Chapter 10: Departures
"Live long and prosper, father," Tuven said before ending the transmission.
Tuven sighed loudly before rising from his seat to move towards his meditation space. Tuven lit the fire pot and settled into the proper posture, the movements as familiar to him as breathing. Over the past year, he often spent five hours a day in meditation. His clothing, skin and hair constantly bore the scent of incense, a spicy deep aroma. Tuven's mentor at the Science Academy saw fit to commend him for his devotion to the discipline. While his mentor regarded his meditation ritual as a sign of strength, Tuven knew it was a symptom of his weakness.
His emotional control had become more fragile with each passing day since his decision to break the bond with Makeda. He found the conversation with his father to be particularly vexing, so much so that he had not been able to completely suppress his emotional response. It had been more than a year since he last spoke to Makeda and Tuven had still not contacted a healer to dissolve the bond. His father, no doubt concerned about Tuven's impending Time, urged his son to dissolve the bond once and for all or to reconcile with Makeda. Tuven found that he could take neither action. His paralysis in this regard was most illogical. The logical decision would be to release Makeda from the bond and for him to acquire a fully Vulcan mate and for her to acquire a human mate. However, Tuven found this solution to be highly unsatisfying.
After many months of meditation, Tuven began to realize that Ambassador Spock had been correct. Tuven's initial decision to break the bond had not been made out of logic, but out of fear. Tuven feared that Makeda would go to Earth and find a human mate. Instead of merely advancing the date of their joining ceremony, Tuven acted in anger and fear and blocked Makeda from his mind. The action had been physically painful to do. Makeda had become half of his heart and soul. Their months of separation felt as if he carried an open wound in his side, as if a vital organ had been ripped from his body.
Tuven at first reasoned that the passage of time and intense meditation would heal the wound. He was Vulcan. He was master of his emotions. When he was not in class or attending to his studies, he was engaged in deep meditation, battling to contain the primitive emotional Vulcan within the bounds of pure logic. However, the teachings of Surak were of little avail. He found the hours interacting with his colleagues and professors at the Academy to be taxing, his emotional control so tenuous that each day was a trial.
Part of Tuven longed to follow Ambasador Spock's advice and reconcile with Makeda. However, he still was against her choice to study on Earth and he knew that Makeda was too stubborn to relent. Tuven would not be the one to bend. He had chosen to act as Doctor McCoy once advised him. He had put his foot down, as the humans say.
The chime of his comlink broke Tuven from his light meditation. Ordinarily Tuven would have ignored the alert, but he had barely settled fully into the first stage of meditation, despite having spent an hour before the firepot. Tuven rose and crossed the room, accepting the communication as he settled before the screen. He was surprised when the face of Lady Nyota appeared before him. Tuven felt a slight pang in his heart. Makeda and Lady Nyota bore a strong resemblance to one another. If Tuven were to overlook the streak of silver that ran down the right side of her fall of hair and the delicate laugh lines on her face, he could almost imagine that it was Makeda before him.
"Greetings, Lady Nyota," Tuven said as he bent his head towards the screen. "I trust that you and your kin are well."
Lady Nyota frowned at him slightly, before her lips assumed a small smile. "Tuven, you know you can call me Mama Nyota. There is no need for such formality between us."
Tuven's eyes skittered from hers to rest on the wall behind the screen before darting back to her face. "Considering the change of circumstances between your ko'fu and myself, it is only appropriate that I address you with the respect due your station."
The frown returned to Uhura's face, the bottom lip poking out slightly in a perfect mimic of her daughter.
"Tuven, you are still family," Uhura stated, her voice firm. "You will always be a part of this family."
Tuven ducked his head, a strange tightening seizing his chest. I am master of my emotions.
"Are you well, Tuven?" Uhura asked when the silence drew too long. "Are you enjoying your studies at the Academy?"
"I am in peak physical condition, Lady Nyota," Tuven replied, ignoring the small frown that graced the woman's face at the use of her title. "My course work at the VSA is fulfilling. I am excelling in all my classes."
"That is good to hear," Uhura replied with a smile. "I hope to have you in my linguistics class next term."
"The likelihood that I will enroll in your linguistics practicum is very small. As my studies are focused in the organic sciences, it would not be logical for me to enroll in a class that would not advance my academic path."
Uhura smiled at him with a gentle warmth that Tuven could not understand.
"Makeda is leaving for Earth in two days," she stated.
Tuven blinked. The air around him seemed to grow impossibly thick, an observation Tuven knew to be illogical.
"So, she has decided to study on Earth."
