K'shatrisu, Ha'kel T'du Wilat?

Chapter Eleven:

"Logic and practical information do not seem to apply here."

"You admit that?"

"To deny the facts would be illogical, Doctor."

-Spock and McCoy, TOS: "A Piece of the Action"

Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek.

Note: Any dialogue written in italics means it is in Vulcan. If it is just a single word in italics in a regular sentence, it is for emphasis only.

The last two days before the bonding ceremony was packed busy with moving my things to our new quarters, although I would worry about decorations after the bonding ceremony. When I was not busy with that or my shifts, I found myself memorizing my vows for the ceremony and making note of all the issues Vorik and I needed to address. When the morning of the day arrived, I found myself a jumble of nerves and terror. What had I gotten myself into?

Only a few of my items remained at my old quarters, which I would move after my time with Vorik was finished. It could take up to several days and we had both been granted leave. Many of the crew probably thought of it was our honey moon, although technically with the state Voyager was in, it should have been questionable that such a thing would be granted. Yet I had already finished my report on what little I had found on any species that used transporter technology like the ones who had robbed us, and Vorik was not the only engineer in Engineering. The morning of the bonding ceremony I first went to the Sickbay to receive my treatments, and too pick up the neural and bio monitor, and the hypospray with its extra treatments. The Doctor appeared to be going mad from being stuck in Sickbay, or at least he was desperate for ship gossip and about my upcoming wedding. I spared him some little details just so he would leave it be and also perhaps because a part of me wanted to chat about it.

Afterwards, I dropped off the medical equipment to my new quarters with Vorik and several other items. The quarters were still spartan when it came to decorations, but the furniture in the general living area had already been pushed aside for the ceremony. It was set-up with Vulcan candles and several cushions in the center of the room that Vorik and I would both kneel upon during the ceremony. Somehow a smaller bell, certainly Vulcan looking, had been procured along with a small portable fire container. The bell was placed behind the two cushions and the portable fire placed in front of it, so it was the closest to the entrance of the quarters. I placed the medical items in the bedroom for privacy. The simple bed was parallel with the entrance from the rest of the quarters and its head was leaned up against a small port window. One small nightside table sat to the beds right with nothing currently on it On the other side of the small bedroom was the entrance to the bathroom. A grey dresser, like the one in my old quarters, except larger was placed on the wall left of the entrance, opposite of the bed. A built in closet was designed into the wall of the bedroom on the entrance's right, parallel with the bed.

I sat the medical supplies on top of the dresser and opened the drawers of the closet and dresser. Most of my clothes were already there and I had already placed them on the left drawers of the dresser and the right side of the closet. First come, first serve, I had thought smugly. Vorik's own uniforms and civilian clothes were in the dresser, alongside with several traditional Vulcan garbs in the closet that I had briefly eyed in curiosity. On the times I had been on Vulcan, I had seen many in traditional dress and in San Francisco as well, for that was where the Vulcan Consulate on Earth was located. Yet I had only ever seen Vorik in uniform or in civilian clothing several times, but never traditional robes. I exited the bedroom, looking around the room again with apprehension. My appointment with Adele the previous day had helped, but I still could not prevent my nerves. Whether they were from excitement or just wedding jitters, or both, I was not entirely sure.

I walked across the room, noticing that Vorik had already laid claim to the right desk, which was faced towards the quarters' entrance. The pictures of my family were still back in my quarters, so I was surprised to notice a two frames on Vorik's desk. One was one of his parents and and himself and his brother as children. All four were dressed in traditional clothing and I picked up the frame of, marveling at seeing a picture of Vorik as a child. He and his brother were identical and looked to be about the equivalent age of a nine or ten year old human child. I had seen Vulcan children before and it was something about their ears that made them adorable, alongside their polite behavior. Though their stoicism could be disturbing for humans, many young Vulcans tended to slip up on their emotions at times, though this was not often with older children. Vorik and his brother, Taurik as I remembered, were mirror images of each other. I was embarrassed as I realized I could not tell the difference between the two, not that I was going to admit that to Vorik. Although I was definitely going to tease him for looking cute as a child, I thought, for it was fun to pester Vorik. His parents, T'Sara and Tybik, stood behind the twins with the same Vulcan looks of indifference. Unlike a photo of a human family, no one was touching each other with rigid postures, and they all had blank expressions. This was the first time I had seen a picture of his family, so I studied it with care and interest. His mother T'Sara looked to have given her sons her dark eyes, but her hair was a shade of brown. The black hair came from his father, Tybik, whose eyes looked to be a lighter shade of brown than his sons and wife. Vorik was not particularly tall for a Vulcan, so I was it did not surprise me that his father and mother were of an almost even height.

