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Into Dust

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I could possibly be fading
or have something more to gain
I could feel myself grow colder
I could feel myself under your fate
under your fate
-- Into Dust - Mazzy Star

February, 2005, Atlantis Base, Antarctica

Atlantis' chair room is bustling with people no longer needing to wear heavy coats to keep out the Antarctic cold now that they've figured out how to turn on the heat; why the hell the Ancients parked their magic city at the south pole, Cam cannot figure out. He doesn't trust any superior beings who were too dumb to find Hawaii. Everyone around him is busy checking readings and sending information and instructions to the chair. Or more specifically: to the Operator of the chair. His face is blank as he takes in more bytes of information per second than Cameron can fathom.

Circling the chair, Cameron watches the Operator carefully. He's trying to discern any hint of recognition when he stops directly in front of the chair and says, his voice just short of steady, "John."

There's nothing for several seconds, Cameron opens his mouth to repeat the name when John's eyes open, finding him immediately. He stares silently, making Cameron shiver.

"John, you in there?

A subtle crinkle at the corners of John's eyes lets Cameron know that something is getting through to the man who has been his best friend for more than half of their lives. "About time you punched off the clock, Sheppard. You know the bosses don't like it when we put in overtime."

"At least I get time…and a half," John answers. His voice cracks a little, and someone says Cameron's name and hands him a cup with a straw. He makes sure that John can hold the cup securely before letting go.

Satisfied after only a few swallows, John rests the cup on his thigh. "Aren't you supposed to be offworld until tomorrow?"

Shaking his head slowly, Cameron says, "No. No, that was last week. This week I'm off while you get used to being plugged in to the city full time. This way they don't have to keep you in the infirmary and I get some time off with my main squeeze."

John snorts and holds out his hand for Cameron to grab. "Just wait 'til I get you alone. I hate when you call me that."

Taking his hand, Cameron gives a gentle tug and pulls John to his feet. He doesn't immediately let him go, waiting until he's sure John caught his balance, whispering in John's ear."No, you don't."

John just grins and steps back. "I'm starving."

"Good because I saw that the mess has another selection of choices: S.O.S. or burgers."

John makes a face. "They've had that every day this week."

Giving the others around them a glance, Cameron shrugs. "Can't be helped. Supply plane has been delayed at McMurdo for days because of the winter storms."

"Storms?" John asks, eyebrows rise in surprise and confusion. Cameron hates that look and the way he sees it more and more often on John's face. Since he was assigned to Atlantis and lit her up the minute his feet touched the deck on the east pier after leaving the icy tunnel leading from the first discovered chair.


March, 2004, Kandahar, Afghanistan

Because of Anubis making his final bid, Earth's population discovered aliens and their past in one swoop. In the wake of the battle, the SGC was shocked when they were hailed as heroes and not harbingers of doom. The world was full of ignorant fools that only saw the worst in man's every action, but the majority of people needed someone, something to look up to and give them hope and tell them that their lives had meaning and they would be kept safe from harm.

John discovered Cameron's connection to the SGC when he received a phone call a day after the battle from Daniel Jackson, telling John how grateful he and the rest of his team were for Cameron's sacrifice. At the word 'sacrifice', John later told Cameron, he thought that Cameron was dead and he was sure that he'd be following him quickly because his heart had just stopped dead in his chest.) Daniel said if John had any problems getting to the hospital in Colorado to just call and he would make sure that John was at his husband's side before the end of the day.

He hadn't needed to make the call after his CO heard where Cameron had crashed.


February, 2005, Atlantis Base, Antarctica

They step away from the dais the chair sits upon. Cameron lets John set the pace as they move from the room. None of the technicians acknowledge them as they leave. It pisses Cameron off a little more each time that John is treated as nothing more than another tool to be used and discarded. But from the moment John was "discovered" he (neither of them) had much choice in the matter. There has never been anyone on the planet found to have a gene as strong as John Sheppard's.

