TWO WORLDS IN WHICH WE DWELL

Chapter Twenty-three

 

James T. Kirk took a sip of coffee and leaned back in the wooden chair he occupied, enjoying the music.  It was celebration time in Boonesborough.  Daniel Boone, the settlement’s founder, had taken an unexpected journey to the brink of death and back –  and survived.  Once the town’s inhabitants knew that, and knew he was on his feet again,  they insisted on throwing a party.  McCoy  had explained to him that it was called a ‘social’.

Kirk swallowed and glanced around.  Well, everyone was being very social.  Of course, that might have to do with the fact that both the conversation and liquor were flowing freely in the small, tight space.  Kirk raised his cup and breathed in the aroma of his coffee.  Bones had liberally dosed it with Kentucky bourbon and then left him the bottle.  He was happy.  Everyone was happy. 

Well, almost everyone.

 The captain’s hazel eyes drifted to the pair of tall, lean figures that occupied the shadows near the blazing hearth.  When he spoke with Willow, the time traveler had informed him that they would not be returned to the future until D’Ayron and Spock were well enough to withstand the forces of the time tube.  Kirk hadn’t protested.  He didn’t want to harm either man.  Inaction, however, chafed at him, and he didn’t much care for being away from his ship.  Still he knew, logically, that it made no difference.  Willow was an Initiator.  If the reed thin alien wanted to transport them back to the second before all of this began, she could.

He was actually curious where – and when she would take them.

They had been in Boonesborough nearly a week.  This was the first day all three injured men were on their feet.  Daniel Boone had, surprisingly, beaten both Spock and D’Ayron out of bed by a day.  Kirk took another sip of coffee and smiled as he watched the lanky frontiersman catch his wife and spin her around to kiss her with some passion.  Boone’s movements were careful, measured, but it was clear that – to him – the near fatal injury had been little more than an inconvenience. 

Nearby Leonard McCoy was charming the stockings off all of the ladies in attendance, especially the younger of the two Boone women.  The doctor from Georgia was in his element.  Bones cleaned up quite nicely and, in his black suit with its diamond stickpin and silver buckled shoes, cut quite a figure on the dance floor.  Kirk knew McCoy could dance, of course, but he had never seen him do the Virginia Reel.  As he watched, the surgeon caught Jemima Boone’s hand and waltzed her out from under her parents’ noses.  The elder Boones laughed and then egged them on, fully aware that their child couldn’t be in safer hands.  As Becky and Daniel clapped, and their small son kept time on a makeshift drum made of a wooden keg, Cincinnatus Jones played the fiddle.  The computer would have classed the music as Celtic or Celtic Bluegrass.  Normally, it was not one of his favorite styles, but then he had never experienced it in its natural environment.  The energy in the room was kinetic.  There was music, conversation, dancing, and mountains of amazingly good food.  All was right in the world.

Or was it?

His eyes returned to the pair cloaked in shadows.  Kirk couldn’t help it.  Spock’s revelation still stunned him.  Not that he thought Spock wasn’t interested in women.   After all, he had seen what had happened with Leila Kolami on Omicron Ceti III with his own eyes.  And though Spock had been under the influence of the spores at the time that he returned the woman’s love, there had definitely been something there in the first place.  Still, in all the time he had known the Vulcan, there had never been anything close to a relationship in Spock’s life.  Kirk thought back to the conversation he had been having with Bones the day all of this time insanity started.  McCoy was right.  Women found Spock fascinating.  That fact was reflected in the way the females of the settlement were regarding his first officer now.  The Vulcan’s pantherlike grace, his superb physical condition, and the mystique of being alien created a tidy package guaranteed to draw the female of the species like a magnet.  But Spock always seemed so uninterested, so unmoved.

D’Ayron’s Romulan ancestress must have been one hell of a woman.

Kirk shifted again in his chair.  He had demurred dancing for the moment.  His injured leg was aching and, anyway, it was more interesting to watch everyone else.  He surveyed the dance floor again, mentally ticking off a list of the attendees.  There were a few missing.  Mingo, for one.  The Cherokee warrior had returned the day before, after delivering Umbele to the home Tor’magh’s slavers had kidnapped her from.  The black woman’s part in all of this still puzzled him.  Uhura had informed him that the Klingon’s interest in her had gone beyond that of making a profit, and that Umbele seemed to play some role in Tor’magh’s thwarted plan of conquest. 

