WON'T YOU WALK A LITTLE FASTER OR
understanding. "You're being ethnocentric. I do not follow your patterns, therefore, I cannot be happy. Correct?"
The young Russian shook his taurine head. He was determined, if not brilliant, Tanya had learned, and would rag an idea to death. "Don't you ever regret giving up your birthright, Tatyana?"
Tanya looked around the jerry-built bar at the farmers and their girls, at Fleet personnel and bizarrely clothed traders. She had never truly believed that humans could be as happy as they professed. But there was much laughter in this cheap place, while she could only return a curiously somber expression to her colleague.
"Does anyone on Vulcan love you? Is there any Vulcan you love?" Sergei asked.
She didn't want to explain the nuances of her relationship with her foster-parents. There was no way of knowing if he could consider them kind and loving, or arbitrary and alien. And she did not want to hear his doubt about them. "I'm going to marry a Vulcan," Tanya said impulsively. Her companion waited impassively to hear more.
"He's a Kataytikh, a distinguished scientist, from one of Vulcan's first families." She added maliciously, "Also First Officer of the USS Enterprise.
"R.H.I.P." Sergei whistled ruefully. "All that and he loves you, too?"
Why, Tanya wondered silently, had she told Sergei that, before giving Spock her formal consent? Before, even, she was sure she wanted to.
"An engaged woman's safe from me," Sergei said gently, perhaps mistaking her silence for distaste. "Proshchay, Little One. I won't bother you any more."
"It's Russian," he smiled. "It means `forgive me,' and good-bye for a good long time."
She watched Sergei leave. At the door he was accosted by a red- headed Fleet nurse, and they walked out together. Tanya felt moisture in her eyes and realized, unpleasantly, that she was going to cry. There was a stickiness in her palm, blood. Her cocktail glass had been gripped until it broke.
Hurrying to her quarters, Tanya remembered the Fleet Surgeon's appraisal when she'd confessed her crying jags. "Psychoneurotic symptoms. Do something about them."
"But I have," Tanya told herself wordlessly. "I follow the Way. Vulcan raised me to be sane."
Tanya sniffed, wiped her face, and concentrated on mental control. It was the shock, she thought, of losing so much at once, her assignment; her colleague, a chance at a life as tantalizing as repelling, someone she really did care about, and who cared about her. The unfortunate coincidence was that all these things centered around Sergei.
Perhaps her late contact with the uninhibited Hikchikerans brought the idea into her head with such irresistible force. Instead of controlling the problem internally, why not solve it externally? Before she lost momentum, Tanya dialed Sergei's I.D. number on her room's visiscreen.
His face swam into view against the backdrop of his room. Tanya felt rather faint, the red-haired nurse was with him, not undressed yet, but probably in the mood. In an extremely small voice, Tanya said, "You invited me . . . to see the city . . ."
His eyes seemed warm but cautious. "Sure . . . we can see the sights with Gloria."
"No!" Tanya said sharply. "Come to my quarters right away, alone. I want to talk to you." She flicked off the screen. alarmed by her own vehemence, before he could answer.
"She shan't have him. I won't let her!" An icy lump formed in her throat. This, then, was jealousy. Miserably, Tanya considered her situation. She knew nothing about human males; Gloria could easily out- maneuver her. And there were any number of other females.
Sergei would come to see what she wanted, and she would have nothing to say, unless. . . .
Tanya ransacked her closet for clothing that looked, she searched for the word, sexy. Fleet uniforms, Vulcan tunics, Fleet uniforms. She slept nude, so there were no nightgowns. Giving up, Tanya hoped that it would not be necessary to act very seductive.
"This is not lawful for a Vulcan female," her foster-father's icy logical voice seemed to warn. Tanya ignored the admonition, and tried not to think of the contraceptive injection she'd refused to take.
"I'll try to give Sergei what he wants," Tanya thought humbly. "It is what you want, the Vulcan voice said in condemnation. She giggled nervously. Perhaps in assent.
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