It was a series of sensations.
The music in her ears. The squeal of tires as she turned and saw a van skidding across the ice directly heading toward her. A cold hand against her arm that she could feel even through her warm coat as she turned to see Edward Cullen standing next to her.
His eyes were so golden that she thought she would become mesmerized by them. But then something shifted within her. It was as if feelings of love and desire and acceptance washed over her, thrumming in her brain, and a thought that was not hers—a sense that she was being missed—crossed her mind.
Her eyes fluttered open, she hadn’t realized she had closed them, and she gazed back into Edward’s eyes and she realized how utterly wrong they were. They should be dark brown, nearly black, human and yet inhuman—the thought confused her—there was a shudder and she was thrust to the side as the van hit the bed of her truck and Edward was pushing it with his hand. Her eyes widened in shock and she looked at him in fear, wishing she was elsewhere, that she was away…
It had been cold and she had been staring into Edward’s eyes. However, it wasn’t anymore. With the slightest of shifts, as if a wind was whispering against her cheek, she found that she was lying on her back and her eyes were squeezed shut. However, she wasn’t lying on the icy parking lot of Forks High. Instead her fingers gripped grass that felt strange against her skin.
“Adun’a,” a strange voice, so melodic, so beautiful, called. It held the barest hint of worry, nearly indiscernible, and she wondered what the word meant.
A hand touched her shoulder, and the presence wasn’t cold. It was oddly comforting.
“Adun’a,” the voice called again. “Please. You’re safe. I’m here.”
Then she realized that it was sunnier than it had been. Light pressed against her eyes, and yet it had been foggy and overcast when she had closed them—but she didn’t remember closing her eyes at all.
A hum pressed through her mind and she let her eyes flutter open to see a stranger looking down at her. His face was young, mature, a man certainly. His skin was smooth, perfect in a way that was different than the ethereal beauty of the Cullens, and yet was somehow more attractive and—dare her mind whisper it—dearer to her. Those eyes that she had somehow imagined less than a moment ago, dark and full of hidden emotion, were looking down at her in relief and concern, so barely discernible and yet she could somehow tell. Slanted eyebrows accented the face that was devoid of all emotion except for those eyes—those eyes—
A soft hint of lips pressed against hers and she realized she had been so mesmerized by this man’s eyes that she hadn’t realized he was leaning down toward her.
Her eyes fluttered closed at the simple show of affection, that somehow seemed so familiar to her as if she had kissed this man before—as if she had kissed anyone before—and the hum in her mind radiated contentment.
The touch lasted for several long moments, chaste and yet complete, and when he pulled away it was a few more seconds before she let her eyes flutter open again.
His gaze searched hers and she took him in.
Sounds slowly filtered toward her brain and she became aware that there were chattering voices somewhere nearby and she took a deep breath trying to center herself.
Licking her lips, she noticed that his gaze shifted down to the action before he kissed her lightly again, the contentment in her mind complete.
The grass was rough against her hand and when he moved to pull away again, she reached up and touched the side of his face. His skin was warm, pleasingly so, and she sighed against his lips before he pulled away, only to rest his forehead against hers.
“Are you hurt, adun’a?” he questioned, his voice little more than a whisper.
“I—” Her voice sounded hoarse. She licked her lips again and her fingers felt the ends of his perfectly clipped black hair and she realized she rather liked the feeling. “I think I was hit by a car.” Her brows furrowed and she looked up into his eyes when he pulled away slightly to catch her gaze. “Except—it never hit me.”
He nodded minutely. “Allow me to assist you to your feet, adun’a.”
She nodded when he moved away, her hand falling away from his face. He reached out and steadied her as she sat up and looked around in confusion.
His gaze took her in and his eyes softened, almost as if he were smiling although his lips remained in a solid line. “We are not on Vulcan.”
She looked at him in confusion, a clear question on her face, and he elaborated:
“We are in San Francisco.”
