Disclaimer: Star Trek is the property of Paramount/Viacom. This story is the creation and property of L. P. Santos and is copyright (c) 1988 by L. P. Santos. Originally published in Between the Sheets #1. Rated R.

Romulan Execution

L. P. Santos

She sat in the dim light as the guards unceremoniously dropped their captive before her. Dressed in the traditional dark blue jumpsuit of a colony farmer, he casually stood and adjusted the manacles. Hands bound behind his back, he remained safely secured.

Thankfully, he showed no physical signs of the struggle which must have taken place. She took satisfaction in this. Her orders to the guards had clearly stated what would happen to them should any harm come to this man.

She felt a silent amusement over the situation. Once she had been the captive. Now she had him in her control. Ever since she heard the description from the colonist of their prisoner, she had anticipated this moment. The dim-witted colonists had not discovered his true identity. To them he was simply a Vulcan spy who had attempted to infiltrate Romulan space. To her he was the solution to all of her nightmares.

From the connecting room she heard the slight noise as the door opened. With graceful ease her second-in-command -- and lover -- entered. Silhouetted by the corridor light, his darkly clad form took on a foreboding air. He gazed at their new acquisition with a look of pure hatred. Like her, he had longed to see this man again, but for slightly different reasons.

Like her own darkened dreams, he too was plagued by the past: a past which brought forth his warrior instinct of vengeance. Day by day she felt his growing uneasiness and knew that soon he must deal with his memories, just as she too must deal with hers.

When enough time had passed, she rose from her desk and moved into the light. Turning, their silent captive simply raised a brow in greeting. So he did remember, she thought as she crossed her arms and leaned against her desk. With a slight smile she felt that this would be a day to remember.

"Leave us, Tal," she ordered as his eyes suddenly turned to her.

Looking to her, he seemed to search for an answer. He knew, or suspected, what she was about to do. Yet he chose to keep his silence. It was as if he was aware of her turmoil and her need to confront it directly, yet he could not help but be concerned.

"Commander," he said hesitantly as he moved toward her.

"I said leave us. Now."

With reluctance he nodded, then gave a sharp signal to the guards. As each one filed out she felt Tal's concern. Despite the fact that the Vulcan was securely chained, he still feared for her safety. Whether he feared what she would do or what the Vulcan could do, she did not know.

"Commander. The guards shall be stationed outside should you have need of them," he stated as he glanced at the Vulcan.

She watched the Vulcan raise a brow as a look of total innocence crossed his eyes. Smiling, she looked away from Tal as he left the quarters. No, she had nothing to fear from this Vulcan, for he would never harm her.

"So," she said as she turned on the remaining lights and moved behind her desk, "we meet again."

After only a moment of hesitation he nodded as he moved slightly forward.

"It was inevitable," was all he stated as he attempted to adjust the manacles behind his back. She watched in fascination as this simple movement caused his muscles to ripple under the snugly fitting jumpsuit.

"Inevitable, no doubt, for a spy," she answered as she turned her eyes away. Glancing at the neatly kept desk, her eyes fell upon a single holograph. It had been taken during a time when happiness reigned her entire life. That was a time when she had no concerns to distract her, a time when she allowed her womanhood to flourish. It was a part of her life that she had never revealed -- one she hoped to keep secret from others.

At the irrationality of her thoughts she raised her head again. She was a Romulan warrior and a high ranking officer. Such idealistic thoughts had no place in her life.

At his silent gaze she knew that he had witnessed her momentary flaw. For some unknown reason she felt as if he were searching for any hidden weakness. Despite this feeling, she knew that his searching was not meant as a threat. Instead, it seemed as if he were truly concerned for her welfare.

Ignoring this, she sighed as she looked away. She felt fatigued beyond belief. She was tired of the whole game of intrigue. Yet she knew her duty to both her people and her title. Above all else, she was a warrior.

Strength renewed, she turned to her Vulcan captive.

"No doubt you understand the price which Romulus has put on your head. And no doubt you understand that the execution I began years ago will finally be completed." She watched the features of his finely sculptured face as she spoke.

"I understood the price that I would pay if I failed," he answered.

"Yet still you came," she said as she once again moved to stand in front of him. "Why? Why would you risk your life so? Is your loyalty rooted so deeply in the Federation that gives you neither the power nor the respect which you deserve? No..." she quickly corrected herself, lithe power which you have earned."

