"I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You"
Lieutenant T'Ayia Llire
Historian’s Note: This story takes place
on board the USS Lexington approximately two years before Stev’s shuttle
Helm Log 11.IX.2308:
We have docked at Starbase 27. Umbilical power
lines and pressurized gangways have been extended and secured. Helm is at
Stev set the appropriate systems at his station
to standby and leaned back in his seat, his mind on thoughts other than the
bridge of the Lexington. He stood and walked to center seat.
"Yes, Lieutenant?" replied the deep vibrato of
the commanding officer.
"I am requesting the use of the Essex for my
shore leave, sir."
Bo Donati arched his eyebrow in a most non-Vulcan
manner, the grin on his face giving way to a knowing smile. "What's wrong with
the commercial transports, Stev?"
"Nothing, they are adequate for their function.
The Essex is in need of a complete systems workout to make sure it is
functioning to specified norms. The repairs it needed after our last mission
have been made and it needs an experienced pilot to put it through its paces.
"That is a logical reason isn't it Lieutenant.
Yes, you and T'Aiya may use the Essex to get to Earth. Just don't run out of
gas," he concluded with a grin.
Stev suppressed his comment and nodded. He then
made his way to communications. His friend Ensign Cary would have to help him
with one last preparation before he packed. Buffy readily agreed to help the
Vulcan out. She assured him that the matter would be taken care of discreetly.
Stev wondered to himself as he left the bridge, why his crewmates were taking
such an active interest in his and T’Aiya’s shore leave.
Stev packed what few casual clothes he had and
left his quarters. He still needed to drop Phread off at Richard’s quarters
before he left and for some reason the thought of having T'Aiya see the Essex in
the disarrayed state it was currently in was almost enough to provoke an
From the communications console on the bridge,
Ensign Buffy Cary paged T'Aiya in her quarters. She had just notified Stev of
the completed arrangements in Paris and wondered why this Vulcan couple would
want to go to Earth. Before she could answer herself, T'Aiya answered at her
"Lieutenant Llire," Buffy began, "prepare to
receive a transmission from Starfleet Headquarters. Instructions were to deliver
the message directly to you rather than your e-mail."
"Understood Lieutenant." Responded T'Aiya as she
put a disk in the computer console to receive the message. "You may begin
After signing off from Lieutenant Llire, Buffy
wondered briefly what all the protocol was about. The message was not classified
and the captain had already been informed of the unusual procedure. He did ask
to see the message, but then gave permission for her to deliver it. She even
read it herself, as it was her job to screen anything that seemed unusual. All
the message said was that T'Aiya had permission to do some research in the
Starfleet Communications Archives. Then the console lit up, demanding Buffy's
attention and she forgot about the incident, she had more important matters to
In her quarters, T'Aiya read the message that had
been downloaded onto a disk she had prepared for this particular file. With the
stroke of a key on her keyboard, the message developed a second layer. With
another stroke, a brief, hidden message was revealed.
"Your request to view the communiqué originating
from the Romulan Empire for the date you specified is granted. It will be
waiting for you at the appointed place, computer address included. Your
cooperation in this matter is appreciated."
T'Aiya memorized the computer address of the
"appointed place" and deleted the message, as well as the specialized program
that revealed the hidden part of the message. As far as she knew, no one would
ever be able to decode the hidden part of the message without the program. Even
though it would remain in the ships archives, the message itself was programmed
so that the hidden message would deteriorate after twenty four hours.
She was finally beginning to look forward to the
shore leave she and Stev had planned to take on Earth. T'Aiya had been quite
willing to stay shipside, as she had a lot of work to catch up on after being
incapacitated from her incident in engineering, but both Doctors Sarak and
T'Kara had insisted she take leave.
Sarak had tried to talk T'Aiya into going to
Vulcan with him, but she would not hear of it. T'Aiya's family still wanted
nothing to do with her and in spite of Sarak's best intentions; T'Aiya saw no
reason to stir old memories. When Stev asked her to accompany him to Earth,
T'Aiya saw the opportunity to visit the many arboretums and Xenolife centers
available there as well as spend some quality time with the man who was becoming
more important to her. Given the deepening nature of their relationship, T’Aiya
also knew that it was time to tell Stev her secrets.
