♫“It's just my job five days a week...” ♪
“Come on, keep up!” Doctor Lorne coaxed his companions to move faster. The pair of corporals dawdling along behind him had been assigned by Major Sheppard to accompany him when he requested to explore a room that had been labeled as “possible greenhouse” by the exploratory teams.
His Gate Team was busy today, so he was exploring with strangers. Major Parrish was off world with the Athosian woman, Teyla, doing something trade-related and had taken Lieutenant Markham along for company. Sergeant Stackhouse was busy with paperwork; he’d been scolded for being behind on his field reports again and had reluctantly turned down Evan’s request to go with him.
“Level thirty four; come on, one more flight up!” Evan called eagerly from the stairs.
“Can we shoot him?” Corporal Dunham groaned to her companion as their assigned geek ran back and forth on the landing like a Jack Russell terrier before charging up the next flight of stairs.
Corporal Bishop shook his head. “Too much paperwork.”
“Doctor Lorne, if you don’t stop and wait, I will shoot you,” Dunham called.
Lorne’s face appeared over the railing. “You’re not allowed to do that. You’re supposed to be protecting me.”
“It would be for your own good,” Dunham replied, but couldn’t stop the smile that came as she saw how just happy Lorne seemed to be. Lorne smiled back at her and obediently sat down on the step to wait for his escort to catch up.
“At least he’s cheerful,” Bishop grumbled, and Dunham had to agree. Most of the scientists they had pulled escort duty for had been quite the opposite.
Lorne waited until they caught up. He would have run up the rest of the way but Bishop caught him by the arm, holding him fast. Bishop tossed his chin at Dunham, who raised her P-90 and cautiously went up and looked around before waving her companions forward.
They reached the doors with the symbols corresponding to the ones on the report and Bishop went ahead this time as Dunham stayed with Evan. Upon seeing the glass roof through the open doors, Evan nearly pushed the corporal over in his eagerness to get inside. He tapped his foot impatiently as Bishop went ahead and walked a circuit of the room.
“Okay, go ahead in Doctor Lorne, but stay alert and don’t touch anything until we’ve looked it over.”
Evan rolled his eyes, doubting that the marines knew much more about Ancient tech than he did, but he was under orders from Major Sheppard to obey his escort, if he ever wanted to be allowed to go exploring again. He couldn’t help but feel like a five-year old. All he was trying to do was do his job.
Looking up at the high glass ceiling, and then the vast room that spread out in front of him, Evan realized his more intricate plans and layouts could work with this room. This was exactly the sort of room he needed in order to get food crops going that could feed the expedition in the future.
“Must have been a greenhouse when the Ancients lived here, Doctor Lorne,” Bishop pointed the muzzle of his rifle at perforations in the track of the ceiling, following it along to what appeared to be a feeder pipe. “Water, maybe?”
Evan ran to a box on the wall above the pipe and put his hand on it. He felt the answering buzz in his mind that told him the city was responding to his gene. “Water?” he asked the city in his mind.
Moments later, Dunham let out a girlish squeal and Bishop shouted for him to turn it off. He thought it ‘off’ and patted the control panel, thanking the city in his mind for being so corporative. He stifled a laugh when he turned and saw Dunham’s red hair plastered to her head. Luckily, he had well-honed instincts for self preservation; Dunham probably would have made good her threat to shoot him if he had laughed out loud.
Almost gleeful that he didn’t have to figure out how to route water to the site, Lorne ignored the black looks from his escort and walked along the wall. There were sturdy tables running along the walls. More tables were scattered between indents of different depths in the floor, obviously planting beds.
There was a door at the far end of the room and Evan went towards it, curious at what was beyond. Bishop met him at the door, blocking his way. Evan smirked and gestured broadly with his hand for Bishop to go first.
“Lab,” Bishop said over his shoulder, throwing a hand up, palm out, to stop Evan from going any further. “Dunham, come here, Lab Protocol.”
“Shouldn’t the original exploratory team have cleared this room already when they found it?” Evan asked, impatient to see what was in there.
Bishop shrugged as Dunham jogged over to join them. “I’m not taking any chances that they missed something, Doctor, I do not want to be responsible for letting out any boogiemen or plagues.”
When Evan moved to follow them, Dunham took him by the shoulders and pressed him against the wall beside the door, pointing at his nose. “Stay here.” Her expression softened and she caught the tip of his SGC ballcap and tugged on it lightly. “Just for a minute or two, Doc.”
