Chapter 1: Heads Up
Chapter One: Heads Up
Disclaimer: I didn't create these characters, and I make no money spying on them.
The knock on the door is so quiet that at first Spock thinks it may be someone at the apartment next to his. A moment later a second knock, marginally louder, confirms that someone is, in fact, at his door.
He considers for a moment whether or not to respond.
0134 is late by human standards—or at least, late for knocking on the doors of strangers.
Access to the apartment building is restricted to people with key cards—or someone inside can unlock the exterior door via the intercom. Sarek and Nyota are the only two people who have key cards besides Spock—and since Sarek is off-planet and Nyota is here in the bed with him, the person at the door is most likely a neighbor.
Twice since he has lived in the faculty housing, Spock has been approached by neighbors who have somehow locked themselves out of their apartments. Both times he was able to open their doors with a simple reprogramming of his own key card to allow universal access—an elementary bit of coding that nevertheless seemed to astonish his neighbors.
Spock shifts his shoulder gently and experimentally—twenty-three minutes ago Nyota's breathing had deepened and slowed as she slipped into the first stage of sleep, her head on his shoulder, her left hand on his chest.
Her response now will determine whether or not he will answer the door. If she doesn't wake when he pulls his arm free, he will answer it. If she stirs, then the hapless neighbor will have to find someone else to help him.
In the two weeks since the Enterprise returned to Earth after the Battle of Vulcan, Nyota has more than once stayed all night in his apartment, something they had rarely dared before. Even now they are cautious about being seen—he is, after all, still technically an instructor and she a cadet—though classes have been canceled for the rest of the term, and Starfleet has decided to make the battlefield promotions official.
More importantly, two months ago Spock had been formally—though mildly—reprimanded for his involvement with Nyota. Starfleet's expectation was that he would end the relationship after his disciplinary hearing—and he did not disagree.
Nor did he agree.
If Starfleet interpreted his silence as remorse or acquiescence—well, he could not be responsible for the misunderstandings of others.
The Academy is the least of Starfleet's priorities at the moment. The catastrophic loss of much of the fleet—and more importantly, the loss of personnel, including the majority of this year's graduating class—has thrown the brass into a whirlwind of shock and motion. Daily memos coming from Headquarters discuss bolstering Earth's security forces with other Federation help—indeed, at the moment, Sarek is on Andoria negotiating the redeployment of two ships and crew for planetary defense.
Nyota sighs and slides her hands under the pillow but does not wake as Spock pulls away and then stands up beside the bed. As he leaves the room he grabs his black tee and slips it over his head, padding down the hall toward the door.
Just before he turns the knob, he taps the pad beside the door to turn on the outside light. It casts a warm glow through the glass insets in the door, and Spock can make out a tall shadowing figure standing there. Sarek? He couldn't be back already—unless the Andorians have refused aid. That seems unlikely—unless they are reneging on their commitment to the Federation charter.
Spock tugs the door open and takes a sudden intake of breath.
There is his future self—the Spock who had challenged him to stay in Starfleet despite the urgings of the Vulcan elders.
They have not seen each other or spoken since meeting in the hangar deck shortly before Starfleet promoted Jim Kirk to captain of the Enterprise and began making plans for a shakedown cruise.
Spock assumed that Ambassador Spock had left Earth for New Vulcan already. Apparently that assumption was in error.
"Were you sleeping?" the older man says, his eyes sweeping from Spock's tousled hair to his bare feet.
"I was not," Spock says, stepping back from the door.
"Then," the Ambassador says, "may I come in?"
Spock motions with his hand and turns to lead the way to the sofa and chair in his spartan living area. The older man follows and they both sit at the same time.
For a moment neither speaks, and then they both do.
"Would you care for some—" Spock says.
"I apologize for interrupting you—" the Ambassador says.
They fall silent, and Spock stands up.
"Some tea," he says. It is not a question but a statement of intent, and he notices the Ambassador nodding as he walks to the kitchen.
Making tea is the kind of diversion Spock needs to regain his composure. From the other room he hears an occasional rustle as the Ambassador moves about, obviously looking at the few holovids Spock has on display.
When the tea is ready Spock pours two cups, balancing them carefully as he walks to the side table beside the sofa. The Ambassador stands with his back to the sofa, his hands clasped behind his back in an attitude so familiar that Spock can't help but stare.
Finally the Ambassador turns around and Spock is startled to see his face convulsed with emotion.
Sorrow, or something deeper—grief, and longing, and something else, too, something almost wistful or pleased.
The older man does not try to hide his expression—and that, too, surprises Spock.
"These—" the Ambassador motions towards the holovids on the bookshelf—one of a garden on Vulcan, another of Spock and Amanda, the third of the Vulcan landscape.
Spock says nothing but waits for the Ambassador to continue. Instead, the older man closes his eyes briefly and lowers his head before moving slowly toward the sofa to sit.
"Thank you for the tea," he says, reaching out to take one of the cups from Spock.
Leaning back on the sofa, the Ambassador says, "These pictures—they are your life, not mine, and yet—"
Instantly Spock knows what the older man is asking.
"Would you care for copies?"
"I would be most grateful."
For several minutes they sip their tea in silence, neither man making eye contact with the other.
And then from down the hall Spock hears a slight noise, softer than a sigh and full of sleep and dreams. He looks up from his teacup and sees the Ambassador's dark eyes on his own.
"Forgive me," the Ambassador says, setting his cup on his saucer and leaning forward to put them both on the side table. "I did not know that you had company. I would not have intruded."
Putting his own cup on the armrest of his chair, Spock stands and holds his hand up.
"Just a moment," he says, walking quickly down the hall toward his bedroom. At the door he pauses and listens—Nyota's steady breathing is the only sound—and he softly closes the door and returns to the living area.
The Ambassador is sitting on the edge of the sofa as if he is about to rise, but Spock waves him back as he himself takes the chair.
"I thought you were on the way to the colony," he says, surprising himself. This is not what he had intended to say—"Why are you here?" had been on the tip of his tongue, but the words had twisted themselves into something less direct. A human proclivity? He will have to consider the implications of this tendency when he has time.
If the Ambassador is aware of Spock's internal musings, he gives no indication.
"Indeed," he says, "the Elders thought the same. However, I have other things I must do first."
At once Spock casts about in his imagination for what the Ambassador may find more pressing than re-establishing a Vulcan homeworld. Would the older man resent his question as an intrusion? Spock himself might if the situation were reversed.
The Ambassador turns and looks down the hall for a moment, and Spock is startled once more this evening—this time by a wave of anxiety. He has no idea what the Ambassador might say about his relationship with Nyota—nor does he want to be questioned about it.
But the Ambassador says nothing—just places his hands on his thighs and takes a deep breath.
"You must be wondering why I am here," he says, and Spock tilts his head slightly—an assent. "I am here to give you what humans call a heads up—a warning."
At once Spock is alarmed, but the Ambassador does not seem to notice his slight flush.
"And to ask for some help.
"The Elders," the Ambassador continues, "are petitioning Starfleet to release you from duty. You need not be unduly concerned," he says, meeting Spock's gaze. "Starfleet will be reluctant to release a valued officer, particularly now.
"The Elders do not factor individual desires or plans," he says. "I do not fault their logic—but I do not share their belief that every Vulcan is needed on the colony. As I said, I have other plans as well—and the Elders are not pleased with me, either.
"If this is what you want," he says, looking again toward the hallway, "then be ready to defend your choice."
His words crash around Spock's ears. To Spock's dismay he feels a rush of anger that mounts to fury.
He sees again the High Councilor years ago, hears again the comments about his human heritage—and now the Elders are presuming to dictate his future for him?
He looks back at the Ambassador and is gratified to see a reflection of his anger in the older man's eyes.
"Yes," the Ambassador says, "I know. You and I could fill many conversations with our similarities."
He stands then, and Spock does, too.
"I do not intend to return to the colony as of yet," the Ambassador says, "and that is where you can be of assistance."
Gathering his breath, Spock waits.
"I need to charter a ship," the Ambassador says, and for a moment Spock is nonplussed. Surely he has access to any necessary transport—
"I have approached the Federation Council and they have refused," the older man continues. "Apparently in both our times the idea of the Neutral Zone is so entrenched—"
"You are going to the Romulans," Spock says, suddenly understanding.
"Indeed," the Ambassador says, his eyebrows raised. "I have no choice. I failed once, Spock. I must not fail again. Romulus is still in danger, but the Federation is more concerned about violating the treaty than about saving a people. This time—"
"If you cross the Neutral Zone, you will violate interstellar law."
"I have violated interstellar laws before."
"You will be stopped," Spock says, and the Ambassador nods slowly.
"That may happen," he says, "unless you help me."
Chapter 2: Rewind
Chapter Two: Rewind
Disclaimer: I make no money from messing around with characters who are not mine! (Actually, I make little money from messing around with characters who ARE mine!)
The faculty housing building is utilitarian—some might even say unattractive—though Ambassador Spock has little time to take note of its aesthetics.
Not that art and beauty have not been concerns in the past. Indeed, he has always decorated his quarters on the Enterprise with utilitarian objects that also have innate artistic beauty to him—a deadly trillpa, its double blade curved slightly and carved with ancient phonetic markings; a carved firepot; an elaborately woven tapestry noted for warmth as well as design draped over the end of his bed.
But tonight he has no time to appreciate the architecture of the building. He does note, however, that the building was not on the campus in his own time line.
Faculty had lived in a barracks-like building far off campus and had ridden a shuttle in, or they had cadged whatever affordable housing they could find in nearby neighborhoods.
What would the effect be, the Ambassador wonders idly as he slides his Starfleet key card over the access panel in front of Spock's apartment building, if he had lived on campus while teaching here, instead of being several miles away?
More access to students, surely. More office hours, more labs, more informal conversations in the mess hall—
It would be interesting to compare the academic performance of this group of students—with their increased interactions with their instructors—with his own students…..
And here the Ambassador falters, his hand dropping to his side.
His students are long gone—his world, his Earth, his life….he stops this train of thought and pushes open the outside door and steps into the hallway of the apartment building.
Down the hall he can hear muted music, though the rest of the apartments are dark and silent. Ah, the hour. For a moment he turns to leave, but he reconsiders. Spock will most likely be awake—and what he has to say needs to be said in person.
