Title: When It Rains, It Pours

Author: Kate Kernshaw

E-mail: k1a9t8e0@yahoo.com

Date: 09/12/02

Type: Slash, M/M

Pairing: Enterprise, Archer/Reed

Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: Not my characters—they all belong to Paramount.

Summary: Silliness about an alien bug and an unusual cure for its sting. In response to Helyn Highwater's "bug" challenge!

Beta: Many thanks to MJ for suggestions and advice and to Squeaky, a truly outstanding beta!

Additional Notes: For our non-American readers, I probably should explain that the planet name, Orkin, is the name of a large, national, pest control company. The commercials show the agents all wearing hard hats. One of their commercials is a favorite of mine—a woman is standing on a chair while a huge cockroach crosses the floor. The woman is talking on the phone to the pest control company: "…I don't know what it is…it's a really, really big bug, and I need someone to come out here right now! I don't KNOW what it's called! It's a…a…, it's a buggus biggus scarius!" I decided to name the species Morton because of its love for sodium chloride (salt). Morton is the name of a major salt company, and its logo is, "When it rains, it pours", hence the title of the story.

Archive: Sure to EntSTSlash, enterpriseslash, Archers_Enterprise, WWOMB. All others please ask.

Captain Jonathan Archer deftly docked the shuttlepod, glad to be back home aboard Enterprise. He sat back with a sigh, happy that this mission had turned out easy, safe, and profitable. The leaders of the planet Orkin had invited Archer and a small team to come for a visit; soon they were busy bartering to exchange necessary commodities. The Orkins were in dire need of medical supplies and engineering components. Enterprise needed a large supply of dilithium crystals, and both groups had come away from the bargaining table fully satisfied.

Archer looked over his shoulder and smiled at the man sitting next to him in the co-pilot's seat, his armory officer, and lover, Lieutenant Malcolm Reed. Glancing beyond Reed, he grinned at his best friend and Chief Engineer, Commander Charles "Trip" Tucker, who stood eagerly waiting to disembark the shuttlepod. "I sure am glad to be home," Tucker said. "I never saw so many creepy, crawly critters in all my life." He shivered as he recalled the streets littered with millions of insects of varying types, too many to even catalog in his mind. "Don't know how those Orkins can stand living with so many bugs around them all the time. Of course, maybe that's why they all wear those hard-hat helmets."

Tucker shook his head to clear the horrible memory. "Hoshi," he said reaching down towards the Communications Officer, Ensign Hoshi Sato. "Do you mind helping me with these packs?" He picked up the larger and heavier of the two packs and immediately dropped it, jumping back as he shouted, "Sonofabitch!" Tucker danced about trying to dodge the scurrying creature that had stowed away in the pack.

Sato slid to the end of the seat, lifting her legs up off the floor. She wondered if Tucker was playing a joke on her, but the frantic look on Tucker's face convinced her of the danger. "Ewwwww," she said. "Where did it go?"

Reed jumped out of his seat and cautiously approached the rear of the shuttlepod. "What was it?" he asked Tucker.

"Damned if I know," replied Tucker. "It was a big, scary-looking bug!" He shivered again. "What the hell do you think you're doing?" he shouted at Reed, who had dropped to his hands and knees.

Reed scoured the floor looking for the creature. He soon spotted it burrowed into the furthest reaches of the corner under the rear seat. "Amazing," he whispered. "This thing looks sort of like a combination between a large cockroach and a hermit crab, but it appears to have a scorpion-like appendage, two rather long pincers, and it's blending into its surroundings, much like a chameleon." He crept closer.

"Malcolm, don't go near that creature," Archer said, forcefully. "We don't know anything about it. That thing could be poisonous." Tucker immediately jumped onto the nearest seat as far away as he could be from the bug.

Sato quickly followed Tucker. "That is so gross! I don't want to be anywhere near something that could be poisonous!" she exclaimed.

"But, sir," Reed said. "We can't open the hatch until this thing is secured. If it *is* deadly, we can't let it run loose in the ship." He slowly backed away, and Archer breathed a sigh of relief. Reed reached into the other pack and pulled out a small, clear plastic container, separating the lid and box. He also pulled out a plasma torch and burned several minute holes in the container's lid. Then he lay on his belly and crawled forward, slowly reaching his arms under the rear seat. The creature moved slightly, but Reed was quick. "Got you!" he crowed triumphantly. He snapped on the lid and brought out his prize.

