The first day he stepped foot onto Atlantis Major Lorne got a postcard - from the Pegasus galaxy. He'd raised an eyebrow at the unexpected sight of the hand-painted piece of cardboard resting on his temporary bunk. His quarters weren't yet assigned and he'd presumed the card had been left by the previous occupant. Asking around he found no one who would admit up to having received it.
With no address and its simplistic blue swirls of ocean it appeared to be a child's work, cherished and given to their parent to take on their journey far away. Looking at it always made his heart sink a little at the thought he'd not been able to reunite it with the rightful owner but he'd kept it, unable to throw it away carelessly. It was the first item he arranged in his room, getting pride of place on the wall above his desk. He figured at least someone would still be appreciating it that way...or rather, the sentiment behind it. He thought probably only a parent could appreciate the quality.
When the second card was slipped under his door he started to wonder what was going on. Nothing was written on the other side, there was just the drawing – a set of more defined patterns repeating that he recognised from some of the Atlantean architecture around the building.
He considered asking around again but he'd gotten enough grief for pursuing the origin of the first card and this one he definitely couldn't claim to have been mislaid. Perhaps it was from one of the Athosian kids? No writing would certainly fit if they hadn't learnt English and it could potentially be explained as a product of their hero worship of Sheppard. Maybe that'd been extended to "his men" now? After that, the idea of Sheppard and his merry men often surfaced, always inexplicable to his great amusement, as well as considerable misfortune, causing some uncomfortable moments in the more boring briefings with the guy.
Sheppard might never understand why a few choice words tended to reduce one of his Major's to barely repressed peals of laughter, but Lorne felt satisfied enough with that theory. Plus it helped that the thought gave him a spring in his step on bad days and the patience to go that extra mile whenever they were called to aid the Athosians – he didn't want to let the little chums down.
The postcards start to arrive regularly, every fortnight. Views of the ocean and often architecture of the "Ancients" that the kid must obviously be in awe of. He tends to volunteer for the jumper assignments ferrying Athosians across from the mainland, always watching out, wondering if one of them might speak up, own up and solve the mystery. They look up at his with wild eyes and smiles but not one says a thing, deflating his theory a little. It wasn't like he needed to know but it was frustrating to have it hanging over him, taking over his thoughts in any empty moment.
Finally he gave in to curiosity, deciding as much as he knew art, he doesn't understand kids well - requesting Dr Heightmeyer take a look at his now growing collection above the desk. She stares, um's and ah's and says she can see where the hero worship angle came from, but decides the assumption is unfounded. She points out the evolving style appears to be from a much older subject and teases him about having a secret admirer. Blushing briefly, he shows her out. That wasn't the expected that conclusion. Question is, is this serious?
The next day he confronts Cadman. She denies pranking him and laughs like she thinks it's endearingly sweet that he has a postcard sending admirer. He threatens to pull rank on her if she doesn't tell the truth; she only laughs harder. In truth he knows it isn't a prank and that it won't be her. He doesn't want it do be either but if it had been a ruse she's the first he'd suspect. The day ends and he has no definitive answer, yet somehow it he feels at ease with what he didn''t find out today.
In reality, he's no closer to working out who's behind it but suddenly it inspires a new feeling in him, a different sense of warming. He re-examines his collection like the pictures have been given a new lease of life. This isn't some childish passing appreciation from a distant person. His heart jumps for the fact there's someone - an adult - on Atlantis who's thinking of him. He can only dream who and wish the why is the same as he hopes.
A couple of months later he's used to getting several cards a week. The frequency surprised him initially but each one is a joy to see; he can track their improvement as he scans along his overfilling wall and even if they're not the most inspired artworks he appreciates them all the same.
When he goes on leave for a month, he comes back to a bundle of postcards. They weren't spread out under the door as he'd have expected but all saved up for him, stacked on his desk. There's twice as many as usual for the period and every scene is a empty balcony on Atlantis at sunset. The significance of the setting for them all makes his mouth go dry. Counting them up, there's one for every day he was gone.
He goes to bed that night oddly aware that somewhere in the city there's someone else thinking of him like he's thinking of them and the only difference is he doesn't know who they are.
Not too long after his return he runs out of room on his wall. The postcards still come every other day and he never ceases to be amazed how quickly whoever they are is at creating what he now considers considerably skilled piece of art.
Evan makes the decision to move some to in his office, ignoring the inevitability of the rumour mill that will undoubtedly be helped along by Cadman. He puts up his favourites so he can appreciate them each day and find strength to get through troubling tasks – namely boring as heck paperwork or being forced to diplomatically settled disputes - each time he looks at them.
