The Long Run

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

(Standard Year 2247)

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“Come on, Spock, time for the party,” McCoy enthused as he slapped the First Officer on the shoulder. Spock sighed wearily and straightened from his scanner. There was no escaping the Doctor’s jubilant coercion, and so he simply said, “Yes, of course,” and rose from the chair. As McCoy gleefully herded him toward the turbolift, they chanced to pass Captain Kirk, who, to Spock’s disheartened annoyance, nodded approvingly.


Jilla did not answer Ruth when the Antari asked, “Are you avoiding Sulu?” Instead she moved around the table to the end opposite where Sulu had just placed a large platter of something called ‘deviled eggs’ and continued filling a plate with vegetables and fruits. Ruth followed her. Thankfully, Sulu did not. Jilla stopped herself from gazing after him as he moved away. She must, however, have made some movement since she heard Ruth’s quiet “hmph.” She looked up. “And you’ve been bustling,” Ruth added, her tone almost accusatory.

“I have been trying to be of use,” Jilla returned.

“There are almost two hundred people in this room, Jilla,” Ruth retorted, “and you and Sulu are doing most of the work. Yet,” she mused thoughtfully, “you usually manage to be just ahead of where he is, or just behind. How do you do it?”

Jilla did not answer her question. Instead, she looked around. The sounds and emotions of the crowd were relaxed, happy, and for the most part, at peace. She let the sensation wash over her, cleansing her for a moment of her ever-present guilt. Smiling slightly at the crowd of people who were so obviously enjoying themselves, she said, “I approve of this custom, Ruth.” Ruth’s tia turned affectionate, and Jilla noted Commander Spock talking to Dr. McCoy and Mr. Scott. Again, she must have indicated something with a gesture, a slight nod, perhaps, because Ruth suddenly glanced over to the small knot of senior officers.

“What’s he doing here?” she wondered, a suspicious edge to her voice.

He is one of the crew,” Jilla pointed out, “and so was no doubt invited. At least,” she added ingenuously, “I assume that by ‘he’ you refer to Commander Spock.”

“I do.”

“I see.”

Ruth scowled. “And what is it you ‘see,’ Majiir?” she asked testily.

Jilla held out the plate she had been carefully arranging. “I am needed in the galley,” she said. “Commander Spock has not yet been served.”

Ruth looked sourly at the plate for long seconds before she finally took it. “I’m a keheil, not a waitress,” she muttered.

“And,” Jilla admonished before turning away, “place it before him, do not slide it at him.”


Ruth seriously considered dumping the plate over Jilla’s head. After all, Jilla had once angrily pushed a plate of food onto Sulu. And this all-too-obvious maneuver of hers deserved a similar response. Unfortunately, Jilla swiftly disappeared into the galley before she could make up her mind. She sighed and tried to think gracious thoughts about vegetarians as she made her way to the table at which Spock was seated. He looked up in evident surprise as she gracefully placed the plate before him.

“Commander Spock,” she said, pronouncing it as closely as she could to the way Jilla said his name.

“Thank you, Miss Valley,” he replied after several moments of staring at her in what she could have sworn was a stunned silence. She bowed elaborately and ignored both McCoy’s gaping and Scotty’s chuckle as she turned away.


Spock was compelled to control his wonder and pleasure at Ruth’s gestures; the near-perfect pronunciation of his given name; the display of food before him. There were subtleties and nuances in any culture that no one outside that culture would know or understand. On Vulcan, the arrangement of a plate and the manner of presentation by a female to a male spoke in volumes as rich as the Vulcan language. This display, this presentation was of a nature difficult to put into Anglo-Terran terms. It was offer and question, promise and submission, request and willingness. He could scarcely believe she would make such a proposal – yet, with her voice, her graceful and deferential bow, how could she not know?

He thanked her – not at all the proper acknowledgement, but he could not bring himself to that – and sat in silent contemplation, ignoring McCoy’s blatant, questioning stare.


“I never wear dresses,” Ruth mused as she stood in front of a shop window. “Shorts and halters, that’s it. Oh, and uniforms,” she added before Jilla could correct her. She glanced reprovingly at the Indiian, who was wearing just that. “Which is at least more variety than you’ve got.”

