[identity profile] calcitrix.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] slashing_lorne
Title: (Eyes Like a) Stormy Sky
Author: [livejournal.com profile] calcitrix
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Pairing: Lorne/Parrish (pre-slash), mentions of McKay/Brown
Rating: PG
Word Count: 4,600
Summary: Early second season. Atlantis needs to find a new Beta Site, so Lorne and Cadman escort Doctors Parrish and Brown to check out a potential planet.
Disclaimer: Nope
Author's Note: I'd love to continue this...big plans, big plans.





David Parrish stepped off the ramp of the jumper and took a deep breath, closing his eyes and tipping his head back to concentrate. Nothing gave a better first impression of a new planet than its smell. P4X-659 was a little heavy on ozone, carbon dioxide, and water vapor, making it feel like a storm was just over the horizon despite the clear blue expanse of sky overhead. And there was a hint of tannin maybe, like day-old tea; dirt, of course, where his boots had scuffed the grass; underlying it all was a faint sweetness that reminded him of honeysuckle. It was always exhilarating to come to a new world full of discoveries waiting like presents to unwrap. A fresh breeze teased through his hair as excitement flashed through David’s limbs and left his skin tingling.

“Whaddya think, doc?” David’s eyes snapped open at the break in his concentration and he whipped his head around to find Major Evan Lorne regarding him with amusement from the top of the ramp.

David tried to turn his smile down a few notches. The military personnel had a system in place for ranking the relative tediousness of "babysitting"each of the scientists. Doctor Zelenka (Radek would do almost anything in return for an extra supply of greenhouse-grown coffee including, but not limited to, hacking into the unofficial Atlantis military forums and boards) had shown the list to David once. The anthropologists had come out on top as they tended to get invited to a rather lot of festivals. After that, being at the top or bottom of the tier relied not on department but project, such as: Doctor Southam in marine biology, who netted giant eels and other foodstuffs from the back of a jumper (top); Doctor DiResta, also in marine biology, who had the task of keeping the water recycling tanks free of algae (bottom), and so on, down to almost the very bottom of the list, where it said, Doctor Parrish, botany, goes a little nuts over plants. At least he'd beaten out Doctor Baxter, who collected plants and insects and was...well, kind of creepy.

So maybe he got a little excited, but really it wasn't fair at all. Doctor McKay had nearly crapped his pants last week when he'd found an Ancient weapons platform that didn't even work. No one had so much as batted an eye when McKay hadn't slept for three days and had wandered around mumbling to himself like a crazy person before finally blowing up most of a solar system. And as much as David appreciated the need for certain scientists to make things explode, he'd also appreciate the occasional military escort who didn't act like they'd rather chew their own legs off than take him through the 'gate because he studied plants that just sat there not exploding (usually).

The grumbling must have finally reached critical mass, though, because David's escort the last two times he'd been offworld had been Major Lorne and his team. The major had apparently given up on dealing with the mess and was taking over the task personally. David vowed not to be too much of a pain in the ass and then promptly opened his mouth and said, "The nutrient recycling system in the grasslands seems to work as quickly as a rainforest's on Earth, but without the leaching common to a clay bed. There must have been heavy deposits of loess over the last few thousand years." He pressed his lips firmly together to keep from babbling about acidity and nitrogen levels.

But Major Lorne just nodded, shading his eyes to look out over the landscape. “Doesn’t look like much.”

“Isn’t that kind of the point, sir?” Lieutenant Laura Cadman, dressed in muted marine grays, stuck her head out of the jumper and squinted at the sky. “The first survey team reported no people, dinosaurs, giant man-eating land squids, or anything else out there, right? Perfect Beta Site.”

“Mmmm,” Major Lorne answered noncommittally, stepping off the metal of the ramp and into the tall grass, absently sweeping his hand over the fluffy seed heads. His radio earpiece crackled, and he looked to the sky where the second jumper with the other half of his team was starting its scan of the continent. It might be perfect for a new Beta Site, but David knew that if they really needed to evacuate Atlantis and the Alpha Site was unavailable it’d mean the shit storm had really hit. And if that were the case, whatever planet they chose for a Beta Site would be their home for a while. It would need to be free of danger, yes, but also be able to support crops from Earth, Athos, Manaria, and a half-dozen other planets while hopefully supplying a small source of native food as well.

