The Other Side of the Fire

Chapter 9: Sharing Memories

October, 2267

He led her to the pillows on the floor before his firepot, settling her down beside him, facing him. He laid his hand upon her face, gently, his fingers seeking the spots that were required. And then he gently sank down into her, gradually opening up the meld until it filled them both to the brim. He drew her to him, indicating where she should go.

He started with the day they had spent together in that room on the planet the Enterprise had been in orbit about. He indicated certain things - his awkwardness, the tremors in his hand, his fever, his loss of memory. He was surprised to discover that she had noted all these things, not realizing what they meant. She knew now. He did not think these symptoms would ever go unnoticed, uncommented on, in the future.

He drew her gently on, showing her the things that had transpired in his quarters, how he had smashed his comlink, the talk he had had with Jim, the way that Nurse Chapel had continually pushed herself at him and his strange response to her. She was not entirely thrilled with that last, he could sense...indignation. He also sensed hostility towards the other woman. Well, he could not say that he would not feel the same way in her place.

Now he led her slowly to the scene on the bridge, showing her the emotions that had roiled through him there. And felt her concern, the peace she sent him. And she showed him the pain she had felt then, the shock, the betrayal. He let her feel his sorrow for that. And his absolute conviction that he had thought it would never happen. They sat quietly for some time, adjusting, feeling what the other had felt, accepting.

And then he drew her on, to the events that had occurred on the hot sands of his home world. And felt her shock and dismay, her fear and sorrow. Her absolute certainty that this was not something to be shared with anyone else. Jim and Bones had conspired to conceal what had happened, and she felt they had done exactly the right thing. When he showed her T'Pring's actions, she was incensed. She burned with antagonism to her. That this woman had dared to shun him! To reject him and leave him to die! He was astounded at the depth of her reaction. If this had not happened, they would not now be sitting here, sharing memories. Still, she did not accept those actions as honorable. He was amazed, awed.

He showed her his actions then, his feelings when he thought he had killed his captain, his friend. The agony he had felt. And she soothed him, gave him calm and peace. And then he revealed the fear he had felt when he returned to the bridge and she was there, that she would never speak to him again as a friend, much less anything else. That she would not trust him, not believe him. And she showed him the hurt, the pain she had felt when she thought that he had deliberately concealed this from her, that he had been using her. And he hurt for her, offered her abject apologies. And she filled him with love and light and joy. And again, they sat and pondered, so full of each other.

When they again began to drift together, he showed her how he had returned to his quarters from the bridge and tried to meditate, to calm himself from the events of the day. And discovered, to his dismay, that the fever and the shaking, and the burning, had returned. He revealed to her his knowledge at that point, that there was only one way that he could survive this. His fear that she would also reject him. His fear that he would injure her, that he would not be able to exert enough control to moderate his strength. His final decision that, if he was to live, he must go to her, and beg her help.

And then she began to draw him in, to lead him down her memories, to let him see how he had appeared to her, when she had opened her door. How confused she had been, how uncertain. How she had wished that he had explained these things to her before, so that she might have been prepared. She showed him how she wished she had been able to provide him the relief he needed, so that he would not have had to suffer so. He was humbled by her, by the strength she revealed to him. He flooded her with his gratitude, his love - and she drew it in and sent it back, tenfold.

And now she led him through those events that followed, slowly, showing him how it had been for her. And once again he sorrowed at the pain he had caused, and she would not allow it. She had done it for him, because she loved him, because she wished him to live, and she would not have him regret any of it.

Finally they came to the end of it, to the place where his mind was clear again, free of the fever, the confusion, the compulsion. He dropped his hand from her face and let it lay on his thigh, watching her face at she sat there, eyes closed. She was still reliving those memories, that she had dredged up for him, to show him, to share, so that he did not have that huge gap in his memory. She opened her eyes, and looked at him, and she smiled. He was completely undone. "Nyota." He whispered her name, his hands rising to cup her face, his body responding to her, wanting her. She was more, much more than he deserved.

She leaned forward and pressed her hands against his chest, bent her face to his, her lips brushing softly against his skin. He was truly lost. And she had found him, rescued him, preserved him. He pulled her close against his chest, surrounding her with his love, holding her as though he would drown without her - which he surely would. She slid her arms around his neck and whispered soft words in his ear and set him free - free from the pain and doubt, free from the worry and sorrow, free to love her. Which he would do every day for the rest of his life. He had no doubt about that whatsoever. And every day, he would do his best to show her how much he cared, how much he loved her. Because she was his and his life was joy and light and love, because of her.

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Author's Note: This is the last chapter of this story. The sequel "Life is Not Always Easy" starts tomorrow.