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THE MATCHMAKER

By

Ray Newton

Under the twin moons the gardens were filled with elusive, drifting shadows, but the two men sitting on the rim of the crystal fountain had no eyes for the mysterious beauty around them. The musical calling of the night birds formed the background to their tense, whispered conversation. Borne on the breeze came the delicate haunting fragrance of moonroses, exquisite flowers that opened their fragile petals only when the two moons shone in the sky, and died at the first touch of the sun.

A scene of beauty and tranquillity, marred only by the pain in the soft voice that whispered its anguish, and the helplessness in the other that sought to offer consolation.

At last both voices faded into silence, and the two men rose reluctantly, the taller extending a hand to his companion. Then, walking slowly, they moved off down the tree-lined path towards the bright lights of the city.

When the sound of their footsteps had died away the onlooker emerged from his place of concealment among the bushes. Standing in the middle of the path he gazed after the two. His eyes glittered strangely in the moonlight as his mind raced, absorbing what he had learned. Finally he seemed to come to a decision, for his face grew tight with determination. He nodded decisively, and set off briskly in pursuit of the others.


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Jim Kirk settled back in his chair and looked around with an air of complete contentment, then smiled across at Amanda.

"This is just what I needed," he said gratefully. "Peace and quiet, a chance to rest, to think..."

"There is always time here," Amanda replied quietly, handing him a cool drink. "I've always found that the Vulcans understand the need to... Well, we'd call it recharging our batteries. But what about you, Leonard?" She turned to McCoy. "Don't you find it too quiet here?"

"No, I agree with Jim," McCoy answered lazily. "It's done us both good to be here."

"I'm glad. I admit I wondered at first if you'd accepted the invitation just to please Spock."

"I probably would have done, knowing how much he wanted to come home," Kirk grinned, "but I've always wanted to see something of Vulcan and this was a good chance."

"You haven't found the climate too trying? Spock sometimes forgets that Humans aren't used to the heat - he takes after Sarek in that."

"Spock's been very careful," Kirk assured her, "and McCoy's even worse. You'd think I was liable to break."

"You almost did," McCoy growled. "Anderanian fever is no joke - it takes a while to get over it. We don't want you putting a strain on your heart."

"Fat chance!" Kirk grumbled. Changing the subject he said, "I think this is my favourite part of the house, Amanda."

"Sarek maintains it's a concession to my humanity, but I've noticed that he and Spock like to sit here too."

"I don't blame them."

The three were sitting in a wide conservatory that led off from the house. Behind them and on both sides, banks of green shrubs hid the walls, providing a background for the flowering plants. The paved floor was scattered with tubs of flowers, and a fountain splashed into a rectangular pool. The fourth wall gave a magnificent view out over the Vulcan garden; the contrast between the harshly beautiful landscape outside and the cool fragrant atmosphere within made this a favoured spot for the Humans.

"I wonder how Spock's enjoying his visit to the Science Academy?" Kirk said after a while.

"If I know him - and I do - he'll be like a kid with a new toy," McCoy said indulgently. "Show Spock a new computer and you've lost him for hours."

"I know," Kirk grinned. Then, serious, he turned to Amanda. "Do you think Spock ever has any regrets?"

"That he chose Starfleet?" Amanda shook her head emphatically. "It's where he belongs, I know that. And now that Sarek is reconciled to his choice I know that he's completely happy. You don't need to worry, Jim."

"It's just that I've had the feeling that he's had something on his mind lately, and I wondered..."

Kirk broke off as one of Sarek's aides came into the conservatory and approached Amanda. He murmured something too quietly for the Humans to hear, and the woman turned to them.

"Dr. Sonal has called, Jim - he wishes to meet you and Leonard."

"Dr. Sonal? I'm afraid I don't..." Kirk's puzzled reply was interrupted by an exclamation from McCoy.

"You wouldn't know of him, but I do. He's one of the most eminent physicians on Vulcan, retired now, practically a recluse I believe, but his writings are required reading for all Starfleet medical personnel."

"I wonder what he wants with us?" Kirk mused.

