Bella breathed out as she entered the elevator—or turbolift—in front of her husband. She was still trying to let her mind grasp that one, but she just tried to center herself.
“These are officer quarters,” Spock told her simply as the elevator, which hummed, opened to a nondescript floor. “The cadets are across campus.”
“The cadets are the ones who wear red?” she checked, glancing at Spock and admiring how truly handsome he was. Bella wondered why he was with someone as nondescript and plain as her, but she had mostly convinced herself that she would wake up in the hospital—in Forks—and this would all have been one strange dream.
“Affirmative,” he answered, placing his hand at the small of her back. “As always, I have your wardrobe from Vulcan so you may be more comfortable.”
This confused her slightly but she simply nodded and waited for him to enter the security code. The door slid open to reveal a comfortable if stark living room with a couch and a table along with several bookshelves. The room was comfortable and she immediately slid off her coat and looked for a place to put it.
Spock, as if sensing her thoughts, took it and placed his hand on a button on the wall, and it opened to reveal a small closet.
He looked over at her as she stood in the middle of the room, glancing around.
For the first time he seemed hesitant but then, as if deciding, he took two firm steps toward her and took both of her hands in his. The pleasurable sensation flickered across her fingertips, and Bella smiled at the strangeness of it.
“Adun’a,” he murmured, and she looked up into his beautiful, deep eyes, waiting. “When you arrived, you allowed me to kiss you.”
“Yes,” she agreed carefully, uncertain where this was going.
“You did not know me,” he stated carefully, and her brows knit. “Is it customary on your planet—?”
Then it hit her. There was wariness and the slightest hint of jealousy. However, outwardly he was completely calm and underneath it all was that wonderous sensation of affection and love.
She blushed and looked down at their hands. “I was dazed at first,” she admitted, “but then I realized that it was as if I had kissed you before—and I could feel you somehow in my mind. You’re—Spock,” she blushed even harder. “No one’s ever kissed me before you.” Her deep brown eyes flicked up to meet his pleased gaze.
“I hope, then,” he whispered as he took a small step forward, so that they were breathing in the same air, “that it was a satisfactory experience.”
“Very satisfactory,” she agreed carefully, trying not to laugh at the strange way he phrased things. She didn’t understand it, and yet it was like a balm to her soul. It wasn’t like the nice backstabbing or hissed insults and sexual inuendoes from kids her age. It was something else, something fresh, something honest. “I don’t suppose we’ll have a repeat.”
Pleasure flitted into her consciousness and she looked up at her husband, wondering how that had ever come about, and he lifted their hands up and entwined their fingers, drawing her closer.
“It would be remiss of me to deny such a reasonable request,” he told her factually and then she was suddenly swept up into another kiss, but this one was stronger, firmer, and she moaned as she fell against him and wrapped her arms around his neck, his hands smoothing down to her wrists.
The kiss turned slow and she breathed out through her nose as she was flooded with sensation. A smooth wet tongue flitted out to her lips, licking along the seam, and she carefully opened her mouth, and she moaned. Ready to pull away in embarrassment, Spock however immediately wrapped his hands around her waist and pulled her flush against him and coaxed her tongue into sliding against his.
Heady emotions she couldn’t even identify flooded through her and she was so overwhelmed, uncertain what she was feeling and what was coming from him, that her knees gave way.
Spock immediately caught her and the kiss only broke for them to breathe before he was once again kissing her with a sweetness and fullness Bella had only ever read about.
They only broke apart when there was a chiming from somewhere, and Bella looked around in confusion.
Running his hand through her long, windswept hair, Spock sighed—which was oddly emotive for him—and indicated she should take a seat while he went to a screen that was on the wall.
As Bella took a seat, she watched him as he pressed a console and the face of a beautiful, Black woman appeared in cadet uniform. Her face was thin and her hair pulled back and Bella realized this must be some alien form of a telephone call.
“Professor,” the figure greeted, “forgive me for disturbing you.”
