Summary; AU. Excludes Amok Time & Journey to Babel. Spock visits Vulcan for an arranged marriage to Sorvik. His crewmates, however, coming from a different culture, are concerned when told that he is considered Sorvik's property, and believe he is being abused. Humans! Slash. NON-GRAPHIC.

A/N: Inspired by Amok Time, mostly, especially where T'pau tells T'pring she will be the victor's 'property'. And I thought, well, Vulcans might actually be able to make a tradition like that work and be kept, with how they are, but humans wouldn't react well to something like that. In this Spock is quite fine with being 'property'. The crew, however, misinterprets a lot. Especially as Spock never told Kirk and McCoy about pon far.

Cultural Complications

At the start of shift Commander Spock, instead of going straight to his post, paused by the captain's seat.


The captain looked at him expectantly.

"It has come to my attention," the Vulcan began evenly, "that I shall require three weeks absence on Vulcan."

A pause.

"...You?" Jim blinked at him, slightly baffled. "May I ask why? I don't think you've ever requested leave before - heck, you actively avoid it."

"I am quite certain that I have accumulated enough leave time, Sir."

"Of course you have, you could retire if you wanted to," Jim said, amused. "Which isn't the point. Has something happened on Vulcan?"

Spock paused a moment, eyeing the captain, and then relented. There was no one closer to him than Jim; he could tell him. "I am returning for my upcoming marriage, which will take place near the end of the leave."

"Marriage!" Jim's voice was loud and delighted, attracting surprised looks from all over the bridge. "Well, congratulations, Mr. Spock! I didn't even know you were engaged."

"You're getting married, Sir?" Uhura asked, a smile stretching across her face.

"Affirmative," Spock intoned.

"You never mentioned an engagement, or even a relationship," Jim said again, obviously amused. "How long?"

"I have been 'engaged' since the age of seven, by my parent's arrangements, Sir, though due to my previous fiance's decisions and illogical affairs the first was terminated and a new partner found only recently."

"...You have an arranged marriage?" Jim asked, his smile fading slightly.

"Of course."

"Well, that's... logical, I suppose." He still looked a little taken aback.

"Is that an issue, Sir?" Spock queried. "Your tone would imply that this is a disfavorable means of marriage."

"Well, no... I'm sure that Vulcans deal with arranged marriages much more logically than humans. I'm afraid it just brings some mental images from horror tales of old-earth, where the poor wives were property of some men they were forced to marry, and such."

Spock tilted his head, still puzzled. "Why is being the property of the spouse seen as such a negative factor?"

Jim looked taken aback.

"You're not... " he shook his head. "You won't own the poor women by Vulcan law, will you?"

"I am not getting married to a female, Sir, but to a male, and I shall be his property." He tilted his head. "Why is this disfavorable?"

Jim seemed frozen for a moment, staring at him incomprehensibly. "You are going to be the property of some random Vulcan male you didn't even pick?" He asked incredulously. "Do you at least know his name?"


Jim stared at him, and Spock realized the entire bridge was doing the same. Feeling strangely self-conscious; "As I said, is there an issue, Sir?"

The captain's look turned inscrutable now. "And you're fine with this?" He clarified.

"Affirmative," said Spock, bemused.

"You see nothing wrong with being someone's property?" Why should he? Vulcan mates were bonded mentally. What made one unhappy did the same for the other. This was a tradition, and there were never issues with it. If his pon far had been first, his mate would be his property.

"Not at all. It is the Vulcan way." The captain considered him. "Sir, I still do not understand your reaction."

Jim glanced at Sulu and Chekov, a little helplessly, but they looked equally troubled.

"Spock..." He frowned. "I... Well, it's just, on Earth there were always stories, like I said, of miserable wives ordered about by arranged - husbands who didn't care for them at all."

"Ah." He thought he understood a little. "If I am not satisfied with the arrangements, Sir, I may certainly petition for an annulment from the Head of my family, though it is highly unusual. In any case, such abuses as those on old Earth are not in practice on Vulcan. They are not logical."

Jim's lips twitched slightly at that, but he was still worried. "But he can make you do what he wants? If he, for example, said to quit Starfleet, you would have to?"

"...I am also able to petition the Head of House to veto such..."

"That's not what I'm asking."

"...Yes, Sir. However, I find such an order highly unlikely. I expect no complications. My human mother fully approved, I assure you, and father tells me she was quite... selective."

Jim smiled a little at that. "Well, alright then." Spock looked at him expectantly. "Hmm? Oh, right, leave time. What day, exactly..."

"Arranged marriage?" McCoy said, incredulously. "Are you an idiot? Can't you just refuse?"

