Drug-induced wakefulness was not a gradual process, it was like the yanking back of a veil as Avon's mind returned to consciousness; a necessary measure to prevent the threads of nightmares from taking hold.
There was another tickle of sensation, a caress of warm, gentle hands across his chest. A languid well-being infused his body, a satisfied restfulness that felt right, which in itself was quite wrong for him. He opened his eyes, a gentle, relaxed look on his face, and a rare moment before the stress of being himself caused the mask of rationality and cold defensiveness to fall into place. His voice was low with morning huskiness, "Cally."
"Good morning, Avon." Her melodious voice greeted him, one that conveyed the wide smile she must have had on her beautiful face. Hazy memories of sensation-filled delights brought smiles to their lips.
"A very good morning."
The remembered taste of Cally's lips was too delicious to resist, and the sweet smell of her was the fragrance of peace to his heightened senses. He leaned forward, knowing he would find her waiting lips. She snuggled up against him and buried her fingers in his hair as they embraced, hot currents of desire connecting them.
Sorting through boxes and bags of shopping was just as fun as buying them. Corinne lifted a thin lace negligee up to the light, wondering what possessed her to buy something so provocative when she glanced up and saw wide eyes and the look of delight on Vila's face.
"I can't wait to see you in that." He gave her a big smile.
Corinne dropped the negligee back into the box and shut it with a teasing grin. "You will soon enough."
"Do you want to do more shopping today?" His eyes were wistful as he remembered the electronics shop he found just before they left. He'd only had time to peek through the window before being teleported back to the ship.
The cabin was crammed, boxes were strewn everywhere, clothes were piled on top of each other in layers of colours and various pieces of unidentified equipment, Vila's purchases, were stacked precariously. "I think we'll need a bigger room," sighed Corinne.
"I'm sure there's a storeroom somewhere…"
Nimble fingers with light red nails reached into a pile of dark colours. "Vila, isn't this Avon's?" She put it up to her eyes, staring at him through the dark lenses of a pair of aviator glasses.
"It's mine." He flushed with embarrassment. "I…bought it from the STUDS collection. Thought I might need a pair. Just in case…of solar flares…"
"Did you get me a pair?"
"Avon," Cally had the silk blanket lifted and was peering under it, "Where are our clothes?" They were conspicuously, and in the case of Avon, gloriously, unclothed.
An amused smile lifted one corner of Avon's lips, "I imagine where we deposited them last night."
A quick perusal of the room showed a lack of any clothing items. "And, where would that be?"
Avon sat up. "They're not in the room?"
"Not unless my eyes are faulty."
He quickly felt his wrist and then grabbed for hers, tension tightening his face. "Teleport bracelets. They're gone."
"I…don't remember taking them off…" The wracking of a fuzzy brain produced nothing other than pleasant memories, and no clothes.
"I don't remember removing my clothes, or yours…" said Avon, his brow furrowed as he tried to recall but all he remembered was the silky softness of Cally's skin, her searching lips and…
He shook his head, trying to clear his mind.
"If they're not in here…" She looked uneasily at the door.
They turned to face each other.
"Check outside," said Avon. "Quickly."
He didn't know which was worse, the embarrassment that they'd been so overwhelmed with physical desire that they'd stripped in the corridor, along with their teleport bracelets (which he didn't believe for one minute), or some unknown menace had come in while they were 'indisposed' and taken them, without either one noticing.
Cally wrapped the blanket tight around her body, glad that there was plush carpeting on the floor - because she couldn't find her boots either - and went over to the door. Avon reached behind him for the pillow and covered his essentials in case someone passed by the door, which would be just their luck.
The way things were going on this planet, he wouldn't be surprised if there was a full marching band waiting to come in.
Listening to make sure there was no one outside, at least no one with big clomping boots, Cally opened the door an inch and took the peek outside. It seemed empty, without even a shadow to haunt its corridors. She pushed the door open a little further and met resistance.
Oh no. She grimaced, ready to slam the door shut and jump back into bed with Avon, and never come back out.
No one seemed to be pushing back and there were still no sounds. No tell-tale breathing. Pushing it open a little further, and meeting more resistance, she realized something must be blocking the door. It was open enough for her to slip out now.
Cally stuck her head around the door and looked down...at a neatly folded pile of clothes, hers and Avon’s clothes, with the teleport bracelets neatly placed on top! Two pairs of boots lay next to them, with Avon’s black pair knocked over by the door.
Holding the blanket tightly with one hand, she looked quickly left and right and bent down to grab the clothes, bracelets and boots, throwing them into the room. She shut the door, leaning back against it with a sigh of relief that no one had seen her.
“Cally?” Avon’s head angled towards her. “What is it?”
“Well, I have good news and bad news. Which would you like first?”
Thinking no news would be good news at this juncture, he said, “Surprise me.”
“I’ve found our clothes and the teleport bracelets.”
“And the bad news?”
“Someone folded them.”
He stared at her for a moment, his sightless eyes able to convey intensity other people couldn’t achieve even with sighted ones. “How do you feel?”
“I don’t sense anything unusual,” she said, lying back down beside him and looking at him speculatively. He looked so deliciously vulnerable and even more delightful without his clothes on; she wondered if they could spend the rest of the day like this. Unfortunately, there was a meeting with the Prime Minister later that morning.
“That’s not what I meant.” Avon breathed in sharply when he felt her fingers on his chest. The warmth tickled, and it felt good as it swiftly reawakened the sensations from the night before, and from earlier this morning. He made a half-hearted try to concentrate as her lips claimed his. The words coming out disjointed, like a puzzle he could barely put together. “We...need...to...dress...and find Argus.”