"Yes," Uhura replied before licking her lips and leaning towards the screen. "We are having a going away dinner for her tomorrow evening. Ambassadors Spock and Sarek will be there as will their families. The entire S'chn T'gai clan has been invited. Please say that you will be there as well, Tuven."
Tuven paused, the blood rushing in his ears, before he spoke in a soft voice. "Has Makeda requested my presence?"
"She has not said as much, but I know that she wants you to be there, Tuven. She still loves you."
"Love is an illogical human emotion…"
"It is a Vulcan emotion as well," Uhura cut him off. "There is nothing illogical about it."
Tuven watched her silently as she breathed deeply to calm herself.
"I have respected my daughter's wishes and your privacy. I have not begged you to reconsider your decision. But, I can no longer hold my tongue." Uhura looked at him, her eyes hard and shimmering with held back tears. "You've wounded Makeda deeply. The brightness has gone from my little girl and I can't stand to see her that way. My daughter gave you her heart freely and completely and you have chosen to toss it aside like garbage.
"I should hate you, Tuven. If this were ancient times, I'd have the right to call you out and avenge my kinswoman. But I cannot hate you, Tuven. I love you like you were my own son born from my own womb.
"I mourn for you too, Tuven. I can see that you are hurting."
Tuven's posture straightened, his eyes dropping to his lap.
"Look at me Tuven," Uhura demanded. Tuven, accustomed to obeying her like his mother, snapped his eyes back to hers. "I know you are Vulcan, but I can see it all in your eyes and the set of your jaw. You long for Makeda just like she aches for you. Why do you continue to punish her and yourself, Tuven? It is not logical."
"Makeda desires to live among her people," Tuven replied, his voice cracking slightly. "Her desire is logical and it would be logical for her to have a human mate."
"You are her people, too" Uhura replied. "And she has chosen a mate. She chose you."
"I am deficient," Tuven replied with more force than he intended.
Uhura stared at him, her hard face softening at his display of emotion.
"You are not deficient, Tuven."
"I am deficient, Mama Nyota. I cannot provide her with the emotional support that a human male could. A human male would not disappoint her as I often did. He would not fail her."
Tuven's head snapped up at this declaration. "I do not understand. Clarify."
"I spoke perfectly clear. That is rubbish! You talk as if human males make perfect mates. Believe me, they don't. They are no more capable of perfection than Vulcan men. I have been married to Admiral Spock for over twenty-five years. Have I sometimes been so angry with him that I could spit? Of course! But I have never felt that he was a deficient mate. I also doubt that Lady Amanda regretted marrying Ambassador Sarek or that Lady Dawn now finds him deficient.
"Every relationship comes with its misunderstandings and upsets, Tuven. To expect perfection from your mate is illogical. Besides, Makeda does not want a perfect mate. She wants you.
"There is an old Terran saying that explains it best. 'Above all love each other deeply, for love covers a multitude of sins.'"
Uhura stopped speaking and looked over her shoulder quickly.
"I have to go, Tuven. I am sure that my adun would chide me for calling you. But, I couldn't keep out of it any longer. Think on what I have said, Tuven. The dinner starts at 19:00 hours and Makeda's shuttle leaves for Earth the next morning at 07:00 hours. Please come, Tuven. Live long and prosper, sa'fu."
"Live long and prosper, Mama Nyota."
Spock took another slow sip of his plomeek soup, tilting the shallow bowl to his lips as he listened to the chatter of his family around the dining room table. All were gathered for Makeda's going away dinner. In the morning she would depart New Vulcan to begin her course of studies at Cambridge University in Comparative Federation Literature.
While Spock had first been against her decision to forgo Starfleet and the Science Academy for Cambridge, he slowly came to support his daughter. Although it had been several decades since he had defied his father and enrolled in Starfleet, he could still vividly recall the pain caused by his near disownment. For many years they did not speak and Sarek had barred Spock from visiting his home. If not for the destruction of their homeworld and the murder of the woman who had centered both their lives, their estrangement might have endured to the present day. His own experience and the counsel of his older self ensured that he would not repeat history with his own beloved daughter.
Spock regarded his daughter fondly as she spoke animatedly with her mother and Lady Dawn. He was very proud of his ko'fu, although he would call such an emotion illogical and unbecoming of a Vulcan were you to ask him. Makeda had grown into a beautiful, intelligent and poised young woman in the image of her m'aih and m'aih'al. She had her mother's smile and her grandmother's trilling laugh. She possessed both women's kindness and warmth.
Spock was also thankful that Makeda had grown up without the burden of proving her Vulcanness or hiding her humanity. While Vulcan society still held some prejudices against humans and hybrids, her home and that of her grandfather and other-father were islands of acceptance.
