Sweet Fire

original story by C Petterson and S Sizemore
rewritten by Cheryl Petterson

(Standard Year 2247)

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Kirk was pacing in his cabin. They’d made several warning transmissions to the Borderline and received several blandly easy replies that the Havens were “just doing business” with thinly-veiled taunts that, as far as the illegal trading went, “prove it.” So far, no one to whom the Havens had allegedly sold illegal pharmaceuticals was willing to testify against them. This helplessness was a new sensation, one he didn’t like. He couldn’t deal with the Borderline as he would have preferred: Federation starships didn’t blow trading vessels out of space without warning even if that vessel was gunned. He had to come at them openly, give an ultimatum and let them fire on him before he could touch them. The most he could do until then were warning shots. Damn Havens! he thought. Why do they have to make everything so damned difficult? And then to be so disgustingly urbane, so damned cheerful about it…

The stream of thought made him grin momentarily. He even thought like…

Like me?

White noise. And on top of the problems the Borderline presented, he had to find a way to stop Valley and Majiir. He had underestimated them at every turn. Your fault, he thought casually. You’re blind to their potential.

Am I? Or have you been underestimating me as well?

He’ll never die if you keep addressing him! Kirk swore at himself. What do I do? If they actually cure Spock… Yes, cordrazine addiction is supposed to be incurable, but don’t put it past them. He’ll tell them, and I’ll be examined – and no one will find anything amiss. It will be his word against mine, and cured or not, he’s still an addict.

Unless they get into the computer records.

Unless I erase them.

He grinned again and went to the terminal on his desk. He carefully called up the coding he’d used, releasing the classifications. The computer responded:

“Unable to comply.”

What!” Kirk burst out, then calmed himself. “Disclose derivation!” he barked at the computer.

“All classified coding is under Supervisory protection.”

“Override, authorization Captain James T. Kirk, code 0100.”

“Unable to comply.”

“Damn! Who did it!” Kirk hadn’t been addressing the computer and so wasn’t expecting an answer, but he got one.

“Supervisor instruction coded by R. M. Valley, Lieutenant, Acting Science Officer, clearance level A-8, authorization James T. Kirk, Captain.”

You did it, you did it to yourself, you authorized her access after you made her temporary Chief! Jim crowed.

There was a sculpture on the desk and Kirk sent it flying across the cabin. To his greater frustration, it didn’t break. He roared incoherently, pushing books from a small rack, tearing at the grillwork, overturning the desk chair and finally throwing himself against the bulkhead.

He breathed deeply, the rage spent, forcing thought back into the mind that was laughing at him. They knew, and they had the proof. There was more to this than needing Spock sane to confirm it. Even if the Vulcan died, he was in danger. They knew what he’d done, and even if they couldn’t prove it was him, they could destroy him. Would they care, at this point, that it would be destroying Jim as well? Or would they consider that an acceptable loss?

I would.

Die! What if they found a way to displace him… Abruptly he knew what he had to do. They’d head for a place to find his origin and a fatal weakness, and he was stuck pandering to the Borderline!

You’re the captain, he reminded himself. They’re traitors, saboteurs, deserters. Your crew will be only too happy to obey an order to go after them, and if you catch them, Fleet won’t fault your actions at all. And I will catch them!

He strode to the com and called the Bridge with new instructions: Head immediately for Shas.


Sulu was due to leave the Bridge, but when Kirk’s orders came through there was nothing that could’ve pried him off the Helm. He didn’t know what the Captain had planned, why exactly he’d ordered the ship to Shas, but he knew it had to have something to do with the shuttle. Maybe there was some reason they’d head there with Spock. Maybe the tapes found in the search of their cabin had contained some pertinent information. Not that it mattered what Kirk knew or how he knew it. All that was important was getting to the damned shuttle. Be honest, he told himself angrily, you don’t care about the shuttle, or the desertion, or Spock. All you want is Jilla.

Yeah, it’ll give me such pleasure to drag the bitch to the Brig…

He’d already volunteered to lead the security team when the shuttle was found. He wanted to see her face him. He wanted her to know what she had done to him, to look at, to feel his barren anguish. He wanted to burn her with his agony, to know, just for an instant, that he eclipsed the pain of the scar on her left palm. And then show her that he could desert and betray her

Yeah, sure. She’s my life, and when she goes, so will I.

