STAR TREK-The Original Series


SUMMARY: The story continues as the Rihansu find a beginning on the world they have named Kavifemai. Reldai T'yshen begins her life as bond-mate to Commander Spock and has been chosen by Vulcan's High Counsel to serve as the Matriarch and the Federation Ambassadress to this new world.

DISCLAIMER: The Great Bird of the Galaxy created "the Star Trek Universe" that we play in. Paramount owns "the Star Trek Universe" that we play in. They will have the monetary gains and the headaches... we will have all the fun!

TOME THREE: Kavifemai's Rise
By Gayle Rochefort-Potts
First Draft: May 1997
Final Draft: December 1998

Terran Standard Year: 2281.4

Kavifemai Standard: pos'Lashan (The Arrival)

The ships were lined up on the desert, glittering in the suns. This would be the starting point, a chance to begin again. To combine the best of what they knew with what they had only dreamed about.

Di'on stood slowly from her command position and hesitated over the tie-in to the flotilla. She drew in a slow breath and began to taste a sense of the freedoms that were before her. She would no longer have to sleep with one eye open to all that moved around her, nor question everyone's motives. She could walk along a beach or watch a sunset without arming herself. She could discover the freedoms she had only heard of during her short tenure as a prisoner of the Federation. She had been branded a traitor upon her return home and she had been watched continuously. The only fact that she was certain of was that being related to the Praetor had been a blessing in disguise and had aided her in getting away from Romulus. He would have rather lose a daughter than gain a traitor for his successor. It had not been easy, losing Tal and their dream of a life together. It had been difficult but the incident would have to be placed in perspective. The life that lay ahead would hopefully bring her a future to look forward to.

It was time to discover all that was possible as a member of the Federation.

"We are.... Home. Crews, begin shut down. Di'on out." No more military ranks, at least, not right now. Living among the Enterprise crew had helped with the new beginning. Attitudes had a chance to change gradually and the acceptance of this new life would come easier now. Now, was to be the beginning of it all!

The crews moved through the familiar motions that they could most likely make in their sleep and slowly each one began to realize that this was reality! That their dream was about to be fulfilled! They began to talk in soft voices at first. Voices were never raised on a ship, nor were conversations ever loud enough to be overheard. Then there was some laughter and then voices slowly rose as the realization was shared.

Di'on smiled as she looked around at her crew then looked to the Vulcan now finished with shutting down his station. "It is only now becoming reality."

He nodded solemnly.

The crews filtered out of the vessels and stood gazing in profound silence. Uniforms had been discarded in favour of the Federation colonist coverall. The vegetation off in the distance and the surrounding area was mostly desert-like with an occasional grouping of bushes. The smell of water was in the air and the caress of a gentle breeze was felt. No buildings. No signs of civilization. Just the sound of movements among themselves and the snapping of the metal as the temperature changed in the sun.

Di'on smiled as she looked around at her people and spoke softly, not wanting to break the silence. "Nothing. Only what we will make of it."

A bird's cry broke the stillness! A large bird of prey soaring high up in the sky, circling above to investigate the new creatures' arrival.

S'task moved to Spock's side. "Do any of these have names?"

"Scientific only."

"Then we must begin..." He looked over to K'tar, his ship's communication officer. "Well?"

"Khaf-kur'vel." K'tar shouted.

The others either nodded or laughed.

"You can think of nothing more original than 'Blood green thing'!" S'task laughed then reached to the man's shoulder and slapped him. "We have to work on your imagination, K'tar."

The sole uniformed figure separated himself from the group with a few steps. He tapped his communication pin. "Enterprise. Landing has been completed. Beam down may commence at the agreed co-ordinates in two minutes."

"Received, Mr. Spock. Beam down will begin in two minutes. Captain and crew of the Enterprise extend compliments to the new inhabitants of Kavifemai. Enterprise standing-by." Spock turned to Di'on and S'task, they had moved close enough to hear the message. His head bowed slightly adding his personal congratulations.

T'yshen was dressed as the rest of the colonists were, in the one-piece coverall, with her hair pulled back severely into a single heavy braid. This was not her usual manner of dress, but she felt that if she was to guide these people, she should not appear apart from them. She was totally prepared to do whatever was necessary. Her eyes scanned the view of the ships and people; it was a beginning for her as well! The first time she would be totally on her own. Without benefit of T'pau's or Sarek's counsel.

She felt the warm breeze brush her face. "It is different than I am accustomed to. Cooler with a dampness to the air." She fell into step with Spock, remaining one pace behind, as was traditional. They were heading towards the beam down point. "Do you plan to wear the uniform at all times?"

"Not when I rest." He smiled a private smile at her, as he clasped his hands behind his back. Spock had not noticed how the single heavy braid had lent her severity before. She was assuming the mantle of her responsibilities easily and perhaps too quickly for him.

"Would you not find it logical to adapt to the work dress?" They continued together towards the beam down point. He always appeared very sure of himself.

"Perhaps later. For the present, my uniform is sufficient."

"As you wish." She turned as she heard her name. Another officer ran towards her, with a diplomatic pouch. She recognized him. "Mr. Bennett." Her head bowed.

Spock excused himself then moved ahead to allow her some privacy. He was honoured at her apparent comfort with her new position.

"Reldai T'yshen." Carl bowed his head, a habit that he was picking up as quickly as the Kavifemai. He pulled open the panel of his tunic. He would change into the coveralls as soon as he could; it was too hot here for this uniform! "You were otherwise occupied at the time and Ambassador Sarek asked if I would keep these until we arrived. It is the copies of the agreements and the acceptance for your diplomatic status." He noticed the raised eyebrow. He was beginning to understand the differing body language of these races. "You didn't expect it?"

"I had assumed that another would be chosen from the Corps." She opened the pouch that had been sealed against any palm print but her own. "I had not expected Sarek to choose." She examined the 'papers' and then confirmed that all slates had been included. She closed the pouch, sealing it again. "There is nothing that can be done with these until there is a facility to either display the print-outs or read the slates. I will place this with my personal effects when they arrive." She found the thin strapping in the hidden compartment then slipped it over her shoulder. She looked to the young officer. "What is your estimation of the success for this venture?"

"Mine?" He thought a moment then started walking with her as she continued to the equipment's beam-down point, his uniform tunic carried bunched in one hand. "I never thought about it." He paused again. "I think they will succeed. No reason why they shouldn't, is there?"

"There are many. Do not be deceived by the gentle nature of the Kavifemai that you have seen. Remember they are the same people that the Federation challenges."

"Vulcans are peaceful and I have been told that they are both the same people." These two races intrigued him. "Isn't that why they are here? To change their way of life." He really needed to find something cooler to wear. He was beginning to feel the sweat beading on his upper lip and his forehead.

"Vulcans adopted a peaceful way of life. It took many generations before it became the norm. Vulcans can be just as aggressive and as destructive as the Rihansu. Perhaps even more so, Vulcan has retained the mental capabilities the Rihansu seem to have either forgotten or have bred out."


Spock and T'yshen stood together as they watched the piles of prefabricated building supplies continue to be beamed down. Plants, fruit trees and farming supplies followed, all carefully chosen to integrate with the environment. Many supplies came directly from Vulcan and were expected to encourage a more peaceful way of life. Many believed that if the struggles of survival were dealt with, there would be little cause to fight amongst themselves.

The crews worked well with one another as the supplies were moved out of the way for the present time. Anti-grav sleds were brought over, materials piled on top and then the sleds were taken to a site that had been chosen for a housing unit.

Di'on and S'task moved to join the Vulcan couple. S'task folded his arms as he watched. "It has been agreed; this place will become our capital, our beginning." He had been surprised at how relaxed his people seemed to be. Prejudices against the Humans seemed to have disappeared shortly after arriving on the Enterprise. Friendships had been formed with some of the crew and many had informed him that they had finally begun to sleep through the night. The Praetor in some form or another had most of these individuals watched, and nerves had become raw. Now there was a much-needed calm.

During the following week the crews completed the buildings needed for the first city, Lashan'Kahr, City of Arrival. Geodesic domes were erected as the individual 'homes' for the Kavifemai who had chosen to live in this city.

Two long, large buildings had been assembled first. One, slowly being transformed into a medical facility and the other into a combination library and off-world communication station. The central information units with the knowledge of the Federation would be placed into the memory banks and later the Rihansu information would be added to it.

Uhura had been delighted that she could spend so much time on the surface. She had spent much of her time exchanging information and skills with her counterparts here on the surface. Her knowledge of the Rihansu language had improved greatly as had her accent. Most personnel still wore the universal translators, to insure there were no misunderstandings. There were some words that were still unknown to one side or the other.

She pulled herself out from underneath the console. "That should do it. Give that a try." She smiled at the look on K'tar's face, he looked surprised and nervous.

His hand touched the relays that would open up the system for the first time. "Enterprise, this is... Kavifemai Central." He took a deep breath, everything seemed so amazing and yet none of the technology was new or different. It was due to the fact that this was a new beginning and the Kavifemai were still trying to get used to how open and sharing the Federation had been!

"Kavifemai Central, this is Enterprise. Good work. You sound clear and strong. Send the test frequencies to eliminate discrepancies." The voice from the ship sounded as if its owner was smiling.

"Do you really think anything that I complete requires calibrating, Lt. Dawson?" Uhura teased.

"No, Ma'am. But there are procedures to follow and you are a stickler for following procedures." He almost laughed this time.

"Sending now." Uhura nodded to K'tar as she stood and brushed off her adopted uniform. Sand seemed to accumulate everywhere at the moment. Once the buildings were finished and closed in, things would be cleaned up and the sand would be less invasive.

The Enterprise crew working on the surface adopted a work dress consisting of either the short-sleeved coveralls or the one-piece work uniform. Uhura had chosen the latter. The tunics and even the vests were becoming cumbersome or too warm to work in.

K'tar nodded, the readings showed that all the frequencies were exactly as they should be. "We can start on the next station." He was anxious to connect to the near-by city that would become his home and duty station.

Uhura laughed at his enthusiasm. "How about something to eat first, I'm starving!"

"A good suggestion." His stomach felt suddenly empty. They cleared the link to the Enterprise and headed outside to the mess area. "Afterwards, I will take a cruiser and we can head over to the new site. They have started to transport the equipment down."

Uhura nodded. She had not been aboard a small vessel in awhile and she was excited about the trip. Her 'duty' down here would end with the installation of the last communication unit in each of the cities. The time frame at the present was four weeks in total, and so far they were right on time.


McCoy looked around the room and wondered where the calibration unit had walked off to this time! It seemed as if every time he put it down, he would find in a different spot. He looked under the third pile of blankets that had been tossed on the bed while he had been busy setting the readings on the diagnostic beds. He mumbled something about needing a shelving unit. If he could find that darned thing maybe he would stop losing everything!

"Doctor." Spock tapped his shoulder, in his hand the unit that McCoy had been looking for.

"Where did it walk off to this time?" McCoy hated it when someone found the one thing he had been looking for faster than he did. The work crew assigned to assembling the medical facilities had disappeared off to the beam down point for more supplies. He was grateful for the brief silence. He had always wondered how people could talk about absolutely nothing for so long, especially on shore leave! And to some, this had seemed like shore leave. Getting off the hard decks and the filtered air was enough to make anyone a little light-headed for a time.

"It had been placed in the empty crate, no doubt when the blankets were taken out." Spock gestured towards the computer terminal. "The unit is functional. All medical information has been transferred from the Enterprise; Rihansu files will be entered later."

McCoy nodded. "No matter how many times I watch the set-up of a colony, it's amazing as everything comes to life. Isn't it, Spock?" He looked at the Vulcan who was attired with the uniform vest rather than the usual tunic. It suited him. If Spock could look relaxed, which McCoy doubted, then he looked that way now. "I guess you will be moving on to the next location?"

"Yes, the library and medical units were the only systems for which I am required. The six systems should be completed within two weeks. The inter-linking systems can not be completed until the communication units are finished." Spock had been surprised at the ease with which everyone worked together. Any doubts that he had entertained concerning the validity of the Rihansu's desire for peace had vanished. "Do you require assistance, Doctor?"

McCoy had learned early on never to pass up on an extra set of hands. "Actually, if you could find some storage units and get some of this clutter put away, I'd be grateful. I'd stop losing my equipment every time I put it down." He smiled at Spock's raised eyebrow. "Do you think this colony will survive?"

"I have had a few reservations but the Rihansu people are not ones to shy away from challenge. The only difficulty that may arise is in dealing with personal conflicts. They do have uncontrolled emotions, a factor in most disagreements." Spock headed for the stack of long crates; the sides were marked with the identifying codes for the storage units. He opened a crate and began to assemble the units as he continued to converse with McCoy. "If this can be controlled, I believe they will become a welcome addition to the Federation and to Vulcan."

"Well, Spock..." McCoy began his usual banter. ".... It's good to know that these people have the Vulcans' seal of approval." He kept the smile to himself as he went back to work, he did not have to turn to know that Spock had at least one eyebrow up and was studying the Human for a moment. He heard the sounds of the storage unit being put together resume, this area was beginning to look like a hospital ward.


T'yshen had surprised a few people with her varied abilities, one of which was her culinary skills. She had volunteered to help with the preparation of the meals. Everyone had been expected to help in any way possible. Her activities had included helping with the erection of the geodesic domes; leveling the small areas that had to be done by hand; planning the city's layout to be the most efficient and assisting with the language difficulties. Her skills were limited when it came to circuitry, so she offered to serve as cook to free someone with those skills.

McCoy looked at the food on his plate. "Humans can eat this?"

"I would not serve you anything that would be harmful to your system, Doctor." She raised an eyebrow at the apparent mistrust the doctor held of others. She had never expected a physician to be as suspicious as McCoy seemed to be.

He winked at her. "Just checking." He indicated Spock with his free hand. "I wasn't sure how much he had influenced you."

Spock, of course, had heard the conversation just as McCoy had intended. "Doctor, if I had required her assistance in harming you, it would have been accomplished long ago and it would have been quick and painless. Vulcans are efficient, no matter what the task." Spock kept his voice even and his amusement to himself. He had attained the desired effect, McCoy moved off silently considering the matter and mumbling about the Vulcan's lack of a sense of humor.

Spock's head bowed as he accepted his portion from T'yshen. "T'sai Amanda's recipe." He actually missed his mother's cooking. Over the years she had developed a talent for combining Vulcan and Terran foods in a way that few had done successfully.

