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Mother fell silent as we walked. I tried not to clutch at Niaan’s bonding-robe, wishing she were here, and I might see her wearing it, and the pleasure of removing it, her skin lustrous and alive under T’Kuht, or her own doubled moons.

I should feel shame at desiring it, at the way the fabric of my robe slipped and tugged against my skin, bringing an intense pleasure I could not ignore. It whispered of delights to come, once we were together, and grown enough to enjoy them in their fullness. But I felt alive and whole as I never had before.

Such sensations were not part of the Kiral’s lessons – perhaps, then, they were a human failing.

The silvery-cool run of her mind threading through mine, growing, weaving….it was a far richer learning.

“Parted from me, but never parted. Never and always touching and touched…” They had sounded strange, when the Kiral bade me recite them, more human than Vulcan. Almost illogical…

“You understand now.”

Startled at Mother’s voice, I realized that we had come to the shuttle pad -unoccupied save for us – and that I had spoken aloud my vow to

Niaan – my own.

“I understand, Mother. I do not wish to discuss the nature of my understanding.”

She laughed, softly, in this public place. “I won’t ask you to. I’m happy that you are happy, and that you have found someone you choose to give your life to…”

She trailed off, and I knew her concern. “Father objects. His mind is set. But, Mother, I cannot now bond with another. I belong to Niaan.”

Father would deem my tone ‘unacceptably reactive and emotive’. Mother did not. She smiled gently,her hand hovering above my shoulder for 3.5 seconds, offering affection and support that didn’t jeopardize my control….still far less perfect than Father required.

Spock,” she said, so quietly it was possible that she could not hear her own words. “We’ll discuss this in the shuttle. I know you -and your bondmate- have questions.”

That was true. I was fascinated to feel that Niaan was impatient; while at her Hunting, she waited, motionless, as long as was needed. Now I realized how heavily the waiting sat with her, her longing for answers NOW, without another breath’s hesitation.

It was the official Ambassador’s shuttle. I wondered if Father wanted to assign an official level to this visit, or to honor my bond. I suspected the former, but did not have enough data, to form a valid hypothesis.

Once the door to the private cabin slipped closed, Mother pulled me into a tight embrace. Had there been anyone to witness, she would not have done so; nor would I have permitted it. Now, though, my body and mind instinctively reacted by relaxing.

“I’m happy for you, Spock, and this mysterious bondmate of yours. And worried, too.”

“You are concerned that Father will not come to a place of acceptance, and will require an arranged Promising.”

She released me; went to the servitor to prepare two glasses of water with lemon – and I caught the welcoming scent of plomik soup – her own blend, made in our kitchen at home, while Father had been away, and we’d spent days simply talking, cooking, reading, tending to our home and our garden, walking into the desert – not too far for Mother’s human tolerances.

“You’ve grown wise and perceptive, Spock. More so, since we’ve met again. There’s more to your bonding, than you have said. I’m not asking, but, Spock – show your father this.”

“You cannot sway him?”

” Sarek is – Sarek. He is the leader of the family, and he will do as he thinks best. I’m not Vulcan, and so my opinion is not as valid, against the necessities of your future.”

I went to the servitor to help her. “I am not wholly Vulcan. Perhaps -“

“Your father won’t accept ‘perhaps’, Spock. It’s his duty to tend to it. And he takes that duty more seriously than any other.”

“It is my life – our life. I cannot bond to another; I belong to Niaan. I will not sever what we have forged, Mother. Not even at Sarek’s command. My life is my own, and I have promised and bound it to Niaan.”

I sniffed at the soup, appreciating the rich blending of flavors and memories that stretched back to infancy, when I had suckled it from Mother’s fingers.

“Do you want anything else?”

“Mother, I have known how to use the servitor since I was 3.7 years old.”

She smiled. “I know. Forgive me for being a human mother who sometimes forgets that you are not a human child. I know that isn’t logical, but it’s true, just the same. My instincts want to care for you as though you were a human boy.”

I sat beside her, and turned to her. Vulcans did not use eye contact as humans did – another of my “failings” was forgetting to repress that human impulse. But with Mother, alone,it was a way to express affection and respect that, as Father had made it clear that I had outgrown ‘physical manifestations of rampant emotionalism’.

“There is nothing to forgive, Mother. I regret, sometimes, that I am alien to you, and you to me.”

Her voice was thick, and I smelled tears in her scent. “I knew that it would be this way, when I chose this life. You didn’t choose to be of two peoples, though.”

“Mother. I am as I am. I am bound to Niaan That will not change, whatever Sarek’s opinions or actions.”]

“He won’t force you to Sever your bond, Spock. Eat your soup, before it gets cold, and drink your water. T’Pau’s message said that you were dehydrated and wandering, when you were found.”

There was as little point in arguing with her about sustenance as there was in wishing Father would accept me as I was.

Niaan sampled the soup through me, and found it pleasing.

“Mother, I cannot be Promised to another. I am bound to Niaan.”

“He’ll want assurances in case you don’t find her. He will demand logic, and proof you understand the risks. I suspect he will make it a joining in name, for your security.”

” I will refuse, Mother.”

“That’s a matter between you and your father. I will advocate for you. But I won’t interfere.”

Within me, Niaan stretched, and prepared for the Hunt.

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