To be fair, McCoy did not know of the pon far that made marriage mandatory for all male Vulcans. Still, Spock found the very idea strange. "Refuse? Of course not."

That didn't seem to help McCoy. "So your parents basically just pick the first male they see and tell you to go fu - "

"Bones!" Jim snapped. McCoy shut his mouth, though he still looked angry for his friend's sake. Though he knew it was only McCoy's odd way of showing his misguided concern, Spock was still slightly offended.

"I assure you the selection is far from 'random', Doctor."

"Hmmph." McCoy snorted, unconvinced. "And why do you have an arranged marriage to a male, anyway?"

"I was not aware that humans still held beliefs that a couple should be only between those of the opposite sexes."

"Not what I meant. Normally, from what I understand, arranged marriages are for uniting families or what not, which I suppose fits with all this 'clan' and 'house' business you mention, but also to produce children. So unless you Vulcan 'males' can do a few things you're keeping quite about..."

"As a Doctor, I woul think you would realize that hybrids are almost always sterile, as am I. My bondmate is likely similiarly unfortunate, or else has enough siblings as for blood-children to be unnecessary and seeks for a short term house-alliance." And without a bondmate, we both will die.

"Alliances," McCoy muttered. "What do you need house alliances for in this day and age?"

Spock opened his mouth to speak.

"Don't answer that."

Spock was late going to Vulcan.

It wasn't his fault, or Jim's. After an attack by some strange omniscient life form left them crippled, this and confusing orders from Starfleet slowed down the Enterprise considerably. Spock was just now beaming down to Vulcan, two and a half weeks after he had meant to arrive.

"Sorry about this, Spock." Jim apologized. "Are you still taking the three weeks?"

"Three days should be sufficient, Sir." Spock said evenly. The extra time had been to familiarize himself with his still unknown mate before the other's pon far, which had certainly begun a few days ago; the other, he knew, would be at the stage in the pon far where he was strong and insatiable with the growing need, yet had not been affected long enough to be weak. It was very poor timing. He knew the experience was destined to be unpleasant.

When the pon far was tended to immediately, Spock had been told, the encounter could be agreeable. But it was already three or four days since the expected start of his mate's. His night would be filled with blood.

Three days. With his mate mad with pon far, the 'bonding' could take a long time, up to twenty four hours.

He had a feeling the other two days would not be enough to recover.


The escort was waiting when he arrived. He was taken to the grounds, heard the PANG of the gong his mate struck, but the events later would just be a blur to him. He did recall one thing, paying attention to when his mate's name was finally said by T'pau. Sorvik. He was called 'Sorvik'. Their minds were joined by T'pau, but it would be the bonding that would cement the link. Now Sorvik had to be pressed back by armed guards, his maddened mind calling to join with his mate.

They were escorted away, and Sorvik, eyes burning with the Fire, was practically restrained from jumping on his mate right there. They were taken to the appropriate area, then left alone.

Sorvik lunged, and the next seventeen hours were just as Spock predicted; long, rough, and bloody.

Spock woke feeling like he had spent a few days being tortured cruelly on some alien world, except he was home, on Vulcan, and the 'torturer' was his new bond-mate. His mate was already awake, watching him. Spock tried to move his head, then winced at the pain. A glance down showed light streaks of blood across his chest, which was blotched throughout with bruises. His arms were bruised as well, many of the bruises shaped like hands or fingers, and... well, he had a feeling he wouldn't be sitting awhile. His neck stung; he recalled hazily that Sorvik had bitten. A lot. It didn't seem an inch of his body was unharmed. He was rather certain his wrist was broken.

Sorvik, seeing his eyes open, pressed two fingers gently to his cheek in a Vulcan kiss. His eyes were mournful. Sorvik sat up, but gently laid a hand on the half-Vulcan's chest as Spock tried to rise. Not much wanting to increase the pain, Spock readily complied, watching wearily as Sorvik collected rags, water, and a dermal regenerator. Healers were never seen for any injuries caused by a rough pon far, unless life threatening.

He tried to take a rag as Sorvik sat by him and wetted one, but this time he heard a mental voice in his mind through the newly formed link. The order was simple.


Spock relented, letting his hand fall, and Sorvik carefully blotted away the blood. Despite his physical pain, the warmth in the back of his mind from the bond was welcome, and he sent his own message. "Feel no guilt, t'hy'la. No one is at blame."

Sorvik's eyes met his briefly, inky-black and sad, and he shook his head. "For this, yes, I am at blame."

"Had the ship come sooner - "

"I should be able to control." Sorvik dabbed the blood off a cut, pausing to run the dermal regenerator over it.

