The next few days proceeded in much the same rhythm, swimming, strolling around the island, and the Captain's favorite time of day – Spock tucking him in and telling him a story before he drifted off to a safe, sound, lonely sleep.

On the fourth day, Scotty and Bones left, Scotty assuring him he would look after his ship. Bones repeated that he was only a transporter beam away should either of them have need of his services, even if it were to simply listen.

Then they were gone, only Jim and Spock remaining in the bungalow.

"I think I'm going to take a nap," Jim decided after they had eaten lunch. "It could be late before everyone leaves tonight."

"I believe the items Uhura needs for the celebration have arrived next door," Spock said.

"She said she'd be here around 15:00," Jim said. "Wake me before she arrives?"

"Of course. You do not generally sleep so long in the afternoon."

"I know. But I don't want to be asleep when she gets here," Jim said, with a yawn.

"I will make certain you are not," Spock promised.

"Are my shirt and pants back from the resort laundry, do you know?"

"They were delivered yesterday while you were walking with Mr. Scott. They are in your closet," Spock said.

"Good. Thanks," Jim said, getting closer to the computer where Spock was working. "What are you doing?"

"Researching recipes for some of the cuisine we have eaten here," Spock explained.

"Oh good. Although I don't think we'll find the ingredients anywhere else."

"It is appropriate to record the recipes in any case," Spock said.

"Of course," Jim smiled. "I'll see you later."

"Certainly. Sleep well," Spock said, watching the Captain enter his bedroom. Jim turned up the ceiling fan, bringing a cooling breeze. He stretched out on the bed, enjoying the luxury of being able to nap.

"No no. Stop. You can't." Although the sound came from the bedroom where his Captain slept, Spock could barely recognize the voice.

"Jim," Spock said, entering the room to find him in a loosing battle against his bed sheets. "Jim."

"No no. I won't. You can't. NO," he yelled, his arms flaying.

"Jim," Spock said in some urgency. "Wake up. You are experiencing a nightmare." Jim showed no signs of waking, his terror becoming more stark. "Jim, wake up. Come to me. I am real. Your nightmare is not."

"Spock," Jim shouted. "Get away. Don't let them capture you."

"Jim, wake up. There is no one here but me. Wake up, t'hy'la."

With a gasp, Jim woke, meeting Spock's worried eyes, his own wide and scared.

"You are safe, Jim. It was only a nightmare," Spock assured him.

"Yes," Jim said, closing his eyes and shaking his head. "It was so real."

"Will you tell me what you were dreaming?" Spock asked.

"I was on the planet. I refused to give them what they wanted. So they were burning me at the stake so you would come down. Then they were going to force you to cooperate," Jim said softly.

"We are both safe," Spock assured him.

"Yes," Jim sighed. "I didn't like the idea of dying. But I knew your pain would be far greater than mine."

"It was not real, t'hy'la. Neither of us will come to harm," Spock said.

"Yes, thank the gods," Jim said, slowly sitting up. "What time is it?"


"Okay. I'm going to take a shower. Wash away the nightmare," Jim decided.

"You have not yet enjoyed the tub. And there is still time," Spock suggested.

"That's an excellent idea," Jim agreed. He threw off the covers, standing to stretch. He then went into the spacious bathroom, looking over his shoulder at Spock once the water was flowing.

"Here you are," Spock said, giving him a glass of ice water.

"Thank you," Jim said, watching the water splash into the tub. "This tub is large…."

"…enough for two," Spock finished for him, backing out.

"I'm sorry."

"Your apology is unnecessary," Spock assured him.

"I know," Jim said, shaking his head.

"Enjoy your bath," Spock said as he left, closing the door behind him.

Once there was sufficient water in the tub, Jim turned on the bubble jets, entering the hot water and enjoying the soothing streams of warmth.

As much as he enjoyed his soak, he knew it wasn't what he really wanted. His true desire waited on the other side of the door. When would the terrors finally release him so he could be with Spock in the way they both desired?

He closed his eyes, leaning his head against the smooth edge of the tub, reviewing the past few days and enjoying his private slide show. He smiled to himself when he realized that every image his mind presented was of Spock – fresh from the ocean, sunning himself on the beach, trying an exotic dish of multi-colored, unfamiliar fruits and vegetables, gazing down at him with love after telling him the nightly story.

Each image warmed him and…excited him. With immense relief, he realized that thinking of Spock had aroused him. For the first time since returning from the planet, he knew the pleasure of stimulation.

A smile played over his mouth as he reached for his erection. The hardness was welcome and cherished. He felt no reservations when he wrapped warm fingers around himself, enjoying the sensation of touch. Maybe the nightmare had worked to finally break their hold on him. They could not incinerate him or his love of Spock. By Spock freeing him from the nightmare, he was now free to love and be loved.

Taking a deep breath, he removed his hands, knowing his arousal would subside. It would not take much to bring himself to completion but that was an experience he wanted to save, to share with Spock. It would be his gift to his love.

Part of him wanted to go to Spock that instant, to tell him and to take him to his bed. But he really wanted to wait - to make absolutely sure he was indeed ready. And he wanted their first time together to be perfect, not a rushed coming together, concerned about time and being interrupted. No, he would wait, content in the knowledge that very soon their mutual desire would be fulfilled.

He left the tub still smiling at his discovery. Soft sounds from the sitting room warned him that they were no longer alone. After dressing in jeans and a tee shirt, he emerged from his bedroom to find the bungalow a flurry of activity, all of which was being directed by a smiling Lt Uhura.

