DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Jacqueline Bielowicz and is copyright (c) 1977 by Jacqueline Bielowicz. This story is Rated PG-13. Originally printed in "Tal-Shaya #4", 1977.

The Blooded Flame

by Jacqueline Bielowicz

It was the same. The fire that burned within him warred with the external heat of the Vulcan summer. As his blood raged and seethed, his face was as harsh and unyielding as the landscape of sand and rock. Despite the atmosphere of time and tradition, he was aware of nothing but the burning in his blood and the woman who was to come. His reasoning was eroding and he used his budding rage to focus for control.

*I do not want this. Though she comes willingly, our marriage will be one of convenience, not commitment. I want no stranger within my defenses. A lifetime of explanations and judgments, only to finish with rejection ... a rejection even worse than T'Pring's.*

He shuddered as the thoughts crossed his mind, foreseeing an agonizing future. A soft breeze stirred the chimes, sending their music faintly through the Place of Challenge. Except for the chimes and the slightly labored breathing of the humans behind him, there was no sound in the circle of monoliths. Almost forgotten were those who stood in attendance with him ... his parents, who had missed his first marriage and supported him now ... *or witness my second humiliation.* The two friends, who had been with him before, were with him again, McCoy openly worried. Spock thought of them fleetingly, then his mind returned to the demands of his heated blood.

*I cannot stop this, so I will let tradition take its way.*

He mounted the dais and firmly struck the main chime. As its rich tone swelled across the clearing, he turned in the direction from which she would come. His eyes were glazed as he stood with hands clenched at his side. Muted signals from the distant bell-banners send his mind back to the Time of Bonding.

After his divorce from T'Pring, he had resisted a second Bonding, content with his life in Starfleet. Vulcan tradition, however, is strong; an unBonded male is a threat to himself and his culture. When his father had suggested a Bonding with T'Pera three years before, he had no alternative. He had reluctantly agreed.

He met her for the first time at their Bonding. She was 31 years old and rapidly becoming an expert in the field of biochemistry. She was almost as tall as he, with long, slender legs and a trim waist. She had a deceptively fragile appearance. Her soft, dark hair, smoothly coiled, framed an oval face set with wide, dark-gold eyes, common to some families of Vulcan. During her first greetings, her eyes had veiled her thoughts, holding her slightly aloof from him.

Her personal history was very impressive; she had come from one of the oldest families of the Dal'par province. Their genetic scans had proved to be highly compatible, despite his human characteristics. Her first Bondmate, an engineer, had been killed in an accident before their marriage. But at the time, Spock had wondered why she had agreed to Bond with a "legend"; would she regret it later?

During the actual ceremony, as T'Pau keyed their minds together, he had been intrigued by the texture of T'Pera's thoughts. The quiet, docile face beneath his fingers hid a lively, free mind that surged with the joy of life. As the Bonding proceeded, he remained withdrawn behind his self-imposed barrier, irrationally fearing another rejection. T'Pera was aware of what he was doing, but was unsure of insisting on an unrestricted Bonding as was her right.

In the three years that followed the Bonding, they exchanged monthly tapes. She used the tapes as a means of teaching him of her; she spoke of her plans, her past, her lifestyle, her beliefs, all the key things that made her. Though he send her concise reports of his activities, her questions told him she was not receiving the information she wanted. His inability to respond to her was denying her the rapport she had the right to expect from her Bondmate. He wanted to reassure her that their Bonding would work, but his doubts raised a barrier between them she did not know how to breach. He felt he knew the superficial T'Pera far better than he ad ever known T'Pring; yet, he doubted the internal T'Pera. There was no logic in his doubts; T'Pera had voluntarily agreed to the Bonding with him.

The entrance of the bride's party put a rapid end to his memories. She was as he remembered her, moving gracefully across the clearing, her thin hands lightly clasped before her. As the party moved into position, the chiming of the bell-banners irritated his already lacerated nerves. The pounding in his blood increased and anger surged within him at this biological condition that made him subject to his own body's needs. Since all the arrangements had been made, no greetings were exchanged. The Koon-ut-Kali-fee was ready to begin.

"Kah-if-fee!" T'Pau's firm voice cut through his mounting agitation.

