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Writing on the Wall

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Evan had missed team night with his men. Coughlin, Reed, and Parrish were good guys. Coughlin and Reed had been reassigned to gate teams straight away, since there was room for them, what with the terribly high casualty rates at Stargate Command. Parrish had been assigned to base botany for now, but he’d admitted there was some talk of him being assigned to a gate team as well.

“What about you?” Parrish asked. “Scuttlebutt has it that Landry’s thinking of giving you a gate team of your own.”

“Not sure I want one,” Evan admitted.

“Because it’s not us?” Coughlin batted his eyelashes. “Aw, Major, you’re too sweet.”

Evan swatted him on the shoulder. “You’re not that cute, Sergeant.”

Coughlin made a kissy face, and Reed shoved him good-naturedly.

“What would they have you do, if you weren’t on a gate team?” Parrish asked.

“They might put me in charge of my own mining operation,” Evan said. “Of course, as XO I handled an awful lot of logistics, and it wouldn’t hurt to have an additional logistics officer on base. Not to mention I think the current logistics officer has about hit his twenty.”

“But if we did get back together as a team?” Parrish worried his bottom lip.

Evan smiled and patted his shoulder gently. “Then you know I’d be there for you.”

“What if we got to go back to Atlantis?” Reed asked. “Would you come?”

“I honestly don’t know,” Evan began, and unholy glee lit in Coughlin’s eyes.

“Holy shit! Major’s got a girl here on Earth! Who is she, sir?”

“There’s no girl,” Evan said, rolling his eyes.

Coughlin nudged Reed. “There totally is.”

“There’s a reason I came on the second wave and not on the first,” Evan pointed out. “I have family here, ties here.”

“But Atlantis is home,” Reed said quietly, and Evan nodded.

Parrish’s expression was unreadable for a moment, but then he said, “I can’t imagine there’s a girl on this planet good enough for our Saint Evan.”

Coughlin raised his bottle of beer. “Saint Evan!”

They called him Saint Evan after he dealt with particularly sticky issues, usually involving McKay’s temper.

“Well,” Parrish said, “if you’re not going to be flinging yourself through the gate on a regular basis like an eternal Red Shirt, would you help me with a project?”

“What kind of project?” Evan ignored Reed and Coughlin’s protests at being called Red Shirts. “I’m more geophysics, less botany.”

“I want to make a book,” Parrish said. “About all the plants we’ve found in Pegasus.”

“A book?” Reed echoed. “Wouldn’t that be really...big?”

“Obviously the Botany department kept logs, wrote papers and reports, and it’s all accessible digitally,” Parrish said, warming to the subject, and Evan was pleased to see him looking happy and animated. He’d been even quieter than usual tonight. “But I’m a little old-school, and I thought an actual book would be nice.”

“I’m not much of a writer,” Evan said. He could write succinct AARs and had developed a knack for useful euphemisms (‘thrown in jail for the hundredth time’ was ‘encountered local resistance’), but he was definitely no technical writer.

“But you’re an artist,” Parrish pointed out. “I was hoping you’d illustrate the book for me.”

“You’re a talented artist yourself, though. I mean, I’ve seen your diagrams of your plant findings. I’m flattered you think I could do better,” Evan said. “But I don’t know that I can, especially since I don’t have your scientific skill.”

“Please, you’re much better at drawing than I am.” Parrish flapped a dismissive hand. “And like I said, I’m old-school, and I’d want you to illuminate the book, too.”

Coughlin’s eyes lit up. “Ooh, like the Voynich manuscript?”

“Except, you know, not garbled and not meaningless,” Parrish said.

“Has anyone looked at the Voynich manuscript? To see if it has something we can read, or, you know, that’s from Pegasus,” Coughlin said.

“Pretty sure Jackson already did,” Reed said.

Anyway,” Parrish broke in, “back to the task at hand. Would you do it, Evan? I mean - not all right away. I’d have to work up the text and base diagrams myself. But...it could be something you sort of do in your spare time.”

“Because we have so much spare time,” Coughlin muttered.

Evan nodded. “No, I’d be honored.”

“You’d get credit for your illustrations, obviously,” Parrish continued. “And maybe - maybe you could do the lettering, too? You have such pretty handwriting.”

Evan started to nod, then paused. “Wait, what? No, my handwriting isn’t all that pretty.” It was neat, but not pretty.

Parrish picked a piece of paper up off the coffee table. “Oh. This - this isn’t your writing? I’ve been staring at it all night. It’s super pretty. I figured an artist would have pretty handwriting. I mean, on Atlantis it’s impossible to find paper, so I don’t think I’ve ever seen your handwriting. I just assumed -”

Coughlin snatched the piece of paper from Parrish. “This is totally a girl’s handwriting.”

Reed peered over his shoulder. “You mean an old lady’s handwriting. Girls nowadays put hearts on their i’s and stuff.”

“Don’t let Cadman hear you say that,” Parrish warned.

“Hey,” Coughlin said, “don’t call the Major’s girl an old lady. I’m sure she’s a very classy lady.”

“For the last time, there is no lady,” Evan said, his heart in his throat, because Jonathan had old-fashioned handwriting.

Parrish tried to grab the paper back from Coughlin. “I’m sorry, Evan. I didn’t mean to snoop in your stuff. I figured - it was on the table -” He looked terribly apologetic.

Evan held his hand out. “Give it over, guys.”

“Your girlfriend’s a bit of a gear head,” Coughlin said. “Things to do so Evan’s car stops running like crap: oil change, tire rotation, head job, new serpentine belt, clean fuel injector.

“That could be from his mom,” Reed pointed out. “That’s the kind of list my mom would make.”

“I really hope his mom wouldn’t include making out in the back seat as one of the entries on a list for her son.” Coughlin pointed.

Reed raised his eyebrows. “Really?” He gazed at Evan with wide-eyed.

“That’s on there as a joke,” Evan said.

“From your mom?”

“No, from a friend. Because I’ve had a bit of a dry spell.”

“Is your friend a hot female?” Coughlin waggled his eyebrows meaningfully.

“Yes,” Evan said, a little too quickly.

I’m sorry, Parrish mouthed, and Evan realized. Parrish knew. Something. Enough to be incriminating.

Evan saw it the moment Reed figured it out. He sat back, his expression going blank.

Coughlin nudged Evan. “She won’t be just a friend for long, will she? This is a sign, right? She wants to make out with you in the back seat of your admittedly lame car.”

“Maybe your friend could do the lettering for Parrish’s book,” Reed said finally.

“Maybe,” Evan said. He took a long pull of his beer. “Now, whose turn is it to pick the movie?”

While the others laughed over a buddy cop comedy, Evan fidgeted, darting nervous glances at the incriminating piece of paper with Jonathan’s handwriting on it, Jonathan’s sly written flirtation. Parrish knew and was okay with it. Reed knew. Was he okay with it? He’d never said a word about Sheppard and McKay.

Evan sat back and sipped his beer and wished he’d gone over to Jonathan’s instead.