Over the Mistletoe

By Linda

Rating: G

Genres: challenge general romance

Keywords:

This story has been read by 1246 people.
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Disclaimer: No filthy lucre changed hands.

Keywords: Mistletoe challenge, Elizabeth Tucker (Trip's sister)

Summary: I just had to do a Winter Solstice-Christmas piece this year!  In this holiday season, people usually meet under the mistletoe.  But in this story, Trip's sister encounters a very interesting young man OVER a sprig of mistletoe.

 


 

Along a busy street of shops in San Francisco, a young woman was trying to hail a cab.  Lizzie did not normally share taxicabs, but when one stopped and a kind man with dark hair leaned out and asked "Do you need a lift, Miss?" she spontaneously shouted "Yes, Please!" and shifting the load in her arms, ran to the opening door and slid in. 

It took her a moment to arrange her items - several bags containing holiday items including Trip's gift and a bunch of fresh mistletoe, before she glanced at her benefactor.  His hair was a bit of a mop, covering his forehead and ears.  It seemed to be styled, but growing out.  What style?  She smiled up at him because he was tall and somewhat thin, in a dark suit without a tie.  Now wait a minute, the cut of that suit ... a strange collar with one part crossing over the other ...

"Thank you," she said, shaking her long blond hair so that it did not stick to her face.  It had started to rain and her hair had the habit of sticking to her face when it was wet.  She lifted a hand to brush it back, and lost control of one bag which spilled sideways and dumped the mistletoe onto the stranger's lap.

"Oh, sorry!"  Lizzie laughed and reached for the mistletoe.  Her hand brushed his as he also tried to retrieve the small green sprig.  She pulled back her hand as his touch seemed to send a mild shock up her arm.   

He gently lifted the plant and placed it back in its bag. "No problem," he said softly, brushing back a piece of his own hair which had fallen further onto his forehead as he bent forward to retrieve the plant.

Lizzie's eyebrows rose in surprise as the man's brushed back lock of hair revealed a tapered eyebrow and an ear which continued back under his hair. 

"Oh, you're Vulcan, aren't you?"

The corner of his mouth lifted momentarily and Lizzie thought his fleeting expression almost bemused.

"And I was being so careful to hide my accent," he said.  "I have been practicing the local dialect and I thought my accent was almost unnoticeable."

Lizzie's tinkling laugh warbled into speech.  "Come now, it was not your speech which gave you away, as you very well know.  It was when you brushed your hair back."

"Just so.  I am not used to my hair this long and I am beginning to get significant looks from my superiors at the embassy about it.  I will have to refrain from touching it when it gets unrulely if I want to pass among your people as one of you and get to know what your people really think of my people."

"Is that why you stopped for me?  To get to know us better?"

"Exactly.  But now I have spoiled it.  Where do you want to be set down."

"You mean 'dropped off'.   Um, I was going to Dorm B at Starfleet Academy.  My brother is a student there.  But say, there is a nice café near the edge of campus just around the corner from his dorm.  I'd like to treat you to coffee or tea there for giving me a lift."

The man looked directly at her and nodded curtly.  "I accept your kind invitation, Miss."

With him now directly facing her, Lizzie saw that this man was quite young, perhaps barely out of his teens.  She was about to ask his age, when she thought that might not be polite. 

"I have only spoken with two Vulcans before and they both did not seem very talkative.  You seem friendly and I too would like to get to know your people better.  I am an architect and may be working soon with some of your people on a project.  I ... have read a little on your culture...how to interact, what is polite to talk about and what is not.  Maybe we could answer some of each other's questions over tea?"

Again he nodded.  "Yes.  Logical.  An exchange that benefits both of us."

He turned forward. "Driver, can you set us down ... drop us both off at ..."

"The Academy Café," Lizzie finished for him.  

"Okay.  We'll be there in five minutes," the driver responded.

