(Standard Year 2247)

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"Who is gonna make it?
We’ll find out in the long run.
I know we can take it
If our love is a strong one.”
- Don Henly
- Glenn Frey
- The Eagles

To hear the original song, click here

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Jim Kirk announced to his crew, “due to circumstances beyond my control, our last shore leave was interrupted.” He spared a moment to glance toward the Computer Station, where the Assistant Science Officer was doing her best to be inconspicuous. “However, since we had to put in for repairs at Starbase Four, I am authorizing a four-day leave for all personnel. This one, I trust, won’t be cut short. Enjoy yourselves. Kirk out.”

He clicked off the com and settled back in his chair, daring Lieutenant Valley to cause any trouble at a Federation Starbase. As he began contemplating his own leave, he heard a soft, “Captain?”

He sighed and looked up to meet rather wistful violet eyes. Sighing again, he said, “Yes, Miss Valley?”

“When you said all personnel…” she began, “…well, it really wasn’t my fault, or Jilla’s but I don’t suppose we’re included since we… but we don’t remember being kidnapped, sir.”

“I meant all personnel, Miss Valley,” he assured her, “including you and Ensign Majiir.” And the sooner you begin your leave, the happier I’ll be.

Her smile was dazzling. “Thank you, sir.” She immediately rushed to the Engineering Station. “Come on, Jilla,”

Kirk heard Ensign Majiir's patient voice as Valley led her to the turbolift. “We are only now off duty, Ruth. And I am hungry.”

“All right, so we’ll get some coffee and then go conquer the – “ Ruth glanced back at Kirk. “ – or something.”

Just as long as you don’t get into any trouble, Kirk thought almost affectionately as the turbolift doors wooshed closed behind them.


At the helm, Sulu glanced at Kevin Riley, who was chuckling over Ruth’s performance.

“Isn’t she ever something,” Kevin said enthusiastically.

“Ever,” Sulu agreed easily. “But what?” It got an appreciative snort from the con, and Kevin looked astonished.

“Gone sour on gold, have ya?” he asked incredulously.

“No,” Sulu replied with a wistful smile. “Just sweet on silver.”

“Ahh,” Kevin responded knowingly.

“Gentlemen,” Kirk’s voice broke in, “you are dismissed, you know.” He paused, then added, “and they went to the mess.”

Both Sulu and Riley turned and grinned at the Captain, who inclined his head toward the turbolift and winked.


When Ruth stopped at the replicator only long enough to say, “Two coffees, hot, black,” Jilla frowned. “I am hungry, Ruth,” she repeated.

“No time,” Ruth responded, picking up the cups and heading toward an empty mess table. “We’ve got to plan our leave.”

“I was under the impression that leaves were meant for spontaneous relaxation,” Jilla returned, taking a seat. When Ruth was determined, there was little logic in resistance.

Ruth stared at her, her expression dubious. “Where ever did you hear that”? she asked.

“Forgive my ignorance,” Jilla murmured, and left it for Ruth to decide whether or not her contrition was genuine.

Ruth stared a moment longer, then scowled, pushing the coffee cup forward. “Drink it,” she said. “It’s good for you.”

Jilla sighed. “It tastes awful,” she commented.

Ruth’s features took on an expression of offense. “It does not!”

“It does,” Jilla reaffirmed.

“It’s necessary for life as we know it,” Ruth insisted.

“I live, Ruth.”

“You exist, Jilla.”

“An accurate, if somewhat sterile assessment, Miss Valley.”

Both women looked up at Spock’s voice. Dr. McCoy stood beside the First Officer, smiling at Ruth.

“Still pushin' that foul brew, are you, Ruthie?” he asked. She nodded brightly and returned his smile.

“Yep. Want some?”

“Of course.”

Before Ruth could rise, Jilla did, handing McCoy her cup. “Excuse me, Doctor, Commander,” she said and headed back to the replicator.

“Where are you going?” Ruth asked.

“For food,” Jilla replied. “I am hungry.”

“Let’s go planetside, then,” Ruth suggested.

Jilla sighed, but nodded. As she turned back to the table, she said demurely, “Would you care to join us, Commander?”

