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Summary: “It’s an SG-1 tradition,” Sam says innocently.
“Excuse me?” Cam says, and Sam smiles at him sweetly.
“It’s an SG-1 tradition,” she says innocently. Cam’s known Sam for ten years, he knows what sweet and innocent on her really means, and he’s not fooled for a second. On the other hand, she only breaks it out for something she really wants, and if what she really wants is for him to believe that SG-1 have a Secret Santa tradition that he has to uphold, well, he’s played along with worse things since he got here.
Though most of them haven’t given him a mental image of O’Neill and/or Landry dressed as Santa, which he could have lived quite happily without.
“All right,” he says gamely. “So, what, we put everyone’s names in a hat and draw one out?”
Sam shakes her head and hands over a slip of paper, neatly folded into quarters. “Teal’c draws the names for each person,” she tells him. “Long story. It’s easier that way.”
Cam’s not going to ask. Partly because he knows she’s making it up, but also because he’s really not sure he’s going to want to hear whatever she manages to come up with on the spur of the moment. “Okay. How secret is it, then?” Sam frowns at him, confused. “I mean, who knows? Can I tell you who I got and ask you for advice?”
“You can’t tell people,” Sam says firmly, slightly shocked, or doing a good job of it. “There’s only four of us, it’d be too easy to guess.”
“Right. Sure,” Cam agrees, and wonders, again, if maybe getting SG-1 back wasn’t the great idea he thought it was.
“What?” Daniel says when Sam hands him his piece of paper and explains why she’s giving it to him. “Didn’t we agree not to bother with Christmas presents years ago?”
“Yes,” Sam says patiently. “But it’s Cam’s idea, to help build team spirit, and he’s still feeling kind of –“ She waves a hand to indicate a general sense of not fitting in, feeling kind of guilty about doing even that. Even knowing it’s true and that Daniel has almost certainly noticed, she still doesn’t feel right to be talking about Cam like this behind his back. “New team, new traditions,” she offers.
“Hmm,” Daniel says thoughtfully. He’s got the look he gets when he’s about to treat them all to a treatise on how something is managed by different cultures across the galaxy, and Cam’s supposed to be stopping by her lab in ten minutes, which means he’ll come looking for her in Daniel’s office in fifteen, and she needs to not be caught there.
“So you’re in?” she asks, just to be sure. “Just – don’t mention it to Cam, okay?”
Daniel looks up at her blankly for a moment, and she’s just taking a breath to explain that it won’t work as a team building thing if they make Cam feel like they’re just humoring him, when Daniel nods and says, “Right. Of course.”
The problem is, Cam hasn’t really been at the SGC long enough to make friends. Or, well, he’s been there six months, which is plenty long enough to make friends, but the members of his team are hard to make friends with, and everyone’s kind of busy trying to save the world. Okay, that’s not entirely fair: he’s already friends with Sam, and he likes to think Teal’c doesn’t think he’s completely useless since his time with the Sodan. The problem really is that he doesn’t feel like he knows Jackson at all, or at least not well enough to buy him a Christmas present, and he doesn’t know anyone else well enough to ask.
He’s not sure whether he wants to credit Sam with quite that much scheming, but he thinks she might have set this up precisely because she’s realized he’s still having trouble fitting into the team, in which case, telling him it’s an old tradition is both kind of sweet and kind of humiliating.
None of which solves his problem, which is: what exactly do you buy for a planet-hopping archaeologist who’s died more than once and come back from being a glowing ball of energy?
It’s not exactly something he can walk into a store and ask.
Daniel’s known people like Mitchell since he joined the stargate program, who think their jobs are cool, who like the excitement and the danger, and have too firm a grasp on the “cool weapons” part of discovery, and not a firm enough grasp on the “exploration of human history” part. He figures he’ll get Mitchell a book that might make the importance of the latter a little clearer and call it done. Books make good presents, and he does occasionally turn up in Daniel’s office asking for this or that, so it’s not completely without precedent.
Which would be fine, if it was actually possible to buy a book about human history that bore a little more resemblance to the version of it that he knows.
It’s not like he doesn’t understand that this is confidential, but still – half the people writing these days are wrong in some minor – or not so minor – way, and most of the other half are too dry and boring for even Daniel, who’s read the writings of a bunch of ancient and Ancient writers, some of whom could not have been known in their own time for their skill at wielding their prose.