David settled his backpack more comfortably over his shoulders and grinned out at the wide horizon. He was already cataloging the few plants here and there that he could identify as potentially edible from the shade of the jumper. Now if he and Katie could— He turned around and leaned into the opening of the jumper, bracing himself on the hybrid metal exterior that was already soaking up the warmth of the sun. "Katie?" he called.

The lights in the jumper had turned themselves off when the hatch had opened, and Doctor Brown was kneeling on the floor with her bag on the jumper's bench. "I'm almost ready," she said, even though he'd watched her pack that same bag in the botany lab two hours ago and they both knew everything was in order.

"You're finally offworld," David said. "Come on." He sighed, remembering the first time he'd been to a new planet (none of them really counted Atlantis). He'd nearly thrown up going through the 'gate and had stumbled around in a daze for half an hour before he'd even noticed any individual plants, let alone gotten his first sample. Minor bumps such as dead wraith aside, he'd lost his fear and kept the wonder. "It's perfectly safe, Katie." He gave her his absolutely widest, most enthusiastic grin. "Now get out here and see your first alien planet."

Katie stood and threw her bag over her shoulder. "You know, I was kind of okay with people just bringing plants back to my lab in Atlantis." She walked out of the jumper and hopped off the side of the ramp to stand next to him. Then she looked around. He watched her expression morph from nervous to nervous-but-a-little-excited and figured that was the best he could hope for at the moment.

Major Lorne and Lieutenant Cadman were both still scanning the horizon, ever watchful and patient. David hoped their patience would last for the three days they planned on being here. He fixed his eyes on the only tree nearby and started toward it. After a moment, Katie hurried to catch up and drew alongside as Major Lorne and Lieutenant Cadman flanked them casually on either side.

They set up their equipment under the tree, as it was the only obvious landmark to be seen across the flat plain and though both botanists were warned not to wander, David knew they would. It wasn't like they could really get lost. He bet he could see the even the squat profile of the jumper from miles away. Carrying a specimen bag, trowel, and notebook, he headed off through the grass, looking for plants that could be cultivated on the Mainland and farmed here in addition to whatever they might plant from their own stock.

An hour or so later David's inspection of a something-like-an-onion was interrupted by Katie's voice. "You've been offworld a lot, right, David?"

David glanced over his shoulder and saw that Katie's attention was fixed on the trowel in her hands as she dug at the soil around the root of a something-like-a-lily. Thinking she was still nervous about being offworld for the first time he tried to sound enthusiastic rather than interrupted and replied, "Of course."

"And...You haven't had the same military escort twice except for Major Lorne?" Katie looked over at the major, standing at ease behind them, apparently doing nothing much beyond enjoying the summery day. Lieutenant Cadman was a bit further back, smiling into the breeze that ruffled the blond hair that strayed from her braid.

How to word an answer? Katie didn't know about The List since she wasn't on it yet and he'd felt that telling her about it would only crush her already fragile acceptance that Doctor McKay had put her on the offworld science roster without even asking her first. "Botany assignments aren't...very exciting," he said lamely, gesturing with dirt-stained fingers to their two escorts. Right on cue, Major Lorne yawned, scratched the back of his neck, then crossed his arms and rocked back on his heels. His lips moved like maybe he was talking to himself, or singing, but they were just far enough away not to catch any sound.

Katie rolled her eyes from David to Major Lorne and back again. "Oh. Hmmm."

David sighed. "What?" Words like "oblique" and "obtuse" had been invented for the way Katie handled most conversations and half the time he only figured out what they had been talking about hours later.

"You know." Katie rolled her eyes in the direction of Major Lorne again and it was a good thing the major was staring off at the tree because she wasn't making it totally obvious that they were talking about him or anything.

