This Is Shore Leave?

by Cheryl Petterson

(Standard Year 2246)

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Ensign Ruth Valley waited until her latest admirer stepped down from his post at the Helm and got into the turbolift before pouncing on him. The ‘pounce’ consisted of her leaping bodily at him, wrapping her arms about his neck, her legs around his hips, and planting a wet kiss smack on his mouth. Being a gentlemen, Lieutenant Sulu caught her, his arms folding beneath her hips to provide a stable base of support while welcoming the kiss with one of his own.

“So, Roy, where are you taking me?” Ruth asked after their mouths parted.

“Taking you?” he asked, then a devilish gleam came into his eyes. “You mean your quarters or mine?”

“Well, at the moment, sure,” the Antari returned blithely. “But I meant in two hours when we’re officially on leave.”

A look of discomfort replaced the gleam in the helmsman’s dark, almond eyes. “Ah, actually, Spike, I – uh – I hadn’t planned on – “

Ruth pushed away from his chest, straightening her legs and landing on the deck with a small thump. “So I’m only good enough to schtup on the ship?” she asked, her purple eyes glinting at him.

Sulu blinked at her in utter disbelief, then started laughing.

It broke Ruth’s feigned indignity and she snorted once, then started laughing herself. “Okay, so it’s an absurd notion,” she admitted, then changed her facial expression once again to a wide-eyed pout. “You really made other plans?”

The helmsman shrugged. “The Hood is in port,” he said.

“Which means you’re in the mood for something tall, dark and serpentine,” she guessed, grinning shrewdly. Sulu returned the smile, nodding. “That’s more than okay, Roy, because where the Hood is…”

“…Cajun is,” Sulu finished. He leaned forward as the lift doors opened, giving her a warm, friendly kiss. “See you in four days – if we don’t run into each other planetside.” He started out the door, then paused, turning back to her. “Unless I can talk you into a foursome?”

She wrinkled her nose. “With you and two other guys? Ick.”

“To each his own,” Sulu replied with a grin. “See ya, Spike.”

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“I take it you gonna see Kam, non?” Lieutenant Noel DelMonde drawled from his position of lounging on the bed of his roommate and clandestine therapist.

Lieutenant Jeremy Paget smiled at him as he exchanged his security red-shirt and black uniform pants for a bright gold jumpsuit. “You, my man, have never been more right about anything in your entire life,” the TerAfrican responded.

With an exaggerated yawn and lazy stretch, the Maker known as Cajun rose from the small bunk. “That leave Spike free fo’ me,” Del said, then grinned wickedly.

Paget winked at him. “Wonderful how things work out sometimes, ain’t it?” He donned the silver, cobra-styled necklace that was his Clavist namesake. “Say hi to the lady for me.”

“An’ you give Master Kamikaze my thanks fo’ keepin’ her company while she away from me,” DelMonde returned.

“I will,” Paget said. “And watch the sapphire use. Shore leave may be a time for cuttin’ loose, but…”

The tall, lanky southerner shook his head. “I gonna be wit’ Ruth,” he said, his voice deep and warm. “I not need it.”

“There is that,” Jeremy grinned. “Have a good time, NC.”

“Come back bruised,” Del returned, and grinned to himself at Paget’s snort of agreeing amusement.

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“So where are we going?” Ruth said brightly as she fell in step beside Ensign Daffy Gollub. Her friend, fellow Clavist, fellow Science officer, and fellow Jew didn’t even turn her head.

“We?” Daffy repeated. “We? What’s with the we all of a sudden? Except for you following me everywhere I go.”

“I don’t follow you,” Ruth objected. “You just get places first.”

The chemist ignored the statement. “No big plans with His Majesty?” she asked with a snort.

“The Hood is in,” Ruth returned.

“Ah,” Daffy said knowingly. “Better alert their Sickbay, then.”

“What?”