"Will you receive him, Jim?" Amanda asked.

"Receive him? Uh... of course. Oh lord, you'll have to keep me straight with Vulcan etiquette, Amanda."

"Don't worry about it, Jim. Dr. Sonal knows that you're both outworlders - he won't expect the same formality he'd receive from a Vulcan. In fact, from what I know of him he'd be disappointed if he did. Just be natural." She turned and addressed the aide. "Please ask Dr. Sonal to join us here."

Kirk was not quite sure what he had expected. Dr. Sonal was by far the oldest Vulcan he had ever seen - his hair was totally white, his tall figure stooped with the weight of years, but his eyes sparkled with a lively interest and an unashamed curiosity Kirk had never before encountered in one of his race.

Amanda beckoned the Humans to approach. "Dr. Sonal, may I present Captain James Kirk?"

"Live long and prosper, Captain." The Vulcan bent his head in acknowledgement of Kirk's greeting. "Your name is known to me." He looked intently at Kirk for a few moments, then murmured something in his own language that brought an expression of perplexity to Amanda's face.

"Forgive me, Captain." Dr. Sonal had noticed Kirk's look of enquiry. "I fear I grow absent-minded with the years. And this, of course, is Dr. McCoy. I have read your papers with great interest, Doctor, and hope to talk with you at some length while you are here."

"I am honoured, Doctor." McCoy, who had never mastered the intricacies of the Vulcan salute, did not attempt it now; instead he inclined his head in respectful homage to the revered Healer.

"Some refreshment, Dr. Sonal?" Amanda poured drinks for them as they took their seats.

During the conversation that followed Kirk gradually became aware of an undercurrent he could not quite understand. Although Dr. Sonal addressed his conversation to them all equally, Kirk knew that he was the focus of the Vulcan's interest. Amanda, in turn, watched the Healer, her air of puzzlement well hidden now, although there was still a question in her eyes. McCoy alone seemed to be unaware of anything out of the ordinary.

At last Dr. Sonal indicated that he was ready to leave, and Amanda reached for the intercom to summon the aide.

"Please, do not trouble." The elderly Vulcan turned to McCoy. "Perhaps Dr. McCoy would escort me to my aircar?"

"It would be a pleasure, sir."

As the two doctors left, talking animatedly, Kirk looked at Amanda. "There's something going on, isn't there?"

"I'm not sure, Jim. We'll know when Leonard gets back. It seems impossible..."

She refused to elaborate, and Kirk waited with mounting impatience until McCoy returned. When he did, the expression of sheer bewilderment on his face was almost comical.

"Uh... Jim... I'm supposed to tell you... to ask you..." McCoy stopped, floundering helplessly.

Amanda came to his rescue. "Dr. Sonal is acting as nasharan, isn't he?"

"Yes." McCoy turned to her gratefully. "He said he understood that, as outworlders, we wouldn't know what to do, so I should ask you."

"Well the first thing you should do is tell Jim."

"Tell me what?" Kirk was consumed with curiosity.

"Uh... well... you see..."

"Dr. Sonal has been asked to approach Dr. McCoy to discuss a possible marriage for you, Jim," Amanda explained concisely.

"Marriage? Me? Who with?" It was the last thing Kirk had expected.

"You won't know that until later in the negotiations. Leonard, what exactly did Dr. Sonal tell you?"

"He said that a friend had approached him to act as nasharan; he couldn't mention names at this stage, but the friend wants Jim to marry into his family. Since Jim's parents are known to be dead, I'm supposed to act in their place."

"I'm dreaming this - I must be!" Kirk said explosively. " A second - no, a third-hand proposal of marriage from an unknown Vulcan female! Amanda, what am I supposed to do?"

