Category: Movies » Star Trek: 2009
Language: English, Rating: Rated: M
Published: 07-11-09, Updated: 07-19-09
Chapters: 8, Words: 14,341
Chapter 1: Transposition
Kudos and profuse gratitude to beta januaryfreeze92, whose stuff you should also read, and who helped me untangle some of the character issues.
Disclaimer: Paramount owns the characters. I just mess with their heads once in a while.
"We found them, Nyota."
Nyota Uhura sat bolt upright in bed. She had never been so glad to hear the voice of Jim Kirk.
"Are they all right?" she asked him, already up and dressing herself. While doing this, she found herself groping mentally for Spock through their bond, but was unable to find his presence.
"They're fine. A little roughed up, though.”
"I'll meet you in Transporter One."
"Not right away." He paused, seeming to hesitate. "There may have been – a problem. With Spock Prime."
"What? Why?" Nyota asked, becoming concerned.
"Security?" She knew she sounded like a parrot. He was being uncharacteristically terse and he knew she was suspicious; he also knew this was pissing her off.
"I'll tell you what, stand by in Transporter One and I'll send for you as soon as I can. Kirk out."
"Uhura out," she snapped, grabbing her communicator and rushing out the door.
She materialized just outside a small structure that looked like a mausoleum, on a planet with a greenish sky and the sun at its zenith. Her eyes quickly found the small party of men standing about fifty feet away. The posture of two of them was almost identical – hands clasped behind their backs, balanced on the balls of their feet, gaze fixed on the person who seemed to be berating Kirk.
Nyota covered the ground between them swiftly, honing in on the younger, slighter of those two figures. As she approached, the five men turned toward her and the one in the admiral's uniform said, "How is this going to help?"
Nyota came to attention, saying, "Lt. Uhura, sir," but her eyes were still on Spock and Spock Prime, standing not quite still beside Kirk and McCoy.
"You wanted someone to check him out," said McCoy impatiently. "She's the only one on board who has had a telepathic bond with Spock. The DNA scans –"
"Are useless in this case," said the younger Spock adamantly. "Brain function is not coded in the DNA."
"Sir," she said, addressing Kirk as a known factor, "may I ask what is going on?"
"You may ask..." Kirk realized humor was not going to be his best approach and his demeanor became more serious. "Here's the short version, Lieutenant. We found Spock and Spock Prime in a prison camp on the other side of this planet. They seemed physically all right but mentally – well, disoriented."
"If what Spock Prime says is true," Kirk told her, "they have been subjected to something called a mind sifter, and their katras have exchanged physical hosts."
She looked at young Spock, trying to process this information, but it was the older Spock's voice that said, gently, "Spock Prime now resides in that younger body, Nyota. I am your bondmate."
She didn't feel remotely like crying or getting hysterical, but all the humans looked at her warily as if she might explode. She ignored them and took one step toward the older Spock. He met her halfway and swiftly brought his fingers up to her contact points.
I am here, Nyota. Don't be afraid.
Not sure how to respond, she gave him the thought that first came to mind.
I'm not afraid, k'diwa, but terribly confused.
We can begin with that.
He withdrew his mind and she turned to Kirk and the admiral. "If what you want is verification, then yes, this is my bondmate, Spock, son of Sarek, born on Vulcan, stardate ..."
"That's good enough for me, Nyota," said Kirk softly. "And I've verified that this man," he nodded toward the younger Spock, "is the one who performed a mind-meld with me nearly eight months ago on Delta Vega. Spock Prime, as he's known to the Federation."
The admiral looked exasperated. "This is all very improbable and very irregular," he grumbled. "If I don't clear him to leave the planet, I'll have to figure out what to do with him. If I do clear him, Starfleet will want to interrogate me as to proper procedure."
"They will have to catch you first."
The voice was young Spock's. He tilted up an eyebrow as the admiral sputtered, "What's that supposed to mean?"
"It means that, by releasing the both of us now, you will remove us from your jurisdiction and responsibility. By the time Starfleet learns of our – situation, the question of whether you followed procedure will pale in comparison. You may escape their notice."
Kirk and the admiral stared at him, Kirk in admiration, the admiral with consternation, but also with dawning hope.
"Very tidy, Spock. Covers all the possibilities."
"Thank you, Jim." It was strange hearing his first name out of his first officer's mouth. "Remember, I have over one hundred years' experience dealing with Starfleet bureaucracy and its foibles. Dr. McCoy once summed it up nicely: 'The bureaucratic mind is the only constant in the universe.'"
McCoy shook his head. "If you all don't mind, I'd like to get back to Enterprise and try to sort these two out."
"We'll remain in orbit for the time being," Kirk said, "in case we need access to that mind sifter technology Spock described."
"That will not be possible." The apparently elder Vulcan had been silent for some time, but now spoke as if rediscovering his voice. "Before they escaped, the Romulans destroyed or rendered useless anything that could point to them as the perpetrators of the atrocities committed at the camp. We will have to solve this problem on our own."
A pretty enough problem, thought McCoy as he materialized in transporter one and headed directly to Sickbay. He then realized that the only one following him was Kirk.
"Where do you two think you're going?" he asked the others, who turned to him mid-corridor.
"To our quarters, Doctor," Spock said. "To attempt to 'sort ourselves out'."
"I want to run a few tests, see if we can find out what that machine did to your brains."
"If we are to concentrate on the problem of our reversed katras," added Spock Prime, in younger Spock's voice, "it would be more efficiently and privately done in our quarters. There has been no detectable physical change in either of our bodies. It is our consciousness which requires scrutiny."
McCoy threw up his hands. "Two of you are two too many for me. Mind if I join you, anyway? Seeing as how at least one of you is supposed to be my responsibility?"
The two Vulcans exchanged glances. "That will be acceptable," said Spock, and McCoy fell in with them, saying over his shoulder, "I'll keep you posted, Jim."
Chapter 2: Katras
Once in their quarters, Nyota sat in an armchair and stared at the two Spocks, sitting on the sofa across from her. She could not sense either of their minds, something that disconcerted her. She missed the familiar feeling of her mate’s mind brushing against hers.
"I know this is difficult for you, Nyota, particularly since humans rely heavily on visual cues for recognition and communication," Spock told her gently... her Spock... the one who looked like Spock Prime. This was getting confusing.
"You can say that again."
"It's a figure of speech, meaning to lend emphasis or agreement to the statement you made," Spock Prime told him. "I have a tendency to become particularly polysyllabic when faced with a particularly tricky problem," he explained, turning to Nyota.
"I would greatly appreciate it if you would refrain from making personal references to – to myself as I exist in this timeline. For all you know I might have overcome that tendency already."
No, you haven't, Nyota couldn’t help but think to herself, noticing Spock Prime’s raised eyebrow and trying to remember that the older looking one was her mate.
"Don't argue, boys," she said, feeling that if she didn't lighten up she might scream.
"Yes, ma'am," they said in unison. She chuckled softly and noticed they each raised the same eyebrow.
"Spock – Ambassador Spock,” she amended. “Would it be acceptable for me to call you by another name? Until we get your katras straightened out?
"If it will help you distinguish between us. What name would you give me?" asked Spock Prime in her mate’s voice. She couldn't help but think he sounded – amused.
"T'kahr, teacher," suggested Uhura, translating for McCoy’s benefit. “Tela’at – elder.”
“Tela’at will do.”
Let's hope this helps, she thought.
"I suggest we postpone discussion about the interpersonal ramifications of this exchange for now," said Spock, "and address the issue of reversal. If we can solve that, all else becomes moot."
"Tell us about what happened with the Romulans," McCoy suggested.
"The mind sifter," said Tela'at, "is originally of Klingon manufacture. Its purpose is to record, if you will, all information stored in the subject's brain. This includes memories, encoding it for reading by another being. This renders the original brain useless, and the subject dies."