“Hmm?” she asked, not particularly into verbal conversation at the moment. Her mouth left a trail of moist heat as it travelled down his neck, determined to leave a mark.
“I think...we’ve been drugged.” That idea should have set his paranoid imagination on fire and had him jumping out of bed, ready for action, but the only action he wanted right now couldn’t be achieved standing up...or it could have, but he didn’t want to waste any time.
A shift on the flight deck, no matter how boring, usually put Jenna in a good mood. As she handed the duty over to Sergeant Kenner, he nodded to her, “Jenna.”
“Sergeant.” She gave him a slight smile before leaving.
Being included in the shift rotations made her feel an important member of the ship, something that was precious to her. She wasn’t part of the meeting with the Prime Minister later, but at least she wasn’t stuck on the ship. It was a good thing having the soldiers on board. More people to take shifts.
She rounded a corner and saw a familiar leather ensemble coming towards her, with those new aviator glasses he was starting to favour. It was hard to believe Avon was blind the way he carried on in the ship.
There was no longer tensing in antagonism, but neither was there a friendly look on her face as they passed, two ships in space, the void eating up any words they might have.
Jenna did a double-take. “Who are you?”
The leather-clad man, with tastefully placed studs, lifted the dark glasses. “It’s Baxter, ma’am...I mean, Jenna.”
An hour or two later, Avon and Cally were finally dressed and headed to Argus and Reya’s room. She rapped on the door.
Light streamed through the far open window, the bright sun informing anyone interested that it was nearing noon. Faint footsteps in the adjacent corridor gave the assurance of life in the building though they had no visual proof yet.
“Try it again,” said Avon when there was no response. He put his ears to the door as Cally knocked again. Indistinct sounds, faint voices and the sound of metal. “I can hear them.”
She knocked again and after a few seconds, a flushed Reya opened the door.
“Oh...hello.” The normally neatly dressed woman was dishevelled and out of breath.
Cally suppressed a smile at finding her clad in a light green nightgown at this late hour.
"We need to speak to Argus." Avon stepped forward only to find Reya's arm barring his way.
"He's a bit busy right now," said the unusually flustered woman.
"Is that Avon? What's wrong? Let him in." Argus's voice was strong, and with a note of concern.
Reya sighed and moved out of the way as the two entered. Cally suppressed another smile at finding their bare-chested leader sitting in bed, the covers draped over his right arm and the rest of his body, and with a determinedly unconcerned look on his face.
"We've been drugged," said Avon.
Argus avoided Cally's eyes as he tried to sound casual. "Oh?"
"An aphrodisiac of some type." He strained his ears, trying to identify what was wrong in this room. There was clearly something, he could hear it in the voices, too many people trying to sound normal. He cursed his disability for leaving him in the dark.
Clearing his throat, Argus exchanged a meaningful glance with Reya, amused to see her blush slightly. The uncharacteristic sight made his pulse race. "That explains a few things."
"Ah," said Avon as realization dawned. "You too."
"Yes," Argus cleared his throat again, "quite a bit."
Reya was now blushing quite a bit and staring in mortification at her mate, hoping he wouldn't go into any gory details.
"You have your clothes," said Avon.
"Yes," said Reya, visually checking their clothes were where they had dropped them the night before. "Why wouldn't we?"
Avon said quickly, "No reason."
There was a faintly choking sound from Cally covered up by a cough, which Avon ignored.
"We have some questions to ask our hosts," said Avon.
"Yes, we do." Argus moved to get up but fell back without letting go of the blanket. "In a bit…"
"What's wrong?" There was sharp tension in Avon's voice.
"Well…" Argus's ears reddened. "I…can't at the moment."
With a pained look, Argus let the blanket drop to his waist and jiggled the handcuffs securing his right wrist to the bedpost. "I'm a bit tied up at the moment."
Cally couldn't hold her amusement back and let out a burst of laughter, which she quickly stifled with a hand to her mouth. Reya's face was bright red now.
Avon glared in Argus's direction, his voice stern. "Then get the keys and unlock them."
"That's a bit of a problem," said Argus, pulling on the cuffs.
Reya winced. "We can't find the keys."
"We had them last night."
"We did." Reya nodded vigorously to confirm the fact.
"I'll help you look for them," said Cally, barely able to suppress a grin as Avon scowled.
The oily-haired man smiled on the viewscreen. "They do put on a good show, don't they?"
"Adequate," said the purple-nailed woman as she brushed a speck off her desk.
"Oh, more than adequate I would say. Exceptional and quite entertaining. Not to mention inspiring on many levels," he said with a knowing grin and a faint twinkle in his eyes.
"I believe the price was two thousand vems?"
"That was the last price."
She leaned forward, her eyes narrowing at his dismissive manner. "What do you mean, 'last price'?"
"Well…" The man studied his manicured nails, frowning at a chipped one. "Times have changed. Credits don't stretch as far as they used."
The woman growled, "Name your price, and it had better be reasonable."
"Four thousand vems." He looked up with an unrepentant smile.
"Four thousand!" the woman spluttered, outrage flowing from every pore. "I could buy a large planet!"
"I'm sure you won't enjoy it half as much as my merchandise."
"You don’t have him yet," she stabbed the table viciously with her index finger.
"Oh, I will. I only have to say the word."
She glared at him. "Very well, but he'd better be in pristine condition."
"Of course. And the other one?"
"Two thousand vems and not a vem more."
"Done!" The man slapped the table. "You will have delivery in two days."