The song is a re-working of my favorite children's song. Yeah. I know. I am seeking help.

Disclaimers and thanks in chapters one and three.

My betas – miss steph and T'Leba – are the best.

~Four: Invitation~

If all the raindrops
Were Savars and Christophs
Oh, what a rain that would be!
Me standing outside with my arms open wide
Ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah
If all the raindrops
Were Savars and Christophs
Oh, what a rain that would be!

If all the snowflakes
Were Alexanders and Thom-Blakes
Oh, what a snow that would be!
Me standing outside with my arms open wide
Ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah
If all the snowflakes
Were Alexanders and Thom-Blakes
Oh, what a snow that would be!

If all the sunbeams
Were Malachis and Hakims
Oh, what a sun that would be!
Me standing outside with my arms open wide
Ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah
If all the sunbeams
Were Malachis and Hakims
Oh, what a sun that would be!

Good Weather, song by Gaila

"She walks in beauty like the night," he whispered into my ear, his warm breath tickling and teasing.

"Who walks in beauty like the night?" I asked.

"You do," he replied.

And, just like that, the mess hall faded away, and all I could see were his green eyes – which were slipping closed.

"Good answer," I whispered, giving him the kiss he deserved. And expected

When I finally peeled my lips off of Mike's it was to find Nyota standing beside our table, practically vibrating with excitement.

"Hi, Nyota," I said cautiously.

"Hi, Gaila," she said, taking my greeting as an invitation and dropping down to an empty chair at our table, "Mike, nice to see you again."

"Uhura," he said; he didn't look too happy to be interrupted.

The man did not understand the Importance of Female Friendships.

"I'm going to the Invitational!" she said; her whole body was trembling. I'd never seen her so animated – not even when she discovered that she'd get to learn all three Romulan dialects; a moment which, she assured me, was a highlight of her life.

"And?" I demanded, starting to arrange our lunch dishes into a precise pile.

She frowned at me, "What 'and?' There is no 'and;' there doesn't need to be an 'and;' it's the Oxford Linguistics Invitational!"

"Wow! That's incredible, Uhura." Mike said, transforming into a language nerd right in front of me.

"You're an engineer, how do you know about this thing?" I demanded.

"It's a big deal," Mike said; Nyota nodded exuberantly in agreement. "I didn't think they asked first years," he said, focusing on Ny.

"Are there discussion groups?" I continued. "Does everything on Earth stop, so you can watch it collectively?"

"I'm not the only first year," she said to Mike. It appeared that they had forgotten I was sitting at the table.

"Who?" Mike asked; he seemed genuinely interested.

"Forced viewings in sports stadiums?" I persisted.

"Gaila, don't be silly," Nyota said, shaking her head pityingly at me, then giving Mike a wry look. He returned it.

I opened my mouth to protest the shabby treatment of the Non-Earth-Born when Nyota answered Mike's question. "Boris Briggs was also invited. Do you know him?"

"The Human Hummingbird?" I choked out before Mike could chime in. "The person who gave himself first-degree burns while repairing a dummy control panel? That Boris Briggs?"

"He's an excellent linguist," Ny said. "He speaks almost as many languages as I do."

"Incredible," I muttered. "I would've bet you my new dress – black and very short, honey – that he was filling some sort of Federation-mandated imbecile quota."

"How short?" Mike asked, forgetting all about the silly language thingy.

I batted my eyelashes.

"Short enough," Nyota said. "Lala, you didn't hear the best part."

I glared at her.

Her smile grew brighter. "Commander Spock has volunteered to help me prepare."

And there was the "and."

We needed Girl Time. Now.

"Baby," I said, brushing my fingers across Mike's left bicep, "Can you please get me some more lemon cake?"

He looked at the lengthy line. "Uh, pumpkin…."

"I need to carbo load." I wiggled my eyebrows at him.

He flushed adorably and hurried off, his blonde hair shining in the light. I smiled indulgently at his retreating form then rounded on Nyota. "Are you okay with this?" I demanded.

"With what?"

"The tutoring?"

"Of course I am."

I squealed and grabbed her hands, squeezing. "It's about time!"

"Ouch!" She wrested her hands away from me. "What's about time?" she asked.

"You and the VLB…."

She shook her head slowly, "The what?"

"'Vulcan Love Bunny,'" I whispered. "I was trying to be discreet."

"'Vulcan Love Bunny' is discreet?" she whispered back.

"No, referring to the 'Vulcan Love Bunny' as the 'VLB' is discreet," I said.

"Not referring to…that person at all is discreet," she countered.

"But we have to refer to him," I said. "We need to talk logistics. When do your private lessons begin?"

"Wednesday. Why?"

I drummed my fingers on the table. "That doesn't give us enough time to go shopping. Thank Ghu I have tight dresses; they should work on you. What size shoe do you wear?"

She sat up straight and stared at me. "Why are you asking me these questions?"

"Because you can't wear your shoes with my dresses."

"And why would I wear your dresses?"

"The VLB, of course, Nyota. Try to keep up."

"Gaila, what are you talking about?"

"You and the VLB alone, in his office, for hours and hours, just using your mouths, lips and tongues…."

"To speak," she squeaked, "To practice. For the Invitational. Nothing else. There will be practicing of absolutely nothing but alien languages. Oh, and atmospheric manipulations and constructive verbalizations, of course. And click and whistle…."

