Disclaimer: Star Trek is the property of Paramount/Viacom. This story is the property of and is copyright (c) 1980 by Lois Welling. Originally published in R&R #12, Johanna Cantor editor. Rated R. Editor's note: In "My Word, Now Given," Sannen is Spock's son by his second marriage. Anne, the human he loves, is the great granddaughter of Genessa Marlowe, the human woman Spock loved for nearly 80 years. Spock and Genessa's story, and how Sannen and Anne met after their deaths, is told in "The Lytherette." by Lois Welling, in R&R IX.
My Word, Now Given
His farewells said the night before, Sannen left the house early and without ceremony. The news presented him on completion of his physical examination had given him much to consider. He would go to a place where he would be undisturbed and his thoughts uninterrupted.
The desert was always calming and peaceful: this isolated place where Spock had died, where his ashes had been mixed with the sand and the wind, thus returned to the elements.
Father, I would speak with you. I have unexpected news and my mind is troubled. It is finished. I am free of the fever. The healers have confirmed it. Never again to dread the nearing of the time ... My duty is done. My life within my own control and at an age much younger than the norm. Perhaps that is the cause of the growing restlessness within me. That life which was, no longer satisfies. I reach out ... to a new career ... to a young human female ... Father, is it not insane? Selfish? Certainly unVulcan ... I am 115 years old. The time left me stretches ahead -- endlessly. To just exist through it... But to consider traveling the galaxy and marriage to a human female -- a willful, independent, undisciplined female ... The emotionalism she has awakened in me is against all I have been taught and have valued in my life... From our very first meeting she seemed to fling out an unspoken challenge. I am alive, she said, vital, anxious for new adventures. In comparison the sameness of my own routine seemed intolerable. But, why her? Why an unpredictable human female? Life is never dull, I heard you say this about Genessa and once Sarek said it of Amanda. Is this the attraction they hold? The rigid control we maintain -- are we drawn to their emotionalism like a moth to the flame? For I am drawn to her, to Anne ... Her spontaneity, the excitement of being with her, so different from anything I have ever experienced. After she left my life seemed doubly dull ... Why am I not content to spend my final years in study and research? Unknown. But, I am not. I wish more. I shall have more. My decision is made. Father, wish me well.
* * *
Sannen entered the conference room of the family corporation. As chairman of the board one of his duties was to prepare the computers for these yearly meetings. Under Sarek and Spock's leadership, with their off-world connections, the business had grown and diversified. Profits were vast and providing for the ever expanding family was not a problem.
He began organizing the information, then stopped. Reverse the arrangement, he told himself, and keep this until last.
While he worked, his children and their mates entered the room. They spoke in low tones as they found their places. Sannen allowed himself a sense of pride as he surveyed his offspring. Four children, grown and well adjusted in both their marriages and their professions; could one ask for more? Yet, of late he had begun to wonder if they were perhaps too complacent. No, he decided, it was just his own new-found restlessness that caused these questions to surface.
His attention was drawn to the door as his brother Seath and his family arrived from Leyshon. Kinfolk greeted kinfolk as the newcomers moved to fill eight of the remaining chairs around the table.
T'Pru entered and all paid tribute to her as matriarch of the clan. She accepted this respect as she silently took her place at the right of Sannen's head-table position. As decreed by Spock, Sannen was in charge of the business interests and T'Pru had no real voting authority in these matters, but out of courtesy Sannen allowed his mother as much input as she cared to give.
Finally, everyone was seated and the meeting came to order. Sannen engaged the computer and reports appeared on the individual viewers. Three hours passed as business talk flowed. Recommendations were presented on each item, discussion followed, then voting. As usual, all went smoothly. With these matters settled, Sannen produced the last item of business. As the screens glowed with this new information, low murmurs stirred around the room.
He stood. "Before you are my recommendations for promotions throughout the whole chain of positions within the company."
For the better part of an hour the talk centered on these recommendations. Sannen had given much thought to this matter. Although these promotions were unexpected, he had no doubts as to the capabilities of each individual. Seath would be especially pleased, the elder brother knew. The order of his birth had placed him second in authority, yet he was competent and deserved his chance to lead.
When their personal concerns had abated, Sannen watched as each in their own turn studied the list and the realization dawned. He speculated as to whom would be first to put words to the question that formed in all their minds.
Seath rose from his chair. "Sannen, your name does not appear on this list."
"I shall no longer take an active part in the business."
Only one person would dare question this, and she did. "Son, are we to be allowed to know what motivated this decision?"
"I have been accepted as a treaty consultant to the Federation. I plan to continue the tradition begun by my grandfather and father. I am leaving Vulcan."
"Leave Vulcan. .. You abandon your family duty to..."
"Mother, my duty to my family has been fulfilled. I leave all my responsibilities in the hands of the younger members. They require their chance. It is the way. Why do you question?"
T'Pru shook her head. "All that this family has stood for is being lost."
"Change is inevitable, Mother, necessary for growth." He paused. "I have written my sister, T'Lana, informing her of my decision."
There were unanswered questions in' everyone's mind, and Sanes, the oldest of Sannen's two sons, put words to them. "Father, you speak of business matters... I ask forgiveness, but our concern for you is personal."
"Cease!" Sannen stiffened as his eyes met his son's and the younger one's lowered. "Am I allowed no dignity?" All heads except T'Pru's bowed.
"Sannen, their concern is understandable. Can you expect us to..."
"Mother." His tone softened. "I am capable of handling my own life." Large family equals no privacy, he thought as he looked at them. "Do you all believe me suicidal?"
No one dared speak.
He knew their worry. He would be off planet and the pon farr would be upon him. "Since my privacy has been breached, I shall explain. I have consulted with the healers. There is no longer reason for concern... The illness of last turning reacted with the human blood factor in an unexpected manner. Therefore, I may travel without fear. Now, we shall not speak of this again." He waited, then emphasized his next words. "If anyone has questions pertaining to business, I shall address myself to them."
* * *
Sannen sat in the garden watching the setting sun. It had been his intention to meditate, but he could not summon the concentration to close out the external stimuli. That sunset was too spectacular, and he would not view it on too many more occasions. I shall be seeing different sunsets, the one from Earth -- and its moon. Yes, soon I shall leave this place, my home for all these years. And I go with a light heart. I sense excitement, anticipation for places yet unseen ... He sensed another presence. "Mother?"
"Son, I would speak with you."
"Yes, Mother." Sannen resigned himself to the inevitable. "Come, let us walk--" He felt his mother's eyes on him as they walked among the varied vegetation.
"Something has changed within you, my son. I have watched it happen since T'Min's death.
But, lately, since the return of your father's lytherette, it has accelerated. I can make no connnection, but since its return, you are different."
"You noticed its return? I did not believe you would."
"Yes. I noticed. I sit in that room sometimes..." Her voice trailed off. "Why now, Sannen wondered. Why not years ago? "
"The lytherette," T'Pru said quickly to cover her 'revealing statement, "I assume it was sent to your office."
"No, Mother, it was not sent." He noted her reaction. "It was returned in person by Dr. Marlow's great-grandaughter."
"The effrontery of humans. It should have been sent."
"No effrontery was involved. Dr. Marlow's will directed that the instrument be returned in person. It is very old and fragile. I believe she was concerned that it might be damaged."
"That woman..." T'Pru paused. "She cared for your father?"
"Yes," he replied truthfully, wondering where this abrupt change of mood would lead. "You are the only one of us to meet her. Tell me."
"Mother?" He could remember when the very mention of Dr. Marlow's name was not permitted.
Her words came slowly. "I find myself curious, this past year, since he is gone." She looked at her son. "You find that strange?"
"Yes. Mother, it serves no purpose."
"Perhaps it does. While they lived, I could not give notice to the matter. It stood as an innsult. Now, it is past. I should like to examine it, then put it behind me. I should not like to leave life with this still unsettled within me."
"I cannot fault that reasoning. If you believe my sharing what I know of them will hel p, I shall. "
"You were with them, saw them together. How did they spend their time?"
"Father spent his days at the Federation office. Dr. Marlow conducted her medical research at a privately funded laboratory. Because of the time-consuming nature of these experiments, it was not unusual for father to arrive home first. He would spend this time working in the garden." Sannen gazed at the expansive area before him. Interspersed among the large variety of native flora were a few arid-climate plants from Earth. He mentally contrasted the two areas. "It was very different from this place. Their climate allowed for a greater variety, but it was smaller. Everything had to be crowded together. Since water was plentiful, they were able to have a tiny pond, also several trees. As a gift Dr. Marlow had a small greenhouse built. It seems that Father enjoyed experimenting. He said that they planned the garden together and did much of the work themselves."
"And when she did arrive home?" T'Pru questioned.
"Together they would prepare the evening meal. Dr. Marlow disliked computerized food and whenever possible they would have fresh items from their garden. When I was there she had already eliminated animal flesh from her diet. But, they did not observe silence at the meal. She was adamant. After not seeing Father all day, she refused to sit silent through dinner. Father's comment was that she was incapable of being silent for that long."
