Jaylah wasn't sure why she needed more clothes than what she already had, but Lieutenant Uhura had insisted that was the case. She'd dragged Jaylah away from Montgomery Scotty and the unfamiliar technology he had been allowing her to play with, so that they could have girl time.
"We're going shopping." Lt. Uhura had stated, as if Jaylah should just know what that meant. A lot of people seemed to be saying things to her that she was supposed to just understand. In the end, they'd ended up at a large building that was filled with many things on racks and shelves. Jaylah had never seen so many articles of clothing before, and it was a little overwhelming.
"What is this place?" Jaylah asked, unsure of what to do.
Lt. Uhura paused briefly, seeming to notice for the first time that Jaylah obviously didn't know what this 'shopping' she spoke of earlier was.
"This is a store. It's where you pick out the things you want, or need, and you trade currency for them." Lt. Uhura explained.
"I do not have currency to trade." Jaylah stated, slowly following Lt. Uhura into the racks of clothing.
Lt. Uhura smiled at Jaylah. "Of course not. Don't worry, a few of us have pooled some funds together to get you things that you need."
"I have clothing. I do not need more." Jaylah frowned at the different types of clothes surrounding her, unimpressed.
Lt. Uhura laughed softly. "One outfit is great for one day. Maybe two to four, in a pinch, but not every day."
"What is a pinch?" Jaylah asked.
"It's a difficult situation." Lt Uhura explained. "To be completely honest, no one likes doing laundry, and the more outfits you have, the less you have to do it."
"So I must have more clothes so I can be lazy?" Jaylah asked, wrinkling her nose at a bright blue dress.
"No," Lt. Uhura answered. "but you still need more than one outfit. One outfit doesn't suit every situation."
"I have three outfits." Jaylah stated.
"You need more than three outfits. What do you think of this?" Lt. Uhura answered easily, pulling a long red shirt from a rack.
Jaylah curled her nose at it. "It is too long. It will get tangled with the bottoms."
"You don't wear bottoms with it."
"Why would I not wear bottoms? How will I keep covered if I have to jump or crawl?" Jaylah asked.
"Well, you wouldn't wear this somewhere that you'd be jumping or crawling." Lt. Uhura answered.
"I do not like it." Jaylah said, deciding she did not want to discuss it farther. How was she supposed to know if she was going to need to jump or crawl when she got dressed in the morning? It was best to just reject the outfit all together. "I do not like anything without bottoms."
Lt. Uhura nodded, putting the dress away. "Okay, so we want to avoid dresses, then."
Lt. Uhura led Jaylah to another section of the store. It was filled with tops, but still no bottoms. They were all different styles and colours.
"There are no bottoms here."
Lt. Uhura smiled at her. "No. This is where you pick out the tops, and then we'll go over there to pick out bottoms."
Jaylah looked to where Lt. Uhura indicated. "Okay. What situations do I need outfits for?"
Lt. Uhura shrugged. "Everyday situations, for starters. There are seven days in a week, so you should have a minimum of seven outfits for that. Then you also need a formal and semi-formal outfit, for different types of parties. You'll want some work clothes, some things you can wear for physical activity or labour. Oh, and a date outfit. Probably at least three date outfits, really."
"What is a date?" Jaylah asked, pulling a white top from a rack that wasn't completely awful.
Lt. Uhura stopped to look at Jaylah. "How long were you on Altamid?"
Jaylah shrugged. "I was a child when we crashed. Why?"
"So, you've never had a romantic relationship before?" Lt. Uhura asked.
Jaylah shook her head. "I have been alone for most of my life."
Lt. Uhura smiled sadly at her. "Well, you're not alone anymore. And a date is when two people spend time together in a romantic setting. Well, traditionally it's just two people, but it can be more than two people. As long as it's romantic."
"And I need three romantic date outfits?" Jaylah asked, pulling a black top from another rack.
Lt. Uhura nodded, pulling a yellow top out, only to put it back at the horrified look from Jaylah. "Yeah, you need at least three. When you go on a date, you dress up and make yourself look really nice. If you go on a date with the same person more than once, you need to make sure you aren't wearing the same outfit over and over."
"Do you only go on three dates with one person?" Jaylah asked, wrinkling her nose at the green top Lt. Uhura pulled out.
"No, you go on as many dates as you want, but after the third date with one person, it's starting to get serious. It becomes about feelings, and things like outfits matter less." Lt. Uhura sighed heavily as Jaylah shook her head at yet another top. "Do you not like colours? Is that what the problem is?"
Jaylah shook her head. "Bright colours draw attention. It will be impossible to take enemies by surprise."