Spock shook his head silently, but merely watched him. The cuts were not fully healed, of course, but would be soon, and the bruises were lighter now. Sorvik's jaw clenched as he saw the broken wrist, and Spock felt the wave of remorse and self-hate Sorvik could not supress flow through the bond. He comforted the other best he could through the bond, but had a feeling he was ignored. The wrist was wrapped; it would take at least a week or even two to recover, even with modern medicine.

Sorvik now allowed himself to lay beside Spock, carefully wrapping an arm about him. Spock splayed hand across his mate's face.

"You should rest," Sorvik told him.

"We have not had so much as a chance to say a word to each other. Are you not curious?"

Sorvik considered him a moment with those serious black eyes. He was pale, Spock noted, almost distractedly. He was at least a few inches taller than Spock, and bulkier; but he knew already why his mother had approved. Outwardly he was menacing, but his manner was gentle.

After a beat, Sorvik put his hand on Spock's face. It was not necessary between bondmates, but the ritual words echoed in his mind, nonetheless.

"My mind to your mind..."

Sorvik saw everything Spock knew; life as a child, an emotional mother and a contradicting, disapproving father, ridicule by his 'logical' peers, the love of his brother, who left, defying Father, joining Starfleet, hardships, xenophobia and prejudice but, finally, acceptance, first in Pike, a sort of mutual respect with others on Enterprise, and then Jim and McCoy came aboard, drew the real Spock out, and he was home.

Spock saw Sorvik's life; an easy-going father, a cold mother who distanced herself from the family. Five brothers, all elder than the forty-nine year old. He was a diplomat, Spock learned, a junior ambassador, but tinkered in various sciences as a hobby. Spock was the second mate of this one. Before him had been another male, also sterile like Spock and Sorvik, this one a musician, Sernil. Sernil had been killed in what humans would call a freak accident, stabbed in the heart by an ancient decorative knife in a street vendor's booth as he had walked by, under the weight of a heavy instrument, stumbled, and fallen. Sorvik had nearly been killed by the sudden psychic shock. He mourned Sernil, but thought he could be just as fond of this new mate.

Most importantly, though, Spock looked at Sorvik's nature, and vice versa. Both approved. Spock showed Sorvik, in the truth of the meld, that he did not resent the other for his injuries. Content, memories and questions were shared until, at some point, the weary two fell asleep mid-meld.

Spock touched two fingers to his mate's on the last day. He still ached all over, but he was content. His mate was a good person, someone he could take pride in belonging to. He sincerely regretted not having longer to spend with him, but he had his duties. Still, he would be able to speak with Sorvil through their mind-links, at any distance. His mother had been quite correct in her choice. He wished he could have seen her, but of course he knew better than to try and visit with his father still on-planet.

Sorvik hesitated, then moved forward to wrap his arms about his mate, touching his forehead to Spock's in a very Vulcan gesture, strengthening the bond for a moment.


Spock closed his eyes briefly, basking in the warmth of the bond, then reluctantly released his mate. Sorvik stepped back, and Spock flipped open his communicator.


Jim smiled in greeting as he saw Spock, but his eyes widened when he saw Spock's neck. He managed a stifled sound that he turned into a cough, and Scotty, less retrained, laughed without trying to hold it in. There had to be half a dozen bite marks there, Jim thought, grinning.

"Spock." He managed to school his feature into an almost-straight face. "Did everything go well?"

His first officer looked just as blank as always. Jim admired him a little for that, all things given. "Affirmative. I find Sorvik's personality agreeable. I do not believe there will be any complications."

That pleased Jim even more. "Good. You have today off, of course, but Bones wants to see you in Sickbay immediately."

He failed to see the wrapped wrist.

"There you - " McCoy's face suddenly went completely blank. Spock raised an eyebrow at him.




"HA!" Spock blinked and the nurse behind McCoy jumped as McCoy began to laugh hysterically, grabbing onto a biobed to hold himself up. Spock waited patiently as the nurses rather conveniently disappeared. Finally, the doctor righted himself again, looked at Spock, and then collapsed into laughter.

"Was there something you required me for, Doctor?" Spock asked evenly.

The doctor, with noticeable effort, righted himself. "I - yeah, I..." he snickered a little, trying not to look at the hickeys again. "Yes. You're due for your physical, actually."

Spock stiffened. "Certainly it can wait a few - "

"Uh - uh, now." McCoy grasped his shoulder and steered him into a nearby room.

Actually, this was just to get that little voice in his head to shut up, the little voice telling him that arranged marriages were probably not a good thing, and who knew what would happen to Spock?

Jim had forgotten the matter easily enough, assured of his friend's invincibility. McCoy had no such delusions.