Gollub finally glanced at the Antari. “Kam,” she explained. “Upstairs. Ropes and knives and…” At Ruth’s blank look, the shorter woman grinned nastily. “Never mind, bubee.”

“Sulu’s not like that,” Ruth defended her lover.

“Of course not,” was Daffy’s only comment.

After a few more steps, Ruth said again, “So where are we going?”

“I’m going to the nearest den of iniquity and get totally gonzo,” Gollub told her.

“Sounds like fun.”

“Since when can you get totally gonzo?” the chemist wanted to know.

“It’ll do until Del finds me,” Ruth returned with a wicked smile.

“Ah, that’s right, the foul tempered son of a bitch is on the Hood too, isn’t he?”

“If I go get Gypsy, we can have a reunion,” the Antari suggested.

“Hey, you know what might be fun?” Daffy said suddenly, stopping in her tracks, then scowling as Ruth bumped into her. “Watch it, Miss Graceful.”

“And who spilled acid on the lab table last week?”

“That wasn’t my fault. A certain sentient butterfly distracted me by fluttering around her tall, green secret love.”

“That wasn’t fluttering, that was trying to get away from his incessant and compulsive perfectionism,” Ruth replied airily. “And when I love somebody, bubee, it ain’t no secret.”

“Slut.”

“Bitch.”

“Klutz.”

“Cow.”

“Anyway,” Daffy went on, “what would be fun is to see if we can get Chekov gonzo.”

“Chekov?” Ruth said, blinking. “Pavel Chekov? So very proper Russian pain in the ass best Spock imitation this side of Vulcan Chekov?”

“Have you seen the bills for Requisition’s supply of vodka?” Daffy retorted. “Somebody’s gotta be drinkin’ the stuff.”

“He always could put it away,” Ruth mused. “And Del would have a lot of fun messing with him.”

“There is that,” Daffy agreed.

“But how are we going to get him to go planetside with us?”

Gollub grinned, a show of teeth that would have been intimidating if Ruth Valley hadn’t been a telepath and Antari keheil. “Leave that to me, bubee.”

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Ensign Pavel Chekov prided himself on his attention to duty, his observance of proper decorum, and the approval he received from Commander Spock for his scientific work. He had applied himself vigorously to his secondary assignment, knowing with no undue modesty that his primary obligation, that of Chief Navigator, was already handled to near perfection after less than a year at that important posting. He also knew that some of the other junior crewmembers made sport of what they referred to as – when they thought he wasn’t listening – Vulcan ass-kissing, but he was used to such teasing. And whether or not it was meant in the same half-joking but affectionate way he was teased about his pride in his Russian heritage, that was the way he took it.

So it was that he expected the ribbing when he informed his helmpartner and friend that he wasn’t taking shore leave. “There are many experiments Mr. Spock wishes to perform while the ship is in orbit,” he told Sulu, “and I have offered to assist him.”

“If you don’t take leave, Pav, I won’t be inclined to put up with any surliness once we’re back on patrol,” the Asian warned gravely.

“I will keep that in mind,” Pavel replied.

“It’s your life.”

The Russian glanced up from the computer simulation he was preparing in time to see Sulu’s hint of a smile, and let his brown eyes return it. “I trust you can manage to have a good enough time for the both of us?”

“Oh, I don’t think that will be any problem at all,” the helmsman assured, and turned to leave the lab. “See you in four days.”

“Four days of peace and quiet,” Pavel called after him. “Now that’s what I call leave.”

Sulu’s laughter was cut off by the hiss of the door and Pavel smiled to himself.

Several minutes later, he heard the sound of the door opening again, and, assuming it was the Vulcan Science Officer, started to speak without looking up.

“Mr. Spock, I have two of the five simulations ready for a first test run…” he began.

“Well, isn’t that just ducky,” came the unimpressed voice of Daffy Gollub. “What do you do for an encore, sing the Vulcan hymn of allegiance?”

Chekov felt himself flushing. He had more than noticed the attractive chemist, but had not as yet mentioned that fact to her – or to anyone else.

