Sulu didn't remember the exact wording of the quote he'd read in some English class on post-modern horror, but the gist of the anecdote had stuck with him. The author - one of the twenty-first century's greats for that particular genre - who'd managed to come up with some of the sickest, most twisted, most creative things had been on a tour of the United States, making things up for a novel as he went along, and skipped over the entire San Francisco Bay Area, on the grounds that no matter what he came up with, San Francisco would top it.
He'd lived nearly all his life in the city, and he didn't think he'd gotten jaded to it yet, but sometimes he needed a reminder that he shouldn't take it for granted. Like, say, a fellow Starfleet classmate nearly six years younger than everyone else, even taking vastly disparate maturation rates into account.
He'd recognized Chekov from math class and, when he saw him at lunch, felt a little sorry for him to be eating alone - it reminded him a bit of the six months his family had stayed in Kyoto - and changed course to sit down across from him and strike up a conversation and a surprisingly firm friendship. Prodigy, genius, or utter jerk, Chekov had only been in the city for eight days, and had no idea how to deal with being away from home, much less San Francisco itself.
Four weeks later, they were strolling around the Ferry Building's farmers' market that'd spilled out across the Embarcadero to make room for all the booths and tents, and he was starting to get into his role of tour guide, holding Pavel back from falling face-first into a wall of shimmering iridescent fabrics next to a booth selling hand-molded breakfast pastries or tripping onto a four-armed street musician playing for her lunch who was next to one of the ubiquitous caricature artists sketching balloon-headed people under the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a bright, sunny day, unseasonally warm but no one was complaining, especially when it meant most of the market was outside and all the sights and smells and sounds hit you right in the face when you stepped off the trolley. Weaving through the crowds was all part of the fun, especially when you got to the farmers themselves with all their samples.
"Here, try this." Sulu grabbed one of the little paper cups and thrust it at Chekov, who took it without immediately eating it.
"What is it?"
"Oh, it's great, it's - sort of like peaches and ginger."
"Is it fruit?"
"Oh, oh." He nodded, and then closed his eyes and murmured something which Sulu didn't recognize except that it wasn't Russian. When he was done, he tipped the cup back and swallowed the slice whole. "Oh, delicious! Is from your homeworld?"
"Yes," the blue woman behind the booth said, smiling in her species' way. Chekov hung his tongue out of his mouth, copying her as best he could.
"What did you just say?"
"That was prayer, for new thing you do."
"What language was it?"
"You speak Hebrew, too?"
"No, no, not speak. Only memorize to..." he shook his head. "Not know the English. Repeat, but for a prayer?"
"Yes! Recite. Only know to recite Hebrew for prayers."
"What'd it mean?"
"This time it means, Thank God for new fruit."
Sulu smiled, and the farmer bared her teeth to copy him. "I can see how that'd be useful."
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