"What's going on?" he asked Spock when he had come to stand by his side, carefully out of the way.

"Wedding preparations," Spock confirmed.

"Captain," Uhura said when she spotted him, coming over. "I hope you don't mind."

"Of course not," Jim said, watching various members of his crew moving, arranging, bringing in flowers, cushions, candles.

"They are all on leave, sir," Uhura assured him.

"I'm not concerned. Can Spock and I do anything besides stay out of the way?"

"No sir. We have everything we need," she said, turning to smile at one of the resort workers. "Good. You are here to open the wall?"

"Yes, gentle being," he agreed, going with her to the wall that divided the two sitting rooms. Taking out a small device, he unlocked the hidden latches, easily pushing the wall into the secret space between the two bedrooms.

"Convenient," Jim said.

"Very," Spock agreed.

"When you are ready, press this control and the wall will be released and can be returned to the closed position," the man explained.

"Very good," Uhura said. "Thank you."

With a nod, he left, dodging several crew members who were returning with their arms full.

"I think we're impeding progress," Jim told Spock with a laugh.

"It does appear so," Spock agreed.

"I need to beam up to the ship for a few minutes," Jim said casually.

"Should I accompany you?" Spock asked.

"Thanks but no. I won't be long. Then maybe we can find somewhere to hide for a little while," he joked.

"An excellent idea," Spock agreed. "I believe I will be safe in the hammock."

"Probably. Except everyone will think you have taken ill," the Captain laughed.

"I will endeavor to ally their concerns," Spock assured him.

"Good. I won't be long."

Spock nodded, leaving the chaos that had overtaken their peaceful space, crossing over the hammock.

Jim stood on the porch and requested transport from a startled technician. "I'm fine, Lt. Just need to beam aboard for a few minutes."

The engineer did as he asked, the doctor entering soon after he solidified, relief on his face when he saw how relaxed Jim was.

"Hey," McCoy said with a smile.

"Bones. I hope you weren't alarmed," the Captain said, walking out with his friend.

"Maybe a little. But I knew if it was bad, you'd have called," the doctor said, observing the appraising glances many of the crew were giving their Captain.

"I guess I should have put on my uniform," Jim said, also aware of the not really subtle stares coming his way.

"And spoil their fun?" McCoy laughed, following the Captain into his quarters.

"You're coming down for the wedding, right?" Jim asked him.

"Of course. You forget something?" McCoy asked as Jim disappeared into his closet.

"No. I didn't forget," Jim said, emerging with the quilt his mother had given him.

"The quilt," McCoy said with a smile. "You look better than you have in a while."

"I am. And I'm ready."

"Good for you," McCoy said with genuine affection. "You tell Spock?"

"I plan to. Tonight."

"Appropriate. You have lubricant?"

"No," Jim admitted. "Do you?"

"Of course. Do you want to come with me to get it? Or should I bring it down when I come?"

"Bring it with you. We won't need it until everyone has left," Jim said, feeling the color creep up his cheeks. He turned away from his friend, taking his Book of Common Prayer from its shelf and putting it on top of the quilt.

"Are you worried?" Bones asked cautiously.

"Not at all. Excited…uhm…aroused. Not worried."


"Spock and I will need to get married so they can't separate us. Is Samuel still ordained by that weird congregation?"

"I think so. You could wait until we arrive at Starbase Tycho."

"That might be preferable. Would you mind asking Scotty if he can put in a door between our quarters?"

"I'd be honored. I'll talk to him before we come down," McCoy said.

"Thanks. I guess I better tell Scotty I'm on board. I don't want him to hear from someone else," Jim decided, sitting at his desk. It felt familiar but strange, almost like he was intruding on someone else's space. "Captain Kirk to Mr. Scott."

"Scott here, sir," Scotty responded, looking confused.

"I had to pop up for a minute, Scotty. Ship's status?"

"All systems report normal, Captain."

"Very good, Scotty. You'll be coming down for the wedding, right?"

"Of course sir. When alpha shift is over."

"Very good. See you then."

"Aye, sir," Scotty agreed, disconnecting.

"You have everything now?" McCoy asked.

"I sure do. When are you coming down?" Jim asked as they left his quarters.

"6 o'clock. Ceremony's at 7:20, right?"

"Or there about," Jim agreed as they entered the transporter room. "I'll see you later," the Captain said as he stepped onto the transporter pad. "Can you beam me directly into the bungalow? Preferably the bedroom?"

"I can locate the bathroom, Captain. Because of all the hardware."

"That'll be fine," the Captain agreed. And with a smile and a nod, he vanished from their sight, materializing right in the bathroom as promised. He quietly went into his bedroom, putting the quilt in his closet. After placing the Book of Common Prayer on the bedside table, left his bedroom.

"Oh Captain," Uhura said when she nearly collided with him.

"Apologies, Uhura. I didn't mean to startle you."

"I wasn't expecting you to come out of your bedroom," she admitted.

"I'm leaving so I won't be in your way," he laughed.

"You are never in my way," she said with a bright smile.

"And you are a flatter," he responded.

"Is that such a bad thing?" she asked innocently.

"Not in the least. And it will be our secret," he promised with a wink before he left the bungalow.

"Be back by 18:30, Captain," she called after him.

