Disclaimers: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. All other characters are mine. Copyright © 2005 L. Crystal Michallet-Romero, All Rights Reserved. This story was written for the pure enjoyment of the ST genre and no profit was earned or expected from its creation. Note to Readers: This story was influenced by the ST:TOS episode "Amok Time." It follows no particular canon except what is floating around in my brain. Rated NC17.

Encounters

Crystal Michallet-Romero



The cold night air caused a billowy white puff to escape with each breath that Spock took. As he sat huddled behind the wheel of his parked floater, he waited to see her leave the establishment. It was not an upscale place, and if he had to give his estimate of the business establishment, he felt that he could agree with Jim and call it a dump. The all night diner was located in the oldest section of the port of San Francisco. It stood throughout the years deep in the heart of the Tenderloin. The blue and red neon light flashed to all who passed by that the greasy spoon was indeed open for business.

With a slight sigh, the lone occupant pondered his actions. Not for the first time he wondered if he was prudent to continue down this path. He thought of his wife and their kids who were home alone. Logic dictated that he should be with them safely secure in the warmth of their home. He should have been spending the evenings in his house with his wife surrounded by the sounds of their children's voices, their excitement causing them to speak adamantly in a un-Vulcan like manner.

By now Christine would be wondering where he was. She would be looking at the chronometer and worrying at the late hours that he was keeping. A part of him, the human part, felt a pang of regret and shame. For almost sixteen years now Christine was not just a wife, but a friend. There were things about himself that only she knew, not only because their marriage bond afforded them the luxury of telepathically reading each other's thoughts, but because he had allowed her into his mind. He trusted, respected and cherished her and because of this he had chosen to invite her into his life. Thankfully for him this very human woman, with human failings and human emotions, agreed to always be with him and accept him for his own failings.

"Never parted," his deep voice spoke with a hush. When he heard the sound of his own voice, he blinked as he pulled himself to the present. Glancing out of the window he watched the front doors of the café. Just as he had done for the past month, he waited patiently.

Spock did not know what compulsion caused him to act in this illogical manner. Never before had he deliberately kept anything away from his wife, like he now did. Staying out late, waiting in the dark alone, were alien to him. Yet this was exactly what he found himself doing. With a pang of regret he looked at the chronometer on the dash board and noted the time. Instinctively he knew that this was an unnecessary habit. His Vulcan training afforded him the ability to know the exact time. Yet now, as the endless minutes passed by slowly, he found that this habit had a comforting quality.

"Christine will be putting the children to bed by now," he thought silently. Like an omen reaching out its ethereal hand, he felt the gentle tugging of her spirit at the back of his mind. Christine's voiceless words beckoned him to respond, to tell her of his whereabouts. An instinct to reach out to her, to answer and comfort her spirit, crept into his thoughts, but then he shook away the urge. "Now is not the time to let my guard down," he reasoned as he continued his vigil.

Before he could process his thoughts, the object of his attention emerged from the dimly lit café. The young woman glanced down one side of the street, then to the other. Her gaze turned to his vehicle for a split second, and then she began to make her way across the paved road to the stairs leading to the airway system. This had been her pattern since he first saw her and, although he was intrigued by her, he usually kept himself at bay preferring to watch from a distance.

Spock first saw her last month when Leonard had invited him and Jim to the café for a late night dinner. Although dubious that there would be anything on the menu that he could eat, Spock reluctantly joined his two friends in order to meet the woman whom the doctor professed an undying love for. In Spock's estimation the older, blonde woman was not unkind, nor was she unattractive. He assumed that if the doctor had found someone to share his life with, that such a union should be encouraged, which is what he and Jim did each and every time that Leonard fell in love.

This new woman in the doctor's life was a waitress at the café and even though Spock kept his focus on her, he could not help but notice the younger woman who was also working in the establishment. Her tall, lithe form moved gracefully through the place, plates stacked on her arms were easily dispatched at the various tables. The waitress uniform that consisted of a checker board pink dress and plain white apron failed to conceal her beauty. Her long black hair was held back below a standard waitress hat.

The first time when Spock sat at that table, he found his attention distracted from his friends conversation. Once or twice he felt their eyes on him and Spock was quick to pull his full concentration away from the dark-haired woman to his friend's jovial exchange. Jim, with his irreverent humor, made a few comments about a "seven year itch," which Spock feigned ignorance of understanding. In such situations he found it best to don his most innocent expression as he turned the topic away from himself.

That first glimpse of the young woman was nearly a month ago and in such a short time it felt as if his life had changed. He had since returned to the place alone when he knew that Leonard was taking his new love interest out for the evening. Each time Spock arrived, he chose a table that he knew the young woman would be servicing. At first she seemed surprised by his presence and on the last encounter he thought he noticed a tremble in her hands as she set a plate of food before him, but she remained professional. Not a single time had she lapsed from her duties of serving him a meal or offering a kind, if not neutral, greeting. She was always impeccable in her manner and even in the standard waitress uniform she was elegant in her own way.

When he saw her walking up the stairs to the waiting platform, he felt his breath catch in his throat. Even at a distance her walk was graceful and her steps were light and controlled. For the first time he was reminded of another woman, one who seemed alien to him yet was meant to be his mate. The way she walked with back straight, head held high demonstrated her lineage. Just like that woman from Spock's past, this young waitress walked with quiet dignity.

As he watched her climbing the steps, Spock thought through his next actions. He could remain sitting in his vehicle, as he had done these many nights. He would go home, arriving late. Perhaps tonight would be the night that Christine asked him the questions that would open Pandora's box. Would he tell her? Could he tell her? How would it be possible for a man to reveal a secret that he had kept even from himself?

All of these thoughts ran through his mind like a flash in the night even as he felt himself leaving the confines of his vehicle. After glancing down the empty streets, he quickly made his way toward the stairs. With quick, yet controlled steps, he climbed the empty steel stairs. His acute hearing told him that she was on the platform. She would be standing with her full length black cape around herself. Her long black hair, no longer held captive under a waitress cap, would be flowing over her shoulders.

As he reached the top step he took a moment to glance around at the empty platform. He wondered why a young woman would choose to work a shift that ended late in the night. Although crime was virtually nonexistent and the streets appeared safe, such a shift was not something that many people voluntarily undertook, let alone a young woman, and Spock wondered about her career choice.

With controlled, deliberate steps he moved toward her. Just as he imagined she stood near the end of the platform. Her cape was wrapped tightly around her to keep the cold Pacific wind at bay. Dark hair shimmered under the glow of the overhead lights. The yellow tint of the lights sent gold-like specks over her wavy hair. When he was close enough to touch her, she suddenly turned, her dark brown eyes grew small as she scrutinized him. If there was fear she did not show it. Instead, a look of recognition crossed her features as her body suddenly relaxed.

Now standing in front of her Spock found himself suddenly at a loss for words. She stood a head shorter than him, her cape concealing her body completely. He gulped as he nodded toward her. With polite distance, she responded in kind as the far-away sound of a mechanical bell was heard. When she turned slightly away to glance up at the oncoming headlight of the air bus, Spock watched as a slight breeze brushed her hair from her face. The distinct elfin ears, so much like his own, peeked out from under dark locks of hair. Filled with curiosity, she looked back up at him. Her face held a mixture of confusion and control as she waited for him to speak. When words finally came to him, he stood ramrod straight with hands neatly folded behind his back.

"Do you know who I am?" His voice sounded strange even to his own ears.

She glanced at him for a moment in silence before her soft, delicate voice answered his question. "You are Captain Spock," her words held a sense of finality.

Spock felt his heart racing illogically out of control. In the cool breeze his lips grew suddenly dry. As a way of controlling his thoughts he turned his gaze away from her penetrating eyes before speaking again.

"Yes, this is true ... but--" He fought to keep the quiver from his voice. "Do you know who I am?"

A look of understanding entered her eyes as the corners of her lips tilted upward slightly. With a nod of her head she pulled the cloak tighter around her body. A slight shiver seemed to cross her form before she reigned control over the chill.

"Yes, I do," she said before the slight bell of the air bus stole her attention. As the craft settled neatly near the platform, she turned to Spock once more. Her eyes held his captive as she spoke with a strong voice.

"You are my father," was all she said before turning to the open doors of the air bus. She took a step toward the craft before turning to him once more.

"Captain Spock?" her voice held a tinge of weary resignation.

"Yes?"

"Please stop following me," was all she said before boarding the air bus.

As she entered the craft he watched her walking in the light. She moved to the back of the bus, and then settled in a seat within the empty craft. Her eyes remained lowered, her gaze never turned to look at him. As he watched the airbus slowly rise he longed to join her, to ask about the health of her mother, T'Pring. He wished to ask the young woman what had brought her to Terra, but mostly he wanted to know if there could be redemption for a man who had never met his daughter until she was a grown woman. But instead of acting upon his illogical impulses, he simply watched as the bus disappeared from view.

As the cold chill surrounded him, he breathed a sigh of regret as he turned and made his way across the platform. He would go home to a dark house where Christine was waiting. If she was true to her nature, she would remain silent and wait for him to explain his actions of this past month. But Spock did not know if he could explain his greatest shame to his beloved. He was not ashamed of the existence of this child, but of his own conduct toward her. At one time his actions may have seemed logical, but now, in hindsight, he realized that he had erred in not being a part of her life, and especially for keeping her existence a carefully guarded secret from the one woman who had always stood by his side. "Surly Christine would have understood what had happened on my first pon farr," he silently lamented. The memories of that fateful event on Vulcan brought embarrassed warmth to his cheeks. With this thought he settled himself behind the steering wheel and started the engine of his air car. He did not know what would happen tonight, nor did he want to contemplate it, so instead he remembered the sound of his eldest daughter's voice and again felt a pang of regret for all of the lost years.

* * *

Suraa sat in numb silence. The sound of the air bus registered marginally in her senses as she contemplated all that had happened. She had been on Terra sixteen point three standard months and in that time she had never sought out her father. Suraa knew that he lived in the area and although she did not know the exact location of where he and his family lived, he would have been easy to locate. But she did not attempt to make contact. Even when she first arrive with little credits and no one to turn to, the idea of contacting Captain Spock was repugnant. "He was never a part of my life as a child, so why would he care about me now?" her mind asked. But if she really thought about it, she would have realized that these thoughts were not her own. They were a product of everything that her mother had told her.

From the time that Suraa was able to reason, T'Pring had allowed her black heart to rule in the raising of her eldest daughter. The stately Vulcan woman spoke in half-truths or outright lies. Although T'Pring would have denied having such an illogical failing, her anger and resentment toward the Star Fleet officer colored her view toward her own child. This is now what Suraa had to overcome and difficult as it was, she chose to fight her mother's oppression in her own way.

Even though Suraa had lived on the fringe of her familial unit all her life, with each passing day she slipped further and further away from their circle. At first it was just family gatherings. When Stonn, her mother and younger siblings went out, her mother always told Suraa that the event was something that would not be edifying for her, so the young Vulcan remained home alone. Suraa really didn't mind because when she was home with only the silence surrounding her, she did not have to hear about her mother's disappointments. Most importantly, Suraa did not have to be reminded that her father's blood had contaminated her forever.

As she watched the city lights pass below her, Suraa remembered her last day on Vulcan. A part of her did not want to leave the planet of her birth, but the choice was not her own. Suraa should have felt the trouble brewing when Stonn began to pay extra attention to her. At the time Suraa wondered why her mother's husband showed a sudden interest in her, but her youthful logic had never placed anything nefarious behind his motives. Even he explained to Suraa that he grew weary of witnessing the treatment that Suraa underwent at her mother's hands. Unfortunately for Surra, T'Pring's malicious mind had little difficulty in conjuring up a motive. Rather than confront the problem, the older Vulcan woman chose what she thought was the logical solution and that is how Suraa ended up alone on a distant planet far from home.

With a slight grimace that few would have noticed, Suraa gazed out at the sleeping city. She knew who her father was and how she was conceived. She was a product of the pon farr, nothing more than a product of rape. The intellectual side of Suraa knew that Vulcan men could not be blamed for this short coming. Even Stonn, for as much as her mother praised him and his offspring, fell prey to this condition. But in Suraa's mind what Spock did could be the equivalent of rape. Her mother had no choice in the matter, when the madness consumed Spock, all T'Pring could do was to let nature take its course, and Suraa was the end result.

Suraa released a slight sigh as she turned away from her own reflection in the window. Never a day went by that T'Pring hadn't reminded Suraa of her lineage. Sometimes it was spoken of in open conversations. If Suraa was falling behind in her studies, it was the fault of her human blood, and if on occasions she demonstrated her anger or disappointment, this was a failing from her father, Spock. No, whatever shortcomings Suraa had, whatever disappointment she caused was because of her human blood.

As the air bus rounded the corner before her stop, Suraa glanced at the chronometer that glowed on the plate near the bus driver. A part of her wanted to go to her modest studio apartment, but another part did not want to be surrounded by silence. When the air bus landed on the platform the driver looked back at her and waited for her to rise and disembark the vehicle. Instead she shook her head negatively before the man closed the doors and resumed his route.

Tonight she did not want to be alone.

At her illogical feelings Suraa released a slight smile. Now that she was on her own she wished that she could have flaunted these emotions to her mother. She wanted to be able to yell and scream that she was human and see what her mother's reactions would be. As it was, everything she did since arriving on Terra was contrary to anything her mother believed. Her mother had told her on that last day that Suraa would never be able to survive on her own, yet she had. Even though T'Pring had given her nothing to live on, she had not only managed to procure a flight to Terra, but she found a place to live and eventually a job. Not only that, but she had met people who enjoyed her company.

"Of course, Mother always said that I'd end up in a brothel," she silently mused.

Suraa never saw the irony of her mother's predictions. Whenever T'Pring pointed out her lack of beauty, it never dawned on Suraa that this would be the primary quality needed in order to work in a brothel. All she knew was that her mother had predicted that one day she would end up working for an Orion slaver as a prostitute.

Her brows creased slightly as she remembered her mother's words. Even all these months later they still chiseled their way into her psyche. Suraa always felt that she was inadequate as a Vulcan, and this was reinforced daily by her mother's words. She wasn't even good enough to have a formal bonding, as her little sister had. With an inward smile, Suraa leaned back in the air bus seat. "Perhaps it is fortunate that I was not bonded," she mused to herself. Yes, if she had been bonded then she would be forever tied to Vulcan. The Vulcan man who would have been her mate would one day come to her and force himself upon her, as Spock had done to her mother. Perhaps a child would have been produced and she would have repeated the cycle of anger upon the innocent babe. But this would never be Suraa's fate because according to her mother, Suraa's human failings had deemed her an undesirable bondmate for any Vulcan man.

"No Vulcan man will want to pollute his progeny with your human blood," T'Pring had stated with finality. But Suraa quickly learned after arriving on Terra that Human men were not as discerning. Not only did they seem attracted to her, but they gravitated toward her likes bees to honey.

"Go with it!" Nadine, her friend from the café had once said. "When men find you attractive, you've got to play along with it, hell, you might even get a dinner or two from it!" the older human woman had cackled.

Nadine had become not only the closest thing to a friend that she had, but as the lead waitress at the café, she had become Suraa's mentor. The newcomer had only been hired because of Nadine's urgings and confidence in the strange Vulcan woman. The elder woman's words swayed the owner to accept Suraa on a temporary basis that quickly became a permanent position. On the first day that the young Vulcan woman began working, it was Nadine who taught her how to carry the multiple servings without dropping them. When the older woman noticed Suraa's physical discomfort, she had given her a pair of her own work shoes to wear. This was something that Suraa was quick to refuse, but the elder waitress would not hear the girl's protest. She simply winked and stated that "girls have to stick together," which is what they did.

During the quiet times when the place was empty and all they could do was to clean up already clean tables, Nadine spoke openly with her. She told Suraa about her many men and their exploits. When she met the Star Fleet doctor, Nadine never hesitated to tell the young woman about how charming and handsome the doctor was. Later, when a few young cadets began to stop by for lunch, it was Nadine who pushed Suraa to accept an invitation from one of the cadets. Thankfully, it was also Nadine who encouraged Suraa to break up with the tall blond man.

Suraa may have been naïve to the ways of humans, but she knew after a short time with Mark Stevens that caution was needed. In the beginning he was polite and courteous with her. But as the days went by he became more demanding with her to the point where Suraa was not certain how to end it. Thankfully, after seeing the greenish bruise on her forearm, it was Nadine who stepped in on Suraa's behalf. With a no-nonsense manner, the older blonde woman took the tall Star Fleet cadet to the back of the kitchen. With a meat cleaver in hand, she spoke to the human, her face as fierce as Suraa had ever seen. After that, the young man never returned again and Suraa was very grateful for Nadine's intervention.

With a slight smile, Suraa sat up straight as she watched the approaching stop. It was already late at night, but she knew that Joseph Littlefeather would still be awake. Joseph was not someone she would have noticed on her own because he was a quiet, unassuming man. Had it not been for a chance meeting with Nadine, Suraa might have lived in the city forever without ever meeting the charismatic art student.

"Suraa, I know I messed up the last time with Mark, but I'm telling you, this one is a keeper!" the woman smiled as she pushed Suraa toward his table.

The first thing she remembered of him was his easy going smile and white teeth. Vulcans were not normally mesmerized by humans, but as T'Pring always pointed out, Suraa was far from being a Vulcan. She was human, with human failings, illogical thoughts and all of the problems that humans had to endure, so Suraa didn't think it was wrong to accept her friends urging.

Joseph Littlefeather was unlike any human she had ever seen before. He was tall with straight black hair that hung past his shoulders. His tan-brown skin held a healthy sheen and his dark eyes peered at her with an intensity never felt before. Unlike Mark, Joseph's moods never changed and he was never demanding of her. When Suraa felt the time was right, she had been the one to initiate a more intimate contact with him.

As the air bus docked at the landing platform, Suraa stifled the smile that crossed her lips. Her mother would have been mortified to know that she was having sexual relations with a human. "But then again," Suraa thought, "she always told me this was all I would ever amount to."

Ignoring the plaguing thoughts of her past, Suraa rose from her seat and made her way to the platform. Unlike where she lived, Joseph lived in a part of town that was always bustling with activity. As the cool night air clung to her, she moved past the numerous night clubs and coffee houses. The students' voices rose with raucous laughter as they enjoyed their evening games. Suraa felt a few of the men, as well as some women, glance her way. Their interest was visible by the looks of lust that they cast toward her. While a part of her mind told her that they were simply interested in the exoticness of her appearance, another nagging thought convinced her that their looks were unwarranted. "After all, I am not a beauty, as my mother is," her thoughts would whisper in the back of her mind. Pulling the cloak closer around her body, she continued on her path and made her way toward the tall building that was nestled in between two lodging towers.

Suraa knew exactly where she was going because she had been here so many times. As she walked up the steps, she entered the large glass doors and greeted the student who worked as a doorman. The young man glanced at her over the desk before he smiled with recognition, and nodded.

"He's in?" she asked as she walked toward the lifts.

"Hasn't left all night," the student smiled before returning his attention to his studies.

Sometimes when Suraa saw the life of the students, she envied their position. Although she did not have a clear definition of what she wanted to do with her life, seeing the students focused on their individual studies brought a pang of jealousy to her. It was illogical, she knew, but it was in her nonetheless. Continuing on with her education was not an option for Suraa. Although she had high enough marks to enter into a program, she would only be able to attend an academy on Vulcan. Now that she was forced to leave her home world, she had little choices in her future. Without the financial backing, or a sponsor, Terra would not allow her to attend. The outworlders who had managed to gain coveted spots at the various Terran Universities had gained admissions because of an extraordinary ability. For Suraa, she was realistic enough to know that she was far from extraordinary. She was not like her younger sister whose skilled voice enabled her to interpret the songs of T'Leshra, an ancient composure. Nor was she like her brother who had a grasp of astrophysics. During family functions Suraa was always reminded that she would never equal or excel the talents and skills of her siblings, so rather than raise expectations, she did not flirt with the idea of ever excelling beyond her means.

Suraa never would have acknowledged that her thoughts were not her own. Each time she contemplated taking a chance in life, she heard the telltale voice of her mother reminding her of who she was. Yet she never recognized the familiar echo in her mind as that of her mother's voice. Although T'Pring continually reminded Suraa, and the rest of the immediate family, of the girl's failings, it never dawned on either mother or daughter that T'Pring's actions were highly illogical. So rather than confront her own personal demons, Suraa chose to live her life as best as she could.

As the lift opened to the top floor, the young Vulcan looked around before making her way to the familiar door. From outside she heard the sound of music filtering through the door. If she closed her eyes she could almost imagine him standing before his easel, his paints would be nearby as he created images that only his mind could see. When she leaned against the door, she placed her palm on the cold wooden surface. She contemplated turning away and going back to her apartment but before she could make a move the door suddenly opened.

"Suraa!" the tall, beautiful man opened the door. Raven dark hair that held the light's reflection was now covered with a spattering of multi colored paints. For only a span of a breath, Suraa was mesmerized by the silky strands that fell past his shoulders. The simple white shirt he wore was unbuttoned in the front to reveal his smooth, muscled chest. Although an artist, he made full use of the university gym, which is how he managed to have such a magnificent physique that was pleasing to the eyes.

Suraa felt warmth on her cheeks as he stood before her. His clear white teeth beamed a welcoming smile. Before she could speak, he popped his head out and looked down the hall, and then turned to her as he welcomed her into his place.

"I thought you were..." He nodded toward his neighbor's door. "Aw, never mind. He was supposed to come back with food, but I guess he got distracted. Lucky me, huh?"

Although some humans might consider him average in looks, for Suraa he was a handsome man. His bronze skin, sculptured body and easy going smile was enough to cause the most surprising reactions in her. If her mother had met him, she was certain that T'Pring would not approve. But T'Pring was not here. Her mother had not been cast out from the family and she was not left to fend for herself on a planet that was not her own. So rather than dwell on the nagging voice in the back of her mind, Suraa turned her attention to the very human man who stood before her.

When she saw the canvas on the easel, she moved before the painting and looked at the haunting images. The reds, orange and yellow colors blended in to depict the hot, parched life of the desert. At the arid sight, Suraa felt homesick for the red planet of her birth, but when she remembered that this was a Terran landscape, a slight smile turned her lips into a curve.

"You like it?" he asked as he began to wipe down his brushes before carefully putting them away.

"Yes, very much," she acknowledge as she stood mesmerized by the beautifully haunting image. Before she realized it, he was standing behind her, his body easily molded to hers as his chin rested near her cheek. His strong arms snaked around her waist as he held her close.

"So, what brings you here?" he asked in sotto voice.

