When In Fellebia...
by The Enigmatic Big Miss Sunbeam
"Don't stand on ceremony, Dr. Phlox. What is it?"
"Captain, I seem to have picked up a . . . virus."
Archer lifted his chin. Dr. Phlox certainly didn't look well; the outer ridges of his facial lobes were nearly black, shiny, infected-looking.
"Is there a cure?"
Dr. Phlox closed his eyes and opened them again: "In order to bypass a six-month convalescence period, I will need a substance called reppordine. It is the only known ameliorative agent."
"I don't think I'm familiar with it."
The whites of Dr. Phlox's eyes were now a pale yellow. "I don't believe it is found in your world, but we might be able to contact a trader who can supply us with some."
"Hoshi, see who's in the neighborhood."
She bent over her viewscreen. "Captain, there's a planet near here about two hours away at warp four."
Archer turned expectantly to T'Pol.
Who uncoiled her long neck. "According to Vulcan star charts, that planet is called Alvelius. It is one of sixteen planetary bodies in the Corad star system."
"Minshara class?" Archer asked.
"Yes. Although uninhabited until a century ago, there is currently a sizable humanoid settlement on the planet's largest land mass." T'Pol leaned over the star charts again. "It appears to have been settled by Xanthiacts."
"What do we know of these . . . Xanthiacts?" Archer asked.
"They are racially allied with the Denobulans," T'Pol said quietly.
Archer nodded at Hoshi. "They'll probably have the compound Dr. Phlox needs."
"My family made a few trades with some Xanthiacts."
"Did you learn much about them?"
"Not much -- I don't think we ever actually saw them -- but they do have a reputation as tradesmen with a wide variety of goods."
Archer leaned over his speaking console. "Bridge to sickbay. Good news, Dr. Phlox. There's a Xanthiactic settlement a couple of hours away. I suspect we'll be able to get what you need very soon."
Then they heard Dr. Phlox's soft voice. "I am not as sure as you are of that." He sounded short of breath.
T'Pol broke in. "Captain Archer, the Denobulans and the Xanthiacts have been at war for some time."
"Dr. Phlox, is that true?"
"I'm afraid so."
"What if we didn't tell the traders *why* we wanted the reppordine?" Archer looked at T'Pol who gave him one of her grave enigmatic looks in return. "Doctor?"
"It is possible, but the negotiations might be more sensitive than you imagine. Reppordine is a restricted substance in many systems. There are races to whom it serves as an opiate and others who use it as a very powerful aphrodisiac." Archer sat back in his chair.
"Travis, you are acquainted with Xanthiact trade practices?"
"You're with me. I think I'm going to need some help on this mission."
"Welcome to First Alvelius, kind sirs. We are always pleased to see new traders. You are . . . humans, no?"
The Xanthiact before them was smaller and paler than Dr. Phlox, but otherwise he seemed to be classically Denobulan.
If Archer was any judge.
"Yes, we are humans. We are part of Starfleet, an exploratory force from Earth, our home planet."
"Welcome, Starfleet explorers."
"Thank you. I am Captain Jonathan Archer, and this is my officer, Ensign Travis Mayweather."
The Xanthiact looked at them. "Nice," he said with a little smile.
Archer was taken aback. "I'm glad you're pleased."
"How can we help you?"
"Well, we're here to look around, maybe make some trades." Archer gave what he hoped was a nonchalant, friendly shrug. "Explore."
"Excellent. By the way, our Consul wants you to join us at his mansion for supper tonight. I think he will enjoy your company."
"You're wearing far too many clothes," a merchant called out to them as they walked through one of the open markets that lined the streets.
It was the third time someone had said that to them.
"A friendly people," Archer remarked.
"Yes, sir," said Travis. Then he leaned in. "Captain, someone is following us."
"Are you sure?" Archer picked up some odd blue jars and shook their contents. When the merchant made a surprised face, he set the bottles back down.
"I've been watching him for twenty minutes, sir."
"Where is he?" Archer said in a low voice.
"Over there, by those rugs. It's the man with curly black hair, pale skin. He's wearing a kind of a dark toga-like thing."
Archer looked back. The man in the dark toga *was* watching them openly, curiously.
"He seems harmless enough, Travis. I'll speak to him."
"Hello," Archer said. "You seem to find our activities interesting."
The man was handsome and very human-looking. "I am very sorry. I meant no harm."
