(Standard Year 2251)

Return to Valjiir Stories

Return to Valjiir Continum

Go To Part Two

The mind-sifter was not cooperating.

Lieutenant Commander Ruth Maxwell Valley stepped back from the work table in the engineering research lab with a heartfelt. "Shit!" A wisp of long, blonde hair had escaped from the braid that hung down her back. She brushed it irritably behind her ear.

Lieutenant Jilla Majiir raised an agreeing eyebrow. She, too, straightened from the mechanism before them, smoothing her own thick, burgundy hair behind her pointed ears. "It does seem rather hopeless,” she commented.

Ruth scowled, contemplating the last several techniques they had used to try to analyze the Klingon device. Nothing they did seemed to yield any useful information. It was more than frustrating - and the design/engineering team and quasi-telepathic entity that was known as Valjiir was not used to frustration. The mind-sifter had been taken from a captured Klingon scout. It was their assignment to map its workings in order to understand how to reverse its effects.

"Shit," Ruth repeated, putting her hands on her hips. Jilla stared thoughtfully for a moment, then reached to the tool crib above the table. "What now?" Ruth asked.

"It resists all attempts at analyzing it from the outside." Jilla replied, setting tools on the table. "We must therefore attempt to do so from the inside."

"Dismantle it?" Ruth questioned dubiously. "Fleet won't like that."

Jilla began to work with a laser drill. "Has Fleet a better suggestion?"

Ruth grinned. "Good point. I think I'm beginning to rub off on you. And don't ask," she added quickly, forestalling Jilla's puzzled questioning of the idiom. She wiped her hands on the work coveralls she wore, then picked up a circuit testing probe. "When we get it apart, you take the actual mechanism, and I'll work on the inter——"

She never completed the sentence.


The warning siren blared through Engineering. At the relay board, Geoff Redford immediately dispatched a call to Sickbay and a damage control party to the research lab.

Montgomery Scott raced down the corridor from his office. His heart was pounding painfully, his breathing labored. The emergency board had showed an explosion in Research Lab 17D - where Ruth and Jilla were working with the captured mind-sifter.


Captain Spock sat in the con on the Bridge, going over the day's section reports from the current starcharting mission with Yeoman Tamura. Commander Sulu was at the Helm, one eye on his board, the other on his own paperwork.

Without warning, Sulu went rigid, his eyes opening wide in terror and pain. Then he screamed and toppled from his chair, unconscious.

At the same instant, Spock dropped the statboard. He clutched the sides of his head, his face a twisted mask of agony. Then he, too, lost consciousness and collapsed.

Lieutenant Commander Uhura, abruptly the ranking officer on the Bridge, quickly hit the emergency claxon and called for Sickbay as the rest of the Bridge crew clustered around their fallen Captain and First Officer.


Doctor Leonard McCoy was almost to the Sickbay door when the call came from the Bridge. At Uhura's, "Medical emergency, the Captain and Commander Sulu are down," he quickly delegated Dr. Sanchez to Engineering and headed to the Bridge himself.


When Scott reached the lab, the damage control party was already inside, extinguishing the flames from various pieces of flammable equipment. He gasped, "Valley, Majiir?!" and Ensign Aldo stared at him with a face almost blank in its confusion.

"Sir...?" the ensign began helplessly.

"Are they alright, man!" Scott bellowed.

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

"Ach, for the love of..." Scott began, and pushed past the ensign into the lab. The first thing he saw was the bodies; red and blue coveralls scorched and blood-stained, faces ashen and crossed with cuts and scratches.

"Ahh, lassies..." he breathed. Then he noticed Lieutenant Mrraal standing against the far wall, well away from the explosion site. The tall, black Caitian was cradling another body in his muscled, fur-covered arms. "Was there someone else working with 'em, then?" Scott asked.

Mrraal's response startled him. The usually strong, growling voice was barely a whisper. "No, Mr. Scott, sir. I don't think so. No, sir."