The something-like-an-onion was the only thing on hand with which to pretend intense preoccupation but David gave it his best shot. "I have no idea what you're talking about." Except that he did. He really, really did, and he really, really didn't want to have this conversation again. A month ago Katie--sweet little Katie, who was sometimes so naive that David felt achingly sorry for her--had asked his advice on how to attract the attention of one of the scientists. He'd assumed she'd meant someone quiet and low-key like her and he had happily spent the better part of an hour discussing the merits of notes and emails versus direct confrontation and imagining how adorable it would be when she sneaked off into the ferns with the cute little xenobiologist who kept bringing her flowers or maybe the cultural anthropologist who kept coming around to ask about the best fruit for making wine. When David had pressed her for a name and she'd finally blurted, "Doctor McKay!" he'd started laughing so hard that tears had welled up in her eyes. He’d given an almost sincere apology but had felt so guilty about making her cry that, in an effort to restore lost camaraderie, he'd admitted his own secret crush.

And really, Katie had better stop the eye-rolling thing before the object of said secret crush totally caught on. Still, David couldn't help but glance over through lowered lashes at Major Lorne, who was now contemplating the single puffy cloud that rested low on the horizon. He was wearing the blue-gray BDUs that matched his eyes and over that the standard tactical vest and thigh holster and…David swallowed and looked back down at the dirt-covered bulb in his hands. He always tried not to stare too obviously at the thigh holster strapped to Major Lorne’s leg and how it so clearly followed the curve of muscle, or at how the black material forced the eye to follow its shape upward to where it was attached to the belt and where, on a good day, the major’s shirt might have come untucked a little and David would be able to glimpse a stretch of warm skin and a shadow of hip bone.

Anyway, it wasn't a very poetic description of his eye color. They were more...not quite indigo. Not quite slate. More like clouds in a stormy sky.

A clod of dirt hit David’s elbow and exploded. He glared over at Katie as she tried not to giggle. It was all very well for her; she was finally dating Doctor McKay and actually seemed to be having a good time. David picked up a chunk of dirt next to his knee and tossed it back. It hit Katie’s collection box and showered her with a fine spray of grit. She escalated to a larger dirt clod that he almost managed to duck but that mostly ended up in his hair.

David was groping for something else to throw when a hand came to rest on his shoulder and Major Lorne spoke low and easy, right into his ear. “Everything okay, doc?” David froze for a moment, and then very slowly turned his head until he was gazing into the major’s laughing eyes, inches from his own. He was sure they were close enough for Major Lorne to pick up on the stuttering pace of the pulse in David’s neck that always gave away his nervousness.

“Yes, major.” He swallowed and tried to steady his voice. “We were just, uh, trading soil samples.” The corners of Major Lorne’s eyes crinkled as he smiled and David added it to the growing list of things he probably shouldn’t stare at. But then Major Lorne reached out and rubbed a thumb over David’s eyebrow, brushing at a smear of dirt. David’s lips parted and he sucked in a breath as the major’s fingers moved up through his hair and dislodged the worst of the dirt.

“Doctor Brown, you’ve got a wicked arm,” Major Lorne said approvingly. He straightened and turned away from David, checking his watch. And David knew he definitely, definitely shouldn't be staring now. He licked his lips and felt his cheeks going red even as his eyes drifted down the back of Major Lorne's pants and settled on the strap of the holster that pulled the fabric snug against his leg. He imagined running a hand along the inside of that bare thigh, ghosting fingers along smooth skin. David shivered as a flicker of desire flared out from the center of his stomach and he jerked his eyes away and back toward the ground. He'd snapped off the top of the something-like-an-onion without realizing it; he'd have to dig up another one now.

Major Lorne glanced back over his shoulder and said, "I'm gonna go put up the two tents for tonight, and then it should be about lunch time. I'll be back in a little bit." Then his mouth quirked up at the edges and he added, "Try not to get in another dirt clod fight while I'm gone."