Shyly, she ducked her head as the feel of his breath caused the hair on the back of her neck to rise. Closing her eyes, she leaned back against him as he began to lightly kiss her cheek. Suraa never thought that she would welcome the touch of a human, but ever since arriving on Terra, she grew to welcome human contact. Contrary to her mother's words, Suraa knew nothing about human sexual nature. In the beginning she didn't understand the unwarranted attentions of men nor did she think that close contact would be welcome. But there was a great deal that she had learned in her time with humans. She discovered that although it may seem illogical, the pleasures that could be derived from two bodies were exquisite in its simplicity.

"Come on Suraa, what's going on?" he whispered again as he turned her to face him, his dark eyes held hers as he gently brushed aside a strand of hair from her face. At this move she realized that she was still wearing her filthy waitress uniform. Crinkling up her nose, she pulled away from him as she dropped her cape on the back of a chair and began to make her way to the facilities.

"I need to wash the stench from me," she said as she began to unclothe and enter the small shower cubicle.

"What stench? I don't smell anything but you," he added as he moved to join her.

"For a human, you can be unkind. I do not smell like cooked animal flesh," she added with humorous indignation as she cast him a slight smile.

"Well I don't smell anything offensive ... exciting maybe, but not offensive," his voice held a melodic tone as he stripped away his garments and followed her into the small enclave.

"Humans! Your noses are so inferior," she whispered as he pulled her into his embrace.



No words were needed, so in silence they alternated between gentle kisses and bathing each other. The telltale sign of his arousal brushed against her skin causing a shiver up her spine. For one wicked moment she had an image in her mind of her mother's disgust. T'Pring would have wrinkled her nose at the idea of being so close to a human. Suraa had seen her reaction enough times when she spoke of Spock. It was enough for Suraa to realize that whatever disgust her mother held toward the Star Fleet officer was also bestowed upon her. But it didn't matter to her. Suraa no longer had to answer to her mother so she didn't care if she received the woman's approval. So rather than dwell upon these errant thoughts, she allowed herself the delicious moments that she could share with a human who was gentle and kind to her.

Just as they had done in the past, the two quickly bathed and then dried each other off. As he moved through his loft turning off the lights, she crawled into his bed and watched his actions. His long damp hair hung past his broad shoulders. When he turned the final light off, she could see his silhouette through the diffused light of the city street lamps. Through the haze of darkness she saw his prominent erection and a slight smile crossed her lips.

Although she had taken all of the required courses that taught the act of mating, there were a great many things that were left out. What she had not learned in school, Suraa learned from her mother, which was very little. T'Pring never spoke of what she shared with Stonn, but Suraa knew that they frequently mated. It was an activity that they both seemed to enjoy and although neither one spoke of it, Suraa could not help but think that such activity was illogical. The only thing that T'Pring openly spoke of was the horrid experience that she had at the hands of Spock, and like a criminal paying for the crime of her father, T'Pring let Suraa know that such activity was a disgusting, illogical human failing. But now, after living amongst humans and sharing herself with them she realized that such closeness was anything but illogical. It was this very human man who reinforced in her mind that she no longer cared if her mother approved or not. All Suraa cared about was spending as much time as she could with this handsome man.

As was his nature, Joseph moved slowly. His gentle touches lowered her barriers that were always placed around her psyche. Lips that were beautiful to behold left a trail over her body. His fingers that could caress the most intoxicating images on a canvas freely roamed over her body. Each touch elicited a slight sigh from deep in her throat. When he dipped down between her legs, she heard her own rasping breath like a distant echo. Her legs quivered as his artful tongue did things to her that no other could, and when she felt all control lost, he held fast and rode out the waves that shattered through her Vulcan sensibilities. As the sound of the city rushed outside, she felt as if she were riding on the tailwind of a sandstorm. Before she could come down from her exquisite high, he moved over her body, his hardness easily slipped into her wet, welcoming folds.

As their bodies moved against each other in a syncopated rhythm, Suraa wondered what a full Vulcan melding would have been like with this man. The pleasures that she received, the exquisite sensations that his rhythmic thrusts caused, brought about a sense of wonder and amazement that she wished that she could share with him. But as her mother had always pointed out, Suraa was human with no psi abilities. All of the Vulcan healers had stated that this was an anomaly that might not ever change. For T'Pring, it was a further reminder of who Suraa's father was. Suraa had been told by the healers that if she were bonded to a Vulcan, he would be able to mind meld with her in order that she could share in the mating ritual. Because of this, a part of her always wondered what it would have been like to share these tumultuous sensations with the man who was now riding her body.

When she reached behind his back and felt his muscles straining, she arched her back as a wordless "O," escaped her control. Her legs wrapped instinctively around him, pulling him, beckoning him to fill her completely. As the dampness of their sweat mingled, Suraa acknowledge that it was illogical to assume that a Vulcan man could have achieved the same results upon her as this very human male. So rather than dwell on a mind bond that they could never achieve, she put her full concentration into the human mating ritual.

If anyone had told Suraa that she would one day be making love to a human, she would not have believed them. She would never have thought that her body could respond in this manner from the mere touch of a man. Although she knew that a marriage with a Vulcan could never be in her future, she never contemplated bonding with anyone else. But that was then. That time was long ago before her mother had ordered her to leave her childhood home. It was before her mother cast forth wicked accusations that Suraa did not understand. And it seemed like it was a life time ago since she took what meager credits she had to travel across space to the only planet where the inhabitants would accept her.

"Suraa..." his husky voice whispered as she moved below him. Before he realized a change, her slender legs pulled him and held him deeply within her as she pushed against his chest until he rolled onto his back still attached. As she straddled him, she felt him deep within her. Her eyes closed in concentration as her hips swayed over him. She felt him below her pushing upward, hips straining against gravity to fill her completely, and then he gave in and simply allowed her to move to the rhythm of her bodies needs.

"Suraa ... l-love me," he whispered as he sat up and wrapped his arms around her body. Like a man lost at sea, he clung to her. His breath came in harsh, gasping sounds.

With a negative shake of her head, she lightly touched the tip of her fingers against his lips. When she clenched her lower muscles, he inhaled deeply as he rested his head against her bosoms. She wrapped her arms around his back and held him close as she continued to rock her hips back and forth.

The sound of his voice, the request he made was nothing new to her, but she could not give him what he wanted. Although her mother accused her of human failings, she did not know what it meant to love. She could not have explained that for her, love was not a possibility. So rather than answer his question, she simply continued to sway over his body; their mutual pleasure ricocheted through their bodies as they strove to reach their separate climaxes. Only after he cried out and she felt him releasing his seed within her did she allow herself to lose control.

A slight meowing sound came from deep in Suraa's throat as she felt the pleasure race from where they were joined, through her body, to end in the core of her brain. Shivering uncontrollably, she held fast to his body as the last remnants of pleasure surged through them. When it was complete, she felt her body drained of strength as she fell over him. His arms held her close as his heart rate slowly decreased and his breathing returned to normal.

"Suraa..." he whispered through the darkness. Before he could say more, she reached up and laid her fingers over his lips to quiet his next words.

"Shush," she asked as she disentangled herself from him. When she lay on her side, she felt him moving behind her. While one arm cradled her head, the other wrapped over her body and held her close.

"Can I ask why did you came here tonight? Not that I mind, or anything. I'm just wondering," his voice was tinged with amusement.

She thought about his question for only a moment before she spoke softly. "He was there again."

"Your father?" he seemed suddenly alert.

"Yes. He was there again," she sighed.

"Did he follow you again?"

"No ... he spoke to me," she explained as her mind replayed that first official meeting with the man who had never been in her life.

"He ordered pancakes again?" he chuckled softly.

She saw the humor in his question and felt a smile cross her lips. With very little vegetarian plates to offer, the Captain was left with ordering only one dish. Each time he showed up during Nadine's day off, he would take the same table and order the same meal, and Suraa served him as if he were a stranger. Which when she thought about it, he was. He may have been the reason for her conception, but she had never met him before. Suraa knew who he was and as a child she followed his activity closely. A part of her child's mind dreamed of the day when he would grow tired of the stars and return for her. But he never did. Instead he found a human woman and married her and together they had children -- they had a family, something that Suraa could never be a part of.

Ever since Nadine had brought her new romantic interest and his friends to the café, Suraa noticed the scrutiny from the Vulcan. Although she always knew about her father and his famous friends, she chose not to tell Nadine because a part of her believed what T'Pring had said. Spock had taken her mother against her will, and Suraa was the result of that rape. Throughout her childhood, he chose not to acknowledge or be a part of her life because, as T'Pring had said, Suraa was inferior even to the half-breed.

"He did not order this time," she whispered as she leaned back in her lover's embrace. "He was sitting in his vehicle again and before my bus arrived, he came to speak with me."

Joseph remained patiently silent, and then asked softly, "What did he want?"

"He asked if I knew who he was."

"And?"

"I told him that I knew, that he was my father ... and ... I asked him to stop following me," she sighed as she turned over onto her back and gazed up through the darkness at the human.

"Do you think maybe he wanted to get to know you?" Joseph's voice was a calming force for her turbulent thoughts. She contemplated his question, her brow creased as she held his larger hand in hers.

"No. He couldn't want that," she answered with finality.

"How do you know? Do you think he would be following you all these weeks and not want to get to know you?" he asked, but she found herself without an answer. In a gentle manner he pulled his hand from hers and cupped her chin until she looked at him through the diffused light, "I think he would like to get to know you."

"No, I ... don't believe it," she turned away from him, her mind trying to block out his words of reason.

"Suraa, why can't you believe that your father wants to get to know you? Because of all the crap that your mother has told you?" He pulled her into an embrace when he noticed her sudden melancholy. "Listen to me, Suraa, your mother is not always right and there are always two sides to every story."

"M-My mother..."

"Filled you with a bunch of lies," he stated firmly before softly kissing her temple.

"How can you say that when you do not even know her?" she asked, desperately wishing that she could believe him.

"Because..." Joseph's warm slender fingers brushed her sweat drenched hair away from her forehead. "She convinced you that you were ugly, and you're not."

At his words she pulled away from him and sat up. With head lowered in shame she drew her knees to her chest. She felt him move behind her and wrap his arms around her shoulders.

"Suraa, if you could see yourself the way that I see you, you'd know that your mother was wrong. I don't know what her problem was, or why she thought no Vulcan man would want you, I only know that I'm very thankful that she never had you ... what do you call it? Bonded? Because if you were, then you wouldn't be here with me now." The tenderness of his voice brought weakness to her resolve. As she turned away from him, she felt slight moisture fill her eyes. Angered at her lack of control, she wiped away the evidence of her illogical human emotions.

"Honey ... Suraa, I think I know you well enough by now. You've told me a lot, and what you haven't said, I've figured out," he explained. "Remember what you told me when I first met your cat? Remember how I asked how someone as beautiful as you could take in such a mangy thing? Remember what you told me?"

"That he was the mirror of my katra," she whispered softly.

"Yes, your katra, your soul. And the name you gave him?"

"Itaru," she looked away, ashamed that she had bared herself to this degree. As if ignoring her discomfort, he held her close.

"You named him ugly, and you feel that he mirrors your soul. It doesn't take a great leap to figure out that this is how you see yourself," he explained, his voice softly soothing.

"He is not really ugly," Suraa replied as she leaned into his embrace.

"Ummm, the cat is missing patches of fur, he has one ear that was chewed off in a fight, he's blind in one eye, and he's got a scary meow," Joseph added.

"Yes, this is true, but he is not really ugly. He is very soothing to me," she explained.

"So he has an inner beauty?"

"Yes."

"Just like you." She felt Joseph's smile in the darkness. His lips lightly kissed the side of her cheek as he held her close. "You have an inner beauty, and regardless of what your mother says, you are beautiful on the outside too. I should know, I've been given the pleasure of seeing all of you," he teased as his palm gently cupped her breast.

"Humans!" she shook her head in mock horror as she pushed him away before turning and lying in his arms. As she rested her head on his chest, she listened to the gentle beating of his heart. His hands softly stroked her bare back as they eased into a comfortable silence.

"Suraa?" Joseph's voice rose quietly in the darkness. "I know why you can't love me, I know that your mother did a real trip on your head." His voice was tinged with anger as he wrapped his arms protectively around her body. "It's okay, I'm willing to wait, but, Suraa, don't close the door on your father. You've already lost your mother, you have no family ... except me." The last words were spoken under his breath. "Suraa, if your father wants to get to know you, give him a chance." His voice grew silent as she lay partly over his body. In an absent manner she draped a leg over his as she thought over his words.

"What if he never comes back again? What if what my mother has said is true?" she whispered her darkest thoughts.

"I'd bet everything that I have that your mother is wrong, and if he's been following you around this past month, I don't believe the lies she told you," he answered confidently.

"You think...?" But she couldn't finish her thoughts as her deepest fears crept into her psyche.

"Yes, I think he wants to get to know you. I think he must have a reason for his actions. You should at least give him a chance when he comes back into your life." The fatigue laced his words as a yawn escaped his control. "Do you believe me?" he asked.

She thought about his comments. There was a part of her that marveled at the logic of his human thought patterns. Yet despite all that he said, she felt an inner darkness threatening to consume her.

"I want to believe," she whispered softly.

He lay motionless for a moment, and then hugged her close. She felt his lips brush against her hair before he pulled the covers over their bodies. The early morning chill was abated by the warmth of the thick comforter and their mutual body heat.

"Don't worry, you'll see that I was right," he stated sleepily. "Now let's get some sleep. We're going to have to go to your place and feed that mangy fur ball before my class." He patted her shoulder lovingly. "And Suraa...?"

She looked up at him, an eyebrow cocked inquisitively. "Yes?"

"I've emptied a drawer for you. If you don't want to move in with me, I think you should at least have some of your clothes here so that you don't have to go out in public wearing my clothes. My clothes are too big and baggy on you; it's a crime to hide your body like that." He smiled as sleep slowly consumed him.

Although she knew it was illogical, Suraa thought she felt her heart skip a beat. No, she would not move in with him. She could not accept his offer because she knew that at this point in time, she could not give to him what he required. Love and emotions were still too new for her so rather than move in, they would continue as they have been. But at the thought of having some space for herself, she felt the alien emotion of warmth and comfort. A part of her would like to say that this was the first time since arriving on Terra that she had felt such emotions, but when she looked into her memories she knew that it was the first time in her life that she had ever experienced these comforting feelings.

With a slight sigh she closed her eyes and smiled when she realized that her mother's predictions had not come true. She had not become a brothel whore and although he was not Vulcan, this man cared deeply for her. "Perhaps he is right and the rest of my mother's words about Captain Spock will be proven wrong?" she silently hoped. With this thought she surrendered herself to sleep as she felt her lover's arms holding her close.

* * *

Twenty-two hundred hours and Spock was still not home. Christine glanced out the large picture window and was disappointed to see only darkness. In a nervous manner she absently chewed her lower lip as she tried to calm her rampant thoughts. For the past month her husband had been coming home late and although his Vulcan reaction was to deny it, he was acting moody.

As Christine looked out of the large picture window at the dark landscape, she could not help but remember their early days aboard the Enterprise. When she first joined Star Fleet she was searching for a lost love, but ended up finding a new one. While some may have thought her foolish, she could never help the feelings that overcame her and, although they had not acted on their love at first, eventually she and Spock were able to find the logic for their union. Many thought that she was a martyr by saving him from the certain death of pon farr. But what most did not know, and what she and her husband kept a carefully guarded secret, was that their physical attraction began long before the onset of his pon farr.

"But even if it hadn't, I wouldn't have done anything different," she said out loud in the empty room. Her voice echoed off the hard wood floors. At the hollowness of the room, she released a deep sigh as she turned away from the window. All the furniture remained where it has always been, yet the place felt so empty -- void of warmth and life. With a slight grimace, Christine wondered if it mirrored how she felt inside.

If this had been the first time that he was late, she might have been worried. It didn't raise her concern the first time it happened. But this wasn't the first time, nor was it the second. After happening so many times she began to feel a different set of emotions. Anger, frustration, hostility and yes, she was ashamed to admit it, fear. After nearly sixteen years and three children together, Spock was staying out late and she felt powerless to do anything about it. The first time he was late he told her that he had been detained. She never thought to ask, but assumed that he was at his office at Star Fleet headquarters. As a teaching instructor, staying up late to plan the next day's assignments occurred from time to time, but when it continued night after night, she had to take note of the situation. It also didn't help when she showed up at his office late one night to find it completely dark.

"What are you up to, Spock?" she whispered out loud as she paced the length of the living room.

Their single family dwelling was located in the historic city of Woodside, just a short ride to San Francisco's Star Fleet Academy. Back when the town was founded it was known as a sleepy enclave where families knew each other, but during the subsequent political upheaval and wars, it became an enclave where freedom fighters were able to move without detection. Despite such a rich and historic past, the city remained largely unscathed and was still a welcoming place for families. This is why she was grateful that Spock also liked the home that was nestled near the foot of the mountains. With their first baby on the way and her entrance into medical school, the home had proven to be the best investment for the new family.

As she remembered back to those days, a cloud of melancholy clung to her. If he were human Christine would have suspected that he was having an affair. Between his sullen mood, arriving home late and the peculiar odor that clung to him, she knew that something was amiss. The first time she noticed the smell she couldn't pin point the aroma, but one day when she gathered his uniform to be cleaned, she held the coat to her nose and took in the strange aroma until it became clear.

"Perfume and ....grease? No, not grease," she had softly whispered as her features bunched into a frown. When she placed a part of the sleeve under her nose she had the distinct image of berries ...boysenberries to be exact, which only led to more confusion. Her husband was staying out late and sometimes he returned home smelling like perfume or sweet berries. Sometimes she couldn't detect anything on him, but she knew that something was amiss because of his more-than-usual standoffish nature. But no matter how many times she asked, he would only say that he was unavoidably detained.

Christine Chapel's mind raced over a million possibilities as she began to turn off the living room lights. When he began to stay out late, she didn't think anything of it. But then she noticed his sudden mood changes. That, combined with the strange aroma that clung to him led her to believe only one thing, but as far as she was aware of, her suspicions were impossible for Vulcans to commit.

Being a doctor she quickly scoured every medical journal she could find on Vulcan physiology in hopes of finding an answer to the problem. But all of the journals, both the ones from Vulcan and other researchers, never mentioned that Vulcans were capable of extramarital affairs. And when she thought about it, she had to admit to the silliness of it all. How could a Vulcan, male or female, have an affair when they are bonded to their mate? While it might be easy to fool a spouse in a non-telepathic union, the permanent mind link that formed the core of their marriage kept it impossible to keep secrets, or so she thought. Not only that, but affairs were simply not logical, Christine had tried to convince herself.

"What Vulcan would undertake such a covert liaison knowing that their spouse would find out?" Christine said the mantra in hopes of staving off her worst fears. Nor sooner did she say the phrase before the nagging thought in the back of her mind reminded her that her husband was half Vulcan. Spock was also human and on numerous occasions he had proven that although Vulcans did not believe that lying was logical, sometimes they did lie especially if it was to fulfill a mission, a duty to either Star Fleet, or a friend.

"But this has nothing to do with duty," she whispered out loud as she began to make her way up the stairs to the second floor of their house.

When she stood at the top of the stairs, she looked down at the large open glass window. She hoped to see the familiar lights of his air car coming into view as he parked it next to hers. As the hopelessness of the situation consumed her, she closed her eyes and reached out through the bond. She felt his spirit near, the warmth of his katra seemed to surround her, and then it suddenly closed on her. As if afraid that she would get too close, he shut the bond down by pulling up a wall between them. At the hopelessness of her situation, a slight gasp escaped her control as the telltale tears began to well in her eyes.

"No," she whispered as she tried to understand what was happening to him -- to them.

Christine turned and began to make her way down the hall. When she reached her eldest daughter's room, she stood for a moment and composed herself. After wiping her eyes, she sighed deeply before replacing her frown with a smile. As she opened the door, she glanced in and noticed Mandy sitting at her desk. Her computer was on as she was working on her homework assignment. The girl's long, brown hair was held back by a pink ribbon. She wore a long, oversized teeshirt that had the image of a teddy bear on the front. With a curious arch of a brow, the girl turned toward the door.

"Father is late again?" the preteen asked as a frown crossed her young features.

Whenever Christine saw this expression on her daughter, she felt an irrational fear enter her heart. At only twelve years old, the girl seemed wise beyond her years. Sometimes it felt that her daughter had never been a child, her father's Vulcan traits sometimes played a big part in her personality and habits. As Christine moved to the girl, she contemplated how her child was growing up before her eyes. As a doctor, she knew that the girl was caught in the cusp between being a child, and wanting to be an adult, but as a mother she could only feel that her baby was growing up way too fast.

Donning a casual smile, Christine hugged the girl close. "He's busy but I'm sure he'll be home soon," she assured as the girl released a dramatic sigh, demonstrating that even thought she was Vulcan, her human nature was also present.

"Mother, are you going to remind him about my birthday? It's my ku-shinas, Grandma and Grandpa and everyone will be here!" the girl exclaimed as a look of worry etched her features. "He won't be gone for that, will he?" Mandy's voice released a childish whine as her brows knitted into a frown, reminding Christine that at least for a while, her daughter was still very much a child and needed her. The fear that her father would miss what was the equivalent of a Vulcan coming out party worried the girl.

"Do you honestly think that your father would miss your thirteenth birthday?" Christine placed her hands on her hips as she gave her daughter an incredulous look.

"I don't know, Mom! He's been acting so ... so ... weird lately!" Mandy's childish reactions were already well into resembling a teenager. "What's his problem anyway?" she huffed with a shake of her head.

At the tone of her daughter's voice, Christine frowned as she shook her head. "Don't you talk in such a disrespectful tone, young lady. Now I told you that your father would not forget about your birthday, and he won't! So don't give me any lip like that again. Do I make myself clear?"

Mandy's eyes lowered in shame, a slight sigh escaped the sub-teens control before she turned away, head lowered. "I'm sorry, Mamma." A child's voice replaced that of a petulant teen. "I just ... it's just that, it's my ku-shinas!" Her voice cracked on the verge of being a whine. "He's been so busy lately, I'm afraid that he's going to forget," the girl tried to explain.

"I know honey, but don't worry. We have over a month to go before your big day, and a lot can happen. And I promise you, your father will not forget your birthday, alright?" She knelt down in front of the girl as she made eye contact. She noticed the familiar hazel eyes gazing back. Unspoken words were being held at bay as the girls mind wavered between that of a child, and a young lady. When she saw the determination in her mother's eyes, Mandy released a soft sigh.

"Oh, alright," she sighed dramatically.

"Alright then," Christine smiled as she rose to her full height, her gaze fell upon the girls computer screen before she lightly kissed the crown of her head. "As soon as you're finished, get some sleep." She smiled before she left the girl. In typical teenage fashion, Amanda, or Mandy as they called her, mumbled something inarticulate before the sound of her typing on the keyboard was heard.

