Disclaimer: Star Trek is the property of Paramount/Viacom. This story is the property of and is copyright (c)1979 by Lois Welling. Originally published in R&R #9, Johanna Cantor, editor. Rated PG13.

THE LYTHERETTE

Lois Welling

Anne Jensen left the star liner and made her way through the small crowd to customs.

Once cleared, she made arrangements for her luggage and, since her hotel wasn't far, decided to walk. The gentlebeing who checked her papers advised her to be prudent. Her body would require time to compensate for the many differences here. His warning had not prepared her for the blast furnace she encountered on leaving the weather-controlled space terminal. She took a few minutes to let her body begin to adjust.

While standing there she surveyed her first sight of Vulcan. The silence jarred her.

How different it was from other space ports, plagued with street vendors and hawkers. The whole scene was bathed in the red-gold glow of the setting sun. As she walked slowly toward her hotel, she noted that only two in-city ground cars waited silently instead of the usual dozen jostling for the always too few parking slots. The area surrounding the space port was spacious and there were none of those fast-food places. Maybe that would account for the litterless streets and parkways. As she continued through the almost deserted streets, styles and materials of the buildings changed. Anne decided she was moving into an older section of the city. The building designs were all straight lines and simple. Efficient and functional, she guessed.

She found her hotel and was immediately disappointed. It was an inter-galactic hilton and exactly like every other one, bland and impersonal. She vowed that tomorrow. after she disposed of the chore that had brought her here, she would look for something with more local character and atmosphere.

The next morning she had breakfast in the hotel and then found a public conveyance that took her to the address her lawyer had given her. She emerged at the Vulcan Science Academy, slightly confused. Why would a lawyer's office be here? Well, maybe he taught law along with his practice. She located the office she wanted with no trouble. To her surprise, the Vulcan she needed to see was available. He would see her.

He stood as she entered. "I am Sannen. You wish to see me?"

"Yes, sir, I am Anne Jensen. Genesssa Marlow was my great-grandmother.

She waited for some reaction, but all he said was, "How may I help you?"

Anne placed the package on the desk.

"I am my greatgrandmother's only heir. But to inherit, I was required to make a trip here and to deliver this to a representative of your family. The lawyer gave me a receipt for you to sign."

Sannen opened the package. This time there was a reaction: recognition, she thought. He signed the reeceipt and thanked Anne, but the whole time his eyes kept drifting back to the contents of the box. Not knowing what else to do, Anne left.

She stood outside the office for several seconds. "Well, that was easy enough. I still don't know any more about this whole business than I did before, and I guess I never will." Resigned, she started to walk. She had almost a week on Vulcan and was determined to see as much of the planet as possible. With her business complete, she might even consider a trip to other cities. Several hours later, when her feet hurt and she was hungry and totally lost, she asked for directions back to her hotel.

* * *

Sannen stared at the lytherette for a long time, then took it out of the box and held it. It was now back where it belonged, back in the family. He wondered if his father had somehow known it would be returned. The lytherette had belonged to Spock, and had been his to do with as he wished. Sannen had never begrudged his father that right. Still, he was pleased to have the antique back.

As he sat there turning it over in his hands, the memory of his father's last day came flooding back to him. It had been almost a year ago...

* * *

UnVulcan as it was, Sannen hurried. For his mother to call him from his work, it must be serious. He entered the house to find her waiting, obviously upset.

"Your father is dying."

Sannen stared at her, stunned. "Dying? Now?"

"He returned from Togos III this morning. I needed only to look at him to know. The human female is dead. He will not survive the severing."

Sannen put his hand on the hall table to steady himself. It must be true. His mother would not mistake the symptoms. He had long suspected that the bonding beetween his father and the human female transcended the superficial by many degrees. Combine that with its almost three-fourths of a century duration, and this result was inevitable.

His mother continued, radiating emotion. "At least your grandmother had the deecency to take precautions against this happening to Sarek at her death."

"Mother, that is hardly fair. Grandmother knew enough of Vulcan ways to have the healers present to aid Sarek through the disjoining. This was obviously very sudden. There probably wasn't time for Dr. Marlow to..."

"You will not give voice to that name in my home."

He wouldn't argue, not at this time. "Where is Father?"

"He has gone to the desert."

"I am going to be with him."

"What of me? Am I to be alone?"

My father is dying and she indulges in self pity. Sannen left the room before he put words to his thoughts. He called his younger brother, explained the situation and asked him and his wife to come and stay with T'Pru.

He silently wished that his sister were here. She could always deal with their mother. But her career in Starfleet kept her off Vulcan.

He quickly gathered the items he wanted and left the house without speaking to his mother again.

Thirty minutes later Sannen landed the air car next to the one his father had used. He hoisted the pack to his shoulders and followed the footsteps in the sand.

He sighted Spock sitting on a rise in the terrain, his back to the scorching middday sun. As he got close enough to be heard, his father turned. Sannen studied him and knew, despite his illogical hope to the contrary, that his mother had been corrrect. He tightened his mental controls. He would be no help if he could not keep his own emotions in check.

As Sannen sat down and began opening the pack, Spock said, "Son, go home to your mother. There is nothing you can do here."

"Mother is not alone ... I wish to be with you." Before Spock could interrupt, he said, "Father, I ask you -- at a time like this, do not place me in a position of having to disobey."

Their eyes met. "I accept your offer of companionship."

Sannen produced a water container and handed it to his father. Spock took several swallows.

"As long as you are here, there are family matters we should discuss. I contacted your sister while on board the liner. She will be home shortly. On your grandfather's desk you will find a tape addressed to you and one to your brother."

Sannen nodded as Spock continued. "You will find the family business records in good order. My instructions are explicit. Do not allow your mother's nagging to dissuade you from what you know is best."

He sat quietly for severral minutes and then drank again. Sannen knew this was a sign of his deteriorating condition. When he spoke again, his words carne more slowly.

"Sannen, this is most important. There is the matter of a wife for you. I grieve with thee on the loss of T'Min. But you must accept it and go on. While we can thank our human heritage that we need concern ourselves with the fever only half as often as our full Vulcan brothers, ours is an erratic, unpredictable cycle. Do not be lulled into waiting too long to seek another mate and then be forced to act in haste." He did not add, 'and repent in leisure as I did'. But Sannen knew what he was thinking.

"I shall not neglect this duty."

After several more minutes of silence, Sannen spoke. "Father, may I ask how she died?"

"We were on Togos III. There was a sudden outbreak of a common virus that had mutated. There were no innoculations available. She was unconscious within hours and dead within a day." His voice trailed off. "It should not have happened. The following day a vaccine which could have saved her was synthesized."

Sannen knew that his father's thoughts would focus on Genessa and as the afternoon progressed these thoughts would push out all others until only she dominated his mind. For his own sake, he wanted to keep his father talking and coherent as long as possible.

"I have known so few humans, but they seem to have played such an important part in your life. What is it about them you find so interesting?"

Spock shifted his position. "Sannen, I originally went to live among them to learn to deal with my own humanity. Something I believe you have yet to do. While doing that, I discovered about them an adventuresome spirit and enthusiasm that is almost contagious. Earth joined the Federation less than 100 years ago and now they dominate. I also believe they are on the brink of an evolutionary breakthrough in the area of extrasensory perception. And unlike homogeneous Vulcans, they will not be restricted to one area in this development. I dread to think of the consequences if they do not learn control."

"Yes, I once head it referred to as wild talents."

"Not totally inappropriate. And most interesting to observe in action. For instance, Genessa's approach to a research problem: usually she followed an empirical method. But occasionally she would trail some hunch, as she called it. Her percentage of success in these cases was surprisingly high."

Spock shifted his position again and continued. "I have known several humans who had flashes of this perception. Jim, of course, was one of them. Even Dr. McCoy had it on occasion, and never was it more awesome than that day when..." His voice cracked as the memory sprang unbidden into his consciousness. "McCoy came to me that day on the Enterprise. I watched him coming down the corridor, and by his stride alone I knew he had something on his mind. He told me of his uneasy feelings concerning the landing party. I tried to reassure him..."

* * *

"Doctor, I have just spoken with Jim. The landing party meeting with Admiral Milano is about to commence. The transfer of supplies is almost completed. All is as it should be."

McCoy was insistent. "Spock, I tell you something is wrong!"

In new situations I am always wary, but we were deep inside Federation territory. "At one of our own star bases, Doctor?"

"I know what I feel!"

I must admit I was tempted to come back with a curt reply, but on seeing his face, I changed my mind. "Doctor, I am on my way to the Bridge; come with me and we will check again."

I had the star base put on the viewscreen at full magnification and the communications officer confirmed that all was in order. McCoy would not be satisfied. He paced about looking over everyone's shoulder. I was about to order him off the Bridge for disrupting routine, but instead suggested we have lunch. I left the command chair and was stepping up to the lift when I felt it. McCoy caught me, and I looked up to see his anguish-ridden face. We both turned to stare at the blown-out section of the star base that we knew to contain the Admiral's office. I knew they were dead. I felt it happen, but McCoy had sensed it before...

* * *

Spock lapsed into a long silence. Sannen knew that his father had not allowed himself to recall those memories for a long time.

Sannen felt very helpless as he sat watching his father. He had no idea of what to do. He remembered that Spock had been with Sarek when he died, and when it was over, Spock had seemed at peace. Sannen knew that Spock's presence had been helpful; he only hoped he would do as well.

