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Link to Part 3

STARDATE -- ?????


I wasn't able to get anything out of my studies during the entire "day," and I was more than glad when it was time to return to my quarters. Zia Andros, my roommate, had already left for her tour of duty. I know she hates the overlapping of schedules as much as I do, for we've never had much chance to talk.

"Yeoman Mitchell." Captain Kirk's voice crackled from the communications grid. "Have you turned in yet?"

"No, sir. I just came off-duty."

"Please report to the Bridge on the double. I need you."

Naturally, those last three words acted like a spur.

"Yeoman Mitchell reporting for duty, Captain."

"You've made very good time, Yeoman. I hope you can see well enough to write in dim lighting."

"I have 20/20 vision without glasses, sir."

"Everyone else is on assignment, otherwise, I wouldn't call you back on duty so soon.... I need information...."

"What do you want me to do, sir?" I requested when he paused and looked at me questioningly.

"I want you to go to the Observation Deck and transmit the readings on the dials there. It shouldn't take long, but the effort may be well worthwhile."

"Captain...." Spock started to say, but Kirk shook his head.

"Sorry, Spock. I know you generally go to the Observation Deck, but don't you think that the Yeoman is the logical choice?"

After a moment, the Vulcan nodded, and Kirk turned back to me.

"Yeoman, I want you on that deck as fast as you can get there. You'll have to take your hand communicator. I've just confirmed that the wall unit isn't working, and nobody has time to repair it. Well, Yeoman, you have your orders -- get going."

When I looked out of one of the viewports in the dimly lighted Observation Deck, the Enterprise didn't seem to be moving at all. This was the first time I'd actually had occasion to stay on the Deck itself instead of merely passing through it to go to other duties. I was entranced by the beauty of the star-studded darkness beyond the transparent viewports. Finally, however, I remembered that I'd been sent here on special duty.

After checking to confirm that the wall unit was still inoperative and that it would take too long to repair now, I activated my hand communicator and began to relay the desired readings to Captain Kirk. When I was finished, I was at the opposite end of the corridor.

"That's the final reading, sir. Do you want me to repeat it?"

"I have it. Thank you, Yeoman."

"Will you require further readings, sir?"

"Are you alone?"

"Why...yes, of course I am."

"Then, please remain."

"Yes, sir. How often do you wish me to take and transmit readings?"

"I'll contact you when I want more. Kirk out."

I stared down at the communicator in my hand and frowned. It was obvious that the Captain had sent me here for a specific reason, but what? No matter; he'd ordered me to remain here, so I must obey that order.

Shrugging my shoulders, I put away my communicator then went over and sat down on one of the many benches placed at intervals along the corridor. I deliberately chose a bench that was hidden in the shadows so I could see outside better.

The polarizing screens had dropped automatically once we had changed over to impulse power, so the space I was looking at was appearing as it actually looked outside, not as it looked after harmful radiations and colors visible beyond the speed of light had been screened out.

We were quite a distance from the center of our galaxy, of course, but there was still much brilliance and beauty visible. Great stars burning like rubies, small stars flashing with a near-purple glow, stars blazing with the blue-white luster of a fine diamond, stars pulsing with the peaceful hue of a dark sapphire or with the lambent green flame of an emerald -- all these, and more, presented themselves to my delighted gaze.

But, also, right there in front of me, floated a triple star visibly larger and brighter than the rest because we were so much closer to it than to the others. The stars giving life to our ultimate destination -- Vulcan.

The stars didn't seem to change in size, but I knew that we were traveling toward them at a pace that far outstripped anything that America's space programs had achieved back in 1969.

Suddenly, the door that led to the rest of the ship opened. I turned, then I drew back even further into the shadows as a tall, unmistakable form came through the doorway.


What's he doing here? I thought. Oh! It's getting late, and he has no reason to stay up.... Spock told me once that it's customary for Vulcans to retreat to a secluded area to meditate before they retire. Lorna Mitchell, orders or no orders, this is no place for you!

Probably Sarek's eyes hadn't had time to adjust to the dimness. I would remain perfectly silent then, when he became lost in his meditations, perhaps I could slipway without disturbing him.

I breathed very slowly to keep from making any sound, and I also strove to shield my thoughts to avoid even a minimal involuntary contact with his mind. But -- Oh Lord! -- nothing could keep me from looking at him.

Sarek stood motionless for a few moments, then he advanced along the corridor, moving confidently in the dimness. He paused and looked out at the stars that gave warmth and life to his native world -- possibly anticipating his return to his home.

He continued to gaze out the viewport and was so motionless that I began to wonder if perhaps he had slipped into a state of deep meditation. No. The next moment he advanced along the corridor again and paused before a viewport only a few feet away.

I held my breath, grateful for the shadows that were concealing me.

"Yeoman Mitchell, I can hear your heart beating. Why are you trying to pretend that you are not here?" he asked calmly, without turning.

It was actually a relief to have the discovery, which I had been dreading, over and done with.

"Forgive me, Ambassador." I rose. "I have orders to be here, but if you prefer that I leave, I am sure the Captain will understand."

I started toward the outer door, but he sidestepped adroitly to bar my way.

"Please, you must understand." I protested. "I - I wasn't spying. Really I wasn't! I - I...."

"...wished to slip away quietly." He surprised me by finishing my statement for me, then he folded his arms across his chest. "Why?"

"Mr. Spock has told me how important -- even sacred -- the evening meditations are to a Vulcan. I didn't wish to disturb you.... I'm sorry; I guess I've made a mess of things -- as usual."

"You need not apologize," he assured me. "I have not come here for meditation. Spock and I often come to the Deck to observe the stars and to discuss various matters at this hour."

"Oh?" I bit my tongue to keep from raking an idle, polite comment, for he could interpret it as an attempt to inquire into something that was deeply personal if I didn't choose my words carefully.

"You have been admiring the beauty of the heavens." He indicated the glorious panorama shining through the viewport behind me. "Do you think that I am incapable of admiring it? As you learned in the Vulcan gardens, we can appreciate great beauty."

I turned and looked out at the stars again. "Mortals and all their many accomplishments don't seem to amount to very much when they are compared to all that, do they, Ambassador?"

"Ah, you are suffering an attack of humility. A little of that will be good for you, but do not allow it to go to extremes. Your natural inclination...."

"Ambassador, for God's sake!" I interrupted, not caring that my voice was rough with unshed tears and that I was being rude. "Please don't lecture me. Not now."

He moved forward slightly and turned so he could see my face. "You have been weeping," he said gently.

"N-no." I bent my head so he couldn't see my eyes.

"Do not deny the obvious. I saw a tear gleaming upon your eyelashes when you looked down just now. I sensed earlier that you were deeply troubled, but you were composed when I encountered you later. Now, you are troubled again. What is wrong, Yeoman? Will you let me help you?"

"'Let me help' -- the three most important words that any intelligent being can speak." I sighed and blinked the tears from my eyes. "No, there is nothing you can do to help me, sir. I - I apologize for these unseemly tears, but - but they are the result of my human reluctance to part from you because I - I have always found it difficult to say farewell to a friend. I have come to respect and to lo...!" I caught my breath and amended my words swiftly, "Look upon you with more respect than anyone else I've ever met, which makes it even more difficult for me to say farewell to you."

Sarek's eyes widened slightly. He started to say something, than he paused, still looking at me. When he did speak, his tone was quite stern.

"Is that why you, of all the members of the crew, have not sought me out to wish me a safe journey home?"

That had sounded more like a direct accusation than a question.

"That - that's what I was just trying to say." I spoke more sharply than I had intended. If his question was an indirect accusation of a seeming lack of courtesy upon my part, then he was being most unfair. "Besides, you couldn't have known that I'm scheduled to assist Mr. Scott in the Transporter Room when you return to Vulcan. I thought it reasonable to wait until then to wish you a safe journey."

Sarek's features were as inscrutable as ever, but his eyes were very intent. He shook his head, and his words filled me with an appalling dismay

"Reasonable, but not quite reasonable enough. I was confident that, in time, you would forget your pride and would finally be completely honest with me."

I couldn't keep myself from staring at him, literally terrified.

"Since that day on Aries XI, you have feared that I would consider myself indebted to you. Is that not so?"

A vast sensation of relief swept over me. Thank Heaven. For a moment there, I had thought....

"I chose the only logical course of action on Aries XI." I said carefully. "Haven't you, yourself, said that one does not thank logic?"

He did not react to this revelation that I had studied the records of the time that he had been in Sickbay after that heart operation. Instead, he merely looked at me until I had to bend my head and answer his question in the affirmative.

"It is true that you enabled me to live...."

"I don't want your gratitude!" I protested, unwisely.

"Nor will you receive it. Any debt which I owed you was paid in full when Spock and I joined in that mind-link with you."

I hadn't believed Spock when he had said the same thing, but it wasn't as easy to doubt Sarek's word.

"Come now," Sarek insisted when I remained silent. "Will you not admit that you have been afraid that I would acknowledge an obligation to you --one that you did not wish to accept?"

I bowed my head once more. "I - I suppose so. You've done so much for me."

"Now we make progress. Let us resolve this problem by agreeing to cancel any debt which may have existed between us."

"Of course, sir. Thank you. And, now that that is settled, would you prefer that I leave?"

He moved away a step or so.

"You have said that you have always found it difficult to part from a friend. Would you rather say those farewells to me now, while we are alone?"

How very understanding he could be, when he chose.

"Yes, Ambassador, I certainly would." I lifted my right hand, my fingers spread in the stiff "V" salute, then I spoke the formal Vulcan words which Mr. Spock had taught me -- the words which Terrans translated into the familiar:

"Live long and prosper, Ambassador Sarek."

Instead of responding, Sarek lifted one eyebrow and shook his head slowly.

"You do that very well. However, on Vulcan, those who have become good friends do not part in so formal a manner."

"They - do - not?" I stammered.

"No -- Lorna, they do not."

I gasped and took an involuntary step backwards, startled by his use of my first name.

"Then I - I must apologize again, Ambassador, though I didn't intend to be rude. I - I thought I was doing the right thing."

"Almost -- but not quite. Would you like to learn the way that very good friends say farewell to one another on Vulcan?"

"Wouldn't it be 'illogical' of me to ignore any opportunity to gain knowledge?"

My sarcasm was lost on Sarek. He held up his right hand, fingers spread wide in the Vulcan salute.

"So? I did… that." I exclaimed as I mimicked his gesture.

He came closer, then he reached out, the first and second fingers of his hand extended in a gesture, which seemed more like a kiss than a form of caress.

I hesitated, making sure that my mental defenses were working, then I reached out to place my fingers against his. Surely it was only my imagination, but I felt something like a slight electrical shock run along my arm, and I increased my mental shielding.

We stood like that for a moment, then Sarek's fingers moved over the edge of mine, down the side of my hand, and then along my forearm. I started to pull my hand back as the strange sensation became more definite. He grasped my wrist gently and shook his head.

Realizing that I might arouse his suspicions if I persisted in my refusal, I ceased my instinctive retreat and stood quietly, waiting for him to continue this most unusual "lesson."

After a moment, he released my wrist then reached up to touch my chin. I drew back and started to reach up to push his hand away, for I could no longer tell myself that I was only imagining that tingling sensation. Immediately, he reached down; catching both my hands and folding them together, he held them in his left hand, keeping me a prisoner with a minimum of effort.

"Once this is begun, it must be completed," he said softly. And he touched my chin once more, then he ran the tips of his fingers from my chin up along the side of my left cheek. His hand hovered over my temple then his fingertips moved across to my eyes, resting gently, carefully upon my closed eyelids, then moving back down along the side of my right cheek to come to rest upon my chin once more.

My face definitely was tingling wherever he had touched it. I found the sensation pleasing, but it was as nothing compared to what I felt when his fingers moved up from my chin to trace the outlines of my mouth.

I felt my breath catch in my throat. It was all I could do to keep my thoughts shielded. If he hadn't been holding my hands, I might have tried to touch his face in the same fashion.

At last, he allowed his right hand to fall to his side, then he released my hands.

"You have always made every effort to observe the rules and the customs of my world. Will you allow me to bid you farewell after the manner of your own people?"

"If you wish, Ambassador." I held out my right hand. "At a risk of sounding presumptuous, however, I must confess that I like the Vulcan style of leave-taking much better than I like our custom of shaking hands."

Sarek's fingers closed about mine; instead of shaking hands with me, however, he moved a step closer.

"You have misunderstood, Lorna. I have observed Terrans when they were taking leave of one another, and I know that very good friends do not merely shake hands."

Was he talking, about a -- kiss? I shut my eyes for a second, gathering my mental defenses to bolster my shielding at its highest power so I would not betray my emotions when he did make that Terran gesture of final farewell; somehow, this time, I knew that that was what he intended to do....

He bent toward me and touched my cheek gently with his lips then, still clasping my hand, he moved back slightly.

My entire system had been geared for a less platonic kiss, and the shock of not receiving it was greater than if he had kissed me on the mouth.

Fool! I raged inwardly. Spock has told you repeatedly that you have a habit of attributing Terran reactions to Vulcans, and this just proves it. Last night you thought Sarek was going to kiss you while you were listening to the Talamane, and just now you thought he was going to.... Good Lord, it was probably all he could do to bring himself to kiss you on the cheek. Grow up, Lorna.

But my disappointment was so great that I couldn't keep from making a flippant remark to conceal that disappointment. Unfortunately, I was still trying so hard to control my thoughts and to maintain as calm an expression as possible that I lost control of my tongue.

"If that's the best you can do, Amanda must not have been much of a teacher."

Realizing my mistake, I pressed the back of my free hand against my mouth and bent my head in mute apology as Sarek's fingers tightened painfully about my hand.

"Indeed?" he said after an eternity. There was a subtle shade of difference in his voice, which compelled me to lift my head and look at him.

My heart thudded heavily, nearly choking me when I saw that his formerly inscrutable features had taken on a totally different expression -- an expression with a dangerous quality about it which both frightened and fascinated me.