For the first time, T'Aiya turned her attention
to packing the few items she felt she would need.
Stev walked to the shuttlebay where the Essex sat
on her berth. While he conducted a pre-flight walk around and manually checked
all her systems, he spot-cleaned the pristine shuttle. The Essex checked out
optimum on all levels but Stev was still unsatisfied with her appearance. Stev
thought to the poetry from Terra's mid-twentieth century of which he was so
fond. He now had an idea why poetry about mating rituals of adolescent humans
seemed to spend in inordinate amount of time talking about ground conveyances.
Stev smiled to himself and whistled the tune to a poem he had recently finished
translating, "Little Deuce Coupe". He then pick up a cloth and began polishing
the Essex's exterior as he waited for T'Aiya to arrive.
T’Aiya arrived momentarily carrying her duffle.
She approached the shuttle opposite the side that Stev was currently polishing.
Stev could feel his pulse quicken at her approach. His telepathy was beginning
to key in on her presence. They had been dating for a little over a year and he
found himself thinking more and more of a ‘them’ when thinking ahead: ‘What will
we do for dinner?’; ‘Shall we go see the concert in the ship’s lounge?’.
"I am over on this side T’Aiya," he said loud
enough for her to hear.
"How did you know it was me?" She called back.
Stev stopped polishing the now gleaming exterior
and walked around the front of the shuttle to find his shonmano. "If I were
human I would undoubtedly say something romantic at this point. Since I am not,
I shall simply tell you that I am beginning to telepathically sense your
"But we, as a race, are touch telepaths."
"True but in this instance as in all things
Vulcan, I am somewhat of an anomaly when it comes to our race."
T’Aiya smiled, "Stev you are the master of the
Stev, in the Vulcan equivalent of a kiss, brushed
the first two fingers of his right hand against her face and smiled back. He
took her bag, palmed the hatch, and in a two-handed gesture indicated she should
After making sure that each of them were strapped
in Stev fired up the Essex’s engines.
"Essex to Lexington," Stev said as he toggled the
"Go ahead," Buffy’s voice came clearly over the
"Requesting permission to depart."
Instead of Buffy’s voice Captain Donati’s
answered back. "Permission granted, Lieutenant. Just make sure you fill the tank
and have T’Aiya home by midnight."
As laughter from the bridge echoed across the
comm line, Stev replied, "Aye sir." Closing the channel he looked at T’Aiya’s
"I believe our shipmates are having a good laugh
at our expense," she said.
"I concur. Though you will notice our Captain did
not specify which midnight I need to have you home by."
Un-Vulcanlike laughter filled the tiny craft as
it departed the Lexington’s shuttlebay.
The Essex sliced through the quiet emptiness of
space with a grace and sense of purpose that belied the conversation taking
"What do you mean you don't want to go to
Graceland?" Stev asked T’Aiya. "I was planning on showing you the home of the
legendary 20th century poet Elvis Presley." For some time he had been planning
on sharing this momentous portion of the trip with the woman who meant so much
"That was thoughtful of you Stev," T'Aiya
replied. "But I do have business that needs attended to with Starfleet
Communications Archives; it will only take half a day," she paused. There simply
isn't enough time for all that you have planned on this shore leave," she added
thinking of Stev’s rather lengthy list ‘must sees’ and shook her head. "Besides,
I would rather spend time walking through an arboretum than reliving the poetry
of Mr. Presley."
Stev arched his eyebrow, "Unless I am mistaken,
you show a clear dislike of Mr. Presley's work."
"Let's just say that after my tour of duty on the
Exeter, too much of anything will take its toll on someone. Now what about the
rest of the trip?"
"I had planned on landing at the Des Moines
spaceport since the arboretum is in Des Moines and Admiral Kirk’s birthplace is
only a short tram ride away. It should not take me too long to get to Memphis
and back. I had then thought about the two of us taking the tram to Riverside to
visit the Kirk memorial after the arboretum and then taking the Essex to the
special surprise tonight."
T'Aiya arched her left eyebrow at Stev's last
comment. An almost imperceptible look of resignation crossed her face before she
replied, "That is the most logical course of action, and Des Moines would be
fine. I can access the Communications Archives from Starfleet Offices located
there, and I would rather visit the arboretum with you."
