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Picture in a Picture Show

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“All right, tell me what I should expect from the seventh annual Mitchell Family Picture Show.” John was sprawled out on Cam’s couch playing Angry Birds on his iPad.

“Well, a few years back, after having to sit through one too many of Cousin Etta’s five-hour-long post-vacation picture shows, Mom and Dad decided that they would start hosting the annual Mitchell Family Picture Show - everyone is allotted 30-45 minutes to show a selection of pictures from any and all vacations taken in the last year. This way everyone gets to share their vacations but no one has the obligation of sitting through hours of pictures multiple times a year.” Cam was sitting on his recliner playing Uncharted 3.

“Cool. There’s food, right?” John’s stomach rumbled as he spoke because he hadn’t eaten since he came through the gate from Pegasus a few hours before. He’d gotten into the Mountain, finished his paperwork, and headed off to Cam’s apartment. They were staying there for the night before they took off for Kansas tomorrow. They were roadtripping it to Cam’s parents with no real set path except they had to be in Kansas in four days for the big event on Saturday.

“Yes, and tell your stomach to stop grumbling - pizza should be here,” Cam paused as the doorbell rang, “now.” Cam got up from the couch to go answer the door and pay the pizza man and John headed into the kitchen to get plates and napkins.

“We should probably go through the picture show Sam prepared for us.” Cam said, after they had settled back in on the couch with their pizza.

“What?” John choked on his pizza a little as he spoke.

“It’s the annual Mitchell Family Picture Show - everyone must participate. No exceptions. Mom’s rules. And you do not want to disappoint my mother.” Cam got up from the couch, grabbed a DVD off the entry table, popped it in the DVD player, and started hunting around for the remote.

“But we haven’t be on any vacations this year - or any year - this is our vacation, and any pictures that might even exist are most certainly classified.” John was still trying to wrap his head around the idea that they had to participate. Like his team, Sam and the rest of SG-1 were among the few that knew the true nature of John and Cam’s relationship, so he wasn’t worried about that, but the idea of putting pictures, however fabricated, before Mitchell’s family was a bit daunting.

“It’ll be fine, Sheppard. I’m sure whatever Sam put together for us is extremely tasteful and respectful of our desire to keep our relationship status low-key.” Cam finally found the remote and started up the DVD.

Sam had clearly gone all out on the DVD - music started playing as the first picture popped up on the screen. It was a picture of John and Cam fishing that must have been taken when SG-1 visited Atlantis earlier this year. Sam had edited out any and all signs of Atlantis, and instead it looked like they were fishing in a mountain lake.

“So far, so good.” John said, even though he had only seen one picture. “Sam is great with the Photoshop, but I’m not crazy about that shirt she put me in. How did you luck out with the normal clothing?” Sam had replaced their uniforms with causal clothing - John was wearing a hideous floral shirt with his cargo pants and Cam was wearing a t-shirt and jeans.

“Carter just likes me better.” Cam grinned as he spoke. “Also, I wasn’t the one who laughed at her when she came back from that off-world trip with Ronon and Vala wearing the Pegasus equivalent of a Hawaiian-printed muumuu. Don’t think she’s forgiven you for that one yet.”

“Oh come on,” John said as the next picture popped up, which was clearly from the same ‘mountain vacation,’ but this time they were hiking and John was wearing white shoes, black socks, and a fanny pack, where as Cam looked straight out of a Patagonia catalog. John was even more impressed with Sam’s Photoshop skills as even the body types she had put their heads on looked real, except for the clothing.

“Ha!” Cam couldn’t contain his laughter and was laughing hard on the other end of the couch. John whacked him in the arm and Cam grabbed it and dragged him over to Cam’s side of the couch. “It’s not that bad, Sheppard. So my family will think you’re a little clothing-challenged. Wait until you see what Cousin Murray is wearing in their picture show.”

“Isn’t your cousin 78 years old, half-deaf and nearly blind? Thanks, Mitchell.” John tried to scoot away to sulk on his side of the couch, but Cam held him in place, pressed up again his side with his arm around John.

“Come on, John, this is fun. And Sam and Teal’c really had a fun time putting this together for us.” Cam squeezed him as he spoke.

