blue flamingos

Keep on Living

Fandom: Stargate Atlantis/Stargate SG1

Category/Rated: Slash,

Year/Length: 2007/ ~2020 words

Pairing: John/Cam

Spoilers: The Return II

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

Series: The Return 'verse

Author's Notes: International "Whee!" Day Challenge!

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

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John suggests it while they're eating lunch, both in the Mountain at the same time for once, feeling like an idiot and trying not to sound like it's a date.

"A carnival?" Cam repeats, raising an eyebrow over his coffee mug, so John can't see the rest of his expression.

"I like carnivals," John says, poking at his food. At least on Atlantis the food tasted odd for a reason, he thinks, then forces himself to stop.

"I guess." Cam sounds dubious now, though he's half-smiling. "If you don't mind risking your life on some of the rides."

"And that'll be different from your day job how?" John asks.

"At least with the Ori you can run away," he says, then shrugs and nods. "All right, fine. But don't blame me if you lose a limb on some ride that hasn't been replaced since before we were born."

"Deal," John says, and abandons his probably-meant-to-be pasta for dessert.

"You're making deals without asking my advice?" asks a voice by John's ear, but when he looks up, Vala's looking at Cam, not him, her head tilted and her eyebrows drawn together in a parody of disapproval. He looks around automatically until he spots Jackson putting a salad next to two coffee mugs and glaring at her.

"Would I do that?" Cam asks innocently, drawing John's attention back just in time to see Vala's hand slide over his tray towards his slice of cake.

He closes his hand round her wrist at the last moment and growls, "don't even think about it," in his best scare-the-Marines voice, the one he doesn't need to use any more, because his Marines do what he tells them without question. He's not at all sure he likes it, but there's plenty of things he could say that about, and it's been a month, so he's decided it's time to start getting over it.

"No, sir," Vala says with a mock salute and falls into the chair next to him, leaning her elbows on the table and her chin on her clasped hands to gaze at Cam, who leans back slightly, though John's fairly sure she doesn't notice. "So? What's the secret deal?"

"We're in the middle of the commissary," Cam points out reasonably. "Not the best place for secret deals."

"So you won't mind telling me, will you?" Vala asks, and John can't help smiling when Cam meets his eyes with a resigned expression. He's done comparing SG-1 with his own team, but the prospect of putting her on a team with Ronon is almost entertaining. He doesn't remember them meeting when SG-1 came to Atlantis.

"There's a carnival in town," Cam tells her. "Sheppard's trying to talk me into going with him to risk our lives on the rides." He nods at Jackson as he takes the last free seat and hands Vala the salad and a fork, batting her hands away from a plate of something potato based.

"Rides?" she asks, stabbing Jackson with her fork and smiling sweetly when he glares at her. "Like on a... what are they called... ass?"

"Donkey," Cam corrects quickly. John watches in amused surprise as he looks down and away, and wonders what stories he's told her about donkey rides as a kid. "And no, they're like... people sit in carriages and – like a slide, or some of them go in circles..."

Even Jackson looks up from the file he's got open in front of him as Cam trails off. "Do you need me to find you a picture book?" he asks, sounding like it's a genuine offer.

Cam glares at him. "I'm fine, thanks, Jackson. Though you're the linguist, actually, why don't you give it a try?"

Jackson, of course, does – he's like Rodney in that way, can't resist a challenge, unlike John's new scientist who actually has, on occasion, run *away* from a challenge - and he talks at length about different types of rides, and the history and tradition of traveling carnivals. When he starts on the folklore attached to them, Vala puts down her spoon and puts her hand on Jackson's arm, leaning sideways to look at Cam from under her eyelashes. John suspects she knows it's pointless, just does it to mess with Cam's head.

"It's for fun, right?" she asks. "People go to these places to have fun?"

"And eat too much junk food," Cam agrees. He glances across at John, who nods, knowing what Vala's going to say next.

"I want to go!" she chirps brightly, and Jackson stops talking. Looks like he knows what's coming next too. "Daniel... " She turns her smile on him. "Take me to the carnival, Daniel!"

"I'm sure –" Jackson starts to say, but he must catch the way Cam and John both stiffen because he changes the sentence. "I don't like carnival rides," he says instead.

Vala pouts, and John gathers the remains of his lunch. "Well, I've got mission briefing in ten minutes, so you kids have fun without me."

He can hear Vala pleading as he leaves the commissary, but he suspects the outcome's a foregone conclusion.

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"So," John asks, leaning one elbow on the security desk. "We've got company, I assume?"

Cam leans against the wall next to him and closes his eyes, visions of paperwork dancing in his head until he rubs his eyes and John replaces them. It's easier to stare like this, when no-one but him can see what he's looking at, and he catalogues John's posture, his hair and his eyes and thinks that he actually looks relaxed, or as relaxed as Cam's seen him, outside of right after they've had sex. He's not stupid enough to point it out. "Yeah. Vala insisted."

John huffs a laugh, and Cam opens his eyes to watch him smile. "Thought she might."

"That OK?" Cam asks. He's feeling kind of weird about the whole evening, and he's actually glad, in a way, that they've got other people along, making it more like a group outing and less like a date. Not that he'd mind if it was a date, but...

He's cut off from his own rambling thoughts by bouncing footsteps and turns to watch Vala come round the corner, dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt that must belong to Daniel, her hair in pigtails again, grinning at them both. "Ready, boys?"