Stev smiled inwardly as he caught her reaction,
"What about Neila?" he inquired. "It has been very quiet." Stev thought that the
little shifter would have been more than excited about this trip.
"As you know" T'Aiya explained, "Neila does not
actually sleep. Even when I am resting, it keeps a meditative watch over me. I
am, after all, its host and its survival does depend on mine and vice versa.
However, especially after aiding me through my recent injuries from our last
mission, even shifters like Neila need to rest."
T'Aiya gently caressed the golden-spotted,
bangle-shaped, shifter that was wrapped so tightly against her wrist, something
she would not do in front of many people. However, T'Aiya, after more than a
year of being around him, was feeling more and more comfortable around Stev
lately. She did find it disconcerting that there was no response from her little
companion, even though she knew its injuries were severe.
"For the duration of our shore leave and perhaps
a little while after, Neila will be in something of a deep trance, unaware of
events or its surroundings. It is my turn to look after Neila's safety during
this time. This rest is quite overdue and Neila is very deep into it."
Stev said nothing as he brought the Essex in for
a landing. The little craft settled into dock in the Des Moines spaceport
smoothly and efficiently. Stev opened the hatch when she had nestled to a stop.
As the pair began walking towards the terminal
Stev asked, "How much time do you need to access those files from Starfleet's
"Three hours should be enough time."
"That is fine; the trip to Memphis will take
approximately 20 minutes. The tour of Graceland will take approximately 90
minutes. Shall we meet at the arboretum at 1500 hours?"
"That is acceptable. I will see you then."
Stev caught a transport bound for Memphis as
T'Aiya boarded the downtown tram.
20 minutes later Stev was walking through
Memphis. He walked with his feet ten feet off of Beale. However without T’Aiya,
did he really feel the way he felt? He had purchased an information PADD about
Elvis at the Memphis terminal. He opted for voice output so he could absorb the
information and reach his destination quickly. The device lit up and began its
"Elvis Aaron Presley is one of the most well
known personalities of the twentieth century. His songs have been translated
into every major language of Earth, Andorian, both major groups of Vulcan, as
well as many other languages of the Federation. Work is now underway to
translate his poetry into Klingon as part of the cultural exchange between..."
Stev paused the oration and scanned the PADD for information on Elvis's home as
he turned onto Union Avenue. He half expected to see the ghost of Elvis but did
"Graceland," the PADD started its new narrative.
"Graceland was Elvis's home for most of his adult life. It survived intact, the
Eugenics wars of the late twentieth century as well as the nuclear holocaust of
World War three. It is one of the few North American landmarks to survive
unscathed." Stev stopped the device as he entered the line of people from all
over the Federation waiting to gain admittance to the home of the king.
Stev's sharp eye noticed that he was the only
Vulcan standing in line. He also noticed that he was receiving curious looks
from the other tourists. Stev choose to ignore the stares. As he walked through
the line he realized that most Vulcans would never have come to such a place
which glorified such an illogical lifestyle. Stev thought about what attracted
him to poetry of Terra's twentieth century and realized that it was an illogical
notion, but he was attracted to the simple beauty of the imagery.
The tour encompassed the entire bottom floor of
the residence. The tour guide explained that no one had been upstairs in nearly
250 years. Stev walked silently amongst the group and began to wonder why a trip
which he had been anticipating for some time was not meeting his expectations.
The notion that he was missing something nagged at the back of Stev's mind
throughout most of the tour. When the tour stopped in the Garden of Meditation,
Stev gazed at the resting places of the Presley family. He had almost identified
the piece that his subconscious kept saying was missing, when his gaze fell on
the side by side graves of Elvis and his wife Priscilla. Stev knew what was
missing from this trip to Memphis; he pulled out his communicator and requested
a direct beam out to the Des Moines arboretum. He wasn't going to let the
missing piece go missing much longer.
The trip to the Des Moines spaceport had been
blissfully uneventful. After all the excitement on the Lexington, T'Aiya was
grateful for the quiet journey. Even Stev’s occasional jokes branded with his
own personal humor (though she did admit to herself she was beginning to
appreciate that unusual aspect of her shonmano as well) did not dissuade her
from appreciating the view of multitudes of stars extending out beyond the
imagination and admiring each of the planets as they glistened like colorful
gemstones as they approached the Sol system. As an engineer, T'Aiya did not get
to see as much of the treasures of space as she would like. The view was, for
her, a gift in itself.
