ONE BAZAAR DAY
By M. C. Pehrson
Word Count: 2,487
Rating: PG, for mild violence and a kiss
Summary: Spock and Nyota get themselves into trouble during a stop at a bazaar.
Written for Spock-Quinto in the new Star Trek timeline….
It was the most beautiful sweater she had ever seen. With a cry of sheer delight, Nyota Uhura snatched it from the trader’s table and hugged its downy softness against her red uniform tunic. “Oh, look—isn’t it fabulous?”
Christine Chapel flashed a dubious smile. “Well, yes, it’s nice, but…”
Nyota scarcely heard as she brushed aside two T’hean shoppers to grin and pose outrageously at a mirror. “Dhu-lapa wool! Feel how soft, Chris. And the color—Helexia’s lilac ocean—the foam, right where it kisses the shore.” Her fingertip traced a line of delicate, doe-eyed creatures. “And dhu-lapas, knit right in…” Intent on the skillful workmanship, she failed to notice her companion’s sudden blush and therefore had no reason to wonder about it. “I simply must have this sweater, regardless…”
“But of course you will not,” came a firm, familiar voice from behind.
Nyota’s dark complexion hid her own blush as she whirled to face the superior officer with whom she was romantically involved. “Spock! I … uh …”
The half-Vulcan appeared unsympathetic. “Dhu-lapa products are on the Federation Trade Council’s list of restricted goods. They are as illegal as …” He blandly eyed the offending garment. “… Romulan ale. Have you forgotten?”
Nyota sighed. If anything had ever slipped that astute mind of his, it would probably fit on the tip of a scriber. With room to spare. After one lingering caress, she put the illicit sweater back and turned from the downy vision. Spock had observed her every move.
“Thank-you for the reminder,” she said with the merest hint of sarcasm.
Missing the irony, Spock briefly inclined his head and shifted his attention to the jostling marketplace crowd where the galaxy’s lower elements were well-represented. As humanoids brushed appendages with various other beings, the resulting exchanges were at times vocal and even violent.
Spock made way for a pack of brutish Tellarites, shielding Nyota and Christine from the leering, pig-faced ruffians. “This port has certainly changed. I cannot imagine how you’ve escape harm to this point.”
Nyota’s level of annoyance rose. “Spock, it’s an interplanetary bazaar. It’s supposed to be lively.”
“We had better stay in a group,” he decided. “Come with me, ladies.”
Christine seemed all too willing to accompany him, but Nyota was less than pleased. This venture was meant to be a “girl’s day out”, and Spock had already spoiled it. As he moved them through the crowd, his true intent became increasingly clear. They were heading for the beam-down point—two weak, defenseless females banished to the Enterprise like a fragile pair of …
Nyota stopped in her tracks and loudly objected. “Mister Spock! This is completely unnecessary. We are, after all, thoroughly trained in self-defense. Academy trained, like yourself.” And she could not resist adding, “You’ve seen me hold my own with Klingons, for pity sake.”
Spock spared her a quick glance. “I am not denigrating your defense skills, but I see no reason for putting those skills to the test here in a common bazaar.”
She smiled sweetly as her gaze skimmed over the turmoil. “I think it’s rather exciting.”
Spock continued on, busily scanning the walkways and shops.
Finally Christine asked, “Commander, are you looking for someone?”
Coming to a stop, he peered into a dingy shop window as he spoke. “I am looking mainly to avoid incident. Surely you have noticed the hostile stares these Starfleet uniforms are attracting. There may be crewmembers in difficulty.” Using his blue sleeve, he rubbed a layer of grime from the glass and took another look. Then he pulled out his communicator and flipped it open.
“Spock to Enterprise…”
“Kirk here,” came the captain’s swift response. “How’s shore leave?”
“Sir, the mood is decidedly unfriendly. Due to a large influx of undesirables, I strongly advise recalling all shore parties immediately.”
Nyota groaned. Captain Kirk relied heavily on Spock’s judgment, and sure enough, shore leave was officially canceled.
Spock closed his communicator with a satisfied snap, and ignoring her glare, walked on. They were making slow progress through the interplanetary rabble when he suddenly steered them to an alcove outside a seedy-looking business.
“Wait here,” he ordered. “I may have glimpsed a crewman passing through this door. It will take me but a moment to investigate.”
“But Spock,” purred Nyota, “is that really a good idea? Going in among this rough bunch all by yourself?”
Looking appropriately insulted, he entered the building.
The “moment” of waiting stretched. For a time, Nyota and Christine amused themselves by observing the passing galactic oddities, but eventually even that wore thin.
