She's kneeling before her meditation candles late at night when he enters her quarters. He stands inside her door as it closes, his duffel slung over his shoulder and his lips turned upward a small smile. His blue eyes are still haunted, mirroring the void she feels inside. It has only been a month since the memorial, since the fragile body of their daughter was interred in her family's tomb on Vulcan.
“I couldn't sleep,” he says as his duffel slips to the floor.
She stares at the bag as she stands, and her heart beats rapidly. He is claiming her as his own, her instincts whisper. Slowly, she brings her eyes to his. He does not know the significance of such a simple act—how can he? She never explained it to him before; she never told him what it means to…love a Vulcan. But then, how could she have taught him what, until this moment, she did not understand herself?
He returns her gaze, his smile waning. She realizes that he is misinterpreting her silence. The bond, too young and too weak, cannot come to her aid.
“Perhaps I can be of assistance,” she replies, taking a step closer to him. She wonders why they continue to dance around one another with their words.
He bites the insides of his cheeks in amusement and nods. “I'd like that.”
He steps toward her and she feels as though they have become magnetic forces, no longer polarized. She reaches up to tame his blonde hair, but he captures her hand with his. His touch ignites the link between them, and she is suddenly overwhelmed by the whirlpool of his emotions: grief, love, need, fear, desire. Does he touch the well of her suppressed emotions also? She sees his eyes grow wide, and thinks perhaps he does. Suddenly, she is concerned that it will be too much for him, that he will back away.
He shakes his head as if he has felt her worry, and brings her hand to his lips. “I missed you.” His breath is cool against her warm skin.
“It has been…” Three weeks, four days, eight hours and thirteen point four-three minutes since they parted on Vulcan. She had journeyed to the Temple of Amonak to grieve the loss of their daughter. He had gone back to Earth to seek solace in his family. She had found the separation…disagreeable. As he interlaces his fingers with hers, she becomes aware that he also did not care for their parting.
He leans down and places his mouth over hers in a gentle kiss. Once the touch of his lips would have inflamed a primal desire within her, a vestige from the ancient days of her people. It still does, but there is more now—a deeper need that comes from the bond they share. She needs him, not merely to sate the appetites of her body, but to join her katra to his—to permanently fill the void that all unbonded Vulcans keep hidden. And she knows that his own human needs are just as inextricably twined with hers.
Are humans and Vulcans so different, after all?
He pulls back and studies her face. “Neuropressure?”
She raises a brow and nods. Does he now know the intimacy of this act between mates? Does he understand that it will strengthen their fledgling bond? Should she explain that the more they touch, the more unbreakable their connection will become? She glances at the bag on the floor once more. He understands, she realizes. He knows.
“Please remove your shirt,” she tells him with a tenderness that was absent in the first session they shared.
She watches him as he pulls his black shirt over his head, noting how his well-defined muscles move with the effort. He gives her a small, asymmetrical smile. Her study of his form did not escape his notice. He kisses her again in a show of comfortable affection.
“Shall I assume the first position, darlin'?” He doesn't wait for her to answer as he walks past her toward her bed. She closes her eyes, enjoying the familiar scent of him that still lingers in the air around her. She has missed this. She has missed him.
She drapes her silken robe over her desk and settles on the bed behind him. As she reaches to place her fingers on the proper nodes, she is stopped by something new on his back. She delicately traces the design—a “tattoo,” the word surfaces from her recollections. She recognizes the IDIC symbol, inscribed in the outer circle with the letters “ETT” and the date of their daughter's passing. There is another symbol, one that she does not know, behind the IDIC. It too is inscribed, with “ECT” and the day of the Xindi attack on Earth. She blinks at the Vulcan script inked on either side of the image. Why had he chosen those words?
“What is this?” she asks in a hushed voice.
He looks over his shoulder. “I got it while I was in Mississipi. I, uh,”—he pauses as if searching for words—“I wanted to have something to remember them by.”
She doubts that he could so easily forget the two this image is meant to commemorate. “I do not recognize this device,” she admits, tracing the second design behind the IDIC.
“That's a drafter's compass,” he explains. “Back in the day, drafters and architects used them to draw perfect circles. Not many folks use them anymore.” He takes a deep breath and blows it out slowly. “Lizzie liked to do things 'old school.'”
She nods her understanding as her eyes are drawn again to the Vulcan words. Dahshal s'nash-veh heh worla dahshal. Worla eh kwon-sum estuhn heh vesht estuhl.
Parted from me and never parted. Never and always touching and touched.
He must have remembered these words from her marriage ceremony to Koss—words that are used to describe the bond between mates. She inhales sharply as grief wells within. She has never before considered how these simple phrases could describe the connection she still shares with her mother and daughter, in spite of their deaths. They would never be completely gone. They are a part of her, woven through her katra like a bondmate—like he is.
“Does it bother you?” His blue eyes search her face when she looks up.
She ponders his question. She should find this to be an illogical method of remembrance, and yet… “No,” she answers. “I find it quite appropriate.”
She too is colored by the lives of those she…loves, not as visibly as her bondmate's tattoo, but just as indelibly.