"Who are you?" Now Travis had moved too; he was standing beside Archer.
"My name is Drex."
"Glad to meet you, Drex. I'm Jonathan Archer, and this is my fellow crewman Travis Mayweather. We're just curious as to why you were following us."
Drex lowered his dark eyes. "I find you interesting. If somewhat enigmatic."
He leaned towards them. "I wonder if I could ask you about the real purpose of your visit?"
"The real purpose of our visit?" Archer said. Stalling for a little bit of time.
But it didn't matter. Because Drex was suddenly acting very strangely. He had shut his eyes and now was moving his head back and forth in small circles. It was as if he were having a sort of spasm. "No, no, no," he groaned.
"What is it? Can we help you?"
Drex lifted his head then; his eyes were wet and he was looking at something behind them. Archer and Travis turned too.
A sad little group of aliens, either Denobulans or Xanthiacts, were shuffling along in chains. Larger creatures - possibly Nausicaans - were walking alongside them. If one of the forlorn creatures slowed down, the Nausicaan would prod him with some sort of weapon. The screams from the smaller creatures were hideous.
"Terrible," Drex said in a low rough whisper.
"The Nausicaans are taking those poor Denobulans to their slave markets."
"Why? What have the Denobulans done?"
Drex shook his head. "Nothing. They're merely Denobulans. But the government here is Xanthiact, and they have vowed to rid the area of all Denobulans."
"The animosity is that strong?"
Drex looked at Archer curiously. Then he shrugged. "Yes."
Archer sighed. "I do not care much to see my fellow creatures enslaved."
"Nor do I, Captain Archer. But when in . . . Fellebia . . . " then his voice trailed off.
They were all silent.
"I believe you asked me our real purpose. We're just . . . vacationing here, actually."
Drex's eyes were still damp, but he gave Archer a long look before he spoke. "I will see you tonight at the Consul's. Farewell."
Then he walked away.
Archer nodded at Travis, and they moved on. Suddenly: "Captain," Travis said, "that merchant over there is from a race called the Valistians. They're famous for selling anybody anything. My guess is that, if anybody knows how to acquire reppordine, it'll be him."
It was good to have Travis with him; he could depend on Travis.
And the Valistian seemed glad to see them. As soon as they were in hearing range, he called out in a merry, insinuating way, "Friends, you're wearing too many clothes!"
"We get that a lot, buddy. I wonder why," Travis said in a mild voice.
"Because creatures as intoxicatingly attractive as you need to . . . show off your charms more. Perhaps I can sell you some garments that will do that very thing. And cheaply, too." He was a curious-looking creature, completely hairless with one shelf of teeth like a baleen whale. But cordial.
"Actually, we are looking to buy some reppordine."
The Valistian quit smiling. "Aren't we all, aren't we all."
"You're saying there's none to be had?"
The Valistian looked around. "The Xanthiacts have commandeered all of it. Alas for me. I find it most intoxicating."
"You say the Xanthiacts have a large quantity of it?"
The Valistian just gazed at them.
After a moment, Travis reached in his pocket and handed something over to him.
"Thank you," the Valistian said, pocketing whatever Travis had used. "They most certainly do have all of it. And they enjoy it enormously. Festival days. Gifts. It is a useful substance."
"So we couldn't buy it," Travis said, "but someone might give it to us."
The Valistian said nothing.
"Look, storekeeper, this is the last of my latinum you're getting. I need reppordine and I need it now. You have some information on how to get it - just tell me how."
"If I wanted reppordine, I'd make friends with the Xanthiact Consul, such good friends that they'd want to give me some nice parting gifts. Some clothes, maybe. A jar or two of especially pickled fernfruit, I imagine. And maybe six vials of reppordine so I could remember the fine time I had here when I get back to my home planet. Or spaceship. Or whatever."
"I'll give you a partial vial if you help us get some."
"You're so impetuous. So cute. I believe I just might help you out."
"Look around you, human. What's missing?"
Archer had been watching this exchange very carefully. Now he moved over to the storekeeper. "You asked us to take off our clothes. That's a curious request. I notice also that there are no apparent women or any kind of feminine types or entities here. Are you trying to tell us something about this planet?"
"You are correct, sir. It's a man's world. There's no one here with any use for women, I assure you."
"So when we go to the Consul's tonight . . ."
