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Fred hadn’t seen the Doctor since settling into his new home, although he had been introduced to another man called Jim. They had very different scents and colourations though, so despite the similarities he found between these mobile humans, he knew he would not mistake them.

In point of fact, Fred had rather wondered at the other man’s absence. He would have thought they’d have started putting down roots together by now yet it seemed not to have happened.

From what he overheard, he gathered this was less a lack of desire but rather a need to conceal their attachment. He remembered their initial reluctance to admit their attraction and wondered if it was perhaps linked.

Clearly their attraction outweighed any cultural taboos though.

When the Doctor made his first appearance in Fred’s new home, he was shedding foliage fast.

Any concern Fred had dissipated quickly though as he recalled it to be regular event for the bipeds. They seemingly sloughed their leaves and gained new ones every night.

As he observed events from his secure shelf in the sleeping area, Fred wondered what species his hybrid was descended from?

Some form of mistletoe judging from the way he was penetrating the other male with his haustoria.

If Fred had expected that to be the start of a co-habitation though, he was disappointed. The Doctor – Leonard as Spock had called him last night – had left in the morning re-covered.

Spock had not seemingly asked him to stay.

Fred knew he wasn’t very well versed in matters of the heart but he did feel it should have been simple. Fall in love, stay together, shed some seeds.

Spock wasn’t at home that evening though so Fred could make no attempt to share his wisdom.

He was surprised the next morning when it wasn’t the hybrid who returned to his room, but Leonard. The man snuck in and gathered up sheaves of fresh leaves. Fred nodded his fronds knowingly.

They were still in hiding then.

He accepted their routine, willing to aide in their deception, despite not understanding the reasoning, because he was their friend. And he was loyal.

Every day the Doctor left after cleaning their mixed fragrance from him.

Every evening he returned and set to work mingling their scents again.

Fred felt his tender heart ache for them. Why were they not able to remain together unashamedly? What was preventing them from joining in true symbiosis?

He was distracted from this conundrum one day by the arrival of a new scent in the air. A cool camphoraceous smell. It was similar to Leonard’s own perfume but not the same.

Then he noticed her.

Sat across the quarters, in the other room, was a most curvaceous beauty. All soft green edges and sprawling stems.

Fred found his attention riveted but he was too far to attempt to engage the vision of loveliness and wouldn’t know what to say if he could.

Admittedly he forgot Spock and Leonard’s woes in the light of his own burning heartache.

Why could he only ever catch a whiff of her scent? He wished to be enveloped in it. He wanted to lay his fronds tenderly about her and hold her close.

She, however, never seemed to notice him at all.

When Leonard came into the room he watched as she flushed and smartened. The Doctor would often stroke his fingers over her in an affectionate gesture that she’d usually reward with a gift of a few leaves for him to enjoy.

While Fred knew the Doctor was committed to Spock, it still hurt him to see her affections so willingly given elsewhere while he pined alone.

Several things came to a head one day when the other human, Jim, arrived unannounced in the quarters.

Only Spock was there but Fred saw the man’s quick eyes dart about, resting on various items that had migrated with Leonard, including the fragrant plant.

“Isn’t that Minthe?” he asked with a grin. “How long have you and the Doctor been bunking up together?”

Fred noted the secret was out, but he was distracted because now he knew her name.

Minthe! Soft and sensuous as she!

Jim however wasn’t done.

“Why’s Fred all alone in there when there’s such a pretty companion for him in here?”

So saying, Fred was carried out and across to the enchantress upon the desk. He felt his fronds curl as he was put down finally within reach.

“There! Much better,” Jim declared.

Fred hardly knew what to do. He held himself still basking in her nearness. As the bipeds left he hoped she might turn her attention to him.

He waited and hoped however she resolutely kept her stems upstretched, away from him.

But Fred was awash in her intoxicating scent. It made him rash. His fronds extended to drape across her pot curling slightly around her stem.

“What in the hell!”

Minthe impossibly stretched her leaves further and suddenly she was gone from Fred’s side, cradled high up in Leonard’s arms.

“What is Fred doing to Minthe?”

“He is doing nothing to her Leonard. The captain thought they’d prefer each others’ company.”

“Well she doesn’t!”

Spock picked up Fred, his fronds trailing forlornly.

“I shall ensure he does not disturb her,” he sighed.

Fred stole one last look at his beloved as he was carried away. Leonard was murmuring softly to her and she was pressed against him.

She did however leave one branch waving gently in his direction, her scent floating enticingly.