Lesser Homes and Gardens
Stepping back through the gate and into Atlantis, Lorne felt some of his tension ease as he looked around the gate room. Man, she was a pretty thing, and he was glad to be back. They were due some downtime now, and Lorne was looking forward to putting on his civvies and trying his hand at the foosball table, maybe see if anyone else was interested in a pick-up soccer -- football, whatever they called it-- game.
Glancing to his right, he noticed that Parrish still looked a little woozy from the moss that had tried to eat him. "Come on, Doc." Lorne handed his P90 to Saenz and tucked Parrish's elbow in under his arm. "Let's get you to the infirmary, get that moss-wound looked at."
Parrish blinked down at him. "I think it was a very mild type of acid, nothing to be concerned about. Did we get any samples?"
Saenz held up a Plexiglas bottle of purple-red moss. "Right here."
"Fabulous." Parrish tried to make a grab for the bottle, but Lorne drew him back towards the exit.
"Ah-ah, Doc," he said, nudging them toward the hallway. "No touching the sample. Saenz will give it to Dr. Brown while we take a little trip to the infirmary."
Parrish drew a really long face. "Do we have to?"
"Yes, we do. After every mission, remember? No matter how many pretty plants you have to play with."
With heavy sigh, Parrish walked with Lorne down the corridor. "I don't see why we have to do this." He held out his hand, and Lorne could see the bright red dots on the back of his hand where the plant goop had touched it. "A little aloe and it will be fine."
Lorne shook his head. That was Parrish for you. Head in the clouds, feet tripping over the earth. Lorne figured he must spend half of every mission trying to bring Parrish to notice what was around them and instead of some fucking plant up on a cliffside. "The doc needs to check you out, Parrish. That's just procedure."
Leaning into Lorne, Parrish's voice dropped into that really low octave that made Lorne's toes curl. "Don't you find it...rather creepy?"
Damn but that voice did things to him that really had no right to happen while he had his uniform on. Lorne blinked, and worked on getting reality back into focus. "What's creepy?"
"The infirmary. It's all..." Parrish stopped dead in the hallway, his arms windmilling around him. "Clean and sterile."
"It's an infirmary. Of course it's clean and sterile." Lorne pressed his hand against Parrish's back, encouraging him to start walking towards the infirmary again, and decided to leave his arm around Parrish's waist. It made it easier to steer the scientist in the direction they needed to go. "What do you want, dirt and plants hanging about?"
Parrish blinked slowly, his long face thoughtful. "Now that you mention it, the infirmary atmosphere would be improved by a couple of Ficus Athosia. Or maybe a Philodendron Verilux."
Lorne rolled his eyes and tightened his grip on Parrish, pulling him in close. "You probably wanted to keep the ten-thousand-year-old dead trees, too."
"Oh, we did keep them." Parrish said earnestly, turning his head slightly so he could look at Lorne. "At least, we kept a few as samples, just in case we needed them."
Pulling his gaze away from Parrish, Lorne determinedly turned back to looking at the hallway. They were nearly at the infirmary now, so he dropped his arm from around Parrish's waist and ignored how really fucking empty and cold that felt. "What, you planning on building a bonfire out on the north pier?"
"Heavens, no! We just might need--"
"Hey, Dr. Kasturi!" As they stopped into the room, Lorne cut Parrish off and waved to the first person he saw.
Dr. Kasturi turned at the sound of Lorne's voice. "Now, Major. I remember asking you to call me Abi." When she spoke English, her voice had a pleasant sing-song quality to it that Lorne kinda liked, even if he couldn't understand it too well sometimes. Her long black hair swung elegantly behind her as she walked toward them, her dark eyes laughing. He liked her, even though she knew that Lorne wasn't comfortable calling anyone by their first names, yet always made a point of insisting he use hers. "What has happened now?"
Lorne nodded at Parrish's hands as Parrish hopped up onto the infirmary bed. "He cut some moss and this goop oozed out. I think it burned him."
"Hmm. Let me see." Pulling gloves on, she grabbed Parrish's hand and twisted it over, front to back, looking at the reddened spot, and pressing against them with her small hands. Parrish's fingers and palm looked huge next to hers, and his skin almost translucently pale compared to her rich olive-toned skin.
Lorne frowned, drumming his fingers on the edge of the bed. He was going to drag Parrish outside more often, that was for damn sure. Being that pale couldn't be good for him. Parrish probably wasn't getting enough vitamin D or something, despite all of his talk about the miracle of working under full spectrum lights. He needed some real sunshine and fresh air, not whatever it was that they breathed down in the hydroponics lab.
Parrish jerked his hands out of hers and stared at the backs of them, as if he could make the red bumps go away through forge of will alone. "It is nothing to be concerned about. Really. Just a natural defense against predators."
"Plant predators?" Lorne asked, the soundtrack from "Little Shop of Horrors" running through his mind.
