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Let Me Be Her, by Galadriel (Rated R)

Let Me Be Her

by Galadriel

Rating: R, for sexual situations {The NC-17 version is available HERE}
Genre: Drama, hints of romance
Archive: Soval’s Annex
Disclaimer: Star Trek: Enterprise is the property of Paramount Pictures, Inc. All original material herein is the property of its author.

Summary: Soval, the new Ambassador to Earth, feels a failure in his post, and cannot banish his grief for his recently deceased wife. When the pon farr returns, he gladly prepares for death—until he is confronted by someone with a dissenting opinion, and a compelling proposition.

Thanks to the Vulcan Language Dictionary (http://www.starbase-10.de/vld/), and to my betas.

Date: 10-16-06

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Let Me Be Her

August 2120
Vulcan Embassy
San Francisco, Earth

Soval felt it gradually, inexorably, in the unexpected flashes of heat and shortness of temper, in fitful sleep and easily distracted wakefulness. The pon farr was returning. And for the first time since he had lost T’Hayal a year ago, he was glad she was dead. Now, with no bondmate to quench his blood fever, he could let the fire consume him, and find peace at last in death.

It was logical. He had served little useful purpose since he had taken his post here as Vulcan’s Ambassador to Earth, having been unable to persuade either Starfleet or the High Command to view the current situation from a more objective perspective. The humans, eager and defiantly fearless, remained determined to explore far beyond their system as soon as possible. The High Command was equally as determined to keep Starfleet tightly reined in, technologically hampered, psychologically browbeaten—the better to keep humanity from steamrolling over Vulcan en route to supremacy in this quadrant.

Soval found himself caught in the middle, between his desire to obey the directives of the High Command, paranoid though they were, and his wish to nurture the potential of the humans. They were so like brilliant, naïve children, unprepared to venture out into deep space, where they would encounter species who had no interest in establishing friendly relations—species who were conquerors, or elitists, or simply disagreeable. Soval counseled caution and patience, and was quickly labeled “Ambassador Cranky” by the humans, who attacked him for being intractable, even as the High Command rebuked him for being too conciliatory. Privately, he felt an utter failure.

After navigating this sea of discord each day, Soval would return to his living quarters on the outskirts of the Vulcan compound, where a far worse torture awaited him: life without his ashal-veh, his beloved T’Hayal.

Loneliness is not logical. The thought would come to him as he gazed across the shadowy, quiet rooms each evening, hoping they would feel less empty. T’Hayal had never lived here, after all; Soval had buried her on Vulcan, the day before he had accepted his new post from the High Command and boarded the transport for Earth. But sixteen light-years had proven insufficient distance to escape his grief. Even after a year, his mind and heart felt cavernously empty without her presence...and his bed was cold without her warmth nestled against him. While most Vulcans regarded mating as a distasteful necessity to be endured every seven years, Soval and T’Hayal had been among the few who took pleasure in each other’s bodies and indulged often in lovemaking. In the months since her death, Soval had been haunted by memories of her touch, her kiss, the exquisite feel of their bodies moving together in perfect rhythm. He had come to Earth in a desperate attempt to fill the bottomless void left by her loss, yet he felt himself falling deeper toward oblivion with each frustrating day, and each agonizingly lonely night.

Once in a great while, he would find a glimmer of solace amid the unending strife. There was Lt. Commander Forrest, a rising officer at Starfleet with viewpoints similar to his own, who understood Soval’s concerns and his cautionary advice. There was Henry Archer, the young warp theorist developing the Warp Five engine for Starfleet’s future fleet of deep-space exploration vessels. Archer, it could be argued, had more at stake than anyone in the launch of Starfleet’s first Warp Five starship, and more reason than most to dislike Soval; but he seemed to understand the razor’s edge on which the Vulcan ambassador was so delicately balanced, and accepted the delays and roadblocks with admirable grace.