When he noticed Spock shivering, Sannen put his cape around him. Spock was taking water every few minutes now. One by one his controls were slipping. Sannen knew by the few words he was murmuring that Spock was also losing touch with reality. He was returning to the past and the life he had shared with Genessa. Getting through this would be the most difficult part for Sannen. All he would be shown were isolated bits and pieces out of context. They would leave him more confused than satisfied. Then, Spock would die, taking with him all the answers ...

He had to admit that he was curious about how his father related to this woman. It had to be much different than the cool, formal politeness he shared with T'Pru. Sannen had gone through a series of assessments concerning Genessa, but when so many years had passed, he had been forced to admit that a true bonding existed between the couple. He had decided his father deserved the contentment this woman brought to his life, and he was only sorry that his parents had not been able to find it together, as he and T'Min had.

Spock began calling her name. He seemed to think her lost. Sannen was sure he did not realize he was speaking aloud: "Genessa, where are you? Gen, this is no time for games."

Then there was more urgency in his voice. "Gen, I need you."

Sannen wondered what these fragments of conversation pertained to -- what scenes were being played out in his father's mind ...

* * *

Spock entered the small house he and Genessa had purchased a few years ago and shared when he was at the new Federation Headquarters on Delta. An upset Genessa turned to face him. "Spock, I'm sorry about calling you at the consulate," she berated herself. "I promised myself that I would never do that."

"Genessa, it is not your call that disturbs me."

"When I heard the news flash about the explosion ... I had Charles check the hospital. I knew you weren't injured, but they wouldn't give out names of the dead. Spock, I was so frightened."

"Gen, what did you feel?"

She lowered her eyes. "That you were alive."

"Well?"

"I was afraid to believe it. Afraid it was just wishful hoping on my part. I thought it was just that I wanted it so desperately."

"Come here." He took her hand and the link they shared was intensified. "Gen, you perceive that?" She nodded. "That knowledge is created by our bonding. You must learn to identify it and isolate it as real, not just your own desires. And Gen, you must learn to trust it."

"Spock, I'm sorry. But these sensations are so new and so unusual."

"No, it is I who am at fault. I have not spent enough time teaching you. I forget that I have had a lifetime of dealing with this, while you have had but a few years..."

* * *

"Genessa," Spock murmured again, "would you dim the lights so that I may sleep?"

"Yes," Sannen spoke gently. "Sleep..."

* * *

Gen paced the bedroom floor while Spock sat up in bed. "Gen, if you are not coming to bed, would you dim the lights so that I may sleep?"

"No. We're going to talk more about this!"

"There is nothing to be gained by further discussion."

"Nothing to be gained? One quarter of the people on this planet are starving and the Federation has the means to help them."

"Are you suggesting we force aid on them that would ruin what is left of their already faltering economy and make them dependent on the Federation for continuing aid?"

"So keep them independent and starving? Spook, nothing else matters except that these people get food."

"Certainly your knowledge of Federation history tells you how unwise such interrference is."

Genessa glared at him, then her eyes misted over. "Spock, the sight of that young woman and her baby outside the hotel this evening was..."

"And you believe me unaffected by that sight?"

She went over and sat on the bed. "No. I know better than that. I noticed that you have taken no solid food since arriving here." She laid her head on his chest and slipped her arms around him.

"He drew her to him. "Perhaps you should not have accompanied me this time."

"Don't say that. I can't help it if I..."

This conversation was not new; they had had several versions of it over the years. It always went the same way. Genessa got emotional and Spock remained logical. He would usually sit while she paced and waved her arms. Spock knew that these talks had never changed his mind, but he found them stimulating and they sometimes gave him a different perspective on the subject ...

* * *

Spock began to toss and turn and Sannen held him until he relaxed. A child? He was speaking of a child! Sannen's mind reeled. Certainly there was no child of that union ...

* * *

Genessa stared unbelieving at her doctor and friend. ''Run the test again! There must be some mistake!"

"There is no mistake, Gen. Accept it. To use an ancient cliche, the rabbit died."

Genessa glared at her. "This is stupid. How could it have happened? And after all these years! I have always been so careful."

"Next time, my friend, don't diagnose yourself. You know what they say about a doctor who..."

"God, you're just full of old platitudes today, aren't you?"

"Gen, why doesn't he just divorce his wife and marry you? It's obvious that you two have a very special relationship. People haven't changed much in the last several centuries. They still like their primary relationships one to one, and the offspring to be legitimate."

"Yes, Mariam, and they still expect their leaders to be pure and above reproach. Spock's work is too important to be jeopardized by personal scandal."

"Well, I've had my say on the subject. I'll say no more. Now, I've made arrangements for you to enter the hospital. I want to run some other tests."

Genessa was pacing the hospital room. She looked up as a concerned Spock entered. She went into his arms and began to lament. "Spock, I'm pregnant. Can you believe that? And at my age! I feel like some stupid teenager. I've always been so careful. How can this happen? I can't accept it."

"Genessa, if you are finished indulging in self pity, will you tell me what happened?"

"Spock, we discussed it. When I went twelve consecutive months without a period, I thought I was through menopause. I ran a homone count in the lab just to be sure. You remember, I was hip deep in that J-16 project at the time. Well, when I tested low I decided I didn't need my yearly injection."

"Obviously you were mistaken."

"Obviously!!! Mariam said that three months on Varian with no moon upset my already erratic cycle and that perhaps the radiation caused the low hormone count."

"You have not told me why you have been admitted here."

"Oh, it's Mariam. She has run every test in the known galaxy."

At that point a grim-faced Dr. Mariam Stoval entered the room.

"Mariam, what's wrong? You found something?"

"Yes." She looked from Genessa to Spock and back.

Genessa's voice was anxious. "Well, what is it?"

It was Spock who put their fears into words. "There is something wrong with the fetus."

"Yes," Mariam said softly. "It is defective."

"Oh." Gen sank into a chair. In a choked voice she said, "You are going to recommend abortion."

"I don't think that will be necessary. I think you'll abort spontaneously. Gen, with all our advances in medicine, nature still exercises the power to recctify its mistakes."

Genessa said nothing but Spock asked, "Doctor, when do you expect this to happen?"

"Any time within the next three weeks. If it doesn't, we will have to do some very serious talking. You can go home now, Gen. Do what you usually do, and call me when the contractions start."

Spock took Genessa home and they followed their regular routine. He went to his office at the council and Gen to her lab. He began calling her at midday to ask how she was, something he hadn't done before. Their evenings, usually spent in conversation, were subdued. They took walks and sat together. Through held hands their ambivalent thoughts passed between them. Four nights later, Genessa awoke to her first contraction...

* * *

Sannen could do nothing but sit and watch. He studied Spock. His hair was completely gray now and straight, unlike his own, wanting to curl like his grandfather's. Both Sannnen and his brother favored Sarek, while their sister looked like Spock.

In the past several years, giving credence to the adage that once you hit 200, your body starts to go, the lines around Spock's mouth and eyes had etched deeper and deeper and the scar on his right cheek had become more prominent. Sannen also knew that Spock's back had caused him a great deal of discomfort and actual pain in the past several years ...

* * *

As Spock let himself in through the main door of the small house, he sighted Genessa struggling with a large secretary desk. He sighed. She was rearranging the 'furniture again.

"Gen, that is much too heavy for you to move alone." He was at her side, helping.

"Now don't you try to move this. You know how your back is."

"There is nothing wrong with my back." With one final push Spock shoved the desk into place. He grabbed at his back as he straightened.

"Now you've done it," Genessa grumbled. "Let me get you something for that or you'll have us both up all night." She started for the hallway. "Now where did I put that ..."

"Genessa." Had he not been Vulcan by training a moan of pain would have esscaped his lips as he turned to follow her.

"Be still." She smeared the salve on his back.

"Woman, you seem to forget that there are mental disciplines Vulcans use to control pain."

"We both remember what happened last time we depended on that, don't we?" she said smugly. "I suppose all males have this much trouble admitting they are gettting old."

"I am not getting old and my control is as good as it ever was." He sat up carefully and pulled on his tunic. He regarded her closely for several moments, then said, "I see you had your hair done today." Before she could reply, he added, "I approve of the color..."

* * *

Spock finally looked at Sannen with recognition, then closed his eyes. He was weaker than ever. Sannen could do nothing but sit there. His father was quiet for a long time and Sannen's mind began to wander. He wondered what life would be like without Spock. When T'Min had died, Spock had been there. Now he would have only his children, and they were grown, with lives and families of their own. Soon he would be a grandfather again. He and his brother were not close. As if he'd read his mind, Spock said in a slow, haltting voice, "When this is finished, go into the desert with your brother and share this with him. It will bring you closer."

Sannen protested.

Spock's breathing became slower and more strained. With a final effort he reached out his hand. Sannen took it, and then he was gone. Sannen held the hand in his for a very long time. Then as the first shades of light crept over the horizon he removed his hand and pulled the cloak up over his father's face.