Reminded of how little she and Spock had found to talk about, T'Pru asked, "What was discussed?"
"Everything. Her work, his, the events of their day, upcoming plans, news events, household related problems. It was most interesting. They would argue. It seems that in politics they agreed on nothing. I questioned Father on this. He mentioned her right to her own opinion, but also he listened because many people held similar views, and to do his work properly, he required that information.
"Sometimes during the evenings Father would have to leave because some diplomatic function required his presence..."
"She did not accompany him?" T'Pru interrupted.
"No. Mother, she never acted as hostess or consort."
T'Pru eased herself onto a bench. "I have been told this, but I did not believe it. Why should it be so?"
"Genessa had no wish. What they shared was private. Father once said that she was not a social person. She preferred her laboratory."
"She did accompany him on trips." Sannen noted that Genessa remained "she." His mother could not bring herself to say the name.
"Yes. But again she did not attend social functions. I understand there were times when she would arrive and depart at a different time and would even stay away entirely if they felt there would be negative publicity."
T'Pru cleared her throat. "They shared a bed often, as your grandparents did?"
Sannen had hoped his mother would not pursue such a personal line of questioning. "Sannen, will you answer?"
"They shared a bedroom, always." He remembered his own surprise. As his mother was now, he had been curious and would have liked to question his father, but he could not even imagine a way to approach such a subject.
"Sannen, why did your father not seek dissolvement of our union? He insulted us all by living as he did."
"A divorced Vulcan ambassador is of no worth. A scandal on our planet, talk of betrayal. No, Mother, in that the whole family suffers. Father did not wish that, and Genessa would not hear of it. And what of you, would you have enjoyed the role of the set-aside?"
"No. I should not. But, Sannen, you forget. I lived that role anyway." She looked at her son with lifeless eyes. "Why did I not take action, you want to know?"
"I assumed, Mother, that you had your reasons."
She continued as if she hadn't heard him. "I did approach my family. They advised me to be silent. There was no one to whom I could turn. I was alone ... and silent ... I had not desired the marriage. I had had other hopes ... It was my family ... I felt duty bound. Vulcans and duty..." Her shoulders slumped. How fragile she seemed, yet Sannen knew her strengths.
"Mother, that is behind you now. Now you have time to follow your own desires. You may pursue that which had pleasure and meaning for you."
"No. No, it is too late for me... I shall remain here. This is my life. I have duties, family..."
If he could prevent it, she would not get onto this subject. "Mother, I should like to discuss T'Manda with you."
"Yes. Your daughter! You know her history, two miscarriages and unfavorable reports this time. Yet you would leave..."
"I have no intentions of leaving until T'Manda is safely delivered of her son." T'Pru's mood softened at these words. "You believe that will be the case?"
"Yes, I have spoken with the healers, they are encouraged with the latest tests. It seems that my daughter is correct about this fighter child of hers."
"You shall remain until the naming ceremony?"
"Certainly. I shall see my grandson take his proper place in this family."
He was not sure how his mother would accept this next bit of news. "I have already chosen his name."
"It is no mystery to me, Sannen."
"You will make no objections?"
"No. It is an appropriate name. Whatever faults your father had, one cannot dispute the fact that he was a survivor. The child shall have his great-grandfather's name. He shall be called Spock."
* * *
Anne ran to answer the furious knock at her door."Lainie."
The two women hugged each other. "Come in. It's so good to see you."
"I can't wait to hear. Off planet! I can't believe it." "Let me get us a cold drink."
"Okay, but hurry. I want to know everything ... Did you get to Cantory VI?"
"Oh, the hive people? Yes," Anne called as she fixed the drinks. "It's just like the pictures, hives -- giant hives; they go on for miles and they still don't know what happened to the inhabitants."
"And Ziear. Did you get there?"
"Yes. I was kind of disappointed in that place. It's very much like Earth ... I was expecting something different."
"Oh, I know what I wanted to hear about, Vulcan. How did all that business go?"
Anne handed her friend the drink, but she didn't answer the question. She wasn't sure if she was ready to discuss this, even with her best friend. She was still so confused about it herself.
Maybe it would help to talk about it. "Oh, Lainie, you're never gonna believe what happened on Vulcan."
"You met a man!"
"No, Lainie. Not a man, a Vulcan."
Lainie moved closer and gave Anne her full attention. "Tell me everything!"
"Well, I took the thing -- lytherette it's called. I took it to the address. Lainie, you should see Vulcan. It's so clean, and quiet. We could take a lesson from them..."
"Okay, okay. I gave him the package. I thought he was the ambassador's lawyer or something. He was rather abrupt with me, he kept looking from me to the harp and back. There was nothing else to do, so left."
"He didn't tell you anything?" Disappointment showed in Lainie's face.
"No . Nothing, but later, he called my hotel and asked to see me. Oh God. it was awful. I acted like a one-cell. I started rambling about the romantic affair they must have had. How I wish I knew more, because it would make a great video story -- 'Genessa and the Vulcan Ambassador' ... Lord, when I remember..."
"Well, it turns out that he, Sannen's his name, he wasn't the family lawyer. He was the ambassador's son."
"00oooh, Anne..." Lainie rolled her eyes.
"I wanted to vaporize. I apologized. I mean even I know how seriously Vulcans take these things. I felt terrible..."
"Go on." Lainie prompted.
"He just kept watching me, as if he couldn't believe I was real. Then he said he had an appointment, but would I care to have dinner..."
"You went, of course."
"Of course. It was very nice, did you know Vulcans keep silent during meals?"
"Anne!" Lainie made a threatening gesture. .
"Then he took me home. The next day he helped me find an efficiency for the rest of my stay. He showed me where and how to shop. I made lunch."
"Then, he left."
"Oh, nuts." Lainie's shoulders slumped.
"I can't explain it. I lost all interest in traveling. I just wanted to go home. I tried to sketch, but -- anyway I went to bed."
"That's not the end of it?"
"No. Next morning he was back."
"I knew it."
"He said he could arrange some free time, and did I want to see Vulcan."
"Yes. I did and we did."
"Now. Tell me about him, describe him."
Anne went into the work room and returned with several sketches.
"Say now," Lainie drew out the words. "Older than I imagined, but nice."
"Lainie, if I count right, he has to be over 100 years old."
"He's a grandfather. His three children are as old as my folks would be if they were living. His grandchildren are my age. But he doesn't seem like the old men I know."
"Maybe it's the climate." .
"Oh, god." Anne threw a pillow at her friend. "He just doesn't seem or act like an old man. Or look it -- his body..."
"Body? Body! All right. Let's have the rest of it."
"Some things are none of your business."
"Anne, come on. You're the only one I know who's ever made it with an a1ien. Give."
"Actually, he has some human blood. It seems his grandmother was a human..."
"You're not going to tell me, are you?" Lainie couldn't believe this. She and Anne had had no secrets.
"No. I'm not."
"Well, is that it? Love-em and leave-em?"
"I don't know. He mentioned a trip to Earth. Asked if it would be convenient for me to show
"You said yes, of course."
"But now you don't know how you feel about seeing him again."
"No. I want to see him. Can't wait. I came home looking for a tape. No luck. But, well, I know that Vulcan's don't go in for casual love affairs. Lainie, if he comes, it will be because he thinks we can have something permanent. That scares me. I mean, Vulcan and his whole family ... Oh, did I tell you? His mother is still alive. Do you realize what that means? I'm not sure I can handle all that."
"You may not have a problem. You may not hear from him."
"No. I don't think so. Vulcan's don't go in for idle talk. I think that's one of the things I respect. You know how the guys we know are. They talk just to hear their head rattle. Sannen's different. When he talks it means something."
"Methinks the lady's in love."
"Is that what it is? I just know that I have never felt like this about anyone before. Afraid to see him, afraid I won't. Nervous, wanting to please him, but determined to be myself. Hoping he'll like what I am..."
Lainie shook her head. "I was right. You got it bad..." She became very serious. "Anne, we have to talk about this. Do you have any idea what you're considering?"
"Yes, Lainie, I do. I am considering marriage to an alien who is four times my age ... That's crazy, isn't it?"
"The age part doesn't scare me, but the alien part does ... The cultural differences must be enormous. What do you know about them?"
"Not very much, yet." She emphasized the last word. "Lainie, why doesn't his age scare you?"
"Oh, come on, Anne. You always go for older men, ever since college. Remember when we took 'Self Awareness 101' together? Know yourself and what you require for fulfillment -- what did your personality point out?"
"That I should marry an older, established man and have no more than one child ... That makes me sound so selfish."
"Does it? I don't know as I agree with that. Your painting is important to you and it requires time. You need a quiet, calm atmosphere to work. By the way," Lainie interrupted herself, "the gallery called while you were gone. You sold another painting and they have two commissions for you. Anyway, now that I think about it, this Vulcan seems made to order for you."
"It's funny, Lainie, but I can picture myself as his wife. I've never done that before."
"Anne, you do see the importance of this do you?"
"The risk that is involved here. Marriage outside your own genotype, this is so unusual for you. You are not one to take risks."
"But this doesn't feel like a risk." '
'It must be love."
