Author: Keira Marcos
Betas: Ladyholder & Chris King
Series: Tangled Destinies
Series Order: 9
Fandom: Star Trek
Pairings: Kirk/Spock, Sarek/Amanda Grayson, Pike/McCoy, OC/OC
Genre: Romance, Angst
Warnings: Language, explicit sexual contact, an author whose respect for canon is both casual and transitory. Go with it. It won’t hurt you.
Summary: Sarek takes his family back to Vulcan for the formal adoption of T’Mara.
* * * *
Jim loved space. Maybe it was because he hadn’t been born on a planet or maybe it was the adventure of it all. He really couldn’t be sure. He was sitting in a small observation deck on the Sh’Vor, a Vulcan Suurok class starship that had once been used for exploration and now appeared to exist solely for the transport of T’Pau. The entire crew’s official job was to take her wherever she wanted to go as far as Jim could tell. In the lull of travel, the Sh’Vor was one big science experiment. The research that came from the vessel on the course of those trips made scientists all over the Federation stupid with jealousy. T’Pau answered to no one and therefore traveled where ever she liked to see whatever was interesting.
“You are well, James Kirk?”
Jim turned and found the Matriarch of his clan staring at him pointedly. He immediately rolled to his feet, embarrassed to be caught sprawling in the window seat of the observation lounge. He raised his hand in salute, easily manipulating his fingers into the Ta’al formation. “Live long and prosper.”
She returned the gesture gravely, her eyes lit with unspoken pleasure at his ease with the ritual. “Peace and long life, James Kirk.” She sat down on the bench he’d been using. “I have had the ship’s environmental controls programmed to lower the temperature whenever you or Amanda are in a room. I realize it is probably still quite stifling for you.”
“I’ve grown accustomed to the environmental situation in Ambassador Sarek’s home,” Jim said by way of explanation and after a small hesitation, joined T’Pau on the bench. “Did you wish to speak to me about something specific?”
She inclined her head as if to agree. “The crew is curious about you and Spock. Most of the men and women on this ship belong to the House of Surak by blood or marriage but there are several who are not. You must know that Spock, and those like him, have never received the respect they deserve on Vulcan.”
“T’Mara has unsettled even members of our clan who were not prepared to deal with such an undisciplined Vulcan mind among them.”
Jim grimaced but schooled his features quickly. “I am very aware of it actually—their discomfort has bled all over me since I came on board. I’ve mediated twice in the last twenty-four hours, but it hasn’t helped much.”
“Is Spock aware of your discomfort?”
“We have few secrets left between us, Elder.” Jim’s gaze shifted to the window, the blur created by the cycling warp field was oddly soothing. “I was born in space.”
“I am aware.” Her tone was almost amused.
Jim nodded. “I feel more at home in space than I do anywhere else. There is a peace here that eludes me when I’m planet bound. My dad says I was born with adventure in my heart.”
“It is an apt description for a young man with ambitions such as yours,” T’Pau murmured. “I am… concerned.”
He focused on her, taking in the minute changes in her facial expression. He didn’t know her as well as he knew Spock or even Sarek but he had melded with her—had touched her mind with his own, so she wasn’t as mysterious to him as she been in the past. “I am well.”
“Vulcan will tax you.”
“Emotionally,” T’Pau corrected. “Amanda had the refuge of her own mind—you will enjoy no such protection on Vulcan. Your bond will be subject to scrutiny, no matter how informal. Vulcan telepathy requires touch but you, above most, understand that it is not as simple as that.”
Jim paused and nodded. “At first, I thought it was coming from me—the strength of my connection with Spock. I thought that our bond had added elements because of my Betazoid heritage. It wasn’t until I noticed Dr. Grayson’s response to her husband that I realized it wasn’t that simple. She is psi-null, yet she often and quite obviously communicates with her husband through their bond. On the occasions that I’ve had need to touch her mind—it was easy to see her connection to her husband.” He paused. “Why haven’t you ever helped Spock create a parental bond with his mother?”
T’Pau made no appearance of shock. “Her connection to Sarek is so profound that it was impossible. She came to me when Spock was an infant and I made several attempts. The bond T’Mara has created with Amanda is not, no matter how robust, a traditional parental bond. You must have noticed this as well.”
“It’s different from the bond she created with Sarek, yes.” Jim nodded. “It’s more like a psi-tether than a bond. It must’ve been how she connected with her human father—a bond built on instinct rather than ability. I’ve worked with her every day since the bombing—in an effort to smooth the bond out and make it less needy.”
“Stopak has indicated that you have done very well in that regard—he admits that he could not have achieved as much.”
“I took her to see Jaret last week,” Jim admitted. “Her bond with Dr. Grayson is very emotional—empathic. Healer Stopak isn’t comfortable touching it. I’ve watched him work with T’Mara and Dr. Grayson twice.”
“Such strong emotions are difficult for those of us who pride ourselves on our mental and emotional discipline,” T’Pau allowed.
“You are concerned that I might lash out telepathically at someone on Vulcan if they are rude to me,” Jim surmised.
“I have never known a full Vulcan to get a headache outside of severe head trauma,” T’Pau said with one elegantly uplifted eyebrow.
Jim had the grace to flush. He exhaled sharply and shifted his gaze to the window again. “He called me a whore. The insult of it was more than I could tolerate.” He paused and started to pick at the seam of his pants as he thought about it. “I should’ve come to you with my grievance about him?”
“It is my place as your Matriarch to address such slander to your character,” T’Pau explained, her tone dry as the desert. “Could you kill with your mind, James?”
He paused and considered it. “I…”
“I ask because the man you lashed out at during the kidnapping attempt has yet to regain consciousness. He is essentially a prisoner in his own mind. Federation Security has petitioned both the Vulcan and Betazoid embassies for access to you regarding his condition.”
“And the response?”
“Ambassador Deloia’s response was quite pointed,” T’Pau allowed. “I chose to simply say no. We are in agreement that you should not have to see the man again, nor should be you asked to touch his mind or undo what you did to him.” She paused. “What did you do to him?”
“I…” Jim shook his head. “I don’t really know. I was scared—afraid that Spock would be hurt, afraid that the man would try to touch me. He had horrible thoughts in his head. I saw things in him that I hadn’t seen in a long time; things I never wanted to see again. It was my intention to essentially castrate him sexually—to make him incapable of hurting another child with his horrific proclivities.”
“He reminded you of your stepfather.”
“Healer Stopak contacted Federation Security and explained to them that the amount of mental and emotional duress you suffered during the attack was in itself such a violation of your mind that he would personally block any attempt on their parts to have you attempt to touch his mind again. Your Betazoid teacher has said much the same about the situation.”
“What are the Federation laws governing the situation?” Jim asked, his gut boiling with anxiety. Spock prodded him gently through their bond but he shifted the emotions he was projecting deeper—further away from their bond and Spock retreated.
“There are few regarding telepathic self-defense,” T’Pau explained. “You reacted instinctually and you were well within your rights to attempt to escape your attacker in any way that would see it accomplished.”
“What about the physical damage that Spock inflicted?”
“They have nothing to say about that,” T’Pau admitted. “I believe they were quite stunned by the level of violence he inflicted on the man that attacked you. In the wake of your bonding, I believe most at Federation Security have come to believe that his response was a result more of his human emotional connection to you than anything else.”
“We both know that’s not the case.”
“Vulcan males can be territorial,” T’Pau allowed. “Especially when it comes to their mates.”
* * * *
T’Mara and Spock were ensconced in a large chair using a PADD when Jim entered the suite of rooms they were sharing with Spock’s parents. They had their own room and neither Sarek nor Amanda had intruded on their space since they’d boarded. Jim appreciated the level of trust on their parts but he knew neither he nor Spock had any intention of being intimate while traveling on the ship.
“Jim!” T’Mara bounced slightly and wiggled out of Spock’s lap in favor of her second favorite human.
He caught her up easily and grinned when she immediately brushed her fingertips across two different meld points on his face. Her mental touch glanced over his mind seeking out affection and assurance. In most respects she wasn’t much different from Betazoid children he’d interacted with—except she largely required touch. They had a small empathic tether, much like he’d once enjoyed with Spock before their telepathic bond took its place. She had the same tether with Spock—Jim had helped them establish it. He knew better than anyone how much Spock needed and wanted emotional connections with other people. T’Mara’s mind had eagerly accepted the empathic connection with her new brother.
“I am very smart.”
Jim grinned at her. “Is that so?”
“She is quite intelligent,” Spock said, his eyes dark with good humor.
“That is to be expected,” Jim responded gravely. “Only the smartest and most brave are allowed into the House of Surak.” He swished her around and made a noise like antique airplane which made her laugh boisterously. He flew her back to Spock’s lap and then went to the replicator for a glass of water. “What are you teaching her?”
“Social etiquette,” Spock admitted. “The more polite she is the better she will be received by the rest of the clan.”
“And maybe they won’t hurt her the way they did you?” Jim questioned mentally.
”Some members of my clan had difficulty understanding how easily it was to be misunderstood when I was a very small child. Their logic was cold… bitter to me. I eventually learned that they did not mean to be offensive. And I realized that they were kind in their own way after I was exposed to Vulcans outside our clan.”
Jim frowned by nodded. “Elder T’Pau came to speak to me while I was on the observation deck.”
Spock lifted one eyebrow in question as he activated the PADD for T’Mara to continue her studies. “What did she wish to speak of privately?”
“Those slavers that attacked us…” Jim trailed off at the flash of genuine fury that bled off Spock and cleared his throat as he watched his bondmate collect himself. “Specifically, the one that I lashed out at telepathically. He hasn’t regained consciousness… Dad didn’t tell me that. I guess he didn’t want me to feel guilty about it.”
“You have nothing to feel guilty for,” Spock said shortly. “They weren’t good men, Jim.”
“No, I agree. I don’t feel guilty. Apparently Federation Security petitioned both the Vulcan and Betazed embassies for information about what I might have done and suggested that I try to wake the man up since I put him down.”
“You’re not touching that monster’s mind!” Spock hissed and T’Mara squeaked with alarm. She scrambled out of Spock’s lap and ran to Jim with a sob, her PADD skidding across the carpet.
Jim glared pointedly at Spock who looked furious and contrite. “Hey, kiddo, it’s okay.” He picked her up and held her shaking form close to his chest as the doors to the suite opened and Amanda rushed in. “She had a little scare that’s all.”
T’Mara immediately reached for her as soon as she was within reach and buried her face against Amanda’s neck. “Spock’s mad.”
Jim winced and Spock flushed furiously as he picked up the PADD.
“Are you two arguing?” Amanda demanded. “I warned you about doing that in front of her!”
“No, of course, not Mother.” Spock averted his gaze and clasped his hands behind his back as Sarek entered from the hall—obviously just as hurried as Amanda had been. “Jim was relating to me the request that Federation Security made of the embassy and I reacted badly. T’Mara was sitting with me and she received some of my emotional response before I could contain it.”He bit down on his bottom lip in contrition. “I’d never hurt or upset her on purpose, Mother, please know this.”
Amanda’s expression softened immediately. “I do know, Spock. I trust you to always be kind and considerate with those weaker than you.” She ran her fingers through T’Mara’s curls. “You often responded badly to swift changes in my emotional state when you were this age. I doubt you could’ve done anything to prevent her response considering her own emotional instability.”
Spock nodded but his face was flushed with a mixture of anger and embarrassment. “T’Mara, I am not upset with you.”
She lifted her face away from her mother’s neck and stared at him, tears streaming down her face. “Promise?”
“I promise,” Spock said solemnly. “You did nothing wrong. I caused you harm and for that I apologize.”
She pursed her lips. “Then you can read me my story to make up for it.” She wiggled a little and Amanda let her down.
Jim watched her dash away to the small room that was her bedroom in the suite and wasn’t surprised when she returned with a book. He’d taken her to the bookstore shortly before they’d left Earth and had paid a ridiculous amount of money for a printed copy of Alice in Wonderland. It was a fairly new printing—a luxury item by the standards of most, but T’Mara had taken to printed books much the same way Jim had.
Spock took the book with all the gravity of one being handed a Nobel Prize in Astrophysics and offered his sister his hand. She took it with only a slight hesitation and then offered him a bright smile immediately before dragging him off to her room.
“I have to change into my night gown before we read!”
Jim watched them leave then retrieved his water from the replicator. “I apologize for that… I didn’t think before I started speaking. He’s been so reserved about the incident. I had no idea he had so much lingering hostility about it.” He sighed. “I don’t think he did either to be honest. He spent way too much time focusing on what I needed after it happened.”
“I agree,” Sarek said after a long moment of silence. “The two of you will discuss this in private as well?”
“Of course, sir.”
* * * *
“There was a table set out under a tree in front of the house, and the March Hare and the Hatter were having tea at it: a Dormouse was sitting between them, fast asleep, and the other two were using it as a cushion, resting their elbows on it, and talking over its head. “Very uncomfortable for the Dormouse,” thought Alice; “only as it’s asleep, I suppose it doesn’t mind.”
The table was a large one, but the three were all crowded together at one corner of it. “No room! No room!” they cried out when they saw Alice coming.
“There’s plenty of room!” said Alice indignantly, and she sat down in a large arm-chair at one end of the table.
“Have some wine,” the March Hare said in an encouraging tone.
Alice looked all round the table, but there was nothing on it but tea. “I don’t see any wine,” she remarked.
“There isn’t any,” said the March Hare.
“Then it wasn’t very civil of you to offer it,” said Alice, angrily.
“It wasn’t very civil of you to sit down without being invited,” said the March Hare.
“I didn’t know it was your table,” said Alice: “it’s laid for a great many more than three.”
“It was rude of her to sit down without being invited,” T’Mara offered sleepily.
“Indeed,” Spock murmured in agreement as T’Mara shifted closer to him. “Good manners can smooth the way in many situations.”
“Other Vulcans don’t like us Spock.”
“Many find existence of people like you and I… difficult to accept,” Spock admitted. “But I have learned to ignore them in favor of those who appreciate me for who I am.”
“Yes, like Jim.”
“Is he a good bondmate?” T’Mara questioned.
“The very best I could have hoped for,” Spock murmured. “He is affectionate, warm, and forgiving. He tries to understand me even when I do not understand myself. Jim gives his heart and his time selflessly. That is a rare thing—no matter the species.”
“Can I have him for my bondmate when I get older?”
Spock eyes lit with amusement. “I’m afraid not, little one, he is only for me.”
“Mother says sharing is very important,” T’Mara lectured around a yawn.
“Some things are not meant to be shared,” Spock explained gently as she settled closer to him and her fingers curled into his shirt. “One day you will have a bondmate of your own and he or she will be all that you could want.”
“I will make sure of it,” Spock murmured. “Your birth mother bonded for love, T’Mara. She defied her clan to find that love. In choosing to bond for love—you will do her memory great honor.”
“I love Jim,” T’Mara said.
Spock pressed a kiss to her head and smiled into her curls. “I love Jim as well.”
“If he can’t be mine… I’m glad he’s yours,” T’Mara declared.
“As am I.”
* * * *
“You are upset.”
Jim shook his head. “Not—really—it’s not me. I’m getting a lot of feedback from someone on the ship.” He sighed. “Someone is precariously close to falling into plak tow. I haven’t figured out who, but hopefully they’re aware of their state and have prepared for it.”
“Their emotional state is so compromised that they are bothering you?” Spock asked as he pulled on a thermal shirt. Sleeping with Jim required more clothes for himself but being by his mate’s side was worth the effort on his part. He caught the thick cotton socks that Jim threw his way from the storage unit they were sharing.
Jim considered his question carefully. “Vulcans are probably the most emotional aliens I’ve ever encountered, Spock. I realize you were mistreated because of your own emotional outbursts as a child—teased and bullied by children who accused you of being too emotional because of your Human mother, but I’ve rarely encountered a Vulcan that was not a seething mass of carefully suppressed emotion. Some bury it better than others—have a tighter control over it. While others are only capable of putting on the stoic face—their mind is a riot of emotion so extreme that I have to think that logic must be extremely difficult for them.”
Spock sat down on the bed and carefully put on his socks as he considered how to answer that. “There are many Vulcans on my home world who do not pursue careers in academics. They are… content with other endeavors. Farming communities and industrial trades are often just as competitive as say the Vulcan Science Academy.”
Jim snorted. “Many of your farmers have the equivalent education of a PhD on Earth, Spock.”