“Jilla!” Ruth hissed, then flashed an uncomfortable grin at Spock. “No offense, Boss.”

“Not much,” McCoy snorted and Ruth glared at him.

Spock seemed oblivious to the exchange. “No thank you, Ensign, “ he responded. “I have much to attend to.”

Jilla nodded deferentially. Ruth folded her arms. McCoy murmured, “See you, Ruthie,” as he and Spock walked away.

Ruth tapped her foot. Jilla gazed innocently at her.

“Push,” Ruth scowled. “Push, push.”

Jilla turned toward the door, calmly keeping the satisfied smile from showing on her features.


Sulu glanced around the mess hall. Several tables were occupied, but none by the object of his nightly-since-a-month-ago wet dreams. Nowhere was the delightfully petite, voluptuously rounded figure of Jilla Majiir. He checked a frustrated sigh, but his disappointment must have shown on his face because Kevin clamped a sympathetic hand to his shoulder.

“Now you know how it feels, Sulu, me boy,” Kevin said, not at all sympathetically.

“How what feels?” Sulu wanted to know.

“Being like the rest of us who sometimes don't get anyone we want,” Kevin replied with a heartless grin.

Sulu grimaced at him. “Why do I hang around with you?” he wondered out loud.

Kevin’s grin widened. “You like my fair, Irish air,” he returned jauntily.

“That and your fair, Irish – ” Sulu broke off the sentence as Dr. McCoy approached them.

“If you’re looking for Miss Valley, she went planetside,” he said companionably.

I was, certainly,” Kevin returned. “Sulu here has other ideas.”

“Mrs. Majiir?” McCoy wondered. “Sulu, I thought that was a temporary…”

“It was,” Sulu broke in hastily. “But we can still be friends, can’t we?”

“Why, yes,” McCoy agreed, a slight smile pulling at his lips. “I suppose you can. She went planetside too.”

“Thanks, Doc,” Sulu said.

“Sulu,” Kevin stated bluntly as McCoy moved back across the room to where Spock was seated, “since when are you content to be ‘friends’ with a woman like Ensign Majiir? Unless your definition of ‘friend’ includes fucking on a regular basis.”

“You should know – friend,” Sulu returned blithely. He was gratified at Kevin’s scowl. It ensured the Irishman wouldn’t press the issue any further. “Come on, let’s go planetside.”


Ruth stood uncertainly before the shop entrance. Jilla had no intention of going in, but Ruth was vacillating. She had never been inside one either, but she was intrigued. “It is rather narcissistic,” she said, half to herself. “I’ve never been narcissistic, do you think I should be?” she asked the Indiian.

“No,” was Jilla’s firm answer. She glanced at the display in the salon window. There was an advertisement proclaiming the attractions of becoming a totally new person. “You do not need to be a new person. And I am hungry.”

“Well, I wouldn’t want the works,” Ruth mused. “Maybe I’ll just have them dye my hair blue.” Jilla shuddered. “It would match my uniform,” Ruth pointed out. “On Terra it’s very stylish to have matching hair and clothes.”

“You are not on Terra, you are in Starfleet,” Jilla returned. “And Cygnians have blue hair, not Antaris. And I do not think Commander Spock would approve.”

“That settles it. I’ll do it.”

Ruth made the mistake of glancing at Jilla before stepping into the shop. The Indiian was staring at her. Not saying a word, not blinking, a disapproving, almost challenging stare.

“Or how about purple?” Ruth wavered. "And I’ll get gold inserts for my eyes. A reversal!”

Jilla shook her head. “Atrocious,” she said firmly.

“Well, I’m tired of looking ordinary!”

“Ordinary?” Kevin Riley’s voice suddenly chimed in. “Mother of God, Ruth, ordinary?!”

Ruth turned to face his mock-astonishment and Sulu’s appreciative grin.

“Never ordinary, Ruth,” he assured her. “You’re Antari. Semi-divine, remember?”

“Semi-divine can get pretty boring, Roy,” Ruth muttered, then added cheerfully, “How nice to see you, Kevin.”

Kevin looked surprised, pleased, and suspicious all at once. “I'm not bored with semi-divine,” he said, almost more to himself than to Ruth.