And there was T’Shara. She was a xenohistorian assigned to the embassy staff to help compile data on humans and Starfleet for the Vulcan database. She had arrived from Vulcan three weeks ago, quite young, and newly widowed as well; her bondmate had been killed on patrol in a border skirmish with the Andorians. Soval found her astonishingly attentive to detail and remarkably observant, but still beset by grief and vulnerable to displays of emotion. He put her on his personal staff at once, giving her an office of her own within his suite at the embassy and letting her come and go as she pleased. T’Shara was grateful for the privacy her new situation afforded her, and she proved a diligent and productive worker. After a few days of acclimation, she began to accompany Soval on his meetings with humans, be they Starfleet officials or ordinary citizens, to better observe her subject. She would virtually melt into the background, a silent, watchful presence in her somber robes, absorbing everything she saw and heard, then often remaining in her office long into the night to compile and record the data she had gathered.

But these brief moments of harmony were few and fleeting, ultimately reminding Soval only of what he lacked. When the pon farr began to manifest, he saw with stunning clarity the solution to the problem of his meaningless, joyless existence. He could even appreciate the elegant simplicity of it. For the next several days, during those periods when his faculties were sufficiently clear, he prepared for his departure. He wrote recommendations for each of his staff members, drew up detailed instructions on the operations of his ambassadorial office, outlined his stance on various issues, and made lists of his many contacts in Starfleet and around the city, filing all the information away for future discovery by his successor. As his physical condition deteriorated and his emotions became more difficult to suppress, he would increasingly seclude himself in his private office, delegating his appointments to members of his staff, categorizing the assignments as hands-on experience in diplomacy. He attempted to meditate, seeking some semblance of balance, but meditation succeeded only in summoning sensual and seductive visions of T’Hayal, which quickened his symptoms rather than quelling them.

A week into the pon farr, as Soval was returning from the embassy to his living quarters at the end of a particularly restless day, he was struck with a sudden fever and dizziness, and his hands began to tremor uncontrollably. Thankful for the sheltering cover of nightfall, he hurried unsteadily the rest of the way home. Once safely inside, he had only to glance in the small entryway mirror to confirm his suspicions: it was the plak tow, the blood fever. His skin was flushed olive, shining with perspiration, and his entire body was trembling. He could feel the heat spreading through his system now, simmering like a slow flame. It was happening more quickly than he had anticipated, too quickly.

He was so dreadfully hot now, he could hardly even think. He stripped down to his thin underrobe, flinging the rest of his clothes aside. He no longer had time to make arrangements for a pleasure craft, as he had planned; he would have to make do with the small motorboat tied up at the landing down on the beach. Five kilometers out to sea would be far enough, he determined. Even if instinct compelled him to attempt to swim back to shore, he would be too weak in his present condition to survive the—

The door chimed. Soval scowled in irritation. He didn’t want to see anyone. He ignored his caller, attempting instead to concentrate on the note he was writing, informing any reader that he would be dead by the time it was—

The chime sounded again. “Go away!” Soval snapped, not looking up from his letter. It was becoming difficult to write; he was confusing human and Vulcan characters. Cursing under his breath, he cleared the padd’s screen and began again. To my colleagues—

The door swung open. Soval never locked it, of course, but unannounced entry was a severe breach of protocol nonetheless. He flung the padd aside in outrage, preparing to throw the presumptuous interloper out in similar fashion—until he saw that it was T’Shara.

As he stared at her in mute shock, he saw her take in his appearance with a single sweep of her sharp gaze: his sweat-soaked underrobe, his trembling hands, his face flushed with the fever. “I suspected the plak tow was imminent when I observed your heightened level of discomfort today,” she said.

Soval still wanted to throw something. He glared crossly at her. “The staff knows, then.”

“No,” T’Shara countered. “You have concealed your condition fairly well, Ambassador. They have attributed your outbursts of emotion to the stress of being immersed among the humans for too long. No other Vulcan has been posted at the embassy for more than three months.”

She was coming closer. Soval could already feel his body responding to her physical presence, which highly irritated him. Mustering every ounce of effort, he backed away, putting distance between them. “But you know of my condition.”