Jilla looked down at her uniform. “I find it comfortable,” she said.

“You’ve got dresses,” Ruth retorted. “I’ve seen ‘em. You should wear them.” She turned back to the window. “Maybe the Arcturian one with the long sleeves and no back. What d’you think?”

“Why should I wear them?” Jilla asked. “I am comfortable in…

“Because!” Ruth stated as though it was obvious. “Maybe the black one…” Then she grinned, her eyelashes fluttering. “And I think Lieutenant Sulu would approve.”

“Ruth,” Jilla began, flushing, “I have no desire to…”

“What would I approve of?” Sulu put in amiably as he strode up to the shop window.

Ruth noted that Jilla’s eyes lowered, but not before they had moved covertly over Sulu’s civilian clothing. He wore midnight blue fencing tights with black knee-high boots and a royal blue kimono, properly belted over a soft grey shirt. She bit back a smile. “Fancy meeting you here, Roy,” she said casually. “Jilla wearing dresses,” she answered his query.

His eyes traveled over Jilla’s form, as blatant as the Indiian had been covert. “She looks good to me,” he said.

“She’d look better,” Ruth insisted. Jilla shimmered.

“Well, different,” Sulu conceded, and smiled at her. “Pleasantly, I’m sure.”

“So go make her,” Ruth returned, both she and Sulu ignoring the double entendre.

“What will you do?” Jilla said sharply, having apparently rediscovered her voice.

“Go try on dresses,” Ruth answered blithely.

“Try the white one,” Jilla suggested.

Ruth looked at it. It was simple, a petal-cut hem, tight sleeves with a quilted, sleeveless over-tunic. “You think so?” she asked. Jilla nodded. Ruth shrugged and walked into the shop. “Go!” she called over her shoulder.


Sulu couldn’t help noticing the slight smile on Jilla’s lips. “Why the white one?” he asked. “Is it special?” The smile increased ever so slightly and Jilla nodded.

“It is Vulcan,” she said.

Sulu grinned. “Ohhh,” he chuckled. He reached for her arm, but remembered in time. “First place we go is to get you civies,” he told her. Her gaze swung to him.

“Civies?” she repeated uncertainly.

“Civilian clothing,” he explained. She frowned.

“Why do you shorten it?” she asked, and he thought he detected mild irritation. He smiled his most charming.

“I don’t know. Habit, I guess. I won’t if it bothers you.”

“It makes no sense,” she declared, then her voice grew soft again, and complacent. “But then it is Terran.”

He stared down at her. “I could be insulted, you know,” he teased.

Her composure fled. “I – I did not mean – it was a statement of – I often – I find…”

“No, it’s all right,” he broke in quickly, as gently as he could. “I was only joking.”

She blinked. “Oh,” she said, but it was clear she didn’t understand. Then she lowered her eyes.

This is off to a great start, Sulu thought, but he said cheerfully, “Well, let's see what we can find. What’s your favorite color?”

“Color?” Jilla asked.

“For clothes.”


Sulu checked a frustrated sigh. “Never mind. We’ll see what you like.”


The first thing he suggested was a deep rust-colored dress with full, tightly cuffed sleeves. She said it wasn’t appropriate.

“Not appropriate? Why?”

“I am wed.”

He swallowed the sour reminder. “Yeah. So?”

“It is improper for a married woman to wear - ” She paused. “ – dresses not sleeveless.”

“But your…”

“A uniform is a uniform.”

He nodded, and put it in the file. Next he picked out a brilliant turquoise shift with a high collar and a short, ragged-edged hem. Again it was not appropriate.

“It's sleeveless,” he said. She flushed.

“My legs – must not be displayed so,” she replied. He glanced down.

“Why not? They’re gorgeous.”

She glowed. “Floor-length – in public - ” she stammered.

He nodded again. Sleeveless, floor-length. The next color, a rich mahogany, was wrong. “It is the color of mourning on Indi,” she explained, “to be worn for one year after a death, but never otherwise.” And the next, a dark forest green, caused her to shudder and state most emphatically “No!” but she wouldn’t explain why.

