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You Are Not Alone

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May 15th had always been an ordinary day, just like the others. Except for the fact that maybe, just maybe, it wasn't. As a child little Davy Parrish never understood why other children loved their birthday so much. It wasn't until he was a lot older that he learned that other children had a party and presents all for themselves at their birthdays. When he asked his mother she just laughed, cigarette hanging between her lips, and she said that he had to earn that sort of thing.

When May came around next year he worked just that bit harder, doing the dishes and polishing shoes, but the 15th came and went and no one mentioned anything. At least his father hadn't beaten him up and he counted that as a win.

 

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David went to University when he was 18. He had always spent a lot of time working hard to appear normal. He didn't want to be put one or two grades ahead, so he asked questions when he felt it would be appropriate and make mistakes on purpose during his exams.

His friends didn't comment on it, mostly because they were too busy with their own miserable lives.

Moving out of his parents' house was the kind of freedom he could only dream about. There were rules in campus housing, but it was nothing compared to the things he'd had to endure with his parents.

The day he left with his dufflebag was the last time he saw his parents, and he didn't mind it a bit.

 

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University wasn't much of a challenge and he had two degrees and a doctorate in botany before he was 27.

He went straight from finishing his PhD to the SGC because he was 'spotted' by the lead botanist at Area 51. Who knew that doing a thesis about the healing possibilities of plants could get him into such an interesting place?

His birthday came and went many times but he had stopped caring a long time ago, and then he went to Atlantis and who had time to think about his birthday when he was in such a magical place?

 

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“Lieutenant Coughlin to Lieutenant Reed.”

“Talk to me, Ash.”

“Are you ready for Operation Surprise?”

“I am on my way, Ashton, just be patient for once, will you?”

“Copy that, Lieutenant. Coughlin out.”

“Reed out.”

 

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It was 20:00 Atlantis time and David decided that it was time to finish up work. He would be going out with his team the next day and he liked to be prepared and well rested. Lord knew he needed it if he wanted to keep up with the Antics of Reed and Coughlin.

He was mindlessly writing the date and some notes in his journal when the chime of his greenhouse sounded.

He went to open the door and was more than a little surprised to find his team standing there, trying to sing happy birthday while Ashton was holding a cake and Jack tried to unsuccessfully hide a present behind his back. Evan stood behind the two and had the biggest grin on his face.

“Happy Birthday doc!” they chorused as soon as they had finished singing, and he must have looked really confused because they stared at him.

“It is your birthday, right?” Jack asked.

“It is,” he answered. “I just didn't expect anything.”

“How can you not expect people on your birthday?” Ashton said as he made his way to a lab bench to set down the cake.

“Well, there is the whole super secret mission thing,” Jack commented, “you know, in case you forget about being in another galaxy.”

“It's time to unwrap your present!” Jack announced as he quickly handed the present over and dug into the piece of cake Evan had cut for him.

 

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Major Evan Lorne often wondered about the scientist on his team. He was friendly, willing and smart enough but always was so quiet unless he was talking about plants. He knew that his team was loud, obnoxious and sometimes downright irritating which would make any scientist quiet. But he couldn't shake the fact that there was something more to the botanist.

He was eating some cake in David's lab when his feeling was finally confirmed. The man was just so surprised by the fact that people had come to celebrate his birthday and stared in awe at the poorly-wrapped gift for a while before unwrapping it.

They joked and played Monopoly for a few hours when he decided to call it a night.

“Bedtime, guys. The doc has to be well-rested since he has to put up with you tomorrow.”

“You say that like it is a bad thing,” Jack pouted while Reed cuffed him on the back of the head.

Evan laughed as he threw the last piece of the cake in the trash and guided the doc out. “These two will clean up in the morning,” he said, not even bothering to make it a question.

 

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David loved his birthday party. From the crappy birthday cake, to his gift, to the evening of Monopoly. He suspected that his cheeks would hurt if he finally stopped smiling. Evan was walking him to his room, telling him about the prank Reed had played on Coughlin earlier that day and not for the first time David was jealous at the easy-going way the three soldiers had with each other.

He opened the door to his room and was surprised to find Evan following him inside. Evan sat down on the only chair and motioned for David to sit on the bed.

Suddenly he realized with perfect clarity that this was it, Evan was kicking him off the team because he wasn't enough of a soldier. His chest tightened and he wondered why he cared so much. Why had he let himself trust those three, slightly crazy, people?

He plastered a fake smile on his face and forced himself to listen to Evan.

“.. if you liked that we showed up for your birthday, you could have kicked us out if you wanted to.”

“No! Evan! I loved that you guys came.” He looked at Evan, wondering where this conversation was going and at the same time trying to really stress his point.

“Have you ever had real friends?” Evan asked, face frowned and his eyes slightly concerned. “You just seem so surprised at everything we do for you.”

David felt his face flush. “Not really no, it was my first birthday party ever,” he said and then closed his mouth as he realized what he had just said.

“We are your friends, you know,” Evan said, eyes friendly, as he stood up. I really like you, you're a great guy and I don't think your parents and all the other people who met you really knew you.”

He pulled David into a quick hug before he disappeared out of the door. Leaving the botanist utterly confused.