The Only One

Follow up to Sing To Me

Author's Notes :
- Disclaimer : I don't own Stargate Atlantis/SG1 or any of its characters or plots. I mean no infringement, this is for personal benefit only.
- The Only One belongs to Darren Hayes.
- Don't own Scrabble.
- Partially inspired by A Beautiful Mess by Jason Mraz.
- I've been to Caltech several times, a close friend of mine graduated from there, so all descriptions are from my memories. As far as I know Greek and Numb3rs are both filmed on the Caltech campus.
- Crossover with SG1. All sorts of spoilers for SG1.
- I vaguely remember watching the episode when Cam goes home and don't remember at all what his parents were like. I just kind of made it up. I'm pretty sure the only accurate thing about his parents is their names. Oh, and Cam's dad still has both his legs.
- This is an AR (alternate reality) story. Also there is no DADT in this fic, so gays are free to openly serve.
- This is SLASH. That's guy/guy action. Sheppard/Mitchell

*** CONTENT WARNING*** This story contains dark, sensitive subject matters. There are references to child abuse, sexual abuse of a minor, sexual abuse, abuse, non-consensual sex.


"Hey."

John looked up from his pancake batter to see Cameron stumble into the room, hair mussed from sleep, shirt on backwards and a thin layer of stubble on his face.

"Coffee?" John asked.

"Yes, please."

John poured Cameron a cup of the caffeinated beverage and walked it over to his boyfriend. John refused to say fiancé, partly because he was sure that Cameron would soon come to his senses and realize he'd made a huge mistake by asking John to marry him, and partly because fiancé sounded so feminine.

Cameron sat down at the kitchen table and offered John a genuine smile as he accepted the mug.

"Thank you."

John nodded and went back to his batter. There was silence as Cameron drank his coffee and John kept mixing up breakfast. Daniel and Rodney should be up soon and John wanted breakfast to be ready for them. If they weren't up and the pancakes were made, he would send Cameron to wake them up.

John checked that the griddle was hot and ladled some batter onto the surface.

"Are there chocolate chips in there?" Cameron asked.

"For Rodney," John answered glancing over at the other man. He hesitated and then asked, "Do you mind?"

Cameron shook his head, "No, that's cool. Who doesn't like chocolate?"

John wasn't really fond of it, but he also wasn't fond of pancakes. Which was why when he finished with everyone else's breakfast he was going to make himself a breakfast quesadilla.

"How'd you sleep?" Cameron asked.

John hadn't slept that well but neither had he slept that poorly so he just said, "Fine."

Cameron sipped his coffee. "Are you calling your parents today?"

"Yeah."

It had been a two days since Cameron had proposed. Daniel had returned from his mission off-world last night and Rodney had showed up early that morning, heading straight for 'his' bedroom.

John had called his parents almost immediately after he'd said 'yes'. They'd both taken it extremely well and his mom had cried just a little. John suspected that they had already known though, he was pretty sure Cameron was the kind of guy who would have asked John's parents' permission for his hand in marriage. It was really old fashioned, but so were most things about Cameron. John liked that.

"How many pancakes do you want?" John asked softly.

Cameron shrugged and stood up. John heard him walk over and then felt the other man as he hovered behind John, ridiculously close. There was a gentle breeze that John recognized as Cameron's hand gently touching John's t-shirt--a warning--before two arms slowly wrapped themselves around his waist. John stiffened and held his breath, but Cameron just rested his chin on John's shoulder and looked at the pancake on the griddle.

"How many can you make?"

John didn't shrug. "As many as you guys want. I'll probably make all of this," he gestured to the batter, "and then if Rodney and Daniel are still hungry I can make more."

"What are you eating?" Cameron murmured.

John was slowly relaxing into his boyfriend's touch. He flipped the pancake over smoothly. It was a golden brown with small dots of chocolate showing.

"Breakfast quesadilla," John answered.

"Don't like pancakes?"

"Yeah." John hesitated, "Or chocolate too much."

"You don't like chocolate?" Cameron asked in surprise.

It wasn't really that John didn't like chocolate, it's just that chocolate held bad memories for him. Mr. Walson would always offer John a piece of chocolate as he re-buttoned his pants. John would take it and as it melted in his mouth on the way home, John would smile and feel proud that he'd received a piece of candy. His father and mother had certainly never given him any.

"I…" John wanted to tell Cameron. Wanted to tell his boyfriend how John hadn't eaten chocolate in over twenty years. But his tongue felt heavy and his mouth felt dry and the words weren't coming out.

"It's okay," Cameron cooed gently. His voice was soft and soothing, his body was comforting--wrapped around John's.

John swallowed. "I don't eat chocolate."

"Okay," Cameron said soothingly. "Okay."

John wanted to tell him that it wasn't okay. That John wasn't okay with it. Instead he leaned back slightly and Cameron's hold on his body tightened just a little.

"You don't mind if other people eat it?" Cameron murmured.

John shook his head. "No… I think Rodney would excommunicate me if I did."

Cameron snorted softly. "It's possible. He does seem to eat an unhealthy amount of it."

"He eats my share," John said.

He shoved his spatula under the pancake and lifted it off the griddle and onto a plate. John poured some more batter onto the griddle and turned the oven on low to heat up.

"I think you have some sort of cooking magic," Cameron said. "My mom always says that the first pancake is a doozy. Yours looks perfect."

John shrugged uncomfortably. "I saw it on the Food Network."

"Ah. Am I in the way?" Cameron asked.

John was pretty sure that even if Cameron was in the way, John would find a way to work around that. "No."

"Good," Cameron said happily.


John was cooking the last of the pancake batter when he sent Cam off to wake up Daniel and McKay. Cam stopped at McKay's room first, knowing from experience that the irate man was the hardest to wake up.

Cam knocked, "McKay!"

He heard a thud as something hit the door. Cam knew from experience that it was probably a shoe. Once, he'd made the mistake of opening the door and Cam had spent the next week fielding questions about who beat him up as the shoe had hit him right in the eye.

"C'mon, McKay! John made chocolate chip pancakes! If you don't get up, you know Jackson will eat them all."

Another shoe hit the door and Cam grinned. He moved onto Daniel's door.

"Jackson!"

"Yeah?"

"Breakfast is ready!"

"Ugh." Cam heard. But he knew that Daniel would be up and downstairs in a few minutes.

He stopped by McKay's door again.

"Ro-odney," Cam said in a sing-song voice. "Up and at 'em."

"Mitchell, I swear to whatever god you worship--" Cam winced at the insult that followed. McKay managed to insult his mother, his father, and suggested that Cam's mom had done filthy things with a donkey which resulted in Cam's birth.

"That's the spirit!"

"Fuck you, Mitchell!"

"Promises, promises," Cam said with a shake of his head.

He went back downstairs and found John putting together his breakfast quesadilla. There was a pan on the stove with a tortilla in it and John was chopping up some bacon to go in to. There were scrambled eggs in a pan next to it and a block of cheese sitting on a grater by John's cutting board. Cam walked over to the sink and washed his hands. After drying them he picked up the block of cheese and began to grate it into a bowl.

"Thanks," John said softly.

"No problem."

John reached into the pan and picked up the tortilla, flipping it. Cam winced.

"Should you be doing that? You could get burned or something…"

"I haven't burned myself yet." John answered. Then he suddenly set down his knife and reached into the cabinet above Cam's head and grabbed two mugs. He set them onto the counter and poured coffee into them. A second later Cam heard two pairs of feet thunder down the stairs.

"There better be coffee, Sheppard," McKay grumbled.

Cam's eyes followed John as he walked over to the scientist and presented him with one of the mugs. He handed Daniel the other one and received a mumbled thanks in response.

Cam had wondered more than once what it was about those two people that had attracted John to them. They had almost nothing in common and only got along for John's sake. One of these days he figured he'd get around to asking John. Knowing John though, he'd probably get a shrug and some sort of noncommittal answer.

John retook his place next to Cam and finished chopping up the bacon. He used a spatula to slide the eggs from one pan to the other onto half of the tortilla. The bacon went in on top of that and the cheese went on last. John let them sit for a moment, so the cheese would have a chance to melt, before gently folding the other half of the tortilla on top of the eggs. Cam watched as he expertly flipped the whole thing.

"How long have you been cooking?" Cam asked quietly.

"Since I met Rodney," John answered.

"Really?"

"Yeah. He has so many food allergies… or at least inconvenient ones that it was easier to make him dinner than risk eating out."

"Ah."

Cam felt himself fall a little bit more in love with John Mason.

"Can you get the syrup out of the microwave?"

"Sure."

When Cam turned back around, John was bent over retrieving a plate of pancakes from the oven. He had an oven mitt on as he carried them over to the kitchen table where Daniel and McKay were finishing up their first cup of coffee. After setting the plate down, John went back for the coffee pot.

Cam wondered where John's intense need to serve others came from. John was always fussing over someone. Well, by someone Cam meant himself, McKay or Daniel. John didn't coddle the men who served under him at the SGC in any way. But here, at John's house, the man was always getting coffee for them or cooking or cleaning. Just last week Cam had found John doing Cam's laundry.

After grabbing the butter on the counter, Cam made his way with the syrup over to the table. McKay had already served himself a good chunk of the pancakes and was waiting, impatiently, for the syrup. Daniel had two pancakes on his plate and seemed much more interested in his coffee than in eating.

Cam sat down and watched as John slid the quesadilla onto a plate and grabbed a carton of cranberry juice out of the fridge. Cam blinked and then noticed that John's seat had a glass in front of it instead of a mug. John sat down across from Cam and next to Rodney. He looked around and everyone seemed to take that as permission to eat.

Cam helped himself to a couple pancakes, and sliced a chunk of butter to spread between them.

Under the table he gently pushed a foot in between one of John's. the other man didn't look up from his food, just locked his ankles around Cam's foot and poured some juice.


"Cameron, honey, are you sure about this?"

"Yes, momma."

"We haven't even met him yet."

Cam sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. "You'll love him, mom."

"Why don't you bring him home with you next weekend?"

"To Auburn?"

"Yes, dear."

"We can't just drive home for a weekend, mom. He works, I work…"

"Then I'll come there."

Cam froze and had the distinct feeling that he'd just been manipulated by his mother.

"What about dad? You can't just leave him there alone."

"Oh, pish-posh," Cam's mother said. "Your father has been taking care of himself for years, he can manage to do so for another two days."

"I should talk to John about this, mom."

"His parents have met you already, haven't they?"

"Uh… yes."

"Then I feel I should get to meet the newest member of our family. I'll be there Friday night and I'll e-mail you my flight plans. Make sure you're easy to find."

"Mom--"

"Got to go now, honey. I'll see you Friday."

"--Mom?"

Cam looked at the phone as it began beeping. He sighed and hung it back up.

Maybe John was free for lunch.


"C'mon, Rodney… I'll make that chocolate soufflé you like so much."

Rodney looked up at him, interested. "And you won't let Mitchell eat it all?"

"I'll make it just for you, Rodney. Cameron won't get any," John promised.

"With the chocolate sauce?"

"With the espresso chocolate fudge sauce."

Rodney sighed, "Fine. I can't believe I'm letting myself be bribed by a stupid Air Force disc jockey. Isn't this against some military law or something?"

John shrugged, "Maybe."

"So when is she coming?"

"On Friday," John said with a small smile. "My mom really wants to meet you, Rodney. She was disappointed that she didn't get to last time."

"A well orchestrated plot on my part, Sheppard," Rodney boasted.

"You got stuck off-world on some Ori-worshipping planet for two and a half weeks, Rodney."

Rodney waved his hands. "Whatever." He pushed some papers over to John. "Check these."

John pulled the equations towards him and began to glance them over.


"Hey, so my mom is coming into town on Friday."

John froze and stopped mixing his marinade. "What?"