To avoid waking any of the neighbors, the Ambassador forgoes the chime and knocks instead—once, twice—and then Spock is suddenly there, turning on the light and pulling open the door.
The Ambassador has spent more than a century seeing every expression possible on his own face—but the younger man's mix of surprise and…wariness, or disappointment—catches him off guard. How odd that he cannot read him better—a reminder that they are different in many ways.
He rarely drinks tea these days, but when Spock offers him a cup, he takes it without complaint. When had he lost the taste for tea? After his mother's long slide into old age and poor health, perhaps, and innumerable pots of tea brewed and shared as he sat at her bedside, watching her breathing becoming more labored, her eyes dimming, unable to do more than reassure her of his presence.
The holovid of Amanda on Spock's bookshelf is so unexpected that he struggles mightily to regain his composure. Here she is again—alive, lovely and young—her shoulder pressed against the arm of her towering son, her smile not just a reflection of her love and pride for her son, but a message to the picture taker as well, for surely Sarek had been the one to capture this moment.
Somehow that idea had not occurred to him before. How curious. How...sad.
Like most Vulcans, the Ambassador is gifted with an eidetic memory—yet possessing these holovids is suddenly important to him. Displaying a representation of something which he sees perfectly in his mind is illogical—admittedly so—but pleasing nonetheless. When he begins to ask Spock for copies, he is gratified that the younger man quickly infers his intention.
They drink their tea in silence, and the Ambassador studiously avoids looking in Spock's direction. Instead, he casts his gaze around the room, noting the few paper copies of books on the shelf—two oversized mathematical treatises that he himself once owned copies of, but other books, too, that are unfamiliar.
Again he feels the peculiar jarring sensation that has knocked him off balance since arriving on Earth—a sensation of being in a familiar world that is slightly off-kilter, or out of sync. The apartment building that is here now that did not exist before, for instance—and people he had known in another life who look and sound the same, and others who are not the same at all, despite their appearance.
And oddest of all, this young man here in front of him—evoking from him a protectiveness that is almost fierce.
The noise down the hall at first confuses him—but looking at Spock, he suddenly understands.
For the first time since the Battle of Vulcan, the Ambassador feels a glimmer of delight.
His mind is a whirlwind of questions—who and when and how—he thinks briefly of his own sexual experiences at the Academy—human women, mostly, curious about him in a way that soon became tiresome. Only a few had blossomed into something more—Leila Kalomi, for instance—but he sets that memory aside.
"Forgive me," the Ambassador says, setting his cup on his saucer and leaning forward to put them both on the side table. "I did not know that you had company. I would not have intruded."
When Spock signals for him to stay, the Ambassador's relief is palpable—but now his message becomes more important.
"You must be wondering why I am here," he says.
As he explains the Council's petitioning Starfleet to release Spock, the Ambassador feels his own anger rise again.
He has no doubt that this young man before him is here in Starfleet for the same reason he entered long ago—perhaps some things in the universe are too elemental to change.
Including the anger at Vulcan prejudice hidden under a veneer of logic. Another trait they share—
And now he comes to the part of the conversation that propelled him here in person, afraid to commit his words to any electronic device. Even so, he lowers his voice and leans forward when he shares with Spock what he has told no one.
"I need to charter a ship," he reveals, and he watches Spock's face for comprehension. There—the younger man's forehead creases, his eyes widen. He knows.
"You will be stopped," Spock says, and the Ambassador agrees.
"Unless you help me," he says.
Spock looks down the hall. He might refuse outright, though that would be uncharacteristic—he has little data on which to make a decision. The Ambassador stands up and walks toward the door.
"If you do not object, I will contact you later," he says, and Spock stands up.
"I do not," the Ambassador says, his hand poised over the doorknob, "make this request lightly. If there were any other way—"
He lets his voice drift off.
Another noise from the bedroom—and the Ambassador watches Spock react, turning his head a fraction, looking up to make eye contact.
Without another word the older man pulls open the door and leaves, his last thought a mixture of sorrow for what he asks, and relief that Spock will not be alone tonight.
She wakes to voices.
For a confusing moment she thinks that Spock has turned on the newscast, but as she becomes more aware, she makes out his own voice and someone else's.
But no, the voices are quiet and calm. A neighbor then—though she cannot recall anyone ever coming inside the apartment before.
Rolling over silently, she faces the door and concentrates on the murmuring down the hall. If only the door were open—Spock must have closed it to mute the noise.
She debates getting up and opening the door—or putting her ear to it—but Spock will hear her, no matter how quiet she is.
Not surprisingly, the room is too hot—she slowly slides the duvet off the bed—stopping to listen for the voices when she finishes. This time she hears the door shutting and a clinking noise—dishes being picked up and moved.
She gets up then and gingerly opens the door. At the end of the hall she can see that the kitchen light is on, and the light from the table lamp in the living area. Before she can step into the hallway, Spock snaps off the kitchen light and walks briskly through the living area, cutting out the lamp as he passes.
"I did not mean to wake you," he says, apparently not surprised to see her standing outside the bedroom door.
"Who was here?" she asks as she steps back into the bedroom and makes her way to the bed. "Is anything wrong?"
Saying nothing, Spock picks up the duvet from the floor and tosses it to the bed. If he were anyone else, Nyota would have said he was angry—his motions abrupt and writ large. But Spock? She tries to look at his face but he puts out the last light in the bedroom as he eases himself beside her.
His arms are suddenly around her, pulling her into such a tight embrace that she hears her breath rush out. He must hear it too, because he loosens his grip slightly.
"What's—" she starts to say, but he presses the fingers of his right hand against her lips and she falls silent.
With one motion he rolls them over together so that she is looking up at him. He lowers his fingers from her lips and slides his hand under the small of her back, and once again Nyota is breathless for a moment as Spock pulls her tightly against him.
Just as suddenly he releases her, shifting his arms to prop his weight on his elbows, his hands free to brush across her breasts and up her neck, resting finally on the side of her face and at her temple.
Anger. All-consuming, blinding, feared and familiar.
For an instant Nyota is frightened. Spock's anger is so raw, so overwhelming, that she cannot sense anything else—no thoughts, no memories, no images—just fury.
She raises her arms and places her hands on the sides of his face—"Where are you?"—she calls into his mind, and dimly she senses his struggle to tamp down his anger.
From a distance she begins to feel something else underneath the anger—a determination so forceful that it swells like a wave, carrying her forward.
I will not lose you, she hears, and at last she begins to see, too—the images that haunt Spock in unguarded moments: of Vulcan as it crumbles, of his mother's face as it whips away in the maelstrom, and of herself as he sees her, small and dark and his.
He leans down and kisses her then, his fury still there, and his need to possess her—and she lowers her arms from his face and circles his waist, pressing herself up to meet him, feeling his anger fading slowly, like a paper photograph left in the sun.
They make love like people who have been separated by great chasms of time and space, like lovers reunited unexpectedly. Nothing is tender in their movements—their touches and strokes and kisses are urgent and demanding, their pleasure forged from dark emotions they barely keep at bay.
When they climax at last, Nyota is so sweaty that she slips on the sheet of the bed—a motion that makes her giggle, breaking the serious mood.
Later they reach for each other again, this time gently and slowly, and later yet, when they lie tangled together, Spock brushes his hand across Nyota's brow and shows her the conversation with the Ambassador.
"You aren't going to do this," she says, not sure if she is asking or telling. Her head is propped on Spock's shoulder, and he has to lean away to look her in the eye.
"He has not yet told me what type of assistance he requires."
"It doesn't matter!" Nyota says, trying to rein in her growing panic. "If you help him violate the treaty, you will be just as guilty. They'll drum you out of Starfleet—"
Spock says nothing. Nyota feels her heart beating hard where she reclines against his chest.
"Why isn't he petitioning the Federation for help?" she says. "He can't negotiate peace with Romulus on his own! The Romulans aren't going to listen to one man—or believe him when he warns them—"
"Nyota," Spock says, his voice almost sad to her ear.
"I don't understand—"
"The Federation is consumed with its own survival," he says, reaching to the duvet and pulling it up to their shoulders. "Concern about a future threat to Romulus is not high on the Council's agenda."
"But if they send envoys now to warn—"
"They have repeatedly refused. Rebuilding the fleet is paramount. Romulus is in no danger for some time."
He shifts his position slightly and Nyota reaches up to touch his cheek.
"What if they are wrong? They were before—"
"He was wrong. That is why he wants to be the one to go now—why he needs to go."
Nyota sighs deeply. Spock's body heat—and the hour—are making her drowsy, and she feels her eyes closing.
"But that doesn't mean you have to do anything," she says softly.
Spock tips his head forward until his face is nestled in her hair.
"I do not want to lose you," she hears him say, and then she drifts away into unknowing.
A/N: Thanks so much to everyone who reads and reviews! If you aren't familiar with the TOS story "This Side of Paradise," it features Leila Kalomi.
Chapter 3: Doppelganger
Chapter Three: Doppelganger
Disclaimer: I make up the situations, but the characters are borrowed!
The Academy campus is almost deserted these days.
After three weeks, the quiet is a relief. Since returning to Earth after the destruction of Vulcan, the surviving cadets have packed and moved from the dorms, attended numerous funerals and memorials, and most recently, stood at attention while Starfleet made official their battlefield promotions.
Now most have gone home for R&R while the Academy faculty close out the spring grades and make plans for the summer schedule.
The only cadets still around are those assigned to the Enterprise—Starfleet is expediting the shakedown cruise, and Nyota is busy most days working for the communications department—learning the stations, debugging the software.
Spock is busy, too, though as Kirk's XO his duties range far and wide.
One day, for instance, he and Nyota work all afternoon tracing the source of static in the ship-to-ship hailing frequencies.
Most of the time, however, they rarely see each other until late at night—and then often just to share a quick meal and fall into bed exhausted.
Neither has said anything more about the Ambassador's late night visit—though his warning about the Vulcan High Council's request serves Spock well. When Admiral Komack calls Spock to his office to show him the paperwork releasing him from service if he wants to accommodate the Vulcan request, Spock displays no emotion whatsoever—he simply informs the Admiral that he is not interested in leaving Starfleet at this time.
