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Fanfiction: Broken Wings, Chapter 9

For author's note and disclaimer see Chapter 1


Cam was dreaming. He knew he was dreaming. He'd had this dream a lot.

He was aboard the Odyssey in the Ori galaxy. The ship was under attack from Replicators inside and from the Ori outside. He hoped Sam could find the shutdown code and destroy the Replicators before they took complete control of the ship; hoped Daniel, Teal'c and Vala had found the damn Ark to take care of the Ori before they blew the Odyssey and her crew all to hell. In the meantime, he headed out to face down the Replicator Queen.

The corridors were dark and his footsteps were loud no matter how lightly he tried to tread. He'd left men to guard the Asgard core, had crew trapped all over the ship. He was alone. Surgical strike, he told himself; stupid reckless heroics, his inner Bryce shot back. He had a bomb in his hand; the distraction Sam had requested all prepared and ready to go. He could do this.

But there was a monster stood in the corridor. Cam could already feel his heart beating faster; the anticipation of pain and hurt.

The fight was brutal.

Hard floor, hard punches, hard walls. He could taste blood in his mouth, heavy and metallic. He knew he had cracked ribs. He was bruised everywhere. He was almost certain he'd wrenched his knee and sprained an ankle. But his finger was pressing down on the detonation button and there was heat and force and…

Cam came out of the dream between one breath and the next, a strangled scream caught in his throat. He was covered in sweat despite the air-conditioning; his body tangled into a knot with the sheet. He fought himself free, sat on the edge of his bed in his boxers and dog-tags. He reached shakily for the bottle of water he had on the bedside table. It took three goes before he got the plastic top off. He threw the cap across the room toward the waste basket in the corner and didn't watch it miss. He chugged back half of the bottle before rolling his head slowly, trying to ease the tension out of his neck muscles.

He shivered. A reaction to the chilled room and the sweat cooling on his body, he rationalised. It was nothing to do with his nightmare.

It wasn't even the worst of his regular nightmares. He had a list in his head, neatly categorised in order. Firing on a truck of refugees because of bad intelligence was at the top of the list; freezing to death trapped in a crashed 302 in the wasteland of Antarctica followed it. Losing Bryce came next – both the accident and the Godawful week before Bryce's death; the Replicator beating limped in a poor fifth.

He knew what had triggered it; the bug story. The Replicators weren't bugs but they looked like them. He had a clear memory of the spider and insect like metal creations the Replicators built converging on him when he'd been beaten and couldn't move.

At least, he hadn't turned into a bug. He shivered again.

Cam set the bottle down on the table and rubbed his hands over his face. He got up and padded across the room to the window. They were on the outskirts of the city in an exclusive apartment block where all the rooms had a fantastic view of the ocean. He looked out, separating the ground from the ocean, his eyes making out the gentle swell of waves in the darkness.

Maybe it was weird but the Lucien Alliance didn't feature all that much in his nightmares, Cam thought idly. He crossed his arms over his naked chest, and felt the cold press of metal from his dog-tags against his arm. He'd had his run-ins with them. Of all of them, Teal'c's experiences had been the worst – the Jaffa had spent multiple times in their torture chambers. Sam's were probably next given her experience when the Alliance had briefly taken control of the Odyssey and killed the then commander Paul Emerson. Cam had been undercover a few times but he'd always come out on top. The only time Cam had truly felt threatened by them if he was honest was when he'd stared down a bounty hunter in the middle of his high school reunion. Maybe after the revelations of their plot to abduct him he should reconsider that, Cam mused seriously. He was kind of awestruck and horrified to be at the centre of such focused planning.

A smile lifted his lips.

He would have loved to have seen the look on their faces when they'd realised all that planning was worthless; that Cam wasn't getting married, wasn't going on honeymoon, wasn't disappearing handily for a couple of weeks so they could kidnap, torture and brainwash him.

But Cam knew he wasn't out of the woods. He knew the Alliance. They didn't give up easily especially when they'd invested so much. In some respects, he knew that Woolsey was right; it would be more prudent for him to be recalled. He was pleased Sam had insisted they were given options; pleased John had agreed to stay with the original plan although he figured John wouldn't have minded having Ronon and Teal'c join them for extra back-up.

