Word Count: ~3000
Summary: Lorne is bored on a plant-watching mission. Parrish tells him a story that's about more than just local plant lore.
Note: Written for the slashing_lorne Summerfest prompt off-world, curing Lorne's boredom. I saw the prompt and my head went to a pwp place with Eyes on the plant, Major but somewhere the story lost the porn and developed a subplot. It did retain the line though. :)
The tree filtered sunlight slowly heated the small tent until Lorne was forced to give up any semblance of rest in favor of seeking respite from the rising temperature. Even the double shade of the surrounding trees combined with the tent wasn’t enough to make the moist heat of the rainforest on MRX-358 conducive to sleep. Reluctantly, Lorne rolled onto his back, wincing as his sleeping roll clung to his damp skin.
A check of the sun as Lorne emerged blinkingly from his tent confirmed that it was still a couple of hours before his next watch, but a glance into the next tent showed him that Parrish, his watch partner, was already gone. Big surprise there.
Lorne sighed and trudged off for a run through the camp shower. Just because certain people didn’t know how to follow a schedule didn’t mean Lorne had to miss out on the small comforts just to join him. Leaving himself slightly damp to allow for some natural evaporation-induced cooling, Lorne swung by the mess tent to pack a light supper and refill his canteen before making the trek from base camp to the observation point.
The canopy here was thinner, allowing for greater growth of vegetation on the forest floor, making it bad for setting up camp, but perfect waiting for the elusive Mirela to bloom. Lorne nodded a greeting to the young marine currently on plant-and-botanist watch. She saluted sharply, and then grinned as Lorne leaned to the right to see the two figures kneeling on the damp ground near an innocuous looking bush covered with tightly spiraled purple flowers. Still closed he noted resignedly to himself.
“Hey, Docs, how’s it going?” He asked in greeting, stepping past the Lieutenant and moving nearer the botanists under his care.
Dr. Katie Brown looked up immediately with a smile and a bright “Hello, Major Lorne.” The man with her didn’t turn around or return his greeting, but Lorne was attuned to that particular body and noted the guilt Parrish was projecting through the hunch of his back and the tenseness of his shoulders. Dr. Brown’s brow furrowed with a frown, a foreign expression on her normally cheerful face, and she glanced automatically at the watch on her wrist, uselessly set to Lantean time. “Is it time for the shift change already?” she asked.
“Not quite,” Lorne admitted, “but I couldn’t have Doc Parrish making me look bad by laying about while he’s hard at work.”
At that, David Parrish finally looked up from his notebook, peering sheepishly over his shoulder at Lorne. “Sorry, Major. I couldn’t sleep.”
That was probably true, Lorne reflected. Excitement gave Parrish mild insomnia, and Evan couldn’t use his usual methods to relax the other man into sleep, not off-world surrounded by a dozen botanists and soldiers. He smiled affectionately down at the botanist and offered forgiveness with a gesture toward his pack. “I brought dinner.”
Dr. Brown’s stomach gave a loud rumble at his words, and Lorne turned to offer her the pack. “Hungry?” he asked dryly.
She looked longingly at the pack, but her eyes slid briefly to Parrish and she shook her head reluctantly. “If it’s alright with you, I’ll pack it in early since you’re both here.”
“Sure Doc. No problem,” Lorne agreed. He turned his head and caught Lt. Arbech’s attention, dismissing her with a thumb over his shoulder, indicating that she should head back to camp with Dr. Brown. As he turned back he caught the tail end of a silent exchange, fast and furious glances (from Brown) and glares (from Parrish) were thrown at him and each other for a few seconds before Brown gathered her stuff together. Lorne wondered if they’d had some sort of tiff over Parrish’s intrusion on her time with the plant.
But when Dr. Brown set off down the path beside her escort she smiled knowingly at David and called, “Have fun!” in a highly suggestive tone that was at odds with her sweet expression. Evan froze. That tone almost sounded like Katie Brown knew things about him and David that no one was supposed to know about him and David. Evan turned to his…well, boyfriend was probably the proper term…and tilted his head in question, hoping he was keeping the worry he was feeling from his face.
“Relax, Major,” Parrish said as soon as she was out of earshot. “She just wanted to give me us some time alone. She suspects I have a crush on you; that’s all.”
Lorne smiled slyly and stepped next to the other man so that he could wrap an arm around David’s waist. “Oh? And do you?”
David smiled softly and twisted toward Lorne, turning the hold into an embrace. “Well, you are kind of hot,” he admitted and leaned in for a quick kiss before stepping back.
“Extra hot on this planet,” Lorne remarked, releasing David and swiping at the perspiration on his forehead with the back of one hand. “Why can’t we just pack this thing up and watch it in the climate-controlled comfort of home again?”
“Major,” Parrish said in a disappointed tone. “The Mirela is incredibly rare and very important to the Tinet people. You know that; we discussed it during the mission briefing.”
Lorne held up his hands in surrender. “At length, yes, I remember Doc. The soothing sounds of phylum, class, and genus lulled me into a extremely restful stupor.”