Cameron offered him a weak smile. "I'm really sorry, I tried to talk her out of it but she sorta… strongholded me into it."

"Well," John said softly. "She'll get to meet my mom then."

Cameron's eyes widened. "Your mom is coming?"

"Yeah, it just got finalized today. I was going to tell you tonight."

John went back to his marinade. He was going to let four steaks soak in it overnight. Daniel had been complaining about the lack of real meat lately and so John had stopped at the butcher's on the way home.

"Hey," Cameron said gently, walking over to John. "It'll be fine."

John wasn't sure about that. He'd never met anyone's parents before. Rodney's and Daniel's were dead and John had no past relationships to speak of. Cameron's hand landed softly on John's shoulder, just sitting there, letting John absorb its presence.

"What if… what if she doesn't like me?" John asked in a small voice.

"She'll love you."

"You can't be sure."

Cameron smiled at him. "She'll love you because I love you."

John flushed and ducked his head. Every time Cameron said it, John still couldn't believe it. John had never told anyone he loved them before. Not even his parents. He really hoped they knew that he loved them. Or at least John thought that's what it was.

"I love you," Cameron whispered again.


John finished loading the dishwasher and left Daniel and Rodney on the couch to argue over the latest history channel special. John secretly agreed with Daniel but he'd never tell Rodney that. Rodney had all but moved in by now and John was going to talk to Daniel about letting him have one of the guest rooms.

John pressed the button to turn on the dishwasher and when he spun around his heart skipped a beat when he found Cameron leaning against a wall watching him. Cameron watched him a lot. Before John found it disconcerting, now it was comforting.

"Want to go up to my room?" John asked.

Cameron nodded and followed John up the stairs and to his room. John shut the door softly behind him. He knew that Daniel, at least, would check on them before going to bed and John thought Rodney might as well. They both worried although Daniel showed it more than Rodney did.

John hovered nervously by the door as Cameron took a seat on the bed. Cameron patted the space next to him and John toed off his boots by the door and walked over. He gently sat on the edge next to his boyfriend.

"John, I want to…" Cameron drifted off.

John turned to face him as the other man leaned back against the headboard, stretching his legs out in front of him. He bent his knees slightly and spread his legs. Cameron chewed on his lip as he waited for John to decide what he wanted to do. John felt his heart beating rapidly in his chest as he slowly moved towards Cameron. He slowly scooted into the space between Cameron's legs and his boyfriend linked his arms around John's chest, settling them low on his belly. John very slowly relaxed against Cameron, leaning back into his chest and allowing the other man to hold him. John settled a hand on Cameron's thigh and another one on top of the hands on his stomach.

He could feel Cameron breathing behind him, his breaths were strained, like Cameron was trying not to move too much in case he scared John off. John thought it might still happen.

They'd never sat like this before, so close together. John wondered if that was weird for two people who were engaged to be bound for eternity.

"Cameron?"

"Hmm?"

"This is nice," John said quietly.

He felt his boyfriend let out a soft sigh of relief.

"If you ever…" Cameron drifted off. "Just tell me."

John filled the blank in with 'feel uncomfortable/stifled/hot/trapped/too close/want to do this again'.

"I will." John paused. "Talk to me."

It was a request that John made often. John's life had been so full of screaming and then so much silence. He liked when Cameron just talked, about anything, everything. He liked when Rodney went on and on about wormholes and physics and stupid people. He liked when Daniel went off on tangents about beginning civilizations and Egyptian gods.

"I think we should get married in the Spring," Cameron said. "It's supposed to be a time of new beginnings."

"It is?"

"Well I was thinking along the lines of flowers beginning to bloom again, grass being green…"

John had always been a fan of winter. When it was so cold outside you couldn't feel a single thing. He remembered pressing sore body parts against frozen metal signs to relieve the pain. His father hated the cold because they'd been too poor to afford any sort of central heating.

"Sure."

John pulled his hand off of Cameron's thigh and used it along with his other to pick up one of his boyfriend's hands. He turned Cameron's warm hand over in his, tracing the lines.

"We can keep it small."

John made a noise, "I have a lot of family."

"Me too."

"And they'll all want to come."

And really, John wanted them too, because for so long he hadn't had anyone to come to anything of his.

"Mine too." Cameron sighed. "Okay, so semi-small."

"Who will be your best man?"

"Hmm… who will be yours?"

John thought about it. "I don't know. I can ask Daniel or Rodney or maybe just ask them both. Can I have two?"

"How about you ask Rodney and I ask Daniel?"

That seemed pretty reasonable. "Okay."

"Wedding colors?"

"There are wedding colors?"

"I was thinking navy blue and silver," Cameron said.

John liked that. Very Air Force. "Okay."

"What kind of cake?"

"No citrus."

"How about vanilla with strawberry filling and butter cream frosting?"

"How long have you been thinking about this?"

Cameron didn't hesitate. "One year, six months and two days."

"Since our first date?"

"Yeah, pretty much. I was so far gone on you by then, John… I was a lost cause."

"Why did you…" John took a deep breath. "You never gave up."

"I knew you would be worth it. And you are."

The air around them floated back into silence and John sighed.

"How about May?" John asked.

"May sounds perfect."


John flinched as he stepped into the mess hall. There were four men on the ground, fighting, with several others surrounding them. Most were trying to pull the four men off of each other, some were wisely staying back.

"What the hell is going on in here?" John asked loudly in a deadly voice.

Immediately all action stopped and all four men collapsed to the ground and turned to look up at John.

"Sir, we just--"

"It's just a mis--"

"Sir--"

"Sir, Sergeant--"

John held up his hand. "Save it. Report to the infirmary immediately and then to my office. If I'm not there when you arrive, you wait there. Is that understood?"

The four men stood up with a wince and they all nodded towards John.

"Understood, sir."

"Dismissed."

The men hightailed it out of there, one limping slightly. John looked at the others standing around.

"Is anyone else hurt?"

About twenty heads shook at once.

"Good. I won't stand for fighting on this base, if you have a problem, you take it outside. Is that understood?"

"Yes, sir," twenty voices said in unison.

"As you were," John said.

John moved onto the lunch line and started loading up two trays, one for him and one for Rodney. He would drop Rodney's off at his lab and then he had an ass-kicking to deliver. Well, four ass-kickings.


Cam jolted out of bed at the sound of John whimpering. It was a nightmare night. He slipped on a shirt and left his room, gesturing for Daniel to go back to bed. Cam slipped into John's room and shut the door behind him. He pulled up the chair John had by the window--used exclusively for reading or napping--and took a seat. He reached out and grabbed John's hand in his, running his thumb across the back.

A few minutes later, John's eyes were open and they found Cam's in the darkness. The hand in Cam's squeezed and Cam wished all over again that he had the power to get rid of John's demons. He wished that he could at least have the power to soothe John after a nightmare. Instead he sat in a chair by his fiancé's bed.

"Do you want to talk about it?" Cam asked gently.

"I… I don't know how," John admitted. "I… there was…" John paused and looked away from Cam. "I got a lot of chocolate."


John's mom was flying in an hour before Cam's so they decided that they would just wait at the airport for Cam's mom to arrive. John was sitting in the passenger's seat on the way to the airport. He was alternating between bouts of nervousness (Cam's mom) and bouts of excitement (his mom).

Cam was excited because he loved both of the moms. After meeting John's mom, he usually talked to her on the phone with John once a month. John was so close to his mom that sometimes Cam felt like a bad son for only calling his own mom once a month.

But more importantly, Cam loved John's mom because she could make John smile. Cam could sometimes get a smile or two out of John, but they were awkward and short lived. The smiles produced by Patty Mason were so huge and real that they lit up John's entire face.

He had waited on introducing John to his mom because Cam knew his mom could be a little… overwhelming. She was a wonderful lady but sometimes a little strict and too honest and just a bit brazen. Exactly the kind of person who would make John nervous. Cam hadn't explained about John's past to his mom, he kept the promise he'd made to General Mason and hadn't told anybody. Therefore Cam's mom only knew some of the pieces to the puzzle that was John Mason.

Cam was very afraid that his mom wouldn't like John. To most John probably seemed cold and unfeeling. He wasn't very affectionate and when he wasn't on duty, John didn't speak very loudly. She would be there for such a short time that Cam didn't think it was long enough for her to accurately gauge the depth of John's feelings for Cam. Cam wasn't sure he'd accurately gauged the depth of John's feelings.

"Your mom is staying at your apartment, right?" John asked, for the twelfth time.

"Yes."

"And you're staying there too?"

"Yeah."

"Okay," John said quietly.

"I'm sure we'll be over at your house for most of the weekend."

"Okay."

John didn't sound too reassured by that, Cam thought.

"So, McKay is moving in?"

John nodded. "Yeah."

Cam desperately wanted to ask John what the living situation would be when they got married. He didn't think John was ready to live alone with him now and Cam didn't see that changing in the four months between now and May. He wondered if he would be offered the other guest room so he could at least sleep down the hall from his husband. Cam thought that sounded pretty great.

"Daniel--" John cut himself off and took a deep breath. "Daniel says I should talk about this with you."

Cam blinked. "About McKay moving in? The man practically lives there already."

"No," John said with a shake of his head. "About you moving in."

"Me…? I didn't… I mean… wait, what?"

Cam pulled into a parking space in the short term parking and parked the car. He pulled the keys out of the ignition, unbuckled his seatbelt and turned to look at John.

John was fidgeting with his own seatbelt and didn't meet Cam's eyes as he said, "I… I don't know about sharing a bed, not yet, Cameron… but I talked to Daniel about letting you move in."

"When?"

John shrugged. "You can move in when my mom leaves."

"Where would your parents stay when they visit?" Cam asked.

John looked up at him and blinked. "My room," he said, matter-of-factly and as though he couldn't believe Cam had asked that.

"Okay," Cam said.

"Okay?"

"Yeah, okay."

Cam leaned across the seat and reached for John, hooking a hand around his fiancé's neck. John took the hint and moved closer to Cam and their lips met in the middle. It was a short kiss that left Cam wanting more. He slowly broke it off and John offered him a small smile.

Cam returned it.

"C'mon, let's go get the moms."


When John's mom arrived, the two of them shared their usual extremely long hug. Cam wasn't as jealous anymore because now he got hugs and kisses from John and he got them whenever he wanted them. He was jealous of the smile that the hug produced. John turned to him, beaming, and pulled Cam into a spontaneous hug, tight and full of happy laughter.

"Don't hog him, John," Patty said with a twinkle in her eye. "Let me have a chance to greet my son-in-law."

And Jesus, Cam thought, he was a son-in-law.

Patty reached for Cam and pulled him into a long hug of his own. Of course nowhere near the epic length of John's hug, but a long hug just the same. It left Cam smiling and he wondered if he looked half as happy as John did. John reached out and grabbed Cam's hand in his own, interlocking their fingers when the hug finished.

"Do you want something to drink, mom?" John asked. "We have about forty-five minutes until Cam's mom arrives."

"A drink would be lovely, John." She smiled. "And you can tell me what you've been up to since Tuesday."

John nodded. "Cam has wedding ideas."

"Oh, wonderful. You can tell me all about them over some iced tea."


When Cameron's mom arrived, she gave Cameron a hug and John a dark look. John tried to remember that he was a lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force and had faced much worse than her, but nothing had ever really mattered this much. Cameron loved his mom and John was pretty sure he loved Cameron so John would love Cameron's mom too.

"Mom, this is Lieutenant Colonel John… uh, this is John and his mom--Patty Mason. John, Patty this is my mom--Wendy Mitchell."

John held his hand out politely. "How do you do, ma'am?"

She didn't answer, but she did shake John's hand. She also shook the hand that John's mom held out.

"Any bags to pick up, mom?" Cameron asked.

She gestured to her carry on. "It's all in here, honey."