He tensed, frustrated at the way his whole being shied away from the idea of having others join them. He was being stupid. He knew that. He and John were trained but if the Alliance came in force without back-up on the ground, they'd need the emergency beam-out.

Which they had, Cam thought confidently. He was not completely stupid or reckless. And John's idea of Atlantis tracking them was a good contingency plan. Even so…Cam couldn't quite convince himself that he shouldn't just get over himself and agree to Ronon and Teal'c.


But he didn't want to.

Cam lurched away from the window and pulled on his jeans. He padded out of the bedroom, down the hall and into the open plan room that combined the den, kitchen and dining area. There was a wrap-around balcony with sun-loungers but Cam wasn't looking for a better view.

He flicked the large screen TV on, muted the sound immediately and found a sports channel. It was showing ice-skating. Not hockey. Figure skating; some championship event taking place in Europe from the strange language signs that were dotted about the arena on screen. But the looping and jumping were hypnotic and Cam slumped down on the butter-soft leather sofa to watch mindlessly.

Why didn't he want Ronon and Teal'c to join them?

His mind insisted on pressing the issue even though he wanted to switch off and not think about anything. But as it strayed across his thinking one more time, Cam sighed and gave in.

He knew part of it was that he'd enjoyed the last couple of days, Lucien Alliance shenanigans aside. John was easy company; smart, funny, and with enough flying, sport and pop culture knowledge that they'd never run out of things to talk about. Then there was the flying. He smiled at the twinge in his muscles. He loved the flying. He felt free and he didn't want to lose that by adding two bodyguards as a constant reminder of the threat of imminent abduction.

He also knew that it wasn't really anything to do with the two men themselves. True, he didn't really know Ronon but John and Teal'c both held him in high esteem and, from what little he did know, Ronon was a good man to have on their side and he wasn't the type to press for personal conversations and revelations. And Teal'c was Teal'c. He liked Teal'c. Teal'c was his team-mate after all…and right there was the main problem.

Because he didn't want his team-mates around. Just like he hadn't wanted them around at the farm. Just like he hadn't wanted to talk to them for months.

'There was a reason why Sam didn't talk to us.'

Daniel's words echoed in his head. Cam pressed his head back into the leather. This would be a lot easier if he knew why he didn't want to talk to his team-mates. He wondered instead about why Sam hadn't talked to the team. He had never talked to her about it, or talked to Daniel or to Teal'c about it either. It was in the past and it was something he was sure Sam didn't want dragged into the light again, but, alone with only the light from the TV screen, Cam gave into the urge to examine it.

Cam knew enough from what had been said in passing and, from what little Sam had said to him personally when she had informed him of her relationship with the General, to know that Sam had broken off her engagement to Pete Shanahan in part because she was in love with O'Neill and had been in love with him for a long while. And that right there, Cam thought, was more than enough reason why she had never spoken to the others about any doubts she'd had about marrying Pete. It had been a complete tangle of regulations and feelings which, if spoken about, would have changed the team regardless of the outcome of the conversation.

It would had been a hell of a risk to take, Cam mused, not only on a personal level but a professional one. There had been a war to fight; a mission. Just like Cam, Sam had taken an oath to put country before self. She couldn't risk the mission by changing her team dynamic; she had chosen instead to remain silent about her doubts, about her feelings, until the universe had given her a break and ended the war, allowing her the chance to breathe and speak out.

Sam's reasons for not talking to the team were a complex cauldron of duty, of honour, of fear in knowing that to speak would be the equivalent of throwing a rock in a pond that would create ripples of change that she couldn't control.

Something about that last thought felt familiar, recognisable. Cam wondered if that was what was underneath his own reticence. Was he afraid to throw a stone and create ripples? And if so, what stone had he been planning to throw if he'd talked with his team? And what ripples did he think it would create?

What was he afraid of?