“Still I think most people think that all Vulcans are…”
“Robots,” Spock deadpanned as he tackled Jim to the bed and settled on top of him. “We are all artificially intelligent robots who are programmed to infuriate every emotional being we come across in our endeavors to spread the teachings of our most famous robot—Surak.”
Jim nodded seriously. “You’re all produced in a lab and with the most advanced programming and…” He trailed off with a laugh. “Come down here and kiss me, you robot freak.”
Spock almost smiled but immediately lowered his head to press his mouth to Jim’s. His bondmate shifted under him sensually and opened his mouth immediately—inviting Spock to explore. Through their bond, he felt a sharp spike of lust that was so startling that he jerked his mouth free and stared at Jim. “Are you okay?”
Jim lifted his hips against Spock and made a frustrated sound. “Fuck.” He shuddered. “Get off me, Spock.”
Spock immediately rolled off him and settled on his knees. “Jim?”
Jim slipped off the bed and staggered to the other side of the room. “I’m… huh… wow. I need Bones and Healer Stopak, right now.”
* * * *
Jim watched the healer take a second then third set of readings and was relieved that he’d thought to get under a blanket. He kept his hands in his lap in an effort to hide his erection from Spock’s mother who was hovering near her son at the end of the bed. Sarek was near the door speaking quietly with his Dad. Pike had been confused and then genuinely pleased when Sarek had invited him and Bones to travel to Vulcan for T’Mara’s adoption ceremony. They were staying next door in separate quarters for their own privacy more than anything else.
McCoy exchanged pointed looks with Stopak and cleared his throat as he set aside his tricorder. He sat down on the edge of the bed and, out of some inane habit, plucked up Jim’s wrist and pressed his fingers to his pulse. “You’re exhibiting some pretty distressing psionic readings and your hormone production is on the same level as when you were unbonded and first entering puberty. You’re practically in heat.”
Jim blushed furiously and averted his gaze. “Jeez, Bones.”
“Sorry, kiddo.” Bones released his wrist with a sigh. “Tell me about your empathic impressions—it’s obvious you’re picking up something serious on board this ship that you’ve never encountered before.”
His gaze dropped to his lap. “Someone on board is…” He looked toward Healer Stopak and his gaze unwillingly flicked to Sarek before he focused on Bones. “Someone on board is experiencing an elevated level of sexual arousal and they are bleeding all over me empathically.”
“Vulcans don’t normally…” Bones trailed off and turned to glare pointedly at Stopak. “You promised me full goddamned disclosure! When they bonded you said you’d spoken with the VSA and I would be given all the information I needed to treat not only Jim but Spock in the event of an emergency!”
Jim winced but Stopak raised one eyebrow. “Yes, Doctor, that is one reason why I decided to travel to Vulcan with you at this time. It was a good time to take you to the VSA and educate you matters of Vulcan biology that are not normally given to off-worlders. Your performance after our crisis made many from the embassy re-evaluate how we have interacted with Starfleet Medical in the past and it was decided that you would be… thoroughly debriefed, beyond even what I agreed to when you questioned me about James Kirk’s status in his bond with Spock.”
“What is this then?” McCoy demanded.
“Completely unexpected,” Stopak admitted. “We’ve encountered Betazoids before, of course, and they have been exposed to our people at various points during our development but we’ve never had one…” He paused and focused on Spock. “Spock, how do you… feel?”
“I am well,” Spock said tightly.
“The hell you are,” McCoy said and pointed a finger at him.
“I am, of course, concerned about Jim’s reaction to this other Vulcan,” Spock admitted.
“Our bond is fine,” Jim snapped and glared pointedly at Spock. “How can you think that I would…it isn’t like I can control this! He’s broadcasting like a high-jacked subspace relay. I don’t see how you all aren’t being affected by him.”
“Your temper is getting shorter and you are quite irrational,” Spock observed. “You know that I do not doubt your fidelity.”
Jim huffed and averted his gaze. “Essentially, Bones, this is exactly like a mating heat but it isn’t mine. It’s someone else on board.”
“There is a Vulcan on board that requested passage to Vulcan and isolation until we arrived,” Stopak admitted. “He is in the infirmary and presents no threat to James. You are not quite finished with your own maturity—your Betazoid brain chemistry has been battling with your more human qualities for some time. It is entirely likely that this has caused you to be more sensitive to the psionic distress of someone during their Time,” Stopak said diplomatically. “Did you bring your personal psionic shield? Why is not it active?”
Jim pinched his nose briefly. “T’Mara is using it. She can’t sleep without it on board this ship—her biological father might have been psi-null but he must have had a parent who was psi-sensitive at the very least. You know how developed her empathy is. If we broaden the field and strengthen it to the degree that I need – she will suffer for it because it would weaken her familial bonds. She’s a little kid so that’s just unacceptable to me. Not to be crass but this isn’t necessarily a situation I’m unfamiliar with. I can take care of it… on my own.”
Stopak’s cheeks darkened and McCoy snorted. Amanda laughed a little and shared a grin with Pike who was shaking his head in rueful agreement.
“We are ten hours from Vulcan,” Sarek said suddenly. “Spock, you will take the second bed in T’Mara’s room and leave James… to handle this matter privately.”
Spock disagreed with that on a level that was astronomical but he wasn’t going to argue with his father. He focused on the flushed, bright-eyed face of his bondmate. Jim looked… like they’d spent the afternoon engaging in activities that would get them both grounded until they were 30. His pupils were blown, his breathing was a little erratic and his skin was flushed with heat.
“I don’t agree,” McCoy began. “Jim is sixteen years old and I think, Sarek, you’re overlooking a very important factor.”
“I do not understand your meaning, Leonard.”
McCoy sighed. “The refractory for a healthy sixteen year old Human/Betazoid hybrid is roughly 15 minutes or less.”
Jim blushed furiously. “Bones!” He kicked at McCoy weakly and averted his eyes. “Seriously, this conversation is beyond the pale.”
Amanda laughed suddenly. “I’ll just go check on T’Mara.”
Jim slouched back against the headboard when the door shut behind her. “This is…”
“The feedback you’re getting from this guy is not going to go away,” McCoy said shortly. “He’s not getting his needs met which means it’s only going to get stronger and stronger until he reaches Vulcan, correct Stopak?”
“Correct,” Stopak admitted.
“Right. Which means you’re going to be like this all night, Jim. To be perfectly blunt, ten hours from now if we leave you to handle this you’re going to be exhausted, dehydrated, and severely chaffed. This is not a sexy time waiting to happen for you.”
Jim grimaced. “Did you have to bring up chafing?”
“Someone had to,” Pike said shortly. “Fifteen minutes? Really?”
Jim sighed and glanced briefly at Spock whose cheeks were a beguiling light green. “Dad, come on.”
“You have very effective mental shields,” Sarek pointed out. “I have brushed up against them enough in the past to know this is true.”
“Against telepathic contact, yes, and I’ve rarely had a difficult time with psi-null individuals on an empathic front since I bonded. Spock is a great buffer and our bond provides very adequate shielding on a normal basis. But this isn’t normal. I’m in close proximity to a telepathic being who is… frankly on the edge of insanity. I can’t even see why he waited this long to return to Vulcan. It must have been coming… well since the bombing.”
Three weeks had passed since the bombing of the Vulcan Embassy. The eventual death toll had been horrific. They’d lost 30-six people in the bombing, most of them in the diplomatic corps for the embassy itself. Over a hundred others had been injured but most of them had already returned to Vulcan or their jobs. Stonn had broken several bones when he had been thrown from the building buthad recovered within a few days. He’d immediately been recalled to Vulcan by his father.
“Pon Farr can be transferred to other telepathic species through psionic contact,” Spock began. “The research is anecdotal but it must be considered. Is Jim experiencing this on that level and if so is his state going to drive me to… experience the same?”
Stopak took a few more readings. “Physically, no, he is not approaching hormone levels consistent with even the first day of the Time.”
“The Time,” Pike repeated. “Pon Farr. Someone had better educate me right now about what is going on.”
“Commodore…” Stopak began but Pike cut him off with a pointed finger.
“No,” Chris said sharply. “That is my kid laying there in that bed being psionically assaulted by an adult’s sexual heat. I want to know what in the hell is going on. Sarek?”
Sarek nodded abruptly. “You and I serve no purpose in this conversation. I believe that Spock and James will have to navigate this particular issue on their own terms. We will adjourn to my office and I will explain it to you.”
Chris huffed and glared pointedly at Jim. “I’m fairly confident you came on board this ship a virgin, Jim. I’d like you leave it that way as well. You’re just too young for this, okay?”
“Okay, Dad, seriously. I’m not really interested in…” He trailed off and waved a hand. “It’s not exactly all romance and roses in here, ya know.”
Pike snorted and let Sarek lead him from the room. He said nothing until he was in the small office in the suite of rooms that Sarek had barricaded his family in. Even on a ship, surrounded by his clan the elder Vulcan was on his guard when it came to his children and wife. Pike had to wonder how the man had functioned on his home planet with such a pathological distrust of his own people.
Sarek placed a tumbler full of brandy on the desk in front of him and Pike stared at it for a few seconds. “Is this a conversation we should’ve had before I let my son all but marry yours?”
“I could say that I assumed that James had discussed this particular issue with you but I would be speaking dishonestly. When you did not question me about it, I knew that he had not spoken even subtly about it to you. It was my own shame that prevented me from speaking to you of it. That was a mistake and I hope that it will not damage our friendship.”
Pike took a deep breath. “Well, Christ, this isn’t a great start to our conversation.”
“In the ancient history of my home planet, my people allowed their emotions to rule them. War and intense periods of violence were the result. It was not until the time of Surak that we learned through the application of logic to suppress our emotions. However we were not able, no matter how disciplined we became, to suppress our mating drive. It is a source of much shame for the people of our world.”
“And it is called Pon Farr.”
“Is it violent?” Chris demanded. “Will Spock hurt Jim?”
“If Pon Farr is allowed to run unchecked—until sanity is out of reach then it can be deadly to Vulcans. It is one reason why a bondmate is a biological necessity… without a telepathic bond with a compatible mate we will not survive the fires of Pon Farr.” Sarek focused on his desk. “I have never gravely injured Amanda during my Time. Not once have I broken a bone or torn her skin. There are bruises at times, but those are more due to her nature than my loss of control.”
Chris exhaled sharply and then laughed a little. “That makes you a lucky man, Sarek, and never let anyone tell you differently.” He relaxed in his chair and studied his brandy. “So it’s an embarrassing situation because you lose control of your emotional state? You’re ashamed of it?”
“For a Vulcan there is no greater shame than the loss of control,” Sarek murmured. “It can, in times of incompatibility, be intensely physicaly violent as well. Vulcan males have killed their mates during plak-tow if their bondmate was not compatible.” He paused. “That will not be an issue for Jim and Spock – T’Pau has declared them t’hy’la and such pairings historically are so uniquely bonded that no other will ever be as compatible.”
“Like soul mates,” Chris said and nodded. “Yes, I’m aware of what T’Pau meant when she said it during their bonding ceremony. Jim prepared me for that—made me understand how intimate and important his connection with Spock is. It’s one reason why he didn’t want Starfleet brass at their bonding ceremony. He didn’t want to be so exposed before the men who will eventually be his commanding officers.”
Sarek nodded. “Many offered me veiled complaints about their lack of an invitation to the ceremony but I have always been very good at pretending to not understand those who would seek to provoke me.”
* * * *
Jim shivered under the frigid water and cursed Leonard McCoy under his breath in Klingon. It was the least of what he owed the man for this ridiculous situation. Of course, it worked because his dick had all but crawled up in his stomach. Underneath all of that, however, was the horrid pull of sexual arousal humming under his skin and in his blood. The empathic impression was muted—they’d found a psionic shield in a lab. It wasn’t as sophisticated as the one Pike had gotten him from Betazed but it was helping. They’d tailored the field it projected to encompass both the room he was sharing with Spock and their bathroom.
He all but hopped out of the shower unit and briskly dried himself off. By the time he was dressed, he was half-hard but it didn’t feel desperate or violent like it had before.Jim carried a small towel back into the room, using it to rub his head briskly. Spock was on a meditation mat in front of the miniature fire pot. With one small glance towards Stopak and McCoy Jim joined him. He slid into Spock’s lap without a single hesitation and shuddered as he let his back rest against his bondmate’s chest.
“Besides reducing your body temperature, it did not do much to change your circumstances,” Spock murmured as he wrapped his hands firmly around Jim’s wrists. “Inhale as deep as you can and hold it.” Jim did as instructed, his eyelids fluttering close. “Now release it.”
Jim shivered as the bond seemed to swell between. The mental intimacy was so unexpected that he nearly moaned. It wasn’t like a meld—but something utterly different. Spock normally refrained from using the Betazoid components of their telepathic bond and waited until Jim reached out to him. Their ability to mentally communicate with words was unprecedented among Vulcans. Bondmates on his world communicated with mental pictures and used carefully controlled impressions to represent their thoughts.
“That’s perfect, Ashayam,” Spock murmured. “Another.”
Jim inhaled then held it for several seconds before exhaling. Spock’s fingers tightened around his wrists and his bondmate touched his mind so gently that it was like a sweet, innocent kiss. The small amount of jealousy he’d felt sinking into their bond dissipated and something else flared bright and vicious in his mind. He jerked in Spock’s embrace, lust bursting over his body.
He scrambled out of Spock’s lap, gagging on the violence of the emotion as he curled in on himself. “Fuck. Goddamn it, Bones!”
McCoy was there in seconds, prepping a hypo. “This is slow acting, Jim, it’ll take a few minutes.”
Jim shuddered on the floor and his body jerked. “This son of a bitch is doing it on purpose,” he hissed against the carpet.
“What?” Spock demanded. He reached out for him. “He’s attacking you? Jim?” He pulled his bondmate from the floor and clutched at him. “He is touching your mind? Vulcans aren’t capable of…”
“Most are not capable of advanced telepathy without touch or a very strong bond,” Stopak said calmly. “While Spock might be the most gifted telepath of his generation, he is not the only one on Vulcan. There are some who are as capable as any Betazoid of just this form of communication. I will go render this individual unconscious for the remainder of our trip.”
Jim shuddered as the sedative wound its way into his mind. He could feel it dulling his psionic receptors—like hundreds of light switches being flipped off. Psionic inhibitors were the stuff of nightmares, no empath wanted to be so shut off from the environment around them. It was like getting a limb severed. His familial bonds shuttered one by one—the tethers he’d developed with Pike and Bones faded away followed closely by the one that he shared with T’Mara. In the distance, he heard her wake screaming.
Blindly he reached out for his bond with Spock but it was muted—indistinct. He shuddered and a sob burst out of his mouth. “Spock.”
“I’m here, T’hy’la,” Spock whispered fiercely as he rocked him. “I will… I am here.”
“You,” Jim whispered against Spock’s jaw. “He wants you.” His fingers clutched at Spock’s clothes. “He’s projecting on me so he can feel you be with me.”
Spock held him tighter, and kept his mind carefully blank as his bondmate finally surrendered and fell unconscious. T’Mara entered their room at a run followed closely by their mother. “He is ill, T’Mara.”
“I can’t feel him,” T’Mara reached out hesitantly but seemed to realize her touch wasn’t appropriate.
Spock gently caught his sister’s wrist and brushed her fingers over Jim’s pulse point. Without active psionic receptors, Jim’s mind was quiet and peaceful. “He will be well.”
T’Mara knelt down on the floor beside them and petted Jim’s wrist with one slim, tiny finger. “Who hurt our Jim, Spock?”
“I do not know his name,” Spock admitted roughly. “Jim will sleep through the night now that Dr. McCoy has medicated him.”
T’Mara frowned at McCoy but nodded. “Mother, can you make the man who hurt Jim stop?”
“I believe your father will handle that matter,” Amanda said and carefully plucked T’Mara from the floor. “Spock, Jim would rest better on the bed than the floor.”
* * * *
“Jim warned Spock before he passed out that the person trying to engage him telepathically ultimately wanted access to Spock—intimate sexual access.”
Sarek’s face flushed and McCoy blinked in surprise at the unmitigated fury the Vulcan displayed. “I see.” He turned to T’Pau. “Who is the individual in isolation in the infirmary, T’Pau?”
“Devar is his name. He is of the Clan of Koltar and has been on Earth for the last year.” T’Pau paused. “He is eight years Spock’s senior and did approach me for a union between them when Spock refused to bond with T’Pring. I felt it inappropriate as Devar has already been bonded once and was due to enter his Time within a Vulcan solar year. Devar believed that he and Spock would be compatible due to the similar psionic ratings and intellectual pursuits. Devar was touted as the most mentally talented Vulcan of his age and is only second to Spock over our entire people when it comes to his telepathic potential.”
