He comes. Then he goes.
With him being stationed in another galaxy, it was infrequent. Though whenever John's in the Milky Way, he goes find Cam. Grabbing a burger and a few beers, maybe catching a game on TV, like the good old friends they are.
Then he comes. Not always in the bedroom. Sometimes on the couch if the game gets boring or things get too heated to move to the bedroom. Sometimes in the shower, if Cam joins him for a second round. Even once in the back alley behind the bar in which they're relaxing after a long day at the mountain.
Then he goes. Usually he heads back to the temporary quarters, if he's back for IOA meetings or whatever official business. Other times he goes off to the planned vacation destinations if he's on leave. A few times he stays, by himself in Cam's guest room like he'll say if anyone ever asks. He always leaves to be alone. Every single time.
Their friendship has always existed, like the attraction John feels. Only after Cam's first visit to Atlantis has this arrangement started.
Cam was running high on adrenaline after tying up the Ori super-gate and destroying a Wraith hive ship together with an Ori ship, and practically vibrating when he stopped by John's quarters. He was always friendly, to everybody, but not that friendly. So John's surprised to say the least, when Cam shoved him up against the wall and his tongue into his eager mouth. It was hot, and messy, and fucking fantastic. It might not be the best sex John'd ever had, but it still was definitely a memorable experience. He thought if only they could have some practice, the sex could be pretty amazing. Not that he would admit it, but thoughts about having sex with Cam weren't exactly new to him. And it certainly wasn't an infrequent kind of thoughts.
The blow-job John received wasn't exactly mind-blowing, but Cam almost blew John's mind when he bid his goodbye before beaming up to Odyssey, "We have to do this again. Find me when you're Earth-side."
Those six weeks exiled back on Earth wasn't something John would want a repeat of, except for the part where Cam insisted he stayed with him until he found a place of his own. It would be stupid to refuse the offer, and John was anything but stupid because there would be beers, pizzas, football games and unlimited access to Cam. Not to belittle his longing to return to Atlantis and his missing his teammates and other expedition members, but somehow time spent with Cam was time he was temporarily able to forget about Atlantis. In retrospect, Cam was offering himself as a distraction, as his friendly way to help. And it worked.
During those weeks, John continued to retreat to the guest room when his brain came back online after an orgasm.
Because he has no illusion to the situation. Friends with benefits, that's all they are. So he always goes after he comes. Any lingering will lead to wanting more - more than what he's offered. It's too dangerous a territory to tread into.
But what his consciousness knows has no influence on what his subconsciousness feels.
It begins as a simple attraction, which turns into a longing, then manifests into a crush. It festers like an uncontrollable forest fire. When he realizes things are burning, he's already surrounded by wild blaze with no route for safe escape. Before he knows it, the craving for more than physical, more than friendship has commenced regardless to his opinions.
A clean break is needed, John knows. The spiraling downward has to be stopped while he still has a grip on himself. For days he's been trying to bring it up before he steps out of Cam's room but fails. "This is the last time," he keeps telling himself but the words are lost when he glances back at Cam, lying naked sated and open on the bed with eyes trained on John's escaping form. "Tomorrow. I'll end this tomorrow," he reminds himself when he closes the door behind him and returns to the guest room.
Same thing repeats the next day, then the day after and the day after. In fact, it runs like a merry-go-round till the morning after the last meeting concerning the return of Atlantis to the Pegasus Galaxy.
"Any plan for your leave? You have two weeks, right?" Cam asks casually, sounding hopeful and excited, while pouring John his morning coffee.
John shrugs uncertainly, because he has been too preoccupied to think about that. Maybe he'll head back to San Francisco and bother Rodney on Atlantis. Or maybe he'll stay around and drag out the 'break-up' of their arrangement for as long as he can. For sure he's going to be feeling like crap for a long time to come when even the logical part of his conscious mind doesn't want to give up the physical relationship.
"I have leaves saved," Cam's tone is light but suggestive, with a sprinkle of expectation. "We can find some place to go."
A sex-cation with Cam? It's a wonderful idea but John knows he won't be able to climb back up from the hole known as emotionally-too-attached-to-one-Cameron-fucking-golden-boy-Mitchell if he allows himself to bite the bait. Especially when he's already teetering so close to the edge of falling.
"I... can't." John stares into his coffee in order to avoid Cam's eyes with his grip a little too tight on the mug. "Mitchell, we have to stop."