After arriving at the Des Moines spaceport and
arranging the rendezvous with Stev, T'Aiya headed directly for the Starfleet
Communications Archives Annex in Des Moines, across the street from the
gold-domed Capitol Building. As she approached the building, T'Aiya began to
think about the information she might find. Before now, she had not allowed
herself the luxury of pondering its content. Perhaps she was more afraid of what
she would not find, and her Vulcan training would not allow her to speculate on
what she did not know. It would have been a waste of time and energy and that
was illogical. None-the-less, the very sensitive Antosioan part of her did tend
The grounds around the Starfleet Office were
perfectly landscaped. Trimmed, but not controlled, creating a very natural,
relaxing atmosphere. As she entered the high ceilinged building, the huge room
and simple decor reminded her of some of the official offices of Vulcan. A "get
your business done" no-nonsense type of feeling. She approached the front desk
and gave her name.
"Yes Lieutenant, if you will please go to room
307, the files you requested have received special clearance, your eyes only,
and are waiting for you," said a very professional receptionist.
After a brief trip in the glass elevator, T'Aiya
found room 307. She entered, locked the door, seated herself in the only chair
and accessed the terminal. The room was simple a cubicle with one door and no
windows, one computer terminal and one chair. All in a boring beige.
T'Aiya accessed one of the files at the computer
address she had received earlier. There were two files in two different
locations. One location was quite obscure and it actually took a few moments to
access the site. T'Aiya never found out exactly where that file came from or who
provided it for her. She downloaded the data file from the obscure location and
the communiqué from another.
It was a more or less standard procedure. She
would not be allowed to discuss the contents of this message with anyone without
direct permission from Starfleet HQ. After going over all the conditions she
must agree to prior to reading the communiqué and promising absolute secrecy via
voice recording, T'Aiya was finally allowed to access the file.
The communiqué was the latest transmission from
the Romulan Empire to Romulan operatives working within the Federation. The
message did not say much beyond the usual updates, nothing terribly secret about
its contents. T'Aiya proceeded to overlay the message with the data file as she
had done on the Lexington with her first message. The last paragraph of the
transmission held her attention.
"Attempts to transmit the schematic for the
cloaking device failed. Lives were lost. Since the brave people who died in this
effort cannot be honored in the Romulan Empire due to the secrecy of their
mission, please see to it that their names are honored in the Federation. I have
received information that my sister is alive in Federation’s space. Please find
her and inform her I survive in Romulan space.
After several minutes, T'Aiya finally exhaled the
breath she did not know she was holding. She remembered a story her father told
her once, and only once.
T'Aiya was only seven at the time. They were
sitting by the Emerald Falls of her homeworld. It was twilight and the double
moons were just beginning to appear. The blue one was at quarter and the blue
green at half. The last light of the setting sun was glinting off the playful
waves of the small, gentle falls, sending opalescent green lighting through the
water to touch the large, rose colored flowers that blossomed at the lakes edge.
It was here he told her how she was separated
from her twin sister when they were both only three years old.
A band of scavengers made up of different species
had found their little planet. They seemed in a hurry and were clearly hostile.
Her parents had taken the girls to hide in a well concealed cave. The scavengers
knew the family was there by the small house they had found and were looking for
slaves to sell.
As her parents were making ready a trap, T’Azar
had managed to wander out of the cave and quite a distance from the entrance.
The scavengers found the cave with the help of a tracker and at that moment,
T'Aiya’s father set an avalanche that completely sealed the entrance.
Of course, the scavengers thought if there was
anyone inside, they were or would soon be dead. Besides, the baby had been found
wandering about. She would bring enough profit to make this stop worthwhile, no
need to go digging about in rocks.
By the time T'Aiya and her family had exited the
cave by another opening, the scavengers had left. Not having any spacecraft to
follow them, T'Aiya’s parents could do nothing more than morn the loss of the
child they would never see again.
