Title: A House of Cedar
Summary: After fal-tor-pan, Spock undergoes relearning on Vulcan...and when certain things are not included, a disgraced Starfleet Admiral changes that.
Length: 14,907 words
A HOUSE OF CEDAR 3/3
link to part one
link to part two
T'Kuht's reflected light shone a ghostly pinkish-silver over barren, dark red sand as Spock stood meditating at the same cliff one month, nine days later. Much had happened in the intervening weeks since last he was here.
He and the crew of the Klingon vessel had undertaken an historic trip to Earth's past. Despite many problems, they had not only survived the journey--a surprise in and of itself--but had succeeded in bringing forward the very thing necessary to save an entire planet. A planet, as James Kirk had so forcefully pointed out to him, that was home to one-half of his own heritage.
"Haven't you got any goddamn feelings about that?" Kirk's words from the past rang clearly in Spock's memory. Kirk's words had compelled him to examine his crewmembers' behaviors during their journey, and tentatively, Spock had begun to comprehend, in a very small way, the reactions of the human heart.
His experiences during the journey had changed him. Not fully--his memories still remained elusive--but he had learned enough to have a rudimentary comprehension of the intangible elements still missing within himself.
Aboard the Enterprise-A, manning a science station filled with the newest technology available to Starfleet, Spock had basked in an extremely pleasant sensation, turning frequently to look at James Kirk sitting in the center seat. The view engendered a deep satisfaction. McCoy had said Spock was experiencing "happiness."
Examining the feeling, it had come as no surprise to Spock that humans spent a great deal of their life energy pursuing such a state. It was quite addictive. Therefore, since the probe crisis and the chaotic aftermath on Earth had passed, and the awaited conversation with James Kirk had been delayed long enough, Spock had decided it was time to vigorously pursue his own happiness.
But happiness and his captain had proven very elusive. Whenever Spock suggested a quiet dinner to Kirk, a shipboard problem had always intervened. McCoy had helpfully identified Spock's second, very disconcerting emotional state: impatience.
After seven days of the Enterprise-A malfunctioning piece by piece, Spock had decided his current level of understanding about the human feeling of impatience was more than adequate. He had pursued his happiness once more, this time with a bit more logical forethought. After surveying the list of necessary repairs, he determined the needed replacement parts and presented his commanding officer with a detailed, logical plan that had them utilizing Vulcan's small but efficient Starfleet repair station.
An odd, energized feeling now permeated his being. If he were available, Spock knew McCoy could attach a name to the unknown sensation, but Spock and Kirk had beamed down alone to the ShiKahr family compound. They had left Enterprise late in the delta shift and arrived as the sun, huge and red, rose over the horizon. The human had retired to his room to sleep, giving Spock time to carry out his plan.
Looking down at the ring in his hand, Spock drew a finger over the uneven surface of the stones. He and Kirk had reestablished a good working relationship during the probe crisis and on the new Enterprise.
With surprisingly little effort, Spock's working habits coordinated with his captain's quite easily, as if they had defaulted to a pre-set pattern....
As he thought about pre-set patterns, Spock realized that the concept pertained not just to the interaction between himself and Kirk, but also between himself and the rest of the crew. To the humans, he was an old shipmate and friend, a well-known quantity. During the intense demands of the probe crisis, everyone had fallen into what were obviously well-worn roles, and in their interactions with Spock had automatically assumed certain patterns of response from him, which in many instances, he had automatically fulfilled.
These patterns of action and response reminded him of a tape he had once viewed on Terran wolves. The wolf pack had acted as a coordinated team, each one knowing its place, fascinating in its ability to execute a shared action without a verbal language. Spock wondered at the mammalian vestiges within the human side of his brain that allowed him to "read" and respond to cooperation signals from the crew, and what more ancient tendencies in his reptilian brain--of aggression, competition, even sex--might thereby be aroused within him. Could such...aroused...abilities be bringing back a different order of memory from those the Vulcan teaching machines had been able to instill?