"Take off your shirt," he said distracyedly, rummaging through the shelves. Blood pressure, at least, still had to be taken the same way. "You can wait to put on the gown." He turned, but Spock was making no effort to comply. "Well?"

"Doctor, I really believe another time would be - "


Spock met his gaze a moment, but McCoy was not budging. Finally, he started to pull of his shirt - very carefully. McCoy's eyes narrowed. He hadn't noticed the wrapped wrist earlier...

As the shirt moved up, McCoy felt his heart leap to his chest.

Bruises, covering him. Some just splotches, other certainly not. His arms were covered with ugly hand marks, up and down. Green, partially-healed bite marks went farther than could be seen with a shirt on, and from the look of him this was all after a treatment. His wrist was apparently broken, and was his shoulder...

There was no laughter in his face now. Grimly, he ran a tricorder over his friend, unable to meet Spock's eyes. "Dislocated shoulder, too." He growled, the first sparks of anger replacing his shock.

"Is it?" Surprised, Spock looked at his shoulder. McCoy frankly wasn't even surprised he hadn't noticed; his friend was so covered with marks the pain of the shoulder probably hadn't even warranted a thought. Giving Spock a brief look in warning, McCoy snapped it back into place. Spock didn't make a sound.

"Turn around." Eyeing him warily, Spock did so. McCoy's shoulders started shaking with fury as he looked at his back, even worse then the front, covered with scratches and gauges and small green spots where nails had dug in. All healed as much as one could; another treatment in a day or two would help, but McCoy couldn't do anything right now.

"Damn it!" he swore. Spock looked at him, startled. "Stay here. Do not leave this room." He hesitated briefly, but Spock had obviously already been treated. The best thing for him now would be for McCoy to make sure this never happened again.

He stormed onto the bridge in a fury.

"Jim!" He barked. "We're going back to Vulcan!"

"Are we?" Jim blinked at his CMO, bemused.

McCoy remembered himself enough to spare a quick glance about the bridge, seeing Scotty, Uhura, Sulu, and Chekov, and ploughed on. "Jim, I've never seen any kinks that produce something like that. I don't know what the devil happened down there, but there's not a square inch on Spock's that's not bruised, he looks like he's spent a few days locked up with a pissy Klingon!"

Jim stiffened. "What are you saying?"

"You know very well what I'm saying!" McCoy raged. "The bastard beat him. His wrist is broken, his shoulder is dislocated, all in three fucking days."

Jim sprang up from the chair. "Chekov, plot a course to Vulcan, Uhura, get me... some... Dammit, who do I talk to on Vulcan?"

"Look up the head of his 'House' that Spock's always going on about," McCoy demanded. Uhura hastily did so, eyes wide and angry. Chekov punched at his keys with fury as he plotted a course back to Vulcan, hissing under his breath in angry Russian.

McCoy looked at Jim. "I'll be with him in Sickbay, meet me when you can." He left.

"Sir!" Jim snapped his head to look at Uhura. "The head of Spock's clan is T'pau, Sir."

"Get her on, now."

"Sir, it's T'pau," She practically snarled back, equally furious about the matter. "I can't! Everyone wants to talk to her, I can't just get through like that - "

"Just tell her secretary or whatever it's family business!"

He jumped up to pace the bridge as Uhura furiously hissed into her speaker, arguing with some Vulcan. Some time later; "Sir, I have her!"

"On scre - " a yeoman walked onto the bridge with a padd. "Not now!" Scotty bolted over to usher her back to the turbolift. "On screen!"

The calm face of T'pau came onto the screen, further infuriating Jim. Did she not care what was happening? "Ma'am, are you the head of Spock's House?" He demanded.

Her face didn't flicker. "I am," she said evenly.

"Lady T'pau, my CMO has informed me that my first officer has sustained injuries which would lead him to suspect domestic violence." He had the ridiculous urge to yell 'how do you plead?'. "I demand that the matter be looked into."

Her serenity didn't alter. "No."

The bridge didn't seem to breathe, and then Jim drew himself up. "No?"

"You are outworlders. You can not understand. Spock has stated himself pleased with his bondmate."

"Which doesn't mean he is!"

She raised an eyebrow. "Capt-een Kirk. You are not permitted to send any personnel on Vulcan at this time. I judge it quite unnecessary to look into these unfounded accusations."


"Peace, and long life, Captain. I expect that your ship will not be approaching Vulcan."

And the screen flickered off.

Spock looked after McCoy with considerable bemusement. Sorvik, who had wanted to see Spock's shipmates more, was watching through the bond, and equally nonplussed. "Is he always so..."




There was a small pause. "Do you know why he reacted in such a manner?"