I set the picture down and picked up the other to look at it more closely. In this picture, Taurik and his brother stood side-by-side at the grounds at the Star Fleet Academy, with the Golden Gate Bridge in the distant background. Instantly, it reminded me of the picture of my brothers and I. Yet they both were in academy uniform, unlike mine for my brother Darey and I had been in civilian dress. A feeling of sadness and want filled me at the thought of my family. If only they could be here…some people still choose to have their father or parents walk them down the aisle to be given away, and I would have given anything for my parents to do that. That was how I felt in that moment, a twist of emotions knowing they would want me to be happy, shadowed by a great well of grief and anger at the unfairness of it all. I set the picture down and rubbed away unshed tears in annoyance.

The door to the quarters slid open loudly, causing me to look up and turn a little to the right startled. Vorik entered the quarters with his hands full as he carried a crate packed with items. He also carried several containers on both his sides hanging by straps from his shoulders. The door closed behind him as he immediately stopped, noticing my presence. "Is it not against human custom for me to see you before the ceremony?" Vorik asked as he moved to set the container down on the floor, followed next by his two other containers.

"And Vulcans don't have any similar traditions?" I inquired back teasingly, trying to hide my upset.

"I will have to give you several papers to read on the subject." Vorik answered me as he walked over towards me. I could not quite tell if he was serious or joking. He looked at me with keen eyes, glancing at the pictures and then back towards me.

"Nice photos." I commented with a genuine smile. "I hadn't seen any photos of your family before, or of you as a child…"

Vorik crossed his arms across his chest, giving me a quiet look of warning. "I can say the same about yours as well." He returned dispassionately with an inquiring tone beneath it.

I shrugged. "I was planning to bring them over with some other items after…" I glanced away embarrassed. "What are in those?" I asked, changing the subject and gestured towards the containers behind him.

"Some personal items, alongside with food and supplies for the next several days." Vorik informed me with a tone of distant professionalism as we both avoided the subject. "Did you pick up the medical supplies?"

"Yes." I answered him, somewhat managing to keep down a blush. Why was I so embarrassed about this? I had not been this way in the past about it with others. Was it because Vorik was a Vulcan or that I felt so strongly about him in my emotional and physical responses? Vorik stared at me with open interest, curious at my expression, and I envied his Vulcan mask. "Can we sit and talk?" I asked him next. "I've a few questions I've been wanting to ask, and well, the mess hall wasn't the place to talk about them last night."

"You were waiting for me to come here, weren't you?"

I grinned sheepishly as I walked the several feet away to sit in the chair opposite of Vorik's declared desk and turned it to face him. Vorik copied my movements to take a seat in his chair and turned it to face towards me with a few feet distancing us. He sat straight with his arms now settled onto his lap with palms flat, as I completely reclined into mine and absentmindedly played with a strand of hair for I did not usually wear it completely loose.

"I have never seen your hair down before." Vorik remarked, his eyes concentrated on my hand that played with my hair. Instantly I stopped, setting my hands onto my lap.

"I haven't styled it yet." I defended myself, for it had not yet been styled. In the material that Vorik had given me, I had read that Vulcan women had their hair up in elaborate styles for the bonding ceremony. Later this afternoon, Adele, Suzi, and Tal were going to help me get ready for the ceremony, and have a sort of unofficial bachelorette party. Suzi had informed me we would have a proper one before the wedding and when the ship's holodecks were back online. Naturally they would be doing my hair and get-up, and while it would not be in the Vulcan fashion, I was going to be respectful of the ceremonies traditions as best I could. For the human wedding, I would go less conservatively and in styles that I wanted. So as I replied to Vorik, it was with the thought that he assumed this is how I was going to wear my hair for the ceremony.