They were passing a small shop window when he noticed her glance at a dress in it, and notice the glance linger. It was a petal green, a soft, muted color, molded to the figure of the mannequin that wore it. It was sleeveless, high-necked, the material gathering at the throat to expose both shoulders. The skirt flowed down from the hips to the floor, and there was a slit from the collar to the high waistline that bared just the inner edges of the mannequin’s breasts in an unbearably tantalizing manner.

“You like it?” he asked. She looked away guiltily.

“It is much – like one I wore – once,” she managed softly. He grinned.

“Let’s go see if it fits.”


It did. Beautifully. So beautifully that Sulu’s unwavering stare caused Jilla’s skin to shine like a sun gone nova.

“She’ll wear it,” Sulu said to the clerk.


Ruth looked up as the door opened. A pile of packages walked in, revealing Jilla when they were set on the desk. “I bought the white one,” Ruth began, then stopped, blinking to make sure it was Jilla. The Indiian was clothed in a breathtaking gown of light green with an equally beautiful pendant of facetted crystal at her breasts. “That’s beautiful!” Ruth exclaimed. “Did Sulu buy – goddess, is that dylithium?!

Jilla reached up, stroking the pendant. “Yes,” she said. “He… I…”

Ruth began going through the packages. Perfume, silver jewelry, a sable cape, needlework, design manuals… “What’d he do, rob a bank?”

“He insisted,” Jilla said helplessly.

Ruth looked up, suddenly realizing the depth of Jilla’s discomfort. “What is it?” she asked. “What’s wrong?”

Jilla was clasping her tightly-clenched left hand with her right. “I do not… on Indi, such extensive gift-giving would be signatory of only the most serious of intentions. I do not wish to offend him but… how can I accept such things when…” She clutched her hand more tightly. “…when I am – and he knows…” Her voice trailed off in confusion.

Ruth smiled. “I see,” she said. “Don’t worry, Jilla. Sulu doesn’t expect anything in return. He’s just by nature a very generous man. It pleases him to please others. Especially those he cares for,” she added softly.

“But how can I…” Jilla began again.

“To please him,” Ruth replied, still gentle. “You do want to please him, don’t you?”

It wasn’t really a question and Jilla shimmered and the dylithium shot forth a beautifully brilliant silver-toned rainbow. Ruth barely heard her response.

“Yes, sumin tu. But if I encourage…”

“He doesn’t need any,” Ruth said. “Only you do.” She sighed. “Dylithium. Hot damn.”


Ruth smoothed the skirt of the white dress. She had to admit that it did look very attractive. It was a bit conservative for her usual taste; it made her look serenely elegant rather than serenely mischievous. She decided to wear it, even though she wasn’t planning on leaving the ship that evening. She went to the rec room, idly wondering where Jilla was, and smilingly accepted the myriad of compliments that followed her through the corridors. She got a cup of coffee and settled down at one of the tables.

“Hi,” Sulu said as he set his cup down and took the seat next to her.

“Hi, Roy. How’s it going?” she asked brightly. “And speaking of, where is she? And don’t I look devastating?”

“She’s helping Scotty with some design experiments,” Sulu replied. “Which is how it's going and you look sensational.”

“Thank you,” Ruth beamed. “Two days and she hasn’t melted under your roguish charm?”

“Not funny. I don’t push her,” Sulu returned sourly.

“You’ve seen her every day.”

“With your help.”

Ruth nodded. “You’re welcome.”

“Oh, that reminds me,” he said, all sourness forgotten. He pulled a long case from his sash, opening it. “Do you think she’ll like these?”

Ruth gasped. The case held a set of bracelets made of the dark, almost black priceless metal that was mined on Indi’s moon, Mirana. It had been worked in the finest filigree, to wind delicately up from the wearer’s wrists. Woven tastefully within the strands were small faceted dylithium crystals. “Zehara, they’re beautiful!” she exclaimed.

Sulu grinned. “She told me all her civilian clothing is sleeveless.”

“You really did rob a bank, didn’t you?”


Where are you getting all this money?”

“It wasn’t that much,” he shrugged.