* * *

Anne woke from her nap and stretched lazily. How nice to be able to sleep in the midddle of the day. How nice not to have to get up and go to work. And the thought of never having to spend another day at that drafting table was enough to make her giddy. She had Genessa to thank for that, and for this vacation. She rolled over and snuggled down. I think I'll just sleep some more and later treat myself to the best dinner this place has to offer. Then I'll find out where the night life is. She laughed at her little joke. She did know enough about Vulcan to know how funny that was. She dozed on and off, rememmbering how surprised she had been when the lawyer contacted her. It had changed her whole life. Her father's insurance had just barely allowed her to finish college. And all the next two years of trying to live off her art had left her was a slight case of malnutriition. But now, with Genessa's gift, she could live for six, maybe seven years, and do nothing but paint. If by then she could not make a living at it, she would face the truth and give it up.

The bedside audio sounded...

* * *

Anne waited in the hotel lobby. She wondered if she would even recognize Mr. Sannen after spending so few minutes with him. There was a male coming through the door, but she couldn't decide. He came straight to her and, after re-introducing himself, suggested tea in the dining room. She agreed. After their order was taken, he proceded to apologize for his behavior earlier in the day. If he had appeared rude or distant, it was not intentional. He had been surprised. As Anne sat listening she wondered about him. She tried to guess his age. His hair was greying at the temples, but what did that mean for a Vulcan? There were few lines in his face, laugh or frown. He wasn't bad looking, but his manner was stiff and formal. She finally decided that was because he was the Vulcan equivalent of a lawyer. They all tended to be that way. Probably he was in his early fifties... He finished by saying, "I grieve with thee at Dr. Marlow's death."

Anne was caught off guard. Genessa's death had caused her no grief. Her mother's death when she was twelve, certainly, and her father's six years later; even her granddmother's death had had an impact on her, but not Genessa's. She noticed him watching her. "I was not close to mygreatgrandmother. I only met her five or six times in my life. She was old when she died, and she'd had a full life. I didn't grieve at her passing and it had little emotional effect on me. In fact, since all this has happened, I have thought more about her than I did when she was alive. Does that sound uncaring to you?"

"No, not under the circumstances you describe."

She went on explaining. "Genessa didn't live in the same system we did and we couldn't afford to visit often. Besides, my grandmother didn't approve of the life she led and she most definitely didn't approve of the Ambassador."

"And you, Ms. Jensen. Did you also disapprove?"

"Oh no, when I finally figured out that they had been having an affair for all those years I thought it very exciting and glamorous. Then on our last visit I listened to grandmother and Genessa argue. I learned that the Ambassador had a wife and children. That really intrigued me. We left the next day, though, so I never did learn more. I wish Genessa had kept a diary or something. I'm sure it was an interesting love story." She finished her tea. ''Well, Mr. Sannen, I suppose as the Ambassador's legal representative, it's up to you to see that the package is returned to his family."

"Ms. Jensen, you may rest assured that the lytherette is back where it belongs. The Ambassador was my father."

If Anne had had three wishes just then, all of them would have been for the ground to open up and swallow her. When she recovered her voice she said, "That, Mr. Sannen, is what is known on Earth as putting one's foot in one's mouth. I don't even know how to begin to apologize."

"There is no need. The facts you stated were correct, if somewhat embellished."

"There is a need. I made the whole thing sound casual, and if I know anything about Genessa it was that what she shared with the Ambassador was very deep and important. And if common gossip is anywhere near correct, Vulcans don't treat their personal relationships lightly either. I think what intrigued me most about them is that I don't underrstand how it even could have happened."

"I do not know how it happened. I only know when..."

* * *

The liner docked at the Vulcan space port and within a few minutes the announcement came to disembark. Ambassador Spock went planetside to find, as his last messsage from aboard ship had specified, his eldest son, Sannen, waiting for him.

Spock noted his son's expression. His concern was there. The closeness beetween them allowed Spock to know this. Sannen took the hand-carried luggage from his father and together they walked to the waiting air car. When they were on their way, Spock finally broke the silence.

"I take it your mother has informed you and your grandfather of this situation?"

"Yes, sir."

"Your brother and sister?"

"No."

At least he could be thankful for that ...

Upon arriving, Spock went directly to his father's study. There he found Sarek working at his desk. The evidence of his father's advancing age always struck him more after he had been away. And the past three weeks of worry caused by T'Pru's need to inflict her personal concerns on those around her had not helped.

"Welcome home, Son." Sarek eyed Spock closely. "Your message from aboard ship left me concerned. When we heard no more from you, I assumed that matters had worked out."

"Yes, the whole incident was handled with discretion."

"I am very relieved that you have returned to us safe and well."

That was all Sarek would say on the subbject, and Spock knew it was enough. Sarek had accepted the situation and now it would not be spoken of again. Spock took leave of his father. Now to face T'Pru.

He found her in her room. Actually it was Amanda's old room, which T'Pru had taken over after the older woman's death. Neither father nor son was pleased with that fact, but they had said nothing. It was her right. She had, of course, redecorated, and removed all traces of the human woman from the room. Spock spent no time in there. He preferred to have her come to his room on the rare occasions when it was necessary. Sarek had never been in the new room, but Spock had caught sight of him eyeing it distastefully from the doorway, many years before.

T'Pru was sitting at her desk engrossed in the never ending tasks of running the household. She was not an unattractive woman, a typical Vulcan female. Shorter than Spock by three inches, she was slim and fine boned. T'Pru did know how to conduct herrself as an official consort, and when required to attend public functions, they presented a striking couple.

Spock knew her well. In this instance, her main concern would be to save face. If that could be managed, she would prefer him alive. Both knew her social position was better that way. The Vulcan widow led a dull life, even for a Vulcan.

She looked up from her work. "Husband."

He extended two fingers to meet hers. "Wife."

Cool fingers touched, and remained cool. Always the rituals, never the meanings.

"You are well?" she asked.

"Yes, the time has passed. I am well."

"And those on the ship?"

"They believe I was suffering from a contagious virus and that the human doctor treated me."

Her expression changed ever so slightly. "So there will be no talk?"

"There will be no talk."

"I am pleased at your safe reeturn." There was nothing more to say. Spock turned and left the room.

During the next several days Spock found himself becoming inncreasingly distracted. Try as he might to resist these intrusions, they kept creeping back into his consciousness. "... Perhaps I am not using all my mental disciplines to control this. Perhaps I don't really wish to..."

He kept remembering their first meeting in the ship's Sickbay. A dizzy spell at the captain's table, the nervous captain insisting on an exam by the medical officer. Spock knew that a hastily arranged transportation for a single high Vulcan diplomat leaving the Tieoneese Peace Conference early made the man very uneasy. The evasive answers of an emergency at home followed by Spock remaining in his quarters hadn't helped. So he had submitted to the exam.

Her thoroughness and professional manner had impressed him. Her concern, then curiosity, and finally frustration at not being able to make a diagnosis brought back shades of Leonard McCoy.

This older, 37 cytons past100, more relaxed Spock allowed the memories to flow through him, and he savored them. He had a long list of accomplishments to his name, and he was proud of them. But those days on the Enterprise with Jim and. the doctor were where he had known his greatest inner contentment and, yes, happiness. Only two things came close to that in his life now: his deepened relationship with Sarek since returning to Vulcan, and the closeness he shared with Sannen.

But this human doctor had complicated his life...

* * *

Genessa Marlow had been working in the ship's small lab all night. She was a licensed M.D., qualified to treat all the Federation humanoid races and several others as well. She had treated a Vulcan only once before, and there was certainly no similarity in this case. She knew she had reached a dead end, and the Ambassador's condition was not improving. His request for Zieobine really had her stumped. "...Why the hell should he want to paralyze himself?" She slammed the switches to shut off the lights and equipment and left the lab.

She entered the decontam-chamber just inside the door to the Ambassaador's suite. She did not feel it was necessary; whatever he had, wasn't contagious. But Captain Yolan was a nervous, frightened man, so she hadn't argued.

She emerged from the chamber to find the Ambassador awake and pacing. "How are you feeling, Ambassador?"

He stopped and faced her. "Dr. Marrlow, the time has come for you to admit that nothing can be done for me, to leave the Zieobine I requested, and to lock me in here until we reach Vulcan."

"Certainly you're not serious! Ambassador Spock, you know, and have known from the beginning, what the problem is. Yet you will not tell me. I have exhausted all my available knowledge and resources. The only choice left me is to contact Vulcan, explain your symptoms, and ask for their help."

Generations of Vulcan ancestry and over 100 years of command experience came into play. "I forbid you!"

Genessa, frustrated and tired, snapped back. "You what?" Then, stressing each word, she said, "I am in charge in this situation, Ambassador:"

Spock sighed. He knew the type. She would not acoept defeat. She would keep trying until she had an answer, even if it meant alerting all of Vulcan, and perhaps the galaxy, to his condition. "Please sit down, Doctor. This will take some time."

Dr. Marlow listened as the Ambassador explained. To her credit. she kept her composure and didn't interrupt. He finished by again asking for the Zieobine.

After several seconds of silence, she said, "I will need to think about this. Will you be all right for an hour or so?"

"I shall."

Her hour was up and had been for 15 minutes. She glanced around her quarters, and pictured his. She reaffirmed her first choice. It would be easier to move him here.

She helped the nurse push the medi-cart into the Ambassador's room. They were followed by two orderlies. When the still-pacing Ambassador raised an inquiring eyebrow, Genessa asked him to please follow instructions. When he threatened to disobey, she showed him the hypo and nodded her head in the direction of the orderlies.