He gives it an hour, wandering the closest branch of Borders, then decides he’s got better things to do with his afternoon than write scathing letters in his head, and goes back to work.
“You are distracted, Colonel Mitchell,” Teal’c says, offering a hand to the colonel, who is lying on his back on the gym floor, trying to catch his breath. While Teal’c has often bested the colonel in sparring, it has been some time since he has tripped him with such a simple move.
“Yeah,” Colonel Mitchell agrees, taking Teal’c’s hand but pushing himself up. “Sorry about that.”
Teal’c inclines his head slightly, intending to convey do not concern yourself and you may speak of it if you wish. He is far from sure that he knows Colonel Mitchell well enough for confidences, but Colonel Carter is off-world again, and he does not imagine that Colonel Mitchell will confide in Daniel Jackson.
“It’s fine,” Colonel Mitchell says, with a slightly self-mocking grin. “It’s nothing important, anyway.”
“I see,” Teal’c says, not really seeing at all. “Perhaps if it is nothing, it would be best to put it out of your mind until we are finished. Unless you wish to postpone our session until you are less – distracted.”
“Nope.” Colonel Mitchell bounces slightly in place, though Teal’c does not believe he is as ready as he wishes to appear. “I’m good, let’s go.”
“As you wish,” Teal’c says mildly.
Five minutes later, Colonel Mitchell looks up at him from the floor again and says, “You know, maybe we would be better off doing this later. I kind of need my bones in one piece.”
“Of course,” Teal’c says. Truthfully, he is glad Colonel Mitchell has chosen to withdraw before he risks serious injury to himself. He is, Teal’c has learnt, sadly lacking in focus when he is distracted.
“Thanks,” Colonel Mitchell says, moving towards the door, his towel over his shoulders. He stops before he quite passes through the door, not turning round. Teal’c waits, wondering if Colonel Mitchell has decided to speak after all.
After a few moments, he turns, not quite looking at Teal’c. “Sam told you about her little secret santa thing, right?” he asks.
“She did,” Teal’c confirms. Teal’c has already purchased Colonel Carter’s gift, under advice from Dr Lam and a young woman whose name Teal’c has not yet learned, who works with Colonel Carter in her lab on occasion.
“Do you know who I got?” Colonel Mitchell asks.
“I do not,” Teal’c lies solemnly. “And I do not believe she would like for you to tell me.”
Colonel Mitchell slumps slightly. “Right. Sure.” He looks more dejected than an exchange of gifts seems to warrant, leading Teal’c to wonder if Colonel Carter’s idea is in fact likely to achieve her stated objective, or to cause more problems. Colonel Mitchell waves over his shoulder. “Sparring again tomorrow?”
“Of course,” Teal’c says, watching him leave.
“Say you were me,” Daniel’s voice says when Jack picks up the phone – his aide’s at lunch, leaving him to fend for himself, and he’d suspect Daniel times his calls on purpose (his aide is very strict about who gets through when he considers Jack to be busy) if he didn’t know that Daniel’s too easily distracted for that much forethought.
“Okay,” he says slowly. It’s better than the budget review he’s trying to read through. “Have you guys been falling into alternate universes again? Because I thought I told Mitchell quite clearly not to let you do that.”
“What?” Daniel asks. “Oh. No, this is hypothetical.”
“Hypothetical, sure,” Jack says, grinning to himself. Daniel’s too easy sometimes. “So, shoot.”
“Right. Say you were me, and you had to buy a Christmas present for someone you didn’t know very well. Where would you start looking?”
“Didn’t know very well like a girl’s parents, or didn’t know very well like –“ Jack can’t actually think of another example, unless Daniel’s decided to buy Landry a Christmas present.
“Like Mitchell,” Daniel interrupts, his voice tense and frustrated, and Jack remembers Carter saying something about a secret santa exchange in one of her emails. “Why couldn’t I have to buy a present for Sam, she’s easy? Or Teal’c even.”
“I wouldn’t let Carter hear you say she’s easy,” Jack warns him, trying not to laugh. It’s not nice to laugh at something that’s obviously stressing Daniel out, but at the same time, it’s kind of amusing that the man who ascended twice and who regularly gets involved in action against various races of super-beings is so wound up by the prospect of buying a gift for his new team leader. “Get him a book. Or a DVD – find something he put on the list for team movie night. Or something about planes. Nothing with plane crashes,” he adds quickly.