Spock hesitated. "Humans, of course, do not go into pon far. Furthermore, the captain and McCoy earlier expressed... Some concern over the thought of an arranged marriage. I... believe that they worried that such a relationship is by nature generally abusive."

"Abusive?" The thought was alien to Vulcans.

A nurse entered distractedly, stopped, and stared at him.

"Was there something you required?" He asked, tilting his head. She stared a moment longer, shook her head slowly, and backed out.

"Abusive?" Sorvik thought again.

Spock thought of a colonist they had once brought into sickbay, showing her mentally to Sorvik, explaining. "Those bruises, on her face and chest, were made by her spouse, but not due to any madness such as the pon far. They were made with the spouse fully aware and cognizant." He felt Sorvik recoil from the image. "My injuries are much more severe. They are merely concerned. As they do not know of pon far, it is not a totally illogical conclusion to make."

McCoy returned now, so Sorvik gave no response. The doctor approached him again, but now his face was carefully blank. "Sorry about that," he said, very calmly. Spock mentally explained to Sorvik that a human in his supposed position would be very frightened, and the doctor was trying to put him at ease. "First of all, have all your injuries been treated?" He asked.

"Yes. I assure you Sorvik was quite thorough."


"My bondmate." McCoy looked at him, face twitching like he wanted to say something, but he was quiet a moment. Finally;

"You're on medical leave until further notice. I want to see you again tomorrow, I should be able to treat those more then. In the meantime, get some rest." He paused a second, and Spock, sensing he was not done, stayed put. Very carefully; "Is there anything you would like to tell me?"

"Negative." He tilted his head, thought of telling McCoy that they had not completed the physical, and thought better of it. He left, McCoy staring after him in dismay.

Jim let out a string of creative curses and oaths at the blank screen, furious. He shook his head, then spun as he saw red in the corner of his eye. A different yeoman, wide-eyed, was staring not at Jim but the empty screen.

"Don't say a word," he warned her, pointing to the turbolift. She nodded hastily, then fled.

Jim let his hand fall, tapping his fingers spasdically on the arm rest. "Sulu, she a gossiper?"

"Yes, Sir."

"Think she'll keep this quiet?"

"No, Sir."

"Right." He pursed his lips. Finally; "Full stop."

The ship halted.

Jim stared at Vulcan. Another minute and they'd be back in orbit, but they'd just been forbidden by T'pau, who ruled Vulcan. So they'd be illegally there while trying to get the authorities to help them. Well.

He took a deep breath. "Mr. Chekov, back on original course."

Scotty looked at him sharply, and Sulu slammed a fist against his leg. Uhura turned her face away. Chekov himself looked at the captain with wide eyes. "Kepteen?"

"You heard me," he said tersely. "Scotty, you have the bridge."

"Sir, trust me, the Vulcan's are going to be no help here."

"What do you mean?" Jim demanded.

M'Benga sighed. "Sir, I saw some cases like this on Vulcan. Once when I interned there, I helped treat this real young women who was nearly dead from her injuries. A lot of the bruises were hand marks, and the husband was the only one around. I was shocked when they just let him see her, didn't even ask what had happened. I pointed out that it could be a case of abuse. The doctor just looked at me, said that it wasn't and I was an off-worlder and wouldn't understand. I tried to bring it to the attention of others, but I was ignored and put off the case. I saw two more cases like that, but no one ever seemed to care."

"How?" McCoy asked incredulously. "I know they try to act all heartless, but they're a peaceful race, that kind of thing horrifies Spock."

"Yes Sir. I've considered that. Maybe they just can't believe one of their people would do something so inhumane and illogical. But I don't think so. I looked up old cases in the database. The last case of domestic abuse would be about forty years ago now, and it was over pretty quick. Husband hit wife, wife told House, House told authorities, Household got permission to kill husband." McCoy blanched a little. "Yes, their punishments can be a little severe for pacifists, but that sort of thing, in the few cases I could find, was always sorted out quickly and ruthlessly. Considering that, I don't think it's simply a matter of all these people not wanting to talk; there's something else going on."

Rumor traveled fast on the Enterprise, and especially when it involved the captain or the first officer, and even more so when it involved one's health. Therefore, news of this magnitude was around the ship within the hour.

Through the testimonies of the yeoman on the bridge, the nurse in Sickbay, and everyone who had seen a furious senior officer storm by all knew that this rumor was definitely fact. Everyone had heard that the Commander had an arranged marriage three days earlier, it was the talk of the ship. Most didn't like the thought of an arranged marriage, but this was worse than anyone could have anticipated.

Jim entered Spock's quarters after speaking with McCoy and M'Benga, troubled and grim. From what McCoy had said, Spock was trying to acts casually. For now, Jim would give him a few days to get settled and speak to Jim, if he wanted, before approaching him about the matter. Or that was the plan, anyway..

