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Fanfiction: Broken Wings, Chapter 18

For author's note and disclaimer see Chapter 1

Cam tried not to pace Amy's small den but it was hard to keep still. He glanced again at the clock. How long did it take to perform a za'tarc test anyway? He sighed and sat down on the leather sofa. He hunched over and pinched the bridge of his nose; there was a headache building behind his eyes.

It had taken all of his self-restraint and all of his patience to let John be the one to go after Lucy when she'd had Amy. But he'd remembered his conversation with Daniel and trusted John would bring Amy back – and John had. She'd been bruised; her knee and hand scraped from hitting hard concrete but she'd otherwise been unharmed bar the shock of Lucy's betrayal.

It hadn't taken one of Carolyn's people long at the scene to confirm that Amy wasn't a Goa'uld with the aid of advanced scanning technology. John had acquiesced to Cam escorting Amy home under the watchful eye of a team of Marines and Daniel so the za'tarc test could be administered. Paul Davis and a Tok'ra had arrived shortly after they had, and disappeared up the stairs with Amy. Cam had been shuttled into the den to wait.

He looked up hopefully at the sound of footsteps coming toward the door but it was only Daniel. His friend handed him a mug of coffee and took a seat beside him.

'You OK?' Daniel asked softly.

Cam glanced down at his bruised knuckles and shrugged. 'I'm fine.'

'That wasn't what I was referring to.' Daniel's raised eyebrow was a good imitation of Teal'c's.

'Just…worried.' Cam shook his head as he blew on the hot coffee. 'Amy didn't deserve to get caught up in all of this.'

Daniel nodded. 'It's not your fault.'

Cam knew that but it didn't make him feel better. 'I just hope…' he couldn't finish the sentence; that he hoped it had been Lucy manipulating Amy rather than brainwashing. He took another scalding sip of coffee. 'Did you speak to Teal'c?'

'Yeah,' Daniel wrapped his hands around his mug, 'Anne's out of surgery and doing well.' He frowned at Cam. 'The other Alliance operatives have all been transferred to the SGC for questioning about Lovell and the seventh member of the group. Hopefully, we'll be able to get them all.'

'You think I'm still in danger.' Cam surmised, leaning back and regarding Daniel fondly.

'I do.' Daniel pushed his glasses up his nose. 'They've gone to too much trouble to give up just because the majority of the cell is in a, well, cell.' His nose wrinkled.

Cam smiled back at Daniel. 'I only need to get through the next week or so.' He shrugged. 'I think we've damaged them enough that they're not going to be able to make another attempt that quickly.'

'You should still be careful when you and Sheppard start your vacation again.' Daniel cautioned, sinking back into the comfortable cushions.

'Yes, Mom.' Cam said dutifully.

Daniel shot him a look. 'I'm beginning to think Sheppard must have the patience of a saint.'

'I would have thought his working with McKay would have been your first clue there.' Cam pointed out dryly.

Daniel snickered and took a gulp of his coffee. 'McKay's already gone back. Sheppard should be on his way here soon with Ronon.'

Cam nodded. He was half-way looking towards the clock again when the door opened and Davis stepped in.

'Colonel.' Davis said politely.

'Major.' Mitchell acknowledged him with a friendly smile as he stood up. 'How did it go?'

Daniel placed a hand on Cam's shoulder in support; Cam leaned into it gratefully.

'She passed the test.' Davis stated briskly. 'There's no sign of deception or false memories that we can detect.'

'So what now?' Cam asked.

'I've spoken with Colonel Carter and recommended that Ms Vandenberg remain in her residence with continued protection for the next two weeks.' Davis informed him. 'The Colonel and Ms Vandenberg have agreed to that.'

'Good.' Cam let out a breath he hadn't realised he'd been holding. He knew Teal'c would stay and provide the protection if Cam asked and probably Ronon too. He owed Ronon a thank you for saving Amy.

'She wants to see you.' Davis said.

Cam nodded. 'I'll take her up some tea.' He left the room before Davis or Daniel could say anything more. He made his way into the sunny kitchen and tried to use the time it took to make the tea to collect his thoughts.

