Continuing Tales

For the Rest of Us

A Star Trek Story
by Psicygni

Part 1 of 10

     Home     Next >>
Untitled Document

"It's just this thing," Gaila explains as she runs her thumb under her lower lid to neaten the edge of eyeliner. "Like with food. And drinks. And people."

"You go every Sunday night? How did I not know this?"

"I can't help that you're not up to speed on my social life. And anyway it's not really a human thing."

"What does that even mean?"

"It's all off worlders. You can come if you want but you'd be the only human."

"Oh." Nyota idly smooths her hand across the novel she's reading, her fingerprints smearing the screen so that she has to wipe it clean again with her sleeve.

"You're not, not invited. I just don't know if it'd be fun for you."

"I like people. And food. And drinks. And off worlders, obviously."

"Yeah but you also like verbs and past participles and other stuff like that."

"No fans of past participles allowed? Is that like an entrance requirement?"

"You know what I mean. We all get together and talk about home and where we come from and our traditions and all. It's not like a language class."

"Why would I not enjoy that?"

"Because you enjoy solitude, silence, and drowning yourself in academia? And the semester's starting in like two days and you need to rest up so that you're ready at a moment's notice to make flashcards, not to mention get a head start on your color coding system for your notes?"

Nyota's too embarrassed to admit she's already organized everything for the semester.

"Aren't you the one always telling me I should go out and have more fun?" she says instead.

"Come, then, just don't do something embarrassing like ask someone why they chose to use an adionoeta or a crasis."

"Do you steal my textbooks and look this stuff up?"

"No," Gaila says too quickly. "And let's go, we're celebrating Cha'Tara with all the Bajorans and Schori said she's making her mom's miresa recipe."

Cha'Tara, Nyota learns about two minutes into the gathering, involves eating a lot. As far as she can discern, it's a Bajoran holiday celebrating the arrival of some sort of prophet, but Gaila's so busy introducing her to various people that Nyota misses the rest of the story.

"This is Hlaura, he's a Cheilith," Gaila says, one hand curled around Nyota's elbow as she drags her through the crowd. Hlaura waves a tentacle at Nyota and she waves back. She's never met a Cheilith before, only read about them, and tries not to stare.

"This is Crisaedh – watch out for her wings, Ny – who lives down by that bar we went to? Remember that single time last year you decided to wrest yourself free from the clutches of homework? She has a great view of the bay, you should see it. And this is N'Takim," Gaila continues without missing a beat. "We did not have sex in your bed, in case you were wondering."

"Now I am," Nyota says quietly.

"Well, we didn't. Would have, but I'm the best roommate in the world. Any world, probably. All of the worlds. And this is R'Eka who's up from Los Angeles for the weekend where she's a –" Gaila snaps her fingers, then frowns. "Sorry, 'Eka, I can't keep it all straight."

"I am a Kindergarten teacher," R'Eka explains in the deep, guttural tone of Aferrarons. Her gray scales click together like sheets of armor, nearly iridescent and beautiful.

"That's like a garden where they grow small children," Gaila explains to Nyota.

"No- it's-"

"And this is Didiza! Hi! I didn't know you were coming!"

Gaila kneels and hugs the tiny purple blob. Nyota knows she knows the name for that species but can't quite come up with it, not with how distracted she is by watching Gaila pick purple goo from her curls and hand it back to Didiza, who resorbs it promptly.

"Hi," Nyota says, offering a wave instead of a hug, since it seems the safer – and cleaner – choice.

"You brought a human," a tall Andorian says to Gaila, coming up behind her and scrutinizing Nyota.

"This is my roommate," Gaila explains. "She speaks every language, ever!"

"I don't-"

"Welcome to the Off-World Intercultural Club, San Francisco Chapter," he says in Andorian.

"This one thanks you for your welcome and hospitality as is befitting of a guest," she responds carefully. She took Andorian two semesters ago and hasn't practiced as much as she should, but she gets a broad smile in return, his teeth startlingly sharp and white against his blue skin.

"Thaalan," he says, pointing towards the middle of his chest.

"Nyota," she answers, mirroring the gesture, but farther down her torso as Andorian women are supposed to.

It gets her another smile and he holds out his hand to shake, his skin shockingly cool against hers.

"Welcome," he says in Standard this time.

The conversation rises above them as another group walks in the door and she has to raise her voice slightly to answer.

"I'm glad to be here."

