Actions

Work Header

Poetically Pathetic

Work Text:

04. First

XXXXX

Evan called himself nothing if not vigilant and cautious.  He was a soldier, a damn good one, and he had gotten there by doing everything by the book.  Everything.

Shy of stunning McKay on “accident” (and hell, even Sheppard looked like he wanted to do it, too), he was a model soldier and did everything he could to take the heat off Sheppard’s shoulders.  Sure, it meant that his team was pretty much reduced to milk runs, follow-ups on first contact missions, and the occasional bail-out for other teams, but that was just fine so long as his CMO was in good shape and ready to lead without worrying about supply runs.

The latter of the three was the mission he was on now, and it really wasn’t going well.  SGA-5 was on a supposed milk run that had gone belly up when Staff Sgt. Andrews had accidentally placed a foot on some kind of sacred ground, and only made worse when Dr. Hildebrand—supposedly a doctor of anthropology; Evan was starting to doubt it—tried to explain their lack of reverence for the sacred ground since it wasn’t something they worshiped, and they really shouldn’t be punished for not believing in the same theology.

For an expert on human development and cultural evolution, Dr. Hildebrand could use a decent lesson in fucking tact.  He had a feeling she was probably getting just that right now.

Evan pinched his nose.  At the moment, they at least had gotten most of the members of SGA-5 back without involving Sheppard and or any other teams.  Sheppard’s team was investigating a potential Ancient outpost that had some promise for them to at least salvage parts that were desperately needed.  It had been over a year since they had arrived, and parts were burning out faster than they could replace them.

He felt a tug on his tac vest.  He raised an eyebrow as he turned to find Dr. Parrish looking at him and holding up some plant that looked a little like a cross between a pansy and a daffodil that grew from a cacti-like plant.

“Do you know what this is?” Parrish asked, and honestly, Evan wasn’t sure he cared.

“No, not really,” Evan responded politely but brusquely.  “You know what I do know?”

Parrish looked at him a bit warily.  “More with the life-signs detector, less with the plants?”

Evan waved at him in a “scurry away” motion.  “Good scientist; let me know if you can find our people using that thing.”

“It’s not specific to our people’s life signs,” Parrish grumbled as he turned away, but obediently began tinkering with the device.  “Maybe heat?”

Evan, meanwhile, hadn’t missed the slightly hurt look on Parrish’s face.  He sighed and told himself it was the dismissal that Parrish wasn’t used to, and not Evan’s careless directive to just get on with it.  Civilians just didn’t understand sometimes, Evan thought, but he picked up the discarded plant Parrish had put on the ground, eyeballing it and trying to figure out what had the botanist so intrigued.

Hours later (and covered in some kind of heat-resistant mud that was, frankly, fucking freezing but Parrish insisted would help clear up some of the LSD readings) and trudging through the gate, Evan was determined to figure out the stupid cactus pans-a-dill plant.

Sheppard’s amused look didn’t help, and, though it was rare, Evan wanted to wipe it off with his fist. He had no such compunction with McKay and “accidentally” flung a handful of mud at him.

He didn’t miss Parrish’s snort or the look of appreciation on the other man’s face.

XXXXX

It was another six hours before Evan could try finding one of the other botanists to ask them about the plant.  He had spent the time writing up his AAR, taking a shower that, no matter what he did, would only come out ice-cold (okay, so maybe next time, he shouldn’t fling mud at McKay), and getting a solid nap.

It was just his luck that McKay was in the botany lab to discuss their power requirements and the possibility of a hydroponics bay for food with Katie Brown.  He waited patiently, ignoring the way McKay smugly grinned at him.

“You look a bit chilled, Major; everything okay in your room?” McKay asked, clearly not able to keep his tone from matching his smirk.

“Tip-top shape,” Evan responded automatically with an easy grin that he had learned through Sheppard would just piss him off more but leave him unable to do any more damage.

McKay huffed as the corners of his mouth turned down.  “Right then; I should probably keep on with this.  What are you doing here anyway?”

“Just some after-mission inquiries; I was actually hoping to borrow Dr. Brown for a moment when you’re done.”

