A/N: a Continuum AU. Beta thanks to sparky77
He'd made a list in his head of the things he thought he'd miss the most. Flying. The thrill of going through the stargate, the jolt up his damaged spine that he got every time, including the last. Even his uniform, down to the laces on his standard-issue boots. His Mustang. His mom's pecan pie.
She is somewhere else, now. Cam didn't list that one. He didn't even want to think about it.
It turned out, though, that the thing he missed the most was something that he'd never even claimed. The thing he missed the most surprised him.
He gets a job working at a garage, poking around broken engines, and he lasts five months there before the crushing boredom of identical days is more than he can stand.
Anyway, he doesn't need the money. So he goes home, works on the skeleton of a classic car in his driveway, watches the soccer moms drive in and out, and smiles at them as they go. He thinks about what color he'll paint the car when he's done. Whether to add racing stripes. He thinks about picking Jackson up, and taking him for a ride.
They talked about taking a road trip together. They talked about doing a lot of things, but none of them ever happened. There was always work, and trips through the stargate, and the end of the damn world just around the corner.
Cam wanted to take Jackson to Kansas. They weren't boyfriend and boyfriend, not like that, not yet, but still he wanted to show Jackson the place he'd spent his high-school years. And introduce him to his parents. His mom and dad would have liked Jackson. Jackson would probably have liked them back, though Cam wasn't sure about that.
Luck has held Cam up more than a few times in his life. He knows that. He even counts on it, some times when he knows that he probably shouldn't.
He drives to New York in the middle of July. It's hot and sticky, and he's there for seven days before luck strikes one last time.
"You shouldn't be here."
Leave it to Jackson to begin a conversation by stating the obvious. Cam smiles, and puts the novel he's been staring at for the last hour back on the dusty bookstore shelf.
He realizes that he's not prepared for this at all.
"Nice to see you too, Daniel."
"No. It's not that." Jackson recovers quickly, even managing a smile, the kind Cam had missed, brief but sincere. "I just don't want to go back to Washington to explain this to them. Do you?"
"Not going to happen."
"And you know this because..."
"Because I was in the military, Jackson. They taught us all kinds of cool things. Like sneaking around."
"Oh." Jackson nods wisely. "That's what we're doing?"
It is, now.
Jackson writes his address on the back of a bookstore reciept, and places it in Cam's pocket before he leaves. Cam waits an hour before he follows him, walking in circles and looking at the covers of romance novels. It's the longest hour of his life.
"You coming in?"
Cam hesitates, just on the threshold of Jackson's apartment. He may have sounded brave in the bookstore, but Jackson's right. He can't drive up every weekend. They aren't going to get another chance at this, not for a long time. He can either bet all his chips, or he can turn around and go home. Jackson's face, half-lit by the hallway lights, is older than Cam remembers it. It's been a long year for both of them. "Yeah," he says finally. "I'm coming in."
Jackson's apartment doesn't look anything like Jackson's apartment, the one he had in their own reality. That one looked and smelled like Jackson, was filled with books and odds and ends he'd picked up on his travels. It had been neat, too, cleaned by a maid twice a week and barely lived in by Jackson. This place was messy, but empty somehow, missing any objects picked up over a long life lived. Like an apartment out of a catalogue.
It's a nice apartment. He just can't picture Jackson living here.
Jackson moves around easily, though, even on his one leg, as he shuffles into the kitchen and puts on a fresh pot of coffee.
"Just sugar, right?" Jackson asks him.
Their early dates were all like this, Jackson spinning around him in circles of nervous energy, and Cam with no idea what to say to calm him down.
"Seriously." Curiosity gets the better of Jackson, the way that it always does. He puts a mug of coffee in front of Cam, and Cam nods his thanks. Jackson sits down on the far end of the couch. No touching. "How did you find me?"
"My government contact might have mentioned New York," Cam admits.
Cam shrugs. "I guess it just slipped out."
"She probably didn't realize you were prepared to stake out every bookstore in the city."
"Not every one." Cam isn't sure why Jackson's got him on the defensive. "Just the second-hand ones."
Jackson makes a face. "Of course. What was I thinking?"
"Second-hand bookstores at street level," Cam adds.
"Ah." Jackson taps his cane gently against the floor. "Good call."
There's deep silence, in which neither of them seems to know what to say.
"Do you know where Sam is?"
Cam nods. That hadn't required months of flirting with his shy, cautious government-assigned contact. He'd simply staked out the gossip blogs. The photos were all similar, blurry, pixelated shots taken in public places, supermarkets and restaurants. Some were clearly fakes, but the others all came from one area. Seattle, Washington.
"You didn't go see her?" Jackson asks him.
Cam shakes his head. Like a man on a payphone, down to his last fifty cents, he'd only been able to drive in one direction. It had been a hell of a choice, but it hadn't been much of a contest.
"Cam, can I ask you something?" They've been talking quietly about their missing year, and describing lives that neither can properly imagine.
"Sure." Cam nods without thinking. Jackson had never been afraid to ask him anything. Between the two of them, Cam is the one that carries his fears in his pockets. Jackson's nose wrinkles before he speaks.
"What are you doing here?"
Cam sighs. Drops his mug onto the coffee table, and reaches forward.
Jackson kisses the way that Cam remembers, as if he means it. His tongue is heavy in Cam's mouth, and Cam knows that this isn't likely to be the explanation that Jackson was looking for.
They're not really built for this anymore, with their bent and damaged bodies. Two days in a car has done nothing good for healed-over breaks and his damaged left leg. With every extra motion, the pain shoots straight through to the floor. Cam ignores it, reaching for Jackson to kiss him again, and pressing him gently back against the cushions.
