blue flamingos

Coffee And Cake

Fandom: SG1/SGA

Category/Rated: Slash/PG

Year/Length: 2011/5598 words

Prompt: promotion

Pairing: Cam/John

Summary: In which John gets promoted, meets the new Air Force liaison officer, and tries to do damage control around his oldest niece.

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

Author's Notes: Originally written for skypilot-dlm & sg_flyboys. I don't think there's a canon statement or fanon consensus on who is the older Sheppard brother, so in this fic it's Dave, which I tell you in case there is a consensus that I've missed and you get to the third sentence and go 'fool, she doesn't even know that bit of canon.' Who, me, paranoid?!

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


"I don't understand why I have to come to this," John grumbled, squinting into the mirror over the fire as he failed – again – to get his bowtie right.

"It would be a bit odd to have a promotion party without the guest of honor," Dave pointed out. "Angela! Can you come here for a minute?"

"I don't need my niece to do my tie for me." John turned around, letting the two ends fall loose. Dave was completely straight-faced, unless you knew him well enough to look for the hint of a smile at the corners of his eyes, which John did. "You could be a nice older brother for once and do it for me."

"How will you learn without the humiliation of needing an eight year old to do it for you?"

Angela barreled into the room at that moment, her dress shoes skidding on the hardwood floor of the entrance hall. She caught her balance on the door frame and frowned at John. "Do you need me to do your tie, Uncle John?"

John gave in gracefully, sitting on the couch to be at her eye level. "Yes, please."

She sighed heavily, hands on her hips as she crossed to him. She was so like their mom that it still made John's heart ache some days; even in her blue party dress and pretty shoes, she exuded disappointed affection. "Watch me, this time," she instructed firmly, then set to work.

Dave laughed silently at John over Angela's head, and John restrained himself from sticking his tongue out to avoid giving Angela ideas (or a reason to sigh at him again).

"I meant, I don't understand why we have to have a party," John clarified, hoping for a change of subject.

"That's why I'm the director," Dave said. He adjusted his pocket square in the mirror as Angela stepped back and looked sternly at John.

"Don't touch it," she said firmly. "You'll mess it up."

"Okay." John didn't even mean to raise his hand, but at least he caught Angela's expression in time to smooth the lapels of his jacket instead. "Thank you."

"Welcome. I'm going to find Denise. We're going to be late."

"Heaven forbid," John muttered as she dashed away. He caught Dave's eye and put away as much of his discontent at the party as he could. After all, Dave was, technically, his boss.

"John," Dave started, and if Angela was their mother, Dave was their father at his least patient, his most despairing of John's failure to follow in his brother's perfect footsteps.

"I'm going, aren't I? You said I had to go, you didn't say I had to go graciously."

"Gracious would be nice."

"So would being at home in front of a football game with a pizza."

Dave sighed, conceding. "Fine. But I want you to meet someone while we're there."

"It's a party, I guess I'll meet plenty of people."

"I'd say that I'd also like you to act more like the recently promoted head of R&D instead of like my eight year old daughter, but I've always been taught not to ask for the impossible." Dave smiled slightly, softening the words. "I want to introduce you to our new Air Force liaison. You're going to be working closest with him now."

John could guess why Dave had kept that revelation for the last minute. John had wanted to fly since he was old enough to understand what it meant, until the car crash that had killed his parents when John was fourteen had also left him with minor brain damage that manifested in seizures if he didn’t take his meds. Dave had pretty much cemented his role as most capable Sheppard brother when, at seventeen, John had realized the Air Force was never going to take him and more or less had a breakdown in their apartment, shouting, "It's not fair," like a child until Dave calmed him down into just crying.

After that, the Air Force had been a kind of touchy subject.

"Why me?"

"It's in your job description," Dave said reasonably.

Since neither of his nieces was currently in the room, John stuck his tongue out at his brother.