"Take it easy, Jim,"Amanda smiled. "I suppose I'd better explain. When a Vulcan father wishes to arrange a marriage for his son - or his daughter - he selects a suitable partner, then asks a respected friend to act as nasharan - the equivalent would be matchmaker. The nasharan approaches the father of the prospective husband, and if the boy is free he arranges a meeting between the children. If they are agreeable, and seem to be compatible, the nasharan conducts negotiations between the fathers until an acceptable marriage settlement has been agreed. It is an ancient custom - even when adults wish to bond it is followed in a modified form. When Sarek wished to marry me he asked his father to begin the negotiations - he chose his own partner, but custom was followed. I remember how surprised my father was when Sarek's nasharan approached him."

"What do I do, though?" Kirk asked. "Decline gracefully?"

"No, you can't do that without insulting the girl's family. Don't worry, though - there's a way out. After the first formal meeting - which you must agree to - if the girl wishes to continue with the arrangement she will send you a small gift. If you are willing to proceed you accept it; if not, you return it. It's as simple as that - the discussion is ended with no insult on either side."

"You're sure? I wouldn't want to cause any trouble, Amanda, but I certainly don't want a Vulcan wife!"

"Oh, I don't know," Amanda said thoughtfully. "It could be... an interesting combination."

Kirk looked at her in horror for a few seconds until he realised that she was teasing him; he smiled in rueful acknowledgement, but his eyes were still troubled.


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After dinner Amanda informed Sarek and Spock of Dr. Sonal's visit and the reason for it; she also mentioned the advice she had given Kirk.

Sarek nodded in approval. "It is for James to decide, of course, but it is customary to meet the proposed bondmate. Should you then decline the marriage, you may do so with honour."

"That's what Amanda said," Kirk answered. "I feel I should go through with it, Sarek - it might be a bit embarrassing, but not as much as if I insulted some Vulcan family."

"Indeed."

"What I can't understand," McCoy broke in, "is who the woman is, and why she chose you, Jim. You haven't met all that many Vulcans."

"It is not necessarily someone he has met," Sarek explained. "Captain Kirk is well known and highly respected on Vulcan. It is possible that one of our citizens considers him to be a suitable addition to his family."

"That's just great!" Kirk exclaimed. "Theoretically I could be landed with an unwilling bride."

"Not if you maintain your resolve to decline," Spock pointed out. "But you may change your mind when you see your proposed bondmate."

"Unlikely, but possible, I suppose. Just in case I do, how do I tell if she's really willing, or just following her father's instructions?"

"You will know," Spock stated positively. "Jim, I should tell you that I propose to spend a few days on retreat in the desert with one of my old teachers. It will be an opportunity for me to spend some much-needed time in meditation. I trust you do not object?"

"You go ahead, Spock," Kirk replied absently. "Take all the time you want. Lord knows I've got enough to keep me occupied now!"

"Then I will leave in the morning. I hope, Jim, that this meeting will not be too difficult for you."

Kirk smiled up at his First Officer with very real affection. "Don't worry about me, Spock. I'll play this strictly by the book, and I know Amanda will keep me right. Just you go ahead and enjoy yourself."

The scandalised look from Spock was an entire lecture on the impropriety of equating a meditative retreat with anything so frivolous and unVulcan as enjoyment.


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"Jim..."

"Yes, Bones?"

"Oh, I was just wondering... What Spock said about you changing your mind..."

"Well?"

"You're not really thinking of accepting, are you?"

"Good lord, no! Whatever gave you that idea?"

"Just... after what you told me... I thought you might be tempted to settle for second-best."

"No chance! Even if I was... Vulcans are telepaths, Bones. Can you imagine if she...?"

"It still hurts, doesn't it?"

"I think it always will."


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Two days later the expected invitation arrived from Dr. Sonal. McCoy, too, was invited - Amanda explained that each family met separately with the nasharan until the two principals had agreed to the match.

Kirk was nervous, but slightly reassured by Dr. Sonal's greeting.

"Be welcome in my house, Captain Kirk, Dr. McCoy. Doctor, since this meeting is to be strictly private, would you care to wait in my study? I have recently engaged on some research which might interest you."

"I'd be delighted, sir," McCoy replied.