Tucker paled as Reed swung the container right in front of him. "Get that damn thing away from me," he said. He hit the hatch release button and stormed out of the shuttlepod, a disgusted Sato on his heels. She turned around once and glared at the bug, but kept her caustic comments to herself. Reed handed the box to Archer and hefted the two packs on his shoulders.

"Why do I have to do all the work around here?" he muttered. Archer shook his head and smiled. The two men walked through the corridor and entered the turbolift. Reed set the packs down to rest a moment. "I don't know why Trip couldn't haul these packs himself; after all, they belong to his department," Reed grumbled. He exited the lift at Engineering, and, ensuring the packs were bug-free, Reed turned them over to a couple of Tucker's crew. Then he headed to his tactical station on the bridge.

Archer got off on Sickbay's deck, carrying the captured creature to Doctor Phlox for his assessment. They stood together gazing at the unusual-looking bug. "Fascinating, Captain, simply fascinating," Phlox murmured, as he examined the creature. His face lit up into a large smile. "I will run an analysis and send the results to you on the bridge."

"Thank you, Doctor," Archer said. He looked once more at the weird-looking bug, shivered, and quickly exited Sickbay.

A short time later Phlox called the bridge. "Captain, there isn't much information about this particular creature. However, I compared my analysis with the Vulcan database, and I can assure you that this species is relatively harmless. It does have a rather nasty, painful bite, but it is neither poisonous nor deadly." "Doc, does it have a name?" Tucker asked. Sato looked at Ensign Travis Mayweather at the helm and sniggered. Tucker's aversion to bugs of any sort was well known to the alpha shift bridge crew. Sub-commander T'Pol, standing at the science station, raised one eyebrow and tapped a few buttons on her console.

"Commander," T'Pol said. "This particular insect is known as 'Morton'…"

"Morton?" Tucker chortled, interrupting T'Pol. "What a stupid name for a butt-ugly bug!"

"If I may continue," T'Pol said with her usual aplomb. "The Morton is eminently regarded by the Orkins, because it is one of the few species of insects that assist them in mining dilithium. This species is highly attracted to sources of sodium chloride. It is *not* normally aggressive unless it feels threatened, and it protects itself by injecting an iodine-based venom through its bite. Its species classification…—"

"Uh, that's all right, T'Pol, I get the picture," Tucker said, shivering nervously at his engineering station.

"Besides," Reed said, from the tactical station, "Commander Tucker already informed the away team of the proper species classification." T'Pol raised her eyebrow once more, encouraging Reed to continue. "Yes, I believe the Latin translation would be something along the lines of: 'buggus biggus scarius'," he deadpanned. Sato and Mayweather burst out laughing while Archer covered his hand over his mouth to conceal his chuckles. T'Pol arched both eyebrows simultaneously. Tucker shot Reed one of his 'if-looks-could-kill-you'd-be-dead-already' looks, which Reed blithely ignored.

When his shift ended, Reed immediately went to Sickbay to visit the creature. Phlox had found a nice location for the box on one of his shelves while he prepared much nicer accommodations. Reed assisted Phlox in assembling the wire mesh cage, but both men were disappointed that the lid they had crafted was too flimsy. Still, it was the best they could do for now until a suitable material could be found to make a more secure lid. Reed asked Phlox if he could take the creature and care for it himself. "I captured it," he said. "I feel responsible for its well-being." Phlox agreed to the plan, grinning from ear to ear as the young officer walked out of Sickbay. Reed walked quickly down the corridor with the cage held close to his face, muttering soothing words to his new pet.

Archer entered his quarters, happy to hear soft jazz filtering through the audio system. He heard the shower running and smiled, knowing that Reed was already here. It pleased him that his lover felt comfortable in his cabin. Archer was tired, hot, and sweaty. He began unzipping his uniform, preparing to join Reed in the shower. He leaned his back against the desk and felt an unknown object shift behind him. Archer turned around and stopped in mid-zip, eyes narrowing at the creature in the cage parked atop the desk. "Malcolm!" he shouted, bolting into the steamy bathroom. "What the hell is that *thing* doing in my bedroom?"