He frowned at the TV screen as he pondered the question. He started when John threw open the door of the den and walked in, stumbling to an abrupt halt at the sight of Cam.

John was dressed in sleepwear; black t-shirt over sweatpants. His dark hair was stuck-up; his hazel eyes a little wild; his face was white under the shadow of his beard and the embarrassed flush darkening his cheeks.

Cam lifted a hand from his chest and gave a brief wave. Obviously he wasn't the only one having nightmares.

'I, uh, need some air.' John said, moving again swiftly to the outer door. He was through and onto the balcony before Cam could speak.

For a long moment, Cam stayed sunk into the leather of the sofa and not inclined to move. He wasn't John's keeper no matter that some of his motivation for asking John to come along on the trip had been to help John as much as himself. But as his eyes tracked back to the balcony, Cam could see the way John was braced, his body a tense curve as he lowered his head to his clasped hands on top of the metal railing.

Cam slowly stood, grimacing as his body creaked in protest. He stretched and walked over to the kitchen. He poured a carton of milk into a saucepan and set it on the stove to heat. He wasn't too surprised that John was having nightmares. John may not had found out that he was the target of a Lucien Alliance plot, but the threat of the Trust endangering John's brother and his family was real enough.

He remembered hearing John's raised voice through the office door and quietly shooing the airfield manager and the mechanics further into the hangar, distracting them with the plane. He shook his head at the memory of spending an hour that evening signing a document that said in John's absence, he'd be his power of attorney. He'd been a little alarmed that the bank accounts and stock portfolios he was looking after for John were valued in millions.

'Talk to Dave.' John had said when Cam had expressed some concern. 'He'll tell you what to do.'

Cam poured the milk into ceramic mugs and stopped by the bar at the back of the den to add a generous measure of whiskey into both. He headed out onto the balcony. The air was cool and his skin broke out in goose-bumps. He held out one mug to John.


John looked over his shoulder at him, took in the mug and straightened. 'Warm milk?'

'My Mom swears by it.' Cam said, walking forward to stand beside John at the railing. The air was so heavy with salt, Cam could almost taste it. He breathed in, and felt a breeze brush across his skin.

John took a sip and coughed, spluttering through it until he regained his breath. Cam didn't hide his grin when John shot a pissed look at him.

'And the whiskey?' John asked with a roughened voice.

'My own addition.' Cam admitted. 'I'm not sure Mom would approve.' He rested one foot on the lower railing and stared out into the night sky. The stars were almost obscured by cloud but he could see the odd one or two peeking out.

John took another cautious sip and rested his hip against the metal barrier.

'Nightmare?' Cam asked casually.

John grimaced, a wry twist of his lips. 'There's a reason I don't usually tell the bug story.'

Cam nodded and swallowed down some of the laced milk.

'You?' John said tentatively.

Cam lifted a shoulder in answer. 'There's a bug story I didn't tell.'

John's face settled into understanding lines, his body relaxing into a fluid slouch. 'We're a pair, aren't we?'

The dry comment brought a smile to Cam's face. 'It's part of the job.'

He was certain anyone who served in the programme had nightmares; knew his team did. Off-world, alone in tents, it wasn't easy to hide when someone woke up, screaming or breathless; when someone slept moaning and restless. He was used to Daniel's firm hand on his shoulder, waking him up or steadying him back to sleep; used to Teal'c calming Daniel with soothing low tones, or Vala cuddling into Teal'c as though he was nothing more than a Jaffa-shaped teddy-bear, or Daniel drying Vala's tears. Cam knew he was second string most of the time. Daniel and Teal'c had known each other longer; Vala always wanted Daniel; Teal'c for some reason accepted that Sam had told Vala to take care of him.

'They really don't pay us enough.' John complained dryly.

Cam smiled because he knew neither of them was in it for the money. He drank his milk. He hadn't considered the consequences of his Get Sheppard Talking plan beyond his thought that it could help Sheppard talk without really talking. 'Maybe the story-telling isn't such a good idea.'

John shrugged. 'If it hadn't been that nightmare, it would have been something else.'

It was a startlingly honest comment that Cam wasn't expecting.