McCoy frowned. “Second to Spock. Why is a half-Vulcan ranked so high on potential?”
“Because he was engineered to be,” Sarek said shortly. “While genetic engineering is outlawed within the Federation—couples who cannot reproduce naturally due to genetic incompatibility are allowed special dispensation as long as certain guidelines are followed. Spock’s Vulcan genetics were made to be dominant over his Human and all of the chromosomes governing his psionic abilities were manipulated into a dominant state at his conception. He wasn’t altered or manipulated after that point as it would’ve been a violation of Federation law. Those laws are one reason why it took so long for us to successfully conceive Spock.”
“This Devar person attacked my son,” Pike interrupted. “I realize he’s crazy right now—it was explained to me. I don’t understand what he was attempting to accomplish.”
“In his insanity, he might have believed himself capable of breaking or even joining the bond that James and Spock share,” T’Pau admitted. “We will not know for certain. At this point, he is unlikely to accept the mate his clan has arranged for him and he will die.” She paused again. “T’Lena of the House of Koltar has stated that Devar expressed interest in challenging the bonding of Spock and James Kirk.”
“Such a challenge would only be acceptable if James or Spock declared kal-if-fee,” Sarek said quietly.
“There are other more elaborate rituals,” T’Pau began. “From before Surak that would allow him to challenge their pairing. There are those that believe Spock’s ability to achieve a t’hy’la bond is a condition unique to him and little to do with James. They wish such a bond for themselves. Devar is one of those individuals.”
“Spock would kill Devar himself before he would allow James to face him in armed combat,” Sarek said shortly. “I do not have any doubts about my son’s affections for his bondmate. It would be a bloodbath, T’Pau.”
“The fact remains that James is perfectly capable of rendering a Vulcan psi-null,” T’Pau pointed out bluntly. “He is attempting to control himself on board this ship which is why he did not lash out Devar when he had a chance. I have spoken with Jaret about James’ mental abilities—which have only advanced since his bonding with Spock. They are on par with an adult Betazoid. James and Spock feed on each other telepathically, Sarek. Their bond is like nothing I have ever seen. When the mediate together—it is impossible to tell them apart mentally.”
“I noticed,” Sarek admitted. “They were regularly accomplishing that feat before they bonded. It is one reason why I had no doubts about their ability to successfully bond with one another. They have been of a single purpose since practically their first meeting.”
T’Pau nodded. “A fully developed Betazoid is three times the mental threat of any Vulcan alive. There are those on this ship that are coming to realize that and it makes them leery of interacting with James or other Betazoids. Most simply did not consider how powerful they were mentally as a people.”
“They play games,” Sarek said. “Deflect attention from their abilities with little mental tricks all the while they plunder the minds around them assessing us for their needs. Jim has all but admitted in the past that he actively scans everyone he encounters to make sure they are not a threat to him. This behavior comes to him naturally—like the beat of his heart. Such continued mental stimulus would drive a Vulcan insane.”
“It would make logic difficult to maintain,” T’Pau allowed. “We are fortunate that the Betazoid joined the Federation and have such a strong ethical code of their own. Crime—even thought crime is quite rare on Betazed. In fact, it is more rare on Betazed than it is on Vulcan.”
“Thought crime,” McCoy repeated. “What would that entail?”
“Using one’s telepathic abilities to injure, control, or subdue the mind of another sentient being outside sanctioned government service,” Sarek explained. “Forced mind melds are the most obvious of crimes but Vulcans are touch telepaths and even with casual touches we are capable of mining the mind of a psi-null individual to a level which would horrify you, Leonard.”
“What about what this asshole in the infirmary tried to do to Jim and Spock? Where does that rate within the laws governing telepathic usage on Vulcan?”
“If he were not deep in his plak-tow it would be considered a high crime—worthy of execution in our past and psionic castration in our present.”
“Psionic castration,” Pike repeated, horror tingeing his words. “What does that entail exactly?”
“Think full frontal lobotomy,” McCoy muttered. “Only they do it with a laser scalpel to the psionic cortex in Vulcans. It’s what I wanted done to Delis Brise to be perfectly frank. It’s what I’m going to lobby for after his mental evaluation is complete. Telepaths and empaths that are diagnosed as incurable are often castrated psionically for the protection of others.”
Pike’s jaw tightened. “Is that why those assholes from Federation Security keep nosing around Jim? First that guy that tried to kidnap him at the mall then T’Pring—that’s two people he’s attacked mentally as far as they are concerned.”
“They may make inquiries all the like, James is a citizen of Betazed and Vulcan—neither of our species allow for the psionic castration of a member of our race without planetary government permission. It is in our agreements from when we joined the Federation,” T’Pau explained. “Such procedures performed without our permission would likely see the exit of every psi-talented race within the Federation. They would never risk it.”
McCoy thought he could set Earth on fire if they tried to open up James Kirk’s head. He huffed and went to the replicator. Everything was written in Vulcan. He huffed again and then proceeded to order tea in perfectly accented Vulcan. He turned and found everyone in the room staring at him. “What?”
“Your grasp of our language is…” T’Pau paused.
“Sexy?” Bones questioned then grinned when she actually flushed. “I have a specialty degree in xeno-medical studies. To that end, I made it a point to learn Vulcan and 15 other languages so that I could better interact with my patients in the event that the universal translator fails.” He took a seat beside Pike and sipped his tea. “I can also curse like a transport frigate captain in Klingon.”
“I just bet you can,” Pike said dryly and then laughed softly. “I did wonder where Jim picked that stuff up from.”
* * * *
Three hours after beaming down to the surface of Vulcan, James Kirk was fairly confident that he was on the verge of causing an intergalactic brouhaha. T’Mara was clutching desperately at his pinky and ring finger—to the horror of most of the adults present and the very logical argument taking place had to be the most heartless fucking thing he’d ever had to witness. Spock was silent and stoic beside him but Jim could feel the fury boiling inside him.
T’Mara on the other hand was a mass of fear and hurt. She knew enough Vulcan to comprehend that the people who had arrived at the house shortly after their beam down where members of her biological mother’s clan and they were actively, vehemently protesting her entrance into the House of Surak. Jim could feel her ruthlessly attempting to bury all of her emotions in the face of it—presenting the other Vulcans with a beautiful, serene face despite her inner turmoil.
Jim could suddenly take no more. He turned, picked up the child easily from her place beside him and headed towards a large hall that would lead to the wing of T’Pau’s house that their family unit had been assigned.
“James.” T’Pau’s voice was dry, controlled—betraying none of the anger he felt rolling off of her. “Where do you take the child?”
“The empathic feedback she’s receiving from her biological mother’s clan is making her ill,” Jim said shortly. He watched the insult of his statement sweep through the room and more than one Vulcan outright glared at him for a few seconds. “Additionally, I feel this display is a poor example of the principals of Surak and she is too young to be exposed to such blatant hypocrisy.” T’Mara buried her face against his neck and Jim did something for Spock that he’d never done in public before. He offered his fingers. “Come, Imzadi, I’d rather you not be exposed to such undisciplined minds either.”
Spock actually blinked in surprise but brushed his fingers over Jim’s as soon as he could. “Jim.”
“If this is an example of those who live and accept the Kol-Ut-Shan then I find myself in fear of your people’s ability to thrive in the future,” Jim said bluntly. He glanced only briefly at Amanda who was silent, ashen faced beside her husband.
He couldn’t be her. He couldn’t… be silent. It wasn’t in him to allow it and despite the permission Spock had once given him, he felt like his loss of temper, no matter how mild it was to him, had shamed Spock.
Jim also no longer wondered why Sarek’s bond with Amanda was so militant. Several members of the other clan had purposely brushed up against Jim several times in an effort to get a mental read off of him. It had taken every ounce of discipline he had not to lash out at them. Amanda was psi-null and without the bond with her husband—her mind would be an open fucking book to every Vulcan on the planet.
T’Mara was mentally exhausted from keeping silent—they had no more pulled off her day robe and shoes before she was sound asleep. Jim activated the psionic field generator sitting on a trunk at the end of the bed and followed Spock silently out of the room.
“Do not apologize,” Spock said shortly as soon as they were in the room they would share. He sat down on one of the double beds in the room and eyed the other with amusement. “I do believe that is the first time that I’ve ever seen a non-Vulcan use the teachings of Surak to insult other Vulcans. You may go down in clan history for it.”
Jim huffed and pulled off his tunic, which he tossed aside. Then he dropped back on the other bed and stared at the ceiling. “You said once that your planet was full of two-faced people.”
“That was your interpretation of my words, yes,” Spock agreed.
“They speak eloquently of peace and non-violence and acceptance of other races for their differences. Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations—that’s what we learn about Vulcan in school, ya know. We’re taught how your people over came your violent history through the teachings of Surak and that all of you embrace the differences the universe has to offer and it’s such a…” Jim launched off the bed, unaware that they were no longer alone. “It’s such a fucking betrayal to realize how untrue it is!”
T’Pau cleared her throat. “If it was your intention to insult the clan Stokar to the point where they declined to join us for dinner, you succeeded.”
Jim blushed furiously and averted his gaze. “My apologies, Elder, it was not my intention to embarrass you in your home.”
“Vulcans do not become embarrassed,” T’Pau said coolly. “You were going to leave the room without comment—I am the one that requested information about your activities.” She paused and then continued. “There are few on this planet who are prepared to deal with a non-Vulcan bondmate who speaks their mind. Be aware of that, James Kirk, that is all I ask.”
Jim inclined his head and stared at her. “Is that permission to go about my business as usual?”
“You are your own man,” T’Pau said shortly and left the doorway without another word.
“She likes you more than she likes me,” Spock said dryly. “But it is only because you are so aesthetically pleasing.”
Jim offered him a grin and then shrugged. “It would hardly be the first time I caught a Vulcan’s eye by the turn of my face.”
Spock huffed and stared pointedly at the ceiling.
* * * *
“T’Lena of the House of Koltar, meet James Tiberius Kirk of the House of Surak.”
The elderly Vulcan woman offered him the traditional greeting and solemnly wished him a long life. He returned the gesture and words without much thought and took the seat that T’Pau motioned him towards. Amanda brought him a cup of tea from the replicator and then sat down beside Spock who had been meeting with the three women for over an hour when Jim had been called. He dearly wished Sarek hadn’t taken himself off to the VSA for the morning with Stopak and McCoy. Pike was ensconced in Sarek’s office working so he was no real help either.
“I wished to speak with you concerning the actions of my grandson, Devar.”
Jim stared down at his tea for a moment as he let his mind go—glancing over the woman’s thoughts without much effort. He watched her face and was surprised to realize that she had no idea he was assessing her thoughts. Most Vulcans her age were so mentally disciplined that he should never have gotten away with such a direct scan of her without her knowing about it at the very least.
“I am aware that he was mentally unstable at the time and shouldn’t be held responsible for his actions,” Jim murmured. “I won’t request that he be criminally charged for the assault.”
“Assault is an inappropriate description of the event.”
“I don’t agree,” Jim said, his tone moderate and calm. “His lack of control was obscene. On Betazed such an assault on the mind of another—no matter their psionic status, would be considered a high mind crime. The kind of crime that requires the strongest of punishments.”
“Devar has refused the bondmate arranged for him,” T’Lena began. “I came here today to discuss your unconsummated bond with Spock.”
“Our bond is hardly any of your business—you intrude on a very personal and private part of our lives.” Jim pushed the tea back from him and stared pointedly at her. “Elder, I can’t imagine what you could hope to gain from such an intimate inquiry.”
“You are not Vulcan—as such you do not require a bondmate to survive. I am seeking the dissolution of your unconsummated bond so Spock may be free to bond with one of his own kind.”
“You expect me to agree to this?” Jim questioned and then frowned. “So you can give my sexually immature bondmate to an adult who is the throes of his plak-tow?”
Amanda’s teacup rattled on her saucer and she abruptly put it down. Every Vulcan at the table looked so uncomfortable that Jim almost felt sorry for them. “Elder T’Lena is requesting a temporary bond to save her grandson’s life.”
“I’d sooner kill Devar myself than allow him to touch my bondmate,” Jim said and pushed aside the fury that poured of T’Lena despite her serene facial expression. “I also can’t believe that Sarek would agree with this course of action.”
“The opinions of his father mean nothing to me—T’Pau is the Matriarch of the House of Surak and her will is all that matters.”
“And what do you say, Elder T’Pau?” Jim questioned.
“As I already explained to Elder T’Lena – I did not believe that either you or Spock would be willing to agree to such a plan. She insisted on speaking to you both and logically I saw no reason why she could not ask you directly.”
T’Lena stared pointedly at Jim. “Your reaction is not logical, James Kirk.”
“I’m not a Vulcan, Elder T’Lena,” Jim said plainly. “I see no reason to pretend that I am. Tell me something, would you request this from a full Vulcan or is it acceptable to you to treat Spock with such disdain and disrespect because he’s half-Human?”
“He has a duty to his people,” T’Lena began. “That my grandson finds him an acceptable bondmate is an honor considering his disadvantage.”
“Right.” Jim nodded. “Spock, you wanna break our bond so you can be violated sexually and mentally by Devar and then tossed aside when you are no longer necessary to his survival?”
“I would rather be set on fire,” Spock returned dryly. “As I had already explained to Elder T’Lena. She was under the mistaken impression that you might be more inclined to see reason and demonstrate some compassion for Devar.”
“Elder T’Lena, you are asking Spock to break a bond with his t’hy’la. Does that mean nothing to you?” Jim questioned.
“There are many who doubt the claims of the House of Surak regarding your bond,” T’Lena responded shortly. “It is illogical to assume that a hybrid Vulcan could achieve such a bond with someone like you, James Kirk. It is my understanding you had to be sedated on the ship because of your inability to control yourself.”
“I was sedated because of your grandson’s complete and utter loss of control. I was sedated because Devar stayed on Earth when he should have returned to Vulcan weeks ago. His condition wasn’t spontaneous, Elder T’Lena. He also placed himself on T’Pau’s ship on purpose, to be closer to Spock as his condition deteriorated. He acted illogically and without honor before he even became compromised by his condition.” He allowed himself a small moment of thanks for the Vulcans near universal stance on violence as he could tell he’d just made the female elder as furious as she’d ever been in her entire life. “And inferring that I’m a whore because of my genetics is a foul, bigoted, and thoroughly illogical thing to do.”
“I will go to the High Council,” T’Lena stood. “My grandson will die without a bondmate; it is only logical that one he is highly compatible with be compelled to at least attempt to bond with him to save his life.”
“There isn’t a Vulcan alive on this planet that is mentally talented enough to fight us both,” Spock murmured. “The first person to attempt to interfere with my bond would have mere seconds to lament the loss of their katra before it was ripped to shreds.” He stood and offered his hand to Jim who took it immediately and left his chair. “I have said in the past and am behooved to say again—I would break entirely with my clan and in fact, with all of Vulcan to have the bond I have with James Kirk. There is nothing the High Council can do or say to make me change my mind.” He paused, inclined his head, and lifted his hand in salute. “Live long and prosper.”
Amanda shot T’Pau a pointed glare as the two boys left. “As I said.”
“Yes, Amanda,” T’Pau said in agreement. “As you said. T’Lena, you would be wise to heed what James and Spock have said this day. Search for another to meet the needs of your grandson—Spock will not be made available and if you protest this decision with the High Council—I believe you will also have to justify yourself to the First House of Betazed, of which James Kirk is a celebrated and beloved member.”
“Theyare both illogical. The bond with Devar could be dissolved at a later date if Spock was unsatisfied in the union. Why he would chose to remain bonded with a Human when he could have a satisfying relationship with a Vulcan is an insult to our House, T’Pau.”
“Your belief that our Matriarch is so feeble minded that she does not know a t’hy’la bond when she sees it is an insult to the House of Surak,” Amanda said softly. “You will leave. Elder T’Pau tires in the afternoon and we have a busy day scheduled for tomorrow.” She stood and motioned the woman towards the front door. “She has endured enough of your insulting behavior today and frankly, so have I. I’d sooner help my son set himself on fire than expect him to endure such an insult to his life and bond.”
T’Pau lifted one sharp, elegant eyebrow at T’Lena and returned her attention to her tea as Amanda Grayson escorted the other clan leader from the ancestral home of the House of Surak. Amanda returned to the table and regained her seat silently.
