Chapter 2: Chosen
Tes knew Malok, and had worked with him recently, though she never said word of it to Silar. She had not suggested they eat at his restaurant, that idea was entirely Silar's. He was apparently quite impressed by the place, and wanted to keep returning there.
Tes had met Malok her first day in Vulcana Regar. He was a former V'Shar agent, retired but still contracting with them, orienting newcomers like her to the area. As a restaurant owner, he had knowledge and contacts, and certain social skills many young Vulcans often struggled with.
Silar still did not know nearly as much about her as he thought.
She knew he would need to be informed of several things before their bonding. As it was now, he had not indicated he knew anything of her true profession. She had planned that, and planned to tell him what he needed to know just shortly before they were fully bonded. It was an acceptable solution, one she had thought quite adequate for years.
Except that she had assumed their bonding would come only once the pon farr had begun.
She hadn't exactly factored in living near each other, spending time together, and ... finding themselves drawn to each other.
And thus that they may end up bonding sooner than she expected.
They spent much time together, now. At first they had met at Malok's restaurant once every four days, but they had gradually come to meet there every day. Tes began to come to Silar's office, on days when she had finished working but he had not. She quickly came to find their times together enjoyable, and to find Silar agreeable in personality and in appearance.
He was definitely attracted to her, she could feel as much from him. He enjoyed their time together as well, though he would never say it, and tried to suppress it.
Malok showed up at her workplace one day, asking if Silar was her telsu. If he was not, he warned her, she was getting too dangerously involved with him. Not only did he spend a great deal of time with her, and apparently had gained her attraction, but Malok believed he may have been slowly working to extract information from her.
She had just laughed, a response met with a raised eyebrow and tilted head. "I am not careless, Malok," she had said. "He has been watched, monitored, subjected to various background tests, since before we were bonded as children. He is trustworthy."
Their bond had been well chosen, of that much she was sure.
"I brought you something."
Silar looked up from his work to see Tes standing in front of his drafting table, holding something in a small paper bag.
She wrinkled the bag. "Where can I put this?"
"I did not think you were coming today. What is in the bag?"
"Something I found today. I thought you would like it."
He furrowed his brow. "What is it?"
"Something that you will like."
He put down his pencil and stood up. "I see."
She smiled at him, that peculiar smile that she showed so often when they were together. "Do you have a replicator here?"
He shook his head. "No, but we have a small kitchen. Will that suffice?"
"It should. Can you show me where it is?"
He glanced back at the drafting table. "Come with me."
She followed him through the hall to the tiny kitchen, limping behind him. He was concerned that she was not able to keep up with his pace today, but every time he slowed, so did she.
Finally, she asked, "Why do you keep slowing down, Silar?"
"You are walking behind me. I thought you ... were having trouble."
"I cannot walk behind you?"
"I ... you can, but I will slow down for you if you wish ... " He looked down at the ground, at the distance between them. Even throughout all his slightly erratic speed changes during their short walk, he realized she had kept this distance constant. He looked up again and met her eyes, taking short strides towards her, approximately the length of hers. Three steps. He fought a sudden surge of pride. "Yes, you may walk there, Tes. I apologize, I did not realize ... the reason. You have not done this before."
"We have not walked together often."
He nodded. A few more steps, and they reached the kitchen door.
He turned again, and she raised both eyebrows. "Are we going to enter?"
"Of course," he nodded and fought back embarrassment, opening the door. "We have a stasis unit, a rewarmer, a sink. Will that suffice?"
"Does the sink have water?"
"Yes, and a small sonic washer."
"Are there dishes of any sort? And a table?"
"There are a few dishes in those cabinets." He pointed. "Are you hungry?"
"Yes. Are you?"
He thought for a moment. "Yes, I believe I am. I have not given it much thought." Something like panic suddenly struck him. "I ... I did not mean to neglect your needs, Tes. I could have rescheduled my meeting with my client and we could have gone to Malok's like usual. I did not mean to ..."
"Would you like to know what is in the bag?"
He had forgotten about the bag. "Yes."
