“Perhaps, perhaps not. I will speak with my father and ask him whether the Council has begun to process applications.”
“As you wish, Spock.”
“It would give me pleasure, T’Kar.”
She stood up and bowed, “I will go and speak to the Captain. We will be together for the next two weeks at least, I must try and explain that we mean him no harm.”
“He may not see it your way.”
“That I fear is true,” T’Kar replied, “but if he attempts to hurt me I shall scream.”
“If he attempts anything, T’Kar, press your communicator. McCoy and I shall be there within minutes.” Spock’s dark eyes held hers and T’Kar nodded soberly.
Kirk was sitting on the steps that led down into the garden, T’Kar settled herself beside him and wrapped her arms around her knees, “It’s peaceful out here,” she said softly.
“Yes,” Kirk replied, he turned to face her and T’Kar was struck again by how haggard he appeared, “I was trying to remember what happened on the Enterprise.”
“Mmm,” T’Kar responded, she licked dry lips and said, “Are you really afraid of not being able to remember?”
A dry laugh erupted from Kirk’s throat, “Afraid? Not really, my whole life seems to be ending and there’s nothing I can do about it.” He stopped and laid a hand on T’Kar’s, “I am sorry for the way I acted, there was no excuse.”
“No, but you did have a very good reason. I must confess I am confused that Spock has not suggested a Vulcan mind meld.”
“Perhaps he feels it would do more harm than good. Even aboard the Enterprise he has only consented to such invasive techniques under duress.”
T’Kar stood up, “I must get back to the house, don’t stay out here too long, sunburn is the last thing you need in your condition.”
“No, Mother,” Kirk grinned at T’Kar and she smiled down at him, “We’ll get there, Captain, I’m sure of it.”
Kirk stared out at the garden for a further ten minutes before finally getting to his feet and returning to the house. T’Kar was tossing a salad in a bowl, Spock and McCoy were nowhere to be seen and Sarek and Amanda were sitting quietly in the lounge. Amanda was reading a book and Sarek was gently strumming his lyrette.
“James,” Amanda said gently, “come and sit down.”
He nodded, suddenly tired. Amanda regarded him thoughtfully, “Here, Captain, drink this.”
She handed him the glass of kasa juice and he regarded it suspiciously, “Have you-”
She surveyed him quietly, her eyes dark and fathomless, “Have I what, Captain? Poisoned it, drugged it – what?”
He looked sheepish and then took the glass of juice, “I’m sorry,” he murmured.
“Yes, Captain.” She replied, and then smiled, “Any medicines you need to take I’d ask my daughter.”
“Daughter?” he frowned.
She gestured towards T’Kar, “Adopted,” she responded thoughtfully, “but loved as much as my son.”
“So the glass of juice you’ve just given me-”
“Is juice.” Amanda replied.
He nodded and took it across to a chair. “I wish I could find something to do,” he said suddenly, “I know that I’m not supposed to undertake any strenuous activity but if I don’t do something I think I might go insane.”
“There are a few things we could do together,” T’Kar said thoughtfully, “Don’t worry, Mother, I won’t take him walking in the deep desert.”
Amanda smiled, “I know that, what about your birthday celebrations?”
“Birthday?” Kirk turned to her and for the first time a spark of something seemed to light up his eyes.
“My twenty-first,” T’Kar confirmed, “and all the joys of seeing the family’s lawyer.”
“It won’t be that bad,” Amanda replied, “and it’s only to tie up a few loose ends from your mother’s estate. She just put the proviso in her Will that you would inherit when you reached twenty-one.”
“Seems a lot of work for nothing,” T’Kar shrugged, “But I’ll trundle along in four days. Not sure I’ll be in any fit state to have a party that evening though.”
“Why do you say that?” McCoy asked.
“I just have a bad feeling about this,” she shrugged again, “a sense of foreboding I guess.”
Amanda laughed, “Come, dinner is served.”
“So how long have you lived on Vulcan,” McCoy asked as he helped himself to salad.
“About eighteen years,” T’Kar replied, “My mother met my father when he was assigned to the Vulcan Embassy on earth. They married and I was born on Terra – when my father returned to Vulcan two years later he brought my mother and I with him. I’ve never really known anywhere but Vulcan.”
“And this proviso in your Mother’s Will?” McCoy asked.
“Apparently it was something that was started lifetimes ago,” T’Kar said, “Whenever a son or daughter reaches twenty-one, they have to do this. Some sort of ceremony I believe. My mother would never tell me what it was, she said that when I reached the appropriate age I would find out. So, in three days I will.”
“Sounds intriguing,” Kirk smiled, for the first time looking more like himself.
