Disclaimer: I don't own Star Trek.
This story directly follows another fan work, called 'What Men Dare Do'. It is written like the review of an actual episode. It was originally written as an Aprils Fools day prank, of a sort. I really liked it, and it prompted me to continue where it left off.
To read 'What Men Dare Do', just type into Google ' Star Trek Re-Watch: "What Men Dare Do" ', and it will be the first link that comes up.
In pursuit of knowledge
Mr. Chekov had been astonished that he wanted it back. He had to repeat himself, before the Ensign finally told him that he had given it to Nurse Chapel.
Spock suppressed an annoyed sigh. He would admit that the nurse's help in their last conflict with the Klingons had been invaluable. In fact, purely from a scientific point of view, her work was quite impressive.
Nevertheless, the horga'hn was his. Ambassador April had given it to him personally, as a sign of his scientific achievements. Not to mention that he was the science officer and as such held a kind of seniority among the scientific community of the Enterprise. If anyone was to carry the horga'hn it was him. Even if the natives' response left much to be desired. He sighed again. Well, Risians weren't exactly known for their appreciation of the sciences.
The next thing he did, was to scan for Nurse Chapel's bio signs to locate where she was. It was remarkable how fast she seemed to change location. Spock couldn't even begin to think what could possibly interest her there. Once she seemed to stay put at one place, he went to the transporter room and gave the chief the beam-down coordinates. Ignoring the Lieutenant's surprised look, he moved to one of the transporter pads.
It was true, the captain had only granted shore leave for the women who had been left behind, but it had been easy for him to get one more day of shore leave. He practically never requested leave. In fact, Jim and Doctor McCoy had to regularly coax him into taking some time off. So when he had told Jim that he wanted to go down to the planet, his friend had gladly allowed it.
He materialized on the beach, where the daily sunset celebration was in full swing. There were little stands in front of him and stands behind. The little roads in between were bright on either side with moving lantern-like lights and couples seemed to float through the air.
The crowd of people was so great that he couldn't see the sea, much less the sunset; the noise was deafening. There seemed to be musicians on a pedestal that probably passed as a stage. They hadn't begun playing yet, and the noise was so great it seemed that when they did, the music would never be heard.
When he spotted her sitting beside a Risian man, engaged in lively conversation that, by the way she was holding it in front of her new acquaintance, seemed to involve his horga'hn, he quite forgot how at beaming down he had almost asked the chief to beam him up again and moved over to her.
Chapel didn't see him until he was standing in front of her, throwing a big, looming shadow in her direction that didn't bode well. She jumped a little. "Commander," she said, her voice high and definitely a little squeaky.
Spock first turned towards her companion. Dressed in uniform, his hands behind his back, his feet in one line, he was very much Starfleet impersonated. The Risian took the hint, stood up and turning towards her, said: "Excuse me, please. I'll be over at the bar." He winked at her and left.
Once they were alone, Spock became uncomfortable with the situation. There was something about the air or maybe the climate. He was uncomfortably aware of the heat, even though it was still acceptable for humans, nowhere hot enough by his standards. Yet, she had been in company,which he found rather unexpected, and now he was left alone with her. He looked down and resisted the urge to shuffle his feet. Finally he started to talk, hesitatingly, haltingly. "I wanted to ask you to return the horga'hn."
Chapel reacted the same way Chekov had, with disbelief. "You want the horga'hn?"
"Yes. I know that Mr. Chekov gave it to you, but he borrowed it from me," said Spock, then added, "It is mine."
"Did you just beam down to get it back?"
"Yes, I –"
"Do you actually intend to do something with it or did you just want to keep me from using it?" Chapel's voice had a definite edge to it.
Spock looked away, into the distance, and then straightened, his eyes focusing on her. "I did not mean to imply that you are not qualified to carry it. Your scientific achievements certainly allow you to carry the horga'hn, especially after your work during our latest crisis. But Ambassador April gave it to me as a present, and he insisted I carry it with me at all times."
The nurse was thrilled to receive such high praise. Still, some things needed to be clarified. "Spock... are you sure you understand the purpose of the horga'hn?"
Spock raised an eyebrow. "Of course. It is a symbol that is carried by someone who seeks knowledge. But if I understood correctly, the carrier should be a scientist of some distinction, deserving admiration and respect."
"Uh... I don't think that's quite right."
"I assure you, it is. Ambassador April told me so himself."
