Alien Heart

Chapter 1 – Prologue

‘Of all the alien places

I explored on my travels

the most alien of all

was my own Vulcan heart.’

Unknown ancient Vulcan poet

 ***

‘There are a lot of things which can happen between

two people, two clans or two tribes,

love is one of them,

maybe the most joyful and terrifying thing of all.’

Teyal Joshma, ancient Bajoran philosopher

***

Chapter 2

William Telfer was sitting in the galley with his best friend Tal Celes both nursing their dinners.

‘So how was your first day with the engineering crew? Torres giving you a hard time?’ he asked.

‘It was okay mostly’ Celes answered, ‘well, she shouted at me because I’ve made a mistake on the diagnostic of the astrometrics sensors. The problem was we had already worked out half of the plan on how to recalibrate them when we saw the mistake…so back to square one…’

‘Uh oh, so you had a first hand experience of her legendary Klingon temper?’ Willy replied.

‘I survived’ Celes made a sarcastic grin ‘the good part of the day was when Seven and Torres had a few differences of opinion on every step of the recalibration plan and the whole work detail was standing around them for over an hour waiting till they would finally come to an agreement and tell us how to proceed’ she chuckled. ‘The combination of these two on one project is everything else than efficient.’

Willy snickered, ‘so much on a project to increase the efficiency of the sensors…’

‘That and a lot of other stuff…’ she sighed slightly tired, ‘but everyone else in engineering is pretty nice – not that I’ve had a chance to get to know everyone well yet, only two guys from engineering are directly involved in the project. Huber and Vorik, but they are both very nice.’

‘I think I know them, they’re both Ensigns, Huber is the guy who played the drums in the concerto last week and Vorik is the Vulcan?’

‘Yeah, Huber is really cool and uncomplicated, just a next door guy, who makes a joke every other minute to cheer up the situation – and Vorik…’ she considered for a few moments ‘dunno how to put it…he’s not like any Vulcan I have worked with’

‘How so?’ Willy asked.

‘He has such a warm voice, it’s hard to explain, he definitely talks and acts like a Vulcan, but when he talks to someone I really have the feeling that he cares and wants to make friends and not just get the work done, you know?’

‘I guess in comparison to the Borg queen of efficiency even a Vulcan seems to be warm and caring’ Willy snickered.

‘Yeah’ Celes said grinning shortly then prodded her food contemplating.

Willy grinned.

‘What?’ she asked after looking up.

‘Someone has a crush!’ he whispered teasingly.

Celes was taken aback for a second, ‘me?!’ she laughed.

‘He has such a lovely warm voice…’ Willy said taunting, ‘your eyes just looked really dreamy’.

‘Probably because I’m imagining how it would be to eat dinner with someone else than an adolescent hypochondriac Ensign for a change…’ she replied.

‘I got you there’ Willy grinned.

She gloated at him, struggling to think up a retort: ‘Don’t forget your shift in astrometrics when you’ll be alone with Seven – having her efficiency breathing down your neck every second!’ she chirped.

‘Oh, don’t remind me…’ he groaned.

 ***

Chapter 3

After a few weeks Celes felt much more competent in tackling the various stations in engineering, but she still had some trouble with the diagnostics station. After she nearly lost her nerves this morning at that particular station Vorik had suggested to meet her at holodeck 3 this evening and to go through another round of simulations. She had been getting better and better after he had started to tutor her regularly a couple of evenings ago.

 

She knew she wouldn’t have been able to pull through it all if he hadn’t be such a wonderful calm and patient person. She’d never thought that she would ever start to befriend a Vulcan, but she really enjoyed his company and has even showed him some of her favorite holodeck programs like the mountain climbing. She was wondering if she could persuade him for the swimming program, though the image of a Vulcan in a bathing suit seemed somewhat off, she mused with a smile.

She met him in front of holodeck 3, but apparently a program was already running.

‘Maybe one of the other holodecks is free’ she said.

‘Negative, they are all occupied’ he replied.

Then Neelix and Huber came round the corner. ‘Good evening, Ensigns!’ Neelix beamed, ‘So you’re also coming to Fair Haven? I haven’t seen you two there. Tom is just doing some minor repairs after a little glitch yesterday evening.’

‘No,’ Celes replied, ‘we wanted to do an engineering simulation, but it can wait…I know everyone loves Fair Haven, but I haven’t find the time to try it yet…’ she looked at Vorik.

‘Seems a logical alternative’ he said in a tone Celes suspected to be slightly humorous, but she was never fully sure with him.

So they entered into what was an ancient earth village which must be near the sea, because the air smelled salty.

‘I’d recommend a walk along the shoreline, Ensigns,’ Neelix said while pointing into a direction away from the village, ‘it’s very beautiful. I’d love to go with you, but I promised the others to meet them at the bar.’ He tapped Celes on the shoulder and then went off with Huber around a street corner.

Celes looked at Vorik and shrugged. He raised a questioning eyebrow. After a pause he said ‘Mr. Neelix suggestions always lead me to interesting experiences about the socio-cultural nature of other species. I’ve never been in a recreational simulation of earth’s past, so it might be fascinating to explore.’

They set off and reached the shore line shortly. Celes felt a fresh breeze around her face and it reminded her of her academy days in San Fransisco where she learned swimming and had started to like the ocean because her Academy friends took her to the beach.

‘Vorik’, she said, ‘have you ever taken a swim in the ocean while you were at Starfleet Academy?’

‘No’, he answered, ‘but I learned swimming at the Academy.’

