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THE MISFIT
(A Star Trek Romance)
by
S h a r o n E m i l y


Link to Part 2

STARDATE: 5879.4

I FELT WONDERFULLY RESTED WHEN I AWAKENED....

Yes, far more rested than I should have been after less than two hours' worth of sleep. Sure enough, when I looked at the timer, I found that I had slept through our departure from Mauretania. To add insult to injury, we were well beyond Transporter range.

So much for my plans to leave the Enterprise. But, there's no use fretting about it now. These next seven days are going to be quite difficult, to say the least, but my work and my studies should help me to get through them.

STARDATE: 5879.10

ONCE AGAIN, I HAVE INADVERTENTLY WOUND UP IN SICKBAY AS A PATIENT INSTEAD OF AS A MEMBER OF THE STAFF....

"Lorna, that's the second time I've seen you wince when you were trying to lean against your right hand." Doctor McCoy commented. "What's wrong?"

"'W-wrong'?" I childishly put my right hand behind me. "What gives you the idea that anything is wrong?"

"Don't play games with me, Lorna," he demanded. "I want to see that arm."

Reluctantly, I brought my arm from behind my back and allowed him to examine the dark bruise that encircled my wrist.

"Whew." He whistled and touched my wrist gently. "That's quite a bruise. What did you do to yourself?"

"Would you believe -- I can't tell you?" I evaded, unwilling to tell him that Sarek had made that bruise when he had gripped my wrist so tightly the previous evening.

"Lorna, it's pretty hard to get a bruise like that without knowing what has caused it."

"Can I say that I happened to be in the right place at the wrong time and let it go at that?" I met his gaze steadily.

"In other words -- it's really none of my business? All right, I suppose you're entitled to a few secrets, if no one else is in danger. That doesn't mean you have to put up with that pain. Come over here."

He led me to one of the therapy lamps and made me sit down.

"Twenty minutes under this will take care of the pain. The bruise will be gone by tomorrow."

He set up a viewer for me so I could study while I was under the lamp, then he went to the other end of the room to check a test he had been running.

Shortly after that, Mr. Spock, accompanied by his father, came into Sickbay. My pulses accelerated and my breath caught in my throat. I wanted to get up and leave, but I realized that that would bring me more attention than if I just stayed put. I compromised by keeping my gaze fixed upon the viewer-screen, pretending to be too engrossed in my studies to be aware that anyone had come in.

"Good morning, Spock. Ambassador?" Len greeted the newcomers.

"Good morning, Doctor." Spock replied calmly. "Ambassador Sarek requires treatment."

"Nothing serious, I hope?"

"It is not an emergency." Sarek replied. "If you are needed elsewhere, I can wait. However, Spock has convinced me that it is necessary for you to examine this."

'This' was a badly swollen and discolored right arm.

"I don't need to 'scope this to see that you've torn some muscles. You may even have cracked the ulna." Len probed carefully at the Ambassador's arm. "What caused this injury?"

"A minor miscalculation."

"How in thunder can I decide what treatment you need if you won't tell me what happened?"

"Now, Bones, you know neither of these close-mouthed Vulcans will tell you more than they want you to know." Kirk exclaimed as he came in. "We were down on the Eighth Level, where they are installing those new replacement units in some of the corridor illuminators. One of the units fell and would have hit me on the head if the Ambassador hadn't pushed me out of the way. He caught the blow on his arm.... How badly was he hurt?"

"Well, he isn't comfortable, by any means, but it's nothing too serious. Once Lorna's therapy is completed, I'll put the Ambassador under the same ray. He'll be good as new after a couple of hours."

"Lorna?" Jim realized for the first time that I was in Sickbay as a patient. "What's wrong with you?"

"Just a bruise, sir." I started to rise, but kept my seat in obedience to his swift gesture. "If Doctor McCoy hadn't pulled rank on me, I wouldn't be taking this treatment."

"The Yeoman won't be there much longer, Ambassador." Len signaled Christine to bring a stool for Sarek, who refused it courteously. "But those torn muscles are surely quite painful. I can give you something to help while you're waiting."

"Medication is unnecessary. Pain is a state of mind, and the mind can be controlled."

"As you wish." Len replied, being a gentleman about it. Spock had often proved the Vulcan capability to control pain, and the Doctor believed in avoiding excessive medication. After a moment, Len turned to the Captain, for regulations demanded that he make sure that the falling unit had not touched Jim. Spock remained at attention, silently observing everything that was happening.

I turned back to my viewer, but a shadow fell across it. I looked up, to find that Sarek was beside me, looking intently at the dark bruise on my wrist.

"I am responsible for that." It was not a question, but I nodded. "I beg forgiveness."

"Why? You didn't do it on purpose."

He shook his head. "It should not have happened. I know full well that I am much stronger than any Terran...."

"You had other things on your mind at the time. It was imperative that you prevent the Procurator from choosing an -- an unsuitable Federation representative, and I was already speaking words of acceptance. Besides," I indicated his arm, "don't you agree that your injury settles any account that may exist between us?"

"Perhaps," he replied. Wishing to divert my attention from his own injury, he looked at the material on the viewer.

"The Amberton/Zingara Theory? Yeoman, your training has been very swift indeed. Do you understand what you are reading?"

"Say rather that I am trying to understand it, sir. I fear that Mr. Spock will have to re-phrase parts of it in simpler terms."

"I am an expert in Amberton/Zingara, Yeoman. Spock should devote most of his attention to the task of refining the dilithium crystals we are bringing with us from Mauretania. Therefore, perhaps you will let me help you with this theory?"

"'Dilithium....'" I gasped. "No wonder the Klingons were so anxious to keep you from reaching Mauretania. Was that what Mr. Spock wanted to show the Captain in the game preserve...?" My voice broke. That had been an unfortunate choice of words.

"Yes," Sarek replied, ignoring what was best forgotten. "The Klingons never overlook an opportunity to increase their sources of power."

The therapy ray snapped off, and I rose.

"Christine, put the Ambassador under the ray, will you?" Len went to a pharmacy cabinet. "Lorna, I want you to take these sleeping tablets with you and make sure you use one when you go to bed tonight."

"But I slept very well last night "

"Don't argue with your doctor, young lady," he growled as he handed me a clear packet with two red tablets in it. "Another night of good, sound sleep certainly won't hurt you. You heard me -- take one of those, so you will sleep well again tonight."

Sarek had said almost the same thing the previous evening, and I had slept -- almost as if in response to a hypnotic command. Was it possible....? No, the idea was too far-fetched to deserve serious consideration.

My tour of duty in Sickbay had ended while I was under the ray, so I gathered my materials and turned to leave for my next assignment.

"Yeoman Mitchell."

"Yes, Ambassador?"

"Please join me in the Recreation Room on Level Three when you go off-duty. At that time, I shall clarify any difficulties that you may still be experiencing in your current area of study."

STARDATE: 5879.18

THOUGH I DALLIED AND DITHERED AROUND ABOUT IT ALL DAY, I HEADED DIRECTLY FOR RECREATION ROOM THREE THE MINUTE I WENT OFF DUTY.

Ambassador Sarek was there, discussing warp-communications with Uhura. No one would have believed that he had sustained a painful injury only a few hours earlier. There was still some discoloration visible near his wrist, much like that upon my own, but the swelling was gone, and he was moving the arm easily. Sometimes, the medical skills of this era, border on the miraculous.

"Yeoman Mitchell." He turned when I paused just inside the door. "You are prompt. Come, let us retire to this corner so I may determine how well you have mastered the concepts you were studying earlier."

There were only two points -- minor ones at that! -- which I had not been able to grasp. Sarek made them so easy to understand that it was not long before I had made them my own.

I was surprised to see Mr. Spock entering the Rec. Room about ten minutes after I had come in. While Sarek and I were reviewing my lessons, Spock picked up his lytherette and began to fill the air with its strangely pleasing sounds.

After a moment, I realized what might have happened. Apparently, this was one of those times that the Captain had forced his First Officer to go off-duty -- whether he had completed a task or not.

"Mr. Spock," Mr. Sulu, who had been studying a script, inquired, "have you ever considered lending your musical talents to the Bard?"

Mr. Spock lifted his eyebrow in polite inquiry.

"We were planning to rehearse 'King Lear,' but we really need some music to help set the mood. I don't suppose you'd be interested?"

"The experience might be of value. Speak your lines; I shall follow."

"Lorna, Alicia isn't going to be able to make it tonight; will you read her part?"

"Do I have to play the character as well as read it?"

"Not this time."

"Then give me the script."

I read my lines with as much realism as possible to help maintain the calibre of their work, and I was intrigued by Spock's perfect following of the story in his music. For once, though, I found something which was more interesting than the lytherette -- and it wasn't Sarek.

Mr. Sulu didn't have much opportunity to speak on the Bridge, and we had never indulged in too much conversation. When we did, it was about chess, and no emotion is involved in that, idealistically. Now, however, as I listened to him while he was speaking the immortal lines of his role, I realized that his voice was filled with the warmth and the purity of tone that experts have often called verbal music. I would even go so far as to say that his voice was like pure gold.

"Lorna. Hey, Lorna! You missed your cue."

"You'd better get someone else, Sulu. I'm too much in love with your voice to pay attention to my lines." I admitted frankly and tossed the script back to him.

The players laughed and went off to another part of the room to resume their rehearsal. While I had been involved with the players, Sarek had gone back to resume his conversation with Uhura.

There was much light-hearted jesting after I had made my confession about being in love with Sulu's voice, but then Lieutenant Rogers, who worked in Sickbay now and then, had to spoil it all by turning the conversation toward that horrid tarlud:

"Yeoman, I've been studying the Mauretanian books that we're carrying to Memory Alpha. They say that the tarlud takes the pattern of its illusions from its chosen victim's thoughts. According to the medical report, the creature assumed the form of Ambassador Sarek when it came after you. Why were your memories of him so vivid? After all, he'd been away from the ship for quite some time."

Young man -- just what are you up to? I can create enough verbal pitfalls of my own without any help from you. I thought angrily.

"You have forgotten one important factor, Lieutenant." I chose the words of my verbal reply carefully in case Sarek was listening. "The hours spent maintaining mental contact with the Ambassador on Aries XI made an indelible imprint upon my mind."