"You're not on Altamid anymore, Jaylah. There are no enemies here to take by surprise."
Jaylah made a noncommittal noise. Maybe not right now.
"Okay. No bright colours." Lt. Uhura submitted, pulling a dark brown top from a pile on a table and holding it out.
Jaylah started to shake her head before pausing. It wasn't a terrible top, even if the colour wasn't great. It would be easy to blend into a wooded area with it. She grabbed the fabric and gave it a strong tug. The fabric was strong. "This is acceptable."
Lt. Uhura nodded. "Now we're getting somewhere."
They continued to peruse the racks, each pulling out various tops in white, black, and grey. Lt. Uhura explained the various situations each top would be suited to.
"What kind of clothing do people wear on dates?" Jaylah asked with forced indifference.
"Pretty clothes. Something that shows off your positive attributes. Something that will make the person you're on a date with lose their train of thought." Lt. Uhura tossed her hair over her shoulder to look at Jaylah as she spoke.
"What is a train of thought?"
"It's a figure of speech. It means to forget what you were thinking, or what you were going to say. If you look so good that someone loses their train of thought, it means that you're so attractive that they get distracted." Lt. Uhura answered simply.
Lt. Uhura seemed to be consistently unfazed by Jaylah's questions. It was nice. "Do you go on these dates?"
Lt. Uhura frowned. "Not recently. Spock and I are in a weird place right now, so dates are on hold."
"You and Mr. Spock are in a romance?" Jaylah asked.
"Yes. Or no. I'm not really sure anymore. It's complicated." Lt. Uhura answered.
"You are a brilliant woman, Lieutenant Uhura. If Mr. Spock does not see this, then he is an idiot." Jaylah stated, pulling out a shiny gray top. It was not practical, but it was pretty, and she needed pretty clothes for dates. She looked up from the top to ask if this was the sort of top Lt. Uhura was talking about, only to see her staring at Jaylah with watery eyes.
"That's a really nice thing to say, Jaylah. Thank you."
Jaylah hesitated, not sure what she said. "It is nice to say the truth?"
Lt. Uhura laughed. "Not always, but in this case it was very nice to say the truth."
Jaylah nodded. "Is this date clothes?"
"That is a great date shirt." Lt. Uhura agreed, "It'll show off your shoulders."
"My shoulders are a positive attribute?" Jaylah asked, glancing at them. They didn't seem any more or less remarkable than anyone else's shoulders she'd seen.
"Your everything is a positive attribute. You're stunning."
Jaylah grinned, proud. "Thank you."
Lt. Uhura looked at the armful of tops Jaylah had slowly collected. "And I think it's time to look for pants."
Lt. Uhura led the way to the next section of the store, waving down a woman wearing a shiny gold badge on her chest that looked nothing like the Starfleet badges that her new friends wore.
"What can I do for you?" The woman asked with a pleasing smile.
"Can you set up a dressing room for us?" Lt. Uhura asked, handing the woman the clothes in her arms.
"Of course." The woman responded, reaching for the clothes Jaylah was holding.
Jaylah pulled back. "I am shopping these."
Lt. Uhura stepped closer to her, placing a gentle hand on her arm. "Of course. She's just taking them to a dressing room for you. They'll all be waiting there. It's to make shopping easier, so that we don't have to walk around with armfuls of clothes."
"Yes," the woman agreed, "I'm just here to make your shopping easier."
Jaylah nodded slowly, handing her the tops she'd picked out, including the shiny gray one. "I will be wanting these." She warned before releasing them.
The woman walked off with Jaylah's shopping, and Lt. Uhura started pulling pants out of racks. There were all blacks and grays, with a few browns and whites mixed in.
"It's harder to find what pants size you wear than top size. So we'll have to pick a few different sizes of each style to make sure you'll get one that fits. What do you think of these?" One by one, Jaylah approved or rejected various bottoms that Lt. Uhura pulled out for her, while Lt. Uhura explained which situation each pair would be best suited for.
"Why are things with Mr. Spock complicated?" Jaylah asked as they made their way to the dressing room.
"He's just feeling conflicted." Lt. Uhura answered.
"What is conflicting?" Jaylah asked as she stepped behind the curtain where the woman earlier had placed all of her shopping.
"He feels like he owes it to his people to find a vulcan partner." Lt. Uhura said from the other side of the curtain.
"And you are human." Jaylah stated, pulling off her clothes. "Why did he go on dates with you to start, if he wants a Vulcan?"
"Well, that wasn't really a concern until a few years back. Vulcans are a bit of an endangered species at the moment."