* * *
ANNE & SANNEN
Anne side-stepped her way through the crowded space port on her way to Debarking Area Ten. She was anxious and excited, but determined not to let any of that show. By listening to it over and over, she had committed every word of Sannen's tape of four weeks ago to memory. But what did the tape really say? He was coming for a visit and would like to see her. She had expected something a little more personal, but no matter how she tried, she couldn't read more into his words. That left her very uncertain. Had he changed his mind about her? Did he feel compelled to come all the way across the galaxy to tell her that. Surely Vulcan chivalry didn't go that far? Maybe she was making too much of the whole thing. Maybe it was just his way. She would just have to wait and see. And what would he think of her world, her life style, her friends? It shouldn't matter so much, but it did.
There were no unoccupied chairs in the waiting area so Anne went to stand against the wall. She watched with detached interest as a group of reporters set up their video cameras. Who's coming in from where, she wondered.
The double doors opened and passengers came spilling through. On cue all the people in the waiting room got up and moved forward, thereby making it impossible for anyone to move. Anne rubber necked, trying to see over the people in front of her. There he was, searching the crowd. She was about to wave when their eyes caught. A few minutes later they stood face to face, and it was awkward. Neither seemed to know exactly what to say after they had exchanged soft spoken greetings. Anne asked about his luggage. It seemed like a nice impersonal subject.
"I have only these two hand carried pieces."
"You do travel light," she said, remembering that she did not.
Anne was indicating their direction when one of the reporters approached. "Pardon me, Sir. Like to ask a few questions. Just take a few minutes..."
"Request denied. My trip here is neither business nor political in nature. Therefore, it is not newsworthy."
The reporter started to protest. but Sannen's look stopped him. Sannen then nodded to Anne and they began making their way through the crowd. Anne glanced over her shoulder at the retreating figure, amazed at how well the reporter had taken the rebuff. He had moved back to his original position. Oh, well, she thought, there must be bigger snails to snag.
When they reached the transportation depot, he said, "I have reservations at the Southmoor House."
"Oh, what a coincidence. That's in the Winslow complex just a few miles from me."
"It is no coincidence, Anne. I consulted a map of this city before making my plans."
Anne blushed, more at her stupidity than his flattery.
"I believe we take a green line city car from this point to our destination."
"Yes," she nodded, again impressed by the amount of research he had done.
They began following the green markers that hung from the ceiling at evenly spaced intervals. Sannen had wondered at this information when he came upon it in the brochure tape. Now he understood. The crowds ... The Vulcan space port placed their humanoid standard signs on the walls or floors. But with this many people moving through at any given time, only on the ceiling could the information be seen.
It kept nagging at her all the way to the hotel. That reporter, he had recognized Sannen. Why? It bothered her. He wasn't that well known, was he? What did this mean? She could feel her muscles tensing ..
Finally, they were alone in his hotel room. He stood at the window. "We are on the 157th floor of a building. The whole concept of such heights ... To read about such structures, to view pictures, diagrams..."
Why are you talking such trivia? Anne wanted to scream.
"Anne." He turned from the window. "Anne?"
"Sannen, that reporter, he knew who you were. How?"
"I speculate it is because of my new position."
"I have been accepted as an ambassador-at-large for the Federation."
"They're the ones who act as troubleshooters when problems come up and who investigate new planets who want to join..."
"When did you decide this?"
"It was a recent decision."
"What does this mean? What about us?" She was sorry the instant the words were out of her mouth. She felt like a fool. It was obvious that he had long range plans for his life and they did not include her. This visit was just a polite good-bye.
"Anne, we have much to discuss."
"No. Sannen, it's all right. You don't have to feel responsible for me. You don't owe me anything."
"Owe you? I do not understand."
"Let's talk about this tomorrow." She grabbed her handbag. "I feel a severe headache coming on." She was moving toward the door.
"Anne?" There was confusion in his tone. What has happened to cause this upset? His tone changed. "I shall not allow you to leave in this state."
"Allow! Here we go again. You can't allow or not allow me anything."
Sannen's confusion deepened at her anger. "Anne, what is the matter, explain ... please." She sunk into the chair next to the door and spent a minute composing herself.
He waited. This he knew how to do.
"Sannen, you have done nothing to cause this state. I did it to myself, in my own mind. I imagined a life for the two of us. I believed we shared something on Vulcan and that you had come to ... Well, it doesn't matter, I was mistaken and I don't want you to feel guilty."
"If matters were as you state, why should I feel guilt?"
She stared at him. "I'm beginning to get the feeling that we're not having the same conversation."
He silently agreed with her, also that the fault for this dilemma was not his. "I believe you pre-judge me. You have not heard me speak, yet you have decided my motives."
She felt very close to tears. "I wish we could go back to the space port and start over."
"That will not be necessary. I shall state my reason for being here, then we shall have no misunderstanding between us. Vulcans are not disposed to speak of their ... feelings, but because of our cultural differences it seems necessary that I do so now. I have discovered of late that if the remainder of my life is to have satisfaction, fulfillment, I require two elements. One is challenge. I trust that has been taken care of with my new position. The other is more ... personal. Anne, I should like to share my life with you ... as my mate."
She was crying now.
He went to her, reached out and caught the tears running down her cheek. "Tears? I have never encountered them before. Am I to take this extreme sign of emotion to mean that you share my wishes?"
A choked "yes" was all she could manage.
Sannen felt a twinge of relief, at least he had not misjudged the situation. "Then I shall continue. I had hoped to spend time with you so that we might become better acquainted. There is much to discuss. There are many differences between us and you know so little of my culture and..."
"Sannen, hold me," she whispered. He did not move. "Please."
He folded his arms around her and she laid her head on his shoulder. "I thought you were going to say good-bye," she said despairingly.
"It would be most illogical to come all this way for such a purpose, a tape would..."
"But with this new job ... you would be traveling anyway ... Oh, never mind." She continued to cry softly and cling to him. "It doesn't matter. All that's important is that I was wrong and..."
Sannen was most uncomfortable. He did now know what to do with this crying, rambling female in his arms. "Anne, I am most perplexed by your state. Will you not cause yourself to become ill?"
"By crying?" She stepped back to look at him and wipe her eyes. "Don't be silly. I'll just have a red nose -- and eyes. Sannen, they're just tears."
"As I have stated. I have not encountered them before..."
"You're not serious?"
"Vulcans do not cry."
"Never? What about babies, hungry, fussy babies, they cry."
"They do vocally express their condition, but not with such a flood! I do not believe the Vulcan tear ducts could release that amount of fluid without dehydrating the entire system."
That statement and the reflection on her behavior had a sobering effect on Anne. "We are very different, aren't we?"
"I believe I have stated that."
Anne tried to regain some of her lost dignity. "You're right. What we need is time together. We will get to know each other."
Sannen felt much relieved now that Anne had composed herself. He was not sure he could have described the other emotion he sensed within himself. But the fact that the very idea of his rejecting her could bring forth such an emotional response ...
Anne excused herself and went into the bathroom to put herself back together. The room contained a facial stimulator. Anne smiled. Sannen would have no idea what it was for, nor probably the other "beautifying" equipment. But she knew what it was for. The facial fresher would ruin her make-up. She looked closer in the mirror. Redness stared back at her. What make-up? She set the machine and leaned over it. The prickly points of cool water felt so refreshing. After several minutes the machine clicked off. Now her fresh feeling face and neck made the rest of her body feel even stickier. And he wants to take me to dinner. Why not? She locked the door, stripped, and climbed into the shower. It'll only take a minute to rinse off. She was toweling herself when she heard a knock at the door.
She noted the concern in his voice. After her behavior of a few minutes ago he was worried. She wrapped the towel around her and opened the door.
"Sannen, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to scare you. I just felt like such a mess after all that crying."
He was watching her. "As long as you are ... well." She looked so fresh, water drops glistening on her shoulders, her face seemed to glow. This was what he remembered, this sensation. He took her in his arms. She gave no objection, she welcomed him. When she spoke his name in that way, he remembered, waited to hear it again. They kissed, each pulling the other closer. To have such sensations and to be so aware of them. During the intenseness of the pon farr, one's mind could not concentrate. Later, when the need was less and concentration greater, the intensity was diminished. But, this was so different. She moved in his arms, softly, softly. The towel slid to the floor. His hands traced the curve of her spine. His arousal was quick. He wanted her and knew that the reverse was true. Their desires were the same. No, some part of his mind told him. He broke off the kiss. "Anne, we must talk ... first."
"Make love now, talk later." She ran her fingernails across the back of his neck and just under his collar. She spoke slowly, kissing him between every few words. "Don't you see? Right now if you said that I would have to shave my head and walk naked through the street to have you, I would agree. Later, I could think"
She dropped her arms. The mood was gone. "Why now?"
"Later, after, I might find myself being less than frank. Perhaps keeping back that information which I suspect you would consider negative."
"This is what you want?"
"All right." She scooped up the towel and went to get dressed.
* * *
Anne and Sannen looked in at the crowded restaurant, then at each other. "Sannen, we can't talk here. Let's go to my apartment. I have food there." He nodded agreement.