Reed stepped out of the shower and started drying off. "Calm down, Jon," he said. "That 'thing' as you call it, is my new pet, Mortimer. You heard Phlox and T'Pol; he's completely harmless."

"He can bite, Malcolm. I don't want him here. I want him out-Now!" Jon said, firmly.

"Yes, of course, Jon," Reed agreed. "I didn't think Mortimer should be left all alone on his first night aboard ship. But if it makes you feel better, I'll take him to my quarters." He quickly dressed and the two men returned to the bedroom. Archer pulled Reed to him in a quick embrace and kissed him.

"I'm, sorry, Malcolm," Archer said between gentle kisses. "I'd rather not have 'Mortimer' near anyone, at least until we learn about his species." Reed leaned into Archer and kissed him hard, letting his lover know he wasn't upset.

The comm panel crackled. "Tucker to Reed."

"Reed, here-go ahead."

"Uh, your crew is looking for you. I told them I'd track you down and relay the message. There's a problem in the armory-something about a major problem with the power couplings to the phase cannons. They need you down there right away," Tucker reported.

"Understood. I'm on my way." Reed broke the connection and returned to Archer's arms. "I better get down there before the crew blows up the armory and half of engineering." He motioned towards the desk. "I promise, I'll come back for Mortimer and move him to my quarters as soon as I can."

Archer pulled Reed close again. "Don't take too long, love," he said. He planted several light kisses along Reed's jaw. "I was hoping you and I could explore another 'power coupling' right here," he smirked, turning Reed to face the bed. The implication of the night's planned activity was clear.

Reed smiled coyly. "I'll hurry back here as quickly as possible." The lovers kissed once more, long and hard, then Reed left Archer's cabin. Archer picked up a book, veering carefully away from the cage on the desk. He curled up on his bed and began reading. Within minutes he noticed Porthos had curled up on his doggy bed near the desk. Soon both were dozing, matching each other snore for snore.

An hour later, Reed returned to the cabin and smiled down at his sleeping lover. He gently kissed Archer, unintentionally awakening him. Archer reached his hand up and caressed Reed's face, smiling warmly back at him. A growling bark followed by a sharp yelp and whimper grabbed the men's attention. Porthos lay in his bed, licking and biting at a large swelling on his rump. Reed looked at the desk; the flimsy top had been shifted allowing Mortimer to escape. "Damn! That lid isn't very firm. Mortimer must have gotten out and bit Porthos."

"Damn it, Malcolm! You see how dangerous that monster is?" Archer yelled. He dashed into the lavatory and grabbed a towel.

Reed knelt down and soothingly petted the beagle. "Oh, Porthos, I'm so sorry," he whispered.

Archer returned to the bedroom and nudged Reed aside as he gently picked up his dog, lovingly wrapping him in the warm towel. "I have to get Porthos to Phlox right away. You find that bug and get rid of it," he said, angrily. "Let Phlox know we're coming," he added as he carried Porthos out the door.

Reed commed Sickbay to have Phlox stand by for a veterinary emergency. Then he began a thorough and methodical search for Mortimer. The insect was nowhere to be found. The thought crossed Reed's mind that Mortimer might have left the premises while the door was briefly open. He commed the armory and requested to have a security detail meet him at Sickbay to begin a ship-wide search. Reed paced back and forth, concentrating on how he was going to present this situation to his team without disclosing his close relationship with Archer. He never noticed the slight movement along the bedspread on Archer's bed. With a plan in mind, Reed turned off the lights and left Archer's quarters.

"Doctor, Captain," Reed greeted the two men as he entered Sickbay. He tried to sound professionally detached. The crew, with the exception of Commander Tucker, was not aware of the romantic development between Archer and Reed. "How is Porthos? Will he be all right?"

Archer stood by the biobed, anxious concern creasing his face. Porthos lay on his side, frothing at the mouth and whimpering. His body was hot with fever. Archer still looked angry. "Did you find that thing?" he asked.

