Vulcans Don't Sing the Blues

Fandom: Star Trek TOS

Pairing: Kirk/Spock

Rating: NC-17

Jim Kirk settled more comfortably in the command chair as he watched the sphere of the planet Vulcan grow larger on the main view screen. His palms were sweating, and he wiped his hands on his thighs in irritation. He shouldn't be this nervous, especially considering the last time the ship had been in orbit around Vulcan it had nearly cost him both his life and Spock's as well.

Compared to that, this trip should be a walk in the park.

Except it didn't feel like it. Well, every man had a right to be nervous when meeting his future in-laws. Not to mention that his future spouse's family was one of the oldest and most powerful families on Vulcan, headed by T'Pau herself. Spock really should have told him he belonged to the House of Surak--Yes, that Surak, thank you very much.

Spock was seated at the Science console huddled over the viewer either oblivious to his new bondmate's attack of nerves or suffering from one himself. Kirk allowed himself the luxury of drinking in his bondmate's long, lean form and gave Spock a little mental goose along the immature bond which was still shimmering just under the flow of Kirk's consciousness.

Spock's spine stiffened, and he flinched almost imperceptibly as if he had been pinched on the ass, but when he turned to glance at the captain's chair over his shoulder he was confronted by the picture of innocent indifference. He sent a little shiver of contact over the bond and projected to Kirk. //That is an inappropriate use of our marital bond, T'hy'la.//

//Why do you assume that was me?// Kirk shot back covering his faint grin with the back of his hand.

That brought Spock around in his chair, and he favored Kirk with a disapproving eyebrow. //Besides the fact that neither the Federation nor Vulcan approves of bigamy, there is no one else roaming freely through my mind at the moment.//

//Damn straight, better not be anytime soon either.//

Lieutenant Uhura's voice derailed Kirk's train of thought, and he turned slightly toward the communications station. Uhura nodded and said, "We are being hailed by Vulcan Space Traffic Control Central."

"On main screen, Lieutenant." Kirk replied.

The main view screen flickered to reveal the face of a young Vulcan woman. Her slender face was framed by an elaborate hairstyle that still left her elegant up-swept ears revealed. Chekov's quiet inhalation pulled a tiny smile from Kirk's lips. Like all Vulcan's, Kirk thought in agreement, she was beautiful.

The Air Traffic controller inclined her head slightly and said, "Federation Starship Enterprise Vulcan bids you welcome. Please stand by for vector and approach corridor to establish orbit."

Kirk smiled, "Enterprise to Vulcan Control Center, greetings, we await your approach instructions." Turning to the helm he nodded at Chekov, "Accept approach instructions from Vulcan control and plot course accordingly."

"Aye, sir."

The image of the Air Traffic controller flickered onscreen again and she turned slightly until she caught sight of Spock sitting at the Science console, "Captain Kirk, I do have a party with a message for your First Officer, Commander Spock. May I put her on screen?"

Kirk nodded in agreement, half expecting to see the image of Spock's mother, but was startled to see a younger woman, although she did look very much like Amanda. Her skin was that same smooth cream color and her hair was a honey blond, but where Spock's mother had clear gray-blue eyes this young woman's eyes were so deeply blue they appeared violet.

Frowning, Kirk watched the Vulcan mask slip ever so slightly from Spock's visage and a warm smile tugged at the corner of the Vulcan's lips. "Jesse, I greet thee."

"And I thee. I request permission to come aboard and bring thee greetings of thy family, and also attend to an errand entrusted to me by Eysetu."

Kirk glanced shrewdly at the screen. "And who is this Spock…" he didn't add, '' but was somehow certain that the thought and the emotion that accompanied it bled through their bond. He was doubly certain when the smug grin tugged the corners of Spock's mouth even closer to a full smile. //Damn.//

"Ah, Captain, may I present my cousin, Jesse Grayson Cha Selek T'sai Surak Cia Shakirii."

Kirk sighed, and then smiled at the young woman. She nodded, face as placid and imperturbable as Spock's, before saying, "Just…Jesse."

"Permission to board granted, Jesse." Kirk said glancing at Spock. He knew it amused his bondmate, even if he wouldn't admit it, that Kirk still could not pronounce the Standard version of Spock's entire name, let alone the Vulcan version.

As the main view screen cleared away to reveal the gentle curve of the Northern Hemisphere of Vulcan, Kirk rose motioning Spock to follow. "Sulu you have the conn," the captain said over his shoulder as he and Spock disappeared into the turbolift. "Main transporter room." Kirk said and the turbolift churned into life.

When they walked into the transporter room, the last faint glow of the transporter beam was just fading away, and Spock's cousin materialized on the transporter pad. As Jesse stepped down Kirk was surprised to see how tall she was, almost as tall as Kirk himself. And that she was dressed in Vulcan clothing: dark blue, loose fitting trousers and tunic with an indigo silk scarf draped around her shoulders, fastened with a large brooch of silver intricately wrapped around a large black stone.

Spock stepped forward and raised his hand palm outward. Jesse moved closer and wrapped her hand around his at the wrist until the back of her hand touched his. Kirk recognized this as a typical Vulcan "hug" shared between family members.

Turning to the captain Jesse smiled, "Cousin, I greet thee."

Having been instructed by Spock how to respond Kirk bowed slightly and replied, "And I thee."

"Pock'Cha, Eyseta Amanda has asked me deliver this to you for the reception this evening." She turned to include Kirk in the conversation, "It is also expected that your bondmate and any friends from the ship that accompany you be appropriately attired."

A faint trace of annoyance colored Spock's features and he said dryly, "I intended to wear my dress uniform tonight."

"As you see, you will not."

Spock accepted one of the two garment bags she carried over her shoulder with good grace. "Did my Father send you because he knew that I would not refuse you, Nanimo, or did he send you because you were R'shani, and you could 'pull rank' on me?"

She inclined her head slightly with no more smile on her face than he permitted himself, "Both alternatives were carefully considered and the logical conclusion was that if one was not sufficient the other would be." She raised the other bag, "Is there somewhere I could leave my garments as well?"

"I will take them to my quarters. Do you have time to stay for a while or is your presence required elsewhere immediately."

"Actually, I have never been on a Starship of this type I was hoping that you might be able to show me around." Jesse glanced at Kirk questioningly.

Kirk graced her with a warm smile. "I'd be happy to give you the quarter-credit tour," he said his face glowing with pride. Spock nodded, and disappeared into the turbolift yet again.


The tour ended in the officer's rec room on Deck Six. The alpha shift had just ended when Jesse came aboard so that those members of the bridge crew not in the Mess or quarters were here, relaxing before dinner.

McCoy was seated at a table with Uhura and Scotty, playing cards. They glanced up as Kirk and Jesse came in. McCoy waved them over, "Hey Jim, wanna play Caboshi? We've got room for a couple more."

"Sorry, Bones, I can't, but I would like to introduce you to someone. Everyone this is Jesse… uhmm… Spock's cousin, Jesse… Doctor Leonard McCoy…Lieutenant Commander Scott and Lieutenant Uhura."

McCoy rose holding out a hand, but Jesse stepped back slightly bowing, hands tucked behind her back. McCoy frowned then shrugged. Before he could comment the door whooshed opened and Spock entered the room. He stopped just to the side of the doctor,

but before he could say anything Jesse smiled at McCoy, "Well, Pock'Cha you never told me you had such charming friends."

McCoy's eyebrow shot up just as much as the Vulcan's. "Pock'Cha?" he asked. Spock favored him with a bland look, and then turned to his cousin.

"Jesse, please…" Spock began, but before he could continue McCoy interrupted.

"Pock'cha--is that a Vulcan word, does it mean cousin?"

Spock regarded him gravely. "It is a childhood diminutive of my name."

Jesse nodded "Like Jimmy for James or Billy for William."

"And it is long past time that you stopped employing it in reference to me," Spock said to Jesse. She merely glanced mildly at him then uttered a very human sounding sigh. Turning to McCoy she offered him a consoling pat on the arm.

"Well, Doctor, I see that you have as yet been unsuccessful in performing that necessary operation on my cousin."

"And what operation would that be, my dear?"

"The one to remove the stick from his a…" Spock's hand came up to Jesse's shoulder in a threatening way, but she elbowed him in the ribs…"do it and die,

"You know I think I could learn to like this girl, Jim." McCoy said cheerfully, and Spock shot him a look that could have frosted the matter-antimatter chambers.


McCoy grumbled under his breath and raked his finger under the collar of his dress uniform tunic yet again as he paced the length of the transporter room. Kirk was leaning against the transporter console looking spit and polish in command gold. Even the decorations adorning his tunic were aligned perfectly. The only thing that marred his image was the slight tremor that shook his hands when he smoothed his hair. McCoy grinned, "Gotch ya!"

"Can it, Bones. Under the circumstances I think I'm entitled to little case of the jitters."

"Yeah, I guess so. It isn't every day you marry a Vulcan. I mean if I had known that Spock was son of Sarek Vulcan Ambassador, and grandson of T'Pau ruler of damn near and on top of it all a descendant of the

"Shut up, Bones." Kirk hissed, grated by McCoy's shit-eating grin. But the doctor merely scoffed, waving a hand.

"Ah come on, Jim. Take it easy. Spock loves you; you love him. Hell, you're already bonded, ain't nothing they can do now but roll over and take it with a grin. I can guarantee you that Amanda ain't gonna let Sarek make any waves, not after what happened on the diplomatic run to the Babel Conference."

With a sigh Kirk nodded. Spock had told him that his parents did not object to a same sex bonding, especially since, as a genetically engineered hybrid, Spock was sterile and could not produce an heir for the House of Surak anyway. The heir to their house would come from Selek, Sarek's younger brother, whose son was married and had two young children. More family Jim would meet tonight, and over the course of this shoreleave on Vulcan for his and Spock's official Koon-ut-Kali-fee. Besides even Spock did not know of Kirk's personal communiqués from Amanda telling him how please she and Sarek were Spock had chosen a mate he truly loved.

The door to the transporter room whooshed open and Kirk paused in his pacing struck into absolute stillness by the sight of his bondmate in the official robes of his house. Both

Spock and Jesse were dressed in flowing black, Jesse in a floor length dress of black velvet cut low in the front, with the pleated bodice embroidered with the sigil of the House of Surak in silver thread. Her head was covered by a black lace scarf wrapped at the throat and pinned with the same silver and onyx brooch she had worn earlier.