Dave, who liked to use his promotion parties as a way to network with potential partners and clients, had turned the big conference room into a reception room and filled it with Sheppard Industries senior staff and their families, current and prospective business partners, and staff from John's department.

John had spent the first hour being glad-handed around by Dave, Angela firmly at his side long after her younger sister wandered off with her mom to play with the other children. When Dave stepped away briefly, Angela took John's hand and squeezed.

"You okay?" John asked, looking down at her. It was too hot in the conference room, and he really wanted to join his team instead of playing polite with potential business partners; there was a reason he'd gone into the R&D side, not the managerial like Dave.

"Tommy says you never bring anyone to parties," Angela said.

John squeezed her hand back. "I always bring you."

"Mom and Daddy bring me," Angela corrected. "Not you."

"I suppose not," John agreed, not sure what else to say. He'd dated Nancy for two years before they separated six months ago, and while it had been amicable, it hadn't been amicable enough for her to keep accompanying him to company parties. "At least I have you to keep me company."

"You should get another girlfriend," Angela said firmly.

"Or a boyfriend?" John suggested.

Angela made a face. "Boys are stupid."

Having met a couple of the boys she knew, John was inclined to agree, but his sister-in-law didn't like him saying that. "Some of the boys I know are quite smart."

Angela was still frowning, but before she could say anything, Bill Lee from MIT, who'd worked with John on a project a couple of years ago, spotted him and started to make his way across the room. John squeezed Angela's hand again, and bent down to her level. "Run, while you can."

"Uncle John." Angela was making her familiar you're-really-weird face.

"Dr Lee at one o'clock," John said, trying to keep a straight face. "Flee, save yourself."

Angela glanced over in Lee's direction, then back, her own face sliding into mock-fear. "Let me take you with me."

"Dr Sheppard!" Lee called.

"It's too late." John nudged her gently. "Leave me behind."

Angela giggled, then clapped a hand over her mouth. "Good luck," she said solemnly, and melted into the crowd, heading towards Dave.

John got the most welcoming smile he could manage on his face and stood up, one hand out. "Dr Lee, I wasn't expecting to see you here."


An hour later, John was hiding out in the corner of the room, wondering if he could persuade Andrea to let him take the girls back to the house. Probably not; she'd never let him use them as an excuse to escape a party before, and was unlikely to start with his own.

There was always sneaking out, of course, but unfortunately, Dave knew him too well for that, and was already heading across the room, a light-haired man in a suit in tow. Dave caught John's eye and held up a single warning finger. John was still tempted to run for it, but part of being the department head was being a good example (at least according to Marshall Sumner, who John had taken over from), so he stood still.

"I've been looking for you," Dave said when he got close enough. "John, this is the Air Force liaison I wanted you to meet. Major Cameron Mitchell, this is Dr John Sheppard, our new head of R&D." Cameron grinned. "Pleased to meet you, Doctor."

"You too, Major." John cursed himself for not figuring out who Cameron was as he came over, but he'd been expecting their Air Force liaison to be in his uniform. He wasn't sure whether it would help that Cameron was close to his age or not; their last liaison had been closer to Sumner's age, and mostly had little to do with John.

"Major Mitchell's just transferred out here, I was suggesting to him that you might be able to show him around a little," Dave said.

John fought down the urge to glare at him. "Kind of busy taking over running the department."

"Well, whatever you have time for," Dave said easily. "I'll leave you two to get to know each other, I have to go see where the girls are."

John watched Dave melt back into the crowd, then turned back to Cameron, who was watching Dave as well. And, unless John was misreading him, not any happier about the whole thing than John was, though he wiped it from his face as he turned back to John.

"Congratulations on the promotion," Cameron said. God knew the man had a convincing smile – a nice smile.

"Is your transfer the kind that I congratulate you for?" John asked, then regretted it when Cameron's face darkened for a moment, the smile sliding away.

"Life in the military," Cameron said with a stiff shrug.

