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

(Standard Year 2246)

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The champagne was almost cold enough. Sulu carefully lifted the two crystal goblets, hanging them by their stems between his fingers, then picked up the ice bucket. The bottle nestled easily in it, and it nestled in the crook of his arm. Another man might have paused to check his appearance, but Sulu was both too modest and too confident to need the reassurance his reflection would have provided. He smiled self-deprecatingly at the thought. Miss Valley was interested, he already knew that. She liked what she'd seen, and he hadn't changed much in the last two days. Why worry about impressing her now? Just because she was a goddess...

Ruth Maxwell Valley ani Ramy was a hybrid of Ter-Israeli and Antari looks and cultures. She was also a newly commissioned science officer. She was intelligent, witty, flirtatious and ambitious, with little respect for rank or privilege, and she played guitar. It was, at the moment all he knew about her. Except for the undeniable, unavoidable fact that she was too beautiful to be believed; tall, slender, golden-tan skin, torrents of golden hair, huge bright purple eyes. Her voice was melodic, musical and oddly accented. He supposed it was Antari. She carried herself with strident grace and youthful dignity and serene enthusiasm. Sulu had never experienced quite so lovely a combination of contradictions.

She had come on board two weeks ago, a cadet in the much-dreaded but inevitable hawkeye run; the final exam for those Fleet had determined were starship-bound. It had been impossible not to notice her. She had dogged Mr. Spock's footsteps with questions and teasing and Sulu still wondered how she'd gotten away with it. She had once gasped out, "Oh my god, all in one sentence!" in response to Spock's assertions that her logic was indeed fascinating. She'd coined a new nickname for Captain Kirk - Bwana Jim. That had come out of an allegedly private conversation with other cadets - as if such a thing existed on a hawkeye run. She suggested they tone down their completely-expected-by-junior-officers but less than respectful antics, "or it'll be a game of ' who sir, me sir' with Bwana Jim." And she helped in starting a medical term for the Head Nurse's unfortunate infatuation with the Vulcan First Officer; Chapel Syndrome. Ruth Valley was an insubordinate's insubordinate, but uncommonly clever, more than quick on the uptake, and, when on duty, one of the most efficient officers to grace Spock's section in the three years Sulu had been on board. All that, and the enticing way she returned his frequent, lingering glances (despite Uhura's constant reminders, in his ribs, that she was a cadet) combined to make her particularly intriguing.

And now, she was assigned to the Enterprise, no longer brig bait. Ensign Ruth Maxwell Valley ani Ramy.

Sulu smiled again and took the turbolift to deck four.


Ruth Valley took in the sight of her quarters with thrilled satisfaction. A cabin, on a starship, my very own! She ran a hand down the sleeve of her new, sciences-blue uniform. I'm an ensign, I'm commissioned! she crowed proudly to herself. And assigned to Bwana Jim.

Well, you can't have everything...

Shut up, Valley, you couldn't be more honored and you know it!

I have to keep up appearances, don't I?

She whirled around, hugging herself joyously. I'M ABOARD THE ENTERPRISE - THE ENTERPRISE - AS A CREWMEMBER! flooded every telepathic mind for a dozen parsecs and Ruth couldn't've cared less. She wanted to shout, to dance, to stand on top of Mount Ararat and scream to heaven and right up in the Zehara's ear, but contented herself with a joyously abandoned, ferocious strumming of the strings of her guitar. Even the thought that she would miss Alana and Corey and Stell couldn't dampen her enthusiasm. You'll undoubtedly make lots of new friends, she consoled herself. You've got a new roommate to start with. He, by the looks of things. That could turn out to be pleasant, couldn't it?

She turned at the sound of the door chime. Company already? Maybe her as yet un-introduced roommate was afraid of catching her in an immodest state of undress. I'll have to teach him not to worry about such things. She composed her features into what she hoped wasn't a wicked grin and went to the door.

She recognized the handsome face, warm, dark eyes, darker silky hair and roguish, devastating smile that had been leering at her since she'd come on board. Lieutenant Sulu. He carried a bucket filled with ice and a bottle of champagne, and two crystal glasses; real stuff by the glisten. His eyes swept quickly over her and started twinkling devilishly.

"Congratulations, Ensign," he said.

Memories of the stories of the infamous Sulu Collection flashed into her mind, immediately countered by Cobra's strident defenses. Her eyes did a much more deliberate sweeping over his body. She let the wicked grin take over. An Antari, with my compliments, she thought, and leaned against the doorframe.

"Congratulations, Lieutenant," she returned.