He wanted those memories; therefore, he needed to more fully awaken the ancient rhythms. Vuhlkansu psychology and brain organization had been bred and trained to the exact opposite goal for thousands of years after their passions had driven them to the brink of extinction. Spock suddenly understood the undercurrent that had infused all the information he had obtained about humans and Vulcan's interaction with them: ancient fear. From the earliest days of Vulcan-Terran relations, fear of the humans' unpredictability existed, fueled by racial memories of the disaster undisciplined emotions could wreak.
How had he succeeded in balancing such highly conflicting racial patterns existing within himself? Obviously, he had not accomplished this alone. The choice of a human mate could be viewed as a highly logical decision, helping to balance all of his Vuhlkansu patterning and creating an outlet for his human predispositions, however buried.
His human predisposition for impatience surfaced abruptly, and Spock turned back toward the house. The time had come to get James Kirk. The human deserved to be honored by all that Spock could humbly command within himself. The human had journeyed fully conscious through the past months, coping with a variety of experiences and feelings, the intimate, painful details about which Spock could only speculate. If Kirk did not understand the message Spock determined to communicate, it would not be for lack of Spock's effort.
Silence met Spock when he entered the house. He encountered neither his parents nor any servants as he climbed stairs to the second floor. T'Kuht illuminated his way down the guest wing corridor and crept up the old-fashioned door where Spock paused and knocked for admittance.
Kirk opened the door immediately, his hair tousled as if from running his hands repeatedly through it.
"Spock." He finished tying a long belt around the waist of his Vulcan robe. "I wondered where you'd hied off to."
Spock gave a brief nod. "My apologies for leaving you alone for so long, Captain. However, it was necessary for me to attend to certain things. If you recall, we have unfinished business, and I ask you now to please accompany me."
"Unfinished business? What...."
Kirk bit back the rest of his words, but he could not hide the feelings that played across his face. His darkened eyes recalled to Spock's mind Vulcan's large body of water, Masutra t'kusut--the Sea of Pain--during an intense atmospheric storm: a writhing, molten, intense wash of green-gold. Spock did not fail to recognize the many questions which were written in Kirk's tense stance.
"Jim." Spock hesitantly attempted to ease Kirk's worry. "Nothing is wrong. There is something which I wish very much to share with you. Will you accompany me?"
Kirk stood in the doorway, unmoving for a long minute as he examined Spock's face. Finally he nodded briefly. "All right," Kirk said abruptly. "Just let me change-"
"That will not be necessary," Spock interrupted. "Your robe shall be sufficient. It is, of course, still very warm outside." He caught what seemed to be hesitation in Kirk's expression. "Do not be concerned about the lack of formality. My parents have long since retired."
Kirk's brows rose as he eyed Spock. "Let me get my shoes."
Spock inclined his head and stepped forward into the room while Kirk moved to slide his feet into the kathera, a type of leisure sandal. Such a small detail, yet Spock noticed that the kathera were not new. The ikhartumun plant fiber from which they were woven was lightly frayed on the edges, and the soles had comfortable indentations from long wear. They fit Kirk's feet as if made for them; no doubt they had been.
As they exited the main house through a side door, Kirk shot a narrow look at Spock.
"A short distance further," Spock offered quietly.
Kirk nodded, but a frown remained on his face as he trailed behind on the path leading away from the imposing stone edifice.
As the heat of the day radiated up from the desert expanse beyond the estate, the evening breezes coming off the Forge quickened. The Sister's light illuminated the gardens to their left, making them appear oddly monochromatic as plants shimmied in the moving air. Sand and gravel along the path crunched softly under their feet, the swishing of their robes a faint counterpoint in rhythm.
A small, beige stone house appeared beyond a curve in the path, a long, low-slung, one-level building sprawled at the edge between civilization and desert. It seemed one with the rock formations surrounding it, a structure growing organically from the ground in a pleasing design, incorporating an enclosing patio and a sloping roof in ways to help catch the prevailing breezes and naturally cool the interior.
His family called it ShiAwek'es, the Place of Solitude. In the centuries since Spock's family had built the compound, it had been used by those wishing temporary retreat from society for a variety of reasons. It remained the traditional family retreat for bondmates during their Time.
With measured steps, Spock led the way up the stairs and across the covered patio, opened the door and ushered the silent human inside. Minimal lighting illuminated the main room, and Spock led Kirk through to a long, dim hallway. It was cool here, at the lower level of comfort for Vulcans, and Spock knew the temperature would feel welcome to human senses.