The bell-banners were shaken as he turned to the large chime. He hesitated momentarily, awaiting the dreaded cry, then he struck the chime harshly. Surprise and triumph struggled within him; the pattern had been broken. This time it would be completed. He dropped the stone mallet as he turned and descended the dais. He waited at the base while T'Pera stately advanced and stood before him. His hands reached out to her face, positioning his fingers carefully as she did the same to him. Their minds blended, his thoughts a maelstrom of fire and passion and her thoughts, a cold, blue, crystalline fire, reaching out to guide him. There was Oneness.

In Old Vulcan, he intoned the ancient words, his voice rasping with the approaching *plak tow*.

"Thou art my consort. Thou art the Keeper of our Home, the Mother of our Children, the Strength of my Existence. I take thee into Me to the portal of death."

Her thoughts were like cooling balm across the wounds of his heated mind as she repeated her vows.

"Thou art my consort. Thou art the Defender of our Home, the Father of our Children, the Strength of my Existence. I take thee into Me to the portal of death."

The final link was forged. Within the dual privacy of their union, she offered him security and trust. With the strength of her control, he was able to suppress the rising need in his body until they would be alone. They turned, hand in hand, to face the ones around them. Moving together, they knelt before T'Pau's chair. She leaned forward and carefully positioned a hand on each head before her. She lightly scanned their link and, satisfied with its completeness, removed her hands. She stood, T'Pera and Spock rising with her, and addressed the assemblage.

"This is Spock and she-who-is-his-wife, T'Pera. As it was in the dawning of time, so it is now."

In order of precedence, the members of the wedding party approached and offered discreet well-wishings. Kirk and McCoy, pre-warned, were gleeful but restrained. As each person left the bridal couple, they returned to the home of Sarek, where awaited a mild celebration. Soon, Spock and T'Pera were alone within the Place of Challenge.

Alone with her, he suddenly felt awkward and unsure. She took his hand, a small trace of amusement rippling across her mind in the link that rebound them.

"I think it is time we set these doubts to rest, my husband," she said, a warm smile lighting her face.

His throat thickened as, for the first time, he saw her as a woman, not a potential Bondmate. She stood patiently under his scrutiny. His eyes moved slowly over her; the soft, smooth skin of her face, the delicate ears half-hidden amid the dusky coils of her hair, the long, curving throat leading gently into soft, swelling breasts, the tapered waist and slim hips. His physical senses were fully alive to her.

He led her quickly between the towering monoliths to a small stone dwelling hidden in the shadows. This was the Place of Joining, where countless generations of Spock's family had come for the time of the blood fever. The antique wooden doors opened into a simple apartment. The center was dominated by a hooded fire-pit, now casting the only light in the windowless building. The furnishings were sparse; curved benches around the fire-pit, a simple kitchen area, and along the far wall of the room, a deep pile of richly woven pallets. One corner of the lodge was screened off for the primitive bathroom facilities.

As their eyes adjusted to the gloom behind the closed door, she moved to a small cabinet nearby. Spock seated himself on a bench, staring into the flickering fire. He breathed deeply, striving for control and listening to the sound of her movements behind him. She soon returned to his side, offering him a small glass of rich green liquid.

The tart wine slid easily over his tongue as he watched her over the rim of his glass. The flames of the fire echoed on her hair. He reached with his free hand, releasing her hair from its bonds. The hair fell like a sheet of water around her shoulders. He picked up a strand of it, rubbing its silkiness between his fingers and thumb. Then he placed his thumb on her chin, drawing it along the jawline and caressingly around the shape of her ear. Her eyes closed and she shuddered as pleasure surged through her body. Unheeded, his forgotten glass fell as he placed both hands at the base of her skull and gently massaged. His eyes were half-opened, hooded, as he felt passion rising in her.

He rose swiftly, pulling her up with him, her length along his body. He looked deep into her eyes, like molten gold, and gently placed his fingers in the meld position. His thought waves reached key centers of her brain, caressing, manipulating. Her body tingled as invisible fingers seemed to titillate the sensitive areas. Without smelling, her mind was filled with his heavy male odor. The very feel of him crawled through her neural pathways, electric, demanding. Power and ecstasy reverberated between them, like light reflected between two mirrors, ever increasing.

