DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc and Viacom. The story contents are the creation and property of Djinn and are copyright (c) 2017 by Djinn. This story is Rated R.

You Keep Spinning 'Round Me Just the Same

 

By Djinn

 

 

 

Part 3 - Because I Can't Escape the Gravity

 

Nyota

 

She bounces Saavik's baby on her knee, trying to ignore the near-constant shooting pain from joints asked to carry her for too long. When she looks in the mirror, she doesn't recognize the woman looking back. Gray hair and lined face—she saw that once, on the Enterprise. An illusion, then. Not so, now.

 

She is old. Old and tired and probably going to die soon.

 

Spock, meanwhile, looks older but not old. Still vital. Still so handsome. She's never regretted her choices, leaving William, pledging herself anew to her husband.

 

And he is her husband. Christine never had that. She likes to tell herself that Spock would eventually have let Christine go the same way she let her lover go.

 

She likes to tell herself many things. Some aren't true.

 

The baby laughs, and she glances at Sarek to see what he thinks of that. He looks on with a sort of resigned forbearance. The child's father is human. Not what she foresaw for the girl she considers her daughter, but Saavik has always walked her own path.

 

Saavik is sitting with Clint, over by the fire, probably glad to get a break from this adorable little monster that Nyota can't get enough of. She always wanted children of her own, but it was not to be. Of all the regrets in her life, that is the strongest. But this little angel is helping change that.

 

He adores her. He giggles every time she talks to him and he loves her singing.

 

"You're good with him. He won't hold still for me." Perrin sits, her grace the kind of practiced perfect that Amanda just seemed to possess naturally.

 

"Sulek's an adorable baby. You've just got to know how to treat him." She closes her eyes at how sharp her tone is. They're all making this woman pay for taking Amanda's place. It's probably not fair, but she was Sarek's intern and still seems so young.

 

She thinks it jars all of them, seeing him with her. If he's aware, he's not letting on. He probably thinks they'll have no choice but to accept her once enough time goes by. Especially since she's born him a son who appears to thrive on Vulcan and under his father's tutelage, unlike either of his brothers.

 

She forces a smile and tries again. "How do you find Vulcan, Perrin?" She knows how she finds it. Hotter than shit and hard to breathe. Thank God for tri-ox.

 

"It is a place of great peace."

 

"Or just great quiet. I find a chapel full of song more peaceful." She's been going to church a lot lately. Probably trying to wash her ledger clean before it's time to meet her maker. But has she been that bad? In all her life, she's tried to be kind, to be good, to make a difference.

 

"You're religious?" There's a sneer in Perrin's voice.

 

"I take it you're not."

 

"There's no logic in faith in some grand, benevolent deity."

 

She just laughs. This is an old argument she's had with Sarek, and she can hear his words in the way Perrin parrots it back, like a dutiful little sponge.

 

Spock doesn't mock her. He understands the concept of faith, even if he chooses to put his faith in causes and people, not deities.

 

"You know what they say, sugar. Never discuss religion or politics in polite company."

 

Perrin seems unsure where to go with that.

 

She takes pity on her, tries to make her voice as war as possible. "Are you happy, honey?"

 

For a moment, she sees resistance, as if the endearment calls up bad associations instead of good. But then Perrin nods, and her smile is a pretty thing—too bad they so rarely see it—and says, "I'm very happy. But that's not a Vulcan thing to admit."

 

"You're not Vulcan, ergo..." She studies her, deciding that it wasn't her beauty that drove Sarek to her. She's a little plain. No one you would notice in a crowd.

 

Christine might have been that way, too, if her energy hadn't plowed ahead of her. Her energy and a sensuality that Nyota sometimes envied. She tried to play the seductress; Christine just was one.

 

Or slut. That label works, too.

 

She chuckles and the baby gurgles and reaches up to touch her lips. "You are a charmer, young man. When you grow up, no one will be safe from your wiles."

 

Spock comes out of the house and sits next to her. He's easier with the child than she expects and it charms her when they play a game, letting Sulek go from one to the other of them and then back.

 

"Have you had your tri-ox?" Spock asks in a hushed voice.

 

"Yes, stop mothering me." She grins to take away the sting and tickles Sulek. "I love him, Spock."

 

"I, too, find joy in his presence."

 

"Joy? Really, Spock?" Perrin's voice is arch, as if she's gotten something over on him.

 

Spock ignores her. It's rude, but it's what he agreed to do. The last time they sparred, he verbally eviscerated Perrin at the dinner table. Nyota has asked him to not do that, out of respect for his father and his new stepmother, even if he doesn't like her. "Say nothing if you can't say something nice."

 

The old homilies are so useful. She feels herself growing sleepy, and says, "I believe I'll go in for a while."

 

He gets up, slinging the child over one hip and offering her his arm. As they pass Saavik, he hands Sulek back.

 

Clint looks up, a frown on his handsome face. "Is she all right?"

 

"I am, Doctor. Be a guest, not a caregiver." She winks at him, wondering if Saavik was drawn to him because he has dark skin like hers.

 

But that's silly. Saavik took forever to choose a mate. She had no problem with no-attachment relationships, but finding someone who mattered enough to marry, to have a child with, that took a long time.

 

Nyota thinks that's due to her. The talks they had. The wisdom she tried to provide. That it's okay to wait. Get what you need and move on, and then someday, the one you really are meant for will find you.

 

Even if you've known him most of your life.

 

She nestles into Spock as they walk into the house. Once in their bedroom, she lets him help her into bed and says, "Spock. I don't think I like Perrin."

 

"You have indicated that before."

 

"Well, today I really don't like her." She studies him. "Will you remarry? Some Perrin of your own?" This is ground they've never covered. That they've steered carefully past over the years.

 

He sits on the bed and takes her hand. "I will not take an intern."

 

"There are other ways to meet chicks." She laughs at his expression. "Spock, it's all right, you know. I want you to love and be loved."

 

"I am. By you." His tone is perfect, but there's something in his eyes she can't read. He leans down and kisses her gently on the cheek.

 

It's been along time since they've been truly intimate. She'd like to, but her body protests even the idea of it.

 

"Nyota, I love you." There is nothing in his eyes now but the warmth and affection she has come to cherish. "I will never love another as I love you."

 

It's a good way to phrase it. Because really, every lover someone has is loved differently.

 

She decides to let it go. She's sleepy.

 

And at least Christine can't have him. It gives her solace, even if it's a mean-spirited sense of peace.

 

 

 

Spock

 

You sit in front of your wife's grave. She wanted to be buried here, on Earth, where her family has been laid to rest for years. There are Uhuras and others scattered around the small cemetery.

 

You are hurting. Your life has a hole in it the size of the woman who has left you. Saavik and Clint have come over frequently because they seem to realize it is only Sulek who truly soothes you.

 

You stay far from Perrin and your father. You do not like her and want no platitudes from her—or your half-brother who can appear to do no wrong. You do not want to hear "I grieve with thee" from their lips. How can she possibly grieve? She is younger than Nyota was when you first met her.

 

You know your mother expected your father to remarry. But you think she would have been shocked at his choice. His intern?

