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“These, we share.”

 “Pardon, young one. It is needful that I speak with you, at once. I would prefer to leave you with your chosen, to learn and share.”

I had heard the voice before. Now, I struggled, and, at last, there was meaning to the words. I sat up, and there was a tiny aged Adept, just within the doorway.

 “That is my wish, and that of she who is my wife.” I had not said it, or thought it, until now, but it was truth, bringing a rush of emotion too tangled to understand. Always touching; always touched.

 “Your father will soon be here. I suspect that he will not be willing to consider your bonding valid, when no companion can be produced.”

 “It is – most valid.” I realized I was alone, and wound in the bedding. I was unclothed, my skin alive with sensation, as though she still touched me. I wished nothing more than to remain in this quiet place, with sight of the stars we shared, and be with her…

 “Of that, I have no doubt. However, young one, I have long known thy sire, and he is unlikely to accept what he did not foresee.”

 I looked at her. Her eyes were vital and alive in a withered face. I felt, somehow, that she would support us, that it was she who was responsible for my being here, and safe.

“It is illogical for him to refute what is.” And it is. T’lys – my own.

 “I will not argue. We must talk, and you clothe yourself, before his arrival.”

 I saw that she held a bundle extended to me, and I stood to accept it. “I do not wish to, Elder.”

 A soft, knowing breath – and, remarkably, amusement in her scent. “I trust that you do not, young one. You will find the robe soothing, perhaps even pleasing. It is best that you have time – to adjust, before Sarek arrives.”

 “My name is Spock.” Illogical, perhaps ill-mannered, but I felt the need to make introduction formally, as I had been taught.

 “I am T’Pau. Dress quickly. I will withdraw, if you wish.”

 There was a chair opposite the bed,, and the Adept seemed frail. “Will you sit, T’Pau?”

 I remembered the claiming, and my hand reached to my throat. There was no mark there, except in memory. I could still feel Niaan, within me, a shadow of what we had shared, in our dreaming. But even now, she was my own, and she cared not about clothing, or nakedness.

 I sat upon the bed while she settled upon the chair, and opened the bundle – and my breath hissed through parched lips as I touched the sensuous richness of two matched robes, with my family sigil was worked into the breast. Not Sarek’s – my own. I knew it only from the Kiral, as preparation for an arranged Promising that I would not now consent to.

 I held the robes to my chest, and my eyes grew moist. Something within loosened, opened, and she was flowing through me, cool and enticing…

 “Dress, Spock, that we may speak. She is thy wife; you speak truly. Perhaps, by this symbol, thy father will find acceptance.” Her voice was gentle, yet firm.

 She smelled of urgency, and a desire to protect me, and I knew that it was my bondmate who could sense it. I dressed, quickly, and made an effort to attend to her. “I am ready.”

 She nodded. “Very well. Thee art bonded. It is as strong a childbond as I have felt. However, thy bondmate is not here, on Vulcan, or anywhere she can be brought forth to appease thy father’s certain protests. And thee cannot forge such a bond with another, now. Therefore, there will likely be conflict. I will support thee as well as I am able, as I have while thee sheltered here.”

 “That is why- the robes – to appease him?”

 “They are thine, Spock -“

 “Spock.”

 I swallowed at the hollow word, not spoken as a name, but as a command. “Here, Father.”

 Father stood in the doorway, his gaze fixed on the sigil. “You will tell me the meaning of this.”

 I lifted my chin, and sat straight under the stare. “It is my bonding robe.”

 “Bonding robe? Explain.”

 “Sit upon the bed, Sarek, and attend thy son.”

 Father obeyed, without shifting his focus. “As thee say, T’Pau. Spock, you will explain.”

 “I am bound.” Niaan’s instincts, and my own, stopped me from saying more.

 A soft hiss of breath. “You will give me your thoughts.”

 “Are adults be required to share such details, T’Pau?”

 “No. Thee art within thy rights to refuse.”

 “I will not open my mind to thee, Sarek. Thee too often find me – disquieting.”

 “This situation is more so.”

 “The difficulty is thine, Sarek.” I wondered if it was Niaan’s daring that moved me. “I am most pleased with – this situation.”

 Sarek’s eyes were threateningly void. “You will produce the female child.”

 I met Father’s eyes, in clear challenge. She moved within me, a huntress who feared little. ” We will speak on it no further. What is done, is done.”

 Father’s face was controlled; his rage smelled like a clawing, snarling beast .

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