"If you are sure," Admiral Komack says, eyeing Spock carefully.
On his way out of the office, Spock hears the Admiral telling his aide, "Takes a lot of nerve to turn the Vulcans down. Didn't seem to bother him, though—"
Once or twice Spock thinks he glimpses the Ambassador across the campus, though when he looks again, he sees nothing.
A doppelganger indeed—though in legend, doppelgangers are usually harbingers of doom….
Spock shakes off the fanciful idea with some asperity. His control must be slipping—
Standing outside his office door in the language building one afternoon, Spock looks up and sees the Ambassador at the end of the hall—and this time his image does not disappear. The Ambassador's footfalls are surprisingly soft for a man his height, his stride careful and deliberate.
Spock watches him in silence.
"May I?" the Ambassador asks, and Spock steps back into the office and closes the door behind them. Both take seats—Spock behind his desk, and the older man in a straightback chair in the corner.
"I'll be brief," the Ambassador says, pulling a personal PADD from the pocket of his heavy jacket.
"Here are the manifests of twelve merchant ships that run regular trade missions within a parsec of the Neutral Zone. As you can see, all list passengers as part of their cargo. What I have been unable to determine," he says, leaning forward and tapping the PADD, "is which might be willing to continue the journey without alerting the authorities."
"That would necessitate filing an inaccurate flight plan," Spock says, looking up from the PADD on the desk.
"Indeed," the Ambassador says mildly, "though in my experience, people who trade this close to the Neutral Zone are less concerned with regulations than with profit."
Spock scans the list of ships currently docked above Earth—the Ambassador is obviously ready to leave for Romulus as soon as he secures transport.
"I have no information that would help you make that determination," Spock says, leaning back in his chair. For a moment he feels a flash of relief—even if he wanted to assist the Ambassador, he may be unable to.
Immediately his relief is replaced with a wave of shame.
Romulus is in danger—not this minute, and not even next year—but evacuating an entire planet—creating a new homeworld—will take a very long time. The Federation should be supporting the Ambassador's initiative, not hindering him.
Unless, of course, the Federation wants him to fail. Wants Romulus to die—wants the Romulans to suffer as the Vulcans suffer now.
Looking up from his musings, he meets the Ambassador's even gaze.
"The information I have is from the public records," the older man says. "I need to do background checks on the captains of these ships—so that I can make a rational judgment about which one is best suited to my purpose."
For a moment Spock is uncertain what the Ambassador is proposing, but then he understands.
"You want to use Starfleet's restricted computer library."
"Or the computer on the Enterprise. Whichever is easier to get to."
If the skeleton crew working the delta shift thinks anything is odd about Commander Spock returning to the Enterprise after working a full alpha shift earlier in the day, no one comments. The Vulcan speaks to no one when he beams into the transporter room—though that, too, is unremarkable.
"I will need to run a diagnostic that will take approximately 1.3 hours," he says to the two technicians sitting at the controls. "As your shift will end during that time, you are authorized to take your leave now."
The technicians react as Spock imagined they would—with widened eyes denoting surprise and smiles indicating pleasure.
"If you wish to go now," Spock says, "I can beam you down."
Shrugging his shoulders, the man closest to the pad says, "Thanks, Sir."
As soon as both men are gone, Spock slips a diagnostic chip into the console. Then he turns off the security cameras and reactivates the controls. The Ambassador's image swirls into place.
"This way," Spock says.
"I think I know my way around on the ship," the Ambassador says, his voice either annoyed or amused—Spock isn't sure which.
The older man steps ahead of him and takes a left turn at the end of the corridor—right to the mess hall entrance.
"The turbolift—" he says, and Spock points further down the corridor to the lift door.
They ride to the bridge in awkward silence, Spock avoiding looking at the older man until the lift doors open again.
His tricorder scan shows that no one is currently on the bridge, but Spock steps out cautiously and looks around anyway. He hears the Ambassador follow him and the lift doors whoosh shut before he dares to turn around.
What he sees astonishes him.
The Ambassador's face is a crucifixion of disappointment—or dismay. He sighs loudly enough for Spock to hear him—and to feel embarrassment on his behalf. For a moment both men stand facing each other, and then the Ambassador lowers his head and says, "This is not my ship."
He looks up and casts his gaze around the different stations, walking slowly towards the captain's chair and running his hand across the top.
"The science station?" he says at last, and Spock leads the way.
Holding out his hand, the Ambassador places his palm on the security plate to activate the computer.
"Unauthorized access. Denied," the computer says promptly, and the Ambassador pulls his hand away and looks at Spock ruefully.
"Apparently our prints are not similar enough to fool the computer," he says.
Within moments Spock activates his station and the classified personal information on the captains currently in dock scrolls across the monitor. Within another moment the information is transferred to a blank data chip. The Ambassador holds out his hand, palm up.
"Just in case we are stopped," he says, "this might be incriminating evidence. It may be better for me to carry it."
Spock drops the chip into the Ambassador's palm, suppressing a flash of annoyance at the older man's almost patronizing tone.
"I disabled the transporter with a diagnostic test scheduled to run for another 53 minutes. We are hardly in danger of being discovered—"
But the Ambassador looks past him, towards the opening turbolift doors.
A/N: Are you out there? Let me know!
Chapter 4: Busted
Chapter Four: Busted
Disclaimer: I borrow and do not profit.
"I'm prejudiced, of course, but the bridge is my favorite part of the ship—"
Jim Kirk strides onto the bridge, his arm draped around the waist of a stunning, scantily-clad brunette. Spock is facing away from the lift, but the Ambassador sees him react visibly to the captain's voice.
At the same moment, Kirk sees the two men and comes to an abrupt stop.
"Oh! Ah, Spock, and, uh...Sir! I didn't know you were here. I, uh, didn't know anyone was here."
Pulling his arm from around the waist of his companion, Kirk flushes visibly and says, "I didn't know you two….knew each other."
The Ambassador feels rather than sees Spock's eyes dart toward him. He straightens up and takes a step toward the young captain.
"We have…met," he says, and Spock moves to stand beside him.
"I see," Kirk says, taking a breath and giving what seems to be an uneasy smile. "So, what are you…guys….doing here?"
Before Spock can answer, the Ambassador says, "Using the library computer. The Commander was so kind as to give me a tour of the ship."
This statement has the pleasing quality of being both true and deliberately misleading.
In the past—no, in his past—he would have enjoyed watching Jim Kirk untangle the truth from a deliberate evasion—but the young captain before him appears to take him at his word. Another reminder that this is not his Jim Kirk—
Though in many ways—
"And you?" the Ambassador says, and Kirk flushes again.
"The same," the young man says. "Just giving a tour of the ship."
Holding out his arm to the young woman standing beside him, Kirk says, "Gentlemen, this is Arti Patel."
Neither Spock nor the Ambassador says anything, and Kirk nods and says, "We'll be going now."
And in a flurry of motion, Kirk and the woman disappear into the turbolift and are gone.
"They will be unable to depart by the transporter for another 42 minutes," Spock says. "The diagnostic chip will not release the controls before then except on my command."
The Ambassador shakes his head slowly.
"I doubt they are on their way to the transporter room," he says, "unless I am completely mistaken about Jim Kirk."
For the past few weeks, the Ambassador has been quartered at a renovated historic boarding house outside the south gate of the Academy campus. Set aside for visiting dignitaries, it is currently occupied by only the Ambassador and a junior Andorian diplomat—or at least, that's what he has been told. He has yet to either hear or see anyone else in the rambling old building.
Other than a surveillance camera posted at the south gate, the Ambassador and Spock have undergone no electronic scrutiny since beaming back from Spacedock. Making their way to Spock's apartment in the faculty housing across campus would have been much riskier—which is why they sit now in the living area of the Ambassador's quarters, Spock hunkered over his portable computer, the Ambassador leaning over his shoulder.
"Here," Spock says, enlarging one screen. "Five of the captains have arrest records—two for fraud, and one for attempted murder. The other two are not specified. Eliminating them leaves seven candidates—"
"Do not eliminate them," the Ambassador says. "Eliminate the others."
Spock pauses and the Ambassador watches the expression on his face—like watching clouds race across the sky before a storm.
"Those who have been arrested before are risk takers," the Ambassador says by way of explanation.
But Spock continues to frown.
"They are known law breakers," Spock says, pulling his hands away from the computer. "They are untrustworthy."
"I am a known law breaker," the Ambassador says, tilting his head and quirking his lip. "And yet you are trusting me."
He moves slowly to one of two overstuffed chairs in the small living area and watches as Spock saves their search results and closes his computer.
"Come sit for a minute," the Ambassador says, resting his elbows on the armrests and lacing his fingers together. He sees Spock hesitate—and feels a twinge of disappointment.
"If you would rather be on your way—" the Ambassador adds, and this has the effect he had hoped for. Spock promptly sits down—his curiosity outweighing any annoyance he might feel about being told what to do.
A minute passes in silence, and then two—and finally the Ambassador breaks it by saying, "I must confess that going aboard the Enterprise evoked many emotions. I…envy…you the chance to serve—"
To his dismay, he is unable to continue without his voice shaking. He steals a glance at Spock sitting nearby, like a ghost or a shadow of himself….but, no. His own person, not a ghost of anyone.
The thought is oddly calming, and it reminds him of something else, too.
"The security plate," he says, and Spock looks up at him. "It did not register my handprint as yours. Hold up your hand."
Spock blinks—in surprise at the odd request, certainly—but holds his hand out, palm up. The Ambassador leans toward him and holds his own hand out, too, careful not to touch.
"See," he says, motioning with his head, "the scar that runs across two fingers?"
The younger man nods, and the Ambassador continues.
"A le-matya claw, during my kahs-wan."
He turns his hand over and traces the scar where it continues across his knuckles.
"A foolish decision," he says, "leaving early, without proper preparation. But I wanted to impress my father….and T'Pring, too, I think."
He looks up from his hand and tries to read the inscrutable expression on Spock's face.
"You did not encounter a le-matya during your kahs-wan?" the Ambassador says, and Spock shakes his head.
"I did not," Spock says. "Nor did I leave early. My father—"
"Your father…was…is…not my father. Perhaps you did not feel the same need to garner his approval."