“I observe.” She was still approaching him.

Soval continued to retreat, until he was trapped against the wall. “I commend you on your powers of observation. Now leave me.”

She halted, but to his growing frustration, she did not exit. “What you are planning is not logical.”

Soval felt a rush of panic. Was she secretly a melder, as he was? Had he let her touch him, and thus sense his intentions? He couldn’t remember. It was becoming so difficult to think... “Now you presume to read my thoughts?” he growled dangerously.

“I observe,” T’Shara said again. She indicated the haphazard pile of papers and padds on his desk. “Information on seagoing pleasure craft—a pasttime to which our people are not at all agreeable.” Calmly, she faced him once more. “A great deal of new data has been entered into your files over the past week: recommendations for staff members, office procedures, and the like. Also, since you have no mate, you would naturally have made...arrangements...at the initial onset of symptoms; yet you did not.”

Soval felt his blood beginning to course like liquid fire through his veins. The sensation of the impending madness used to hold excitement for him, rather than fear, for he knew T’Hayal would be there to quench his fire. Now he detested the rising heat, the burning, the mindlessness that was overtaking him. It held no meaning now, without his ashal-veh. He despised his body for betraying him, simply because of the nearness of a female...

...Although, aside from her annoyingly accurate powers of perception, T’Shara was not a disagreeable female. Strange that he had never noticed until now how fair of countenance she was, how graceful of bearing. He had seen the endless sadness in her eyes, and never looked beyond it—

By Surak, she was barely a meter away from him again! When had she moved closer to him once more? He put out a hand to ward her off, as he would one of those bothersome little dogs so many of the humans kept as pets. “When a thing no longer functions, it is logical to discard it.”

Pulling on a travel cloak over his light underrobe, he barreled out of his quarters, grateful for the bite of the cool night air on his burning skin. He made for the wooden stairway that led down to the beach.

He was exasperated, though hardly surprised, when T’Shara followed him. “If you believe yourself to be ineffective here, Ambassador, then I submit that your logic is faulty,” she said flatly.

Of all the insolence! Soval started down the steps, not even looking back to see if she would follow him. Of course she would follow him. “You know little of the situation,” he shot back acidly. “Starfleet and the High Command are intent solely on antagonizing one another. My efforts to foment useful discussion have only made matters worse; now the humans are convinced that my purpose here is to serve as an obstacle to their every objective. They are immature, short-tempered, short-sighted—”

“The humans have worth,” T’Shara said with conviction.

Soval stopped, still a few steps from the beach, his already disordered thoughts jumbling into one another. “Why do you say that?”

She halted on the step above him, looking him squarely in the eye. “Because you believe they have worth, and you are a wise man.”

The intensity of her gaze was electrifying, enticing, dangerous. The moon, rising above the buildings behind her, cast a silver aura around her slim form. Soval wanted to turn away from the arresting sight, but he could not.

She drew nearer to him. “Ambassador, so few Vulcans see the strengths of the humans—their courage, their determination, their ability to adapt. The High Command dismisses them, or fears them. But it is in our people’s best interest that the humans do reach the stars. They will benefit from your advocacy, even if they themselves cannot see your worth—even if you must conceal your views from the High Command.”

The scant portion of Soval’s mind that still clung to sanity saw logic in her argument. But that part of him was already shrinking away, seeking shelter from the coming madness. The fever was flaring, setting him aflame. His blood sang in his ears, demanding satisfaction. But the ever-present ache in his heart cried out for T’Hayal, refusing to accept her absence or her loss. There would be no stilling that desperate, white-hot keening this time. In the face of such an inevitability, nothing else mattered...not the humans, or the High Command, or even T’Shara, beautiful and desirable and tantalizingly close.

With a groan, Soval wrenched himself away from her, stumbling dizzily down the rest of the steps to the small private beach set aside for use by embassy personnel. It was deserted now, as it almost always was; hardly any Vulcans ventured down here, the cool temperatures and moist sea air proving too disagreeable to a species that had evolved on a desert world. “Surely such a resilient people as this one will succeed without the assistance of an alien they find so unpleasant,” he said dismissively.