David nodded dumbly. Tents. Tents and then lunch but first a little time without the major so close that he could feel his presence like the extra ozone in the air. Then his brain backpedaled. Two. Tents. Lieutenant Cadman, Katie, Major Lorne, David. It didn't take a PhD to figure out who would be sharing with whom. He threw Katie a look that he hoped conveyed his absolute horror. She gave him a thumbs up.

His concentration pretty much blown after that, David tried to focus on the amazing array of plants the planet had to offer as he and Katie moved slowly across the plain. He ran a litany of scientific names through his head as he compared what he found with plants that were native to Earth. Allium schoenoprasum, Cymopterus acaulis, Poa arida Vasey, Linum perenne. By the time Major Lorne came back and gathered them in for lunch, David had wrangled the nervousness tinged with outright fear that he would do something so embarrassing in his sleep that he would immediately have to transfer back to Earth into a controllable bundle but had not quite managed to quash the occasional conflicting spark of anticipation.

MREs had never had less appeal. Usually the cheese tortellini was among the least offensive but today David felt like he was swallowing rocks. He set down the empty pouch and skipped over the peanut butter and crackers, heading straight for the cookie instead. He was a perfectly reasonable adult who had chosen to move to an entirely different galaxy so he could do what he was doing now. He was on an alien planet cataloging plants, and later they would select an area and cultivate a few plants that had come from Earth and other alien worlds to see how they fared in the soil, climate, and sun. He took a deep breath and felt the last of the tension ease its way out of his shoulders. It was silly anyway to be so worried about trivial things like having to share a sleeping space with Major Lorne for a couple of nights. Looking out at the landscape again, he smiled and bit into the cookie.

"So, Major Lorne," Katie asked, glancing up from her chili and macaroni and looking so innocent that it raised the hairs on the back of David's neck, "now that I'll be going offworld more, I'd like to know if I'll have an official team or if I'll just have lots of different military escorts like David does."

Major Lorne swallowed a bite of his bread and shrugged. "Sounds like you'll mostly work with the other botanists doing surveys like this," he answered. "I'd imagine you'll be back here a lot, or maybe on the mainland or at the Alpha Site." He rubbed a hand along his jaw, looking like he was unsure whether to add more. "Colonel Sheppard said that Doctor McKay wanted to make sure you didn't go anywhere that wasn't totally safe."

"Oh." Katie looked down at her meal and fiddled with her spoon. Then she smiled. "That was very thoughtful of him." Personally David thought it only meant that Doctor McKay wasn't a complete asshole. Katie had been perfectly content in the botany lab on Atlantis before the man had decided she needed to start gong offworld. Still, if she liked him as much as David thought she did, he must have redeeming qualities that hadn't been apparent the few times he'd visited the lab, called David by the wrong name while asking him to "get rid of the pollen," and then given him a look of such utter disdain that David had felt his face burn for minutes afterward.

"But still," Katie continued doggedly, "David has gone to a bunch of different worlds and it's always with a different team. Well...except for the last few times." She didn't even glance at David, who was trying to convey his intense desire for her to stop her line of questioning. Lieutenant Cadman snickered, though, and when David looked over at her she suddenly found her MRE packaging fascinating, and if Katie had spilled the beans at girls' poker night David was going to throttle her.

David stuffed the last of his cookie into his mouth and tried to act like he was not at all interested in Major Lorne's answer. "Gate teams get assigned to scientists on a sort of...rotating basis," the major explained. "It was my team's turn to escort Doctor Parrish to the planet where we found the dead wraith, Lieutenant Ford, and Ronon." He raised his eyebrows. Everyone knew about that mission. "And since technically Doctor Parrish never got to complete his survey, we just went with him on the next one instead." He started cleaning up the remains of his lunch, then looked back up and grinned. "And I asked Colonel Sheppard for this assignment, because who wouldn't want to spend a few days on a nice, safe, sunny planet?" He stood and stretched, and there was that little bit of shirt coming untucked again, and David wondered for the hundredth time why the standard issue jackets were so short.