John glanced over at him, saw his surprise and raised his mug. 'It's been something of an information-packed day.'


'How are you doing with the whole company-Trust thing?' Cam asked, staring into the milky depths of his mug.

'Oh, you know,' John made a sweeping gesture with his mug which encompassed the view in front of them.

'That good, huh?' Cam said when John didn't say anything else.

'Better.' John quipped with a quirk of his eyebrows as he drained the last of his drink. He looked across at him. 'Uh, how were you doing with the whole kidnap plot-Alliance thing?'

Cam's lips twitched. 'Oh, you know.' He parroted back.

John smiled ruefully. 'That good, huh?'

'Better.' Cam completed the exchange.

It felt good when they both laughed.

'Actually, I'm surprisingly OK with the Alliance thing.' Cam admitted, changing positions as his left leg ached. 'Just…I'm worried about my folks.'

'You get hold of them earlier?' John asked, turning around to lean back against the railing.

Cam nodded. 'I talked to my Dad. He's more worried about Vala and Teyla than about him and Mom.'

'Teyla can take care of herself.' John confirmed. 'She beats up Ronon eight out of ten times.'

'And Vala's wily.' Cam said proudly.

'Like Wile E Coyote?' John teased.

Cam straightened. 'Like the Roadrunner.'

'Ah.' John looked down at his empty mug. 'Speaking of being wily, should you even be out on the balcony?'

Cam shrugged. 'They want me alive not dead.' He reached across and hit John lightly on the shoulder. 'And I didn't invite you on this trip to be my bodyguard so…'

'So, don't suggest that it might be wise for us to keep to the buddy system for the rest of the vacation?' John shot back undeterred.

Cam was not easily stirred to anger but there was a flicker of it in his gut; enough to know that maybe he wasn't quite as sangfroid about everything as he'd been telling himself since it had taken John less than five seconds to find the sore spot and to poke at most effectively. He resisted the urge to stalk inside and downed the rest of his milk, feeling the welcome burn of the whiskey.

'Look, I know how much this sucks,' John said, eyes averted as he gestured at him, 'and, honestly, I'm really not, uh, comfortable being the sensible one.'

Cam sighed. 'Maybe I've gotten too comfortable being the sensible one.'

And that was possibly more honest than Cam had meant to be; he'd surprised himself. It was weird because he'd never truly considered himself the sensible one in the team. If anything, Jaffa revenge aside, he assigned that role to Teal'c. But he was chagrined to realise that the last time he had given into his reckless side had been his decision to go off searching for the Replicator Queen alone, and before that…he'd had to be the sensible one in between Vala attempting to prove she belonged on SG1, Daniel going all Merlin on them, Sam getting lost in alternate universes, and Teal'c indulging his Jaffa revenge gig. He wasn't sure what that meant, if it meant anything.

John was looking at him and Cam was glad of the dark; he hoped it hid the flush suffusing his cheeks.

'I get that this,' John gestured expansively again, 'was supposed to be about flying and getting away from,' he searched for a word, 'responsibility,' he settled on eventually, 'but…' his voice trailed away.

'But.' Cam repeated softly. He turned away; back to the view. Because he knew that 'but' stood for 'Lucien Alliance' and 'threat on his life' and 'placing John in danger too.' That 'but' meant he should be sensible. He should acquiesce to Ronon and Teal'c; should make sure he wasn't alone to be grabbed at any moment. He didn't want to be sensible but there was more at stake here than him. He shoved away from the railing. 'You'll call Woolsey in the morning and get him to send Ronon and Teal'c?'

'Send Ronon and Teal'c where?' John sounded confused.

Cam's eyes snapped in John's direction, an angry retort on his lips which died the instant he realised that John was confused. Cam folded his arms around his torso, his left hand wrapped around his right bicep.

'I thought…isn't Ronon and Teal'c joining us the sensible thing to do?' Cam said quietly.

John's confusion dissipated rapidly; amusement sweeping over his face in its wake. 'I was talking about being sensible not sensible.'

That should have made no sense whatsoever but strangely Cam understood him.

