David honestly hadn’t meant to stalk Evan. He’d spotted him in downtown Colorado Springs and wanted to say hello, catch up, ask how he’d been, only Evan was walking fast, purpose marking his stride, and David had to dodge human traffic to stay on his tail, and somehow David ended up following Evan two blocks to an art gallery. Given that Evan was an artist, him going to an art gallery wasn’t all that weird. David followed him inside, curious as to what kind of art Evan liked to look at, only on the far wall was a massive oil painting of Atlantis. Well, not Atlantis exactly, but what definitely looked like a balcony from Atlantis, overlooking the seas of Lantea, with its multiple moons gracing the sky. Mounted around the painting were little sketches - of alien plants, of Sheppard and McKay wearing Ancient-style outfits but armed with swords, McKay with a glowing orb of light hovering over his outstretched hand while they peered into a cave.
David recognized so many pieces based on studies he’d seen in Evan’s sketchbook that one time he’d dared to look through it. He wondered if Evan would get into trouble for drawing Atlantis and putting it up for display - or sale, if the signs were correct. The lovely black woman who was showing his art to an older couple turned and greeted Evan with a smile, hugged him, and Evan hugged her back. They were clearly old friends. David crept further into the gallery, glancing at the other displays for other artists. He picked up a brochure and angled himself toward an abstract painting that was all primary colors and strained to hear Evan’s voice. He was no soldier, no spy, but he’d learned from his time in Pegasus, and he could be stealthy when needed.
“Evan, back so soon! I thought it was going to be at least another six months before we saw you,” the lovely woman was saying.
“Unexpected change in job circumstances, so I’m back in town for the foreseeable future,” Evan said.
“Oh no,” the woman began, but Evan hastened to reassure her he still had his day job, he’d just changed locations.
The woman explained to the older couple that Evan had been a contributor at her gallery for five years now, but his job tended to take him on the road and overseas, so for him to come by in person was a rare and special treat. Apparently the Air Force didn’t care what art Evan sold, because he’d been doing it for a long time, since before he came to Atlantis. Maybe it was more plausible deniability, like Wormhole X-treme.
“Jonathan,” the woman said, “did you know Evan was back in town?”
“I’d heard,” Jonathan said.
“Jonathan here is Evan’s biggest fan,” the woman continued. “You’d better be careful - if you want a piece, you have to get to it before Jonathan does.”
“You’re an art collector? Unusual, in someone your age,” the older man said.
David turned, and there, standing near Evan, was the boy from Evan’s sketchbook. The boy was wearing khakis and a button-down shirt and a leather jacket, had his hands jammed in his pockets, posture casual, but there was something about the way he was watching Evan out of the corner of his eye that made David curious. He sidled a little closer.
“Well, to be good at something, you have to start young,” the boy said.
“Collecting art is an expensive habit,” the man pointed out.
The boy shrugged. “That’s the beauty of Sheila’s gallery, though. The art is fairly priced, reasonable enough for consumers without short-changing the talented artists she features.”
“Don’t let Jonathan fool you,” Sheila said, patting him on the shoulder. “He may be young, but he’s brilliant in his own right. He works at the Winchester garage across town, restoring old cars and rebuilding plane engines.”
The man raised his eyebrows. “Plane engines? Wherever did you learn that?”
“My uncle’s an Air Force flyboy. Learned a thing or two from him.” In person, Jonathan was beautiful, his expressions bright and mobile. He was charming.
He wasn’t a soldier himself? David remembered that sketch of him in an officer's uniform. Perhaps he was with the military, though David had never seen him at the Mountain. Sheila the gallery owner didn’t seem to know Evan was a soldier, for whatever reason, so maybe Jonathan was keeping quiet about his true career too? Except Sheila had said he worked at a garage as a fancy mechanic. Not that Air Force didn’t need mechanics. Was Jonathan lying to her?
“Don’t worry about Jonathan monopolizing Evan’s art,” Sheila said, smiling. “He has fairly specific taste when it comes to which pieces of Evan’s he buys.”
The older woman smiled at Evan. “Your work is lovely, young man. Where do you find the inspiration for such fantastic worlds?”
“In the world around me, ma’am,” Evan said. “The entire universe is beautiful, if we take the chance to look.”
David had never seen Evan so open and relaxed, so - happy. He’d been noticeably unhappy since his last round of leave. David had assumed it was because his relationship with his boytoy back home wasn’t going well, but there didn’t appear to be any animosity between them. No special affection, either, but Evan was an Air Force officer and Jonathan looked barely legal and they were both male, so of course they were being circumspect.