"Whatever it is," Dr. Kasturi said, pulling off her latex gloves, "he had an allergic reaction to it, and is now breaking out in hives. I'll get you some Benadryl."
"Can you just give me the topical stuff?"
"I am not sure how strong the reaction will be, so I prefer to give you a systemic. I'll also need some bloodwork first, to make sure there are no spores or parasites that have transferred to your bloodstream."
"Parasites?" Parrish looked aghast as Dr. Kasturi stuck a thermometer under his tongue.
"Are you going to have to keep him overnight?"
"Not if the tests come back clean. I would like someone to stay with him for a few hours, in case there are other side effects."
"I can do that," Lorne nodded.
"Good," Dr. Kasturi said. "Now, if you'll just sit here, I'll see to your physical as well."
With a huge sigh, Lorne hopped up on the bed next to Parrish and let her take his temperature.
No disrespect intended, but Parrish reminded Lorne of a golden retriever puppy, the kind that ran up to everyone to say hello. Getting him back to his room was a pain, as Parrish really did wave and say 'hi' to anyone he saw in the hallway. Lorne noticed a couple of Marines duck down a side corridor when they saw Parrish coming, but Parrish never noticed. He was just so damn oblivious sometimes.
"Why don't you call Dr. Kasturi by her first name? She asks you to every time we see her after a mission." He glanced over at Lorne as they walked.
Okay, maybe not so oblivious. "Just feels weird, that's all."
"Hmmm Weird. I see."
Oh sweet Jesus. Parrish had that tone in his voice. That figure-it-out tone. If he didn't want to spend the next five missions saying "just feels weird" every time Parrish asked about it, he should just talk about it now. "When I was fifteen, my dad came home from a business trip a little early, and, well, I was kind of high when he saw me." High, and with another guy's hand down his pants. "He decided I needed more discipline, so he talked my mom into sending me to an all-boys boarding school in Colorado." Lorne shrugged. "Anyway, I kinda got in the habit of calling everyone by their last names there."
"I didn't know they had boarding... Wait. Your dad sent you away to a boarding school. To straighten you out."
Lorne pursed his lips and looked over at the walls. "Oh, yeah."
"Was that boarding school really a military academy for troubled youth?"
"It wasn't a military academy," Lorne said forcefully. "It was an all-boys boarding school. That's all."
"I see." Parrish lifted his chin. "Yet you went to the Air Force Academy from there."
"And your point would be...?"
"Fascinating." Parrish ran his thumb along his chin. "I don't think I've ever met an actual juvenile delinquent before."
"Yeah, well, you haven't met one now," Lorne said stiffly, his stomach lurching. He hated talking about what happened, and would prefer just to avoid it.
"Other than getting high, was there any other reason--"
"Don't ask." Lorne held up his hand and shook his head slightly. "Just...don't ask."
Amazingly, while Parrish looked thoughtful, he didn't say anything, and Lorne felt the knots in the back of his neck unwind just a bit. Parrish could be good about stuff like that at times. Where everyone else in Atlantis seemed to take boundaries as giant red buttons to push at repeatedly, Parrish would occasionally let things drop. Lorne surreptitiously wiped his sweaty hands on his thighs as they got close to Parrish's room.
But didn't Parrish only drop things when he had something else to occupy his mind?
Running his hand over the door controls, Parrish stepped into his room, Lorne stepped just a pace behind him. As the door gently closed behind him, Lorne looked around the place. Boy, but Parrish had a lot of plants.
"I would have thought you'd have enough plants what with the hydroponics bays and the labs. Not to mention the things we pick up from other planets."
"Hmm? Oh, yes. I suppose."
Like most of the rooms, this one was sparsely furnished. Parrish had dragged in one of the oversized chairs from out in the hall and made it into a kind of a couch. It also looked like he'd raided some storage room for shelving somewhere, as there were bookshelves and racks of plants everywhere. His desk was still visible, as was his bed, but most of the rest of the flat surfaces in the room had some sort of greenery on them, including a dorm-sized refrigerator next to the bed. Parrish had even tied some sort of climbing vine to one of the columns in the room, and was apparently attempting to train it to grow around the marble-like stone.
"Make yourself comfortable, Major." He nodded at the refrigerator. "There should be a Coke or two left from the last package my sister sent."
"You have Coke?" Oh, god. Now didn't that sound good. He took off his vest and tossed it onto Parrish's makeshift couch, then headed straight to the fridge.
"I think it might be ginger ale, now that I think about it."
"Doesn't matter." Lorne held up his hand to stop Parrish from saying anything else. "A cold Coke or whatever soda you have would be great."
"Help yourself, then. Just be careful of the specimens on the top. Oh, and there's some experimental plant food in their too, so try not to knock it over."