“Good,” she returned silkily. She gave Sulu a significant look and continued, “Why don’t we go somewhere and talk about me, Kevin? You two will excuse us, won’t you?”

Ruth!” Jilla whispered urgently, and Ruth gave her a demurely innocent stare, then firmly took Kevin’s arm and walked away. She called over her shoulder.

“By the way, Roy – she’s hungry.”

Sulu grinned at Jilla. “Would you like to get something to eat?” he asked.


Jilla had lowered her eyes at Sulu’s appearance, trying to hide her reactions as both he and Lieutenant Riley paid sincere if joking compliments to Ruth. If only he would...

Nonsense. It is good he does not!

A small one…


She abruptly cleared her mind of the inappropriate longing, not quite quickly enough to banish the mocking taunt. Yes, I am damned, she answered it. And may the damned not be improper?

She was about to suggest yet again to Ruth that they have dinner. The Antari’s sudden interest in Lieutenant Riley had startled her – until she felt the reason behind it; to leave her alone with Sulu. She began a protest and Ruth solidly rebuffed it. As she gazed now at the light in Sulu’s eyes, she realized that Ruth had rendered it impossible for her to decline his offer. Her heart beat a little faster as she self-consciously nodded.


“Why are you following me, Doctor?” Spock asked as McCoy accompanied him out of the transporter station.

“Jim said you needed recreation and to make sure you got it,” McCoy stated with diabolical cheerfulness. “That’s just what I’m gonna do.”

“I am going for a walk,” Spock returned patiently. “Does that constitute recreation enough?”

“That sounds fine, Spock,” McCoy nodded. “I’ll come with you.”

“If you must.”

“Jim’s not the only one who’s noticed you acting peculiar,” McCoy informed him as they set off. It was a pleasantly warm day. The area of the base they were in wasn’t too crowded; an open-air mall, ringed with shops of various kinds, landscaped with shrubbery and flowering trees. There were almost enough distractions to allow Spock to ignore McCoy completely while not disturbing his mental quiet.

“This place is hot,” McCoy complained after Spock failed to take the verbal bait of his last statement.

“On the contrary,” Spock said.

McCoy snorted. “Not that you'd notice.”

Spock’s curiosity got the unfortunate better of his determination. “Why wouldn’t I, Doctor?”

“Well, besides the fact that Vulcan’s hotter than hell,” McCoy replied, obviously pleased, “you’ve been preoccupied. Absorbed. Thoughtful. Ever since we got Ruthie and Mrs. Majiir back from Korion. Something about that preying on your mind, Spock?”

Spock glanced mildly at him, once again ignoring the not-very-subtle bait. “The chemical formula for the drug the Havens used,” he responded. “A chemical agent that is effective on a keheil must be studied by the Federation as it is obviously necessary to analyze such a substance so as to understand and formulate some possible antidote to or counter-agent for its use and effect on Antaris, as well as other species, in the event that…”

He droned on, satisfied that Dr. McCoy was no longer listening, until he was interrupted by the doctor’s,

“There’s Ruthie. Lets go say hello.”


Ruth tried her best not to ignore Kevin. After all, she’d been the one to drag him to the outdoor café at which they now sat. Only she couldn’t think of anything to say to him. Her mind was on other things. She was feeling a little guilty for what she’d done to Jilla …

She started it. If she can match-make with me and Spock…It’s a ridiculous notion anyway. I’m not interested, and he certainly isn’t in me and…

“What did you say, Kev?”

“I said, ‘heads up’,” he repeated.


Bones’ voice saying “Good afternoon,” interrupted Kevin and explained what he’d meant at the same time. Ruth beamed at him, happy at the interruption; then she saw Spock. Instead of the greeting she’d meant to give, she found herself asking inanely, “Boss, what would I look like with blue hair?”

“Cygnian,” he replied automatically.

“But it would it be attractive?” she blurted out, hating her mouth. Spock gazed at her attentively.

“Miss Valley, I cannot, in all honesty, picture you with blue hair. Why do you ask?”

“I was thinking of dyeing my hair blue.” And I sound like a complete and total idiot. “What do you think, Bones?”

“That it’s the most ridiculous thing I ever heard of,” McCoy said bluntly.

