Chapter One: O Brave New World
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters, but I put them through their paces.
It isn't happily ever after.
Not that Nyota expects it to be, not really. She had watched the ordinary friction between her own parents like all children do—both alarmed when the tensions were high and hopeful when they weren't. That her parents are still together after so many years despite some difficult patches—and still visibly affectionate with each other—gives her a bedrock understanding that happily ever after happens only in fairy tales, that the reality is something much harder, much more like work.
Even so, being actually bonded—not just through the ghostlike telepathic connection she and Spock had felt for many months, but formally after a ceremony officiated by a Vulcan healer, parted and never parted—is more wearying that she could have imagined.
Keeping her private thoughts private requires a conscious effort. Honoring those areas of his mind that Spock partitions off from her is just as difficult. More than once Nyota sensed Spock's uneasiness when she strayed into one of his memories or broadcast her own reactions to something so strongly that he was overwhelmed in the middle of whatever he was doing, faltering in a conversation with someone, for instance, his gaze going distant as he was forced to feel what she was feeling.
"I don't mean to," she protests, but though he never complains, she can sense him pulling back slightly, like someone wincing at a loud noise.
In some ways, she is lonelier now that they are bonded than she was before. Having to be careful not to intrude mentally makes her more cautious about sharing, even in the ways they had in the past, through long conversations and playful arguments and physical intimacy.
But sometimes….her cheeks grow warm as she sits at her communications console and remembers the night before, Spock betraying his impatience at the evening meal, hurrying her to eat, shepherding her down the corridor toward her quarters and then following her in, the door barely shutting behind them before he reached for her and pulled her into an embrace so tight that she lost her breath.
"What's the hurry?" she teased when he loosened his arms and she could breathe again.
But he had been too impatient for words, showing instead his urgency for her, nuzzling her neck and dropping one hand to press his fingers into hers. The connection surged between them and she gasped, losing her breath again. She closed her eyes and the room fell away.
He was there, waiting for her, as she mentally reached for him, and she felt what she always does these days, an underpinning of loss, an emotional currency he hasn't been able to spend.
And layered over his sorrow was his love for Nyota—never put to words but spoken nonetheless, in the voiceless language of the bond.
He was already so aroused, so ready for her that she paused a moment, knowing that stroking her hand along his cheek or brushing her lips on his would tip him beyond his control, would send them both reeling. What's going on with you? she asked, hoping to communicate her willingness but her question, too.
That afternoon she had been on duty when the new orders had come through: maintaining orbit over New Vulcan for a month, a routine rotation to offer protection to the colony. Standing in his arms inside her quarters later, their foreheads touching, an image of New Vulcan flashed before her, and she knew at once that the new orders from Starfleet had sent Spock tumbling into memory and grief.
And towards her. Since that day when Vulcan was lost, their passion has been a flight from sadness as much as it has been a rush towards pleasure.
"Where are the Andorians or the Tellarites?" McCoy had groused earlier after the orders were confirmed and Kirk met with the senior officers in the conference room. "Seems to me we've done our share for the colony."
Through their bond Nyota had felt Spock bristle. She darted her eyes toward him but he avoided meeting her look. Even on good days Spock and McCoy could find fault with each other. Nyota waited for the inevitable riposte.
But it was Kirk who spoke up.
"It's not like you to be so uncharitable, Bones," the captain said, his voice strained. "The Vulcans have no other real defenses to speak of. You've been to the surface. You know how far they are from being settled. After all they've been through, they're just struggling to survive—"
At this Nyota heard McCoy huff.
"Hell, Jim," he said, "we're all just survivors."
It is true. Not in the way McCoy meant it, as an expression of his irritation. He complains often that people tend to remember the Vulcan genocide and ignore the losses Earth suffered. McCoy isn't the only one who speaks frequently and even eloquently about friends lost in Nero's attack—friends like Stephen Puri. Most of the graduating class at the Academy. Gaila.
But it is true that the attack changed them all in a fundamental way. They are survivors—not healed or close to it, but people who have come through something so horrific that they speak of it with almost biblical import.
That day. That's the phrase that has come to mean Stardate 2258.42. February 11, 2258.
Where were you that day?
What changed that day?
Who were you that day? And who are you now?
As she monitors the audio communications on the bridge, Nyota watches as the colony grows from a red marble to a dusky orb filling half the viewscreen. At his station to her right, Spock busies himself with scanning the surface. To everyone else, he is a model of efficiency. Nyota, however, senses his growing agitation.
My father, he thinks, and she looks up in time to see him turn toward her. As she does, the comm indicator lights up and she taps the receiver in her ear.
"Captain, we are being hailed," she says. Kirk swivels in his chair and nods.
Toggling on the viewscreen, Nyota is startled to see not Sarek but Spock's elderly great-aunt, T'Pau, her wizened expression intense.
The last time Nyota had seen T'Pau was also the first time she met her, at the bonding ceremony, the Van'Kal t'Telan, on New Vulcan three months ago. Despite her obvious age, T'Pau's hair was still mostly dark, her shoulders straight. For years she had been an influential member of the High Council until her retirement.
