Title: Cause Momma Said So
Series: Stargate SG-1
Summery: Thanksgiving at the Mitchell house.
What Was Meant Chapters
Chapter One //Chapter Two //Chapter Three
Chapter Four //Chapter Five //Chapter Six
Chapter Seven //Chapter Eight //Chapter Nine
Chapter Four //Chapter Five //Chapter Six
Chapter Seven //Chapter Eight //Chapter Nine
“C’mon, Doc. I swear. It doesn’t hurt that bad!”
Cameron Mitchell was trying with every thing he had to stare down the surprisingly formidable Dr. Lam. But she wasn’t backing down. She had his file in hand and was very stubbornly refusing to clear him for off-world travel. A ridge of high pressure had blown in over the mountain, and with the change in weather had come a low and insistent ache that spread through Cameron’s back like a plague of crab grass. He tried to ignore it but Dr Lam had gotten to know him just a little too well and when he shied away from a routine check up, she’d grounded him right off.
He wasn’t giving up easy, though. “I’ll pop a couple pain killers and—”
“Go home,” she cut him off with a stern frown, throwing her arm out to point at the door. “I don’t want to hear another word of argument, Colonel. You’re not fit for off-world activity today. We’ll take another look when the pain fades.”
Cameron resigned himself to being left behind–though the mission wasn’t a dangerous one, just lengthy, and he totally could have handled it even with the aches–and instead headed straight to Vala to tell her to forget the babysitter, he’s taking the weekend off and the baby’s coming home with him. It went over all right; no one had a problem leaving her with any team member, they were all family. Almost as an after thought he stopped in and invited Elizabeth to come by as well.
That part took some swinging, but Cameron’s a smooth talker when he needs to be and sore back or not he’s a goods hot and that was enough to assure the bosses that he’d be fine if things went wrong some how. He just didn’t mention Sorcia was going to be there and made noises about feeling like he might need a hand if the weather got any worse. It was a tough sell but he managed it.
He made a point of stopping by the supermarket before picking the baby up, not bothering to argue when Elizabeth offered to carry everything. She seemed to sense the tenseness in him, to see the hesitation in his movements. He didn’t know if she knew about the way his body still rebelled against him sometimes, reminded him of old pains that he wished he could just forget, but he was endlessly glad when all he saw and heard from her was concern. No pity from Elizabeth, she wasn’t the sort, and it was just one of hundreds of reasons he loved her.
The only thing here fused to let her carry for him, was Sorcia herself. When they collected her, Cameron stubbornly set the cheerfully babbling baby on his hip and talked at her like nothing was wrong a tall. Because she was too young to understand why Uncle Cam couldn’t carry her around like usual and he loved her just enough that he’d put up with any pain
He didn’t miss the sympathetic look from Sam, though, while she and Elizabeth collected everything. He didn’t miss the way she winced when he did, the way she cocked her head when he sat on the arm of her couch just to take some of the pressure off his spine. He had to give her a firm look, bordering on a glare, when she almost made a comment, just to keep her from actually getting it out. He wasn’t ready to admit that yeah, it was killing him and he probably shouldn’t be taking care of the baby. But Sam glanced at Elizabeth, concern in her eyes, fear, hesitation, and Cameron really did glare at her. He trusted Elizabeth. Trusted her not to hurt him, hurt Sorcia, or even cause any trouble after he vouched for her. He won’t stand for having that trust questioned.
Sam looked away, and Cameron plastered a smile on his face, shifting his hold on the baby.
“Well. Are you ready to get out of here, Princess? Uncle Cam’s got a whole weekend and then some of fun for you. Because me an old Doctor Lam doesn’t believe him.” But he can’t hide the wince a she stands and his back protests doing it under the extra weight of his niece.
“Are you sure you can handle her?” Sam asks, and Cameron notices the way Elizabeth rolls her eyes.
“I wouldn’t have offered if I didn’t think I could.” Then heads quickly: “Besides, Beth’s going to be there to help me out.”
Sam obviously held back a frown, and Elizabeth grinned behind her. “I’ll meet you in the car, Cameron,” she said quietly. After the door closed behind her, Sam was at Cameron’s side, frown out in full force.
“Cam, are you sure about this?”
“Yes, Sam.” He rolled his eyes at her. “I’m sure about this. She’s not going to—”
“No. No, that’s not what I mean.” Her expression softened and she laid a hand on his shoulder. “It’s just, last time she… Cam, she broke your heart last time. I just don’t want to see you go through that again.”
Cameron couldn’t help but smile. He shifted Sorcia out of the way, and kissed Sam’s forehead. “Thanks, but I’ve got this. You be careful this weekend.” Without another word, he followed Elizabeth out. The two of them fell into a comfortable silence as they settled the baby in the back seat and drove to his apartment. Elizabeth made a few light hearted comments about his building–“A little on the shabby side, isn’t it?” and “Do you really have to live on the top floor?”–and he responded in kind–“Girl, you haven’t seen shabby,” and “Yes, I have to live on the top floor.”– carrying the baby upon his hip.
They were just getting into the apartment when Cameron’s phone rang. As in convenient as the timing was, he had to answer it. It took some juggling, but the baby was passed off into Elizabeth’s arms and the cell was fished out of his pocket. “Mitchell.”
