McCoy drew the vehicle up outside Sarek’s house and gazed at her, “Is it some sort of prescience at work? Do all Shatry’u have it?”
“I suppose,” T’Kar sighed, “It’s not a concrete ability. I know that you three are special but I can’t pinpoint it to a specific year or date or time. And because the future is a fluid existence, even that is in some doubt. As is mine. As was said to me, ‘there is also the possibility that I may not ascend to become Shatry’a’.”
McCoy looked at her for a long moment, he could still see the wildness in her that had been there the night before during pon farr but there was something else, something powerful that reminded him of a panther, “I no longer doubt that,” he said quietly, “I think you will rise like a Teresh-ka.”
She laughed and he held out his index and middle fingers, “Attend me,” he said softly.
A soft gasp came from her and she laid her fingers on his, “We’d better go inside,” she responded.
Amanda was sitting reading when Spock opened the door to them, Kirk and Sarek were attempting to play tri-dimensional chess in a corner of the room. T’Kar was relieved to see that his colour had improved. He looked up and a smile of relief crossed his face when he saw her,“T’Kar!”
“Good morning,” she said, “Are you feeling better?”
Kirk stopped in front of her, “I am sorry for my behaviour at the hospital yesterday,” he said, “it was totally unacceptable.”
“There is no offense where none is taken,” T’Kar replied.
“What do we do now?” Kirk asked.
“I think we need to discuss the procedure Dr. M’Benga wants to use to try and unlock that blank space in your mind,” T’Kar said, “and you will need to agree to it.”
Kirk looked at her for a moment, “You’re worried about it.”
“I need to read up on feromazone,” T’Kar replied, “You need training to use it, it’s a controlled substance and can turn your brain inside out like an empty paper bag.”
“You don’t like it,” Kirk said slowly.
“Will it work?” Dr. McCoy brought them both a glass of juice and then brought his own across, he watched her face and then said gently, “talk to me, tell me your fears.”
“If the subject is not handled correctly then it can cause even more trauma resulting in psychotic behaviour.”
“Do you doubt Dr. M’Benga?” Spock asked quietly,“or is it yourself you doubt?”
“I doubt that I am the right person to be present when he uses this drug,” T’Kar clarified. “What if I say the wrong thing? What if I react badly when the Captain is under the feromazone’s influence?”
“As I said before, I trust you,” James Kirk smiled and for a moment looked almost like his old self.
T’Kar looked across at McCoy, “Why do I get the feeling that I’m not going to be able to talk you out of this crazy idea?”
“Because you’re not,” Jim replied, the boyish grin reappearing on his face, “I want you by my side –”
“And what James Kirk wants, James Kirk gets,” T’Kar rolled her eyes and stood up, “one day that is going to backfire.”
Spock nodded, “I have attempted to explain this logically to him, T’Kar, but he is James Kirk.”
“I’ve heard someone else say something similar,” T’Kar replied, she smiled, “You are incorrigible.”
McCoy smiled at her, “That’s part of his charm.”
She just looked at him and shook her head, “Not this time. All right, I agree – but as Dr. M’Benga has suggested there will be provisos and I shall abide by his word.”
“What next?” Jim asked.
“I’ll call Dr. M’Benga and arrange for Jim to be admitted to hospital tomorrow and the treatment can begin the day after that. You’ll have to make yourself available.” McCoy said.
“Don’t forget I have a meeting with my lawyer that morning,” T’Kar replied.
“I hadn’t forgotten,” Leonard replied, “I was going to suggest that we just spend the remainder of today relaxing.”
Reluctantly, T’Kar nodded, “All right. If Spock’s agreeable I’d like to take Jim out to the lava fields, show him a bit more of Vulcan than the hospital and of course this house.”
“I think that would be perfect,” Amanda replied, “I’ll pack you a hamper.”
“Leonard?” she turned to him.
McCoy smiled, “Go. I’ll need to discuss everything with Jabilo anyway.”
“Spock?” T’Kar turned to the man she considered a brother.
His dark eyes held hers and he nodded, “I think that would be a good idea, T’Kar. I have some physics papers I have not finished reading. Don’t stay out too late – and don’t forget to use sunscreen.”
