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Friday, November 9th, 2007 11:26 am
Title: Big Sky Country
Author: [personal profile] bluflamingo
Fandom: SG-1
Pairing: Cam/Daniel/Vala
Rating: PG-13
Words: 4400
Feedback: Yes please. Even if it’s bad. Especially if it’s bad.
Disclaimer: No, I don’t own them. To my profound disappointment.
Summary: Cam’s starting to realize that getting involved with SG-1 means a whole lot more than just tempting them back.

A/N: Originally posted to [livejournal.com profile] spookathon, for Renae, who wanted Cam, Daniel and Vala, and Hallowe’en carnivals.



Big Sky Country

Cam tries pleading pressures of work - “Momma, you know how hard it is to get leave” - but it’s been six months since he was home for the reunion and his mom has strong views on how long it’s acceptable for him to go without visiting.

Then Teal’c requests time to go back to Dakara and set up another election, and Sam takes the opportunity to request a couple of weeks at Area 51 to work on the 305 project and the Asgard technology. Cam’s tempted to ask to go with her, but he’s not that desperate - yet.

Landry stands them down anyway - it’s not for another four weeks because, unless he’s off on a quest for revenge, Teal’c always gives plenty of notice - and Cam, who’s never been able to lie to his mom about anything but the really big things, tells her that he’ll be out for Hallowe’en weekend.

“Lovely,” his mom says, then, “Why don’t you bring your young lady? Your father and I would love to see Vala again.”

“She’s not -“ Cam says, then gives up; it’s not the first time they’ve had this part of the conversation and the worst part is, he can’t tell any more if she believes it or is just winding him up. “I’ll see if she’s free.”

*

“I’d love to,” Vala says when Cam bites the bullet and makes the invitation. “Your parents are lovely. Mrs Mitchell gave me pie, you know,” she adds to Sam, sitting next to Teal’c across from them.

Sam, because she’s a heartless traitor and abandoning him to go play with space ships, grins tolerantly at Vala. “I know. She does when I visit as well.” She leans in girl-talk close to Vala, who misses the evil glint in her eyes that Cam catches. “It’s a sign.”

“A sign of what?” Vala asks, so innocent that Cam’s half-sure she knows she’s being played, is trying to play him instead.

“A sign that she approves.” Sam raises one eyebrow, her meaning unmistakeable.

“Really?” Vala says, then, “Really?” again, slow and speculative. “Well, then, I shall need a gift for her and your father. That is traditional on this planet, isn’t it?”

“Yeah,” Cam agrees, because gifts from house guests are never a bad idea, and he’s not feeling up to dealing with Vala at full tilt when he’s still bruised from a fall off-world two days ago.

“Excellent.” Vala kisses him soundly on the cheek and runs off, presumably to find Daniel and his credit card, leaving Cam with Sam and Teal’c in the corner of the mess, amused and stoically amused respectively.

Cam puts his head down on the table and groans. It’s not like he doesn’t want to spend time with Vala, but his interactions with her have been different since they got back from their fifty year stint on the Prometheus, and he’s not sure he wants to know why. Sam laughs and pats his shoulder. “It won’t be so bad,” she says. “Your mom’s dealt with worse than Vala.”

“My mom thinks she’s my girlfriend,” Cam says to the table top which, actually, isn’t as clean as it seemed from further away. “She’s started dropping hints about engagement rings. She’ll put us in the same room.” He looks up at Sam and Teal’c, their faces devoid of sympathy, then drops his head down again. “I’m so screwed.”

“Indeed,” Teal’c intones solemnly.

*

“Maybe you shouldn’t have invited her,” Daniel suggests later, his hand on Cam’s back as they catch their breath. They’ve not been doing this regularly for very long, but it’s been just about long enough for Cam to be able to relax like this.

“You’re a great help, Jackson,” he says dryly. “I don’t know why I ask you.”

“Me either,” Daniel says with a shrug that Cam feels rather than sees. He’s quiet for a moment. “Look, it’s not exactly a bad thing for people to think you’re seeing her.”

Cam props himself up on his elbows so he can see Jackson’s face, vulnerable without his glasses. “I’m not talking about people, I’m talking about my parents.”

“I said you shouldn’t have invited her,” Daniel points out.