Blinking, she stared at him for a long moment and took in the scenery. It seemed they were in a park, she was indeed sitting in the grass and somewhere behind the man who was kneeling beside her were people in strange clothing—almost uniforms—walking along a sidewalk.
“San Francisco,” she repeated, trying to figure out what happened. “I—that’s not possible.”
At first he did not answer and he offered his hand. The hum in her mind continued, warm, comforting, tinged with the slightest bit of possessiveness, and she didn’t even think before she took his hand and rocked slightly as she tried to catch her balance. When she thought she was on her feet, she released his hand despite the feeling of pleasure that seemed to center where their fingers touched, and then stumbled. Immediately, he caught her and she looked up into his warm, deep brown eyes, thinking that she had been stupid all these weeks—Edward Cullen was a boy compared to this beautiful creature who now held her in his arms.
“Are you well, adun’a?” he asked.
She looked down at her right leg which, strangely, was stinging (how had she not noticed before?) and she grimaced. “I think I fell wrong.”
He nodded and took her in again, the same warmth and affection in his gaze. “Allow me to assist you to Medical.”
She thought that was a strange way to refer to a hospital or doctor’s office, and she squeaked in surprise when he lifted her into his arms as if she weighed little more than the air they breathed. The hint of smugness shivered into her mind, and somehow she realized this was what he was feeling—he was somehow in her head—and yet she couldn’t seem to mind. After only a moment’s hesitation, she wrapped her arms around his neck.
“I don’t think it’s that serious,” she murmured, still a little confused and dazed by everything that had happened the last few minutes.
“Would you prefer to limp across campus?” he asked stoically, yet somehow she thought he might be teasing her. “I would, of course, comply with your wishes, but as your bonded mate it is only logical that I assist you.”
Her lip caught between her teeth as she thought about what he said. She pondered his words for the longest moment and wondered what a ‘bonded mate’ was, but chose to keep her silence.
She breathed out and felt the hum of protectiveness and warmth wash over her as the man carried her across the park, buildings springing up in what seemed to be some sort of campus. Everyone was either wearing matching deep red shirts and pants in what seemed to be a uniform (the women wore a mini skirt in the same color with long sleeves) while others wore black in the same designs. This man, whoever he was, was wearing black, and she wondered what that meant.
Her eyes drifted to the side of his face and widened when she realized that his ears were—pointed. They were utterly strange and fascinating and—She swallowed. This was utterly bizarre.
The memory of the van skidding toward her flashed before her eyes and she realized she was probably dead and had ended up in some strange afterlife where everyone was in uniform and—that woman had green skin and red hair and it looked like it was entirely natural and not some form of advanced movie-quality cosmetics.
The man looked down at her and murmured, “You are distressed.”
“Am I?” she whispered as she licked her lips again as her throat was suddenly dry. “Am I dead?”
At her words, he paused and gazed down at her, his beautiful eyes nearly unreadable and yet she sensed distress and worry and the slightest hint of realization. “This is the first time you have seen me, adun’a.” It wasn’t a question. It was a statement of fact.
“I,” she cleared her throat and glanced away from those unearthly and yet human eyes. “I—I was in Washington. And—And—” She looked back up to him, his pointed eyebrows, “and not in a park in San Francisco. I’ve never even been to California—and your ears are—oh, my god, I think I’m having a psychotic break.”
His face was utterly emotionless as he took her in and at first she thought he wouldn’t answer as he just began to walk again, although he changed directions slightly. Attempting not to panic, she clutched to him tighter and tried to tell herself to breathe, although unfortunately that didn’t seem to help.
She hadn’t even realized he had stopped or that the chatter had increased minutely until he was lowering her to sit on the edge of a fountain. Reluctantly, she let go of his neck and her hands fell to her lap, only to have him crouch in front of her and take her hand.
The same tingling pleasure erupted in her fingers and she breathed in deeply, looking up at him as he waited patiently for her to come to herself.
“I met you when I had roughly twelve stardates,” he began to explain carefully and her eyes widened in shock.