“Oh most definitely,” Amanda replied, “but it’s no good asking me the particulars, Sarah never told me what she experienced the day she saw the lawyer. In fact I’m not even sure she told Sorak.”
“Interesting,” McCoy smiled, “so you have to go and meet with the lawyers and then some great secret that your family has kept down the years will be made plain and you have to decide what to do about it.”
“Oh I doubt it’s any great secret,” T’Kar sipped her drink, “it’s probably something like my ancestor had a child out of wedlock or that they divorced and had to bring up the child in ignominy.” She sighed, “Why this elaborate scheme when you reach twenty-one for God’s sake!”
Sarek spoke softly, “Less emotion, T’Kar. It is what it is, accept it. If you view this with anger then you will be unable to view it objectively when you see the lawyer.”
T’Kar nodded, “Yes, Father. Forgive my outburst.” She paused, “As I have finished supper may I be excused, I should like to meditate.”
Sarek nodded and bowing her head, T’Kar got up from the table and quietly slipped into the next room. Kirk’s eyes followed her, “Will she be all right?”
“Yes,” Sarek responded.
Kirk didn’t see her at all for the remainder of the evening. At one point he said to Amanda, “T’Kar’s not being punished for what she said at dinner is she?”
Amanda shook her head, “No, of course not, Captain. She’s a bit – I suppose you would use the word conflicted over this ‘secret’ that her mother’s kept from her. She would feel ashamed to be with us when she has not examined her feelings.”
“Typical Vulcan,” McCoy muttered, “repress everything, don’t talk about it, don’t mention it and it’ll all go away.” He stood up, “I’m going out for a walk.”
“Don’t go too far, Doctor,” Amanda replied softly, “We wouldn’t want you to get lost in the deep desert.”
McCoy nodded tersely and then he was gone. Amanda looked at the door for a long moment, but didn’t say anything.
Kirk sighed softly, “I’m afraid that Dr McCoy often feels that Vulcans are too repressed.”
McCoy stormed out of the house and began to walk across the desert. He was so annoyed that he didn’t realise how far he’d walked until he looked back and saw the lights of the city flickering behind him. Oh shit, he thought, how the hell do I get back? He looked around and then he saw the creatures. For a moment he considered running and then he realised that running would be the worst thing he could do. As he looked at the creatures he swallowed hard, This is it, he thought, and then a soft smile curved his lips, if this was it then so be it. He took a step forward and then he felt a soft hand on his arm, “Doctor McCoy what in the name of all that’s Holy are you doing out here?”
He turned and was suddenly lost for words, T’Kar was standing behind him holding a huge horse-like creature and he noticed that she had one finger beneath what looked like a fang, “T’Kar! What the hell-”
“I could ask you the same question,” she replied, “You shouldn’t be out here unescorted. Although,” she paused, “They wouldn’t have hurt you.”
“They’re le-matya aren’t they,” McCoy asked quietly watching the creatures who seemed completely unfazed by his presence.
“Yes,” T’Kar replied, “And this is a Kenel,” she gestured at the creature behind her as she released her hand.
McCoy swallowed, T’Kar looked different out here in the deep desert, primitive almost ancient and McCoy asked in a voice that didn’t sound like his own, “T’Kar, what the hell are you?”
“I wondered when you’d get around to that question,” she half-smiled, “Come on. I’ve got a thermos of coffee and a snack, I’ll attempt to explain as much as I can.”
She turned and pulled a pack down from the ‘horse’ and then she reached up and stroked the creature’s muzzle. McCoy had to swallow hard again when he saw the fangs protruding from its upper lip. She slung the bag over her shoulder and began to walk towards the le-matya. “Follow me, Doctor,” she ordered, “As I said, they won’t hurt us.”
They walked for about ten minutes and McCoy watched as the le-matya parted to let them through. T’Kar set her bag down near an outcropping of rock, and began to rummage through her backpack, “Drinks first.”
McCoy watched somewhat stupefied as she opened the thermos and poured them both a cup. She handed one to Dr. McCoy and then settled back her back against the rock. “Feeling better?” she asked gently.
“Not really,” McCoy replied, “I’ve never seen anything like this before in my life. And I’m beginning to wonder what other secrets you’ve kept from me.”
“None that would damage your reputation,” T’Kar replied guardedly. She took out a packet of sandwiches and unwrapping them handed one half to McCoy, “Here, it’ll keep you going.”
He watched as two of the le-matya came and lay down a few metres away from them, “They’re the Alpha female and male,” she said gesturing to the creatures.
“Know a lot about them?” McCoy asked quietly.