"No, but I have a team standing by outside," Reed replied. "We'll do a thorough sweep of the entire ship. Don't worry, we'll find Mortimer and contain him again." He looked sorrowfully at the biobed and offered a silent apology to his lover. "Please keep me posted about Porthos, sir." He nodded at both men and rejoined the security detail in the corridor. He gave a few instructions, and the team split up to quickly search the ship.

"Mortimer?" Phlox asked. "What a lovely name—Mortimer the Morton, from the planet Orkin." He hummed an unusual tune, occasionally attempting to fit the phrase into lyrics.

"Doctor, your patient," Archer reminded him. He petted his dog, waiting anxiously to be told whether or not his beloved beagle would survive.

"Not to worry, Captain; dogs are quite resilient," Phlox said. He monitored the dog's biosigns, a frown crossing the doctor's face. "Hmm, Porthos is in no danger of losing his life, but there is nothing I can give him to counteract the venom that was injected into his body. I can give him a mild sedative to ease the symptoms, but this appears to be an ailment that will simply have to run its course." Archer looked displeased, his worry increasing. He stroked Porthos and kissed the top of the dog's head.

Phlox continued, "I expect your pet will be his usual self within twenty-four to forty-eight hours. Now, Captain, I must insist that you leave us for now. You look like you could use some rest, and there really isn't anything you can do for Porthos at this time." He escorted the captain to the door and patted him gently on the shoulder. "I assure you, I will summon you immediately should his condition change."

Archer reluctantly returned to his quarters. Reed was still searching the ship, and Archer was too tired to wait up for him. Without turning on the lights, Archer stripped completely and slid between the sheets of his bed. He tossed and turned, his mind shifting between worry and anger. He rolled over again, shifting his butt and stretching his legs to get comfortable. "Yeeoow!" he screamed. He scooted out of the bed and turned on the light, just in time to see 'something' scurry under the top sheet at the foot of his bed. He touched a finger to his rapidly swelling butt cheek, gasping at the hot pain that shot through him. Archer was furious with Reed about this bug situation and didn't want to look at him, let alone call him for assistance. He limped to the comm panel and summoned his friend, Tucker, to his quarters.

Tucker arrived in short order, barefoot, dressed in pajama bottoms and a rumpled tee-shirt. "I got here as fast as I could, Cap'n," he said when Archer, trying to fasten the belt of his robe, opened the door. "Wow! What happened to you?" He could tell by the agonized look on his friend's face that he was suffering tremendous pain.

"Mortimer," Archer answered. At Tucker's quizzical look, he explained. "That damn insect. Malcolm brought it home as a pet and named it Mortimer. It got out of its cage and bit Porthos earlier. Malcolm couldn't find it in here, so he and a security detail are searching the ship. I came back from Sickbay, went to bed, and the damn thing bit me!"

At mention of the big bug, Tucker started scanning the room. "Let's get out of here, Cap'n. I'll get hold of Malcolm to get down here and get his bug, but let's not chance any more bites tonight, okay?" Tucker was acutely aware that his bare feet somehow always managed to attract bites from the biggest and meanest bugs. The two men left Archer's quarters, unaware of the stowaway attached to Tucker's pajama leg.

Phlox looked up as Archer and Tucker entered Sickbay. "Captain, I was just going to…" he began.

"Wait, Doc," Tucker interrupted. "The Cap'n's been bit by that bug and he's in a lot of pain." They helped Archer get up on the biobed next to Porthos. Lying on the unswollen side, Archer was able to face his pet, pleased to see the dog sleeping peacefully.

Phlox took a moment to mentally assess the situation before him. He was usually one of the first to hear the latest gossip, but he was not aware of any regarding either Archer or Tucker having a romantic liaison with anyone aboard ship. Phlox quickly considered the facts: Captain Archer was completely nude under the robe. Commander Tucker was barely dressed, with tousled hair, and barefoot. The two men arrived together. Phlox remembered that humans had no taboos against recreational sex, even between members of the same sex. He wondered if it was possible that the captain and commander were involved in a discreet relationship.