Seppuku, samurai?

I’m dishonored as all hell, aren’t I?

Won’t seeing her taken avenge it?

No, not the weakness, not the folly, not the sheer, monumental stupidity of trusting her; worse, of wanting to trust her.

Seppuku’s a little dramatic, isn’t it?

So is ‘I love you.’

So why can’t I stop?


“What in Saford’s Hell are they doing now?” Iriden demanded in total exasperation. “That’s no way to run a business!”

“It’s a government, Luk,” Manda reminded.

“Shut up and tell me what’s going on.”

“Sure.” Manda turned from the sensors. “They hung, dead in space, for a couple of days. The silence was unnerving. Then they went off after their invisible shuttle, then came roaring back, coming for us, guns blazing. They had us dead to rights and in their sights. We were shaking in our boots. Then they veered off again as if we’d ceased to exist, or vanished like that shuttle or whatever it was.” She grinned, then shrugged. “You asked.”

“That’s what happened,” Iriden said irritably. “I asked what was going on.”

“That I do not know.”

“What good are you?”

“Shall we retire to your cabin so I can show you?” Manda sighed breathily.

Iriden scowled and Manda giggled.

“I don’t suppose Kirk would tell me if I called and asked him,” Iriden muttered. He sighed, then stood up from the command chair. “All right, let’s go over this. What possible reason could he have for leaving us alone? The Feds changed their minds?” There was a chorus of ‘not bloody likely.’ “He’s scared of us?” Outright laughter. “Klingons?”

“None we can see,” Jae said.

“So that leaves – what? We’re too little a fish to bother with?”

Anori turned from Communications. “This is war we’re talking about, Luk,” she said.

“Well?” Iriden demanded.

“Some new trick of Jimmy’s?” Sel suggested from the pilot’s seat.

“Obviously. What?”

“He isn’t worried about us, that’s for damn sure,” Yasunal muttered.

“I don’t like the sound of that,” Jae added uneasily.

Iriden considered for a moment. “Hallucinogenic warp shuttles, taking off like a bat out of hell after two and half days of silence – in the opposite direction – coming back only to – “ He looked up and at his crew. “Anybody see any reason to stick around long enough to find out?”

Several seconds of silence and exchanged glances brought several ‘not on a bet’s.

“But Luk,” Manda said, “What will we tell the Emperor?”

“More importantly, what will we tell the Monolems?” Jae clarified.

Iriden stared at each of them in turn, then shrugged. “You win some, you lose some. Let’s get the hell out of here.”


She knew, even as she did it, that it was wrong.

McCoy was asleep. He’d given Ruth a sedative after the Antari had insisted on changing from her uniform - it was 'too yucky' - and back into her keheil's outfit, then had succumbed to a fit of delium from exhaustion and lack of protein. It would only give her a few hours rest at most. Then she would try to eat and begin another round of keeping Spock alive through his demons.

Jilla glanced at her. Even in sleep, there was no peace in her face. She still struggled with Spock’s fear, trying to keep it from becoming her own. If Spock dies, it was very likely that he would take Ruth with him. Jilla knew the keheil was prepared for that, but as much as she had repeated it to herself, Jilla was not. To lose Ruth’s bright essence as well as her mate’s – with no gentle, patient adoration to return to… how would she survive?

And why should you, temnor! she spat at herself. If you had died when you should have…

Panic overwhelmed her, and she refused it. No, he will live, Ruth will live! I will see to it, I will do something… anything…

And so she turned to Spock, lying on the cot. He was shivering, his arms still twitching in the restraints. His face was gleaming with sweat and, as she watched, a tear fell from one tightly closed eye. Pain welled up inside her, a pain that would know release or break her, and she dropped to her knees beside him.

She stroked his forehead, brushing the damp hair aside. He opened fevered eyes, staring at her. She gently touched his face, wiping away the single tear. “Peace, Spock,” she whispered to him. “There is nothing to fear, I am here, I will stay with you.”

He croaked out a single word. “Mother?”

Jilla’s own tears fell to her cheeks. She should tell him no, preach the virtues of Vulcan strength and logic. But his eyes, his tia begged for this new hallucination to be true. Her love for him, her duty to him, the pity and helplessness and desperate fear mingled within her, and Jilla was never sure which it was that made her release the restraints and pull his tortured body into her arms.

