Part One: Through the Guardian
Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India January 17, 1981
I walked into the Singh’s eating house and saw Spock sitting at a table eating a bowl of dal and rice. I didn’t see him when I walked in, only after I took my tin dinner pail to the front of the line to have it filled. If I’d seen him from the door, I would’ve turned and run as fast and as far as I could.
Mr. Singh made me wait while he went to get a hot pad so that I could carry my pail with both hands. While I waited, I gazed with mild interest around the restaurant and looked right into Spock’s eyes.
We stared at each other in disbelief. Had I been a bit quicker on the uptake, in that moment, I might have slipped out and left him wondering if his eyes had deceived him—not that it would have made much of a difference to Spock, who is almost always certain of what he sees. But I was so startled that I was unable to move, let alone think. He put down his spoon and nodded absently to the family with whom he’d been sitting, and approached me.
He looked good and hadn’t changed much since the last time I saw him. A little broader through the chest, perhaps. His hair grew past his shoulders, and he had it tucked behind his ears. In this time and in this country, devastating industrial accidents and congenital anomalies were too common. If his pointed ears were perhaps alien, they were not worth comment. Here, he was just another Hun, down from the mountains.
I walked backwards out the door but stopped when I stumbled over the doorsill. He looked down at me. The cold, dry wind blew his hair into his eyes. Before I could stop myself, I reached up and smoothed his hair back. Gripping its thick, sable richness was what I missed when I held another man’s head to my breast or between my thighs. A wave of longing and desire rolled through me and I had to clench my jaw against it, making my chest ache and my eyes burn.
He closed his eyes and turned his lips to my palm. He bent forward but I stopped him with a hand on his chest. He put his hands in the pockets of his thick canvas jacket.
I looked at my hand on his coat. I curled my fingers into a fist and rapped his chest gently with my knuckles. I shook my head and looked away. A beggar on a rolling board tugged at my pant leg.
“Come on,” I said.
I lived about a half mile from the river in a hilly old British residential colony that was mainly populated by doctors, university employees and solicitors. It was cleaner and drier here and without the crowded, rank environment of the dwellings and shops near the ghats. There were few cows and goats on the streets and the gutters were swept clean regularly by the city workers. In the rest of the city, dogs, bhangi children, goats and cows and old people rooted in the rubbish that was heaped in collapsed buildings, empty lots and back alleys.
I sensed Spock watching me as we walked without speaking down the cracked stone street towards my apartment. He ducked and dodged the chaotic web of telephone and electrical wires, shop signs and prayer flags that overhang the street and walkways. The shopkeepers and street peddlers ignored him because he was with me, but an emaciated rickshaw driver trotted alongside us, smiling with black teeth, hoping that we’d change our minds and hire him to haul us up the hills for a rupee or two.
The air was still between the buildings and the scent of sandalwood, curry and sewage wafted out of the mouths of alleys, mingling with the smoke from kerosene cookfires, cannabis and the cold, fishy odor of the Ganges. One brave Imam led evening prayers in a dusty courtyard. As he bowed toward Mecca, his eyes fearfully but defiantly tracked us as we passed. The Eugenics Wars were still five years away, but word of secret and not-so-secret--religious and ethnic cleansings had already spread this far north. People had stopped worshipping in public.
As we turned down the gali that led to my building, an elderly woman dropped a basket of fruit. I set my pail on the ground and chased oranges until we retrieved them all. Spock watched as I accepted four, and then returned three of the oranges that the woman gave to me as a reward. I picked up my pail and stood before him. He opened his mouth to speak.
“Don’t. I can’t. I just can’t.” I walked away. He walked behind me until I got to the door that led to my loft above a British laundry. The imperious Mrs. Bharadwaj stepped out of her shop.
“Lily. Mr. Bharadwaj will bring your bath water now,” she said in her cultured French.
“Merci, Madame,” I replied.
Her eyes flickered in the general direction of Spock but she did not acknowledge him.
We entered my loft. It was warm and humid and smelled of powdered starch. Spock relaxed in the warmth and looked around. My apartment was a large open space with only a chest-high wooden screen that separated my sleeping platform from the rest of the room. My furniture consisted of a small bistro table and two chairs near the kitchen and a low sofa, table and armchair grouped near the large window. My kitchen was a large, deep, cast iron sink, a freestanding pantry and a rickety Frigidaire lined along one wall. Shelves stuffed with books took up another wall opposite my sleeping platform. My work station was a crate and a wooden chair. The floor of the loft was lovely old and cracked dark blue, red, brown and purple tile laid in an intricate mosaic. The mosaic and the free heat rising from the laundry below in the brief but cool winter was part of the reason I chose this place. I could sleep with the window open year around. During the summer, the powerful attic fan sucked the mosquitoes and hot air out of the room and created a constant, gentle breeze that was quite comfortable, though a little moist. It was amazing to have this much space to myself in a city as crowded as Varanasi.
Spock walked across the room and looked out the large window.
“My father brought me to Varanasi once when I was a child,” I said.
“Was that woman your landlord?”
“She is French?”
“No, she’s Chinese educated in France before Mao. Her family disowned her when she fell in love with Mr. Bharadwaj at Sorbonne. His father died and they came here to live. Her Hindi is poor and she refuses to speak Cantonese. We both speak French.” I shrugged.
What the hell were we talking about?
“Do you have a bathroom?”
I pointed to a short flight of iron stairs in the corner. My toilet was in a small enclosure on the roof, my bath a tin-lined wooden tub in my kitchen.
When Spock returned, Mr. Bharadwaj was pouring hot water into my tub from two giant spouted kettles that he’d hauled up the two flights of stairs on a yoke across his shoulders. He poured some into a large bucket beside the tub. Spock watched me. I watched Mr. Bharadwaj. Bharadwaj smiled at me and frowned at Spock. He said something scolding in Hindi to Spock and left, pulling my door firmly closed.
“Your timing—.” I waved my hand at the tub. “I only get this once a week in the winter. In between is washing up at the sink with cold water.”
“I will leave you if you wish it,” he said quietly.
“You know I won’t make you go.”
We gazed at one another. His lips parted and his breath deepened. Heat suffused my body.
At least one thing had not changed between us.
He glanced over my shoulder. “Your bath is becoming cold.”
I turned and walked to the small sleeping platform that held my pallet and trunk. I unbuttoned my jacket and started to shrug out of it. I felt Spock’s hands pull it off my arms. I tugged my sweater and undershirt over my head. He slid his arms around my shoulders, cupped my breasts and pulled me back against him. He nuzzled my neck as I unbuttoned my jeans. I pushed my pants down and stepped out of them. Spock shoved his hand down the front of my panties and possessively thrust two fingers into my pussy. I gasped and fell back against him.
“Nyota,” he sighed.
“No.” I pushed him away. His fingers slipped from my body and left a wet trail across my hip. I walked toward the tub on weak knees and I could feel him close behind me. I stopped and took off my underwear. I was about to step into the tub but he grabbed my arm and spun me around. I’d forgotten the strength in those warm hands. His fingers dug into my biceps. He pulled me roughly to him and held me like I was trying to get away. Tears spilled from my eyes. He relaxed his hold on me but didn’t let me go.
“Why can’t you just leave me alone?” I pleaded.
He shook me gently, like he was deciding whether or not to push me away. “I thought you were in America,” he said.
“I’m here working. You can’t just fuck me and make everything ok, Spock.” I yanked away from him, took off my panties and got into the tub. I sighed and closed my eyes as the hot water enveloped me. I slid down until my head was submerged. I opened my eyes under the water and saw him standing over the tub. I surfaced and looked at him with eyes that I was sure were red. I pinched water out of my nose. “I’ve got eight hours off, then I have to go back to the hospital and translate twenty different dialects for a bunch of asshole English surgeons. I want to take my bath, eat my food and sleep for a few hours. You can stay or you can go. I don’t care.” Oh, god! That was a lie.
I reached for the shampoo. I squirted some into my hand and rubbed it into my head and down the length of my hair. I ducked under the water again, rinsing out most of the shampoo. The suds floated around me and clung to the ends of my hair. I looked at Spock. He took off his coat, sat in one of my bistro chairs and held his coat folded in his lap.
We stared at each other through the tendrils of steam that rose from my bath. It was so good to see him. I felt like someone given food who didn’t know that they were starving. I felt my muscles finally begin to relax and my eyes drifted shut.
I opened my eyes with a start.
“Finish your bath, eat your food and go to bed. What time do you have to be back at the hospital?”
“What time do you wish me to wake you?”
I shifted my head on the edge of the tub to get a better look at him. “What are you doing here?” I asked.
He didn’t answer. I sighed and stood and scrubbed myself all over with a coarse cloth and Mrs. Bharadwaj’s oily brown homemade sandalwood soap. I started rinsing the residual shampoo out of my hair and the soap off my body with bowlfuls of water from the bucket next to the tub. The tepid water felt good on my skin. I reached down to get more water and felt Spock take the bowl from my hand.
I stood with my head down as he poured bowl after bowl of water over my head. Even standing in the bathtub, the top of my head barely came to his chin. I was reminded of the first time I saw him on the Enterprise. Our eyes were level until I stepped off the transporter pad.
“I recall of the first time I saw you on the Enterprise,” he said softly. “You were so small. Like a child. Before I recognized you, my first thought was that there must be some mistake.” He rubbed his hand down my arm and watched the streams of water run over his fingers.
He used to lay his hand against my skin, marveling at the contrast between our colors. At some point during our lovemaking, he would sometimes position us so that he could see his cock gliding in and out of my pussy. The sight of his pale flesh cleaving my dark body never ceased to fascinate him. I remembered the sound of his loud moans in the moon lit darkness of our San Francisco flat.
I swayed with fatigue. “Spock, I’ve got to lie down.” I reached for the flannel towel but he took it from my fingers.
“Allow me to…take care of you,” he said.
“I can take care of myself,” I said but I didn’t resist when he wrapped the towel around me and helped me out of the tub. I leaned my forehead against his shoulder. His familiar scent engulfed me: chai, new pennies and fresh tobacco leaves. I breathed deeply. How could I have ever thought about running away from this man? I loved him. I love him.
He rubbed my body all over, lifting my arms, kneeling to dry the cleft between my legs and buttocks, pressing his fingers against my hip to turn me around. He shook out the towel and wrapped it around my wet hair. He led me to the sleeping platform and sat me on the edge of my pallet. He unwrapped my hair, gently combed it out and fixed it in one braid, performing this simple task with the same focus and concentration with which he conducted experiments in his lab. I clutched one his hands to my chest and watched his beautiful face as he pulled the up the quilts and tucked them under my chin. His skin was as firm and unlined as it was fifty years ago when he and Jim leapt through the Guardian of Forever.
“Jim is dead, Spock.”
He closed his eyes and turned his face away. They had not spoken for twenty years. “I thought—I did not sense his passing. When?”
“Last winter, at the ranch in Montana. Eighty-four years old and he rode off into a snow storm to check on the herd. He never came back. They never found his body.”
“He’s still in San Francisco, practicing half time at San Francisco General, the other half at a free clinic. I went to see him last year on his birthday.”
“He is well?”
“He has to lie about his age. They think he’s sixty-five.”
“He will live long.”
“I just wish he had someone besides me—us.” I gripped his fingers more tightly. He didn’t pull away. “I think Jim was happy, finally. His granddaughter wrote to me. She’s getting married. To an Iowa farm boy named Sam Kirk. Can you imagine?”
Spock frowned. “You have your tricorder?”
“Yes. It’s in my trunk.”
He moved to rise. I held on to him. He stroked his hand down my arm.
“Nyota, you now have five point three hours before you must leave for work. I have a theory that I will need to explore using your tricorder. I will wake you at seven o’clock.”
He turned back. His hair cascaded forward and brushed against my cheek. I reached up and tucked it behind his ear.
“Make love to me first,” I said.
“You are not overtired?”
“Not for this.”
“You are still angry with me.”
“I’m still angry.”
He raised a brow and my heart broke. He stood and pulled his sweater over his head. I curled on my side and watched him undress, the way I’d done so many times before.
His shoulders were broader and his chest was heavier and more defined. His stomach knotted with muscle when he bent to remove his boots and socks. When he removed his pants, I saw that his long legs had also gained bulk and definition. He glanced down at himself.
“My time at the monastery required much more physical activity than my duties at the University,” he said.
“What’d they have you do? Move boulders?”
“Actually, that was one of my tasks. I am eighty-seven years old and fully matured. My muscle mass would have begun to increase at any rate.”
“You look very healthy.”
“The monks have…quiet minds.” He lifted the covers and slid in beside me.
“I’m glad you found it peaceful.”
“It was a peaceful place, but after a time, I knew I would not find peace for myself there,” he said.
He settled his fingertips along the side of my face but avoided my contact points. The hot length of his cock pressed against my stomach. He stared into my eyes.
“Will you allow me to stay, Nyota?”
I opened my mouth to tell him something like, it wasn’t that easy or that he couldn’t just waltz back into my life; then, I realized that it was that easy. He was not like other men who did not value what took no effort to gain. He knew he had no less than my total devotion and that that had not changed.
He had once whispered in my ear with utter conviction, “You belong to me.”
End Chapter 1
Spock’s hot mouth and hands were everywhere on my body, kneading my breasts and suckling greedily at my nipples as if he had no time to waste on the tenderness which I’d come to expect from him. He was rough and hungry and barely waited for any response from me as he moved down my body. He knelt and slid his hands under my buttocks, lifting me to his mouth to lick my vagina, pull my clit hard between his lips and plunge his tongue into me again and again. I knew I would find bruises, scratches and suck marks and the imprint of his teeth on my skin. We both cried out when he drove his cock into me. I came wildly, thrashing and bucking but he held himself immobile, body rigid and trembling, his lower lip clenched between his teeth. His dark eyes watched me until my orgasm subsided.
“I can feel you come,” he said hoarsely. He began to pump slowly in and out of my pussy, breathing deeply through his nose.
“Ah. God, Spock,” I gasped.
He moaned my name and buried his face in my neck. His thrusts grew harder and faster until the hot friction of his cock pistoning in and out of me was almost painful. He slammed his hips against my pelvis a final time and came with a long, low growl. It was a sound I’d never heard from him before and it sent me over the edge again.
Our breathing was loud and we clung to each other in the tangled quilts. After several minutes, he rolled over with me in his arms and pulled the covers around us. I lay my head on his chest and curled my body against his. I could feel the triphammer beat of his heart between my breasts. As my breathing returned to normal, I felt myself begin to relax into sleep. I felt his lips brush the top of my head.
Later, he woke me, watched me dress and walked me to the clinic.
Our love affair, if it can be called that, began on the ship. When I materialized on the transporter pad and saw him, everything that I’d experienced up to that point faded to nothing, and this man, this new thing, took over. His long body was straight and still as he gazed at me. Our eyes were level and his pupils first dilated then constricted then dilated again. I stepped off the pad, identified myself and requested permission to come aboard.
Our off-duty relationship was tense and chaste, comprised of shared glances and accidental touches, lyre lessons and passionate duets performed in rooms full of people. McCoy figured it out and counseled me gently but without addressing it directly, to be careful. I balked and pretended to misunderstand and he backed away with his hands up. Later he told me that he tried the same with Spock and for the first time, he left Spock’s company feeling a little afraid for his life.
After Spock and the captain jumped through the Guardian, Scotty, Gallway, Jones and I waited weeks on Anachron Prime—our name for the planet--for their return. We repeatedly asked the Guardian when our friends would be returned but the Guardian remained silent, only repeating images of history. We made the decision to disregard the captain’s orders and jump through together but my boot caught on a stone, my hand slipped from Scotty’s, and five seconds and nearly five decades passed. I landed in San Francisco in 1975.
McCoy found me almost immediately in the ER at San Francisco General. I was dazed and bleeding from my fall on the other side of the Guardian and a mute homeless man led me to the hospital. I lay on a gurney and struggled with a nurse who was trying to take my tricorder away. Had she not inadvertently pushed the scan button activating its familiar whirring sound, McCoy would have passed by and not torn aside the partition that surrounded my bed. His face was craggy with wrinkles and his dark hair was shot through with silver, but I knew those eyes anywhere. At almost ninety years old, his body was straight and his arms were wiry and strong when he held me. We both sobbed with joy. He took me back to the duplex he shared with Spock.
