original story by C Petterson and S Sizemore
rewritten by Cheryl Petterson

(Standard Year 2247)

Go to Part Two

Return to Valjiir Stories

Return to Valjiir Continum


There was no alarm set, no call to duty. In fact, shore leave was just beginning. But Sulu woke early nonetheless. It was the scent that took him from dreamless insentience; fresh, slightly bittersweet, lingering on his pillow. He reached for the silver silk and burgundy richness he knew it came from and came fully awake with the realization that it was no longer there. His fingers touched only the bed-sheets and blankets, still warm from the body that had lain close to him all night – the body that had stayed separated from him by those sheets and blankets. It wasn’t worth realizing that he had a painful erection. Several deep breaths calmed it but not him and he called her name.


No answer came to him and he got up. She wasn’t in the living area, nor in the shared bathroom where Dr. M’Benga stood shaving. She couldn’t’ve left that long ago, the bed’s still warm, he thought. Closing his eyes, he sighed and went to the desk com, calling her quarters.

“Valley,” came mumbled irritation.

“Sorry to wake you, Spike,” he said. “Is Jilla…?” He heard the hiss of the door from the com, and Ruth’s voice said, “Majiir, why leave if he’s gonna call right away?” Then Jilla’s voice came, softly, hesitantly.


“Hon, why’d you leave?”

There was a pause, and her answer was strained. “I – have much to do…”

“On leave?” he asked, knowing already it was futile.

“There are journals I have been neglecting.”

He swore under his breath. “Honey, I thought we could go down to Naois, do some shopping, maybe go dancing…”

“I think it is best I spend some time alone.”

“On leave?” he repeated. “Jilla…”

“Please, Sulu?” There was a pleading tone to what she didn’t say and he took a deep breath, swallowing the sharp disappointment.

“Sure, hon,” he capitulated. “I understand. I’ll see you – dinner maybe, or tomorrow…” He could almost feel the tension through the com, and interrupted himself. “When?” he asked.

“You must not worry about me,” she returned. “I will be occupied…”

“After leave, then,” he broke in. “If you need – want – hell!” He stopped talking. There was another long pause.

“Enjoy your leave, Sulu,” Jilla murmured.

He could imagine the double pull on her. He bit his tongue and mentally backed down. “I’ll try, honey. Don’t you worry about me either, okay?” He tried to make his voice sound light, and heard the relief in her answer.

“Thank you.”

He started to say ‘I love you’ but stopped it and simply closed the connection.


Why couldn’t she tell me before she left? Why leave without a word, without so much as a ‘good morning’? I was the perfect gentleman! Don’t I deserve at least some semblance of social pretense?

She doesn’t do social pretense. She’s Indiian.

How about common courtesy, then? One doesn’t just leave without so much as a note or…

You know why she had to do it this way. You would’ve talked her into staying without saying a word. She’s Indiian. One feel of your tia and…

Yeah, all right, I know.

She can’t think straight around you. Your emotions…

I said I know!

It’s a compliment, really.

Sulu paced the room irritably, his head pounding, his blood like pulsing fire in his veins.

God damn it to every hell, I don’t want her to think straight! I want her to let my emotions wash over her – to let her emotions wash over her and just give in! I want her to let it take her – I want her to let me take her – I just want her! She’s been so close to surrender…

They had spent three days – three nights in his cabin together. After the scare with Crawford’s implants, neither one of them wanted to sleep alone. At first, Sulu had tried sleeping in the other room, but that first night, Jilla had had a nightmare. It wasn’t the fatal kind, and she refused to tell him what it was about, but after that, he sat up in bed and let her sleep resting against him. The morning had been a little awkward, but he had determinedly filled the day with nonchalant, easy routine. The second night he tried sleeping in a chair beside the bed and he woke screaming – and Jilla had pulled him into an embrace of comfort. That morning was easier, his genuine gratitude filling her with pleasure and warm joy as he made her breakfast. So the third night – last night – they’d shared the bed, both fully clothed, with the careful placement of sheets and blankets between them.