T’Pau cleared her throat. “Spock’s repeated desire to die in a fire has me bewildered.”
Amanda’s mouth quivered with suppressed laughter briefly and she exhaled. “I…” She trailed off and started to laugh.
T’Pau’s lips quirked ever so slightly and she took a delicate sip of her tea. It wasn’t often that she was able to coax a laugh out of Amanda Grayson. She regretted the years that the brilliant young woman had spent on Vulcan. A part of her realized she should never have agreed with Sarek’s intentions to raise his son on Vulcan. Neither Amanda or Spock had ever been content on Vulcan. They had borne the weight of disapproval as well as could be expected but it was a shame nonetheless.
“James is like none who has ever bonded into our clan.”
Amanda sobered immediately and nodded. “I know.”
“I would not have him change,” T’Pau continued. “I realize circumstances have often forced you to remain silent, Amanda, and at times I have been… grateful… for your poise and self-control but I would not wish to see James Kirk subjugated by societal pressures.”
“I believe if we tried we would find him quite rebellious,” Amanda said tentatively. “He is an… emotional and brash young man. I never presumed to think that Spock would have such a bondmate, not when Sarek was so intent on bonding him with a Vulcan.”
“He sought to protect Spock and his actions were logical,” T’Pau began. “Bonding as children remains a common practice despite all of our advancements. He has not mentioned a bondmate for T’Mara.”
Amanda blushed and sighed. “I requested that he not attempt it. When the time is appropriate, T’Mara will search out her own bondmate. I don’t want her… exposed to the level of bigotry and hatred that T’Sar faced from her own bondmate.”
“My granddaughter did suffer,” T’Pau allowed and focused on her tea. “I did not understand the depth of her suffering until recently. I am relieved that you and Sarek have already made a decision regarding the matter of T’Mara’s bonding. I was… prepared to deny Sarek his request if it were brought up. I would prefer to never bond the children of our clan again. Spock’s bonding has proven to me that we are still capable of profound, intimate bonds. I would deny no child in my House the opportunity to find a t’hy’la.”
Amanda huffed. “I should’ve punched T’Lena in the face.”
“I believe your time on Earth has given you a false sense of physical prowess,” T’Pau began. “T’Lena could as Humans say… wipe the floor with you even at her age.”
Amanda flashed a grin. “Blacking her eye would have been exceedingly satisfying nonetheless.”
* * * *
Leonard McCoy had seen some crazy things during his career with Starfleet but… the Vulcan Science Academy was another matter altogether. He was also receiving better treatment from them than he’d ever anticipated. He’d saved Vulcan lives during the bombing—operated on them in near combat triage conditions on the scene to get them stable enough to be transported. His efforts had lead to him being… indulged to a higher degree than any previous Starfleet Medical CMO who had ever been given access to Vulcan medical data.
Stopak had been his tour guide/body guard since his arrival. Several of the scientists, both male and female, had been so curious about him that they had tried to touch him. Leonard was educated enough about Vulcan biology that he’d shied away from allowing any of them to touch him with intent. He’d also spent enough time learning to shield his mind when Jim first developed his empathy that he was pretty confident he would at least know when someone was trying to touch his mind.
“Do you have any medical data concerning Spock and James Kirk’s bond?”
McCoy paused, the question had come out of the blue but he wasn’t entirely surprised by it. “I’m bound by confidentiality oaths, Selmek. I can’t discuss James Kirk or his bond with Spock. It would be a violation of ethics.”
“Could you answer a few generalized questions?” Selmek pressed. “For instance, would you say that a Vulcan would be content in a bond with a Betazoid?”
“I believe that the Betazoid are uniquely suited to bond with Vulcans, actually. They are emotionally mature, talented telepathically, and have the empathy required to understand a Vulcan partner. This means that they wouldn’t be prone to misunderstanding their partner’s intent or underestimating their affection due to lack of physical or emotional expression. You don’t have to tell a Betazoid that you love them—they know it already.”
Selmek’s eyes widened briefly before he gained control of his facial features. “I see.”
“Additionally, there appears to be no problems whatsoever with a Betazoid and a Vulcan melding mentally. Emotional transference isn’t an issue as the Betazoid would already be quite familiar with the Vulcan’s emotional state prior to melding. Since Betazoids process their emotions, they aren’t unduly burdened by the empathic bleed off during melding,” McCoy explained.
“But Betazoids are known for being extremely emotional.”
“As a species, Betazoids are the most emotionally intelligent in the entire Federation. They process, control, and accept the burdens of not only their own emotions but the emotions of nearly every alien species they encounter.” McCoy paused and then inclined his head. “It’s my understanding that the only species they have any true difficulty with empathically are the Ferengi.”
Sarek glanced up from his PADD, one he’d been on for the last several minutes reading a message from his wife. “Leonard, if you are finished for the day… we should return. There has been an incident that might require some action on my part.”
“Sure.” McCoy stood. He figured he’d done enough to shock the Vulcans today and he was going to be there an entire week. “I’ll have a discussion with Jim and Spock about their personal research, Selmek. They might be persuaded to share some sanitized data with you.”
“They are researching their own bond?” Selmek questioned.
“Of course, two boy-geniuses are bound to inspect, research, and study just about everything,” Bones said with a small grin. “They’ve been researching their mental interactions since from practically day one of their friendship.”
* * * *
“I am concerned that this conversation took place without me,” Sarek admitted.
Amanda raised one eyebrow at him in a near direct imitation of himself and Sarek almost sighed. “Do you doubt my ability to protect our children, Sarek?”
“Of course not.”
“Do you believe that T’Pau would allow anyone to damage the bond that James and Spock share?”
“Then you wished to be here… to express your own displeasure at T’Lena?”
“I am…” Vexed. He was completely and utterly vexed. “It is my duty to protect you and our children.”
Amanda smirked at him and put down her hairbrush. “I wish you had been here as well—then I could have punched T’Lena in the face and you would’ve been on hand to defend me physically from her.”
“Punch her in the face,” Sarek repeated.
“I was wonderfully tempted to do it anyway,” Amanda admitted wistfully. “She certainly had it coming.”
“Husband.” She turned on the small stool at her vanity table and frowned at him. “Are you saying you wouldn’t have defended my physical person if she attacked me?”
“I would put an end to her entire clan to defend your physical person,” Sarek said bluntly. “I do believe, however, that you are too delicate for such violence. Perhaps you could have just kicked her in the leg instead.”
Amanda stared at him for a few seconds and then grinned. “Sarek.”
“Or maybe you could have pulled her hair—does she still wear that elaborate thing?” He made a gesture with his hands to define his memory of her hair.
“That’s a wig, Sarek,” Amanda said with a laugh. “There is no way she’s not at least half gray headed at this point and it hasn’t changed in twenty years. Her vanity is well known.” She smirked. “I could have snatched it off her head and beat her about the face with it.”
Sarek nodded sagely. “Another fine anecdote for the clan annals detailing your passionate defense of our honor.”
* * * *
Spock shifted his weight, careful not to press down too much on his bondmate. He never allowed himself to forget how different they were physiologically. The thought of physically injuring Jim even with casual contact was abhorrent.Jim was laying flat on his stomach, faced pillowed on his folded arms. Spock sprinkled more oil on Kirk’s skin and started to rub it in.
Despite the intimacy of their relationship before and after bonding, a massage was a luxury for them both. The amount of sanctioned touching Spock could indulge in without facing any real discussion on the part of their parents was extreme. The small bowl of oil he’d replicated was full of vitamins and enrichments that would help keep Jim’s skin healthy while he was on Vulcan. Jim had applied most of it himself but he had been unable to reach his back.
“Yes,” Spock agreed. “I can tell.” The thick oil clung to his fingers as he spread it over the expanse of Jim’s shoulders and then down the blades. The pleasure Jim was experiencing was ebbing and flowing against the edge of their bond. “You are aroused.”
Jim lifted his ass and wiggled it slightly against Spock’s erection. “I’m not the only one.”
Spock pressed his thumbs against the small of Jim’s back and rubbed in tiny circles until his bondmate relaxed on the bed with a little shudder. “Yes, but this hardly the time or place to indulge in such depraved activities.”
Jim laughed, loud and unashamed. “Depraved? That’s a negative word.”
“Yes, you enjoy activities that are depraved and illicit. You find such things mentally stimulating. As your bondmate, it is my duty to see to your mental stimulation to the benefit of your health.”
Jim sighed. “I’m a lucky guy—to have someone so dedicated to my mental stimulation.”
Spock snorted but swallowed the unwilling laugh. “You are a terrible influence on my control.”
Jim hitched his hips and Spock lifted away slightly. Kirk turned over with a little wiggle and sat up to wrap his arms around his mate. “Imzadi,” he murmured as he buried his face against Spock’s neck.
Spock took a deep breath as Kirk’s mind brushed with his then their bond flared completely open. His still slick fingers glanced over the meld points on Jim’s face and settled. “My mind to your mind,” he whispered fiercely against Jim’s hair.
He tugged gently and Jim dipped gracefully into his mind. After their telepathic bond had settled, it had become easier and easier for Jim to enter his mind as often as the reverse. His mindscape wasn’t as developed as Jim’s as he’d yet to master all the principles of Vulcan mental control. He was closer every day, closer after every meditation and certainly closer after every meld with Jim.
For precious moments, their minds were entirely one and then they split apart. That first second was always sharp, biting, almost agony… he knew that other Vulcans didn’t experience the loss he felt when Jim pulled free of his mind. He’d discussed it briefly with Healer Stopak and the elderly Vulcan theorized that it was his mind reacting to the missing empathic connection with his bondmate.
Jim shifted in his embrace and pressed their mouths together. The kiss was more soothing than arousing, and he knew that his bondmate had felt that hot flash of mental pain before it bled away. Jim pulled back slightly and rested his forehead against Spock’s. “I’m so fucking sorry.”
“You have nothing to apologize for, Ashayam.” Spock trailed his fingers down Jim’s back. “We knew what would happen when we bonded telepathically.”
“I should’ve found some way to preserve the empathic tether,” Jim murmured. “Now, I’m afraid to give you a new one—I don’t think I could without bonding with you completely.” He kissed the side of his mouth. “We’re not ready for that.”
“No,” Spock agreed. “You still view me as sexually immature.”
Jim blinked at the tone and sat back on his hands as Spock slipped off of him to leave the bed. “Hey.” He left the bed, hitching up his pants as he followed Spock into the bathroom. The Vulcan was washing the bowl they’d used for oil under the sonic stream that flowed into a shallow basin, meant to mimic a sink. “Spock, you know you haven’t finished maturing physically. There are physiological issues at play for you that make could make anal intercourse very uncomfortable or even dangerous. Your f’alia are underdeveloped.”
Spock huffed. “Jim. I don’t…”
“Look, it is a real concern. In your immature physical state, the f’alia could be torn or the nerves damaged in such a way that you would lose sensation permanently. I did read those files your father practically ninja’d onto my PADD. It would be a gross act of abuse to compel or really to allow an immature male to bond with another male during Pon Farr. It isn’t like the male in Pon Farr would have any ability to be careful.”
Spock stared pointedly at the bowl then carefully placed it on the counter. “I’m not fragile.”
“No, of course not.” Jim huffed. “You could break me in half if you wanted. It isn’t about that and you know it. This isn’t me treating you like a child, okay. This is my acknowledging that physically you are not ready for anal intercourse with me or anyone else. If I embarrassed you by pointing this out to T’Lena, then I apologize. I would never want to cause you discomfort like that.”
“I wasn’t embarrassed by that part of the conversation,” Spock admitted roughly. “The casual way you speak of the Time is unnerving. It is very much a taboo subject among my people. Often, when you speak of it privately… you act as if it is… a party you look forward to.”
Jim grinned and shrugged. “Only the Deltans and the Orions can really compare with the sexual demands of a Betazoid. Fortunately, though, we rarely drive our sex partners insane.”
Spock leaned against the counter. “Jim… you keep a great deal of your sexual responses and urges separated from our bond.”
Jim exhaled sharply and ran a hand through his hair. “Right, well, that’s the appropriate thing to do. My sex drive doesn’t match yours and I’ve already done enough to encourage your rapid development on the puberty front. I think about sex a lot. I think about you, sexually, a lot. It would be distracting and maybe even disturbing for you.”
“It’s not because you don’t want to share it with me?” Spock questioned.
“No, no, I’ll share everything with you, Spock.” He crowded his bondmate close to him and sighed. “For two people with stellar psionic abilities—we have some serious communication problems.”
“I do not agree. We communicate perfectly well.”
Jim eyed him and grinned. “At least you don’t throw things at my head like T’Sar did Stonn.”
“She was very illogical.”
Jim snorted. “She had every right to be upset that he cancelled their date with a one sentence communication offering no details and no reassurances that he wasn’t on death’s door.”
Spock lifted an eyebrow. “His leg was broken.”
“That’s all he said!” Jim protested. “Must miss dinner; leg is broken. He’s lucky that a PADD was all she threw at him.”
“It was very amusing,” Spock confided in a near whisper. “He was at a complete loss how to deal with her. He flailed about like a fish out of water.”
Jim grinned. “You think you’re aces at dealing with those pesky Human emotions?”
“I have certainly had more practice than Stonn has,” Spock pointed out.
“Spock! Jim!” T’Mara called from the entryway of their bedroom. “It’s time for my lesson!”
Jim let Spock go and he grabbed the t-shirt he’d discarded before his last shower to pull on. T’Mara and Spock were ensconced in a large chair by the window when he emerged sharing a PADD. That Spock had all but taken over his sister’s educational lessons while they were on Vulcan hadn’t been a shock to Jim. After all, who was more familiar with how a Vulcan/Human hybrid’s brain worked? Sarek had attempted early on to give T’Mara her lessons but she had a marked preference for Spock when it came to educational activities.
Jim watched them for a few minutes then headed for the kitchen for something cool to drink. The house was modulated to make sure that neither he nor Amanda were exposed to the harsh climate of Vulcan but it wasn’t truly comfortable. It made him uncomfortable on an intellectual level—he had to wonder how often Spock suffered on Earth and what he could do about it.
Elders Stavik and T’Pau were at the large table in the kitchen area of the house with a red clay tea service spread out between them. Jim hesitated briefly in the doorway but when he didn’t feel anything from them that indicated that he would be intruding—he quietly made his way to the replicator. He ordered ice water and a salad of mixed greens that was familiar from the replicator menu in Sarek’s house on Earth. It was indication enough that it was one of Amanda’s food items.
“Join us, James.” T’Pau pointed towards an empty chair without looking at him directly.
Jim took his food to the table and settled in without comment. He wondered if he was about to get pinned to the intellectual table by Elder Stavik but the older man didn’t even look up from the PADD he was reading.
“I would speak with you regarding your place in the House of Surak.”
Jim held back his surprise. “Elder?”
“When a Vulcan joins a House through marriage—a ceremony takes place where they accept ancillary telepathic bonds with each member of our clan. This is not something we can offer a psi-null individual but as your psionic profile is entirely Betazoid—you could accept these bonds, should you choose to.”
It was an astounding thing to be offered. “I don’t… I’m honored, of course, that you would consider this for me. I realize that I might not always be the kind of bondmate you would’ve wanted for Spock.”
“You are mistaken,” T’Pau said firmly. “You are exactly what I would have hoped for Spock if I thought it remotely possible. I wish such a bondmate for every member of my clan. Even now, I do not believe you understand how coveted the bond between t’hy’la is.”
Jim flushed but nodded. “This is what T’Mara will go through with the formal adoption.”
“Yes, and it is logical to include you should you wish to fully integrate yourself with our clan psionically.”
It would certainly please Spock, Jim thought. The utter acceptance of their bond by the entire clan would be a great personal victory for him—the Human hybrid child of Sarek. Though he knew that no member of his own clan had ever mistreated him—Spock had often felt separate from his clan.
“It wouldn’t make anyone uncomfortable?” Jim questioned. “You have several members of your clan who have achieved Kolinahr. What of them? It would be a burden to ask them to accept a telepathic bond with an empath.”
T’Pau inclined her head. “It would prove to be a greater concern for you, James. To achieve even an ancillary bond with a being with no emotional connection to even their own katra might prove to be very uncomfortable for you.”
Jim nodded. “I see. How many Kolinahr adepts are in the House of Surak?”