The marines went in, and Evan went on tiptoe and leaned over, trying to see what they were doing. One the wall he saw the criss-cross of the lights mounted on the muzzles of their weapons as they circled around and searched. “Okay Doctor Lorne, seems clear.”
Evan stepped in and politely asked the city to turn the lights on. He didn’t know if manners mattered to the city, but habit was habit, and his had been deeply ingrained from childhood. When the lights came up, they revealed a small work area that branched off into banks and banks of what appeared to be freezers.
Walking over to one, Evan pressed his palm to the glass and then jumped back. “Active. This thing is on!” The marines immediately raised their weapons.
“How about figuring out what’s inside before we start shooting the appliances, huh?” Evan sighed, running a hand through his hair as he glared at the corporals.
Leaning close, Evan thought he could make out lines that might indicate shelves and shadows that probably indicated contents of said shelves. “Freezers? Possibly cryo storage units.”
Dunham had walked over to another unit and pressed her hand to it. “This one is off.”
“Let’s check it out.” Evan walked over and felt along the edge until he found a crystal, which he depressed. There was a click and the front of the unit swung open. Inside the unit were rows of empty shelves mounted on a trolley which Evan was able to pull out.
“Looks like the big drawers the crystals sat in on that machine Doctor Zelenka was fixing,” Bishop observed as Evan pushed the shelves back into the unit.
They wandered around, finding that of the two dozen units, only two were active. Staring at the first unit he had examined, Evan’s curiosity was driving him nuts, his fingers itched to touch; he really wanted to know what was in there. What kind of specimens had the Ancients preserved and left behind?
He swung his pack off his back, dropped it on the floor, and pulled out a pair of exam gloves, snapping them on.
“Doc, what’re you doing?” Dunham asked with a warning tone in her voice.
“I’m going to have a look.”
“Wait, maybe we should call for backup,” Bishop said, shifting to get between Evan and the treasure chest beckoning silently to him.
“It’s a freezer. The stuff in it is frozen, what can possibly go wrong?” Evan asked, elbowing Bishop aside and reaching for the crystal latch.
The door was stuck; Evan had to tug hard to get it to open. As he grabbed the edge, he thought he felt something tingling in his mind, feeling a little like the gene-thing, but not quite. The buzz got louder the longer he had his hands on the door. The door finally gave, swinging open, and alarm klaxons began to sound. Before Evan could shut the door again, he jolted, feeling like every nerve in his body was suddenly on fire.
Then he didn’t feel anything.
Evan’s ears were ringing and his head hurt like hell as he opened his eyes. He was flat on his back, staring up at ceiling tiles. He rolled his head to one side to see Major Sheppard leaning against the wall, frowning at him. “You back with us, Lorne?”
“Ow,” Evan whispered, putting a hand to his forehead and rubbing. “Everything hurts.”
“Yeah, electrocution will do that to a guy. Doctor Beckett says you’ll be fine; you just got the equivalent of a taser shock. You tripped an alarm.”
Pushing off the wall, Sheppard moved to stand beside the gurney. “There was a warning on the unit, in Ancient, Doctor Lorne. You should have waited for a translation; it was clearly marked as bio-hazard and that it requires a code of some kind to access.”
“Today was not my day. I wasn’t meant to be an explorer, Major. Maybe his isn't the job for me,” Lorne replied quietly.
Sheppard patted his arm. “Nah, you're doing as well as any of us so far. We need you here. Just listen to your escorts next time.”
“They didn’t get hurt, did they?” Evan asked with concern.
“Nah, they’re fine. Dunham managed to take a picture of the inside of the unit before Bishop kicked the door closed, so at least you’ve got something to look at for your trouble.”
Doctor Beckett came over and checked Evan’s vitals. “Here’s some pills for the headache. Rest up, lad. Come see me tomorrow if your ears are still ringing or the pain is unmanageable. You can go when you’re ready.” A pair of marines had just come in, one limping badly; Beckett crossed the infirmary to meet them.
Sitting up, Evan swung his legs over the side of the gurney. Sheppard held his hat out to him and Evan pulled it down over his eyes. Today he needed it to block the light more than to shadow his scars.
Sheppard fell in step beside him, accompanying him silently from the infirmary. “Dunham and Bishop said the greenhouse looked good. Think you’ll be able to make use of it?”
“Am I allowed back up there?”
“Sure. Just don’t touch the things that say 'don’t touch' on them. One of the linguists will label stuff for you.”
Evan smiled and nodded. “Yeah, I’d like to, the space is just what we need.”
