Disclaimer: See Chapter 1. Thank you so much to Fameanon (and Roxanne), dinopoodle, BewilderedFemale, tahmtahm, T'Sara, 09sasha, neverest, Scarlettbrandi, SavanaSahara, and Alysha for reviewing! Holy tribbles, that's a lot of reviews! You are all amazing!

A/N: I hope this chapter finds you all in the best of health. I know it's been ages since I've updated, but I've had about ten thousand other things going. But since New Year's is only a few days away, and this deals with New Year's, here's an update. Finally. Enjoy!

Roxanne sighed quietly to herself as she pulled the deep red dress into place, letting her hands wander over the satin, her heart pounding in anticipation of Solok's arrival. She was at Sicily's house getting ready for the New Year's party, and though her friend had given her a bewildered look when she told her who her date was, she didn't press, and Roxanne was grateful. There were days when she couldn't even explain to herself what she saw in Solok, but there was something there...something she had been craving for years now. Somehow...she just knew it.

She heard the door open and close behind her, but she did not hear any footsteps approach her. The hairs on the back of her neck stood up in anticipation, and she knew then who was in the room with her...who was alone with her. She could feel him right behind her, and she knew of only one person who could make her feel this way.

She felt his warm breath at her neck and his hands around her waist. She automatically leaned back into him, moaning in pent-up frustration and half-realized desire, and she purred as his lips found the flesh of her neck. She heard him purr and smiled despite her frustrations, but she frowned when he inhaled at her neck.

She was spun around to face him, and she gasped softly. It still hurt her pride to admit it, but he looked more striking than ever, dressed sharply in a slate gray Vulcan suit, his hair rimrod straight, his gray eyes gleaming in confusion.

"You smell different," he murmured, leaning forward and inhaling the scent of her hair. "It is even more arousing than when we first touched." His voice was a low baritone, gravelly...it was sending vibrations down to her core, and she bit back a whimper.

"And to think you were calling me a simpleton not three months ago," she teased, and his expression faltered.

"I would appreciate it if you would move forward with me, and put the past away. I do not wish to dwell on it."

She grinned. "I was just teasing you," she said, and she stared up at him with a soft smile. She leaned up and put her neck to his nose and inhaled, and she could not bite back a moan this time.

"Oh, you smell good, Solok," she groaned, inhaling again, moving her nose around as if every new patch of his skin was saturated with his fresh scent. She moaned again and pressed herself to him, kissing his neck lightly. "I missed you."

It seemed a weighty admission on her part, but she could not deny its truth. She felt his absence keenly, and despite it all, she was very excited to take him up on his offer to explore the possibilities of their relationship.

"Indeed, your presence was missed as well," he whispered, feathering kisses along her forehead and holding her tightly to his body. He was warm and smelled fresh and spicy, like citrus and incense, and she laid her head on his chest with a sigh.

"I've been so tired lately," she mumbled into his shirt. "But it's good to be doing something again. Christmas was..." She shook her head and trailed off, wrapping her arms tightly around him.

"Are you unwell?" he asked softly, and she grinned at the concern in his voice.

"I'm alright...you and this last semester took the damn mickey out of me."

He pulled away and looked down at her. "I do not understand your slang, Roxanne. Please, explain."

She grinned. "It means you wore me out," she elucidated softly. She leaned forward until their lips were nearly touching again. "In more ways than one," she breathed, pressing herself even more firmly to him. He breathed in sharply and narrowed his eyes down at her, but she thought she saw a hint of victory gleaming in his gray irises.

"Do I?" he murmured. "Roxanne...I was intoxicated then. There will come a time when I will truly, as you put it, take the mickey out of you." He brushed his lips to hers. "And you will enjoy every minute of it..."

"You know I will," she whispered, kissing him with desperate fervor, and he cupped her cheek, making her skin feel flushed. She moaned into his mouth and let his tongue dominate her, and finally he pulled away and stepped back. She was about to protest when she heard a knock at the door, and she smiled in understanding, silently thanking any deities that might be out there for his good ears.

She opened the door to Sicily, who was in a lovely orange number, and the African-American med student grinned wickedly at her.

"You two lovebirds ready to go?"

"I am not a bird," Solok protested quietly in the background, but Roxanne simply giggled and took his hand.

"You bet we're ready! Come on, lover boy, let's go study human celebrations together."