‘Me too’, she replied, ‘I come from a hot and barren region on Bajor, I’ve never been exposed to larger bodies of water until I came to earth for the Academy.’

He looked at her, ‘as humans say, I had to get used to swimming.’

She laughed, ‘I understand what you mean! I used to find it icky, I mean no ground under your feet and all that water, I nearly failed the swimming and diving test.’

‘I didn’t score very well in that particular test either’, he replied.

‘But in my second year’ she went on, ‘friends used to go to the beach and I started to get used to it, you know it’s a whole different feeling standing on the beach, feeling the waves.’

‘Interesting,’ he replied, ‘I have never tried.’

‘You should someday’ she said and they walked silently for a moment. She tugged her arm into his. He didn’t protest, but after a few moments she started giggling.

‘I fail to see the humor of the situation’ he asked looking questioningly at her.

She laughed, then said, ‘I’m walking arm in arm with you on a romantic beach in the holodeck, it feels like having a date with a Vulcan’. As she looked at him he raised an eyebrow again.

‘I didn’t know that is a humorous occasion’ he replied. It was hard to read his mood, but from his tone she got no sense that he was pissed or embarrassed at her comment, it seemed more like another bit of his very dry humor.

‘Have you ever walked along a beach on the holodeck with a woman, Ensign?’ she asked teasingly.

‘Negative’ he replied, ‘but it grows more fascinating by every minute’.

At this point she stopped and looked at him. She meant to reply with another quick-witted comment, but for some reason she was at a loss for words and they just looked at each other. She suddenly realized that she was drawing nearer and he slowly did too until their lips met in a hesitant kiss. When she realized he was responding she got bolder and put her arms around him kissing him more intensely. He responded in kind and had just put his arms around her when his comm badge sounded…

 ***

Chapter 4

The next evening Celes had dinner with Willy in the galley.

‘You seem somewhat preoccupied’ he said.

‘Hmm?’ she answered while stirring her bowl of soup.

‘Celes,’ he said, ‘what’s the matter with you?’

‘Oh’, she replied slightly startled, ‘sorry, I was in thoughts. What did you ask?’

‘What’s going on?’ he asked.

She drew a breath and replied. ‘I kissed him, but now he avoids me.’

‘What?’ Willy asked, ‘Who?’

‘Vorik’ she replied.

‘What???’ he asked astonished. ‘You kissed Vorik???’

‘Shh’ she whispered, ‘don’t shout it.’ The next table had suddenly gone very silent.

He stared at her in disbelief. She sighed.

‘So, um, how did he react?’ he whispered flabbergasted.

‘The comm badge chimed and he avoided me today’ she replied sounding depressed.

‘I don’t believe it’ he replied, ‘you kissed a Vulcan?!’

‘I know’ she whispered annoyed, ‘don’t ask me what I was thinking.’

He chuckled while shaking his head, ‘I still don’t believe it….and what did he do before the comm badge sounded? I mean how did he respond? Did he jump back or something?’

‘No,’ she said, ‘that’s the weird part…he kissed back’ she whispered.

He stared in disbelief. ‘You’re sure?’

‘Yes’ she said in a clear tone, ‘I’m sure.’

‘Wow’ he answered still shaking his head, ‘did you talk to him later?’

‘He said it was not logical for him to start an intimate relationship at the moment’ she blurted out angrily.

Willy just continued shaking his head and concluded with a shocked ‘oh my…’.

***

Chapter 5

Celes and Vorik were busy in engineering testing the recalibration on the nebula the ship was just investigating.

Since a couple of glitches have shown up Torres’ tone was becoming more Klingon every minute.

‘Vorik!’ Torres shouted, ‘have you corrected that damn glitch in the forward sensor array?’

Negative’, he replied, ‘but I will so shortly when I have found the cause of the malfunction.’

Celes was concentrated on something on the screen of her station. ‘Look!’ she said excited, ‘that can’t be right!?’

‘I’m busy elsewhere, Ensign’ Vorik replied without even looking up.

‘But I have it!’ she replied and went over to his station. ‘Wait, I’ll show you’ she said and put her hand on his shoulder while accessing his station.

‘Stop it!’ he shouted, ‘you’re disturbing my setup!!!’

She gaped at him in shock.

‘And don’t touch me!’ he hissed.

‘Sorry,’ she said taken aback, ‘calm down, your setup is still there!’

‘Just go away and let me do my job!’ he replied furious.

‘Then do it, see if I care!’ she shouted back and stormed to her station.

Celes was still trying to collect herself when Torres came over to her. ‘You’ve found something?’ she asked politely.

‘Yes,’ Celes replied, ‘look at that data address, that can’t be right.’

‘Ah’, Torres replied, ‘there’s our little glitch, that’s corrected in a minute’ her fingers flew over the screen. Satisfied she looked up to Celes, ‘good work Ensign!’ and patted her on the shoulder. Then Torres walked over to Vorik’s station. They exchanged a couple of words Celes wasn’t able to catch. Then Vorik left. Torres put her hands on her hips, drew a deep breath and then walked over to Celes again.

‘Celes,’ she said in a low voice, ‘I know it’s none of my business, but whatever has happened between you and Vorik…’ she paused tentatively, ‘seems to affect you very strongly, both of you.’ She paused looking very intently at Celes.

‘I’m sorry, Lt.’ Celes stuttered, ‘there was something of…a personal misunderstanding…’

Torres hesitated, after a thoughtful pause she said: ‘Celes, let’s have a break and drink a coffee.’