“Cameron, honey, is that any way to answer a phone?”
He melted into an easy laugh, showing Elizabeth where to put things down with broad gestures. “Hey, Momma. What’s up?”
“Just wondering when we can expect you. And did you need someone to meet you at the airport or are you driving out?”
“Expect me?” Cameron went still, racked his mind for any commitment he might have made for the weekend anytime in the previous year – Momma had a memory like a steel trap – and came up blank. What he did come up with was that no matter what it was, he probably couldn’t worm his way out of it. It wouldn’t have been right to try either. If he’d made a commitment, he ought to follow through.
There was nothing but affectionate exasperation in Momma’s voice when she answered. “It’s Thanksgiving weekend, Cameron.”
He froze, then, earning him a curious look from Elizabeth as he said: “Oh crap.”
“You didn’t forget, did you?”
“Uh…yeah, actually. I did. I’m sorry, Momma. I’ve got company this weekend.” He moved into the other room while he spoke. “Elizabeth’s….back, staying over for the weekend. And I don’t know that she can handle the family. She’s had a bit of a rough time lately.”
“Nonsense,” Momma informed him, no room for argument there. “A good family weekend will do her a world of good.”
“Cameron Sunshine Mitchell, are you trying to get out of this weekend?”
Cameron wanted to knock his head against the wall. “No, ma’am.”
“Good. You pack her, and whoever else you’ve got around, up and get your skinny little butt out here.”
“I’ll see you soon, dear.” And with that she hung up on him. It was brisk and final and Momma. And Cameron knew he was going to do as she said, because sixteen or thirty-six made no difference to Wendy Mitchell. He’d be in for a reaming if he wasn’t there, with at least Elizabeth in tow. So he sighed, straightened his back the best he could suffer, swept back into the living room to his girls. He stopped and smiled when the image that greeted him was Elizabeth sitting on the couch and holding Sorcia against her shoulder. Not even a complaint at the growing dampness of baby-slobber on her blouse. He almost didn’t want to interrupt.
But he did. “So. Turns out it’s Thanksgiving weekend.”
Elizabeth glanced up at him, eyes wide and curious. “All right.”
“I’ve got to drive to Kansas.” Her expression almost fell, but Cameron hurried on with a smile before it could entirely. “Momma says you’re to come along. I’d suggest not arguing with her. Actual relation means very little to the woman.”
She laughed, light and easy, rising and strolling over to kiss his cheek gently. “I’d love to go along. Are we taking the baby back home, then?”
“Not a chance.” One arm wound around Elizabeth’s waist and he grinned. Leaning back into the wall, he rested his other hand on Sorcia’s back. “I was kind of looking forward to playing house with you. We’re just gonna play in Kansas.”
“In your mother’s house.”
“In my Momma’s house.” He nodded, still grinning. She just shook her head and kissed him again. Cameron stayed where he was just long enough for the ache in his back to dull, then he was in motion again, making quick work of packing. He ignored Elizabeth’s watchful eye, always anticipating an offer of help that never came. He would never understand why she didn’t offer, never had, everyone else did. With the exception of his family, who knew better, who knew a little accident didn’t make him incapable and if he needed, he’d ask. Somehow Elizabeth understood that too.
There was no question that they would pile back into the car as soon as they were ready – what groceries needed to be put away, double checking everything was off, they could stop for food on the way – and Cameron only took a moment to take some painkillers and pocket the bottle after sending Elizabeth out with Sorcia. There was just as little question that Elizabeth would drive. Eight hours was too long for Cameron to stand, and he needed to be able to turn when Sorcia needed him. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust Elizabeth to take care of it, just that he was Uncle Cam, and that baby was the only one he got to see on a regular basis. It was his job to look after her. And he loved his job.
Stops for lunch, supper, gas, snacks, were made along the way, always accompanied by a short walk, a diaper change, another round of painkillers. It was well past sundown when Cameron took over the wheel to navigate the last stretch of country roads. The Mitchell farm wasn’t somewhere anyone could give directions to in the dark. But Cameron could still feel the exact distance he was driving with out having to see landmarks.
The house was surrounded by cars, the house was buzzing with life as they gathered up their things and the baby.
“Listen,” Cameron said, Sorcia sleeping against his shoulder, as he led the way up the gravel walk. He was carrying their bags as well, the ache in his back down to tolerable and knowing that Momma would give him one hell of a lecture if he let Elizabeth do it. “There are a lot of people around here this weekend. If you need a break or anything, let me know. We can drive into town for however long you need, okay?”
Elizabeth smiled, hand on his elbow as they walked up the gravel pathway. “I think I’ll be all right. Thank you, though.”
“I mean it, Beth. There’re a lot of us on occasions like this. We’ve lost better than you to the chaos.” He stopped her hand as she reached to knock on the door, or ring the bell, while she laughed.
“You’re saying there are better than me, Colonel Mitchell? Aren’t you supposed to think I’m the best there is?”
