laugh and, pulling the towel tighter around his waist, sits at the table. "Turkey?"
He hums his appreciation and bites into the sandwich. Breakfast was a long time ago and he just might be hungrier than he'd thought. Besides, if his mouth is full even Cam won't expect him to be chatty.
Pushing away from the table, Cam stretches into a stand. He gathers his shaving kit and the small overnight bag. "If you finish before I'm done…" and he points to a pillow on the floor beside the bed furthest from the door.
John's heart stutters and he almost chokes before nodding his understanding. Cam is definitely going to make him talk tonight and John doesn't know if he's thankful or extremely put out by that fact.
"And, John," Cam calls from the bath, "lose the towel before I get back."
There is nothing to be said because Cam's using that tone again.
John cleans his plate just as he hears the shower come on. He doesn't know if it's because he's learned to eat on the run and he wolfed his food down too quickly or if it's because Cam is being purposely slow getting ready for bed. John settles on a combination of both, leaning more to Cam giving him time to get his head around taking that first step, the one that will give silent consent for Cam to assume control.
Staring unseeingly at the plate, John asks himself if he really wants to do this now, to start this tonight. The easy answer is no. Getting drunk and then getting laid has worked for the past five years, and John is damned tempted to go that route again. Except he remembers how, standing on the balcony of Atlantis, the people he's closest to – Rodney and Ronon and Teyla – didn't realize everything about him was hidden by a façade and that tells him better than anything just how long he's been hiding it all away.
He can do this now, slowly over the next three weeks with Cam, a man he trusts implicitly, or he can keep pushing and one day, in the not too distant future, he will snap completely and get someone killed. Probability says it would be Rodney or Teyla or Ronon, most likely all three, with him when he snaps. And that prods him into standing up and, leaving the towel in the chair, walking over to kneel on the pillow.
The longer he kneels, the more he fidgets, and the louder the voices in his head manage to get…I'm sorry, John… Come in, Atlantis… Tell 'em I said goodbye… Ronon's dead… You have to do it now, John… I said goodbye…
… until John squeezes his eyes shut and shakes his head to shut them out. He turns his attention to the sounds coming from the bathroom and, focusing on each noise separately, imagines that he is tracking Cam's every movement. Finally he hears the knob twisting and Cam stepping back into the room and John is no longer alone with his thoughts.
He sighs with heartfelt relief.
John resists the urge to look up when Cam starts moving around him, doing things like pushing the bedspread to the floor, snatching the pillows from the other bed, and adjusting the air conditioner to drop the temperature in the room by another few degrees. If he is doing this – and he evidently is
– then he'll do it right, get the most bang for his buck because he knows that half-assing now won't help him a damn bit in the long run. He waits with his body still and his eyes cast to the floor until Cam runs a hand over his head.
"Come 'ere, John."
Biting back the words bubbling up, John pushes off his knees, off the floor, crawls across the bed and settles into the vee of Cam's legs, pressing his back against Cam's chest until he can feel Cam's heartbeat along his spine.
He wants to sigh, to burrow even closer as Cam's hands rove over his body – chest and thighs and finally his arms – but he doesn't, he holds a piece of himself stiff and apart and that… that
is another reason why he knows he needs this to begin tonight. If Cam backs down at all, three weeks will not be long enough.
Cam circles John's wrists with his fingers and then, moving faster than John expects, he wraps his arms and legs around John and catches him in a most effective form of bondage, a living, breathing bondage that grows tighter with each of John's struggles.
"Easy, John. Just breathe."
John stills with his body tilted forward, pushing against the arms wrapped around his chest.
"That's it." Cam keeps his voice low with a steady rhythm. "I'm strong enough for the both of us right now and you know it. You just have to give it to me."
John forces himself back into the embrace until he is once again pressed against Cam's chest.
"There you go," Cam whispers, flexing his arms and legs around John and talking soft, like he's coaxing a spooked horse closer. "There you go."