Cameron smiled. "Great, the car is in short term parking."

John met Cameron's eyes as they left the airport. He was pretty sure this wasn't going very well at all.


John flopped down onto his bed and his mom sat down beside him. She ran a hand through his hair.

"I'm sure it will get better, honey."

"She hates me," John said quietly.

"I'm sure she doesn't hate you, John. No one could hate you."

John swallowed, "Lots of people have hated me, mom."

"They didn't know you, John."

"Right now she's probably convincing Cameron that I'm not worth his time. She'd be right."

"John James Mason," his mom said sternly. "I don't ever want to hear you say that again, do you hear me?"

John flushed and nodded. "Yeah, sorry."

"John… Cameron loves you. It's written all over his face. I don't think he's the kind of man who would leave you because his mother wants him too."

"I would leave Cameron if you wanted me to," John said softly.

"I know, sweetie, but I think the two of you are very different in that way."

"I wanted to make a good impression."

"I think you did."

John sighed, "I hope so."


"No, absolutely not, Cam."

Cam stood up and faced his mom. "You don't even know him!"

"I just had dinner with him! He didn't smile once! That man is unhappy and he'll make you unhappy, too."

"He's not unhappy, mom. John just doesn't… smile… a lot," Cam finished weakly.

"Do I look like I was born yesterday, Cameron?"

Cam winced at the full name. "Of course not, mom, but I love him!"

"What about Daniel? Have you thought about dating him instead? He seemed happy. And he was so polite and charming…"

"John is all of those things, mom."

"No… there's something wrong with him Cam, you're just fooling yourself, son. That man is not right for you. He's quiet and shy and he hid behind his mother almost the whole time!"

"He loves her!"

"He's a bit old to be hiding behind his mom, Cameron."

"He's not hiding behind her!" Cam defended. "John is a great man, mom. His men all look up to him, he has several commendations from the Air Force, he's solved two Millennium problems and he loves me!"

Her face softened for a moment. "He's said that? You've heard him say that, Cam?"

"Yes!" Cam lied. Because to him, John did say it. Every time he let Cam touch him. Every time he let Cam comfort him, John was saying 'I love you'. Just not with words.

His mother studied him for a moment. "Alright, I'm willing to give him another chance. But know this, Cameron, so far, I am not impressed."


John got up early to make muffins for breakfast. He was making three different kinds--chocolate chocolate chip, cinnamon apple, and banana nut. He hoped Cameron's mom liked at least one of those.

Cooking had somehow become John's nervous activity. Daniel swears that he's gained ten pounds since moving in with John. John was mostly sure he was joking.

John carefully spooned the apple cinnamon batter into the large muffin cups. Instead of making twelve cupcake sized muffins, John was making six large muffins of each.

"Hey, John."

John looked up to see Daniel, still in his pajamas, hovering at the entrance to the kitchen. It was a little past four am and John hoped he hadn't been the one to wake Daniel.

"Hey, Daniel."

Daniel opened the fridge and pulled out some milk. John got him down a glass and handed it to him. Daniel took it with a smile and poured some milk into it. After doing that, Daniel heaved himself up onto the counter, a foot or so away from where John was baking.

Daniel was quiet as he drank his milk. John liked how Daniel could be quiet. Sometimes his best friend would go on and on about something and that would be exactly what John needed from him. Other times John wanted company, but not words and Daniel got that too.

John slid the muffin tin into the oven and rinsed out his bowl. John got to work on the chocolate muffins. He measure out flour and cocoa powder and all the other ingredients that he would mix together. John had been in the middle of mixing in the chocolate chips when he found himself saying, "His mom hates me, Daniel."

Daniel's glass of milk settled onto the counter and Daniel gently touched the tip of his foot to John's side to get his attention.

"She just doesn't know you, John."

"That's what my mom said."

Daniel smiled. "I've always thought she was smart."

"I want her to like me. I-I have to remember to smile more, I think," John said hesitantly. "And maybe I should talk more. I… what do you think?"

"I think you should be yourself, John," Daniel said softly.

"She doesn't like me when I'm myself."

"Then it's her loss."

"What if it's mine?" John whispered, looking up at Daniel.

Daniel shook his head. "Mitchell won't leave you because of her."

"Promise?"

Daniel smiled sadly, "Yes, John. I promise."


When Cam let him and his mom into John's house, he was greeted with the scent of… well he wasn't sure what it was, but it smelled good. He wondered how long John had been up baking.

Almost as soon as he took his coat off, Cam was waylaid by Daniel who directed Cam away from his mom and into his and John's office.

"Jackson I can't just leave my mom out there with John--"

"Patty's out there."

Cam breathed a small sigh of relief. "Okay."

"We have a problem."

Cam didn't like the sound of that. "We do?"

"John is convinced you're going to leave him because your mom hates him," Daniel said pointedly.

Wincing, Cam said, "I wouldn't leave him."

"Ah… so your mom does hate him."

"She's going to give him another chance."

"Meaning he failed his first one."

Sometimes it was really frustrating to have smart friends. "Meaning my mother has unreasonable expectations."

Daniel gave Cam a hard look. "If you break him, Cam… if you hurt him at all…"

Cam swallowed, "I couldn't. I wouldn't."

"Good. Because John has been through enough, and honestly, I'm not going to sit by and let your mother have a chance to hurt him more."

Cam nodded stiffly. "Got it."

"Then we're okay."


John tried not to rearrange the muffins on the plate again. Daniel had humored him all morning, not saying anything as John re-arranged the muffins four times, scrubbed the counters twice, and folded and re-folded the blankets on the back of the couch. John wasn't normally this restless or this OCD, he just needed to keep busy.

Then John's mom had come down the stairs and John had stopped fidgeting and made her breakfast.

John wished Rodney were there so that John could get distracted in numbers and problems that he could solve. But Rodney was packing up his apartment, or so he said, but he would be there for dinner. John just wondered who else would be.

Then Cameron walked in, with his mother, and before John could get more than a glimpse of his boyfriend Daniel stole him away leaving John with his mom and Cameron's mom.

John tried to smile a little at Cameron's mom.

"Would you like a muffin, Mrs. Mitchell?" John asked, gesturing lightly to the baked goods on the table.

Her smile was strained as she said, "I would love one, John. What kind do you have?"

"There's chocolate chocolate chip, banana nut, and cinnamon apple."

"Oh, I'll take a cinnamon apple, dear."

John nodded and got down a small plate from the cupboard.

"Anything to drink?"

"Do you have any juice?"

"We've got apple juice and cranberry juice."

"I'll take some apple juice, if you don't mind."

Cameron's mom sat down at the table next to where Daniel had been sitting and next to where John's mom was sitting. John placed a cinnamon apple muffin on the small plate and walked it over and set it in front of Wendy Mitchell. He then went back and filled up a glass with apple juice for her.

There was an awkward silence as John stood in the kitchen watching the two moms eat breakfast.

When Cameron finally came back in, John felt some of the tightness in his chest ease. He brought down another plate and plopped a banana nut muffin onto it. Cameron came into the kitchen, to John, and accepted the plate. He leaned in close to John and gently rested a hand in the center of John's lower back.

"Good morning," Cam said quietly.

"Good morning, Cameron," John answered softly.

"Thank you for the muffin."

"Sure."

He leaned in and gave John a small peck on the cheek. John was pretty sure it was the first time they'd ever kissed in front of someone else. If a kiss on the cheek counted.

"Did you make any coffee?"

John nodded, "Daniel's still standing isn't he?"

Cameron let out a soft laugh. "I supposed you're right about that."

Cameron reached up to grab a mug and John reached forward to grab a coffee pot. In an almost synchronized move Cameron lowered the mug and John poured some coffee out for him.

"What are your plans for today?" John asked.

His boyfriend shrugged. "Not sure."

"Well, I think it's going to rain."

"Probably," Cameron agreed. "McKay's coming for dinner, right?"

"Yeah."

"Well, let's go out for lunch then."

John shook his head. "I have to go to the mountain for a couple of hours. I'm working with Colonel Carter and Rodney on some energy calculations."

"When are you going in?"

John glanced at his watch. "An hour or so."

"That's plenty of time to make lunch," Cameron said.

John gave him a look. "Since when has anything Colonel Carter, Rodney and I do taken just a couple of hours?"

"Oh. Yeah, you're right. Hmm."

"Are you working tomorrow?"

"No."

"How long is your mom staying?"

John shrugged, "I'm not sure."

"Well how about I take Patty and my mom out to lunch with Daniel and then we'll meet you back here for dinner?"

John offered his boyfriend a wary look. "Maybe I should call Colonel Carter and cancel."

"I'll be fine," Cameron told him.

John was little more worried about what his mom might say to Cameron's mom.

"I should cancel."

"Don't cancel, really," his boyfriend insisted. "It's just lunch, John. What could possibly happen?"


Cam took his mom, John's mom and Daniel--who Cam thought was kind of like John's live-in mom--to a nearby restaurant that he and John frequented. It had a nice atmosphere, nice food, and great service.

"Colonel Mitchell! Welcome!" The hostess greeted him.

"Hey, Megan."

"Colonel Sheppard's not with you today?"

"Nope. His mom is here though," Cam gestured to Patty Mason.

Megan held out her hand. "It's a pleasure to meet you. Colonel Sheppard is a wonderful guy."

Patty took it, "Thank you. I'm quite fond of him myself."

Cam laughed. "We have four today, Megan."

"Sure thing, Colonel Mitchell."

"How many times have I told you to call me Cam?"

She grabbed four menus and grinned at him. "Probably close to a million by now."

Cam rolled his eyes. "And yet you still don't do it."

"Nope. Follow me, please."

She led them to a nice table towards a window and off to the side. It was a bit late for the lunch crowd, as Cam had held out hope that John would finish early and be able to join them.

Cam sat next to his mom while Daniel held a chair out for Patty before taking the empty seat next to her. Megan handed them their menus.

"Your waiter will be with you shortly." She smiled.

"Thanks, Meg," Cam said again.

"No problem, Colonel Mitchell. Say 'hi' to Colonel Sheppard for me, too, will ya?"

"Will do," Cam promised with a smile.

"Do you come here a lot, honey?" Cam's mom asked.

Cam nodded. "Yeah, it's close enough to base that John and I can come here for lunch if we get an hour."

"Any recommendations?"

"John and I usually get the special, but we've both had the tri-tips and the ribs."

Wendy laughed, "I think I'll stick to something a little less messy, dear."

Daniel glanced at Cam over the top of his menu and Cam offered a reassuring smile. So far, so good.


"So tell me more about John," Cam's mother said as they waited for their food to arrive.

"I've told you about him," Cam said. "He's all I talk about."

"You've told me that he likes Ferris wheels, flying and cooking. Am I to assume that's all there is to the man?"

Cam groaned. "What else do you want to know?"

"Has he always wanted to be in the Air Force?"

"He always wanted to fly," Patty said. "John loves flying."

"Cam was pretty much born with a joystick in his hand."

Cam ignored the snigger from Daniel that statement produced.

"Mom," Cam whined. "Not the baby stories."

"Hush, Cameron. It is my prerogative as a mother to share these with future family." She offered Cam a twinkling smile. "Cam only ever wanted to be in the sky. I remember when he was three, he begged to go to a nearby air show--three! Everyone else his age wanted Sesame Street and cookies, but not my Cam. I imagine John was the same way…?"

Cam shifted awkwardly and a look of pain floated across Patty Mason's face. Cam was pretty sure that when John was three he only begged for his father to stop.

"No," John's mom said quietly. "John didn't ask for much."

"Ah," said Wendy Mitchell with a small smile. It quickly shifted into a frown, "Does John go by another last name? I thought the waitress called him Colonel Sheppard… I could have sworn Cam said your last name was Mason."