“Excuse me, Ensign,” he said politely. “I thought you were Commander Spock.”

With a quirk of her eyebrow, the young woman glanced down at herself. “Short, relatively speaking, not green, and definitely female,” she commented. “But points for the color of the uniform.”

“Can I help you with something?” Pavel said, straightening and placing his hands self-consciously behind his back.

“Spock teach you that?” she asked, taking several steps toward him.

“Teach me what?” he returned, with a touch of confusion.

"The butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-my-mouth, stiff-as-a-board reaction to normal conversational attempts,” she replied, continuing to move forward.

The Russian frowned. “It is merely an attentive, polite stance…” he began.

“He taught you to speak Anglo, too, I see,” Gollub interrupted.

At a loss for how to respond, Chekov murmured, “Anglo is not my native language.”

She was now less than a foot away from him, and she reached out toward the side of his head. He flinched, but otherwise didn’t move as her fingers brushed back the thick brown hair over his ears. “What are you doing?” he managed.

“Just checking,” she said with a wry grin.

He frowned. “For?”

“Pointed ears.”

He flushed again. “I am not Vulcan,” came unnecessarily out of his mouth.

She rolled her eyes. “Oy geveult, boy, you definitely need time away from the Science Labs.”

“I am scheduled to help Mr. Spock with…”

“Scheduled? On leave?” She shook her head, clucking her tongue. “No such thing, bubee.”

“Bubee…?”

“It’s Yiddish. As some of my less savory but highly amusing acquaintances would say, Herbert, you are stiff,” she drawled, putting her hands on her hips.

Chekov froze, every muscle in his body going rigid. The reminder of events and people he had hoped to forever put from his mind erased all other thoughts in his head. He knew he was blinking stupidly, his face getting redder as the ensign stared at him, her lips twitching as though she were holding back laughter.

“So, are you gonna prove you’re not a plant for the government of Epsilon Eridani or what?” she said at last.

“Miss Gollub, I do not know to what you refer,” he countered stubbornly.

“Epsilon Eridani, the stellar designation for the system which contains the planet we call Vulcan and they undoubtedly call some logical, ethnocentric, but impossible to pronounce word which would translate loosely as ‘home’ or ‘the world’ or some other equally dry nondescriptive. This you don’t know? And you call yourself a navigator?”

“Of course I know what Epsilon Eridani is,” the Russian said testily, “and I know its stellar position and that of every other major member system of the Federation. What I do not know is what that has to do with me.”

The chemist suddenly clapped her hands delightedly. “Then you’re not a secret Vulcan spy!” she cried.

“Of course not…” Pavel sputtered.

“And you do know how to enjoy yourself away from labs and computers and starship bridges!” she continued in the same tone.

“I… I…”

“And you will come with me planetside and prove it to all the doubting schmucks who claim to be your friends!”

“Schmucks… claim to be…”

The young woman grabbed his arm, pulling him after her as she strode with obvious satisfaction out of the lab and toward the nearest turbolift. Before Pavel regained his senses, he was in the transporter room, hearing Ensign Gollub say, “Energize, Mr. Scott.”

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Ruth had chosen to wear her homeworld’s practically nothing – a tube top with a very short skirt in bright green. She was waiting in a very pleasant little outdoor café, sipping an iced coffee and enjoying the feel of sun and wind on her face. She had seen Sulu, resplendent in leggings and a long, dragon-printed over-tunic, ardently greeting Cobra. The tall TerAfrican waved to her and managed to call “NC’ll be along in a bit, Spike” before being hustled away to some no-doubt luxurious hotel suite.

She’d called Sakura Tamura – known to her Clavist friends as Gypsy – and the pretty Asian yeoman agreed to meet planetside once the pre-leave status reports for the First Officer were finished. Ruth expressed her shared sympathy for having the Vulcan as a boss and gave the coordinates for the café.