That must have been the right answer, for, to my great relief, Rogers and the rest drifted on to other matters. Before long, I found that I had to stifle a yawn. Apparently I wouldn't need to take that sleeping pill that Len had prescribed for me after all.

Hardly had I thought his name than the good doctor himself sat down beside me.

"Lorna, I'm not criticizing, mind you, but if you don't quit misplacing things in Sickbay, I may be tempted to wring your pretty neck!" he complained, his tone indicating that he wasn't teasing.

"What have you lost now?" I sighed.

"My notes on the use of Condrual in the treatment of cardiovascular occlusions. I've been looking for them all afternoon, for I'll have to have those notes transcribed and ready before we head for Rigel II."

"Which won't be until after we've stopped at Vulcan so - so the Ambassador can beam down, which gives us enough time. Besides, I don't see how you could have missed those notes. I distinctly remember marking that case with red, and I know I put it in your 'top priority' file -- where it belongs."

"Oh! That's the only place I didn't look." He grinned and spread his hands in a gesture of mute apology. "I did it again. Sorry, Lorna."

"Why is it that a man cannot find anything, even when -- no, especially when -- it is right out in plain view or in an obvious place? When was the last time you had your eyes checked?"

"Guilty!" He held his hands up at shoulder level. "Are you going to shoot me at sunrise?"

"I might, if the ship had one." I retorted. "There are some very interesting weapons aboard." Suddenly, all the fun went out of the moment. "I'm sorry. Could you find someone else to argue with? I've had a long day...."

"Yeah, I know what you mean," he agreed. "I've not been exactly idle, you know. I've got to go to Engineering. Why don't I walk you to your quarters?"

"Why not?"

We rose and made our way to the exit, where a tall, saturnine figure intercepted us.

"Good evening, Doctor." Sarek said courteously. "You did not tell me.... Must I report to Sickbay tomorrow?"

"No. Your arm has responded well to the ray. It should be entirely well by morning."

"Then I bid you goodnight, Doctor. Yeoman."

"May you rest well, Ambassador." I said quietly, fixing my gaze upon a point directly above and beyond his left shoulder.

Len and I did not speak to one another while we walked to the turbo lift; when the door slid shut behind us, however, he broke our silence:

"Lorna, how long have you known that you're in love with Ambassador Sarek?"

"Damn and blast! Len, can't a person even try to keep anything a secret aboard this starship? Have I - have I been so - so transparent that everyone knows and is laughing at me?"

"Calm down, Lorna." He touched my arm reassuringly. "I haven't heard anyone say a thing."

"I'm sorry, Len," I apologized, flushing with mingled embarrassment and annoyance. "Please tell me what tipped you off, so I won't do it again."

"??? Oh, I started suspecting at the reception... I figured then that if I caught you off guard, you'd admit it. You are, aren't you?"

"Yes. Len, your powers of observation frighten me. Do my eyes reveal so much...?"

"Don't worry about it, honey. After all, it's second nature for me to look beneath the outer surface. Others have probably noticed that your eyes are haunted...." His gaze moved swiftly over me as he enumerated physical evidences of my inner turmoil: "Mouth looks stern; no wonder, you clench your teeth most of the time, and you don't say much -- afraid you'll say more than you should? Ahuh, I thought so. Well, so much has happened to you in such a short time.... Most people figure your behavior is only natural. I sincerely doubt that anyone else -- even the Ambassador -- suspects...."

"Oh, I'm quite sure that Sarek doesn't suspect anything. Otherwise, he'd have taken great care to lecture yours truly in a course of 'romantic inclinations toward a Vulcan are "most illogical"'." I smiled wryly. "Len, you're the doctor. Tell me why my wayward heart chose the one individual I've met who isn't free."

"But, Lorna, Sarek is free...."

"Is he? You knew Amanda, Len. Do you honestly believe that any woman could compete against her memory?"

"Why should there be any competition? You're an entirely different individual...."

"Which doesn't make the least bit of difference."

"I don't like to hear this defeatist talk from you."

"Isn't it wiser to admit that one shouldn't hope for the impossible?"

The turbo lift stopped at my floor. Though no one was in the corridor, Len said nothing more until we were outside my quarters.

"Honey, it tears me apart inside to know that you're unhappy. We seem to have brought you nothing but grief."

"No, Len!" I laid my hand on his arm, wanting him to know how I felt. "I've met so many wonderful people, and I've been given a second chance at life -- and it's a good life, a better life, really."

"But...."

"'But,' nothing. Len, I'd be an idiot not to make the best of what I have."

He looked at me with undisguised admiration. "I should have known better than to accuse you of talking like a defeatist."

"You can't win them all. Now, what was that you said about going down to Engineering?"

He looked up and down the corridor to be sure that no one else was around, then he leaned against the wall -- looming closer.

"Don't try to put up a front with me, Lorna. I know you too well. It's all right to pretend that you're on top of the universe while you're on duty, but you have to let go sometimes. You'd better get right to bed and let one of those red pills help you to forget everything for a while."

"That won't help much in the long run."

"It won't hurt. I know, you really need the masculine comfort and the strength that only a father can give at times like this." He sighed. "Well, I hadn't visualized myself being a father to you, and I'm not old enough but - will I do?"

"You'll more than do, Len. I-I didn't realize until now just how much I-I've needed somebody to lean on...."

"Like now? Why don't you have a good cry? It'll help."

Though his offer to cry on his shoulder was tempting, I didn't take advantage of it. As he had said, his masculine comfort and strength, as well as his practical acceptance of the situation gave me all the help I needed. He waited a moment longer, then he pointed at the door of my quarters and ordered me to get some rest. Rest? Even with the help of a little red pill, how could I rest when my heart was absolutely aching with longing for something that was just as far beyond my reach now as were my home and my family back in 1969?

STARDATE: 5881.13

THE RETURN FLIGHT TO VULCAN HAS BEEN NOTHING LIKE OUR INITIAL JOURNEY TO MAURETANIA. EVERYONE IS ASSIGNED EXTRA WORK WHEN A NEW SOURCE OF DILITHIUM HAS BEEN LOCATED AND HAS BEEN BROUGHT UNDER THE FEDERATION'S SUPERVISION....

This time, I am a contributing member of the ship's society, not an un-anticipated, bewildered passenger. However, my regularly assigned tasks give me very little opportunity to converse with the wise and gentle Vulcan who has always been such a source of strength to me.

Sometimes, I have felt annoyed because I have not been able to see Sarek very often. Though self-discipline is a necessary element of starship life, my burning desire to be near Sarek, to watch his face and to hear his beautiful voice makes things very difficult for me. I constantly remind myself of the stern facts, but my heart simply refuses to listen. Sarek fills the horizons of my life, so much that I have to keep reminding myself to guard my words and my thoughts very carefully whenever he is near.

I must have carried out my self-appointed disciplines too well. Eventually, Mr. Spock stopped me when I passed him in a corridor. We were near his quarters, so he asked me to step inside with him for a few moments, because he wanted to discuss something with me.

Since very few people were allowed to enter Spock's quarters -- and the greater majority of them needed an express invitation -- we would be able to talk without fear of interruption. Mr. Spock indicated that I should sit down on one of the low chairs, then he folded his arms and stood looking down at me. I was so busy examining the statues, ancient weapons on the walls, and the beautiful black-and-gold cloth draped across his bed that I didn't realize that I was in for a Vulcan scolding until I turned my head suddenly and met his intent gaze. His eyes glittered with a stern light, even in the dim red illumination, prompting me to mentally review the day's events to see what particularly disastrous error I might have made.

"Yeoman Mitchell," he said finally, and his voice was very cold. "Will you please explain your conduct?"

"I-I'm sorry, Mr. Spock. I haven't the slightest idea what you're talking about."

"You have been very obvious about deliberately avoiding Sarek ever since we left Mauretania."

"W-what? Why, I haven't...." No, he was right. Impossible as it sounds, it isn't hard to avoid meeting anyone aboard a starship. Here, I'd been complaining to myself because I hadn't been able to see much of Sarek; yet, all the time, I'd been making sure that I wouldn't see him.

I smiled in wry acknowledgment of my folly. Talk about one's right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing!

"Yeoman, I fail to perceive anything amusing in this situation."

"Mr. Spock, this will be hard for you to believe, but I wasn't avoiding Sarek because I intended to be rude. In my own muddled way, I think I was trying to avoid creating difficulties; instead, I only made things worse. The irony of the situation is what made me smile."

"Ambiguous behavior always creates reactions opposite to those that were anticipated. Please tell me, what 'difficulties' were you seeking to avoid?"

"They are of concern only to me."

He studied me for a long moment then, instead of giving me a well-deserved reprimand, he lowered his cold, unemotional faade.

"Are they -- Lorna?" His tone revealed his knowledge of my inner confusion.

I bent my head to conceal the tears, which were rising in my eyes.

"Very well, we will abandon that line of questioning for another. Three people today have asked me why I have increased your study load to the extent that you no longer have any free time. I could give them no answer, for I have taken great care to allow you adequate free time. Why have you stopped visiting the Recreation Rooms?"

"You're still assigning material at the level I was achieving while we were orbiting Mauretania. I've experienced a four percent loss in both my learning ability and in my empathic abilities. It's not enough to do any real harm, but I have to work like the very devil just to stay even."

Spock remained silent. Evidently he was calculating my estimate.

"A loss of 3.179 percent, to be exact. This loss was to be expected once we left the immediate proximity of the Galactic Barrier. I beg forgiveness. I was not aware that you had begun to experience such severe difficulties. You should have told me."

"I'm sorry, sir. I guess I was letting my pride get the upper hand. Also, I was afraid that the loss would increase."

"It will not. A 96.821 percent level of efficiency is not low, by any means - especially not for a human, Yeoman."

"No, sir, it isn't." I appreciated his off-handed way of assuring me that my fears were groundless. "It was very foolish of me to remain silent. However, you always have so much on your mind.... I didn't want to bother you with unimportant details."

"'Unimportant'? Yeoman, I simply do not understand you. Your silence might have endangered the Enterprise."

"Oh, come now, Mr. Spock. How could my personal problems have any effect on the ship?"

"In time, you would have become totally fatigued, and you would have become careless. Consider what would happen if you advanced to the point that you were working in Engineering and misread a dial."