He knew it wasn't going to be the easiest conversation. He'd thought he'd been nervous about having their meeting overheard by everyone but there had been security, Cam realised, in knowing that he had an excuse to avoid answering. He didn't have that anymore and he owed Amy honesty especially after what she had been through. He picked up the tea and took a deep breath.

He knew the way to Amy's bedroom as well as he knew the way to his own; the number of steps down the hall, up the stairs, along the landing with its calming pale green walls and dark hardwood floor. He tapped softly on her door and entered at her call.

Amy sat at her vanity table, staring into the mirror as though she could find answers there. She'd showered; her hair hung loose and wet around her shoulders; her face was bare of make-up. She'd changed into jeans and an old sweatshirt, and looked young and vulnerable.

Cam felt his chest tighten with unexpected emotion. He closed the door behind him and walked over to place the tea on the table.

Amy thanked him gently and motioned for him to sit on the end of the bed facing her. 'I passed your tests.'

Cam ignored the accusatory 'your' as he cleared his throat to reply. 'I know.'

'You owe me an explanation.' She said fingering the delicate china of the mug he'd picked out for her.

'I know that too.' Cam leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees as he clasped his hands together. 'I don't know where to start.'

Amy remained silent.

Her self-possession was one of the reasons he had been attracted to her, Cam mused wryly. 'After I called off the wedding, I decided to go on a flying holiday; cross-country in a single engine Cessna with a friend along as company.'

'John Sheppard.' Amy supplied.

Cam nodded. 'Anyway, our first stop, we got approached by a NID intelligence analyst who'd seen some chatter that concerned him. We took him seriously and worked out the Lucien Alliance was after me.'

'Like at the reunion?' asked Amy, finally picking up the tea and drinking it. Her expression softened when she realised he'd made it exactly the way she liked it.

'Mostly they want to take me alive so they can use me for…well, what doesn't matter, but to use me.' Cam sighed. 'We think they originally planned to take me captive on our honeymoon, probably using your life as leverage to get me to do what they wanted.'

'Our honeymoon.' Amy flinched and the tea-cup went back into the saucer with a clatter. She folded her arms around herself. 'That's probably why Lucy encouraged me to go to Paris. Only her name isn't Lucy is it?'

'Probably not.' Cam agreed calmly.

'She befriended me to get to you.' Amy continued. Her eyes caught his. 'Do you have any idea how that makes me feel?'

'I'm sorry.' Cam said the only thing he could think would help. 'I know that's not enough but…'

'No, no, that's not what I meant.' Amy crossed over the room quickly and put her hand on his arm tentatively. 'This isn't your fault, Cam. Just like it wasn't your fault at the reunion and I knew when I started seeing you that with the work that you do, something similar could happen.' She bit her lip. 'I never imagined Lucy…I feel so stupid for not seeing it.'

'She had me fooled too.' Cam picked up the hand on his arm and held it firmly.

'I feel like I let you down.' Amy said. 'I look back at the last year and…' she shuddered, 'I can see all the ways she manipulated me and talked me into things.' She looked down at their hands, and her thumb stroked over his. 'I told you the truth; I did propose because I thought we were on that path but…thinking about it, I would never have asked if Lucy hadn't pushed me into it.' Her eyes flew back to his. 'You would never have asked me, would you?'

Cam wanted to shift away from her shrewd gaze but he owed her the truth. 'No, not then.'

'And maybe not ever although we'll never know.' Amy completed with a sigh.

He winced. 'It was just…I was comfortable with the way we were.'

'I wondered what was going on in your head; that's why I talked with Lucy in the first place.' Amy said. 'When we first started dating you talked about wanting marriage and kids so I just assumed it was what you wanted with me, and when a year had gone by and you hadn't asked me…' she frowned, 'it's not like we're getting any younger, Cam.'

Cam frowned as he tried to remember when he had talked about marriage and kids – and suddenly remembered with a flinch. It had been during his recovery after getting beaten up by the replicators on the Odyssey. He'd been so battered physically and he'd been uncertain after the discussions with Carolyn and the specialists brought in to re-examine his old spinal and leg injuries whether he would make it back to full fitness for field duty. He'd allowed himself to consider giving up; settling down…clipping his wings.

