DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Cheree Cargill and is copyright (c) 2000 by Cheree Cargill. This story is Rated PG.

Flower Child

by Cheree Cargill

The woman I see entering the room is not classically beautiful, either by Vulcan or Human standards. She is too thin, looking like a child playing at being a woman. Her elaborate attire overwhelms her slight frame and her coiffure, makeup and jewelry accentuate that effect. I find myself thinking of the more substantial women I know aboard the Enterprise ... Lt. Uhura. Yoeman Mears. Nurse Chapel. Any female aboard the ship could physically dominate this child-woman.

Yet as she nears me, I begin to find myself drawn to her. Her eyes are large and sad, her skin like porcelain, her skin radiating a barely detectable scent that seems to pull at me.

The High Advisor introduces her as his daughter, Droxine. The Captain and I make our replies. Droxine speaks up, addressing me. "I have never before met a Vulcan, sir."

"Nor I a work of art, madame," I reply gallantly. The Captain quirks an eyebrow at me. It is an uncharacteristic reply and I wonder what made me say it.

As we walk and converse aimlessly, her perfume again catches my attention. I cannot identify the fragrance. It is inconsequential and yet I cannot seem to ignore it.

The Captain presses the High Advisor regarding the zeenite shipment. It is critical that it be delivered to Merak 2 within a short period of time. I should be concentrating on that problem as well, but I find myself strangely distracted by Droxine. The fragrance of her skin draws my attention away from the conversation of the two men ahead of me. I find myself becoming oddly aroused. It is not yet a sexual arousal, but something about her leads me to suspect that it will become so in a short time.

That gives me pause. Is this a latent effect of the aborted pon farr? That was two years ago. Why should it affect me at this time? And without any warning at all? I have detected no stirrings within myself that would indicate a resurgence of that condition.

I dismiss that possibility utterly. It must be her perfume. A chemical reaction.

We come upon an art gallery which the High Advisor proudly displays to us, then becomes angered as he discovers the damaged sculpture. I sense agitation and despair from Droxine, now standing close beside me. I have the urge to comfort her, to touch her soft ivory shoulders. To stroke my fingers down her arms and her back.

I quickly quash such feelings. They are illogical and inappropriate.

The High Advisor is directing us to guest chambers. "Perhaps you would like to rest," he says out of courtesy.

"That would be most welcome, Mr. Advisor," I reply for the Captain and myself, although it is not my place to accept such an offer. Again, the Captain glances at me but says nothing and we follow the escort to our quarters.

The Captain naps but I cannot do so. I find myself puzzling again over Droxine and her position here. She is cultured and highly educated, but naive and sheltered. I doubt that she has ever set foot off the marble corridors of Stratos. She has lived her entire life in this enclave of art and philosophy. Does she know of the plight of the Troglytes below on the surface? Can she possibly understand their reasons for rebellion?

Soft sounds outside the chamber catch my ear and I rise silently to investigate. I find Droxine setting up refreshments, her long, silver-blue gown shimmering like moonlight. As I walk closer, again her fragrance engulfs me. It is like night-blooming bell flowers, whose pale intoxicating odor drifts on the midnight air of Vulcan. I am drawn irresistibly to her side.

"Mr. Spock!" she says in surprise. "I thought you had retired to the rest chambers."

"I had. Your movements awakened me," I say. Why do I lie? I was not asleep.

She apologizes sweetly and I assure her that only Vulcan ears could have heard her soft movements. We step away from the refreshment table and face each other.

She raises her liquid blue eyes and I am caught by her gaze. The scent of flowers intensifies and this time I *do* find myself stirring sexually. It is more than bell flowers. It is the clean smell of the desert and the fresh tickle of water splashing in a fountain. My other senses come into play. I feel the heat reflected off red sands and the kiss of a cool breeze on my face. I can almost hear the music of the windchimes moving at the edge of our Circle and the muted crackle of the coals in the firepit in its center. I find myself wanting to taste her mouth and feel her silken skin underneath my hands.

She is aware of her affect on me. I can see it in her actions. She moves provocatively, teasingly, lifting her eyes to mine once more. Her fragrance nearly overwhelms my control. "I am most interested in Vulcans," she whispers. "Please tell me of yourself. Do you have a mate, Mr. Spock?"

I swallow to wet my dry throat. "No ... no, I do not," I answer. "I am unbonded and will not seek another until it is time once more."

"When will that be?" she asks, seemingly innocent as a child.

"In another five years," I find myself replying. "My wife and I divorced two years ago. I have not felt the necessity of rebonding as yet."

"So, it is true that a Vulcan only takes a mate once every seven years?" Her eyes pull me in. I want to take a mate *now*. I want to take *her* now.

I pull back some control. "The seven year cycle *is* inherent in Vulcans."

She moves away and sits on a bench, then fixes me again with her gaze. "And can nothing disturb that cycle ... Mr. Spock?" she murmurs.

I am compelled to sit beside her. I cannot get enough of the fragrance enveloping me, pulling me to her. "Extreme feminine beauty is always ... disturbing, madame," I say and I know that I cannot withstand her. For all her feigned naivete, she knows well what she wants and I cannot pretend to be sorry that it is me.

I find myself leaning toward her, toward her lips. Toward the heady perfume of her hair, her skin...

"Spock!"

The Captain's voice snaps me out of it. I am surprised to find myself so close to Droxine. The perfume has disappeared, its scent only a fading memory.

I rise quickly and return to the rest chamber, where I find the Captain standing with the young miner, Vanna. Droxine follows me into the chamber and her manner changes. She has become aristocratic, aloof, and her odor changes, too. It is now the sharp fragrance of rockvine and thorns, the stinging nettles of the Vulcan desert, deceptively fragile and delicate.

She and Vanna argue and I discover that Droxine's innocence is in reality ignorance, her beauty tainted by bigotry. I observe in her the inbred superiority of the upper class, looking in disdain at those beneath them, in this case quite literally. I find myself in sympathy with Vanna, as one outcast to another, discriminated against and forced to fight for every gain in life.

Droxine has lost her appeal to me and I wonder what had attracted me to her. She turns to look at me and again the odor of bell flowers is in my nostrils. And I understand now. It is pheromones that have entrapped me, deliberately released by her to snare my interest.

I stiffen and block her attempts at seduction. She no longer has charm or grace. I feel only faint disgust ... and pity for her. She is indeed a work of art, but it is the chill of marble, the inflexibility of molded steel. It is paint and canvas, not living flesh.

I feel her draw away from my rebuff. She has not given up. She will try later to breach my defenses, but I have discovered her tactics now. I will not be used by her as an object of her pleasures.

I am grateful when we are ordered to return to the ship. Stratos has become a prison, a gilded cage. I inhale gladly of the mingled odors of the ship's inhabitants and its atmosphere, even the unpleasant ones, for at least they are honest in their scents and meanings.

On my way to the bridge with the Captain, I pass Nurse Chapel in the corridor and catch the aroma of warm skin and soap, of fabric and leather, of her touch of sweet perfume dabbed at the base of her throat. She smells of medicine and disinfectant, too, of cleanness and something I can't identify.

I resist the urge to glance back at her, for it would surely be noticed by the Captain and I have no wish to explain my interest in the lieutenant. But I file her scent away for reference and I find myself remembering it that night as I lie in my bed, unable to sleep.

THE END