"My God. You're right." I'm sure that I became quite pale. "Thank Heaven that you found out in time."

"Perhaps this is an opportunity to remind you that you should reveal - other matters as well."

"No, Mr. Spock. I've no intention of letting the Ambassador know how I feel about him."

"You are constantly haunted by the fear that Sarek will accidentally discover the truth. Tell him and resolve the matter."

I shook my head.

"Most illogical."

I held out my hands in a gesture of appeal.

"Mr. Spock, you cannot expect me to give you a logical explanation for something which is based upon emotion."

"It would certainly simplify matters if you could."

I looked at him for a long moment.

"Perhaps I can give you an answer after all, but I can't do it unless I use emotional terms. Will that be all right?"

He hesitated for only a moment before nodding.

"Sir, I have to make it very clear to you that the information I'm about to impart was forced into my mind, because I didn't know how to block such things out while I was helping Sarek on Aries XI."

"I understand that, Yeoman. Please continue."

"Sarek was experiencing agonizing pain; we all know that. However, the rest of you did not know just how great that pain was. You see, until I succeeded in joining my mental forces with his to help him fight that pain and to resist the worst effects of his injuries.... Well, Mr. Spock, until then, Sarek wanted to die and be reunited with Amanda."

"And is it this knowledge which has made you so -- uncooperative?"

"'Stubborn' would be a more accurate description." I was relieved that he was finally beginning to fully understand, my point of view.

"I agree. Yet, you may have misinterpreted the data. It is possible that Sarek might have experienced minor brain damage; otherwise, he would not have forgotten his mission."

"Maybe that's why I had to help him maintain that healing trance?"

"Possibly. Lorna, I have misunderstood you, completely. I was confident that you were remaining silent because you felt a neurotic need to suffer in the name of 'love'."

"Oh, Mr. Spock! I never thought that."

"No. It is evident that you are placing Sarek's welfare ahead of your own."

"As-as much as I can."

He shook his head. "I still cannot accept your conclusions. They are based upon emotion and cannot possibly be entirely sound. The past no longer has any bearing upon the current situation. Sarek favors you with more attention than I have ever seen him bestow upon any woman -- except my mother."

"But that is so only because I came from another era, Mr. Spock." I rose swiftly. "He has no interest in me as a woman. Why I - I have about as much of a chance of winning him as I would have of - of seeing you laugh or burst into tears."

I regretted my hasty words, but it was too late to call them back. If only I could vanish into thin air; I had certainly broken every rule of Vulcan courtesy by saying such a childish thing. Since I couldn't vanish, I chose the second best alternative -- I half-turned and headed for the door.

"Lorna." Mr. Spock's voice was very calm, but an underlying note of command in it forced me to turn.

After looking deeply into my eyes for a moment, the First Officer went on:

"Records will testify that I have done both, but.... Will you have faith in yourself only if I turn aside once more from all that makes me a Vulcan?"

"I-I'm sorry, Mr. Spock. Of late, it seems that I'm always telling someone that, but I sincerely regret what I just said to you."

"Then, why did you make such a statement?"

"I think I was trying to use the most unlikely event in comparison."

"You, of all individuals aboard this ship, should know that Vulcans are capable of feeling emotions -- even if they do not display them in a Terran manner."

"Granted. Oh, Spock, I -- almost wish that Vulcans were unable to feel emotions; it would make things much easier for me."

"In what way?"

"It would be a lot better for my ego to be able to tell myself that Sarek is incapable of feeling emotion rather than to have to keep reminding myself that I don't have what it takes to catch him."

Spock's uplifted eyebrow told me that I had reverted to my habit of using 1969 figures of speech. However, he didn't ask for an interpretation. Instead, he reached out to put his hand under my chin and lifted my head so he could study my features.

After a moment, he released me and stepped back.

"You constantly underestimate yourself, Lorna. You possess qualities necessary to 'catch' any man that you would wish -- including Sarek."

I merely sighed and shook my head.

"You cannot - or will not -- believe me?"

"Either verb will apply. I'm confident that Sarek could never.... Besides, Mr. Spock, we are nearly the same age -- could you accept me as a stepmother?"

"Very easily," he replied without the slightest hesitation.

"But, how? I am nothing like your mother.... Forgive me for repeating myself, but you know I am speaking only the truth."

"There is no physical resemblance, that is true."

"Which is what I've been saying all along.... How I wish I could have known your mother, Spock. Everyone aboard the ship who met her says nothing but good things about her. The memories I touched when we were engaged in that triple mind-meld revealed that she was a warm and wonderful person. She had to be for Sarek to love her."

"Yes, she was - exceptional."

"And you want me to believe that I could attract Sarek? Spock, can't you see how impossible that is?"

"You reveal a natural interest in Amanda," Spock turned aside my last question, preventing a repetition of the same argument, "for all you know of her is what has been relayed to you through others' memories. Would you like to see some pictures of her and study my recordings of some family events?"

"Spock, those are deeply personal things. How can you bring yourself to even offer to let me see and hear them?"

"Under the circumstances, it is your right. However, if you wish to refuse...."

"It would please me very much to learn more about your mother.

"Sit here."

I sat down before his viewer while he slipped a tape deck into the proper slot. He sat down on the side of his bed close at hand to answer any questions I might have, but not close enough to make me feel that he was studying my reactions -- though I was confident that he was.

But I had no questions, not at first. Instead, I set the tape and the pictures to the slowest legible pace and studied them carefully.

"Spock," I said finally. "Your mother was a very beautiful woman --spiritually and physically. You must have loved her very much."

No answer. I looked up, afraid that I might have presumed too far.

Spock had fallen asleep. He was still sitting upright, but his open eyes were sightless in slumber.

Of course, Spock had been quite occupied with his task of refining those new dilithium crystals, and had probably been working night and day. Evidently his fatigue had finally caught up with him -- or, was it that when my silence indicated that I was having no difficulty with the tapes, he felt enough at ease in my presence to take advantage of the chance to rest and recharge his energy reserves?

I felt tender concern as I looked at him, much as that which I had felt for him and for the other two while they had been guests in my home back in 1969. Back then, I had been convinced that no man would ever consider me desirable. When I had met the Senior Officers of the Enterprise, therefore, though I'd thought them attractive, I had looked so much older than any of them that I had fallen into the habit of treating them as if they really had been my sons.

Indeed, even though we were chronologically nearly the same age, I'd also have had no difficulty in accepting Spock as a stepson. After all, although he is the age of a mature Terran man, he is actually a Vulcan adolescent. Somehow, my empathy had sensed this from the very first, and this had always prompted me to treat him in a maternal fashion -- whenever I dared.

Spock was probably quite comfortable in that position, else he would not be asleep. However, it made me feel uneasy to see him sleeping sitting up. At last, I rose and silently moved toward him, going around the foot of the bed to come up behind him.

"Spock," I touched his shoulder lightly. "Lie down and rest."

He relaxed in immediate obedience to my words, falling back as I guided his head to rest against the flat pillow. I lifted his feet up onto the bed then hesitated -- wondering if I should throw the coverlet over him or else just leave quietly.

Spock sighed as he turned his head, his eyes moving rapidly as though he were dreaming.

"Mother?" he murmured, the word barely audible. Startled, I moved back. Even in his sleep, his keen ears caught the sound and, though his eyes remained sightless, he reached out to grasp my hand.

"I-It's all right, Spock." I didn't want to awaken him for fear that he would not like it if he realized that he had mistaken me for Amanda. Answering him as she might have done could soothe him into a deeper sleep, then I would leave the room.

Still clasping my hand, he turned and laid his head against it, his temple resting directly upon the back of my hand, his eyes still moving in what must surely be a dream.

I'd activated a screen against any mental contact the moment he'd touched me, but it was too late. Asleep, his mental force was strong enough that when he touched me he -- pulled me into his dream so swiftly that I couldn't break away.

But it was not a dream, it was a nightmare -- a combination of a son's grief over the untimely loss of his mother, and of his regret that he had never told her that he loved her.

My heart ached in sympathy with his sorrow, for his pain was much like that which I'd felt when I'd first known that I'd never see my family again.

Of course, earlier, my empathic healing had helped to ease the burden of his sorrow and regret. However, the effects of that healing couldn't last -- probably because his conviction of my "suitability" for his father kept his memories of Amanda foremost in his mind.

Impelled by deep sympathy, I tried to turn the hand that was under his temple so I could lay my palm there instead and try to absorb his grief and regret once more.

The subject of his dream had changed slightly. Now, he was remembering the day that Captain Kirk had called him to his quarters to hear that fateful message from Sarek...his deep regret that he had not been close enough to Vulcan that he could have gone there while Amanda had still been alive and could have pitted all his scientific skill against the virus. Yet, the Healers had not been able to save her; if they couldn't, no one else could have done so. He had accepted his sorrow and had learned to live with it. Then, one day, he accompanied the Captain and Doctor McCoy on a journey through the "Guardian of Forever" to conduct a mission on Earth in 1969.

That memory turned my own thoughts back to those moments when the Senior Officers of the USS Enterprise had entered my life....

Since my family had been out of town and since there were no classes during the holidays, I had agreed to work a double shift at the telephone office on Christmas Day, so one of the married workers who had no time coming could get off anyway, but she'd pay me. And my supervisor hadn't found out until the rest break on my second shift. Of course, she'd raised the roof, for such switching was against the company policy. She'd called one of the standby operators to come in, then she'd ordered me to go home.

It'd been close to eight-thirty at that time and quite dark; I should have had more sense than to walk out into the dark parking lot instead of waiting for the night watchman to come by on his rounds, but I'd been too tired to think straight. Of course, the inevitable had happened. I had been only a few feet from my little car when a dark form had darted out from behind a parked car and had grabbed at my purse. My Christmas cash bonus had been inside; instead of just letting go, I'd hung on and had struck wildly at the hand grabbing it. The next thing I'd known, strong hands had grasped my throat and had been choking the life out of me.

It had been then that a strange sound, like a chord being played on a huge organ, had started vibrating around us, then three men had literally materialized out of thin air, had seen what was going on, and had rushed to aid me.