'I thought one day you'd have the surgery the doctors wanted you to have and you'd take a desk job and…' Amy sighed. 'But you never really intended that, did you?'

Cam shook his head. 'I love my job. I love leading SG1, Amy. I don't want to give that up.'

'But you're going to have to give it up one day.' Amy pointed out softly. 'You told me the doctors said you couldn't put the surgery off indefinitely.'

The words hit him hard and for a second he lost his breath. He had told her that, Cam remembered dimly. He'd confided it one day when they'd taken a walk and he'd had to sit down to rest because his leg had cramped so badly and…

He sighed. He was fine. His fears had been just that fears; he'd regained his physical health and – OK, yes, he was feeling the aches and pains a lot more than he had when he'd first been made SG1 leader but it was part of the job. He ignored the small voice in the back of his head reminding him that Carolyn had raised the topic of the surgery again in his last physical.

'Did you think that I would push you to have the surgery if we got married?' Amy asked, breaking into his thoughts.

'Maybe.' Cam murmured with a lift of his shoulders. 'Mostly, I think I thought getting married meant I should get the surgery; should settle down and take a desk job.'

It meant changing his life; leaving SG1; giving up.

And he wouldn't do that. He couldn't.

'The reason I cancelled the wedding was really because I felt trapped, Amy.' Cam explained. 'And yes, the idea that I should make a decision about the surgery if I was getting married was part of a bigger idea that I should make a decision about settling down if I was getting married.'

'I wouldn't have pushed you.' Amy declared defensively.

'Why not?' Cam asked bluntly, turning to look at her fully. 'That's one of the things I couldn't figure, Amy; if marriage and kids was what you wanted, why weren't you pushing me to get out of the field?'

Amy opened her mouth and snapped it shut again. A contemplative look settled over her attractive features. 'Good question.' The fingers of her free hand, the one wrapped in a bandage, tapped out a discordant rhythm on the grey sweatpants. 'I think,' she said eventually, 'that, deep down, I knew it wasn't what you wanted. That I'd pushed you once with asking you to marry me and if I pushed you again…' She shrugged and sighed. 'You'd do what you did and cancel the whole thing.

'I'm really very sorry.' Cam said.

'No, you're not.' Amy contradicted and pulled out of his hold gently. She moved away, pacing across the room. 'Why didn't you tell me you had doubts?'

Cam considered his words as he dragged a hand through his hair. 'I didn't know how.' He said finally. 'At first, I convinced myself that I was simply surprised because you'd been the one to propose and…'

'And you're a traditional man.' Amy wrapped her arms around her middle.

'And then by the time I realised it wasn't just surprise…I'm sorry I didn't say anything sooner.' Cam sighed. 'I didn't want to hurt you…'

'So you thought it was best leaving it until the last minute before telling me that you didn't want to marry me?' Amy snapped back sharply. 'Cam, if you'd left it any later, you would have left me at the altar. As it was, you only gave me five days to cancel everything.' She sighed. 'I guess I should have known when you insisted that you'd fly out alone and your team would come the day of the wedding.'

Cam flushed, the hot blush rushing over his cheeks and neck. 'I know there's no way that I can apologise for not being honest with you as soon as I knew I was having doubts.'

Amy wrenched her gaze away from his. She meandered back to the chair in front of the vanity table and sat down again. 'Did you ever love me?'

Cam reached over and took her head in his. 'I do love you, Amy. I just…'

'Don't love me enough to marry me.' Amy tangled their fingers together even as he dropped his gaze, ashamed at her accuracy. 'You know I think on some level I knew.'

'Daniel thinks on some level I knew the Alliance was trying to trap me.' Cam murmured. 'He thinks that's why I felt trapped.'

Amy stared at him.

'What?' asked Cam, taken aback by her frown.

'Did you talk to Daniel about us?' Amy asked.

Cam shook his head. 'Not until after. I didn't talk to anyone until…I unloaded on Sheppard.'

'I didn't realise he was that good a friend.' Amy said.

'We're not,' Cam admitted with a rueful smile, 'but he put up with me unloading on him anyway. John's a good man.'