They sit like that, quiet and close, until John's breathing steadies out and the tight line of John's back ripples into his normal slouch, until he is open and accepting.
"Talk to me."
John closes his eyes and sighs. "About what? I wouldn't even know where to start."
"Beginning, middle, end." Cam brushes a chaste kiss against John's neck. "Up to you."
Almost ten minutes pass while John fights to pull the words out. Talking has never been his best form of communication. When he opens his mouth, planning to start with Todd's contact, he blurts, "Ronon died on the hive."
Cam squeezes John tight, one quick reassuring motion and then relaxes again.
"He shouldn't have even been in this galaxy. His home… his life…"
Cam waits and then, when John stays silent, adds "His home has been Atlantis for the past five years."
John shakes his head. "Still…"
"Still? His choice, John," and Cam moves his mouth closer to John's ear, "his
choice was to come here and fight. And," Cam points out the obvious, "you keep forgetting the fact that no matter what happened, he is alive now."
John stiffens again but doesn't try to pull away. "But, he died
. For seven years he was a runner and managed to stay alive. Then he follows me here and dies
"He followed the wraith."
John huffs a sound of annoyance and irritation. "Who are awake because of me."
Cam stays quiet, and the silence gives John time to think, to find the words for the real issue.
"They shouldn't have been there." John drops his head back against Cam's shoulder, defeat oozing from every pore. His next words are so soft Cam has to struggle to hear them. "I had it covered. He didn't need to die."
"If they hadn't been there, John, you would have died. And there isn't a wraith out there that could bring you back from ground zero of a nuke blast." Cam nuzzles John's neck and then asks, "Would that have been better?"
"Yes!" John fairly shouts the answer and then immediately says, "No," and then, finally, "I don't know." A tremor flits through his body and again he says, "I don't know."
Cam tightens his grip again. "Yeah, well, I do and the answer is no. No way in hell would that have been better."___________________________
"We wouldn't have known about the super hive if it wasn't for Todd."
John is in the same position he was in last night: wrapped-up in Cam's arms and legs talking about things that he'd promised to take to his grave. How much of girl does it make him that he feels safe and protected and a little relieved to be here, to be doing this? Not that he's ever going to admit that
John snorts and shakes his head, knowing Cam will not share his amusement with the answer. "My friend, the wraith."
"I don't know how else to describe him. And, really, friend is better than brother." John closes his eyes and readies himself for the conversation. To mention Todd requires the whole story, all the way back to the Genii cell and their ridiculous escape plan. He knew it with his first sentence.
"Brother?" Cam's grip fails for a minute. Just long enough, John thinks, for him to process the words. And then it's back, holding John even tighter. "Explain, John."
John starts talking, working his way through the capture and the demands and the feedings. He includes everything he left out of the official reports. Things like how he talked to his neighboring prisoner, formed a bond of sorts, the promise of freedom if they worked together to escape.
He talks about shouting out the order for Elizabeth to not
meet the demands and then praying that she would ignore him and do it anyway. And then how the guilt over that prayer started eating away at him, pushing him into a place he hadn't been since the first few weeks on Atlantis.
He tells Cam about the feedings and how the pain was worse than almost anything he's ever felt before. And how, at the end, when Todd drained so much of him in an attempt to regenerate for battle, he felt real terror. "One of the few times in my life I was truly afraid."
"How close were you?" John ignores the question until Cam growls, "How close to dead, John?"
"Close enough to welcome it."
John doesn't have any more to say. Cam summed it up perfectly, in his opinion.___________________________
"So…" Cam looks up as John stuffs his hands into his pockets. "We've been at this for six days now?"
"Yeah, something like that."
"Plans for today?" John bounces, rolling to the balls of his feet and then back down, and all Cam can picture is a mass of energy just begging for an outlet.
"Well, with the weather…" Cam cants his head at the windows and lets the rain speak for him.