"Sure." John cast a quick glance around the conference room, almost hoping for Bill Lee to appear. He'd never been any good with awkward conversations, and even less so with awkward emotional moments; God knew he'd had enough of both as a teenager living with his big brother. "You have to promise not to turn me into my brother for this," he said quietly, stepping closer to Cameron.

Cameron gave him a dubious look, but leaned in closer.

"I've spent two hours being polite to people I don't really know, and I wasn't even allowed to get drunk. This party is scheduled to go for another couple of hours, and I don't escape until the last guest leaves." John glanced over at Cameron, who was starting to look amused rather than dubious. "And, no offense, you don't look like this is the highlight of your day. So, want to escape?"

"Great way to make a good impression when I just started working with you guys," Cameron said, but he was already looking for the exits.

"Dave told me to show you round," John pointed out. "I'll show you my favorite coffee house."

"When you put it that way." Cameron grinned again. "Which way's out?"


"I feel over-dressed," Cameron said as they settled on John's favorite easy chairs in the window of the mostly empty shop.

"You are." John pulled the end of his bowtie till it came loose, then shrugged off his jacket and opened the top button of his shirt.

Cameron looked suddenly down into his coffee. "Yeah, try being out in dress uniform some time."

Well, the sudden interest in the coffee was… interesting. More so than the comment, but Cameron was active duty Air Force, which meant he was bound by the kind of rules John had escaped by being too seizure prone, especially without his medication. "What made you decide to join up?"

Cameron sipped his coffee, leaning back and crossing his ankles. "My father was Air Force. I always wanted to be like him." His face softened as he mentioned his father, and John tried to imagine feeling like that about his own father. He generally tried not to think too much about what his father's response to John's doctorate would have been, even after he started working for the company.

"Um," Cameron said. Obviously the silence had gone on too long. "Anyway, being stuck behind a desk wasn't exactly in my career plan. No offense."

"So not a congratulations kind of transfer then," John said, and immediately regretted it, watching the same shadow pass over his face. Clearly time for a change of topic. "You're not based in town?"

"Out at the base. Apparently I can't spend all of my time hanging out with you guys."

John raised one eyebrow. "Shame."

Cameron held his gaze for a moment, then looked away, the corner of his mouth twitching. "That work for you often?"

John laughed, surprised into it. "Not really, but there's always hope."

"I think you might need more than hope in this case," Cameron said, still smiling. "I'm in the Air Force."

"I like a challenge. Anyway, I bought you coffee and rescued you from a company party, what more do you want?"

"I heard there's at least dinner and a movie first."

"Everyone's a critic," John grumbled, then went up to the counter to buy Cameron a muffin.


John was knee-deep in paperwork and nursing a caffeine-withdrawal headache when someone knocked at his office door a couple of weeks after the party, which he thought was a pretty damn good excuse for snapping, "Yes, what? If it's more paperwork, I'm not home."

"It's not. Unless you count the box, I guess." Cameron opened the door and stuck his head in, a bakery box in one hand. "Also, that's not going to fool many people."

"It doesn't fool anyone," John said sadly, pushing his chair back slightly from the desk. "Come in."

"I brought food." Cameron opened the box, which turned out to contain two cherry Danishes. "But now I'm thinking I should have brought coffee."

"I look that bad?" John asked, then shook his head. "Don't answer that."

"I was going to offer up my best compliment, but if you're not interested…"

"No. give it your best shot."

Cameron sat down and took one of the pastries. "You look good even without coffee? The stressed-out hair suits you? I like a man who works hard?"

John tilted his hand side to side. "I've heard better."

"You threw my rhythm." Cameron looked around John's office. "Coffee?"

"Break room, but I can't go out there."

"Are there monsters?" Cameron asked, tilting his chair back, even though it didn't go far enough for him to be able to see out the door.

"Worse. Our accountant has three feet of paperwork for me to sign off on, but Aiden's convinced her I'm not in."

Cameron stood up, replaced his half-eaten Danish in the box, and squared his shoulders. "Fortunately, I have training in covert recon. Your accountant and the break room will not defeat me."