 

A small voice in your head murmurs that Christine would have married her professor. Was that so different?

 

But Christine is not relevant here. She is safely in cryo and there has been no move to liberate or annex any world that would have the cure. If the Federation has any personnel on the worlds where the cure could be found, it is in a covert manner, and you cannot betray that.

 

The needs of the many...

 

You close your eyes, but then your communicator sounds. You answer, hear your father's voice, and feel rage rising up.

 

Your emotions, so volatile at this moment. You are compromised and you know it.

 

"Where are you? The debates on the Cardassian war are set to begin in one hour. I thought we would discuss strategy."

 

"You believe I favor your side?"

 

"Do you not?"

 

At this point, you can see the merits of both sides. But it is infuriating that your father must disturb you in this, your time of mourning. As if Nyota meant so little you can be rustled back to work on his whim.

 

You remember how he was when your mother died. He sequestered himself for several weeks, allowing his grief to flow freely if privately. Nothing roused him. No one was to disturb him.

 

"Perhaps, Father, it is preferable that I do not attend?" You state it as if it is a question, but you do not mean it as such. You wish to stay here, in this peaceful place, next to the body of the woman you have loved for decades.

 

The woman you made a life with. A true and good life.

 

A new voice on the communicator. "Spock, your father needs you. We expect you here within the hour." Then the line goes dead.

 

You stare at the communicator, sure your father will call again, that he will tell you she begs pardon for speaking to you as if she has some authority over you. But he does not call you back.

 

They want you there? Fine. Let them have what they want.

 

You time your arrival so there is no opportunity to discuss strategy. You sit at their table, nodding pleasantly to them and those around. You wait for Sarek to make his statement.

 

And then you counter it.

 

There is confusion in the ranks. Which of you to listen to? They are accustomed to Vulcan speaking with one voice, to their Vulcan diplomats being the ones to pay heed to.

 

But now you have given them an alternate path. One that you do not believe in any more than what your father espouses, but also do not believe in any less. You may be furious, but you would not sabotage Sarek's effort if his were clearly the superior solution.

 

Perrin turns to you. Her face has never been more Vulcan, but you see rage in her eyes. You force your own anger down and simply lift an eyebrow, a gesture that generally fans the fire of an infuriated human.

 

And in this case, it does. She leans in, her voice like that of a serpent, "Why would you do this? Why humiliate him?"

 

"My presence was demanded. I am here. What I choose to say or not say is entirely up to me and my conscience." You roll your chair back, the meaning clear.

 

You are moving away from her. She repels you. They both repel you.

 

You stand and speak loudly and as clearly as you can to those assembled. "I must apologize. I am in a period of mourning and am now returning to it. My remarks have been captured?" You look to the staff tasked with monitoring the recording devices and they nod. "Then I take my leave of you. Good day to you all."

 

And you sweep out, the way you have always admired your father for doing. You can feel his gaze on you, burning into you. He would stop you if doing so would not betray him.

 

Like those early days. When you defied him, and he punished you. And still you defied him again.

 

You will always defy him. He has never understood you. You feel a sudden longing for human women: your wife. Your mother.

 

And your lost lover.

 

You make your way to the Starfleet cemetery. An urn that you know is empty sits in a cabinet carved into the marble wall, glass keeping it safe from the elements. On the brass marker, it says it is Christine's final resting place. She is not there, but still, it is the closest you can come to her.

 

Your communicator buzzes with Saavik's tone and you pick it up immediately.

 

"Come home, Spock. Your room is ready, and Sulek misses his grandfather."

 

"Saavikaam." You remember the day you found the half-grown, feral child. Now she is the granter of succor, of peace and love. Did you know she would be? Is that why you took her in as your ward—as your daughter of heart, if not body—when others told you she would never be tamed?

 

Perhaps you did. Or perhaps, you were simply fortunate. In any case, there is nowhere else you would rather go. "I will be there shortly."

 

 

 

Perrin

 

She sits dumbfounded next to a Sarek she's sure is furious. When she was younger, she thought she would just know these things, that she would be bonded to him. It was crushing to learn Vulcans cannot bond with humans unless they are exceptionally talented psychically.

 

She is normal that way. Excruciatingly normal.

 

She wants to reach out to Sarek, to touch his neck, and massage it the way he enjoys. But of course she doesn't. It would be most unseemly, and she's made it her life's work to be a good Vulcan wife, even if she is not Vulcan.

 

So instead she reaches for the mint tea—blessedly real mint here on Earth, instead of that dreck the Vulcans call mint—and sips it as if her stepson did not just run these proceedings off the rails.

 

Sarek stands slowly, and she looks up at him, trying to project assurance and faith. "My son has raised some interesting points. He is also...somewhat compromised with the death of his spouse."

 

She smiles into her tea. Sarek won't lose. He'll never lose and that's why she loves him. He's more than Spock can ever hope to be. She's grateful their son, Sarrin, has not followed in his brothers' footsteps of defying their father. He understands how fortunate he is to be the son of this great man and has followed the plan laid out for him, working now at the Vulcan Science Academy, married harmoniously to T'Pela.

 

Sarek takes a long breath, as if he too feels the weight of Nyota's death. Then he says, "We must forge on. We must follow one path—a house divided cannot stand."

 

"Is not your house divided, Sarek?" The Andorian ambassador is smirking.

 

She hates him so. Wants to hurl her teacup across the aisle at him and his aide. They love to undercut her husband.

 

"As I said, my son is not entirely himself."

 

The Andorian's smirk grows bigger, and she can feel her hands shaking.

 

"I suggest a recess for lunch," the representative from the President's office says, giving Sarek a look that clearly says, "In my office, now."

 

Perrin bites back a sigh.

 

Damn Spock. Damn him to hell.

 

 

 

Part 4 - If I Just Let Go, I'd Be Set Free

 

Spock

 

You are on a shuttle to Earth, a hypo wrapped in protective covering, carrying a serum it has taken you eighty years to safely get.

 

The cure for Silestyan. It fell into your lap, as McCoy might say. You were meeting with a group of Romulans and one of them was treating a patient with the disorder.

 

You knew Pardek was watching you as you tried to hide any reaction. Then he reached into the man's medical bag and handed you a hypospray. "I'm a senator now, Spock. I have access to a great deal. The Tal Shiar know of your affair with Commander Chapel—and her subsequent illness from being on Ramaya. Naughty Starfleet going there without permission." He laughs but then he smiles gently. "Just promise me that getting her back will not dim our cause in your heart."

 

You feel such affection and gratitude for him, the way you used to for Sybok, when he would protect you from the Vulcan bullies who tormented you, and walk you home. "I will not. I am committed to unification."

 

"Then I hope your reunion is sweet, my friend." He clasps your arm in the Romulan fashion. "My brother."

 

You transfer shuttles several times, finally get to Spacedock and beam down to Oaxaca. The walk to the location of the cryo center is short. A young woman looks up and smiles. "How may I help you, sir?"

 

You are not family, so you do what Jim would have. Fake it. "I am Ambassador Spock."