"You have a beautiful home," she tells Thex. "Do you often host these gatherings?"

"We do. This is my wife," he says, his arm curled around another Bajoran's shoulders.

"I am Schori."

"Hi, I'm Nyota."

"Welcome, Nyota."

"Thank you for having me."

"We are the hosts," Thex confirms, nodding so that the intricate silver earring on his right ear sways gently. The light catches it and it sparkles for a moment, distracting Nyota slightly because she really wants to ask about it, not to mention the beautiful one cover the length of his wife's ear. "We have the largest house and rather enjoy the company every week."

"It is fortunate that we have a large home," Schori says and turns under her husband's arm to smile up at him. His hand brushes over her stomach and he returns her smile.

"Oh. Oh," Nyota says. "Congratulations."

"We receive your good wishes," Thex says solemnly.

"We receive your good wishes," Schori echoes and smiles again, her hand pressed to her abdomen. "Have you found sufficient food? We did not know a Terran was attending tonight but I believe Bajoran dishes are quite similar."

"It's all delicious, thank you. I tried the, um-" Nyota pauses, trying to think of the word. "Too-git?" she says in Bajoran. "That's what they're called?"

"To'ogit," Schori gently corrects. "I am glad you found them pleasing."

"To'ogit," Nyota echoes. "I took a semester of Bajoran but I admit I'm not as proficient in it as I'd like."

A small smile flits across Thex's face. "I have met few humans who have made the attempt to learn our language."

"Oh, it's beautiful, I really enjoyed it, I just wish I had studied more of it."

"If you would like to practice, we are honored by your effort," Thex says.

"I thank you," she replies carefully, then winces. "Uh, wait-"

"That was commendable," Schori assures her. She squints off towards the dining room where a Tellarite is reaching above him to pull a bottle of liquor down off the table. "Excuse me, please."

"So do you always make Bajoran food for these events?" Nyota asks Thex when Schori has moved away. "I think if I had known, I would have asked Gaila to bring me back some to'ogit."

Thex smiles again, but shakes his head, his earring catching the light again. "Whoever's holiday we are celebrating is responsible for bringing culturally appropriate food. You simply came on a night where we are celebrating a Bajoran holiday. We will gather, soon, for an explanation and celebration."

"That's wonderful. You all trade off, between your cultures? Take turns?"

"As work schedules permit, and as our own holidays line up with the Terran calendar. Cheilithan years are so long, for instance, that Hlaura has only once had the opportunity to celebrate his culture with us." Thex glances around at who's near them, then lowers his voice. "I will admit, that while I enjoy learning about my friend's rituals and traditions, I do not feel the need to seek out Cheilithan food."

Nyota can't help but smile. "I'll keep that in mind."

"Thaalan is perhaps the most adventurous eater than we have and even he found himself rather hungry at the end of the evening." Thex smiles again, this time fonder like he's lost in the memory of the event. "I do not believe that when he suggested we begin meeting in order to have a place to celebrate our holidays with others that he particularly anticipated that occurrence."

Nyota breathes out a quiet laugh and nods. "I can imagine."

Thex inclines his head towards her, just slightly. "We are pleased you have joined us this evening, Nyota of Earth."

"Thank you for sharing all of this," she answers, bowing slightly in return. She pauses, tries to drum up the right phrase. "I offer you thanks."

"And we offer you welcome," Threx says in perfect, classical Bajoran in return. "Enjoy your evening."

She's having trouble finding the bathroom, which is how she ends up in a quiet room in the back of the house near the kitchen that is completely lined with shelves and shelves of books. They're the very type of which she would pursue for hours if she wasn't there as Gaila's guest, and would be forced to listen to her roommate tease her until they graduate about reading at a party, and then very likely long into their commissions afterwards.

Even so, she gives herself ten seconds to scan the closest shelf before going in search of the bathroom again.

But maybe instead of ten seconds, she'll give herself twenty seconds.

Thirty, maybe.

A full minute and then she'll really, actually leave.

Or five minutes. Five minutes isn't too long.

She just about jumps out of her skin when she hears footsteps behind her and snaps the book shut so fast a blast of air rushes past her face.

It's not Gaila, thankfully, and she didn't damage the ancient, paper book she's holding, which is even better.

And the guy who walked in – tall, dark haired and very quiet – simply nods at her, steps past her and deeper into the room like she's not even there.

"I wasn't doing anything," Nyota promises when she rejoins Gaila.