“Yes ma’am.” He just grinned back, nudging her ahead as he opened the door. Then he was calling out, above the swell of conversation, laughter, clattering that confronted them: “Hello!” It was unlikely he was heard by many, the noise so enveloping. Cameron noticed the way Elizabeth shrank back a step behind him, positioning herself nearly out of view of the rest of the house. And so he carefully set their things down, caught her hand, and squeezed reassuringly. He knew there was no way to properly warn anyone about the full force of the Mitchell Family, but maybe, maybe if he could get Elizabeth to relax, things wouldn’t go badly.
A small herd of children, five or so, and two of them were actually teenagers, came barreling down the stairs, shrieking with laughter and playful yells. The moment Cameron was spotted, there was a resounding cry of “Uncle Cam!” and two bodies flew into his legs. He stumbled, letting Elizabeth go to support Sorcia as he wobbled but didn’t fall.
Elizabeth’s hand came to his back to support him as he broke out into quiet laughter. He knew he should have expected; he was a favourite among the children of the family and didn’t see them as often as anyone would have liked.
“Spawn!” Cameron elated. “Let go of me before I fall.” One did, announcing he was going to tell Grandma that Cameron was there, but the other clung on. He just ruffled her hair, trying to catch a glimpse of her face, just to identify which niece (or second cousin, third cousin, it didn’t matter they were all lumped under the same title the same way he was) had decided to take his limb hostage. From above, any the same age range and hair colour were nearly always identical. With no luck, he shrugged and gave the brown pigtails a tug. “Look at me.”
A true Mitchell child, always obedient to anyone not her parents, she did, and Cameron’s grin broadened. The youngest of the immediate family, little Sherry was the only grandchild of Cameron’s generation and was all of three years old. The day she was born, she’d been his favourite. She’d never known Uncle Cam the pilot, only Uncle Cam who missed more get-togethers than he attended, but was always on hand for a good story or to braid Barbie’s hair when he was there.
“Sherry-Lynn Mitchell, when the hell did you get so big?” he teased, bending and planting a loud kiss on her head.
Sherry giggled and clung to his leg tighter; Cameron shrugged and with a gesture for Elizabeth to follow and the other three children to precede, headed into the living room with his free arm thrown out to his side for balance. The room erupted into a brief moment of greeting, everyone going right back to their conversations a second later. Quickly as possible, Cameron made his way to his niece and presented the child on his leg.”
“Chris, take your spawn. Where’s Grandma?”
“Nice to see you too,” he got instead of an answer as he was calmly removed from his leech.
“I’ll be pleasant later. Grandma?”
“Kitchen. Who’s your shadow?”
Cameron glanced back at Elizabeth, still hovering a step behind him and offers her a smile. “Introductions will come with pleasantness.”
“I suppose the explanation of why you’re toting around a baby will come with that, too?”
Christina rolled her eyes, similar to Cameron’s, all Mitchells came with those eyes, but she’d been blessed with her mother’s blonde hair. Cameron also knew that if she stood, she would be nearly of a height with him. She’d also gotten her father’s sasquatch-esque height. He was about to snark, to tell her she wasn’t too old to sell to that nice Russian couple down the road, she’d probably get a good price now that she’s fully grown. But his mother’s voice rang over the noise of conversation, calling his name. It was a summons, and the whole room knew it, several people giving him looks like he was about to walk into his death. One of his sisters even rose and saluted him.
Cameron frowned, shifted his hold on the miraculously still sleeping baby in his arms, found his hold on Elizabeth’s hand again, took a breath and again they were moving. He shrugged off a few curious looks, a few pointed glances to Sorcia. All too soon he was pushing through the swinging kitchen door. He didn’t know what he did, could only hope that with a baby exhausted from travel and a girlfriend, and Elizabeth was absolutely his girlfriend, who everyone had been dying to meet, he could avoid being yelled at.
“Hey, Momma,” he said, smiling brightly and going right over to the counter to kiss his mother’s cheek. “Sorry we’re late.”
There was fire in Momma’s eyes but a smile on her face when she turned to greet him. “It’s all right, Cameron.” There wasn’t even a pause as she reached up to brush wispy hair away from Sorcia’s forehead and said: “And who is this? Something you’re not telling us?”
He smiled and shook his head, shifting his hold again. “No ma’am. Just babysitting. Her Momma’s off… on a business trip.” The look he got for the stumble let him know that she didn’t believe a word of what he said to her but she understood that she couldn’t ask. Cameron had never been able to talk about his work. “You remember Vala?” he went on, instead. “This little princess is hers. And this is Elizabeth Weir.”
Wendy Mitchell wasn’t so easily distracted, but she was polite. She smiled brilliantly, announcing how nice it was to finally meet Elizabeth, asking if she’d like anything to drink – Elizabeth accepted the offer of coffee gratefully and Cameron couldn’t help but grin –, and making a few lightly teasing comments about putting up with her son. Very quickly Elizabeth was more relaxed and not clinging to Cameron’s hand like he was a lifeline and she was drifting in space. Momma got her sitting down at the kitchen table with coffee and somewhere in the process of it all plucked Sorcia right out of Cameron’s arms without so much as a word about it.
For once, Cameron didn’t complain about someone taking his girl from him. And she was his girl until he had kids of his own, which he didn’t exactly expect to happen in the near future. But Momma knew what she was doing, and even when Sorcia woke up, she was just given a cookie to gnaw on and sat on Momma’s lap contentedly. It wasn’t long, though, before Cameron got fed up with all the girl-talk and gushing and was dying to know why, exactly, he was in the kitchen when he could be spending time with the family.
