Legalese, etc.  Copyright 2006 Mistress V, permission to archive at Trektales, all others just ask.  No, I do NOT own the copyright (who are we kidding? I'd be a kazillionaire by now) but I am playing with the characters.  I cannot guarantee how they will play with each other.  Tips of the hat to SterJulie for instilling the sports bug in me yet again, and Cheree for her "Can of Spam" which I borrowed a little from in idea only, and to whomever came up with the idea of a flitter.


Loose Ends

Mistress V


Wednesday 08:00 Vulcan


Amanda opened the holomessage from Christine.  She clucked in delight over the holoimage of her proposed bridal gown, recognizing it immediately from a favorite Bond film, one that she, Spock and Sarek had watched many times over the years.

The fabric image would help the horticulturalists at the House of Tu'vok choose the appropriate orchids for her bouquet and that of her bridesmaid.  And now she had just the thing to lend her future daughter in law.  It would look absolutely perfect on the gown's shoulder.

She scrolled through the rest of the message, frowning slightly.  It was quite apparent that Christine thought Vulcan was in a time warp that had sent it back to the Terran Dark Ages.  This visit would be an enlightening one for her, and for her son, Amanda thought.  She began the reply holo.

"Dear Christine,

“The dress is simply divine, and I remember it from 'You Only Live Twice.'  You will be a beautiful bride.  Please do not worry about it being sleeveless, Vulcan bridal fashion has embraced that style for many years, it being logical in this heat.  I shall send the fabric images to the horticulturalists so they can select your flowers.  As for the question of shoes, the most popular style in Vulcan at the moment seems to be these," she paused to hold up a pair of pastel, kitten-heeled mules, elaborately embroidered and sequined.  "They translate into 'Ferengi Slippers' and that's what they are.  Some Ferengi traders brought a few hundred pairs early this year and they have fast become the logical female footwear choice for just about any occasion.  The shoe factories here on Vulcan have been making them in every style and color.  If you can find some in your travels, get a pair to match your dress, or else we can go shopping at the bazaar.  They're extremely comfortable.  And yes, nice sandals are entirely appropriate to wear in Shi-Kahr, many Vulcan women do.  I'll discuss what to wear to the welcome party once you get here.

“Spock told me about the limes, and I agree, they will be a wonderful gift for all the women you'll meet.  I'd say bring about 100 or so, so everyone can take two, and your idea of putting them in a pretty basket is just perfect.

“You may do yoga in the back patio any time you'd like, there is no worry about that.  Sports clothing is not unknown on Vulcan.  I might join you, I practiced it for many years in San Francisco, and it's good for my old bones.

“Sarek and I are looking forward to your visit and, of course, to both of your wedding ceremonies ... and to welcoming you into our family.  I am so happy you and our son are bonding, Christine, and believe me, Sarek is too.  So we'll see you in just over a week!

“PS Spock mentioned you were quite pleased with your alma mater's victory in the TCAA championship a few weeks ago.  Has your voice recovered yet?"

* * *


Friday 09:00 Sickbay


Christine scrolled through the message from Amanda and breathed a sigh of relief.  Her dress had passed muster, so she was not breaking any kind of cultural taboo.  Amanda would have told her.  And now she knew what to look for in shoes.  She duped off a picture of the slippers and headed to the spa.

* * *




The Enterprise entered standard orbit around Starbase 6.  It was scheduled for six full days of refit and reprogramming.  The crew was looking forward to shore leave -- and to decent food on their return.  The number one request to Starfleet maintenance had been to reprogram the replicators, which, according to McCoy, had been producing "tasteless junk" that was beginning to affect crew morale.  In other words, the crew was drinking, rather than eating.

The shuttles docked and began offloading supplies and crew mail.  The atmosphere onboard was one of relaxed anticipation.  From here, the ship was headed to Vulcan for the wedding of Commander Spock and Dr. Chapel, and a planetside celebration for any crewmembers who wished to attend was being planned.  The ship would spend a full week in orbit, as the opening of the new InterGalactic Winter Sports Center, presided over by Vulcan's favorite son, Stark, was happening right after the nuptials.  Everyone was looking forward to having a great time on Vulcan, and it did not even seem like a contradiction in terms.

* * *


Noon Spa


Kala was finishing up a holomail to the wife of Worf, K'a'tya, grateful that the computer translated the languages for both of them.  Despite growing up with a Klingon father, her command of the language was rusty at best, something she hoped would improve once she met the visitors.

"And your red gown is most appropriate for both ceremonies, it is beautiful.  Your gold necklace and bracelets would also be fine.  As for footwear, I have been told that the 'Ferengi Slipper' is the most popular shoe on Vulcan, and I enclose an image for you.  You may buy these in the bazaar in Shi-Kahr, or perhaps the Ferengi traders have also visited your sector of the galaxy, as it seems these shoes are the most sought after item of apparel from Qo'noS to Mars and beyond.

“The weather on Vulcan is very warm, I have been told.  I shall see you the evening before the ceremony, when we dine at the home of Ambassador Sarek and his wife.  This is a casual event.  The traditional garment of ShaL'war Kh'ammeZ will be appropriate.  We are all looking forward to trying Mogh's famous pizza!

“Do give my regards to Worf, Mogh and the baby.  We will see you very soon! Have a safe journey to Vulcan."

The message sent, she headed to the supply deck to oversee the delivery of the spa's supplies and the wedding dress fabrics for her, Christine and Nyota.

* * *


15:00 Qo'noS


Mogh and Worf surveyed the growing seedlings.

"Will they be ready by the time we leave for Vulcan, father?" Mogh asked.

"Yes, my son, you have done an excellent job growing them.  I am certain they will be most appreciated."

Mogh turned and faced his father.  "I have read that we shall be on Vulcan at the same time as the new winter sport facility opens in Shi-Kahr."

"Is that so?" Worf feigned astonishment.

They eyed each other warily for a moment.  Then both burst out laughing.  "I promised your mother not to say anything," Worf admitted, "lest you got so excited you would neither sleep, eat nor study before we left for Vulcan.  Yes, we shall be there, and as scientific guests of Ambassador Kl'o'rox, we shall tour the facility and attend many festive events."

Mogh could barely contain his glee.

"But on your oath as a man, you must promise you shall say nothing of this knowledge to your mother.  It is to be our secret.  You must study, eat and sleep as normal.  If you do not, she shall surely discover you are party to this information..."  He shook his head.  "And that is an event neither of us would wish to have transpire, trust me."

"I promise, Father," Mogh said stoutly.

The inner door to the greenhouse opened.  "Greetings, L'Kor," Mogh said to his friend.

"Greetings.  Are you ready to sandboard?" L'Kor asked, nodding at Worf.

"I am."

"Is it true you are journeying to Vulcan?  Are they not our enemy?  Are we not at war with them?" L'Kor looked perplexed.

Mogh considered his words.  "We are not at war with Vulcan are we, Father?"

"The Organian treaty between the Federation and the Empire stands still," Worf said.  "Shakily, perhaps, but no, we are not officially at war, nor is Vulcan our sworn enemy."

