blue flamingos

Not One Word

Fandom: Stargate Atlantis/Stargate SG1

Category/Rated: Slash, PG-13

Year/Length: 2007/ ~1526 words

Pairing: John/Cam

Spoilers: Mild spoilers for The Return pt 1

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

Series: The Return 'verse

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

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"Not one word," John says, and all Cam can see is his hair, and his right hand curled round the edge of the door, but that's enough for him to have to fight down a grin. "Seriously," John says, not moving even when Cam rests his hand on the door to push it open. "I know Marines who'd kill you in your sleep if I asked."

It's not the first time John's mentioned the Atlantis military personnel lately – Cam thinks he probably knows more about Major Lorne than he does about anyone at the SGC outside his team, and he's only met the guy briefly, twice. Cam doesn't point it out, but it's just about the first time in four and a half weeks that the comment's come without animosity behind it.

"I'll keep that in mind," he says, and pushes a little harder at the door. "Do you need me to swear it in blood as well, cos if you do, you'll have to find me a knife."

"You don't have a penknife on you?" John asks. "What sort of Air Force officer are you?"

Cam wonders for a moment if he's drunk, then dismisses that idea, because John's a morose drunk, not a joking, teasing one. Not that he minds being teased. "The off-duty kind. Also the about-to-get-reported-for-loitering-if-you-don't-open-the door kind."

"Fine," John huffs, and steps back into the dark entrance of his apartment.

Cam's first inclination is to reach for the light switch, but there's enough light coming in from the open door for him to see John. He gets a flicker of déjá vu, reminded of the night after John's first mission with the SGC.

"Marines who can kill you in your sleep," John says again, closing the door firmly behind Cam.

"I sleep with my gun under my pillow." Cam presses him back against the door, kisses him, and doesn't give John a chance to point out that Cam locks his gun away at the Mountain every night before he leaves. Too many military horror stories for him to keep it in the house, even if he does live mostly alone.

John's hands tighten on his shoulders, drawing him back out of his head and he finally realizes what's bothering him about the kiss. "What the hell is that stuff? It tastes like..." he gives up, pulling back just far enough to see John blink once at the question.

"Oh," he says, pushing Cam back far enough to walk round him into the lit kitchen. "I'm honestly not sure I want to know. Some mix of plant extracts, I guess."

"Is it toxic?" Cam asks, then wishes he hadn't when John gives him the look he usually reserves for the Marines on his team.

"Yeah, they let me out of the Mountain covered in a toxic substance."

"Well," Cam feels compelled to point out, "they did let you out of it dyed pink."

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M37-4XG is a pleasant planet, with a small nomadic culture that will be on the other side of the planet when they visit. There are no known predators, the planet wasn't touched by the Gou'ald and as far as anyone can tell, the Ori are similarly uninterested in it. There are three major lakes, one near the stargate, where a type of grass grows. The grass is a staple food of the questrells Babiss is breeding in one of the zoology labs, and it only grows on this and two other planets, so John's team have been tagged for the latest supply run.

"Wow, the thrilling life of an intergalactic explorer," Rodney says over the phone, when John finally folds and tells him. It's been Rodney's response to John's last three missions as well, and John's pretty sure that it makes Rodney feel better to brush off John's life as even more boring than his own.

"You were the one always complaining about having to run for your life." John's new people have only had to do that once, and that was from a rhino-like-thing that turned out to be harmless. John hasn't mentioned that to Rodney.

"Yes, but at least it came with the prospect of exciting new science," Rodney points out, and John doesn't tell him that he'd trade safety and alien animals for science and running for his life any day. He thinks Rodney probably knows that already.

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They don't find the nomadic residents of M37-4XG.

What they do find are three members of an inter-stargate rare-breeds trading network, who've come for the same grasses that John's people have, and who aren't prepared to give it up without a fight.

"Look, we can talk about this," John offers, hoping Tyler and Wallace aren't aiming at the same guy he is. This isn't the time to miss Teyla and Ronon and the semi-psychic link they had in these kinds of situations, but he finds himself doing it anyway. "We're reasonable people, you seem..." There's no way to finish that sentence that won't be a massive lie or get them killed. "Babiss, how much of the grass do we need again?"

"You're trying to take our livelihood from us," the guy John's aiming at – the one he figures must be the leader – says, and he really doesn't sound like a reasonable person. "We cannot allow this."

"We're really not," John says. "We just want, maybe two sacks of that stuff, a handful of seeds and we'll be out of your hair." Or the other way around – apparently inter-stargate rare-breeds traders don't have hair, which, having tangled with a questrell three days ago, John can see the virtue of. "Why don't we all just put our weapons down and –"

And let the six guys creeping up behind them while they were apparently all distracted leap on them and cover their heads with hessian sacks.

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The traders appear, holding at gun-point and kidnapping notwithstanding, to be nice enough guys; they march John, Babiss and his two Marines, with whom John will be having strong words about vigilance when they get back, back to the stargate and dump them, but they don't make any attempt at beating them up, which makes a nice change from Pegasus.

It's about the only thing that does.

"We have heard of people like you," the leader says, looking down at John, who's reminded of his first CO, who liked him even less than the ones that followed. "People who follow honest traders through the ring, steal what they have come for and then take over their trade when there is no option remaining."

Corporate take-over, stargate-style, John thinks. "We're really, really not those guys," he says, not that he thinks it's going to do them any good. He wishes, again, for Teyla's diplomacy, Ronon's glare or even, at a pinch, Rodney's distracting babble. What he's got are two silent but not-particularly-deadly Marines and a zoologist who's more scared than Beckett faced with the control chair. And himself. "I told you, we just want a bit of the grass. We've got no plans to take our questrells on tour. We're happy to keep them for ourselves, we just need to feed them."

"No-one crosses the Sellari and remains unscathed," the leader intones. If he couldn't understand every word, John would be starting to wonder if the gate translation device was working on this planet. "You will suffer our punishment."

"He dyed your team pink as punishment for trying to take his grass?" Cam asks. He's got diplomacy skills – well, some, anyway – he's not going to laugh. Not while John's watching him, at any rate.

"Not them. Just me," John corrects him.

"Oh." Cam takes a big gulp of coffee. "Any idea how long till it comes off?"

John glares for a minute, like he suspects Cam of laughing at him on the inside. "It's not water soluble," he says, sounding like he's grinding his teeth. Leaning on the other side of the table, all his visible skin and the tips of his hair bright pink, he looks like a demented elf from a fantasy on LSD. "Lam gave me something that should help, but she thinks it's going to stick around for at least three more days."

"Oh," Cam says again, and he can't help the laugh that breaks through.

John holds his glare for longer than Cam would have expected, but when it cracks, he actually laughs, stupid and careless, and Cam can easily believe the Atlantis Marines would kill him if this man asked them to.

When they stop laughing, John's *looking* at him, like he did in the bar, two days after he walked through the gate from Atlantis, and Cam's not sure what was funny any longer, heat pooling at the base of his spine. "So," he says, stepping round the table to hook his fingers in John's belt loops, pull him closer. "Just how much of you did they dye?"

John presses into him, his hands on Cam's hips. "Find out for yourself," he says, and Cam barely notices the too-sweet cider flavor of the kiss this time.

Next: Rolling Away


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