Everyone at the table, who wasn't Cam's mom, froze. John wasn't ashamed of being adopted, in fact, Cam was pretty sure his fiancé considered it to be the best thing that ever happened to him, but Cam couldn't tell his mom about it without explaining more, and that, he was sure, John was ashamed of.

"Sheppard is John's father's last name," Patty said finally.

She let the assumption hang in the air that she had been previously married. Cam shifted uncomfortably again.


After spending three hours with Rodney and Carter, John knew why he'd joined the Air Force and hadn't gone down the science path. People with doctorates never got along and never agreed.

He stood there and rubbed his temples as Rodney and Carter fought over something else. Again.

"Look, McKay, the calculations don't provide for--"

"Yes, they do! Sheppard already did the math!"

"I'm not questioning John's math, I'm questioning your application of it to--"

"My application?! My application is perfectly feasible, something I don't expect your small, puny brain to understand! Sheppard allowed for--"

"I know he did! I can see it, McKay! I just don't think you allowed for--"

"It's right there!"

"That's something else, Rodney."

"What? No it isn't."

"Yes it is."

"No it isn't."

John sighed. They'd already gone through seven rounds of 'yes it is' and 'no it isn't'. Rodney had been right four of those times and Carter the other three. John wisely chose not to butt in.

Instead he pulled up the rest of the math that they had yet to do. It was complicated and challenging and sometimes, at night, John would dream about it; numbers would float through his head. It was beautiful.

John loved numbers. They made sense. They had answers and perfections and all the other things that John had never had in real life. Best of all, numbers were in everything. They were all over the universe, if you knew to look for them. And John knew to look for them.

The cell phone in his pocket started to buzz and John quietly slipped out of the room to answer it.

"Sheppard."

"John?"

"Daniel?"

"Where are you?"

"On the mountain, so my signal will probably cut out at any time. What's up?"

"We're heading home from lunch now, Mitchell picked up something to go for you and Rodney."

John glanced at the door he'd just exited through. "I think we're close to calling it a day."

"Okay… is that John?" John heard someone in the background ask. "Give me the phone, Jackson." There was a rustling sound and then, "John?"

"Hi, Cameron."

"Hey. Lunch seemed to go okay."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah. Your mom can definitely win someone over."

"She's really awesome like that."

"Yup. When will you be finished there?"

John looked again towards the room where Rodney and Carter were still fighting.

"I'll leave now."

"I'll meet you at your house then."

"Okay."

"Bye, John," Cameron said softly.

"Bye, Cameron."

John shoved his phone back into his pocket and had his hand on the lab door and of course, that's when red lights started flashing and a voice came over the intercom announcing that the base was now under quarantine lockdown.


Cam had just started the car when his phone rang.

"Mitchell."

"Cameron?"

"John? Didn't we just talk?"

"Yeah, uh…"

Cam cringed at the sounds in the background.

"What's that noise?"

"The quarantine alert."

Cam blinked, "Well, damn."

"Yeah."

"So you're gonna be late?"

"Yeah."

"What happened?"

"Not sure. SG-7 was scheduled to arrive back sometime today. I guess they brought extra life forms back with them."

"I don't like the sound of that," Cam said with a frown. "How about you just stay put in McKay's lab, all safe and sound?"

There was a long pause. "You don't really think I'm going to do that, do you?"

Cam shook his head before remembering he was on a cell phone. "Yeah, I guess not. I'll explain it to the moms."

"Thanks."

"If you need anything, just call."

"I will."

"I love you," Cam said softly.

"I know."


"Sergeant," John said, poking his head into Sergeant Bates' room.

"Yes, sir?" Bates asked, standing up and saluting John. John offered a crisp salute in return.

"I need you to get thirty guys, post them at all the exits and make sure no one leaves this mountain until the quarantine has cleared."

"Yes, sir."

"And no," John said, preempting the man's next question. "I don't know how long that will be. The standard is forty-eight hours."

"Got it, sir. Should I post more men around the base?"

John shook his head. "I want as many people as possible to stay out of the hallways."

"Yes, sir."

"Notify me when they're in position."

"Yes, sir."


John was bored. He was bored four hours ago when the quarantine began, and he was bored now. After about an hour of creating a rotating schedule of personnel to guard the exits, sending out notifications to off-world teams, arranging non-housed personnel into unoccupied rooms, and various other tasks, John was ready for lunch. And dinner. Although maybe not in that order.

"Sheppard! Come look at these!"

John looked up from his MENSA level sudoku and stood up, setting the book aside. John stood next to Rodney in front of three large white boards with scribbled equations all over them.

"What about them?"

"There's something wrong with them."

"Of course there's something wrong with them."

Rodney stared at him. "Well?! What is it?!"

John startled. "Oh. It's allowing for a denser composition of this compound," John gestured to one of the boards. "Then exists." John squinted… "Is that subspace? Is that even a compound?"

"I'm really beginning to doubt the credence of those PhDs, Sheppard. This is jell-o."

John blinked. "You're mapping out an equation for the viscosity of a dense jell-o?"

"For jell-o shots."

"…"

"What?"

John shook his head. "Are you sure the alcohol would make it denser?"


Cam quickly discovered that there really wasn't much at John and Daniel's house to entertain middle aged women with. So they broke out the Scrabble. Cam had vowed to never again play with Daniel, but he found himself doing just that. He also vowed to never play with John or McKay again either. Cam was pretty much alone in a house full of geniuses and they exploited that fact every time they played some kind of game.

Eleven months into dating, John had taken pity on him and had made them form teams. Cam wished that John had also made it so that he was on Cam's team. Instead, Cam was always stuck with Daniel while McKay got John. Cam still wasn't sure how that had happened.

"So you said John was stuck at work?" Cam's mom asked.

"Uh, yeah he can't get away."

"Do you know how long he'll be?" She asked.

Cam hesitated, "It could be a while."

"How long is a while, dear?"

Cam shifted and rearranged his tiles again, this time to spell 'dog' instead of 'god'. "It could be a couple of days, mom."

"A couple of days? He's not coming home tonight?"

He glanced at Daniel and sighed. "The base went under quarantine for something and John got stuck there."

John's mom looked alarmed at that, "Quarantine?"

"It happens all the time," Daniel cut in. "Someone gets a bug and they just want to make sure it stays contained."

"So this is… normal?" Patty asked.

"Yeah, every… few weeks or so," Cam confirmed.

"That seems… quite frequent, Cam." His mother said.

"Just a hazard of the job, mom," Cam answered weakly.

"A hazard of… deep space telemetry…?"

Cam groaned. It was going to be a long night.


"Hey, so Sam and I--what's that?"

"A remote controlled airplane," John answered. He zoomed the airplane low and over Rodney's head before turning it back around to circle the room again.

"I can see that, where'd you get it?" Rodney asked, following the plane's movements.

John shrugged, "Made it."

"You made it? Out of what?"

"Spare parts."

Rodney eyed him suspiciously. "Spare parts of what?"

"Not sure. They were sitting in a crate in Zelenka's lab."

"Zelenka doesn't have a lab."

"Oh?"

"And he doesn't have a crate full of spare parts."

"Really?" John flew the plane over Rodney's head again.

"I have a crate of parts I use for calculations."

"Oh, well I don't think these were yours."

John looked up at his plane again. Rodney reached over him towards the still half full crate.

"My name is on the side," the astrophysicist said.

"Oh?" John squinted to look at the box.

"Don't play dumb, Sheppard! It says in huge block letters… 'DO NOT TOUCH, PROPERTY OF DR. RODNEY MCKAY, (PhD, PhD, PhD)'!"

"I guess I didn't see that."

"See it?! You'd have to be blind as a bat to miss it!"

"C'mon, Rodney," John said. "I'm so bored. I promise to return all the parts to you."

Rodney huffed and crossed his arms over his chest. "I can't believe you built a remote controlled airplane out of half dead computer parts. You're wasting your life in the Air Force."

"Will you stop being mad if I let you fly it?" John asked, holding out the remote.

Rodney eyed it before taking the controller from John. "How fast can it go?"

"By my calculations it should at least be able to…"


"Will I see John again before I leave tomorrow?" Cam's mom asked.

They were driving back to Cam's house for the night. He had lost spectacularly at Scrabble. He still wasn't sure how that had happened.

"I'm not sure. Quarantine is usually for forty-eight hours."

"Hmm."

"It's not like he planned this, mom."

"I know, dear."

"What do you think of his mom?"

"They don't look at all alike. He must get his coloring from his father," she answered.

Cam had never seen a picture of John's first parents. He was pretty sure that John didn't have any.

"Uh, yeah."

"But Patty seems like a very nice lady."

"She is. She's great," Cam said with a grin. He parked the car in front of his apartment and turned it off. He turned to look at his mom, "John loves her to death."

"They do seem to have a close relationship," she commented. "A bit unusual for a man his age."

Cam shrugged, "I guess."

"And you love him, Cameron? Truly love him?" She asked, turning in her seat to face him.

"Yes," Cam answered honestly, meeting her gaze. "I truly love him, momma. When I'm with him… when I'm with him, it's better than flying. He's amazing mom, but John's had… he's had a rough life and he tends to keep to himself. He's not very open, so I'm not sure you'll ever get to see what I see. I wish you could, because he's beautiful, mom. And he loves me."

His mom smiled, somewhat sadly and nodded, "Okay, Cam okay."

"I want you to approve of him, mom," Cam said quietly.

"Would it make a difference if I did?"

"To me," Cam answered softly. "It would make a difference to me."

"Bring him home for a weekend, Cameron."

Cam nodded slowly, "Okay, momma."


"I'm sorry, Cameron."

"You have nothing to be sorry for, John."

John sighed and shifted a little on his bed. He was in a spare room at the SGC. Rodney was lightly snoring in a bed on the other side of the room. John envied his ability to sleep so easily.

Cameron had called him about an hour ago and they'd been quietly talking on the phone since. John loved the sound of his boyfriend's voice.

"I'm not--I mean--I know that people don't like me."

"People like you, John. Hell most of the Marines think you're God's gift to the SGC. Even General Landry loves you, and that man likes nobody."

"They don't really know me," John said quietly.

"What about Lorne? Stackhouse? Markham? They're your team. They know you and I'm pretty sure all three of them worship the ground you walk on."

John scoffed, "They don't really know me either, Cameron."

"Neither does my mom, John."

"She knows enough that she doesn't like me."

"She just thinks you're quiet, John and she doesn't know why."

"She thinks I'm unhappy," John guessed.

There was a pause and then, "Yeah."

"You make me happy, Cameron."

"I know."

"I'm… I think that's what it is."

"What what is?"

"This feeling inside of me; I think it's happiness."

Cameron didn't say anything for a few minutes and John began to think he shouldn't have said anything after all.

"John."

"Yeah?"

"You… you weren't happy when you solved those math problems?"

"It's just math, Cameron."

"Or when Daniel descended?"

"I was still angry at him for leaving me," John admitted.

"What about when McKay finally gave you the time of day?"

John frowned, "I was embarrassed that I wanted him to be my friend so much."

"And me? Why am I different?" Cameron asked softly.

To John it sounded like he really couldn't believe he was. To John, he was so completely different that he wasn't even in the same group as Rodney and Daniel.

"I don't know," John answered quietly. "You just are, to me."

"I love you, John," Cameron said and John could hear the smile in his boyfriend's voice.

A small smile slowly stretched across John's face.

"Tell me about the rest of the Scrabble game."

"Ugh, John… you've seen me get my ass handed to me in person, why do you want to hear about it also?"

"I can always just ask my mom."

"Alright, alright… well… I kept getting horrible tiles. I swear I had the z and the x and a q all at once…"


John was released from the mountain almost a day after Cameron's mom had left to go back home. He felt really bad that she had flown all the way to Colorado and then John had gotten stuck in quarantine.

