Disclaimer: See Chapter 1. Thank you so much to Fameanon (and Kuvak and L'Vek, you silly little girls!), dinopoodle, 09sasha, maba7x, Caren Rose and T'Sara for reviewing! You are all amazing!

Gardner leaned casually back in his chair, pondering the reasons he was letting some disturbed little stalker have the privilege of taking out an alien. That adviser had been cantankerous, pompous, arrogant...what did Emmie see in him? What was so appealing about some cold-hearted Vulcan? There was no way he could offer her love and affection, so maybe it was just for his money. The man always dressed in those pompous, fancy robes, so he assumed the adviser came from some sort of money on Vulcan and could provide financial support to Emmie. But was she in a financial crises? He had been watching her (more discreetly than that idiot Carter) and knew she had moved, but the rent at her new place was just about the same as her old apartment.

And he had looked in her profile and done some digging. As it turned out, Ms. Sadir came from money too. Her great-grandfather on her father's side had been a great warlord in World War III, until his son, her grandfather, had overthrown him and restored peace, astounding the world by making the Northern African region one of the first regions to turn to peace when the Vulcan plague arrived one hundred years ago. On her mother's side, her grandfather had been a descendant of an oil sheik, and his children and grandchildren were mostly involved with clean energy projects and environmental safety iniatives, which had made them plenty of cash when the world began using less carbon-based emissions.

And now, the name Sadir popped up all the time in international politics. Her great-uncle had been an ambassador to France, and her father (before his death ten years ago) had been an influential council member in the New UN. Ms. Sadir came from money and power; her mother and father had practically come from royalty.

And yet she was here, a communications officer, International Division. He had read over her profile several times: graduated from Berkeley, had three degrees, and in a strange combination. She had a degree in English and one in Media and Communications, and with those two degrees (she had worked toward them at the same time), she had several minors in at least five languages. But then she had worked a year in New Berlin, then came back to Berkeley and got her degree in Dance with a license to teach. What a fascinating woman...

And here she was wasting her time with some goddamn Vulcan! A mind like hers, a body like hers deserved more than some cold-blooded reptile. She deserved a real man, not a dirty alien who probably didn't even know how to please her!

He closed his eyes and relaxed into his chair, sighing as he let a fantasy unwind.

"John...I don't know what I was thinking...he's so cold towards me, John. He takes what he wants and...I just...need a real man right now..."

He smiled softly down at her and stroked a finger along her elegant jaw. "Then aren't you glad I came?"

She smiled, her exotic gray eyes brightening, and she leaned up and kissed him furiously on the lips, and he let his hand trail down towards her thighs. She moaned in desperation as he lifted the hem of her (very short) skirt and began toying with her.

"John," she breathed. "Oh, baby, it's been so long...stop teasing me..."

He smiled as he imagined giving her what that Vulcan probably didn't even know existed, but then he sighed. It was a shame she was a mudlicker. He really could have gone for that body, that mind. He would have gone after her, if it weren't for that goddamn Vulcan getting in his way.

She would be dead soon, and he would be blameless. It was a shame she had to die, but he was sure he would meet other women who were just as wonderful, if not more wonderful, than Emmie Sadir.

L'Vek knocked politely on Emmie's office door, and he noted that he had to wait, and he grew impatient until she called for him to come in. Commodore Forrest was standing there, and the man smiled and nodded to him, then glanced at the container in his hand.

"Habibi! The commodore was just asking for an updated itinerary for our next field trip," Emmie said cheerfully, and Forrest raised his eyebrows.

"'Habibi', Ms. Sadir? What does that mean?"

"That is none of your concern, commodore," L'Vek said shortly, wanting him gone so he could talk to his intended alone. Forrest seemed to get the hint, because he smiled and nodded.

"Whatever you say, Mr. Adviser. What's with the container?"

"We baked cinnamon rolls together, and I insisted on sending some home with him," Emmie explained. "Is that all, sir?"

Forrest's smile widened and he left soon after, but not after shooting L'Vek a mischievous wink. The Vulcan sighed and handed her the empty container.

"Did you like them, my love?" She got up from her chair and walked around the desk, leaning against it as she leveled a playful gaze at him. "Did you think of me when you ate them?"

He stepped closer and stroked his fingers up her jawline. "Yes indeed, ashaya, I thought of you as I ate them. They were...adequate."

She paused, then narrowed her eyes, a mischievous gleam in her gray eyes. "Adequate?"

"Yes." He stepped closer. "I would say delicious, but I found something much more delicious than the rolls." He stepped closer still, pressing his leg in between hers. Her eyes darkened, and he purred. "And that," he pressed her harder to elucidate, "is what I am craving now, more than any confection."

She caught his meaning and pressed her hand to his chest. "Well...maybe we can arrange something later," she whispered, "so you can...satisfy that craving." She grinned wickedly and his gut lurched in longing, and were it not for the stack of PADDs she picked up, he would have kissed her then and there. Her playfulness and teasing were arousing him, pricking his blood with the fever.

