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untitled + Noli Me Tangere

Title: a) untitled, and b) Noli Me Tangere
Fandom: Stargate SG-1, Broken Wings 'verse
Rating/Pairing: JD/Mitchell
Summary: Tagfics for synecdochic's fic a howling in the factory yard, set in the Broken Wings AU. This will make no sense if you haven't read Howling, and will make less than no sense if you aren't familiar with BW, so go read those if you haven't already, and /then/ read these. Originally posted here and here (D, AU)

I. (untitled)

Waiting's the hardest thing in the world.

Lying to Momma comes damn close, though. Even though Cam knows (thinks, /hopes/) that she knows at least some of what's going on -- not everything, not even as much as he does (which itself is about a teardrop's worth in a fucking /ocean/), but enough that she knows /why/ he's lying (Momma can pretty much always tell /that/ one of the family's lying, doesn't always know the reasons why or the truth behind it). But he's still lying. To the whole damn family, and some accept the lies more easily than others, but lying to Momma hurts the worst.

Lying to himself, now...

(darkness of 3am and everything hurts and the pills are too goddamn far away to make it worth even moving but that's okay because it isn't all physical; there's a void in the bed next to him, in his life, in his mind, and the only thing that fills it is wondering what's going on, wondering when he'll /hear/, knowing that unless the op's over [one way or another] silence is good, and he tells himself that JD /is/ coming back [it's a statement of fact, pure and simple] and he'll be fine and unscarred and totally himself [he's only out for a walk in the park], their life's going to resume as it was before [the way it was supposed to (didn't) after the fucking crash], it will all be okay [chanted like a litany], all okay, all fucking okay)

...that, he's good at, and the lies melt through him like butter.

Four months in and he doesn't know how long this thing will take -- JD didn't tell him, maybe didn't know, probably had estimates but wouldn't have told Cam that much anyway -- his heart just about stops every time the phone rings. If it's a telemarketer, which it usually isn't, he finds himself answering them with the same sort of barbed courtesy that JD would have used; if it's family, which it usually is, he pretends everything's okay, even (especially) if it's Momma, who knows better. If it's O'Neill, which it is once, he hears too many echoes of familiarity and too much dissonance, and when the conversation (mercifully brief) is over he goes and lies on his bed in the dark and carefully doesn't think.

And then JD calls him (and Cam almost shatters at the sound of his voice) and says it's over; and Cam calls Momma, because even though it's late as fuck she'd want to know, and then he breathes into the darkness and gets himself ready to wait some more, because he doesn't know if he has the strength but it's necessary. Necessary for him; just as necessary for JD, to have someone waiting.

And it isn't any easier.


II. Noli Me Tangere

He intends to come back /himself/, fully repaired and whole, with no traces of snakebait lying around. He manages it, sort of, but it's part mental reprogramming and part duct tape and part spit-and-prayer and part pretense. (The last is somehow a surprise without being surprising. After so long playing a role, being normal is a role in itself.) And Mitchell isn't stupid; there's empathy-without-pity playing behind the (cautious, wary) thoughtful looks he gets when Mitchell thinks he isn't aware of them. The pretense comes from both of them, and he doesn't know whether he's more grateful or resentful for Mitchell's role.

It's a complicated dance, and it's okay when both of them are awake and able to watch for any warning signs, but it /totally falls to pieces/ the first time he half-wakes to find a warm body spooned up behind him with one arm over him like a (restraint) blanket. His instincts say /safe/ but they also say /safe-is-not-safe/ and they say /snakes are everywhere/ and he fights, trying to get away. The bit of him awake enough to know it's Mitchell (my rock and my foundation) is overpowered by the need to get away, by the blind throat-tightening not-panic that says /you don't always know when it's a snake/, and he fights dirty and hard--

(this, a land mine he had dealt with, only apparently he hadn't, not well enough, not enough that it didn't leave fucking /shrapnel/)

--and Mitchell, damn him, doesn't let go, doesn't give him space, just holds him all the tighter against the thrashing. He knows Mitchell's awake, knows he knows better, what the fuck.

"Off," he manages to gasp. Command and plea and warning all twined together: get the fuck away before I fucking hurt you.

"I got you," Mitchell says, and holds on.


He spits out a litany oif swear words -- more than that, swear /phrases/ -- in about seven different languages, because fuck it all he's /freaking out/ (promised he wouldn't, just goes to show how much his damn promises are worth) and he has enough advantages over Mitchell -- youth, strength, special ops training from another lifetime, a body that isn't broken even if his mind might be -- that he could get away, but only by hurting Mitchell. and that is maybe the one thing that can /stop/ him.

Does. Might not have.

He forces himself to relax, to not fight. Can't stop the quiet shaking that follows, but that can't be helped. "Stupid," he says finally, meaning a thousand things.

"Yeah," Mitchell acknowledges. His hand finds the earth-glyph tattoo, strokes over it, unerring despite the darkness. You're home now, that caress means.

Home is not safe.

Nowhere's safe, any more. Diagnosis is Jumpy; Cause: More Snakes Under Pillow, and of /course/ his fucking brain is fucking coming up with fucking acronyms even now. (Safety valve, he doesn't let himself think.)

He goes to the bathroom, splashes water on his face. Pretends he isn't listening for the slow thump-shuffle that means Mitchell is following him, at least as far as the doorway. Looks in the mirror, and despite knowing where he is, for half a second what he sees is Delta. The flash-vision is gone even before he can tell whether he saw it in his own face or Mitchell's.

"Go back to bed," he says, meaning: I'll be fine.

Mitchell nods (face says liar and also I love you) and doesn't move.

He wants to sleep on the couch, where Mitchell (can't touch him) will be safe. That's not a victory, though. Defeat. Can't let the snakes win. Can't let the land mines win.

He hasn't told (anyone) Mitchell much about what happened, even the parts that aren't so far classified he'll be shot for treason if he ever /thinks/ about them again, but when they both end up back in bed, closer than his instincts like him to be (snake / notsnake / how can you tell / shut the fuck up all of you), he finds himself tracing patterns into the skin of Mitchell's arm and back, telling the story in a way that doesn't translate into words. He knows Mitchell doesn't understand, but it's not for Mitchell that he's doing it.

It's for himself. To prove that touch does not equal danger, does not equal snake. Maybe it won't work, but maybe it will.

And when he's done, he ends with a pattern that Mitchell /will/ recognize (love), and Mitchell smiles and doesn't touch him.


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