With only a shake of her head, Christine made her way down the hall. When she approached her son's room, she listened for a moment for any sounds. As a teenager, she made certain to give her eldest as much privacy as he needed. Through the door she heard the familiar sound that brought a smile to her lips. Slowly, she opened the door and saw him sprawled out in his bed fast asleep. He slept in only a pair of blue shorts, a habit he began when he turned twelve and deemed himself too old to wear children's pajamas. As she gazed down at her son, she smiled as she watched him sleeping soundly. With lips slightly parted, a soft snore emanated from the teen. When she moved to stand over him, she sighed as she shook her head, then reached down and removed the ear pieces that he wore. Her fingertips lightly grazed the soft, warm outline of his delicate elfin ears. As she set the unit beside his bed, she heard the slight sound of music blaring from the earpieces, before they automatically turned off.

"You're going to ruin your hearing," she whispered as she smiled at Setton before reaching down and lightly brushing her fingers through his hair. Almost fifteen and he was changing so fast. There was just a hint of downy soft peach fuzz on his chin that would one day become a beard and his body had grown into a tall, lanky young man. Deep in sleep, he mumbled something inaudible before rolling over into a tight ball. "That's it, my baby, just sleep," Christine indulged herself by pulling the cover over him and then kissing his cheek, knowing that he would never allow such open affection when he was awake.

With a slight smile she gazed at him for a moment. With his dark black hair, if he had kept it short and neatly combed, he would have looked like a younger version of his father. But ever since he turned fourteen, Setton became a rebellious teen who began to wear his hair longer than any respectable Vulcan would. The thick black locks hung down to his neck to give an unruly, yet attractive appearance. His delicately arched brows always enhanced the playfulness of his gaze. It was no surprise to Christine that her son was popular among the girls at his school.

Once she left her son's room, she went to the baby's room. T'Rea was not really a baby anymore. At five years old she was already growing up faster than Christine wanted. When Christine opened the door, she saw the little girl sprawled across her bed, her head lying on the opposite end of the bed as her arms dangled over the edge. On the floor below her hand were miniature Vulcan models, the old style buildings were sprawled over the floor and the Vulcan families that occupied the dwellings lay nearby. In her hand she clutched a tiny figure of a pet sehlat. As if reading Christine's mind, a soft, growling noise came from the dark closet.

"Mookie, come on out," she ordered the family pet. The large, furry creature popped his head out. His smile grew large to reveal fanged teeth. Fear was the common reaction that many humans held when they first saw the typical Vulcan pet, but after nearly sixteen years, Christine was used to the gentle giant.

"Come on, Mookie, why not help me put your mistress to sleep?" she spoke softly to the creature as she took the toys from her baby's hand. The furry animal moved toward her and began to sniff at T'Rea's hair. "She can fall asleep anywhere, can't she?" Christine spoke softly as she extracted the various toys from the girl's hand, then lifted her gently in her arms and laid her in her bed in the right direction. As she pulled the cover over T'Rea, she smiled at the pixie face of her youngest child. Her dark brown hair was cut in a page-boy style, which made it easy for a busy mom to maintain. When the sehlat jumped onto the foot of the bed, Christine smiled down at the animal as she tucked in T'Rea.

"Keep a good watch," she whispered to the Vulcan pet as she rose from the bed and moved to the door. With a glance back, Christine smiled sadly as she closed the door. Christine did not even have to look out of the window to know that her husband had not yet returned home. Whatever had been keeping him late was still taking up all of his concentration to the point where he was blocking her out.

When she entered the master bedroom her mind churned endlessly. Her heart beat uncontrollably as she tried to comprehend Spock's actions. Try as she might, she could only come up with one answer. Despite being a Vulcan, her husband was having an affair. With a grimace, she unclothed and pulled on her comfy night clothes. The long flannel gown covered her from the chill. When she entered the adjourning restroom, she absently took a jar of cold cream and began her moisturizing regimen. As she looked up at her reflection in the mirror, she noticed the signs of age that had somehow crept up on her. Dark circles under her eyes made her look tired and wrinkles that she did not remember seeing seemed magnified under the lights. To make matters worse, she was beginning to see the slight gray in her brown hair. Grimacing at her own image, she shook her head in disappointment at what she saw. Christine sighed deeply when she noticed her oversized, baggy gown hanging loosely on her body.

For the first time in many years, she took a serious inventory of herself. The young, youthful nurse who first joined Star Fleet had somehow aged into a slightly graying, a bit heavier older woman. Setting down her cold cream, she looked down at her gown and touched its warm fabric.

"Christine, you idiot," she whispered. "What happened to those sexy nightgowns that you used to wear?" she asked her reflection as she angrily shook her head, and then move to the sink to wash the cream from her face. She realized that it had been some time since she had made love to her husband, and she idly wondered why this had happened.

It was true. After nearly sixteen years she had grown complacent in her relationship. The marriage she held, the mind link that made her forever bonded to Spock, caused her to relax in her appearance. As a working mother of three growing children, she found herself continually exhausted. Between duties at the hospital, driving the kids to all of their after school functions as well as keeping the house together, she was lucky if she could retire early at night. With such a busy schedule, making love was the last thing on her mind, and perhaps this is what had caused her husband to wander. But just as this thought crossed her mind, fury began to boil deep within.

"Damn it! How am I supposed to keep my figure after three children? How am I supposed to continually be a sex kitten after a full days work as a doctor and a mother?" she hissed to herself as she moved to her bedroom.

Angered, she began to pace the length of the room as her thoughts churned over a myriad of thoughts. Before her emotions could consume her, she heard the familiar sound of his footfalls on the hardwood floor in the entryway. When the staircase creaked with each light step he took, she inhaled deeply as she fortified her will power. Knowing that he was so close, Christine girded her emotions as she waited for him.

When Spock slowly entered the room he looked like a stricken puppy. Although he would have denied it, she could see his sullen mood and for an instant she had the urge to go to him and hold him close. But then her raging thoughts bubbled to the surface and kept her at bay.

"Spock." Christine crossed her arms in front of her as she gave him a steely look.

"Christine." His voice held a tinge of apprehension, yet he said nothing. As if immune to her presence, he moved to the closet as he began to unbutton his uniform coat.

"Spock, it's time." She fought to keep her voice steady as she moved to sit on the edge of their bed.

He stood still as he tilted his head. She could almost imagine the thought patterns that flew through his brain before he moved to sit in the only chair in the room. With a slight sigh, he set his uniform coat on the arm of the chair as he clasped his hands in his lap.

"Very well," was all he said as he kept his eyes averted.

Christine's gaze grew thin as she stared at her husband, "You admit that something is going on?"

"Yes."

There. That was it. He admitted it. He didn't even try to deny it. As if it was an ordinary, common event, the truth was finally out and Christine was not sure how to take it. Gulping down her anger, she inhaled deeply as she jumped from the bed and began to pace the length of the room.

"So ... how long?" Her voice sounded calm even to her ears.

"Only..." But she didn't give Spock time to finish, instead she whirled around and stared down at him, the anger clear in her voice.

"Over a month now." She did not ask, but stated.

"Yes."

"Very well." Her lips grew thin as she turned away from him. She fought to keep her rage under control. "What is her name?" she asked in a hush.

"Suraa. Her name is Suraa." His voice sounded too calm, too controlled for her liking.

Christine held on the edge of the dresser drawer. She felt her fingers gripping the wood as she fought for control. The woman who Spock was having an affair with, the one who kept him out late and who now occupied his complete thoughts was Vulcan. Although she did not want to know, she found herself asking the probing questions.

"What does she do?" Her head was bowed as her mind tried to grasp that this was real, it was not a nightmare. The events of the past, her conversation with her husband was really happening and there was no way to take it back.

"She is a waitress."



"A waitress?" Christine found herself repeating in disbelief.

Here she was an educated woman. She had gone through the arduous studies of Star Fleet's medical school to become a nurse and eventually a doctor. She achieved the rank of commander and she always believed that one of the things that attracted her husband to her was her keen analytical mind, and now she learned that all of her qualities could be replaced by a waitress.

"A waitress," she repeated again in disbelief as she released a tired sigh. "Spock..." She shook her head in confusion as she returned to pacing the length of the room. "How could you?"

"Christine ...I ..." His voice grew deep as he leaned back in the chair.

Christine did not wait for him to complete his sentence. Instead, she interrupted him to ask the nagging question that had been burning a hole in her brain. "Is she pretty?" Christine looked at him, her arms crossed in front of her.

"She is attractive." His voice was steady with not a hint of remorse.

Christine incredulously shook her head as she turned away from him. Her lower lip began to tremble as the tears of anger, frustration and sorrow crept into her eyes. In an attempt to stifle her emotions and regain control she closed her eyes tightly as she began to make a conscious attempt to control her breathing.

"Tell me," she whispered ever so softly, almost afraid of his answer. "How old is she?"

Her husband was silent for a moment and then he answered in a clear, deep voice, "Nineteen point ten standard months, if my calculations are correct."

Christine suddenly froze in place, her mind registering his answer. A part of her heart felt like it was sinking. Her earlier fears, the insecurities over her age and looks, crept into her psyche. And then his answer finally hit.

"Nineteen point ten standard months!" She spun on him, her eyes wide with disbelief. Not much older than their son, her mind raged as she stared at his dejected form. "NINETEEN??? Spock, have you lost your mind? NINETEEN?" She shook her head in righteous indignation.

"Christine, I know I erred, I know I should have told you sooner, however..." She cut off his words as she stepped away from him.

"Sooner? Spock, how long ..." She was afraid of his response. When his answer registered, she turned on him. "Have you no scruples? Nineteen? She's a child, Spock!" She began to pace again, her anger and frustration for her crumbling marriage began to consume her. "Is this some sort of weird Vulcan mid-life crisis that requires a healer, because trust me, Mister, I don't think I'm the healer that you want taking care of you right now!" she all but hissed as she felt her jaw setting tightly.

"I know I made a grave error, I understand that. Christine, I should have told you sooner. I never should have kept this from you." She heard the plea in his voice as he rose from the seat and moved toward her. She felt him reaching out through their bond, but rather than let him in, she was the one to close the door on him as she spun around and stared at him.

"Don't you dare!" Her voice was low and menacing as she gazed at him through haze filled eyes. "Don't you dare try to open something that you've actively kept me out of!" She pointed a finger at him accusingly, halting him in his steps.

"What are you saying Spock, that you should have told me before it happened? That you would expect me to just sit here and patiently wait while you are out with a ...a ...a nineteen year old waitress?" The shock was evident in her voice. "What did you think, Spock, that I'd let you go off like that and do what you will with your ... your paramour?" she hissed, and then continued, "because if you do, you've got another thing coming, Mister!"

"Paramour?" Spock looked as close to being confused as he'd ever been. "Christine, I do not have a paramour. You are my wife, I would never..."

"Then who is the nineteen year old waitress ...Suraa-whats-her-name?" She dared him to answer. He looked at her with the same sincerity that she saw when he first asked her to marry him. The naked truth of his emotions emanated from his dark eyes as he held her gaze.

"Suraa is my daughter." Spock's voice was like a strangled whisper.

"Y-Your ..." It was Christine who looked shocked at her husband's reply.

"She is my daughter, Christine. Suraa is my daughter," Spock stated again as he moved to her and took her hands. In his familiar, gentle manner he led her to the bed and sat her down as he joined her. "Christine, I have erred," he sighed as he lowered his head in shame.

Whatever anger, whatever frustrations or fears she had suddenly disappeared. As she held his hands in hers, she listened to everything that he had to say. He spoke with slow, controlled tones. His words outlined all that had happened since his first pon farr. The shame he felt, the complete and total helplessness for a medical condition that he had no control over was nothing new to her. She had already experienced it first hand, but somehow their love for each other helped them get through this Vulcan condition.

Although Christine had never met T'Pring, she knew who she was. She remembered seeing the beautiful woman on their first journey to Vulcan and could remember the pain of loss she felt when she realized that they were returning Spock to his home world in order to marry the woman. Nothing in her mind could have convinced her that such a union was right for him, but she said nothing. Later, when he returned to the ship with the deadly condition gone and divorced from the Vulcan woman, she took his words at face value. To the best of her knowledge, he never shared with either Jim or McCoy what actually happened on the planet. But now she knew. She understood that the only thing that kept him alive was the completing of the mating ritual.

"So you have a daughter with T'Pring and you kept this to yourself?" Her voice was tender as she reached up and brushed her fingers through his dark hair. He seemed oblivious to her touch as he sat with his head lowered.

"When I first learned that she carried a child, I returned to Vulcan. I had every intentions of claiming the child as my own. But..." His voice trailed off as he turned away from her, his features suddenly turning to stone. "T'Pring led me to believe that there was a matter of paternity to consider. She was already bonded to Stonn, the time frame of the child's conception appeared ambiguous and..." He sighed deeply for the first time. "T'Pring brought up the fact that I would not be a suitable father. With my duties to Star Fleet, I was hardly on Vulcan. I was in deep space undertaking dangerous missions that could possibly take my life. T'Pring convinced me that Stonn would be an exemplary father."

"And you believed her?" Christine suddenly felt anger rising in her toward the Vulcan woman. She was angry that the woman had the power to bring out such insecurities in her strong husband with just her words.

He thought over her response, and then glanced at her, an emotion close to sorrow hidden in his eyes. "At the time, it seemed ... logical."

"Oh, Spock." She shook her head as she reached for him and pulled him into her arms. "Vulcans can be so frustrating at times," she chided as she felt his arms wrap around her.

"You thought I was having an affair?" he asked as he pulled away from her.

She arched a brow in disbelief as she stared at him, and then said, "Think about it and then tell me what I should have thought."

He gazed at her as his fingers lightly touched the side of her face. Even after all of these years, his fingers caused a shiver through her spine. The closest thing to a smile crossed his lips as a sigh escaped his control.

"Yes, my wife. I understand, and I grieve for all of the turmoil I have caused thee." He spoke softly. "I could never have an affair. You are my wife, my bondmate. I cleave to only you."

"Oh Spock!" She pulled him close and held fast to him. The bond that had been closed only a few hours ago suddenly opened and flourished between them. She felt all of his love enter her. The sorrows, fears and regrets of his past suddenly emerged and together they faced each obstacle together. With the fragile bond of their marriage now stronger, Christine was able to understand her husband's actions. As illogical as it may have been, she had to admit that under the circumstances, he responded in the only way that he knew how.

"So, Spock, you have a daughter?" she smiled at her husband as she felt the tensions and fear leave his body. "When will I meet her?"

Spock looked at her with a serious expression. "You wish to meet Suraa?"

"Of course, Spock. She's your daughter, she's family. I think it would be good to finally meet the woman who has taken so much of my husband's time lately. And besides, I'm sure she'd like to get to know her brother and sisters as well. Don't you think she'd like to get to know her family?"

"I do not believe this is the case." A frown crossed his features as he looked away. "She asked me to stop following her."

Christine remained quiet as she thought over his comment. When she realized what he said, she looked at him and held his gaze. "Stop following her? Spock, exactly what were you doing this past month?"

"I was going to where she worked in hopes of getting to know her. A few times I followed her to make certain she arrived at her residence safely."

"You were stalking her?" she asked incredulously.

"I would hardly consider it..." He tried to sound indignant.

"You were stalking the poor girl!" She shook her head, then inhaled deeply and muttered under her voice, "It's no wonder Vulcans have managed for so long."

"Christine?" He looked at her confused.

"Oh, never mind," she chuckled softly as she leaned against him. "I can understand why she asked you not to follow her anymore, but we won't follow her. We'll go to the café, have dinner, and you can introduce me to your daughter. Perhaps if you aren't hiding in the shadows so much, she'll be more receptive to your overtures." She sighed as she wrapped an arm around his shoulders.

She could tell that Spock was contemplating her words. As if a weight had suddenly been removed from his shoulders, he seemed to relax as he leaned into her embrace. Through their marriage bond, she felt the warmth of his love radiating from him. With a slight smile, Christine closed her eyes as she leaned her head on his shoulder.

"I love you too, Spock," she answered, even though he never said a word.

* * *

The little diner in the heart of the Tenderloin was in full swing. The lights of the neon "open" sign flickered on and off as evidence that the bulb was on the verge of going out. The regular diners were already clustered at the counter that curved around the main preparation area of the little establishment. As the workers from the nearby factory entered and took up booths, the waitresses moved through the organized chaos to serve the needs of the patrons.

Suraa allowed her mind to wander over the words of her lover, while also attending to the customers at her tables. A few times Nadine hollered a question at her, but both women continued to make the rounds of their assigned tables. As she went back to the small window that opened to the cooking area, she placed her computer pad into the slot and waited as it scanned and tabulated an electronic bill.

"Honey, are you sure you can handle it?" Nadine finished tabulating her final customer as she looked over at the young Vulcan.

"Of course," was all Suraa said as she glanced down and began to separate the computer checks according to table.

"I'm glad you don't mind. I know it was short notice but Len managed to get tickets to the show, and you know how I've been dying to see them in concert!" The older woman smiled as she removed her apron and tossed it under the counter before grabbing her wrap and placing it around her shoulders. In an unconscious manner, the older woman fumbled through her small handbag as she prattled on about her upcoming date.

"Nadine, it is fine. It is always busy at this time, but once they have their meals, it will be no burden. Go and enjoy yourself," Suraa attempted to assure her as she grabbed the next set of prepared plates and hurriedly carried them to waiting customers.

"Thanks, hon, you're a real peach!" Nadine called out as she walked around the counter. Before she had a chance to leave the café, her loud voice of surprise caught Suraa's attention.

"Why, Captain Spock! What brings you here?" the older woman asked. Glancing up from a table, Suraa watched as her friend clasped the tall officer's arm, a moment of indecision crossed the Vulcan man's features before he gave a courteous nod. "And who is this beauty with you? Does your wife know?" Nadine chuckled as she winked and nudged the Star Fleet officer.

When Suraa saw the two, she blinked away her surprise before she returned her attention to her duties. In the back of her mind she heard her friend's warm greeting to the two, but continued to make her rounds of the room dispensing food and liquid refreshments to the patrons. She had spent all day contemplating Joseph's words, but even though his arguments were sound, there was a nagging part of her that doubted his logic. Why would Captain Spock want to get to know her? Would he even bother after she specifically asked him to stop following her? All of these questions crossed her mind in the blink of an eye.

For Christine, she didn't know what to expect. As soon as she was off duty, she quickly changed in the doctor's locker room into more suitable attire. Since Spock specifically stated that it was not a place with a clothing regulation, she chose a simple pant suit to wear, while he was still in his Star Fleet uniform. When the older waitress first approached them, Christine could barely contain a smile at the familiar southern drawl. Although she had heard from Leonard about his latest love, she had not yet met the woman. Now after seeing her bubbly personality, Christine could understand what attracted her mentor.

"Nadine," Spock's voice seemed deeper than usual as a familiar flush crossed his features. "May I introduce my wife, Dr. Chapel," he stated with a nod as Nadine's smile grew wide.

"Hey, it's a pleasure to finally meet you! I've heard so much about you from Len," Nadine exclaimed as she gave Christine a hug. "And pay no mind about that 'wife' comment I made. Heck, your man here is the most loyal man I've ever met, next to Len, that is." Nadine's ruby red lipstick seemed enhanced by the blush she wore. "But tell me, what brings you here, Captain Spock? If you had told me, I could have had Len pick me up here and we'd all have a bite together." Her features grew concerned. Then she added, "I'm going to have to leave, and shoot--" She glanced at one section of the café, "all of my booths are taken up. Well, don't you mind none, you both come on over here and Suraa will take good care of you," the older waitress continued her non-stop dialogue.

With a smile, Christine took a seat in the burgundy booth across from her husband. The blue and white speckled formica table top held an array of condiments on the end. Noticing the choice, Christine had a sinking feeling that there was not much on the menu that would be suitable to a Vulcan diet, or for that matter, any healthy diet. But she held back her reservations as she accepted the waitress' hospitality.

"Suraa ... Suraa, hon, come on over here for a bit," Nadine called to the younger waitress.

Christine was not certain what to expect. She vividly remembered the image of T'Pring, Spock's first betrothed, and knew what a beauty she was. So it shouldn't have been a surprise to her that his eldest daughter was a beauty as well. Even though T'Pring had once mentioned that the child might not be Spock's, Christine knew the moment she saw the young woman that her husband was, indeed, Suraa's biological father. From the gentle arch of her brows, to her slender delicate nose and to the tip of her elfin ears that were now concealed by her long hair under a waitress cap, there was a family resemblance between the young woman and Spock.

When the younger waitress stepped forward, her gaze remained impassive and neutral. If she was surprised by their visit, she managed to conceal it behind her Vulcan stoicism. Like long time friends, Nadine wrapped an arm around the younger woman's shoulder as she smiled down at the Captain and his wife.

"This here is Suraa. I'm not sure if you've ever met her before, Captain, but she's one of our finest waitresses. A hard worker who picked up real fast. She'll take care of you," she smiled as she gave the young waitress a friendly hug, then turned and looked at the woman, "Now, Suraa, you remember Captain Spock? Well. this here is his wife, so just go ahead and give them the star treatment!" Nadine instructed. When she glanced at the chronometer on the wall, a look of panic crossed her features. "Oh my, I'm already late! I'm sorry that I can't sit and gab longer, but we'll get another chance soon! You all just relax and let Suraa take care of you," the older waitress called out as she hurried from the café. When she left the building, she waved their way before disappearing down a dark side street.

During the exchange Suraa had enough time to assess the two people. She noticed the Star Fleet officer glancing down, his eyes never meeting hers. As for the human, she was as Suraa remembered from the news vids, except for the hair color. So many times she used to wonder what this woman possessed that encouraged her father to give up the stars. She used to think that she was a beauty beyond compare, but as she looked at her now, she could not help but feel a bit disappointed. The human that Spock had chosen to bond with was ordinary, as humans go. True, she was not unattractive, nor was she hideous as her mother implied. She was simply, for lack of a better word, common. But when the human turned her attention away from Nadine and glanced up at her, her eyes seemed to peer into Suraa's katra and her smile radiated the area. At this single glance, Suraa felt her heart skip a beat. For only a fraction of time she saw the twinkle of life sparkle in the human woman's eyes and she realized that this is what the officer must have been attracted to. There was an infectious sparkle in her eyes that seemed to warm the room.

Suraa found herself averting her gaze quickly as she handed the couple two menus. With only a nod of her head, she quickly left the table in order to retrieve two glasses of liquid for them. After setting the glasses down, she looked at the two who were gazing over the menu.