He curled immediately against her, his arms hugging tightly around her waist. She kissed his cheek, rocking him slowly, whispering a song Vulcan mothers sang to their children.


Spock closed his eyes. The pain would leave now. Pain always left when Mother held him. He did not understand it, and her answer to his questions was illogical: “Because I love you.” When he was younger, he had thought that this love she spoke of so often was some great, unusual power that Humans possessed. He had asked her about that, too; if he, being half-Human, would know this power. She had smiled, sadly – strange how she could combine the two – and said, “I hope so, dear.” He knew now, of course, that love was an emotion, to be controlled and dealt with like any other. Yet her love still eased the pain.


McCoy woke first. He immediately glanced at the cot. Jilla sat cradling Spock’s tightly curled body, crooning softly to him. Didn’t the damn fool Indiian know how dangerous he was unrestrained? His exhaustion made him speak harshly.

“Jilla, what the hell do you think you’re doing?” he asked.

It shattered the calm. Jilla looked up, the song dying on her lips. Spock stiffened.

“Doctor, it helped,” she said. “He is not violent."

“Do you want to act out your fantasies or do you want to cure the man?” McCoy snapped.

“He was resting comfortably,” Jilla responded curtly. “He forgot the craving, it proved that he can. He will be the stronger for it.”

“And you know he’ll respond to you even when you’re not bombarding him with chemical lust, is that it?”


Spock opened his eyes. The comforting had ceased. He could feel a sharp pain flowing through him, then realized it came from the mind of his mother. Someone had hurt her.

“He is Vulcan,” he heard a stern voice say. “His strength has to come from logic if he’s to survive. You know that, you agreed to it.”

“He was hurting. I had to do something.”

He had heard these arguments before; rarely, but he had heard them. They thought he was asleep.

“You’ll undo all we’ve done. He needs to be Vulcan.”

He looked up. His mother trembled. He knew what would come next. Yes, Sarek, you are, of course, correct. It is my weakness, forgive me. If it was so correct, why did the pain fill her, why did it fill him? Why had it never given him any peace, why did being Vulcan bring only empty loneliness? Why, then, did his father never approve of him, regardless of how Vulcan he was?

NO!” Spock roared. He leapt up from his mother’s arms and glared balefully at his father. “Leave her alone!

“Spock, NO!” his mother cried.

“She is Human, you cannot make her other!” Spock went on. “Accept what she is, accept what I am! Not as a disgrace to you, the galaxy does not revolve around you! I am a being, independent of you! What I do reflects on me and me alone! I am your son, not your extension!”


McCoy stared, open-mouthed as Spock bellowed at him. Jilla did the only thing she could think of.

“Spock,” she said sternly, “You will not speak to your father in that manner!”

Spock whirled to face her. “Mother, he hurts you!” he rasped.

“That is my affair,” she returned as calmly as she could. “You will not intrude on our marriage.”


“You will do as your father wishes.” Jilla turned from him to hide her grieving tears, and saw Ruth rising from the pilot’s chair.

“Have you no wishes of your own?” Spock shouted. “Am I to deny you for the sake of my father?”


Ruth quickly cleared her head of the sedative. She had heard the whole exchange, beginning with Jilla’s soft song, and understood. My father. Spock made the words sound like a curse. He was angry, at last. The guilt and shame his father had instilled over the traditions and blind obedience to Vulcan customs that had alienated him from his family, his people, was finally being cleansed. He was, in his delirium, shedding his emotionally crippling neuroses. If it continued, he would emerge whole, free, a hybrid capable of emotion and…

And I have to stop him, Ruth thought in helpless agony. Without Vulcan strength, he won’t be able to break the addiction. Goddess, Jilla, what have you done!

McCoy regained his mobility. He strode toward Spock. “Now see here,” he began. “I’m not…”

With a snarl of rage, Spock turned and grabbed McCoy by the throat. The doctor gasped, choking, and Spock threw him across the shuttle, where he landed with a sickening thud.


Thoughts spun wildly in Spock’s head as he released his hold on his father's throat. Dimly he heard voices screaming, felt hands tearing at him. But the fury that seared in him would not be denied.

Thirty years of emptiness, of loneliness. Thirty years of denial. “Is thee Human or is thee Vulcan?”

Leila, Zarabeth…Iocasta…

“In the kahs-wan you must choose which path you are to follow. Once you have chosen, there is no returning.”