“Stardates?” she murmured.
“Yes, Isabella,” he answered her calmly, using her full name. “A stardate is roughly one Terran year. You, at the time, possessed nineteen stardates.”
She blinked and stared at him, her mind trying to catch up. “I’m seventeen.”
Shock registered through her mind, but he only nodded. “You possess the ability, adun’a, to travel between your home and, well, what I thought was Vulcan—however, you appear now on Terra.” He looked down at their hands. “You’ve never told me what planet you are from, only that it is vastly different.”
Not certain what to do or say, she whispered, “Planet.”
He gazed at her for a long moment. “You once told me that your planet does not have interstellar travel.”
Licking her lips again, she looked down at their hands. “No, it doesn’t.” Planet. Strange. He said that they were in San Francisco— “This planet has—interstellar travel?” she asked carefully.
“Affirmative,” he replied. “As does Vulcan, my home planet.”
“How am I here?” she questioned then, still confused.
“I understand that you arrive when you are in danger. You described it as a ‘tug’ toward our bond—toward me.”
This did not make sense at all. Bella took in a deep breath and looked at him for a long moment. “Why do I believe you?”
“Because I am your—husband,” he told her. “You can feel when I am lying and when I am telling the truth.” He reached up carefully and touched her temple. “Our minds are linked through a telepathic bond that was placed within our minds on the day of our—marriage.” It was clear, whoever this was, her husband, knew about this strange hum in her mind and she nodded once.
“Who are you?” she asked in a small voice. “I—I don’t know who you are. I didn’t know there were—other planets.”
No shock showed on his face, and yet she completely trusted him.
“I mean,” she amended, “I know there are other planets. It’s just—life on other planets.” With her free hand, she made a motion to indicate the wider world.
His two hands, both of which were holding hers, his thumb rubbing circles against her skin, tightened minutely in reassurance. “I am Spock, Son of Sarek.”
The name resonated within her and she felt contentment that she did not understand and yet, it felt so right. “Spock,” she whispered, reaching out gently and touching his cheek. “Spock.”
Bella took a deep breath and then nodded. She glanced around her and looked at everyone, many were catching glances at the two of them and she wondered why. Returning her gaze to Spock, she nodded again. “We’re married.”
“That’s how I know what you’re feeling even if your face doesn’t show it,” she checked again, searching his eyes. “It’s an—extraterrestrial—bond.”
“It has been in place for many years,” he agreed factually. Spock seemed to hesitate and then he murmured, “I know you do not know me. I also know that this is unprecedented for you. As I understand it, you are the only person to your knowledge who possesses this ability on your home world, but I ask that you trust me and that you allow me to take care of your needs while you are here with me.”
His eyes were so earnest, so pensive, a hint of fear rustling down their bond, and she reached out for him again and touched the point of his ear in both curiosity and in order to reassure him.
At the touch, Spock shivered. “Our ears are erogenous zones, adun’a.”
Immediately she dropped her hand as if burnt, glancing away.
The sound of chatter and water rushing filled her senses as neither spoke for the longest moment.
“I am, however, gratified when you touch them when we are in private.”
Her eyes whipped to him and she saw him looking blankly back at her, his eyes warm with affection.
“Why is everyone looking at us?” she murmured, leaning in toward him.
“There are many explanations. The first is that you are dressed as neither a cadet nor an officer.” That would be the uniforms then. “The second is that I am not only speaking with you but I am touching you intimately.”
“You are holding my hand,” she stated in confusion.
“Only mated Vulcans engage in such an activity and always in private.” At her shocked look, he continued, “I have not seen you, however, adun’a, for nearly three stardates and I would feel your hand against mine. I would show you my love for you.”
Biting her lip, Bella looked down at their hands and nodded. “I can feel it—in my mind. I felt it when the van was rushing toward me and I thought I was going to die.”