 

Her eyes shine. "I know, sir. I'm a fan."

 

"It is of the utmost urgency that we wake up a sleeper in your care."

 

"Which one?" She looks as if she wants to help you.

 

"Marina Talbot."

 

She searches her database, but then shakes her head. "I'm sorry, sir. She's not here."

 

"Where was she moved?"

 

"No, you don't understand. Her family claimed her, as was their right per the sleep agreement. Let me see if they woke her. Oh..."

 

You push in, but you cannot make out the screen—some kind of field prevents it from being read from the side.

 

The woman swallows visibly. "Her pod malfunctioned. Apparently she was sick and the illness progressed even though she appeared to be fully frozen. She was cremated, sir. Ashes scattered per request, this says."

 

"When?" How long has she been gone and you did not know it?

 

"Four years ago." She meets your eyes. "You knew her, didn't you?"

 

You nod. What is the point of lying?

 

She does something else to the terminal, muttering as she works. "Here it is. Her ashes were scattered over the Pacific Ocean. From Lake Merced Nature Reserve. Do you know where that is?"

 

"Yes." It is in San Francisco. Hide in plain sight. Or destroy in plain sight is more accurate.

 

The hypo bumps gently in the pocket of your robe.

 

"In your database, can you tell what illness she was suffering from?" Perhaps there are others here who could benefit from what you have brought back?

 

"No, sir. That's protected information. Only the sleeper and those they've told know."

 

So the cure is useless.

 

You thank the woman and leave, beaming to San Francisco, taking a flitter out to Lake Merced. You walk to the beach, remembering the way Christine looked as she told you she'd be sleeping until a cure was found.

 

Had it hurt? Dying that way? Had she been aware? Why did Starfleet not check on her? Why did they let this happen to a valued officer?

 

Why do you have to follow their lead if this is what they do to one who was nothing but faithful to their cause? You are tired of being circumspect of having to work Pardek and the journey toward reunification into your schedule.

 

They should be the only thing on your schedule.

 

The most logical step, if that is your goal, is to go to Romulus. To gather converts and work from the inside. To make a difference to the only thing left that is yours.

 

For a moment, you think of Saavik, of the child you consider a grandson. But it is not enough to hold you, not when—if you are honest—your heart is a torn and broken thing. You simply cannot weather another loss. It is time to turn your energy to this cause.

 

This cause will never hurt you.

 

You hear Christine's voice in your mind. "Don't do this, Spock. Don't lose your humanity."

 

She trusted Starfleet's humanity and look where it got her. You take out the hypo, tear off the protective wrapping that would make it float, and throw it hard, the water carrying it as the waves recede from the beach. It will sink, forever lost—just as she is.

 

You begin your preparations for relocating to Romulus as you sit on the sand, looking out at the waves.

 

Starfleet will think you have defected.

 

You could not care less.

 

 

 

Christine

 

I wake, tears on my face, grabbing for the anesthesia mask that was the last thing I remember. That and the tears: I didn't want to go away, not when Spock could have been mine.

 

"Shhh," a female voice says. "It'll be all right. Just take it slow."

 

"When?"

 

"It is 0400," a voice that sounds almost mechanical says.

 

"No," I say, with a snap to my voice even though it sounds like it's made of gravel. "What's the date?"

 

A British voice this time. Soothing. "January fifteenth, 2372."

 

Holy shit. Nearly eighty years.

 

My next thought is for him. "Spock?"

 

"All will be explained in good time." The man is a blur; they all are.

 

"I can't see."

 

"It's a protective gel." The female voice. She must be a doctor.

 

And of course, they used the same type of gel we used during our cryo experiments. To keep moisture in the eye. The one we used had to be melted with a counteragent. "Give me the drops."

 

"Commander Chapel, I'll do it in a moment. Let me finish with your vitals."

 

"Doctor Chapel." I hold out my hand and feel tubes coming with me. How many ports did we use? Three, four? I know my vitals are rising since I'm feeling panic coming over me.

 

This too was normal for those waking up from cryo.

 

"Jean-Luc, talk to her. I need to finish this."

 

"Commander Chapel. My name is Captain Picard. I'm with Starfleet. Please stay still."

 

"And quiet," the mechanical voice says. "There are guards in this vicinity."

 

"Guards?" I start to laugh, softly though. "You don't have authorization to wake me up, do you?"

 

"It's somewhat complicated." The British voice is full of humor but also warning. "But I made a promise to James T. Kirk that I would bring Spock home. Since I know he won't leave Romulus for me, you'll go get him."

 

"There isn't a single part of that sentence that made sense."

 

"I'll explain more once we're on the Enterprise. Please let Doctor Crusher work so we can get out of here."

 

I laugh again. Of course he's the captain of the Enterprise. Who else would run some harebrained scheme to kidnap Spock's lover out of cryo?

 

I run through a meditation they taught us in ops, breathing slowly, hearing Crusher say, "Good, yes, keep that up."

 

Then I feel things coming off me, tubes and God knows what else. Drops go in my eyes and the blurriness starts to resolve.

 

 "We can go," Crushers says, and Picard murmurs, "Enterprise, four to beam up."

 

The familiar feeling of a transporter whisks us away from wherever we were.

 

I'm put on a stasis gurney, and Picard walks with us to sickbay. The ship is so different than the one I remember, even if all I'm seeing are the corridors. But children are running by us.

 

Children? On a starship?

 

By the time we get to sickbay, I can sit up on my own and do, much to Crusher's chagrin.

 

"We have orders, Sir," a new voice and I turn to see a tall man with a beard. "Hello, Commander."

 

I nod, unable to fully make out the pips on his uniform, sure he'll forgive me given the circumstances.

 

"Let's get you walking. Jean-Luc, I'll comm you when she's ready to talk to you."

 

"Fine, Beverly. Number One, with me."

 

I swallow hard, feeling panic again.

 

"It must be overwhelming," she says softly. "Just relax and let me work, all right?"

 

So I do, and I feel a hiss, and smile. "Anti-anxiety meds?"

 

"Just call me Doctor Feelgood."

 

"That used to be my line." I have a feeling she and I would have gotten along great.

 

Time passes then, and I float a little, and when I open my eyes again, I can see clearly. A bald man is sitting on the stool next to the biobed. "Commander." So this is Picard.

 

"Call me Christine. You did wake me up, after all."

 

"I did." He scoots his stool closer.

 

"You mentioned Jim."

 

He nods, his expression changing, growing sad. "The reason no body was found for Captain Kirk is because he was caught up by the energy ribbon that was presumed to have killed him. He was actually...living inside it. I got him out and he gave his life stopping a madman."

 

"That's my Jim." I swallow, hard. I'm not sure how to absorb this. So I move on. "And why is Spock on Romulus?"

 

"Several years earlier, Spock found the cure for you, but Starfleet had you moved and made it look as if you'd died—I don't know why. He...he didn't take it well. He's apparently had dreams of unifying the Vulcans and Romulans for some time so he went there, but he was being used by Romulan intelligence. They very nearly invaded Vulcan."

 

"But they didn't?"