That’s why she left, he mused angrily. One more morning of sweet domesticity and she would’ve moved the damned sheet. God, Buddha, why did we do this? All I wanted was to keep the fear away. Who’d ever believe that Sulu Takeda would sleep with a woman and just sleep? She’s so beautiful, so arousing, so tempting… it felt so right to have her next to me. Damn it all, I love her! I want her, I need her… I’ve needed her for so damned long…

There really isn’t any hope, is there? She won’t tell you to stop – but she’s never gonna welcome you, either. Not when she pulls away from you like this.

I could almost taste it. What heaven that would’ve been… to wake beside her, pull her into my arms, hold her… love her…

Dreams. Fantasies. No more real than Drake and Good Queen Bess. And I’ve got no other reality to hold on to.

The despairing melancholy swept over him and he threw himself face down on the bed. He buried his face in her scent - and the memory of what might have been if only she hadn’t woke before him.


Sulu's mood was black and he couldn’t bear the bright colors of the Gardens. He couldn’t bear the light and noise of the shops, the streets, the usual places that catered to Fleet personnel. He didn’t care to run into people he knew, people who would ask where Jilla was, or make sly references to the past three nights, or attempt to get locker-room details of something he hadn’t done and wouldn’t admit to. He needed something to stop the ache, somewhere to hide the desolation. Someplace dark and heavy with thwarted desires, ruined lives, furtive passion. Someplace with drugs and sex and hard fucking-music. Someplace to get lost for four days – four nights.

Ex-needle racers had a sixth sense for Haven drugs. He found himself at a bar called Black Crescent, bartered a quick hit of jet for later, when he’d want to black out, and found himself a seat at the bar proper. The lights were almost non-existent, giving off splashes of color but very little illumination. There was a band and a dance floor with speakers that thundered out desperation and mocking invitation. The pimps were obvious, as were the whores and the dealers, the addicts – and the freaks. Any kind of kick would be found here as easily as uniforms on a starship. He ordered himself some good, expensive saké and told the bartender to keep it coming.


Ruth Valley approached her superior, Commander Spock, just as the beamdown schedule for Naois was announced. “Planning on taking any leave time?” she asked cheerfully. “You’re overdue, you know.”

His fingers stopped dancing across the computer console as he straightened in his chair to look at her. “I have much to do, Miss Valley,” he informed her, but his attitude seemed slightly less rigid than usual.

“But you might be persuaded?” she coaxed. “There’s a very famous botanical garden I’m sure you’d be interested in…”

“I have already visited Naois’ botanical gardens,” he interrupted. “Twice.”

“Good, I could use a guide.” She smiled enticingly. “And there’s an Alterra physics high gravity station in this system, or if you prefer, there’s also a Minstrel’s Guildhall on Naois so there’s sure to be an Evening Song. If you brought your lyrette…” Spock sighed. Ruth sighed back at him. “Honestly, Boss, you need the relaxation.”

“Vulcans do not…” he began.

“Minneapolis,” she countered before he could get started. “I thought we’d agreed not to pull the Vulcan/Antari bit on each other. Hybrids know better than that.”

“I do not recall making any agreement of any sort with you, Miss Valley,” he replied mildly.

Ruth took a deep breath, refusing to get angry. She’d known this was going to be difficult, if not downright impossible. Hey, Boss, how about a date? We’ve both been a bit tense since Crawford’s little game, how about we try to forget the good old Enterprise for a while? Are these same bulkheads and faces so fascinating – you should excuse the expression – that you want to stay hiding in them forever? There’s a whole great big universe out there and it doesn’t have to be seen from behind a tricorder. If you’d only let me in, I could…

Excuse me, if I wanted a Majiir routine…

And she’s spending her leave time hiding behind a technical journal.

Ruth rubbed lightly at her temples, forcing her mind back to the conversation. “Just a few hours, Mr. Spock? It would do us both some good.”

“I have work to do,” the Vulcan replied again.

Ruth grit her teeth. “Nothing pressing,” she said. “I even stayed up late assembling the data on Shas for next week’s briefing. None of your personal research projects are at critical stages. And Ensign Ordona has graciously offered to take over the botany tests you were planning on doing yourself.” Something else I was up late arranging. “So, you see, you really have no excuse not to come with me.” But you’ll find one.