"I would never doubt it," John assured him.

Wrongly, it turned out: a couple of minutes later, he heard Mandy's voice quizzing Cameron about John's whereabouts, and really, John couldn't just leave Cameron to his fate, which meant throwing himself on Mandy's three feet of paperwork.

And never actually finding out what Cameron had dropped by for.


"I heard Major Mitchell came by your office last week," Dave said when he dropped by John's apartment on his way home from the gym Tuesday night.

"We're supposed to be working together," John said, disturbed at the note of defensiveness that crept into the sentence.

Of course, Dave picked up on it, his eyebrows going up over his coffee mug. "I was going to say that I'm glad to hear the two of you are managing to work together but…"

"But what?" Crap, so much for getting rid of the defensiveness. Especially since they weren't even doing anything to get defensive over.

"But my oldest daughter does seem very set on you finding someone else, and now I'm wondering if she ought to stop looking."

"Angela's actually looking for someone for me?"

Dave laughed. "She's asked me three times to invite her art teacher to dinner next time you come over. Apparently the two of you should get married."

"Isn't her art teacher living with one of Andrea's co-workers?"

"Angela feels Ms Adams would leave her girlfriend for you, if you met."

"That's…" John didn't actually know. Somewhere between sweet and disturbing.

"Not actually the relevant point right now," Dave filled in. "We were discussing Major Mitchell."

"He's our Air Force liaison. We liaise, the same way I liaise with everyone we're working with."

"Invite him to dinner some time," Dave suggested, holding one finger up when John started to protest. "The same way we do with all the liaisons from our partners. We're a family business, everyone is part of the Sheppard Industries family."

"If I say yes, will you stop spouting advertising slogans at me?"

"Think about where you are in the solar system. Now think about where you could be," Dave said, rounding out his vowels into the best imitation John had heard recently of the terrible voice-over artist the PR department had hired for that ad spot.

"Christ, fine, I'll invite him. Get out of my apartment."


John put the invitation off through two official meetings, three visits to the coffee house, and twelve phone calls, only nine of which had been truly necessary business communication. When Dave started offering to make the invite himself, however, he bit the bullet, and called Cam's office.

"If you're calling to tell me the report on the latest tests is done already, I'm going to either weep for my department's comparative inefficiency or kiss you," Cam said when he heard John's voice.

"If you'd told me that was the potential reward…"

"No, huh?"

"No, sadly we haven't developed the ability to work at a speed beyond that of either light or sound."

"Maybe when you're done with this project?"

"Yeah, maybe. If I'm going to get a kiss out of it."

"Or me weeping for my department," Cam reminded him.

John shrugged, even though Cam couldn't see him. "That has amusement potential."

"Glad to know I'm good for something," Cam said matter-of-factly. "So what can I do for you?"

"Come for dinner at my brother's this Friday." There was a long silence. "Not like a date. My brother has this thing about inviting business partners to family meals."

"Sounds familiar," Cam said fondly, reminding John of everything he'd said about how close his family was to their community.

"If you're busy…"

"Well, I was thinking of ordering Chinese and watching re-runs of Cheers."

"Sold." Not that John minded having dinner with his family, but he hated being dragged to Dave's family-business dinners.

Cam laughed, warm and low. "I'd love to come. Should I bring something?"

"Anything but wine. Andrea's a collector, she'll accept it politely and never drink it."

"Good tip, thanks. What sort of time?"

John contemplated the likely teasing from Dave and Andrea, balanced it against the desire to protect Cam from the full force of his family, and decided it balanced in favor of Cam. "I'll pick you up, about six thirty? They live pretty far out of town."

"That's – that sounds fine. Thank you."

Cam sounded oddly serious, enough to make John frown. "I can just give you the address if that's easier."

"No, it's fine. Thank you." A brief pause, then Cam, sounding odd, said, "I have to go. I'll see you on Friday."

"Sure," John said to a dead line.


