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SGA/SG1: Ultimatum (John/Cam)

Title: Ultimatum
Pairing: John Sheppard/Cam Mitchell
Author: bluflamingo
Rating: PG
Word count: 1304
Summary: "So this is an ultimatum," John said, like he was checking some form Lorne had given him. "You or my job."


The thing was – the thing was that Cam had let himself forget. Let himself relax and get used to the way things were, because it had been six months, nine months, Thanksgiving and Christmas and their birthdays, closing in on a year and –

And he'd wanted to believe that it could be like this forever. That the vague promises the IOA and the SGC made about Atlantis going back would fade away, and that John would stay with the SGC, with his hotch-potch, cobbled together team of brand new SGC officers and Atlanteans who never quite left. That John would stay with him, nominally in Cam's spare room and really in Cam's bed. In Cam's life, in a way they'd never managed, not since they were kids hooking up in a warzone.

He should have known better. Or, really, he should have remembered that he knew better, because then he wouldn't have been so knocked flat with shock when John came home one evening grinning like Cam had never seen him, saying, "They just gave us a date to go home."

"Home," Cam said stupidly, because home was the apartment, home was Cam making stew on his day off and John's boots inside the front door.

John was focused on getting out of his coat, not paying attention. "Back to Pegasus. It's still another month away, and I guess it'll get pushed back, but they finally signed off on us taking the city home."

"That's – great," Cam said, well aware that he wasn't even faking enthusiasm all that well.

John must have picked it up as well, because he straightened up, came over to where Cam was leaning in the kitchen doorway, grin tempered into something less certain. "I asked – O'Neill said once that he owed me a favor."

"And you called it in?" Cam said. He wasn't going to assume – wasn't going to let hope get the better of him again, no matter that the bright flare of it said otherwise.

"Yeah, I – you don't have a team at the moment. I mean, you haven’t, since SG1 broke up. And it looks like we're going to be getting a 302 squadron, now they're all being replaced with the 310s." John ducked his head, rubbed a hand over the back of his neck, and Cam wanted to tell him to stop, wanted to tell him not to ask, because Cam already knew what his answer would be. "So I asked O'Neill if Atlantis could have you to lead the squad, and he said yes if you were up for it."

"I –" Cam had always known, in the part of his mind that he tried to shut up, that saying goodbye was going to really hurt this time. He wished, though, that he could have anticipated this, how much more it would hurt to crush the hope on John's face. "I can't, John."

It took John a second, enough for Cam to see what he'd said hit John. "Right," John said blankly, already turning away. "I shouldn't have –"

"John." Cam reached out, caught John's arm, and then couldn't think of anything to say.

"It's fine."

"It’s not fine." The words came out sharper than Cam had intended, and forget hurt, he was angry, suddenly, at the situation, at the SGC – at John, for offering something he should have known Cam couldn't say yes to, for making Cam the bad guy when John was the one leaving. "What would you say, if I asked you to stay on Earth?"

"Are you?" John was still facing away, and Cam couldn't read his tone of voice at all.

"If I was."

"Pegasus is my fight," John said, and he sounded exhausted. "I woke the Wraith. If they go back and I stay here, then everyone who dies out there is on my hands."

Cam knew the casualty numbers for Pegasus, had seen the coffins being unloaded from the Daedalus. When John pulled away, he let go.

"Are you asking me to stay?" John asked.

"I can't leave," Cam said, and he knew his reasons would sound small against John's guilt, John's need to save everyone, or sacrifice himself trying, but he had to say them, the only thing he had left. "What I do here is important. My family is important to me. I can't trade this for a make-work job in Atlantis."

If John had been anyone else, he'd have said, 'You mean you can't trade it for me,' and Cam had never been so grateful for John's inability to express his feelings, for not having to admit that truth.

"What happens if I go back?" John asked. He turned a little, enough for Cam to see his face in profile. "To this?"

And that, that was the question that Cam had been avoiding for the better part of a year, the answer he'd had waiting in the back of his head and wanted not to have to say. "I want you here," he said. "I've – John, it's been years, it's been more than half our lives, don't you want…"


"To be together for real, instead of in between missions and when you get leave?"

"Together on Earth."

"Yes," Cam said, wanting to grab John, shake him out of the blank expression and flat voice. Make him feel something, and show it, for once. "Yes, together on Earth, where we're not being watched all the time and we can leave work at the end of the day and have – I don't know, a house, a dog. Something more."

"I don't belong here any more," John said, quiet. "This isn't my home, and maybe it could be one day, but not yet. I have to go back, I have to finish what I started."

Cam took a step back to lean against the wall, suddenly unsure that his legs would hold him. "The last four years – I can't do it any more, John." He took a deep breath, forced the words out round the way he felt like he was choking, couldn't get enough air. "I'm tired of being alone, and I'm too old to do this any more. If you go back to Pegasus, then – then that's it. For us."

"So this is an ultimatum," John said, like he was checking some form Lorne had given him. "You or my job."

"Yes. If you want to put it like that, it's an ultimatum."

John nodded, the silence dragging out, thick and suffocating, and Cam couldn't take it. He'd always been the one who stepped up and said things when John wouldn't, or couldn't. No reason for this to be any different.

"You're going to go," he said, managing to not quite make it a question. Managing to force himself to keep looking at John, to see John nod. "Okay."

