(You Scratch My Back, I'll Scratch Yours! Part 4)

       Zev's hiss had also captured all of Kai's attention. He was at her side in an instant and made a motion for Stan to stop, then, with a fast tug, pulled up the back of her dress. Both of the men stared for a moment in silence at the deeply colored, velvety growth that radiated from between Zev's shoulder blades up under her upper restraint harness and down to the dimpled hollow around her lower spine.
       "eeeewww..." Stan wrinkled his nose with disgust and wiped his fingers hard against the legs of his coveralls as he took a big step away from Zev and the nasty thing on her back.
       "Scratch!!!" Zev half screamed, half hissed as she raked at the fungus with her nails.
       "um...no..." Stan answered with a wary glare at the ugly stuff that had the gall to mar the perfection of Zev's skin.
       "Stanley, get the topical antithetic out of the first aid kit," Kai ordered, for the young woman was starting to do physical damage to herself. He let Zev's dress drop for the moment to put something between her skin and nails, and stepped in front of her. "Give me your hands, Zev."
       Zev shook her head 'no' at him and continued to scratch as Stan muttered, "Right. Topical antithetic...topical antithetic..." in the background as he knelt next to the kit and started to paw through the various small tubes and canisters.
       Kai heard The Lexx inform Stan that he was getting very, very itchy and didn't pay much attention to Stan's stream of reassurances that they were working on the problem. He had a different set of priorities, and they all had to do with the beautiful young woman before him.
       "Zev, give me your hands," Kai asked again, and held out his own.
       Zev managed to focus on the Brunnen-G and saw the deep concern for her that glowed in the depths of his eyes. She chewed on her lower lip for a moment, then with a supreme effort of will, placed her hands into his. Kai's cool fingers closed firmly around her own, then guided them up to rest on his chest. Zev twisted her fingers into the black fabric that formed the mockery of his original flight-suit, and rested her forehead over the place where his heart should have been as she felt him cross his arms over her shoulders and pull her in tight against him, trapping her in a hug. She worked very hard on trying to enjoy being hugged by Kai, even under such strange circumstances, and ignoring the itch.
       "Stanley," Kai's tone warned his companion that he needed to hurry up as he started to work Zev's dress back up with the tips of his fingers.
       "I'm looking! You're sure there is some in here?" Stan snapped back.
       "It is a standard issue item for first aid kits. It should be in there, unless you have removed it," Kai informed him and held onto Zev tighter as she started to bounce on her toes. Behind him he began to hear "nope...nope...nope...", each negative accompanied by a few bouncing clunks as Stan tossed the wrong items out of the kit. Zev started to hiss again.
       "Let go, Kai! I can't stand it!" she snarled.
       He widened his stance for better balance and barely managed to keep her contained as she started to struggle. Zev emitted a pure lizard scream of frustration and bit into the fabric over his left pectoral.
       "Stanley..." Kai said with a hint of impatience as he tucked his chin and watched Zev work on chewing a hole into him with a detached curiosity. Behind him Stanley gave an exuberant yell.
       "Found it!" Stan wore a huge grin as he hurried around them to face Zev's back. It faded into shock and he froze for a moment as he saw the wound Zev was in the process of inflicting on the Brunnen-G.
       "Stanley!" This time there was definite impatience in Kai's tone.
       "Sorry..." Stan aimed the cylinder and pushed the little raised bump that activated the unit. He made very sure that the fine mist covered every inch of Zev's back and softly echoed her sigh of relief as she went semi-limp against the Brunnen-G's body.
       For an instant, Zev just floated in the pure bliss of simply having no feeling what-so-ever in her back and the strong support of Kai's arms. Then reality intruded, as it always did. She turned her head and began to try to summon enough moisture into her suddenly dry mouth to spit against the bitterness and accompanying oily sensation that coated her tongue.
       "Yuck! You taste terrible!" she informed Kai, her expression filled with surprised disgust. Her features rapidly shifted into shocked chagrin and concern as the Brunnen-G loosened his hold on her and she could step back enough to really see the damage she had done to him. Her fingers moved to hover with distressed uncertainty near the deep, ragged-edged gouge. "I'm sorry! I didn't mean..."
       "It is nothing," Kai interrupted with a gentle voice as he moved his hands to rest on her shoulders. "See?" he added and a cynical quirk twisted his lips as the wound began to sparkle red and healed itself with a rush of light. The self-repairing fabric of his uniform spun itself out to cover the new, unmarked skin a fraction an instant later. He watched Zev place her fingers on the place and could tell that she was still upset that she had harmed him. He was hunting for the correct words to ease her concern when Stan thankfully provided a distraction.
       "How much more of this stuff do we have on board?" Stan had wondered out loud as he stared at the canister in his hand and possible solution for The Lexx's problem clicked into place.
       "Not enough. We would need 69.7 liters of the topical medicinal to treat the afflicted sections of The Lexx, and there is a high probability that this substance would not interact in any helpful way with his bio-chemistry, even if we had enough," 790 answered.
       Stan seemed to deflate, though Zev slid out from under Kai's hands, a look of extreme concentration casting her delicate features into elfin sharpness as she snatched the canister out of Stan's hand on her way to examine the other first aid kit supplies.
       "What?" Stan demanded as he trailed her. Kai simply stood his ground and waited patiently for the results of Zev's brainstorm.
       "Stan, ask Lexx if there is a first aid kit for him."
       Stan blinked, dumbfounded. That something so obvious had escaped him was ego-crushing. Determined to make up for such a stupid oversight, he took a long moment to make sure he formed his coming request in such a way that The Lexx would understand exactly what he was asking.
       "Lexx, are there medical supplies on board to treat your unique bio-chemistry?"
       "Yes, Stan."
       "Yes!" Stan jumped up and down a few times with self-satisfied exuberance and made a victory gesture. He rapidly became subdued as he caught sight of the quelling stares radiating from both of his crewmates. "Show us where those supplies are on your schematic, please," he added with wounded dignity.
       "Yes, Stan." The schematic came back onto the view screen with a small blinking yellow light highlighting an undiscovered room lodged in the farthest tail section of The Lexx.
       "We'll have to take a Moth," Zev told her crewmates as she headed to collect 790 from his stand. "Good work, Stan!" she added with a stunning smile.
       Stan smirked sideways at the dead Brunnen-G as Kai caught up to him with his longer, slinking stride, for Zev's 'real' smiles were rare things and not offered often. That this one had been his and not Kai's delighted him no end! Kai simply ignored the smirk and the man, and continued on his way to join Zev.

(To be continued...)

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