Vorik lifted an eyebrow as if he were wondering about my defensiveness. "It is…aesthetically compelling." He stated slowly and precariously, as if unsure how to express himself. "I did not mean to imply anything negative by my observation."

"Oh." I muttered in slight embarrassment. "Well, it will be up for the ceremony."

Vorik's eyebrow went back down as he tilted his head. "What did you want to discuss?"

I had a few questions rambling around in my head, some that could be discussed later and others more urgent, but I picked the easiest one that popped into my head. "How old are you?" I asked him directly. "I never asked and I know Vulcans don't usually discuss it with humans, but we are getting married so…" I knew Vorik was young based off of the way he had talked about things and that his was his first pon farr.

"I am forty-eight in Earth years." Vorik said as he moved to fold his arms across his chest, staring at my every facial movement. I knew he was older than me, so it did not overtly shock me that he was over twenty years old than me. It did not bother me for I was about to be in an inter-species marriage, so this was only one grain of sand stuck in our metaphorical socks.

"Well, okay, what about your family name? Will I take yours or keep mine?"

"Traditionally a Vulcan woman takes her mate's clan name." Vorik explained with his forehead barely creasing into a frown. "If we were back in the Alpha Quadrant, perhaps that would the case for us as well. On Voyager though, it would be too confusing for our crew mates to address you as Ensign Vork." His reasons reflected my own, with the fact that Vulcans usually used their given names instead of their family names, since theirs were too long and unpronounceable for most Federation species'. "You may take my family name if you wish, but it is best to keep using your family name on Voyager. I researched the traditions for humans. While many Earth cultures are similar, I found it to be increasingly common in the last three centuries for human women to keep their own family names, or for both mates to combine them."

I found myself pleased that Vorik was keeping his promise of finding a middle ground or respecting our cultural differences and traditions. "I need to think about that." I admitted. Vorik dipped his head in a silent response. I looked away, concentrating on the blank wall behind Vorik, as I pondered at my next question. "I have several….intimate questions," I began precariously, out of concern for Vorik and for myself. It was not usually this awkward for me, but everything with Vorik appeared to be difficult. "Have you been…."

"Iris, we are about to become a bonded pair." Vorik interrupted me gently. "Do not be afraid to ask me anything for we should be able to discuss our issues. It is only logical. Please do not hesitate or not do so because of your concern for my own comfort. There are still many things we need to discuss or figure out in the near future." I looked back at his dark gaze, witnessing an unspoken testament of reassurance.

"You're right." I agreed with sigh. "So, have you...?"

"You will need to specific in your inquiry."

I stopped almost aghast, before I looked over at him, realizing that he knew what I was about to ask. He was being humorous. Well, two can play that game. As a freshman cadet, there had been several favored euphemisms that I was betting Vorik might know, which is a feat most Vulcans probably could not claim. "Docking the landing bay?" I returned with a straight face. Vorik looked at me without response. "Firing your phaser?" The last one was an overused one, but it still was popular for a reason. "The off-duty horizontal?"

There was silence before Vorik responded dryly. "These are all human euphemisms for engaging in sexual intercourse."

"Yes." I replied cheerily, though he had not been asking a question. "So, have you?"

"Do you know how different our peoples' ethical codes and practices are about this subject?" Vorik started in a semi-rhetorical question and I nodded in response. He looked at me indifferently, but with a studying eye. "Based off my preliminary research and experience with humans, our cultural norms on separation and physical intimacy are significantly differential."

"I have." I volunteered bluntly, for I was willing to take the first leap. I looked him straight in the eye as I spoke. "It's normal for humans." This was something I really did not know anything about for Vulcans. For they kept such private information, past or present, restricted from outsiders. Vorik looked at me with an expectant face as if he were trying to remain aloof from the situation with extreme difficulty. Somehow I barely managed to keep back a harsh laugh…was he embarrassed? How could he be? This was normal behavior for a human, but he is Vulcan. Considering their culture and his unbonded status, I would not be to shocked if he had not engaged in sex before….