As they packed away their wrappers, Katie leaned over toward David and mouthed, "I think he likes you."

David shot her a glare and mouthed back, "Shut up."

They wandered in the opposite direction that afternoon, and David gave an audible sigh of relief when he saw that Lieutenant Cadman would be staying with them while Major Lorne checked in with Atlantis through the jumper's communication system.

Lieutenant Cadman followed his line of sight and said, "You don't have to sound so put out about it. He'll be back."

David felt himself blush from his neck to his forehead. "No! No, that wasn't what I, uh--Look! Lomatium dissectum!" He sank to his knees and tried to ignore Lieutenant Cadman's disbelieving snort. It was going to be a long afternoon.

At least Katie and Lieutenant Cadman had something to talk about, even if it was Doctor McKay. He could hardly believe that the lieutenant had been in the man's actual head for two days. He would have thought it would make things particularly awkward between the two women--apparently Lieutenant Cadman had been present during Katie and Doctor McKay's first date. And Doctor Beckett had, too, though thankfully in corporeal form. David wondered if that counted as a double date. But the women seemed to get along famously, and David found himself having to rather unwillingly downgrade Doctor McKay's status from "not a complete asshole" to "only sometimes a jerk" when it became clear that both of them approved of the man.

Mercifully, Lieutenant Cadman stayed with them through the afternoon and Major Lorne took up a post closer to the jumper. David saw him speaking into his headset occasionally, probably checking in with the survey team who would be finishing up their scans and returning to Atlantis later in the day.

By the time the sun began to set and the first giant moon to rise, they had collected dozens of plants and Lieutenant Cadman had ferried them to the jumper to be put into the miniature stasis pods for storage with the ones from that morning. David's shoulders and knees ached from kneeling and digging all day. The breeze had picked up, but the sky was as clear as ever and he'd gotten used to the slightly odd feel of the air. Now if he could just get through the night maybe he could manage to keep his thoughts firmly on plants for the next two days. Plants, and not...anything else.

Katie must have finally taken pity on him, for as they packed their tools she turned to Lieutenant Cadman and asked, "Won't the tents be kind of stuffy? Can't we just sleep outside?"

Lieutenant Cadman grinned and shook her head. "Nope. With all the moisture in the atmosphere we'd be soaking wet in the morning." Katie looked at David and gave him a little shrug. His return smile got stuck halfway when Lieutenant Cadman continued, "You're right, though. Probably don't want to sleep in too many clothes." She slapped David on the shoulder as she passed and picked up his bag of tools, slinging the pack over her shoulder and heading for camp.

David closed his eyes and took a deep, shuddering breath. Oh, yes--wasn't offworld travel fun.

The military had skewed ideas of what it considered to be food, David knew that already. But to call the small triangular space he crawled into that night a "two man" tent was laughable. I'm going to explode, he thought miserably, looking at the sleeping bags that were practically overlapping each other. The chicken and salsa he'd had for dinner turned uncomfortably in his stomach.

"Get a move on, doc!" Major Lorne called from behind him. David realized he was on his hands and knees with his rear sticking out of the opening and scrambled to the farthest sleeping bag. Major Lorne ducked in behind him and sat cross legged on the other.

David's head hit the top of the tent even when he slouched and he couldn't imagine how he would even get into the sleeping bag without elbowing Major Lorne in the face, let alone get out of his clothes. But he'd already decided that it was absolutely imperative that he not, under any circumstances, actually remove his clothing. Even if he suffocated. Just his jacket, which he started to pull off, careful not to put an arm through the fabric of the tent or into the space above Major Lorne's sleeping bag. His boots were already sitting outside, which meant he was as undressed as he planned to be. Ignoring all movement next to him, he scooted to the open end of the bag and stuck his feet in.

"Jeez, you're going to sweat to death like that."