His eyes flickered to Spock's wrist as he entered the room. "Spock," he said, trying to keep his tone light.

"Jim." Spock looked up from his computer console. Immediately, Jim's first intentions flew out the window.

"Spock..." Spock wondered if he should call this to Sorvik's attention, but dismissed the thought. The bond remained a warm hum in the back of his mind. "Would... What is your opinion on your new bondmate?"

Spock considered this. "I am quite pleased with my parents' choice. He seems to be of good character, and I believe we are compatible. As I said before, I foresee no difficulties in this bond. I am content."

Denial, Jim decided, or a plain lie. "I see. So, do your parents regularly return from seeing each other beaten up?"

"Of course not, Sir."

"Mm-hm." Jim nodded. "So, why do you seem to think it's alright for you?"

"With respect, Sir, I have no answer."

Jim tapped his fingers on the table. "What did he do to you?"

"If you wish me to lie, Captain, I shall, but I will not speak of my time on Vulcan." Pon far was not even spoken of among fellow Vulcans. With a human...

"I see." Jim stared at Spock inscrutably a moment. His face softened slightly. Gently; "No one will think any less of you, Spock. You need to go to the authorities, your head of House, someone. And you certainly don't have to hide anything from me. I'm your friend."

"I have nothing to speak of to any of those people, Jim, including yourself." Spock said evenly. "If you will excuse me, Doctor McCoy recommended I rest, and I am weary."

"...Of course."

Spock was still on medical leave in two days, but ventured forth from his quarters with Jim to the rec. rooms. He noticed the eyes trailing him in the halls as Jim tried for a stilted conversation. He was mostly healed by this point, thanks to the doctor's treatments, but the fading bite-marks about his neck and the still-wrapped wrist spoke enough for the crew to draw their own conclusions. As he entered the room immediately hushed, and Jim glared at the personnel until they slowly returned to their activities, feigning disinterest as they darted glimpses at the first officer. Spock decided Jim must have planned this, because Uhura, Scotty, Sulu, Chekov, and McCoy descended on the table as one a moment later. They did not make any reference to what they were clearly thinking, but the conversation was awkward at times, their voices soft as they addressed him, their eyes pitying. He had promised to open the link again and talk with Sorvik each night to talk. He decided he would avoid mention of the crew's thoughts.

He was back on duty in another two days, and still the bridge crew treated him like glass. While it was apparent they were merely concerned, it was nonetheless agitating, and even moreso because he could not alieve their worries by explaining the circumstances of his injuries. They seemed to hover about him in their off-duty hours, as did, really, the entire crew. Touching, but still frustrating. He sought out Jim privately the next day. The captain looked at him seriously as he requested the talk, and it struck Spock that Jim was, apparently, expecting him to finally break and tell him what the entire crew expected.

He had never had such a strong, illogical desire to laugh.

"Jim." He considered the captain a moment. "I find the crew's behaviour around me disconcerting, including your own behaviour. I can not be sure of what you believe, but the actions of the crew are quite unwarranted."

Jim blinked a moment, taken aback by the topic. "The crew's behaviour - ?"

"Yes. I have also noticed several common behaviours. For example." He arched an eyebrow. "The crew, including yourself, speaks to me with a much slower and softer voice." Jim reddened slightly. "I would have to be blind, Sir, to not notice how I am watched, and several crewman have approached me to inform me that they are, quote, 'there for me'. Such actions are unwarranted and unnecessary."

"I see - " Jim pauses, seemed to notice that he, too, was talking in that too-soft way, and straightened, voice becoming more normal. "I see. I will... certainly be speaking to the crew. My apologies, Mr. Spock, we just..." He hesitated, not wanting to go right out and say so bluntly what the whole crew 'knew'. Spock wanted to avoid the topic as well; if the subject were broached, and he denied its validity, he would, after all, have to give reason for his injuries.

So instead, he nodded and rose before Jim could work up the nerve. "Thank you, Sir."

He left.

The crew was more normal about him almost immediately, but still watched him when they thought he did not notice. He was quite sure that Jim's talks with various crewman had been along the lines of not making Spock think of the depressing time more than necessary, try to have a semblance of normality, etc. Knowing this, he still felt rather self-conscious among the crew, but it was an improvement, and McCoy had finally begun his usual banter again. He continued to to speak with Sorvik nightly, and sometimes at other times. Sorvik became concerned over some of the missions, but tried to have confidence in his mate's abilities. Over the next three weeks the matter was slowly... well, never forgotten, certainly, but the crew seemed to return to normal, realizing he was quite safe on the ship, and if Spock occassionally caught a crewman looking at him in a sad way, the moments usually passed soon enough.