Spock looked magnificent in black, tight fitting trousers and a long tunic tailored to his slender, long-waisted body. The front placket of his tunic was also embroidered with the sigil of the House of Surak and he wore a large silver and onyx ring on the middle finger of his right hand, the first jewelry that Kirk had ever seen him wear.

Jesse had her hand on Spock's arm. When she dropped her arm Kirk moved forward extending the first two fingers of his right hand to Spock. Jessed stepped back and Spock raised his hand touching his fingers to Kirk's.

McCoy shook his head slightly and gallantly offered an arm to Spock's cousin. Jesse accepted with a faint hint of amusement in her features. And the four stepped onto the transporter pads.


Kirk had never been to Spock's boyhood home, and he had to admit that he had severely underestimated the wealth and privilege of the Clan he had all but wed into. The house was a low brick affair rambling over a large well-tended yard enclosed by a tall brick wall. The house appeared to have been built in tiers, three of them. Although it was not more than one floor, several areas of the house were built on raised landscaped terraces with covered staircases of stone between the levels.

The house was rectangular, almost like an ancient Roman villa with an interior garden set inside. The dark tiled roof was of flagstone inset with solar tiles to provide electricity. Tall deciduous trees bearing different varieties of fruit were grouped on the terraces to provide shade, and a series of slender hoses ran along the underside of the roof to both water the trees and provide a cooling mist for the house.

Lanterns of vibrant red silk were strung along the interior walkway all around the atrium providing both light and decoration for the reception. Inside Kirk could see a small crowd of Vulcans and among them the solitary human presence, Amanda. She turned, smiling gently, as they rounded the turn in the walkway and entered the garden.

Amanda hurried to their side, touching Spock's arm, and then unashamedly hugging Kirk tightly. Sarek saw them come in and also excused himself from the small cluster of people he was talking to so that he could greet the new arrivals. Kirk bowed respectfully to his new father-in-law, noting that T'Pau was ensconced in a high backed chair in the corner, dark eyes watching everything that went on in the room.

Spock bowed to his father and greeted him formally. Sarek extended a hand for a more familial greeting and Spock could not completely hide his surprise, but quickly he extended a hand giving his father the traditional Vulcan 'hug'.

"I trust that your journey was uneventful?" Sarek said to Spock, but glancing at Kirk so as to include him in the conversation. He turned, motioning slightly for the party to follow. Jesse separated herself from them, walking over to a young Vulcan male perhaps a few years older than she and Spock. He turned offering her a gentle almost smile, and greeted her. A young Vulcan woman carrying a toddler approached, also giving Jesse a slight smile, and at Jesse's quiet greeting transferred the now squirming child to the human woman's arms. They walked back to Kirk, Spock and McCoy.

"James," Jesse said, "This is my brother Syvan, and his wife T'Vir. And this…" she lifted the toddler turning to Kirk and McCoy, "is the younger of their two children, T'Peli. Their son Syvik is around somewhere."

The Vulcans bowed slightly, and then turned to Spock. "Cousin, we have not seen you in some time. You must have many interesting things to tell us about your journeys. Please come and sit with us."


It was very late when the reception broke up. Amanda hurried to make sure that the guest rooms were straightened out for McCoy and several other family members while Jesse settled on one of the large sofas in the smaller living room. Kicking off her shoes she leaned back closing her eyes, "Eysetu, I will stay here tonight so that I can visit with Spock and his friends," she said. McCoy glanced at her wondering just what made this young human woman so secure in this place that she would order Sarek of Vulcan around in his own home.

Sarek glanced up from the datapadd he was studying and nodded, "You are not deceiving anyone, Nanimo; I know you do not want to spend the night at your father's house because Syvan, T'Vir and the children are staying there."

She let the faint trace of a grin show. "The rotten little monsters are into everything."

Sarek's eyebrow climbed into his bangs in a gesture disturbingly familiar to one Spock so often wore. "They are but two years of age. You were just as active as a child as they."

"Oh no, Pock'cha and I were never that bad."

With an amused snort Sarek shook his head, "I believe that Eyseta Amanda would have a great deal to say about that assertion, and I also believe that, were they sentient, her rosebushes would still bear you both ill will some thirty and two years later."

"That was Spock's fault," she said flatly. Spock leaned forward a frown brushing his face. Jesse squared her shoulders, but Spock growled at her causing McCoy to flinch.

"You were the one with delusions of flight." He raised a hand to forestall her objections,

"You were the one who was determined that one could create a hot air balloon from tablecloths and a firepot. I had nothing to do with that ill-fated venture."

"If you had plotted the flight path correctly it would have worked. You didn't take into count the wind direction…"

Spock scoffed, "I was very careful in making those calculations…"

Sarek grunted, "Enough. So that is what happened to my firepot."

Kirk clasped his bondmate on the knee and Spock settled back onto the sofa beside him, "I thought you had nothing to do with it."

"So much for Vulcans not being able to lie." McCoy said grinning at Spock. "You know this weekend is turning out to be real enlightening. Here I was thinking that Vulcans were the only perfect people in the universe, hoo boy."

Spock merely glanced at him with one eyebrow cocked, "Whoever led you to believe that Vulcans were perfect?"

The doctor choked on his drink, "Whoever led me to believe…you pointy-eared…"

"Come on, Bones; don't start a quarrel with my bondmate's family before we're actually married. At least wait until I have him trapped before insulting his father, just so they don't kick us out of here."

Sarek regarded Kirk with a serene and almost emotionless expression, "You are already married, James. You and Spock became bonded on your own, the ceremony is of little consequence except that it allows the newly bonded a means of displaying their bond to the family. And the bond will be verified by the oldest mother of the clan so that it will not be disputed."

"So will we do the bell ringing thing in the desert?"

Sarek frowned slightly. "Bell ringing 'thing'--Spock clarify…" he said to Spock. Spock cocked his head at the captain then shrugged slightly at his father.

"I believe that Jim refers to the Kali-farr."

"Ah yes, that will be done tomorrow. It is merely a finalization of a pre-existing bond. No bond is ever created at Koon-ut-kali-fee. Even if one mate chooses the Kali-fee, the bond is formed later after the mating--not the preferred method."

Finally Sarek rose, "It grows late, and tomorrow will be an eventful day. I will retire for the night. Dr. McCoy, if you require anything my son or niece can provide it for you.

Nanimo come with me, I will bring you blankets for the sofa."

McCoy excused himself, as Jesse followed her uncle down the hall to the bedrooms. Kirk rose pulling Spock up by the hand, and followed the others down the hallway, stopping at the bedroom Spock had occupied growing up.

Oddly enough the décor in the room was similar to Spock's quarters on the Enterprise. The color red must have some cultural significance to Vulcans and Kirk reminded himself to ask Spock about it when they weren't so tired.

Kirk quickly stripped off his uniform tunic following Spock to the sleeping area. Like most Vulcan furniture, was the bed was low to the ground, a large square foundation piled high with numerous pillows and two heavy quilts. Kirk thought that the quilts seemed incongruous for such a hot place as Vulcan until Spock opened the sliding glass door from his bedroom to the atrium and the first cold breeze swept the interior of the room.

"Do you always sleep with the glass doors open?" He asked, and Spock nodded, giving Kirk one of his half-smiles.

"Yes, always, even when I was a very young child. It became a habit so that I did not have to rise at night to let I'Chaya out for his nightly ramblings."


"My pet sehlat," Spock said, as he slipped off his tunic folding it carefully over the wooden rack placed beside the door. He finished undressing and slid under the quilts lifting the corner for Kirk to get into the bed.

"Your parents aren't going to be upset if we sleep together before the ceremony, are they? I don't want them to think that anything inappropriate is going on."

"Jim, my father was very explicit; in the eyes of Vulcan we are bonded. We can sleep together if we desire it."

"So we can fuck like bunnies and nobody will raise an eyebrow?" Kirk said, waggling his eyebrows. Spock let a smile lift the corners of his mouth.

"Yes, we can…"

Rolling over Kirk pressed the Vulcan down on the soft surface of the bed, "Come on Spock, say it…say the word…I want to hear you say it."

The rich green stripes of Spock's blush stood out like fever stains on his deeply etched cheeks, "Yes, Jim, we can… fuck."

"Oh yeah, do you know how hot you make me, Spock?" Kirk asked, jamming one knee between Spock's lean thighs. Obediently the Vulcan spread his legs. "You make me this hot…" Kirk pressed forward so that his bondmate could feel the rigid length of flesh straining out from Kirk's body. Leaning downward Kirk took Spock's mouth in a deep kiss, tongue tracing the fuller lower lip, teeth tugging, until Spock opened and Kirk slipped his tongue inside. Their tongues met, twined around each other and parted, Spock dragged in a deep breath and Kirk laughed breathlessly.

Sliding down the length of Spock's hotter-than-human body Kirk brushed his fingers through the dark whorls of hair covering his torso, the restless fingers slid through the curls finding and pinching Spock's nipples until the Vulcan arched his back uttering a ragged moan. Kirk's lips followed the trail of his questing digits until his mouth closed over first one nipple then its twin. Spock writhed panting, "Jim, please put your mouth on me."

Smiling Kirk looked up at his mate, raising an eyebrow, "What do you want, Spock? Uhmm, tell me."

"Aaah, Jim please…suck me."

Slowly, so very slowly, Kirk's mouth drifted lower toward his prize, the long, slender member which lay rigid and emerald green against Spock's flat belly. Grasping the hard flesh at the base Kirk's lips nuzzled back the protective sheath baring the glistening organ for his lips and tongue. At first Kirk had been a little put off by the strong, alien scent of Spock's intimate parts, but he had quickly come to realize the natural lubricant that eased the erect penis from a Vulcan male's sheath was addictively warm and sweet to the human taste.

Lifting his hand Kirk scraped a thick dollop of Spock's natural lubricant onto his fingers and eased one into the tight ring of muscle guarding the entrance to his mate's body. The finger slid in to the second knuckle, and Kirk swiped over Spock's prostate. Spock hissed thrusting his hips up and burying the finger to the hilt. Quickly Kirk pulled out and wiped up more of the lube that was flowing freely over the length of Spock's penis. His two fingers disappeared inside Spock easily, as Spock's body opened to his mate, and Kirk rose up on his knees, pushing Spock's thighs open wide. Moaning Kirk thrust his two fingers in and out of Spock's opening loosing the muscles. Spock moaned as well, drawing his knees up holding Jim in the cradle of his thighs.

Gently Kirk stroked one hand up the soft smooth skin of his mate's inner thigh, ruffling the coarse dark brown hair on his downward stroke. When Kirk felt Spock relax into the touch he drew a deep breath around the hard flesh in his mouth and sucked harder. Spock arched up off the bed groaning loudly until Jim released his tortured flesh, and crawled up the length of the Vulcan's lean body.