At his silence she moved closer and reached out to touch him. Suppressing the urge, she hastily pulled away and turned her back to him. How she had longed to touch him. To feel his strength through his embrace would have been more than enough to make her set him free.

Instead she resisted this urge and moved to the far wall. Like a frightened child who cowered in a corner she retreated to her familiar belongings. Hanging from the wall was a simple, almost obscure plaque. Mounted on hand-carved bark from the Aienal tree of Remus, its bronze inlay held two intricate engravings. One was the ancient symbol of her family name. Below that perched the blazon image of a sharp-toothed, winged reptile -- her family crest. If all of her past victories suddenly vanished, she would still have this.

Below the plaque hung the glimmering sword of her family. Shaped on the edge of Vulcan's forge nearly four thousand years ago, it remained as a permanent reminder of where her true blood line ended. Its almost-darkened highlights had been smithed by Sorran, the greatest of Vulcan's swordsmiths. Like the sword, its protective wood scabbard was hand carved by one of Vulcan's most gifted sculptors. Although she knew the price that many would pay for it, she held it dearly for its value to her blood line.

Her great-great-grandfather, Sukte, had been the first to receive the gifts of the sword and scabbard. Taking them into his care, he used them as was expected of Vulcan warriors. Then when the harshness of Vulcan's barbaric times threatened to consume the entire planet, he and a small band of followers fled what they thought was a dying world.

On a far distant planet they had found peace. They had begun a new life with the same warrior code of honor. Although they kept the principles of Vulcan, they had integrated the beliefs of the future. They brought into their culture the beauty of art and the knowledge of science. And they introduced one major aspect to their lives. Instead of many clans to rule over the people, as on Vulcan, they had only one -- one major clan, one major policing force under the rulership of one leader -- the Praetor.

His guidance took them away from the barbaric ways of Vulcan, and directed them toward one purpose: to succeed and survive as a race. They had survived through the many hardships of the land and they had lived through the savage attacks from the Klingons. More importantly, they lived to carry on their warrior code of honor.

Glancing at the black, leather-bound hilt she realized the great significance of its existance. Like their culture, it had been passed down through the generations as a silent reminder of their past and of their honor.

As this thought crossed her mind she felt the confusion rage within her. Once she had been certain of her duty. She knew who she was and what path she was to take. Now she was torn in two. She was divided between being a Romulan commander and being a woman. Although her mind told her to follow the warrior code, her heart beckoned to journey down a different road. Visualizing the fork in that road, she knew that soon she would have to choose which path she was to travel.

With a slight, ironic smile she lightly touched the scabbard's hilt. It had not been meant for her. Had her youngest brother not died, she would never have seen it. But his death left her family without a son to carry the heritage on. So the sword passed to her, the last living member of her family.

Angered by the awesome responsibility, she turned to face the Vulcan. Adjusting his bands, he remained silent as he watched her movements.

"Do you not know that you could have been given all that you deserved, here within the Romulan Empire?"

He did not answer. He simply watched her with his intense the slight quiver of his adam's apple she smiled as she lightly

"You could have the command you deserved, and the wealth," she whispered, "and you could have had me."

He remained silent as his dark, discerning eyes penetrated her soul.

"It is not a command or wealth which I desire, but I truly regret losing the latter."

"You once stated that military secrets were the most fleeting of all. Do you remember what. else you said?"

At the memory of the words he sighed and closed his eyes.

"I stated that I hoped what we had shared together would be more permanent," he said as he looked down at her.

"Was it? Are those few moments of passion still etched in your memory, or have you now forgotten that time?" she asked as she unconsciously ran her fingers through his short black hair.

"Need you ask?" was all he replied as he moved toward her. From somewhere in the distance she heard the rattle of chains as his soft, moist lips met hers. At first his kisses were gentle. Then with a bit more urgency his tongue pressed against her closed lips.

With both arms clinging to him she parted her lips and allowed his gentle exploring. Like two lost lovers their mouths clung together as their tongues united. Pressing her body close to his, she was instantly aware of his finely shaped body.

Pulling away, she glanced up at him as she fought for air. It was still the same. No other man could stir her with just the touch of his lips. And no other man could satisfy her needs like him. As she looked into his dark, secretive eyes she was suddenly reminded of that day long ago.

