It’s three in the morning when Cam’s phone rings.
“H’lo?” he mumbles when he finally manages to hit the accept call button. He’s on leave, damn it, and he had been looking forward to seven or eight hours of uninterrupted sleep-
“Cam?” John says cautiously, and Cam blinks a few times and sits up. “Um, hey. I know it’s late, but-”
“John,” Cam breaks in, a slow smile spreading across his face. “I had no idea you were in town. Where the hell are you? Need a place to crash?”
“Well,” John replies, “that’s kind of a funny story, actually.”
John is on a back road somewhere north of Cam; that’s the best he’d been able to give when Cam had asked for directions. Luckily, SGC-issued phones are equipped with some sort of program that lets one phone track another; Sam had explained it once, at great length and in detail, but Cam doesn’t much care about how it works, so long as it does. He sets his phone to trace John’s and gets in his car.
“So,” Cam says conversationally, “how was Canada?”
John’s groan sounds a little tinny over the speakerphone. “Jeannie kept asking what I did to Rodney,” he says. “Apparently he’s calling her more often, trying to be a part of Madison’s life, even making some sort of attempt to get along with Kaleb, as weird as that is. I don’t think she’s convinced that it’s Jennifer’s doing, not mine.”
Cam smiles. “Weren’t McKay and Keller there with you?”
“Please,” John snorts. “Jennifer thinks it’s hilarious, and Rodney is clueless. Interpersonal communication really isn’t his thing.”
Cam can’t quite keep the grin out of his voice. “You’re clearly the master in that regard.”
“Shut it,” John says amiably. “Anyway, yes, Canada is fine, it’s very green, lots of trees. And I thought, hey, my visit is done, maybe I’ll drive down and see what Cam’s doing, maybe he’ll be happy to see me-”
“-there’s a wild assumption, right there-”
“-and maybe I can convince him to put me up for a week or two,” John finishes, and there’s a little silence as Cam processes that. “You there?”
“I’m here,” Cam replies absently. “Two weeks? How long are you on leave, John?”
There’s a heavy kind of pause before John replies. “How far away from me are you?”
Cam picks the phone up and does his best to not hang up on John as he toggles to the map. “Two miles, give or take. Is everything okay?”
John’s quiet for a moment. “Look, I’ll explain everything when you get here, okay?”
Cam frowns at his phone and puts on a little more speed.
“Hey,” John says when Cam pulls up beside him. He looks tired, not at all like a guy who has spent the past week on vacation. Cam supposes that it has something to do with driving half a continent and breaking down less than fifteen miles from your destination. “How are you?”
Cam climbs out of the car and takes a few steps towards John. He hates this, the first few minutes that they’re together after being apart for so long. They’ve never made each other any promises, and it’s not like they’ve ever been more than a casual hookup here and there, but Cam always wants to give John a good hug and isn’t quite sure if it would be welcomed. “I think the more important question is, how are you?”
John shrugs. “I’ll be better in twenty minutes when we’re back at your place.”
Cam huffs out a laugh and opens the back seat. “Stow your stuff and get in. You’ve called for a tow truck?”
John nods as he tosses a bag into the back seat. “They’re probably about five minutes out.” Cam goes to close the door, but John catches it before it swings shut. He grabs another bag out of the back of his car, and then another. Cam can feel his eyebrows climb higher and higher on his face as John keeps loading things into the back of the car. He doesn’t meet Cam’s eyes once.
“So I retired,” he finally says, staring down the road. “As of the end of next month, I’m officially out of the Air Force.”
Cam can’t tell what kind of face he’s making, but it must be something to see, because John glances at him and hurries to add, “I didn’t get kicked out or anything, Cam. I just – enough is enough, right? I’ve got more than my twenty years in, the war with the Wraith is done, and I’ve made it further in my career than I ever thought I would. I took all of the leave that I had saved up, and my paperwork has already been submitted.”
“A week or two,” Cam says, recalling what John had said when he’d first called. “You’re looking to hang around for a week or two before, what, you go on some great road trip?” John raises an eyebrow at him, glances at the broken-down car, and looks back at Cam. Cam refuses to rise to the bait. “What’s going on here, John?”
John opens his mouth, but before he can say anything, there’s a beep and flashing lights as the tow truck rounds the bend. The next few minutes are spent hashing out details, and by the time they’re packed into Cam’s car, watching the tow truck lumber down the road with John’s beat-up rental on the back, it feels like John is on edge.
“Look,” he says when the tow truck turns out of sight. “I took a job as a civilian contractor with the SGC, so I’m sticking around for the foreseeable future. I just need a place to crash until I can find an apartment in town, and if you’d rather I stay on base-”
“John,” Cam interrupts, leaning across the center console and grabbing at John’s shoulder, “shut up.”
John leans the last few inches in and kisses him, careful and slow, like he isn’t sure that he’s allowed. Cam leans in a little further, slides his hand up into John’s hair, pushes until John sighs and opens his mouth.
“You can stay for however long you need to stay,” Cam says quietly when they break apart. He’s still right in John’s space, and he doesn’t miss the flicker in John’s eyes. “I’m not asking for anything,” he adds, and John’s shoulders slump a little, like it’s the answer to a question he didn’t know how to ask.
“I’ll look for a place,” John says again. “I don’t want to just-”
Cam leans in and kisses him again. “We’ll see where things go,” he says. He waits until John nods before smiling. “And hey, the invitation’s open, so if you get tired of sleeping on the couch-”
This time it’s John who leans in with a smile. “Sounds good to me.”