Spock says nothing but the Ambassador senses that he has upset him in some way.
For another moment they are both silent, the only noise the muffled sounds of street cars and a distant warning buoy.
At last the younger man speaks.
"You were….bonded to T'Pring?"
"At the age of seven," the Ambassador says, "though it was never a satisfactory match. I released her at her request when I came of age at 35."
He looks up and makes eye contact with Spock. Once again he marvels at how his mother's eyes look back at him from the young man's face—and he feels a wave of sorrow. How many times had he himself been compared to Amanda—her human eyes, warm and brown and infinitely expressive?
How many times had he resented that comparison, chafed under it?
Too many to count, even for someone who loves mathematical precision.
"And you?" he says, inviting Spock to add to the story. "You are bonded?"
Immediately Spock breaks their eye contact, looking down and flushing.
"No," he says, haltingly. "I am not. T'Pring and I dissolved our bond a year ago."
He parts his lips as if he is about to add something, but then appears to change his mind.
"Forgive me," the Ambassador says. "I should not have asked. Perhaps we should not discuss these things. I do not want to influence your future unduly by suggesting how it might unfold."
Uncrossing his arms, Spock leans forward.
"It is of that that I wish to speak," he says, and the Ambassador settles back to listen, saying, "By all means."
Glancing around the room, Spock says, "You are risking your life and safety on an assumption that may be incorrect."
The Ambassador raises his eyebrow and beats back his irritation.
"Clarify," he says curtly.
"You are assuming that the Romulans will allow contact despite the treaty—will accept your offer of help—as the Romulans in your own timeline did."
"The Romulan sun will go supernova," the Ambassador says. "That fact has not changed. The Federation acknowledges that much."
"But the Romulans who were your allies before," Spock says, his voice rising, "may not even exist in this universe. You may travel to Romulus and be arrested, or put to death, for violating the treaty."
"There are Romulans there who wish to reunify with their Vulcan brethren," the Ambassador says, heat rushing to his face. That he is having to convince Spock is disturbing. Of all the people whose support he needs, he has never doubted Spock.
"You cannot know that," Spock says. "You are proceeding as if you are still in your time line. Things are not the same."
To the Ambassador's astonishment, Spock reaches out suddenly and gestures toward his hand.
"Those scars," Spock says, "are yours and yours alone. You could have died when you were attacked by the le-matya, but you survived. Otherwise, everything you accomplished would have been lost."
Spock lowers his hand and the Ambassador struggles to control his breathing.
He is angry, and annoyed. But he is also aware that part of what Spock says is true.
"Everything I accomplished has been lost," he says at last, but Spock shakes his head.
"The odds are in your favor," Spock says, "that the good you do—that you did—will not be buried with you."
"Shakespeare?" the Ambassador says, but Spock's comm chimes before he can answer.
"Excuse me," Spock says, glancing at the screen and thumbing the receiver. He stands quickly and steps to the window.
From his chair, the Ambassador tries to focus on the ambient sounds from outside, but he cannot ignore the soft feminine murmur from the comm. An image of Leila flashes through his mind unbidden, and he looks away, unsure whether the memory causes more pleasure than pain.
"I will be there soon," Spock says quietly, and once more the soft murmur drifts to the Ambassador's ear.
When Spock closes his comm and turns around, the Ambassador stands up from his chair.
"I have kept you too long," he says, pursing his lips. "You have been a great help."
"Mark Anthony's warning in Julius Caesar," Spock says. "'The evil men do lives after them. The good is oft interred with their bones.'"
"I know the play," the Ambassador says, his eyebrow cocked. "Some things are the same in every universe."
A/N: Mark Anthony's funeral oration is a masterpiece of misdirection—you remember his lines: "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears—I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him…." and then he goes on for many lines to praise Caesar so much that the crowd turns against the murderers. He's warning the Romans not to let Caesar's good deeds get buried with him—and he's warning the murderers that their evil deeds will outlive them. The Ambassador would take both messages to heart—worrying that his failure to save the Romulans and the subsequent loss of Vulcan will be his legacy. No wonder he is willing to risk much to save the Romulans in this time line.
At least, that's IMHO.
Spock doesn't reveal much to the Ambassador about his own breakup with T'Pring, but if YOU want to hear about it, it is detailed in "Slips of the Tongue," a story about a trip back to Vulcan that Spock makes after slipping up and saying too much to his teacher's aide. It's in my chronology in my profile if you are interested.
Chapter 5: Friends and Acquaintances
Chapter 5: Friends and Acquaintances
Disclaimer: I am a spy in the land of Star Trek—and I make no money reporting what I see.
"May I come in?"
Nyota jumps visibly and drops the packing tape she is using to seal the last of the boxes of supplies in Spock's office.
"I apologize," the tall man says, stepping back into the shadowy hallway. "I did not mean to startle you."
"No, it's just that I—" Nyota begins, picking up the roll of tape and fumbling her way around the stack of boxes on the floor. "Please, come in. If you are looking for Commander Spock, he'll be back later this afternoon."
She looks up and is startled again. The Ambassador—just as she had seen him in Spock's memory of their late night conversation.
"Perhaps I could leave a message?"
"Certainly," Nyota says, gesturing toward the desk where several PADDs are stacked.
The Ambassador steps lightly around the packed boxes and sits in Spock's chair, pulling one of the PADDs to the desktop. As he unclips the stylus and taps out a short message, Nyota watches him surreptitiously.
When he looks up at last, she makes guilty eye contact—does he know she has been making mental notes? The feather-light way he holds his stylus—just as Spock does. A Vulcan trait? Something Vulcan school children are taught? Or an innate preference the two men share?
"You are the Commander's aide?" the Ambassador asks, and Nyota nods.
"His teaching assistant," she says. "Last term Spock was teaching in two departments—so I helped with the language lab."
Something in the Ambassador's expression flickers.
"I see," he says, rising. "Then perhaps you can assist me in one more thing."
For a fleeting moment Nyota is afraid that he will mention Romulus and his plans to violate the treaty. She feels a swell of anger that Spock has already been caught up in helping him—but instead she says, "Certainly, if I can."
"I am curious about the whereabouts of an old friend," the Ambassador says, "and I have exhausted the public resources. We were at the Academy together until she joined a Federation colonization project. I hope Starfleet records might shed some light on what has become of the colony."
And of her, Nyota thinks as she leads the way down the corridor and unlocks the lab door.
"The console controls are to the left," she says, toggling on the overhead lamps. "I'll be in the office if you need me."
As she walks back down the hall, Nyota is overcome with a feeling of disappointment. The Ambassador doesn't seem to know her. In the brief moments when she has thought about it, she assumed that she—no, that the other Nyota Uhura—would have also been on the Enterprise.
But perhaps in another world, in another life, she would have been a doctor after all—an early dream—or a dancer, an even earlier one.
She shrugs off her feeling of unease with a deliberate laugh. Ballerina, indeed!
As she labels the boxes for the movers, she wonders idly what, if anything, Spock has told the Ambassador about her, about them. Nothing, probably. That could also explain his not knowing her.
Unless, of course, this is how he copes with being out of his own time and place—pretending ignorance to avoid spooking people he knew in another life.
Nyota's back is to the door and she is startled yet again when the Ambassador speaks. She turns and sees him standing there, his hands behind his back in a heartbreakingly familiar pose.
"Any luck?" she says, and she grimaces immediately. How any times has Spock reminded her that he doesn't ascribe to the idea of luck. Luck implies destiny, he will say if she slips up, and destiny implies a universe that is not random.
"I mean," she says, noting that the Ambassador raises an eyebrow in what certainly looks like amusement, "were you able to find the information you were looking for?"
"Starfleet has no record of any colonization project on Omicron Ceti III," he says. "I must have been mistaken."
The message on the Ambassador's commlink is short and cryptic: No do.
The famous L'Gurian economy of words. The Ambassador's last lead for a ship, gone—and the L'Gurian captain had seemed the most promising of the five.
Beating back his disappointment, the Vulcan snaps the comm shut and takes a breath. As much as he doesn't want to involve Spock again, he will need him to access the restricted computer—either on the Enterprise or at Starfleet Headquarters.
If he had a contact in the Admiralty he could finagle his way into the computer system at Headquarters fairly easily—but his contacts are a universe away. The admirals here are strangers.
Another trip to Spacedock seems necessary, then.
The Ambassador has not visited Spock's office in the language building, though he knows where it is. A quick walk across campus brings him to the squat columned building, its dark windows a reminder that the campus is mostly empty.
The odds are that Spock is not here, either, but for a lack of a better course of action, the Ambassador enters the building and climbs the three flights of stairs.
Pausing at the landing, he hears a noise from the office at the end of the hall—the squeal and squeak of boxes being taped for shipping. Spock must be cleaning up—the end of the semester, and more…the end of his career at the Academy.
Something about the noise isn't quite right. Too loud, too disjointed.
He peers into the room and understands—Nyota Uhura, younger than he remembers ever seeing her—her hair long and pulled up into a ponytail, a surprisingly pleasing arrangement. Her uniform, too, is not as he recalls—this one more form-fitting, more—
With a start he realizes that his focus is drifting.
"May I come in?'
He sees her react and feels dismay that he has made her uncomfortable. His apology is swift and sincere.
"If you are looking for Commander Spock, he'll be back later this afternoon," she says.
And then she looks up at him—and he sees her jump again. Curious—as if she recognizes him somehow. Only a few people on Earth know who he is, including Spock. Would he have told her? That seems unlikely.
"Perhaps I could leave a message?"
"Certainly," she says, offering him a PADD from the desk.
His note to Spock suggests another meeting time—he doesn't dare reveal any details about the ship captains and his attempt to hire one.
As he works he observes Cadet—or is she a lieutenant yet?—Uhura's quiet contemplation of him. In his world they had been colleagues and friends, and occasionally—but he doesn't continue that thought. His Uhura has been gone many years, mourned and missed deeply.
The young woman here in front of him now must know Spock well to be packing his office for him. He decides to conjecture.
"You are the Commander's aide?"
"His teaching assistant," she says. "Last term Spock was teaching in two departments—so I helped with the language lab."
So his conjecture is correct—but more than that. She referred to Spock—not as Commander, or Professor, or any honorific—a breach of protocol even for a teaching assistant.
