The prequel to this story is Boldun and can be found on my profile.


"Affliction's sons are brothers in distress; A brother to relieve, how exquisite the bliss!" -Robert Burns

Chapter One

The deaths of hundreds of Starfleet members and billions of Vulcan citizens occurred on the same day, but the anniversaries of those deaths took place ninety-one days apart. It was only logical; the Terran year and the Vulcan year were not the same length. That was why, one Terran year after the day so many lives were lost, Sarek found himself on Earth.

He was still the Vulcan ambassador to Earth, and as such, he was required to be at the Starfleet ceremony to remember the fallen. He would have come even without an explicit invitation though. Spock was receiving an award, and if Sarek had learned nothing from the death of Vulcan, it was that family was more important than anything. So many people had lost their entire families. Sarek had lost his wife, but he still had his son. Sarek didn't always understand the boy, but he was proud of Spock, regardless of whether he showed it or even acknowledged it to himself.

Spock sat across the stage. Outwardly, he appeared as stoic as any Vulcan, but Sarek knew his son. His slightly clenched hands and tight lips betrayed his nervousness. It amused Sarek slightly when Captain James Kirk leaned over and whispered something in Spock's ear that made the boy relax. Spock was quite compatible with his captain, for reasons Sarek did not understand, but Sarek was grateful that Spock had someone to calm him—as well as infuriate him, depending on what the situation required.

His son felt as deeply as a Vulcan, but he had the control of a Human. It had taken Sarek a long time to recognize this. Now he felt he understood Spock a little more, and he was all the prouder of him for it. He also knew now that Spock would never be able to be fully Vulcan, and Sarek would no longer take him to task for that. He only wished he had been able to reach this understanding before Amanda died. His wife would have approved of his change in judgment.

Admiral Komack's speech was winding down. The moment Sarek had been waiting for was imminent. When Komack announced him, he was prepared. He stood, plaque in one hand and medal in the other, and made his way to the dais. "Thank you for your introduction, Admiral Komack." Komack nodded and excused himself. Sarek then turned to the audience before him.

There sat hundreds of individuals who had lost friends, coworkers, and family members in the desperate response to Vulcan's distress call. Sarek knew the emotions they were feeling; he felt them every time he thought of Amanda.

Closing his eyes for a mere moment, he forced himself to regain control.

He opened his eyes and looked out at the crowd. "I am here today on behalf of New Vulcan. One year ago, hundreds died in an attempt to save my planet. Though the planet could not be saved, their efforts were not in vain. In the short amount of time in which the ships held off the Narada, Vulcan was able to launch hundreds of shuttlecrafts and starships away from the planet. Nearly eleven thousand Vulcans escaped. Thanks to the efforts of your peers, my species is now able to reform and rebuild on New Vulcan. On behalf of all of New Vulcan, I am here today to present two awards.

"The first is in honor of every person who fought that day. We regret that their deaths were required to save our lives." Sarek paused for a moment to allow everyone to remember the fallen. "I present this plaque in gratitude."

Admiral Komack stepped forward to receive the plaque and then retook his seat.

"The other award is for one man. This man took great personal risks to save the very core of Vulcan." Sarek turned to the side. His son was looking at Captain Kirk as if waiting for Kirk's name to be called. Spock was too humble for a Vulcan. Suppression of pride was not supposed to induce humility. Humility was illogical; one should always acknowledge one's accomplishments. Sarek might understand his son a little better, but he would never get past the urge to shake him when he was being extraordinarily Human. That was perhaps the reason he wanted his son to be more Vulcan; it was Spock's tendency toward feelings that sparked Sarek's own emotions.

"Spock of Vulcan, I present this award to you for saving the Vulcan High Council and preserving Vulcan culture for future generations." Spock's eyebrows rose slightly, shock evident in his stiff movements as he stood and made his way across the stage. When Spock stopped in front of him, Sarek removed the medal from its box and pinned it on Spock's jacket. "New Vulcan thanks you." He nodded at Spock, and Spock inclined his head in return.

His section of the ceremony over, Sarek stepped away from the dais and allowed Komack to reclaim it. He paused before returning to his seat. Spock paused as well, looking at him questioningly. Before Sarek could change his mind, he spoke. "Your mother would be proud." He left his own pride unspoken, unable to admit to the emotion even for his son, but Spock seemed to recognize what he could not say.

"Thank you, Father."

They both turned and moved to their seats. The rest of the ceremony proceeded without any problems. Sarek was pleased, though not surprised, when Spock and Kirk were called up to receive medals from Starfleet. Spock had saved the essence of Vulcan, but he had also helped save Earth. It was only logical that Starfleet would choose to commend him.