On the way, Dr. McCoy filled me in on what happened to them when they landed in Brooklyn in 1930.
New York 1930-1942
They allowed Edith Keeler to die in a street accident, but the Guardian portal did not reopen. They hung around the 21st Street mission and their rooming house for several days until it became clear that it would be impossible to remain there and not interfere with the lives around them, and therefore interfere with the timeline. They were reluctant to leave the place where they believed the portal was located, but as first days, then weeks passed, it became more and more difficult to believe that the portal would ever reappear.
For a long time, they thought it best to remain together, to live as unobtrusively as possible and to wait for the portal to reopen. The Guardian told them before they went through that they would be returned as soon as Time resumed its shape. McCoy theorized that they might have interpreted the Guardian too literally. With the death of Edith Keeler, there was no large pacifist movement to influence President Roosevelt; perhaps the portal would open in 1936 when Keeler and Roosevelt were to have met. 1936 came and went, the major events of history were not altered as far as they could see; and still, the portal did not open. Jim began to believe that Edith Keeler may not have been their focal point in time and that perhaps they should not have allowed her to die. It was the beginning of the rift between Spock and Jim.
By then, they were scratching out a living after taking over an abandoned apple orchard and cider press in rural upstate New York and selling their product at a roadside stand. As it was in Brooklyn, it was impossible not to bump up against other lives, even as isolated as they were. Spock kept careful records of everyone with whom they interacted, but according to the images on the makeshift computer he constructed, none of their actions changed history as it was recorded by the Guardian. History marched inexorably forward, and on December 8, 1941, the United States entered World War II. Still, the portal did not open.
Their disagreement on the death of Edith Keeler flared again. In addition, McCoy wanted to be a doctor, not an apple farmer. Kirk forbade it. How could McCoy practice medicine, save lives that perhaps shouldn’t be saved? McCoy argued that whether they lived big or small, their being in this time seemed to have no effect on history. Spock did not disagree with him.
Without telling the others, McCoy took the medical boards, got licensed to practice in the state of New York and took over the patients of the ailing physician who served the farm families near them. It was the first time he’d ever disobeyed a direct order.
In the end, it was Jim who left. He moved to Montana and worked his way from ranch hand to ranch owner. He married and had three children and eight grandchildren before he disappeared into the flying snow in 1980.
McCoy refused to leave Spock, grumbling that Spock needed someone who understood Vulcan physiology in case of emergencies. They moved to North Carolina where the winters were mild, and where Spock entered Duke University to receive his doctorate in analytical mathematics. McCoy obtained privileges at the University Hospital and grew a small private practice specializing in pediatric oncology. As time went on, McCoy gained notoriety for his work in cancer research and in the late forties, Spock published several articles on computability theory and Turing degree. Spock was invited to Stanford University in Palo Alto California for his post-doctoral work and as fate would have it, McCoy was invited to do research at University of California, San Francisco Hospital. They moved to San Francisco in 1952 and purchased a Victorian duplex in the Mission Dolores district.
Their contact with Jim dwindled to holiday cards, baby announcements and the occasional phone call. McCoy did visit in the late sixties when Jim contacted him after his wife was diagnosed with cancer, but it was too late for Bones to do anything for her.
Now, Spock taught Mathematical Logic at Stanford and worked as a consultant for a fledgling company that developed integrated circuits for computers. McCoy was chief of Hematology/Oncology at San Francisco General Hospital. Spock traveled a lot with his work, but he and McCoy remained close and ate dinner at one another’s flats almost every evening when Spock was home. Spock constructed a duotronic computer in their basement and still worked to find a focal point in time that would lead them to the Guardian portal. Once the first communications satellites were launched, Spock hijacked a frequency, got their communicators working again and sent one of the two they had to Jim. They used them only once to test the frequency
Spock and McCoy lived like this, two bachelors, content, and after a fashion, happy.
San Francisco September 8, 1975
Dr. McCoy stitched the cut on my forehead, made me drink a little of a lukewarm beverage that tasted like salty, watered down orange juice, then tucked me into his own big bed. “No guest room for you, young lady. You’re sleeping with me where I can keep an eye on you.” He left a note in Spock’s upstairs flat, came back down and watched over me while I slept.
I awakened much later—eighteen hours—and opened my eyes to Spock sitting in the armchair next to the bed. Except for a ragged hairstyle that covered his eyebrows and ears, Spock looked the same. Dr. McCoy leaned against the doorjamb with a mug of coffee.
“Hey, dollface,” McCoy said quietly.
Spock reached out and brushed the hair from my face. “Sleeping Beauty awakens,” he murmured.
I stared into his dark eyes. My relief was so profound that it sapped the energy from my limbs.
The doctor came into the room and poured me a glass of water from the carafe on the bedside table. “You’ve been out for quite a while. We slept next to you in shifts and you didn’t move a muscle until about an hour ago. How do you feel? You feel nauseous or dizzy?”
I gratefully accepted the glass of water and had to swallow a few gulps before I could speak. “No. I feel pretty good, just stiff. A little groggy, maybe,” I said.
McCoy nodded. “You slept for so long, I was beginning to think you had more than just a mild concussion after all.” He sat next to me and gently probed my wound. “That still hurt?” he asked.
“Not really. Have you guys been watching me sleep all this time?”
“Yep.” McCoy took a penlight out of his shirt pocket. “Let me just check you out, then I’ll get you something to eat. You’re awfully skinny.”
“Can I go to the bathroom first? Wash up a little?” I asked.
“Go pee then come back. I want to make sure you’re not going to pass out and drown in the bathtub or anything.”
“Thanks.” I hurried out of the room.
“If you’re not back in five minutes, I’m coming in after you,” called McCoy.
I closed the bathroom door and leaned against it with my palm pressed to my mouth. The awful finality of our situation hit me. Dr. McCoy was an old man. As a Vulcan, Spock was in his prime, but still fifty years older. The captain had married and had a large extended family in Montana. Scotty, Galloway, and Jones were gone or were just as lost as I would’ve been had I not had the incredible luck to land in McCoy’s lap.
Despite the doctor’s warning, I took a moment to splash water on my face and rinse my mouth. I looked into the mirror. He was right. I was gaunt from the weeks of eating lichens and bitter mushrooms while we waited for them to come back through the portal on acrid Anachron Prime. My hair was thin and dry. I lifted the hem of the oversize tee shirt I wore and saw the prominence of my collarbones and ribs. Even my breasts had deflated. My gums were swollen. I hadn’t bathed in weeks. Sleeping Beauty?
I heard a tap on the door and then Spock’s voice.
“Lieutenant Uhura, are you unwell?”
Lieutenant Uhura. I would never be her again. A wave of complete desolation washed over me and threatened to tumble me under. I drew in a shuddering breath, pulled down my shirt and opened the door. Spock looked down at me and my grief was mirrored in his eyes. I clapped my hands over my face, sank to my knees and cried in great, gasping wails like a child. Spock gathered me in his arms. A few moments later, I felt a hand stroke my hair and then come to rest on the back of my neck.
“Spock, I want to go home,” said Dr. McCoy.
We huddled like this in the hallway, clinging to each other, all the family we had in the universe.
End Chapter 2
San Francisco, 1975
After a long bath with Dr. McCoy insisting on sitting in the bathroom with me, he and I sat at the table in the breakfast nook while Spock moved silently about the kitchen preparing a vegetable soup for our dinner. McCoy kept glancing over at him with a troubled look in his eyes. When Spock went upstairs to his flat to get a favored spice, I asked the doctor what was wrong.
“I’ve never seen Spock scared before,” he said.
Fifty years passed and their situation had become a dream, even to Spock. My presence brought back the devastating reality. The Enterprise had not winked back into existence in orbit around the Guardian’s planet. We couldn’t get home. Forever was real.
When Spock returned to the kitchen, McCoy casually picked up his story.
“And what do I find when I get home? Those two knuckleheads ripping around the orchard on that stupid motorcycle—without helmets! It was 1934.” He spread his hands. “There were no trauma centers. There wasn’t even a goddamn hospital within a twenty-mile radius. And even if there was one nearby, they wouldn’t have any green blood just lying around. I wanted to kill them.”
“Leonard, I fail to see the logic in your wanting to kill us if you were afraid that we would be killed.” Spock opened the oven and pulled out loaves of flat bread.
McCoy’s shoulders relaxed a bit. “You could have wrapped your dumb asses around a tree,” he grumbled. “You two drove me nuts with your daredevil stunts. Remind me to tell you about the time Jim broke his stupid wrist jumping off the roof of the cider house and those two idiots tried to hide it from me. Get that other oven mitt out of the drawer.”
Spock dutifully retrieved a second pot holder and set the pan on the countertop.
Dr. McCoy only allowed me to eat about a half cup of the soup. “You can eat every couple of hours, but only a little at a time until we get you back up to speed. I don’t want to have to untangle your small bowel,” he said.
After dinner, I sat and listened to their fond bickering. I started to cry again but this time they made no move to comfort me. Dr. McCoy sent me to back bed. I was suddenly wide awake when my head hit the pillow, so I wrapped myself in a blanket and went into the living room where they were playing chess. I curled up at the end of the couch and watched them play until I slept. I woke briefly when Spock laid me on the bed. When he turned to leave, I clutched at his sleeve. He settled beside me and gently stroked my back until I fell asleep again.
For several nights, I was wrenched awake by nerve-shattering nightmares and always, one of them was there, usually Spock, to hold me and soothe me back to sleep. McCoy sometimes sang lullabies. Spock cancelled all of his out-of-town trips for the next several weeks and the doctor restructured his schedule so that there was always one of them home with me. After a couple of nights in a row with no nightmares, Dr. McCoy allowed me to move into his guest room.
One day, I came in from getting some sun in the backyard and saw McCoy talking on the telephone. He grinned at me and held out the receiver.
“Somebody wants to talk to you,” he said.
I took the phone and held it to my ear. “Hello?”
“Status report, Lieutenant,” said a familiar voice.
“It’s Jim to you. That’s an order, mister.”
“Oh my god! Capt—Jim! It’s so good to hear your voice!” I started crying. “I’m sorry, Sir--Jim. I can’t seem to stop doing that,” I said.
“It’s ok Nyota. I cried every day for a year,” he said warmly.
Dr. McCoy brought a chair for me and I talked and laughed with Jim for nearly an hour. McCoy came over with a box of photographs and showed me pictures of each child and grandchild as Jim described them. His late wife was taller than he, with long thick black hair, a square jaw and laughing eyes. Last Christmas’s picture showed a beaming Jim with three dogs and his grandchildren all around him. Though his hair had turned totally silver, his face was barely wrinkled and his complexion bright with vigor. He looked happy.
Jim was silent for a long moment when I told him about Scotty and the others. He changed the subject.
“I’m looking at some livestock in San Joaquin next month, so I’ll be out your way. Mind if I stop by for a night?”
I started blubbering again. “Oh yes, yes. Please. I’d love to see you,” I cried. Then, I thought about Spock. “I mean if--.”
“Don’t worry about anything. I’m coming to see you, sweetheart. It’ll be fine. We’ll ditch Bones and go get a buffalo burger and gravy fries at Tommy’s Joynt.”
I laughed. “It’s a date.”
He was quiet again.
“Are you still there?” I asked.
“Yes, I’m still here. But I’ve got to go now. I’ll see you soon.” He paused. “I love you, Nyota,” he said.
The connection broke softly in my ear.
I looked at Dr. McCoy with wide eyes. “I think he said…” I looked at the receiver that I still held in my hand. “He said—“
“I love you, Nyota?”
“How did you know?”
“I’m old but there’s nothing wrong with my hearing. Unlike Jim, who shouts into the phone.” He waved a hand. “I heard him when I came back in. But anyway, that’s old news.”
“What do you mean, ‘old news’?”
“It was love at first sight, honey,” he answered, smiling gently. His blue eyes were bright when they drifted from mine. He cleared his throat. “Ancient history. Or future history, if there’s such a thing.” He carded his fingers through the photos in the box in his lap.
I gazed at the side of his face. The wavy hair at his temples was steel gray, but his long lashes were still dark. He was staring at the floor with a sad smile. The dimple in his cheek was nearly overlapped with wrinkles. I stood and went to him and ran my hand over his hair. He leaned against me and I wrapped my arms around him.
“So much is gone, Nyota.” He looked up at me. “But you’re still young. You and Spock. The two of you could have something.”
I stroked his cheek with my thumb. I knew it’d be stupid to deny how I felt about Spock. “I can’t make him love me just because we’re…here.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure about that, gorgeous.” He gave me a reassuring pat and stood. “I’ll make you a sandwich. Sandwiches always taste better when someone else makes ‘em for you.” He kissed me on the forehead and went to put the box of photos away.
After Dr. McCoy left for the hospital, I went down to the basement to mess around with Spock’s computer. He had downloaded all the information from his tricorder into the computer’s hard drive. This included all the historical information recorded from the portal before their leap through the Guardian and stubs from the Enterprise’s library. Spock had added information to the stubs from his own memory, as did Dr. McCoy—ensuring that this computer had the most advanced and comprehensive database on the planet, especially in the areas of medicine, psychology and the hard sciences, for all the good it would do us or the rest of the world. Spock had access to the university’s crude internet and had hacked the NSA, CIA, FBI, IRS, NORAD and the Secret Service. These were filtered through the history stubs so Spock would be alerted whenever events incongruous to the known timeline occurred. So far, there was nothing.
As much as I mourned the loss of our time, I was intensely curious about this time. I browsed the history files and read about events that were happening now.
After successful ‘preferential breeding’ experiments in the Sixties, the Eugenics movement was gathering steam in South Africa, parts of the Northwestern United States and in China. The first deaths of curiously immune-deficient young people from rare skin cancers, run-of-the-mill infections and pneumococcal pneumonia were getting some notice from doctors in France and in San Francisco. In the Middle East, talk in the private chambers of the kings was less about oil futures and more about religious fundamentalism and ancient tribal territories. And in America, a propaganda machine masquerading as a religious talk show grew in popularity and swindled the hard-earned money of poor people and the elderly by telling them their donations went to church and charity, when it actually went to a right-wing political party.
The world was gathering fuel for the conflagration that would burn away one hundred and seventy million lives throughout the nineteen nineties.
I wondered how they could not intervene. McCoy saved lives every day and influenced the direction of cancer research in his labs, and Spock influenced computer development with his hardware engineering. Why couldn’t they try to do something to stop the eugenics trend or the spread of HIV? They had to be altering the timeline each time they stepped out of the house.
But, assuming the history stubs included the lives that they were living now, none of their actions, except that of allowing Edith Keeler to die, affected the timeline as we knew it in our old future. Why then, did the portal not re-open?
Spock and McCoy were at a loss to explain it.
When I asked, McCoy threw up a hand. “I never could understand the temporal causality paradox, no matter how patiently Spock explained it. If I fucked up history and erased the Enterprise and Starfleet and everything else, how is it that we didn’t cease to exist?”
“You were not at fault, Leonard. It was an accident that could not have been avoided,” said Spock.
“Spock’s right,” I said. “We were getting buffeted by waves of time. This is just so weird. How did all that history that never happened stay in the tricorder? How do we know that the Guardian didn’t reach up and smack us and make this happen? We were the only ship to detect those bizarre energy readings from more than a parsec away. As a matter of fact, we had mapped all of the spatial distortions until the one that caused Leonard’s accident appeared. We didn’t have time to navigate around it.”
Spock looked at me sharply.
“What is it Spock?” I asked.
“I am not certain. You may have given voice to a theory that I had not yet fully formulated.”
“That all of this is the Guardian’s doing and not our actions altering the timeline?” asked McCoy.
“That may explain why nothing we have done, except allow the death of Edith Keeler, seems to have altered the timeline or opened the portal.”
“Well, what the fuck does it want?” yelled McCoy.
