Summary: a roadtrip, and Christmas, after the apocalypse. The story Cameron is telling is the birth of Jesus as told by the Book of Luke.
Note: is a sequel to Train A Comin'
They stop somewhere in Illinois because Sam needs the restroom. It seems like they stop every fifteen minutes now, but Cam doesn't say that.
"I'll go with you," he says.
"No. You won't." She makes a face, but whether at him or at an uncooperative body, Cam doesn't know. She pulls on leather gloves. "I'll be right back."
She weaves betweens cars in the parking lot, out of his view. School is out, and asphalt is a sea of out of state plates, between here and the gas station.
He turns up the radio, playing Frank Sinatra, but it doesn't drown out the sound of his fingers tapping on the steering wheel until she gets back.
Cam still drives his Mustang. When the SGC became just another foothold, another rallying point in the campaign to bring Origin to the rest of the galaxy, he couldn't hit the gas fast enough getting out of Colorado. That car is one of the first things he ever bought. It's one of the only things that he still has left.
It seems like it shouldn't matter, but it does.
She comes back to the car holding food. Two orders of fries and three Big Macs.
"That's great, darling," Cam says, "but what am I going to eat?"
She's making faces at him, accompanied by maybe just a small smile. She hands him a sandwich. "You want me to drive?"
Cam hesitates, looking for the right answer. "Maybe you should finish eating, first."
Sam doesn't answer for a full mouth of hamburger, but waves her agreement. They've got hundreds of miles to go, still.
She sketches plans for weapons on the back of napkins with a ballpoint pen, and keeps them all carefully in the glovebox. Cam has stopped asking her to explain each one. He doesn't understand half the words that she uses.
The first time he ever saw her, she was in BDUS in the sun at area 51, trying to explain the more alien mechanisms of the F-302 to a pilot who wasn't getting it. She was losing her patience, and barely covering it. She leaned forward, body stiff as she pointed to the diagrams in her hands.
Cam pulled on his hat as he entered the airfield. Then caught her eye, and grinned. The small smile that crossed her face in return was worth everything that has come after, and he remembers it still.
He doesn't think that Sam remembers that day at all.
When Sam found out that she was pregnant, Cam was pretty sure that he was going to die. He was pretty sure that she was going to kill him, with the plastic knife she clutched in their crappy motel room.
Sam didn't move towards him, though, and he hands were shaking worse than anything. When she looked at him her eyes were dull, and Cam reckoned she was seeing the same movie that he was. A son or daughter who knew nothing except the Ori, fear and lies. The Book of fucking Origin.
"Yeah," he whispered quietly, when she was in his arms again, silent and still. "It's pretty shitty."
They drive because they've got nowhere to go.
Vala was the first to take off. Cam always knew Jackson would be next, somehow. He'd read the files, knew Jackson didn't have any great history of sticking around. But it wasn't that, so much. He knew Daniel would follow her.
Vala drifted around the country the way she'd drifted around the galaxy once. Being bound by gravity did nothing to anchor her to one place. She showed up in the Connecticut safehouse, one day, in their living room, drinking tea and watching All My Children. "Hey, Mitchell." She smiled, beneath a fringe of hair streaked purple since the last time that he'd seen her. "How have you been?"
The thing about Vala was that Cam had never really trusted her. Or there had been a minute or two when he had, but he didn't remember it any more. Vala's gaze left him, and Cam heard footsteps behind him. Vala's voice was low.
They were both gone two days later. Daniel made his goodbyes. Vala didn't, except with one firm hug to Teal'c, whose gentle nod was as expressive as anything Cam could have said.
"She needs me," Daniel told him, over one last beer, at the bar down the street from the rented house, where they sometimes drank to a future that none of them could see.
They needed him too. Cam wouldn't say that. Jackson could only fight one war at a time.
And maybe all his battles were losing ones. Maybe Vala couldn't be brought back again. He wouldn't say that either.
Cam knew about having more than one fight.
The emails are sporadic. Elegantly worded, in a way that only Daniel could manage. At the end, always the same message. "Vala says hi."
Teal'c they lose to the cause, to a group of freedom fighters who find them one day. After Connecticut, outside Portland. in They're a legend somehow, Jackson and Teal'c and Sam, and himself by extension. But Cam's still an imposter, the new guy.
Cam has opinions on their guerilla war that he doesn't mention. It's not exactly Teal'c's first freedom rodeo, and Cam has no business telling him how to begin.
"We cannot give up, Colonel Mitchell," Teal'c says quietly as he goes. It shouldn't need saying out loud.
It was shortly after that that the damn stick turned blue, and Cam holds Sam when she will let him. He's no substitute, though, for her friends.
They pass a church when they exit the interstate, looking for a place to stay the night. Sam is dozing gently by them, but she wakes up when he slows down to stare like a tourist at the cross.
"We can go in." Sam's voice is gentle and far away.
The parking lot is empty, pitch black save for one street light. The office window slides open with a scraping sound of rust, and Cam tumbles through onto a desk covered in dust, papers stacked in plastic trays. Someone thought they were coming back, Cam thinks, and picks up the file that's tumbled to the floor, replacing it carefully.
Sam comes through behind him, refusing his outstretched hand.
He sits in the back pew and bows his head. She sits beside him, and rests her head on his shoulder.
She waits for him to finish. She doesn't understand, he knows that. God to her is physics and math, vectors and prime numbers.
He closes his eyes, and she probably thinks that he is praying. Sometimes he is. Tonight, though, he is remembering endless Sundays in hard pews like this one, his short legs kicking at the bench in front of him until Kristin Colby turned around and stared at him.
That girl had a glare on her that could freeze the sun. Even back then, he was perverse enough to want to raise it. After church he played football in the street with the other kids on base, getting his ass kicked at center, rolling in the dirt in his Sunday suit no matter how his ma told him not to.
It's things like that which are gone now.
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
Sam shifts beside him. "Hmmm?"
"Just a story we used to tell," he says to her.
"I want to hear it."
His hand snakes around her and rests on the bump of her belly. "No, you don't. You hate my stories, darling."
She elbows him ungently, and he clutches her tighter. "Tell it anyway."
"And all went to be taxed, everyone to his own city," he whispers to her. "And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city called Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem."
He's surprised to find that he hasn't forgotten a word.
Snow is falling by the time that they find a place to crash, and the sleepy motel clerk barely seems to see them. She catches him staring, though, at a lone string of gold tinsel along the desk. She stares back, almost daring him to say something.
"You have a good night," is all Cameron tells her as he takes the key.
The bedsprings creak as Sam gets under the covers. He watches her for a moment, and the gentle relaxing of her body is reassuring to him. In the dark beside her it's just heartbeats and the wind across the roof, and snow falling on the windowsill.
"Next Christmas," Cameron tells her, and her sleepy syllables aren't quite a response. "We'll have a tree, you hear?"
They haven't talked about what they'll do when they get to Washington. Maybe General O'Neill will be glad to see them, and maybe he won't. It's hard to tell who your friends are, these days.
They haven't talked about what they'll do when the baby comes. But Sam nods, mumbles okay as if she believes him, and it's not quite visions of sugar plums but it will do.
Tomorrow, he'll let her drive.