Luck of the genetic draw was not in John's favor.

John reaches for the sensor to open the door; neither one of them mention the tremor in his fingers. They were told it was a minor price to pay to have the ability to run the city so effortlessly and defend their planet. Don't you want to save billions of lives, Major Sheppard?


June, 2004, Academy Hospital, Colorado Springs

While Cameron recovered, cussing and sweating through each small movement forward, the SGC uncovered the once great city in Antarctica. John's leave came to an end and before he could regretfully return to Afghanistan and his duty there he was given new orders to report to Cheyenne Mountain.

When Cameron heard about the new assignment he almost wished that John had been serious when John had joked, in between forkfuls of his dinner, that he should just say 'to hell with it' and resign from the Air Force to help Cameron during his recovery and become a kept man after Cameron went back on duty. He knew exactly how John would react to not being able to fly every day.

The hospital room was dark when John came in and sat beside the bed, holding Cameron's hand. Cameron was a little more than half-asleep after having a bad day and being filled with pain killers. He listened to John say that he needed to see the sky and the idea of spending the majority of his time under a fucking mountain was almost enough to make John start his separation paperwork.

Cameron understood, more than most people would. Any pilot worth his wings would.

But the next morning, after Cameron woke to John still sitting in the same spot, he poked John in the head to wake him and convinced him to stick it out long enough to at least be fully read into the program. All John knew at the moment was filtered propaganda and the little tidbits that Cameron was allowed to expand upon.

That week the Ori found their little galaxy.


February, 2005, Atlantis Base, Antarctica

Cameron carefully corrects John's direction when he goes left instead of right on their way to the Mess. That kind of distraction isn't unusual when John is caught up in his head with a problem. It's something Cameron teased him about in the past. He doesn't anymore.

They take their time eating, talking about news from home. Every once in a while Cameron notices that John simply isn't listening to his fascinating tale of helping Atlantis' scientists catalog items found in one of the abandoned medical labs. Cameron tried to talk them into making goofy names for the equipment. "They looked at me as if I had two heads when I said that 'T1000 Baby Maker' was a better name than '25-420-A', and..." Cameron notices John's eyes staring off in the distance and touches John's wrist. "John."

There's no response until Cameron wraps his fingers around the pale skin under John's watch and squeezes gently. John licks his lips as he focuses back on Cameron. "Sorry, you were saying?" he asks.

Cameron doesn't let go immediately. Before, they were both touch starved because of the distance between their postings. Now, they're touch starved because their superiors want to see results and continue to press for John to spend more and more time in the command chair. If they have their way, John will soon be the sole Operator and only leave the chair for meals and personal breaks. What happened to the other gene carriers who spent too long connected to the City doesn't matter; Cameron has seen the reports that have filtered down for John to review. The experts at Area 51 are positive that with the strength of John's genetic connection the same thing won't happen to him.

Giving his head a little shake, Cameron gives John's wrist one more squeeze before letting go. "Just that scientists have no imagination."

"Except for Sam."

John likes Sam and has fun picking the worst science fiction B-flicks he can find on movie nights (John insisting their long time tradition continue while Cameron was in the hospital to give them both a sense of normalcy) to mess with her. Cameron hasn't kept it a secret from John that she still asks periodically for Cameron to come work with her on SG-1 now that he is cleared for active duty.

When Cameron was first told that he'd never walk again he tried to push John away, but one of the reasons he loved the SOB so much was because of his stubbornness. John put that power to use and stuck by Cameron every minute that he could steal. Now their roles are reversed, with John trying to push Cameron away from him and Atlantis, telling him that he needs to take Sam's invitation to lead SG-1. They both know that she is leaving the door open for Cameron as a kindness to him because of her friendship with him and John both, even if she knows that he will never take her up on it.

Somewhere along the way, John forgot that Cameron Mitchell can be just as damn stubborn as he is. Cameron's not going anywhere.