Phlox cleared his throat and returned his attention to his patient on the biobed. He lifted the robe and thoroughly examined the wound, nodding his head. "Yes, indeed. This bite mark is remarkably similar to that suffered by your dog, Captain. Mortons are attracted to sodium chloride, more commonly known as salt, and your body undoubtedly had traces of salt residue from sweat, which is probably why you were bitten."

He clucked his tongue as he continued the examination, then prepared a pain-relieving hypospray. Phlox invited Tucker to approach the biobed. "See here, Commander, there's the sac of venom the creature injected. This is what causes the intense pain and swelling." Archer, embarrassed at Tucker looking at his bare butt, tried to cover himself again with the robe.

"Now, now, Captain," Phlox admonished, as he pulled the robe away from the wound. "There's no need to be embarrassed. It's a good thing Mr. Tucker came with you, because I've found the cure to this problem."

"You have?" Archer and Tucker exclaimed together. Archer wiped his robe sleeve across his mouth to remove the drool that had started to drip from the corners.

"Yes. Shortly after you left, Captain, Porthos became quite agitated. He jumped off the biobed, still frothing at the mouth. He rushed around the room for several minutes, apparently in a frantic search for something. Suddenly, he wrapped himself around a chair leg, made some rather interesting sounds, and began a mating ritual with it. Once he had expended his seminal fluid, he curled up next to the chair and fell asleep. The swelling rapidly dissipated, there are no more traces of venom in his system, and as you can see, he's sleeping peacefully."

Tucker laughed. "You mean to say that Porthos here fu…uh, humped a chair leg, shot his wad, and now he's cured? Just like that? Incredible!" He hesitated a moment. "If that worked for Porthos, then you think the Cap'n needs to fu…uh, have sex with, uh, someone, uh…," Tucker stopped, unable to complete the sentence.

"Quite so, Mr. Tucker. Now, if Captain Archer and…"

"Uh, not to be indelicate, Doc, but couldn't the Cap'n do the same thing as Porthos? Not with a chair leg, of course. I mean, couldn't he just jac…—uh, all by himself—you know, with his hand?" Tucker blushed several shades of red trying to make his suggestion clear.

"I'm afraid not, Commander," Phlox replied. "I'm not certain, of course, but due to the dog's small size and canine physiology, his method of relief was sufficient to cure him. However, the Captain is the first human victim. It may take more than one episode of sexual activity to cure him. Also, another human sharing the experience with him should help to ease the Captain's discomfort and bring him peace of mind throughout the ordeal. Now, if you have no further questions."

"Why are you looking at me like that, Doc?" Tucker asked. Comprehension suddenly dawned on him. "Wait just a minute," he shouted. "You don't think me and the Cap'n…? No way!" He looked at Archer, waiting for his friend to speak up and help him out this embarrassment. Archer looked down at the biobed and remained silent. Tucker could have sworn he saw the Captain grinning. He paced back and forth for several minutes, finally stopping next to Archer, his eyes imploring the Captain to confide in the doctor.

"Captain," Phlox said. "I must impress upon you the seriousness of this matter. Porthos endured several hours of excruciating pain, distress and discomfort, despite all my efforts to ease his suffering. I should hate for you to endure a similar or worse experience when we know what will bring about the cure."

"Doc, if you're *absolutely* sure this is the *only* way—" Tucker choked out the words. He looked helplessly at Archer, conflicting emotions crossing his face. He loved Archer as his best friend, as a brother, but he wasn't sure he could go through with this sacrifice. He thought about the situation for several minutes, took a deep breath and said, "All right, exactly what do I have to do to…?"

"No, Trip," Archer spoke quietly. "I may be mad as hell with him at the moment, but I can't—I won't—be unfaithful to—," he stopped, not sure if he should break the confidence he and Reed had agreed upon when they began their relationship. "Phlox, are you certain there's no other way?"

"I am afraid not, Captain," Phlox replied. "You will require more medication to ease the pain and ensure proper physical functions. And I will need to monitor your vital signs to be certain you do not suffer other side affects of the venom. We don't know if there will be additional complications due to your human physiology. Someone must remain with you through the process. I could assist you in this endeavor—." Archer jerked his head up, startled at the very idea of intimate relations with the doctor. Phlox continued, "But I assure you, Captain, that if you prefer to summon your lover to be here with you, I will keep your relationship a secret."