“Your attention to duty then leaves me free to pursue my function as First Officer,” he returned. “Most commendable, Miss Valley. Now if you will allow me the time to continue with my duties….” He raised an eyebrow in suggestion, then turned back to his board.

I knew it! “You’re welcome,” she grumbled sourly. “Why don’t you put me in for a raise?”

“Dismissed,” Spock said distractedly. “Enjoy your leave, Miss Valley.”

“Oh I fully intend to, Mr. Spock,” she rejoined sarcastically, and left his office quickly, before the urge to beg him overcame her.


Ruth stalked into her quarters a few minutes later, hoping that Jilla would for once ignore the emotions that were boiling from her, since she fully intended to ignore any enquiry from her Indiian friend. She was already pulling clothes from the closet when she heard a tentative, disturbed, “Ruth?”

She kept her back to Jilla as she pulled off her uniform and pulled on a gold brocade halter and very short skirt. She was slipping her feet into copper-colored, high-heeled sandals as she said, “I’ll be planetside for a few days.” She bent to fasten the straps around her ankles. “Have you seen my greenwood box anywhere?”

“On the shelf above your bed,” Jilla answered. Her voice was cold, which Ruth hoped meant she was too annoyed to insist on explanations. She turned and went to her bed, taking the small box from the shelf over the head. Inside were a few small pieces of jewelry, a scrap of old paper with something written on it in French, and three bright red gelatinous capsules. Closing her eyes, she took the capsules, closed the box, then began looking around for something to carry the capsules in. One for me, she thought, and one for some lucky anonymous gentleman, and one for…

“Who has hurt you so badly?” Jilla’s voice interrupted her mental ramblings.

Ruth laughed the question away, stumbling a bit as she moved around in the unfamiliar shoes. “Haven’t worn these things in years,” she remarked conversationally. “I must be six foot perched on them. I wonder why I kept them?” She knew she sounded inane, but kept speaking anyway. “Come to think of it, he was Indiian. His name was Terry.”

As expected, Jilla dismissed the verbal camouflage. “'Terry’ is not an Indiian name and who has hurt you so badly?”

“He was a needle racer,” Ruth continued, almost convincing herself that she was caught up in the memory. “He gave me these things because he wanted to go dancing and didn’t want me dancing barefoot and I almost broke my ankles a few times but it didn’t take me long to get the hang of it so I shouldn’t think it’ll be too hard to get used to them all over again...”

“If you do not wish to tell me, I would prefer you take your obviously disturbed state elsewhere,” Jilla broke in.

“You have work to do,” Ruth clipped off in Spock’s precise tone. She finally faced her roommate, showing all her teeth. “See ya. Enjoy your hidi-- running awa-- solitude.”


The first thing Noel DelMonde did when the Hood confirmed orbit was to get a personal channel to the Enterprise. He hadn’t been able to believe his good fortune. It had been a year and a half since he’d seen one particular crewmember, and he only prayed she had leave too.

He was cleared for transfer by the Captain himself, and the Chief Engineer gave him permission to come aboard. If he’d been going to see anyone else, he would have fawned properly over James Kirk and Montgomery Scott, but as it was, he was already feeling the effects of the millions of minds in the busy spaceport on Naois. Personnel told him where she was quartered and he strode through the decks of the heavy cruiser with hurried anticipation.

He reached Deck Four, the proper door, and signaled. It slid open and he stared in sudden, captivated surprise. An Indiian stood in front of him, an innocent beauty with full, sensual lips, softly questioning eyes and a voluptuous, curvaceous body. Caught off guard, he watched with a kind of heady fascination as she absorbed his always-on-the-edge control and the emotions that seethed just beneath the surface of his thoughts. The pressure lessened. It wasn’t the safe haven of Ruth’s strong, talented mind, but though the weight of his imperfectly shielded telepathy and empathy remained, it seemed easier to bear. He took a deep breath and smiled down at her.

“I lookin’ fo’ Ruth,” he said. “I have the right cabin, non?” He pronounced the Antari name as he always had – raw-eth.