 

"No. And during that operation, Spock and my Mister Data, the other voice you heard at the cryo chamber, were able to gain access to the Romulan information servers. It's where we found the cure you needed—you're no longer dying, my dear."

 

"Thank you for that."

 

"You're welcome." And now he actually looks embarrassed. "There was also a great deal of information about you—and your relationship with Spock—in the Romulan intelligence files we accessed. They gave him the cure when they did because they knew he'd have nothing left if he thought you were dead. They were monitoring the various places Starfleet was keeping you, it's how we knew where to look."

 

"And you've sprung me from cold storage why?"

 

"Because I made a promise to James Kirk that I would bring his friend home. And I can't do that—but you can."

 

I can't help it. I laugh. "You expect me to believe that you'd risk your career—and possibly compromise any number of important things—for that? A promise?" Starfleet intelligence would have his hide as well as his ship and commission.

 

He leans in. "I might. You don't know I wouldn't."

 

"I'm a pretty good reader of people. There's more."

 

He nods, as if conceding. "We need him. Here, not on Romulus. We're getting troubling intelligence. There are...things happening in other quadrants that may soon spill over into ours." He sighs. "At the moment, we can't go to Romulus to get him, but you can. And Starfleet proper can't be part of this—it has to look like a rogue operation."

 

"I sure didn't miss this kind of thing while I was sleeping." Not that I "missed" anything. I didn't even dream. Went to sleep at the end of one century, woke up three quarters into the next.

 

"It sounds more complicated than it will be. We are getting assistance, just..."

 

"The kind that gets disavowed if I fuck up."

 

"Quite. I hope you don't mind Klingons. You'll be riding with some."

 

"Joy." Although I got Roger's bitch of a mother to like me, how hard can some warriors be?

 

He made a face of commiseration. "Once you arrive, your appearance will be altered to make you look Romulan. We logged his last location. You'll find him. Get him out. Take him to Vulcan. Perrin will contact me when you get there."

 

"Am I supposed to know who that is?"

 

"She's Spock's stepmother. Amanda passed away many years ago."

 

Of all the things I've heard, this makes me the saddest. "And Sarek?"

 

"He's dead as well. Just a few years ago."

 

I feel so many things building up, so many losses. "Does Spock know?"

 

"Yes." His smile is bittersweet. "I melded with both of them. Sarek was an extraordinary man. Spock...Spock is, I think, a defeated one in some ways. Cause or no. He needs you, Christine. He needs to be...loved."

 

"He was loved. He had a wife."

 

"Yes, but she's gone. He hasn't taken a lover, as far as we know. He is..." His face changes and he looks down. "I fear he might be much changed from when you knew him."

 

And at this, I laugh. "Do you know how many versions of Spock I've known over the years? I'll find him in there. My Spock." The one who finally, when it was far too late, loved me.

 

His grin is infectious; I decide I like this Captain Picard. "I have no doubt of that, Christine."

 

 

 

Spock

 

You are tired, in spirit, in body. Your mission, in its own inexorable way, is a success. The Romulan people would find their way without you, but you know you have helped speed the process to some extent. Having an interlocutor for questions, someone to answer "But how did Vulcan handle this issue" has been invaluable to those who seek.

 

But you are not sure you are making enough of a difference to warrant staying. And you long to go home—if you still have one now that your father is gone.

 

"Spock?" D'Tan stands at the opening, his presence barely an imposition.

 

"Yes?"

 

"There is someone to see you."

 

"A new convert?" There are so many now. Not all of them legitimate—the Tal Shiar has not given up trying to infiltrate, but your Romulan brothers and sisters in the cause take care of them. Permanently.

 

That should horrify you, that they kill in the name of peace, but the needs of the many...

 

"No, it's a woman who says you know her. From a long time ago. She appears Romulan, but she sounds human."

 

You feel something rising inside you, something you have not felt in a very, very long time. It is hope and you squashed it out the day you threw the cure to Christine's illness into the ocean.

 

Could it be? "Show her in."

 

Her smile is the same. Cocky yet somehow gentle, the emotions mingling on features transformed to Romulan. "Howdy, sailor."

 

The skin around your mouth nearly cracks as you smile, a miniscule break, but still a smile. An expression you have not made in decades, you think. "How?"

 

"Starfleet fucking with you, primarily—or maybe they moved me for their own reasons. Picard wasn't sure. Your buddies here knew where I was, fortunately." She gestures toward the roof of the cave and you take it to mean the Tal Shiar.

 

"It is, indeed, fortunate."

 

"I like Picard. He says you melded with him. Something I should know?" She is waggling her eyebrows in a silly way she never would have when she was your lover.

 

It is ironic how much lighter she can be in this dark cave after eighty years of sleep than when you were together.

 

"I am not involved with Picard. Or anyone." You study her. She looks just as she did. Not young, but a piece of your past nonetheless, come back to you.

 

Just as Jim would have been, if you'd found him inside the Nexus. Picard sent word, let you know what had happened. You mourned your friend twice, only less intently the second time. Somehow, knowing there was a body made it easier to let go.

 

"You gonna stare at me all day?" She is grinning now.

 

"You have a beautiful smile. I did not have cause to see it during our year."

 

"No, I wasn't smiling this smile. This is joy, Spock."

 

And you feel it, along with hope; you feel joy, some small spark, breaking through the walls you have built.

 

She takes another step toward you. "I've changed a little though. Thanks to technology." She pushes a strand of hair that has worked loose back into her ponytail.

 

"The ears suit you."

 

"They do, don't they?" She glances over at D'Tan and says, "I think this is your cue to go, junior."

 

D'Tan doesn't even look to you for confirmation. He fairly flees, pulling the curtain closed behind him.

 

"When I thought you were dead..." You are not sure how to tell her what has changed, how much of you has been buried.

 

"Starfleet wanted you to think that. Believe me, I'm going to have words with whoever wanted you to think that." She reaches for you, her hand on your cheek, and you feel her anger, but not at you—at Starfleet for how they left you hopeless—and you feel her love.

 

Her love, warm and soft and easing in, between the cracks in the walls you have built, like weeds through a sidewalk. Slow and subtle, but inexorable. "I lost hope, Christine."

 

You have never considered that losing hope meant losing her. You have lost so many other things before. But she was the one that would save you. She was always your—how did Jim put it? Your sure thing. Waiting, in cryo, for you. Waiting to bring you back to life.

 

"It's okay if you lost hope. We'll find it. Because I'm back. And I'm healthy—it would seem that Commander Data accessed some medical logs while he was breaking into Romulan databases. He found the cure."

 

"Most fortuitous."

 

"It was."

 

"But I had the cure, Christine. I compromised nothing getting it—the Tal Shiar already knew about your illness."

 

"I know." She touches you and you feel her gratitude that you never stopped trying. "Pardek also knew I'd been moved. Picard thought that Pardek planned it that way—that you thinking me dead was the final push needed toward unification and...coming here." She gestures around the cave. "But it doesn't matter who healed me at this point. Just that I'm here to take you home. It's time—and you're needed." And her smile as she says the last part is fierce, like Jim would be or your father if he'd ever smiled. Fierce and relentless.