John sighed and finished doing the dishes that Cameron and Daniel had left in the sink. Daniel and John's mom were still sleeping and Cameron had been called off-world. John had to go into work at eight and Daniel would be driving in with him. He figured he could make them breakfast before leaving.

"John?"

John looked up to see his mom smiling at him from a few feet away.

"Hey, mom."

"What are you doing awake, sweetie? It's not even five yet."

John shrugged. "I couldn't sleep, thought I would do the dishes, make breakfast."

"It's early, honey. Why don't you make some tea and come sit with me?" She gestured to the couch.

That sounded like a much better idea than washing dishes and John nodded. He grabbed the electric kettle and filled it with water before returning it to its dock and flipping the on button. While the water heated, John grabbed two tea mugs and set them on the counter.

"What kind do you want, mom?"

John opened the cupboard that had a dozen little boxes of tea. John had bought them in an effort to wean Daniel and Rodney off of their coffee addiction. He was pretty sure that he was the only one who drank any. Sometimes Cameron did, but Cameron also loved his coffee.

"Do you have any peppermint, dear?"

John nodded and grabbed two bags of the peppermint and waited. It didn't take long for the electric kettle to heat up and John dropped a tea bag into each mug, pouring water over the top.

John carried both mugs over to the coffee table in the living room and his mom followed close behind. She took a seat onto the couch next to John.

"Are you cold, mom? I can turn the fire place on."

"That would be lovely, John. Thanks."

John reached for the remote to their fireplace. He and Daniel had upgraded it last year from a traditional fireplace to a gas one, allowing them to turn it on and off with the press of a button. He hit the 'on' switch and adjusted the flame height so that it would keep them warm, but not too hot.

"So where are you guys thinking of holding the wedding, John?"

John thought about it for a second. "There's a couple of parks nearby."

"Where would you want to hold it?"

John blinked. "Caltech."

"Really?" His mom asked.

"Yeah."

"A lot of good things happened for you there," she murmured.

John nodded. "Yeah."

"Why don't you ask them?"

"You can't get married at Caltech, mom."

"Why not?"

"You just… you can't."

"There's no harm in asking, John. It's a beautiful campus and they love you there. You finished three PhDs with them."

"A lot of people have multiple degrees."

"But most don't get them from the same school. They ask you to lecture frequently, don't they?"

"Yeah." John took a sip of his tea.

"And they've asked you to teach there, right?"

John blushed lightly. "A couple of times."

"The worst they can do is say 'no', John."

"We want to get married in May, mom. There will still be classes."

"So?"

"I don't want to disturb them."

"They let those tv shows film on their campus, John, I hardly think a wedding will be more disturbing."

"I… oh. Huh."

"Promise me you'll ask," she said.

"Yes, of course." John blinked. He would do anything his mom asked him to.

She smiled sadly at him and gently touched his arm, "You're a good son, John."


John's mom left fifteen days after arriving. John missed her before her plane had even taken off.

"Hey," Cameron said, slinging an arm around John's shoulders. "Let's go get some ice cream or something."

"I'm not four, Cameron," John protested, letting himself be led out of the airport.

His boyfriend smiled at him. "I know."

"I'm a lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force."

"I know."

"And I'm completely bad-ass," John muttered.

"I know you are," Cameron said with a smile. "How about some strawberry ice cream?"

Strawberry ice cream did sound good… "Only if it has real strawberry pieces in it."

"We'll get Breyer's," Cameron promised.

"I can pick up some bison meat for dinner."

"Hamburgers?"

"Sure."

"With bacon?"

"You know Rodney will insist on it being Canadian bacon."

"I insist on it being real bacon."

"I'll get both," John decided.

"You're way too good to me, John Mason," Cameron said. He leaned over and brushed his lips across John's cheek in a soft and quick kiss.

"But you're buying the ice cream."

Cameron chuckled, "Deal."


"Well?"

Cam opened his eyes to see Daniel looking at him expectantly. "I haven't even had my coffee, Jackson. Well, what?"

"What did Caltech say?" Daniel asked.

Cam eyed him. "What did Caltech say about what?"

Daniel suddenly had a look on his face that Cam interpreted as 'Oh, shit, I shouldn't have said that'. It was something that Cam saw mostly off-world and a few times around McKay.

"Uh, nothing." The archeologist closed up the three books around him, piling them into his arms. "Sorry, gotta go."

He left the room quickly and Cam blinked. It was way too early for this.


Cam swung by John's office around four. John was busy doing… whatever it was he did and Cam was busy looking like he was busy doing whatever he was he did. In reality, Cam was just staring at John.

"John?"

John looked away from his computer to look up at Cam. A soft looked passed across his face and Cam took that as a victory. Someday he would get a hundred thousand smiles of out John. But he wasn't in a hurry. He'd get them eventually. Cam was already counting all of the ones he'd received. A glorious forty-seven.

"Daniel mentioned something about Caltech?"

John nodded and gestured Cam into his office. Cam took the chair in the tiny space between John's desk and the wall. The SGC really needed to start coughing up bigger offices. John would soon be a full-bird colonel and Cam was sure they'd give him a better office then.

John looked at Cam, hazel-green eyes shining in the florescent lighting. "I should have talked to you about it first."

"About what?"

"Um, a place for the wedding."

"You want to get married at Caltech?" Cam asked, blinking. He hadn't realized John had given it that much thought.

John nodded. "Yeah."

"Okay… uh, wow. Caltech sounds great."

"I need permission first."

"Daniel seemed to think they answered."

"They sent a letter."

"And?"

"I, uh, haven't opened it yet. I wanted to talk to you about it."

"Where's the letter?"

John gestured towards his jacket that was hanging from a hook on the wall by the door. Cam stood up and reached into the pocket to pull out a folded envelope.

"Let's open it," Cam said, sitting back down. He handed the letter across the desk to John.

"You open it," John said quietly.

Cam pulled his hand back and nodded. "Okay."

He grabbed the letter opener off of John's desk and pushed it into the top open corner of the letter. He pulled it across the top, slicing the paper open. Cam handed the letter opened back to John and pulled the piece of paper out. He skimmed the contents before looking up and smiling at John.

"They said they would love to have you."

"Really?" John asked. He reached for the letter.

"Yup. Oh, and a Professor Williams…? Says 'hi'."

"She's been my advisor since my second year there," John murmured, reading through the letter. He looked up at Cam, a dazed look on his face. "They said 'yes'."

"We're getting married at Caltech," Cam said with a grin.

"We're getting married at Caltech," John repeated in wonder.


John bribed his team with good food and an even better dessert to help him and Cameron stuff wedding invitations. Cameron's team had helped with the save-the-date cards they'd sent out last month. And now, two and a half months before the wedding, they were sending out invitations.

So there they were--John, Cameron, Lorne, Stackhouse and Markham--all sitting in John's living room, stuffing wedding invitations.

It turned out that John and Cameron knew a lot more people than they thought they did.

John and Lorne had the best handwriting in the group, so they'd been delegated to writing names and addresses on the front. Cameron was putting in the actual invitation along with a piece of tissue paper. Markham was stuffing the smaller cards that would be sent back to John and Cameron stating a dinner preference and whether they were bringing a guest. Stackhouse was putting the smaller cards, and directions, into the larger envelopes and handing them off to John and Lorne to seal and address.

There were a couple hundred people on the guest list. John and Cameron had decided on a cap of seventy-five family members each and the other fifty were personal acquaintances. They were mostly from the SGC, some from Caltech that John knew and a couple friends of Cameron's from previous postings that John hadn't met.

Cameron had assured John that statistically only about half of everyone invited would attend, since it was out of state. John was paying for his mom and dad, as well as forty other immediate family members, in his and Cameron's families, to attend. He was also paying to fly down his team. He'd offered to pay for Cameron's team, as well as Rodney, but Rodney had huffed and said something about making more money than John did (probably forgetting about the money that came with solving two Millennium problems) and Cameron's team had declined, saying they could pay their own way. John's team had tried that, but John knew what they all made and hadn't stood for any of it.

They'd also decided that if someone they really wanted to come, such as General Hammond or one of Cam's buddies, but couldn't because of cost, they would offer to pay their way as well.

The financial discussion had been interesting. John had never had it with anyone else before. His parents had never asked about the amount of money he had and neither had Daniel or Rodney.

Cameron had seemed momentarily affronted that John was so much richer than he was, but had quickly gotten over it. John had solved two math problems worth a million dollars each. He'd also invested, lectured, and done some private work for a few companies. He and Daniel owned the house, so there was no mortgage to pay, and John's car had been paid off for years.

John thought he and Cameron should just get a joint bank account. Cameron was still thinking about it. He'd been thinking about it for three weeks and John worried more with each day that passed. He didn't see what the big deal was about it. If they were getting married, it was forever, right? And they couldn't just live forever with separate bank accounts. Could they?

"Sir."

John shook himself out of his musings and looked to his left to see Lorne handing him a stack of cards to be sealed and addressed.

"Sorry," John said, accepting them.

"No problem, sir."


Two months before the wedding, when everything was so chaotic that John's life had become invitation replies, caterers, bakers, decorators, florists and family, Cameron's mother casually requested that they come to her house for the weekend.

John hadn't had time to sleep in a month, much less do anything more productive than pick a flower for the groomsmen to wear. But there he was on a flight out to Cameron's house for the weekend. He figured he must be insane.

Cameron was sleeping on John's shoulder and John was going through the guest list again, trying to create some sort of a seating arrangement. It was hard when there were still three more weeks for people to send in their acceptance cards, but there wasn't much else he could do with Cameron asleep.

They'd taken Monday off as well and would fly from Cameron's house, down to Pasadena, talk to the Dean of Caltech, as well as a local catering company and a bakery that they'd been in contact with. It was a lot to do in one day, but John was fairly sure that if he and Cameron could tackle the Goa'uld and the Ori, they could handle this.

Well, that's probably what Cameron was thinking. John's thoughts had been a little bit darker.

The lights flashed and the pilot announced their descent. John gently shook Cameron awake and soon they were landing.


Cam had hoped that with time his mom might eventually warm up to John. So he'd taken every phone call and e-mail opportunity to try to win her over to his fiancé.

And then they'd showed up and his mom had directed them to Cam's old room, now a guest room, and then left them to get settled in.

John had shifted uncomfortable, eyes stuck on the single bed and Cam tried not to outwardly show his frustration. He'd told his mom that they would need separate rooms. She'd said 'okay' and that had been the end of that. Apparently, it hadn't.

John's breaths were getting closer and closer together so Cam made a bit of noise walking over to John, so as not to surprise him.

"I'll talk to her, John. I told her we'd need two rooms. If worse comes to worse, I can sleep on the couch," Cam said softly.

He touched the bottom of John's shirt, careful not to touch John's body. He waited until John could figure out his intentions and then Cam very moved his hand up and rested it on John's shoulder.

John often reminded Cam of a spooked horse. Cam would talk in low volumes and approach them very slowly, hands out so that they could see his intentions. He did the same thing with John.

John swallowed, "Yeah, okay."

"Okay," Cam whispered.

He withdrew his hand and gave John's neck a gentle caress and his hand a squeeze before leaving the room.


"I asked for two rooms, mom."

"I don't see why you need them, Cam. You're engaged to be married! Don't tell me you're saving yourself."

Cam sighed and look to his dad for help. His father offered Cam a shrug and a half smile so Cam when back to his mom. She was chopping up onions to go into some sauce for that night's dinner.

"I'll sleep on the couch then."

"It's still cold out at night, you'll freeze."

"I'll have blankets."

"I don't see why you're being so stubborn about this, Cam."

She pushed the onions aside and pulled out some garlic cloves.

"I don't see why I can't just use the other guest room."

"It has stuff in it," she answered.

"I just need the bed," Cam argued. "I talked to you about this on the phone and you said it was alright!"

