Chapter Eleven: Denouement
Disclaimer: I do not profit from writing about these characters, except in a metaphoric, symbolic, fuzzy-wuzzy sense.
"You should have told me!"
Nyota stands in the doorway of the kitchen in Spock's apartment, one hand on the door frame, the other holding an empty tea kettle. Spock is stretched out on the sofa, his hair disheveled, a large gash across his brow and down his cheek.
"T'Sera deemed it inadvisable," he says quietly, and Nyota feels a stab of remorse. Talking aggravates the headache he is nursing from his fall forward onto the pavement when T'Sera shot the blank at him. His bloodied tee—courtesy of a handheld bladder of green gel—has been changed into a simple black one.
"I thought she was just going to stun you with a phaser. She didn't trust me," Nyota says, setting the kettle on the counter and coming back into the living area. She stands for a moment looking down at Spock—he really does look dreadful—before sitting gingerly on the side of the sofa and taking his hand in hers.
Immediately she is flooded with a rip-roaring pain in her head—and Spock pulls his hand away.
Like most men that Nyota knows—her father, her brother—Spock is a terrible patient. Despite her appeal to take an analgesic, he insists that he can master his pain. Obviously he hasn't yet. She tsks over him and is rewarded with a raised eyebrow.
"At least let me make you some more tea," she says, but Spock closes his eyes—no. When he opens them back up, Nyota is still looking at him.
"It is not a matter of trust," Spock says, and for a moment Nyota is confused. Ah, T'Sera. "She was making use of the human capacity to express surprise. Your dismay was quite believable—more so, I think, than if you had been coached ahead of time."
"That's awful," Nyota says, tentatively stroking Spock's hand. The searing pain is still there. She senses his unease at revealing his level of pain and she takes her hand away. "She was using me. She wanted me to look upset."
"Her life depended on it," Spock says softly, and Nyota looks down at his face. He closes his eyes again, sweat beading across his brow.
"What will happen to her now?"
"But she'll be safer?"
"That was her intention," Spock says, his brows knit, his eyes still closed.
Nyota shifts carefully on the sofa. For several of her teenaged years, she had occasionally been felled by migraines so sudden and severe that movement was agony and light was like a lance. While she waited for the medication to ease her pain, her mother would sit at her side, like this, gently distracting her with stories and feather-light touches on her forearm. She reaches out her forefinger and rubs it so softly across Spock's wrist that she herself can barely feel it.
His eyes snap open, and for a moment, Nyota expects him to tell her to stop.
But he doesn't.
"Does this help?" she whispers, and Spock blinks once. She strokes his wrist again, this time with more pressure.
Again his headache flares through her fingers, but instead of jerking away, Nyota tries to imagine the headache as her own—with her mother sitting by her side, singing a wordless tune, tickling her hand down her arm.
Her mother is dressed in the sort of flowing gown she wears while she is home—something both silky and solid, and brightly colored, orange or lime or lemon yellow when she is happy; russet or plum or somber gray when she is less so.
In this image her mother's warm brown face leans over, her light green scarf wound gaily around her hair. As always she smells of sandalwood and smoke, and Nyota sighs with the nearness of the memory.
She feels Spock watching the scene, his curiosity piqued. Nyota has told him little about her mother or her relationship with her—a loving one, though one fraught with tension since Nyota has been at the Academy.
"She has nothing against the Academy—or Starfleet," Nyota says aloud, but as she does, she feels Spock's pain heighten from the noise of her voice. She lifts her finger from his hand and circles his other wrist with her thumb and forefinger and waits a moment for the wave of pain to wash over her. There, underneath it, she feels the familiar buzz of his mind, closer now.
Then why-? Spock sends a query across their link and Nyota smiles—he must be feeling a little better. Mother has nothing against the service, except that it is keeping me away from home, and will take me farther from home one day.
Like a dark room suddenly illuminated, a scene flashes into Nyota's mind, and she knows without being told that it is the kitchen of Spock's home on Vulcan. On one wall are several long trough-like sinks filled with fresh vegetables and greenery. An adjacent wall of stone and clay is open to the outside patio, the oversized doors folded back to allow the breeze to blow through. In the center of the room is a rough-hewn wooden table, and at it sits a petite woman, her hair pulled away from her face, revealing rounded, human ears.
Your mother, Nyota says, and Spock shows her his favorite image of his mother, sitting drinking a cup of tea, her face peaceful, the morning sun barely edging up over the ridge of the nearest mountain.
And this, Spock says, showing Nyota the next part of his image—his mother's face lighting up when he wakes and patters into the kitchen to share a cup of tea with her—her delight in his presence broadcast in the crinkle of her eyes and in her unabashed smile.
It is only in these private moments that his mother allows her human emotions full play—showering her son with signs of her love for him. He rarely responds—or rather, he rarely comments—but Amanda's joy seems undiminished.
Our mothers are much alike, Nyota thinks, though she isn't sure if the idea is hers or Spock's. Or both.
With a start, she realizes that Spock's headache is gone. She opens her eyes and sees him looking at her. Unexpectedly she is uncomfortable and shy under his steady gaze, and she pulls her hands back into her lap.
"You feel up to a cup of tea?" she asks, offering to stand, but something in Spock's expression stops her. "What is it? Tell me," she says.
But he doesn't, and she doesn't press him. She's fairly sure she knows what he is thinking about—T'Sera, and the danger she has gone to.
Spock had mentioned briefly that he met T'Sera at a party at his parents' house—perhaps in that very kitchen she has just seen in his memory—and that they had stayed in touch.
Staying in touch with Spock would be a challenge—Nyota tries to imagine what would happen if she herself moved away, left the Academy or even Starfleet. Would their relationship—however it is evolving—continue? In so many ways Spock is self-contained, independent, capable of living alone, being alone….if she moved away right now, would he stay in touch? Call her? Write to her? Visit her?
She doesn't know.
Would she call him, write to him, visit him? Of course. She would make sure they stayed in touch.
Is that what Dr. Stoddard—T'Sera—had to do?
"Tea?" she asks again, but Spock lifts his arm from his side and reaches for her instead, tugging her around the waist and pulling her down beside him on the sofa. She's startled but pleasantly so by this uncharacteristic show of affection—and when he tips her over towards him so that her head rests on his shoulder, she is sure that she feels him sigh—not from sorrow, or exhaustion, but from contentment, and she closes her eyes and is prepared to stay right there, in his arms, all night if he will let her.
A/N: The "denouement" of a story is the tying up of loose ends. There were a lot to tie up...and some are still dangling...like what's happening to T'Sera as she heads back to Romulus with fake information from the Vulcan intelligence agency...
If this story had too many twists and turns for you (giving you whiplash!), you might prefer a different pace in the story I'm working on now. It's set when Nyota first becomes Spock's TA, and it focuses on the things we think we know about Spock and tells some of his back story. I hope you will enjoy it.
Thanks for all the terrific, thoughtful reviews! You made writing this story great fun!
Thanks, as always, to StarTrekFanWriter. She reads and gives good advice before I inflict anything on you, dear reader. Check out her newest story, What Feels Right, in my faves.