T'Aiya had not thought about the story much. She
was too young at the time to remember anything, much less her sister, and her
parents never spoke of it again. Now her mind filled with hundreds of questions
with no way to find the answers. She deleted the data file that decoded the
document and closed the terminal.
In a very unVulcan, dazed manner that puzzled the
receptionist who watched her leave, T'Aiya departed from the Communication
Archives. She knew she was in a mild shock and was finding it difficult to
concentrate. Somehow, she managed to hail a transport to go the Des Moines
arboretum where she was to meet Stev.
T'Aiya entered the lobby of the Des Moines
arboretum, still dazed and distracted. She was surprised to see Stev waiting for
her. She had thought she would have some time alone to sort out what she had
learned. Pulling on all her Vulcan discipline, T'Aiya approached her friend.
"Hello Stev. Did you enjoy your visit to
Graceland?" T'Aiya said in a tone that was just a little more distant that she
wanted. Control was difficult, but she felt herself becoming more balanced as
she pushed all the events of the morning to the back of her mind, it would be
dealt with later.
The small smile that had started to form when
Stev recognized her approach evaporated when he caught the tone of her voice.
Logically he knew that whatever business she had at the communications archives
had upset her enough so as to break her control. He knew that it should not be
discussed now and that he would have to take her mind from her troubles.
"The visit was enough to hold my attention.
Though it was not what I expected." He paused briefly. "I suggest that we
explore the arboretum. There are many fascinating examples of native and off
T'Aiya simply nodded in agreement.
The Des Moines Botanical Gardens and Arboretums
were expansive, covering approximately 50 acres. This included flora and fauna
native to Earth as well as samples from many planets. There were numerous
greenhouses, all with carefully controlled environments which ranged from
weightlessness to excessive gravity and all types of atmospheres. T’Aiya had a
fondness for Orchids and orchid type plants from all worlds. Since the
Greenhouse of Exotics Type C for those type of exotics was in itself a one acre
building, Stev suggested they concentrate there.
As Stev and T'Aiya approached the building, Stev
gently, unobtrusively offered T'Aiya his arm. T'Aiya, recognized his offer as
one not only of his arm, but of his recognition of her distress in spite of her
efforts to cover it, his respect for her privacy, and his support for whatever
she might be going through. T’Aiya gracefully slipped her arm around and over
The Greenhouse of Exotics Type C was almost
transparent in the front and opaque toward the back to accommodate the different
species of flowers inside. The Forward section was designed similar to the Royal
Botanical Gardens just outside of London, with its high ceilings, conservative
feel, yet typical greenhouse structure. As they entered the greenhouse, Stev and
T'Aiya were greeted by intoxicating fragrance from the blooms of the Quilium.
"The Quilium are blooming," T'Aiya said, almost
coming out of her distracted state. "I hope to acquire some of the specialized
bulb while we are here. Neila enjoys them so."
As she thought back to the first time she and
Neila had seen the Quilium bloom, she quickly put aside the memory and wondered
just how much Stev knew about her heritage. Since he had been a communications
officer, she was not sure how much information he was privy to. She stopped
walking and gazed forward. If their relationship was to continue, he needed to
know. She removed her arm from his and turned to face him.
Looking him squarely in the eye, "Stev," T'Aiya
asked, "what do you know of my heritage?"
"Only what Starfleet Personnel Records show, that
you are of Antosioan-Vulcan ancestry with Vulcan citizenship." Stev answered.
T'Aiya hesitated. In light of recent events and
of the relationship that was growing between her and Stev, he deserved to be
"That is what the public records say," T'Aiya
finally had the conviction to speak. "Starfleet Classified Personnel Records
show that I also carry Romulan blood from my father’s side."
T'Aiya fell silent in anticipation of Stev’s
reaction. Although he had stepped away from traditional Vulcan ways, many
Vulcans shun hybrids such as herself, and to have Romulan blood is to some, an
unforgivable stain. She did not know how he stood on this issue. For the second
time that day, T’Aiya was not aware that she was holding her breath.
"Ah, that explains the discomfort you had on that
classified mission into Romulan Space about nine months ago." Stev paused for a
moment, he caught T'Aiya's intake of breath and realized that she was holding
it. "Why do you bring it up now?" he asked.
"I... I needed to know if you held the same
opinion of hybrids as most Vulcans," she stated in an almost quivering voice.
