Disclaimer: See Chapter 1. Thanks so very much to Fameanon (and L'Vek and Kuvak), maba7x, jackiemack916, snapeissexy, 09sasha, Nyotarules, and the anon reviewer for reviewing! You are all wonderful!
A/N: Kuvak and Tawny are back for this chapter.
Emmie flopped down on the couch beside him, and L'Vek immediately reached out and tucked a stray hair behind her ear. She looked tired, but she gave him a genuine smile that made his stomach churn. They were alone again, if only for perhaps half an hour, as Kuvak and Tawny had gone down the street to eat a late lunch. Emmie had claimed she wasn't hungry and gave him a meaningful look, and so the two of them stayed behind with her new apartment to themselves.
"Have I told you that you and your cousin are lifesavers?"
He offered her a tiny smile. "Yes, you have told me. The cause was more than sufficient...I am more than pleased to help you."
L'Vek stroked two fingers down his intended's cheek, and she moaned contently. The sound of that made his heart swell with pride and satisfaction...
"What are you doing to me?" she whispered. "Tell me, L'Vek...please..."
"Vulcan fingers are...sensitive. There are thousands of nerve endings in them, and sometimes...when a man strokes his fingers down his intended's skin...without his mental barriers in place...it creates a type of...electricity...does this please you?"
Her gray eyes turned dark. "Yes," she murmured, stroking his face the way a bondmate would...his darker side was growling in approval... "Very much. But, L'Vek...intended?"
He carefully took her hand in his. "Do you remember when you came to me? After the incident in the stairwell? You brought me green tea with ginger."
She smiled at him. "Yes, I remember. You said it was 'adequate'."
He shook his head and sighed. "Meskhenet...I am unbonded. I do not have a...mate. In your language...the closest equivalent would be 'wife'. I have no one."
Emmie frowned slightly. "I'm not your wife...but you've got me."
He kissed her fiercely on the mouth before continuing, his darker side demanding the contact...and he was becoming too weak to resist these urges...
"A fact that pleases me greatly," he whispered against her lips, stroking her long, dark hair. So soft...so smooth... "Meskhenet...when you gave me the tea...on my planet, for a woman to give an unbonded male sustenance of any kind, food, water, tea...is to offer herself to him as a mate...as a wife."
Her eyes widened, and her plump lips parted in shock. "I didn't know...I mean, I-"
He pressed a light finger to her lips. "I did not expect you to know. But nevertheless...although I tried to put the thought of you as my wife out of my mind...the appeal of such a notion as been growing on me ever since...and now...you have engulfed me, Meskhenet..."
She opened her mouth to speak, but said nothing. She stared at him speechless, her eyes filling up with affection and (he didn't dare believe it) love, and soon his lips were captured by hers. She gave him a long, luxurious, yet desperate kiss, but finally pulled away, her eyes closed.
"I have no words to respond to that...I can't express it in words, but that kiss did the talking for me..."
"There is more you should know," he croaked, his mind still lingering on the wonderful feeling of her lips pressed to his. "When the other woman came into my office, and I gave you the water..."
"Were you offering something more than water?" she asked astutely. He nodded.
"Had you been Vulcan, to accept that water would be to accept my proposal to be your mate. But you are not Vulcan...nonetheless, the sentiment from my end was genuine...I wish to be yours, for you to be mine...I cannot be more honest than that."
She was quiet for a long time, her eyes searching his face, her thumb caressing the back of his hand. "L'Vek, this is very new to me...I'm not very good at the relationship thing, and I need time to take all this in...but I want you to know that I appreciate your honesty, and that I care...so much for you...I only want what's best for you...even if that person isn't me."
He stared at her, worried that she was rejecting him, but she continued, and he forced himself to breathe.
"I'm not rejecting you, I'm saying that I want whatever's best for you. And for all we know...I could be that one for you...and I like the thought of that, L'Vek. I really like that thought of that."