"What are ye sayin' lad? I can see for myself that..." Scott stepped closer to Mrraal and the woman he carried. With a sudden start, Scott realized that the young woman was naked. Then he stopped short as she stirred, her eyes fluttering open.

"Scotty?" said a voice that was weak, but light, rich, musical - and familiar.

"Lass?" Scott whispered. "What did you do?"


It was really the only thing she could've done. The laser drill had touched the casing of the mind-sifter, and she knew the split second before it exploded. There had been no time to pull - the Other - away; no time to even shout a warning. No time to move away herself, as if she could have tried to save herself at - the Other's - expense. The bodies she could deal with easily... but the minds were in terror at the memory and she could not keep whole from Without. They were already racing away, leaving the bodies in horror. So she did what was needed to save them both.

And in so doing, lost herself, lost - the Other - and became simply her.


"Scotty?" she said again.

"Who are you?" Scott asked in bewilderment.

The undeniably lovely features of the young woman grew puzzled. "Don't you know me? I’m Jith. Jith Valjiir."

"Jith Valjiir," Scott repeated in a daze. He stared at her for a long moment, then sighed deeply. "Aye." He shook his confusion away. "But how, lassie? How?"

Jith Valjiir had no answer to Scott's question.


Uhura had restored order on the Bridge by the time McCoy arrived. Spock and Sulu were lying on the deck, Tamura hovering over Sulu, Chekov kneeling beside Spock. McCoy checked the readings of his medical scanner, and fixed a vial of stimulant to a hypospray. Before he could administer it, Sulu opened his eyes.

"What hit me?" the helmsman croaked.

"Why don't you tell me, son," McCoy responded as he studied the new readings on his scanner.

"I would if I knew. I thought..." Sulu shook his head. "What happened?"

"You passed out."

"After letting out a scream that could've awakened the dead," Tamura put in. Sulu glanced at her, plainly troubled.

McCoy turned as Spock rose from the deck, waving Chekov's assistance away. The doctor was not too surprised to see that the Vulcan, too, had regained consciousness. "Captain, can you tell me what happened to you?"

Spock paused before answering, obviously disconcerted. "Had you asked me that question a few moments ago, and had I been capable of responding, I could have given you a rational answer."

"Your readings are as normal as they get for you," McCoy commented. "Start making sense."

One eyebrow rose in the expected, sardonic reaction. McCoy's gruff manner, more than anything else, reassured Spock that all was well with him and his First Officer. "To put it in terms you are able to understand. Doctor, Ruth died." Before McCoy could react, Spock quickly added, "But she is not dead now."

"I said start making sense."

"That is as much sense as I can make of it. I felt Ruth die. Yet my telepathic awareness of her remains."

McCoy paused. "There was a call from Engineering just before this one."

Sulu leapt to his feet, his face going pale. "My god," he said, staring at Spock, "Is that what...? Did I feel...? Because of the bond.... God, Jilla!"


Dr. Sanchez ordered the two bodies put immediately under full life support. There was heartbeat and respiration in both, but no evidence of brainwave activity. The young woman was given a medical gown and placed on a diagnostic table. Sanchez began a complete physical examination. He did his best to concentrate on his work, and not on the woman's appearance or origin. But it wasn't easy when who - what - she was, was so obvious.

She was of a medium height for a Human female; about five feet, five inches tall. Her hair was a deep strawberry blonde and cascaded to the center of her back. Her skin tone was a pale cream. Her eyes, while large, weren't unusually so, and were a deep, sapphire blue. All in all, very Human coloring. Except, she wasn't Human. The scanner showed a hybrid of Antari, Indiian, and Vulcan.

Jith Valjiir was the perfect name for her.


Sulu raced into Sickbay, with Spock and McCoy close behind him. All he saw was Jilla's body in the life support field. He rushed to her side, staring desperately at the indicator panel. The heartbeat was slow, but regular. Sulu breathed a silent, thankful prayer to all the gods he knew of, resting his head in weary relief on the support unit.

"And just who is she, Sulu?"

