Thirteen Letters for Maybe
a Stargate: Atlantis RPF story
by dirty diana
dirtydiana78@hotmail.com
for Moonie in the Pretty Lights actorfic challenge 2005.


In the morning, Joe does the crossword. He's been doing it for years, and never thought anything of it till Torri started to tease him about it. Rachel's addicted to sudoku, but she can't get him to try it. Instead, Joe gets his coffee, and then does the crossword. By the time he gets back to his trailer, David's usually there, stealing the Arts section out of Joe's newspaper.

"I need a crew member of the Starship Enterprise." Joe tells him. "Six letters." He's stuck on nine across.

"Got any of the letters?" David asks.

They're all friends now, all of them, Joe and Rachel and Torri and Rainbow and Jason and Paul, the crew too, and Amanda and Ben from the other side of the soundstage. Sometimes Joe isn't sure that that's a good thing. Sometimes Michael crashes into him on his way down the hall, doing the hundred meter sprint with Chris close behind him, yelling out something obscene, and Joe thinks he's way too old for this. Sometimes they're the best people he's ever known.

"Flirt. Eight letters."

"Torri," David answers quickly.

"Not enough letters," Joe points out, with a straight face.

"Sure there are. T - O - R - R - R..."

Torri arrives just in time to slap David in the back of the head and make a joke about satin handcuffs, one that has nothing to do with the conversation.

"Guess that answers the question," David says.

"Question?"

"Of what Torri wants for her birthday."

*

The time that David kisses him, it takes Joe a long time to realise what's happening. Then his hand tightens on David's wrist, causing David make a low noise in the back of his throat and pull Joe closer.

Joe only lets it last a moment longer before he pulls away. They are standing behind Joe's trailer, and the dawn is still breaking, into a pale orange sky. David's mouth is wet.

Across the park, voices carry, a shrill female voice encouraging her staff to get a fucking move on. Joe is embarrassed suddenly, letting his fingers fall from David's skin.

"What," he clears his throat, "what was that about?"

David shrugs, and he might be a little embarrassed too. "Had a bet with Torri."

"Oh," Joe frowns. "Who won?"

David won't tell him.

*

When Torri crawls into his lap at lunchtime, he thinks for certain that she already knows, but she doesn't say anything, laying her head pathetically on his shoulder.

"I am so hungover," she announces, pulling her sunglasses down over her eyes, despite the indoor darkness of Joe's trailer.

Joe pets her shoulder comfortingly. "Want a glass of water?"

"I don't need water." Her voice is high and light. "I need more booze."

Joe shrugs, as Torri moans uncomfortably. "Sorry. Can't help you there."

There's a rumour going around about Torri and David, the first week of shooting. Joe doesn't want to be that, a story told on the makeup chair. This is probably the best job he's ever had, and he doesn't want to fuck it up at all.

*

They were all supposed to meet for dinner. The restaurant has candles and a violinist, playing a sad waltz as she faces the corner. Joe's got a feeling that he's been set up.

David shakes his head as he hangs up his cellphone. "Torri can't make it."

"Car trouble?" Joe asks.

"No. That was Rachel."

The whole thing is overtly ridiculous, like they're all reading lines in a French play. "Torri knows that I'm married, right?"

David only raises his eyebrows.

Joe has heard Torri's opinions on marriage. Though she never quite uses the words "antiquated" and "patriarchy", she comes close.

"Still, though," David says, "as long as we're here." He orders wine.

*

Torri throws her own birthday party. There's music, and Rainbow doing handstands and knocking over vases, and more beer than Joe has seen in one place since college.

The handcuffs are pink. Torri lets David put them on her, then spins around, giggling. Joe thinks of slipping out quietly and going home.

*

Their favourite game is making fun of the American.

"I'm from Iowa," Jason explains, and claims neutrality.

David never plays, just sits beside Joe and laughs with them.

Joe scratches his ear, unoffended. "You guys make me feel like I should be apologising for something."

"You don't have to apologise for anything," David says, giving Joe a direct blue-eyed look that makes Joe think he's speaking of something else.

Joe turns away. "At least my country doesn't put its milk in bags," he points out. "That's just stupid."

"You're stupid," Torri answers, and musses his hair.

*

"Hey, Joe." David waves him down from across the parking lot. "Want to come? We're going over to the bar. Maybe pick up some girls."

"Speak for yourself." Torri is fishing for her car keys, inside a large purse with sequins on it. "I'm definitely going to pick up some girls."

"Until they catch a glimpse of my dashing figure," David answers, patting his belly.

"Whatever." Torri shakes her purse, and everything inside rattles and jingles. "I'm far prettier than you are."

David's mouth quirks up at the sides. "Joe, tell Torri who's prettier."

"You're prettier," Joe says, giving David a smile, and getting in his car to go home.

~fin.

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