“This pair, yes,” T’Kar said softly, “They’ve been together almost ten years. They mate for life.”
“How long have you been doing this?”
“Since I was ten,” T’Kar admitted sheepishly, “I knew that my mother would have been upset and my father would have hit the roof so I kept it a secret. And as for Sarek and Amanda, they’d have had conniption fits. When I was a child I used to come out and walk with the le-matya.”
Something clicked in his head and he turned to her, “You’re one of those people that Spock talked about, Kahinaru wasn’t it?”
“The correct term would be Shatry’u,” T’Kar said quietly, “as I have not ascended to that position yet.”
“But I’m right aren’t I?” He stared at her “My God, you’re the reason James Kirk’s alive and well.”
“I don’t think it was me,” T’Kar smiled, “I think I was more of a conduit and what it was, well I couldn’t tell you.”
“Oh boy,” McCoy sipped his coffee and stared out across the desert, “So what now?”
She sighed, “I don’t know, Doctor. I’d rather not broadcast what I am. This power isn’t exactly under my control – I don’t even know why it erupted when it did. Plus there’s always the familiarity problem.”
“Familiarity problem,” McCoy looked bemused.
“You know, it’s like Clark Kent or Bruce Wayne suddenly announcing that they’re Superman and Batman respectively.” She sighed.
“Mmmm,” McCoy smiled, “The perceived idea that this person’s friends and family have got to know them and they couldn’t possibly be a superhero.”
“Yep,” T’Kar grinned, “I call it the familiarity-stroke-contempt clause. Besides one of the problems with being able to do this,” she gestured at the animals, “is that I don’t want to broadcast it. They’re not pets, we have a relationship and I would not abuse that.”
“There is one problem,” McCoy said gently
“Your friends will be looking for you,” T’Kar sighed. “Oh damn. She stood up and spoke quietly, the two le-matya’s ears went up and their tails flicked back and forth but they stood up and with the pack quietly slipped away.
“We’d best get going,” T’Kar said quietly.
The ‘horse’ as McCoy would always think of it was waiting for them, McCoy watched as T’Kar walked across to it and slid a finger beneath one of the fangs, and he stared as she gently tugged and led the creature across to them.
“You’d best mount,” she turned to Dr McCoy, “and I’ll run.”
He swallowed again and carefully putting his hands on the animal’s back he clambered onto the animal’s back. After a brief amount of slithering he managed to straighten himself up and wound his hands through the long mane. “Take this,” T’Kar said handing him the pack. “And now we must move before we are missed.”
Ever afterwards Leonard McCoy would remember that night, how he held on for dear life with his hands and his thighs, how the ‘horse’ seemed to move beneath him like water and how he wished it was wearing a saddle. He remembered looking down and seeing T’Kar racing beside the Kenel her hair being blown back from her face and her cheeks flushed with exertion. He remembered watching her and being stunned by her beauty.
The creature steadily slowed to a halt and gratefully Dr McCoy slid off its back. T’Kar patted its flank and it turned and almost silently sped away, it’s hide gradually blending with the colour of the desert until it disappeared.“You’re coming home with me,” she said firmly, “as I have no doubt your friends are turning ShiKahr upside down by now.”
“I want a shower first,” he said as he entered her flat.
She nodded, “Go ahead.”
She slipped in after him and he was fixing a drink when she entered the lounge, he looked at her, “Nice shower?”
“I could spend forever under there,” she said, “Is that for me?”
He handed her the glass and they stood looking at one another, “You saved my life out there,” he said slowly.
“You’d have been all right,” T’Kar smiled up at him, “your friends would have found you eventually.”
He stepped forward setting his glass down on the sideboard, he held out a hand, “My name’s Leonard, T’Kar. And it is a pleasure to meet you.”
“Likewise, Leonard.” She shook hands with him gravely.
He smiled, “Now I believe that as a mark of respect I should cook you dinner.”
“Perhaps we could cook a meal together,” T’Kar said slowly, “then I can show you that Vulcans eat more than plomeek soup.”
She was about to serve them both, when there was a pounding at her door and she heard Captain Kirk’s voice, “T’Kar, T’Kar are you in there?”
Sighing she put her fork down and opened the door, “What is it, Captain?”
“Doctor McCoy’s disappeared, we were hoping-” sighing she opened the door wider and said, “Come in.”
Kirk entered and she spotted the wild look in his eyes, McCoy came through from the dining room and both of them had to catch Jim as he collapsed. Carefully McCoy eased his friend down onto the sofa and then he sat beside him while T’Kar pulled up a footstool and sat down her eyes never leaving Jim’s face. McCoy carefully examined his friend and turned to T’Kar, “Would you go and fetch me a glass of water.”