“Sixteen, it is a path many of us take in our later years—especially if we do not seek to form another mating bond,” Stavik said pointedly and put his PADD down. “It is a path many would have encouraged Spock to take if… Sybok had not done so.”
“Yes, once he achieved Kolinahr, Sarek was vehemently opposed to Spock ever attempting it. The final step for an adept is to… sever intimate bonds with their family members such as parental bonds. While he maintained his ancillary clan bonds—all of the other bonds were permanently purged along with the last of his emotions.” Stavik’s eyes never wavered from Jim’s face as he explained.
“That sounds painful and frankly rather horrific,” Jim admitted. He poked at his salad with a fork and then pushed it out in front of him. “Though I respect the discipline it must take to achieve such a balance.”
“It offends you,” Stavik surmised.
Jim paused. The last thing he wanted to do was outright insult the older man. “I… yes. I’m sorry to say that it does. I find it a gross abuse of the parents and siblings of the adept. To have those familial bonds tossed aside as if they mean nothing is profoundly offensive to me and it explains—the lingering pain I feel in some of the older members of the clan. Including the two of you. You’ve both experienced broken bonds—intimate familial bonds.”
T’Pau actually blinked in surprise. “You can feel that?”
“It’s not overwhelming,” Jim murmured. “But it’s there—before T’Mara there was an echo of it in Ambassador Sarek. Her parental bond with him has done much to heal the wounds left in his mind due to Sybok’s separation from his family.”
“Dr. McCoy said yesterday during our visit to the Vulcan Science Academy that he believed the Betazoid to be the most emotionally intelligent species in the Federation,” Stavik said. “There were many at the academy fascinated with him and his views concerning such things.”
“Because of my bond with Spock.”
“He has the unique position of being able to observe your side of a bond that is largely shielded from the rest of us,” Stavik said diplomatically. “Curiosity remains the driving force of nearly every species in the Federation.”
Jim frowned. “Does the privacy that Spock and I ask for concerning our bond… make you uncomfortable, Elder Stavik?”
“Not at all,” Stavik denied. “Not at all. It is coveted, James, as T’Pau explained. There are no records or studies concerning the bond between t’hy’la. Many of us simply wish to understand it and as it stands, we simply have no frame of reference.”
“I see.” Jim nodded. “The adoption ceremony is in five days. I have until then to make my decision about my own place in the clan?”
“You may join with us now or at any time in the future,” T’Pau corrected. “It is logical to offer you this opportunity now—when we will already be gathered for T’Mara.” She looked pointedly at his meal. “Eat, James. You require the energy.”
* * * *
Jaret Molia stared at Jim’s face and wished fervently that he’d agreed to go to Vulcan for T’Mara’s adoption. Sarek had invited him out of deference for his relationship with Jim. “I see.”
“You don’t approve?” Jim questioned.
“I approve without stipulation,” Jaret corrected. “I’m just rather put out that I’m not there to witness it.”
“You could be. You have enough time,” Jim pointed out. “It’s five days out—we’re waiting on the arrival of a few clan members. You could also—bring me something.”
“Like that?” Jaret questioned with a raised eyebrow.
“I want to give the House of Surak a psionic stone—an open one they can use for their clan history much like the Houses do on Betazed if I’m allowed. It is traditional of a Betazoid to offer an extravagant gift in these circumstances. I didn’t give the clan a gift when I bonded with Spock because I wasn’t sure how accepting they would be of our customs. I think I could do this now and it would be well-received.”
Jaret paused and considered this. “It would be permitted—you are a member of their clan as much as you are a member of the First House. It’s important that you honor that role in all that you do no matter where you are.” Jaret picked up a PADD and started looking for a ride to Vulcan. “There is an acceptable psionic stone here at the embassy—I received it last month. I was going to duplicate one of the larger teaching stones here when you had time to help but I can always get another. It’s five kilograms and roughly the size and shape of a football. The facets are beautiful—even its near transparent state.”
“That sounds perfect.”
“I will see you in,” Jaret paused and glanced at his PADD. “In four days provided I can catch a ride on the USS Baton Rouge.”
“I’ll talk to my dad,” Jim said. “He’ll smooth the way for you.”
“Appreciated,” Jaret nodded. “Be well, Jim.”
Jaret ended the connection and looked at Taval who was sprawled across their bed naked as the day he’d been born. “Will you come with me?”
“It will be the ideal time to tell my clan that I intend to bond with you,” Taval paused. “Provided that is what you still desire.”
Jaret returned to the bed, seeking to sooth the anxiety he felt coming from his lover despite the Vulcan’s attempts to suppress it. He slid astride Tavel’s hips and grinned when the Vulcan raised one eyebrow at him. “I love you. Of course I want to bond with you. There has been no one else—not in body or mind since we met.”
Taval urged the tunic Jaret had put on to answer the comm over his bondmate’s head and tossed it aside. “I prefer you naked.”
“I certainly have no problems with that,” Jaret said blithely. He ran one finger down the center of Taval’s chest. “Will you bond with me in the traditional ways of my people?”
“Of course,” Taval said. “There is no logic in denying myself the richness of all you have to offer.” He wrapped one hand confidently around Jaret’s rapidly hardening cock. “I have no obligations to my clan, Jaret, my father will not deny me you.”
“And if they do?”
Taval hummed under his breath as stroked Jaret’s cock. “I have lived without you in my life for as long as I am willing to tolerate.” He shifted his hips, eyes darkening as Jaret reached down to guide his erection into his still slick opening.
“I love having you in me,” Jaret murmured. “It’s so intense… perfect. Do you feel it, Imzadi?”
“Yes,” Taval whispered fiercely. “I feel everything… everything. You are still slick and hot with my cum.”
Taval growled low and with one swift movement put his lover on his back. He hitched Jaret’s legs up on his shoulders and rolled his hips as he settled in deeper. “You should not provoke me.”
“I can handle you,” Jaret boasted and shuddered as Taval started to fuck into him with deep, slow strokes. “I can handle everything you have.”
“Yes,” Taval agreed. “You certainly can.”
* * * *
Jim clenched his jaw to keep his mouth from hanging open in shock. “You don’t… why would you…” He turned his face so Spock wouldn’t see the tears welling his eyes. He sure as hell wasn’t going to cry but he didn’t want Spock to see how close he was. “I thought you would be happy that I’d been offered such a place in your clan. It didn’t cross my mind that you wouldn’t want me to have it.”
“Jim.” Spock exhaled sharply. “James, please look at me.”
“No, I need a few minutes to myself then I should contact Jaret and tell him that – that I will be declining T’Pau’s offer. He was very pleased with the idea but hopefully he won’t ask any questions.”
“Do not…” Spock made a frustrated sound. “You cannot hope to understand… the depth of the burden you would have in accepting ancillary bonds with my clan.”
“It’s fine,” Jim snapped. “You don’t want me to do it—I won’t. I don’t need a bullshit explanation for it.” He tried to walk away but Spock grabbed his arm. The Vulcan’s grip was firm but not painful. “Let me go.”
“It is not bullshit.”
Jim laughed bitterly and jerked his arm free. “Fuck you, Spock! I carry the telepathic legacies of two very talented empaths. Do you honestly think I can’t handle less than three hundred telepathic links that won’t carry a tenth of the connection I had with you before we bonded?” He stalked away from his bondmate, aware that he was bleeding empathically like he’d been mortally wounded. “Don’t try to make some logical argument for your reaction because you don’t have one!”
Spock followed. “Jim. Please… I.” He was at a loss for words. He sat down on a bench just off the garden bath and took a labored breath. His hands were trembling. He curled his fingers inward and let his fists rest on his thighs just as his father came around the corner of the house. Walking rather swiftly, Spock noted.
“Spock.” Sarek approached his son at a more subdued pace and after staring pointedly between the two of them sat down on the bench beside him. “Tell me what is happening here. You are both… very upset.”
“T’Pau offered him…” Spock trailed off. “She offered him the telepathic bonds of the entire clan.” He didn’t offer his father the very logical explanation for his concern because it was as much bullshit as Jim said it was. He had no doubts concerning his mate’s ability to handle the telepathic weight of his clan.
“And you don’t want him to accept,” Sarek surmised. “Can you offer me an explanation?”
Spock flinched when Jim snorted in derision. Jim was furious and hurt—not a condition he was often responsible for. In fact, he couldn’t remember Jim ever being so angry with him. The last thing he’d ever want to do was hurt him. He reached out for him mentally. “T’hy’la.”
“Don’t,” Jim snapped.
Spock flinched as Jim rebuffed him completely—slamming down a strong shield between their minds. The bond itself muted but it wasn’t like when Jim had been given psionic inhibitors. “I… cannot offer a logical explanation, Father.”
“Then perhaps you can just tell me how you feel about it,” Sarek said and raised an eyebrow when Spock looked at him. “Do you want your mother?”
“No, it would only upset her.” Spock turned his face away from them both. “I do not… trust all of the members of the clan with my bondmate.”
“You mean Sybok,” Sarek deduced. “You don’t want your brother telepathically linked to James even in such a small way.”
“He hated me,” Spock snapped. “He hated me so much he tried to kill me!” He launched himself off the bench. “I don’t even want him in the same house with Jim. What if he hurts him? What if he tries to hurt him like he used to hurt me?”
“What do you mean?” Sarek demanded, his voice breaking slightly. “What are you talking about?”
Spock took a deep breath. “Did you believe that day was the first time that Sybok had goaded me into doing something that would see me injured or dead? He killed I-Chaya, Father. When she followed me, to protect me… he killed her to prevent her from defending me.”
“You lied to me.” Sarek stared at his son. “You lied to me all this time?”
“He was…” Spock took a deep breath. “He was my brother and you had already sent him away from home. I did not want worse for him. Mother was so upset over what happened to begin with. It is not as if you can keep secrets from her.”
“You don’t have an ancillary bond with your brother, do you?” Jim questioned. “He broke it when he severed his familial bonds.”
“I destroyed the bonds he had with me long before he tried to kill me,” Spock said quietly. “I will not have that monster touch my bondmate. If that means Jim cannot have a place within the clan’s telepathic legacy so be it. It is too much to ask of me.”
“You destroyed them,” Sarek repeated. “When?”
“Several weeks before that final day,” Spock began with a shaky inhale of air. “I had not mediated for weeks because he would interfere—prod my mind when I was trying to calm myself. He would interrupt me often on purpose—in his attempts elicit an emotional response from me. He was far worse than even the children I endured at school. One day, I could not stand it another moment and I attacked the bonds he had with me. I ripped them to shreds. He was so shocked that he screamed at me.” He glanced towards his father and found him pale. “I had finally elicited an emotional response from him.”
“So he tried to kill you,” Jim murmured. “In revenge for what you’d done? For being stronger than him mentally?”
“For being more Vulcan than he thought possible,” Spock said dully. “Shortly before he achieved Kolinahr, he contacted me to brag about it—to let me know that he was achieving something that I never had any hope of. He said I was too Human, too mentally deficient to ever master the principals of Kolinahr and that he was thankful that he would be purging the shame of having me as his brother.” Spock didn’t say anything as Jim came to his side and urged him back to the bench where his father still sat. With a soft sigh he continued, “I did not think he would accept the invitation to T’Mara’s adoption ceremony but he did. I think it is a mistake to allow him to connect with her. I have been searching for a way to speak of this since I saw his name on the list last week.”
“He did achieve Kolinahr,” Jim murmured. “He doesn’t hate you now. It would be illogical for him to behave inappropriately with T’Mara or myself.”
“It is not as if Sybok is not talented enough to hide his emotional responses—even from an adept,” Spock said quietly. “I am unsure that he actually achieved Kolinahr. We only have his word that he did. His mind was always so riotous and undisciplined. I do not believe he had it in him to purge his resentment of me completely.”
“You’re saying he lied about achieving Kolinahr?” Jim questioned in disbelief.
“I am saying he is capable of it. He lied often when we were younger and was not even remotely uncomfortable in doing so. I will never trust him,” Spock whispered. “Not ever and I cannot allow him to touch Jim’s mind, Father. I am sorry. I cannot bear the idea of feeling his corruption in Jim’s mind day in and day out for the rest of our lives.”
Spock stood abruptly and stalked from the garden—leaving Jim and Sarek staring at each other. Jim figured he was displaying enough horror for them both but older Vulcan looked like he’d aged a hundred years in a period of minutes.
“This is the first time he’s ever mentioned anything like this to me,” Jim murmured. “I’ve never even gotten a hint of it during melds.”
“Even as a child, Spock often chose to repress or hide painful things to the point of excess,” Sarek admitted roughly. He exhaled sharply and closed his eyes in an obvious effort to settle himself. “It is my fault. I sought his acceptance by our people more than he did. I wanted him to have a secure future on his home world—a place where he would always feel welcome and secure. In doing that I taught him to repress his emotions rather than suppress them. To his detriment.”
Jim shoved his hands into his pockets and stared out into the growing darkness. Spock hadn’t let him out of the house until it was almost dusk. “Spock is resilient.”
“Yes,” Sarek agreed. “I will speak with T’Pau. Sybok will not be permitted to create a ancillary link with T’Mara. I won’t have him hurt another child in my care.”
* * * *
Sarek tucked his hands behind his back as he entered the foyer leading to his son’s office at the Vulcan Science Academy. Sybok hadn’t made himself available to McCoy when the Human doctor had been touring the facility. He hadn’t questioned his oldest son’s motives at the time but now he had no choice but to wonder what was going on in the younger man’s mind. Sybok had returned from Gol and immediately accepted a teaching position at the VSA. Sarek hadn’t been at all surprised—both of his sons were brilliant academics after all.
He pressed the chime and waited for the verbal acknowledgment which came swiftly. Sarek pressed the door release and took one measured step into Sybok’s office. His son stood and offered him the traditional greeting without a flicker of emotion in his eyes or face.
“Live long and prosper,” Sarek murmured and slowly lowered his hand. “I would speak with you about the coming adoption ceremony.”
“It is a noble action,” Sybok said as he regained his seat. “I have been told that she is quite exceptional mentally despite her disadvantage.”
Fury rushed in Sarek’s blood but he pushed it back, pushed it deep and took a seat in the chair in front of Sybok’s desk. “She is a brilliant child and psionically more gifted than eighty percent of full blooded Vulcan’s her age.”
“Yes, as she was genetically designed to be,” Sybok nodded in agreement. “There is research being done here that shows every indication that engineering hybrid children to be more psionically powerful than full Vulcans is detrimental to their emotional well being. They do not have the discipline to handle such a burden.”
“I have read it,” Sarek said coolly. “I disagreed twenty years ago and I disagree now. Some researchers in the field believe that hybrids should only have very limited psionic abilities.”
“And some believe they should not be allowed at all,” Sybok continued without hesitation. “It is said that a hybrid-Vulcan is a taint on our people.”
“It is fortunate that only the most logical of minds are allowed to work on the genetics project that produces hybrid children,” Sarek returned and for the first time since he entered the room, something flickered in Sybok’s eyes. Sarek’s stomach clenched in fury and shame. Had his son deceived the adepts at Gol? Had he lied about achieving Kolinahr? “I came here to tell you that you are not welcome to create an ancillary bond with T’Mara.” Sarek stood. “I have informed T’Pau of my decision.”
Emotion flickered in Sybok’s eyes again and Sarek exhaled sharply. “As you wish, Father.”
“Additionally, I have come to the decision that it is time to sever the ancillary bond you have with my mind.” He paused. “Spock informed me that he has already done so—he has asserted that you’ve not shared any sort of bond since before you left home.”
“I was cast out of your home,” Sybok corrected. “Do not speak of it as if I left of my own free will.”
“You tried to kill my child,” Sarek said bluntly. “Had I allowed you to remain in the home—you would have eventually succeeded then I would have lost both of my children.”
“And you chose the half-breed,” Sybok murmured, his tone cool and measured. “It was illogical. I am twice the son Spock will ever be capable of being. He even mated with a Human—another taint on the House of Surak.”
Sarek tucked his hands behind his back. “I have heard you were offered a research position at theValtair IV science station.”
“It is an honor,” Sarek allowed.
“I would be the only Vulcan on board the station,” Sybok said.
“It would be best; you cannot hope to maintain your façade indefinitely.”
“Façade?” Sybok questioned silkily. “What do you speak of, Father?”
“Do not presume to think that you have deceived me as you did those at Gol,” Sarek said. “T’Pau will contact you regarding her wishes on the matter if it is necessary.”
Sybok’s mouth twisted briefly in a silent snarl. “As you will, Father.”