"Huh? Oh, Sam has a great sense of humor but I wouldn't say she has the best imagination," he says, pushing his tray to the side.

John snorts at that. "Don't let her hear you say that." Without the little slips in attention, it could have been a normal dinner on any of the bases they'd served in over the years.

Taking a sip of his coffee, decaf at this time of the day, Cameron tries to ignore the look of want on John's face. Any stimulants, even hot cocoa, are on John's no-go list as per Dr. Lam's orders, which Cameron thinks is just evil of her.

"You think I have a death wish? Woman has always been able to put me on the ground since we were in grade school." Cameron laughs. "And don't you dare tell her I said that, either."

John smirks, taking a sip of the fake 'hot cocoa' that Daniel Jackson found for him and making a face at the taste. "I know."

Out of the corner of his eye, Cameron spots an SF enter the mess and look around the room before heading their way.

"You're scheduled for only four more hours tonight, right?" Cameron asks, and looks at his watch. John isn't due to report back to the chair room for another hour.

Nodding, John says, "Until 2300. Why?"

"Thought so." He purses his lips to keep his anger in check instead of taking it out on the SF before finding out what the man has to say. "We've got company."

John turns around just as Sgt. Morris stops at their table at attention. "Colonels," he says and salutes. "Colonel Sheppard, you're needed in the infirmary. Dr. Lam has arrived and says she needs to speak to you immediately."

John and Cameron look at each other across the table. It's obvious that John is thinking 'what the hell?' just like Cameron is. John isn't due for his scan for another two days, and she definitely doesn't make house calls unless it's an emergency.

"Good thing we just finished eating. Thank you, Sergeant." John dismisses the SF and stands. "I wonder what this is all about."

Picking up both their trays, Cameron shrugs, even though he doesn't like the surprise meeting. "Guess we'll find out shortly."

They arrive to find Colonel Sumner looking at something in a file stamped 'confidential' in red on the front, while Dr. Lam talks to one of the nurses. Another man stands quietly next to them listening to the two women. He's wearing a suit instead of a uniform or BDU, so Cameron figures he's either another scientist or an IOA lackey they'll have to deal with.

Dr. Lam sees the two of them enter the infirmary. "Colonel Sheppard, Colonel Mitchell. Sorry to take you away from your dinner but I only had a short window to come and make introductions."

John looks from her to the man. "Introductions?"

"Doctor Sandis has been reassigned from Area 51 to be your personal physician, Sheppard," Colonel Sumner answers, snapping the confidential file shut and tucking it under his arm.

John chuckles. "Sir? Why would I need a personal physician?"

That's Cameron's question, too. He doesn't like that this is being sprung on them with no warning, nor does he like the looks of this guy, with his perfect suit and perfectly cut salt and pepper hair. He has a smarmy-looking smile, and Cameron just bets the guy was a fucking hall monitor when he was a kid. And he doesn't like the fact that Dr. Sandis hasn't even bothered to offer to shake John's hand.

"Because you, in conjunction with Atlantis, are a special...commodity within Earth's arsenal against the Ori," Dr. Sandis answers, his arms crossing behind his back. He reminds Cameron of John's dad and brother doing that.

John's chin goes up a notch, a sure sign that his temper was on the slow boil. "I think he was going to say 'tool' instead of 'commodity', don't you, Cam? I'm not a tool or a commodity, Dr. Sandis. I think if we're going to be stuck with each other you better get that in your head right now."

That's my John. Cameron can tell that John is reminded of his estranged family just as much as he is, and that's going to push John's buttons more than the guy's attitude.

Dr. Sandis looks over at the disapproving look on Lam's face even as Sumner snaps out John's name, and the expression on Sandis' face shifts slightly. "I apologize, Colonel Sheppard," he says, his tone a little more solicitous.

Cameron crosses his arms, brushing his shoulder against John's. "You still haven't answered his question, Dr. Sandis. Why does he need a personal physician? Dr. Lam and Dr. Albright have been managing just fine."