At precisely six thirty on Friday evening, John pulled up outside Cam's apartment block to find him waiting there, coat open over a shirt, tie and black slacks, a white card box in his hands.

"Military efficiency?" John asked as he opened the passenger door.

"What's your explanation, then?" Cam gave the interior of John's Camaro an appreciative glance as John pulled away. "Nice car."

"It was my mom's," John said, surprising himself. Dave had taught him to drive it the summer after the crash, back when John had still had panic attacks more often than not in a car. It had worked to control them, even if he couldn't legally drive for another year and a half.

He could practically feel Cam not asking; no-one said much about John and Dave's parents, other than that Dave, like John, had worked his way up, and then taken over control when the last director retired.

"Let me look under the hood some time?" Cam asked, and John released the breath he'd been holding. "My brother had one, his first car. Didn't even run when he got it, he and I spent a whole summer getting it back into working order."

"I have a PhD in Engineering," John pointed out. "I think I can do basic maintenance on my own car."

"Sure you can," Cam agreed. "I just want to get my hands on…"

"My engine?" John suggested, grinning.

Cam laughed. "In my defense, it sounded less suggestive in my head."


"Okay, no, not really."


Andrea greeted them at the door with, "John, seriously, we gave you a key for a reason."

"So I can water your plants when you go to Disney Land next month?"

"Say that word where the girls can hear, and I will exact a great and terrible punishment on you, mark my words." She gave him a cheerful smile, then held a hand out to Cam. "You must be Major Mitchell, it's a pleasure to meet you."

"You too, ma'am." Cam juggled his box to shake her hand, then handed the box over. "Thank you for inviting me. I hope no-one has any allergies to chocolate cake."

Andrea turned the box. "Dante's Bakery? Major, you shouldn't have – this will be wasted on two small children."

"Please, call me Cam."

Andrea raised an eyebrow, like she knew he was side-stepping the comment on how he'd brought possibly the most expensive chocolate cake in the city as a hostess gift. "Andrea, then. John will take your coat, come through to the drawing room."

"Just call me Jeeves," John agreed, shrugging off his own jacket and taking Cam's. He was glad he'd bothered with a shirt and tie, even if the tie was only loosely knotted and the shirt was untucked.

By the time he'd hung both their jackets in the hall closet and made it to the drawing room, Cam had a glass of whiskey in his hand and was standing by the fireplace with Dave, both of them listening intently to Denise.

"Uncle John!" Angela came over to hug him. "Mommy says, help yourself to a drink, she's bathing the chicken." "She's always been an adventurous cook," John agreed, too quietly for Angela to hear him. He was pretty sure she meant basting, but with Andrea, it wasn't always a sure thing. "Do you want another drink?"

"Mommy says I can't." Angela turned her best pout on John, but her plastic glass was half-full of what looked like Coke, and she tended to react to the sugar and caffeine.

"I never argue with your mom."

Angela sighed, but gave in, running across the room to grab Denise's arm and pull her away to where they had several dolls sitting in a circle in the corner of the room.

"I guess you're not staying tonight?" Dave asked, wandering over as John poured himself a glass of tonic water and shook his head. "Then take these with you."

He handed over a bottle of John's pills, getting a quickly disguised look of curiosity from Cam in the process. "Thanks."

"You need to take better care of those," Dave said, in what John privately thought of as his 'dad' voice, the one he'd perfected in the three years between the crash and John going off to college. "You can't keep leaving them here."

"They're my spares," John said, though they actually weren't; his spare bottle was in his desk at the office, and he'd been relying on them for three days, trying to figure out what he'd done with the main bottle.

Dave shook his head in disapproving disbelief, but let it drop. "Major Mitchell says the project's going well."

"You know it is, you get status reports every Thursday."

The disapproving disbelief turned into just disapproval. "I'm glad to hear the two of you are working so well together."

Cam smiled, only a little strained. "I'm glad to have an excuse to get out of my office. The work John's team is doing is fascinating."