"Captain." Dr. Sonal turned to Kirk. "I have arranged that the meeting take place in the garden pavilion. There are refreshments there, if you wish them while you talk. Follow the right-hand path - it will lead you to the pavilion. When you have finished your conversation, return to the house; my secretary will be waiting for you. Please take all the time you need, Captain."

"Thank you, sir." With a last look at McCoy Kirk set off down the indicated path.


+++++



The single room of the garden pavilion seemed dim after the harsh sunlight outside. Kirk stood for a moment to allow his eyes to become accustomed to the change, feeling slightly disappointed as he realised that he was alone.

A tray of drinks stood on the table; parched from the heat - and partly from nervousness - Kirk walked over to pour himself a glass of the refreshing fruit juice. He drained the glass at a gulp and was just setting it back on the tray when a voice behind him said quietly, "Jim?"

Kirk spun round to face Spock, who was standing just inside the door. Part of his mind registered that his friend was wearing formal Vulcan dress, but he was so surprised to see him there he did not wonder why.

"Spock, it's good to see you!" he exclaimed warmly. "I didn't expect you back for a few days yet."

"There was... a matter... that urgently required my attention," the Vulcan said gravely.

"Well..." Kirk hesitated. "Glad though I am to see you, Spock, I'm here for a reason. Dr. Sonal has arranged that I meet..."

"I know that, Jim." Spock seemed strangely nervous. He walked forward until he stood in front of Kirk. "I am the one you were to meet."

"You?" Kirk stared in bewilderment. "But Dr. Sonal spoke of a marriage. I thought..."

Spock reached out as though to touch Kirk, then allowed his hand to fall to his side.

"Jim, I seek you as bondmate. You are... necessary... to me, to my peace of mind... to my happiness. Will you bond with me?"

Kirk's head was whirling with the speed of events. He was vaguely aware that Spock was pushing him down into a chair, that a glass was held to his lips. He drank, taking a moment to gather his thoughts, then looked up into the gentle brown eyes that gazed at him with a mixture of hope and apprehension. Confused, he looked away.

"Before you speak, let me explain," the Vulcan said quietly. "Do you remember, some weeks ago on Ramar III, you spoke in a garden with Dr. McCoy? You told him of your... feelings... for me, of your... your longings... and of your fear of my reaction."

"How do you know?" Kirk's voice was scarcely audible. "Did Bones...?"

"Dr. McCoy has too much integrity to betray a confidence. I overheard you, Jim. I did not intend to listen, but when I realised what you were saying I could not leave. It was... It gave me hope."

"Hope?" There was curiosity in Kirk's voice, but he dared not raise his eyes.

"For a long time I have known that I wished you as bondmate, but I dared not speak. I did not know how you would receive such a request, and I dreaded the loss of your friendship. That overheard conversation told me that your wishes... were as mine."

Faint colour touched Kirk's face. "Then, why all this?" he murmured. "Why didn't you just tell me? You must have known I would... agree." His colour deepened.

Spock shifted uncomfortably. "I did not know how to... how to approach you. I have never courted a Human, and I feared my clumsiness. All I knew was the Vulcan way. It would have been necessary, in any case, to observe the formalities. And... I wanted you to be sure from the beginning that what I offer is a complete and formal bonding. When we came to Vulcan I spoke with my father and asked him to appoint a nasharan; that he did so indicates that he consents and approves of my choice. The rest you know."

"There's one thing I have to know." Kirk stared down at his tightly-clasped hands. "You are offering me a full and legal bonding, and I know how important that is. Why, Spock?"

"Because..." Spock's voice was quiet but certain. He reached out and took one of Kirk's hands between his own. "Because I love you, Jim."

Kirk looked up at last and raised his free hand to Spock's face. "My bondmate," he said wonderingly. "I never thought - I never dreamed - I'd be able to say that." His face was alight with joy, and the golden eyes shone with excitement.

"When, Spock?" he demanded. "When can we be bonded?"

"You have not given me your answer yet," Spock reminded him.

Kirk shook his head impatiently. "Do I have to say it?" He took a deep breath. "I love you, Spock. I want you as bondmate - and don't keep me waiting."

