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Sing To Me

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Sing To Me


Author's Notes :
- Disclaimer : I don't own Stargate Atlantis or any of its characters or plots. I mean no infringement, this is for personal benefit only.
- Sing To Me belongs to Darren Hayes.
- Partly inspired by the song Are You Sad? By Our Lady Peace.
- Semi-crossover with SG1. I don't have too much experience with SG1. I've watched about 90% of the episodes, but anachronistically, so the timeline is pretty vague to me. I apologize for anything that's just blatantly wrong. There is also no Atlantis in this fic. So I wonder if this really makes it an SG-1 fic. Hmm. Also Teal'c never did that weird… hang out with the free Jaffa thing after defeating the Goa'uld.
- All sorts of spoilers for SG1.
- This is an AR (alternate reality) story. Also there is no DADT in this fic, so gays are free to openly serve.
- This is SLASH. That's guy/guy action. Sheppard/Mitchell

*** CONTENT WARNING*** This story contains dark, sensitive subject matters. There are non-graphic descriptions of child abuse, sexual abuse of a minor, sexual abuse, abuse, non-consensual sex.

"John, look at me," Cam pleaded. John slowly turned his head and his eyes, full of sorrow, met Cam's straight on. "I know you don't know what this means, at least how I mean it, but I love you."

"No," John whispered, turning away again.

"Yes," Cam countered softly. He reached out and pulled John to him, cradling John's body against his own in a tight hug. "Let me spend the rest of our lives teaching you what love is."

"Cameron," John said brokenly.

"I want to give you new memories, John-better memories. I can't-" Cam was horrified to hear his voice crack, but he pressed on. "-I can't change what happened to you… I love you, John and I want to spend the rest of my life telling you that in a hundred different ways."


"Say yes, John," Cam begged.


Seven-year-old John Sheppard huddled under the coffee table. His parents were in the kitchen. His dad was screaming while his mother was crying. Occasionally he heard noises, the sound of flesh hitting flesh. John tried to block it out, tried to pretend like everything was okay.

He cradled his sore ribs with his arm. His father had been in a bad mood since before John was born.

Margaret Sheppard was sobbing in the other room and John tried not to cry when he heard his father unbuckle his belt. Seconds later John shook as he heard it whip through the air, finding a target.

Tears trailed down his face and John looked up from his position and out the window. A large bird soared by and John wondered what it felt like to fly so freely.

There was a thud in the other room and John made out his mother's body lying on the floor. She wasn't dead, though, he knew. Nothing that good ever happened to John or his mother.

"John!" His father bellowed. "Come here!"

John swallowed and wiped his tears away as he left his hiding spot. He didn't really want to go to school tomorrow anyways.

John was twenty-seven when he was transferred to Colorado Springs from Afghanistan. His base commander had shot John a questioning look while handing him his reassignment orders. John hadn't know what to tell him. He'd never been to Colorado and had never heard of General Hammond.

When he'd arrived, John had spent seventy-six minutes reading and signing a non-disclosure agreement. Three minutes after signing his name on the last dotted line red lights began to flash, a klaxon blared and if John jumped a little bit in his seat… well, the MP by the door didn't say anything.

Thirty minutes after that he had found out that wormholes to other alien planets existed… other planets existed… aliens existed… and oh yeah, would John like to go through said wormhole to said other planets to fight said aliens?

Honestly, John hadn't wanted to. He wanted to stay on Earth and fly. But John had never been one who argued with superior officers and even though they had asked, John could sense a thinly veiled order. He'd nodded, signed another dotted line and three days later John was attached to SG-11, with the round patch on his arm to prove it.

On the first day General Hammond had shook John's hand, pulled him into a hug and promised John that he would do his best to try and get John into a space-ship when he could.

John thought he'd probably really like that.

When John was ten his teachers were throwing around words like 'genius' and 'prodigy'. He'd taken a MENSA test and at the time, John had been excited. He'd thought that the test was something that men took and John was tired of being a little boy.

Later, he'd found out that that wasn't what the test was at all. When his teachers had come back in with grins and a paper certifying him in the MENSA ranks, John had been in too much pain to really understand what it was. His father hadn't been at that pleased to have a kid smarter than he was.

It was then that John learned how painful breathing could be. At night he would hold his breath for as long as he could to try and alleviate the pain. He'd passed out twice last night alone.

His family moved the next day, their fourth move in three years, and the MENSA test was forgotten.

John had learned a valuable lesson, though.

He'd gotten C's on everything for the next year.

When John was thirty General Hammond had come through with his promise, although these days General Hammond was being transitioned out and General O'Neill sat in his office more days than not. John didn't really care though because he got to fly.

John was transferred to Area 51 and spent the next two years as a test pilot for the F-302s. John thought that if there was a Heaven this is what it would be like.

He loved to fly. And because John had spent the last two years of his life being the poster boy for the SGC, General Hammond had decided to reward him.

In his head John had always known that there existed good rewards for good behavior. This was the first time he'd ever experienced it though.

When John was twelve, he slipped up. There had been a new math teacher at his school, a Mr. Walson, and he liked John. He paid attention to John, treated John like he knew John could do better, and he even slipped John extra math so that John could 'keep his brain active'.

John slowly allowed himself to trust his teacher. Mr. Walson kept challenging John, kept offering him harder and harder math.

The best thing about Mr. Walson was that he'd told John's father that John needed to stay after school to join the math club. That it was for students who were struggling a little and needed just a small bit of extra help. Of course there wasn't a math club, there was just John sitting at his desk doing math while Mr. Walson graded homework.

Within three months John was doing higher math in his head and working on proofs that Mr. Walson had said were used in college math classes and advanced physics. In his spare time, John worked on two of the millennium problems. He thought he was pretty close to solving at least one of them.

It wasn't until he'd had sex-ed in tenth grade that John realized Mr. Walson hadn't been all that nice. That a kiss was not a reward for solving an equation. That all the other things Mr. Walson had liked to do besides math were wrong.

But John had moved two times since then and last week an Air Force recruiter had come to his high school. John let himself forget everything for the promise of flying.

He'd used up his lunch to talk to the recruiter, asking all sorts of questions about degree tracts, flying skills, physical requirements.

From then on John lived his life like he belonged in the sky and nothing else would stop him from flying. Not even Mr. Walson.

When John was thirty-two he was recalled to the SGC from Area 51. He'd been assured that he was still on the list of available F-302 pilots. In fact, John had been assured he was at the top of the list. John had worked hard to get where he was. All he'd ever wanted to do was fly.

So, ten years ago, John hadn't said anything when Colonel Willis had forced John to do things that John hadn't done since he was twelve. This time, though, he had the memories of flying. And as Colonel Willis pushed John's pants down, all John was thinking about was the hum of an Apache.

When he'd arrived at the SGC, General Hammond had asked about John's sudden transfer out of Colonel Willis's command. John didn't tell him that General Mason had found out that Willis was fooling around with those under his command. John didn't say that he'd transferred John out before ruining Willis's career. John just said that he hadn't been told the reason why he'd been moved. Hammond had eyed him, and John knew the older man hadn't bought it, but he didn't ask anything else.

When John was sixteen he was accepted to Cal-Tech. John knew that only officers got to fly planes and to be an officer he needed a degree. He'd called the Air Force recruitment officer, Colonel Mason, a man who's number John had memorized. A man who had given John his private home number in case he ever had any questions that couldn't wait for bank hours.

John called almost everyday with a new question.

But that day, the day he was accepted, Colonel Mason told John that Cal-Tech was a great opportunity and John would have plenty of time to attend the Academy afterwards. Colonel Mason had known how smart John was. Every year John would receive a Christmas card from him and his wife, along with a box of cookies.

The first time one had arrived, John's father had beat John so hard that John had passed out. He'd woken up two days later with four broken bones, a concussion and several bruises. John's mother had chided him for upsetting his father.

After that John had asked Colonel Mason not to send anything else. Instead the colonel told John what day to expect his mail to arrive.

The next Christmas, when the package had arrived, John had held it in his hands and stared at it. It was the first thing he could ever remember receiving from anybody. John had told Colonel Mason that the cookies were delicious. He didn't say that they were a little bit salty because his tears had fallen into them. To John they were perfect.

When John was thirty-four he met recently promoted Lieutenant Colonel Cameron Mitchell. By then John had been a lieutenant colonel for two years and was solidly on track for another promotion in a few more years.

It hadn't been more than a brief introduction in the mess hall. Mitchell was chatty, didn't know anyone else, and had taken one look at John and pronounced them best friends.

So John put all his black ops training to work and steadfastly avoided the other officer for months. He allowed himself a small smile when Mitchell finally got SG-1 back together and hoped that meant the other man would try and stop looking for him.

Apparently Mitchell couldn't take a hint.

Because nothing changed. Mitchell still asked John if he wanted to play basketball with him, Daniel and Teal'c. He still asked John over to his place every weekend for a beer. Still told John about a football game he was planning to watch with an open invitation in the air between them.

John didn't know why the other man was so focused on him. But he did know that he didn't want the attention.

And honestly John was a little jealous that he had been stuck off-world when Anubis' fleet had attacked Antarctica and Mitchell had gotten to save the world in an F-302.