"Aye aye sir," he responded, her bright laughter following him. "Hi," he said to Spock when he was leaning against the tree, Spock laying crosswise in the hammock.

"Your errand is successfully concluded?"

"Yes it is. Uhura says we have to be back at 18:30. What should we do until then?" Jim asked.

"Stroll along the beach until we find an appropriate place to eat?"

"I guess we should have something to eat before the ceremony," Jim agreed.

Spock nodded, getting out of the hammock much more gracefully than Jim had ever believed possible. Spock left his notebooks and journal, to be retrieved when they returned.

The stroll along the beach was very pleasant, and they agreed that the tiny stand set up next to the ocean halfway down the island would be the perfect place for refreshments.

They arrived back at their bungalow precisely at 18:30, finding it transformed. The sand between the structure and the ocean was filled with tables and chairs, all festooned with native flowers in every imaginable color. The guest who had already arrived were equally festooned with flower leis, the women with large, exotic flowers behind their ears.

"Captain, Mr. Spock," Uhura said in greeting as they approached her at her station on the porch. It too had been transformed, soft cushions inviting guests to linger, a multitude of candles casting a warming glow. Uhura wore a sarong of brightest pink, huge blue flowers adorning the flowing dress. The flowers in her hair were the same type and the same color. "You need to change, please, sirs."

"We're on our way now," the Captain assured her. "You've done a wonderful job."

"Thank you, sir. Please don't trip over any of the gifts," she cautioned as they entered their sitting room.

"Oh my," Jim said, looking at the combined living spaces of the bungalows. There seemed to be festively wrapped gifts everywhere, on the floor, on the counters, on the tables.

"There is certainly an abundance of gifts," Spock observed.

"There sure are," Jim agreed, looking around at all of them.

"Captain," Uhura requested, standing in the doorway with a slightly anxious expression.

"I'm going," he laughed. She nodded and left, calling out instructions to someone they could not see.

"There is still plenty of time before the ceremony," Spock said with the barest hint of amusement.

"Mother of the…well…grooms, I guess. Wants to make sure everything is perfect," Jim explained.


"She's always like this," Jim confirmed. "You don't usually see it."

"She will oversee the preparations for our wedding?" Spock asked, appreciating the way their bungalow had turned into a space for a celebration.

"Of course. She'll be honored. Now, we better change before she boxes our ears," Jim laughed.

"A most dreadful fate," Spock agreed, disappearing into his bedroom.

Jim was still laughing as he entered his bedroom, quickly changing into the subtle Hawaiian shirt he had worn to the first night's banquet. That had been quite an eventful evening, he thought happily

When he emerged, Uhura greeted him with a bright lei and a brighter smile. "The Michaels are here, sir. They look nervous."

"Alright, Uhura. I'll talk with them. Where are they?" Jim asked.

"Next door. The outside bedroom. I think Michael Grey is just fine. Michael Forester looks like he's about to have a come-apart."

Jim nodded, turning to watch Spock emerge from his bedroom, looking regal and altogether wonderful in his black silk shirt over plain black trousers.

"Very nice, Commander," Uhura said in approval.

"Thank you, Lt. Your attire is most becoming."

"Thanks. Will you save me a dance?" she asked with a smile.

"You can be certain that I will," he agreed.

"I need to calm down the Michaels, Spock. You'll do whatever Uhura tells you, right?" Jim laughed.

"It will be my honor," Spock agreed.

Uhura laughed brightly at him, making her request, Spock automatically following her instructions.

The Captain went through the wide opening to the other bungalow, knocking on the bedroom door. "It's the Captain," he answered when one of the Michaels asked.

"Captain," Lt Grey said. Jim detected a faint note of relief in his voice. This Michael was tall with hair so blond it looked white. His skin was fair, his eyes the palest blue the Captain had ever seen. Those same eyes looked at the Captain with a plea for assistance.

Michael Forester was sitting in one of the wicker chairs, curled into a tight ball. His complexion was the opposite of his intended's – the color of coffee with cream, his dark hair short cropped and full of curls, his dark eyes staring down at his quaking hands.

The Captain crossed over to his chair, crouching before him. "Michael."

The young man slowly raised his eyes to meet those of his Captain. "Sir," he said quietly.

"I understand you are nervous."

"Yes sir," he agreed.

"Can you tell me why, Michael? I know you love Michael and he loves you," Jim said.

"I do, sir."

"It's natural to be a little nervous right before your wedding. But why are you so worried? Is it the ceremony itself?"

"No sir. It's…uhm…Mickey is so…smart and…uhm…you know."

"Yes, Michael is very smart. As you are," the Captain said.

"He's so talented...and he has all those friends. What if I'm not good enough?" Michael whispered, his dark eyes wide.

"You are very talented as well. But none of that really matters, does it? Love isn't a contest. Love is about finding that one person who is perfect for you. Who completes you – makes you whole. And you are that person to Michael. You wouldn't be getting married if that weren't true."

"He's right, Mikey," Michael said, standing before his love, close behind the Captain. "I am only in love with you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you – go to sleep next to you and wake up next to you. That's why we're getting married."

"Yes," Michael Forester agreed, slowly smiling up at Michael.

"Are you going to be okay now, Michael?" the Captain asked, a warm hand on Michael Forester's knee.

"Better than okay, sir," he said, standing to enter Michael Grey's embrace.

"Very good. Come to your party when you're ready. But don't wait too long or you'll have to answer to Lt. Uhura," the Captain warned lightly.