Oh well.  That was one he would have to let the library computer sort out later – if he even remembered it was a problem.

Kirk scowled.  Where was Uhura, now that he thought of it?  He had seen her earlier that morning.  She had been assisting Mrs. Boone and Mingo with preparations for the evening event.  Then, she – well, come to think of it – both she and Mingo had disappeared.  For a second worry overcame the starship captain’s curiosity, but then he dismissed it.  The lieutenant was more than capable of looking out for herself.  And if she was with the Cherokee warrior, well, maybe she didn’t want to be found.

A shadow eclipsed him, cutting off the fire’s light.  Kirk looked up to find a rather flushed Dr. Leonard Mc Coy beaming at him.  Jemima Boone stood at the surgeon’s side.  “I never thought of you as a killjoy, Jim.  That’s Spock’s role.  How come you aren’t dancing?” he asked.

Kirk smiled over his mug.  “My card’s full.”

Suddenly McCoy was all business.  “Is your leg bothering you.  I can go get – ”

He waved him off.  “I’m fine.  And how are you tonight, Miss Boone?”

She fanned herself.  “Leonard and I are having a fine time!”

“Leonard?” Kirk winked.

“That’s my name,” the doctor drawled.  “Been a while since I’ve heard it.  Nothing like an evening social to take the military out of the man.”

Kirk’s eyes roved to the shadows again.  “For some of us,” he murmured.

Bones’ gaze followed his captain’s.  The surgeon hesitated and then turned to Jemima.  “My dear, I’m afraid you’ve worn this old country doctor out.  Could you go get me a glass of punch while I sit here with my friend for a minute – so I have the energy to go on?” 

Jemima had been about to frown.  At McCoy’s final words, she beamed.  “Back in a minute,” she curtseyed, and then was gone.

“Ah, youth!” the surgeon declared, staring after her.  Then he turned back.  “So what’s going on with Spock and the other pointy-eared member of the party?”

Both Vulcanoids had taken time to shave and put on fresh clothes, and it was unsettling how much their unacknowledged kinship showed in spite of the differences.  Spock was dressed in rich blues and D’Ayron, in a suit as umber as his hair.  The Romulan was slightly heavier of build, and perhaps an inch shorter.  His hair was thicker, longer, and it rebelled against constraint.  And then there were those amber eyes.  Their presence had to have made it hard for him to climb the military ladder on Romulus, where conformity was rigidly enforced.  As did his mixed blood – even if the source of contamination was several centuries removed.  And yet Spock had said D’Ayron was a commander.  He couldn’t have been more than 26 years old.

“Earth to Jim Kirk,” McCoy said, waving a hand before his eyes.

Kirk shrugged.  “Spock said they’re family.”

Bones grizzled left eyebrow did a fair imitation of Spock’s.  “Really?”

He hid his amusement in the pottery mug.  All Romulans and Vulcans are.  You know that doctor.”

“Oh.  I thought you meant….”  The surgeon halted.  His brows knit together like needles in the hands of an old lady, and then peaked again even higher.  “Family?  How can they be family?  Jim, what is it you are not saying?”  When Kirk made no reply, his friend continued to speculate; his ice-blue eyes growing ever wider.  “I guess we are dealing with time.  Maybe in the future.  But no….  Or maybe yes!  What other explanation can there be of that blood type they share – the one with human and Vulcan factors – but that they’re…. ”

“Bones, don’t go there,” he warned.

The surgeon’s eyes went to the pair and then swung back to him.  “Spock?  With a woman?  With a Romulan woman?”  Bones leaned back in his chair just as Jemima arrived with a cup.  “Will wonders never cease,” he muttered as he took it.  Then he remembered his manners.  “Thank you, my dear.”

“Ma says it’s time for me to retire,” the girl pouted.  “I gotta…I have to take my little brother up to bed.  Will you be here in the morning, Leonard?”

Bones’ gaze shot to him.  Kirk shrugged.

“Most likely.”  McCoy rose to his feet.  He took her hand and bowed over it, and then brushed the top gently with his lips.  “Thank you for a most delightful evening, Miss Boone.”

She almost swooned.  Catching herself, Jemima turned it into a courtesy.  “Likewise,” she grinned.  And was gone.