I have never been able to remember exactly what had happened next, but the Captain had said something about the Prime Directive and Spock had said that it was too late because I had seen them beaming down. Also, since someone named "Gary 7" was involved in an assignment elsewhere, they would have to enlist the aid of a native of my era, and I was the logical choice.... Which had been the first of a long chain of odd events which had brought me to the Enterprise. Oddest of all had been finding a syndicated television program by the name of "Star Trek", for it had told about the adventures of men named Kirk, Spock, and McCoy aboard a starship named the USS Enterprise. Spock had explained it as some sort of temporal feedback...but that doesn't matter now.

Spock's nightmare was enabling me to see those events from his point-of-view. When he had first beamed down and had seen me struggling for my very life, the shadows had given my features a superficial resemblance to Amanda's. This had startled him enough that he had not hesitated to follow the Captain and Len when they had rushed forward to help me. In 1969, I had treated him like a son, and he had not been unaware of that maternal attitude. Evidently, the feeling had been accepted; I knew now that when the tarlud had attacked me, Spock had rushed to save me and had fought for me as a son would fight to save his cherished mother....

"Amanda, my mother..." he sighed, turning his head away from my hand, thus enabling me to pull my hand away and stop sharing his nightmare. "Never could I speak of my love for you.... I wanted to, but I could not -- and now it is too late...."

"Spock." I touched his forehead very lightly, to avoid any mental touch. Being drawn into his nightmare was one thing -- deliberately invading his mind, even to heal, was another. Perhaps my touch and my words would reach him: "Spock, you and Sarek taught me to let go of the past; surely the teacher cannot refuse to do less than he expects from his pupil. Besides, I'm sure that Amanda understood why you couldn't tell her -- I'm sure she knew that you loved her...."

It was only then that I realized that Spock was watching me intently.

"Oh!" I drew back swiftly. "How long have you been awake?"

"Just now, while you were still touching my forehead." He rose, seeming to tower over me in the red-tinged gloom, and I retreated until my back was against the wall.

"Spock, I - I wasn't trying to read your thoughts."

"I am aware of that, for I could sense your mental shield. Please, do not apologize for an offense that you did not commit. Indeed, the offense is mine for falling asleep."

"You were tired.... Oh!" I'd started to move away from the wall, to discover that my hair had gotten caught on one of the ancient weapons hanging there. I was free the next moment, but my hair was disarranged.

Spock moved to the side of the room and touched a button. A portion of the wall slid aside to reveal a mirror.

"Come. You will wish to rearrange your hair before you leave this room."

I hesitated, and Spock recognized my confusion.

"Please, do not let my presence deter you. Though a woman does not appear in public with unbound hair on Vulcan, such is permitted within the family -- especially between mother and son. And, in spite of everything, that is how we regard one another, is it not?"

"Y-yes, but I - I don't understand.... Among humans, it is considered important for a mother to maintain decorum before an adult son...most mothers would not arrange their hair in front of a son."

"But on Vulcan, it is an accepted practice. I remember so well how I used to watch my mother arrange her hair. Perhaps, if you will allow me to watch you now, you may find it easier to believe that I do sincerely view you with the same respect that I gave my mother."

What else could I do but comply with his request? Strangely enough, after the first awkward moment, it seemed perfectly natural to stand there before the mirror arranging my hair while Spock watched. I found myself thinking that this was a lovely family custom, and I wished that there were some way it might be transferred to Terran families.

At last, I turned away from the mirror, intending to return to my duties at once.

"According to custom, a mother and her son share a family embrace at these moments." Spock lifted his crossed hands with his palms facing out, and I responded as I had on Mauretania.

For one moment, I felt a deep sensation of belonging --- as though Sarek and I had been married and Spock had become my son legally as well as in spirit. While that magical moment lasted, we were suspended between heartbeats in the warmth of the family embrace. Suddenly Spock's eyes darkened with sincere regret. He shook his head, then he assumed his usual stance with his hands behind him. I sighed softly, and the magic of the communion between a mother and her son vanished into the darkness of the might-have-been.

"At last, we have been perfectly honest with each other," he said finally, "and your doubts that I could accept you as a stepmother are resolved?"

"Y-yes...for all the good it does."

"It is unreasonable to continue discussing that subject -- at this time. Now, we have established the fact that you have been working under too much pressure. I believe that you should go off-duty for the remainder of this day, as soon as I can make the necessary arrangements."

"Spock, I can't. Doctor McCoy needs my assistance in a special task."

"Then you will have to complete that task, of course. Once that is finished, I suggest that you go to your quarters and rest."

"Yes, sir," I deliberately reverted to the Yeoman/First Officer status.

"Tomorrow, your lessons will be presented in a more reasonable form. Until then -- rest well."

And so, after giving the proper response, I stepped out into the empty corridor and continued on to Sickbay to begin my special assignment for Len.

Interesting. In 1969, I had felt that none of the Senior Officers had ever looked upon me as a woman. Now, however, each one of them -- in his own way -- had found me attractive. Yet, of the three, I'd found Spock's recognition of me the most meaningful of all. I have earned the son's approval -- would it, therefore, be totally impossible for me to earn the father's approval, or even more, as well?

There I go again. Spinning dreams of something that I know cannot possibly happen....

STARDATE: 5881.16

CHRISTINE AND I ARE HARVESTING THE MEDICAL HERBS GROWING IN THE VULCAN SECTION OF THE HERBARIUM. LEN HAD INTENDED TO DO MOST OF THIS WORK HIMSELF, BUT A CREWMAN HAD BRUSHED AGAINST THE WRONG CONNECTION IN A JEFFRIES TUBE EARLIER TODAY AND NEEDED HIM....

I enjoy this work, for this section has always held a subtle fascination for me. Christine has been troubled by the heat and by the increased gravity. Except for a sensation of sleepiness, however, I've felt no discomfort. In fact, the warmth has been welcome, for I've shivered off and on since that emotionally challenging encounter with Mr. Spock earlier.

Christine called my attention to a bush which she called a "Target Plant". She didn't know the Vulcan name, and the name-tag had vanished, but it didn't take me very long to find out why the plant had been given that name. Like the Venus Fly-Trap of Earth, this plant was carnivorous, even though it had been trained to live on synthetic protein. In its natural state, the plant captures its prey by shooting out jets of pure water with enough force to stun even large birds. I didn't realize I was asking for trouble when I stood close to the "Target Plant" while I was picking bright mauve berries from a vine.

"Duck, Lorna!" Christine yelled, then I was hit in the back of the head by a deluge of water. I yelped and whirled to confront my assailant, only to see the fleshy leaves of the "Target Plant" close upon empty air.

"I'm sorry, Lorna." Christine apologized, trying to stifle her laughter when she had confirmed that I hadn't been hurt. "I should've warned you.... It thought you were a Zo-rat."

"Poor thing. All that work for nothing."

"How wet did it get you? Do you want to go back and change clothes?"

"No, my hair got the worst of it." I looked into a small reflecting pool in the center of the Vulcan section as I unfastened the clips which held my hair in the simple style which I favored during working hours. Twice within the space of a few hours -- my hair was really getting a lot of attention today. "It's so hot in here that my hair will probably be dry by the time we have finished gathering everything that the doctor wanted."

Then, I wondered if that would be so wise. It would certainly be my luck for Sarek to come in here while my hair was still wet and unbound.

"Er, Christine. Does the Ambassador spend much time in here?"

"Yes, but not as much as Spock does. I guess that's because the Ambassador is going home, but Spock rarely can. Why did you ask?"

"No reason, particularly. I just thought the Ambassador might consider it strange to see a Yeoman running around with her hair improperly arranged during working hours."

I had thought the simulated Vulcan heat would dry my hair. However, it's very thick, so it was still damp by the time that we finished our work and paused beside a plant covered with several half-furled, fist-sized buds.

"What is this pretty thing called, Christine?"

"Terrans call it a 'Glow Bell.' Personally, I've always felt that 'Bells of Paradise' would be a better name. We've been fortunate; this particular plant usually doesn't survive in an artificial environment."

"Is this the plant I've read about -- the one that chimes when it first blooms? Have you ever heard it?"

"Twice. It's an unforgettable experience. This one looks as if it might bloom within the next hour. I wish you had time to come back and hear it."

"I'll have all the time in the world after we've finished with these bins," I said dryly. "Mr. Spock caught me making one mistake too many a little while ago, and I'm off-duty after we get done...."

"Then -- there's no reason for you to leave and miss all the fun," she insisted after looking at me intently. "There's just a small amount in each bin; I can wheel them back to the lab without any trouble."

"Well, if you're sure it'll be all right.... Will you be coming back?"

"I'd better not. I'm going to have to be on my toes in Sickbay after Mr. Scott's wedding tomorrow -- there are sure to be some wild celebrations."

"Now, wait a minute. If the sound is dangerous...!"

"Oh, Lorna." There was a note of deep hurt in Christine's voice. "You know I wouldn't let you do anything that would hurt you."

"Well, then, why won't you come back, even if you do anticipate that you'll have a very busy day tomorrow?"

"Lorna, how would you feel about going back to the same old routine after you'd been listening to the music of Heaven?"

"You mean, the sound is that beautiful?"

"Beyond belief. Look, nobody posted word that the plant is about to bloom, and I'm going to keep quiet, too. I think you'd enjoy it more if you could hear it without a crowd of people around. That's everything now, so I'd better get back to Sickbay. See you at Scotty's wedding, if not earlier."

After Christine left, I sat down on the soft sand near the small pool then leaned against one of the simulated rocks. After that encounter with the "Target Plant," I didn't trust any of the other trees or bushes. The warmth and the pull of the stronger gravity began to affect me, and my eyelids began to droop.

The shimmering outlines of the "Glow Bell" faded while I allowed my thoughts to wander through the realms of fantasy. I wove dreams of what it would be like if the one whom I love came -- not to speak of love, for this was neither the time nor the place for such things--but merely to share the unique beauty of this experience with me.

I was so immersed in my waking-dreams that I was not startled when I heard a footstep. Then Ambassador Sarek's face was mirrored on the surface of the pool as he stopped beside me. After a moment, I looked up at him, to find that he was looking down at me with dispassionate inquiry in his face -- but with concern gleaming in his dark eyes.

For once, I did not have to worry about shielding my thoughts from his, for I was concentrating upon the "Glow Bell."

"Are you -- ill?" he inquired courteously.

"Oh, no." I protested. "I was just being lazy, I guess. Lately, every time I sit still for more than a couple of minutes, I seem to fall asleep."

