blue flamingos

Common Threads

Fandom: SG1/SGA

Category/Rated: Slash-Threesome/PG13

Year/Length: 2011/6075 words

Pairing: John/Teyla/Cam

Spoilers: post Enemy At The Gate

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

Summary: While they're stuck on Earth with Atlantis, Cam takes John and Teyla to visit his brother's family

Author's Notes: written for tielan, who won me in the Help Japan auction

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


They're in a bar on the outskirts of Colorado Springs – of course they are, because some days it feels like every story in John's life that doesn't start with so there we were, under fire starts with so there we were, in a bar. So there they are, the three of them in a bar, two bowls of fries demolished between them, John and Cam with beers, Teyla with cider that she only discovered when she got to Earth but loves.

And Cam, because in another life he was surely a camp counselor, full of the need to keep everyone happy and entertained, says, "Do you want to get out of here?"

Teyla gives the dessert menu a vaguely longing look. "They serve cheesecake here," she says, not quite neutral enough to not be expressing an opinion.

"We could get it to go," John offers, since he has no particular preference one way or the other, but he does like to keep Teyla happy, distracted from how her son is on a ship travelling to her from another galaxy.

"You can eat it here," Cam says, already waving over a waitress. "I meant, do you want to get out of Colorado Springs?"

There's a pause while Teyla orders cheesecake for herself, chocolate cake for John and apple pie for Cam – she's gotten to know Cam very well, since Keller took Rodney to meet her father, and Lorne, Ronon, Mehra and Banks decided to take themselves off to Hawai'i (John's not asking. Not because he's not allowed; because he just does not want to know).

"I was under the impression that General Landry would not like me to leave the city," Teyla says when the waitress leaves.

"He said he didn't trust me not to lead you astray if we went away together," John corrects, since it's true (Lorne, apparently, is more trustworthy than John) and it's not like Cam doesn't know exactly what Landry thinks of John.

Cam and Teyla, sitting together opposite John, make amusingly identical faces that speak to how unimpressed they are by Landry's assessment of John. It makes John feel warm with how well they both think of him, despite one or the other of them having been there for some of his worst moments.

"Apparently I'm a calming influence." Cam's expression twists with the words, making John grin.

Teyla looks between the two of them, a smile starting on her face as she says, "I believe there is a story here that you have not shared."

"Yeah, Mitchell, what kind of gentleman doesn't share with a lady?"

"The kind who suspects the lady will stop thinking of him as a gentleman if she hears that story. Anyway, he said a week if the two of you want it."

"You asked General Landry for permission to take the two of us out of Colorado Springs?" John asks, checking. Even for Cam, that sounds odd.

Cam rolls his eyes, looking caught out. "Okay, so I told him I was visiting my brother for a few days and did he want me to take the two of you out of his hair for the duration. Same end result."

John can't help the way he tenses at my brother. He's met Cam's family a couple of times, when he couldn't come up with a good enough excuse to avoid being dragged to Kansas for a holiday, but he hasn't been there since his own father died. With Atlantis in limbo, he's really not sure he can handle the way the Mitchell family keeps trying to make him one of their own.

Of course, both Cam and Teyla pick up on it. Teyla reaches across the table to cover his hand and Cam shakes his head. "Not Kansas. Simi got a job at Brown six months ago, apparently I'm the worst brother in the world for not making it over to visit yet."

"Brown?" Teyla asks.

"It's a university. Simi – my brother's wife – is a professor of archeology."

"Like Dr Jackson."

"Sort of. She doesn't end up risking her life quite as often as he does, unless you count rock climbing with Nat."

"Your niece," Teyla says, mostly checking, and the thing is, John knows the two of them could go on like this for hours, embedded in their families in a way John can barely remember.

It means he can't say no – for Teyla, who's adrift on the wrong planet, in the wrong galaxy, and for Cam, who tries his best to make everyone feel like they belong as well as he does. "Cole's not going to care that you're bringing me and a woman he's never met?"

"Well, you maybe," Cam says, grinning.


The thing about being a pilot is, it makes John a bad passenger. On Atlantis, non-pilot jumper pilots, like Rivers, have been known to give up the stick to John after just rescuing him, and John and Lorne have fought it out for control more than once (though John always wins. Perks of being the boss).