“I would do all within my abilities to prevent such an actuality,” he promised her, his eyes teasing, just a glimmer, but still enough for her to read. Spock stood and brought her up with him. She was slightly unsteady and she was reminded of the pain in her leg. “With your permission, adun’a.”
Glancing around once more, she sighed and looped an arm around his neck and he picked her up smoothly.
Contentment hummed through her and she placed her face against his chest, listening to the steady beat of his heart.
Spock was efficient and quick. Although he seemed to walk at a relatively normal gait—unlike Edward who had been across the parking lot and then right beside her, which must have been a trick of the light or memory, perhaps—he had a long stride.
Bella only looked up when they approached a building made of large blocks of sandstone, a door gliding open and she walked into a place that was so technologically advanced, that she was beginning to believe that if she was neither dead nor having a psychotic break, she was clearly somewhere other than the planet she’d grown up on.
Immediately striding over to a counter, Spock waited until a receptionist, dressed entirely in blue, looked up.
“Commander Spock,” he informed her. “My wife is injured.”
“Name?” she asked, turning to a thin screen that she was holding.
Having never seen anything like it, Bella’s eyes widened as the receptionist touched the screen and it seemed to change.
“Lady Isabella of the House of Surak,” Spock informed her and Bella tried to hide her shock at the name. She was, of course, named ‘Isabella’, although she hated it, but she had never heard of the ‘House of Surak’ or held any title before.
The receptionist hummed and then nodded.
Someone wheeled over what seemed to be some futuristic wheelchair and Spock turned and placed her in it carefully. He then signed the futuristic screen, and she was taken away into something that was white, sterilized, and clearly a hospital although it didn’t smell of antiseptics, fortunately.
There was a thrum of separation and she glanced over her shoulder to see that Spock was now making his way toward her, and immediate comfort washed over her.
As if sensing her worry, he hurried his step and came to walk beside her, his hand placed reassuringly on her shoulder.
Everything was a blur as she was brought to a bed and Spock was once again lifting her and placing her on the bed. He touched her good knee in reassurance and she smiled up at him despite her worry.
The chair was placed in the corner and it was only then that Bella realized there were no curtains between the pristine beds, giving her and Spock no privacy. He stood beside her, a quiet presence, and she took a deep breath.
“You are worried,” he murmured. “There is nothing to fear although I know you dislike getting medical treatment.”
She grimaced at that, realizing that he somehow knew her. “It’s not that,” she told him. “I’m worried about Charlie—he won’t know where I am.”
Spock looked at her, adoration washing over their bond, and she realized for the first time that this man genuinely loved her, and yet she knew nothing beyond the fact that he was named ‘Spock’ and he was from somewhere called ‘Vulcan.’
“I am certain,” he murmured, “that you will reassure him, adun’a.”
Glancing up at him, she asked, “What does that mean? Adun’a?”
“Wife,” he responded, the same affection rushing through her. “It means ‘wife’ in my native tongue.”
“I—see,” she answered, confused at his devotion.
“You always told me you didn’t like the name ‘Isabella,’” he responded, his voice informative and not accusatory.
She smiled slightly. “I don’t.” Why hadn’t she ever told him to call her ‘Bella’? Frankly she was too confused to ask him to start calling her by the nickname.
Her response seemed to be satisfactory.
It was less than a moment later that a tall, broad-shouldered man with dark hair and dark eyes—who seemed to be human—approached in a blue uniform. It was strange that he wasn’t wearing a labcoat. He was mumbling to himself as he looked at one of those strange screens that fit nicely in his hand as he came up and took in the unlikely pair.
His eyes flicked between them before looking back down at the screen. “There seems to have been a clerical error. I was informed I was treating a Vulcan female.” His accent was southern. American southern. Bella was on earth—not just a place that seemed to be like earth and had similar names—this was earth—and yet it wasn’t. She took a deep breath and glanced at Spock.
“Lady Isabella is Vulcan,” he responded coolly.
The doctor looked at him and then again at Bella. “Not genetically.”