“I love you, Mr. Spock. The Human Mr. Spock. The Vulcan Mr. Spock…”

“My son chose to devote his knowledge to Starfleet rather than the Vulcan Science Academy…”

“It is said thy Vulcan blood is thin…”

“Such displays will not be tolerated in my son. If you are to be Vulcan, you must be Vulcan.”

“To fail once is not a disgrace. For others. I do not expect you to fail.”

“Is thee Human or is thee Vulcan?”

I am… love is…

Love is a Human emotion which…

Zarabeth. Leila. Iocasta.

Such displays will not be… in my son… love you, Spock… love is… Iocasta… Dei'larr'ei… if you are to be Vulcan, you must…

“You must be Vulcan,” Ruth shouted sternly.

NO!” It broke from him like a thunderbolt from heaven. To be Vulcan was to deny himself everything he wanted, all that he needed. To never feel the sweetness, to never say the words… Dei'larr'ei!

He lashed out at the voice that demanded he be what he had always thought he was. He wanted to crush that voice, to crush Vulcan, to destroy the very force of logic. He had to, he would silence the words that denied him what he needed.

He saw nothing, felt only the flesh giving beneath his hands. He heard cries and pleas, but the only ones that mattered were those that begged him to stop. No more calm words about Vulcan stoicism, but sounds filled with pain and fear, sounds that made him want to hear more. Try to deny emotion now! he cried. Tell me about logic while I break your neck!


“You must be Vulcan.” Ruth had hardly said the words when a fist struck her in the stomach, She doubled over, gasping, confused by the sudden pain. A second blow caught her across the back of the neck with nearly enough force to break it. She started to fall and felt her arms being grasped. A furiously contorted face she barely recognized as Spock’s swam into her field of vision, and she was being struck, over and over again. The pain grew. She tried to pull away. Spock’s grip on her arm tightened and she heard the bone snap. She screamed and he let her fall to her knees. The broken arm dangled uselessly as she tried to use the other to protect her head from his fists.

She heard his laughter, a savage, ugly sound. She was pleading with him, and his foot lashed out, hitting her ribcage. His hand grabbed her hair, pulling her back to her feet. He snarled something in Vulcan, and its meaning was clear and sharp in his mind: Scream. I like the sound. He wanted to kill her, and he was going to enjoy it.

Abject terror swept through her, but the paralyzation of her body seemed to free her thoughts. You’re a telepath! they screeched at her. If you can reach this hallucination, you can break it!

She tried again to speak, to focus his attention, and one long-fingered hand came around her throat.


Jilla had quickly knelt beside McCoy’s unconscious body. His face was a horrible shade of purple, but he was breathing. It was, for the moment, all that mattered. The pain he would feel upon awakening could be dealt with later. She heard a sharp crack and Ruth screamed, followed by the sound of cruel laughter and the crushing of bones and flesh.

She turned as Spock growled a harsh command at the figure he was hauling roughly to its feet.

Jilla screamed and leapt frantically at his back, her hand reaching for the nerve at his shoulder.

Ruth fell to the deck as Spock released her, grabbing at Jilla’s wrist. He brought her over his head, throwing her against the hull of the craft. Lights flashed behind her eyes and she saw a confused kaleidoscope of colors and images – then she heard a muffled slap. She blinked and caught a fleeting picture of Spock lifting Ruth from the deck of the shuttle, the fingers of one hand closing tightly around her throat.

Jilla pushed herself to her feet and cried “Kroykah!” Her vision was still blurry, but she could see Spock had listened. He was frozen, still holding onto Ruth.

“Let her go!” Jilla demanded.


Spock heard the words and felt the blood pounding in his veins. He looked at the body that was crumpled at his feet, then blinked, his body beginning to tremble. He saw Jilla crawling toward him. McCoy lay a few feet away, still and unmoving. He stared at his hands. There was blood on them, red blood. Blood was staining the white halter covering Ruth’s breasts a dark, ugly crimson. He looked at Jilla uncomprehendingly. She was rummaging through a medical kit. She caught his glance. “And you speak of death-skilled!” she spat.

Spock sank to his knees, bringing his hands to his face. Then he pulled them harshly away, the smell of iron nauseating him as the storm of realization struck him.