T’Kar rolled her eyes, “We won’t.”
Twenty minutes later Kirk was helping with a large picnic hamper as Amanda saw them off, “Do try not to get into any trouble,” she said quietly.
“We’ll do our best,” Kirk promised.
“I wasn’t talking to you,” Amanda replied with a sly smile.
When they were in the groundcar, Jim turned to the woman sitting next to him, “Do you think Amanda knows about you?”
“I think that she might suspect something,” T’Kar smiled, “Never underestimate a mother. Even if she is a foster-mother.”
“Ah,” Jim smiled, “You know my mother was the same. She always knew if I’d been naughty, even if she didn’t know what. I think it’s a knack that mothers have.”
“Or some magic all their own,” T’Kar replied thoughtfully.
They reached the lava fields an hour later, T’Kar took a bottle of sunscreen and handed it to Kirk, “Put some of this on,” she ordered, “Spock would be furious with me if I was to allow you to get sunburned on top of everything else.”
Kirk smiled tautly and took the bottle from her, smearing the viscous, pearl-covered liquid onto his arms he saw that it was absorbed almost immediately. He handed the bottle back to T’Kar and watched as she did the same thing, “I thought that Vulcans were naturally sun-resistant?”
“Yes, but our skin can still be sun-damaged,” T’Kar replied, “I’ll set up the umbrella anyway. Wait here.”
Kirk watched as she erected the large parasol and then spread the blanket beneath it. She returned to the groundcar and opened the door, “You can help me with lunch.”
They sat beneath the shade and looked out at the scenery, T’Kar unpacked their lunch and Jim said slowly,
“What did Dr. M’Benga say to you yesterday?”
T’Kar looked up from pouring the drinks, “You really want to know?”
Jim nodded and she sighed, “All right. He’s not all that keen on using a drug to unlock repressed memory – nor is he terribly keen on me being present.”
“I’m not a trained psychiatric nurse, nor am I an enlisted member of Starfleet,” T’Kar explained.
“Well as far as I’m concerned you being a psychiatric nurse doesn’t matter,” Kirk replied, “and the situation with Starfleet can be remedied.”
“And what do I do when I’m enlisted as an Ensign?” she replied, “After it’s all over?”
Kirk took the cup from her and looked out across the burning landscape in front of them, “You don’t want to serve in Starfleet?”
“I’d prefer to do it the traditional way,” T’Kar replied, “journey to earth, enrol in Starfleet Academy – you know the usual drill.”
“But that can be remedied,” Kirk said slowly, as he sipped his drink, “and you can still attend the Academy – but I would have thought you would have preferred to go here, on Vulcan.”
“To join Starfleet one must go to Earth,” T’Kar replied, “and I wanted to join Starfleet – or I thought I did.”
Kirk took one of the sandwiches and looked out across the trails of lava snaking out across the landscape, “You don’t want to join Starfleet?”
“I don’t know,” T’Kar replied, as she took another sandwich.
Kirk smiled, “It is still worth considering you know. It gave me purpose and for that I’m eternally grateful.”
“Even if they take your command away,” T’Kar raised an eyebrow.
“We’ll sort that,” Kirk replied with confidence, “with you by my side I can do anything.”
T’Kar shook her head, “You flatter me, Captain.”
“No, I don’t.” Kirk shook his head, “You saved me from the fire and if anyone can bring me through the shadow it is you.”
T’Kar laughed, “I am not that wonderful, Captain. And you forget, I have my own problems too. Not least of which is this strange power that erupted to heal you.”
“Yes I know,” Kirk sighed, “Are those Pla-savas?”
T’Kar looked down at the blue-black fruits she was holding and nodded, “Here.”
Kirk took it and lifting it to his lips bit into the flesh.
Taking the fruit away from his lips T’Kar saw the apricot coloured interior and suddenly felt her mouth water. She handed Kirk a napkin and then bit into her own Pla-sava.
When they were sated they sat looking out at the vista in front of them and T’Kar said gently, “Do you think we should start heading back?”
Kirk sighed and replied, “You live on an extraordinary world, T’Kar.”