'He saved my life.' Amy agreed. 'Him and the guy who shot Lucy.'

'Stunned.' Cam corrected. 'Ronon's weapon stuns people.'

'Like Star Trek?' Amy's eyebrows rose. 'Stunning wasn't good enough for her.' She grimaced; her cheeks pale. 'When I think of how much I confided in her…how much she influenced me.'

'She won't be bothering you again.' Cam promised.

Amy nodded briskly. Her eyes lifted back to his, concerned. 'What about you? Are you going to be safe now? The Major said there was still a risk for the next two weeks.'

'I'll be OK.' Cam assured her. 'We took out most of the cell today and I'm on leave so they can't get to me easily.'

'And you'll have Sheppard protecting you.' Amy said but the worried look didn't go away.

Cam smiled though to reassure her. 'He's good company.'

'Flying cross-country.' Amy sighed but she finally smiled; a small quirk of her lips but it was there. 'You must be in heaven.'

'I needed to get my head straight.' Cam prevaricated. 'Speaking of which, I should probably head downstairs and see where John's at.'

Amy nodded.

They got to their feet and Cam pulled her into his arms for an awkward hug.

'I'm so glad you're OK.' Cam whispered in her ear.

Amy hugged back tightly. 'Just…just take care of yourself.' She pulled back and ducked her head to hide her tears. 'Friends?'

'Friends.' Cam confirmed, brushing a thumb over her cheek. 'I wish…'

'Don't.' Amy placed her hand over his and held his eyes so he could see her sincerity.

'You're too good for me anyway.' Cam said, attempting another smile but it fell away before it took.

'Call me when you get to wherever it is you're going next?' Amy asked cautiously. 'I'll worry otherwise and…'

'I'll call you when I get to my place.' Cam agreed. He hugged her again gently and kissed her temple. 'You'll have people here watching over you but if you need me…'

'I'll call.' Amy promised.

Cam let go of her and left the bedroom. All in all, he considered dryly, the talk could have gone worse. He rubbed his right hip absently as he made his way down the stairs. There were voices coming from the open door to the den.

He recognised John's and hurried inside. He took in the four men in one sweep; Daniel sat on the sofa where he had been sat when Cam had left; Teal'c stood in front of it and Ronon lounged against a wall near Teal'c. John sat on the other armchair but got to his feet as soon as Cam entered.

'Hey.' John nodded to him. His hazel eyes ran over Cam as though assessing injuries. 'OK?'

Cam gave a brief nod.

'How's Amy?' Daniel asked.

'Good. Shook up a little.' Cam said succinctly. 'Everything cleaned up at the coffee shop?'

'We're done.' John said. 'The Alliance operatives are all at the SGC in cells. So far they haven't talked.'

'That will change.' Teal'c said firmly. His dark eyes glittered.

Ronon smirked.

Cam exchanged an amused look with Daniel and John.

'Teldy's awake.' John continued. 'She apologised for Keene getting the drop on her and grabbing Amy. I told her she has lessons with Teyla to look forward to in her future.'

Cam's lips twitched. 'It wasn't her fault.'

'Yes, it was.' Ronon said implacably.

Cam opened his mouth to protest again but John gave a small shake of his head.

'Rodney's going over the laptop I shot.' John said dryly. 'He thinks he can rescue the data.' He nodded toward Daniel. 'He might need your help with that. His Goa'uld is rusty.'

Daniel stood up. 'I'll beam straight to Atlantis then.'

'The SGC.' John grinned as Daniel's face fell. 'Sam had him diverted.'

'Any news on where Lovell and the seventh member are?' Cam questioned. It made sense to tie up the loose ends.

'Southern hemisphere.' John said. 'Other than that?' He shrugged. 'We still need to track Lovell down too.'

'She's probably gone to ground.' Daniel murmured.

'Ronon and I will remain with Amy Vandenbeg.' Teal'c informed Cam.

Cam nodded. 'Thanks. I appreciate that.' He turned to Ronon. 'And thanks for saving her today.'

Ronon shrugged away his gratitude. 'She made it easy for me to take the shot.'