"Normally Vulcans are able to resist this process," Spock continued, "up to a point. We are accustomed to shielding our thoughts more securely than other species. Unfortunately, our captors decided to try to extract data from both of us at once, at a high level of transfer. I can only theorize that, in the attempt, the information was extracted only to be deposited, not in the mind sifter, but in each other's minds. Along with our katras."
"An interesting psychological survival technique, but not one I would like to repeat, except in rectifying our current situation."
"Would one of you please refresh my memory regarding the katra?" Nyota asked, already wondering whether Tela'at had gained all of her mate’s memories... Especially the ones centered around their... marital activity.
The Vulcans exchanged glances and Tela'at spoke.
"The Vulcan katra encompasses what humans would call a soul and a consciousness. It is that part of the individual which, we believe, continues after the death of the body. A Vulcan body cannot exist without a katra; the will to live would be gone."
"Analogous to the human concept of brain death," said McCoy, "Some bodily functions could continue, but not sufficiently to keep the body alive for long."
She nodded. "Okay, but...only one katra per body, right?"
Tela'at continued, "The theory as it stands in your timeline is that, among Vulcans, only one katra can be sustained by one body. In my lifetime, it was discovered that non-Vulcans, if willing, could assist with this process. My own katra survived, largely intact, in the mind of a human for nearly a year before T'Pau was able to restore it to my body, which by then had been regenerated."
"Which would require the ceremony of fal-tor-pan," added Spock.
"So if we take you back to New Vulcan," Nyota ventured, "can the two of you exchange katras in this ceremony?"
"I do not believe so," said Spock slowly, with an eye on Tela'at. "The katra may be transferred to another body, or back to its own, if that body has no katra. No one has yet attempted to simultaneously exchange katras between two host bodies. Not in my time, at any rate."
"Nor in mine. There has been no need to explore that possibility." They were silent for a moment, then Spock asked, "Would you be willing to elucidate on your experience with the human host?"
"I knew I was going to my death," said Tela'at simply. "So I chose an individual I knew I could trust and gave him the information he needed to transfer my katra to a ceremonial vessel, a vre-katra, on Vulcan. As it happened, the only species at hand was human, and I was fortunate in my choice. I was also fortunate that my physical body was regenerated and my katra returned to it." He decided not to tell them about how he had changed in the process. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
"What happened to the human host?"
"He experienced identity disorientation, minor at first, but growing more difficult as the months passed."
"Did he survive the restoration process?"
"Indeed he did. He was also restored, to his usual cantankerous self."
"You knew him very well?" said Nyota, smiling.
"Indeed. His name was Leonard McCoy."
* Reminder: Tela'at is the older Vulcan in a younger body (picture ZQ). Spock is the younger Spock, the one bonded to Nyota, but in the older body (picture LN). My apologies for any headaches this causes.
Chapter 3: Meeting of minds
Meeting of Minds
After a moment trying to digest that bit of information, McCoy asked, "Did your katras transfer completely, or do you two share any information, memories, whatever?"
The two were silent. Then Spock said, "Unknown. However, a mind meld might reveal whether that is the case."
Tela'at turned to him. "Would you prefer to attempt it in private?"
"No need. I believe any secrets that may be divulged will be safe with these two." Spock looked at his mate, out of those aged eyes, almost slyly. Tela'at nodded and the two turned toward each other.
Nyota had never seen two Vulcans perform a meld. Spock melded with her on occasion, and they had a mental link through their bond. She missed that mental link, a part of him she could always have with her. Since the two had been lost on their reconnaissance mission it had been severed, probably by the mind sifter. She didn't want to think about herself right now; she had to try to stay focused on the problem.
Spock closed his eyes, gently placing his fingers on the other’s contact points. Tela'at's eyes were half-open as if deep in thought, his hands also in place on both sides of the other’s face. For several minutes there was silence; the only motion was the occasional shift of the Vulcans' hand positions.
Suddenly Spock inhaled sharply and began to breathe heavily, as if he were fighting something. Tela'at stiffened and tried to jerk his head away from the meld. Spock moaned in Romulan, to an unseen tormentor:
"No. You may not."
"Get out," snarled the other Vulcan in the same tongue.
"Kill me NOW!"
As Spock snarled the last words, Tela'at took hold of the grey head with both hands and laid his forehead against it. They sat this way for some time, occasionally murmuring something in Vulcan and breathing deeply. Nyota was suddenly reminded of twins she had once known, children who had their own secret language and spoke it softly and intimately only to each other.
Finally the two men raised their heads to look at each other. The younger hand lingered on the other's face, as if wordlessly comforting him. He then turned to the humans, who had been silently waiting the entire time.
"It is no use. We cannot perform even a rudimentary meld without losing our sense of individuality. Something is wrong with – " Spock broke off and shook his head, at a loss for words.
"I believe that the trauma caused by the mind sifter has affected our ability to allow any further mental encroachment, however innocuous," offered Tela'at.
"A logical assumption."
"Thank you. That leaves us, however, back where we began. If we cannot access the mind sifter, and we cannot meld with each other in order to repair the damage, what are our options?"
Once more they fell silent. Nyota, who knew this could go on for quite some time, spoke up. "When was the last time either of you ate anything?"
The Vulcans looked mildly surprised. McCoy chuckled. "Good point, Nyota. Come on, Spocks, let's go down to the officers' mess."
Nyota left abruptly. She needed to get back to work, needed something she could solve. They were in good hands with McCoy for now.
The three men proceeded to deck ten, where the mess hall was located. "Why is Nyota not joining us?" Tela'at asked, noticing that she was no longer walking with them.
"She's back at her post," explained McCoy, "She said she'd be off around 2200."
"I have observed that under stress, humans tend to allow some leeway regarding regulations, particularly when a loved one is involved. Is this not the case on your Enterprise?"
"It is," said Spock. He knew where this was going. Lowering his voice, he continued, "The fact that Nyota and I are bonded is not common knowledge among the crew."
Tela'at just stared at him.
"The captain knows, and I know," said McCoy, inwardly amused, "But they haven't gone public with it yet. Nobody even knows they’re, ah, dating."
"This is puzzling," said Tela'at . "I trust you have a good reason for your reticence."
They entered the mess. Spock said nothing, but procured food and sat at a table. McCoy and Tela'at joined him with their food, exchanging glances.
Finally, Tela'at said to the other with all sincerity, "Forgive me. You do not have to answer to me, or to anyone, regarding the way you conduct your personal life."
"Thank you," said Spock.
"On the other hand," broke in McCoy, "I don't see what all the fuss is about. You've been together almost eight months. You've been bonded for two. Why the secrecy?"
Spock folded his hands in his lap and took a deep breath, something he found he had to do rather frequently when addressing the doctor on a personal matter. "Humans make an occasion out of every moment imaginable. We Vulcans are more private. A bonded pair in our world, after their private ceremony, would simply set up an establishment together, at which point it would be clear they had formalized their relationship."
"They don't cohabitate before marriage?"
"No. Members of a telepathic race must be more particular about living arrangements with those with whom they have no family or marriage bond. The dormitories at the Vulcan Science Academy, for example, were single cells, spaced for privacy and separated by gender."
"I see. But that still doesn't explain – "
"I believe I see the difficulty," Tela'at interjected. "My parents lived on Vulcan and abided by Vulcan customs and rituals. There was rarely any question as to protocol. If Spock and Nyota lived on either Earth or Vulcan, their course would be clearer. However, on a starship, in a multicultural environment, it can be difficult to ascertain whose traditions to follow." He turned to Spock again. "You are having to make up your traditions as you go along."
"Well put," said Spock, with the vague feeling he was complimenting himself.
"However," he added gently, "It would be wise to consider Nyota's preference in this matter. No good ever came of thwarting the will of one's mate."
