~ Just Another Romance ~

An April Fools' Day Prank by Farfalla
Beta'd by Hypatia Kosh, Blue, and katanath
Codes: TOS, PG-13
**Pairing codes at bottom of story**

Just another afternoon on the Starship Enterprise. On the bridge, Uhura's earrings clinked lazily like wind-chimes in a summer breeze as she replaced a piece of busted wiring. Chekov snuck her a glance every once in a while, counting down the seconds until the end of the shift. She'd promised to play ping-pong with him in the gym, and he was eager to put some balls in her direction. Besides, everybody knew it was a Russian invention!

Spock was sitting in the captain's chair for the time being. The planet they were orbiting would be providing four new crewmembers to the ship, and he was studying the padd that detailed their personal and professional information. Captain Kirk had gone planetside himself to collect the new personnel, because they were to transport an alien ambassador who was refusing to beam aboard until the Captain could demonstrate personally that such a method of conveyance was safe.

"The Captain and the new crewmembers have beamed on board, Mr. Spock," Uhura said suddenly, swiveling away from her station.

"Thank you, Lieutenant. Is the ambassador with them?" The Vulcan put the padd down.

"Yes, sir. He was the last one to be transported." She smiled and shook her head. "It reminds me of Dr. McCoy, a little."

"The Doctor's illogical fears of the transporter device have no basis in actual data and are quite an inconven--" Spock's words were cut off by the swish of the turbolift doors. He stood up and spun around to greet his captain.

Captain James T. Kirk was standing in the doorway smiling at his bridge crew. Beside him stood a young woman in a gold female uniform. She couldn't have been more than two inches over five feet tall, and her skin was flawless and almost glowed a little with health and exuberance. Her blonde hair was thick and straight and was held back by a black headband. Hazel eyes took in the warm, friendly atmosphere of the Enterprise bridge, and slightly nervous fingers pulled at each other unconsciously.

Spock beheld the open turbolift with a deep stirring in his heart. He pushed down the illogical public display of emotion he feared he would show if he allowed the moment to remain silent any longer. "Captain! I take it your brief trip was without incident."

Kirk nodded. "Everything went fine. Eh, Mr. Spock, I'd like you to meet Ensign Mary April. She's just come on board as one of our navigators. Mary, this is my bridge crew. A better bunch of people you aren't likely to find anywhere. I think you'll.... really enjoy working here."

Mary smiled broadly. "Hello...." Various members of the crew smiled back.

Kirk led her onto the bridge. "Crew, I believe most of you knew Mary's uncle, Captain Robert M. April. Mr. Chekov, you weren't here that long ago, but Captain April led this ship for a short time before I came on board."

"I remember him well!" Uhura exclaimed. "He always quoted Robert Frost before leaving the bridge at night. 'And miles to go before I sleep'... I'm sorry, I'm going on and on! I'm Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, communications."

"Pleased to meet you!" said Mary. They shook hands.

"My first officer, Mr. Spock," Kirk continued. Spock nodded his head politely at the new ensign.

"Hello," she said, a little shier than before. "I've heard a lot about you." She tried not to seem uncouth by staring at his pointed ears...

"Oh?" Spock cocked his eyebrow.

"Yes, the Captain--"

"And these are Pavel Chekov, your fellow navigator, and... Hikaru Sulu, our pilot." Kirk continued the tour. Chekov found her so charming that he found it possible to tear his eyes away from his African ladyfriend for a good seven seconds (!), and Sulu was thick into a conversation with her before long. It turned out that they shared an interest in swashbuckling stories and legends.

"Well, Mr. Chekov, now that she's here, you may take your leave of us for the time being." Kirk settled comfortably back into his chair.

"Thenk you, sir!" Chekov sprang up from his station and bounded to Uhura's side. At that moment, Henrietta, the backup comm officer with red hair, showed up to replace her, so luckily Uhura was able to go on break as well. She and Chekov disappeared together with table tennis on their minds... of course.

Mary settled into her chair and logged in to the navigational computer. "Wow, that was my first time doing that!" she remarked to Sulu in the middle of their conversation.

"Pretty important moment," he observed. "There's gonna be a lot of those."