“I hope there is a reason for a holoconference as opposed to a textual message, Cadet,” he responded, his voice perfectly polite and calm. However, Bella could feel his annoyance that they had been disturbed.
The cadet on the screen showed no reaction except to blink. “I know you have been on Terra for quite some time, but I wanted to invite you to dinner after our appointment tomorrow as I know there are no other Vulcans at the Academy.” Her eyes fluttered and Bella was immediately suspicious.
She’d seen that look before. Jessica often sported it when looking at Mike.
Spock’s confusion washed over Bella and she quickly scanned through their interactions.
He was worried that she had kissed someone other than him, that she would so readily kiss him even though—as far as he knew—they were married. Also, holding hands was apparently an intimate gesture on Vulcan, and given how it felt she could certainly understand why. People had also been watching them not only because Bella was clearly out of place, but because he was interacting familiarly with a woman.
If Vulcans were so private, everyone probably thought he was single.
And Spock didn’t realize that this—cadet—seemed to be asking him out on a date. The realization was not necessarily surprising to Bella. Spock was gorgeous—and he was so caring—anyone would want him. Surely it had happened before.
But if any form of affection for Vulcans was private—maybe they didn’t have the same dating practices.
All this flashed through her mind in a moment, and Spock was immediately responding: “There are several Vulcans from the Embassy and others posted in the greater San Francisco area. However, their presence or lack thereof is immaterial.”
“Of course, Professor,” the cadet returned and took a deep breath. “I would like to have dinner with you.”
Well, that was certainly direct, Bella thought. She wondered if it was common for not only women but students to ask out their male professors on Terra.
The familiar confusion swept through Bella, indicating what Spock was feeling.
“We can adequately discuss your project during our scheduled appointment,” he returned factually, clearly not getting it.
Bella felt the first sliver of true affection for him slip through her. She had been immediately attracted to him, she liked him, and she was grateful, but this was frankly adorable and cute. Bella herself was clueless when it came to guys. She didn’t understand why Mike and Ben were all over her at school, but this was—strangely—attractive—this cluelessness.
A question reached over the bond and Bella could tell that Spock sensed her emotions and she smiled to herself.
The cadet, however, wasn’t finished. “I believe socialization would be beneficial.”
This was going to continue for quite some time if Bella didn’t interrupt. Suddenly she wished that the bond included messages, if he could tell what she was thinking, and her him, but that didn’t seem to be the case.
“I could be wrong,” she stated, entering the conversation and hoping that she wasn’t overstepping in this strange new parallel universe she was in, “but I believe she’s asking you out on a date—even though she’s your student.” Bella wasn’t certain what the rules were here.
She looked over at her husband of a matter of hours, and he glanced over his shoulder toward her.
Behind him, through the screen, she saw the cadet blush and realized that Bella had definitely been right. She hadn’t been imagining it. Well, maybe that boded well for Bella’s survival in high school—if she ever returned to Forks.
Spock, however, was not looking at the screen and his curiosity and confusion filtered into her mind. “I do not know the exact implications of the term, adun’a.”
For some reason, the cadet’s eyes widened. Bella was a little confused, but she smiled softly at Spock. Choosing her words carefully, she told him, “On my home planet, a ‘date’ is a—meeting—between two people that has romantic implications. It can be anything, but is often a meal.” She bit her lip, a little uncertain. “Did I explain that well?”
Affection shone out of his eyes and Bella felt relief.
“Thank you, adun’a,” he told her, a wash of gratitude slithering into her thoughts. Turning back to the screen, he responded, “If that was your intention, Cadet Uhura, I must decline.”
Looking to the side, the cadet seemed to be embarrassed. “Of course, Professor,” she rallied. “I apologize. I did not realize you were bonded. Please pass my apologies to your bonded mate. It was not my—intention to impose on either of you.”
He nodded in recognition. “I will see you for our appointment.”
Disheartened, the cadet responded, “Of course. Have a good evening.”