Sulu's head jerked up at the voice. It was soft, hurting, fearful - and had a bitter tone that he knew very well. He found himself staring into Jilla’s haunted eyes; except they were contained in a face that was not Jilla’s.


Spock closed his eyes to the sight of Ruth's body. There was no denying it: the presence he felt did not emanate from that body. Instead, he was drawn to a young woman who rested on a diagnostic bed across the Sickbay room. A young woman who reacted both to Sulu's grief and the release of his fear; reacted with a sense of pain and betrayal that could only come from Jilla's being. A young woman who looked not like Ruth, or like Jilla, but much more like a combination of.....

"What the devil...!?" McCoy thundered.

"Please, Bones, not so loud," the young woman said, her hands coming up to the sides of her head. "My ears are still ringing from the explosion."

McCoy stared, his jaw dropping. "Who in the name of God are you?"

She made a face that looked very much like Ruth's did when expressing exasperation. "Has everyone come down with amnesia? I'm Jith."

"Jith?!" McCoy stated, flustered. "Jith who?"

The answer came not from her, but from Spock. He simply said, "Valjiir."

Jith smiled. "At least someone knows me."

"Ji - Jith?" Sulu stammered. The haunted eyes again turned to him.

"You have made it very clear what you remember, husband."

A look of very real pain crossed Sulu's features. "I don't understand,” he stammered. “I'd never hurt you again - hurt Jilla..."

"WHO IS JILLA!" Jith suddenly screamed. The torment in her eyes and voice propelled Sulu to her. She fought his embrace only briefly, then collapsed into his arms, sobbing.

McCoy cleared his throat. "Who the hell is Jith Valjiir?"

Spock turned to him, his manner rigid. "She is Jilla/Ruth-Valley/Majiir. Jith Valjiir."

"But... Spock, how in blue blazes...?!"

"That I do not know, Doctor."

Sulu stepped away from the now calm Jith. "Spock," he said warily, "this is my bondmate."

Spock's eyebrow rose in assent. "Indeed, Mr. Sulu. She is also my wife."

"How can..."

"Because I'm both," Jith put in with an exasperated sigh. "I thought this was all settled years ago."

"Years ago?" Sulu asked.

"Miss - Mrs. Valjiir," Spock began.

Why so formal, beloved?

Spock started at the voice in his mind. Dei'larr'ei?

Who else?

Spock took a deep breath. "You must understand," he said aloud, "that your existence began approximately ten minutes ago."

Jith blinked. "I beg your pardon?"

"You did not exist until..."

"Parted from me, and never parted."

It was Spock's turn to blink. When he said nothing further, Jith’s features hardened, but her eyes again took on the haunted quality. "You'll deny me as well, husband?"

Swallowing, Spock murmured, "Ever and always touching and touched."

With a relieved sigh, Jith held out two fingers. "Don't scare me like that," she said, and Spock glanced at Sulu before joining his fingers to hers.

Sulu's eyes had taken on their own haunted look; one coupled with anger and bitter memory. "You were about to tell her the truth, Captain," he said stiffly.

"This is truth," Spock replied, silently imploring the Human to understand. "As she is your bondmate."

"Those were words of bonding, Spock, " Sulu pointed out. "They weren't said to me."

"Yet she and I have spoken them as well."

"I don't..."

"Enough!" Jith broke in. "Jealousy does not become either of you." Her gaze moved back and forth between them. "Don't you remember that I love you both? Equally?"

"I hate to break up this joyous reunion," McCoy broke in. Jith made a face at him - Jilla's emotion, Ruth's reaction. "But don't you all think there's a few thousand tests I should be runnin’ - not to mention a few million questions she should be answerin’?"

"I've already started a full battery," Dr. Sanchez interjected.

"Not with my permission," Jith returned, her blue eyes flashing.

"Since when do I need permission from you to run my Sickbay?" McCoy retorted.

"Shouldn't you receive it from someone who is versed in medical matters?"

The voice was teasing and Spock and Sulu exchanged glances. This time, Jith displayed Ruth’s reaction within a very Jilla-like statement.