With a smile Kirk nuzzled the skin behind Spock's delicately pointed ear, and then took the tip into his mouth. Spock reacted with a hiss and moaned, "Oh yes, yes T'hy'la."

With a soft grunt Jim pushed his throbbing member into the tight channel, groaning as Spock's body parted to accept him inside. Slowly he pulled out then slid back in with a grunt, thrusting forward until his balls slapped against Spock's ass.

Spock's hands raked though Kirk's hair, then settled onto the meld points on his face.

Their minds drifted together almost immediately, and Spock wrapped his long, lean thighs around Kirk's hips, thrusting up off the bed to meet his mate's downward strokes.

With a loud groan Kirk tore his mouth away from Spock's and flooded his mate with his seed. Almost immediately Spock arched up and Kirk could feel the hot splashes of his mate's semen against his belly and chest.

Panting and shivering Kirk dropped like a stone onto Spock's heaving chest. The Vulcan grunted as the air was driven out of his body, but quickly settled back stroking his mate's back, reveling in smooth glide of golden skin over the hard muscles beneath. Finally, sighing Kirk rolled off Spock onto his back, pulling the Vulcan into his arms. Spooned together chest to back they fell asleep.

Spock drifted in a hazy twilight just long enough to feel his father's amusement at Kirk's inadequate shielding. Wincing, Spock realized that his mate had probably broadcast their lovemaking to every Vulcan in the house. With a sigh he made a mental note to work on Jim's shielding in the morning. Just as he fell asleep Spock thought he detected a faint, satisfied thrum from his mother, and he blushed furiously.


Somehow Spock knew he was dreaming, something that was, of itself, odd. He rarely dreamed; as if the myth that Vulcan's can't dream seemed to pervade even his thoughts. Although, if he had to dream, he could not think of a more suitable location than the flower strew path he trod. Far above head Spock could see a cloudless expanse of sky, a deep, rich cornflower blue that presaged summer weather on Earth or a multitude of Class-M planets with a yellow sun like Earth. The gentle breeze that wrapped itself around Spock was warm and slightly moist with unshed rain.

Suddenly a subtle shift in the wind direction brought a faint scent to Spock, something vaguely unpleasant, and, curious, he turned into the breeze following the lingering odor. Stumbling over the rough uneven ground Spock waded through the lush flower laden vines entwined in the knee-deep grasses.

A blast of cold air hit him full in the face and Spock almost gagged at the sickly-sweet scent of decay. He had been a Starfleet officer far too long to lose control. And even in an age when a phaser blast could disintegrate a body leaving no trace of a corpse, he had seen far too many deaths due to other causes to be unfamiliar with the smell of dead, rotting flesh.

Hurriedly Spock climbed over a rise and came to a small clearing in the meadow. There tangled amidst the creeping vines, and huge Stargazer lilies was the black clad body of a human being. From the smallness of the wasted, rotting limbs and the length of the honey bond hair Spock surmised that the body was of a young woman.

Frowning slightly he moved to the body, where it lay wrapped in black velvet, the wasted, rotted face half obscured by a black lace scarf fastened with a silver and onyx brooch.

"No!" Spock bolted upright in the bed, clutching the heavy quilt in white knuckled fingers. "No, she cannot…it must not be allowed."

Kirk jerked awake, sitting up unsteadily, and then turned to grasp his bondmate's shaking shoulders. "Spock, wake up…"

"I am awake, Jim." Quickly Spock flung the quilt away, reaching for the dark-colored sleeping robe he had left laying on the foot of the bed. He clothed himself and stalked out the half shut door.

Kirk launched himself from the bed, staggering into his sweatpants and robe before following his half-dressed mate down the hall. As Kirk rounded the turn in the corridor he could just make out Spock's form disappearing into the living room, and beyond he could see Jesse sitting wrapped in a blanket on the sofa.

Leaning back against the doorframe Kirk watched as Spock settled on his knees in front of his cousin's still form. "Jesse, this thing that you wish, it cannot be allowed."

"It is my choice, Spock." She replied softly hands settling on his arms. "It is a part of what I believe."

"It is uncivilized."

She smiled then gently touching his cheek, drawing Spock's eyes to her face, "Only to one who does not believe…"

His face paled further and Spock settled back on his heels, brushing her hands away from his face. "How can you believe that this is right?"

"From dust we came to dust we shall return. It is as old as history for my people."

"Vulcan is your home, we are your people. It is not our way."

"I have no katra to go into the Hall of Ancient Thought."

"Perhaps you do. You are, after all, a R'shani. Perhaps the years that you have lived on Vulcan, the time you have spent in service to our people you have become more Vulcan than you think."

"But I am not a Vulcan, Pock'cha. Yes, I have studied the mind rules, learned all the tenets of Surak, practiced each day of my life those things that are Vulcan; I have needed them. And yes, I have been of some service to the Vulcan people, but it does not change the fact that I am human born."

Smiling faintly Jesse ran her fingers over Spock's mussed hair. "Your sleep was disrupted by my thoughts unawares. Let me sooth this for you."

Bowing his head Spock allowed her to reach for the meld points on his face, he stilled as she touched him, and Kirk held his breath certain that he was seeing something not often beheld by out-worlders.

Finally, Spock bowed his head. "Forgive me for my outburst, R'shani. It was unseemly."

"No more so than all my outbursts you have born so patiently through out our childhood."

"We are children no longer."

Rising to his feet Spock gently disengaged her hand from his face, and bowed slightly. Jesse drew her covers back up to her chin and settled back on the sofa. Her eyes slipped closed.

Kirk wrapped his arm around his shivering bondmate's shoulders and guided him back to the bedroom. Spock settled down on the foot of the bed, arms wrapped tightly about his chest, closed from Kirk, and the human frowned. At no time since they had bonded had Spock seemed so inscrutable, so far from reach.

"What's wrong?" he asked. Spock merely cast a sideways glance at him, and then dropped his hands into his lap.

"It is between Jesse and me."

"But I'm your mate now, you can tell me." Kirk said, miffed at being kept outside this part of Spock's life. Spock sat back, anger coloring his face just enough that Kirk could see it.

"I have tried to teach you the tenets of Vulcan--we are bonded, wed in my people's eyes. Yet you do not understand the most basic Vulcan principle of privacy."

"God! I'm sorry Spock, but the idea that one mate can keep something secret from another is alien to me…" Kirk snapped then he mentally slapped himself when Spock's back stiffened like a ramrod.

"As I am alien, Jim. It is as it is. Accept it or not, I will not violate Jesse's privacy even for you."

A faint tapping on the doorframe brought them both around. McCoy was standing in the door dressed in pajamas and a robe. He leaned against the wall bouncing lightly on the balls of his feet, "Trouble in paradise, gentlemen?"

"Come on in, and close the door, Bones." Kirk said motioning the doctor into a chair beside the bed. Spock sat, head down, not looking at either human. McCoy shifted in his chair cocking an eyebrow at Kirk. The captain shrugged with embarrassment and sat down on the bed.

"Sorry if we woke you, Bones."

"Me and everybody else in the house, too." McCoy smiled, "Don't worry about it. Big day tomorrow and all, but Jim all that noise ain't gonna impress the in-laws."

"It's a private conversation between me and Spock."

"Ain't no such animal in a house of telepaths, Jim."

Spock shot the doctor with a withering glare "That is not particularly true. Vulcans are taught to shield their thoughts and emotions to keep them from being projected to others, even my mother, who had no psi abilities at all, can shield her thoughts. Jesse is the only full telepath in this house and she has been taught to shield as well as any Vulcan member of this family."

"Wait a minute," McCoy said, "You're telling us that Jesse is a telepath like you?"

"No, doctor, I am telling you that Jesse has psi abilities that far exceed mine, in fact, exceed those of most Vulcans. That is why she is a R'shani."

"R'shani," Kirk said, "You mentioned that several times now. What does that mean?"

"A R'shani is a specialized type of Vulcan mind healer."

"But why is Jesse a R'shani?"

"Because her psi abilities are such that she is specially suited for this role in Vulcan society. It is very rare among Vulcans for one to have sufficient psi ability to perform the function of an R'shani, and it is even rarer among non-Vulcans. Whenever anyone, whatever their race, comes to Vulcan who has sufficient psi ability to become an R'shani they are approached by the temple for training. Jesse is not the only human R'shani on Vulcan and there are several others of different races as well. It is such an important service to the Vulcan people that any being with sufficient psi ability is approached. To by-pass a being simply because they are not Vulcan would not be logical."

"Oh, so that explains it," McCoy said nodding in satisfaction. Both Kirk and Spock looked up at him. Kirk half rose from his position on the bed.

"Explains what, Bones."

"Why Spock's cousin is so secure around here that she orders Sarek around like she owns the place. If she is one of these R'shani…"

Spock shook his head, "Jesse does not order my father around, at least not in the sense you speak of, and not because she is R'shani. He allows her to order him around because as my mother so often has said, 'she has had him wrapped around her little finger since she was four years old'."

Kirk drew a deep breath, "Look, it's really late. I'm sorry we disturbed you, Bones. We have a lot to do tomorrow, and truly the only reason we even got onto this subject is because Spock had a nightmare."

McCoy cocked an eyebrow just as snidely as Spock ever had, "Now wait one dang minute, you can't just drag me in here and then boot my butt out again. Why did Jesse even come to Vulcan? I mean clearly she's related to Amanda, right Spock?" The Vulcan nodded and McCoy continued, "So why does she call Selek and T'Pel her parents? She has human parents, doesn't she?"

Kirk turned to Spock, "I'm kind of curious about that myself, Spock." Both humans glanced at the other man, but Spock was an absolute wall of Vulcan stoicism. His face was as distant as Kirk could ever remember seeing him.

"That is not my story to tell. If you wish to know this you must ask Jesse. She will tell you."

"Don't give me that, Spock." Kirk began, but the Vulcan turned on him.

"No, I will not violate my cousin's privacy. You know that privacy is highly valued on Vulcan. On a planet of telepaths, as the doctor puts it, to violate privacy is a grave misdeed."

Tired, nervous and more than a little annoyed at Spock's reticence Kirk seized his bondmate by the arm, catching his wrist between Kirk's strong, blunt fingers, and jerking Spock around to face him. Spock blanched, and McCoy half rose from the chair.

"For God's sake Jim, not like that…"

Kirk gasped releasing his grip, "Oh God, forgive me Spock."