"Yeah, figures I'd be here on the one day it rains in Vegas." John frowns and then huffs a loud sigh. "Come on, Cam. There can't be that much to read in there. You finished the sports page hours
ago, what else is in there?"
"You know you sound like a five-year-old, right?"
John pouts and pleads with his eyes.
"Oh, for the love of… come on then." Cam pushes the paper to the side and stands, nodding towards the bedroom and hiding his smirk behind his coffee cup.
"We're not gonna talk, are we? Because, really, I've talked about more stuff in the past five days than the last five years combined. Heightmeyer would've been impressed." John frowns and pins Cam with a glare. "If we're just gonna keep talking, I'm going back to my original plan."
Cam arches a brow and waits until John is in the bedroom. He drops his voice and says, "Seems to me you're forgetting something, John."
" Hot arousal flashes in John's eyes and Cam knows John hasn't forgotten going to his knees and accepting Cam's offer. "Not forgetting."
If anything, Cam raises his brow even higher. "Really? Because we've been here before, remember?"
They share a look between them, both remembering the weeks when the expedition had been banished from Atlantis and how John spent every minute away from work with Cam, most of it miles beyond proper and legal as defined by military regs. All of it with Cam focused on bringing John back from the edge that losing Atlantis had pushed him to.
"Yeah, we have," John answers quietly.
Cam stands back, wholly unimpressed by John's outburst, and waits because this… this is when John rebels. Making John ask for anything personal, anything private has proven to be harder than getting the man to talk.
John releases a shaky breath and says, "Ask for it, right?"
"Tell me what you want." Cam holds his standoffish position, leaving this decision, much like the choice to accept their arrangement, completely up to John. "And then tell me what you need."
"Wants and needs, wants and needs," John growls under his breath as he glares at Cam. "What if they're the same thing?"
"Sometimes they are." Cam rolls an easy shrug. "Most times they're not."
"I want…" John's jaw clenches. "I want to forget, even if it's just for a little while."
"And you need?"
John's hands flex – in and out, in and out – balling into knuckle-white fists and, as his voice rises on each word, John steps into Cam's personal space. "Goddamnit, Cam! You've talked me raw and I don't want
to talk anymore, I just need to feel." And, just as quickly as his temper flared, Cam watches it fade away. John's face flushes, embarrassment or arousal, Cam doesn't know, and he says, "I just need to feel something… something real and tangible. Something that is good, and clean."
"Score one for the flyboy," Cam murmurs, reaching out and dragging John through the last few inches separating them.
Cam's mouth closes over John's, swallowing the beginnings of a smirk, and pushes, moving them across the floor until John's back is against the wall, and Cam's body is holding him place while he thrusts his tongue deep into John's mouth like a silent promise of what is to come.
John groans and arches against Cam and, in reward for figuring out, for giving in and asking, Cam gives over and, for all of a minute, he lets John take the lead. Cam breaks the kiss and, with a small grin, lands a stinging slap on John's thigh. "Strip and on the bed."
The weight of John's stare tracks Cam around the room, watching as Cam pulls the bedspread down, rearranges the pillows, and drags a small black bag from the depths of his suitcase.
"Lose your hearing somewhere along the way?"
With the comment, John starts stripping, leaving his clothes in a neat pile on the dresser before he climbs into the center of the bed. "Uh, no?"
Cam's lips quirk up and he shakes his head. "On your back, John. Get comfortable, you're gonna be there for a while."
Quietly, John slides onto his back, bending his knees and wiggling over the sheets until he just stops and relaxes into the mattress.
Cam watches from the foot of the bed, his shirt lost somewhere in the room, his feet bare and flexing into the thick carpet, and his jeans riding low enough on his hips to reveal that he's going commando. His lips quirk again, because, really, John Sheppard squirming around like a snake is almost cute. "All comfy now?"