"I thought you were joking. Can you pass me the rosemary, dear?"

Cam sighed and opened the refrigerator. There was a small bag with a bundle of rosemary and Cam took it out, letting the door shut behind him. He handed it to his mom.

"Well, I wasn't joking."

"I don't understand why you two can't share a bed. That will make for an interesting wedding night."

Cam silently groaned. "Mom, he's a guest. Can't he have his own room?"

"He's not a guest, Cam he's family."

Cam sighed again. "Then we'll go into town and get a hotel."

"Don't be absurd, Cameron," his dad put in. "Wendy let the boy have his own room."

"Frank!"

"Maybe they just don't want the temptation while they're here and I, for one, appreciate that," Frank Mitchell said. "Sorry, son," he said to Cam. "But the last thing I want is to walk in on you and your young man makin' like rabbits up in that old room of yours."

Cam choked, "Dad!"

His father chucked, "Don't be such a prude, son."

"Oh, Frank--leave the boy alone," his mother said with a smile. "Fine, Cam, go clear out the guest room."

"Thanks, mom," Cam said. He bent down to press a kiss to her cheek. Cam quickly left the room, heading back up the stairs to John who was probably really freaking out by now.

"Be back in an hour for dinner!" She called after him.

"We will!"

When he reached his old room, John was still standing there, staring at the bed.

"John?" Cam asked quietly. He entered the room and shut the door lightly behind him.

John flinched a little but turned almost right away to face him.

"I'm gonna sleep in the guest room next door."

There was a visible look of relief on John's face.

"I'm sorry," John said quietly.

"What for?"

"For causing so much trouble."

Cam offered John a soft look and stepped closer to his fiancé. "You definitely aren't causing trouble."

John blinked at him. "Oh, okay."

"Want to take a nap before dinner?"

"Will you sit with me?"

"Yeah," Cam said smiling. "I can sit with you."


"All anyone can talk about is your engagement," Cameron's mom said that night.

John tried to smile a little and loosen his posture. Cameron had a hand on John's thigh, above his knee. It was warm and comforting and John tried to relax. He remembered all the advice that Daniel had coached him with. John's friend had been reluctant to tell John to change things about himself, but John had been insistent. And had hid the coffee until Daniel agreed.

"Really?" Cameron asked, reaching for his lemonade.

Cameron's mom had given John an unreadable look when he'd declined beer or wine with his meal and she'd given Cameron a humoring look when Cameron had done the same.

"Oh, yes. Your Aunt Martha is thrilled about it. I mean, some of them were beginning to think you'd never get married, dear."

Cameron's face flushed. "I'm not that old, mom!"

"Of course, dear."

"And the rest of your family is taking it well, John?" She asked politely.

John nodded. "Yeah. Most of them are very excited."

"Will many of them be able to make it out?"

"Yeah," John said, forcing a small smile to his face to show that he was happy about that fact.

"John's excited to be able to finally show off his alma-mater," Cameron put in with a smile.

"Oh, we didn't realize you had gone there, John. Well, that makes much more sense now," Wendy said surprised.

"Yes," John confirmed. "I've obtained all of my doctorates from Caltech."

"Doctorates?"

Wendy looked surprised at the information and John glanced at Cameron who had an embarrassed look on his face.

"I haven't mentioned that mom?"

"Not to me, dear."

"I've, uh, got three doctorates," John said.

"Three?" Cam's dad asked.

"Yeah."

"What do you do in the Air Force with so many degrees?"

"Um, the same thing as Cameron," John answered.

"You didn't tell me he was so smart, Wendy."

"Well, I hardly knew, Frank," Cam's mom defended.

"Any other hidden secrets, John?" Frank Mitchell asked easily with a smile.

John forced himself to keep the smile on his face as Cam's hand tightened on his leg minutely.

"I've solved two Millennium mathematics problems."

Wendy nodded, "Cam mentioned something about that. I'm not sure I know exactly what that means though."

"They're math problems that were thought to be unsolvable," Cameron put in. "John's well-known in the math world, famous even."

"Really?" Wendy asked.

Cam's parents looked at John in interest.

"Not famous," John said lightly.

Frank laughed. "We'll google you, son."

John winced and Cameron and Wendy laughed. "It's not very interesting."

"Do you have a webpage?"

"Uh… with Caltech since I lecture there."

"We'll be sure to look for it."

"You have a webpage?" Cameron asked.

John just shrugged.

"How come I haven't seen it?"

"I bribed Rodney with massive amounts of chocolate to not tell you," John admitted. "There's a really bad picture of me on there."

Cameron grinned, "Well now I have to see it."


"I think my mom is warming up to you," Cam said the next morning.

He and John had gone out, mugs of coffee in hand, to get some fresh air. Cam was showing him around the farm. John didn't really seem very interested in haystacks, chickens, and cows. He was planning showing John had to milk a cow but wasn't sure how receptive his fiancé would be to that.

"Yeah?"

"I think it helps that you're smart and… uh…"

"And?" John asked softly.

"It's nothing," Cam said, ducking his head.

"Cameron."

Cam sighed. "It's really nothing, John."

"Then why won't you tell me?"

"It will probably upset you," Cam admitted.

"Oh."

John turned his gaze to the horizon. Where acres of land were stretched out until the ground seemed to meet the sky.

"Will you tell me anyways?" John asked, not looking at Cam.

Cam inhaled and slowly let it out. "I think you're beautiful, John."


John thought Cameron had a pretty interesting ceiling. There were small glow-in-the dark stars that peppered the ceiling, matching the night sky. It was complete with constellations and swirls of galaxies. Further proof that Cameron belonged in the sky, that he'd always had higher dreams.

It was 0212.

They'd gone to bed about four hours ago. John thought Cameron was probably at the end of his first REM cycle, maybe onto his second. John wished he could sleep.

It had been a full day. He and Cameron had spent the morning fixing part of the Mitchell's fence with Cameron's dad. Then they'd had lunch and more of Cameron's family had come over. John had spent the afternoon evading questions and hugs and food shoved in his direction. He wasn't skinny, he was fit.

Most of that time, though, John's mind had been on Cameron's statement from that morning. Cameron had been right. It had upset John a little. But probably not for the reason Cameron had been thinking of. John was upset that Cameron had felt he couldn't say that to John. And John was upset that his boyfriend had been right. Just the word 'beautiful' brought back memories that John tried hard everyday to forget.

John slowly got out of bed, barefoot and in just his boxers. He slowly opened his door and walked the two feet to Cameron's room. He tried the doorknob and found it unlocked. John pushed the door open quietly and stood in the doorway looking at his boyfriend. Cameron was sleeping quietly, turned on his side with a pillow in his arms.

For a second John wished he could be that pillow.

But he couldn't. His body and his mind would betray him before he even sat down on the bed. John silently cursed when he felt a hot tear slide down his face. He wiped it away angrily. John's breath hitched and he stared at the man sleeping in front of him.

Sometimes John could admit to himself that Cameron was beautiful. That his boyfriend made John want things that he'd never ever wanted before. Things John didn't think he'd ever want.

He wanted to be tucked under Cameron's arm. He wanted to know what it felt like to have a soft, warm body next to his while he slept. He wanted to know how it would feel to grin so stupidly all the time like Cameron did. John wanted so much.

It wasn't fair, really, that he didn't have all of that now. His mind couldn't forget and his body would always react. John tried to hard to think only about things he wanted to think about. He tried to only react in the ways he wanted to react. But it never worked. And it wasn't fair.

John couldn't believe that a man as wonderful as Cameron would give up so much for him. Cameron could have someone different, someone normal, someone who wouldn't flinch every time he was touched. But Cameron wanted John and John was still stuck on that.

John stepped further into the room and softly shut the door behind him. It felt weird to sort of creep about Cameron's room while he was sleeping but John was more than sure that the other man wouldn't mind and John really just wanted a small touch. Maybe a shoulder or an ankle. Just to reassure himself that Cameron actually existed.

He slowly knelt by Cameron's sleeping figure. John reached out slowly and touched Cameron's wrist. It was warm and the skin was soft and John held his breath as his fingers ghosted up Cameron's arm.

This man was his and all John could offer him were soft touches in the middle of the night.

Another tear fell and then another and John swallowed to try and control them. It never worked, he knew. It was hard to stop the tears before they were ready to stop. John hadn't been able to cry for a long time and then one day he couldn't stop.

John blinked so that the tears gathering in his eyes would fall down and leave his vision clear. This man, this beautiful man, thought John was beautiful. He thought John was worth something. He wanted John. Some days John didn't even want himself.

"Are you crying?" A voice asked softly.

John had never really been one to lie, especially about something that someone could so easily see so he just nodded.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to wake you."

"I don't care," Cameron said immediately. "You know my door is always open to you, John."

He reached a warm hand out and gently wiped the tears off of John's face.

"Do you want to talk about it?"

John closed his eyes as Cameron's fingers grazed his cheek lightly. He said the first thing that came to his mind.

"I hate your pillow."

"I'll get a new one," Cameron answered and John knew that he meant it.

John shook his head and opened his eyes to look at Cameron.

"I don't want to be like this, Cameron," he whispered.

"Like what?"

"Like me," John said quietly. "Like I am."

"I love the way you are, John."

"I don't."

"Then who do you want to be like?" Cameron asked softly. His hand curled around the back of John's neck and rested there lightly.

"I want to be like you. Strong… unafraid…"

Cameron laughed softly. "You really don't get it do you, John?"

"Get what?"

"To me you are strong and unafraid. To me you're the strongest person in the galaxy. You're so amazing to me, John."

"Beautiful," John murmured.

"Yes," Cameron said, nodding. "To me you're beautiful."

John's hand settled on the pillow that Cameron had been clutching and John fisted some of the fabric.

"I hate this pillow."

"I'll get rid of it."

"It's… it's in my place," John stated quietly.

There was a long pause.

"I hate it too," Cameron said softly.

John's breath hitched again and new tears slid down his face.

"Cameron."

"Yeah?"

"Tell me you love me."

"I love you," Cameron said, voice thick with emotion.

"I don't know if you will ever be able to get rid of this pillow."

"I'd rather have it forever, John than live without you."

"My body won't listen to me," John whispered. "It doesn't care that I want to be with you."

"It's been hurt, John. It might--it might never listen to you," Cameron said gently.

"I didn't mean to hurt it."

"I know. It wasn't your fault, John. There was nothing you could have done."

"I was," John swallowed. "I was twelve, I should have known better."

"How could you?" Cameron asked. "He was the adult, John. He did know better."

"I didn't… I didn't know it was wrong until I was fourteen."

Cameron inhaled sharply.

"I hate your parents," he finally said.

"Me too," John whispered.

"John I need--can I… hold you?"

John felt his heart beat pick up and he wiped at the tears on his face before shakily rising to his feet. Cameron moved into the center of the bed and John sat down on the edge. Cameron sat up, leaning against the wall and John moved in between his legs. Two arms wrapped around his stomach and John relaxed into the familiar position.

"John?"

"Yeah?"

"Can I… your dad mentioned another time…?"

John nodded and leaned back against his boyfriend, letting his head rest on Cameron's shoulder.

"I was twenty-two and he was a commanding officer."

"What happened to him?"

"My dad took care of it when he found out."

"You never told anyone?"

"I just wanted to fly, Cameron."

"And the incident a few years ago? Was it off-world?"

"Yeah," John confirmed in a whisper. "I was drugged and there was this woman… she… I was tied up… I think she gave me some kind of aphrodisiac because my mind was screaming 'no' but my body kept saying 'yes'."

Cameron picked up one of John's hands with his.

"Can I ask a person question, John?"

John nodded, "Yes."

"Do you masturbate?" Cameron asked gently.

"Not really."

"Ever?"

