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23 February 2011 @ 11:46 pm
Illusion (Stargateland Big Bang) Part One  
Title: Illusions
Author: camshaft22 and falconsheart
Characters: Cam Mitchell/ John Sheppard, Evan Lorne, Teal'c
Fandom: Stargate SG-1
Warnings: Males having sex, portrayal of insanity, unbeta'd. All mistakes are mine.
Legal: Not mine, belongs to MGM and other companies. Wish they were mine. Atlantis would still be on.

Cam Mitchell grinned at John Sheppard as they walked out in the clearing on the other side of the wormhole. “Aren’t you glad I needed you for this very important mission? I mean that’s got to be better than the latest IOA meeting, right?” he asked, teasing him as SG 3 fanned out behind them.

John Sheppard did his best to not shoot the leader of Sg1 a glare. With Atlantis landing on Earth the expedition had come to an end and the IOA had begun to reassign expedition members. “Lets find that Ancient device you located and see what it really does.”  He replied, his eyes scanning their surroundings. The planet definitely looked like one of those worlds the Ancients had seeded, plant-life, geo-formation and climate resembling Earth.

“Hey. I’m on your side here. Besides, they promised it would only be temporary. I’ll see what I can do to help, alright?” Cam told him, knowing what he was glaring about. “Good idea. This way,” he said, sorta wishing Teal’c, Daniel and Vala were back from that conference. But they’d been here before, it was a totally safe world. Cam took off, leading them forward as they went to the ruins. They stopped at a dark stone obelisk and Cam glanced over to John. “Can you feel anything?”

Temporary probably meant that the IOA had the patience to wait until they could use the end of their twenty years to retire some of them, John was keenly aware that his own date for that was not far away any more. He shrugged it off, part of him knew that he’d never return to Pegasus, it was the price they ultimately payed for the close contact the expedition had enjoyed with Earth. His eyes turned to the Obelisk, a black spire of polished stone, impeccable and softly shimmering under the sunlight. He could sense it, hear a soft whisper emerging from the dark stone. “Definitely Ancient,” he replied to Mitchell’s question. “it is... whispering.” He stepped closer, his hands tracing over the black surface.

“What is it?” Cam asked, stepping closer to him. “Can you tell?” he questioned, glancing at him.

John did not look up, much as he could feel the glance of the other Colonel on himself. “It is kind of a gateway... or keystone. Yes, that’s the word that’s ingrained on it, keystone.” He said, feeling a surge rise from the inside of the stone, a bright light enveloped them, drawing them into the stone and away.

***


Cam gasped awake, his hair sticking up, feeling a tightness around his chest. “I... What the hell?” he asked, looking around the dark room and then down, his eyes widening in shock. “A straitjacket?” Cam said, horrified, trying to get loose. “Oh shit. Shit!” he said, rolling and trying to get himself upright. What the hell was this crap?!

The Doctor had been informed the moment the patient woke, she and two nurses hurried to his room. The nurses mainly helped the man to sit up, making sure he did not overly struggle while he was giving the next dose of the medication. Dr. Sycorah squatted down opposite of the man in the straight jacket. “I am so sorry, Colonel,” she said with a gentle smile. “I know that now, that you begin to calm down, all this must be horrifying to you.”

“Where am I?” Cam asked, glancing back and forth at the nurses as they sat him up, then gave him an injection of some sort in a futuristic device. “What did you just give me? What in the hell is going on?” he asked, his blue eyes piercing the Doctor.

“You are in Tamarrigan Medical Center, you were brought here by the security forces after you suffered a severe nervous breakdown.” Dr. Sycorah usually did not tell her patients so directly, but with military people the direct approach was often the best. “The medication we are giving you, are to help you calm down and keep the delusions you were suffering from at bay.”

“I don’t even know where that is... and what delusions? I don’t even know how I got here, wherever here is. Where’s John? We were doing... something...”

“Calm,” Dr. Sycorah could see that he was still very agitated. “John is fine, you attacked him shortly during the ceremony, but none of the injuries was severe. He is very worried about you, especially as I think he feels a bit responsible...” She stopped, gesturing the nurses they could wait outside now. “You were having delusions, believing yourself to be someone else... I guess your mind took refuge in some of your favourite novels, when the strain became too great.”

“I don’t understand... I don’t remember any of this... What happened? What did I do? Why am I trussed up like this?”

