After Carson crash-landed John's city—
["Thanks a lot, pal."
"Oh, it was no trouble at all. And where were you, Colonel? Thank you very much."]
—the IOA only had a short window to get their declassification duckies all in a row. It was hard to hide an entire city, after all, especially a giant floating one.
They managed by the skin of their teeth, though, made it a pretty graceful unveiling, and John didn't mind so much the junkets they sent him on, despite the damned regulation haircut. The IOA press rep didn't fuss over him too much, and shoved Cam Mitchell to the fore, saying Cam was more "image-worthy."
John had fun ragging Cam behind the scenes, but poor Cam didn't have the gene, and it was up to John to fly them from city to city in puddlejumper one, sparing both of them the agony of dealing with commercial flights and TSA bullshit and possible security issues.
["Got your hair all shiny there, Airman?"
"Just shut up and drive, Sheppard."]
Cam was generally in a pretty pissy mood since he was always in the hot seat for interviews; O'Neill would have been, but he was in D.C. dealing with world leader politicos; Carter would have been, but she'd put her foot down early on, not wanting to be pulled away from declassifying on the science side.
Rodney was dying to be out in front of the cameras, but even he had to admit he had a small problem with verbal continence, and most of these things were broadcast live.
So it was just John and Cam in dress mess, starched and sweating and wearing make-up, for Chrissake, under the studio lights, while Cam did his apple pie best to charm the host of the evening and John tried not to slouch or smirk or think too much about how close he'd been to pulling the plug on his entire team, how he'd thought Ronon was dead already, how far away his life was right now.
How close Earth had been to losing all of this—studio audiences and cue cards and ripples of laughter to bad jokes on current events.
"—hear the President plans to award you the Air Force Medal of Honor?"
"Colonel?" It looked like Cam might be smirking at him.
"What?" Rewinding, John said hastily, "No, no, I hadn't—uh, I doubt that. I haven't heard anything about it."
"Well, you did save the planet." Okay, now Cam definitely was smirking, the turn-coat.
"Hey, that's your job—I'm not even in this galaxy most of the time."
"So, you were just in the neighborhood?" Kimmel was grinning at them both. "Isn't the Medal of Honor usually awarded posthumously?"
"Yeah, so..." Cam bit his lip.
"So I should just drop dead, is what you're saying." John raised an eyebrow at Cam, and Cam busted out laughing with the audience. Kimmel took the opportunity to cut to a commercial.
John shook his head while Kimmel leaned over to say something to Cam. The band was playing a swinging version of "Major Tom," by Bowie. Good choice, if a little creepy.
"Seriously, you made that up, right?" Cam was saying to Kimmel, who tapped his pen against stack of papers on his desk. John had always figured it was a prop; now that he was facing the audience, he could see the teleprompter plain as day. But Kimmel held up the top sheet and waggled it at Cam.
"Nope. I have my sources."
"Christ, John," Cam said under his breath.
"I know. Jesus." No way it could be true, John thought. O'Neill had saved the planet twenty times over and didn't have a Medal of Honor. Then again, now that the program was declassified, maybe the President would finally go around awarding medals. But hell if John deserved to be in the first batch.
"I mean, the first time you saved the planet you were in rehab for almost a year," John said quietly. Not quietly enough, apparently, because Kimmel's eyebrows went up and he scribbled a note on his sheet.
Cam gave John a betrayed glare, but as Kimmel started the next segment, John hoped the President was tuned in.
"That was a low-down, dirty-trick you pulled," Cam said as they changed back into their civvies in the green room.
"Yup," John said, already way ahead since he kept a bunch of spare dress shirts on board and tended to just stuff his old one in his duffle. He could never understand why Cam put his back on the hanger when he'd just be sending it out to be cleaned and pressed again. John took advantage of the free time to sneak a look at Cam's ass in just his boxer briefs, careful to keep his head down while he was doing it.
He stuffed his feet in his boots after getting his jeans on, and by the time he looked up again, Cam was sitting down and putting on a pair of sneakers.
"So where we heading tonight?"
John pulled out his PDA and squinted. "Back to New York, I think. We've got David Letterman next. Apparently you can't do Kimmel without doing Letterman or the galaxy explodes."
"How the hell do you know this shit? You haven't even been on Earth two weeks."
"Beatrice knows. Beatrice—"
"—knows all. Yeah, I know." Cam shared a wry look with him. Their press agent was smart and sassy and very New York. She also didn't take shit from either of them, and reminded John a little of Vega.
Thinking about her reminded him he still owed a trip to her family.
"Hey, as long as we're hitting NYC, how would you feel about a little side-trip to New Jersey?"