Parrish tried to scowl but his naturally cheerful face couldn’t hold the expression for long. Lorne wasn’t the least bit remorseful. Parrish had been chattering nonstop about witnessing the once-a-decade blooming for almost a year now. If he thought Lorne could forget about that then he deserved a little teasing.
Parrish got his revenge while they ate, comparing the Mirela in depth to the Kurinji flower back on Earth. Lorne half listened as David gleefully talked about the flowers’ shape and size, compared their brilliant colors and asked if Lorne knew that people actually measured their age by how many bloomings they’d seen. He was almost grateful when David went back to his notebook after dinner and fell silent once more.
After securing their trash and stowing away his pack, Lorne did a quick perimeter check and radioed a check in to base camp. Not that they were expecting trouble, but it never hurt to be safe, especially in the Pegasus Galaxy. However it looked like the biggest danger he faced here was the threat of boredom. Of course a little boredom was a small price to pay for a trusted ally, a safe harbor, and the chance to watch David shine in his natural environment.
Although, Lorne had to admit that he would be glad when they were back on Atlantis, where Lorne could watch David shine in an entirely different way in the privacy of his quarters. He shook his head to clear away thoughts inappropriate for off-world situations and settled himself under his customary tree to begin his plant-watch in earnest.
“Bored, Major?” Parrish asked with a knowing smile as Lorne yawned heavily behind his hand a quarter of an hour later.
“On an alien planet waiting for an alien plant to do its thing? Not a chance,” Lorne assured him.
David shook his head but closed his notebook and walked toward the tree that Lorne was using as a backrest. Instead of settling next to him, Parrish insinuated himself between Lorne’s thighs, pushing back with his legs until his back was reclining against Lorne’s chest. Lorne couldn’t help an automatic glance around to be sure they were alone; he knew Parrish was watching him with resigned amusement, and he wrapped his arms tightly around the other man in apology.
“So, we’re still waiting for the phallic purple plant to shoot pollen. Would it go faster if you rubbed it?”
David laughed and hung his head in mock shame. Lorne took advantage of the position to nuzzle into the exposed neck in front of him before continuing. “Because I think this shift would go faster if you rubbed something.”
“Eyes on the plant, Major,” Parrish remarked mildly, leaning his head back on Lorne’s shoulder and ignoring his own advice by closing his eyes and yawning.
“You know you would probably be more alert if you actually slept instead of sneaking away to bug the other botanists.”
“I do not bug the other botanists,” Parrish objected immediately, “and I tried to sleep, but it’s difficult with temptation so near.”
Lorne tightened his hold sympathetically. “It’s hard for me to sleep with you so untouchably close too,” he confessed.
“I was talking about the plant, Major.”
“Hey!” Lorne pushed David away from him teasingly but caught him before he fell out of Lorne’s hold. “Just for that I think you should entertain me.”
“Ah yes, join the SGC, explore new worlds, research exotic plants, entertain bored Majors, all part of the job description. Had you ever heard of the Kurinji flower before this mission? It’s referenced in classical Tamil literature.”
“No Doc, can’t say that I have. I don’t think that was required reading at the Academy.”
“No, I suppose not. It’s often used as a symbol to indicate the union of lovers.” Parrish rolled his head so that the right side of his face was pressed gently against the left side of Lorne’s. “The Keeper of Memory told me that the Mirela is a symbol of lover’s devotion as well. Dr. Byrin promised me the whole story once she’s worked out a detailed translation, but The Keeper gave me the short version yesterday when we got back.”
Lorne began stroking his hands over every inch of David he could reach, which turned out to be quite a lot in their current position. “Should I be worried about the number of people telling you love stories?”
“Yes,” Parrish said, turning his head further to press a kiss under Lorne’s jawbone. “Because now you get to suffer through them while we’re on plant watch.”
“Alright, then,” Lorne said, “Tell me what’s got the whole planet in such an uproar over this little bush.”
David pulled away slightly, shifting so he was facing the plant before resettling back against Lorne. “It all begins, as old love stories usually do, with a young boy meeting a young girl…”
Miroki knew that the Ancestors were truly benevolent and generous the moment he laid eyes on Amirela. For many cycles after their first meeting, he would tell anyone who stood in one place too long how the crowds of the market square had magically parted to reveal the most beautiful girl in the heavens just as she stepped through the Ring. And then, as if the Ancestors themselves had arranged it, Amirela had looked up and smiled right at him. That she was meant for him, and he for her, Miroki never doubted.
Neither did anyone else. Kin, friends, and strangers alike rejoiced when Miroki laid a bundle of long wooden poles at the door of Amirela’s parents, bracings for the tent that would serve as their first home until they had chosen where to settle permanently. Amirela’s answering hide covering landed on Miroki’s father’s home faster than should have been possible if she hadn’t started work on it sooner than was technically allowed, but with their own memories of young love to warm them, nobody in either village scolded.
On the day Amirela should have presented herself to her new husband to erect their tent and begin their first year with Miroki’s people, the Ring of the Ancestors brought only despair, in the form of Amirela’s mother. Her tears burned through Miroki’s heart, and he knew it would be hollow forever if…
“Wraith?” he asked.