Spock had been relieved when he accepted a subspace call some sixteen years ago to find a serious little boy requesting his daughter's hand in marriage. He was pleased to know that Makeda would never experience the pain of sharing a bond with someone who found your very existence repellant. She found a bond-mate who also accepted and valued all sides of her heritage. Indeed, her humanity seemed to be a source of attraction for Tuven. Their pending union was a cause for great anticipation for the S'chn T'gai clan.
Tuven was the only family member absent from the celebration. Although Nyota and Lady Dawn strove to keep the mood celebratory and light, Tuven's absence was palpable.
Spock suppressed a frown as he observed Makeda glance nervously towards the entryway, as if Tuven would step over the threshold at any moment apologizing to his Momma Nyota for his tardiness before making his way towards Makeda, his fingers outstretched as he took his seat. It had been over a year since Tuven had visited their home or attended any S'chn T'gai gatherings. However, his wife and Makeda refused to abandon hope that Tuven would return to the family fold. Spock could not fault them for their logic. Tuven had not yet contacted them to arrange the dissolution of the bond.
The hour soon grew late. Spock accompanied his wife and daughter to the foyer to see off their guests. He watched as Dawn embraced Makeda, kissing the young woman on both cheeks after whispering words of encouragement into her ear. Spock was not surprised when his father enfolded Makeda in his arms as soon as his wife stepped back. Sarek had always been affectionate with his ko'fu'al. Spock thought of his mother and how Amanda would be pleased to see the change in her husband.
Nyota and Spock stepped back as his older self stepped forward to bid farewell to Makeda. He stood for several long moments speaking in low tones, his head bent down toward Makeda. At one point his daughter drew in a sharp breath and looked down. Spock felt her distress through their familial bond and made to step towards them before Nyota's gentle grasp on his hand stayed his steps.
Peace, my a'dun.
Spock watched as the ambassador reached out to gently lift Makeda's chin so that she looked at him once more, passing one long finger over her cheek to catch a stray tear. Spock relaxed when Makeda stood on her toes to wrap her arms around his older self's neck.
Makeda and his older self had always shared a special relationship. When he and Nyota's obligations to Starfleet kept them off planet for years at a time and the mission proved too dangerous or disruptive to her schooling for her to accompany them, Makeda lived in the home of her samekh'al. However, as she began to mature, her home of choice was with Ambassador Spock. At times, Spock found himself strangely envious of his older self and his closeness with Makeda. However, Spock knew that such emotion was irrational. Indeed, Makeda was fortunate to have the elder Spock in her life.
"The hour grows late, Makeda. You should retire soon so that you will be able to rest adequately before our departure in the morning," Spock told his daughter a few hours after their guests had departed.
Makeda stood leaning against the front of the house, her arms crossed over her chest, her hands tightly gripping her forearms. The light above the door turned her dark brown curls a bronze red as she gazed forlornly out at the dimly lit pathway that led from the gate to the front steps.
"He's not coming."
Spock stepped over the threshold of the house and stood beside Makeda. He followed her gaze down the path and watched in silence.
"It does appear unlikely that he will arrive before we are due to leave in the morning," Spock replied after a time.
"I thought that he would come, sa'mekh," Makeda said, her voice strangely flat.
Spock frowned in the dark. He turned towards her. "Perhaps Tuven needs more time, taluhk. It is possible that once you have studied on Earth for a time and his fears are proven unfounded, he will return to you."
"I am not sure that I want him to return," Makeda sighed. She turned towards Spock, her face as expressionless as her voice.
"I do not understand, Makeda. Do you not still desire your sa'kugalsu?"
"I think I will always love, Tuven. But I will not allow myself to weep over his absence anymore. Goodnight, sa'mekh. I am pleased that you will accompany me tomorrow."
Makeda stepped towards her father and kissed him gently on the cheek before walking into the house, her long blue robes sweeping behind her.
Spock stared down the path for a few minutes more, his eyes adjusting to the dark. He thought he spied a wisp of white fabric sweeping past the gate a quarter mile away.
Tuven arrived at the shuttle port just outside of Uzau'Khar. The day was still young and the air relatively cool. He arrived at the shuttle port at 05:00 hours. He knew it was illogical to arrive so early, but as sleep and meditation proved illusive, he left his parent's home to wander the city. Tuven felt as if he held his emotions by a single thread.
I am not sure that I want him to return.
Tuven thought that he desired for Makeda to move on, but when he overheard her declaration, he knew that was the last thing he desired.
