Space Cowboys 4:

Travelers' Trials

By Mell Eight

Eric relaxed under the sun, relishing the soft breeze that blew over his face. The sun and breeze were artificial, of course, but the Colony did know how to emulate it perfectly.

"There's still some strawberries left," Jim called from where he was investigating the dregs of their picnic basket. He sprawled next to Eric on the blanket and dropped the half empty carton on Eric's stomach.

"I'm not hungry right now, Jim," Eric said calmly, refusing to allow his partner's energy to ruin his lassitude.

Being shut in the bowels of the Colony, working on repairs and keeping the Colony safely in space, was the lifestyle both Eric and Jim preferred. Still, it was nice to have time above ground where they could enjoy the fruits of their efforts in peace. On days like today, when both Eric and Jim had a full day off, they liked to go to the park.

"I know you like strawberries, Eric," Jim grumbled. He sat up and fumbled open the carton. Eric rolled his eyes when a large, juicy berry was pushed against his lips, but opened his mouth to take a small bite anyway.

"See?" Jim said happily, his eyes darkening as he watched Eric's lips turn a wet red as the berry was pulled away. "It's yummy."

"Jim," Eric warned as he swallowed, already knowing where this was going. He was right, because a few seconds later his lips were being licked clean and the inside of his mouth plundered for any remaining taste.

Jim rumbled happily as he pulled away and Eric found the half-eaten berry pushed against his lips again. Jim gently rubbed the bitten area over Eric's lips, coating him with juice again, so Eric opened his mouth to bite away the offending berry.

Jim didn't wait until Eric swallowed this time, swooping in and stealing a taste of Eric's sticky lips while Eric was mid-chew. Eric swallowed quickly, hoping he didn't choke, and returned Jim's kiss with a sigh. Sometimes the only way to calm Jim down was to appease him until he was satisfied enough to wait until later for the conclusion to their fun.

After a few minutes, Eric was starting to worry that Jim would go too far. Jim's hand was creeping up Eric's shirt and the kissing had gone from playful to heavy. The strawberries lay forgotten off to the side of their blanket.

Luckily, Eric's phone rang before he had to force Jim away for decency's sake.

Jim sat back with a sigh and pouted as Eric pulled his phone out of his pocket to answer it.

"You two are in the park, right?" the captain's voice said as soon as Eric opened the phone connection.

"Yes," Eric replied, wondering why their captain was calling on their day off.

"I'm sorry for bothering you on your day off," the captain continued, "but we've just gotten a request from some lady for Authorities to head to the park. Apparently two men are 'engaged in obscene acts'," he snorted to let them know he was quoting whoever their caller was.

"And you want us to take care of it?" Eric asked with a wince.

The captain laughed. "I want you both to stop having sex in public."

Eric blushed and was glad his phone didn't have video capabilities. The captain wouldn't see how embarrassed he was, and he wouldn't see Eric murder Jim.

"We're just eating strawberries," Jim explained helpfully.

"Is that what they call it now?" the captain asked with a laugh. There was some warning in his voice. As their superior he did have to discipline them for doing something wrong, but mostly the captain was used to their antics and was willing to roll his eyes and ignore them. At least until Jim went too far.

"We still have all our clothes on," Jim grumbled. "If you tell me who the lady who called in was, we could give her a real show!"

The captain groaned. "Stop harassing the tourists. The Colony needs their money more than they need to see you both naked."

"I'd have those tourists dropping money at my feet in seconds," Jim scoffed. "Except," Jim added when he caught the glare Eric was giving him, "I'm in a relationship and can't do things like that anymore."

"I hope the glare Eric is giving you is a good one," the captain said with a laughing sigh. "Do me, and the tourists, a favor and go somewhere else for the rest of your day off."

The captain hung up and Eric put away his phone with a groan. Jim was bustling around, putting their picnic away.

"Where do you want to go?" Eric asked.

Jim just gave him a look full of heat and promise as he pointedly set the carton of strawberries on top of the closed basket.

"Right," Eric agreed. "We weren't finished eating dessert yet. Let's go home?"

They folded up their blanket together and strolled out of the park. On their way they passed a group of older women enjoying the flowers. One of the women turned to glare at Eric and Jim as they walked by. She gave them a sniff and a curled lip before turning back to their tour guide.

"What?" Jim called. "Did you want to eat some strawberries too?"

Eric was quick to pull his boyfriend out of the park before the old ladies formed a lynch mob.