//Now!//

//Agreed.//

They moved around the fire-pit and swiftly undressed. They stood apart a few minutes, frankly examining each other's body. Her form, freed from its confining clothes was silken and supple; her breasts were full and eager. His body was lean, his skin marked with scars. Tentatively, she reached out and touched one thin scar on his chest with the tip of a long finger. Her touch inflamed him and he took her in his arms, savoring the feel of her. His hands ran lightly up and down her back. She slid her hands over his shoulders, locking them behind his head. By common consent, they sank slowly onto the pile of mats.

She was aware of his crushing weight as their mental barriers unfolded to each other. Caught up in the strange richness of his mind, she barely felt the pain as he penetrated her unopened flesh. Between them, images, sounds and smells interflowed in a roaring tempest. Their bodies lay motionless as time and distance passed them; their minds were locked in a cycle of enjoyment and learning, fed by the diversity of themselves.

//They were within a garden, filled with the spices and colors of Spring. Artifacts were scattered among the plants; art that had never been on Vulcan, but were drawn from their collective memories to adorn this special place of theirs. They walked carefree, side by side, enjoying the sights, hearing the music of the birds who lived in their garden. Here were all the bright things of their lives; peaceful days mingled with untarnished hopes, triumphs with victories, joy with love.

In the center of the garden was a scarlet flame, hovering above the grass. Its heat was gentle, lulling them into its heart. Joyfully, they stepped into the flame, letting it carry them higher until it burst into a flower of flame.//

The two still bodies shuddered slightly and then relaxed. The flame in the fire-pit burned lower. Imperceptibly, the two coupled forms tensed up.

//It was a cold, dark place, buried deep in Vulcan's bowels. There was no warming sun; the only light was from the foul-smelling growths on the walls. They walked through the fearsome tunnels, seeking an exit. Noisome beasts with hell-rending cries prowled around, searching for an opening for attack. Sometimes only she would recognize the beast and would cower to the ground, screaming. Then he would hold her, guiding her beyond the beast to relative safety. At time it was his monster; she would hold him as he cried, helping to overcome his fear. These were things that had not been seen for many years, but must now be shared.

At last, a clear, blue light appeared in front of them. They hurried toward it, eager for escape. The light was a flame, cold and harsh, denying them entrance. Together they pushed against its surface until they were in its center. The fire turned from cold to blue liquid flame, pouring down on their bowed heads. They held each other, common support beneath its weight until at last they were swept out of the dark caverns into oblivion.//

The flame in the pit died with a last defiant crackle as tremors racked the motionless couple on the mats. Time again waited until yet another cycle began.

//They stood naked, in a desert neither had ever seen while an unknown sun beat down. As far as the eye could see stretched only gray sand with not even a rock to mar its perfection. The sun never moved as they trudged across the burning waste. If they looked over their shoulder, they could see figures of people ... children yet unborn, co-workers yet un-met, and friends whose images extended to the horizon. There were symbols of places and things, some known and more that were strange. They could not turn back; some unknown force kept them moving forward across an untracked waste. They had no fear of this desert, just a great feeling of curiosity and anticipation.

Suddenly, great dark clouds obliterated the swollen sun. A strong wind flung sand, cutting cruelly at their flesh. But they continued forward, feeling little of the pain. Without lightning, tremendous rolls of thunder crashed around them, moving the air with mighty shoves. Then they were standing before a blinding white flame. The flame moved, engulfing them in its fire. They laughed together in triumph as they watched the desert fury outside the flame. Lightning in long, wide sheets tore through the sky as heavy rain beat into the ground. The storm's rhythm settled into them, raising their minds to climax with the final crash of thunder and lightning.//

Only embers lighted the small room as the final orgasmic convulsion racked the silent couple. At last, their bodies relaxed enough that they fell apart. The blood fever was over. Brief moments passed as they lay shuddering in the aftermath of their Joining. Finally, as their ragged breathing slowed, T'Pera moved closer to Spock, burrowing her head in the hollow of his shoulder. She laid an arm across his chest, snuggling close to his warmth. He held her to him with one arm around her waist, while his other hand brushed her tangled hair back from her damp face.

//There is no doubt now, my wife. I am completed with you because you accept me as I am.//

//Just as you accept me, Spock. I have great joy in your differences as you have in mine.//

She settled down more comfortably, her thoughts fuzzy with weariness.

//But just think of the fascinating children we will have.//

Then she was asleep. Spock smiled down on her, amused at her final thoughts. He could hardly wait to introduce her to McCoy; it promised to be very ... interesting. He fell into a deep natural sleep.

THE END

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