I held up my hand. "Please stop. You know I want to poke my ears out when you start speaking Communications. Do you mean to tell me that you plan on being alone with the VLB and do nothing?"

"We'll be preparing," she said.

"That doesn't sound like having sex."

A vein started pulsing in her left temple. "Because we're not going to have…going to…do that."

"As requested, lemon cake, beautiful," Mike said, plunking a plate on the table and readying to plop himself into a chair.

Huh. I'd thought the line was longer.

I blazed a smile at him. "And coffee, please, sweetness. Caffeine is a good thing; it gives me loads of energy."

He sighed deeply and glanced at the line. It was growing longer. "Are you sure?"

"Do you want me to choke on the cake, baby? I need something liquid. My throat is a delicate instrument." I shot him a smoldering gaze that had him turning on his heel and rushing back to the line.

I directed my attention back to Nyota, who looked very much like she wanted to join Mike. "What - in all that is holy on this planet and every other - are you thinking, Nyota Uhura? Do you really, truly want to die of sexual frustration? It can happen, you know. I've read articles."

"No, you haven't."

"I will. One day. When I write one all about how you did yourself in with unrequited lust for the VLB."

"Gaila," she said, rolling her eyes.

"And there's always the pact."

She began to rub her temples. "What pact?"

"The pact that I would help you get a certain long-legged slice of manliness," I whispered, "I wrote it, and we both signed it." I fumbled for my PADD.

"I don't have any knowledge of a pact, and I certainly never signed it."

"You signed it in spirit," I said.

"But not in person."

"Pwah! That's merely a technicality that does not invalidate the pact." I placed the device reverently on the table and flipped through until I found the file I wanted and started reading. "'I am honor bound by the deity of Nyota's choice that I will do everything in my considerable power to help her win the loins of the man of her choice,' which, of course, is the VLB," I finished, smiling at her.

"You can't be serious."

"Orions do not joke about pacts made to the deities of your choice," I said, leaning towards her. "Now, as you know, my people are pretty good at seduction. Even though I am a free Orion and, as such, am fundamentally opposed to the personification of my people as purely sexual beings bent on domination and profit through carnality, I'm willing to overcome my moral objections and help you."

She blinked myopically then opened her mouth, "This is the Invitational, Gaila. And the," she swallowed and looked pained, "'VLB' and I are merely student and teacher. How many times do I have to tell you that?"

"How many times do you have to tell yourself that?" I shot back.

Her face crumpled for a second, then she pulled herself together. "Fine," she whispered, "There may have been un-studently feelings, but I'm over it. I just need to focus on preparing for the competition. Can we please drop it?"

I regarded her silently for a moment. "No. I'll do your makeup."

"I don't wear makeup."

"Don't you think you should?"

"No makeup."

"Your hair?"

"You aren't touching my hair."

"But I'm good at hair and makeup. He'll have you bent over his desk five minutes after you walk into his office."

"Oh, God! Stop!" she yelped, covering her ears with her hands.

"Coffee," Mike said, dropping the cup at my elbow. "With lots and lots of caffeine. Uhura what's wrong with you?"

She dropped her hands, shook her head and looked out over the crowd; I glanced at the cup and wrinkled my nose, "Black? I need lots and lots of sugar and cream, please." I blew a kiss at him.

"Gaila," he said, his shoulders sagging.

I took a sip, and stuck my tongue out. "I can't drink this. There will be choking."

He sighed again and headed off. The line was dwindling; Nyota and I needed to finish this discussion and fast.

"There will be no bending over…" she started.

"But, Nyota, there could be. Give me an hour to get you ready, and your study session could be end up being a session with a stud."

She stared at me, her mouth opening and closing like an Earth fish. "The workings of your mind astound me," she finally said.

"They are pretty incredible, aren't they?" I asked, smiling at her. "Now, let's talk colors…."

She bit her lip. "Gaila, I don't think…."

"No, you think too much. He's willing to help you with this thing…."

"He's the faculty advisor for the team – he's taking us to Oxford. He's helping us all."

"And when does he start one-on-one tutoring sessions with Boris?"

"Well, I'm the only one he's…."

"How many?" I demanded.

"How many what?" she countered.

"How many people on the team?"


"Now," I continued, staring at her, "That's an interesting piece of information. You're the only one of the five team members that the VLB is helping personally. That would seem to indicate some sort of interest."

"Professional interest," she said. "Teacher interest. Educational interest. He doesn't look at people as male or female, just as students."

I sniffed.

"It's true," she said. "I don't think he realizes I'm a woman."

"But you are a woman, and he's a man; it'll take just a little bit of effort for you to be a man and woman together. You just need to show him what all," I waved my hand at her in a circular pattern, "that is for."

"Drop it, Gaila," she said; her teeth were clenched together - it looked painful.

"Just in case you want something else," Mike said from my elbow. He dumped cream, sugar, water, juice, a slice of pie, and a muffin on the table.

"Thanks, gorgeous," I said. There was no way I could send him back up to the line, and Nyota knew it. She smiled mockingly.

"This isn't over," I said to her in Orion Prime.

She popped a piece of muffin into her mouth. "Yes, it is," she responded in the language of my childhood.

"Just keep telling yourself that," I said in Orion.

She would bag that Vulcan. I would make sure of it.