When John was eighteen he walked across a raised stage at Cal-Tech and accepted his degrees in aerospace engineering and applied mathematics.

His mother had been dead for a year by then. John's father had finally gone too far and Margaret Sheppard hadn't survived.

John had been living in the dorms and had received a notice from the family lawyer that his father had killed his mother and then drank himself to death.

John had smiled his first smile in twelve years.

He wasn't worried about money. When John was fifteen he had solved his first millennium problem. He'd waited until his eighteenth birthday to send in his equations. That way his father couldn't touch his money.

He'd spent the first two years living off of an academic scholarship. General Mason had tried to talk John into letting the Air Force pay for his education, but John didn't want to take money away from other kids who couldn't get an academic scholarship.

John graduated summa cum laude. The top one percent of his class.

He walked across the stage and proudly accepted his diploma. As he went down the steps, John faltered. There, in the first row of family and friends, sat General Mason and his wife. John swallowed, they couldn't have been there for him, but John knew that the recently promoted general didn't have any kids, and he'd never mentioned any other family members at Cal-Tech with John.

General Mason called John every Sunday. Every Wednesday his wife called. Every two weeks John would receive a small package in the mail from them. There would be cookies or top ramen or other things that John had seen his hall mates receiving.

When the ceremony was over John didn't linger. He hadn't made a lot of friends, and those he had made he had said goodbye to the day before. They had all known that John was bound for the military.

When John reached his room he looked around and allowed another small smile to grace his lips. He had one duffel bag full of clothes and a small case for his laptop. He'd lived lightly; pilots couldn't be weighed down with possessions.


John startled and turned around. In the doorway stood General James Mason and his wife, Patricia.

"General," John greeted, standing at attention. "Mrs. Mason."

Patricia smiled and walked towards John, arms out, "We're so proud of you, John." She wrapped her arms tightly around John and John stood there blankly. It was the first hug he could ever remember receiving.

John looked over her shoulder and found the general staring at him with a large smile on his face. Patricia pulled back and dusted some invisible speck off of John's gown.

"Come to dinner with us, John," General Mason said.

John blinked. "Yes, sir."

"It's not an order, John," he said fondly. "We just have something we want to discuss with you."

John nodded. "Okay."

It dawned on John then that they had come to see him graduate. That they had come to see him.

"Dr. Mason!"

John automatically stopped in the hallway. There was only one person who called him Dr. Mason. He turned to see Daniel Jackson jogging towards him. He offered a polite look, "Daniel. How can I help you?"

Daniel offered him a smile, "I wish all the military were as polite as you."

John frowned at the comment but let it pass. He just kept looking at Daniel before the other man realized John wasn't going to say anything.

"We're all going to Mitchell's for the big game." Daniel rolled his eyes. "I tried to get out of it, but Cam threatened to un-alphabetize my books again."

John offered him the smile he'd perfected over the years. "I promise to help you re-order them if you want."

"Thanks, John but I already told him I would go."

John frowned, "I can talk to him if you want."

Daniel waved the offer off, "Nah, it's okay, thanks though. I was actually hoping I could talk you into going."

"Daniel," John sighed. "I'm sorry, but I'm busy this weekend."

Daniel looked around them before tugging on John's sleeve. John allowed himself to be pulled into a nearby conference room. "Look, John, Mitchell won't stop talking about you and honestly, we're all getting tired of his whining. Everyday it's 'what's Sheppard's problem' or 'I thought Sheppard liked football'. Please, I'm asking as a friend-just come on Saturday. Come watch some grown men chase after a ball and enjoy a steak. I promise to keep Sam from trying to get you to do more work in the labs and from asking about those math problems you solved."

John sighed. "I really am busy this weekend. I'm taking a red-eye out on Friday to go home for the weekend. I won't be back until Tuesday."

Daniel blinked as if not expecting that answer. "Oh. Is everything alright with your parents?"

"They're fine. There's some sort of family reunion and Dad wants me to go."

Daniel had a wistful look in his eye that was quickly covered up as he said, "Well, have fun. I'll tell Mitchell."

John reached out and grabbed Daniel's sleeve before the other man could leave the conference room. "Daniel."


"SG-1 isn't off-world again until Thursday."

Daniel frowned, "Yeah."

John looked away and shoved his hands into his BDUs. "Want to come to my family reunion?"

"What?" Daniel asked, looking extremely puzzled.

"My mom's already made up a room for you," John admitted. "I was supposed to ask you a couple days ago, but then you ran into trouble with those Ori…"

"You're serious about this, John."


"People might say things," Daniel said cautiously. "-if you take me home with you."

John shrugged, "They know we're friends. And they already say things."

"I'll never hear the end of it from Cam."

"I'll talk to him."

Daniel nodded slowly, "Okay, sure."

John smiled, a real one this time. "Our flight leaves at 2300 on Friday."

When John was twenty he stood in a courtroom with General and Mrs. Mason. They'd pulled him out of flight training for three days.

"Cadet Sheppard," The judge said. "As you are above legal age, this adoption has less to do with any special needs you may have, and has more to do with sentimentality. Are you fully aware of all the consequences a legal adoption comes with?"

"I am, your Honor," John answered firmly.

"And you, General Mason, Mrs. Mason, are you fully aware of the commitment you are about to make?"

"We are," General Mason answered with a grin.

The judge smiled. "I rarely get to perform adoptions for people of your age, Cadet Sheppard, but I am happy you have finally found yourself a true family. By the power invested in me and the power of this courtroom, I declare you the legal son of James and Patricia Mason."

John heaved a sigh of relief and offered the judge a real smile. "Thank you, sir."

"It's great to finally meet you, General, Mrs. Mason," Daniel greeted, holding his hand out.

"Oh, call me Patty," John's mom said with a large smile. She shook Daniel's hand before reaching around the archeologist to pull John towards her. "John," she whispered n delight. "I've missed you, son."

John inhaled deeply. He loved the way his mom smelt. She was flowers and sunshine, nothing like his mother had been.

"Mom," John whispered, clenching the back of her shirt in his hands. A second body wrapped around them both and John froze for a second before recognizing his dad's scent.

John was thirty-five now and always tried to remind himself that he was too old to be hugged by his parents. But he could never bring himself to say anything, and he knew that if he did, his mom and dad would still hug him. He vaguely sensed Daniel standing awkwardly nearby, but John wasn't going to give this up for anything, not even his best friend.

Eventually someone pulled away and soon enough John's mom was straightening out his shirt and fussing over him. She tugged him behind her into the house and John followed her with a smile on his face.

A real one.

When John was twenty-three he flew his first aircraft. It was amazing and the second his feet hit the pavement again he was heading for the nearest phone. He'd promised his mom he would call and tell her how it went.

As the line rung, John held his breath. Even after three years he still never believed there would be someone on the other end when he called.

"How was it John?" A melodious voice asked on the other line.

John smiled, something he was learning how to do all over again, "It was great, mom. Amazing. Flying is… it's everything I ever dreamed it would be."

"Oh, honey," and John could hear the smile in her voice. "I'm so happy for you."

John frowned as he heard his mom's breathing hitch. "Is everything okay?"

"I'm just… I'm so proud of you, John." John could hear tears of joy in her voice and she sniffed once. "Oh, ignore me. Jim says I'm too sentimental."

"No," John countered, swallowing the lump in his throat. "Mom?"

"Yeah, John?"

"Thank you," John whispered.

"Oh, my son," Patty said softly. "I should be thanking you, John. You've brought so much joy into our house. We're so proud of you." She sniffed again. "Hold on, sweetie your dad wants to talk to you."


"I love you, John."

"I know mom," John smiled.

"Here's your dad."

"… John?"

"So, huh," Daniel said.

John turned his head away from the stars to look at his friend. They were both standing out on the back porch. Daniel had a beer in his hand, John had a soda.

John didn't drink.


Daniel looked at him. "Your parents seem to really love you."

John supposed that was true, and obvious. They both tended to coddle him a little while he was home. His mom was doting and his dad was easy to please. John was a good son. He never got in trouble, always called when he said he would, he e-mailed twice a week, visited often and sent picture updates once a month.

"Don't most parents?" John asked.

Daniel flushed and looked away. "You're always so quiet, John. You've just always seemed a little bit… broken to me. I guess I assumed your parents were hideous monsters or something." He let out a small laugh. "I'm glad to see I was wrong."

John's fingers clenched around his soda can. He didn't talk about his first parents to anyone. His real parents, Jim and Patricia Mason, had their suspicions but they had never asked John outright. They knew that there were some things in John's past that he couldn't talk about. Things he couldn't remember for fear of breaking.

After the thing with Colonel Willis, John's dad had sat down with him and they'd talked for several hours. At the end of it, John's dad was crying and John was sorry he had said anything.

"You weren't," John said quietly.

Daniel frowned and moved closer to him. "John?"

"I'm adopted, Daniel."

"I know."

John shook his head. "I was adopted when I was twenty."

"I didn't know you could do that."



"Boys!" John's mom called from the house. "Pie!"

John let his arm brush against Daniel's as he headed back into his house. His mom's pie was the best in the world.