"You found the library."

"No," she says, sighs, nods. "It was amazing."

"Nyota Uhura, you are ridiculous. Have a drink. Have two. And stop being a creep looking around people's houses."

"I wasn't the only one," she points out but Gaila's not listening because she's mixing up something that is bright blue, bubbly, and looks like it might very well be lethal to humans. "I'm not sure-"

"Drink. And I can't help that you're the weirdest person here and yet this is your planet."

It tastes like chocolate milk, but better. Richer and buttery and it's kind of amazing and Nyota takes a second sip and then a third.

"Cultural subjectivity," Nyota says after her fourth sip, frowning at her now half empty glass. "You can't make that distinction when you're comparing-"

"Put it in a can."


"Stop talking. You're just beyond excited for school to start."

Nyota grimaces at her glass again.

"Maybe. I don't know. Yes. No."

"Ridiculous," Gaila repeats, then downs half of her own drink. "But I love you."

"Um, thanks."

"Let's find more food."

There are no chairs left once everyone has gathered in the living room, so Nyota finds herself standing near the fireplace. She sets her glass down on the mantle and crosses her arms behind her, trying to make room for Gaila to stand next to her.

The room is packed full of so many different species of people that Nyota has trouble not staring. And Gaila was right – she's the only human, and really one of the only humanoids. There's Gaila herself, the Andorian, the Bajoran couple whose house they're in, a Vulcan who Nyota realizes belatedly is the same guy who was in the library earlier - she doesn't know how she missed his ears but she did – and two Tellarites and one Trill. Then there's Didiza, who has dissolved into a flat, purple puddle near the coffee table, and Crisaedh whose wings are taking up most of the couch, and a Seiliu who's obviously in its dormant phase and is currently rooted in a pot, which someone placed next to the other houseplants by the window.

"Welcome," Thaalan says and there's a murmur around the room as everyone greets him in return. "We have a guest tonight," he continues, extending one blue hand towards Nyota at the same time he points an antenna at her.

"Hi," she says with a small wave and a smaller smile, suddenly shy under the number of eyes and other sensory appendages that have turned towards her at Thaalan's gesture. "I'm Nyota, I'm here with Gaila. Thanks for having me."

"Welcome, Nyota," she hears in dozens of different languages, which makes her wish more than anything that she had a recording device with her, but she promised Gaila she wouldn't embarrass her.

"We are here tonight to learn about Cha'Tara," Thaalan says and the antenna that was pointing at Nyota fixes on one of the Bajorans standing near the back of the room. "Thex?"

Thex steps forward to sit cross-legged next to Thaalan and the room quiets as everyone waits for him to speak.

"Cha'Tara is a holiday that celebrates the teachings of the Prophets of Bajor," he says, folding his hands neatly in his lap and looking around the room. Everyone's listening attentively, their eyes – or whatever passes for eyes on them – fixed on him. "On Bajor we have a light festival in our capital city, to which all Bajorans who are on-planet travel. Our Kai – in Standard, High Priest – brings forth the orbs of the prophets and recounts the history of prophecies, as has been done every year, and will be so every year." He pauses and looks at each and everyone in the room in turn. When his gaze falls on Nyota she feels the weight of it and the solemnity of the moment, the quiet hush that has come over the group. "We are meant to be with our families on Bajor at this time every year and today I am here, due to the constraints of my profession. Therefore, I thank you for being with me on this day."

There's a quiet murmur again from around the room and Thex bows his head slightly before continuing.

"I have brought a demonstration of the light show. It is more beautiful on Bajor, should you ever have the opportunity to see it."

He produces a small, golden sphere and briefly cups it in his hands before twisting it. He pulls apart the two halves to reveal a smaller sphere inside, this one covered in small carvings.

They're cut outs, Nyota realizes when he thumbs on a small switch and places it on the coffee table in the middle of the room.

"Lights," someone says and the room dims, the only illumination the gray-blue of late evening streaming through the windows and the golden light streaming out from within the orb, shining on the walls and ceiling of the living room.

"Oooh," Gaila breathes. "Cool!"

Thex starts humming, a slow reverberating sound that Nyota feels somewhere down deep in her chest. Schori joins in, harmonizing with him and Gaila smiles softly, watching them, and Nyota finds herself doing the same.

Nyota finds Gaila's in the back talking to someone tall enough that Nyota can only see a couple bright red curls sticking up over his shoulder.