Jilla found the protein supplement she was searching for. She administered it quickly to Ruth, then gently straightened the twisted limbs. Ruth groaned with returning awareness and renewed pain, and Jilla made her way past Spock to McCoy. She spoke his name several times before his eyes fluttered open – then his hands flew to his throat. He bolted upright. “Jilla what…?” he began, but his voice was hoarse and cracked and he grimaced in pain. He slumped back down as pain thundered through him.

“Do not try to speak, Doctor,” Jilla said. She held up the medkit. “Show me what I can give you.”

McCoy pointed, then turned his head at a dry, choking, rasping sound.


There was nothing, had been nothing in Spock’s stomach for days, He had been kept alive on nutrient shots. But he was unable to stop the heaving spasms that tore at his belly and throat. Sweat streamed from him, his arms and knees felt too weak to support his weight. At each sight of the blood on his hands, the spasms gained renewed strength. He had done violence, attacked other beings with his bare hands out of anger. He had tried to, had wanted to kill. And they were innocent! They had done nothing to harm him, they were risking their very lives to help him! Not one of them was the object of his fury. And yet, he had brutalized them, all because he wanted… I wanted to kill my father. The nightmare of Oedipus returned and he retched more violently.


McCoy felt the hiss of the hypospray against his arm and the pain abated. “What for Spock?” Jilla asked. He indicated a vial and tried to get up. Jilla pushed him firmly back down. ‘No, Doctor, I will see to him,” she said.

She crawled over to Spock and McCoy glanced toward Ruth. The huge, purple eyes were tightly closed, and as McCoy watched, the bruises covering her body slowly faded. He shifted his gaze and saw Jilla preparing a hypo. Spock’s head was almost touching the deck as he crouched, anguished, helpless. She injected him, then used a cleansing spray on his hands. The spasms gradually subsided and Spock collapsed, shivering. His breathing was ragged, every muscle in his body twitching spasmodically. Jilla collected the blankets from the cot, placing one over Spock, then returning to McCoy to place one over him.

“You’d make a good nurse,” McCoy managed. Jilla didn’t answer. She moved to Ruth and carefully unfastened the bloody halter. There was fresh skin and no sign of ribs poking through it, nor of the indentation Spock’s foot had caused. The ugly marks his hands had left on her throat were only faint shadows. Her arm was once again resting normally against her side. She gave Ruth another protein injection, then collapsed at her side, grey eyes closing in utter weariness.


Ruth was grateful for the injection Jilla had given her – until the pain hit. It made her wish she had died, quietly, and could disregard the job yet to do. The shots worked quickly, bringing her from the foggy edge of awareness and arousing her healing instincts. The returning strength also aroused her emotions. She was angry, as unreasonable as she knew that reaction was. Pain from healing others was one thing. She accepted that as her duty and her will. But having someone else deliberately inflict pain upon her… that was something else altogether! That was getting personal!

She realized the absurdity of the thought, and the anger disappeared. And the pain was fading. It was simply going to take many hours before she had the energy to do anything else.


It took a great effort just to sit up, to look around. Drying blood made her halter stiff, it was caked in her hair and on her arms and shoulders. She shuddered at the memory of Spock’s attack, then put her fear firmly aside. It was another hallucination, she told herself, and this one might have actually done his psyche some good, so don’t let it interfere with what you have to do.

She suddenly began to notice the unnatural silence that filled the shuttle. Jilla was lying next to her, and she appeared to be sleeping. She was breathing regularly, not in any apparent need of help. McCoy was also asleep, the marks left by Spock’s hand an ugly purple, but he, too, seemed in no need of aid. A wild hope flared in her and she swung her gaze around, seeking Spock. If he, too, were quietly asleep…

She caught sight of him and her hopes dashed. He lay on the deck of the shuttle, huddled under a blanket, trembling. She sighed and made herself crawl toward him. She knelt, carefully moving the blanket, reaching for the emaciated, sunken face.

“No, Miss Valley, please,” his voice rasped from between dry, cracked lips. There was cognizance within the torment in his eyes. No delirium, no hallucination, no fever. He was bone-weary, and grieving, but he was lucid.

Fireworks went off behind her eyes. Lucid! Alive, lucid, Spock!! Thank you several deities all at once!

“Stubborn Vulcan,” she said joyfully. “Let me help.”

Then, suddenly, he was gagging, rolling onto his knees, his body heaving and convulsing. Ruth looked down and realized how ghastly her blood-soaked halter appeared. She tore it off, then reached to take the nausea from him.