When John was twenty-six he realized he wasn't like the other men in his unit. He'd never had a relationship and he wasn't really looking for one.

John had never kissed anyone that he hadn't been forced to kiss. Or anything more than a kiss.

John was leery of women. He remembered the way his mother would fall to the ground and cry. The way she just stood there and let her husband hit her. He remember how she had never once tried to protect John.

He remembered seeing her bones break and hearing her cries.

John didn't want a woman like that. Someone too afraid to leave or think for herself. Women were too delicate.

John didn't want a man either. He remembered Mr. Walson and Colonel Willis. Everything had been so painful and John had been left bleeding. He couldn't imagine ever wanting that.

So John was alone.

His parents never pushed. Never said anything about how John didn't date and didn't mention women-or men. They didn't hint at grandchildren, and John thought that was probably because they were still getting used to having a son.

He knew he was still getting used to having parents.

Family reunions were always weird to John. No one quite knew how to treat him. His first one had been a year after he'd been adopted and it was awkward because by then John had been twenty-one and hardly a child.

He had stuck close to his parents, and neither of them seemed to mind. They introduced John to everyone and John had plastered on a smile he'd created so that people thought he actually cared.

The Masons had a large extended family. There were over fifty people at the reunion and John memorized each person's face and name. John hadn't been quite sure how to react to suddenly gaining a family full of people as wonderful as the Masons.

There were several other military members of the family. Two Navy admirals, another Air Force general, an Air Force major, and three Marines. In that aspect, John fit right in.

"Wow," Daniel said from next to him.

John was pretty sure that summed up everything he felt when he went to these large family gatherings. John hesitated, "I should… introduce you."

"Probably," Daniel agreed.

The age range at the reunion was ridiculous. There were two babies younger than five months old while the oldest person in attendance was John's grandpa who was pushing ninety-five. John's dad was the youngest of four siblings-three brothers, one sister.

John steered clear of anyone drinking. John wouldn't go near them and they knew that so instead they offered John a wave as he passed. It was written off as one of John's quirks when he'd first been introduced.

"Johnny-boy!" His uncle Mark called, waving him over to where he was standing with his wife and John's aunt, Elizabeth.

John headed for them and Daniel followed him. "Hi, Uncle Mark, Aunt Becky, Aunt Liz."

"Always so formal, John," Liz said. She stepped forward and greeted John with a hug. The other two followed.

"Who's your friend, Johnny?" Mark asked.

"This is Dr. Daniel Jackson," John said, indicating the man next to him. "He works with me."

"Just a friend, Johnny?" Mark asked with a grin as he accepted Daniel's outstretched hand.

Most of his family joked that John was gay because he'd never brought a girl home. He also knew that despite the amount of military personnel, all of them would be okay with it if he was. Luke Mason, the middle brother, was gay and had been with his partner for twenty-three years.

Luke and his partner honestly made John a little nervous and John was pretty sure they could tell as they usually left him alone. John had apologized repeatedly to his mom and dad for avoiding them, but his parents just smiled at him sadly. John was pretty sure that they both knew about the things that had happened in his past. His dad had probably told his mom about what John had said after the incident with Willis. John didn't mind though, it meant that he didn't have to.

"Yes," John answered. "Just a friend."

"And roommate," Daniel put in.

"You're so shy, John," Becky said.

"He's not shy, Becky, just quiet," Liz corrected.

John thought he was probably a little of both.

When John was twenty-eight he met Dr. Daniel Jackson. He'd taken an instant liking to the archeologist, something that had never happened before.

Daniel didn't seem to mind that John kept showing up in his office.

John liked that Daniel was quiet. He didn't have a need to fill silences, so John could just sit in his office and work on his second doctorate. Daniel also never pushed John to talk about anything. John knew the other man picked up on far more than John would have wished he had, but he ignored it because Daniel never asked about any of it.

He'd kept in touch while he was at Area 51 and when he'd moved back they picked up their friendship like John had never left.

Daniel was the only person who called John by his adoptive name. By the time John had been adopted, he'd already been John Sheppard to the Air Force and it would be confusing to change it. Daniel, John thought, got it though. He got how important the new name had been to John. So he would call John by his adopted last name and alternative title. It confused most people, but John was used to being called 'Dr. Mason' now. And he liked it.

Daniel had once asked John if John had some sort of crush on him. John had blinked, frowned and said, "But you're a guy."

Daniel hadn't laughed and he hadn't accused John of being a homophobe. Instead he stood up and wrapped John into a hug and whispered, "Not all guys are bad guys, John."

And that had been the end of that.

A week later, Daniel announced that the lease on his apartment was up and John should move off-base with him. They'd found a house, instead. It had four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a living room, a large family room that they had turned into an office for both of their use, an attic that had become a library of sorts, a pool in the backyard and a huge kitchen that John's mom made great use of every time she visited. There was a garage that Daniel had let John take over and it held all sorts of exercise equipment.

They had wonderful neighbors on both sides and John was pretty sure that they thought he and Daniel were a couple. John was pretty sure that most of the SGC thought he and Daniel were a couple. John was okay with that because it meant he was left alone for the most part.

Especially cause there was nothing to tell.

Daniel had never really gotten over Sha're and John was content to be a bachelor for the rest of his life. So it worked out quite well for both of them.

John had never counted on Cameron Mitchell.


John wondered why Daniel always prefaced what he really wanted to say with some sort of hanging word. "Yeah?"

"You have to know that Mitchell has some sort of big, fat crush on you."

John sat down on his mother's rocking chair on the front porch. Daniel sat on the bench next to it. They stared out into the street. There wasn't really much to see.

John shrugged, "Okay."

He hadn't exactly known, but he'd suspected. He also hadn't encouraged Cameron Mitchell's crush.

"John," Daniel said gently. "Can you just talk to him? For me?"

"I said I would."

Daniel scrunched up his forehead. "Huh, yeah, I didn't think you'd actually do it though."

"I keep my word, Daniel."

"I know."

"I'll talk to him when we get back. Invite him over for dinner. Tell him I'm cooking so he'll actually come."

Daniel laughed. "Screw you, Mason."

When John was almost thirty-three his best friend died. Daniel had been gone and John had been absolutely miserable. He'd taken two weeks off of work and went home.

His mother made him pie and cookies and enough meatloaf to feed John and his gate team and the rest of the SGC. John would eat and then remember that Daniel was dead and promptly throw it all back up.

John hadn't known why he didn't really have friends before Daniel, but now he knew why he wasn't going to make anymore.

When Daniel came back John made him sleep with the door open so that John could check that he was still there in the middle of the night. He told Daniel that he wasn't allowed to die again and that John still hadn't forgiven him.

Daniel left his door open and got a night light, promised John he would do his best to stay alive, and bought John ice cream for four months.

They flew home on Tuesday and were now driving back to their house. Well, John was driving, Daniel was oh-so-subtly trying to tell John about all of Cameron Mitchell's good traits. He was loyal, patient, kind and moderately intelligent. No where near John's level, of course, or even Daniel's, but Cameron Mitchell had something about him. At least according to Daniel.

To John he sounded a bit like the golden retriever that his Aunt Liz had.

"… and his mom sends him cookies too-"

"Daniel," John said, cutting off his friend.


"If he's so great, why don't you date him?"

Daniel actually seemed to think about it before answering, "Cause he's head over heels for you."

John rolled his eyes and signaled before passing the car in front of him. "He'll get over it."

"It's been a year, John," Daniel said doubtfully.

"He barely knows me."

"Uh…" Daniel coughed and looked away. "Yeah, I may have told him a bit about you."

"A bit," John repeated blandly.

"Okay, well, a lot."

"A lot."

"You're still going to talk to him, right?"

"Damn it, Daniel," John swore. "I'm not even gay."

"Really?" Daniel asked curiously. John could feel Daniel's gaze on his face. "Like 100% straight? How come I've never seen you with a woman?"

"I've never seen you with a woman," John countered.

"I'm widowed."

John sighed. "I'm not gay, can we leave it at that?"


When John was thirty-three his team got stuck off-world. They ran into some unhappy natives who were tired of people just coming to their planets. And, it turned out, they were tired of the small breeding population they had.

As the chief tied John up in the fertility hut, John really wondered why these things happened to him. A scantly clad woman tipped a drink into John's mouth and he had no choice but to swallow. It took ten minutes for his vision to blur and his body to feel really, really hot.

John drifted in and out of consciousness enough to know that the chief's daughter was busy having her way with his body. John was glad that he'd agreed to be fixed by the doctors at the SGC to only shoot blanks. He really didn't need to think about mini-John Masons walking around the galaxy.

Afterwards, they'd tossed his clothes at him, John had met up with his team-who were equally as loopy-and they went back to the SGC. General Landry gave John and his team a week off.

The one good thing that had come out of the situation was that John was now positive he didn't want a woman. He was really starting to wonder if he was asexual.

John padded barefoot down the hallway and to the front door where someone was knocking. He passed Daniel's room and cursed the other man's ability to sleep through the incessant knocking.

Three seconds after John opened the door he wished he had taken the time to put on pants… or a shirt… or anything other than the boxer shorts he was currently wearing.