On Earth, on a commercial flight, that's not an option, and Cam's exactly the same. Cam, though, is better at dealing with it than John is, which John finds vaguely unnerving, given what once happened to Cam in an alien-inspired fighter jet.

"I spy with my little eye," he says quietly in John's ear as the plane starts to taxi. Next to John, Teyla's riveted to the window, fascinated by regular Earth flight in much the same way as she was with Jumper flight the first time around.

"Seriously?" John can't quite bring himself to turn away from Teyla, absorbing the way her face is lit up with interest and enthusiasm. When he glances across at Cam, he discovers he's not the only one.

"It's that or tic-tac-toe, and my pencil's in the overhead locker."

"I can make it through one flight without kids' games to amuse me." John ignores the fact that he actually does feel a little better, distracted from wondering if their pilot is only an airline pilot because he couldn't make it through Air Force training.

"Be quiet," Teyla says firmly, not looking at either of them. "I am trying to enjoy this moment."

"Sorry," they chorus, like kids, and even Teyla laughs at them for that.

John leans back in his seat, closes his eyes and thinks about his first solo flight, about feeling the ground drop away beneath him, rising to meet the sky, feeling like he had everything he wanted, in that moment.

Which just goes to show what he knew then.

The plane shakes as it picks up the last bit of speed before it lifts away. John's not expecting the hand he feels covering his, and he's definitely not expecting it to be Cam's, curling over his fingers and holding on.

He opens his eyes to find Cam looking down at his knees, and Teyla looking at the two of them. "Cameron?" She reaches across John to place her hand over Cam's. "Are you well?"

"Don't like take-off." Cam sounds like he's trying for nonchalant, but he also sounds like he's speaking through clenched teeth, so it doesn't work very well. "Fine once we're up there."

Teyla's hand tightens on Cam's, her fingertips brushing John's skin. She's very close, leaning across John, and he's not really sure what to do with his other hand. He wishes he was tucked against the window – Teyla's so much better at comfort than he'll ever be – and at the same time is glad that he's not, glad for Cam needing him, even if it is just to hold his hand.

Teyla's humming something, low under her breath. Cam closes his eyes, tipping his head back against the seat. He's a little pale, but breathing evenly, the lines on his face starting to smooth out as the plane gains altitude and starts to level off.

John rests his free hand on Teyla's back, feeling her breathe, and nudges Cam's shoulder slightly. "We got you," he says. Cam nods, and breathes deeply, their three hands tight together.


Teyla ducks into the ladies as soon as they land, something about airplane toilets having put her off using them, and Cam leans against the wall just a little too close to John.

"Cole and Simi want us to go over for dinner."

John nods; their house isn't big enough to accommodate three grown adults, so they're renting a car and staying at a nearby hotel. "Sounds good."

"So I thought we could check in, have a couple of hours at the hotel, then go."

"Okay," John says, drawing the word out a little. Cam's not meeting his eyes, or getting to the point; one on its own is enough to make him suspicious. Both means something's definitely up.

"So I figured you and Teyla would have one room, and I'd get my own." John turns slightly – Cam may actually be blushing. "You know, so you can have your privacy."

"Our…" Talk about not seeing it coming. "We're not sleeping together. She has a baby with another man." And okay, it's not like they never took things a little further, but it was never anything other than friends, and they stopped well before she got pregnant.

"You said they're not together, they're just co-parenting. I thought – you're always together."

"She doesn't know anyone else on the planet who hasn't left town," John says, and doesn't add that some days that feels true for him as well. "I'm sure she'd prefer to have her privacy. I think we can run to a room each. Unless you're living some highlife you've never mentioned."

"Does pizza once a month count?"

"No," John says firmly, and is more than a little glad to see Teyla emerging at that moment.


Cam manages to sign and pay for their rental car, but only because John, not used to needing actual money, packed his wallet at the bottom of his bag, and doesn't manage to fish it out fast enough. He snags the keys instead.

He hasn't driven much since he went to Atlantis, and Teyla's never been in a car that wasn't a cab, so John would have liked something flashy and fast, something to show off to her, just a little, something to enjoy driving.