“Tried that,” Daniel says darkly. “Besides, no offence, but they’re all pretty…mundane.”
Jack blinks at the phone. “You don’t even really like him,” he points out.
“Hmm,” Daniel says. “I guess. It’s just – Sam says he’s feeling left out…” He trails off into silence that somehow manages to seem thoughtful even over the phone, and Jack lets him be silent. He really hopes this isn’t going where it sounds like it’s going.
“Whoa, hey,” Cam says, grabbing Sam’s arm and pulling her to a sudden halt. “Where are you going?”
“Sorry.” Sam juggles her armful of papers, laptop, extra hard-drive and cell phone. “I have to go down to Area 51 for a couple of days, the Daedalus is going to transport me there.”
“Everything okay?” Cam asks, going from faintly amused to worried in a second and a half. “It’s half past ten at night.”
Sam smiles at him reassuringly. “Everything’s fine. It’s just a couple of days.”
“Only it’s a week before Christmas,” Cam adds. “You gonna be back in time?”
“Of course. Wouldn’t miss it,” Sam assures him, which is completely true. They spent every Christmas they could with Cam’s parents when they first met, but they haven’t done it in years and she’s missed it. “I’ll be back in plenty of time, don’t worry, but I have to go.”
“Okay, well… Try not to blow up the planet.”
Sam grins at him. “I’ll do my best.” She’s almost out the door when she remembers. “Cam? You and Daniel do the secret santa thing without me; Teal’c and I’ll do our’s when I get back.”
Cam’s most of the way to Jackson’s office, distracted by the extra time for paperwork that he’s just acquired, since Sam’s absence will undoubtedly mean their mission being cancelled, before her words really register properly. It’s not like he didn’t know he was being set up from the start, in some way, but now he’s sure. The problem is, he doesn’t know what he’s been set up for, and he’s not at all sure he wants to go find out.
Except that Jackson’s gift’s been burning a hole in his pocket for the last couple of days, and this isn’t the kind of challenge he can back down from. Plus, he knows Sam wouldn’t hurt him, and he’s been more humiliated than he will be by anything she might accidentally come up with.
Still, he’s not exactly surprised to find Jackson alone in his office, head down over a large, solemn-looking book. “Hey, Jackson.”
Jackson looks up and blinks. “Oh. Hey. Sorry, I was expecting Sam.”
“Unexpected trip to Area 51,” Cam offers, leaning in the doorway. He’s kind of unsure about going in without an actual invitation. “You seen Teal’c?”
“No, actually. Not since lunch.” Jackson rubs his glasses on the hem of his t-shirt, and Cam looks away as casually as he can. There’s no way that was where Sam was heading when she started this.
“Okay, well, I guess our mission just got postponed till after the break, so I’m gonna…” He gestures vaguely down the corridor. “Don’t stay too late.”
“Okay,” Cam says again. He shoves his hands into his pockets and knocks against the box. “Actually – I guess Sam told you about her santa thing,” he says, before he can change his mind.
“Yes, she did.” Jackson looks up at him. “That’s today?”
“Tomorrow, actually, but I wanted – I got you, so, you might as well have this now.” Cam had figured the box was good enough to stand in for actual wrapping, so he’s just got a small, plain blue box to hand over. “Merry Christmas.”
“Thank you.” Jackson lets him put the box down on the desk rather than taking it. “Should I open it now?”
“If you like,” Cam says easily. It’s just a token, he tells himself. It’s not important, except he knows that’s a lie, because he spent two weeks trying to come up with something good, then went and made an idiot of himself in front of Dr Lee to get his hands on this. “Or keep it till Christmas, if you’d rather.”
“No, now’s fine,” Jackson says, but he draws the box closer slowly, like he’s not sure if whatever’s inside is safe. Cam realizes it looks kind of like a jewelry box, and wonders why that never occurred to him earlier. He fights the urge to say that it’s nothing.
Jackson’s one of those annoying people who peel of the wrapping paper with as few tears as possible – must be all that archeology training – and it’s always driven Cam nuts. Apparently it’s even worse when there’s no paper, just a lid to lift.
“Oh,” Jackson says, unfolding the piece of paper inside and smoothing it on the desk. “Wow, that’s –“
“I know it’s not the same as being there,” Cam says quickly, because he can’t tell from Jackson’s tone if this is a good or a bad ‘wow’. “But I thought –“
“No.” Jackson looks up and actually gives him a quick smile. “No, it’s a great present. Thank you.” He traces his fingers over the map of another night sky, settling on the star labeled ‘Atlantis’. “Honestly, thank you,” he says again, but there’s a wistful note in his voice that wasn’t there before.