"T'sai Amanda is the only one that considered it a necessity that I learn to prepare food." T'yshen remembered the time spent in the kitchen. Sarek's only comment about the 'lessons' was that T'yshen had passed her Kans-wan years ago and was quite capable of caring for herself. He saw no logic in pursuing skills to this extent. Amanda had countered with the Human logic that it might just come in handy one day. T'yshen had discovered along the way that she actually found preparing meals to be satisfying and had not done so since leaving Vulcan over a year ago.

"Have you had your meal?" Spock asked hoping for more company than McCoy's.

"No. I will join you in a moment." Her head bowed slightly as she considered the short time they would be able to spend together. There were so many tasks that had to be completed and he had seemingly been placed in the position of overseeing everything. She had been aware of his interest in the success of the world and was also content to see the interest extend beyond her.

T'yshen found a yeoman to replace her, one who was more than pleased to be doing something other than standing around for the moment. She took her tray of food to sit with Spock and McCoy, between them would be a better description.

"Is the taste palatable, Doctor McCoy?"

McCoy had already emptied his plate and was debating on seconds. "You have learned well, Reldai T'yshen. Compliments to your teacher."

"T'sai Amanda will be honoured."


Spock sat outside watching the night sky. He was not tired and had occupied his time with a recording of the pattern of the stars. At the moment, the triple moons held his fascination.

One moon was a silver gray and dominated the night sky just as the Watcher did on Vulcan, though it was not quite as large. The others were smaller with a slightly reddish hue and seemed to be travelling with the larger one. Each of them in differing phases. The largest one was full with the exception of a sliver on its right side. The next in size appeared as the Terran moon did and was just past the full phase. The smallest one was just a sliver in the sky and had the appearance of being the missing piece from the larger one that had whirled far off into space.

This was the first opportunity that he had had to admire the beauty of this world. The tricorder had been turned off for some time and it lay beside him in the golden sand. He sat with his legs crossed, his hands steepled in front of him with his fingers tapping his lips. He still wore his standard uniform and had at sunset returned to wearing his tunic.

He had been entertaining some concerns about T'yshen's position here. She would be among a people that were so much like her but very different in their behaviour. In all his studies of the Rihansu, he had found similarities to the Vulcans, but it ended with the mental and emotional disciplines. The effects on her could not have been much different than living among Humans as he has, but these people resembled Vulcans. Human physical differences were a constant reminder than he was not one of them. Would the familiarity of the races develop into a slow erosion in her training? Over time no doubt, exposure to this culture would have an influence but it was uncertain as to the degree.

Spock turned his head as he sensed her approach.

"Have you completed your studies?" T'yshen knew why he was here, she had sensed his discomfort. She moved to sit in front of him, mirroring his position. Her hands then went to his face caressing his skin and smoothing the frown he wore. She leaned forward and kissed him lightly. "What is your concern?"

"I have completed a record of the star positions. After I complete the scan in the other areas, we can form navigational points and complete the mapping grids." He lifted the tricorder from the sand and began to explain to T'yshen how the mapping grid could determine position. He looked up at her silence and met her eyes. "You are not interested in this?"

"Not at the moment." Her hand moved into his. "Your concern...?"

Spock pursed his lips; he had been hoping he could avoid this conversation. "You will be alone. Without another Vulcan. I know what it is like and it can be most difficult. The Terran's differences were obvious in their looks as well as their manner." He knew he was not explaining this well.

T'yshen moved closer to him. "You have forgotten that I have been alone most of my life. I studied alone. I meditated alone. And often ate and slept alone." Her voice softened. "You are the first one I have shared anything permanent with. You are the one I will miss." Her eyes lowered, she felt tears prick at her eyes.

Spock lifted her chin. "Do not." He dried the tears. He stood then offered his hand to her. "Come. We will walk." He picked up the tricorder and placed it over his shoulder. His hand held hers as they walked, causing a gentle flow of thoughts to pass between them.

Time was becoming a precious commodity for them, only seven days until the Enterprise had to return to its regular patrol. The one advantage was that this system was within the Enterprise's regular patrol quadrant... at least for the present.

T'yshen stopped suddenly. "I wish to return to our quarters."

Spock nodded, sensing her desire and sharing the need to be with her as well. He opened his thoughts to her as he began to awaken all the pleasures they would experience. This time with her would be slow and gentle with opportunities to savour all of her.


Captain Kirk looked up at the young officer, standing nervously at attention in his office. He had been expecting this request from some of his crew. His surprise had been at how few he actually did receive. He waved him to the chair opposite himself.

"Lieutenant, this is not something that should be decided quickly." He held up his hand, stopping whatever the young man thought he wanted to hear. "I want to know that this decision was not rushed and that there were no outside influences." Kirk had no objections to the request but he had to be sure that this was the crewman's own preference.

"Understood, sir." He took a breath trying to remember the first time this thought had occurred to him. "The night of the celebration, at the signing of the treaty, I suddenly had this feeling in the pit of my stomach that I was going to miss these people." He paused a moment. "You had assigned me to be the liaison and, quite frankly, I did not want the job. After a time, I came to really know these people and I understood the sacrifices and the struggle." He knew Kirk was actually listening to him. "I don't want to leave Starfleet. I thought that maybe there might be a way I could fill some position. My choice in career has not really been made yet. I am open to new ideas, sir."

Kirk watched the eager face; he wasn't the first one to ask and he wouldn't be the last. Most of the others had been because of personal feelings towards another individual, and those might change over time. So far, Carl Bennett was the only one that he was going to allow. Lieutenant Bennett had honestly wanted to help the Kavifemai. "You will have to learn a new language. Translators don't work that well, in the long run, and they do become a nuisance." Kirk had made the final decision only a few moments ago and this would be it. "You will be the only Terran."

He was surprised. "Others wanted to go down."

"No one else has presented their case as well as you have. They will have to go through Starfleet channels. And something else that no one has mentioned..."

"I know, sir. I have already spoken to T'sai Di'on. She also said that the numbers would be very limited due to cultural contamination." He stood. "I'll understand either way, sir. I felt that I wanted to be in on the beginning of this new world, from the ground up. It will be a great place to visit one day!"

Kirk stood. Bennett was willing to walk away from his request. To approach it at a more appropriate time, if necessary. Kirk had a file from the Kavifemai containing compliments about this officer. Especially effective were the ones from T'sai Di'on and Sarek, both thought highly of Bennett's efforts to understand and work with the situation and Carl's lack of prejudice in dealing with the crews. Kirk had spoken to Starfleet about this and it had been left to his discretion, as well as with the governing body of Kavifemai.

He held out his hand to the young officer, a part of him envying the assignment. "I'll send the paperwork to Starfleet..."

Carl nodded as he accepted the handshake. He would try this again, through channels as Kirk suggested. He did not mind waiting. He would do some studying and... what was it the Captain was saying? "Sir?"

Kirk smiled. "I said, you have my best wishes on your new assignment and I expect you to do the Enterprise proud." The expression on Carl Bennett's face told him he had not been listening. He turned the young man towards the door. "I will repeat this only once; you have one day to report for your transfer to the surface. You will serve as Reldai T'yshen's aide as well as continuing as a Starfleet diplomatic liaison... Lieutenant Commander Bennett." He tried hard to hide the smile as he watched Carl react.

It sunk in slowly and as he faced Kirk, his face lit up. Captain Kirk was smiling as well. "Sir?"

"You have just become a member of the Diplomatic Corps, Bennett. Sure you can handle it?" Kirk watched the eyes widen. He was beginning to doubt the reports concerning Bennett's ability to think quickly. "I sent your request through just after receiving it. Yours is the only one I am allowing for now." Kirk leaned against the desk edge. "There is something that I want you to do for me personally, Lieutenant Commander Bennett."

He straightened, accepting the added responsibility. "Anything, sir."

"I want you to keep an eye on Reldai T'yshen. She's a special woman and I want to know if any problems arise. When you leave, I'll have my personal channel coding for you. Contact me at any time, the communiqué will not go through Starfleet channels."

"Aye, sir." Carl had processed everything by now. "Thank you, Captain, for your confidence in me. I won't let you down." He shook Kirk's hand again. "I'll be ready for beam down in two hours, sir."

"Report to me personally, no matter where I am." Kirk met his eyes. "You are fulfilling every cadet's dream.... A new world to conquer."

"I know, sir." Carl snapped to attention once more then headed out into the corridor. He stood waiting for the lift. The list of what he wanted to take with him was running through his head. He didn't want to forget anything. The ride to the third deck below seemed to take forever. He grinned. "Wait 'til Mom hears this one. Dear Mom, I won't be home when I said because I am writing to you from this planet..." He chuckled to himself then smiled.

Colonization plus fifteen days...

Di'on turned to her life-mate, still holding the reports in her hand. She could not contain the excitement in her voice. "The seeds have taken in the fields that we planted only twelve-day ago." She sat at the foot of the large bed. "The field is covered with the grain." She wore only her linen shift, her hair was down and her skin had taken on a slightly darker tone from exposure to the sun.

They were all beginning to learn just how demanding it was to perform manual farming, even with the modern equipment. On their Homeworld, farming had become totally automated, that would come in time.

She looked up from the report. "We will be able to harvest in three more weeks, our first yield of quadrotriticale. The seeds that we brought from home have taken as well and the Vulcan yartik is growing faster than anticipated. T'yshen believes it is because of the cooler temperature and the higher moisture content in the air. If we do not have any weather or disease problems, we should be self-sufficient in less than a year."

S'task nodded. He was leaning against the headboard with his eyes closed. When she stopped talking, he opened one eye. "Are you done?"

"Yes. Why?" She placed the report on the floor then pulled her legs up and wrapped her arms around her knees.

"Because I do not wish to speak of wheat." S'task sat up. His hand flipped his hair back. It had grown just past his shoulders and had become an accepted style. They were all trying differing ways to shake the mantel of a strict military life. He reached for her hand. "I wish to hold you." He pulled her closer, one arm wrapped around her. "Tonight, we say good-bye to the Enterprise. We will be on our own. A time to celebrate... I wish to begin the festivities now, with you." His lips found hers as he pulled her down with him.

The covers were tossed onto the floor and his body covered hers. It was not yet dawn; the moons lit the darkness for a sevenday until there was no darkness. The light came into the bedroom, avoiding the bed by about half a meter. In the darkness of the room, whispers of love and passion could be heard and a gentle laugh from a touch.

Di'on enjoyed this man, it had been a good partnership. He did please her and she had found a passion for him she did not know was possible. Part of it, she believed, was the freedom this world allowed. No pre-determined barriers, no taboos of class or position. Her hands ran along the muscular body taking in the pleasure from the touch. His caresses bringing pleasures to her as she pulled him closer and wished the nights were longer.

Her breath caught as his release came, filling her as he always did. Her body answered the wanting. Her lips touched his ear and she whispered. "You will lead a long life..."

He smiled. "My life is no longer forfeit?" He teased her as he rolled with her onto his back. He brushed her hair out of the way, and then his hands held her face. Her eyes were bright and she smiled at his comment. Her fingertips ran along his lips. "I adore you, Di'on. You are my passion." His tongue wet her lips as he pulled her close and tasted her.

Di'on lifted her head to breathe. "Do you wish to share my shower?" She had been pleased when the water table was found sufficient to provide the necessary water supply. Each unit had been built with sonic showers as well as water showers, but the water ones were the only ones worth sharing.

"An excellent way to begin a day." He nuzzled her neck, his hands tickled her and he laughed as the 'torture' was returned.


Spock lifted himself onto his elbow, his hand reached to brush the hair from T'yshen's face. They had spent most of the night sharing thoughts then each other. He had held her as they spoke of their upcoming separation, some tears that would only be shared privately. He knew both of them would require precise control later in the day, but for now, they could enjoy the freedom of expressing their emotions.

Her hair sparkled in almost any amount of light and her touches had been so light that he barely felt them, but his body reacted to it all. The back of his fingers brushed along her skin causing her to shiver. He brushed her hair back, exposing her neck to the brush of his lips. His fingers touched the contact points, she breathed deeply and suddenly.

Her eyes opened to his and she pulled him to her. Her touch stirred his hunger. She filled his mind with memories of their Pon farr, of the pleasures, of her joy at finding him, and of their time here.

His hand moved into hers. He sighed. "I do not need to be reminded. I require control." He matched her eyes as his hand moved along her body, feeling every curve and remembering every pleasure in her. With his touch, he told her of this. His breathing became deep and slow as he was affected by their contact. "I can find no control with you." He lay back into the pillow.

T'yshen inhaled slowly, the desire he had awakened was strong. "I do not require your control." She spoke softly. "We can remain here, neither of us is needed until later today." Her suggestion caused him to sigh. His eyes closed and she felt him begin to shield his thoughts from her. "Do not shut yourself off from me. I wish to feel you in my thoughts until it is time for you to leave."

"I require control before then. I have duty." He spoke of things she already understood.

T'yshen moved from the bed. "Then have your control." She had never felt so torn before. She slipped on her robe, wrapped it tightly around her, and then tied it. She moved to the window that looked out into the field of wheat. She slammed her mental shielding into place, cutting him off totally except for the bonding thread. With the shielding so firmly in place, she had neither heard nor felt him come to her until his hands touched her shoulders. She shook them off easily and moved from him.

"You can not have it both ways." She felt the isolation and her anger at the situation. She could handle being away from him or next to him touching his thoughts. He wanted something in between and today she was not willing to comply with his requirements.

"Shen, I only..."

"Do not call me that. I am not a child." T'yshen turned to him. "You wish the control, you have it. I wish to hold you close because you may not return to me. That is the reality that I had not needed to deal with before now."

Her eyes flashed with the anger that he had not seen before. "Why would I not return to you?"

"Because when you leave here..." She controlled the shiver her body had felt. "... You may die." She glared at him then lowered her eyes and turned away. Her voice softened. "I do not wish to feel your death and I will... every second of it."

Spock's arms went around her holding her close. He was beginning to realize how good her shielding actually was; he had never sensed any of this! His lips touched her hair. "It is my duty to serve Starfleet. It was understood and accepted."

"Perhaps it is because our bonding is so new. Perhaps it is the realization that to be without you is something I have not totally prepared for." Her body finally relaxed. "I ask forgiveness, Husband. Control is something we both require." She steadied her thoughts and emotions as she moved away from his hold.

