Prologue | I | II | III | IV | V | VI | VII | VIII | IX | X
Title: Zahvan T’Masu
Fandom: ST TOS
Characters: T’Nis, Starek
Notes: Starek arrives at the house in the desert, meets his dinner companions, meets his bedroom, does not interact with both at the same time.
Although her city apartment is more practical, T’Nis also maintains a retreat in the desert northeast of Los Angeles. The exterior exhibits more than a few Wright influences, the main one being how it is cantilevered out over the desert floor. The interior is a mid-23rd century celebration of nature. Wood and stone are abundant, echoing the warm tones of the region. When T’Nis is in residence, she often plays host to those interested Vulcan society and culture.
Starek arrives, in the smoldering heat of the late-afternoon sun — that relentless, omnipresent blanket of burning that, in a way, reminds him of all the things he never liked about Vulcan. Oddly, his thick, black robes seem to insulate rather well against the heat, and he’d give the Vulcans that on the fashion front.
Smoothing his expression, in case he isn’t the only visitor, he rings the door chime.
The door is opened by a short blonde sporting a Vulcan haircut. However, nothing else about her is even remotely Vulcan, especially not her bikini top and the sarong she is wearing as a skirt.
"Oh hi," she cocks her head, leaning on the door and arching one foot in the manner of a ballet dancer. "C’mon in. T’Nis said there were some guests coming over tonight. I guess you’re one of them, huh?"
She has backed up to allow him access, but in a flash, steps forward to pick up the cat that has tried dart across the threshold.
"Oh no you don’t. Coyotes’ll get you."
She smiles at Starek, cuddling the creature. "Silly thing. By the way, my name’s Amber."
She puts out a hand. There is ink on it.
He raises his hand and his eyebrow, simultaneously, the hand forming the traditional ta’al, on the incorrect side, as always.
"So it would appear. Greetings, Amber, I am Starek."
In truth, he’d be just as likely to shake the inky hand, nuzzle the cat, and go for an ass-grab, but he is making an effort to appear at least slightly Vulcan, for the duration. Thus, he nods deeply. It is almost a shallow bow.
"Oh, sorry, I forgot!"
She makes the ta’al, also on the incorrect side, and smiles again by way of apology.
"Here, the place is kinda big. I’ll take you."
Amber leads him down the corridor, past several rooms, and up a wide stone staircase with no risers and no bannister. There are plenty of windows and skylights, so that the illumination at this time of day is natural. Starek can hear the sounds of a stringed instrument from one of the rooms at the end of the hall, and it is towards this that Amber moves, her bare feet making little slapping sounds on the wood here.
The music room contains a human woman of asian descent with a ka’athyra against her shoulder. She is playing well. T’Nis is reclining on the same divan, absorbed in a PADD.
She looks up to see Starek and rises from her lounge.
"Tonk’peh, d’Vel’nahr. Your journey was not difficult, I trust?"
His lip twitches in amusement, as he makes the same slight bow to T’Nis.
"Y’rani.The journey was as any other." He looks around the room. "Your companions are fascinating. I had not been aware the lute was taught off-world."
"It is an experiment, I admit. But I believe that one should should always allow individuals the opportunities to express their talents" She gives Starek a conspiratoral look. "For example, Amber here is a prodigy. Her calligraphy is exceptional."
The blonde, who’d been cradling the cat while belly dancing to the tune of the lyre, grins at the compliment.
"Amber. If you would be so kind as to put Khart-lan down and bring up those trays of refreshments. Commander Starek must be parched by now. Amber, are you listening?"
"And have Cash come up as well. I want to see what you two have been working on all afternoon."
He manages to keep his eyes focused on T’Nis, cocking his head in acknowledgement as she compliments Amber’s calligraphy. He knows not to look. He will not lose focus, even if she has already made the truth of him known with a single word. If he does not acknowledge it, if he continues to play smoothly, they will likely forget, if they truly heard, at all.
T’Nis turned to the lute player. "Skye, that was lovely. I’m going to show Commander Starek where he’ll be staying tonight. We’ll be back shortly."
Starek follows T’Nis up the stairs. "What is she? Amber, I mean. She is … visually confusing."
She leads him out of the room, down the hall, and up a second flight of stairs. The room they end up in faces west. It is bright, now, full of sunlight. T’Nis polarizes the windows so that they won’t be blinded
"Amber", says T’Nis, turning away from the windows. "Is a test. So was the word I used to greet you. Be at your ease. I have made a habit of using d’Vel’nahr to whoever stays here, regardless of race. My students have become used to hearing it as a compliment."
She cocks her head at Starek. "You are uncomfortable, " she observes. "Only I have seen it thus far. However, Spock is as watchful, if not more so. You will need to do better." Her tones are dulcet, but the feelings behind them are anything but. "I had intended this to be a pleasurable evening for all of us. Do not disappoint me, Commander."
"I have no doubt he will notice my discomfort, and I, as I have been pirate of some small reputation, should be able to pass it off as a … logical consequence of my actions. I am, by nature, a suspicious creature, as one must be, in my line of work."
"Now, The restroom is through there. I have stocked it with what you specified, as well as a few other items you might need. Anything in the closet is at your disposal as well."
He bows more broadly to her. "My thanks for your assistance in that regard. I have no intention of disappointing you. Far from it, in fact."
"No doubt your talents will assert themselves before long."
The corner of his mouth twitches up as he gracefully sidesteps the comment."A fascinating circumstance, you have here. I find myself significantly intrigued by your manner of living."
She seats herself on a corner of the bed, ankles crossed neatly. "What about my manner of living intrigues you, Commander?"
"You have chosen, as I have, to surround yourself with others who are not of your species. Unlike me, you have chosen to teach them in the arts of your … former home. I find it fascinating to witness the effects of Vulcan artistry without, it appears, the whole of Vulcan philosophy behind them." He takes a relaxed stance, symmetrical and balanced, but with his arms crossed behind his back.
"As to my talents, I’d be happy to give you a sneak preview, but I doubt we have the time for such things." This time, the look on his face is distinctly Romulan, but it vanishes as swiftly as it appears, back into an almost-Vulcan stoicism.
T’Nis allows her gaze to linger on Starek, to sweep him, in fact. His self-assurance is more than a little provoking, but it excites her nonetheless. She rises and walks towards him, holding his gaze, a smile playing on her lips. "A ‘sneak preview’. How intriguing. But contrary, I think, to our primary objective."
T’Nis is now closer than even when he guided her to the bridge of the Renunciation. For the space of a single breath, she allows her body to graze his.
"Give me what I want. Then we’ll see about the rest."
With that, and a knowing look, she is gone.
He shuts himself in the bathroom and turns on the shower, before he allows the laugh to escape. The running water will conceal the sound well enough. Two Vulcans, possibly in as many days — an irresistible challenge, even if his interest in the second is mostly for the sake of form. Leave no potential enjoyment unconquered, he thinks.
But, now it was time to compose himself appropriately. Soon, he would be close enough to breathe the same air as the infamous Spock. It would be both his pleasure and his duty to see that one undone — time to work a little harder on his androgynous good looks, and possibly to add a bit of colour to cover the faintly Romulan tone that remains in his skin.