Or so Spock had said. Apparently she is working again.
"T'Pau," the captain says, his voice betraying surprise. "I expected the Minister."
"V'Storr is ill," T'Pau says. "I have taken his place as head of the council."
Her eyes on Kirk, Nyota sees him open his mouth to speak but T'Pau cuts him off.
"I'm sending you my coordinates. Please transport Ambassador Sarek and me to your vessel at once. T'Pau out."
"Lieutenant?" Kirk says, looking towards communications, and Nyota nods and sends the coordinates to the transporter room. From the corner of her eye she sees Kirk press the intercom on the arm of his chair.
"Aye, captain," Scotty says. "Transporting now. I'll escort them to the bridge."
The exchange is quick and innocuous but Nyota feels an uneasiness that is almost physical. Her own? Spock's, more likely. Though he and his father seem to have come to some agreement that Starfleet is an acceptable career, Nyota still senses a wariness when they are together, a distance neither is willing to cross without Amanda to run interference.
Beside her the doors open and T'Pau walks through first, leaning on her walking stick, followed by Sarek, with Scotty bringing up the rear. Spock rises slowly and tucks his hands behind his back. The captain stands, too, and takes a step forward, like someone taking a cue in a play.
"T'Pau," Kirk says, nodding. "Ambassador. Looks like it's the Enterprise's turn to patrol for awhile. Other than that, how can we help you?"
It's a surprisingly diplomatic way of asking why the two Vulcans have broken protocol and come aboard without an invitation. Nyota looks at Kirk with approval. In the six months that he's been captain, he's matured in interesting, and quite frankly, unexpected ways.
Pressing her hands one on top of the other and resting on her cane, T'Pau gives Kirk an appraising stare. For a moment she says nothing, and then she straightens and says, "Captain Kirk, I will speak with you. In private."
Behind her, Sarek stirs for the first time. Another wave of uneasiness makes Nyota dart a glance at Spock. He is nervous, and perhaps with good reason. More than once someone from the Vulcan colony has approached him about his decision to remain in the service. At least twice Sarek has asked him to leave Starfleet. If T'Pau puts enough pressure on the Admiralty, could Spock be forced to resign?
The thought flickers through her mind before she can stop it. She feels Spock's uneasiness increase.
"Certainly," Kirk says, motioning toward the door leading to the corridor and the conference room. Before he can move, however, a light on Nyota's console blinks.
"Captain, we are being hailed. It's Minister V'Storr. He says it's an emergency."
"You said the Minister was ill," Kirk says. "That you were taking his place."
It's a question—almost an accusation—and Nyota feels a ripple as the crew shift in their seats and look up.
"Deception was necessary," T'Pau says. Her voice betrays no emotion—indeed, it doesn't betray her age, either—as she gives Kirk another unblinking stare. "Sarek and I needed to come aboard your ship to request asylum."
Uncrossing his arms, Kirk says, "I beg your pardon?"
"Asylum. I'll explain later, after you've spoken to Minister V'Storr."
Watching for the captain's signal, Nyota opens the channel as soon as he gives her a nod.
"This in Captain Kirk. Please state the nature of your emergency."
The viewscreen flashes to life and the dusky image of the colony planet is replaced by the lined face of a Vulcan man sporting a traditional severe haircut and heavy robes. Perhaps because she's learned where to look, Nyota sees the telltale signs of high emotion on the Minister's face: a flush along his jawline, a crease between his brows, pupils so dilated that his eyes look black.
"I see that T'Pau and Sarek are already with you," the Minister says. "Captain Kirk, return them to the colony immediately."
Kirk doesn't try to hide his irritation. He swivels on his heel and sits in the captain's chair.
"Minister," he says, "T'Pau and Ambassador Sarek are guests on the Enterprise. They are free to come and go as they see fit. Why should I order them to return to the colony?"
The Minister's face darkens a shade—a shameful exhibit of lost control. Nyota looks over at Spock and catches his eye. He's also shocked.
"If you don't," V'Storr says, "I will contact your superiors and force your compliance."
"You still haven't explained why."
Kirk's hands are in the air, palms out—let's be reasonable, his body language says, but it's lost on the Vulcan on the viewscreen.
V'Storr takes a visible breath and says, "Because, captain, they are under arrest. For espionage."
A/N: And we're off! This story is set after "Once and Future," where Spock and Uhura are finally formally bonded. I wanted to take a peek at life on New Vulcan—and to my amazement, all kinds of things are happening there! I thought you might like to hear a report from the front. If so, let me know!
I appreciate everyone who reads—and for those folks who take the time and effort to review, you are doubly appreciated. I can no other answer make but thanks, and thanks….That's a quote from Shakespeare, just as the chapter title is. Each chapter in this story has a phrase stolen from the Bard...at least, that's the plan!
Thanks to StarTrekFanWriter for her help! She's juggling two terrific stories—"Tapestry" and "Logical Propositions." Check them out in my faves.