"So says the unbonded one," said Spock archly.
"Who has seen much and learned from it. I hope," replied Tela'at equably.
At 2217, Nyota sighed as she entered their quarters. Her head hurt, and there they were, along with McCoy. She had hoped she could speak to her mate alone.
Spock came over to kiss her. She hesitated, feeling a disconnect - it was her Spock, he kissed like her bondmate, but his skin was paper-thin, the lines of his face interfering with her reading his expression. Still, she could tell they had been in the throes of a debate. Before they could reel her in, she said abruptly:
"I have to sleep. And I need an analgesic. I'm not denying I need to discuss this whole snafu with you guys – but not now. I'm sure you'll figure something out; just let me know where and when to show up." She vanished into the bedroom. The three men watched her depart, recalled to reality. Her expression had told them how exhausted she really was.
"You know what," said McCoy, "She's right. Again. We probably should all get some sleep."
"You are most likely correct, doctor."
After McCoy bade them good-night and left, the two Vulcans regarded each other. Spock said, "This presents a bit of a dilemma, does it not?"
"Where will you and I be sleeping tonight?"
Tela'at felt an unaccustomed, but welcome, wave of amusement. He nearly smiled. "An excellent point. Should we leave it up to the lady?"
"I am familiar with her current emotional state and have learned it is best not to pressure her for a decision. Perhaps we should both find other accommodations."
"Get in here, now. Both of you."
She stood in the doorway in a long shift, cream-colored against her skin. They both opened their mouths to speak, but she got in ahead of them.
"And you both have to keep your shorts on."
Tela'at bowed his head in acquiescence; Spock said, "I hear and obey, t'sai (lady)."
Nyota was in bed with the lights out when they both got there. "You, here," she told Tela'at, patting the space in front of her as she lay on her side. "You can watch my back," she said to her mate with a small smile. They meekly slid under the covers.
"Any further orders, k'diwa (beloved)?" That was her mate, of course.
"Yes." She closed her eyes. "Hold me, please. Both of you."
Spock put his arms around her and buried his face in her hair. He was encouraged by her physical affection; perhaps it was possible for her to still be attracted to him in this older form. A faint hope stirred in the back of his mind that, if that were the case, and he were fated to live in this body, there was no logical reason they could not... But he had to banish that thought for now. He set his mind to meditate.
Tela'at lay on his back with her arm over his chest, listening to her breathing slow and relax into sleep. He was physically more comfortable than he had been in decades; his limbs were unaffected by the pains of age and what McCoy called 'wear and tear'. His old body was his home - familiar, worn smooth over time, but he was enjoying the vigor of this form. If there were some part of his mind that wished he could continue thus, it was silenced by his determination to cause no further harm to these two.
In the morning Spock woke quickly, but it took a minute or two to orient himself physically. His body – the older body – required slightly more time and care in its movements. His balance felt slightly off. Otherwise, as he surveyed himself in the ship's "morning" lighting, he was intrigued by how well Tela'at's form looked and felt. It gave him hope that perhaps he, too, might be able to 'age gracefully', as Nyota put it.
He heard Tela'at moving about in the kitchen. After stretching and showering, he dressed and left Nyota, still sleeping, to join his counterpart. "Good morning," said Tela'at, setting out tea and fruit, "I trust you slept well."
"Unfortunately, I did not," Spock replied, noting the ease with which the elder engaged in small talk. Sarek had always been skilled at this, but he himself was still learning. ""It is unusual for me to awaken during the night, once I have completed meditation. Last night, however – " His brows drew together slightly. "I woke several times to unfamiliar physical sensations. Aching in my joints. A sense of being uncomfortable in my own bed."
"This is logical. The body you now wear suffers from the Vulcan equivalent of arthritis. It can be difficult to achieve mental tranquility when one's body will not cooperate."
For example, he thought to himself, this morning I awoke with an erection the likes of which I have not had in decades. Fascinating.
Spock suspected that his counterpart had noted more pleasant sensations in the younger body, but he did not ask. He said instead, "Where shall we begin our research?"
"It might be profitable to for you to peruse current literature concerning the katra," said Tela'at. "We may also need to conduct some preliminary research in neurobiology."
Spock nodded. "We need a logical premise on which to base further research."
He only hoped this project would be a short one.
* Reminder: Tela'at is the older Vulcan in a younger body (picture ZQ). Spock is the younger Spock, the one bonded to Nyota, but in the older body (picture LN). My apologies for any headaches this causes.
Chapter 4: Spock Prime
* Reminder: Tela'at is the older Vulcan in a younger body (picture ZQ). Spock is the younger Spock, the one bonded to Nyota, but in the older body (picture LN). This chapter features Tela'at. My apologies for any headaches this causes.
Nearly a month later, Uhura had resumed her usual duties. Spock and Tela’at worked together, sometimes on Spock’s usual detail and sometimes on the katra solution. The official story around the ship was that Spock, now in the older body, was a Vulcan elder who wanted to learn and observe, a distant relative of their Mr. Spock. The two Vulcans spent their off time with Kirk, McCoy or Uhura, the only people who knew about their situation.
As for their living accommodations... "This isn't going to work," she had said a few days after their transposition. "I don't think any of us are getting the sleep we need. I thought having both of you here would be, well, comforting, but it's just confusing me more."
Spock had recognized that they all needed their own space and reluctantly, the two men took quarters not far from hers. Uhura imagined they needed to meditate quite a bit; they were certainly under more pressure in this situation than she.
Still, she never seemed to be able to settle her mind enough to address their problem objectively; she was too close to it, and no matter how much she talked, or to whom, she could not rid herself of a feeling of unreality. She had not realized how much she relied on Spock as an anchor.
She was about ready to snap and ask for a transfer, at least until this whole mess was unraveled, when McCoy showed up on the bridge one afternoon near the end of her shift.
“Hi, gorgeous,” he said, ambling up to her station.
“What’s up, Doc?” she said, not looking up from her work.
“I was just gonna ask you that.”
“Oh, for crying out loud!” She slapped her padd down on the work surface and confronted him, hands on her hips, eyes blazing. “Enough with the riddles already! Can’t you guys carry on a simple conversation without all the fencing? What do you want, Dr. McCoy?”
“I’d like to speak to you privately, if you don’t mind.” His voice was quiet, but he held her eye. “I wanted to be sure to catch you when you came off shift, so I came up.” He stepped aside and indicated the starboard exit. Uhura looked around to see Kirk studiously avoiding her eye.
“Permission to leave the bridge, Captain,” she said coldly. The words had hardly left her lips before Kirk replied, “Granted,” and she preceded McCoy off the bridge. They entered a lift nearby and entered; McCoy said, “Sickbay.”
“Why are we going to Sickbay, Doc?”
“Because I have something you need there.”
When they arrived, McCoy led her back to his office and locked the door. “Have a seat, Lieutenant,” he said as he rummaged in his desk. She sat, confused. He pulled out two shot glasses and a bottle of Jack Daniels.
“This I need?” she said, but she took the glass and toasted him with it. They both downed their shots and McCoy said, “I thought it might loosen you up a bit for my next trick.”
“Bring it on, Bones.”
“Spock and Spock want to know if you need them to go away.”
“Told you.” He poured her another shot, which she ignored as she went on, “Go away where? Why?”
“They both seem to think that their presence is causing you undue stress. That they should remove themselves and work on their problem elsewhere.”
“Well, of course it’s causing me undue stress. It’s causing us all undue stress.” She stopped and stared at him. “Am I causing them stress? Distracting them?”
“How would I know?” McCoy grimaced and drank. “Damn Vulcans and their damn philosophy. Listen, Nyota, they don’t want you to suffer any more than – hell, they don’t want you to suffer at all, but even they know that’s not possible.”