Was he worried that I was judging him by human standards? Part of me wondered then if he was doing the same for me by Vulcan ethics. I felt guilt at my visibly pushed back laughter and had seen Vorik's face tighten minutely when I had. I now gave him a look of support. "I'll admit I'm somewhat surprised," I told him. "It's not something I would have been allowed to read in the Vulcan database, but it makes sense with your culture. I'm not judging you by human standards, as I trust you not to judge me by Vulcan ones."

"Indeed." Vorik replied in a stiff manner. I opened my mouth to snap at him in ire, before Vorik lifted one hand in a gesture of silence, and then refolded his arms. "For Vulcans, your case would be unusual. It would have been naïvely foolish for me to think otherwise because you are human, consequently I was not."

I relaxed at his explanation, taking no offense to what was an academic and honest observation. This made me unable resist my academic mind. "Is that normal, by the way?" I queried with open interest. "Do all Vulcans wait, until….?"

"No, not all." Vorik answered me with a mix of the eyebrow raise and a frown. "Although that is uncommon, but there have been times before a pair is completely bonded, or when they prefer someone other than their intended mate."

"You mean cheating?" I fired next with my jaw almost dropping open.

"Since they are only considered engaged and not completely bonded, it would not technically be termed as thus." Vorik returned with almost ruffled feathers as if he were defending his people's honor. "If bonded, a Vulcan would end it first before seeking another partner."

"Always?" I pressed, seeing Vorik look uncomfortable at the idea.

"I do not know." He replied shortly as he looked at me with restrained irritation and that soft look in his eyes. "I have not read any studies on that line of inquiry nor do I believe that there is any."

"What a pity." I murmured in false sadness. Vorik gave me that eyebrow raise that told me he knew I was playing with him.

"May I ask you a question about your previous relationships of non-platonic nature?" Vorik asked me next, and while sounding indifferent in his formality, he looked extremely uncomfortable. I nodded in consent. "Have you ever been in what humans consider a serious romantic relationship before?"

"I dated a few people, but they were never very physically intimate or serious." I answered him, noticing that Vorik almost appeared to relax until my next statement. "Except for once, during my second year at the academy. His name is Barim. He was a the same year as me, but a counseling major."

Vorik's expression remain unchanged as he asked his next question. "Did you think yourself to be…in love with this person?"

"In my own way," I said quietly, looking away as I thought of Barim. "I ended it before I would let myself though." I looked back towards Vorik."Your previous fiancee, were you arranged to marry her since you were a child? Were you…close with her?"

Vorik raised an eyebrow and then replied distantly, as if he were lost in old memories as I had been seconds ago. "Our parents had us go through the initial bonding ceremony at the age of seven, which is basically an engagement. The bonding would have been completed with the full-bonding ceremony and what follows after."

"What's her name? Were you close? I know the bonding includes a mental connection, so can you still sense her or whatever?" I rushed out in a jargon of questions: some because of my natural inquisitiveness, a shade of jealousy, and concern for Vorik's loss. We all had loved ones now lost to us in the Alpha Quadrant.

"Her name is Selmar." Vorik relayed in a hushed tone with his dark eyes becoming more remote. His voice next took a lecturing tone that I was now very familiar with. "It depends on the parents for sometimes the arranged children do not see each other again until the males' time has come upon him, or in other cases, time spent together is encouraged. My parents were of the latter, although not too much time was spent together as we grew up, for too much time in those years can make it into a familial relationship."

He paused and his tone took that softer tone as he spoke again of Selmar. "She is pursuing a career in diplomacy and was serving as an aide for a Federation ambassador." Vorik's eyes flickered over to me before resuming their far-off gaze. "I have not seen her for many years, but we kept in contact through messages and our bond. We were close, Iris, and I believe we were suitable for each other. The distance between us and the Alpha Quadrant is too vast, so I have not sensed her or my family since our arrival here." The far-off look in his gaze was cold and hard. "Since she nor my family can feel me through our bonds, they will have assumed that I am deceased. She has most likely moved on and found someone else."

I had thought that I might be jealous of this unknown rival, even though it is petty, but that is part of being human. In some ways I was, yet I was also pained for Vorik and his loss. No one was to be blamed here and I even empathized with Selmar as well, wondering if she had gone what June had after my brother Jason had died. "I….thank you for telling me." I acknowledged tenderly, giving him a look of comfort. A pause came over me as I thought of the right words to say, but the only ones that came to me were a Vulcan phrase and perhaps the most apt for the situation. "I grieve with thee."

