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Part of USS Dvorak (Archive): Exes and XOs

The Fall

Argelius II, Temtibi Resort
Stardate 77623.6
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August 2400

The week Captain Taes took command of USS Sarek

 

“Don’t go,” Elbon whispered.

Reaching out in the dark, Elbon Jakkelb rolled onto his side in the bed.  He searched for Kellin using the pads of his fingertips.  He felt a weight on the mattress shift.  Elbon was reluctant to sit up –reluctant to move out of his half-dreaming state– because the buttery softness of the vacation resort’s bedsheets felt unlike anything he’d experienced before, even in the fully-automated luxury of Starfleet.  His palm found Kellin Rayco’s thigh, where Kellin was sitting at the foot of the bed.  Judging by the fabric, Elbon was dismayed to feel that Kellin had gotten dressed in the dark.

“You said we’re going for a hike later,” Elbon said, his words mumbled through his dreamy fog.  “You don’t need to work out.”  He squeezed Kellin’s thickly muscled leg to make his point.

Kellin whispered back, “I go to the gym on Dvorak without you every day.”  Elbon only heard good-natured humour in Kellin’s words; he sounded genuinely surprised by Elbon’s concern.  Still, Elbon took notice of Kellin’s choice of words too.  Kellin leaned back and he kissed Elbon on the shoulder.  “Go back to sleep,” Kellin added.

Elbon leaned into Kellin, wrapping his arms around the strongly-built Trill’s midsection.  “Give me five minutes,” Elbon said, pleading lightly, “and I’ll come with.”  For all his promise of a romantic couple’s workout, Elbon clung to Kellin to keep himself upright.  The weight of Kellin was the only tether holding Elbon to wakefulness.

“Don’t worry so much,” Kellin replied.  Elbon could easily imagine Kellin sticking his tongue out at him in the dark.  “I promise there are no Remans vacationing on Argelius,” Kellin teased.

That assumption made Elbon tense up.  He hoped Kellin couldn’t feel his arms and shoulders stiffen.  This was the first time Kellin had made mention about the timing of Elbon’s invitation to him.  After serving together aboard Dvorak for months, Elbon had invited his estranged husband, Kellin, on vacation mere moments after Kellin had been released from his imprisonment on Kunhri III.  Kellin had been arrested, briefly, and accused of murdering several Reman youths.  Upon a review of the evidence –and some mild bribery from Captain Taes– the Remans had released Kellin and Elbon had been waiting for him.  Elbon had showered Kellin with more affection in a minute than he had in all the time they’d served together.  Between kisses, Elbon had promised Kellin an intimate shore leave to recover.  “I’d miss you,” Elbon said, “even in my dreams.”  They both had a lot to recover from.

“I thought,” Kellin said bashfully, “you’d get bored of my face by now.  Or I’d need a breather from you taking everything too seriously.”  Kellin relaxed his posture, his body melting against Elbon.  “It hasn’t happened.  I promise.”

Speaking in his full voice, Elbon said, “I’d rather be around you than not.”

“It’s effortless.  You know how to make me feel calm,” Kellin replied warmly.  After a pause, Kellin asked, “Why isn’t it this easy on Dvorak?”

“Do we have to psychoanalyze this?” Elbon asked.

“Isn’t that why we came here?” Kellin retorted.

Elbon sank back onto the mattress and he pulled the luxurious sheets over his skin.  He didn’t respond.  Kellin finished tugging his shoes on.

 


 

Kellin was leading Elbon along a narrow walking trail between a cluster of molten-looking mushrooms that were the size of panthers.  The pair were traversing through a place of uncommon beauty on Argelius II, known as Lodine Thicket.  The earth was coated in brown moss and wide, flat mushrooms that look like cooling molten rock. Growing up to just above Kellin’s 195 centimetres were stumpy, orange mushrooms that grew wider at the base than at the tip, and they were flowering with fronds that looked like dripping goop. Growing even taller than both men were massive green pitcher plants and baffling white mushroom-trees that looked terribly like spinal cords, to Kellin’s eyes, with segmented discs and sacs piling all the way up.  The thicket scared Kellin when they’d first entered it, and yet now he craved it all the more.

For some time now, Kellin had been sharing a long-winded story about how it felt like there was a rock in one of his hiking boots, and yet whenever he took it off, he could find nothing inside.  Tilting his head in Elbon’s direction, Kellin softened his features and  he slouched, in hopes of avoiding a defensive reaction from Elbon. Kellin further furrowed his brows and widened his blue eyes, in his most intentional puppy-dog expression.  

Out of the blue, Kellin remarked, “I do miss you, you know.”