***

Chapter 6

After Torres made Neelix understand that they needed a private conversation, they both sipped their beverages, Celes looking very nervous.

‘Look,’ Torres began, ‘I don’t mean to pry, but I have the impression the situation between you and Vorik got slightly out of hand.’

‘I’m really sorry, Lt.!’ Celes said almost pleading, ‘I didn’t mean to shout and I was really shocked that Vorik would shout, I’d never thought he was able to react like that, I mean…he’s a Vulcan. I didn’t mean to provoke him, I didn’t know he could be provoked…’ she stuttered.

‘It’s okay, I’m not criticizing you.’ Torres replied. ‘That wasn’t the first time someone shouted in engineering…’ she added.

At that Celes seemed to calm down a bit.

‘Celes, there might be some things about Vulcans…you don’t know.’ Torres said carefully.

Celes returned a very astonished look. ‘What do you mean?’

‘I know you two are friends since the sensor-recalibration project… I don’t know if something…different happened between you both lately’ Torres gave her a questioning look, ‘but if, it looks like…it really hit home’.

Celes looked very apprehensive.

‘Believe me, I know Vorik…’ Torres went on, ‘I don’t think the way he just lost control was because he suddenly dislikes you or had a different opinion.’

Celes felt her face flush slightly. ‘I’m not sure I understand what you’re talking about.’

Torres looked at her very intently. ‘I’m saying, whatever Vorik told you about logic or acted around you, I bet he has feelings for you, very strong ones – otherwise he wouldn’t get aggressive like that.’

Celes stared disbelievingly, ‘why do you think that?’

Torres hesitated. ‘Well, first because I’m half-Klingon and know the feeling, second because I know Vulcans can react that way when…they feel attracted to somebody – and my best guess is that this somebody might be you,’ she said carefully, concentrating on not rolling her eyes or otherwise indicating how unnerving it was to connect the dots for this Ensign.

Seeing Celes dumbfounded expression she drew a breath and said: ‘…look…maybe I’m not the best person to explain this to you and I can’t say I really understand how Vulcans work, maybe you should ask the doctor about it.’

‘The doctor? Ask him about what???’ Celes replied somewhat alarmed and seemingly confused.

Torres drew another breath exasperated. ‘Maybe I’ve got the wrong impression and this has got nothing to do with you at all.’ She paused. ‘But if there is something between you and him, you should definitely ask the doctor…and do something about it – before things get out of hand’ she added curtly.

She rose and put her cup back on the counter and they both headed back to engineering.

Celes was too busy stomaching what Torres had said to find the courage to say anything on their way back. Especially the last sentence seemed to repeat itself over and over in her head. Why ask the doctor? And how could things get out of hand?

***

Chapter 7

Vorik was contemplating on his way from engineering whether to meditate or to go straight to sickbay. Something must be wrong with him, he would never normally succumb to make an emotional scene like that. He wished it had never happened, but that thought was as illogical as anything else happening lately. It had happened all so fast. He didn’t realize he was shouting until everybody stared at him. But what was wrong with him? He had a suspicion…but it couldn’t be possible… It must be something else, maybe a virus, he felt like he was running a fever. Ensign Huber had been ill last week with the Kaldavian flu – maybe he had infected him with it.

***

‘What’s the nature of the medical emergency?’ The doctor greeted in his usual fashion as Vorik entered sickbay.

‘Unknown yet, doctor. I’m not well, I have the impression of suffering from a fever, my theory is that I caught the Kaldavian flu.’ he replied.

‘Let’s see’ the doctor scanned him, muttered ‘hmm’ and then fell silent. ‘Please take a seat, Ensign.’

Vorik sat down on the biobed while the doctor fetched another scanner and started to scan his brain.

The doctor laid the scanner beside and seated himself at another biobed in opposite to Vorik. ‘Ensign,’ he said in a very measured calm, ‘it looks like you have the pon farr.’ The doctor looked questioningly at him.

‘That can’t be possible,’ Vorik said sounding slightly alarmed, ‘I had it 2 years, 10 months and 19 days ago.’

‘I know,’ the doctor replied, ‘but you have highly elevated sexual hormone levels and the same chemical imbalance in your brain, no traces of a virus or drugs or other agents. Don’t you feel any arousal?’

Vorik looked taken aback.

‘Let me rephrase the question’ the doctor said, ‘do you feel different than last time you had the pon farr?’

Vorik hesitated, ‘I’m not sure, I don’t focus my thoughts on my emotions, so I’m not sure what I feel, doctor.’

‘Well, I respect the way Vulcans handle emotions,’ he replied carefully, ‘but at this moment, it would be the most efficient way to diagnose your problem if you could tell me what you feel as exactly as possible.

Vorik considered this for a moment. Then he began very slowly, ‘I feel…restless, I wasn’t able to meditate very well for the last three days, I also experienced insomnia and a loss of appetite.’

‘What else do you feel?’ the doctor asked as patiently as possible.

‘I feel driven somehow…drawn to something.’ he answered frowning in concentration.

‘To what do you feel drawn to?’ the doctor asked politely.

Vorik contemplated and then made a slight shocked expression he hid very quickly. ‘I…’, he stuttered, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t tell you – that is private.’

‘It’s okay, you don’t have to tell me the details, but am I right to assume that you feel attracted to a female crew member?’ the doctor asked retaining his clinical neutrality.

Vorik nodded slightly. After a pause he said sharply, ‘Doctor, I don’t want to pursue this conversation any further.’

