‘We’re grateful for your government’s hospitality, Councillor,” Jim smiled at the Pespora government representative. Pesporans welcomed contact with outworlders, and eagerly exchanged ideas and knowledge with the Federation representatives throughout the Enterprise’s stay. Jim could foresee this planet to be a much welcomed new member to the Federation.
Councillor Namari lifted her chest and flapped her wings. “One of our prophets said, ‘Every guest can be a deity in disguise, and remember the days we were sheltered by Melbury.’ We believe our future friendship with the Federation will be equally rewarding to us both.”
“It will be great if all species in the galaxy follow this teaching,” Jim said, thinking of his previous encounter with the Klingons and Romulans.
Councilor Namari’s long blue and orange tail feathers flipped behind her back. “A lot of hostilities arise when people misunderstand each other, and I hope you will be gifted with a clarity of heart in your future encounters.”
“Thanks. I appreciate your blessing,” Jim smiled back at her.
When Jim beamed back to the ship from the mission, he smiled at the loosely hung two-spiked lilac flower adorning Bones' shoulder. "Indulging your inner florist? Sulu will be overjoyed to find a kindred spirit. "
"What are you talking about? " Bones asked, crossing his arms.
"This is hardly regulation, but the flower is very becoming on you. "
"I don't wear any flowers, " Bones said slowly. "If you're not jerking my chain, I will do a check up to find out why you’re seeing things. "
Jim turned to Spock for confirmation that Bones was being serious, but widened his eyes when a yellow star-shaped flower with green stripes and a red centre now adorned Spock's collar. Something was clearly wrong.
"Let's go to the sickbay, " Jim turned to Spock, “You have the com until Bones cleared up my status.”
Spock nodded and left for the bridge, and Jim swallowed a comment when a new orange-red flower appeared on Spock’s collar
"Alright, I can't find anything abnormal in your blood, but your brain pattern is now different. Look, " Bones said when pointing at the screen. "The brain activity level in your frontal and temporal lobes is unusually high, and they keep sending signals to the part of your brain for symbolic processing. So what did you do down there? Touching any artefacts? Talking to any wrong people? "
Jim said, “Nothing really stood out. I stayed with my team all the time, except when I left I made small talk with Councilor Namari down there and she wished me well.” Then he recalled her words, “She wished me a clarity of mind in my future encounters, but surely it was just a common blessing.”
“Well, it’s never ‘just a common blessing’ when you’re concerned,” Bones replied, with the lilac flower on his shoulder turning into one with yellow petals and red spurs. “I can never relax when you and Spock get into all kind of troubles.”
“We’re still within communication range with Pespora and I will have Uhura hailed a call with them,” Jim said. “But most of all, can I return to the bridge?”
“I suggest no, until we’re totally sure you’re free from mental manipulation,” Bones said, all professional, yet the waving yellow and red flower ruined the effect. “Let’s have more tests.”
Jim sighed, but surrendered without a protest as he also knew the importance of that.
“So I have to take a leave from my duties for now, and I’m afraid you have to take up the slack here,” Jim sighed when he told Spock about the results.
“It is important to ensure your mental integrity for the mission,” Spock said. The yellow star-shaped flower with green stripes on his collar raised its head at Jim, and Jim noticed that its orange-red companion now grew into two. “If you allow me, I can meld with you to detect any tampering done in your mind.”
Jim looked away from Spock to the wall. Even after he realized his feeling for Spock, he was wary about exposing his secret in a meld and burdening Spock with unwanted feeling. “I appreciate your offer, Spock, but will your mind be also affected? One of us must maintain his command fitness.”
“I am confident that my mind discipline is enough to protect us,” Spock said, lowered his eyes. “but if you have concern…”
Spock surely knew how to play Jim like his lyre, Jim thought. “Just wait until we can talk with Councilor Namari first. But now that we’re here, mind if we have a match?”
“Very well,” Spock said. “I have duties in Lab 2 to attend to now, but tonight 2000 for our match?”
“I’m all yours,” Jim smiled, hoping Spock not realize how true the words were to him.
“Greeting, Captain Kirk. How can we help you?” Councilor Namari asked across the screen, her head now wearing a red-white furry flower.
Jim smiled back. “I didn’t expect the pleasure either, but there’s a situation I need your input.” He then explained his new vision after returning to the ship.
“Paenar, God of Miracles must have found pleasure with you, and granted you this gift,” Councilor Namari clicked her beak. “As far as I know, a vision like yours is unknown among our people, and we are grateful for you to enrich our knowledge of our gods.”
“I’m honoured, but how can this gift be removed? How can my vision return to normal?”
“Paenar grants us gifts so that he direct our flight towards a better path,” Councilor Namari quivered. “Once you set feet in the sanctuary you can lie on your back for sleep. I’m afraid I can’t help with that.”
When the screen was closed off, Bones burst out, “Why can’t the aliens gift something nice and simple like dilithium crystal for once?”