The sour look on McKay’s face increased.  “You have a botanist on your team, Major, if I recall correctly.  Ask him.”

It was Evan’s turn to huff, but he did so silently and with an under-the-breath remark that maybe McKay needed to get laid that was just loud enough to make Katie Brown blush and giggle while McKay blustered and threatened to turn off the water in Evan’s quarters all together.

Evan just thought, worth it, and left in search of another botanist (though he knew there were only three, maybe four—Parrish, Katie Brown, Dr. Gilmore, and another that he didn’t really know and wasn’t even sure was actually a botanist).

That took another two hours, by which time Evan was due for sparring with the new guy, Ronon, with Sheppard and Teyla in tow.  He trusted Teyla implicitly; obviously, his commanding officer more.

However, the third time he got knocked to the mat by Ronon in less than a minute, he was ready to throw a haymaker and a nut-shot.

Instead, he spit blood onto the mat, inspected his bruised (possibly broken) fingers, and tottered off to the infirmary after dropping off his gym bag (which had the plant) in his quarters, and Parrish’s look of dismissed hurt stuck in his head.  He was preoccupied, such as it were, that when he went to turn the corner toward the main tower, he didn’t bump so much as headlong run over another person.

“Jeez; I’m sorry, and—it’s you,” Evan spluttered out, still holding his damaged hand (and wrist, come to think of it; it was throbbing like a mother-fuck) against his chest protectively seeing as it had gotten jostled in the accident.

Parrish stared at him with wide-eyes and stared at his hand.  “What happened, Major?”

“Sparring,” Evan responded gruffly, and ignored that he was touched by Parrish’s obvious concern.  “It happens.”

“That plant I found; it had good numbing properties that I wanted to show to Dr. Beckett.”  He sighed regretfully.  “It’s a shame I can’t get more.”

Evan pointed with his good hand over his shoulder in the general direction he thought his quarters were in.  “I actually…well, heh; I kept the plant sample you were trying to show me.”  He could seriously kill himself for the way a flush of red worked up his neck and into his ears and why in god’s name was he blushing around Parrish anyway?  Sure, the lanky scientist wasn’t exactly un-attractive, but he wasn’t about to expose his own secrets just because he was getting a bit lonely.

Parrish looked at him suspiciously.  “I don’t see it?”

“Well, I was going to ask Dr. Brown or Dr. Gilmore, or what’s-her-name, but McKay had Dr. Brown indisposed, and I couldn’t find Gilmore or…well, I can’t remember her name, much less if she’s a botanist.”

Parrish smiled.  “A year here, and you don’t remember Dr. Jakob?  Well, you’re right; she’s not a botanist, but then, neither is Dr. Gilmore.”

Evan sighed.  “You were saying about the plant?  Can I use it instead of going to Beckett?”

Parrish nodded so vigorously that Evan thought it was a wonder his head didn’t fall off.  “Yes, of course; I can get the juices out of it.”

The flush on Evan’s skin went deeper.  “Yeah; it’s in my quarters.”

“Lead the way, Major!” Parrish said enthusiastically, as if this had been his plan all along.

XXXXX

Evan sat on the one uncomfortable chair in his quarters while Parrish went about playing with the plant, carefully stripping off the petals of the delicate turquoise bloom and then, with equally nimble fingers, pulling the tough green skin apart using only his nails.  When motioned, Evan wheeled the chair toward the bed where Parrish had been sitting until they were knee-to-knee.

It made Evan feel decidedly warm, and really, this was all turning into a Very Bad Situation.  The caps were necessary, because even if they were in a different galaxy, there was no way he was getting the tinglies from sitting this close to someone that he normally wouldn’t be this attracted to.

Instead, he felt shaky and jittery, enough so that when Parrish slipped the thick juice of the plant over his abused skin, Evan nearly jumped out of his skin.

Parrish looked at him in question.  “Are you okay?  I wasn’t trying to hurt you.”

“Just cold,” Evan muttered, and stared steadfastly at the ground while clenching his good hand as Parrish rubbed the thick gel-like substance into his skin.  He had to admit, it did feel better.