Tucker, looking relieved, glanced at Archer and waited for his response. When Archer remained silent, Tucker said quietly, "Come on, Cap'n, you know you can't stay mad at him for long. Besides, it isn't his fault this happened." At Archer's resigned acknowledgement, and Phlox's nod, Tucker tapped the comm panel, "Tucker to Reed, report to Sickbay immediately."

A few minutes later, Reed rushed in, fear showing in his face. "Is Porthos all right?" he asked, frantically. He stopped next to Archer lying on the biobed next to Porthos. "Jon, what happened?" he asked, tenderly stroking Archer's cheek. He turned to look at the other two men in the room. "What's going on here?"

Phlox quickly explained, with colorful embellishment from Tucker, about Archer's bite and what had happened to bring about Porthos' cure. Reed glanced around Sickbay, trying desperately to avoid looking Archer in the eyes. He wasn't sure which was worse: his lover's anger at him, or the absurdity of the proposed cure. He looked over at Tucker, noticing the other man was in pajama bottom and tee-shirt. Dropping his gaze lower, he idly wondered what kind of footwear Tucker wore. His eyes widened. "Shhh, everyone," he said, raising one finger to his lips. "Trip, stand perfectly still and *do not* move." He quietly walked over to the shelf where the small clear container used earlier to capture Mortimer still sat. He separated the lid from the box, carefully lowered himself to the floor, and crept towards Tucker's legs. In one fast, fluid motion, Reed snagged the insect off Tucker's pajama leg and quickly topped it with the lid. "Got you, you naughty boy!" he said.

Tucker let out a long breath, then put out his hand to take the box. "I'll be happy to jettison this little fella out the nearest airlock," he joked, nervously.

"You will not!" Phlox exclaimed. "That is a living creature. He must either remain here with me to be properly cared for, or, better yet, return him to his own world."

"I'll take care of it," Reed said. Tucker and Phlox merely stared at him. Reed looked at Archer, suddenly realizing he couldn't go anywhere yet; he and Archer had unfinished, albeit pleasant, business requiring immediate attention.

"Ahem," Archer said, taking command of the situation. He felt feverish and the intense pain emanating from the wound on his butt was becoming unbearable. He knew it was time for action. "I think, Malcolm, you're going to be *very* busy with me for a long while. Trip, take that box out of here. Have Travis set a return course to Orkin. Have Hoshi contact the Orkins to let them know we have one of their Mortons and are bringing it back." Archer glanced at his lover still holding the container. "Say your goodbyes, Malcolm, it's time for Mortimer to return home." He looked over at the doctor and added, "Phlox, I'll need some lubricant, secure privacy, and your word of honor that my relationship with Malcolm goes no further than the four of us."

Both Tucker and Phlox agreed to the captain's orders. Tucker took the container from Reed and, holding it at arm's length away from his body, quickly left Sickbay. Phlox retrieved a fresh vial of lubricant from his supply cabinet and handed it to Archer. He checked the monitors to make sure that all were working properly, pulled the drape around the biobed, and turned out the overhead lights, leaving only soft background lighting. As he neared the exit, Phlox turned around and asked, "You don't suppose I could…?"

"No!" Archer and Reed replied in unison. "Goodnight, Phlox," Archer added. Reed quickly removed all his clothing, then peered out from the drape to make certain Phlox had left the room.

Reed shyly approached the biobed, his eyes trying to read Archer's emotions. He tenderly brushed the hair away from Archer's forehead and whispered, "Jon, I am so sorry for endangering you and Porthos." With a sad smile he looked over at the sleeping dog. "You mean the world to me, and I would never intentionally do anything to hurt either of you. Can you forgive me?" he asked, tremulously.

Archer took one of Reed's hands in his own and kissed it. "Trip's right," he murmured. "I can't stay mad at you for long. All is forgiven, my love." He pulled Reed close for a sweet kiss. "Come here, Malcolm, it's time for you to cure what ails me," Archer said huskily.

"Hmm," Reed murmured, climbing onto the biobed and snuggling close to his lover. "Too bad sex won't cure the common cold."

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