The remembrance of their hours together brought forth a smile. Brief though it was, they had managed to spend the time wisely. Exploring each other like virgin lovers, their bodies had sought and given pleasure freely. They had not noticed or cared that their allegiances were opposed. All that concerned them was sating their burning lust.

Returning to the present, she leaned against him. He was still the man she remembered -- tall, strong and proud, and he was right in saying what he had said years ago aboard the Enterprise. She would not have respected him had he chosen to turn his back on his Federation and join her. No amount of power or wealth could buy him; that is what made him the man that he was.

"Since you are to be executed, you may be given one last request. What shall it be?" she asked as she turned away from him.

After an eternity of silence he answered, "If you must ask and do not know, then perhaps what I wish for cannot be granted."

Turning to face him, she tried to read his face for any sign of deception but saw only sincerity. He knew that soon he would die and all he longed for was her. Smiling, she retrieved the coded key from her desk.

So, his last dying wish is one I too would have asked from him, she thought as she moved to unfasten the manacles.

* * *

Nestled in his arms, she listened to his quiet breathing. After their long hours of love he now lay in a deep sleep. Nuzzling close against his chest, her fingers unconsciously began to twirl his chest hairs.

Again he had proved himself to her. He was the only one able to satisfy her many times over. From the touch of his hands on her body to his satiny smooth tongue, he had done to her what no other could.

Even if he had not been so skillful with both tongue and hands, she was almost certain that he could make her come simply by thrusting his length into her. And this, she noted, he did with great skill. It seemed that no matter what he did, he managed to arouse her.

She too was a skillful lover. His constant arousal proved that she was no stranger to love.

She noticed that she treated him differently. With every past lover, as with her most recent, Tal, she had chosen to be the aggressor. Only by controlling the movements from a superior position was she able to feel pleasure. But with Spock it was different. She delighted in feeling his full weight bearing down on her. Just to wrap her legs around his slender hips and feel him repeatedly thrust into her caused her to climax time and again.

His very aggression provided her with pleasure. By controlling and manipulating her body into positions she had never dared try, he had managed to satisfy them both. Although Tal was more than willing to experiment with her, he did not have the imagination or aggression she needed in love.

From the outer office she heard the slight noise of Tal entering her quarters. Looking over at the chronometer she noticed with shock that morning had arrived. She moved slowly from the cramped confinement of the small bed to the wall dresser and rummaged for a gown. Dressing in the first thing she found, she turned to the small bed.

Still in a deep sleep, Spock had moved into a fetal position. She marveled at the perfection of his body, the muscular build that was surely the object of lust of all Federation women he encountered.

Pulling the blanket past his shoulders, she uncharacteristically tucked the covers around him, patted his sleek black hair and planted a soft kiss on his forehead. At her touch he mumbled an inaudible word, shivered, then fell back into a deep sleep. Lightly she touched his cheek then moved to join Tal.

Entering her quarters, she moved past her desk to where Tal stood. He remained silent as he noticed her state of dress. She could sense the controlled anger within him. She knew that had the situation been different he would have challenged and killed Spock. But he knew of her feelings toward this man. She would have felt his loss as surely as if it were Tal, so out of his respect for her he kept his rage bridled.

Not only did he respect her wishes, but he was also aware of his title and the responsibility he held. He knew that jealousy was unsightly in a Romulan officer. He also understood that despite her actions with the Vulcan, she would always choose Tal as her lifemate. By accepting her and protecting her, he showed that he was indeed a man worthy to keep a woman of her status.

The satisfaction they found together was not physical, but one of knowing that he accepted her, loved her, for who she was. Unlike others, he expected nothing in return. She was grateful that such a man had chosen to share his life with her.

Moving close to him, she gently ran a palm over his smooth cheek. Taking her hand in his, he laid a single kiss in her palm. Watching him, her heart suddenly ached. He deserved better, a command of his own and a woman who adored only him, but he had chosen to remain with her.

As the torrid feelings of her emotions surfaced she realized what it was she had to do. Only a short while ago her life was in a state of confusion. Now, in this short flicker of time, all became clear to her. What they had planned a year ago must now be implemented. Feeling the resolve within her mind she sighed and gently squeezed his hand.

"The time is now, Tal," her voice cut through the stillness.

He looked up at her as he continued to hold her hand.

"Now, Commander? So soon?" he asked, bewildered.

"Now, Tal. The time will never again be so right. We must move swiftly if we are to succeed."