When they were finally out of the huge structure, Sannen peered up at it. "Most impressive," he said, "an engineering marvel."
Anne shrugged. "Yes, I guess it is. But, I like the open air. Do you realize that someone could live their whole life in a complex like that? If they didn't want to, they would never have to leave, it. Everything one could possibly need is provided within that 16 acre complex: housing, employment, shopping, medical care, entertainment ... Oh; I guess you'd have to leave after you died. I don't believe there's a mausoleum."
The straight wall that rose out of sight from the ground was in contrast with the park that lay across the street.
Anne led the way. "This is Central Park. It's been here forever. I think the Indians built it." Sannen's look said he did not accept that. They entered between stone columns. "This park has withstood wars, riots, and insurrections; the city government does not intend for progress to ruin it. The modern complexes are allowed up to the park, but this ground is sacred."
They continued walking. It was early evening and the park was almost deserted. The children that played here in the afternoons were having their, dinner and it was too early for the young couples.
Anne was pointing across the park. "The complex developers haven't reached this area yet, but it won't be long. My building is two subway stops or eight blocks away. Do you want to walk or ride?"
"Subway, the underground transportation. I have heard about this feature. I must experience that, but not tonight. It is pleasant here and I have been confined to a space liner for 12 days. I prefer the outdoors." There was little traffic since no personal cars were allowed in the city. Everyone used public transportation. Only official and emergency vehicles were allowed.
When they reached Anne's apartment, they were discussing how they would spend his visit.
"I have a list of places I should like us to visit." He produced his small personal communicorder from his tunic pocket, punched several buttons and handed it to Anne.
"Grand Canyon. I've been there, I can show you, but these other places will be new to me."
"Then we shall discover them together. Did you not promise me food?"
"Yes. I did. Come help me fix it, or is that beneath an ambassador?"
"No, not beneath me, but my knowledge of kitchens is limited to computer selections and repairing equipment."
"Well, then you can learn. Sannen, you asked me earlier what I wanted in a mate. One thing, I want someone to share my days with. I was an only child; my mother died when I was twelve, my father six years later. I have always felt so alone."
Sannen noticed a picture on the table. "This in Genessa?"
"Yes. With her husband Gerald. That's their graduation day, the Doctors Marlow. Weren't they young?" She produced an album.
"Here's another with their daughter. That's just before they left for Argenta. He died there. This is my grandmother and grandfather, Gee and Harold Jensen. That's my father, Steven. Here he is with my mother. Her name was Allison. There we all are. Wasn't I an adorable child?"
Anne looked at the picture of Genessa, wishing she knew more about that whole situation with Spock. "Sannen, why did Spock marry your mother? If his first wife was human, why not another human? Why marry someone he didn't know?"
"His first wife gave him no children. She did conceive, but was not able to carry the fetus to term. Spock was an only child, as was my grandfather. Which means that my father was the last of the family line. I believe he thought his chances of continuing the line would be better with a Vulcan mate."
"But, why should this human female have trouble? Your grandmother managed."
"It was not that she was human. Hers was an individual problem."
"Oh, how sad. But, I do realize that it isn't easy to carry and give birth to a mixed species child."
"Indeed." He studied her.
"I have been doing some reading. Doctors don't recommend it. There are so many things that can go wrong. I've been thinking a lot about it."
He took her hand and guided her to the couch. "Anne, this seems to be the appropriate moment to discuss this subject."
"If there is a marriage between us, there will be no children."
"I'm not really surprised that you feel that way. Your family is grown. I don't blame you for not wanting to raise a second one..."
"Anne, I am no longer able to father children..."
"The fever -- you're past it? But you're too young..."
"You have been researching."
"Everything I could find. And believe me that wasn't easy. If Lainie wasn't a medical bibliographer with access to the med line I wouldn't ... Anyway, the tape said it shouldn't happen until after age 200."
"The human factor..."
"As you stated, I already have a family. The important thing about this situation is how you would feel about never having children."
"I don't honestly know. I'm not dying to have a child. I guess I just expected to -- someday."
"Perhaps I should explain further. With my new position, I shall be traveling. I would want you to be with me."
"And that's no life for a child."
"Do not speak now. Think on this. It is important..."
"No. Wait a minute. You're saying two different things here. Not just that you can't have children, but that you don't want any. You've chosen a life style that doesn't include children..."
"I decided on that life style after I learned about myself."
"But, you made the decision alone."
"By that you mean I did not consult you."
"Well, you didn't."
"Had the possibility of a family existed between us, I should have acted differently. I would have consulted you."
"But, you took the position."
"That position is important to me, Anne. I shall be continuing in the work of my father and grandfather... You have your work, you know how important it is to have meaningful work."
"I don't know what to say..."
"For now, say nothing. Think on what kind of life we would have together."
"All right." She turned and went into the small kitchenette.
* * *
After their meal, Anne went back to the list. "We shouldn't put this Maine trip off too long."
"Why?" he wanted to know.
"Weather. It's already October. Maine can expect cold weather, even snow late this month."
Both his eyebrows climbed. "Snow, seasons. I had forgotten."
Two days later they left the equipment rental shop and set out from the north rim of the Grand Canyon. They planned to camp their first night at Cottonwood.
"Sannen, do you know how long people have been walking this trail?"
"Since it was discovered, I should speculate."
"Yes, and at one time they even rode mules, can you believe that?"
They were alone on the trail. This was not an "in" attraction and hadn't been for a long time. Cheap hyper-space jaunts had been the thing for several years. Almost a hundred years ago, businessmen had proposed mechanized means of getting to the bottom of the canyon. The government had not allowed it. This was one of several places on the planet that, to see it, you had to walk there and back. It had become the vogue to walk or climb to all these places. It was currently out of fashion.
From the Kaibab limestone they started their descent and regressed through the years. Anne listened to Sannen tell her about the age and contents of the separate geologic formations and they stopped to examine each. He was a good teacher and she found herself interested despite the weight of her back pack and her aching feet.
"Bright angel shale, Anne. We have reached the bottom."
"Hurray," Anne said unenthusiastically as she sank down into the dust.
They washed at the stream that rushes through Cottonwood. The water was icy cold, but it felt good on Anne's sore feet.
"Anne, my father once visited this place many years ago, with his captain. They camped at this very spot."
After they had eaten and cleaned up, stowing all garbage in their packs (the "you packed it in -- you pack it out" signs were everywhere). they returned to sit next to the stream.
"Most impressive, this place. Vulcan has similar terrain. but your mountains are higher and your gorges deeper, and the variety ... So much variety on a single planet. Is it any wonder that the people who evolved here are so complicated?" He brushed at his arm. "And the variety of insects that can pinch and bite and cause itching."
"Stop scratching. Give them time to find out how terrible you taste. Remember last night? After a few trials, the mosquitos left you alone."
He flicked a large red ant from his arm.
"Here, I'll put some of this repellent..."
"The odor of that potion..."
"Stop complaining. You can't have everything." She poured some lotion on her hand and applied it to the back of his neck.
Her touch, he did enjoy it. His hand came up and caught hers. He pulled her around onto his lap. That desire, no warning, it was there and she was responding, increasing the passion. The way she kissed him ...
"Ugh!" She sat back and wiped her tongue on her sleeve. "That stuff tastes awful." He tried to pull her close, to recapture the moment.
"Oh, no you don't. You refused my advances in a nice clean apartment with a soft bed and running water -- I shall not yield to you here in the sand." She flipped her hair in a dramatic gesture and flounced off. Sannen shuddered as he realized that just for an instant he thought he might not let her go.
* * *
Later, Sannen felt a hand on his shoulder and was instantly awake. "Anne."
"Move over. I'm freezing."
"I am not sure there is room in this type of bag..."
"I'll fit," she said squirming in next to him. "Sure gets cold down here," she said. her teeth chattering. After a few minutes she had stopped shivering, and lay cuddled next to him. "Sannen, I've been thinking ... there are so many things ... your family, especially your mother, they won't approve of me."
"I do not require their approval."
"But, won't that make it awkward when we..."
"On the rare occasions when we are at my home, you will be accorded the respect due you as my wife."
"They won't resent me?"
"Even your mother?"
"My mother will accept the facts." He ran his fingers through her hair. "Now, what else is troubling you?"
"Your wife, what was she like?"
"Sannen, I need to know about her."
"To what purpose?"
"Because I have this image of someone perfect -- bigger than life. Maybe if you tell me about her, she'll become less scary. I know she never questioned your actions as I do."
"What makes you say that?"
"The way you look at me when I do it. As if you don't believe what's happening."
"Anne, T'Min and I were truly bonded for a long time. We knew each other so completely. She never questioned my action nor I hers, because we sensed them as they took form in each other's mind. We would question and exchange thoughts as the ideas took shape. By the time action was called for, it was a mutually agreed upon course."
"I'm not like her. I..."
"Have I asked you to be? Anne. I am not seeking a replica of T'Min. You have other assets..."
"Indeed," she said mocking his tone.
* * *
The canyon trip behind them, Sannen and Anne were at her apartment discussing plans for their next trip.