“Too late now.” Cam sighs. “Or you could come with me. Us.”

“As what?” Daniel asks. He frowns and shakes his head, then says, “Anyway, I have work to do.”

Cam’s always had trouble with people telling him he can’t do something. “It’s a good idea,” he says defensively. “My mom’ll love you.”

“Your mom loves everyone,” Daniel says darkly, but he doesn’t resist when Cam kisses him, slides his hand across his chest, and Cam knows he can win him round.

*

Daniel’s stubborn, but Cam out-stubborned his own body and it’s only a matter of time before Daniel caves.

Vala’s persistence might have something to do with it too, though Cam’s got no intention of admitting this out loud.

There’s a brief pause when he asks if it’s okay for him to bring one extra for the weekend, then his mom says, “Sure. Your friends are always welcome here,” and Cam feels about six years old.

That’s when he starts thinking asking Daniel along might not have been the best idea he’s ever had.

*

Cam makes the introductions when his mom gets home from school Friday night: Jackson looks like he still doesn’t know what he’s doing there, a feeling Cam can definitely empathise with; Vala bounces between Daniel and Cam’s mom, friendly and cheerful and too keyed up; and Cam’s parents look between the three of them with questions in their eyes that Cam doesn’t have the answers to.

“Dr Jackson,” Cam’s mom says, shaking his hand. “Cam’s told us a lot about you.”

Daniel looks at him from the corner of his eye and Cam busies himself making coffee. He’s not cruel enough to give anyone his mom’s special Hallowe’en coffee, mostly because he finds warm orange drinks really disturbing.

“Really?” Daniel asks. “That’s, uh, nice.”

Vala bounces back to Daniel’s side, leaning into him. “Mitchell talks about Daniel to everyone,” she says.

“Hey, Momma, you got any cookies?” Cam asks. Daniel curls his hand round Vala’s wrist as Cam turns to hand round the coffees.

“Of course, dear.” His mom reaches for a cookie jar in the shape of an owl. “The three of you all work together?”

“We do.” Daniel hands Vala a cookie iced with a ghost and stares at her until she takes a bite.

Cam hates this part, well aware that there’s no-one in his life who believes he got hurt in a test flight crash, and it makes even the little lies seem important. He breaks his cookie in half and dips the ghost’s head in his coffee. “These from your kids?” he asks.

“Grade 3,” his mom says with a smile.

“They’re delicious,” Vala says, licking crumbs from her fingers, her eyes on Daniel. Cam blinks, pulling his gaze from her; Daniel’s watching her with a vaguely glazed expression.

“Thank you, dear.” His mom offers the jar to her again, smiling when Vala takes two cookies with a shy, guilty smile.

“So,” Cam says, before his mom can get back to Daniel and what he does, before he has to wonder what his dad’s thinking of all of this, drinking his coffee quietly in the corner. “Um. Are any of your kids in the carnival?”

“Yes,” his mom says, sounding surprised. Not unreasonably; his mom’s grade 6 class have been dancing at the town carnival for as long as Cam can remember, and he’s been avoiding them for as long as he’s been able. “Tonight, as it happens.”

“Great,” Cam says brightly. “We should go.”

*

“Hallowe’en,” Vala says, sitting cross-legged on Cam’s bed, holding one his mom’s carved pumpkins at eye level; Daniel apparently threw her out of his room while he showered and changed, but Cam’s not entirely sure why she’s in his room and not her own.

“Yes,” Cam says, tying his right boot and waiting for whatever’s coming next.

“And a carnival,” Vala adds.

“Yes,” Cam says again. Across the hall, the shower shuts off.

“Hallowe’en, I understand,” Vala says, turning the pumpkin so Cam’s looking at its crooked, grinning face. “Well, sort of. Daniel explained it to me.” They grin at each other; Cam’s been on the receiving end of enough of Daniel’s lectures to know just how much they sometimes don’t explain. “And carnivals I understand.” Cam knows - he and Teal’c took her last time the fair came to Colorado Springs. It was an interesting experience. “But - why do the two go together?”

Cam remembers years of Hallowe’en carnivals; ghost trains and hook-a-ducks in lurid green water; pumpkin pie and toffee apples and cake walks when he was a kid, sticky kisses when he was a teenager. It was part of growing up, like school and football games with his dad and wanting to fly; Hallowe’en and carnivals just go together where he grew up.