“Not to interrupt,” he spoke up, doing exactly that. “But why’d you call us in here? I know it’s not just to get your hands on my girls before anyone else. What’s going on?”
Momma didn’t even look up from her drink, the way her shoulders tightened made it obvious she wasn’t pleased about something. “Your sister’s on the back porch.”
“Which one?” He had three. He thought back a moment to the living room, tried to remember which one she’d seen. He was pretty sure both his older sisters were out there, so: “Kelsey?”
“Yes, Kelsey. I want you to go on out there and talk some sense into her.”
Cameron blinked, asked why, got no answer. Something was obviously up, but he knew better than to ask further and it was better to just go and do what he was told. So he sighed, nodded. He asked for the baby back, was denied, apparently Momma had decided she liked Sorcia. He asked instead for her to take care of introducing Elizabeth to the family, got assurances from Momma that it would be taken care of, and a terrified look from Elizabeth.
That look made him laugh a little, stooping to give her a quick kiss and another of his reassuring smiles. He told her not to worry, told Momma to take it easy on his woman, told the baby to be good, even though she couldn’t really understand, and then snatched himself up a cup of coffee and a handful of Momma’s cookies and ducked out the back door.
He managed to get his hands empty onto the railings before his arms were full of his squealing, excited baby sister. Fourteen years Cameron’s junior, Kelsey was the youngest of his siblings and at twenty-five was of an age with Christina. And Cameron had always been the only one who could always talk her into anything.
“You made it!” Kelsey wrapped herself right around her older brother, arms and legs, until he was flailing his arms to stay upright. “Cam, I’m so glad you’re here! I know Momma sent you to talk me out of it but I don’t care. I was afraid you weren’t going to make it again!”
Cameron just laughed and pried her off him so he could sit down in one of the well-padded deck chairs and reclaim his coffee and cookies, the latter he halved to share. “Her exact words were to come out here and talk some sense into you. What I want to know is why.”
“Oh, she’s just annoyed because I got married and didn’t tell anyone.”
The cookie stopped halfway to Cameron’s mouth and he stared. “You what?”
In the dim light of the patio, lit only from the kitchen windows and the moon rising over head, he could see his sister ducking her head and grinning as she held her hand out to him. A ring glinted on her finger and Cameron’s heart nearly stopped. His first reaction was to get angry, ask her what the hell she was thinking, but she looked so happy that he just couldn’t find it in him. Instead he sputtered.
“You’re…married.” He gave it a moment to settle in. “You’re married? And you didn’t tell anyone? What the hell were you thinking, kid?”
“I was thinking I needed to get married.”
“You absolutely did not need to get married.”
“Yes.” The look she gave him then was firm and held more conviction than she’d ever shown him. Cameron had only known her to be flighty and prone to changing her mind. “I did.”
Cameron studied her, frowning, then shook his head. “I don’t see what you’re getting at.” Though years in the future he’d be telling himself that he didn’t want to see it. “Why?”
“Oh for–” His little sister smacked him upside the head in a pure and true mimic of their mother. “Because I’m pregnant, you idiot.”
Cameron could only stare, mouth moving soundlessly. That was the least thing he’d ever expected to hear coming out of her. He felt an instant need to shoot the man who had touched her, made himself stomp down on that idea because it took two to tango and at least he wasn’t a complete ass like the guy who’d knocked up Christina. That jerk had run for the hills the second he found out, hadn’t even stuck around long enough to find out she was keeping it. Everyone in the family had had Words to say about that boy, none of them particularly flattering or for the ears of children.
Kelsey shrugged it off, brushing long hair behind her ear, smiled over at him cautiously, and Cameron melted at her. He abandoned the cookie, tossed his arm around her shoulders. She was just short enough it was comfortable, about the same height as Elizabeth he guessed, but he’d have to see them together to know for sure. It felt about the same though. Lucky for him, Kelsey looked like a feminized version of him, while Elizabeth was stupid gorgeous. No chance of mistaking them.
Her head leaned against his shoulder and she made a discontent little noise. He knew what she was thinking. They’d always been closer to each other than anyone else. She was thinking she was in a stupid situation, that she wanted to apologize for making everyone angry or annoyed or whatever they were at her, but she was too proud. She was wondering if he was disappointed in her thinking.
“Okay,” Cameron said at length, sighing the single word out and falling into a brief pause. “Here’s what were going to do. Were going to go inside. You’re going to meet my girls. You’re going to play nice with the family this weekend. You’re going to let Momma plan you a proper wedding.” His hand was over her mouth when she started protesting. “No. No, you’re going to let her do it. You know as well as I do that not a single persons going to treat this guy like your husband unless you’re married up proper. And everyone’s going to want to meet him anyway.”
“Stop right there. Rewind. Your girls?”
Cameron paused, then laughed lightly. “Yeah. My girls. You remember right after the accident, when I was seeing that woman? Beth?” When Kelsey nodded, he went on. “We’re sort of back together. I brought her and the baby along. Well. Momma made me bring her and the baby along.”