The Ambassador thinks of the soft voice overheard on Spock's comm.
"I see," he says, rising. "Then perhaps you can assist me in one more thing."
Following her to the lab, the Ambassador thinks not of the young woman before him, or even of her counterpart, but of his own teaching aide. It is she he wants to see now, not just in his memory, but alive and young again.
Or if not to see her, to know that she is well in this world, that she is happy, too—as she was not happy with him.
After Uhura opens the lab and turns on the lights, he checks the records for the Sandoval expedition to Omicron Ceti III. Nothing. The expedition had left Earth in 2263—five years from now. Preparations would be underway—Leila had been hired as chief botonist, or would be shortly. Yet he can find no budgets, no memos, no scientific articles about any plan for a colony on Omicron Ceti III.
He is certain that his memory is not faulty—so the time continuum must account for the discrepancy.
If Leila is not with the Sandoval expedition, then where is she? Not at the Academy—though she had expressed an interest in staying and teaching. Not deployed on any Starfleet ships. The merchant ships involved in terraforming projects often hire biologists and botanists, but he can find no record or her on any of their crew lists.
He checks real estate listings, tax revenues, government employment charts. Nothing. It is as if she had never existed.
And then in an act of inspiration or desperation, he checks the obituaries, tracking backward from the time when they had worked together, year by year.
As he scans the death notices, one part of his memory is reliving the unfolding of their relationship: the admiration he felt for her quickness and kindness, the ease of working together, his gradual recognition that she was interested in him sexually—and his decision to risk censure and return her affection.
But she had pressed for more, and they had finally parted, she for the expedition, he for space—and then he had found her again, and for a short time the hurt and loneliness had gone away.
When he is alone, he often calls up the memory of that day on Omicron Ceti III—the giddiness of the spores, the contentment he had felt under their influence—when he had been able to love Leila as she needed to be loved.
A newspaper article tag catches his eye and he pulls up the summary. Leila Kalomi, 12, killed in a boating accident off the island of Lanai. Her father, Eska, also killed.
He pulls up the complete article and reads it twice.
It must be her. The details of her home, her family, are right.
So—this is why Nyota Uhura is Spock's teaching assistant. Or one reason. Leila Kalomi is not here—was never here.
With a flick of his wrist, the Ambassador turns off the computer console and dims the room lights. The noise from the end of the hall indicates the packing continues, and he confirms this when he looks in and sees Uhura sticking a label on a box.
"Thank you," he says, hoping his voice reveals nothing. She looks at him closely—his control may be imperfect, his disappointment is that intense.
"Any luck?" she says, and then she amends herself in a way that reveals something else—she and Spock have had this conversation before, have joked about it, teased each other about it.
"I mean," she says, "were you able to find the information you were looking for?"
"Starfleet has no record of any colonization project on Omicron Ceti III," he says. "I must have been mistaken."
It is not a lie.
"I'm sorry," she says, and the Vulcan nods slowly.
"Thank you, Ms. Uhura," he says, leaving the office behind and heading down the hall.
Only later, when he settles himself in meditation in his Starfleet-issued quarters, does he realize his mistake.
She had not told him her name.
A/N: If you aren't familiar with the story of Leila Kalomi, she is central to the TOS episode, "This Side of Paradise."
Chapter 6: The Circle Widens
Chapter Six: The Circle Widens
Disclaimer: This is my playground—no one pays me!
"Did you know about this?"
Jim Kirk taps his finger halfway down the screen of his PADD.
"Negative," Spock says, keeping his eyes trained forward to the speaker on the podium.
"He's scheduled to speak next," Kirk says.
The Federation Council auditorium is cavernous. Huge windows from the ceiling to the floor reveal a panorama of Paris, the newest version of the Eiffel Tower on display.
Kirk and Spock sit midway back on the aisle. Unlike most of the people crowding the room, they are in military dress. All around them are the diplomats and junior officials who represent the different members of the Federation—most in native costumes, though some adopting the human clothing of their hosts.
"Remind me again why we are here," Kirk says, scrolling down the PADD.
"We are here," Spock says quietly as several audience members cast glances their way, "to answer any questions the Federation officials may have about the timeline for the shakedown cruise."
"I'm joking, Spock," Kirk says, snapping off his PADD. "What I mean is—well, what I mean is, I have work to do. And you do, too. And this is as waste of time."
It is a waste of time, Spock thinks. No one at this meeting is particularly concerned about whether or not the Enterprise leaves this month or next on the scheduled shakedown cruise. Other concerns have risen to the top of the agenda—issues such as the Andorian resistance to providing more ships for Earth's defense now that the fleet has been severely reduced in number.
Or the re-emergence of the Earth United anti-alien sentiment—and the odd partnership they are forging with some of the more radical Vulcan survivors, both calling for the dissolution of the Federation.
If the Federation fails, and with it, the loss of Starfleet….Spock has read several recent scholarly treatises predicting a return to world-wide armed conflict, economic collapse, or a retreat into an isolationist policy that would require all non-humans to leave the Earth.
The speaker on the podium finishes his remarks to scattered applause, and both Kirk and Spock look up to see the Ambassador make his way carefully to the lectern. The agenda lists him as an ambassador from Vulcan without giving his name—a security precaution, Spock assumes. Few people know of the Ambassador's role in the loss of Vulcan—the details are classified, despite the media's threat to sue for access to information.
The Ambassador's safety is not Starfleet's primary reason for the secrecy, though Spock can imagine that the same radical Vulcans willing to partner with Earth United would not hesitate to seek retribution for the loss of the homeworld—however illogical it is to blame the Ambassador instead of Nero.
To Spock the Ambassador appears weary today, his deportment as steady as ever, but his voice betraying his pessimism that anything he might say will change the public wave of anger towards the Romulans.
"Representative of the Federation," the Ambassador says, his voice amplified throughout the room, "I come to you today as a citizen of a lost world, as someone who has lost home and family, as someone who struggles to understand the depth of that loss.
"But I also come to you as someone who does not blame all of Romulus for the actions of a few. Instead, I ask the Federation to turn our loss into a gain by reconsidering our long-standing failed policy toward the Romulans."
Around him Spock hears murmurs as the audience reacts. Positive sounds? Or confusion? He isn't certain. The Ambassador waits a beat and then continues.
"I ask you as members of our united worlds to send a delegation to the Romulan homeworld, to offer our assistance in relocating them—"
At this the audience erupts in several loud catcalls. Spock sees Jim Kirk twist around in his seat, as if he can silence the protestors with a look.
"—in relocating them before the coming cataclysm," the Ambassador says over the growing noise in the auditorium. "Our charter incites us to this action. We cannot ignore a people in danger of destruction—"
"We are in danger of destruction!" someone in the back of the room shouts. A buzz ignites throughout the room, and more shouts. For a moment the Ambassador waits quietly behind the lectern, but then the Speaker Pro Tem of the Federation rises from his chair on the side of the podium and moves forward. Stepping back, the Ambassador exits the stage as the Speaker tries to shout over the crowd.
"Come on, let's go," Kirk says, elbowing Spock and pushing past him into the aisle. Spock follows him toward the front of the room, but before they reach it, Kirk nods toward a side door and they head out into the hallway.
"Here," Kirk says, leading the way to a door to the outside.
There is the Ambassador, a few steps ahead of them, heading toward the transit station.
"Sir!" Kirk calls, and the Ambassador slows and turns.
"Sir," Kirk says as he catches up, "you shouldn't go out unescorted. Where are you headed?"
Spock watches the Ambassador's gaze rake the young captain. Annoyance? Or something more benign—forbearance?
"I have a transport waiting at the station," the Ambassador says, looking over at Spock for the first time. "I am heading back to San Francisco now. If you wish to accompany me, you may."
Kirk lets out a huff of air—an odd sound that seems to signal exasperation—though Spock cannot deduce the reason.
"Uh, we have a debriefing with a committee this afternoon," Kirk says, "so we can't go with you. Are you sure you are okay?"
The Ambassador's lip quirks and he nods slowly.
"Thank you for your concern, but I have been looking after myself for quite some time."
And then to Spock's surprise, the Ambassador turns to him and says, "I will see you tonight?"
How strange that the Ambassador would ask him to confirm what he surely knows. Their plan to meet was confirmed by comm text—could he have forgotten? If so, that suggests that the Ambassador's mental acuity is seriously flawed—a disturbing idea, to say the least.
"As we agreed," Spock says, and the Ambassador turns without a word and heads on to the transit station.
"What was that about?" Kirk says, rounding suddenly on Spock.
"The Ambassador does not need us on his return trip—"
"You know what I mean," Kirk interrupts. "I thought you guys weren't supposed to….you know, be friendly with each other."
Spock hesitates a moment.
"The Ambassador may have mislead you about that," he says mildly.
"That doesn't explain what's going on," Kirk answers.
"Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about," Kirk says, taking a step towards the Federation building. "Sneaking aboard the Enterprise and using the computer—"
To his dismay, Spock feels himself flush. Does the captain notice? He falls into step beside him and says, "He asked for information beyond the capabilities of the city computer library."
Again Spock hesitates. Although he had not appeared so at the time, apparently Kirk has been suspicious about finding the Ambassador on the bridge.
And now the Ambassador has inadvertently given Kirk an excuse to investigate after mentioning their meeting tonight.
Unless, of course, that was his intention.
Spock thinks again of the Ambassador's words at the hangar deck: I could not deprive you of a friendship that would define you both—in ways you cannot yet realize.
They reach the door to the Federation building and Spock stops, holding out his hand to prevent Kirk from palming open the door.
"He is going back to Romulus, with or without Federation support."
There. Spock has often heard the phrase, "the die is cast." This is one of those kinds of moments.
A fleeting frown crosses Kirk's face.
"Without, I think," he says, and Spock adds, "Agreed. That is why he is trying to find a ship captain willing to take him across the Neutral Zone."
Kirk snorts and shakes his head.
"You…guys….are crazy! What are you doing? You can't just walk up to someone and ask them to break an intergalactic treaty."
"So it would seem," Spock says, and Kirk snorts again.
"Look, how serious is he? I mean, really?"
"The future of Romulus is at stake," Spock says. "He is very serious."
Kirk crosses his arms and walks around in a tight circle.