"I can only promise that I will do everything possible to retain my life forces." He stood unmoving as she had. He had dealt with his own mortality long ago, accepting it as a part of his service.

"See that you keep that promise." Her eyes closed for a moment. "I will prepare for today." She moved from the room to dress.

Spock started to follow her, to give in to her desire for him. To share what little time was left for them, then his communicator sounded. He crossed the room to the bureau and opened the hand-held unit. "Spock here."

"Commander. Captain Kirk had requested that you be informed of the briefing scheduled for nine hundred hours. He also wanted..."

"Message received. I will return to the vessel in one hour."

"Very well, Mr. Spock. Enterprise out."

Spock closed the unit then began preparing for his day. It was not the one he had expected or planned for.


Kirk had watched his first officer all through the briefing. He had actually been surprised that he has shown up. Part of his order to him was that it wasn't necessary for him to be here in person, but there had not been an opportunity for Lieutenant Kenith to relay that bit of information. There was something bothering Spock. McCoy had noticed it as well and had given Kirk his questioning frown directed at Spock during the briefing. Kirk shrugged and made a mental note to talk to Spock. He dismissed the briefing and asked Spock to stay.

He poured himself another coffee as he waited for the others to filter out. He looked to Spock, standing stiff and with his hands behind his back, as usual. "I haven't seen much of you and I was wondering how things were going?"

"You have my report, Captain." Spock stated flatly.

"I wasn't referring to the colony. I was referring to things a little more personal." Kirk sensed the tension in him. "How are things going with..."

"Things are as they should be, Captain." Spock knew that if he allowed Kirk the conversation that he wanted, it would be awkward, to say the least. "May I return to duty, sir?"

Kirk frowned. "Duty, Spock? Not to the surface?"

"No, sir." Spock made it sound as if it would have been an illogical expectation for him to return to the surface. Spock wanted desperately for Kirk to drop this subject. He merely wished to return to the bridge and begin the departure checks...ten hours early. Even he could not find the logic in this, except that it prevented him from considering her fears and a few of his own.

Kirk wondered if he should have waited and had this discussion over a game of chess. Spock always seemed to relax a little more then. He had really expected to be asked to relieve Spock of duty, allowing him to spend his last day with her. Here in front of him stood a totally controlled Vulcan. Maybe the control was something he needed? Maybe it was hiding something? Kirk knew he would not get much more information from Spock.

"Dismissed." He leaned back against the table watching the First Officer leave.

He folded his arms and thought about the situation, mostly speculation, but he did know Spock and there was something that was bothering him! He stood suddenly with the notion that he knew of one other person to talk to. He tapped his comm-pin as he traveled. "Bridge. You have the conn, Mr. Sulu. I am beaming down for a last look around."

"Aye, sir."

Kirk stepped onto the transport platform. "Put me down close to Reldai T'yshen's quarters." He waited for the co-ordinates to be set. "Energize."

"Energizing, sir."

The scenery changed with the expected speed and he was pleasantly surprised at all the changes that surrounded him. Reports were one thing. Seeing all the buildings, the activity, as well as the smell of the grain as it was warmed by the sun was another. It made him homesick. He couldn't help but smile and stand there drinking it all in!

After a time, he turned to the near-by unit and touched the call signal. He heard her voice granting him entry and stepped in.

"Captain. You were not expected until later." T'yshen's eyes smiled slightly. "Do you wish some tea?"

Kirk nodded then followed her into the dining area. He sat down, took a breath and decided not to beat around the bush about this. "There's something bothering Spock."

T'yshen finished the preparations. She had not been prepared for his directness. She needed the time to collect her thoughts. She was still experiencing some discomfort from earlier today. She sat down in the chair beside Kirk, poured the tea then ran her finger around her cup's edge before answering him. "It is a blend referred to as the Master's tea. A series of herbs are collected in a particular order, there is a rhyme one learns as a child so that it chosen properly."

He grinned. "If you recite it..."

"I will not, James." She sipped her tea.

"I want to help, if I can." Kirk was relieved at her nod; it was more than he had received from Spock. He tasted the tea. "It's sweeter than the relen tea."

T'yshen met his eyes. "It must be most difficult for you to experience a friendship with him that is equitable."

"At times. Like now, I know there is something, but I can't ask him beyond a certain point. He clams up and won't talk about whatever it is. It eats at him until he finds a way to share it. Sometimes, it's too late to do anything about it." He leaned back in the chair and opened the front panel of his tunic. The temperature here was at least tolerable for even Humans but still on the warm side. "If you don't mind sharing the reason, T'yshen, I might be able to help."

"I spoke to him of my fears and I believe he is uncertain of what is required of him." She poured more tea for herself and topped off Kirk's. "This morning, upon waking, we spoke of our separation. How he needed to find the control. Understandable and I should have honoured his request." She took a breath, she felt at ease with James. "I informed him of my thoughts, how I wished to spend our time...until the last possible second..."

Kirk nodded in understanding. He rubbed his hands together then folded them. He rested his chin on his raised hands. "He is stubborn."

"The matter should not have been mentioned."

Kirk glanced at her then looked back to the cup. "Afraid he is going to die?"

She nodded not surprised in the least that James understood. "I should not have spoken about it."

"I will do what I can..." He smiled as he turned his head to rest his cheek on his fist.

"It is appreciated, James." Her hand tapped his arm gently, as she had seen many Terrans do when attempting to comfort another. "But even a captain with a reputation such as yours cannot guide all the forces that may harm him."

"No, I guess not but we have done a pretty good job up until now." His hand covered her warm one, hoping it could stay there for awhile. "You knew about the dangers and, after what you went through, I am surprised that you are reacting this way."

"Perhaps that is why I am reacting as I have."

Jim's hand slipped under hers and he held her warm hand lightly, his thumb softly caressing the back. He remembered the anxiety that he felt when he had been injured and close to dying, then the relief when he would feel Spock's presence. He wondered if Spock experienced the same whenever he was close to death. They had both, on numerous occasions, been bed-partners with death, neither chose to stay. "He would choose life rather than death any day. Especially now that he has you." He flashed a smile at her.

"Having someone does not preclude one's death."

"No but it gives you an incentive to fight back against the odds." It would seem so natural, to him, to pull her closer and...

"Am I intruding?" Both turned at the suddenness of his words, neither of them had heard him enter.

Kirk stood a little too quickly and almost knocked the chair over. "Spock." He felt his face warm as he tried to quash the wave of embarrassment and guilt that washed through him. "I wanted to understand what was wrong and you weren't talking." He moved to stand in front of Spock, nervously smoothing his tunic. "Why don't you stay. Take a leave of absence, a year. Your job will be there for you." Kirk smiled slightly.

"It would be more difficult then. Just as it is after spending this amount of time together." Spock looked past Kirk to T'yshen. "What you fail to remember is that I am not a full Vulcan. To control the emotions I am required to at the moment...takes more than just putting the shielding in place as you do."

"Spock, spend some time here." Jim looked from one to the other. "If you need time when you return, to meditate or just to be by yourself... That can be arranged."

He thought about all the activities he would be indulging in if T'yshen had been his. Duty would not be high on his list, even as the captain of the Enterprise. "Do not leave here without touching. Without knowing exactly how the other feels. Vulcan or not." Kirk tightened his jaw trying to control what he felt from and for both of them. Especially, since their bonding. He looked back to T'yshen. "I'll make it an order if I have to, Spock." He turned back to his friend. "In the grand scheme of things, my friend, the only thing you can be certain of is right now...this minute."

He looked from one Vulcan to the other then leaned towards Spock, meeting his eyes. "If I were in your place.... I'd stay with her so long and so close, someone would have to beam me away from her." Kirk cleared his throat then headed out of the quarters. "Consider it an order, Spock!" He called over his shoulder, just before the door slid shut.

He stood outside the quarters and leaned against the wall. He let the air out of his lungs slowly. It was probably just because he was psi-sensitive to both of them that he could feel the draw between them. Not to mention, their desires for each other. And then there were his desires that would never be fulfilled.

He contemplated what might have happened if Spock hadn't come in. The actions that he had been considering were not ones that he should be entertaining with his best-friend's wife! He had felt this as well at the bonding ceremony, but he had expected it then. Why, he wasn't sure. He took a deep breath then let it out slowly. He was beginning to feel calmer. Before he returned to the ship, he would take a much-needed walk around, checking out what had been accomplished and clearing his head at the same time.

T'yshen took down another cup then filled it along with hers. She sat down in front of her cup. "I did not expect you to spend the day here." Spock remained standing and his cup of tea ignored.

"I had not expected Captain Kirk to" He hesitated before the last word, uncertain if that is what he wanted to say.

"He was aware of your discomfort and sought me out to discover the reason."

"And you provided him with the information that he required." He tilted his head slightly. "Do you believe he has privilege?"

She knew of the connection between the two, even if they denied it. Extensions of one another, incomplete if left on their own, yet both believed they acted independently of one another. What one felt, the other felt and, at times, denied. It was a matter that had to be dealt with if this association was to continue.

"I cannot believe that he does not." She noticed he had returned with the casing that contained the swords, given as a bonding gift. Was he rejecting this bonding so soon? "I was not prepared to be shut out as I was, nor as soon."

"Your fears are justified. I reacted improperly." Spock wanted to be here with her. He had sensed a fear of her emotions when he required control. He attempted to replace that fear with his attention to duty. He knew all of this should have been understood. "I was reacting to something I had no control over. I wanted to allay your fears. I could not. I withdrew."

T'yshen stood. "And now, Spock. What do you wish to do."

"Spend the time we have left, together." He laid the case down. "If this causes a problem with duty...So be it." His hand lifted to the paired finger position. "Parted from me and never parted. Never and always touching and touched." He held his breath as her fingers touched his. "I choose thee." His hands pulled her closer as his mouth covered hers. He reached into her thoughts; the barriers fell away easily. He felt her body warm to his touch and to his suggestions.

She removed his tunic, his sweater was next, then his thoughts were to be caressed and aroused. She took his hand and guided him slowly into the sleep area by mutual agreement. She made no objections as he removed her coverall. She helped him with the rest of his uniform, removing it in no time at all. She pulled him to her as she reached deeper into his thoughts.

Spock felt her seductive attack on his thoughts. He resigned himself to not having any control at this evening's ceremony. He tasted her skin, always tasting as the kivas did when it burned. He could lose himself to her so easily! Her control was gentle; never noticeable until it had taken him over completely. He allowed her to possess him, his thoughts and his body. Their bodies molding into one another. Their thoughts moved as one. Both knew their bodies existed separately, but neither felt the separation. Neither felt the other's touches as such; they felt only the seduction, the needs and the reach for satisfaction.

T'yshen lessened her control after a time, permitting him the possession of her thoughts. She succumbed to his desires, feeling the passion and the heat that belonged to their race.

The afternoon passed without a word spoken between them.


Spock reached to the covers and pulled them back onto the bed. He held her, memorizing the sense of her body next to him. The next time he would be near her again this way, would be two years from now. They promised that there would be letters and messages.

It was getting near the time to prepare for tonight's festivities. He drew her close and captured her mouth with his. His tongue tasting her as his need for her governed the passion of the kiss. Her leg wrapped around his, pulling him closer to her. She nipped his lips gently, then took him with a kiss that caused him to moan.

Time was slipping away.

He dressed.

He had to return to the Enterprise to change into his dress uniform. He lifted the long casing onto the table. "I wish you to keep this safe for me. It would distress me if this were to be damaged on board the ship. Merely falling from the wall or shelf could destroy the hilt."

"As you wish."

"Do you want it in the sleep area or in here?" Spock laid the tunic down.

"In the sleep area."

Spock carried the case into the other room. He fastened the hangers to the wall between the dressers, and on either side of the firepot. The casing he placed in the storage unit hidden in the wall. He returned to the living area and picked up his tunic. His hand touched her face. "I will return in thirty minutes. Be prepared." He kissed her then left quickly.

Standard Terran Year: 2281.6

The festivities were being held in the library/communication building. Tables had been covered with some food from the first harvest and from ship's stores. Some delicacies were taken from the stasis units of the smaller vessels and the last of the Romulan ale was brought out. Plans had already been discussed concerning brewing their own ale, with Mr. Scott's assistance, due to his extensive knowledge of 'Engine Room Hooch'.

The Kavifemai were dressed in the finest they had brought from the Homeworld. The women had managed to shed their coveralls in favour of gowns of silks, satins and velvets. The men had managed formal wear of Rihansu styling and some used portions of their dress uniforms without any of the markings. None of them resembled the Rihansu military personnel that came aboard the Enterprise a lifetime ago.

The Federation flag was on display along with the Vulcan standard, with a promise of an original design for Kavifemai within the next year. The Sword of S'harien sat on display. With its shared place in the histories of both worlds, Romulus and Vulcan, it was slowly becoming the symbol of this world.

Captain Kirk waited outside with a few other officers. He was looking around, pleased that the day had worked out as well as it had. He leaned over to Uhura. "Keep an eye out for Spock. He beamed back down about ten minutes ago."

He looked to the nervous officer beside him. "All ready for your new adventure?"

Bennett grinned. "If my heart doesn't stop...I'll be fine." He smoothed the silk of the uniform tunic. "Never had a dress uniform before. It feels strange."

McCoy stuck his head between the two officers. "Don't worry, it gets more uncomfortable as the evening progresses." He mumbled then tapped Bennett's shoulder. "I envy you."

"Thank you, sir." Bennett tugged again at the tunic; everyone else seemed so relaxed in his or her tunics! He looked to the pin that had replaced his usual comm-pin; it was the markings of a Vulcan diplomat and it would serve until one had been designed for this world. "Are we looking for Reldai T'yshen, T'sai Di'on and S'haile S'task?"

Kirk nodded as he continued to look around, occasionally greeting the others as they entered the building. "Spock should be here with them. They might be inside." He touched Uhura's hand and they stepped in, heading directly for the display of the 'official' items. The Federation flag, a printout of their agreement, the sword, the Vulcan books and the Romulan dirhja. "Definitely an interesting start."

A gong sounded and everyone turned towards the doorway. The sound was deep and it would be used for centuries to come to announce special events. Tonight it signaled the arrival of the officials.

"Sir, I discovered that all the cities have this to use for emergencies or warnings, as well as announcements." Carl spoke with pride. "In about a year, I think we will have a lot of announcements."