‘That’s okay, Ensign’, the doctor said assuringly, ‘we don’t need the details of who she is’.

‘Doctor, I’m still not convinced I have the…pon farr’ he said in a low voice, ‘something must have disturbed my hormonal equilibrium, some agent you haven’t discovered yet.’

‘Hmm…’, said the doctor, ‘of course I can’t disprove your speculation if it’s a not yet discovered agent affecting you, but if we look at this in a scientific way, wouldn’t you agree to first rule out any known agents before looking for unknown agents?’

‘That’s fully logical, of course’ Vorik replied, wondering what kind of theory the doctor was pursuing.

‘Ensign, has anything happened between you and that female crew member, which could have influenced your hormonal equilibrium?’ he asked politely.

Vorik stared, then looked away. ‘That…may be possible, doctor, she…approached me.’

‘Ah…’ the doctor replied satisfied with himself. ‘Ensign, your reaction is very natural, especially if you appreciate her advances.’

‘Doctor,’ Vorik replied sharply, ‘I don’t appreciate her advances!’

‘Are you sure?’ the doctor replied. ‘You show quite a strong hormonal reaction, she doesn’t leave you cold as the saying is…’ he chuckled slightly.

‘Doctor, you’re trying to prove your theory with a circular reasoning!’ Vorik replied sharply.

‘Never argue logic with a Vulcans…’ the doctor said unnerved. ‘Then let’s be blunt, Ensign,’ he drew a holographic breath, ‘as long as I don’t find your mysterious hitherto undiscovered pon farr inducing agent, I have the very strong suspicion that the advances of this woman affect you so strongly, because you have already harbored feelings for her.’ he said.

‘I’m sure you did your best to suppress those feelings,’ he gave Vorik what he hoped would be an understanding look, ‘but they must have come closer to the surface once she showed her feelings towards you and this must have made an impact on your hormonal balance.’

‘I’m also sure you live in a far more testing environment than any other Vulcan, being that far from home and having not found a mate during your last pon farr and being among non-Vulcans who might show their feelings and attractions very directly to you,’ he concluded.

As Vorik seemed too shocked to say something the doctor continued: ‘It seems quite natural that your emotional and sexual needs come to the surface once there is an attractive partner available and a very definite chance of satisfying your needs. I suggest you simply go to her, show her how you feel and let nature take its course and solve your problem instead of theorizing about some unknown chemical agent mysteriously affecting only you in a most peculiar way.’

Vorik replied calmly after a pause: ‘Doctor, it’s clear to me, that you can’t help me, so the logical next step would be to leave sickbay and deal with this on my own through meditation.’

‘Wait!’, the doctor shouted as Vorik quit the door. ‘Vulcans!’ he mumbled exasperated while he transfered himself to his mobile emitter. When he looked up again a surprised B’Elanna stood in the doorway.

‘Lt.! Come in! How can I help you today?’ he asked good-naturedly, but in a slightly unnerved undertone.

‘Well,’ B’Elanna replied, ‘I wanted to talk to you about Vorik, but I see he had the sense of reporting to you himself.’

The doctor rolled his eyes. ‘That’s at least one step in the right direction.’

‘Sounds like you didn’t have much success in helping him.’ B’Elanna replied with a sarcastic smile.

‘Doctor-patient-confidentiality, but what can you tell me about him? Any incident in engineering?’

Yeah, you could say that’, she replied folding her arms, ‘a little shouting competition with Ensign Tal’.

The doctor raised both his eyebrows.

‘They’ve been friends since a couple of weeks and made a great team,’ B’Elanna continued, ‘but suddenly they are unable to work in the same room! If you can talk any sense into them, please do!’

She placed one hand on her hips, ‘I have other problems to solve in engineering at the moment than two lovesick junior officers behaving like pubescent p’taks!!!’ she continued while wildly gesticulating with her other hand, ‘I’ve tried to talk with Tal, but she acts like nothing happened. I told her to come to you to inform herself about Vulcans, but I don’t think she even wanted to realize what I was talking about!’

‘Thanks for adding this to my plate, Lt.’ the doctor replied somberly, ‘now I’m also the ship’s partnership counselor.’

You give social lessons for Seven, can’t you teach Vorik how to deal with his hormones?’ B’Elanna asked unimpressed.

‘I’d never thought, I’d say that,’ he replied dryly, ‘but Seven is an easy student, at least compared to a Vulcan in hormonal distress. Can’t you simply shut them alone into the same room in engineering and wait till they have…resolved their issues?’

She gave a short indignant chuckle. ‘Do I look like a match maker? Good luck with your patient, doctor!’ And she left sickbay.

***

Chapter 8

Vorik rose from his meditation at the sound of klaxons. After spending the last 3 hours breaking down the emotional complex he was sure to be in a logical state of mind and able to help to solve whatever problem has caused the red alert.

When he entered engineering B’Elanna looked at him and after a silent exchange of glances gave him a set of commands.

They were caught in a gravitational addy of the nebula. While Vorik was working on transferring power to propulsion and bringing the output to a maximum he noticed Celes standing next to him frantically pushing buttons on the sensor-relay-station.

‘Alright’ yelled B’Elanna, ‘we have maximum power…Tal, do you have the frequency?’

‘Just a second!’ Celes called nervously, ‘it’s changing!’ she yelled in distress.

‘Feed your data to Vorik’s station!’ B’Elanna shouted. ‘Vorik, put in the formula for both frequencies to cancel each other out and set the station to automatic recalibration!’