"But so soon -- perhaps it would be safer to wait."

Noting his hesitancy, she smiled as she clasped his hand firmly.

"It is not necessary for you to be involved. You may leave this cleanly," she said as he studied her features.

"Commander, you know I could not do that. I shall be by your side always. I was merely concerned about the timetable. This may change everything."

Seeing his open concern, she moved closer to him.

"I know, Tal. The timetable is being changed, but if we do not act now we may never be able to again," she said as she stroked his cheek.

He did not reply. Instead he seemed lost within his own thoughts. His expression showed clearly the silent demons he was now confronting. Then, pulling himself from his haunted thoughts, he smiled at her.

"Do not worry, my commander, I shall begin the preparations. By tonight all will be ready and we shall be victorious," he assured her before kissing her cheek, then turned and left.

Victory in their plans was of the utmost importance. There was no room for errors -- they could not fail.

Alone, she hugged herself, then walked into the darkened bedroom. She stripped off her gown, dropped it to the floor, then nudged Spock's sleeping form.

With a slight moan he squeezed his eyes slightly open, then pulled the blanket up in invitation. Stretching out beside him, she snuggled closer into his protective embrace. Despite the cramped conditions, she felt quietly comfortable and knew that sleep would soon overcome her.

Yawning, she settled herself on his arm as the darkness of sleep slowly consumed her.

* * *

Remembering their time together, she smiled. As with the previous times he had been wonderful. There seemed to be no end to his talent for pleasure or for his endless energy. But as with all things, it had to end.

With this thought, she left the warmth of the covers and retreated into the restroom. As she began to dress, her mind wondered over many paths. So much depended on their success. Without it there was nothing -- no reward for the hard labor which she and Tal had endured the past year, and nothing to justify their actions.

They must succeed. Neither the Praetor or the Federation would be allowed to interfere with their plans. Resolve strengthened, she checked her immaculate uniform before leaving the facility.

She watched Spock's silent movements as she entered the outer room. Apparently sensing a change in her mood, he chose to dress of his own accord rather than have her give the order. As he felt her presence, he turned toward her as he zipped up the coverall.

"Is it time?" he asked as he stood facing her.

"Soon," she answered as she looked away. Somehow making him an unwitting pawn did not seem right, yet she and Tal were also pawns -- pawns of a higher force, but pawns nonetheless.

As if on cue the door opened to admit Tal. Still in the morning's uniform, his weary form stood in silence as he held the manacles. Looking from Tal to the chains, Spock tried unsuccessfully to hide his distaste.

"Those are unnecessary," Spock stated grimly. "I will offer no resistance."

"All condemned prisoners are bound so. There can be no exceptions," she stated confidently as she nodded to Tal.

Sensing the change in her, he looked away as Tal clasped the bands securely around his wrists. Once his hands were secured behind his back she turned and left, assured that they would follow.

Walking through the empty corridors, her mind began to race over their plans. Step by step she looked for errors, but could find none. She had done her part, and was confident that Tal had done his.

She turned down a hallway and stopped before a sealed door. Once the proper code was entered, the door opened to reveal the expanse of the shuttle bay. She walked to the most distant shuttle, knowing by the echoing footsteps that Tal and Spock still followed.

Turning, she watched as Tal removed the bonds from Spock's hands. Somewhat bewildered, he rubbed his wrists as a questioning brow rose. Nodding toward Tal, she remained silent until he disappeared into the shuttle.

"We are currently patrolling the outer edges of the Neutral Zone. This shuttle is fueled and provisioned for three months. Leave now, and never return to Romulan space again."

Spock's face was granite. "I do not understand," he said, "am I not to be executed?"

"Your captain once gave me my life," she said. "I am returning the favor." She turned away from him.

"Then you release me without an interrogation. You do not even wonder why I entered. Romulan space." At her silence he moved closer to her side. "Commander, need I point out that your actions are highly illogical? In fact, they could prove detrimental to your safety. You do not know why I was where you found me. Others have seen me here -- why put yourself in such danger for my sake?"

She whirled about to face him. "However amusing you were, I do not grant your freedom because of your prowess in bed. One such as yourself I could obtain anywhere." She took a deep breath, endeavoring to calm her sudden fury.

"There is important cargo aboard that shuttle. I want it delivered to the Federation, to safety."

"The cargo--"

"Is aboard. Leave it at that. When the time is right, you will understand."

