The entire way back to her quarters, Selma continually reminded herself that if she walked too quickly, she might get dizzy again and this Vulcan might have to (oh no!) reach out and hold her up. He had, of course, already touched her earlier that day to get her out of the oversized vat, but she had no memory of that episode. If anything happened now, she would be conscious this time, so she slowed down and made certain she wouldn't find herself in a position where he would have to touch her again. She didn't know a whole lot about Vulcans, but she knew they generally were not the touchy feely sort. Just thinking about it, she was terribly embarrassed that he had had to do that for her. "I hope it wasn't too unpleasant," she found those words hurling themselves out of her mouth without thinking first. As soon as she said them, she wanted to just disappear.
Thevaar was startled out of his thoughts. "I do not under-"
"I'm sorry," she clarified quickly, wishing she could take it back. "I was just thinking about how under ordinary circumstances you wouldn't exactly have-" And she found herself stuck for the rest of the words, not knowing how to say what it was she wanted to say without coming off as… she didn't even know what she was not trying to come off as! When the hell did I get this nervous about what comes out of my mouth? This isn't me at all. I just walk around usually and tell me people whatever it is I need to say.
He saw she was trying to convey something, but had come up against some kind of wall. She hoped that what wasn't too unpleasant? He then read her body language, realized whatever it was she wasn't ready to broach the subject, and decided to swiftly change the subject. Perhaps this would help? "I am aware that your day is usually a busy one. I will go into the system and inform those in need of your mediation services that you have had an accident and shall not be in today or tomorrow."
Grateful for the subject change, she still sighed, a bit depressed about the time she was going to have to take off. "At least I have a doctor's note," she partway laughed, realzing after the fact that that joke was going to fall flat for him.
He was confused. She had laughed, but neither her facial expression nor her mood indicated true gaiety. "Are you not pleased that you have received medical clearance to recover from your accident?"
She looked up at him and his features were starting to sink in more with her. In addition to his smooth, dark skin, he contained eyes that were deep wells of open regard and curiosity. And his mouth, what a perfect shape. He had a sinfully sensuous mouth that- I must have hit the hell out of my head to be thinking this. I need to stop now. "I- I just wasn't prepared for any of this to happen. I have school deadlines and I was looking forward to meeting them and being done with this part of my education."
He remembered the last time he tried to enquire after her education, he had been -deservingly- shut down. But he realized that this time he might actually get an answer. "May I ask your field of study?"
She sighed nervously. "Xeno-sociology."
He had not expected to hear that. "Which species in particular?"
"The five founding members of the Federation… I haven't gotten to the Vulcans, yet," she partway smiled. "Sorry."
Thevaar didn't know why, but he found it oddly satisfying that she thought to mention that at all. Perhaps during her studies of his people, she would come to him with any questions she might have? It would gratify him if she did. But he did not say what he was thinking. He did not want to say or do anything else toward her that was inappropriate.
By the time they had gotten to her quarters, the both of them realized that they had been woefully incorrect about the identity of the other. One thing was certain, they both knew they had begun something of a friendship that day. Before he departed, Thevaar found himself saying, "If at any time you are in need of assistance with your duties, please inform me. It would please me to be of help to you."
"So that I don't fall into another vat of water?" she said jokingly, without thinking.
He knew it was her being humorous and didn't understand why he decided to engage in it further with her. "Certainly. We would not want you to find yourself in over your head."
She wanted to laugh at first, because a Vulcan with jokes? But he was standing just a little too closely when he said that. She wasn't a small or delicate woman, but she found herself looking up into his eyes. It was usually difficult for her to find men that were taller than her, but here one was right now. She realized, in some way that she was already in over her head.
T&S - T&S - T&S
Thevaar returned to his duties and was very much himself for the rest of the day. But the moment he was off duty, he thought of Selma Tillerson-Parker. He thought nothing of going to the communications unit in his office and patching through to her quarters. "Thevaar to Parker…"
"Parker here," she answered after about ten seconds. Her voice sounded groggy.
"Have you partaken of adequate nutrition today?" he asked.
There was a long pause on the other end. "Actually, I don't think I've eaten today... no, I definitely didn't eat today."
His eyes widened. "Ms. Parker-"
"Oh, just call me Selma," she said, trying to get him off of the subject.
"Selma, this is unacceptable. Explain why you have not partaken of nutrition today?"
"W- w- well what had happened was, I came back to my quarters and fell asleep and- and that's that."
Had she been asleep for the entire day? "You must have been overly fatigued," he realized, growing a bit alarmed.
"Yeah, I was. I didn't even realize it," she freely admitted.
"Do not be concerned. I shall arrive shortly with sustenance for you." And he cut communications.
Selma sat there, mouth agape, in disbelief. Is he bringing me dinner?
She wasn't at all ready for that to happen! She sat up in bed, looked around at her quarters. She saw research data PADDs all over her one desk, storage boxes full of gourmet coffee spilling out all over the place, natural hair products littering the vanity area of her bathroom, and her clothes were everywhere!
T&S T&S T&S
Forty minutes later, her quarters impeccable, Selma was also freshly showered and in clean clothing. She had to lie down. She had definitely done too much, too quickly, and now she was feeling it. Since she'd had quite enough sleep earlier, she didn't have a need to get anymore of that at that particular time. But as soon as she lay down on her bed to just collect her breathing, her door chime sounded.
She dragged herself up and stood, tried to paste an 'untired' expression on her face and said, "Come in!"
Her door swung open and there stood Thevaar. He was in robes as if he had just finished walking the desert. He was holding a covered tray of some kind. His quizzical brow showed surprise as he entered her quarters. And his eyes were surveying her slowly, point by point, as if he were checking her out.