"There is nothing to forgive, it is past."

And Kirk nodded knowing that it was forgiven, would never be spoken of again, was set aside in the Vulcan's mind because that was a part of Vulcan culture--as alien as it was to human nature. But Vulcans were alien, Spock was an alien. Closing his eyes Kirk shuddered and drew in a deep breath, then turned to his bondmate. Spock was sitting head cocked on one side, that half-smile gracing his lips as if he knew what Kirk was thinking, and for one minute Kirk was horrified to believe that perhaps his thoughts had bled over their marital bond. Then McCoy stood up, distracting Kirk from the moment.

"Well, I'm going to go back to bed, boys. I'll see you in the morning."

Smiling, Kirk shrugged. "It is morning, Bones."

"Then I'll see you later in the morning."

Finally in the darkness alone again Kirk held his two fingers out to Spock, and felt his mate shift until they were spooned together, Spock's head resting on Kirk's shoulder stroking their fingers against each other, and Kirk felt his mind slip silently into Spock's or perhaps Spock slid into him, and they drifted down into sleep, and he was not sure who was leading whom.


McCoy staggered into the living room to see Sarek and Amanda sitting at the breakfast table while Jesse carried covered dishes from the kitchen. He was dressed in a thick blue bathrobe over his pajamas and was grateful to see that no one else was bathed or dressed, especially since he hadn't had the slightest idea how to wash in the Vulcan shower in the guest bathroom. It was like nothing he had every seen before. Jesse smiled offering McCoy a shallow bowl of steaming dark colored liquid which he presumed was tea. And it was actually very good, heavy with honey and faintly scented with spices.

"Good morning," he rasped, taking a long appreciative sip of the tea. "Uhmm that hit the spot." Sarek glanced at the doctor over his data padd of morning news and Amanda bent over whispering in his ear. The Vulcan nodded giving McCoy a slight smile.

Jesse settled into her chair scooping a small bowl of blue colored grain, that vaguely resembled oatmeal, up and picking up several Kreyla biscuits to spoon up the cereal.

"Like this," she said to McCoy, offering him the serving bowl and helping his serve his food. He sniffed at the cereal then shrugged: it smelled good. He glanced at the younger woman and she nodded, "It's a lot like oatmeal or porridge. Really it's very good, my favorite breakfast food."

"Then I'm sure that I'll like it."

Sarek shot him an eyebrow over his bowl of tea and the human blushed deep crimson. As if he had not noticed the other man's discomfort Sarek nodded to his niece, "Nanimo, can you summon James and Spock. We have much to do to prepare for the ceremony."

"Certainly, Eysetu."

But both Spock and Kirk appeared in the doorway saving her the trouble of having to rise. Sarek offered both men a glance, and Kirk flushed, uncomfortably aware of the fact that he had laid his hands on Spock violently in the early morning hours, and equally sure that Spock's father knew it. Flinching he settled at the table just as Amanda appeared with a platter of cut fruit. She placed the tray on the table and settled back into her place beside her husband. "The ceremony will take place at noon so we have a couple of hours to prepare."

Sarek nodded, "We will all depart from the house and walk to the Place of Honor." Turning to McCoy he asked, "Did you find everything satisfactory in the guestroom?"

"Uh, well, I do have a little problem. I'm not quite sure about the shower."

"I will explain," Sarek said. "Are you finished with your meal?"


Kirk stood in the doorway of the Spock's bathroom as his mate stripped for his shower. Behind the lean form of the Vulcan Kirk could see the complex shower arrangement that had graced every bathroom in the house. He and McCoy had checked to be certain. Neither one of them had any idea how the shower fixtures functioned.

Now Spock stood in the tiled alcove that made up one entire wall of the bathroom. The recessed alcove was tiled on the floor and three walls, the opening faced out into the bathroom proper. At the head of the alcove was a shelf that contained a large ceramic basin. Above the basin was a second smaller shelf holding various bottles and containers.

Above Spock's head was a faucet. In the center of the concave floor was a large metal drain.

Settling on the closed lid of the toilet Kirk watched as Spock opened the tap and ran water over his head, leaning forward so that the water fell in the closed basin. Carefully he turned off the water and washed his hair, combing it smooth with his fingers. Once he was finished with his hair he carefully applied depilatory cream to his face and washed his face, finally he carefully soaped every inch of his body before running more water into the basin to rinse the soap away. Carefully dipping the sponge into the tepid water in the basin Spock rinsed the soap away. The cascade of water flowed over Spock's olive skin, and tinkled to the floor, disappearing down the drain. Spock finished his bath by opening the drain in the basin and clearing out the rest of the water. The entire process appeared to Kirk to have taken less than two gallons of water.

Stepping out of the shower he pulled one of the thick, fluffy towels off the rack and motioned to Kirk, "Now for you."

"I'm not sure that I can do that as efficiently as you, but I'll give it a shot. I wonder how Bones is doing."

"I can go and observe him if you wish." Spock said turning to the cabinet above the vanity table.

"I don't think so," Kirk said in reply to Spock's statement.

While Kirk bathed Spock dried himself then quietly pulled a blue jar of salve from the shelf. With practiced movements he reached down, slim fingers finding the entrance to his body. He was uncertain that Kirk would react like a Vulcan male during the bonding, but if he did Spock wanted to be prepared. Kirk would be very upset if he injured Spock in anyway. When he had finished with his preparations Spock turned back to the shower.

Kirk was standing beside the basin carefully applying depilatory cream to his face. After a little fumbling he managed to finish bathing to his satisfaction and stepped out of the alcove where Spock waited for him with a large warm towel.

Finally, Kirk followed Spock into the bedroom where identical black silk robes lay spread over the newly made bed. Spock dropped his towel and lifted the robe over his head smoothing it along the length of his slender chest. The robe shimmered softly in the subdued lighting. Kirk grinned and slipped his robe on turning to the bed for undergarments. When he could find none, he cast a glance at Spock.

The Vulcan smiled gently flushing and Kirk shrugged. "Does this mean something I should know about ahead of time?"

"It allows for easy access." Spock breathed in his ear. Kirk shivered despite the already high heat in the air. With an enigmatic look Spock carefully laced on his sandals. Kirk did the same and they walked out of the room.


The air was hot, the red Vulcan sun glaring off the sands of the great desert. Kirk could well understand why the high desert was called The Forge. In the distance, just above the shimmering horizon line, he could see the ring of huge stone pillars that made up the Place of Honor for Spock's clan.

By the time the procession had walked (with the exception of T'Pau who was carried in an ornate black ebony palanquin) to the ring of stone Kirk's robe was soaked in sweat. Even the Vulcans were looking a little wilted.

As the wedding party gathered around the outer edge of the ring the chair bearers carried T'Pau to her seat beside a large stone dais that supported a tall wooden post and metal gong. T'Pau rose from her chair and walked to the dais. She turned and held out a withered hand to Spock. He approached and knelt in the sand. "Spock, thou hast come today to declare thy bond and thy mate to this House."

"Yes." Spock said simply. T'Pau nodded, "Give me thy thoughts." Her small, gnarled fingers unerringly found his meld points, and her eyes dropped closed.

"Thou have made thy choice." The elderly Vulcan woman released his face, and he rose following her to where Kirk stood. Carefully T'Pau took the mallet from the curved armature on the gong, moving to hand it to Kirk, but Spock intercepted and took the mallet. For one horrible moment Kirk thought Spock was going challenge. He took a deep breath when Spock rang the gong, the boom echoing hollowly to the far mountainside.

Despite the fact that the assembled beings were predominately Vulcan a ripple of the electric energy ran through the crowd. Kirk flinched. He and Spock had "discussed" this aspect of their bonding on numerous occasions. In all Vulcan marriages there was a dominant partner and a submissive one, even same-sex bondings. Spock was declaring his submission to Kirk, following Kirk's command in their marriage as he did on the bridge of the Enterprise.

Kirk had said he did not care if he was seen as the submissive partner, but Spock wanted Kirk to be viewed as an equal in the eyes of Vulcan, not a weaker human partner. In truth Kirk was amused by that thought. He certainly didn't view Amanda as Sarek's weaker human partner--she might walk a step behind, but she was not submissive. In fact, Kirk had come to realize that Spock's mother talked softly but carried a big stick, and Sarek, Vulcan male or not, occasionally did some shuffling to stay out of swinging range.

T'Pau took the mallet from Spock's hand and hung it on the armature. Turning she place a hand on Spock's shoulder and on Kirk's shoulder. "As it had been in times past, as it is now and shall ever be these two are bond, joined together in spirit, mind and body."

She stepped back drawing her fingers lightly down the sides of both men's faces. As she withdrew to the shadowed gallery where the others waited Spock turned to Kirk holding out his hand, first two fingers extended. Kirk stepped forward letting his fingers slide along Spock's. Suddenly fire swept up his arm.

Spock shuddered, crying out. Kirk twined his fingers into the more slender ones of his mate. With a growl Kirk pulled the Vulcan into his arms, pressing his mouth over Spock's. Spock's fingers came up locking onto his bondmate's meld points. Kirk felt himself consumed in flames.

They stumbled falling together on the arena ground. Kirk rolled Spock onto his back, one hand tangled in his hair, the other stroking the smooth skin of one thigh, pushing the robe up, until he could be where he wanted to be. Spock moaned beneath him, and Kirk struggled to his knees, the hot, red Vulcan sand burned his bare skin; then Kirk pushed the strong, slender thighs apart and sank into a heat even hotter than the sands, hotter than the Vulcan sun pounding down on his silk-clad back. Groaning loudly Kirk pushed his robe out of the way baring his aching flesh to the hot sun, Spock writhed beneath him, "Oh yes, T'hy'la…now!"

Growling deep in his throat Kirk reared up seizing Spock's leg, tugging until he had his bondmate spread-eagle on the hot sand. Bunching Spock's silk robe around his slender waist Jim grabbed his hips tugging Spock onto Jim's thighs his hard flesh met the soft ring of muscle guarding the entrance to his mate's body, and the cool salve that Spock h ad applied early tingled against Jim's hard, hot penis. With a sigh Kirk pressed forward sliding inside the silky, tight channel. Spock grunted at the sudden invasion but grasped Jim's hand bringing it to Spock's face, stroking Jim's fingertips over Spock's own meld points, Jim pushed himself into Spock's mind as he slid further into his body.


The walk back to the house seemed to take forever, as if Kirk was in a dream. One of those dreams where the hallway he was walking in just kept getting longer and longer. He didn't have those dreams too much any more not since he graduated from the Academy when they were a component of a worse nightmare where is couldn't find the classes he needed to attend, was going to fail and be dismissed if he couldn't find his classes. But Kirk was still suffused with the nervous enervated feeling that those dreams had produced in him.