His body was lean and graceful, the color of his skin a warm, deep bronze with the same golden undertones as her own. He was perfectly proportioned, perfectly muscular, neither too bulked up nor too wiry. And he knew exactly how to use what he had, which was damned uncommon. Men who looked as good as he did were usually only fair as far as skill was concerned. Except for Del was added wistfully to her thoughts. But Sulu had an innocence about his own abilities that Noel DelMonde could never conceive of - no empath could. How anyone so bold and dashing could still be innocent was beyond her, but, incongruous though it was, it was the truth. He was artlessly charming, naively sensual, guilessly passionate and sinlessly wanton. Yet his confidence and knowledge of tender seduction was surpassed only by his sexual mastery. She shivered. You're definitely a contradiction, mister, she thought, but if you keep doing as well as you've done, I won't mention it.

Ruth sat up, gently rolling Sulu's body off of hers. His eyes opened and he clutched the edge of the small bed, then grinned up at her. "So bad you want to kick me out?" he asked.

"Not yet," she replied, and reached behind her to the shelf and the champagne and glasses. She swirled the bottle appraisingly. "Not much left," she commented sadly, and poured the remainder into her glass. "Where's you get it anyway?"

"Promise not to tell?" Sulu said, raising himself up on one elbow.

Ruth giggled. "That bad?"

He nodded gravely. "I found it. In a Jeffries tube."

"That's mine!" Ruth burst out indignantly, then frowned as Sulu began laughing. "You womprat!"

He managed to get enough control to ask, "Womprat?"

"A sneaking, conniving, short-lived beast!" She scowled as he gasped in mock horror, then pulled her down into his arms.

"I'm sorry, Ruth," he chuckled. "I saw Cadet Jones hiding a bottle a week ago and I couldn't resist." He calmed himself by kissing her, but the amused grin remained. "And that isn't where I got this bottle anyway."

Ruth, who hadn't been very successful in keeping a straight face, looked up from his chest, her eyes gleaming. "Then it's still there," she said slyly.

Sulu nodded. "I guess so," he said, then a matching gleam came into his eyes. "Do you want me to go get it?"

"Do we really need more alcohol?"

"No, but let's not let that stop us."

Ruth chuckled conspiratorially and Sulu got lightly to his feet. "I probably should get dressed," he mused.

"Unless you want to be gang-raped by passing females, yes," Ruth agreed.

He grinned, but his eyes clearly said, ' Who, me?' and Ruth smiled fondly at him as he picked up his uniform.


The door opened a few minutes later, and Ruth turned from the mirror, setting down her hairbrush. "Back so soon..." she began, then stopped speaking. A tall, dark-haired man with intensely blue eyes stood just inside the doorway, his arms folded, grinning appreciatively. Ruth sighed, then smiled back. "Hello, I'm your new roommate, Ruth Valley."

"Obviously," the man said. "And I'm yours, John Thompson. Call me Jock." He paused, drinking in her appearance. "I gather by your statement that you're expecting someone?"

"As a matter of fact..."

"Someone beat me to it," he sighed. "Just my luck. Look, I'll let it go this time, but from now on let me know when my presence won't be appreciated, okay?"

"But I just..." Ruth began.

"I'm only slightly voyeuristic," Jock returned, grinning. He turned, heading back out of the cabin. "I'll check back in a couple of hours, all right?"

"Nice meeting you," Ruth agreed wryly.

"It'll be nicer getting to know you," Jock replied. The door opened as Sulu walked in. Jock hit him on the shoulder. "Lucky son-of-a-bitch," he said.

Sulu shrugged. "When you've got it..."

"You get it," was the reply as the door slid shut.


Sulu was already at his post when the Captain and Mr. Spock came onto the Bridge. They were discussing his two-week-long-so-far infatuation, one Ensign Ruth Valley. "Her bad influence is all pervasive," Captain Kirk was saying. "In the last communique, Jose Mendez called me ' Bwana.' I looked it up, Spock. It isn't an Antari honorific."

"The term is Swahili in origin, Captain," Spock returned, "a corruption of the word for father. As such, I would assume it is not meant disparagingly. I find it interesting that such a term is also used to denote ' master' or ' sir.' The two concepts are also linked on Vulcan, yet the languages are, of course, linguistically quite distinct."

"She calls you ' Boss," Kirk replied, ignoring the verbal insight.

"As I am her superior, that is acceptable as an informal address."

"Then why do you frown at it?"

"I do not frown, Captain."

"No, Spock. Of course not."

Sulu grinned. When Ruth came on duty with a "Morning, Boss, Bwana," he winked at her. Her smile was dazzling and he filled a private part of his mind with glorious fantasy until the watch ended.