Hope crested in his heart once more before he suppressed it, but he could not ignore the dark side of himself extending its tendrils further into his being, hooking itself into more of his synapses...he could almost feel himself fall a notch deeper into the fever just from that admission...
"Oh, L'Vek..." she whispered, kissing his lips with fervor, causing him to breathe in sharply through his nose, "every day, I'm falling harder and harder over you..."
It took his brain a long moment to search through his knowledge of human expressions and come up with her meaning. "Meskhenet..." he murmured, stroking her rounded ear and relishing her exotic presence, her alien nature...
Her eyes flashed wickedly. "What sweet torment you bring me, habibi...like some devil sent to plague me...but I like his company."
He breathed in slowly, then gripped her wrists and tugged her forward. He then dove for her neck and lavished his tongue upon it, slowly caressing her, kissing her, nipping at her creamy flesh.
"A devil, am I?" he growled, wrapping his arms around her, surrounding her, trapping her in his embrace.
She gasped as he bit her a little harder, leaving a red mark on her skin. "Mr. Adviser, you are a tease!"
He licked up her throat. "Vulcans do not tease, ashal-veh...we torment, as you have so eloquently stated."
He swallowed her laugh and did not release her from his kiss until he heard the doorbell ring, signaling Kuvak and Tawny's return.
Kuvak closed the door quietly behind him and followed Tawny down the steps to the street. The neighborhood was pleasantly quiet, and it was a bit of a walk to get to the main street. They fell in step together as they walked side by side, and Kuvak finally broke the silence.
"Your friend seems fond of my cousin."
Tawny smiled, and his gaze softened at the sight. "C-can you k-keep a secret?"
He tilted his head. "Of course. What is the secret?"
"Emmie is...i-in love with your cousin," she whispered. "She has been s-since the m-moment they met. S-she says...he's the best man...she's e-ever known."
L'Vek would be very pleased to hear that, he thought to himself."If I tell him...would that upset you?"
She grinned, a conspiratorial gleam in her eye. "If i-it gets them t-together...no."
Kuvak offered her a small smile, and they walked on in contented silence, the bond of a shared secret lingering between them.
He spoke again. "Did Ms. Sadir tell you how she and L'Vek met?"
"Y-yes...don't you know i-it?"
"No, please enlighten me."
She took a deep breath and closed her eyes, then let out a puff of air, almost in irritation. She stopped, dug in her handbag, and pulled out a small PADD. She sat on a stoop nearby and began typing, and Kuvak watched, afraid he had upset her. But she handed him the PADD a few minutes later, and he read silently to himself. She slumped her shoulders as he read, and he sat down beside her, still worried that he had upset her.
"Have I done something to offend you?"
She shook her head. "No," she whispered. "My mouth s-sucks at its j-job, that's all." Her voice was bitter, but he continued reading her note. One sentence in particular stood out to him.
" 'She said being held in the arms of a Vulcan man was the most wonderful embrace one could ask for'," he quoted, looking sidelong at her. He swallowed thickly at his thoughts, then decided to forge ahead. "Would you like to...verify that claim, Ms. Townsend?"
He stood as she looked over at him with a bemused expression on her face, and he offered her his hand. She took it, her touch light and wary, and he gently pulled her to her feet. He pulled her a little closer, and he looked around and discovered they were alone. He had received no protest from her, so he pulled her even closer, wrapping his arms carefully around her and staring down at her with the kindest expression he could muster.
She stared up at him, her beautiful wintergreen eyes wide with awe, and she lightly placed a hand on his chest. He blinked slowly at the sensation of her warm hand touching him...it was as if sparks were racing over his spine...
"Well?" he breathed after several beats of silence. She smelled wonderful, and he breathed in her scent with relish, involuntarily memorizing the aroma, compartmentalizing it for later study and identification. And the feel of her slender body in his arms...he held her closer by a millimeter, but he was sure to be gentle, as she felt so fragile...yet so nice...