“That my friend, is the question,” answered Spock.
I convalesced at Dr. McCoy’s flat for two weeks before I begged him to let me go out. He finally acquiesced. I had to promise to be home before dark. The great thing about San Francisco is that everything is within walking distance. I spent a couple of hours at the library and had a cup of tea at a coffee shop near City Hall. There were so many homeless people.
The next day, Spock took me shopping at Union Square and we bought items that I thought were wildly expensive for casual clothes. Apparently, if a pair of blue jeans or a tee shirt had a fashion designer’s name on them, they were more desirable. Spock paid for it all without a second thought. I got a haircut and a manicure and I started to feel more like myself again. I wanted to go back to work.
Spock had secured a birth certificate and something called a ‘social security number’ for me. My new name was Lily Ander. I had a hard time getting used to it.
The three of us sat in front of the fireplace in Spock’s flat and drank dark ale and ate chocolate. The doctor played his guitar, casually fingering quietly through a complicated arrangement of ‘Blue Rondo a la Turk’.
“I like your new name,” Leonard said. “Makes you sound like some private eye’s secretary. A real tough broad.” He grinned and fired a finger gun at me. Then he frowned. “Why did everybody get good names except me?” he complained. “Jim gets ‘Allan Gentry’ and Spock gets ‘David Mountain Hawk’. What do I get? ‘Norman Lowell’. You all sound like movie stars. I sound like some schmuck who never gets laid,” he said--which was decidedly not true, and one of the reasons I moved into Spock’s guest room after about a month.
McCoy’s attachments were passionate but brief; even after fifty years, he still held out hope that we would be returned to our own time. He had always been fit for his age, even by 23rd century standards. By 20th century standards, he looked a very healthy sixty. Most women he took a fancy to didn’t stand a chance against that charming accent, that sharp wit and those blue eyes.
He pretended to be bewildered.
“I have no idea why those girls like me. Maybe it’s because I’m a doctor.”
“Uh huh,” I said.
He smiled at me with more than a trace of the old teasing seduction he used to bait me with on the ship. I blushed and covered my face with both hands. Spock raised a brow and sipped his ale.
“Don’t give me that look, Dr. Mountain Hawk.” He jerked a thumb at Spock. “Living with him is like living with a rock star sometimes, the way these science groupies behave. After they published his photo in Who’s Who, we got sacks of fan mail. We got college students riding by on their bicycles, staring at the house like junior high schoolers.”
“I assure you that I have done nothing to encourage such behavior,” said Spock.
“Except be beautiful, brilliant and mysterious,” I said.
“That and that old Aston Martin he drives like a maniac.” Dr. McCoy coughed softly and grinned into his beer. “Being rich doesn’t hurt, either,” he added.
I was astonished. “You’re rich?”
“We both are.”
“We both have a couple of patents—well, fourteen, no fifteen, between us. Did some wise investing. Bought a small vineyard in Napa that’s making some really good wine now.” McCoy shrugged. They seemed a little embarrassed.
“The platinum components for my duotronic circuits were surprisingly expensive. We then purchased this home. We are renovating the carriage house for you. And we needed sufficient funds to acquire the dietary supplements necessary for both my and Leonard’s health,” Spock said.
“And for Jim’s health, too. I send him a box every year. Just the roots from the Amazon cost thirty thousand dollars per expedition. Then there’s my lab equipment to process that stuff. We don’t have a replicator or anything.”
“I am building a protein re-sequencer,” said Spock.
“Yeah. That’s right, he is. It’s an early replicator.”
I raised a wry brow. “I know what a protein re-sequencer is. You don’t have to explain. I understand about money in this century.”
“We save some, spend some and give the rest away,” said McCoy.
“I believe you,” I said.
McCoy took another sip of his ale. “Besides, chicks dig it,” he said into his cup.
I burst out laughing. Spock raised an indulgent brow.
I slowly began to build a life as Lily Ander. Spock produced credentials and a resume for me and I got a job as an interpreter at the Pacific Stock Exchange. It was exciting and interesting for the first two weeks but I found myself chafing at taking orders from people who were far less qualified than I. I guess I’d gotten used to being Chief Communications Officer. I also had difficulty adjusting to the lack of discipline that most of my co-workers exhibited. When the Market closed at five o’clock, they were out of the door, whether they were finished with their work or not. I was appalled at the way people treated each other: the misogyny, the racism, the classism. This was not Starfleet. A supervisor from another unit groped me in the elevator. I decked him. I got fired.
It was for the best. With a new set of credentials, within a week, I landed a great job at UCSF translating ancient languages from scrolls, tablets and early texts. My colleagues were cerebral and disciplined academics, as I am, at heart.
End Chapter 3
San Francisco, 1975
Jim had arrived a day earlier than planned. He caught me up in a bear hug and spun me around. I showered his face with kisses while we both laughed and cried at the same time. Dr. McCoy finally intervened.
“Put her down, Jim! You had a bad back at thirty-three. Now that you’re eighty, it’s not any better, you damn fool.”
“Bones, I’m seventy-nine.”
“Whatever. You’re an old fart with a bum back.”
Jim and I walked arm-in-arm through the Presidio, gazing with nostalgia at the old military buildings that would become part of the future headquarters of Starfleet and the Academy, one hundred and ninety years from now.
We talked about my new job.
“Who knew you were a geek?” he teased.
“I still feel guilty for lying to them,” I said.
“You’re not lying. You did go to MIT. And you can translate Sumerian in your sleep.”
“Yeah.” I lowered my eyes.
He pointed to a row of barracks. “I fell in love with a girl named Ruth right over there. We were nineteen years old.”
“What happened to her?”
“She wanted me on Earth; I was crazy to get into space. She said she’d wait and I realized that I didn’t want a woman who’d do that.”
I stepped off the walkway and walked a few yards into the grass. I stopped and spread my arms. “I saw Spock for the first time right here when I was a cadet. I was playing football and went out for a pass that he caught. He plucked it right out of the air as casually as you would pick a piece of fruit.”
“Those Vulcan reflexes.” Jim grinned.
“It was a warm day but he was bundled up in a thick sweater like Paddington Bear. The wind blew his bangs and his lips were so pink. He was beautiful.” My eyes blurred with tears. “God, we were so young.”
He walked over and laid a hand on my cheek. His palm was dry and callused. I looked up at him and he gave me his lopsided grin. The color in his eyes had faded but they were still filled with warm light. The breeze fingered his forelock.
“You’re still young, Nyota. Both of you,” he said softly.
I caught his hand before he could draw it back.
“No, no. You don’t have to say it. I’m an old man. We say foolish things.”
He laughed and pulled me into his arms. He laid his cheek on the top of my head. “You sound like Spock when you say that.”
“Dr. McCoy--Leonard said the same thing to me once.”
“I knew you were in love with Spock on the ship.”
“It wasn’t obvious. I didn’t figure it out until too late.” He tightened his arms around me.
“Too late for what?”
“Me. Never mind. It doesn’t matter.”
I pulled back and studied his face. “What happened with you and Spock? No one’s really told me. I know about Edith Keeler but that’s about it.”
He watched a flock of geese honk by overhead. “I thought I’d lost everything.” He looked at me. “Everything. And I blamed Spock. And Bones. And myself. I couldn’t forgive any of us. Least of all, myself. Before Bones even went through, I was so seduced by the Guardian. If we’d left right away while Bones was still knocked out…” He shook his head.
“It wasn’t anybody’s fault, Jim.”
“I know. I knew that then, and you would think that the one thing that I should’ve learned from all this is how precious time is.” He waved a hand.
“They—we--love you so much.”
“I know you do kiddo. And Bones does. Spock?” He shrugged with one shoulder the way he always did. “I know he’s capable of love.” He glanced at me out the corner of his eye.
“Don’t let this go on, Jim. All we have is each other.”
“It’s not that easy. I have a family. How do I explain ‘Uncle Spock’? It might be different if my children and grandchildren had grown up knowing him. Now it’s too late. They’d never understand.”
“Did your wife know?”
“No. I came close to telling her so many times; but I’d buried it so deeply, that the more time passed, the more I came to believe that it was all a dream. I had to move on, Nyota. It was killing me.”
“Can you at least try to speak to him once in a while?”
He squeezed my fingers. “I’ll try. For you. I’ll try.”
We walked on. He didn’t let go of my hand.
“See that outbuilding?” I pointed to a dilapidated warehouse.
He nodded. “That became the Sloane Building.”
“Right. I struck a superior officer in there.”
“He wouldn’t take no for an answer. I had to put him on the deck.”
I laughed. “Spock told me to never tell you.”
“Spock? Why? Who was it, Nyota?” He was smiling curiously.
His smile faded. “That motherfucker.”
“That’s why Spock told me not to tell you,” I said, pointing to his face.
“I’ve wanted to clock that bastard for--. I swore if I ever saw him again--. Son of a bitch," he said, gritting his teeth. Then he started to chuckle. “You beat me to the punch, Nyota.”
“Actually, I flipped him.”
He threw back his head and laughed. “I don’t understand. How did Spock get involved?”
“He was there.” Embarrassed, I lowered my eyes. “I was actually looking for Spock. He had this gigantic bodyguard who I saw standing in front of the building, so I knew Spock was somewhere nearby. I went inside to find him and ran into Finnegan instead.” I shrugged. “I had no idea what I was going to say to him. Spock, I mean. I was scared to death.”
“Funny how things work out.” He reached out and brushed my cheek with two fingers. “Just don’t wait too long to do something about it.”
We stared into each other’s eyes.
“Thank you, Captain.”
He wrapped his arms around my waist and kissed me softly on the lips. He stroked my face and kissed my fingers and gazed into my eyes. We stood in the middle of the quad and held each other tightly until the sun sank behind the trees and the fog began to roll in from the bay.
Even though Spock was out of town, Jim stayed at a hotel. He left the next day without coming to see us again, saying his goodbyes on Leonard’s answering machine.
When Spock returned from his trip, he didn’t ask about Jim.
Jim called me only a few times after that, but he faithfully wrote me letters once a month, each one signed, “Forever, Jim.” We got photos at birthdays, Christmas and graduations. In one graduation head shot, the young man in the photo seemed bathed in gold light, his lion’s eyes smoldering, a lock of amber hair curled rakishly over his forehead, an almost-dimple tucked in one corner of his lopsided grin. The photo was inscribed, “Allan Gentry, III”.
San Francisco, 1976
Spock, Leonard and I built a peaceful routine of work, having meals together, gardening, evenings at the libraries at Stanford or UCSF, overseeing the carriage house renovations and spending weekends at their small vineyard.
Leonard was very affectionate and not at all bashful about displaying it physically with me. He was liberal with hugs and kisses and terms of endearment. It was not sexual—well, mostly not—and it felt good to be held when I really needed it. Though there was only the occasional pat on the back for Spock, McCoy sometimes called him ‘Slim’ or ‘kid’ or ‘Doc’, and once I overheard in a quiet conversation, ‘Spock-kam’. Spock’s affection for me was clear as well. He would stop whatever he was doing to give me his undivided attention. He made a lyre for me and we continued the lessons we’d begun on the ship. More than once I fell asleep with my head on his shoulder or my feet in his lap during our marathon conversations with Leonard in front of the fireplace. There was a definite mutual attraction. But six months after falling through the portal, I was still on emotional overload. He did not initiate a change in our relationship, and I was not going to make the first move.
More and more, Leonard would beg off on one pretense or another, leaving Spock and me alone weekends and evenings. In his letters to me, Jim made discreet inquires about my relationship with Spock. When my colleagues from other departments at the University found out that I was ‘just friends and housemates’ with the David Mountain Hawk, they fell all over themselves trying to get an introduction. “Oh my god, Lily! How can you live in the same house with him?” My secretary said with a wink, “I wouldn’t mind a romp with that Dr. Lowell either, if you’re asking.” So far, my relationship with Spock was just as pure as it was on the ship.
However, the subject of sex and relationships would come up again in a way that could not be ignored.
One evening, I trotted downstairs to retrieve a wire whisk that I’d left in Leonard’s kitchen. The flat was dark but for the flickering red-gold light from the fireplace in the living room. I heard a small sound coming from that direction, so I crept through the kitchen and peered into the dark room.
I said before that Leonard was in good shape even for a man half his age. It was a benefit of those good McCoy genes and 23rd century health practices. He still ran about twenty kilometers a week and often joined Spock in his yoga practice. I’d seen Leonard in his workout clothes but I haven’t seen him shirtless since he left the ship a much younger man. I thought he was attractive then, and I think he is now, at age ninety. But I was unprepared for the sight I encountered on the rug in front of the fireplace: Leonard, naked and fucking a woman.
His body was whip-thin but roped with muscle, his tanned skin sheened with sweat. He held himself above her like a man doing one-armed push-ups, and she arched and writhed beneath him as his hand worked between their bodies. One of her legs hooked around his waist and the other was pushed to her chest and folded over the arm that propped up his upper body. He stroked into her with long, strong thrusts, his hard buttocks clenching and unclenching. His scrotum was tight against his groin and I could see his cock shine with her juices as it glided in and out of her body. He watched her face intently as she first went rigid, then convulsed beneath him. I heard his low chuckle as he bent to capture her gasping mouth with his own.
It was likely the most erotic sight I had ever seen. Lust shot through my belly in a hot arrow. I backed away slowly, my heart pounding. I went back upstairs as Spock was coming through the door.
“Are you feeling well, Nyota?” he asked.
I brushed by him without answering and escaped into the bathroom. I leaned against the sink and raised a trembling hand to my throat, surprised by the strength of my reaction.
“Oh my,” I whispered. I barked out a laugh. “Holy shit.” I turned to the mirror over the sink. “That’ll teach you to knock first,” I said to my reflection. I had to fight back a fit of the giggles. I had to hold a cool cloth to my face. I exited the bathroom and reentered the kitchen. I realized that I never retrieved the wire whisk. My key lime meringue would have to wait. My head was spinning. I chopped salad with still-trembling fingers. It was a wonder that I didn’t lose a digit.
A half an hour later, Leonard came up from his flat. He looked very relaxed dressed in a pair of slim, bleach-stained jeans, a shapeless old cashmere sweater and rubber flip-flops. His hair looked like he’d combed it through with only his fingers. He gave me a lazy smile and spread his arms wide. In one hand he held a bottle of wine.
“Come with me and be my love/and we will all the pleasures prove,” he said.
“What?” I whispered.
“That Christopher Marlowe poem. I finally read all of it. The first two lines are the best part of the whole thing. The rest of it’s kinda sappy, if you ask me.” He opened a drawer and took out a wine tool. “This is the Picard pinot that I ordered. It came today,” he said. He held the bottle between his thighs and carefully pulled out the cork. He smiled at me with bright blue eyes.
I nodded. “Oh.” I struggled to keep my eyes from drifting to the considerable bulge in the front of his jeans. It looked…unrestrained.
“What’s for dinner?” he asked.
“There’s s-salad in the refrigerator.”
He shrugged. “I guess this’ll go with that.” He put the bottle on the countertop and reached into the cupboard above to get plates and glasses. His sweater hiked up and I caught a good long view of a sparse line of salt and pepper hair that trailed from his navel, down his flat abdomen, and disappeared into his jeans.
I looked up, startled. “Huh?”
“I asked you, where is Spock?” He shoveled salad unto his plate. “Damn! When I got home, I was too tired to eat. Now, I’m starving. Is he down in the workshop? You better call him. Fifty years and he won’t listen to me. I’m going to add some kidney beans to this. We could all use the protein. And some olive oil because a little fat wouldn’t hurt any of us either. Did I see fresh basil? Did I tell you about that thing I saw the other day? Want some wine?” He dumped the salad from his plate back into the bowl and added ingredients.
I was grateful that Leonard didn’t mind hearing himself talk. He poured our wine into straight water glasses, Italian style. When he leaned down to give me my glass, I could tell that he hadn’t showered after having sex. I drained half my wine in one gulp.
I walked to the intercom and pressed the send button. “Spock, dinner’s ready.”
“Very well,” he answered.