Kirk had smiled at the 'we' part. It was the right attitude to take when you were assigned to represent an alien world and its people.

Carl looked around the room, waiting with the others then suddenly moved. "I forgot, this is my job." He shared the grin with Kirk as he moved passed him and stood beside T'yshen. He waited for the silence, then cleared his throat. "Assembled Kavifemai. Honoured guests. I am the Federation Consular Representative Carl Bennett. I hold the rank of Lieutenant Commander in the diplomatic division of Starfleet. After today, you will never hear that entire title again." He waited for the comments and the snickers to die down. "I have been asked to introduce, officially, our governing body.

"Reldai T'yshen'cha Sholtan Aduna Spock, our Matriarch. She will function as our ruler until another is chosen or needed." T'yshen stepped forward, she wore the silk robes of the Matriarch, her hair was covered with a long veil-type hood.

"T'sai Di'on, House of Seheik, House of Kavifemai, Aduna S'task. T'sai Di'on will serve as head of our governing council." Di'on stepped forward. Her attire had changed to a gown of satin, low cut, and the pale green accented her skin tone and the necklace. Her hair had been gathered up and fell into gentle curls down her back.

"S'haile S'task, House of S'task, House of Kavifemai. He will serve as Di'on's right hand. He will also see to the formation of the distribution centers and the military force." S'task wore his uniform without any of the markings from his previous world.

"We will also be choosing a council made up of representatives from the cities that have appeared on this world." He stepped back, as did Spock and the ruling trio accepted the approval of the gathering.

Di'on and S'task stepped forward. "We wish to acknowledge Captain Kirk and his crew for making this possible. His trust and belief in our word will be honoured. To the representatives of the Ancient World, and to Vulcan itself, in its acceptance of the descendants of the Declared Ones." The two bowed their heads then S'task cleared his throat. "Enough formalities. Begin the Festival of the Return."

No sooner did he utter the words then the party began. Friends had been made from the interaction between the crews. Music had begun and a few couples moved onto the dance floor, Di'on and S'task among them.

Spock walked with T'yshen to speak with Kirk, standing by the tables of food. "Captain." His head bowed and then to Uhura. "Miss Uhura." Spock chose a glass of Vulcan ale for T'yshen and one for himself. "Your earlier advice was followed."

"But not to the letter I see." Kirk winked at T'yshen, her eyes lowered for a moment. He swirled the brandy in the glass. "I am glad it helped." He drank down the remainder of the brandy then placed it on the table. "Ms Uhura, would you do me the honour of this dance?"

"Certainly, Captain. It would be a pleasure."

Spock watched as Kirk and Uhura moved off into the flurry of movement. He had not appreciated Kirk's visit with T'yshen, but it had helped matters. He had even found the control he needed. Time spent with her had assured him of that. He started from the unexpected touch on his face.

"As bond-mate of a Ruler, you have certain obligations."

Spock raised an eyebrow. She was not allowing him to 'read' her intent. It was a game, she enjoyed conversation, without the mental connections, and to her it could be full of surprises. "And these obligations are...?"

T'yshen leaned closer. "To dance with me."

Spock caught the smile before it showed, but his eyes brightened; that he knew from watching T'yshen. He placed the now empty glasses on the table then bowed low. "Reldai... one must not argue with traditions. May I have the pleasure of this dance?"

T'yshen allowed the slight smile to appear on her lips. Her hand moved into his and they slipped easily into place among the couples. The touching of their hands brought a taste of thoughts to each other. After a few turns around the large room, she met his eyes.

"This is not Vulcan, nor Starfleet. We determine the rules of etiquette."

"And your determination is?" Spock guided them easily with the music avoiding the other dancers.

"That you should kiss me." She whispered in his ear.

Spock felt the hesitation in his body. He knew that he wanted to and T'yshen had picked up on that thought. He understood her meaning but... "Not here." This was his only response to her. There was nothing in his training that would permit him to display how he felt about her in so public a place.

The room was circled again.

When there was a pause in the music, Spock guided her out of the crowd and off to a corner of the room. He met her dark eyes and stopped himself from checking for others around them. This was his concession. His hands pulled her close and his lips touched hers, gently at first then the pressure increased as he drew her closer. He felt her familiar body press against him. His body responded to her, her touch on his thoughts caused a moan deep in his throat.

As his hold loosened, he brought his head up slowly. Her face held a slight flush. Her eyes were dark and inviting. He took a deep breath, as he commanded his body to calm. "I trust these Kavifemai traditions are not always this pleasurable. Nor shared with others."

"Not always." Her whispered tone displayed just how much she had been affected. "One would assume that our time together would have satisfied such urges."

"One would assume so." He ran his fingertips along her jaw then lifted her chin. "Our absence would be noticed."

"Yes, it would." Her hands rested at his waist as she debated all the possibilities.


She nodded.

Spock gathered her into his arms and returned to the dancing.

Dr. McCoy pushed his chair away from the table. "I haven't eaten that much in a long time." He sighed. "Remind me not to eat for the next three days." He looked to Kirk and his second plate of food. "And if you keep eating like that, you won't be eating either." He sat forward and looked at the purple slivers on his plate. "What is that?"

"I was told it resembles a Terran mushroom." Kirk picked up a sliver and offered it to McCoy.

McCoy shook his head. "If I don't know what it is, I am not eating it!"

"Chicken!" Kirk ate the sliver then pointed to the dance floor. "I haven't seen Spock dance this much before." He expected to spend some time talking to his first officer and his wife, but it seemed as if no one else existed for them. That was the way it should be, he added to this silent conversation.

Uhura pushed back her plate. "Well, I'm with McCoy. No food for me after this!" She picked up the glass of wine and finished that off. She contemplated the empty glass. "When did you say beam up was?"

Kirk tapped his comm-pin. "Mr. Conners, time to beam up?"

"Forty-six minutes, Captain."

"Thank you. Kirk out."

"Enterprise standing-by."

Kirk looked to Uhura. "Forty-six minutes."

She grinned. "I heard." She reached over to his plate and picked up a sliver of the purple mushroom. "Finish your meal and then we will have time for more dancing." She licked the tips of her fingers. "I am going to powder my nose." She stood and headed off through the crowd.

"Well you've been told." McCoy grinned.


"A little." He stood and collected the empty plates for the recycling unit. "I'm going to find Chapel."

"Good luck, Bones." Kirk pushed his plate away, unable to finish. He wiped his mouth with the napkin then sat back with his wine to watch the least until Uhura returned.

It had been amazing to be a part of this! He had seen the transformation of the Rihansu officers to Kavifemai colonists who were now celebrating their beginning. Then there was the change in T'yshen as she was named ruler of a world, slightly before her time but he had no doubts as to her abilities. There was a degree of satisfaction in all of it and he couldn't wait to return here in a year or two to see how far they had progressed.

He felt the fingertip travel across his neck, his body shivered and he looked over his shoulder. "Don't do that." He grinned at Uhura as she threatened to do it again. "Not unless you want to dance alone." He sounded threatening but he was grinning too much to make it believable. He drained the remaining wine, then stood.

He offered his hand to her. "May I have the pleasure...?"

"Of course, Captain. Thought you'd never ask..." She smiled then moved into his arms. She was losing herself to the feel of the music and being with Jim. She leaned against him a little more, her chin resting on his shoulder. "Jim."


She smiled at his response. "Can I ask you something?"


"When we beam back up, after duty, can we have dinner together?" She combed the short hair at the back of his neck with her fingertips.

Kirk frowned slightly then looked to his partner. "Sure. I'd like that. Spock will want some time to himself so I doubt we'll have a game tonight."

"My quarters then?" She was not sure she wanted to be a substitute for an evening without Spock. If she worked it right, he'd be pleased that Spock was otherwise engaged.

The cool evenings had been comfortable for the Terrans and the Kavifemai. They were used to the cooler climate and many had found their way out into the moonlight for a bit of fresh air. Spock and T'yshen had already found a quiet spot, off the beaten path, under a native tree.

"The next time the Enterprise is scheduled to be in the area is in two years."

T'yshen nodded.

His fingers played with a length of her hair. "Ambassador Sarek stated that you will be attending the conference at Babel."

"It has been scheduled." T'yshen leaned back against him.

Spock's arm circling her waist, tightened. He rested his cheek against her hair as they watched the native birds dive for the fish. "What will you do with your time?"

"I plan to continue my medical studies. Healer L'effa will require an assistant. The other healers have found people willing to learn as well."

"And your artistic skills will be used to document progress."

"I am not the only one that has that ability."

"I had not expected you to be." Spock turned her around to face him. "Our duty will take us to border patrol for a time and out of touch."

"It is understood." She moved from his arms and walked a few steps away then turned to face him. "It is almost time for you to return. I wish another dance."

"I was not aware you were so interested in that activity." Spock moved closer to her then held her hand as they walked back towards the celebration.

"I am not. It is however an acceptable method for me to be held by you in public."

Spock raised an eyebrow. "One can not dispute logic."

The last official dance was a very old Vulcan tune, reportedly played at all celebrations. The tune held the somber tones of antiquity, with a gentle sound of flutes and lyrette.

As they toured the room, Spock realized how close their separation actually was. Until now it had seemed inevitable but far off. He had never felt his aloneness until now. He had always thought that he was as all Vulcans were meant to be. But she had changed that when the hunger for her company had begun. He thought of the usual games of chess and conversation that he would have with Jim. Would he, now bonded, still find that time as satisfying of his secret desire for company?

"Spock. The others are beaming up."

"It is time." Spock held her hand as they moved off the dance floor. He was surprised that Captain Kirk had not come to say a more personal good-bye. He stood with her off to the side of the room. No one else was around them for the moment. His fingers reached up and brushed her lips. "Thee will be missed."

"As will thee." Her hand reached to the side of his face to reach in and touch his thoughts once more before he left. "We have had much time. More time than many choose to be together."

"It has not been enough." His hand lifted then pressed against her palm. "I had no idea that it would be this difficult. I do not know how my parents spend so much time separated."

"They know of each other. They remain in contact with one another."

Spock found it curious that she would know more about his parents than he did.

His communicator sounded, he tapped the pin. "A moment."

"Aye, sir." The Scottish brogue answered softly, almost as if he understood.

T'yshen lifted her hand in the ta'al, Spock's hand lay gently against hers, palm touching. His arm released her reluctantly as he stepped back... just enough. "Captain's orders?"

She smiled. "Live, My Passion." She whispered.

Spock nodded withdrawing his physical contact from her.

The transporter took him.

T'yshen felt the tingling of the outer edges of the transporter field on the palm of her hand as he disappeared. Her arms wrapped around her body as she felt the aloneness... but there was the bonding thread! He was there. Far away from her, but she still could feel him.

There was a touch on her arm; it was her assistant. She tried to move but could not.

"Reldai, I have a chair for you." Carl touched her arm with a gloved hand. Kirk had asked him to stay close to her in case of any possible reactions from their separation. He pulled the chair closer with his foot then insisted that she sit down. "Captain Kirk said I was to stay close by until you had recovered." He did not quite understand what the concern was about. Kirk had only said that there might be a reaction when Spock beamed up, nothing more was explained. He saw no real point in questioning him further about it. He wasn't going to argue with Kirk. Not when he had that particular look on his face. "If you sit down, I can get you some ale." He waited and then she finally sat down.

Mister Scott looked up from the controls. Spock was not moving.

"Well done, Scotty." Kirk smiled at him.

"Aye, I woulna want ta do that too many times." Both men had understood how tricky that had been. Scott moved from the controls. "I'll be in engineering, if ya need me. We'll be ready to break orbit at your say so, sir."

"Thank you, Scotty." Kirk managed before the doors closed separating the two. He looked to his friend. "You had better sit down before you fall down, Spock." He offered to help but was waved away. Spock sat down on the platform's steps.

"This is most disquieting." Spock took a breath then released it slowly. "A moment, Captain. I will be functional."

"Take as long as you need." Kirk rested a foot on the step beside the Vulcan, leaning against his knee. "We are scheduled to leave orbit in fifteen minutes or so."

"I require only a moment longer, Captain. It is quite different than walking out of a room." Spock felt the numbness begin to leave his body. "How did you..."

"I saw you leave the dance floor." The rest of what he witnessed, he would keep to himself.

Spock nodded then stood. He smoothed the silk of his tunic then tugged at the back hem. He took a breath and could still smell her perfume. "I am functional." He had learned very well how to lie concerning his mental and physical condition.

"Then we are expected on the bridge, Mr. Spock." Kirk wondered when Spock had become so good at masking his reactions, but not quickly enough for him, and he doubted the Vulcan's words.

"Very well, Captain."

The usual bridge noises greeted them. "Report, Mr. Chekov."

"We are preparing to leave orbit. Kavifemai Station is waiting for you." Mr. Chekov stepped down from the center seat as he spoke, smoothly moving into his usual helm position.

Kirk sat down slowly; he tapped the channel that would connect him to the surface. "Captain Kirk, here." Kirk heard the slight whisper beside him as T'yshen's image filled the screen. He looked to Spock, not even his expression hinted that the sound had come from him.

"Captain. Di'on and S'task are occupied with the celebration. I have been asked to extend our wishes for a safe journey. Long life and prosperity."

"It has been an honour, Reldai T'yshen. Best wishes to the Kavifemai. Enterprise out." Kirk held the image for a second then closed the circuit. He cleared his throat. "Mr. Chekov, on to our next destination. Warp four when possible." Kirk stood. "Spock and I will be in our quarters changing. Formal attire is too much for the bridge. You have the comm."

"Aye, sir."

Spock and Kirk moved to the lift, giving the command for level five. Kirk turned to Spock. "Ready for our regular boring routines, Spock?"

"It will be a refreshing change." Spock met Kirk's eyes. "A game, Captain?"

"Sure. I'll change, check in with Chekov and I'll meet you in the think tank?" Kirk wondered if this was Spock's way of getting things back to normal.

"Appropriate, Captain." Spock followed Kirk out, as he usually did. "Fifteen minutes?"

"Should be enough time." Kirk headed into his quarters.

Spock continued on to the next set of doors. He removed the dress uniform; cleaning of it would be arranged later. His regular duty uniform would be pulled on after the quick sonic shower.