“Yes,” the Indiian replied. Her voice was soft and the sound sent streams of soothing coolness into his mind. She seemed completely unperturbed by his unusual, although correct pronunciation.

“Ah, you be Jilla then,” he returned. “Ruth talk 'bout you.”

The Indiian flushed. “I am sorry, Lieutenant, but Ruth has gone planetside on shore leave.” Disappointment touched him briefly and was mirrored in her eyes – but instead of leaving a sharp scar, it faded from him as it faded from her.

He blinked. “You know where?” he asked.

“No, I am sorry,” she returned. “I do not know if she will be returning before the end of leave, but I can take a message for her if you wish.”

“I be much obliged, then,” he said. "If you would tell her Del’s here." He smiled. “Noel DelMonde.”

Her grey eyes widened, and he could feel her reaction. Ruth be tellin’ tales I t’ink, he thought, but it was more amusement than annoyance.

“Of course, Mr. DelMonde,” she said.

Something in her made him pause, then ask, “You not takin’ leave, Mrs. Majiir?”

“I am on leave now, Lieutenant,” she answered. “I have many technical journals which I have been neglecting.”

It wasn’t a lie, not exactly, but Del was well aware there was more to her response than she had said. And that she wouldn’t appreciate having it commented on by a stranger, regardless of how empathic he was. Instead, he took the safer, engineer’s route. “I can unnerstan’ that, cher,” he grinned.

“’Cher’?” she repeated quizzically.

He shook his head. “Habit,” he explained. “It a cultural endearment, it jus’ mean ‘dear one.’” He paused. "I from New Orleans," he added, as if that would explain anything to an Indiian.

Her head tilted. “And I am dear to you?” she said, her tone conveying puzzled confusion and a touch of unease.

He sent all the contriteness he could, realizing that he had inadvertently poured salt onto some fresh wound within her. “Forgive me, Mrs. Majiir,” he murmured.

“Of course,” she replied. Her response held no hint of the emotional turmoil within her. The pressure started to rebuild within him.

Go find Ruth, he told himself. He held out a hand. “It a pleasure to meet you, Ensign,” he said

She took it gingerly, though her grip was far stronger than such reticence would’ve led him to expect. “And you, Lieutenant.”

The door closed between them, and Del turned, wondering what he had done to cause the pretty Indiian so much distress.


Jilla stood in the center of the room, clutching at her arms, trying desperately to regain her shattered calm. She had found a dull solace in the technicalities of her engineering journals, but now…

Noel DelMonde. Ruth had spoken of him. She had tried to describe both his attractiveness and his disagreeableness, his foul temper and the reason for it. Her words had not captured the intensity that poured from him – nor the mesmerizing effect his emotions would have on her tia. That intensity, his casual, immediate endearment, his automatic concern for her… all aroused within her the very feelings she was trying to forget.

She closed her eyes tightly as a sob escaped her. Aema, what am I doing? The thoughts ran around each other in her mind, painful, lonely, confused, longing… Why did I turn from Sulu? He loves me, I feel it from him as clearly as I did from…

And is that not the reason, telmnor?

Aema, have mercy, I love him! I need him, I want…

The bond, the seal, the vow, forever…

… to have him hold me, to warm my emptiness… I am so alone!

As it must be.

Why do I keep myself from him, why do I drive him away?!

Damnation, telmnor, what are you saying?!

But I am. It is too late, I am damned, it is done! Why do I torment him? Why do I torment myself?

Because you would have to accept it. You have a convenient excuse now – The Time, it was not your fault, you could not stop it nor Spock’s reactions, it was not your choice. You’ve always been good at avoiding uncomfortable truths: you could not be proper wife to Selar and you forced him to alter you because you couldn’t face your failure. You married him in the first place because you could not face an emotional defeat. You hide behind a screen of devoted, martyred wife, lovestruck, naďve virgin…

NO! It was not, is not like that! I am afraid, goddess, that is all! I am afraid

Of being what you are.

YES! Aema, help me…!

She collapsed at the side of her bed, hid her face in her arms, and wept.