They hurried from the cab across the sidewalk and into the café and out of the rain.  It was warm in there, almost warm enough to be comfortable for a Vulcan.  He chose a table in the back near the wall heater and remembered to pull out a chair for her.  That is what he had read was the polite thing to do for a human female.

She gave him her smile which was like a shaft of sunlight which warmed him.   Surprised to find a Vulcan tea on the menu, they both ordered it.  When it came, it was passable and he told her how it was prepared back home.   His mother made the best tea. 

"Are you home sick?"

"No, I am perfectly healthy, thank you."

That smile again.

"Home sick means you miss your home.  You miss your mother."

"Pardon my misunderstanding."  He raised his eyes a bit and paused, as if contemplating.  "I think of my mother every day.  Sometimes I wish I was with her.  Sometimes it is as if I were asking what she would do in a new situation that I am confronted with.  Sometimes I hear plainly her voice "Komik, did not I raise you better than that!"

"Wow," said Lizzie with that tinkle-like laugh again, "Vulcan mothers' voices follow their children just like Human mothers' voices do.  How interesting."      

"Truly?"  He seemed pleased to find another cross-cultural connection to add to his collection.  "I shall have to inform her of that.  She will worry less about me on a strange new world." 

"It is hard for me to think of my own familiar world as strange.  Yet, I can see that it would be so to you.  You are brave to come here on such an adventure.  I don't think I could do it.  Well, I DIDN'T think I could, but if most Vulcans are as friendly as you, I would surely consider it."

He tilted his head as if regarding his tea from the perspective of peripheral vision.  "Truly ... I am not brave.  I was sent here because I am in the diplomatic service.  And I was ... apprehensive.  I have been to the Trill world and I was apprehensive about that before I spent two years there.  They are fine people.  But the general perception of Vulcans is that your world is a more violent and primitive one.  I do not find it so."

Lizzie's face registered surprise.  "Oh.  Yes, I do think I have heard that your people think of us in this way.  We did have a terrible planet-wide war just before we met your people.  But that was before I was born.  I see no current evidence of such violence among my people, do you? But I do see the effects of that last war in the ruined buildings I am asked to help replace.  Maybe the influence of your people has helped us put extreme violence behind us?"

He nodded again.  "Perhaps so.  My people want to help.  Ambassador Soval tells us that 'we come to serve' every time we have embassy-wide in-service workshops.  I believe in what he says.  Do you know I met him once?  He stopped in front of my station and said "get a hair cut".

Lizzie's shoulders shook and her eyes danced with laughter although this time it was silent laughter.  "It sounds like you treasure this admonishment like an autograph from a celebrity.  But I see your hair is still long ... for a Vulcan."

Komik raised an eyebrow.  "Any recognition from our esteemed ambassador is a compliment.  Perhaps in this one way, I am brave.  I am risking displeasure and perhaps censure in order to achieve my goal of local acceptance and increased knowledge of your culture."

"Perhaps if you explained this to Ambassador Soval he would find your longer hair logical and therefore acceptable, at least for a time?"

"Excellent!  I will try this strategy with him when he comes by my station again.  Because he will do that.  It is inevitable he will be checking on my hair length again."

Lizzie nodded and lowered her head to check her bags.  One had fallen over again, the same one with the mistletoe.  She pulled it out to see if it possibly would fit better into another bag.  Then looking at it, she decided to explain to Komik, its significance to the approaching holiday. 

"Have you seen this plant, which is called mistletoe, hanging in any of the buildings here in San Francisco, Komik?"

He reached across the table and took it in his hand, bringing it closer to his face to examine it.  "No I have not seen it hanging anywhere, but I recognize it from botany encyclopedies.  My second concentration at the Vulcan Science Academy, after alien cultural studies, was alien botany.  This is viscum album, a European plant.  Did you know it is poisonous if ingested in large quantities?  I do hope you do not plan to use it as a food.   You called it mistletoe, which I believe is a term that has been applied to several plants of its nature.  Mistletoe is the common name for a group of hemi-parasitic plants in the order Santalales that grow attached to and within the branches of a tree or shrub.  Mistletoe derivatives were first used in Germany for treatment of cancers and then this use spread to the rest of your world.   A very useful plant if used properly."