"S-Sarek?" I tried vainly to free my hand. "Oh, Sarek! I - I'm sorry. I - I didn't mean it."

"Then it is time that you should learn not to make reckless statements."

There was a hint of steel in his tone, which caused a chill to zip up my spine. He was angry. Somehow, my careless words had achieved the impossible.

The very air around us seemed to crackle with an aura of danger, but I was so frightened that I didn't dare try to move or to even try to speak. For a terrifying, moment, he just stood there looking at me, holding my hand so tightly that I fully expected to feel a bone snap beneath the force of his grip.

Finally, he released my hand and took one step toward me. My strange paralysis vanished, and I fled -- only to be halted in mid-stride.

My strength was as nothing against his. He might hurt me unintentionally in his anger if I tried to struggle, so I forced myself to stand motionless.

He grasped my shoulders and turned me to face him. My eyelids fluttered and closed then, determined to accept my punishment with at least a token showing of courage, I looked up at him.

Slowly he drew me into his arms, then he bent his head. At the last moment, I felt a sudden surge of rebellion. Of course, I wanted him to kiss me -- but not like this. I moved back as far as his arms would allow and turned my head.

He reached up to cup my chin in one hand and turned my face back. I was immediately overwhelmed by a feeling of utter fatalism. This moment had surely been destined from the beginning of time. Once our lips touched, he would learn everything that was buried within the depths of my soul.

He paused, his mouth hovering over mine, and I could not keep my eyelids from drooping helplessly. After a moment of agonizing suspense, he tempered his justice with mercy by gently tilting my head back and by pressing his lips against the faint scar upon my throat.

Even this caused my telepathic shield to waver, but I managed to collect all my thoughts and emotions behind that mental barrier once more -- though it took nearly all my strength to do it.

I trembled, and a sensation of unreasoning hope awakened in my heart. Perhaps he would not make me suffer the consequences for my unintentionally cruel words after all. I relaxed slightly, my hands resting quietly upon the strong chest against which I was being held -- savoring the unexpected sweetness of this moment. Then, his left hand touched my chin again, tilting my head back, and I knew that I had only been granted a temporary reprieve.

The loveliest music I've ever heard in my life was the sound of the all-frequencies signal from my communicator just then. Sarek hesitated, then he released me as the familiar curtain of calm inscrutability assumed its former place over his features.

I brought out my communicator and opened it.

"Ambassador Sarek!" It was Lieutenant Uhura speaking. "If you can hear me, wherever you are, please acknowledge. Ambassador Sarek."

"This is Sarek." He took the communicator from me. "What is it?"

"Sir, we have just received word that the High Ruler of Vulcan will speak with in you ten solar minutes."

"Would it be possible for me to receive the communication here?"

"Certainly. If you're near a viewer, I'll patch in."

He looked at the communications grid, but no screen accompanied it, of course.

"There are no screens in my present location."

"Then, I'm sorry, sir. Under the circumstances, perhaps you had better come directly to the Bridge."

"I am on my way."

He handed the communicator back to me. Instead of turning to leave, however, he looked down at me for a long moment.

"How long will you remain here?" he asked finally.

"I - I don't know, sir."

"If you should be released from duty before I return, wait for me. I do not think it would be logical for us to part in this fashion."

I neither honored nor refused his request. After a moment, he inclined his head gravely and turned away -- only to turn and look at me again when he reached the door.

"Please, I have much of importance to add to this discussion." A moment later, the door slid shut behind him.

I reached up to touch my throat, wondering if I had been dreaming all that had happened. No. The red marks upon my hand were real.

But why had it happened? Why had he become so angry? My remark would have irritated him, of course, but I couldn't understand why he had shown that irritation. He had reacted in a manner, which had expressed almost as much outrage as a human would have expressed in the same circumstances, and it just didn't make sense that he should have done so. He did not need to prove to himself that he had learned much from Amanda. He knew his own abilities and talents; he remembered the love that he and his wife had shared -- and that was enough. Therefore, why had he found it necessary to convince me that he had learned...? Was it possible that he had acted in such an uncharacteristic manner because his extreme sensitivity had enabled him to sense that I had needed such convincing? No, that didn't make sense...but then, I had never been able to think of a sensible explanation for the way that he had kept me from accepting the Procurator's invitation to remain on Mauretania, either.

I sighed. Uhura's call had prevented him from punishing me in the manner that he had intended, but I hadn't escaped retribution. Those gentle kisses upon my cheek and upon my throat would always make me wonder what I had missed.

My communicator sounded again; this time, on my frequency.

"Lorna Mitchell here."

"Yeoman, this is the Captain. Do you -- have anything to report?"

"No, sir." I smiled wryly. Surely the Captain had known that Sarek usually met Spock here at this time. Had he sent me here deliberately?

"I see." Yes, there was a definite note of disappointment in his voice. "That's all, Yeoman. You may return to your quarters."

"Thank you, sir. Lorna Mitchell, out."

STARDATE: 588.... (on Impulse Time, that is ten o'clock at night)


When I entered my quarters, instead of preparing for the next day, I sat down on the side of my bed, savoring the memory of that terrifying, yet wonderfully exciting interlude on the Observation Deck.

I went over every word, every gesture, every feeling; this would surely be all that I could ever have, and I wanted to be sure that, I would be able to keep every moment engraved clearly upon my memory.

At last, I could put off getting ready for tomorrow no longer, but I was still in no mood to drop back directly into the normal work-a-day world. Instead, I put a tape of one of my favorite symphonies on the player and turned the lights down, hoping that these things would help me to make the necessary adjustment.

Moving slowly, still wrapped in that web of memories, I hung my uniform in the special compartment, which would return the garment clean and ready for wearing the next time I needed it. Next on my agenda was to put my clipboard and my stylus where I could lay hands on them while I was heading out the door. After that, I took a vibro-shower, even though I felt a childish reluctance to lose even the slightest trace of Sarek's kisses.

Since I was officially off-duty, I put on a long, comfortably tailored robe, which had been a part of the wardrobe assigned to me from Ship's Stores. The robe and matching undergarments were blue for Starship Sciences, of course, but it was several shades darker than my regular uniform. A design of synthetic sapphires concealed the line where the robe was joined in the front and added a touch of feminine elegance.

It's always been my habit to give my hair a thorough combing before retiring; I was less than halfway through this task when someone sounded my door signal.

"Who is there?" I activated the communications switch on the wall near me.

"Spock. May I speak with you, Yeoman?" I went to the door.

"Good evening, sir. I was not anticipating callers.... Perhaps you would prefer to wait in the nearest Rec. Room until I can change my clothes and then join you there?" I paused, realizing how stilted my words had been -- almost as if I were speaking a language that I had had to learn instead of one that was my native tongue -- or rather, a modernized version of it. Was that what Jim had been talking about when he had told me that I was even beginning to talk like a Vulcan? I would have to watch that.

"It is a private matter which I wish to discuss with you. Your costume is appropriate for off-duty hours. May I come in?"

I stepped back to let him come through the door. He glanced around quickly to make sure that Zia had left, then he shook his head when I offered him a seat. Instead, he stood in the center of the room, his hands clasped behind him in his usual stance while he surveyed our surroundings.

"It does not appear that you have taken possession of any part of this room, Yeoman."

"I thought it best to wait and see what final decision Star Fleet makes regarding my status before I made any drastic changes in this decor, sir."

He glanced at the comb that I had forgotten I was holding. I considered turning to the mirror to finish my task then thought better of it. If I arranged my hair while Spock was watching me a second time, I would be implying that I hoped something really would come of the love that I felt for Sarek. It would be far better to emphasize the fact that I knew I had no hope at all.

I smiled and laid the comb on a ledge before the mirror, then I touched a lock of my hair. "I'll finish combing my hair later. It feels good to let it stay loose like this."

"As you wish. Interesting. Your hair seems longer and much fuller that it was when you first came aboard the Enterprise."

"Perhaps that's another benefit given by the spores from the pod plants. I'm surprised that you'd notice...."

I stopped, appalled. Hadn't my recent encounter with Sarek taught me to guard my tongue? What right did I have to criticize anyone, especially a Vulcan, because his customs were not the same as mine?

"Mr. Spock, I - I had no right to say that."

"No apology is necessary, Lorna. It is quite evident that you are waging a most determined war with yourself. You cannot be held entirely responsible for everything that you might say."

I stared at him, surprised by his unexpected sensitivity.

"Even so, that doesn't give me the right to try to use you as an emotional garbage disposal."

Up went his eyebrow.

"That is a most unique phrase. I am not quite sure how I should interpret it."

"It was becoming rather popular when I -- left Earth, sir. I meant that I was trying to ease my emotional turmoil by criticizing someone else -- in this instance, you, Mr. Spock."

"Ah, yes. That I understand all too well. Behavior patterns have not changed so very much."

I didn't reply, for I was sure anything I might say would certainly be wrong. I might also prompt a discussion of the relative advantages and disadvantages of human emotions versus Vulcan logic, and I just didn't feel up to such a debate at the moment. The symphony that I had been playing had reached a sensitive passage. I started to go over to turn off the player and turn up the lights, but he shook his head swiftly.

"I prefer the atmosphere which the music and the dim lighting create. Please do not change it."

What could I do but agree? To my consternation, he then introduced a different subject:

"Sarek came to the Observation Deck while you were there, did he not?"

"Y - yes." It wouldn't do any good to deny it. He could easily find out the truth from Sarek himself.

"And...?" Though he was Vulcan by heritage and temperament, Mr. Spock's incompleted question was as apparent as if he had blurted the words in a Terran manner.

"We have spoken our farewells." I allowed as little inflection to enter my voice as possible.

"As I expected, under the circumstances. That is why I have come. I ask you to reconsider...."

"'Reconsider' what?"

"You know very well -- your self-imposed silence."

"Mr. Spock, isn't it rather pointless to begin another 'why-don't-you-tell-Sarek-you-love-him?' discussion?"

"I had hoped that, by now, you would have gained more confidence in yourself."

"'Hoped', Mr. Spock?" Good grief. I was doing it again. I'm sure my eyes must have crossed during my efforts to gulp back those words, but he didn't seem to notice.

"Vulcans who live among humans often -- absorb some of their characteristics."

"Yes, of course. I'm sorry for what I said, sir."

He ignored my apology and went on with his argument: "Lorna, surely you realize that my mother suffered uncertainty and distress similar to that which you are experiencing. She did not allow them to conquer her."

"The obstacles your mother faced were not as formidable as mine. Indeed, it is Sarek's memories of her that has created one of my greatest obstacles."

"Then, since you will not speak, release me from the bond of my word."

"I -- can't."

He studied me intently for a moment, then he nodded slightly, as if my denial had just confirmed a theory for him.

"Lorna, I believe that you are waiting for Sarek to make the first move."

It was my turn to nod.

"You ask too much. It would be difficult -- well nigh impossible --for a Vulcan."

"So you have implied countless times before, Mr. Spock." I sighed impatiently. "However, if Sarek does not make the first move, how would it be possible for me to ever come to believe that he would really want me to marry him? It's not that I'm being...shy about this, Mr. Spock. It's just that I've been able to put myself in his place. If I had been wishing that I could die so I could join my soul's mate and then someone would come up to me soon afterwards daring to suggest...anything like that, I know how I'd regard him. Even though I'm applying Terran motives to a Vulcan again, Mr. Spock, I'm confident that Sarek's inner reaction would be similar. I've always regarded my chances as near zero. Even so, at least Sarek is my friend. I will not slap that friend in the face."

He tilted his head slightly as he pondered this statement. "I had hoped that you would no longer attach so much importance to the wish for death which you picked up from Sarek's mind. It remains as the most insurmountable obstacle of all. I am totally at a loss. There is apparently no way that I can convince you that your 'chances' are much greater than you think."

"You're right; there isn't. I have Sarek's friendship, and I intend to be content with that. It's better than the nothing I'd have if I ever broke my silence."

"It never ceases to puzzle me that you have been able to maintain that silence. After all, Sarek has had ample opportunity to sense your true emotions through an involuntary mind-touch.... Or, have you discovered that you have the ability to erase memories?"

"Indeed not, sir. Even if I did, I'd never use it.... I've merely been employing the techniques of mental control you've taught me."

"Will you allow me to test the strength of those techniques?" He lifted one hand, ready to place it upon my temple.

Spock really must be quite puzzled to be so willing to enter into mental contact -- even with me. I nodded, then I began to concentrate upon a series of very complicated 3-D chess problems. By now, I had become so adept that I wasn't even conscious of repulsing the tendrils of Spock's mental forces as they sought a way through my defenses.

"You have developed a much greater degree of mental control than I had estimated was possible for a human from your former era," he said at last as he took his hand away from my temple. "I could read your thoughts, but it would require the use of a greater amount of mental force than I would wish to employ -- nor would I consider trying to catch you off-guard. You must be complimented upon your achievement, but you may have learned your lesson too well. If Sarek had learned that you love him while he was with you on Mauretania...."

"Why waste time discussing what might have been, sir?"

"You are very stubborn. Does my word bind me even to committing patricide? I should resolve this problem by breaking my promise to you!"

I wondered what he had meant by the word "patricide." I wanted to ask him to explain, but did not. I'd already learned that it was possible to push a Vulcan too far, and I certainly didn't want to repeat that error.

"But - you won't, will you, sir?"

"No. I cannot."

"I'm sorry." I couldn't repress a feeling of relief.

He didn't speak, merely sighed softly, perhaps in resignation.

"I am really very sorry." I said again.

"As am I. It would seem that there is nothing more I can say. Therefore, I shall leave. Rest well, Yeoman."

"Rest well, Mr. Spock."

I reviewed our conversation for several minutes after Mr. Spock had left, but I only succeeded in becoming more bewildered than ever. Finally, I reached out to pick up my comb, but the door sounded again.

"Who is it?"