"I heard so many stories from my uncle when I was growing up," she told him. "Now I can't believe I'm on his old ship!"

"'Mary S. April'," Sulu read off of the screen after she'd finished logging in. "What's the S stand for?"

"Shira," said Mary. "It means 'song' in Hebrew."

"That's very pretty," said Sulu.

Spock collected a few disks from his science station and approached Kirk. "Captain, as I am not needed on the bridge at this time, I wish to return to my experiments."

Kirk nodded. "You've been here longer than usual today, Spock. Go on ahead. I'll see you at dinnertime."

Spock disappeared into the turbolift. Before the doors closed in front of him, he caught the glint of a faraway pair of hazel eyes gazing at him. He was alone now, so he could at least allow himself the luxury of reacting to them.

"Is he always like that?" Mary April asked Sulu as she watched Spock leave.

"Oh, him?" Sulu jerked his head slightly at the science station, as if Spock was still there. "He's a Vulcan. Or half one, anyway. But that's what they're like."

"Only half...?" Mary asked. "What's the rest?"

"Human, believe it or not!" said Sulu. "But most of the time he acts pretty much all Vulcan."

"So... he doesn't feel any emotions? Or, wait, how does that work if he's half human?" Mary was intrigued.

"Most of the time he pretty much acts all Vulcan," said Sulu.

"I can see that," said Mary, smirking. "But I suppose sometimes his human half has to come out.... I mean, he must... be able to, well, you know, love..."

Sulu only grinned at her and she changed the subject back to swashbuckling. What a stupid conversation to get into, sitting there right in front of her new captain! *Silly Mary*, she told herself. *Focus on your new post.*

Captain Kirk gave her the destination for their next mission, and she plotted the course cheerfully. She was plotting a course on the Starship Enterprise! And the man next to her piloting that course was probably going to turn into a good friend.

She and Sulu continued their conversation while they worked. She almost didn't realize that an entire hour had gone by when something bleeped on her screen.

"Captain! I'm picking up a small shuttlecraft, Romulan design, bearing 103 mark 4 at a distance of 300 thousand kilometers. It appears to be drifting," she called out.

"On screen," commanded the captain. More buttons were punched, and soon the image of the silvery object appeared before them.

"There's only one life form aboard, sir," said Mary, "but from the heart-rate, it appears to have been knocked out." Imagine-- an unconscious Romulan! Not two hours into her very first mission.

"Shall I attempt hailing it, sir?" Henrietta asked from the communications desk.

Kirk frowned thoughtfully. "Inform the Romulan aboard that should he, or she, be able to answer, we require an explanation as to how that shuttlecraft got so far into Federation space."

"And if they don't respond? Whatever made the ship drift might be responsible for the lowered heart-rate," said Mary. She couldn't stop wondering what the Romulan inside was like. She knew that they had pointed ears like Vulcans...

"Lieutenant MacTavish," Kirk said to Henrietta. "See if you can tie in to an internal view of that vessel. Usually you can't do that to an enemy shuttlecraft, but if they're damaged, we might be able to--"

"I've already got it, sir," said Mary, both shyly and proudly.

"Good work, Ensign April!" Kirk. "All right, put it on screen."

An image of a utilitarian steel interior in disarray greeted their curious eyes. Floating objects and ship parts revealed that the gravity generator had been destroyed, and bits of broken glass were all over the place from where floating objects had contacted control panels. The lighting was dim and clearly battery-powered emergency backup. In the darkness Kirk could make out the figure of a woman, drifting, her black hair wafting around her head as if she were in the water like a mermaid. It clouded her face, but he could still see the undeniably pointed ears...

Kirk pressed a button on his controls and paged Spock. He explained the situation and then asked Spock to meet him in the transporter room. Mary couldn't stop herself from grinning when she heard his name.

* * *

"Be careful, Captain, this *could* be a trap," said Spock. He and the captain conferred in the corner of the transporter room.

"Yes, that's why they're here," Kirk said, gesturing to the crimson-clad security guards scattered all about the room with phasers drawn. "But we can't just leave her in there. She'd die! And a lot of other ships have obviously already ignored her."