When he was on the cart, which was covered with a porta-decontam unit, and his personnal belongins packed, Dr. Marlow and the nurse pushed the cart out of the room. He was quiet for the trip. Gen was sure he expected to be taken to Sickbay. He was settled in the bed and the nurse dismissed after being given several minutes of instructions.

The door had barely shut when he said "You will explain the meaning of this."

"Certainly, Ambassador. If you think I am going to let you die on a liner of which I am the chief medical officer, with no believable explanation to put on the death certificate, you are mistaken."

"Dr. Marlow, I told you that Vulcan will claim the body. There will be no trouble for you or this liner."

"No trouble! Ambassador, I have a report to file on every death. I have a Federation committee to satisfy. They will not accept death due to lack of a sexual partner and let it go at that." She thought he smiled slightly at that. "And what of my professional reputation, Ambassador? Do you suppose I could keep this job, which I happen to be very found of, or that I could get another? It took me eight years to work up to senior mediical officer on a liner this size. I have no intention of losing that."

"Doctor, am I to understand that you are volunteering yourself?"

"If that's what it takes to keep you alive, yes." Now she was pacing.

Spock shook his head. Humans! "You cannot. You have no idea of what you are proposing."

"Really, Ambassador."

This time he did suppress a smile by arching an eyebrow. "Actually, I shall become quite ... physical. You could be injured."

"Ambassador Spock, you have obviously been through this several times, and are not ... inexperienced. I believe you can summon the necessary control."

He tried another approach. "How will you explain your absence?"

"I've already taken care of that. My nurse will take over in Sickbay and knows how to reach me if an emergency arises. They think I'll be treating you for some rare conntagious Vulcan virus." As if on cue the orderlies arrived and began setting up the deconntam chamber. As they worked Genessa said, "If you'll excuse me, there are a few errands I must see to. I'll only be a few minutes."

She returned a quarter of an hour later to find the orderlies gone. She locked the door and activated the chamber. Then she began unpacking the contents of the parcels she had brought with her. He watched as she moved about the room with a sense of purrpose. She put away extra linen and towels and then arranged several small containers on a tray. Next she went to the tiny porta-kitchen and began stowing away food. Spock was sure she had familiarized herself with his vegetarian diet.

Spock continued to watch as Genessa took several things and went into the bedroom. It seemed she was determined to go through with this. Of course, he could stop her if he wished, but he knew he would not, and he knew why ...

* * *

The agony of his first pon farr, and what he had nearly done to Jim was still fresh, even after all these many years. His relief at finding Jim alive had made him determined that this situation would never happen again. The cold, hard, grasping look of T'Pring, and T'Pau's condescending attitude had left him bitter about all Vulcan for the time being, and had made Christine's watch and concern even more welcome. Since he was now free, he'd begun to give Christine's feelings for him serious consideration. She was in Starfleet and would be content to serve where his career took them. She cared for him, was mature and would accept him as he was. Even if his motives were not the best, he did take the time to explain, in utmost detail, what she could expect of a Vulcan marriage. Then he proposed to Christine. She accepted.

Within two months they took leave and he took her to Vulcan. His parents took the news well and his mother was delighted with Christine. Even his father, sensing Christine's apprehension, had gone out of his way to be friendly and kind. While they were on Vulcan, the pon farr returned. Spock had known that the shock of believing he had killed Jim had only temporarily aborted it. Christine was not afraid, and by her actions it became obvious what she and Amanda had spent so many hours discussing.

When they were ready to return to duty Sarek asked to speak privately with him. Sarek seemed uneasy, and Spock sensed an unusual reluctance -- almost embarrassment -- in his father's manner. Even when Sarek had explained pon farr, he had been mattter of fact.

"Spock, you mother and I regret what you experienced with T'Pring. We know now that she was not for you. You did well not to accept her, even as chattel."

Spock only nodded.

"Christine is a fine woman and I believe she will be an excellent, competent mate. But you must remember she is human." He cleared his throat. "Spock, she will need expressions of tenderness and caring that a Vulcan female would not. She will require physical attention at other times during the union, not just when you are in the fever."

Spock felt an inner amusement but he kept his face impassive. He thanked Sarek, and assured him that he would do his best to see that Christine's needs were not neglected.

Back on the Enterprise, Christine had been the wife he'd thought she would be: warm, caring and very undemanding. He decided that this last fact was the reason he was able to relax, and to give. They'd settled into a routine that he found very comfortable.

It had been Christine's practice to take shore leave when the occasion presented itself. When the chance came the first time after their marriage Christine said nothing, but stayed on the ship with him. She repeated that action two more times. When the next opportunity occurred, McCoy, armed for battle, made a point of speaking to him.

"Spock, she needs the diversion and relaxation."

To McCoy's surprise and disappointment, Spock agreed without argument.

The couple began spending their shore leaves off the ship. To Spock's own surprise, he found that he and Christine enjoyed many of the same pursuits. She had an interest in the connection between the art and religion of the cultures they visited. She even made notes and kept a log on the subject. He joined her in this and it led to long discussions which in turn led to other subjects, and the understanding and knowledge between them grew.

He did not share her love of the market places and bazaars, but he tolerated it and even joined her sometimes. Starfleet quarters did not allow space for gathering and collecting, but Christine did have a collection of miniature hand carved animals from many of the places she had visited. She kept them in a container in the closet. Spock began to frequent the bazaars with her more than usual. He was looking for something, which he found and managed to get aboard without her knowledge -- no mean feat, since it was an ornate curio cabinet, three meters wide and two meters high with plasti-glass doors. With Mr. Scott's help he attached a transistorized anti-grav to it so that any jarring of the ship would not disturb its contents. For extra precaution he used living-jel to afix each figurine to its place on the shelf. He removed the Vulcan tapestry from the cabin wall at the foot of their bed and with Jim's help, attached the cabinet. Christine entered just as they finished. The expression on her face told him how pleased she was, and when Jim left she allowed a few tears to escape. Then for the first time in almost five years of marriage, she went to him, and he held her.

After ten years together they decided to have a child. Unfortunately, it wasn't that easy. It was almost two years before Christine conceived, and then at three months she lost the child. A year and a half later the same thing happened, even though they had available to them all the latest techniques and drugs for maintaining a hybrid fetus.

It was almost two years later. McCoy's anxious voice calling him to Sickbay. Chrisstine lying there pale and unconscious.

"Spock, she's miscarried again." The look on Spock's face told him that he hadn't known about the pregnancy. He continued: "It's bad this time. She started hemorrhaging in the lab, and it was several minutes before she was discovered. Spock, she can't take this again."

He sat with her that whole night, thinking. The shock of almost losing her made him realize how much he did care for her. He held her hand and she knew he was there. Later, when she was better, they talked.

"Christine, my wife, we both know your body will not survive another miscarriage."

She turned her head away as the tears came. But she nodded in agreement.

Spock continued. "I plan to be sterilized."

Her head whipped around and her anger flashed. "And I suppose you call that Vulcan logic!" Her voice softened. "Spock, we have never talked about it, but we both know that you are going to outlive me by many decades, and that you will be required to take another mate. Your family and Vulcan needs the children. It is I who will be sterilized."

Then in one instant both Christine and Jim had been taken from him in that same space station accident. It had been almost more than he could bear. Somehow he kept up appearances. Duty carried him through the official details. He assumed temporary command because it was expedient, but inside he was crumbling. He had never suffered such a loss. He wanted to leave the Enterprise and retire to Vulcan. Only McCoy's agony and need kept him there. Then, at the doctor's urging, he had accepted permanent command and stayed on the Enterprise for the next eight years until Starfleet decommisssioned her in favor of the newer ships. She'd been Jim's ship; he couldn't have let anyone else have her.

At that time the doctor had retired to Earth and he had returned to Vulcan, the science academy, and to T'Pru. They had been married almost two years before. As the time neared he had asked Sarek to aid him in locating a wife. T'Pru was from an old family with excellent blood lines, but unfortunately, the family monies had been severely diminished by several years of unseasonable weather. Her family had welcomed the bonding of this young, childless widow to Sarek's half alien son, when under other circumstances they might not have been so receptive.

When he looked at it from her point of view, he couldn't blame T'Pru. His mistakes with her had been many. First, they had been married by proxy. He should have taken leave to be there in person. But he had again put duty before personal life. His tapes to her had been few and far between, and had contained no real personal information. His next mistake was probably the most severe. He had waited too long to start back to Vulcan. The results were a young, not very experienced, frightened female facing an older, half-alien, unknown husband already deep in the fever. And as if that weren't enough, he had gone to her with almost twenty years of marriage to Christine behind him. The results were disastrous. Her words would forever ring in his mind. "You will not subject me to those alien perversions." No bonding could possibly take place under such conditions. He'd thought seriously of divorce, but when it became known that she'd conceived, he abandoned the idea. They had settled into a routine. The joy of Sannen's birth, followed by a daughter and then another son made him feel he had made the right decision.

Now, thanks to the sudden onset of his always unpredictable cycle, the fever was upon him again with no chance of reaching Vulcan in time. He had resigned himself to the inevitable, when this human female offered him life. The thought of being so exposed and vulnerable before a stranger made him very uneasy, but the fact that she was a phyysician did help. He would accept. And if he were truly honest, he would have to admit that having a female who might do more than self-sacrificingly submit to him would be a welcome diversion ...