John tilted his head toward the door. 'If you're ready, we should head out.'

Cam caught the weariness present in the lines on John's face and agreed. It was time to get back to their leave. There was a succession of goodbyes and Cam felt drained, quietly reassuring Teal'c and Daniel that he was fine before he followed John out of the door and into the rental car.

They made the journey to the airfield in silence and only exchanged necessary information as they changed in the lockers into fresh jeans and t-shirt before they started the mechanical check. It was a companionable silence. Cam watched as John's tension drained away with each passing minute and he could feel his own muscles loosening under the lack of pressure to talk; to do anything but focus on the plane.

It was good that he'd talked with Amy, Cam mused; he opened a bottle of water and swallowed half of it down. Confessing the whole truth to Amy about his feelings on their relationship had settled something inside of him. He'd made a mistake and she had deserved better treatment but they seemed to have left each other in a good place at the end of their talk; friends.

He'd take friendship.

His mind drifted over the discussion again and careened away as it registered why she'd thought he'd want to get married and have kids; the pain and physical condition he'd been in when he'd babbled at her during his recovery; when he'd been desperately trying to put a good spin on a life he could lead if he wasn't the SG1 leader, if he couldn't physically keep up.

It was getting harder, Cam silently admitted to himself as they finally took their places in the cockpit and taxied out to the runway and finally took to the air.

He sometimes wondered that O'Neill had managed to continue in the field as long as he had but then he reminded himself, O'Neill hadn't smashed a 302 into an ice field and damaged his body almost beyond repair. He hadn't had to learn to walk again; to strengthen his spine with metal and pins; with multiple surgeries and…

He cut that thought off as he felt his muscles start to tense again. He shifted restlessly.

'You want to fly?' asked John.

'You won the bet.' Cam reminded him with an easy grin. 'I'm fine.' And he was because John needed to fly to completely relax; to lose the look of a man burdened with too much responsibility – and Cam could wait since it was his fault John had been pushed back into service on his vacation. 'Besides, it's only a short flight,' he added, 'and I want the majority of the flight tomorrow.'

'You have to win first.' John smirked.

'And I will,' promised Cam lightly, 'as soon as I think up another story that is good enough that you won't trump it.'

John harrumphed quietly and turned his attention back to the sky with a small smile on his face.

Cam let himself enjoy the flight; the faint vibration of the engine through the plane, the sounds of the wind and creak of the plane, the miniscule movements that John made to correct the altitude and the wing balance as they kept on course. They swapped when they were almost there to give John a break and allow Cam his reduced flight time but Cam handed the stick back as they approached and requested permission to land at the private airfield.

The lights of the single runaway formed reassuringly ahead of them and Cam held his breath minutely as John brought the plane down, landing with a skill that made Cam envious even as he watched John's technique and determined it was eighty per cent skill and twenty per cent sheer instinct.

Cam stretched as John taxied towards the waiting open hangar, a pool of light spilling out onto the tarmac showing the way. It was late but not too late, Cam thought idly as his eyes took in the two mechanics in Sheppard International uniforms waving them forward; the hangar door closing behind them. They'd get the rental and drive to Cam's; maybe they could pick-up a pizza on the way or Thai, he was in the mood for something spicy and…

A sudden movement to the left caught Cam's eye – the glint of light hitting the barrel of a gun. He was reaching for his before he could register they were under attack.

The hard rattle of gunfire pounded against the side of the plane…the mechanics pulled weapons on them in front and Cam yanked John down as bullets cracked the windshield.

John hit his earpiece. 'Odyssey, this is Sheppard requesting emergency immediate beam-out!'

The white light surrounded them; the lurch of disorientation made Cam's stomach churn as the light faded leaving them standing upright.

It only took a moment to realise it wasn't the Odyssey before the woman in front of the pack of Alliance guards smiled with smug satisfaction.

'What the hell…' Cam muttered in bewilderment. He made to shoot but even as he brought his weapon to bear, he saw the arcing bolts of blue zat fire heading towards them…

The pain snapped through his body without mercy and Cam felt himself falling before the blessed relief of darkness took him.

Chapter 19 




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