Sarek pushed down his shock at the display. T’Pau would have to be informed of Spock’s concerns. He would ask her to draw her own conclusions regarding Sybok’s mental achievements without his own input. “Live long and prosper.” He accepted the same words from his oldest child and left without another word.
Amanda Grayson had taught Sarek romantic love. His marriage to Sybok’s mother had been arranged and consummated during his first Pon Farr. He’d remained bonded with T’Shae as a matter of honor but they’d shared no affection beyond that of friendship. Sarek didn’t think about his first wife often and certainly less in the years since he’d bonded with Amanda. He’d put away T’Shae’s things when he’d brought Amanda home to Vulcan—only to come home one afternoon to find Amanda putting everything back where Sybok instructed. She’d told him plainly that he hadn’t the permission to pack away his deceased bondmate as if she no longer existed because Sybok deserved to know her—to see her things.
It had been one of many lessons Amanda had taught him about dealing with his own emotions. He would have much preferred to bury T’Shae’s pictures and vids much the same way he had her body and their bond. His friend and long time companion had died. In time, he’d found forgiveness for what he’d learned his mind was viewing as a betrayal. Amanda had helped him heal. It was unfortunate she hadn’t been able to do the same for Sybok. The boy had resented her from the start and that resentment had only been compounded when Spock was born.
The air car and driver was waiting just where he’d left them. He slid back into the car and retrieved a PADD he’d left on the seat.
“T’Pau’s home, Ambassador?”
“No, Sojur, take me to my personal residence. I have a few things I wish to collect for my son.”
* * * *
Spock was playing a stringed instrument and T’Mara was dancing around the garden as gracefully as an Orion. Jim watched from the cooler confines of the house, amused by how intense they both were.
“Spock did those dances when he was younger.”
Jim grinned and glanced briefly at Amanda Grayson. “Please tell me you have video of it.”
“Of course, I do.” Amanda smiled back. “I practically recorded every minute of his life until he informed me at the tender age of six he found my hobby of recording him taxing and illogical.” She looked down at her hands and then turned toward Jim. “I need you to know… that I don’t expect you to follow my example.”
Jim took a deep breath. “I… I’d never want to hurt or embarrass Spock or the Ambassador but I spent the formative years of my life being habitually abused—mentally, physically, even emotionally. I won’t ignore it, accept it or tolerate it without complaint. It’s just not something I can do and maintain any sort of healthy self-esteem.”
“I understand,” Amanda said with a nod. “Thank you, for what you said to her clan. They were unnecessarily cruel. I’d hoped they would just ignore her presence on Vulcan altogether.”
“I’m surprised they didn’t try to take her,” Jim admitted.
“Her mother’s clan would prefer that she not even exist,” Amanda murmured and swallowed hard. “They aren’t a physical danger to her but if it were up to them she would never be welcome on Vulcan. The level of xenophobia that is evident on this planet would shock most in the Federation.”
“Another reason many Vulcans don’t travel from their home world,” Jim surmised. “It just wouldn’t do for people in the Federation to realize one of their founding planets has citizens that think most if not all the other races in the Federation are inferior.”
“No one is perfect,” Amanda allowed.
“No, there are xenophobes on Betazed. We hide them, too.” Jim grinned when she snorted. “There are just some people who aren’t fit for polite company. God knows that Earth is overwhelmed with… asshats.”
Amanda laughed and then covered her mouth with delicate fingers. “Jim, your language.”
“Part of my charm?” Jim questioned and laughed when she just shook her head and walked towards the replicator.
He had settled on a chair with a glass of lemon water when Sarek entered the room. There was a low buzz of fury coming off Spock’s father so Jim stayed where he was as Sarek ordered himself tea and made himself a place in a chair a few feet away. The elder Vulcan’s face was as serene as ever. After a few minutes, the anger faded and was released. Jim found that process fascinating enough empathically that he felt no shame for the blatant way he sought out the emotions of the Vulcans around him.
“Sybok will not be participating in T’Mara’s adoption ceremony,” Sarek said shortly without looking up from the PADD he was reading. “James, will you accept the bonds? T’Pau is preparing an announcement on the time for the clan to gather. She would like to include your acceptance if that is your intention.”
“Will it discourage anyone from attending the ceremony?” Jim asked. “I don’t want T’Mara to be denied a connection with a member of her clan because of my intrusion.”
Sarek lifted his gaze. “Anyone that would not accept an ancillary bond with you is not welcome to create such a bond with my daughter. We are a family, James.” He paused before continuing. “Upon Spock’s birth—the members of the House of Surak gathered to accept him. Everyone was… eager to touch his mind.”
“He was the first hybrid to survive,” Jim said. “It makes sense that… they would be fascinated by his mind.”
“To say that certain members of our clan were unduly excited would be an understatement,” Sarek admitted. “They will be similarly excited to gain such a bond with an empath. You’ll be the first Betazoid welcomed into a clan on Vulcan in recorded history.”
Jim frowned. “Is that why the people from the Stokar clan kept brushing up against me when we were introduced?”
Sarek flushed and shared a look with his wife. “James, you should have said something.”
“It’s why Spock separated T’Mara and I from the group when the discussion began,” Jim admitted. “I thought that’s why… well I figured that the behavior was one reason why you put so much energy into shielding your wife’s mind.”
“It is true that Amanda has no natural defenses against telepathic contact,” Sarek murmured. “Our bond does allow shallow mental and empathic contact with those that I trust. It is the reason that you had no problems finding my wife the day of the bombing.”
“I know,” Jim admitted. “At first I didn’t get much feedback from Lady Amanda—when Spock and I were first dating but after I was attacked at the Betazed embassy—things were different.” Sarek only nodded. “They didn’t receive much feedback from me. It was just the same kind of prodding I endure at the Betazed Embassy except they were touching me.”
“You do not have to tolerate such behavior,” Sarek said pointedly. “In the future, feel free to instruct offenders to cease touching you as loudly as required.”
“Yes, sir.” Jim cleared his throat. “I’ll accept the bonds. Spock’s only concern appeared to be Sybok.”
* * * *
“I understand you and Spock had a misunderstanding yesterday,” Pike prodded as he joined Jim at the breakfast table. The kitchen was empty except for the two of them. “Sorry I wasn’t around. The High Council has been rather demanding of my attention—especially since the Federation has made it clear they’d like some Vulcans to join Starfleet.”
“In order for Vulcans to consider ‘fleet service to be anything but a step-down from the VSA will require some fundamental changes in their education system. They are taught from an early age that the education they receive on Vulcan is superior to anything that anywhere else in the Federation has to offer.” Jim swiped his spoon through his bowl of hot cereal and shrugged when Pike raised an eyebrow at him. “I’m serious.”
“I know.” Pike sighed. “You and Spock?”
“He’s been repressing some stuff regarding his older brother and I can’t say that I blame him. Things aren’t all sunshine and roses for me when it comes to Sam.” Jim paused. “I just wish I knew if he was alive. As to Spock’s issue with Sybok, apparently his older brother was a hateful bully and he didn’t want the man creating a bond with me. Ambassador Sarek has requested that Sybok not attend the ceremony so problem solved.”
“Right.” Pike frowned. “You know that your relationship with Spock requires some verbal communication, right? You guys spend so much time in your mental landscapes that you think you know all there is to know. You gotta ask questions, Jim.”
“Yes, sir.” Jim nodded. “I get it. I mean, really, and we’re going to work on it. Talk to me about the High Council.”
“I don’t want to slam my head up against a wall on the recruitment front nor do I want to create a situation where the VSA or the High Council feels outmaneuvered or insulted.”
“Tricky,” Jim acknowledged. “Especially considering the bondmate situation. Current policies might make some young Vulcans leery of joining Starfleet. They require a bondmate to live—there are times when biological concerns would override their duties to ‘fleet. Additionally, it would be cruel to separate bondmates and there are no provisions currently concerning civilian bondmates.”
Chris lifted an eyebrow. “You’ve done some thinking about this.”
“Yeah, mostly because… well… you were gone a lot but you also didn’t take the longer missions that were made available to you because I was on Earth. If Starfleet were more family friendly—more willing to make room for family units it would mean a lot to those currently serving and those that might serve in the future. I can’t see myself as career Starfleet at this point. I’ll serve,” Jim began. “But I won’t stay in service as long as I might have under different circumstances.”
“So you don’t want to be a Captain anymore?” Pike asked, stunned.
“Oh, I want that. I want my own starship but Spock… well.” He shrugged. “We have a duty to each other and to our families. When I accepted Jaret’s telepathic legacy it was understood that I would pass that legacy to a child of my own. Spock and I will have children in the future. I won’t leave him on Earth or Vulcan or Betazoid to raise them alone.”
“And joining Starfleet isn’t within his goals?” Pike asked idly.
“Maybe. He certainly hasn’t dismissed it out of hand but even then we’d both resign our commissions when we’re ready to start a family.” Jim sighed. “There are rules about bondmates being separated—in the Starfleet charter—if both are in the service. That being said, I can see situations where one or both of us would suffer career wise because of it. If I’m offered a position on a ship that has little to no opportunities for Spock in whatever field he might go into—I won’t want it and vice versa. One or both us would suffer career wise because of it. I can see how other similarly bonded couples might also be leery of joining because of it.”
“Okay.” Pike activated his PADD and made a few notes. “So, you’re saying that Starfleet isn’t friendly to the creation and maintenance of the family unit. In continuing as we have, we not only risk not recruiting talented minds like those on Vulcan but we’re lowering our ability to retain good officers.”
“Yes.” Jim went to the replicator and ordered himself more milk and a new pot of coffee for his dad. “This isn’t new. They discussed this when Starfleet was first formed but dismissed the concerns of a lot of people and kept with the Earth centric military model.” People started to file into the kitchen as he returned to the table and casually refilled Pike’s cup before snagging another for McCoy. “Take Bones for example—there are no provisions whatsoever for him to have any kind of visitation with his daughter while he’s on a ship. There are a lot of mothers and fathers on starships in the same boat. If they want frequent access to their own children—they leave Starfleet or have to fight tooth and nail to get stationed on the planet where their kids are.”
Bones lifted an eyebrow but nodded his agreement. “I had to raise hell to get a full month’s of leave to visit Joanna when she was born. No Captain wants his officers off his ship for the length of time it takes to travel back and forth to Earth plus have even a small amount of time planet side.”
“Kids have no place on a starship,” Pike said bluntly. “It’s dangerous.”
Jim shrugged. “Then Starfleet will continue to hemorrhage good, experienced officers and miss out on the opportunity to recruit really brilliant people to serve.”
“There is no in between?” Pike asked with an amused smile.
“Sure. We can redesign the entire ‘fleet,” Jim responded blithely. “Repurpose ships for different missions – research, defense, medical, and exploration. Arm them all to the teeth—the Constitution class is really the only one that is already built for families but the evacuation options are a logistics nightmare. The only reason I’m sitting here today is because my father sacrificed himself so that his crew could live. There needs to be a better option.”
“Like?” Spock questioned as he picked up his breakfast at the replicator. “Evacuation craft have been a mainstay for military and civilian ships since the beginning of space travel.”
“I’m not saying that we dispose of evacuation pods or the shuttle craft. I’m saying that both of those options should come last.”
“Go on then, Genius,” Pike said with a little smile. “Tell me how.”
Jim flushed under the combined attention of everyone in the room and ran his finger along the smooth grain of the wood table. “I think about the Kelvin—basically defenseless and disabled. I know that in the current redesign that they are building in redundancies for key systems by why not—why not do more than that? What if part of the Kelvin could have broken away? With its own engines, its own weapons—to fight while the rest of the ship escaped?”
Pike’s mouth dropped open. “Jim.”
“When we were in Iowa looking at the Enterprise…” Jim trailed off. “It just crossed my mind that it would be easy to separate the saucer section of the ship from the rest—if each section had its own engines it would be possible to evac the entire crew safely and far more quickly than in shuttle craft or individual pods. Emergency protocols—immediate warp once the saucer section is separated that kind of thing. But more than that—the part left behind—could be battle ready on a level that far exceeds what the current fleet is capable of. It would be more maneuverable, require less power to move… and if it were armed for bear… it would give the crew time to get away. If the smaller piece—had a lot of automated functions, it could be run with minimal command crew. The difference between six lives and a thousand. The Constitution and Galaxy class ships currently in service could be retrofitted with this design in mind. The entire fleet could be changed and made new within ten years.”
“And if they did this,” Amanda said. “It would mean that Starfleet officers could bring their families on board the bigger ships. Thus creating a situation where they aren’t required to leave the service in order to have a family.”
“It would also allow a captain to evac anyone who are not battle essential personnel to the saucer section and get them the hell out of the way,” McCoy offered. “That alone would cut down on injuries and incidents that cause permanent disability among auxiliary crew. Over two hundred service members were disabled out of Starfleet in the last five years because of ship board injury during combat situations.”
Jim nodded. “I guess what I’m saying is that if Starfleet wants people to invest in the service—that they need to start investing in them first. There was a huge influx of cadets after the Kelvin Massacre—patriotism is a powerful motivator but that faded and there was nothing to replace it. No rededication to exploration or science—just a token redesign to internal ship systems that is in no way dramatic enough to make anyone feel safer on board a Starfleet vessel. Charles Tucker submitted a proposal for a ship that was designed to break up for battle when he was serving on the original Enterprise—before there was even a Starfleet or a Federation to speak of. Had he not died, I have to believe he would’ve been instrumental in the design of the fleet we have today. Maybe having families on ships wouldn’t seem all that radical now.”
Pike stared at him. “This is part of your pre-doctorate research, right? The essay you didn’t let me read that you submitted to Stanford… it was about this ship redesign, right? That’s why they jumped all over you and offered you everything but a house to join their engineering program next year?”
Jim shrugged. “Stanford and Berkley are our options really at this point if we expect to stay on Earth for our undergraduate work. We can’t go further North—that would be ridiculously uncomfortable for Spock ninety percent of the year and both universities have cross-educational opportunities with Starfleet so I could flirt with the command track without enlisting. I could finish out half my pre-reqs before I even get into the academy—go in as a Senior cadet with some rank. I could come out of the academy in less than three years as a Lt. Commander if I handle myself academically and practically as I think I can.”
Pike nodded. “Okay, I get your point.”
Stavik cleared his throat. “Spock, you have decided not to attend the VSA?”
Jim’s eyes widened and he looked at Spock who had dropped his gaze to focus on the oatmeal in front of him. He sent his apologies through their mental link and Spock merely lifted an eyebrow at him.
“Elder,” Spock began and then paused. “While Jim and I both intend to take the VSA exam—it is more for our own gratification and to determine if we have weaknesses that should be addressed academically—I do not believe I would be offered a place at the VSA. Even if I scored perfectly and was offered a place at the academy—most would believe I gained my place there through favoritism or deference to the House of Surak rather than my own merit. As I would be required to spend several years on Vulcan—both Jim and my mother would end up here for long periods of time. I find both of those circumstances intolerable.”
“You are one of the most talented minds of your generation,” T’Pau said shortly. “Of course you will be invited into the academy.”
Spock inclined his head but did not offer verbal disagreement. Instead, he turned his attention to his meal and projected forgiveness toward his bondmate. After nearly a minute, Jim calmed down and returned to his meal as well.
* * * *
Jaret’s arrival altered everything about the household. Jim had never realized how relaxed Spock’s family was around him mentally until another powerful empath was thrown into the mix. Even T’Pau, mental powerhouse that she was, felt remarkably different with Jaret in play. She was both mentally and emotionally far less accessible. T’Mara however, was thrilled to have the Betazoid teacher in residence as her lessons with him were among her favorite.
Jim settled down in front of Jaret and tried to ignore everyone else in the large meditation room. He often meditated with other Betazoids at the Embassy but he’d refrained from joining anyone Vulcan but Spock in meditation regularly on Earth or during their now weeklong visit to Vulcan. Jaret opened the red lacquered box that held the psionic stone he used to teach with and waved a hand gracefully over it.
“I believe you will be required to hold it today to gain the focus you need.”
Jim flushed but nodded. He knew his emotional state was erratic. He’d yet to fully recover from the events that had taken place on T’Pau’s ship. Jaret had been livid when he had been informed of the breach by McCoy and Pike. He’d thought they were going to have restrain the Betazoid at first—the sanctity of Jim’s mind was a point of immense concern for Jaret and to have his adopted child violated in such away made the man as homicidal as he’d ever been. Jim thought that perhaps even Pike didn’t understand how invasive and horrifying the attack had been. He’d played it off—tried to laugh off their concern when it had happened because that’s how he dealt with trauma.