“Whose idea was this?”
“Don’t know. They presented it to me together.”
“Oh yes, the ‘group mind’.” She got up and paced the small room, her gestures becoming more agitated. “It’s like being married to conjoined twins. Even when I’m alone with one of them I can’t relax, I can’t be myself. I’m strong, Bones, but – I’m not that strong.”
“I know, Nyota.”
“Why didn’t either of them talk to me about this?” She knew it wasn’t fear.
“They both felt that their presence would upset you, would make your decision harder to make. I think it’s tough any way you slice it.”
“I was about ready to request a transfer myself,” she said in a small voice. “But I don’t want to admit defeat and run away. Leave them. Leave him.”
She sat down and looked at the full glass in front of her. Oblivion was very tempting. McCoy let her stew for a moment and then said, gently, “Let’s look at it logically. If you transfer, even temporarily, you won’t have the emotional support of your friends and colleagues on Enterprise. If the two of them go off to New Vulcan or someplace to find a solution, well, first of all, we lose the finest first officer in the fleet,” she smiled faintly, “and secondly, that still leaves you grieving here, without any Spock at all. Neither option seems viable just now."
“I’m grieving for somebody who isn’t dead,” she said passionately. “He isn’t even absent. He’s right there, and I just – don’t know what to do with him.” Get a grip, she thought and took a deep breath. She rose. “You can have that,” she added, nodding at the full shot glass.
“I get the feeling I’m gonna need it,” McCoy muttered as she departed.
"Spock is not here?"
As usual, Nyota had to adjust her thinking: the young man who had entered her quarters that evening was not her mate, but Tela'at. An ironic nickname. She wished she hadn't suggested it.
"No. He went planetside with the captain an hour ago. Kirk seems to think the presence of an older man will impress the natives. Besides, I think Spock wanted a change of scene; he was getting a little stir crazy."
"A concept which, like the human idea of a 'vacation', eludes me. I myself could remain in the same environment for years without becoming 'stir crazy'."
She laughed. "No, you couldn't. Isn't that why you became a Starfleet officer? To roam the galaxies, seeking out new life and new civilizations?"
Tela'at looked at her sideways. "Curiosity is a trait common to both humans and Vulcans. Touché, Nyota."
"Will you stay and have dinner?" she asked, almost hesitantly. "That was the original plan. There's no reason we can't go ahead without him."
The statement froze Tela'at's mind in its tracks, a rare occurrence. No reason we can't go ahead without him...
"Yes, that would be enjoyable."
They brought food from the kitchen to the table, sat and ate, drank some Vulcan wine - very mild, and now, of course, very rare - and exchanged pleasant conversation for some time. Tela'at cleared the table while Nyota sat on the sofa watching the stars. She never tired of them. The stars were where she belonged.
She felt a warm hand stroke her hair. He had come to sit beside her, so quietly she had not noticed. How could she not have noticed? She turned her head to look him full in the eyes, the eyes she had fallen in love with. Not his eyes, she told herself. You fell in love with him, himself, all of him. She could not completely banish the feeling that this was her mate, her Spock, her strong, young lover, barely marked by time and experience. She breathed in his scent, so familiar, and leaned against his shoulder, still taking in his features.
He sat still and let her study his face. He was accustomed to human moods and actually found them strangely reassuring. He never had to guess how a human felt. Well, hardly ever. He did not understand her scrutiny, but he waited patiently under it. She leaned against him and he felt his pulse increase, but he held her gaze and controlled his heartbeat.
At last she sighed and ducked her head to lay it on his chest. He drew her more closely into his arms and kissed her hair, stroking her arm, until his fingers touched the back of her hand. She turned her palm up as if to grasp his and heard his sharp intake of breath.
He had been raised and matured in a society which used hands and fingers for the most intimate contact. She touched his palm and his body reacted without his permission. He gasped and tried to pull his hand away, confused. He should go; this was not his woman; she did not know what she was doing.
Nyota had not thought about what she was doing until she heard him gasp. Then she remembered the Vulcan ways of pleasure, ways which her mate enjoyed but did not prefer. Keeping his hand in hers, she sat up and twisted round to look at his face. It was flushed, and his eyes were glittering, boring into hers as if trying to tell her something.
She glanced down to see his mouth open. Maybe he was going to say something. Maybe he was going to yawn. She thought no further, but curled her free hand around the back of his neck and pulled his head down to hers. His lips. His tongue. His kiss.
"Spock," she whispered. It was his body, his heart; why shouldn't she make love to him?
As if he had guessed her thoughts, he broke the kiss and managed to say, "I am not your mate, Nyota."
"We are not bonded," she conceded with the last bit of reason in her. "But you are my mate. This is my love," she kissed him again, "and this," pulling his arms more tightly around her, "and this," she ran her fingers lightly over the tips of his ears. He gasped again.
"This is his body," he said, almost desperately. "You are confused. We must stop." His arms and legs traitorously refused to disengage, and another part of his body had already given in and was demanding to take her. His control was slipping once again; even minimal stimulation seemed to overwhelm him. He had to get away, for her sake, for the sake of her mate. He stood up and she stood beside him.
"We must stop," he whispered again, but could not tear his eyes away from her face. Not for years had he desired a woman so much; not for years had he taken a lover such as she. At his age (his actual age) he had been content to go for years without sexual contact. He had thought he was done with that kind of madness. Now it came over him once more, the hunger his mind remembered but which his old body did not. Now he looked on her beauty, her youth, her softness, her strength, and found he could not stop; his senses were overcoming his reason. He snatched her up in his arms and buried his mouth in hers, feeling her nails digging into his back.
Once in the bedroom he pulled off her clothes, heedless of any damage he was doing, and flung them away. His clothes soon followed and the heat of his bare flesh, the flesh she knew so well, sank into her as she wrapped herself around him. He trembled again; contact, warmth, the wetness of her mouth on his throat, her breath in his ear, her nipples grazing his chest; he could feel only her and the rest of the world fell away. He pinned her wrists behind her, bent her back, nuzzled her neck. She flung her head back and arched up against his mouth, and he closed his teeth on her skin, losing himself completely in the taste of her.
When he released her, she flung herself back onto the bed, her arms and legs spread wide. Swiftly he straddled her body, taking both her hands in his own, lifting his right hand, the first two fingers, and touching her lips with them. Instantly she felt flushed; the wave swept over her mouth and was gone. He sat her on the bed and knelt between her legs, using his fingers to touch and stroke her lips, her face, her ears, leaving a trail of fire as he went. She did not know how to impart these sensations with her own hands, but he was content not to be distracted. She watched him watching his own fingers as they trailed downward to brush against her nipple, and she shuddered, so hard that the contact was broken. He looked up at her.
"More," she whispered. He bent his head and touched her nipple, with his lips this time, using his fingers on the other breast. She grabbed his shoulders and shuddered again, but this time he moved with her and continued his explorations.
"Nyota," he groaned and Nyota felt a shot of adrenaline at the sound of Spock's voice.
She watched as he sat up, turned her right hand palm up and began to stroke it with his fingertips as it lay on his chest, his eyes fixed on hers. With his other hand he placed hers palm down over his heart, throbbing against his side. She could feel his sex pressing against her mound as he balanced over her, and she pushed her hips up just a little, to hear him gasp and watch his cock get just a little harder. As he closed his eyes and began to kiss her fingers, she slid her other hand away from his heart and slowly but firmly gathered his hardness in her hand. She was rewarded with a tightening of his thighs and ass.
He had been ambushed while concentrating on tasting her fingers; now his hand pressed hers flat against his chest as he gasped and tried to still his loins. She grasped that hand and brought it down to her mouth. She touched the center of his palm with her lips and his body shook and arched. She kissed his fingertips, then his knuckles, then slipped his thumb into her mouth and sucked. He nearly cried out with the sensations flooding him. He had underestimated the sensitivity of this body; he had not thought it possible for any lok to be this hard.