Spock turned left, leading them through an open doorway and into a large, asymmetrical room. He took in the handiwork accomplished earlier in the evening, pleased with the effect. The room shimmered with light from many small clay oil lamps grouped around the ancient corner shrine and scattered on other surfaces. Their yellow flames reflected in a mesmerizing way off the surface of water in the huge, private sunken bath in the corner to the right, edged with a green, striated marble. Walls paneled with thin sheets of polished, beaten copper further reflected the warm light, giving the area a rosy, golden glow. In the farthest area, tall windows draped in golden sark-tukh, native beetle-silk, overlooked the Forge, and a large sleeping area nested in front of them, piled with a deeper green-gold of the same material. The sheen from it added to the burnished, sensual fire of the room.
Spock turned back to the human standing behind him, giving him a small bow of acknowledgement. "I bid thee enter and be at peace, James Kirk, for what is mine is also yours."
Kirk took two faltering steps into the room and stuttered to a stop, a peculiar expression altering his features as he took in the room. "S-Spock?" Kirk whirled around, deep emotion shining naked on his face. "Have you...." He grasped Spock's forearm without thinking.
The contact channeled all the surging emotions Kirk felt right into Spock. So strong! So much! He recoiled automatically from the shock. "Captain, I...."
As Spock uttered the words, Kirk's expression froze, his eyes haunted. Aborting whatever he began to say, he gave the door a thump with his fist, turned and disappeared down the hall.
Spock stood rooted for some moments, unable to move. What had gone wrong? His carefully logical plan threatened to unravel before him.
Spock walked with undignified haste through the dim hallways. Nothing moved along the pathway back toward the main house, but a slight sound came from around the corner. T'Kuht shown brightly high over the Forge and spilled her light conveniently onto the scene as Spock rounded the far corner.
Kirk had not gone far. He stood at the edge of the patio, leaning against a stone support, his face obscured by deep shadows.
Spock suppressed an overt reaction as strong relief flooded through him. Even so, his limbs weakened and he slowed his approach. Walking up silently, he averted his gaze, respecting Kirk's privacy by looking away.
"I don't know how to deal with it." Kirk's soft words broke the shadowed silence.
Spock turned in puzzlement. "I am not certain to what you refer, Captain."
A puff of sound emerged from the human; Spock wondered if it was laughter.
"This. Us. Or the...not-us."
"I...do not understand. Jim."
At his added-on given name, a faint smile graced Kirk's lips before disappearing again. "No, I know you don't, Spock. I'm sorry." He sighed, pushed away from the stone balustrade and rubbed weary hands over his face and eyes. "I'm a mess of confusion for you, aren't I?"
Spock took a step closer to Kirk. "On the contrary. I have given thee offense in some way. My ignorance hinders me, and I would ask for an explanation so that I might bring all back into equilibrium between us."
A le'matya screamed in the distance, a lingering, lonely cry swallowed up by the silence.
"Yes," Kirk eventually murmured, "back into balance. That's what I've wanted."
"Then will you-"
"Spock, tell me one thing," Kirk interrupted.
Meeting the shadowed eyes, Spock inclined his head in agreement.
"Before...did you listen to the journal and open up the box?"
"Yes...." Kirk's mouth flattened as he drew a deep breath. "Do you remember anything, anything at all?"
Spock swallowed. "There are...pieces, images. Scenes I grasped. Other things I do not understand."
"Do you understand any of it?"
"I know some of the facts," Spock admitted. "I...looked up the official records."
Something fragile shimmered on Kirk's face. "Facts..." he said softly. "Yes. But Spock, what about the...the motivations, the feelings involved? Did anything survive at all?"
The question touched on uncertain areas, areas where Spock's grasp had proved to be far less than satisfactory, and an unsettling sensation returned to grip him. "Yes. Possibly." He bit his lip. "I am not certain."
Kirk only nodded briefly and turned away, staring back out over the Forge. "D'you know the first time I saw the copper room?" he asked in a vague, conversational manner, continuing on without waiting for an answer. "I dubbed it that because of the walls. Thirteen years ago I thought it was incredible; the flames reflected all over the room. Like tonight. Just like tonight."