"I… it's difficult for me to--to get it up and then it's just… I… I remember things and… it's… I just can't."

"Does it bother you that I do it?"

John shook his hand. "I know it's considered healthy to do it. Daniel and I have talked about it."

"Really?"

"Yeah."

"Do you want to do it more?" Cameron asked curiously.

John flushed and shifted a little. "I don't know."

"What if I… helped?"

"What?" John asked quietly.

"Do you find me attractive, John?"

"Yes," John whispered. "Sorry."

Cameron laughed softly and John felt it vibrate through his body.

"You don't have to be sorry."

"Oh."

"Anyways… you said that your body would betray you. I can't imagine having that happen, John. It must be horrible," he said gently. "But I… I want to help, if you'll let me."

"Help how?" John asked warily.

"Only if you're willing," Cameron reiterated. "I thought maybe you could… watch me and then you'd have something else to think about."

"I--Cameron--"

"I'm not trying to get in your pants, John." Cameron cut in softly. "Although I'm not saying I don't want to, because that would be a lie, but really I just want to help you. Sex has been… it's been really bad for you, John. It's been so horrible that I can't even imagine what it must seem like to you. But it can be really good and I… I just really want you to have a chance to know that. I mean, I'm not even sure it would work or that I'm not suggesting something that might permanently scar you but I just… I wanted to offer."

"Can I think about it?"

"Of course," Cameron answered. "For as long as you want. And I won't be hurt if you say 'no', John."

"Thank you."

"No problem," Cameron assured him softly.

"Have you had many… partners?"

"Um… I'm not sure if you would consider it many. I've slept with three girls and about fifteen guys give or take a couple."

To John that sounded like a lot. He knew it really wasn't. Guys in his old unit had someone new in their bed every week. But still… Cameron was obviously well versed in sex. John wondered for the millionth time what Cameron could possibly see in him that would make him want to give that up for John.

"Cameron?"

"Yeah?"

"Can I… can I touch you?"

"Whenever you want." Cameron answered softly. "Wherever you want."

John slowly let his fingers trail up and down Cameron's arm, much as he had down while his boyfriend had been asleep. Cameron was dressed just like John was--both in their boxers--and John had never had so much skin touching his before. It was hot and it burned and it was all over. John both loved and hated it.

Cameron's arms around him were loose. Loose, John knew, so that if he started to feel uncomfortable he wouldn't have to use any force to move. The arms would just drop to the side and let John go.

John shifted a little so that he could run his fingers up Cameron's right arm to his shoulder. The man behind him shivered but John knew he wasn't cold. There was a chill in the air but everything seemed so hot that John wasn't feeling anything. John turned again, slowly, so that he could run his fingers up Cameron's other arm.

They were getting married in two months and John had never done anything like this. Cameron might never get to do anything like it to John.

"John," Cameron said in a low voice.

"Yeah?"

John turned again and his fingers drifted down Cameron's hand and onto his boxer clad thigh. John quickly moved his land further down onto Cameron's knee. Knees were safe.

"Are you… are you finished moving?" Cameron's voice sounded strained and John frowned slightly.

He immediately pulled his hands off of Cameron's knee and put them back in his own lap.

"Yes, sorry."

Cameron laughed softly and John envied his boyfriend's ability to do so.

"John--as far as I'm concerned you can touch me all day," Cameron said and John could hear a smile in his voice. He gently traced John's fingers with his own. "But my body was definitely reacting to it and I'm not sure you're ready for that, especially since you're so close to me."

John froze and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly.

"Thanks."

"Don't mention it."

"So," Cameron said softly. "What do you think of the farm life?"

"I don't see how we have so much milk to drink if it takes so long to get it out of the cow," John muttered. It had taken him forever to get a single drop out of the cow. Cameron had been finished in about three minutes.

"Once you get the hang of it, it goes a little faster."

"And eating the eggs right as they come out of the chicken is a little bit disturbing."

Cameron laughed. "For me it's disturbing to eat eggs that have been sitting in a carton in the grocery store."

"Or powdered… or fresh out of an MRE… or whatever they try to convince us are eggs in the mess," John added.

His boyfriend laughed again. "Yeah. I guess there are a lot of disturbing things about eggs."

"Your dad seems nice," John commented.

"Yeah."

"Will more of your family be over tomorrow?"

"Probably. I think you piqued their interest."

John frowned, "I'm really not that interesting."

"I think you're very interesting," Cameron countered. "And you're probably somewhat of a mystery to them, John."

"Rodney would laugh if he could hear that," John commented.

Cameron chuckled, "Probably."

"They just all… want to hug me and talk about babies. We're men--we can't have babies."

"They'll figure that out eventually."

"And your aunts were always trying to feed me," John continued. "I've never seen so much food in my life."

"They tend to do that," Cameron admitted. "They probably won't be over until lunch though. We can finish patching the fence in the morning."

"Sounds good," John agreed.

For a moment John forgot about everything. There was just him and Cameron. Cameron was wrapped around him in a way that made John feel safe. A way that made him feel loved.

And then Cameron shifted a little and the back of one of his hands grazed the top of John's boxers and John's whole body reacted. Before John could think about it, he was off of the bed and his back was pressed up against the closest wall. His heart was racing and his breaths were shallow as he pressed his hands against the wall. He squeezed his eyes tight to try and stop the memories from coming.

It didn't work. It never worked.

John reached for the doorknob and quickly left. He was back in his own bed soon enough with a locked door between him and anybody else.

It had been nice while it lasted. John thought his whole life was full of 'nice while it lasted' moments. John just wanted a nice moment that would keep on lasting. He wasn't sure he would ever get that.


Cam watched as John flinched again. He flinched every time Cam's dad hit a nail with a hammer. Cam wasn't sure if it was the loud noise of specifically the noise the hammer was making. Whichever it was, John didn't like it.

Cam wondered, not for the first time, if John had two personalities. Because when he was Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard, John would never allow himself to flinch at the sound of a hammer. But here, on the farm when he was just Dr. John Mason, John flinched and backed away slightly every time the hammer fell.

"John?"

John immediately turned to look at him, not a trace of unease on his face. His fiancé was such an enigma that Cam constantly marveled at John's strength.

"I'm going to get some lemonade, want me to bring you back a glass?" Cam asked.

John seemed to think about it for a second before nodding. "Yes, please."

"Okay. I'll be right back." Cam's gaze flickered to his father. "Will you be okay?"

"You'll just be a few minutes?"

"Yeah."

John briefly looked at Frank Mitchell and then met Cam's eyes again. "Yeah."

"Okay." Cam turned to his dad. "Want something to drink, pops?"

"Some of that iced tea of your mother's," Cam's dad said with a smile.

"I'll see if she has any left."

"Thank you, son."

Cam jogged away, back towards the house. He knew that one of the unofficial rules of dealing with John Mason is that John was never to be left alone with unknown men for any period of time. It was something Daniel had hammered into him over time. Cam knew that on base John was often left with men he didn't know; generals, colonels, men under his command… and he's seemed fine each time. But when he was just John Mason… it was something you didn't do.

Cam thought a shrink would have a field day with John.

"Momma?" Cam called, pushing open the screen door.

"In the kitchen!" Came his answer.

Cam turned left and pushed open the kitchen door. His mom was kneading something on the counter and smiled at Cam as he entered.

"It looks like that fence'll be finished in no time," she commented, jerking her chin towards a nearby window. Cam followed her gaze and could see his dad and John out there still working on the fence.

"Another hour, I think," Cam offered.

He pulled down three plastic cups from the cupboard and found a small tray to carry them on. Cam went to the freezer and pulled out a handful of ice cubes and separated them between the three glasses. Next he went back to the fridge and pulled out the pitcher of lemonade and the pitcher of iced tea. Cam carefully poured the lemonade into two of the cups.

"John doesn't drink?" Wendy asked.

Cam shook his head. "Nope. It's a personal decision, though. I'm not sure he's ever had a drink."

"I see," his mother said wisely.

Cam poured out the iced tea and glanced up at the window again. This time he stopped moving to watch the two figures outside. His dad was talking to John and John's body language was screaming that he felt threatened. Cam quickly put the pitchers back to the fridge and loaded the cups on the tray. His mother's hand stopped him before he could pick it up.

"Give them a minute, sweetie," she said softly.

"What's he saying?"

Cam's mom looked out the window. "I imagine your father is giving him the whole 'what will happen if you hurt him' speech."

Cam swallowed. "What speech is that, mom?"

His mom laughed and went back to her dough. "Probably something about owning several acres of land in which to bury his body if John were to hurt you. Your father doesn't mean anything by it."

Cam gripped the tray until his knuckles went white.


"So this is where you went to school?" Cameron asked.

John nodded. His right hand was in Cameron's left hand, swinging together, as they walked through Caltech.

"Yeah."

"It's a beautiful campus," Cameron said.

"We've even got a pond with turtles."

"Turtles? Really?"

"Yeah. Some are pretty big."

"So that whole Rose Bowl prank thing was before your time, right?"

John gave his boyfriend a look that said he thought Cameron was stupid for even asking that.

"That was in 1961."

"Oh. Definitely before you were born then," Cameron decided.

"Yes."

"That was pretty cool though, changing all those cards."

John felt a smile play on his lips.

"Yeah."


John was making waffles when Rodney came down the stairs the next morning. He immediately poured a cup of coffee and pushed it into Rodney's hands, directing his friend into the closest chair at the kitchen table.

Rodney had just finished his fourth cup when he looked up at John and said, "Oh, you're back."

"Yeah."

John set a plate of waffles down in front of Rodney and a bowl of sliced strawberries next to it.

"How was the whole… meeting the family thing?"

John shrugged and sat down across from Rodney with a glass of apple juice. Rodney poured a bunch of syrup onto of his waffles and began to cut them up.

"Not sure."

"Mitchell's family is probably as demented as he is," Rodney commented with a snort. "Did you have to do… farm things?"

"Yeah."

Rodney wrinkled his nose and a look of disgust crossed his features. He set down his knife and sprinkled some of the strawberry slices across the top.

"And you still want to marry him?"

"Yep."

"Better you than me, Sheppard."

John blew across the top of his steaming coffee.

"What about you, Rodney? Any romance on the horizon?"

"Are you kidding?" Rodney asked. "No one can ever match up to my intelligence, Sheppard, and I'm not going to settle for some half-brained floozy like you did."

"Major Lorne has an art degree… he's probably a little bit gay. I can ask him if he's interested," John offered.

"What?! Sheppard! Are you crazy?! An art major?! And what do you mean gay? I happen to like women, Sheppard." Rodney spewed.

John was laughing on the inside he really was.

"You like men too. He's really nice, Rodney. He's got stormy blue eyes… a great smile…"

A soft breeze gently moved across John's back before a soft kiss was pressed to John's cheek. Cameron took the seat to John's left and reached for the coffee mug in John's hand. John slid it over to his boyfriend.

"Talking about me?" Cameron asked.

"Ha!" Rodney exclaimed. "Sheppard here was trying to chat some Marine up to me."

"He's in the Air Force."

"You're describing someone else's smile and eyes to McKay?" Cameron asked, sipping John's coffee.

"I'm trying to set him up with Lorne."

"Ah." Cameron paused. "Yeah, he does have a pretty good smile and great eyes."

"See?" John asked Rodney. "Cameron thinks he's hot."

"So I can just stare at him while he babbles like a buffoon?"

"I'm pretty sure buffoons don't speak, Rodney."

Rodney snorted and stabbed a piece of waffle. "You clearly haven't hung out with enough grunts."


"Major!"

John waited as Lorne realized who was calling him. Lorne gave John a grin and the universal hand signal for 'one moment'. The major proceeded to grab some lunch and then walked over to where John and Cameron were sitting.

"Are you really going to ask him, John?" Cameron asked.

"Rodney needs to get out of the lab more."