"Captain Kirk. May we come in?"

"'We'?" I asked cautiously. "Who is with you?"

"It's just me, honey," replied Len's drawl.

"Come in, and welcome." I touched the remote control to open the door.

They stood in almost the same place that Mr. Spock had chosen, both of them looking at me with regret and sympathy clearly visible in their eyes.

"Yes, gentlemen?"

They looked at each other, plainly at a loss as to how to begin, then Jim took the initiative:

"Lorna, Bones saw you passing by in the corridor a while ago and told me that you were as pale as a person who had experienced a severe mental or emotional shock. You can tell me that it's none of my business, if you wish, but -- well, Sarek did come to the Observation Deck while you were there, didn't he?"

I nodded.

"And everything is still the same between you?"

Very clever, Jim. If I tell you that nothing's changed, I'll be sure to blush or do some other fool thing that'll tell you I'm lying. If I say things have changed, you'll immediately jump to the wrong conclusion.

"Sarek has not asked me to be his wife -- if that's what you mean." I finally answered.

"I'm...sorry. I'd give a fortune in Diorite if things could have worked out for you."

"Don't worry about it, Captain."

Jim turned to Len with a "Help me!" expression, but Len shook his head. "Will that be all, sir?" I demanded.

"Lorna, what's happened to you? There's a wounded look in your eyes that makes me hurt inside...."

"Nothing serious, Captain. Surely you realize how difficult it is for a Terran to learn to look at things from the logical point of view."

"That's what I was afraid of." Len exclaimed. "It's that damned empathy of yours. I've noticed that you've been behaving more like a Vulcan every day, but you've got to stop it. Empathy is fine --as far as it goes, but you're letting it go too far."

"I'm afraid the change of behavior is beyond my control. And, won't you agree that I've chosen the only sensible way?" I was angry. It was bad enough when Mr. Spock was arguing with me all the time. Now that the Captain and Len had started in as well, it was just too much.

"Yes, I did believe that at one time, Lorna." Jim interrupted. "But I was wrong. I think you should tell Sarek how you feel about him, and Bones agrees with me."

"Great galaxies, Captain! About the only thing I have left is my pride. Will you demand that of me, too?"

Of course, I was sorry the moment I'd spoken those words, for I'd made a very unfair accusation. However, Jim knew that I was upset and didn't take offense.

"We all know that pride isn't a very good companion, Lorna."

"Maybe not, but it seems to be the only one I'll ever have." I said dully. "Can't you understand why I must remain silent, Jim?"

"I can understand that you can't force yourself into a mold for which you're no longer suited -- even for Sarek. Yet, I feel that you're giving up too soon. Maybe we could trick Sarek into some sort of an emotional reaction."

I shook my head. It wasn't any of their business, but I knew full well that arousing a Vulcan's emotions was like rousing a sleeping tiger.

"All right, and I'm sorry," Jim apologized. "Lorna, you have no business being in the Transporter Room when Sarek leaves for Vulcan. I'm changing your assignment...."

"Thank you, sir, but Sarek knows that I'm scheduled to be there. It might arouse his suspicious if I don't appear."

"Very well, if that's what you want.... I feel so damned useless. If there's anything I can do.... Blast it! Every time we get on this subject, I seem to plead the pressure of duty, and I'm going to have to do it again. I'm supposed to be in two other places right now. I'm sorry to run off like this, Lorna, but you remember what I said. Coming, Bones?"

"Later, Jim. You're not the only one who has a few things to say to Lorna."

Len consulted his analyzer after Jim had left, then he frowned.

"You're practically tied up in knots inside. Do you still have one of those red pills I gave you when your arm was hurt? Good. Take it before you go to bed."

"More medication? What good will that...? I'm sorry, Len. Of course, I'll take it. Thank you."

"Lorna, I...." He grasped my arms for a moment, then he shook his head and released me. "By all the galaxies! If anyone deserves a miracle, it's you. For what it's worth, honey, if, Jim happens to be tied up on the Bridge or somethin', you can always yell for me when or if things get to be too much for you."

"It's worth a great deal to me, Len. More than I can ever tell you."



I finally went to bed, though I was so tense that I was sure even the little red pill wouldn't help me to relax. However, I must have been quite exhausted emotionally, for I fell asleep immediately and began to dream. . . .

I was on the Bridge, standing near the Captain's chair, and everyone was laughing and making fun of me because I had dared to fall in love with a Vulcan. Then, I saw myself telling Sarek that I loved him, only to have him turn to me to say that in comparison to Amanda, I would always be found wanting.

Suddenly, I couldn't stand it any longer, and I began to run. The turbo lift doors opened to receive me; instead of the familiar cubicle behind those doors, I found myself running through a dark forest, a place of ugly twisted trees and towering boulders. The sky above was filled with threatening storm clouds, and the air resounded with the cries of birds and beasts cries, which sounded like mocking laughter.

I broke through a heavy thicket and found myself at the edge of a vast clearing. As I paused, wondering what lay ahead of me, the clouds parted above me and a dazzling ray of light illuminated the clearing to reveal a beautiful garden. Birds were singing joyfully and flowers poured their perfumes upon the gentle breeze that blew across my face. Soon, I felt a sensation of peace and contentment stealing over me. My hesitant feet began to move almost with a will of their own, carrying me along a white-paved walkway into the very center of the garden, where I saw a woman seated upon a comfortable stone bench.

She rose to welcome me as I approached, and I was not surprised to find that it was -- Amanda. I would have tanned away, but she clasped my hand and drew me down to sit on the bench beside her. I trembled as she studied my face and waited for her to make fun of me far daring to love the man who had been hers.

"So, you are Lorna Mitchell," she said at last, her voice filled with warmth. "You are lovely -- with just the right combination of sweetness and fire to serve as a perfect foil for Sarek. I hope he chooses you as his next wife."

"You do not resent the fact that I love him?"

"Of course not." Her laugh was musical. "My dear, my time with Sarek is over. I have a new life now and new duties. Wouldn't it be selfish of me to expect Sarek to live out the rest of his days without someone to give him the comfort and the companionship that he needs so much?"

Her hand tightened over mine as she recognized my confusion.

"Yes, I know. You are wondering about the Afterlife.... If only there were some way I could tell you, words that could describe.... My dear, since one can love more than once in life, surely provisions will be made for such things Beyond. Don't worry so much about what will happen in the Afterlife that you court disaster in the present. Do the best that you can each day, and that's all that is necessary."

"The - the Ambassador told me something almost like that once."

"Who do you think taught me to say it -- and to believe it? Oh, Lorna, I'm so pleased that you love my Sarek, and I hope that you will be able to win him. He'd never be content with a Vulcan wife. But, let me give you a word of advice.... If you should become his wife someday, don't ever be afraid to love him. Certainly, while you were out in public, you'd want to be more Vulcan than the natives to protect Sarek from any criticism or censure, but you have an advantage. It wouldn't be easy at times, for there is that difference between you, but I assure you that you would become the happiest of women if you married Sarek."

"I have never seriously considered the possibility, Lady Amanda. Surely you know that."

"I know, but strange things do happen at times; and, since they do, let me give you some additional advice: Never doubt your place in Sarek's heart nor begrudge him his memories of me if you do marry him. My time has ended, yours may well be just beginning."

Her lovely eyes became clouded with sorrow. "Lorna, I can never thank you enough because you have done so much to smooth the differences between Sarek and Spock. I hope that you'd continue to do your best to help Spock to learn to accept that human part of him, to - to heal him so he may find happiness as well as contentment. My blessings upon you, child."

I bowed my head to receive her blessing. When I looked up, she was gone. I no longer felt afraid as I rose and walked from the garden. A moment later the scene faded as I sank into a refreshing slumber, and no further dreams came to me during the remainder of the night.

When I awakened, it took me quite a while to get fantasy and reality sorted out. Any more dreams like that and I'll need a complete psychological rehabilitation!



Everyone was quite busy today, so I don't think anyone noticed that I was very subdued. Len gave me tasks that kept me out of the main flow of activity most of the time, and this suited me perfectly. I didn't see Sarek at all, which is just as well. After what happened yesterday, I don't think I'll ever be able to look him in the face again.

When I finally went off-duty, I was very tired, but it was more a fatigue of the soul than of the body. Once again, I put on my blue robe and combed my hair. Instead of fastening it in a braid as I usually did, I merely tied it back at the nape of my neck with a ribbon.

Even though I was tired, I wasn't sleepy, and I knew there was no use trying to fight my pillow. Nothing in the library tapes held any appeal for me, and I was certainly in no mood to go to one of the Rec. Rooms. For a moment, I considered asking Len for another one of those red pills -- anything to stop the dizzy whirl of my thoughts --but I knew that he would probably not give me any more.

My restlessness increased, and I began to pace around my quarters. I had the oddest feeling that I was supposed to go somewhere. But, where...? The Ship's Chapel? No, that wasn't it. The Briefing Room on Level Three? Good grief, no. Who would need me there?

The Observation Deck? Yes, that was it. The Observation Deck, with its portals looking out at the universe. This early, it wasn't likely that anyone else would be there. I'd go there and look out at the vastness surrounding us; maybe then my problems would dwindle to more reasonable proportions.

Once I'd thought of the Deck, my desire to go there became so strong that it was almost a compulsion. I didn't bother to change clothes. As Spock had said, my costume was proper for off-duty hours. However, from force of habit, I paused long enough to pick up my communicator before leaving my quarters.

Moving silently as a ghost, I made my way to the Observation Deck and headed for the same bench that I had occupied the previous evening.

Vulcan's triple suns were visibly closer, and I fancied that I could see a faint pinpoint of light at about the place where the planet should be.

That bright gleam was like a mocking eye, shocking me into a realization of where I was, and of what had happened here the previous night. Why had I come here, of all places? There were too many bittersweet memories. I rose, but when I turned to leave, my way was blocked by a tall figure. I gasped with mingled fear and dismay when I realized who it was.

"Did I startle you?" Sarek asked gently. For a moment, I recalled the terrifying episode on Mauretania, which had begun with those very words.

"I - I didn't hear you come in!" I moved back slightly.

"No, for I was already here." He took a step toward me.

"You - you were? But, I didn't see.... Oh!" I'd stepped back again, only to feel the edge of the bench striking against the backs of my legs so sharply that I had to sit down to keep from falling.

"I did not want you to see me." Now, he was so close that he seemed to tower over me.

That hurt! But, of course he had not wanted me to know that he was here. Not after what I had said to him.

I bent my head, partly in embarrassment but mainly to keep from seeing the disapproval that surely must be visible in his dark eyes.

"I - I wouldn't have come in if I'd know you were here.... Oh dear! That isn't what I meant to say. I - I...."

"You have no wish to disturb my evening meditations," he said quietly when he saw that I could not finish my statement. "That, I know full well. However, that is not why I have come. I have been waiting for you."

"But - but, how did you know I'd be coming here? I - I didn't decide to do so until a short time ago."

"You are here."

Well, I couldn't deny that, but I didn't have to stay. I slid down the bench toward the opposite end, intending to rise and then head for the door, but Sarek was not to be put off so easily.

"You need not leave. There is more than enough room for both of us on this Observation Deck."

So, he was going to pretend that nothing of any importance had happened here last night? Very well, I'd sit here a moment or two then remember that I was needed elsewhere.

Just then, a brilliant greenish glow erupted through the viewport behind me.

"Fascinating." Sarek commented. "Yeoman, turn and look out; one of the mysteries of the Universe awaits you."

I rose and turned. There, thousands of miles away but so brilliant that it dimmed the stars, I saw a huge comet blazing a pathway through the darkness.

"How beautiful!" I was awed by this celestial visitor. Since the attraction of a triple sun could exert an influence upon a comet even before it crossed any planetary orbits, this comet had already started to develop a tail -- no, this one had two tails, one of them reaching toward Vulcan's suns.

A similar comet had appeared in Earth's skies in the latter part of the '50's. I had read somewhere that that comet was supposed to have broken up, but it might have survived in part. It had never appeared in Earth's astronomical records again -- at least not in the form of a double-tailed comet. Was it possible that it had escaped Sol's orbit and had drifted this way? Perhaps I would be able to coax Mr. Spock into letting me set this up as a problem for the computers to keep my mind occupied after we leave Vulcan.

"How long has this particular comet been orbiting Vulcan's stars?" I was embarrassed to realize that I had spoken aloud. This was a moment for silence, not idle speculation.

Sarek's voice came from directly above and behind me, so near that I felt his warm breath against my right cheek.

"It is relatively new, for it first appeared in our skies 174.673 of your years ago."

"Can you tell me why it extends one tail of gas towards the suns?"

"That, we have never been able to determine. Apparently, magnetic forces are responsible, for there are times when the double tails do not always appear." Strangely enough, he did not quote the exact number of times. "Vulcan's skies are filled with unusual auroral displays whenever this comet does appear in the double-tailed form."

"Is that the aurora which is considered to be one of the greatest natural wonders in the Federation?" I managed to speak calmly, but I felt a weird sensation in the region of my, shoulder blades. "Mr. Spock has told me of it. It must really be something to see."

"I could almost envy you your first sight of the aurora." Sarek agreed. "It is a memorable experience."

"How I wish I could beam down to see it -- as well as some of Vulcan itself! Unfortunately, we must leave as soon as -- as soon as you beam down."

"I was not aware that you have been assigned to the Enterprise on a permanent basis."

I turned, surprised and bewildered.

"I - I haven't been."

"No? Your words imply that you are thoroughly committed to this starship."

"Shouldn't I devote my best efforts to the work that's assigned to me while I'm a member of this crew?"

"Of course."

"Very well, then," I turned back to watch the comet. "In that sense, I suppose I'm committed to the Enterprise."

"Have you given any consideration as to what you might do in the future?" Sarek persisted.

"No, sir. I have enough difficulty just keeping up with everything that's assigned to me each day. I'd probably climb the walls if I started thinking that far ahead."