"She *is* from an enemy planet," Spock pointed out. "They would have good reason to be wary."

"She's just a young girl, Spock!" Kirk smiled. "She looks even younger than Chekov!" Spock assented with a nod. "Energize," Kirk nodded to Scotty. Scotty shot him a skeptical look, but complied anyway.

As the Romulan girl's body started to materialize on the transporter pad, it suddenly occurred to Kirk that she was beaming out of a gravity-free environment and would fall hard on the floor as soon as she was solid. He dashed up onto the pad. Thanks to his quick thinking, when the girl materialized completely, instead of crashing down onto the floor she was caught in Kirk's strong arms.

She couldn't have been more than ninety pounds, ninety-five tops. Her long black hair was thick and curly and was held back in a high ponytail with an exotic-looking silver clip. Material of a gauzy sapphire blue hung in intricate drapes around her pale skin, and Kirk was well aware of her body’s warmth as he carried her off the transporter pad. He also noticed that her feet were bleeding.

“Bridge to Captain Kirk,” came Uhura’s voice over the loudspeaker.

Kirk walked with the girl in his arms to the comm unit on the wall and pressed it with the side of his arm. “This is the Captain.”

“Captain, I am receiving a transmission from Admiral Weinstein. He requests your immediate attention.”

“Patch it through to the transporter room in a moment, please. Kirk out.” Kirk approached Spock and deposited the unconscious girl into his waiting arms. “Spock, see that she gets to sickbay and have Dr. McCoy notify me the instant she starts coming around.”

“Acknowledged, Captain.” Spock cradled the Romulan in his strong wiry arms and carried her out of the room. Kirk’s eyes followed out into the hallway briefly. He knew he had never before seen anything filled with such exotic beauty.

The message from the Admiral proved to be predictably unimportant, and Kirk soon returned to the bridge until dinnertime. He joined Spock at a table and they began to eat.

Kirk noticed a flurry of blonde hair at his side and he flagged the new ensign down. “Miss April!”

“Yes, Captain?” Mary turned in flattered surprise.

“Come join us.” Kirk waved at the empty seats at his table.

Mary smiled and blushed pink, her eyes darting for a moment to Mr. Spock. “Thank you, Captain!” She placed her tray next to Kirk’s at the table, across and one seat over from the Vulcan.

“I see you have selected all plant-based foods,” pointed out Spock. “Are you a vegetarian?”

“No, this is just what looked good to me today,” said Mary. “Although I get that a lot because of how skinny I am.” *And I used to be self-conscious about it, imagine that, how funny!* she thought to herself.

“You are already handling yourself quite well on the bridge, Mary,” said the captain. “I just wanted to let you know that your first day is what everyone else wishes theirs would have been!”

“That’s very nice of you, sir,” said Mary, toying with her zucchini. *Wow, the crew on this ship is so friendly! Things couldn’t possibly be any better.*

Mr. Spock cleared his throat. “Do you sing, Miss April?”

* * *

A day and a half had passed and Mary was sitting behind the navigational controls again when the intercom sounded and Dr. McCoy’s voice came over the speakers. “McCoy to bridge.”

“Bridge,” said Kirk, punching buttons on his armrest.

“Jim, our Romulan princess’s woken up,” came the grouchy drawl. “She asked where she was, and as soon as she heard that she was on the Enterprise, she demanded to see 'that Vulcan’, as she called him.”

Kirk shot Spock a smirk. “Well, Bones... tell her... tell her 'that Vulcan’, along with the captain of the Enterprise, are coming down to see her right now.”

“Just a minute, Jim, I think... ok, this is a li’l strange... but okay...”

“What is it, Bones?” Kirk frowned and shook his head in puzzlement.

“Jim, she wants him to mind-meld with her to... to prove her innocence? What? Okay, okay. Jim, bring a female crewmember with you. She says she won’t feel safe if everybody’s male.”

“Might have had trouble like that back on Romulus,” Jim remarked to Spock.

“That may be the cause of her presence here,” Spock answered, nodding.

“I’ll need... a female crewmember to come along with Mr. Spock and I to sickbay.” Jim scanned the bridge visually.

“I can do it, sir!” Mary volunteered eagerly.