He stepped back as I rose, then he stood at ease with his hands behind his back.

"You have been working quite hard," he said almost conversationally. "Also, you have been allowing yourself very little rest or recreation. Perhaps your system craves sleep."

I listened to him with only half my attention, for I was tying to look beyond him, afraid that the "Glow Bell" might have already bloomed while I was daydreaming.

"No, the Talamane (*) has not bloomed," he startled me once more with his unexpected perception. "You are waiting to listen to it?"

* (T - l - m - n')

I sighed. A Terran probably had no business being near the -- Talamane -- when a Vulcan, especially one of such high rank, was present. I tried hard to conceal my disappointment as I turned to leave.

"STAY."

That word halted me as effectively as any barrier. I turned to look at him questioningly.

"I have heard the Talamane; you have not."

"Wait -- please," I said impulsively when he turned toward the door. "Is it necessary for either of us to leave? Couldn't - couldn't we listen to the Talamane -- together?"

He turned back quickly and looked at me so intently that I wondered if I had unwittingly committed a breach of Vulcan etiquette. After a moment, however, he lifted one eyebrow and then inclined his head in assent.

"That is what I would prefer. Since it pleases you, I shall remain."

"Thank you."

"Sit here and be comfortable while we wait." He indicated the stone against which I had been leaning.

How swiftly my fantasy had become reality. But I couldn't leave well enough alone.

"Ambassador. There is something that I would like to say to you, but I - I am somewhat at a loss as to how to begin."

"What is it, Yeoman?" His tone was so calm and so matter-of-fact that it gave me the courage I needed to go on.

"I find that I have been most discourteous toward you." I couldn't look up at him.

"You are, of course, referring to your recent efforts to make sure that your pathway does not cross mine."

I must have been very rude indeed, if Sarek found it necessary to make such a comment.

"I assure you that I was not doing it on purpose."

"Indeed?" His dark eyes continued to study me gravely. "At times, your conduct has implied that you were angry with me."

"Why should I be angry with you?"

"Why, indeed? However, humans seldom enjoy hearing the truth about themselves, and I did speak quite frankly to you on Mauretania."

"You said only what needed to be said." I protested. "I was -- and am -- grateful that you made me face the truth."

"Then, perhaps you will explain why you have been behaving so unreasonably."

"Ambassador, I am Terran. Surely that is reason enough."

"No, it is not," he replied, most startlingly. "But I shall accept it."

"And - and, you won't be annoyed with me any longer? Oh, I'm so glad."

"Yeoman, Vulcans do not become 'annoyed'," he reminded me tutorially.

"They - they don't? Well, no matter. I - I feel better now that I've apologized. I don't like to be rude to -- friends -- and, whether you approve or not, I have come to consider you a very special friend...."

I paused, aware that I was chattering and that I was close to revealing more of my feelings than was wise.

"You honor me," he said quietly.

I was so startled that I didn't choose my words as carefully as usual.

"Really, Ambassador? I thought you would tell me that friendship is 'illogical'."

"You still have much to learn about the Vulcan way of life, Yeoman. No intelligent being can endure total solitude for more than a short time. Your own Bible states that God decreed that it was not good for Man to live alone. I assure you that the decree is equally true for Vulcans."

"You've quoted that slightly out of context, Ambassador...."

"Have I, indeed? I always endeavor to be most precise about such things, especially on an occasion such as this."

Well, no matter what he said, I knew he hadn't meant that the way we Terrans usually interpreted that passage.

"Oh, I see what you mean." I said brightly. "Every intelligent being needs intellectual stimulation from Outside, else he stagnates...."

I had leaned forward slightly as I spoke, and a lock of my hair suddenly fell across my face.

"Oh, I'm sorry," I exclaimed. "I'd forgotten...."

I pushed my hair back off my face then reached up and back to wrap it into a braid, but Sarek first shook his head then lifted his hand in a swift gesture of negation.

"Let it be," he demanded.

"But.... Ambassador, I have learned that, on Vulcan, it is not proper for a woman to appear in public with unbound hair."

"It is even more improper for an unmarried female to arrange her hair in the presence of an unmarried male -- who is not of her family."

How could I answer this without either causing him to suffer inner hurt or else by putting myself in an even more awkward situation? Instead of giving him a direct answer, I folded my hands in my lap in a mocking gesture of meekness and took refuge in flippancy.

"Well, it seems that I'll put my foot in it, no matter what I do."

"'Put your foot in it'?" He was obviously puzzled. "Why should you wish to place your foot in your hair?"

It was impossible to stifle my shout of delighted laughter.

"So, your words do not require a literal interpretation." His tone was almost free off inflection. Someone else might have thought he was totally disinterested, but I suspected that he was more intrigued than repelled by my amusement.

"I'm sorry, sir." My voice was still touched with laughter. "I know I shouldn't have laughed, but the image your question conjured in my mind was just too much for me. I - I keep forgetting that phrases which were second nature to me might be quite unfamiliar to you. In - in 1969, Ambassador, to 'put one's foot in it' meant that one had committed a grave social error."

He nodded. "Yeoman, your unique turn of speech is one of your most --interesting characteristics."

Again, I did not know how to answer, but this time I kept my mouth shut.

"We are not on Vulcan, Yeoman," he continued after a moment. "Thus, my world's social rules obviously can have no real bearing upon this situation. Besides, this is not the first time that I have seen you with your hair unbound. No, nor is it the second."

"As you wish, sir." I yielded the dispute to him. "After all, my hair isn't quite dry, so...."

"In this climate?" He lifted one eyebrow as if he doubted my word. Then, he actually reached down to touch my hair where it lay coiled against the nape of my neck. "You are right; it is still slightly damp. You must have encountered the Desiw."

"If that's the Vulcan name for what we call a 'Target Plant,' I'm afraid I did."

Sarek indicated a streak of snow-white hair which gleamed above my right temple.

"That white streak was not visible in your hair before you beamed down to Mauretania."

"No." I was content to let it go at that. I did not like to remember those frightening moments with the tarlud.

It was at that moment that a sound trembled in the silence, like the sound of fine crystal that has been struck, but clearer, and much sweeter.

Sarek turned to look at the Talamane, then he turned back and lifted one finger to his lips to warn me to be silent -- as if I needed any such warning.

The crystal chime had been made by a very small bud that had unfurled its petals at the very top of the plant. Its petals were pure white, and its center gleamed like gold, reflecting the light brilliantly. Its stamen was vibrating, and it was this vibration, which created the chiming sound.

Another bud opened; then another; and still another -- all slightly different in pitch, and all combining into one melodious chord. Once started, the plant bloomed rapidly. Now, the larger buds on the lower levels of the plant began to open, still the same color, but with deeper tones -- changing into baritone and then into bass as the largest buds at the bottom, of the plant began to open. At last, every bud on the plant was open and was chiming to create one great, swelling chord; a pure-toned sound of such great beauty that it truly seemed better fitted for Paradise than for a starship.

It was an intensely moving experience -- almost a religious experience -- and the unbelievable beauty of the chord and of the vibrant light made me tremble with awe at this revelation of the Power of the Almighty Father Who had created this wonder -- this miracle as a part of the plant world. Such beauty was too much for a mere human to bear. I lifted my hands to my ears and bent my head, shutting my eyes against the glory that shone around us. Immediately, Sarek knelt beside me, his hand touching my shoulder lightly, sustaining and supporting me with the knowledge that I was not alone during this awesome moment -- much as he had done during that long vigil on Mauretania. Vulcan though he was, I knew that he had also been deeply moved by the music of the Talamane, for his hand was trembling slightly.

Eventually, the awesome chord began to diminish; I took my hands away from my ears and opened my eyes so I could watch as the glow of the plant began to ebb. It was then that I became aware of the fact that Sarek was bending very close to me, so very close, in fact, that I could feel his warm breath. He was bending closer.... Closer....

But, I'll never know if he was going to kiss me, for the vibrations ceased at that moment, and there was nothing left except a lovely, lingering echo, and a trace of radiance dimming much as fog dims a mirror.

Sarek's hand fell away from my shoulder and he moved away as I took a long, unsteady breath. After a moment, I rose and turned blindly toward the outer door.

"Wait until you are able to see," he chided me softly.

I looked up at him and nodded, but my eyes were so full of tears that he was just a faceless blur. I groped in my sleeve for a handkerchief and wiped away my tears. However, I did not apologize for weeping -- to have done so, would have negated the experience entirely.

"Wait," he said again when I made a second attempt to leave. "There is one part of this ceremony which we must complete before we can leave."

I remembered what I'd thought might have almost happened a few moments ago. Would a kiss be...? No, of course not. It wouldn't be fitting. Even I could understand that. Besides, I wanted only to go to my quarters and cry or something, anything to "get down" from the heights of this experience -- in his fashion, he probably did, too.

"Come, let us look into this pool." He moved to stand near the pool, leaving plenty of room for me to stand beside him. After a moment, I did join him and looked down at our two reflections, mirrored in perfect detail; somehow, that reflection seemed to become something close and personal, reaffirming each other's existence.

Sarek had been holding a pebble that he had picked up when we were rising to our feet. Suddenly he dropped that pebble into the pool, shattering the reflection.

This symbolic gesture of mortality enabled me to accept the fact that I must return to the everyday world, and I stepped back from the pool.

Instead of speaking, Sarek touched my elbow with gentle fingers and impelled me toward the outer door -- dropping his hand as soon as he had confirmed that I was no longer blinded by tears. As always, the doors slid open smoothly before us, returning us to the busy, almost subliminal hum-click-hum of the Enterprise.

"Lorna!" called a familiar voice just as I turned to say farewell to the Ambassador.

Len, Jim, and Spock were coming down the corridor.

"Well, Lorna," Len exclaimed, "you look as though you've been crying. Something tells me that we missed hearing the 'Glow Bell' again."

"Yes, and it's a great pity that you did." My voice was husky. "Music like that must have been composed by angels."

Jim smiled at me. "That's the way I felt the first time I heard the 'Glow Bell.' There's nothing else quite like it in the rest of the known universe."

Ambassador Sarek had greeted the three men as courtesy had demanded, but he had been making no further contribution to the conversation. Now, Len turned to him.