"If you're going to be scared of hurting me," Jackson says finally, "we're not going to get very far."
Cam doesn't tell him that that's not nearly the only thing that he's scared of.
They've never done this before. Not in half a dozen dates. Cam wanted this, he thought about it at night, in his bed alone. He thought about it at more inconvenient times, too, in Jackson's office, surrounded by Jackson's books and Cam's team, watching Jackson explain something with a string of complicated words and hand gestures. Cam's eyes would travel Jackson's body, and rest on his mouth. He would think of it then.
The spark in Jackson's eyes even as he said something to Carter told Cam that he'd been caught. And that Jackson was thinking about it too.
The line between thought and action has always been blurry for Cam. His dad used to tell him that all the time, hidden in metaphors about looking and leaping.
In the last eleven and a half months, though, there has been nothing for him but thought. Jackson is warm and ready underneath Cam's touch, and Cam knows that he might never get this chance again.
The fact is that their six-foot frames, gimpy legs and all, don't fit too well on Jackson's narrow couch, so they move into his bedroom. The bedroom is as unfamiliar as the rest of his house, everything in inoffensive cream shades. The bed is unmade.
"I didn't know I was having company," Jackson murmurs, half-apologetically.
"I'll RSVP next time," Cam whispers. He holds onto Jackson's hand tightly, supporting Jackson's weight as he lowers himself onto the bed. Jackson smiles, and waits for Cam to follow him down.
"I'm sure you will," Jackson shoots back, and lets Cam sneak one hand around his waist, resting it in the small of his back. Cam leans forward, and kisses him again, tastes the coffee in his mouth while Jackson's breath hitches and his hand tightens into a fist against Cam's thigh.
He is perfectly still while Cam undresses him. Almost patient. Between each button on his shirt, more kisses, and if Cam was feeling pain a moment ago, it's disappearing now.
He'd thought, for sure, that he was never going to have this. He'd imagined it every which way. Fast, slow, gentle, hard, and now a hundred fantasies are crowding out his thoughts. He tosses Jackson's shirt to the ground, and pushes him down on the bed, roughly.
Jackson doesn't seem to mind. "Steady," he whispers, but he's breathing hard. Pressed against him, Cam can feel his whole body, the rise and fall of his chest, the muscle mass he earned each day on SG-1. A definite erection, pressed against Cam's thigh.
So maybe he's not the only one for whom it's been a long time. Maybe it's like riding a bicycle. Or maybe it's like falling through a hole in the floor.
He strips Jackson's shirt, then himself. Cam has scars up and down his torso, jagged ones from the crash and neat ones, from the surgeries, five surgeries in total. Jackson runs his fingers along them, and Cam presses his lips together at the ticklish sensation. He's hard, now, his entire body grown warm and impatient.
"Okay?" Jackson asks him.
"Okay," Cam nods. He cups Jackson's cock inside his pants, teases with his palm, watches as Jackson closes his eyes for a moment, and moans. He uses the interval to unzip Jackson's khakis and pull them down, tossing them onto the floor on top of his shirt. Jackson has scars too, below his knee, where the leg ends. Cam rests one hand briefly on the thigh. It seems like one more thing that he should have been able to stop, somehow.
"Commando," he whispers appreciatively. "You sure you weren't expecting company?"
"Shut up and fuck me, Mitchell," Jackson tells him, but his blue eyes are laughing.
Mitchell's hand finds Jackson's cock again, rubs lengthwise along the shaft, and listens to the sounds that Jackson makes against his ear. "Yes, sir."
In the end, when he's got Daniel up against him, bare, sweat-slicked skin resting against Cam's chest, when he's got Daniel gripped firmly in his arms, calling out for more, more, more of Cam's cock that's buried inside him, all of the waiting is a blur.
Daniel calls his name, and Cam responds by holding tighter and thrusting again. He's too breathless to speak, but it's an answer in its way, the only answer that he's got. I'm here.
When Cam pulls out, he helps Jackson roll onto his back, and reaches for him. Jackson flinches, slightly. Cam knows what that's like, to be on the verge of shattering and to not want any witnesses. "It's okay," he whispers gently, kissing the hollow of Jackson's neck. Whispering mindless promises, until Jackson relaxes. "It's okay, Sunshine. I got you. just breathe." Jackson is rock-hard, and he whimpers, thrusting into Cam's touch. Cam strokes with his left hand, fingering the sensitive skin of his balls, pulling and jerking his palm roughly against Jackson's cock until Jackson grunts and exhales and comes, shaking, spilling wet onto Mitchell's fingers.
"Hey," Jackson whispers afterwards. They're both damp and dirty, but not enough to make it worth the effort of moving. Cam's head is resting on his chest, where he can hear his heartbeat. "Worth the wait?"
Cam can hear the honest hesitation in that question, but he pretends not to. Jackson's hand strokes the back of his neck, and tangles in Cam's hair. He bites back a half-dozen jokes and says, "Yeah. It definitely was."
He doesn't say any of the other things that he's thinking. I need you. I miss you. This isn't fair.
Life isn't fair. That's something they both got the memo for, a long time ago.
Cam leaves in the morning, before first light. He scribbles a meaningless sentence on a green sticky note, and places it on Jackson's coffee pot. Jackson is still sleeping.
He just didn't want to say goodbye a second time.
They've got a lot of their lives left to live, in this world that's still startlingly unfamiliar. Maybe something will change. Something good.
Cam fills up his gas tank outside the city. He's got unfinished business to take care of. Jackson was the first stop, but Cam's got more old memories circling the inside of his head, and half-remembered photographs that he can't shake. The sky looks like rain. Cam programs his GPS for Kansas.