"Where are you going, ashaya?" He was loathe to let her leave.

"I have to drop off some reports. Want to come with me?"

He nodded and turned to lead her out the door, but then he froze and tilted his head.

"L'Vek, come on, I've got to turn-"

"Meskhenet," he held up his hand and looked around the office, scanning for vents or bookshelves or anywhere that could hide what he suspected was in this room.

"L'Vek?" Her voice was pricked with fear. "What's going on?"

He turned when he heard the resounding boom, and he caught Emmie in his arms and cradled her with his arms, like a living safety net, as he threw himself (and her) to the ground.

The world exploded in fire and heat, and he lost his senses as he fell into unconsciousness.

...

Some time later, he awoke. He was momentarily deaf (a ringing sound was buzzing in his ears), but it faded, and he heard the crumbling of debris and the spray of the water sprinklers, and he slowly lifted himself off the ground, looking around for any large pieces of debris that could potentially fall onto him and Emmie. She was below him (his inner eyelid had automatically closed when the blast erupted from the upper vent, and he was quickly adjusting to the darkness; the lights had gone out as the power to her office was shorted out), and he leaned closer and noticed a gash on her forehead. They had landed awkwardly, but he did not know how injured she was.

She slowly opened her eyes and stared up at him, and he was amazed to see a smile on her face. His blood was roaring in his ears; he knew this was no accident, he had heard the ticking of the bomb! Someone was after his beloved, and he would have their head!

"Meskhenet," he croaked, then coughed out the dust that had flown into his mouth. "Ashaya, are you all right?"

She blinked. "I hit my head..."

He nodded and cupped her face. "Yes, I can see that. Anything else?"

She shook her head. "No...you?"

"I believe I am uninjured. Come, we need to get out of this place."

"L'Vek," she whispered, and he turned back to her. His eyes raked her body and he could find no other injuries on her, and he wandered why she was delaying.

"What is it, Meskhenet?"

She closed her eyes, then opened them and gave him a desperate kiss. "What the hell just happened?"

"Someone planted a bomb in this office. I heard the ticking of the timer."

She closed her eyes again and laid her head back on the dusty floor. Her hairband had come undone in the fall, casting her elegant bun into disarray, and her beautiful black hair was dusted with dirt. She looked tired, and he thought she was probably still stunned from the fall.

He got onto his knees and worked his arms under her, as gently as he could in case she had other injuries, and he stood, kicking debris out of his way and making for the door. The office was modest, no bigger than a small bedroom, and in a few strides he was at the door. He set her down and stood over her as he ripped the panel from the wall and worked to open the door with manual override. He could hear people on the other side of the door working to do the same, but he beat them to it, and the doors opened enough for him to get his hands in and pry the doors apart. It wasn't difficult considering his strength, and when they were open, he ignored the security officers' orders and lifted Emmie again, cradling her in his arms, protecting her.

He followed the security officers down the dark hallway, past fallen panels, keeping a tight grip on his intended.

"You look angry, habibi," she murmured softly, and he was sure only he could hear it.

"I am...disturbed. Someone planted that bomb, I am sure of it," he growled softly.

"My love, I do not know how long we were out," she muttered. "Slow your pace so we can talk. You cannot go out there looking angry about what happened. Be stoic."

He glanced down at her. "You sound as if you have done this before."

"I know a thing or two about how to handle media. That is my job. Be stoic, and don't answer any questions. Look straight ahead. I'm going to close my eyes, and when we're on our way to Starfleet Medical-"

"I'm taking you to the Consulate."

She sighed. "All right. When we're out of sight of the cameras, tell me I can open my eyes."

"Why are you telling me this?"

"Do you want our relationship posted all over the media? If I'm awake, I will talk to you, and hang on to you, and settle my head on your chest or something. That is a dead giveaway that we are together, considering you're not stopping me."

He glanced down at her. "We are together?" he breathed. "Truly?"

She smiled softly, and her eyes drooped. "Are we not, my love?"

He graced her with a tiny smile. "My wise Meskhenet." He could hear voices and set his face to a neutral expression, and she closed her eyes and relaxed in his arms. He could feel her breathing, and he obeyed her commands, stoically walking past the media as he headed for the doors. Commodore Forrest was waiting for him, and shoved him and Emmie into an aircar.

"Starfleet Medical," the commodore ordered the pilot.

"No, the Consulate."

"Mr. Adviser," the commodore protested, "that would be too obvious."

Emmie opened her eyes and stared up at him, a slight smile playing on her face. She glanced at the human. "What do you mean, commodore?"

He glanced between the two of them, and L'Vek set his jaw. His relationship with his intended was none of the commodore's business.

"I assume you two are seeing each other?"

Emmie raised an eyebrow. "What gave you that idea?" She smiled and looked up at L'Vek. "You saved my life, habibi."

"It is my duty to protect you," he muttered softly, stroking her cheek, ignoring the commodore for now. "You will go to the Consulate. If you must think of an excuse, tell them I insisted, because I too am mildly injured and it would be a waste of a trip to take her all the way back to Starfleet Medical."