“See what I mean? He listens to you.” Leonard tucked into his salad. He told me about his day in between bites, stabbing the air with his fork. “Fourteen-year-old baby with terminal lung cancer from second-hand smoke. It just kills me. I wanted to take his folks outside and kick the shit out of them. I can’t even give him one of my secret stem cell cures because his fucked up parents waited too long to get him treatment. I actually wish I could put him through a transporter and sift out all those cancer cells. Poor kid. Hey Spock? Any chance of you building a transporter?”
Spock entered the kitchen and favored the doctor with an upraised brow. “Assuming I had one million, two hundred forty-six thousand, eight hundred twenty two beryllium nanoprocessors and a one inch square dilithium crystal, I would be able to construct one over the weekend; however, if I had possession of those materials, I would instead build a subspace transceiver and contact Vulcan to come to our rescue.” he said.
McCoy grinned and tossed a radish at him. “Smart ass.”
Spock caught the radish and I caught a glimpse of his pink tongue when he popped it into his mouth. His shaggy hair was held back with a plastic tortoise shell headband of the kind that a girl would wear. His heavy black fisherman’s sweater stretched across his shoulders and baggy gray sweatpants hung off his hips. I could see the outline of the thick ridge of his penis as he walked to the table. These two men obviously didn’t believe in wearing underwear all the time. I couldn’t believe I never noticed it before. I tore my eyes away and drained my glass. Leonard absently refilled it and his and poured some for Spock. I half-listened to their conversation and sat back to let the sound of Leonard’s warm drawl and Spock’s velvet baritone wash over me. I smelled McCoy’s after-sex musk and Spock’s dry spice.
My god. I was horny.
“You awake over there?” Leonard asked.
I blinked and straightened. “Yeah. Uh, just day dreaming.”
“You seem preoccupied this evening,” said Spock.
McCoy pointed his fork at me and gave me a sly smile. “I know what you need.” He glanced at Spock.
“No I don’t,” I said guiltily.
Spock raised an amused brow as he picked the green bell peppers out of his salad.
McCoy laughed. “You don’t even know what I was going to say. Spock, those are good for you.”
“I mean, what do I need?” I asked.
“Massage,” he finished.
“A Vulcan massage or surah’than, a neuro-pressure technique that is quite relaxing,” Spock explained. “Do you require muscle tension relief, Nyota?”
I frowned. “Do I look tense?” I snapped.
McCoy looked me over critically. “As a matter of fact, you do,” he said.
I forced myself to relax. “I’m fine.”
Leonard looked skeptical. Then he yawned. “I certainly wouldn’t mind one, but I don’t need it to get to sleep tonight.” He leaned back in his chair and stretched an arm over his head, grinning. He scratched under his sweater with his other hand, revealing that tantalizing trail of hair again. His eyes glittered at me from under heavy lids, like a just-fed cat’s watching a mouse cross the room: interested, but maybe too lazy to do anything about it just now. He dropped his arm and tilted his head to the side. “What’s the matter with you tonight?”
“Nothing.” I dragged my eyes from his. I had to keep reminding myself that this man was ninety years old. “Maybe I have a little headache from the wine.”
He sat forward. “That’s it. Let’s go, baby. Come on Spock. Leave the dishes. I’ve already got coals going. I’ll throw a log on ‘em.” He stood and beckoned to me. I opened my mouth to protest. “Shut up. Doctor’s orders.”
“You have your orders,” said Spock. “I still outrank you, Lieutenant,” he added.
We went downstairs and Leonard stoked up the fire while Spock piled pillows on the very spot where McCoy had sex earlier. The rug was gone.
“You guys,” I whined. They ignored me.
Leonard put on a Coltrane album and settled on the couch with another glass of wine. Spock instructed me to sit on the floor with my legs crossed. He pushed pillows into a pyramid in front of me and pressed me forward until I lay comfortably against them. He sat behind me with his legs folded beneath him. His warm fingers brushed my hair forward and away from my neck.
“Well, that‘s not going to work,” drawled the doctor.
I glanced back at him. He was lying on the couch holding his glass of wine balanced on his chest.
“You are correct, Leonard” said Spock. He grasped the hem of my sweater and tugged it up and over my head.
“Hey!” I clasped a pillow to my naked chest.
“Your sweater was impeding my access. Now please release the pillow so that we may begin.”
“You’re still too goddamn skinny,” mumbled McCoy. He was half asleep and examined me with one half-open eye.
I glared at Spock. “Ok, but no funny stuff.” That earned a sleepy snicker from the couch and a raised brow from the Vulcan.
I let go of the pillow and leaned against the pile. Spock rubbed his hands in an ever-widening circular motion from my lower back to my shoulders.
“You must try to relax, Nyota,” he murmured.
“I’m trying. This is a new experiment for me, Science Officer.” I heard another chuckle, this time from Spock. I gasped. “Did you just laugh, Spock?”
“I did not.”
“Oh! What a nice sound.” I was starting to feel really good.
“Please stop talking,” he said.
His hands continued their slow motion, sliding on my skin, around and around, his thumbs kneading my lower back, his fingers tracing the lines of my ribs and brushing against the sides of my breasts. He pressed his fingertips along the vertebra at the back of my neck and suddenly all the tension left my body. I flopped sideways with a low moan. He caught me in his arms and laid me gently on the pillows. My headache was gone.
“Oh my god. That was incredible.” I felt relaxed but curiously energized.
“The neuro-pressure releases endorphins. The effect is quite pleasant. There are other positions but that will suffice for now.” He picked up my sweater and handed it to me. I’d forgotten that my breasts were exposed.
“Oops. Sorry about that,” I said.
He gave a small shrug with one shoulder, very much the way that Jim did. I wondered who picked up the gesture from whom. I pulled my sweater over my head. There was a soft snore from the couch. Leonard was asleep. Spock reached back and gently removed the glass of wine from his hand. He leaned against the couch and took a sip from the glass before setting it next to him on the floor. He looked back at McCoy.
“I am debating whether to wake Leonard and send him to bed or to allow him to sleep the night on the sofa.”
“Leave him there. I’m sure he’s quite comfortable where he is,” I said wryly.
Spock reached up and tugged down the throw that was draped over the back of the couch and spread it over the doctor. McCoy didn’t stir. In sleep, the wrinkles in his face smoothed out and his dark lashes lay on his cheeks. As I gazed at him, an involuntary grin spread across my face. Spock drank from the glass again and looked at me curiously over the rim.
“I, uh…” I glanced at Leonard. He was deeply asleep. “I caught the doctor in a compromising position this evening.”
Spock looked momentarily confused then said, “Ah. I see.”
“Boy, did I get an eyeful. I knew he had lovers but I …you know. I only heard them before.”
Spock nodded. “We did not purchase this duplex solely for its investment value.” He gazed at McCoy. “I would not call him promiscuous, but he has never wanted for sexual partners. Women have always found him very appealing.”
“He was so mysterious about his personal life on the ship, I just thought…”
He looked surprised. “Mysterious? Interesting.”
“Mysterious, perhaps. Discreet is more accurate.” He raised a brow. “Anything else, you will have to discuss directly with Leonard.”
“Wow. I had no idea.” I looked at the sleeping doctor with bemusement. “What about you, Spock?”
“I had no romantic attachments on the ship.”
“I wasn’t talking about the ship. You’ve been here for forty-six years. Have you had any ‘romantic attachments’ here?”
His eyes drifted from mine and he gazed into the fire. He was quiet for a very long time.
“I’m sorry Spock. It’s none of my business.”
“It is not necessary to apologize, Nyota. I would very much like to discuss this with you.” He glanced back at McCoy. “Come. We will retire to our flat so that we do not disturb Leonard.”
Spock banked the fire and put up the fire screen while I went to lock the front door. When I returned, Spock was tucking the blanket more securely around McCoy. Leonard had carelessly kicked off his flip-flops, so Spock lined them up neatly at the head of the couch where the doctor wouldn’t trip on them when he awakened.
“You care for him a great deal,” I whispered.
Spock’s reply was simple: “He is my family.”
End Chapter 4
May 12, 1976
In spite of the cool night, we sat in the porch swing on the upstairs deck and huddled under a Mexican blanket. The bright moon blotted out most of the stars and the wind blew through the trees in the big back yard, bringing to us the scent of lemons, cut grass and camellias. I leaned against Spock for his warmth and after a moment, he put his arm around me and pulled me close. The moonlight shone like quicksilver in his hair. His heart beat against my arm. We looked at the moon and listened to the wind rattle the palm fronds in the neighbor’s yard.
“I…had one who was my wife,” he said.
I forced myself to remain relaxed in his arms and to breathe. “You’re married?” I asked.
“Back in our time. Before the Guardian.”
I searched my memory. Spock had only received the occasional personal communication from his mother, none from friends nor other relatives. Various institutions, publications, and other scientists sent requests and questions regularly but always through official channels. He never received anything from anyone who identified herself as his wife. I moved to pull away but he tightened his arm around my shoulders.
“Please. Allow me to explain.” His voice was very quiet.
“I just want to see your face,” I said.
“We were betrothed as children, by our parents’ arrangement…” He proceeded to tell me about T’Pring, Vulcan bonding and haltingly, reluctantly, about pon farr.
“Every seven years?”
“But you said that the blood fever--?”
“The plak tow.”
“You said that the plak tow would kill you if you didn’t have a mate.”
“The onset of my first pon farr occurred eighteen months after we leapt through the Guardian. It was premature and less acute, perhaps due to my half-human physiology. Obviously I did not die, but I was quite ill for weeks after.”
“So, approximately every seven years for forty five years. That’s six times. How did you survive without a mate?” I paused. “I mean, I assume you didn’t have a mate.”
“I did not.” He looked into my face then looked away. “Leonard theorized that the rigid, deeply embedded psycho-cultural construct of pon farr created a psychosomatic reaction to the plak tow that was deadly. He determined that the pathology of the fever, while dramatic, was not enough to cause death. This was at least true for me, a half-human. I was dying from a tradition.” He bowed his head. “I would have died of shame, a most useless and destructive emotion.” He inhaled and straightened. “But Dr. McCoy is an excellent clinician and a skilled psychologist. He is also a wise man. We began a meditative and therapeutic process that served to alleviate the psychologically traumatic effects of pon farr.”
He shifted my weight in his arms. He cleared his throat. “I endured a subsequent cycle but was still very ill after. It was as I approached my third pon farr that Leonard theorized that hormone therapy might lessen the worst of the symptoms. Comparing blood taken during my last pon farr, we discovered that certain hormones were at dangerously high levels. Blocking their overproduction and or heightening the levels of other hormones would likely mitigate the metabolic chaos brought on by the plak tow.”
“Did it work?”
“Unfortunately, we did not have the means to manufacture the hormones to test our theory.” He released me and stood stiffly, with his hands behind his back. He looked like he was giving a science report to the captain. “One evening, Leonard came home, poured two glasses of champagne, raised his glass and said, ‘Antibodies’.”
“He believed that I could ‘inoculate’ myself against the plak tow using my own hormones.”
“Your own hormones?”
“Hormones produced by engaging in occasional, well-timed sexual activity.”
“Occasional, well-timed sexual activity. Is that what you kids are calling it these days?”
He frowned, perplexed. I nudged him with my foot.
“Spock, I’m kidding.”
“I’m sorry. I’m not making fun of you. A prescription for sex? It’s just that it seems like such a simple solution.”
“The solution to our returning home is to build a subspace transceiver and transmit a message to Vulcan,” he said.
“The solution was simple, the process difficult. I understand.”
“Do you, Nyota?” He turned his back and walked to the deck railing.
“Hey, don’t get mad at me.”
“You cannot know how difficult it was to undo a lifetime of conditioning. This was the core of my being. This is the Vulcan heart and the Vulcan soul. The one thing that assured me that I was Vulcan. To lose that would be to lose myself. No human could ever understand what that means.”
“No, Spock. It’s you who don’t understand. Losing yourself? I can know what that means.” I walked over to him and turned his face to mine.
“We watched you and Jim jump through the Guardian, then waited and waited and had endless debates about how much more waiting to do. Should one of us go through, or all of us go through? And if each of us takes a turn, how long to wait for the next one to take a turn?”
“The planet was horrible. Hardly any food. There were terrible electrical storms and sand fleas the size of my thumbnail. It was unbearably hot during the day and freezing at night. We used our phasers to heat rocks until they steamed just so we could get a few ounces of water, with the power levels in our phasers diminishing everyday. Galloway and Scotty nearly killed each other fighting over me."
“When I tripped and fell and saw them go through without me, I only had an instant to decide what to do. I didn’t know where or when I would land. What if I landed in the American South during the time of slavery? Or Darfur during the first decade of the 21st century? You went through the portal with Jim, and the two of you found Leonard. You were never lost.” He ducked his head and tried to look away but I held his face in my hands. “But wherever or whenever I landed, I would be alone and I would die anyway. That, Spock, is losing yourself. I think I’m qualified to joke about your having to make a decision about whether or not to have sex.”
“Forgive me, Nyota. It seems that self-pity is not just a human emotion.”
I put my arms around his waist. “Even after Leonard rescued me from the hospital, I thought I was dreaming until I woke up and saw you. Then I knew that I wasn’t lost either.” I stood on my toes and kissed him on the mouth. When I pulled back, he touched two fingers to my lower lip.
I smiled and hugged him again. “Let’s go to bed,” I said.
“Nyota, I did not tell you this so that you would have sex with me.”
I looked up at him and raised an eyebrow. “I guess cockiness isn’t just a human emotion either.” I poked him in the belly and walked away. “It’s late and I have to work in the morning.”
“I only thought--. My apologies.”
“Right.” I laughed then stopped at the French doors. “Not that it wouldn’t be nice. Very nice.” I continued on without looking back.
Two days later, McCoy and I stood in the kitchen drinking coffee. I was on my way to work and Leonard was just getting in from…somewhere. He yawned hugely and then grinned at me with those eyes that still had the power to make me blush.
I looked him over. “Why are you drinking coffee right before you go to bed?” I asked.
He waved his mug. “This is nothing. Right now, it’d take a whole pot to keep me from crashing. I just want to spend a few minutes with you, baby love.” His dimples deepened. He leaned his hip against the counter. He had something on his mind.
“What is it?” I asked.
“Oh, I don’t know.” He chuckled.
“My guess is that you know about our conversation.”
He laughed. “He told me what you said.”
“I’m not so sure it’s a laughing matter, Leonard.”
“It isn’t. It’s just that it took you one conversation to accomplish what I couldn’t in fifty years.”
“Get Spock to admit to self-pity. That was the biggest hurdle and one we hadn’t jumped in his pon farr therapy. That and pride.”
“Well, self-pity and pride go hand in hand and he’s very human in that respect,” I said. “Besides, I couldn’t make him go anywhere you hadn’t already had him primed to go. That’s no small thing.”
“You flatter me, gorgeous.”
“And you don’t give yourself enough credit. He loves you very much.”
“I love him and I love you and since we all love each other, I’m going to bed to sleep the day away.” He rinsed his mug in the sink and kissed the top of my head as he passed by.
“Leonard?” He turned and looked at me curiously. “Why did you stay with Spock and not go with Jim?”
He smiled and shrugged. “Make Spock eat a piece of toast with his supplements this morning.” He yawned and stretched. “Damn, I’m tired. Later, doll face.”
“Take a shower before you slide between those clean sheets, Mr. Sex Machine,” I said.
“Use it or lose it, I always say,” he said over his shoulder.
Spock came in from talking with the contractor who was working on the carriage house. He was dressed for work and looked very handsome in a black v-neck sweater and black pleated pants.
“Use what?” he asked, pouring supplements into his palm. He took them all at once with a glass of tomato juice.
“Take a good guess,” I said.
He swallowed. “Ah.”
“Eat some toast with those.”
He raised a brow but placed a slice of bread into the toaster. We gazed at each other.
“Spock, how did you--. I mean, who was--.”
“I choose my partners very carefully, see them only once or twice and far from home.”
“So, uh, every seven years?”
“Several times a year.”