The show was pre-taped, so it was still early out as they set off, leaving the sunset at their backs and the Earth crossing into nightfall below. 'Racing the moon,' John's flight instructor had always called it, the strange sight of moonrise peeling the dark from the nose of the little ship, and John looked over to see Cam smiling in appreciation as well.
John grinned, figuring it had been worth it to file a flight plan this time and not go atmospheric, just to see that smile.
Jersey City was hot and humid and smelled like sausage, at least in the part of town they landed in.
"You sure you got the right place?" Cam looked around skeptically after they changed back into their uniforms and walked down the rear hatch.
"Yeah. I mapped it on the phone they gave me." What John didn't mention, because it was weirder than words, was how, once John had mapped it on the phone, the HUD had picked up the location from John's mind and brought them the rest of the way, almost like it had synced with the phone through John's brain.
"How come you never got the gene therapy?" he asked idly as he flipped on the cloak and watched the jumper shimmer out of existence.
"I dunno. Been thinking about it, especially since you've been showing off that sweet ride of yours."
"Zero to mach one in under ten seconds," John bragged, making Cam groan.
They climbed over the low fence of the park together, Cam bitching about wrinkling his uniform.
"Hey, so, this is it," John said a couple of minutes later, stopping in front of the humble red painted door. "You don't have to come in with me."
"Didn't get duded up in my mess dress for nothing."
"Well. I appreciate it," John said. He really did. No one enjoyed these calls, and it wasn't like Vega was under Cam's command. Having a second here was respectful, though, and besides—John was glad for the support.
He gave the doorbell a ring and stepped back.
The small Latina woman who answered frowned at them both before her face smoothed.
"Mrs. Vega? I'm Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard, and this is Lieutenant Colonel Cameron Mitchell."
She nodded. "They already sent someone about my Alicia."
"Yes, I know, ma'am. I was Captain Vega's commanding officer at her last posting. Would you mind if we came in for just a moment?"
Pulling back with another frown, she led them up a narrow stairwell into a small apartment. The air was rich with the smell of cooking meat, and John's stomach grumbled. He felt Cam's elbow give him a poke.
Mrs. Vega gestured at them to sit down on a small, worn couch. John ended up shoulder to shoulder with Cam, while Mrs. Vega sat across from them in a tall armchair.
"Mrs. Vega, the reason why we're here—"
"You come to tell me why my Alicia died? After she joined the marines to put her hermanito, Alejandro, through school?"
John took a deep breath. "Yes, ma'am. I was with her when she died. She died protecting a civilian's life. I wanted to tell you—I came to let you know that it was very fast. She didn't feel anything. In the time I ran over to her, she was already gone. I thought—these are the things a mother wants to know." He looked up, worried, but Mrs. Vega wasn't crying; her face was almost severe, her eyes dark and unwavering.
"Yes, I want to know. They told me very little."
"Also, I wanted to tell you of another time, when other soldiers and civilians were trapped in a collapsed building, she defended us against the enemy, and made an almost impossible shot against an enemy craft..."
"Okay, I seriously need a drink."
"I'm thinking we head toward the bright lights." Cam shoved him with a shoulder and they started walking down the street. Eventually they hit a busy cross street, and a block and a half later Cam grinned and pointed over at a neon sign.
Once they were settled in their stools, beers in hand, Cam said, "Is that true, what you told her?"
"I wouldn't lie to a marine mom. Vega took down a wraith dart with nothing but an M4. I read about it after the fact, of course, but it was in Carter's report. If Vega hadn't bought the engineers time they wouldn't have been able to extract Lorne and McKay before the hybrids got 'em."
Cam took a sip of his beer. "Good of you to come out here and tell the lady, in so many declassified words."
"Thanks for coming with." John tipped his glass against Cam's.
A little worn out, John let his eyes focus on the TV above the bar, which had segued from baseball to news highlights. So much of the news felt foreign to him; it was like watching events on an alien culture, people and places wholly disconnected from him.
So, it took him a moment to register the next item. "In a major victory for gay rights advocates as well as the president, the Senate today voted to repeal the military's 'don't ask, don't tell' policy banning gay men and women from serving openly in the military. The House passed its version of the bill on Wednesday. Now that the repeal bill has overcome its final hurdle in Congress, the president is expected to sign the measure into law next week."
He figured he should say something, some joke, something, but the moment passed, and he was still too quiet, too frozen in shock. Then he realized Cam wasn't saying anything either, but John couldn't quite look at him. He looked down, instead, and saw, to his amazement, that Cam was holding two fingers deliberately against the bar in front of his beer bottle.
Two fingers. Two fingers for bi. Jesus, Cam was bi.