“I know sparring and such is a good way for you athletic types to let off steam,” Parrish said hesitantly.  “But really, if you’re hurting yourself on purpose or something, there’s got to be better ways to relax.”

“I paint,” Evan blurted out awkwardly and clammed back up as soon as he said it.

Parrish lit up like a Christmas tree, but didn’t say why.  “Well, the juice of the plant should help for the next few hours until you want to go see Dr. Beckett; that’s if you want to once your hand’s had time to heal.”

“Thanks, Doc.”  Evan stood in a stuttered motion and wondered when he’d lost so much self-respect that he was basically swooning, and really, wasn’t this just fucking pathetic.

“Call me David,” Parrish said instead and smiled eagerly once more.  “And next time we go off-world, it won’t be this bad.”

“Yeah,” Evan agreed.  “See you later.”

When he went running that evening, Evan wondered just what the hell Parrish was up to, because that eager smile had definitely betrayed a plan.

XXXXX

Evan found out about three months later around kind-of-Christmas (McKay wouldn’t let anyone forget that time ran differently here, and their Gregorian calendars weren’t doing them any favors since it was hindering their ability to adjust to their particular solar system’s variation of time) when a package showed up on his bed though he knew he tended to keep his door locked down more than most (thank you, ancient gene).

In any case, there was a small gift about the size of a bento box and wrapped in something Evan recognized as an Athosian fabric that was utilitarian in nature and not meant to be decorative.  There was something endearing about it, really, that the packaging was so non-descript and had no tag.

In fact, if it hadn’t been for the hemp twine holding the whole thing together, Evan might have been completely perplexed as to who it was from or how it had gotten there.  Immaterial was the fact that Evan knew the twining had come from the botany department and was provided by some plant resembling hemp that had been found on the Athosian mainland.

Evan sighed and approached it with apprehension.  He pulled on the roping gently and the fabric fell apart, revealing a hand-crafted wooden box that he recognized as being Athosian-made, though there were Ancient symbols carved into it instead of the usual figures and glyphs.  He tried to open the lid, but it remained firmly shut.

Frowning, Evan picked up the box and inspected it.  There were definitely hinges and buttons and the Ancient glyphs were actually push-able, and goddamn it; it was a puzzle box.

Evan hated puzzle boxes.

XXXXX

The next supply run didn’t go any better, save for the fact that Cpl. Weber had made it to the gate along with Lt. Tsung.

“Figured it out yet?”

Evan looked over at Parrish (David) and frowned.  “Figured what out?” he asked dumbly.

David looked slightly put-out.  “Are you kidding me, Major?”  He leaned against the wall of the cell where they were currently imprisoned.  “I went to a lot of trouble to make it discreet, and it was even more work to make sure Sgt. Matthews knew how to break the security lock on your door.”

Evan’s throat tightened.  “Sgt. Matthews knows it was from you?”  He couldn’t stop the automatic fear that arose.  He had always been extremely private about his relationships, and tended to the ever-cautious side of compartmentalization in that the SGC was the SGC and his life was his life.

Living out of each other’s pockets in Pegasus—well, it didn’t always work the same way.

David snorted in such a way that indicated he was insulted.  “She’s not even on our team, and besides, she’s shacking up with Dr. Heightmeyer.”

Evan didn’t relax.  “Really, Matthews and Heightmeyer?”

David shrugged.  “People are pairing off.  Pegasus can be lonely.”  He hitched against Evan’s shoulder unashamedly.  “Sheppard’s the last one to really judge, you know.  Rumor has he that he and Dr. McKay have been boinking for about three months.”

Color rose high on Evan’s face, mostly because he had little desire to know any personal information about his commanding officer.  “I really didn’t want to know that.”

Another movement against his shoulder meant David found this somewhat unimportant.  “Let me know when you get the box open.”

“Yeah, let’s get out of this first,” Evan pointed out just as the sound of footsteps came toward the iron-bar door of their cell.

Ronon came around the corner, looking mightily annoyed.  “Finally,” he muttered and turned.  “Sheppard, they’re down here!”

If Sheppard noticed that Evan didn’t make eye contact, he didn’t say anything.

XXXXX

Evan glared at the puzzle box with its Ancient writing and its fine craftsmanship.