Spock, however, didn’t respond and simply took him in.
The doctor turned to her and nodded in greeting. “Lady Isabella, this is a matter of your health.”
“Right,” she responded and took a deep breath. Her options flittered through her mind and she wasn’t certain she should admit that she was human. She wasn’t even sure if people even used the term ‘human.’ That could be dangerous. What if there were differences? Where was she anyway? An alternate dimension? Taking a deep breath, she lied, “I know nothing of my parentage, heritage, or—uh—” She looked at Spock. “Planet.”
“Can you tell me which planet?” the doctor asked curtly, tapping on his screen.
“Er,” she responded, not sure if she could even say ‘earth’ without sending up a red flag.
Sighing, the doctor placed his screen to the side. He came up to her and went to a tray of instruments and removed one that kind of looked like a futurized weapon.
She immediately shrank back in fear and Spock’s hand was in hers instantly.
“Is that necessary, doctor?” he asked calmly, his voice nonetheless full of danger, which was strangely sexy—a thought that surprised Bella. “My wife injured her leg. We require only that you examine it.”
The doctor ignored him. “Lady Isabella,” he said gruffly said. “Your life could be at risk if Federation records are inaccurate.”
Bella glanced between the two men in confusion. She had no idea what the ‘federation’ was.
“Just give me crutches,” she decided, licking her lips.
Spock turned to her, worry coursing over the bond, and she gave him a shaky smile.
“This happens all the time. You know I’m clumsy.” She hoped that would reassure him.
The doctor grumbled and put down the gun and picked up something else before approaching her. She tensed as he ran it an inch or two above her clothed leg after Spock indicated which one. “Sprained knee,” he informed her. “What happened?”
“Car accident,” she replied without thinking.
Looking up in confusion, the doctor asked, “What’s a car?”
Bella didn’t know how to respond. She was asked to change behind a screen she hadn’t noticed, taking off her jeans and worn trainers, before putting on a hospital gown. Her knee was skinned and blood had trickled down her leg and Bella was surprised she hadn’t even smelled the blood, let alone the fact that she hadn’t fainted.
When she came out with the help of Spock, the doctor lifted an eyebrow. “A Vulcan with red blood? Fascinating.” However, without so much as another word, Bella was injected with something called a hypospray, the pain ebbing away from her knee immediately, and her skin was regenerated.
She was definitely having a psychological break of some kind.
The two walked out not half an hour later and she looked up at Spock, who was over a head taller than she was. “Vulcans don’t have red blood?” she asked in astonishment.
The slightest hint of amusement entered her mind, and Bella realized that it was Spock’s.
“You have always asserted, adun’a, that you appreciate my green blood.”
Her eyebrows rose in surprise and then she smiled as she realized there must be some strange story behind it. Wrapping her hand around his arm, she pulled herself close to him. The increasingly familiar sensation of contentment washed over her, and she hoped that she would always feel it from this day onward.
“Where to?” she asked.
“Are you hungry, adun’a?” he asked as they began walking back across the campus. “It is well past lunch. I am, in fact, to dine at the Vulcan Embassy.”
She paused and he stopped, looking down at her. “I—I have no idea what people eat here.” Wherever here was. The idea was utterly baffling.
He leaned in. “I promise I will not feed you fish.”
Looking up at him, she was mildly confused. It was true that she was sick of it what with Charlie constantly bringing home his catch and the two of them eating it—but how did Spock know?
Amusement lit his eyes, and then she realized that perhaps, just perhaps, he already knew her, that somehow she was traveling through dimensions or alternate universes, and that she was his past while he was her future, and they were somehow finally finding each other.
“Well, then,” she decided. “I’ll hold you to your word, husband.”
Affection and satisfaction filtered through her mind, and she smiled up at him. She had just acknowledged what he said they were to each other, and although he was a stranger, and she was somewhere beyond her comprehension, she found that she couldn’t regret almost being hit by that van earlier that day.