Kirk walked on to the bridge and was surprised not to see Spock there already. For that matter, where was Saavik?
While he was deciding whether to wait or to page the Vulcans immediately, McCoy stepped out of the turbolift. He moved to stand next to Kirk, a discrete distance from the other officers on the bridge.
“Spock and Saavik will be absent from their shifts today,” he said in a low voice, “And their family doctor has approved the leave.”
Kirk looked at him sharply. “Why?” he asked. “What’s wrong with them?”
McCoy looked like he was reluctant to break a confidence but he finally blurted. “Nothing wrong exactly. They’re just...sleeping.”
The captain stared at him a long time, his eyes wide. “Together?”
“Well, yes actually,” McCoy answered, then seeing the look on Kirk’s face, he quickly added. “Now get your head out of the gutter, Jim. They’re just sleeping...as in sleeping.”
Kirk was looking at him suspiciously. “How do you know?” he asked.
“Well, Spock told me,” he explained. “Apparently sleeping together right after the bonding helps to solidify the link. It’s a normal part of the ritual.”
Kirk screwed up his face as he considered this. “Why wasn’t I told any of this?” he wanted to know.
McCoy sighed loudly. “I don’t know, Jim,” he muttered. “Ever since that green-blooded hobgoblin decided to use my head for a storage vault, he’s been more inclined to confide in me.” He peered closely at the captain. “Are you jealous?”
Kirk waved the question away. “So how long do they sleep like this?” he wanted to know.
McCoy rubbed his hands together. “There’s not really a standard time or anything like that,” he said. “From what I understand, when they have recovered from the stress of the bonding, the link just...wakes them up.”
The captain let out his breath. “Well,” he said, “as long as they don’t miss their own wedding, I suppose we should let sleeping Vulcans lie!”
It was a hot day on Vulcan. Come to think of it, every day on Vulcan was hot. Kirk mopped at the sweat on his brow, his body protesting the climate despite the preemptive triox injection. He looked around the ancestral lands of Spock’s family, resisting a shudder when he remembered the last time he was here.
All the old gang stood with him. Spock and Sarek had used their considerable clout to convince T’Lar to permit it. Everyone was dressed in their finest; some in uniform, some not. They waited uncomfortably for the wedding party to arrive.
Sarek and Amanda arrived before the rest and came forward to greet the Enterprise crew.
“Captain,” Sarek intoned in his commanding voice, “it is agreeable to see you and your fine crew again. It is well that it is a more pleasant occasion that draws us together this time.”
He was referring of course to the last time they had been gathered here, making the choice between life and death for two of his dearest friends.
Amanda was beaming broadly at them and greeting each one individually. “Isn’t it just a beautiful day?” she was saying. Kirk took stock of the atmosphere again and decided that beautiful it most certainly was not, but he beamed at her and agreed anyway.
The jangle of bells proceeded the wedding party as they streamed upward from somewhere down below the high plateau. T’Lar was in the lead, carried aloft in her liter, followed by Spock and Saavik and a multitude of attendants. Spock and Saavik both were dressed in the traditional wedding robes which hung to their ankles above sandaled feet. They both approached the ancient leader and knelt before her. She rose to place a gnarled hand on the temples of each of them.
“What’s she doing?” Kirk asked with a touch of concern. He was surprised when Sarek was the one to answer.
“She is merely attempting to ascertain whether the link is strong and true,” he said.
“And if it’s not?” he asked. He hated to admit it, but this place put him on edge.
Sarek favored him with a long look. “Then she will make certain it is so,” he said. “Do not worry, Kirk. There is no danger here this day.”
T’Lar drew back her hands and Spock and Saavik rose in front of her. “The link between thee is very new, but it serves thee well,” she intoned in Old High Vulcan. But then her ancient eyes studied them closely. “However,” she continued. “ The fires do not burn in either of thee. What do thee request in this place?”
“We request the kal’i’farr,” Spock answered . “The fires will come in their own time.”
She nodded and sat back down in her seat. The bells began to ring again, sounding one hundred fold as the noise bounced from one high cliff to the other. Spock moved to the gong in the center of the space , picked up a mallet and struck it. Saavik followed after him, took the mallet from his hand and also struck the gong. Kirk realized then that he had been holding his breath; his last Vulcan wedding had gone south right about now.
Spock and Saavik had turned to face one another, there’s hands raised, with palms touching the other’s.. The bells were quiet .