"Oh, how I envy you! The Consul is famous for his parties of love. Featuring the most worthy of men. The healthiest! The sturdiest! The loveliest! And I must say that, if we are looking for the loveliest, you both would certainly be in the running. Especially you." And he looked at Travis. "If you give me one vial of reppordine, I'll tell you how to get it."
"If you know how, then why don't you get some for yourself?" Archer asked.
"The Consul and his men know me; if they caught me, it would be the Nausicaan slave market for sure. But they don't know you. Now listen: if I wanted reppordine and I were you, I'd very simply tell the Consul it was . . . my bonding day. Relationships are very important here on Alvelius. If they thought a couple like you had sought out this place to celebrate your bonding, they would get festive indeed. And these are a people who are wildly festive by nature."
Archer and Travis looked at each other.
"It has to be asked," Archer said. "How do we know you're not lying to us?"
"Don't give me any reppordine then," the Valistian said and shrugged.
Archer looked at himself in the mirror.
He looked okay. He looked all right. The toga the Valistian had sold him was maybe a little short, but then he was a tall man.
Travis' toga looked much better. Its ivory color sat next to his skin with great harmony.
"If this storekeeper is making a joke with us . . . " Archer shook his head.
"I don't think he is, Captain. I've heard of places like this all my life. Resort planets for people with, you know, specialized tastes."
"You understand what we're doing, don't you, Travis? We're pretending to be bonded. Almost like a marriage."
"I understand, sir," Travis said. His pretty face was open and sincere.
Everything seemed to be going quite well.
Scores of men were all comfortably seated around long tables; the food was plentiful, exotic, delicious, the wines exquisite, and Archer and Travis were seated at the Consul's table.
Archer leaned over to the Consul. "Yes, back on Earth, we call it a honeymoon."
"A honeymoon!" said the Consul. "A wonderful term!"
"We will have to give them our best Alvelius blessings!" laughed a different Xanthiact.
A hum of assent sped through the crowd.
The Consul stood up. "A capital idea! Bring forth garments! Jewelry! And those numerous ointments which enhance love-making! Toau root! Yoluva oil! Reppordine!" And he sat back down. "Bring them all out!"
And, while servants scurried off to do his bidding, he leaned over to Archer. "Tell us about your first mating."
"Well," Archer said, thinking furiously. "Our tradition has been not to consummate before the . . . bonding."
"Most irregular," the Consul said. Then he called out: "Drex, what do you think of that?"
Archer sat back.
And Drex emerged from the shadows. He had changed into a very beautiful toga, but his face still bore its searching look. "They are telling the truth about the unconsummated love, but they seem to be . . ." he paused, apparently searching for words. "I did not sense that they had bonded." And he sat down beside the Consul.
The Consul took another drink of his wine. "You're not lying to us, are you?" Travis scooted closer to Archer. "You're telepathic, aren't you?" he said to Drex.
"Yes, I am a Betazed."
"We haven't heard too much about your race," Travis said. Interested, mild-mannered.
"I have psychic powers," Drex said. "I use them to help out the Xanthiactic government."
And suddenly Archer could almost feel Drex reading his thoughts. I love Travis, he said to himself, I love Travis. We want those gifts too. To enhance our pleasure. That's all. And he made his mind fold out all thoughts but those.
Drex relaxed slightly and leaned back. "No, they haven't bonded yet. This is their first night."
"Capital!" said the Consul. "And here are your presents, just in time!"
Servants came in bearing all sorts of packages, bolts of fabric, jars and vials.
"You shouldn't have," Archer said. A tiny joke.
"Oh, my, look at that," said the Consul. "Travis, will you model this?" And he held up a very short and transparently silky skirt attached to an elaborate leather belt.
Travis looked a little diffident, so Archer leaned in. "My love, you don't have to do anything you don't want to."
"Actually, I don't mind." And Travis stood up and pulled off his toga.
The hall rang with cheers.
And rightly so. Travis was beautiful naked.
"I would give anything to be you tonight," the Consul whispered to Archer and even Drex smiled at that.
"Here, let me fasten that for you," Archer said, leaping up. And ,taking hold of the belt, he fastened it lovingly around Travis's narrow waist, right under his navel. The skirt was just barely decent, but all the more provocative for that. Archer took a deep breath and fixed a smile on his face. Then he whispered in Travis' ear. "I think they want a little show."
Travis looked at him with those huge long-lashed eyes. Ah, he understood. "That's actually pretty sexy."