Kirk nodded, pleased.

When the three of them entered Sickbay, the Romulan girl sat bolt upright in bed. Her hair had come out of her ponytail slightly from fitful dreams, and her pounding heartbeat was almost visible to the four humans in the room. "You are Spock?" she demanded, eyes fixed on the first officer.

"I'm Captain James T. Kirk," said Kirk, stepping forward and extending his hand. He gestured with the other to Spock. "And yes, this is my first officer Mr. Spock."

"I am called Surila," said the Romulenne with an accent. She cast her eyes down upon Kirk's outstretched hand, then looked at Spock in confusion. Kirk realized that his gesture was foreign to her and withdrew his hand, but nodded his head slightly. "I seek asylum," she continued.

"Asylum?" asked Kirk calmly, sitting down beside her in one of the chairs on wheels. "Why? What have you done?"

Surila's small bosom heaved with emotion. "What I had to do! Nothing more than that. Never more!"

"We.... understand that, Surila," said Kirk soothingly. "But we're... going... to need... moreinformationthanthat." He looked at Spock.

"I wish to meld with the Vulcan," said Surila. "Otherwise I will never be sure you truly believe me."

McCoy was hovering close to Spock. "I'm not sure that I like this," he muttered into a pointed ear, loud enough for only Kirk to overhear. "What if she's on some kind of suicide mission to damage Spock's telepathic abilities?"

"Romulans do not possess such abilities, Doctor," said Spock. "I see no reason not to perform the meld. That way, she will be able to trust us, just as we will trust her."

"Only if you want to, Spock," Kirk reminded him gently. Mary hovered, transfixed.

Spock shot him a look and then approached Surila's bed. She waited patiently for him to calm himself ritualistically, and then leaned her face into his probing fingers. "My mind to your mind," Spock intoned, and Surila repeated after him in her strange accent. Their eyes closed and their faces seemed to drift away into someplace known only to them. Mary was fascinated.

"Here," said Kirk, standing up and offering Mary his chair. "Sit."

"Thank you, sir," said Mary, blushing. Had she really been that obvious about her staring?

Spock and Surila began to speak in turn. "We were... entertainer," said Spock.

"Court jester to a wealthy general," murmured Surila.

"Child prodigy. Future would be... bright," said Spock.

"Grew beautiful... too fast."

"Our lord and master..."

"Desired," both Spock and Surila breathed together. Mary and Captain Kirk both shivered a little.

"Desired to take us to his bed," said Spock.

"It was not a bed, it was the dining-room table," replied Surila.

"Held a knife... a knife to our throat..."

"Knife to our throat... threatened..."

"There was another knife..." said Spock.

"Another knife," Surila echoed, sing-song.

"There was another knife, and we had no choice," they said together.

"Didn't mean to kill him!" Surila's eyes suddenly brimmed over with tears. The sudden assault of alien emotion was too much for Spock, and he broke the meld.

"She is innocent," Spock told the three curious humans. "It was self-defense. I have seen it through her memories."

"And you fled...?" Kirk furrowed his brow.

"I would not have been believed. I knew that," said Surila. "Now you now the truth."

"And your shuttlecraft...?'' Kirk drew closer.

"Damaged," said Surila. "I do not even know where your ship is flying right now."

"Well, you're plenty far from home!" interjected Dr. McCoy.

"Home!" Surila spat. "I have no love of my warlike people. I am a creature of beauty and love. What luck is there for a gentle Romulan?" she said half-sorrowfully, half sardonically.

"Gentle? You just killed a man." *Why did you just say that, JT?* Kirk immediately thought.

"That was self-defense! Your Vulcan just told you so!"

"Sorry, you're right." Kirk sighed. He slapped his hands to his waist. "Well."

"Her story is consistent with the findings of the team working on her shuttlecraft," said Spock. "Which was, by the way, stolen."

"Ye-es," Surila admitted.

"All right. You don't want to go home, and they probably think you're dead anyway." Kirk paced. "What are we going to do with you?"

"I *am* an entertainer," offered Surila. "I can make my own way."

"Maybe she can perform for the crew, Captain!" suggested Mary.