Spock blinked, frozen with a sudden clarity. "I recreated the exact same setting."
Kirk nodded, not turning his head. "Exactly the same."
Deep inside Spock, the bedrock of his self-knowledge skittered and shifted, finally cracking. A wave of feeling rose from his gut and crashed into his objectivity and calm. He wanted to cry out at the same time he wanted to sink down into the chasm, into the midst of the storm.
He knew now without a doubt that everything he used to be, all the memories of his previous life experience, were accessible to him. They were present, inside of him, and as he had thought, triggered by the release of emotion.
His blood flowed more quickly with the knowledge. "They are all there." The words slipped out, urgent and full of wonder, a hot whisper on the cooling breeze.
The human whipped his head up, eyeing him sharply. "What's all there?"
Spock met Kirk's golden-brown stare. "I ask thee, James Kirk--I would meld with thee."
"Why, Spock?" Fierce-eyed, Kirk took a step closer to him. "Tell me why."
Spock lifted a hand and let his fingers trail down the side of Kirk's face in a hesitant, intimate gesture. "It is now clear to me that all my memories are intact, hidden within. I have need of thee, thee who has known my mind, to...to help me find the pathways of access."
"Is that the only reason?" Kirk asked, his gilded gaze boring into Spock with an almost physical sensation.
Flashes of memories pushed to the fore in Spock's mind: the ecstasy of touching this human's mind in intimacy, the indescribable sensation of delirious dissolution. The easy joy expressed by Kirk, smiles aimed his way, eyes dark and heavy with feeling.
Spock shook his head faintly, his voice barely a whisper. "No." Risking, Spock let a finger stray from the human's jaw over to the flat, dry curve of his mouth. "It is not the only reason," he asserted, knowing he exposed the deep, private Vulcan heart to this human, who had already carried it loyally for years. Spock could feel tremors in the cool skin beneath his finger, feel the thrumming of the human's heart as it beat more quickly, the waves of emotion rolling from Kirk.
"Spock...." Moisture glimmered in Kirk's eyes.
Spock held out his hand, palm up. "Jim. Come with me."
The words, like his hand, hung between them. Kirk searched Spock's face with an aching hesitancy lurking in his eyes.
"And if I do?"
Spock reached further and grasped Kirk's hand in his, squeezing in a reassuring manner. "Jim, all that I am, all that I ever will be, is yours. I believe nothing has changed that, and I begin to comprehend that nothing ever will."
A softening blurred the harsh edges of Kirk's face as emotion, bright and full, swept his wariness away. "Ah, Spock-" His voice caught. "Whatever you need, I'm here."
Spock stood in wonder as the human's complete capitulation washed over and through him. His mother had attempted to enlighten him about emotions, pointing out how he existed because of his "flawed, feeling friends," and at the time he could not comprehend the message. But her words came back to him now.
This was the essence of the relationship in his previous life: a balanced, quietly joyous giving and taking in a never-ending cycle. This was the essence of what humans called love.
Spock allowed the fullness of the human's trust and commitment to take root within him as he gazed at Kirk. "Come with me," he said again. With the human's hand clasped firmly in his own, he lead them back on the path.
Their passage into the room gently stirred the air, and the flames of many lamps flared and danced to the movement.
Spock turned to the human, Kirk's rich, unique, alien scent lingering in his senses. "The House of Sarek embraces thee, James Kirk. The water of sha'maat, my clan, is thine own."
"My sword and all I have is yours," Kirk answered.
Spock's eyebrow went up in surprise, and Kirk flashed him a faint grin. "We spent a lot of time with your family.... Knowledge of Vulcan tradition was usually my only edge. That, and the 'insider information' you fed me."
"Insider information?" Spock's face creased in puzzlement.
Kirk's gaze remained steady as his grin faded. "Through our bondlink."
Spock pictured the human moving among his extended family and clan, partaking in traditional gatherings. Knowing there must be many such memories waiting, he felt a thrum of energy quicken through him.