“Mirian and dylithium? Of course not.” She snorted. “Come on, Roy, I’m not an idiot.”

“Will she like them?” he insisted, ignoring her last statement.

"She’d be crazy not to,” Ruth replied in all seriousness.

He smiled. “Then I didn’t spend too much.”

Ruth gently closed the case, handing it back to him. Her smile, too, was gentle. “Romantic,” she murmured.

Sulu shrugged again, but his eyes were shining.


Spock stepped into the rec room fervently wishing Leonard McCoy would simply disappear with no logical explanation. The doctor’s good cheer was grating in its obvious relish. Why Jim Kirk would do this to him was quite beyond his comprehension.

As he glanced over the personnel in the room, his eyes were drawn to the incongruous sight of Ruth Valley in a stunning dress of white – and Vulcan design. Though she was sitting with Lieutenant Sulu, she did not seem to be absorbed, and Spock saw a hope of salvation from McCoy’s incessant, nagging gaiety. Besides which, he was curious about the dress, and her actions at the luncheon – and illogically, somewhat hopeful, even if his thoughts refused to acknowledge it.

“There’s Ruthie,” McCoy said as if he would not have noticed. “With Mr. Sulu. That girl sure gets around.”

Spock nearly frowned but he cleared his mind of the intrusive thought and approached the table. “Good evening, Miss Valley, Mr. Sulu,” he said. Both looked up.

“Mr. Spock,” they said, and Ruth added, “Hi, Bones.”

“If I’m not interrupting, Miss Valley," Spock began.

Ruth replied, “Nope,” at the same time as Sulu’s, “Not at all, sir.”

“Would you care for a game of chess?” Spock completed.

Ruth’s eyes smiled at McCoy, then, to his surprise, at him, “Bones driving you crazy, Boss?” she asked.

He didn’t answer. Pointedly. And McCoy fumed.

Ruth laughed. “I’d love a game,” she said and stood. “See you, Roy,” she addded to Sulu.

The lieutenant grinned at her and Spock turned, heading toward the chess set. They each took seats, and played companionably for several hours. It took a while, but Spock finally managed to state what he was thinking.

“May I say, Miss Valley, that your choice of attire is most becoming?”

She looked surprised. “Why, thank you, Mr. Spock.” Her cheeks colored slightly. “It’s new.”

“So I assumed.” He was silent for a while, then forced himself to continue. “My mother wears similar styles and I find…”

“Your mother?” Ruth burst out.

Spock blinked. “The slenderness of your body type is, as is hers, well suited to Vulcan…”

“It’s Vulcan?” Ruth broke in again.

Thoroughly confused, Spock cleared his throat and attempted to regain some control of the situation. “It did surprise me, as did your arrangement of my plate at Lieutenant Miller’s luncheon…”

Ruth’s foot was tapping loudly, her arms crossed. “It has some significance too, does it?”

“Miss Valley, if I have offended you…”

“I see,” she said tightly. “Push. Push, push. That womprat!” She rose from her chair, striding out of the rec room, leaving him to wonder at her words and her anger.


Jilla was seated at her desk as Ruth stormed into their cabin, fervently wishing starship doors could slam. “Mrs. Majiir,” she said frostily, “have you lost your mind, or mistaken me for Christine Chapel?” Her voice grew louder and angrier as she blinked back furious tears. “Or are you just intent on making me look like an idiot!”

Jilla stood, her skin glowing with the reaction to Ruth’s emotions. “What are you talking about?” she demanded, as angry as Ruth was.

“This dress, the food, how very subtle, so properly Vulcan,” Ruth hissed. “I’m not Vulcan, or haven’t you noticed?”

“But you are in love with one!” Jilla snapped.

“Bets?!” Ruth snapped back.

“Do not lie to me, Ruth. I am only trying to help…”

“I don’t need any help!”

“I know what you feel!”

“Well, stop it! Stay out of my life!”

“I cannot stop being a sensitive!”

“You can leave me alone!”

“You love him…”

“Damn it, I don’t want to…”

“…and you are stubborn…”

“Shut up!”

“…and he is stubborn…”

“Majiir, shut up!