What he wanted to do was shoot it.

XXXXX

In the end, it was five months before he took the box to the Engineering department and tried to find Dr. Zelenka, because the last person he wanted to ask was McKay.

Instead, that was exactly what he ended up doing because Zelenka and Sheppard were fiddling with the jumpers and most of the other engineers were busy with other projects that, in McKay’s words, were monumentally important and he didn’t expect the military to understand.

So when Evan entered the science lab and it was only Miko and McKay, he damn near turned on heel, boot-camp style, to go right back out the way he came.  Instead, he clutched the box in his hands, re-wrapped (if a bit messily) in its Athosian garment, and approached Miko.

She gave him a nervous smile.  “It’s a little busy in here today, but what do you need?”  She leaned closer and whispered, “I fixed the water in your quarters; is everything okay?”

McKay snapped his fingers.  “Miko!” he rudely shouted.  “Are you monitoring the levels here?  I need you to be monitoring this, and if you aren’t, then I can always—“

“No, no, I got it!” Miko jumped from her seat before quickly turning to Evan.  “Dr. Mc Kay can help if you need anything!”  She fled to a computer station and began typing on one computer with one hand while holding up a data pad with the other.

Evan mustered up his pride before demolishing it and approaching McKay.  “Dr. McKay?”

“Bring coffee; we’ll talk,” McKay responded in a distracted tone.

With a prayer to the patron saint of patience (whoever that was), Evan retreated to the mess and came back to the lab.  Miko was now ensconced with three laptops and two data pads.  McKay was looking blearily at a whiteboard full of equations that Evan could see familiar elements in, but didn’t understand completely.

Carefully, Evan dropped a banana-nut muffin and a thermos of coffee on the desk beside of the whiteboard.  “Dr. McKay, if I could have a minute?”

McKay eyed the tall thermos of coffee and the muffin.  “No citrus products?”

Evan resisted the urge to roll his eyes.  “None; it’s banana-walnut.  They were out of the chocolate ones.”

“Oh, only Sheppard brings these normally,” McKay said with reverence as he took a huge bite out of the muffin.  “Whatever you need, you have until the end of this muffin and the middle of the thermos.  Go.”

Evan sighed and produced the box again.  “I got this a while back, and I haven’t been able to open it.  I’ve tried everything, and I thought “hey, McKay’s an engineer”—“

Doctor McKay.”

Evan pulled in his impatience.  “Dr. McKay is an engineer, and I was wondering if you could take a look?”

McKay ate the last bite of muffin and swigged a quarter of the thermos in one go before he plucked the box carelessly from Evan’s hands.

Evan had to bite it back to tell him to be careful.

Instead, McKay gave a delighted snort before swinging back around and dropping the box back into Evan’s hands.  “Seriously?  You couldn’t get it?”

Bristling, Evan pulled the box back to his stomach.  “That simple, huh?”

McKay did roll his eyes.  “You have the Ancient gene, don’t you?  Figure it out.”  He gulped down more coffee and rolled his fingers at Evan.  “Done now; move along.  I have work to do.”

Evan bit back any number of retorts (some polite, some not-so-polite, and some outright rude) and decided to leave the lab (he dropped off a lemon-poppy seed muffin for Miko with a couple of tea-bags he had been saving from his MREs) in favor of taking the box back to his quarters once more.

He gave a determined sigh before he unwrapped the box.  The Ancient writing was as unfamiliar to him now as it was when it appeared on his bed at Christmas.  He ran his fingers over it, shoving the thought forward to open, Jesus Christ, just fucking open as much as he could.

His fingers found slots on the side that were approximately hand-shaped; he shoved them in impatiently.

The box snapped open, as if angry, the lid catching his fingers sharply.  He swore as he wove his fingers in the air before the pain faded away as he realized what was in the box.

Inside, the dried petals of the cactus-pansy-daffodil flower were there—but beneath were glass pots (glassware pilfered from the science labs, no doubt) of richly-colored paints.  They were vibrant enough that Evan could already see how to dilute and mix them together to create what he needed.  There were a couple of brushes that looked more like make-up brushes than paint, but Evan wasn’t picky at this point.