L'Kor reflected on this.  "But they were our enemy?  My father has so told me."

Mogh himself attempted a diplomatic solution.  "They were, yes, and who knows what they will be in the future?  For now, it is as my father says, so let us not speculate on what may or may not happen.  I promise, I shall tell you of my ... adventures there," Mogh finished with a secret glance of trust at his father.

Worf watched them depart.  His son had the makings of a diplomat, he realized, but his friends were leaning to the way of the defense corps.  K'a'tya's uncle, who served a member of the High Council that dealt with agriscience, had said great things were in store for Worf, his niece and the family, but Worf wondered what those things might be.  The future seemed far away.  For now, he was content to be a scientist...and to visit Vulcan for the Oath of his colleague.  Of course, some snowboarding wouldn't be a bad thing, either.

* * *


16:00 Spock's quarters


Spock and Christine were finishing a late lunch.  Well, it had ended with lunch...

Christine and her friends were headed to the planet's surface to go shopping at its huge indoor marketplace and mall.  Spock, Kirk and McCoy had also planned to beam down, but for different reasons, as Spock had asked them to help him select a wedding present for his fiancee.  It might turn out to be a late evening, so it had seemed logical to, er, indulge early, especially since Christine's dress fitting would take up much of the weekend.  Plus there was the packing up of both of their quarters to attend to, now that they had given approval to the joint quarters site Scotty had found for them.  And several thousand other things.

"You are certain I cannot give my opinion of the dress?" he asked as his hand traced the contour of one breast.  "After all, how can I undress you properly after the ceremony if the dress has been made to contraindicate this?"

"Nice try, brownie boy," Christine replied, enjoying the flush that spread to his eartips.  They had finished the last of the latest batch of brownies that very afternoon.  "But no dice, you know the groom cannot see the bride in her dress before the ceremony."

"I have seen you in much, much less than that," Spock remarked drily.  "So I hardly think it would make a difference."

"Humor me," she said with a smile as she slid her hands around his neck.

"I intend to do more than that."

* * *


18:00 Sickbay


Spock and Kirk were waiting for McCoy to finish the last of a long-overdue report to Starfleet.  All three were looking forward to an evening on the planet's surface.  The shops and entertainment facilities were open 24/7, this being a busy spaceport.

"So, has Chris' voice come back?" Kirk asked the Vulcan.  After the TCAA win by UCLA, Christine had been resigned to an undignified croak for a few days, rather than her usual tone, but she had not minded.

"Yes, Jim, she shall be able to recite her vows adequately," Spock said.

"I had no idea she was such a sports fanatic.  She outyelled most of the ship!"

"Trust me, Jim, when I say she can be ... opinionated at times." Spock raised one side of his mouth, his eyes full of humor.

"I seem to recall a similar discussion with your parents, Spock, about your mother.  Looks like you are your father's son, my friend."

Spock very nearly smiled a full smile.  "Why thank you Jim.  Yes, marrying Christine also seems quite the logical thing to do."

"What seems the logical thing to do, Spock?" McCoy asked as he entered his office.

Spock and Kirk exchanged a glance.  "I was just telling Jim that asking you to be my best man seemed the logical thing to do, Doctor."

"What?  Spock, what have you been drinking?  ME?  Your best man?" McCoy's eyes registered downright shock.

"Who else would you suggest, Doctor?  Jim will marry Christine and myself, but had it not been for your medical attention all these years, primitive though it has been at times, I would likely not be present at the ceremony."  Spock gave the CMO a level look, but it was clear he held him in very high regard.

"I -- I'm honored, Spock.  Of course, I'd be glad to.  Who will give Chris away?"

"Dr. M'Benga will be pleased to do so.  And Engineer Scott has assured us that the doors to the chapel will be manually enabled to be opened with door handles.  He and Lt. Dillon are working on this at present.  He states it is an old Terran tradition that the doors be opened exactly when the bride enters.  Is this so?"

"Yes, that's how it's done," Kirk remarked, recalling the numbers of weddings he had performed over the years onboard.  The whooshing noise the doors made somehow detracted from the bride's entrance.  Leave it to Scotty to come up with an alternative.  "Trust me, it's a sight you'll remember for the rest of your life."

"Well, gents, shall we head to the transporter room?  Lots to see, lots to do," McCoy said with his customary toe bounce.  "I don't suppose we can give you a bachelor party, eh, Spock?"

Spock got back into character.  "Certainly not, doctor."

"He doesn't need one, Bones, trust me," Kirk whispered to his friend as they headed for the turbolift.

Spock pretended not to hear, but he was smiling inside.  From what he had read of the custom, no, he certainly did not need one.

* * *


20:00 Starbase marketplace and mall


Christine, Kala and Nyota surveyed the massive indoor bazaar.  Vendors from all over the quadrant, and many from beyond, were busy hawking every kind of merchandise imaginable.

"Now where can we find Ferengi slippers?'" Christine said, almost to herself.  Immediately, a dozen merchants began shouting in their general direction.

"Ferengi slippers in all sizes and styles, right this way!"

"The finest from Ferenginar in ladies' footwear, you'll see!"

"Every size, fabric, bauble and color in the known universe and then some!"

"Something really different!  Underground ladies' shoes, direct from Romulus!"

The friends looked at each other.

"Into the fray, ladies," Kala said, throwing her shoulders back.  "Let's see how they stand up a Celeban's bargaining style!"  She had had plenty of practice growing up on Celeba Colony.  Now was the time to use it.

* * *


21:00 Bijoux's Baubles


"So, Jim, Christine will not be deemed out of uniform in these?" Spock asked, indicating the diamond, sapphire and tanzanite earrings he was deciding on.

"No, Spock, Starfleet Regulations don't specify the kind of earrings an officer can wear with her dress uniform, so long as they are not of the unduly long drop variety or hazardous to duty."  He and McCoy looked at the pair Spock was drawn to.

"Those are beautiful, Spock.  Will they match her dress as well?" McCoy asked, eying Bijoux, the Orion owner of the boutique, with an appreciative glance.

Spock pulled a swatch of cloth out of his wallet and placed an earring on the fabric.  The color match was indeed perfect.  He had procured the swatch secretly from Kala earlier that afternoon.

"These, then, I believe." He handed his purchase and credit card to the clerk.

"Well, now that's out of the way, what about dinner? My treat!" Kirk invited.

* * *


22:00 The Promenade


Christine stopped and looked in the window of Tel's Sports Bar ("You play it?  We'll drink to it!").  Her eyes glazed over as she beheld the display.

"I won't be a minute," she told her friends as she darted inside.

"She'll be more than a minute," Nyota said to Kala as they sat down on a bench and piled their packages around them.  They'd bought several pairs of the novelty shoes, loose, colorful, warm-weather gauzy trouser suits for wearing outdoors on Vulcan, cheap trendy sunglasses, silly underwear, discount fragrances, and loads of candles.  Christine had also bought several locally-handwoven baskets to put the limes in.  "So what are you wearing to the weddings?"