"Good idea, Ensign," said Kirk, turning to Mary. "At least.... until we can find her a more permanent place to stay." He paused. "Oh, Surila, this is Ensign Mary April, our newest navigator. She's... quite a woman, as we in the bridge crew are already finding out!"

Mary grinned and blushed. "Hi," she waved to Surila.

"Hello, Mary," said Surila.

"Surila, when you feel well enough to get out of bed, I'd love to show you around the ship," said Kirk.

"Thank you, Captain. I am grateful-- to all of you-- for your support." Surila settled back down into her pillows, a childlike goddess of haphazardly scattered black curls and pale, clear skin. She breathed a sigh of relief and watched the three non-medical humans leave, fixing in her memory an image of gold.

* * *

It was days later when Mary looked up from her navigation console to see the Captain and Surila entering from the open turbolift doors. Spock vacated Kirk's post but stayed nearby. "Are you enjoying your tour, Miss Surila?" asked Kirk as he slid into his chair, his eyes tangled up in black hair.

"I am grateful for your attention to me," Surila said. "I wonder if you would be so generous as to allow me to stay on the bridge for a while."

"Be my guest," Kirk offered graciously. Surila immediately found a place in front of him, between the navigation console and Sulu's place.

"You are the navigator?" Surila asked Mary.

Mary nodded. "I'm good at memorizing things, which is good for this job even though everything's computerized anyway."

"I can memorize dances and even invent them," said Surila, "but never star charts. I have no head for science."

"Well, when I was younger, I used to turn science I had to memorize into a song," said Mary. "Probably the only song that exists about the halogen series, right?"

"What's that?" asked Surila.

"Have you heard of the periodic table?" Mary didn't know quite where to begin, but smiled and tried to explain.

Spock watched Mary, amused in his own, half-Vulcan way. Kirk, too, glanced over at the girls from time to time as he filled out paperwork and talked with Spock and Uhura about their next mission.

"Your captain is a very good man," said Surila after a while.

Mary nodded. "He's nearly perfect, I'd say." She smiled. "Although that tends to make someone sound annoying, doesn't it?"

"Nobody is perfect, Mary!" Surila winked. "Captain Kirk probably eats live kllhe when nobody's watching."

"What are those?"

"It is a worm that ingests the droppings of a Romulan bird.".

Mary burst out laughing. "Well, what about Mr. Spock, then? He can't be perfect but there doesn't seem to be anything the matter with him either."

"You are not saying all that you are thinking," Surila pointed out.

"So when are you going to dance for us?" said Mary, jackknifing the subject abruptly.

Surila smirked knowingly at the navigator but answered the question anyway. "In a few days I will dance. And according to Jim, you will also sing? A duet with Lieutenant Uhura and to Mr. Spock's lyre?"

"Yes... you called him 'Jim'?"

"Oh! Forgive me, he said it was all right with him." Surila looked a twinge embarrassed.

"If it's okay with him, it's okay with me," said Mary. "So you'll be performing at the Spring Equinox party too?"

"I cannot wait to be useful once again," said Surila, stretching back dramatically. It attracted the attention of everyone on the bridge and showed a little more of her flesh than her usual posture allowed. She was well aware of this and was innerly pleased.

* * *

More days passed. Mary was nearing the end of her shift on the night of the Terran Spring Equinox, and hoped she wasn't disturbing anybody with her sotto voce vocal warmups. She felt bad for telling Sulu she had to sing Me May Ma Mo Mu instead of continue their conversation about feudal Japan, but she knew he'd understand. He was so nice! Everybody here was so nice, and so interesting.

And then there was that one who was definitely *more* interesting. Who was becoming... special.

The turbolift doors slid open and Mary turned to face Mr. Spock and Mr. Chekov, who were heading towards their respective stations. "Miss April, as you have completed your shift, you may practice your singing somewhere else," said Spock, gracefully perching himself in the science chair.

Kirk smirked. Mary blushed. "Thank you, Mr. Spock. See you at the party, Hikaru!" she waved to Sulu as she exited the bridge.