The screen went blank.
There was a moment of silence as Spock turned to her and Bella looked back at him quite openly. “She somehow knew I was your wife—” the meaning of the word ‘adun’a’ returned to her “—she speaks your language.”
“As will you,” he responded as he came over to sit beside her. “I gave you a padd to teach you several years ago and we have had many conversations in Vulcan. However, when we first met, you spoke to me in Standard.”
Confused, she asked, “Is that what we are speaking?”
“Affirmative,” he responded, his eyes dark and entrancing. “I never understood how you spoke it when you come from a planet that does not have interstellar travel.—A planet that is not a member of the Federation.”
Wondering where she was for the countless time, she responded, “I have no idea.”
“I have often theorized,” he told her quite carefully, “that your planet was somehow colonized by Terrans at some point early in your warp history, and then the knowledge was lost or somehow destroyed. It is the only explanation.” After a moment, he added, “Standard is derived from a Terran language.”
Well, she didn’t think that was the answer, given that known history was at least six thousand years old, at least according to Judaism. However, she wasn’t going to refute it.
It was only after several long minutes of silence, when she simply leaned against him to have his hand run through her hair, that she noticed a shimmer of glass on the shelf. Somehow, she was confused by it. There were so many objects she didn’t understand, but this one somehow intrigued her. Getting up carefully, she glanced at Spock before standing and walking over to it. It was a shard of glass, thick, about the size of her hand, standing up perpendicular. However, it held an image.
She gasped when she saw it.
Bella felt Spock’s presence behind her and he wrapped his arms around her. “I captured that image seven years ago, on the day we formalized our bond. I wanted to always hold a reminder of you, even when you were off planet.”
“I—I normally hate pictures,” she admitted, taking in her own face, her hair swept underneath a beautiful veil of lavender, her eyes bright, a smile on her face. “I never thought of myself as beautiful before—but there—”
“You were indeed beautiful that day, as you always are,” he agreed, clear love in his emotions. “Perhaps I should tell you little of it, however, as you don’t remember.”
“How old are you?” she asked curiously. “It’s just—I’ve never met a Vulcan before and I—you seem twenty-five?”
“I have twenty-eight stardates,” he replied carefully as she turned and he let his fingers run through her hair.
“You seem to have—” She was confused how to put it. “Isn’t your rank high for a twenty-eight year old?”
“Affirmative,” he told her.
“And you’re in the military?” Bella questioned. “Why?”
“I belong to Starfleet, of the United Federation of Planets,” he responded softly, no ire in his emotions, only patience and love. “Their mission is to explore space and make contact with other planets. I joined, adun’a, in hope of finding you.”
Their eyes held and she felt such adoration coming from him that she was both confused and yet glad that someone cared for her—Renée never seemed to care for her more than as a casual friend and Charlie, Charlie. She still couldn’t quite figure him out.
Without thinking, she grasped his shoulder and leaned up on her toes, only to have his head bend down and capture her lips once again. Wherever she was, Bella was beginning to think that she could stay here forever, just to bask in the love and devotion of this man.
She breathed him in and he picked her up and carried her laughing into the next room, only to lay her on the bed and resume his kisses until another chime went off, this one different, and he pulled away, all beautifully mussed, whispering in her ear that it was time to get ready and he had a social engagement at the Vulcan Embassy.
Bella thought he would leave her there and sighed when he pushed himself from the bed, only to have him offer her his hand, and pull her up.
Of course, Bella had never liked dresses, but these Vulcan robes were stunning. After staring at the beautiful jewel colors, afraid to touch, Spock had come up behind her and chosen a sky blue outfit and then pulled down what seemed to be undergarments and a scarf. It took Bella far too long to get ready, uncertain how anything fit or worked, but Spock was patient and helped her, even going so far as to secure her hair in several wiry pins before placing a veil over her head, letting it flow down her back. There were even sandals that were almost like boots in a strange way, that Spock explained were for the desert world of Vulcan.