He was still numb, still shocked that he had pushed Spock to the ground and had him in front of the entire clan. Yet looking around at the serene Vulcan faces surrounding him no one else seemed the least bit shocked or disgusted. In fact, Sarek and Amanda were flanking Kirk and Spock and both were as accepting, in fact even more so, of him then they'd ever been.

When they got back to the house the family had laid out lunch. A long table draped in yards of red silk fabric was laden with complex looking Vulcan and human cuisine.

The family milled around chatting, carrying plates flowing over with food, and Spock was eating as ravenously as Kirk had ever seen him. Kirk carefully picked over the food; he had learned one thing on this trip: there were some Vulcan dishes that he could live off of gladly for the rest to his life, and some he wouldn't eat on a bet.

McCoy wandered past, eating from a plate piled high with a mass of combined foods. He waved a champagne flute of the local white wine, and turned back to chatting with a tall, hugely pregnant Vulcan woman.

Spock settled on a sofa, a glass of wine dangling loosely from his long elegant fingers. Kirk perched on the arm beside him leaning down slightly so that he could be heard over the subdued rumble of the guests. "You didn't tell me that we would… you know… do what we did in front of the whole family."

"I was not sure that it would happen. Among Vulcans it is naturally accepted that mating will occur at the ceremony, especially if one of the males is in Pon Farr. I was not sure if you would react the same as a Vulcan male."

"I felt like I was on fire."

Spock graced him with his smile that wasn't a smile. "Yes, thou burned for me."

"Don't sound so proud of yourself." Kirk said dryly. But Spock merely elevated a brow.

"Really, Jim," he said stiffly. "As a Vulcan I am not capable of feeling an emotion such as pride."

"Yeah, pull the other one while you're at it."

"You were just complaining about me pulling it…" Spock said sardonically. Kirk gasped choking on his drink. He favored Sarek with a lopsided grin when the older Vulcan cast a quizzical glance his human son-in-law.

"You know you've got quite a mouth on you." He hissed at Spock. Spock merely offered him a smoldering glance from under lowered lashes.

"You have never complained about my mouth before, especially when it was on you."

With a moan Kirk settled his glass on a table. "God! Spock. Don't do that to me. You're getting me excited and I don't want to walk out of here with a hard on."

"The robes are loose enough to cover a 'multitude of sins', as it is. Besides I want you to, I want them to see what I can do to you, what you do to me."

"If we walk out of here right now everyone is going to know why we're leaving, aren't they?"

"Yes, but it is expected. In a Vulcan bonding, if one partner was in Pon Farr, we would not even be here but secluded; as it is we have already shown admirable restraint by not leaving immediately. No one will be shocked or concerned, Jim. In fact, if we do not go they will be more concerned."

"Well, anything to preserve the mental heath of the family. I guess I could make the supreme sacrifice and fuck your brains out."

Spock paused cocking his head to the side, "I have always found that statement to be vaguely disquieting. Considering that my brain is encased in my skull, and that there are no outlets except my ears. And even if you did insert your…"

Kirk seized his shoulders propelling his mate toward the door, "Spock, Spock, never mind. I think you'll see it a little more clearly after you lay down for a bit."


The last of the guests had departed and McCoy was gathering wineglasses handing them

to the caterer to be packed away, while Jesse collected napkins and other debris missed by the departing guests. McCoy found himself studying her tall, slender form as she stooped to retrieve a napkin from under the table. Finally, McCoy helped her to her feet.

"Jesse, maybe I'm being presumptuous since I just met you, but Spock said to ask. And Lord knows he won't say anything…"

"But why am I on Vulcan? Why do I call Selek and T'Pel my parents?" She smiled as his faced colored. "I have lived on Vulcan since I was four years old. My birthmother is Amanda's youngest sister, I don't know who my birthfather is and she probably could not be certain either. From what Esyeta Amanda's family has told me she made a great many mistakes when it came to choosing her male friends. My father was one of those mistakes. She never even told me who she thought he was. For the first four years of my life I lived in a nightmare of chaos, and my family thought I was insane. In fact, they were going to have me committed to a mental health facility. I used to hear people talking but their mouths weren't moving. They thought that I needed to be locked away, and to be truthful I was violent and angry until I met Eysetu Sarek."

McCoy nodded. "Spock said you were a telepath."

"Yes, but my human family didn't understand. I clung to Sarek; he was the first person who understood. That first night he taught me to shield my thoughts. For the first time in my life I heard…nothing. No voices crowded my head, no scary thoughts I couldn't understand. For the first time I knew peace and quiet. I have loved him ever since."

"He certainly loves you, too. Whether or not he'll admit it."

"He has never had trouble making me understand I am loved; neither has my father or mother. Ah, yes. A year after I came to Vulcan my birthmother gave up her parental rights to me, and Selek and T'Pel adopted me formally."

"So you became an R'shani," the doctor asked. Jesse smiled at him as she disappeared into the kitchen. Suddenly the comm signal rang startling McCoy. Sarek rose quickly

flipping on the view screen.

The male face on the viewer was a harried as any Vulcan McCoy had ever seen. Sarek leaned forward and the other Vulcan nodded. "Ambassador, forgive me for interrupting you on the day of your son's bonding, but there has been an accident. We have need of the R'shani immediately."

"Yes, I will send her."

Jesse was already moving toward the door. She paused only long enough to remove her scarf and pull a long, black cowl from the shelf beside the door. Making obeisance to the firepot spirit of the ancestors glowing in an alcove just above the shelf she quickly pulled the cowl over her head and raised the hood to shadow her face.

McCoy quickly joined her. "Jesse, I'm a doctor. Maybe I should come along if there has been an accident. They might need medical help."

"I am sure that healers have been sent from the hospital, but I may need help returning home. I would be glad of the company."


The skimmer Jesse was driving pulled to the curb in an intersection of one of ShiKahr's well-ordered streets. A small crowd of people was gathered around a piece of large construction equipment. The sidewalks and streets had been cordoned off, and there were no on-lookers gaping on the sidewalks as there might have been on Terran streets under the same circumstances.

When Jesse and McCoy made their way across the street to the flat building site a tall, older Vulcan male with streaks of gray in his dark brown hair motioned them to the side of a piece of huge, vivid blue construction equipment Beneath the shovel lay a Vulcan youth; probably no more than twenty McCoy decided, not liking the pale, washed out yellow of the boy's complexion. The Vulcans standing around the construction site were as tense and grim as any he had ever seen.

Two uniform-clad Vulcans wearing identification that marked them as Emergency Medical Workers were kneeling in the deep red, soil beside the half- collapsed sand-mover. A dark colored stain spread around from the shovel fanning out from under the fallen youth. Jesse motioned the others away from the fallen worker and McCoy found himself standing next to the construction foreman.

One of the two EMW's pulled Jesse away from the boy, walking close enough that McCoy could hear him; "The sand-mover collapsed, pinning Sivin between the bucket and the concrete substructure. It essentially severed his body at mid torso; the only reason he has not completely bled to death is that the weight of the machine is keeping pressure on the wound keeping it sealed. We wanted to wait to move it until you arrived, R'shani."

Jesse nodded. "Is he coherent?"

"Enough, but his control has failed."

Jesse clasped her hands together walking slowly to the young man pinned beneath the bucket. Taking three deep cleansing breaths she knelt. Carefully her slim fingers found the meld points on Sivin's face. He turned toward her lips moving, if he spoke only she heard him. The misery faded from his face almost at once, and the construction workers seemed to relax noticeably.

McCoy stepped back further until he could speak to the foreman, "If it is not forbidden can you explain to me what she is doing?"

The Vulcan glanced at him as if just noticing McCoy was human for the first time. Then he nodded briefly. "It is not forbidden. The R'shani is lending her control to the dying mind of my son. We Vulcans live our entire lives in strict control of our emotions, yet in some instances, illness or accidents can take that control. The R'shani has the ability to transfer her mind controls to him, to give him back his control of pain or fear, to ease the path into death."

One of the other construction workers motioned the foreman over. "We are going to move the digger now."

As the engines of the big machine began to rumble Jesse looked up. "Is the keeper of the katra present?"

A younger Vulcan male separated himself from the workers and approached. "Yes, R'shani I will bear his katra to the Hall of Ancient Thought."

"Then, come quickly, take that with which thy have been charged."

He knelt beside her as the bucket of the earthmover lifted slightly, and then began laboriously rising into the air. Jesse's back arched at the bucket finally cleared her head and the boy jerked. She uttered a low moan, and McCoy flinched knowing that she was taking the boy's pain. Her other hand swept the air, and the second Vulcan male leaned into her touch. He closed his eyes. It took only seconds for the boy's body to sag to the ground. Finally, Jesse removed her hand, and the young male on the ground drew one deep breath, expelled it violently, and was still.

Slowly Jesse rose grasping the worker's hand as he steadied her. McCoy moved forward taking her hand in his. Jesse staggered, and slumped against him. When she looked up at him McCoy noticed that her nose was bleeding. The EMW also noticed, "R'shani you are injured."

"It is of no consequence." Jesse waved him away. "Leonard do you think you can find the way back to my uncle's house?"

"Yeah, I'm pretty sure. I can say one thing for Vulcans they have damned good traffic systems." Quickly he took out his medikit and handed her a pad of gauze, then pressed a hypospray to her neck. "That'll stop the bleeding."

"Thank you." She settled into the front seat of the skimmer beside him. He checked the traffic then turned the vehicle back the way they had come.

"So does the nosebleed have anything to do with what just happened?"

"Do you mean did my duties as R'shani cause it? No, but in an off way I guess it's related. My telepathic ability comes from a brain tumor. It occasionally causes some minor symptoms, but for the most part I feel no pain."

"And it's inoperable and incurable?"

"Yes, but it is of no consequence. Nothing comes without a price, Leonard. I have always believed that. Kaiidth."

"Are you sure that it's inoperable. I have access to the best medical equipment in the galaxy, maybe I could just give you a little look," McCoy said quietly.

Jesse smiled gently, "No Leonard. I have known about it all my life and my parents have sent me to many doctors, both Vulcan and Terran. It is as it is."


When they got back to Sarek and Amanda's house the mood in the front room was somber. Jim and Spock were sitting on the sofa. Conversation was brief as Jesse stripped off her cowl. No one asked her where they had gone, and she did not say anything either.

