Title: A Discussion of Botany
Author: Farfalla the Butterfly-Kitten
Email: blueberrysnail at yahoo dot com
Website: www.cosmicduckling.com
Characters: Saavik/T'Amaya (f/f), K/S and U/C implied
Rating: G
Betas: Sensefille & Gumnut. Thank you to Saavant and Birgit for reading it over as well :-)
Disclaimer: The entire Trek universe belongs to Paramount and will not suffer much from the poking and prodding of our curious collective imaginations. We mean our beloved characters no harm and think that quite possibly they enjoy the variety ;-) And T'Amaya is my creation and therefore my property, although if she's good I'll let her eat out of my hand :-P
Summary: Vulcans don't need mistletoe.
This is the first story in the 'Lessons in Infinite Diversity' trilogy, where Saavik and T'Amaya meet and fall in love.
Note: This story is part of the Femme Fuh-q Fest, round 12. The illustration is by Mina.

A Discussion of Botany

"What is this Terran holiday all about, Saavik?" T'Amaya was relaxed against one end of the setee, the filmy drapes of her dark green dress spilling out around her.

"It is called Christmas," the young lieutenant replied, looking out at the humans gathered in Sarek and Amanda's reception room. "They are celebrating the birth of one of their most revered prophets."

"But that is illogical," said T'Amaya. "Why do they not celebrate the anniversary of his greatest teachings, as we do for our Surak?"

"I do not know," said Saavik. "Humans do strange things. I often do not understand them."

"I would prefer to celebrate an adult life rather than a newborn," T'Amaya commented.

"I believe it has something to do with the significance of the birth itself," Saavik tried to explain, but she knew she was confused and was wise enough to stop talking when she had nothing intelligent to say.

"I may not understand the holiday," said T'Amaya, "but I am enjoying the atmosphere. That tree, for example. I have not seen it before. What is it?"

Saavik craned her head backwards to look at Amanda's painstakingly-decorated Christmas tree. The marooned humans from Kirk's bridge crew, now outlaws due to their actions in rescuing Spock and herself from Genesis, had all taken part in its adornment the night before. The angel at the top was blonde but had pointed ears. "She's actually an elf," Amanda had whispered in her ear when she noticed Saavik staring at it. "But she can be Vulcan too if you want her to be!"

"The species is called spruce," Saavik told T'Amaya. "The tree is a symbol of hope that the winter will give way to the coming spring."

"Was that the prediction of the prophet?"

Saavik paused. "Perhaps that is a way of phrasing it. But there were many customs adopted from other cultures that were integrated into the faith that follows the prophet. The decorated spruce was originally intended to mark the winter solstice."

"Ah!" T'Amaya looked a little relieved at the mention of something a little more familiar, and scientifically based. "It is an interesting tree. I have never seen anything like it."

"Amanda imported it for this occasion," explained Saavik. "She wanted to make the humans more comfortable here."

"Would a Vulcan tree not have been sufficient?"

"It is customarily a spruce or other conifer," explained Saavik. "They take comfort in the reminders of home."

"Conifer--?" T'Amaya was a student of physics, and worked in a computer lab. Her life sciences training had ended with basic biology.

"On Earth, there are plants that do not bear fruit. Some are called gymnosperms, which means 'naked seed'."

"The seed grows directly on the plant?" T'Amaya was having trouble picturing the concept.

"The seeds are borne in cones," said Saavik. She pointed to the mantelpiece. "Do you see that terraced woody object?"

"Yes," said T'Amaya. "I had been wondering what it was."

"That is the cone of one of the Earth trees. The seeds are hidden inside those layers."

"That cone reproduces for that small tree?" T'Amaya looked back and forth from the Christmas tree to the mantel several times.

"I believe the cones for a spruce are much smaller."

"You have learned so much on Earth, Saavik," T'Amaya said admiringly.

"I still do not know half as much as you do about physics or computers," Saavik replied. "So we can teach each other."

"In that event, we shall have a rewarding relationship," T'Amaya said smoothly. Her long, dark eyelashes fluttered a little and she took a sip from her spiced wine.

Saavik felt satisfaction at these words. She had hoped that the beautiful computer technician would enjoy her company ever since their first encounter at the Vulcan Science Academy. T'Amaya worked there in the computer lab, and a few days after Spock's resurrection Saavik had come there to see if she couldn't spend her time on Vulcan being productive. Rumors had it that the VSA computer department was developing a new operating system that might have implications as far-reaching as starships, and Saavik wanted to know what all of this involved.

In addition to her newly-acquired knowledge of the prototype system known as L-CARS, Saavik had also managed to become completely infatuated, in a Vulcan way of course, with the lithe, calm midnight-shifter. Amanda noticed that her adopted granddaughter had changed her habit so that her computer-lab trips were at odd, specific times, and figured some particular individual was behind it. She tactfully told Saavik that she could invite "anyone she liked" to the Christmas party, without asking who it was or what the nature of the attachment was.