He stretched out on top of her, covering her completely, her legs together between his knees as she once more pulled his head down, this time to kiss and tease the tips of his ears. She had found what humans called a "sweet spot", a secret he had always known and shared with his lovers, who happily used it to their advantage. And to his own. Her tongue tickled the shell of his ear and he let out a sigh and rolled over, pulling her to lie on top of him.
"Spock," she whispered against his cheek. "Touch me, let me feel your hands all over me."
He rubbed his palms down her spine, stroked her buttocks in firm circles and she squirmed with pleasure, parting her legs to keep her balance; he could feel how wet she was against his thighs. He gave her lips small, light kisses as his hands came round to spread over her breasts. He opened his mouth to let her sink her tongue into him as his thumbs teased her nipples.
She moaned. Her head bowed and her pelvis rocked slowly on top of him, grinding against his erection. She had abandoned her other explorations and was now focused on her sex where it rubbed against his. She wanted to see him come in.
He lifted her by the hips and let her take hold of his shaft, bringing it against her opening, then slowly, slowly lowered her an inch or so onto him. She braced her hands on his shoulders and gasped, still rocking. He pushed her upward, exposing his glistening length, then lowered her again, this time halfway down. She was trembling, whether from barely controlled passion or fatigue he could not tell. Without removing himself from her, he rolled gently to one side and on top of her.
"Now take me, Nyota," he murmured, and with that he slid smoothly into her up to the hilt and remained still for a moment, feeling her tightness and hearing her gasping become deeper and harder. He moved slowly inside her, patiently, prolonging her agonizing ascent to climax.
And climax she did, not fast or hard, but deeply, slowly, a drawn-out wail rising from her gut and dying to a sigh. The wave seemed to last forever; he waited, still moving steadily inside her, and when her grip relaxed slightly, he began to press harder, pull out further, increase his speed slightly. He felt that his body was directing his motions, his mind and body filled with lust and need, and he thrust rapidly, releasing his essence into her. Behind the ecstasy of his orgasm there was a feeling of triumph.
They lay, panting, in each other's arms, for a long time. "Spock," whispered Nyota. "My k'diwa." It took a moment for it to sink in, then her eyes flew open. She had been deceiving herself. She knew it, and he knew it. "Spock!"
He lifted his head to look at her, and mingled with the triumph there was regret.
Chapter 5: Spock
AN: Thanks to Dr. Spleenmeister, outtabreath, january92, and kalenel for hanging in and critiquing my weird storyline. The end is near...
* Reminder: Tela'at is the older Vulcan in a younger body (picture ZQ). Spock is the younger Spock, the one bonded to Nyota, but in the older body (picture LN). This chapter features Spock. My apologies for any headaches this causes.
Spock knew there had been a change the moment he entered their quarters, even before he saw the back of Tela'at seated on the floor before his meditation candle. It was late, close to midnight ship's time, and he and Kirk had just returned from their visit to the planet's indigenous leaders. He stood still approximately ten feet from Tela'at and said quietly, "What has occurred in my absence?"
The younger head bowed momentarily. Then Tela'at rose to face him. "I have made an error in judgment," he said, just as quietly. "If I have damaged our friendship, or your relationship with Nyota, please forgive me."
Confused, Spock stared at him, waiting for an explanation. None seemed forthcoming; Tela'at's expression was subdued, almost downcast. Of all the possibilities running through Spock's mind, none seemed likely to be a threat to his relationship with his wife.
Spock turned abruptly and entered their bedroom. "Lights, fifty per cent," he said and as the lights came up he saw his mate sit up, blinking.
"Spock," she said and held out her arms. He stayed where he was.
"Nyota, I would like to know what transpired between you and Tela'at this evening." He did not trust his voice to continue. His control had been fragile enough over the past weeks; now it seemed to be under assault from his own emotions.
Nyota put her arms down and folded her hands.
"Nothing that we are ashamed of," she said bluntly.
"Please be more specific."
"I will if you'll come sit over here."
He did and was grateful she didn't try to embrace him or touch him. She took a deep breath and looked him in the eye, and said, "We had dinner and talked, and sat together, and I touched him and it was you," and now the words were spilling from her, "your hands, your body, and I convinced myself it was your mind. And we made love, and I'm confused as to whether it was right or wrong. But I needed it. I need you. I can't go on like this."
She began to cry, dropping her head into her hands. He wanted to hold her but instead waited for her to catch her breath. When she lifted her tear-stained face, he spoke.
"I cannot say whether your actions were morally right or wrong, or even inappropriate. There is no precedent for our situation. I am disappointed, but - " He stood and paced the small room. "This event is not surprising if one considers it objectively."
"I don't. Why isn't it surprising? It surprised the hell out of me."
"Look at me," and his voice took on an edge she was unaccustomed to hearing when he spoke to her. "This body is over a century old, old even for a Vulcan. It does not respond to my will as readily as my own physical form. My ability to move and meditate and even my thought processes are impaired by the physical and chemical limitations of age. Spock Prime is a healthy man. But he is old. And I - I am not."
"I love you all the same."
"I know. I also understand that your joining with Tela'at does not indicate that your love has changed. But biology will win out over logic and reason in the end, if not for me and Spock Prime as Vulcans, then for you as a human."
"Are you saying I can't help myself? Don't be patronizing, Spock."
"I am saying that as time goes by," he said in a softer tone, "your perception of us will become more - fluid. Your mind, your katra is drawn to mine in our bond and in our hearts. Yet your body is drawn to that one - " he nodded toward the living room " - and the sex drive, the need for physical intimacy, is also strong. I do not know which will prevail."
She was silent. She knew this was true; she had experienced it firsthand. After a long time she finally said, "Touch my mind, Spock. Please."
He studied her for a moment. He was more hurt by the evening's events than he had shown; he didn't know whether it was wise to share his thoughts with her just now. As usual, she guessed his thoughts, saying, "I understand if you don't want to. You may follow the Vulcan way, but I know this has hurt you. That's what I'm sorry about. I have let you down, and myself, and even that man out there, whose only mistake was to be alone with me when my will was weak."
Spock came over and sat beside her; his face was completely unreadable to her, so she was relieved when he brought his fingers up to her contact points.
his thoughts were reticent, almost formal
I am here. What is it you wish?
I wish to show you. Not memories of tonight. Other memories.
In her mind he saw himself, in the body of Spock Prime, her perception of him. His physical appearance intrigued her; he caught glimpses of curiosity, admiration as she viewed him in various activities - but little desire. She loved him. But his body did not attract her; it confused her.
In his turn he shared his state of mind with her, trying to withhold his most intense emotions, but unable once again to exert full control over his thoughts. His pain, sadness, anger, desire spilled out of him to wash over her mind, primitive, territorial, the most brutal emotions of possession and betrayal. He sensed that she was trying to take them all in and process them. It was beginning to overwhelm her. He withdrew from the meld and focused on her face, which was once again covered with tears. He stood up.
"Don't go," she whispered, frightened. He shook his head.
"I will only be a moment."
He stepped out into the living area, where Tela'at sat in the same spot as previously; he looked up at Spock.
"Tela'at," Spock said to him. "I bear you no ill will."
"I am grateful for that."
"I must ask that you leave us alone for today. I will contact you when I am ready to resume our study."
Tela'at nodded. He was relieved that Spock seemed to be handling this turn of events with, if not dignity, at least courtesy. Now was not the time to test that courtesy; he left the quarters without another word. Spock sealed the door behind him and paused at the comm panel to key in a message that he would be unavailable for twenty-four hours. After a moment's reflection he added Nyota's name to the message. He went over and stood in the doorway of the bedroom; Nyota was in the shower. He sat down on the couch and tried to compose himself.