"We'll be right there, sir," Michael Grey said over the shorter Michael's head. "Thank you," he mouthed silently.

The Captain nodded, leaving them alone for a few stolen moments.

"Everything okay now, sir?" Uhura asked, appearing at his elbow and giving him a festive looking drink, umbrella in place.

"Fine, Lt. They'll be out shortly," the Captain assured her.

"Saved the day again," she said with a saucy wink.

He just shook his head at her, spotting Dr. McCoy and going over after Uhura walked away. "You just getting here?"

"Yeah. Unavoidably delayed," McCoy shrugged.

"Everything alright?"

"It's fine. Ernestine Crowley decided she needed to tell me all the reasons she should be assigned to sickbay."

"Again?" Jim asked.

"Yeah. Didn't you promise me you'd talk to her?" Bones groused.

"I said Spock would. I'm sure he did. Either way, I'll talk to her when we're back," Jim promised.

"Appreciate it," Bones agreed. Their chat was cut short by the excited members of the crew who were happy to be included in the festivities. Many of them spoke to the Captain, casual greetings, warm exchanges, ideal conversation.

"Captain," Uhura called to him.

"Duty calls," he said to the ten or so crew members who had gathered around him. "What can I do for you?" he asked the Lt., noticing the two Michaels laughing with a group of their friends.

"Can you find out why Scotty's not here, please? It's getting late. He should be here by now."

"Did you contact him?" he asked.

"I talked to him 20 minutes ago. He said he would be here shortly. I need to talk to the caterers. And he may not come now if I ask him," Uhura explained.

"Ah," Jim said in realization. "I need to order him down."

"Now, Captain, I would never presume to tell you what to do," she said in overstated horror.

"You do it all the time," he laughed. "You just think I don't notice."

"I know you notice. I also know you don't mind. Or I'd stop."

"You always have been exceptionally perceptive," he confirmed warmly.

"Tell me about you and Mr. Spock," she said conspiratorially.

"What about us?" he teased.

"I've seen the way you look at him. And he can't keep his eyes off of you."

"Is that so?" he asked with a quiet laugh.

"Very much so, Captain. Am I to have the honor of planning your wedding?" she asked.

"Of course," he confirmed with a wink.


"Starbase Tycho. But you'll keep it under your hat for now?"

"Of course I will, sir. I'm overjoyed for you both," she said, beaming with happiness.

"So are we. Now, you go order around the caters and I'll get Scotty down."

"Thank you, sir," she agreed with a bright smile, sashaying away.

"May I inquire as to the topic of that conversation?" Spock asked quietly when he appeared at the Captain's elbow.

"Us," Jim confirmed, smiling up at him.

"As I suspected," Spock agreed with a nod.

"Who gave you that lei?" Jim asked with a smile, appreciating the pale yellow flowers against the black silk shirt.

"Lt Uhura. She indicated it was a requirement."

"And you believed her?" Jim laughed.

"Of course not. However I would never dare hurt her feelings."

"None of us would," Jim agreed, opening his communicator to contact Scotty.

"Scott here, sir."

"Where are you, Scotty? You're worrying Uhura," the Captain said.

"I know sir. I was running late and then I had to put on my kilt. But…well…never mind, sir. I'll be there in five minutes, I promise."

"Alright, Scotty. I won't be held responsible for what happens if you're late."

"Understood, sir," Scotty confirmed, signing off.

"Sir?" one of the ensigns said, looking up at her Captain.

"Yes, Ensign Singh," the Captain responded.

"The Michaels asked me to ask you if you would mind talking to them now, sir. About, you know, the ceremony, sir. And what they'll do, you know, when it starts."

"I'll be glad to, Ensign."

"Okay, sir. Good. Thank you, sir," she said, turning away.


"Yes sir?" she responded.

"Where should I meet them?" the Captain asked, barely suppressing his laughter.

"Oh, sir, I'm sorry. They are in the bedroom. Over there, sir," she said, pointing to the other side of the bungalow.

"Very good, Ensign Singh. Thank you."

"Thank you, sir," she said, turning away and leaving this time.

"Do you want to come?" Jim asked Spock.

"Will I be intruding?"

"Not at all. I'm sure they would welcome your company," Jim said.

"Will Lt. Uhura be in attendance?"

"She needs to be. Do you know where she is?" Jim asked.

"I believe she is in front of the bungalow. I will inform her that her presence is required," Spock said.

"Thanks. I'll be with the Michaels."

Spock inclined his head to acknowledge the Captain's words before he left the bungalow in search of the wedding organizer. It wasn't hard to locate her where she was standing at the bottom of the steps directing traffic. She smiled up at Spock when he approached. "Hi."

"The Michaels would like to discuss the ceremony."

"Of course," she agreed, not moving. "You've already made the Captain very happy."

"He has done the same for me," he confirmed softly.

"I'm glad you two finally realized it," she said.

"It?" he repeated with an elegantly raised eyebrow.

"That you were meant for each other. Two halves of the whole," she explained.

"We are indeed," he agreed. "And you have known this?"

"Of course I have. I see how much you love each other. It's right and it's true."

"Yes," he agreed. "We are complete."

"Or will be soon," she said in understanding.

"Is that obvious to you as well?" he asked.

"I see the electricity arching between you. But the circuit isn't complete yet. Is it because of whatever happened on the planet?"