'I mean, if you want to be that sensible, we could head for the nearest military base and give up on the vacation completely.'

And Cam rolled his eyes at John's mocking, letting go of some of the tension that knotted up his muscles. 'So, what are you suggesting?'

John scratched his shoulder idly. 'That we're sensible within the parameters of the mission.'

Cam's lips twitched at that. 'Parameters being…'

'We're on vacation and we're flying.' John listed out crisply.

'And the being sensible part?' Cam pressed.

John tilted his head and kept his eyes on Cam. 'We change up the flight plan every couple of days like we agreed with Richard. We start wearing the earpieces. Rodney tracks us in Atlantis.' He paused. 'You don't go anywhere alone.'

Cam chafed at the last part and he knew John knew that he chafed at that last part. 'This…' he struggled to put into words what he thought; what he felt, 'I just…this is your leave. I don't want you to feel obligated or responsible for me.'

'Mitchell,' John drawled tiredly, 'you agreed to be my power of attorney to help me out. I think I can cope with being your wingman while we are on leave.'

John looked as if he'd rather swallow nails than continue the conversation.

'Aren't you going to get sick of me?' Cam asked, not completely willing to concede out loud yet although he knew he would.

'I think I can handle it.' John said easily. There was a challenge in John's eyes; could Cam handle it?

'Fine.' Cam huffed out.

'Great,' John said forcefully, 'now can we please go back to where I'm not being the sensible one?'

Cam cocked his head and smirked at John. 'Think of it as being good practice. You have eagles now. People will expect you to be the sensible one.'

John looked suitably horrified.

'And talking of which…' Cam pointed with his empty mug toward the inside. He patted John's shoulder as he walked past him and back into the den. He stowed his mug in the kitchen sink and ended up back in the den. The TV was still on and Cam stretched out on the sofa.

He heard John come in and the click as the lock on the balcony door slid home. He wasn't really all that surprised when John drifted into the kitchen and began to clean up. Two days of vacation had already revealed John as a neat-freak. Some of it, Cam thought, was military; they'd been trained into square corners, tidy lockers and everything in its place. Of course, for some guys, it meant that they rebelled the instant they got space which wasn't military-owned, left their underwear on the floor and dirty dishes stacking up until they ran out of them. Bryce had been like that. Before their vacation, Cam would have guessed John would have been the same but he wasn't. John liked order. Cam was mildly amused by it given John's reputation as a maverick.

He fixed his gaze on the skating –seriously, was a body meant to twist that way? – and let himself drift, the sound of water running a weirdly domestic counterpoint in the background.

'Hey,' Cam called out, remembering John's confusion over Ronon and Teal'c, 'where did you think I meant to send Ronon and Teal'c?'

The water stopped and John walked back to the archway separating the den from the kitchen units. He was drying his hands on a towel. 'I thought you might want to send them to take over the surveillance on your, uh, Amy.'

It actually wasn't a bad idea. Cam would call Sam at a reasonable Colorado hour and suggest it, he decided. He said as much to John.

John settled on the two-seater sofa across from Cam and stretched out. He frowned at the TV. 'Is this…skating?'

'It's on the sports channel.' Cam said defensively.

John gave a disbelieving hnmpf but he didn't get up to find the remote. 'I think it would be sensible not to mention that we watched this to anyone.'

Cam silently agreed but for form he threw a cushion. 'See? You're getting the hang of this being sensible thing already.'

John snorted audibly at that.

'Who's the sensible one on your team anyway?' Cam asked, sleepily, and thinking he should know.

'Teyla.' John answered promptly. 'And it's worse now she has the whole Mom thing going for her. We suggest doing something the least bit risky and she mentions Torren. All of us are helpless before her even Rodney.'

There was a lot of fondness and affection in his voice. It warmed Cam; made him think of his own Mom and how sensible she was. There was an old feeling of safety associated with thoughts of his Mom and Cam felt the last tenuous hold of his nightmare slip away. He shifted on the cushions, easing his sore shoulder into a better position and fell asleep.

Chapter 10





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