Except then that changed.

A Vulcan diplomatic team was to be sent to help make First - Contact with a particularly superstitious vulcanoid race, in hope that their presence would reassure the natives. The journey to the planet from Vulcan would take eight days.

As they approached Vulcan, Spock noticed the crew thinking of the last visit more, for the saddened looks increased, as did McCoy's familiar banter. But they didn't even know everything yet.

Jim, McCoy, and Spock himself were waiting for the diplomatic team, which numbered five. The more senior diplomat introduced himself as Sonal. The others were not introduced. Jim walked quickly as they led the Vulcans to their rooms, gesturing subtly for Spock to do the same. Out of earshot of the Vulcans, Jim bent his head closer to Spock, hissing quietly in his ear.

"I thought you said we only needed four rooms ready?"

"We do," Spock murmured. "Married couples share rooms on Earth as well, do they not?"

Jim blinked in surprise, nodded, and then glanced back again at the all-male team.

They showed the five to four rooms, and Spock turned to the familiar Vulcan who did not enter the rooms as Jim left. He held out two fingers, which were met with his mate's. Sorvik spoke aloud instead of using their bond.

"Are you off-duty?"

"I am." Spock tilted his head. "Would you find it agreeable to meet the senior officers? It is inevitable, and I believe it will make the matter easier to control with our chosen setting."

Sorvik arched an eyebrow. "Do you expect them to react to me disfavourably?"

It couldn't be helped. "Yes." Sorvik raised the other eyebrow. "Humans excel at gossiping and discussing what does not concern them. A majority of the crew has adopted the CMO's beliefs regarding your... treatment of my person."

Sorvik digested this. "I see." He was quiet a moment. "Very well. I am quite interested in meeting your 'friends'. From what you have told me, they are admirable examples of humans."

Spock led Sorvik to the rec room most commonly used by the senior crew. Jim and the doctor were not present, perhaps in Sickbay, and Chekov was missing, but Sulu, Uhura, and Scotty were sitting around a table. They looked up as Spock and Sorvik approached.

"Mr. Spock." Uhura gestured to the seats cheerfully. She looked from Sorvik to Spock expectantly for the introduction.

"This is Sorvik," Spock said evenly. Sorvik nodded politely to the three, who greeted him cheerfully. Sulu took a sip of his drink, and then asked,

"Do you two know each other from before?" There was something about the way they were sitting...

"Indeed," Spock said evenly. "Sorvik is my bondmate."

Sulu dropped his glass.

Scotty actually leapt to his feet, face flushing with rage, but Uhura hastily grabbed his arm, yanking him back down. Ignoring the stares from the room's other occupants, she smiled tersely. "We have been... quite curious about you, Sorvik." Her smile did not reach her eyes. "Did you beam up from the planet's surface to visit?"

"I am a junior ambassador assigned to this mission," he told her evenly.

"Oh, how nice." She said sweetly. "Of course, a little dull. Can't stand work like that, on the Enterprise we like a little more... action." Turning to Sulu; "Why, Sulu here was just talking about his fencing, weren't you, Sulu?"

"Oh, yes." Sulu agreed. "You wouldn't believe how much such archaic weapons come in use on missions. But even if they're not commonly used on more modern worlds, swords do have their uses. Something just so much more satisfying about being able to really just cut into your enemy instead of stunning him - of course, accidental deaths aren't exactly uncommon, with sword wounds..."

"I believe they are attempting to subtly threaten you, t'hy'la." Spock told his bondmate with amusement. Sorvik's eyebrow twitched, but he managed to keep his face blank.

"Is that so," he said mildly.

"I much prefer fists, myself," Scotty said cheerfully, the dark look in his eyes contradicting his disarming smile. "But of course, that can lead to accidental deaths, too. A blow to the head, just a little stronger than one means, in the heat of the moment, you understand..."

"Are such barbarics common to humans?" Sorvik asked coldly.

"Oh, depends. Generally we're peaceful enough, but humans can be quite vicious when defending people they love, you know."

"Indeed." Sorvik said.

There was an uncomfortable pause where the three officers seemed content to try one of their accidental killings by means of their eyes as weapons. Decisively, Sorvik rose. "Mate, attend." He said curtly. Spock rose and followed him, aware of the eyes of his friends boring into him.

"I would not advise saying that among humans."

True puzzlement. "What?"

"'Mate, attend'. It may be taken wrongly."

"It is a request that you accompany me."

"They shall perceive it as an order."


"But well-meaning ones."