It was all so…romantic.

Evan frowned and dipped a finger into the pot of blue paint.  It hit him like a train all at once that the paints were created by crushing plants and distilling the pigments.  It would have taken a lot of effort to create even the seven colors now available.

He could paint a sunrise; he could paint anything, with the colors available and the right amount of time (and day; God, Atlantis Rising, that had to be it).

He had to find David.

XXXXX

Once at David’s door, Evan found himself uncertain.  The box of paints felt heavy in his hands and Atlantis hummed beneath his feet.  He mustered up every bit of the soldier he always had been and knocked on David’s door.

Dr. Gilmore answered, looking a bit tired and red-eyed.  “Major?” he prompted when the silence went on too long.

Evan shook himself from the surprise of remembering that, like many of the civilian personnel, David had a roommate.  “Is Dav—is Dr. Parrish here?”

The other man shook his head.  “No, said something about plants and needing to be there to make sure they bloomed right.  He should be in the Hydroponics lab.”  He rubbed his eyes and looked at the box.  “Oh; that’s the box I put the Ancient rig on.”

Evan heaved a sigh—it was mostly because he never dealt with scientists that much, and honestly, they had a way of sucking you into a question that made it impossible not to ask.  “So Dr. Parrish asked you to put something Ancient on it?” He held the box up.

Dr. Gilmore nodded as he rubbed at his eyes.  “Yeah; it was some doo-hickey we found in one of the towers Dr. Weir finally let us explore.  It’s just a kid’s toy, but I rigged the buttons on the side to a piece on the underside of the lid so that only someone with the gene could open it.”  He looked a little sly.  “I wondered why David wanted me to do it.”

“And I trust you to continue to be discreet?”  Evan injected enough “bad ass soldier” into his voice that Dr. Gilmore snapped his mouth shut and the knowing look melted off of his face instantly.

“Yes, sir,” the scientist stuttered out.  “So yeah, he’s in the hydroponics bay and I don’t remember you coming by.  Good night, sir.”  He shut the door so quickly that Evan had to step back to avoid the door.

Evan sighed to himself—well, at least some scientists knew when to shut the hell up.

Instead of heading to the botany labs where the hydroponics bays were, he ended up back in his room and looking at the vibrant paints.  He wondered how long it would be before he could get a canvas, and wished he knew how to return the favor to David.

Poetically pathetic, he thought as he wondered how soon he might be able to find a suitable replacement for canvas.

XXXXX

It took two weeks before he could find Dr. Hildebrand.  She smiled at him impishly from the control station she was working on and waved him over.

“Major Lorne,” she greeted cheerfully.  “I’m just browsing through some of the Ancient databases we’ve been able to open on their views of certain Pegasus cultures.  It’s truly fascinating, though I suppose I ought to be a little more sensitive, given that most of these cultures either glorify death or—“

Evan held up a hand.  “I’m sure it’s fascinating, Dr. Hildebrand, but I’m not here for a lesson on Pegasus cultures.  I actually had something of a personal question to ask, if that’s alright.”

She said nothing as she scrolled through more information.  “So long as I can read while you talk then, I guess,” and her tone was barely short of dismissive.

This was already going badly if she was already pissed.  “I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to cut you off, Dr. Hildebrand.”  Evan knew the importance (thanks, DOCTOR McKay) of using proper titles.

She shrugged a shoulder at him.  “Well, what did you want to ask?”

Evan decided it was as good an invitation as any.  “Do you know if Dr. Parrish has any hobbies or interests?”

Dr. Hildebrand turned with a raised eyebrow.  “Why would I know?”

Evan gave a tight-lipped sigh.  “You guys eat together a lot; I figured you might know.”

“Well, we do eat together a lot.”  She brushed a lock of dark hair behind her ear.  “Honestly?  All he ever talks about are plants and which ones are useful for what.  He eats, lives, and breathes botany.  Personally, I like my studies and finding out more than I ever could back home, but he takes obsession to a new level.  You might try asking one of the other botanists though.”

“No, that’s okay.  I appreciate your time,” Evan said and prepared to turn.