“It is a space I know well.”
“One must practice if one is to gain mastery of a particular skill.”
“Use it or lose it.”
“I get it, Spock.”
“Thank you for telling me.”
“Very well. Rom-halan, Nyota.”
My face was warm all day.
End Chapter 5
Napa, California--Vulcan Vineyards 1977
“I left my home in Georgia/headed for the ‘Frisco Bay…”
McCoy sang in his soulful baritone as we unpacked provisions in the main house at the Napa vineyard. His voice was really very nice and I couldn’t help but bob my head to the beat. Spock came in with the last box and I bumped his hip with mine as he set the box on the kitchen table.
“Sittin' here resting my bones/and this loneliness won't leave me alone. It's ten thousand light years I roamed/just to make this dock my home,” sang the doctor.
I laughed, grabbed Spock’s hand and twirled myself under his arm. “Come on Spock, dance with me. Sittin’ on the dock of the bay/watching the tide roll away,” I sang. Spock’s lips curled in a small smile and he pulled me into his arms. We swayed from side to side as Leonard sang the chorus.
“Sittin’ on the dock of the bay/wastin’ time…” The three of us whistled the cadence.
I’d been living in the carriage house behind the duplex for a little over a year and while we remained very close, still sharing most evening meals together, the three of us lived separate lives. It was necessary for our mental health. I knew I would never lead a “normal” life—I didn’t want to--but I understood why Jim needed to leave, to make his own way. I did not want to forget my other life, my real life, but to keep myself sane, I had to go on with the life I had in this time.
My relationship with McCoy solidified into a deeply affectionate friendship. He was my doctor and my confessor and the anchor of our triumvirate. He was also the keeper of an abiding and very pleasant sexual tension between him and me. In his early nineties, he showed no signs of slowing down and was unapologetically sexually active. His flirting was often outrageous but never offensive, due in part to his impeccable comedic timing and to his gallant Southern way with words that would leave me either breathless with laughter or flushed with desire. There were times when I wasn’t quite sure if his teasing was a serious parry into a seduction or not, and despite how I felt about Spock, Leonard and I both knew that he really wouldn’t have to try very hard; the slightest shift in our circumstances and I would tumble into bed with him, consequences be damned.
It would probably never happen. Probably. The option was simply there. It was nice to know.
That Spock and I were drawn to each other was undeniable. It seemed as if we would never run out of things to talk about. If we ate at a restaurant, we sat with our heads together, having intense debates about post-reform Vulcan music theory or the proper algorithm for deciphering hieroglyphics, while yawning waiters leaned against the walls, waiting for us to finish so that they could close up and go home. At the rare University social function Spock attended, I always acted as his date. Invariably, we ended up in a corner engaged in deep conversation, oblivious to the groupies and sycophants who hovered nearby, waiting for their chance to sidle up to Dr. Mountain Hawk. Once, a bleached and carved beauty rounded on me in the women’s restroom with a fiercely hissed, “Who are you?"
Interestingly, though I was only a few yards out the back door, living apart lent mystery to our relationship. We were both much more relaxed not living in such close proximity to each other and Spock allowed my touch and touched me more than when we lived under the same roof. I could get him to dance with me and I no longer curbed my impulse to smooth his hair back from his forehead. Even so, I still was not nearly as comfortable touching him as I was with Leonard. Touching Spock too much felt dangerous--especially since Leonard took to discreetly excusing himself on those evenings by the fire when the silences grew longer and hotter.
We weren’t in a hurry and it was possible that we both enjoyed the soft, insistent eroticism of denial too much.
But Leonard finally grew tired of our avoiding the issue.
We were at the winery for the weekend to supervise the élevage and to taste the first bottles from last year’s barrels.
“Sittin’ on the dock of the bay…” McCoy rummaged through a drawer. “Damn,” he said, snapping his fingers.
“What is it?” I asked. I laid my cheek against Spock’s chest. After a moment, his arms tightened around me.
“I forgot something at the store,” Leonard said.
“No doubt, the redheaded woman working the cash register,” said Spock.
“Now, Spock. What do you take me for? I’ve been seeing Aaruelan for three weeks now. I think we might be serious.” Aaruelan O’Neal was a darkly beautiful resident in pediatric cardiology who’d turned thirty only a week ago. “For your information, I forgot to buy matches. I wanted to throw some prawns on the grill. Besides, I’m ninety-three years old.” He bent and easily hoisted a full case of bottled water unto a high shelf. The muscles in his back flexed under his tee shirt. “You make me sound like a dirty old man.”
“You are ninety-two point four years old and the cashier’s interest in you did not escape anyone.”
“Really? You think she was interested in me? Huh. Maybe she’d like to come over for a tasting or try out the hot spring.” He smiled and blinked at us innocently.
Just beyond the main house was a small pond, from the center of which bubbled a hot spring. They had dredged the pond, lined it with large smooth cobblestones and built a low deck along one side. It was lovely to soak in the warm, mineral-laden water on cool fall nights.
“I suspect that she may find the hayloft interesting as well,” said Spock. He held out the car keys and McCoy snatched them from his fingers with a sniff.
“I’ll be back in about an hour.” He looked us over. Spock and I still stood with our arms around each other. “Make that two hours,” Leonard said with an arched eyebrow.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked.
“If you two aren’t doing it, you should be.”
“Dr. McCoy!” I exclaimed. I stepped out of Spock’s arms.
“It’s like a phaser on overload around you two sometimes. I’m tired of walking in on it.”
“You haven’t walked in on anything,” I cried.
“That’s the problem.”
“Oh for heaven’s sake, Leonard.” I turned to Spock. “Spock, tell him. We’re just--.” The expression on Spock’s face stopped the words in my mouth.
“Right. I’m taking the Jeep. I’ll see you when I see you,” said McCoy, beating it out the door. As he walked across the porch I heard him sing, “…and just when/it hit me/ somebody turned around and shouted…”
“Hey! Come back here,” I called.
“Play that funky music…”
I turned back to Spock. He folded his hands behind his back. Leonard’s observations were confirmed in the smoky depths of his eyes. My heart started to pound. I held up my hands.
“Now wait a second,” I said.
“Is this some sort of a conspiracy?” I asked.
“Nyota,” he said again, taking a step towards me.
“If you guys planned to get me out here and--.” My voice trembled.
He hooked an arm around my shoulders and pulled me against his body, running the fingers of his other hand into my hair and cupping the back of my head. His kiss took all the air from my lungs. My hands came up, but I didn’t know what to do with them so I just let them drop to my sides.
I looked up at him in surrender. “It’s not a conspiracy?”
“There is no conspiracy.”
“It’s not pon farr therapy?”
“You are who I desire, Nyota. You are not a means to an end.”
He held my face and kissed me again.
“What’s going to happen next?” I whispered.
His lips trailed down my neck. “What is your wish?” His voice was muffled against my skin. I still didn’t know what to do with my hands.
“Oh god, Spock,” I moaned. “I need to think about this.”
He pulled back and looked into my eyes. He nodded. “I understand.”
“I have waited fifty years for you. I can wait a while longer.”
“More precisely, I have been waiting for you for fifty-nine point four three years, ever since I saw you playing football on the Academy quadrangle.”
“Oh Spock.” I pressed my forehead against his chest and laughed. “I never told you that I was in the Sloane Building looking for you that day.”
“I searched for you for days, Nyota. I had resigned myself to not seeing you again.”
I looked up at him and he placed his hands along the sides of my face.
“After I laid out Finnegan and saw you standing there, I was so embarrassed. What was I going to say after beating up a superior officer? “Oh hello, Lieutenant Spock. I was looking for you. Would you like to have a cup of tea with me on Sunday?” I couldn’t do it, so I ran away.”
Spock dropped his hands and stepped back. “You were going to ask me to join you for a cup of tea?”
“Or something. I figured that tea would be easiest and least threatening in case things didn’t work out.” I shrugged. “How scary could tea on a Sunday morning be?”
“Tea on a Sunday?”
“I just knew you would say no.”
He gazed at me. His eyes sparkled and he placed a hand on his chest. Then he laughed. A real laugh. Its sound was rich, low and husky, and it thrilled me to my bones.
So of course, I started to cry.
When he saw the tears in my eyes, Spock’s laughter died. “Nyota, I did not mean to hurt your feelings. Please understand that I was not laughing at you. The situation is humorous because my grandmother--.”
“Oh no, Spock, you didn’t hurt my feelings,” I laughed, wiping tears from my cheeks.
“I do not understand. Laughter usually provokes an in-kind response.”
“I love you, Spock.”
“That makes you weep?” He frowned, perplexed. “At Leonard’s urging, I have viewed the film “Casablanca” twenty-three times and still, I do not understand what--.”
“Yes,” I said. I hooked my fingers in his waistband and pulled him to me. “I know, I know. Most illogical.”
I knew exactly what his next remark would be.
“Indeed,” we said simultaneously. He raised a brow, I raised a brow. He gave a tiny sigh and before I could imitate him further, he pressed his lips to mine.
“Will you make love to me, Nyota?”
He undressed me slowly, almost reverently, running his fingers over each inch of my skin as he exposed it. When I was naked, he pressed me gently back onto the bed and stood looking down at me for so long that I started to get uncomfortable.
I sat up. “We don’t have to do this, if you don’t want to.”
“I want to. I want you.” He continued to stare at me.
“What is it, Spock?”
“You are more beautiful than I ever imagined,” he said.
He took off his clothes and lay on his side facing me. His hot erection nudged against my belly. I reached down and cupped him in my hands. He closed his eyes and sighed.
End Chapter 6
Part Two: The End of the World and Back Again
For want of a nail the kingdom was lost
For want of a nail, the shoe was lost
For want of a shoe, the horse was lost
For want of a horse, the rider was lost
For want of a rider, the battle was lost
For want of a battle, the kingdom was lost
I stood behind the rusty iron bars that enclosed the small space set aside for the clinic’s employees and watched Spock walk towards me up the crowded, dusty street. He’d rolled his hair into a bun and pinned it at the crown of his head like a Sikh. The sun cast shadows in the planes of his face and I noticed for the first time that he did look older, that he was losing that youthful softness around his mouth and eyes, that his cheekbones and nose were becoming more prominent, and because of his Vulcan genetics, not only was he more muscular, he was also a bit taller. My eye traced the perfect symmetry of his long arms and legs, the elegant, strong column of his neck and I was reminded of Whitman:
“… the expression of a well-made man appears not only in his face,
It is in his limbs and joints also, it is curiously in the joints of his hips and wrists,
It is in his walk,…the flex of his waist and knees…”
We’d been back together for six months and still, my heart dropped every time I saw him like this. Six months, six years, six thousand years. He will always be utterly, heartbreakingly beautiful to me.
He stood at the bottom of the steps that led to the enclosure and searched for me over the crowd. Ragged children danced around him, patting him with their hands and begging for rupees. No one paid attention to his ears.
“Spock!” I called. He looked up and I waved through the bars. He gently nudged the children out of his way and climbed the steps. I saw that he held my tricorder close to his body with his thumb hooked through the strap. I motioned him toward the gate.
Families had been coming to the clinic from a village thirty miles south. Their children were coming down with acute fevers that were developing into meningitis and encephalitis.
“What is happening?” he asked, slipping quickly through the open gate.
“I’m pretty sure it’s Beta-2,” I said quietly.
“Our version of history has the Beta-2 pandemic occurring nearly a decade from now.”
Beta-2 echovirus was an engineered pathogen spread by pro-eugenics bioterrorists as part of their “genetic cleansings”. There was no treatment. Two million people in India and three million in Africa died before Beta-2 burned itself out. In China alone, eight million would die. Most of the dead would be children.
“Maybe our version was wrong. We know that record-keeping was poor to begin with, and that the Eugenics Party had a huge propaganda machine that first burned the books, and then rewrote them. You can already see the control they have over the media, even in this country.”
“Or, something has happened to change the course of history,” he said. We gazed at each other for a long moment.
“Did we do--?” I began.
“It is impossible to know, Nyota. We will look at the history stubs in your tricorder when we return to your loft.” He looked out at the crowd. The people weren’t quite panicked yet, but they would be when their children began dying. “The rioting will start soon.”
“So many children.”
“I know that you do not wish to abandon your work here but we must leave this city tonight.”
“This. He’s already on his way.” I handed him a telegraph that was waiting for me when I arrived at the clinic that morning. It was from McCoy. He was coming and would be here in two days.
“It does not say why he is coming here.”
“Yes it does.” I took the flimsy yellow paper from his hands. “Right here. It says, “I need to see you.””
Spock raised both brows.
I shrugged. “When you left… Does he need a reason?”
He stared into my eyes. “I suppose not,” he said, finally. “It will be increasingly dangerous to remain in Varanasi. We must prepare to leave as soon as McCoy arrives.”
I looked beyond him at the sound of a woman’s wailing screams. The first child had died. A doctor came out of the ward and motioned frantically to me.
“Wait for me here. I’ll be out in a bit.” The woman’s wails were joined by her husband’s.
I kept Spock waiting for nearly three hours. The sun was setting when we were ready to leave the clinic but the crowd had grown in number and in dark mood. Women and men cried out in anguish, tearing at their hair and their clothing. Four more children had died that afternoon. I grabbed my bag from my locker and met Spock in the employee courtyard. The crowd pushed against the iron bars. Things were escalating more rapidly than I anticipated.
One of the doctors pushed by us carrying a box of personal belongings.
“Dr. Covington?” I called.
He stopped and turned around.
“This is only going to get worse, Lily. There’s nothing more we can do. I’m not going to die here. I’m going to pack up my family and get out before it’s too late.” His eyes rolled wildly at the sound of glass breaking. “If you were smart, you’d do the same,” he said, then turned and rushed back into the clinic.
I hated to admit it, but Covington was right. It would be a decade of more bioterrorist attacks and rioting, then martial law, the rise of dictatorships, internment camps, forced sterilizations, and finally the Eugenics War. We needed to get back to the United States where it would be safer for at least the next five years.
And, we needed to stay alive if we had any hope of getting back to our own time.
It had only been a few hours since the first deaths, but already the crowd around the clinic was nearing the limits of what the guards could control. Soon the police would arrive and the beatings would start. A chunk of brick sailed over the fence and landed at my feet.
I gripped Spock’s elbow and pulled him back through the clinic doors. “Come on. We can take the tunnel. It’ll let us out on a gali above the river.”
Inside the clinic was chaos. A truck had backed right up to the front entrance and the staff were loading patients and equipment together. We saw the clinic’s radiologist leaning against the wall and gazing out the window at the crowd. He munched casually from a bag of hot mix.
“Aren’t you leaving, Manjit?” I asked.
“Nah. I’ve seen wedding melas worse than this.”
“This is no celebration, doctor.”
“I know.” He shrugged and grinned but his eyes were sad. “My people,” he said and shrugged again.
I reached up and stroked his cheek. “Take care,” I said. He had been my lover when I first arrived in Varanasi.
“You take care,” he said. His eyes drifted to Spock.
A loud bang startled us all.
“Gunfire already,” remarked Manjit. “Better hurry.” He went back to eating his snack and staring out the window.
Spock and I made our way to the tunnel. Halfway through, the dim bulbs that lit our way flickered then went out. I felt Spock take my hand.
“Do you know the way, Nyota?”
“Yes. It’s a straight shot. You’d better stay low. There are lots of pipes and things hanging from the ceiling.”
He reached up and unrolled his bun.
“Good idea,” I said.
We felt our way slowly along. We encountered no one else until we got to the gate that covered the end of the tunnel. Dr. Covington and two of the Mennonite missionaries who worked on the Hansen’s ward tugged futilely at the thick chain and padlock that held the gate closed. Covington pounded his fists against the iron bars.
“We’re trapped!” he shouted. One of the nuns calmly inspected the crumbling stone around the hinges of the gate looking for weak spots. The other offered to go back to find something with which to break the lock.
“That will not be necessary,” said Spock. “Dr. Covington, if you have a pen or other sharp object in your box of belongings?”
“Yes, yes! I have a letter opener in here somewhere,” he said, pawing through his box. He gave the opener to Spock.