"Now, see here, little lady..." McCoy began again.

"I'm not little," Jith stated, abruptly cold.

"Dr. McCoy," Spock Interrupted. "Miss - Mrs. Valjiir is neither Jilla nor Ruth. The issue at hand..."

"Why do you keep doing that, and WHO is Jilla - or Ruth, for that matter?!" Jith demanded shrilly.

Sulu automatically reached for her hands, his usual gesture of comfort when Jilla became overwrought. Spock noted, but ignored it, as well as the emotion it provoked within him.

"What is it I keep doing?" the Vulcan asked calmly.

Jith sighed. "I do not wish to deal with constant irritation," she said.

Abruptly McCoy burst into laughter. "That was Jilla sayin’ I don't need the aggravation!" he exclaimed.

"Bones, really!" Jith replied in annoyance, then looked back to Spock. "You keep saying 'Miss - Mrs.’ I am as married as it is possible for me to be, why would you call me 'Miss'?" She glanced back at McCoy. "Now will someone tell me who these Ruth and Jilla persons are?"

"There, hon," Sulu said, pointing to the bodies on the beds across the room.

Jith sat farther up, staring at them. "Oh, I'm sorry," she said softly. Her face grew puzzled. "I don't remember them." She paused, then took a deep breath. "How were they hurt? Bones, can I...?"

"You are keheil?" Spock interjected.

Jith only gave him an exasperated look.

"They were working on a mind-sifter that exploded," McCoy answered, and waited for her reaction.

"That's impossible," Jith stated. "I was working on it alone, and there was only one..." Her voice trailed off.

"There was an explosion," Spock reiterated. "Ruth Valley," He gestured to Ruth's still form. "And Jilla Majiir - " Again he gestured. " - were examining the device. After the explosion, they were left comatose, and you had appeared." His eyes carefully searched hers. "You say your name is Jith Valjiir, and you are keheil."

Jith stared at the bodies, then at Spock. She swallowed. "Sulu...?" she implored.

"It's why I went to her, Jith," he said softly.

"But I'm...!"

"Ruth, who is my wife, and Jilla, who is bonded to Sulu," Spock said, "and yet, neither."

"I'm ME!" Jith replied in a panicked voice. "I know who I am! I know my life, my past! I don't have any memory blocks..." She gasped suddenly. "Or do I? If I had amnesia, I wouldn't know it. But I don't think I'm sixteen. I don't think anything that's wrong..."

"Except your own identity," Spock returned gently.

"NO!" Jith cried. Hysteria overcame her and she screamed it over and over. Sulu once again took her in comforting arms, trying to quiet her with whispered words and soothing caresses. The alert signals from the monitor over her bed sounded suddenly. McCoy studied them in growing alarm. She didn't calm, and the readings got more erratic. McCoy quickly stepped in with a hypo spray. In seconds, Jith was unconscious and her readings returned to their previous state.

Spock watched the display with increasing concern. It was uncomfortable, for his telepathic awareness told him that this was his wife. Yet as a Vulcan, he could recognize the bond that existed between her and Sulu as well. There was, however, no reconciling the two. Despite his emotions, despite Sulu's, there could be only one logical course of action. It would distress Jith - Mrs. Valjiir - but that was unavoidable. Until and unless the situation could be remedied, he had no other choice. "Mr. Sulu," he said. Sulu glanced up. "Is such contact wise?"

"Well, I'll be - Spock, you’re jealous!" McCoy blurted out. Spock turned an annoyed look on him.

"Indeed, Doctor," he said sternly. Sulu's gaze suddenly held wary concern.

"At least he didn't deny it," McCoy mumbled as he turned away.

"Are you, Spock?" Sulu asked quietly.

"Mr. Sulu, this young woman is not mine to be jealous of," Spock replied.

"I thought you said..."

"Neither is she yours," Spock finished.

"Told you," McCoy muttered.

Sulu bristled. "She knows she's my wife," he pointed out.