Was this infidelity? She was bonded to him, Spock, yet part of him, his physical form, was now under the control of another man. Did she have a right to access his body as well as his mind? One could argue that it was so. Did Spock Prime have a right to join with Nyota on the same principle? He doubted that any of their actions had been reasoned out at the time, but considering the issues helped him put those actions in perspective.
The more important dilemma, he realized, was the question of how their relationships would change if he and Spock Prime were unable to reverse the effects of the mind sifter. They had changed already; none of them could put off thinking about it any longer. It seemed illogical to censure Spock Prime and Nyota's behavior when there was no precedent and no analogy for their bizarre situation.
He still felt... betrayed.
He heard a soft footstep and looked up; Nyota stood in the bedroom doorway in his bathrobe. He only wore it when the environmental control made their quarters too cool for him. It was thick and black, came nearly down to her toes, and made her look like a child, but she loved wearing it, particularly when he had to be gone for some time. She said it smelled like him.
Sensory input, he thought. He looked at her as she came toward him, his eyes following the curve of her calf as she walked, and thought of something constructive he could do with this information.
She stopped before him and he took her hand, drawing her down to sit beside him on the couch. He put his arms around her and she put her head on his chest, saying, "Tal-kam, Spock."
"Close your eyes, k'diwa," he murmured. Then he slid his cheek down to touch his lips to hers, hesitantly.
Into Nyota's mind came a memory of their first kiss, the first he had returned, on the transporter pad. She had come to wish him good luck, illogically, and he had looked down at her with that steady gaze, had laid his hand gently on the back of her neck and leaned down to kiss her.
She felt a spark stir somewhere in her middle. Mingled with a stab of self-reproach.
"Spock. I know I have hurt you. Will you forgive me?"
"If I have been hurt," he said against her cheek, "it is not entirely your fault. Nor Tela'at's. We must find a way to return to ourselves." He drew a deep breath. "If you need me to -- I forgive you," he whispered.
She felt his mouth on hers again and opened her lips to let him explore. Before he met her, he had said, the attraction of the kiss eluded him; he felt it was overrated as a method of stimulation, although sufficient to indicate affection. Once he had tasted her kiss, however, he could not get enough of it. And he was damn good at it. When he kissed her like this, she felt like she was halfway to climax already.
Like this, she thought, recognizing the kiss of her lover, regardless of his bodily form. The spark flared up and her mouth became urgent, hungry. Spock felt it and brought his hands up to sink them in her long hair, cradling her head as he drank in her kiss. Nyota reached up to move his fingers toward her contact points and he began the meld.
my love, my love, she thought, you are my only one, my t'hy'la
my wife, and now his thought was anything but distant
They rose as one and she took his hand and practically dragged him to the bedroom. He stood with his eyes closed, feeling her hands on him as she divested him of his clothes.
Nyota stood back and had a good look at his body. He was straight and tall, leaner than Spock, his flesh not as toned but still well-proportioned. His skin was worn and slightly darker olive than her mate's, soft, but punctuated with scars. Battle-worn, she thought. His fingers were slightly bent, with arthritis, she knew, but his hands were steady. She smoothed his iron-gray hair – they had the same cowlick, for Pete's sake! – and he opened his eyes, lifted his hand to stroke her cheek, drew her into his arms. He drew in his breath sharply and she realized he had seen the teeth marks on her neck.
You are mine, he said, suddenly fierce, possessive, whatever form I may take, as long as I live, mine alone
He pulled her body hard against him and flung both their bodies down on the bed, jerking her robe open and pinning her down. Opening her eyes, she looked down to see his shoulders, his arms, the arch of his spine, his lips on her throat, and it was his gesture, his movement, his touch seeking out the places he knew and loved.
Spock brought his head up swiftly, sensing her thoughts, and nipped lightly at her jaw, her ears, parting her legs with his knee. He felt the heat stirring in her sex. He remembered the first time he had tasted her there. The sight of her womanhood alone had almost caused him to climax.
Nyota, catching his thought, shivered, felt a stirring along her thigh, firm, pulsing, heating up slowly but steadily.
remember, he thought
as his tongue slipped down to circle her nipple, his hand hot on her back now as she arched up into his mouth. His tempo increased; he was touching all her hot spots, relentlessly, giving her no time to process and barely time to respond. Before she knew it he had insinuated his hand between her legs and was stroking and squeezing her mound. She felt her desire kick up a notch and gripped his hair as he sucked and teased her nipples into excruciating tenderness.
He removed his mouth from her at last and she moaned.
I am simply relocating, he thought and spread her legs with one hand. He watched her writhe in anticipation, the sight of her body doing more to arouse him than nearly anything else about her. Nearly anything else. Slipping his arms under her thighs, he sank his mouth down on her, driving his tongue between her labia, and felt her thrust into his mouth, drenching him with her sweet juices, crying out and squirming as he kept his grip on her thighs and drank her in.
Nyota felt release pouring through every inch of her body, and hot skin covered her own as Spock moved up to savor her mouth again. He knew he had to move quickly. Without breaking the kiss, he lifted his hips slightly and pressed against her opening. It was then, at the moment he thought he had succeeded, that his traitorous body balked and his erection began to fade. Just enough to prevent entry; just enough to get her attention; just enough to weaken his concentration.
t'hy'la, you want it, you can do it
but she filled his mind with the image of his own face, the first time they made love and he could not let go of his shields; she had whispered his name, somehow it had unlocked something inside him
"Spock," she murmured in his ear and her tongue touched the tip.
she sucked on it and he moaned
I cannot ... complete
"Spock," she said again, then whispered a word in his ear, a short, blunt, salacious Anglo-Saxon verb. She said it again, louder, and he felt a jolt of electricity down his spine and her mouth on his and he groaned and focused his mind on a single memory : it was the pon farr, she had come to save him, he was beneath her and she was coming, and he had reached up to touch her mind and they both exploded
we are one
Nyota wrapped her legs around him as he thrust into her, pumping short and steady and coming fast, something like a shout escaping him as he buried his face on her shoulder. She wrapped herself tightly around him and realized she was crying again. This has to end, she thought, to herself as the meld had dissolved. We can't go on like this, none of us.
"T'hai'la," he whispered.
Chapter 6: Nyota
In the afternoon, Spock sought out Tela'at in his quarters. Without preamble, he said, "Any issues Nyota and I may have had with the activities of last night have been resolved."
"I am relieved to hear it."
Spock wondered, not for the first time, whether the ability to allow oneself to speak of emotions was something that came with age, or something unique to this Vulcan. He went on, "You and I, however, have some decisions to make."
"Indeed." The two sat in the living area; a small stack of padds and a larger stack of printed volumes occupied the table. Spock looked down and noticed a diagram on one of the padds.
"Is this a schematic for the mind sifter?"
"No," said Tela'at, reaching over to bring up another image. "This is a prototype for something Starfleet tried to develop forty years ago, in this timeline. They abandoned it as too cruel a treatment, even for their worst enemies. The Klingons apparently developed their own, or perhaps stole the plans for this."
"Fascinating." Spock tore his thoughts away from Klingon technology and said, "I am concerned about how we are to conduct our relationships with Nyota from here on."
"Does she have an opinion?"
"She is meditating on it."
Tela'at studied Spock for a minute. Wishing was illogical, but at the moment he regretted being unable to meld with this man, to accurately express both his thoughts and feelings. He began: "Spock, since my closest human friends passed away, I have had little practice sharing my innermost thoughts verbally."
Spock hadn't expected that. He said, "I encourage you to make the attempt."
"I believe it was wrong of me to make love with Nyota. I take responsibility for my part in it. I am only saying that my part in it was influenced by forces which I am usually able to control. I am not excusing my behavior. You should know, however, that I did resist -- and that was the most difficult part of the evening."