She set her package down on the small counterspace, and pulled a container from it. It contained an emerald-green substance, slightly textured, with a disconcerting resemblance to coagulating blood.
"What is that?"
"Ratamba stew. It's Bajoran." She pulled out another package, something wrapped in plastic and white paper, and set it on top of the container of ... stew.
"Is it edible?"
"Yes, and it tastes good, too." She reached up into the cabinets and retrieved bowls and drinking glasses.
"It does not look good, nor edible."
She shook her head. "Do you have utensils?"
He opened a drawer. "It looks ... like blood. Are you sure it is edible?"
"Yes, Silar. It is a Bajoran dish, and would not have such connotations to them. I can assure you it contains nothing undesirable." She began unwrapping the other package, the one wrapped in plastic and white paper. A strong, but agreeable smell of savory herbs filled the room.
"What is that? It has an agreeable scent."
She showed him one of the small things, a pale bread with green flecks.
"Droli. Also Bajoran." She split the strange green stew evenly between two bowls and placed three of the small biscuits on top of each.
"Where did you get these?"
"Here, in Vulcana Regar. There is a small restaurant on Khu'rak Street that is owned by Bajorans." She retrieved two glasses from the cabinets and filled them both with water from the sink. "Is there a table where we may eat?"
"The desk in my office is adequate for that purpose."
He grabbed the two bowls, and Tes followed him out of the little kitchen up to his office.
Silar set the two bowls down on his desk, clearing away the few PADDs that cluttered the surface. She watched him eye the stew warily, before sitting down and motioning for her to do the same.
She did not sit down, but ensured she had his attention as she set down one glass in front of her bowl, and took a long drink from the other.
Silar's attention drifted back to the stew in front of him, and he slowly reached for the glass she had set beside her own bowl.
Tes reached over the desk and grabbed his hand, stopping it. He looked up at her, shocked at the touch. "This is your glass, Silar," she said, holding out the glass she had drank from.
"Oh," he replied, as if remembering something forgotten. He truly was slow to notice some things, she thought.
As realization dawned, his eyes grew wide. He took the offered glass and drank it quickly, never breaking eye contact with her. Still, he seemed confused.
"You are already my telsu," he said. "Why have you done this?"
"To ensure that you know I am yours. That I want you. That I have chosen you."
He swallowed slowly, not saying anything, keeping his eyes glued on her as she sat down and began to eat.
"What do you think of the stew, Silar?"
He raised an eyebrow. He still had not tried it.
"At least eat a droli."
He did. "This is an agreeable food."
"Try the stew."
He did, still staring at her, willing to do anything she asked of him at the moment.
"What do you think?"
"You have chosen me?"
"Have I not sought you out, spent a great deal of my time with you, Silar?"
He nodded. "I didn't think ..."
"I ... I don't know. I didn't think you would ... have chosen me ... if you had the chance. Being bonded, as children ... not everyone in my family does that. I heard ... stories ... as a child, about being rejected ... left ... to die, when ..." Waves of fear, of insecurity, were practically rolling off of him.
She took his hand again, pressing the pads of their fingers together. "I will never leave you, Silar. I will not reject you."
At that, he lurched forward, pressing one finger to the freckle above her right eyebrow. She could sense his struggle to keep his hands from moving downward to initiate a meld ... or complete their bond. So he just sat, frozen, leaning towards her like that with a single finger on her face, breathing heavily.
She smiled slightly. "What are you doing, Silar?"
"I ... I am ... not sure." His fingers began to drift downwards, closer to the meld points.
He tore his hands away.
She reached again for his wrist, fingers working towards his palm. "You don't have to stop."
"I do, Tes. I have clients. Clients, that will be here soon. If we had continued ... I do not know if ... we would have ... I would be free to ..." His other hand found its way upward, seemingly of its own volition, and he began caressing her jaw. "You try my control, Tes."
A low growl escaped his throat as his fingers found her earlobe and began to work upwards towards the tip.
She smiled. As he slowly traced up the outer edge of her ear, making small circular motions, she did the same to the palm of his other hand. He breathed in sharply, eyes closed.