“What baby? You have a baby?” And suddenly he was being smacked upside the head again. “Cam! And you’re getting on my case? You big giant hypocri—”
He covered her mouth. “Babysitting. We’re babysitting.” He made a face and ended up wiping his hand down her sleeve when she licked his palm. “That’s disgusting. Come inside, kiddo, meet my girls, play nice.”
And inside they went, Cameron’s arm around his sister’s shoulders guiding the reluctant young woman, and she was that now, though she’d always be a little girl in Cameron’s eyes. The kitchen was empty in a way it had never felt before and Cameron had a feeling that his girls were being fed to the wolves just beyond the door. So obviously the thing for him to do was to shove Kelsey in ahead of him, heedless of her protests, she knew what was likely happening just as well as he did.
The first thing that caught his eye was that neither Momma nor Elizabeth were holding Sorcia, and Cameron’s eyes swept over the room quickly to find her. She was sitting quite contently on his niece’s lap, her name was Jessica and she belonged to one of the twins, though if anyone was to ask Cameron she was too damned pretty and she was probably actually the milk man’s. If it hadn’t been for those damned Mitchell eyes, he’d have the rest of the family believing it too.
He left the baby where she was for the time being, only because she seemed happy and Jess was a Mitchell and knew how to handle a baby. Instead he pushed Kelsey to stand in front of their mother, who had Elizabeth sitting beside her, looking nigh terrified.
“Tell her,” he commanded, putting on his best Lieutenant Colonel face and voice. He knew it didn’t really affect his sister, any of his family, the way it was intended but damn if Elizabeth didn’t look impressed by him.
“Fine,” Kelsey sighed, not really looking at Momma but she was a bright girl and knew how to make an impression in front of someone Cameron wanted her to meet. “I’m sorry, Momma. If you’d go ahead and plan us a real wedding, I’d really like that. But!” She added quickly, and Cameron was ready to strangle her for qualifying, until she went on. “You gotta do it stupid big and invite everyone we know.”
Cameron grinned, patted her head, and slid into a seat beside Elizabeth, who cast him a confused look. He shook his head, later it was saying, when there was more time to talk, and she just nodded. She was smart too, and knew when to not ask questions. Better than most, he thought.
Kelsey took up a spot at his feet, and Sorcia made her rounds being introduced to the family before she finally made her way back into Cameron’s arms. It took some time; almost everyone was there, only one twin, Seamus, he thought but it was usually hard to tell them apart, was stationed overseas and wouldn’t be back for another month. Everyone was just glad it was a safe post, not a war zone.
For the most part, though, time was spent with everyone catching up. Cameron’s oldest brother, Derek, had been promoted to head nurse at the ICU in the VA hospital right there in Topeka where he worked. His eldest sister, Marilyn, had changed jobs from Rescue Specialist to “pencil pusher,” citing she was too damn old to be leaping into icy water any more. She was first mate at her station now and loving actually being able to boss people around for a change. Emily, only a year younger and a nurse like Derek, was still going strong and had no intention of ever changing jobs. She worked family medicine over at Fort Riley, claimed it was usually quiet but intensely rewarding.
Seamus’ twin, Stephen, had yet to come home from a war tour, the tension was tight, his two children, silent and reserved, and Cameron spared a second for a silent prayer of thanks that he was all right, so far. Everyone in the room knew how dangerous it could be, and no one ever slept right when one of their own was over there. Everyone knew Emily’s eldest son would be headed out there soon enough, and no one was looking forward to another few months of restless sleep and dread every time the phone rang.
Momma handled all the news from the house itself, covering herself and Cameron’s father, as well as Christina and Sherry-Lynn. And before anyone knew it, that same little girl was falling asleep in her grandfather’s lap. Cameron was sent to tote her, and the already passed out Sorcia, downstairs to bed; Sherry insisted sleepily that he read her a story and settling her on his hip, Elizabeth following with Sorcia, Cameron was sure she wouldn’t make it more than a page.
She didn’t, and Cameron tucked Sorcia in the room with her. It’d be a hell of a run down two flights of stairs in the middle of the night if he woke up, but he didn’t feel like hauling a crib up from storage. And he might be able to get lucky with his whole family in the house, but there was no way if the baby was in the room with them. It was a fair trade. Maybe he could talk Chris into taking care of it anyway.
Moving to head back upstairs, he caught Elizabeth smiling at him from the doorway, and he couldn’t help but smile back. “What?
“Nothing,” she shook her head, stepping up and sliding her arms around his shoulders. “I just didn’t realize how good with children you are.”
He laughed quietly, hands falling to her hips and guiding her back out of the room. “Yeah, well, Sherry’s family; I hardly get to see her, got to make a good impression when I do.”
“Mmhm. And can I ask why you put the baby all the way down here? I don’t assume we’ll be sleeping in the basement.”
Cameron just grinned and pushed her gently up the stairs. “Sometimes playing house means we get some alone time.” Apparently Elizabeth picked up on what that meant, because she laughed in a not-quite scandalized way and smacked absently at him.
“Good luck with that, Colonel.” But nothing about her tone made him think she’d be earnestly saying no later.