"Is he okay, Spock?" she asked with such compassion that to refuse to answer was not possible.

"He is healing, Uhura. His body is recovered. His mind was assaulted more severely."

"I can only imagine," she said. "He looks much better now. More centered. Less… mm… haunted."

"He has reached resolution with much of what occurred," Spock confirmed.

"In no small part thanks to you," she said knowingly.

"Is that not what friends are for?"

She laughed at his words, happiness in the sound. "Absolutely. We better go talk to the Michaels."

He nodded, waiting for her to proceed him into the bungalow. Their trip was slowed by those who wanted to share their happiness at the occasion, Uhura saying exactly the right thing to each well-wisher, Spock content to silently observe. He very much appreciated the special talent she possessed to make each person around her the most important in the room. Her gift reminded of Jim's ability to do the same. How did they do it? It was worth further observation. And discussion.

When he and Uhura entered the bedroom, the two Michaels were sitting pressed close on the bed, facing the Captain who was in one of the wicker chairs. The two crew members were mesmerized by what the Captain was saying, neither aware of the new arrivals.

"And then the Admiral said 'Naturally he must be promoted,'" the Captain said triumphantly, the Michaels bursting into laughter.

"Is that true, sir?" Michael Forester asked with a laugh.

"With the gods as my witness," the Captain said, looking up at his two officers with a wink. Both were all too familiar with the entire story the Captain had just told and knew just as well that parts were true. Much had been subjected to embellishment but neither of them would presume to let on that every word was not the solemn truth. "Here's the beautiful organizer now," the Captain said, standing so that Uhura could have his seat.

"Thank you, sir," she said, sitting in the vacated chair to face the eager men. "The sun will set at 19:23. So the ceremony needs to begin at 19:10. What time is it now?" Uhura asked Spock.


"Oh. Time has gotten away from me," she said. "No matter. At exactly 19:08, Michael Grey, you'll leave the bungalow with Alicia at your side."

Michael Grey nodded in understanding. "She's dressed and ready."

"Michael Forester, you'll wait until Michael is at the end of the path then you and Chief Scott will come out and go down the path. Captain Kirk will be waiting on the sand. Since the tide is going out, we don't need to worry about any of us getting wet feet." Uhura glanced over at the Captain, studying him briefly. "Are you wearing your shoes, sir?"

The Captain laughed and shook his head. "No. I'm planning to take them off."

"Thank you," she said, glancing over at Scotty when he peered in.

"Mr. Spock," Scotty said. Spock went to the door, following him out.

"The music will be recorded," Uhura said. "Not ideal but that's all I could find. Have you told the Captain which service you prefer?"

"Standard Earth Protestant," Michael Forester said.

"Certainly," the Captain agreed.

"And you have written your own vows?" Uhura asked.

"Yes," Michael Grey said. "It's okay if we read them, isn't it?"

"Of course. When you're finished, give them to the Captain so you don't have to hold onto them. Do you have your rings?" They nodded, Michael Forester taking the box out of the pocket of his comfortable black pants and handing it to the Captain. "Good," Uhura said in approval. "What other questions do you have?"

"I don't have any," Michael Grey decided, looking at the other Michael.

"Thank you for doing this for us, Lt," Michael Forester said.

"You are most welcome," she assured them happily.

"We appreciate everything you are doing for us as well, Captain. Even though this isn't the real wedding," Michel Forester said.

"The wedding's real," the Captain responded. "We'll take care of the legal aspect back on board our ship."

"Yes, sir," the Michaels agreed, beaming with happiness.

The Captain watched Spock return, wondering about the slightly strained expression on his face.

"After the Captain concludes your ceremony," Uhura was saying, "he'll invite everyone to relax and enjoy themselves. You two should only stay as long as you want. If you disappear before the party is over, no one will question your absence," she promised.

"You'll dance with us, won't you?" Michael Grey requested of her.

"Of course I will," she assured them both.

"Do you need me right now, Lt?" the Captain asked Uhura.

"No, sir. Thank you."

"I'll see you very soon," he said as he left the bedroom for the vacant room next door, Spock automatically following. "What's wrong?"

"Chief Scott's arrival was delayed in part because he was contacted by Admiral Hershfield," Spock explained.

"What did he want?" Kirk asked, instantly on alert at that news.

"To talk to you," Spock said. "He has some questions about your actions on Leferson."

"My actions?" Jim repeated.

"He apparently harbors some doubts that everything possible was done to prevent human contamination of indigenous species."

"Human contamination?" Kirk repeated, incredulous. "I was abducted and raped. And he has doubts about my actions?"

"He was demanding that Mr. Scott put through his communication. That you are on leave and preparing for crew nuptials was of no interest to him."

"I'll bet not," Jim said. "Did he tell Scotty what it was he thought I should have done differently while I was being held prisoner?"

"Not that Mr. Scotty shared with me."

"Probably told Hershfield where he could put his doubts," Jim speculated.

"What do you wish to do?" Spock asked.

"What did Scotty tell him?"

"That you were unavailable. At his first opportunity, he would relay the message. Anything else the Admiral may have said was lost in sub-space interference," Spock said with complete seriousness.

"Uhura taught Akia the finer points of sub-space interference?" Jim asked.

"It would seem so," Spock agreed.

"Good for her," the Captain said, thinking about this turn of events. "Well…I'm not available right now. I won't be available until tomorrow, at the earliest." He dug the communicator out of his pocket and handed it to Spock. "Just in case."