As they left, he whispered that the code to his room was ‘1987’, which was the year she was born. She kissed him lightly for the compliment, and felt gratitude through their bond.
“I never informed the Council or my Elders the identity of my wife,” he told her carefully as they got into a hovering vehicle that was clearly something out of a science fiction movie. “I never sought to hide you, but you are only the twelfth non-Romulan to bond with a Vulcan—the only Terran intermarriage was between my own parents.”
She looked at him and questions filled her mind.
He clearly sensed her emotions because he explained, “It is extremely rare for Vulcans to intermarry with other races.”
“Your father did, however,” she checked.
“Affirmative,” he agreed. “He would, however, disagree with my choice.”
Feeling disheartened, she looked down at her lap and was relieved when his hand slipped into hers.
“I am not ashamed of you,” he promised sincerely and she looked over at him, feeling utterly lost. “I would never be ashamed of you.”
They soon came to the Vulcan Embassy and Spock stepped out first, offering his hand to her. The people on the street did not look at them, perhaps accustomed to Bella’s strange Vulcan attire, and Starfleet seemed to be quite prolific based on the number of officers and cadets she had seen on the street.
Just before they came to the door, Spock handed her a card that was pure black and she looked at it before they entered the revolving glass doors of a building made almost completely out of glass and mirrors.
Immediately they had to sign in at the desk, Spock taking out a card and sliding it through a machine that was small, compact, and clearly streamlined.
The guard, a Vulcan male with a similar haircut to Spock’s but in nondescript clothing, looked up and said something in a language Bella didn’t understand. He had the same pointed ears, the slanted eyebrows, and the formless expression. His eyes, however, were hard as he looked at their joined hands.
Spock, however, paid no mind and led her forward and indicated the machine. Taking her card, Bella copied the action.
The guard took her in and said something, and she almost thought he called her ‘Isabella’ in a strange accent she couldn’t quite understand.
Nodding on her behalf, Spock led her forward and they were allowed to enter.
After walking down a long hallway, the couple came to what seemed to be a hololift and there were several individuals waiting. They all had similar black hair, the pointed ears, and were wearing robes of thick material in various shades of browns and gray. Bella wondered at her own clothes which seemed to be made of a lighter fabric and brilliant colors.
Three turned to look at the young couple, so out of place among them, and one man looked pointedly at their hands.
Bella simply stared him down, wondering if he was ever going to blink, but the elevator fortunately came.
As they were the last to enter, Bella and Spock were at the front. He had released her hand to let her enter, his fingers drifting to the small of her back to guide her.
She glanced over at him in question, and he turned to her, his eyes a depth of dark brown, nearly black, almost purple. “Ask, adun’a,” he addressed her and several of the Vulcans behind them shifted.
Smiling slightly, she stated simply, “You never quite said who we were meeting.”
“I did not,” he agreed, amusement shining through their bond and she smirked at him.
“I’ll return the favor sometime. I’m sure I can think of something if necessary.” The thought of bringing Spock home to Renée amused her. Her mother would either hate Spock for taking away Bella’s attention or adore him for simply being male. Then again, come to think of it, Renée seemed to like younger men. This could be a problem.
Curiosity swept through her, a gentle tingle, and she simply shook her head. Bella was certain she could explain her scatter-brained mother some other time.
The turbolift opened and she was the first to exit at a look of acknowledgement from Spock that this was, indeed their floor, and she swept out, trying not to trip. Somehow, these sandals helped her balance.
She felt Spock’s hand on her back as he led her into a warmly lit hall to where a female Vulcan stood, her face lined, her pale brown hair cut in a similar style to Spock’s, and in robes of a deep maroon.
Her expression was blank and her eyes were still and dark. Bella couldn’t tell what she was feeling or thinking at all, which bothered her slightly.
“Elder,” Spock greeted as he tapped Bella on the back to indicate that she should stop. He nodded his head toward the woman and she nodded back. “May I introduce my bonded mate, Lady Isabella of the House of Surak?”