He stopped, eyes snapping open again, and ran his finger along the uneven scar near the tip of her ear. "What happened, Tes?"
She slowly let out a breath. "It is something I do not wish to speak of."
He freed his other hand from hers and reached for her other ear, finding the same scar there. "You have said that before ... about ... your difficulty breathing. Why will you not tell me? Who did these things to you?"
"It was a painful time, Silar," she said solemnly.
"I felt your pain, through our bond."
Her eyes widened. They only had a base bond. "I ... did not mean for that to happen. I mean ... " The words she wanted to say just would not come to her. "I mean, I didn't know that it could. I apologize." She took a deep breath. "You should have been kept from that. It was ... it was ..."
"You must have been subjected to a great deal of pain."
She nodded, and swallowed. "I was."
"Are there more injuries?"
"Minor things. Scars. Healed ... "
"Why, Tes? Why would someone injure you?"
"I said, I do not wish to speak of it."
"Tes ..." She could feel his anger building, seeping through his control.
"Why are you angry?"
He visibly twitched. "How ..." He looked down at their hands, which were no longer touching.
"I have some empathic ability."
"Oh." He sighed and took several deep breaths, attempting to center himself. "I am not angry at you, Tes. It is ... whoever would harm you in this manner ... " His anger flared again, but he reached over and took her hand. "Please, tell me. I am your telsu. You can ... why will you not speak of it?"
She took a breath, attempted to speak, and found she could not.
"I ... I cannot."
"Are you still in danger?"
"Why can you not speak of it?"
"It is ... difficult." It should not be, not this difficult, she thought. It had been eight months. She could control this. She had to.
He waited, still holding her hand.
"I still cannot separate ... discussing and ... and talking about it ... from ... " She inhaled deeply. "From the experience. From experiencing it again. I mean ... " Another breath. "I ... I was tortured, Silar. I ..."
She did not need her empathic skills to see his control break. He was shocked, angry, he truly had not concluded that for himself. "How long ... were you ... " He breathed heavily.
How long? She hadn't known at the time. Only from reports, later on. "Nineteen days."
In a moment he was up, his chair falling to the floor. The stew sloshed onto his desk. He clenched his fists, then grabbed her by the shoulders. "Who? Who did this?" He gripped her tighter, fire blazing in his eyes. "Tell me, Tes, so I may kill them! No one will harm you like that and live!"
"They ... they are already dead. It's ... it's over. It's over."
"Who killed them?"
"I cannot say."
"That was my duty! I should have been the one to kill them! You are mine, Tes! Mine! And I will avenge you!"
"Silar, they would have killed you before you could get within fifty meters of them. You would not have stood a chance."
He suddenly lifted her up from her chair into his arms, holding her tightly to his chest and stroking her hair with one hand. He still had not regained his control, and he had seemed to have given up trying. Still, she found his embrace comforting, the brush of his mind against hers as his fingers trailed her scalp to be welcome.
"I will not allow harm to come to you again." He set her down on the desk and lifted his hand to her face, pulling her towards his touch.
And then he was there, in her mind, the fire and the chaos of the unrestrained Vulcan mind, pulling her down with him toward places she had not willingly been in many months.
He pulled back.
I can't ... There are too many things that have not healed yet. Maybe ... someday ...
She was hit with an almost overwhelming sense of shame, not her own, and suddenly the meld had broken, surroundings becoming clear again.
Silar sank down into one of the chairs, burying his face in hands. "I apologize," he choked out, voice thick. "I should not have done that. I should not have ... I apologize. I should not have initiated a meld in such a ... state. I apologize. Tes ..." He stood quickly. "I cannot stay here. I need time ... to meditate ... "
Against rationality, she reached out and stopped him from leaving.
Within seconds, she found herself standing up, back pushed to the wall, his body pressed to hers, his hands pulling at her collar, his mouth searching her neck to mark her. Fire surged through her veins, her own and his, as his hand reached for her face again and he bit down along her collarbone.
But Silar jumped back, as if painfully shocked, wiping her blood from his lip. He stared down at the green streaks on his fingers with wide eyes, then turned, and fled.