Stev arched his eyebrow. "I believe that the
opinions of most Vulcans are shackles which hold them back. I have chosen to
discover as much as I can about life and the lives of those around me," he
paused. "I have discovered someone interesting in the person of T'Aiya Napa
Llire." He gently grasped her shoulders in his hands, "That has not changed just
because you have Romulan blood. I wish to go on discovering you as a person,"
releasing her shoulders he once again offered his arm, "Shall we continue our
walk?" He could not help but smile as T'Aiya twined her arm once more through
The couple continued their walk past some of the
most exotic species of plants the galaxy had spawned, through the darkened room
which housed the Stelam Laggas of I'Vat. These flowers bloom only at night and
only when exposed to specific emissions of starlight. Stev heard T'Aiya's intake
of breath at the beauty surrounding them. He thought to himself that only one
who lived among the stars could appreciate just how much like starlight the
They strolled through a hydroponics bay where
edible plants of all kinds where grown. Stev made a mental note to pick up some
Howya Beans from the gift shop. Genetically bred to grow on the harshest of
planet surfaces, they should grow quite easily in the Lexington’s hydroponics
bay. Stev wanted to try some because they purported to giving a euphoric lift to
most humanoids across the galaxy.
They entered a domed area of the arboretum. Stev
noticed a comfortable rise in temperature but also began to feel the
uncomfortable humidity of the room as well. Their attention was drawn to a large
a sign proclaiming this room to be one the arboretum's prize displays.
Biologists and geologists had labored many months to produce an active
controlled volcano in the heart of fertile farmland. Once the volcano was active
more scientists were called in to have it mimic the area needed to host the
plants destined for this site. T'Aiya recognized it immediately.
"The Firefalls of Gal Gath'Thong," she said
"The fire falls from where?" Stev asked.
"No, The Firefalls of Gal Gath'Thong," she
repeated a little more plainly her mind off her troubles momentarily. "The
Il'Licep grows amongst the lava flows. They both need the molten rock to survive
and also purify the rock as well. The plant stores the impuritants and coats
them. When the plant has absorbed and coated as much as it can handle it spews
out a pearl like object which is prized not only on Romulus but throughout the
"I can't imagine why anyone would risk their life
to run into a lava flow to get a gemstone, no matter how valuable." Stev stated.
"Those pearls are used in the Romulan irokaisha
ceremony." she said flatly.
"Oh, the engagement ceremony. Now I understand
why men would brave the falls."
"On Romulus the women do as well." T'Aiya replied
a small smile forming at the corners of her mouth.
Stev absorbed that last comment and began
thinking. He glanced back towards the falls as an idea formed. If it could be
done it would fit in with the arrangements that Buffy had already made for him.
It would be a risk, but what was it that someone had once said 'Risk is part of
He glanced at his chronometer. There wasn't much
time to get everything to fall into place and still make the reservations that
had been made. He could tell from the look on T'Aiya's face that her thoughts
were still on what ever news she had received earlier today.
"T'Aiya, did you not tell me earlier that you
wanted to purchase some Quilium bulbs for the Lexington's arboretum?"
"Yes, I did. Thank you for reminding me Stev."
"I wanted to purchase some of the Howya Beans as
well," Stev offered as a convenient excuse to head in the completely opposite
direction. "I see that the arboretum will be closing in 30 minutes and the
kiosks for these items are at opposite ends of the complex. Shall we meet at the
exit in 30 minutes?"
"That would be acceptable. 30 minutes then."
T'Aiya walked off in the direction of the
greenhouse. Stev watched until she was out of sight. He knew he would have to
hurry if he wanted to stop by the Firefalls and still have time to purchase his
beans. Twenty-seven minutes later, nearly out of breath, Stev was waiting at the
exit. His package of beans under one arm and a small box tucked away in his
Stev felt his pulse quicken. He was mentally
preparing himself for a life altering decision. He glanced her way when he felt
T’Aiya’s presence draw near.
"Ready to go?" she asked simply.