"Would you like to order now, or do you perhaps require more time?" Suraa spoke for the first time. She hoped that her voice was steady, that she did not display the embarrassing emotions that had crept out the last time Spock was sitting in this booth. As if she were studying for an exam, the human woman gazed intently at the menu before releasing a sigh. She smiled up at Suraa, that same mesmerizing sparkle in her eyes captivated the young Vulcan.

"Oh, I just don't know, it all looks so ... delicious!" Christine exclaimed.

At her comment, Suraa felt a brow rise as she attempted to understand the woman's sincerity. In her time with humans she had learned that their words held different degrees of truthfulness. While some were known to give fabricated tales, others held to high expectations for realism. Yet there were others, for whatever reason, who were prone to shift between the two worlds. Many of the latter humans did so because of their false need to give praise when none was due. Suraa estimated that Spock's wife was doing just this. She was praising the menu as a way of not causing undo stress, but why, Suraa did not know. "Surely this woman does not think that I would take a personal affront for any comments made about the food?" Suraa silently wondered.

"Umm, honey, why don't you go ahead and order while I look some more," the doctor absently said as she returned to her examination of the menu.

Suraa turned her attention from the human, to her father. For the first time since entering the café, he looked up at her. When their eyes met she saw a momentary glimpse of something, but was not certain what it was. Hope, longing, fear, perhaps regret? But it quickly disappeared when he looked down at the menu in his hands.

"Would you like the usual?" Suraa offered as she averted her gaze to the pad in her hands.

"Yes, please," his voice sounded strained as if it was difficult to talk.

"Very well," Suraa kept her composure. Her voice never released a hint of emotion as she made the notation on her notepad, knowing that her note was being transmitted to the screen in the kitchen. "Would you care for blueberry, strawberry or boysenberry syrup this time?" she looked back down at the Captain, his expression seemed a bit startled as she peered into his eyes. He inhaled deeply as a brow rose in a slight arch.

"Boysenberry this time, please," his replied as he quickly looked away while closing the menu.

"Very well." Suraa allowed the corner of her lips to curve into the barest hint of a smile before turning her attention to the human woman. As if realizing that she was waiting, the older brunette smiled as she pointed to an item on the menu.

"This fried chicken looks good, but I was wondering, would it be possible to substitute tofu for chicken?" her father's wife asked.

Suraa remained silent as she contemplated the question. She wondered how the old curmudgeon, Stan, would take to a special order. In the past any special request were met with loud shouts and abuse at the waitress who dared to pass along the request from a customer. Before Suraa could even reply, the human woman must have noticed her hesitation because she quickly looked down and pointed to a different item on the menu.

"Oh, never mind. How about this one, the southern fried catfish with potatoes?" the woman asked as she gazed up at Suraa. "Only, would it be possible to substitute egg plant instead of the catfish?"

As if noticing Suraa's distress, the human gave an apologetic smile and asked, "Tell me, is there anything on the menu that you could recommend?"

Suraa stood for a moment nonplus. Her expression remained neutral yet her mind churned with solutions to the problem. When one came to mind, she tilted her head toward the woman as she casually folded her palms before her.

"If madam will allow, I shall bring a plate that will be ... .suitable," she offered.

Christine knew that she was being difficult, but she didn't know what to do. Everything on the menu was already giving her gastric problems, and she'd only read the menu. She didn't want to seem like a snob in front of Spock's daughter, but she couldn't imagine not eating anything. When the young woman made the offer, Christine smiled when she saw the sincerity behind the young girl's Vulcan calm.

"Why, thank you! Yes, that would be very nice," she smiled as the woman nodded before collecting the menus and leaving them alone. "Spock, she is absolutely beautiful!" She leaned toward her husband as she watched Suraa disappear in the kitchen. "But I don't understand, why is she working in this place? I mean, not that there is anything wrong, but isn't it unusual for Vulcans to work in this type of ... .restaurant?"

"It is, Christine. But I have not been able to ascertain why Suraa would choose this establishment as a place for employment. I must also confess to confusion on the matter," he folded his hands neatly on the table as he gazed around the café. His eyes watched the tall woman moving from table to table, but when she turned their way, he looked away as if afraid of being caught.

"And she's so young! Is she in school?" Christine asked as she continued to watch the waitress, not at all concerned about her open curiosity.

"I do not believe so, although ..." Spock looked away, a shade of green crossed his features, "I have not had the opportunity to discuss matters with her."

Christine turned her attention away from the woman to her husband. She noticed how hard it was for him to be so close to his daughter, yet so far away. With a gentle smile she reached out and took his hand in hers. She sent her thoughts of hope and reassurance to her husband through their shared bond as she smiled at him.

"Don't worry, it will all work out," she confidently stated.

Suraa was in the back kitchen when she glanced out at the customers. Everyone was eating and appeared satisfied. When she looked at the table where her father and his wife sat, she allowed herself a moment to watch their interaction. She noticed her father's expression as the human took his hand. Rather than pull away, he clasped her hand in his as he listened attentively to the human. On Vulcan such openness would have never been seen. Touching, caressing, or even exchanging such intimacies vocally was unheard of and she was surprised to see such a display from the ever formal Star Fleet hero. The slight smile that he shared with his wife seemed to belay everything that T'Pring had ever said about him. With a curious arch of a brow, Suraa turned away and moved to the back refrigeration units.

Although she did not espouse to being a chef or even a cook, Suraa knew how to feed herself. She had learned out of necessity when she was a child. There were numerous times that she was left alone while her family attended one social event or another. After a few times she quickly realized how bland replicated food could be. Because of this, she learned how to mix various foods in order to make them edible.

After removing her own lunch pack, she quickly moved through the busy kitchen. She took a clean plate and arranged a platter of mixed vegetables from Terra. When she opened her own pack, the cook was suddenly alert to her activity. Angered by it, he moved to stand behind her.

"Hey, what are you doing?" Stan's portly frame hovered behind her. His scrutiny passed over the plate that she was preparing. His eyes grew to slits as if he were examining a foul smelling creature.

"I am endeavoring to prepare a plate that will be suitable to the Captain's wife," she explained as she took the container of s'hculik root and placed it as the center piece of the meal. Although considered bitter by human standards, Suraa quickly learned from her time on the planet that when mixed with certain vegetables from Terra the common Vulcan root was pleasing to the human palate. With the combination of nutrients and protein while also being low in calories, it proved to be an adequate meal.

"What's the matter? Isn't my cooking good enough for the Captain's Wife?" the head cook, and owner of the café asked as he cast spurious glances at the meal.

"The Captain's wife has special dietary needs. Surely you do not want the unwanted publicity should she become ill from the food?" Suraa stood still for a moment as she watched the human think over her argument. With something close to a grunt, he turned away and moved back to the grill, his shoulders slumped in defeat as he tossed the pancakes onto a plate and handed them to her. With a slight nod, Suraa took the offered dish as well as the special plate and quickly left the food preparation area.

When she placed the two meals at the table, she noticed the look of surprise from the human woman. Pleased by the colorful array of food, the doctor cast her husband a look that Suraa could not interpret. After placing her father's plate in front of him, Suraa moved to an empty table and retrieved the requested syrup.

"Will you require anything else?" Suraa asked the couple.

Spock looked at Christine's plate, and then his own with a bit of bewilderment. Christine simply smiled as she took the first bite of the meal. The sweet and sour mixture mingled in her mouth to create a cornucopia of tasty delight.

"Oh, this is wonderful! Where ever did the cook get such an idea?" Christine asked as she took another bite of the meal.

"He did not. I am the one who prepared the meal. It is to your satisfaction?" Suraa questioned.

"Oh, boy, is it ever!" the doctor closed her eyes as sounds of pleasure emitted from her closed lips.

Suraa glanced at her father, her expression neutral. "Is everything suitable for you?"

Spock looked from his plate, to his wife's. His expression was as stoic as he could manage under the circumstances. With a questioning arch of a brow, he looked up at Suraa.

"That is not on the menu," he stated matter-of-factly.

"No, it is not." Suraa responded equally dead pan.

"Forgive me." He cleared his throat as he looked back at the two plates. "But you have never offered to prepare such a meal for me."

Suraa allow a hint of a smile to cross her lips as she nodded understanding. "You never asked," was all she said before nodding, and then returned to her duties.

"See there, you never asked!" Christine lightly chuckled as she continued to dive into her meal, each bite of morsel caused her to close her eyes as she savored the assortment of flavors. When she opened her eyes and saw her husband's hurt expression, she laughed softly as she reached over and took his hand. "Oh, honey, I'm sorry. Would you like to share? Here, have some," she offered as she fed him from her plate. After the first bite, she knew that she had lost half of her dinner to husband, but she didn't mind. Eating like this, with her feeding him from one plate, reminded her of their honeymoon from long ago. Although it had taken her a short time to explain the romance of the act, he soon relaxed and allowed her to feed him during those early years together.

When they finished she felt a pang of regret. Christine would have liked to have sat down with the young woman in order to get to know her. She wanted to ask Suraa a million questions, but under the circumstances the opportunity did not arise. As the only waitress, the young Vulcan was kept busy moving from table to table. When she saw that they were finished with their meal, she inquired one last time if there was anything else they required, but before either Christine or Spock could answer, a customer from across the room called for her. Not wishing to burden her, they both politely responded and were then given their check. Actually, it was not a check but a small control panel that allowed the customer to directly deposit the cost of the meal funds directly into the café's account, including the tip.

As they rose to leave, Christine glanced around and noticed Suraa standing at the counter with her back to them. The young woman was studiously adding up another bill. Before leaving, Christine moved away from her husband to his eldest daughter. Surprised by her presence, Suraa glanced at her, a brow inquisitively raised.

"Suraa, I just wanted to say that I'm happy to meet you and I hope that we can get together again, perhaps when you aren't so busy." Christine donned a smile as she attempted to put the young woman at ease. "And ... about my husband," the human's voice grew low as she leaned toward the woman. "I apologize for his stalking. Sometimes, his heart is in the right place but when it comes to family, he tends not to see clearly. I promise, he won't be stalking you anymore," she explained.

Suraa looked over at the tall Vulcan standing by the door. Although most could not hear the human's low voice, she knew that with his sensitive Vulcan hearing that he heard what was said. With a flush, he turned away, his hands folded behind his back as he appeared to be inspecting the neon sign in the window.

"No explanation is necessary," Suraa stated with a slight nod.

"Good, I'm glad you feel this way. I look forward to the next time," Christine said as she reached for the Vulcan woman, but then held back as if remembering the aversion of touch that Vulcans were prone to have.

With a smile, Christine turned and left to join her husband. As the two left the café Suraa watched in mild fascination, her brows creased together in thought. She wondered if she should have explained that she was psi-null and therefore was not adverse to the human touch. But before she could contemplate this notion, another customer called her attention and she quickly resumed serving the patrons of the café.

* * *

As soon as they were in their car, Christine and Spock discussed what would happen. He had already taken the first step in acknowledging his daughter by going to the Vulcan Embassy to discuss the matter with his father. Because Spock had never mentioned anything to him, Sarek had never given T'Pring's eldest much thought. Although he knew of the child's existence, because she was never seen at Vulcan gatherings Sarek assumed that the child was kept away from family functions at the behest of her father, Stonn. Coming from a private family who preferred to avoid large family functions, it would not be surprising if Stonn had issued such a directive. But now, after discussing the matter with Spock, it suddenly occurred to the elder Vulcan that although the eldest was never seen, the two younger children were always by their parents' side. Even though a paternity test had not been conducted, Sarek chose to accept his son's words and the documentation would begin to lay the ground work for the proper paternity to be established.

"Family is family," Sarek had assured his son.

"Now all that is left is to tell the children," Christine sighed as they drove to their home in the South Bay.

"Yes, the children," Spock echoed then grew silent.



When she glanced at her husband and noticed his concern, she reached over and rested her hand on his arm. "Spock, we have to tell them. We can't have secrets in the family, not anymore."

"Of course," he sighed. "I only wonder ..."

"Spock, I'm going to be with you. We'll explain it to them together," she reassured. "I'm sure they'll understand."

* * *

For the most part, the children did understand. Although Spock glazed over how it happened, he was forthcoming to explain that he had a child from a previous union. At first the two older children were amazed and smiled but when Setton learned that he had an older sister, a visible frown crossed his Vulcan features.

"Awe, Dad, did you have to have a girl? Why couldn't you have had a boy so that I'd have a big brother to hang out with!" he exclaimed.

"Son, although I do acknowledge that I do play a part in deciding the gender, I did not have active control to choose the gender," Spock explained with a tinge of humor in his voice.

"What's wrong with a sister? I'm glad! When can we meet her, Daddy? I'd love to have an older sister!" Mandy exclaimed.

Only T'Rea remained silent. Christine wasn't certain if she understood what had been explained but when the girl began to pout, Christine pulled her youngest into her arms. "T'Rea, what's wrong?" she asked as she gazed at the little girl. Spock reached for their daughter and held her hand in his.

"T'Rea, what is distressing you?" he asked, the concern evident in his voice.

It took a few moments of coaxing before the little girl crossed her arms and angrily looked up at her parents. "With another one, there won't be any time for me!" she pouted.

"What do you mean? Oh, T;Rea, of course there will be time for you." Christine hugged the girl tight.

"No there won't! You're both already busy with Setton and Mandy, there's hardly ever any time for me! You've both been busy with Mandy's Koo-sawnis that you don't even notice me!" The five-year-old's vocabulary mangled the Vulcan word as tears began to stream down her cheeks. "With another girl around, you're both going to forget about me!" she began to cry as she buried her face in Christine's bosom. They may have given T'Rea a Vulcan name to honor one of Spock's favorite aunts, and at times when she was well behaved and dressed in Vulcan garb, their youngest was every bit Vulcan. But then there were times like this when the girl demonstrated her all too human side.

"Nonsense, there will be plenty of time for you. Why, T'Rea, your father and I spend a lot of time with all of you. This isn't going to change anything. And as for Mandy's ku-shinas, just wait until it's your turn and you'll see how much planning and preparations go into the celebration," she explained. "T'Rea, my baby, we still love all of you dearly, except now, there will be another one in our lives to love. Don't worry, my sweet, I promise, nothing will change."

* * *

While Christine may have made this promise to her youngest daughter, some promises were harder to keep especially when the plan was set to try to welcome a new member into the family. When it came to promises, Christine had promised Suraa that her husband would no longer stalk her, but she never mentioned anything about herself. Of course, if asked Christine would not have seen it as stalking. Instead, she would have viewed it as an act of friendship - a way of welcoming a new family member to Terra. As a long term resident of Earth, as it was called in the history lessons, Christine felt it her obligation to welcome family, even if she had just met her. So in her usual fashion she spent the better part of the next afternoon baking mizs'has, a Vulcan treat similar to cookies, and old fashioned chocolate chip cookies. Once finished she mixed the cooled treats into a container and the next afternoon she proceeded to the address that Spock had mentioned. No, in Christine's mind she had not seen her own actions as stalking but as a way to welcome Suraa to the family. So with treats in hand she drove to the apartment building in San Francisco's Mission district.

At one time the area was teaming with new life, but then age happened upon it and it deteriorated. After the rebuilding of the neighborhood after the war that, according to all her history lessons, had cost Earth dearly, the area was again teeming with life. But that rebirth happened long ago and since then the area had fallen back into the dilapidated conditions from before. When Christine saw the old building, she inhaled deeply at the sight. Although there hadn't been an earthquake in years, she wondered if the apartment complex was even up to code. At the sight of the "out of order" sign on the lift, she silently grumbled to herself as she began to make her way up the flight of stairs. With each new floor she was greeted with the appalling conditions of what she could only assume was tenement housing. The sounds from the other apartments echoed softly through the corridor. She shuddered to think of one of her own children living in such squalor, but had to refrain from the urge to swoop up Suraa and return her home.

"No, she's not my daughter. If I move too fast, she may become frightened and disappear and that's not what I want. I just want to put her at ease so that she'll take the chance to meet with her father," Christine continually reminded herself as she climbed her way to Suraa's apartment.

Once in front of the door, Christine wondered if she was doing the right thing. She felt a moment of doubt enter her, but then she girded up her courage and knocked on the door. From somewhere inside she thought she heard muffled voices, but then it disappeared until the door was slightly opened. Suraa stood there by the door, her long flowing dark hair was no longer hidden under a waitress cap but now hung loose around her shoulders. Upon seeing Christine, Suraa's brows arched upward in surprise.

"Umm, I'm sorry for not calling but I'm afraid my husband didn't have a number. I just wanted to thank you for the wonderful meal that you prepared for me the other day and ..." Christine smiled as she glanced down at the container in her hands. "... and I made this for you to welcome you."

Suraa remained silent, her eyes gazing at Christine intently. She seemed confused and on the verge of saying something, but then a noise was heard from the darkness of her apartment. Although Christine could not see past Suraa, she thought she recognized the sound of a man sneezing, but then it grew silent. For the first time she noticed the young Vulcan's state of dress. With only a robe wrapped around herself, Suraa held it closed as she kept most of her apartment hidden behind the door. The slight sheen of perspiration on the young woman's brow combined with her state of unease brought a realization that caused Christine to blush.

"Oh. my!" she exclaimed softly as she hastily averted her eyes. "I'm so sorry, dear. I didn't mean ... that is, I didn't even think..." Christine stammered as she tried to find a way of escape, and then hastily handed the container to Spock's daughter. "I'm so sorry! I've interrupted something. Please forgive me and accept these." Christine's normally cool and collected persona crumbled under the Vulcan's silence. Without waiting for a response, the doctor said a quick goodbye and turned to leave. Somewhere between the hall and the stairs she heard Suraa's door close and lock behind her.

While this initial encounter may have thwarted most stout individuals, it did not affect Christine. Instead she decided that a change of plans was needed. As the days passed, she continued to focus on her job and family, but included Suraa in the equation. Every few days, to the consternation of her children, and especially her youngest, T'Rea, she continued to make baked goods. Sometimes she made Vulcan casseroles. What changed was that rather than disturbing the young Vulcan woman, Christine left the containers at Suraa's doorstep. As each one was gone whenever she made a visit, she assumed that Suraa was getting the gifts that she left. But everything changed after a few weeks of this activity.

When she went to the apartment, she was surprised to find the door wide open. Whatever had been blocking the windows before were now removed and the sun showed how truly small the room was. Walking into the now empty studio apartment she looked around at the Spartan surroundings.

"She ain't here no more," an older, balding man stated as he walked in with a broom, mop and bucket. Wearing a facility uniform, he glanced at the container in Christine's hands and sniffed the air.

"Where is she?" Christine was oblivious to the looks the man was casting at the food in her hand.

"Don't know, she didn't say. She just paid up her last days and gave notice. She left a few days back." He scratched the stubble on his chin as he glanced off in the distance, apparently trying to remember something, "I think ... well, I don't really know where she went. Maybe she went back to that planet she's from? You know she was a Romulan, don't you? Some thought she was a Vulcan, but I think she was a Romulan, some others thought so too!" He stated firmly as if to give his suspicions credence. "She was always quiet, kept to herself. Some of us were thinking she might be an agent -- a spy," he said with a slight whisper as he leaned toward her. "To me, don't matter what she was, they're all alike. You know how sneaky both those lots can be. Vulcans, Romulans, neither one can be trusted." His xenophobia crept out with each word.

Christine wanted to take her latest casserole creation and dump it on his head. But upon consideration, she kept her silence as she gave him a stony glare. "Are you certain that she didn't leave any forwarding address?"

"Nope, not with me ... or anyone else, I'd venture," he said as he looked at her container again with a hopeful look.

"Thank you," she said, knowing that even this amount of politeness was too good for him.

That evening her family had the casserole dish that she made. When the children finished eating and she was alone with her husband, she was able to explain the latest events. Although he knew what she was doing, he never offered an opinion. Now that they knew that Suraa was gone, he only offered words of comfort. Even after he went to the café a few times and found her gone, he still comforted his wife and continually reiterated that he placed no blame on her.

As the days passed Christine continued to feel the nagging sorrow. She found herself second guessing her actions. She wondered if she had gone too far, or perhaps had scared the girl away. She thought of paying a private investigator to search for Suraa, but each time the thought crossed her mind, she had to chide herself. "If she wants to disappear, she will. When she's ready for us, she'll come back," she told herself.

Although the older children occasionally questioned them about their sister, all that Christine and Spock could say was that they hoped that Suraa would one day choose to join their family. Because they had never met her before, the children continued their lives while their parents kept their sorrow to themselves. Only T'Rea, noticing that her mother was no longer preoccupied with cooking and baking for another daughter, was pleased by the sudden change. She may not have understood why her mother seemed sad lately, she only knew that now that her mother no longer had another little girl to occupy her time; Christine could spend more time with her. From her childish perspective, things had taken a turn for the better.

Everyday Christine found herself riddled with guilt and more than once she second guessed her actions. Her thoughts always turned to Suraa and she held the silent wish that Spock's eldest daughter would one day get into contact with them. As her mind continually spun over this problem, she turned her attention to her family and the upcoming birthday celebration for her eldest daughter. More importantly, she focused her attention to her youngest daughter who had felt displaced by Christine's recent activity. T'Rea didn't understand why it was important to welcome another sister; she only felt set aside and forgotten, and Christine understood this. The time that she once had to spend with the girl after school was turned toward an entirely different venture that didn't include her and Christine tried to mend the wounds that her preoccupation had caused.

It had been a few weeks since she learned of Suraa's disappearance and although she thought of her often, neither she nor Spock spoke of it again. On a day when everyone in the house was busy, she found herself wondering again what had become of the woman. As Spock and Jim were outside in the back yard preparing the area for the guests who would arrive for the party in a few days, Christine was inside the kitchen making certain that all of her supplies were on hand. Although her family's custom was to treat a girl's sixteenth birthday as special, in Vulcan society it was the thirteenth. Because of this many family members from Vulcan would be arriving to celebrate Mandy's birthday.

With so much to plan, and the time ticking away faster than she hoped, Christine moved around the house cleaning up and preparing for Mandy's big day. While the khas-wan was a rite of passage for young Vulcan males, female Vulcans had to wait until their thirteenth birthdays for their ku-shinas. The more cerebral celebration was a way to honor the girls who would soon be entering womanhood. It was no coincidence that many Vulcan girls experienced their first menstruation shortly after their ku-shinas celebration. Even though Mandy had not begun yet, Christine was more than ready for the time when her girl would begin this important passage in her life.

When she walked into the living room she saw her son lying on his back on the sofa. A control panel was in his hands as he stared intently at the vid-monitor on the wall. "Setton, go and help your father and Uncle Jim in the yard," she ordered her son who sat oblivious to her presence, his attention captivated with getting to the next level.

"Young man!" She deepened her voice to let him know that she meant business.