 

It is time. And you are needed.

 

You pull her closer and can feel in the pulse of her heartbeat, in the sensation of skin on skin, that she expects a fight about leaving. Instead you just gather her up into your arms, pulling her down to the bed and kissing her.

 

"Is this your new way of arguing?" she asks when you finally let her up.

 

"I am not arguing. I wish to go home. More accurately, I have no home, but I wish to build one with you."

 

"That's a very nice thing to say." She's moving her clothes out of the way, then yours, and she seems to be figuring out how you are older, how things move more slowly than they did—or so you presume. You have not taken a lover since you thought you lost her.

 

"It was just a few breaths for me, Spock. A lifetime for you. I should be dead by now."

 

"You are not. And I am..." You stop and let a real smile show. "I am happy that you are not." And then you pull her onto you, because things are not moving as slowly as you feared, and she smells sweet and ripe and warm, and burying yourself in her flesh is the most natural thing to do.

 

You hear someone at the curtain, then D'Tan saying you are not to be disturbed. Your young friend somehow understands what Christine means to you, and he is protecting you. You have never loved him more.

 

Love. An emotion you have tried to barricade yourself from even acknowledging you can still feel, but you do, for that young man, for Picard who is still looking out for you, and for this woman who found you even when you failed to rescue her.

 

"I missed you." She is holding you almost desperately. As if there is still someone between you.

 

Well, there is—the Romulan government—but no other woman.

 

"You missed me even in the breaths of no time?"

 

"Even so. I woke up with tears on my face, Spock. The tears I shed as I fell asleep."

 

"Did you dream?"

 

"I didn't. I was lucky, I think. I just had our goodbye, a day of madly getting my crap together without looking like I was doing that, and then poof, asleep. And then another poof and awake. The first question I asked was 'When?' Where seemed inconsequential compared to that. Then I asked about you."

 

You close your eyes and breathe in the scent of her, reveling in the soft noises she is making, and you kiss her so she can let go and bury the sound of her climax in your mouth. The feel of her tightening around you sends you following.

 

Bliss. It is the only thing you can think. And nothing has ever felt like this since you lost her. You loved Nyota, you greatly enjoyed sex with her, but it lacked something...elemental that you feel with Christine.

 

She nuzzles your neck, kissing gently, then biting down softly on your ear before letting go and whispering, "My ship returns tomorrow morning. Can you say your goodbyes by then?"

 

"I can." You pull away, so you can see her face, her beautiful blue eyes, the lovely pale skin, still youthful compared to how you have aged. "I am not as I was."

 

She reaches down, her hand circling you, causing you to groan as she squeezes and releases, then repeats the motion until you moan helplessly. "This guy begs to differ."

 

She lets go and studies you, taking in, you think, the changes time has wrought. "We'll figure out the rest. On Vulcan."

 

"Why there?"

 

"Because you have a stepmother who's expecting us according to my travel agent Picard." She starts to laugh. "My little sojourn here isn't exactly on the books."

 

"You are evading extradition?"

 

"No. But not everyone knows I'm here. Frankly, I think Picard may be making this up as he goes along. But I trust him."

 

"He is a man of good character. I trust him, as well."

 

"Well there you go. It'll be you and me, getting to know Perrin. Or I will. I guess you know her?"

 

"I do." You make no attempt to hide the dislike in your tone.

 

"Ouch. Well, leave her to me."

 

You wonder if Saavik will be there. The daughter you abandoned. The grandson you adored.

 

Her expression changes, and you feel her compassion everywhere you are touching her. "Joking aside, I'm so sorry about your parents. I cared for them. You must miss them so."

 

You nod. "Perrin and I did not part on good terms."

 

"Well, Picard likes her. " She laughs her way into a kiss, her breath warm in your mouth. You kiss for a long time before she pulls away and says, "Besides, there isn't a person I can't soften up. Years of practice in ops—and on the way here. Once you've made a Klingon crew putty in your hands, it's pretty much a cakewalk after that."

 

And you smile, more smiles with her than in a very long time. "I believe that."

 

 

 

Perrin

 

She tries not to be too obvious looking at the chrono on the wall of the salon. She's expecting Spock and some Starfleet officer named Chapel. Having a gentleman caller at this moment is beyond inconvenient.

 

Having two of them, even more so.

 

She's become quite the catch for Vulcans of a certain age. It's well known how fiercely she protected Sarek and his reputation. How she did it within the Vulcan way, despite being human.

 

She seems to now be catnip to these men staring down their own mortality.

 

Sotahk and Saverin are both prominent men. Neither knew the other was planning a visit to her. She thinks it's time to reinstitute the concept of calling cards—or just to insist on a social calendar. Being human does not mean she's spontaneous by nature.

 

In fact, she's not. She's been a planner all her life.

 

The door chimes. She cannot decide which will be more uncomfortable: a third eligible male or Spock.

 

When Spock walks in, with a human woman in tow, she decides this is definitely the more awkward of the two.

 

Sotakh stands. "Spock. It has been a very long time."

 

"Indeed, sir. Most agreeable to see you." He looks at Saverin. "And you as well, Cousin."

 

She nearly rolls her eyes. He's not that closely related. A fourth cousin once removed—she checked it herself when he started to come around. But trust Spock to establish some familial bond when it doesn't need to be called out.

 

"May I introduce my mate. Commander Christine Chapel."

 

Perrin thinks the designation surprises Chapel as much as it does her and the two men, but she rallies quickly.

 

"Gentleman. Very nice to meet you but it's been a long trip." Chapel meets Perrin's eyes. "His normal room?"

 

"Of course. I have changed nothing." Even though she wanted to turn it into a sewing room just for spite. But he is Sarek's son and she will honor that. She's just glad Sarrin and T'Pela are off world. She has no wish to see her boy at odds with this man if she and Spock get into an argument over Sarek—or the house.

 

Sarek left it to them both. To her, to pass on to Sarrin—if she remarries, it goes to him immediately—and to Spock, just in case, she thinks, he ever came home.

 

She thought that unlikely. How wrong she was.

 

"Gentleman, I must beg your forgiveness but I need to attend to my family."

 

Sotahk and Saverin rise, saying all the right things, letting her go. She thinks Saverin wants to hang back, but she shoos them out as effectively as she ever managed Sarek.

 

Men are easy. Men who aren't Spock, that is.

 

She walks down the hallway, making sure her footsteps sound out so it will not appear she is sneaking.

 

Chapel comes out, stands just outside the door, arms crossed over her chest, head cocked, expression as unreadable as a Vulcan.

 

Perrin can feel herself bristling. Is she being assessed in her own house?

 

She decides to go on the attack. "The last time I checked, Spock's mate was Nyota Uhura." Such a comment is beyond rude, but she will not be put on notice by some interloper.

 

"Last time I checked Sarek was alive and married to another woman. But, I've been asleep for eighty years, so what the hell do I know?" She smiles, and it lights up her face.

 

Perrin thinks it's a weapon she wields on purpose—such a contrast to her stony gaze of before. And yet, she finds herself relaxing in the light of it. "Asleep?"