John gives him the
look, the one thing that tells Cam that he knows he's being teased and it really isn't that funny, but John nods his head anyway. "Yeah. You?"
"Will be," Cam replies, climbing onto the foot of the bed and crawling to kneel in the space between John's thighs, nestling his denim clad legs under John's naked, opened ones. Pushing, he exposes John completely, then he smirks and upends the bag on John's stomach. "Will be rather soon, at that."
The assortment of leather has John craning his neck, eyes skirting over each piece. Cam can see the flickers of emotion that each one brings a different flicker of emotion: arousal, want, disbelief.
"Trying to kill me here?" John asks.
Ignoring the question, Cam focuses instead on the leather cuffs and securing John's arms above his head, twining the rope through the cuff's silver d-rings and up, and around, the headboard. He rubs his hands over John's arms and looks down, eyes roving over John and the way he is bent damned near double beneath him. "Okay?"
"Ye… yeah." John licks his lips, his eyes glassy and blown.
Cam gives himself to reading John's body language, understanding the small flashes that breach John's usual barriers. Anticipation and need and, if Cam didn't know better, he'd say something damn close to love. He brushes a kiss against John's mouth, tender and revealing, then sits back. "Stop word?"
"Wraith," Cam mimics, blunt nails dragging over John's chest, tangling and tugging the dark hair. "And slow down?"
John arches into the touch, pulling against the rope holding his arms. "Hive."
Cam shakes his head. "Predictable."
The self-deprecating smirk lasts only seconds. "Only to you, it seems."
The words are too close to the truth for Cam to blithely dismiss. Instead he kisses John, deep and possessing and, Jesus
, when had they tipped from skirting past the emotions to drowning in things that neither of them would… could say?
He pushes at the thoughts, banishes them for later dissection and turns his attention back to John. "Ready?"
John nods and then Cam slips the blindfold into place. "Just let go, John. I'll be here."
And then Cam starts touching – the scratch of calloused hands over arms and legs and chest, everywhere but John's cock… and the wet heat of Cam's tongue following the same path, soothing and arousing at the same time… and then, once Cam has mapped John's entire body, he leans forward, pushing John's knees against his chest, and starts again, only this time he nips and bites and sucks until red and purple marks blossom over the most sensitive areas.
He works slowly and methodically and in a pattern that only he can discern until John is babbling, until the tight seal of John's lips opens and he begs with more
and, the truly telling, please
Cam works his own zipper down and pushes the heavy denim over his hips with one hand as the other concentrates on the lube and sinking his fingers into John's ass. Even as his teeth tear open the condom wrapper, Cam keeps one hand on John, fingers delving deeper inside, working to keep John blissed 'til they can be replaced something thicker and hotter.
John arches and cries out as the blunt head of Cam's cock presses into him, a steady cadence that takes him deeper with each shallow thrust, stopping only once he is balls deep and there is no way to tell where one ends and the other begins.
And Cam knows that John has finally reached the place where nothing exists but Cam's touch – surrounding him inside and out – and all he can do is feel
Cam traces indistinct, wandering patterns over John's arms and waits for the words to start. And they will start because he knows that for all that John hates to talk, once he gets started, once the first crack in the dam is made, it trickles out of him in fits and spurts until he gets to the real issue and then the floodgates break open.
They're not there yet but they are gaining on it.
"Pegasus galaxy is one seriously fucked up place."
Cam's lips curve against John's shoulder. "From the mission reports, I'd have to agree."
"Well, yeah," John snorts and then pitches his voice into a cheesy car salesman tone, "Vacation in Pegasus galaxy. Home to both life sucking space vampires and
iratus bugs. It's an adventure of a lifetime."
"Your sales pitch needs some work, flyboy."
"Not really." The teasing tone is replaced by an open seriousness John rarely shows. "All it would take is meeting the people there and everyone would be sold."
Cam presses a kiss against John's back. "You miss them."