"In a minute, Mom," he replied as his fingers played over the controls. Seeing that he was making no attempt to move, she took her dish towel and tossed it at him. It landed on his head like a hat. "Aw, Mom, ya made me miss!" he exclaimed as he pulled the towel from his head.

"Good, now save the game and go help," she said in a no nonsense voice.

"Aw..." he mumbled as he got up and stomped out, sighing and frowning as if she had asked him to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge. When she turned to get her towel, the door bell rang. Thinking it was yet another delivery van, she called out, "Yeah, yeah, hold your horses, I'm coming as fast as I..." She opened the door, her mouth hung loose as she finished her sentence with, "... can!"

"My apologies," Suraa stood at the entryway, her gaze lowered as a green blush crossed her features. "I had no intentions of intruding."

"Suraa!!" Christine exclaimed as she pulled the girl into an embrace, then hastily let her go. "Not at all. You aren't intruding! Please, come in," Christine welcomed.



When Suraa hesitated, Christine glanced at her cautiously. She noticed that the young Vulcan wore tight blue jeans, black boots and a white shirt under a black leather riding jacket. As Christine took in the Vulcan's appearance, dawning suddenly registered and she quickly glanced out to the front driveway of their house. Sitting astride a sleek black air cycle was a young man. With a helmet in his lap, he watched them intently before releasing a wide smile and a wave.

"Ummmm, Suraa?" Christine smiled at the young woman who seemed visibly uncomfortable. "Would you both like to come in?"

"No, I am sorry. We have another engagement to attend," she explained. "I wanted to return these to you," Suraa said as she held up the empty containers, each one had been cleaned and were now tied together. "I kept the address that you inscribed into the first one. I apologize that I was unable to return them sooner."

"Oh, it's perfectly alright, honey, don't worry about it," Christine waved away her apology. Before she could ask all of the questions that were racing through her mind, Spock caught her attention. Turning, they watched as he entered the alcove. Wearing work pants, white shirt and work gloves, his face was smudged with dust and dirt. The work of cleaning up the yard before the party was evident on his clothes and face. When he looked up and saw Suraa standing at the doorway, a visible smile crossed his features that belayed all of his Vulcan training.

"Suraa!" he exclaimed. At his look of excitement, Christine wondered if he was going to grab his eldest in his arms and hug her. But when he realized his lack of decorum, a sigh escaped his control as he glanced away, embarrassed at his visible display of emotions. Like a child who had been caught with his hand in a cookie jar, Spock quickly recomposed himself as he moved to stand next to Christine.

"Suraa, it is gratifying to see you again," he stated formally as he looked down at his daughter.

"I wanted to return your property," Suraa explained as she nodded toward the empty containers.

Spock took a look at the containers as a brow rose. "Wife, you did not explain the quantity that you prepared." His statement was more like a question. "Hopefully you were not overburdened with having to eat such a large amount?" Spock asked Suraa as a genuine look of puzzlement crossed his features.

"Captain ... ummm ..." She glanced away, a discomfort crossing her features. "I assure you, I was not alone in consuming your wife's delicious gifts." She explained as she glanced back at the driveway. The young human man remained sitting astride his bike, the helmet in his hands was easily balanced as he watched their exchange. On the seat behind him was a second black helmet. When Spock looked up at the young man, a questioning expression crossed his features. "My ... ummm ... friend assisted in the consumption of the meals."

"I am pleased to know that you both enjoyed my wife's cooking," Spock stated as his glanced moved between Suraa to the young man. More than once the human beamed a wide smile their way as he waved, which only resulted in Spock raising a surprised brow.

When the wind blew past the young man, Christine smiled when she saw how handsome he was with his long flowing hair. "Perhaps if I was younger, and single, this handsome young man might have caught my attention too," she wickedly thought. When she heard her husband clear his voice, she returned her attention to him and glanced up at him.

Before the awkward silence could continue between father and daughter, Christine smiled as she spoke up. "Suraa, I know this is short notice, but if you are free, perhaps you would like to attend our daughter's birthday this weekend," she asked, then quickly added, "it's her thirteenth birthday," she said by way of explanation.

At the invitation Suraa seemed to be examining Christine carefully, her brows inched together into a frown. Her eyes held Christine's, the intensity bore into her as if she was searching for something. When the Vulcan appeared satisfied she looked at Spock, the same intense gaze held his. It was then that Christine understood what Suraa was seeking and it broke her heart to realize that Suraa did not believe the sincerity of the invitation. Before she could speak up, Spock tilted his head slightly, his voice grew low as he spoke in Vulcan. Although she understood a few words, when he spoke quickly with another Vulcan, Christine found it hard to follow along. The only word she picked up from this exchange was "daughter," which appeared to take Suraa by surprise.

Suraa's eyes opened wide, her lips slightly parted as she tilted her head, the intensity of her gaze bore into the Vulcan man. She had heard his words clearly and the tone of his voice was level and sincere. Yet a part of her mind tried to rebel, tried to tell her that she was mistaken. As she blinked in surprise, she kept her gaze steady.

"Daughter," her father spoke again but this time in Federation English. "Daughter, thee are always welcomed in our home. Your family welcomes you and your presence for this occasion would honor us," he said again. This time his wife understood.

Suraa felt taken back by his invitation. Her mind was filled with conflicting thoughts. She remembered all of the words that her mother said, her comments that Spock did not want her rushed past her memories. But when she looked into his eyes, she felt the sincerity of his words.

"I shall endeavor to attend this event..." she stated formally in Federation English; her voice hesitated for a moment as her eyes glanced down. As if steeling her resolve, she looked back up at Spock, her expression neutral before she added, "...Father."

"And bring your friend," Christine added with a smile.

When Suraa looked at her, the human woman smiled as she nodded toward the driveway. Joseph, in his usual manner, smiled and waved yet again when he saw them looking his way. With a slight sigh, Suraa looked away from him to the two in the doorway.

"We shall see," she replied as she nodded, then turned to leave. When she arrived at the cycle, Joseph already had his helmet on as he handed hers to her. Once she pulled it on, she climbed on the back of his bike and wrapped her arms around his waist.

"See, just like I said," his voice sounded in the ear piece in her helmet. She ignored his comment as he revved up the motorcycle and began to maneuver it from the ground.

"We have a dinner invitation?" he asked as she leaned into his body. When she felt the land disappear below her, she crouched low and held fast to him. "Don't worry, Suraa, they'll love me!" he chuckled while easily maneuvering them into the vehicle airspace.

"We shall see," was all she said as he drove them toward a nearby city where they were to meet some of his friends.

* * *

Christine felt her heart racing when she saw the two riding away on the motorcycle. The healer in her wanted to chase after them and ask them to stop driving such a dangerous machine. But another part reminded herself that this was not her daughter, and even if she was, Suraa was a grown woman and capable of making her own independent decisions. Despite this, the doctor in her couldn't help but softly say, "Oh boy," as she watched them disappear from view.

When she looked at her husband, she noticed his arched brow. She shrugged her shoulders as she crossed her arms in front of her. "What can I say? I'm a doctor, I know the statistics and how dangerous that thing can be," she explained.

"Yes, my wife. I agree but at this point I do not think that we can interfere in her relationship with the human," Spock answered flatly.

"Interfere?" she looked at him puzzled. "Spock, I was talking about that motorcycle they were on, not her friend. I think that thing is more dangerous than who she happens to spend her time with!"

Spock seemed surprised by her response, and then he nodded agreement. "Perhaps you are right," was all he said as he released an audible sigh. A look close to concern etched his features.

Christine released a soft laugh as she hugged her husband, "Spock, you're already acting like her father!" she said before she kissed him on his cheek. "Now how about we start setting up for this party. In no time at all, I'm sure Mandy will be well on her way to being attracted to boys," she said to her husband. He stopped dead in his tracks and looked down at her, his eyes wide with something close to fear, but what he would have called "concern."

"Wife, I hope you do not think that this ceremony is a precursor to our daughter being bonded," he asked nervously.

She started laughing softly as she tenderly touched his cheek, "Oh, honey! Not at all!" she laughed. "But let's face it, our little girl is going to grow up faster than either one of us wants. We might as well get ready for the time when she might show up on the back of someone's bike." She laughed as they continued to walk out to the back of the house.

When she saw his thinly veiled apprehension, she ran her fingers across his cheek. "Don't worry, my husband, we will always be here for Mandy, and if we've done our job right, she'll know what to do."

With this, Spock inhaled deeply before he began to slowly recite some passages from the writings of Surak. At his obvious distress, Christine could only laugh as she followed him out to the yard to help with the preparations for the guests that would attend their daughter's birthday.

* * *

Suraa sat in the air car in silence as they drove to the South Bay. A part of her was reluctant to attend the event, but after she explained what it meant in Vulcan society, Joseph was eager to join in the birthday celebration for Spock and Christine's eldest daughter. With a slight sigh, she glanced down at the passing landscape. As if hearing her fears, Joseph's warm hand moved to cover hers.

"Don't worry, he wants you to be there, they both do," he assured as he kept a vigil on the airways.

Although she heard what Joseph was saying, a part of her still found it hard to believe, but he was correct. The message on their vid when they returned home confirmed the invitation. Just as Dr. Chapel had inscribed her home address on the containers, Suraa had also included her new address along with a number where she could be reached. Now that she was living with Joseph in his loft, and as they were fond of having sex when time permitted, she did not want to embarrass her father's wife as she had during the first unexpected visit. Suraa felt that if they had her number, they would use it to call beforehand should they ever wish to pay a visit. Even though she hoped that they would use it, she did not expect to have a message waiting when they returned home that evening.

"Yes, they did extend the invitation again," Suraa thought silently as she remembered seeing the smiling face of the doctor on the unit. In a most uncharacteristic way, the human had pulled each of her children into view in order that Suraa could see what they looked like. "My siblings," she had said out loud as she played the message over and over again. Now that she found herself actually going to the event, she was apprehensive.

When they first arrived at Spock and Christine's home to return their containers, Suraa was taken back by the number of catering and rental vehicles. She wasn't certain what event was taking place at the Captain's home, but when his wife explained about their daughters ku-shinas, she understood the great preparations that were taking place.

Now, as they drove to the party, she thought back to her own ku-shinas and felt a melancholy cover her. While many Vulcan girls in her academy were eagerly preparing for their ku-shinas, Suraa was told early on not to expect one. Ku-shinas were a Vulcan custom, a right of passage for Vulcan girls and Suraa, as her mother said, was not Vulcan. She was human with all of the traits and inbred failings and as such, no ku-shinas would be held for her. So when her day arrived, it passed without fanfare. The only thing of note that occurred on her day was the gift that Stonn had given her.

Deep in the mountains of Mount Seleya, there is a rare ore known as the Aiya stone, a precious gem that sparkles iridescent shades of red, orange and yellow. According to tradition the Aiya stone was given to a girl on her ku-shinas by her father as a token of his esteem. Its beauty, as the mythology stated, was one that contained all of the hopes and dreams of Vulcan, just as the young girls, who would one day be future mothers, held the dreams and hopes through their offspring.

Suraa never believed that she would receive such a gift since her father chose the stars over her, so it was a great surprise when after dinner that evening Stonn placed a small box next to Suraa. Surprised by the gift, she glanced up at her mother's husband. His gaze was neutral as he waited for her to open the box. Suraa glanced at her little brother, his curiosity raised by the gift that was presented. When she looked at her mother, she saw nothing but her familiar stony glare. When she opened the box and saw the beautiful stone her heart leapt when she gazed upon it. She would no longer be the only girl in her class without an Aiya.

"I know you are not my daughter, but at times, it feels so," Stonn had said as he rose from his place and moved to take the necklace from its box. After he placed it around her neck, he lightly clasped her shoulders. "Congratulations, you carry the hopes and dreams of our people," he stated formally.

"Tyrik, go to your room." T'Pring's voice relayed the anger that seethed within her. Knowing their mother all too well, the young Vulcan boy quickly left the table. His footsteps were heard echoing down the hall and then the sound of his bedroom door closed.

"T'Pring, let it be," Stonn urged as he stood near Suraa.

"We talked about this, we agreed that there would no ku-shinas for an offworlder." T'Pring rose from the table as she moved before her husband. "Tradition must be honored, husband," she reiterated.

"Wife, we did not talk about this. You talked about it." Stonn's voice grew intense as he stared at his wife.

Suraa felt conflicted. She had felt a pang of regret that she would not have a celebration as her classmates had, and although she longed for an Aiya, she began to regret the gift that was given. As a sense of doom came over her, she rose from her place, her head bowed in obedient subservience before her mother.

"Forgive me, Mother. I meant no offense." Suraa tried to abate her mother's anger.

"T'Pring, let it be," Stonn pleaded. "It is only a trinket, nothing more. Leave the girl alone," he implored.

"Such a gift is given to a Vulcan daughter by her father. She is not a Vulcan and you are not her father," T'Pring said with finality.

"My wife, I said..." But Stonn's words were cut off by the anger in her mother's voice.

"Kuroika!" T'Pring's single command silenced her husband. Her gaze never left Suraa as she moved toward the girl.

"Suraa," T'Pring held out her hand, palm up. Reluctantly Suraa removed the necklace and placed it in her mother's grasp. In a quick move, T'Pring dropped the stone to the ground; the sound of it clattering on the floor reverberated through Suraa's katra. Before she realized what happened, T'Pring stomped on the precious stone. As her foot ground down, the splintering sound registered as Suraa watched the gift being pulverized below her mother's foot. When T'Pring was finished, she stepped away from the destroyed necklace.

"The Aiya is meant for Vulcan girls. The hopes and dreams of Vulcan reside in our female children. No off world child can taint the traditions of our people," T'Pring stated more to Stonn than to Suraa. "Clean up this ... mess, and then retire to your room," the Vulcan woman ordered Suraa.

Suraa never knew what it meant to be human, but at the moment that she was on her hands and knees picking up the fragments of broken dreams, she had the urge to weep. But she did not. Instead, she did as she was told and once the evidence was thrown in the rubbish bin, she retreated to her room and turned her attention to her evening studies. Before they were complete, Stonn stopped by her room. He did not enter but merely stood in the hallway outside of her open door. Suraa glanced up at him and watched as he stared in at her, a look close to sadness crossed his features and then he looked away. With an audible sigh, he turned away from her and went to his office in the farthest part of the house. Although her child's mind may not have understood the dynamics of her mother's relationship with her husband, Suraa knew that on more than one occasion Stonn preferred to keep his own company in his office rather than retire with her mother to their bedroom.

"Are you still worried?" Joseph's voice brought Suraa from her melancholy memories.

Blinking away slight moisture in her eyes, she glanced at him and saw his look of concern. She allowed a slight smile to escape her control as she reached up and ran her fingers through his long, silky hair. Ever since agreeing to move in with him, Suraa realized that her fondness for the man was growing with each passing day.

"Is it not logical to be concerned over such things?" she asked him.

Joseph thought about her question for a moment and then sighed softly, "Yeah, I guess so. But I don't think that you have anything to worry about. I saw how they acted around you. If I didn't know any better, I'd bet that your father was about ready to hug you!" he laughed softly.

"No, a Vulcan would never display such ..." Suraa tried to find a word.

"Human emotions?" Joseph teased softly as he began the slow descent. With expert ease, he parked the borrowed floater neatly between two large sedans. Dressed as they were, in formal wear, she was grateful that he was able to borrow the vehicle for their evening engagement. Once the aircar was settled down, he turned off the engine and then turned toward her. The ever present smile never wavered as he gazed into her eyes.

"Don't worry, I'm going to be right here with you. Everything will be okay," he said before his lips gently brushed against her. At the feel of his silky moist lips, Suraa closed her eyes and allowed herself to be swept away in his touch. When she parted her lips, his tongue that could work such magic on her body artfully toyed with hers. Reluctantly, they pulled apart and gazed into each other's eyes. She saw his pupils dilated, his breathing came out in raspy sounds. Suraa knew his level of arousal because it was her own.

"Let's not get started on this path," Joseph whispered as he sat back in his seat. With head bent, he closed his eyes as he fought to control his bodily reactions.

"You know, we could simply find a hotel somewhere?" Suraa offered as she reached over and placed her hand in his lap. Her fingers began a familiar dance over his increasing bulge. With a slight groan, he leaned back in his seat as he gently pulled her hand away.

After a few deep breaths a smile crossed his features as he turned and looked at her. "No, you don't. I know what you're trying to do and it won't work," Joseph said as he released a sigh. "Your father wants to get to know you, and we were both invited to your little sister's birthday, so we are going," he confidently stated as he removed the keys from the car.

"Joseph, it is not just a birthday party, it is her ku-shinas, her thirteenth birthday party. It is a mark in her life that signifies that she is becoming an adult, a young woman who holds all of the dreams and hopes of Vulcan. This birthday is a significant celebration among Vulcans," she tried to explain again.

Joseph's eyes narrowed as he looked at her, his comprehension suddenly dawning. "I guess all of these cars mean that it's a big event?" he asked. She nodded as he looked at the various vehicles that were lined up along the quiet neighborhood streets. "Ummm, exactly how big is this going to be?" he asked.

"Usually every Vulcan member of the family that is able will be in attendance for such a day. On Vulcan, it is not uncommon for such a celebration to attract hundreds of family members and friends. As I am unaware of how many of their relations are in the area, I cannot speculate on the numbers that will be in attendance," Suraa looked at him with a raised brow. "We can still find a hotel," she said with as much seduction as she could muster.

"Not on your life!" Joseph chuckled as he opened the door. "I want to get to know your relatives, even if I can't pronounce all their names!"

With a shake of her head, Suraa waited in her seat as he ran around to her side and opened the door. When she exited the car she straightened her dress as he took his coat from the back seat and put it on. Although she had never attended an event of this magnitude, she knew what was required. With her savings she and Joseph went shopping and although he was of little help in deciding what she should wear, she did purchase the dress by the reaction that it brought from him. The calf-length red dress was woven from a silky fabric from Orion. The cloth alone was enough to accentuate the wearer by clinging to every part of her body. Only at the hips did the dress slightly flare out to offer partial decorum for the neither regions. The single-half slit along the right side enhanced the shape of the leg, giving the wearer a tall, lean look. With black heels from Terra, and the black Andorian wrap that was both lightweight and warm, she watched Joseph's reaction carefully. While the other outfits she wore brought out slight comments of approval, this was the only dress that caused Joseph to go silent. As he sat in the waiting room his eyes drifted slowly over her body. A visible gulp escaped his control as he sat with slack jaw. When Suraa saw his reaction, she knew that she had found the perfect outfit.

Finding a suit for Joseph was easier because everything he wore looked good on him. Thankfully they were able to find something that they both agreed on. The black pants had a crease that flattered his body and the cuffs flowed nicely over polished black dress shoes. His white button shirt hung snugly on his torso, and the collar snapped together with a single Tellerite jade button. The malachite colored vest caused a tapered affect and when he wore the simple black coat over the vest, there was not a woman who would not noticed how handsome he was. With his long flowing loose hair, tan brown complexion, dark eyes and easy going smile, he was nice to gaze upon.

As they began their walk up the driveway they heard the soft sounds coming from the house at the end of the alcove. Joseph absently placed his hand behind her back as they made their way up the winding path. When they arrived at the door they were greeted by a servant who escorted them through the single family dwelling.

"Wow, your father must be well off," Joseph whispered as they were led to the back patio area. "Unbelievable," he muttered as he gazed around at the furnishings and the art that hung on the wall. Suraa remained silent as she casually inspected her father's home for the first time. She found herself comparing it with the stark surroundings of her mother's abode on Vulcan. While the captain and his wife decorated their home in bright, welcoming colors, her mother chose to keep her home in compliance with the Vulcan terrain. The simple brown color of sand mixed with the dark orange red of the Vulcan sun were as stark as the deserts on Vulcan. Where T'Pring's home felt devoid of life, Spock and Christine's held a life that not only reflected their own personalities, but that of their children. Not for the first time, Suraa found herself wondering how much of what her mother told her about the famed Star Fleet officer was true.

Suraa pulled her attention back to the present as she felt her heart suddenly racing with nervous apprehensions. When they stepped out on the patio, they glanced around at the festive party decorations that were strewn throughout the backyard. Round tables were set up around the yard and floating lights hovered overhead to illuminate the scene. As if to demonstrate the duality of the family, there was an even mixture of Vulcan and human decorations.

"What are we suppose to do now?" Joseph smiled as he moved by her side. When he reached for her hand, she instinctively clasped it in hers. "Your mother isn't going to be here, is she?" he asked in a hushed voice.

Suraa glanced at him, a brow rose as a slight smile escaped her control. The anger and hatred of her mother's daily barrage replayed in her mind. Remembering T'Pring's reaction to Spock, she knew that the woman would never attend any of his children's celebration.

"That is highly doubtful," she replied as she gazed into his eyes.

"But I thought you said that she was related to Captain Spock?" he asked, confusion etching his features.

"Distant cousins, however, given her propensity for animosity toward the Captain, I doubt that she would travel these light years to celebrate anything having to do with his family," Suraa explained. Joseph thought of her answer and nodded understanding.

"Yeah, I can see your point," he agreed as he glanced down at the crowd, and then smiled when a familiar figure moved toward them.

If Christine had time to worry, she would have wondered where their two special guests were. But between the caterer, the entertainment and making certain that all of their guests were settled in, she hadn't realized that Suraa and her young friend were late. Not until she happened to glance up and notice her husband hovering near the patio did it dawn on her that he was waiting for their arrival.

"My husband, are you concerned?" she asked as she moved toward him, keeping her question formal.

"It is getting late," he replied as he held up two fingers to her. In a customary manner, she clasped her fingers against his. The instantaneous bond flourished from their slight touch and Christine felt the warmth of her husband's love. With a slight smile, she followed him through the crowd to their table.

"Don't worry, it's still early. I'm sure they will show up," Christine replied as she sat in her chair as he moved to sit next to her.

"Are you expecting more?" Jim asked as he wrapped an arm over the back of his date's chair.

"Two more guests," Spock replied, but before he could continue, Leonard's date became suddenly animated.

"Oh, my goodness, is that who I think it is?" Nadine spoke out loud as she looked up at the entrance to their home.

On the platform of the patio stood Suraa in what Christine could only describe as a drop dead gorgeous red dress. The fabric was a silky material that clung seductively to her body and although her black high heels were modest in height, they were enough to accentuate her beautifully muscular calves. When Suraa turned to say something to her companion, her long dark hair flowed halfway down her back.

"Who is that?" Jim asked with a lustful tone in his voice. "Isn't that the waitress from the diner? Who knew that the uniform was hiding such beauty!" Before his lecherous question could be answered a low grunt escaped his control as his date appeared to kick him under the table. "Honey, I was only wondering," he tried to appease, but the frown on the brunette's features grew longer as she stared at him, her arms crossed as if waiting for something.

