blue flamingos

See Me, Feel Me

Fandom: Stargate Atlantis/Stargate SG1

Category/Rated: Slash, PG-13

Year/Length: 2009/ ~3,571 words

Pairing: John/Cam

Disclaimer: No, I don't own them, for which I should think they're profoundly grateful.

Summary: Sixteen year old John runs into Cam at a travelling fair. Somehow, that makes it sound easier than it is.

Author's Notes: Written for sg_rarepairings for the prompt 'I am in love with where I am, but more in love with you.' Title taken from Tommy the Musical.

Feedback: Yes please. Even if it's bad. Especially if it's bad.


"Hey," someone says, right behind John, but he still jumps when a hand lands on his upper arm. "Whoa, sorry."

John knows that voice, so he's smiling when he looks over and finds Cam standing right behind him, hand on John's arm. "Didn't have to sneak up on me."

Cam rolls his eyes. "You stepped out in front of me."

John looks back. They're stood next to a purple tent with 'Mystic Margaret' on the sign out front. "Right."

Cam laughs, hand still on John's arm. "Man, you've had too much sun or something."

"Probably," John agrees. The sun's high overhead in a cloudless sky, and he's too hot, even in his t-shirt. "Let's get something to drink."

"Sure." Cam uses the hand on John's arm to tug him in a different direction when John starts down the main path between the tents and booths. "This way though."

John follows, doesn't say anything about how Cam's still holding onto him. His skin feels too warm under Cam's hand, but the good kind of warm. It's been four months since they met at an air show – turns out John's mom knew Cam's dad, a little, before he was injured – and John expected it to be weirder if they met again, even though they've been writing each other.

"What are you doing here?" he asks, realizing he didn't before. They must be going the right way; there are more people now, teenagers their age, little kids with their parents.

Cam stops, frowns at him. It reminds John of Dave, the way he looks at John like being older means he has to look out for John, except he kind of likes it from Cam. "Are you sure you're okay? We arranged this, remember? You wanted to take me on the Ferris wheel."

"Right," John says. He looks around, and there's the Ferris wheel, and right, John ran into Cam while looking for him. Or Cam ran into John. He feels dizzy and too hot for a moment, glad when Cam's hands settle on his shoulders. "I don't feel too good."

"You don't look too good," Cam agrees, already steering him out of the flow of people and into the shade of the concessions tent. Bigger than John's used to from traveling fairs like this, big enough for them to get a bench that's away from everyone else. "Sit down, I'll be back."

John feels better out of the sun, less like he might fall over. He doesn't usually have a problem with the heat.

"Here," Cam says, sitting next to him and handing over a bottle of water. John turns it in his hands, not sure why it feels like a weird thing to be given, then opens it and sips it. "My mom would love you," Cam adds, teasing. "She's always on at me and Court not to drink too fast or we'll get hiccups."

"I think my mom says the same thing," John agrees. "Are your parents here?"

"Mom gave me a ride and went back to Aunt Maria's," Cam says.

John remembers then: Mrs. Mitchell's college room-mate lives sort of near John, and she brought Cam with her to visit. Maybe the sun really is making him sick.

"You could have cancelled," Cam says, back to frowning again. "Maybe you're not over the flu properly."

"No, I'm fine," John says. It's his chance to spend time with Cam, something he might not get again for months, and letters are okay, but they're not like this. They don't feel like this. "Come on, let's go do something."

"There's a haunted house," Cam suggests, standing up.

John shivers, not sure why, since they're stepping back into the sun and it's gotten warmer, not colder. "Maybe later." He tries to remember what they walked past. "There's a shooting booth. I'll win you a giant purple tiger."

Cam makes a face. "Just what I always wanted. You imagine what Court'll say?"

"Tell him you won it for a girl who turned you down," John says. It's nothing he wouldn't say to tease anyone else, but it feels more revealing, saying it to Cam. He remembers writing back to Cam, saying yes to meeting up, saying that the fair was supposed to be in town and they could go on the Ferris wheel, and wanting to add I want to kiss you where no-one can see us. He's got no idea what Cam would say to that. He's only kissed one other guy, and he has no idea if Cam would do that, no idea how to ask. It's not like he can ask Cam to the movies after school or something, even if they didn't live in different states.

"That's much better," Cam says sarcastically. "Look, how about bumper cars?"