"Indeed?" There was a great amount of faintly puzzled disapproval packed into that one word. "But, what if you were asked to choose between the Enterprise and -- some other field of endeavor?"

Again I turned away from the viewport and looked at him intently. As always, his features revealed nothing.

"I won't deny that the Enterprise is very important to me," I replied slowly, weighing every word carefully before I said it. "In a sense, this starship has become my home, and several members of the crew have become almost as dear to me as - as the members of my own natural family. Even so, I've learned that nothing ever stays the same. My life aboard this ship has been interesting and rewarding. I could be content if Star Fleet assigns me here permanently. On the other hand, if I'm wanted and needed somewhere else, then that is where I'll want to go."

"You have learned your lessons very well." Sarek rarely expressed verbal approval, so I felt quite gratified by this rather singular honor.

"Your son is an excellent instructor, sir."

"Of course. It is unfortunate that he has not been informed that the Enterprise has entered this comet's orbit."

"Perhaps we should tell him. Shall I contact Lieutenant Uhura and ask her to locate him?" I turned toward the wall unit.

"It is not necessary; the comet is traveling on a path closely matching ours, so he will have ample time to see it. But, your concern is appropriate, Lorna."

He paused for a moment, then he startled me by switching to a most unexpected subject.

"Do you happen to know whether either of your parents possessed the gift of precognition?"

"Not that I know of, sir."

"Then they were wiser than they knew when they chose your name."

"W-what do you mean, sir?"

"I have had reason to study names and their meanings. Are you aware that your name means 'one who is forsaken, lost, or forlorn'?"

"Yes. However, I do not consider those terms applicable to my present way of life."

"You do not? There have been times, especially when the others were speaking of their home-worlds, when you have appeared to be quite lonely."

"Well, yes, at those times, I have felt sort of lost and alone. After all, my home-world vanished centuries ago -- or, at least, the Earth that I knew no longer exists."

"Do you miss it?"

"I miss the feeling of planetary soil beneath my feet and the sight of a sky over my head once in a while. I certainly don't miss the noise and the clutter of my former world. I - I think it's the sense of belonging somewhere that I miss more than anything else."

"You have a new home-world now." He indicated the band, which encircled my left wrist.

"The memory of my encounter with the tarlud will always keep me from feeling at home on Mauretania. Besides," I continued bitterly, "I wasn't qualified to remain there -- even though I'd been granted honorary citizenship. I don't suppose I'll meet the requirements for any of the other Federation worlds either. More than likely, I'll have to be sent to some world that is at or near the 20th Century level of development.... Dear Heaven. How can I go back to that, now that I have experienced the wonders and the freedoms of this era?"

"You cannot. However, there is a third possibility. Come to Vulcan --with me."

Common sense could not quell the sudden flames of hope, which burned in my heart, but it did enable me to frame a cautious reply.

"And, how would that solve my problem?"

"It is the only realistic alternative. Vulcan provides the proper environment which will enable you to develop your unique mental abilities to their highest potential."

So much for all my hopes and my dreams! Yet, it was no more than I had expected.

I could almost feel my heart turning to ice within my breast, and my voice was equally cold when I finally answered him:

"Your invitation is most generous, Ambassador, and I appreciate it.... However, I must refuse."

"May I ask why?"

"Will you let me be perfectly honest with you?"

"Ever -- and always. Logic would indicate...."

"'Logic!' That's your answer to everything, isn't it, Ambassador? Since logic is so important to you, surely you will agree that remaining aboard the Enterprise would be the most logical thing for me to do. Mr. Spook can instruct me in the techniques of mind control and can also teach me to develop my mental powers as well as could anyone on Vulcan. Besides, he has learned to endure the more exasperating forms of human behavior. Your people would discourage the characteristics in my nature, which are the very breath of life to me. How could I possibly learn to obey Vulcan rules and customs?"

"You have already adapted, very well, to many of them."

Have I? Well, I'm afraid that I couldn't succeed if I tried to do it on a full-time basis. How could I ever find a place for myself on Vulcan? As an emotional being, I would truly be a 'misfit' there."

"I have told you that there is a place for you on Vulcan -- with me."

Odd, that was the second time he had stressed those particular words.

"Nonsense. I haven't learned nearly enough to become a member of your Diplomatic Corps," I replied recklessly. "And - and you already have more than enough secretaries -- if you're like most ambassadors."


"I am beginning to feel very annoyed every time I hear that word. I wish I dared tell you exactly what I think of your confounded logic."

"You are welcome to try," he said with a calmness that infuriated me beyond all caution.

"All right, I will," I exploded. "Ambassador, logic may be the most important facet of Vulcan's culture, but it doesn't keep your people from making mistakes. Even logic, itself, isn't perfect. In my former time, the Air Force made a very memorable comment about logic. That comment stated that, from the logical point of view, a bumblebee -- er, do you know what that is?" He nodded. "A bumblebee shouldn't be able to fly, but he doesn't know that, and he's been doing a pretty good job of flying ever since the model first came out."

"Interesting," he commented, lifting one eyebrow when I paused to catch my breath. "Are you finished?"

"No, Ambassador, I'm not. In many respects, the Vulcan philosophies are better than the human ways but -- we Terrans are so prone to paradoxes and inconsistencies that it's almost impossible for us to even try to follow the pathway that your people have chosen. If we humans could learn to rely almost entirely upon logic, we'd ruin it all by being proud of ourselves for learning to do it. Your own son was teased unmercifully when he was a child -- merely because he was 'different.' How much worse would that teasing be if I went to Vulcan and then continued to make the same type of errors, or worse, that I have been making here on the ship? I - I would be a constant source of embarrassment to you."

"I do not follow your reasoning. Why are you so convinced that you could not adapt to the Vulcan way?"

"If a Vulcan looks at a fire and is asked to describe it, he will list its exact chemical properties and will describe the flame as the end product of a rapid form of oxidation. If I looked at that same flame, I would describe its colors and the forms that it took and would forget the rest. I have been studying your language. You have words for 'duty,' and for 'responsibility,' and for what we call 'obligation.' However, I've found nothing that can be interpreted as words for 'tenderness,' 'affection,' and -- 'love.' If those things would be denied to me, I would be miserable. Oh Sarek, I cannot allow logic to rule me. I would exist, but without emotions, I could not really live."

Knowing that I'd said more than enough, I forced myself to become silent, and I felt myself trembling as I waited for his facile logic to rip my argument to pieces.

"Where did you find the courage to speak those words to me?"

"You - you have never hesitated to speak frankly to me whenever I've needed it; should I deny you the same privilege?"

"Indeed, you were most frank," he replied smoothly.

I looked up, apprehensive because I had seemed to detect a note of steel in his tone. Had I made him angry again? No, apparently not. Sarek's eyes were very bright, but his voice was without inflection when he held out his hand and made a very simple request.

"The wall unit on this Deck is apparently defective. I assume that your personal unit is operational."

"Why, hasn't anyone come up here to fix that yet? Maybe I'd better look at it again." I started to turn toward the wall unit, but he refused to move out of my way.

"That will not be necessary. Give me your communicator," he insisted.

Trust a Vulcan to make a fuss about wasting a few seconds. I thought angrily as I lifted the communicator from the bench where I had left it and then laid it in his outstretched hand.

He looked at the communicator for a moment, then he casually dropped it to the floor and smashed it with his heel.

A chill of apprehension surged through my veins as I stared down at the shattered remnants of my communicator.

"What...? Why....?" I stammered.

"Unless someone decides to come down to inspect a shuttlecraft, and I am confident that such an event is highly unlikely at this hour, there will be no interruptions -- this time."

Though Sarek's voice was still gentle, there was a subtle difference in his tone, which drew my gaze upwards to meet his once more.

"Not again!" I protested. "Oh, Sarek, you said that I could express my opinions. It - it isn't fair for you to become angry. I certainly meant no offense...."

My voice trailed away into silence when I realized that the air seemed to be crackling with danger the way that it had the day before. I felt a sudden yearning to experience again those fleeting moments in his arms. No! I must not allow myself to be conquered by my own weaknesses.

Immediately, I thought of running from the Deck, but he was standing directly between me, and the doorway leading to the inner corridor. The only other way out was through the Hangar Deck, and it wasn't pressurized.

He took a step toward me. I retreated, but his hand flashed out before I could go very far. The next moment, he was untying the ribbon, which confined my hair.

My hair tumbled over my shoulders, placing me at a distinct disadvantage, and I reached up to stop it. The ribbon was still hanging at the back of my neck. Instinctively, I picked it up and started to tie my hair back again.

"You are wasting your energy," he warned me, speaking almost casually.

I paused, my hands still holding the ends of the ribbon as I looked up at him.

"Untie that ribbon and give it to me." He held out his hand.

I hesitated, but knew that it would be wiser to obey. I pulled the ribbon loose and placed it in his outstretched hand, and it didn't surprise me to see him drop it to the floor near the ruins of my poor communicator.

"Now, perhaps it will be possible for me to speak to Lorna Mitchell, the woman, instead of to Lorna Mitchell, Honorary Yeoman of the starship USS Enterprise."

I now have a very good idea of how a knight challenged when he was not wearing his armor must have felt.

"This is the first time that I have seen you wearing truly feminine garments. That robe is very becoming to you."

"Th-thank you." I was uneasy. As a rule, Vulcans did not waste time conversing about garments. "However, this is hardly suitable. I really should return to my quarters and...."

"...hide there for the rest of the evening?" He countered with uncharacteristic swiftness.

Confound it! At times, Sarek was too perceptive.

I looked up at him, intending to deny that I had consciously entertained such notions, but I could not speak. He seemed to be poised like some graceful hawk, waiting for the right moment to take wing, then I felt my apprehension changing to fear when I saw his face. His features had assumed an absolutely satanic expression. And was I imagining the hint of a smile visible upon his lips?

Too frightened by now to even try to think clearly, I kept retreating. Unfortunately, a divider that shielded some of the machinery on the Deck was behind me. Before I could move away from that divider, Sarek closed the distance between us then grasped the mesh on either side of me -- trapping me most effectively.

"You are not to attempt to flee from me again. Do you understand?"

"Let - let me go!"

"Do you understand?" He insisted.

"Yes! I understand. Now, will you please let me go?"

"Give me your word that you will not try to flee when I release this mesh." Sarek demanded. "Otherwise, I am prepared to keep you there for the remainder of the night."

With that fantastic Vulcan strength of his, he could do it, too.

"All - all right, you win."

"Your word?"

"You - you've got it."

He released his hold upon the mesh. But, just as though he expected me to attempt to run as soon as he did let me go, he continued to block my way.

"Sarek, please," I demanded. "I - I gave you my word!"

"And I know you are a woman of integrity. However, it would be unwise of me to trust you implicitly at this moment, for you would break your word to me if you thought it would be in my best interests to do so. Now, tell me: How long, after you resign from your post, will it take you to gather and to pack the few possessions that you have, accumulated?"

"'Resign'? Why? I'm not going anywhere."

"You are going to Vulcan."

"And I have told you that I shall not, for my natural human emotions would be regarded with disfavor there. Your people would expect me to forsake those emotions, and I assure you that I'd refuse to do it. Surely you can visualize the difficulties that refusal would create?"

"You will not be asked to forsake your emotions." His hand tightened upon my wrist enough to make me turn to face him. "You will bring them with you, to enrich our lives."

I closed my eyes, concentrating against a sudden desire to go with him -- to accept whatever crumbs of attention he might cast my way. After a moment, my pride regained the upper hand, and I sought to free my wrist from his gentle, but unyielding clasp.

"Sarek," I pleaded finally, my voice shaking in spite of my efforts to control it. "Why won't you let me go? If - if you were trying to - to scare me, you've succeeded."

"Are you afraid of me -- or of your own guilty conscience?"

His dark gaze met mine squarely, and that weird chilling sensation started to make its presence known between my shoulder blades again. With every passing moment, the satanic cast of his features was becoming more pronounced.

"Y-yes, my conscience has been nagging me," I said, hoping to divert his attention. "I know that I must apologize...."

"I shall accept no apology from you." The words were like sharp blows, and he released my wrist.

"T-then, what's the use in saying anything more?" I faltered as I turned away, totally crushed in spirit. So, I had been right. I'd hurt him so deeply that he couldn't bring himself to forgive me.

There was a moment of complete silence.

"I agree. The time for words has passed."

First, I heard his footsteps, then I saw his shadow gliding over the floor near me. Closing my eyes quickly so I would not be able to see him leaving, I clenched my teeth. I would not begin crying until after he was gone.

Suddenly, powerful arms enfolded me in an unyielding embrace, and my involuntary cry of protest was smothered as Sarek's firm warm mouth closed over mine in a kiss so devastating that the memory of even Captain Kirk's kisses seemed quite pallid by comparison.

My heart began to beat so fast that it actually hurt me, and I nearly responded until I remembered how vulnerable my thoughts would become if I did. I struggled to get free. Though Sarek took great care not to hurt me, he immediately tightened his arms until I was held motionless. I then tried to turn my head, but he lifted one hand to the back of my head and held it immovable while he prolonged the kiss until my blood began to throb in my ears as I tried to catch my breath. Then, and only then, he lifted his head and looked down at me, his eyes gleaming brilliantly.

"I - I guess I had that coming," I gasped as I put both hands against his strong chest and tried vainly to break away from him.

"Yes. You should not have broken your word to me." His arms began to tighten slowly.

"I - I haven't broken my word to you, I - I didn't try to run...."

"No? I asked you to remain here while I was speaking with T'Pau."

"Th-That? Well...I never said that I would stay."

"You never said that you would not," he parried, and that hint of a smile upon his lips became more definite.

"Now, which one of us is being illogical?" I winced as the emblem upon his tunic pressed sharply into my flesh.