"And mine; yet, as I have also said," Spock reiterated, "she is neither. I signed no contract with a Jith Valjiir."

"You spoke the words of bonding..."

"A reaction to her emotions and my own uncertainty as to how best to deal with this situation."

"So you're telling me I'm supposed to treat her like she was a stranger?" Sulu demanded. "You saw how she reacted when we first came in. I went to Jilla - Jilla's body - and she was…” He swallowed. “It wasn't exactly her voice or her manner, but I know that tone. I won't hurt her like that again."

"And she's still part Ruthle, Spock," McCoy added. "You don't want her thinkin’ you're pushin' her away again, do you?"

Spock regarded the doctor carefully. "My wife and I have put that behind us. And I believe, Doctor, that you are enjoying this."

McCoy straightened. "I'm just tryin’ to help clarify the situation," he protested.

"It needs no clarification. The young woman is not my wife, nor is she Mr. Sulu's. She will be treated accordingly." Spock turned to Sulu. "Have I made my position clear, Commander?"

"If you can tell me how to 'treat her accordingly’ without hurting her," Sulu murmured. "You say she's neither. It's obvious she's both." He exhaled, military training returning. "Yes, sir. Clear, sir.” He gently extricated himself from the arms that clung to him, even in unconsciousness. "But I don't know if you're right, Captain."

"We have duty to return to," Spock said.

"Aye, sir." Sulu left the Sickbay with a lingering glance at Jith and at Jilla's body.


"Well, I'm gonna try and make sense out of these readings," McCoy said, He plugged the diagnostic scanner into the link-up for the computer. "I'll be in my office if you need me, Captain."

Spock nodded. When McCoy had gone, he stood next to Jith's bed, staring down at her. She is like, and yet not like them both, he thought. He saw more of Ruth in her - and immediately wondered if Sulu saw more of Jilla. She had Ruth's slender figure, as he preferred, but more petite, as was common for Vulcan's women; nearly all of Ruth's hair, but with a touch of Jilla's burgundy richness; the large eyes, which meant the sensitive temples he loved, and Ruth's depth of color, if not the tint. Her mouth was Jilla's - and he asked silent pardon of Ruth for preferring that as well. He was still uncertain about the extent of her telepathy - though she claimed by exasperated silence to be keheil. Was there sensitivity as well? He debated whether or not to interrupt McCoy to ascertain it. Her head turned suddenly, her hair falling back, and he nodded pleased approval at the delicate, curving point to her ear. Now, if she does indeed have Jilla's emotional and mental acceptance - perfection?

As nothing else in the galaxy could be.


The deep blue eyes suddenly opened directly into his, a teasing smile on sensual lips. In his mind a soft, rich voice said, with just a trace of taunting joy, I hear, and await your need, husband.

Spock took an awkward step back. That was not the nature of my call.

She signed. "Oh, alright. I think you're just afraid Bones will catch us." She sat up again, shaking her head. "I hate his potions. Why did he think I needed it?"

"You were hysterical," Spock replied, his calm voice belying his alarm. It was obvious that Jith either did not remember the events just prior to McCoy's sedative, or was deliberately choosing to ignore them.

She swung her legs over the side of the bed. "May I go home, Spock? You know how I hate Sickbay."

"I'm afraid you must remain here until we can decide what is to be done with you."

"Can't I wait at home?"

"Jith - Mrs. Valjiir, I..." Spock stopped abruptly as a quiet Shhhh sounded in his mind and Jith reached up to him. Two fingers gently stroked his cheek. Her eyes were shining, no longer teasing; seeing deeply into him.

Kras'ken tring'h, fon farrern,” she whispered, and it echoed within him. 'I love your beauty, husband.’ He recognized the helplessly romantic feeling, the gentle submission, as well as the boldness, the statement of physical attraction. Perfect. Her hand reached behind his head to tenderly urge him toward her. Her lips touched his with a sweet, fresh taste before he pulled sharply away.

Spock? she questioned silently.

"I... must return to my duty," he stated, only faltering once.

