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Fanfiction: Broken Wings, Chapter 24

For author's note and disclaimer see Chapter 1

Banks hadn't said anything since just before the crash.

That was bad.

Cam knew it meant the kid was unconscious (or dead, but no; he wasn't going there). He tried to shift but his legs were trapped under the twisted remains of the console. The wind was cold and battered his torn and bruised face. It was getting dark but he'd managed to switch the lights on so they'd be visible to a rescue.

If a rescue was coming…

It would come, Cam thought groggily. He just had to hold on. But it was so cold and he was in so much pain…he moved and it flashed through him again along his spine and down his ribs and God he couldn't take it, couldn't take it anymore and…

Cam jerked awake with a sharp cry. His body bowed upwards trying to escape the pain in his back. Arms immediately tightened around him to hold him steady; forceful but careful not to hurt him.

'Easy, Mitchell.' John whispered in his ear. 'It's OK. I've got you.'

John. He was with John and not trapped back in his crashed 302. Just captured by insane Lucien Alliance operatives and stuck on a ship in Antarctica, Cam's mind supplied with dry irony.

'Sorry.' Cam said softly, relaxing. 'Nightmare.'

John kept hold of him and Cam was grateful for the solidity of John's presence warming his back.

'You want to talk about it?' John offered hesitantly.

'Not really.' Cam knew what had brought it on and there was something more important to focus on. 'We need to get out of here.'

John made a humming sound in agreement. Cam eased away from John and John stilled him with one hand on his arm.

'Shuffle forward. I'll get up and help you.' John was matter-of-fact as though the plan wasn't necessary because Cam was badly injured.

Cam flushed anyway and nodded. He inched forward, aware of the pain that spiked through him with every move. Cold air wafted in the space he'd built between himself and John – John who was very carefully extracting his legs from under Cam's. Cam sucked in a breath as sharp arrows of pain jolted through his knees.

'Sorry.' John said apologetically as he clambered to his feet. He crouched beside Cam for a long moment. 'You ready?'

Cam clutched the blanket John had tugged around him and nodded. He grasped John's hand and let the other man take most of his weight as they got upright. Cam grimaced and closed his eyes as he slowly took his own weight back onto his damaged knees.

'OK,' John said, 'we'll do a walk around the room to get loosened up and then a strategy session.'

Cam nodded in agreement. He opened his eyes and let John lead him round the room like he was an old man in need of a supportive hand at his elbow. It was excruciating but Cam had suffered worse during his recovery from the crash he had dreamt about and as his muscles warmed up, they loosened, easing the tension and pain to a more bearable level. By the time he'd made it back to the original spot, he didn't need John to support him and Cam counted that as a win.

They sank back against the far wall and took turns taking a gulp of water from the bottle John had stashed away. John slid right up beside him and Cam rearranged the blanket over both of them; they needed to share body heat and what little covering they had.

'We're near Antarctica.' Cam began. 'That's why it's so cold. I could see land off to the side of the ship; it's all covered in ice.'

'So, good news is that we're not far from help if we can get to McMurdo; bad news is that we need to acquire clothes before we step out onto the deck to get there.' John listed off briskly.

Cam nodded. 'I had clothes but they took them again. There're two choppers and a 302 on the deck.'

John's eyes lit up and he smiled; Cam could see it even in the darkness.

'A helicopter?' John sounded giddy. 'I haven't flown one since…well, actually, before I went to Atlantis.'

'Well, you have to fly one today because we have to take a helicopter.' Cam corrected immediately. 'Amy's here and…' his voice gave way abruptly. He lifted a hand and rubbed tiredly at his forehead. God; Amy was a Goa'uld host.

'Mitchell?' John prompted. 'They captured Amy?'

'They've made her a host to try and get information out of me.' Cam said roughly. His skin felt too tight; guilt and worry coalescing into an ugly tight ball in his stomach. 'She's being held in a room on the other side of the ship.'

'That complicates things.' John said crisply, staying in military mode and Cam was grateful for that.

Cam pulled himself out of his emotional morass to focus again. 'I can find my way back there but the 302 only seats two so…'

'So, we take a helicopter.' John agreed. He tucked the blanket more securely around himself. 'We'll need to immobilise her.'

'Zat.' Cam replied promptly.

'Which means we're carrying her.' John commented practically.

Or John was, Cam translated in his head because it was clear Cam would have a challenge to walk with his injuries never mind carry Amy.

'OK, so; escape the cell, find some clothes, grab Amy, get to a helicopter and fly to McMurdo.' John reeled off briskly. 'Plan A shouldn't be impossible.'