"So you're going to ask a guy under your command if he's single and gay?"

"Uh… well, I thought maybe you could ask him."

Cameron laughed and shook his head. "Nuh-uh. This is your thing. You ask him."

"Cameron."

"John."

John sighed, "Fine."

"Colonel, Colonel," Lorne greeted, standing over their table.

"Major. Have a seat."

John gestured to the seat next to Cameron and diagonal from John and Lorne obediently sat down. John had never really asked someone if they were gay before, or single, and had no idea how to go about it. He figured that Cameron would have some sly way of asking, of working it into the conversation but John wasn't as well-versed in those matters as his boyfriend was.

"Can I ask you a personal question, Lorne?"

"Sure, sir," Lorne answered with a smile. He broke open the wrapped on his sandwich and began to pull it out.

"Are you seeing anyone?"

Lorne coughed and glanced nervously at Cameron. "Uh, sir…?"

John rolled his eyes. "I'm not asking for me, obviously."

Cameron was smirking at John and John gently kicked his boyfriend under the table.

"Not at this time, sir. It's… hard to find someone who's understanding about the weird schedules we keep."

"That it is, Major," Cameron put in.

John shot him a look before turning back to Lorne.

"Can I ask you another personal question?"

Lorne answered more hesitantly this time, "Uh… sure."

"Are you gay?"

This time Cameron coughed, choking on the French fry he'd just eaten. Lorne had frozen in his movements to unwrap his sandwich.

"Um, only half of the time, sir."

John shot a look full of 'I told you so' at Cameron and then turned his attention back to Lorne.


"I got you a date."

"Oh, Sheppard! Good! Can you look at these? Those morons upstairs thought that two brain cells are all that's required to start building a naquadah fused bomb and instead they ended up almost blowing up half the mountain. I told them to come back when they grew a brain."

"Did you hear me, Rodney?" John asked. "I got you a date."

Rodney turned to him and glared. "It better not be with that art major."

"He'll pick you up at eight."

"Eight?! Tonight?! And it is with that art major, isn't it? I knew it! Sheppard!"


John glanced at the clock again and then went back to his math journal.

"He'll be fine."

He looked up to find Cameron watching him. Cameron nudged one of John's sock clad feet with his own. John was laying on the couch and Cameron was sitting in a chair nearby, perpendicular to the end of John's couch.

"I know."

"He's a grown-up."

"I know."

"Then why do you keep looking at the clock?" Cameron asked.

John glanced at it again. 1153.

"It's late."

"And he's a big boy, John."

"I know."

"Then let him worry about himself, okay?"

John sighed and glanced at the clock again.


Rodney really hadn't been sure what to think about an art major who flew planes, went through the stargate, and would agree to go on a date with him. Sheppard had assured him that the man wasn't some ax murderer or something like that, but Rodney never really dated people in the military. The idea that they could kill him with a blink of their eyes was a bit much for him.

But when Evan had shown up, all smiles and blue eyes, wearing jeans that were tight in all the right places and a t-shirt just a size too small… Rodney's dick had said yes even though his mind still had doubts to the intelligence of such a man.

Evan, it turned out, had only done his bachelor's in art before going on to get a master's in architecture. Architecture required some semblance of intellect and at least a little bit of math skills so Rodney was willing to give the man a chance.

Evan had paid for dinner. Rodney couldn't really remember what he had eaten, but he thought it had been pretty good. Because right as they finished the major had turned to him and asked if Rodney wanted to go back to his place for a drink.

No one had ever asked Rodney back to their place on the first date. Really, no one had ever asked Rodney back to their place. He definitely wasn't a virgin, but Rodney's experiences had been mostly quick sessions in a broom closet of whatever lab he was working in.

Rodney knew that most people were put off by him. He wasn't the kind of guy that people asked to go steady or the kind of guy that people dressed up for or the kind of guy that people wanted to have sex with with the light on. And he'd accepted that. For the most part.

But then this stupid Air Force major asked Rodney to go back to his place and Rodney was in uncharted territories. Now he was wishing he'd actually listened to Mitchell's stupid lecture on the polite things to do on a date.

So Rodney said yes and they went back to Evan's place. A drink turned into two and two turned into a really good blowjob--with the lights on--and the blowjob had turned into some really good sex. Amazingly good sex. In fact, Rodney was still reeling from how good it was.

Then Evan had thrown a blanket over their bodies, turned off the light, pulled Rodney to him and promptly fell asleep.

Rodney had definitely never stayed the night before. He sighed and wondered just what Sheppard had gotten him into.


When they got into the mountain the next morning, Cam left John gearing up to go off-world and went in search of McKay. He found the man, predictably, in his lab. What Cam hadn't predicted was the huge smile that would be on the scientist's face.

"McKay."

"Huh? Oh, it's you," McKay answered, turning back to his work.

"So it looks like your night went well."

"You could say that."

"Or the grin stretched across Lorne's face could say that."

"You saw him?"

"Yeah. John's going off-world so I dropped him off at the locker room."

"Okay."

"McKay--Rodney, look we have to talk," Cam said quietly. He leaned against Rodney's desk.

McKay turned to look at him and raised an eyebrow while crossing his arms over his chest.

"Look, McKay. John worries, you know this."

Rodney snorted, "The whole world knows."

Cam nodded, "So you have to know that he was up all night waiting for you to come home. He sat downstairs alternating between staring at the clock and staring at his cell phone. I'm pretty sure he had some sort of hack on the local police department keeping an eye out there also. I'm glad that you had a good time last night, but it would be really great if you could call next time if you're not going to come home."

"Jesus, are you my keeper or something? I don't have to get my nights approved by you!" McKay said defensively.

"I'm not asking you to do it for me, Rodney." Cam said quietly. "I'm asking you to do it for John, the man who would probably give up his own heart to save you if you needed one. He needs to know that you're okay at night."

That seemed to deflate the other man somewhat.

"Fine. Now if you'll excuse me… I've got actual work to do."

Cam grinned and pushed off of the desk. "You're a good man, McKay."

Cam knew that John cared about McKay, but he hadn't known until now that McKay cared about John almost as much.


The months before the wedding seemed to fly by faster than any other time period in John's life. In fact, he'd checked a couple times with equipment at the SGC just to make sure that they weren't stuck in some sort of time anomaly where time moved faster in Colorado than the rest of the world.

Cameron had laughed the first time when John told him that everything was still reading as normal. But he'd gone with John to check the equipment the second time. John knew that his boyfriend was humoring him but had appreciated it all the same.

John and Cameron had taken two weeks off for the wedding and the subsequent 'honeymoon'. Two days ago they had flown down to Pasadena to make sure everything was in place and to help all the guests get settled into hotels. Tomorrow morning they were flying back to Colorado. There wasn't really a honeymoon, just a week and a half of John and Cameron sitting at home, not working. They'd both tried to argue that they didn't need two weeks off but General Landry liked John and wouldn't hear of them returning to work so soon.

John was thinking that they could maybe paint Cameron's room since the other man had just moved into the guest room as is. So had Rodney but when John had asked, his friend had waved him off saying something about how all he did was sleep there, it didn't have to be decorated like some fruity hotel room. John wondered if that meant his room looked like a fruity hotel room. Cameron had assured him it didn't.

Daniel was flitting back and forth between the two rooms that John and Cameron were getting ready in. He looked nervous and excited and had been grinning all day.

John's mom and dad were in the room with him and Rodney (and Daniel when the other man was there). John's dad had done John's bowtie and John's mom was fretting over every other piece of John's clothing.

They were both smiling. Patty Mason occasionally cried a little but John's dad was there to keep an eye on her.

John wasn't really sure how traditional weddings worked but he'd talked to Cameron about having John's mom and dad walk John down the aisle and Cameron had agreed.

He'd also talked to Cameron about changing his name. John had politely but firmly told his boyfriend that he wanted to keep the Mason name. It meant a lot to John and he wasn't really ready to let go of the metaphorical tie that it was to his parents. Cameron had looked surprised that John thought he would want John to change his name. Cameron had said he was fine with their current names.

Now John was standing in front of a full length mirror. He was dressed in a formal tux that matched Cameron's, Daniel's and Rodney's. He was about to get married. John swallowed. When he was younger he had always said he wouldn't get married. He would close his eyes and remember his father hitting his mother until she passed out and the way his mother always seemed to go back for more. John never wanted to be like them. Never wanted to be so angry and his spouse, never wanted to need someone so much you couldn't leave.

Then Patricia and James Mason had come into his life.

Their marriage was beautiful. Every time John looked at them he knew they were in love. His mom's eyes would wrinkle with a smile and the corners of his dad's lips would turn up. The same thing happened when they looked at John and that's when John knew he had a family he belonged to.

John looked at himself. His eyes grazed over his forehead that had been black and blue at one point. His cheeks had been purple and his eyes had been so black that John wondered if he looked like a human raccoon. John let his eyes roam over his lips. Lips that Mr. Walson had loved and General Willis and that woman from M4X-981. John looked at his jaw, it's been broken once and that had been hell.

He let his eyes fall over the rest of his body. Images of broken arms, broken ribs, dislocated shoulders, cracked knees, fractured vertebrae, swollen ankles, sprained fingers and bleeding knuckles assaulted him.

That's what John saw when he looked at himself.

He wondered what Cameron saw that made him think that John was beautiful.

John didn't feel beautiful.

"John?"

John turned and saw that Rodney had left and there was just his mom and dad in the room with him now.

"Yeah, mom?"

"Oh, let me have one more look at you."

John nodded and walked over to stand in front of his mom. She reached her arms out and dusted invisible specks of dust off of John's jacket before pulling him into a hug. His dad joined a few seconds later and John inhaled their mixed scents.

His mom pulled back and said, "We're so proud of you, John."

"We love you, son," John's dad cut in.

John swallowed and looked at both of his parents.

"Mom. Dad. There's… there's something I want to tell you before… before I get married," John said quietly.

They looked at him and smiled.

"What is it, John?" His mom asked.

John looked at them both, offering them the best smile he could and said, "I love you."

Patty Mason raised a hand to her mouth and her eyes watered. "Oh, John."

Even John's dad looked like he was struggling to keep his composure.

"I just… I wanted to tell you, before I told Cameron. I wanted you to know first," John told them.

John's mom smiled in a heartbreaking way. "We've always known, John. But thank you." She pulled John into another hug. "Thank you," she whispered into his ear.

"We love you, John." His dad said firmly. "We love you."


Cam looked at John and smiled, "I do."

John met his gaze and Cam felt his heart flutter. There, on John's face, was a smile. A smile that Cam had never seen before. It was similar to the ones that John gave to his parents and similar to the ones that John would allow to flash across his face at Cam. This was a mix of those smiles. It was a new one. One made just for Cam.

John's smile lit up his face as he looked at Cam and said, "I do."


When John was thirty-eight, he got married to Cameron Mitchell and said 'I love you' for the first time in his life.


The Only One by Darren Hayes

In a world so cynical you came in and changed the bulb from black to white.
And made me right.
This is all atypical.
No one else has had the time to read the signs.

You are the only one.
No one else can keep me from the danger of myself.
You keep me stronger.
You are the only one.
And now I love you even more than I did before.

I've got such a jealous side.
Reaching out I try to hide my infant stride.
And in my mind this is all so prototype.
I make it wrong to make it feel right, you don't deny it.

Cause you are the only one.
No one else can keep me from the danger I posses.
You keep me stronger.
You are the only one.
And now I love you even more than I did before.

When they make the call for one last drink.
When my self esteem sinks below
And when no one knows it.
When the colours all collide inside and I can barely hide.

You are the only one.
No one else can keep me from the danger of myself.
You keep me stronger.
You are the only one.
And now I love you even more there is no other.
No one else I place above you.
You are the only one.
And now I love you even more than I did before.