Stretching her long legs, she sipped her coffee, wondering how Daffy was doing with Mr. Best Spock Imitator. She briefly considered wagering with herself as to whether or not the chemist would be successful, then chided herself for even thinking of such a sucker bet. What Daffy wanted, Daffy usually got. So it was with no surprise that she saw the two approaching her table. It did surprise her that Daffy was still in uniform, but not at all that Chekov was.

“What took you so long?” she said by way of greeting.

“Long schmong,” Gollub replied. “We’re here is the important point.”

“Good afternoon, Miss Valley,” Pavel said.

“Come, sit, order something alcoholic,” Ruth invited as a wait person stepped expectantly toward them.

“Don’t mind if I do,” Daffy grinned and took a seat, then grabbed Chekov’s arm, pulling him down into a chair next to hers. “Relax, we’re on leave,” she told him.

The navigator glanced around, clearly uncomfortable, then his manner softened and he actually smiled. “It is quite pleasant here,” he offered.

“Warm sun, fresh air, no brass, what could be better?” Ruth agreed.

“I’ll have a Martian Mind-Bender,” Daffy was saying to the server, “and for you, Pavel?”

“Vodka,” was the distracted response.

Oy, live a little!” Gollub exclaimed. “Give him a little Vulcan Blood,” she told the waiter, who nodded, and moved away.

“I beg your…” the Russian began, scowling.

“It’s a drink, bubee,” the chemist explained with an impish grin. “Mostly vodka, I promise.”

“Why contaminate good vodka?” Pavel muttered.

“To change the taste,” Daffy said.

“One does not drink vodka for the taste,” Chekov returned.

“So be adventurous.” Gollub shrugged off-handedly, then turned her attention to Ruth. “Did you call Gypsy?”

Ruth frowned, glancing at Chekov. “Ix-nay on the Ipsy-Jay,” she frowned.

“Ara-pay-oid-nay,” Daffy commented, then grinned as Ruth stuck out her tongue.

“Is that Yiddish?” the navigator asked cautiously.

Ruth made a face and Daffy started laughing. “No, bubee, it’s called Pig Latin. You take the first consonant of each major syllable in a word and put it at the end of the syllable with an ‘ay’”

“Don’t tell him!” Ruth protested.

“Ara-pay-oid-nay,” Chekov was murmuring to himself. “Paranoid. Nix on the…” He glanced up. “Who is Gypsy?”

“It’s a nickname for Yeoman Tamura,” Ruth put in quickly before Daffy could spill more of the already dangerously close to being totally betrayed beans.

“As ‘Spike” and ‘Roy’ are nicknames?” the navigator asked.

Daffy laughed again. “Dumb he isn’t.”

“Remember who I roomed with at the Academy, Ruth,” Pavel reminded. “I do know about the Clave.”

“Then you should know enough not to ask questions,” Ruth retorted.

“I was only asking who…”

“And speaking of foul tempered sons of bitches…” Gollub interrupted.

Ruth immediately rose from her chair, nearly flying across the open space between the café table and the walking path to throw herself into Noel DelMonde’s arms.

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Del greeted Ruth with both a passionate kiss and immediate telepathic and empathic communication. All his joy at seeing her again, along with how badly he had missed her and the strain of maintaining the imperfect shielding which was the ever-present background of his existence, was sent to her senses. The welcome relief of her golden thoughts enveloping his skinlessness sang in tones of deep blue within him. J’taime, my angel girl, he said silently.

I love you, too, Christmas, Ruth sent back, and giggled at his automatic frown.

How many times I gotta tell you not to call me that? he growled.

At least once more, she returned, then kissed him again, which melted away his irritation. “Come on,” she said aloud, and grasped his hand.

“Where we goin’? he asked, then glanced ahead of her. A wait person was bringing drinks to a small café table. Daffy Gollub picked one of them up and raised it in a gesture of hello.

Then Del saw who else was seated at the table.

Mare de duin, not Chekov!” he groaned.