“Oh, Teal’c helped - that explains the floral shirts.” Three more pictures had gone by in which Cam was dressed like a perfectly normal person and John was dressed like a bad parody of an American tourist aboard.

They finished the mountain vacation, which John learned from Cam was in Banff, Canada. Thankfully, Sam had left them a cheat sheet of where all of the pictures were taken, as well as key facts about each location, so they could answer any questions people asked. The pictures moved on to their . . . “Where are these supposed to be?” John couldn’t figure it out from the first picture, in which he was standing next to a horse wearing something straight out of City Slickers.

“That is our -” Cam paused to consult the cheat sheet “dude ranch vacation, with Sam, Teal’c, Vala and Daniel.”

“Nice. You look like the Marlboro Man and I look like Billy Crystal. And I see Teal’c and Daniel put themselves into straight-up old-school John Wayne apparel.” The picture of Teal’c and Daniel was pretty awesome - they were riding horses and looked like they just walked off the studio lot. “The Photoshopping is excellent.”

“Oh, that’s not Photoshop.” Cam looked down at John and grinned while he spoke. “Last year, for Teal’c’s birthday, Vala and Daniel took him to a working dude ranch. Though it turns out that the only reason Vala agreed to go was some rumor about buried gold that she had heard from Reynolds on SG-2, and then there was some drama with the local sheriff and General Landry had to bail them all out of jail, but Teal’c got to be John Wayne for a day before everything went sideways, so he was quite pleased with the adventure.”

“Of course that actually happened.” John laughed and snuggled in closer to Cam and watched as their dude ranch vacation went by. There was a fantastic sepia-toned picture of the whole group wearing period clothing. Sam and Vala were dressed like saloon girls, Cam, Daniel, and Teal’c were dressed like gun slingers, and John was frowning in the back (Sam had taken his head from his security badge picture, which was not his finest photographic moment) looking like a member of a barber shop quartet.

A few more vacations went by - beach vacation (in which Cam was photoshopped into into pictures from last year’s expedition barbecue on New Athos), skiing vacation (in which John was pretty sure his head was Photoshopped on a lady’s body), and finally pictures from their visit to what appeared to be the world’s largest ball of twine.

“We have certainly taken a lot of vacations for two Air Force colonels who actually never get any time off, and also, I’m surprised Sam didn’t throw one in where you lost your pants.” John grinned and braced for the smack on his arm that was surely to come from that one.

“Har de har har har. I have lost my pants exactly twice and no one will ever let me forget it! Also, she did that a few years ago - my grandpop almost had apoplexy, told me this was a family event and no one needed to see me in my skivvies, so I asked Sam to refrain from anything other than plain vanilla this year. To answer your other question, I haven’t been in a few years so everyone demanded I make up for it this year and include everything from the past four years.”

“Gotcha. Well, this is going to be interesting. After watching this particular show, I have no idea what your family is going to think of us. I need to rethink my wardrobe of black t-shirts and jeans to match the colorfully dressed man in those pictures.” John actually had no intention of changing his clothing (which he knew Cam knew) but the pictures had been ridiculous.

“They are going to think that we are two fine young Air Force officers who go on vacations with our friends and lead normal, everyday lives. No Wraith, no Ori, no Asurans, nothing out of the ordinary for us.” Cam turned off the TV and DVD player, put the remote down, and started running his fingers through John’s hair. “I really am looking forward to this vacation - we could actually visit the World’s Largest Ball of Twine - one of them is in Cawker City, Kansas. It’s an easy stop on our way to my parents.”

“Of course it is. Sure, let’s go. I’m looking forward to a few days on the open road, you, me, some camping, some hotels,” John grinned lasciviously at Cam as he spoke, “and maybe even a few shady motels.” Cam was still playing with John’s hair, so John titled his head up when he finishing speaking and Cam leaned down and kissed him.

This was their first real vacation where they were just John and Cam. Colonel Mitchell and Colonel Sheppard were getting left in Colorado. John was hoping that the actual vacation turned out as great as the fake ones Sam had concocted (minus the ugly clothing of course).