Then it was back to the mess of people overwhelming the living room. Kelsey was back at his feet, and Daddy kept watching him and Elizabeth together with a thoughtful kind of look and Cameron knew that they’d be having a talk soon enough. Daddy was the sort of man to just sit back and watch things, never bothering to break over the noise, until he had some thoughts worth sharing. And ho-boy, when Daddy spoke up, everyone listened.
Slowly the rest of the family started drifting off, most heading home for the night, others up or downstairs to bed. As it turned out it was easy to convince Christina to keep an ear out for Sorcia, once Cameron promised he’d whip her up a raspberry pie before he left, despite the fruit being out of season. He got a few looks from departing relatives that screamed they knew what was on his mind. In no time, even Momma had gone into bed and it was just Daddy left in the living room with Cameron and Elizabeth.
Tension was back in Elizabeth’s shoulders, and Cameron just put his arm snugly around her, supportive and hoping to be relaxing. Daddy didn’t speak right off, just watching the two of them, and Cameron quickly got impatient with the waiting and just spoke up.
“You look happy,” Daddy said plainly, and Cameron relaxed even as he could feel the confusion radiating off Elizabeth.
“Not worried?” Eyes darted to Elizabeth, almost too quickly to notice.
Again, eyes were on Elizabeth, and she shifted uncomfortably under the scrutiny and Cameron’s arm. “I’m sorry,” she said, hesitant in a way Cameron wasn’t accustomed to. “But what exactly is going on? I feel like I’ve been put on display all of a sudden.”
Both Cameron and his father laughed quietly, both knowing that with so many around for the weekend, no one’s attention lingered long in any one place.
“It’s all right,” Cameron assured her. “Not really something we should be discussing here.”
Elizabeth didn’t buy it, that much was obvious, and Daddy just laughed again, slowly and carefully making his way to his feet and Cameron made no move to help, was proud that Elizabeth was perfectly still as well. Somehow she really did know just how to act and react and it left Cameron wondering if she’d grown up around someone with a disability of if she was just really adaptable.
Daddy stopped beside them, ruffled Cameron’s hair fondly and, with one hand on her shoulder for balance, leaned down to kiss Elizabeth’s forehead. “Nice to have you around, Elizabeth.”
She just blinked up at him, surprise clear in her expression though she was smiling. “Thank you, Mr. Mitchell.”
“Call me Frank,” was all he said before shuffling off to bed.
Another confused look from Elizabeth, another laugh from Cameron, and he was ushering her upstairs. The ache in his back had faded enough he barely noticed it, didn’t feel a twinge with every movement, and he forgot about it bothering him all together. He showed Elizabeth the way to his bedroom, and it was and would always be his, hadn’t changed since he was seventeen and he loved coming home to it. There were nothing but good memories in that room. And with any luck he’d be making more.
Elizabeth asked what everything was about downstairs, Cameron brushed it off, didn’t answer, got faces made at him in return. He made her another promise that it was all right, nothing to worry about. Promised it was only good, and that everyone seemed to like her, especially his father and by the same time tomorrow, the man would have swayed anyone who didn’t. Daddy held that sort of power, even when it always looked like it was Momma who did.
He put on some moves, it wasn’t anything special, but she laughed quietly and slunk up against him, teased him about lame moves. But in the end, he didn’t let it bother him, because he was getting lucky after all. Come morning, he shuffled downstairs at sunrise, found Christina sitting at the kitchen table with Sorcia sound asleep in her arms. His poor niece looked exhausted, but she smiled at him when he came in.
“You look happy.”
“I had a good night.”
“That’s disgusting, Uncle Cam. Never share with me again.”
He laughed then, fixing a cup of coffee before going to sit beside her, retrieving the baby. “You look like crap,” he commented lightly, sipping his coffee and settling Sorcia against his chest.
“That demon-spawn kept me up half the night,” she said with a finger stabbed in the now peaceful child’s direction. “Crying and whining and throwing tantrums while you’re up there getting laid. Which is disgusting. I can’t think about your sex life this early in the morning. You’re lucky Sherry could sleep through a twister. I’m moving that damned crib upstairs for you today.”
“I’ll do it. And make it up to you.” Sorcia stirred and he shushed her expertly. He knew how to handle his girl. She settled again, gnawing on his t-shirt in her sleep. “Anything you want, Chris. I mean it.”
She just rolled her eyes, stole his coffee, smiled as the back door opened and two men entered. Trace and Ty, Momma and Daddy’s farmhands, heading straight for the coffee pot, bright smiles and quiet laughs in their voices. Both old friends of Cameron, working around the farm since they were teenagers, they greeted him cheerfully, teased him about Sorcia, teased him about still not being married, that his baby sister had beat him to the punch, and Cameron just shook his head and asked after their families.
One by one the rest of the family started to wake up, make their way to the kitchen, Momma starting breakfast for everyone and recruiting Cameron and Christina both to help her – “You look nice and awake,” she’d said before setting them to work.
Elizabeth woke late, before the few teenagers remaining in the house but after the rest of them. Momma had left breakfast to her helpers, starting on Thanksgiving dinner. With as many as would be joining them, it was an all day, two oven task. The rest of the family was trickling in by noon and Cameron found a very overwhelmed Elizabeth in the kitchen listening politely to Stephen and the two brothers-in-law bicker over one thing or another. He didn’t bother paying attention, shifting Sorcia – whom he’d been carrying around all day just to make sure she didn’t disappear in the mess of people – to his hip, catching his poor woman’s hand, and pulling her out the back door.