It took her a minute to answer him. "Yeah?" she whispered absentmindedly, her eyes fixed on his...those wintergreen eyes were growing cloudy...he would have to look that up as well...
"Your thoughts?" he said softly, letting his grip slacken. He could hear voices coming around the corner, and he was forced to let her go...though the dark voice inside his head was whispering for him to ignore propriety and explore these new sensations...explore them to their fullest, Kuvak, it whispered. Explore her...
He shook his head of such thoughts and watched her fold her arms across her chest, as if she were suddenly cold. It was a bit cool out today.
"Are you cold, Ms. Townsend?"
She shook her head. "N-no, no...I-I'm ok..."
"Have I made you uncomfortable?" Perhaps he had overstepped the boundaries of propriety for both their species...the thought made him feel slightly ill.
"No," she breathed, relieving his worry. "T-that w-was...I-I c-can't d-des...d-describe it..." She swallowed and looked away, and he felt a wave of her frustration and self-loathing wash over him. It pained him to feel it, and he lightly touched her shoulder.
She looked up at him, her eyes glittering with unshed tears, but she blinked them away and smiled at the ground. "I-I'm f-fine...r-really...th-thank you...f-for the hug...Emmie was right..."
He couldn't believe his own audacity when he reached out and lifted her chin, forcing her to look up at him. Her eyes went wide, and he could see tears forming in her eyes as he gazed down at her.
"Do not ever be ashamed of yourself, Tawny Townsend," he said softly in Vulcan. What he wanted to say would be hard for him to translate to English; he only knew so much of the language. "And it pleases me that you find my embrace to be so satisfactory. I confess, never have I met a woman like you...so unsure of herself...so frightened of her own potential...never be frightened. I do not wish you to be frightened of anything, not yourself or your perceived flaws...nor me, for that matter...because, Tawny Townsend, lovely Tawny Townsend...you are beautiful."
Her plump pink lips parted, and with his fingers in direct contact with her skin, he could feel her awe flowing from her...awe, fear, excitement, confusion, a myriad of conflicting emotions...and yet he found it fascinating.
With his fingers on her skin, he knew that he was imparting the truth of his words to her...she would know that he was sincere, that those were the truest words he had ever spoken to a woman in his life...
He pulled away his fingers when he heard her stomach growling, and gestured down the street in the direction they had been walking. "I'm sure you're hungry...shall we?"
She blushed and nodded, then walked with him to a Chinese restaurant, her hands crossed firmly across her chest. Yet (it could have been his overeager imagination), he thought he saw her gaze linger surreptitiously on him as they headed for the establishment.
"And th-then he st-started speaking t-to me in V-Vulcan...he had his f-fingers on my f-face...I-I swear, Emmie...I-I could feel...s-something from him...b-but I-I'm not s-sure what it was..."
Emmie smiled and tugged Tawny closer. They were lying beside each other in bed, having a girl talk. It had been a long day, but Emmie felt like she needed to talk to someone about what her...Vulcan had said to her. So she had asked Tawny to spend the night when L'Vek and Kuvak went back to the Consulate. "L'Vek's done that to me...I think this Vulcan is interested in you, Tawny."
Her cheeks turned bright pink, and Emmie grinned. "N-no, Emmie, he...c-can't...c-couldn't be..."
"Vulcans don't touch very often, sweetheart. And when they do...it's very special. And you're telling me he not only touched your face, but asked you for a hug? Honey...even I can tell he's got the hots for you."
Tawny sighed. "I just don't s-see...how that's p-possible...b-besides...he w-won't be on Earth m-much longer...m-might as w-well forget him..."
Emmie turned her head and frowned at her. "Come on, Tawny, think positive. I really don't think you've seen the last of Kuvak, and if you want...I can ask L'Vek about him...maybe L'Vek is seeing what I'm seeing."