She nodded quietly and when she’d left the room Dr McCoy regarded Jim thoughtfully, “You went out into the desert didn’t you?”
“Sorry, Bones,” the smile on Jim’s lips didn’t quite reach his eyes, “I thought that you might have got yourself lost.”
“What were you thinking?” McCoy demanded, “you’re in no condition to go gallivanting around the Vulcan wilderness!”
“He was concerned for you, Doctor,” T’Kar had come back into the room, “or perhaps I should use the word ‘fearful’ and fear makes people do things they would otherwise not consider. Besides, he is still the Captain, no matter that he is off duty.”
“Hmmph,” McCoy retorted but she noticed that his eyes never left his friend’s face and his fingers remained on his wrist.
T’Kar handed the water to Captain Kirk, and said gently, “You’ll make yourself ill again.”
A weary smile touched Kirk’s lips, “I had no choice,” he replied. “You understand that, don’t you? He is one of my crew – my responsibility.”
T’Kar shook her head, “Drink your water, Jim.” She stood up, “And I’d better contact Sarek, Amanda and Spock or they’ll kill me.”
Kirk leant his head back and closed his eyes, “Gods I’m tired,” he muttered.
T’Kar re-entered the room, “I’ve told my parents and Spock is furious.”
“How do you know?” McCoy turned to survey her quizzically.
“Tone of voice, the look in his eyes. I may only be half-Vulcan, but to coin a Terran phrase I can tell when one of them is ‘pissed’.”
McCoy laughed, “You sound almost human, T’Kar.”
“Don’t tell Spock,” she smiled, “he would be seriously offended. Now, Captain, Doctor, I think you should spend the night here and we’ll decide what to do tomorrow morning.”
McCoy eyed his friend quietly, “I know who T’Kar is, Jim, she saved my life when I walked too far into the desert. She saved your life too, didn’t she?”
Jim nodded, “When did you know?”
“Tonight, when she found me in the deep desert. She was holding a horse with fangs. And she’s made friends with a whole group of le-matya.”
“Hardly friends,” she smiled, “I hold that all life is sacred. Do you feel well enough to eat something, Captain?”
Kirk nodded, “I think so.”
“I’m trying to convince Dr McCoy that we eat more than plomeek soup.” T’Kar replied, she regarded the two men quietly and then said, “Come and sit down, Captain. We’re having the terran equivalent of stuffed peppers with salad and kreila,” at Kirk’s puzzled expression she said, “A kind of flat, unleavened bread. Used to be known as pitta bread I think.”
“Should I not serve you?” McCoy asked gently.
T’Kar managed a wry grin and handed him a spachelor, “As you wish.”
McCoy sat down and said, “Who do I serve first?”
“I have no idea,” T’Kar laughed, “I’ve never had a dinner party before.”
“Human custom states that guests should be served first,” Kirk smiled, the gesture lightening his face, “So technically, you should serve us, but human custom also dictates that ladies should be served first. So, I’ll serve you and then Dr McCoy and then we’ll eat. Give me the fish slice, Bones.”
T’Kar smiled and accepted the plate.
They ate slowly, savouring each mouthful, “Are you feeling better?” she asked gently, turning to Jim.
“Yes, thank you,” he smiled, “Thank you for finding Dr McCoy.”
“I think he found me,” T’Kar replied.
“Do you have any celebratory plans for your birthday?” Jim asked.
“Well, apart from seeing the lawyer, no.” T’Kar replied.
“Are you nervous about seeing him?” Leonard asked.
“A bit,” T’Kar admitted, “I’m afraid that the information I discover will affect my life in ways I can’t imagine.”
“Whatever it is, surely it can’t be as frightening as saving me,” Jim said.
“I don’t know,” T’Kar replied, “I don’t know why it’s been kept a secret until I was twenty-one.”
“Perhaps she felt at twenty-one you would have more maturity than you did at eighteen.” Leonard said gently.
“I think she may have been wrong,” T’Kar stabbed her pepper.
“No,” Jim said quietly, “I don’t. You are a bright and courageous person and whatever terrors this meeting holds for you I think you will overcome them.”
“What about your terrors?” she asked turning to Kirk. He shook his head, “I can’t remember anything beyond that Klingon attack cruiser, I know that something happened but I’m damned if I can remember it. It’s just blank.”
“Everything? Or just your last mission?” T’Kar asked curiously.
“I remember when we encountered a man named Lazarus,” he smiled wryly, “he was trying to stop an evil version of himself from destroying the universe. But after that-”
“Nothing?” T’Kar queried.
