4/4/15

Into the Valley ~ Honor (#Uhura)

Previously ~ The Praetor's Son

A/N ~ This was originally published in two parts, but I now it seems best to leave them as one chapter.

Nyota pondered Amanda’s Grayson’s words as they walked back to her shuttle and headed north to Stellar Valley. And she wasn’t the only one; Amanda’s words at the end of the opera had seemed to make everyone stop and mull over the pink elephant in the room. No one looked at Spock, and he didn’t look at anyone else.

However, the silence wasn’t exactly tense. At least not for Nyota. Though she didn’t look at him, she was distinctly aware of his presence. While he radiated emotional cool, he sat next to her, and she could feel his physical warmth also radiating.

Nyota smiled, amused by the Vulcan contradiction; hot-blooded bodies with coldly rational minds.
Mr. French’s console beeped urgently, and he checked it at once. Immediately, all the blood drained from his face. When he spoke, his voice came out raspy and hoarse.

“Ambassador Mioral has been assassinated on Bolaria IX,” he announced, shaking. “There was an attack on his home in Ch’Tau.”

Amanda and Spock both leapt to their feet,

“Sarek is unharmed,” Mr. French quickly informed them, “but in the last two hours, all of Mioral's relatives on that moon have been tracked down and…terminated,” he finished uncomfortably.

“N’Tal,” Amanda whispered, panicking, “does N’Tal know?”

***

They were supposed to meet on Laidley Balcony.

They were supposed to meet on Laidley Balcony, now that the December moon was out and the clean mountain air of Appalachia was crisp and refreshing, even to a desert-born Romulan.

They were supposed to meet on Laidley Balcony, now that the December moon was out and the clean mountain of Appalachia was crisp and refreshing, even to a desert-born Romulan. They were going to have a smoke, and muse about the first time they’d met like this under the moonlight. They were going to kiss, and try to map out their near future. Jim Kirk was going to captain the USS Serengeti during combat season, and N’Tal was going to be his First Officer. They would be the scourge of the holodeck.

They were supposed to meet…but they didn’t do that.

Instead, Jim stood in the holodeck, in a scary gray room full of torches and ancient weapons.
Computer, locate Student N’Tal of Laidley House.

Student N’Tal is in holodeck 6.

That wasn’t the plan. She wasn’t supposed to be there. The weekend was over and students weren’t allowed to play in the holodeck.

But there she was.

We were supposed to meet on Laidley Balcony, now that the December moon was out and the clean mountain of Appalachia was crisp and refreshing, even to a desert-born Romulan. I was going to shiver in the winter wind, and she was going to laugh at me.

There was a mean, jagged dagger sticking out of his girlfriend’s chest now, a rude, interfering, pest of a dagger. Her fingers were still wrapped around the hilt for where she’d stabbed herself. She had stabbed herself and now she lay in a growing pool of venomous green.

We were supposed to meet….

Jim distantly heard screaming. Coarse, guttural screaming, blood-curdling screaming. He didn’t know where it was coming from. He could hear it only faintly. Even after staff members came in uninvited and dragged him from the side of his N’Tal, his beautiful, fierce N’Tal, Jim never once realized the screaming was coming from him.

***

“He screamed so much the staff had to tranquilize him after a while,” Hikaru somberly explained to Amanda, Spock and Nyota. Standing on the moonlit Promenade in his pitch black uniform, he looked like a pallid angel of death. He crossed his arms over his chest, shaking, but not from the cold.

“Why the hell would N’Tal do something like that?” Nyota exploded without thinking. Her voice and body trembled violently as she tried to make sense of it all. “She was safe here. No one was going to come all the way to Earth after her. She wasn’t even politically significant! Why would she kill herself?”

“Romulan honor,” Spock replied grimly, his breathing rate slightly increased and his eyes showing deep concern. “Where is Jim now?

“Strapped to a bed at the Nurse’s Station,” his roommate replied better. His parents have been called. The headmistress has recommended he be removed for the remainder of the semester, and they agree.”

“He is human,” Spock said confidently. “Despite this emotional setback, he will adapt, will he not?”
Amanda shook her head, saying softly. “No, son. No one simply ‘adapts’ to that.”

***

For once, there were no whispers. No one wanted to say her name. No one wanted to invoke the spirit of the first student to ever commit suicide at Stellar Valley. The teachers didn’t bring her up, and the students didn’t insist they do.

There was no outpouring of grief, which Nyota found odd. Like Spock, the non-human students simply accepted the notion of “Romulan honor” and went about their days. And the human students still had way too many negative memories of N’Tal, and honestly didn’t miss her.

For Nyota, it simply made her death all the more depressing.

Jim’s parents took him home the day after he found his girlfriend’s body. He was sedated and restrained as two staff members loaded him into a rented shuttle. The students who witnessed it remained silent; for him, they felt grief.