John turned, then, crossed back to stand in front of Cam, close enough to touch. He looked the way Cam felt, shattered, shaken, like the day someone said there really were aliens, they really could travel to other planets. Even when John had gotten married, it hadn't felt like this, like the world was changing in a way that could never be unchanged.

"I've got a month," John said. "Before we go back, can I stay?" He reached out, one hand on Cam's arm, and Cam shuddered. "Four more weeks, Cam, can I –"

Cam knew he should say no, knew this was a fool's errand and likely to end in the worst possible way, but John was asking, and even knowing the end was coming, had maybe arrived already: "Yes," Cam said, pulling John close, letting John wrap an ice cold hand around the back of his neck and pull him in for a messy, off-center kiss. "Stay, until you have to go."


( 41 comments — Leave a comment )
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May. 9th, 2012 08:57 pm (UTC)
wow. what a messy, heartbreaking, completely believable response to the prompt. life is like that. I ache for both of them equally.
May. 13th, 2012 08:15 pm (UTC)
Thanks! In my head, they always make it work, but yeah, I could definitely see Cam just giving up
May. 9th, 2012 09:06 pm (UTC)

Poor boys but, yes, John would feel responsible and Cam would want to stick around for his family....

Nicely done!
May. 13th, 2012 08:16 pm (UTC)
And yeah, they definitely would - though I think they could make it work in the end (maybe not in this universe, however!)
May. 9th, 2012 09:23 pm (UTC)
That is so sad. The worst part is that I could see their relationship end just like this. *sniffle*
May. 13th, 2012 08:18 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I could too-though I prefer to think they work it all out and live happily ever after
May. 9th, 2012 10:12 pm (UTC)
Heartbreaking because, yeah, this is kind of how it feels like it would have to go in the show. And this is exactly how they'd both react.
May. 13th, 2012 08:20 pm (UTC)
I prefer to imagine that they hold their relationship together though-I mean, John has to come home eventually.
May. 9th, 2012 10:58 pm (UTC)
Very plausible and sad and very well done.
May. 13th, 2012 08:20 pm (UTC)
May. 10th, 2012 05:02 am (UTC)
Yeah, there's a kind of tragic inevitability to John/Cam that you've really nailed in this story. Unless other bad things happen, like an apocalypse on Earth or Atlantis never being able to go back to Pegasus, this rift was always hanging over them.
May. 13th, 2012 08:21 pm (UTC)
They do have it hanging over them, but also, I think that eventually John will have to come back - I mean, he works for the Air Force, they're going to call him back eventually - and so they might manage to hold it together. Or John might come come home for Cam in the end, I don't know.
May. 10th, 2012 08:30 am (UTC)
I can see this happening so easily... I think the last line "Stay until you have to go" really is true to them.
May. 13th, 2012 08:22 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it's hard to keep a relationship going across galaxies, though I think they could make it work
May. 10th, 2012 09:34 pm (UTC)
Wow... That hit me like a punch in the gut. Such a hard choice for both of them, and you capture it so beautifully.

Edited at 2012-05-10 09:38 pm (UTC)
May. 13th, 2012 08:23 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
May. 11th, 2012 11:03 pm (UTC)
Oh, oh, oh. THat hurts exactly like it should. Ouch.
May. 13th, 2012 08:23 pm (UTC)
I miss the days of me writing happy fic about the two of them. I'm sure those existed!
May. 12th, 2012 12:24 am (UTC)
Oh, OW. Really well done.
May. 13th, 2012 08:23 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
May. 12th, 2012 06:01 pm (UTC)
I think you broke me! *meep*

My heart is aching for both of them and I want to shake both of them. :(

Still, Thank you for this fic!
May. 13th, 2012 08:24 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
I can see how they hit the point of feeling like they can't do it any more, but I think in the end they'd work it out somehow - maybe when John has to come home, since he can't stay in Pegasus forever.
May. 13th, 2012 06:37 pm (UTC)
oh, heartbreakingly sad. And very in character for both of them. Ouch.
May. 13th, 2012 08:25 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
May. 13th, 2012 08:42 pm (UTC)
Oh, wow, shattering - and more so because they're both right, in their ways.
May. 15th, 2012 08:36 pm (UTC)
Yeah, and I think also that they're just tired, you know? Like they don't have the energy any longer to try to make it work
(Deleted comment)
May. 15th, 2012 08:38 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

I prefer to imagine them working it out and living happy ever after as well, this one story notwithstanding. Though even in this, I could imagine John coming home eventually, and finding out that Cam's moved on to bigger and better things and going to ask if maybe Cam might still... because John kind of does
May. 14th, 2012 12:26 am (UTC)
Oh, God, that hurt. Poor boys, trapped by their obligations and personalities--that same honour and ability to love, which held them together for so long, are what tear them apart in the end when competing loyalties interfere.

Now I gotta go read my own fic to feel better, because John Sheppard's Adynaton is pretty much the flip-side of this debate. :) But wow, I really adore your angst!
May. 15th, 2012 08:39 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

I love your fic so much, for many reasons but also because happy ending :) and I think they can make it work in the end. I just also think that, you know, a year together actually makes it harder, because before being apart was normal and now it's giving up being together, which sucks
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( 41 comments — Leave a comment )

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