He groaned weakly, anguished. “Please, no more,” he begged.

“What do you mean, ‘no more’?” Ruth demanded. “It’s done, you beat it! Once more and we can both rest.”

“Not again,” he whispered. “Let me die.”

Let you die? Come this far and no further? Let your shame win after cordrazine lost? For a moment, her own pain and weary grief immobilized her. She could no nothing but stare into the oblivion that was so close, so tempting. For long minutes she was numb. So tired, it’s too much…yes, let it end.. give up, at long last, just give up…

Give up? After Joan d’Arc and Oedipus, after venus visions and dei’larr’ei and m’lkta’fee? No, damn you, fuck no!

Angry and determined, Ruth grabbed Spock’s wrists. She jerked him to his knees, forcing him to face her. His hollow eyes stared at her from a sunken, shame-filled mask. She pulled his hands towards her head. He moaned, his eyes closing, pleading silently.

“You don’t want to think, do you?” she hissed. “You don’t want to force your mind to work again." His fingers touched her temples. “Well, mister, commander, sir, boss, if you’re going to die, you’re going to tell me exactly how and why! Make me understand and I’ll let you die; more than that! I’ll help you!”

Her hands left his. He kept them at her head. Hiding a triumphant smile, she reached for his temples. Think! she commanded. It’s what you’re famous for! Or do I have to force you? You’re alive – come on, prove it to me!

The anguished despair that flowed from Spock’s mind was almost unbearable. Ruth fought to keep from absorbing it. She had done it so much in the past week, but now it would do no good. It wasn’t delirium this time. This he had to face and fight on his own.

Worthless, monstrous, I am not Vulcan, cannot be Human! I could not have wanted to destroy – yet I did! I enjoyed the destruction! Illogical, irrational violence is not rewarded with continuing life. Senseless acts of destruction cannot go unaccounted for. I wanted to kill my father!

Then your act was not senseless. It had purpose.

Emotional purpose! I am Vulcan!

The Vulcan half of you is feeding off Human despair? What, have you got a built- in parasite?

I cannot feel…

Yet you do. The Vulcan is guilty, ashamed. Aren’t those Human emotions? And if they are, how can the Vulcan base his worth on them?

The Human in me has destroyed…

Nothing! Your father lives, I live, McCoy lives. You’ve destroyed nothing. Where is the logic in guilt over nothing?

But I wanted

And Vulcans don’t want? Or need? It’s a lie, and you’ve made yourself believe it to please your father. But he doesn’t believe it, either! I repeat: does a Vulcan feel shame? Is it Vulcan to be ashamed of your son?

But I am…

You are not! Not Vulcan, not Human, you’re Spock! Unique. A collector’s item. Two worlds rolled into one. You can’t be one without the other, or you wouldn’t be you. Live long and prosper. L‘chiam. Two phrases from two different worlds but they’re saying the same thing. A cloud-tapestry shifts and blends, ever-changing within itself. So does the informational flow in a computer. Both are necessary, beauty and knowledge, emotion and logic – Human and Vulcan.

But I have shed blood…

Mine, and I asked for it. It’s my duty to heal. You don’t get the right to take that duty from me. I accept it. You have to, too. Learn from the experience, forgive it. I know you, Spock. You want to live, you’re just afraid. You’ve been furious at Daddy for decades. You say you wanted to kill him, but you were trying to murder your Vulcan half. Your control slipped and let the Human out and the Human hates you for what you’ve done to him. You decided to revere Vulcan and your father. You decided to ignore Earth and your mother. You tried to bury your Human half instead of accepting what you are. You’re not only of Vulcan, Spock Sareklrn. You’re Amanda’s little boy, too. Stop lying to yourself. You’re not the only hybrid in the universe, y’know. You’re only alone because you’re afraid to be anything else…

Afraid… alone…

Realization began glimmering in Spock’s dark eyes.

No, Dei'larr'ei. Not alone.

The thoughts changed, words dropping away as their meanings were felt and understood by both minds. It was Ruth’s turn to try and escape a sudden awareness and strength in Spock. The thought expanded, flowing gracefully into corners that Ruth had shielded and protected for years. She shared the knowledge of his loneliness and knew that she shared more than the knowledge. And in knowing, understood that both had been totally unnecessary.