* * *

Spock watched as Genessa emerged from the bathroom and glanced around the room. Her shoulders slumped awkwardly as the purpose drained out of her. He could well imagine her problem. This was not how human romances progressed. Two people met and after some unspecified time, anywhere from ten minutes on, they would decide an attraction existed between them. The usual procedure to follow was an intimate dinner with conversation over the meal. A wine or some alcoholic beverage was consumed. Physical touching followed, perhaps in the form of dancing or walking in the dark. This led to more intimate caressing. Then, if both were agreeable, they proceeded to a private place where the caressing became more intense and almost always culminated in what they liked to refer to as the lovemaking act. Now there she stood in her nighttwear in these brightly lighted, almost antiseptic surroundings. She simply did not know what to do next.

"Is something the matter, Doctor?" He eyed her curiously from his sitting position in the bed.

"Ambassador, I do believe you are finding my predicament amusing. You know that I don't know what to do now."

"Really? You have seemed quite determined about your goal until now." His tone changed slightly as a startling thought occurred to him. "Perhaps you lack experience in this area?"

"No, Ambassador, it's not that ... well, maybe it is. This is not what I'm used to." A broad smile slid across her face as she seemed to relax. "I don't suppose it's exactly what you're used to either." She crossed to the side of the bed. "Since this is new for both of us, what do you suggest we do first?"

"I suggest we dispense with titles and use given names."

She agreed.

"Now if you would dim the lights."

She did.

When she was next to him in bed he continued. "There are some things you must understand. Because of the telepathy, a surface link must be established and will continue throughout. Does that trouble you?"

"No. Actually, I find the idea staggering."

He had her turn toward him and he placed his hands on her face and made contact. She exclaimed. "Do you feel pain?"

"No, I was just startled"

"Tell me what you do feel."

"I don't know if I can explain. A widening of the senses is as close as I can come."

"Not totally incorrect. It is an expanding of the perceptions."

"Do you feel it also?"

"Yes. What else?"

"A mixture of things I can't name. You are in control. I can feel that."

"Yes, but it will not last. I am grateful that we can be together while I can still maintain control. I hope this will make it easier for you to accept what will come later." Then to her complete and utter amazement, he reached over and kissed her...

* * *

Genessa woke with a start, sensing someone close to her. Then remembering, she relaxed and lay back, watching him sleep. He didn't look quite so dignified now, his graying hair all mussed and one arm flung over his head. She reflected on the night she had just been through. She had expected ... well, she wasn't sure what she'd expected. She knew Vulcan anatomy, so that was no surprise; and that they were touch telepaths. She had been disappointed there. He had kept the contact very superficial. She wasn't sure what he'd learned about her, but she hadn't learned much. Vague perceptions: his marriage wasn't all that happy ... as a doctor she would, of course, have taken precautions against pregnancy... She had. How were the council sessions proceeding? Her manner sometimes reminded him of another human doctor ...

One area had caused her some concern. She knew that when you got down to business all humanoids copulated in basically the same way. But the preliminaries could vary a great deal. Since she didn't know what Vulcan custom considered normal, she'd prepared herself for anything, but he had gone human on her. He'd later explained that his first mate had been human. If this was what she'd gotten herself into, it could be quite a couple of weeks.

Finally she could put it off no longer. He woke as she climbed unceremoniously over him. "Sorry, top priority." Naked, she darted across the room and disappeared into the bathroom. Several minutes later she came out wearing a towel and went to the kitchen. He was pacing again. "You want coffee or tea?"

"Neither."

Sipping from her steaming cup, she went to sit on the edge of the bed. "You're not going to fast this whole time, are you?"

"I shall not be able to eat until the most difficult time is past." He watched her. "Genessa, you are not taking me seriously when I tell you that in a short while I shall lose control."

Remembering the night past, she smiled.

"Genessa, Vulcans are not given to exaggeration. When I say a madness will descend on me, I mean it. You must be my contact with reality. If you become frightened and lost in my thoughts I will have nothing to anchor to."

All Genessa could do was promise to take this seriously. Finally he took the cup from her hand and placed it on the bedside table.

She did notice a difference in their lovemaking this time. She could sense something, swirling in the background. It reminded her of a river that appeared calm on the surface, but with powerful churning undercurrents. He was more aggressive, so Genessa matched his change in mood.

When Genessa woke again the chronometer on the table told her it was early afternoon.

This time she was on the outside, so she managed to get out of bed without waking Spock.

As she showered, she relaxed and thought, "This is going to work. He'll live, and no one will be the wiser." She smiled to herself as she remembered how stupid she had felt coming out of the bathroom just the day before. She had been so busy considering her professional reputation, she had forgotten about the personal side of the matter. She knew that if he had died and Vulcan had quietly taken the body, that would have left a hole in the reports you could drive a herd of gananzos through. There would have been an investigation. The news services would have gotten hold of it; she could see the headlines, hinting at cover-ups, foul play, suicide, political intrigue. Now she would not have to worry about that.

Clean body, teeth and a fresh gown did wonders for her. She was just running a comb through her hair when she heard Spock shouting her name. Panicky, she jerked open the door and ran smack into him. He grabbed her by the arms and lifted her off the floor to meet his rage. "You will not leave this room without my permission!" He turned, took two giant strides, and threw her onto the bed.

Genessa was so dumbfounded she was speechless. Even if her voice could find words, she knew there was no reaching him. He tore the gown from her and it bit into her skin where the bindings refused to give. With a final jerk it gave way and he threw it aside. Then he was on her with such force that despite herself, she began to cry and moan in pain. Every part of his body was a weapon being used against her.

She was drawn into his mind. It was as if her own perceptions were operating on two different levels: one along with her body as an active partner in the action, and the other outside watching, almost intrigued. She wasn't even sure where the pain was originating. There were no coherent thoughts in the whirl of emotions, only impressions. Her body had soon learned what was normal for Vulcans, and it wasn't the way that was painful, but his attitude and violence. She couldn't focus a single thought of her own; she was swept along wherever his mind took them. Savage fury exploded: "Black-haired bitch! I should kill you for what you nearly made me do! I should snap your neck and rid Vulcan of you for good!" Genessa felt the hand on her neck and screamed.

She wasn't Genessa any more, just some mindless mannequin to be used to play out the roles his mind created.

He collapsed on her, but not for long. Within a few minutes he had a complete change of mood. Genessa's hurting mind and body could only be thankful as she was caught up in this new scene. With the pace slowed and she could perceive this scene a little more clearly. She realized he wasn't seeing her at all. A different figure took form in their mind. This one was human and he was excited by the light skin and blond hair. He was tender and gentle because this female knew what to do and how to respond. She always made this time more bearable. But Genessa wasn't responding. Frustration was building, erupting into anger. The mental picture changed, she was dark haired and Vulcan again. Woman, you were trained for this, you know how to respond ! Do more than just lie there!

Genessa had no concept of time or space as these scenes repeated and repeated. She could only be grateful when he thought of her as the blond human and not the others. One time she tried to maintain that image when it began to change in their minds, but her mental abilities were no match for his.

Then, slowly, the mental stage darkened and faded. Their minds began to untangle and retreat to their own areas. They fell into the same fitful sleep.

Some time later Genessa woke, her body throbbing with pain. She dared not move for fear of waking him. She was bruised and sore, and sure there was some minor internal bleeding. She had to do something. Ever so gently she shook him and called his name. After several minutes he came awake and Genessa miserably knew it was no use. This time the pain of intercourse was unbearable. She screamed and all her anger spilled out as she fought him.

Somehow this must have gotten through because he began calling her name. "Genessa? Genessa, where were you? You were to be the control, remember? You were not to become lost in my thoughts."

"My God! That's what you meant. Be the anchor." She had forgotten, and ridden the waves of madness instead. It was her own fault for not taking his warnings seriously. She began to cry in pain and anger at herself. "...some scientist and physician I am!"

He was calling to her again. "Genessa, you are injured, bleeding. I can help." He clasped her by the shoulders. "Listen to me. This time, listen. Relax, take slow, deep breaths, that's correct." She felt him deeper in her mind and did as he ordered. Every time she threatened to give in to the pain he controlled the impulse. After a time she felt as if she were floating far above the pain. She was back on the beach near her father's house where she spent summers with him and her stepmother. She lay on the surf board, the sun hot on her back and savored the sensations. It was so peaceful and the sea so calm. She just drifted with the waves. It felt soooooo good. "Genessa. Genessa." Someone was calling.

"Go away, leave me alone."

"Genessa, come back. You are going too far. We will both be lost."

"Both? Dad, is that you?"

"Genessa, I am Spock. Come back to reality. You must remember or we are both lost."

"Spock? Do I know you?"

There was more urgency in his thoughts now. "You are Dr. Genessa Marlow, chief medical officer of the liner Oberon. You must remember!"

Their minds struggled. Hers retreating to that peaceful, warm, painless yesterday and his pulling toward cold, harsh, reality. Again his mental superiority prevailed. "You must. Now!"

Sluggishly she began to remember who and where she was, and the pain. "No!" But the pain was not as bad as she remembered, the throbbing was now a dull ache. Picking through the haze in her mind her head began to clear. Her anger was gone, at him and at herself. Now she knew what he needed, what all Vulcan males needed at this time. "I'm so sorry. I was no help to you at all."