John looks over, surprised. He doesn't know how he missed the setup, when it's so loud, how he didn't hear it before. "Later," he says again, starting in the right direction for the shooting booth. "I want to try this."

"Why?" Cam asks, following him anyway.

"Why not?" John asks back. He digs out some change and hands it over. "Scared I'll be better than you?"

Cam just rolls his eyes.

Maybe he should have been scared; John hits a duck with each shot.

"Your dad teach you that?" the guy at the next gun asks, sounding almost impressed. He's young, wearing a baseball cap that half-shadows his dark face, but his grin is bright and friendly.

"No," John says. Definitely not.

"Someone must have taught you," the guy insists. "You're too good for an amateur."

"Are you a marine?" John asks, no idea where that came from. He knows he's right, even before the flicker of surprise across the man's face.

"Sorry to interrupt your undoubtedly hugely important conversation, but do you actually plan to choose a prize at some point?" the man on the booth asks. "I haven't got all day to wait around for you, I'm a busy man." There really is a purple tiger, a huge thing that'll be awkward to carry around, and that his parents won't let into the house. John points it out anyway, hands it over to Cam with appropriate ceremony, and when he looks around, the marine's disappeared.

"Bumper cars?" Cam suggests, slinging the tiger over his shoulder by one paw. "Or do you need another animal in a color not often found in nature?"

"One's enough," John says. "We can do that now."

Cam chooses a blue car, John a red one, and they aim straight for each other. It's easier said than done to get there though, every car occupied and apparently determined to keep them apart. John slams into more people than he manages to avoid, even when he's trying to, the controls feeling slippery under his hands, not as responsive as they should be.

"Come and get me," Cam crows, spinning the wheel of his car and bypassing two laughing girls in a pink one. John gives his a little burst of speed, determined to get to Cam, and someone clips the front end, sending him spinning –

Black space all around, controls like a toy car under his hands, and surely hitting a planet from the atmosphere is going to -

"Ha," Cam crows, right next to him. "You know, it's more fun if you actually go somewhere."

The buzzer sounds and John climbs out on auto-pilot. "I lost control," he says. His voice sounds weird, but Cam doesn't seem to notice, guiding him to the edge with a hand in the small of his back that makes John shiver.

"I don't think you were ever in control," Cam says. "It's bumper cars, that's sort of the point."

"I know," John says. He feels light-headed again, but he's not going to spoil this. Cam's just the kind of person to call his mom to come get him. "I just didn't want to show you up by being a better shot *and* a better driver."

"Yeah, right," Cam says. "What now?"

"Roll –" John starts, then says, "Wait, where's the tiger?"

"What tiger?" Cam asks, looking genuinely confused.

John rolls his eyes. "The one I won for you," he says. He feels stupidly hurt, even though he knows it really was just a joke gift, that it doesn't mean anything. "I can't believe you thought I wouldn't notice."

"Oh," Cam says. "No, hey, that's not it. I must have left it – come on, let's go back and get it."

To John's surprise, it's sitting at the side of the bumper cars, where Cam must have left it when they got onto the ride, though John doesn't remember seeing him do it. Cam picks it up, strokes its head like it's a real pet that needs soothing, but his eyes are warm when he looks at John.

"Sorry," Cam says. "I really did forget I had it, I wasn't trying to leave it behind."

John's not quite sure he believes Cam, but he feels better for hearing it. "You should probably just give it away, before you lose it for real," he says.

"No, you gave it to me. I want to keep it," Cam insists. He sounds just as genuine as he did a few minutes earlier, asking John 'what tiger?' John's not sure if that means he's lying now or was then, or if it's all the truth. He likes to think it's true.

"Okay," he says, trying to keep the doubt out of his voice. "You want to try the roller coaster?"

"Definitely," Cam says. He touches John's shoulder as he moves past him to lead the way, and John feels better.

The roller coaster doesn't look as stable up close as it did from further away, but that's okay – John's been on enough to know that looks can be deceiving. He and Cam manage to snag the front carriage, and an African-American woman comes to check their safety barrier.

"Are you enjoying your visit today?" she asks, voice lightly accented.

"Yes, ma'am," Cam says, turning on the charm.

"And you?" she asks John.

John nods, and then, just like with the marine at the shooting booth, finds himself asking a question without knowing why. "Is your son here?"

"My son?" she asks, stepping back.