He wanted to experience the images, the words, all the unknown emotions attached to them. He wanted to know the intimacy they wove between him and this human. The glitter of reflected flames dazzled his eyes. An increasing internal fire of his own distracted him, its call a lure unknown, and yet-he knew it. His Vuhlkansu blood flowed strong in his veins for the first time since awakening from the fal tor pan.
With an uncompromising grip, Spock drew Kirk closer to the large bath. The surface of the water seemed alive, shimmering with reflected fire. The human's eyes appeared gold as he faced Spock.
"The ritual of water-of-the-womb," Spock murmured, removing his robe and kathera without removing his eyes from the human.
Without a word, Kirk followed suit. Naked, they stepped down into the warm water. Spock let his eyes roam over the alien form-not known, and yet somehow well known by him.
Well known.... Intent, Spock trailed a curious hand up the human's arm, feeling the sluggish pulse of red blood flowing beneath his fingers, then flattened his hand gently over the place where the human's heart beat, slow but strong.
"The ritual of sudef-masu is an ancient one, with origins in pre-Reform warrior castes from the area around Masutra t'kusut--"
"I'm familiar with it, Spock," Kirk interrupted him softly.
Yes, of course.
Spock gathered up a sandstone and oil from the ledge and began to pour it sparingly across the human's broad shoulders. He ran the theshau'kov in firm strokes across and down the cool skin, watching in fascination as red blood gathered under the skin's surface with each pass, turning Kirk's color a ruddy shade like the Forge in late afternoon. He took care not to exert too much pressure on the softer human skin, but was exacting in covering every square inch possible with oil, then scraping it off afterward.
The soft texture of skin over taut, hard muscles fascinated him. Such delicacy covering such enormous strength of will, now both his to know and explore. The words of the ancient ritual, recently recovered during his research, took on added dimension as he spoke them.
"Mind to mind, flesh to flesh, katra to katra, let no thing barrier between thee and me. As your body is cleansed, so now all mental boundaries are removed. Two submerge in the sudef-masu and emerge telsu, a bonded One."
Spock turned to lay down the stone, but Kirk's hand stayed him, taking the stone from his loose grasp.
"Not yet," Kirk murmured, taking up the flagon of oil. Its ceramic glaze glistened with a myriad of reflected hues as Spock watched Kirk step in front of him. "Turn around, t'hy'la."
Surprised by Kirk's use of the intimate name, Spock complied, and immediately sucked in his breath as the human's cool hands smoothed oil across his shoulders and down his back. He could not see Kirk, but could only feel the slow stroking of hands along his skin, the deliberate drag of the sandstone down his flanks. It sent ripples of sensation along his nerve endings, a cascading effect culminating in rippling tension. Willingly relinquishing his control to the human, Spock groaned deeply.
Kirk stepped in closer behind him, his arms reaching around to Spock's chest and stomach. Spock felt the solid length of the human pressing tightly along his back, a cool, damp sensation, while cautious hands slicked oil in slow strokes over his chest--oh! The sensation as Kirk brushed gentle fingers over sensitive skin caused another spasm to course unexpectedly through Spock. The tension within him spiraled higher.
Kirk leaned close. "Our mind is one, our flesh is one, our heart is one. Let no thing barrier between thee and me. Our bodies are cleansed, we release all boundaries. We enter the water-of-the-womb and emerge telsu." Kirk's words were spoken quietly, but in surprisingly good Vuhlkansu.
Spock felt Kirk's gentle push and stepped down further into the deepest center of the bath. Hands upon his shoulders urged him down; even as he began to sink into the water, he turned around to face his...his t'hy'la. That would be the end result: tel'ahkhaya, a warrior-bond.
The warm, faintly mineral-laden water closed over Spock's head. The environment was alien to him, a womb of endless, dark wet. He controlled his instinct to push back up past the surface and into dry air. Out of the watery chaos, two hands gripped his tightly; Earth's son was more comfortable with his water-spawned heritage than the desert-born son of Vulcan.
Spock placed Kirk's hands on his face and unerringly found the human's meld points. Dropping all barriers, Spock bridged the pathways between them, and immediately Kirk's waiting presence merged into his awareness.
Spock! Spock, t'hy'la ashaya, it's been so long!
Thee art t'hy'la, Jim. A surge of sudden heat suffused Spock. T'hy'la, t'nash-veh!