“Is that the voice of the Ambassador to Earth?” T’Shara asked. “Or that of his grieving heart?”

Soval turned and stared at her through the deepening green haze of the fever. He felt suddenly naked under her sharp gaze, far more vulnerable than the pon farr had rendered him. It was disquieting to be read so easily by one who was not his mate...but, oddly, he felt relieved to have been discovered at last. “Your powers of perception are keen enough to see my shame,” he acknowledged.

To his surprise, her expression was one of understanding rather than accusation. “If that is what you believe it to be, then it is my shame as well,” she said. “The sorrow I see in your eyes is the same as the sadness I see reflected in my own. You...miss her.”

Soval felt his heart’s pain resonate with T’Shara’s words. “Yes,” he confessed. He turned in an unsteady circle, feeling out of place, with a strange starscape overhead, and an even stranger ocean stretching away to the horizon. “Every Vulcan is taught how to grieve: contemplate the loss, accept the loss, celebrate the life of the one lost. Then the grieving is done, and the heart is whole again. Presumably.” Dark sarcasm entered his voice. “I suspect that the elders who set down those meditations never experienced the loss of a bondmate.”

He turned to regard T’Shara once more, and imagined that he saw the barest hint of an amused smile touch the corners of her lips. Then he was seized by a powerful burst of heat from the fever. It seared him like a bolt of sandfire lightning, screaming for release. A sharp stab of need shot through him, doubling him over with its intensity. He collapsed to his knees in the sand, gasping, craving, agonized.

T’Shara was at his side in an instant, bending over him, her deep brown eyes filled with concern. “Soval?”

He held his pounding head in his hands. “Don’t you see? Without T’Hayal, I am worse than useless, for I don’t know how to be without T’Hayal! I cannot serve as a voice of logic if I cannot find peace in my own heart!”

She knelt beside him, reaching a gentle hand toward his face. “There are paths other than death to the peace you seek.”

He reared back from her in sudden rage, slapping her hand away. “If you are referring to that contemptible practice whereby a woman is compelled to prostitute herself for the sole purpose of servicing a man’s mindless lust during pon farr...” He shook his head in disgust. “I have never subscribed to such mistreatment of women, nor will I.”

T’Shara arched an eyebrow at him. “Then how were you planning to survive each pon farr? Assuming, of course, that you would choose a method other than suicide?”

Soval glowered at her. “Meditation would serve, through the worst of the fever. Enough to avert death.”

“But, surely, there would be...lasting discomfort,” T’Shara said delicately.

“If you are volunteering to debase yourself, I refuse you,” he said stubbornly. Why would she not simply leave him alone in his misery? She was not T’Hayal. She could not help him.

“You need not be concerned for my honor,” T’Shara said mildly. “I am neither an altruist, nor a vessel of passive self-sacrifice.”

He peered fuzzily at her. “Why, then?”

“We are much alike, Ambassador,” T’Shara said evenly. “I have meditated diligently, endlessly...but my grief remains as fresh as the moment Sobek died. I miss him still.” She shut her eyes. “I can see him clearly with my mind’s eye...I hear his voice, feel his touch...” Her breath began to quicken, and her face flushed.

Soval realized she was imagining herself with her bondmate in intimate circumstance...something he himself had done, when his loneliness became too great to bear. He had thought his behavior anomalous until now. The sight of her, as she indulged in her fantasy, was mesmerizing—and arousing. He could not tear his gaze from her.

With a shiver of unfulfilled desire, T’Shara locked her gaze onto his again. She looked beautiful in the moonlight, her cheeks still colored, her dark eyes shining. “Forgive me,” she said, in a manner more alluring than apologetic. “Though Sobek and I were bondmates but a single year, our physical relationship was...intense.”