She grinned, relenting. "A dedicated captain," she said, then added hesitantly, "Later?"

"Perhaps. Rest well - Jith." He moved toward the door, glanced back to find her staring at him, and watched her head lower - but the smile remained and her eyes glistened playfully.


"You're supposed to be asleep," McCoy grumbled as he walked back into Sickbay. Jith turned to him.

"How did you know?" she asked.

"Vital signs picked up," he said. "Well, as long as you're awake, we might as well get started."

"Get started?"

"I need to find out just what you remember."

Jith sighed. "I remember everything, Bones."

"Suppose you tell me."

"This is hardly necessary."

"Humor me."

Jith sighed again, wondering why she liked this man, and lay back on the bed. He sat down beside her. "Where do I start?"

"Where were you born?"

"On the Alterra ship, Blakely."

"Who's your mother and father?"

"You really do want everything, don't you?"

"I sure do, little lady."

"I've told you, I'm not little."

"Depends on who you're next to, doesn't it?"

Jith cocked her head to one side. "I never looked at it that way." She smiled. "Alright." She took a deep breath. "My mother was Keheil Ramy ani Randal. My father is Ambassador Jole Costain. My mother was killed in the crash of the Blakely." She swallowed, then went on. "I tried to save her, but my own injuries were too severe. I didn't have the strength to heal myself and her and Benjamin - she was pregnant with him. I tried but... I was young and she wasn't about to let me die to save her. She died trying to save Benjamin, and I simply didn't have the strength..." Her voice faded. McCoy patted her hand, and she smiled weakly. "It was long ago. Bones."

He said, simply, "I know."

"I went to Alterra University, got my doctorates. I was at my father's house on Indi - "

"What are your doctorates in?" McCoy interrupted.

"Engineering and Computer Science," Jith replied. "You know that."

"Go on."

Jith shook her head, smoothing her hair behind her ears. "I was at my father's house when I met Selar." A wistful smile claimed her features. "We fell in love and were wed, mnorindar." She closed her left hand into a fist around her scar. "I went with him to Vulcan. But I was unable to adjust, and he loved me - he did love me! That was why he - altered - "

"I know, genetic changes," McCoy said for her.

"We were happy, then... until..." She swallowed a sob. "It hurts to talk of this, Bones."

"Alright. Did you join Starfleet after - ?"

"Yes," Jith replied with a wan, grateful smile. "My father took me. The Academy was pleased to accept me." The smile brightened. "Naturally.

"In what field?"

"Engineering, Sciences, and Command training."

"Couldn't make up your mind, eh?"

Jith scowled. "When one is good, Bones, one is good."

McCoy grinned. "Of course. Go on."

"I had one serious affair, with - " She blinked, as if something had abruptly disturbed her, then went on. "Noel DelMonde. It lasted until he graduated. He needed me, and I - needed - " Her face became vaguely troubled. McCoy watched her intently. "I had to try and help... he had no shielding and the Vulcans didn't understand his empathy... It was a healing." The troubled look vanished. "Yes, that must have been why I didn't.... it was a healing."

"Why you didn't what, Jith?"

Jith refused to look at him. "Why I didn't feel damned," she whispered.

"Ah," was all McCoy said. Then, after a pause, "That makes sense. Go on, please."

"This is really very silly, Bones," she complained, as if her uneasiness had never existed.

McCoy noted it and urged again, "Humor me."

Jith folded her arms, but went on. "At graduation, I was assigned to the Enterprise. I wanted an Engineering assignment, but you needed a Science officer more, so... I took what was available." She smiled again. "I think I was already in love with Spock, just from reading his tapes at Alterra, and, of course, he's Vulcan. But when I saw Sulu....

"Love at first sight, huh?" McCoy chuckled.

Jith blushed, her skin glowing pink. "He's very attractive. Bones."

"Hadn't noticed, myself. Go on."

"Well, everything was fine, until... after a few weeks... Selar's restructuring of my... caused..."

"You went into pon farr."