“We’ll get a team to help you with it. Get some rest Lorne.” Sheppard gave him a wave and walked off in the opposite direction.
♪“I’m not the man they think I am at home…”♫
Major Parrish sat near the wall in the mess hall, ignoring the chatter of his teammates Nate Stackhouse and Jason Markham as they argued about sports. Lorne had come in with a group David recognized from the Botany department, and was now deeply engrossed in a conversation.
He was jolted from his stare as Jason nudged his foot under the table. When David looked up, Jason smirked and said, “You’re doing it again.”
“I am not,” Parrish protested, even though he was caught. Damn it. This infatuation was getting out of control. Since when did he get like this over a guy? Guys had always been for taking the edge off, blowing off steam, not for mooning over like a love-sick teenager. He’d always been fine on his own, so why couldn’t he stop thinking about the botanist?
“I hear the law is gonna pass this time. Won’t be a crime to look anymore,” Stackhouse said, stuffing a piece of the fruit that was like an apple-pear into his mouth and smiling.
Markham snorted. “Looking was never the crime, idiot, touching was the crime.” Nate just shrugged and picked up another slice of fruit.
“You’ve got it bad, Major,” Markham let out a low whistle. Ever since Parrish had caught his teammates in a delicate situation and had to choose whether to turn them in or keep their confidence, Jason had been on his case about Lorne.
“I can’t do anything about it.”
“If they find out about this back at the SGC… I’ve got fourteen years in, I can’t throw that away,” Parrish protested. “If this gets back to Earth…”
Markham shrugged, “The SGC is a lot more forgiving than the Air Force, they let stuff like this slide, especially on off-world bases.”
Nate clapped a hand on Parrish’s shoulder and glared across the table at Markham. “Leave him alone, Jase. It’s his decision to make.” Parrish turned a grateful smile at Stackhouse, which dropped away when the sergeant added, “Even if he could be throwing away a chance at the best thing to ever come into his life.”
“I hate you guys,” Parrish grumbled, which made his teammates laugh.
♫“All this science, I don’t understand…”♪
“Boring,” Parrish yawned and shifted position to lean on the other hip against the stone wall as he watched his botanist work.
“It is not. Here, taste this!” Lorne held out a leaf at him and shook it. He huffed impatiently and took a bite of it and held it out again, “It’s fine, taste it.”
Evan pushed his cap back onto the back of his head, giving David a rare, clear view of his face as he stared expectantly up at the him.
Unable to resist the eager look, David stepped over the stone border of the Ancient garden path and snatched the leaf from Lorne’s fingers. He sniffed it and then stuffed it in his mouth. “Salad,” he said, shrugging as he swallowed.
“Eruca sativa! We’re how many millions and millions of miles from home and we find eruca sativa here in an abandoned kitchen plot at an Ancient facility.”
“I don’t get it,” David replied in a deadpan voice as Evan jumped up and came towards him, excitement shining in his eyes. David couldn’t help winding his botanist up, he was adorable when he got excited like this.
“Rocket, Parrish, plain ordinary rocket, you know, arugula,” Lorne shook his head at David's deliberately blank look and offered him another leaf, which David took and stuck in his mouth.
Lorne huffed and blinked at him. “I give up.”
Glancing around to make sure the rest of the researchers were still inside the facility, David took another step closer to Evan. “I wish you wouldn’t. I kind of like it when you get all lecture-y and excited about your plants.”
Evan blinked and stammered, “You… what?”
“You get this look in your eyes, and you start breathing all weird when you get excited. I like watching it.” Parrish took another step closer, his TAC vest now close enough to brush Lorne’s chest.
“What are you doing, Major?”
Parrish leaned over and whispered near Lorne’s ear, “Getting a little excited myself, actually, and call me David.”
Looking confused, Evan blinked at him. Then his eyes went a little wide. Just as David thought he was going to slug him or bolt, Lorne suddenly grabbed David by the ears and pulled him into a full, open mouthed kiss. Heat flared immediately between them and it became a battle of tongues, each trying to get more of the other.
David’s radio chirped and he forced himself to stop, holding Evan’s shoulders and pushing him back, holding him away. He reached up and tapped his radio. “Parrish.”
A chipper, smug voice sang “I can see you, you know. And I told you so.”
“Mind your business, Jason.”
Markham’s answer was a laugh. “The others are on their way out, collect our botanist and meet us at the ‘jumper.”