“Lily, will you assist me?” asked Spock.
I held the chain and blocked the view while Spock pretended to pick the lock. He gripped the lock gave it a sharp tug. The metal broke apart in his hand. I glanced back and saw the missionaries exchange a look. Spock quickly threw the lock pieces into the darkness behind us and pulled the chain through the bars. We pushed open the gate and looked around. We could hear the sound of the crowds a few blocks away but the gali was deserted except for two small goats rummaging in a pile of refuse. Covington grabbed his box and scrambled away.
One of the Mennonites reached up and pushed Spock’s hair behind his ear. “God bless you,” she said. They rushed away in the opposite direction from Covington.
We walked quickly through the dark maze of narrow galis and fetid alleyways from the clinic to the laundry. We passed a dying cow wallowing feebly in a gutter. Vultures and gulls and magpies patiently waited nearby. The crowds were still largely protesting around the hospitals and various government buildings and had not started looting yet. An elderly man with a great hooked nose stood valiantly at the counter of the tea stall he’d fashioned from a tiny space where two buildings met on a diagonal. He nodded at Spock as we passed.
Mr. Bharadwaj was closing the laundry when we walked up.
“Lily. You must leave this place,” he said in English.
“We will, Mr. Bharadwaj. Soon.”
“You are welcome to come with me to my cousin’s home across the river.”
“Thank you, but that won’t be necessary. We will leave as soon as we can.”
He handed me the keys to the accordion security grate that covered the entrance to the laundry and the loft. “Lock the gate.” He fished in his pocket. “Here is the key to the laundry if you need hot water. There is half a tank of kerosene in the cellar for the generator. There is also an old motorbike. If you can fix it.” He spread his hands and shrugged. We all turned our heads at the sound of sirens in the distance. “They are only angry now,” said Mr. Bharadwaj. “Do not wait until they are frightened. Gandhiji could not stop them then.” He climbed onto his three-wheeled scooter and started it up. “Stay away from the burning ghats,” he said and putted away.
Spock closed and padlocked the security gate. I started up the stairs to the loft.
“Nyota, I wish to examine the generator and motorbike in the cellar. There may be supplies that we can use as well.”
“Ok. Be careful.”
“Hey,” I said. He turned back. “I love you so much.” His face softened and he nodded.
I entered my loft and dumped my bag on the floor. Without the heat from the laundry below, the big room would soon get too cold for Spock’s comfort. I pulled more quilts out of a cupboard.
While I waited, I looked around the room that had been my home for the past three years. I would pack some clothes and my journal, but everything else I would abandon here. I felt a stab of grief at the thought of losing of my tin-lined tub. My eyes fell on Spock’s rucksack. That was all there was of his possessions, but his presence was clearly but unobtrusively marked here and there: the neatly arranged cans on the shelves, the precisely lined books, the military corners on our bed covers. He had re-entered my life so easily, almost as if we’d never been apart.
Even as I was deliriously happy to be with him again, the trauma of our break-up three years before still wrung my heart.
San Francisco 1977-1978
Our weekend at the vineyard turned into a honeymoon of sorts. We made love constantly. Dr. McCoy grinned happily at us whenever we emerged from our room--or the barn or the hot spring--disheveled, exhausted, embarrassingly giddy.
Upon our return to the city, I moved from the carriage house, back into Spock’s flat. We were impossibly happy for months.
One night, I awakened to the feel of Spock’s warm hand on my belly. I opened my eyes and saw him gazing with wonder at his hand on my stomach.
“Spock, what is it?” I asked.
“K’kan-es,” he whispered.
“I had not thought it possible.” He laid his head on my hip and traced his fingers on the skin below my navel. “I hear him,” he said. “I feel him.”
“I don’t understand, darling,” I said, stroking a hand through his hair.
He reached up without looking at me and gently placed his fingertips on my temple. My body suddenly suffused with warmth and my mind with light. I felt the familiar presence of Spock but there was another--faint, quiescent, but definitely there.
“I’m pregnant,” I gasped. I hadn’t yet missed a period. Spock moved his hand from my face. “No.” I said, gripping his fingers. He re-settled his fingers on my contact points.
Dr. McCoy confirmed my pregnancy. “Yep. Two weeks. So far, so good but…”
he frowned. “Vulcan genetics are aggressive—even in small amounts--and they will assert themselves at some point during the gestation. Your body might begin to reject the baby. Without blood factor incompatibilities—which we could probably manage—I don’t know if your metabolism could sustain a Vulcan fetus. Humans just aren’t warm enough. And if you could carry the baby to term…” He trailed off, looking at Spock, his face filled with sad compassion.
“You’re saying that we can’t raise a Vulcan child. Not here. Not now,” I said, softly.
“I’m not saying you can’t. I’m saying it would be extremely difficult,” said McCoy.
“Difficult but not impossible,” said Spock.
“We need to think about this,” I said. Spock’s face hardened. “Spock, please.”
He turned to Leonard. “Dr. McCoy, you will deliver the baby here. I will redouble my efforts to return us to our time. Perhaps I could utilize one of the satellite dishes at the university. Modify it to send a signal--.”
Leonard’s eyes were bright with unshed tears. “You’re not being logical, Spock-kam,” he said gently.
“The decision is not yours to make,” said Spock, lifting his chin.
“You’re right, Spock. But it’s not yours either,” he said.
I sank into a chair and covered my face with my hands. “What if he gets sick? Or has an accident? We won’t always have Dr. McCoy here to take care of him. He can never go to a hospital.”
“We will take measures to ensure that his risk of injury or accident is minimal,” Spock said stubbornly.
“What kind of life is that for a child?” I asked. “And then, after we’re gone, he’ll be alone.”
“Terminating the pregnancy is not an option. We will not speak of this again.” Spock turned and walked stiffly out of the kitchen and down to his workshop.
Leonard and I stared at each other across the kitchen. We both jumped when we heard a heavy thud from the basement.
Leonard leaned back against the counter and sighed. “Probably put his fist through a wall.”
“He knows we’re right,” he said.
“Are we, Leonard? Jim had children. Now he has grandchildren.”
He gazed at me, heartbroken. “I better go see if he broke his stupid hand.”
In the days after, the three of us orbited gingerly around each other. Leonard tried to give us space by staying in his own flat but each evening, we’d eventually drift downstairs and one at a time, we would end up in front of Leonard’s fireplace, silently watching the flames.
Even though Spock seemed to have folded into himself after our argument about the baby, my pregnancy flipped a hormonal switch in both of us. We were barely speaking to each other but fucking was not a problem.
In the end, Spock was right. The decision was not ours to make.
The baby’s un-formed consciousness had been like an almost-whisper in my mind, like a warm, soft light seen from a far distance. I awakened in the night to silence and darkness and I knew that he was gone. Spock stood naked in front of the French doors that led to our balcony, head bowed, shivering in the moonlight. His shaggy hair had fallen forward and shrouded his face. I called to him but he didn’t come to me.
I placed a trembling hand on my belly. I wept.
The next afternoon, I was in the cool, dry rare books room in the university library when I felt a hot heavy pressure in my lower abdomen. I got up and walked slowly to the women’s restroom. I put a dime into the machine on the wall and retrieved a sanitary napkin. I went into a stall, meticulously arranged a paper toilet seat cover on the toilet ring, pulled down my pants, and sat on the toilet. I inspected the pad I had put on just one hour ago. It was clean and white and pristine as the one I had put on in the morning. I folded it in half and tucked it into the receptacle on the stall wall, strangely annoyed that I had wasted a dime. I fixed the fresh pad to my panties, wadded a length of toilet paper in my hand and waited. The heaviness in my abdomen grew and I felt a tiny flutter of pain in my rectum. Then, like a bubble bursting, blood and tissue flowed out of my body in a warm gush. I don’t know how long I sat there, feeling the life slide out of my vagina and hearing it plop softly into the water beneath me. Finally, I wiped myself carefully, stood and pulled up my pants. Knowing that I would regret it if I didn’t, I turned and looked down into the toilet. I thought that the bowl would be brimming with red and green clots but the water was barely pink, and even that dissipated as I watched. Frowning, I tore off a square of toilet paper and dropped it into the bowl. It slowly sank to the bottom and was sucked into the outflow pipe.
The flat was dark when I returned that evening. I felt the same flash of surreal, disconnected irritation that I’d felt earlier when I bought the sanitary napkin. Spock was supposed to be home. Amazingly, I wanted sex. I was raw and bloody and empty and I wanted Spock.
There was a note propped against a glass on the kitchen counter.
“Leonard & Nyota—
I shall be gone for a time.
Peace and long life.”
I placed the note carefully back where I found it.
I turned at the sound of McCoy’s voice. He blinked at the expression on my face.
“What is it? What’s the matter, honey?”
“I lost the baby.”
“Are you bleeding? That could just be--.”
“It’s not, Leonard. I felt him go last night.”
His face crumpled. “Oh sweetheart, I’m so sorry,” he said. He looked around. Where’s Spock?”
I waved my hand at the note as I left the kitchen. I was suddenly very cold. I went into the bathroom and ran a hot bath. The water scalded me but I didn’t even flinch. It felt better the numb emptiness that threatened to engulf me—and better than the guilty relief to which I could not admit. Dr. McCoy came in and sat on the low stool next to the tub and quietly drank a cup of tea, much as he did when he rescued me after my leap through the Guardian.
Later, he ran his homemade Feinberger over me.
“Why?” I asked, not sure if I was asking about Spock or the baby.
He shrugged sadly. “I don’t know.”
Spock returned to my loft with the two large kettles that Mr. Bharadwaj used to fill my tub.
“I thought that you might desire a bath after our sojourn through the tunnel this evening, Nyota.”
“Thank you, Spock. Lord knows when I’ll get the chance to have another.” I undressed as he poured the steaming water into the tub. “Join me?” I asked.
“I had planned to do so,” said Spock.
I settled into the water and watched him undress. I scooted back and spread my legs and motioned him sit in front of me. He sat down between my knees. I gripped his shoulders and pulled him back against me. His muscular weight felt good pressing into my body. He slid down and rested the back of his head between my breasts. I kissed the top of his dark head.
“Are you comfortable, Nyota?”
“I’m fine. How’s the water for you?”
“I am quite comfortable; however, if the room temperature remains constant, I calculate that the water will cool at a rate of—.”
I clamped my hand over his mouth and looked down into his face. “Spock, you’re taking the romance out of bathing together.”
He gripped my hand and pulled it from his mouth. “If you had allowed me to finish, I would have suggested a way that we might keep warm. If you are uninterested, then…” He settled back against me.
He was silent for a long moment.
“Don’t tease me.”
“I am uncertain to what you are referring.”
“If I don’t get any, then you don’t either. How’s that for an ‘if-then’ statement, Mr. Spock?”
He reached around, lifted me easily over his head and lowered me onto his erect penis, facing away from him. “Logical,” he said, pressing his lips to my ear. “Flawlessly logical.”
I contracted the muscles of my vagina around his cock and smiled at the sound of his loud gasp. “Who says logic can’t be sexy,” I murmured.
“Not I,” said Spock. “I do recall your saying something to that effect two point three minutes ago.”
“Perhaps I was wrong.”
Spock grasped my thighs and hooked my knees over the sides of the tub. He slid his hand down my belly and stroked his fingers back and forth over my clit. He held me around my waist and began to thrust slowly in and out of me. I felt a moan vibrate in his chest as his fingers increased their light, circular rhythm. I arched against him and threw my head back. He stopped moving his hips and slowly released me. I fell back, gasping.
He nuzzled my neck. “You were challenging me with an if-then statement?” he whispered. He tickled my hard, exposed clit with a fingertip. His cock was hot inside me. I squirmed with frustration.
“Don’t stop. Please, Spock,” I panted.
He rubbed his hands up my slick body and cupped my breasts, gently scissoring my nipples between his fingers. “If I continue my earlier activities, then…?”
“That is an incorrect answer,” he breathed in my ear. He shifted his hips and withdrew from inside me. The underside of his cock rubbed the hot cleft between my buttocks. “If I continue to stroke your clitoris with my fingers, then…?”
“I don’t want to play, Spock!” My thighs were quivering with frustrated desire.
“As you wish.” He made as if to rise for the tub.
I whipped my head around. “Ok, ok! If you don’t make love to me, then I’m going to scream,” I snapped.
“Ah,” he said, sliding back into me. “The antecedal causal relata. The simplest and most elegant of the causality…” His eyes drifted away and he stopped moving.
“Spock? Darling, what is it? Are you hurt? Did I--?”
His brows crowded together at the center of this forehead. I recognized the look.
I sighed. “No sex tonight,” I said, resigned.
With a groan equal parts pleasure and regret, I lifted myself off his cock. I got out of the tub, dried off and walked over to the kitchen to put on water for tea. I could tell already that it was going to be a long night.
He turned to me. “I am a fool,” he said, finally.
I raised a brow.
Spock stepped out of the tub and tracked water across the room. He picked up my tricorder and sat his damp behind on my leather bistro chair. He was silent for several minutes as he scrolled through my tricorder readouts. The sounds of the angry protestors rose and fell in the distance. I knew that the crowd would dissipate in time for morning prayers and the opening of the markets and shops. The protest would likely re-form after evening call to temple.
I pulled on one of Spock’s thick sweaters took one out of the trunk for him. I put his sweater over his head and tugged it down. He looked up at me through his hair as he pushed his arms through the sleeves. I slid my hands under the collar and pulled his hair free. I dropped a kiss on his nose. I set a cup of tea in front of him and waited patiently, still a bit unhappy about my usurped plans for sex that night.
Spock sat back in his chair and pushed his hair back from his face with a sigh. It was a rare display of emotion—outside of sex, at any rate. He sat forward again and drummed his fingertips on the side of the tricorder. I sipped from my tea but said nothing. He placed his elbow on the table and curled his fingers against his mouth. I’d seen him do this before on the ship, in the briefing room, at his console on the bridge or in the labs. McCoy called it his “thinking tell”. It was a totally unconscious quirk and back then, Spock would have been annoyed to know that he did it whenever he was confronted with a particularly perplexing problem.
I suppressed a grin. He looked adorable sitting there in a thick sweater and no pants, a frown on his face, his hair tucked behind his ears like a hippy college student. I could see the head of his penis peeking out from beneath the hem of his sweater. I tried to hide my smile in my mug of tea but only succeeded in snorting some up my nose.
Spock blinked and looked at me. “What is humorous?”
I pointed at his lap. He looked down in confusion then raised a brow.
“If I have intercourse with you now, then you will allow me to pursue without interruption the theory I am currently formulating.”
I waved my mug in the air. “Antecedal causality relata. The simplest and most elegant of the—.”
He was frowning again. I sighed.
“Nyota, while you were on Anachron Prime, did you observe any unusual activity from the Guardian?” asked Spock.
“What do you mean, unusual?”
“I am not certain.”
“Other than the fact that it wouldn’t shut up for about an hour after you guys jumped through, then went silent, I can’t think of anything.”
“What was it saying before it went silent?”
“It just kept repeating what it said before you went through.” I lowered my voice to basso profundo. “I am the Guardian of Forever, you primitive apes.” It kept saying that, like it was some sort of advertisement for an amusement park ride. That thing was extremely condescending, by the way. I got very sick of it very quickly.”
“And the images? Was there anything inconsistent with our version of history?”
I frowned, thinking. “They were flashing by so quickly that I really couldn’t say. We were so busy trying not to get struck by lightning and plasma discharges that we really didn’t have time to study the portal beyond our initial readings. Scotty tried to rig his tricorder so that we could have a searchable database of history but the tricorder got zapped by a plasma discharge. We never got around to modifying mine. Anyway, I set my tricorder in front of the portal and set it at record for most of the time that we were on the planet. Anything strange would be still in there. I downloaded about eight gigaquads of data into your computer in the basement in San Francisco. You didn’t look at it?”
“I am a fool,” he said again.
“What are you talking about? You’re not a fool.” I went over and straddled his lap, gently gyrating my hips, trying to connect with the head of his cock. He gave in for a moment, letting me kiss him, then pulled back.