"I'm making a plain silk dupion sheath, in a pale grey-green.  But I was wondering, could I wear my father's house ceremonial sash over it without causing an intergalactic incident?" Kala asked.  "I know Worf and K'a'tya will wear theirs, Mogh too probably.  And I'm half-Klingon, even if I'm a Terran citizen...  Maybe I should evid the Captain?"

Nyota looked over Kala's shoulder.  "Why not ask him yourself?  Here he comes!" She waved over at the three casually-attired officers.  "Yoo hoo, boys, what brings you here tonight?"

* * *


Christine reverently picked up the cap which read "UCLA: TCAA CHAMPS!"  On the back it said "Today Terra, Tomorrow, the Galaxy?" which was a reference to the upcoming InterGalactic Summer Sports Fest in two year's time.

"How much?" she asked the Andorian owner.  She looked at his hand, which bore a UCLA ring similar to hers.  "Are you an alum too?"

He grinned back at her.  "You bet.  For a fellow Bruin, 40 credits, and that includes the commemorative t-shirt as well."  He turned to the patrons at the bar.  "Hey everyone, we got another alum here!  Let's do it!"

Then, apparently to no one's astonishment but Christine's, he leaped onto the bar.  Claps sounded in rhythm and the owner started the ancient war cry, which Christine and everyone else quickly joined.

"Icky la boom ba Icky la picky wicky Affah la daffah waffah Ooooohhhhh gett-cha aaaaaah! ICKY LA BOOM BAAAA......"

* * *


"What in god's teeth is that?  A battle chant?" McCoy asked, trying to discern which bar, of the many in the area, the sounds were emanating from.

"It's some kind of sports cheer, I bet," Kirk replied.  He had just assured Kala that the wearing of her house Baldric would be fine, and she was beaming.  "Hey Spock, isn't that Chris in there?"  He pointed to the sports bar.

There, in the middle of the frey, Christine was shouting along with a seething mass of UCLA alums and various other regulars, as the Gorn bartenders tossed beers with each other, a la Cocktail.

Spock already had identified her voice.  "It would appear she has found some fellow alumni," he agreed, enjoying the show as much as everyone else.

* * *



U----C----L----A----UCLA fight fight fight!"

The cheer over, Christine put her newly purchased hat on her head, bade goodbye to her fellow Bruins and walked out into the mall.  Her heart almost stopped when she saw who was waiting for her.

"Captain ... Len ... Spock ... what a nice ... surprise!" she said lamely.

"Hey Chris, that was quite a show you all put on in there.  I don't know, guys, would an Academy crowd make that much noise?" Kirk said with a smile.

"Hell no, when's the last time they won anything except a chess championship?" McCoy replied.  "Good on you, Chris, nice to see alumni spirit.  Ah'm an Ole Miss man maahself."

"I'm sorry, Captain, if I was acting in a conduct unbecoming to an officer," Christine mumbled, certain her face had turned the shade of crimson favored by UCLA's arch rival.

"I do not believe I see any on-duty Starfleet officers in the vicinity, Jim, do you?" Spock asked, an amused tone to his voice.  "So how could someone not even here be deemed to have behaved in such a manner?"

"Why no, Spock, not a uniform among us.  Well, Chris, I don't know what you're on about.  How about we take you ladies to dinner?  I won't take no for an answer!" Kirk's eyes twinkled with good-natured mischief.

"We'd be delighted." Christine breathed a sigh of relief.

"Did you buy out the entire mall?" McCoy asked, taking in the vast assortment of packages.

"Just about," Kala said.  "But if not, we can always come back tomorrow!"

"Or the next day," Nyota giggled.

They headed off to dinner.

*Thank you.*

*For what, T'hyla?*

*For not being angry with my juvenile behavior.*

*Anger is illogical, and besides, I happen to have fallen in love with the entire woman you are, opinions, emotions and all.*

Suddenly a very detailed vision of what Spock had in mind for later in the evening filled her mind.

*No WAY, not unless you show me yours!!!  What kind of girl do you think I am?*


* * *


00:00 Spock's Quarters


Christine regarded herself in the bathroom mirror.  The t-shirt fit very well, leaving plenty to the imagination but still being sexy as hell.  What was Spock up to, she wondered? She gave her hair a final 'come hither' tousle and opened the door.

Spock, clad only in his vintage Academy hockey jersey, was idly reclining on his bed, stomach down, giving her a delicious view of his naked posterior.  His eyes were like lit dilithium crystals.

So this was his "Academy fantasy."  She launched herself onto the mattress, a smile on her face -- and on his.

* * *


Saturday 11:00 Arboretum


"The plan then is to harvest the limes a week from today, wash them, place them in the baskets Dr. Chapel has provided, then pack them for transport."

"Affirmative, Mr. Spock," Ensign Pauulu said, making notes in his PADD.

"I would also like to take some other vegetables, I shall send you my requirements later this afternoon."

"Yes, sir."

"And I will need an empty coconut shell, halved and cleaned, do you think you can provide me one by next Saturday as well?"

"Certainly, sir ... if I can have the coconut meat?" Pauulu asked hopefully.

"Of course, Mr. Pauulu.  Enjoy it," Spock replied as he ran through his PADD one more time, chuckling inwardly when he recalled how coconuts had helped win the love of his life.

"Anything else, sir?"

Spock turned to the ensign.  "Yes, Mr. Pauulu.  The morning of our Federation ceremony, I shall be unable to adequately see to my special guests as I shall be...otherwise engaged.  You have already met Worf, from Qo'noS, as you recall."

Pauulu nodded, recalling the engaging conversations they had with the earnest agriscientist after his stay on Ceres.

"He and his wife and son shall be arriving on the Enterprise before the ceremony and I would be grateful if you could look after them before and after the festivities, then deliver them safely to my parent's house for our bonding ceremony that afternoon.  I gather Worf's wife will be spending time in the spa with the other women, but Worf and his son would very much appreciate a tour of the hydroponic bays and the arboretum.  So I am hoping you can accommodate them?"

"Yes SIR!" Pauulu realized what an honor Spock had just bestowed upon him.  "It would be my pleasure.  And Mr. Spock?"

"Yes, Mr. Pauulu?"

"I-I-m glad now that I dropped the coconuts, even if it was a careless accident on my part."

Spock regarded the ensign with the corner of his mouth turned up a fraction.  "Indeed, Mr. Pauulu, so am I, illogical as that may seem.  Now, let us see to the avocados, shall we?"

* * *


15:00 Kala's Quarters


"OK, here we go," Kala said as she zipped up the muslin model of Christine's dress.  "What do you think?"

Christine stared at herself.  Even though the dress she wore was made of simple muslin, it graced her just as it had Akiko Wakabayashi's character all those centuries ago.  She slipped on the shoes she'd just bought so Kala could mark the hem.

"It's beautiful, Kala, I don't know what else to say." Christine's voice was close to breaking, but she was happy.

Kala draped a chiffon scarf around her head and dropped it back along both shoulders, just as in the movie.  "Well, Ny?  Does she make a gorgeous bride or what?"

Nyota looked up from the basket she was trimming with matching ribbons.  She sprang up and ran over to the mirror.  The two women embraced the bride to be, who was by now crying.