'Any ideas on escaping the cell?' Cam asked wearily. Because it was their greatest stumbling block.

'I had an interesting chat with Gina Lovell.' John relayed his conversation and Cam's eyes widened with every revelation.

'You think she has a thing for Stanley?' Cam couldn't believe it. 'Our Stanley?'

'I know.' John said with obvious amusement. 'But it could work in our favour.'

'I'm not sure we have time for it to work in our favour.' Cam admitted with reluctance. 'Maybe we can try something when they come to take me again.' He thought that was more likely to happen before Lovell changed her mind and helped them.

'OK.' John said. 'Do you have any ideas how to take the guard out before we get zatted?'

Cam thought about it. 'You got surprised by the lights.'

'We got surprised by the lights and yeah; it takes at least a moment to adjust.' John said defensively. 'It gives them an advantage to get in and get the gun on us before we can do anything more than blink.'

'I could take them out in the corridor.' Cam said, thinking about the way they'd lined up. 'There are two of them but not a lot of space; it's doable.' But not without risk and it would hurt like hell.

'I think that's our best option.' John's reluctance dripped heavily from every word. 'If you can take them down, you can get me out. We can steal their clothes and take the zat.'

'Make our way to Amy; get Amy; get back to a chopper.' Cam concluded.

John frowned suddenly. 'You said the 302 is on the deck?'

'Yeah.'

'Then why hasn't the Odyssey located it already?' John asked.

'Cloak.' Cam supplied. 'Crap; I'd forgotten about that.'

'We can blow up the ship enough to disrupt and bring down the cloak hopefully.' John shifted beside him and Cam instinctively followed the warmth, pressing closer.

'Cold?' John asked concerned. He pushed back into Cam's space and Cam sighed with relief as John's heat helped soothe his battered body.

'It had to be Antarctica.' Cam muttered. 'It couldn't have been the tropics or some Caribbean beach somewhere.'

'I like Antarctica.' John remonstrated.

'Deadly.' Cam retorted without thinking. He realised a heartbeat later how much he'd given away with his single word.

John let it go though. He'd probably guessed that Cam was referring to the crash, Cam realised. John was good that way; he wouldn't ask for details.

'It was…' Cam began before he stopped and tried again. 'The nightmare before; it was the crash. Just…the cold and the pain, you know.' He shook his head, trying to get the images out of his head. 'It was incredible that day. You know how it is in a squadron; most of the time you're waiting for something to happen and we'd practiced and had games and manoeuvres but it was the real thing. An actual battle against aliens.' He sighed. 'And all we knew is that we had to protect SG1; make sure they made it because they were going to save the world.'

'It must have been intense.' John commented quietly. 'We saw the light show from McMurdo but…'

'Not the same.' Cam completed. 'That didn't start until later. It was just the gliders at first and us rushing to meet them. It was a hell of a dog fight. Most of my squad didn't make it.'

John didn't say anything; he didn't have to. Cam figured he was thinking back to the Wraith attack. John had been one of the few survivors of that 302 run. It hurt to lose good men; pilots.

'We were doing OK but we got hit and we already had damage. Banks stopped talking to me and we were going down.' Cam's voice rose with remembered panic. 'Everything was white; everything. Ice and snow and I could see we were going to crash land in the middle of nowhere with no help and…'

John placed a hand on Cam's forearm. 'You got the 302 down.'

'I wrecked her.' Cam corrected. 'The top cover was shattered by a tree or something. I got hit in the face. The front of the cockpit trapped my legs. I was jarred enough that I cracked my spine.' He wet his lips. 'And Banks was already dead. I didn't know it at the time.'

'You made it though.' John said. He hesitated briefly before continuing. 'They said you got the lights switched on.'

'I was out of it when they pulled me out.' Cam replied with a shrug, wincing when it set off another wave of pain. 'I was out of it for weeks afterwards.' He shifted to look at John. 'Sam saved my legs. She healed me with the Goa'uld device. If she hadn't I would have lost them. There was too much damage. As it is, I have glue and sticking tape everywhere holding them altogether. Same with my spine.'

'Somehow, I don't think losing your legs would have crippled you though.' John commented. 'Your Dad's incredible.'

Cam smiled; glad John had gotten to know him well enough that he knew what had kept Cam going without him having to say anything. 'I thought about my Dad all the time. Every day when I got up to learn to walk again. I kept thinking if he could do it, I could do it and…and I had O'Neill's promise.'

'Of SG1?' John moved to tug the blanket more securely around them.