Solok's nostrils flared as she took his hand, and she felt a sharp tingling sensation run through her system. It lingered with her for several moments and she stared at him in confusion, but finally it faded and they followed Sicily to the aircar.

He could hear the noise of the crowd before he even opened the door of the aircar. Sicily had taken her own vehicle in order to shuttle a few more of her friends to the gathering, but Solok had chosen to rent one so he and Roxanne could ride together alone. She had spent the trip leaning against him, her eyes closed, seemingly in slumber, and he had spent the trip with his arm wrapped protectively around her, one hand on the controls, the other caressing her thigh.

She was a slender woman, but it had not escaped his notice that her waist looked thicker, her thighs more luscious, her breasts larger. It made him salivate just thinking about it, and the primal part of him wanted to escape the party as soon as possible and spend some time alone with Roxanne. Her scent was intoxicating, and so different...his logical side could find no explanation for her changed scent, but his primal self was growling in possession, howling at him to take the utmost care with her, to protect her, to keep her at his side at all times.

He helped her from the aircar and locked the vehicle, and as they walked into the porch light, he noticed something sparkling just below the neckline of her dress. He stopped her and drew it out on its chain, and when he saw the pendant dangling before his eyes, he gazed deeply into her eyes and let it fall on the outside of her clothing.

"I am pleased," he purred, noticing the lovely way his family stone and the color of her hair complemented each other. "You wear my mother's pendant well, thy'la."

A lovely pink flush graced her cheeks, and he smirked. "Truly, you do," he continued, stroking her face. They were some of the last to arrive, and the party was in full swing inside the spacious house. There was no one out here to see them, as the weather was chilly and wet. But with his Roxanne gazing up at him with affection shining in her bright green eyes, he felt no chill.

He led her inside, and he frowned slightly as Sisko hailed them both from across the foyer, but he stayed where he was when Roxanne stopped and called back.

"Well looky here!" the human exclaimed, pulling Roxanne into a tight hug. Solok stiffened, irked at how Sisko was touching her, but Roxanne shoved him off after a few seconds with a playful smile.

"Sisko-son, don't choke me, please. Where's Hannah?"

Sisko turned around and called to a petite brunette across the foyer, and she came running, a silly grin plastered on her face.

"Hey, you must be Roxanne!" the girl said excitedly. "I'm Hannah. Who's your date?"

"Solok of Vulcan," Sisko replied before he or Roxanne could speak. Hannah's eyes widened and she giggled, and Sisko looked somewhat annoyed. Solok was bemused with their behavior, and the look on Roxanne's face said she was just as confused.

"Is this the Vulcan you got in a barfight with?"

Roxanne shook her head. "If you must know, there were extenuating circumstances. Sisko was defending my honor," she said in a grandiose voice, and Solok stiffened again. But then Roxanne smiled up at him. "Thankfully, we've all settled our differences. This is my boyfriend, Hannah."

Solok relaxed and looked down at her with a surge of pride, his beast roaring in victory. Boyfriend, she had called him, a male of romantic interest who has the possibility of becoming fiance and later husband to the female. This was a most agreeable development.

He suppressed a chuckle at the look of shock on Sisko's face, and he thought he saw jealousy in the human's features before it disappeared.

"Roxanne, when did this happen? What did I miss?" he demanded. Hannah crossed her arms over her chest and raised her eyebrow at Sisko, but the human was ignoring her, his eyes fixed on Roxanne.

She shook her head and gave him an incredulous look. "Obviously, a lot." She turned to Solok. "You said you wanted to date, and you gave me your mother's pendant. So doesn't that make things official, since you came with me, and I accepted your gift?"

His blood rushed in victory. "Yes, Roxanne, I believe that makes it official."

"So you'll go out with me?"

He quirked an eyebrow. "If that means dating, then yes, I accept."

"Why, Mr. Solok!" she said in a fake accent he recognized as "American Southern", "I do declare, my mother would be thrilled to know I have such a wonderful suitor! Isn't he handsome?" she exclaimed, dramatically laying her hand to her forehead and turning to Hannah, who was giggling.

"See, Sisko-son?" she continued, dropping the accent. "Easy as pie." She turned to him again. "Would you get me something non-alcoholic to drink, sweetheart?"

He nodded and moved off toward the drink table, his hands clasped firmly behind his back. He saw a vast array of drinks from all over the Federation, but his nose was assaulted by Roxanne's scent. He rooted it out and found a steaming crock of a dark amber liquid, labeled apple cider. He ladled some into a cup for her and quickly returned to her side, relishing the scent of her on her body and wafting up from the cider.