"That is confidential between Colonel Sheppard, Dr. Lam and myself. Who are you in all this?" Sandis reaches for the file that Sumner is holding.

"Cameron Mitchell. I'm Colonel Sheppard's husband. So whatever you can say to him you can say to me. It's in his file. If a marriage license doesn't do it for you, I also have his full medical proxy on file and a notarized letter from John stating that if need be he'll come back from the dead to kick anyone's ass who doesn't listen to me regarding him and his body."

Sandis accepts another file from Dr. Lam and leafs through it until he finds the paperwork. He reads through the papers quickly and looks in shock from John to Cameron then back to John. "You really do have a notarized letter saying that."

The letter had been a bit of a joke between them and General O'Neill until Daniel came up to them at the end of the day, smile not quite reaching his eyes, and advised that John really should add the letter to his file - to be on the safe side - because you never can tell working for the SGC.

Cameron knows John well enough that he's resisting the urge to smirk at the doctor's reaction.

Clearing his throat as he closes the file, Dr. Sandis looks almost ruffled for the first time. "To answer your question, Colonels, I've been assigned to your care because for the past year I've been in charge of the gene carriers who have been retired, to put it gently, from prolonged use of Atlantis' command chair. My purpose is to apply what we've learned at Area 51..."


November, 2004, Atlantis Base, Antarctica

Serving with the SGC, going through the Stargate, was exciting and cool John admitted to Cameron. Though he hadn't expected them to find out he had some weird gene tying him to the Ancients; leading him to be reassigned yet again. Within minutes of arriving in Atlantis, John was standing at attention in front of the Colonel in command of the base, listening to the change in his duties.

Until he arrived, the science staff had been rotating staff in and out of the chair. Their ability to use the chair and control the city was limited by the strength of the gene. The scientists looked at John as if were a star or something, John told Cameron on the phone. It had creeped him out.

John called three days after he settled into his room in Atlantis. What made it different from any other time was the fact that it was unplanned and in the middle of the night. It didn't take much to prompt John into confessing the reason he woke Cameron out of a sound sleep after a day spent in physical therapy.

He told Cameron about his new assignment, about the city and the other gene carriers and how when he sat in the chair the entire base went ballistic over the new information pouring into their terminals. After spending most of the afternoon and evening in the chair, carrying out the commands of Atlantis' CSO with ease, John was called into a meeting with Atlantis' entire senior staff, General O'Neill, and a Mr. Woolsey. He listened to Dr. McKay go into detail, great detail, about the systems that came online and areas of the database now available for exploration after John had sat in the chair and made the city dance for him.

"Sounds like an easy gig this time, John. What's the problem?"

John's hesitation on the other end made Cameron sit up. "The others that I told you about, the other gene carriers that they had in the chair. Some of them ended up not all there after using the chair for a while."


February, 2005, Atlantis Base, Antarctica

John looks positively sick hearing that; he isn't the only one. "You have all of the others at Area 51?"

"No, of course not. We keep them at Area 51's secure wing of the VA hospital attached to Nellis.

Sandis sounds passionate when he tells them, "You have to understand, Colonel Sheppard. These poor unfortunate people have a much better chance of recovery thanks to our research on the technologies at our disposal."

Cameron asks, skeptically, "Can you be a little bit more specific about the technologies you research on your patients?"

Sandis grins. "Goa'uld healing devices, for one, as well as several pieces of Ancient equipment that show great promise for replacing damaged tissue utilizing nanites. We've also made great strides in understanding the workings of sarcophagi. My work has a very good chancing saving these brave people. They would only suffer in a regular hospital. And knowing what we do now - I can possibly prevent yourself from enduring the same fate as your predecessors."