The elder turned her gaze specifically to Bella and took her in. “After all these years, I see that you produce your wife.” Her voice was cold, calculated, and Bella wasn’t certain if they had just been insulted. The woman indicated the door to the side and Spock simply led Bella toward it.
There was a table set for two, low to the ground, and Spock took her elbow and set her beside one of the plates before he kneeled next to her although there was no place setting for him. The elder moved smoothly into the room and sat across from them.
No one spoke and Bella glanced at Spock who was taking in the elder, wariness bleeding through the bond.
Another Vulcan came out, dressed in a tunic of sorts and wide pants, and set a place in front of Spock, rearranging the table.
Still, no one said a word.
When some sort of vegetable casserole that was utterly alien to Bella was placed in the middle of the table and they had all been served, Spock finally asked, “Why did you request my presence, Elder?”
“It is illogical to pretend ignorance,” she responded carefully, picking up a vegetable laced with gravy with her bare fingers.
Bella looked down and realized that they didn’t have utensils.
“You did,” the elder continued after she had chewed and swallowed, “after all bring your bonded mate so that I could report back to the Matriarch of our Clan that you were unavailable for an advantageous bond.”
Anger stirred in Bella’s stomach as she realized what was going on. She wasn’t angry at Spock, she was pissed at this woman who thought she could control her husband and dictate their relationship.
Pride swelled in Spock, which she could feel, and she realized that he was responding to her emotions.
“He is very much unavailable,” she told this woman. “Don’t Vulcans believe in marrying for—” sudden uncertainty gripped her, the emotion her own, but she continued “—love?”
“I would not expect a Terran to understand,” the elder dismissed and anger, both her own and Spock’s, roiled within Bella. Before she could retort, however, Spock spoke:
“My bonded mate is not Terran.” Spock’s voice was emotionless, although Bella could feel everything that he experienced. He picked up a vegetable and ate it delicately, not getting even a drop of gravy on his fingers, which surprised Bella. “You will give my message to the Matriarch, although I have relayed it myself on numerous occasions.”
“With what planet did you align yourself without the consent of your father or the Matriarch?” the elder inquired. “Lady Isabella is clearly not Romulan.”
There was that term again, one that Bella did not understand. It must be another race. Species. Alien. Something.
Spock looked at the elder with hard eyes, his emotions suddenly going cold. “It is illogical to pursue your own prurient curiosity, T’Pol.”
Logic. Again. Bella would simply have to figure out why they kept on bringing it up.
She picked up something that clearly wasn’t broccoli and placed it in her mouth, the strange flavor erupting on her tongue and almost causing her to cough.
She took in a deep breath through her nose and wondered if licking her fingers would be considered rude, considering neither Spock nor the elder had done it. However, she couldn’t find a napkin. This was certainly a conundrum.
Somehow, she found this very funny and Spock’s eyes slid over to her, in obvious confusion.
The elder did not speak another word for the rest of the meal, and Spock declined tea on their behalf, escorting Bella back out to the turbolift. The doors had barely closed on them, a stray Vulcan in the back corner, when Bella burst out laughing.
“What was that about?” she asked in mirth as she turned to Spock who was regarding her coolly, although his eyes were lighting up.
“I do not comprehend you, wife,” he returned casually.
“Are you some renowned bachelor? How eligible are you?”
His eyes were smooth and a beautiful brown.
At that moment the lift stopped and Spock pulled her to the side and the lone Vulcan exited. As soon as he was gone, the turbolift resumed and Spock suddenly pushed her against the wall, his breathing shallow and his eyes sparking.
Emboldened by the desire Bella felt coursing through both of them, she smiled at him widely, wondering what had happened to the shy Isabella Swan. However, she couldn’t possibly care when he swept down and captured her lips in a searing kiss. She hoped there wasn’t some sort of security camera, but then again, Bella reasoned as she lost herself in Spock, married couples surely did this all the time.
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