Both Lizzie's eyebrows shot up.  "My!  I did not know any of that, especially about it being poisonous.  It has a completely different ... ritual? ... use.  I don't know how this tradition started, but it is very old.  Probably European.   You see, we hang it over doorways or places where people are likely to walk under it.  Then when a man and a woman are directly under it, other people call their attention to it and the couple is supposed to kiss."

"To kiss?  To express affection like mates?  Publically?"  Komik's cheeks blushed a slightly deeper green along his cheek bones.  Lizzie thought that was cute, but she had read it was like the pinking of human cheeks - a sign of embarrassment. 

Komik continued, haltingly. "And would it not be possible that a pair of people who were not mates would randomly be found under this mistletoe?  Are they then obligated to ... kiss ... publically?"

"I have made you blush, Komik.  Sorry.  Well, no, the kiss is not mandatory.  And it is only in good fun.  Sometimes a person will try to get their...mate under it to encourage a kiss.  Kissing in public, well, if done briefly and not a lingering kiss of the extremely romantic kind, is perfectly acceptable in public among humans."

"I see ... like the two finger touch among us Vulcans ... also done briefly to be considered acceptable."

"Two finger touch?"

"Like this," he said, holding up his hand with his first and index fingers raised, which to Lizzie resembled the Boy Scout salute.

"I have seen that!" she said.  "Yes, on a street right here in San Francisco.  Just before a Vulcan man and woman walked away from each other."

Komik became conscious that he was still holding up his hand and quickly returned it to his tea cup. "Ah, you are observant.  Most Vulcan mates do this as surreptitiously as possible.  I ... have not done it yet."  And again he blushed.  "My future mate...she will not join me on any alien world.  She says she will never leave Vulcan.  I would like to . . . coax? ... her into an off-world adventure someday.  But I do not know if I will be successful in that.  I think that sadly ... we will be spending much of our married life apart."

"That sounds so sad.  Komik, I do hope you are able to persuade her."

Lizzie looked so concerned for him.  He marveled at the caring from a stranger and an alien at that.  These Humans ... they could show such compassion.  It made him warm inside.  A good emotion.  Good emotions were alright if managed logically, right?  His mother would approve?  He hoped so because he was going to feel them anyway.

He decided to push the conversation in a different direction.  "You know my name, yet I do not know yours.  Is it polite to ask a Human female her name?"

Lizzie smiled.  "Of course.  But it is not polite to ask a lady her age.  Unless she gives it unasked.  My name is Elizabeth Caroline Tucker.  But call me Lizzie.  It is a shortened version of Elizabeth.  And I am 18 years old, visiting San Francisco with my parents.  We are here to spend the Christmas holiday with my brother.  I am glad to meet you, Komik."

"And I am glad to make your acquaintance, Elizabeth Caroline Tucker, Lizzie.  But sadly I cannot kiss you under your mistletoe.  My family would be ... appalled.  But personally, I would see no harm in it as long as they never found out."

"Oh!  You are very sweet.  I know!  Before we part, let's make a compromise.  That two finger touch ... do friends ever ...?"

"Well, very rarely, close friends ..."

"Okay.  I will put a kiss on my two fingers, like this.  Then I will place the mistletoe on the middle of our table.  Then we will ... briefly ... touch fingers.  Okay?"

This was quite a daring suggestion for Komik.  He glanced around to see if there were any other Vulcans in the café.  There were not.  And no one was looking at the table at the back, not even the wait staff.  So he took a deep breath of the Terran air, which made him a little dizzy, and bravely said "Okay!"

He placed his two fingers to his lips then met her fingers with his over the mistletoe.  A gentle electric shock ran through both of them, tickling, enticing.  They parted their fingers as if burned, both their faces registering surprise.