Lorne had to move one of the plants a bit to get the door open. Staring at its broad, shovel-like leaves, something tickled at the back of Lorne's mind. "Hey, that's an orchid," he exclaimed, turning to look at Parrish. "Why'd your bring orchids with you out here?"
A look of surprised wonder crossed Parrish's face. "You know orchids?" It was funny how easy it was to make Parrish happy. Soda from his sister, someone noticing his plants, or just listening to him talk about the things that interested him. Lorne got the idea that Parrish wasn't listened to a whole lot, which was really too bad. Parrish had a great voice.
"Kinda. I had an old girlfriend who used to raise them." Grabbing the cold green bottle of ginger ale, Lorne stood and looked around the room. Now that he knew what he was looking for, he was able to pick out another four varieties of orchid among the plants in Parrish's room. He gave a short, low whistle. "You're a regular Nero Wolfe, aren't you?"
"These are fairly hardy varieties." Parrish gently brushed the leaves of the largest plant. "And I couldn't just leave them back on Earth. I couldn't get anyone to ensure that they would have proper care."
"And so you tagged them as ...hybridization experiments?" Lorne guessed as he flopped down on the couch. "And brought them with you on the Daedalus."
"Essentially, yes." Parrish yawned, his mouth a giant 'O'. Lorne couldn't help thinking that Parrish had a pretty large mouth, to go along with his fairly large hands. 'Course, that made him think about what else might be large, and his own cock perked up at the thought.
"Do you mind if I shower?" Parrish tugged open his dresser and pulled out a pair of sweat pants and clean boxers. "I really need to get that goop washed off."
Lorne smiled and lifted his soda in a toast. "No problem, doc. A shower sounds good to me too."
Parrish looked at him, then at the bathroom. Hesitantly, he walked over to the couch, his eyes never leaving Lorne. Pulse ratcheting up, Lorne could felt the sudden tension between them with every beat of his heart. His mind replayed the last few minutes, trying to figure out what had gone--
Oh, fuck. He hadn't really said that, had he? His subconscious could be such a bitch.
Parrish rubbed the palms of his hands together, then wiped them off on his shirt, and it was almost like his nervousness was contagious, because Lorne wanted to echo the gesture, his own palms sweaty. With a huge breath, Parrish laid a hand against Lorne's shoulder. "If you want, you are welcome to shower with me."
His stomach did a funny twist, and suddenly the ginger ale didn't taste quick as good as it had the moment before. Parrish's hand felt hot through the thin covering of his shirt, and Lorne bet he could outline where each of the fingers lay, even without looking. As he looked up at Parrish, he could feel the sizzle of adrenaline rush through his system, his body echoing with 'fight or flight.'
"This is a little, uh, sudden, isn't it?" Deflection was always his first line of defense. His mouth felt dry, and he knew his hand was shaking.
Parrish was looking at him, all wide-eyed but distinctly lacking in innocence. "Major, you spent a considerable amount of time with your hand on my ass today--"
"Waist! I had my hand on your waist!" Lorne hated it when his voice broke like that.
"And based on some of our previous conversations about military regulations, I understood your 'Don't Ask' implied a particular aspect to your, uhm, interests that you didn't want known."
Okay. That one was true. Fuck. Lorne pounded his head back against the couch.
"Don't do that!" Parrish leaned down and brushed his hand over Lorne's cheek, which his cock took definite interest in. "You'll give yourself a migraine."
And -- oh, god. Parrish had really great lips. Warm and soft, with a slight scratch of beard stubble that Lorne had forgotten how much he liked. He sat there a moment, completely focused on the feel of Parrish's lips against his, at the way his tongue darted out and licked against Lorne's lips. God, it felt great, which was why Lorne was momentarily confused when Parrish pulled away.
"My mistake," Parrish said hurriedly, his face long and voice rough with disappointment. "I'll just...I'll just go take my shower now."
Shit. He'd sat there like a dumbass while Parrish had kissed him. No wonder Parrish looked so pale. He was probably worried that Lorne was gonna beat the crap out of him or something.
Before Parrish could leave, Lorne grabbed onto his wrist and tugged on it gently, turning Parrish toward him. "Hey, there's no mistake, okay? I'm just a little slow sometimes." He gently rubbed his thumb over the pulse point in Parrish's wrist. "And I think I'd, uh, like to take you up on that shower." He looked up at Parrish and smiled. "If you think there's room."
Parrish twisted his wrist and tugged on Lorne's arm, pulling him up out of the couch. It felt a little weird to have Parrish's arms wrapped around his waist for once, but it felt good, too. Parrish just felt good -- nice solid chest, firm arms, and those long, talented fingers -- pressed up against him. Lorne spread his hand around Parrish's back, pulling him in close, and brushed his lips against Parrish's neck.
He couldn't help grinning at the resulting low groan. Parrish was right, he decided, as he hungrily delved into Parrish's mouth for another kiss. That whole 'keeping your feet on the ground' thing was seriously overrated.