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“Damn!” David Parrish stared down at the detritus beneath the bush he was pruning. He let loose a volley of more colorful curses and tossed his secateurs aside to examine his handiwork. He groaned and slapped the back of his own wrist when he realized what he'd done; he didn't normally treat his tools with such disrespect. He stepped around the pile of clippings and picked them up. Fortunately, the points didn't seem to be damaged, but the Stanna bush from P43 927 wasn't so lucky. Maybe the extreme pruning would prove beneficial, although he had his doubts. A glance at his watch showed he'd been working on the same bush for almost an hour. Lost in daydreams was what he'd really been, not concentrating on his work at all. It was time he knocked off anyway. He decided to grab something from the Mess and eat in his quarters. At the rate his brain wandered off into daydream territory, he'd probably embarrass himself by eating the table decorations or something instead of his meal.

It was all Major Lorne's fault David was so distracted. Major Evan Lorne. Colonel Sheppard's 2IC. Major Lorne, who'd requested a scientist, specifically a botanist for his team, thinking that their missions would revolve more around foodstuffs and medicinal plants rather than technology, and therefore less likely to end up in as much trouble as Sheppard's team, and had wound up with Dr Parrish on his team.

Naturally, the 'safer' line of reasoning had been proven a fallacy, when they'd been variously stung, scratched, cut and scraped. They'd even been bitten by something that may have been related to a Venus Fly Trap on one memorable mission. Then there were the inevitable allergic reactions; they were now all wary of foodstuffs that came in shades of purple, aubergines not withstanding. They'd not yet encountered any of the fabled sex-pollen, but it was surely only a matter of time. On the other hand, the cultural ceremony in which they'd been obliged to participate - well, maybe the plant-based dyes used by the Termerians had contained some, because there was no other explanation for David's dreams.

Daydreams. Night dreams. For forty-eight hours David had been dreaming about Evan Lorne. Ever since he'd been forced to watch a pair of acolytes painstakingly paint mystical symbols on Lorne's arms, torso and face. He, Reed and Coughlin had been decorated as well, but less extensively than their leader. Reed sported a neat row of chevrons down each arm, a single one on his left cheek and another in the center of his chest. Coughlin ended up with a swirl of tiny stars, curving from the tip of his left shoulder to his belly. More stars extended from his eyebrows to his earlobes. David himself had ended up with things resembling four-leaf clovers over his heart and on the backs of his hands.

Lorne wore a combination of all three patterns: a constellation of yellow stars on his brow, inky blue chevrons along the length of his spine, dark green clovers on the backs of his hands that matched David's. Then he was given a distinct mark of his own. The characters worked into the designs circling his biceps - truth and wisdom on the left, loyalty and longevity on the right, according to David’s assigned acolyte, - were works of art. As far as David was concerned, they were simply a magnet to draw one's eyes to Lorne's arms, and he admitted Lorne's arms featured prominently in his current fantasies. In the most recent one, he'd been tracing the black lines with his tongue and the Stanna bush had paid the penalty.

He stared at the backs of his hands, where faint green clovers could still be seen. They'd faded somewhat after several applications of a Pegasus galaxy stain remover concocted by the chemistry department. He thought perhaps Lorne's were brighter, that they hadn't faded as much when he'd seen him at breakfast, and that reminded him he was hungry. He made good use of small washroom, then hurried to the Mess.

The rest of his team had commandeered a table by the window and waved him over as soon as they spotted him. So much for eating in his quarters. David put something on a tray and joined them. The bowl of stew turned out to be a good choice and the hot Athosian tea settled the butterflies in his belly. He listened to the others discuss the changes to Ronon's training schedule, and if his gaze kept wandering to Lorne's arms where the sleeves of his grey t-shirt weren't long enough to hide the still dark lines, well, he didn't think anyone else noticed.

“Shooting range in one hour,” Lorne reminded David and he flushed guiltily.


“You forgot!” crowed Reed. “I told you he wouldn't remember.”

David hadn't forgotten; Lorne's arms stretched out in front of him as he concentrated on a target had featured in a fantasy or three as well. The nicely delineated biceps had begged for the application of David's mouth and in his dreams, he'd given in to their demand.

He'd started out softly, placing barely there, closed lip kisses along the smooth skin of Evan's left arm, as Evan had remained still. It had taken lots of them, too many to count, to cover every muscle. He'd added a nip at the dip in the middle, right where the deltoid muscle formed the point at its insertion. Time slowed as he added a row of open-mouthed, sucking kisses that left round marks from elbow to armpit. He felt Evan tremble and struggled to hold position as David kissed each one of the red circles.

Evan’s right arm tasted just as good as his left, thought David and he licked his lips, as he imagined licking along the lines of loyalty and longevity. He’d traced them first with his eyes and then a fingertip, drawing out the anticipation.

“Parrish? Parrish!”

That was his name. Evan was calling his name, but the urgent shout didn’t match the throaty groans. David shook his head, and the Evan whose skin was shiny where David had worshipped popped like the dream bubble it was, and he came back to reality in a rush.

“Wha?” He was in the Mess Hall.

“Are you okay?” Lorne’s eyes peered into his own.

“Huh?” David stared back.

“I asked if you were all right. You groaned.”

“Oh. Did I? I didn’t realize. I think I ate too quickly, that’s all.”

“If you’re sure.”

“I’m fine.” Quickly, David swallowed some air and belched. Loudly. He patted his belly. “See.”

“I’ve got to speak to Sheppard. I’ll see you in an hour.”

“One hour,” echoed David, and wondered how he was going to concentrate on hitting the target when really, all he wanted to do was hit on Lorne.