Tawny smiled shyly and rested her head against Emmie's shoulder. "You're s-such a good friend to m-me...I-I'm glad I-I have you."
Emmie smiled. "And I am glad you have you, sweetheart."
"Ms. Townsend confided in me that Ms. Sadir is in love with you, cousin." They were drinking tea together in L'Vek's quarters, discussing the day and L'Vek's chances with Meskhenet. "She said Ms. Sadir has been in love with you since you two met. And I must admit, I find the story of how you two met absolutely enthralling."
L'Vek caught his meaning and narrowed his eyes slightly, though he was by no means affronted. He knew Kuvak was teasing him. "Ms. Sadir was in danger of falling down the stairs. I used my superior reflexes to save her."
"Do you know why she fell down the stairs?"
L'Vek frowned. "She claimed she was clumsy. Though I know that is not true. She is very graceful."
Kuvak's eyes were shining with mischief. "According to Ms. Townsend, Ms. Sadir was not paying attention to where she was going...she was distracted by your eyes, and missed a step."
That statement both pleased and worried L'Vek, but Kuvak was not done. "Be careful how you use your gaze, L'Vek, lest more human women fall down flights of stairs," he said, the slightest hint of mischief and amusement in his voice.
L'Vek raised an eyebrow and took a sip of his tea. "It is agreeable to have you here, cousin...however, I must confess, I never thought you would take to the native population so well."
The tips of Kuvak's ears turned slightly green, and he turned away, sipping his tea. "She would never want someone like me."
"Are you so sure? She seemed quite absorbed by your presence."
Kuvak shook his head. "I highly doubt that...though...I have never met a woman like her...so uncertain...so..." He trailed off, and L'Vek could feel the sides of his mouth twitching upward, longing to smile.
"I believe Ms. Townsend was quite taken with you."
Kuvak sighed and took another drink of his tea. "And I believe you are mistaken. No, L'Vek...an old man like me has no chance with a young woman like her. She has her entire life to look forward to...I have...who knows how long..."
"Who knows how long any of us have? I may die tomorrow from an accident...though the odds are practically non-existant, there are no accounting for all the variables in the universe. No mind could calculate them."
His elder cousin frowned. "What is your point?"
"You are 162 years old, correct?"
Kuvak nodded. "Would a woman her age want a 162-year-old man?"
L'Vek sighed. "There may be cultural rifts to overcome, but consider...their lifespan often does not surpass one hundred. You both have about the same number of years left, provided you both stay healthy and do not die of other causes. You would age together."
Kuvak was quiet for a moment. "That does not change the fact that we are worlds apart...and that I do not even know if she would even be inclined to consider the thought of me as..."
He trailed off, and L'Vek sighed. "With an attitude like that, cousin, you are certain to fail. I was decisive today, and my reward was well worth the risk. Kuvak," L'Vek could not help but let the tiniest smile on his lips, "she said she is growing more attached to me day by day...she said the thought of being my wife appealed to her."
Kuvak's lips twitched upward. "What should I tell T'Mil?"
"That I have made my choice and am pursuing her. And I do not wish any more of her choices. I am over one hundred, and am old enough to make my own decisions."
His cousin nodded. "I hope you are successful, cousin, because T'Mil will most likely dismiss that answer. She believes you are too deep in fever to think rationally."
"What do you think?"
Kuvak paused. "That you are pursuing the woman who makes you content. There is no shame in that. Clan duty should not exclude finding a worthy and suitable life partner."
L'Vek nearly smiled. "I appreciate your words, Kuvak...Meskhenet invited me to observe the dance class she instructs tomorrow evening. If you plan to stay a few days longer, you could accompany me. I believe she mentioned that Ms. Townsend would be there, because her brother is also an instructor."
Kuvak's eyes twinkled. "I would be pleased to accompany you, cousin."
A/N: Don't be lulled into a false sense of security, dear reader. There are still monsters hiding under the bed. Kuvak, I want an explanation for your behavior. Now. :D