"You seem to be getting to know her pretty vell!" Pavel Chekov observed to his pilot friend as he logged into the navigation computer. "Is there, you know, anything..." He waved his hand around in the air vaguely, presumably to signify a question of romance.

"Nah, she's friendly enough, but she's got her heart stuck on someone else," Sulu said, smiling a little wistfully. "Not that... well..."

"Vy? Do you know who it is?" Chekov bent in closer and asked in a hissed whisper.

Sulu nodded conspiratorially and whispered back. Chekov's eyes widened when he heard the name. "Really?" the Russian chuckled.

Sulu nodded again, slower and more dramatically this time. "Although, you could really see that one coming from a mile away, Pavel. I could see it from the beginning."

A few decks away in the hallway, Mary's mind traversed a similar path as she walked to the rec room where the party would later be. For days, her mind had been filled with a face, a voice, a vision in blue. They barely knew each other... and she had no reason to suppose that her case was anything but hopeless. *Silly Mary,* she told herself. *Mom knew the first thing you'd do up there in space was fall in love with an alien. You're so predictable!*

She wondered how obvious she was in her affections. Mary had never been very good at hiding her emotions.

She pushed open the door to the rec room and once again began to sing.

She was still there, fooling around on the piano, when other crewmembers started to filter in for the party. "Nyota!" she squealed, bouncing over to the Lieutenant in the red dress. "I can't wait. This is going to be so great!"

"I'm glad you're so enthusiastic!" Uhura exclaimed. "You have so much energy for someone who just exercised and then worked a bridge shift."

"Runs in the family, I guess," said Mary. "Here comes the Captain!"

Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock had arrived through another door. Spock carried his Vulcan lyre, and was toying with the tuning pegs as they walked, talking under-breath at each other. The room was filling with people, and their happy murmurs blurred together into the voice of the ship itself. Mary was excited. Everyone was excited!

Surila was suddenly leaning up against the piano finishing up her leg-stretches. She could feel several pairs of eyes on her, including the Captain's, as she formed them into a perfectly flat 180-degree angle in the air, and this pleased her. With her body and her athletic abilities, she would make art, and she would be whole.

And she would be dancing for the hazel-eyed one, who she had first seen in the sickbay of this strange, alien vessel. If there was a future for her that involved lots of gazing into those eyes... she would dance for that. And she had good reason to believe that such a future was within reach.

Of course, she knew little of humans. But what better way to learn?

When Spock was tuned up to the best of his satisfaction, Uhura led him and Mary to the front of the room and clapped her hands loudly. "Who wants to hear some music?" she called happily, beaming. The room erupted into a disorganized cheer. "It gives me great pleasure to present our new navigator, Miss Mary April!"

Mary smiled broadly at the room and waved her hand. She felt great! Some of the faces in the crowd grinning back at her were already close friends. She could see Sulu sitting with Chekov over to the left. Dr. McCoy and Nurse Chapel were more towards the center, and the Captain himself was just now joining them.

She and Uhura sang a few duets, accompanied by Mr. Spock on his lyre, and then she sat down and let Uhura perform some solos. When the Lieutenant was finished and had also sat down, Surila appeared from her perch behind the piano and started to dance.

White arms writhing like twin snakes, dancing to an imagined flute... soft curves born of motion, and disappearing away into waves of azure fabric... the rhythm that Spock played was Surila's heartbeat, and as the emotion of the dance subtly increased, so did the speed of that beat. The room was transfixed, but just as she knew would happen, Surila danced for one only, one human only, expressing herself desperately and trying to draw out the declarations. She was singing as well, but there were no words.

Kirk was transfixed, his eyes never leaving the stage even for the temporarily blankness of his own eyelids. He would have thought it was the music, had he not known in the deepest parts of his heart that even without song and dance he was completely in love. Music only brought these feelings to the surface, and he felt his face flush. His eyes, and his heart with them, had been captured by this creature both pale and dark, born on a faraway planet to an alien culture. Kirk knew he could be the welcoming arms that culture wasn't. He wished the performance would never end; but at the same time he could not wait for a time when they could finally be alone.

Surila worked herself into a trance, reaching out towards the one in gold, spinning like a pinwheel, her hair streaming behind her head. She could feel those hazel eyes seeping across her body like heated honey, waking passions and inspiring new ecstasies of dance. When this dance was over, would the real one begin?