"Ironic," said Spock drily. "You are having difficulty with control because your body is the stronger influence. I am having the opposite difficulty." He paused. "Most of the time."
Tela'at observed that the other's expression seemed almost -- complacent. He wondered how Nyota was feeling after what appeared to have been a busy night.
He turned his thoughts away from the possible causes and said, more seriously, "We have now come to a point where something must be done. If we cannot find an immediate solution to our transposition, we will have to go separate ways."
"You and I?"
"Possibly you, I, and Nyota."
"Spock," said his elder, in Spock's own voice, "You have loved a human woman. You and I were both raised by one. What is the typical response of such a woman to a creature in distress, one whom she loves?"
"Compassion. Encouragement. A need to help."
Tela'at nodded. "Nyota cannot help us with this situation. She has compassion to spare, and encouragement, and a fierce loyalty to those she loves. But it is growing increasingly more difficult for her to divide her emotional support between us."
Spock began to see his point. "She is drawn to me because of our love. She is drawn to you because of your friendship and familiarity. In appearance, in manner, possibly in -- intimate matters."
Tela'at nodded. "Physical comfort, sexual or platonic, is of extreme importance to human relationships, as I am sure you are aware."
"I had only recently begun to recognize this component of our difficulty."
Tela’at regarded him with compassion. "You will find, my young friend, that the longer your life lasts, the further ahead you may be able to anticipate. And, forgive my mentioning it, but my experience with humans and women gives me an advantage in understanding their actions. I say this as a friend, one who knows you well, who has had long life, and my share of lovers."
Spock looked up at him, startled. Tela'at went on:
"You find this surprising? I am not bonded, yet neither am I attracted to a life of celibacy. As McCoy once put it, rather crudely, 'There's life in the old Vulcan yet.'" His eyes were positively mischievous.
Spock was saved from even deciding whether that merited a reply by the chime of the door. "Enter," said Tela'at, and they both rose as Nyota came in. She went to Spock and kissed his cheek, did the same to Tela'at, then sat down in an armchair. Where they can only get so close, she thought, and hoped what she had to say would make sense.
The Vulcans sat and waited. Nyota took a deep breath and said, "I'm not giving you two an ultimatum. I'm telling you what I believe would be best. You can tell me if you have a better idea."
Still they did not speak.
"I need to stay with you, Spock," she said, looking at the older Vulcan. Then she looked at the other man, the image of her mate, and knew at last that he was not hers. "And I need to be away from you, Tela'at. Not just somewhere else on the ship. Completely away." Her gaze settled on her clasped hands in her lap. "I don't know how that can be accomplished. But that's what I need. Maybe you can tell me how it can be done."
The younger man spoke up. "I will go, back to New Vulcan, perhaps live with my father. We are now contemporaries; he might welcome some company." His lips quirked at the corners.
"Perhaps we do need to conduct our researches separately at this time," murmured Spock. In his heart, though he was not able to acknowledge it, a feeling of vast relief washed over him.
Nyota's hands tightened. "Thank you," she whispered. "Thank you, both of you." This is why I love both of you, she thought, but in different ways. "I don't mean -- forever," she added anxiously. "Not forever. Please. Until -- "
"We may never be able to transfer back to our original forms, Nyota," said Tela'at gently. "It is more difficult for you to accept, I am sure, than for us. But you must consider it."
Those blasted tears sprang up in her eyes again. Hadn't she done enough crying? Where was her backbone? She buried her face in her hands and her shoulders shook with the effort not to break down.
Spock came over to kneel beside her chair. "Nyota," he whispered. "You have been strong. There is no shame, for you, to release your emotions."
"You need to let them out," said Tela'at, still gently, standing on the other side of her chair. "You are human, Nyota, beautifully human, and keeping emotions inside is as alien to you as letting them out is to us."
Tears seeped through her fingers and they heard her sob. The two men exchanged glances. Spock placed his fingers on Nyota's contact points and, after a moment, nodded to Tela'at and closed his eyes, focusing. Tela'at knelt beside her also and touched her contacts on the other side. She gasped but did not otherwise move.
Nyota, we are here
We are both
We are together
She could feel both of their minds, as waves lapping at the shore, a constant flow of comfort
Whether you need to control your feelings or let them out
We will help you
Help me, she thought, help me find some peace
Spock felt a thought
that was not his, and not Nyota's
not to forget, she must not forget
I forbid it
I will not do it, Spock Prime assured him, but he sent the other a thought of confusion, how is this happening?
Silence, and only the thoughts of the woman who sat between them, seemingly oblivious to their conversation, sending her love to both of their minds. Their minds received it and were stunned.
She is a conduit, thought Spock Prime. We are one, and together. All three of us.
We had not considered a -- human element.
Perhaps we should continue this discussion elsewhere, came Spock's ironic thought, and they both withdrew from the meld. Each of them took one of Nyota's hands as she opened her eyes and smiled damply at them. "Thank you," she said, then looked from one to the other, puzzled. "Did I miss something?"
"Nyota," said Spock, "we should have known all along that you were the answer."
Chapter 7: Possible outcomes
* Reminder: Tela'at is the older Vulcan in a younger body (picture ZQ). Spock is the younger Spock, the one bonded to Nyota, but in the older body (picture LN).
"A group meld? Are you both out of your Vulcan minds?"
All three of them had expected the explosion and waited for it to die down.
"The meld is the only way to accomplish the transfer of a katra. Yet we cannot meld with each other," Tela'at pointed out. "And we do not wish to test Nyota's endurance any further than necessary. We need at least one other mind."
"So, I'm a spare?"
"No," interrupted Nyota. "Spock Prime says that in his timeline, you have melded with his katra more than once. And both of them have melded with me. Just now, they were able to contact each other through melding with me simultaneously. Spock believes that our success at participating in a mind meld makes you and me the best candidates for this."
"Otherwise," said Spock, "neither I nor Tela'at would allow Nyota to attempt it."
She would have glared at him, but she knew it would be pointless. McCoy let out a short bark of a laugh at the thought of anyone not allowing Nyota to do something. He asked, "And you think that a group meld will do - what, exactly?"
"We are ninety-five per cent certain that, if there are other undamaged minds in the meld, they can serve as a safe conduit for our transfer, without compromising the 'conductive' minds."
"Once we four are in a meld together, our katras may be guided back to their rightful physical forms," added Tela'at.
"And if they don't? Am I stuck with one of you in my head?" McCoy managed to glare at both Vulcans at once.
"Believe me, doctor, the prospect does not fill me with delight either," Spock remarked, and the level of Tela'at's eyebrow indicated his endorsement of the statement.
The Vulcans meditated, individually, in Tela'at's quarters. When this was done, and they were waiting for the other two, Spock brought up the subject of possible outcomes.
"I have been considering various scenarios in which one, the other, or both of us die as a result of today's experiment and the effect it may have on my wife,"he explained.
Tela'at nodded, listening, and waited for him to continue.
"If we should both die, obviously she will not be alone. She has many friends, although I know her grief would be severe. If you should die, along with the younger body, she and I would be required to adapt in several ways to my living with this form, not the least of which is the change in – physical affections," Spock said, looking down at his cup of tea.
"There is also the question of whether the older body is still capable of procreation," Tela'at pointed out. "I have not had reason to consider the possibility for some time. It may matter a great deal to her."
"And if I should die, along with this body, you and she may need to decide whether to bond."
There was a brief silence. Then Tela'at stated, "I am not sure I follow your reasoning. Surely it would be more likely for her to choose someone she knows well and cares for, if she decides to bond at all."
"You know humans through long experience. I know Nyota," Spock pressed on. "I believe I can anticipate her possible reaction if confronted with one she knows and trusts, in a physical form with which she has been intimate."