He gets a Prius. In gray.

"This is what Rodney bought for his sister," Teyla says chidingly, when John makes a face. "He said it was very fuel efficient, and good for the environment."

"It's boring," John protests, knowing he sounds like a whining toddler.

"It is," Cam agrees, busy stowing their bags in the trunk. "But it's all they had unless we wanted a compact."

John shuts up at that; they're none of them so tall that a compact is a serious inconvenience, but Cam's a lot less flexible than he used to be, since Antarctica. "I'm driving."

"I paid."

"I have the keys."

"You think the car's boring."

"So do you."

"You probably don't even remember how to drive anything you can't control with your mind."

"You probably don't even remember how to drive anything with more than two wheels."

"Perhaps I should drive." Teyla steps between the two of them and neatly swipes the keys from John's hand. "Dr Lam gave me several lessons when I was last here."

"Maybe you should drive," John tells Cam. "I assume we want to make it in one piece."

"There is nothing wrong with my driving," Teyla says stiffly, handing over the keys.

"Or your tuttle root soup," John teases.

Teyla's look turns murderous, but John's not really scared. Not when he can see the amusement underlying it. Cam laughs, so maybe John's not the only one, and says, "Now you're for it. Never insult a lady's dress sense, cooking, or shoes."

"Shoes?" Teyla asks, at the same time as John says, "Teyla, why don't you take shotgun?" Then adds, "And get Cam to tell you all about ladies' shoes."


Teyla frowns when John asks for three rooms, connecting if possible, neighboring if not, and her frown only deepens when he hands out the key cards, assuring the staff that they can carry their own bags and find their own way.

"I thought," she says in the elevator, turning the key in her hands. "Is this for the sake of appearances?"

"Appearances?" Cam echoes, frowning at his own card, like it will help him to understand what's bothering Teyla.

"The three rooms. So that it will not appear that the two of you are doing anything you would be punished for."

"We're not doing anything," Cam says carefully, as though he thinks she's imagining drug dealing or planning a bank heist.

John can't help it. He knows he should be the voice of reason here, the one in control of things, but the laugh bursts out of him despite his best efforts.

"I do not think anything is that amusing," Teyla says, and Cam nods his agreement.

"He thinks we're sleeping together," John says, gesturing to the appropriate people. "And you think he and I are sleeping together, and yet I haven't had sex in over a year."

Cam says, "That long?" and Teyla says, "You are not intimate?"

It's a toss up which of those questions John least wants to answer, but he thinks Teyla's might be the slightly lesser evil. "Not since we were much younger."

"Before he got married and broke my heart." The elevator comes to a stop and Cam leads the way down the pale pink corridors.

"Remind me, who hooked up with their wingman again?" John regrets saying it as soon as he has; Ferguson died while John was in Atlantis, and John, much as he tries not to, tends to forget that he has.

Cam only winces a little, and Teyla steps in before either of them can say anything else. "You are not intimate together?" she asks, sounding like she's checking. They both shake their heads. "Though you once were?" They both nod. John has a sinking feeling he knows where this is going.

Teyla nods once, turns her key card the right way up, and opens the door to her room like she's been manipulating key card locks her entire life. "After you," she says politely, standing aside for the two of them to enter.

John can see Cam physically swallowing the urge to say, "Ladies first." He still makes John go first.

The room is like pretty much every hotel room John's been in since he started paying for them himself, instead of going where his father took him: bland furniture, bland walls, bland pictures in bland frames, a view of the street half hidden behind partially drawn bland curtains. He drops his bag inside the door and shrugs off his coat.

"Would you wish to be intimate again?" Teyla asks, once the door has clicked closed.

John doesn't dare look at Cam. He can feel himself gaping like a fool, and tries for something intelligent to say. "Um."

"If it will help you to make a decision," Teyla adds, drifting over to the window, "I would wish it. With both of you, very much."

"Sure doesn't hurt," Cam says. John finally looks over to him, finds him leaning back against the desk, a wry smile twisting his features. He shrugs when he sees John looking at him. "My mom taught me to always give a lady what she wants."

"Right. You'd have sex with the two of us for purely selfless, gentlemanly reasons."