Me too. “Well, it was just a thought,” Ruth said out loud. “Care to join us? You, too, Mr. Spock.”

Spock was still staring at her, his expression unreadable. Finally he answered, “I came planetside for a walk. If you will excuse me, Miss Valley, Mr. Riley.” He turned and walked swiftly away.

“And I’m with him,” McCoy said. He smiled a good-bye and hurried to catch Spock.

“Lucky you,” Ruth mumbled and returned to trying not to ignore Kevin.


McCoy was saying something as he fell in step with Spock’s long strides, but Spock did not bother to decipher his words. Miss Valley, your own natural coloring is more than becoming. The words had formed in his mind. Why? And why had he not said them?


“There’s a restaurant near here that specializes in Vulcan food,” Sulu said as he gallantly took Jilla’s arm. She stiffened and took an awkward step away. He carefully disengaged his escort. Vulcans and/or Indiians must not do that, he thought and filed the information. For a moment he reflected on how full that file was getting. He’d carefully catalogued all he knew of Jilla Majiir and her situation: the widow of a Vulcan, genetically altered by that now-dead husband, the unexpected result of that alteration, McCoy’s attempted cure of that unexpected result – and the Indiian concept of eternal monogamy, breeches of which were punishable by eternal damnation. He never would have considered courting her if it hadn’t been for her behavior after McCoy's cure. The memory of how she had clung to him, how breathlessly, ardently affectionate she’d been for the week following was as bright in his mind as the glow of her silver skin when she blushed. Bright, too, was her explanation of that behavior:

“I cannot allow the contact which I was helpless to stop while in The Time.”

“But you want to.”

“No matter. I cannot.”

“You don’t deny it.”

“No. That, also, I cannot do.”

She had tried to be cool to him, but her eyes showed him the truth every time he looked at her. He understood as much as any non-Indiian could the terror her damnation held for her. But, in his view, what was done, was done. She couldn’t be damned twice. He had said as much to her, asking her why she had to deny contact. And that, she had no answer for. That lack of explanation was the trigger for his courtship. Seeing her as a mock-tiger cub, naked, drugged and painted to look and act as a sensual animal had set his aim.

“Would that please you?” he asked, referring to the choice of restaurant. She took a deep breath before answering, and he found he had to consciously pull his eyes away from the sight when she did.

“I – am not sure you – would find anything – to your liking,” she stammered softly.

“I’m fairly omnivorous,” he assured, managing to make it sound easy. “Christine made plomeek soup once, and I didn’t think that was all that bad.” He smiled at her, and she flushed. Shrugging, he led the way down the streets, talking lightly of nothing. The head waiter was more than polite as he noted their uniforms, and brought them to a table. He handed them menus and a smaller list, then bowed and left.

“What kind of wine do you like with lunch?” Sulu asked, his eyes glancing over the day's offerings.

“Wine?” Jilla repeated. He looked up, concerned.

“Or don’t you drink wine?” he quickly added.

“I have never – indulged in – ”

He smiled at her. “It’s a mild form of alcoholic beverage, usually made from fermented grapes – a Terran fruit,” he explained. “I think you’ll like it.” The waiter returned to the table, and Sulu handed him the wine list. “Your finest California Cabernet Sauvignon,” he said. The man nodded.

“And will you be ordering now, sir, madam?”

“Give us a minute,” Sulu returned, and the man bowed again, and once more left the table. Sulu returned his attention to Jilla. “The wine I’ve ordered will match your hair,” he said.

“My hair?” she replied, a little startled. “Is that – is wine supposed to - ?”

He laughed. “No, it’s just that Cabernet Sauvignon is a burgundy. Your hair’s the same color.”

Her gaze lowered. “I have heard the word, but I was not aware it was a substance.”

“You’ll see,” he returned warmly, then indicated the menu. “See anything you like?” He watched as she scanned the listing, seeing everything he liked.

“Yes,” she said finally. “Several things.”

“What’s - ” He paused. “Cheey’anok?” His pronunciation must have been horrible because she winced. “Say it for me,” he encouraged. Her skin brightened and he guessed it pleased her that he wasn’t offended.