Lieutenant Colonel Cameron Mitchell stood on the other side of the door gaping at the sight of John practically naked. John wished he were awake enough to think of something witty. Mitchell shoved the tray of coffees in his hand at John and invited himself in.

The downside to living with Daniel Jackson is that his team came as a package deal. Mitchell, Teal'c and Carter showed up, unannounced, quite frequently. And when O'Neill was in town he often stayed in one of their guest rooms.

John closed the door behind Mitchell, set the coffees down on the kitchen counter and left the other man standing in the living room. He walked back up the stairs, knocked on Daniel's door and continues onto his room. Before he shut his door he saw Daniel poke his head out of his room. John gestured down the stairs and then shut the door.

He rarely socialized with Daniel's team.

When John was thirty-four, before meeting Cameron Mitchell he met Rodney McKay. McKay was like no one John had ever met before. Apparently he'd been on base before, but John had managed to be off-world during all of his other visits. Something he was sorely sorry about.

McKay was fun. He was snaky and abrupt and so smart that John thought maybe he'd found someone who could keep up with him.

Unfortunately McKay thought John was just another flyboy and there wasn't anything John could say that would change McKay's mind.

Just like with Daniel, John was drawn to McKay. But unlike with Daniel, McKay didn't let John follow him around or hang out in his lab. John was really wishing he had better people skills. He didn't know what to say or what to do to get McKay to talk to him.

The man had just returned from Russia and while John had been to Russia, during his time in covert ops, McKay seemed to have hated the country and hated whenever anyone mentioned it. John figured most things that they had in common probably ended there.

John thought maybe he could wow McKay with math. John did have two doctorates, one in applied mathematics and one in theoretical physics. He was thinking of working on a third one.

So John used his clearance to access McKay's lab. He didn't feel too bad about it considering the man shared it with Dr. Z, who adored John, and General O'Neill had given John leave to enter all the research labs on base considering John's education. So John snuck in after he was sure McKay had left.

He rifled through papers on the desk and looked around before spotting a half finished equation on a nearby white board.


John picked up the whiteboard marker and began to write.


John groaned and pulled his pillow over his head trying to ignore his roommate.

"Mason! John! I know you're still awake!"

John counted to five and repeated his promise to never shoot his friends. He rolled out of bed and pulled on some sweatpants and a Cal-Tech sweatshirt. John stumbled into his bathroom and brushed his teeth with his eyes closed, desperately hoping he'd just fall asleep right there so he wouldn't have to go downstairs.

"John James Mason!"

John groaned and spit out his toothpaste. He quickly rinsed and splashed some water on his face before drying it off.

"I'm coming!"

John could barely hear Mitchell's question. "That's not his real name, is it? What happened to Sheppard?"

"That's my alter-ego," John said as he walked down the carpeted steps. "And Jesus fuck, Daniel, it's six in the morning."

Daniel grinned and pushed a coffee towards John. John rolled his eyes and made a bee-line for the cup. "I put your cinnamon rolls in the oven."

John collapsed onto a nearby chair and promptly closed his eyes again. He raised his coffee to his lips and drank the hot liquid slowly. When he opened his eyes he found two faces regarding him with different expressions; Mitchell's held fascination, Daniel's held amusement.

"What?" John asked, annoyed.

"Nothing." They both answered, quickly. Too quickly.

John tensed as the front door knob made a noise. He was on his feet a second later behind Mitchell who had gone to investigate. Before either one of them could reach the door, it opened.

"Sheppard! There's some stupid car in your driveway!" Rodney yelled.

John stepped out from behind Mitchell and grinned. "Sorry, Rodney."

"You better be. I had to park in front of that fruity neighbor of yours and I swear she was peeking through the curtains at me again."

"Rosie's harmless, McKay."

Rodney rolled his eyes and barreled into the room. "Harmless, sure. Where's the coffee?"

John followed behind him and offered Rodney his own drink. "This is all we have, I'll make some."

Rodney just waved him away as he downed John's coffee with record-setting speed. Mitchell made a small noise and John ignored him. It was his coffee, he could give it to Rodney if he wanted to. John walked over to the coffee machine and Daniel reached into the cabinet and pulled out a container of beans. John filled the coffee pot with water as Daniel ground some coffee beans before dumping them into a filter. Together they put all the parts of the coffee machine back and a second later it whirred to life.

John left the room to get his laptop from the office. When he returned, everyone had taken a seat at the dining room table. John took the open one next to Rodney and across from Daniel. He flipped his laptop open and logged on.

"What's for breakfast?" Rodney asked.

"You know someday, Rodney we're not going to feed you," Daniel said.

"Please," Rodney said with a roll of his eyes. "Sheppard would just start begging for me to come back."

John mentally agreed. He had two friends and they were both sitting at the table with him. He'd promised himself no more friends after Daniel had died, but John hadn't been about to help himself with Rodney. And Rodney really didn't seem to mind that John was probably not that good of a friend. John tried though.

After meeting Rodney, John had taken up cooking. Rodney complained so much about all of his food allergies, and John, sick of carrying epi-pens to restaurants, had just gone to the bookstore and grabbed a few different cookbooks. The first couple of months were hard. John hadn't really ever cooked before and spent most of those two months on the phone with his mom, but eventually he got the hang of it. Now he cooked a lot.

"There are cinnamon rolls in the oven, Rodney," John said as he signed into his email. "I made them last night, they just need to re-heat."

"And frosting?"

"Of course," John answered as he clicked open an e-mail from his second cousin, Mandy. She was fourteen and seemed to think that John had all the answers to her dating dilemmas. He read through her email and sighed. "If a guy says he likes my shirt, does that mean he likes me? Or does he just like my shirt?"

When John didn't get an answer he looked up to find three faces staring at him.

John shrugged, "Mandy wants to know."

"Hmm," Daniel said. He was often John's go-to guy for Mandy's advice.

"Who's Mandy?" Mitchell asked.

"Second cousin."

Rodney leaned over and peered at the screen. "I think he likes her shirt."

"Yeah," Daniel agreed.

"Yep," Mitchell put in.

John clicked 'reply' and started writing back. After politely saying that it probably meant he just liked her shirt, John asked about her family and how the rest of her life was going. He liked having someone who felt like they could come to him with questions.

"Say 'hi' from me," Daniel said.

John added a hello from Daniel at the bottom. He reviewed the email and then clicked 'send' sending the data packets off into cyberspace. John quickly scrolled through the rest of his emails. There was one from Cal-Tech asking him to guest lecture. John opened his gate schedule and glanced through the next couple of months. One of the best things about working at the SGC was that if you weren't scheduled to go off-world, there was a good chance they would let you have the day off if you asked a few weeks in advance. John made a mental note to see about a date two months from now and saved the email.

"Are you going to say yes?" Rodney asked.

"Hmm? Oh, yeah."

"What's the topic?"

John shrugged, "Whatever they want."

"You're so easy, Sheppard," Rodney said with a shake of his head.

John froze at the words and took a deep breath. He let it out and caught a concerned glance from Daniel. John gave a subtle shake of his head and the other man let it go. John abruptly pushed his chair back and stood up. He walked over to stand in front of the coffee machine and watch it drip.

"He didn't mean anything by it."

John glanced behind him to see Mitchell uncomfortably close. John took a step to the left away from him. "I know."

Mitchell reached up next to John's head, opening the cabinet. He took out four mugs and set them down on the counter in front of John. The oven beeped and John maneuvered around Mitchell, grabbing a potholder, and opening the oven door. The smell of cinnamon wafted out and John reached in to grab the baking sheet. He pulled it out and placed it on the counter. John carefully picked up the edges of the silicon mat on the backing sheet that the rolls were on and moved it onto the counter to dry faster.

Behind him, Mitchell turned off the oven and pulled down four small plates. John grabbed the bowl of frosting on the counter that Daniel had taken out of the refrigerator earlier. The frosting was nice and soft now. John pulled some tongs out of the drawer in front of him and handed them to Mitchell.

He definitely didn't flinch when their hands touched.

Mitchell gave him a warm smile and John looked away. He pulled out a spatula and carefully began to dish out the cream cheese frosting onto the plates after Mitchell placed a roll on each of them. John grabbed two plates and carried them over to the table, setting one down in front of Rodney and the other in front of Daniel. Mitchell was behind him and set one in his place and the other in John's.

John made his way back to the coffee machine and poured coffee into four mugs. The other three might have had coffee earlier, but they'd definitely finished it by now. John added two sugars to Daniel's, a bit of cream to Mitchell's and left his and Rodney's black. Mitchell hovered nearby and John passed two of the mugs to the other man.

They made their way back to the table and sorted the coffee to the correct person. John cursed when he realized he'd forgotten the forks. He got up to get them but Mitchell beat him to it.

"I've got it."

John sat back down.

Cameron Mitchell had known from the first time he laid eyes on John Sheppard that the other man had deep, dark secrets.

Cam had been new to the base and listened to any and all chatter that would help him get acclimated faster. John Sheppard was a popular topic. The man kept to himself, for the most part, but was apparently best friends with Daniel Jackson. Cam soon learned that they lived off base together and that while a few thought they were a couple, most didn't.