But his heartmother shook her head and whispered, “Spot fever.”
His gathered kin wailed and clung together, already mourning the loss of their newest daughter, but Miroki felt breath return to him at the news; Amirela lived. He rushed to his beloved’s side with no concern for himself; silently vowing to remain with her until she was well again or to follow her in her walk with the Ancestors if that was to be her destiny.
Then a stranger came through the Ring claiming that he knew how to banish the Spot Fever. All that was required was a simple tea made from the steeped petals of a flower found on his recently culled world. Before Miroki had time to rejoice, the stranger told them that the flower did not always appear with the other flowers as the seasons changed, and he after so much time hiding and running, he could not be sure it would be available in time to save Amirela.
But if a chance existed, Miroki knew it had to be taken. He pressed his lips to his beloved’s ear and begged her to wait for his return, packed a small bag of provisions and followed the stranger to an unknown world. He was led to an unremarkable bush and then, in accordance with Miroki’s wishes, the stranger left him alone to pray and meditate.
Three days and nights passed, and although the days were measured differently on Amirela’s world, Miroki knew that no one had ever survived so long once the Spot Fever claimed them, but still he remained at his watch. Two days later, the first miracle occurred. Under Miroki’s watchful eyes, three tiny purple flowers appeared.
With shaking hands, Miroki collected the petals off of two of the buds, saying a blessing to the Ancestors over the third, and turned for home. Amazed exclamations and prayers of thanksgiving greeted him as Miroki arrived back from his journey. Amirela had fallen into the unnatural sleep that proceed death the day before, but she was still alive – the second miracle.
The brewing of the tea was only a matter of minutes – though it seemed a lifetime to Miroki - and then Amirela’s mother was gently easing the concoction down her daughter’s throat while Miroki whispered encouragingly in her ear. Three sleepless nights later Amirela awoke, weak but gloriously alive, and her first words were the third miracle.
“I heard you,” she said to Miroki, “In the darkness, I heard you asking me to hold on and I fought off the darkness; because I knew you would never fail me.”
Story ended, David lapsed into silence. There was only the noise of the forest and the soft sound of Lorne’s hands over the fabric of David’s shirt as he rubbed the other mans arms. Evan felt no particular need to break the silence, but “And they lived happily ever after?” he asked, instinctively quiet in the hush of the oncoming night.
“Something like that,” David answered through a yawn. “They settled here and supposedly our new friends are their descendants. The flower is now a sign for lovers.”
“Ah, very popular with courting couples then,” Lorne observed.
“Yes,” David said, “but it’s much more than that. It only blooms every eleven years and the picking of it is strictly monitored so that it isn’t destroyed; only three can be picked from each bush each cycle to represent the three miracles. One is used in a massive marriage ceremony every ten years, and one is picked by the couple who actually witnesses the blooming. It’s not just good luck; it’s a sign from the Ancestors that the couple is Emsadu - Dr. Byrin says there’s no direct translation, but it’s like soul mates or everlasting lovers - they’re supposed to be blessed by the Ancestors with health, love, and happiness for eternity. The third is given to friends and allies as a symbol of eternal unity.”
Lorne whistled, finally feeling impressed, “So it really is a great honor.”
“Double honor, since they’re also giving us the chance to witness the blooming.”
The overly-casual tone in David’s voice caused Lorne to tighten his grip on Parrish again. “Say, Doc, this little legend of theirs wouldn’t be a factor in your urgency to see the thing bloom, would it?”
David’s blush was answer enough, even has he protested. “What? Of course not, Major. I’m a botanist; this is what I do.”
“Botany superstitions, who knew?”
“This from the man with lucky boxers,” Parrish retorted, sounding so much like Lorne that Lorne felt a grin spread over his face at the knowledge that his humor was invading Parrish’s.
“Hey, I always get lucky in those boxers.”
Parrish snorted, so Lorne continued, “I can’t help it if someone finds my Botanists do it in the bushes boxers irresistible.”
“I have it on good authority that it’s actually the person inside the boxers that’s irresistible.” Parrish said.
Lorne noticed the tips of David’s ears were turning red, and he took pity on him, kissing the back of David’s neck, and said, "Doc - David, I know I don't always say...But you know we don't need to see the plant, right? Our feelings - my feelings - they're not gonna be different because we see a flower."
As Lorne spoke, the tension bled away from David and he answered, "I don't always need the words. Sometimes I just need reminding."
Lorne didn't know how to answer that so he stayed quiet, alternating between watching the plant and watching as David’s eyelids got heavier. Just before the shut for the last time, David he muttered sleepily, “Don’t forget, eyes on the plant Major.”
Lorne smiled and whispered back, “I got you covered.”
True to his word, Lorne watched the plant intently, holding the dozing man in his arms, and mentally painting a series of panels – a tightly spiraled bud opening to a lush purple flower – the story of their future written in the language of David.
The complete list of my Stargate Atlantis fiction can be found here.