After the ceremony, Sarek attended a smaller reception. He passed on his condolences to those who had lost people in the battle and accepted condolences on behalf of New Vulcan. The people who had known Amanda also mentioned her, but they were thankfully very few. Sarek had fought for three seasons to regain his control over his emotions, but he still battled his grief.

Most of New Vulcan was battling intense grief. There was much that needed to happen to secure the race and very few people to do it. No Vulcan had time to grieve. In slightly less than a season, the Vulcan people would face the anniversary of the loss of their homeworld. On that day, everything would stop. Everyone would take time to remember. Everyone would grieve.

And then they would move on.


Jim smiled as yet another person congratulated him on his award. "Thank you!" The lady nodded and walked away and Jim's smile fell. "Why are all these people congratulating me?" he complained to Spock.

Spock was not sure if Jim was being facetious, but he replied anyway. "I believe it is because you won an award, Captain."

Jim sighed. "Jim, Spock, call me Jim."

Spock shook his head. "We are at a Starfleet event. I am willing to acquiesce to your wishes in private, but to call you by name in public would be unseemly."

"You know I don't care about looking 'unseemly'. Heck, you could call me Jim on the bridge and I wouldn't give a damn." Jim laughed then. "I know you'd hate it though, so I won't ask you to."

Jim knew Spock too well; he would indeed be uncomfortable referring to him as Jim in a command situation. It was odd that his captain so easily intuited his moods. Even Nyota rarely picked up on the few emotions he allowed himself to feel. Spock felt that he understood Jim quite well in return, but Jim's emotions usually showed on his face, making it easy.

Though, Spock was also able to understand Jim when he did hide his emotions. At the moment, Jim was angry. Though he had smiled for most of the evening, Spock could tell from the clenched fists and tight posture that his captain was upset.

"Really though. Yeah, the award's nice and all, and I'm glad we managed to save Earth and the Federation, but that's not what today was about. They ought to be thinking about all the people who died, not me." Jim scowled. "Plus, most of them are ignoring you. What the fuck's up with that? You got the same award I did! In fact, you got two awards, and no one's even talking to you."

Spock had noticed the same thing. "I believe it is because they are remembering those who died. They died responding to Vulcan's distress call. It is only natural that they would see me, a Vulcan, as the cause of their deaths."

Jim's mouth fell open, but he remained speechless for a few moments. When he did speak, his voice was louder and angrier than Spock expected. "What the hell? That's so wrong. Nero was the one that killed them. Vulcan did nothing, and you saved millions!"

"As I have told you before, Captain, Humans allow their emotions to affect their logic." Spock was usually somewhat entertained by this occurrence, but the snubbing he had faced that evening was not at all amusing.

Jim slung an arm around Spock's shoulder. "Well, they can shove their illogic up their—"

"Captain!"

Jim rolled his eyes. "Fine, fine, I won't say it, but you can't stop me from thinking it."

Spock shrugged Jim's arm off his shoulder. "The reception is almost over," Spock observed. He was prepared to leave as soon as the clock ticked past the assigned hour.

Jim snagged Spock's sleeve and tugged him towards the door. "Let's go then. You've been snubbed by enough people for tonight."

"It is against regulations for commanding officers to leave a Starfleet event prior to the conclusion of the event." Spock didn't try to stop Jim from pulling him along though. He had the strength to stop Jim in his tracks, but if Jim chose to drag him off, Spock would have to obey. A command from a higher rank officer overrode nearly every regulation, after all.

Jim kept walking. They passed through the stately double doors of the gathering hall, down the long corridor of the Command Center, and out the revolving door at the front of the building. Jim didn't stop once he was outside the building. His grip slipped from Spock's sleeve and he grabbed Spock's hand instead, but he kept walking.

Jim walked all the way across the Starfleet Academy campus and out into the city. Neither of them spoke as they went. The silence was comfortable. Through the connection of their hands, Spock could feel the faint buzz of Jim's surface emotions.

The foremost emotions were anger and frustration. Under that was a scattering of sadness. Overlying all of it was lust. Spock knew the lust was not because of him. Lust was simply a part of Jim's emotional make-up.

It made Spock feel slightly uncomfortable, but not enough to let go of Jim's hand. His relationship with Uhura had ended months before, and to be perfectly blunt, Spock missed the sex more than he missed her. They were still friends, and Spock was grateful to her for helping him through a difficult time, but they shared little besides their knowledge of linguistics. It was a perfectly fine basis for a friendship but it was an unsteady base upon which to build a romantic relationship. Spock had been incredibly grateful when Uhura confessed that she wished to end the relationship.