"I respect them," John corrects with a cant of his head. "They get up every day and, despite the constant fear, they live
. Maybe it's because of the fact that any day could be their last. Either way, you've got to respect it."
"I don't doubt that respect is something you have for them. But," and Cam wraps his hands around the leather bands surrounding John's wrists, "it's okay to admit that you miss people too, John."
John stares at Cam's hands and softly says, "Yeah, I know all about missing someone."___________________________
John wakes up with Cam draped along his back, his breath skating steadily across John's neck. Working on autopilot, John fingers the cuffs on his wrist: first the left and then the right. Checking, he supposes, to make sure they are still snug against his skin. They've been there for thirteen days, only coming off for showers and then going right back on. The cuffs are a nonsensical form of reassurance, but one easily reenacted with a nondescript black band that no one in the real
world, in their Air Force world, ever questions. They're also one that Cam holds back until John gives more than just words to his submission, something to be earned and all more special for it.
"Ready to tell me what's really got you so cranked?"
"Huh." John grunts. "Didn't know you were awake."
"Wasn't until you started thinking so hard."
John gets a minute's grace and then, when he doesn't respond, Cam prods with a gentle, "John…"
Like so many other things Cam does for John, the cuffs are two fold. Along with the submission, they represent a silent promise between the two of them. Cam takes them back just before John leaves but makes sure John knows they'll be there when he returns; they promise John a place to come back to, a home. Except now John truly understands the meaning of home
and he knows, no matter how much he'd like it to be, he will never equate home with a person. He loops his fingers through one of the d-rings and whispers, "I don't know."
"Our leave is up soon." It's a small reminder that it's time to stop dodging the hard one.
John closes his eyes and starts moving away from Cam. "Don't remind me."
Cam shifts, putting more of his weight into holding John in place. "Talk to me, trust me."
John sinks further into the mattress, silently, shamelessly begging Cam for more. Finally, with Cam damn near covering him, he says, "Have you ever felt like you're in the wrong place."
John sighs and, knowing he's going to have to just blurt it out, he tenses. "That's how Atlantis feels."
"Atlantis?" Cam's confusion is evident in his voice.
"Yeah, Atlantis. Everyone thinks that we brought her home when we came back this time." John shakes his head. "But we didn't. She belongs in Pegasus."
Cam lets the words sink in, clearly pondering everything they've talked about until the dots connect and he knows where this is leading. "And you belong on Atlantis."
"Sometimes I wish that we could just blend the two together."
Cam pulls the car off the road and twists to look at John. "Huh?"
"The two people that we are around each other, Mitchell and Sheppard versus Cam and John. Ever think about what it would be like if we could just be us, all the time?" John blushes and drops his head. "Never mind. Forget I said anything."
"Oh, I don't think so," Cam growls. He checks over his shoulder and guns the engine, pulling back into the flow of interstate traffic and then promptly takes the next exit into the middle of nowhere.
He turns onto the first dirt road and slams to a stop. "Would you want it?"
"No, John." Cam's hand darts out and captures John's wrist. "Would you want it? Are you willing to work for it?" Cam jerks until John is only inches away. "Are you ready to tell your friends and family, tell McKay and Keller, Ronon and Teyla? Can you tell them so that we'd have back-up and protection?"
John's eyes narrow and he stares, assessing the situation, and Cam's reaction carefully. "You… you've thought about this before."
"Thought about it?" Cam drops John's wrist and lets his head thump back against the car seat. "Hell, John, how do you think I manage pulling leave whenever you do? Sure as hell isn't because of my pretty smile."
"Yeah, Sam. Right along with the rest of my team." Cam closes his eyes and sighs. "I've thought about it, okay. I've thought about it because you… it… us. It's worth thinking about."
Cam turns the key, and the engine purrs to life. "How about you just let me know after you
think about it."
John is silent until they are back on the interstate. "Yeah. To your questions, I mean… the answer is yes."___________________________
It's a struggle for John not to fidget as each chevron engages. Atlantis. He's going home. Even if she is still floating invisibly in the waters of Earth.