"Yeah, I –" John starts. Cam's looking at him like he's losing his mind, the woman's looking like she's wondering if she should call the police, and John doesn't know what made him ask that. "I'm sorry," he says. "I thought you were someone else."

"Of course," she says, smiling, though John can still see the caution behind it. "Keep your hands inside the car, please."

Cam turns to John as the woman steps away. "Who is she?"

"I don't know," John says. He twists to watch her check another carriage, further down. "I know her, I think."

"Sure that's not wishful thinking?" Cam asks. "I don't think she knows you."

"I guess not," John agrees, turning to look at her again. She probably looks like someone he's seen before. She straightens from the last carriage, and he turns back before she catches him watching her.

The car creeps out of the station, grinding a little as it starts up the first incline. John loves this part, the building anticipation, the tension, almost as much as he loves the moment the train goes over the top and plunges down, tearing his breath away, like –

First time in a fighter jet, in control and on his own, the speed and the rush, even with the wind on the outside of the cockpit -

They're rocketing up the next incline, Cam laughing next to him, and John pushes it away, lets go of the barrier and feels gravity try to snatch him back down as they dip into the next incline.

They ride the roller coaster a half dozen times before Cam laughs and says, "Okay, enough, I'm gonna throw up if I have to do that again," and they stumble back into the mass of people.

More people than before, and the lights have started coming on across the fair, later than John thought it was. As if on cue, his stomach rumbles.

"Food?" Cam asks immediately.

"Yeah," John agrees. He wonders if his parents will be pissed that he's going to miss dinner; he can't remember what he arranged with them. Maybe he should call and check, and he finds himself patting his pocket as he thinks that. Wrong pocket, he doesn't keep his wallet in that one, and he'll need change for the payphone, not... He touches the outside of his pocket, not sure what he's looking for. It's not there, whatever it is. "Hot dogs," he says, before Cam can start looking at him strangely again.

"Stand's this way," Cam says, leading the way.

They buy hotdogs and glass bottles of Coke from a dreadlocked guy who nods at John in what feels like friendly greeting, and sit against the fence at the edge of the ground to eat. Slightly removed from the lights, it's easy to see how dark it's getting, though John has trouble accounting for all the hours that must have passed between meeting up with Cam and now. He can't remember looking at his watch once, and when he looks down, he's not wearing it. It's hard to care, warm and happy with Cam.

"What time's your mom picking you up?" he asks.

Cam shrugs. "I'll get a bus."

"More like three buses," John corrects. "You didn't plan something?"

"I can call her," Cam says, careless. He leans back, using the purple tiger that he really hasn't lost as a pillow. In the fading light, he's perfect. John wants to touch, and like this, it seems almost easy, like there's no way Cam wouldn't want it as well.

So John leans forward, cups Cam's check with one hand, and kisses him, slow, careful press of his mouth to Cam's.

Cam hesitates for so long that John's about to lean away. Then Cam leans into it, kisses back, one hand on John's shoulder to pull him in, then down and over –

On Cam's bed, daylight streaming in, Cam sliding over him, familiar click of connection in how they fit together -

And it seems too easy because it is too easy. It should feel weird, first time, but it doesn't just feel weird. It feels *wrong.* Everything feels wrong, almost like John's dreaming.

He leans away, watches Cam blink his eyes open. "Why did you stop?" Cam asks.

"What's happening?" John asks. "Something's not right."

"John, come on." Cam's laughing, reaching out to touch John, and John thinks about all the times Cam's touched him today, all the times he's felt better as Cam did, brushed over something odd because of it, or remembered something simple that he'd forgotten.

Remembered something that he shouldn't know yet, snapshot of memory that felt more familiar, more *real* than what was happening in that moment.

And if that is true...

John thinks, Falling out of a tree, Dave dared me, as hard as he can, and asks, "How did I break my arm when I was eight?"

Cam frowns like he doesn't understand John at all. "You fell out of a tree," he says, and John jerks back, cold with fear, because he knew Cam would say that, but knowing and hearing are very different.

"There was a car accident," he says, sounding far away to his own ears. "On the way home from school, a car hit us."

"Maybe I got mixed up," Cam offers, reaching for John.

John leans further back, out of his reach. "You're not Cam," he says. "You're not real."

It's like a switch being flipped, rush of memory. Everyone makes sense now: the marine at the booth, Ford, Lieutenant Aiden Ford. The man running it, Dr Rodney McKay. Teyla Emmagan, leader of the Athosian people. Specialist Ronon Dex.

