Author's note: This is actually, "Mixed Doubles, Part 2" because I wrote another vignette using the identical setup in the Star Wars universe, which I'll eventually post in the SWars section. This is an adult theme, as you'll notice, but since there's nothing explicit, I put it in the gen section. Since I did both SW and B7 versions of this, I expect I must have written it early on in my B7 addiction, about 1986, say.
by Pat Nussman
"What is it?" Cally turned her glass up to the light,surveying the pale amber liquor dubiously.
"The natives call it queronal." Avon held his own portion delicately balanced between his blunt, but curiously elegant,fingers.
"Yes, but is it intoxicating or stimulating or what?"
"I have no means to analyze it, but from what the natives have indicated, it is some sort of stimulant customarily partaken of during a yearly festivity, which we have fortuitously--" His voice became heavy with irony. "--Arrived just in the midst of."
"I don't like it, drinking something I don't know."
"Nor do I." Avon's voice was flat, matter-of-fact. As always. "But the local inhabitants seem rather insistent that we participate in their festivities. And I need not remind you that Liberator's auto repair systems are in grave need of the materials these same locals can supply. It seems a small price to partake of their favored beverage."
"True." Nevertheless, Cally gave her glass a troubled look.
"Cally," Avon inquired suddenly. "If you sense something..."
She shook her head. "Not poison, no, if that is what you mean. Nothing fatal. But, Avon, I feel...that this is no ordinary beverage."
"But not hostile, not fatal," he probed.
She concentrated on the faint traces of emotion she could feel about her. Happiness, congeniality, some type of joyous longing she had no knowledge of, a sort of...catharsis. Yes, that was it, the beverage was involved in a catharsis, a release of some type, one that involved the sharing of...she lost it.
But it didn't matter. So long as the feeling caused no pain--aside from perhaps a certain pleasurable frustration she could not entirely pinpoint--the beverage would seem quite safe.
"No," she answered at last. "It seems all right."
"Well, then." He raised the glass to his lips, took a cautious sip. "Not unpleasant."
Cally followed his example. "No. In fact, it tastes rather good." And felt good, as well. She felt...a sort of spreading warmth in her body as the liquor coursed through her system, an intensity, a burning that centered low in her torso, below the stomach. An intensification of the feelings she had received before, faint and distorted, from the entire settlement.
"Cally." Avon half rose from the bench, a faint beading of moisture on his forehead. "Cally, that...feeling you got before, was it--?" Avon paused. His breathing sounded odd. Shallow.
"No, you would not know, would you? Stupid of me. You're from Auron...reproduction by cloning."
Whatever was Avon talking about? Cally couldn't seem to concentrate properly. She felt weak and uncomfortably warm. And she had the distinct feeling that she would like to lie down.
"Yearly festival," Avon continued hoarsely. "I should have realized."
"Realized what?" She couldn't breathe correctly. Something odd here. Maybe she had been wrong...but she had felt no threat, only warmth and pleasure and... She suddenly recalled the hut nearby, the one the natives had given them in case they felt in need of rest during their stay. At the time, she had not, but now...
She stumbled to her feet, her vision reduced to a tunnel that included only the hut...and Avon, standing a little to one side of her path. She discovered abruptly that she felt fondly toward Avon. Not that she had not always liked him, in her way,but now she liked him a great deal more than ever before.
She swayed toward him, toward the hut. "Realized what?" she repeated vaguely.
"Fertility rites. We have stumbled upon..." Avon seemed to lose his voice or perhaps his train of thought. Together, hanging onto each other for balance, for sanity, they found their way into the cool dimness of the hut, the leather door hanging falling closed behind them.
"What do--" She found herself in Avon's warm clasp, his arms folded carefully around her thin frame. Somehow, his lips were at her neck, then nuzzling at one ear. It was odd behavior for Avon, but not unpleasant. She tried to continue her question, "--Fertility rites--" What was it, then, some sort of cloning ceremony?" Except that humans didn't clone. "--Have to do with that drink?"
Avon raised his lips from the exploration of her ear, an interruption Cally did not care for in the least. But he did answer her question. Avon could never resist providing instruction. "The drink was an aphrodisiac, Cally." Then his lips returned to their prior location, and his tongue--
An odd human gesture. But nice.
"What," she inquired with difficulty, "is an aphrodisiac?"
He cradled her chin with one hand, turning it so that their lips nearly touched. A pleasant position. "That, Cally--" His voice was more unsteady than she'd ever known Avon's voice could be. "--Is what you are about to find out."
Their lips met.
Very well, then, Cally thought hazily. She was always ready to increase her knowledge of alien customs. And she had this odd feeling that this alien custom would prove interesting, indeed.
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