"Well, bless me, it is her! Len, come on, you remember Suraa, don't you? Let's go and welcome her," Nadine, oblivious to Jim's predicament rose from her chair and began to move toward the two newcomers. Her date followed close behind.

"Jim, that is Suraa ... my daughter," Spock told his best friend, who suddenly turned red.

"That's Suraa? T'Pring's daughter?" Jim's voice grew low as Spock's brow rose threateningly, as if to warn his friend away from any lustful comment. "Point taken," the former Captain of the Enterprise gulped and then smiled at his friend before turning to his date. "Honey, it meant nothing!" he pleaded with her.

As Christine softly chuckled, she watched the interaction of her friends. She noticed her husband rising and leaving the table and felt that it would be better for him to greet his daughter alone. Across the table Ambassador Sarek and Amanda waited patiently to meet their eldest grandchild for the first time. While Sarek displayed no emotions, his wife made no secret of her interest in the girl.

Suraa and Joseph stood at the top of the stairs for only a moment. She had just finished answering his question about her mother when a familiar voice called out to her. Still standing next to her companion, she turned and watched as her first friend on Terra moved quickly through the crowd.

"Why, bless my boots, it's Suraa and Joseph!" the older waitress called out as she made her way through the crowd. Dressed in a tasteful gray evening gown, the older woman ran up the stairs as she called back to her date, "Hey, Len, remember Suraa?" The elder doctor walked to them, his smile as wide as Nadine's. In a formal dark gray suit, and standing next to Nadine, the two looked as if they had always been a couple.

"Why, it's a pleasure seeing you again, Suraa!" Doctor McCoy beamed a smile as he lightly shook Suraa's hand. "And what, pray tell, brings you to this little shindig?" he asked, but was quickly interrupted as Nadine pulled Joseph into a hug.

"Len, this here is Joseph. I hooked these two kids up," she said with pride as Suraa glanced up at her companion, a bright smile remained on his features when he realized that he would not be a stranger amongst a crowd of Vulcans.

"Suraa, honey, I thought you weren't going to be back from your trip for another week? What are you doing here?" Nadine asked concerned, but quickly asked. "Are you friends of the family?"

"In a matter of speaking," Suraa replied when she saw a tall figure walking toward them.

Before anything else could be said, Spock climbed the wooden stairs of the patio and stood before them. With a formal Vulcan suit on, some might not have realized that he was a Star Fleet officer. It was only in the way that he carried himself that he gave away his strict military bearing. When he stood before her, he said the customary Vulcan words welcoming her to his house, and then said in English, "Welcome. I was beginning to grow concerned."

"We are here now," Suraa stated and then turned to Joseph. "My ..." She struggled to clarify what he was to her. If she stated lover, it would be considered revealing more information than any respectable Vulcan would care to know. Yet if she said friend, it would belay the true connection that they shared. After a moment of thought, she decided upon the only title that she could give to him. "...companion," she stated firmly, then continued to give his credentials. "Joseph Littlefeather, first son of Ben and Lupe Littlefeather, grandson of Imogene Littlefeather, council elder and medicine woman of the Diné nation." Suraa chose to introduce him with the formal title that he would have been given had he been a Vulcan. Spock's brow rose as he glanced at Joseph. With the familiar smile, the tall Indian leaned forward and extended a hand.

"You can call me Joseph," he said as he waited to shake Spock's hand. Doctor McCoy stifled a chuckled as he watched Spock's reaction to the extended hand. After a moment, when Spock seemed to have fortified his barriers, he reached out and shook Joseph's hand.

"Why, I'll be!" McCoy muttered in amazement at the exchange.

"What?" Nadine asked, not at all surprised by the interaction.

"This green blooded ..." But the doctor's words were halted when he glanced around, then whispered to Nadine, "I've never seen him shake anyone's hand before."

"Sometimes, Doctor, protocol demands change," Spock glanced at his long time friend.

If Suraa hadn't known better, she would have thought that the stoic Vulcan was playing with the human. But knowing the reputation of the legendary man, she thought that she was simply misreading their interaction. Before she could contemplate the tall man's actions, he turned to her.

"Suraa, if you and ... Mr. Littlefeather will follow me, there are some introductions to be made," Spock indicated for them to follow him.

With a slight nod to Nadine, Suraa took Joseph's hand again as she began to follow the captain through the crowd. Suraa noticed the curious looks from a few humans and was not certain if they were interested in her, or Joseph. Ignoring their glances, she continued to follow Spock.

"Was I not supposed to shake his hand?" Joseph whispered close to her ear. Despite the low volume of his voice, Spock cocked his head as he glanced back at them. An indiscernible smile crossed his lips before he returned his attention to the path.

"I will have to explain a bit of Vulcan protocol to you ... later," Suraa whispered as her father turned back again. His mannerism did not betray any offense that he might have experienced.

"When the hour was growing late, we became concerned," Spock stated matter-of-factly.

"My apologies," she replied.

"It was my fault. The floater I borrowed from my buddy was a mess so I had to get it cleaned, inside and out. I couldn't have Suraa sitting in it the way it was," Joseph explained.

Spock cast a critical gaze over Joseph, and then nodded. "Yes, understood," was all he said. "Please, come and meet the rest of the family," Spock added as the men at the table stood up. A mixture of human and Vulcan faces looked at her expectantly.

When they reached a table near the center, Suraa felt an irrational fear enter her when she saw the Vulcan Ambassador and his wife. But before her emotions could take control, the familiar smile of Christine greeted her as she stood up from the table and moved toward them. With arms wide, the human pulled Suraa into an embrace, then hastily pulled away.

"Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to offend you," Christine offered quickly as she began to reign in her emotions. "I'm so glad to see you both here and I just forgot," she apologetically explained her breech of protocol.

"Doctor Chapel, there is no need to concern yourself," Suraa stated as they stood near the group of guests. "I am psi-null, so physical contact is not an issue for me." She felt a heat cross her checks as she glanced nervously down. She thought she felt embarrassed silence from the group, but it was the Vulcan Ambassador who broke the tension.

"This condition is very common among Vulcans," Sarek explained as he stepped toward her.

"Indeed, at last estimate thirty-three point two percent of Vulcans experience this," Spock's voice was a counter to his father.

"And often times it clears up with maturity," Sarek raised a brow as he began an easy cadence to his son's words. Before Spock could continue, Christine raised her hand to silence the two.

"And it's never affected some of us." Christine and Amanda smiled at each other like conspirators before Christine looked back at the men. "Spock, Ambassador, perhaps everyone would like to meet our guests," she smiled at the two Vulcan men.

"Yes, please do before they get started again." The Ambassador's wife stood up from her chair and moved to stand in front of Suraa. "Whenever these two get started, it can last for some time." She smiled up at her granddaughter. "Now then, you must be Suraa. Your father has spoken so much about you!" she explained as she held out her arms and moved to the young Vulcan woman. Before Suraa realized what was happening, the smaller human pulled her into an embrace and held her for a matter of seconds. "Oh, honey, I'm so glad to finally meet you!" Amanda exclaimed.

At first, Suraa did not know what to expect, but when the woman pulled away, she noticed the slight tear in the woman's eyes. As if to brush them away, Amanda wiped at her eyes as she turned away. "Forgive me, its only happiness that you see," the Ambassador's wife stated.

When a movement caught her attention, Suraa looked at the young Vulcan teen that she recognized from the message. In the message he wore a white tee shirt and jeans. What Suraa remembered the most about him was his unruly shock of hair that would have been unheard of for any Vulcan male. His hair hung above his collar and the thick, wavy locks were in disarray as if he simply ran his fingers through his hair rather than a comb. Although he was dressed in a Vulcan suit, his hair hadn't changed. As he moved to her, a polite smile crossed his features. Christine stepped to the boy and wrapped her arm around his shoulder.

"Suraa, this is our oldest, Setton," the human introduced.

The young teen smiled at her, his gaze never wavering. When she saw the look in his eyes a grin crossed her lips. Only after she nodded her head as a way of greeting did the boy finally speak.

"Wow! I've got a hot looking sister!" Setton exclaimed to the delight, as well as mortification, of those nearby.

"Setton!" Both parents spoke up, Captain Spock stepped forward as he cast his son a reproachful look.

"Ummm, I mean ... I-I'm sorry ... uhhhhhh," the boy stammered, his blue eyes never leaving Suraa.

Suraa couldn't help but be amused by the boy's open emotions. "Hey, I know how you feel," Joseph leaned forward and whispered to the teen, then winked at him.

Setton glanced up at the tall human, his wonderment evident in his expression. "You've got way cool hair!" he spoke up.

"Which is indicative of Mr. Littlefeather's culture, not yours," Spock's voice conveyed an unspoken message. The boy frowned and looked again at Suraa, a smile replaced the frown when he gazed at her once more.

"Setton, it is an honor," Suraa spoke formally to the teen before her attention turned to a girl who suddenly left a crowd of her peers to stand by her brother. A few of the girls followed their friend, their soft whispers and giggles were suddenly silenced.

"The Ku-shinas must be for you." Suraa moved closer to the girl. "Amanda, you are indeed the pride of your people," the Vulcan woman stated, which caused the girl to blush as a smile crossed her lips. When one of her human friends moved close to the birthday girl and whispered in her ear, Mandy began to giggle, and then looked back up at Suraa. Her gaze went from Suraa to Joseph.

"Are you two married ... ummmm ... bonded?" the girl asked to the consternation of her parents. The innocence laced her words.

Before either parent could scold her, Suraa stood at her full height as she looked down at Amanda in amusement. "No, Joseph and I are not married, we are not bonded. Joseph is therefore a free man and available to any lucky female," she stated, which caused the girls to begin to giggling as they gazed up at Joseph, a vivid blush crossed his cheeks as he shyly looked away.

"Now girls, that's enough," Christine admonished as she made them scoot back. "T'Rea?" she called and looked around for the youngest who had gone to hide behind her Uncle Jim's chair. "There you are! Come here please," she asked as Christine took her little hand and pulled the girl from her hiding place. "Suraa, this is our youngest, T'Rea."

Suraa smiled down at the pixie child who clung to her mother's side. When she noticed the visible frown on the girl, she tried her best to appear non-threatening. But it was to no avail.

"T'Rea, say hello to your older sister, Suraa," the Captain's wife tried to coax.

The little girl moved forward and stared up at her. Her features remained hard as stone. After a brief silence, she inhaled deeply as her frown grew even larger.

"I only have one sister! You are not my big sister and I will never love you!" the child's voice was met with silence, and then the parents and grandparents all spoke as one as they tried to scold the girl.

Before their words could continue, Suraa raised a hand to silence them. She had experienced this before in children, at first from her younger brother, and again with her sister. Although she had managed to break through the barriers that her brother put in place, she had never managed to make a connection with her sister. Perhaps as a way of mending the loss of her baby sister, she tried desperately to reach the youngest child of her father and his wife. In a deliberate move, she knelt down at eye level with the girl, her gaze holding the child's steady.

"I understand," was all Suraa said as she looked directly into the girl's eyes. In that instant she thought she felt a connection. There was a look of surprise and perhaps fear. As if no one had ever spoken to her like an adult, T'Rea gazed at the tall stranger. But then the hardness returned to her heart and she frowned before she dove behind her mother's leg.

"Suraa, I'm terribly sorry," Christine apologized with a sigh.

"Such conduct is not acceptable," Spock added as he began to move to the child.

"Please, I am no one to her, I understand," Suraa explained as she stood up and felt Joseph's hand resting lightly on the small of her back. Even this minute contact seemed to give her strength.

"Perhaps so, but decorum must be met," Spock stated as he cast his youngest a stern glance. T'Rea moved to her grandmother's open arms and hid her face from the group. The older woman pulled her onto her lap as she whispered softly in her granddaughter's ear. Once or twice, Suraa thought she saw the child glancing at her cautiously, but each time Suraa looked at the girl, T'Rea quickly turned away.

"Please, come and meet everyone," Spock added as he began to introduce everyone at the table.

If it had been only the people at the table, Suraa would have faired a better chance of remembering everyone. But her father and his wife felt it necessary to introduce her to everyone at the gathering. After meeting more family members, Star Fleet officers, their wives and children than she even knew existed, they returned to the table where she gratefully accepted an offered chair. The catered meal that was served was better than she had tasted in a long time, and the conversations moved fluidly around her. Once or twice someone asked either herself, or Joseph a question, and they answered it if they were able.

Throughout the meal Christine was careful to include Suraa and her young man in the conversations. Having been in the Vulcan family for some time now, she was well aware of how disconcerting it could be. But both Joseph and Suraa seemed to relax. At first Joseph was quiet and very respectful, but as she began to draw him out, he appeared relaxed and at ease. Suraa, for the most part, was quiet and Christine couldn't tell if the young Vulcan was naturally shy, or if this was part of her "Vulcanness" that Christine sometimes teased her husband of having.

"So, Joseph, tell me, what do you do?" Jim asked the question that both she and Spock were dying to ask, but refrained.

Joseph's ever present smile lit up his face as he leaned back in his chair. "I'm a master student, sir, at the Academy of Art in San Francisco," the young man politely responded.

"Please, call me Jim, you make me feel older than I am." Jim's words brought a slight chuckle from people at the table. "So you want to be an artist?"

"Yes, si ... Jim," Joseph amended.

"Have we seen any of your work, son?" McCoy asked before taking a bite of his meal.

"I've only had student exhibits, but I hope this will change once I gather my latest works together," the young man smiled as he turned to his dinner companion. "Ever since meeting Suraa, I've found my muse again," Joseph did not hold back his affection from the girl.

Suraa cast a slight smile at the young man before turning her attention back to her dinner plate. To the nonobservant it would have appeared that Suraa had no feelings for the man. But Christine saw the Vulcan emotions clearly. It was not in what she said, or her actions toward Joseph, but it was the way the Suraa gazed at him. Sometimes she did it covertly, with only a side long glance. Other times, like now, she allowed a gentle smile to form as she looked at her companion. Seeing their affection for one another, Christine was heartened to know that Suraa had found love.

"And Suraa, what is it that you do?" Amanda was the one to ask the question. Her interest in her granddaughter was evident by the way she looked at the young Vulcan.

Suraa delicately wiped her mouth with a napkin before looking up at the older Human woman. "I am a waitress," was all she stated in an even voice.

The table grew quiet as the guests continued their meal.

"Are you a student?" Leonard asked.

"No, sir. I am a waitress, nothing more," Suraa answered.

"But..." Jim smiled as he glanced around the table. When he noticed a few interested, he finished his question. "But is that what you want to do for the rest of your life? You're young enough, wouldn't you like to be in school to study for a career?"



"Yeah, isn't there something that you've wanted to do?" Leonard asked completely unaware of the look that his date was giving him.

"What's wrong with being a waitress?" Nadine's voice queried as she stared at the older doctor.

"Oh, honey bun, there's nothing wrong with being a waitress. We're only asking because Suraa is such a young lady, she's got her whole life in front of her..." McCoy suddenly realized what his words were implying.

"Are you saying..." Nadine's gaze grew stern.

"Oh, no, honey bun!! I was only wondering, why, there isn't anything wrong with being a waitress, nothing at all," he quickly amended.

"Good, because if it weren't for Suraa and me, some of you lot would never be served!" Nadine huffed just as a waiter was removing an empty plate from in front of her and placing down another course. With a sweet smile, she looked up at the young uniformed man. "Thank you, honey," Nadine's southern accent brought a slight blush to the waiter's cheeks.

Amanda quickly piped up in hopes of doing a bit of damage control. "Suraa, I hope you don't think that I feel there is anything wrong with being a waitress. I'm just curious as to what brought you so far away from home. I'm sure Jim and Leonard are wondering too if perhaps a scholarship might have encouraged you to come all this way," the older woman asked.

"I see," Suraa nodded understanding as she gazed down, apparently trying to decided how to respond. Christine was about ready to jump to her defense by changing the subject when Suraa suddenly spoke up.

"My mother was under the false impression that her husband was paying an excessive amount of attention to me. It was at her behest that I left Vulcan. My meager savings curtailed the choice of my destination and as I am human, I felt the logical course of action was to come to Terra in order to assimilate--" At her words, Christine noticed her husband's jaw suddenly tighten. His eyes did not betray the steaming anger that began at his daughter's words. Sarek's gaze grew stony as he averted his eyes to his wine goblet while Amanda gasped in surprise, then tsked as she reached over to take the girl's hand in hers.

"You poor dear," Amanda whispered.

"Oh, Suraa." Christine felt her heart breaking for Suraa, "I wish you had come to us sooner."

"Indeed, had I known of your arrival, I would have been more than willing to assist," Spock added.

"I'm sure Cap..." Suraa caught herself as she looked away embarrassed, then glanced back up at her father. "Father, having heard from my mother that you cared little for me, turning to you was impossible."

Christine watched as father and daughter stared into each other's eyes. There was a resolve in Suraa's dark gaze, and sadness in Spock's. As if understanding her words, he nodded as he lowered his eyes.

"Regrettable, yet understandable, daughter." His voice was low as he nodded.

"It is also regrettable that T'Pring could have given such a directive," Sarek spoke up, his voice even and calm as he addressed his granddaughter. Knowing that there were humans at the table, the elder statesman spoke in Vulcan. Her eyes grew thin as she listened to his words. With slight a nod, she lowered her head as a blush crossed her cheeks.

"Suraa?" Joseph grew concerned as he lightly took her hand in his.

"Nothing, it is nothing," Suraa whispered to him as she shook her head.



"Daughter, there is no shame in being a waitress." Spock pulled the conversation in a different direction. "However, if an education is what you desire, it can be arranged." Christine noticed the genuine look of concern that he sent to his daughter.

Suraa gulped nervously before averting her eyes.

"I keep telling her that she should go the Culinary Academy. She's a fantastic cook!" Joseph beamed.

"Oh, yes, she is!" Christine added animatedly. "She made me the most wonderful dish that had s'hculik root, asparagus, peppers, cucumbers and lettuce with just a hint of vinaigrette and Andorian cheese. My god, it was to die for!" she exclaimed.

"S'hculik root? Isn't that bitter?" Amanda asked.

"Only to human palates," Suraa, Spock and Sarek said in unison. They looked at each other as slight smiles, and nods came from them. The humans at the table glanced at the Vulcans in amusement.

"It was bitter the first time I tasted it, but then Suraa kept mixing it with different combinations and now I love it!" Joseph added. "That's why I think the Culinary Academy would be perfect for her. She just seems to know how to mix everything." His smile was filled with genuine love as he looked at the young Vulcan woman.

"I believe you are biased,: his companion stated.

"Suraa, is that what Stan was grumbling about? That you made a special order for a customer?" Nadine cast a knowing grin at her.

"Yes. He was not pleased," Suraa acknowledged. "But I was able to explain to him that it would not be in the café's best interest if the Captain's wife were to become ill from the food."

"Oh, you little dickens! Why didn't I think of that?" Nadine shook her head, then looked at the curious guests at the table. "Sometimes I think there should be a big warning label on the front door -- 'Warning: Eat Food at Your Own Risk!'" she cackled.

"It is appalling food, which is why we bring our own," Suraa's voice was laced with humor, something that Christine was just now getting used to.

Although Spock had a sense of humor, it had taken Christine many years to understand it and even longer to catch on to it. While her husband denied having such a trait, the slight twinkle in his eyes and upturned lips let her know that he was well aware of his own human traits. Now, to see his eldest interacting with a colleague made Christine realize that unlike many Vulcans, Suraa was embracing her humanness, albeit a bit awkwardly at times.

Suraa noticed the slight smiles from her father's wife and grandmother, but she didn't pay much attention to them. Instead, she found herself joining in with Nadine's caustic humor at the expense of their employer. Joseph smiled as he took her hand in his. Before Nadine's laughter grew infectious, Doctor McCoy's voice pulled them both back to reality.

"So, my little honey-bun introduced you two?" the elder man asked as he looked from Joseph to Suraa.

Suraa was not certain if his statement was a question, since he had already been told by Nadine that she had introduced them. Just when Suraa was becoming confused by Doctor McCoy's words, Joseph nodded an affirmation and looked at the doctor. His ever present smile crossed his lips.

"Yes, she did, and not a day goes by that I'm not thankful," he said to the older woman, who beamed a smile at him.

"The moment I met Joseph, I knew he was perfect for our Suraa," Nadine commented as she cast a smile to the two before taking a drink from her wine glass. "There was just something about him that told me he was perfect, and look at how well it's gone! These two kids just returned from meeting his parents."

There was slight muttering from the table that Suraa didn't pick up. It was the legendary James T. Kirk who smiled at them as he leaned into the table.

"Is there something else that we should be toasting tonight? Perhaps an engagement of some sort?" the man's round face seemed animated as he looked from Suraa to Joseph.

"Nah, nothing like that," Joseph smiled, then quickly turned to Spock and added, "but not like I wouldn't mind if it did. It's just that it was only a visit."

"Why would you feel an engagement occurred?" Suraa asked Kirk, genuine confusion in her features.

"Well, usually when someone takes a ... companion home to meet the family, it's pretty serious," Kirk explained.

Christine realized that there were times when Suraa seemed every bit as human as her own kids. Yet there were other times, like now, when she realized how very little Suraa knew of human culture and traditions. Her Vulcan upbringing had not prepared her for the various nuances that existed in human culture, and now the poor girl found herself confused, or, as the case may be, as close to being as angry as a Vulcan could become.

At the revelation from Kirk, Suraa's brow arched slightly as she turned to look at Joseph. She noticed a reddish hue cross his cheeks as he hastily averted his eyes. With a slight smile, he looked back at her as he shrugged his shoulders.

"That's just how humans are," he weakly explained. "But it doesn't mean anything, honest. I didn't take you home with that intention in mind," Joseph pleaded.

"I see." Her brows creased into a frown as she looked back down at her food, the meal more than half eaten.

Despite everything that her mother had called her growing up, there were times when Suraa felt that she did not belong among humans. Their customs, their actions, even their words felt alien to her. Despite the Ambassador's earlier assurances that she would always be a welcome daughter of Vulcan, she felt that she could never return to the planet of her birth. Because of this, she knew that she had to assimilate, even if it was a difficult thing to do.

"Often times I found myself ... confused by human customs." Spock jumped in as if noticing Suraa's distress. When she looked across the table at him, she noticed that he turned his attention to those around the table. "The habits and traditions of humans were alien to me. But eventually, as time passed, human idiosyncrasies have become the norm," he stated matter-of-factly.

"And thank goodness for me. otherwise I wouldn't have been able to snare him like I did!" Christine raised her wine glass as if to offer a toast to her husband.

"Wife, I distinctly remember that it was I who did the chasing," Spock gently corrected.