He had placed a fresh tunic on the bed and, as he picked it up, he noticed a small gift box. Sitting on the pillow. He picked it up and opened the lid, out of the silk fabric he pulled a vial of a familiar green liquid. "D'vel-sha'fal." He whispered. The formula that she had given him to induce the plak tow. He wondered what had possessed her to even consider this. A note sat folded decoratively inside. He balanced everything in his hand and opened the note. He smiled at the message.

'If it has been too long.... Empty vial and call to me. T'yshen.'

"Spock, are you ready?" Kirk's voice called from the doorway.

"A moment, Captain." He tucked the vial and the note back into place. His hand lingered on the box after he placed it on his bureau. He promised himself that two years would be long enough... For him.

Her quarters had not been set for dinner as was discussed. Uhura had sensed when Spock and Kirk left the bridge, that they were planning to share an evening of chess. As usual. Jim had contacted her, shortly after leaving, asking if he could take a rain check on their dinner. He had sounded apologetic for letting it slip his mind that they had plans.

She slipped into her pajamas and stretched out along the couch. "It's been too long hasn't it?" She was talking to herself again about this strange association. They were 'there' for each other when necessary and that was out of familiarity. It had been a long time since they had been 'an item' and it was their desires for separate careers that had ended the relationship. Mutually, no anger or resentment. It had seemed, looking back, that it was the way things were supposed to work out. As if staying together would have been the worst thing they could have done.

She sipped the coffee she had poured for herself, not the best thing to have before going to bed but who was going to sleep? She sighed. "I am not the least bit surprised." She thought about the last time they had been together. "Four... no five years ago." She smiled. "At the very least, we have remained friends and I suppose that is something."

Standard Terran Year: 2283.4

Standard Kavifemai Year: pos'Lashan 2.1

Dawn had become her favourite time. T'yshen still found pleasure in watching the suns rise, no matter how many times it had been witnessed, or how illogical it appeared to be. She tossed the long dark hair back over her shoulder, then picked up the lap board and charcoal stylus. Sitting cross-legged in the sand was not difficult for her and she found that she could balance the board more efficiently.

Carl brushed back the strand of blonde hair that had escaped the tie. He was tall and lanky compared to the Kavifemai but well built. He pulled off the soft-shoes, then walked across the warm sand, wondering for the umpteenth time, when did she ever sleep? He walked to her side then sat down. He checked over her shoulder at what she had been sketching. She was good! He wasn't surprised because she spent a great deal of time at her artistic pastimes.

Carl shaded his grey eyes against the brightness of the sunrise. This morning the colours were gold, blue and a deeper violet.

"You should still be resting." She drew the line then used her finger to feather the image and it began to resemble the clouds. She was aware that Carl had been awake for most of his customary sleep period, studying a massive amount of information on the Rihansu and Vulcan people. He had explained that maybe he could find the even ground that the Kavifemai were looking for to present to the Rihansu to make peace with their ancient cousins, the Vulcans.

"I came across some information and I needed to ask you about it." Carl did not usually come to T'yshen for information such as this unless he had to.

"Proceed." T'yshen tilted her head analyzing her drawing as she listened. She had found that Carl and she were spending a great deal of time together, as of late. He had referred to it as 'being the odd man out'. Different from everyone else. Both aliens to this world and the rest of its inhabitants.

"The Kolinahr. Can anyone learn this?" He had surprised her with the question. "Or do you have to be Vulcan?"

"One can choose to follow the teachings. One can become d'Vel'nahr; a rough translation would be a Vulcan by choice. It is a way of life and thought. It does not begin and end with green blood and pointed ears."

This made Carl laugh slightly. He looked down at the sand, took a handful and let it fall through his fingers. He looked to her. "Will you teach me?"

"You must be aware that it will take most of your lifetime to learn. I have completed my formal training but I have not reached Kolinahr."

"When will you?" He asked honestly.

"When I am able to separate myself from my emotions. It is quite possible that I will never attain that level. There are few that attain that level easily." T'yshen had spent too much time speaking with Carl and had missed capturing the image she had hoped for. Tomorrow's sunrise would give her another opportunity. "If you wish to begin, we can start with the Tal't'lee. The first step is to learn to meditate."

"You mean now!" Carl had been surprised at her agreement to this so quickly.

"Do you not wish to begin?" T'yshen stood, brushing the sand from her pants and the tail of her top. "Humans have a saying, there is no time like the present."

Carl nodded.

The items she had been using were placed in a haversack made of heavy silk. Her hair fell forward as she reached for the bag. Carl brushed it back and held it until she stood. "Thank you."

"You're welcome. I just thought there would be a lot of reading before I started anything." He had learned not to offer help unless it was really needed. She had made it here with all these things; therefore she could manage the trip back. It was hard not to simply take the lapboard and carry it himself, but he realized that it was a human and chivalrous need.

"If you learn to meditate, your lessons will become clearer and easier to remember. It will also increase your ability to shut out sounds and senses that can be distracting."

They walked together, in step, until they reached the edge of the city. T'yshen stopped at the drinking fountain. She had been on the beach meditating for hours while she waited for the suns to rise. The water was most refreshing.

Carl stopped and pulled his soft boots back on.

Carl shared quarters with her, sort of. There had been a set of three rooms, roughly half of a dome unit, added onto hers. It had not been in the original plans to have individual units for everyone and they had been limited in the number of prefabricated units. Most of the Kavifemai were accustomed to shared billeting. She and Carl had not been expected to share quarters and this was the compromise. Besides, he seemed to spend most of his time with her or in the library trying to understand all that he felt he needed to.

"I'll make breakfast if you're hungry?" Carl tried to find different physical activities to involve himself with. Some new laws and agreements were needed as situations came up and they would be taken to the council meetings for approval. Their work involved discussing and writing out the necessary paperwork. It made him restless and he needed physical activity at times. "Fruit salad and some rice?"

"Appropriate." T'yshen moved through to her sleep area. She placed her supplies in the cabinet. She brushed through her hair then fashioned it into a braid. Her workload today included harvesting and then later assisting the doctor with the annual physicals.

The health of the Kavifemai was important. They could not afford to have a virus or an infection go unnoticed. In the past two years, the only difficulty had been with diet. As everyone's systems became accustomed to the native foods, the problem disappeared.

"How's the Enterprise doing?" Carl called into the room. He had delivered a communiqué to her yesterday. Actually it had been a letter, handwritten, as was all of Spock's contact with her. It had taken him a month to recognize the scrolling of her name.

"Nothing of any special interest. There have been some altercations along the Rihansu border. Sarek has been requested to intervene on the Federation's behalf." She moved into the kitchen. "They do not expect to return in time for the festivities this year. The Enterprise has been placed on patrol." There was much more in the letter that would not be shared.

She fell into the rhythm of preparing the meal with Carl. It had not been difficult to adjust to the shared quarters, all of the units were shared by either couples or two or more individuals. Most shared even a sleeping space but these special arrangements had been made for the Vulcan and Terran. Single quarters were a luxury that this world could not afford as of yet, but a few units had been built using the limited supplies available and of their inhabitant's design. It was an interesting time.

"Have you ever done any sailing, T'yshen?"

"I do not have knowledge of any water sport. There are few large bodies of water on Vulcan. I lived on the Forge." T'yshen poured the tea and the kessa juice. She sat opposite Carl, as was their custom.

"It was a hobby of mine. I thought I might get a few people interested, get together and build a boat. Then I could teach them to sail." Carl missed living near the water as he had on Earth. "It would be an alternative way to travel and it would not require any use of energy."

"It may be worth pursuing."

"Would you be interested in learning?" Carl leaned back slightly. "I guess before anyone learns to sail, they should learn to swim."

"A logical precaution." T'yshen finished her meal first. "You wish to begin your lessons today?"

"How about tonight? It might be easier than trying to find the time today."

Her head bowed accepting his decision.

The communication unit sounded.

T'yshen touched the button that would make the connection. "Proceed."

The viewer did not come on. "T'yshen, Di'on has begun her labour." S'task stated.

"I will contact L'effa and will be there directly. T'yshen out." She switched to the priority channel and contacted the medical unit. She informed the doctor of the situation and she was instructed to see to Di'on, he was occupied with another birth. "Very well. Contact me when you are available."

T'yshen had this responsibility until others could complete their training. This procedure she had seen to on six other occasions this year. Her medical satchel was on the small table near the door. "Carl, I will be attending Di'on."

"I thought I could go with you?" Carl had been picking up the dishes, placing them in the sink, as he spoke. "My driving is still better than yours." He was teasing again. He knew T'yshen preferred to walk everywhere. "Besides, I can call H'Sana and let her know we won't be there for the harvest today. She can schedule us for another day." He gave her that, I've out logiced you again look. He smiled when she agreed.

They climbed into the aircar. He set the controls then headed out at a good speed.


Di'on was becoming tired, as was natural, and refusing to sleep. She had already been awake most of the night and needed to rest before the actual birth. When T'yshen arrived, she allowed Di'on another hour of pacing and complaining then went in and used her Venda prah to relax her. Di'on's thoughts settled enough to sleep for a short time.

S'task had made tea for all of them and was grateful for Di'on's peace at the moment. He had told Carl of the night's activities and Di'on's constant pacing, as the contractions became stronger. It was a waiting game now, and that was more often harder than the birth.

S'task had been placed in charge of the planet's supplies. He was skilled at organizing and keeping track of the many items stored in the numerous places on the planet. A very different occupation from being a weapons officer for the Romulan Fleet.

Carl had begun to explain to S'task his idea on building the boat. He explained how it could be used as transportation, recreation and as a means to fish. The few species that had been discovered were edible. Although Carl was the only one that had eaten fish before, it was turning into a Kavifemai delicacy.

S'task thought about the idea and they began to search through the records to see if the supplies were available. It gave them both something to do while they waited for the birth of the child.

T'yshen came out of the sleep area. "S'task, it is time."

S'task jumped up and followed T'yshen into the sleeping area. As he entered he calmed himself in preparation for the event that was to follow. He moved to Di'on's side, suddenly remembering that this woman once commanded a Starfleet with ease. She had led a group of individuals to a new beginning and now would see one of her wishes realized.

He held her hand, wiped her brow with a cool cloth and generally kept her calm as they waited.

T'yshen moved off to the side of the room to prepare the paraphernalia required for the birth. Plasma-sealer, bathing solution for the infant, blanketing and a diaper. The tricorder sat on the bed, bleeping quietly as it kept track of Di'on's progress.

S'task spoke to Di'on softly, encouraging her to relax as much as possible. She gave him a few glances that made him laugh and then apologize for his annoyance.

Di'on began using the techniques that T'yshen had taught her to help control the pain and discomfort. Di'on had her doubts that it would work but soon it became apparent that it was. She felt the next contraction much sooner than she expected and a sudden desire to bear down. She held tightly to S'task's hands as he supported her from behind.

Reluctantly T'yshen placed her hand lightly on Di'on's stomach to monitor the contractions. She felt the emanations of joy from the couple. The three were momentarily sharing a high level of emotion. T'yshen would need time to meditate to cleanse herself of the experience.

Di'on felt the next contraction as it seemed to totally drain all the strength and energy from her in a wave. She concentrated on the function her body required. Her body suddenly relaxed. She looked to T'yshen, then T'yshen looked to her. "The head is crowning." At the moment, Di'on envied the Vulcan's calm as her body demanded her attention. Only this time, it did not seem as uncontrolled; this time the sensation was more fluid and sudden.

"A moment, Di'on." She was clearing the breathing passage. She placed the new life in the sterile wrapping. "It is female." She cauterized the umbilical cord then passed the small crying infant into Di'on's arms.

T'yshen busied herself in cleaning up the soiled and disposable materials. She moved from the room, giving the parents some privacy. She entered the kitchen to clean up.

Carl appeared at her side with some tea. "How is everyone?"

"Di'on is, as expected, fatigued. The female infant appears to be functional." She sipped on the tea as she began to feel the weariness creeping into her system. She was just beginning to feel the need for sleep. It was not uncommon for her to go without sleep, with mixed activities, for up to four days at a time.

"I've called Dr. L'effa. He said he'll be here in about twenty minutes." Carl watched T'yshen, she was tired. "We can head home then."

T'yshen did not argue the point. She finished her tea then headed back into the bedroom. Di'on was enjoying the little one. T'yshen ran the scanner over both of her patients, checking the readings then began to prepare the bath for the infant.

"We have not thought of a name yet. Do you have any suggestions?" S'task passed the bundle over to T'yshen.

"The naming of a child should rest with the parents, not out-siders." T'yshen washed the infant quickly, expertly, as she had performed this duty on a regular basis lately. "L'effa will be here in ten minutes. I will take my leave then." As she lifted the baby from the warm water, she started to cry. T'yshen began to rock the little one, her fingertips touched the infant's temple and the baby's eyes closed. "She is hungry still." She passed the wrapped infant into her father's arms. "Carl would like to see the child."

"I'll take her through now." S'task carried his daughter through to experience the doting affections of another.

Di'on had been watching T'yshen. "Have you heard from Spock?"

"The Enterprise has been assigned duty along the border." T'yshen finished tidying up. The items were placed back in her satchel and she looked to Di'on. "Has your fatigue eased?"

"Yes. You look tired?"

"It is time for rest." T'yshen bowed her head slightly. "I will take leave of you now. Rest." She did not wait for Di'on's response.

The doctor's timing was excellent. He walked in as T'yshen entered the living area. "L'effa, Di'on is recovering." She handed him the tricorder with all the readings. He nodded. "If I am no longer required, I will be returning to quarters."

"Your help was most appreciated, Reldai T'yshen." He bowed his head slightly.


Carl had prepared a small meal for T'yshen while she showered -- some fruit and the mushrooms she liked so much. He had even managed a glass of Vulcan ale, warmed the way she liked it. He was in the process of placing it on the table near her bed, when she came out of the shower.

She was not covered.

Neither had expected the other.

"I'm sorry. I thought you would take longer." He felt his face warm as he headed out of the room as quickly as he could. Vulcans may not be embarrassed by nudity but Humans could be. That was the first time he had ever ventured in there and probably the last!

Carl stood in the open entranceway, glad of the cool breeze. There would be a rainstorm tonight and he loved to watch them. The doorway had an overhang, so, as long as the wind did not pick up too much, he could stand here and enjoy the rain. He stepped back in for a minute to pour himself a seldom-enjoyed luxury that he had saved from the Enterprise... some brandy. He poured a generous amount and then went back to stand in the doorway.