There were no pressing executive duties other than the confirmation of leave schedules. Spock left his office, going to his cabin. He half-expected Ruth to be waiting to make another attempt at convincing him to take leave. When the corridor was empty, he realized it had also been half-hope. Would you have relented? he asked himself as the door closed behind him.

He gazed around the room. It was spartan, efficient – but for the glowing shrine and the traditional display of Vulcan weaponry. It was important that a Vulcan away from home should always carry reminders of a past long conquered, lest the temptations of other cultures lead to…


And is not temptation a Human thing?

He turned abruptly to the computer, away from all but his work. He addressed it in tones stern and logical and unyielding.

It betrayed him. A Terran mystery was brought up on the screen, one he had been re-reading and commenting on in preparation for handing it to Ruth; Sherlock Holmes, a Human capable of logic.


He snapped off the viewer, erasing the echo in his mind. Meditation, he told himself, is what is needed. He crossed to the bed, lying down, his fingers coming up to suddenly, annoyingly throbbing temples. As he soothed the pain, he realized the significance of the gesture: Ruth’s action when worried or troubled or hurt –


He got up, relenting with the bitter understanding of what he had done. He called her cabin, only to be informed by Jilla that she had already left. He used it to deny the moment of weakness – had she really wanted his company, she would not have left the ship so quickly – and determinedly went back to meditation. Calm. Control. Logic. And her beauty will leave me in peace.


Ruth prowled the wide streets, hating every uniform she passed, galled by all the evidence of a culture that catered to the tastes of Fleet personnel. Regimented, circumscribed, labeled… this is the life I’ve given myself to! Didn’t blue, red and gold used to mean something other than Sciences, Engineering and Command? The same faces, day after day, the same corridors, the same bulkheads, the same words repeated over and over until they’re meaningless.… “yes, sir” “status” “report” “no, sir”… the same games to relieve the boredom until they’re more boring than duty… the same bodies in my bed, damn near interchangeable and none of them the one I want… so damned frustrating, so ugly, so lonely… I just want – hell, I don’t know what I want!


Shut up! I want... I don't know, just not Fleet, not now…

Because Fleet reminds you of…

Shut up! Something…


Shut up! …else. I want out, I want to..

Give up?

All right, yes! It’s always one step forward and two back and I don’t need the aggravation!

With a sudden flash of hungry anticipation she remembered what she’d placed in her small leather belt pouch. Venus. Real Haven venus, not the weak Terran imitation that went by the same name. Very clever chemists, Havens. The cleverest in the galaxy when they can make an aphrodisiac that affects a keheil. I bet this stuff makes pon farr look like a walk in the park.

Pon farr. Care for a hit, Mr. Spock? Care for my soul? It’s yours for the asking…

Shut up! That’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever said. Thought.

Thought. He’s the only other telepath on the ship, the only other hybrid – he won’t even let me be his friend! Jilla, Bwana, Bones – they all can have little parts of him, but not Ruth Maxwell Valley. He backs away, turns away, every time. But only after he’s tantalized me with a hint of what could be.

Her thoughts turned unbidden to too-recent memories, Spock’s mind and voice, parts she’d been meant to hear – and parts she hadn’t: Golden beauty. Golden one. Her face, her eyes, the lovely velvet amethyst that… Iocasta! “You must become more literate, Miss Valley.” “Are you strong enough?” “I will expand the scope of your studies as you complete each stage.”

Zehara damn him! Which one of us is he trying to prove he doesn’t have emotions to?! Is he using me to test his great Vulcan composure and reserve? Thanks just the same, Boss, maybe I should be flattered but I’m not interested in getting screwed like that.

So what are you interested in?

I don’t know. I just want.

Find somebody, any body, nameless and easily abandoned and forget it all. Just like the good old days.

A litany of names from what seemed like a lifetime ago began racing through her mind; Barak, Cobra, Missionary, Speedtrap, Darning, Broomstick – Katana. Find them, or ones like them. Naois may be a Fleet trap, but it’s got to have its underbelly. All ports do. If anyone can find it, Spike….

She walked away from the lights until she spotted a couple, a Free Sailor in gold body paint and green feathered headdress, a Haven in dark leather, walking arm in arm, amberglow shining from both their eyes. That’s more like it, she thought, and followed them to a bar called Black Crescent.