Vala’s watching him with a darkly speculative expression from a lot closer than she was. “I see,” she says quietly. She’s got a hand on his arm, warm through his jacket. Cam thinks, ‘Daniel,’ and, ‘She knows,’ and cups her elbow, halfway to drawing her closer. His mom wasn’t as wrong as he wanted to think, last time they visited.

“Mitchell,” she says, and that’s when Daniel opens the door.

“You ready?” he asks, already half-turned for them to follow him out.

“We’re good,” Cam says, opening his hand to release Vala and step back, but she leans in and kisses him, very softly, on the lips, and he thinks he’s got no idea if he means it or not, even when Vala links her arms through both of theirs, following the path down to the school.

*

The carnival is bigger than Cam remembers it, weirdly, though he can’t actually pick out anything that wasn’t there when he was a teenager.

“Remind me,” Daniel says, looking at the tiny ghost train and the carousel, the costumed kids with their parents, and the teenage couples in masks and fairy wings, “What exactly I’m doing here.”

It’s not Daniel’s thing and Cam knows it; it’s barely his thing now, no matter how much Kansas still feels like home, but he can’t shake this indefinable something between the three of them that made him want them home with him, however awkward it’s turning out to be. He doesn’t know how to explain this to Daniel, who doesn’t even seem to be aware of what’s building between him and Vala, between the three of them.

Vala looks up at him from under her red wool hat, then sighs and switches her grip from his arm to Daniel’s. “Come on, Daniel. You know how to have fun, don’t you?”

She bats her eyelashes at Daniel, who looks at Cam over her head, eyebrows raised. Cam smiles back uncertainly; he can’t read the look on Daniel’s face at all.

“Fun, huh?” Daniel says, looking out at the carnival Cam follows his gaze to the group of kids in a mix of costumes setting up on the temporary wooden floor in the middle of the field. Daniel sighs. “Okay, then, lead the way.”

Cam follows him and Vala into the crowd, Vala still on Daniel’s arm.

*

The carnival is pitched at the little kids running around with trick-or-treat buckets, dressed as princesses and Spiderman, but there’s enough childless adults that the three of them don’t stick out too badly. Cam spots his mom a couple of times, organizing the kids for their performance along with another teacher, and makes sure to give them a wide berth, still feeling off-balance from Vala’s kiss in his room.

“You know what this carnival is missing,” Vala says abruptly.

“What?” Cam asks, sure he’s going to regret it.

“Cotton candy,” Vala says, looking between the two of them before fixing her gaze on Cam. He knows what that means.

“Over there,” he tells her, pointing to the stall being run by the high school cheerleaders. She continues looking at him expectantly until Daniel sighs.

“Here,” he says, handing over a couple of notes. “Don’t flirt with anyone who’s too young to drive.”

“Daniel, you wound me,” she says, but she takes the money anyway and goes off in search of sugar, leaving Cam to watch the carousel with Daniel, searching for words.

“Well,” Daniel says after a minute. “This is awkward.”

“Yeah,” Cam agrees, laughing a little in relief. Of course, he doesn’t have anything to say after that. He picks out Vala, standing in line for cotton candy and smiling at a couple of vaguely bemused looking teenage boys.

“This isn’t the kind of town where we’ll be chased out with shotguns for trying to corrupt the local youth, is it?” Daniel asks, apparently watching the same thing Cam is.

“Jackson!” Cam’s kind of offended until he catches Daniel’s expression, twisted and affectionate like it usually is when he’s looking at Vala. “We’ll be fine,” he says anyway, swallowing the urge to point out how accepting his home-town is of weird shit happening - see his high school reunion, for starters.

Over by the dance floor, the kids have mostly moved away, replaced by someone setting up speakers; no band this year, then, for which Cam’s grateful.

“So,” he says, mainly to break the silence, which is edging rapidly into awkward again, thinking uncharitable thoughts about how Jackson can get along with anyone they meet off-world, but not with a Hallowe’en carnival. “Why’d you agree to come out here?”