He sighed as he realized Evan was now ignoring him as he collected his gear. “Evan…”
“I don’t know what came over me. I’m sorry.” Vials and samples were being flung into Evan’s pack as fast as he could lay hands on them. Not once did he look up at David.
“You don’t have to be,” David started to say, reaching for Evan’s arm. Evan dodged him and scooped up his pack, taking off at a run. “Evan! Lorne, stop, wait up!”
He had no idea his botanist could run so fast! By the time David caught up to him, they were well within hearing distance and view of the rest of the party from Atlantis.
Markham, the traitor, took one look at Evan’s face and grabbed David’s arm, dragging the Major into the first puddlejumper as Evan ran off to pilot the second.
“I thought I told you to mind your business?” David grumbled as he threw himself into the co-pilot’s seat.
“Someone needs a time out,” was all Jason replied as he started the preflight.
When they got back to Atlantis, the damned city sided with Lorne and hid him. David couldn’t find him anywhere.
“Damn it,” he swore, giving up the search and heading to his quarters, alone.
♪“It’s lonely out in space…”♫
Almost as soon as the puddlejumper was in the bay, shut down and the ramp hit the deck, Evan was running.
What in the hell had he done? He’d thrown himself at Major Parrish, that’s what he’d done. Of all the stupid things he could possibly do. Parrish was military, he'd never make the first move. Evan was obviously reading everything wrong, and he had acted without thinking at all.
Looking for somewhere to think, he went to the storage room off the Gate Room, where most of the seed was being stored until the greenhouse could be readied for planting. He sat on a squishy burlap sack and wrapped his arms around himself as he huddled miserably to think about the situation.
What had made him do it? He had never, ever done anything like that before, not even before the robbery. Was he that lonely, that desperate for attention that he threw himself at the first person that got inside his personal space?
Parrish had been kind to him. A lot of people had since coming to Atlantis, but Parrish had been one of the first. Since then, Evan had grown comfortable in the Major’s company. He actually looked forward to away missions with the team, because it was an opportunity to spend time with Parrish.
He was behaving like a school girl. This was ridiculous. He was hiding in a closet because he’d kissed a guy.
A guy he liked, a lot. He dropped his face in his hands and scrubbed at the day’s growth of stubble. Now what? He’d pounced on his team leader.
It hadn’t sucked though. It had been a pretty damned hot kiss. As he let himself think about it, Evan realized that rather than pushing him off, Parrish had actually returned the kiss. Returned it rather eagerly, actually.
Crap. Crap, crap, crap! Evan felt like a complete idiot now. In retrospect, it had not been his imagination, Parrish had been coming on to him. And Evan had turned tail and run.
How did he fix this? Where to even start? He climbed off the stack of seeds and left the storeroom. He knew where Parrish’s quarters were, they had swung past there once on the way to lunch with the team. He had to apologize.
He rang the chime, but there was no answer. Crossing his arms and tucking his chin down, he leaned against the wall beside the door, trying to think of where to start looking for the Major.
“Hey, I’ve been looking for you.”
Evan jolted upright as he heard David’s voice. “Uhm, look, I’m sorry…”
Passing his hand over the lock beside the door, David took hold of Evan’s arm and said, “We need to talk, privately.” Evan found himself hauled into Parrish’s quarters. Parrish had a balcony, and David dragged him over to the doors. There was still enough light to see by, though the sun had already set.
Before he could get the words out, David clapped a hand over Evan’s mouth. “If you apologize again, I’m gonna kick your ass.” Evan nodded and Parrish’s hand fell away. “You surprised me.”
“I thought you’d be mad.”
“I wasn’t, if I had any idea that you… that an advance would… I suck at this,” Parrish ran a hand across his short spiky hair and looked flustered.
Evan smiled at the confession. “So do I, actually.” He moved a little closer to David.
Reaching out, David put two fingers under Evan’s chin and tipped his face up a bit. He slowly, cautiously brushed his lips across Evan’s, applying the barest of pressure before pulling back. “That’s what I meant to do back there, but I couldn’t get up the courage.”
“Yeah?” Evan was surprised to hear the Major confess to any kind of fear.
“Yeah. But I kinda liked your idea better. Uhm, you wanna hit the couch and make out for a while?” Parrish tossed his head towards the sofa.
With a broad smile, Evan nodded and ran over to throw himself onto the cushions. As David dropped down beside him and leaned over, Evan said, “I thought I screwed things up, being so grabby.”
“Nah. I liked it. In fact, why don’t you do it again? This time without the running away and chasing part.”