"Genessa, I live. Without you that would not have been possible."

She slept for several hours. She woke to find him staring uncomprehendingly at her, but she felt no fear. "Spock, I am Genessa, I am a human. I have physical needs. As a human, I must eat, and drink, and relieve myself. Do you understand?" He only nodded. She inched her way over him and out of bed. "I am going to the bathroom, but I'll be back." He did not take his eyes off her, but neither did he stop her...

In the shower she turned the sonics on low, letting the vibrations console and soothe her aching body. She heard a noise and he was there. She reached out and took his hand, and perceived his fury. Quickly she guided him in beside her and turned the sonics even lower. She hoped it would have a calming effect on him. He let himself be led. She slipped her arms around him; he was tense and tight. "Let the sonics soothe you." Surprised at her own calmness, she kept her mind where it should be ...

* * *

Spock looked up as Genessa came through the chamber shaking her head. "Nothing serious, I trust?"

"No, not serious. Just one very miserable being. We get at least one every trip. For a few credits they get the customs officer to overlook a few minor omissions on the inoculations chart. Now the stupid ass will spend the next few days suffering through the Oreana Revenge. If he's lucky the vomiting will stop in 24 hours." She noticed that he had the desk top covered with papers. "Did you get much accomplished while I was gone?"

"No. I still not have the powers of concentration needed for this work."

She ambled about the room, absently touching the stacks of books and papers that lay here and there.

"Genessa, your medical work aboard this liner cannot require your attention full time. How do you spend your leisure time?"

"Research. I'm usually in the lab."

"Dr. G. T. Marlow?"

She nodded.

"I did not make the connection. It was your primary research that led to the correlation between the Regulan disease Sathuia and the Hobation myanthia, and the eventual discovery of a cure."

"How does a diplomat know so much about medicine?"

"I have not always been a diplomat. My initial training was in science."He was curious. "It is the liner's policy to provide you with a fully equipped lab, and reap the benefits through free publicity?"

"Exactly, Ambassador."

"Why are you not giving you full attention to research?"

"I don't like being planet bound."

"Have you ever considered Starfleet?"

"No! I'm too undisciplined and impulsive."

He silently agreed with her. "You should be doing research full time."

She shrugged. "Maybe someday I'll quit running away and settle down."

"Running away?"

"Yes, running away. After my husband died I couldn't seem to settle down, so I ran." As she talked she remembered how much agonizing she had gone through at that time. "I was really torn with that decision. Jerry wanted so much to go, but our daughter Gee was so young. The climate on Argenta made taking her out of the question. My sister begged me to leave Gee with her, but for six whole months? I suggested staying home, but they wanted Marlow and Marlow, M.D.s. So in the end I gave in... If I hadn't, he might still be alive ... Anyway, Gee now lives with my sister, her husband and their son, and my mother is close by. They make it very convenient for me to keep avoiding my responsibility..."

* * *

Genessa woke that last morning with a strange sense of emptiness. The Oberon would be docking in less than three hours. Neither she or Spock had much to say. He was arranging papers, so she started packing his personal belongings. That finished, she turned to face him. "Spock, there is no use spending the next two and a half hours this way. I have so much to say, yet I can't put words to any of it. I don't like goodbyes. If you don't mind, I'll go to the lab and not come back till you're gone."

"I have no objections, but I do with to say something. Thank you, Genessa, and may you live long and prosper."

She stopped at the door and turned. "Peace and long life be with you, Ambassador." He nodded and she went through the door.

Thank God things were always hectic before a docking. Genessa was busy: until about 30 minutes after they made port. Then she went into her lab. It was no use, she couldn't concentrate. But she couldn't go back to her quarters, not yet. The liner would be leaving orbit soon. They never stopped long at Vulcan. She would be glad to get away from here, to one of the more populated ports with lots of new passengers and distractions.

After contacting the maintenance people and ordering a complete cleaning job on her quarters, she confiscated a newly vacated cabin. She kept telling herself that time and work would take care of her feelings. Finally she swallowed two pills and slept.

She went to her quarters the next morning for fresh clothes. It looked so different, yet it hadn't changed. She gave herself a stiff lecture. "...Genessa, you will not be foolish about this. He is an Ambassador, and more than that, he is a Vulcan with a wife and children. You will never see him again. Now you will stop being stupid and get on with your life." She cleaned and rearranged every cabinet in the lab and Sickkbay. And when one of the regulars on the Orion-Deneb run asked her to dinner, she went.

After several comments from crew members about her more relaxed, easy going self, Genessa was forced to attempt to analyze this new-found sense of security. She drudged up deeply buried memories and found that they no longer contained the old hurt.

Genessa and Rita, younger by two years, had had a safe, secure, indulged childhood, spoiled and pampered by doting parents. Then upheaval and betrayal in their early teens, with months of fighting that eventually climaxed in a messy divorce. Then more betraayal, with her father's immediate remarriage after repeated denials of involvement with the woman.

Different from Rita, Genessa had responded to confusing and conflicting pleas from each parent by retreating from both. She had sought comfort in safe things like texttbooks and learning. She'd schooled herself in new ways.

The situation had settled down after a time and the three adults had tried to work together for the girls' benefit. But Genessa had changed. She no longer trusted.

She thought she had gained some of the trust back with Jerry. He was devoted to his research work, but not to the exclusion of a well balanced life. He had drawn her out and taught her to enjoy life and relax to the point of breaking her long ago made vow against marriage and children.

Then the heartache of his death, followed by working day and night to complete their assignment by the contracted deadline or lose both their salaries by default. She was numb on the long trip home with his body, and the belated funeral was anti-climatic.

She'd tried to fit herself into the established family, but quickly learned that wouldn't work. The old wounds between her and her mother reopened and the rivalries with Rita began surfacing. Seeing the baby she had left, now a toddler, calling Rita Mommy, destroyed everything the four years with Jerry had built. Logically, rationally, she'd known these events were not a conscious rejection of her, but she had fled.

Now the hurt was gone. She no longer felt the need to isolate herself in the lab and use her work as an insulation between herself and others. She spent many hours in deep thought on this subject ...

* * *

Genessa paced her quarters, uneasy. A knock at the door, and she ran to open it. Ambassador Spock came in as Genessa stared at him, trembling.

"Genessa, what is the matter?"

"I knew you would come. I felt you here. It's so strange. I have had these feellings, odd sensations for days now. They started before we docked at Hope's New World. I kept feeling your presence. Today it became more intense. Then after we left orbit, Mara asked if I had heard about the Vulcan on board. She didn't know a name, but I knew. I knew you were here and that you would come. I don't understand."

"It is not so strange, Genessa. There exists a bond between us."

"Bond? But you have a bondmate. I don't see how..."

"T'Pru and I do not share a true bonding. It is a marriage of convenience only."

"Then that explains why I have been feeling less alone and less alienated."

He nodded.

"You are experiencing it also. That's why you came, isn't it?"

"Yes, it took me several weeks to correlate the sensation with a bonding. I was connecting a bonding to the ceremony which we did not have. I forgot that a bonding can occur without ritual."

"But what will happen? Will your wife know?"

"If she doesn't now, she will within the next several years." She was obviously puzzled. "The pon farr. When I do not return to her ... Genessa, she can count."

Understanding flashed across her face for a second then changed to anxiety. "Spock, what will she do?"

"Nothing."

"How can you be sure?"

"There is nothing she can do."

"Nothing?"

"Genessa, the time for action is long past on both our parts. After our first mating we both knew that a true bonding had not been achieved. At that time either one of us could have taken action. Since we didn't, we now have no recourse."

"Why didn't you?"

"She was with child."

"I don't understand. I thought these bondings didn't allow for mistakes."

"Genessa, you are talking about the ideal type, which all societies strive for. Unfortunately, that is impossible to achieve. With all the preparations and precautions, about 4.3 per cent of the matings do not result in a true bonding. At that time the couple has options and traditional recourse."

"But they don't use it?"

"Actually only about one in five choose to exercise these options. The rest prefer to stay with the marriage."

"Why?"

"Once an adult, the available choice of mates narrows severely. Chances of doing better a second time are not high, although statistics show that more and more young people are not satisfied to remain with the unbonded marriage."

Genessa was trying to sort this out. "So you are legally joined to her but there is no bonding. Isn't there some risk in having a certain percent of the population running around unbonded?"

"I think, in view of our present situation, the answer is obvious."

"What about her? Would she..."

"No. she would not risk her social position." Memories of that night so many years ago slipped uninvited into his mind. T'Pru had come into his room after an official gathering they had attended together. He knew she had been aware of the eye contact that T'Lar had kept trying to engage him in throughout the evening. He listened without comment as she assured him that he would never have to be concerned that her conduct would disgrace either of their families. She droned on about how unsettling it was not to be secure that the same thing could be said for his behavior. Finally when he'd had enough, a look silenced her and she left the room. He knew this was her way of reminding him that she was his legal wife. and intended to remain so.

Genessa asked, "What choices do we have?"

"This bonding can be broken. But I prefer not to do that. I have given a great deal of thought to this. Under the right circumstances, T'Pru can be convinced to free me."

"I thought you said there was nothing either of you could do."

"There are always ways. It will not be easy and will take time. But if you are willing, when it is over, we can go home. I can have you with me and I can go back to my laboratory and the pursuits I prefer."