Cam never heard a bad word said about Sheppard. He was well respected, well-liked, a good officer, and a better pilot. And, if the rumors were to be believed, Sheppard was some kind of genius. Cam had heard he had anywhere from two doctorates to five. Most said he had two, some said three. Cam decided he needed to find out.

So he asked Jackson while they were off-world and wandering through some forest in search of who-knows-what. Jackson offered Cam a bemused look but answered that Sheppard had two doctorates and was working on a third.

Cam knew then that he had to meet John Sheppard.

He found him in the mess hall. There was no sign of Jackson or the rude, loud-mouthed scientist that Sheppard was often with so Cam got his food, and headed for Sheppard's table. He introduced himself, sat down and proceeded to tell Sheppard about his day.

Cam thought it had gone well. Although since Sheppard appeared to avoid him like the plague after that, Cam probably should reevaluate his definition of 'gone well'.

But John Sheppard was intriguing and Cam had fallen hard and fast for the other man.

Too bad John Sheppard wouldn't give him the time of day.


John looked up from his desk to see Daniel hovering in the doorway. John had a teeny-tiny office on base. General Landry had given it to him when he'd put John in charge of his own team, SG-10. He'd been overdue for one, and honestly had been putting it off until General Landry made a strong suggestion that John lead his own. John hadn't been in charge for long, and there wasn't really a team, per se, as the theory that there was supposed to be a team. John had a pile a mile high on his desk of personnel files. He had just been looking through one when Daniel appeared.

"So what?'

"Did you talk to him."

"Not yet."

"Great, I'll send him in."

"What? Daniel, no-" but it was too late. The archeologist had disappeared and John was left staring at his doorway.

He put Major Evan Lorne's file in the yes pile and picked up the next candidate. John was only thirty-five, but he was starting to feel old when he read the ages of all the potential candidates for his gate team.


John looked up again to see Cameron Mitchell standing hesitantly in his doorway. John gestured him in and rubbed the bridge of his nose. Mitchell shut the door behind him and the room felt even smaller with two people in it. Mitchell sat down in the chair across from John. From the expression on his face, John had either killed Mitchell's puppy or Mitchell knew that John was about to gently turn him down.

"Look, sir-" and John winced a little. He might have had the time in grade on Mitchell, but they were the same rank and Mitchell had never called him 'sir' before. "-I know what you're going to say," Mitchell sighed.

"You do." Not a question.

"Permission to speak freely, sir?"

John nodded.

"I… really like you, John. I think, if you gave me a chance, you'd really like me too. I'm not messy, I open doors and my momma makes an awesome pecan pie. I know what your life is like, we have that in common, so you wouldn't have to make up lies or explanations for why you're always gone. I love flying, Ferris wheels, and I'm more of a cat person than a dog person. One date, that's all I'm asking. If afterwards you don't feel a thing then I'll leave you alone, I promise. Just don't say no."

His eyes were pleading and his tone was gentle, soft-as if he was trying not to spook John. John looked down at his hands and then back at Mitchell and sighed.

"I'm not gay."

"I can work around that," Mitchell said instantly.

John finally met the other man's eyes. "I've never been on a Ferris wheel."

"Then say 'yes' and I'll take you on one."

John wasn't sure what he was thinking. He'd been ready to tell Mitchell that he was flattered, but no thanks. Instead he said, "Yes."

"John, John, calm down, honey. This isn't a bad thing."

John paced back and forth in his room. His mom was on speaker-phone and John was trying really hard not to freak out.

"I have a date."

"Yes, I know, sweetie."

"With a man."

Just thinking about it made John nauseous. He collapsed onto his bed and sat there staring at the phone.

"This could be a good thing, John," His mom said quietly. "Tell me about him."

"His name is Cameron Mitchell. He leads SG-1, so Daniel's on his team. He… he likes Ferris wheels and cats and flying and pecan pie."

"Those sound like good things, John."

"I don't…" John drifted off. He wondered if it was odd that he was on the phone talking to his mom at his age. John had missed out on all the years he should have been able to talk to a parent, and now he was making up for it. Neither his dad nor his mom seemed to mind and Daniel had told John that John's relationship with his parents was admirable.

"I know you feel overwhelmed, honey, but you can do this, John. If he does anything-tries anything, you can call Daniel or Rodney, I'm sure one of them will come right away."

"I don't think he'll try anything." Except that was all John was thinking about.

"When is the date?"

"Two days."

"What are you going to wear?"

John let out a tense laugh, "You're asking about my clothes?"

His mom laughed and John relaxed at the sound. "I suppose I am, dear. Now be a good son and make sure you wear that black button up that I sent you along with those darker jeans of yours."

John made a mental note. "Of course, mom."

"This is a good thing, John," his mom said gently. "He sounds like a good man, give him a chance."

"I'll try," John promised.

"Then that's all I can really ask."

John had already puked once tonight. Daniel had found him losing his lunch over the toilet and for a second John thought Daniel might actually cry. Instead, his friend had joined him on the floor and pressed a wet washcloth to the back of John's neck. He had yelled down to Mitchell that John would need a few more minutes and he patiently waited while John heaved into the porcelain god.

When he'd finished, John had sat there, panting and aching. Daniel maneuvered John so that he was laying on the floor with his head in Daniel's lap. The archeologist ran his fingers through John's hair while John calmed down.

"I'm sorry, John," Daniel whispered, looking down at him.

John frowned, "For what?"

"For pushing you into this."

"I could have said no."

"I knew you wouldn't," Daniel said quietly.

John closed his eyes, "I should be better than this."

"You already are," Daniel promised.

John took a deep breath and slowly got to his feet. Daniel stood up next to him and watched as John brushed his teeth and rinsed his mouth out.

"Will you tell him I'll be down in a minute?"

"Yeah," Daniel softly. "I'll tell him."

Daniel gave John a brief hug and left him in the bathroom. John splashed some water on his face and ran a hand through his hair. He could do this. He dried his face off and then smoothed a hand down his shirt.

He could do this.

John spent the first half of the date calculating pi to the 910th decimal. He would have kept going but their food arrived and John's mom had told him that it was rude to do math in his head if he was eating with someone else. John didn't want to be rude so he saved the number and finally, finally looked up into Cameron Mitchell's incredibly blue eyes.

John's brain chose that moment to remember Mr. Walson's blue eyes, kind and caring. But different from Mitchell's.

"Hey," Mitchell said gently. "What's wrong?"

John shook his head and focused on how it felt to be flying, leaving the memories to slide away.


"You definitely had a 'something' face."

"Just some memories," John said. He reached for his water and took a large gulp.

"John… I really want this to go well. Is there any way I can help you with this?" Mitchell's tone was sincere and his expression was warm and inviting.

John flushed, "No, I'm sorry, it's just…"

Mitchell smiled, "I know how you feel. It's been a while since I've been on a date, and never one as important as this one. I'm pretty nervous. My momma tried to offer me some jokes to tell, but they would really only be funny if you grew up in the country."

John blinked. It was nice to know that Mitchell was nervous to.

"There is one thing you can do…"

"Name it," Mitchell said instantly.

"I don't know what you want out of this, what you're expecting at the end of the date."

"John, I don't want anything you're not willing to give."

"So you're not expecting…"

Mitchell smiled easily, "I'm not really a put out on the first date kind of guy, Sheppard."

John loved Ferris wheels. He couldn't believe he'd lived thirty-five years without ever riding on one. How Mitchell had managed to track one down in Colorado Springs was beyond John. But it was awesome and John was going to drag Rodney and Daniel out to it next weekend.

"Can I ask you something?"

John turned his head away from the sights below him to look at Mitchell. "Sure."

"Why three PhDs?"

John shrugged, "I like learning."

"That's it?" Mitchell asked, surprised.


John didn't even jump when Mitchell's arm settled along the back of their passenger car, behind John. He wondered if that meant he was growing more comfortable with the other man.

John's phone buzzed in his pocket and he pulled it out. He smiled softly when he saw Daniel's text asking if he was doing okay. John answered with a 'yes' and sent the message off. He shoved his phone back into his pocket and looked up to find Mitchell staring at him.


"Cameron," The other man said, cutting John off. "Or Cam."

John swallowed, "Cameron… why me?"

Cameron shrugged, "When I'm with you… it feels like I'm flying."

So the date had happened. Cameron had been a perfect gentleman. He hadn't expected a kiss at the end of the date, which is good because John didn't offer one, he hadn't expected a hug-something else John hadn't offered-but he had seemed pretty pleased with the handshake John gave him.

It had been two weeks since the date, and true to his word, Cameron hadn't bothered John again. Even Daniel had stopped hinting around to John about the other man.

John wondered if that meant that Cameron hadn't liked him after all.

So John decided to get Rodney's help. Rodney had sighed, called John a girl and then promptly hacked into the security feed in Cameron's office. It was even smaller than John's and the camera caught everything. John texted Daniel, the other participant in his plan, that everything was ready. A few seconds later Daniel appeared on the camera with Cameron.

"So you never said… how did the date go?" Daniel asked, taking the only other seat in Cameron's office.