Cheey’anok,” she said. The accent was on the first syllable, ‘chee,’ with the ‘y’ pronounced as a deep ‘uh’. This was followed by a glottal stop, a short, clipped ‘ah’, ending with ‘nawk.’ He tried it again, coming much closer. A rare smile pulled at Jilla’s lips and she said it once more. Again he repeated it, this time close to perfectly. For a moment their eyes met and he wished he could pull her into his gaze. Then she hastily broke the contact. He pretended not to notice.

“Now that I can say it, what is it?” he asked brightly.

“A fruit soup,” she replied. “It has a light taste, and is somewhat sweet by Vulcan standards.”

“It sounds delicious.”

The waiter brought a tray with the bottle of Cabernet and two glasses, and when he poured it, Jilla let out a quickly cut-off gasp. Sulu smiled at Jilla’s obvious pleasure that the wine was the color of her hair.


Ruth told Kevin she wanted to do some shopping and wandered around doing nothing for the rest of the day. She had a nice dinner alone in an outdoor café, and took in an outdoor concert of classical Vegan music. She finally decided she wasn’t going to accidentally run into – Bones – and went back to the ship. As she approached her cabin, she hoped Jilla would still be out, or asleep. She certainly didn’t want to talk to anyone.

Jilla was asleep.

Doesn’t that just figure? She thought furiously, and went to bed, completely ignoring the fact that she hadn’t wanted anyone to talk to.


Jilla was quiet the next morning. Too quiet, Ruth thought, and I bet I know why. God, I hope Sulu didn’t come on too strong. No, he wouldn’t do that. And she wants him anyway. Why let a little thing like damnation stand in her way? Besides, what’s done is done, right? Right.

“We’ve got a custom I think you might be interested in,” she said aloud. There were having breakfast coffee – her fifth cup, Jilla’s untouched first. The Indiian’s eyebrows rose quizzically. “It was Judy Miller’s idea,” Ruth went on. “Whenever we’re at a Starbase or anywhere with a market, she goes shopping for food and we have an ‘I hate replicators’ party. People gather in the galley and cook things.”

“That sounds very enjoyable,” Jilla commented softly.

“You’re not drinking your coffee,” Ruth noted pointedly. “Can you cook?”

Jilla sighed. “I have had as much as I want Ruth, I do not like it. And of course I can cook. I am married.” The emphasis confirmed Ruth’s suspicions. Things had undoubtedly gone way too well with Roy.

“Good,” Ruth replied brightly. “They might even let me watch you – if I promise not to do anything else.”

“Why would they only allow you to watch?” Jilla asked.

Ruth blushed, stared into her cup, cleared her throat, and finally said, “That’s a long story. Do you want to join the cooks?”


“Yeah. Judy has luncheon planned for about two hundred and fifty. So she can use almost all the help she can get.”


Jilla was surprised by two things as they entered the ship’s galley. The first was hearing Daphne Gollub roughly order Ruth, “Stand over against the wall and don't touch anything.” Ruth scowled but obeyed. Jilla did not understand and was unable to reconcile Daphne’s irritated manner with her affectionate tia. Nor did she understand Ruth’s obvious fondness for Daphne. She was finding Humans – and Human/Antari hybrids – to be a very puzzling species.

The second surprise was seeing Sulu, although she did not understand why she should be. He was, after all, one of the most sociable and popular people on the Enterprise. He was standing behind a worktable, chopping vegetables as though he were engaged in some sort of swordplay. Jilla tried not to stare. She tried to ignore the feeling that Ruth had illogically referred to as ‘toes melting.’ She tried not to sigh longingly, digging her fingers into the slightly throbbing scar on her left palm. She tried to remind herself of the hopelessness of her situation. McCoy’s serum had altered the mating drive of Vulcan to an emotional one – and her emotions had fixated on Sulu. That did not, however, cancel the finality of her vows. But when he looked up at her, all that mattered was his smile.

“Good morning, Jilla,” he said, “or should I say farané? Which I think translates from Indiian into Anglo as ‘honored morning,’ right?”