It's that guy again, she realizes as she approaches them. She steps carefully around Didiza and tries not to slip on her, even as she catches Gaila's eye.

"Hiya!" Gaila grins. "Have you two met yet? And wasn't that thing Thex had really neat?"

"I am Spock," the Vulcan says, holding up his hand in the ta'al. "Welcome."

"Nyota," she offers in return, raising her hand in the same gesture and thanking herself for having practiced it enough that she can do it nearly as easily as he does. "And thank you."

"I trust you are having a satisfactory experience?"

"It's great, yeah, thanks for asking," she says, nodding. She feels warm and flushed from the overheated room, and probably from the second drink Gaila got for her. "I never really knew anything about Bajoran culture so this is really interesting."

"Nyota's a huge nerd," Gaila explains, then raises both hands, palms out. "What? You are!"

The Vulcan – Spock – raises one eyebrow at Gaila's exclamation.

"A single minded expert in a particular technical field?" he asks. "Is that the correct translation?"

"If that field is being a nerd," Gaila confirms, looping her arm through Nyota's. "Want another drink?"

"I'm good," she says and Gaila gives her a squeeze before disappearing into the crowd. Spock's tall and she has to look up him in a way that makes her feel decidedly short. "Yes, that's what it means."

"That is quite a skill to be so proficient and yet her tone implied that it was not a compliment."

"She's…" Nyota says, waving a hand in the direction Gaila just went before realizing that such effusive gestures aren't really the best when used with Vulcans. "She was just teasing me."

"So I should not surmise from this example that it would be appropriate to inform humans that they are nerds?"

His comment is so dry that it somehow crosses the line of just being bland and expressionless and becomes kind of funny.


"Duly noted."

"I suppose unless you're an Orion. They use teasing as a sign of affection. Which I guess you might know if you know Gaila."

He glances down at himself. "As you can observe, I am not Orion. Furthermore, we are not close acquaintances and I have found that my heritage has a tendency to discourage such informal interactions."

"You never know with her," Nyota warns. "Part of that Orion charm."

"Thank you for the advanced notice," he says in that same wry tone. He tips his head to the side and studies her for a moment. "You have not attended one of these gatherings before."

It's not really a question but she answers it anyway.

"Gaila just told me about them. I guess she's been coming for a while, though." She tucks her hair behind her ear and glances up at him. "Do you come often?"

"I recently returned to Earth," he explains. "This is the third event I have attended since then."

She's on the verge of asking him where he returned from, and what he does here if it's not his first time living here, when someone calls his name from across the room and he excuses himself.

"Good evening," he says as he steps away from her.

"Nice chatting with you," she responds and then watches him as he disappears into the crowd.

"Did you have fun?" Gaila asks, once she's said her final goodbyes and joins Nyota out on the sidewalk. Gaila yawns into her shoulder and squints up at an offending streetlight, obviously too bright for her level of exhaustion.

"I'd never heard an illeism used colloquially like that!" Nyota says, her mind still churning over her conversation with O'nama. That gets her a sigh that borders on a groan, but Nyota hardly cares. "And I'd never met a Noelind before, so that was great. And Thex showed me that sphere he brought – it's beautiful up close, really intricately done. He said that every family has one and he brought his to Earth with him when he moved here."

"I think his parents are coming out to live here at some point, depending if he gets tenure. He's some sort of historical genius, teaches at Stanford. I think Schori does, too, or maybe does research or something," Gaila says, yawning again. She pats her stomach absently and groans. "I'm stuffed. Class isn't tomorrow, right? I need time to digest."

"Day after the day after tomorrow," Nyota confirms.

"Last bit of summer fun," Gaila sighs. "That was it, we're back at it."

"You're not going to keep going to those gatherings?"

"Probably," Gaila says, a shrug accompanying her yawn this time. "But school is just so… schooly, you know?"

"I, um, suppose I do. And, hey. Thanks for taking me. I know they're all your friends, but…" Nyota shrugs. "It was really fun. Thank you."

"See what happens when you spend a couple minutes without your nose dug into a book?"


"Whatever. Want to get ice cream?"

"Aren't you-"

"Chocolate ice cream. Sprinkles. On a cone. Maybe two. Whaddya say?"


"Good. I was also thinking yes."

For the Rest of Us

A Star Trek Story
by Psicygni

Part 1 of 10

     Home     Next >>