Mystic Margaret. Not Margaret. Dr Elizabeth Margaret Weir.

He remembers them, now, their lives and their deaths and the moments where he was terrified for them, and all he wants is to reach for the kind of comfort that Cam represents, except that this isn't Cam, because the Cam he wants is not a teenager, not a laidback guy in a traveling fair ground that never happened. They fell out of touch over the years, met up again on a three week USAF training school, where it turned out John wasn't the only one who'd wondered. Not like this, because John's not a sun-struck teenager, he's a forty year old military commander of a base in another galaxy, and he should. Not. Be here.

"What's going on?" he asks.

"John, come on," Cam says. "I think we should call your mom, you're obviously sick."

John can't think about his mom. She'll be dead in a year. It's a big part of why he and Cam fell out of touch.

He reaches for a gun on his hip, and it's there, where it wasn't before, then it's in his hand and pointing at Cam. No-one screams, and he thinks that if he looks, there wouldn't be anyone there now. "Tell me what's going on," he says, flat and controlled.

"Put that down," Cam says, just as calmly.

John shakes his head. "Tell me what's going on, or I'll shoot you. I figure if you're a figment of my imagination, getting shot in my imagination will kill you." He thinks of Kate Heightmeyer and his stomach turns over. They still don't know what she dreamed of that killed her – what he did in her dreams that killed her.

"Her death wasn't your fault," Cam says, but before John can squeeze the trigger like he wants, Cam's shifting. Changing. Getting taller and more muscled, some of his tan fading as his hair darkens, and then the man standing in front of John is Cam, the real Cam, air force lieutenant colonel and SG1 team leader, John's partner. "Better?"

"Not really," John says honestly. He's still sixteen, and now it's weird. "Who are you, really? Is this like the mist planet again?"

"No," Cam says. Or the thing that looks like Cam, the image of Cam. Whatever he – it – he is. "This isn't any planet."

John hates it when they get cryptic ones. Even more so when he's got cryptic coming from one of the most straightforward people he knows. "What does that mean?"

"This is more like... a stop-over. Chance to think about whether you really want to take the second leg of that flight to Australia, or if you'd rather turn around and go home."

There aren't many things that can mean. John closes his eyes, thinks, Remember, remember.

For a second, so fast it's gone before he can grasp it properly, he's lying on his back on a patch of muddy grass, and the pain's so bad he can hardly breathe through it, everything dark, a whirl of voices somewhere above him that he can't understand.

"I'm dead," he says flatly. The day, all the good stuff, wraps around him like a warm blanket. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Story of his life.

"Not dead," Cam corrects, and his grin is pure Cam, John's best memories of him. "Thinking about it. If you were dead, we wouldn't be having this conversation."

"What does that mean?"

"Once you're dead, you're dead, and there's no chance to figure out what happened and reconsider." Cam sighs, like it's John's fault that he's being so irritatingly cryptic. "If you were dead, you'd think this was real and whatever just happened to make you question it wouldn't have happened. You'd pick up from where things were a few minutes ago and go on like this conversation never happened. Because it wouldn't have."

"Is that what's going to happen?" John asks. Because, confusion aside, it was good. Cam, and his team, and his family before his mom died and it all went to hell, sunshine and warm and a Ferris wheel. Life – death – looks pretty good like this, and even better for thinking that he won't know he's dead.

He won't, but everyone else will.

"It might," Cam says. "Like I said, you're thinking about it. Out there."

Out there, where his team are probably watching him bleed out in some gruesome fashion, judging from how much it hurt. Where someone will eventually tell Cam that John's dead, and John's never had to have someone tell him they think Cam's dead, but he remembers how it felt to hear about Cam's crash, how much it hurt.

And this Cam isn't the real Cam.

"What happens if I decide I don't want to go to Australia?" he asks.

"You go home," Cam says simply. "After that, I don't know."

Not the real Cam, with pins in his leg and scars on his body, who flies 302s and leads Earth's first-line gate team, and lives in another galaxy, which sucks, but they wouldn't be who they are without it.

Cam's face falls. "I thought you'd say that," he says.

"I didn't say anything," John says.

"You didn't have to say it out loud," Cam says. He lifts his hand, touches the tips of his fingers to John's forehead.

The world wavers for a second –

And John wakes up.

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