"So impatient!" Spock teased, then his eyes grew serious. "Are you sure, Jim? Remember that the bonding is for life, and is totally exclusive. You will be mine - and I, yours."

For answer Kirk leaned forward and touched his mouth to Spock's in a fleeting kiss. "That's how I want it," he said unsteadily. "I do know what a bonding means. I'm totally committed to it - and to you."

"Then Sarek will send the nasharan to you tomorrow with my gift. When you have accepted it, all that remains is the formal declaration, which can take place on the following day." He lifted Kirk to his feet. "I confess, it seems a very long wait."

"For me, too."

Reluctantly, Spock let go of Kirk's hand. "Perhaps you should return to Dr. Sonal now - he will be wondering why this is taking so long."

"I suppose so." Kirk turned away, feeling... He was not quite sure how he felt. Something was missing...

He was almost at the door when hands closed on his shoulders, turning him into Spock's embrace. A warm mouth fastened on his, a tongue forced its way between his lips to explore his mouth with slow thoroughness.

For a moment Kirk merely accepted the kiss passively, then as the surprise wore off he hugged Spock fiercely, his own tongue entwining with the invader in a silken caress. At last Spock drew back, slowly withdrawing his tongue from Kirk's mouth, and looked down into the Human's flushed face.

"That was to convince you that I do know hunger for you, Jim. Now go, before I give you further proof."

"I almost wish you would," Kirk whispered huskily.

"Do not tempt me, t'hy'la. This is not the time, nor the place. I will see you at dinner."

Kirk smiled and began to walk back to the house, conscious of the dark eyes that followed him until the bend of the path hid the pavilion. The taste of Spock's kiss still lingered on his mouth, he could still feel the pressure of Spock's body against his own. He wanted more...

McCoy and Sonal were waiting for him when he reached the house, and he quickly pulled himself together.

"Thank you for your hospitality, Dr. Sonal," he said quietly, aware of the curiosity in McCoy's eyes. "Is there anything more?"

"Not for the moment," the Vulcan replied gravely.

"Then I think we'll be getting back. Come on, Bones."

In the aircar, heading back to Sarek's house, McCoy looked at his friend. "How did it go, Jim?"

"Mmm? Oh, no problem."

"What's she like? Is she pretty?"

"Well, actually..." Kirk began, then he hesitated. He had intended to tell McCoy the truth, but suddenly he knew that he wanted a little time to himself, a chance to adjust to the strange new direction his life had taken. And besides, a perverse impulse of mischief prompted him to maintain the game a little longer.

"Pretty?" he said at last. "No, I wouldn't say that. More... unusual. Bones, if you don't mind, I'd rather not talk about it just now."

"Okay, Jim." McCoy settled back in the passenger seat, casting an occasional glance at Kirk during the journey. Jim wasn't reacting quite as he had expected, he mused; of course, he did have a healthy respect for Vulcan customs - probably didn't want to chatter about what was, after all, a very serious matter. Perhaps the girl would decide not to pursue the marriage any further? Fervently, McCoy hoped not.


+++++



Later that night Kirk sat at the window of his room, looking out over the starlit garden. He felt calm and at peace, all his thinking done. Strange and wonderful as it seemed, Spock wanted him; that was all that mattered. Tomorrow he would formally accept the offer of bonding, and after that...

His breath quickened in anticipation.


+++++



Kirk was sitting with McCoy when Dr. Sonal was announced. The elderly Vulcan greeted them, then handed Kirk a small box.

"As nasharan, I give you this token," he said formally. "Is it your wish to accept?"

Kirk opened the box and smiled; a moonrose, encased in crystal, lay on a silken pad. The flower carried him back to that night on Ramar III, as Spock had known it would; that night when, miserable and hopeless, he had confided in McCoy - the night Spock had learned that his dreams lay within his grasp.

McCoy saw that wistful smile, and wondered at it. Then instead of returning the box to Sonal, as he had expected, Kirk closed it and held it firmly.

"I will accept it," he said clearly.

"Jim!" McCoy was startled into protest. "Do you know what you're doing?"