“I am beginning to realise that, Captain.” She replied as she packed up the hamper. She stood up to put it back in the car and Jim heard a soft gasp, he turned to look over his shoulder and saw the creatures behind them. “Oh God,” he murmured softly.
To his surprise T’Kar set the hamper on the ground and then knelt down. Two of the creatures began pacing towards her. She held out her hand palm up and Kirk watched, speechless in shock as one of them rubbed its head against it. She laughed and then moved her hand to scratch behind its ears.
“What the hell-” he began swallowing hard.
“You can come and give her head a stroke if you like,” T’Kar half turned to smile at him, “just be careful of the claws and the tail.”
“I’d rather not,” Kirk said, blenching slightly. “How the hell do you do that?”
“I thought you’d have guessed the answer to that one,” She turned to look at him.
He swallowed hard before replying, “That’s a le-matya isn’t it?”
“She’s the Alpha female of this particular group. I’m wanted for something.”
She stood up and held out a hand, “You’re going to have to come with me.”
Kirk swallowed and stood up, “I was attacked by a le-matya once – nearly died. Sorry.”
“They scare you,” T’Kar said softly.
“Yes,” Kirk was surprised by the admission.
“You can sit in the groundcar if you want,” she replied, “but I have to go.”
Surprising himself Kirk shook his head, “No, I’m coming with you.”
“All right,” she smiled, “Let me put this hamper in the car.”
She closed the back door and turned to see Jim looking very pale, two le-matya had come up very close behind him and were sitting either side of him, looking up into his face. “Here,” she said, “Give me your hand. It’ll be all right.”
She took his hand and he managed a wan smile, the le-matya spread out ahead of them and T’Kar and the Captain followed.
“The first time this happened they almost had to drag me to my destination,” she remarked conversationally as they walked down a sandy gully, “I think I spent most of that journey scared witless.”
“So how do you know now that they want you for something?” he asked.
“They found me when Dr. McCoy got lost,” she said quietly, “I made it look as though I’d discovered him by accident but it wasn’t quite that simple. A small group of them found me and led me back to Dr. McCoy.”
Kirk looked up at the green skinned creatures, some of them were pacing along the ridges above them and three or four were ahead of them, “How can you do this?” he asked suddenly.
“I don’t know,” T’Kar replied, “I am tempted to believe that it is part of what I will become but I have never heard of any Shatry’a ever being able to do this.”
“Have you heard of any Shatry’a ever being able to bring back the dead?” Kirk asked.
She glanced at him quickly, he looked better but his eyes were suspiciously bright, “You weren’t dead.”
“Close enough,” Kirk replied.
“There are legends of Shatry’a being able to do such things,” T’Kar said, she managed a half-hearted smile. “The only Terran equivalent is Jesus.”
Kirk nodded, “Yes. Is that what the Shatry’a are to Vulcans?”
“Shatry’ana,” T’Kar corrected, “In a way, although there have been many Shatry’a who have lived on Vulcan. I will inherit the memories of all of them if I choose this. This ability to heal may be the universe working through me rather than a power that the Shatry’a have.”
“Which worries you more?” he asked gently.
“Inheriting all their memories,” T’Kar gave him a rueful smile, “I’m sorry, Jim. It scares me.”
“Try not to let it,” he said, gently laying a hand on her shoulder, “try to go with the flow.”
A soft laugh erupted from between her lips, “I shall do my best, Captain.”
The le-matya stopped at the entrance of the cave and stopped looking back their tails whipping back and forth.
“Careful now,” T’Kar said, “they’re somewhat agitated.”
“I can see that,” Kirk said eyeing both animals. I get the feeling that they don’t want me going in there.”
“Hmmm,” T’Kar replied, “but I need you, Jim. Stick close to me.”
He swallowed and took her hand again, “All right.”
“Be strong and of good courage,” T’Kar said softly.
“For the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” Kirk smiled, “I didn’t know Vulcans read the Bible.”
“It’s always interesting to read old religious texts,” T’Kar replied. “I’ve read the Qur’an, most of the Mahabharata and even The Kitab-i-Iquan. They are worth reading, there is much truth in all of them.”
They ducked into the dimness of the cave and for a few moments they stood together, waiting for their eyes to get used to the dimness. Something moaned in the darkness and they both stiffened, “What the hell is that?”