Her words evoked vivid images of T’Hayal in Soval’s mind...her body entwined with his, sharing all manner of sensual pleasures. He felt an overwhelming wave of hunger for his ashal-veh as he remembered. Was T’Shara trying to seduce him or torture him? “So it was between T’Hayal and myself,” he said.

“Then you understand.” T’Shara’s voice was lulling him like the soft susurration of the waves lapping against the shore. “The emptiness I feel is not only in my heart and mind, but my body as well. I am weary of the emptiness.”

Soval could feel the familiar ache of longing for T’Hayal even now, the old fire that he had never been able to quench. But T’Shara was not T’Hayal...

“We are two of a kind, Soval,” T’Shara said softly. “Passionate people who were robbed of our mates, but our passion remains. We are both in pain, both in need.” She was close now, close enough for him to feel her tempting coolness next to his heated skin. “If you truly wish to die, you will resist me. But consider the alternative. We can help each other ease the ache.” Her breath was soft against his lips. “If you will be my Sobek, I shall be your T’Hayal.”

A tiny part of Soval’s fevered mind objected to the impropriety of her offer, even as his body responded to it with a hungry surge of desire. A low moan of protest escaped his lips, before he managed to find his voice. “I do not wish another bondmate.”

“Nor do I,” T’Shara said. “I wish only to give you the peace you were denied, and for you to give me the same.” Her voice dropped to a seductive whisper. “If you close your eyes, you can still see your T’Hayal in your mind, can you not? You can hear her, touch her...” She grasped the collar of Soval’s outer robe, pulling him against her. “Close your eyes, Soval,” she urged. “Let me be her.”

He could feel T’Shara pressing herself against his thin robe. His entire body was trembling with need for her, overwhelmed by her nearness, her scent. His breath came in ragged gasps. Could he do this?

Could he not do this?

He squeezed his eyes shut, banishing the sight of T’Shara’s dark brown gaze. In his mind, T’Hayal awaited him, her pale blue eyes warm with affection.

He heard T’Shara’s voice, as if from far away, barely more than a breath carried by the cool sea breeze. “Let me be her...” Then he felt her lips against his, a light caress. It was the first time he had felt a woman’s touch in a year. A powerful wave of desire passed over him, spreading from his lips throughout his body. T’Hayal smiled at him—the smile she gave to him alone—and beckoned to him. She was so beautiful, so alive. He wanted her, needed her...

He gave in to the fire and desire, and took her.

Grabbing her, he kissed her savagely, forcing her lips open with his tongue, invading her mouth. She moaned as she returned his kiss hungrily, with a desperate need of her own. He felt her loosen the sash of his thin robe and pull it open; then her hands were moving over his chest. He kept his eyes shut as he pushed her down onto the sand.

Clothes, there were too many clothes between them. Soval tore open the layers of her robes, one by one, until he felt smooth, creamy skin under the heat of his fevered hands. With his eyes still closed, he could see T’Hayal beneath him, feel her breath on his face as her legs locked around him. Above them, the glowing silver orb to the east was no longer Earth’s moon, but Vulcan’s sister sun T’Kuht. The moist sand shifting beneath their bodies was not pale beige, but the fiery orange of his homeworld, hot and dry.

His need was overpowering, unstoppable. He felt her hands on his back, her nails digging into his skin, urging him on. And even as she fed his body’s need for her, she was also cradling his heart, bereft and broken since he had lost her, and mending it with her love, making it strong and whole again.

Now they were moving in unison, rushing headlong toward release. He felt her back arching as she pressed her head into the soft sand, her body convulsing with pleasure. In the same moment, he joined her, burying his face in her shoulder. For an endless instant, they both rode the waves of rapture together...and Soval felt T’Hayal’s sweet memory setting him free from his anguish and loneliness at last.

* * * * *

T’Shara didn’t want to open her eyes.

Her Sobek had returned to her, back from the cruel oblivion that had stolen him away so suddenly and so soon. She had pulled him fiercely to her, conveying with her body all her anger and frustration and sadness, her longing and her love. He had held her close and answered her, communicating without words, using touch and taste and passion to fill her emptiness and heal her aching heart, as their shared rapture rose and burst forth.

