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 G.

Hotter Than Vulcan

by Cheree Cargill

"This is awfully sweet of you, Spock, but you really didn't have to go to the trouble," Christine smiled as she sat down at the stone table on the terrace of the small home Spock maintained in ShiKahr. He had come home to attend to some personal business and had invited Christine to accompany him.

"It is no trouble, I assure you," he responded, working diligently over the flame in the cooking pit that every Vulcan household seemed to have. "We happened to arrive during the Festival of Kah-loom and it is only fitting that we observe it with traditional ceremonies and foods." At last he seemed to have the fire at the level he wanted and laid a large, flat cooking sheet over the supports above it.

"Are you sure there isn't something you would like me to do?" she asked, propping her chin in her hand. "Make potato salad? Ice down a watermelon? Fry a chicken?"

Spock turned and leveled a reproving, incredulous stare at her.

"Sorry," she said. "This just seems like the Fourth of July to me."

"What is that?" he asked, turning back and beginning to lay out a variety of strange looking vegetables on the cooking stone.

"An old Earth holiday. The area of North America where I grew up is part of the United States of America and the holiday celebrates the day America declared its independence from England."

"Ah, yes, part of your ancient history," Spock replied, liberally applying spices and seasonings to the sizzling vegetables he was tending. "My mother used to speak of it. She is from Boston where the revolution began, if I'm correct."

"Pretty much. What are you putting on those things?" Christine inquired. The pungent odor of the vegetables was beginning to tickle her nose.

"Vulcan seasonings traditional for Kah-loom." He threw on another handful of what looked like black peppercorns and oregano, sending up a puff of steam from the grill. "Kah-loom celebrates the end of a major war 2,000 years ago. Surak's successor, Steyn, negotiated the end of it and it was the last conflict of its size ever waged on Vulcan. Tradition has it that a meal of this sort was served."

"Well, it smells good anyway," Christine responded.

Spock began scooping the vegetables off the grill with what looked like a spatula and heaping them onto an ornate serving dish. "I am pleased that you think so," he smiled, setting the platter down before her. "Because the meal is served."

He seated himself across from her and took a smaller dish, filling it with the aromatic vegetables and handing it over to her before filling a similar one for himself. "You use the tongs there much like chopsticks," he instructed, taking up his own. She still looked puzzled so he demonstrated, catching up a green zucchini like vegetable and conveying it to his mouth.

It must have been absolutely delicious because he inadvertently closed his eyes for a second as the flavors of the vegetable melted against his tongue. Christine mentally shrugged and dug in, pondering the fact that, of all the things she'd ever imagined Spock being able to do, cooking wasn't one of them.

She managed to get a large helping of her food into her mouth and began to chew. The flavors were a little strange, but absolutely terrific! She gazed in admiration at Spock, who had set about eating as if it were the best thing he'd ever tasted.

Christine chewed a couple of more times and then began to be aware of a strange tingling sensation on her tongue. Another second and the tingling had turned to burning. And then she felt like her entire head was bursting into flame!

Her first impulse was to spit out the mouthful of fiery food, but she knew that she could never be so rude to Spock, so she hastily swallowed it, the inferno following the food down her throat and into her stomach. Frantically, she snatched up the large glass of ice water sitting by her plate and downed it all without coming up for air. When she had finished it, she snatched up the pitcher of water and upended that as well.

She was almost exhaling steam by the time she finally got the fire doused. As she set down the pitcher, her face red and drenched with sweat, she became aware that Spock was staring her in open amazement, his mouth actually hanging open shock.

"Christine!" he finally managed to say. "Water is a precious commodity on Vulcan! That was meant to last both of us through the entire meal!"

"I'm sorry, Spock," she panted. "I really am. But I've never eaten anything so hot in my life! That stuff nearly took the top of my head off!"

"Naturally," he answered in perfect innocence. "That's what Kah-loom means. 'Hot food'!"