“Oh, thank god,” she sighed the moment they were away from the house. Then she was smacking his shoulder. “Don’t just leave me alone with your family.”
Cameron could only laugh, caught her around the waist, stopped walking long enough to kiss her. Briefly, though, because aside from Sorcia sitting happily on his hip, the backyard was filled with children and teenagers, most chasing down a herd of sheep. Just beyond the first of many fences before the property ended was a small group of the eldest neices and nephews, coming back from a ride. Trace and Ty not too much further off, feeding pigs, and their children had joined the Mitchells in sheep-chasing for the day, all of them under the watchful eyes of Marylin and the still exhausted Christina.
“And don’t think you can ply me with kisses,” Elizabeth added when he released her and Cameron only laughed again.
“Yes ma’am.,” he said smartly, then: “So what do you think?”
“About your family? I think you should have told me there was roughly a thousand of them.”
“Come on now. There aren’t that many of us. This is just the immediate family. Well. Trace’s and Ty’s families too. It could be so much worse.”
Elizabeth stopped in her tracks, stared at him. “How big is your family?”
He had to stop and think about it a moment, shifting his weight from side to side to keep Sorcia moving. It kept her calm, not screaming. Like her uncle, she wasn’t fond of being still for long. “Not sure, exactly. A hundred and change, maybe.” At her saucer-eyes, he continued. “But that’s including everyone. Second cousins, great aunts, what have you. We just have the biggest part of the family, is all.”
After a moment, Elizabeth just huffed and thwapped him again. “You also could have warned me they were all crazy.”
“Woah now. That much you could have guessed, little miss Ph.D. These are the people I grew up with.” That got annoyed grumbles, and Cameron counted that as a win, grinned, bounced Sorcia a little. “What do you say, princess? Should we take Auntie Beth to see the ponies?”
Sorcia squealed, flailed fat little arms at him, hit him with more frequency than he would have liked, but she was just a baby, it could hardly hurt, and so he just brushed it off and swung her up to sit on his shoulders. Tossing another grin at Elizabeth, he started off across the grass, leaving her to follow or go back to the family. She followed without hesitation.
The kids were just finishing settling the horses back in when Cameron led his girls into the barn. Every Mitchell was taught from a young age how to properly take care of the animals. They had to. Breeding those animals was what sustained his parents (padded by a nice pension from the government). It was a good business, with Trace and Ty around to lend their hands, Christina and her accounting certificate to keep a handle on the finances, everyone out for a visit doing whatever they could to lighten the load, things were going well for them. And Cameron figured if Sorcia was family, and if Elizabeth was going to be family (she would be if he had any say in the matter), they’d best be learning some farming ways.
He shooed one of the kids back to the house with orders to help with setting the table. Then Sorcia was pulled back down into his arms, carried her right up and let her investigate the horse. She was fascinated, babbling at the animal, squealing giggles when it sniffed at her.
“He looks like he’s going to eat her,” Elizabeth commented from the stable door, obviously staying a safe distance.
“She,” Cameron simply corrected. “And she’s checking for treats. Because she’s spoiled.” Which was followed by a fond pat to the horse’s neck.
He glanced back at her, smiled. “Come here,” he said gently. “Perfectly safe.”
“I’m not frightened,” Elizabeth protested immediately. “I lived in At—” sudden stop, look around at the other teenagers, a shrug. “Well. You know. My point is: I’m not afraid.”
“Uh huh,” Cameron smirked, shifted Sorcia higher when her squirming made her slip down in his grip. “Then come hold this while I finish brushing her down.”
She hesitated then, but just briefly before she was setting her jaw and taking Sorcia from him. She looked ridiculously awkward, not dressed even remotely for farm work, still unsure of herself with the baby, and Cameron could only chuckle, stole a kiss.
“City girl,” he teased, then he was ducking around to finish brushing the horse down, launched into a detailed explanation of what the farm was – so much more than a business, it was the only family property big enough to hold them all – and what everyone did. Before long she was more comfortable with the squirming baby and the horse and Jessica was coming out to call them in for dinner.
“Brace yourself,” Cameron murmured as they approached the house. The noise upon stepping inside was near-deafening, much like the night before when they’d arrived. The kitchen was a bustle of activity, Momma at the stove directing everyone calmly.
“Cameron!” she snapped at him without even glancing his way. “Would you and Elizabeth sit between Alison and Sam, please? They’re bickering about something or other and I do not want any arguments over dinner. Thank you, dear.” Not even a chance to get a word in and that was par for the course as far as Cameron was concerned.
“Yes, ma’am,” he called back over the noise, led a nervous looking Elizabeth to the dining room. Which was as bad as the kitchen. The long table was filled with food and people and conversations blurred together in the bustle. Erica, Jessica’s older sister and Seamus’ eldest child, pointed them at chairs and ordered them to sit down and shut up.
“This is insane,” Elizabeth murmured, leaning in close just to be heard, when they sat.
