A/N: Yeah, I'm also gonna dedicate this chapter to Fameanon. Because she read over this for me once :D Yay for awesome people!

It was not a limp, precisely, moreso it was stiffness in gait that belied her injury. And every now and then, she found herself struggling to take a breath, too-familiar pain and heaviness in her chest. Her scars had faded from pale green to white. She did not have to see the healers any longer, they believed her physical and mental recovery nearly complete. Yet still they had assured her, it was normal there would be nights the memories would not let her rest, and with time, this would pass.

Tes came to the V'Shar just discharged from the Vulcan Defense Force, the details of how she had sustained her various injuries still classified. She had been an intelligence officer for years, and the V'Shar considered her experience more important than her physical condition.

The healers approved her return to work, and believed it beneficial to her continued recovery. After the initial records checks came up clear, she was rapidly accepted into the V'Shar Academy.

There, as everywhere else, she faced prejudice for her chosen adherence to Tu-Nirak, and thus, her "incomplete" suppression of emotion. While the philosophy was generally accepted as valid and she was certainly not a vre'kasht, one who chose a life of reckless lack of control, it took time for the instructors and her fellow trainees to accept that she was competent. Little did they realize how much she did suppress, how many hours of meditation she spent then, and the dreams that still fractured her sleep.

It rained for some part of 94% of the days she spent there. The local climate's similarity to Romulus was not lost on most. For Tes, the humidity, the tightness in her chest, the shortness of breath, reminded her that had she chosen the V'Shar years ago, had she been sent to Romulus instead, none of it would have happened.

Her training at the academy was interrupted, during a hand-to-hand combat proficiency test, when a sparring partner struck her injured right knee. Whether truly an accident or not, the impact tore ligaments that were not fully healed, and rendered her unable to walk again for several days.

Still, this was not considered too great a liability, and upon completion of her training, she was stationed in Vulcana Regar in an import/export business - a front organization - near the V'Shar Headquarters.

Also living there in Vulcana Regar was a young architect, Silar, to whom Tes had been bonded when they were children.

The secretary alerted him to the presence of a potential client in the lobby, for an entirely unscheduled meeting.

"Send them up," Silar had told him. Curious, few clients, Vulcan or otherwise, came here without an appointment. They knew he was frequently out of his office.

A woman stood before him, she was short, with curly hair. Something about her was very familiar. The intense blue eyes. And, the urge to touch ... Touching, yet not touching; apart, yet never apart ...


"Yes, Silar. It's me."

Suddenly at a loss for words despite himself, Silar stepped back and surveyed her appearance. He had not seen her since the kan-telan. She had become quite ... pleasing aesthetically since then.

He cleared his throat roughly. "Why are you here?"

"I live in Vulcana Regar now."

He motioned for her to take a seat, and sat down himself. Belatedly, he remembered he did have an appointment with a client scheduled in less than twenty minutes.

She had agreed to wait for him out there in the lobby. Now, as he approached, she looked up at him and - curiously - smiled. He raised an eyebrow.

"I would like to go someplace to eat together, if you have time, but I confess I am not yet familiar with the local establishments. Do you have any recommendations?"

"There is a place nearby - a man named Malok owns it. I have found the food agreeable."

"Good," she said simply, rising to her feet. "When is your next appointment?"

"I have no further obligations for the day."

She smiled again, a smile that reached her eyes. He recalled that several in her family had chosen to follow Tu-Jarok or Tu-Nirak, it was probable that she had become one of those who did. In theory, he did not take issue with this, the philosophies were those of Surak's first students. But he still wondered if difficulties would arise once they had been fully bonded.

Her voice broke him from his thoughts. "I do not know the way, Silar. Instead of staring at me, let's go."

He nodded. He held the lobby door open for her, a gesture of courtesy he had learned from some human clients, and they exited onto the street.

The way she walked caught his notice, indicating pain or structural weakness on her right side.

He stopped her, lightly placing his hand on her arm. He would have preferred to take her hand, to press his fingers to hers. "Are you injured?" he asked.

Her expression remained well controlled, but a darkness came over her eyes. She said nothing.

"You must tell me, Tes," he said, more intensity creeping into his voice than he intended. "Are you in pain?"

Again, she did not answer, this time softly removing his hand from her arm.

"Tes!" He turned and grabbed her by the shoulders, staring into her eyes. "Tell me."

"It is something I do not wish to speak about. Now remove your hands from me, we are in public."

He let his hands fall back to his sides and fought a surge of embarrassment. She was right, they were in public, he should not be acting like this.

He stepped from her path and they began walking again. Her refusal to answer his questions was as good as affirmative, and he found this troubled him deeply. She was injured. She was in pain.

Though he knew they only had a base bond, he tried to access it anyway. Even with her physically nearby, though, he still could sense no more than just that, a base bond.

A series of raspy coughs caught his attention. "Silar ..." she clutched at her chest, trying to stop the coughing. "Slow down."

"You are not well, Tes!" He stopped her again, standing in front of her but trying to keep himself from touching her this time. She bent over, bracing hands on thighs, trying to take deep breaths.

It brought to recall, eight months ago ...

He had been drawing plans when he began to feel strange. Almost ill. It was unusual for an illness to come on so suddenly, but he put it aside and continued working. For several weeks he continued to feel mildly fatigued, but could not determine why. One evening, as he was meditating, a heaviness came over his chest, and he found himself gasping for breath. The feeling mostly passed within twenty minutes, but he had been concerned enough to schedule an appointment to see a doctor in the morning. The doctor found nothing wrong, and the lingering pressure had entirely disappeared by the following evening.

He had not realized it until now. It was Tes. The bond. But if he could not feel anything here, now, how much greater did her pain have to be then?

A part of him growled in anger. Who did this to her? They had hurt her! When he got his hands on whoever had done this to his telsu ...

Tes called his name quietly, voice raspy. "What is, is, Silar. Nothing you can do will change the past."

... he would break their neck! No, no, even that would be too merciful. They had made her suffer. He would ...


He unclenched his fists, unaware they had been that way in the first place.

"Come, let's go eat."