Vorik looked at me with what I could almost describe as one of shocked gratitude that ended with the familiar warmth lighting up in his eyes once more. "Iris, I-"

The beeping sound of my comm badge went off, interrupting whatever Vorik was about to say. I pressed it irritated, but having a fairly good idea of who it would be. "Iris? Where are you?" Suzi's voice demanded with repressed agitation. "You were supposed to meet us at your quarters ten minutes ago."

"On my way." I said swiftly and rose to my feet. "Sorry. I got caught up in a conversation with Vorik."

"What?" Suzi cried appalled, her voice trailing up high at the end. "That's bad luck. Get out of there now! Vorik, forget what you've seen. In fact, go to sickbay and-"

"See you soon." I managed to cut in and pressed my comm badge. Vorik appeared almost amused as I looked over at him. "I….well, is there anything else that needs to be done here?"

"Nothing that I cannot address." Vorik informed me as he stood to join me. "As you know, I shall be spending the afternoon with the guests I invited to the ceremony. Crewman Okira insisted on a bachelor party, and I will spend the morning hours in meditation to prepare."

I laughed at that. He had informed me the night before with the same reaction, but something told me that he was actually looking forward to it. "Same here with my bachelorette party." I said, stepping past him to cross the room. "But you already knew that." Vorik reached out as I passed him with his left hand, touching my left shoulder to stop me from passing him. As soon as he touched me, he released his grip as I turned around to face him. Silently, he held his right hand out to me in the ozh'esta, which I returned in a delighted surprise. As before, Vorik's mind did not enter mine or at least I could not sense it, but was followed by that warm tingling that had morphed into a hot electric buzz. Vorik's light finger touch almost seemed to burn compared to the last time we had touched. As we both lowered our hands, the look in his eyes made me suck in a breath. It was the same as before, yet the symptoms felt ten times more powerful. Mars, ceremony be damned, for I wanted to…

"Soon, t'hy'la." Vorik vowed as he returned my intense ogling of him.

I let out a breath. "Soon." I agreed and quickly left our new quarters.

On my return to my old quarters, I was ambushed by Adele, Suzi, and Tal to prepare for the ceremony and have a mini "bachelorette" party. The Delaney twins were both on a work shift and had been invited to the second ceremony only. We spent the afternoon eating food and drinking synthehol with much laughter and sharing of stories. Naturally, it was towards the end of our time together that I underwent the beauty torture. To be completely honest though, I liked those sorts of things on occasion. The outfit I had chosen from my clothes and those offered to me by Suzi,who was about my size, had been selected with Vulcan tradition in mind and my beauty delegation. Purple was a common traditional wedding color for Vulcan brides and Suzi had a dark purple dress that was appropriate with its formal cut and lines. It was close-fitting, elegant, and a complimentary color on me. My hair was styled in a simple twist that kept it up and make-up was lightly applied. Although I enjoyed the afternoon and the teasing, a part of me wondered what it would be like if was back in the Alpha Quadrant with my old friends and family. Would any of my childhood friends had been there with me as my friends were here now? What would my mother have said to me on this day? Such thoughts lingered in the background, but nevertheless I had a great time. There was one moment of melancholy that afternoon that surprisingly was not from me and not from someone I expected it from.

Suzi had excused herself and I had assumed her to be using the facilities. I had walked into my bedroom to change my clothes and was startled to see her sitting on my bed with a tear-stained face. She immediately stood and looked mortified as I entered the room. "Iris..." She said self-consciously as she wiped away any evidence of her state. "I'm sorry. I just needed a moment to myself."

I looked at her carefully, noticing her uncomfortable look of guilt at being caught looking unhappy at what was supposed to be my day of celebration. Clearly, she had intended to have a private moment for whatever was causing her upset and then return to the festivities with a smile. I had accidentally intruded and knew she did not mean for this to happen. I went over to the bed and placed my hand on her shoulder comfortingly. "I know you think that being upset today would appear to be ill-mannered, but we are friends, Suzi." I told her honestly with a look of fondness. "Please share with me what's wrong. Maybe it'll make you feel better."