"So your grandmother was from Maine." Anne coded the home terminal and a map appeared. "What town?" The screen flashed. indicating an incoming message. Anne and Sannen listened as the women from the Federation office explained that there was a problem on Razor's Edge, a colonized planet in the demilitarized zone. She told them that a fact finding committee was being formed and would he consider being a member?
Anne watched and wondered if he would make another decision without consulting her. She was pleased when Sannen said he would have to discuss the matter with someone and then get back to her. When the conversation ended, he turned to Anne. "This complicates matters."
"You want to go."
"Yes, but not alone. It is too soon. We have much to discuss..."
"Sannen, some things time and talk can't help. We know that we care for -- love, each other and we both want a permanent commitment, not a timed contract. I love the idea of traveling with you. being able to work in exotic places."
"I would never choose a mate just to have children, neither would I turn away from someone I loved because he couldn't father children ... If our positions were reversed, would it make a difference to you?"
"Anne, the comparison in unequal. I have children, you never would."
"A woman doesn't need children to be complete. The life we can share will be very full. Sannen, nothing is for sure. We know what we feel..."
"The testing. Vulcans can predict."
"Not always. Besides. I'm human and computerized matching for humans never works. The most important thing -- the attraction, we have that, and without it ... well, it's important for humans. It usually precedes the commitment and you can't put that into a computer. You're trying to put our way into yours. We are different, accept that and accept what we can have together ... Sannen, I don't take this lightly."
"You will become my mate and go with me?"
"Yes." Anne waited for something, anything. "Sir, do you realize that you have just proposed marriage to me, and that I have accepted?"
"I am most gratified..."
"I understand. You feel that some sign of affection is appropriate at such a time ..."
She was glaring at him.
He took her in his arms and kissed her. "Anne, tomorrow we shall begin arrangements and I shall accept the position with the Federation..." He could never be this close to her, touch her, without... "Now, I shall be leaving."
"What? No, you are not leaving."
"Anne, until we are married..."
"Oh, gananzo chips! In our hearts we are married, as you said, we have pledged to each other and our word has been given. I don't intend for us to be apart again. From now on we sleep under the same roof."
"An assertive female. Very well, I shall stay."
"Good, I'll make up the couch for you. "
"I can't help it. You're so much fun to tease, you have to be the world's best straight man." He was moving towards her. "But I do love you."
* * *
The next several days were busy ones . There was much to do. Anne's apartment had to be disbanded, the unwanted items sold, the others shipped to Vulcan. Lainie gave a small party for Anne and Sannen.
Six days later with Lainie as Witness, they were married. As they left the city building, a reporter approached.
"Mr. Ambassador, Sir, a few minutes please." Sannen nodded. "I understand congratulations are in order."
"My marriage, yes. Thank you. May I present my wife Anne."
Although she had never spoken to a reporter before, Anne managed to get through the introduction and to respond intelligently to the few questions put to her.
They were turning to leave when the reporter said, "Sir, a statement on the upcoming ta ks."
"A statement? This is not the time for statements. Tomorrow we leave for the demilitarized zone to listen and discuss. Then you may have a statement."
Later, after dinner in their room, Anne's mood was festive, teasing. "Sannen, I don't feel married. Do you feel any different?"
"No. Why should you expect a civil ceremony to produce physical effects?"
"Oh, I don't know. I just always thought I would feel different after I was married."
"And so you shall when we are bonded."
"When will that happen?"
"If our being together does not precipitate it, at the first opportunity we shall seek the aid of a Vulcan trained in such matters. Now, are you coming to bed?"
"Oh, I don't know ... Now that we're married, it probably won't be any fun."
* * *
The space liner was the perfect place for a honeymoon, or so Anne thought. She and Sannen spent all their time together. They talked for hours and when he was busy familiarizing himself with the political situation at the neutral zone, Anne sketched.
The ship docked on Razor's Edge and the honeymoon was over. The situation was critical, civil war seemed imminent. Although it could not be proven, all knew that powerful off-planet factions were backing the opposing parties. Sannen spent all day in sessions, and nights reading. He lost himself in the work. Anne felt abandoned, but was determined to play the patient wife. She filled her days by sketching, reading, shopping. She spent many hours at the museums, for the diverse peoples of Razor's Edge had many unique art forms.
One night he did notice her. "Anne, I do apologize. But, this is most crucial. If these two factions decide to make war..."
"Sannen, I understand that. But can't we discuss it? You shut me out."
"That was not my intention, my wife. He gently pulled her closer to him. "Anne, I have been very naive about this position. I had no idea these matters could be so complicated. This planet has no native population; it was settled by many humanoid groups and with little forethought. Now we have a crisis and all the separate factions have concerns that must be heard. Now I understand what Spock and Sarek meant when they spoke of frustrations. There are no correct answers in this matter, only choices and compromise. I feel unequal to the task, my knowledge is sorely lacking in so many areas." He sighed. "I have made one decision though. It concerns us, my wife. When this is over, I shall not take another assignment for some time. We are going to follow in Spock and Genessa's path. I now see the need."
Anne eyed him questioningly.
"The house they kept, a place to come home. He told me often times of its recuperative powers after a treaty session such as this. Now I understand."
Her own home, yes, she would like that. These past weeks of traveling had taught Anne a lesson also. Roots, a home base, were important. Living out of a suitcase, impersonal hotel rooms, always eating at restaurants; these things were not as glamorous as she had imagined.
They talked late into the night and made love until dawn. Anne did not feel so neglected after that night.
* * *
Anne woke to find Sannen gone. When she checked the chronometer, she knew why. It was almost noon. She stretched and snuggled back under the blankets. Life could be so pleasant. Sannen had been in a very festive mood the previous evening. He would have claimed ignorance of such emotions if Anne had spoken of them, so she hadn't. She'd just enjoyed them.
The negotiations had been successful. After almost nine weeks, a treaty had been drafted. The press had attributed much of the success to Sannen. He was considered a bright new member of the Federation team. The Vulcan temperament and control were praised as so necessary to such procedures.
This afternoon the official signing, tonight a victory celebration; Anne was very excited. She had purchased two new outfits for the occasions, one for the afternoon formalities, another for the evening festivities. Thoughts of standing next to Sannen as his wife during the ceremonies was cause of part of the happiness she was experiencing, but mostly she was pleased that this was behind them and tomorrow they would be leaving. A long rest, no work, house-hunting, furnishing the house, just the two of them; it was delicious.
The humming communicator roused Anne. "Yes." she said after flipping on the audio switch.
The tone of her husband's voice brought her wide awake. "Sannen, what..."
His words were slow and deliberate. "Anne, listen closely and do exactly as I say. You must abandon our hotel room as quickly as you can. Do not waste time with our belongings." She wanted to question him, but his tone left no room for argument. "Anne, this is extremely important. Do you understand? Make your way to the cafe Diano. Do you remember where that is?"
"Walk, do not hire a car. Use caution. I shall be waiting for you. Experto crede, my wife. Do you understand?"
She mumbled a yes and the conversation ended.
Anne was stunned as Sannen's final words penetrated. He had spoken their previously agreed upon private signal. It was to be used only in an emergency situation to let the other know that what was said was real, not a voice duplicator, drugs or coercion. Experto Crede meant "Trust one who has had experience." Sannen wouldn't have said that unless something was very wrong.
Anne scrambled out of bed and was almost running in circles. Stop this, she told herself. Get a hold of yourself, this isn't a game. Get out fast, he said. She ran for her clothes. As she was dressing, she tried to organize her thoughts. Sannen said not to bother with our belongings, all right. She grabbed a jacket and her clutch bag and went for the door. Just about to pull it shut behind her, she changed her mind. Maybe I'm being too hasty. I might never get back in here again. I should take a minute, pack some things. She ran to the closet and grabbed a suitcase. No. Too obvious. My tote. Carry it over my shoulder, looks like a purse. Now let me see ... necessities, underwear, change of clothes for each of us, comfortable shoes. She was throwing these items into the bag as she surveyed the clothes still hanging and cast a longing glance at the new dresses that had to be left behind. Cloak for Sannen, toiletries. She ran to the bathroom, sure that at any moment someone would come bursting through the door.
The bag was bulging. but not too heavy. She could manage it without drawing attention to herself. After three tries, her fumbling fingers managed to open the room safe and she scooped the contents into her bag, hoisted it to her shoulder and was gone.
Waiting for the elevator was agony. Finally, it came. It seemed to take forever to make its descent as it moved from floor to floor admitting and discharging passengers. She tried to act calm as she plotted her way to the cafe Sannen had mentioned. It was not too far from the hotel, which is most likely why he chose it.
Anne was in the back when the elevator stopped at the lobby. She could not help but notice the two uniformed men at the desk. For all she knew they were delivery men. but she decided to play it safe. She rode the car to the parking level and emerged there. No one paid any attention as she made her way past the ground cars to the street.
Once out in the sunlight, Anne relaxed. What could be so wrong, she wondered as she watched the people around her going about their own business.