"Really, Ben, I think you should ask her out!" Roxanne hissed vehemently at Sisko, gesturing towards the open door, where there was a large crowd of people dancing to music. "Hannah has a major crush on you, and I don't think it was very mature of you if you asked her here just to have a date."

"You came with Solok."

"I knew before asking him here that I liked him, and I wanted him to come anyway. Thank you for suggesting it," she countered without missing a beat, and his beast purred with pride. "If you don't return Hannah's feelings, you need to be honest with her. It'll break her heart, but it's better to do it now than lead her on."

Sisko sighed. "Look, I think Hannah is very nice and very sweet, but...I like someone else."

"Then tell Hannah how you feel and ask this other girl out!"

"I can't," he said dejectedly. "She's with someone else."

Roxanne winced. "Ouch, that hurts, bro...well, Sisko-son, you're SOL. Tough luck, man."

He shrugged. "I just hope she's happy."

She tilted her head and smiled sweetly. "That's so sweet of you, Ben!" She saw him holding the cider for her and her smile widened, and Sisko begged off, retreating into the crowd.

She stared off after the human and shook her head. "I love him like a brother, but man, is he thick sometimes."

Roxanne took a sip of cider and moaned in appreciation. "How did you know?"

He quirked an eyebrow, a rush of pleasure moving through his veins. "You are fond of this beverage?"

"My favorite," she said with a smile, taking another long drink. "Mm...want some?" She offered him the cup.

He took it with a smirk and took a large drink of it, then handed it back to her. "On my planet," he said quietly, "for a female to offer a drink to a male is to offer herself to him as a wife. To take the drink and imbibe it is to accept."

She gave him an incredulous look. "You're joking, right?"

"Not at all. Ask any Vulcan, and they will say the same."

She frowned at him, looking slightly nervous. "I like you a lot, Solok, but I'm not marrying you yet. Hold your horses, Vulcan."

"I have no horses to hold, Roxanne," he replied. "Your human idioms are highly illogical."

"It means to be-"

"I know what it means." He smirked again. "Shall I get you more cider, thy'la?"

"What does that mean anyway?"

He nearly smiled as he bent toward her ear and whispered a response. "It means 'lover'," he breathed, letting his lips brush the cartilage of her ear. Her eyes slid shut momentarily, and he made sure that his lips brushed her again as he straightened. "I will return momentarily."

He strode off to get her more cider, feeling rather pleased with himself.

Roxanne thought the party was rather crowded and was starting to get a headache from all the noise, so she slipped out the back door with Solok at her heels, and they began a slow walk through the quiet night. They walked down the steps of the back deck and forged a path over the frosty ground, angling toward the lake and a ridge she remembered from two years ago.

She had come with Sisko and Sicily, and the night was a little warmer than this, but not much. She remembered Ben pushing her off the ledge where she was headed now, and the water was bitter cold. Sicily had chided him for weeks for his stupid stunt, but Roxanne had simply laughed it off, even though she was hurt by his careless behavior.

Now she sat on the cold ground, and Solok sat right behind her and pulled her into his lap. She had remembered to grab her hat and coat as a defense against the cold, but having a Vulcan to sit with did make things a little warmer.

She leaned back into him and made herself comfortable as he wrapped his arms around her, and she reached for his hand, squeezing it gently before he ripped it away.

"Solok?" She felt disappointment seep into her heart. "What's wrong?"

He was silent for a few moments, his breathing oddly harsh, and she felt his hot breath at her neck.

"We are alone, thy'la," he whispered, his voice hoarse and low. "Do not take my hand like that lest you want me to take you here and now."

She frowned. "What's the deal with holding your hand?"

She felt his nose in her hair. "Have you not learned? Vulcan hands are very...sensitive."

He spun her around, wrapping her legs around his waist, and she gasped at the sudden change. His eyes were alight with fire as the moonlight bathed them in silver, and he raised a trembling hand to her face.

"We use our fingers, our hands, to meld," he whispered roughly, his fingers lingering in strange places on her face. She gasped at the tingling sensation. "And we use them to bond," he growled, both of his hands raising to cup her face. His eyes burned into her, and her eyes slid shut.