"Young lady, get out of my sickbay!" Leonard McCoy bellowed. Ruth looked up from the scanner she was studying.

"Hello, I'm Ruth Valley. I told Starfleet I'd drop in once in a while. Are you Dr. McCoy?"

"That so? Well, you can tell Starfleet I do not need the services of a faith healer."

"You're Dr. McCoy," she said. "And as far as I'm concerned, you're the faith healer. I know I work."

McCoy glared at her. "Ensign, when I need your help..."

"Look, they made me promise. It isn't my idea of fun." She turned to leave. "By the way, I hope you never do. I'm going to be an admiral."


"The nerve of that man!" Ruth blustered. "It's not like I stormed into his precious sickbay and took over! They made me promise. I promised. I don't want to be a doctor, it's their idea, and he doesn't even know me!"

Sulu sat on his knees on the deck of his cabin, a long scroll of paper unrolled before him, his inks and watercolors beside him. Ruth stood with her hands on her hips, her hair hanging to mid-thigh, beautifully naked. She was posing for a portrait. "It's okay. McCoy's a doctor. He takes some getting used to," he said easily. "And stop moving, I can't get your figure straight."

"It isn't, it's curvy, and all you care about it that dumb portrait. I'm sorry I told you I'd pose. It was in a fit of passion and I can't be held responsible."

"Don't get jacketed, Ruth. Doc is like that with everybody."

"Are you?" Ruth's foot was tapping irritably. Sulu stared at her, a smile coming over his features as he slowly rose.

"You're beautiful," he said, and stepped to her, sliding his arms around her. "And I'll paint later."

"You, Lieutenant, are a nymphomaniac."

"You, Ensign, would know."

She fought her smile only seconds longer, then melted in his embrace. "Thanks, Sulu."

He grinned. "Anytime, Ruth."


"Miss Valley," Spock began after a moment of mildly amazed silence. Ruth let her eyes twinkle at the First Officer over the chess set. "Your logic is at best disconcerting, but to find it employed in a game of strategy, and to a victorious advantage, is a matter for awe."

"You mean mate in two, Boss," she retorted airily. His eyebrows lowered and she laughed. "Care for another game?"

"Will you play logically?"


"Then I think not."

"Sore loser."




Ruth sat at a table by herself in the rec room, softly strumming on her guitar. The music was sad, but it made her feel peaceful, not melancholy. Her fingers caressed the wood and metal of the beautiful, aged instrument. She spoke silently through it to her father, and grandfather, and all the generations before, feeling a part of them and them a part of her. She could almost imagine the roots growing back in time from that wood; not to any one place, but to a people and a heritage that shaped and colored what she was. Daddy was right all along, she thought wistfully. A starship is where I belong.


"Miss Valley."

"Yes, Bwana?"

"Do you have to do that?"

Ruth smiled innocently at the captain from her seat under a tree in the rec area. "Do what?"

"Call me ' Bwana'."

She blinked in feigned surprise. "Don't you like it?"

"It doesn't show much respect."

"Oh, but I do respect you, Captain, sir," she breathed.

"I'm serious, Ensign," Kirk said sternly.

Ruth stood up. "Yes, sir. Sorry, sir."

"I'm not hardnosed about such things. I don't mind informality. And you've never disobeyed or ignored an order. But..." Kirk sighed. "Don't call me ' Bwana' on duty. Or is that asking too much of your insubordinate soul?"

Ruth fought a smile. "No, sir."


She waited until he had turned to leave, then whispered, "Bwana."


"I know who you are."

Sulu opened his eyes at the conspiratorial whisper that woke him. Ruth was up on her elbow, grinning at him. "I thought we'd been introduced," he mumbled.

"Kamikaze," she said. He came instantly alert.


"LeRoi," she returned.

He swallowed. "How did you..."

"LeRoy!" she finished delightedly. "That is how Cobra says it."

Sulu blinked, sitting up, smiling a little uneasily. "Yeah," he admitted, but before he could ask, she continued.

"I'm Spike. You weren't at the Clave when I was."

Sulu's smile widened, the uneasiness vanishing. "Cobra told me about you," he said. She grinned wickedly.

"Everybody told me about you."

He felt a blush coming to his face. "Yeah, well...."

"It's okay, Roy. I didn't believe most of it."

He laughed the awkwardness away with the teasing sparkle in her eyes and pulled her down to him.

"Of course," she murmured, sometime later, "now I know why they call you the king."

"Oh?" he asked, kissing her forehead. Her answer was a seductive murmur.