The rest of the weekdays passed in eerie calm; students drowned themselves in homework as the end of the semester exams arrived. When the weekend finally dawned, Nyota went to visit her boyfriend while his roommate came to visit hers.

She lay down in his arms quietly, and they didn’t speak for the longest. The only light in the room came from candles burning on his little altar. He’d been meditating before she arrived; the smell of incense hung thickly on the air.

His body was so comfortably warming, so strongly built and so solid Nyota felt…safe for the first time since the news. It was a wonderful feeling after drifting through shadowed halls and eating with silently haunted students. In fact, the longer he held her, the better she felt, the feelings growing and the warmth spreading through. In a fit of unbridled affection, she turned in his arms to face him, to press her chest to his and gently kiss his mouth.

He kissed her back immediately, and she suddenly realized it was the first time they’d kissed since their argument in the holodeck. That argument didn’t matter; she realized. Life was far too short, at least for her; Vulcans tended to live for centuries. Anything could happen at any moment. There was no point in withholding herself for ever.

Her hands slipped under his uniform shirt, and she was fleetingly amused that he still insisted on wearing his uniform over the weekend.

Strangely enough, he didn’t immediately reciprocate. She could feel his heart thudding fiercely in his side and his breathing come faster as their kisses deepened, but still, he kept his hands to himself…like a proper Vulcan gentleman.

It was quite arousing.

As their ministrations intensified, he offered a weak protest.

“Nyota—”

“It’s okay,” she murmured, kissing his throat, unbuttoning his shirt, and pushing it aside to bite at his chest. “I have an A-average, so I got my injection on Wednesday.”

“But…,” he blinked, slightly confused, “why now? It seems hardly appropriate…considering recent events.”

She laughed softly. “It’s a human thing, Spock. We don’t handle the death of a peer too well.” She pulled back from him, rose and stripped down to nothing. She didn’t miss how his mouth slightly fell open, or how he couldn’t look away. “Makes us want to assure ourselves that we’re still alive, okay?”

There was a certain…logic to what she was saying.

More importantly, there were no secrets this time, no room for argument or anger or conflict of any kind. As his hands roamed all over her, he had to admit to himself how wonderful she felt. She moaned into his mouth and started undoing his slacks.

At the first tug, the strangest thing happened; Spock suddenly remembered a conversation he’d shared with his roommate a while back about how to prevent what humans called “early arrival.”

Think of something disturbing, Hikaru had advised him. It helps to make things last longer.

Spock needed to employ that now. He was getting too excited too fast, eagerly stripping the last of his clothes and quickly pinning his girlfriend beneath him. This was a strange new level of arousal, this freedom, this knowing there would be no cries of “Stop.” It was as though his mind disconnected from his body, and then fell several minutes behind. When he thought of touching something, he soon realized his hands were already there; if he thought to kiss somewhere it surprised him to find his mouth already there as well. His body was firmly in charge now, teased and tempted for so long it would not tolerate anything short of complete fulfillment this time.

It was actually kind of frightening. He’d grown up hearing horror stories of what happens when Vulcans lost control, especially around a weaker species.

Think of something disturbing.

The most logical choice to think of what could happen if he lost control. He could imagine what it was like for his ancestors, insatiably hungry, thirsty and violent. He thought to the ancient battles he’d read about, and imagine fields of dead warriors lying at his feet.

She’s not doing this for you, you know, another voice entered his skull. It’s a just a human reaction to grief.

His blood burned, his skin seared, and his body moved all the more urgently. It made him selfishly press himself against her.

And you’re taking advantage of that grief, the voice murmured. It eerily sounded like his father. Desire of the flesh is most dishonorable. It is illogical to make love to someone who’s using it strictly as a distraction.

Nyota suddenly moaned loudly beneath him, the pleasurable sound cutting through his thoughts, through his distracting logic, reminding his body of its singe goal. All her words were incoherent save for one.

“Please.”

Finally.

Finally, the one word every young man craved to hear, the word he’d craved to hear since he’d first experienced discomfort at the mercy of her lips.

His suddenly mind flashed back to their beautiful night on the black shores of Illias Prime, after he’d dried her tears at the opera, and before they’d had their first kiss.

As affection for her surged through him, his body responded impatiently, seeking entry, and taking it once it was found. Her body resisted briefly, and she made a noise of pain—the worst noise to make around a Vulcan in heat.

He took her fully, biting her neck and shoulders as she did so. From a distance, he heard her murmur, “Ow,” and while his mind figured slowing down would be a good idea, his body merely plowed on, its movements forceful and unyielding. Beneath him, she stiffened, as if bracing herself against his repeated assault, and her body’s reaction caused him mind-shattering excitement.

Think of something disturbing, his mind rasped quickly, almost in a panic. Go back to the fields of death.

He could see them clearly in his mind’s eye now, the bleeding soldiers lying in the ancient desert. It was like something out of the poems they read in Vulcan Literature; he could smell their sweat and blood on the hot winds of his homeworld.