As T’Shara descended from the dizzy height of her ecstasy, she clung desperately to her beloved, trying to keep him with her...but Sobek was already fading from her mind’s eye. He took her face in his hands and kissed her softly, one last time...and then he was gone, and she was alone again, except for her memories. But now, she realized, it was different. The sadness was gone. For the first time since she had lost her mate, T’Shara felt peace in her heart.

Rom-halan, sh’ashal-veh,” she whispered into the darkness. Good-bye, my love.

She felt Soval’s weight easing off her hips. The cool sea air wafted across her skin, making her shiver. Slowly, she opened her eyes. He was kneeling above her, his robes still thrown carelessly back from his body. He was a striking-looking man, despite being well into middle age—lean and handsome, powerfully muscled. He was still flushed with the fever, covered with a fine sheen of sweat, his silver-streaked hair clinging to his damp face. He would need her again soon.

But...would he want her?

His eyes remained firmly shut. Still with his T’Hayal, she thought. What would he see when he looked upon her? Would he still be in his dreamworld, and see his wife? Would he merely see T’Shara, and be disappointed? Or would he be mindless with fever, and see nothing but a faceless female, a body to be plundered at his will?

T’Shara felt suddenly inadequate, lying exposed on this alien beach with this great man above her, consumed by memories of his dead wife. She had an insane urge to leap to her feet and escape, before he returned to the here and now. But she lay still, trying to calm her breathing, and waited.

A residual shudder passed through Soval as he opened his eyes at last, blinking back to awareness. He looked down at her, his brown eyes still bright with the fever, but lucid for the moment. She willed herself not to move as his gaze took in their naked bodies. His eyes rose to meet hers. “T’Shara.”

His voice was soft...but with tenderness or disappointment, she could not tell. He pulled her into a sitting position, wrapping her robes around her. “You’re cold,” he said. “My quarters are warmer...” He hesitated, looking touchingly uncertain. “If you...”

“Yes, Soval,” she said, with relief.

They dressed each other, and Soval brushed the sand from T’Shara’s hair. They climbed the steps to the compound without speaking, proceeding to Soval’s quarters as any two co-workers would, walking side by side.

T’Shara was surprised to see that the living quarters of the venerable Ambassador to Earth were little different from her own: spare and understated, modestly furnished. Soval ushered her into the bedroom ahead of him. As T’Shara stood before the neatly-made bed, she heard a rustle of fabric behind her, then felt his heat on her back, even through her robes: he was already naked. His arms slid around her, unfastening her sash, slipping off her robes. Then his chest was against her bare back and his hands were exploring her body. She rested her head on his broad shoulder, steeping herself in the pleasure. He turned her head and captured her mouth with his, thrusting deep with his tongue.

He took her from behind this time, bending her over the bed, his passion rising wildly, out of control. Afterward, he collapsed over her, gasping unsteadily, clinging to her. T’Shara held him until his racing heart finally calmed and his breathing slowed. At last he straightened, turning her to face him, but he could not meet her eyes. She was struck by the unguarded play of emotions on his face: fear, embarrassment, gratitude.

She didn’t understand at first...but then she realized: This is his first pon farr without his bondmate. He was four times her age, yet more uncertain than she was at this moment.

Instinctively, she reached up and touched two fingers to his damp, fevered cheek. He flinched back, startled, but she persisted, giving him a gentle, reassuring ozh’esta.

Gradually he relaxed, leaning into her touch as he ran his hands lightly down her arms. When he brushed his fingers against her breasts, she gasped softly, and he looked pleased. “I haven’t forgotten you,” he said, his voice low and sensuous. He bent down to nuzzle her cheek. “Sha’vaksurik-veh,” he whispered. My beautiful one.