“Another le-matya,” T’Kar said, “it sounds injured.”
Realization dawned and he whispered, “They want you to heal it.”
“Yes,” T’Kar said. He felt her hand squeeze his own and then she said, “I really need you to stay here this time. The ones outside will not hurt you, but this one might.”
“Wounded animal and all that?” he murmured.
“Yes,” she gave his hand another squeeze, “don’t worry, I’ll be back.”
Kirk felt her move away and then he heard her voice softly murmuring although he couldn’t quite make out what she was saying. Then he heard a soft rumbling and a soft chuckle in her voice, and then he saw the same blue-white light rising in the darkness of the cave. He stared, transfixed as the light rose, becoming brighter and brighter until he had to close his eyes.
“Captain,” T’Kar’s hand was suddenly warm in his own and he opened his eyes, “I’m done. Now keep still.”
Kirk felt something press against his leg as it exited the cave and he froze in place again. Suddenly T’Kar’s hand was at his waist. His knees buckled and he would have fallen if she hadn’t been holding onto him.
About thirty seconds later he lifted his head from her shoulder and muttered, “Gods, I’m sorry-” and slid into a dead faint.
Thanking all the deities that dwelt in heaven she half-walked, half-carried a semi-conscious Kirk from the cave and eased him down onto the desert floor. The le-matya watched her quietly, their orange eyes seeming to glow. The one she’d healed, the Alpha male, lifted its head and whickered softly. She held out her hand and like a domestic cat it walked forward and butted its head against her palm.
About five minutes later Kirk’s eyes flickered and opened, T’Kar gently touched his forehead with the back of her fingers, “Feeling better?”
“Ah hell,” he muttered as he sat up, “tell me when this will stop.”
“When you don’t have to go through this,” T’Kar replied, “and when you’re stronger.”
“But this isn’t like me,” Kirk replied, he ran a hand through his blond hair, “I’m a Starship Captain-”
“Strong, self-contained, brave, humane-” T’Kar began ticking off attributes on her fingers, and then his hand was closing over hers.
“I’m not quite that good,” he smiled.
T’Kar moved so that she was sitting next to him, “But you must appear to be. That’s the point. I should have made you stay in the groundcar.”
Kirk looked up, “No, I wouldn’t have missed this for worlds.”
“Now all we have to do is get out of here,” She sighed and looked around, “the le-matya have gone so we should be all right to walk back – if you feel up to it.”
Kirk nodded, “We’d better, otherwise you’ll be in trouble.”
“Otherwise we’ll both be in trouble.” T’Kar replied.
Sighing she stood up and helped Captain Kirk to his feet, he brushed sand from his trousers and looked up,
“What is that?” he asked.
She turned and smiled, “That’s our ticket out of here. Come on, I’ll introduce you.”
As they approached Kirk managed a weak smile, “What is it?”
“It’s called a Kenel,” T’Kar replied, “and all our books tell us that they’re extinct.”
“Mmm,” Kirk smiled, “Does it know it’s supposed to be extinct?”
“Now that’s the right question,” T’Kar laughed.
The creature stood while T’Kar knelt next to a foreleg and made a stirrup out of her hands for Kirk to mount, “Grab handfuls of mane to keep yourself stable,” she said, “It won’t like it much, but at least you won’t slide off.”
“Have you ever thought of a saddle and bridle?” he asked looking down at her.
“It’s a wild animal,” T’Kar pointed out, “I doubt I could get it to tolerate either – special animal skills or not.”
“Are you going to mount behind me?”
“I’ll run,” T’Kar replied.
He would always remember that afternoon beneath the blazing sun of Vulcan, the feel of the creature beneath him and the woman running next to him, her feet making little or no sound on the soft sand.
Eventually they stopped at the entrance to the gully and T’Kar looked up at him, sweat was beading her forehead and her dark eyes shone like jewels. He stared down at her totally entranced, “We walk from here, Jim.”
He nodded and dismounted from the Kenel. T’Kar held out a hand and said, “You’ll be all right to walk the last fifty yards to the vehicle?”
“I should think so,” Jim smiled, “any plans for tonight?”