"Yes." Jith's voice was barely audible.

"I think I know this part, Jith."


"But I'm afraid you'll have to tell me anyway."

"You have no heart."

"Just doin' what I have to do." McCoy shrugged. "Sorry."

"You're forgiven, though I don't know why." She took a deep breath. "Spock tried to - complete it. But I was in love with Sulu, and your miracle cure only solidified what already existed between us. I wanted to accept Spock's honorable solution, but I was unable to forsake Sulu. And yet..." She paused, looking into McCoy's eyes. "You have never understood how I felt, why I kept so distant from them both. You do not comprehend eternity, Bones, or my damnation. Pon farr was not a thing I chose. If - when - I gave myself to either of them, that would be of my own choosing. To accept that I am damned is one thing. To participate in that damnation is quite another. It was not - still is not, despite all that has happened - an easy thing for me to do. That I have managed to do it is testament to my love for my husbands. I couldn't bear to see them hurt; that pain grew worse than the pain of damnation. And so I at last accepted."

"Oh," McCoy said. "I think I can understand that, when you put it that way."

"It's about time. Bones."

"Yes; yes, it is."

There was silence for a while, then Jith said, "Shall I enumerate our missions?"

"No, just go on with what you remember about your personal life."

"Alright. I was quite miserable for a while; trying to avoid Sulu's insistence and trying to make Spock see that my refusal to marry him wasn't a rejection of him. My love for them both grew deeper until..." She paused, then whispered, "Shas." Her eyes suddenly blazed. "I would've salished Spock if you hadn't interrupted!"

'You what?!" McCoy exclaimed.

"You heard me! In the shuttle, he was reaching for me - I was reaching for him - you pulled me away!"

"I - I thought...for God's sake, girl, the man had just beaten the hell out of... what am I saying?" McCoy interrupted himself. He recalled clearly what had happened: Spock, mad from the forced withdrawal from his cordrazine addiction, had hallucinated. He had seen McCoy as Sarek, Jilla as Amanda. When they had argued about Jilla's attempts at comfort, he’d heard parental arguments about his Humaness. Ruth had broken in, trying to force Spock to use his Vulcan nature to combat the hallucination. Spock, delirious, had rejected the call to be only Vulcan. He had made his point violently by attacking the voice that demanded it; Ruth's.

But, of course, McCoy wasn't talking to Ruth. Was he?

"Couldn't you tell, couldn't you see?!" Jith went on, oblivious to McCoy's mental gyrations. "After that, what could I do but move in with Sulu?"

"Now where's the logic in that?" McCoy countered.

"I was only making them both as miserable as I was. Thanks to you, Spock pulled away from me. All I had left - all I thought I had left was Sulu. So I committed to him. I gave in. I had to return to Indi, to perform the telin-arin. Yet Spock came with me, helped me stay sane. I don't think I could've lived through it if he hadn't." She glared fiercely. "It is fortunate for you that things have turned out so well!"

"Calm down, Jith-girl," McCoy began.

"My name is Jith! Just Jith! WHY do Humans have to change a given name for alleged affection's sake?!"

McCoy burst out laughing. He couldn't help it. Jilla's indignation coupled with Ruth's temper was too much for him. In seconds, Jith had joined him.

When they had both recovered enough to talk, Jith said, "Why do you do that to me? You know I'm a sensitive. I can't help but laugh when you do."

"Well, it defuses a lot of silly confrontations, doesn't it?" McCoy asked.

Jith smiled. "Yes, I suppose it does. I'm sorry, Bones. I know it wasn't really your fault."

"Generous of you, Jith. Now, can we go on?"

"Yes. I remember being mind-sifted... and - " she choked on the name " - Kor." Her eyes closed. "I saved Sulu, healed Spock.... Bones, what is the point of all this?"

"Just checking it against the facts."

"What facts? I'm giving you the facts."

"Jith, you've been told about - Ruth and Jilla."

She stiffened. "I don't remember."

"Alright, just go on."