Spock seemed unaffected by the eroticism of Surila's dance, but he adapted his music to perfectly suit her style. He found it artistically challenging to play for a dancer who varied her tempo, and hoped there would be more opportunities like this one with which to collaborate in the future. He strummed and plucked his strings, his fingers tickling the instrument like a lover.

Mary didn't realize she'd been staring at the stage almost without breathing the whole time until Uhura snapped her fingers in her ear. "Psst! You okay?"

"Hmm?" Mary turned to look at Uhura, who was giving her a sly look.

"Stop staring so hard, your eyes'll get full," Uhura winked back, and then returned her own attention to the stage.

*Well, there went any hope of not being completely obvious,* Mary told herself, but was quickly swept away again into her romantic dreams. Was she even noticed, in all this crowd?

Spock's fingers moved sensually, and for a brief moment his eyes fell on a human face in the audience. For that instant, the music grew so poignant that even Surila, for once, changed her dance to suit him instead of the other way around. A spark seemed to flicker in the air at the peak of the arc where their gazes met each other. Then, just as suddenly, the moment was gone, lost in more of the music.

Spock played his lyre.

The dance ended to thunderous applause. The crew sprang to their feet in ovation. Besides, it was time to stand up, because there was now food and drink at the ready.

Kirk mingled until the end of the party. When everyone else was gone, he found Surila, again standing beside the piano. "That was some dance!" he said.

Surila looked up at him through long dark lashes. "I was grateful for the music. And for your hospitality."

"We... I... might be able to offer you more than that," said Kirk. "Have you thought any more about what you'd like to do with your life?"

"I want to go to Earth," said Surila. "I told you that."

"I know," said the captain. "But..."

"I want to live among those who are at peace," said Surila. "I want to look up at a sky and not be afraid of what is hiding behind its clouds. I want to be able to love the nighttime. And I want to become educated. I am tired of knowing only what is pretty for a dancer."

"There is a way for you to do all this," said Kirk gently. "I've talked with my mother. She still lives on the farm where I grew up, in a place on Earth called Iowa."

"Iowa," Surila repeated. "Sounds like a vocalization from a song-- without words!"

"If you'd like, Surila, you can stay at my mother's house and help her on the farm. There's a university not far away, and she'll help teach you until you're ready to start going to classes there." Kirk paused, watching his words wash over her slowly brightening face. "My nephew lives there. They'll help you learn how to explore a world in peace, just.... as you wanted."

"You would do this for me? She would do this for me?" Surila grabbed his hand and stared at him in wonder.

"Human compassion," Kirk said. "For a lost soul who is... searching."

"I thank you for this. Truly. With all my very being." They stood there for a moment, and then she turned to go. Kirk followed her into the hallway and watched her enter the turbolift. "Deck--"

"Wait, I'm coming too." Kirk dashed in before the doors shut. Surila's fragrance filled the small compartment.

* * *

Alone, Spock's thoughts explored this half-alien notion that was the exploration of love. Fine strands of blonde hair had caught his heart in a shimmering net of longing, but he knew it was not based on appearance alone. No Vulcan would ever love anyone merely for their beauty.... he had found someone brilliant, capable, and sparkling of personality.

Every minute was an adventure!

Suddenly, Spock turned and faced the human he had come to... love.

* * *

Mary had hidden herself away in the turbolift to get away from revealing her ever-increasing desires in front of the crowd of people. She told it to go to the observation deck, haphazardly guessing that she could be alone there to work through her feelings in private and calm the hell down. She had never before in her life fallen in love so quickly, and with somebody so completely out of reach.

The turbolift doors slid open and Mary gasped. She would not be alone in this room filled with stars. A figure in blue stood before her, with dark eyes peering at her smolderingly from beneath slanted eyebrows and black hair. They stood, frozen, unable to speak now that they were finally alone together.

"I-- I didn't know anyone was in here," Mary stuttered when she finally found her tongue. She gestured halfheartedly at the door. "I can go, if you wanted to be alone..." How she longed for the negation of that offer!

"That is not what I desire."