“Charming child,” McCoy said as he retook his seat.  “She’s a real credit to her – ”  Bones’ voice faltered and then fell away to nothing.  Both grizzled eyebrows peaked.

Kirk tensed.  He’d seen that look before.  “What?  What is it?”

McCoy nodded in the direction of the hearth.  “Spock and D’Ayron.  They’re gone!  We’d better – ”

Kirk reached out and caught McCoy’s hand.  “Leave them be.  That’s an order, Bones.”  He pulled the other man down to his seat and then shoved the bourbon bottle across the table.  “Let’s make that punch the adult variety.”

 

Spock stood with his hands clasped behind his back.  He and D’Ayron had not had a chance to speak privately since the incident with Tor’magh and Unemake.  The young Romulan had been the last to recover and, as such, had been confined to his bed by Dr. McCoy until this evening when he had been granted a reprieve and allowed to attend the humans’ festivities.  D’Ayron was attired now, much as he, in colonial garb.  The dark breeches and open-necked linen shirt, along with a pair of knee-high boots, gave him the rakish air of a pirate.  His hair was still long – long enough to cover the points of his ears – but it had been trimmed to something more acceptable.  The dark umber locks were gathered into a tail and worn in the traditional manner indicated by the portraits of the time.  A black ribbon kept them under control.

The Romulan walked away from him to lean on the tavern’s porch rail and stare off into the common that served as Boonesborough’s rudimentary town square.  His shoulders rose and fell with a sigh before he turned back.  Resting one hip on the rail, D’Ayron remarked with regret.  “I suppose we shall have to say goodbye soon.”

“It is only logical.”

“You won’t reconsider…coming with me?”

“Willow has assured us the future will be as it was.  My place is on the ship, at my captain’s side.”

D’Ayron nodded.  “I wonder where my place is,” he replied.

Spock moved closer to him.  “It is wherever you choose to make it.”

The young Romulan stared at him.  He opened his mouth, but then closed it. 

“Ask your questions,” the Vulcan said.

A slight smile curled his upper lip.  “Your…gift.  I find it a…mixed blessing.”

“Explain.”

D’Ayron sucked in air, as if he was drowning.  “So much, so quickly.  It is hard to process.”

He had held nothing back.  “Continue.”

“I never…knew my father.  He died for the Empire when I was very young.  My maternal uncle assumed his role.  We were…close.”  His amber eyes flicked to Spock’s face.  “Forgive me if I intrude.  Did your father ever approve of you?”

“My father wished for me to be wholly Vulcan, as your uncle wished for you to be completely Romulan.”  The link had not gone only one way.  “The otherworld factors in your blood were generations removed.  Mine were imminent.”

“But it was Sarek’s choice to marry a human, and to have a child with her.  What did he expect?”

Spock’s voice was ragged.  His words, honest.  “I do not know.”

“But it’s why you chose Starfleet?  You couldn’t be either, so you decided to be something else?”

“Yes.  Myself.”

D’Ayron scowled.  “And you have never regretted your choice? Turning your back on the Academy?  On being completely Vulcan?  In a way, on Vulcan?”

Spock started to protest, but then he realized the Romulan was right.  He had rejected his father’s world as surely as that of his human mother.  “Questioned, yes.  Regretted?  No.”  It was a revelation to him as well.  “No, I have not.”  He let his words hang in the air for a moment, and then asked quietly, “Can you say the same?”

“You have ruined me for that by showing me there is another way….”

Spock was taken aback.  “I am sorry.  I regret if you did not desire the meld – ”

D’Ayron raised a hand.  “No.  I desired it.  I thank you for it.  What I mean is, dissatisfaction with being a Romulan, well, it seems….”  He grinned.  “It seems it is in my blood.  It is why I accepted the Initiators request that I join them.”

“How is that?”

“I thought, by creating a new, a different Federation that I would be able to fit in.”

Spock held his descendant’s gaze.  “And now?”

“Now?  Now I think that is the only place I will fit in.”

“It will not be easy, being the first Romulan to attend the academy.  The humans will not accept you at first.”

“I know.  It was not easy for you either, being the first Vulcan.”

“My path was easier.  Vulcan was a member planet.”

D’Ayron grinned.  “Maybe one day Romulus will be as well.”

Spock nodded.  The shadow of a smiled touched his thin lips.  That would be a most logical progression.”