"Ambassador, how is it possible for Vulcans to hear the music of the 'Glow Bell' and remain unmoved by it?"

"No intelligent being can ignore the power of the Talamane, Doctor. I have heard it many times, but each experience is as the first. This time was no exception."

Yes, it must have moved him, otherwise, he would have stated exactly how many times he had listened to that chime.

Spock's eyes were unusually bright, and he seemed fascinated by the fact that my hair was unbound. "Did you and Yeoman Mitchell listen to the Talamane -- together?" he asked.

His emphasis upon that final word prompted me to wonder anew if I had violated some Vulcan custom by remaining with the Ambassador.

"Yes," Sarek answered calmly. "I believe you hoped we would do so."

"Most assuredly." Spock was equally calm.

"I'd better get back to the Bridge." Kirk said sharply. "Good evening, Yeoman. Ambassador. Bones, are you and Spock coming with me?"

"I shall join you in a few moments, if I may, Captain. I wish to speak with Sarek."

So we each went our separate ways: Spock and his father to discuss whatever it was that needed their attention; Captain Kirk and Doctor McCoy to supervise the running of the Enterprise; and I to my quarters -- to relive again those beautiful moments when I had heard the music of Heaven.

STARDATE: 5885.10

THIS IS SCOTTY'S WEDDING DAY. HE IS SO MUCH THE TRADITIONAL NERVOUS BRIDEGROOM THAT CAPTAIN KIRK HAS FORBIDDEN HIM TO EVEN THINK OF COMING NEAR ENGINEERING. . . . .

Scotty will be singularly honored today. It isn't every Head of Engineering who will number one of the greatest diplomats in the known galaxy as one of his wedding guests. It's very gracious of Sarek to accept Scotty's invitation, for we will reach Vulcan sometime around our midnight, and the Ambassador really should be preparing to disembark.

Christine was checking the files when I dropped in at Sickbay. "Hi, Christine. Where's the Doctor?"

"In the Captain's quarters. I think they're plotting some tricks to play on Scotty and Mira."

"No kidding! You mean they still do things like that? People from Earth haven't changed as much as I thought."

"Not in some things, anyway," Christine smiled impishly. "It's a good thing we don't have a full-sized lake; otherwise, the crew would throw Scotty into it. I'll wager that he'll be called out on several 'big emergencies', though."

"Nothing like a little harmless, fun, eh? I wonder if the Captain will remember the suggestion I passed on to him some time ago?"

"I've no way of knowing; but time will tell. Lorna, would you like to come along with me and the rest of the women later? Were going to inspect the newlyweds' quarters just before the wedding then seal the lock so no one will be able to frolic with itching powder, or tinker with sub-sonics, or other assorted jokes."

"You bet! That's one tour of duty I'll enjoy."

"I half-expected you to refuse. Most people are grumpy after they've been listening to the 'Glow Bell'...or, didn't you stay after all?"

"Yes, I stayed. However, the Ambassador came by to listen to the Talamane, too.... Christine, the Vulcans have a way to make the transition from the sublime to the routine relatively painless...."

STARDATE: 5885.15

SCOTTY MAY HAVE BEEN BEHAVING LIKE THE TRADITIONAL NERVOUS BRIDEGROOM EARLIER. NOW THAT THE MOMENT HAD COME, HE FACED HIS DESTINY WITH ALL THE COURAGE FOR WHICH HIS ANCESTORS WERE REKNOWNED.

Though Scotty and I have been good friends ever since those long hours on Aries XI, I've never paid much attention to the fact that he was physically attractive. When he strode into the Ship's Chapel clad in his traditional kilt and wearing all his medals, I was surprised to discover that he was actually quite magnetically handsome.

Captain Kirk, resplendent in full-dress uniform -- naturally -- stepped behind the lectern and opened the book that he was carrying. Len, who was to be best man, moved a bit closer to Scotty.

The door opened again, and we all stood to honor Mira as she entered on Mr. Sulu's arm. Someone, perhaps Mr. Sulu or Uhura, had gathered several exotic blossoms from the Herbarium's contents to make a bridal bouquet for her, and they glowed vividly against her full-dress uniform.

I located Sarek when I turned to look at Mira. He was across the aisle two rows of seats behind me. I don't think he saw me, but I was keenly aware of him as I turned to face the altar again. Vulcans traditionally consider weddings a necessary evil, but Sarek was wearing the uniform that he had been wearing during the reception. He was also wearing the Idic. Indeed, Scotty was being singularly honored.

Scotty smiled warmly at Mira, then he reached out to clasp her hand to bring her to his side, and they faced the Captain.

"One of the most delightful duties which a Captain may perform is that of joining a man and a woman in holy wedlock...." Captain Kirk said as he smiled down at the couple standing before him.

The ceremony is still as brief as ever, and it is still just as lovely. I think I might have stayed calm, however, if I hadn't seen Uhura reach up to brush the tears away from her eyes when Sulu stepped forward to give Mira's hand in marriage. Whether I was crying with joy at the thought of Mira's happiness, or in envy, however, I can't say.

At the proper moment, Len produced the rings without having to search too frantically for them, then he resumed his former stance and watched the rest of the ceremony.

"...with the power and the authority which the Federation has invested in me, I now pronounce you man and wife." Captain Kirk said finally.

Scotty and Mira turned to look at each other. Slowly, carefully, as though she were a fragile flower that might wilt in his grasp, Scotty reached out and enfolded Mira in his arms as he kissed her. There was a soft sound of laughter from those who saw Mr. Spock lift one eyebrow at this display of emotion, then everyone rose as Scotty and Mira turned to leave the Chapel.

"Ladies and gentlemen. May I please have your attention?" Jim exclaimed before the bridal couple could move away. "Scotty. Mira. It isn't every day that one of the Chief Officers gets married. Therefore, we are giving parties in your honor in all the Rec. Rooms. I'm sure these good people won't mind letting you leave ahead of them, but you'd better be prepared to circulate through all the rooms, and be prepared for a deluge of good wishes wherever you go."

This announcement, as well as the ceremony, had been broadcast over the entire ship. I found the corridors crowded with personnel who were just coming off-duty and were heading for the various Rec. Rooms.

When I finally managed to get into the main reception room, I saw that Jim and Len had been very busy, for they were the only ones with the authority to order the food synthesizers to prepare a wedding cake and all the traditional accessories. How kind of them to fulfill the suggestion that I had made after I had talked with Mira several days before.

Someone had spirited Scotty's Claymore off the wall of his new quarters, and this is what the newlyweds used to cut the cake. Christine and Uhura then cut the rest of the cake and served it to the guests -- reserving small portions to be put into tiny boxes to be given to all the single women present. So, the tradition of sleeping with a piece of wedding cake under one's pillow in hopes of seeing the face of one's future husband in a dream had survived, too.

So far, I hadn't been able to get near Scotty and Mira. I didn't feel like trying to sample the refreshments while I waited. Instead, I stood to one side and watched the people passing in front of me. I had seen neither Sarek nor Mr. Spock all this time; probably they'd retired to their respective quarters.

Someone paused beside me.

"Greetings, Yeoman." Mr. Spock said quietly. "You appear surprised to see me."

"G-greetings, Mr. Spock. Yes, I am. Don't Vulcans usually avoid gatherings such as this?"

"Whenever possible. However, Mr. Scott and I have served aboard the Enterprise for many years and have shared countless experiences. I would offend him if I did not come to wish him well. Logic dictates that it is better to endure this for a short time," he indicated the milling crowd, "than to endure Mr. Scott's unspoken rebukes interminably."

"Of course," I agreed, but I was secretly amused by his stubborn refusal to admit that he had come to express his good wishes to a fellow crewman.

Mr. Spock looked at my eyes so intently for a moment that I wondered if they were still red.

"This is no day for tears."

"Indeed, it is not," said a musical voice behind me. "I have never understood the tendency of the Terran female to weep whenever she witnesses a ceremony which renders a relationship between two consenting beings as something more permanent."

"Consider it just one more annoying, illogical trait that we Terran females possess, Ambassador." I didn't dare turn to look at him. "Please be patient with us; we cannot help being what our ancestors have made us."

"Nor can any of us," he replied gently, and I had the grace to be ashamed. "Spock, have you greeted Mr. Scott and his bride?"

"There have been too many people gathered around them."

"You have not been able to approach them either, Yeoman?"

"No, sir."

"Then perhaps it is time that I take advantage of one of the privileges granted to an Ambassador aboard a starship. Follow me -- both of you."

Sarek did have special privileges, for the crowd parted before him and allowed the three of us to make our way to the front of the room.

"Mr. Scott. Lieutenant." Sarek paused and lifted his hand in the Vulcan salute as he stopped before them. "Peace and long life to you both. May joy be yours in this -- the first day of your new life together. I bring you a gift -- one that is traditionally presented to every newly-established family upon our planet."

He held out his hand, palm uppermost, to reveal a small crystal-clear cube with a gloving blue center.

"Were we on Vulcan, I would give you a container of live coals that you would use to kindle the torch that would burn eternally in your home to guard and to symbolize the family that it illuminates." He laid the cube in Mira's hand. "But, in situations such as this, it is permitted to prepare and to give fire in this form -- eternally burning yet quite acceptable for the environment of a starship."

Mira admired the cube then gave it to Scotty for safekeeping. They both thanked the Ambassador for his gift. He bowed slightly then moved away.

Mr. Spock stepped forward to wish his friend all the best that Life has to offer. He appeared to be quite calm and collected, but I think he must have been concerned by the sight of the light of happiness that was gleaming in Mira's eyes. Spock was all too aware of how short-lived the honeymoon period could be. I think he may have been apprehensive lest these two soon should suffer disappointment when the "glow" faded. I must admit that I've been a little bit worried about them, too. After all, in my former era, I had seen countless marriages fall apart because they had been based upon nothing more than physical attraction. It would be even more of a tragedy if something like that happened in the relatively narrow confines of a starship.

I would have to ponder this matter later, for it was now my turn to greet the couple:

"Scotty. Mira. May joy even greater than that which you feel today be yours for the rest of your lives."

"Well, Lassie, we were beginnin' to wonder if you'd forgotten about our wedding."

"What a terrible thing to say, Scotty!"

"He can't be held accountable for anything he says, Lorna." Mira informed me smilingly. "Doctor McCoy told me that Scotty was so nervous that he had his kilt on wrong side out when he started to come to the Chapel."