Something in Daniel shifts, like he wasn’t expecting that to be the question, but Cam’s curious; he was pleased enough when Daniel agreed to come along that he didn’t really question why he had.

“I -“ Daniel starts; before he can get any further, something small and fast bumps into Cam’s leg and bounces back.

Cam looks down, steadying a small pumpkin from falling over. “You okay?” he asks, and the pumpkin brandishes a bright orange bucket. Also a pumpkin, Cam notices.

“Trick or treat?”

“Um…” Daniel says, but Cam’s already reaching into his pocket where he stashed a couple of handfuls of his mom’s Hallowe’en candy before they left the house.

“Treat,” he says, holding out a couple of lurid orange sweets for the kid to take with a grin and a wave.

When he looks back at Daniel, Daniel’s grinning at him. “Did you used to do that when you were a kid?”

“Dress up and pester people for candy?” Cam asks. “Oh yeah.”

“I bet you were adorable,” Daniel says, still grinning, taking a step closer.

“You’d bet right.” Cam knows he was a cute kid - all the kids in his family are - and his mom’s got plenty of photos to prove it. None of which will Daniel get to see.

Daniel’s grin mellows into an affectionate smile, and Cam smiles back, feeling like an idiot, but a relieved idiot, even when Vala reappears with green cotton candy and a sigh. “This doesn’t taste right,” she says, stuffing another piece into her mouth. “The pink is nicer. Sweeter.”

“It’s pure sugar,” Daniel says, pulling a piece off and eating it neatly. “And the color doesn’t make any difference, it’s all food dye.”

Vala makes a dismissive gesture and pulls off a piece, holding it out to Cam. “Mitchell knows what I mean,” she says, running her finger along his lower lip as he eats the candy.

“Sure,” Cam says, painfully aware of how strangled he sounds. He clears his throat and sees Daniel watching them with knowing, speculative eyes. “It does taste different. Hey, how about a ride on the ghost train?”

*

“Did you know that the first ghost train ride was on Blackpool Pleasure Beach?” Daniel asks absently as they queue for tickets. It’s still early enough in the evening that the handful of rides are all busy, though they’ll clear in time for the kids’ dances and skits.

“Pleasure Beach?” Vala asks with interest.

“Not like that,” Cam tells her firmly. “It’s an amusement park in the UK. How do you know that?” he asks Daniel. He really means, why are you telling us? except that Daniel’s academic voice makes him feel like he’s off-world somewhere, like Sam and Teal’c are just round the next bend in the path, and it’s oddly comforting.

“We read the play in school,” Daniel says. He’s only got half of his attention on them, the rest on the Welcome to Auburn leaflet he pulled out of his jacket pocket.

“Play?” Cam asks, already lost, and he can’t help smiling. This is what their relationship is all about, the three of them, Daniel imparting semi-useful trivia and him and Vala nodding along, playing the straight men. Or, by now, slightly bent.

“Mm,” Daniel says, then looks up and registers their faces. “Oh. ‘Ghost train’ - it comes from a British play by Arnold Ridley, about a train that’s supposed to doom everyone who sees it to death.”

“And you let children on this?” Vala asks, scandalized.

“It wasn’t really a ghost train,” Daniel explains. “It was actually part of a smuggling operation, but the smugglers perpetuated the rumor of the ghost train to maintain their cover.”

“Oh,” Vala says slowly. “You know, that reminds me of when I was working for -“

“Three adults, please,” Cam says loudly over her, pulling up a bright grin for the ticket seller as Daniel puts a hand firmly over Vala’s mouth and hisses something Cam can’t hear. Situation normal, Cam thinks, and accepts his tickets.

*

The ghost train is the same one they had when he was a kid, too small to go properly dark until they’re a few feet in, Vala insisting on sitting in the front seat with a shy young woman who keeps looking at her from the corner of her eye, Daniel and Cam a couple of rows back so Cam can plead plausible deniability if Vala and the girl get up to anything he shouldn’t know about.

Or if him and Daniel do, he amends as the train jerks into motion and Daniel’s hand lands high on his thigh, pressing firmly.

“Uh, Jackson.” He puts his hand on Daniel’s, intending to move it away, but somehow not. “I’m not sure this is the best idea.”