That probably wasn’t the best choice of vision. It spurred his body into overdrive, blocking his mind out completely as it took what it wanted, had wanted for so long. Soon his body was tensing, stiffening, tightening, and he thought his heart was going to burst out of his side.

The explosion this time outdid every other before it. It split his mind into a million pieces as he collapsed heavily upon her, trying to regain his breathing. For several moments he could neither hear nor see anything clearly.

Eventually, his senses returned, and with them an unexpected awkwardness.

What did one say after such an experience? Was there an appropriate ritual or protocol? Silence stretched tightly and lengthily between the couple, and it was seriously ruining his good mood. Spent and sated in a way no hand or mouth ministrations ever could, Spock rolled off Nyota and stared at the ceiling, wishing she would hurry up and speak.

Instead, she remained stubbornly silent beside him, also refusing to make eye contact.

Falteringly, Spock attempted conversation. “Did…did I hurt you?” It was a perfectly logical question.

“Yes,” she answered softly, honestly, making him wince. “But that’s expected the first time…for us.”

His sigh of relief was subtle. “And...next time?” he asked tentatively.

“No pain,” she assured him, “or rather, at least not as much.”

“I see.”

“Spock,” she began, and he could hear the tightness in her voice, “is this what Vulcans are like during the Pon Farr?”

Her words chilled him at once. He had not heard that term spoken aloud in years and once it had been explained to him, he had hoped to never hear it again.

Not to mention, from a human.

“You know?” he asked stiffly. “You know about…the Time?”

“Vira told me months ago, after conducting extensive research,” she nodded. “Is it like this?”

That goddamned book-reading, nose-sticking, thunder-stealing Trill! Of course she’d know! She always knows!

“No,” he bit out, not really wanting to have to talk about this. It was like having to read Kurik’s work all over again—awkward. He didn’t want to tell her. He’d never wanted to tell her. Unfortunately, lying and keeping secrets had proved most detrimental before. Above all, this he could not lie about to her. It would be not only thoroughly dishonorable, but irresponsible. “It’s much more violent.”
He felt her freeze and it made him flinch. Had he hurt her that badly this time? He noticed she wasn’t moving much. Had he sprained or dislocated something?

“Do you feel…alive?” he asked, repressing the anxiety in his voice. He could not lie; he wanted this again, was going to need it again. There was no turning back; not all the meditation and spiritual retreats could ever reverse the effects of such unbridled pleasure. Yes, it was dishonorable to accept Nyota’s physical invitation, rather than make her discuss her feelings, and yes his mother was very likely to be disappointed. But Spock was a half-human, male and hot-blooded and adolescent—he had miles and miles and decades to go before he could reach traditional Vulcan sainthood. And he wanted to live before he became a dried up old prude like his father. “Did this ease your grief?”

She burst into tears in response, rolling over to bury her face into his naked chest, weeping violently.

Okay…guess not.

“We can’t just pretend it doesn’t matter,” she sobbed. “I may not have liked N’Tal, or trusted her, or even really wanted to be around her, but she was my friend…ish. And I don’t care if she satisfied Romulan honor—she was a girl, barely older than I am, and her suicide was wrong! We have to do something, Spock! We can’t just get on with our lives—we have to do something for before we go on!”

***

“Um…hi everyone. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Hikaru Sulu of Laidley House. I want to thank you all for coming to our candlelight vigil here in the holodeck. I-I wasn’t certain it could fit so many people. Then again, I didn’t think this many would show up.

“Ahem, as you all know, James Kirk of Hodges House is on a temporary leave. I got a message from him finally. He thanks you all for your well wishes, and promises he’ll back to—and I quote—‘kicking ass next semester.’ He’s sorry he couldn’t join us, but the death of his girlfriend has been weighing really hard on him.

“Before we all go home for the holidays, beaming back to our native countries and flying back to our myriad worlds, it came to my attention from a surprising number of you that we needed to do this for N’Tal.

“N’Tal was the ninth and youngest child of Mioral and Kesala of Romulus. When she was eight, she lost her mother, the valorous Commander of a warbird. When she was nine, she picked up her first blade, mastering it quickly. And when she was ten, she saw the bodies of her eight brothers shipped home. They had died bravely at their posts in battle, and were honored by all of Romulus.

“I want to end this now by reading a poem N’Tal wrote for her brothers. Apparently, she composed this shortly before she died, as though in ominous prophecy. She shared it with Jim, and he was kind enough to message it to me this morning. She called it ‘The Bolarian Prayer.’

“Blow, blow the battle horn
I will not mourn.
For though life is lost and ended,
I am free; I am free!
I am Tiral’s Legacy, Pride of the Praetor,
of the infamous blood, green as a jeweled sea.
In our voices, truth shall carry.
We who ruled and reigned without fear or shame,
from ages past, we still endure
unshackled by senseless tyranny.
I will not mourn, for we are free.”


Next ~ Epilogue

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