“…and so someone must…”

Ruth screamed, “LEAVE ME ALONE!” and blindly raced from the cabin. Hurting, furious, she made her way to the one person she knew would make her forget.


At the fierce, insistent pounding and the “damn it, Roy, let me in!” Sulu gave up trying to sleep, pulled on a kimono and called, “all right, come!” Ruth immediately threw herself on his bed.

“Let’s get to it,” she snarled.

What?!” Sulu asked incredulously.

She stood as abruptly as she had sat, and tore her Vulcan dress down the front, ripping it off her shoulders. “You heard me, I don’t want to wait all night!” She kicked off the soft white slippers. He stood, worriedly grabbing her wrists.

“Hey, Spike, what’s wrong?”

Damn it…!” She returned, starting to pull away. Then she looked into his eyes and slumped. “Damn it,” she repeated in a whisper. Sulu put his arms around her.

“What is it, Ruth?” he asked softly.

“Just make love to me,” she murmured.

“What happened…”

“Doesn’t anybody ever take anything at face value?!” she blazed. With an abrupt shove, he was on his back on the bed. “I asked you to fuck me,” she snarled. “Can’t you just do it?”

His mind stinging, he reached up and pulled her on top of him. He kissed her furiously, then held onto her. “No, I can’t ‘just do it’,” he snarled back at her. “Not like this. Not till you tell me what’s wrong.”

She struggled for half a second, then collapsed against him. After a long moment of silence, she sighed. “Well now I feel stupid,” she said, then, before he could insist, she went on. “I had a fight with Jilla.”

“About what?” he asked, reaching up to push the hair back from her face.

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“But you think fucking will make it go away?”

She scowled. “I said I felt stupid.”

He sat up, depositing her on the bed next to him. She pressed against him, then leaned forward and kissed him. He made his response caring but not passionate. “Roy?” she asked, her question obvious though her voice was tremulous. He studied her face before he answered.

“I don’t know, Ruth,” he said. “You were pretty upset …”

She glanced at him, her eyes wide and uncharacteristically pleading. “I’m all right,” she said. “You help.” She paused, then continued, even more softly, trailing her fingers along the opening of his robe, down his chest. “You could help more.”

The flush of desire was as intense as it had ever been, but when Sulu reached for her, he found it rapidly fading. He held her, letting her fingers grasp at his kimono, pulling it off his shoulders. “Honey, I don’t …” he began, but she silenced him with another kiss. When more caresses and deeper kisses left him just as uneasy, he pulled away.

“Sulu?” she said, and her voice was so plaintive that he relented. He stood momentarily, as if he’d only been intending to discard his kimono, and she smiled and lay back, holding out her arms to him. He went to her, laying fully on top of her, feeling her legs part beneath him. Her skin was as satiny as always, her scent as sweet, her touch as warm, as skillful. He tried to quell the uneasiness that stirred within him, wanting to concentrate on giving her what she needed. He kissed her, caressed her, and found he had to force the passion that usually came so naturally between them. He was hard; he knew that the physical act would be no problem – but it wasn’t really the physical she needed. And without the warmth, the playful, loving communion that they had always shared, he knew that the help she wanted would taste like ashes.

And won’t this taste just as bad? he asked himself with cold directness.

Maybe. But it will be honest, and I can’t be less with her.

He sat up, sighing, closing his eyes. “Ruth,” he said, quietly, “I’m sorry. I can’t.”

“Did I do something…?” she began, sitting next to him.

“No, it’s nothing you did. Or didn’t do,” he added quickly. “I just don’t….”

She pulled the sheet up around her torso. “Want me,” she finished for him.

“Shit, it isn’t that!” Sulu exclaimed. “I just – hell, and you were upset at looking ordinary.”

“It’s all right, Sulu,” she said softly. Too softly, he thought.

You can fix that easily enough.

He grabbed her hand, pulling it to his very erect cock. “You see what you do to me, Ruth,” he stated bluntly. “I’m not bored with semi-divine, believe me. It isn’t you.”

“No, I guess it isn’t,” she murmured as she moved her hand away.

“That’s not fair, Spike,” he growled. “You come in here expecting a command performance like I was….”