I wonder whose eyebrow rose higher, Mr. Spock's or mine. They hadn't been married more than a couple of hours, and Mira was telling on Scotty already. If that's any example, she's not going to be a very good wife!

I glanced at Spock; sure enough, his jaw was rigid with unspoken disapproval. He glanced at me and moved his head very slightly in a gesture of doubt, which no one else could see or else could not interpret.

"Spock." I said very softly, knowing that he would have no difficulty picking up my words. "This situation justifies a little telepathic meddling.... If you don't want to know about it, I'd advise you to move away. I will do what I must do."

He surprised me by standing his ground -- revealing the depths of his concern.

I glanced around swiftly to see how near the crowd was pressing us. As I had hoped, everyone had drawn back a goodly distance when the Ambassador had been speaking to the couple, and they were still standing back to give Spock a chance to express his good wishes with relative peace and dignity. So long as he remained where he was, no one else would rush up to the newlyweds.

"The Ambassador isn't the only one who has brought a gift for you. However, mine cannot be held in the hand. I warn you, it involves a mental contact. If you prefer to wait until another time, or if you wish to refuse, I'll understand."

With one accord, they held out their hands.

Among other things, Mr. Spock has taught me many ways to direct and to channel my empathic telepathy. When conditions are right, I can even ferry mental impulses from one person to another without actually receiving those impulses myself. In fact, Scotty and Mira were experiencing such a highly charged emotional euphoria that it's a wonder they hadn't entered into a similar sort of communion already.

When our hands touched, I blanked my mind and began to channel Scotty's thoughts to Mira and Mira's thoughts to Scotty. I did allow their thoughts to touch mine briefly after a moment, and it was as I had feared -- neither commitment was as deep as it could be, mainly because they have been too cautious about discussing it. On the new level of communication, which I was creating for them, however, they were able to reaffirm their commitment on a level so deep that, no matter what adversities they might face in the future, their now deeply abiding love for one another would be a solid shield.

"Thank you, Lassie." Scotty whispered when I released their hands. "You have given us a rare gift. I - I didn't realize.... Now that I know how Mira really feels.... From now on, I'll be willin' to move mountains for her."

"Just promise to love her from now until Doomsday -- and beyond -- then keep that promise. That'll be enough." I looked at Spock and smiled as I raised one eyebrow in a poor imitation of his gesture. So much for all our doubts now.

Others were waiting their turn to greet the happy couple, so I took my leave of them and moved away. Christine stopped me before I had gone very far and gave me one of the boxes containing a small piece of the wedding cake.

"Don't forget to tuck this under your pillow so you'll dream of your future husband tonight, Lorna." She turned and hurried back to the table.

"A fascinating superstition." Sarek commented behind me. I gasped, startled -- no, frightened! -- for I would have sworn that he'd left. "Do you really believe that you will see the face of your future consort in your dreams if you place that box beneath your pillow?"

I couldn't halt the bitter reply, which rushed to my lips.

"No, Ambassador. I gave all that up when I decided to stay here, far beyond my culture."

It's a good thing that Mr. Sulu came up at that moment. He said that since he'd be going on duty in a few minutes, he wanted to say farewell to the Ambassador now. Also, he wished to thank Sarek again for instructing him in some of the finer points of the Vulcan style of non-violent fencing.

'Fencing'? Vulcans? I thought.

Sulu caught my puzzled look and knew what I was thinking. "Yeah, I was surprised, too, Lorna," he spoke in reply to my unspoken questions. "But the Vulcan techniques are like our kung fu -- defensive. Sort of a 'soul is the warrior' attitude."

"That's too deep for me right now. I think I'll let you two finish this discussion without my help.

The cake box had fallen from my hand when Sarek had startled me, and I didn't bother to pick it up as I left them.

No one else tried to engage me in conversation as I made my way toward the outer door, and I breathed a sigh of relief when I stepped out into the all-but-deserted corridor. Now where should I go? Though I was off-duty, I wasn't in any frame of mind to appreciate the casual atmosphere of any of the other Rec. Rooms. Nor was I eager to seek the solitude of my quarters. My horrible feeling of loneliness and despair would certainly have a field day with me there.

No, I could go one place and find a measure of Peace, even in solitude.

When I entered the Ship's Chapel, I hesitated only a moment, to confirm that no one else was there, then I moved forward and knelt before the altar. But I couldn't pray or even meditate, for my heart was filling with bitter envy of the happiness which Scotty and Mira had found. Not that I begrudged them one iota of their joy -- far from it. However, it hurt to know that I wouldn't experience a similar joy.

I felt sick anguish as I counted the few hours remaining before Sarek would leave the Enterprise. I moaned in wordless protest and closed my eyes, trying to shut this thought out of my mind. If only I could forget all that has happened from the first moment that I looked up into Sarek's dark eyes.

What does it matter that he's a Vulcan and thus is totally devoted to logic? No one else will ever take his place in my heart. How will I be able to keep silent when he steps onto the Transporter grid and is beamed out of my life, forever?

My heart does not want to accept the logic of the situation. Even now, I find that I'm hoping -- for what, I don't know. A miracle, perhaps? Yet, there can be no more miracles for me; I've already used up my quota. I shuddered as I counted again the little time remaining that I might indulge in the bitter joy of at least seeing Sarek and of listening to his gentle voice. How much more must be taken from me before the malign forces that seem to haunt me will be content?

I could almost wish that I had died from the effects of that blow on my head. At least, I wouldn't be suffering this agony now....

STARDATE: 5885.18

MUCH LATER, I LIFTED MY HEAD FROM THE ALTAR RAILING. MY ORDEAL OF SELF-PITY AND REBELLION IS FINISHED. I DON'T KNOW HOW I'LL BE ABLE TO ENDURE THE DIFFICULT HOURS AHEAD BUT -- ENDURE THEM, I SHALL!

I became aware that someone was standing behind me, and I became rigid with tension, hoping against all hope that it wasn't Sarek. I just couldn't face him yet.

Therefore, I remained motionless and kept my head bowed. Perhaps whoever the intruder was, he would understand that I didn't wish to be disturbed and would go away. No, I would have to rise and face whomever was standing behind me.

A strong hand touched my elbow, steadying me; I looked up reluctantly, to find that Mr. Spock was looking down at me with concern visible in his dark eyes.

I swayed weakly and would have fallen if he had not caught me. These were not the arms that I longed to feel around me, but they were strong and comforting at this moment. It felt good just to close my eyes and rest my head against his chest, secure in the unique brand of filial love that had been created between us.

After a moment, he put me from him gently, but he didn't scold me. Instead, he put one hand under my chin and made me look up at him while he studied my face carefully as he had done once before.

"So it has finally happened. I could wish that it had been Sarek who had been passing by in the corridor just now, and that he had been the one to 'hear' you. Lorna, you cannot go on like this. Your health will fail you entirely."

"No, it's not like that for humans, Mr. Spock. We manage to survive.... Thank you for your concern, but I'm all right now."

"And I say that you are not. Please, you must end this suffering. Sarek will soon be gone."

I drew back then and turned away.

"My duty is clear, Mr. Spock."

"Commendable but -- can you affirm that this is what you want to do?"

"No!" I whirled to confront him angrily. "No, I don't want to remain silent. My one wish in life is to have the right to be with Sarek -- to - to take care of him -- to - to love him. If - if I thought he could relegate his memories of Amanda to the past and be content with me.... I assure you that I'd rather live for one day as his wife than to exist for years as wife to another. There. Now I've said it, but please spare me any of your comments about my 'display of emotionalism'."

"There will be none," he assured me. "Though your words are emotional ones, they are honest. I still do not quite understand why you will not speak. Since you will not, I ask you to free me from the bond of my word to you."

"You can't seriously believe that I'd allow you to do something that I won't do myself?"

He sighed and shook his head. "Indeed, the mental processes of the human female are difficult to fathom. You are miserable because you stand upon the brink of uncertainty. A few words would resolve the matter...."

"...and would make my misery certain," I interrupted. His eyebrow lifted in definite annoyance. "Spock, your father wanted to die and join Amanda only a few days ago. How could I possibly tell him of the state of my emotions so soon after that?"

"Do you not have the courage to take a calculated risk?" he insisted. "Not when the odds are against me."

"But, they are not."

"Can you furnish conclusive proof of that?"

"Lorna, if you wish to be the wife of a Vulcan, you must learn that you should never ask such a question of a son."

"'If I wish to be...? Oh, stop bugging me with impossibilities."

"'Bugging'?" It was evident that he was unfamiliar with the term.

"It's an old-Earth term which, among other things, meant 'to annoy'," a quiet voice behind us answered.

I turned swiftly and was relieved to see Captain Kirk and Doctor McCoy standing just inside the doorway. For a moment, I'd been afraid that it might have been Sarek.

"C-Captain? Doctor?" I stammered as they approached us. "Is - is anything wrong?"

"Why is it that you ask me that every time I come upon you unexpectedly?" Jim said in near-anger. "Am I a messenger of doom or something? Lorna, are you all right? Both Bones and I have been feeling so uneasy about you that we had to come and see....

"Good grief. Mr. Spock, how could they...?"

"You engaged in an involuntary mind-touch with the Doctor the day we beamed down to Mauretania. Have you also had reason to --join minds with the Captain?"

"I - I.... Yes. Did those mind-touches enable them to sense my mental turmoil? Oh, no. If they felt it, and if you felt it, then-then Sarek...?"

"Most likely, Yeoman," he commented when my voice broke.

Now what? If Sarek had felt the deep distress, which I had been experiencing a short while ago, would he also be able to determine the reason for it?

"I don't think you need to worry, Lorna," Len assured me. "Ambassador Sarek has been detained on Level Six. Come along with us; that'll give you time to regain your composure. If you're calm when Sarek sees you again, I sincerely doubt that he'll ask you any questions.

"So, you are also aware of her emotional state?" Spock lifted that eyebrow. "Interesting. Doctor McCoy is right, Yeoman; you must not remain here."

"Spock, you and Bones go on to the Briefing Room on Level Three and take Lorna with you." Kirk ordered. "I'll stay here for a few minutes. If the Ambassador does show up here, I'll delay him, then I'll join you as soon as possible. Oh, Spock, while you're waiting, do you think you can teach Lorna to blank out those mental 'distress signals'?"