“No?” Daniel asks, too-innocently, sliding his hand a little higher. “It’s dark, no-one’s going to notice if you scream…”

Cam can’t help the laugh that escapes. “That’s a pretty healthy ego there,” he says, his hand still on Daniel’s. “But the two kids sitting behind us belong to someone my sister used to babysit, and I do not need them or her to know quite that much about my sex life, thanks all the same.”

Up ahead, Vala squeals as something damp drops from the ceiling, then laughs, open and happy. It makes something in Cam’s chest ache, just for a minute, because she’s always smiling and positive, but he almost never hears her sound like that. Daniel’s hand on his thigh tightens in something closer to comfort and Cam smiles at him in the darkness.

“You know what she wants?” he asks, keeping his voice low and ignoring the feathery thing catching at his hair.

“Yeah,” Daniel says. “You can tell her no.”

“So can you,” Cam points out. “You going to?”

There’s a pause, then Cam feels Daniel shake his head, the movement just visible in the gathering light as they near the end of the tunnel. The shadow of Vala’s carriage mate is pointing to something, Vala nodding.

“Are you?” Daniel asks, and Cam says, “no,” as they emerge from the tunnel in time to hear the announcement that the performances are starting.

*

Cam fidgets through most of the performances, feeling out of place and conspicuous without a child to watch, and he’s grateful for his mom’s grade 6 class doing a truly bizarre version of what’s introduced as a Lindy Hop but doesn’t look much like one. Vala asks a lot of questions of Daniel, muttering under her breath so Cam can’t hear; Daniel doesn’t, for once, have any answers, leaving Vala frowning at him in what seems like genuine frustration.

All in all, Cam’s grateful when it’s over, the kids have taken their bows and their parents are gathering them up.

“Ready to head back?” he asks, checking his pockets for his house keys: his parents will be busy with the kids for at least another hour.

“Definitely,” Daniel says with visible relief. Not his thing, Cam reminds himself firmly.

“No!” Vala’s been half-turned away from them, still watching the dance floor, but she turns back, some of her earlier enthusiasm returning. “There’s going to be dancing.”

“And if that’s not a good reason to leave -“ Daniel starts.

Vala cuts him off with a glare that Cam wishes he could emulate. He’s never been able to shut Daniel up with anything that’s appropriate to do in public. “Dancing,” she says firmly. “I’ve read your books about Earth socializing, and it should include dancing. You -“ She pokes Cam hard in his chest as she turns to him. “You took me to a party with music and didn’t ask me to dance once.”

“We were attacked by a bounty hunter!” Cam protests, looking round automatically for Amy Vandenburg. He never called her after the reunion, not sure what to say, and then not sure it was really appropriate, since he started sleeping with Daniel.

“That’s no excuse. You danced with that girl, and she wasn’t even your date.”

Cam opens his mouth to protest that it was part of a cunning plan, and anyway, she was off drinking with Darrel, then decides, as he frequently does when it comes to Vala, that it’s simply not worth it. “Fine. You want to dance, we can dance.”

“Good,” Vala says, too brightly, and that’s when Cam gets a good look at the dance floor, which has been chalked into a huge circle, squares marked out within it.

“*That’s* what you want to do?” he asks.

“Yes,” Vala says firmly, then frowns. “The man on the speaker said there would be dancing, and cakes.”

Cam runs a hand through his hair, trying not to catch Daniel’s eye when he hears Daniel breathing out a laugh. “It’s a kids’ game,” he explains carefully. “They walk round the circle to music, and when the music stops someone calls a number and whoever’s standing on it gets a prize.”

Vala looks at him like she’s worried he’s recently sustained a head injury. “There’s music and movement, and cakes. How is it not dancing?”

“You know what?” Why break with a continuing streak, after all. “If you want to play, we’ll play.” Cam turns Vala to nudge her in the right direction, and reaches a hand out behind him. “You too, Jackson.” He drags Daniel after them, ignoring the protests.

*

Cam hasn’t done a cake walk since he was seven - the year after that, he declared that he was too old for games, and ended up regretting it when the prettiest girl in his class asked if he was playing and he had to say no because his mom was standing right there, looking like she was about to start laughing at him. He’s not hindered by the gap of thirty years though, not at all.

He’s hindered by Vala.