'He promised me SG1 but he didn't promise the people in SG1 as part of the deal.' Cam said ruefully. 'I blame the drugs for not picking up on it.'

'He does have his own unique way of doing things.' John said with a laugh.

'I don't know how he led SG1 for so long.' Cam said with a sigh. 'How he kept himself mission fit for all those years. I mean, I'm not old but he was in the field when he was older than me and I…I'm…' he couldn't say it.

'You're struggling.'

The statement stilled Cam; relief flooded him that someone knew; had noticed.

'Yeah,' he sighed, letting the truth out into the open air for the first time since the doctors had warned him. He gave a harsh laugh. 'Is it that obvious?'

John patted his arm soothingly. 'We've been living in each other's pockets for over a week, Mitchell, and…' he lifted his hand and gestured at him vaguely, 'I guessed.'

Cam remembered his almost collapse at his parents' farm when his leg had cramped on him severely and nodded his acceptance of John's explanation slowly. 'I'm mission fit.' He said defensively anyway. 'It's…mainly I take longer to recover these days afterwards.'

'You don't owe me an explanation.' John said quickly.

And he didn't. If anyone was owed an explanation it was his team because the majority of the time it was Cam's recovery time keeping them grounded to the SGC instead of off-world somewhere. But he hadn't because if he talked to them then he would have to admit that he was struggling to keep up, struggling to remain a part of the team and why and…

God.

He was stupid. Cam closed his eyes and sighed heavily. This, he deduced with a heavy sense of guilt; this was why he hadn't wanted to talk to his team for months. Amy had been an excuse to hide from the truth that any discussion about his future would involve a discussion about this.

'What?' John asked, shifting against him. His hand landed back on Cam's forearm; anchoring and steadying him.

'I haven't talked about it with anyone except the docs and a little with Amy back when we started dating.' Cam confessed, needing to tell someone and knowing, trusting, that John would keep his confidence. 'After we came back from the Ori galaxy, Carolyn sat me down with a specialist and explained that while all the surgery they'd done after the crash had put me back together again, all my exploits since, but especially getting beaten up by a replicator version of the Terminator, meant that everything was coming undone.'

'Amy mentioned surgery when she was talking to you at the coffee shop.' John murmured; a hint of a question in his words.

'They wanted to do it back then.' Cam explained. 'Only I said no. I took a month off and…' he gestured feebly at his body. 'I considered it but…' he looked up at the ceiling, 'it took me months to recover the first time and I knew if I said yes it was goodbye field work. Even if I had the surgery and could get myself mission fit again, they'd break the band up in the meantime and SG1 would be someone else's and…' he stumbled to a halt feeling too raw and exposed.

Because losing SG1 was the same as grounding him; clipping his wings.

John's hand tightened on his arm. 'I get it.'

'I can remember talking with Amy about it.' Cam admitted. 'You know just saying scenarios out loud trying to make it OK if Carolyn insisted on the surgery when I went back after the medical leave. I guess somewhere in my head I linked marriage with having the surgery and…'

And that was why he hadn't wanted to truly marry Amy apart from the underlying truth that he hadn't been with her for the right reason.

'And now?'

'Carolyn wants me to have the surgery. She brought it up at my last physical.' Cam said dully.

'Ah.' John frowned. 'And what happens if you don't have the surgery?'

'Another year if I'm lucky.' Cam admitted. But at the end of it he would have damaged his body permanently; Carolyn had told him that too.

He was glad of the darkness. He didn't want to see John's pity. Instead, he felt John squeeze his arm again and let go.

'Why not have the surgery now?' John questioned. 'Landry likes you; he could assign someone TDA to lead SG1. You recovered from it once before; you could do it again.'

Cam's throat closed up. He couldn't explain the terror he felt at the idea of going through the surgery all over again. He'd survived it once but…

'And you're not alone this time,' John continued, 'you'd have your team. They'd help you.'

'Like you're trusting your team to help you with your problems.'

The words tumbled out sharply and Cam winced as he felt John tense beside him. Cam wiped a hand over his face. He hadn't meant to say that or confront John in any way. John hadn't confided in him and he had no right to stick his nose in John's business.

'Sorry.' Cam said.

There was a long silence.

'You're right.' John admitted tersely. 'I haven't confided in my team any more than you've confided in yours.'

'Why not?' asked Cam, because he'd seen John with his team and there was no doubt in Cam's mind that they would be there for John if only John would let them in.