"Also because it'd be incredibly hot, and give me valuable bragging rights over the rest of the once and not so future SG1," Cam adds with a shrug.

"They are all worthy reasons," Teyla says. She's grinning – not her usual serene smile, not even the happy smile she gives them sometimes, but an actual, all out grin. It looks incredibly good on her. "Particularly the second."

"Guess I'm out-voted then," John concedes.

Cam scoffs. "Like you were going to say no."

"Pretty damn sure of yourself there."

Cam's smile does something weird and full of affection. "Pretty sure of us all," he says, and yeah, John can't really argue with that after three weeks of spending almost every evening together, of feeling like he's drawing in tighter and tighter with the two of them, already trying not to think about what it will be like to go back to Pegasus and leave Cam behind.

"Exactly," Teyla says. She moves away from the window, drawing the two of them in close to her. "Now, I think you should both be gentlemen, and take off your clothes. As it is what I want."

That's definitely a definition of gentlemanly that John can get behind.


"Oh, crap," Cam says.

John, who's naked, half asleep and pleasantly post-coital, his head on Teyla's shoulder, Cam's chest pressed against his back, keeps his eyes firmly closed. It's not impossible that Cam will decide not to bother freaking out if he thinks everyone else is asleep.

Of course, Teyla doesn't practice avoidance the way John does. He swears he can hear her eyes opening. "That is not exactly what a woman hopes to hear from one of the men she has just been to bed with." It's dry as desert, but John's not sure Cam knows her quite well enough to realize she's not serious.

"Sorry, Teyla. I didn't mean – that was great. Fantastic."

There's some shifting around John, and the unmistakable sound of the two of them kissing. It's almost enough to get him to open his eyes; as soon as he knows what's bothering Cam.

"No, hey, no more kissing. We're going to be late."

"Late?" Teyla asks.

"Dinner with my brother and his family."

"Oh, crap," John says, blending nicely with Teyla's fervent curse in Athosian.

One advantage of having three hotel rooms, even if John hopes they'll only be using one, is that they also have three showers at their disposal, and since none of them are exactly prone to taking their time getting ready, they're out the door more or less on time.

Cam lets John drive, and Teyla lets Cam have the passenger seat, so John lets Teyla go with it when she says, "That was enjoyable."

"One word for it," Cam agrees.

"And it will happen again." John's pretty sure the words are supposed to be a question, but Teyla sounds a lot more like she's giving an instruction.

He feels Cam looking at him. "If it's not – I don't want to intrude on what the two of you have going."

"I already told you we're not sleeping together," John says, on the way to being annoyed. Cam's not usually this dense, or this resistant to having his ideas changed.

"I do not think Cameron means that." Teyla leans forward between the seats. "It is true that John and I have a relationship beyond friendship. My son is named partly for him. But it will never be a closed relationship."

"Okay," Cam says uncertainly.

"It is rare for Athosians to pair bond in the way your people do," Teyla explains. "For myself, I have John, Rodney and Ronon, Kanaan, even Jennifer and Major Lorne. And now you are a part as well."

"You're not having sex with all of them, though, right?" Cam asks.

"No," Teyla says, very patiently. "I am not. At the moment, only you and John, and perhaps Kanaan again in the future."

"What about you?"

"I'm not planning on having sex with Kanaan," John says, keeping his eyes on the road. Not that he'd say no, if Kanaan asked and Teyla was okay with it, but interactions between him and Kanaan are still deeply awkward in ways he can't unpick. Also, he's fairly sure Kanaan is straight.

"Not really what I meant."

"I like having sex with the two of you." Understatement of the century. "And I like hanging out with you. Can't we just…"

Cam twists to look at Teyla. "Practically a declaration of everlasting love, from John."

"Yes," Teyla agrees, both of them faux-solemn.

John's pretty sure he's going red. "So glad we had this little chat."


Cole and Simi live on the kind of suburban street where kids play in the street and everyone probably washes their cars on Sundays, in a gray wood house with a raised, wraparound porch and a well-tended garden. John's pretty sure neither he, Cam, nor Teyla really fit in there, between life in Air Force apartments and life as a semi-nomad.

He doesn't have the chance to get twitchy about it though, because the front door flies open before John's even locked the car, and Sean and Nat come pelting down the steps to throw themselves at Cam, who hugs them both.