He could see the sky darkening off in the distance. The sky would take on an almost rust colour in a storm and the smell after reminded him of Earth. A fresh smell, full of oxygen but just slightly different.

The brandy tasted exceptionally good this time. He felt like such an idiot; being in the room when she came out of the shower, especially like that! They had shared the quarters for almost two years and this had never even threatened to happen. He lifted the glass to take another sip of brandy and tasted air. "Shit!" He had only one third of the bottle left. He debated, then came to the conclusion that he wanted to drink it more than he wanted to save it. He went back in, poured himself another glass and returned to the doorway just as the rain began.

He lifted the glass in a toast to the pleasures of watching a rainstorm, then sipped the amber liquid. The rain was starting to drip from the over-hang and drop into the sand. There were times he missed Earth; this was one of them. A night when all he wanted was some company, maybe a bar to visit, but none had been set up yet. "Maybe I should set one up?" He asked himself. He had this sudden overwhelming desire to have a woman, a Terran preferably, to watch this with. His arms folded across his chest, careful of the glass of brandy.

The rain was getting heavy and the lightning was beginning. He heard the roll of thunder, felt it in the flooring then the air crackled. His head turned in the direction of the sound, he saw the 'ghost' of the bolt. It had hit roughly in the center of the field of wheat. The next one caused a small tree to explode far off on the other side of the field. That did not happen too often.

He took a deep breath of the damp, clean air; it made him wish for a trip home. He lifted the glass of brandy and emptied it. He placed it on the small table just inside the door, beside her bag.

Carl stayed there alone for almost two hours just watching the rain.

T'yshen came out of her sleep area and looked to the figure sitting in the open doorway. She wondered why he enjoyed the rain so much? She found it too cool and damp to find any pleasure in it. She placed the small tray of empty dishes on the counter. Picking up the folded coverlet from the back of the couch, she wrapped it around herself and stood behind Carl.

Carl felt the blanket brush his shoulder, he looked up surprised she was still awake. "I'm sorry, I keep forgetting how much this affects you."

"I am not cold with this coverlet." She sensed the melancholy he was feeling. "Is there a problem, Carl?" She knelt down, tucking her legs under the cover. It was getting damper, but she sensed that he needed company. "You do not usually remain for this long."

Carl pursed his lips, looked down to the ground as the rain-forced patterns into the sand. "Feeling a little lonely." His eyes followed the travels of a leaf along the small stream of water. "Rain does that to me... So does brandy." He leaned back against the frame, shifting his position so he faced her a little more. "I think I've had too much of both." He stretched out his long legs; they reached to the edge of the dry sand under the over-hang.

"Do you wish to work on your lessons?" She was not certain of how to deal with him at times.

"It would give me something to do besides feel sorry for myself." He looked out to the clearing sky. "Sure you're up to it?"

"I would not have made the offer otherwise." T'yshen stood and waited for him to stand and close the door. "It does leave a pleasing scent in the air."

"One of my favourites." Carl accepted the hot tea she had poured for him. A pot was usually on the go. "This is another. Which tea is this?"

"Master's tea." T'yshen sat with Carl on the couch, the blanket still wrapped around her. "When I was a child, I picked the leaves to make the tea. There is a rhyme I recited to remember how it was to be picked."

"What was it?" Carl smiled trying to think of T'yshen as a child. He was having a difficult time with that image. She seemed too grown-up to ever have been a child. He had recalled how surprised he had been when he found her in the garden picking leaves and that she knew how to dry them using sand.

"K'rhtha, mah'ta, sh're, kh'aa, lhm'ta, hla'meth, tri'hla." She said softly with a remembered cadence. "You were to pick three leaves of each, a layer of thin fabric then begin again."

"Can we start now?"

T'yshen nodded. "It would be preferable on the floor. Cross-legged and remove your shoes. This position is the loshiraq."

Carl complied with the requests. "Ready." He was too anxious.

"A few deep breaths." She breathed with him. "Close your eyes, your hands relaxed and open." She pulled the covers tighter around herself. "Think of something that causes you to relax. It can be a scene, a scent or a sound. Find it within your mind." She waited a moment. "Allow it to fill your thoughts." T'yshen relaxed her shielding slightly, feeling his emotions relaxing. "You are a quick study. If you feel my touch, ignore it; it is for monitoring your progress." She moved closer to him.

She waited and watched as his body began to relax. He was doing well.

Carl began to feel the difference. He took another deep breath as he thought of the rain. How it sounded. How it felt. How it smelled. He stopped feeling the sensation of sitting and of the things that surrounded him. He tried to concentrate on feeling only the rain. He imagined the rain hitting his hand as he stuck it out to collect the rain. The heaviest rainfall he had ever felt hitting his hands. The droplets of cool rain hitting his palm and then running along its length, then under it, feeling the droplets fall. Then he imagined it moving up his arms and then onto his shoulders. His face turned up so that the rain fell onto his face and then through his hair. He softened the sensation of hard rain to a mist and sighed.

Carl felt her presence. It was like a circling of warmth. He could still feel the rain striking his body, feel it against his skin. It was a warm and cool rain mixed and it gave him the oddest sensation.

[Carl] She felt his thoughts jump. [It is T'yshen]

[Who else would it be?] He thought to himself with a smile.

[Relax. I can 'hear' what you wish to say.]

His thoughts relaxed again, he felt the warmth, grow as he floated towards it. [I can hear you.]

[You will not be orensu-kan for too long.]

Her voice was velvet and she seemed to be whispering. He could even understand the word she had used. He had a mental image of someone just beginning. [A meld?]

[This is only a touch. A meld is much deeper, more powerful.]

[This is nice.] Carl was losing himself to this feeling.

[It is time to return. You must learn to control the time and depth as well.] T'yshen had felt his calm and how he reacted to the sensation of rain. She moved from him slowly, allowing him to come through the last of this voyage on his own.

Carl felt his body breathe deeply. He felt as if he had been asleep too long and his body was heavy and difficult to move. Another breath and he felt the floor and the air around him. Another breath and he regained control of all his senses. He tipped his head forward slowly, then opened his eyes.

She was there. Her eyes were bright and he could still 'hear' her thoughts. He knew it was more than likely a dream as he lifted his hand. It touched her face before he expected it to; she did not pull away. He cradled her cheek; his hand pulled her to him and his lips made contact with hers. Carl heard a moan and then realized it was his own voice.

"You taste so good!" His hand dropped and when he opened his eyes, he was alone!

He looked around. He took a deep breath as he realized that he was lying on the floor, the blanket she had used was on the floor beside him. Had he dreamt it?

"Drink some of this. It will help your return." T'yshen handed him a mug filled with the warm Vulcan ale.

Carl sat up. If anything had happened, nothing showed on her face or in her voice. He accepted the ale and drank a good portion of it down. He felt the warmth seep into his body, somehow waking up the parts of him that were still numb. Should he ask her? He wasn't sure he wanted to feel like an idiot twice in one night!

He'd let it go and accepted it as a dream for now.

"This is good." Carl had only tried the ale cold and did not care for it. "Have you added something to it?"

"The spices it is made from become more potent when it is warmed. Mild tastes are not discernable to Vulcans." T'yshen had her robe on. She had become cold with even the blanket around her. "The sensation you experience with the rain was most unexpected. I comprehend why you spend the time now." She felt her eyes close slightly. "If you have recovered sufficiently, I require rest."

"I'll be fine. I'll finish this then hit the sack." Carl stood. He felt relaxed as if he had been sleeping for days. "Can we do this again?"

"Every day until you are comfortable doing this on your own. Then it will remain at your discretion." T'yshen placed her mug in the sink. "I will take my leave." Her head bowed causing her hair to fall forward, with a brush of her hand she replaced it over her shoulder.

"Good-night." Carl bowed his head to her.


A trip to the near-by city of Kheh'Kahr to attend the council meeting was next on the agenda. S'task suggested that Carl come along to present his idea concerning the sailboat. Di'on had elected to remain with her newborn and asked T'yshen to serve as her replacement. S'task was Lashan'Kahr's representative and Di'on's usual position was to serve as the chairperson.

The trip over had been uneventful. The wheat fields were doing well especially after the rainstorm ten days ago. The breeze was light, not too dry or warm and the sky was cloudy. In total, it would be a three-day trip and accommodations had been arranged through the use of a vacant unit. Some units had been left empty due to recent nuptials and the largest of the units was offered to them.

"S'task and I can take this room. That will leave the other for you." Carl began to walk towards the room with her bag.

"I will not require rest tonight. I will meditate in the living area." T'yshen stated. "I will return in thirty minutes. I wish to speak to the Healer on a matter." She bowed her head to the two and left.

Carl dropped into a near-by chair with a sigh. "I give up!"

S'task looked up from preparing the tea. "Give what up?"

Carl started. He had actually forgotten S'task was there. He didn't know what to do; speak to S'task and get his opinion or just let everything drop. He sighed then mumbled to himself. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained." He turned towards S'task. "The more time we spend together, the harder it seems to know her."

"Why would you, as you put it, want to know her?" S'task had learned many of the Terran's phrasings but not always sure of their actual meaning. Carl had learned their language well and spoke it easily now, but he would use sayings that did not always make sense. He walked over to Carl with the tea. It had been a long and thirsty drive. Any liquid would have been welcomed. He sat down opposite Carl in another armchair. A chair like this would be helpful for Di'on to nurse D'amae. He would speak to someone about acquiring one. "You have known her for almost two years, surely by now there is some knowledge of one another." He stated innocently.

"There are things that I thought I understood about her and they seem to be changing as quickly as I learn them."

S'task was not following his meaning. "Such as?"

"She is spending more and more time alone or in meditation." Carl heard how frustrated his voice sounded. He tried to calm the reaction.

S'task sat back in the chair, resting his feet, as Carl had, on the low footstool. He frowned slightly. "Of course, she needs this, she is an acolyte. She is Vulcan and not as we are."

"I am not understanding." Carl had the impression that in that statement there was supposed to be an answer, but he had obviously missed the point totally.

S'task thought a moment. "Her life had been lived for a single purpose, to succeed T'Pau as Matriarch. T'yshen is, what in your language would be called, royalty. She has to remain separate from most, or she can not rule." He sipped his tea. "T'yshen is Vulcan. Not Rihansu. This is at times something that I find myself forgetting. There is a difference... an attitude about them. They have a self-awareness. The Vulcan is trained to hide, almost deny any emotion. That is why some Vulcans left and traveled to Romulus, centuries ago." He wasn't sure if he was giving Carl the answers that he needed. "Is there something specific that you are trying to accomplish?"

"Friendship. That's all." Carl sipped on the tea, knowing that wasn't the whole truth. He looked at S'task, then felt this sudden panic that maybe his friend knew exactly what he meant. He tried to look away but managed to only make himself seem more nervous and unsure. "I guess I'll put my bag in the other room. When she needs to sleep..." Carl shrugged then disappeared into 'his' room.

S'task continued to wondered about the Terran. He had never really met one before he had boarded the Enterprise. He had found them to be similar to the Rihansu, much more so than he thought. They had secrecy about them that he did not like. It was not a negative feeling, just that, in their language, words had many meanings and friendship was one. As S'task understood it, Carl already had a friendship with T'yshen... so he was not sure of what Carl was referring to.

The meeting was to convene in the earlier hours of the following day. S'task wished that Di'on had come with D'amae, he would have had some company! He finished his tea and then closed his eyes for a time; this chair was much too comfortable to waste.

There was a noise and S'task sat up at T'yshen's entrance. His head bowed to her. "I trust you were able to accomplish your errand successfully?"

"The matter was dealt with." T'yshen noticed that her bag was not where she had left it. "Carl moved my bag to the other room?"

S'task nodded. "I will get it for you. Carl went to rest awhile ago."

T'yshen went in to the kitchen and poured herself some tea. She entered the common area just as S'task was placing her bag near the entrance to his room.

"A game of chess?" S'task was not tired and, if T'yshen was to meditate, it would be after the household was quiet.

"It would pass the time." T'yshen took the closer chair at the small table with the chessboard. She lifted the piece. "It is one from Enterprise stores." The pawn had the same weight and feel as the set in Spock's quarters. "How is Di'on coping with motherhood?"

"As she does everything else.... to perfection." He smiled, proud of his new family. "And how are you coping with being alone?"

T'yshen was surprised at his inquiry, he was not usually this inquisitive concerning her habits. None of the Kavifemai appeared to be. No one had even asked how her day would progress; there was never the small talk with her that she heard among the others. "I am not certain of your meaning. I am not alone."

"I meant without your bond-mate." It was a difficult question to ask; he was not certain whether she would answer it or tell him he should not be asking the question.

T'yshen was not certain of how to answer his inquiry. She wished to tell him that he had no right to the answer but this was not a taboo subject for Romulans or Terrans. "I comprehend why he will not attend. I accept that he will not be in attendance. I am sharing his activities through his communications." T'yshen tilted her head slightly. "Is that the information you require?"

The game had gone quickly; half the pieces were off the board.

"Do you miss his presence?" S'task had suddenly decided to turn this into an inquiry concerning Vulcan bondings. A far more plausible subject for him to discuss with her, rather than a friendship with Carl. "I am curious about the Vulcan bond. I had heard that certain things were experienced even over a great distance. Perhaps I should have been more precise, forgive my awkwardness."

"I know he lives. I will know when he ceases to be. We will be drawn together when it is his Time." She was still not sure what information he wished.

"His Time?" S'task met her eyes, the look told him not to ask. She would not say anymore. He looked back to the board, moved his piece then leaned back in the chair. He was losing this game! He folded his arms and decided to concentrate on the game a little more. He would attempt a different approach tomorrow, if there was time.

Carl turned in the bed; he was thirsty. He remembered where he was because of that. He had found he was always thirsty when he visited Kheh'Kahr, blaming it on the fields of wheat. Covers were flipped back and he padded his way to the kitchen. The built-in lighting came on at its nighttime setting when his weight registered on the floor. He poured himself some kessa juice, then leaned against the counter to drink it. As his eyes adjusted to the light level, he was able to discern T'yshen's form.

She wore her heavier sleepwear; her hair was loose and had begun to fall forward on either side of her head, so he could barely see her face. He could see the sparkle in her hair and as he watched her, he had to shake the feeling that she might have been a statue. She had been this way for two hours, and would remain so for another two and then suddenly she would stand. Not stiffly as he did, but a fluid graceful motion seemingly without any effort.