She entered the cafe to find Sannen at a back table. She smiled. but his face was impassive as he rose to greet her. When they were seated and her order taken, the smile faded. "Sannen, what happened?"
"Anne, everything is changed. Early this morning there was a revolution in the government, what is called a bloodless coup. The anti-Federation forces are now in power."
"But why are we in trouble? I thought we were guaranteed diplomatic immunity."
"According to Federation regulations we should be guaranteed that, but the rebel forces have other ideas. I was informed that our immunity would not be honored and that we should go into hiding..."
"Hiding," Anne said through clenched teeth. "Sannen, how are we supposed to do that and for how long?"
"Star Fleet has been notified. Help will be sent. But, Anne," he took her hands across the table. "I am given to believe it may be two weeks before a starship arrives."
Anne just stared at her husband. Until this very minute he had never seemed alien to her, now he did, everything did. This morning she had been the wife of a respected Fed. Ambassador, graciously received anywhere she had a mind to go. Now she must run for her life. Nothing made sense.
Anne's tea arrived but she ignored it. "Sannen, what are we going to do?"
"We are going to do as advised, my wife. We are going to remain in concealment until we know that a Federation starship has made orbit."
"It' s not that easy. We don't even have papers. I mean, we can't use ours..."
"I was led to believe that if we go to a certain section of the city we could purchase..."
"Oh, Sannen." The mental image his words brought to mind made her cringe. Every city had such a section, they were as old as cities themselves. Anne had visited such places, but always with a group and always in daylight. She knew that neither of them had the know-how to exist in such a place. "Sannen, we have no experience dealing with the type of people who live there. We'll stick out like a human at a Tellerite convention."
Both his eyebrows climbed at her remark, but he made no comment. "We shall learn how to behave, we have no choice."
Anne had a splitting headache now and her stomach was queasy. She noticed the waitress eyeing them. "We're getting funny looks. We had better get out of here."
Sannen automatically reached for a card to pay the bill, then he stopped. "This can be traced. Anne, have you any credits?"
She fumbled through the tote for her clutch, which, of course, had burrowed to the bottom. Her fingers shook as she counted out the amount.
When they were outside, he took the tote from her. "What have you here?"
"I grabbed a few of our things, just the essentials."
"Anne, the time, you risked ... Good thinking."
They consulted a public information booth and from it decided their direction.
When they emerged from the mass-transit car and surveyed their surroundings, they had no doubt that this was the area they were seeking.
They began walking down the street trying to decide which of the rundown hotels they should choose. When they had settled on one, they went to a nearby diner and ordered more unwanted tea to give them time to plan.
"You realize, Sannen, that without papers we are going to pay three times the going rate."
"I had suspected that. Anne, is it possible for one of us to register and then -- allow the other in, unnoticed?"
She stared at him. "You mean, sneak?"
"For lack of a better word, yes."
"If a couple is being sought, a single individual might go unnoticed."
"Yes. Good idea. Let me see ... how to play this? Who doesn't have papers? A prostitute," she said, answering her own question.
"On the liner coming home from Vulcan, a prostitute was put off, turned over to local authorities and her papers confiscated until her hearing."
"I am not sure..."
"Sannen, this is the best way. I would be much less suspicious than you. I won't even have to say much -- just register and when they ask for identification, I'll explain how the police took them and it's all a big mistake and will be cleared up in no time. The desk clerk will assume the rest, knowing he can triple the room rate."
Reluctantly, he was forced to agree with her.
Sannen was anxious as he watched his wife take the tote bag and leave the diner. He felt very helpless and would have liked to change places with her, but he knew that her reasoning was correct. She would attract less attention than he. But to have to pose as a prostitute ... For the most part the realities of this profession were outside his cultural perceptions. He could only relate to it as a debasing occupation. The minutes dragged by and Sannen had to fight the urge to go after her. The control on which he had always prided himself seemed to abandon him, but he had no experience with this type of waiting.
Finally the door of the diner opened and she was coming towards him. She was no longer carrying the tote. A good sign, he wondered.
Trembling, she sank into the chair. "Oh, Sannen."
"It went poorly, my wife?"
"No. I got the room, but the cost. It took most of our credits."
"Do not be distressed..."
" ... And the room. It's not even clean."
"Anne, let us go there, so we can be alone."
She forced a smile. "The room is number 406. I'll go first -- oh, here." She slipped him enough credits to cover the price of the tea, then counted what was left. Her smile faded, she seemed close to tears. "This won't last long and we have to pay for the room again in three days."
Anne was in his arms as soon as the door closed. He surveyed the room as he held her." It was certainly unlike anything either of them had ever previously occupied. She laid her head against his shoulder and softly said, "The bathroom's crawling with bugs."
Together they emptied the contents of the carry-all onto the bed. Anne began putting away the clothes while Sannen checked the items from the safe. There was a velvet jewelry case that Anne did not know existed. He had planned a surprise for the treaty ceremonies. While her back was turned, he pushed it to the floor and slid it under the bed with his foot, wondering if he might be able to turn those gems into credits.
Anne turned to see him take a wad of credits from a leather pouch. Her eyes lighted up. "How much is there?"
"Oh, what a relief. That will sure help. It will pay for the room for over a week."
He picked up his pocket computer and twisted the dial until a standard speaking voice flowed out. They sat on the edge of the bed and listened.
" ... Federation forces, enemy of the people have been disposed. President Mardesa and the council are in prison awaiting trial for treason. We will not become puppets of the Federation, says new leader Franziet. The people of Razor's Edge are instructed to remain calm and to continue business as usual. There is nothing to fear. Leader Franziet and his followers have matters under control." There was a silence and then the loop started again.
Anne and Sannen looked at each other. He put their thoughts into words. "The negotiators were not mentioned, a good sign. The citizens on the street will not be looking for us. We have only the official police to concern ourselves with."
All Anne could think about was the image of frail old Maris Mardesa in a jail and for the first time since Sannen's call this whole thing became real.
Anne slept fitfully that night and Sannen slept not at all. He was alert to any sound that might mean danger, although he was not exactly sure what he was waiting for or what actions he would have taken had danger presented itself.
* * *
Anne sat huddled in the bed rubbing her arms. Her sheer gown was useless against the early morning chill of the room and her robe was back at the hotel. "I guess we'd better make some plans. First thing, we have to do something about our clothes. We look too -- well kept."
Sannen watched his wife take charge of the situation. "Do you have specific suggestions?"
"Well, yesterday I spotted a second hand store about two blocks from here. If I can get you an overcoat and we "mess-up" your shoes -- oh -- don't shave. We should be able to create the look we want ... All I have to do is look cheap."
"Sannen," she said looking him straight in the eye. "I'm trying to be adult about this and not feel sorry for myself. You are not helping."
There was concern in his eyes and voice. "This is not the life I had planned for us. my wife."
Anne threw up her arms and laughed. "No one plans this kind of thing!"
"It is pleasant to see you smile again."
Anne surveyed herself in the dirty bathroom mirror. The crack distorted the image as she tried to calculate the effect. It really didn't matter what she wore. It was how she wore it. Razor's Edge was too far from the galactic hub to keep up with current fashion. No one would know that molded body suits, hair locks, and white-face were the latest craze. The black lace body stocking. grabbed in the haste of packing, was a stroke of luck. Of course, the yards of overdress, even if not left behind, would have been useless. Over the body stocking she wore Sannen's deep green tunic. Hitting her at mid thigh, it was just the right length to create the effect she wanted. But, she did have to roll up the wide sleeves and only the presence of the body stocking kept her from exposing her breasts. The shoes were bad, too practical. I'll have to get different ones. Face and hair were no problem; make-up overdone and hair teased and put up. Now for jewelry. She searched her make-up case to no avail: small imitation pearl earrings, simple gold chains. None of this will do. I'll have to find something gaudier. She looked at the chains again, then proceeded to weave two of them through her hair. She gave herself one last appraisal. then opened the door. "Well?" she said as she paraded in front of her husband.
"You do not look like the person I married."
"Not like the ambassador's wife who appeared on the video?"
"No. Not like the ambassador's wife."
"That's what we want, isn't it?"
"If it will keep us undetected. yes... Must you go alone?" he added.
"Yes. I think it's best. I'll be back as soon as I can ... and I'll get us some breakfast."
She grabbed her sweater and clutch, kissed her husband and left the room.
"Keep safe, my wife."
The street was deserted at this hour of the morning. Anne encountered no one as she walked the two blocks to the used clothing store. Her heart sank when she read the sign on the door. They would not open for business until noon. Damn, she said to herself, I should have known this part of the city doesn't stir before then.
She retraced her steps as far as the diner where they had stopped the day before. It was open for business. She noticed a help-wanted sign on the door as she entered. Was that there yesterday? she asked herself. Only three customers occupied counter stools and the table area was closed off. Anne took a stool and ordered tea and toast to go. The middle aged man behind the counter eyed her closely as he collected payment. She summoned her courage and said. "The sign, do you need a waitress?"
He leaned forward, repelling her with his breath. "That's what the sign says, don't it?"
* * *
The door opened at her first knock. "Sannen," Anne said laying their meager breakfast on the small table. "I have a job."