John looks away, catching Teyla's eye and seeing a hint of something that he'd say was nerves, if he wasn't talking about Teyla. He moves closer to her anyway; even if she doesn't need the moral support, he could use it.

"You two remember John, right?" Cam asks, peeling his niece and nephew off him and pointing them at John and Teyla with his arms around them. They both nod and Nat, the oldest, gives him a little wave. "And this is Teyla, she's a friend from work. Teyla, this is Nat and this is Sean."

Sean's kind of shy around new people, and stays firmly at Cam's side. Nat's never had that problem though, bouncing over to Teyla. "Hi! Are you in the Air Force as well?"

Teyla touches her shoulder, steadying her – Nat's apparently hit the gangly teenage phase since John last saw her. "No, I am a civilian consultant."

"Like Vala?" Nat asks, her eyes widening.

"How do you know about Vala?" Cam asks. "You never even met her."

"Grandpa told us about her. He said she was your girlfriend."

"And that she's a better shot than you," Sean adds.

Cam groans, but before he can say anything, the door opens again, and Cole steps out. Unlike his kids, who look more like their mom, Cole looks just like a younger version of Cam, his eyes lighting up when he sees his brother. "You planning on staying out there all night, big brother?"

Cam detaches himself from Sean to hug his brother, Simi coming out of the house to accept her own hug. She looks down at Teyla and John with a smile. "Hello again, John, how are you?"

John opens his mouth to answer, and suddenly all he can think is, "I just watched your brother-in-law have sex with one of my best friends." "Um," he says intelligently.

Next to him, he can hear Teyla struggling to conceal her laughter, Cam's rolling his eyes, and John would like to know when exactly he got this transparent.

Fortunately, Teyla's there to rescue him from an awkward diplomatic incident, as usual, making her way up the steps to take Simi's hand. "Thank you for inviting us into your home," she says. "I am Teyla Emmagan."

Simi's as used to Cam showing up with strangers he's never mentioned as Cam's parents are, John's pretty sure, and she shakes Teyla's hand, introduces Cole, summons John and the kids inside, Nat attached herself to Teyla's side again as they settle in the big kitchen at the back of the house. Cole goes over to the stove to stir something and Sean starts carefully pouring mugs of coffee.

"So, Teyla," Simi says, "Cam says you have a son?"

Teyla's eyes flicker over to Cam for a moment, obviously surprised that he's talked about her, but also she says is, "Yes, Torren John."

Simi's eyebrows go up. "For our John?"

"Your John?" Cam asks.

"Or your John, if you prefer," Simi says, and John remembers that conversation. He's pretty sure most of Cam's family still think they're involved, even though John was married for a chunk of time since he first met them all. Not that they're really wrong, now.

"Yes," Teyla puts in, "He is named for John. John was –" She stops, seeming to realize that this isn't actually a story they can tell in front of Cam's family. "John was a great friend to me while I was pregnant," she settles on, which makes John wince with remembered shame for how he'd treated her when he first found out she was pregnant.

It doesn't help that Simi and Cole share a significant glance. "I'm sure he was," Simi says neutrally, and John just knows she's thinking that Torren is his.

He accepts the mug that Sean carefully hands him, not daring to meet Cam's or Teyla's eyes. "How are things at your new school, Sean?" he asks a little desperately.

Sean shrugs. "Okay. I don't like math."

"No? Why not?"

"I don't like our new teacher. Miss James left to have a baby."

" Torren's a baby too, right?" Nat asks. "Do you have pictures? Can I see?"

Cam says, "Let Teyla drink her coffee in peace," at the same time as Teyla says, "I do not think I have any with me," and John says, "Are you still playing football, Nat?" so it comes out as a mess of meaningless sound, and is followed by a moment of silence.

"Well," Cole says, too brightly. "I think dinner's nearly ready. Kids, go wash your hands." He looks at John, Teyla and Cam, then at Simi. "Actually, I think we should do the same."

"Subtle," Cam grumbles as they leave the room, but he moves to sit between Teyla and John as soon as the door closes. "Sorry."