David willed himself to be strong and very, very slowly looked over at Major Lorne. There was just enough moonlight filtering though the tent to catch the bemused smile on his face, and more than enough to illuminate his bare shoulders and glint against the dog tags that hung around his throat. A few pale scars shone on his skin, and David's eyes traveled from one to another, and then further, on to the perfectly smooth planes of his stomach and past the olive drab boxer briefs to where muscle and tendon corded above the knee.

David wanted to scream, he wanted to follow the line of bared collar bone with his tongue, he wanted to feel the skin on that thigh quiver under his palm. Instead he looked away and carefully said, "I'm fine."

"Suit yourself." Major Lorne shrugged and settled into his sleeping bag. Within minutes his breathing had become slow and even, and David dared to look over again. The major had left the flap of the bag open, as if he were inviting David to take his fill.

Completely,David thought, flopping down into his own bag, and utterly, pulling the flap up, thank you very much, unfair. It lasted until he really thought he was going to suffocate, and he finally gave in and peeled off his shirt. Stuffing it into the sack that doubled as a pillow, he turned on his side and watched the rise and fall of Major Lorne's chest until he, too, fell asleep.

************************

Evan awoke in the morning with the slight ache that came from sleeping on a damp planet. He started to stretch and then realized that his arm was pinned. He raised his head enough to see that David had sort of squished up against him while they slept. Turning as carefully as possible he propped himself up on his elbow and smiled down at the botanist. David was making little snuffling noises and his wide mouth was partly open. He looked pretty cute, really, but not nearly as adorable as when his lively face was animated with excitement about some plant or another. Oh, and he'd finally ditched the shirt. Evan reached out to run a finger down David's one lean, exposed shoulder but stopped just short of making contact. David was flustered enough already, and that was pretty cute, too. Still, now wasn't exactly the best time. He put his hand on David's shoulder and shook him awake instead. "Hey, doc. Time to get up. Those plants won't be there forever, you know."

a lorne/parrish shipping lurker delurking

Date: 2009-12-18 09:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] camp-permafrost.livejournal.com
OMG! i just read first three paragraphs and i can't read more now (cause i'm at work) and it made me giggle out loud (and i'm at WORK), so i already know it will be good!

Re: a lorne/parrish shipping lurker delurking

Date: 2009-12-19 04:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] camp-permafrost.livejournal.com
it was good, just too short ^)

esp liked the "trading soil samples" bit and also the accidental cuddling

Date: 2009-12-18 04:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] neevebrody.livejournal.com
I do hope you will continue this! I love that Lorne thinks the doc's cute as well. You really made me 'see' David and it was a nice look at Cadman and Katie. I enjoy these little insights into the secondary characters.

Also, the art is lovely!

Date: 2009-12-19 02:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] imisspadfoot21.livejournal.com
Amazing! I love how this is unfolding. I really hope you continue it!

Also, the art is gorgeous! Don't usually see art, other than comics, use more vertical space...umm does this have an actual name? Anyway, it's lovely and interesting!

Thanks!

Date: 2009-12-26 02:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] imisspadfoot21.livejournal.com
You should write more often!

I like the narrow focus and the depth of field it creates! Eh, titles come when they want to...

Date: 2009-12-19 11:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] emma-in-oz.livejournal.com
because he studied plants that just sat there not exploding (usually).

My favourite line.

Date: 2009-12-19 08:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] less-star.livejournal.com
Awww, so adorable! I love Lorne/Parrish and would love to see more.

Date: 2009-12-20 10:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] clwilson2006.livejournal.com
Oh so loving this - I laughed at poor Davids situationa and I adore your Katie, she's a bad influence!

Date: 2010-01-04 11:07 pm (UTC)
ext_117441: (SGA Lorne Jumper Display)
From: [identity profile] ungratefulwench.livejournal.com
Oh, David! This was so much fun and the art had a lovely feeling of peaceful contentment to it =)

Date: 2010-01-19 02:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] beadattitude.livejournal.com
LOVE LOVE LOVE this.

Date: 2010-02-20 09:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] diek09.livejournal.com
Oh, such great story, but I feel a bit sad Parrish couldn't enjoy Lorne the way he wanted, lol!

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