Joyous laughter echoed in their meld. Yes, Spock, yes! But I'll be a drowned one and not good for much if we don't surface soon--
They erupted from the bottom, water sheeting down and spilling over the marble edge. Even as Spock gasped for nearly-forgotten air, Kirk's choked laughter rang out in the room.
"You forgot the last time we did this that I can't hold my breath in this gravity and thin air as long as you."
Spock blinked water from his eyes. A blinding smile greeted his gaze.
Kirk laughed again, shaking the water from his hair in a move similar to a sehlat's during the rainy season. "Nice to know some things haven't changed, ashaya--"
When Vuhlkansu desire to do so, they can move extraordinarily fast, not unlike the le'matya on the hunt. Spock contemplated for .534 microns. Desire was present. The cause was sufficient.
Water fountained up around them, and Kirk gave a surprised yell. Before he could utter anything else, Spock found the meld points and pressed--
Jim. Now. Open to me. Let me in.
A variety of emotions bubbled up around Spock, before the inner vista coalesced and suddenly Jim stood there once again.
Ah, Spock, ashaya, I have missed you so damn much these long months, the cool-heat feel of you moving through my mind. Come, Spock, come and explore 'till your curious Vulcan heart's content.
The outstretched hand beckoned and Spock took it. Even as he wrapped his fingers around Kirk's, the scenery shifted and began to blur. They plunged down along twisting, winding pathways, odd and alien to him, very unlike the Masters' uncluttered and logical minds, yet not without their own order and symmetry. Colors and sounds, tastes and scents assaulted him, sensations slightly askew to his Vulcan perceptions. Emotions battered him, joy and pain, love and hatred, desire and loneliness, wide variations of feeling that he could not begin to control.
Jim, too much! I must slow down....
Sorry, Spock, sorry. Here, wait, wait...let me....
A calm began to solidify around them, all the swirling colors and sounds bombarding Spock fading to a soft glow. Out of the bright mist, solid gray walls and the faint mechanical sounds of endless machinery began to form, wavering, then firming to solidity. Spock stood at parade rest, watching as a very young Kirk materialized on the transporter pad, all gilt and glow, golden shirt, golden hair, golden eyes. The eyes latched onto his, inquiring, curious, mesmerizing and filled with humor. Permission to come aboard....
That faded to nothingness, then darker walls formed, a reddish glow, a warmer temperature. Incense wafted through the air, a soothing scent. The firepot flickered in the corner, a welcoming sight. A weary but faintly grinning Jim Kirk stood highlighted in the doorway. Can I come in, Spock? I could use a friendly face right about now. Maybe a game of chess, take my mind off things for a while....
...Brighter lights formed, a pristine room-sickbay-and Spock struggled with overwhelmingly dark emotions: grief, guilt. A horrible, endless, aching pain sliced though him, a continual threat to his composure. The other, the doctor, McCoy, grinned idiotically at him. A voice spoke behind him, and frantic emotion exploded throughout his awareness, breaking through all boundaries and barriers. JIM!!...
...A cooler room on Earth, rain pattering at the roof, the windows. A soft glow illuminated the endless wet, green vista, casting the room with an alien, faintly greenish light. Spock welcomed the cooler body curled next to him on the bed as they huddled under colorful quilts. He vacillated between ecstatic joy and a more temperate pleasure, too overwhelmed to chastise himself for his profligate human response. ...Happy, Spock?... He allowed the humor at such a question to show on his face. Thee are adequately pleasing to me, t'hy'la....
...A sterile room at Starfleet Command. He examined the dark carpeting under his feet, unable to look at the other's eyes, unwilling to acknowledge the pain. ...Why, Spock?......Because I must. Because to not do so, I risk permanent damage to myself......But why? After all this time?......As much as you might be able to forget, I am Vulcan. I am not human. I have forgotten it myself long enough. The human struggled for composure. Spock, I'm sorry...just...do what you have to. I'll be here. However long it takes. Even avoiding the wounded golden eyes could not keep the pain from leaching through his shields like acid. The need to depart crescendoed. Live long and prosper, Admiral....