When Jim finally came to a halt, it was something of a surprise to Spock. He had been more lost in his thoughts than normal. He took in the bar they were standing in front of. The outdated neon signs in the grungy windows told him all that he wished to know. "I would prefer to patronize a different establishment." Truthfully, he did not care for alcohol and would prefer to do something else with his free time, but Jim seemed to relish drinking as often as he could.

Jim squeezed his hand. "Come on, Spock! Live a little!" He released Spock's hand and pushed open the old-fashioned wooden door.

Spock followed him into the bar and was surprised to find it mostly clean inside. The atmosphere was not that of a dirty, old building but of a well-maintained historical reproduction. How intriguing.

Jim led the way to a booth near the back. "Well, did I surprise you?" He grinned as he slid into his seat.

Spock nodded slightly and took his own seat. "I was not expecting this type of atmosphere."

"Isn't it great?" Jim lounged back in his seat and waved at a server. The server motioned back that she come take their orders in a few minutes. "I love this place," Jim sighed. "It's downright homey."

It wasn't quite the description Spock would have chosen, but the bar was comfortable. "How did you discover it?"

Jim's countenance dimmed. "A boyfriend I had at the Academy, Gary Mitchell, brought me here on a date. Even after we broke up, I'd come back here on my own or with friends."

"You seem distressed. Was the breakup not your decision?"

"Oh, no, the breakup was mutual." Jim peered across the room towards the server. "Gary was on the Farragut last year."

No crewmembers of the Farragut survived. "I am sorry."

Jim shrugged. "Don't be. He always wanted a heroic death. Going down in the line of fire suited him; better that than some meaningless death."

The server appeared at their side. Jim ordered a Twilight Fizzer. Spock asked for water with lemon. He liked the addition of the citrus fruit; it made a simple glass of water an indulgence and left him feeling less out of place when the humans around him were drinking fancy beverages.

Jim moved onto small talk then, telling Spock gossip he could care less about. Yes, yes, Uhura was dating Scotty—Uhura had already told Spock—and Chekov and McCoy were totally hot for each other—Spock had guessed that weeks ago. Jim was put out the Spock had known the gossip. He proceeded to pout into his drink.

Spock tugged the drink from Jim's hands. "It is not healthy to imbibe in alcohol in order to forget your feelings."

"Says the guy who meditates his emotions away," Jim muttered.

Spock glared at him.

Jim threw his hands up in the air. "Alright, fine, you win. I'll stop drowning my sorrows. You gotta give me something to burn off all this emotion though or I'm gonna go punch some snotty admirals."

And Jim would, just to protect Spock's pride. It was somewhat endearing but mostly exasperating. Spock moved their drinks to the side and slid his credit chip into the machine on the table to deduct the credits for Jim's drink and a larger-than-necessary tip for the server since his water hadn't required any credits. They would not be drinking any more that night.

Spock returned his credit chip to his pocket. "What do you normally do to rid yourself of your excess emotions?"

Jim smirked. "I fight. Or I get drunk. Or I have sex. Or some combination of the three."

Spock did not wish to deal with a drunken Jim, and a fight between them would be unfair. Spock was far stronger than Jim, as well as faster. That left sex. Considering it made Spock's palms tingle a little; he was not adverse to the idea. It would certainly take care of his longing for sex.

Spock made up his mind. "We should return to the ship."

Jim pouted again. "You won't even let me pick up someone?"

"There is no need to 'pick someone up'." Spock let his eyebrow rise, knowing that him using slang and facial emotions at the same time would amuse Jim. "I am available."

Jim's pout morphed into a grin. "Really? You?"

Spock shrugged one shoulder. "Since I ended my relationship with Uhura, I have not found another bed partner. I enjoy sex and miss it. Engaging in copulation would solve problems for both of us."

Jim practically leapt out of his seat. "Hot damn. If I'd known you did casual sex, I'd have suggested it months ago." He grabbed Spock's hand and pulled him out of the booth.

Gone were the anger, frustration, and sadness that had filled Jim earlier. All that was left was the lust. It washed over Spock, making him shiver. When he spoke, his voice was huskier than he expected. "I would have accepted."

Spock had enjoyed casual sex with friends before, but Jim was far more attractive and closer to Spock than any of his previous casual partners had been. He was sure their joining would be… fascinating.

Jim headed for the door at a faster than normal pace. "We need to get back to the ship now, or I'm going to jump you in an alley."