"Ok, Komik, I ... have never experienced a sensation quite like that."

Komik dropped his glance, placing the tips of the fingers of both hands on the table, to ground them.  He knew what that shock meant.

"We are a telepathic race, you know," he whispered.  "That is what you felt.  You ... must be telepathically receptive ... at the very least.  I did not know that about Humans."

He looked up again, directly at her with guileless eyes.  "That is nice.  Very nice.  It could mean that our two species are in some ways ... compatible."  His cheeks now flamed bright green. 

"Oh.  You mean, like physically ...?"

"Yes."

"There have been marriages between your people and mine over the past hundred years.  Very few, but still ..."

He nodded.  He could not think what else to say.  He was overwhelmed, so he gave the typical Vulcan response to THAT situation.  "Um, Lizzie, I need to go meditate now."

She rose from her chair. "Yes, of course, I do realize that is something that your people need to do and must not be delayed ... as others have told me."  She signaled a wait person who came over immediately.  "May we have the check now please?"

The wait person removed a slip from his shirt pocket and Lizzie looked it over, then handed him a bill saying "this should cover it and also a tip".  She remained standing as the wait person walked away, as she now felt very shy with Komik.  It was time to leave.

"Let me help you with your bags," said Komik also rising.

"No, I can handle them."  She quickly slipped into her coat and scooped up the bags, crushing them against her.

"Oh, here."  He had picked up her sprig of mistletoe, and was dangling it over one of her bags. 

"Uh, you keep it, Komik.  Hang it in your embassy," she grinned mischievously.

He raised an eyebrow which disappeared under his unruly mop and one side of his mouth quirked.  "I believe I will do just that."  The mistletoe disappeared into a hidden pocket inside his tunic.  He set his face into a serious and formal expression which seemed so forced to Lizzie.  This was good-bye.

He raised his hand in that impossible Vulcan gesture and said "Live long and prosper.  Always, Miss Elizabeth Caroline Tucker."

She knew the response.  She had memorized it just in case.  "Peace and long life, Komik of Vulcan. "  Then she added "Take care.  Always."

There was nothing more to be said.  They walked side by side to the entrance and she preceded him out.  She gave him one last lovely smile and he returned it, the corners of his mouth aching from the effort of unused muscles.                   

Lizzie walked away with a pang of regret.  She knew she probably would not see Komik again.  He was the first Vulcan she had ever felt at ease with.  Being at ease, she had studied his manner, his clothing, his gestures, even the dimple in his cheek when he gave her that almost-smile.  She could not deny she was drawn to him.  What would it be like ... after that electric touch of hands in the taxi and the shock of their fingers meeting over the mistletoe ... to actually kiss him right on the lips?   She thought it would be like sipping fine wine.  She smiled, shifted her bags, and tried to put the guy out of her mind.   After all, she was on her way to visit her dear brother Trip, and nothing could be better than that.     

Komik stepped back into the shadow of the alley next to the café so he could watch the Human girl walk away.  She had such a graceful walk, even burdened by all those packages.  And her voice ... expressive, soft, compelling.  He almost ran after her.  But that would be ... unconscionable.  He sighed and recited his favorite Surak aphorism and tried to repress the regret of not following her.

 An image came to mind of a mistletoe sprig hung perhaps in the hallway of her brother's dorm.  In this image, laughing humans were surprised to be standing under it, then briefly kissed, and laughed again.  Her lips, so full, so pink ... what would it feel like?  Her hand had felt cool, soft, but she had withdrawn it so quickly from his in the taxi cab and both their hands had sprung apart as if magnetically repelled, over the mistletoe.   Would her lips have felt cool too?  He hung his head and his shoulders drooped.  He supposed he would never see this enchanting girl again.  Then he closed his eyes and gently pushed her image deep, deep down.  But it was there, buried in his mind, should he ever wish to retrieve it. 

