"This scandal has brought shame upon our House and Clan." T'Pau said dispassionately. She sat straight backed and regal in her nacre and gold embellished armchair, a cup of translucent sele'ji ware cradled in the curve of her left hand.

Spock, cross-legged on a low bench on the other side of the tea table bowed his head. "I deeply regret -"

T'Pau cut him off. "The fault does not lie entirely with you, Nephew, nor with T'Pring either. I officiated at your bonding, I sensed the lack of sympathy between you but did nothing." a faint sigh escaped the matriarch. "As First Lady of our House and an Elder Mother of our Clan I had the right to annul the bond even against your father and mother's wishes. I should have done so but did not. I was swayed by expediency and this is the result."

Spock took a sip of tea as he fought down a surge of emotion. For T'Pau to accept even part of the blame for this fiasco was a magnanimity he did not deserve.

She continued: "You and I, T'Pring, her parents and yours all rightfully share in the shame of what has happened. However I deeply regret your t'hy'la James Kirk was drawn into the affair. I rejoice in his survival."

"As do I." said Spock, not quite managing to keep the emotion from his voice.

T'Pau pretended not to notice. "You chose your brother-friends well, Nephew, they are not only loyal but clever. Our House gains honor through such affines."

Spock almost blinked. Not only had his Elder Aunt taken to herself blame for the scandal he had brought upon their House but now she had reversed herself and accepted Kirk and McCoy into the traditional bond of 'brother-friends' not only to Spock himself but to the whole House of Surak.

"We will not speak of this matter again." T'Pau took a final sip from her cup then laid it delicately down on the tray.

Spock placed his own beside it, rose, bowed and withdrew. T'Pau's apartments opened onto a court whose central terrace was landscaped into a sand garden of unusual complexity, said to have been designed by Surak himself for his First Wife. Spock's youngest sister sat in meditation posture on one of the seats of contemplation. She rose and came towards him.

T'Jess bore a striking resemblance to Amanda, her blood aunt as well as adoptive mother, with the same delicate features and level blue eyes. Her brown hair fell in flowing ringlets down her back and the winged circlet of a priestess rested upon her brow. Her simple dark gown was adorned with the scarlet stole and broad green and gold sash of a Servant of T'Hat, the Vulcan goddess of birth, passion and the life force.

"I must speak with you, Brother, walk with me."

He followed her, a little reluctantly, into the high walled network of passages running between the courts that made up the Homeplace of Surak. He needed time alone for meditation, to set his mind in order after the soul shaking events of these last days, but to refuse his sister's request would have been discourteous in the extreme.

After several minutes they entered the garden of the maze. T'Jess led him beneath the tiled gate into a stone hedged passage shaded by the interwoven boughs of trees. After two turns she stopped and gently touched one of the stone slabs. It turned on a hidden pivot and they passed through into a grassy clearing all but filled by a small lake planted with water reeds and lilies. Stepping stones led to a tiny open pavilion in its center, furnished with two low benches facing each other across a round table carved of pale chalcedony.

They seated themselves and T'Jess fixed him with a piercing blue gaze. "Your condition has been ameliorated but not resolved -" she began.

"It is not fitting we discuss such things!" Spock interrupted in acute embarrassment.

"I speak not as your sister but as a Priestess of T'Hat." she answered crisply. "As such the proper control of our unfortunate sexuality is my chief function. Now then, Brother, the madness has passed but the need has not. You must fulfill yourself. Have you a lover on the Enterprise?"

"Certainly not!"

Her eyebrows rose. "Indeed. That surprises me. I assumed you would prefer a fellow officer to such women as can be found in pleasure houses -"

Once again Spock interrupted. "Fraternization with a fellow officer would be most improper. Or with pleasure women. I was bonded."

"But not mated." T'Jess pointed out. "Naturally we assumed -" she broke off. "Spock! don't tell me you've been living celibate all these years?" the green rising in his face was all the answer she needed. "Are you mad, Brother, or merely self destructive?"