“Daffy wants to see if we can, as she put it, get him gonzo,” Ruth explained merrily.

Non, the man drink like a fish,” Del commented shaking his head. “An’ he not get less jacketed neither.”

“I don’t think she’s planning on limiting her repertoire to alcohol,” the Antari confided.

Del snorted. “Chekov takin’ recreational chemicals? That ‘bout as likely as ice in August, babe.”

Valley shrugged. “May be, but Daf’s determined, and you know how she gets.”

“An’ we have to help her in this?” the Cajun asked with a scowl. “Get some nice hotel room somewhere, jus’ the two of us, I be t’inkin’.”

Ruth stopped walking, turning to gaze up into the taller Terran’s eyes. “You know how that’ll end, Del,” she said. “I want to have a good time with you. I missed you.”

“You tellin’ me I not good in bed, cher?” Del returned.

“See, it’s starting already!” she exclaimed in exasperation.

“What startin’ already?” Del rumbled.

“We’re arguing.”

“I not be the one wantin’ to avoid makin’ love fo’ the next week, babe.”

“I don’t want to avoid it, I just…” Ruth protested, then caught the amused teasing emanating from Del’s thoughts. She smacked him on the arm. “You womprat!”

He chuckled, and heard Ruth’s realization; something about Sulu and ‘so I’m only good enough to schtup on the ship?’ “So how is ol’ Kamikaze?” he asked aloud.

Her hand again struck his arm. “Stop eavesdropping,” she commanded.

“I not help it, cher,” Del shrugged, but it was easy rather than defensive and he took the opportunity to kiss her a third time. She melted into his embrace with a soft moan. “That hotel lookin’ right good ‘bout now, hmm?” he murmured, nuzzling her ear.

“Oh yes,” she breathed, “but I promised Daffy.”

The Cajun sighed. “That l’il gal mess up so damn much o’ my life,” he muttered, but he slipped his arm around Ruth’s waist and started sauntering toward the café table.

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Pavel’s lip curled in disgust at the greenish concoction that was set before him. He folded his arms across his chest, glancing up at Daffy. “You do not actually expect me to drink this,” he stated.

“Who doesn’t?” Gollub returned, raising her drink to the approaching couple.

“And I do not care for Noel DelMonde’s company,” Chekov continued.

“Then drink up, bubee.” The chemist leaned over to him. “Cajun’s not nearly as annoying drunk.”

“I have never found that to be the case,” the Russian insisted.

Daffy’s eyebrow rose wickedly. “Do tell!”

“Regular and repeated drinking oneself into a stupor is a survival strategy when one is rooming with Noel DelMonde,” was Chekov’s dry response.

Daffy stared for a moment, then her mouth twisted and, after a good five seconds, she burst into laughter.

“You do have a sense of humor!” she managed at last.

Chekov’s face remained impassive, but there was a twinkle in his brown eyes. He heard the footsteps coming up behind him and tensed for the expected ‘thump!’ on the back.

He wasn’t disappointed.

“How you doin’ T-Paul?” Noel DelMonde’s deep voice growled above him.

“Who what?” Daffy asked.

“T-Paul. It a nickname,” the new arrival stated. “T fo’ ‘petit’ - l’il - and Paul ‘cause that his name.”

“Little Paul,” Daffy repeated, and Ruth started snickering. “Well, isn’t that clever.”

“Considering the vast intellect of the source of the appellation…” Chekov muttered.

“Hey, don’t pick on him!” Ruth broke in.

“That’s her job,” Daffy informed the navigator with a wink.

“An’ I not the one dumber’n a box o’ rocks,” Del rejoined good-naturedly.

“You just have the personality of one,” Daffy returned, her smile all teeth.

“You wanna start talkin’ personal traits, sugar…” the Cajun began sweetly.

“Enough!” Ruth stated firmly. “This is shore leave. We’re supposed to rest and recreate, not snipe at one another.

“But s/he’s so good at it!” Daffy and Del complained together.