"Spock would say this is totally illogical," Christine blubbered as she held her friends tightly.

"Spock's not here, and even if he was, I don't think he would somehow," Kala said.

"Me either," Nyota agreed.  "Honey, you look gorgeous, and this is just the muslin!  Kala, you're a genius!" Nyota had earlier found her bridesmaid's version to be just as stunning a creation.

Kala blushed.  "Thanks, guys.  Now let's mop up these tears and I'll send the final fitting notations to the computer so the fabric can be cut.  I should have the first fittings ready by Monday night at the latest." She walked over to her kitchen area and rummaged around, then returned with a bottle of champagne, glasses and some chocolate covered strawberries.  "Since we never got to have a hen night, let's have a little bit of a hen afternoon, ok? "

"I'll drink to that," Christine replied.

"Me too," Nyota agreed.

* * *


Sunday 09:00 Vulcan


Stark sat up in his bedroom and looked out the window of his Great Aunt and Uncle's suburban Shi-Kahr home.  He had spent every summer of his life here on Vulcan and knew the view quite well.  Despite living in -- and loving -- the snowy weather of the Lake Tahoe area on Terra, he still enjoyed returning to the planet of his mother's birth.

Fortunately for him, Ambassador Sarek had arranged for his transport to the planet as unobtrusively as possible.  Stark's life had been a constant roller coaster ride since he had won the snowboard gold.  Sponsorship deals, commercial endorsements, the never-ending media circus, intergalactic travel -- it never ended.  But he had been determined to bring his love of winter sport to the youth of Vulcan as a way of giving back to his heritage, as illogical as many had said that concept appeared to be.  Stark had his reasons for holding that sport was a logical way to relieve stress, but the population of the planet was divided on the issue.  He had discussed this with Ambassador Sarek many times via holo and firmly believed in the success of his dreams.

True, he thought, his wild behavior at the Polaris Games had not helped some form a good opinion of him, but despite having completed his khas-wan years ago, he had opted to embrace the heritage of both his parents equally.  And that meant he might be a little outrageous now and then.  He figured this concept would become more common, as many from his parent's generation, as well as his own, were marrying offworlders.

Ahh.  T'Lara.  The ice sailor he had danced with at the athlete's village.  They were still 'keeping company' as she put it, which was easy given the fact she was studying viticulture at UC Davis.  Her family was a respected wine-making clan outside Shi-Kahr.  She had not yet formally accepted his proposal, though, feeling her parents should meet Stark first.  The thought of that meeting filled the gold medalist with more fear than the iciest halfpipe he had ever conquered, but he felt he was up for the task.  Of course, T'Lara had not been pleased that Stark had escorted Ahh-Morr to the Iggy show, but once the truth came out about the Deltan actress' quick departure with Romo, and Stark's desperate escape from the lecherous Mr. Telal, she had relented and had even uttered a sound resembling a giggle.

A much more familiar sound interrupted his reminiscing.  Stark grunted as he reached for his vidphone.  There had been 20 calls since the night before, and this was his private line.  "Play messages," he said.

"Hi Stark, it's your Dad.  Mom and I will arrive at Vulcan the Sunday afternoon before your facility opens.  We're bringing plenty of M&M's, though your mother doesn't quite believe your claim that the ones on Vulcan taste different, since they're all made in the plant on Mars.  Anyway, son, see you soon, we're proud of you!"

"Greetings, Stark, it is T'Lara.  I trust you are enjoying the peace and quiet of your relative's estate and that your Ezyet is giving you plenty of the homemade Vulcan food you like so much.  I shall see you soon, my parents and I leave Terra on the morrow.  I -- find it a bit illogical to say so, but the absence of your presence does disturb me on occasion."

"Yo Starkers, check your vidmail.  I've just holoed three contracts that we've negotiated for new sponsorship deals, and a draft of the press conference statement on your winter sport scholarship program.  It'd be ultra cosmic if you could pick some budding athletes from somewhere that's never had winter sports.  Maybe Fuega, or Krakos.  By the way, the line of Vulcan Heat t-shirts has sold out of its third run, we need to come up with a new design.  Why not ask someone at that museum of antiquities you talk about to give you some suggestions?  Call me later, lots to discuss."

"Stark, this is Ambassador Sarek.  Greetings to you and your relations.  I trust you are recovering from the journey, which I know to be a tedious one.  When you have rested, please contact my office so we may go over the activities planned for your facility opening.  I look forward to meeting with you."

"Greetings, Master Stark.  My name is T'Amo and I represent some of the finest young women from the most prestigious clan houses in the Shi-Kahr district and I would ..."

"Cut and save," Stark said, his eyes closing in defeat.  "Next!"

"Master Stark, my name is T'Mor and I am a marriage broker from the inland regions.  We have many fine clans here, long and richly historied, with beautiful and logical choices for a bondmate for such an esteemed man as yourself..."

"Cut and save!" Stark barked at the phone.  "NEXT!"

"Hi Starkie, my name is Geenee and I'm from Orion but I grew up on Delta and I think you're cute..."

"CUT AND DELETE!" Stark groaned and rolled over, putting a pillow on his head as he listened to the remaining messages, all of which were from marriage brokers, prospective mothers in law or prospective rolls in the hay, both male and female.

By the time he had finished listening, he was in a decidedly foul mood, even for someone half-Deltan.  Why in the galaxy did everyone think he was the perfectly suited husband for their daughter?  Because he had won a gold medal?  Because he was rich?  Famous? Because – he – was -- cute?  It made no sense.  None of these people had the remotest idea of who or what he was.

He and T'Lara had thought about getting married ("joined" in the Deltan culture) at some point, but they both had university degrees to complete and a future to plan, and Stark had no intention of retiring before the next games.  And he certainly had no thought of giving up half of who he was to please the other half.  He wondered who he could talk to about this.  Both his relatives were busy Science Academy lecturers, so that was pointless.  His mother had told him to follow his logic, as had his father, which basically meant they gave his blessing to whatever he decided to do.  But Stark wanted some guidance.  He just didn't know who would be able to give it to him.

A hike in the mountains would be just the thing to clear his brain.  Fortunately, the Ambassador had given him some adept-styled hooded robes.  With one of these and a pair of Vulcan-made sunglasses (which many of the populace now wore) he would be free to roam the trails outside Shi-Kahr.  No one would bother a holy one deep in contemplation.  Of course, the blonde and red streaks in his hair had to be covered by the hood, but it was a small price to pay for solitude.  He got up and had a quick shower, dressed, then grabbed some supplies and headed out to the flitter the Ambassador's staff had provided for him.

It was going to be a beautiful day.

* * *


Monday 08:30 Starchild's Coffee Cafe, Shi-Kahr Diplomatic Compound


"Greetings, K'e'flex," the junior Vulcan diplomatic officer said to his Klingon counterpart.  He spoke to the Saurian waitress.  "One Vulcan mocha, extra chocolate, for me, and a triple espresso for my associate here.  He requires it most urgently."

"Greetings, Selak," K'e'flex replied in a half-grunt.

"You look like you did battle with Fek'lhr.  Another Kal'Hyah?" the Vulcan asked sympathetically.