John rolled his eyes, but only because Dave had turned far enough not to see. And a little because he knew it would make Cam smile.

"We have an excellent team," Dave agreed. "They do great work, we're lucky to have them as part of the Sheppard Industries family."

This time, Cam very carefully didn't look in John's direction, which was probably just as well. Fortunately, they were saved by Andrea calling them for dinner.

Over soup, Andrea quizzed Cam about how he liked his new posting, his new accommodation, and the state in general, while John tried to listen to both their conversation and Denise and Angela telling him about their riding lesson the weekend before.

Over the main course, Andrea and Cam discovered that they'd both lived in Kansas for a number of years as teenagers, and had a couple of mutual acquaintances. Dave took advantage of Denise and Angela going off into their own little world to bother John about a new research contract they were bidding for, and whether he had the staff to take it on (he did, not that they were going to get it; Bill Lee's colleague Radek Zelenka was putting in for it as well, and it was much more his field that their's).

Regardless, John was actually beginning to think that they'd make it through dinner alive, when Angela tugged on his sleeve and beckoned him closer. Both Dave and Andrea had gotten up to clear the plates and serve dessert, and Denise was occupied trying to turn her napkin into a fish, which meant Cam, sitting opposite John, propped one elbow on the table and leaned in slightly.

"Daddy says Major Mitchell's not like all the other people you work with," Angela told him solemnly, in what was probably supposed to be a whisper, and it was John's turn to carefully not look at Cam.

"He probably means because Major Mitchell works for the Air Force instead of a company," John tried, since he had no clue what Dave might have meant.

"Like Mr. O'Neill."

"Yeah, like him," John agreed, relieved for no real reason.

Too soon, as it turned out; Angela shook her head. "He says you like Major Mitchell better."

John was going to kill his brother for not checking that Angela wasn't listening when he'd had that conversation. The girl had ears like a bat. "That's because I know Cam – Major Mitchell – better than I knew O'Neill."

"Like you with some of your friends," Cam offered. "You like some of them better than others, don't you? The ones you've known for longer."

Angela frowned. "I like Denise best."

"There you go," Cam said. "Because she's your sister so you know her better."

John heard clattering from the direction of the kitchen, and really hoped that meant Andrea and Dave were coming back to rescue them.

"But Uncle John's not your brother," Angela said. "He's Daddy's."

"We know that," John told her. "It was an example."

"Is it because Major Mitchell's like Aunty Nancy?" Angela persisted. John was definitely going to try to recruit her to his research team when she was old enough; she never gave up on a line of enquiry.

"Um," John said.

Angela's face brightened. "Does that mean he's going to be your boyfriend?" she asked, just as the door opened to admit Andrea carrying a trifle bowl, her face dropping into horrified amusement.

"Angela Marie Sheppard, what did you just say?"

"I just wanted to know if Major Mitchell was going to be Uncle John's boyfriend," Angela said, subdued.

Andrea set the trifle bowl down very firmly, and John wondered if he could sneak out while she was occupied. Probably not, since Dave was standing in the doorway. "And what have we told you about asking questions like that? Uncle John's private life is just that – private. We don't ask him personal questions about it, and we certainly don't do so when we have guests."

John was so glad he'd learned early on how not to incur Andrea's wrath.

"Now, what do you say to Uncle John and Major Mitchell?"

"Sorry," Angela said softly.

John reached over to give her a quick hug. "That's okay. I know you were just curious."

"I was." Angela nodded furiously a couple of times. "Sorry, Major Mitchell."

"Don't sweat it," Cam told her. "I've been asked a lot worse by my brother."

"You have a brother too?" Denise asked, abandoning her napkin fish – or maybe giraffe? John had gotten used to saying, 'that's lovely,' when presented with something that he couldn't identify, though Nancy had always preferred, 'why don't you tell me all about it?' "Like Daddy and Uncle John and me and Angela?"

"Yeah, like that," Cam agreed. "Except I'm the big brother, like your dad and your sister."