“Well, he did mention something once,” Dr. Hildebrand said quietly.  “Though I don’t know why you’d want to know any of his hobbies or interests.”

Evan gave her a guarded look.  “He’s on my team and I’m trying to improve morale.  I got Corporal Weber some books he’d wanted to read to improve his English, and I’ve been making Lieutenant Tsung run more with the rest of us because he wants to improve the timing of his mile.  I haven’t done anything for Dr. Parrish.”

Dr. Hildebrand studied him in a way that made Evan shift uncomfortably.  “Tell you what, if you’re so invested in team morale,” and why Evan thought his poker face had gotten any better since Earth, he couldn’t say, because she clearly knew there was something more to the request, “I’ll ask him myself and tell you if you can find Mountain Dew for me.”

“Mountain Dew?” Evan asked incredulously.  “Of all the things you miss?”

She tilted her head condescendingly.  “If you weren’t raised in the South, you don’t get it.”

Evan held his hands up in surrender and started going through his black market contacts in his head.  “I get it, I get it.”

Dr. Hildebrand snorted as he turned to leave.  “No, you really don’t.”

Evan held his tongue once more and exited the lab.  Fucking scientists.

XXXXX

A six pack of Mountain Dew later, and Dr. Hildebrand looked positively overjoyed.

Evan held back his curiosity—he’d had the soda before and hadn’t thought it was anything special.  By looking at Hildebrand though, she looked like she’d been stranded in the desert and it had started to rain.

“He’s been looking for sketchbooks,” Dr. Hildebrand provided helpfully.  “And trading chocolate for charcoal pencils.”

Evan wanted to smack himself in the forehead, because it sounded like David was already making something else for him, and Evan still had nothing.

“Thanks, Dr. Hildebrand,” he muttered.  “Enjoy the Dew.”

XXXXX

In the end, Evan didn’t have much time to find out anything else about David, because they were scheduled unexpectedly for a follow-up mission P5J-3X8 the next morning since SGA-1 had come back with glowing results.

What Sheppard (or anyone else) had failed to mention was the fact that on P5J-3X8, there was an abundant amount of indigenous plant life that had David watering at the mouth instead of going to investigate something McKay had insisted was worth looking into.

It should have been easy enough to finish up relations—instead, Evan was left with dragging David away every five minutes from another new flower, blossom, tree, weed—hell, everything under this sun in order to complete said-follow-up on SGA-1’s initial first contact mission.

It was around the eleventh time that Evan had to yank David away from something that he ducked them into an alley and forced the taller man into the wall.  “I’m only gonna say this once; got it?”

David nodded once with a nervous look and a hard swallow.

Evan wrapped a fist into David’s tac vest.  “We are here on a mission—that mission is to follow up on the diplomatic relationship that Major Sheppard’s team established over the last three days.  Look, I get it.  The plant life or tree life or whatever is distracting you beyond belief.  I need you to get it together because if I can live through being preoccupied by you for the last year, you can damn well stop looking at the flowers long enough to finish this!”

David flushed as the crinkles of a smile began at his eyes and he nodded again.  “Understood, sir.”

And if the molten look David shot his way made Evan’s pants fit tighter in the crotch, he ignored it all together in favor of finishing the (fucking stupid) mission.

XXXXX

Much later that night, under the alien stars and weirdly silver-green moonlight, Evan set out in search of David, who hadn’t been in the assigned room that the Sangrian had given him.  It didn’t take long; he found David kneeled in a small copse of blooms that were interspersed with various weeds that wound through the entire field of plants.

Evan stood behind him and sighed heavily.  “You know, I’ve been asking around, trying to find out what your hobbies are, just so I can give you something like you did for me with the paints and the box.”  He got down on one knee out of habit; it would make it easier if he had to get up in a hurry.  “And all I can think is you like plants.”

David hitched a shoulder.  “I do like plants; it’s why I became a botanist.  It’s what got me recruited by the SGC; I wrote a paper on the gravitational effect on certain medicinal species of various fungi.”

“Mushrooms?”