For several moments, she could not think straight. There was a whisper, a caress almost, in the back of her mind, that felt inexplicably like him. She wasn't an idiot; she knew Vulcans were touch-telepaths and that they used their fingers to meld, but she had no idea being touched like that would feel like this. There was an erotic undertone to the way he was gripping her face, and when he made to pull away, she moaned in protest.

She opened her eyes and gazed at him, amazed at how dark his pupils were, and how large. "You didn't have to go," she whispered, cupping his face in the same manner with one of her hands. His eyes darkened further.

"Do not tempt me, Roxanne," he growled, his eyes black as night, his pupils haloed in gray, like two miniscule solar eclipses.

She had the sense not to press the issue, so she lowered her hand and kissed him in apology.

"I'm sorry, Solok, I didn't know."

"I understand," he murmured, cupping her cheek, "but I must ask you not to do it again, unless you want to engage in intimacy with me again."

She was silent for several breaths. "But I do want to. I want to try this sober."

His eyes darkened again, and he looked darkly pleased. "I could satisfy your rampant curiosity," he purred, nuzzling his nose along the hollows of her throat. "I could take you now, if I wished...you should not tempt me, not when there is still so much for you to learn."

"I don't understand."

He looked oddly sad, and he sighed. "There will come a time...if you stay with me, deepen our relationship...there will come a time when I will need you more than ever. I do not want you to run from me."

She shook her head at him. "You're being vague, Solok. I thought Vulcans prided themselves on their precision."

"I am being vague for good reason," he said curtly, and she frowned at him. "I will not tell you more until the time is right. But please," he continued, his voice lowering to an almost desperate whisper. "Do not run from me."

"Why would I run from you? Or is this treading into the territory you don't want to share yet?"

His smile was barely noticeable, and wry. "If only you knew."

She kissed him softly, sensing somehow that he felt very vulnerable, and she reached up and toyed with his ears. He purred against her lips, like a contented cat, and he nudged her fingertips like a feline begging to be petted. She giggled and deepened their kiss, teasing his lips with the tip of her tongue. His purrs lowered and almost sounded like growls, like the rumblings of a large tiger.

She wasn't sure how, but she drifted off to sleep, warm and comfortable in his arms, but some time later she awoke with a jolt and looked around in confusion, bewildered by her surroundings until she saw Solok staring down at her with an amused expression.

"You look quite charming when you sleep," he cooed, touching her lips with a light finger. She groaned.

"What time is it?"

"Nearly 2300. We have time to go back to the party if you wish."

Her stomach rumbled a little, but she felt more tired than hungry.

"I could fetch you some food, and we could leave."

She smiled. "That actually sounds nice. Let's do it."

He helped her to her feet and walked with her back to the house, where the party was still in full swing. She waited on the back deck as he slipped inside in search of food, and he came back with some Earth vegetables and a small selection of fruit from around the Federation, as well as a steaming cup of a creamy soup. She sniffed it and smiled in appreciation.

"What kind of soup is this?"

"The label said 'potato'. Is this agreeable?"

She smiled and kissed his cheek once the door was closed. She was getting the distinct impression that PDA was not his thing, and she would have to restrain herself. "You are an angel, Solok," she whispered in his ear, kissing the tip. She heard a deep growl escape his throat, but he led her around the house, back to the aircar they had taken here, and he helped her inside.

She ate quickly, then set the trash aside and leaned against him with a contented sigh. Her eyes were drooping again, and she scooted further away from him so she could lay her head in his lap. She wasn't sure where he intended to take her, but she decided to trust him, and fell asleep.

Solok glanced down at her as she nuzzled her head in his lap, and he took a deep breath, trying not to let his primal instincts overtake him. In the warmth of the aircar, where his nose was not so deadened by cold, her scent was tugging at him again, tantalizing him with its uniqueness, her aroma yet changed somehow, and his mind was spinning in circles trying to solve the puzzle.

He stroked her red hair and looked at his controls, contemplating where to go. She had confessed that she wanted to continue exploring intimacy with him, and he was loathe to let her go so soon. There was still so much that could be done tonight and in the early morning hours, and the weeks they still had for vacation. He still had plenty of time to solve this maddening puzzle, and he wished he had access to a tricorder.

He decided to find a nice hotel on the outskirts of the nearest town, and he quickly booked a room and directed the aircar towards it. When she woke in the morning, she would be rewarded for her curiosity, and he would begin to show her all that he could offer her as a mate.