Disclaimer: I don't own Stargate SG-1.

A/N: Written for the Guild of the Fantastic Quill's Question challenge, "Does it hurt?" using the Cameron Mitchell prompt.

"It's late. You can stay, if you want."

She didn't reply, but he could see her head rub against the pillow, a nod.

He'd meant for the room to be dark when it happened, but they'd forgotten the lamp beside the telephone. Its yellow light cast an antique glow over the bed, over their bodies. He'd regretted being able to see so well, and she'd felt the same, he was sure. But neither of them had been willing to break away, to let their guard down long enough to admit how it hurt, seeing the truth in front of them. Against them.

Cameron buckled his body, sliding his boxers on beneath the covers before he slipped out. He walked to the phone's flimsy wooden stand. The message machine was blinking a red, digital three. He hadn't noticed earlier. His hand hesitated above the playback button before he pressed it. The third message was the only new one. It began to play, a recording of an insurance sales man's voice. He pressed delete before it could finish. When he did, the first message began. He'd already heard it, before he'd left for the restaurant.

"Hey, Cameron--it's Sam. I wasn't sure if you got my other message. Jack's going to be in town for another night, so we were wondering of you and. . ."


He winced at the buzz. Remembering the woman on his bed, he pressed the delete button again for the second message, before Jackson's voice could fill the room. He reached up, turning off the lamp.

The room was still too bright, and the moon cast awkward shapes over the ceiling.

"Does it hurt?"

Cameron had heard the woman's voice, even though she had her back to him. All he could see was her black hair, thick and tangled and reaching down her bare shoulder blades. He stepped back to the bed, folding back the covers to tuck himself in. He turned away from her, on his side, and pretended he didn't hear the question.

"Does it hurt to think of her, you know," there was a pause in Vala's question, "looking at him that way?"

"Seeing it is worse," Cameron said. He hadn't meant to speak. A heavy sigh left his lips. "This wasn't supposed to happen."

"Wasn't my plan," Vala said, her voice defensive.

"I didn't say that," Cameron amended. He chewed his bottom lip. "We should get some sleep. Big day tomorrow."

Vala's voice disappeared, but her breathing told him that she wasn't sleeping.

"Why'd you come back with me, Vala?" Cameron asked, rolling onto his back. He stared into her hair. "I thought you were holding out for him."

"Holding out?" Vala laughed against her pillow. "I saw your face, Cameron. When you looked at her and she wasn't looking back. I know what that's like better than most."

"It hurts," Cameron answered.

"It really does," Vala muttered. She rolled over to take in the man's solemn face. "We won't tell them," she assured. She smiled slightly, the hint of wrinkles at her wide eyes. "Just in case there's ever a chance."

"Still holding out then," Cameron smiled. "You've got a funny way of showin' it."

"Back at you," Vala noted.

Cameron nodded, closing his eyes against the shadows above him. "Thanks," he muttered, before sleep could take him.