“My heart, my honor, my future and my protection,” he pledged aloud. “While the sun rises on our days until our katras rest for all time, we are joined, we are pledged, we are one.”
“All I am is bound to thee,” Saavik answered in the same ancient dialect. “Your heart is my heart, your honor, my honor, our futures are one. While the stars shine, I claim thee.”
Not expectantly, Kirk noticed that the women standing with him were dabbing at their eyes or digging in their handbags for tissues. He grinned, then noticed McCoy wiping his own face. The old softie.
Spock and Saavik turned to face T’Lar again, their two extended fingers touching. The ancient matriarch rose and approached them.
“Thee have claimed one another in the ancient bond and all here bear witness to the pledge,” she said solemnly, then glanced around at everyone assembled there. “Does anyone here challenge this claim?”
To Kirk’s relief, no one spoke. Even so, T’Lar let the silence extend for an agonizing minute. At last she spoke again.
“It is done. Thee have chosen to follow a path together,” she said. “Peace and long life to you and your progeny.”
“Live long and prosper,” they answered, kneeling once more to receive her benediction.. Her fingers brushed their temples once again, but only briefly.
And then it was over. T’Lar returned to her liter that was lifted by the sturdy bearers and carried away, attendants following with the tinkling bells. The gathered friends surged toward the couple to offer --decidedly human –congratulations.
Presently the guests began to move toward the flyers that would take them to Shi’kahr and the wedding feast that was prepared at Sarek and Amanda’s vast house. No better time for some air conditioning, Kirk thought as he tugged at the collar of his dress uniform.
McCoy hurried up beside him.”How do you like that T’Lar already hinting at children!” he exclaimed.
Kirk looked at him closely. “What’s the matter, Bones? You worried about a bunch of little Spocks running around?”
“Damn straight!” he said emphatically. “I nearly lost my mind with just the one! Literally!”
Kirk laughed and steered the doctor toward the flyer. “Come on, Bones,” he said, “let’s get out of this heat or my death won’t be so simulated this time!”
A short flight later they gratefully entered the Vulcan estate, its many rooms artfully kept comfortable by both natural and artificial means. It wasn’t nearly as cool as Kirk would have liked, but it was preferable to staying any longer in the oppressive heat outside.
Scotty met them at the door, nursing a tall drink. “Who woulda’ thought it?” he was saying. “There’s spirits at a Vulcan party!”
Spock also approached from a crowd near the tables. “Vulcans are quite skilled in the arts of fermentation and distillation, Mr. Scott,” he said. “Although the alcohol has little effect on Vulcan physiology.”
“Then what’s the point?” Scotty wondered as he walked away to refill his drink.
After he had gone, McCoy turned to Spock. “So any wedding night jitters, Spock?” he asked with interest.
“Jitters?” Spock asked, drawing out the word and doing his best to look confused.
“Oh, come on!” McCoy insisted. “Of course you’ll going to...I mean, Saavik will..I mean...”
Spock drew himself up in fine lecture mode. “Surely you are aware, Doctor, that the consummation of a Vulcan bonding is traditionally delayed until the first shared pon farr, which is typically synchronized after the initial mind meld.”
“In a pig’s eye!” McCoy declared. He was dissuaded from saying anything more by the approach of Sarek and Amanda.
“Welcome to our home, gentlemen,” Sarek intoned graciously. “Please help yourself to refreshments.”
Then he turned to his son. “Spock,” he said, “will you join me with the lyre?” he glanced at his beaming wife. “Amanda has requested it.”
“Of course,” Spock answered, inclining his head to the others as he followed his father to the larger living area. Two lyres hung together on the wall and they each retrieved one. As they settled into chairs arranged together, Kirk’s face took on a look of surprise.
“I didn’t know Sarek could play!” he exclaimed.
Amanda grinned as if she had a secret. “Who do you think taught Spock?” she said. She winked at him then glided into the adjoining room to sit next to her husband. Seeing the preparations, Saavik also left the crowd around her to take her place next to Spock.
With only a look between them, the two Vulcans began to play in exactly the same key and in perfect harmony. Kirk didn’t recognize the tune but Amanda was apparently delighted with their choice. The acoustics in the house gave the sound a concert-like quality, and all conversation stopped in appreciation. As he listened to the music and watched the unlikely scene before him, Kirk grew suddenly pensive as he considered that Spock—of all people--had achieved the life that he had never found possible. He shook off the feeling and found seats for McCoy and himself. Some of the human guests had begun to dance. He smiled to himself and shook his head. Who knew that Vulcans could throw a party?