Suzi let out a small laugh at that. "Like you have been doing with Adele?" She asked rhetorically. She was one of the very few who knew about my sessions with Adele, although not what happened in them. Her response reminded me much of myself, for instead of wanting to share, she would deflect with humor or sarcasm. We were much alike in that manner, but Suzi always appeared to strong and level-headed to me. I had always admired and envied her for that.

"No." I replied. "Because we are friends and I want to help you feel better. But we don't have to, if you don't want to."

"I shouldn't." Suzi replied, shifting to look at me apprehensively. "Not on your wedding day. It's selfish of me. I just need a minute and I'll be fine."

I eyed her questioningly and she let out a heavy breath. "Do you remember my boyfriend?"

I sat down on my bed and Suzi returned to her former spot. "Subru?" I stumbled out, trying to remember his nickname. She had only spoken of him a handful of times, as like with the rest of crew, it was a painful subject.

A brief look of half-remembered amusement of memory settled onto Suzi's face. "Subra." She corrected me. The only information I knew about her boyfriend was that like us he was in Star Fleet, an officer in the sciences, and had been named for a famous 20th century scientist of mutual Indian descent. They had met while both serving on the USS Rutledge and had been together for several years when we ended up on the other side of the galaxy.

"You should try to pronounce Vorik's family name." I joked, recalling Adele's difficulty in pronouncing Subra's full name the one-time Suzi had told us. Due to my linguistic background, I had not had as much difficulty.

Suzi made a noise somewhere between a laugh and snort of derision. "I should be the one taking your mind off things."

"You are." I answered her warmly. "So please, tell me what's on your mind."

Suzi gave me a look of doubt before she began. "You're also one of my closest friends and the first to get married on Voyager and I know more will be, considering how long it will take to get home.….Subra and I were engaged, and our wedding was set towards the end of May, less than a year from when we were taken by the Caretaker." We were heading towards the end of May currently, so I looked at her with sympathy and understanding. She had volunteered to be the wedding planner, knowing it would coincide, and had kept up a positive facade the whole time. "I am happy for you…" She admitted next quietly. "And I am also jealous. This is bringing it all back."

Just as her presence on board had brought all the pain to the surface for me, so was my wedding doing for Suzi. I pulled Suzi in for a hug, which she returned after a moment. "It's okay. Don't feel guilty about your feelings."

Suzi let out a half-sob and laugh as she pulled away from me. "Don't worry. You won't lose your wedding planner." I responded with my own weak chuckle. Suzi stood and noticed her dress that I had set next to me on the bed. "I'll leave you to change." She said, starting for the doorway.

"You're a good friend." I called out to her.

She turned slightly to look at me with a pained, and yet contrarily happy, smile on her face. "So are you."

Not soon enough, and somehow too soon, the time came for us to depart from my old quarters to my new ones for the bonding ceremony. I had asked Adele to basically be my maid-of-honor, which is an old Earth custom. Vulcans had similar ones for it and for the best man. Vorik had told me earlier that week that he had asked Lieutenant Torres to fulfill that role. I knew them to be close, so perhaps it should not have somewhat taken me aback. I left my quarters with my friends in a bundle of nerves, excitement, and a partial desire to be teleported elsewhere. Did all beings to be married feel this way, I wondered, although I knew that this is what I wanted.

The door to quarters slid open, revealing the room much as I had left it this morning, except for its current occupants. Lieutenant-Commander Tuvok was dressed in formal Vulcan robes and stood behind the kneeling cushions. The only light was the now lit portable fire and a few candles in the room, casting dancing shadows amongst the figures present. Vorik stood to my right across the room with his wedding party behind him. His wedding party consisted of Lieutenant Torres, Ensign Oliver, and Crewmen Dalby and Okira, who were all dressed in formal Star Fleet uniforms. I observed with interest that my wedding party had chosen to dress in formal dresses, adhering to Vulcan custom as best they could, except for Lieutenant Torres. She was the only woman present to be wearing her formal Star Fleet uniform, which truly demonstrated her character about eschewing outdated and stereotypical gender expectations that somehow sometimes persisted in some customs.