"If I remember right, I think there was a bit of chasing and running from both of you!" McCoy shot out as laugher tinged his words. "So, Joseph, you took Suraa back to meet your family? How did that go?" The doctor pulled everyone's attention back to the uncomfortable couple.

"Well ... ummmm," Joseph stammered a bit as he looked away from the older human's probing question. Since the question was not directed at her, Suraa remained silent as she drank from the wine glass, the red Merlot swirled over her palate as she watched Joseph carefully. "Originally we went back home because of me. I wanted to have a spiritual awakening, sort of like a 'Carlos Castaneda' experience, but as it turns out, nothing happened to me. It was Suraa who experienced an epiphany," he lightly chuckled as all eyes were once again on her.

"Ohhhhhh, girl, you didn't tell me that! What happened? I thought you were going to the reservation so that Joseph could go through a vision quest?" Nadine leaned forward, her eagerness to learn about their trip seemed infectious.

Before Suraa could answer, Joseph reached for her and took her hand. "Yes, I wanted to experience a vision quest, but while I was out in the mountains, Suraa was with my grandmother and the two of them had their own ritual. She ended up with clarity and I ended up cold, hungry and tired!" he laughed.

"What type of a ritual did you go through?" Christine asked what the others probably were wondering.

With so many Vulcans at the table, Suraa wondered how much she should reveal. Choosing honesty, she looked at her father's wife. "I shared in a peyote ritual," she stated.

"And how was it? What happened?" Nadine prodded.

"Was it a good experience, dear?" Amanda asked as a waiter removed the plate from in front of her. After placing her napkin on the plate, Suraa waited until the servant removed her own plate before addressing the Ambassador's wife.

"It was..." Suraa tried to find the correct word or description that could explain the images and experiences that had consumed her on that day. When no other words were found, she simply stated, " ... fascinating."

There was a moment of silence before McCoy and Kirk broke out into hoots of laughter. Christine giggled softly as she shook her head, the slight twinkle in her eyes fell on her husband, and then back to Suraa. Suraa and Joseph remained puzzled as they watched the two men's antics.

"No doubt about it, Spock, she's a chip off the old block!" McCoy exclaimed.

"Spock, if the voice wasn't female, I'd swear it was you!" Kirk shook his head as he wiped the tears of laughter from his eyes. Kirk and McCoy's dates looked at their men as their contagious laughter threaten to take over.

"I fail to see the humor. Of course Suraa is, as you say Doctor, a chip off the block. She is, after all, my daughter," Spock answered, nonplused as the feeling at the table turned to merriment.

Suraa was not certain what had transpired at the table, but when she saw Joseph's equal look of confusion, she realized that it was not her Vulcanness that was causing her confusion. Whatever was stated was an inside joke shared between the three long time friends. Before more questions could be raised, a commotion was suddenly heard at a nearby table. Preferring to be among her peers, the birthday celebrant chose to sit at a table near the elders, where her friends were gathered. As the younger human girls giggled, they watched as Mandy walked over to the adult table.

Throughout the dinner Suraa was aware of the children's interest in Joseph. On more than one occasion the girls were glancing at him. To their great delight he occasionally offered them his bright smile, or cast a wink their way, which usually resulted in their animated giggles and whispered words. Now that the dinner was winding down, they seemed eager to continue with the evening's events.

"Looks like the birthday girl is ready to continue with her party," Christine said as she lightly touched her husband's sleeve.

"Indeed," Spock responded.

"For Mandy's ku-shinas, we mixed a bit of Vulcan with human tradition, as soon as the final Vulcan ritual is complete, they can begin with the human ritual," Christine explained to Suraa as she glanced up at Setton who was preparing some equipment on a stage. "Mandy wanted a dance for her birthday, she wanted it to be 'all grown up' she said." Christine's voice held a mixture of amusement and sadness.

"I think it's darling," Nadine smiled as she watched the young girl approach her father.

"Father?" Mandy openly smiled at Spock, and then hastily glanced at Joseph, who was now relaxing in his seat as he watched the ceremony begin.

"Of course, daughter," Spock stated as he rose and led the girl down toward the open dance floor.

Upon seeing the two figures everyone at the party slowly quieted down. Suraa wasn't certain what to expect but she knew from what she had heard of other ceremonies that as gatherings go, the actual ku-shinas ritual was very short. When father and daughter moved to the center of the dance floor, Suraa watched the new proceedings with interest. Although a part of her remembered back to her own ku-shinas, she steeled her emotions to block out the pain. Knowing that so many Vulcans were around, Suraa knew better than allowing her emotions to bleed over into their psyche.

As Spock held a small item, there seemed to be a hush that fell over the crowd. When the girl opened the box and smiled, her father reached into the box and removed the Aiya necklace. Even in the dark, its brilliance sparkled from the lighted candles.

"What is he doing?" Joseph leaned toward Suraa and whispered as he reached out and took her hand.

"She is receiving the precious stone of Aiya. According to Vulcan mythology, it is formed by the deepest fires in the heart of Vulcan," she explained softly. Sarek glanced back at her and nodded agreement.

"Although they would never admit it, it is a way for the father to express his pride in his daughter," Amanda added as she leaned toward Joseph and smiled, before she returned her attention to her son and granddaughter.

"What..." Joseph was about ready to ask another question, but Suraa, upon seeing Spock place the necklace around his daughter's neck, whispered the familiar phrase.

"You carry the hopes and dreams of our people," she whispered to herself in Vulcan, then when she saw Joseph looking at her, she translated it into Federation English. After hearing her translation, he nodded understanding. When she felt him watching her closely, she pulled her concentration back to the party. She looked around the table and noticed a few eyes on her. When she looked down, she felt Joseph squeeze her hand gently as he moved his chair closer to her.

When Suraa looked back up at Spock and his daughter, a smile crossed her lips. Their easy going interaction showed their closeness. Although she was reluctant to say it, Suraa could see the love between the two.

As Suraa thought of this, she wondered why Spock suddenly showed an interest in her. A part of her was still insecure about his motives toward her. She would like to have thought that he wanted to get to know her, to allow her to be a part of his family. But there was too great of a divide between them. Too many years had passed and although a part of her hoped that the chasm was not insurmountable, she was a realist and understood that after so many years, it might not be possible to reclaim what was lost.

"This is the part that Mandy wanted to add," Christine whispered.

Both father and daughter waited a moment until Setton began to work his control panels. Then, as the music softly wafted through the garden, the two began a slow, deliberate dance. Suraa felt her brows shoot up in surprise as she watched Spock dancing the waltz. Even though he seemed stiff, his steps were accurate as he led his daughter over the dance floor.

"Oh my," Amanda exclaimed in a hush.

"He was practicing all week for this," Christine informed the group near her. Sarek nodded understanding as he continued to watch his son's actions.

"I can't believe he actually learned to dance!" Amanda stated as she watched her son's movements.

"I didn't know he had it him," McCoy muttered with a grin, then glanced suspiciously at his human friend. "Do I need to ask who taught him? Perhaps someone who was busy all week after work on a 'private' matter," the elder doctor nudged his long time friend.

"I can't lie, Bones, guilty as charged!" Jim chuckled as he watched his student. "Once I taught him how to lead, it seemed he picked the rest up on his own."

"Well, I did help out a bit with that as well," Christine softly chuckled. "Mandy wanted something a bit faster, something contemporary, but this was as far as she was going to push her father." Christine smiled as she watched the two on the dance floor. When someone nudged at her side, the woman leaned down and pulled her youngest onto her lap. Each time Suraa glanced at the little girl, T'Rea scowled before burying her head in her mother's embrace. As the song came to a slow end, the humans in attendance softly applauded.

"This was Mandy's addition, and let me tell you, it took some convincing to get him to allow it," Christine whispered.

"What's going to happen now?" Nadine looked at McCoy.

"I don't know, honey, this is my first ku-shinas, too," the older man replied.

"Is this the part where Mandy now chooses a dance partner?" Kirk looked at Christine for confirmation.

"Yes, it is." Christine beamed a smile as she watched her daughter move away from her father. "Mandy and I thought this part was symbolic of her moving away from her parents, growing and maturing and becoming her own woman," she explained softly.

As if choosing a present to be opened, the birthday girl moved toward the gathered celebrants. Her eyes fell over the crowd as she began to make her way past the various tables. Once or twice, she smiled at one of the young boys from her class, but she never stopped. With deliberate ease, she began to walk directly to her mother's table. Both Kirk and McCoy beamed a smile as they nudged each other, each one hoping that she would chose them to do the honors of the first independent dance. But to their bewilderment, she passed them by and stopped next to Joseph.

Suraa suppressed her amusement by hiding her smile behind her hand. When the girl stood directly in front of Joseph, he gulped as a dismal expression crossed his face but was quickly replaced with a smile when he looked at the adolescent. Unconsciously gulping, he leaned toward Suraa.

"If I dance with her, that doesn't mean that I'm marrying her, or anything, does it?" Joseph asked in a hushed voice.

Suraa's gaze lowered as she leaned toward Joseph, the soft laugh in her voice was suppressed as she replied, "I do not think humans allow their offspring to be bonded at such an early age. I believe you are safe."

"Oh, good," Joseph released a sigh as he began to rise from his seat.

As he took Mandy's hand in his, Suraa quickly added, "I think," which brought an instant look of panic from the tall Indian man. As if being walked to his death, he followed the girl, his gaze looking back at Suraa. The pleading in his eyes was evident, which brought out soft giggles from the humans at the table.

"He's such a good sport," Christine chuckled as she leaned toward Suraa.

"Yes, he's a good man. You really are fortunate," Amanda added.

"I knew the minute I saw him that he was perfect. Why, if I had been a few years younger I might have nabbed him up for myself!" Nadine added, then chuckled when she saw McCoy's look of surprise. "Oh, don't worry, honey bun, I want a man, not a boy. That's why I threw Joseph to Suraa. They're simpatico," Nadine explained to Leonard.

As soon as Spock returned to his seat, T'Rea moved to sit in her father's lap. Her eyes were slowly closing as she fought to stay awake. As Spock watched the dance floor, his hands slowly brushed over his youngest child's hair.

When the first dance was over, others, mostly human, joined in the dancing. Despite his best efforts, Joseph found himself with a long line of adolescent girls waiting for their turn to dance with him. Ever gracious, he took his time with each one, his smile reserved for the girl he happened to be dancing with at the time.

"Oh, Suraa, I'm sorry. Let me go have a talk with Mandy so her friends don't tie up Joseph for the whole night," Christine said as she was about to rise from her chair.

"No, please, it is all right. Let them enjoy this evening," Suraa pleaded with Christine.

"You don't like to dance?" Amanda asked.

"I do, however I understand their attraction," the Vulcan woman explained as she watched her lover gliding through the crowd of dancers with a twelve year old girl.

Christine saw the smile on Suraa and was amazed at her display of affection for her companion. Although she had been raised by T'Pring, whom Christine believed held the emotional qualities of a rock, Suraa seemed at ease with occasional displays of affection. No, she was not like many humans, prone to emotional outbursts, but what few emotions she displayed were done freely.

When Christine glanced back at the dance floor, she allowed her gaze to wander over the tall man. She remembered her first meeting with Suraa at her apartment and now understood whom she was spending her time with and exactly how. As her critical eyes fell over the young man, there was a part of her that could see the attraction. His tall, handsome continence was enough to catch any woman's attention. Being an artist, he would know how to pay homage to a woman's body in ways that most men were ignorant of.

"I wonder if what they say about artists hands are true?" Christine mused out loud.

"Yes," Suraa answered without thought.

"Oh, yes!" Amanda echoed after her granddaughter, to the consternation of her husband and son.

"Mother!" Spock's voice was filled with shock.

"Wife," Sarek's voice was level, yet his gaze showed a hint of teasing, which brought a giggle from the older woman.

"What, Spock, do you think your father was the only man I dated? Why, once, when I first entered college, I dated an art major..." Her voice trailed off as she got a far away look. Before she could drift too far, she looked at her son's horrified expression. "Let me tell you, what they say about artists is true!" she laughed out loud.

"Amanda, you never talked about this before!" Christine giggled.

"Girl, you've got to dish and tell me more!" Nadine's wide grin covered her face as she leaned toward the Ambassador's wife.

"With that, I believe it is time for me to refresh our drinks," Sarek cast his wife an affectionate gaze as he took her wine glass and his and rose from the table. "If you will excuse me," he said before leaving the table.

"I think that means we need to go and dance," Jim said to his date, who eagerly took his arm as he led her toward the dance floor.

"And I must put someone to bed." Spock's voice was soft as he rose from his seat, the limp and sleeping body of T'Rea in his arms.

"Come on, honey bun, let's go dance," McCoy added as he took Nadine's hand.

"Are you kidding! Just when it's getting good?" Nadine exclaimed. "Go with Sarek and get me a drink while we girls dish." She said as she leaned into the table. With only a slight grumble, Leonard followed the Vulcan Ambassador away from the table.

Suraa listened with interest to the account of her grandmother's early days. Although she did not volunteer any information about her own relationship with Joseph, she began to notice similarities and wondered if it had to do with his life interest in art, as the women indicated. While it was true that many men had similar traits, she learned early on that there were differences. Some were bold and forceful to the point of being filled with anger, such as Mark Stevens. With him there were times when she feared for her own safety. Once Nadine had removed him from her life, she didn't think that she would ever care to spend her time with another human male. But after meeting Joseph she knew that he was far different from any man she had ever met before. Not only was he attentive, but he was kind and generous with his emotions. He was so gentle with her that she had to be the one to suggest to him that she would be agreeable to sexual relations with him. As way of reinforcing her desires, she had been the one to initiate the union. Thankfully, as their time together grew, she did not always have to be the aggressor because he knew that she was always more than willing to join with him. Remembering their early days together, Suraa released a soft smile as she returned her attention to the conversation of the women at the table.

Although Christine and Amanda had shared 'girl-talk' before, she had never heard any of Amanda's stories that predated her husband. Now, with only women at the table, her mother in-law seemed free to speak openly about her exploits with a certain art student she dated early in college. Occasionally Christine glanced at Suraa, assuring that the young woman was not offended by the topic. Every once in a while Suraa would nod her agreement of something that her grandmother had said as a way of lending support to the theory of artists as lovers. To Nadine's amusement, the women freely spoke now that the men were gone from the table.

"If you will excuse me," Suraa softly interrupted the conversation as she glanced at Christine. Christine understood the unspoken question that women were able to communicate, and she smiled and nodded to the house.

"You'll find it at the end of the hallway. If that one is in use, you can go up to the second floor and use that one, or in the master bedroom," she informed. "Would you like me to show you?"

"No, thank you. I am sure I can find my way," Suraa assured as she left the table.

As Suraa made her way to the facilities she glanced over the crowd. With the party still in high gear, there were Vulcans and humans alike milling through the garden. When she made her way up the patio and into the house, she glanced around to catch her bearings. As she walked down the long hall she glanced at the various holos on the wall, the images of a family growing up were displayed in various phases. At the end of the hall she went to open a door, but heard someone inside -- an indication that it was already in use. Remembering Christine's instructions, she found her way to the staircase and went to the second floor.

Although the house was empty, lights were on in the various rooms. She was able to examine the contents from the hallway and easily guessed the occupants of each room. In Setton's room there was musical equipment lying around. His wall was covered with holo-posters of the latest bands that were touring the galaxy. Although cluttered at first glance, she could see the orderly manner in which he stacked his instruments and music discs.

In the second room she saw her father kneeling over the bed of his youngest child. Silence filled the room as he quickly changed the sleeping girl into night clothes, and then placed her head gently on a pillow. Although Suraa could not see Spock's expression, she noticed how he slowly touched the sleeping girl's hair as he gazed down at her and, although it may have seemed illogical to most Vulcans, she could sense the love that he held for his daughter. As a vise like grip of emotions threatened to encircle her psyche, Suraa blinked away the moisture in her eyes and she turned away from the sight. Sitting in the hallway in front of her was a large, shaggy sehlat. He glanced up at her, his nose sniffed the air to catch her scent. As if recognizing her genetic link to this family, the animal huffed once, and then bounded past her to the room of his young mistress.

In the next room she saw the trappings of a girl trying to become a woman. On the wall were holograms of various male performers. Although one would think she was preoccupied with the male gender, Suraa noted the bookcase in the corner that was covered with various text discs. The computer that sat on a desk was neatly surrounded by various booklets that were used for study.

When Suraa came to a closed door, she attempted to open it, but heard the sound of another occupant already using the facilities. As a final solution, she went to the last bedroom and slowly opened the door. A part of her felt that she was invading the privacy of her father and his wife, but as her need was growing urgent, she decided to follow Christine's instructions. As she gazed at the neatly organized room, she marveled at how human it was. The bed was covered with a simple coverlet of browns and tan color. The headboard was an intricate wooden carved board found only on Vulcan and the matching furniture was logically placed in the large room. The decorations were a combination of human and Vulcan and in the corner of the room sat a familiar Vulcan urn that constantly burned with the flames of their home planet. At the farthest corner of the room was a sliding glass door to what Suraa assumed was a balcony overlooking their back yard.

Ignoring all of this, she moved into the private facilities and closed the door behind her. As she sat upon the seat and commenced urinating, she glanced at the room that could be considered the most private area of her father's abode. With a large glass shower, a bathing tub big enough to fit the whole family, and two sinks with a mirror, it was an ideal room that any human would enjoy. The marble floor was as beautiful as the tiled wall. On one side of the sink sat the various toiletries of a human female, and on the other were the few items used by a Vulcan man. Each side was clean and neat and not a hint of untidiness claimed the space.

When she was finished, the toilet automatically flushed and as she was washing her hands in the sonic sink, she glanced at her own reflection in the mirror. Joseph had commented that she looked like her father, but as she examined her own reflection she could not see in her what he saw. Yet upon closer inspection, she had to admit that she could not see any hint of her mother either. As she pondered this, she wondered where it left her. If she could not see her mother nor her father in her features, what did this mean? Was she human or Vulcan? And what would become of her if neither world accepted her? Would there ever be a day when she could look at herself and know where she belonged?

As these frustrating thoughts loomed in her mind, she dried her hands and left the room. Just when she was ready to exit the closed door, a soft sound of a man clearing his throat caught her attention. When she turned, she noticed her father standing on the balcony overlooking the party below.

"Will you join me?" he asked without turning around.

When she stepped out onto the second floor balcony she caught the fragrant scent of lilacs and jasmine. As the wind sifted through her hair, she heard the distant sound of crickets over the music from the party. The branches of the lilac trees that were casting forth its aromatic fragrance swayed below the balcony as the full moon of Terra shined down on them. Down at the party Amanda and Christine were both dancing with Joseph. Their bodies moved and swayed to the beat of the pounding music as Joseph made certain to dance with his two partners. Their quick gyrations belayed their age, which brought a slight smile to Suraa. Before she could contemplate it further, her father cleared his throat.

"Suraa..." Spock seemed uncomfortable. His body language was stoically Vulcan, yet his mannerism was ill at ease. Despite this, he turned and gazed down at her. The slight smile on his lips never faded. "I am well pleased that you have joined us," he simply said.

"Thank you ... F-Father," Suraa still found it hard to say, but forced herself to become accustomed to the title.

"Suraa, I regret that there is much that we have not spoken of. I am certain that you have many questions, many concerns," he gazed at her as his brows creased into a frown. "And I have much to explain."

At his words Suraa looked down at the milling guests, her gaze remained neutral as she steeled herself against whatever pain that might come down upon her. To her surprise, her voice was calmer than she expected before she said, "No explanation is necessary."

"But there is much to clarify. I have erred with you and I simply wish to answer some questions that you might have," Spock said.

"Father," she sighed as she glanced up the stars, "I have long since learned that no explanations are necessary. They are ... illogical at best."

Spock grinned as he nodded, "That is your mother talking."

"Perhaps so. I have heard much of her explanations and have since come to realize that at times, silence is preferable," Suraa assented.

"Yes, when it comes to T'Pring, silence is always preferable." Her father's words took her by surprise. Casting a sharp glance at him, her eyes grew small as she tried to decipher his meaning. If she had not known better, she would have thought that he was mocking her mother, which is something she had never heard anyone do before.

"Your mother and I had many differences, things which would have made our bonding impossible. But whatever differences we had should never have impacted you, and for that, I am truly sorry. I bear this guilt alone and I ask your forgiveness." His voice was calm and steady as he held her gaze.

"Guilt is an illogical human emotion and forgiveness is a mirror of emotions better left alone," Suraa replied.

Spock smiled openly as he reached out and lightly touched the side of her cheek. A tenderness never felt from a parental figure engulfed her senses. "But, my daughter, as you must know, I am half human, just as you are a quarter human."

"A quarter human," Suraa echoed as she looked away. Spock's hand fell to his side as he watched her carefully. When she felt his confusion, she looked sharply at him, the anger for her mother's words laced her voice. "Mother always said that my single failing was that I was a human. At times it seemed as if every curse that ever existed in humans was mine alone to bear," she explained.

Her father's eyes seemed to grow sad as he shook his head. "Child, T'Pring erred in relaying this sentiment to you for you are more Vulcan than I. Yet at times you appear more human than I've ever been. Someday I hope that you will embrace all that is in you. Both the Vulcan and human qualities."

At his words Suraa looked away. Her thoughts pondered his statement as the anger and frustration of her past flooded her senses. When a slight movement was heard, she turned and watched as Spock removed a small box from a pocket in his tunic.

"Suraa, my daughter, this should have been given to you long ago," he stated as he opened the box. When she saw the Aiya stone, she felt as if her breath had stopped. As he took it out and held it before her, a slight smile crossed his lips. "This is the pulse of our people. It is the pride of Vulcan. In it our hopes and dreams reside, just as they reside in you, my child -- my daughter," she heard him say as he moved behind her to put the necklace around her neck.

"Father ... I ... I ..." Suraa stammered as she felt moisture in her eyes. Never had she thought that this gift would be hers. True, she could have purchased one for herself, but the Aiya was meant to be given by a father to a daughter. To have attained it any other way would have made it hollow. Now, as she wore the precious stone, she felt her heart skip with joy. When she felt the uncontrollable tears in her eyes, she fought with all her might to staunch them. At the look of concern from her father, she turned away as she tried to shield her face from the tall Vulcan.

"Forgive me, Father," his daughter muttered as she silently called upon her Vulcan discipline to reign in her emotions. Before she realized a change, he turned her and pulled her into his arms. A part of her mind wanted to rebel, to shout and ask where he had been all her life. She wanted to pound on his chest and demand the answers that only an abandoned child's mind could ask. But when she felt his strong arms hold her close, heard his soft words of comfort, she gave in to the flood of emotions that welled up in her heart.

