Cam heard Landry come up, but didn't turn to look at him. Landry didn't seem to mind; just took up position beside Cam and rested his forearms on the worn wood of the fence, staring out at the horses.
"So you and Sheppard," he began conversationally.
Cam shoved down hard against the reflexive panic rising in his chest and kept his gaze fixed on the horses. "Sir?" he said in his very best I-have-no-idea-what-you're-talking-about voice.
Landry slid him a sideways glance. "McKay's worked by the man's side for more than five years, and he's never met anyone from Sheppard's family. Colonel Carter was his commanding officer for a year and she didn't know anything about his background. You, on the other hand--"
"Sheppard and I served together in the past," Cam said quickly.
Landry snorted. "Lots of people have served with Sheppard, Mitchell. As far as I know, you're the only one whom his nieces greet as if he were a member of the family."
"I get along well with children, sir."
"No doubt," Landry said. He paused a beat, then added gently, "You know Don't Ask, Don't Tell is over, right? It's okay now to be gay in the Air Force." Another beat. "Or maybe not quite gay in your case."
Well, he'd always known that Landry was blunt. "Coming out might not get someone discharged," Cam said carefully, "but that doesn't make it good for their career."
"Think it will stop you from making general?" Landry asked.
So much for even the thin veil of pretense. "I don't think it will help, sir."
Landry sighed. "No, you're probably right. Would have been easier if you could have found a nice woman to marry, Mitchell."
"Yes, sir, it would have been." And it wasn't as if Cam hadn't thought of that. Wasn't as if he hadn't tried.
"Career's not everything, though," Landry continued. "It won't keep you warm at night. Or keep you company after you retire."
"Yes, sir. " Cam knows that too. It's why he's still with John, despite all the complications.
Well, one of the reasons.
It's not something he expected to hear from General Landry, though. At least not like this. Cam risked a quick glance at the man. Landry's attention seemed to be focused as firmly on the horses as Cam's had been a minute ago.
"I wouldn't have pegged him as your type, Mitchell."
"Sir," Cam said stiffly. He had a pretty good idea of what Landry thought of John and John's pre-SGC record, though he had hoped that Landry might have softened on the issue after five years of successful military leadership on Atlantis.
"I'm not insulting your taste," Landry said. "I'm just surprised. He's not who I would have thought you'd go for."
Curiosity got the better of him. "Who would you think I'd go for, sir?"
"Oh, someone more like you, I think," Landry said. "A real go-getter. Although I admit, it's not something I've given a lot of thought too. If you'd asked me a week ago...you did a good job of hiding it, Colonel."
If Cam had been asked a week ago, he would have laughed at the thought of having this particular conversation with Landry. "Yes, sir."
"So if you don't mind my asking, how long have you two been...?"
"A couple of years," Cam said, because there didn't seem to be any point in denying it. Clearly Landry wouldn't believe him if he did.
"Huh," Landry said thoughtfully. He stood silently for a moment, scanning the expanse of trees and grass surrounding them, and then turned back to Cam. "Mitchell, I hope you're wrong and it won't be an issue for much longer. But if it is--and if this gets out--you know that I have your back, right? This won't affect your career if I have anything to say about it."
"Thank you, sir," Cam said. The assurance surprised him. He'd never thought Landry would actively sabotage him for being bi--people who are that intolerant generally don't last long at the SGC--but there was wide gap between not hurting and actively helping. "I'll do my best to prevent it from becoming an issue." That was something he and John had long since agreed on. Neither of them was interested in playing poster boy for gay tolerance for the Air Force; they just wanted to go on doing their jobs.
"I know you will," Landry said. "I just wish you didn't have to."