"And what of your work? Spock, I have been doing a lot of investigating since you left. I know how important the work you're doing is. This is a critical time for the Federation."

"It is always a critical tIme for the Federation." She didn't like the lassitude about him. "Genessa, have you any idea how weary I am of being an Ambassador? For every treaaty we successfully negotiate, there is an ever growing list that needs attention, and almost constant traveling. Instead of being able to teach my grandchildren in the traditional ways, I must delegate that duty and be content to simply oversee their training. I have seen none of my grandchildren through their Kahs'wans. I am ready to retire and let someone else do this work."

"No one else has your special qualifications. Your mixed ancestry, your father' s work before you, your career and contacts from Starfleet ... Spock, planet governments request you. You have an in where others do not. By your eyebrow, I would guess you've heard this lecture before."

"Yes, from my father."

"Well, it's true, and I can't live with the guilt of your having to give that up."

"You would have us break the bonding?"

"I didn't say that!"

A compromise then. What do you have in mind?"

"I'm not sure yet. I need time to think. I will need to stay with the liner until my contract expires."

"Genessa, your way would mean you would never be my legal consort. I could never acknowledge you in public."

"I don't care about that. Could we stay together without notoriety? Would those close to you keep your secret?"

"If they wish me to continue my work, they will see the logic in it."

* * *

Anne fussed with her hair. After almost an hour styling it, she still couldn't get it to her liking. She had noticed while in the restaurant with Sannen, that all the Vulcan women were wearing theirs up. She was determined that this dinner would go well, no more social disgraces like this afternoon. She flushed as she remembered her second blunder in so short a time. She wouldn't have blamed him if he had rescinded his dinner invitation after that. And there wasn't really any need for her being so simple-minded. She could have asked him outright if he were married, instead of trying to be coy by saying, "Will your wife be joining us?"

It had seemed like such a very long time before he answered, "My bondmate died just over two years ago."

She finally gave up in exasperation and slipped into her dress. It was all wrong, too; how she wished she had brought the pale blue one. The audio buzzer put an end to her fretting.



They were seated in the restaurant before any real conversation got under way. She started to address him as Mr. Sannen again.

"Ms. Jensen, would you mind dispensing with the Mister and just addressing me as Sannen?"

"No. Of course not. Was it wrong?"

"My given name is Sannen. The family name is one you could not pronounce without much practice at forming your mouth in a manner to which you are not accustomed."

The mental image of him tryying to teach her made her smile to herself. "I'll call you Sannen, if you'll call me Anne."

"I shall, Anne."

The waiter came to take their order. "Sannen, would you order for me? The tape I brought to study on the way here didn't tell me about the names; I had better not risk ordering for myself."

When the order was given, he said, "You actually purchased a tape on Vulcan?"

"Yes. This is my first vacation in a very long time, and I was determined to be a typical tourist."

"On Vulcan? That is hardly likely."

"So I have noticed."

Their food came and they began eating. Anne waited for more conversation, but he said nothing. After several minutes she was about to ask a question when some inner sense caused her to hesitate and look around the room. The parties without food on the table were engaged in quiet conversation, but those already eating were silent. Sannen noticed her scanning the room. He said in a soft voice, "It is a Vulcan custom to observe silence throughout the meal."

She relaxed. It wasn't something she had done.. She began to eat. There was one item on her plate she did not like the taste of. Sannen noticed her toying with it. "Anne, if there is something you do not find pleasing, do not feel you must eat it."

"Vulcans do not approve of waste. That I did learn from the tape."

"Vulcans and I do not approve of a newcomer becoming ill or uncomfortable."

It was dark when they emerged from the restaurant. Soft glow lights illuminated the streets and it was warm with very little breeze. Anne was in no hurry to end this evening and be alone in her sterile hotel room. "Is it too far to walk?"

"I do not believe so." He indicated the direction and they began walking. "You find the hotel comfortable?"

"No, I don't. Since I won't be leaving for another week, I was going to ask if you might recommend something local."

"The service is unacceptable?"

"No, the service is fine. But the hotel is so blah. I paint, and I guess it offends the artist in me." She laughed nervously at that last remark.

"There is only a limited number of such places. If you wish, I will escort you tomorrow."

"If it's no trouble, I would appreciate it."

They spent the next morning locating a suitable dwelling. It was a bed/sitting room, but the equipped kitchen attracted her. When her meager belongings were unpacked he took her to the market to show her how to purchase the food stuffs she would need. She found many recognizable items among the exotic.

As they were selecting what she would purchase she asked if in gratitude she might prepare him lunch. He agreed, but Anne felt he was just being polite. Anne prepared a rice/cheese casserole, a leftover recipe from lean college days, and he ate without comment. Noting her supplies, he suggested several places nearby she might find interesting to paint, then wishing her an enjoyable visit, he left.

Anne felt depressed while she cleaned up the room. To keep from becoming more so, she grabbed her sketch pad and went out.. She returned several hours later, her pad still fresh, wishing she was leaving tomorrow instead of in six days. She finished the casserole and sat outside for a while. Then not knowing what else to do, she went to bed. After tossing for a couple of hours she got up and began sketching. It was almost dawn when she fell asleep.

* * *

Sannen left Anne's intending to go back to the Academy and work. Instead, he found himself landing the aircar and walking to that same rise in the terrain he had shared with Spock almost a year ago. Something his father had said that day kept gnawing at him. I went to live among humans to learn to deal with my humanity ... something gou have get to do ...

What did it mean to be part human? He was Vulcan. When he compared himself with other Vulcans he could find no differences. He looked no different, behaved no different, was physiologically and biologically the same. Certainly by training and socialization he was Vulcan. His grandmother was a human, but the only thing her humanity had meant to him was that she looked different. In everything else, she had seemed Vulcan. As a youth, an illness had been complicated by his human factor, but he had been told of this later. At the time it had made no impression. He'd simply been ill.

Was it simply his newly aroused curiosity about his own humanity and humans in general? Did he feel the need to prove he was not troubled by it? He had originally wanted to apologize for his rudeness. Her abrupt visit had surprised him. Their conversation had been unfinished when he'd had to leave, so he'd invited her to dinner. The offer to help in seeking new living arrangements was only common courtesy. But, now what? She would be here another six days. And he wanted to see her again.

Would he have been as helpful and polite if Genessa's greatgrandson had appeared? He thought not. He had met other humans, and had not encountered these sensations, or been driven to such mind searching. It must be her.

* * *

The forceful knocking on the door finally aroused Anne. Bleary eyed, she fumbled her way to the door and opened it. There he stood. She came fully awake. "Oh, please, just a minute." She ran for her robe. "Come in." He stepped just inside the door. Anne rambled, trying to fill the silence. "I'm usually up long before this, but I was drawing until very late." They both looked down at the sketches in varying stages of completion scattered allover the floor. They were all of him. Embarrassed, Anne turned away.

Whatever Sannen was thinking, it wasn't reflected in his calm voice. "I find that I can manage a few days of free time. I thought perhaps you might be interested in viewing some of the sights Vulcan has to offer."

"Oh, yes." She turned back to face him. "I would like that."

"I shall wait for you outdoors." He turned and left.

Anne scrambled to find something suitable to wear. Twenty minutes later, in her basic traveling outfit, she went out to meet him.

"I thought you might find the art museum interesting."

They walked slowly through the corridors and he explained in great detail about the artist and history of each section and sometimes each piece. They had lunch and continued the tour throughout the afternoon. Anne understood little of what he told her, but was struck by the way the artists had captured multiple ideas and sensations in their scenes, rather than a single theme.

At dinner he told her about a concert. They went, and Anne found the music different from anything she had ever heard. But she experienced that same sense of being deluged with several concepts, feelings, emotions at the same time.

She also noticed that all the instruments in the orchestra consisted of various string or percussion instruments. There were no woodwinds or brass.

Afterwards, over juice, they discussed the day and he suggested they visit a diffferent museum tomorrow.

The Vulcan Museum of Natural History was set logically, in Eras. This Anne found easier to follow. They were soon deep in conversation comparing the particulars that their evolutionary histories shared and the ones they did not. Anne found the earlier epochs the. most astonishing. They spent most of the day there. She had not known the basic evolutionary stock to be different, but with so different a geological history, it made sense.

That evening Sannen had made still other plans. This time it was a play of sorts. A reading was interpreted by several actors wearing colorless robes in some kind of pantomime. The lighting was very subdued and Anne had no idea of what was going on. About one hour into it, Sannen noticed her stifle a yawn. At intermission, they left. Anne tried to apologize.

"Anne, it is I who was at fault. I did not think. Muctinnx cannot be understood easily, especially without knowledge of the language."

As they walked they again fell into a discussion of the evolutionary differences between their races. "An exciting discovery was made in the desert to the north last year. A city was uncovered, and because of the climate the artifacts are all well preserved. There is speculatIon of it being one of the first permanent settlements." He asked if she might like to visit there. She would, so they planned a two-day trip.

They said goodnight at her room and as she closed the door she again marveled at the absence of the need for locks.

They arrived at the site later than they'd expected. They had lost several hours outfitting Anne with proper garments. Sannen would not allow her to go into the desert without them. He had brought several articles of clothing for her with him, and some did fit, but there were no boots she could wear. "Anne, in the desert they are most important." They had purchased a pair.