"Better than you think, Bones," Kirk smiled reassuringly.

Sonal turned to McCoy. "It is time to meet your counterpart, Dr. McCoy." There was a dry amusement on the older man's voice, which puzzled McCoy until the door opened and Sarek walked into the room.

"Nasharan, my thanks," Sarek said quietly. "You honour my house."

"Hey, wait a minute! What's going on?" McCoy demanded. "Sarek arranged a marriage for you, Jim? And you've accepted it? Will somebody please tell me what's happening?"

"James, perhaps you should present your bondmate to Dr. McCoy?" Sarek suggested with the same dry humour Sonal had exhibited.

"Yes, of course. I'm sorry, Bones - I couldn't resist it."

Behind McCoy the door opened again; Kirk smiled radiantly in welcome and held out his hand. McCoy turned and his jaw dropped as Spock moved quickly to Kirk's side, touching his fingers in the gesture he had often seen used by Sarek and Amanda.

"Bones, I'm going to bond with Spock."

"With Spock? But how come...?" McCoy's eyes narrowed in suspicion. "How long have you known?"

"Only since yesterday. You know, it's funny - all along we both wanted the same thing but we were too scared to ask."

McCoy was grinning broadly. "You can fill me in on the details later." He grabbed Kirk and hugged him impulsively. "Jim, be happy. And you, Spock."

"Thank you, McCoy. My mother asked me to tell you that when everything is settled she has arranged a small celebration for us."

He looked possessively, proudly, at Kirk, who smiled in response.

"Let's go, Spock."


+++++



The following night Kirk again sat at a window looking out onto a starlit landscape - this time the harsh grandeur of the Sas-a-shar desert. The small dwelling close to the Koon-ut-kal-if-fee had been prepared for them, a retreat in which they would have the privacy to form and consolidate their bond.

The time was very close now. Soon Spock would join him and together they would begin their journey on a path that was uncharted for both.

Spock, shy and inexperienced; himself, the lover of so many women, but never of a man - what lay ahead for them? Soon, now, he would begin to learn...

To distract his mind he began to recall the events of the day, the unexpectedly brief ceremony by which he and Spock had been united according to Vulcan custom.

All was as it had been the last time, save that he had walked behind T'Pau's chair into the arena, his blood shivering as the deep-braying tone of the gong summoned him. Spock knelt in homage, received T'Pau's greeting and blessing, then the imperious voice commanded,

"Kal-if-fee!"

Spock walked to the gong and sounded it; even before the echoes died Kirk took the mallet from his hand and rang his own answer to the blazing sky. His eyes were fixed on Spock's face, and with horrified realisation he saw the Vulcan's eyes close for a moment in relief. Only then was he aware of how this must have been for Spock - how much he must have feared to hear again the cry of challenge, of denial.

Putting all his love into his eyes he smiled at Spock and extended his hand; together they knelt before T'Pau to receive her acknowledgement of them as a bonded couple. Then, as the heat of the day died to the cool of evening Spock led him away...

"Jim?" The tentative voice broke into his memories, and he turned to smile at Spock.

"I was just remembering - and dreaming," he said quietly. "And... I was waiting for you."

"Truly?" Spock's voice held a shy eagerness, and Kirk's heart contracted with the love he felt for this man.

"Truly," he confirmed, standing and moving into Spock's arms.

They kissed, at first tentative and unsure, desire growing between them as their mouths worked together.

It was Kirk who broke the kiss at last, drawing Spock towards the bed. He reached for the fastening of the Vulcan's robe and undid it slowly, appraising the perfection of the alien body.

"I never knew," he whispered wonderingly, "how beautiful a man could be."

"I have known it since the first time I saw you," Spock replied. "Since male bonding is permitted on Vulcan, I have always known that a man could be considered desirable... but when I looked at you, t'hy'la, I saw beauty for the first time."

As he spoke Spock's hands were unfastening Kirk's robe, his fingers lingering on the cool flesh hidden within. They moved into each other's arms, clinging together, then sank down onto the bed to lie holding each other close.