“I do believe he’s been seduced by that den of iniquity,” Nyota huffed. “What could he possibly be doing in there?”
Christine looked uneasy. “You don’t suppose he’s in some kind of trouble?”
“Trouble? Spock the Invincible? Chris, mind your tongue.” Nyota firmly crossed her arms. “Look, you might as well go back to the ship. I’ll wait here a little longer.”
But she really was worried and had no intention of waiting. As soon as Christine’s blonde head vanished into the crowd, Nyota slipped through the mysterious doorway.
Soothing music played in a smoky lounge full of chairs, mats, and long sofas. The interstellar customers scarcely gave her a glance; judging by the stench of tulpa weed, they were too stupefied to pose any serious threat. An ugly, slavering, grunting lot—but no sign of Spock.
With growing concern, Nyota headed into the next chamber. This place was larger, brighter, and smelled of exotic food. Small gold-skinned aliens bustled about carrying steaming platters. In a far corner, something was belching.
After a quick search, she moved on to a scarlet room where sensual music pounded. An overwhelmingly male audience huddled around a central stage where a pair of green Orion women gyrated seductively. Spock here? Better not be!
As she stepped gingerly among the patrons, something whipped out of the gloom and seized her ankle. She yelped in surprise and kicked out hard with her other boot. There was a throaty growl, then she was free.
Nyota rushed into an empty hallway, where she stopped to get her bearings. The unknown accoster did not come after her. Even so, her sense of adventure was considerably dampened as she studied three doors leading off the corridor. A brief peek behind the first door was quite enough. She had heard about most every form of debauchery in the known galaxy, but somehow she had missed that one. And still no Spock.
With only two doors left, she was growing truly alarmed. Spock could be aggravating, but the thought of losing him sent her heart into her throat. She reached for a knob and turned it. As the door swung aside, she found herself staring into an anteroom of hell. Crackling bursts of lightning flared through the air. There were whimpers of pain and low, cruel laughter. The place reeked of charred fur and flesh
Then abruptly it all made sense. Nyota stepped into the room and was nearly sick. It was a laser-dart parlor, but not the innocent diversion so popular aboard the Enterprise. Here the entertainment featured living creatures. A tough-looking bunch of humanoids were happily firing away at pinioned animals. But they were not … quite … all animals. One badly singed Edosian hung with all three arms and three legs splayed upon the targeting wall. And nearby, a two-legged Vulcan in Starfleet blue was similarly restrained.
Drinks were being served. Meeting Spock’s dark, unfathomable gaze, Nyota snatched some sort of strong beverage from a tray and gulped it. A laser-dart fired. Spock flinched ever so slightly as the beam zapped uncomfortably near his neck, but otherwise he seemed composed.
Nyota reached for her communicator and found it missing. Some pickpocket in the crowds, no doubt.
Her mind awhirl, she glanced around, knowing that she must act, and quickly. Her eyes lit on the bar, then its keeper, a wallowing mountain of a man with a thick dark braid swinging over one shoulder. She watched him give the bar top a neat swipe with its bushy tip. Then he looked up.
“Cram!” she cried in recognition. New Arcadia, Hansen’s Planet. One of her more interesting vacations.
The fleshy face crinkled into a smile. “Nyota! What brings my favorite Earther to this corner of the universe? Why, blast, it’s been years!”
Another laser dart sizzled. An animal yelped, then went silent. She tried not to look. “Cram honey, am I ever glad to see you!”
There was a crackling flash … a gasp … and the gamesters roared with laughter. Bracing herself for the worst, Nyota peeked. Spock was alright. It was the Edosian that was finished, with a hole seared through its furry forehead, face contorted in an agonized death mask.
“Poor devil,” she said with a shudder and tore her eyes away. “Dear Cram. Dear, sweet Cram. Do you realize who that is, pinned to your wall?”
The burly human squinted at the target area. “Two mhy-puy, a purple palomid, one … uh … deceased multiped, and a green Vulcan spacer.”
“Right, Cram. The Vulcan also happens to be first officer of the starship Enterprise … and very dear to me.”
Cram shook his head sympathetically. “Oh Ny, that’s too bad. The fellows took a dislike to him. Same with that poor Edosian.”
Fixing Cram with her most intimidating gaze, she spoke slowly and distinctly. “Cram … as I recall, you owe me. Get him down. Now.”
Man Mountain only shrugged. “Sorry, Ny, but that would be bad for business. The boss likes to keep his customers happy.” He flipped his braid toward the raucous group. “See how they’re enjoyin’ themselves?”