"Will I also know if it is a trap?" He looked toward the shuttle. "Perhaps I shall refuse to take it into Federation space."

"You have no choice. We will not execute you. If we must, we will sedate and place you aboard the shuttle and the autopilot will take you there. Do you choose to leave in this fashion?" she asked as Tal exited the craft.

Moving to her side, he gave a curt nod as he glared at the captive.

"Every thing is prepared. The choice of how you leave is up to you," she stated simply.

For a moment of silence both men glared at each other, as if measuring the strength and weakness of the other. Apparently sensing Tal's hidden fury, Spock conceded with a nod. It was evident to the Vulcan that Tal desired to demonstrate his great physical skills on him.

"Very well, Commander," he said, "it seems you leave me no choice."

"No, Commander Spock, it seems I do not," she stated before she signaled Tal to escort him aboard the shuttle.

She watched as the two tall men moved in silence. In amusement she noticed how similar they both were. They could be mistaken for brothers, she thought absent-mindedly.

Spock stood in the hatch of the shuttle and turned his solemn eyes to her. Raising his hand, he parted his slender fingers to render the Vulcan salute.

"Live long and prosper," she heard him say before he turned to the interior.

As Tal began to lock the shuttle door she felt a single tear escape her control and slip down her cheek.

"After today, my Vulcan lover, that will not be possible," she whispered.

* * *

Leaning back in the pilot's seat, Spock gazed into the void of space. Despite the fact that his mission was completed he could not help but feel empty. Perhaps this reaction stemmed from the disastrous results of. the assignment.

He had been sent undercover to monitor the activities of the Praetor. Federation sources had reported that the Praetor had issued a full scale search, but for who or what, they did not know. The irrationality of this action, a movement toward the edge of sanity, had worried the Federation. Spock had been sent to infiltrate the Praetor's household in order to obtain more information. In this task he had failed. He had been discovered on an outlying planet colonized by Romulan farmers. Being taken prisoner by farmers had been more embarrassing than painful. To then be turned over to the Romulan commander from his past had only intensified his shame.

Remembrance of that one night with her sent his thoughts once again to their first time together. Although it had only been a matter of hours, they had managed to share each other fully. This was a practice he did not openly indulge in, but with her, it seemed second nature. Perhaps this was due to the combination of her Vulcan-like beauty and Romulan aggression in bed, he thought as he turned to check the chronometer.

In less than two point one hours he would be rendezvousing with the Enterprise. Then he would have to report in detail his botched mission as well as the valuable cargo he had failed to locate. But he would omit his exploit with the commander. Such things were private, and he saw no military reason for intimate disclosures.

Turning idly in the control seat, he looked around the small craft. Too small to carry even a load of zenite, he wondered what she had meant by valuable cargo. Surely she did not mean the craft itself. Although it would be useful to inspect the craft, it could hardly be considered special. Starfleet had known of the style of craft the Romulans used for years now.

As his mind wandered over the many possibilities, a slight noise was heard from the rear of the craft. Snapping to attention, he moved cautiously toward the sound. As he approached the sleeping cubicle, he spied a small panel welded into the deck. Not having noticed it before, he now saw that it was easily removable. As he cautiously removed the panel, he noticed the hidden space which was dimly lit.

Within the compartment, surrounded by the tubes and machinery of a life support system, was a small Romulan child. By mass and weight, its age was between one and two standard years. The only items with the child were a small toy and a diaper. At his feet sat a burgundy satin bundle and a rolled-up velvet blanket. As he lifted the blanket he was surprised at its weight. Laying it across his lap he began to unwrap the hidden contents. With a slight gasp he unfolded the last piece of cloth. He pulled the heavy black metal from its scabbard. As the weapon sang out its sharpness, he noticed how the simple lighting of the cabin was reflected in the silver-black iron. Admiringly he turned it in his hand and noticed the side inscription. Although it was in the most ancient of Vulcan languages he understood them and knew the true origin of its magnificence.

Written along the side were the markings of Sorran, Vulcan's prime smith who lived before the Prereform era. It had been said that out of the hundreds of swords he created, only three had survived the Great Reform. One had been partially damaged during the struggle and was stored safely. The second was kept in Vulcan's museum of history, fully intact; the third had been lost. Legend had rumored that it was taken away by a pilgrim and lost somewhere within the Romulan Empire. Now he knew that legend was fact.