They retreated to Spock's quarters and enjoyed the other's company for a time. The next day Jim gave him grim looks during Alpha shift; evidently the others had been talking. At shift's end he requested Spock accompany him to Sickbay. Spock couldn't exactly refuse, so agreed.

They met McCoy in an office, who informed Spock to sit. He sat. The two stood over him, faces dark.

"Did you know your mate was coming aboard?" Jim demanded.

"I did, Sir." Spock said evenly.

"Why didn't you mention it?" Asked McCoy.

"It was not relevant."

Jim jerked about and started pacing the small office while McCoy made an angry sound. "Not relevant? Not relevant? You - " He shook his head. "You are not to be alone with him."

Spock looked at him, defiantly, and lifted his head. "Why?" He challenged.

They had to say it, now. Jim stilled, jaw clenched, and McCoy shook his head again. "Why? You know why. You know what he did."

"Enlighten me," Spock deadpanned.

McCoy turned to his computer console, calling up files, and then showed him the screen. "This."

Spock looked dispassionately of the pictures of himself as he had come aboard Enterprise. Jim, who had ever seen the full damage, made a sound not unlike a snarl. Spock merely raised an eyebrow.

"Is this relevant, Doctor?" He opened the bond with Sorvik, in an instant relaying the situation, and his mate watched from the back of his mind.

"Is this - " Jim finally stood in front of him, looking him in the eye. "Tell me truthfully, Spock, did Sorvik do that to you?"

Spock paused a brief moment, but he could not lie to Jim. Sorvik, who abhorred lies, agreed. "Sorvik does not mean me any harm," he evaded.

"Not what I asked. Spock, tell me, yes or no; did Sorvik cause those injuries?"

There was no going around this. "Yes, Sir."

McCoy did not explode into curses, nor did Jim. Instead McCoy just moved to his side, and Jim nodded. They had expected this answer, expected it without a hint of doubt. "Now tell me, Mr. Spock, can you see any reason I should not send Sorvik to the brig?"

"He committed no offense on this vessel, Sir." Spock murmured.

"Is abuse not punishable by law on Vulcan?" Jim asked sharply. Spock tensed at the word, but nodded. "Then by the laws of your own people, yes, I may."

"You may not, Sir, because this is not 'abuse'."

"How? What is it, then?"

"Sir, you are not Vulcan. You can not understand!"

"Can't I? Spock, from what M'Benga tells me, you say the word and this Sorvik is thrown in jail. There's nothing to be afraid of."

"I am not 'afraid', Jim."

"Spock - " McCoy began.

"Sir!" Spock stood. "If you told any Vulcan that my mate inflicted such injuries upon my person after our marriage, you would find not even one person concerned. It is a Vulcan matter, Sir, I can not discuss this with you."

"Is it Vulcan tradition to beat up their mates at the wedding?" McCoy demanded.

"No, but - "

"Does it occur to most Vulcans?"

"No, Sir - "

"Than why is it alright with you?" Jim demanded.

"I was late to the ceremony - "

Wrong thing to say. "He did this to you because he was upset that you were late?" Jim demanded.

"Sounds like abuse to me," McCoy growled.

"Why are you trying to protect him?"

"He is my bondmate - "

"Do you feel duty-bound to put up with this?" McCoy demanded. "If your family knew, they wouldn't want this - "

"I am quite certain my family is aware, and rightfully unconcerned - "

"What kind of family is - "

"This is pointless!" Angry, Spock started to the door, but his way was blocked by Jim. He felt Sorvik's flash of anger, and sensed his mate leave his quarters for Sickbay.

"Spock, we just want to help - "

"I do not need help."

"Apprarently you do! Is this normal, Spock, for Vulcans? I don't think so. Did your father do this to your mother?"

"On one occasion, yes." He snapped, then regretted it as Jim's eyes widened.

"That doesn't make it okay," McCoy said fervently, coming to his side to grasp his arm. Spock jerked away from the touch in fury, but McCoy and Jim exchanged meaningful glances.

"Captain, release me." He demanded. "You have no right to keep me here."

Jim ignored him. "Spock, I mean it, just say the word and I can throw that bastard in the brig, he'll never touch you again - "

"I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself, Captain, if I was - "

"If this is about some warped pride, no one would - "

There was a sudden commotion in Sickbay, and suddenly the unlocked doors hissed open. Sorvik ignored the nurses trying to stop him, glaring coldly at Jim and McCoy. Spock ducked around Jim to stand with him, a protective hand gripping his shoulder.

"You are distressing my mate," Sorvik said curtly. "Desist in your attempts. They are useless."

Spock left gladly with Sorvik, but he knew this was not the end of it.

Please Review? I'm thinking they'll just be one more part put up, most likely...