"Have you done something wrong?" Teyla asks, resting one hand on his arm. John's hit, again, by the memory of what the three of them did that afternoon and, God, this is going to be the longest dinner of his life.

"I probably shouldn't have told them about Torre. Or at least warned you that I did," Cam says. "We could have come up with a better story, agreed something in advance."

"I am aware that I'm not to mention that I was born in another galaxy, and that John and I live in the City of the Ancestors," Teyla says, a little stiffly.

"I know. Sorry. I meant – you know they think Torren's John's, right?"

"Hey, you thought she and I were sleeping together," John can't resist pointing out, even knowing that it won't help. He's still a little disturbed by the way Cam and Teyla roll their eyes at him in concert.

"And I wasn't exactly wrong," Cam says. "Maybe you should tell them about Kanaan."

It's Teyla's turn to wince slightly. "I do not think that would be a very wise idea."

"Not the relationship part, just that he's Torren's dad."

"And when they ask if we are still partners? Or where he is, since I am here without my son?" Teyla's expression slips into something like sadness, the kind that makes John wish he was better at the kind of physical comfort he knows she likes. "If your brother and his family will be troubled by not knowing who fathered my child, or by thinking it was John –"

"No," Cam says, quick and fervent. "No, Teyla, God, they're not – they're not like that." Now he sounds hurt as well, and this whole thing is turning into far more of a mess than it has any right to. John's about to start wishing they'd visited his family instead, and that's a level of screwed up that he's not prepared to reach.

As if it's not bad enough that he's having to mediate the Mitchell family version of a cultural misunderstanding.

"Cole and Simi won't care who Torren's father is, or if they don't know," he says to Teyla. "Cam's trying to spare the two of us, because they think it's me and they'll probably start teasing once they get to know you a bit better." He turns to Cam. "And you know better than to think Teyla's going to judge anyone, least of all your family. Or you should do, if you're going to stay involved with us."

Cam has the grace to look a little ashamed, and Teyla tightens her hand on his arm. "It is well," she says. "Unless they ask me, I shall neither confirm nor deny that John is Torren's father."

Cam groans, but he's smiling again. "Remind me again why I ever thought bringing you two here was a good idea."

"Haven't a clue," John says as the door nudges open and Nat's head appears.

"Mom and Dad sent me to find out if you need some more time to talk," she says bluntly. "They told me to be subtle about it though."

"Get Teyla to teach you," John offers. He looks between her and Cam, who both nod. "We're good."


Dinner is less awkward than John feared. Simi and Cole have apparently decided that teasing about John and Teyla's relationship isn't such a good idea, so the conversation sticks firmly to Torren when he comes up. Nat keeps up a steady stream of chatter about school – apparently, her new school here is a million, trillion times better than her old one – and even Sean starts talking about a book he's reading after a while.

It reminds John, in a weird way, of mealtimes in Atlantis, Rodney and Zelenka arguing over physics, Ronon regaling Keller with tales of off-world daring that Teyla firmly refutes every time, Lorne dragging Banks into his and John's running argument about how often they should give into the Marines' more Marine-like demands. It feels like home, and at the same time, it makes home feel so far away it aches.

John glances at Teyla next to him, and sees the same thing reflected on her face. He slides his hand across the bench they're sitting on until it reaches hers and she takes it, curling their fingers together beneath the table. He wants to promise they'll go back – that the city and the expedition will be going back with her, because he knows that she won't stay on Earth forever, no matter what happens. Her whole life is in another galaxy, and she wants to raise her child to be a part of that life.

"So are you two sticking around?" Cole asks, spooning out chocolate mousse. "You're not based with Cam?"

"Sort of." This is the problem with being officially assigned to a deep space telemetry project – there's no good explanation for why they're out of touch for huge chunks of the year. "But we spend a lot of time on an extended mission."

"I see," Cole says, his voice clearly implying that he doesn't. "Well, I'm glad you were able to make it."

"Will you be seeing your own families while you're home?" Simi asks.

"This is really good," Cam says, taking a big bite of his mousse. "Cole, did you make this?"

"Of course. You think I'd serve you shop-bought mousse? You'd let it get back to Momma, and I'd never hear the end of it."