“The memory will return, the medication will help you to unblock the pathways to your long-term memory.” Dr. Sycorah replied. “you were at the leaving ceremony for your friend John Sheppard. He was awarded the Star of Valor in thanks of his lifelong service. You had worked very hard those last years, and your aide-de-camp said that you hadn’t slept properly in weeks. When the ceremony was nearly over you had a breakdown, believing yourself to be trapped here, to be some character from the Gate-Novels. You attacked John Sheppard.”

“I attacked...  I’m sorry... I wouldn’t do that. Not on purpose... and Gate-Novels? What novels? Look... I know I got off the reservation somehow... but is there a way for me to please get out of this jacket? I’m having trouble focusing... and understanding.”

Dr. Sycorah studied her patient, he was much calmer, less agitated and not screaming murder any more. Willing to understand that he had suffered mental impairment due to overwork. She waved in the nurses. “Have the corridor under lockdown,” she told one of them. It would block this unit with shields, so even if he escaped the cell, he’d not get far. She then had the other nurse help releasing him from the straight-jacket. “The Gate-Novels,” she said, while this was happening. “by Shaun Mahanay. You enjoyed reading them, that was confirmed by your friends. They are set on a fictional other planet, Earth. In a less advanced time too... a kind of galactic fantasy, about discovery, adventure and friendship.”

Cam calmly let them take it off, stretching his sore limbs as they released him slowly. “So I went insane because of overwork? What do I do? Because seriously, I should probably look at a new profession,” he said, looking at the doctor, knowing they were watching. “It... Those are novels? Earth isn’t real?”

It was the moment in between remembering reality and recognising illussion, Dr. Sycorah was familiar with that state, it gave her hope. “Earth is not real,” she repeated gently. “it is a very popular story, not more. You are Colonel Cameron Mitchell, of Arion Space Defence, the last ten years you were assigned to the Ydorian Guard, an Elite Force. You there served with John Sheppard for a good while.” Dr. Sycorah could not quite help pointing out that last part again. Sheppard was considered a hero by many.

Cam nodded. “I guess that’s a testament to the writer then... Seems real,” Cam confided. “So John Sheppard is pretty hot shit. He’s pretty great. I feel like I should be apologizing profusely...”

“He is rather worried about you,” Dr. Sycorah said, maybe it would be good for this patient’s mental well-being to let him know that others worried about his crazed state. “judging by the fact that he called me twice to hear how you were doing.” She looked at his eyes, knowing that the medication should be kicking in by now. “What do you remember?”

“It’s starting to come back a little...”  Cam said then scoffed. “Oh yeah, definitely coming back. Shit. What a jerkass I was... I had been working. A lot. Our troop is reorganizing and John was getting his second Star of Valor... and I wanted to get things done... so he didn’t end up doing it by himself...”

“You put yourself through too much,” Dr. Sycorah said gently. “you worked too much and you were still suffering the strain from the last battles. Your mind simply shut down.” She reached for his shoulder, squeezing it gently. “We will help you, I promise.”

“Maybe I should lay off the reading material from now on. Thank you, Doctor. I am mortified that I lost control...”

“You were trying to do too much,” Dr. Sycorah knew that self-recrimination often happened once a patient became aware of the psychosis he had suffered. “we’ll help you to heal.”

Cam nodded. “I’m in your hands, Doctor.”

***

The machine was analyzing the error that had been made, the system was trying to integrate the new input, but the results were inconclusive. The machine was going into a new reset cycle to address the error to correct the faulty mind of source Nr. 1 but the process was interrupted.

The woman standing beside the tanks, surrounded by the long crystal tubes flaring with energy shook her head. This was going nowhere. Seven resets withing only a few hours, this one was struggling hard. She could not allow it to happen, he was one of the greatest sources they had ever found. He and his friend...

Her eyes went to the second tank where the darkhaired man was sleeping. He had succumbed fairly quick, but his mind tended to access parts of the system where he was not supposed to be. His ability to adapt to the machine was surprising and disturbing, he should not have any experience with doing that. Tucking back a streak of hair that had fallen into her eyes, she called for several robots to move the tanks and to set up a large tank. Putting them together might be the solution, their minds reached for each other while they were inside the machine, so maybe putting them together physically would help.