Commodore Forrest shrugged. "They might not buy that, but..." He turned to the pilot. "Do as he says."

The pilot took off, and he laid Meskhenet down into his lap. "How do you feel, ashaya? Can you sit up?"

She closed her eyes. "I feel dizzy..."

"She may have a concussion. I'm sure your doctor can tell us more," the commodore said softly. L'Vek nodded in agreement.

"Lie back and rest, Meskhenet," he whispered, stroking her hair, trying to find any other injuries on her head. Head wounds were more dangerous for Vulcans, but they were still dangerous to humans. When he caught the bastard that did this...

They touched down at the Consulate and L'Vek lifted his intended again, cradling her head in the crook of his elbow. The commodore followed behind them, and L'Vek sighed very quietly, but Meskhenet smiled in his arms.

"He's just doing his job, habibi. I am his colleague. He's concerned for me, as a colleague. So calm down."

L'Vek breathed in and recited a few mantras in his head as he set her down in the Consulate infirmary, and the Vulcan doctors told him to take a seat as well. He was quickly examined and deemed fit to go back to duty immediately, and Emmie, fortunately, was only saddled with a mild concussion.

He looked toward the infirmary doors when they opened, and Ambassador Soval and Kuvak strode in together, taking in the scene with concerned gazes. The two of them approached him, and the commodore stepped forward as well.

"Ambassador," the human said with a bow. He turned to Kuvak, who bowed his head as well.

"Introductions later, commodore. What happened?" Soval said curtly, switching to Vulcan. Kuvak frowned at the ambassador and his gaze slipped to Forrest, who was also frowning.

"Ambassador, this incident also involved a human," Kuvak chided softly. Soval glanced at him, but the minister's gaze was firm, and Soval dipped his head.

"Thank you, sir," Forrest muttered to Kuvak, who smiled ever so slightly. His expression sobered when he glanced over at Emmie. "What happened?"

"There was an explosion. Someone planted a bomb, I am sure of it," he said, his voice almost guttural. Kuvak admonished him with a hard glance, and he sighed and tried his hardest to regain control of his emotions.

"Is that all?"

"I pushed her to the ground and covered her. She must have had a hard fall. I was knocked unconscious as well, but the doctors have proclaimed me fit for duty. However...I feel the need to meditate."

Forrest raised an eyebrow, but did not comment, and Soval nodded slowly. "Commodore, this is Minister Kuvak of the High Command. He is the adviser's cousin."

"Oh," Forrest said with a slight smile. "Um...you honor us with your presence, sir," he said softly, and L'Vek frowned at the commodore, who smiled slightly at Soval. "Isn't that how that greeting of yours goes?"

Kuvak nodded and raised the ta'al. "Yes, it is agreeable to meet you, commodore."

The human turned to Ms. Sadir. "Is my employee going to be ok?"

"She will recover within a day or two," the doctor said, joining the conversation. "She has a mild concussion, but she is young and healthy. Her stay here will be brief."

"I'll have to cancel class tonight...can I have access to a communications console, please?" Emmie groaned, lying flat on her back on the biobed. L'Vek rushed to her side and smiled ever so slightly down at her as the doctors and nurses dispersed.

"I will see to it that you get access to one," he murmured, and he pulled up a chair. Soval and Forrest left soon after, but Kuvak slowly approached him.

"She accepted my proposal, Kuvak," he whispered in Vulcan to his cousin, his hands folded in front of his face. "She will be mine soon. And when I find the scum who did this..."

"Meditate, cousin, you are fatigued, and your emotions are closer to the surface." His expression softened. "She will be an excellent addition to our family."

"Kuvak," Emmie murmured, "could you contact Tawny? I promised her we would meet up, and I don't want her to worry about me."

Kuvak nodded. "I will do that now. It is agreeable to know that you are not injured, Ms. Sadir."

Kuvak left them alone, and Emmie settled down to rest. He kept watch over her for the rest of the day and into the night, meditating off and on, gazing at his beloved as she slept peacefully in the gathering darkness.

He had plans to make.

"You call that a bomb?" Gardner roared, smacking Carter across the face. A couple of his flunkies were holding the worm still, but there was little chance this idiot could put up much of a fight. "Emmie Sadir, that little bitch, is still alive! And the alien scum walked out without so much as a scratch!"

He smacked him hard across the face again, and Carter whimpered like a girl. "I thought our goal was to kill aliens and sympathizers," he moaned. "No one around her office is guilty, I was trying to contain the blast..."

"Well, you certainly contained it. You're a failure, Carter, at everything you do," he snarled. He had had enough of this swine and his bumbling attempts to work for the cause. He looked up at the flunkies and nodded.

"So, as a reward for failing miserably, you can, as the gangsters say, sleep with the fishies. I hope you die quickly and rid the Earth of your incompetence."

The flunkies dragged him off, and he kicked and begged for mercy, but Gardner turned away and walked into the gathering mists, determined to end this once and for all.