It was a quick trip through the campus to the transporters. On board the ship, only a ghost crew had been left behind to keep the ship running prior to the beginning of their next mission in two days. Most people had chosen to take lodgings on the planet for the ceremony and reception. Jim, of course, refused to sleep anywhere but the ship.

They greeted the ensign manning the transporters and then Jim kept pulling Spock in the direction of their bedrooms. If the full crew complement had been onboard, Spock would have made Jim release him lest someone see them acting unseemly, but as it was, the only person they encountered was the transporter ensign.

At the entrance to Jim's room, they stopped. Jim reached out for the key pad, but his hand hovered over the buttons. "My room, or yours?" His eyes glittered with suppressed laughter.

Spock refrained from rolling his eyes and reached out to key in Jim's code. "I believe yours will be sufficient."

"You're not supposed to know that," Jim protested as the door slid open.

Spock stepped into the room, tugging Jim along by their still connected hands. "And yet you have never bothered to disguise the code when entering it." He stopped and turned to face Jim.

Jim laughed. "You caught me. All this time I've been hoping you would use it to sneak in here and molest me."

Spock stepped forward. He wrapped his free hand around the back of Jim's neck. "Indeed?" He tugged and Jim moved towards him. Spock changed his grip to tilt Jim's head slightly. "Then I suppose I should fulfill your wish." He kissed Jim.

The lust he had felt from Jim before doubled. Jim moaned and tugged his hand from Spock's, instead wrapping his arms around Spock's neck. The kiss deepened and Jim's hands slid down Spock's back and under his dress uniform's jacket. Jim whimpered as his hands came in contact with Spock's undershirt. "Off," Jim murmured against Spock's lips.

They pulled back from the kiss long enough to strip off their jackets and shirts. Spock attempted to place his clothing neatly on a chair, but Jim was too impatient for that. He swept the clothes from Spock's hands and yanked him back into a kiss. Removing their shoes and pants was accomplished without halting the kiss.

Jim walked backwards to the unmade bed, dragging Spock behind him. Jim's knees hit the back of the bed and he sat down abruptly, breaking them apart.

Jim chuckled. "Oops?"

Spock leaned down and kissed the corner of Jim's laughing mouth. "Take advantage of the moment to finish undressing."

They slipped off their socks and underwear, and fell into each other. Spock allowed the passion of the moment to overwhelm him, reveling in the feel of Jim's emotions running through his skin.

When it was all over, they lay beside each other in the bed. Spock spent a few more moments soaking up Jim's afterglow through the points where their bodies touched, and then he sat up.

Jim sat up too. "Hey, where are you going?"

"It is late. I must return to my bedroom now and sleep so we can be up early tomorrow." Spock made to climb out of the bed, but Jim grabbed his wrist and tugged him back down.

"Don't go. You'll ruin my afterglow." Jim pulled on Spock until he lay back down. Jim rolled over, keeping hold of Spock's wrist and wrapping Spock's arm around his waist. He scooted backwards a bit until they were spooned together.

This was supposed to be casual. Spock was not romantically interested in Jim. He found Jim attractive and he had definitely enjoyed the sex, but he only thought of Jim as a very close friend. Tentatively, Spock let himself feel all of Jim's emotions, searching underneath the surface emotions. He felt lust, of course, and some remnants of the earlier anger, as well as a deep feeling of contentment and friendship. There were no emotions that declared Jim held anything more than a strong affection for Spock. He relaxed against Jim.

Jim's elbow suddenly prodded him in the stomach. "Now that you're done freaking out about whether I secretly love you, can you grab the covers? You're warmer than I am, but you're not that hot."

Spock would never understand how Jim always knew what he was thinking. He acquiesced to Jim's request, grabbing the covers at the foot of the bed and pulling them over both of them. Jim kept his room warmer than most Humans, but Spock was thankful for the extra warmth of the blankets and Jim. It was difficult to maintain his higher-than-Human body temperate when he was sleeping, though his bodily control as a Vulcan allowed him to moderate his temperature when awake.

Jim rolled over enough to press a kiss to Spock's lips. "Stop thinking and go to sleep. We do have to be up early after all." He moved back into his earlier spot. Then he picked up Spock's hand from his stomach and twined his fingers together with Spock's.

Spock closed his eyes and prepared to sleep. Vulcans were truly tactile beings, though their touch telepathy forced them to avoid contact. Spock enjoyed touching people, and he was glad that he was comfortable with Jim's emotions and able to shield against them enough for them to sleep together. Jim squeezed Spock's hand, tugging him out of his thoughts.

"I will sleep," Spock sighed, knowing Jim would not leave him alone until he did. Jim squeezed his hand once more, and then they both fell asleep.