"And so far? No luck?"
"I think not," Spock says. "We are meeting tonight to look for more candidates."
Kirk stops pacing and steps uncomfortably close to Spock.
"Don't waste your time," he says. "I think I know someone who might be able to help. But I'm not telling you anything else," he says, holding up his hand to stop Spock from responding, "until the meeting tonight."
A/N: Well, that didn't work out too well for the Ambassador...and what's our boy Jimmy up to?
Chapter 7: Conspirators
Chapter Seven: Conspirators
Disclaimer: I do not own nor profit from writing about these characters. Wish I did.
Spock considers several possible meeting places before settling on the market near his apartment. The owner, an Indian who rarely speaks but who keeps ample vegetarian selections stocked in the cooler, including several Vulcan specialties, is used to Spock's odd hours.
The market is close to the campus without being on it—and the seating is limited and private. If he sets a feedback loop in his comm, Spock will be able to jam any nearby surveillance scans.
The Ambassador is already there when he arrives. Entering the front door, Spock sees him alone at a table in the rear of the store. Stopping briefly at the refrigerated unit, he selects two light fruit drinks and makes his way to the back.
"I need to access the Enterprise's computers for more ship candidates," the Ambassador says without preamble.
Spock pushes one of the fruit drinks across the table.
"That may not be the most efficient way to find someone," Spock says, pulling his comm from his pocket and setting it between them on the table top. The Ambassador raises his eyebrows.
"You have another suggestion?" the Ambassador says, but before Spock can answer, the bell over the door tinkles and both men look up in time to see Jim Kirk poke his head around the doorjamb.
The Ambassador's face is unreadable, but Spock senses…surprise….though not anger or annoyance. He had expected a negative reaction. The Ambassador's safety—and more importantly, any possibility of success—depends on covert actions that are best kept secret by the fewest possible people.
Enlarging the circle to include Kirk had seemed logical at the time. Spock is relieved that the Ambassador appears to agree.
"What's good?" Kirk says as he pulls up a chair, and both Spock and the Ambassador look at him blankly. Kirk laughs and says, "What are you drinking?"
"Kaasa juice," Spock says, and then he adds, "but I do not advise it for you. Most humans find its flavor too strong."
Kirk wrinkles his nose and stands up.
"Is that a challenge?"
How odd. Spock's comment was intended to be helpful. Perhaps the captain needs more data.
"The odds are 96.7% that you will not enjoy the flavor," Spock says. From the corner of his eye, he notices the Ambassador watching him closely.
"My kind of odds," Kirk says, stepping away to the cooler and rummaging through the selections until he finds another kaasa juice.
Walking back towards the table, Kirk unscrews the top and takes a swig. His face contorts in a way that indicates that he is like 96.7% of humans—his eyes watering and pressed closed, his mouth turned down, his cheeks ballooned with juice.
Then Kirk opens his eyes, swallows, and coughs.
The Ambassador quirks a lip and shakes his head.
Taking several deep breaths, Kirk rubs his hand over his mouth.
"How do you drink that stuff?"
"The tasting apparatus in Vulcans is fundamentally different from that of humans," Spock says.
Kirk holds up his hand.
"I got it," he says. "We like different things."
"Not just like them," Spock adds, "but perceive them differently as well. Kaasa juice tastes like a mild mango or peach nectar to Vulcans, though humans have told me that to them it tastes like—"
The bell over the door tinkles again. To Spock's surprise, Leonard McCoy walks in and looks around. Spock darts a look at Kirk.
"Did you invite the doctor?"
"Bones!" Kirk says, waving his hand to catch McCoy's attention. "Yeah," Kirk says to Spock. "You need his help."
Spock opens his mouth to dispute that, but McCoy reaches their table and sits down first.
"Ambassador," McCoy says, inclining his head. "Spock."
"It is good to see you, Dr. McCoy," the Ambassador says, something unfamiliar in his tone. Sincerity? Pleasure? Both, yes, but nostalgia, too. Spock files that information away to consider later.
"I was just telling Spock here," Kirk says, "that they need you, Bones."
"Yeah?" McCoy says with a frown. "What's this about, Jim? You said I needed to meet you here tonight—"
"Meet us tonight," Kirk says, slapping McCoy on the back. "For a chat—and a drink."
Kirk hands McCoy the opened kaasa juice bottle. McCoy eyes it warily.
"If this is about that crazy idea to go to the Romulans—"
The Ambassador straightens in his chair and says, "It may ill-advised, but I have no other alternatives."
McCoy sets the kaasa bottle down hard on the table and leans toward the Ambassador.
"When Jim told me what you are planning, I told him you are crazy—and I mean it. If you manage to get across the Neutral Zone without being caught, you may get blown to smithereens by some of the pirates who hang around there. And if you don't get blown up, the Romulans may arrest you and execute you for violating the treaty."
The Ambassador nods somberly.
"All true, doctor," he says. "And if I do not succeed, the Romulan people face certain extinction when their star goes supernova. An entire world gone, doctor. You would not ask me to stand by and do nothing if I have even the smallest odds of succeeding."
McCoy huffs and sits back.
"No, no, of course I wouldn't."
He looks around the table, his gaze finally resting on Kirk.
"But what can I do about it?" the doctor says.
"Ah, Bones," Kirk says, handing him the kaasa juice bottle once more. "All the time I've known you, your favorite poison has always been Romulan ale. What about your supplier? You said you know someone who makes regular runs to Romulus. Think he might take a paying passenger?"
McCoy lets out another huff.
"She might," he says, "if the price is right. But I can't promise anything."
"If you give me her information, I can contact her," the Ambassador says, but McCoy shakes his head.
"No, better let me do it," he says. "She's skittish about people she doesn't know. It might take me a few days—"
The door to the market opens again and Spock looks up to see Nyota standing inside, motioning to him.
"Excuse me," he says to the men at the table. He sees Kirk and McCoy exchanging glances; most likely they are as curious as he is about why she is here.
"I'm sorry, Spock," she says, and he becomes alarmed at the tone of her voice. Her face has a sheen of sweat as though she has been running, yet the weather is unseasonably cool. "Your father is trying to reach you. He couldn't get through to your comm so he called me—"
Spock glances back at the table where the Ambassador and Kirk and McCoy are sitting. All three are watching him; he turns once more to Nyota and says, "Did he indicate why?"
"No," she says, a crease on her brow. "But he did say it was urgent."
At that Spock feels a wave of anxiety. He cannot recall ever hearing his father call anything urgent—not even accidents or emergencies that in retrospect were quite dire.
"Is he here?" Spock asks, beginning to walk to the back of the market. Nyota follows him, saying, "He's on the way back from Andoria. He said he'd be here this evening."
The Andorian initiative must have failed, then. If the Andorians have refused to help with Earth's defenses while the fleet is being rebuilt, other Federation partners will surely step in. Their aid is needed but not urgent.
Perhaps something else has happened.
He quickly relates Nyota's message and sees looks of alarm on the faces of the captain and the doctor. Even the Ambassador seems restive at the news.
They make their way back toward the front of the market where Spock hands several credits to the silent owner.
"Let's don't all leave at the same time," Kirk says, looking outside. "Bones, you go on."
"Well, okay," McCoy says, still holding the bottle of kaasa juice in his hand. He tips it up to his lips and takes a deep slug, pulls it away to look at the label, and then tips it up again to finish it.
"Here," he says, handing the empty bottle to Kirk.
"Perhaps you should go next," the Ambassador says, and Kirk nods. He tosses the kaasa juice bottle into the recycle bin and darts a glance out the door before exiting.
"Although the doctor's contact may be sufficient, we might be wise to explore more possibilities while we wait," the Ambassador says, and Spock understands that another trip to the Enterprise computers is necessary.
"I will need to check the work roster," he says, and the Ambassador answers, "I will wait for you to contact me, then."
An electric prickle brushes his hand and he looks down at Nyota's fingers on his own. Her disapproval is clear—and her anger.
He looks up at her face but she is looking past him, towards the Ambassador who has already stepped outside. Surrounding the Ambassador are five Starfleet security officers, one with a phaser in his hand.
"Ambassador Spock?" a tall, blonde security officer asks, and the Ambassador nods.
"Sir, you are under arrest."
A/N: Enjoying this fic so far? Let me know! Not enjoying it much? Let me know that, too!
Chapter 8: The Good of the Many
Chapter Eight: The Good of the Many
Disclaimer: I'm a shameless eavesdropper and make no money writing about it.
"How fortunate," Sarek says, "that the L'Gurian captain has an extensive arrest record."
To Nyota's ear, he sounds miffed—or as miffed as a Vulcan can get.
"More tea?" she asks, standing up from the sofa where she and Spock have been sitting for the past hour, listening to Sarek recount the events of the day. Sarek is ensconced in the armchair opposite, a tepid cup of tea balanced on his knee.
"I presume you mean that the L'Gurian's accusations are suspect, given his record," Spock says.
"Precisely so," Sarek says. "Otherwise I would not have been able to procure the Ambassador's release."
Neither Sarek nor Spock is paying her any attention. Nyota picks up her own empty tea mug and heads to the kitchen. She fills up the teakettle and waits for it to boil while she stands in the doorway.
"He approached five captains about transport," Spock says. "If any of the others come forward—"
"If they do, I will be unable to help him. One request to an illegal trader can be explained away, but not more."
The whistle of the kettle calls Nyota away from following the conversation for a few minutes. When she sits back down on the sofa, she notices that Sarek is leaning forward, his hands clasped on his knees. Spock is sitting back stiffly against the sofa. An argument? Something in their posture suggests a disagreement.
"You are as stubborn as he is," Sarek says, and Nyota sees Spock bristle.
"Being committed to an action is not the same as being stubborn," Spock says. "If you agreed with the action, you would applaud it as commendable."
"You are attempting to be clever with that argument," Sarek says, and Nyota sees Spock's anger flash across his face, and worse, she knows that Sarek sees it, too, and that he counts it as a lack of control.
Spock says nothing else and Sarek continues.
"Rushing off now without Federation support increases the odds of failure," Sarek says. "In a few years, the public mood will change. Then we can send an envoy to Romulus. Not before."