‘Understood!’ Vorik answered quickly putting in the appropriate mathematic formula – ‘ready!’

‘Let’s hope this works’ B’Elanna said.

The ship vibrated for 5.8 seconds and broke free with a ruckus hurtling Celes towards him. He caught her with one arm while still holding onto his station. She hold onto him until the ship became still. Then she pulled away and smiled shyly.

‘Good work, everyone!’ B’Elanna said exhausted. Some people cheered, others started chatting sounding relieved.

Vorik heard the blood rushing in his ears and felt like in some kind of stupor. He couldn’t move and just stared at her while still keeping one hand on her arm. She gave him a questioning look at first and then put her hand on his other arm. They stared at each other in what seemed an eternity. Suddenly he realized what was happening and took several steps back. ‘Sorry, I have to leave, I’m not well’ and rushed out of engineering.

Celes stood there at a loss staring at the direction he had left. Then Torres who seemed to have watched the whole episode came over and put a hand on her shoulder. ‘Good work, Ensign’ she paused, ‘and please have a talk with the doctor about Vulcans’ she whispered. Celes frowned, drew a breath and said ‘I’ll be back shortly!’ and left engineering.

She still didn’t understand what Torres was getting at, but any excuse was good to have a talk with Vorik, this was making her crazy and she needed to settle things.

 ***

She pressed the chime on Vorik’s quarters. No reply. She pressed it again, then entered. The place looked like a conduit has exploded recently. The glass table was shattered on the ground. Various things were lying around like someone had thrown them through the room. Vorik was sitting on the floor in a corner, not looking at her.

‘Vorik, what happened?’ she asked concerned.

‘Please go’ he said in a low tone like he was in pain.

She walked through the room and sat opposite him on the floor looking at him.

He looked at the ground. ‘Please go.’

‘What’s wrong? Do you need help?’ she asked.

‘Go!’ he shouted, ‘please’ he added in a whisper, ‘I can’t stand it’.

She thought for a moment, then tapped her comm badge: ‘Celes to sickbay’

‘Sickbay here’ came the answer in the voice of the EMH.

‘Please come to Vorik’s quarters, something’s wrong with him’ she answered.

‘I’m on my way, please do not approach him, doctor out.’

He looked at her. ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to shout at you.’

‘It’s okay’ she said, ‘you’re ill, the doctor is on his way. You must have some sort of fever.’ She started crawling toward him.

He raised a hand, ‘don’t come closer!’ He panted very agitated.

‘Okay, I’m staying right here.’

After a few moments the door chimed and the doctor came in. He scanned Vorik with a tricorder.

‘What’s wrong with him?’ Celes asked.

‘Sorry, that’s doctor-patient-confidentiality’ the doctor replied. ‘Vorik, I’m giving you a sedative for the moment’ the hypo spray hissed as he put it on Vorik’s neck ‘and you have to wear that cortical monitor’ he put a round device below Vorik’s left ear.

‘Thank you, doctor’ Vorik replied politely.

The doctor stood up and took her by the arm ‘he needs some rest now, you can come back later’ and ushered her through the door.

Is it serious or just some kind of flu?’ she asked. ‘I really can’t tell you, Ensign,’ the doctor answered, but maybe you should talk to him later.

‘Alright’ she answered, ‘thank you’.

***

Chapter 9

While doing some repair work in engineering she thought a lot about what had happened the last couples of days. Maybe she should have respected his Vulcan distance more, she might have added stress to somebody who was already breeding out some nasty germ or something. It might be good to apologize and settle this awkwardness which had resulted of her really inconsiderate kiss on the holodeck.

‘Celes,’ Torres said after a couple of hours, ‘you’ve done enough for today, ‘you can go a bit earlier.’

‘Thanks’ she said, ‘I’ll see you tomorrow’ and she headed out.

 ***

She took a deep breath while pressing the door chime of Vorik’s quarters. ‘Come in’ he said and she stepped in.

He had cleaned up some of the rubble and was sitting in a chair in a meditative position looking up at her.

‘Hi, you look much better’ she said a bit awkwardly and sat herself in the opposite chair.

He looked questioningly at her.

‘I won’t disturb you for long,’ she continued feeling very silly, ‘I just wanted to apologize about my behavior lately. I didn’t think about what I was doing. I realize I put you in a strange position by what happened on the holodeck, I didn’t mean to overstep your boundaries, I know Vulcans are different than Bajorans or humans or other humanoids, that was really stupid of me’ she concluded nervously and was relieved to have said it.

‘I’m sorry, if I’ve raised your hopes by not being clear enough about the parameters of our relationship’ he replied calmly, ‘I didn’t realize…you were attracted to me and I don’t think I responded in the most efficient way to make those parameters clear to you.’

‘It’s okay’ she said, ‘I guess I caught you off guard’ she smiled sheepishly. ‘I hope we can still be friends.’

He nodded slightly.

She seemed relieved and got up. ‘Then I hope you’ll recover speedily. If you need anything, you can always call me.’ She walked to the door, glad to finally put this awkward matter behind her.

‘Celes, wait!’, he said.

She stopped and looked at him.

‘There’s something I need to tell you’, he said hesitantly.

‘Yes?’ she said wondering what he was coming up with now, he walked over to her. As he stood right in front of her she looked questioningly at him. He seemed at a loss for words. There was a silent awkward moment, then he settled one hand on her shoulder and reached with the other to one side of her face, placing his fingertips on her skin. She knew from her xenobiology classes that this was how Vulcans initiated a telepathic connection, a ‘mind meld’.