John wondered how long Cam had been waiting with the branch extended, and hoped it hadn't been too long. He let go of his beer bottle and put down his own two fingers in a 'V', letting one finger nudge against Cam's.
Out of the corner of his eye, John saw Cam's cheek lift in a smile.
John cleared his throat. "Guess we'd better get back to the jumper before someone bumps into it."
"Thanks for the beer."
John didn't say anything as they walked back toward the jumper. Cam didn't seem inclined to either, although he looked over every so often. Maybe he was as paranoid as John, or maybe he was mulling things over.
Anticipation edged John's gut, but it was tempered with a good dose of caution. He and Cam had weeks left to go on this press junket, and then John was hoping to head back to Pegasus with Atlantis, assuming he didn't get reassigned. The eyes of the world were on them—mostly on Cam, but on John as well. They needed to get the job done right, and they needed to get along in order to do so.
Anyway, no telling if Cam was even into him, although by the glances he kept throwing over, John had a chance. It was either that or there was something stuck to the seat of John's pants.
As they approached the park, Cam suddenly shot him a grin, then gave a whoop and ran forward to hurdle the fence one-handed.
John couldn't let him get away with that shit. He took three running steps and followed suit, then thumbed the remote and kept on running, the ramp opening as the jumper shimmered into sight. He heard Cam charging up behind him, but John was already inside and digging through their stores for the bottle of single malt he'd squirreled away.
"Oh, yeah," Cam said when John brought it out. "Now you're talking."
John handed it over and dragged open his pack to change out of his uniform. He'd been wearing this starched get-up too many hours today was craving soft black cotton and a pair of jeans. He got his jacket off right away and tossed it up onto the rack.
Sparing a glance over as he rummaged, he saw Cam slouched on the bench, legs spread wide and the bottle resting on one thigh, a quizzical look on his face.
"What?" John dragged out his T-shirt and jeans and tried to ignore the way Cam's uniform was pulling tight on his muscular legs. Somehow between the bar and the jumper John had cooled off, only that was just his head. His dick was thinking Cam Mitchell, jacket open, tie loosened and sucking on a bottle of whiskey was one goddamned sexy sight he should take advantage of.
"You thought about it too much, didn't you? And now you're wussin' out."
John dropped his bag. "Am not."
Cam raised one eyebrow—or tried to. The other one seemed to want to come with. "Oh, is that right? You always get a gal drunk and bring her back to your Chevy just to start messing with your laundry?"
Except by the time Cam got to "laundry" John was kneeling on the jumper seat and had Cam shoved into the corner.
"You take that back." John had one hand on Cam's chest and could feel his warm skin through his shirt. "My jumper ain't no Chevy."
Cam laughed a little and licked his lips, his blue eyes bright.
John ducked his head and kissed him.
Cam's lips were soft and warm and also wild and eager, a little rough with stubble around the edges. It had been too damned long since John had kissed a man, and he groaned when Cam sank his fingers in his hair to hold him steady into the kiss. So damned good. John didn't even mind the way all those damned medals kept jabbing him in the chest; not at first, anyway, not as long as Cam would keep pushing his tongue in John's mouth like that.
It was Cam who broke first, shoving him off to bitch, "This bench is too damned hard. You got a sleeping bag or something we can throw on the floor?"
"I swear to God," John said, mouth still tingling from the kiss. "You are such a princess." He got up and started searching through the compartments. "I'll find you a pillow for your pretty behind."
"Yak, yak, yak. Less talk and more do."
But there was nothing in the overheads. They'd pretty much cleared the jumper of anything but emergency supplies for the trip.
"All right. Hang on, I've got an idea," John said, and headed to the front. "This will knock your socks off."
"I'm working on that myself," Cam said. His voice sounded oddly muffled, and John spared a glance over his shoulder to see Cam was shrugging out of his undershirt, muscles working on his tanned chest.
John swallowed and bumped up the environmental controls. "Okay, so, the FCC hates it when I pull this shit without a flight plan, but we're well away from Newark and I've got their FlightTracker program locked into the HUD." He eased up on the yoke and put them into a straight vertical, grinning when Cam whooped it up behind him.
"Zero to atmospheric in under twenty," John said under his breath. "You can't say I don't know how to show you a good time."
"We going to a no-tell motel?" Cam plopped into the co-pilot's seat wearing a white T-shirt and a really, really faded pair of blue jeans. The knees were so worn John could see Cam's skin between the threads. It was a hell of a look on him, and John had to force his eyes back to the port. "Where are we heading?" Cam asked.
"Can't you guess?" She was so big and bright, already filling the port, and Cam gave him a disbelieving grin. "Pick a crater, any crater."