“Somewhat,” David said with a smirk that did twist-y things to Evan’s gut.  “Basically, I put various genera of the psilocybin strand into zero-G environments and then fed them to rats.  It was a joint venture with Dr. Gilmore,” he looked at Evan pointedly, “A biologist, by the way.”

“Seriously?  You put shrooms in a vacuum and then fed them to rodents?”  Evan shook his head as he checked their surroundings.  He still had his sidearm but had left the P90 secured under the mattress on the floor in his room.  “That’s…something.”

“Well, you’d be surprised what kinds of effects alien flora can have on SG teams, and they took notice of my paper.”  David looked at him with suspiciously rosy cheeks.  “You asked around about me?”

Evan slouched his shoulders.  “As much as I could.  Dr. Hildebrand said you were getting sketchbooks together.”

“I like to draw the flora I find; it makes it easier to compare to other known species when I don’t have samples to actually handle.”  David didn’t look away.  “So I’m not wrong about…” His hands stilled over the blooms for a moment before weeding away the ivy-like plant that seemed to be more parasitic than co-existent.  “This?”

Evan shook his head and looked up reluctantly.  The stars were beautiful and clearer than he could ever remember seeing them.  “You’re not wrong.”

“I think you’re getting ready to say but, aren’t you?” David asked flatly, and it came out more as a statement than a question.

“No, there’s no but to it,” Evan responded and finally relaxed enough to sit cross-legged in the little field of flowers.  “What are you looking at here?”

David paused long enough that Evan wondered if he’d changed his mind before the scientist relaxed and pointed to a flower.  “Watch.”

Evan did as instructed; he observed the pale-colored petals of a wild iris-like flower.  His mother used to grow wild irises, no matter how hard they were to tend and keep up alive.  The moonlight shifted a bit, and a fragrance unexpectedly filled the air that was reminiscent of lavender, though much stronger and with a hint of rosemary or possibly mint.

The pallid petals suddenly unfurled, revealing a bio-luminescent core that gave off a cerulean-silver glow.

Evan looked up and realized that the entirety of the flowers in the small area had done the same.  “Okay, that’s pretty cool,” he admitted as the air around them lit up in soft blue light.

David grinned.  “I’m thinking of naming it astra lucesco.”

Evan wasn’t stupid, no matter what the scientists liked to say about the military.  “Star light,” he translated.

With a smile more brilliant than the flowers, David turned and unexpectedly kissed him.  It was light and dark at the same time, and held more possibilities than the gate had ever presented.  There was a quick flick of wet tongue against his lips and a soft hand against his cheek.

It was sweeter than the brightest star and Evan was clutching into the ground before he knew it, surprised at how quickly the kiss turned from introduction to need, from possibility to potential.

Evan went to roll David into the flowers, but was abruptly halted.

“You’ll crush them; don’t!”

Evan sighed with a weak chuckle and hauled David up by his jacket.  “Save the brightest one for me, doc.”

David smiled again, and Evan clutched at his hand before leading them back to the main part of the village proper.

XXXXX

Evan promised himself nothing if not to get sappy over the whole thing.  After the return of the Ancients and the potential of losing both Atlantis and David, though, he found himself more willing to indulge in his more romantic urges.  When on off-world missions, he always brought back some plant or flower or even a tree branch that looked interesting.

At the end of the day, David was always appreciative of what Evan brought back, and that, if nothing else, let Evan know he was bumbling along as well as could be expected.  David understood the secrecy; Evan understood the flowers.

It wasn’t until the Ori became a THREAT (italics and caps in Evan’s own head) that things escalated.

It was an accident, really; he had been assigned briefly to an SG team while trying to take a two-week leave on Earth, and they had gone to visit the Nox—ostensibly, it was more for Colonel Rozhenko to confirm their existence and defense against the Ori while their team scientist, a sociologist named Dr. Tenner, tried to deduce if the Nox felt threatened by the Ori presence at all.

Evan himself had tried to insist that he was on leave, but General Landry had made it clear that he wanted Lorne on this particular mission, given that it was the Nox—it wasn’t like they came calling often…well, ever.

When presented with the information, David had just waved him off, studying data from flash drives brought home from Atlantis; never mind that they were supposed to be meeting David’s parents on this rare trip to Earth.