Kirk took the lead in their lovemaking, finding a new pleasure in teaching the Vulcan the responses of which his body was capable, and enduring himself sensations he had never dreamed possible. Inexperienced Spock might be, but his instincts served him well - every touch of his mouth made Kirk shiver with delight.

They were both fiercely aroused when Spock knelt between Kirk's wide-spread legs and began the difficult task of penetration. Kirk bit his lip, choking back a gasp of pain, and Spock reached one hand to his temple.

"Lie still, Jim," he whispered. "This first time I must be in complete control, or I may injure you. Dr. Sonal promised it would grow easier."

Kirk fought down the instinctive urge to thrust upwards and so impale himself further onto Spock. "You talked about it?" he managed.

The colour flooded Spock's face. "It was necessary, and he is a healer. I wished to be certain I did not harm you."

He began to move again, pressing forward slowly, carefully, sinking himself further into Kirk's body. Kirk felt every inch of the swollen organ as it edged its way deeper and deeper into his flesh. The pain was endurable now, and he welcomed it, his virgin body yielding gladly to the one man who could claim him.

For now, he was the one to give; soon Spock would be his with the same completeness. He had never before felt so much a part of another, never wanted such a belonging - now he knew it was the only way he could ever be satisfied again, for

anything less would be intolerable.

Fully inserted, Spock took Kirk's face between his hands, fingers spread for the meld. His mind touched Kirk's, locked onto it, penetrated deep into the core of his being. Kirk hung suspended in infinity, poised on the twin peaks of Spock's domination of his mind and flesh, known in the most secret places of his mind, possessed in the deepest recesses of his body.

Between their linked minds the bond spun a glittering web of love and need and passion, locking them together in a unity that would transcend death itself; and as the lovely thing took almost solid form and shape Spock's climax shook their joined bodies in the ultimate ecstasy.

With a sigh of sheer pleasure Kirk relaxed in the arms of his bondmate.


+++++



"Spock?"

"Yes, Jim?"

"How many times did we make love last night?"

"I... I do not know." Spock's voice held a note of puzzlement. "Curious - I have never before forgotten..."

"Well, you've never exactly done that before, either, have you?" Kirk hugged his knees and grinned down at his bondmate.

"No, but I plan to repeat the experiment," Spock assured him solemnly.

Kirk laughed and leaned down to kiss him, then settled happily into the welcoming arms. "Will it always be like this?" he asked, running his fingers down Spock's chest.

"Always, t'hy'la, for I will always love you," Spock whispered.

Kirk took a deep breath. "What about when you're in pon farr? Will it be... dangerous then, Spock?"

Abruptly Spock let him go and sat up; concerned, Kirk knelt beside him, wrapping his arms around the Vulcan's shoulders.

"Spock, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have asked. Now I've ruined everything."

"No, Jim. There is something I must tell you." Spock turned and took Kirk's hands in his. "Jim... I am in pon farr now."

"What?" Kirk stared at him in disbelief. "But you can't be! Last time you were irritable, and violent - that's why I was nervous."

"Last time I was being drawn to an unwilling bride; now I have a bondmate who loves me... and desires me. With you in my arms, a responsive lover, there is no danger in pon farr; only if we were parted, or if you were reluctant, would there be any risk."

"Why on earth didn't you tell me?"

"I knew that you feared pon farr, and thought it would be... easier for you if I could first show you how it should be. You will never fear it again, I think."

"Fear it? I'll look forward to it!"

Spock reached for him, and within moments the Human was writhing helplessly beneath his lover's warm weight. As their minds touched Spock sensed a certain smug satisfaction in his bondmate's consciousness, and asked curiously, "Jim, what is amusing you?"

"You'll never believe it, but I was just thinking..." He broke off with a gasp of pleasure as Spock's hand moved, producing a shudder of delight.

"You were saying?" Spock prompted a few moments later.

"Poor T'Pring." Kirk sighed, pulling his lover closer. "She'll never, ever know what she's missed."

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Nocturne, July 1981


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