He'd been kidding, but Cam said breathlessly, "Tycho." And, when John frowned, pointed. "The bright one on the bottom there."
"Tycho it is."
He let Cam guide him in, and even though John had started this whole thing as kind of a gag, he had to admit at this point he was as breathlessly excited as Cam was. He couldn't tell how much of his hard-on was for Cam, and how much was for the fact he was landing on the fucking moon. Christ, he'd been to a different galaxy, countless planets with multiple suns, crash-landed a space shuttle and almost been nuked more times than he could count, but somehow landing on Earth's moon was turning into the most exciting moment of his life.
And maybe Cam's too, from the way the guy was gripping the yoke he couldn't even use.
John eased the jumper down and a cloud of dirt rose and then settled oh, so slowly with the same graceful laziness he'd seen from countless viewings of Apollo mission footage.
"Holy Jesus," Cam said.
"1/6th gravity," John said, then reached for the inertial dampener controls and, yeah, he could have accomplished this without even leaving Earth, but this was much, much more fun. "You ready for this?"
"Oh, crap. We'd better go in back and stow everything first. Including that bottle of whiskey."
Cam laughed and they both jumped up and made fast work of it, battening down everything loose or stuffing things into compartments.
Then John went back in front and said, "Ready?"
"Do it up."
John turned off the inertial dampeners. His feet immediately began to tingle oddly, and he felt light-headed. He put a hand out, grabbing the chair, and spun almost one-eighty.
He heard Cam laughing, and turned to see him doing a handstand.
John chuckled and bounded over in two long steps, but overshot and found himself tumbling into Cam, who grabbed him on the way down. They bounced gently onto the deck, and then Cam climbed over him to grab his shoulders and laugh into his face.
"Okay," Cam said when they were done snickering. "I admit it: you really know how to impress a guy."
Somewhere between the Earth and the moon John had outraced his own fears, and this no longer seemed like a bad idea. It seemed like the best idea in this galaxy or the next, maybe because Cam just made things seem so damned easy. John only hoped Cam felt the same way about the whole thing.
John shrugged, but he knew his face was giving away more than he wanted, because Cam frowned and said, "Like you needed to. Had my eye on you ever since we came out to Pegasus to play with your spare gate."
John let his hand slide down Cam's back until it rested on his firm, rounded ass. Then he raised one eyebrow.
"Heh. Funny." Cam leaned down to kiss him, and John closed his eyes and sank into it, the feel of Cam's muscular, broad chest flexing against his, lips and tongue wet and whiskey-sweet. They started to inch across the floor of the jumper, and John wrapped his legs around Cam's so they'd stay together. It also brought their groins in tight, and the pressure felt so damned good John made a noise deep in his throat.
He heard Cam echo it back, and then Cam was lifting himself away, saying, "Let's commence stage two of this launch." As John watched, he pushed up to his feet, hovering in the air for a moment as he stripped his shirt.
John hastily did the same. His uniform shirt was a wreck, but that didn't matter so much as his slacks, which were wrinkled and dusty. They'd better hit a hotel tonight or they'd be in trouble by showtime tomorrow.
Funny how he didn't give much of a shit though, watching Cam's tan-line appear as he shucked his pants and his boxer briefs started to go. John looked down and kicked out of his dress shoes and pants, leaving him in just his boxers and dog tags. Finally he dumped those and watched them land slowly on the deck.
"Finally," Cam said, and John's brain echoed the sentiment when he suddenly had his arms full of warm, smooth skin and they settled on their piles of clothing.
It was so different having a hard chest against his own. John arched his back just to feel the way their chest hairs crinkled together, to feel Cam's nipples harden against his skin. Best of all, looking down and watching their two flushed, hard cocks rubbing together.
Cam was cut, too, and about the same width. John figured Cam would kill him if he said it out loud, but they were a pretty sight together, both heads with liquid hanging in the slits as they flexed against each other.
"You done staring, or can we start this rodeo?" Cam said, sounding both turned on and amused.
In answer, John distracted him with another kiss as he reached down and took them both in hand. He gave them both a good squeeze and a pull, and felt both his own pleasure and Cam's echoing into his mouth on a groan.
"Do me like that, just like that," Cam said, and John grinned and started to do just that, jerking them both, two hard cocks in his hand, and a hot mouth on his own, just the way he liked it. He reached around with his other hand and let his fingers slip down between Cam's cheeks, and earned himself a low, thrilled, "Oh, yeah, babe," that encouraged him to finger Cam's hole while he kept stroking. He kissed the edge of Cam's mouth, licked at his tongue that kept peeking out, and watched Cam's face flush red.