When he had noticed the commander gazing at the sword, he had no idea of its antiquity. He had assumed that it was merely a family heirloom which all Romulans kept. To now find out that she had within her possession an original Sorran sword would bear closer examination, he thought as he continued to gaze at its beauty.

Replacing it within the carved scabbard, he looked over at the bundle which lay at the child's feet. Carefully laying the ancient sword aside, he retrieved the satin bag and slowly opened it. Although not as grand as the first item, the conítents proved very helpful in establishing the child's identity.

Set within a hand-carved plaque was a simple Romulan inscription. Although he could not decipher its meaning, he felt certain it was a family name, for below the characters was a bronze reptile, obviously the symbol of the family lineage. Along with this finely crafted plaque was a small, cube-shaped crystal.

Fascinated, he held the cube up to the light and was surprised to see shapes forming. Once he realized it was a holograph, he patiently waited until the forms took shape.

Tal was in the full dress uniform of a Romulan officer. In front of him and wearing a familiar gown sat the Commander's smiling form. With a smile such as he had never before seen, she cradled a small infant in her arms.

Looking from the holo to the child he began to see the resemblance. He recognized her delicately shaped eyes and firm chin. There were no features that could be attributed to Tal, but there were other familiarities, although he could not as yet identify them.

The computer behind him beeped. "Spock," her voice called out.

"By now you have found the cargo, and perhaps understand its value. This child is my son. He is one point three standard years of age. His existence has always been a secret, but as he ages this becomes increasingly difficult." Her voice sounded weary. "On my home planet, his life would be one of constant sorrow, for his blood is not fully Romulan. Among us, this alone would be cause for death. Were he to be examined they would find traces of Human characteristics. His life would be forfeit in the laboratories. I would not allow this, not for my child."

At her words he looked down at the still, small form.

"You stated once," she said, "that you hoped that we had exchanged something more permanent. Your hopes were predicated, Spock. This child is mine, mine and yours." In time with her words, the life support equipment began to revive the child, arid he began to wake from his artificial sleep.

"It is my hope, Spock, that you will care for this child, raise him as I am unable to. Tal and I have claimed him as ours, but the first time he is brought under a medical scanner, this lie would be discovered. It was our decision to send him to his father, into the Federation. With you he will have the best chance for life, for a future unblemished by prejudice. All that I leave to him are the few relics of my family. They have been passed through my family since the first pilgrimage. It is my hope that he learns to cherish and respect them as I have."

The voice paused and the child opened his eyes.

''Fear not, Spock, that another child of yours will be born into a hunted or tortured life in the Romulan Empire. By the time this message reaches you, I shall be dead. Tal and I have made this choice freely. There was no other way for us to keep our honor within the warrior code."

Spock felt a profound respect for this woman and for Tal, who had given all out of loyalty to his commander, out of love. The tape was not finished. "I am reminded of a Terran poem. I discovered it during my month aboard the Enterprise.

"Because I could not stop for Death,

He kindly stopped for me."

"I can not remember the rest, but for some reason these lines stand clearly in my mind. Perhaps it is due to the fact that even now I do not feel prepared for death. But I know that this is the only solution. With Tal's strength to carry me through, I shall endure, and I shall remember this poem as I am carried into death."

Looking from the screen she seemed to momentarily lose control. Then in a feat worthy of admiration from any Vulcan she masked her fears and turned back to the screen.

"My son carries Terran blood, and I have come to appreciate the finer qualities of this race. I pray that he will learn to respect his Romulan heritage as well. Perhaps in his time there will be fewer differences between our two nations. It is merely a dream I have. All beings have a right to such dreams." Her breath caught in a sob. "Take care of my son, Spock. His is the only one I have and all that I leave to the future."

The tears now flowed freely down her cheeks.

He then heard the tiny tone that indicated that the tape had played to its end. As the sounds of the shuttle filled his ears he closed his eyes. Kneeling by the cubicle he allowed the sorrow to wash through him, then he looked at the tiny boy.

Blinking from the bright lights, the child stretched as his eyes opened fully. As he became aware of the strange surroundings, his small features bunched into a frown as tears welled into his eyes. After swallowing, he began to cry in earnest.

Spock carefully picked up the small boy and placed the stuffed animal in his grasping hands. Moving slowly, he carried the child to the pilot's seat. He held the boy in his lap and hugged him gently as he brushed his soft black hair. Realizing that no harm would come to him, the child began to look around curiously as he sobbed more softly.