She who intrudes on my dreams.

She who touches my dreams.

She who fulfills…


Jilla sat up, groaning softly. She glanced at where Ruth was supposed to be, saw only a dull smear of blood. She started to speak, and caught sight of Ruth and Spock. They were on their knees, facing one another, their hands locked to each others’ heads. There was an intensity in their eyes, and their tia was full, swelling with a mixture of fear and strength and wonder and…

She heard McCoy returning to consciousness and began to crawl hurriedly toward him.

Suddenly Spock’s hands dropped away from Ruth’ head. His eyes and tia held a calm joy. Ruth blinked, her fingers leaving Spock’s temples but not his face. He leaned toward her, reaching slowly up toward her cheek.

Jilla held her breath. The meld was broken, yet he still sought her. Goddess, if he touches her now…


McCoy opened his eyes. All he saw was Ruth, half naked, holding Spock’s head as she’d done so often to take his fears, and Spock’s hand reaching for her throat. Visions of the Vulcan’s brutal attack filled his mind and he shouted hoarsely,



At first, Ruth didn’t understand the sudden change. It was like falling into another of his dreams, only to find that she was the one who was dreaming. She was completely caught in the feeling there was only one word for. There was a moment of resistance, fear that gave way to completion. A single moment of realization that she, too, had been alone – and that she need not be. His hands left her head, hers wonderingly touched his face. Such a strong face, such dark, fathomless eyes, night-colored and so soft, so gentle…

…violet sparks of life coming from depths of velvet beauty…

They remained, sable and amethyst, seeking, needing, finding…


She fell away from the eyes, the touch, pulled out of the dream to answer – McCoy. The trance was abruptly broken. She dropped from her knees, twisting away from Spock, suddenly cold and afraid. She faced McCoy and Jilla, her features calm and masking a very bad fit of hysteria. She found herself glad McCoy had spoken when he had – and furious that he had spoken at all.

Her riotous feelings were suddenly expressed as Jilla exploded into a genuine Indiian fit of emotion, complete with screams, long, volatile streams of obscenities in three languages, and fist-pounding blows aimed at McCoy, then giving way to the deck of the shuttle. Ruth stared at Jilla, glared at McCoy, avoided Spock and screamed.

I do not need this aggravation!


With a deep breath, Jilla sat up, pushing her hair away from her face and suddenly realized that her body was one very large, very sensitive bruise. The breath came out in a hiss of pain.


Spock’s eyes had not left Ruth. She had turned at McCoy’s voice, and at her turning, a gate was slammed abruptly shut. The well of emptiness that had begun to flow so freely was dammed more tightly that before, and the newly-realized hybrid was unable to face the pain. Spock dealt with it the only way he knew. The Vulcan made a calm, logical observation.

“Doctor, I believe Mrs. Majiir is in need of your services.”

Ruth turned to him, suddenly, irrationally angry, but it was completely drowned in the sudden shrill whoop of pure joy that came from McCoy. Jilla seemed to forget her injury, for she flung herself at Spock, weeping openly in incredulous celebration. Spock, of course, calmly put her away, but McCoy joined the embrace with a hoarse, “Spock, you pointy-eared son of a bitch, I could kiss you!”

Spock ignored McCoy and Jilla, made no acknowledgement of Ruth, and walked over to the cot. He laid down and gazed quietly at the ceiling, his fingers steepled gently on his chest.


Ruth stared at Spock, then at Jilla, who was also staring at him, then at McCoy.

“Now there’s gratitude for ya,” McCoy said disdainfully.

“Dr. McCoy,” Jilla said quietly. “Shut up.”

Ruth swallowed the furious tirade that was forming in her mind against Spock. Stop it, he’s cured, everything’s back to normal. What did you expect? “Are you all right?” she asked Jilla. “Which, by the way, you should be asking,” she added to McCoy.

“I didn’t ask to be here, Lieutenant,” McCoy snapped

“I thought someone told you to shut up!” Jilla snapped back.

“Nobody of any importance!”

“Shut up, both of you!” Ruth shouted. “Jilla, come here.”

“Ruth, you do not have to…” Jilla began.

“I said shut up and come here.”

When the healing was finished, Jilla fell promptly asleep. McCoy managed a last, cheerful thought.

“Now all we’ve gotta do is get out of here and face Jim.”


Go to Part Nine

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