[identity profile] rubygirl29.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] slashing_lorne
 Title: I'll be Home for Christmas
Author: Rubygirl29
Genre: Slash, Cam/Lorne
Rating: PG13
AU: Breakaway
Disclaimer: Not Cam or Evan, but the OCs are mine as is the Breakaway AU.

Author's Note: I have a lovely graphic for this, but I'll have to send in later ... maybe this weekend.



I’ll be Home for Christmas
 
The one thing John Sheppard missed about Earth was the change of seasons. It was always Spring on Atlantis. Even the mainland seemed permanently fixed at sixty-five to seventy degrees Fahrenheit. So, despite his calendar reading December, it still felt vaguely unreal to talk about Christmas.
 
It wasn’t as if the holiday permeated the atmosphere like it did on Earth. The variety of beliefs on Atlantis kept most holidays secular, but apparently the custom of gift giving was universal. Even among the Pegasus natives there were days held sacred. Teyla told of the Athosian day of Adari, when gifts were given to loved ones as a token of hope for the coming year. Ronon said the Satedans, too, also had days of gratitude and gift exchanges, as did any number of other cultures. It was just as easy to move those holidays to Christmas since the stars no longer dictated the days of the year. 
 
Walking the corridors of Atlantis, the occasional snatch of a carol would come from a room, or somebody he passed would be humming a familiar tune. Unfortunately, gating staff back to Earth for the holiday wasn’t a practical option and most would have to settle for data transmission or emails to friends and family back home. The Daedalus would make a supply delivery within the week, including gifts from home for the Lanteans. It added up to a big headache for John, and didn’t mean much to him personally. His family wasn’t exactly all warm and fuzzy about the holidays.
 
He knocked on Elizabeth Weir’s office door and when the panel slid open, entered. It seemed even Elizabeth wasn't immune from the so-called Christmas spirit. A small pine-ish plant festooned with shiny bits of wire and hardware decorated her desk. “Cute,” John said as he sat down.
 
“I like it,” Elizabeth said a bit defensively. “It’s from Radek and the science teams. Katie Brown picked out the plant.”
 
“You don’t have to justify it to me. So, what’s up?”
 
Elizabeth sat back in her chair. “The IOA and SGC has offered us a present -- no, not new P-90s -- so stop salivating.”
 
“Of course not. That’s too practical,” he sighed. He’d been asking for replacement weapons since the siege nearly two years ago. He hoped the present wasn’t Richard Woolsey. “So what’s the big deal they’re offering?”
 
“A trip for one back to Earth for Christmas.”
 
“One.” He was unimpressed. “That’s generous of them. How are we supposed to decide which one of two hundred gets lucky?”
 
“I thought we could have a raffle. You know, all personnel with leave time available get put into the pool and we draw for it.”
 
Sheppard shrugged. It wasn’t as if he wanted to go home. “Sounds good to me.”
 
“Okay. How about tonight at movie night?”
 
“Sure.” John stood up. “Be there or be square.” He started towards the door, then paused. “Oh, in the interest of morale, if I win, give it to Lorne. He could use some down-time.”
 
“Major Lorne? What about you?”
 
“Me? I’d rather be here with my team. Send Lorne. Besides, what are the chances?”
 
^*^*^*^*^*^*^

 
“And the winner of the trip back to Earth for Christmas is ...” Elizabeth paused for dramatic effect. “Major Evan Lorne!”
 
Lorne, who had been dozing in his chair after too many sleepless nights sat bolt upright. “What?”
 
“Congratulations, Major. You won the raffle.”
 
Lorne looked at her, bleary-eyed and blushing to have been caught wrong-footed. “Umm ... what did I win?”
 
“Pack your bags for Earth, Major. You’ve won the Christmas raffle for a trip home.”
 
"I didn't know I entered it," Lorne said, puzzled by the whole thing. He didn't notice Dr. Weir giving John a conspiratorial look, or the slight nod she received in return.
 
^*^*^*^*^*^*^

 
Five hours later, following a debrief and a medical check-up, Evan was standing on Cam Mitchell’s condo doorstep and wondering why he’d forgotten how damn cold it was in Colorado in the winter. He was wearing a stormcoat, but he was still shivering. He knocked, stamped his feet on the mat. A wreath of bay leaves and ribbons hung on the door, scenting the air with a sweet herbal tang. The unit itself was dark and quiet. Damn. He wondered if the Pegasus Pub was open on Christmas Eve. It would be better than standing out in the cold waiting for Cam to come home.
 