They stepped from the aircar into the midday heat. Sannen insisted Anne pull on the hood with its sun-shaded face plate. She felt silly and confined in it, but when he did the same, she resigned herself to wearing it.

Sannen explained that this was school holiday time and that accounted for the absence of students working and studying here. He was also reminded of his family's displeasure at his being away at this time.

As they walked toward the site Anne looked around. Curious, she asked, "Sannen, is it just allowed to sit here where anyone can get in? No guards or force field?"

They found an elderly gentlebeing, one of a few here at this time. Sannen knew him and introduced Anne. Anne thought he seemed somewhat pleased with the company and innterest. He conducted them on an extensive tour and explained everything in great detail. Then he invited them to join him in the evening meal and even offered them shelter for the night.

Sannen declined saying they had planned to walk to the edge of the dry inland sea bed and camp there.

The hike was not difficult even with the light pack Anne carried. She followed Sannen's directions and they set up camp. Soon he had a fire going in a small stove. As he made some tea he explained that there were more modern apparatus available but this stove had belonged to his father.

Later, they sat close and watched the night sky. "If Vulcan has no moon, then there are no tides," she thought aloud.

"Anne, Vulcan has no oceans. We have inland seas, the remains of which we are camped next to." He pointed to the huge depression in front of them.

She spent several minutes studying the area. "Do Vulcans give names and powers to the stars, as humans did?"

"The ancients did. But with knowledge these beliefs fell away." He moved closer and pointed out several stars, a few of which she was familiar with. Anne found herself thinking that if he were human, she could guess his next move: to pull her into his arms and kiss her. But he wasn't human. Damn!

The next morning they began climbing the sandy cliffs to where yet another site had been discovered only a few months ago. This was thought to be a temple, perhaps for the city below. Though the incline was not steep Anne was finding the climb difficult.

When she fell to her knees for the second time, he said, "Anne, we shall turn back. I should have realized that you have not been here long enough to adjust to the atmosphere. The air is much too thin for you at this altitude. We should not have attempted this."

Anne was gasping for breath. "No, I want to see it."

"There will be very little to see at this time. The excavation began only last month."

"We've come ... this far ... let's go on."

"We will rest here and then start back." He acted as if he hadn't heard her. She took the water he offered. She wanted to argue with his tyrannical attitude, but was too weak just yet. When she caught her breath, she said:

"Don't I have anything to say about this?"

He eyed her, obviously perplexed. "I cannot permit you to do something you are not physically fit for."

"Do you expect me to obey like some child?"

"Obey? What has obedience to do with this situation? It is illogical to continue in an action that can only result in your becoming ill." And he decided when she was ready to start down.

As she stumbled toward their camp, she wondered if all Vulcans were like this. And his father? How had Genessa coped with this attitude?

Back at camp he insisted she rest. Within a few minutes she was asleep. When she awoke, he had a light supper prepared for them. They ate in silence. But as he was cleaning up, he said, "As a human, how would I have behaved in this situation?"

Anne smiled at the implication that he, too, had been thinking about the incident. She tried to picture one of her friends. "First, you would have asked how I felt and what I thought we should do."

"By your actions, your condition was obvious. It did not occur to me that you would consider continuing. I thought perhaps you were doing it for my sake."

Anne laughed. "You've made your point. We are each expecting the other to react by our own standards."

The next morning they broke camp and were back in the city by midday. He left her to clean up and rest, saying he had errands to do and would be back to take her to dinner. Anne took a shower and a nap.

When Anne did not answer the door, Sannen let himself in. He watched her sleep for several minutes. The trip had exhausted her. He decided not to wake her. He located her sketch pad and started a note. He was amused at himself. He had been raised with Earthlish as a second language, and used it much in speaking, but it had been a.long time since he'd had the opportunity to write it. It took him several minutes to write the short note, then out of habit he signed his name in Vulcan.

When Anne woke the darkness startled her. She scrambled to turn on the light and found the note. Disappointment mixed with weariness flooded her; she went back to bed.

She woke stiff and sore as the heat of the room was already becoming uncomfortable. She packed what she could and cleaned the room. .Then she worked on the sketches of Sannen until it was time to dress for dinner.

It was their last evening. Early the next morning her starliner would leave orbit. They went to dinner at the same place he had taken her that first night. They were both quiet as they walked. Back at her apartment, he stepped inside. "Anne, I had hoped to take you to the space port myself, but I find I have an early morning appointment I cannnot postpone. Therefore, I have made arrangements for your transportation." The disapppointment showed in her face. "If I can manage it, I shall be there before you leave orbit."

"I understand." She began trying to thank him for all the kindness he had shown her and to express how much she had enjoyed herself. "Sannen, I have spent these last five days learning some of your customs. With your indulgence I will teach you one of mine. This is a very special way to say thank you." She stood on tiptoe, and kissed him lighttly on the lips.

"That is the human custom of kissing?"

"Yes. You disapprove?"

"It is not my place to judge. I am not sure I even understand its significance."

"Well, let me try to explain. Since Vulcans are touch telepaths, I would assume you could use that power to convey all degrees of meaning."

"True."

"We don't have that power. So we must use touch differently. Let me illustrate. Picture two humans who have just spent the evening together. He takes her home. Now a good night kiss is an old custom, so he kisses her. Try it." After a slight hesitaation, he touched his lips to hers. She simply stood there and allowed it. "Now, tell me what that kiss told you."

"Very little."

"Did I enjoy the evening and you?"

"I think not."

"Now do it again." This time she turned her head.

"Definitely not," was his response.

"Again." This time she moved forward in anticipation of the kiss, and when he was about to pull back she moved toward him, prolonging it an instant longer.

When they moved apart he said, "I understand. A multitude of sensations may be expressed with the varying of that one action."

"Yes. Of course, there are no set rules for this. Some humans allow intimate behavior with less provocation than others. I like to think of myself as very selective."

He pondered that. "I believe the proper response is to thank you."

He began to move toward the door, and Anne resigned herself to his leaving. He wished her a safe trip and said, "Anne, I also have found your company informative ... and pleasurable."

Impulsively she kissed him again, this time slipping her arms around him, and pulled him to her. Caught off guard, his mental barriers were down, but he felt no invasion. She was not a telepath; her mind did not search his out. That fear gone, he began to concentrate on her actions. It was not as unpleasant as he had always imagined. There was no mental clutching. The surface thoughts she radiated were a mixture of fear of rejection, not wanting him to leave, fascination at the feel of his warmer body.

She finally moved away when he didn't return the kiss. "I'm sorry."

"Do not be. I ..." Probably for the first time, Sannen gave in to an impulse. He drew her to him. She felt so small and delicate. His hands moved from her arms to carress her bare shoulders and back. How cool her skin was. She moved her head in a slight way that intensified the kiss. He had always imagined that this kind of prolonged conntact would be a terrible mental strain. He quickly learned that his simplest, primary disciplines kept him from projecting any thoughts or from receiving any of her. Puzzled, he found that he was beginning to receive sensations, but they were not mental. She had parted his lips with her tongue and when his touched hers, excitement shot through both of them, and her sucked in breath almost took his away.

Then to his complete amazement, he knew his body was beginning to respond. How could this be? He was not in the fever. From deep in the recesses of his mind something Spock had said to him so many years ago, just before the onset of his first pon farr, came back to him: that he might find himself able to become sexually aroused at times other than in the fever. The very idea had astounded him; he had thought his father surely mistaken. But as the years and closeness between him and T'Min had grown, there had been occasions when, although it hadn't happened, he was sure that if he had allowed himself to linger on such thoughts, it could have.

With the slightest nudge the shoulder strap slipped down. She was wearing no under garment; the construction of the dress and her body required none.

He knew he should put a stop to this. He had no idea what the consequences might be. But his body continued to respond to her touch and movements. Then she began to murmur his name as she buried her face in his neck. Control was slipping as the ancient drives began to surface; instinct would rule... He summoned back the control. She was young and not experienced in Vulcan ways. And they had bumped heads over cultural differences several times already. She had shown that she could be the aggressor. He would let her lead.

Later, much later, as he lay with her curled next to him, he tried to organize his thoughts. Was this the relationship his grandparents had shared? As a youngster, he had known that Sarek and Amanda shared a bed much oftener than the cycle required, much to his mother's distaste. And on his one trip with ais father, he couldn't help but know that Spock and Genessa slept together.

Dawn would soon be on them. These thoughts would have to wait. He slipped out of bed.

Anne stirred as he gently shook her. "It is time you were up."

She stretched and moaned. "There should be a law that no space liner may leave port before noon. This is barbaric." Slowly she sat up and then forced herself out of bed.

Sannen watched her. "I have noticed that you do not green the new day with relish."

She regarded him with a mild disgust. "And I have noticed that you regard the new day with too much relish."

He made tea and brought her a cup. "Thank you."

As she sipped the tea, he said, "When will you arrive back on Earth?"

"Not for almost six weeks. I came directly here, but I'm taking the scenic route home. Why?"

"Lately I have been considering a trip to Earth. Would you find it inconvenient to act as my guide?"

Anne smiled. "No, I would not find it inconvenient at all."

"It would not complicate your life in any way?"

"No, I would enjoy returning the favor."

"Then, until we meet again, Anne, live long and prosper." He closed the door and was gone.

THE END