 

"Cryo." She looks into the room. "Take the cough medicine and get into bed. Now." Then she pulls the door closed. "Romulan caves are bad for the lungs. Someone didn't care about that. Now he does." She walks toward her, takes her by the arm, and says, "Picard says you have real mint tea."

 

She's used to being the one doing the manipulating and yet she finds herself leading Chapel to the kitchen, making her tea, and even getting out the nice mugs. "Sugar?"

 

"If you have it, yes. I've been craving it since I woke up. Haven't been warm, either. Man, does Vulcan feel good—once I took my tri-ox." Her smile is unguarded—in that way that says it's meant to look that way but is hiding worlds.

 

"You have me quite at a disadvantage, Commander."

 

"Christine. Or Chris. Whichever."

 

"Which do you prefer?" She wants to know—it will tell her a lot about the woman. Christine is more formal. More weighty. Chris is your kid sister, the neighbor down the hall who watches your cat.

 

"Honestly, I don't prefer either. Men I loved called me both names. So they're both precious." She smiles but then the look turns sad. "I know this is years late, but I'm very sorry for your loss. Sarek was a friend of mine."

 

And then it clicks. This is the woman Sarek wanted Spock to be with. He warmed to Nyota over time, just as she did. But this is the one he preferred.

 

She finds, as is usually the case, that she agrees with him.

 

"Thank you, Christine." That sounds right. Chris sounds like a name someone else would call her. "I miss him a great deal."

 

She nods. "He was such a good man. So strong."

 

She remembers the end. The raving wreck this woman thankfully never had to see. "Yes. He was."

 

Christine's look changes, grows a little devilish. "Were those men wooing you? Do they come in pairs here now?"

 

"Neither intended to show up at the same time. And yes, I'm apparently quite the catch. Elderly men love a woman who can nurse."

 

Christine doesn't ask about that, so she assumes Spock told her about Sarek's disease. She just nods and says, "I was a nurse, once. Men eat that nurture stuff up, don't they?"

 

"They do seem to. I don't know that I wish to remarry, though."

 

"Then don't. Entertain the notion with your various men but commit to nothing. That way you get dinner companions but don't have to settle down with just one." She looks out where Amanda's roses used to grow and Perrin tenses—was this woman ever here to see the garden? "What a pretty pool."

 

She relaxes. "It is, isn't it? Spock will hate it."

 

"He doesn't like swimming?"

 

She thinks this woman knows full well if Spock does or doesn't like swimming. She is just trying to put her at ease.

 

It's working, but she's still aware of the trick.

 

"It was where his mother's roses were. They...they didn't prosper once she was gone." Even if she'd had to wait till Sarek was gone, too, to have the spot redone.

 

She hears footsteps coming, heavy. Spock. She can feel herself tensing again.

 

Christine rolls her eyes as she turns to him. "You're supposed to be sleeping. You didn't sleep at all on the Klingon ship."

 

"Perhaps because I was not certain I would still have a mate when we arrived here. You were quite popular."

 

"As I said." She grins up at him and for a moment, Perrin thinks he's going to lean down and kiss her, but of course he doesn't. His eyes though are very soft.

 

He stops and looks out at the pool, and Perrin waits for it, the tone she knows by heart, the disapproval of this final usurpation.

 

But instead he just nods, slowly, as if something makes sense to him.

 

"The roses were dying, Spock. And Sulek loves it." She sounds defensive. She hates that.

 

"Sulek is...?" Christine looks from her to Spock.

 

She wonders how they can be mates if she doesn't know about Spock's grandson in spirit if not in blood.

 

"Saavik's son," Spock answers, then looks over at her. "Is she on Vulcan?"

 

"No, Spock. The world does not stop and start where you are."

 

She watches Christine to see if she will jump to his defense, the way she would have to Sarek's, but she waits, expressionless.

 

Again he nods. "I am aware of that, Perrin." There is no acid in his tone. It sounds like he means what he says.

 

She doesn't know how to respond.

 

Christine smiles gently. "Tea would be good. Help you sleep. But without sugar." She looks at her in the way women have, the pleasant smile of "Do this, please."

 

She gets to work making another cup.

 

She is making tea for Spock and he's sitting next to this woman she's never met and waiting like an obedient child. She thinks his hand may be on Christine's knee, and Christine puts her arm around him for a moment, laying her cheek against his forehead. "Your fever's down."

 

"That is hardly an accurate method for determining my temperature."

 

She lets him go and picks up her tea. "Don't call my methods into question, Mister. I learned from the best."

 

"Christine is a doctor as well as a scientist," he says, explaining for her benefit—possibly for the first time. It is a gesture of...grace.

 

Their interactions have never had that.

 

"This tea is wonderful," Christine says, and she meets her eyes, and Perrin knows the woman understands that this is new—this agreeable moment with Spock. She has read the room in scant moments and somehow erased years of discord.

 

Or maybe just jumped over them—eighty years of ignorance of what he said or she said. Bringing back a different Spock, weathered by his time on Romulus in ways she doesn't entirely understand but finds welcome.

 

With no Sarek between them, perhaps it's now possible to have a relationship that's not rife with bitterness.

 

She finds she would welcome it. That, too, is new.

 

Perhaps they have all changed.

 

 

 

Christine

 

I'm sitting on the patio, staring at the pool, wishing I'd packed a suit. Stifling a sigh, I lean back in the lounger, staring at the gorgeous night sky, full of stars. It feels so good to be outside, free and unconfined.

 

The door opens, and I turn, ready to lecture Spock for not staying in bed, but it's Perrin.

 

She's holding two glasses, each with a finger of amber liquid. "Can't sleep?"

 

I laugh. I can't help it. It's funny. After eighty years of doing nothing but and sleeping like a baby on the mission to get Spock and back, tonight, now that we're finally safe, I can't relax enough to close my eyes.

 

"Here." She hands me one of the glasses.

 

I recognize the scent. "Whiskey?"

 

"Rye. Don't tell Spock. One more reason to judge me."

 

"Both his best friend and I drank Scotch. He better not judge you for this." I taste the rye and smile, leaning my head back as I feel the warm, spicy burn. "This is good."

 

"It's from my hometown. Vail."

 

"No wonder you prosper here. You're used to thin air."

 

"I am." She studies me. "Are you all right?"

 

"Sure. Right as rain." I lift my glass and realize my hand is shaking.

 

"Drink up. Then we're going swimming." As I start to say I don't have a suit, she holds up a hand. "There are loads of suits in the changing room over there. I never know who's going to show up here between Saavik's family and my son's."

 

"Son? You mean, Spock has another brother he never told me about?"

 

She rolls her eyes. "It doesn't surprise me he'd leave that out. Being my son was Sarrin's first sin. His second was that they've never had much common ground other than their father. Maybe that can change. Sarek was the love of my life and I miss him terribly, but I'm wondering if without him, the family will...fill in."

 

"Nature abhors a vacuum?"

 

"Just so."

 

"It can happen." I drink down the rye and go to the changing room rummaging around till I find a suit that works. Perrin is already in the pool when I come out.