“Bones,” Jim glared at him for a moment and turned towards his bridge crew. “Councilor Namari said this’s supposed to be benevolent, and I believe that she’s sincere, but we should be cautious, so I’ll take myself off bridge duty until Bones clears me, and before then, Spock’ll be in command of the ship.”
Spock said, “I will provide assistance to the medical department to investigate the reversal of your situation when I am off duty.’
“Thanks, Spock,” Jim smiled at him. “Between you and Bones, I’m sure you’ll get to the bottom of the problem in no time, so any questions?”
Uhura’s eyes twinkled. “What kind of flowers do you see on us?” The lobes of a meadow pink flower shook along her shoulder.
“Ragged robin,” Jim burst out,
Uhura’s eyes went round still, and she burst into laughter. “Why, Captain, I don’t expect your compliment.”
“Excuse me, but what do you mean?”
“Ragged robin meant wit in a now obscure secret language used in 19th century United Kingdom,” Uhura said, “One of my hobbies is to study historical secret languages, so I have some knowledge of that.”
“Well, it fits you,” Jim laughed back, but determined to investigate this flower language when he returned to his quarter.
As a child, Jim grew a garden with coneflowers, butterfly bushes, dwarf asters, zinnias and other flowery plants and he loved it. As an adult, he enjoyed smelling the flowers in a peaceful mission. However, the Victorian flower language overwhelmed him with the over complicated symbolism. The meaning of Ice plants as icy looks from recipients may be literal, but why butterfly weeds mean let it go is beyond him. Most of all, it befuddles him why an alien gift rendered people’s feeling and thoughts into an obscure coded language on Earth, but his observation so far supported the hypothesis.
Heliotropes flowers blossomed in the ship’s science labs when Spock’s people worked on their various experiments, and wood sorrel flowers burst out when their efforts were rewarded. One look of the holly flowers and Jim could almost predict the outcome of every match in the gym ad rec room. Moonwort flowers, ice plant flowers and Christmas rose flowers crowded among the crew members who had to explain to him the accident in Lab 6.
“I think I will miss how colourful the ship is when it goes away,” Jim said to Spock.
“My offer still stands,” Spock said, raising his hand in a specific gesture.
Jim put on the best smile and suppressed any thoughts about Spock like hell when he said, “Go ahead.”
Spock’s mind entered his on little cat feet, and Jim shivered when Spock surveyed his mind. He almost clung to Spock’s when he left, but he straightened himself up and asked, “How’s it?”
The orange-red flower changed into a multi-layered white flower when Spock said, “Your mind showed no signs of alteration nor intrusion.”
“Thanks,” Jim smiled at his friend, relieved and strangely disappointed that his secret was still intact.
Soon Jim grew used to his flowery vision, and besides wondering about the flower by Spock’s side, he no longer paid any attention to it until Bones finally cleared him for missions.
Jim beamed down with his team and reached their local contact for further intel about Klingons action in the sector, and he paused at the hemlock and cypress flowers on the man’s neck. Still smiling and talking, Jim silently signalled his team be on alert and scanned for enemies.
The warning of death turned true, as one team member reported to him about Klingon presence. With his foreknowledge, Jim extracted his team and ambushed the hidden Klingons, revealing the contact as actually a Klingon double agent.
“I guess I should thank Pesporans,” Jim said to Spock over their another chess match.
Spock moved a pawn. “Your observation skill would reveal the truth otherwise.”
“Why, I don’t expect flattery from you,” Jim felt his ears heat up.
Spock’s eyes teased back. “Vulcans do not flatter.”
Jim laughed, and turned to the flower that remained on Spock. “I hope I know what this means.”
Spock raised an eyebrow in enquiry, so Jim described the flower on Spock to him, adding. “It’s beautiful, and unique like you.”
Spock turned very pale. “I must retreat for rest. Goodnight, Captain.”
“Why? Did I offend you?” Jim caught Spock’s wrist.
“Vulcans do not get offended,” Spock said, the lines around his mouth hardened. “I simply need rest.”
“I must have said something wrong. Please let me make up for you.” Jim pleaded.
Spock finally spoke, “The flower you described is culturally significant in Vulcan, especially in Pre-Reform tradition.”
“Why?” Jim asked, with an inking that the answer would be important to both of them.
Spock looked away. “A Pras’vai flower attracts pollinators by emitting a smell like decayed flesh, and they are believed to only grow on warrior’s graves, so in Pre-Reform poems, it means… love through death.” He took a deep breath. "I am aware that you do not share similar feeling, but please be reassured that…”
“Wait a minute,” Jim interrupted, breathing slowly. “You say you love me.”
Spock stiffened. “I trust that we can maintain our professional relationship…”
Jim laughed, and raised Spock’s hand for a kiss. Spock’s eyes widened and stared at him, which made Jim laugh more. “Trust me, with the way I think about you, I bet I am practically a walking red rose garden.”
“You return my feeling?” Spock asked, his body still remained too tight.
“With my heart and life,” Jim said, and matched his lip to Spock’s.