“Mr. Spock!”

Both men turned to find Nyota Uhura hastening toward her.  She was accompanied by the Cherokee warrior, Mingo, and carried in her hands a wooden case.  It took Spock a moment to recognize it, so much had happened between the current moment and the last time he had seen it.  When he realized what it was he was overcome by several emotions, which he quickly suppressed.  One was a certain nostalgia for the life he had lived before Starfleet; the other, an unexpected longing, as if what the lieutenant held was a long lost friend suddenly returned from the dead. 

And the last?

Well, the feeling of gratitude he did not quash.  “Thank you, Lieutenant,” he said quietly as she held the case out to him.

Uhura’s smile brightened the night.  “Well, we came to Earth to make music.  I figured tonight might be our last chance.”

“What’s in it?” D’Ayron asked with interest.

The Bantu woman had taken his sudden friendship with the Romulan in stride.  “You’ll see,” she grinned.  “Why don’t you open it, Mr. Spock?”

“Wait.  I know.”  D’Ayron’s bronzed hand reached out to reverently touch the incised wood.  “The Vulcan lyrette.”  His amber eyes shifted to Spock’s face.  “I saw it in the meld.”

“Uhura tells me it is a kind of harp,” Mingo said as he stepped onto the porch.  “And that you play it well.”

Spock’s near-black eyes sparkled.  “Not so well as the lieutenant sings.”

Uhura blushed.  “We make our best music together.”

“Will you share it with us tonight?” the Cherokee warrior asked.

“Oh, I don’t know.”  Uhura listened for a moment to the strains of fiddle music floating on the breeze.  “It’s not your typical frontier music.”

“Why does that not surprise me?” Mingo laughed.  “None of you are ‘typical’.”  He turned to Uhura then and flashed a smile.  “And remember, Nyota, you promised me a dance.”

The Bantu woman beamed.  “As many as you want, mister,” she sighed.  Then, remembering herself, she turned to her commanding officer.  “Sir, what do you think?”

“Do play it.  Please,” D’Ayron insisted.

Spock hesitated only a moment.  Then he nodded.

 

Mingo escorted the small party in and hushed the ebullient crowd.  It was getting late and a change of pace was needed, he told them.  James T. Kirk watched as Spock entered, carrying the carved wooden case he had seen him pack the day the shuttlecraft Columbus had taken off.  It seemed a lifetime before and who knew, with the Initiators, maybe it had been.  With the young Romulan lingering close by, Spock sat and reverently placed his long fingers on the case.  For a moment it seemed he was lost in prayer – though knowing the Vulcan, it was more a type of meditation.  Then he opened the case and drew out the exotic looking lyrette.  Though it resembled no Earth instrument, it did not violate the Prime Directive.  Spock’s harp was older than the civilization Daniel Boone was destined to foster.  The Vulcan brushed his fingers over the strings, checking to see if they were in tune.  He adjusted a few and then nodded to Uhura. 

Their repertoire was extensive.  Kirk had heard them once or twice, when the music was piped over the ship’s intercom, but he had never had the time to simply sit back and appreciate this side of either officer.  They limited their choices to pre-nineteenth century Earth music, which left them with only such minor majors as Handel, Mozart, and Bach.  But they also performed several of what he believed were called folk tunes.  Mischievous, Uhura chose one titled ‘Black in the Color of My True Loves’ Hair’.  Kirk wasn’t sure which raven-black haired man it was meant for – Spock or Mingo – but everyone except his first officer seemed to get the joke.

The last piece they performed was his favorite.  There was no known composer, but it was old and French.  As Uhura sang, Spock caught his eye and Kirk thought he could detect just the hint of a smile.

 

                   You who interpret time by symbols rare,

                   By hushed lone seas and forests shadow-bound,

                   By all the sighings of the soul of sound

                   And omens of the soft meandering air

                   To unfrequented coasts of thought you fare,

                   And in a land of sadness you have found

                   Nature, a nymph who never would be gowned,

                   And beauty, who is also proudly bare.

                   Your pain has sung itself into my breast,

                   And hearing you, I know that tears are best,

                   But tenderness will still them when they throng.

                   So, o’er a realm whose frontiers never end,

                   To lure the sad to solace, let me send

                   Your shadow on a film of ravished song.

 

It was time to go home.