 

She's splashing happily, and I try to imagine her in a rose garden that belonged to another woman. It's hard. "Vulcans don't really enjoy swimming, Christine. Can you imagine?"

 

I slip into the water. It's warm enough to be comforting, but not so hot it doesn't refresh. "I can't, actually." I'm feeling the whiskey, the slightly woozy, happy feeling, and I hold my hand up. Rock steady. I'm off my game: normally booze would be the first thing an ops lifer would reach for.

 

I paddle around for a while, then float on my back, staring at the stars.

 

"You didn't expect Spock to introduce you as his mate, did you?" Her tone is tentative, as if she's not sure I'll welcome this kind of inquiry.

 

I laugh softly. Because while it is nosy, it's also clear this woman misses nothing. "I sure didn't."

 

"Did it displease you? You hide your emotions quite well. I could tell you were surprised, but not how you felt about it otherwise."

 

I turn over, treading water, making circles in the water with my hands. "I've loved Spock for a very long time. Years even before I was involved with him."

 

"Before Nyota?"

 

"Uh...?" How much to tell her? Spock would probably prefer I make a better story than that I was his mistress. But who else am I going to talk to about this? My friends are dead. Picard? He didn't strike me as the kind to want to dig deep into my romances.

 

"Ohhhh," she says, getting it before I can tell her, surprise in her voice but not a lot of judgment. "While he was married?"

 

"No, engaged, but not married. It was...not my finest moment." But wasn't it? I won him, after all. Even if I didn't get to keep him. He would have left Ny. "It was after Jim died. There were healthier coping mechanisms for both Spock and me, but we chose each other. And then I got sick with something there was no cure for...in the Federation, at that time." I wait to see if she'll understand.

 

She doesn't disappoint. "Ah."

 

"Yeah. The horrible part is Ny was one of my best friends. Until that. But then I went into cryo, and that was not open knowledge at the time. Starfleet said I was lost during a mission. So I was out of Ny's hair—no lingering awkwardness at reunions."

 

"That explains a lot, actually. The way Nyota and Spock were with each other. Not that they didn't love each other, because I believe they did. But...I think you were always there, between them."

 

"Ny thought I was dead."

 

"Believe me a ghost can come between a man and his wife." She looks down.

 

"Amanda?"

 

She nods. "I never tried to be her. I didn't want to replace her. But Sarek deserved love. And it was logical that he remarry. The age span of a Vulcan compared to a human nearly mandates he will outlive his spouse."

 

I nod. I sense that she has possibly never talked about this to anyone who knew Amanda.

 

"All my life with him I worked hard to find some balance of dutiful wife, almost Vulcan, but still being me. But she was the benchmark against which I was constantly judged." She kicks out, splashing water, then goes still. "Do I measure up, my dear? Please be honest."

 

"You don't have to measure up. You're you. She was Amanda. Sarek loved you both."

 

Her face clouds but she nods. I decide not to explore further. There's a stiffness to her that wasn't there before. A door that says, "This far and no further."

 

I can respect that.

 

I go back to stargazing. "I guess, while I was sleeping, Spock decided we were mates. Star-crossed, obviously."

 

"Or he decided it in the short time you had with him on Romulus. He's very impetuous."

 

I laugh, because he is. And unilateral. The idea of telling me I was his mate before he shared it with the world probably never occurred to him. "I don't mind being his mate. I just..." No, this is too much to share.

 

"You just what?"

 

I paddle away, and realize I'm crying. Shit, what is wrong with me?

 

"Eighty years, Christine. Eighty years and they send you right out, and you do it. You do it because I think you always get the job done, don't you? No matter how much you might need to just take a moment, get a breath, and stop to say, 'Where the hell am I?'"

 

I nod, not turning, not wanting her to see me so weak.

 

"I can't imagine what you must be going through. Were you out here because it feels too close inside?"

 

I nod. "I was asleep the whole time. There's no way that should have made me claustrophobic. I never have been before." And I was fine on the Klingon ship. Then again, on the way out I was drinking blood wine and learning warrior songs instead of dealing with what's happened to me. And on the way back, I had Spock to worry about. "I'm falling apart but he needs me strong." I say it as softly as I can, but she has ears like a Vulcan.

 

"I know that well. Sarek's illness. It was...all consuming." She paddles over to me. "It's why I don't want to remarry. Even if I enjoy the courtship of all these Vulcan gentlemen. I don't want to be a supporting character in another person's story. I want to star."

 

"And you should. You should be the star."

 

"I've grown close to Saavik over the years. It took time, but we found our way. Her family comes here often—her son, especially. He is a child of three worlds, and I think the fact that I'm human is comforting to him. And now my daughter-in-law is pregnant. I'll be a grandmother again—and ready to appreciate it this time."

 

"That sounds wonderful. You have a full life—family and home."

 

"But you your career, from what I heard Sarek say. He thought so highly of you, Christine, of your abilities, not just your character. No matter what happens, Spock will not be the star of your story. You both will. And you've already been with an even more famous man, haven't you? Kirk couldn't have been easy."

 

"He was, though. He was fun." And I still miss him. And suddenly the idea of him dying under a pile of rubble is more than I can bear. "And we should have kept looking. We gave up and he was still alive and then he had to die for real and—"

 

I'm crying again. God damn it. I'm crying because Jim was lost in some energy ribbon while Spock and I were fucking. And because I'm a little bit adrift even though I know Spock loves me and wants to be with me and that, yes, Picard was right that I was the one who could make him leave Romulus.

 

The only one.

 

But still. So much, piling on. Friends, now dead. Family who don't even know me but are related. Do I even have a job still? Am I retired now?

 

I am shaking with the effort of keeping everything together.

 

She pulls me in, one arm holding to the edge of the pool, one around me. "Oh, dear, let it out. I won't tell anyone. And the pool will catch all your tears."

 

And that undoes me. I don't know how long I cry, but it's hard and ugly and I'm sure I look a mess. But once I'm done, she lets me go.

 

"Thank you."

 

"Don't thank me. I've been you in some ways. Believe me." She paddles to the steps. "I think we could use another drink."

 

"Definitely." I laugh, the sound half sob, half amusement.

 

"Get yourself together. If Picard needed you to get Spock, then I imagine there'll be much to do once he gets here tomorrow. Your life will be lived at double time, I think."

 

"Probably so." Or I'll be sent to some remedial learning place, like Gillian was when Jim brought her back with the whales.

 

I roll onto my back again and watch the stars, trying to find some inner peace. Finally doing it, but realizing that Perrin is taking a long time to come with more hooch. She finally comes out. "Spock was coughing. I gave him another hypo."

 

I start to laugh. "Was he awake?"

 

"Yes. I don't think he knew what to make of me being...motherly. I just pretended it was Sarek, and he shut up and took his medicine like a good boy." She sighs. "They really are children, Christine. If women ran the world..."

 

I laugh as if I agree, but I've been on worlds where females ran things. They fuck it up just as bad, sadly. Greed and hunger for power are not limited to males.

 

She sets the glasses next to the pool, then gets back in the water. I swim over and take a glass, and we clink them gently.