"Yes I am," Stev answered T’Aiya and his own
After the pair had returned to the Essex, Stev
purposefully flew the tiny craft across the Atlantic Ocean from the North
American continent to Europe. He landed his ship at the Federation Spaceport on
the outskirts of Paris, France. The hydrofoil he had Buffy charter to take them
up the Seine River was waiting for them. Stev and T’Aiya entered the boat and
sat down next to each other. Stev casually placed his arm around her shoulders
and the two marveled at the sights seen from the windows.
When the ship stopped after the tour, the pair of
Vulcans emerged from the hydrofoil and stepped out into a city that had been
regarded as a City of Love, long before the native inhabitants had known of
other races and cultures living out amongst the starry field which inspired
them. Once again, Stev saw that Buffy had been true to her word. The horse drawn
carriage was waiting for them at the dock. The driver was holding a white
placard with Stev's name on it.
"Is this what you meant by a surprise Stev?"
T'Aiya asked with a reserved expression on her face.
Stev grinned because he could see the delight in
her eyes despite the expression on her face. "Yes, well no, I mean this isn't
all of it."
The pair climbed up into the carriage. The driver
snapped his reigns and the horse trotted off. The ride took the Vulcans through
some of the more picturesque settings the city had to offer. Paris had changed
little in 300 years. The new was skillfully blended in with the old; the
monorail looked like it belonged with the Eiffel Tower. Even the gleaming glass
tower which housed the offices of the United Federation of Planets didn't seem
out of place.
As the carriage neared the UFP Building, the
driver slowed the horse and brought it to a stop. Stev stood and opened the door
There was almost a look of disappointment in her
eyes as she said, "This is the big surprise? I was not expecting a tour of the
Federation's main office building."
"You underestimate me," Stev grinned. "The big
surprise is yet to come and the UFP Building is not our destination." Indicating
the other direction, he continued, "This is where we are going."
Stev lead T'Aiya across the street to an open air
cafe. The Cafe des Artistes had all the charm that one would expect from a
French cafe. The outside dining area was set up so that the view of the Eiffel
Tower was not obstructed by the building across the street. The Vulcans walked
to the entrance.
"Ah, monsieur Stev," the waiter said as the
couple approached. "We have been expecting you. Your table is ready just as you
"Merci," Stev replied as the waiter led them to
"Stev, how did you manage the hydrofoil, the
reservation, the carriage ride? I know you didn't do it enroute you were too
busy telling me 'Rap-rap' jokes."
"Ensign Cary helped. She said it would be her
pleasure to make sure we had a memorable evening. So far, everything has been
ready just as I requested."
He then ordered for the both of them in fluent
French. The waiter bowed and left to fill the order. As the waiter left the tall
"T'Aiya, I was wondering if you could tell me
just where you found Neila. I have never encountered a species like it before."
"Shifters like Neila were not uncommon on Antos,"
T'Aiya began as she caressed the spotted bangle at her wrist, "even though they
seldom reproduce and have very long life spans. Because of the symbiotic
relationship, a shifter tends to stay with one family, however, crossovers to
other families and even other species were known to happen. That is why I hope
some day to find another of Neila’s kind. Although these shifters are asexual
and can reproduce alone, even shifters can get lonely for others of their
species. Neila has been passed down through my mother’s family for 800
Federation Standard Years," T’Aiya gazed thoughtfully at her little companion.
Stev waited for her to continue.
"When we, uh, I was born on M113, the planet
where my mother and father chose to live in peace, Neila and I were immediately
compatible. So, while Neila stayed by my Mother, most of the time, it did form a
bond with me. It was agreed that by Antosian custom, I would become Neila’s
symbiant when my mother died. Well, that happened sooner than any of us
"I was sixteen when an unusually violent magnetic
storm caused a cave in at the ruins my parents were studying. Neila was the only
survivor. I was too young for our bonding, but Neila’s life depended on it. As a
result, we simply cannot be separated for more than a few hours."
She finished just as the waiter returned with
their meal. The pair began to eat the meal and engaged in light dinner
conversation. As they finished the meal, T'Aiya's face tightened for the
briefest of moments. Stev noticed and paused; instead of inserting the last
spoonful of chocolate mousse into his mouth he placed it back on the plate."
"Is there something the matter?" he asked.
"Your personnel record does not indicate why
Vulcan sent you away vrekasht. It just states that you are an exile from your
homeworld. You have never brought it up before and I was wondering if you would
tell me why?"