"When one is dealing with a Terran female, it is often necessary to employ illogical measures," he said with infuriating reasonableness. However, he did ease the pressure of his arms enough that the emblem no longer touched me. "You represent a very interesting problem, Lorna. You have said that you may be able to exist without the emotion of 'love,' but that you could not live without it. Have you never paused to consider that, although I would choose a different term to describe the situation, your statement is quite valid -- for me, as well as for you?"

That was definitely an unanswerable question, but he expected an answer.

"I -- don't understand," I finally stammered, thoroughly frightened by Sarek's totally un-Vulcan-like behavior.

"If you cannot understand my words, perhaps you will be able to understand -- this." And he kissed me again. It took every ounce of self-control to keep from responding and to hold myself rigid in his arms, but I managed to do both.

Again, he held me slightly away from him. His gaze was so intent, so soul-searching, that I couldn't endure it, and I closed my eyes. When I felt a slight tremor in the arms imprisoning me, I remembered what Spock had told me about the Vulcan biological cycle.

No! Not this way. Not because, he's driven by forces too powerful for him to control.

"And after this Pon Farr which has come over you has ended -- what then, Sarek?" I forced sternness into my face and indifference into my voice.

He lifted one eyebrow, visibly surprised.

"I had not anticipated that Spock would tell you of that so soon. No matter, for you have a right to know. I assure you, Lorna, that I am not experiencing Pon Farr. My blood is not flame, nor do my eyes or my heart blaze with the blood-fever."

"Then - then, you must have fallen victim to some sort of disease while you were on Mauretania. Why else would you act like this?"

"No. I am well." There was definitely a softness, a great tenderness in his voice. "Is this how it must be, Lorna? Must I come the entire way? Very well. Look at me --- please. Good. No. Continue to look at me. Now, listen, and believe...."

He paused, and I could sense that he was experiencing a great inner conflict. Then, as though some final barrier had been shattered:

"Lorna, I -- love you."

I couldn't believe that I had just heard him speak those words.

I just couldn't! Either I'd gone mad, or else I was asleep and was dreaming again.

"Why are your eyes filled with surprise and apprehension? There is no reason for you to be afraid, Lorna. I am merely asking you to give me the right to refer to you as -- 'she who is my wife.' Give me the right to stand at your side, to help you and to shield you from all harm."

I was digging my fingernails into my right palm, which lay clenched against his chest, and I felt pain. Then, I wasn't dreaming, and there could be only one logical reason for his proposal.... Even though he'd denied it, he did consider himself obligated to me.

"Don't ruin your life because you think that you're responsible for me, Sarek. I don't want your pity."

"What do you want from me? My love? I have just told you...."

"But you are a Vulcan." Again I tried to free myself from the unyielding clasp of his arms, and again I didn't succeed. "You can't love...."

"I was capable of loving Amanda," he stated flatly.

"Amanda was such a wonderful woman, such a special person, that not even a Vulcan could resist her," I protested. "You - you couldn't love anyone like me -- especially not this soon after her death."

"Naturally, I shall never forget Amanda, nor the love that we shared. Yet, no matter how deeply one is affected when those whom one loves dies, life must continue. Amanda knew this. We both agreed that, if Death parted us, the surviving partner should not remain bonded to a memory."

"Sarek, you mustn't tell me these things."

"No? I assure you, I would speak these words only to the woman that I have chosen for my consort."

"That - that can't be possible. That you've chosen me, I mean. Only a few days ago, you were wanting to die so you could be reunited with Amanda. Do Vulcans change their loyalties that rapidly?"

"Take care; I have warned you about making reckless statements." His dark eyes glinted down at me. "You have misinterpreted my reasons for that death wish. I was so ill and so injured it was impossible for me to heal myself. Therefore, it was reasonable to die and to join Amanda rather than to live on as a burden to my son and to my government. Yet, when my strength was at its lowest ebb, I felt someone clasping my hands in an attempt to share her strength with me. I heard a voice whispering within the depths of my mind, telling me that she would continue to help me until an antidote could be found. Her voice held back the dark loneliness, which had taken possession of me. Eventually, I became strong enough to open my eyes, and I saw your face bending over me. When you tried to release my hands, I -- could not let you leave me. I thought at the time that it was because I had decided to live. I know now, that it was more."

"Sarek, how can you expect me to believe you? I...."

He took his arms from around me then, but put his strong hands upon my arms as though he wanted to keep me close.

"I expect you to believe me because I speak the truth. Do not let my memories of Amanda become a barrier between us."

"They will be. They are. I could never be like her." I stopped, wondering if I'd already said too much.

"I do not want a shadow-wife -- a second Amanda. I have chosen you." There was no mistaking his emphasis upon that final word, apparently spoken in a definite effort to reassure rue.

"Why would you want me? What contributions can I make to your world?"

"Do you expect me to believe that you consider your great courage, your boundless sense of compassion and understanding, your abilities to break through the barriers of communication all as worthless?"

Still afraid that he was saying this only because he felt that it would be "logical" to marry me because of the obligations between us, I foolishly put my hands over my ears to shut out that musically beautiful voice before it could bewitch me into agreeing. Catching my hands, he brought them down and clasped them in a hold that was more caress than restraint.

"Let us have done with this constant explaining and evasion, Lorna. Tell me that you care nothing for me, that the thought of marriage to me does not interest you, and I shall speak of it no more."

My eyes wavered before his steady gaze, and my voice simply would not allow me to speak the words that would send him away forever.

"Lorna, I am waiting."

I closed my eyes and shook my head.

"Your continued silence serves no purpose. Must I learn the truth another way?" He asked relentlessly.

I thought he was only bluffing again; maybe he was, but even a Vulcan's patience can be exhausted. When I felt his fingers brush against my right temple, I yielded to instant panic.

"No! Not that." Somehow, I managed to get away from him and I rushed toward the outer door. Sarek moved swiftly and intercepted me before I could take more than a couple of steps.

"You will not leave, nor shall I until we have settled this matter, Lorna," he warned me -- a note of unswerving determination in his tones.

I looked about desperately, but no new exit had appeared out of thin air to enable me to escape from this final reckoning. At last, I turned my back to him and hid my face in my hands.

"That is no answer, Lorna. Why do you persist in behaving in such an unseemly manner?"

"Sarek, please. You can't expect a terrified woman to remain calm."

"Why should you be afraid to answer my questions?"

"I - I have answered you, but you keep on disagreeing with everything that I say."

"And I shall continue to do so until you are ready to answer me with complete honesty."

"I - I've done that.'"

"No, not with complete honesty. You have said that you thought I must be ill. You have expressed doubt of your suitability for me. Not once, however, have you spoken of your own wishes."

"They have no bearing upon the matter. After all, I've been warned repeatedly that Vulcans...."

"' by logic alone'." He startled me by taking up the quotation. 'It is almost impossible for Vulcans to express the emotion of love.' That is true. However, I am confident that you were told to notice the word 'almost.' Have I not demonstrated that there are exceptions to every rule?"

I dropped my clenched fists to my sides, but I did not reply.

"Lorna, I demand that you turn to face me, and I command you to answer me."

That merely aroused my stubbornness. I was no mere chattel content to obey him without a murmur. Therefore, I shook my head and kept my back turned to him merely to show him that he couldn't order me around.

There was a piece of highly polished metal on the wall in front of me, which enabled me to see Sarek's reflection. He wouldn't be able to approach me without my being aware of it. However, he didn't move; he merely stood with his arms folded across his chest, watching me.

After a few moments, I began to feel very foolish. He was right. My silence was unreasonable. Yet, if I turned and tried to answer him, I would surely say or do the wrong thing.


The word rang through my mind, almost like a voice. How can I? I've hurt him so deeply -- I've forced him to abandon his very heritage.... He has made the first move, as I wished, but my childishness has surely spoiled everything. He will be so disgusted.... If only he hadn't spoken of love.... Such loneliness and yearning -- why can't I control my feelings? But, wait -- it isn't just mine.... Dear Heaven. Is - is it his? Is he projecting his innermost feelings...? Can it be...? Oh, I know I may be building, myself up to be hurt, but I want to believe....

My desire to turn and face him had now taken on the force of a compulsion, much like the one that had brought me to the Observation Deck earlier. I couldn't resist and turned slowly. Sarek's dark eyes met mine in a gaze so mesmeric that I couldn't even try to look away.

Though I'd known the mind-touch on Aries XI had influenced me to develop many Vulcan mannerisms, I'd not been aware that there had been other effects --- until now. Sarek could not read my thoughts through my automatic shielding; however, he could project suggestions into my mind and could influence me to obey him, when that which he wanted me to do, was the same thing that I wished.

"You have been very patient with me." I said softly. "More than I deserve. When you asked if you must learn the truth another way, were you referring to the mind-meld? I agree that it would certainly be a reasonable way to solve this impasse."

"Yes, Lorna. Come."

I approached him swiftly. When he laid his hands upon my shoulders, I braced myself for what I feared I would learn -- that he had spoken of love only because he knew it would help me to face and to accept the logic of this situation....

Slowly, gently, his hands moved upwards to touch my face then settled into the thought-reading, thought-sharing patterns. This time, I experienced no sudden shock of mental force, merely a gentle touch against the surface of my mind. Though I wanted to cooperate, my thoughts retreated involuntarily. But Sarek gently, ruthlessly pursued those thoughts.

//Loneliness.... Uncertainty.... Sarek, you can't want me. I'd destroy your whole way, of life...//

//Peace.... Your thoughts flutter like frightened silver birds.... You are thinking only of what others have told you, nothing of what I have just been telling you.... You were so sure that I could not accept or understand your love...? You were so accustomed to resigning yourself to denial that you cannot believe the truth...? Let go.... Allow me to guide you.... Open your mind to mine.... Let our thoughts touch....//

Just when I trembled upon the brink of total disassociation, something seemed to snap within my mind, like a chain at its weakest link, and -- except for levels too deeply personal to share, even with each other yet -- our minds became as one.

//One mind.... Alone no more.... Sharing.... Being together.... Understanding.... Accepting.... Only Heaven could bring more joy....//

//One mind.... We are together.... You are too humble, Lorna.... But your doubts and your fears are vanishing.... Now you know the truth.... I am Vulcan, yes.... But Vulcans accept love. Knowing that there is another who is one with us.... Indeed, that is important to us as well.... Doubt no longer, Lorna -- I do love you....

Sarek's arms slipped about me to support me during our mental communion, then his lips touched mine to enhance the mental bond and to seal what his thoughts were telling me. I didn't pretend indifference to his kiss -- I couldn't. He altered the pressure of his mouth against mine in a subtle fashion, which aroused a feeling of intense pleasure. My senses reeled, and my knees became so weak that I would have fallen if he hadn't been holding me, but I wasn't so dizzy that I didn't know when my hands traveled upwards over his chest and locked behind his head.

Even as I yielded to the joy of Sarek's kiss, I could not help comparing the great difference between this kiss and the ones that I had shared with Len and with Jim. Sarek was kissing me because he loved me, because he knew it would please me. Since he was not in the grip of the Pon Farr, his kisses weren't just signals of desire. This kiss was much more --a promise of all that love should be and could be: two individuals combining their strengths and their weaknesses in order to face life together.

Tenderness? Gentleness? Love? Yes, all these were in his kiss, but it was complete in itself. Of course, we would be husband and wife in every full meaning of those words, but our marriage would be based upon far more than a mere physical need. If Amanda's marriage had been like what this moment indicated, then it was no wonder that she had been so happy.

I'd often heard married women at the telephone office say that they wished they could know what it would be like to have their husbands kiss them just because they loved them, not mainly because they wanted sex. It seems ironic that I should be the one to find out what such a kiss is like. The wonder and the joy of it cannot be described with mere words.

Eventually, Sarek released me. I looked up at him and found that the stern, unapproachable Vulcan Ambassador had gone. Instead, Sarek's eyes were shining with tender affection, and the austere cast of his features was softened by a definite smile. A small one, but a real one.

He saw my surprise and became very serious for a moment, as though he were embarrassed that he had departed from the traditional Vulcan mode of conduct, then he smiled again.

"Sarek. Did our vigil on Aries XI create a change within your own personality, too? Or, has some malady truly overcome you?" I laughed. "If so, I hope you never get well."

"For the second time, you have laughed in my presence. The sound falls pleasantly upon my ears. May you always find reason to laugh in our home. I understand now that you were going to let me return to Vulcan alone because you wanted what was 'best' for me. You must never forget that what is 'best' for me is you."

The sudden transition from the darkness of despair to the radiance of joy had suddenly become more than my strained nerves could stand. I began to tremble so hard that my teeth actually chattered. I fought to keep from crying, but it didn't do any good. My head dropped forward against Sarek's chest, and hot tears blinded me.

I heard him murmur something, then I felt him lift me. He crossed the room and put me down on one of the benches, then he sat beside me and held me.

When my emotional storm subsided, I realized that the smooth fabric beneath my cheek was damp with tears, and I was ashamed of my lack of control. I started to sit up, ready to apologize, but he tightened his arms.


For once, there was no conflict. What I wanted to do and what I should do were finally one and the same.

"Lorna Mitchell." Sarek reverted to the formal style of speech, which Vulcans favored during momentous occasions. "Art thou now calm?"

"Yes," I assumed the same style with little difficulty. "But I must offer my apologies."


"For two offenses. A few minutes ago, I all but called you a liar when I doubted your reasons for wishing to marry me. Also, I've so allowed my emotions to assume control of me that I've wept in your presence. A Vulcan woman would never do such things."

"No apology has been requested for thy tears. None should be given. As for the other. Though they were based upon human reasoning, thy motives were prompted by concern for my well being. We will speak no more of it -- and thee will not allow it to reside in thy thoughts to trouble thee. Now, stand before me, for I have much to say to thee."

I obeyed without question, but I looked at him apprehensively when he rose and put several feet of distance between us before he turned.

Oh no! He was once more the stern, austere Vulcan I had first met. What was the reason for this sudden change? Did it have something to do with that part of his mind he had kept from me?