Cameron doesn't buy the doctor's sympathetic spiel having heard one too many big tent Sunday revivals offering false promises while growing up. The only difference between Sandis and those evangelical "healers" is the cost of his suit. Cameron doesn't let it show that he knows just how full of bullshit Dr. Sandis is about being even close to using technology evolving from a sarcophagus thanks to Sam giving him some background to some of SG-1's mission reports. It doesn't take much to remember lying in pain, unable to move and wishing that the SGC would make an exception for him (just this once, please) and use it to get him back on his feet. Cameron has got to hand it to the guy though because he does have a great sales pitch.

"So you keep these people, the gene carriers, locked away from everyone - from their families - in this 'secure wing' for their benefit," John says through gritted teeth. Cameron tugs on his arm, even though he wouldn't blame John if he decks the guy.

Dr. Lam clears her throat, moving John's attention from Sandis to her. "They're receiving the best possible care, John. The IOA has authorized a substantial budget..."

John doesn't let her finish. "That's supposed to make it better?" He glares at the two doctors. "I want it on record that I refuse to be sent to that hospital when my brain has been turned into pudding."

Sumner shocks both Cameron and John when he states, "I agree with you, Sheppard, but the fact of the matter is you are the property of the United States Air Force. Even with all of the legal paperwork you and Colonel Mitchell have - you will be sent to the secure wing at O'Callaghan as a matter of national security once you can no longer physically work the Atlantis command chair."

Afraid that John will do or say something stupid, Cameron looks at Colonel Sumner and asks, "Permission to leave, sir. He's due back in about forty minutes and there are some things he has to take care of before returning to duty."

Sumner glances over at the doctors, who give their consent before dismissing them.

They're given a wide berth by everyone they pass as they walk through the halls to the transporter that will take them to the resident quarters. Cameron has never felt so betrayed and pissed off in his life, and he can't even begin to imagine how angry John is at this moment. With everything his body is telegraphing - there isn't even a word for John's level of anger. The worst part is that John's options are limited to running. Even if General O'Neill's hands are tied with the weight of bureaucratic bullshit Cameron is sure that he could convince Sam or Daniel in helping get John through the SGC's gate now that Atlantis' has been shut down to keep it from overriding the one under the mountain. If the city gate was still operational, it would be nothing for Cameron to cause a big enough distraction and give John enough time to get aboard one of the Gateships and hot-foot it that way. On the other hand Cameron can listen to John and Sam and leave, take the assignment with SG-1 and forget about their life together if he wanted to. That wasn't going to happen.


December, 2004, SGC, Colorado Springs

What had been left unsaid but made abundantly clear by the table full of Colonels, Generals, and IOA members: John was going to sit in the Atlantis command chair, all day, every day, for as long as they wanted him to. If he didn't... if Cameron couldn't persuade John to see reason. If they both attempted to resign their commissions, John would be charged with treason and war crimes against the planet, not just the United States.

John stood up from the table silently, moving his chair out of the way so that Cameron could get his crutches and stand. Once Cameron had been able to do it on his own, John never offered to help him to his feet unless Cameron specifically asked. They both faced the table full of brass and bureaucrats, all of whom looked at John as if he were a bug. Cameron could see that they didn't get why John hadn't helped him and why he didn't want to jump at the chance to have his brain slowly made into a sponge by spending days merging his mind with Atlantis' computers. All they saw was selfishness hiding behind the uniform they thought John should be willing to put before all else.


February, 2005, Atlantis Base, Antarctica

It takes them almost the full thirty minutes of sitting on their bed in silence before either is even capable of speaking. John's watch alarm beeps for the full minute before going quiet.

"Time to go," he say softly.

"Yeah." Cameron wants the words to mean that they'll run away from Atlantis and hide, even if it means for the rest of their lives. But they don't. Because they both know that they have duty written into the very marrow of their bones, and there is no way they can leave innocent people unprotected. Cameron hates it so damn much. He wants to protect not only Earth but also the man he has loved since they were both geeky, gawky teenagers who only wanted to fly. "I won't let them put you in that hospital."

"Can't go against orders, Cam." John reaches over and takes his hand, threading their fingers together.