"Most assuredly, Captain."

We headed for the turbo lift without further discussion.

"Deck Three." Spock said crisply. "Minimum speed."

He turned to Len.

"Doctor, how many others know about Yeoman Mitchell's -- love for Sarek?"

"I don't know, Spock. If anyone else knows or suspects anything, they're keeping quiet about it."

"Which is as it should be. Nevertheless, the problem exists, and...."

"Spock. Lorna doesn't need a lecture upon the 'impractical nature of her human emotionalism' right now."

"...I would prefer that it be resolved by a marriage between Lorna and my father," Spock went on as though he hadn't been interrupted. "He has been alone quite long enough."

McCoy's jaw dropped.

"S-Spock. Do you - do you actually approve?"

The First Officer inclined his head slightly.

"Well! I never thought I'd live to see the day that you, of all people, would.... Spock, I'm not so sure that I agree. How is it possible for a human to be happy with a spouse who follows a completely different biological cycle?"

Spock stiffened for one moment then, realizing that McCoy was prompted by sincere concern for me, relaxed visibly.

"Your concern is commendable, Doctor, but please bear in mind that there is much about Vulcans that you do not know."

"What are you trying to say, Spock?"

"Merely this, Doctor: On Earth, a husband and a wife share many experiences in the privacy of their own home which are of no concern to outsiders.... I assure you that Terrans who have wed Vulcans have had no reason to complain. Indeed, if the problem is reduced to its most basic elements, don't you agree that Vulcans -- with their thorough knowledge of the human nervous system -- might have an advantage?"

"I can't deny it." Len agreed calmly, but his eyes gleamed impishly.

"Gentlemen." I protested. "If you intend to pursue this line of talk, then I'll have to insist that you let me out of here at once."

I was blushing hotly, but it wasn't because my maidenly sensibilities had been disturbed. After all, by now, I had come to accept the fact that several mores had changed since 1969. I also knew that neither Mr. Spock nor Len had meant, any offense when they had been making their matter-of-fact comments. What bothered me was the fact that their conversation had suddenly made me realize that there was a sensual side to my nature that I'd never known I possessed.

"We meant no offense, Yeoman," Spock replied.

"None was really taken, but I'd prefer that we drop the subject."

Fortunately, for the sake of my peace of mind at least, the turbo lift reached its destination at that moment. We went to the Briefing Room, where Mr. Spock gave me a swift lesson in the techniques of keeping my mind from radiating what Jim had called "distress signals."

When Captain Kirk entered the Briefing Room, he put his hands against the communications panel, leaning against it while he studied us.

"Spock," he said at last. "Maybe we'd better talk privately for a few minutes. Come with me into the adjoining room. Bones, under the circumstances, I think you'd better stay with Lorna."

"Certainly, Jim."

Len and I sat at the table in companionable silence for the time that it took Spock and Jim to reach the next room. Suddenly, I leaned forward in my seat, startled to hear Captain Kirk's voice coming over the communications panel.

"Spock, there are many questions that I need to ask, but I'd be boorish as Hell if I asked them in front of the Yeoman...."

"Len, we've got to let them know... Their conversation may be going over the entire ship."

"No," Len replied after a swift check. "It's set for broadcasting to this room only. Don't turn it off -- I want to listen."

"I didn't realize until tonight that all three of us are aware of the way that Lorna feels about Sarek." Jim's voice commented. "Spock, I want you to do something very difficult. Delve into the human part of your nature and try to look at this situation from Lorna's viewpoint. Perhaps then you'll realize that you've been asking of her more than she should ever be expected to give. Tell me this -- when she was brought forward into our era, what did she bring with her?"

"The clothing that she was wearing, of course. There was no way that any of her possessions could be...."

"Exactly. All she brought with her were her clothes, her understanding heart, and her great capacity for compassion."

I reached over to shut off the panel, but Len shielded the switch with his hand. "We've heard this much; we might as well listen to it all."

"Those traits," Jim continued, "enabled her to forfeit her only chance to return to all that once was hers because she was needed here. Do you follow me so far?"

"Certainly, Captain."

"Lately, it's seemed to me that you thought Lorna was reacting neurotically -- that she'd completely submerged her own individuality."

"Such was my impression, yes, but I admit that I was in error."

"Granted. If Lorna were submerging her own individuality, she'd move Heaven and Earth to marry Sarek, then she'd be miserable for the rest of her life trying to forget that she's human. She refuses to settle for second best any longer, Spock, and I say more power to her. She needs to be loved as well as to love -- with an emotion so strong it'll gladly meet and even exceed the passion, the loneliness, and the wanting that's been dammed up in her soul. She'd be a fool to accept anything less, and we all know that she's no fool. And since she can't get the love that she needs from the Ambassador, I think that it's up to us to find some way to help her after Sarek leaves the ship."

"Have you forgotten what you chanced to learn of Vulcans during that mind-meld while we were combating the Melkotian illusion, Captain?"

"No; I just wasn't sure it would apply in this situation.... Spock, is it possible that Sarek learned as much from your mother these last few years as she learned from him during the early years of their marriage?"

"That is a personal question, Captain. One that even you do not have the right to ask."

"Never mind, you've just given me an answer. Amanda was happy with Sarek; Lorna could be, too. If only he'd choose her...."

There was an awkward pause as Kirk realized that he was again in danger of mentioning things that Spock would prefer to keep silent.

"I agree, Captain. If only Sarek would choose the Yeoman when the time comes. I could almost wish that we were still several days away from Vulcan. Perhaps we could then discover and utilize something that would enable Sarek to realize that the Yeoman would be most suitable for him."

"That's enough, Len." I demanded.

"All right," he agreed, and he flipped the switch.

"Len, why was the Captain asking Spock such questions about me?"

"Jim wants to make sure that a human could be content in a marriage to a Vulcan. After all, honey, he's just as responsible for your welfare and happiness as he is for every other regular member of the crew. Too bad he's botherin' Spock, though. I could have told him all that."

"You? Len, I thought you always feel a bit shaky when it comes to knowing about full-blooded Vulcans."

"I do -- but not as much as I did before I operated on Sarek. While he was recovering, I had several chances to talk with Amanda. She didn't tell me much, but my psychological training enabled me to read between the lines."

"And could you tell if she was truly happy with Sarek?"

"She was, honey. Just the same as you could be."

"I wonder, Len.... She was such a warm-hearted person, so - so sensitive and understanding -- how could she have been happy with a husband who considers logic the most important thing in life? How could I be happy with such a man? I've been asking myself that a million times a day."

"And, it doesn't change the fact that you love him?"

"No."

"It didn't to Amanda, either. Besides, as Spock said, there is much about Vulcans that we Terrans don't know -- mainly because they don't want us to know. I suppose they believe that we'd only use that information to make fun of them -- and maybe they're right. A lot of us would. Anyway, Lorna, since you love a Vulcan, I think you ought to know some of the things that I learned."

"Do you really feel it's necessary, Len?"

When he nodded, I spread my hands in a gesture of consent. "Well, why don't you try to tell me as much as you can before Jim and Mr. Spock come back in here?"

So Len related what he had learned when he had first become acquainted with Sarek and with Amanda.

Vulcans considered emotion to be the root of all their problems when they were trying to rebuild their culture at the close of their savage age. However, contrary to Terran beliefs, Vulcans are not emotionless beings. This, I have been told repeatedly, but I have refused to believe it. Even now, though Len was telling me much the same thing, I was confident that he was only trying to give me hope where none existed.

He told me that he had inferred from a few statements which Amanda had left hanging in mid-air, so to speak, that Vulcans do not express any regard for their spouses or their families overtly -- in public, but that some of them do in private. "I observed the depths of the devotion which Amanda felt for Sarek -- it was a devotion based upon love which couldn't have endured if it hadn't been returned. Spock insists that she was the happiest of women, and I found this to be true."

"Len, that may have been true -- while Amanda was alive. I needn't be told that. However, when she died, Sarek reverted to his Vulcan way of life -- completely."

"Lorna, if that were so, he'd never have been able to treat you with the consideration that he's shown from the very first."

Perhaps I might have argued with that, but Jim and the First Officer came back at that moment.

"Well, Lorna." Jim said as he sat down. "I think we are going to have to discuss what sort of an assignment I should give you after we leave Vulcan so you can keep so busy that...."

Suddenly, the engines faltered. A warning light flashed on the panel immediately. It was a call from Engineering reporting that the new dilithium crystals, which had been installed earlier, might have contained a minute speck of impurity. The ship would have to switch to impulse power while they inspected various propulsion systems.

"Have you any idea how many systems you'll have to check?"

"Why, all of them, sir --- that is, if time is of.... Who? Captain, just a moment.... Sir, Mr. Scott is asking what is going on down here. Shall I tell him?"

"Indeed not, Mr. DeSalle. Tell him that I'm ordering him to stay with his bride -- where he belongs. You know what you're supposed to be doing, so do it. Kirk out."

The engines faltered again, then the Enterprise shuddered briefly during the transfer of power from the warp engines to impulse power.

"Lieutenant Uhura, send out a routine message to Star Fleet telling them that we've had to cut to impulse power. Also, beam a similar message to Vulcan and tell them that we'll give them our new ETA as soon as we're able to compute it."

"At once, Captain."

"Well, Spock. What's 'bugging' you?"

The tall Vulcan shook his head. "Two errors in a relatively short period will influence an order for a complete computer overhaul, Captain."

"It's long overdue, Spock. We'll worry about that when the time comes. We're on impulse power now, and we'll have to limp along on it as long as it takes."

Since this problem was one for the Engineering crew, and since Jim would be kept informed of any developments as soon as they happened, it was not necessary to adjourn our conference. Instead, we stayed and listened while the Captain discussed his ideas for several tasks that would keep me too occupied to think of my loss and loneliness after Sarek went back to Vulcan.

At last, the conference ended and we prepared to leave. The door of the turbo lift opened just as we reached it, and my heart seemed to leap when the tall figure of Ambassador Sarek stepped out.

He studied me intently, but I was able to keep my expression calm and composed. After a moment, he inclined his head in a brief greeting and continued down the corridor past us.


Link to Part Four | Star Trek Showcase Index

 

 

 

 

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