Cam knows he ought to say, ‘you’ll make it out there,’ but the words stick in his throat. It’s not that he doesn’t believe them – it’s actually the opposite, that he does believe them, but he doesn’t want them to be true. It’s only been six months, but already he can’t really imagine life without SG-1, without Jackson, who doesn’t even really seem to like him much. “It’ll still be there,” he offers, the best he can do.
“Of course,” Jackson says. “So, I was supposed to get you something, but I got… Stuck. I got stuck, so.”
“No problem,” Cam says. This part is easier, because he really doesn’t care one way or the other. He’s still not entirely convinced this was a real thing – he thinks maybe it’s Sam’s attempt at getting him and Jackson to be friends, which is a nice gesture, but pretty much doomed to failure.
“No. You gave me a gift, you should have something in return.” He looks fairly serious about that, and Cam thinks briefly that if this was a movie, he’d say something cheesy about only needing the team back together. But it’s not a movie, and he’s not that guy.
“Buy me a beer, we’ll call it even,” he offers.
Jackson looks down at his book. “I should – I was going to read some more, maybe sleep here tonight.”
“Jackson,” Cam says, pulling up his team leader voice from somewhere. “It’s eleven o’clock at night, there’s less than a week to go till Christmas, and we’re not going anywhere this week since half of SG-1’s just disappeared.” Jackson still looks like he’s going to refuse. “Besides, you owe me a present,” Cam adds, and Jackson caves, because no-one teaches guilt trips like Cam’s mom.
Watching Mitchell lean on the bar and smile charmingly at the barman, Daniel’s not at all sure what he’s doing in a bar at five to one in the morning, especially with Mitchell.
Well, that’s not strictly true. He’s there because he never bought Mitchell a present, and because Mitchell’s gift, while weird, was actually quite thoughtful. And because, which is easier to think after a couple of drinks, because Mitchell has a charming smile, and a tendency to lean on things, and he was a lot more thoughtful with his gift than most men buying presents for their co-workers. And because he spent twenty minutes trying to explain something about college football rivalries to Daniel earlier, grinning and exasperated, and asked intelligent questions when Daniel talked about the Ancients.
And because Daniel’s short-sighted, not *blind*, and Mitchell in jeans is something worth looking at. Especially when Mitchell looks back, like he is now.
Because he’s back at their table, leaning one hip against the back of his chair and looking down at Daniel. “You with me there, Jackson?” he asks.
“Sorry. Just – thinking.”
“About anything good? Listen, Matt wants to lock up for the night, so we’re gonna have to find someplace else.” Mitchell frowns, there then gone. “Or I can drop you back at your apartment.”
Daniel doesn’t do this a lot, go home with people, which he never thinks of as a problem until he wants to and can’t remember how to go about suggesting it smoothly. On the other hand, Mitchell gave him a star map of Pegasus, and he’s been looking at Daniel for the last couple of hours. “I haven’t been home in a few days,” he says with a shrug. “We could go back to yours.”
Mitchell stares at him for a drawn out moment, just long enough for Daniel to start thinking he got it wrong, then shrugs. “Sure.”
He didn’t mean it like that, Cam tells himself, keeping his eyes firmly on the road and not on Jackson, silent next to him in the car. He didn’t mean it like that, it just sounded that way because that was how Cam wanted it to sound.
Except that Jackson stands much closer than necessary in the elevator, and neither of them said anything on the drive back, the air charged with something that wasn’t *un*comfortable, but wasn’t really comfortable either.
“You want a beer?” Cam offers, turning on lights and heading into his kitchen. “Or, I could make coffee,” he adds, closing the door to the fridge and turning round.
To find Jackson right behind him, watching him, and when Cam turns, Jackson kind of leans in, like he wants to make a point of the slight size difference between the two of them, and backs Cam up against the counter. “Um –“ Cam says intelligently, then Jackson leans in and kisses him, one arm coming up round Cam’s shoulders, Jackson’s big hand against the back of his head, holding him in place.
“This my santa gift?” he asks when Jackson pulls back fractionally.
For a second, he thinks he’s banished whatever’s gotten into Jackson tonight. “That was the beer,” Jackson says absently. He runs his fingers over the back of Cam’s neck, making him shiver.