"Yes. As a waitress at the diner we were in last night... You disapprove?"
"But, I get three credits an hour and we need them..."
"Anne, that's below the legal minimum by two credits..."
"Oh. God!" she said, not keeping the exasperation out of her voice. "Without papers, how can I complain? We need the credits and I can get us food. I work four to midnight and I start today."
" No, Anne..."
There it was again, both realized it, although neither knew how it had happened. But, somehow the issue had become a contest of wills and not a question of a job for Anne.
"Sannen, we need for me to do this. There is no other choice."
After a long silence he said, "Very well." Neither had an appetite for the cold breakfast and the room's antiquated warmer didn't work.
At noon Anne was back at the clothing store. After almost two hours of picking through piles of other people's discards, she had one dress, two blouses, a shirt for herself and a worn grey coverall and brown overcoat for Sannen. She trudged back to their room with her purchases.
Sannen insisted Anne rest. "You are not accustomed to being on your feet for that many hours."
She lay in his arms and slept for a short time. At 3:30 he woke her.
He walked her to the diner and when she emerged at midnight, he was waiting. Anne was very pleased to see him. She put her arm through his and they hurried back to their room. When the door was shut and locked against the world, Anne went into her husband's arms and hugged him for several minutes.
"Was it so unpleasant, my wife?"
"No," she said trying to make her voice light. "It took me awhile to get my bearings. You have to know how to act with those type of people. The men get very personal and insulting. If you're too shy they get worse. There is a fine line you have to walk, give it back to them without offending. I know how to do it from when I worked at waiting tables in college and in the drafting office. I had forgotten though ..."
"Do you wish to continue?"
"Of course. I'll continue! I've eaten today and I have food." She began opening the package she brought and set a small handful of coins on the dresser. "Tips." She shrugged.
"Anne, I also have secured employment."
"At a warehouse -- my hours are the same as yours."
"Sannen, you shouldn't have to do..."
"Nonsense. The physical work will be good for me and I do need something to occupy my time when you are away ... There may be added advantages. It is an unexpected action. The police are not like1y to consider it."
And so a routine developed and the days began to run together. Anne left work at midnight and Sannen was waiting. Together they went back to their room to a supper Anne brought from the diner. They talked about their day and exchanged any political gossip they might have heard. But there was little of that. They would talk far into the night. Sometimes it was almost dawn before sleep claimed Anne and then Sannen would allow himself to rest.
Anne slept late in the mornings. Sannen stayed in bed and kept her huddled next to him for warmth. They arose around noon and had tea and rolls in front of the newly fixed warmer. Anne did laundry in the bathroom and they got ready for work. And the cycle repeated itself.
* * *
"See! There!" Darcy, the other night waitress, said pointing at the diner's antiquated video screen. "She looks like you."
Anne braced herself. She had lived in fear of this ever since the picture of the Federation negotiators had begun appearing on the video. Her first impulse had been to run. She quickly realized that would only cause suspicion. The best was to stay and if anything happened to brazen it out. She knew how she should play this, but could she pull it off?
The camera was zooming in to focus on her. "Where? Let me see." She stopped loading her tray and moved closer to the screen. The announcer was giving her vital statistics. "I don't look like her ... twenty-three! Why she hasn't seen twenty-three in -- ten years. That's all make-up. And she's probably had a facial reconstruction..."
Darcy moved closer. "Maybe you're right." By now, everyone else in the diner was staring at the screen.
Anne pressed her point. "...And she's fat. Do I look like that?" She turned and wiggled her hips. This action brought a round of applause and cat-calls for the patrons. "I wish that was me." Anne went back to loading her tray. " ...then I wouldn't be working in this dump." Sannen's picture was now on the screen. "She's got that rich sugar daddy takin' care of her..."
"Yeah!" Darcy chimed in. "I could use me one of them ..." The customers expressed their agreement with laughter.
Anne's heart was pounding as she carried her tray to the kitchen.
* * *
Anne watched the insect-spattered clock on the diner wall. Twelve more minutes until midnight then she would not have to face this place for 36 hours. After working seven days in a row, she had a day off. Sannen was going to take off also; they were going to ride the transit and spend the day away from this part of the city.
As always the streets were alive with people when Anne left work. She stood in the shadows of the closed shop next to the diner and waited for Sannen. It was unusual for him to be late, he was always waiting when she came out. I'm a little early, she told herself, or he had to work late.
The minutes dragged by and Anne had no watch and didn't know the time. When you're waiting, time always goes slower, she told herself, but her feet hurt. Finally she gave up and began walking in the direction of their hotel. He'll be along any minute, she kept thinking.
Back in their room she checked Sannen's computer -- 12:35 -- he'd never been late before. A small knot began to form in her stomach, with every new thought, it grew. They've got him, he's in jail -- hurt -- or dead. What'll I do? Run. Where? He won't tell them where to find me -- they'll beat him. Or worse -- stop this!
She climbed into bed and lay staring at the ceiling and listening. Every noise had her up. If only I knew which warehouse, I could go and see if they are still working. No -- that's stupid to go wandering around in the dark. Sannen will come here when -- if he can.
Anne lay awake while her mind imagined a hundred hellish ends for Sannen. A drunk hit him for his money, a group of young thugs beat him, the police had him, a transit car accident. He's in the hospital, some alley way... Exhaustion turned to fitful sleep as day was breaking.
A bright sun was streami ng into the room when Anne opened her eyes. She put her feet on the icy floor and started for the bathroom. Something crunched under her bare foot and she screamed.
"OOOOOOOOh God!" She peeked at the hard shell bug under her foot and several others scurrying across the floor. "God, how I hate this place." She limped the rest of the way to the bathroom refusing to put weight on "that" foot. "Damn, damn, damn, damn." She washed the remains down the shower drain, ignoring the two insects occupying it, then trailed them with the flexible spout and drowned them.
She went back to sit on the edge of the bed and cry. She had no idea of what to do. Do I stay here and wait or pack up and leave? Sannen, I need you.
She tuned Sannen's communicorder to local news and listened. Maybe there would be some clue. She tried several channels to no avail.
Anne was hungry, but afraid to leave the room for two reasons, that she might miss Sannen, and that she might get caught. She tried to eat part of last night's supper, but couldn't.
She paced the floor until she was tired, then sat down. But when she was quiet for several minutes, the bugs began reappearing and Anne wanted to scream. .
Why is he doing this to me? He should know that I want to be with him even if he has been captured. I can't stand this not knowing.
The daytime noises in the hall drove her crazy; she tensed with each and everyone. All the coming and going, and none was Sannen, and any time it could he someone after her.
Anne divided her time between pacing the floor and staring out the window at the people moving below her. She felt less isolated as she watched them.
She left the communicorder on and caught every news broadcast. There was no mention of anything. It was maddening. The new government was giving a "Everything is fine, the people are being given what they want" routine. There was no mention of the deposed officials or the Federation representatives.
Her physical weakness and dizziness told her she must get some food. It was dark now so she decided to risk going out. She slipped out and down the back stairway that she and Sannen had been using to avoid the main lobby. Anne unconsciously searched every male figure hoping it would be her husband. All these people. Where is Sannen?
She thought it best not to go to the diner where she worked, instead she set off in the opposite direction. She ordered soup, a sandwich and tea and ate about half of her meal, then pushed it away. Within a few minutes she was hurrying back to their room. He'll come there. He will -- unless he's dead.
She ached to find him waiting, at the back entrance, in the stairwell, in the dimly lighted hall. God, Sannen, where are you'? She let herself in and hardly noticed the scurrying bugs. What'll I do? Tonight? Tomorrow? Should I go to work? Stay here? I'm so scared. The communiicorder lay on the bed broadcasting at a low level, the news was the same. Waiting, waiting, I hate waiting. She found herself wishing something would happen, no matter how bad, just to end the waiting.
She wrapped herself in the blanket, pulled the chair to the window and sat staring into the dark night.
A soft tapping brought Anne awake and running for the door. When it opened, Sannen came into her arms. Anne was crying, then sobbing so hard she couldn't talk. Her mind knew that he was safe and that was all that mattered.
"Anne, Anne." He whispered her name over and over as he held her.
"Where -- were -- you?" she managed to say between sobs.
"I was recognized and followed. Anne, I could not come here."
"Oh, God." She continued to sob as he carried her to the bed.
"I have eluded them. I was most careful. But we cannot stay here. We shall leave before dawn. Anne, listen to me. Anne."
"I hear you," she said making an effort to control the sobbing.
"We are to be rescued. The Federation has sent help."
"Oh, you're sure. We're safe? How? When did you..."
"Anne, there were facts I kept from you. I was given a name and a place to report periodically. Earlier this evening I made contact."
"You did?" The image of Sannen slinking through alleyways and giving secret passwords brought a halt to Anne's tears. "Do you mean we're going to get out of here?" Relief began flowing through her when he answered her question in the affirmative. She was becoming lightheaded. "We're safe. I think I'm going to get giddy. We're safe."
"Oh, Sannen, you don't know how scared I've been ... I imag1ined so many horrible things, I thought we'd be killed."