“None that I can think of,” T’Kar replied, “You’re going back into hospital tomorrow and I must spend much of tonight in meditation. Because of what happened today. It gets harder to maintain my Vulcan persona.”
“The mask of non-emotion?” She nodded and he sighed, “you will be all right in front of your family, and others?”
“Yes, I think so,” T’Kar sighed, “Come on, before they send the dogs out after us.”
Spock eyed the Captain thoughtfully when they arrived back at Sarek and Amanda’s house. For the first time in eight days Jim looked more like his usual self. T’Kar on the other hand looked slightly frazzled.
“Did you have a good time?” Amanda asked.
“Your adopted planet is wonderful,” Jim replied, “I haven’t had such a good time in years.”
“I’m glad,” Amanda smiled, “you look almost human again, Captain.”
“Thanks to your daughter,” Jim laughed, “it was a good afternoon, Amanda.”
T’Kar managed a weak smile as she took the glass of water from her mother, “If you will excuse me, I must go and meditate.”
Sarek bowed silently and then she was quietly slipping out of the room. Once inside she leant against the door and let out a long, silent, sigh.
“We will leave you in peace to talk,” Sarek said, “I shall come and find you for supper.” And then he was gone.
“What happened, Jim?” McCoy asked quietly.
“It was enlightening,” he said slowly, looking at his friend, “Bones, she’s amazing. Bright, brave, brilliant, beautiful.”
“I know,” McCoy said quietly, “you forget a similar thing happened to me. She’s finding it harder to retain control, to be a pure Vulcan isn’t she?”
“I’m beginning to get that impression,” Jim sighed and ran a hand through her hair, “she said it was something to do with the fact that if she takes on the mantle of a Shatry’a she will also inherit all the memories of the others.”
“One hell of a burden for a twenty-one year old,” McCoy remarked, “And the pon farr would not have helped matters.”
“Pon farr?” Kirk looked shocked, “when?”
“Last night,” McCoy smiled, “I volunteered. She did say she could go a place in ShiKahr that caters for such things but I wanted her first time to be with someone she liked and trusted. Spock was out of the question and you weren’t fit. It was me or no-one.”
Kirk stared at his friend perplexed, there had been very few occasions when he’d been speechless in front of McCoy, but this was definitely one of them. It didn’t help that he was beginning to find T’Kar exceptionally attractive too. He ran a hand through his blond hair again, “I’m out of action for a couple of days and the world goes to hell in a handbasket. Are you two bonded now?”
“She said it would only last a few days, but it is a slightly unnerving sensation.” McCoy admitted, “I can feel her distress from here, although she is beginning to calm down now. Perhaps she can also feel certain emotions from me also.”
“Indupitably, Doctor,” Sarek was suddenly standing behind them, “although a bond made during pon farr just to relieve the symptoms of the condition is not binding, the two involved will continue to sense one another’s emotions for a while. It will fade-” he assured them when they turned concerned looks on him, “I promise. Did T’Kar not intimate the same?”
“I saw how you obeyed our customs when you entered the house this morning,” Sarek said, “I know that the bonding was for the sake of ease and convenience but your desire to show her you cared and to do it in Vulcan fashion honours us.”
McCoy smiled, “I could do no less for the House of Sarek,” he replied.
“I came to say that supper is ready, gentlemen. I will go and tell my daughter.” Sarek bowed and left.
Jim cleared his throat, “Did you speak with Dr. M’Benga, Bones?”
“I did,” McCoy managed a weary smile, “he’s still not best pleased about T’Kar being present. He feels that she could be a disruptive influence. But he’s acceded to your request.
“Are you sure that she could not be sworn into Starfleet?” Kirk asked, “it would solve most of the problems.”
“Would that be the best thing for her?” McCoy sighed and went to sit on one of the lounge chairs, “you’ve seen her out in the desert, Jim. She’s special and if we take her away from this then it could kill her.”
“Unlikely,” T’Kar’s voice interrupted them, “when I saw the Shatry’a last, she said that I still had choices and that she would be Shatry’a for a long while yet. I will have to return one day, but that day is far in the future and not set in stone.”
“What would happen if you did not become Shatry’a?” Kirk asked suddenly.