Looking out at the black void of space he gently rocked the small body.

"Because I could not stop for Death,

He kindly stopped for me;

The carriage held but just ourselves

And Immortality,"*

he said out loud.

* * *

Lying under him, she felt the beaded moisture roll down his back. It seemed fitting that their last moments together be spent like this. At least in this manner there would be no pain. All they would feel would be one intensive orgasm before the poison took effect and pulled them into death.

All that was needed to trigger the poison which they had already introduced into their system was a rapid heart rate and an increase in body temperature. At the rate that they were going she knew that it would be soon. The only thing she regretted was not being able to see the faces of the centurions when they found their commander and subcommander dead, permanently locked together in love.

How she wished to see the expression on her father's face when they told him that his only child and heir was dead, her living son still missing. For a Praetor the last missing heir was a curse beyond description, for at any time the child could return to make a claim to the title. This more than anything would drive her father, the Praetor, mad. And there was nothing he could do.

He had tried to secure his title by sending each of his children into the military, into dangerous occupations and sectors. All of his sons had been killed honorably and she was the only child left. She had outwitted every challenge, proving her strength.

Her father's spies must have discovered the child and passed the information on to him. The search had begun, causing talk and speculation throughout the Romulan Empire. He had never suspected that the child might be aboard her fighter ship.

Tal had given everything for her, she realized. He refused a commission and had backed her rise in the military with his loyalty. Despite her fling with Spock, he had remained with her, and when she told him that she carried the child of another, he chose to think of it as hers alone. Although he had known who the father was, he never said a word. Instead, he accepted the child as his own.

His presence at the birth gave him this right, she realized. He had been there, he had held her and helped her when the pain was overwhelming, and it was his hands that caught the child as it dropped from her, his hands that severed the cord of life and helped the infant to breathe.

They had both known the dangers of this child's existence. The fact that it was the child of her body would encourage her father to destroy it. Had the identity of the father been known, it would have cost all their lives. The child would have lived, for a time, in a laboratory.

She had seen such places, she and Tal. Places where half-breed Romulan children were kept, mewling creatures who had been reduced to pitiful sights by the inhumane experiments of the scientists under her father's command. She and Tal had vowed that this would never happen to their child. The child would die at her hand first. But they had managed to avoid this and kept him a secret, until Spock had fallen into her hands and the contingency plan had been feasible.

The colonists had befallen an unfortunate accident, and all of those who had seen Spock were dead, as were any of the crew who had laid eyes on him on board her ship. No one could now testify to his presence, no one was left to suspect that the child had gone to the Federation.

She thought of her gifts and wondered briefly if her son would understand their true meaning. More importantly, could he find within them the answers to his many questions as she had been able to. It was for this reason that she gave them to him. She had no other possessions which would explain to him who his Romulan people were. At least within the Federation he would have a part of her with him.

The sword and scabbard would show to him the perfect dichotomy of the beauty and cruelty of her people. The bronze family crest would show that he was of noble blood line, the first to colonize and set up the structure of the Empire. Although the holograph taken a week after his birth held no significance, she had agreed with Tal and included it with the other items. Someday he might wish to see the beauty of his mother. Tal had argued, but she hoped that instead of her he saw the image of a man who, for a short time, was his father. Tal had risked his very life for the child, and had later surrendered it. He was an honored warrior who had given much for the future of their son, and their people. Someday her son would know this and understand that the price for Romulan honor is high.

With this thought she wrapped her legs more tightly about Tal, responded more violently to the pressures of his body. He was not Spock, but he had brought her pleasure, and more of that than many of her people ever discovered.

Tal groaned, gave one hard thrust, and stiffened as he reached his climax. He went suddenly limp, collapsed against her as her own body stiffened with pleasure and her climax took over.

The sensations overwhelmed her and she felt a heat coursing through her veins, consuming her body and her being. It seared her heart and pulled her into a darkness she would never leave. Her last sensation was the recognition of Tal's weight on hers and the thought swept through her that perhaps he had fallen asleep, was not dead, and they would soon wake from this nightmare. But it was death, an eternity of sleep, she and Tal existed forever, as closely as two people can be.

Darkness reigned.

THE END

*Emily Dickinson, "The Chariot", 1890.