My gaze finally settled on Vorik, who stood to the left of Lieutenant-Commander Tuvok before the left kneeling cushion. He was also dressed in formal Vulcan wear, except Lieutenant-Commander Tuvok's were in brown and red hues. Vorik's outer robe was of a very dark purple and the clothes underneath of even darker shades of purple mixed with black. He looked every minuscule a proper and grandeur looking Vulcan and I had never looked so striking to me before. Vorik's expression was indifferent, but his gaze was intense as our eyes met. He held a small gong mallet and moved to strike the small gong, its sound reverberated through the shadowed room. I knew that usually the wedding gong was much larger from the reading material Vorik had given me and our bonding ceremony was not entirely following tradition.

My whole body seemed to tremble from hearing the reverberation of the gong, even though that was not physically apparent. I approached the other side of Lieutenant-Commander Tuvok, as the rest of my wedding party stood behind me as Vorik's were positioned behind him. "Kneel." Lieutenant-Commander Tuvok commanded formally. Vorik and I both settled onto the cushions, face-to-face across from each other by a foot or two. Lieutenant-Commander Tuvok spoke next part both in Basic and Vulcan, which is not traditional, but for the benefit of everyone present. This part described how this was a tradition coming from their forefathers and an ancient tradition of the Vulcan people. I found myself only half-listening as my heart beat rapidly and I stared back at Vorik. I gave him a quick hint of a smile, opting to try to keep up with the Vulcan manner. I would smile all I wanted at our wedding. Vorik's face was calm, yet his gaze had only darkened with its fierceness, but I had noted a momentary softness. "This is the Vulcan heart. This is the Vulcan soul. This is our way," Lieutenant-Commander Tuvok continued placidly, and yet he sounded deep and wise in that moment. It was a moment of ancient solemnity and contrasting strength of emotion.

I knew this to be an end to this part of the ceremony and now for the exchanging of the vows. Vorik's intensive gaze had been on me the whole time and I had returned it wholeheartedly, consumed by the words and feelings imbued by the ceremony. Vorik stretched out his arm towards me, his hand forming the ozh'esta, which I returned with a steady hand. We next exchanged our short vows in Vulcan, not caring to repeat them again in Basic. Following this, we both closed our eyes as I had learned we would for this part of the ceremony.

Although I knew to expect it, I almost jumped at the warm sensation of Lieutenant-Commander Tuvok fingers touching my forehead. "Mind to mind, thoughts to thoughts. Together, you are one." He announced. I realized after a second that he had not spoken the statement out loud, but in my mind.

It was then that I felt Lieutenant-Commander Tuvok's presence gently opening my mind and tying it to the familiar presence of Vorik, yet Lieutenant-Commander Tuvok's mind felt infinitely stronger and with a hint of fierceness to it that put me on edge. Somehow, I knew instinctively that he was not reading my mind, but just gently feeling it out to collect its entirety to form the mating bond. I did not have any mental discipline, it would take time for me to learn, and how to use our bonding link as Vorik had described it. So, while I felt the presence of Lieutenant-Commander Tuvok as he made the bond, I could not feel Vorik. I only felt a light humming sensation that felt like it was background static in my head. Lieutenant-Commander Tuvok's powerful presence pulled away and it was than that I felt Vorik reach out through the bond. It was then that that I sensed his presence: a warm sensation, haunted by that black void behind it. His mind was powerful compared to mine, but much weaker and less terrifying with how alien it felt when compared to Lieutenant-Commander Tuvok's.

I opened my eyes alarmed as I heard Vorik speak in my mind for the very first time. His gaze met mine, vibrant and eager, underneath his calm exterior.


A/N: First of all, I want to give credit to the fanfic "Meeting the Ambassador" by lecreattiflufu, (chapter 79), which helped me to write the Vulcan wedding ceremony and also her cliff-hanger. I borrowed a line from her version of the ceremony.

It's been a very long time and for good reasons pertaining to my private life. I will say I am back in the states after an amazing last two years in China. My goal now that I am back is to be the better and consistent writer I know I can be. I will finish this story, dear readers. Thank you for reading and please review.

On another note, I have never had an MA rating on Fanfiction or written an explicit sex scene (just leading up to one). I am going to do a poll on what you readers prefer. It's on my profile. Please go vote. This will decide what's in the next chapter and if the story's rating is going to change.