"I did not think I looked that good, my friend.  No, much worse a thing than Fek'lhr."

Their coffees arrived.  The Vulcan sipped his while the Klingon downed the strong brew in one gulp and ordered another.  "What could be worse than that?"

The Klingon rolled his eyes.  "My mother and my mother-in-law arrived yesterday.  For a five day stay.  Ostensibly to see our new child, but I personally think the Klingon Diplomatic Service sent them here to test my limits of diplomacy and see if I am worthy of advancement."

"I grieve with thee, friend," Selak said.  "This too shall pass.  The Terrans always say that.  Are they both so bad?"

K'e'flex pondered his dilemma.  "No," he remarked after a moment.  "My wife's mother is quite tolerable.  She dotes on our son and has so far spent most of her time in the child's room with my wife.  No, it is ... my mother.  She has done nothing since her arrival but speak of her brother and has reminded me countless times how grateful I should be to even have been allowed to serve at this post, which is really only for 'show' as she says."  He finished the second espresso and considered ordering a third.  "That old bat had me up until all hours speaking of this, and I could hardly get a word in edgewise.  Does my family not realize I am indeed grateful for my posting in the Diplomatic Service?"

"So how is your esteemed Uncle Gorkon, the Council member?" Selak asked with a Vulcan smirk.

"He is well, and is interested in the opening of the sports complex, as is everyone else in the entire universe, it would seem.  The Defense Corps has announced it plans to have snowboard training with a view to competing here someday.  Even Gorkon's daughter has shown an interest in the happenings, apparently."

"Azetbur?  She actually took her nose out of a political history holobook for once?"  Selak's eyebrows raised in the classic Vulcan expression of shock.

"So I am told.  It is rumored she is an avid hockey supporter as well.  Apparently she claims the tactics of diplomatic victory interest her."  Having ordered a third espresso, the Klingon now downed it as well with a satisfied "haaaaaaah."

"From what I hear, the Andorian team will give the Klingons a run for their credits at the next SportsFest.  But enough speculation.  Do I need to provide the standard 'How Not to Set One's Foot Wrong on Vulcan' holo to these special guests of the Ambassador?"

"Not this time, no." K'e'flex gave a small smile of satisfaction.  "Worf has visited many places as an agriscientist, and his wife, K'a'tya, also an agriscientist, is the niece of the assistant to the agricultural minister of the High Council.  They are versed in offworld cultures.  But K'a'tya has asked for a guide to Vulcan cuisine.  Her son, it seems, is quite the chef, with pizza being his specialty.  My uncle can attest to the quality of his talents, having tried the dish at a family gathering recently.  Young Mogh wishes to make a pizza for his hosts that will please all at the dinner: Terran, Klingon and Vulcan."

"That is easily done, I can have the guidelines to you this afternoon.  These sound like interesting guests! The son especially.  A future diplomat, perhaps?  I do enjoy good pizza..." Selak let his thoughts wander.

"Yes, perhaps," K'e'flex agreed.  "They will wish to see the botanical gardens, some of the local experimental agricultural sites, and the zoo.  Of course, the youth and his mother will be taken care of by my wife and the other females here during the first evening, while we have a welcome ceremonial meal for Worf.  I presume it will be shopping, the holovid game center and McDonald's..."  He looked almost wistful, as if he wished he, too, could join that group instead of being called to another boring diplomatic dinner.

"They will stay at the Tav'Sal'Nava?" Selak asked.

"Yes, we have arranged a double suite."

"I shall provide for the proper accoutrements," Selak said as he entered notes into his PADD.  "Bloodwine, picus claw snacks, musk bubble bath, holovid games...  The things we do in the diplomatic dance, I tell you."

"I agree, but there is payback for our efforts.  I dream of the day I am posted to our Embassy at Starfleet on Terra.  New York ... San Francisco ... Miami ... Venice Beach ... I would enjoy viewing a baseball game with my son some day."

"Terra?  Yes, that is a very logical thing to wish for," the Vulcan said with good-natured sarcasm.  "Well, since we are obviously fantasizing, I hope that I may someday be posted to assist our brothers on Romulus, given the rumors that I hear."

K'e'flex snorted, politely.  "My friend, it is much too early and we are much too sober to harbor such preposterous notions.  Why not hope that a Klingon serves in Starfleet, or enters the Science Academy one day, while are dreaming such grandiose dreams? No, let us concentrate on the pressing matters at hand.  Whose turn is it to host the diplomatic poker night this week?  My relations depart that morning, thank the gods."

"Ajax of the Bollian Embassy has issued the invitation.  But I hear that the Ferengi will be bringing in a gambling cruiser during the festivities, orbiting just outside Vulcan's territorial limit.  And they will have some comely Orion chip girls in attendance."  Selak allowed the right corner of his mouth to turn up.

"Easy for you to say, you're not yet wedded." K'e'flex regarded his empty espresso cup sadly.

"There is an old Terran saying, my friend.  'When I cease admiring the scenery, I am surely dead.' "

"Let us have a last coffee to toast the genius who first uttered that," K'e'flex said.

* * *


Enterprise, 16:00


Kala looked at Christine's reflection in the mirror.

"It looks fabulous, Chris," she said.  "I only have to make some very minor adjustments.  You look beautiful."

Christine looked from Kala to Nyota.  "I said I wouldn't cry this time, but I think I'm gonna break that promise..."

"Quick!  Get the dress off her before she bawls all over it!" Nyota giggled.  Fortunately, so did Christine.

"I'll have the final fitting ready on Wednesday, then you can take your portrait on Thursday."

"Good.  We're having a rehearsal here on Friday afternoon so we can all see what the setting for our Federation ceremony will be.  Pauulu has promised his best flowers for the ceremony, and a fresh tropical fruit punch for the wedding breakfast.  The menu has been set, so everyone can eat what they like.  Amanda tells me it's very simple at the bonding ceremony, the planner will give Ny the details that afternoon.  And Kala, you'll be ready for any dress emergencies, right?" Christine asked, her stomach aflutter with happy butterflies.

Kala bobbed a curtsy.  "At your service, ma'am," she smiled.

"Let's see your dress, Kala," Nyota said.

"Yes, let's," Christine agreed.

"Why?" Kala asked, confused.

"Because you're the genius behind our dresses!  And our friend!" Nyota reminded her.  "You need to look fabulous too.  Who knows who might be there?"

Kala went into her sleeping quarters.  After a few moments, she reappeared, dressed in a simple silk sheath, accented with the traditional Klingon baldrics of her father's house, and a plain set of Terran pearl necklace and earrings.

"Kala, you look like a queen!" Christine breathed.

"Your highness," Nyota added.

Kala tossed them a disdainful look, but her eyes were smiling.  "Hey, it's just me.  Let's get out of these fancy duds.  I have to get ready -- I have date with Tex!"

"You do?" Christine said, pleased for her friend.

"We're going rollerblading in the arboretum at 20:00."

Christine and Nyota looked at each other and laughed.

"What's wrong?" Kala asked.

"It all started in the arboretum," Christine sighed.