"Oh, good. I was hoping to catch you before you left." Carter's voice comes from behind John.
John sighs and turns away from the 'gate, forcing a look of playful begging onto his face. "Come on, Mom. I just want to go to Atlantis. I finished all my homework. Promise."
Carter chuckles and shakes her head. "Look, I just wanted to tell you that the IOA has agreed that the expedition needs a military leader. We all argued that you…"
"No, no, no. Please no. Do you know how much paperwork…"
Carter holds up a hand, and John falls silent. "That's what Jack said you'd say. We found someone else to accept the position."
John's gut clenches. He'd been able to work with Carter but, for him, it was more her off-world experience than the military that facilitated the relationship. "Who?"
"I've got orders not to say. But I wanted you to know that none of us thought it best to keep it from you."
"Great." John scrubs a hand over his face and through his hair. "Can I go now?"
"Yeah, you can. Radio us when you're through."
She grins as he turns and gives her a salute. "Yes, ma'am."
The feeling of home settles around John as soon as he is through the 'gate. No matter what everyone else claims, he knows that Atlantis only does this for him, only comes this alive, this sentient when he is here. "Command, this is Sheppard. You can shut it down."
A static, "Will do. Command out,"
filters over his ear piece, the wormhole closes off, and John takes a minute to enjoy the feeling of being back, hoping that he at least has time enough to unpack before he's expected to make nice with the new expedition leader.
"You look better."
Ronon's deep voice shakes John from his thoughts. "Hey, buddy. How're you doin'?"
Shrugging and pushing off the steps, Ronon falls in beside John like he does after every mission. "I'm good."
"Looking better, for sure." John chuckles when Ronon bumps his shoulder as they walk towards the living quarters. "Well, you do."
"Yeah. You okay now, Sheppard?"
John doesn't answer immediately, doesn't toss out the standard 'yeah' and move the topic on to something, someone else. Maybe it is
time to let their friendship work both ways. "I think so."
"Yeah, look, I need to get this to my quarters – " Because no matter what his intentions are, John is so not opening up any more than that right now and, no matter when or if he does, it definitely won't be in the hallway.
"Yeah, okay." Ronon looks just as relieved as John feels and heads back the way they just came.
John palms the lock and stops dead in the doorway as two familiar bands of leather catch his eyes. "Fuck," he hisses, dropping the duffel and stalking over to the bed. "Fuck."
He starts writing his resignation letter in his head and figuring out what the hell he's gonna tell Cam because, Christ
, someone knows and there is no way that can be good. After one… two… three deep breaths his field of vision expands, broadens until he can see the note beside the cuffs, can recognize the messy scrawl and then the air whooshes out of his lungs and a knot of tension breaks lose. Turn around.
He turns the paper over, looking for more, and then, when the hairs on the back of his neck stand up, he glances over his shoulder.
"We're really going to have to work on your inability to follow orders."
John turns. Taking in the uniform, he registers that Cam is in the red and grey of an Atlantis expedition leader instead of military garb, and grins. "Seriously?"
Cam shrugs and a hint of a smile turns his lips. "Someone thinks I should takeover running this place."
Stepping back to the bed, John hooks a finger through one of the cuffs without taking his eyes off Cam. "And these?"
Cam flushes lightly but meets the question head on. "Thought that maybe we could give that whole blending-the-two-together thing a shot."
And John figures this – this hot feeling of hope – is what giggly teenage girls feel like when their crush finally asks them out. The thought isn't as mortifying as he'd expected. "So," he says, a devilish smirk playing about his mouth, "you gonna make me call you 'sir' now?"
Cam snorts and taps John on the back of the head.
"Hey!" John ducks and smiles. "I never signed on for that kind of stuff."
Cam just shakes his head. "Meeting at 1430 and, John…"
John arches a brow in question.