But when she expected to find out what a ‘mind meld’ feels like he suddenly moved both of his hands below her chin and a heat flooded her, so intense that she struggled for breath while she quickly grabbed him with both her hands. She felt like she was plunged into a warm sea, drowning, floating and connected to him, chest to chest like Siamese twins and then more and more parts of her followed. She felt her heart opening like a flower to his warmth revealing her feelings for him to see. She also felt his fear, his insecurity and questions about her, about letting his control down, about being exposed to emotions and his worries what others would say about his embarrassing failure to behave like a Vulcan and control his feelings…

When they started kissing hungrily, she felt how he felt her kiss and knew he also felt what she felt, it was unlike any kiss she had ever had…

 ***

Chapter 10

When she woke up she was lying in his arms and realized she was in his bed in his quarters and remembered yesterday’s events. He was still soundly asleep and she watched his beautiful clear lined face, his dark hair and one of his elegant looking Vulcan ears. She smiled, he looked a bit like a chika from a Bajoran fairy tale her mother has read to her as a child out of an old book with colored pictures.

Then he yawned and stretched and opened his eyes. He startled slightly when he saw her. ‘Good morning’ she said good-naturedly.

‘Good morning’ he answered, she felt a blush rising to his head. She remembered the odd ‘mind meld’ that had happened yesterday and figured she must still be somewhat telepathically connected to him, which was quite weird for someone unfamiliar with telepathy.

She quickly rose to spare him the awkwardness. It was painful for her that he seemed to be embarrassed at being in bed with her, but he might just need a few moments to process the chain of events.

Under the shower she wondered how Vulcans handled situations like this. She had always assumed that Vulcans were ‘above’ sexuality, but now she didn’t know what to think anymore. She realized that she might have been a bit naive, after all as a gendered humanoid species they had to reproduce in roughly the same manner as everyone else and he didn’t behave much different yesterday night than her two ex-boyfriends, Talkar and Joicin, had on similar occasions – if you don’t count that (really mind-blowing) telepathic stuff. But then none of her former boyfriends had been uptight types embarrassed about their own feelings…this was going to get messy…

She sighed and stepped out of the shower. Vorik had put on a sleeping gown and was busy restoring everything to order. When she – still stark naked – started to pick together her clothing piece by piece Vorik averted his eyes and rushed into the bathroom with a fresh uniform in has hands.

‘You’ve already seen me naked, remember?!’ she yelled in the direction of the closed door, ‘I don’t mind!’. And she wondered if she should start to regret what happened right now. She sighed and then quickly put her clothes on and yelled through the closed door, ‘I’m late for my shift, see you later.’ She didn’t wait for any response, but hurried to engineering trying to put him out of her mind, but she had a bad feeling about this. Part of her said that he probably is a bit overwhelmed with the events and needed some time to process his experiences, but another part wondered if he would ever look again at what had happened and she wasn’t sure that he might not just act as if nothing had happened or just make another comment about logic.

***

Chapter 11

He avoided her the whole day – or was she avoiding him?

She poured her heart out to Willy while drinking replicated Whiskey (for a week’s replicator ration) and started to cry while he tried to make heads and tails of her story. He knew of nobody who had ever had something with a Vulcan, he seemed to be shocked and fascinated by it.

When she awoke with a hangover the next morning she didn’t fully remember how many details she had told him and was partly glad about that.

But this day the project ended and she changed to work in astrometrics again. Working for Seven – ‘The Borg Queen of Efficiency’, what was how her staff called her secretly, was at least a good distraction and she didn’t encounter Vorik daily like in engineering, so no awkward moments and politely dancing around each other on tiptoes.

When Neelix proposed that he’ll prepare a party for the Bajoran Gratitude festival, her mood improved slightly.

It was weird though, she still had the feeling that this strange telepathic connection hasn’t been severed completely. When she had to shortly go to engineering to discuss some data with Torres she felt like she could sense his presence a few stations next to her, but maybe she was just imagining things when she saw him standing there…

When she walked by sickbay after her shift she paused – and then entered.

‘Ah, Ensign, what’s the nature of the medical emergency?’ the doctor chimed in a good mood.

‘No emergency, doctor, I…’ she paused ‘was just wondering if you could scan my brain.’

‘Do you experience any dizziness or pain, Ensign?’

‘No, actually,’ she mumbled, ‘I just wanted to make sure everything is okay.’

The doctor raised his eyebrows.

‘Is there any reason for concern?’ he asked while scanning her with a tricorder. ‘Hmm…’ he continued, ‘there are some unusual activities in your limbic system and some cortical regions…please lie down, I’ll conduct a full scan.’

The head scanning unit closed over her as she was lying on the medical bed and the doctor continued with more ‘hmms’.

‘Did you have any telepathic contact with a member of a telepathic species in the last couple of hours?’ he asked.

‘Yes, Vulcan’ she said flat out.

‘I see.’ the doctor answered.

‘When did the contact occur exactly?’ he asked.

‘Four days ago’ she answered.

‘Four days ago?’ the doctor replied alarmed.

‘Yes, what’s wrong, doctor?’ she asked.

‘Ensign’ the doctor replied, ‘in most cases there’s a similar kind of brain activity in a non-telepathic species right after a Vulcan mind meld, but it usually disappears during maximal two or three hours afterwards. Your readings would be unusually high for right after a mind meld, but you’re telling me the telepathic contact occurred four days ago.’