"You have finally been completely honest with me. Now, I must be the same with you before we speak the final words." His eyes became shadowed with great pain. "Indeed, I have been illogical and I have not been fair to you. I should have told you this before you revealed what was in your heart. However, you refused to listen to reason, and you were so positive that you had to leave me that I had to stop you -- in the manner which would be most meaningful to you. Lorna, you are aware that I kept part of my mind shielded from you just now. I must reveal important facts, which may prompt you to change your mind...."

"Sarek," I interrupted boldly. "I already know that you can no longer father a child in the natural manner."

"How could you know?" He was shocked, and he was unable to conceal that shock. "No one aboard this starship, except Doctor McCoy, knew of it. Did he tell you?"

"No. I learned of it accidentally on Aries XI, but I managed to keep the details from filtering into my mind. I am sorry."

"No matter. It is right that you should know." He sighed. "I fell victim to the same fever which claimed Amanda. When I recovered, I was informed that I had become sterile. A Vulcan woman rejects a male who is unable to give her a natural child -- even if he has made his contribution to the gene banks...."

"But I am not a Vulcan woman. This is not the tragedy to me that it would be to one of your own people. Of course, if it were possible, I'd be proud to give you a child born directly of our love. However, I understand the difficulties involved. Spock was born and survived, but records state that he was only one of a small number of such babies born on your world and that few of the others survived. It would be very difficult to suffer such a loss. However, if you would want a child, I am sure that the Science Academy would be able to manage it. If not.... Well, we have a fine son already. Also, since Doctor McCoy has told me that my empathic power's mainly acquired and can't be passed on, I am under no obligation to bear children. Perhaps it's better that way. Spock is unique -- maybe there shouldn't be any more like him until all human have matured enough to truly accept such individuals. Remember also, Sarek; if I'd gone back to 1969, many individuals who are now living might never have been born, and other lives might have been changed for the worst. Therefore, in a manner of speaking, I already have 'given life' to all the children I could possibly want."

"Will you still be able to say that in the years to come -- and mean it?"

"With you as my instructor, could I do otherwise?" This was no moment to refuse to speak freely of my emotions. "Ah, Sarek! Don't you know that if I have you, then I shall have -- everything?"

"You are unique among women. If I do not assure myself of the right to call you 'she who is my wife,' then I shall truly deserve the title of 'fool'."

He held out his hand -- first and second fingers extended. "I ask thee only once -- wilt thou confirm our bonding?"

I had studied Vulcan customs and rituals, Spock had made sure I would know a few, so I knew something of what Sarek was asking. If I took the first step in this, there would be no way I could turn back. But -- I had no desire to turn back.

Without hesitation, I went to him and joined my fingers to his, then I bent my head in a brief gesture of acceptance before I looked up again.

Gazing intently into my eyes, he spoke: "Choosing and chosen; deciding and accepting; wilt thou allow me to claim thee from now until the Final Moment of our lives together?"

"I have been chosen by thee," I replied softly, speaking the Vulcan words as he guided me. "I acknowledge thy claim upon me. Thus it ever shall be, from now until the Final Moment of my life. And -- if the Almighty Father wills it, even into the Life Beyond."

His hand trembled slightly against mine, but he remained impassive as he continued:

"From henceforth, who shall reign first in thy heart and in thy spirit?"

"Only the Almighty Father has a higher place than thee -- chosen and choosing."

"It is well that this be so. Thou shalt now be known as my wife, and thou shalt share my property and my name."

“Even as it was in the beginning, let it be so now."

And, as the words crossed my lips, I experienced briefly the peace of assurance that Vulcans share at this time, but even my empathic powers couldn't enable me to hold on to that feeling.

That is all I shall say about the experience. It is too deeply personal.

After a moment, Sarek reached behind him to take something from its resting place beneath his tunic.

"Hold out thy left hand."

When I obeyed, he slipped a ring onto my third finger.

"Wear this as visible proof of the pledge made between us," he said very quietly. I was too surprised to speak, but his eyes gleamed with tenderness as he released my hand.

"Giving a ring was a part of the Terran betrothal rites where you once lived, is it not? Must I remind you again that it is just as fitting for me to respect the customs of your world as it is for you to respect the customs of mine?"

"You have honored me more than I could ever have dared dream," I said brokenly as I studied the ring. It was exquisite -- a combination of the same white and gold metals used to form the Idic, with a clear gemstone, but the very simple, esthetically-pleasing design was quite different in shape. I could not help wondering if this ring had been Amanda's, then I angrily thrust the unworthy thought from my mind.

But Sarek's great sensitivity and understanding, especially now that we'd made our vows, made it easier for him to know that I was troubled and to understand why.

"This ring was made especially for you by one of the most skilled craftsmen on Mauretania."

"On...Mauretania? Are - are you saying that - that even then you were considering selecting me?"

"I knew the Terran custom of presenting a gift to someone who has been of great service, and a ring is a symbol of unending friendship. If you had never come to love me, it would still have been yours. But I think you are not really interested in the ring as such -- you really wish to know when I first began to love you."

"It is a weakness of the Terran female to desire such knowledge."

"It is knowledge I cannot give you, for I am uncertain as to the exact moment that you became my choice. When we first met, I found you to be so shy and so confused, yet so courageous that I felt a most illogical wish to clasp your hand and tell you that I would help you. The seven days that we spent journeying to Mauretania enabled me to learn much about you, and I soon knew that Amanda would have wanted me to choose someone very like you if she could have had any say in the matter. Even then, I attempted to ignore the bond that was forming between us. Yet, when you wanted to die instead of letting me help you, I was forced to admit that I wanted you for my wife."

"So - long - ago?" I was dangerously close to anger but controlled myself with an effort. "Oh, Sarek, I've been suffering the agonies of the damned because I thought you were totally indifferent to me. And, all the time, you....? Why did you shield that part of your mind from me? It was cruel."

"Not 'cruel,' merely necessary. You did not have enough self-confidence to accept such knowledge then. You had to have time to adapt to this new era -- to determine what you really wanted, to grow in wisdom and in understanding."

"I suppose you were right, for, even after all this time, I was still quite difficult. But, Sarek, what would you have done if I had fallen in love with someone else?"

"I would have stepped aside. However, it would seem that you have had ample opportunity to make comparisons before choosing me. Have I pledged myself to marry a most enticing female? Already, Spock gives you the regard that is due a stepmother. That is well, but what of the others? The Doctor treats you paternally, though he did give you your first kiss. However, I sensed a deep feeling for Captain Kirk, and a similar feeling for Doctor McCoy."

"I'm sorry that you read those memories if they have caused you to feel concern, my love." I said contritely. "But the deep feeling I have for Len and Jim is the love that a human feels for a friend who has provided comfort and strength in a time of great distress. There is nothing more -- neither with Jim nor with Len. I always knew that I was not right for either of them and, once I admitted my love for you, there was room for no one else."

"As it should be."

"Sarek, please don't be angry with me. I know," I continued when he raised his brow and started to speak. "Vulcans don't get angry; so I'll say -- please don't instruct me in my need for more reasonable behavior. Spock has honored me by giving me a reverence that is similar to that which he gave his mother. As for the others.... Surely you could not expect an unmarried human female to live aboard this starship and avoid being kissed by some of the eligible human bachelors aboard? Ah, Sarek, what do a few kisses matter? They are not important. You are the one who has always owned my heart." It was then that I learned he had been teasing me in Vulcan fashion, as well as giving me a demonstration of the possessiveness Vulcan men can display toward their females. However, his response to my final question was very Terran. At last, he spoke one word:


"How long does it take to fulfill the legal requirements for a marriage on Vulcan?"

"Everything that needs to be done there has been completed," he informed me coolly. "I merely need send confirmation. I anticipate, however, that you will want the Captain to perform a wedding ceremony before we leave the Enterprise."

"Then, Uhura must have known all along?"

"No. The Captain allowed me to 'patch in' communications from my quarters directly to her console. She merely transmitted my messages; she could not understand them."

"And you were making preparations without knowing...? You were very sure of your powers of persuasion, weren't you?"

He must have sensed that I was feeling unreasonably hurt, for he indicated the bench and took his place beside me before he made reply.

"Would it have been wise to wait until the last minute and then find that innumerable obstacles would delay our marriage and prevent the Enterprise from remaining near Vulcan until it could take place? It is fitting that you should be married according to the laws of your world before you accompany me to Vulcan, and the arrangements for both ceremonies could not be made in a short time."

"Of - of course." I couldn't prevent the tone of sorrow that had crept into my voice. It upset me to know that I would gain my heart's desire only by leaving the Enterprise, and three very special friends, even though I admit it is selfish of me to want both. Perhaps my selfishness was being generated by a form of fear. I would soon be living on a planet that would be somewhat hostile to me environmentally until I could adjust to it -- and hostile to me personally for an even longer time to come. I wondered if I had enough courage to meet the challenge without the help of my friends.

Again, Sarek knew.

"Once more, you are asked to leave everything that has become familiar to you." He touched the ring that graced my hand. "But you will not be totally alone on Vulcan. There are others among my people who have chosen Terran consorts. My people may regard you with caution at first, but your empathic talents will help you to earn their approval. It will be difficult for you to leave the Enterprise, I know, but you are not leaving it permanently. I prefer it for my off-world missions whenever it is available. In addition...."

"'In addition'?" I prompted when he became silent.

"There are final details which require immediate attention," he said. "We should contact Captain Kirk."

Which being interpreted meant that it was time we left here and got busy with what had to be done. I didn't want to leave, but I knew he was right. But when I started to rise, Sarek lifted his hand in a gesture that indicated I should remain where I was.

"We do not need to leave."

"How else can we reach the Captain?"

"I requested a conference with the Senior Officers earlier today. During that conference, we, determined that it will be possible for you to communicate mentally with Doctor McCoy, Captain Kirk, and even my son over immeasurable distances, merely by concentrating your empathic powers. They agreed to participate in such an experiment this evening. Try to contact them now."

I did, reaching out mentally to the Senior Officers, visualizing them as though I were speaking to them face to face. Soon I felt their individual responses.

//Where are you?//

//On the Observation Deck.//

//May I come?// they each asked.

//Come, and be welcome.//

/Coming.// they each replied, but it was all done much faster than I can tell it.

While we waited, I stared down at the lovely ring, half-afraid that I might awaken suddenly and find that all this had been a dream.

At last, the doorway slid open, and the Senior Officers entered.

"Well, Bones," Jim was saying as he came in, "the experiment seems to be a success...." He saw my ring, his eyes widened, and he stared at Sarek, who was rising from his seat on the bench beside me.

I started to rise as well, but Jim signalled me to remain seated.

"Lorna, darlin'." Len demanded. "Is that ring what I hope it is?"

I nodded, unable to speak through the knot that had suddenly formed in my throat.

Sarek was once more the austere and aloof Vulcan. He had -- unbent as much as was possible for him to do in public. Merely by being found sitting beside me when these men had come in, he'd revealed his commitment to me. I felt a warm glow in my heart, for I knew how hard it must have been for him to do this for my sake.

"Have you no questions to ask, Mr. Spock?" I confronted the saturnine First Officer.

"None whatsoever. I knew that my father had chosen you."

"Don't you mean that you 'hoped' he would choose me?"

"No, Lorna." Sarek intervened calmly. "Spock did know that I had chosen you. An unmarried Vulcan male never listens to the Talamane in the company of an unmarried female -- unless he has decided that she is the one most suited to be his consort."

"Oh, Spock. I suppose Sarek demanded that you not tell me...but, couldn't you have given me a hint?"

"I tried, but you refused to understand."

"Poor Spock. I refused to let you say anything to Sarek. Sarek refused to let you say anything to me.... We've really been putting you through the wringer."

All of them looked at me in bewilderment, and I smiled ruefully. "Never mind. That's just another one of those odd phrases that I brought with me. I'm sorry that I gave you so much difficulty, Mr. Spock. But, Sarek, why...? Of course, 'it was necessary'."

"Yes. As I have said, you had to have every opportunity to gain the training and the knowledge which the facilities of the Enterprise could give you -- without allowing emotional factors to cloud the issue any more than was necessary." Sarek's eyes were filled with secret amusement as he looked down at me. "You will agree that human females are prone to lose all track of practical thought when they first learn that they are -- deeply important to another. However, it seems that there are apparently times when emotion can serve a useful purpose. If it had not been for a tear shed at the right moment and for a slip of the tongue, the barriers between us might never have broken. Gentlemen, perhaps you would assist us in making the final preparations for a simple marriage ceremony?"

STARDATE: 5889.9


Sarek took leave of me immediately after the Senior Officers left us. He had many final details to supervise and final preparations to complete before our wedding. I have not seen him since.

Interestingly enough, I have not been fretting because I haven't been able to see him for several hours. Somehow, though I was unable to keep the feeling once we were no longer touching, the sensation of becoming one mind with Sarek, of knowing that each has found the other, has enabled me to achieve a sort of -- serenity, perhaps? I can't feel that deep peace that I knew when we were mind-melding and at the moment of our betrothal, but I can remember the feeling and that helps me to be patient. Besides, I'm busy preparing for our wedding....


It still all seems too good to be true.

Naturally, the Enterprise fairly hummed with excitement when the plans for our wedding were announced. It's fortunate that we're being married so soon, for I fear that most of the crew became somewhat lax in the performance of their assigned duties after they heard the news.

I've spent most of this morning alone in my quarters, meditating and praying for guidance in the new life awaiting me. A short while ago, Christine and Uhura, who are to be my attendants, came to help me get dressed, and they brought me a very special gift. I'd planned to wear my full-dress uniform. However, the women had prevailed upon Jim to authorize ordering a new garment for me. It was a lovely, flowing, Vulcan-style gown made of shimmering cloth the color of a fine pearl. The gown was embroidered with silver, and it had been set with a design of diamonds -- all manufactured aboard the ship.