She found herself thinking I don't remember him being this attractive…
"You appear to be well-rested," he said.
I thought he was checking me out. But he was only checking me over… oh well. Dumb of me to think that, anyway. She shrugged as she sat at her mini table. "What's on the tray, Thevaar?"
"Everything necessary for your nutritional needs, as per the doctor."
Her enthusiasm dropped another notch as she pulled the top off of the tray. On the one hand, it was a boring display of side salad, fruit salad, and a steaming hot soup she could only surmise might be plomeek. But then she realized: No one had ever done this for her. Ever. It didn't matter to her what was on the tray, she just couldn't help but think that it was nice of him to go out of his way like this. "I could have just gone to the cafeteria and gotten my own food, you know," she still protested.
"The distance is far from your quarters," he said as he smoothly sat down across from her. "I have been tasked to make certain you do not overwork yourself for the next few days. I take that charge seriously."
She nodded. "Well okay. Thanks for bringing me something."
And they sat there for about 10 seconds, just looking at one another.
S: Why is he still here?
T: Why is she not eating?
"Is there some reason you're still here?" she asked.
"I must make certain you truly do partake of nutrition."
Her gratitude at him having done something as nice as bringing her something for dinner almost evaporated. He wants to… watch… me… while I… Reaching out a hand, Selma reluctantly spooned up a bit of soup and tasted it. She wasn't looking forward to it at all. She'd had plomeek only once years ago and it had been almost tasteless to her palate. So she was pleasantly surprised that this not only tasted like something, but it seemed to have levels of depth the other soup hadn't had. "Oh, I've never had plomeek that was this good," she said with a nod as she forgot her shyness of eating in front of someone else that wasn't eating. Suddenly her hunger went into overdrive.
"I worked on the space station just above Earth some time ago. Some of the Vulcans that had been stationed on earth for a while used to request their plomeek with certain additives."
"Oh, like what?" she asked, interested in what Vulcans liked from Earth enough that they'd alter their diet.
"Coconut milk, sea salt, certain varieties of hot peppers, amongst other herbs and spices. I deduce they began adding these things because the things we ordinarily add on Vulcan do not transport well."
Her eyebrows rose in surprise. "What seasonings do they use on Vulcan?"
He felt a slight bit of humor at those words. "Do you, in fact, believe that Vulcans do not use them?"
"I wouldn't know," she admitted as she finished her soup and moved onto her side salad. "The last plomeek I had certainly didn't taste like that."
"The meal I provided, it was to your satisfaction?" he asked, feeling inordinately pleased.
"It was excellent."
He nodded, "Depending upon the region, each place prepares it's plomeek in various ways. Some regions triple wash the stalks and strip the outer hull, while some consume the stalk and the root. Others boil the plant whole, with or without the root, and then strain it. Some roast it, and some roast and then mash it. Some regions have peppers hotter than what is registered on earth, while others contain peppers that can only be described as bitter upon first harvest, but then they become sweet as they ripen. We sometimes use these in preparation, or afterward. There is also the prized salt of our salt flats, various tubers that add depth, and certain shrubs that produce a liquid you might upon first inspection think were the equivalent of some form of what you refer to as 'milk'."
She was moving onto her fruit salad as she realized, "Plomeek is a lot more complicated than I thought."
"Indeed. There are also subtle insults one may trade where plomeek is involved," he informed her as if it were nothing.
"Vulcan insults? Get out!" she exclaimed.
He understood that her exclamation was one of surprise and not a declarative that he should leave her living space. "As an example. A classmate may make a comment that another ones exams did not go well because their parent or grandparent prepared substandard plomeek for breakfast. And depending upon region, connotations can change. In the Northern pole, the comment 'his plomeek contained no additives' might be interpreted as a compliment. But in the east, it is an insult."
"Is that the 'y'all don't season your food' insult?" she found herself unable to hold back laughter at the thought of Vulcans throwing shade amongst one another over something like food.
But he seemed to have truly fallen into gossip mode and kept on going. "If one's bondmate is known to be seeking an 'out' from your union, the common saying is 'her plomeek contained far too much heat, and he could produce nothing to quench the fire'."
As she was sitting there, finishing up her fruit salad, she couldn't help but wonder... did the look in his eyes hold a fire of their own? Was she seeing what she thought she was seeing?
"That sounds… scandalous," was all she could get out. He was far too handsome for his own good. Why am I sweating? His eyes looked like dark jewels made of volcanic glass. She looked down at his hands. EVEN HIS DAMN HANDS ARE HANDSOME! DAMMIT! What's gotten into me? ...I'd like it if he'd get into m-
Selma stood quickly… too quickly and only just disguised a wave of dizziness by steadying herself on her chair. She had gotten up so quickly, it looked as if the chair were going to topple. And her grabbing it appeared to be her trying to prevent it from falling.
Thevaar also stood, none the wiser of what had just happened. "I must take my leave now. I am satisfied you have had enough nutrition." He collected the tray he had brought, very pleased that it was now empty.
"Listen, this was really nice of you," she said in thanks.
"It was my duty," he said.
"And you don't have to do it again," she said as nicely as she could. There was no way she could take being in his presence more often.
His eyebrow rose. "I shall return tomorrow, since that is what the doctor ordered."
"OH, Da- Don't! You don't have to. I think I'll be able to manage walking to the cafeteria tomorrow."
"Then I shall escort you," he said as her door opened. And then he was gone.
Selma lay in bed that night, patently confused. Something had changed. Some switch had gotten flipped. All she wanted to do was find Thevaar's quarters and- inappropriate thoughts were going through her head.
She rolled over and stuck her face in her pillow, frustrated and confused. How had she gone from 'can't stand him' to 'I think I have to have him'?