Little did he know that he WOULD retrieve it, thrice.  Once a few years later, when a man's face on a vid of that first starship Enterprise looked so like the face of that girl.  He wondered if that was her brother since they shared a surname.  Then, in middle age, while watching a vid of a Human/Vulcan male serving as a science officer on another Enterprise, he would let Lizzie into his conscious mind again.  He would  recall in perfect detail, the beautiful Human girl he had almost followed, and wonder what THEIR child would have looked like ... if only ... if a hundred years ago, he had not turned and walked slowly in the other direction, searching for another taxi cab to take him back to the  Vulcan Compound.    Then, after yet another hundred years, at the age of two hundred thirty-nine, he contemplated the meaning of his life on his death bed - including the wonder of his great-grandson serving on the Enterprise D.  He slipped out of his long life hoping that katras and souls were real and that perhaps in the afterlife he could meet that girl again.


 

End note: In Voyager, Tuvok was a skeptic about the existence of katras, so I though, since Vulcan skepticism was canon, I could use it here.   Komik is my original character.  If there was a Komik in canon or novel sources, I do not know about it and did not base my character on him.      


Comments:

StarTrekPikachu


All i can say is WOW so amazingly heartwarming

Linda

Gosh, guys, I feel really good about your comments.  I may just try to do a follow-up story about Komik.  I can see him and Soval clashing.  I can also see more conflict between him and his intended.  And conflict fuels drama, right?

A

Rarely I read something so touching.

Distracted

This story is packed with details and leaves us wanting more.  It's always fun to get a glimpse inside your fertile imagination, Linda.

Brandyjane

You have an amazing gift, Linda.  Very shortly into this story, I came to really care about Lizzie and Komik.  I like his character, and I hope you use him again some time.

Oh, and I would love to see Soval's reaction if he ever learned what the mistletoe was all about!

Linda

About Komik having such a deep impression from such a short meeting with Lizzie.  I suppose that is because that one scene we have of Lizzie smiling and waving with the Xindi weapon approaching her left such a deep impresion on ME!  And people do seem to obsess over 'the road not taken' and it seems to haunt some people way out of proportion.   Perhaps, as you say, JT, they are not happy with the road their lives did take.  I kind of hinted at that with Komik's description of his intended's unwillingness to leave the home world when his training and career are all about alien worlds.  I see their future marriage as a kind of 'quiet desperation' thing.        

It is funny, you mentioned Robenson.  I am reading a Kim Stanley Robinson novel now - called Green Mars.  It is exciting in part, tedious in part.  It depends so much on things that happened in the previous novel - Red Mars, that I am missing some references.  The novel is so packed with places, projects, facts, and characters that I get overwelmed. But yes, the older people are forgetting their youthful pasts.  But I am not sure that would happen in reality because older people actually forget recent events but remember things from years ago quite well.  I had put this book down three-quarters of the way through it, and not picked it up again for three months.  But I do want to see if they solve that murder, so I will soldier on with it and probably finish it.  The engineering projects they describe are wow-fascinating.  But I wonder why there is no followup to some parts like the attack on the polar dome community that made the people collapse the dome in order to escape.  I thought that would have caused open warfare among the communities on Mars, and it didn't, at least as far as I have read. 

There is one thing I forgot to put in my story.  Elizabeth is an architectual student not a professional architect yet, as she is only 18. 

justTrip'n

Interesting . . . you've got a "Bridges of Madison County" theme: Longing about a skipped opportunity to take a different path in life. I'm a little surprised the encounter had that deep of an impression on Komik. I take it his home life was not ideal?  I'm wondering how memory works for Vulcans? Have they evolved great long-term memories to go with their capacity for long lives? Or do their long lives help explain the fact that they are so even keeled and hard to impress? They have simply forgotten what it was like to be young? In Kim Stanley Robinson sci fi novels, long-lived 200 year-old humans DO forget their early years. Hmm . . .

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