She sighed deeply. "There's so much.... I remember Alpha Metaxa and Jim..." She broke off, blushing. "And the witch hunt - I was so afraid, Bones. I believed what the Elihuites said – about me, about Sulu…. It's a wonder he forgave the things I said - " Abruptly, she looked up at him. "Or didn't he? Is that why, did I drive him to - oh, goddess, sumin tu!" She started crying, and McCoy awkwardly tried to comfort her.

"I have never understood," she sobbed. "I never thought I needed to. He accepted Judgment and that was all I... but he had reasons, didn't he, Bones? I was to blame as well!"

"There, there, Jith, It's alright. It's over now. We don't have to talk about Ensign LiLing."

Jith sniffed, looking into his eyes. "Did you really think I murdered her?"

"No, I just had to be sure. Let's just skip all this, alright?"

Wiping her tears, Jith nodded. "Spock helped me then, too," she said. "We had signed the contract by then..."

"Whoa, back up," McCoy broke in. "Tell me about that."

"Bones, you were there."


"Vulcan. Spock had to appear and settle T'Pring's claim, since he hadn't killed anyone for her."

"Alright, I know all that. Why did you decide to marry Spock after living with Sulu?"

Jith's head tilted wistfully. "Terry," she said.


"A boy I knew when I was young, an Indiian."

McCoy said nothing, but he listened attentively.

"I met him on Terra, oddly enough." She laughed. "My first love. He taught me how to accept myself; how to love.” She paused. “Come to think of it, he looked a lot like Sulu."

"An Indiian that looked like Sulu?" McCoy questioned.

"Well, not really. His smile was the same. And he was half Human, Japanese even, so he had black hair and eyes. I guess that's why I think that. He called me - " Jith's voice stopped. "Zilama," she said wonderingly.

"What's 'zilama'?"

"It means mother of acceptance, the Aeman equivalent of the Terran 'godmother.’ On Indi, parents ask their closest friends to serve as zilama and zilos - father of acceptance,” she added before McCoy could ask. “They are – surrogates – substitutes should anything happen to the parents, because Indiian children cannot survive without the tia of their parents. Zilos and zilama are named at the child’s zil-arin – and that's the ceremony of presentation to Aema. It is performed when a child is one week old," she explained. She paused again, pursing her lips. "I wonder why he called me that?" Abruptly she shook off the question. "He played duets with me on his violin."

"What did you play?" McCoy asked.

"My guitar. I didn't know how to play the lyrette then."

"I see. Go on."

"He left me - after one glorious week. He said he had to, and I didn't question him. I knew he loved me. Wherever he is, I know he still does." She shook her head again. "Anyway, Spock and I experienced a strange, dual hallucination aimed at us by voyeuristic telepaths. In it, I was with Terry again, only on the ship. And in it, I realized that Spock was who I wanted to be with, even if I had the chance to go with Terry."

"And what about Sulu?"

"I think Terry represented him, too."

"How did you ever get Sulu to agree to your marrying Spock?"

"He knew we were still bonded from the pon farr. There really wasn't much choice."

"Fascinating," McCoy muttered, then shrugged at Jith's pointed frown. "Go on."

"I wish you'd find something else to say. You sound too much like Dr. Han," Jith said, but she continued. "Everything was fine, then, between all of us - except for Ensign LiLing." McCoy nodded. "Then Jim disappeared. It was hard, and Spock made it so much harder. He was so cold, so isolated. I - I began to believe he hated me. He refused to let me share, or help... I heard all the rumors, began to believe he was trying to kill... to kill me. Because I refused to... let him... he tried to... to take... to command..." Her voice trailed off, the faint color left her cheeks. Her hands came up to her temples and she closed her eyes. "I think... no, I know... He tried to... said it was all he.... what I wanted.... but he wouldn't let... I tried and he..." She was shaking, and the readings on the scanner started fluctuating wildly. "I know... I know.... Zehara, I..."

McCoy turned quickly to the comm, ordering Spock and Sulu to return to Sickbay, on the double.


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