“Seven,” Mr. Baker says, and Cam looks down to find that, hey, he’s standing on number seven. Or rather, that he was, as Vala bumps into him from behind, knocking him onto number eight.

“Sorry,” she says innocently when he turns to her. “I stumbled.” She accepts the square of green cake graciously.

“Yeah. Right,” Cam grumbles, and starts walking with the music, poking Daniel in the back before he can start muttering again.

It’s actually fun, in an odd way: Vala gets far too into it, pushing and shoving at Cam and Daniel to get onto their squares when they’re called, but always taking an extra step so one of the kids can take her square. She ends up with three of the little cakes, and starts handing out her winnings to the kids as the game goes on.

“Don’t I get one?” Cam asks over the music, walking backwards so he can talk to her.

Vala puts a little skip in her next step and shakes her head. “Not unless you can take it from me,” she says, holding her hand out with a cake innocently resting on her palm.

Cam makes a grab for it, even knowing she won’t let him get it, except she’s not quite fast enough and his hand closes over the soft cake at the same moment her fingers do. She tries to pull back, taking Cam a stumbling step closer to her.

“You said if I took it, it was mine,” he points out, under the tinny jingle of the music.

“I did,” she says, low voiced, and Cam’s very sure she’s not talking about church cakes any longer. He makes to pull his hand away at the same moment as she releases it, and they both go stumbling into Daniel, then over onto the grass, out of the circle and the lights, Daniel’s elbow in Cam’s ribs, Cam’s leg under Vala, the grass nowhere near as soft as it looks.

After a minute, Vala says, “Ow,” and reaches up to rub her shoulder. Cam’s hand, still in hers, goes with it and he doesn’t let go. Half under him, he can feel Jackson breathing, before he moves his elbow and rests his hand lightly on Cam’s stomach, the other hand going up to pick a leaf from Vala’s hair.

“Yeah?” Cam asks, hoping they’ll know what he doesn’t want to say.

“Oh yeah,” Vala says with a grin, answering for her and Jackson, and Cam may not know how, exactly, but he does know that this is going to be fine. Better than fine. Great.


Sunday, November 11th, 2007 03:59 am (UTC)
Oh, loved this one too - I like that way you have of telling a story in the spaces between what's happening, and the way they work it out without ever really saying anything directly. And, oh, Cam and Daniel is definitely of the hot...
Sunday, November 11th, 2007 07:02 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I think, while Daniel would probably happily talk it to death, Cam and Vala would be a lot more about what they could get away with not actually saying.
Monday, November 19th, 2007 11:30 pm (UTC)
*squee*

*flails*

I love this one so much!


“I’m so screwed.”

“Indeed,” Teal’c intones solemnly.


*snort* at least he knows it going in ;p
Tuesday, November 20th, 2007 09:23 am (UTC)
Thank you!

*snort* at least he knows it going in ;p

Forewarned is for-armed?!
Sunday, January 6th, 2008 09:32 pm (UTC)
Hee, something like that! ...I'm feeling the sudden urge to reread now ;)

(I'm really behind with comment replies and attempting to catch up, so sorry if you start getting responses to really old comments!)
Sunday, January 6th, 2008 09:50 pm (UTC)
It's nice to get responses to old comments, I think :)
Sunday, January 6th, 2008 10:31 pm (UTC)
Good to know! I was worried people would be wondering wtf? I'm actually rather happy. I started at 3pm this afternoon with 467 emails; I now have 5 and they're all from today! *g*
Friday, March 14th, 2008 11:14 am (UTC)
LOL this was so cute and amusing ^__^ Randomly found it while surfing cuz it was recc'ed in someone's journal... nice writing!
Friday, March 14th, 2008 03:25 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it.
Monday, March 28th, 2011 06:23 am (UTC)
This managed to be both adorable and sexy all at the same time! I love how you wrote their developing relationship here and still kept them all in-character. *mems*
Thursday, November 24th, 2011 04:55 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed this! I love how much is said without ever being explicitly spoken aloud. The sense that they all want each other comes across beautifully!
Sunday, November 27th, 2011 12:14 am (UTC)
You've captured the mood of a TV carnival really well, so don't worry about that! I haven't really done real carnivals either, but the tone really works all the same :)