Cameron tightens his grip to stop the tremor he feels running from John. "Like hell I can't. I don't want you to get back in that chair again because of what it's going to do to you. They're lying when they say it won't happen to you as quickly as the others, because its already started. I've started losing you, and it's only going to get worse. I really want to haul your ass into the bay, steal one of the Gateships and make a run for the gate. If the fucking thing was working, I'm pretty damn sure I'd do it right now." He looks up and is surprised to see disappointment in John's eyes. Disappointment in him.

"Don't you dare do that, Cam. I don't care how fucking far gone I get. You will not stop me from saving others if I can do it."

"Even if you're a fucking vegetable," Cameron shouts, pulling his hand from John's and jumping to his feet. He paces a back and forth a few times before picking up the desk chair and tossing it against the wall. A hand closes around his bicep and stops him from reaching for anything on top of the desk. Turning back, Cameron can easily see all the fear that John usually does so well at hiding in his eyes bleed away to something softer, more warm. He doesn't try to tug out of John's grip.

John leans into him, kissing Cameron as he brushes the back of his other hand along Cameron's cheek down to his jaw. "Especially then," he whispers. "Promise me."

"But I'll lose you." The words are broken as he says them. John presses their bodies together, face tucking into Cameron's neck before raising his head back up and looking Cameron in the eyes. He lets go of Cameron's hand, reaching up to the back of his neck to hold on.

"Please, Cam. You'll never lose me. I won't let it happen. Now promise me."

Cameron opens his mouth but he can't breathe, he can't get the words out. He shakes his head until John gives his neck a reassuring squeeze. Finally, he says, "I promise." He feels as if he has made the biggest mistake of his life with those words, but he's never gone back on a promise to John and he won't now.

John pulls away. They're both wiping their faces but don't try to hide it. Cameron moves toward the bathroom with John close behind him and they take turns washing their faces in silence.

Just as they are finishing up, John gets a signal on his headset. He quickly puts the earpiece in and tells whoever it is that he's on his way. He looks at the door and says, "Time to go to work. Walk with me?"

Taking a deep breath, Cameron nods. "You know it."

April, 2006, Atlantis Base, Antarctica

...martial law has been declared by a majority of the world's governments upon the advisement of the International Oversight Committee which is helping distribute aid amongst the affected countries in the wake of the Ori attack. President Hayes has issued a statement assuring the American people that the order is temporary...

... turn to the emergency band to find updated lists of Red Cross stations for immediate medical care. Please be advised to drink only bottled water. Do not consume any food and water if you suspect it has been contaminated.

.... count is at just over a two million dead in the United States, with another three thousand added to the totals in New York alone but that number is sure to rise before the end of the month. There is no way to be sure just how many perished in the initial attacks...

Cameron is standing next to the doorway, computer tablet tucked under his arm, as the chair slows its rotation when Dr. McKay says it's time. They've had three major skirmishes with Ori ships above the planet within the past week and all of them wins in Earth's favor thanks to John and Atlantis. Hopefully, they'll be the last battles, now that word has come down the line that SG-1 found a way to beat the Ori's influence with some sort of ark.

It's a victory that has taken too long to find; the list of the dead will never quite be finished as people stumble among the wreckage of Earth's cities and towns searching for survivors. The IOA was doing its best to make sure that word spread to where the public could find supplies of food, medicine and water; hoping to prevent as many deaths as they could by warning of areas no longer habitable.

It could have been so much worse. There are so many worlds that will never recover, their civilizations extinct.

Cameron crosses the room to the chair as it stops completely. John stares blankly up at the ceiling, unable to physically disengage from the chair himself. Cameron doesn't look at McKay when he asks, "Is he ready?"

The scientist looks away briefly from his conversation with Dr. Simpson, waving his hand in John's direction."Yes, yes. You can give the command. Just have him back here in," he looks at his watch, "twelve hours. We should have the diagnostics finished and be ready for him to start the repairs."