***

John Sheppard stopped the speeder in front of the clinic and parked it in an empty spot. It had been seven weeks since his release from the military and Cameron’s collapse at the ceremony. Contrary to others John was not exasperated about the events but more worried about Cam. The Doctors had been very serious about the whole thing, and especially Doctor Sycorah had been very stern, making it very clear that John’s person created stress for Cam, that he was worrying much because of John and that the demands of serving with John had driven Cam into a loop of overwork. She had not allowed much in terms of visits, and always been at hand in case John caused a problem. It had told him how bad the collapse had been. In the situation of not being able to do much for Cam, John had turned to get a grip on his now civilian life. Cam had been honourable discharged for medical reasons, and now he was here to pick him up. He walked up to the spacious waiting area of the hospital, where Cam probably was waiting.

Cam held the pills, glancing up at the Doctor. “I’ll be sure to comm you if I start feeling like I’m slipping and don’t worry. I won’t cause the hero any problems,” he said, with a smirk.

Dr. Sycorah gently squeezed Cam’s hand. “I will be there whenever you need me,” she said warmly. “if there is anything you need help with, you can call me.” It was necessary that there was a safety net for Cam, now that he went back to the world. Dr. Sycorah was a bit uneasy about the ammount of interest John Sheppard had taken in the whole case. He was a bit overbearing. “And if the hero gives you problems, you let me know, will you?”

“Absolutely,” Cam promised, rising to his feet and kissing her cheek. “I gotta leave the nest sometime... and I’ll keep on my meds. No reason to put me back in one of those lovely jackets. They’re so last season anyway,” he teased her.

Dr. Sycorah laughed. Cam had a wonderful humor. She led him to the waiting area and was surprised to spot John Sheppard walking in. John saw Cam and walked up to him with a wide smile.

Cam put the pills in his pocket and grinned, wide at John. “Sheppard! Good to see you!” he called out, hurrying to him. He pulled him into a hug. “Get me out of here so I can take a decent frelling shower.”

John hugged him close, so glad Cam was better. He jokingly sniffed at Cam’s neck. “Long shower,” he teased him. He let go and led Cam outside to the speeder. “Hop in and we’ll be home in no time.”

“Frell you, Hero, frell you and the speeder you came in,” Cam said as they left. He whistled and got in, leaning back. “Nothing held back, huh?” he teased. “But in all seriousness... Thanks. Thanks for getting me. Sorry I attacked you. Called you a Goa’uld, and so on and so forth.”

“Hm... if you insist on having the shower together...” John grinned at Cam, the apology made him go serious again. “Cam... listen, it wasn’t your fault. I piled you with lots of work and you did extra stuff as well. I always leaned on you... and never saw I was putting too much on your shoulders.” Green eyes met icy blue ones. “I am sorry for that. I should have been there and seen that you needed help.”

“I shouldn’t have needed help, John. I know I’m a screw up, but I shouldn’t have needed help,” he said softly, looking into his green eyes. “I should’ve been stronger and not retreated into those books...”

The sadness in those blue eyes made John’s heart pound a bit. He had failed his friend there, he should have seen that it got too much. Cam had worked double hard to justify his place in the unit. “And I should not have left you alone,” he said, reaching for his shoulder. “I knew you were pushing yourself hard and I didn’t see that it got too much.” No more, it wouldn’t happen again.

“I just can’t believe I thought the Stargate was real...” Cam said wistfully. “It would be cool, but it’s mortifying to consider I broke down that much...”

“Hey... having the gate would be cool, and mean at least another major war against those snakes.” John loved the books himself. He could see that Cam was still wrestling with being ashamed about his collapse. Only time would heal that. “Cam, it was not your fault,” he reminded him gently before he turned to start up the speeder. It was time to get Cam out of here, John disliked psych clinics.

Their drive took nearly half an hour, John had found a place outside the city proper in one of the areas where homes were strewn throughout the countryside with lots of space in-between. It was much calmer and with less people up and about all the time. The place he had found was just above the shore of Lycoras Lake.

Cam smiled wryly and nodded as they pulled away. He looked behind him, leaving the clinic behind as they drove forward. He glanced around as they left the city behind and Cam’s chest loosened, the panicked feelings lessening. Cam got out of the speeder, licking his lips as they pulled up to John’s house. “Always taking care of me, huh?”

John ducked his head, averting his eyes for a moment. “Always,” he replied after a moment. The way they stood here reminded him vividly of their first meeting years before. He could miss many things from his life, but not this, not Cam. “Let’s find you that shower,” he said, a teasing smile rising in his eyes as he led Cam inside. The house was comfy if large. John led the way upstairs and towards a room with windows to two sides overlooking the lake. “I had someone pick up your stuff at the barracks and bring it here, so it’ll be more homey,” he explained.