...Emotions, dizzying and disconcerting, clamored within him, finally breaking through the rigid controls enacted by his tenure at Gol. He chuckled, and a familiar voice called his name.... Spock? He chuckled again. Oh, the freedom! I should have known... ...Spock? What should you have known?... He pulled himself back from the dark to see a cherished--beloved--face bending near to his own. Reaching out weakly, his own hand was enveloped within a cooler human one. Jim, this...this simple feeling...it's beyond V'ger's understanding.... He smiled at his t'hy'la, and joy suffused him when the human smiled back and gripped his hand even more closely in both of his....
...Bells and chanting. Warmth, feeling warm to the depths of his bones after the eternal coolness of human places. He looked to the gateway, and his Vuhlkansu pride swelled. His chosen one entered the shi' koon-ut-kal-if-fee like a prince. Immoderate humor swept through him; no doubt the weight of the voluminous hand-embroidered robes he wore tempered Jim's usual exuberance into a more Vuhlkansu stateliness. Yet he bore it well, as he had borne all the Vuhlkansu demands so far. Sarek and T'Pau had both bowed to the logic of it, and even complimented Spock on his unusual yet logical choice, one which brought honor to Vulcan and the clan.
He struck the gong with vigor, and it reverberated throughout his being, augmenting the pull he felt toward his chosen one. He scarcely heard the brief ritual lead by T'Pau, never taking his eyes off his t'hy'la. The fires within only smoldered, but they were gaining in strength. When it was time, he knelt and set his fingers, initiating a meld. Finally! Vaguely, he felt the physical and mental fingers of the clan Matron probing, heard her mental gasp and quick withdrawal, heard Jim's private chuckle. I think we shocked the hell out of her, Spock... ...Yes, t'hy'la, she knows I will soon take you here if we do not find privacy.... The flames shot higher, leaving Jim gasping. ...You are both the fire and the quenching, t'hy'la. Come, I have great need of thee....
Water lapped around his waist in an odd, dual nature, water both here and not here, of this time and not of this time. He stood between the present and the past, reliving in mind and body. "Come, t'hy'la, I have great need of thee...."
"Come on, Spock, there's no need to drown. Let's dry off out here...."
A hand urged him out of the bath. Spock's vision snapped back to the present, to the image of an older, darker-haired, stockier Kirk looking at him with concern. Vast memories pummeled through him, and he reeled.
"Spock!" The human bore his slumped weight, wrapping arms around his body. "Damn, try and help me here...."
Struggling, he stepped clumsily over the bath's edge, stumbling the few steps to the sleeping area. Kirk threw a huge towel down on the cushions, and he fell upon it, unable to move further while his mind whirled, attempting to grasp everything that flooded through him. The highlights stood out like glowing jewels in his mind, while all the rest played around them like background music swirling in mind-numbing cacophony.
Voices echoed through him, an aural kaleidoscope of the past. His father and mother, the clan, his teachers, both on Vulcan and on Terra at Starfleet Academy. Acquaintances and co-workers, his superiors and subordinates and fellow scientists, a great variety of species and cultures. All danced through his mind in a relentless rhythm, depositing their utterances regardless of consequence.
...His human elements have interfered with the normal process of maturation, but we believe there is a 67.824% chance he will eventually grow into a fully functional adult male despite being inferior in his progress at this time.... You are not a true Vulcan. I see no logic in your existence; therefore, I have no desire to share our school assignment with you. You must find someone else.... My son, I love you and want you to grow up content, and be happy with who you are.... A true Vulcan son would never defy his father's wishes in this way.... Speak up, Cadet Spock. If you disagree with your classmate's assessment of the problem, let me hear it!... The Senior Science Achievement Award goes to Ensign Spock, for outstanding contribution to science during his tenure at Starfleet Academy.... Listen, Lieutenant, I know the scuttlebutt is you're a walking brain on legs, and I plan on using every brain cell you've got and more. So welcome aboard the Enterprise for your first deep space posting.... Art thee Vulcan, or art thee Human?... Spock, you know my thoughts. This is what I want, you are what I want, all of you, the Vulcan and the human halves.... Don't leave me.... You have not attained Kolinahr; your truth lies elsewhere.... I have been and always shall be always shall be always shall be...yours....