"So he wants to procreate for new Vulcans? To make bigger the population?" Jaylah asked, pulling on the first outfit in the pile.
"Basically." Lt. Uhura answered, sounding sad
"That does not sound complicated." Jaylah "It sounds sad for you, but not complicated."
"It's complicated because he loves me, Jaylah. He feels like he owes it to his people to end our relationship, but he wants to be with me." Lt. Uhura explained.
"You want him to be yours, yes?" Jaylah asked, stepping out from the curtain to look in the mirror.
"Yes, I do." Lt. Uhura agreed, "That looks really nice."
Jaylah nodded, looking Lt. Uhura in her eyes. "Then you cannot give up."
Lt. Uhura shook her head. "I can't force him to be with me, Jaylah."
"No, but you can fight for your love." Jaylah answered, going back into the dressing room to try another outfit.
"You're really invested in my relationship." Lt. Uhura joked.
"I am invested in your happiness, Lieutenant Uhura. I like you. No one else explains your strange words to me so easy." Jaylah answered honestly.
Lt. Uhura was silent on the other side of the curtain as Jaylah got dressed in a new outfit. Jaylah began to worry that she'd said something wrong. She didn't know humans. What if that wasn't okay to say? By the time she was dressed and pulling the curtains to the side, she was ready to apologize.
Instead she found Lt. Uhura smiling happily at her. "I like you, too." She said simply. "And we should get lunch after we're done shopping."
Jaylah shrugged. "The food here is very strong."
"Is that bad?" Lt. Uhura asked as Jaylah went back into the dressing room.
"No," Jaylah shook her head, even though no one could see her, "there just were not so many flavours in my dinners before. It is shocking to my mouth."
"I can imagine the food here is a bit more luxurious than you're used to."
"Yes." Jaylah agreed.
"You'll get used to it. Soon, you'll love every bite." Lt. Uhura promised.
"I hope so."
Jaylah continued to try on outfits while Lt. Uhura made light conversation about nothing. Jaylah didn't understand why so many people seemed to talk about nothing here, but it was mildly comforting. It felt a little like a lullaby. Lt. Uhura's voice was light and melodic. It reminded her of her sister, Keelah. She hoped Lt. Uhura would talk to her like this often.
Soon enough Jaylah stepped out from the curtain in her original clothes, with a pile of outfits that she had liked enough to take. "Now we will trade currency for them?"
Lt. Uhura nodded. "Yes. I think we'll save shoe and lingerie shopping for another day. Baby steps."
"What is baby steps?" Jaylah asked as they walked toward a counter where the happy woman from earlier was standing.
"Small steps. Making small changes, or accomplishing small feats, at a time. Rather than large changes all at once."
"My whole life is a large change right now. And my feet are a good size. I do not need to make them smaller." Jaylah stated.
"Not feet, as in your feet. Feat, as in achievement. Everything about your life is changing, and that's why we need to take baby steps. Adjusting to life outside Altamid won't be easy for you."
"Small changes to make life easier." Jaylah said, dropping her clothes on the counter where Lt. Uhura pointed.
"Exactly." Lt. Uhura agreed, handing a small metal card to the woman. "Now, where would you like to eat?"
Jaylah shrugged as the woman began placing her shopping into bags. "What is your favourite flavours? Maybe I will like them."
Lt. Uhura nodded. "I know just the place. The food is really spicy though, is that okay?"
"I like the burning in my food." Jaylah nodded.
The woman finished bagging the clothes, and handed the chip back to Lt. Uhura. "Will you be taking these with you, or is there somewhere you would like your purchases transported?"
"Transport them here." Lt. Uhura responded, handing a card to the woman.
"Of course." The woman nodded, moving all of Jaylah's shopping to a small transport station and sending them off.
"Where did you send them?" Jaylah asked, looking to Lt. Uhura.
"I just had them sent back to your quarters." Lt. Uhura answered, moving to stand next to Jaylah. "So you say you like spicy food?"
Jaylah nodded as Lt. Uhura wrapped her arm around Jaylah's. "There are less flavours when it is spicy. It is not so distracting."
"Great! Because I saw this place when we got here, and I've been dying to try it." Lt. Uhura said excitedly, leading Jaylah out of the store.
"Is this what girl time is?" Jaylah asked.
Lt. Uhura shrugged. "Girl time is basically anything that girls do when they get together. It's important to enjoy some girl time every now and then."
"For bonding." Jaylah said.
"For bonding." Lt. Uhura confirmed.
"I like the shopping and the girl time." Jaylah stated.
Lt. Uhura smiled brightly at her. "Me too."