After the evening meal they were once again ensconced in the smaller living room that the family kept for their own private use. Spock was turning a Vulcan harp that he had brought from the bedroom. It was similar to the one he kept on the ship, but not as ornately decorated. Carefully he restrung the instrument and tuned it, occasionally playing a line of melody from a piece of music.

Jesse settled beside him with a large, hard-sided, leatherette case. She tugged it open and pulled out a brass contraption. When the thing was assembled Kirk could see that it was a saxophone. Jesse pressed the reed into her mouth to moisten it while she checked the keys. Finally, the instrument was ready and she picked up on one of the songs Spock was playing.

He settled back. "Play something for me, Nanimo."

"I liked what we were playing."

"Yes, but not many of the old Earth songs you play on that thing will translate well to the Vulcan harp."

"This "thing" is an antique." Jesse sighed, "Well let's see…" She played a few bars of music, and then smiled, "Do you know the words to that one?"

Spock shook his head. "No, I do not."

"Listen…" she played the intro again and the first few stanzas, then sang.

"When the Jazzman's signifying, and the band is windin' low.

It's the late night side of morning in the darkness of his soul.

He can fill a room with sadness as he fills his horn with tears.

He can cry like a fallen angel when risin' time is near.

Jazzman take my blues away;

Make my pain the same as yours with every change you play.

Oh lift me, won't you lift me with ev'ry turn around.

Play it sweetly, take me down, oh Jazzman."

She placed the saxophone to her lips and played for a short time then settled back, eyes closing. "Not many Vulcans play the sax."

"That is true." Sarek nodded. "As you have so often observed Nanimo, Vulcans do not sing the blues."

"You should let me teach you to play, Eysetu."

"Music is not one of my abilities. Both you and Spock must get your musical talents from Amanda's family."

Amanda grinned and nodded. "That is so true, Jesse. Sarek couldn't carry a tune in a bucket."

"That is an extremely illogical thing to say, my wife. A tune is an incorporeal object and therefore no one could carry one in a bucket."

"As you wish, my husband." Amanda said winking at Spock. He graced her with one of his half-smiles. She watched as Jesse carefully stored the instrument away. Finally, she rose, smoothing her tunic and wrapping her scarf around her head. "You aren't staying the night again, Jesse?"

"No Eyseta Amanda, I will go home tonight. I will make my goodbye to my family. However I will come tomorrow to speak with Pock'Cha."

Kirk noticed the uneasy glance that Spock exchanged with Sarek as he rose to accompany Jesse to the door. Jesse turned smiling, "I will be back after breakfast. Sleep well, Pock'Cha."

"Sleep well, Jesse."


Kirk lay back on the bed watching as Spock undressed. He seemed almost reluctant to come to bed, and shuffled restlessly between the clothes horse and the open glass doors. Finally, Kirk stood up, walking up behind his mate. He wrapped his arms around Spock's slender waist, pressing his cheek against a thin shoulder. "What's wrong? You seem upset tonight."

"I am somewhat disquieted."

"Well, a lot has happened in the last two days. Why don't you get a good night's sleep? I think that'll improve your outlook."

Spock shook his head. "I don't want to sleep not now, Jim. Perhaps I will go read in the front room."

"No, you're going to come to bed with me. Just to lie down. Let me help you Spock. You're not alone now; you don't have to do everything on your own any more."

Kirk led his mate to the bed, and they climbed under the covers together. Spock laid stiff, arms straight to his side until the human gently pulled and tugged Spock into a more pliable position. Eventually, Spock relaxed, sagging against Kirk's shoulder. "I will tell you as much as I am able after I have spoken to Jesse."

"I don't want to interfere in your relationship with your cousin. I only want you to understand that I am here for you if you need me."

Spock stroked his fingertips along Kirk's jaw, brushing over the fine stubble that sprouted in the late afternoon. Kirk smiled as the questing fingers bushed his lips. He flicked his tongue out tasting the slim, elegant digits. Spock drew a deep breath then leaned forward letting his lips follow the path his fingers had laid down. Kirk lay still letting Spock set the pace, moaning under the attentions of his mate.

Spock rose up, throwing his leg over Kirk's hips, straddling his mate. Quickly he pushed his sleeping robe up, baring his erection. Leaning forward he slipped the bed covers down also baring Kirk's flesh to his view. He stretched out his long body covering Kirk's, rocking gently. His aching cock brushed against his mate's sending a frission of hot energy along his spine. They rocked together slowly, gently until the flow of energy swept them up. Climax came in a warm wave washing over them both, and they eased into sleep twined together.


Sunlight was streaming into the open door when Kirk awoke the next morning. He could hear shuffling in the hallway and groped over the bed for Spock without opening his eyes. Spock was already gone. A huge yawn split Kirk's face as he stumbled out of the bed, searching the floor for his discarded sweats.

Amanda and McCoy were at the kitchen table finishing breakfast when he wandered into the room. Sarek apparently had left for work. Pouring himself a cup of spiced tea Kirk glanced around for Spock. Amanda noticed his worried look and motioned him to the table. "Spock is out in the garden with Jesse."

When Kirk started to get up from his seat she leaned over, touching his arm. "Just wait he'll be in soon." Kirk fiddled with the china cup, pushing it across the table. Amanda smiled and poured him another cup of tea.

Spock stood in front of Amanda's rose bushes. They had been brought from Earth before he was born and had stood sentry at the glass doors of all the bedrooms for all his life. This particular pair of rose bushes was the one he and Jesse had crushed when they were six years old. They were old now, thick-stemmed and covered in deep crimson blossoms as big as Spock's fist.

Jesse sighed stooping down to pull a withered leaf off the bush before finally standing before Spock. "It is time." She said simply, not turning so she would not have to see the pained look that he could not quite conceal. Spock dropped his head, drawing in three deep, cleansing breaths before answering her.

"Perhaps not yet." He said stiffly, fingers twining themselves into the sleeves of his sleep robe. She smiled slightly then, and heaved another sigh.

"Yes, it is long past time. And we both knew that this day would come. It is not logical to avoid it now that it is here. I asked you to assist me in this Spock, perhaps I was wrong to do so. If it be too much I will release you from your vow. Eysetu Sarek will do this for me, he has said, if you were not available or able. I know it is not fair to ask this of you now, so newly bonded. To ask you to leave your bondmate even for so short a time."

"I am both available and able, Jesse. My vow to you would come before my own needs or desires. You know this. I would expect no less from you, if our situation was reversed. And I know I would have it."

"I beg forgiveness, cousin."

"There is nothing to forgive. I believe that I will not have to leave my bondmate to perform this task. The Enterprise leaves orbit in two solar days. Our next assignment is mapping a section of space along the outer edges of this quadrant, along the far spiral arm of the Romulan Neutral Zone. PK-137 lies on the route. Jim would not be averse to taking you there."

"I do not wish to cause you problems with Starfleet."

"There will be no problem. The diversion would be only a matter of hours off our pre-selected course. It will be no burden."

"Then I will inform Eysetu. My parents are coming tonight, with my brother and his family. Please, I see no reason for anyone else on the ship to know why I am going to Gethsemane."

"I will speak to Jim as well."


Kirk settled into the command chair surveying the bridge. The thrum of the Enterprises'

engines vibrated against his feet, a sensation he only seemed to notice when he had been off the ship. The crew was looking rested and relaxed. Vulcan might not be the hot spot of the known universe, but it had its attractions. Casually the captain glanced at the lean form huddled over his computer viewer. Kirk grinned, and sent a little mental goose over the bond. Spock stiffened slightly, and shot Kirk a warning through their marital bond, //"T'hy'la…"//

//"Ah, Spock, I was just testing my shielding abilities. Still needs work, I see."//

//"There are many things about your mental controls that 'need work', least of all this unfortunate tendency you seem to have developed as of late."//

//"Oooh, was that a shot, Spock! What's this universe coming too? Even the Vulcan is scoring off me. I'm glad McCoy isn't around to hear this."//

//"I hardly think that the good doctor would be privy to this conversation anyway, T'hy'la, since we have not opened our mouths since coming on the bridge."//

// "As apposed to opening them before we came on the bridge."//

Spock swung around in his seat shooting Kirk what he considered "the look": both brows elevated to the point of disappearing into his bangs. Kirk merely smiled. Uhura cleared her throat and the captain turned slightly to look at her over his shoulder. "Yes, Lieutenant?"

"Starfleet Command has approved our request to divert to PK-137 to deliver the R'shani Jesse Cha'Selek to her appointment."

Kirk nodded, "Good. Mr. Spock, would you please inform your cousin."


Spock lay back in the bed, shivering slightly. He could not sleep even though his inner clock told him he had been lying there for three point seven-five hours. Kirk was snoring softly against Spock's left shoulder. The Vulcan sighed almost imperceptibly. He knew that if he woke Jim the human would be agreeable to making love again, yet he also knew that with their return to the ship the weight of Jim's duties would wear heavily upon them both. So Spock settled back listening to his mate's soft, regular breathing and accepting that he would not sleep this night.

The alarm rousted Kirk from his sleep the next morning and he rolled over. The bed beside him was empty, the sheets grown cold and he knew that Spock was long gone. With a sigh he rose, scrubbing at his face with the backs of his hands, and headed out for a shower.

The bridge was quiet when the turbolift deposited the captain a short time later, and Kirk glanced around. Spock was seated at the Science Station already going over the Gamma shift reports, and calibrating his instruments for the day's duties.

"Good morning, folks." he said affably. Uhura looked up form her board and smiled.

"Nothing to report, Captain." She said apologetically. Kirk shrugged minimally in response, pulling a smile from her again.

"Good day for a Battle Drill," Kirk said, with a grin aimed at the Science Station.

"Captain," Spock said with a moue of disgust, "did we not discuss this matter at the last senior officer's meeting? I believe it was stated that the crew should be warned in advance of the possibility of a battle simulation." The Vulcan lips compressed to the point of disappearing all together and Kirk's grin widened.

"You're just a sore loser, Commander."

"I beg your pardon, Captain. However, if you and the Romulan Hordes from Security had not cheated…"

"Cheated…Commander? We improvised…"

"You lured the crew to their 'capture' by falsely informing them that I was the Romulan, Sub-Commander, and getting them to follow you into the clutches of the enemy."

"They should learn not to believe everything they hear. Assignments had been clearly posted, if they had been paying strict attention they would have known that I was the Commander of the invading troops that day."

"Captain, you took advantage of the naiveté of the newly assigned crew in Engineering and Science sections."

"Well, maybe they won't make the same mistakes twice," Kirk replied smugly. Spock cocked his head to one side, his expression grave.