"You will remain unavailable," Spock confirmed.


"You are unconcerned about any possible repercussions?" Spock asked.

"What repercussions? Is he going to demote me for being a victim of those women?"

"Clearly not," Spock said.

"Maybe fire me? Then we'll stay here. Or live on Earth half time, Vulcan the other half," Jim said with a smile.

"That would be acceptable," Spock assured him.

"Good," Jim said, smiling over at Uhura when she peered around the door. "We're coming."

"Please," she requested, opening the door the rest of the way. "Your shoes, sir," she reminded him.

"I need to get the Book of Prayer. I'll leave my shoes in my bedroom," he promised.

"Then you'll come straight to the beach."

"Yes, sir," he teased, crossing over to his bedroom, Spock silently following.

"She is very…saucy," Spock decided.

"Saucy," Jim laughed, taking off his shoes. "Is that a Vulcan term?"

"A very human term. For a very human…wonder of nature," Spock said.

"An excellent description," Jim agreed.

"She said that she knew about us," Spock said as Jim slid his shoes under the bed. "Do you not wish to put them in the closet?"

"I'll put them back on when the ceremony is over. And Uhura said the same to me."

"She is extremely perceptive," Spock observed.

"Always has been," the Captain agreed, accepting the Book of Prayer when Spock had retrieved it. "Thanks."

Spock nodded, following the Captain out to find the bungalows deserted. As they crossed the wide porch, they found everyone already gathered on the sand near the ocean, sitting on blankets, low chairs, beach towels, the soft sand. Spock remained on the porch as the Captain walked down the steps, following the path strewn with flower petals. They were soft and cool under Jim's feet and he enjoyed his solitary stroll to the water's edge. That everyone was watching him was of no consequence – a fact that barely registered so common it was to him. He nodded to various members of the crew who made eye contact, winking at Uhura where she stood beside the flowers which were formed into a heart in the sand. The Captain automatically positioned himself on the ocean side of the heart, obediently following Uhura's silent instructions, standing on top of the X she had drawn.

When he was in place, his nod started the traditional wedding march and all the guests rose to face the bungalow. Michael Grey emerged, looking relaxed and joyful, his best friend Alicia by his side. She was dressed in a bright green sarong, the flowers on the material the same color as the deep pink of Michael's shirt. Her lei was blue and yellow while Michael's was all purple. They made their way slowly down the path, Michael smiling at his friends, Alicia happy in the reflected glow.

Alicia escorted Michael to the heart of flowers, stopping as Michael entered it. Michael smiled at the Captain before turning to await Michael's appearance.

As Michael Forester emerged from the bungalow, the Captain heard a soft gasp from the first Michael, as though he had not seen his beloved in far too long – years rather than minutes. And Jim knew just how he felt. He felt the same each time he caught sight of Spock.

Michael Forester and Scotty walked side by side down the path, the Michaels looking only at each other, all other beings forgotten. Jim would not have been surprised if they had kissed when Michael Forester entered the heart but they did not. The slowly turned their gaze to the Captain, and smiled, pure joy on both their faces.

The Captain waited as the guests resumed their seats before turning his focus back to the betrothed couple. "From time immemorial," the Captain began. "It has been the privilege of the Captain to bind couples in holy matrimony. Friends, we are gathered here today to bear witness to such a happy occasion.

"Michael Grey and Michael Forester have chosen this time and this place to declare to each other and their assembled friend their love and their devotion. We are to rejoice with them, guide them, share with them all that love means. That is our duty. That is our honor." The Captain paused, studying the two men before him as they radiated their utter bliss at what was about to occur. And he was happy for them.

"The Michaels have chosen the Traditional Earth Protestant ceremony and I am honored to preside over their choice." The Captain opened the Book of Prayer to the appropriate page and read the timeless words, words he could have recited from memory. They never failed to make his heart beat a little faster, such was their beauty to him.

He read the standard blessings and requested the standard promises. "I do," Michael Grey repeated solemnly.

The Captain nodded, smiling at the men and those gathered for them. "The Michaels have written vows which they will share with us, and with each other," the Captain announced. "Michael Grey," he invited.

The shorter Michael took a deep breath as they turned to face one another rather than the Captain and the ocean beyond. Michael Grey's eyes were filled with shining tears of joy as he looked up at the taller Michael.

"I don't remember a time when I did not love you," he said. "Even before we met, I knew that there was one person meant for me and me alone. When I found you on Enterprise, I knew. That we could not speak without fighting disguised the truth from others but not from me." He paused, leaning toward his beloved. "I have always loved you. I love you now. I will love you forever. And whatever may come past that."

"Perfect," the Captain whispered, accepting the crumbled paper from Michael Grey's hand. "Michael," he invited for all to hear.

"You are one half of all that I am," Michael Forester said, gazing at his love with an intensity that could be felt by those close by. "You are the sun that shines in my sky. You are the rain that falls on my earth. When you entered my life, I knew my days of being alone were at an end. Because you have given me the most precious of all gifts – your heart. I will keep it safe and will cherish it to the end of our days. I love you, Mikey." With that, they could stand it no longer and stole a quick kiss. The Captain shook his head but could not help but smile at their action. He was careful not to look over at Uhura who may not have approved of this tiny breach of protocol.