Now, I'm standing outside the Ship's Chapel, and Len is with me, waiting to escort me to the altar. I'd invited Scotty to be a member of the wedding party, but he'd said that it would be crowded if he stood with me, too, so he'd stay with Mira. However, he'd given me a new credit to tuck into my shoe for good luck.

Mr. Spock is to be "best man" for Sarek. What better way to publicly announce his approval of the marriage?

"Lorna," Len whispered. "I'm feelin' a bit resentful toward Sarek. He's depriving us of a very decorative Yeoman."

"You always know the right thing to say, Len. If you only knew how much I'm going to miss you...."

"Darlin', you haven't seen the last of me," he grinned down at me. "You and Sarek will be traveling' on the Enterprise quite a bit.... Besides, unless I'm presumin' too much, I intend to pay you a visit the first time we're orbiting Vulcan and I've time to get away."

"I'll be hurt if you don't come. Sarek has assured me that Vulcans value friendship. I don't think he'll want us to lose touch."

"Lorna," Christine whispered. "Mr. Spock sent this. He said that you might like to carry it during the ceremony, since its one of the illogical practices which means so much to Earthwomen at these times."

She unwrapped a small box. There, inside a transparent container, which must have kept them as fresh as the day they were first picked, lay a spray of blue roses.

"It's time, Lorna." Len said at last.

Christine and Uhura went before me. When Len and I started down the aisle, everyone rose from their seats. I felt a sensation of momentary panic, then I looked toward the altar and forgot everything else.

Jim stood holding the Order of Service, grinning with approval as his gaze met mine. Spock, calm and formal as always, was standing at attention before the altar. Sarek, who was standing quietly beside his son, was wearing full Ambassadorial regalia, and I caught a glimpse of a golden chain at the back of his neck. Was he wearing the Idic?

We'd advanced only a quarter of the way along the aisle when Sarek turned and looked at me. This departure from Vulcan custom would have been more than enough to please me; however, he went a step further as he held out his hand with the first and the second fingers extended -- indicating to all these witnesses that he really did have some regard for me.

Then I was standing before Sarek, reaching out to join my fingers to his. His dark eyes were very bright when he looked down at me while we exchanged thoughts of silent greeting before we turned to face the Captain.

Jim paused for a moment, then he began the age-old ceremony. "Who presents this woman to be married?" He said at last.

"In the name of all who serve aboard the USS Enterprise, I do," said Len as he suited his actions to his words, then he stepped back to the seat in the front row, which had been reserved for him.

Sarek's voice was calm when he repeated his vows, but my voice shook when I repeated mine. I'd assumed that the service would be changed to read, "honor and protect." Instead, Jim read the time-honored words "love, honor, and cherish," and Sarek repeated them without the slightest hesitation, his great dignity preventing any sense of incongruity.

Sarek's ring slipped onto my finger, then Christine handed me the ring, which had been prepared for me to give him.

"...with this ring, I thee wed," I whispered as I slid the gleaming circlet onto his finger.

"I now pronounce you man and wife...." Jim faltered, uncertain as to how to dismiss us.

Sarek turned to face me squarely and hesitated for a moment, then he raised his right hand in the Vulcan salute.

I responded in like manner. His hand touched mine, then it moved up to touch my face and my mouth; this time, I touched his face in the same manner. What a lovely way to acknowledge me as his wife and as his love before the Almighty Father and these witnesses.

There was a flurry of whispers, of course, but someone -- the Captain perhaps? -- quelled the disturbance.

"One moment, if you please," Jim said before we could move away from the altar, and I wondered if he and the others might have been making plans of their own. "Ambassador, we consider this a momentous occasion and beg your indulgence. The members of the crew wish to say goodbye to Lorna before you take her away from us. If you have no objections, they would like to come in relays as soon as we can adjourn to the Rec. Room on this level...." Again he faltered, wondering if he'd gone too far.

"You honor my wife, Captain," Sarek replied, inclining his head slightly.

"Ladies and gentlemen, why don't you go on to the Rec. Room while we sign the usual legal forms?" Jim suggested. "We'll join you there."

How kind of him to suspect that I needed a chance to catch my breath before meeting those who would wish to say their farewells and to express their best wishes.

We signed an endless array of forms, then I moved to one side and waited while Sarek spoke with Captain Kirk -- probably discussing our departure.

Len was standing beside Uhura, both of them watching Christine as she affixed her signature to the papers.

Mr. Spock had already signed; now he was standing near the table, his arms folded across his chest while he watched the proceedings with his usual air of polite disinterest.

Memories of my dream of Amanda passed through my mind, and I sighed. If only Spock could realize that it might be possible to seek and to obtain the same kind of happiness that his father had found -- and not betray his Vulcan heritage in the process.

Spock turned his head suddenly and looked at me. One eyebrow lifted slightly, indicating that he must have some idea of the thoughts which had been running through my mind. I met his gaze evenly. Could he negate the value of the emotion of love now that he knew that his own father had fallen in love -- not once, but twice?

Christine looked up from the document she was signing, laughing in response to something that Len had just said. I don't think I've ever seen her look more lovely or appealing than she did at that moment. Again, I sighed. It was unfortunate that this day would not be as wonderful for her as it has been for me.

Spock turned and looked down at Christine -- only to see the glowing sparkle die in her eyes and the smile which trembled upon her lips vanish when she realized that he was looking at her.

Oh, Spock. Are you blind? No, I had to stop this. Apparently, Spock believed that he was doing Christine a kindness by acknowledging that there were too many differences between them and by maintaining his air of quiet reserve.

Again Spock looked at me, then he looked at his father. I could almost hear him mulling over the conflicts which we were presenting to him, and I held my breath.

Christine started to rise. Moving with his usual cat-like grace and silence, Spock held the chair for her and put one hand under her elbow to steady her. She thought that it was Len who was helping her and looked up with a smile, which faded swiftly.

"T-thank you," she said coldly, regaining her composure rapidly.

She would have turned away, but Spock's fingers tightened about her arm -- not enough to cause pain, but tightly enough to hold her fast. She looked up at him in protest, but the words died upon her lips when his dark eyes looked intently into hers. They stood so for several seconds until the tension became more than Christine could endure. She started to bend her head and tried to turn away.

"Christine," Spock said quietly. "This is a day without precedent. Perhaps it might be fitting to adapt to it, for these few hours only. I have been told that those who have stood with the bride and the groom during the ceremony on Earth generally provide companionship for each other during any social observance which follows. Will you stand at my side -- this day?"

Wonder dawned in Christine's eyes, then she smiled. A moment later, she became equally formal, accepting the courtesy which Mr. Spock had offered her and willing to let it be enough for the present.

"Thank you, Mr. Spock."

He nodded then, instead of resuming his usual aloof stance, he stepped back to enable her to move away from the table and kept his hand under her elbow to guide her to a place beside him.

Thank Heaven. I clasped my hands in silent joy. He's taken the first step....

"My wife, attend me."

Sarek's gentle voice broke into my thoughts, and I realized that this wasn't the first time he'd spoken to me. He was holding his hand out, fingers extended, and I sensed his quiet amusement.

I blushed as I went to him and joined my fingers to his, but I didn't say anything.

"Evidently Lorna needs time to become accustomed to her new title, Ambassador," Jim teased gently as he grinned at me. "You may have to draw heavily upon your stock of patience."

"Ever and always I have found Lorna an excellent student. She will soon learn to answer to the title of 'wife'."

"S-Sarek...." I paused. This wasn't the time to ask for any favors. But, since our fingers were touching, Sarek detected my thought.

"Your friends from the Enterprise will always be honored as welcome guests in our home, Lorna. I would not separate you permanently from those who have become so much a part of your life. The others are waiting. Let, us go to them, so your friends may honor you."

"Us, Sarek," I insisted.

"If it pleases you."

STARDATE: 5889.15


Finally, the last word of farewell to us from the general crew had been spoken. Now, it was time for us to go to the Bridge with Captain Kirk, for we were in the, process of assuming standard orbit over Vulcan.

Mixed emotions assailed me as I stood beside Sarek in the place of honor near the command chair: joy that I was married to the one I love, and sorrow that I would soon be leaving those for whom I cared. I was clasping my hands together before me so tightly that they hurt. Sarek was the calm, logical Ambassador again. He stood with his arms folded across his chest as he studied his home-world on the Central Viewing Screen.

"Captain," Uhura announced. "I'm receiving a communication from Vulcan."

"Put it on visual, Lieutenant."

The image of the planet dissolved, to be replaced by the form of a Vulcan male.

"Vulcan to USS Enterprise. We greet you in Peace."

"Enterprise to Vulcan. Captain James T. Kirk speaking. We come in Peace and request permission to assume orbit over your world."

"Permission granted. I would speak with Ambassador Sarek."

"I am here." Sarek stepped forward.

The Vulcan on the screen raised his hand in salute and gave the formal greeting, then he continued: "All has been prepared. We request confirmation of the place and of the time."

"The land of my fathers, this neefiua."

"It is noted. We await you."

"We come. May you live long and prosper."

"Well, that's that," Jim said as he turned to us. "We're ready to beam you down."

Sarek extended his right hand to me at once.

"Spock. Scotty. Come with us." Kirk ordered as he rose. "Mr. Sulu, you have the conn."

They entered the turbo lift, but I paused, for I was remembering the hours I have spent on the Bridge as a member of the crew. At last, I sighed and turned to enter the turbo lift -- but Sarek lifted his hand.

"Take time to say a more personal farewell to your friends here, my wife. We will wait."

So I took a final leave of the, Bridge and of my friends there -- the voluble Chekov, who was at a loss for words; the inscrutable Sulu, who was visibly affected by the intense emotions of these final moments; and the lovely Uhura. I couldn't part from Uhura with just a handclasp. Instead, hoping that Sarek would understand, I requested and received her permission to touch my thoughts to hers so I could fully express my love and my gratitude to her and always retain lines of empathic communication between us.

"You must come now," Sarek told me at last, so I went to the turbo lift, closing my eyes after I had entered so I wouldn't see the doors sliding shut.

Sarek's luggage and the few items which I had accumulated, had already been beamed down by the time we reached the Transporter Room. Spook and Scotty were standing near the crewman who would operate the controls. Len and Christine were there as well. All the friends whom I would miss the most.

"Captain," Spock said. "We received another message from Vulcan while you were in the turbo lift. You, Doctor McCoy, Mr. Scott, Nurse Chapel, and I have all been invited to beam down to the surface to witness the ceremony."

"Ambassador?" Kirk inquired.

"I suggested this to T'Pau, Captain. Apparently, she has agreed that to issue this invitation might further confirm the agreement made between Vulcan and the Federation. Also, Lorna will be less apprehensive if her closest friends are with her during her first moments on Vulcan."

How wrong I'd been when I'd thought that Vulcans were incapable of correctly understanding and interpreting the feelings of Terrans. Either that, or else Amanda had indeed taught him much after that momentous journey to the planet Babel, which had started to lower the barriers between Spock and Sarek.

"Come." Sarek said again, holding out his hand -- this time to assist me. "We can no longer postpone our departure."

One pang of sorrow tore at my heart because my life aboard the Enterprise was ending. But, with the Almighty Father's help, the future awaiting me should more than make up for this new loss. I laid my hand in Sarek's and stepped up onto the platform.

"Just a moment, please." Len held up a hypo spray. "Ambassador, with your permission, I'd like to give Lorna an injection of Tri-Ox. The thin atmosphere might affect her at first."

"She revealed no discomfort while we were in the Herbarium, but go ahead, Doctor. I wish her to experience no distress."

Len touched the needle to my arm and released its contents into my bloodstream. Almost immediately, I felt an exhilaration flowing through my veins in response to the sudden increase of oxygen.

Len nodded with satisfaction, then he joined us on the platform.


When my eyes finally cleared, I found an exotically beautiful landscape awaiting me. It was a wild, desert-like land, sheltered by a vivid red sky. Immediately in front of us, I saw a ring of towering boulders forming walls. Through an opening in those walls, I caught sight of a digs with a pit of fire on it and a geometrically shaped sheet of metal hanging above that, pit.

"This is our place of Kun-at-Kati-fe." Sarek said softly as we entered the ampitheatre. "Our place of marriage -- or of challenge."

He looked at Spock while he was speaking. Perhaps both of them were thinking of the fearsome blood-fever which had taken possession of their ancestors in ages past -- the same blood-fever which had once taken possession of the son and might have killed the father the next time had Kismet not intervened.

"My son, I appoint you guardian over my chosen consort. Protect her well." Sarek ordered, his face perfectly impassive as he assumed an air more stern and austere than I had ever seen before.

Immediately, Spock moved from his place near Christine and came to stand beside me. I looked at Sarek, who was walking toward the dais, then I glanced at Spock out of the corners of my eyes. Those had been very war-like words for a logical Vulcan to speak.

"He is following the custom of ages...." Spock explained when he saw my confusion. "Long ago, the bridegroom had to appoint guards to keep others from stealing his bride should he become involved in battle."

Sarek stepped up onto the dais, picked up a cudgel, and touched the sheet of metal. A dull, booming note sounded and seemed to echo throughout the countryside. He paused, as though he were listening, then he turned to come back to us and took his place beside me, quietly waiting.

The wedding party came through an entrance at the other end of the ampitheatre: Two Vulcan men carrying geometrical frames with a number of bells fastened to those frames; several ceremonially clad Vulcan men and women; and four Vulcan men carrying a sedan chair upon which a tall, regal Vulcan woman was seated.

"T'Pau!" Jim whispered behind me. "I'm glad she consented to attend this ceremony. Perhaps she's beginning to decide that the members of the Federation aren't completely hopeless after all."

T'Pau. The High Ruler of Vulcan. If she had come to officiate at this wedding, then that must mean that Sarek is the equivalent of what, on old Earth, we used to call a - a prince!

After the bearers had placed T'Pau's chair in its designated position, Sarek lifted his hand in the Vulcan salute and approached her.