"No, they won't."

That took the wind out of Kirk's sails a bit, and he paused; something in Spock's expression did not bode well for the Romulan Hordes. "

With a sideways glance at his First Officer, Kirk wandered up to the communications board, "Lieutenant Uhura, have the Special Tactical teams from Security assemble in the main transporter room."

"Aye, sir." Uhura glanced back at Kirk a few moments later, "Sir, Commander Giotto and his teams report ready."

"Good, Lieutenant, sound Red Alert."

The klaxon sounded immediately and Uhura's calm voice rolled over the intra-ship comm line, "Red Alert, Red Alert… all hands to battle stations."

Simultaneously Commander Giotto, wearing a silver mesh sash across his chest to signify his rank as a Romulan Centurion, burst into the bridge. The Captain went down in a hail of phaser fire, and the 'Romulan' soldiers stormed forward. Giotto motioned to Kirk's motionless form, "T'Levet take the Captain's body to the transporter." Kirk was hoisted unceremoniously over the two soldiers' shoulders and carried away to be resurrected as Sub-Commander Kirk and take over command of the invading Romulan troops.

Spock waited mere seconds after the Romulans and the 'fallen' captain disappeared into an intra-ship transporter beam to pounce on the command chair. Chekov and Sulu both glanced at each other and smiled in glee. After the Enterprise had been lost to Romulan troops in the last battle drill the First Officer had collected his senior officers and outlined a truly devious plan for payback.

Kirk, Giotto and the two Romulans Centurions materialized in the brig. As soon as the last of the transporter beam faded Kirk stumbled forward his smile fading. He had used the intra-ship beaming last battle drill and had not expected Spock to fall for him doing it again. However, when it became apparent that they were safely ensconced in a cell Kirk slapped his hand against the wall in frustration. "Damn that sneaky Vulcan. He altered the transporter co-ordinates."

Giotto stalked to the captain's side. "How could he, sir? I programmed the transporter myself. I set the intra-ship transport to beam us from the main transporter room to the bridge and back again. All pre-selected co-ordinates in case we met resistance and were rendered 'unconscious.'"

"Then Spock did something; he put a worm in the computer."

"Could he do that, sir?"

Kirk winced. "Commander Giotto, this is Mr. Spock we are talking about."

"Oh yeah, sorry, sir." The Security chief settled down on one of the bunks in the cell. "So how long do you think he'll make us sit in here?"

"It depends on how pissed off he still is about that little incident that happened during the last battle drill." Kirk sighed, pushing a button so that the closed toilet slid out of its niche in the wall. Quickly he sat down, chin propped on one hand. Giotto sighed as well then looked at the captain.

"Uh… Mr. Spock is a Vulcan; they don't get pissed off, sir."

"Just keep telling yourself that, Commander."

With Sub-Commander Kirk and the three senior Romulan Centurions jailed the Romulan Hordes in the main transporter room were left without directions. The battle between Commander Spock and the Enterprise defenders and said Romulan Hordes was brief and nasty. McCoy groused wholeheartedly for an hour at the flood of "casualties" both human and Romulan, but in the end the Romulans invaders were most horribly defeated.

Still it was another forty-five minutes later that Sub-Commander Kirk and his Centurions were released from captivity.


As he sat at a table in the mess hall Kirk frowned at his mate. "Come on, you've got to tell me what you did. You know planting a worm in the ship's computers is against regs."

Spock levered an eyebrow into his hairline. "A worm is an illegal program introduced into a computer system for the purposes of extracting information. I did not plant a worm. As the head of the Science Department computer programming falls under my jurisdiction, and further more, as the only person on board the ship with an A-1 computer clearance I am authorized by Starfleet Command to make whatever changes to the computer programming I deem necessary to the effective functioning of the ship."

"Transporter codes are not your purview."

Spock inclined his head, "I made an adjustment to the ship's computer's security codes to correct a deficiency."

"Is that a fact…?"

"Certainly. It was brought to my attention, during a prior battle drill, that an invading force could conceivably use the intra-ship transporter to attack the bridge. I have adjusted the security codes to preclude that possibility. If at any time anyone tries to beam intra ship from the transporter to the bridge and then back to any pre-selected co-ordinates they will be re-routed and detained in the brig."

Kirk smiled and said, "Ah, commendable Mr. Spock. I certainly won't forget your attention to detail."

"I would assume not," Spock replied dryly.

Doctor McCoy appeared at the table bearing an over-flowing tray. He dropped his tray on the table, glancing over his shoulder at the door where Spock's cousin appeared. She carefully collected her meal and carried to the table as well, settling into a seat just in time to hear McCoy grumbling loudly.

"Damn it all, Jim. You need to talk to Lieutenant Parker in Security. She really enjoys her role as one of the Romulan Horde a little too much. She plays too rough. I patched up two engineers and one security officer that tangled with her."

"I'll talk to her tomorrow, Bones. She's Regilian, and she forgets how much stronger than the human crew she is."

"Yeah, if Spock hadn't whacked her out with that nerve pinch she would've wiped the floor with half the engineering crew."

Spock blinked. "Whacked her out?"

Jesse smiled. "I think that means rendered her unconscious."

With a withering glare Spock turned to his cousin, "I know what it means, Nanimo."

McCoy frowned. "You doing okay, Spock? Defeating the Romulans should have put in a better mood than this. It's all over the ship what you did with the transporters."

"I am well; however, I will retire for the evening. I must return to quarters to meditate. I have been neglecting my meditations of late, and it has disquieted me."

Kirk glanced at his mate worrying his lower lip between his teeth. "I think I'll walk in the arboretum for a while then I'll meet you in quarters."

"Hey," the doctor piped up. "That's a good idea. I think I'll work off this fried chicken with a little stroll. Care for a turn around the observation deck, my dear?"

Jesse smiled, "Yes, thank you, Leonard."


The lights were dimmed to twenty-five percent of standard daytime levels when Kirk walked into their quarters some forty-five minutes later. He could see Spock's huddled form seated on his meditation mat before the daemonesque firepot animal on the floor. The red glow of the candle inside the firepot cast flickering shadows on the Vulcan's lean face. Kirk felt his breath catch in his throat as Spock turned towards him and the fire washed features revealed his raw anguish.

Hurriedly, Kirk crossed the floor and knelt beside the motionless figure. "Spock, what's wrong?"

"There is nothing wrong, at least nothing that I can effect any changes too. I must be content to accept that which is to come." Spock quickly lifted the lid to the firepot extinguishing the candle flame. "Lights fifty percent," he said to the computer. The ambient lighting in the room increased, and he closed his eyes.

"But you don't have to face it alone. I know that you are taking Jesse to PK-137 to fulfill some family vow. Please can't you share it with me; let me take some of the burden…"

"It is no burden. I am honored that she asked me for this. But I cannot tell you more. Please don't ask me."

"I won't. If you can't tell me why you are taking Jesse there, at least tell me about the planet. Do you know about PK-137?"

Spock nodded gratefully, "Yes. PK-137 is a completely undeveloped planet. There is no indigenous population and no colonies. In fact, the only sapient life forms are the caretakers. The planet is commonly called Gethsemane …"


Jesse stood motionless in front of the transparisteel viewscreen that made up a large amount of the bulkhead on the observation deck. The stars were thin white streaks against the void of space. She sighed. "I could have gotten used to seeing this. Do you still come here often, Leonard?"

"You know, after so many years in space I thought that I wouldn't, but I still do. I don't think I'll ever get tired of seeing this. I've noticed that a lot of the crew feel the same. Including you cousin."

"Really, Spock comes here?"

"Oh yeah, I've seen him here more than once. So this place that you're going too, what's it called?'

She laughed. "Well its official designation is PK-137, but the caretakers and those of us who choose to go there call it Gethsemane. It seems appropriate."

McCoy frowned, "Gethsemane, so there is some religious significance to this place."

"I guess, of a sort. Many beings of many races go there. The planet is one of the most beautiful places in the known universe. It is called one of the Seven Wonders of the Galaxy. There are no colonies, no industry, and no settlements. The entire planet is one huge garden and animal preserve. The beings that choose to go there contribute to the maintenance of the gardens in a very special way. For us it gives a meaning to our time there."

"So how long are you going to be on the planet?"

"Oh not long., a matter of weeks." Jesse said softly. She winced and sat down on one of the benches, pulling her legs up under her. McCoy sat down beside her.

"Is the Enterprise going to be picking up on our way back in system?"

"No, Leonard."

"So is your bondmate going to meet you there? I mean, I never asked Spock, but I assumed that you had a Vulcan bondmate."

With a faint smile Jesse shook her head, "No, considering my circumstances my family decided that I should not be bonded. I never found someone I wanted to bond with either."

With an annoyed grimace the doctor turned to her taking her hand, "What, did the Vulcans think that you weren't good enough?"

"No, not at all, a childhood bonding was not considered for me by my parents because of my ill health as a child. I have never wanted for companionship; and I chose not to be bonded when I got old enough for it to be my choice. And I agree with my parents not considering a childhood bonding." She rose suddenly pulling her robe in around her shoulders. "I'm sorry Leonard, but I've lived on Vulcan too long. I'm afraid that the temperature in here is a bit chill for me, and I am fatigued. I think I'll go to my quarters now. Thank you for the walk."

"Sure, would you meet me for breakfast in the morning? Officers mess oh seven hundred hours?"

"I would like that."


With the lights now dimmed to almost total darkness, Kirk lay back, cradling Spock's head on his shoulder. Slowly he stroked the wiry curls on his mate's chest, fingers seeking out the tight nubs of the bronze nipples. Carefully he teased the tiny buds to stiff peaks, as Spock's breath hissed in his throat, becoming a deep purr.

So slowly the Vulcan's fingers traced the strong firm jaw of his mate's face, finally settling on his meld points. Kirk sighed lowering his mental shields as he lowered his mouth to latch onto the Vulcan's tender breast. Spock jerked hard, the stiff length of his tumescent penis painting Kirk's thigh with pearly fluid. Kirk wiped his fingers over his own skin collecting the dewy liquid with his fingers and lapping it up. Spock intercepted his mate's hand on its second journey and pulled Kirk's fingers into his mouth.

Kirk's eyes slipped closed and he groaned, his own jutting member grinding into the silky skin in the hollow of the Vulcan's narrow hip. Spock released Kirk's hand, "Ahhh, Jim."

"Oh yes, T'hy'la. Let me love you."