The psionic stone was warm, vibrant, and emotionally positive in a way that he could not compare to anything else. Teaching stones were overwhelmingly positive by design—as the Betazoid did not believe in negative reinforcement in the instruction of their children across disciplines. Physical punishment was a criminal act on Betazed. When Pike had retained custody of Jim, he’d received childcare guidelines from the government outlining what they would find acceptable and what they would not. Physical punishment was so taboo – that Pike had received a lecture in childcare in person Alexa Deloia that had lasted well into the night and had involved, Jim was told, several bottles of expensive wine on his credit account.
He felt Jaret touch the stone mentally and Jim allowed himself to be guided to the lesson that his teacher had called forth in the stone.His eyes opened briefly in surprise but he settled quickly. After mastering the Mendissia Principles which mostly dealt with the creation of mental vaults and thought organization, Jim had wrongly assumed he was finished with his teachings. Jaret hadn’t allowed him more than a week of relief before he’d unveiled what he wanted Jim to accomplish next. Psychokinesis. It was rare on Betazed and the teaching of it was shrouded in so much mystery that Jim had never imagined he would be given such an opportunity.
Jim allowed his mental vault to swing open to give the lesson room to bloom in his mind’s eye. He suppressed his emotional state as ruthlessly as any Vulcan as he worked through the technical aspects of his third lesson on psychokinesis. The first two lessons had been mostly historical data and very little practical demonstration. Once he absorbed all of the academic data Jaret wanted him to absorb, he closed his vault and allowed his body to relax.
“Good.” Jaret took the stone from his hands carefully and returned it to the environmentally controlled box. He latched it securely before opening a small drawer at the bottom of the box and pulling out a velvet pouch. He poured six marble sized psionic stones into his palm and offered them to Jim.
Jim took them and glanced at Spock as settled onto a meditation mat just a foot away from them. “Hey.”
Spock inclined his head. “What are those?”
“They’re micro-psionic stones,” Jaret explained. “They serve no real purpose beyond decoration and small amounts of mental stimulus. They are often put into jewelry on our home world.” He picked up one from Jim hand and offered it Spock. “Young couples sometimes exchange them after brushing the inner cores of the stones with… love, I suppose is the best term. So they carry the love of their lover with them where ever they go. These stones are closed, however, and can only be interacted with in the way that I designed them.”
Spock nodded and examined the red sphere in his hand carefully before returning it to Jim. “I see.”
Jim scrunched his nose and concentrated on the stones but they barely twitched in his hand. “It seems so simple when I read about it.”
Jaret laughed and offered his hand. He grinned when Jim dropped the stones into his palm with a little huff. He opened his hand fully and the stones started to shift until they were in a perfect circle—then they rose gently in the air above his palm and rotated in a lazy circle before expanding to revolve around his hand. “Like this.”
“You are teaching Jim telekinesis?” Spock asked, obviously shocked.
Jaret paused and seemed to consider his words. “No, I’m teaching him psychokinesis.”
Jim knew the difference wasn’t lost on Spock as the color slowly drained out of his bondmate’s face and Vulcans surrounding them, some of them in semi-meditative states turned to stare. “I probably won’t be capable of it. Only one in ten Betazoids are capable of any form of telekinesis much less psychokinesis.”
“What’s the difference?” T’Mara asked tucking in beside Spock.
“Telekinesis is the manipulation of physical objects,” Jaret explained as he continued to move the stones around his hand. “Like what I’m doing right now.” He glanced at towards the doors that lead out into a small garden just off the meditation room. “T’Mara would you retrieve a small pebble for me?”
T’Mara jumped up and darted to the doors more quickly than any ordinary Vulcan child would dare demonstrate in front of so many adults. Even though they were locked down he could feel a small bleed of disapproval from some of the more elderly in the room. She slipped through the doors and returned quickly with three different size pebbles—all relatively small. “I didn’t know which size.”
Jaret held out his hand and accepted all three of the small rocks. The psionic stones piled into his hand and he offered them to Jim who took them with a little knot forming in his gut. He didn’t know if Jaret was supposed to be revealing so much about their mental disciplines to Spock or the rest of his kin.
The rocks swept up into a tight circle and then began to spin wildly as Jaret focused his attention on T’Mara. “Psychokinesis is a term that can be generally applied to a wide range of mental force events, the least of which is telekinesis which I understand that some Vulcans are capable of to some degree or another.” He paused when she nodded her understanding. “Psychokinesis can best be defined as the ability to use mental force to move or change physical objects.” The pebbles disintegrated into dust but the particles continued to move, creating a small dust tornado like phenomenon in the palm of Jaret’s hand.
T’Mara stared transfixed. “Could you do that with a larger rock?”
“The only limits placed on a disciplined mind are those that the individual places on themselves,” Jaret said. The dust storm grew tighter and tighter until it solidified into a single rock which dropped with a thunk into Jaret’s hand. He offered the rock to T’Mara and she immediately snatched it. “Perhaps you’d like to study that with your tricorder and report back to me on the changes I made.”
“I’ll need a control specimen,” she said decisively and marched off back to the garden to find more pebbles.
Jaret focused on Jim was staring at him in ill-disguised shock. “What?”
“You lectured me for three hours about not revealing these lessons. I had to lock them in your legacy vault to keep them from Spock during melds.” He glared pointedly at his teacher.
“Oh.” Jaret shrugged. “That was before you bonded, Jim. Spock and in turn his entire clan are all, in the eyes of Betazed, members of the First House. They are privy to all of our lore, family history, and most importantly our psionic legacy as a family. I’ve been given leeway to teach T’Mara and Spock everything I teach you. Additionally, by the time you two marry on Betazed—we will have finished the construction of the home we will provide for you and Spock. That home and my own will be open to members of the House of Surak in perpetuity. My mother, the Matriarch of our House, has been in discussion with Elder T’Pau concerning this matter since shortly after your bonding ceremony.”
“Oh.” Jim exchanged a look with Spock and found his bondmate only curious. He’d never had to worry about Spock being unduly upset or irritated by the private lessons he still undertook with Jaret. Spock above most others in his life understood how important the mental discipline he learned from Jaret was. “Spock?”
“I’m torn between asking for a lesson from the stone and joining T’Mara in her analysis,” Spock admitted.
Jaret grinned and retrieved the psionic stone. “I have a lesson in mind for you actually. The rock will not change again unless some other force acts on it and I’m sure she will share with you later. She’s very generous for a child her age.”
“Very well,” Spock agreed and waited patiently while Jaret manipulated the stone.
Elder Stavik put his meditation mat down opposite Spock’s and stared pointedly. “What will you be teaching Spock with the stone, Jaret?”
Jim glanced at his teacher and found him glassy eyed, the stone glowing vibrantly in his hand. “Forgive him, Elder Stavik, he’s not in a position to answer you verbally, as yet. This particular psionic stone is extremely dense and it requires much of his concentration to isolate and prepare lessons. The stone was set previously for me.”
The stone dimmed slightly and Jaret cleared his throat. “Yes, do forgive me, I would’ve had to start over in my search if I’d broken away to speak with you.” He rolled to his knees and moved to kneel beside Spock as he placed the stone in the younger Vulcan’s hands. “I’ve prepared your next lesson on the Mendissia Principles—this is a very dense and data heavy segment. Are you at a point right now where you can drop into a semi-meditative state?”
“My mind is calm,” Spock murmured. His eyes fluttered shut and Jaret waited until the tension eased out of his shoulders before he moved away and returned to his own mat. The light in the stone ebbed and moved like the tide—an indication that Jaret was prodding it—then it steadied and started to glow consistently light blue, the red facets deep inside the stone were nearly dormant.
“The Mendissia Principles consists of what exactly?” Stavik questioned.
“It is the foundation for all mental discipline on Betazed, Jim mastered all twenty-two levels last year,” Jaret explained. “It involves mind organization, psi-vault creation, mental projection, empathic recognition, lucid dreaming, meditative states, defining extrasensory perception, telekinesis, psychometry, telepathy, meditation, and precognition.” He paused and considered the elder Vulcan’s reaction. “And the final stages of mastering the Principles requires an in-depth understanding of the three psionic hyperplanes—mental, astral, and etheric.”
Stavik nodded. “Most of which is required for a foundation for the teachings of psychokinesis.”
“Yes, Elder.” Jaret nodded gently and returned his attention to Jim who was patiently waiting. He grinned. “When we first started you could barely sit still for five minutes. It’s gratifying to see how far you’ve come.”
“Spock will not be able to master all of the principles,” Stavik began and raised an eyebrow when Jim glared at him. “Vulcans do not dream.”
“Vulcans may not dream but Spock does,” Jaret said bluntly and prodded Jim mentally to return to his work. “He doesn’t remember them but I’ve found remnants of his dreams in both his mind and Jim’s. Granted, this did not happen before they bonded but I’m confident that I can teach Spock to remember his dreams and to eventually accomplish lucid dreaming. His mind is being shaped and changed daily due to his age and his bond with Jim. Once they are settled into their telepathic bond, I believe they will be able to have lucid dreams together. They accomplished something quite like a shared lucid dream the day…” He paused and cleared his throat. “The day that Jim was almost killed.”
“I see.” Stavik paused. “We were confident that Spock’s psionic profile was entirely Vulcan and there is little to no psionic talent in his maternal line. We thoroughly explored Amanda Grayson’s DNA before Spock was born.”
“His psionic profile is also very fluid in this point in his development—much the same as Jim’s. Jim has twice as much mental discipline now as he did a year ago—part of which has to come from Spock himself. His mental organization is tighter and Jim has had little to no emotional bleed off in the last six months.” He returned his attention to Jim. “Okay, I’m going to touch your mind—just relax and let it happen.”
Jim’s gaze narrowed but he nodded his consent. “Ready.”
Jaret’s touch was sophisticated, friendly and familiar. Jim allowed himself to relax as the older Betazoid gently prodded his paracortex directly—another skill he figured that would make all the Vulcans in the room stare at them again. He sucked in a deep breath at the intense stimulation.
The micro psi-stones stirred in his hand and he shivered as Jaret pulled away from his mind. He settled down in his court yard, a feat he’d only recently learned to accomplish outside of meditation and melds with Spock and the stones appeared in his hand there as well. His mind’s eyes sharpened and around him the physical world dimmed in response. The stones shifted again and lifted off his palm briefly before falling.
“Good,” Jaret murmured. “Again.”
He pushed at the stones and they rolled in his palm, clinking together sharply in the nearly silent room. Jim closed his eyes. Then they slowly rose from his hand and hovered suspended inch from his palm for ten seconds before they fell again.
Jim opened his eyes and found Spock staring at him wide-eyed. He grinned and blushed. “Hey.”
“Can you do it again?” Spock questioned.
Jaret inclined his head. “Once more and then we’ll move onto a new lesson – we don’t want you mentally exhausted for the ceremony tomorrow.”
Jim stared at the stones intently. A single stone rose up off his hand and hovered in front of him, rotating gently like a tiny planet. Their bond bloomed full and vibrant in his mind as Spock reached out for him mentally—intent on understanding what it felt like. Jaret must have caught on because he shifted forward slightly in anticipation.
“Good,” Jaret murmured. “That’s great, Jim. Hold it as long as you can. Spock, can you see how he’s manipulating it?”
“Yes,” Spock admitted. “I can see it both in his mental mindscape and in reality – as if he were sitting in front of a mirror.”
“The mental landscape isn’t the traditional one you’ve experienced in melds—he’s just used it as a representation of the mental hyperplane,” Jaret explained.
* * * *
The shell of the environmental box Jaret had placed Jim’s gift in was mother of pearl. The effect was startling and beautiful—though Jim knew none of the Vulcans present would say it aloud, he figured they would appreciate the aesthetics.
The Vulcan robes he’d been bullied into were cooler than he’d expected them to be but they’d been outside only a few minutes before he and Amanda had been ushered into the clan’s private temple. T’Mara had gone first which was both what he’d expected and what he’d wanted. He’d watched as the ancillary bonds were layered over her gently and had felt the small wave of relief as each one had settled on her. T’Pau had stopped the ceremony twice to wipe happy tears from the child’s face. T’Sar had caught her up in a hug and had created a strong sister-oriented bond with her when it had been her turn. Both of them had come away from the exchange laughing. Their mutual affection had washed over Jim, sweet and soft.
He knelt on the pillow in front of T’Pau and placed the box between. “The First House of Betazed is honored to gift the House of Surak with an ancestral psionic stone. We hope that it serves your clan for many hundreds of generations to come.”
T’Pau’s fingers actually trembled as she unlatched the lid and opened the box. The psionic stone was glowing with a soft white light—Jaret had prepared it beautifully. “We thank you, James Kirk. We are honored to welcome you and the First House of Betazed into the House of Surak. May our two families learn and grow together for as long our families exist.” She lifted the psionic stone from the box and little flashes of green light flickered through it as it responded to her touch. “Know the lessons I’ve learned.”
Jim reached out and touched the stone with the tips of his fingers. Shards of blue slashed through the stone. “Know how it feels to be t’hy’la.” He ignored the intakes of breath and wondered if the Elders would have to resort to brawling later for a chance to touch the stone.
T’Pau lowered the stone back into the case with careful hands and closed it. She touched his face. “Know me as I know thee, James Kirk.”
A few seconds later Sarek took her place, his fingers were gentle, even affectionate. “Know me as I know thee, James Kirk.” He lifted his hand away and he was replaced with T’Pol.
Nearly two hours passed in a blur, his eyes were starting to glaze over by the time Jaret knelt in front of him. Jaret opened the psi-stone’s box and he picked up the stone with two hands. “I, Jaret Olar Molia, son of the First Daughter of the First House of Betazed offer the House of Surak my telepathic legacy with the approval of my Heir, James Tiberius Kirk.”
Jim nodded and his hand joined Jaret’s. “I offer the House of Surak the telepathic legacy of my forefather—George Samuel Kirk, First Son of the First Daughter of the Fifth House of Betazed, so that they may understand the condition of his heart and soul in the moments of his sacrifice.”
* * * *
He woke to female laughter. Jim turned his head and saw T’Sar in the small garden with T’Mara. Spock was with them playing his lyre. He’d prepared George’s legacy in advance of the ceremony but he hadn’t been prepared for the exhaustion that had followed interacting with the stone. The telepathic weight of House of Surak was a gentle press in the back of his mind—comforting and reassuring without being at all overwhelming.
It explained so much about the Vulcan people—the empathic feedback he’d received in the past suddenly had context. The suppression of their emotions in the face of their violent past had never seemed to be enough to create the placid front 99.9% of Vulcans presented to the universe at large. Now, it made sense to Jim. Each individual Vulcan had a well of psionic support from their families to shore them up mentally and emotionally.
The Betazoid believed and had certainly demonstrated that there was no distance or time within the hyperplanes. The psionic hyperplanes existed in contradiction to the known, established laws of physics. A philosopher named Joral Mendissia on Betazed had pioneered the belief that etheric or physical plane was but a stepping stone in the evolution of the mind. His later discoveries of the mental and astral planes would brand him the father of modern mental discipline on Betazed. His basic mental principles were taught to everyone of Betazed and lessons often began at the onset of puberty. Jim had mastered them ten years faster than was to be expected of someone with his blood heritage. Some hybrids never mastered them at all.
A firm knock on the door knocked him loose from his thoughts and he rolled off the bed to answer the door. Ambassador Sarek stood patiently on the other side of the door dressed in formal robes. “Sir.”
“Have you recovered sufficiently, James?”
Jim blushed. “Yes, sir.”
Sarek nodded. “There has been an unfortunate incident and I must speak with you and Spock in my office.”
Jim’s gaze widened. “Of course, sir.”
“Ten minutes,” Sarek said and then paused as he started to walk away. “Please.”
Jim was totally unnerved. He put on a pair of shoes because that seemed like the thing to do and changed his shirt into something less wrinkled and less casual. By the time he entered Sarek’s office on the opposite side of the house, Spock, Lady Amanda, Pike, McCoy, T’Pau, T’Pol, Jaret and Elder Stavik were all seated. He took the place in front of Sarek’s desk beside Spock and resisted the urge to reach out for his bondmate’s hand.