He smiled to himself as he recalled the first time he came across her like this. He had thought she had died! After that, she told him when she was preparing to meditate. He was certain that she had appreciated the humour in the situation but had never showed it.

He looked at his watch; he had three hours of possible sleep before it was time to get up. He left the glass for the morning clean up and moved quietly back towards the bedroom. He paused only once as he came closer to her, wondering if she was ever aware of him watching her.

He wasn't sure he wanted her to know.

When he crawled into his bed, he found the sheets had cooled. He flipped the covers back over himself and thought of how lonely he had been feeling lately. He pulled the pillow in tightly, something to cuddle up with!

Sleep took him quickly.


The council meeting had been a long one for some reason. It seemed as if they had more to talk about than usual. T'yshen had managed to chair the meeting with ease, allowing discussions to continue until points were being brought up for a second time; then she would call for the vote. Among the council's decisions was approval of the delegates to the next Federation council meeting. T'yshen and Carl were the logical choices for the first meeting; after that a native representative would be added. Transportation could be accomplished in the cruisers with warp capabilities. The journey would take twelve days and they would have to leave before the festival. All agreed on the arrangements and would trust T'yshen and Carl in presenting their world to the rest of the Federation.

The plans for the boat had been well received and Carl had been surprised that a few Kavifemai had even sailed before! The construction would begin as soon as possible and the list of engineers were consulted. They would oversee the building of the boat and they discovered that there were actually plans that were in the computer banks. Carl's only disappointment was in the fact that this would all begin as he was leaving for the conference.

Everyone had been pleased at the discovery that supplies were growing and that trade with other worlds would be possible within the following year. A report had been drawn up on the planet's wealth and their needs. From there, the negotiations would begin.

One of the older citizens brought up the subject of setting up some type of currency. "Eventually, it will be needed. For the present, we have little need to trade among ourselves. " J'ekon stated. "Now I would like to set up an alehouse. How do I do that with only wheat that does not belong to me to trade? Personally, we only own what we arrived with."

"Could we not set up a credit system. Use units for one hour of work and determine the worth of an item?" T'yshen looked to the faces around the table. Each seemed to have ideas that were worth considering.

"The problem begins when someone considers his work or value to be more than another." S'task had already run into this problem with the bartering standard that had been set when everything began.

J'ekon, being one of the elders, had some experience with this and understood. "I have had the same problem here."

"Maybe this is something that we can discuss at the Federation conference?" Carl was getting interested in the conversation; this was the same problem he had run into with S'task about the boat. "They must have run into the problem before."

"But do you not believe that, as a society, we should be capable of making this determination on our own?" T'yshen faced Carl.

"In theory, yes. We have already seen how if someone holds two positions, they expect double rations or double the quarters. Besides, if J'ekon sets up this ale house, how do we pay? With more wheat?" Carl smiled at the few chuckles around the table.

"That is my point." J'ekon stated. "Why can we not set a standard. If you work one hour, you receive a unit of credit. For the ale, perhaps the expense could be one quarter of a credit." He had given this some thought after overhearing some public conversations on the matter. "It would provide a simple system until we could implement a more viable one. If it is agreed upon, we could implement it on the Day of Festival, with everyone receiving an equal amount."

T'yshen watched the faces as the discussion continued, it seemed an agreeable solution if only temporary.

"I am willing to give it a try. We can leave it up to the people in charge of scheduling work to help us decide on the worth of the jobs." J'ekon was not one to allow ideas to float around, he believed either it should be voted on or discarded at this point. "We have to set it up knowing there will be problems and set a date to revise it."

T'yshen sensed this was amenable to everyone, so it was presented for a vote. It passed. On Festival Day, it would be explained and would run for six months. That would allow for a period of adjustment. Everyone would be given one thousand units of credit.

A days work had been done and the meeting was adjourned until tomorrow.

After two more days of discussions and plans, S'task, Carl and T'yshen headed home. All of them were pleased about one aspect of the meeting or another. Carl was the driver heading home, S'task wanted to sleep in the back.

"You chaired the meeting well."

"I should not have made any suggestions; that was an incorrect position for the chair." She had been disappointed that she had found herself caught up in the discussion.

"No one objected. In the meetings I have gone to in the past, Di'on has always made suggestions." He had set the course and sat back to watch the scenery. He would have to check the readings every now and then and take over the guidance when they entered the city. "Are you looking forward to the Federation conference?"

"I accept that the duty must be seen to. I accept my responsibility and will function accordingly." T'yshen felt neither pleasure nor displeasure at the upcoming trip.

"Are you planning to do work on your drawings in the morning?"

"Possibly." T'yshen did not understand the reason for the change in subject or the question. "Your reason for the inquiry?"

"You are not as Vulcan out there. Easier to talk to." Carl kept his eyes on the scenery and the headings.

"It is not logical that you would experience this. I am the same person." She looked to the Terran. This was not the first time she became curious about his thought patterns, but this was the first time she sensed hostility.

"You might be the same person, but you act differently." Carl continued to study the control panel to avoid looking at her. "I'm just trying to have a casual conversation with you and you turn it into a dissertation."

"You appear to be displaying some form of hostility."

Carl glared at her. "Yes, I am."

"May I inquire as to what the cause may be?"

"No, you may not!" Carl regretted the words as soon as he had said them, but could not think of any way to counter them.

"Very well." T'yshen returned to the customary silence.

In the back seat, S'task shook his head, not understanding what either of them was thinking.


The conference was to be held on a neutral planet. This place held many inter-galactic conferences and was well known to most of the delegates. It was the planet, Babel.

Carl stepped onto the ramp of the small vessel. He turned to offer his hand to T'yshen. This had been the first time since the aircar incident that they had actually spoken. That had been over two weeks ago.

"Watch the step at the end, it's uneven." Carl held her hand for only a moment. This time he released it before she withdrew it. He had been spending his time alone, as she had. He was getting in lots of practice at meditating and ignoring her presence. The Vulcan writings had called it, 'Mastery of the Unavoidable'.

The touch of her hand had reminded him of that 'pseudo-kiss' he thought he had shared with her and the dreams that followed on numerous occasions. But every time he woke from the dream, something about it hinted at the fact that it had really happened.

Accommodations had been arranged in the Vulcans' section of the housing units. There was someone waiting for their luggage, assuring them all would be delivered promptly. Now there was just their registration to see to and then the wait to be formally introduced to the council.

As they entered the large room, T'yshen was greeted by Sarek. He wore his full diplomatic robes and looked every inch an Ambassador. Carl watched as her face changed, becoming almost animated with him. That's how he had remembered her, full of life and a pleasure with others. She had changed and it wasn't just his imagination.

The conference hall had been designed to be acoustically and visually pleasing. Everyone could be heard using a normal voice level and nothing in the room distracted from the diplomats' attentions. The tiered and slightly curved seating added to the design and made it possible for everyone to be seen easily. Instead of a permanent colour on the walls, the neutral surface was made of light-reflecting fabric. The colour of the lighting could be changed to accommodate the differing races, their moods and idiosyncrasies.

They sat side by side through out the introductory session. T'yshen and Carl were introduced to the council. They had accomplished a great deal in the short time and they were applauded for their efforts. They accepted the accolades on behalf of the people of Kavifemai.

The end to the first day of the conference came just before last meal. Carl was tired. The travelling and the change in time frame had knocked most of the energy out of him. He found T'yshen speaking to Sarek and offered his apologies for interrupting.

"I'm turning in for the night." He bowed his head to her and then to Sarek. "Pleasant End-day, Ambassador." He wanted to ask her to come with him, so they could talk and clear the air. He also knew that wasn't the proper thing to do.

The assigned room was warm. Set for Vulcan standard, it was even warmer than Kavifemai. He had noticed that, over time, he had become accustom to the higher temperature but this was too warm to keep his uniform on. He hung up his uniform and pulled out the loungewear. Loose fitting, it reminded him of the martial arts ghi. The fabric was softer, cooler and he could wear it as he meditated.

He poured some of the brandy that had been left in the room. The accommodations were definitely top-notch. He moved to the large window to look out to the barren landscape and wondered what everyone was doing at home. S'task would be busy helping Di'on and she would be busy with D'amae, who had recently learned to run! He laughed. "Home. I always thought that Earth was home for me." He was talking to himself again.

Carl sat cross-legged on the small mat just off to the side from the window. He finished off his drink then began the exercise in meditation. He could manage this on his own now, and was getting fairly good at the timing. Tonight, he would plan for ninety minutes or until T'yshen returned. He thought of the rain, felt it on his hands, then his arms and finally envisioned it on his body. The rhythm of the rain gave him the calm he needed to travel deeper into himself.

He thought of the day's events and of the people he had met. Sarek was unchanged from before. He had heard T'yshen and Sarek speak of Commander Spock and how he was doing. Their mission had been a successful one. He was pleased that the Enterprise had been successful. The other Ambassadors seemed to be a little standoffish but were coming around slowly. He had even managed to have a quick conversation with the Federation representative for Earth.

He felt familiar warmth. She was in the quarters. He took a deep breath and felt his thoughts drift upwards. He opened his eyes.

"I did not intend to disturb you." T'yshen had not thought that she had made any noise that should have disturbed him.

"If I did not want to be disturbed, I would have stayed in my room." Carl stood a little smoother than he usually managed. "I wanted to know when you came in so we could talk."

"I am unaware of anything that requires discussion." T'yshen had removed her outer robe and had it over her arm.

"Why don't you change first. I'll make some tea... unless you prefer to have ale." Carl tried to remain as relaxed as he could.

"Ale would be preferable." T'yshen moved into her room and pulled on similar loungewear to Carl's. Her hair was taken down and brushed out.

Carl handed her the glass of ale, warmed. He wasn't going to waste any time. "I want to apologize for my attitude lately. I guess most of it was just being... Human. A little lonely, with no one to spend time with."

"Why could you not?" T'yshen sat down beside him on the couch, her legs were pulled up and crossed.

"Because the person I am interested in spending time with, isn't interested." He decided that being blunt and to the point was the best approach. Maybe it would clear the air.

"I am at a loss to understand why someone would not care for your company." T'yshen had tried to think of who he had been around that would have rejected his advances. "In my conversations with others I have not found any to have negative opinions of you." She could not think of anyone. Everyone that she spoke to had thought very highly of Carl.

Carl coughed. "Really?" He couldn't quite believe what she was saying. Or maybe she wasn't being very honest. "I thought Vulcans didn't lie?"

"They believe in c'thia."

"Is this something that you practice?"

"It is." She thought of what happened aboard the Enterprise, the suppositions and the half-truths that caused much confusion. "Since you question it, what gives you the perception that I would practice a deception of any kind?"

"You said you didn't understand why anyone would not want to spend time with me?" He paused and finished off the ale. "You manage to avoid me?"

T'yshen lowered her eyes. "There are times that I avoid your presence for other reasons. I do not perceive you to be uninteresting."

Carl took a deep breath. "Then why?" His body went numb as he waited for the answer.

T'yshen met his eyes then lowered hers quickly. She silently wished he had not asked so directly. She held her breath, controlling her reactions. She had hoped that this discussion would never take place! That she had been able to take the reactions she experienced and put them away. This was something that had only recently become difficult to deal with, his emotions.

"T'yshen?" Carl suddenly did not want to know why she disliked him. "You are so good at controlling how you feel." He laughed slightly then stood. "I'm turning in. " He felt sick. Was it really so bad that she could not even tell him how much she detested him! He put the glass down hard on the counter; surprised it hadn't shattered and disappeared into his room.

He threw himself on the bed, deciding that it would be his life's work, making a fool of himself in front of her. After a few minutes he rolled over onto his back and blinked away the beginning of tears. He had to find someone to socialize with and he had to start forming some type of relationship with... someone!

T'yshen felt his pain. She inhaled deeply as she considered why she could not utter the words. She had felt her control slipping. Her arms wrapped around her body, she felt suddenly cold and unwell. She was betraying every part of her training. C'thia, a truth in reality. She had felt an affinity towards him and an uncertainty as to how to deal with these... emotions. Why now? Why had he chosen this moment to speak of this? What she felt was not an overwhelming urge to be one with him, just a desire to be close. It was a choice; a choice that she would have to master before it went too far. She was beginning to feel within herself a need for the Ancient ways of controlling the emotions and passions, which were not hidden away, as she had been instructed to do. Sarek had aided in her control of them. His instructions had been most valued. Her earlier lessons served only to deny their existence.

She placed her glass next to his. Her fingertip ran along the rim of his glass, then to rest on her lips. She debated telling him how she felt. He had been angry with her. She did not wish him to remain so. She considered his door and moved closer, but not close enough to activate it.

She lifted her hand to consider touching the surface but instead moved into her room. She sat on the bed; her eyes closed, wanting his hurt and her curiosity to go away!

The second day of the conference was primarily for the larger and more powerful governments. The discussions were about agreements that would span generations and borders that were being disputed by one party or another. How much say did they want the Federation or Starfleet to have over their worlds? And even included the ridiculous; one representative wanted to know why he was seated in the third tier and not the second?

Carl shook his head at that one.

Both Carl and T'yshen did little except listen to what was said and neither felt experienced enough to make any comments. There were a few chuckles along the way and some voting that they took part in. Other than that it was a quiet day for them. They sat side by side throughout the meeting, keeping their thoughts and emotions to themselves.

T'yshen turned to him after the meeting was adjourned. "I will be sharing end-meal with Sarek."

Carl bowed his head and left her.

He wasn't surprised, he hadn't expected her to spend any social time with him and he decided to sulk in their rooms for a time. He entered the quarters and changed. He ate a light meal then sat down with the notes he had made today and the minutes from yesterday's session. He was tired and sitting all day seemed to be exhausting. He fell asleep in that position long before T'yshen was due back.

T'yshen sat with Sarek. They had talked of Vulcan, Amanda and her latest translation as well as what little news they had about Spock. The meal they shared was a traditionally Vulcan one with all the dishes they had not had in a while. Even the ale was directly from Vulcan. She asked about Amanda's garden and Sarek informed her that all was well.

"Do you find it difficult to remain with the Kavifemai?" Sarek sipped on the ale.

"I find that they are emotional, nothing more." T'yshen was slightly reserved with Sarek this evening.

"You appear well."