He was digging through his duffel for paper and pen to leave a note when the neighbor’s door opened and a woman peered out at him. “Can I help you?”
 
“Umm, hi. I’m a friend of Cam -- Colonel Mitchell’s -- Do you know when he’ll be back?”
 
She didn't anwer right away, but studied him until he passed her inspection. “You’re in the Air Force?”
 
“Yes, ma’am. I kind of got unexpected leave and I -- Cam ...” He looked back at the dark windows. “Looks like he’s not here.”
 
“I’m sorry. He went home for Christmas.”
 
“Home. As in Kansas,” Evan sighed when the woman nodded. “Looks like I’m going back to Peterson.” He patted his pockets. “I’m sorry, ma’am, but I don’t have a cell phone on hand. Could you call a taxi for me?”
 
“I can do better than that. I’m a nurse at Peterson and I’m due to go on shift.”
 
“Ma’am, you shouldn’t offer rides to strangers.”
 
She laughed. “I’m also a black-belt. And you just told me that I can trust you. Though a name would be nice.”
 
“Major Evan Lorne, USAF. Don’t salute,” he said when she started to raise her arm.
 
“Yes, sir.” She smiled. “I’m Captain Lacie Manners. Welcome to my taxi service.”
 
“Thank you.”
 
“My husband is in Afghanistan. I’m doing it for him. Let’s get you to McConnell.”
 
^*^*^*^*^*^*^

 
The ride in the military transport from Peterson to McConnell was uncomfortable, but at least it gave him the opportunity to grab an hour of down-time. He shivered awake as the wing flaps rattled into position. He debarked and was approached by an airman waiting on the tarmac outside the terminal. "Major Lorne?"

“Yes?”

The airman saluted and held out a set of keys. “Compliments of General Jeffrey Manners. His wife said you'd need transport.” Until that moment Evan had never believed in angels, but now he thought they’d look a lot like Lacie Manners. He took the keys and as he left McConnell and drove towards Auburn, it began to snow.

The military-issue jeep had a cheap radio that barely picked up local stations; the ones that did come through were interrupted by bursts of static. Occasionally, the notes of a recognizable carol would leave an auditory impression, but for the most part, his only company was his thoughts. It still seemed unreal that ten hours earlier he had been in another galaxy, dozing in a chair, and winning a raffle he didn't even recall entering -- for a trip back home to spend Christmas with his lover. Their first Christmas, despite having been together for more than two years. Measured in weeks, their shared time didn't amount to much, however. Time training on the F-302s, a week or two while Cam was hospitalized following a crash, a week last year when Lorne gated back to report on the siege of Atlantis. Times that passed like photographs flashing too quickly through a slideshow, elusive and yet still evocative: Cam’s laughing blue eyes, the line that formed over his right brow when he was perplexed, the way his blue fatigues fit his lean body ... Lorne sighed. Yeah, he was in love.

Traffic on the interstate was light and the snow continued to fall; not hard enough to make for hazardous driving, but the flakes swirling in his headlights were hypnotic. Between that and his fatigue, he finally had to pull off at an interchange to take a coffee break and stretch his legs. The only place that was open was a truck stop. Evan parked the jeep, locked it and went inside. The diner was showing its age, but at least it was warm. The jeep’s heating system left something to be desired. He sat at the counter and eyed the rack of pies under a glass dome.

The waitress came over to him; a middle-aged woman with limp blonde hair and red-rimmed eyes, like she had been crying. “What can I get ya?” she asked in a flat Kansas drawl.

“Coffee, and a piece of pie. What’s good?”

“Made the cherry myself,” she said.

“I’ll have that.” He shrugged off his stormcoat. “Too bad you have to work on Christmas Eve,” he commented, to be polite.

Her hand shook slightly as she poured his coffee. A few drops spattered on the back of his wrist. He pulled away, more from surprise than actual pain. “Lord, I’m sorry!” she exclaimed and the tears that had been threatening to spill over finally ran down her pale cheeks as she mopped up the spill. “You need bandaids? Ointment? I’m so clumsy!”

“No, I’m fine, really fine,” Evan said. He held out his hand. “See, not even red. Please, ma’am, you don’t have to cry.”

She wiped her eyes on the corner of her apron. “It’s been a long day. Hell, it’s been a long year.”

“Rough times?”

She nodded, looking at him hard. “You in the military?”

“Air Force.”

“I thought so. Nobody else calls me ma’am. And even when you’re tired, you sit up straight, not like most people. My son’s a marine. Right now he’s overseas. In Germany. Ramstein.”