And Archer kissed him.
The hall applauded wildly.
The kiss was interesting; Travis kept his mouth slightly open and he had a sweet taste. And he was very close to Archer's own height so they fit together quite well.
Then Archer pulled away.
"Excellent," said the Consul. "Let the fun begin."
And with his hand still on Travis' shoulder, Archer looked around the room.
What had been orderly rows of tables and chairs suddenly changed. Men began to pair off, or even form groups of three or four. Kissing. Fondling. Undressing.
Archer turned to Travis. "You kiss well."
"Thank you, sir." Travis lowered his eyes; his long black eyelashes formed dark crescents on his glowing cheekbones. "Drex is still watching us."
And Archer leaned over again and kissed him again - always keeping his mind the thought of Travis as someone he loved, of Travis as someone he desired.
Then they pulled away, and Archer let his hand drift down Travis' chest. All the way to his arousal.
Besides, Archer himself was equally aroused. He looked around - over here a young male alien was lying on his back on a table as another alien was penetrating him; beside them, two aliens were kissing and touching each other everywhere with their tendril-like hands.
He looked back to the Consul. The Consul bit his lip as he looked around the room.
Now an elderly Xanthiact had taken a younger-looking alien and stripped his clothing off. He smiled as his hand ran up and down the youngster's powerful body.
Archer's eyes met Travis.
"Consul, I think I would like to be alone with my mate now."
The Consul gave a deep vee-shaped smile. "Boy, show them to the Guan Room. It's the most appropriate place."
The Guan room was clearly a love nest. There was a huge round bed with mirrors in the ceiling and all around the bed, and near the bed was a marble tub lined with bottles of exotic emollients.
But they weren't out of the woods yet.
Travis gave him a sidewise look, and Archer rolled his eyes up the ceiling.
Travis' eyes widened. He understood.
"We're alone at last, Travis, but I wonder . . . "
Travis said nothing, only kept those luminous eyes fixed on Archer.
Archer walked towards him. "I like this little . . . garment. It sets your . . . charms off well." And he put his arms around Travis and leaned over as if to kiss him. "You understand me, you always have."
Travis moved his head back and barely flicked his eyes upward. "I sure do understand you."
"Good," Archer said and leaned in again and, mindful of the possible cameras trained on them, did kiss him.
Now that Archer had time to reflect, it was odd to be kissing someone, odd but profoundly delightful. Travis had a cushiony face, a full mouth, a gentle compliance that made it easy for Archer to kiss him in a certain happy way. He could feel the flutter of blood in Travis' lips and his own answering racing pulse.
And then, as he had in the Consulate dining room, he moved his hand to Travis' back, full and high and hard. But now they were alone, and Archer felt free to think about what he was doing, about the enormously pleasant thing he was doing, stroking Travis' buttocks, prominent and firm.
And Travis did nothing but stand there, passive and beautiful. "You are attractive to me." Archer hoped he wouldn't be misunderstood. Wanting Travis was a little part of it, wanting anybody once a man's blood was up was a big part of it, but the playacting took his breath away. Surviving in space called for a certain honesty, a certain lack of irony, and irony was always a part of sex for him. If you tried to kiss a woman and she said no (as some of them did), then you could make a joke out of it and everyone would laugh and life would go on. Of course, if you kissed her and she liked it, that was another story. Too bad, there never seemed to be time for these machinations in outer space. But now, with Travis, it seemed space was closer, time was taking a break, and he could play again.
And Travis was good to play with. Oh, the rough slick side of his tongue, his sweet breath, the pillowy strength of his mouth. And his skin was like satin as Archer ran his hand up and down Travis' backside.
Then Archer pulled back. "Let's get naked," he said and flicked his eyes to the ceiling. How could they know they weren't being watched? It was just easier to play the game in order to get the reppordine from the imperious Xanthiacts.
Travis gave him a small smile; surely that meant he understood.
"Look at those mirrors, Travis. Maybe they're two-way mirrors. Maybe someone is watching us. Isn't that sexy?" Travis was strikingly pretty; odd he had not noticed it. Well, he had noticed that he had a handsome crew, and then he'd forgotten about it. "Tell you what, Travis, let's pack up these presents and then make love."
"Yes . . . Jon."
And they both turned to the pile of goods in the floor.
Archer got down on his knees to put the presents in an orderly pile.