T'Amaya had never been around so many humans before. Human outnumbered Vulcan at this party; Amanda had thrown the party for her impromptu houseguests, but several other humans living in the area for various diplomatic or scientific reasons had also been invited out of graciousness. T'Amaya knew that staring was improper and impolite, so she tried very hard not to be rude. It was easiest to do this by focusing her mind on Saavik, which was not an unpleasant activity. Her own childhood had been fairly sheltered, so naturally she'd built up in her mind a certain romantic fascination, tempered by logic of course, about those who lived and fought in space. Saavik's attentions excited her, and besides--the other female had wit, verve, and a promising career.

Of course, her parents wouldn't have been too crazy about the half-breed part... if they knew she was even there. She hadn't even told them she was going to a human party, let alone with a Starfleet lieutenant who was half Romulan.

Certain things about humans confused her. Relationships, for example. "Are they bonded?" T'Amaya asked Saavik, pointing at an older couple of humans touching lips inside a doorway at the other side of the room.

"I--" Saavik furrowed her brow at Commanders Uhura and Chekov, not entirely sure how to explain the light-hearted but loyal nature of their relationship to her conservatively-raised companion. "They have been together many years," she finally said, a little lamely.

"But they have not bonded?" T'Amaya wasn't arguing; she was merely trying to understand.

"There is much diversity among human mating rituals," explained Saavik. "Some humans do not take part in the rituals at all."

"There is diversity here too, if not as great," said T'Amaya. "I was not bonded when I was a child."

"Is that rare here?"

"Common enough, but not predictable for such traditionalists as my parents," said T'Amaya. "But, like all beings, their views are influenced by their experiences. My mother emerged from an unsuitable bond with no desire to see me share in the same problems."

"That was wise of her," said Saavik. "You now have the freedom to consort with whom you choose."

"As long as they are considered suitable," T'Amaya amended. She looked Saavik up and down, and then turned down the intensity by casting her eyes about the room again. "Several parts of this Christmas ritual have to do with plants, do they not?"

"Besides the tree?" Saavik tried to see where she was looking.

T'Amaya pointed. "The doorway. Four times during this conversation I have noticed humans who were not previously anywhere near the doorway move purposely toward it and then touch lips. Am I correct in concluding that the strange plant with white berries above the doorway is the reason for their communing in this manner?"

"They call it mistletoe," explained Saavik. "It is a parasite, and travels from tree to tree stealing nutrients. I do not understand why the humans kiss beneath it, but it is part of the Christmas tradition."

"A parasite," mused T'Amaya. "How strange! So the lip-touch is called a 'kiss'?"

"They find much intimate pleasure in that behavior."

"Is it like--" and here, T'Amaya got shy, and waggled her two fingers around together suggestively instead of saying anything.

"There is no telepathic link between their mouths," Saavik said, "but the emotional attachment is strongest during such an activity."

"Emotion!" T'Amaya scoffed. "I do not understand it."

"It takes time," said Saavik. "I have been with humans for half my life, and still I do not follow some of their actions."

"But you were raised by one who is half-Vulcan."

At the mention of Spock, Saavik's face clouded slightly. He hadn't remembered that he cared for her, yet... and Saavik was too old for another parental abandonment, even unintentional. "He'll come back to us," Admiral Kirk had whispered in her ear one night when he found her staring into the desert, shortly after the fal-tor-pan. She believed him, but it still produced discomfort.

"Spock is unique," was all Saavik said.

"He is not attending the party," T'Amaya observed.

"He is overwhelmed by what he has gone through," said Saavik.

"Quite understandably. But I notice that every time Admiral Kirk notices another couple move towards the mistletoe, he pours himself another drink."

"The Admiral has much on his mind."

"Why do the humans place such importance on an unpleasant plant?" T'Amaya wondered, drinking more spiced wine. "Is there no other ritual for initiating a kiss?"

"Some do not have the fortitude to ask," said Saavik. "Rejection is feared by most."

"Understandable," said T'Amaya, "for such an emotional species."

"And for a Vulcan?"

T'Amaya took another sip of wine. "If I desired to touch a companion's mind, I would ask."

The two young women sat across from each other on the settee, motionless, locked in each other's gaze. They looked like a painting, artistically arranged for the Christmas season with Saavik's red Starfleet uniform jacket (her only formal clothing) contrasting in mood with T'Amaya's liquidy pine-green gown.

Then, slowly, T'Amaya raised her right hand, her index and middle fingers extended and together.

Saavik mirrored her actions, and dove headlong into those huge brown eyes as their fingers touched. She had done this once before, with the body of the new Spock, back on Genesis, but that had only been a shell with no katra. Now was entirely different. Now, sparks of a sizzling current flowed through their hands, connecting their thoughts. It was not a meld, just shared awareness of each other's being. It was beautiful.

Saavik caught her breath, sensing her passions swimming within her. T'Amaya felt the passion, and calmly showed her that it was returned. And neither of them moved for a good ten minutes.

Amanda looked over at the young Vulcans with satisfaction, and poured herself another glass of eggnog.

Drawing by Mina

Continued in Experiment