"Killed? Anne, our condition was never that critical. If captured, we would have been used for bargaining with the Federation, but not killed. This new government would not risk an interplanetary incident."
"You're just saying that now that it's all over ... to make me feel better."
"I would not do such a..."
"Oh, I don't care. I don't give a damn about this planet or their politics. I just want to get the hell out of here. Then we can start living like normal people. You'll get a normal job and..."
"A normal job?"
"Yes. A normal job. You'll tell the Federation that you are through..." She stared at her husband. "You're not for one minute considering staying with the treaty committee..." Her voice was screeching by the time she finished.
"You would have me resign after I have given my word? This incident serves to show the need for such committees..."
"I can't believe you're serious ... our very lives."
"Anne, we shall finish this discussion later. Now, we must prepare to leave."
Anne was quiet as she packed the tote bag, but her mind was working. "He'll give it up -- he'll see that I can't live like this. Later, when we're away from here, he'll see."
* * *
While Anne was gathering their belongings from the bathroom, Sannen retrieved the jewelry pouch from under the bed and slipped it into the inside pocket of his overcoat.
Anne handed him the packed tote and without a backward glance they left the room, went down the back stairway and out the door. Soon they were among the crowds in the main thoroughfare. Sannen led the way and Anne had to almost run to keep up with him.
"It is not far now ... Then we shall be safe." No sooner were the words out of his mouth than they heard a shout.
"Halt! You there -- in the overcoat."
They turned to see two people in government police uniforms.
"Run. Anne." Sannen grabbed her arm and pulled her around the corner into a dark alleyway just as a phaser flashed. He almost slammed her against the wall. "Be still!" It was an order and Anne was too paralyzed with fear to disobey. He left her there and moved across the alleyway to a recessed doorway and out of sight.
Instantly the two police were there. Anne could not believe her eyes when she saw Sannen dart from his hiding place and grab one pursuer by the neck.
As he fell the other turned and Sannen hit him in the face. He too went down. Sannen took their phasers, the tote, and Anne's arm and they were running. Within a few minutes Sannen turned into another alleyway and then into a building. Four people waited.
"Good work. Ambassador," said the leader. "I just received the signal. The Neil Armstrong is within transporter range." She flipped open her communicator.
It was Anne's first experience with the transporter and like most people it left her dizzy and nauseated.
Once on board the Armstrong, Anne and Sannen's first trip was to sickbay for physical evaluations. After a two-hour rest, the captain scheduled a debriefing session. Anne ate little of her supper and was asleep a short time later. The next morning there was another debriefing session with Federation officials.
Later that afternoon the Armstrong made orbit at Colfax. Here Sannen and Anne would transfer to another starship that was going toward Star Fleet headquarters on Delta. They were transported directly to Star Base 16 on Colfax and Anne fared somewhat better this time. Admiral Martin was waiting.
"Ambassador. Ma' am. So glad to have you safely back with us."
Sannen accepted the Admiral's words while Anne remained silent, but both noticed that the look on his face changed. "Sir. I do have some news from Vulcan. We have been informed that your mother is ill." Sannen accepted that news passively and the admiral continued. "I have taken it upon myself to make plans for you. The liner Helsig was due to leave orbit three hours ago. I had it held and booked passage for you both. The Helsig doesn't stop at Vulcan, but your brother and I have set up a rendezvous. He will be waiting in one of your private vessels. I hope this meets with your satisfaction."
"Yes. Yes, that will be fine. Admiral, was there any further news of my mother?"
"Yes. There is a personal tape for you." He opened a drawer and retrieved a cassette which he handed to Sannen. "There is one other thing, reporters. They've been waiting for several hours. I'm afraid we can't avoid them."
"Admiral, there is nothing I can say to reporters. My debriefing is not yet complete and I have explicit instructions that most of what happened on Razor's Edge will be classified."
"We know that, and the reporters know that, but their job demands that they try to get something out of you. And unfortunately we need good press. So, if you would give them a few minutes..."
"And tell them nothing," Sannen said. "Exactly, Ambassador."
" If we must."
As soon as they emerged from Star Base 16, they were surrounded by the reporters, and the questions started. Anne took a step backwards and let Sannen talk. Her head hurt and her mind buzzed with this new information. She was going to Vulcan, as Sannen's wife, to face his whole family, and she did not feel up to that at all. But Sannen's mother is sick and he needs to be there. Anne had noted the concern in his voice when he had asked for news of her.
After several minutes of badgering Sannen and getting nowhere, the reporters zeroed in on Anne. She was caught off guard and stammered through a few noncommital answers.
"But your ordeal, Mrs. Ambassador, what can you tell us about it? Were you afraid? After all, it was your first assignment for the Federation and you being newly married, it must have been some honeymoon. "
"If you will please excuse us. My husband's mother is ill, a liner is being held for us. We..."
"But, Ma' am, what are your plans?"
Anne did her best to keep the irritation out of her voice. "I believe that I have just stated our plans. We are going to Vulcan to be with my mother-in-law..."
"Excuse us, Gentlebeings." Sannen took her arm and tried guiding her toward the waiting ground car.
"One more question, please. After this experience, what are your future plans with the Federation? Next time..."
"Next time! Gentlebeings, after our experience I hardly think there will be a next time." Anne was almost shrieking when she finished.
Sannen tightened his grip and quickened his pace. The admiral said, "Enough! These people have a liner waiting." They flanked Anne and pushed through the crowd.
There were more reporters waiting at the spaceport. It wasn't every day that a space liner was held past departure time. But this time the admiral pulled rank.
The Helsig's captain was on hand to greet them. "Ambassador, Ma'am, glad to have you aboard."
"Thank you, Captain. If you would please accept my apologies for the delay and my gratitude for waiting."
"No problem, Sir. After what you've been through, it was the least we could do. It will take time to bring the engines back up to full power. We should be leaving orbit in about an hour. Now I'll see you to your cabin. Mrs. Sannen looks as if she could use some rest."
Anne forced a smile. "Yes, please. I should like to rest."
A porter arrived with anti-gravs to take charge of the luggage and was embarrassed when he saw the lonely tote bag.
As soon as the cabin door shut, Anne said, "I'm sorry if I spoke out of turn, Sannen. But I don't know why what I said was so wrong. I mean you're not going to take another assignment and that's all I said."
Sannen's voice was very calm, almost solicitous. "Anne, rest now. We will talk later."
"No!" she interrupted. "I want to talk now!"
She watched him produce a small packet from his tunic pocket. "I believe you should take one of these. The doctor..."
"You took those pill s after I refused them?"
"The doctor knows human behavior. He told us what to expect. I saw no harm in having them."
She took the packet from him. "You know what these are don't you? They're tranquilizers. I don't need these."
"Perhaps you do. The events of the past eleven days have been very trying. You managed very well, but now that it is past, you..."
"I'm falling apart -- that's what you think, isn't it."
"No. But there are bound to be repercussions."
"Only for me? What about you? Do you have pill s too?"
"Vulcans have other methods for dealing with stress."
"Don't pull that super Vulcan act on me."
"That was not my intention. I, too, feel the effects of our ordeal." The very fact that he found her behavior so irritating... "But I cannot rest until you do. Now, if you would take one of these and get into bed." He went into the bathroom and returned with a glass of water.
She tore open the packet and put one pill into her mouth then swallowed some water. "Sannen, all I really need is for you to hold me and tell me that that part of our life is behind us. We'll make a fresh start with a new position, away from the Federation..."
He took her nightgown from the tote. "We shall talk about this later, my wife." There was an edge in his voice. .
"Stop saying that. There's no reason we can't discuss it now." She stopped. "You don't intend to quit. My God. You're going to keep at that job -- put our lives in danger again and again..."
"Anne, you are in no condition to discuss anything. Lie down and allow the medicine to take effect."
"Don't take that tone with me. I am not your child." She took several deep breaths. "See. I am calm, rational, and I want to discuss this. I know that I can't live through another experience like these past eleven days."
"If you remember, we did talk about this before our marriage. We discussed at great length the possibility of being sent to some very primitive planets. We even discussed the possibility of such an incident. The very fact that we planned that signal..."
"But I never thought we would have to ... All right. All right. But, that was before... Now I know what it's like and I can't deal with it."
"You did deal with it -- and very well ... I repeat. You are in no condition for such a discussion now. Your reasoning is distorted by stress. You need time to regain your perspective."
"No. Time won't change my mind. I can't live that way. Sannen, we don't have to. We can have a good life, we can travel, go anywhere we want..."
"A life without purpose?"
"Don't say it like that, like it's an obscenity. You could teach, lecture, study -- I don't know, but there are many things you could do."
"I choose to work for the Federation. I explained that earlier. This work has meaning for me. If you will just give yourself a few weeks to regain..."
"Our marriage is not worth that much time?"
"That's not fair. I can't even talk to you. You won't understand my side of this. I'm leaving now, before this ship leaves orbit."
"No. You will not go anywhere in your state."
"Watch me," she said while stuffing her nightgown into the tote. She put the strap on her shoulder, turned just in time to see her husband walk over and lock the door.