"Here's the toau root," he said and put the box on the pile. "And the yoluva oil!" He opened the vial. "Interesting fragrance." The he picked up something in a pottery jar; it had a cord for a handle. "The servant told me there were eight vials of reppordine in this jar." He set it over by itself casually.
Travis stood there for a moment and then squatted, his knees far apart.
And the little skirt rose up to his waist. Archer swallowed. Travis was about as aroused as anyone Archer had ever seen. And bigger than any other man Archer had ever seen. Poetically long and stiff, uncut, wet at the tip. Archer hadn't gotten to get a good look at it before.
But now . . .
It was possible that, if Travis kept squatting like that, his smooth brown knees far apart, then Archer could embrace him from behind and use his fingers to make Travis ready for him.
He drew in his breath. Then stood up and pulled his toga off.
And Travis did the same with his skirt.
"Sit on the side of the bed, Travis," Archer told him. "If that's okay with you?"
Travis was very serious. "Permission to speak frankly, sir."
Archer smiled. "Granted, Travis."
"Things are different out here, sir. The . . . morality you find on Earth is . . . pretty much limited to Earth. Out here you have to do what you have to do. I think getting the . . . presents is worth this, and I think this is nice in and of itself."
"These are my feelings too, Travis." But then Archer didn't feel like talking any more and he found himself gripping Travis' thighs. And then Travis slipped off the bed and they were both kneeling naked together, and Archer felt Travis grip him with his strong hands, and Travis' thumb moved across the most sensitive part of his body, and he quit moving against Travis for a moment, because he wanted to concentrate on the sensations beating against his body, and suddenly he realized that he was just about to come, and he put his hand on Travis' erection, so hard, so wet at the end, and with a few more wild motions, they both were coming against each other, their hearts pulsing against their joined lips.
"Good bye, sirs," said the Consul cordially. Drex was standing at his side. "I hope your *honeymoon* was as pleasant for you as it was for me." Then his face made an amusing contortion.
It must have been a Xanthiactic wink.
"We thank you," Archer said simply.
Drex stepped forward. "Your love for each other is plain to see."
Archer nodded at him. "You're very lucky to have a Betazed, Consul. I sure wish I had one by my side."
"And I wish I had a companion like your Travis at my side," said the good-natured Consul.
"Consul, Jon and I thank you for everything. I have to say, though, that we were shocked to see that Denobulan slave koffel. It just doesn't fit in with a fun-loving place like this."
The Consul blinked. He looked very like Dr. Phlox when he did that.
"We know some Denobulans and we like them a lot," Archer said.
The Consul pursed his lips. And looked even more like Dr. Phlox.
Drex glanced at Archer and Travis, and then tapped the Consul on the arm.
"Consul, I am your humble subject, but, as I have been telling you for some time, this treatment of the Denobulans is only bringing us criticism. I would hate to see an Alvelius whose only allies were Nausicaans."
There was a pointed silence, and then the Consul spoke. "I thank all of you for your commentary. I shall pass this along to the Xanthiact high counsel." Then he twitched his lips again. "I cannot say I am unsympathetic to your remarks. I myself just like a good time."
Archer stepped in. "And you gave us one. Many thanks again. Travis, let's go home. They're waiting on us."
Archer was sitting quietly in his quarters when the doorbell rang.
"Come in," he said. Porthos looked up and then rested his head on his paws again.
Travis walked in. "It's me, sir."
Since that strange evening on Alvelius, they had been avoiding each other. But Archer knew he had not been successful in avoiding thinking about Travis. "Have a seat, Travis."
"Thank you, sir."
"Call me Jon."
Travis gave him a strained smile. "Dr. Phlox is his old self again, isn't he?"
"I did notice that he had his appetite back," Archer said. And then it was quiet and he could hear his own breathing.
"Sir, what's going to happen now?"
"I don't know, Travis. What do you want to happen?"
"I don't know."
Archer looked at him. Travis was beautiful and smart, and they were alone in a big cold galaxy. "If I asked you what you wanted, what would you say? I only want you to do what you want to do."
"I liked making love to you," Travis said. It was almost a whisper.
The warp engines were pounding in Archer's ears, and he couldn't quite meet Travis' eyes.
"What if I asked you to stay with me tonight?"
"I'd like that. But what about tomorrow?"
The age-old lover's question.
"Tomorrow will just have to take care of itself."
And he put his hand out to Travis as the Enterprise sped through the ancient stars.