"I am." T'yshen had eaten most of her meal but did not care to finish. "The language and the customs are becoming their own. At times the mixture of the cultures seems strange." She placed her cutlery in position to signify a finished meal. She sipped on her ale and did not miss the slight question in Sarek's face. "I still find that my internal clock is not synchronized with this time."

Sarek accepted the statement. He stood and invited her to join him in a game of ahkh'zhagra, a Vulcan form of chess. "Do you remember?"

She hesitated in her answer. "It has been years since we played last." She sat opposite him. "This will be a challenge."

He gestured for her to make the opening move. The end result of the game was the same as in chess. The goal was to capture as many of your opponent's pieces and gain control of the board. Accomplished in the same manner, by moving the minor pieces, ask'ersu (soldiers) and the kevet-dutar (Ambassadors), in pre-assigned patterns and protecting the Sa'reldai (your own princess) and the surface was sas'a'shar (the desert).

"Have you seen Spock?" She was recalling the rules of play after a few incorrect moves.

"Not since the conference last year. Was he not due to visit you soon?" He captured another of her pieces.

"The Enterprise was assigned patrol along the Rihansu-Federation border." She retained the stoic expression well, despite what she was feeling. "There have been fifteen births. I attended T'sai Di'on's delivery. It was female." The game was not going to last much longer, her strategies were not adequate against someone of Sarek's capabilities.

Sarek had been watching her. She appeared to be pre-occupied. "Are you not well?" It sounded like a parent's question.

"It is fatigue, nothing more." She conceded this game and suggested another.

They reset the game board up and the next game was played with a little more skill. "Have you taught this to Representative Bennett?"

"His skill even at chess leaves much to be desired. He favours a card game, poker."

Sarek nodded. "A game worth learning." He recalled the games that he had allowed himself to indulge in during the occasions on board the Enterprise over the years. It was a game the Doctor McCoy and Captain Kirk had introduced him to during his convalescence years ago.

T'yshen was surprised. She finished off her ale and looked to her host. "We are coming up to our colder season, there will be time for lessons in poker."

"And teach him ahkh'zhagra." He placed his ask'ersu on the spot her Sa'reldai occupied. "Your skill needs improving." He had won.

Her head bowed. "Agreed, S'haile." She stood. "I will take leave of you now. Our time has been pleasurable."

He bowed his head. "I too have found the company a pleasurable distraction." He walked with her to the door and his hand brushed her cheek, a gesture that was used with family. "Your place as my aide has been most difficult to fill."

T'yshen smiled slightly as she lowered her eyes. "I am honoured, S'haile."

"Until tomorrow then." Sarek touched the door's release. "Then it will be time to head home."

"Extend my greetings to Amanda."

"I will."

T'yshen headed out of his quarters and down the hall to her own.

T'yshen stepped in and was surprised that the low-lights had remained on. She had expected Carl to be asleep and the quarters dark. She moved into the common room, stopped and smiled. Carl was fast asleep; the screen that had fallen from his hand was of yesterday's minutes. She picked it up and placed it on the table.

T'yshen went to her room and changed into her loungewear then returned to wake Carl. She could only imagine the stiffness he would experience.

"Carl." She called to him. "Carl, you have fallen asleep. Would you not be more comfortable in bed?" She waited and received no response. "Carl." She touched his face as she spoke a little louder.

"Um-m-m?" Carl tried to wake up. He was comfortable; at least he thought so before he tried to move.

"Would you not have been more comfortable in bed?" T'yshen was sitting on the edge of the couch. He started to close his eyes again, so she picked up his hand and began to rub it. "Carl."

"Yeah." He moaned as he lifted his head. "Neck hurts." His hand went to the back of his neck to rub the circulation back. "What time is it?"

"Three hundred hours." Her hand stayed on his absently.

Carl opened one eye. "You are just coming in?"

"Sarek and I talked for some time."

"I've been here for awhile. I fell asleep reading, I guess." Carl sat up a bit and then stretched his neck a bit. He went to move his left hand then realized she was still there. He squeezed it slightly. "Thanks for waking me up."

"You appeared quite uncomfortable." She watched him shrug his shoulders. She moved slightly in back of him, hesitantly placing her hands on his shoulders. She began to massage the stiffness from him. "This helps?"

He nodded. "Did you want to head home after the meeting tomorrow or did you want to stay the extra day?"

"I do not have a preference." T'yshen stood.

"Do you have a preference for anything?" He was tired and short-tempered. He waved off the comment with a gesture. "Sorry, ignore me." He rubbed his eyes with his fingers.

"It is difficult at times." She stated blandly.

Carl smiled then he laughed. "That is the first honest thing I have heard you say in a long time!" Carl stood; his hand lifted her chin. He had made the movement without thinking. "The T'yshen I knew is re-appearing."

"I do not comprehend?" She had not made any attempt to move.

"The T'yshen I liked was the one that could conquer a world with that look..." Carl took a breath. "That's the one I fell in love with." He held his breath and felt his body numb. His mouth opened but nothing came out. Too much had already fallen out! He shut it again, then dropped his hand to his side. "I'm...." He couldn't finish! He disappeared into his room and then stood there staring at himself in the mirror. "God, you're stupid!"

T'yshen had felt a reaction to his touch and not the one she had expected. She watched him leave the room and could not say anything. Why was this so difficult? These were not the same feelings she had for Spock. With Spock, she wished to be near, to be one with his thoughts and his body. This that she was feeling was a pleasure in Carl's company.

Her movements took her to his door. This could not continue. "May I enter?"

Carl cleared his throat. "No!" He watched the reflection in the mirror, as he shook his head "No." He spoke softly; facing her was the last thing he needed to do. He heard the door open and felt his body stiffen.

"I could not hear you."

"With those ears, you should be able to hear a pin drop on a carpeted floor through the door." He could not turn to face her. He wanted to stay angry and away from what he could not have.

T'yshen allowed the smile to appear at the corners of her mouth. He had been right. "I needed to explain something. It could not wait." It was disquieting for Carl not to be willing to face her.

"I'm listening."

"I regret that I can not return the affection." She breathed slowly, she was so unsure of his reactions. "I have a bond-mate that I must consider."

"I know." Carl spoke softly. His back was still to her as he crossed his arms and stared at the floor.

"What is it that you require of me?" T'yshen took a step towards him, maybe there was something she was not comprehending. An explanation might offer some insight into what his meaning was.

Carl started a nervous laugh, he eyes remained closed and he sighed. "I know that you are asking the question for a reason... but right now... I don't have an answer."

"Very well." She watched him for a moment, the pain he was in was obvious and she felt helpless. She considered wishing him a goodnight then thought better of it; instead she just left his room.


The trip home seemed longer than it should have. Carl had tried to convince himself that T'yshen's two-day meditation had nothing to do with him. They had left immediately following the adjournment of the conference.

He looked over the controls, checking the course and speed then locked it in. He swung the chair around and decided to do some reading. "Or maybe... Eating!" He realized that he had not eaten since leaving the conference. He knew most of the meals in the processor were Rihansu and he had found a few that he did not mind eating.

He walked down the narrow corridor. The mess was located in the center of the ship. He picked out his food then sat down to enjoy his meal. "This actually tastes good!" He reached to the wall controls and tapped in the request for some music. He considered his choices. "Classical Rihansu... beggars can't be choosers."

He leaned back in the chair after finishing his meal to listen to the music. A few notes hurt his ears, but most of it was bearable. He clasped his hands behind his head and closed his eyes.

T'yshen had finished with her self-imposed solitude. She felt comfortable facing Carl again with her control tightly in place. She had been surprised to find him listening to this variety of music. She watched him for a time then moved to his side. She touched his shoulder as she spoke to him.

He was startled. The chair was tilted back too far and off balance. He reached for her to remain upright but it didn't work. He landed hard, on his back and the breath was knocked out of him.

He moaned.

T'yshen knelt down beside him. "Are you injured?"

Carl shook his head. "Winded." His eyes were closed and he was waiting for his back to relax enough to take a deep breath. "I'm okay." He felt her hovering and he opened one eye. "Hi, I'm here would have worked just as well, you know." He chuckled, as both eyes opened and he rolled off the chair.

He stood, righted the chair then offered a hand to her.

"I am capable of standing."

Carl shrugged. "Suit yourself." He picked up his dishes and tossed them into the recycling unit. "I have to go and check on the course heading." He headed out of the room and towards the bridge.


He turned in the corridor. "Yeah?" He needed some distance from her.

"I value our relationship."

He nodded. "It's just that you see it differently than I do... or than I want you to."

"I have commitments."

"I know."

"Terrans are a mystery to me still."

"To me too, sometimes." He grinned. "I have to check on the course heading." He turned from her and continued towards the bridge then called back to her. "I'm thinking of growing a beard. What do you think?"

"Why would you choose to do this?" She followed him onto the bridge. She sat in the helm position; Carl was in the navigator's chair.

"I look too young. I need to look older."

"Why would you desire to appear older?"

"At thirty-five and in the position of being a representative for a world... Don't you think the image should be of an older and wiser person?" He turned in the chair to face her. "You take care of the wiser part, I thought I could be responsible for the older part."

T'yshen tilted her head, another human mystery to solve. She attempted to visualize him with a beard. "How long would this beard take to grow?"

"Well, I haven't applied the inhibitor today... maybe four or five days. By then we should be home." He winked at her. "You let me know what you think. If it isn't impressive, I'll have time to remove it."

"Very well." She considered this desire of his to alter his image. Most interesting. She turned towards the screen as she continued to consider the theory that he looked too young to perform his duty. "You are ready to begin your second stage of study, perhaps later in the day?"

He folded his arms and started to lean back then stopped. "And the next stage is?"

"Dweemish'na-an. You must learn to isolate yourself from the activity around you."

"Isolation? Sounds like learning how to be lonely." He double-checked the readings then locked the course in. "Well, let's get to it."


Di'on looked up into the sky, her daughter fast asleep in the sling. She was waiting to see her Rea's Helm return in one piece. The path the small cruiser took was being monitored and when it had come close enough, Di'on had moved outside. There was a glint in the sky and her eyes followed it until it began to resemble her craft. She smiled. "I knew he would be able to fly it!"

"You did not. You have been driving me crazy all the time they have been gone. Worried about how thorough Starfleet training was." He looked to his wife with a smile. He kissed her then offered to hold D'amae while she checked out the vessel. "Go."

Her hand touched his cheek, she pecked his lips then transferred the sling and the sleeping bundle over to him. She headed towards the landing craft at a run.

The small craft kicked up the sand as it touched down. The cloud settled quickly and the ramp was lowered slowly. The duffel bags were tossed out first, then T'yshen appeared with her satchel. She looked behind then came down the ramp. She wore a Vulcan-styled tunic and pants; her hair was in a high ponytail.

T'yshen placed the bag down then greeted Di'on, her hand clasped Di'on's forearm. "It was a successful conference. We have position and have arranged our first trade in one month." She looked to the figure that was closing the distance between them. "Everyone is well?"

"Yes." She looked behind her quickly. "The ship?"

"Carl informed me that he would be out after reparations are made to the hole."

Di'on's eyes went big. "What!" She ran in.

T'yshen picked up her bag then met S'task. "His humour is increasing.... Unfortunately."

They heard Di'on's laughter.

S'task touched her arm. "What is he planning now?"

"This you must see for yourself." She almost smiled.

S'task became even more curious than before. T'yshen offered to care for D'amae. He passed her over then disappeared into the ship and headed directly to the bridge.

As Di'on moved from in front of Carl, S'task's smiled then started to chuckle. "Is it the fashion for Terrans to wear tribbles on their face?" He leaned on the near-by console and looked to his lifemate, still laughing. "Or did you forget to use the shavers? Or was it the Rihansu you couldn't read... been away from home too long?"

He moved to his friend's side and clasped his upper arm, a warrior's greeting. He chuckled again. "It is good that you are home. She was worried about her vessel."

Carl had managed to keep a fairly straight face during all of the comments. "Are you two finished now?" He brushed the mostly blonde, neatly trimmed beard. "You really don't like it?"

"It will take time to get used to the look. It is not offensive." Di'on watched him for a moment. "Is it not rough?"

Carl reached for her hand, then placed it on his bearded cheek.

Di'on was surprised at how soft it was. "I think I like it?" She laughed slightly. "And T'yshen's opinion?"

"You know her, no reaction to most things. She asked me why I would want to grow the beard then added her comments on the trimming of it... for esthetic reasons." He reached under the console and slid out a case. "A gift." He pushed it towards S'task.

S'task crouched down and touched the release. He opened the lid then pulled out a sealed bottle. "Saurian brandy."

Carl nodded. "Enjoy."

S'task bowed his head then replaced the bottle and closed the casing. He was touched by the gift.

Carl stood after double checking the circuits and shut everything down. "I picked up some Earth brandy for myself."

The three headed out, the men carried the cases. Di'on had the ship's log, she was overly possessive of this vessel and S'task reminded her of that fact. She turned to the other two as she spotted T'yshen with D'amae. "She would make an excellent parent."

Carl nodded, not trusting himself to say any more.

"We have started the boats." S'task transferred one case into the aircar they had waiting. He took Carl's case and waited for him to return with the duffel bags.

"Glad to hear it." Carl looked over T'yshen's way, she was busy brushing sand off of D'amae's hands. "T'yshen, your swimming lessons will have to start soon. The boat's been started."

T'yshen tilted her head. "I never stated that I would learn either to swim or to sail." She held D'amae's hand as they walked towards the aircar. "Sarek and Amanda extend greetings to you." She looked to Di'on, the subject of the water sports dropped for the present.

"Did Sarek have knowledge of Spock?" Di'on picked up the young child and placed her in the aircar with the appropriate restraints.

"I did not expect him to." T'yshen placed her bag on the top of the collection. "I will walk. I have been on the vessel too long." Carl's head bowed then she headed off.

Carl sat in the back with the luggage. He closed his eyes and breathed in the familiar scent of home. "I can't wait for a real shower!"

"You will be home in no time." S'task was aware how tiring travel could be even under the most ideal conditions. "J'ekon has set up the ale house. The credit system was well received and the Festival lasted two days. You were missed, both of you." When he did not receive an answer he looked back. Carl was fast asleep beside D'amae.

"Some things do not change." Di'on smiled. "I like his beard. Why don't you consider growing one?"

S'task's only response was to shake his head in silence and guide the aircar towards home.




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