Sulu almost groaned when he caught sight of Ruth, certain for one agonizing moment that she’d come to try and apologize – or worse, explain – on Jilla’s behalf. Then he saw what she was wearing. A skirt, not shorts, and the uncharacteristic copper-colored shoes he’d only seen once before. Her hair was loose and she had with her the pouch he’d also seen only once before – when they’d spent the last carefree leave of his life together, a week on venus, joyously fucking like the universe was about to end with no thought for the inevitable crash because a keheil could take them both back down easy. And a month later, Jilla had signed on board…

Jilla. Damn it!

He closed his eyes against the memory, his body responding to it by increasing his already painful arousal. He poured another cup of the saké by feel, quickly downing it. When he again opened his eyes, Ruth’s fingers were drumming on the bar in front of him, her voice unusually soft.

Ycasan,” was all she said.


Ruth didn’t have to wait for her vision to adjust to the darkness before she began searching for a suitable male body. Her night vision was better than a Human’s, and her hunt had a telepathic edge to it. It searched for hunger, for need, for a desire as dark as her own – and found it. At the bar, a red tunic, deep red, blood red, strong shoulders, thin waist enhanced by a close-fitting band of gold, muscled arms unhidden by the full-length sleeves, dark, silky hair… He turned, as if aware of her devouring gaze.

Roy? Not Roy! Damn it, goddamn it!! She saw the flash of his eyes as he recognized her. Shit! Nothing to do now but go on over, hi, Roy, you on the prowl too? Can’t blame you after the stunt Majiir pulled... Fuck, why did it have to be him?

She strode up to the bar, then saw he wasn’t looking at her. His eyes were closed, his face set in a despair as great as her own and she felt guilty for her reaction. We’re both looking for something, she thought sadly, and neither one of us can find it anywhere but back on the Enterprise. And it isn’t even there.

Her fingers began to drum nervously on the bar as she ordered a glass of Antari wine. A small, dark capsule rested next to Sulu’s flask of saké and she recognized it. Jet. He was planning on checking out for a while. Not that I blame you, but… Roy, why does it have to hurt so bad? And you’re not exactly dressed for crashing… She tried not to take stock of him, but was finding it impossible. The black slacks he wore were skin-tight, leather boots coming up just over his knees. That he was powerfully aroused was compellingly obvious. She noted the five strands of gold chain fastened tightly around his wrist, saw the matching strands against the smooth skin of his chest. I haven’t seen those since… her thoughts began, and she stopped them. She didn’t need to remember how good he was, the ecstasy he gave her, the abandon with which they used to give to each other…

The band began another number, full of heavy bass and driving rhythm, dark and sensual and Dionysian. She sat, her breath caught in her lungs, unmoving – waiting, though she didn’t know for what. She could feel the same tense expectancy from Sulu. Her heart pounded in time with the music, her blood rushing heat through her. The venus in her pouch called to her, Sulu called to her…

And she was abruptly jerked off the bar stool and pulled onto the dance floor. Sulu’s arms came around her, urging her to move with the music and with him.


The crowd on the dance floor began to fall away from the fierce, carnal seduction developing at its center. The man and woman, an Asian Terran and an Antari, were oblivious to all but each other and the music and the passion they were building. Golden hair whipped around as the man’s powerful arms twirled the woman with sensual skill. Her huge purple eyes were closed in heady pleasure as his strong hands caressed her long waist and jutting breasts. The woman’s head fell back, the man leaning in close to devour her delicate throat with lustful desire. Their hips ground together in wicked invitation, the hunger between them sultry and gluttonous. Gradually, all other movement stopped. Erotic fire flared, the two feeding it, the audience catching it. Already, other couples were beginning to lose themselves in shared caresses and deep, ravenous kisses. The music got louder, the air almost steamed with the fiery emotion. Even the servers seemed caught in the hedonistic spell of wanton, desperate need. No one saw the two men who pushed their way into the bar and stood staring at the dancers.


Go to Part Two

Return to Valjiir Stories

Return to Valjiir Continum