"Where's your chaperone?" he asks. She was still working on Daniel when Cam left them to it, but Daniel's the only one who doesn't believe Vala can persuade him of anything given enough time.

"I thought that was your job," Sam says, grinning at him from the end of the corridor, and Cam does a bit of a double-take.

"Colonel Carter," John says, his voice mocking and warm.

"Colonel Sheppard," Sam says back, and they smile at each other. Cam doesn't get them at all, and they both shrug when he asks, but they've got some sort of weird quasi-friendship going on. Since they both enjoy it, he's chalking it up to some McKay-exposure induced bond and letting them get on with it.

"Let's go." Vala hooks one arm through Sam's and the other through his and propels them both towards the door. Cam resists the urge to grab John's wrist, checking over his shoulder that he's following instead.

The carnival's set up in a field within walking distance of the base, and they don't walk far before Cam can see the lights on the rollercoaster. Vala's let go of them by then, walking a little ahead with Sam, so Cam nudges John with his shoulder until he looks over. He smiles slightly, but his eyes are lit with anticipation, like Cam hasn't seen since John offered to show him the puddlejumpers back on Atlantis. Whatever he was going to say dies in his throat, and he just grins back like an idiot.

"Come on!" Vala calls back to them. She sends them a glare when Cam waves and starts walking again, but he watches Sam's affectionate expression and wonders if he'll manage to put the conversation off till the evening's over.

Vala's like a little kid when they get into the carnival ground, watching the rides with wide eyes and a gleeful expression. Cam puts a hand on her shoulder, half-pushing, half-leading her through the crowds, following Sam and John, who's walking with intent. Cam's not at all surprised when they come out at the foot of the ferris wheel set up in the middle of the ground. They may only have been sleeping together regularly for a few weeks, but he's known John Sheppard long enough to predict a few things.

"Yes," Vala crows happily when she sees it, and shrugs out from under his hand, already moving forward. "Can we go?"

"That's the plan," John drawls, looking at Cam, who shakes his head. "Mitchell?"

"No way," Cam says firmly, taking a step back like that'll help him. "Anything else, but you are not getting me up on that thing."

Sam's reining Vala in before she gets swept up in the line, and there are enough people around for no-one to notice where John's hand goes when he moves closer to Cam. "I'll make it worth your while," he offers, low-voiced.

"With Vala and Sam watching?" Cam asks, closing his hand round John's wrist but not moving his hand. He's a good guy, but he's not a saint, not with John's voice sounding like that in his ear. "I didn't know you liked an audience."

"Two person carriage," John points out. "Come on."

"No," Cam says firmly, and moves John's hand, spotting Sam steering Vala back to them. "I'm not going up there."

"Why not?" Vala asks, sounding genuinely curious. Cam wishes they'd brought Jackson with them instead, or even Teal'c, who knows but wouldn't share.

"He's scared of heights." No such luck with Sam, of course, Cam thinks, glaring at her as she smiles innocently back at him.

"Scared of heights?" Vala asks, looking between the three of them. "Aren't you a pilot?"

"Planes are different," Cam says, praying he's not blushing. John's face on the edge of his vision is bright with laughter and he thinks for one hopelessly sappy instant that it's worth a little humiliation.

Sam chooses that moment to take pity on him. "Go on," she says, nudging John forward. "I'll look after this one."

"Sure?" John asks, and Cam swats him over the back of his head, saying, "just try not to fall to your death."

"We'll do our best," John promises solemnly, and follows Vala into the crowd.

Cam watches them climb into one of the gently swinging carriages until Sam touches his arm. She's giving him the big sister look she's somehow perfected in the years they've known each other, even though he's a couple of years older than her. "You and Colonel Sheppard?" she asks.

He thinks about denying it for about three seconds, before he remembers that Sam might not be the most observant person when it comes to people, but is also rarely wrong when she does notice. "Since the expedition came home," he says, turning to watch the wheel circle slowly. He can't pick out which carriage John and Vala are in.

"I thought..." He hears Sam shuffle slightly, putting her hands in her pockets. "I thought, him and McKay, when we were on Atlantis."

Cam grins at her. He spent a week thinking that before they slept together the first time, then another week trying to figure out how to ask. "McKay's straight." Incurably straight, John said with a wry smile, and Cam figured he'd leave that one alone. "He wants you, remember?"

"Don't remind me," Sam says with a groan. She puts her hand back on Cam's arm, and when he turns to her, she's looking at him gravely. "You're OK?"

"Yeah," Cam says. He looks back at the ferris wheel, wishing for this conversation to be over.

"He's OK?" Sam asks, still serious, and Cam wonders if this is what it feels like to date someone's younger brother.

"I'm not going to break his heart, if that's what you're asking," he tells her, smiling, because there isn't anyone from the Atlantis expedition that he'd describe as OK right now. Sam shakes her head at him, but they've known each other a long time, she knows what he's not saying, and even if she doesn't, Vala and John are walking back and the chance is gone.

"That was fantastic," Vala says. "You can see the Mountain from up there."

Cam looks up and feels dizzy. "Sounds like a blast," he says dryly.

"How'd you ever decide to join the Air Force?" John asks, shaking his head and grinning, and Cam thinks it's the first time he's seen him look happy since the expedition came home.

He wraps his hand round the back of John's neck and gives him a push back into the crowd. "Come on, let's go get some cotton candy."

John leans back a little, bringing his mouth close to Cam's ear, and says, "I guess I might still make it worth your while."

Next: Early Morning Freak-Out


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