Spock sits silent, his eyes trained on his father's. Nyota feels a wave a heat—real or imagined—wash over her. The room is warm but she is feeling nervous, also.
"You do not agree?" Sarek says at last.
Spock glances away for a moment before looking again at his father.
"I do not."
"The public mood," Spock says, "is unpredictable. Yesterday I was heckled outside the south gate by protesters at an Earth United rally."
Nyota is startled. He hasn't mentioned anything to her about being heckled. The Earth United movement waxes and wanes—sometimes more vocal than others. In the past two weeks a few people carrying placards have marched at the south gate of the Academy—though she assumed that because most of the students have left, the protesters had, too.
Sarek's face is inscrutable. If he is angry on Spock's behalf, he reveals nothing.
"The Ambassador will try again," Sarek says suddenly, and despite the heat, Nyota feels a cold shiver.
"Undoubtedly," Spock says.
"Spock," Sarek says, this time with an almost imperceptible softening of his tone, "Admiral Komack warned me about the impending arrest as a courtesy. I cannot expect that sort of consideration in the future."
When Spock does not respond, Sarek says, "And if you should get in trouble—"
"Father," Spock interrupts, "I will not ask for your help. You have made your wishes clear."
This time Nyota sees Sarek react with a frown—so his control is not as complete as he would like everyone to believe.
"We'll talk again tomorrow," Sarek says, rising. Without saying anything else, he walks to the door and lets himself out.
"He's right, you know," Nyota says, gathering up tea mugs and taking them to the kitchen sink.
Instead of answering, Spock rises from the living area and walks down the hallway toward the bedroom. If he is angry with her, so be it. She's angry too—and she's tired of being angry.
When she rounds the corner to the bedroom, she sees Spock changing into a simple black tee. She scoots onto the bed and pulls her knees to her chin.
"Hey," she says, and Spock glances over at her. "I'm sorry. I'm just….worried about you. I don't think you understand—"
"I understand," Spock says, his brow creased, his voice unusually sharp. "You are concerned that if the Ambassador is caught and charged with treason, my career will be in jeopardy."
Nyota is flustered. Naturally she's worried—apparently more than he is.
"Aren't you concerned?" she says, and Spock turns to her quickly.
"Of course I am," he says, his brows knit, his face flushed. "But some things transcend personal consideration."
"Like breaking a treaty?" Nyota says, her voice shaking.
"Like saving a people," Spock says. He lets out a deep breath, and with it, his anger seems to recede. Nyota watches his expression lighten, and she holds out her hand to him.
"Come here," she says, "and sit with me. Let's not fight. I don't want to waste time fighting."
He walks to the bed and sits gingerly beside her.
"Nyota," he says, "I do not know what I will be asked to do."
"He's already asked you to do enough!" she protests. Spock starts to reach for her hand but stops.
"And he may ask more," he says.
Then he takes her hand in his, and she feels the familiar wave of affection and belonging. She stills her own mind and reaches back—and she suddenly knows that no matter what the Ambassador asks of Spock, he will do it….even if it means leaving with him for the Neutral Zone….
No! she calls into his mind, and she knows she is hurting him. He cannot ask that!
Sorrow, and despair flood her—she sees Vulcan crumbling, again, as it does in Spock's rare dreams. An entire world will be lost, he says, and she feels tears springing to her eyes.
She cries for the Vulcan dead and for the Vulcan survivors—for Amanda and Sarek and Spock.
For Gaila and so many friends taken away in a single afternoon, and for the captains and crew and cadets she did not know.
For herself—for what she has seen, for what she has lost, for what she may lose in the future.
And when she thinks that she has no more tears, she finds she can weep at last for the Romulans, the men and women and children whose world will be destroyed, whose mistrust of the Federation might doom them, whose best hope for survival may be a man trapped in a time not his own, and another man determined to help him.
She feels Spock's warm fingers wiping the tears from her cheeks, and lifting her chin.
"Nyota," he says quietly, and she opens her eyes and sees him looking at her intently.
He reaches for her.
They cling to each other like they are drowning, their fingers entwined in each other's hair. Nyota's tears slide and pool under her cheeks, dampening her pillow when they lie down, their arms wrapped around each other.
When she can cry no more, they make love as though they are going to their executions—with a sense of finality and poignancy and overwhelming sorrow, holding each other so tightly that their movements are constrained and slow—and for all that, full of a tenderness that belies the depth of their despair.
And through it all, Spock caresses her brow, again and again, and tells her what he cannot say.
Forgive me, forgive me, forgive me.
Chapter 9: The Set Up
Chapter Nine: The Set Up
Disclaimer: I am a traveler in this land, not an owner.
Surely this qualifies as a prank.
Unless, of course, Jim Kirk gave him the wrong address.
But, no. The street address scrawled in neon lights over the door is correct.
Spock raises his hand but hesitates. The noise coming from inside the nightclub shakes the door handle. Decibel levels that high will have a deleterious effect on his hearing.
On the other hand, he has to go inside.
The lights are so dim that for a moment he stands inside the door and waits for his eyes to adjust. A squat young woman wearing what appears to be a tunic made of feathers sidles up, looping her arm through Spock's.
"Looking for someone?" she shouts as Spock unhooks his arm and steps to the side. Immediately she scowls—and when she does, Spock notes that something about her facial features is not quite human. Her nose is too pug, her brow squared oddly. A human hybrid? Part Tellarite?
Apparently miffed, the woman snorts and moves away. Her impatience implies some Tellarite heritage after all. He feels a flash of satisfaction at his successful deduction.
He wonders idly if the other humans in the nightclub have deduced the woman's heritage. Humans are notoriously unobservant. Very few, for instance, have ever realized his own dual heritage until he told them.
Vulcans, on the other hand, have always seen his humanity.
Often seeing only his humanity—and dismissing him because of it.
He is instantly ashamed of his musings about the woman at the door—about his reducing her to her parts instead of seeing her whole.
Threading his way carefully past a knot of dancers, Spock scans the room looking for Kirk. Booths are set into three of the walls, and small round tables are scattered in the center of the room. Along the fourth wall is a long bar manned by a stocky, blue-skinned Bolian.
The music is pulsing so loudly that Spock's head starts to hurt. Most of the people in the room are humans and humanoids—yet they do not seem to find the noise level distressing. Further proof of the sensitivity of Vulcan hearing—
From the corner of his eye he sees an arm wave from the end of the bar. Kirk at last. Spock navigates his way through the undulating mass of people milling about or dancing until he is within a few feet of the captain.
"Spock!" Kirk shouts, and two women sitting on either side turn and look at Spock.
"Fancy meeting you here!" he says, and Spock has to refrain from looking annoyed. Kirk's choice of meeting place—indeed this entire fiction—is Kirk's idea.
"I was unable to reach you by any other means," Spock says. "Your comm seems to be inoperable."
"Oh, that," Kirk says, laughing. "Must have switched it off for some reason."
The two women who had turned to look at Spock turn back around to give their attention to Kirk. The captain smiles at the woman to his left and leans over to the woman to his right. As he does, the music blaring from the overhead speakers switches to a softer, lusher tune—one that is, thankfully, not painfully loud.
"Want another drink?"
This is the cue they have arranged—and Spock says the words they planned that mean that everything is ready.
"Captain, I apologize for interrupting you, but Mr. Scott says that the coil emissions suggest the need for a partial shut-down and overhaul. You will need to sign off on that order."
Kirk motions to the Bolian behind the bar.
"Ladies," he says, handing the bartender a fistful of credits, "you see what my life is like. No rest for the wicked. But that shouldn't ruin your evening. Have another on me."
Then the captain hops backward off the bar stool and says, "Ready, Mr. Spock."
Spock steps aside as Kirk leads the way back through the crowd and out the front door.
"Well," Kirk says when they are safely away down the street from the nightclub entrance, "what I don't understand is why Vulcans have this reputation for never lying. You did that with a straight face just fine."
"Vulcans almost always have, as you call it, a straight face," Spock says, and Kirk jerks around to look at him.
"Are you making a joke?" he says, and Spock shakes his head.
"Never," he says. He holds out his hand to signal to Kirk to pause before crossing the street in front of them.
The unmanned transit station is another city block down from the nightclub. Most travelers use the kiosks to call for hovercabs or to rent cars, though a single transporter pad is situated in the back for the few people willing to pay the fee to use it.
Kirk and Spock head there now, passing several people on their way into the station. Quickly Spock sets the destination coordinates on the touch console and Kirk steps onto the pad.
"See you in a minute," Kirk says before disappearing in a whirl of energy.
Spock resets the controls and adds a timed delay. He steps up to the transporter pad and feels the typical disorientation of beaming as the transporter room of the Enterprise materializes around him.
Kirk is already behind the control console. Spock joins him and presses in rapid succession a series of numbers.
"You have it?" Kirk says, looking closely at the screen.
"Here," Spock says, tapping one indicator. "I stored the Ambassador's energy pattern the last time he beamed aboard."
Making the calculations in his head, Spock reverses the pattern and keys it into another part of the screen. If he is successful, when the Ambassador beams aboard in a few minutes, no one will know. Spock will transmit the Ambassador's pattern back to the beam-up point at the same time—creating a loop that should make him invisible—or at least make tracing his actions more difficult.
Once the Ambassador is onboard, he can beam up without notice to McCoy's contact—her ship is waiting in a parking orbit nearby.
If he is not successful, the Ambassador's attempt to beam onto the Enterprise will register at Starfleet and the local police authorities. Sarek was unable to waive the Ambassador's hearing completely—and until he makes an appearance and clears up the charges of soliciting transport across the Neutral Zone, his movements are restricted.
His calculations plotted into the computer, Spock leans back and waits for the signal to begin beaming up the Ambassador. When he looks up, he sees that Kirk is watching him with an unreadable expression. Regret for getting involved? That doesn't seem likely—though the captain has much to lose if they are caught.
"It is not too late for you to beam back down," Spock says, and he is rewarded with a broad frown from Kirk.
"I didn't go to all that trouble to be seen in a public place," Kirk says, "just to leave now. I'm supposed to be here, remember? I had to sign those orders to work on the warp drive."
"The coil emitters," Spock says. "Captain, the Ambassador may need further assistance that you cannot offer. I may have to accompany him—"
He pauses, expecting Kirk to protest. To his surprise, the captain does not change expression.