“No kidding. Hospital showers always leave you smelling industrial..” Cam told him, between the two of them, always in the hospital. But not everyone could be the hero... someone had to be the troublemaker. And he was good at trouble. “You’re so nice, John. Thank you.”

“Cam, you were there for me when things got rough...” they had been together in that horrible den on Mangyar. Cam’s stubborn resistance had been what had given John the strength to pull through in this hell. “it’s the least I can do.” He stepped back, to leave Cam alone, give him the time to shower and change. Or simply just sit and get some peace and quiet.

Cam smiled tightly, ducking his head. “Someone had to be, right?” he said, raising his eyebrow as he lifted his head. He took his leave, going to take a shower, looking at the fading bruising on his body. It had been a pretty epic fight. Plus the fight he gave the orderlies... Jesus, he couldn’t do anything the easy way, could he? Cam chuckled at that thought, letting the jets of water hit him at he got soapy, washing unattended for the first time in so long.

John had gone downstairs, he had ordered food prior to leaving earlier in the day. Something nice to celebrate that Cam was out of the hospital. It was different now, that they are here and not in John’s quarters at the barracks, where such celebrations usually took place. He put the food on the low table in the living room, along with some juice. Cam’s medications did not allow for alcohol, so there wasn’t any in the house.

Cam let the suds wash off  as he let the water run over him. He was home. Or as home as he had right now. He leaned his head against the shower walls, just feeling the water. There was no pressure. He wasn’t the leader of SG-1, he was just Cameron Mitchell now. Not the Earth Colonel Michael Crighton, hero of many battles and friend to the alien Jaffa. It was just some fun book series that made the horrible conflict with their real enemies, the now defeated Cartanian Race, a little further away. He was just a trouble maker pilot who got damn lucky and made friends with John Sheppard. John was the real hero. 

He shut off the water and dried off, getting into some soft workout pants and his utility shirt, already missing the power armor they used. Retirement was going to take some getting used too.

John had been sitting crosslegged on one of the chairs when Cam came in. His friend looked different without the armor. It was different now, no war, not the constant pressure of battles and dangers. He hid a smile, he had hoped that one day they could have a life outside of all that. And now... now that they were here, he knew he had to hide his other wishes more deeply than before. “I hope you brought some hunger along,” he said with a grin. “or rather... I know you do, hospital food is the same no matter where.”

“I was born hungry and I’ll die that way, John. You should know that by now, considering I’ve always eaten your spare rations,” Cam teased. He took a seat on the floor, stretching out and using this opportunity to do some light stretches. “You should’ve demanded that you keep your armor. That you keep both our armors so I could go suit up. That would be fun.”

“I think seeing you squirm because you are in civvies in fun as well,” John teased him back. “and sparring will be much more fun with fun without them too.” It took a while to get used to no having the weight of the armor settling on your body, but it wasn’t that bad.

“I hate how light I feel. It’s not natural,” Cam told him with a grin. “Are you sure you want to spar with me after that beating I gave you?” he asked, jumping up and landing on his feet. Cam hated how light it felt without the armor and even the scrubs the clinic put him in were heavier. He breathed out slightly, forcing himself to calm. He was safe and sound... with John.

“Positive,” John watched Cam bounce up and down, knowing the fierce energy his friend possessed. “you are the only one who will give me that beating, the only one who actually is good enough to kick my ass into yesterday. Against whom else would I want to spar?” He leaned back on his arms. “and... see it like that, without the armor you can do all those fancy jumps you like so much.”

“I could do them in the armor too,” Cam said with a dirty smirk. “I am pretty awesome, true... Awesome enough to keep up with you,” he told him, flipping forward and doing a handstand, walking on his hands, perfectly balanced.

Deftly John reached for Cam’s upside down head and ruffled his hair. “And you will have all the excuses in the world to drag me out for morning runs too,” he said. “there’s enough running trails around the lake to make a drill sergeant happy.”

Cam stuck his tongue out at John and grinned. “Awesome. I’m looking forward to it!” he said, finally going upright. “Shall we eat?”

“And here I was wondering why you weren’t hungry,” John teased him. “dig in, after so much hospital food you need something decent.” He had just watched as Cam jumped back to his feet, just enjoyed watching him while he bounced about. He liked watching Cam, liked observing the deadly grace of Cam’s fighting skills or the seemingly effortless agility he displayed. Oh, there was more than that, but John was careful to hide those reasons, to hide the simple fact that he liked looking at Cam. He took the jar and poured them some juice.