'Because I don't.' John admitted softly. He sighed and leaned closer to Cam. 'That first year, there was no one to talk to when I might have even wanted to talk. Everyone needed me to look like I knew what I was doing. I couldn't say anything. And then…it became usual for me not to say anything.' he shrugged. 'After a while I realised I didn't need to; that my team would know without me saying anything, you know?'

'I know.'

'But…they have their own lives these days and,' John rubbed the back of his neck, 'so I haven't said anything and they haven't…so…' he sighed again, 'it's easier not to. I don't want to…just because I'm…feeling like crap, I don't want them not to be happy.'

Cam sympathised with him. He nudged John's shoulder in silent support.

'You think it's because we're the leaders?' Cam wondered out loud. 'Do you think that's why we haven't talked with them?'

'I think Teyla would probably tell us that we haven't talked to them because we're useless at talking.' John said dryly.

Cam laughed at that. 'She'd probably be right.'

'She's rarely wrong.' John said fondly. 'It's very annoying.'

'Teal'c's like that.' Cam sighed. 'I'm going to have to tell them, aren't I?'

'For what it's worth, you know what I've noticed about SG1?'

'What?' Cam asked, genuinely interested.

John met his eyes, and Cam could sense the amusement lurking there. 'Nobody ever really leaves.'

Cam laughed but shook his head.

'No, really.' John patted his arm again. 'Look at Sam and O'Neill, they're still SG1. They may not wear the badge anymore or go out with you on missions as SG1 but they are SG1.'

Cam swallowed around a lump in his throat, a jealousy he had never wanted to admit to gnawing at his gut. Because that was part of the problem, he mused inwardly. There was always the lurking suspicion in his head that Teal'c and Daniel preferred the original formation of the team to the one they had now. Which was unfair on them, Cam thought wearily, because he knew that Daniel and Teal'c were both fully committed to SG1; to Vala; to Cam. But if there was a choice…if they had to choose…Cam shivered.

'Your team has six people in it,' John continued, apparently oblivious to Cam's inner thoughts, 'and even if the worst happens and you have to take a different assignment, it's not going to stop you being SG1 to them.'

There was something so concrete in what John said that it resonated with Cam sharply. Jonas Quinn; the name sprang to his mind without prompting. Quinn who'd spent a year with SG1 when Daniel had Ascended. They'd lost him for a while under the Ori rule of Langara but when he'd made contact again…if Quinn was Earthside for a diplomatic event, he came out with the team; he stayed with Daniel and the last time he'd stayed with Cam because Cassie Fraiser had been staying with Daniel. It was evident that Quinn was considered part of the team. Something eased in Cam; the jealousy loosened its hold and slipped away.

'Damn.' Cam murmured.

'What?'

'There're seven of us on SG1.' He gestured when he saw John's incomprehension. 'Jonas Quinn. He was with them the sixth year when Daniel went off to be Ascended. I just realised…'

'He's part of your team.' John's voice rang with amusement.

'What about you?' Cam shot back. 'You going to talk to your team?'

'Already have a drinks thing lined up with Rodney to talk about my Dad.' John said smugly. His smile faded and his face settled into contemplation. 'And Dave and I, uh, we've talked some…about our Mom.'

'That's good.' Cam said surprised.

'Yeah.' John shook his head. 'All this time we never said anything to each other and now…' he sighed. 'We're never going to be an advertisement for a well-adjusted family but we're better than we were.' He looked over at Cam. 'Your Dad – hell, your whole family is great.'

'I'm lucky.' Cam agreed. He'd already realised that in his own comparison between Patrick Sheppard and Frank Mitchell.

The sound of the lock turning had John on his feet immediately. He helped Cam up and Cam handed him the blanket.

'You sure you can take them?' John asked quietly.

Cam took a deep breath and nodded. It would be close but he had a plan of attack. The lights went on and they blinked it out of their eyes as the guard stepped in.

He snarled at Cam and lifted the zat gun. 'Your time's up, Mitchell. Allia's ready for you.'

Mitchell smiled at him. He nodded at John who waved for him to get going already.

A bolt of blue suddenly shot through the open doorway and slapped into the guard, sending his body jerking to the floor.

Cam and John both turned in shock.

Lovell stood there with a tight smile on her face, her eyes on John. 'Sanctuary?'

'Sanctuary.' John promised.

Cam saw only sincerity written across John's face; he was sure Lovell could see it too.

Lovell nodded. 'Then, come with me.'

It wasn't like they were going to argue, Cam thought as he watched John stoop to pick up the zat and keys; Cam followed him and Lovell out of the cell.


Chapter 25



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