"—and if so, your involvement will become suspect. If you leave now—"
"Spock," Kirk says, sounding almost bored. "Why are you telling me this? I'm not letting you two guys go without me. You need me. Heck, you wouldn't even have a ship waiting to take you to Romulus if I hadn't known about McCoy's fondness for Romulan ale."
He sits back and crosses his arms.
"So don't get all heroic on me and tell me how you have to do this alone."
"The Ambassador may have other ideas."
"So. We'll have a conversation. And then he'll see I'm right."
Spock's comm chimes—the Ambassador's signal. Spock activates the transporter controls, checking once to make sure that the reverse pattern is transmitting. The familiar swirl begins, though something niggles at the edge of his consciousness. Something is wrong.
The buzz of the transporter fades and there stands Leonard McCoy.
"He isn't coming," the doctor says.
A/N: TOS Spock could be both sneaky and stubborn-and in TNG, didn't he go to the Romulans without Federation sanction? He's either stubborn or determined, depending on your point of view...
Chapter 10: The Gift
Chapter 10: The Gift
Disclaimer: I own nothing here, and little anywhere else.
"What do you mean, he isn't coming?" Kirk says.
McCoy steps down from the transporter and shrugs.
"Just what I said. We met at the beam-up point and he said he had found a way up to Cassie's ship that wouldn't involve you."
"Damn!" Kirk says.
Still sitting behind the control console, Spock tries to sort out the confusing information—and his conflicting emotions.
Whether or not the Ambassador's chance of success has been improved or damaged is difficult to calculate. Too many variables make the algorithm unreliable.
Yet Spock cannot deny that he feels relief, too—and in equal measure, guilt about feeling relief.
"We can beam to her ship from here!" Kirk says.
"We do not have the coordinates," Spock says, and McCoy shakes his head.
"They're already gone. Give it up, Jim. He made his decision—and he decided this wasn't for you."
McCoy stops and adds, making eye contact with Spock, "Or you. So go home. Both of you."
Uhura moves away from the door and the Ambassador walks into Spock's apartment. He waits for her to close the door and then follows her to the sofa.
"I thought you were with Spock!" she says. She is obviously alarmed, and he hurries to reassure her that nothing is wrong.
"It seems that I will not need his assistance after all," the Ambassador says, and he sees her sink back into the sofa. Relief? And happiness, yes—she lets out a deep breath and smiles at him.
"I'm so glad," she says, and then, as quickly as she smiles, her brow wrinkles. How amusing her expressions are! How….pleasing.
"But," she says, "you are okay?"
"I am indeed," the Ambassador says. "I will be leaving soon—"
He hears her make a tiny gasp.
"Spock has told you of my plans?" he asks, and she slowly nods.
At that he stands up, moving toward the holovids on the bookshelf. He senses Uhura watching, and sure enough, when he turns towards her, she is looking at him intently.
"Spock's mother," he says, picking up the picture of Amanda and Spock standing side by side. "Did you know her?"
Uhura purses her lips and shakes her head—sadly? A slight frown flickers over her brow.
"We spoke once in passing," she says, and this time the Ambassador can hear the sadness in her voice.
"And Vulcan?" he says, picking up a landscape of red and purple rocks. "Did you ever visit?"
Again the sad tone as she tells him no.
"A pity," he says softly, replacing the holovids. "I am glad that you are here tonight," he adds, moving back towards the sofa and sitting down. "I was not certain that you would be."
He sees Uhura blink twice—his words have surprised her.
"Spock should be here soon," she offers.
"I will be gone before he returns," he says. He debates telling her that to his certain knowledge, the captain and his first officer are on a wild goose chase—one he put in motion, keeping them out of the way while he manages his departure. But she might take offense—or worse, find his actions illogical.
Instead, he says, "With your permission, I would like to leave something for him. You can give it to him when he returns."
"Of course," she says, her eyes widening.
"I have resisted sharing too much of my own history with Spock. He should be free to find his own path. My decisions, after all, were based on an equation that may not be true in this universe. Our lives bear certain similarities, but they are not the same."
He sees Uhura nodding. A remarkable young woman—he feels a wave of delight that she and Spock have each other.
"But I would like to share one memory that has no danger for him," he says. "The young woman died many years ago, and I feel I owe her a….tribute….of some sort. If I do not return—"
And here he pauses, weighing his words carefully.
"I would find great comfort in knowing that this memory is kept alive. May I?"
He reaches out his hand, waiting for her almost imperceptible nod.
As he always does when he mind melds with humans, the Ambassador feels first an emotion that he thinks of as coming home—a tardy acknowledgment of his mother's steady presence in his being. The human part of him rejoices in the chaotic tumbling thoughts his Vulcan half strives so hard to corral.
Like a curtain that he has to push aside, he moves further into Uhura's mind—and is struck immediately at how musical she is—how lilting even her inner voice sounds. He considers showing her a quick image of his own Uhura playing his lyre in the recreation room onboard the Enterprise, but like Spock, she may find the knowledge of her counterpart burdensome.
After all, human literature is full of characters who discovered their fate and then ruined themselves trying to bring it to pass—Oedipus, Macbeth. Better not to know—to believe that the future is wide open.
Here, he tells her, showing her Leila Kalomi as she was when he first met her—studious and quiet, almost shy.
She's lovely, Uhura thinks, and the Ambassador feels her curiosity blossom. Like a film editor, he selects scenes from their life together—planning a lecture as professor and assistant, a trip to a botanical garden in the desert near Phoenix, a meal cooked and shared at his house—he unrolls these scenes with care, sensing Uhura's responses before moving to the next.
Relentlessly he shows her Leila's growing disappointment in their relationship—nor does he hide his own part in what happens.
A wave of sorrow and regret—his own, or Uhura's empathic response?
He moves to the memory he most wants to preserve—the day when the Enterprise arrived and found the colonists of Omicron Ceti III hale and hearty.
For so long he has kept that day buried in his memory—mostly out of the shame of his lack of control—that resurrecting it again in fine detail is physically painful. He feels Uhura wince and he starts to pull back his hand—but her voice seeks him out.
Show me, she says, and Leila walks again in his mind, pointing out the seed pods that freed him to say I love you.
He shows her an afternoon that had been a kaleidoscope of color and sound—tree climbing and cloud watching, the unexpected pleasure of sex in a meadow, the quietude of a cup of tea shared with people who understood him, who accepted him.
He hesitates briefly—should he end the memory here?—but Uhura nudges him on and he shows her his last conversation with Leila before they parted again—this time for good.
She knew you loved her, Uhura says, her voice a soothing balm. Knowing was enough.
Pulling back his hand, the Ambassador breaks their link.
"I must go," he says, standing and making his way to the door.
"Live long and prosper, Lieutenant," he says, his dark eyes on hers.
And then he adds, "Ms. Uhura…..Nyota."
With that, he opens the door and lets himself out.
Later that evening, Spock is quieter than usual but not morose or upset that Nyota can sense. He seems thoughtful, pondering.
Without discussing their plans, they fall together into an easy rhythm in the kitchen, chopping vegetables for a quick stir fry. As they often do, they carry their plates to the living area and sit beside each other on the sofa, Nyota leaning into Spock's arm and flicking her hand on his occasionally, just to feel the electric connection.
When they are finished and she thinks she can speak calmly, Nyota says, "He was here today."
Spock does not ask her who as most people would. Nyota grins at herself for predicting—correctly—that his intuition would jump start their conversation.
"Aren't you curious about why?" she says, tipping her head to the side so that she can catch his eye.
"You will tell me regardless of my emotional investment," Spock says drily, and Nyota laughs.
"He brought you a gift," she says slyly, knowing that Spock will look about the apartment for some artifact. This could be fun—watching him try to play Sherlock Holmes with so little data.
She pivots on the sofa to see him better. Spock, however, doesn't move.
"Well?" she asks. "Aren't you going to try to figure it out?"
"I do not need to," Spock says, and Nyota huffs at him in mock indignation. "I already know what it is."
"You couldn't!" she exclaims. Is he teasing her? He looks serious, though sometimes he can hide his amusement from her when she is not looking carefully.
And then an idea occurs to her.
"He told you!"
"He communicated nothing of the sort," Spock says.
"Then how—wait!" she says. "You haven't told me yet what you think it is. You might be wrong."
"Unlikely," Spock says, shifting on the sofa so that his arm is draped around Nyota's shoulder.
"So," she says, tugging his arm closer, "spill the beans."
"No stalling! What's the gift, if you think you are so smart?"
Spock looks around the room and Nyota grins. Busted!
She starts to gloat and then Spock says, "First, I will tell you what the gift is not."
"It is not an actual object. If it were, it would be in view, or you would have given away its position by looking toward it when you mentioned it—but you did not. Furthermore, the Ambassador lost all of his material possessions when he became trapped in this continuum—so it is not an article with sentimental or personal value."
"Oh," Nyota says, slightly deflated. "Well, you still haven't said what it is."
"It is not electronic data, or the Ambassador would have transmitted it via the network rather than in person. So, it is not in the computer or in a holovid."
"No," Nyota says, and Spock tilts his head.
"The likelihood that it is information per se is low, since the Ambassador has not lived in this time continuum long enough to have acquired much knowledge that I do not also possess."
By now Nyota is frowning at him, though he doesn't seem to notice.
"Therefore, I believe that the Ambassador has shared a memory of some sort with you, possibly verbally, but the odds are that he chose to show you in a mind meld, something that he seems to favor with humans."
Nyota lets out a breath.
"You really are no fun," she says.
"As my mother often complained."
"Do you want to see it? It is quite lovely—but sad, too."
She tucks her feet up on the sofa and watches Spock as the tiniest shifts in his expression flutter across his face.
"Later," he says at last. "When we have finished making some of our own memories."
"Is that what we are about to do?" she says playfully but is surprised to see a somber expression cross his features.
"Nyota," he says, reaching and taking her hands in his own, "when I thought that I might have to leave—"
"I was angry," she finishes, and he nods.
"But I understood why you needed to," she says, and he nods again.
He leans forward and kisses her then, lightly, and through their touch she knows what he cannot say with words, that he loves her, even as the Ambassador had loved Leila, and knowing it is enough.