 

"To a new friend, I hope," she says softly.

 

"To a new friend. A very kind, new friend."

 

Her smile transforms her face. "Cheers."

 

 

 

Spock

 

You wake and realize the tight and heavy feeling in your chest, which you've been ignoring for months, has eased.

 

You turn and see Christine lying next to you, one hand above her head, and she smells slightly of the chemicals used in pools. You imagine making love to her in that pool, some day when Perrin is out for a long time—perhaps with one of the Vulcans that are no doubt wooing her.

 

The wife of Sarek, even though she is human, is still a significant figure. And you saw through the meld with Picard how well she guarded your father's dignity.

 

It is probably the meld that is making you so much less brittle with her. That and time.

 

You check the chrono to make sure it is not too early to wake Christine then you lean over, kissing along her shoulder, savoring the scent of her.

 

"Mmmmm." She smiles. "Can it be my husband kissing me awake? The guy who apparently mated with me without even a fucking proposal."

 

You can feel more amusement than rancor when you touch her, so you settle for saying, "It is I. Should we have discussed the designation?"

 

"Uh, yes." She is laughing and opens her eyes.

 

You are struck again by how blue hers are. You've been surrounded by brown for so long.

 

"I need to say something, Spock." She pushes you off her and sits up, so you sit up too. "I love you."

 

"I welcome that sentiment." But you knew that. You know it every time you touch her. You can see it in the way her eyes soften for you, in the gently rueful smile you believe is yours alone.

 

"That's not where I'm going with this."

 

"All right." You realize you are smiling slightly. It has been so long since you cared about anything. Even unification became something abstract, not a passion.

 

"I don't know what Starfleet has planned for you. Or for me—if anything. But...I don't want to just be a figure in the background. If this is our life, I want to be part of it. I want to star in it, not support."

 

You smile. You honestly cannot imagine her relegated to support. Not this woman who has dragged you from the planet you thought would be your final home. "I heard rumors at times on Romulus. There are changes happening. Something to do with the Gamma Quadrant."

 

"How?"

 

"A stable wormhole."

 

Her eyebrows go way up. "Friends or enemies?"

 

"It is unclear as of yet. If I were to try to estimate what Starfleet would need from me, it is analysis not a face for diplomacy. And your perspective would be invaluable."

 

"I'm eighty years behind, Spock."

 

"So you will see things differently. Fresh eyes. You have no idea how things should be so you will question. It is always the newest to any venture who asks the questions with the most impact. I will insist on you being my partner in this effort, if they resist."

 

"I wouldn't want to resist you." She is crawling the short distance toward you, and you pull her into your lap. "But you don't even know what the effort is."

 

"It does not matter. I wish you to be part of it." You pull up her nightgown and she pulls up your robe and then you are together.

 

You smooth back her hair, enjoying the expressions she makes as you touch her and build her up. She pulls you to her, kissing you almost ferociously. Then she pulls away and neither of you talk, too intent on this feeling—and muffling the noise.

 

She is giggling as you finish, breathing your groans into her chest, and you do not think you ever heard her laugh that way when you were together before. So happy...so easy and free.

 

But then her mood changes. You remember she was often mercurial so you study her, and finally ask, "What is it?"

 

"Before we get too enmeshed in the effort, I want to go to Jim's grave. To say goodbye."

 

"I, too, wish to go there."

 

"It's probably a tourist attraction."

 

You nod. Because it probably is at this point. The Ferengi will have exploited the opportunity if Starfleet did not.

 

"I know you loved him." You are not sure you want to ask the next part.

 

And you don't have to. She smooths your hair and says, "I did. I really did. But you, Spock. You're the love of my life."

 

"And you are mine." You take her hand, twining your fingers with hers. "I realize I was remiss. Will you be my mate? My wife? My partner?"

 

She raises her eyebrows, her expression telling you that you left out a part.

 

You sigh, as if it is a great concession to say, "And my love?"

 

Her smile is delight and triumph in one. "I will." Her smile fades though. "You and Ny. You were happy, weren't you?"

 

"It took some time. After you were gone, things were strained. It was not until she was unfaithful to me that—"

 

"What?" She laughs in what sounds like relief. "Here I've been thinking I was the horrible person. Now I can relax." She leans into you. "Sorry, I interrupted."

 

"No, after that, when she chose to end it, we...found a new way to be. It was very good. I cared for her deeply."

 

"I did, too, once upon a time. I'm glad, if I couldn't have you, that she did." And she means it—you can feel it through the touch of your fingers. But then her mood shifts again, darkening. "Spock, I'm not sure I'm entirely all right."

 

You feel worry from her and let go, reaching for the tricorder she has left by the bed.

 

"No," she stops you, kissing you gently. "I'm healthy, physically. But that long in cryo. I may...I may be a little erratic at times."

 

"And this will be different in what way?" For a moment, you think it is the wrong thing to say.

 

But then she laughs, and hits your arm gently. "Okay, asshole, more erratic than usual. Be nice to me is what I'm saying. Pay attention."

 

"The way you do to me?"

 

"Yes. Let's be good to each other this time. Let's start out that way, not just finish that way."

 

"Agreed."

 

She kisses you softly, and it is warm and everything you want in this moment. "It was good being cared for last night. It has been so long." Then you frown. "Was that you both times?"

 

She starts to laugh. "Nope." She nuzzles against you. "I really like Perrin."

 

This is unexpected. Nyota did not, ever, really like Perrin. You know Saavik does, though. But it took years for that.

 

"She has changed, I think."

 

"We've all changed. Even in cryo, I changed. In here." She touches her heart. "And I'm a person out of time. You have no idea what that feels like."

 

"I have been to the past on numerous occasions."

 

"That's not the same as being shoved into your own reality, only not. Oh well, at least it's not the that mirror universe."

 

You admire her ability to find the silver lining. You imagine she had to hone that skill working with disasters for so long.

 

"I have been on Romulus for several years now. I am also somewhat out of date."

 

"Nice try." She wiggles on your lap and you feel yourself responding.

 

"Are you doing that on purpose, my wife?"

 

"Damned straight. Gotta keep your mate satisfied, Spock. Klastok was very interested in getting to know me better."

 

"I am aware of that. Why do you think I did not sleep on his ship?"

 

"Don't we need a ceremony? You're getting off so cheap here with your declaration that we're married, calling me your mate and wife."

 

"Do you wish to have a ceremony?"

 

She laughs. "No. There'd be no one on the bride's side. Oh, except Scotty. He's alive, same age as he disappeared, according to Picard. But I'll fill you in on that later since you're busy satisfying me, remember?"

 

"He might be an interesting addition to the team. His knowledge was unparalleled—he also would offer a fresh perspective."

 

"This is what I get for mentioning it. An absent husband. Where is my comm unit? Klastok gave me his personal number."

 

You lift her off your lap, pushing her to her back, plunging into her without preamble, wanting to take her in a way that puts you in control. That lets you have her the way you need to, especially after having thought her lost to you forever.

 

Her smile tells you she knows you are doing exactly that.

 

It also tells you she does not mind at all.

 

 

FIN