“Okay,” Cam says. He’s not really going to argue when there’s a hot guy in his kitchen wanting to kiss him. “You want to go sit down?”
Jackson nods. “Which one’s your bedroom?”
Jackson, as it turns out, likes to be in charge, which doesn’t really come as a huge surprise. “Take your clothes off,” he says, already leaning on Cam’s dresser to untie his shoes, and Jackson’s efficiency shouldn’t be hot, but it definitely is.
Jackson pushes the covers back, then pushes Cam down onto the bed, draping himself all over Cam’s body and kissing him, slow and wet. Cam gets his hands on Jackson’s back, feeling the muscles shift as he moves, and all that skin against his makes something in his stomach ache, months of nobody’s hands but his own, not since before he joined SG-1.
As well as liking to be in charge, Jackson knows what he’s doing, scraping his teeth over Cam’s pulse and licking at his nipples, and cupping one warm hand round his hip, and Cam learns fast that it’s easiest to just go with it, that Jackson apparently has a plan, one that works, if the growing hardness against his thigh is anything to go by.
He thinks Jackson’s going to want to fuck him, is actually gearing up to say no, because he knows it’s weird but he doesn’t do that the first time with a new guy, when Jackson lifts his head from where he’s sucking at Cam’s collarbone to kiss him again. Cam kisses back eagerly, because it’s all good, but this is better, this lets him touch Jackson, the curve of his spine, the muscles in his arms, the top of the slope of his ass, and Jackson gets a hand on Cam’s cock and starts stroking, fast and firm and relentless, kissing him and kissing him, and it’s been way too long since Cam did this, because he’s coming already, after barely enough time to have enjoyed it.
“That was a good present,” he says, half-joking, when he’s caught his breath. Jackson’s hand’s still curled round his soft cock, sticky with Cam’s come.
“Wasn’t really a present,” Jackson says against his mouth, his hips twitching slightly, pushing his erection against Cam’s thigh again.
“Right,” Cam says. “Still, I should say thank you.”
Jackson’s still draped all over him, but he rolls onto his back when Cam nudges him slightly, his hands falling away to lie empty on the bed, his eyes closing so Cam can just look at him for a minute. He’s seen Jackson half-naked before, completely naked, once, in the showers at the mountain before he looked away, but he’s never been able to just look before, at the ends of Jackson’s tan, the lines of muscle under his skin and the way his cock curves slightly to the left, long and thick against his belly.
“Come on,” Jackson grumbles, and Cam doesn’t need telling twice, bending to take Jackson’s cock in his mouth, the familiar weight feeling good against his tongue.
It doesn’t have the desperation that Cam mostly associates with blow-jobs, or the burn of adrenaline in the back of his throat, but it doesn’t take long for Jackson’s breath to get short, for his hips to start shifting up. Cam’s not too sure about his ability to deep-throat when he’s this out of practice, and choking’s really not attractive in this situation, so he pulls back slightly, stroking the base of Jackson’s cock with his hand and using his tongue on the head, and Jackson groans, thrusts up twice, and comes in a hot rush against Cam’s tongue.
Cam’s drifting, halfway between awake and asleep, time slowed down and drawn out, when Jackson rolls on top of him, already hard. He wakes up fast then, Jackson’s cock sliding against his as they move together in the dark, and his orgasm washes over him in a drawn-out wave of pure pleasure, taking Jackson with him.
They don’t really talk about it – they wake up late, so it’s a rush to get to the mountain, and there are some things you just can’t talk about in a military base, even a top secret one, but it’s okay. Cam can’t see it becoming a regular thing – too many risks, too many potential problems – but he knows it’s going to happen again, and things feel easier between them, like they needed the sex to break the tension, even though they end up mostly substituting one-on-one basketball for sex.
“You and Daniel are getting on better now,” Sam offers, when the Prior plague’s over and they’ve got five minutes to relax, which means Sam sitting at his kitchen table doing her paperwork while he sits on his couch doing his paperwork.
“We’re good,” he says, turning to look at her, letting the truth show on his face, knowing that Sam will be able to read it. “The santa thing was a good idea, thanks.”
Sam just looks at him for a moment, then her eyes go wide. “Holy Hannah!” she says. “You weren’t supposed to –“
Cam shrugs, looking back at his papers so she won’t see the dumb grin he can feel on his face. “Sometimes things don’t turn out like you planned,” he says.