“Nothing.” He confirmed. Awkward he looked down at his plate, “It feels completely stupid but there’s just a blank space and then the Klingon attack.”
“Well you at least seem more amenable to rational conversation today than you were a couple of days ago,” T’Kar said gently.
“It’s because he’s exhausted,” McCoy replied as he finished his kreila, “Tomorrow he’ll be his usual irascible self.”
Jim smiled and then yawned, T’Kar smiled, “Bed, I think. We’ll talk about treatment tomorrow.”
“Which lunatic asylum to send me to?” he joked.
“Not quite yet. Let’s see if we can get you talking about how you feel.”
“Starship Captains are supposed to be above that,” he said slowly.
“But they’re not,” T’Kar replied, “I don’t expect you to talk to me, Jim, or even to Dr McCoy – and if I was honest I would say that would not be a good idea, but I do think that you need to talk with someone about this.”
Jim didn’t respond and then T’Kar was rising to her feet, “I’ll show you both to your rooms.”
“Where will you sleep?” Leonard asked.
“Oh I’ll crash on the couch,” T’Kar replied.
“You won’t,” McCoy responded, “I’ll take the couch.” Reluctantly T’Kar raised her hands in submission, “As you wish. Come on, Doctor, I’ll get you some bed linen.”
“See you in the morning,” Kirk smiled and they heard the door of the guest bedroom close.
“You really think that he should talk to someone,” Leonard asked.
“Some cogent amnesia is permissible,” T’Kar said slowly, “after a serious accident when cognizant memory of an accident may never fully return, but this is different. It is sometimes known as a Psychogenic Fugue State where the mind blocks out a traumatic event. I know he’s a starship Captain and must be seen to be almost superhuman, but if he can’t talk about this he’ll lose his command.”
“You really think so?” McCoy looked shocked.
“You know so. A starship Captain must almost be beyond reproach, beyond the human world almost. If he cannot remember an event related to a mission and deal with the turmoil it causes then he cannot command a starship.”
“Who would you recommend?” Bones asked.
“I’ll let you talk to Dr M’Benga in the morning,” T’Kar said quietly, “this is something that should be decided between the two of you. Actually it would be better decided between the three of you.”
“What will you do?” McCoy asked gently.
“Are you kidding?” She laughed, “I can go back to normal work. It’ll be wonderful!”
“You’ve been a rock you know, these past two days.” Bones said slowly, “I don’t know what we would have done without you.”
“But I don’t know why,” T’Kar replied, “and that is as worrying as the power itself.”
“Yes.” McCoy nodded, “I do understand that. Don’t worry, we’ll keep your secret.”
“Thank you,” she smiled, despite everything she yawned suddenly.
“Go to bed,” McCoy said firmly.
Stripping she pulled on a light nightshirt and crawled between the sheets. She was asleep before her head hit the pillow.
She woke slowly, the early morning sun shone through a crack in the curtains and she stared at it for a few moments wondering what time it was. Then sighing she lifted herself out of bed.
McCoy was still asleep on the sofa and she regarded him quietly for a couple of minutes and then she padded through to the kitchen. She was making herself a cup of Vulcan mocha when she heard Kirk say, “Did you sleep well?”
She turned and smiled, “Yes thank you. Want breakfast?”
“I can make my own if you have terran food.”
“Cupboard with the blue sticker on it,” T’Kar replied, “Terran milk in the fridge, same colour label.”
“What will you have?”
“Mine’s in the cupboard with the green sticker, and the same for my milk in the fridge,” she grinned, “I colour coded them about 6 months ago. It occurred to me that if I had Terran friends come over then it was important that I not poison them.”
Jim laughed, “Yeah, I can understand that.”
They helped themselves to both Terran and Vulcan equivalents of cereal and coffee. T’Kar looked at Captain Kirk and asked, “What are your plans this morning?”
Kirk grimaced, “I’ll go talk to Dr. M’Benga.”
“Is it so bad?” She sighed, “No, don’t answer that. Of course it’s bad. I suspect that like most men you don’t want to talk about it because that’s not how the male psyche works. Men who talk about doing things don’t ‘do them’, so asking you to talk about your problems is not really what you want to hear. You want to go out and fight them.”
“Given the choice I’d prefer to wait,” he scowled. “And see what happens,”
T’Kar sighed, “a mind-meld?”
Kirk looked up at her and said, “I doubt you would want that.”
“It would not be easy,” T’Kar replied, “But if it restored your mind, then I would have to live with it.”
Kirk shook his head, “We’ll try the other way first. I know how much you want to keep this other life, secret.”