“Nyota, I never reviewed the data that you collected while still on the planet.”
I shrugged. “So? Can we talk about this later?” I gripped his wrists and slid his hands under my sweater to my breasts.
“The Novikov self-consistency conjecture,” he said, rolling my nipples between his fingers. I felt his cock harden between my thighs.
My mouth dropped open. “A wormhole?” I stood up and stepped back.
It was his turn to be sexually frustrated. “A naturally occurring transversible wormhole,” he said.
We had been intent on solving the riddle of the unopened time portal by using the temporal causality paradox. This theory, sometimes called the “grandfather paradox”, is one in which a time-traveler goes back in time and kills his own grandfather and, thus, prevents his own mother’s birth. This implies that, having never been born, the traveler cannot go back in time to kill his grandfather, which in turn implies that the grandfather would still be alive to father the traveler’s mother, who then conceives the time traveler, who then travels back in time and so on--each causal relationship implying its own negation. A simple, logical paradox .
The Novikov consistency principle asserts however, that if an event occurs that would give rise to a paradox (killing your own grandfather), then the probability of that event happening is zero. Only events that maintained consistency in the timeline could actually occur and that time travel was only possible via wormholes. In other words, fire a billiard ball into a wormhole in such a way that it would go back in time and collide with its earlier self, thereby knocking itself off course and preventing itself from entering the wormhole in the first place.
Yet here we were with our erased future and vanished history, having leapt—or tumbled—into the Guardian.
Novikov’s answer to this seeming paradox was “transversible wormholes”: phenomenon that were not only time portals, but also gateways to alternate universes, allowing one to “transverse” from one timeline to another, one universe to another, thus avoiding temporal causality loops.
“But transversible wormholes are only theoretical,” I said. “Let alone finding one large enough and stable enough to admit anything larger than a proton.”
“If the beings who built the Guardian were advanced enough to expand and stabilize the throat of a transversible wormhole then to them, time travel would seem like an amusement park ride.”
“Wouldn’t we know if we transversed into an alternate universe?”
“Unknown. Perhaps time travel itself creates alternate universes. I do not know.”
“I know that you are going to say that this is illogical, Spock but I don’t feel like I’m in an alternate universe. This is home--another time, but home.”
He pulled me back onto his lap. “Nyota, your “feeling” is no less logical than any other theory about time travel and causal relationships. One “cause” could produce any number of entirely different effects, and any effect could have an infinite number of causes.”
“Probabilistic theory. They taught that at the Academy.”
“One bullet can start a war, as can a thousand contributing background conditions: one bullet kills the king, along with discontent around economics, religion, geographical boundries, et cetera.”
“For want of a nail, the kingdom was lost.”
We gazed into each other’s eyes.
“Jim was right,” said Spock. “Edith Keeler was not our sole focal point in time.”
“Oh god, Spock. How the hell are we going to find out what is? The possibilities are endless. Give me that tricorder. We’ve got to study those images and see if--.”
I saw that his eyes were focused on my mouth. He slid his hands up my bare thighs and started working his hands under my sweater again. Shocked, I pushed at his chest.
“Come on, Spock. We can’t have sex now. We’ve got to get to work,” I said.
“One hour from now will do even better.” His ducked his head and sucked my nipple into his mouth.
“I bet you say that to all the girls.”
End Chapter 7
We picked up McCoy ten miles south of Varanasi at the Mughalsarai railroad cantonment. The trains had stopped coming into Varanasi two days before. We spotted him in the crowd talking to a young woman holding a baby. He looked great, a bit thinner but still vigorous and healthy, with the gray in his hair only just beginning to turn white.
“Len! Leonard,” I shouted. He waved and turned back to the young woman. We pushed through the crowd until we reached him.
“Two drops in each ear, two times a day, everyday until there’s no more,” he shouted in Punjabi. “Use it all and don’t dilute it.” The young woman nodded as he pressed a small bottle into her hand. She disappeared into the mass. He turned to us, shaking his head. “She’s going to dilute it, sell it and buy diluted, useless baby formula.”
He looked at me with those sharp, beautiful blue eyes that seemed to belong in the face of a much younger man. I flung myself into his arms and held him tightly. He pressed my face between his palms and kissed me on the lips long enough for Spock to give a discreet cough. Leonard pulled back and gazed into my eyes for a long moment before he reached up, gripped Spock by the hair and pulled him into a hug, sandwiching me between them.
“I’m kicking your ass, you green-blooded son of a bitch,” he said roughly.
Spock let himself be held for a moment before stepping back. “It is not necessary for you to disparage my mother,” he said, raising a brow.
Leonard threw back his head and laughed. “Jesus, I missed you kids.” He looked down at me. “Oh honey, don’t cry,” he said, droppings kisses on my face in such a way that made Spock shift uncomfortably.
“Let’s get out of here,” I said.
Spock studied us with a slight frown then picked up McCoy’s pack and led the way through the crowd. Leonard and I followed, holding hands.
San Francisco 1979
My relationship with McCoy changed after I lost the baby and Spock left. Perhaps “changed” is too strong a word. We were already close; his unabashed displays of affection didn’t end when Spock and I were together. They were tempered somewhat after Spock left, less the teasing, quasi-sexual advances they were before and more comforting and supportive—two people mourning loss together.
And Leonard did grieve for Spock. He was quite ill for a couple of weeks--headaches, vomiting, aching fatigue. “Some goddamn Vulcan familial bonding bullshit, I’m guessing,” he said. “Jim said something about going through the same thing.” I had some of the symptoms, but less severe. We realized that we felt physically better if we didn’t spend too much time apart in those weeks and gradually things got better.
One day, Leonard stopped by my office at the university.
“Hey, doll face.”
I looked up and smiled with pleasure. “Hey, yourself,” I said. My secretary came in with a form I’d already signed and then lingered by my desk, shuffling papers and stealing glances at Leonard. He grinned at her from beneath his lashes. My tough as nails secretary blushed and rushed out of the room.
“What are you doing this weekend?” asked Leonard.
“Childrens Hospital Los Angeles is flying me down for a consult. Bullet Obrinski has an empty beach house and I have the key. Want to come?”
“I don’t know, Leonard.”
“It’s just one day. We’ll fly down this evening and come back tomorrow afternoon. It’ll do us good to get out of the city. We’ll get there in time to watch the sunset from a real beach for a change. We haven’t had any fun in a while.”
Spock had been gone for eight months. “Ok. Just let me run home and pack a bag.”
He held up my backpack. “Already done: one pair of jeans, one tee shirt, underwear, nightie, sandals, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, hairbrush, lip balm.”
I laughed. “You know me too well.”
“I’ll go flag a cab.” On his way out the door, I heard him say, “See you around, Stella.”
I walked out of my office and my secretary was gazing at the door with dreamy eyes. “That man could have all my money,” she said.
“All he said was, “I’ll see you around.”
“Yeah, but it was the way he said it.”
“I’m out of here. I’ll see you Thursday,” I said.
“Have fun at the beach,” she said.
“Nosey!” I exclaimed.
“I wish I were you,” she sighed. She poked a pencil into her wild, blonde bouffant and scratched her scalp.
The beach house was a whitewashed, Spanish-style home with a red clay tile roof.
Inside was sparsely but expensively furnished. Dark brown Mexican tile covered the floor and the ceiling soared more than twenty feet above. A curving, inlayed staircase led up to more rooms that opened off a walkway overlooking the living room. A fireplace took up half a wall of the living room and across from the fireplace, was a wall of windows that faced a large terracotta patio overlooking the ocean. A narrow hallway led to a large kitchen which also had a fireplace, as well as an old red cast iron range.
Leonard showed me to a small bedroom with shuttered French doors that opened off the patio. A heavy four-poster bed dominated the room. There was a bathroom next door with a huge, lovely old claw foot tub. I eyed it wistfully.
Leonard poked his head in the door. “There’s bubbles and oil and stuff in that cabinet over there.”
I cocked an eyebrow at him. “You seem to know your way around,” I said.
“I’ve been here before.”
“I take it “Bullet” Obrinski isn’t a big, hairy ex-Marine?”
“You got the ex-Marine part right,” he said, grinning. “I’m going to the market to get some food and wine for dinner. I’ll be back in a bit. If you wanted to take a bath--.”
“Huh? No, no. I--. I know how you are about bathtubs and I--.”
I laughed. “I’m just teasing, Leonard. I want to go to the market with you.”
He frowned. “I just want to make sure you’re comfortable. You’ve been through a lot these last couple of years.”
“Stop treating me like I’m made of glass.” I wrapped my arms around his waist. “I’m ok. Really, I am. And you’ve been through a lot, too.”
“I’ve had more years to come to terms with it.”
“I’m all grown up, Leonard.”
He looked down into my face and trailed his fingers along my jaw. “You are ok aren’t, you,” he said.
Suddenly, I was.
We ended up not getting to the market until the next afternoon. The hospital called and Dr. McCoy had to go in that evening. I went with him, but his consult turned into emergency surgery and I wondered around the old campus until well after midnight. Stuck to a bulletin board in one of the staff lounges was a small card advertising translator positions for clinics in India. My Tamil and Punjabi were good, my Hindi fair and my Urdu a bit rusty but I thought it would be interesting to check it out during the summer break. I slipped the card into my pocket, glancing around, feeling guilty for removing the card instead of writing down the information.
When I returned to the surgical wing, Leonard was standing in the corridor with his arms crossed. He was still in scrubs and a surgical mask hung from his neck. I could tell that he wasn’t done with the surgery because he tucked his hands between his folded arms and his ribs, keeping his fingers warm and limber. He was talking quietly to another doctor and a man in a suit. His face was grim and his eyes glittered with hard light. He leaned forward and said something to the man in the suit. The man’s mouth dropped open and his eyes grew large. Leonard spun angrily around, pushed open a heavy door with his hip and disappeared into the surgery bay.
The doctor and the man in the suit rushed by me with red faces.
I sat in a chair and waited. Some time later, a gentle touch on my shoulder startled me from a light sleep. Leonard was dressed in his street clothes. His hair was damp.
“I’m sorry it took so long. We got in there and found something we didn’t expect.”
“That’s ok,” I yawned. “What time is it?”
I looked up at him. “You don’t look tired at all.”
“I’ll nose dive after I eat something. Are you hungry?”
We sat in the rental car in a Fatburger parking lot and ate our food among the tricked out Cadillacs, Impalas and El Caminos, while hard-faced young men wearing strap undershirts and bandanas tied around their foreheads peered curiously into our windows. They looked with less curiosity toward the sound of gunfire on the next block. McCoy grinned.
“What’s so funny?” I asked.
“Klingons in a Fatburger parking lot in 20th century South Central L.A. on a hot summer night.”
“That, I’d like to see,” I laughed.
The phone was ringing when we returned to the beach house. It was the hospital.
“I’m sorry, baby. I have to go back,” said Leonard, with an apologetic grimace.
“It’s not your fault.”
“I know, but we didn’t even get a chance to walk on the beach. Tell you what, let’s stay over one more night. Let me make it up to you.”
“I’ll call the airline.”
“You’re the best, kiddo,” he said.
The next morning, I crept up the stairs and peeked into Leonard’s bedroom. A trail of clothes led from the door. McCoy lay on his back in the middle of the bed with the sheets bunched between his long legs. I tiptoed into the room to move his shoes where he wouldn’t trip over them when he awakened. I let my eyes wander down his body. In my mind, only a few years had passed and to me, he was still the handsome, fit man approaching middle age that I knew on the Enterprise. The body that I saw now did not belie that image. The wrinkles in his face had deepened and there was more gray hair than dark on his head but his arms and chest still curved gently with firm muscle, his abdomen was flat and hard, his legs lean and strong. He shifted in his sleep, pulling the sheet away from his groin. His penis lay semi-erect against his thigh.
“What is it? Do you need something, Nyota?”
I jumped and placed a hand on my heart. “You startled me!” I said. “No, I’m fine. I--I was just um, checking on you.”
He glanced down but didn’t make any attempt to cover himself. He settled back against the pillows. “I’ll be down in two hours.” And just like that, he was asleep again.
I watched him for a moment longer, wondering if it was terribly wrong of me to be so attracted to him. Aside from all that we’d been through, the man was ninety-three years old; but at the rate he was aging, he could live another thirty years, maybe even forty.
I sighed and shook those thoughts from my head. I took one last look at McCoy and tried to ignore the small frisson of desire in my belly. I knew that my feelings were nostalgia and nothing more. I longed for my life from before, so much so that I often sat in our basement, turned on Spock’s equipment, closed my eyes and listened to the clicks and whirrs and beeps that were so like those on the bridge of the Enterprise. The sounds of the ghosts from my orphaned future.
That evening, we grilled steaks and vegetables, drank wine and laughed and danced on the patio, and when the sun began to set, we took a bottle of wine and sat on the sand until the sky over the ocean turned black and the bare face of the moon climbed above our heads.
I lay my cheek on my knees and gazed at Leonard. The moon bathed his face in slivery light. That desire I felt earlier reared its wicked head.
Leonard looked over and said, “Didn’t your mother ever tell you that it’s not polite to stare?”
I blushed then shrugged. His eyes roamed my face.
“We’d better head back,” he said. He stood and helped me to my feet. I rose to my toes and kissed him.
He held up his hands. “Ok,” he said. “This was a bad idea.”
I pulled his head down to my face and kissed him again, more forcefully. He placed a hand on the back of my head and his lips moved against mine. I felt something inside me give way.
He stepped back and took a long careful breath.
“I really didn’t plan for anything to happen, Nyota,” he said. “I didn’t bring you down here for this. I promise.”
“I believe you.”
“I just thought, you know, that it would be like being on vacation. We could talk and cook and drink wine. Forget about everything. Just for a few hours.”
“Don’t apologize. None of this is your fault.”
“I was being a little selfish.”
I said, “Let’s go back to the house.”
He nodded. I turned and walked up the beach and he followed. He stopped me when we reached the French doors that led to the small bedroom off the patio.
“Wait,” he said.
I turned to him. He looked a little frightened.
“The pon farr therapy. I never told Spock. A full-blooded Vulcan would not have survived it. It’s the only secret I have ever kept from him.”
“And it will be the only one,” I said. “Because this--.” I reached for his hand and pulled him into the room. “This has nothing to do with him.”
He gently and skillfully brought me to orgasm and then held me while I cried myself to sleep.
Two weeks later, I called the number on the card from the hospital bulletin board. I went to Varanasi.
~New Delhi 1981
Leonard, Spock and I sat in a restaurant in the cool lobby of the Imperial Hotel in New Delhi. McCoy--of course--knew someone, who knew someone who arranged for a rickety crop duster to fly us from Mughalsarai to Delhi and arranged for a suite in the most luxurious hotel in the city. Sitting in the elegant oasis of the Imperial, it was hard to believe that elsewhere in India, there was death and rioting and terrorist bombings almost daily.
There was nothing we could do. Our flight out of India left that evening.
Leonard had a huge stack of American Express traveler’s checks and was spending them lavishly. We had been here for a day and a half and were being treated like royalty—Spock especially. He’d bound his hair and wrapped his head in a maroon silk pagri to hide his ears and eyebrows. He looked very elegant in matching kurta and pants. McCoy was splendid in white linen, sleeves rolled casually on his forearms, looking like just what he was: a rich American doctor. My embroidered sari in persimmon and brown complimented both of them.
Leonard had insisted on a ridiculous number of gold bangles that clinked heavily on my wrists. Spock stood stiffly by as Leonard leaned close and held up the hair from the back of my neck while I fastened an elaborate gold and ruby choker. He placed a hand on my hip and turned me so that I could see myself in the mirror.
“Are you suicidal?” I hissed when Leonard and I had a moment alone.
“You said it wouldn’t be a secret.”
“I know, but really.”
The restaurant wait staff eyed me warily.
“They are uncertain to whom you are consort,” said Spock.
Leonard’s eyes lingered on mine. I flushed and took a sip from my fruit drink. Spock looked away but not before I saw his eyes darken dangerously. I cleared my throat.