John felt his heart sink.

"Fine? Just fine? You've been trying to get him to go out with you for over a year and when you finally do it's just 'fine'?"



"It was perfect." Mitchell said softly. "But he wants nothing more to do with me."

"You're sure?"

"What else am I supposed to think? He hasn't called, emailed, texted…"

John blinked. Was he supposed to do things like that? No one had ever told him to do so.

"Is that why you're so upset? Because John didn't call?"

Cameron just looked at Daniel. "Well, yes."

Daniel laughed, "Mitchell… John's never been on a date before. I doubt he knew that he was supposed to call you."

"Oh… wait-never?"


"So he was waiting for me to call?"

John wouldn't call it waiting


Rodney snorted next to John. "Well, at least you found someone as clueless as you."

John rolled his eyes. There really wasn't much to say since it was true.

"So I should call him?" Mitchell asked.

"Yeah." Daniel paused. "Actually, why don't you come for dinner tonight? John's making chicken cacciatore."

"You are?" Rodney asked.

John nodded and put his finger to his lips so that Rodney would be quiet.

"You don't think he'll mind?"

"Nope. The more the merrier, although I suspect Rodney will be there too."

"He does seem to live at your house."

Daniel shrugged, "He's not so bad once you get used to him."

"Used to me?" Rodney sputtered.

John had a feeling he'd be making a chocolate cake tonight as an apology to Rodney.

His stomach clenched at the thought of Cameron coming to his house. John wasn't sure where he stood with the other man, but more than that, he wasn't sure where he wanted to stand.

Cam nervously knocked on the door and shifted around the six pack of beer in his hand.

"I got it!" He heard.

A few seconds later the door was opening and Daniel stood on the other side. He glanced down, his eyes narrowing on the beer in Cam's hand. He glanced behind him before pushing out onto the front stoop and closing the door behind him.

"You gotta put that back in your car."

Cam frowned, "The beer?"


"Why?" Cam asked, but he was already walking back to his car, Daniel trailing behind him.

"John doesn't drink."

"I've brought beer before." Cam popped his trunk open and put the six pack in the back.

"Not when John was here."

Cam shut his trunk and tried to remember if that was true. He was startled to find out that Daniel was right.

"I can't believe I missed that."

"We don't make a big deal about it."

"He's not an alcoholic is he?" Cam was pretty sure that the Air Force never would have allowed an alcoholic to fly twenty-million dollar aircrafts.


Before Cam could question Daniel further, they'd reached the door and Daniel was stepping back into the house. Cam followed. The house smelled good, like delicious food, and it made Cam's mouth water.

And true enough, Daniel's prediction had come true and McKay was sitting at the dining room table. He was talking easily with John and Cam had to push down the feelings of jealousy that floated up whenever he saw those two together.

John had so easily accepted McKay, even pursued him. It irked Cam a little because John wouldn't give him the time of day but there he was chasing McKay. For a while Cam had thought John had a crush on the other man. But now he was pretty sure that wasn't the case. Plus, Daniel had said there was nothing going on there and Cam believed him, for the most part.

"Hi," John said, facing Cam from the kitchen. There was just a hint of a smile on his face but it was more of a smile than Cam had ever seen on the other man.

"Hey," Cam replied, shoving his hands into his pockets. He had wanted to bring flowers tonight but he didn't think Sheppard would be particularly receptive to them, plus, he was sure that Daniel had some sort of allergy to them.

McKay rolled his eyes at them and launched back into whatever he had been talking about before Cam arrived. John nodded along as McKay spoke and Cam wondered if the other man was really listening. He got his answer when John responded to whatever McKay said with a long statement of his own. It sounded like math but Cam wasn't really sure.

Daniel met his eyes and grinned. He tugged Cam out of the dining room, "Come on, we'll watch TV until dinner's ready."

Cam didn't want to watch TV. He wanted to stay and listen to John talk about things that Cam could never comprehend. Instead, he let Daniel pull him out of the room and towards the television.

John followed Cameron out to his car. He stuffed his hands in his pocket uncomfortably.

"So, uh, thanks for coming."

"Thanks for having me," Cameron answered. "We should do this again."

John was scared at how much he wanted to do it again.


"How about Friday?"

John shook his head. "I'm off-world."


"I might be back by then."

"Sunday then."

"You're off-world."

"Oh, yeah, hm. Well, let's plan for Saturday."


"I'll pick you up at eight."

"Twenty hundred?"

Cameron nodded. "Yeah."

"Goodnight, Cameron."

"Goodnight, John."

The thing about John Sheppard is that he's such a mystery to Cam. Cam's been through the gate with him a couple times. The man is badass-unapologetic, charming to the natives, a perfect shot when needed, and Cam swears he saw John pull off a black ops move once, although having never served black ops, Cam wasn't really sure.

He was the perfect soldier-obedient, respectful-but outside of work, off of the mountain, John Sheppard was someone else entirely. Cam wondered if were at all possible that the man had some kind of dual personality disorder.

Cam had always thought of himself as an easy-going kind of guy. He got along with most people, made friends easily, and superior officers like him. But not John Sheppard. And that made Cam want John to like him ever more.

Cam's momma had always said that you could tell a lot about a person from their friends. Well, Cam was pretty sure that John only had two and he knew Jackson pretty well, so he decided to get to know McKay.

Cam wondered if he wasn't a bit suicidal.

"You need to call him off."

John looked up to see McKay storming into his office.

"Call who off?"

"Mitchell! The man won't give me a moments peace! He follows me around base and to my lab and to the mess hall… he tried to follow me into the bathroom and I put my foot down. He's a menace, Sheppard! And I can't be held responsible for what I do to stupid, brainless, menacing people!"

"Rodney, I don't have any control over his actions."

"Yes! You do! Tell him no more sex until he stops following me around!"

John coughed, "Rodney, we're not having sex."

Rodney seemed to deflate at that. "Wait really? So what are you getting out of this whole-" he made an obscene gesture with his hands and John winced, "-I mean he doesn't really seem like your type and he's way below your intelligence level. But, huh, really? You're not having sex?"

"We went on one date, McKay."

"Like that matters," Rodney snorted.

"Rodney," John sighed. "Fine, okay, I'll talk to him. I don't know what you expect me to say though."

"Say that I will make good on my threat to ruin his life if he doesn't stop following me around like some Satan puppy!"

"I'll tell him exactly that."

"Good," Rodney huffed. He left as quickly as he entered and John thought it must be really exhausting to be Rodney McKay.

"I promised Rodney I'd ask you to stop following him around."

Cam looked up from his salad. They were on their second date and John didn't seem as freaked out as he did on the first one and Cam thought that was a good sign.

"I'm not following him around."

John shrugged. "He also said that he would make good on his threat to ruin your life if you don't leave him alone."

"I'm really not afraid of McKay."

"You probably should be," John told him. "I've seen him make grown men cry."

The thing about John that made Cam wonder the most-he was pretty emotionless. Cam had seen maybe, maybe two smiles grace his lips. He'd never seen John laugh. He'd never seen John get angry. He'd really never seen John as anything other than perfectly restrained. To most he probably appeared laid-back and easy-going. To Cam he seemed permanently broken.

"I'll take that under advisement."

John's hazel-green eyes met his and Cam's heart fluttered just a bit in his chest. John Sheppard was so goddamned beautiful that it should be illegal to be so good looking.

"Why are you following him?"

"I'm not following him," Cam insisted. "I just wanted to get to know him a little better."

"Rodney's at the house almost as much as you are, you can't talk to him there?"

"You keep him sequestered away."

"Sequestered?" John repeated with a blank look.

"Yeah. If I'm there you two are off talking about Hasduff dimensions or whatever."

"Hausdorff," John corrected absently.

"Hausdorff," Cam repeated.

"You can ask me about him." John hesitated, "Rodney's not really a people person."

Cam didn't think that John was either.

"I'd rather ask you about you."

John offered him a weary look, shielded. "What do you want to know?"

"Everything," Cam said honestly.

"There's not much to know."

Cam doubted that a lot.

"There's everything to know."

John slowly let himself be wooed. He and Cameron had been going out for about four months. John still offered his hand at the end of a date and Cameron still took it with a smile.

Cameron had been telling the truth before when he said he wanted to know everything about John. He asked lots of questions, from John's favorite football team to the name of his college adviser. John answered more times than not but there were some things he just couldn't talk about.

John, though, knew almost everything there was to know about Cameron Mitchell. He was raised in Auburn, Kansas-a place John had never been-and his grandmother was so religious she put monks to shame. When Mitchell was still a captain, he'd gotten some bad orders and accidentally bombed a convoy full of innocent refugees. He received the Congressional Medal of Honor after battling Anubis's forces over Antarctica.

In short, Cameron Mitchell was the perfect man. He said 'please' and 'thank you', he held doors open for women, and never took the last cookie. He had an infinite amount of patience when it came to John, seemed generally very eager to please John, and he liked Johnny Cash.

Somehow over the course of four months, Cameron had become essential to John. He'd basically moved into one of the guest rooms-the one Rodney didn't frequent-and he made coffee in the morning which elevated him to godlike status in the Jackson-Mason-semi-McKay household.