* * *




"Just sign here, Dr. Chapel," the mail room clerk instructed.  Christine obliged and was handed three parcels.  The yeoman smiled.  "Looks like some wedding presents, perhaps?"

"Looks like it," Christine agreed, returning the smile.  "Thanks."

As she headed to the turbolift, Christine glanced at the return addresses.  One from Fuega, one from Auhmm III, and one from Berkeley.  She realized that the Terran parcel contained the wedding present she had ordered for Spock, so she detoured to her cabin and deposited it there, away from curious Vulcan eyes.  A satisfied grin crossed her features.  He would be quite pleasantly surprised, she was certain.

Spock was seated on the couch, reading a science journal on his computer monitor.  His face broke into the special smile he reserved for Christine as she entered the cabin.

"What have you got there?" he inquired as he got up and helped her put the packages on the table.  His arms found his way around her waist and they kissed.

"Wedding presents, our first ones! " Christine's eyes sparkled with excitement.

"Must we wait until the ceremony to open them?" Spock asked, as curious as she was.

"No," she replied.  "Let's see what we got!"

The first package was from Ben and Evie Childress and their children.  Christine read the message on the card.  "We'll be thinking of you on your special day.  Our best to you both for a long and happy marriage.  You mentioned how much you both enjoy guacamole and chips.  Well, here's something from Fuega to help you eat it!  This dish was thrown from our local clay by one of the colony's more artistic members.  Some traders saw her work recently and Fuega may soon become famous for something besides mining!

“PS Ben got a nice bonus for the last year, so we're taking the kids on a long-overdue vacation to the Disney Resort on Polaris.  Our oldest is mad for snowboarding -- along with every other kid here.  They've been trying to do it on the local sand dunes, now he's excited at being able to board on real snow.  Ben and I are just looking forward to the cold."

Spock held up the glazed dark red dish and looked it over carefully.  "It would appear the guacamole would be placed in the center bowl area, here, and the chips strewn around it on the plate.  Am I correct?"

Christine kissed him.  "Absolutely.  This is very unique, and look at the bottom, it's signed and dated.  We have an original!  I'm sure it will get a lot of use."

"Indeed, a most thoughtful gift.  I am pleased Evie and Ben have had such a good marriage, considering their somewhat shaky start." Spock remembered the odious Harcourt Fenton Mudd all too well.

The second package was from Christine's mother.  She read the card.  "I wish I could be there in person, honey, but I will be with you in spirit.  I am very happy for you and Spock, and hope your marriage is a wonderful partnership for you both.

“I am well here at the Ashram and feel at peace for the first time in many years.  The vase is made by one of the local glassblowers here and is one of a kind.  The scarf, which comes from the wool of the local sheep, will be perfect for those late night strolls near Big Sur.  You and I know the fog can roll in quickly.  Have a beautiful honeymoon."

The scarf was pale blue plaid with silver and lilac accents.  The vase was cobalt blue, etched with shooting stars and swirling galaxies.  Its beauty was subtle but transfixing.

"It matches your eyes," Spock observed.  "It is quite lovely.  So I gather I should pack a sweater for the second half of our journey?"

"Probably, though we can get something there too.  The summers on the coast are foggy at times.  Our best months for sun are April, May, September and October, actually."  She ran her hand along his thigh.  "But I'm sure you won't be cold."

He pulled her close.  "Neither will you, beloved."

* * *


Tuesday 10:00 Shi-Kahr, Vulcan


Ambassador Sarek sat in Stark's personal office at the new sports complex.  The young champion had just given him a private tour and Sarek was impressed with the venue, which had every possible modern convenience.  Truly, he thought, this would be an asset to the planet and not a detriment.  Sport could open many doors, and it was now Vulcan's time.

"A most remarkable facility, Stark," he said.  "You honor us with its presence."

"It's my way of giving back, sir," the young man replied, every inch the professional.  "And I hope the citizens of Vulcan will come to enjoy the offerings here as much as I have done.  Sport can be a good and logical thing, and I want to share it with my mother's people."

"Indeed.  We are in your debt.  Now, do the activities planned meet with your approval?" Sarek asked.

"It is I who should be asking for approval, sir, because I know that my actions on Polaris and elsewhere recently disgraced my Vulcan heritage.  I am truly sorry and ask that the High Council might forgive me for this transgression." Stark could walk the Vulcan side of the street as well as anyone.

Sarek waved his hand, impressed with the young man's honesty.  "It is done, Stark.  Your victory on Polaris was a pleasing thing, a memorable day for Vulcan.  Perhaps the effect was a bit of temporary insanity -- in fact, some referred it to as planetwide pon-farr, though that analogy is illogical.  But for such a truly wonderful occasion, I am sure even Father Surak might have understood some of the events which transpired.  Not all, mind you, but some."  A subtle twinkle lit his eyes.

"I am half Deltan, sir, and ... I chose to live the way of both my parent's cultures.  So I may have some of these ... lapses ... but I shall do my best to honor Vulcan." Stark held Sarek's eyes in a level gaze.

"Believe me, Stark, when I say that I understand.  Now, to the events.  Is everything to your liking?"

Stark nodded.  "Yes, it seems that all is in order.  The Council approves of the scholarship program?"

"Indeed.  A most worthy way of giving to the galaxy.  We shall welcome all candidates, no matter where they are from.  As you say, sport can forge strong friendships and teach cultural tolerance."

"I have two other proposals for your approval, then."  Stark pushed a PADD across the desk for Sarek to peruse.  For a few moments there was companionable silence, broken only by the Early Vulcan music holo Stark was listening to.

Sarek looked back up at Stark.  "The first proposal is quite acceptable, though you shall need to check with those who have the final say in these matters, which you may do on Sunday evening."

"You do not mind the song being sung?" Stark asked.

"It is your facility, Stark, and your song of welcome.  I see nothing wrong with the lyrics, in fact, I feel they are quite ... appropriate.  Perhaps one of Vulcan's recording artists might cover this song in an acoustical version at some point."

"And the second proposal?"

"I shall discuss this with the High Council, but I see no reason why they would object.  You have commissioned the stonemasons already?"  Sarek glanced back at the document, looking at the plans.

"I have, the finest house of stonemasonry has promised to have it ready in time, and has sworn to secrecy the design.  It shall be carved from local stone.  And my speech..."

"Your speech is eloquent, Stark, and does not need to be changed.  You are a worthy and honorable Vulcan for doing this," Sarek said softly.  "I was acquainted with your grandparents, you know.  They were fine people.  I grieve with your mother still, as does all Vulcan."

"Thank you, sir.  I am grateful for your words.  However, I wish to give my speech in Vulcan," Stark replied evenly.  "Only my command of the language is not as it should be.  Perhaps you might recommend a language coach at the embassy? One who could be trusted? And might the embassy take care of the press releases and such for this event? I do not wish it to become a media circus."

"I shall make the necessary arrangements, and I believe I can find the perfect tutor for you.  My office will be in touch later this week, and I shall see you Sunday evening as planned." Sarek stood and gave the Vulcan salute to Stark.  "Live long and prosper, Stark."