"You believe she may choose to bond with me because of familiarity and physical attraction. There is insufficient data with which to form a hypothesis." Tela'at shook his head. "Where humans are concerned, this is usually the case. Where your Nyota is concerned, you can be sure I will act in her best interests. Have you ever doubted this?"
"No," admitted Spock. "But if it comes to that – I want you both to know – " He stood quickly and moved to look out the viewport, then said, "I understand and support any decision you both make in the matter."
It was not a very Vulcan attitude. Fortunately he was not speaking to a typical Vulcan. Tela'at rose and went to him, turning Spock to face him and laying his hand on his shoulder. "Of course," he said softly, "there is another alternative. We may both return to our bodies, and our lives, enriched by this experience, and you may well sleep in her arms again tonight, in your own body."
And I may yet die, he thought but did not say, but perhaps it is my time.
Chapter 8: All in this together
All in this together
Nyota and McCoy were seated facing each other, in the center of the room, holding each other's hands. Tela'at and Spock, respectively, stood behind them, hands on their shoulders. They had decided against direct physical contact with each other, wary of their previous experience.
Spock said softly in Vulcan, "I cherish thee, k'hat'n'dlawa. Whether both or neither of us survives, this will always be true."
Her eyes wide, she looked at him, then at Tela'at, who nodded.
"I cherish thee also, Nyota," he said gently. "In any timeline, in any universe."
"My mind to your mind," murmured Tela'at as his fingers found McCoy's contact points on both sides. "My thoughts...we are one, and together."
"One and together," whispered Spock, his old hands gentle on Nyota's face, and bowed his head as if listening.
Gradually, Nyota began to feel whispers of other minds in her own. Spock had taught her how to remain emotionally detached during a normal meld, but she could not help a twinge of apprehension. The whispers came closer.
I am here, k'diwa. We are one.
Nyota. You are safe.
then, unexpectedly, Hi, gorgeous. That would be McCoy.
Random thoughts and memories passed by as the two Vulcans concentrated on the four minds. Spock, hearing his mother singing a lullaby. Spock Prime, during his kahs-wan trial. McCoy, getting on the shuttle with Kirk. "I may throw up on you." Her own memory of being accepted to Starfleet Academy.
And things she could not interpret: Seeing inside someone's quarters, through eyes that were drunk and full of tears. Looking down at an older James Kirk, hanging limply from a leather strap around his neck. An older African woman seated at a bridge console, working and humming to herself. Herself, she realized with a shock, in Spock Prime's timeline.
Suddenly, even more clearly, she was in a turbolift. It was not moving and someone was holding her. It was herself – no – yes, it was, because this was Spock's memory, through his eyes, and the embrace was like water in a desert. He longed to fall into it; his head bowed on her shoulder; she whispered, "What do you need? Tell me...tell me." Her lips were warm on his; he leaned into her kiss even though the doors were about to open, lingering over the sweetness of her touch, to sustain him for now.
She could feel, in reality, the tears on her face.
Long minutes went by. Spock remained motionless, but his breathing deepened and at one point he groaned loudly, just once. Tela'at was still; his hand did not waver on McCoy's temple.
McCoy was sweating and rocking slightly. He rarely faced his own memories, let alone anyone else's; he told himself that once this was over he could forget it all and go get plastered. As the memories flowed through him, he was startled that he could focus on those of his companions and chose one at random: the Vulcan Science Academy, looking up at the aged faces and saying, "To what disadvantage do you refer?" Then it shifted to a view of Spock, his Spock, standing in this room, drinking tea and reading a padd, looking up at McCoy/Nyota with an expression of love and contentment. And now, he saw – Jim Kirk, older, and heard his own voice saying, "It seems, Jim, that I've got all his marbles."
Another hour. Then, as one, all four of them breathed deeply and Spock murmured something. Tela'at removed his hand from Nyota's face and sighed. Spock lay his hands on McCoy's shoulders, but his eyes remained closed. Nyota realized she was holding her breath.
The young man standing behind McCoy opened his eyes, looked at her, and there was triumph in his eyes as he said in Vulcan, "I am thy bondmate, Nyota Uhura."
She looked from him to the older man standing behind her, gazing at her with a look that was at once fond and amused. McCoy shook himself and wiped his brow.
"Well? Did it work?" He looked over at Nyota. "Can you tell which is yours?"
"Oh yes," she said. "They're both mine." And was gratified to see Spock Prime's mouth quirk and hear her mate's thought, yes, we are.
"You know what I mean," McCoy groused, but Spock, her own Spock in his own young body, was already moving. She met him halfway and he wrapped his arms tightly around her and actually kissed her, in front of the other two men, and not just a gentle, demure kiss either...
Spock recalled himself to reality and broke the kiss, still holding her and feeling that the cause had been sufficient. Her eyes were shining. McCoy was grinning and bouncing on his toes in a self-satisfied manner. Spock Prime --
The older Vulcan was standing a little apart, his expression one of satisfaction. Nyota went to him and took his hand.
"I am, and always shall be," he said, "your friend."
She threw her arms around him and felt him return the embrace.
Five days later
The small theater on the Enterprise was full. Spock didn't know whether that was good or bad, but his mate seemed content. More than content. She was indeed beaming as she sat beside him holding his hand.
"This means a great deal to you," said Spock. She turned the beam on him.
"It does," she said. "Thank you for finding a way to make it happen." She suspected that Spock Prime had nudged him, but was content to give Spock the credit for planning.
"You are most welcome. Spock Prime has consented to speak, then we will socialize with the guests. I believe the doctor has brought champagne. And then," he added, "since this is the equivalent of our wedding night, I believe there are other festivities to be observed privately."
She squeezed his hand. Spock Prime rose and stood before the guests, hands clasped before him as if in thought, and spoke.
"Welcome, to all who have come to witness this public declaration.
"You have come to recognize the bonding, the marriage, of two of your crewmates, Spock, son of Sarek, and Nyota Uhura. It is customary for an elder of the clan to speak on such an occasion; I am related to Spock in a rather unique way and thus have the right to speak.
"It may seem strange to hear a Vulcan speak of emotions. On such an occasion it is logical to do so, since the commitment of a lifetime requires an emotional as well as an intellectual element. You may be under the impression that Vulcans do not love, because among us love does not manifest itself in a way you recognize.
"Nyota has acknowledged it, has embraced it, has now committed her life to it. As many of you know, she is not one to give her loyalty or her love casually. Spock has not only committed to Nyota, but has done so in the face of resistance from his own people, and from many humans. This is indeed love."
He looked around the room. "If they have kept their secret from you so long, it is because this is a treasure they do not share lightly.
"In the Vulcan marriage ritual, the khal-i-farr, it is said: 'This is the Vulcan heart. This is the Vulcan soul.' This is also the human heart and soul. I ask now that you stand, Spock and Nyota."
They stood before him, facing each other, and spoke the formal phrases.
"Nyota Uhura, ko-telsu. Taluhk nash-veh k'dular." (Nyota Uhura, wife, I cherish thee.)
"Spock sa-fu Sarek Amanda, sa-telsu. Taluhk nash-veh k'dular." (Spock, son of Sarek, son of Amanda, husband, I cherish thee.)
"Komihn, whl'q'n -- Human and Vulcan," said Spock Prime. "Sa-telsu, ko-telsu – husband and wife. May you live long and prosper. Dif-tor heh smusma."
Spock and Nyota said together, "Sochya eh dif. Peace and long life."
As Nyota squeezed his hand again and began to turn to their guests, she felt her husband's arms go around her, lightly, and she turned to find his lips on hers, softly, briefly. When he drew away there were tears in her eyes. "K'hat'n'dlawa," she whispered.
The theatre experienced two point eight seconds of silence, then the guests began to applaud.
"Now," said Spock. "About those festivities."