“Anyway. The death of Edith Keeler was only one of the probable causes of the United States entering the war when it did,” I said.
“Sort of like that song about the old lady swallowing the fly,” said Leonard. “It seems a waste of time—if you’ll pardon my pun—for the Guardian to send us through only to have us live out our lives and die here.”
“Perhaps, but there is no way to know which, if any of our actions will return time to its original shape. Our lives, our deaths, the lives of our…children. We cannot know,” said Spock.
“Wynona,” I whispered.
“Jim’s granddaughter?” asked Leonard.
“Yes. She married a boy from Iowa named Sam Kirk.”
“If we were sent back to make sure that Jim’s great-great-great grand whatever was conceived, and by extension, Jim was conceived, wouldn’t we have been returned once Wynona was born? And if not then, when she married Sam Kirk?” asked Leonard. He looked at Spock. “Any other theories about time travel, Spock?”
“Yes.” Spock gazed out of the window at the traffic.
“All of the theories are correct.” He looked at us. “And none of them are.”
“Wha--?” Leonard began.
A commotion outside sent the hotel staff and security guards running to the front of the building. We stood and moved away from the windows just in time to avoid being showered with glass when they shattered from an explosion in the street.
We dropped into red alert, McCoy taking command. He gripped my arms.
“Nyota. Go to the room and get my medical bag. Meet us at the front of the building if it’s safe. If not, go out the back and meet us across the street. Spock, you’re with me.”
“Aye, sir,” I said and ran for the stairs. When I reached the room, I grabbed Leonard’s bag and headed back for the door.
I slid to a halt.
It was a communicator call signal.
I dropped the bag on the bed and searched frantically through the neatly labeled zippered compartments until I found Leonard’s communicator. I flipped it open.
“U--Uhura here,” I said.
“Uhura? Nyota?” said a voice through the static.
“Captain! Jim! Is it you?”
“Nyota! Where are you?”
“Oh god, Jim. I can’t believe it. We thought you were dead! How--?”
“Where are you, Nyota?”
“We are at the Imperial Hotel in New Delhi. Where are you?”
“Listen to me. Stay where you are. Do you hear me? Don’t move.”
“I’ll be right there. Please honey, just stay where you are.”
“Jim, there was an explosion. Leonard needs his medical bag. He and Spock want me to—.”
“Goddammit Uhura, that’s an order. Stay put!”
“We won’t go anywhere. I’ll tell Spock and Leonard. We’ll meet you in the front of the hotel or across the street.” The static cut out. “Jim? Captain?”
I dropped the communicator back in the bag and ran out the door. The hotel lobby was all smoke and dust and utter chaos. I saw Spock’s maroon back through the crowd and pushed my way toward him.
“Nyota! Over here!” Dr. McCoy was bent over a man and was putting pressure on a wound in the man’s chest. Leonard was sprayed with red across his face. I ran to his side and opened his bag.
“Take out a pad of gauze. I need you to maintain pressure right here until I can cauterize this bleeder.” There were screams and gunfire and the sound of more explosions but McCoy was cool, efficient, undistracted.
“Leonard, I talked to Jim!”
He looked up at me briefly then continued working on the man. “I’m almost done. Find Spock and get him over here.”
I stood and looked in the direction where I last saw Spock. A woman grabbed my arm and started pulling me frantically toward a pile of rubble.
“Noon! Noon! My son, my son! Please! My boy!”
“Spock! Help us!” I yelled.
Spock started toward us, dodging panicked people and stepping nimbly over crumpled bodies and overturned furniture.
The woman plucked at my sari. “Hurry please. He is here. My child. He will be crushed,” she said.
I went with her and knelt beside a toppled pillar. A slender brown hand moved feebly beneath the mound of debris. I surveyed the area.
“Help me move this,” I said, pushing my fingers under a slab of marble.
The woman and I carefully slid the slab to the side, revealing the top half of a boy of perhaps twelve or thirteen. The woman dropped to her knees by his side. The boy groaned and his eyelids fluttered. His legs were pinned by the big pillar. I placed my fingertips at his neck. His pulse was slow but strong and there was no blood that I could see. I brushed dust from his face. He was a beautiful boy. His aquiline features seemed vaguely familiar.
“My son, my son! Oh please!”
I look back and saw Spock striding toward us. He’d lost his pagri but his hair was still bound in its long ponytail. His kurta was torn at the shoulder and blood oozed from a gash on his chin. He looked like a king walking through a battlefield. His ears were clearly visible. We would need to leave this place as soon as we could.
Spock examined the pillar when he reached us. He glanced down at the child’s face and frowned. “Nyota, I can lift this but will only be able to hold it for a few moments. You will have to slide the boy out very quickly. Do you understand?”
“Got it,” I said. I gripped the boy under his shoulders and braced my feet against the floor. He cried out when I pulled on him. “I’m sorry, sweetheart,” I said. “This will only hurt for a moment.” I glanced behind me and saw Leonard. He stood at the hotel entrance with his communicator in his hand, a puzzled frown on his face.
“On three, Nyota,” said Spock. “One, two, three!”
I heaved back with all my strength. The boy and his mother screamed. I scrambled back with the boy in my arms and Spock dropped the pillar with a loud crash. The woman threw herself across her son and sobbed. I disentangled myself and felt along his torso and legs. Nothing seemed to be broken. The boy was already pushing at his mother.
“Lie still until our friend can come check you,” I said. “He’s a doctor.”
“Oh my baby! My Noon. You are alive! Oh, Khan! Khan, you are alive!”
“Mother, please,” he said, struggling to sit up.
Spock bent down and gently pressed the boy back. “You must try not to move,” he said.
Khan Noonien Singh looked up. He eyes grew large at the sight of Spock’s ears. His lip curled back from his perfect white teeth.
“How dare you touch me, you bhangi bastard,” he hissed. He rose unsteadily to his feet and took a limping step away from Spock.
I stood and blinked at Spock in disbelief. Spock stared coolly down at Khan. I took a step toward Spock. I heard McCoy shout my name. At the same time, I heard a small pop and felt a fist punch me hard between my shoulder blades.
My breath left my lungs in one word. “Spock,” I gasped.
And I began to fall.
I opened my eyes to Scotty’s dear, worried face.
“Lieutenant Uhura? Nyota? Breathe for me, lass.” Scotty tapped his fingers gently on the side of my face.
My throat unlocked and I gasped in a huge breath. Scotty clumsily patted me on the back. Galloway and Jones looked on uncomfortably.
“What happened?” I asked, coughing.
“I don’t know, I think you fainted when the Captain and Mr. Spock went through the Guardian. We just turned our backs for a second.”
“No. No, Scotty. We were on Anachron Prime for weeks before we decided to go through together. I fell. You went through without me.”
“Did you hit your head, lassie? Where’s Anachron Prime?”
"This is Anachron Prime! I jumped through by myself. Leonard found me. Spock and I--. Jim has a family. It wasn’t Edith Keeler. It was Khan.”
Scotty looked helplessly at Galloway. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. The Captain and Mr. Spock just went after Dr. McCoy.”
“Look at my tricorder. You’ll see how history has changed.” I clicked on my tricorder.
“What happened, Captain? You only left a moment ago.”
I spun around. Jim and Spock stood a few feet from the Guardian, their faces dazed and solemn. A moment later, Leonard materialized within the circle of the portal and hopped to the ground. His eyes were blank with shock.
They were young again.
“Time has resumed its shape,” intoned the Guardian. “All is as it was before. Many such journeys are possible…”
My communicator beeped. Disoriented, I answered by reflex.
“Captain, the Enterprise is up there. They want to know if we want to beam up.”
Jim gazed at me for a long moment.
“Let’s get the hell out of here,” he said.
When we returned to the ship, the captain marched us directly to the briefing room. We had the briefest debriefing I’d ever attended. He gave us terse instructions not to speak of the events on the planet. Any reports we made would be classified. And then he dismissed us.
That evening, I drifted around my quarters touching the things I hadn’t seen in nearly seven years. I wrote a letter to my sister and my parents. I marveled at replicator tea. I yearned for Spock. I waited for him to call. He didn’t. I was about to give in and call him and my door buzzed. I jumped out of my chair.
Just as I was about to throw myself into his arms, I realized that it was Jim.
“Oh. Jim. Captain,” I said.
He smiled softly. “I’m sorry.”
“No, please come in.” I stepped back.
He came in but didn’t move from the door.
He looked around my quarters. I realized that he hadn’t been in here since he gave up this cabin so that I could have it.
“Looks nice. Your decorations are um, pretty.”
“It was kind of you to let me quarter here.”
He waved a hand. “I don’t believe in “captain’s quarters”. You deserve it. You work harder than I do. Besides, I wouldn’t know what to do with all this space.”
“Would you like some tea?”
He nodded and shrugged. “Thank you. That would be nice.”
I gazed at him. “I think brandy would be better. How about you?”
“Sure,” he said. “Whatever you’re having.” He looked relieved.
I retrieved the bottle and two glasses and sat at my table. I looked up at him. “Please sit down, Captain.
He winced at the title but sat down. He downed his drink in one gulp and I poured him another. He sipped from his glass then set it down with a sigh. He ran a hand through his hair and looked me for a long moment.
“What do you remember?” he asked.
“Everything,” I said. “I remember Leonard finding me at the hospital. I remember being with you at the Presidio. I remember falling in love with Spock.” My voice broke. “I remember getting pregnant and losing my baby and I remember having a life for seven years. I heard you speak to me on Leonard’s communicator.” I gasped a sob and covered my mouth with my hand. “And you’re not going to sit there and tell me that it was some kind of a fucking dream, Jim!” I yelled.
He nodded and stared into his glass, then pushed his drink away and flattened his palms on the table. “It was real. It happened,” he said. His face was anguished. “Please, Nyota. I can’t bear to see you cry.”
“You can’t make me forget this.”
He reached across the table and gripped my fingers. “I won’t let that happen. I will never let them bury this,” he whispered fiercely.
“I’m sorry, Jim. I’m just…wrung out. Spock…” I shook my head and looked away.
“I know. It’s ok.” He patted my hand and leaned back in his chair.
“Why don’t Scotty and the others remember going through the Guardian?” I asked.
“Maybe they jumped through at the wrong time.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Time doesn’t flow in one direction. It has currents and eddies and backwash. If they’d gone in five seconds sooner or five seconds later, maybe it would’ve made a difference. They essentially got shoved back out of the portal and landed just before we jumped through. Kind of like launching a boat just as the tide is coming in and getting washed back to shore.”
“Or maybe the Guardian spit them back out?”
Jim chuckled and rubbed his eyes. “That’s a question for Spock.”
“I don’t think he’s talking to me.”
“Give him a minute. He’s just trying to figure things out,” he said. Then he laughed again. “I’m the one he’s not talking to.”
The door to my cabin buzzed.
Jim raised his brows and smiled. “See? There he is.”
“Well, I’d better go.”
“Sit down, Jim,” drawled the doctor. He looked at me. “Hey, dollface.”
“Hey, yourself,” I said.
He held up a bottle of brandy. “I bear gifts.”
I got up and folded myself around him.
“I really missed you, Bones,” said Jim, getting up and taking the bottle.
“Pour me a drink, Captain. My hands are full.” Leonard walked me over to my sofa, sat down and cuddled me against his side. He crooned and rocked me and wiped the tears from my cheeks. “Shh, baby,” he said softly. “Oh wait.” He pushed me forward and lifted the back of my tee shirt. He pulled me back up and said, “Just checking.”
“What was that for?” I asked.
“You took a bullet for Khan Noonien Singh. I saw you fall dead through the Guardian and my heart dropped out of my body.” He settled me back in his arms. He gazed at Kirk. “All that adventure so that bastard could live.”
“Maybe,” said Jim.
McCoy shrugged. “On the other hand, we get what everybody always wishes for.”
“What’s that?” asked Jim.
“A do over. A whole life to live again. And all that great sex.” I elbowed him and he cleared his throat. “Uh, speaking of which Jim, how come you weren’t dead and how did you find us in India?”
Jim watched us with narrowed eyes. “The government,” he said, apparently deciding to let Leonard’s comment about sex go.
“Huh?” we said.
“Specifically, the military. They started asking questions when my grandson decided to go into intelligence after Annapolis and required a security clearance. They seemed very interested in me.” He grinned and cocked a brow. “Especially, one extremely bright young agent by the last name of Sulu. I knew it was a matter of time before she got to you guys. I figured they would drop it if they thought I was dead.” He looked down at his hands. “I couldn’t risk them looking too closely at Spock.”
“Did you--do you miss them terribly, Jim? Your children and grandchildren?” I asked.
He thought for a moment. “I had them for nearly fifty years. That’s a lifetime. I feel lucky to have had that. But were they ever really mine?”
“Yes,” I whispered.
“How did you end up in New Delhi?” asked McCoy.
Kirk frowned. “I don’t know. I’d been in India for a few months. I just felt compelled to go there. For some reason, I decided to try my communicator and Nyota answered. Then suddenly I was very frightened. The way I felt just before Edith…”
McCoy nodded. “I know what you mean. I was at the clinic in San Francisco and the strangest feeling came over me. I knew I had to get to Nyota.” He squeezed me and kissed the top of my head. “I had no idea that Spock would be there. Funny how he showed up, too.”
I smiled listlessly. “I’m just a man magnet,” I said.
“Or perhaps you too, were a focal point in time.” Spock was standing just inside the door.
“Did you hear a door buzzer? I didn’t hear a door buzzer,” said Leonard.
I gazed at Spock over Leonard’s shoulder. “Would you like some tea?”
“No, thank you.”
“I’ll just be going,” said Jim. “I’m glad you’re ok, Nyota.” He dropped a hand on McCoy’s shoulder as he passed and nodded at Spock.
He stopped and turned slowly back. “Yes, Mr. Spock?”
“I wondered if you would care to join me in a game of chess before you retire.”
“Yes, I’d like that.”
“Will one hour be convenient?”
“Sure, Spock. My quarters, one hour.”
“Very well. I shall see you then, Jim.”
Jim glanced back at me with a smile and left.
Leonard kissed my forehead and my lips and held me tightly for a long moment. “You know where to find me,” he murmured. I nodded. Leonard stopped in front of Spock and regarded him warmly.
“I sincerely hope that you are not going to hug me again, Leonard,” said Spock.
“Don’t flatter yourself, you overgrown elf. But you do understand that our relationship will never be the same as it was before we went through the Guardian?”
“Yes, doctor. I do understand that. We have four point two three more years to serve on the Enterprise together. Please trust that I am counting the days.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Leonard yawned. “Damn. Time travel’s exhausting.”
“Be sure to put your boots away so that you do not trip over them when you awaken,” said Spock.
McCoy chuckled and said, “I love you too, kid.” He peered at Spock again. “You look a little flushed. Get some rest.” He winked at me as he went out but before the door swished shut, I saw him frowning and counting on his fingers.
I hadn’t moved from my sofa and now I leaned my head against the cushioned back. Spock and I stared at each other. Finally, he came over and sat next to me.
“I found references to each of us in the history tapes,” he said. “Jim is a descendant of Allan Gentry through his mother’s family. Dr. Norman Lowell was a pioneer in pediatric oncology. Lily Ander corrected a mistranslation from a scroll found in Iskenderun and triggered a debate that lasted for decades about the true location of the Emperor Constantine’s library.”
“I knew I was right about that. And David Mountain Hawk?”
“Dr. Mountain Hawk has an embarrassing fortune in Swiss bank accounts that have compounded interest for two hundred and ninety-eight years. The Sloane Foundation shall be quite happy to receive a rather large donation from an unknown benefactor.”
We were quiet for several minutes, just gazing at each other.
“Will you hold me, Spock?” I asked.
He reached for my hands and pulled me across his body. His embrace was almost painfully tight. I buried my face in his chest and breathed in his scent.
“My bond with T’Pring has reasserted itself,” he said softly.
I could only nod. He lifted my chin with his fingertips.
“I will find a way, Nyota.”
“Yes,” I said. “I know.”
Happiness at Least