“I’ve been there,” Lorne said and realized why she was crying. “He’s in the hospital?”

She nodded. “He was supposed to come home for Christmas. But he -- he got hurt ... ”

“They take good care of you there,” Lorne said. “He’ll be home soon.”

“Are you on your way home?”

Evan replied, thinking of Cam. “Yeah. Yeah, I am.”

She cut a generous piece of cherry pie and moved his cup away from his hand as she poured more coffee, this time with a slight smile. “Thanks, for what yous said about Ramstein. I can’t afford to go there, but knowing he’s in good hands helps a lot.” She tore his bill off the pad.

Just then a group of truckers came in and she hurried off. Evan turned the bill over and wrote on the back, Call Captain Lacie Manners at Peterson AFB.  He dug out the cell phone he had purchased at Peterson before the transport took off. He left a message for Lacie at the hospital, explaining what he wanted her to do, and closed with, “I’m paying it forward.” He put money down for his bill plus a sizeable tip and continued on his way.

^*^*^*^*^*^*^


An hour later he was pulling up the long driveway leading to the Mitchell residence. It had stopped snowing and the skies had cleared. The moonlight shone over fallow fields and glittered on the barn and outbuildings. Even in the winter, it looked prosperous. The farmhouse at the end of the drive was large and white. Evan felt like he had gated into a Christmas card. Only this card had a driveway filled with parked cars and trucks. It looked like he had arrived in the middle of a Christmas celebration. He knew he should have driven away, found a motel and called Cam to let him know he was here, but ... but some things were more than he could withstand. Not seeing Cam, being alone on Christmas Eve, spending it in an impersonal, cold room after crossing galaxies to be here ... he couldn’t do it.

Evan parked and walked up the front path. He paused, wondering if he was doing the wrong thing. What was the worst that could happen? He raised his hand and knocked.

The door opened. Cam stood there, in a dark green sweater, blue jeans, and a Santa hat. Evan didn’t know who was more surprised. Probably Cam. He stood there, blinking at Evan, utterly speechless.

“Are you going to let me in or leave me standing out here freezing my ass off?”

Cam reached out, touched his shoulder as if to confirm that he hadn’t imbibed too much Christmas cheer, then pulled Evan into a hug. “Now, that would be a damn waste.” His breath was warm on Evan’s chilly cheek. “Get in here!” He nearly lifted Evan off his feet as he kissed him under a ball of mistletoe. “I can’t believe you’re here! Why didn’t you call?”

“Long story. Nice hat, by the way.” He flicked the white fluffy tassel. “Santa.”

“Cam? Everybody’s wait --” Wendy Mitchell stood in the hall. Evan didn’t know how much she had seen, how she was interpreting the blush on his cheeks, or Cam’s sudden coughing fit, but she was a gracious hostess. “Major Lorne, how nice to see you again. Merry Christmas!” She gave him a warm embrace and a kiss on the cheek. “Cam, where are your manners? Bring Major Lorne in. He looks half-frozen. Come along, dear.” She took his arm and led him into the front room where the entire Mitchell clan and guests were gathered around a brightly lit tree and what looked like a mountain of presents.

Evan looked back at Cam, now laughing silently, his hands raised in surrender. He had no choice but to let himself be taken in like one of the family. Cam, wearing the Santa hat, had the honors of passing out gifts that ranged from the extravagant to the silly. Evan watched with a bit of envy. He was close to his family, but they’d never had the sheer sense of fun that the Mitchells had. He surrendered to the spirit and sat back, a glass of mulled and whiskey-fortified cider clasped in his hands, and enjoyed watching Cam run the show. He’d never seen him like this, teasing his young cousins, laughing with his father and mother, just being Cam, not Colonel Cameron Mitchell, leader of SG-1, who carried more secrets with him than everybody else in the room with the exception of Evan himself.

Finally, when the piles of wrapping paper lay like drifts of snow at their feet and everybody was engrossed in their gifts, Cam came over to him and held out a small package. “There weren’t any post offices where I’ve been lately.”

“Tell me about it.” Evan opened the box. Inside was a gold link bracelet, masculine and different than anything he had ever seen. “Wow, Cam, I don’t know what to say.”

“Just a little something I picked up off-world,” he whispered. “With official permission, of course. Jackson said the symbols represent blessings on travelers for safe journeys.”

“I sure can use those,” Evan sighed. “I wish I had your gift with me, but it’s on the way via the Daedalus It wouldn’t exactly fit in my duffel.”