“I’d lose this ability I think,” T’Kar replied, her dark eyes thoughtful, “but it would also be a freedom of sorts, I would be free to pursue whatever life I wanted.”
“In Starfleet?” Kirk asked.
“Or here at the Vulcan Academy of Sciences,” she looked at both of them, “and whatever I choose will be right. I must have faith in that.”
“You won’t be able to do what you did for me,” Jim remarked thoughtfully.
“Perhaps you were a one-off,” T’Kar replied, “as I said, why this sudden power erupted to heal you now is still a mystery.”
“But what is the function of these Shatry’ana?” Jim asked, “if you have all this power-”
T’Kar blinked, “Again, a good question, the simple answer is ‘I don’t know’, or perhaps that should be, ‘I don’t know yet’, I think it is more to do with keeping the universe in balance. I do not know of anyone who was healed by a Shatry’a although many of the legends relating to such beings are lost – unless they are stored in the collective memories of all the Shatry’a. Perhaps I shall find out, perhaps I’ll never find out and never become Shatry’a. The future is a fluid creature, and what may be and what will be are two completely different things.”
McCoy wanted to give her a hug, but simply extended his index and middle finger, Kirk watched as a soft flush crept up T’Kar’s cheeks and she did the same, turning her hand palm upwards and then touched her fingertips to his. They stared at each other for a long moment and then McCoy gently broke contact.
“I want to begin treatment tomorrow,” Kirk said shortly as they walked into the dining room.
“No,” McCoy replied, “the day after tomorrow.”
“I think that wise,” Amanda looked up at him and smiled, “You seem better today, Captain, but another day’s rest would not go amiss.”
Jim took the salad bowl from her hands and helped himself, looking down at his plate he sighed, “All right. I’ll wait even though I feel as though I should be doing something .”
“I have to see the lawyer the day after tomorrow,” T’Kar reminded him, “remember the proviso in my mother’s will? Give it one more day, Jim, I promise I will be there.”
McCoy nodded, “All right. Yes I think that would be a good thing. We’ll brief you when you get there – all right?”
Amanda smiled at her daughter, “Are you nervous?” she asked gently.
“A little bit,” T’Kar looked up and her eyes seemed clearer, “it is more frustrating than upsetting. I was afraid and because I was afraid I acted irrationally.”
“Fear does tend to cause that.” Kirk replied, thinking back to the time he’d stumbled into T’Kar’s apartment, his whole being consumed by terror that his friend was lost in the Vulcan desert and at the mercy of all the venomous flora and fauna that lived there.
“And now?” Sarek asked.
“I have problems divorcing myself from the fear,” T’Kar admitted, “but I have examined it and I believe that my fears are groundless.”
Sarek nodded approvingly and then bent to his supper.
After dinner, Spock borrowed his father’s lyrette and played softly while Kirk and McCoy talked. Then, T’Kar smiled and said, “I think I’ll call it a night and I’ll see you all at the hospital the day after tomorrow.”
McCoy nodded, “I’ll stay here with Jim tonight. Mind if I see you out?”
T’Kar nodded, “I would like that, Leonard.”
At the door he leant forward and kissed her lips, “I know that’s not the Vulcan way,” he said, “but I’ve been wanting to do that all day.”
She linked her arms around his neck and smiled properly, “You’ll get me into trouble.” She hissed.
“I like being with you,” McCoy said quietly, “and for the time we have together I want to spend as much of it with you as I can.”
T’Kar smiled, “Tomorrow I intend to do some reading and meditation. I suggest that you and Jim do the same. The day after I have an appointment with my laywer, S’Jenes. If you go into ShiKhar and ask for him, anyone should be able to direct you to his offices.”
“I’ll see you for an early lunch, before we go up to the hospital.” McCoy said.
Surprising herself T’Kar reached up to lay a hand along the side of his face, “This won’t last you know.”
Leonard reached up to cover the hand with his own and then turned his head to kiss her palm, “I know that, but I see no reason not to enjoy your company. I’m not a fool, T’Kar. But I do like spending time with you.”
T’Kar let out her breath in a frustrated sigh, “Oh I give in. You three are all the same. All right, I’ll meet you for brunch.”
“See you later,” he whispered as she slipped out of the door.