The Captain took the ring box out of his pocket, waiting as the Michaels straightened and put a little more distance between them. "The Michaels have asked to have the exchanging of the rings included," the Captain said. He recited the words for them to repeat, their hands coming together as though they would never part again. "You may now kiss," the Captain invited when all of the rituals had been completed.

The Michaels accepted his invitation, the audience standing and clapping for their happiness. When they parted, they both thanked the Captain once more and turned to face those gathered.

"The party begins now," the Captain announced unnecessarily. "Those on duty tomorrow are requested to keep in mind their responsibilities. Those on leave are invited to indulge to the extent they are comfortable. Most of all, everyone enjoy!"

The friends gathered lined the path, tossing flower petals at the newlyweds as they went back up the path to the porch. When they entered the bungalow, many followed to speak to them, some stayed outside to find something to eat, others stood at the water's edge to watch the final streaks of sun as it disappeared into the ocean.

Jim looked up at Spock as he approached, unable to tell what his love was thinking. "Hi," Jim whispered when Spock stood next to him.

"That was a lovely ceremony," Spock said quietly.

"Weddings always are," Jim agreed with a smile.

"Especially those over which you preside."

"How many weddings have you attended that I wasn't officiating?" Jim laughed.

"That is irrelevant," Spock decided.

"I see," Jim said, turning his attention to Uhura when she stood next to Spock. "Hello."

"They are waiting for you to open the champagne," she told him brightly.

"That's not necessary," Jim said.

"It doesn't matter, love. They want you to do it," Uhura said.

"Alright," he agreed with a laugh.

"Love?" Spock whispered when she had walked away.

"She's in the wedding mood. You've seen her like this before."

"Yes," Spock agreed, walking up the path with the Captain to enter the bungalow.

"There is champagne to be enjoyed," the Captain said as he accepted the bottle from Uhura. She had already pulled it part way out so with a quick flick of his wrist, the cork flew across the room, the champagne spilling into a strategically placed towel. The Captain filled the Michaels' glasses, doling out the rest until his bottle was empty. At that point, the caterers took over, distributing filled glasses to all those interested. The Captain took a flute, chatting happily with all those who approached. Spock was engaged in quiet conversation with the two Michaels, both of them smiling at whatever it was he was saying.

The evening progressed in the way that wedding receptions have through the ages. There was music and dancing and delicious food to be enjoyed. All those basked in the reflected glow of the newly married couple who radiated happiness to everyone present.

The Michaels slipped out quietly three and a half hours after the party had begun, Uhura subtly suggesting to the other crew members that it was becoming time to call it a night. Eventually everyone was gone except McCoy, Scotty, and Uhura, who were sitting on the porch with Spock and Jim.

"Another triumph," Bones told Uhura, saluting her with his glass.

"Thank you, kind sir," she said with a bright smile. "I've asked the caterers to come back tomorrow morning to clean up."

"Not too early, lass," Scotty said with a laugh.

"Gracious no. Not until 10:30 or later," she assured them all.

"Thank you," Jim said.

"And I'll arrange to have all the gifts transported up tomorrow," Uhura said, checking silently with Scotty.

"Of course," Scotty agreed.

"Unless there is anything else you need from me, sir, I'm going to return to the ship," Uhura said, standing to gaze down at the Captain.

"You did a wonderful job, Uhura. Thank you so much," he said, standing to give her a hug.

"You are most welcome. Do you want me to come down tomorrow to supervise the clean up?"

"That won't be necessary, my dear," he assured her.

"Very well. I'll wish you good night," she said, stepping away with a smile and requesting transport.

"I think we ought to be goin' too," McCoy said, standing with Scotty.

"Good night," Jim said smiling at them. "Thanks for everything."

"Thank you for letting us attend," Scotty said with a return smile. "Good night Mr. Spock."

"Rest well, gentlemen," Spock said with a nod as they requested transport and disappeared.

Jim smiled brightly over at Spock when they were finally alone. "I'm ready for bed. You?"

"I am," Spock agreed.

"You'll tuck me in?" Jim requested with a warm laugh.

"How could I not?"

"Exactly," Jim agreed. He held out his hand, gratified when Spock accepted the offer. Jim was more aware of Spock with the physical contact, certain Spock was equally aware of him. They went silently across the bungalow, Jim opening the door to his bedroom. The lamp on the bedside table cast a soft glow over the bed and he waited for Spock to enter.

"The quilt," Spock said softly.

"Yes. Will you sleep with me?" Jim requested, looking up at Spock with love and desire in his eyes.

"Yes," Spock responded, leaning down enough to kiss his beloved's lips. It was a joining of mouths, souls, hearts.

"Oh my," Jim whispered when they finally parted. "I shouldn't have waited so long."

"You waited only so long as you needed, t'hy'la. I know this," Spock promised him, reaching for the bottom of Jim's shirt and silently requesting permission. Jim's nod released him to remove it, Spock devouring his skin with his eyes. They had to kiss again, forces beyond them drawing them together. When they parted, Spock also removed his tunic and reached for the fastening on Jim's pants. With efficiency and love, they were both soon bare, their bodies reflecting their readiness for the next step.

Spock pulled back the covers, careful to keep the precious quilt out of harm's way. He lay on the bed, waiting for his Human to join him. Jim lay next to him with no hesitation, reaching over to kiss Spock, tongues meeting to become better acquainted. The kiss was such as they had never before experienced, the heat between them intensifying into a super nova, their need almost reaching a zenith.