Mary opened her mouth but had been rendered temporarily speechless again. "That was... really... great, before, at the party," she finally squeaked.

"Your voice is very pleasing." Mary's head swam at these words. She had never prepared herself for a fantasy that actually came true!

"Thank you, S-" Mary started to say, but her words died again in her choked throat. And suddenly they were closer together. Neither one could say who moved first, but it could not be denied that the distance between them was now close enough to feel the other's breath in the air.

"I have felt your attentions, Mary."

"How?" Mary asked, even though she knew how obvious she had been. Well, maybe that wasn't such a bad thing, now! If only her heart would stop making her almost seasick with its pounding...

"You do not hide your feelings one bit, Mary!" Mary blushed, wondering where this adventure would lead. "So human."

"But what about you?" Mary whispered. Was she being deliberately humiliated, or seduced? There were definitely no rules to this that she had ever read anywhere.

There was a long pause. "From the moment I noticed you I knew I could not forget you. You are a female of great beauty and intelligence. And there is something else, something... alien to me... delight! You are full of... delight."

Mary's eyes sparkled. "You love me?"

"I have never known the kind of love you mean, but perhaps you will care to show me."

A pale hand with long, slender fingers reached for Mary's hand and molded two of her fingers together. The navigator stood, trembling, awestruck at the simple majesty of the alien kiss. Their hands caressed in ritual, the act both calming and more exciting than anything she had ever known.

"What about human kisses?" asked Mary. "With-- lips." She suddenly felt very silly. Was it all right for her to request this? What was this going to be like?

Her only answer was a sultry nod.

Finally taking the lead, Mary placed both her hands on Surila's slender waist and pulled her close. "You smell like lilacs," Mary murmured into a pointed ear.

"I hope that is something good," said the Romulenne. They were close enough for Mary to feel that her heart was pounding too, although it was lower down than a human's.

"It's the most beautiful flower I've ever seen," whispered Mary, and kissed her.

They stood there in the observation deck, kissing, caressing, and finally talking openly for hours. There in the Starship Enterprise, in the middle of the night, something clicked between these two children of different planets, of different cultures, of different species. There in the light of the stars that shone through the viewing windows upon pure love, a being of pointed ears and slanted eyebrows that had never felt at home on its birth planet loved, kissed, and made life promises to a golden human that satisfied the other half of its soul.

"We have seen this before," the stars said sagely to each other.

Back in Commander Spock's cabin, Captain James T. Kirk emerged from the bathroom and returned to his friend's side in the bed. "Are you going to put that down anytime soon?" Kirk squinted at the small print on the cover of the journal Spock was reading.

"One moment, Jim, I am nearly finished with Dr. Rockwood's paper on phytoremediation," said Spock. He didn't look up from his page, but he did let his free hand wander over to Jim's shoulder, which he squeezed comfortingly.

Jim sighed happily and laid back against his pillow. "Back in the 20th century on Earth, people used to... smoke... after sex. You're a Vulcan; you read botanical journals."

Spock looked at him. "Smoking is hazardous to the health and would be an illogical post-amorous activity."

They shared a look. *Just kidding,* they told each other mentally, without needing to.

"Ensign April seemed quite amused by our relationship," commented Spock. "What exactly did you say to her when you first transported her up to the ship?"

"I don't remember," Kirk said playfully. "I... probably just talked about you enough to spark her curiosity."

Eventually they slept. The Romulan girl, incidentally, slept in Mary April's room. Chekov slept in Uhura's room, with Sulu passed out in her bathtub. Scotty slept with the engines. Nurse Chapel fell asleep at her desk and drooled in exactly the shape of a pointed ear.

Just another night on the Starship Enterprise.

end

Pairings: Mary/Su (or April/Fool... she was a jester, remember? :-P), K/S, U/C Yes, I actually used a checklist of Don'ts just to make sure my Mary Sue was as Mary Sueish as she could possibly be!! Do righteous! (Oh, and thanks, Salatrel, for the Romulan cultural details.)

Note: Lt. Henrietta MacTavish is my made-up name for the redhaired comm. Officer in Turnabout Intruder. She also has a cameo in Flower Power.

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