She looked puzzled.

‘Who did the mind meld and what did you try to accomplish?’ he asked – then something seemed to dawn to him, ‘has it been Vorik?’

She nodded.

‘That explains it,’ he replied.

‘Why, is something wrong with Vorik?’ she asked.

‘No, but my guess is that he didn’t do the kind of mind meld I have in my medical data base.’ the doctor said in a tone that indicated that Celes made a very interesting patient today.

She looked at him puzzled.

‘I didn’t know there are different types of mind melds. Why don’t you have them all on file?’ she asked.

‘Because Vulcans are very private about some of their practices.’ he answered looking her directly in the eye, ‘can you please describe the mind meld for me, Ensign?’

‘He first put the fingertips of his right hand on the left side of my face, but then he quickly changed position and had both of his hands under my chin’ she answered, trying to keep her tone as neutral as possible.

‘Hmm…’ he said, ‘Ensign, there isn’t much I can do about it for now, but I’d like you to wear a cortical monitor for 24 hours, then we’ll see how this develops. If you experience any dizziness or headache I can give you something.’ He placed a cortical monitor below her left ear.

‘Um, doctor’ she said, ‘I don’t have any pain or dizziness, but I have the feeling that this mind meld is still somewhat there, that there’s still some telepathic connection between Vorik and me.’

‘How does that feeling manifests itself, Ensign?’ he asked.

‘It’s hard to explain, but when I’m in his vicinity I feel his presence sort of and I feel like I could read his mind.’ she said.

‘That’s interesting, how does the feeling to read his mind express itself?’ he asked.

Well, I feel feelings which aren’t mine, but his’ she tries to explain, ‘but then I’m not sure if I really did or just imagined it.’

‘That would explain these readings,’ the doctor concluded, ‘there is probably still a telepathic connection between you. Must have been a hell of a mind meld’ he added smirking.

But Celes didn’t seem to find that funny, ‘is there any way to break that connection?’

He considered her seriously ‘not that I know of, Ensign, but we should observe this for a while before looking for any medical options of intervention’. He paused, ‘Ensign, did this happen against your will?’ he asked concerned.

‘No,’ she answered shaking her head, ‘but things haven’t worked out…and I didn’t know that there would be this kind of lasting effect…’

He sighed, ‘which is why you should get permission from your medical officer before assuming intimate relations with a member of another species’ he replied stressing every word.

She pursed her lips.

‘Ensign’ he said exasperated, ‘I’m no counselor, but have you tried to talk to Vorik about this?’

She sighed. ‘How do you talk to a Vulcan about your feelings?’

‘Well,’ he answered, ‘you may have a point. As I said, I’m no counselor. – And quite glad about that I might add…’

‘Thank you, doctor’ she said before he could babble on further, ‘I’ll see you again tomorrow.

***

Chapter 12

After another couple of days her brain readings haven’t gone any more towards normal and she felt she couldn’t get fully over him until this telepathic connection could get broken. She wasn’t sure though that the connection was really that strong and not just her imagination, maybe she just couldn’t get over him or still had hopes that somehow they could resolve their differences.

She decided to approach Vorik, look how he reacts, maybe talk to him and settle things, they are both adults after all and shouldn’t behave like sulking teenagers.

 ***

When she entered the galley and saw Vorik sitting alone by the window nursing some soup or stew with a spoon. She picked up Neelix’ creation of the day – a bowl of unidentifiable stew – and sat down on Vorik’s table.

‘Hi!’

‘Hello Celes,’ he replied with his usual Vulcan calm, but she thought to hear a hint of warmth in it, she smiled slightly at him. He didn’t smile back, but Celes was now sure she felt some warmth radiating from him to her. Maybe it was this damn telepathic connection.

‘Is it edible?’ she asked looking at his stew.

‘I think it is not poisonous and nutritional sufficient’ he answered with his dry humor, ‘but for the culinary value I cannot guarantee’.

‘Well, nothing better than a good tongue-twisting meal from Neelix to train you for delta quadrant survival’, she answered.

‘Maybe he will prepare some traditional Bajoran meals next week for the Gratitude festival’ Vorik said in a conversational tone.

‘Oh great, I can’t wait to taste Neelix’ version of hasperath,’ she chuckled nervously, ‘at least the heat will be authentic albeit achieved with Talaxian spices and who knows what else.’

Then there was a moment of silence as she considered him.

‘Will you be there?’ she asked and paused. ‘I can help you with writing your renewal scroll’ she quickly added in a tone that was supposed to sound joking.

‘So you can fulfill your Bajoran need to pay me back for helping you with your sensor diagnostics’ he said in his usual dry Vulcan humor-tone, not betraying any emotion regarding the prospect of attending the festival together or speaking again more than three words to each other.

‘Someone has to help you, otherwise the prophets would get bored by all the logic…where is the sense in writing a renewal scroll if you can logically anticipate different courses of the future and simply make the logical choice instead of brooding on your next steps and still wondering what the heck will happen like us emotionally handicapped species asking the prophets for guidance…?’ she said trying to sound quick-witted.

‘But let me point out that this is a very acute observation of you. Since the rules of logic never change, Vulcans don’t have the need for renewal scrolls’, he said in a dry humorous slightly condescending tone.

‘You don’t know what you’re missing’ she replied in a tone of importance. ‘We used to hike up to mount Tala, the whole village gathered there and we burned the scrolls in a big fire while watching the sunset. Most Bajorans think that the Uzuri hill region is so harsh and barren, but I love the vastness of it…before I joined Starfleet I used to go on long hikes if I needed to think about something’. She felt good to have a conversation with him again, but maybe she shouldn’t go too deeply into nostalgia and other emotional territories right now.

