"Please watch out for her, Hikaru-kun," Yeoman Tamura's parents had smilingly begged Lt. Sulu when their daughter had first joined the Enterprise crew. Their families had been friends since before Sulu was born, and he had fond memories of growing up around her. His own sister wasn't interested in the things he liked; she'd rather gossip about vid-stars and hack computer programs than read adventure stories and act them out on the playground, or learn about new plants. Little Setsuko, on the other hand, was always ready to let Hikaru act as her big brother and teach her everything he knew, and they had always had fun together despite the ten year age difference.
"Please watch out for her." Mr. and Mrs. Tamura knew how dangerous life could be aboard a starship out in the midst of space. Hikaru was ready to guide their daughter and make sure she had the most rewarding experience possible during the mission.
But sometimes lesser misfortunes plague even the most protected of crewmembers...
"Eeeewww!" Tamura cried out piteously, flailing around helplessly in the vat of fish. The natives at the market who were standing nearby merely laughed and went back to their grocery shopping.
Sulu sighed, and reached his hand out over the edge of the tub towards the struggling yeoman. This away mission was turning into a piteous comedy of errors. First a group of small native children had noticed Spock's ears and concluded that he fit the exact description of their planet's version of Santa Claus, and had been following him around all day telling him what they wanted for the upcoming holidays. Then Kirk's shirt had snagged on a nail and been ripped clean in half. He was now walking around in his black uniform undershirt, and Sulu didn't know what was embarassing Spock more, the children following him around as if he were the Pied Piper or the fact that Jim now looked like he was ready to go out to a dance club.
They'd only come here to sign a treaty, but had been set loose wandering in the market for a few hours before their meeting with the Governor of the city. It seemed he had double-booked his morning and would be happy to meet with them after lunch... wouldn't they enjoy a stroll in the marketplace in the meantime?
Sure they would. "Please watch out for her," Setsuko's parents' words echoed again in Sulu's mind as he tensed his muscles, letting the dripping girl hang onto his wrist with both hands. She shouldn't have fallen in. She was just peering inside to see what was there, and one brief dizzy spell later-- fish.
"Thanks," Tamura mumbled as Sulu lifted her out of the vat. He wrinkled his nose and held his breath as he drew her closer. "I'm so sorry. Oh dear, oh dear..."
"You alright, Setsuko?" Sulu asked as he let her down standing.
She nodded slowly. "I still feel a little dizzy. I think it was the smell." She looked up at Captain Kirk with a bright red face. "I'm sorry, Captain. I'm so embarrassed."
Kirk nodded at her. "It seems we're not destined to look our best today, Yeoman."
Setsuko declined to point out that whereas her misfortune had indeed transformed her into an oily, smelly mess, his own clothing mishap had resulted in his becoming even more attractive.
She and Sulu tried to wipe the fish oil off of her skin with some paper towels at the nearest shop, but it was already sinking into her skin. "What am I going to do?" she whispered in alarm.
"I guess you'll just have to stay this way until we beam back to the ship," said Sulu. "Captain Kirk doesn't seem to think it's a big enough deal to order you back to the ship."
"But it's going to sink in by then!" she cried.
Sulu shrugged. "Maybe Uhura will lend you some of her lilac bath suds," he suggested.
"But then I'll smell like lilac fish."
The rest of the mission was absolutely wretched for Yeoman Tamura. She was very aware that Kirk, Spock, and even Sulu were standing as far away from her as politely possible, and the Governor and his attendants had stared at her pointedly until she excused herself to get some fresh air. And she still had to struggle with the odor herself! It was the most wretchedly pungent fish smell she'd ever encountered in her life. If not for her strong stomach, she'd have lost her lunch and breakfast hours ago.
She thought about the date they had planned for tonight. Lieutenant M'Ress, the gruff, sexy Caitian woman who ran the midnight comm shift, was supposed to come over to her quarters and watch a movie with her. She'd been looking forward to it all week. Comm officers got very little break time, and she really liked M'Ress. She'd felt so lucky when the cat woman decided that she was attractive and fun.
Now she didn't know what to do. She stunk to high heaven and would probably make M'Ress keel over if she took one step towards her. The thought of disgusting the woman she liked so much made her eyes well up with tears. So much for her little perfect date!! Wahh.
She was still moping when they beamed back up to the ship later. Sulu tried to comfort her, but he couldn't take enough of the smell to remain by her side for long.
She didn't have the heart to contact M'Ress and break the date. Instead, she hurried to her quarters and ran straight into the shower with her clothes on. Pushing a lock of black hair, slick with oil, out of her face, she turned on the water.
She pressed some more buttons. The shower didn't come on.
She stepped out of the shower and then noticed that the message light on her computer was beeping. "Computer, play message," she said.
"Yeoman Tamura, this is Mr. Phillips in Engineering. We noticed this morning that the heat settings on your shower were short-circuiting. We're fixing it and you should have water back by tomorrow morning."
With a sob, Tamura whirled around and hurled herself back into the shower. She shriveled into a corner, slid down the wall, and crumpled into a pile of girl on the tiled floor.
Her face was buried in her arms and she almost didn't hear the door chime. "Who is it?" she asked through tears."
"It's M'Ress, doll. Can I come in?"
Kuso. "Umm..... I don't know," she called back.
"What's the matter? Come on, let me in. We have a date."
"I... my shower's broken," Tamura called back lamely.
"I fell in a vat of fish on my away mission," said Tamura. "And I smell completely horrible. And I can't even wash it off."
"Let me in, doll." The Caitian's voice was growing stricter.
"Let me in!"
Tamura paused for a second. "Come," she finally said in defeat.
She heard the door slide open and shut and then M'Ress's pawsteps approaching on the cheap carpet of her cabin. "Hey there, doll. Wow, that smell is pretty strong."
Tamura lifted her head. "See? Told you. I'm unbearable. And it's sinking into my skin."
"Who told you it was unbearable?" M'Ress stepped into the shower with her.
Tamura looked at her in surprise. "Everybody's-- avoiding me! Plus, I have to deal with it. It sure smells awful to me."
M'Ress laughed raucously. "Yes, doll, but you're a human. I, on the other hand, happen to find your new aroma particularly enticing."
Realization started to dawn in Tamura's face. "You're felinoid..."
"That's right, Setsuko, and all cats like fish, don't they?"
Yeoman Tamura grinned as M'Ress pulled her closer and began to lick her face.
Chibi illo by Mina
Note: Hey, if y'all like this pairing and want me to write an, um, "yiffy" sequel, let me know ;-)
And "kuso" means "shit!"