"So why does Jackson call you 'Mason'?"

John looked up from his mug of coffee. It was early, his team was gating out at 0700. Daniel was still sleeping, McKay had gone back to his house for once, but that was probably good because Carter was in the second guest room, Teal'c was passed out on the couch and Cameron had claimed his usual room.

John wondered if he should host team nights for his own team. He got along pretty good with Lorne, Markham and Stackhouse. He thought he'd probably get along better with them if they were all eating pie and not running for their lives.

John frowned, "I thought you knew."

Cameron poured himself a mug of coffee and took the seat across from John at the dining room table.

"Whenever I ask Daniel tells me it's not his story to tell."

"We've been dating for four months, Cameron. You're only asking now?"

"Well, to be fair, I've wanted to ask for like a year, I just didn't think you would answer."

John wrapped his hands around his coffee, warming them. He blew across the top.

"It's my name-John James Mason."

Cameron furrowed his brows as in deep thought. "You said-you said Sheppard was your alter ego."

"Something like that. I was adopted," John offered. "But it was after I signed up for the Air Force. It would have been a huge hassle for the Force to go through and change all my records, so I talked to a lawyer and as far as the US military is concerned, I'm John Ian Sheppard."

Cameron's mouth dropped open a little. "You were adopted?"

"I thought you knew."

"How would I know that?"

John gestured to the photos lining the walls and on tables throughout the living room. "It's a bit obvious."

He watched as Cameron turned to survey the photos. Patty Mason was a petite woman, blonde haired, blue eyed woman who was 5'5 in heels and Jim Mason, a towering 6'4, had dirty blonde hair and bright blue eyes. They were the all-American couple. John didn't look a thing like them. But he didn't care one bit and neither did they.

"Jesus, Sheppard."

John thought it was hilarious that Cameron still called him 'Sheppard' on occasion. Most of the time it was 'John' but sometimes he'd revert back to military norm and use John's last name. Well, former last name.

"I had no idea."

Cameron turned back to face John and it was obvious he was studying John's face.

"Really? You think Daniel just called me Mason to…?" John had no idea what Cameron was thinking.

"I thought maybe he was some scientist or something and it was some kind of pet name."


John kept drinking his coffee and waited until Cameron connected the dots. Rodney had figured it out in eight point nine seconds. John figured his… boyfriend… would take about eight point nine minutes.

Sure enough, almost nine minutes later a look of revelation came over Cameron's face.

"Didn't you join the Air Force when you were eighteen?"


"You can get adopted after the legal age?"

John stared at Cameron. If he was going to ask a stupid question, he wasn't going to get an answer. John never answered stupid questions.

"Sorry," Cameron apologized. "But seriously, wow."

"They're visiting in two weeks. My mom wants to meet you. My dad says he's already met you."

Cameron frowned and a look of concentration crossed his face. "… Mason… holy crap! Your father is General Jim Mason?"

John nodded and sipped his coffee.

"The man's a legend, John!"

John nodded again and reached for his muffin.

"He's a hero! Every guy I've served with worships the man." Cameron had a look of awe on his face.

John's dad had always been a hero to John.

John had nightmares. They were the elephant in the room that nobody talked about. Daniel would be by his bed when John woke up from them. Rodney would let John have the first cup of coffee. But other than that, they went unmentioned.

That is, until Cameron Mitchell began sleeping at John's house on a regular basis.

The first time John had one while Cameron was there, the other man had rushed into John's room, barefoot, in his boxers, hair wild, and a 9mm handgun held out in front of him. Daniel had come rushing in after him and John had woken up to the two of them arguing about an intruder in the house.

John had been so completely embarrassed that he hadn't talked to Cameron for five days after that.

It wasn't like John had frequent nightmares. Maybe one every few months. When he woke up, heart racing, terror rushing through his veins, John would think of flying and being free.

The second time John had a nightmare while Cameron was there, he woke to find the other man sitting in a chair next to John's bed. Cameron's hand was outstretched and holding John's while he was slumped over onto the bed, sleeping.

John hadn't had to think of flying then to calm down. He just focused on the hand holding his.

Cam wasn't sure what to expect from John's parents. He didn't know much about them except what Daniel had told him. John had been tight lipped on the matter and appeared to be very protective of his parents. For the most part Cam was just curious about what kind of people adopted a twenty-year-old. And if he had a touch of hero worship for General Mason… well, John was polite enough not to say anything.

He tried to appear casual as he stood behind John while the other man greeted his parents. John had been hugging his mom for the better part of ten minutes and his dad had joined in at minute four. All three of them looked content to be standing in the doorway in one huge three-way hug.

Cam was really starting to get jealous of John's parents. Which was ridiculous but there it was. He wanted to hug John like that, even if it was just for a few seconds.

When they finally broke apart, John turned around and faced Cam with the first honest-to-God real smile that Cam had ever seen on his boyfriend's face. It was beautiful and Cam wondered if there was any way he could make John smile like that everyday for the rest of their lives.

"Cameron," John said with an excited flush. He was the most alive that Cam had ever seen. "These are my parents, Jim and Patty Mason."

That seemed permission enough for John's mom to push past John and envelope Cam in a hug. Cam wondered if this was the closest he would ever get to hugging John-hugging someone who had been hugging his boyfriend not one minute earlier. She pulled back and held onto Cam's arms.

"It's so good to meet you, Cameron. John has talked about nothing but you for months."


Cam could swear his boyfriend just whined, except that John didn't whine. John never whines.

"I only speak the truth, John," Patty said with a grin.

John's dad stepped forward and held out his hand. "Nice to see you again, Colonel Mitchell."

"The pleasure is all mine, sir." Cam reached out and shook the general's hand.

"Daniel," Patty said. She gave Daniel a hug a little bit longer than Cam's had been and Cam was a little bit jealous about that as well.

"I'll put your stuff in the guest room, mom."

Cam stepped forward to help John with the luggage. There wasn't much for two people who would be staying for a week, but enough that John would have struggled on his own.

They settled the bags in the room that Cam normally used and Cam followed John back out into the living room where Daniel was excitedly chatting with John's parents. But as soon as John came back into the room, Patty and Jim only had eyes for their son.

It was quite obvious that John's parents adored him and even more obvious that John adored his parents.

"Where's your Rodney, John?" Patty asked.

"Working. He'll be here for dinner, though."

John's mom smiled. "Great. I'm looking forward to meeting him as well." Her gaze turned to Cam. "But for now, I'm looking forward to getting to know your young man better."

The day before John's parents were leaving, John's dad announced that he and Cam were going to the store. He grabbed the rental car keys and gave Cam a look that more or less demanded Cam's presence. John flashed Cam a questioning stare and Cam just shrugged as he followed the general out of the house.

It soon became apparent that they weren't going to the store when the general pulled over at a nearby park. It was cold and overcast and Cam was sure it would start raining any minute but he followed John's dad out of the car and over to a bench.

They sat there in silence for a few minutes and Cam wasn't all that convinced that the general hadn't brought him out there to kill him and dump the body.

"My son is very taken with you."

Cam blinked. "I'm pretty taken with him as well, sir."

The general turned to look at Cam and Cam met his gaze unflinchingly.

"Do you love him?"

"Very much."

"I'm going to tell you something now that I'm not sure you deserve to know, but Patty and I talked it over and we know that John will never tell you himself-" he cut himself off and let out a deep, harsh breath. He looked away from Cam, but Cam was still looking at him. "John was abused when he was younger."

Cam felt like a knife had been stabbed into his stomach. He'd known John's past had held dark secrets, but he'd never allowed himself to think of what they might be.

John's dad continued, "John's first parents were not very good parents. His father beat his mother and then he would beat John. They died while John was in college."

There went all of Cam's thoughts of cold-blooded revenge.

"I'm going to tell you something else, something John would prefer that no one knew, but it's something you need to know if you're going to continue this relationship with John."

It was a question worded as a statement.

"I'd really like to be with him for the rest of my life," Cam admitted, still reeling from the general's earlier comment.

Jim Mason gave Cam a hard look and then nodded.

"John was sexually abused when he was twelve and again when he was twenty-two, and…" The man swallowed, "John never confirmed anything, but I'm very sure he had some kind of bad experience with a woman a couple years back."

Cam could hear the words but his brain wasn't comprehending. John Sheppard-his John Sheppard-had been sexually abused? The general's statement indicated that the first two incidents had been with men.

Cam rushed from the bench to a nearby bush and promptly lost his lunch.

Now every flinch made sense.

He heaved again.

A heavy hand settled on Cam's back, rubbing it as Cam continued puking into the bush. When Cam was pretty sure he was finished, he stood up shakily and stumbled over to a drinking fountain a few feet away and rinsed his mouth out. When he was finished Cam collapsed on the spot and was vaguely aware of two arms leading him back to the park bench. Cam stared down at his hands, fisting them in his lap, and watched in fascination as they grew wet. He looked up to the sky. It was still cloudy, but not raining.


Cam touched his cheeks and a hand moved in front of his face holding a tissue. Cam accepted it and used it to pat his cheeks dry.