Stev grinned slightly, Seeing T'Aiya's raised
eyebrow he spoke. "It is no big secret. The actual reason is that the masters of
the Kolinahr didn't want me disrupting their total control in the teaching of
olzhika. I believe that Surak's teachings have been greatly misinterpreted by
Noticing that her eyebrow only raised higher, he
continued. "I have read the journals of Captain Spock detailing his years of
service under human captains. He mentions repeatedly that humans can arrive at a
logical solution to a problem much quicker through the use of their instincts,
something that springs from their emotions. I came to the logical conclusion
that if instincts were quicker than logic in solving problems then I should not
shut out my emotions completely."
"So you endeavor to let your emotions run free?"
"No, not exactly," he paused. "I control my
emotions, but do not suppress them entirely. It still requires mental control
but not nearly as much as suppressing them would. I have found that by letting
my emotions run a little more free than most Vulcans I have the best of both
logic and instinct," Stev stopped momentarily, a look of concentration crossed
his face. I suspect that the Masters remembered the problems of the V’tosh
ka’tur and the problems that Spock’s half brother have caused. To keep incidents
such as those from happening again, the masters of the Kolinahr did not want
that teaching made public. To keep their control, they forced my vrekasht
through the government."
As T'Aiya's eyebrow came back down Stev made one
last comment, "Right now my instincts are telling me that you are curious about
the remainder of the surprise."
T'Aiya gave Stev a look that told him he'd
guessed correctly. He stood, came over to her side of the table and helped her
up. She took his offered arm and together they walked out. Curiosity won out as
"So, where is it?"
"You'll know when you see it," was all he said
with an impish grin.
The couple walked down the street. As they
continued the walk their arms slid down and each grasped the other's hand.
Passers-by grinned at the thought that the city of love even worked its charms
on Vulcans. They came to the Eiffel Tower.
"Would you like to see Paris from the top?"
"I don't know Stev. It will be getting dark
"I've been told the city is especially beautiful
at night. Shall we?" Stev made a sweeping gesture with his arm towards the
T'Aiya nodded her assent and together the pair
rode to the top of the famous tower. As the elevator came to a stop, the door
opened and T'Aiya saw a red rose in a place where red roses are not normally
found. Her inquisitive nature directed her steps over to it. As she walked she
noticed Stev was following right behind. As she got nearer the fragile bloom she
saw an old-fashioned envelope and hand inked line. It stated simply ‘T'Aiya’.
Her curiosity piqued, she took the envelope and opened it.
Silence hovered over the top of the Paris
landmark as she read the card inside. The intensity of sensations that she had
held in check all that day suddenly broke free. T'Aiya found all the Vulcan
walls of control within her slipping and for the first time since before her
parents had died so many years ago, she smiled broadly. Slowly, she began to
turn back towards her companion.
"Stev, I am deeply touched by . . ." she stopped
as she completed her turn and saw him down on one knee.
"T'Aiya, I was unsure of how to ask you this,"
Stev began tentatively. "However, since we are on Earth, I thought following
their customs would be appropriate," he paused. "Would you marry me?"
Stev stayed on one knee as he reached into his
pocket and produced a small box. He waited for her response. Without saying a
word T'Aiya walked over and grasped the small box. Opening it she discovered an
Il'Licep Pearl nestled in a gold band. Wordlessly she took the band from its box
and placed it on the fourth finger of her left hand, and then she offered her
hand. Stev took it and stood. T'Aiya reached up and placed her fingertips along
the right side of Stev's face. Stev reciprocated the gesture and together at the
top of the tower they spoke.
"My mind to your mind: my thoughts to your
thoughts: never touching and always touched: apart but never parted or apart yet
Sol continued on its path through the galaxy as
Terra's rotation gave illusion to its setting in the west. The colors blazed
through the atmosphere as twilight marched across the sky. The stars winked on
casting their spell over the city. The two Vulcans stood there oblivious to it
all and found themselves in each other's eyes.
shonmano – Unbonded adult in romantic
analogous to human boyfriend/girlfriend)
olzhika - a distinct form of logic
V’Tosh ka’tur – Vulcans without logic
do not believe emotions should be suppressed, Sybok was one)