“Let me guess...? We can’t drink?” Cam asked, taking his juice, glad that he already had his dose of the morning. “What did you get? It smells awesome.”

“Medications and alcohol don’t mix, and then... the Docs have been pestering me to cut back on the booze because of implant they gave me after that crash on Rumilar.” John replied. “It’s Vygurian juice, you’ll like it.” John knew the mix created from several different citruis fruits from Vygur’s colonies.

“I love it,” Cam said drinking it. “Those damn implants,” he said with a grin. “Do you still get that feedback?”

“A bit,” John replied. “but not as much as it was.” They started eating enjoying the food and simply each other’s company. Whenever he could get away with it, John’s eyes would stray to Cam, a warm light shining in them. Often enough he quickly averted his gaze when their conversation picked up again. “Someone from the veteran offices, probably Mr. Jatanski, will be dropping by in a day or two, with paperwork.” John said after a while.

“Oh. Will they be assigning me a home soon?” Cam asked, spearing a piece of John’s remaining food. “You never eat enough, you know? You should eat more and faster.”

“I guess so,” John replied a bit evasive. “but you are welcome to stay here as long as you like... it’s good to have a friend around.” He pushed his plate towards Cam. “You made me eat more than anyone else in my life, you know?”

“I’m just doing my part to make sure you’re fit. But I guess your bird like eating habits will be ok now that we’re retired...” Cam told him. “Should I take that as you want me to stay here, John?”

“I would like you to stay, a lot.” John replied, much as it would not be easy to hide some things, it would be harder to miss Cam in his life. “but that doesn’t mean you have to. What would you like to do?”

“Travel back in time and not have a breakdown?” Cam told him with a smirk. “I want to stay here. I think that would be good. We can figure out the rest as we go.”

John reached over and squeezed Cam’s shoulder. He could see how much his friend was ashamed for the breakdown. “Cam,” he said softly and warmly, he rarely allowed himself to speak the name as affectionate as he wanted to, but here he did. “there is no need to be ashamed about what happened.”

“I disagree with you there, John,” Cam told him, his chest aching as he thrilled at the sound of his tone. “I am Elite. I’m not supposed to fail this bad. Of course, I wouldn’t be Elite without you taking pity on me...”

“I didn’t take pity on you,” John said firmly. “you were good, one of the damn best I’d ever seen. Okay, you had an attitude of a mile and fifty but... you knew your own mind, you were strong. That’s what makes an Elite.” He didn’t let go of Cam’s shoulder. “You didn’t fail, Cam. You did more than anyone should do alone.”

“There are several who’d disagree with you, John. General Landry for one,” Cam challenged him. “Son, you’re a blight on the history of the company. You’re weak and you’ll drag Sheppard down with you,” he mocked, mimicking the General.

John scoffed at the mention of Landry’s name. “You didn’t drag me down, Cam and you know it. Hell, I wouldn’t have walked out of some situations if not for you.” He looked up meeting his eyes. “Whenever things got bad, you were there. Knowing that you had my back was... is... it gave me the strength to go on, no matter what.” He wanted to say more, his heart ached to tell Cam what he was to him but deep down John feared to see their friendship, their closeness end and even more to see disgust in Cam’s eyes.

“You’re the hero, John. Not me. I think it was the other way around...” Cam told him, grinning shyly. “I’m the one that danced on the razor’s edge of being sent to prison for disobeying orders after all...”

“You were at home at the razor’s edge,” the shy smile drew a warm smile from John in response. “and you pulled things nobody else would have thought of trying. And you gave Landry that wonderful heart-attack. You were my hero that day.”

Cam chuckled, looking pleased. “I know it’s mean, but that is one of my finest moments...” he told him. “I needed to save you, John... What else should I have done? Other than break all the rules and possibly laws in all the books written?”

“You did save me there,” John replied, drawing Cam closer, into a short hug. “you saved me more than once,” he added, drawing back. Their eyes met and John couldn’t quite resist the temptation of feathering a light kiss on Cam’s brow. “What would I have done without you?”

Cam hugged him back, relishing the feel of John pressed against him. “I had to have someone who would keep me from getting discharged...” he teased gently. “Same for me... I don’t know where, other than prison, I would’ve ended up without you.”

John smiled at the teasing. “We both made it here...” he pointed out. “nice retirement, maybe some lectures at the Academy later on... doesn’t sound so bad.”

“They don’t want me to lecture and you know it, John,” Cam told him dryly as they started to clean up their dishes.

“I wouldn’t be so sure about that,” John replied as they set to work.

***