Cameron looks down at his computer and gives a few keys a tap. The chair immediately sets John upright and disengages him from Atlantis' systems. He doesn't move or look in Cameron's direction. Like all of the gene carriers, the damage from connecting with the city took its toll.

It's been almost four months since John lost the ability to speak, much less say Cameron's name.

Smiling, Cameron steps up and pulls John to his feet. "Whoa, twelve whole hours. You hear that, John?" No one looks at Cameron strangely as he talks to John. They expect it.

Slipping his arm under John's, Cameron lifts up the computer tablet to see the screen go blank. 'Practically a vacation.'

Laughing, Cameron leads John down the tiny step. "You bet it is."

McKay joins them, brushing away another scientist for a moment, and asks, "What did he say?"

Holding up the tablet to share the joke, Cameron isn't surprised by McKay trying to hide his smile. Man has an image to uphold. "Yes, well. Can't be too much of a vacation, seeing as the Ori blew up most of the airports. And don't think that you're going to weasel out of our chess game, Sheppard. I know you cheated last time."

The tablet's screen changes as it spells out, 'Rain check, buddy. Quality time with hubby comes first.'

"You're on. Don't forget you're supposed to report the infirmary when you leave here. Sandis wants to do a work up."


Tucking the tablet back under his arm, Cameron looks down at their feet as John slowly shuffles one foot forward with each step they take. "Sandis is ticked at me because I pulled rank on him with my medical proxy to Lam. This is our first chance to get more than an hour alone together, and I plan on taking every damn second I can."

Nodding in approval, McKay gives John a pat on the arm. "Good for you, knew you weren't totally a brain dead pretty boy." They both ignore the little shocked gasps from a couple of the scientists. "Hey, I wish I could have made it a full day but twelve hours was the most I could stretch things."

"Thanks. We both appreciate it. I'm sure that John will find some little goodie in the database for you in return." Cameron moves to John's right side without letting go; ignoring the wheelchair folded by the wall and leading him easily across the room. For the past month Cameron was having to argue with Sandis that as long as John can walk, he will. Every week there was a minor struggle to keep Sandis and his minions from treating John as nothing more than another piece of Ancient tech to be handled with care and studied.

It takes them nearly forty minutes to make it to their room at the slow pace they keep. Even with the hours spent in the chair, they've been lucky that John has lost little to no muscle tone in the past year. Every little bit of exercise helps.

Cameron helps John sit down at the small dining table in their room and put the tablet down next to him. Pulling John's jacket off, he can see John has asked 'What's for dinner?'

"Gravy and biscuits. I know I should make something more healthy but I didn't want to waste too much of our time together." He gives John a kiss that he's unable to return and pretends that it doesn't bother him.

'Sounds yummy. *kisses you back*'

The biscuits are in the tiny oven warming so all Cameron has to do is quickly make a small batch of gravy to spread over them. When he sits down he cuts the food on John's plate up into small pieces and lets the gravy soften them up. Cupping John's chin, Cameron uses his thumb to gently open John's mouth; closing it after again after placing a bite between his teeth. John automatically begins chewing and swallowing the food. They continue this until John signals through the tablet that he's had enough and for Cameron to hurry up and eat. Cameron doesn't have to be told twice.

It doesn't take him too long to get them both cleaned up and lying naked in bed. He just holds onto John as tightly as he can after closing John's eyes for him. No one can figure out what John did to send his mind completely into Atlantis' systems but whatever it was - almost stopped the degradation of his brain and continues to maintain a connection with his body, so that whatever it feels John still feels and knows as if he still lived inside his body.

Cameron still hates that he made that promise a year ago to John but he'd kept it. Just as John had kept his, saying that he wouldn't let Cameron lose him for good. They sold themselves, their marriage and lives, for the good of the many.

One day, Cameron knows that John will have had enough and decide that they've done their duty and that it is time to finally rest. Cameron's already promised himself that he'll be ready. He has been for a year now.