Stark returned the salute and then gave the greeting in flawless Vulcan.  "Thank you again Ambassador," he said.

"It has been my pleasure, Stark," Sarek replied.

* * *


Enterprise, Noon


"Ok, laddie, let's try it now," Scott said to Lt. Dillon.  "On my count of three."

They positioned themselves at either side of the newly-realigned, re-designed (and decidedly beautifully old school) chapel doors.  Both held a door handle in one hand and they stood at attention.

Lt. Singh, who was standing in for Dr. Chapel, approached on the arm of Lt. Riley, tracing the route of the bride and Dr. M'Benga.  They stopped directly in front of the chapel doors.

"One, two three, NOW!" Scott said.  He and Dillon swung the doors out and open.  Up at the lectern, Captain Kirk eyed the scene.

"Perfect, Mr. Scott.  Exactly as it should be, and I should know, from the number of brides I've seen go through those doors.  This is a big improvement.  You've done a fine job."

"Thank you, sir," Scotty said.  "It was a pleasure to do it."

"Maybe we can keep it like this?  Makes it looks more like a real chapel, don't you think?" Kirk asked.

"Aye, it might at that," Scotty replied.

* * *


18:00 Qo'noS


"What have we here?" Worf asked as he walked into the kitchen.  Mogh and K'a'tya were busily stirring something that smelled delicious.

"Good evening, Worf," she said.  "The embassy staff from Vulcan sent over the guide to the cuisine, and Mogh and I are experimenting with a sauce topping for the pizza."

Worf picked up a chili pepper and bit into it, then realized what he had done.  Fortunately, neither his wife nor his son had seen his mistake.  He hastily downed a tankard of water.

"I made a less spicy tomato sauce, as the holo says that Vulcans do not eat their food as hot as we do, father," Mogh stated.  "And I think it will be fine.  I have also read of something called tofu sausage, which might be a good substitute for the Tr'alo I use.  Would they have this on Vulcan?"

"I must send a final transmission to Spock about our arrival time on Vulcan, so I shall ask.  He has already said that he will provide vegetables that are appropriate for the pizza topping and sauce, as well as the cheese.  Apparently your pizza is becoming famous, Mogh!  Spock has also said he will introduce us to his guacamole."

"Is that his pet?" Mogh asked.

Worf laughed.  "No, son, it is a delicacy eaten on Terra, in the Mexican states.  They like their food spicy, as we do.  I have tried this on the deep space agristation I visited last year, at a Mexican food cafe.  It is quite palatable.  Especially on burritos."

K'a'tya handed a spoonful of the sauce to Worf, who tried it appreciatively.  "There is something special about the sauce today," he said.

K'a'tya and Mogh looked at each other and smiled.  "We used some of the Klin-ta herb, just a few leaves, to see how it would affect the sauce.  Obviously, it improves the taste, does it not, Worf?"

"It does.  The herb plants will be very special gifts that we carry to Vulcan.  I am certain Ambassador Kl'o'rox will appreciate this taste of home, since the plant stubbornly refuses to be grown from seed elsewhere.  And they make a most appropriate diplomatic and wedding present, too.  I shall arrange for agricultural certificates so there will be no problems with transporting them."  Worf looked at his son with affection.  "Mogh, I am very proud of how you apply yourself to all things, you are a keen student, and that is a good thing.  You shall go far, that is certain, in your life."

"Thank you, Father."

"Well, shall we see about eating our evening meal, then?" K'a'tya asked.  "I, for one, am quite hungry."

* * *


Enterprise, 20:00


Spock taped another carton shut.  While Christine was at yoga, he had logically used the time packing up some boxes of his possessions in anticipation for the move to their new, larger quarters, which would happen once they returned from their honeymoon.

He thought about the recurring dreams he had been having, of T'Pring challenging him for Christine.  His meditation sessions had only deepened his desire to go to the place of the ancestors himself, to purge the last of the memories of his disastrous first attempt at marriage.  Then he could safely take Christine there.

The opening doors brought him out of his musings.  Christine entered, her cheeks flushed from the exertion of the yoga postures.

"How was your class?" he asked, comfortably enfolding her in his arms.

"Great, but boy do I need a shower.  She really worked us."

"All this packing has also made me require a shower." His hands slid her leotard off her shoulders.  "Why not join me?"

* * *


Wednesday 11:00 Go'An, Vulcan


T'Pring opened the holojournal at the her desk computer.  As the chief local librarian, she viewed all publications before placing them online.  Her eyes scanned the various items, then stopped when she saw the announcement.

So it was true, then.  He had taken another, finally.  And she was Terran, an officer from his ship.  A physician.  She was pleasing to the eye, but definitely Terran.  He looked older, more centered, more -- at peace?

Memories washed over her.  It had been so long ago, and she had regretted her decision to challenge, especially when it seemed that the captain of Spock's ship had indeed perished.  She had been relieved to learn he had not, but by then things had spiraled out of control.  A shiver went down her spine when she recalled how she had visited T'sai T'Pau and begged her forgiveness, then dared to ask if she might still claim Spock as her intended.  The older woman had coldly stated an old proverb about making one's bed and then sleeping in it.

Things had worked out logically, after all.  Spock's ship had taken him far from Vulcan, and she and Stonn had made a life here in the city where most of Vulcan's solar energy was generated and sent all over the planet.  He was an engineer, and quite capable at his work.  Their marriage was logically cool and agreeable, with their only contact coming during the time of mating.  Stonn was a good provider and an excellent father to their daughter T'Mara, who had just turned ten.

T'Mara's passion was art, in particular, sculpture.  She had recently announced her intentions to spend at least one year of university studying in Paris on Terra, and T'Pring was determined her daughter would have all the chances she never did.  She was not yet bonded, one thing Stonn had wholeheartedly agreed with his wife on.

The local preschool class was due in for a field trip, so she closed the journal and placed it into the library's database for all patrons to view.  For some absurd reason, she recalled a line from an ancient Terran song, one she and Stonn had secretly listened to in their youth, by the group called the Beatles.  Something about life going on.

* * *


Noon Shi-Kahr


Stark looked back up at the half-pipe he had just finished running.  "Perfect," he said into his earpiece.  "Let's do one more run and then check the temps.  Looks like it'll be more than ready for the big event."

His vidphone beeped.  "Stark," he replied, thinking it was Ambassador Sarek's office, or maybe even T'Lara.

"OH GODS!  IT'S HIM!" an adolescent female voice screamed.  "I'M GONNA FAINT!"

Stark barely kept from uttering a colorful Pre-Reform oath as he punched the off button.  Here it went again.  And the day had started out so well, too.

* * *


17:00 Enterprise


The last fitting of the bride and bridesmaid dresses had gone exceedingly well.

"You should definitely think about designing when you get to New York," Nyota said to Kala.

"Absolutely, Kala," Christine agreed.  "You have such talent.  Look what happened to that artist on Fuega.  All it took was one person to notice her work and she's set to become a major player."

"Well, my father has asked me to consider re-designing the staff uniforms for his nightclub," Kala admitted as she hung both dresses into garment bags.  "Though the concept of a Klingon nightclub in New York must seem like a contradiction in terms..."