Elbon didn’t react at first, didn’t respond right away.  Much like Kellin, he was wearing a Starfleet athletic tank top and short-shorts from the 2380s.  It was the only choice for the heat in his region of the planet.  Elbon’s first response was only to pick at the fabric of his tank top at the shoulders, untwisting it where it had curled.  Continuing in his stride, Elbon replied, “You don’t need to miss me, you know.”  There was something appeasing in his tone of voice, but there was also something condescending too.  “We live on the same deck.”

“I’ve tried,” Kellin said, a little diffidently.  He shrugged one shoulder at Elbon, but he couldn’t hold eye-contact with him for long.  While increasing the pace of his stride, Kellin said, “After I was body-swapped with Yuulik, I asked for your advice a few times.  The experience made me question some things… literally seeing myself from the exterior.  But walking a couple of decks to the orchestra pit lounge was too far for you…”

Elbon breathed out a huff through his nose.  “I’m sorry about that.  I am,” he said.  He spoke quietly, with defeat in his tone.  “I told you then, it was… stressful learning how to work with Taes, at first.  I was spiraling in my own head at the time.” –Elbon chuckled slightly– “And you only get introspective late, when I’m already sleeping.  Just because I said no, just because I hurt you, that doesn’t mean you give up.”

Trudging onward, Kellin said, “It makes logical sense when you say it like that…” and he trailed off as if he had been check-mated.  After another six steps, Kellin shook his head and he added, “I guess it feels so much like rejection in the moment.  It can be hard to shake off.”

The path they had been hiking came to an abrupt end.  Elbon turned around to face Kellin, to look right at him.  As if he had pathetic fallacy on his side, Elbon raised his voice to be heard above the crashing sound of water.  The path had led them to a cliff’s edge, across the way from a majestic waterfall.  “Okay, okay, I haven’t been the most available,” Elbon said, “but keeping score isn’t going to get us anywhere.”

“It has to mean something, doesn’t it?” Kellin asked helplessly.  He threw his arms open wide.  “We breathe the same air every day and you can never find many words for me.  We’ve run out of anything to talk about.  Isn’t that… resignation?”

Shaking his head at Kellin vigorously, Elbon closed the physical distance between them.  He took hold of Kellin by the shoulders and he tilted his head up to look Kellin right in the eyes.  “You’re not the cause of my introversion,” Elbon insisted.  “You might be a victim of it, but it’s not about you.”

Wincing at Elbon, Kellin asked, “Then what is it?”  His eyebrows raised and the tension in his shoulders relaxed at Elbon’s touch.  Speaking softer now, with Elbon so close, Kellin admitted, “I feel like I don’t know you anymore.  Like I don’t remember you right.”

Elbon didn’t say anything.  He raised a hand to brush the back of his fingers down Kellin’s jawline, luxuriating in Kellin’s strawberry-blond beard.  “You know me,” Elbon said and he kissed Kellin.  Kellin didn’t hesitate to kiss him back.  After breathing in sharply, Elbon breathed out a single, delighted, “hah,” between Kellin’s lips.  “I haven’t heard you make that sound since–“

But Kellin interrupted him.  “That wasn’t me.”

Through the thicket, Kellin could hear a sniffing and snorting sound that escalated into a bellowing roar. It sounded like a bugle crying through jagged teeth. Between the trees, he spotted a mass of flesh skittering towards them. It was the size of a rhinoceros. The thing had seven legs protruding from its tubular body, and it spiraled to alternate between club-like elephant feet and scorpion-stinger feet. Its flesh was mostly transparent, which allowed its insides to visibly glow with the neon spiderweb that may have been its nervous or digestive systems. The thing trampled through mushrooms and trees of all sizes, trampled towards the men who had been making such disagreeable argument noises.

Elbon was the first to react.  “By the prophets, just shoot it,” he demanded.

Kellin didn’t look at him when he responded. He kept his eyes on the massive creature, watched the way it moved. “I didn’t bring a phaser on our date,” Kellin shouted back.

Elbon was already crouched to the ground, pulling a type-one phaser out of his boot.  It didn’t take Elbon much longer to jump back up to his full height and aim his phaser at the beast barrelling towards them.  A heartbeat later, Elbon dropped the phaser.  “Nope,” Elbon said emphatically.  And then he turned around and he sprinted to the cliff’s edge. Without looking back, he dove off the cliff, leaving Kellin behind. 

Comments

  • What a great cliffhanger to leave us on! It's great to see this relationship between these two being rebuilt and when you shared they were married a few missions ago, it was always a mystery to know what had happened and why they weren't 'together'. I feel Elbon has more to do to make it up to Kellin, but then I think Kellin is the type of easily forgiving guy who doesn't like having people who mean something to him far from him. Don't make us wait too long to know if they survived!

    August 15, 2022