"Fuck, John," Cam said, and John go of himself so he could work Cam nice and slow, leaning back and watching as Cam's dick spurted, his come drifting crazily in the low gravity. John thumbed the crown and Cam's cock gave another hard pulse in John's hand, Cam squeezing his shoulder and moaning before collapsing back with a sigh.
"Pretty," John said breathlessly, because it surely was, and he was so turned on he'd almost come in pure sympathy. He ignored the weak whack Cam gave him, and reached down to finish himself off, but Cam's hand got in the way.
"My turn at the controls." Cam's hand was slick with his own come, and John gave a soft grunt of gratitude because it felt goddamned fine having someone else's touch on him, firm and just a little bit rough. He jumped a little bit when Cam's other hand slipped below his balls, pressing up hard, just exactly right.
"Oh, Christ, yes," John said.
"You want a finger?" Cam asked, and John didn't open his eyes, just nodded. A moment later, slick and sweet, Cam's finger slid in, just far enough to make him groan, and it didn't take much after that, with Cam's firm grip tugging just below the head and his finger stroking right there, for John to shoot off like the Fourth of July.
"You were right about the pretty," Cam said a few minutes later while John was still coming down. He'd produced some fast food wet wipes from somewhere and had thrown a couple to drift down onto John's chest. John was discovering that wet wipes didn't do much for sopping up anti-gravity come, and from Cam's smirk, he'd found that out a few minutes earlier.
"Come here, you bastard," John said, and managed to smear himself all over Cam in the process of trying to kiss the smirk off his face.
"So, I've been thinking about it," Cam said after he'd put his T-shirt on and was sucking down some of John's whiskey. "And I've decided you're a pretty classy guy in spite of getting me drunk and having your way with me."
"Oh, yeah? What was the tipping point? The trip to the moon in the ten thousand year-old space ship?"
John frowned and thought harder. "The fact I made sure you came first?"
"No, but that was nice of ya. Thanks." Cam grinned.
"How about when I gave you that lemon to protect you from McKay."
"Close, but no cigar. No, I think it was that you bought me eighteen year-old scotch."
"Oh, yeah." John smiled. "I guess I am a pretty classy guy."
"Now hand over that bottle."
They did manage to find a hotel and park on the roof, get their uniforms pressed, grab four hours of shut-eye and still make it to the Letterman taping on time.
Dave was a real card. No, really.
"And now, the Top Ten Things You Don't Want to Hear When Going Through A Wormhole, as read by Lieutenant Colonels Cameron Mitchell and John Sheppard of Stargate Command!"
Cameron: "Number ten: 'Looks like we've reached the small intestine!'"
John: "Number nine: 'I think I left the oven on.'"
Cameron: "Number eight: 'No! Not IUD, you idiot! IDC!'"
John: "Number seven: 'Roaming charges? What do you mean there are roaming charges?'"
Cameron: "Number six: 'What's all this sticky stuff'?"
John: "Number five: 'Why is our greeting party wearing goatees?'"
Cameron: "Number four: Oh, crap, the SGC forgot to pay the electric bill.'"
John: "Number three: 'Tell Jodie Foster her dad wants to talk to her.'"
Cameron: "Number two: 'Wait! What does "space gate" mean again?'"
Dave: "And the Number One Thing You Don't Want to Hear When Going Through a Wormhole:"
John: "Hi, Honey, I'm ho—"
"Three more weeks of this, huh? Then what?" Cam was sitting on the couch eating Fritos, an athletic sock hanging half off his foot on the floor, the other foot bare and propped up on the coffee table. John was finding it really hard not to just sit and stare at him. Actually, all through Letterman he'd had that difficulty, which would have been a real problem considering DADT was still on the books, no matter what the president would be signing this week. Possibly.
"For me, hopefully, back to Atlantis, then getting Atlantis back to Pegasus."
"You don't think they'll reassign you after all this?"
"Maybe, although considering the gene, there's not a lot they could do with me Earthside. The chair is gone." John shrugged.
"There's Ancient tech in the Milky Way," Cam argued softly. John looked over in surprise.
Same stupid sock was half off Cam's foot. John walked over and sat down next to him, felt Cam settle in so they fit a little better. Hesitantly, John put an arm around him, and Cam moved so he was resting back against John, that same stupid sock-foot now propped over the arm of the couch.
This was comfortable. John took a deep breath, let it out.
"Don't know what's going to happen," he said, and felt Cam tense up a little. "But whatever does, we'll figure something out."
Cam went loose, his arm relaxing under John's.
John remembered the light of the moon racing across the nose of their ship, and smiled.