She returned the salute silently, then he knelt before her and bowed his head. She reached out toward his head in the formal ritual of mind-touch but moved her hand away so quickly that I knew she hadn't actually touched him.

"Sarek, ordinarily, our ceremonies are closed to Outworlders, but two of these whom thou hast brought with thee have proved they may be trusted. What sayest thou of these others?"

Sarek rose. "They will respect our confidences, T'Pau. I present the Chief Engineer of the USS Enterprise."

Scotty stepped forward, giving me a sly wink as he passed.

"Thou art named....?" T'Pau said coldly when Scotty paused at attention before her.

"Lieutenant Commander Montgomery Scott, at your service, Ma'am," he replied with a courtly bow.

"How do thee pledge thy silence?"

"I am a Scotsman. Members of my race are renown for their ability to keep confidences. I assure you that I shall say nothing of what I may see here."

There was a reluctant gleam of admiration in T'Pau's eyes. She inclined her head slightly, then she turned her gaze toward Christine.

"And what of this one?"

"Spock," Sarek ordered.

Immediately, Spock turned to look at Christine. "Nurse Chapel has held my life in her hands more than once, T'Pau, and I do not hesitate to let her do so again. I pledge her silence with my life."

T'Pau's stern eyes found mine.

"And this...?"

"This is my chosen consort, T'Pau."

"So." T'Pau lifted one eyebrow slightly. "Hast thee reasons for ignoring those of thy own race a second time, Sarek?"

"None will ever meet my requirements so well as does this woman, T'Pau." There was a hint of challenge audible in Sarek's voice as he met her gaze.

"Let her approach me," T'Pau said, almost in resignation.

Sarek turned.

"Guardian, bring my bride to me."

My mouth felt dry. What if this woman didn't approve of me? Did she have the authority to annul our on-ship marriage and send me away?

Spock sensed my fear and gave me encouragement as willingly as if he were my natural son. He stepped forward and turned so his shoulder would block T'Pau's view, then he inclined his head slightly and bent his arm so I could rest my hand upon it. When I did, he laid his free hand over mine and pressed it gently in a gesture of reassurance. Then, holding his arm out before him at a slight angle, he led me forward.

I joined my fingers to Sarek's. His expression didn't change, but his thoughts met mine briefly, suggesting what I should do.

"I am here to do thy bidding, T'Pau," I said softly, lifting my hand in the Vulcan salute.

"Kneel before me," she commanded.

I obeyed, and she studied my face carefully before she reached out to lay her fingers against my temple. Though her mental force was quite strong, I could have blocked her out. Instead, I shielded only the deeply personal memories of Sarek and myself -- as was my right. After a moment, carefully avoiding even the appearance of attempting a mind-touch of my own, I took upon myself some of the wearisome burden of lonely responsibility which this great woman bore.

T'Pau recognized what had happened, and she was unable to suppress a slight relaxation of her ever-tense body.

"Who - art - thou?" She demanded as her hand dropped to her side.

"Lorna Mitchell, chosen wife of Sarek of Vulcan." I replied then, at her signal, I rose and stood with my hands clasped before me.

"Thou art no mere human. Sarek, now I understand. She will be invaluable to thee, and to us, in thy chosen work. Let the ceremony begin."

Brief, logical, and devoid of all emotional overtones, the Vulcan marriage ceremony possessed a weird beauty all its own, once an opportunity for the challenge to be given was offered and refused.

T'Pau spoke the ancient words in the ritual that locked Vulcan minds in the adult commitment, and I again felt the serenity that can touch them at these times, only to lose it again.

"May ye be shade, air, fire, and water, one to the other from this day forward," T'Pau intoned, once in Vulcan and again in the Federation tongue for the sake of the Outworlder members of the wedding party.

The Vulcans turned away to enable Sarek to be free to walk away with me.

"I invite thee to remain and converse with us," Sarek said, thereby indicating discreetly that he was not experiencing Pon Farr -- as was permitted.

Naturally, Vulcans don't indulge in such emotional displays as wedding receptions. Therefore, after a few moments of polite conversation, T'Pau issued an invitation to me to call upon her at the end of a Vulcan week so we might learn more about one another -- thereby signifying her reluctant acceptance of me as Sarek's wife and as a new citizen of her world. Then she, and the rest of the Vulcan company, departed.

Just as I started to gather my courage to bid a cheerful farewell to my friends, Sarek spoke.

"Captain, as Spock has said, this day has been without precedent, and it is reasonable to set custom aside at such times. Transportation is waiting nearby. Would you and these others accompany us? I assume that you would want to wish Lorna well in her new home and return to the Enterprise from there."

Jim's face reflected his pleasure at this unexpected invitation. "That's very kind of you, Ambassador. We accept -- with pleasure."

Sarek's house, though logically planned, was much lovelier and more comfortable than I had anticipated, one in which a Terran could feel perfectly at home. The moment I stepped inside, I felt a sensation of Peace and welcome envelop me. Even though this house had once been Amanda's, it was mine now, and I knew that I could be happy here.

Both the Captain and the Doctor were requested to kindle the fire that Sarek and I used to light the torch that would guard our home. Then, our guests enjoyed refreshments which members of Sarek's staff had prepared for us well in advance of their departure for a few Vulcan days.

All things must come to an end; eventually, our guests prepared to leave.

"Ambassador. Lorna. May you both know every blessing that Life offers." My former Captain and my permanent friend took my hand and pressed it warmly, then he lifted his hand in the Vulcan salute to Sarek.

"My words exactly," Len said as he also clasped my hand. "Darlin', I'm sorry we must lose you, but we couldn't leave you in better hands." Then reacting with his usual swiftness, he turned me to one side and moved to shield me from sight as I fought a sudden onrush of tears.

"Oh, Len, what am I going to do without you, around to scold me when I need it? You've been almost like a father to me!"

"Although that wasn't what I had in mind originally...." His eyes twinkled with memories. "Like any father should when his daughter marries, Darlin', I'm entrusting your well-being to the man who will share your future. However, if the Almighty Father wills it, I'll manage to turn up often enough to keep you on an even keel by scoldin' you if you need it. Be happy, honey. You've found the perfect place for yourself."

And with a fatherly salute, he stepped back to allow Scotty to move forward to say his farewells.

"I find it hard to realize that you'll no longer be runnin' off with my technical journals, Lass." He took my hand, then a spark of mischief came into his eyes. "Ambassador, it is a custom in my land for the men of a wedding party to kiss the bride -- and I never miss a chance to observe that custom."

So saying, he gave me a hearty kiss.

To quote my stepson: "A most fascinating experience."

I could almost hear Sarek thinking, "These Terrans! Always so emotional."

"Captain," Spock asked after a moment instead of bidding me farewell. "It will be an indefinite time before the Enterprise will be within transporter range of Vulcan again, and there are still several matters which I should discuss with Sarek. If he agrees, may I remain...?"

"No more than one hour, Spock," Kirk said crisply when Sarek nodded agreement to his son's request.

"Captain," said Sarek.

Jim turned and looked at the Ambassador inquiringly.

"You have done well in transporting me to Mauretania in the service of my government. It has been said that the Enterprise is the finest starship in the Fleet and that the members of its crew are the best trained in the Federation. I concur with this statement. It has also been said that Spock is the finest First Officer in the Fleet. This, also, I testify to be true. Will you not agree with me that he has done well and deserves a father's commendation?"

"Definitely, Ambassador." Jim was deeply moved because Spock had publicly received that for which he'd been longing all his life -- approval from his father.

"Farewell," Kirk said at last, Captain Kirk once more as he turned to move to the pick-up point.

I hesitated. It would hardly be fair to inflict another emotional scene upon Sarek at this moment. It had been a strain for Sarek to express his approval of his son before human witnesses. Yet, Jim had been such a great friend that I couldn't help wanting to say a more personal goodbye.

Suddenly, I felt Sarek's hand touching my shoulder, gently impelling me toward the Captain, and I felt inwardly warmed by this further proof of his sensitivity and understanding.

"Captain," I exclaimed. "Please wait!"

I hurried to him as he turned. "How can I possibly thank you for all that you've done -- Jim?"

"No thanks are needed, Lorna." He lowered his voice. "You've eased my burden of sorrow and have given me hope for happiness in the future. What other thanks could I ask -- other than that you think kindly of me?"

"Ever and always, my Captain -- and my friend. My thoughts will be with you. Goodbye, and may the Almighty Father hold you in His hand."

What could be more natural than a kiss between friends -- who might have become even more in some alternate universe?

"Kirk to Enterprise," he said a moment later. "We're ready to beam up."

"One moment, Captain," said Spock. "Christine, you might benefit from a chance to observe more of Vulcan life. Will you remain?"

Her eyes widened with astonishment; she looked at the Captain for confirmation, then she nodded.

"Energize!" Kirk ordered after Christine had stepped away from the others. With that word he, Len, and Scotty were gone.

While Spock and Sarek engaged in a low-toned conversation, Christine and I withdrew to an alcove at the side of the room where we could sit and look up into the moonless night sky while we exchanged a few last confidences of our own.

Shortly thereafter, Sarek received a call requesting urgent information concerning his recent mission, so he went into his conference room to take that call. Spock looked at me inquiringly when he mentioned that the grounds about the house were worth seeing. I shook my head and suggested that perhaps he should take Christine on a tour. I would see the grounds later -- with my husband.


He didn't speak while he led me out into the lovely grounds which surrounded the house. I'm sure that my reaction to the beauty of the aurora was all that he had anticipated -- and more. Eventually, he guided me to a sheltered corner close to the side opposite the sun.

There, the aurora revealed a small version of the Leeithutt, the tree bearing blue roses that I'd admired on Mauretania.

"Is - is it real?" I gasped.


"But - but, how did it get here?" I approached the tree cautiously, halfway expecting to see it vanish before my eyes.

"Spock informed me of your interest in the Leeithutt." Sarek came to my side. "I thought you should have something to remind you of the more pleasing aspects of your adopted home-world. Therefore, after we ascertained that the plant contained no dangerous organisms and that it could survive in the soil of any class M planet, I obtained permission from the Captain to transfer it to the Enterprise. Mr. Sulu had assured me that he knew a technique which would prevent the tree from growing any larger, so it could survive upon the ship without taking too much vital space. He has been tending it for me ever since; indeed, he installed it here for us while we were engaged in the farewell reception."

"Sarek, I'm deeply grateful." I snapped one perfect bud from a branch that revealed that it had only recently had a few other blossoms taken from it, then I turned to him. "This is just that extra touch -- that little bit of thoughtfulness -- that every woman desires. I'm pleased that you have thought of it."

My voice faltered as I looked up at him, for I again felt unsure of myself. He had -- courted me with all the fervor of a human lover while we were aboard ship; now that we were on his home world, would he be influenced to revert to his Vulcan ways? I had better go slowly and conduct myself with restraint. Far better that than to hear my husband advising me to do so on this, our first day of our new life together. After all, time is finally my friend; I can wait....

"T'Lorna." His voice was deep and gentle. "Come to me."

I wanted to rush into his arms and babble my gratitude for his gift. Instead, I went to him slowly and then joined my fingers to his.

"May I thank you for this lovely wedding gift, my husband?"

"Need you ask, my wife?"

I was pleased to see that his dark eyes held the same tenderness that I'd seen there on the Observation Deck and during our wedding on the Enterprise.

"Approach me, my wife," he demanded, and I frowned. What did he mean? I was standing right in front of him.

After a moment, he put his arms around me and drew me close. I rested my head against his chest, shy and uncertain as to what I should do, content to accept his guidance, as a Vulcan wife should.

"My wife," he rebuked me kindly, "you are too much on the defensive. Surely you are not reluctant to express your love for me in any way that you may wish whenever we are alone?"

"Of course I'm on the defensive, Sarek." I protested. "I am not sure whether you want me to be a Terran wife or a Vulcan wife, and so I'm afraid I'll say or do the wrong thing."

By way of answer, he bent his head and touched his lips to mine -- not so much in a caress this time than it was a technique to let our thoughts blend until we were once more almost one personality.

//I want you to be yourself, T'Lorna. You will learn how best to conduct yourself when you are with others outside the home with the dignity befitting a Vulcan wife, but -- do not lose your individuality while doing so. Why should you feel insecure, T'Lorna? No matter what may happen in the future, remember that I have chosen you to be not only my companion and my helpmate, but also my love. What more must I do or say before you will believe that I truly love you...?//

Yes, I would learn -- we would both learn as we shared our new life....

Tears of joy blinded my eyes as I completely yielded myself and my future into Sarek's keeping.

E P I L O G U E :


The happiness which our Terran friends wished for us on our wedding day, has been granted to us beyond all my expectations. The unique talent which the Almighty Father has given me, has enabled me to stand beside my husband as his most trusted assistant in his chosen profession. Thus, whenever he is sent away from Vulcan on a diplomatic mission, there's never any reason for us to be parted. I can safely go so far as to say that he needs me -- and what wife can wish for more?

Many individuals who have heard something of my history have expressed admiration for my "courage." They embarrass me when they do so. After all, it has long been an accepted fact that individuals should forsake their homes and their natural families for the sake of the ones that they love. Therefore, why shouldn't I have gone a step further to forsake my own time for Sarek?

I must spend no more time mulling over pleasant memories. The Enterprise is coming to Vulcan. Many months have passed since I last saw all my Terran friends, and I still have many preparations to complete before they arrive.

Of course, I communicate mentally with my friends aboard the ship from time to time. Terran that I am, however, I have never been able to fully substitute mental communication for the joy of meeting my human friends -- no, our human friends -- in person.

Besides, it would seem that my efforts to help my stepson to break the restraints which he has formed about his human half haven't been quite as successful as I had hoped. Mr. Spock is still unwilling to make any final decision about Christine. I am anticipating an opportunity to discuss the matter with him while he is with us. It is high time that Spock either accept Christine, or else that he influence her to seek happiness elsewhere.

T H E  E N D

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