"My parents both died when I was much younger," Teyla says in the brief silence that follows Cam's failed attempt at a subject change. "And I have no brothers or sisters."

"I'm sorry to hear that," Simi says, touching her hand. "That must make you glad for your own family."

"Yes. I miss Torren very much," Teyla adds. "He has been staying with his father, but he will be with me in a few days."

John feels everyone's eyes shift over to him for a second, and concentrates hard on his dessert.

"Can we go and visit when he's here?" Nat asks. "I could look after him so you all could go out."

"And Sean as well?" Cole asks.

"No!" Sean protests, ducking away when Cole tries to ruffle his hair. "I don't need her to look after me. I'm eight already."

"That is too young not to be watched," Teyla says firmly. "Though I do not think I would want to be watched by my older sister either, if I had one."

"Yeah, Cam was a menace whenever he had to watch me," Cole agrees. "He used to beat me up with broomstick handles."

"Whoa, hey, talk about revisionist history," Cam protests, and they're off into shared childhood memories before John has to explain that, actually, he just can't bear the thought of going to see his own brother, especially after spending time with Cam's, seeing how their relationship could have been, if not for everything that happened when they were younger.


Cam eventually suggests that they should maybe head back to their hotel at a little past ten, when it becomes obvious that Nat and Sean, half-asleep on the porch swing, aren't going to go to bed until their guests leave.

"You'll see Uncle Cam and his friends again on Sunday," Simi says when the kids protest. "We're all going to spend the day together, remember? But you have chores to do tomorrow, and you're not getting out of them because you stayed up too late and are tired."

"We must go, anyway," Teyla says, standing. "We have had a long and tiring day."

John makes the mistake of catching Cam's eye, and they both choke on barely stifled laughter.

Teyla shakes her head at them. "As you see," she says to Nat, "Cameron and John are quite silly with exhaustion. I think bed is the best place for them, but of course they will not go while they can still spend time with you and your brother."

Nat frowns. "So us going to bed is like a favor for you?"

"Exactly," Teyla says. "You are a very kind girl."

Nat blushes at that, which John notices both Simi and Cole pick up on, sharing a rueful smile. John wants to grin – of course Cam's niece would have the good taste to get a crush on Teyla.

The whole family walks them to the front door, where goodbyes take a while. Teyla bends slightly touch her forehead to Nat's, and then to Sean's, explaining, "This is a traditional way of saying goodbye in my ancestors' culture, amongst friends."

Sean gets an attack of shyness as she does it, and hides behind Cole, but Nat immediately turns to John and Cam to repeat the gesture.

"Thank you for your hospitality," Teyla tells Cole and Simi, and John nods.

"Yeah, thanks for putting up with us," Cam adds, hugging his brother again.

Cole shrugs. "Someone has to. It's not like I'm getting rid of you now." The two of them share a look that John's pretty sure means they're both thinking about Cam's crash, how Cole nearly did lose him.

"Go on, now," Simi says. "We'll see you the day after tomorrow. Cole'll call and sort out when and where."

"I will?"

"Yes, dear."

Cole nods. "Right, I will. Drive safe."

John navigates them out of the residential streets in near silence, and it's not until they're partway back to the hotel that Cam says, "You two okay?" sounding oddly anxious.

"Of course," Teyla says, leaning forward to speak to him. "It was wonderful to meet your family, Cameron."

"Yeah, it was good," John agrees. It's the truth. Even if it made him homesick, for Atlantis and for his own blood family, it was still good, being reminded of how decent Cam's family are, how willing to take in people they barely know, like him and Teyla, and make them part of the family, even if it's just for a few days.

"I'm glad you could come," Cam says sincerely. "It's weird, you know? Being the only person who knows what we know."

John can't really imagine how Cam feels, keeping a huge secret from people he shares everything with, and he suspects Teyla can't either, though she probably gets closer than he does. "Always happy to help," he says. "We going back to the hotel, or do you want to go out somewhere?"

"It is late, and I am very tired," Teyla says solemnly. "Perhaps we should go back to the hotel."

"To sleep," Cam says, halfway to a question.

"Eventually," Teyla agrees, her eyes bright. "Though, I think, perhaps not quite yet."

John steps on the gas; sleep, after all, waits for no-one.

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