"Always." Spock clasped his mate's hand, drawing it down to the silky black curls. Kirk's fingers tangled in the dark strands then stoked over heated flesh. Gathering up the clear fluid that coated Spock's penis, Kirk coated himself, and settled between Spock's legs.

Spock's body parted easily for him, almost pulling Kirk into the hot center of his mate, and Kirk thrust forward, grunting in satisfaction. Spock wrapped his long, lean thighs around Jim's waist, thrusting up off the bed, forcing the penetration as deeply as he could.

It took only a dozen stokes before the Vulcan reached between them, and grasping himself pulled another orgasm out of his aching flesh as his mate's thrusts became shorter and quicker. Pleasure surged out of Kirk in a hot rush of semen, and he settle down on his mate's still heaving chest.

Finally he rolled away, spooning up behind Spock, resting his face in the curve of the Vulcan's neck and shoulder. Spock settled down, already drifting on the edge of sleep. "I would tell you if I could, T'hy'la, surely your know this. There may be a time when I will need your strength."

"All that I am, all that I have I give to thee, T'hy'la."


With narrowed eyes, Spock watched as Jesse left the Mess Hall with Doctor McCoy for the fourth morning since they had began the journey to Gethsemane. Kirk noticed the look right away and gently worked Spock's fingers loose from the fist he had clenched them into. "You look troubled, Spock."

"I am not, exactly. I noticed that McCoy is spending a great deal of time with Jesse. I only wish to keep him from being disturbed by the events to come."

"What are you afraid, that Jesse will marry Bones when she leaves PK-137? Can you imagine Bones as your cousin?"

"No, I am not afraid of that. Jesse will never leave Gethsemane. I do not know if McCoy understands that, and I fear that he might not believe me if I tell him so."

"So she's staying here. I don't understand. What about her job as a R'shani on Vulcan?"

"All things pass, Jim. She can no longer fulfill her duties. That is why she left when she did. The entire family knew that it must happen someday. Gethsemane is a place that one comes to for the end of a journey."

"End of a journey, you make it sound like she's dying, Spock." Kirk said. Suddenly a chill ran over his body and he turned, "Spock?"

"I must assume that she will inform McCoy. She would not leave him without doing so."


Jesse sat back on the bench in the observation deck again. The lights were lowered to the night level, and she loved the strange, opalescent glow that the stars emitted. The sounds of footsteps behind caught her attention and McCoy settled down beside her, taking her feet off the bench and dropping them into his lap.

"So did you have a good day?" he asked with a smile. "I was pretty sure that I would find you here. Look, Jesse, I know that I have only known you a little while, but I really want to see more of you. I mean, I want to keep in touch."

"That is not possible, Leonard. The residents of Gethsemane are not permitted outside contact."

"Well, maybe when you leave PK-137. When you go back to Vulcan…"

"I will not be going back to Vulcan. My duty to my people is finished. I have bid my family goodbye."

"Jesse you're a young woman yet, it isn't right that you close yourself off. I mean even if it's not me, there could be someone special."

"No, I am very tired, Leonard. I can't afford the energy to argue about this. I will never leave Gethsemane. I am ill, Leonard, and I go there to find peace and rest. It is as it is. Please accept that." Jesse rose slowly, and McCoy nodded watching her go, seeing her for the first time as ethereal, the bare essence of humanity enclosed in dark Vulcan robes, and even darker Vulcan mysticism.

Hurrying to catch up with her McCoy gently took her arm, turning her to face him." I'm sorry, Jesse, please don't go. I won't argue with you any more, I just want to sit here with you a little while longer. Tomorrow we'll make planetfall."

"Spock and Jim are coming down with me. I would be honored if you would do so as well."

"Of course ma'am, I'd be please to."


The sky overhead was a pale clear blue, the rich cornflower blue of Iowa summer and Kirk smiled, inhaling the deep, clean scent. The path they were standing on was cut through lush, emerald green grass. Far off into the distance the endless green expanse marched onward to the forest. Tall, stately evergreen trees stood in silent sentinel.

The thick underbrush wound its way through the trees, and everywhere a riot of vivid colors flashed amid the green grasses, and shrubs. The sounds of small animals rustling in the brush were faint, and the song of a multitude of birds filled the air.

Just beyond the bend of the path the faint white lines of a large stone structure peeked out of the tangle of climbing vines. A smiling elderly woman in soft linen robes appeared at the end of the path. She greeted them warmly, taking first Kirk's then McCoy's hand before bowing to the two clad in Vulcan attire. Spock returned her respectful greeting as did his cousin.

As they followed the spry figure of the caretaker to the lodge Kirk could see many more linen clad forms tending the closer grounds, and he was sure that a large number were out among the deep forests and flowing hillsides. The sound of a low level force filed jarred him, and he jerked to a halt as they passed a small clearing filled with massive crimson blooms. Beneath the forcefield were the rotting remains of some being.

"Ker Valleria, there is a…" he began but Spock's implacable hand on his arm drew him up short.

"She knows." His mate said softly and Kirk frowned.

"How could she just allow a sentient being to lie here rotting? It's barbaric."

"It is by design. That is what the followers of Gethsemane believe, Jim."

"I don't understand," he replied. "Did Jesse explain this to you?"

"Yes, but I do not believe that McCoy saw the remains, and I do not wish him to do so. He would be most offended. The followers of Gethsemane believe that all life is joined by an unseen force, that all things are part of a great design. They believe that sentient beings and non-sentient animals feed off of the fruits of the earth, and that in turn the earth is nourished by the chemical components of the decomposed bodies of animals. These people come here to allow their decomposed bodies to return to the soil, and continue that chain of life. The forcefield permits the weather to break down the remains, while keeping the odor of decay from escaping."

"And Jesse came here to die. To be a part of this?"

"Yes, Jim. She told me that she adheres to an ancient Terran precept of faith that is expressed as "From dust we come to dust we shall return."

"Well," Kirk said softly, "It is spectacularly beautiful here. I guess one should die as one lived."

"Jesse lived to serve; she will die to serve as well." Spock sighed gently. "Jim would you like to take a walk with me?"

"Yes I would, but I don't want to interfere with your time with Jesse."

"She will understand, and I believe that she would like some private time to say goodbye to Leonard."


Jesse sat on the steps of the lodge with McCoy. He grinned at the warm sunlight dappling his face. Jesse smiled wholeheartedly at it and McCoy felt his breath catch. "Now that smile, my dear, was worth this whole trip."

"I'm glad you think so. Do you like it here, Leonard? Can you see why I came here?"

"Oh, yeah. I can see it. It's very beautiful, but nothing compared to you. I wish I had gotten to know you a long time ago. I should have been nicer to Spock maybe he would have introduced us years ago."

"I don't know, Pock'cha is very protective."

"Well, that's hardly surprising. So, if the Enterprise is out this way again, can I come see you, please?"

"Oh, Leonard, you just won't take no for an answer will you…"

"No ma'am, not even from your stiff-necked cousin."

"I tell you what, Leonard. It is planetary spring here in this hemisphere. Spock is coming back here next spring, come with him and see what I have done."

Kirk and Spock appeared at the foot of the steps, McCoy grinned waving them forward. Kirk sat down briefly touching the doctor's arm. "Well, sorry to interrupt Bones but we've got a schedule to keep. Come on let's give Scotty a shout, and get moving."

The two men stood at the foot of the stairs watching as Spock gently took Jesse in his arms, holding her close.


One Year Later…

Leonard McCoy stood bouncing on his heels at the foot of the transporter platform waiting for Spock to appear. Finally the door opened and the Vulcan appeared carrying his lyre on one hip. McCoy smiled, knowing how much Jesse liked to listen to Spock play, although now that he thought of it Jesse hadn't brought her saxophone with her to Gethsemane.

They beamed down to the foot of the stairs of the lodge and the same elderly woman met them at the door. Spock talked to her briefly and then motioned McCoy to one of the side paths leading away from the building.

"Is Jesse is down here?" McCoy asked.

"I will take you to her place." Spock said quietly. He moved silently, not speaking until they came to a small valley beneath the shelter of huge, ancient oak trees brought from Earth. A small brook trickled beside the trees, bending gently around the massive trunks. In the shadow of the massive boughs huge gleaming white Stargazers lilies reached up to the sky. McCoy settled on the small marble bench beside the brook and glanced around, "Is this what she's been doing, Spock tending the grounds here?"

"No, Leonard. Her illness was long, and in the end she could not fight it any more."

"She came here to die, didn't she?" McCoy said quietly. "She tried to tell me. I just guess that I had hoped to see her again."

"Do you not see her here, Leonard? I do."

McCoy wiped his eyes roughly then leaned back to take in the verdant green of the grass, and the gleaming white of the blossoms. The rich black of the tree trunks-- and instantly he recalled the glow of Jesse's ivory skin surrounded by the black velvet of her robes. "Yeah, I guess I do."

"Jesse had asked me not to reveal her illness to anyone. I has long been something that was ignored by our family. She was afraid if many people knew that her telepathy was the result of her brain tumor they would seek to prolong her life by not asking for her services as a R'shani, and she lived to served the people who adopted and nurtured her."

Nodding McCoy sighed. "She was one of the most selfless people I had ever met. She was very special, Spock. I hope it doesn't shock you to hear me say that."

"If things had been different regarding her health, Leonard, I believe that Jesse could have loved you."

"I think I could have loved her too, Spock. Maybe I did a little anyway. Can you imagine that? Me and your cousin, it boggles the mind."

Spock smiled faintly, pulling the lyre close, casually tuning the instrument. "I would have been honored to call thee cousin, Leonard."

"And I thee, Spock," McCoy sighed gently. "Play me something. I know she loved to hear you play."

Nodding Spock slowly began, his slim, elegant fingers moving certainly over the strings. The first few strains of music seemed familiar to the doctor, and then he smiled. It wasn't the saxophone, but then it had a style all its own. He almost flinched in shock when Spock's deep rich baritone accompanied the silvery music:

"When the jazzman's testifyin' a faithless man believes,

He can sing you into paradise or bring you to your knees.

It's a gospel kind of feelin', a touch of Georgia slide,

A song of pure revival and a style that's sanctified...

Jazzman take my blues away; make my pain

The same as yours with every change you play.

Jazzman oh jazzman…

When the jazzman's signifyin' and the band is windin' low

It's the late night side of morning in the darkness of his soul.

He can fill a room with sadness as he fills his horn with tears,

He can cry like a fallen angel when risin' time is near.

Jazzman take my blues away; make my pain

The same as yours with every change you play.

Oh, lift me, won't you lift me with ev'ry turn around,

Play it sweetly, take me down, oh jazzman…"

The End