Sarek had just returned to his room for the evening when an incoming message appeared on his personal computer from New Vulcan. The message timestamp showed it was in the early afternoon for the sender, but it was nearly 2300 hours on Earth and Sarek was exhausted. No logical being would send him a communication so late in the evening unless it was urgent, so he had to conclude there was some kind of emergency occurring that needed his input.

He opened the communication. His mother appeared on the screen. "Sarek."

Sarek nodded. "Mother. May I ask why you are contacting me?"

His mother's face tightened, her lips pursing and her eyebrows drawing down. "You have not been home for two weeks. A situation has developed in your absence."

If his mother was showing emotion, the situation was indeed dire. "Please elucidate."

Her gaze was sharp through the computer screen. "Men are experiencing Pon Farr earlier than expected. Three hundred and twenty-four men have experienced Pon Farr in the past two weeks. One hundred and seventy-eight more are showing signs that they will soon enter it. The men have ranged in age from seventeen to one-hundred and ninety-three. The number of women available to bond is rapidly decreasing." Her gaze flickered away from the screen. "I have consented to taking a new bondmate."

His mother had refused a partner from the time his father died twenty years past. The shortage of available partners was serious. With only slightly more than eleven thousand Vulcans on the planet and half of them adult men and only one-third of them adult women, soon every available woman would be bonded. His mind raced through the calculations. At seventeen, some of the men were undergoing Pon Farr more than ten years early. Even if the bonding age for young women was lowered to the corresponding seventeen, there were still not enough available mates.

"There is no way to find a suitable bond mate for every male on the planet if this continues."

His mother nodded. "Indeed, and we do not know what is causing the acceleration of the Pon Farr cycle, or who is at risk. You must return to the planet."

"I cannot. I still have diplomatic duties to attend to." There was much planning to be done prior to the Vulcan memorial service. "I can research the problem on Earth. Please send all available data to me."

"You must come home, Sarek." His mother looked away again. "You may enter the cycle soon yourself."

All of Sarek rebelled at the idea. Entering Pon Farr would mean taking a bondmate, a wife. It was far too soon for that. Amanda had not yet been dead a year! "I cannot return."

His mother's gaze was sharp as steel. "Do not let your emotions impede you."

"I am not experiencing Pon Farr. I have duties to attend to. It is logical for me to remain on Earth."

"I, T'Pau, head of the house of Surak, order you to return to New Vulcan." His mother's posture stiffened. "Do not put yourself at risk, my son."

His duties could mostly be completed on New Vulcan. He could indeed be at risk of entering Pon Farr. Regardless of his personal feelings, there was no logical reason for him to remain on Earth. "Yes, Mother. I will return."

"I await your arrival." His mother held up her hand in salute. "Peace and long life."

Sarek returned the gesture. "Live long and prosper." He ended the connection.

There was much planning to be done. He would have to request transportation from Starfleet or locate a private vessel going near New Vulcan in the next few days, which would be unlikely. Starfleet would request a reason for his sudden return to New Vulcan, and he could not tell them the whole truth. Vulcans did not speak of Pon Farr to out worlders. He would also have to try to contact the rogue Vulcan communities around the galaxy and see if any of them would be willing to send women to New Vulcan to bond with the men undergoing Pon Farr. If none were willing, he would have to locate a secondary source of women. Romulans, as vulcanoids, would be a potential source and would limit the amount of genetic loss in the population, but since Nero, most Vulcans had become wary of Romulans, almost to the point of hatred, though few would admit to the emotion.

Humans would be the next likely source of bondmates. The genetic disparity could be dealt with in future generations, with selective bonding weeding out the Human genes. In that case, Sarek would have to inform Starfleet and thus all of the Federation about Pon Farr. No, Romulus would be a much better source. Perhaps he could entreat Romulan women to move to New Vulcan with promises of jobs. They could call it a peace-keeping arrangement. They would have to employ Romulan men too, of course, to keep them from becoming suspicious, but the primary purpose would be to find bondmates for Vulcan men.

Unless, of course, they could find a way to halt the onset of Pon Farr. In that case, unbonded men could be sent off planet to find bondmates of their own choosing, as Sarek had done with Amanda.

Thinking of Amanda made Sarek think of Spock. He would have to message Spock about what was occurring on New Vulcan. Though it was unknown whether Spock, as a hybrid, would experience Pon Farr, it would be prudent to let him know what was occurring.

Sarek stood and began to prepare for bed. It was too late to consider all of the possibilities as he could do nothing about them at that hour. It would be more prudent to sleep and wake early to begin planning.