"The urges were manageable." me muttered, nearly inarticulate with embarrassment. "I thought - my human ancestry -"

"Humans are not asexual, Brother." his fully human sister interrupted acidly. "Granted we can live celibate but not easily. And biologically you are more Vulcan than human. You have been dangerously stupid, Spock, I will not allow you to continue to be so. You will not leave Vulcan until you have fulfilled yourself and your passions are back under control." he opened his mouth to protest and she cut him off. "My decision is not negotiable and do not think I cannot enforce it. Aunt T'Pau can and will prevent the Enterprise from leaving until I say you are ready to go!"

Spock swallowed hard and bowed his head struggling for control.

"His sister continued. "Marriage would be the ideal solution. Despite your appalling treatment of T'Pring and our current scandal there are many suitable women who would be glad to accept you as bondmate."

"No!" her eyebrows rose and he forced his voice under control. "My commitment to Starfleet makes it impossible for me to remain on Vulcan with a bondmate, nor could I take her aboard ship with me."

"Very well. In that case a temporary companion is indicated. I will have one of our unbonded kinsmen introduce you."

"That will not be necessary." Spock said hastily, unwilling to involve yet another person in his very private affairs.

"Of course it is." T'Jess said crisply. "You know perfectly well the better houses of assignation require new patrons to be introduced by old. Or do you prefer a common streetwalker?"

Spock blushed emerald. "Sister!"

"I thought not." she said calmly. "I will ask Sirak if he knows of a suitable place."

Spock retreated gratefully to the privacy of his quarters, the red pavilion in the Court of the Eighth Son. Passing between the bright red pillars of the veranda he entered the small, bare anteroom and pushed aside the crimson drape screening the door to the library. The walls were covered with pleated hangings in the same rich color. Center table, writing desk, arm chairs, couch and book racks were all lacquered a brilliant vermilion. Light flooded the room from the high, copper grilled clerestory and an alcove held a statue of Shanyel god of death and the dead, Spock's chosen patron, rough hewn from volcanic rock. Spock lit the small fire pot at the god's feet and sprinkled powdered incense on the coals.

His already intolerable inner turmoil had been substantially increased by his conversation with T'Jess. Folded down on the stone meditation slab, gazing up into the red eyes of the god Spock admitted to himself that that rather proved her point. No doubt his annoyingly uncontrollable emotions were directly due to his unfulfilled state. Yet he found himself dreading the necessary remedy with a totally irrational intensity.

It had been a mistake to delay his sexual initiation so many years, logically as well as emotionally, but he could not bring himself to mate with T'Pring and mating with another would have been unethical - though now he wished he had been less ethical and more expedient. The dissonance between them had made the thought of embracing his bondmate unacceptable to him but mating with a stranger, a woman paid for the service, seemed no less repugnant.

Other men did so, he reminded himself, even the most honorable. It was logical to take advantage of so necessary a service, and logical to provide it. His revulsion was illogical and no doubt a symptom of his abnormal condition. He would be calm and rational again once it was done - but oh, how he wished it was over and safely past!

As an unmarried daughter of the House T'Jess occupied an apartment in the Bower Court. She entered a small, exquisite furnished sitting room to curl up meditatively among the embroidered silk cushions adorning the a broad couch of dark, reddish ese-roh wood. A pair of delicately carved armchairs of the same wood faced each other across a tea table, its round top inset with a slab of fine etched green jadeite. A smaller table by the couch was decorated with gilt fretwork Scented smoke curled up from the antique bronze burner on a tall green-stone altar table against the opposite wall, wreathing a scroll painting of T'Hat in her green and scarlet regalia, flanked by her two le-matya and surrounded by a cloud of birds.