"It's got nothing to do with racing."


Sulu took a deep breath and stretched his arms. He was hungry and glad that third watch was almost over. He wasn't exactly tired. He hadn't worked any longer than usual. But it was to be expected the first day of a shift change. His body was used to doing other things with his nights.

He turned his head to glance at the library computer and Ruth. She looked sleepy. She had a reason. She'd been working for two shifts. She must've felt his gaze, for she turned her head and winked at him. He winked back.

The turbolift door opened and Spock stepped onto the Bridge. There was no general ' good morning' as there usually was from Kirk. The Vulcan went straight to the computer station. His voice was low, but on the Bridge, normal conversation was easily heard.

"Good morning, Miss Valley," Spock said.

"Morning, Boss," Ruth replied. "I've got the research specs laid out waiting your approval and I took the liberty of composing a tentative list for workload reassignments to allow for the completion of the specification within the time allotted," she handed him a statboard and went on, "and, the report from Anthro is finally in and I corrected the quarterlies to include it and I didn't yell at Palamas once when she insisted on going over it in detail to make sure I understood it."

Sulu couldn't see Spock's face but he could imagine the mild exasperation and calm patience at his assistant's long-winded greeting. As for himself, he was grinning at Ruth's exuberance after sixteen hours of work.

"Commendable, Ensign," Spock said, "on the report and the handling of Lieutenant Palamas."

Ruth's smile lit up the Bridge. "Thank you, Mr. Spock."

"And as you have worked a double shift, you are relieved."

"I thought you'd never get around to it. ' Night, Boss."

"Good day, Miss Valley."

"You going for breakfast?" Sulu asked as Ruth passed him.

"Yeah," she called from the turbolift. "See you in a minute?"

"Right," he called back, and she waved as the door closed.


"How can you eat rare steak for breakfast?" Sulu wondered disdainfully.

"How can you eat dead plants?" Ruth retorted.

"This is a broccoli omelet," Sulu explained.

"Cooked egg-guts and dead plants."

"Seared cow muscle," Sulu returned.

"Protein," Ruth corrected.

"Protein isn't everything."

"To me it is. It's all I can eat."

Sulu stared at her. "Really?"

"Really. Comes from being semi-divine. Nectar, ambrosia, and all that."

"What about coffee? That's not protein."

"Drugs don't count."


"I am addicted, Roy. I got hooked by cruel, vicious Starfleet officers at the Academy."

"You needed help staying awake twenty-six hours a day too, huh?"

Ruth laughed. "Especially since I was the first Antari in Fleet. They took extra care with me."

Sulu shook his head, grinning. "I can't begin to imagine."

"Well, it got forced on me and now I can't kick the habit."

Sulu raised his coffee cup. "To addiction," he said.

"Likewise," Ruth replied.



Ruth peered out from under the covers at the raucous sound of her roommate's voice. "Yes, Jock?" she asked sweetly. Jock stood stark naked, dripping water onto the rug.

"When I left this morning, before you saw fit to saunter on home, I set the temperature of the whirlpool very carefully. I knew, you see, that I was on hull maintenance. I knew I would be cold and stiff when I got through. I survived the grueling workload with thoughts of that nice, hot swirling water. I come in. I turn it on. Do I find nice, hot, swirling water? I do not. I find clinking ice cubes!" He threw a wet towel at her. Ruth winced.

"I didn't know you'd set it!" she complained.

"No, because you weren't home all night!" Jock thundered.

"I was working."

"Oh, is that what you call it?"


"Valley, I'm freezing!"

Ruth started laughing and lifted the covers. "Come on, baby. Mama'll keep you all toasty warm."

Jock grinned. "That's better," he said, and Ruth laughed again as he climbed into her bed.

"You're a twitch," she managed.

"Yeah, but it worked," Jock replied.


Sulu was grinning as his elegant sword-work backed Ruth into a corner. She was good, but her technique was strictly schoolwork. Once she'd fought with someone other than instructors and went beyond convention, she'd be a formidable opponent. But for now...

"You're not really a collector, are you?" she asked suddenly, breathlessly.

The word seared him and he dropped his guard. Ruth scored a killing touch with a victorious, "Gotcha!"

He furiously tore off his mask. "Damn you," he snarled.

Ruth pulled up her own mask. She was smiling. "Sorry about that," she said blithely. He turned away. Her voice became soft and caring. "You aren't, you know."