"What's your brother's name?" Denise asked, and Andrea started serving trifle as Dave refilled wine glasses, moving smoothly past their uncharacteristic moment of family reprimand in front of a guest.


It wasn't until they were standing on the front step, fastening their coats as Dave locked the door behind them, that John made up his mind to be on the safe side of the whole conversation with Angela.

Of course, making a last minute decision meant he hadn't had chance to figure out what to say. "Sorry about Angela, before."

Cam shrugged. "She's young, I'm sure her aim will get better."

John stopped for a second, thrown, then said, "Not the bear as projectile weapon. At dinner, what she said about you being my boyfriend."

"She's young," Cam said again, but some of the cheer had gone out of his voice, and he was concentrating hard on pulling on a glove.

"She's seven, she knows better. As my sister-in-law just proved." He hesitated, not sure what he wanted to say, and even less sure that saying whatever it was would be a good idea. "Look, I…"

"It's okay," Cam said, looking up again, though his face was too shadowed to read. "I get it."

John really doubted that. "I was going to say: when you, you know…"

"Flirt?" Cam suggested.

"Something like that. I know you're in the Air Force, that there are rules, and we work together, at least for the moment." God, John was rambling like an idiot. He shut up before he could get any worse.

"Are you asking… actually, I don't know what you're asking."

"Do you mean it when you flirt with me, or are you just doing it to be friendly? Or because you can and you know I won't go running back to your superior officer and turn you in?"

"A little bit of the latter," Cam admitted. "You have no idea how nice it is to feel safe with someone." He scuffed the toe of his shoe against the step. "But mostly – yeah, because I'm… Because I want to."

John couldn't be bothered to fight down his grin. "Good. Because I know I'm doing it because I want to."

Cam was suddenly very close. "You want to do anything else?"

"Maybe." John rested a hand on his shoulder for a moment, then hooked one finger in the knot of Cam's tie and pulled him into a kiss.

Cam tasted faintly of the coffee they'd drunk, and John couldn't forget that he was on his brother's front doorstep, quite possibly being watched by said brother, so, even allowing for it being a first kiss, it wasn't all that great.

"I can do better than that," he said as they parted.

"Promises, promises," Cam teased, his eyes bright and amused from so close. "You're already doing a decent job of making me look ravished."

"I loosened your tie," John corrected, reaching out to straighten it. "I'm better than that at ravishment as well."

"Now that's some research I'd be happy to participate in."

"God, the cheesy come-ons are your thing, aren't they?"

"Got me you, didn't they?"

"Only because I was hoping you'd stop with them if I kissed you."

"Bad luck, then," Cam said ruefully.

The door opened before John could say anything in response, revealing the right half of Andrea's face, smiling patiently. "Hi," she said. "I'm so happy that the two of you are having this little moment, and I'm sure there will be rejoicing throughout the land, and particularly from my daughter, but if you wouldn't mind, aforementioned daughter has pin-drop hearing, and I'd really like another few years before I have to give her the sex talk."

"So go the hell home?" John asked.

"Basically," Andrea agreed cheerfully.

"And don't forget you've got a phone call scheduled for nine thirty tomorrow morning," Dave called.

"Slave driver," John called back, then, to Andrea, "We're leaving. Thanks again for dinner."

"Thank you," Cam echoed. "Sorry for appropriating your doorstep."

"I'd say no problem, but…"

"Yeah, we're out of here," John said firmly, dragging Cam down the steps by his wrist. "Good night."

"Excuse my family," he added when they were safely on the road.

"They're just looking out for you," Cam said, slightly wistful. "They want you to be happy."

"I know," John said. "You want me to drop you home?"

"I want you to drop me in the middle of your bed," Cam corrected.

"Again with the bad puns."

"Don't worry, I'll stop while we're having sex."

"Promises, promises."

He didn't, as it turned out, but John couldn't exactly bring himself to care. At least he wasn't finding it cute – not yet, anyway.

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