‘I also used to go on long hikes through the desert. I volunteered for the center of nature preservation and counted the signs of selath population in a designated area’ he replied and Celes thought she caught a glimpse of a Vulcan desert landscape in her imagination, or was it a telepathic image from his mind?

‘Vorik’ she said attentive ‘I think I just got an image from you, can you think of that again?’ He looked at her, slightly startled and then started describing the landscape verbally, but she wanted to see that beautiful image in his mind again and feel what it was like for him to be there.

‘In most regions of Vulcan the sand is yellow,’ he explained, ‘but where I was raised the sand is red like clay from the amount of…’

She tried to concentrate on what he was seeing in his mind instead of the descriptions and explanations, she automatically gripped his hand to get a better connection. As result he suddenly stopped talking and she felt something like embarrassment coming from him while they both quickly withdrew their hands and he stole a quick glance around him to see if anybody had seen them holding hands.

‘I’m sorry’ she said nervously ‘I didn’t mean to embarrass you…this telepathic connection it is so strange, I’ve never felt anything like it’ she blurted out.

He didn’t respond. She felt more embarrassment coming from him (and from herself), not to mention a definite reluctance to talk about the subject she just started – their relationship and what had happened that night. He took a gulp from his water glass. A few minutes before he seems to be happy to see her – although he wouldn’t admit that – and now he seems to wish he didn’t even know her.

She felt torn between anger about being emotionally ignored and reluctance to show him how much this was hurting her. ‘Vorik’ she whispered, trying to stay calm, ‘if you’re afraid of doing, thinking or feeling anything un-Vulcan because of me…you can act Mr. Iceberg in front of everyone else, but you don’t have to pretend with me! I can read your freaking mind because of what happened five days ago and you can probably read mine…’ She drew a breath. ‘We’re far from the alpha quadrant, we don’t know if we’ll ever see our homes again and non of our folks at home need to know what happened between us if you can’t bear the shame, but please drop this silly act in front of me!’

He was stunned and seemed at a loss for words.

‘I’m sorry, I need to go’ she hastily left the room before she would make a scene in front of half the crew they would both regret. She tried to calm down while she stomped to the turbo lift. When she entered the lift she heard quick steps behind her. Vorik came in and the doors closed.

‘Computer, astrometrics and then engineering’, he said in a calm voice Celes found difficult to bear, but after a second he said ‘halt turbo lift…Celes, I’m sorry I upset you…talking about…emotions…isn’t easy for me.’ Every word seemed painful to spit out. ‘But that doesn’t mean…that I don’t have any’ he added in a low whisper.

She couldn’t resist the urge to hug him and hold him tightly, feeling his warmth and fighting against tears. He slowly put his arms around her and they seemed locked together for a moment and she felt a hint of that warm sea again.

‘I should have known, the ears are a dead give-away’ she tried to say in a joking voice, but it came out in hoarse sobs. ‘And I have to learn how to control my Bajoran temper’.

They unlocked their arms, she felt like she was shaking.

‘Computer, resume!’ he said. The turbo lift made its usual working sound and then came to a halt.

See you later then!’ – she quickly kissed him on his right cheek as she left.

‘And telepathy isn’t ‘mind reading’, that’s an undifferentiated vernacular expression meshing together various different processes’ he said in a low voice.

‘What you say’, she replied and headed towards astrometrics still feeling like she was shaking, but she couldn’t stop smiling the whole rest of the day.

***

Chapter 13 – Epilog

Vorik was fixing a problem on a simple chain of lights Neelix wanted to put up for the Gratitude festival.

‘Neelix’, Vorik asked while Neelix was decorating, ‘you led a very different life before you came to Voyager?’

‘Yes, Ensign’ Neelix answered and looked at him, ‘after the war I thought I had lost everything except for bare survival, then I met Kes and shortly after that Voyager, which became my new home and my new family.’

‘So when you were accepted by the Captain as guide you anticipated a change of your way of life’, Vorik concluded, but there was a slight question in his voice.

‘Well,’ Neelix paused, ‘I knew at that point I’ve hit a new road, but it took me quite a while to realize my life had really changed and that I have changed too.’

‘It must have been quite a change to live with strangers unfamiliar with your home culture. How did you re-define the parameters of your behavioral patterns to integrate yourself into an alien crew?’

Neelix chuckled a bit nervous and thought for a moment. ‘I didn’t…re-define parameters. I just took what came up day by day.’ Vorik raised both his eyebrows. He fumbled on the chain of lights and it suddenly started to glow in multiple colors.

‘That’s it!’ Neelix said happy.

***

Vorik pressed Celes’ door chime and waited. The door opened and she stood there in a colorful skirt, ‘Hi!’ she said. ‘Hello Celes’ he answered and offered her his arm. She took it and said in a teasing tone, ‘so… is hand-holding in public allowed too?’

‘It would be illogical to put you into emotional turmoil compromising your efficiency just for refraining from a simple body contact’ he answered neutrally.

‘Oh,’ she replied with a smile and an odd sparkle in her eyes, ‘so I can kiss you in public too?’

‘Negative’, he said sternly, ‘that would be a breach of Starfleet protocol.’ But you can kiss me later, he added telepathically.

She chuckled and gave him a slight elbow check, ‘that I will.’

– The End –

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