David wondered how they’d met, if it had been some movie meet-cute, where Evan showed up at the garage where Jonathan worked when he needed help with his car, or maybe when Jonathan was admiring one of Evan’s paintings and commenting on it to Evan, unaware of who he was till Evan, overcome by Jonathan’s warm praise, confessed his identity.
David needed to stop borrowing Miko’s shoujo manga in his spare time.
And then another woman approached Sheila, holding up a print.
Sheila smiled and nodded. “Indeed I am.”
“I was just wondering,” the woman said, “if you happened to know who inspired this picture, if the artist ever told you.”
Sheila looked at the print and smiled. “Well, the artist - Evan - is right here, so you could ask him if you want, but I suspect Evan drew his inspiration from Jonathan, who’s a regular buyer here at the gallery. He and Evan are good friends.”
The woman smiled at Evan, then turned to Jonathan, and her face went very pale. “Jonathan, did you say your name was?”
Jonathan’s expression turned unreadable. “Yes, ma’am.”
Evan reached out to her. “Is everything all right?”
The woman swallowed hard. She held up the print beside Jonathan, gaze darting back and forth between them. “Yes, just - you look like somebody that I used to know.”
“Hopefully not someone you have bad memories of,” Sheila said carefully.
“No,” the woman said. “I just - the likeness is uncanny. I mean - you’re much younger than he is. But you’re the spitting image of him, when he was your age.”
“They say everyone has a twin out there,” Jonathan offered.
“You even sound like him.” The woman reached out to Jonathan, then snatched her hand back, horrified. “Sorry. It’s just so unreal.”
“What was your friend’s name?” Evan asked, tone polite and solicitous.
“He’s my ex-husband, actually. Jack O’Neill.”
David blinked. Jack O’Neill. As in...General O’Neill? The legendary original leader of SG-1? David had only met him once and couldn’t really remember what he looked like. Did Jonathan look like him?
Evan’s expression turned unreadable as well. “Oh. I hope my work doesn’t upset you. I’m sure it’s total coincidence, that my friend looks like your ex.”
“I’m not upset at all.” The woman smiled faintly. “You have an amazing imagination, and I like the look of him in this picture, an alien knave on a distant planet, sword in hand. I was just surprised, to see this face.”
“Thank you, ma’am,” Evan said.
“How much for this print?” the woman asked Sheila, and Sheila led her over to the desk to complete the sale.
David hovered, unsure of what to do. He’d officially hung around and eavesdropped long enough that he was definitely being a stalker, but Evan was charming the older couple, Jonathan standing idly by, and David really did want to talk to Evan, say hi, and he was dying to know about Jonathan as well.
The older couple drifted away to look at some more paintings, and Jonathan drifted closer to Evan, leaned in and spoke softly.
David drifted closer and strained to hear.
“So that was her?” Evan asked.
“Yeah. Didn’t realize she was still around town. Thought she’d have gone back to Chicago by now.”
“Where she’s from. Her dad retired out here, so it made some sense for her to stay here, but he passed about a year ago, so -”
“You keep up on her?”
“No. Saw it in the obits in the newspaper was all.”
“I guess I should stop drawing you into my world,” Evan said. “Someone else might recognize you.”
“Someone else might,” Jonathan said, “but last I checked, I thought I had a standing invitation to your world.”
“You know you do.”
“Not that world.”
“No, not anymore, it’s true.”
There was a heavily-laden silence between the two men, and then Jonathan said, “See you at dinner.”
“See you then.”
Jonathan turned and left, and Evan turned to greet another gallery patron interested in his art.
David decided he’d been creepy enough. Maybe he’d catch Evan on base sometime, when one or both of them weren’t buried up to their necks in paperwork while Landry and the IOA still fretted about what to do with everyone from Atlantis. He ducked out of the gallery and headed back down the street toward his original destination, pondering. David had been given the option of joining a gate team, but if he didn’t get to be on Evan’s, he didn’t want to go through the gate at all.
What did it mean, that Evan was probably secretly dating a teenager who was the spitting image of Jack O’Neill? Evan had been serving on SG-11 around the same time O’Neill was still leading SG-1. O’Neill was a good-looking guy, but not particularly crush-worthy, at least not to David, but then he’d never fallen for the whole silver fox schtick anyway.
Evan was David’s friend, though, and he didn’t want Evan to get into trouble. So David kept his newfound knowledge to himself and kept on walking. But he wondered about young Jonathan, if he knew what Evan really was, what he did.
And he wondered what it would be like, to have someone on Earth waiting for him.