He scowled. Did everyone know that damned story? "Look," he said tersely, "that term is inaccurate, offensive, and undeserved. My first roommate at the Academy hung it on me, god knows why." He turned to face her again. "I don't collect," he went on, " - women, men, alien or otherwise. If I sleep with different beings it's because I care for different beings. I'm not out to hang scalps from my belt or carve notches in a bedpost. I don't keep score and I don't count heads and if you think I do, we can just..."

"Whoa, slow down, Roy," Ruth broke in. "I know all that. I heard the rep, sure, and maybe I gave it some credence - before I met you. Not since." She reached up, touching his face. "I know you, and I know better than anyone how much you care. I said you weren't a collector, Sulu."

He stared defiantly at her and she fluttered her eyelashes at him. After a tense moment he sighed, relenting.

"So why'd you bring it up?"

Ruth's eyes sparkled. "It was the only way I could win."

He scowled. "Now who's the womprat?"

"Hmm, let me think... sneaking, conniving... yep, that about covers it."


"But beautiful."

Sulu sighed again, but this time he was smiling. "Undeniably."

Ruth put her fencing mask back into place. "Again?" she challenged.

"I'll wipe up the floor with you."

"I can think of better things to do on the floor, Roy.

"Come to think of it, so can I," he said, and tossed both the mask and the epee aside. "Come here."

She smiled and jumped into his arms.


"Why does Pavel keep telling you he has an Edoan roommate?" Sulu asked Ruth after they'd passed Ensign Chekov in the corridor - and he'd mentioned the fact once again.

Ruth shrugged innocently, then called after Pavel, "I hope he snores!"

"He does," Chekov called back. "I find it relaxing."


"You," Sulu rejoined, "are a strange women, Spike."

"Yes," she agreed happily. "It's a long and sleazy story and I'm sure a person of your delicate sensibilities and obvious taste wouldn't be interested in all the sordid details of Pavel's life with his former roommate." She raised her eyebrows. "Or would you?"

"I'm all ears," he grinned.

"No, Spock's all ears. You're the one with the almond eyes. It's how I tell you apart. Haven't you checked a mirror recently?"

"Strange woman," Sulu repeated, then added, almost to himself, "Mirrors and I don't get along."

"Really? Why do you say that?"

"Say what?"

"What are you on, Roy?"

"What am I on? What are you on and if you say the Enterprise, I'll..."

"Ooh, a threat!" she squealed eagerly. "You'll what?"

"Force you to spend an entire day with Daffy Gollub."

"No, please, no!" she pleaded.

"Which reminds me," he interrupted himself, "why does she swear at you all the time?"

"She's one of my best friends," Ruth explained.

Sulu nodded. "I knew it was something like that. Not that I understand any of this."

"Daffy claims I follow her everywhere," Ruth tried again, a little more seriously. "We were at Alterra and the Clave and the Academy together, but she always managed to arrive a little bit before I did. When she was assigned to the Enterprise it seemed inevitable for me to show up here, too. So I did."

"And so naturally her greeting when she first saw you again was, ' Get off my ship!'"

"Naturally. She wouldn't be Daffy if she wasn't."

"Right. So what about the sordid details?"

Ruth laughed and answered with one word. "DelMonde."

"Cajun?" Sulu asked.

"The very one. Engineer, poet..."

"Foul-tempered son-of-a-bitch," Sulu finished with her. Then, "You were involved with him?"

"Three years, give or take a week here and there."

Sulu whistled. "Must have been serious."

Ruth's gaze was far away. "Yes," she said quietly. "Yes it was."

"What happened?"

Ruth shook herself. "He graduated, got assigned to the Hood. We still write, and we plan to see each other on leaves when we can..."

It was Sulu's turn to get quiet. "Ruth, have I... I mean... what we've... I haven't intruded on something... "

Her smile was gentle. "No, Roy. We were never monogamous. And I don't think we could be."


"Let's just say we're very volatile. We get intense, then we start getting on each other's nerves. He's a telepath too, and an empath, and he's got no natural shielding. I can help him for a while... until I get exhausted. Then I snap at him and he snaps back, then he shuts down and I get bitchy..." She shrugged. "I know he uses sapphire when I'm not around, and I just can't accept that."

"You're against chemicals?"

"Only ones that destroy a strong, beautiful gift. That sets my teeth on edge."

Sulu was silent for a minute, then asked, "You miss him?"

"Sure," she admitted, and grinned, all teeth, "When I need to chew on something."

He laughed. "Do you always speak so highly of former lovers?"

"Who ever said he was former?"

Sulu nodded. "Right."

"And yes. Yes I do," she teased.

He slid his arms around her, giving her a quick hug. "I'll have to make sure I never become former."

She returned it, and kissed him. "Deal, Roy."

The End

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