Tuven stood abruptly from his seat in the lobby when he saw Makeda and her father enter the shuttle port. He took advantage of being first to recognize his intended. He drank in the sight of her, entering each detail of her dress and face to memory. He noted the small dark mole on her left cheek, the gentle bow of her top lip, her eyebrows that capped her large brown eyes, the delicate curve bending back towards her cheek in the human fashion. She was as he remembered, but not. Her eyes were drawn and slightly red at the corners as if she had not slept. The corners of her mouth were turned downwards, cast in an unnatural frown. The dark fushia tunic that he gave her for her nineteenth birthday seemed loose around her torso, as if she had lost weight. Tuven felt a knot of guilt form in his stomach. He knew the blame for her condition lay solely in his hands. He considered turning around and melting into the crowd until he heard her voice float over the din. It was no more than a breath, an exhaled prayer let loose from her lips.
Makeda dropped her bags at her feet and stood rooted to the spot. Her father who had continued to walk ahead stopped and craned his neck until his eyes fell onto Tuven. Admiral Spock stared at Tuven, his eyes unreadable. Finally, he nodded and walked towards his daughter. He whispered something in her ear before picking up her discarded bag and moving towards the check-in counter.
Tuven was at her side in five long strides, lowering the barrier he had erected against her with each step. He stopped in front of her and held up a shaking hand, two fingers extended towards her. Makeda's eyes dropped to his hand before snapping back to his gaze.
"My father says that we have forty five minutes before we must board the shuttle. We should find a private place in which to speak."
Tuven let his hand drop back to his side. He glanced around the shuttle port, noticing a few curious looks of passersby.
"Of course, Makeda," Tuven replied with a bow of his head. "There is a small meditation sha'ti just down the hall."
Makeda nodded before following him down the hall. Tuven could barely contain his worry as they walked. Although he had opened his mind to her, he only felt the barest touch of her mind to his, a lukewarm entity, neither cold with anger nor warm with joy.
As soon as they entered the sha'ti, Tuven pulled Makeda into his arms.
"Forgive me, ashayam," he chocked out.
Makeda, who had stood stiffly in his embrace, softened against him at his emotional outburst.
"Tuven, k'hat'n'dlawa," she gasped. "You are forgiven."
Tuven shuddered as Makeda's mind filled his. He felt her anger, her misery, her numbness and then her joy fill him. He felt her pain when he closed himself off from her, a searing agony thrust in her side, a pain so much like his own. Tuven broadcast his fear, his anxiety, and his despondency. He felt Makeda quake in his arms as tears began to coarse down her face.
"Never shut me out again, Tuven."
"I promise, k'diwa," Tuven spoke against her hair. "You are truly half of my heart and half of my soul."
Tuven felt Makeda's small hands clutch the front of his robes as she pulled him towards her. Her full lips sought out his and their bond flared to life as their tongues mated. They parted slightly and Makeda smiled against his mouth. Tuven felt his eyes begin to sting and a strange wetness began to slide down his cheeks.
He wiped at the moisture and looked at his fingertips in confusion. Makeda watched him and laughed, her amusement washing over him like a cool breeze. Makeda kissed both of his cheeks before capturing his mouth once more.
"There is so much to say," Tuven began once they parted for a second time.
"And our time together is short," Makeda finished. "I know, Tuven. We can talk later after I settle at Cambridge. There is much we must discuss."
"I know. You must come visit me. When the VSA is on break. You must come," Makeda said as she placed kisses on his mouth after each sentence.
Tuven sank to the ground, bringing Makeda with him. She sat in his lap, her legs wrapped around his hips her forehead pressed against his. They sat draped around one another communing mentally, attempting to make up for their year apart and their time of separation to come. The minutes passed by and they soon had to part from one another. Makeda stood, her smile bright and fragile as she regarded her fiancé. Tuven returned her smile with a slight grin of his own. He felt centered and more at peace than he had in a long time. Makeda made to walk for the door before Tuven stayed her with a touch to her hand. He cupped her face with his hands once more and kissed her gently. Makeda beamed up at him.
They stepped out of the sha'ti and slowly made their way towards the shuttles. Admiral Spock was waiting for them, his hands clasped behind his back. His dark eyes looked from Tuven to his daughter and his stance relaxed noticeably. Tuven stopped a few feet from the Admiral and extended two of his fingers towards Makeda. Makeda smiled and pressed her fingers against his.
"May you have a safe and efficient journey. Live long and prosper."
Makeda raised her hand in the traditional sign of parting as she repeated the blessing. She turned and boarded the shuttle.
The Admiral stepped towards Tuven and regarded him silently. "Live long and prosper, sa'fu," Spock stated as he saluted him.
"Live long and prosper, sa'mekh."
Tuven stepped back and watched the shuttle depart, his spirit at peace and his mind ordered. He closed his eyes and reached out to his ashayam. He was pleased to feel her answering touch.