"Stop? Stop what?" Cam's voice says he's surprised. And hesitant. And maybe, he has an inkling of what John's about to say. It doesn't seem far-fetched that Cam can read John's body language, since he does that pretty damn well in bed already.
"This," John breathes out. "Us. Whatever this is between us."
"Why?" The voice is a little shaky but demanding. Maybe a little bitter as well. John can't really tell though, too involved in his own head busying with the little lie about how he's met someone and things are going well and it's getting serious and it's time to go back to being friends without the benefits. If his words come out a little too much like poorly rehearsed speech, he's not aware of it.
John's a realist. He knows he won't be in Pegasus forever, no matter how much he loves the city. Sooner or later, the brass will transfer him back to Milky Way either because they find a reason to remove him or they actually promote him to some other posts. And when that happens, he can use a friend or two back on Earth. He doesn't have many of those left. Ones who are alive, that is. It would really suck if he loses Cam as a friend for handling this badly.
Cam sets down his own mug of coffee and comes around the kitchen counter to stand next to John, leaning with his hip against the counter facing him. John can see that much with his peripheral vision.
"Liar." Cam calls him out. "Don't I even deserve the truth?"
John looks up and sees a lot on Cam. His brows furrow with raw exasperating anger in his eyes. His lips twist in this particular way indicates pain he's trying to hide. Yes, he deserves the real reason. But survival instinct takes precedence. Why should John divulge the actual reason? Rejection will break his heart in halves, maybe quarters or maybe even pieces. Unspoken truth merely leaves it bruised. Bruises heal. Broken pieces can be glued back but there'll always be cracks.
So he stays quiet even if he can't quite turn his eyes away from Cam's.
Perhaps it's a minute later, but it can be ten, Cam nods slowly. "If it's really what you want," says him, quietly but firmly. "It took me forever to man up and make the first move. I thought I'd be satisfied with whatever you're willing to give but I was wrong. I keep hoping one day you'd want to be more than just fuck buddies." He sighs and turns away, with head hanging low.
John has to shake his head to make sure it hasn't been him speaking out loud. Does Cam actually want the same thing like he does? Is that nothing but his wishful thinking? Only in romance novels will things happen like this, not that he's read much. Luck gives him Atlantis, saves him from certain death a dozen times over and gives him the chance to know Cam in the intimate sense. Is luck now giving him what he wants but never thinks he can have?
The words might have been quiet, but they're still loud and clear and unmistakable. Reaching out with a hand to Cam's elbow, he ventures, "You want... more?"
He can feel Cam trembles a little, like he wants to pull away from John's touch but isn't quite able to do it. "Don't make me repeat," says the same quiet voice.
For all the years John has known Cam, he's always put his heart out there for everyone to see. He's brave like that. To hear him weary of expressing his feelings is rather unexpected. Then again, John has never seen Cam involved with anyone. Maybe he guards his heart as carefully as John does. But in the end, Cam's still the braver between the two of them. He exposes his feelings and desires, even for all he knows John's moving on. It's a gamble with all odds against him.
John doesn't realize he's standing up until his arms wrap around Cam's waist from behind. The body in his embrace goes tense. "Don't... You said no more..." Cam's hands come on top of John's, trying to dislodge them from around him. He isn't trying very hard though.
Inhaling Cam's scent, clean soap from the morning shower, John's arms tighten. "I... Want more, like you do. Gimme a chance." Explanation and details can come later. Right now, he has to make sure Cam understand that they're on the same page, that they want the same thing, despite what John's said minutes ago.
Cam goes still, then relaxes, as if soaking up John's closeness and his words. "I'd better not be dreaming."
Loosening the hold, John moves his hands to Cam's hips to turn him around. Smiling he presses a soft kiss onto Cam's lips. "No, you're not."
"We're idiots." Cam responds with a kiss of his own, firm and unhurried and seemingly filled with every feeling he ever has for the man in front of him. John can almost feel the rush of emotions through the kiss. Reality slowly sinks in. They have spent years avoiding their feelings because both of them are too afraid to go after what they want and they almost miss it. The elite Air Force officers who fight evil snake parasites, space vampires and fanatic intergalactic cult are actually cowards in love. It's rather pathetic if not comical like a cheesy romantic movie.
They really are idiots. At least they're idiots who've been having some good sex.
"I have leaves saved," Cam pulls back barely enough to repeat his earlier statement. "Wherever you wanna go."
John doesn't really need to go anywhere. There's time wasted, but he's just grateful that the thing he wants most finally comes along.