A different voice penetrated the place of echoes. It wasn't an echo, it was alive, bursting with energy and fear. Spock drew away from the other voices and turned his attention to it.
"...Spock! You've got to control them, Spock, bring all the memories under control. Use the mind disciplines! Come on, Spock, I know you can do it. If you can't, I'll have to summon a healer."
Kirk's threat proved enough to draw Spock the rest of the way back to the present. "Given our situation, that would be most embarrassing for everyone involved," Spock said, his voice rusty as if he had not used it for a long time. He blinked, his eyesight blurred from dampness at his eyes.
"It's about time." Jim reached out with the edge of a towel and blotted the moisture away, allowing Spock to see clearly once more.
To see clearly once more.... "Jim." Spock reached up and feathered his touch over the cherished features. "Jim."
Kirk grinned down at him, his gaze still sharp with worry even as he teased. "Spock, Spock. Are you okay? You've been out of it for some time."
"I am better than 'okay,' t'hy'la. I am...mostly myself again. You have helped restore my memories. Jim, I remember."
"Spock...." Fear fled from Kirk's face, and he crumpled slightly as the truth began to sink in. "Really? You really remember everything?"
A small smile lifted Spock's mouth. "It is all there, Jim. Slightly confused at the moment; I shall have to meditate for long periods to reintegrate everything in a more logical and orderly fashion--"
"To hell with logic and order!" Jim burst out laughing. "All the logic and order of Vulcan couldn't reestablish your memories. Why? Because many of them have little to do with logic and order! They're messy, emotional and very human in nature. It took a messy, emotional human to go where no Vulcan dared go."
"That is true. Do you know why, t'hy'la?" Spock took in the glowing countenance of his mate, the sparkling eyes again filled with the light of life. He caressed once more down the side of Kirk's face, thrilling to the feather-like touch of their minds. This was his t'hy'la! In one swift, powerful motion, he pulled the human down beneath him on the bed, pinning him effortlessly with his greater strength.
Wide hazel eyes gazed up at him. "I don't know, but I have a feeling you're going to enlighten me."
Spock looked down at their bodies, pressed together intimately. "Yes. It is because Vulcans cannot afford to gain full awareness of their emotions, because they fear doing so may trigger a reversion back to their Vuhlkansu past." He nuzzled against the side of Kirk's face, breathing deeply of the human's scent. "We were once barbarians, without boundaries or limits on our emotions and actions." He mouthed along Kirk's neck and sucked in the tender skin, biting gently. He felt Kirk's groan deep in his chest. "The only thing that saved our race was the rejection of that nature, and the adoption of the ways of Surak."
Kirk gasped again, writhing delicately beneath Spock. "I...I know. Spock...."
"However," Spock continued, feasting upon the human flesh with mouth and hands, "I am both human and Vuhlkansu in blood and nature. I have come to understand that it is actually my human side which gives me the knowledge to restrain and temper an active Vuhlkansu passion."
"And the Vuhlkansu part of me is finding great satisfaction in partaking of this ancient ritual." Spock could feel the flame deep inside burning hotter. The smell, the sound, the feel of his t'hy'la called to every cell of him. Even as he licked, tasting the salt of Terra, he reached for the meld.
James tel'Spock, t'hy'la, ashaya, thee art the flame in my heart, thy life force is that which binds me into One.
Spock, you're never going anywhere without me. T'hy'la telsu...I don't know how I got through losing the other half of myself, and I damn well won't find out again.
Spock's uninhibited joy reverberated through their mind. I will be more than content to stand at your side in the future as you rearrange reality to your desires...but not yet, Jim. Right now, my ancient Vuhlkansu blood demands expression.
Kirk's joyous laughter joined Spock's. Have I ever told you how much I like the way you express your inner nature?
That is indeed fortunate, since once again you are irreversibly bound to me, and my nature takes a very great delight in yours.
Spock.... Kirk wrapped his arms around Spock tightly. You're really home now.
Yes, Jim, we are both home. He shifted, and the flames of possession shot high through the new link. He moved again, fitting himself much more intimately to the body beneath him. James Kirk, you are both my fire and its quenching. Come, t'hy'la, I have great need of thee....