She stared at him, then burst into tears, throwing her arms around him. “Oh god, Roy, I'm sorry,” she sobbed. “You’re right, and I know it and… goddess, I’m such a bitch! It isn't me!” She again looked up, her eyes searching his face. When she spoke again, her voice caught in her throat. “It’s Jilla.”

As she said it, Sulu knew it was the truth, and the reason for his uneasiness.

“You love her…” Ruth continued.

“I can’t,” Sulu responded automatically. “It’s impossible.”

“Just because a situation is impossible doesn’t mean it can’t happen.”

He stared at her, at the keen perception in her eyes.

“Ruth, I… I didn’t mean to…” He swallowed the panic. “…shit!”

She smiled a little sadly, and hugged him. “Agreed.” She added a sorrowful shrug. “Neither did I.” She rose, picking up the torn dress and wrapping it around her body. “It’s okay, Roy,” she said. “Really.”

He stood, taking her in a quick, warm embrace. “I’m sorry I can’t be what you need,” he murmured into her hair.

“Me too,” she whispered, and her wistful tone tore at him. But she pulled away and smiled, stepping to the cabin door. “Goodnight, Sulu,” she said, and was gone.


(click here for background music...
Wild Heart by Stevie Nicks)

TO WATCH A RELATED VIDEO, CLICK HERE, and scroll down to "Wildheart"

Something in my heart died last night
One more chip off an already broken heart
I think the heart broke long ago…

Ruth sat silently next to the lagoon in the park on Starbase Four, the words to an old Valley Collection song running through her head. She’d pulled off part of the hem of her ruined new dress to use as a belt, keeping the torn material at least slightly modest. The lagoon was as good a place to be as any. She couldn’t very well go home. Jilla was the last person she wanted to see. Okay, maybe the second to last, she corrected herself. At least she’s the last sensitive who I want to see me. And she had just lost her place of refuge.

Place of refuge. Is that what he was?

Sure. That’s all. A nice place to be; warm, soft, caring… loving. Yeah, I could use some good sex…

Liar. You meant loving.

Well, he doesn’t anymore so just forget that.

Anymore? When did he ever? Besides, didn’t you say you’d never be more than half in love with him?

…that’s when I needed you
When I needed you most
Dare my wild heart…

Never could resist a dare.

She stared at her reflection in the water. She seemed to be all hair and limbs and eyes. Huge, dark, sad eyes. Wonder what he ever did with that portrait. Wonder what he ever did with me. It was so good; a real chance. The only real chance since…

Come off it. You’ve known for a long time that he could never accept you.

Wrong. He could never accept me knowing.

In dark sorrow
They gaze down into the darkest heart…

Sulu, it’s not that bad! Whatever your secrets are, they can’t be so terrible! What’s worse to a Japanese than a ninja – and I’ve already loved one of those! We could work on it…

You’re the worst kind of bitch! Work on it? When you know how Jilla feels? When you know how he feels?

But why couldn’t he feel that way about me?

Where are the reasons?
Don’t blame it on me
Blame it on my wild heart…

She swallowed, reaching down to trail her fingers through the water. He doesn’t know how you feel, what you really wanted. You always kept it light…

Because it was what he wanted!

But he didn’t know that, did he? It’s your own fault. You never told him, never said anything. There may have been a chance, but you blew it with your fear of commitment!

He blew it, damn it! He was the one who didn’t want to let it go deeper! He kept it light because of his damned secrets! His fear, too!

Yeah, his too. Does that make it hurt any less?

I run around like a spirit in flight
Fearlessness is fearlessness
I will not forget this night…

She cried – a good, long cry – then slowly rose from the bank of the lagoon. No reason to tell Sulu now. It was done and telling him would only make him feel guilty for no reason. After all, she’d never told him. And he’d never promised anything. She’d cleanse it before she went near Jilla.

Say you’re leavin’
You say you don’t even know how to start
Well, believe it then, and don’t blame it on my soul

Fire on fire, rain on my face
Fever goes higher
What can you do?
Wild in the darkest places of your mind
That’s when I needed you

Where is the reason?
Don’t blame it on us
Blame it on our wild hearts


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