A barrage of laser-darts began to fry a smoldering outline around Spock’s body, singing his uniform in several places. But there was no sign of fear in the carefully controlled features as his eyes urged Nyota to get away.
Instead, she slammed her fist down on the bar. “Charge two dart guns to my credit account … and add a nice tip for yourself.”
This was it. With a predatory shriek, she vaulted the target pit barrier and skidded along in a pool of fresh blood. Arriving in front of Spock, she shielded him as best she could while training her pistols on the startled patrons. “Alright, boys, the game is over! Get out of here!”
The men gaped at her in surprise, then amusement. There were smirks and catcalls and various unsavory remarks. And from out of nowhere a laser bolt nearly parted her hair.
Nyota did not even twitch. “Gentlemen. Perhaps you didn’t hear me.”
A low voice at her ear said, “They heard you.” It was Spock.
“Now Ny,” soothed Cram, “don’t act all crazy.”
Holding cutthroats at bay with a pair of dark poppers was insane. They were both going to die. Horribly.
“Go,” came the quiet voice at her ear again.
Nyota focused on her targets as she replied, “Shut up. Sir.”
A laser crackled. It sang past her right ear, into the wall. One scant centimeter from Spock’s armpit.
Nyota exploded into action, firing a rapid barrage at the ruffians’ feet. They tripped over each other as laser darts sliced through shoe leather and stung flesh. There were cries of pain and rich curses, and before the pistols could return fire, a beefy hand yanked them all away.
“Outa here!” Cram growled as he bodily ejected the outraged patrons. “You heard the lady! Out, you worthless bloodworms!” His boot hurried the last escaping rump, then the place was empty.
Cram looked at Nyota. “Well, I’ve probably lost my job … but there ya go, Hon.”
Melting, she dropped her pistols and threw her arms around the massive chest. “Oh, Cram. Dear, sweet Cram. You did it …”
“For you, darlin’, anything.”
Spock seemed unusually quiet. In fact, he had not uttered a single word since regaining the relative safety of the streets.
At last Nyota said, “You came away with nothing worse than singed clothing, yet you didn’t even thank Cram.”
He stared straight ahead as they proceeded to the beam-down point. “Your so-called ‘friend’ would have watched me roast with complete indifference. Until your arrival, he had been doing precisely that.”
“But Cram did save you.”
Spock came to a sudden halt. As the crowd flowed past them, he met Nyota’s eyes with heart-throbbing intensity. “Nyota. Cram assisted you. It was you who assisted me.”
She could not help but smirk. “Yes. I suppose I did manage rather well, considering …”
“I never meant to suggest that you are not capable.”
“Of course you didn’t.”
Refraining from further comment, he continued walking. They arrived at their destination, a secluded area in the far corner of a park. He had managed to keep his communicator, and flipping it open, ordered a transport for Nyota.
“You’re not coming?” she questioned.
“Not yet,” he replied. “I must first verify that every crew member has returned.”
A ring of sparkles enveloped her and he disappeared from her sight.
The Enterprise was soon underway. Clothed in a fresh uniform, Spock acted as cool as if he had spent the entire morning perusing scientific journals, but Nyota suspected that he was secretly embarrassed by the whole affair. It was not until they were off-duty that she entered her cabin and gasped in surprise. Draped over her bunk was the most beautiful sweater … downy soft … the color of Helexia’s lilac ocean … with dhu-lapas knit right in.
Christine! Oh, what a wonderful friend she was turning out to be! But minutes later, Christine seemed genuinely perplexed when Nyota thanked her for the thoughtful gift. Then if it wasn’t Christine, that left only …
Nyota rushed to Spock’s quarters and found him wearing a traditional Vulcan robe, seated for his evening meditation. As he opened his eyes and looked up, she said, “Spock, I’m asking you straight out. Did you buy that dhu-lapa sweater at the bazaar?”
One slanted eyebrow climbed. “Against regulations? Why would you suspect me of purchasing banned trade goods?”
“That’s no answer. I’m asking if you bought it, bartered for it, or otherwise took it into your possession.”
He rose in one smooth, graceful motion. The depths of his dark eyes seemed downright wounded. “Nyota. The wool of dhu-lapas is forbidden by the Federation Trade—”
“Yes. We both know that.” She walked up to him, quite close, her steady gaze demanding the Vulcan truth. “Once more. Did you?”
There was a telling pause. Then quietly he said, “Were I to admit such a thing—and I certainly have not—it would be your duty to report me.”
At that, she drew him near and kissed his mouth tenderly. And though he did not speak another word on the subject, she had her answer.