He still couldn't believe it.

"I'm trusting you with this information."

Cam nodded and swallowed and looked at the general's face, blurry from Cam's tears. "It will go with me to my grave."

John's dad gave him another long, hard look.


It took Cam three months to burn off the anger that General Mason's confessions had created. He spent almost every night in the gym and off-world he killed as many Ori as he could, which really, wasn't very many. Teal'c sparred with him daily and sometimes Cam drove into the woods so he could scream as loud as he wanted to.

He never let John see him angry.

Although, one night, Cam had been sitting in John's living room, watching the other man read a book and Cam had, much to his embarrassment, burst out crying. John had looked up from his reading, frozen with wide eyes and had calmly set the book aside. He moved over to sit next to Cam on the couch and had very cautiously put his arm around Cam's shoulder. Cam hadn't wasted a second and pretty much threw himself at John.

John had stiffly patted Cam on the back and held him as he cried. He never asked Cam what was wrong and Cam never offered. Cam thought he would take up crying, though, if it meant John would hold him.

They'd been dating for seven months and Cam still hadn't gotten his hug.


John looked over at Cam. Cam was watching his boyfriend make dinner. Cam loved to just sit and watch John. John had been a bit uncomfortable with it in the beginning but was used to it by now.


"If I promise to stay really still, will you hug me?"

John looked at him for a long time and Cam felt completely naked under his gaze. John set down his spatula and walked over to where Cam was sitting. He reached down a hand and Cam grabbed it, letting John pull him up.

John slowly wrapped his arms around Cam and Cam stayed as still as he could. He inhaled slowly. John smelt like spices and coffee. His arms were warm and strong around Cam and Cam wanted to stay like this forever.

When John pulled back Cam bit his tongue to prevent himself from asking for more.

"Thank you," Cam whispered.

John graced him with a small smile. "Any time, Cameron."

A year and three months into his and Cameron's relationship, John's team got stuck off world.

"This sucks, sir," Markham said.

John concurred. They had been on their way back to the gate when in a freak accident lightening struck the DHD and fried the circuits.

"The SGC will dial us in about three hours," John said. "Let's find somewhere to make ourselves comfortable while we wait. I brought cards."

"You cheat, sir," Stackhouse put in.

"Counting cards isn't cheating," John insisted. "It's playing the game to the fullest."

"Whatever you say sir," Lorne cut in with a shit-eating grin.

John sighed, "Go Fish it is."

His teammates laughed and they walked a few hundred yards away from the gate and sat underneath a tree. John pulled the deck of cards out of his vest. It had been a gag gift from Cameron. John's team had a habit of getting stuck off-world. John had complained about how boring it was and the next day Cameron had presented him with a pack of playing cards.

John tossed the deck to Lorne, the fastest shuffler in the group, and leaned back against a tree. He heard the cards flap against each other as Lorne shuffled.

John sighed. He had been hoping to get back early and spend the rest of the day with Rodney in his lab. The other man was working on zero point energy gathered from subspace. Apparently it had come to Rodney in a dream. John had asked his friend what exactly Rodney had been smoking before he fell asleep. Rodney promised he'd share next time.

John looked down as playing card after playing card landed in front of him. With another sigh he picked them up.


"Hey, Jackson what's up?" Cam asked, slowing his pace so his teammate could catch up.

"John's team missed their dial-in. Landry wants us to suit up."

Cam felt his heart skip a beat. "I'll get Teal'c."

"Then I'll get Sam."

Fifteen minutes they were ready to go. Cam was in the middle of his team waiting for the signal to go ahead. The wormhole whooshed open in front of him and Cam clicked his radio.

"Sierra-Golf-Oscar-November-Echo to Sierra-Golf-Tango-Echo-November."

"Thank God."

Cam grinned. "What's your status, John?"

"We're stuck. A bolt of lightening hit the DHD and it's completely fried."

From the grimace on Sam's face, that didn't sound good.

"Wait! Wait! I'm here! I'm here!"

Cam turned to see McKay barreling into the room, a tac vest in one hand, P-90 in the other. Cam wondered exactly what McKay thought he was doing.

"Is that Rodney?" John asked over the radio.

"Yeah," Cam answered.

"Put him on the line."

"McKay! Come talk to Sheppard."

Rodney hurried over to Cam and grabbed the radio from him.

"What have you done now, Sheppard?"

"I tried to tell the lightening not to hit the DHD, it just didn't listen."

Rodney rolled his eyes and sat down on the gate room floor. He snapped his fingers at a nearby MP.

"You! I need my computer and you-" He pointed to another one. "Find me a digital camera."

John hadn't seen Cameron in two weeks. Their gate schedules overlapped too much and the Ori were kicking so much ass that every gate team was seeing serious action. So when they finally had a day off at the same time, John didn't waste anytime making sure that his boyfriend would be spending the day with him.

They'd been dating for a year and five months and John was fairly confident that Cameron was a good guy.

As soon as they arrived home, John waved towards Daniel and tugged Cameron up the stairs and into his room.

"Kiss me."

Almost as soon as the words left John's mouth, Cameron stepped closer. His hands hovered on John's waist and John awkwardly wrapped his arms around Cameron's lower body. Cameron's eyes searched John's and after a minute, Cameron smiled and then he was leaning forward.

Warm lips covered John's and John's hands grabbed the back of Cameron's shirt in a tight grip. John forced himself to relax, forced himself to remember that this was Cameron.

Cameron made no move to deepen the kiss and a few moments later he pulled back.

"John?" Cameron asked softly. "Was that okay?"

John nodded absently. He'd just been kissed. His first real kiss. The first kiss he'd ever wanted.

"Can-can we do it again?"

"We can do it as much as you want, John," Cameron said gently.

"Yes, okay."

For some reason John had the entire next week off. After finding that out, John called his mom. While talking to her he booked a flight home. He hadn't seen his parents in months and the ache in John's chest was beginning to grow.

Cameron found him at lunch and John explained his plans for next week. The great thing about Cameron Mitchell was that he was nothing if not supportive of John's relationship with his parents. So his boyfriend had smiled and nodded and made John promise to bring back one of his mother's pies. John said he'd bring back two.

John booked his return flight for Wednesday night. Before Cameron it would have been for Friday night.

When John arrived back home from his visit with his parents, Cameron was waiting at the airport for him. John felt a small smile dance across his face.

"Welcome back," Cam whispered into John's ear as he pulled him into a hug.

"Thank you."

"Daniel got caught up in some translation thing about Merlin's weapon… don't ask," Cameron said with a sigh. "I wasn't really listening."

John quirked a half-smile. "Got it."

"So… I have tomorrow and Friday off. Will you go somewhere with me?"




"Great," Cameron beamed.

John marveled that it was so easy to make his boyfriend happy.

Cam couldn't ever remember being this nervous. He glanced, for the millionth time, at John in the passenger's seat. They had just celebrated their year and a half anniversary with some really good Italian food. Now they were driving back to John's place.

Daniel was out for the weekend. He had gone with SG-6 to visit a planet that supposedly had ruins that talked about the Ori. Cam had bribed McKay with really good coffee and expensive chocolate to let him and John spend the weekend alone.

They were finally alone.

Cam parked his car in John's driveway and they both got out. John unlocked the door and they both headed for John's room without bothering to turn on any lights along the way.

John's room had a cool light dimmer and Cam turned used it to turn the lights up a notch. He left the lights low, not too bright, but just enough light to be able to see everything around them.

John turned to face him and Cam gently cupped John's face giving him a quick, chaste kiss.

After a few seconds Cam pulled back and John made a soft noise of protest.

"Wait, there's… there's something I need to ask you."

John gave him a curious look and nodded.

Cam reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a small box. He looked John in the eyes as he sank onto one knee.

"John, I…I've known from the moment I met you that you carried some dark secrets. Your dad…" Cam swallowed, "Your dad talked to me, John. It didn't change a thing. I want to be with you for the rest of my life, if you'll have me. I'll never ask you to do anything you're not ready for. I want what you'll give, John and nothing else." Cam flipped the box open and held it up towards John. "John James Mason…. Will you marry me?"

A single tear slid down John's face and Cam saw it fall before the other man looked away. Cam stood back up.

"John, look at me," Cam pleaded. John slowly turned his head and his eyes, full of sorrow, met Cam's straight on. "I know you don't know what this means, at least how I mean it, but I love you."

"No," John whispered, turning away again.

"Yes," Cam countered softly. He reached out and pulled John to him, cradling John's body against his own in a tight hug. "Let me spend the rest of our lives teaching you what love is."

"Cameron," John said brokenly.

"I want to give you new memories, John-better memories. I can't-" Cam was horrified to hear his voice crack, but he pressed on. "-I can't change what happened to you… I love you, John and I want to spend the rest of my life telling you that in a hundred different ways."


"Say yes, John," Cam begged.

"I…" John's breath hitched. "I don't know how to do any of this."

"Neither do I. We'll learn together."

"I don't know if I'll ever be able to… I… it's hard for me to…"

"I don't care about sex, John-I have two hands. I care about you," Cam said gently. "Say yes."

"Yes," John said. "Yes, Cameron, yes."