"Before we join physically, t'hy'la," Spock said between the kisses he was lavishing on his Human's writhing body, "may I bond us?"

"Please," Jim requested, moaning softly as Spock kissed the inside of his thighs, the sensations threatening to strip the last of his control. "But you need to hurry."

Spock turned his attention from the delicious flesh that was tempting him to the mind that was beckoning him. His fingers found the meld points automatically, and he blocked out his own physical awareness to concentrate on making them one for all time.

Jim relaxed as the familiar strands of Spock's mind entered his own, seeking completion and fulfillment. The pathways their previous melds had formed were the beginning to their union but this connection went further, deeper, to the very essence of them both. Jim welcomed the increased awareness of his Vulcan, the bond find a resting place in the heart of Jim's affection and desire. At the same time, he was flooded with the essence of Spock, those things he had never articulated, never been able to express to anyone, not even to his Human. Had Jim not been so flooded by the happiness of having Spock with him, he would have been saddened by the struggles that defined who Spock truly was.

"No sorrow, t'hy'la," Spock said from inside Jim's head. "You have restored me. You have made me whole."

"I am glad you can accept this gift from me," Jim said, hoping it was in a way Spock could hear.

"Yes, I heard," Spock said with a silent laugh.

"You're laughing," Jim said in amazement. He had to open his eyes to see what it looked like. But there were no outward signs of Spock's amusement.

"Only on the inside, t'hy'la," Spock said.

"I like it," Jim decided, closing his eyes to experience the completion of the bond. It was a tapestry of multiple colors, the strands of Spock interwoven with the strands of Jim, making one whole in two pieces. The process was enriching and fulfilling and more wonderful than Jim had ever imagined. There was yhe weaving of holes in their souls, closing of wounds they both had carefully hidden from the world. And of all the certainties Spock provided to his Human, Jim cherished the feeling of being fully absolved of that had happened on the planet. Spock's utter faith in his forced compliance released any remaining guilt that he may have refused to acknowledge. As the tapestry was completed, Jim knew that he would never again be alone, the fabric of their love warming him in layers of security and protection.

He was aware of Spock's slow retreat, leaving behind his essence, the tapestry finished and affirming. "Thank you love," Jim whispered when he caressed his love's body and their mental bond.

"Thank you," Spock returned, kissing him and sheltering him with their tapestry.

"It's so beautiful," Jim said, admiring that which they had created together.

"You brought the colors. I am the foundation. You are the pattern that defines it," Spock said with loving thoughts.

"Mmm…because we are perfect together," Jim agreed, kissing Spock again. "I want to make love with you."

"I have no hesitation. I only wish to avoid causing you to relive any unpleasant memories," Spock said softly.

"I'm done with what happened, love. You have given me the absolution I could not find for myself. I'm ready to share everything our love means," Jim assured him.

"As am I," Spock agreed. He kissed his t'hy'la's mouth before moving down to explore his Human's body in places he had previously missed.

"You are making me crazy," Jim breathed, raising his head to see Spock kiss his knees and lick his skin.

"I know this," Spock assured him, crawling back up to kiss him on the mouth, taking away his breath. "Do you have lubricant?"

"Bones brought it down. Should be in the drawer," Jim said, pointing vaguely in that direction. Spock nodded, opening it to find the tube as promised. Never taking his eyes off the most beautiful eyes he had ever seen, Spock coated his hands before gently and carefully coating his love's ready erection.

"I love you too," Spock returned when Jim sent mental waves of love and desire. "There is no residual pain?"

"You know there's not. I want you. Like I've never wanted anything before."

"Except coffee?" Spock teased, leaning down to kiss the hard stomach heaving in an effort to catch his breath.

"More than coffee. More than air. Please stop teasing me," Jim pleaded, his hips raised in an effort to convince him to fulfill the need between them.

Spock kissed him one last time before straddling his hips, caressing his Human's chest and stomach. Very slowly and with great care, he descended onto Jim's need, careful to remain in mental contact to assess any reservations or hesitations.

"I'm fine, love. Please stop worrying," Jim said, his hips raising on their own, seeking completion.

Spock nodded, taking Jim all the way in and gasping at the sensation. "T'hy'la," Spock breathed in wonder. The feeling of having Jim inside his body was like nothing he had ever dreamt possible. The increased arousal, the joining of their bodies to become one, the bond that strengthened as they reached the pinnacle was more than he had allowed himself to hope was possible. Spock knew true love, true acceptance, true completion. And his joy was reflected in his Human.

Spock lay over top of Jim when they were sated, Spock kissing Jim more breathless. "I had no idea."

"You've made love to women," Jim said lazily, licking the elegant ear closest to him.

"I've never bonded. And I have no experience with one I truly love."

"Mmm…it was incredible," Jim agreed, kissing him. "Much more better than I could have hoped."

"Much more better?" Spock had to ask, laughing on the inside.

"Verbal skills deteriorate with…" Jim stopped, smiling up at his Vulcan.

"Yes. I see that they do," Spock said, kissing him deeply.

"I want to continue but I don't think I can," Jim admitted, yawning and kissing Spock.

"It is late. It has been a busy day, t'hy'la. Sleep now. We have the rest of our lives to find fulfillment again."

"Yes, the rest of our lives," Jim agreed. "Because we will live happily ever after."

"Most assuredly," Spock agreed, falling asleep almost instantly, wrapped in the arms of the one he loved.