“I told you to brace yourself.” His attention snapped around to a pair of boys getting rough with one another at the other end of the table. “Hey! Cut it out you monkeys!”
The pair calmed immediately and before their impatience could start up again, Momma was coming out with turkey and everyone paused only long enough for grace to be said before they fell upon dinner like a pack of hungry dogs. The noise level didn’t decrease by much but enough that everyone was more or less on one conversation at either end of the table. Everyone within earshot of Elizabeth was asking questions about her, her family, her job, and Cameron could do nothing to stop them. As much as he tried when they started getting into things they could never get answers for, his efforts were ignored and he quickly gave up and let Elizabeth field them. She seemed much more comfortable dealing with the barrage of questions than she had at any other moment since they’d arrived.
Most of the teenagers cleared out of the room the moment the meal was finished, off to play video games or watch movies or whatever his nieces and nephews did to entertain themselves nowadays. Cameron realized he was kind of out of touch with them that he didn’t actually know, thought he’d have to get a few good catch up conversations in before Christmas season rolled around if he wanted to be able to do any of his shopping. And he knew Momma would say not to bother buying for everyone, but that would never stop him from doing so.
The adults sat around the table for a while longer, talking and laughing over coffee and Sam and Alison didn’t make up through it and their fight was a heavy air over everyone else. Mostly ignored, but everyone knew it was present. The little kids came in and climbed over favourite parents, favourite aunts or uncles, and Cameron ended up with Sherry on his lap and refusing to be moved until Christina sent her off to bed.
Slowly, so slowly, the house quieted down, emptied out as once again everyone started heading home or to wherever they were staying. No one was in a rush to part ways, most on their way back home come morning, spreading across the country as they were through most of the year. But tired children, grouchy teenagers, late hours had them leaving with hugs, kisses, promises of phone calls or emails within the next week. Invitations that were still standing from the last gathering for visits and new ones started to emerge. Especially with Elizabeth.
Cameron made sure to kiss every niece and nephew that he knew he wouldn’t see again until Christmas. When it came to Stephen’s two children, Veronica and Alan, he leaned down to their level.
“You need anything, you call me okay. Night or day, you call me. Your Dad is going to be okay,” he said bringing Veronica into his arms. The teenage girl nodded, the tears that had been threatening to fall since she’d arrived in Auburn, started to leak out. “Take care of your sister,” he said to the younger boy, Alan.
“I will. Bye Uncle Cam,” the two kids chorused
“Bye Kiddo,” Cameron smiled before moving onto Crystal, Stephen’s wife. “The moment. I mean the moment you hear anything, call me. Don’t let the base say I’m busy, tell them to get a hold of me wherever I am and I’ll be back.”
“I will,” Crystal smiled giving Cameron a hug. “You take care of yourself. I’ll see you come Christmas.”
“Christmas,” Cameron smiled giving her one more kiss on the cheek.
Once the goodbyes were said, Cameron’s arm circled Elizabeth’s waist, guiding her into the house. Sorcia asleep in Daddy’s arms, everyone said goodbye to him before heading outside. Momma was outside giving a few last goodbyes, making sure the kids were buckled into the cars, and that everyone was safe enough to drive. Christina was putting the last few dishes away in the kitchen, as Sherry tried her hardest to keep her eyes open.
“Okay, I’ll take her upstairs,” Cameron said reaching for the baby, who had Frank’s shirt pulled into her mouth.
“Leaving in the morning son?” Frank asked as he lifted the child to his child.
“Yup. Gotta get back,” Cameron said rubbing Sorcia’s belly as she fussed a bit.
“Before your mother comes back, call more son, she doesn’t need another son to worry about.”
“I will. Whenever I can,” Cameron promised adjusting Sorcia who started to fuss more. “Ssh Princess.”
A few last goodnights and the remaining members of the Mitchell hour moved into their beds, Cameron full knowing that sleep was the last thing he was going to get that night. Sorcia missed her Mommy, she never went more than a day without seeing her, and now it was two days. That and leaving before dawn to get back to Colorado Springs before they gated in was going to be an adventure.
Morning came and went, and saying goodbye to Momma took longer than he anticipated. She insisted on packing them some left over turkey sandwhiches, and making both Elizabeth and Cameron promise they’d be back and would keep in touch.
Arriving in the Springs just in time, Cameron put Sorcia into her crib in Daniel’s apartment just as the door opened and SG-1 walked in.
“Where is she?” Vala asked dropping her bag and looking a Cameron.
“Just fell asleep,” he said pointing back to the nursery. “I didn’t think you guys were coming back so soon.”
“Decided to gate in early,” Daniel replied looking around his apartment. “It looks like the same…”
“Oh yeah…That’s cause we didn’t stay here,” Cameron said pointing to Sorcia’s bag sitting on the floor by the laundry hamper. “Oh, and what are you all doing the May long weekend?”
“Nothing planet yet, why?” Daniel asked as Vala walked out of sight and towards the nursery. She just had to make sure her daughter was all right.
“My sister is getting married, and Momma wants to see Sorcia again, and it’s a long story,” Cameron said plopping himself down on the couch
“Again?” Vala asked standing looking at him. Oh boy, he should have known better than to mess with a Momma.