"Let Not Your Heart Be Tribbled"

"What is it?" Methos drew back from the trilling pillow of fur sitting in Duncan's palm, the expression on his face a study in distaste.

Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod looked down at the creature with an almost beatific gaze. "It's a tribble."

"A what?" Joe Dawson asked, his nose wrinkling as if he smelled something particularly foul.

"A tribble," he said once more.

"We got that part," Methos said with a note of long suffering patience. "But what is it?"

He glanced up at his companions, finally noticing that they weren't quite as enraptured as he was. "It's…" He paused, searching for the words. Finally, with a look of triumph, he said, "It's the only love money can buy!"

Methos coughed in mid-swallow of the rather excellent Aldebaran ale that the bar here on Deep Space Station K-7 served. "Oh, I don't know. I think you could buy rather a lot of love from your friend over there." He nodded towards a gray skinned humanoid female – her metallic leotard revealing more skin than there was fabric -- who had been eyeing the Highlander with lascivious interest since they'd first sat down. Joe snorted, shaking his head.

The other man pouted. "Very funny."

"Oh, I thought so," Methos replied, grinning broadly.

He thrust the furry creature at Methos, who held up his hands as if warding off some threat. "Leave off, MacLeod!" he protested, looking at the tribble as if it was a naked blade at his throat.

"Just pet it," the other man insisted, his dark brown doe eyes pleading.

Shaking his head in disgust, Methos finally complied, reaching one finger tentatively towards the trilling ball of fur. As he touched it, the timbre of the trilling deepened. He pulled his hand back, looking at the creature suspiciously. "There, I touched it. Now make it go away," he commanded, grimacing.

"You can't tell me that you don't find it soothing," he protested, his expression one of hurt disbelief.

"Soothing? It sounds like a tiny phaser on overload, and it looks like a pile of dust that you pulled out from under your bed!"

"Dust bunny," Joe supplied helpfully.

"Yes! Dust bunny!" Methos nodded emphatically. "That… dust bunny, is the most annoying thing I've come across in several thousand years. Why, it's more annoying than that time in Sumaria when I…"

"I get the idea!" Duncan interrupted quickly, warding off yet another one of the ancient Immortal's stories of millennia past. "Well, I think it's lovely," he said softly. The trilling little alien creature he held in his hand once more had him entranced. The feeling seemed to be mutual as the purring sound that it made escalated.

His friends looked at each other, rolling their eyes.

"I thought it would be a nice present for Triona," Duncan explained absently, not really paying attention to them.

"You are not giving that thing to her!" Methos protested vehemently, sitting up straight in his chair.

"Not me!" He looked at Methos as if he were a little slow. "A present from you. You need to bring back something nice after a trip halfway across the galaxy to let her know you missed her. And she'd love this tribble, I know she would."

Raising his eyebrows, he took a sip of his ale before saying, "Believe me, Mac, she won't need any sort of gift for her to know I missed her."

This time it was Joe who choked on his Klingon Blood Wine. "You are one smug bastard, old man." Methos just smirked, taking another swallow of his ale.

"Oh come on! Joe," he turned his attention to the other man, "you can't tell me that you don't think it's perfect!"

Joe sighed. "It stinks, Mac," he pronounced.

"What?"

"I mean, it smells!"

"Smells?" The Highlander sniffed the tribble gingerly. "What are you talking about?"

"It's putrid!" he exclaimed. "This vampire nose knows a foul odor when he smells it – and believe me, Triona will not like it anymore than I do!"

Duncan's pout had turned into full-blown kicked puppy face. "It doesn't!"

Methos exhaled sharply. "If you want one so badly, then buy it!"

He looked at the other men defensively. "I don't want one! I just thought Triona would like it, that's all."

"What? Too macho to admit you want one for yourself?"

"Macho? Does anyone use that word in the twenty-third century?" Joe asked Methos shaking his head in amusement.

"Fine!" he snapped. "Then get it for Amanda!"

Duncan looked distressed. "I don't think that's such a good idea."

Joe nodded. "Yeah, I agree. Remember what happened when she brought home that Spotted Kervanan from Altos IV?"

"Oh! Right… well, maybe a pet for Amanda isn't such a great idea," Methos agreed, remembering. All three men looked at the tribble.

Duncan began to speak, but the arrival of a portly man at their table interrupted him. "Please excuse me, gentlemen, but I need my sample back!" he said in a sing song voice. "The lovely lady at the bar has expressed an interest, I'm sure you understand!" Quicker than the eye could follow, he plucked the tribble from Duncan's hand and headed back to the bar where a beautiful Starfleet officer stood. Mac's mouth hung open, watching as his tribble was handed to her.

Grinning, Joe looked at Duncan and Methos. "So I wonder if they still sell souvenir t-shirts in the gift shop this century?"

End