“A painting?” Cam’s smile lit his face and his shoulder touched Lorne’s as he leaned in to whisper, “Any hints?”

“No.” He grinned. “But you’ll like it. I hope you’ll like it.”

“I’d like the garage if you painted it,” Cam said. His eyes were soft as he smiled into Evan’s. “Let’s get some fresh air.”

Lorne thought of the cold ride in the jeep. “It’s like zero degrees out there,” he shuddered.

“Come on, there’s something you should see. Sort of a Mitchell tradition.”

Evan noticed that people were putting on their winter gear. “I’m not finished warming up from the drive,” he said.

“Some SF tough guy you are.” Cam jostled his arm playfully. “You can borrow a coat,” he insisted. “You won’t reget it.”

Evan couldn’t resist. He followed Cam to the front closet. Cam reached in and handed him a thick wool pea coat that was at least two sizes too large and a pair of wooly earmuffs. Cam still had the Santa hat on. When he caught Lorne smiling at his reflection in the closet mirror, he grinned. “Hey, it’s warm. And it’s Christmas. Who cares?”

Lorne wanted nothing more than to grab Cam by the lapels and kiss him. That might raise a few brows, he thought, still smiling. “Okay. This better be good. I'm giving up a spot by the fireplace for it.”

The went outside to the driveway and followed a cleared gravel path down a slight slope. The moon showed two rows of trees, their branches laden with the earlier snowfall, like pale arms in the moonlight. Cam stood close behind him, his hand curved around Evan’s waist. Nobody could see in the darkness, and Evan leaned back slightly, feeling the warmth of Cam’s body even through the coat. God, it felt so good ...

“Three ... two ... one!” Cam whispered.

All at once, the trees blazed to life with hundreds of tiny white and gold lights that had been twined around every trunk and branch. The entire landscape was gilded by the shimmering illumnation. Evan forgot about the cold. He turned to Cam; the planes of his cheekbones, the blue of his eyes, the soft dip of his mouth, all limned in magical light. Lorne had seen some amazing things in the last two years, lived in a city that took his breath away every single single day with its beauty, and still, still hadn’t seen anything like this. “Worth it,” he whispered. “Damn.”

Cam’s family and friends were strolling down the path between the trees,  some holding hands, others frolicking in the snow. Evan’s feet were freezing, his nose was cold, but he was past caring. He leaned against Cam, watching. It was achingly beautiful, achingly poignant.

“What are you thinking?” Cam asked. “Pretty hokey, huh?”

“No.” Lorne cleared his throat. “My family spent Christmases in Cabo San Lucas where mom could paint the landscapes. The money she earned from those sales financed my education. But ya know, Cabo kind of lacks the holiday atmosphere. No snow.” He gestured towards the trees. “Nothing like this.”

“This sure ain’t Cabo. But it’s home,” Cam chuckled. He was interrupted by the chime of sleigh bells. Wendy Mitchell stood on the front porch ringing a harness of bells.

“What’s that?” Evan asked.

“Mom calling everybody in for hot chocolate and bakery. Then everybody goes home full, laden with gifts and totally exhausted kids.”

“Nice.” In a few minutes they were alone in the trees and the soft glow of the Christmas lights. Cam set his hands on Evan’s shoulders. It began snowing again; flakes sifting down and clinging to his eyelashes. Cam’s lips feathered over his eyelids. Evan sighed. “I like your home.”

“It’s your home, too. Merry Christmas, Ev,” Cam whispered and kissed him.

He was warm and in the arms of his lover. Beginning with a kindness and ending with a kiss --This was how it should be on Christmas. He didn’t know where he would be next year. But on this day, he was home.

  The End

Date: 2009-12-16 05:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] clwilson2006.livejournal.com
oo- I'm all warm and fluffy on the inside, and feeling Christmassy. Lovely Fic, even if this isn't my favourite pairing! Cannot Wait for the graphic too!!!!!

Date: 2009-12-16 07:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tomsmum.livejournal.com
Awww - lovely cosy fic :)

Date: 2009-12-17 01:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] calcitrix.livejournal.com
So so warm and cute!

Date: 2009-12-17 01:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] adafrog.livejournal.com
Very cool, thanks.

Date: 2009-12-18 12:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bethynyc.livejournal.com
Awwww! Lovely and sweet! Just what I needed today, so thank you!

Date: 2010-01-06 11:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] iamaslashaddict.livejournal.com
***Snuggles***
Made me all warm and fuzzy!

Thanks for sharing;-)

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