"My daughter, my child, my daughter..." His low murmur was a mantra that kept cadence to her rapidly beating heart. Large, strong hands held her close as his fingers tenderly brushed through her hair. With her face pillowed against his chest, she wept for all of her past woes. The memories and sorrows were washed away until all that was left was a sensation of warmth. Like a catharsis, all that was left was the sound of her rapidly beating heart.

When Suraa pulled away, she felt the moisture on his tunic. Regret crossed her features as she lightly touched the delicate fabric. Spock smiled warmly as he reached into a pocket and removed a small white cloth. With an arch of a brow she looked at her father.

"My wife is in the habit of making certain that I always have a handkerchief in my pocket, even though I have yet to use one," he explained as he lightly dabbed at the tears on her cheek. With a slight smile, she took the cloth from him and wiped away her tears.

"She is a wise woman," Suraa said.

"Yes, she is and despite her wisdom she still agreed to become my bondmate." The corners of his lips curved into a smile as a slight twinkle shined in his dark eyes.

"Illogical human failing?" Suraa teased.

"No doubt, for which I will always be eternally grateful." Spock's features suddenly turned serious for only a fraction before he allowed a full smile to cross his lips.

"My child, we have much to make up for," he said, then glanced down at the party. The music was in full swing. With a slight arch of a brow, he looked from the dance floor, to Suraa. "Perhaps we can continue this later after we save your young man from your grandmother and my wife?"

When she looked down she saw how the two older humans were gyrating and moving around Joseph, the movement of their hips in synch with the beat of the music. Their arms were flailing in the air as if they were in distress, yet their body movements indicated that they were dancing. Standing near the dance floor was the birthday girl and her friends. A look of utter mortification was on her features as she watched her elders on the dance floor.

"Not to mention the birthday girl," Suraa added with a touch of humor.

"Indeed. Although there is no evidence of an individual dying of shame, I'm sure Mandy will have much to say about the topic tomorrow," Spock added as he began to guide Suraa from the balcony.

Christine had seen her husband and Suraa on the balcony and hoped that they were making up for lost time. Before she could even think about it, she and Amanda decided that it was time that they showed the girls how to dance, and as Joseph was the topic of their latest discussions, they made straight for him. The first song was easy and Joseph seemed to enjoy having two partners to dance with. By the second song Christine was wondering what possessed her to choose such uncomfortable heels. When the third song started she realized that if something didn't happen after this song, she just might have a heart attack. Thankfully Suraa arrived and cut in on both her and Amanda.

Panting and out of breath Christine fell in a heap in her chair. The sweat falling down her forehead let her know that she wasn't as young as she thought she was. Amanda, equally out of breath, settled into her chair as she was fanning herself.

"I ... don't know about ... you, Christine, but ..." Amanda fought to catch her breath. "I ... think I could have gone the ... whole night."

"Oh ..." Christine wiped the sweat from her forehead as she gratefully took a glass of water from her husband's hands, "Easily!" she agreed before she eagerly drank the cool liquid. When she emptied the glass, she smiled at her mother in-law, "but it's good Suraa cut in. It's probably for the best that we do not monopolize the poor boy."

"Indeed, wife, why, the young man appears winded after two feisty partners," Spock gently teased as he looked at the dance floor.

"No doubt they would have soon worn him out," Sarek agreed as he nodded to his wife, and then turned to watch the dancers on the floor.

Without even breaking a sweat, Joseph held Suraa close as he twirled her around the dance floor. Although the music was fast and lively, their steps were reminiscent of the Tango. Their bodies moved in unison to the beat of the music and their hands held each other intimately. Their eyes gazed at each other and occasionally they leaned in to exchange a kiss. Their fluid motions held all of the unbridled sexuality of their youth and although the floor was filled with other dancers, Suraa and Joseph appeared oblivious to anyone but each other.

"Oh, yeah, all night," Christine muttered as she caught her breath.

When she looked at her husband she noticed his relaxed posture. He watched his daughter but rather than have a longing in his eyes, there was a sense of peace. With a smile, Christine sent out her love through the bond that they shared and like a mirror, he replied with a warmth and comfort that seemed to grow stronger with each passing day. She did not delude herself into thinking that all of their troubles were over, but she knew that at least now their family could begin to take the steps needed to make up for lost time.

* * *

The party guests were gone and all that remained was an enormous amount of clean up in the backyard, and a bunch of giggling girls on the first floor in the house. As was the custom of human sub-teens, Mandy had invited her female school friends to stay for a sleep over. Once explaining to Spock that sleeping is never accomplished at a sleep over, Christine made her way to their room. With heels in one hand she rubbed her sore neck as she stood in her room. She barely had enough energy to toss her shoes aside and strip away her dress. Now wearing only her underclothes, she plopped unceremoniously on the end of their bed.

Christine was tired. Bone tired. Yet she had to admit that her daughter's ku-shinas had been a success. Not even the Vulcans who attended complained about the mixture of human and Vulcan traditions. In fact, Christine wouldn't doubt if some of their traditions found their way back to Vulcan.

As the door opened, she looked up and saw her husband entering the room. A tired smile crossed her lips as he moved to sit behind her. As if reading her mind, he unclasped her bra and helped her remove it before his gentle hands began to knead her tired muscles. Every once in a while a moan of pleasure escaped her control as she leaned into his touch, loving every minute of his pampering.

"Oh god, I hate to sound like this, but I'm sure glad that we only have one more of these functions to go through. By the time T'Rea is ready for hers, I should be recovered," Christine groaned.

"It was a ..." Her husband's voice faltered as he attempted to think of a word to describe what they had just been through. Finally, he settled on, "... handful," as he continued his steady ministrations upon her aching muscles.

"Oh, you're not kidding!" she sighed as every inch of her body protested in agony. With a suspicious look, she glanced back at her husband. "How come you're not sore?" she asked, wondering why he seemed as fresh as when the day started.

"Because, my wife," a slight smile curved the corners of his lips. "I was not dancing the night away with someone half my age," Spock stated deadpan.

"Why!" Christine almost got upset until she noticed the amusement in his eyes. "I did do that, didn't I?" she chuckled as she lowered her head, allowing him more access to her neck. "Spock, next time I want to try those new dances, please remind me of my age," she sighed. "I wonder how Amanda is managing? She went back near the end to dance with Joseph again," she smiled with remembrance of her mother in-law's antics. "I think she likes him. She thinks he's good for Suraa." Christine's voice held a whimsical quality.

"And you, my wife. What do you think?" Spock asked as the palms of his hands moved down her back, taking special care to rub along her sides.

"I think he's wonderful! What do you think?" His wife asked with eyes closed as a sense of peace fell over her.

"I think ..." He hesitated a moment, then spoke clearly. "I believe that Suraa likes him, which is what is important."

Christine smiled at the memories of seeing the young Vulcan woman dancing in her lover's arms. While Suraa may have down played her relationship with Joseph, when they were on the dance floor together there was no doubt in anyone's mind that the two were lovers. Even when they were dancing apart to fast music, it was clear that they were inseparable. Not only were they free with their kisses for each other, but their movements on the dance floor were sensual. Their sexual tensions were revealed with each step they took and each mirrored movement of their bodies. Yet Christine knew that it was not intentional. It was simply a ripple effect that always clung to two lovers.

As she remembered how Joseph and Suraa gazed at each other while on the dance floor, a smile crossed Christine's face. "Spock, did we ever look at each other like that?" she asked.

His hands stopped for a moment before he leaned in and lightly kissed the nape of her neck, "My wife, have I stopped looking at you like that?"

At the touch of his breath against the nape of her neck, she felt a shiver cross her spine. Long forgotten feelings that were buried under the responsibilities of doctor, motherhood and wife were suddenly rekindled. Light tentative touches grew bolder as his lips moved over her shoulder. With a sharp intake of breath she leaned back into his kisses, her nipples grew taut as moisture began to build between her legs.

"Ohhhh..." Christine sighed when he reached around her and began to gently knead her breasts. "That feels so good," she moaned as she reached behind her and began to run her fingers through his hair. When she traced the outline of his pointed ear, she heard a slight gasp come from deep in his throat.

"Christine, my wife," his voice came out hushed as he touched her in so many familiar ways. "It has been too long. If you are agreeable?" His words trailed off into a question.

"Oh, Spock." She turned in his arms to face him. A gentle smile etched her features as she gazed into his eyes. "You don't even have to ask, my husband." Her fingers fanned through his short, dark hair.

"You mean you are not fatigued from your night of frivolity?" he gently teased.

"A bit." Her smile caused her eyes to crease as she leaned toward him.

When their lips met, she felt his tongue beckon entrance and in her customary way she allowed it. At the taste of lips and tongue, she groaned her pleasure as her hands ran over the cloth of his tunic. When they pulled apart, she gave him a wicked smile. "If you can get undressed before fall asleep, I'm sure I can get up enough energy," Christine softly said as she moved to lie on the bed. She struck a seductive pose, her breasts heaved with each breath she took. Spock's eyes gazed over her as he unconsciously gulped. Without much ado, Spock rose from his place and began to quickly undress. Feeling a bit frisky, Christine reached out with a bare foot and lightly traced the ever growing bulge within her husband's pants, "Of course, I should be asking if you will have any difficulties 'getting it up' as they say," she teased.

A hint of amusement filled his eyes as Spock gazed down at her. Without any precursor he opened the bond that they shared and allowed her to feel the urgency of his need. His sexual arousal encircled and consumed her like the hot flames of Vulcan. With a gasp, she closed her eyes as she felt his wanton desires surround and engulf her in his needs. Smiling at the prospect of what the night entailed, she leaned back and watched him with cat-like patience as he dropped his pants and joined her on their bed.

"Have I ever had difficulties in the past, my wife?" he whispered before focusing his full concentration to pleasing her.

Despite their years together, the children that they bore, and even the new addition of Spock's eldest daughter into their family, there were like young lovers again. Their hands touched well known places to bring each other pleasure and when she felt that she could stand it no more, he entered her and began a familiar cadence. Each one mirrored the other's pleasure and for this single night it was as if they were the only two lovers left in the world. Nothing could have amplified her pleasure, or sated her sexual needs as her Vulcan husband now did.

* * *

Since arriving on Terra, there were customs that Suraa was becoming accustomed to. Although she could always appreciate the aesthetics of dance, especially the traditional forms of Vulcan, she herself never attempted such movements. She always felt herself clumsy and awkward in her day to day life, and grace was never a quality she possessed. But since arriving on Terra she had learned that sometimes she was able to perform even the simplest of feats. Dancing was one of them. Of course, when she analyzed it, she realized that she did not enjoy the movements with anyone but Joseph.

Just as he was in life, Joseph was patient and taught her the simple steps. Once she realized that all she needed to do was mirror his movements and follow his lead, the rest was easy. It also didn't hurt when she understood that in many cases such movements were simply a reflection of the sexual union that the two dancers shared. So when she joined with Joseph on the dance floor, it was a natural extension of their relationship. She didn't see anything unusual or wrong with doing something that humans throughout the ages have been doing.

One side affect that always occurred from their dancing was her urgent need to mate, which always brought amusement from Joseph. They stayed for as long as she could manage before she asked him to take her home. Although there were still guests milling around, he eagerly agreed and after expressing their thanks to her father and his wife, and wishing the birthday girl peace and long life, they left the party.

Once they were in the car, Joseph smiled at her in the dark. His hand reached for her and held hers tightly. "See, I told you they would love me," he sagely stated.

Suraa glanced at him and noticed his shadowed profile. With a slight smile she pulled her hand away from his. She reached up to brush her fingers through his long, thick hair. The silky strands fell in neat tendrils down his shoulder.

"They are not the only ones who love you," Suraa stated, which brought a look of surprise from him. He seemed as if ready to ask a question, but rather than voice his thoughts, he leaned toward her, his lips slightly parted as his soft skin met hers.

Suraa's tongue danced softly against Joseph's. As her own needs rose, she grew more urgent, her desires flowing through their single touch. When she felt his hand trail down her shoulder and rest on her bosom, she allowed her own to move down his torso. At the feel of hardness through his pants, she groaned as her fingers quickly unzipped his trousers. After finding her target, her fingers moved in slow, gentle strokes along the shaft. A groan escaped his control as he threw his head back. Just when she was ready to lower her lips and take him fully in her mouth, a loud knock on their window broke her concentration. Quickly pulling her hand away from the darkness that concealed his lap, Suraa leaned back in her seat.

"Hey, why don't you kids get a room!" Nadine's familiar voice cackled as she broke out into laughter. Standing outside of their car, she waved at the two as she began to follow McCoy to their own parked car. "That's what we're planning on doing," the older waitress added with laughter. Suraa could almost imagine her friend winking at her as she disappeared into a parked vehicle.

"Come on, let's get home," Joseph said through ragged breaths.

Although the trip home was only a matter of minutes, for two sexually needy young people it could have felt like an eternity. Suraa, not letting up on her own desires, remained the entire ride home with her hand in his lap, occasionally she touched his hard member to remind him of her own needs. When he lowered the borrowed car into the parking space, she contemplated taking him here and now, but when she saw the crowds of students still milling on the streets, she decided that discretion was needed.

"Let's see if I can make it," Joseph panted as he tried to pull himself together. He hastily tore her hand away as he zipped up his pants.

Neither one stopped to talk to the security at the front of their apartment. Instead, they nodded to the student as they quickly made their way to the lift. Once the doors closed behind them, she turned in Joseph's arms and began to kiss him. Her lips captured his in a show of dominance. When she heard the door open, she glanced out to make certain that it was the correct floor, and then together, they made their way into the hall.

"How come..." Joseph panted as he placed his hand over the door reader and waited for it to unlock, "I'm the only one excited here?"

Once the door opened and she pulled him into the entry way, and closed the door behind them, she pulled him into another kiss. After she stepped away, she looked up into his dark eyes, a hint of amusement played across her expression. "What makes you think that I do not feel the same needs?" she asked as she took his hand and guided it to the slit along the side of her dress.

With a curious expression he gazed deeply into her eyes as the palm of his hand ran up along her leg. When she felt his fingers playing with the band of her underwear, she leaned back against the wall as she slightly spread her legs for him. The moment his fingers stroked down her folds, she closed her eyes as an involuntary gasped escaped her control.

"Oh god ..." he muttered as his fingers were bathed in her wetness.

"Gods exist only in mythology," Suraa stated with as much logic as she could muster as she roughly pushed against his chest, forcing him against the opposite wall. "I am not a god," she stated as she kissed his chin, her eyes gazing over his features while her hands were quickly unfastening the zipper of his pants. Before he could say a word, she unzipped his pants and pulled his hardness from the constricting confinements.

"You ..." he panted as her left hand stroked along his length, her right hand moved lower and in a delicate manner, her fingers began to message his tight sacks. "... are ..." she heard him say as she dropped on her knees before him. She took only a moment to gaze at his maleness before taking him into her mouth. " ... .evil ..." She heard his comment as she swallowed as much of him as she was able.

Before Terra, Suraa had never known about this form of love. To her, there was only one way to mate and any deviations were unheard of. But since arriving on her father's planet, she had learned that there were many ways to make love. This form, a ritual performed before the man actually mounted her, was something she had learned from her encounter with the Star Fleet cadet. Although with him it was anything but pleasant.

Mark was brash and forceful in ways that Joseph never was. The first time he introduced Suraa to this act, she had not done it willingly. But being new to humans, and not understanding their ways, she did as he commanded. A few times, she bit too hard or caused him pain, which resulted in him hitting her on the back of the head or slapping her face as he hurled curses at her. After a few times she soon learned what was needed to give him pleasure, thereby avoiding his wrath. Although he had taught her this, she never found pleasure in it. His taste was bitter and the noises he made were repulsive. He was displeasing to her in everyway and when he finally lost his seed in her mouth, it was all she could do to not gag.

But things were different with Joseph. Not only did he not force her to perform this act on him, but he was pleasantly surprised the first time that she moved to cover him with her mouth. From the moment she began this ritual, she basked in the act. She inhaled his musky aroma and relished the contrasting feel of his pliant hardness against her face. When her tongue ran along the thick vein that protruded along the side, she filed away the sensations to memory. The soft sounds of his delight, the slight moisture that dripped from the tip, enhanced her pleasure. When she wrapped her lips around him, she closed her eyes and basked in his taste. Although she had very little to thank her past lover for, she was always grateful that Mark had taught her this form of closeness because she was now able to use it on Joseph.

Now, as she knelt before the Indian, she took him into her mouth. She held fast to his bucking hips as her mouth moved up and down along his shaft. A few times, she massaged his velvety sacks and was pleased by the moan he emitted. His strong fingers gripped the side of her hair and held fast to her as her tongue wiggling against his flesh. When he could hold on no more, he froze as his twitching member released into her eager mouth.

No, she had no feelings for Mark except gratitude that through his harsh tutelage, she had learned the art of pleasing a man. Now that she found Joseph, she did everything in her power to give as much pleasure as she was able to this beautiful man. When a sigh escaped his control, he leaned back against the wall. Suraa gulped down his tangy sweetness before returning to licking him once more. Just as always, he quickly grew hard.

"Suraa ..." His voice was a soft plea as he pulled her from her knees.

She smiled at him as she took his hand and began to lead him across the loft. He fumbled with the top latch of his pants in an endeavor to remove the confining clothes, but eventually gave up. By the single light from the entry way, they made their way through the darkness. She heard his rasping breaths behind her, and before she realized a change, he pulled her back against him, his arms reached around her to run up and down her torso. When his palm squeezed her breast, she released a groan as she involuntarily pushed back against him.

"Oh, Suraa." His voice was like a plea as he pushed her against the nearest furniture. In the awkwardness of the situation, she held on to the side of the kitchen table as she felt his hands eagerly push up the back of her dress and pull down her panties. With something akin to a groan he moved behind her and felt between her legs. Suraa smiled slightly as she parted her legs, allowing her lover full entrance. When she felt his hardness sink into her, she leaned down upon the table for support. Her eyes were closed as she stood on the tips of her toes. Each gentle thrust was met with her whimper as he filled her completely.

Yes, if Suraa understood what love meant, then she had to admit to herself that she loved this man. She loved the sound of his voice, so gentle and soft as to be soothing. And she loved the way that he looked, his tan brown skin, dark eyes that seemed to see into the depths of her soul, and his long hair that fell in gentle cascades past his shoulders. But most importantly, she loved when they became one. When his hard maleness plunged deeply into her, the feel of him pushing into the very depths of her body just as his words pushed into her psyche, caused Suraa's heart to soar.

Like twin souls, they matched each other's needs. When he reached around her waist and began to stroke between her wet folds, she gripped the edge of the wooden table as a shiver of pleasure shot through her body. With an uncontrollable grunt, she cried out as she felt her liquid gush past his thrusting member. As if the spasms of her internal walls spurred on his pleasure, he groaned behind her as he held fast to her and pumped his seed into her.

Once complete, he turned her in his arms and he lavished kisses over her face, her neck and shoulders. Somehow amongst the tangle of arms and deep kisses, they managed to shed as much of their clothing as possible as they made their way toward their bed. Before she realized it, she felt the corner of the mattress at the back of her legs, and ended up falling out of control onto the bed. She only smiled up at him as she spread her legs in invitation. As the hair fell past his shoulders, he gazed down at her. Through the diffused light of the city street lamps, he examined every curve of her body. Reaching down, he took her right leg and slowly removed the high heel that she wore, and then did the same with her left. In the new position, he held her ankles in his grip as he pushed his hips forward so that the tip of his erection brushed through her folds. When she felt his fleshy crown brush against her, she closed her eyes as a shiver of pleasure escaped her control.

"Oh ... god ..." It was her turn to moan as she arched her hip upwards, straining to open herself completely to his exploring shaft, to show him exactly where she wanted his perfect male appendage to go.

"I-I ... thought you said that Gods exist only in mythology?" he teased as he pulled her legs over his shoulders and crouched over her. Like a sword being sheathed, he slipped past her silky wet barriers and buried himself within her. Grimacing at the exquisite pleasure, she pushed her hips up to meet him as her legs brushed against his ears.

"Don't ... be a tease ..." she panted as her body screamed for release.

Obeying her body's command, he began the all too familiar rhythm. His eyes were closed tightly and his brows creased as if he needed every bit of his concentration focused on his thrusts. The cadence of her breath matched his exertion. With each quick movement, she cried out as she tried to grip him within her. She did not know what it was about this human that brought out this reaction from her, nor did she care. All she cared about was sating her own need.

Like a never ending aphrodisiac, their bodies played off of one another. Their needs were mirrored in the other and although it seemed as if an eternity had passed, they continued in their familiar mating ritual. Only after a few more orgasms did they finally feel the pent up tensions of the sexual frustrations nominally abated.

When the cold chill of the morning caused Suraa to shiver, Joseph gently picked up her exhausted body and placed her under their blankets. Once he crawled in next to her, he pulled her tightly against him and began to warm her up. With a sigh of contentment, she snuggled against his chest, her leg draped over his. As if sensing that his two owners had finished their commotion for the time being, Itaru, their cat, climbed out from under the bed and moved over the two bodies. His ragged ear twitched as he snuggled on top of the two forms, a loud purr emitted from him.

"Maybe after we rest, we can do this some more?" Joseph whispered as he kissed her sweaty forehead. He absently stroked the mangy fur of the large purring cat.

"I have only three point one hours to rest, and then I must get ready," she stated as her internal clock kicked in. Snuggling closer to him, she listened to the cadence of his heart, a perfect echo to the purring of her cat.

"Why?" he asked in a sleepy voice.

"Christine invited me to join her and my grandmother for a day at the spa. Apparently she feels that a day of relaxation is called for after the months of planning for her daughter's ku-shinas," she explained as she felt herself drifting into sleep.

"Oh. Okay. Then later tonight," Joseph promised.

"Ahuh," she mumbled in an un-Vulcan like manner. "Oh, and this Wednesday we will be having dinner at the embassy with my grandparents, and next Saturday we will be joining my father's family for an intimate dinner with just the immediate family."

"Wow! Two dinner invitations in one week," Joseph stated with amazement.

"You did want me to have a family, this is part of it," Suraa smiled against his chest, her fingertips lightly traced a circle around one of his nipples before settling over its hardness.

"Yes, I guess we'll just have to get used to having a busier social schedule," he sighed as he settled down to sleep, and then added with a tinge of humor. "But I was right, they love me!"

Suraa released something close to a snort as she gently pinched his erect nipple. A slight yelp escaped his control as laughter came from him. When he settled back down into the comfort of sleep, she softly whispered, "they are not the only ones who love you," before they both drifted into dreams.



The End



(Would you like to read more stories about Spock, Christine and the new additions to their family, Suraa and Joseph? If so, drop me a line at: CrystalMichallet@yahoo.com)