Chapel chewed her bottom lip, trying to decide which action would get her fastest to her goal. She just wanted to spend a nice evening and maybe find out what Jamaharon was, exactly. For that she needed the horga'hn. The nice man who had just left and was now chatting up some exotic beauty, would have come in handy, too. He had offered to help her achieve Jamaharon. Well, she had lost him over Spock's misguided troubles but she wasn't going to lose the horga'hn as well. "I really don't see the problem, Mr. Spock. You had it with you the whole time you were down here, right? So what if I borrow it for a while? Or do you think that I don't deserve admiration and respect?"
Spock became visibly uncomfortable at that. "I assure you, Ms. Chapel, I was not implying that. But the ambassador might find out.."
"If... I do not wish the ambassador to think that I gave it away. He might think that I did not appreciate his present and the respect it implied for my achievements."
Chapel became thoughtful. "And you do appreciate it. His opinion means a lot to you."
"He is a man of great abilities. It is agreeable that the respect is mutual."
Chapel wasn't sure how to answer that. She couldn't bring herself to tell him directly that April had made him the receiving end of his practical joke. "Mr. Spock, I think Mr. April got it wrong."
"Wrong? Wrong in what way?"
"The horga'hn's just there to show you're seeking Jamaharon. It's got nothing to do with sciences."
"Jamaharon is about seeking truth and knowledge."
"No, really, it isn't. Pavel tried to tell you –"
"Mr. Chekov implied... I believe, it is because of Risa's popularity in all forms of entertainment that humans favour, that certain myths have developed. Some humans heard of Jamaharon and didn't know its exact meaning and substituted their fantasy for fact. Their expectations of Risian culture were of course highly prejudiced and –"
"Hold on, Spock. That's just – listen, I think you've got it wrong, and – I mean –"
"That was not very articulate."
"Why thank you."
Spock raised an eyebrow.
Chapel gave an exasperated sigh. "All right, all right. Believe what you want, but please let me have the horga'hn for the evening. I promise I'll return it in the morning. See that woman over there?" – she pointed to an attractive Risian, surrounded by a lively group of people – "Her name's Yul. She is some kind of facilitator, I think. Anyway, she's organized a kind of meeting for everyone who seeks Jamaharon, and she allowed me to go along, and it would be really rude to just disappear now, so you see –"
"You are to experience Jamaharon?"
"I was hoping I could, yes."
Again, a rush of heat, accompanied by a strange restlessness, and something that should have been anger. "You are – It is my horga'hn. Surely, I should be considered first."
"For experiencing Jamaharon, of course. As the Enterprise's science officer, I –"
"Mr. Spock, believe me. You don't want to experience Jamaharon. You –"
"Ms. Chapel, I find your attempts at deception rather insulting. Curiosity is certainly an asset for a scientist and I can understand that you are interested in this experience. But to use my horga'hn without my permission, without asking me if I might be interested in the experience myself – in fact, trying to convince me that Mr. Chekov's absurd theory is true – I have to say your behaviour is unbecoming a Starfleet officer." He was going to say more, but he noticed the hurt expression in her eyes and stopped.
The very human nurse was on the verge of crying. She was angry, and confused, and sad, but she swallowed the lump in her throat. "Fine, Mr. Spock. If you don't believe me, let's go over and you can ask Yul." And with that she marched off, towards the woman in the middle of the ever increasing group of people. Spock followed her.
Yul greeted her with a dazzling smile. "Hello, darling. There you are. We are just about ready to go."
"Wait a moment, please," Spock chimed in. "I would like to point out that Ms. Chapel borrowed my horga'hn and–"
"Oh! Do you seek Jamaharon as well?" Yul's look was intense, her concentration solely on him.
Suddenly, Spock became aware that people around him had fallen silent and were staring at him. Chapel was glaring. After all the fuss he had made about it, there really was only one answer. "Yes," he said.
"With Christine?" Yul asked, and a strange look came into her eyes, thoughtful, alert and with an unidentifiable quality to it.
Spock thought about the question. As annoyed as he was about the nurse jumping over his head, he still thought she deserved to take part. In fact, he felt rather guilty for taking away the horga'hn from her. "That is acceptable," he finally concluded, while Christine said "No!" at the same time.
Spock turned to her, and was rather dismayed by her horrified look. "Lieutenant, are you questioning my abilities?"
Christine reminded herself that it was unwise to question Spock's scientific abilities – and suppressed a giggle at the other interpretation of his question. "No, of course not. I–"
"I should think not. And I also want to say that I have full confidence in your abilities. I am certain it will be a fascinating experience."