She blushed, nodding. His pronunciation of the fluid Indiian, fah-rah-nyay, with the accent on the final syllable, was far more accurate – and more pleasing – that his attempts at the harsh Vulcan sounds. “Good morning, Mr. Sulu,” she returned. He beamed at her again and she had to catch her breath. “I did not know you were studying Indiian language,” she said, to cover her reaction.

“I just started,” he confided. “I was hoping you could help.”

Before Jilla could respond, Daphne interrupted. “Speaking of help, Sulu, aren’t you supposed to be doing something?”

“I am doing something, Daffy.”

“I meant cooking,” Daffy purred, “though I suppose you could call it that. Hello, Jilla.”

“Good morning, Daphne,” Jilla replied, ignoring her last statement to Sulu, as it made no sense whatsoever to her. “Why must Ruth stand against the wall?”

“It’s better that way for all of us.”

“I have noticed that you rarely say anything that makes coherent sense, Daphne,” Jilla observed.

“We’ve all noticed that,” Sulu agreed amiably. Daffy stuck out her tongue. Sulu ignored the gesture. He cleared a space on his worktable. “I was going to surprise you with ser’ntic – I hope I said it right – but I could really use your help with it if you don’t mind spoiling your own surprise.”

“This is nauseating, Sulu,” Daphne informed him.

“Do you not enjoy vegetable stew?” Jilla asked curiously.

She noticed that Sulu was scowling at Daphne. Daphne merely showed her teeth – Jilla could not bring herself to call it a smile – and strode casually away. “I think you have offended each other,” Jilla said to Sulu, “but I do not understand how.”

His explanation was to simply state, “Daffy’s insane,” which explained nothing. Jilla was about to point this out when he smiled at her, handed her a recipe card, and pleaded charmingly, "Help?”


“Do you see what he’s doing?” Daffy said to Ruth. Ruth leaned against the bulkhead, looking mischievously innocent.

“What?” she asked.

Cooking,” Daffy replied.

“Oh?” Ruth said, fluttering her eyelashes. Daffy stared quizzically at her. Ruth grinned. “Push,” she enunciated. “Push, push.”

“Ahhh,” Daffy nodded solemnly


Spock was in the ship’s library when Daffy found him. She spoke as casually as she could. “Mr. Spock, we’re having an ‘I hate replicators’ party and Mrs. Majiir is making some Vulcan dishes so I thought she should have a Vulcan there to eat them.”

Spock glanced up at her and was about to decline when McCoy’s voice said heartily, “That sounds recreational, Spock.” Spock switched his gaze to McCoy in obvious question and mild annoyance.

“I was not aware of your presence, Doctor,” he said dryly.

“Captain’s orders,” McCoy beamed. He smiled at Daffy. “We’ll be there. Lieutenant.”

“Good. See you, Mr. Boss,” Daffy called as she left the library. Spock’s gaze had not left McCoy.

We, Doctor?” he inquired.

“I love those parties,” was McCoy’s enthusiastic answer.


Sulu talked as they worked in the galley, his voice casual and friendly. He prepared a beautiful tray of vegetables with grace and ease, its contents chosen to compliment the heavy taste of the ser’ntic. He seemed to take no notice of how often their hands or arms touched, or of how his smile disarmed her. Jilla couldn’t help but notice – and to react with increasing anxiety. She had become so nervous that her hand slipped and bumped against the ceramic heating element built into the counter. She pulled it away quickly, the involuntary “Ca!” coming from her lips as her hand came up to them.

Sulu immediately reached for her. “Are you all right?” he asked, his voice concerned.

She looked up from her hand and in her mind came clear images of another injury, another time… and Selar. She swallowed the shame burning in her. “Yes,” she whispered.

“Here, let me look.” Sulu gently took her hand. She shivered.

“No, I am fine,” she protested softly.

“There’s a plant in the lab that’s good for burns,” he said. “I can go…”

“No!” she broke in. “Please, Sulu, I am fine. Really.”

He seemed to frown for a moment, then smiled, relenting. He raised her hand to his lips, softly kissing the burn. “There,” he said. She stared at him, controlling the breathless trembling. “It’s an old Terran custom,” he explained. “Kissing a wound is supposed to make it feel better.” He shrugged.

It was illogical, Jilla knew it. Yet, as she gazed at him, to her amazement, it worked.


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