“I have been instructed to be blunt about this,” Sarek began. “Amanda feels to do otherwise would just lead to an uncertain amount of frustration. The Vulcan High Council met 3.56 hours ago and heard T’Lena of the clan Koltar’s petition regarding the sanctity of your unconsummated marriage bond. Under normal circumstances, your bond would be a betrothal and thus beyond the purview of the High Council. However, you were announced to be t’hy’la and it is well known that you achieved a deep telepathic bond upon your initial bonding—a bond normally only achieved by Vulcan’s who have been wed for many years.”
Horror. Shame. Embarrassment. All of it was pouring off Spock and Jim had never once in his life wanted to shut someone up more than he did in that very moment. His fingers curled into fists. “And did they reach a decision?”
“They are seeking an independent examination of your bond,” Sarek said bluntly. “The two of you are expected to submit to the VSA so that you may be studied for a period of no less than forty-eight hours but not to exceed seventy-two hours. The adepts there are set to determine if your bond is valid and if T’Pau’s declaration is accurate. T’Lena has submitted that if you were truly t’hy’la that your bond would not have gone unconsummated for such a protracted amount of time.”
Well within the time frame of their scheduled trip back to Earth, Jim thought idly. He wondered how long Devar had left to live. “I see.”
“T’Pau has protested this decision but as she currently does not hold a position on the High Council, her ability to sway them is lessened.”
“Surely her grandson would not survive long enough for this process to be completed,” Spock murmured. “And I would never submit to such a union at any rate. She cannot expect a positive outcome.”
“Devar survived his Pon Farr but the bondmate he finally accepted was… rendered insane. She fell into a psionically induced coma and died sixteen hours ago,” T’Pau explained bluntly. “He has not wavered in his desire to obtain Spock has a mate as he illogically believes that Spock alone is responsible for the strength of his bond. It is their position that if he has accomplished such a strong, intimate bond with a non-Vulcan then he would be able to do the same with one of his own kind and that is coveted beyond the measure of it.”
Pike frowned. “You have all spoken of this bond like it was some kind of destiny. It doesn’t make sense that Devar would expect to have the same with Spock.”
“Not everyone on Vulcan subscribes to the more romantic implications of what it means to be t’hy’la,” Sarek explained. “These bonds were lost to our violent past—pre-Reformation records concerning such pairings are sparse and anecdotal at best, Christopher. More analytical minds believe that such a bond is more a mark of a powerful, disciplined mind. Spock is without peerage in his generation when it comes to his mental gifts. It is well known.”
Jim took a deep breath. “Pursuant to Federation law, under the auspices of the Dontor Agreement to the Federation Constitution as outlined in the 30-first amendment, section six, paragraph four, I claim my bondmate, S’chn T’gai Spock of the House of Surak, as my kindred and as such the nature of our marriage is considered sacred. Therefore any inspection without explicit permission from us both is in direct violation of Federation law unless such inspection is called for andblessed by the Four Deities of Betazed.”
Jaret made a choked sound that sounded like a mixture of shock and laughter. “Jim.”
He sent his Betazoid teacher a sly look. “How long will it take the High Council to get information from Betazed regarding my claim and the social implications of such a claim?”
“Years,” Jaret said dryly. “If ever.”
“And the political implications?” Jim questioned.
“Immediately,” Jaret conceded. “It’ll happen so fast some might suspect the answer to their question was written before the question left Vulcan.”
Sarekcleared his throat. “What is kindred? What does it mean?”
“On Earth, Plato broached the subject of soul mates in The Symposium. On Vulcan, warrior helpmates became t’hy’la.” Jaret paused and cleared his throat. “On Betazed, the concept of kindred is sacred because it implies not a just a unique compatibility among bondmates but a twinning of souls. The implication being that the two—were once one, and that we were all separated from our twin soul and cast among the stars as a lesson. Only the worthy and righteous will be reunited by the Four Deities. I have thus far refrained from referring to Jim and Spock as kindred despite the implication of T’Pau’s declaration of them as t’hy’la as they would face much fervor on Betazed by our more devout communities. Kindred pairs are uncommon but not unheard of. I’ve met several pairs in my lifetime but the uniqueness of their genetics would be cause for much interest. Kindred pairs are celebrated and honored by our people. To interfere in such a union is so beyond the pale as to be blasphemous.”
“Is that why you grew so angry over what Devar tried to do on T’Pau’s ship?” Pike questioned.
Jaret averted his gaze, his face flushed with remembered ire. “A potential mental sexual assault is no less traumatizing or horrifying than a physical one, Pike. Devar is a rapist. The only reason he didn’t succeed is because Healer Stopak used a Class 8 restricted psi-inhibitor on him that rendered him psionically impotent.”
Sarek cleared his throat. “James, are you prepared to make this declaration in front of the High Council knowing that it will draw religious scrutiny from your own people?”
“Yes—even if an adept from Betazed eventually disproves my claim it will be years before that determination is made, by which point our bond will have been consummated and we will have also achieved our empathic bond. They won’t attempt to inspect our bond until after we are married and then only at the request of my Matriarch and we both approve the inspection. As the Betazoid half of the union, the most invasive part of the testing would fall to me but I’m prepared to deal with that to keep this situation from escalating now. You and I both know that Spock would ritually excise himself from his entire planet before he’d submit to the severing of our bond. He may not love Vulcan the way you do but such a severance on his part would cost him his place within the clan and that is an unacceptable conclusion to T’Lena’s stubbornness and Devar’s greed.” He paused. “Alternatively, you could just go kick his butt.”
“Do not think for a moment that I am not tempted to do so,” Sarek said evenly and sat back in his chair. “Is it true, James? Are you and Spock kindred?”
Jim pursed his lips. “Before I answer that question—I must ask if you are prepared to allow me to lie to the High Council?”
Sarek raised an eyebrow. “While I would prefer your honesty in all situations, James, I am prepared to allow you some leeway in your dealings with the political maneuverings of a woman scorned.”
“Scorned?” Pike asked.
Amanda smirked. “T’Lena pursued Sarek for several years before he escaped to Earth and allowed himself to be seduced by a Human female.”
Jim made a face. “Has she always worn that wig?” He asked and made a gesture that encompassed his head in a dramatic fashion. “You know on Betazed women used to have these elaborate hair pieces and they kept live birds in cages in them. I’ve seen pictures of my grandmother with a multi-level cage atop her head. T’Lena’s wig reminds me of it. All she’s missing is a few canaries.” He grinned when Amanda laughed but slowly sobered up. “The idea of kindred is a religious one, Ambassador. I was not raised in the faith of my father’s people and while I respect it—I have a scientific and orderly sort of mind. I just don’t… know that I can accept the concept of a deity. It is a question that I’ve struggled with since I began my training with Jaret. The idea of a twin soul is romantic after a fashion but the implications of it are also daunting.” He paused and took a deep breath. “Remember that day when we met in the headmaster’s office?”
Sarek raised an eyebrow. “Yes, I remember everything.”
Jim smiled. “Right well, there was this moment—this brief flash of something for me when I was introduced to Spock for the first time and all I could think was finally, there you are.” He paused at the shock that filtered briefly over Sarek’s entire face. It wasn’t often that he caught the older Vulcan off guard like that. “I can’t explain it any better than that. Does that mean we are kindred? I don’t know. I don’t think I have the life experience to make that determination but I’m completely willing to accept, claim, and defend with my last breath to anyone that will listen that Spock is exactly that to me.”
* * * *
In the end, he had filed the claim formally with Betazed and had let Jaret’s mother respond. Her response had been pointed, excessively blunt to the point of insulting, and it had left absolutely no room for maneuvering on anyone’s part. The Vulcan High Council had taken a step back from the entire proceedings so as to not arouse the interest of Federation Council itself. T’Pau agreed due to political pressure to meet with T’Lena and Devar. Jim and Spock had been invited to attend which had resulted in the attendance of practically everyone except T’Mara.
The formal meeting room in the ancestral home of the House of Surak was bright and airy in a way that would have shocked Jim if he hadn’t been exposed to a variety of architectural wonders on Vulcan already. High windows and ornate furniture were par for the course. He settled in at the table next to Spock and as soon as he dropped his hand to his thigh, Spock’s fingers entwined with his. They’d spent four hours in meditation leading up this meeting so Spock was calm, focused, and looked as utterly Vulcan as possible. Jim found this rather amusing but he made sure to keep that emotional response buried deeply. He didn’t want to be the one to push Spock into an inappropriate reaction in front of the Elders of his clan.
T’Pau prepared her tea carefully and when she was satisfied with it, she lifted her gaze to T’Lena to begin the discussion. They were on her turf, after all, and Jim knew she wasn’t above playing power games with people who irritated her. “Shortly after Sarek moved his family to Earth at his son’s request, you approached me seeking a bond between Spock and Devar.”
T’Lena nodded. “They are well-suited mentally as you well know. You saw the compatibility results yourself, T’Pau.”
“I declined the bonding offer for several reasons, not the least of which was the fact that Spock had already vehemently protested one arranged bonding. His Human genetics had, in his past, warred with his Vulcan blood to an exaggerated degree. Despite his mental and academic achievements—he struggled socially with the accepted norms for our society, to his detriment. I agreed with Sarek’s choice to take both his wife and son to Earth. I believed, rightly so, that Spock would flourish in an environment where he was challenged but not oppressed. In his time on Earth, he has made dramatic improvements in both mentally and socially. I was mildly concerned that his academics would suffer but that was unnecessary. The instruction and tutelage he has received on Earth has so far been superior. He is mentally and emotionally engaged on a level that would’ve been impossible on Vulcan.”
T’Lena inclined her head. “Emotional engagement is a detriment to his development, T’Pau.”
“Spock is half-Human.”
“His disadvantage did make me question the compatibility results,” T’Lena allowed.
“Dr. Amanda Grayson is not a disadvantage,” T’Pau said. “Her child is the most gifted born in our clan in three hundred years. She has worked for our benefit and success since she bonded with Sarek. She is the heart of the House of Surak. Her compassion, courage, and dedication to the welfare of our family are without equal.”
“You have encouraged Spock to embrace his Human genetics,” T’Lena accused.
“I would encourage all the members of my clan to accept who they are. Self-actualization is the foundation of a logical and disciplined mind.” T’Pau raised one fine black eyebrow. “Would you not agree?”
Jim’s gaze dropped to the table when he felt the warm brush of amusement across his mind from his mentor. He glanced briefly at Jaret who was sitting placid and as solemn faced as any Vulcan at the table. The great big liar. He was laughing his ass off on the inside.
“It matters not to me that he is half-Human. Spock alone is the best choice for me psionically,” Devar began. “Divorce is not unheard of in the House of Surak. There would be no stigma attached to his breaking the bond he has with the Betazoid.”
Spock’s fingers clenched briefly, hard and tight against Jim’s and Kirk sent a rush of assurance along their bond.
“Spock, what say you?” T’Pau questioned.
“You have recently passed through your second Pon Farr,” Spock began bluntly. His deliberate rudeness wasn’t lost on Jim. He was never going to survive this meeting without laughing himself sick. Vulcan’s around the table flushed with a mixture of embarrassment and barely suppressed horror. Even Sarek had turned a beguiling shade of green. “You murdered your second bondmate. What happened to your first?”
“She died shortly after the birth of our first child.”
Lie. Jim projected directly to Spock. Suicide after childbirth.
“No,” Spock said simply. “She killed herself.” The color fell out of both T’Lena and Devar’s faces.
“My first bondmate was unable to maintain a healthy mental state due to her own lack of mental fortitude,” Devar said sharply. “It is the same circumstances you will face if you continue this farce with the Betazoid.”
Jim was really tired of being referred to by his species.
“Even if Jim were incapable of maintaining a healthy link with my mind—I would be more than capable of doing it for him. My mother is psi-null and has never suffered in her bond with my father. Such talent and mental ability runs deep in the bloodlines of the House of Surak.” Spock raised one eyebrow slightly. “It is unfortunate the House of Koltar cannot say the same.”
“We would be well suited to one another,” Devar persisted. “Your Betazoid friend is fragile emotionally and physically. He’ll never be a match for you. You’ll outlive him by a hundred years or more.”
“I’m half-Human. I’ve been told to expect a shorter life span than a full Vulcan. The average Human lives upwards of a 150 years… it is unlikely that I will survive the death of my bondmate after being psionically and empathically bonded for more than a hundred years. We will travel all roads together, Devar, as it is intended.”
Jim knew that, intellectually, and he carried some guilt for their bond shortening Spock’s life span. Not much guilt though because Spock had not an ounce of regret for it. Kirk understood that. He wouldn’t want to outlive his bondmate, either.
“T’Pau, obviously the boy is in need of your guidance in this matter. He is incapable of making a logical and proper decision that benefits both his clan and himself in the long term,” T’Lena said stiffly.
T’Pau sighed. Jim and Spock turned to stare at her. Unable to help himself, Jim reached out to her mentally and her dark eyes immediately shifted until they rested on him, unflinching.
“Are you alright?” Jim asked mentally, having taken her direct attention for permission.
Surprise flickered in her eyes and she nodded abruptly before returning her attention to T’Lena. Their private communication hadn’t gone unnoticed, Jim noted as he was being stared at by practically everyone except Spock.
“T’Lena, in an effort to avoid future discussions regarding this matter, I find I must be as blunt as possible. I oversaw the bond between Spock and James. Their minds blended together flawlessly and their intense emotional love for each other was so overwhelming that I nearly lost consciousness during the ceremony. They are t’hy’la. Spock has made his choice and I support him without stipulation in his bond. Your pursuit of Spock as your grandson’s bondmate is inappropriate. It will no longer be tolerated.” She sat back in her chair. “James, Spock you are both dismissed. You will not be asked to reconsider your choices on this matter again—not as long as I stand as Matriarch of the House of Surak.”
They both pushed back their chairs slightly, stood, and made to exit the room.
“I will not accept this,” Devar said and stood.
Jaret easily swung out of his chair and stepped in front of Jim when the Vulcan advanced towards them. Devar faltered a step and stumbled to his knees with a soft shocked sound of pain. “You would do well to remember, Devar of Vulcan, that there are those who have no patience for the mentally undisciplined. James Kirk is my telepathic heir—the Legacy Child of the First House of Betazed, the son of my mind as much as he is the son of Commodore Pike’s heart. Had I been on the Sh’Vor when you attacked him the first time—I would have ripped your mind to shreds.”
“Release him at once,” T’Lena left her chair and tried to help Devar stand. “He was not in his right mind on the Sh’Vor.”
“You are a liar and he is defective,” Jaret snapped. “He seeks to mate with a child and he lashed out at another child in mindless jealousy.” Devar sagged suddenly and his body heaved as if he was gagging.
“T’Pau, I insist you do something about this creature,” T’Lena said, vainly trying to appear calm.
T’Pau glanced at Jaret. “He is well within his rights to protect his child, T’Lena. Be fortunate it was the Betazoid and not the Human. It has taken Sarek and Dr. McCoy both to keep the Commodore in his seat. It was all I could do to convince Christopher to attend this meeting unarmed.”
McCoy slapped a Starfleet issued phaser on the table. “Yes, she was so focused on him that she totally overlooked me.”
* * * *
Jim said nothing while Spock secured the door to their room. It was the first time they’d shut and locked the door since their arrival but he figured no one would blame them. “That was… horrible.”
“Yes.” Spock flushed. “I was unprepared for her to discuss our feelings so openly.”
“No shame,” Jim admonished and offered his mate a small smile when Spock finally looked at him. “Don’t be ashamed of how you feel about me, please.”
“There is nothing about our relationship that is shameful,” Spock murmured. “It is just…”
“Private,” Jim supplied. He took up Spock’s hand carefully and led him through a pair of double doors onto a small private balcony. He prodded Spock into a lounger and joined him. “Let’s watch the sun set.”
Spock slid his fingers through Jim’s hair and sighed. “I do love you.”
“I know.” Jim let his head rest on Spock’s chest and closed his eyes against the fading heat. “I know better than anyone.”
“I will never regret our bond, Ashayam,” Spock whispered against his hair. “Our minds, one and together.”
Jim smiled against his shirt. “Touching, yet not touching; apart, yet never apart.” He lifted his head and opened his eyes. “Sounds a little bit like destiny.”
“It was the same for me,” Spock said quietly. “That first day—I did not understand what you made me feel. The moment I met you—it was as if I had been waiting for you since the moment I was born.” He glanced around the balcony and his eyes brightened. “On this very balcony no less.”
Jim grinned. “Really?”
“Yes.” Spock brushed Jim’s hair from his forehead. “For you, I have forsaken all others.”