“Sides’ he start it,” Del finished, giving Chekov’s forehead a thwack with a snap of his forefinger and thumb.

“I did not!” Pavel protested. “You called me…”

“It an affectionate nickname, ya dumb fuck,” DelMonde growled.

“Calling me little…”

“Ya are.” At over six feet tall, the engineer towered over the navigator. “Not'ing wrong with it, non?”

“It does not sound affectionate,” Pavel grumbled.

“I take it back,” Del muttered in return. “I hate you an’ your dumb fuck Russian guts.”

“Well, this is off to a grand start,” Daffy said to no one in particular.

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Like the observant yeoman she was, Sakura Tamura analyzed the clothing and relative position of the group of people she was about to join. Ruth Valley and Noel DelMonde were in civies; the Antari in her usual short skirt and barely-covering top, the engineer in a very becoming short-sleeved tunic in shades of black and grey over skin-right black and grey pants. Daffy Gollub and Pavel Chekov were still in uniform. She wondered what that meant. She herself was also in civilian wear, a rather Gypsy-ish looking outfit in red and black, fitting her Clavist handle.

Del was seated in a café chair, his long legs stretched out in front of him, with Ruth on his lap. Smooth sailing there, for once, Sakura guessed. Chekov, seated across from them, looked mildly uncomfortable and bit perplexed – probably wondering what he was doing there. Daffy was standing at the table, talking and waving a fancy drink around. From the animated posture, Sakura knew the chemist was up to something mischievous.

Which no doubt explains Pavel’s uncertainty, the yeoman decided. She saw Gollub glance up.

“Hey, Gypsy, over here!” Daffy called, and Sakura automatically winced at the casual use of what was supposed to be a in-the-know-only nickname. Daffy Gollub had never been too circumspect when it came to Clave protocol. She’d always said it was because she was a lowly Groupie and didn’t have to follow the rules. Sakura knew that when it came to following rules, Daffy was never circumspect.

“What’s with the uniforms?” Tamura asked as she approached the group.

“We haven’t had time to change yet,” Daffy replied

“We are going to change?” Pavel put in.

“Can y’change your personality then, too?” DelMonde said with a toothy grin.

“Only if you can alter yours,” Chekov shot back.

“I said no sniping,” Valley remonstrated.

Sakura shook her head and took a seat. She ordered a Long Island Iced Tea when the waiter came to the table, then smiled at the group in general. “So, do we have a plan?”

“General cavorting, drinking, and assorted mayhem,” Daffy announced. “After Chekov and I slip into things less confining than uniforms.”

“What was the purpose of coming here straight from the Science Lab then?” Pavel wanted to know.

“I didn’t want you finding an excuse not to come,” Daffy returned. “And no, we’re not beaming back for civies. We’ll buy something.” At the frown that came over the navigator’s face, Daffy scowled and said, “My treat.”

“Tight-fisted…” DelMonde started to grumble.

“This was her idea,” Chekov reminded. “Why should I buy something I would most likely never wear again when…”

“Do I have to put you two in a time-out?” Ruth asked sternly.

Del gave her a silky smile. “If you come wit’ me, cher.”

Ruth’s face softened into a smile of her own. “Later, I promise.”

Sakura gulped at her drink when it arrived. “I passed a clothing store on the way here from beamdown,” she said.

“Let’s get this leave on the road!” Daffy enthused. Ruth stood, finishing her drink. Del also rose and grabbed his beer bottle. Daffy finished her Martian Mind-Bender with a flourish, and Pavel pushed the untouched Vulcan Blood to the center of the table as he, too, got to his feet.

“Who’s paying?” Sakura asked, and Ruth said, “It’s covered.” Tamura hurriedly swallowed the rest of her beverage, hoping the rapid ingestion of the strong mix of alcohols wouldn’t make her too dizzy, and followed the two couples away from the café. She had the feeling that his was going to turn out to be a very interesting shore leave.

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