Evan had just finished doing his security patrol when a child around eleven or twelve walked up to him, following him as he walked.  He allowed it, having read the initial first contact report from SG-1.  It was important that the Nox was allowing contact at all.  It had to mean the situation with the Ori was dire, given that the Nox had taken any sort of notice.

However, even when Evan had stopped and reported back to Rozhenko, the child still followed.  Given that he was still on patrol, he finally turned to the kid when the following seemed to be going later into the night than seemed proper for a child.

“You’re Anali, right?” Evan asked awkwardly

Anali nodded serenely (but then, the Nox tended to do everything in some weird serene, hippie fashion that Evan didn’t always understand).  She held up a flower that was shaped like a star, but there were willowy vines hanging off of the five points.  “He will want this.”

Evan swallowed tightly.  “Excuse me?”

She tilted her head at him knowingly.  “Your one; he will want this.  It has important functions that your people will appreciate.”  She wound her hand dreamily around the petals until they flowered out and spread.  There was a bio-luminescent core that Evan recognized at the same moment his heart stuttered in his chest.  “It is the brightest star.  I will go gather another; to harness the true medicinal properties of this particular bloom, it is important that it blooms between the right pair.”

Evan found he couldn’t speak; Anali wandered off into the forest and came back shortly with another bloom that he could now see was tightly wound.  The inner bud of the flower had been remarkably similar to the star-light flower he and David had found on P5J-3X8—astra lucesco.

Anali sat with him after his patrol was over, laying her head unabashedly on his knee.  “The Ori come,” she said in a voice that Evan thought no child should ever use.

Evan sighed hard; he hated this part.  He awkwardly laid a hand on her skinny shoulder.  “Yeah…we think so.”

She looked up at him with eyes and skin that looked purple in the moonlight.  “The Ancients will stop them.”

“I hope so, kid.  I do.”  He let her curl against him and, with a sudden ache, realized that he missed David fiercely.

XXXXX

It was nearly six months after returning to Atlantis that Evan gave David the flower.

“She said…” Evan started and stuttered to a halt.  He actually kind of loved that David didn’t interrupt or try to finish his thoughts.  “The Nox kid—she called it the brightest star.  She also said it had some pretty important uses.”

They were sitting outside on the east pier with Atlantis’s two moons shining brightly against the dark of the ocean.

David took the flower and flit his fingers through the ethereal strands hanging off the points of the flower.  “I’ve never seen anything like this!” he said in an awed voice.  He held it carefully in his palms, bowing his head back and taking a deep breath.  “The Ancients mentioned a plant like this in their database; they called it a common weed.  A weed, Evan!”  He sounded so distressed that Evan did the only thing he could think to do.

Evan placed a hand under David’s and tried to summon everything he ever thought he knew about carrying the Ancient gene related to the word open.  After all, David hadn’t been born with it; he had been one of the 43% that had acquired it through Dr. Beckett’s gene therapy.

It seemed to do the trick, because Evan could feel that weirdly pleasant hum beneath him that indicated Atlantis approved of her second heir (or maybe third, depending on the kind of day Dr. Beckett was having).

At the same time, he heard David take in a breath as the flower bloomed and even though Evan’s eyes were closed, he could barely tell that the darkness around them had lightened.

Evan opened his eyes.  When the flower had bloomed beneath Anali’s hand, the ethereal tendrils had remained dark.  Under his and David’s hands, however, the tentacle-like strands had brightened as well, and the core of the flower had spawned out a cloud of bright turquoise-fuchsia pores.

David was looking at it like it was the answer to the meaning of life, and Evan felt his heart crumple.

“I love it,” David said fervently, cradling the lit-flower as if it held everything.  “I love…well, I love you.”

Evan felt his face turn red, but he kept his hand poised beneath David’s.  “Yeah?” he asked uncertainly.

David smiled at him brilliantly in the same way that always made Evan want to shout from the spires of Atlantis that they were together.  “Yeah.”

Evan grinned at him in relief.  “Yeah.”

After that, space vampires and galaxy-dominating religious fanatics didn’t seem so bad.

XXXXXXXXXX