No longer are the cards mainly focused on Atlantis. Instead, the majority are miniatures of famous masterpieces, reinterpretations that lack the detail but somehow capture the essence. The choices are interesting, more than half of them are by his favourite artists and there can be few people he would ever have discussed that sort of topic with – his memory isn't good enough to recall exactly who that list is limited to.
The art history studies soon stopped though and he guessed sources of art books to copy from on Atlantis weren't very diverse. It wasn't, however, hard to mind when the obstacle prompted intriguing experimentation, making the now daily postcards – which instead turned up at his office directly - an evening surprise he was eager for. There was a clear cut timeframe when they must have been delivering; he just never investigated it, preferring to leave it be a while longer.
By sheer luck he came upon a clue. Lietenant Wilhelm, the budding astronomer in their ranks, had pointed to a postcard that he'd thought abstract art and asked why he had a pastel drawing of the variable nebula observed from the recent mission to M9X-942. Surely that was a purposefully hidden hint that his admirer wanted to be sought out?
It was with great anticipation that he went over the logs for personnel that had visited M9X-942. The list was incredibly short because, well, the planet wasn't too thrilling – it had some "intriguing" alloys in minuscule amounts from the smallest Ancient ruin they'd ever come across and then the astronomy angle. The dedicated astronomers were a tiny bunch out of the science contingent and anyone else assigned to to this place would have had to piss off McKay real bad... Scrolling down he hadn't reached the bottom of the list before he'd seen the one name that could have been expected there - and everything had clicked into place in his mind.
Clenching his jaw, he dropped the tablet, backing away from the unwanted epiphany. It didn't make sense for him to be doing this; they'd parted on bad terms when Kavanagh had left the SGC and they'd barely spoken two words since being technically reunited on Atlantis. Lorne wanted to be sure he really meant something with this; he wasn't going to make the first move and risk humiliation again.
Another crisis was averted. Disaster foiled. The adrenaline was dissipating now the emergency was over but it left him with an insatiable buzz to do things, prompting him to unpack the collection of belongings he'd whipped into a bag when the evacuation order had been given and it was weird to think he'd not have had a chance to do it if he hadn't been off duty at the time.
Unfolding the carefully compressed belongings he regarded the pack shoved into the middle – the stack of postcards he had taken down a month ago from his office – which in his haste he'd attached importance to, wanting to save them. He shook his head in disbelief, he'd tried to get it through his thick skull they didn't mean a thing. They were a cruel joke, maybe an attempt at friendship at best but one that mocked the relationship he'd wanted, that he had made himself vulnerable for only it to be dismissed as infeasible.
Backing off from the contents strewn across his bed, he went to sit at his desk, hoping the can do attitude would rub off on the the otherwise intolerable virtual paperwork he had accumulating. The work wasn't as distracting as he'd liked, the blank wall above him serving as a painful reminder. Was there nowhere he could escape the stupid mistakes he'd made? Irritated he clicked on his inbox absent-mindedly, opening the top mail, scanning over some kind of apology by Dr Weir.
Rereading the email he came to translate her diplomatese to mean that the video message attached, previously intended for him, had been intercepted during a heightened period of security during the emergency. That seemed unremarkable to him, but seeing Weir express her sincerest apologies, he suspected this wasn't your usual Earth to Atlantis communique. He hadn't been expecting any, personal or professional, though there couldn't have been any confusion since several people must've seen it before him – the timestamp was unusual, indicating a delivery date half a day ago. Nonchalantly he clicked to open and play the re-encoded video file.
The blurry video showed a familiar Atlantis balcony, one he liked to paint the various seascapes from, and as it focused it became apparent it wasn't a recording or photo. The miniature was retraced from view, replaced with a close-up of Will's mournful face.
"I..I know there's probably deep shit going down where you are. Atlantis in danger once again." he joked ruefully, with a brief boyish smile that descended back into seriousness, "I just...I wanted you to know it was me."
Will's eyes burned into his, staring out in earnest, willing him to believe the sincerity.
"Everyone's been gossiping about how you took them all down. I can't tell if that's because you've figured it out or because you're sick of the attention. Either way, I failed you. I never do enough, until it's too late. If you die... "
Will turned his head quickly, all but the edge of his face out of view and it was impossible to read his expression with any accuracy. Guessing was inadequate, and going to be completely unnecessary.
The doors opened to a dishevelled and prickly William Kavanagh who had not been expecting to me met like this after the day he'd had:
"You were a crap artist, but you always made up for your faults with dedication" pointed out Evan decisively, "dedication and passion." Getting up in the weary scientists face, he switched to a whisper, "and I think I owe you some of that about now." Will had enough common sense to make that final move this time, closing the distance between their lips.
Later on, Kavanagh reflected that forgetting about nearly being tortured was aided considerably by declaration of feelings from the man you'd never managed to get over and was glad there were some things fate wouldn't let you escape by moving to another galaxy.