"Nonsense," Christine hrrmphed.  "No matter where you go, it's the nature of cultures to travel, regardless of how their governments feel about each other.  It has been like that since the first cave man opened a local hangout and got patrons from the next valley who were passing through.  If I ever get to New York, I'll check it out.  By the way, what's the drink of choice there?  Bloodwine?"

Kala laughed.  "For the hardcore spacer crews, yes.  But most everyone else prefers the Klingon martini."

"Wouldn't Lt. Rourke just splatz if we asked for one at the bar," Nyota speculated with a devious grin.

"Well, we could ask him, but he might get mad, he's still smarting from that Cinco de Mayo disaster of Riley's," Christine recalled.

"So's the bar," Kala said.  "I can still see Sulu's spur marks on it."

"Why are we sitting around here talking about the bar? Chris'll be gone for almost a week on Vulcan.  Let's go have a lemon drop martini.

"A logical proposition, Commander Uhura," Christine said.

* * *


Thursday, 14:00 Arboretum


"Look over your left shoulder and smile," Kirk instructed.  "That's great.  Now straight ahead and bring the flowers up a tad."

"You should set up a business, Jim," Christine said with a laugh.  "You're too good at this!"

"I dabbled in portraiture in high school.  So I guess it's always been kind of my hobby.  Okay, Chris, a serious one.  Look thoughtful."

A fragment of memory slipped across Christine's mind.  She recalled the pain her mother had known, the fears she always had that somehow, she would be blamed...


She snapped out of the daydream.  "Yes, Jim?"

"That's a wrap, but what happened?  You really looked a million parsecs from here.  It'll be a great shot...  I should have the proofs to you tomorrow at rehearsal."  He started to gather his equipment together.  "Anything you want to talk about?"

Christine got up and smoothed the dress into place.  "I was thinking about my father, I guess," she finally said.

"I see," Kirk replied.  "Chris, that happened before you were born.  But I understand, you're getting married and it's not the same without having your folks here.  How's your mom?"

"She's fine.  Spending some of her retirement years at the Ashram on Ahumm III.  I think it's helped her to put the past behind her.  I guess my heading into space, and then becoming a medical officer, well, it kind of threw her for a loop."  She sighed a little sadly.

"Have you talked about this with Spock?"

"Of course.  He feels the same way you do, tells me not to worry.  And his family has been so supportive, which really surprised me.  But I can't help thinking what if he hadn't been so preoccupied..."  Her voice trailed off again.

Kirk gave her a quick hug.  "Chris, Spock would tell you that's illogical.  At least the old Spock would have.  But I think, and he probably does too, that it's ok for you to feel this way.  Try to make peace with your past.  Believe me, it's way beyond anything you -- or anyone -- could have done.  Starfleet won't even allow it in your record.  It's ancient history."

"Thanks, Jim," Christine told her friend.  "I appreciate it more than you could possibly know."  She looked down at herself.  "Now I have to get this dress back to Kala and then start the monumental task of packing up my quarters."

* * *


18:00 Christine's Quarters


The doors opened and Spock stepped inside, taking in the neatly arranged boxes.  It took him a moment to find his fiancee amidst the stacks of cartons.

She got up and walked over to him.  "What brings you here?  Slumming it?" she asked.

He swatted her backside playfully.  "I was merely stopping by to see if you required any assistance, Doctor.  Or if you'd perhaps like to accompany me to the Starbase for dinner and some dancing at the Country Western club there?  After all, we warp out of orbit tomorrow afternoon, and then my father's shuttle meets the ship on Sunday morning."

"Mmmmm, that'd be nice." She wrapped her arms around his neck and enjoyed the embrace.

After a moment, Spock touched her cheek thoughtfully.  He looked at her with an expression of concerned affection.  "You have been thinking of your father?" he asked.

"Is it that obvious?" she sighed, hating herself.

"As we approach our bonding, the connection between us will be increasing, T'hyla," he said.  "But the thoughts you have were very close to the surface of your psyche.  Trust me, I was not intruding."

"I know."

"Do not trouble yourself, Christine.  I know it is difficult not to dwell on the past, but this is not a time for sadness.  It pains me to see you hurting so."

His hand continued to stroke the side of her forehead.  She could feel the waves of love he felt for her pass through their connection.  Not one iota of displeasure at her emotional state.  No judgment, no disapproval.  The degree of protective affection he felt for her was staggering, and she blessed the fact they'd been given such a wonderful second chance at happiness.

"You're right, Spock.  I need to let the grass grow over the dead."  She looked into his eyes.  "And I would be happy to go out with you this evening, sir.  Shall we meet at the transporter room in, oh, a half hour?" A smile finally crept across her tired features.

"That would be agreeable," he replied, just before he kissed her.

* * *


Friday 14:00 Ship's Chapel


"Are your feet still hurting, then?" M'Benga asked as he and Christine positioned themselves in front of the doors.  Scotty and Lt. Riley snapped smartly to attention.

"Uh huh," she said.  "How could you tell?"

He indicated her flat leather thong sandals.

"Oh.  Well, yes, we danced so much I had the same problem Kala had a few weeks ago.  I couldn't get my boots off."  She laughed.

"So Leonard told me as he went off duty this morning.  He was doing his best not to laugh.  But when he sees you now, I somehow think he may succumb."  He let his eyes take in the sandals, jeans, Starfleet Medical t-shirt, the rehearsal bouquet of colorful boxes and containers from the spa, and the baseball cap on her head.  It had a veil attached and stated, "I'm the Bride."

"No one says the rehearsal is supposed to be formal, you know, and besides, I'm off duty."

"Okay, folks, it's showtime," Scotty said.

The doors swung open slowly.  Christine's heart skipped a beat as she beheld Spock and McCoy waiting for her, with Jim standing at the lectern.

"Let's do it," Christine told M'benga.  They started up the aisle.

* * *


Saturday 18:00 Christine's Quarters


Christine finished the inscription in Spock's wedding gift and tucked it into her travel bag.  Once she got to Vulcan she would have Amanda help her wrap it.  She let her hand slide over the cover one last time before she made sure it was out of sight.  A reproduction, to be sure, but even those were very rare these days.  Somehow, in her heart, she knew Spock would be pleased.

Almost as if on cue, Spock appeared in her opening door.

"Hi, is it that late?" she asked.  She glanced around the quarters one last time and saw that everything seemed to be in order.  "I guess I'm done here, huh? Kind of hard to believe, isn't it?"

"It takes an end to make a beginning, beloved," he replied.  "I was thinking perhaps we could eat dinner and then watch a vid?"  His eyes finished the sentence.  Clearly, more was in store after the vid concluded.

"Sure, let's go then."

He stopped her, a smile playing on his mouth.  "I meant here.  I have never spent the entire night with you in your quarters, you know.  Perhaps we should at last rectify that situation?"

"Better late than never," she said, giving his eartip her special caress.  "I think I'm going to like being bonded to you, Spock."

"I feel much the same about marrying you," he replied, pulling her close.  "It's a good match."