T’Shara shivered as his words settled over her. As he kissed his way down her body, she threw her head back, losing herself in the incredible feel of him. He was eliciting sensations in her that she had never felt in her life. Moreover, the act of pleasuring her was itself arousing to him. She was inordinately pleased that he found her so desirable. Whether it was because of the pon farr or not was irrelevant. If only for tonight, he was hers.

* * * * *

T’Shara opened her eyes, squinting against the morning sunlight. She was confused by the uncharacteristic brightness; her bedroom faced westward.

Then she sat bolt upright, remembering. Soval—the pon farr! Was he—?

“I am here, sha’vaksurik-veh.” He was lying beside her in the bed, propped up on one elbow, watching her.

She turned to him, not bothering to hide her concern, touching two fingers to his cheek. “The fever...”

“Gone,” he said softly, placing his hand over hers. It was true: his coloring had returned to normal, and his skin was comfortably warm under her fingers.

T’Shara felt an overwhelming rush of relief. A tiny smile betrayed her before she regained control and suppressed it. “I am glad.”

Soval’s warm brown eyes sparkled with amusement at her display of emotion. “As am I.”

Now she was surprised, and even more pleased. Fifteen hours ago, this man was plotting his own death, but now... “Indeed?”

He nodded. “You proved most persuasive last night. And my heart is at peace. I am in your debt.”

“We assisted each other,” T’Shara responded modestly. “I, too, am at peace with my grief. I shall ever be grateful to you for that.”

They regarded each other in silence for a moment. “Will you be going to the embassy today?” T’Shara asked at last.

Soval shook his head. “I must meditate. There is much for me to re-evaluate.”

T’Shara studied his face, but it was unreadable. She found the situation maddeningly ironic. After a night of being able to read his emotions so easily, she could discern nothing now. No doubt he was referring to his role as ambassador...but could he be speaking of her as well?

She could still feel echoes of their intense night of lovemaking. Though Soval’s condition had necessarily made him a frenetic partner, he had also been generous, skilled, and creative. They had not been apart for more than a few minutes at a time; when her body craved rest, she had fed his unquenchable desire with her hands and mouth. The night had left her exhausted, sore, sated...and profoundly changed.

It was not only her compassion for this man she so highly esteemed, and her need to ease the ache in her own heart; T’Shara was beginning to realize that her night with Soval had touched her far more deeply than she had expected. She had seen his vulnerability and fear, felt his tenderness and passion, been the recipient of his trust...

...But he did not wish for another bondmate. Likely he considered her little more than a child. The pon farr had been purged, and that was the end of it. She must accept it. But she knew she would have difficulty doing so...if she ever succeeded at all.

“I shall leave you to your meditation, then,” she said, rising from the bed. Suppressing a sudden self-consciousness regarding her nudity, she retrieved her discarded clothing from the floor. “I will return to my own quarters to prepare for the day.”

“I shall escort you.” Soval began to get out of bed as well, but T’Shara held out a hand to stop him. The last thing she needed at this moment was to see his handsome, nude body.

“There is no need, Ambassador,” she said, keeping her voice even. “Please...rest.” He nodded and settled back, and she escaped into the bathroom to change.

- - -

As he waited for T’Shara to dress, Soval rose from the bed and pulled on a robe. There was indeed much to re-evaluate. Last night’s events had enlightened him regarding his life’s work, his past, his future...and T’Shara. She had helped T’Hayal’s memory set him free...she had renewed his interest in his task here on Earth, reminding him of the difference he could make, despite the challenges he faced...and she had given herself to him, freely and completely, to save him from the fever.

If he allowed her, she could easily capture his heart.

But she did not wish another bondmate. He had already lived over half his life, while she was just beginning hers. It was illogical even to consider the possibility.

Yet he found himself considering it anyway.

* * * fin * * *

Two folks have made comments

This version was nice - I like both. The more graphic version was exciting, but this one is just as emotionally satisfying.

I haven't read the more graphic version and probably won't . . . this one was a satisfying read on its own. I like the way you ended it too; it seems in keeping with the Vulcan character.