Yul grinned like the cat that got the canary. "Yes, I'm sure it will be. Very unusual, but I'm convinced you'll attain exquisite knowledge together."
Spock seemed rather pleased with the assessment. "Indeed," he said.
Christine covered her eyes with her hands. This just couldn't be happening.
They started walking towards the great hotel hall, where everything was set up for them. Christine had stood still, until Spock had practically dragged her after him.
Christine decided to try it one more time. "Mr. Spock, this is very important to Risians. You can't just leave in the middle of it, that would be an unforgivable insult."
"I am well aware of that, Ms. Chapel. I assure you, I have no intention of leaving."
"But doesn't it strike you as suspicious that you're supposed to experience Jamaharon with me?"
"Do you still insist on Mr. Chekov's theory?"
"I do, yes!"
"As you wish," he almost sighed and turned to one of the natives. "Excuse me, sir. Is it necessary to experience Jamaharon with a member of the opposite sex?"
The Risian looked at him curiously, then smiled. "Oh, no. What a strange thought. It is difficult enough to reach that state, as it is. Feel free to try with whoever you like; men, women, any number of people. Why? Do you want to try it with someone else?"
"No, my colleague is satisfactory."
"Satisfactory, huh? Well, if you'd rather try it with a man –"
"No, he would not!" Christine chimed in and steered Spock away from the overly helpful Risian.
Spock turned to her. "Now that all your reservations have been addressed, I would strongly recommend you cease your accusations and respect the traditions here."
Anger shot through her, paralysing her for an instant, and then it was too late, the sun was long gone, it was dark and they were at the entrance, and no one was turning back.
The doors opened, swallowing them all in the dark depths of a scented other-world.
It was easy from then on; only the dimmed lamp lights, their tiny fires shivering at every movement of air, their tremors transformed, transplanted to the walls, and ceiling, and the ground under their feet; the rhythm of their goings inexplicably linked to the beats of the music that seemed to come from all directions; the shadows dancing around, caressingly moving about their bodies, about the flower petals strewn on the ground, their lush, crisp texture and violent colours – burning red and hot pink and flame orange – in contrast to their softness, yielding, as they crushed under their feet, cutting roads through the landscape of the room like thin lava streams, blurring the contrasts between the hard floor and the decadent softness of the islands of pillows strewn around almost randomly.
For him, it was the flowers, their smell suffusing his very being, seeping inside his skin, all around him, and all its nuances, the separate scents joined together, forming one entity, and it was all in their smell and colour and feel under his hands and elbows and then under his hair, tickling his ear, and all the seeking and finding of knowledge was in the crushed petals in his fingers.
For her it was the music and the shadows dancing to it, like the tides of the sea, the ebb and flow, revolving and ever revolving, rolling over and over like waves, each beat like the crash of a wave, the flap of a wave, rising and falling and ever and ever rising, until it all overflowed, coming crashing down on them, drowning out everything as the final wave broke, shattered in a million pieces.
First there was a sensation of heat, followed by awareness. It took her a moment to fight off the disorientation, but as soon as her memory returned, she jerked up, the sudden flush of adrenalin eradicating every last trace of sleep in an instant. She sat up and looked around. Her commanding officer was still asleep, the myriad of pillows and soft fabrics all around him doing nothing to conceal him. Luckily, she was the only one awake. It was just dawning, the light reaching through the windows not yet enough to disturb the sleep of the people strewn around the room.
She retrieved her own clothes, while shaking Spock into awareness, then dragged out her bra from where it lay under his shoulder. He sat up quickly, as if expecting an attack any moment. He looked up at her, and she watched the awareness of their situation sink in.
"It never –"
"This never happened," they said almost simultaneously.
Without looking at each other, without as much as exchanging another word, they got dressed and made their way to the exit as quietly as they could, hoping to get there before anyone else woke up.
Yul was waiting for them there, a bright smile on her face. "You Starfleet people really are something else, outstanding at everything you do. I'm never going to doubt the stories of your exploits again. Let me just say that you'll always be welcome to join us again, any time you're on Risa. Whether you want to experience Jamaharon with others or once more with each other–"
They could not flee fast enough.
They agreed to beam up from separate locations, first one, then the other. Chapel pulled out her communicator to beam up first.
They were never going to discuss the experience in the future, but Spock decided at least one thing needed to be acknowledged. "I wanted to say, it was an outstanding performance."
"Oh, shut up," she managed to reply before the beam took her.