T'Jess' eyes focused on the serene, painted face. She sighed: "What am I to do with this brother of mine, goddess?" Spock had always been introverted, reserved and isolate to an unhealthy extreme even by Vulcan standards, but that he should take it to such self destructive levels was unbelievable. There were after all other Vulcans in Starfleet, he could have formed temporary liaisons with any number of partners without shame. Certainly no blame had attached to T'Pring for taking Stonn as a lover, logically she could have done nothing else and everybody knew it.

Granted all Vulcans were touchily reticent about sex, and for good reason. Outworlders often found the subject grounds for ribald humor but there was nothing funny about Vulcans' demanding sexuality as T'Jess, who spent her professional life smoothing over the trouble it caused, could well attest. Yet again she thanked the fates that had made her human and free of the drives that complicated her compatriots lives.

Spock had been thoroughly educated in the facts of life and trained in the disciplines of Velinahr, yet he had tried to avoid the question, hoping that his human ancestry would somehow render him immune. Such illogical behavior seemed out of character suggesting she did not understand her only brother as well as she should.

But priestess of T'Hat though she was it truly was not appropriate for her to counsel her own brother in such matters. She would enlist Sirak's aid. Not only was he unbonded and so well acquainted with the rituals and proprieties of establishing temporary liaisons, but his was an eminently logical mind, perhaps the most logical she had ever encountered, allowing him to speak frankly about matters most Vulcans found difficult to articulate.

T'Jess frowned. But what about after Spock left Vulcan? What was to keep him from working himself into a similar state in another few years? Somebody aboard the Enterprise would have to be fully informed of the biological facts, somebody in a position to guide and counsel Spock. One of his two t'hy'la was the logical choice, Captain Kirk or Doctor McCoy? The latter she decided after several moments consideration. Humans were not free of sexual reticence themselves but a medical doctor would be accustomed to dealing with intimate matters and so logically less likely to be embarrassed or to cause embarrassment by his own awkwardness.

Uncurling from among the cushions she opened the drawer of a side table taking out a compact communications device. She linked to Vulcan control. "This is T'Jess of D'Jeseru I wish to communicate with the Starship Enterprise currently in orbit."

"Yes, T'sai." a controller's voice answered. "Connecting."

The dark, lovely face of a human woman appeared on the tiny screen and a rich contralto said in terranglish: "Vulcan caller this is the Enterprise. Please state your business."

"I am T'Jess, sister of Commander Spock, I would like to speak to Doctor Leonard McCoy at his earliest convenience."

The woman's eyes widened visibly but she maintained her composure - just. Clearly Spock hadn't discussed his family with his fellow officers either! "One moment please." the word 'Holding' flashed green on the little screen for several minutes then were replaced by the pleasantly craggy features of a middle aged human male who wasn't bothering to hide his surprise.

"McCoy here, miss - uh -. "

"T'Jess." she said, didn't quite smile. "You couldn't pronounce the family name."

"Forgive me if I'm a bit dumb with shock, Miss T'Jess. Spock never mentioned he had a sister."

"That does not surprise me." she answered dryly. "My brother is famously uncommunicative."

"You can say that again!" Dr. McCoy said with feeling.

She nearly smiled again. "Doctor, how well acquainted are you with Vulcan sexual physiology?"

"Not at all." was the rather grim answer. "I've been trying to do some research but can't find anything authoritative on record, just unreliable anecdotes and some downright scurrilous tall tales."

T'Jess nodded. "As I expected. Seeing that you are Spock's doctor and his t'hy'la it is both proper and necessary that you should know more. The matter is somewhat complex and I would prefer not to discuss it over communicator. Would it be convenient for you, Doctor, to beam down tomorrow for a full discussion of the subject about the 4th hour Shi-Kahr time?"

McCoy looked off-screen, correlating that to ship-time. "Yes, that'll be fine. Would you like to give co-ordinates or should we just fix on your signal?"

"Signal please."

Note: 'Velinahr' was coined by Diane Carey but I am not using it in the sense she did. In my fic 'Velinahr' is the discipline of controlling the body, including the sexual urges, in contrast to 'Kohlinahr' the discipline of the mind.