At the Gathering: Reflections

Disclaimer: The usual. Paramount owns these folks, they just let me
play with them. (Oh to really be able to play . . .)

Based on Ainzfern's "Bonded Souls Series." Takes place immediately
after "Gathering Together" so you may want to go read that first.
Ainzfern's writings were my inspiration, but any fault or flaws are
my own.

With thanks to Ainz and Janet for their encouragement and critical

At the Gathering: Reflections

Nyota watched her comrades as they relaxed in the late afternoon
breeze. She liked seeing them here, at ease with each other. Always
respectful of rank, but equally familiar with the people behind their
positions. Sometimes people who worked together closely couldn't
really ever leave their work behind or were uncomfortable with each
other any other place. Not so with this group. And yet she knew
that when the next mission arose for some or all of them, it would
be "back to work."

Scotty had gone inside to change his shirt after having lost a small
battle with the barbeque sauce. She briefly considered offering to
him help him, but decided to leave the offering for later. Tiring of
listening to Leonard and Pavel play "My Georgia is better than
yours" and knowing that Hikaru would be there to mediate, she looked
at her two commanding officers. Jim was lost in an antique book of
Leonard's on the battleships of the American Civil War and Spock
stood at the opposite end of the porch watching all of his guests
with a calm appraisal from warm eyes. Or so he wanted everyone to
think. She had never seen Spock so relaxed and wondered if it were
actual or just feigned for the benefit of his guests. There was
something in his posture and his gaze that made her move to stand
next to him. "Credit for your thoughts, Spock?"

He moved over slightly so that she, too, could lean back on the
railing and watch the whole group, but he said nothing.

"You can't tell me you weren't thinking anything," she
prodded, "because Vulcans don't lie."

"No, Nyota, I would merely say that what I was thinking is not
relevant to the occasion."

She noted how Spock's stance next to her, leaning back on the railing
arms crossed over his chest legs out in front him mirrored that of
Leonard's stance at the opposite end of the big porch. She wondered
if he realized it. "Uh uh, I caught you fair and square, what were
you just thinking?"

He glanced down at her and there was the slightest twitch of one side
of his mouth. "I was recalling something from a few days ago." He
turned back to face his partner. "Leonard and I went into town for
brunch. He got up to replenish his plate and I overhead a comment
that was said about him." He looked again at Nyota lowering his
eyebrows and silently letting her known that she was to never repeat
this conversation with anyone, before returning his gaze to the
direction of his mate. "A woman about your age turned to her
companion and said, 'there ain't much meat on him but what there is
is choice'."

She let that sink in. There had been no change in posture or facial
expression, no change in inflection, but she watched wondrously as
his ears got the slightest shade greener. "Oh my, Spock, you do have
it bad," she thought, realizing too late that she had actually said
it aloud. This was met with an infinitesimal shrug from the almost
as lean and certainly as choice man at her side. "If one didn't know
better, one might think you a closet romantic."

"I am grateful, Commander Uhura, that you do know better." Deadpan.

"Yes, Captain Spock, I do know better," she said in her best
Communications Officer voice. "There's no closet about it," she

"Tsk, tsk, Nyota, pawky humour does not become you." His way of
teasing back.

She knew she was risking his privacy even more, but she could take
the 'it is not open for discussion' response that might come. But
she felt pretty sure she would never have another such opportunity to
ask, so she plowed ahead. "I know you've been together for a long
time, but how did it happen? I mean was it sudden or just happen
over the years?"

He stood silently, continuing to watch the others, and she thought he
might not answer at all. He would not have except that he realized
she was reflecting on her own relationship with Mr. Scott, as much if
not more so, than asking about him and his bondmate. Finally he
titled his head slightly. "You're asking if it was love at first
sight." A statement not a question. "Vulcans do have the concept of
love at first sight; it is called shan'hal'lak. But, my actions were
reasoned, and I suppose slow by human standards. I will admit,
however--to you--that the first time I was on the receiving end of
the full force of those blue eyes, I was not . . . . unaffected."

Nyota actually guffawed. And immediately regretted drawing the
others' attention to them. Spock stood there looking innocent, his
expression clearly telling everyone that he had no idea what Nyota
was thinking. Well almost everyone. A question came silently from
the other end of the porch. //Spock?//

//I will tell you later, Beloved.//

Breaking the silence that had followed the outburst, Leonard
offered, "Well, then who's ready for dessert?"

Nyota and Pavel immediately chimed in "I am." "Me."

"Okay, Ny, you can come help me. "

"Why me? This isn't because I'm the only woman here it is?" She
playfully challenged.

"Ny"--this from Hikaru--"Pavel . . . in--the-- kitchen?"

"Please, Lassie, save us all," joined Scotty who had returned a in
time to hear the rebuff.

She raised her hands in mock surrender.

Jim wondered "What are we having, Bones?

"You have two choices tonight, my friends. Peach crunch with vanilla
ice cream, or spice cake with peach ice cream."

"I sense a theme, Bones," Jim kidded.

"Be nice or you won't get any!"

"Spock? You gonna let him get away with that?"

"It is *his* kitchen, Jim."

"Oh, all right." He put his book aside and rose. "Nyota, take a
seat. I'll help serve dessert. Who wants what?"

Spock heard his mate as he retreated to the kitchen. //Always in
command, isn't he, Beautiful.//

//And no one here would want it any other way, Beloved.//

They talked, ate, played cards and word games, and reminisced well
into the evening. Realizing that no one wanted to be the first to
give in, but also seeing Scotty's furtive glances at Nyota, Leonard
prompted, "Oh by the way, whoever is up first tomorrow, start the
coffee and the water for tea. There's all kinds of stuff on the
counter to tied you over until we're all up and can having something
more substantial."

"Sounds good to me, Len" the Scotsman piped in, "and since I'm
feeling the effects of the long drive, good food and even better
drink, I'm offering me last toast of the evening before heading off
to slumber." Scotty raised his glass and waited for six other
glasses or cups to be raised too. "To our hosts: for their services
to the Enterprise which helped bring us home and for their
hospitality and friendship which keep bringin' us back to theirs."

"Aye. Aye." "Cheers." "To Spock and Len" and "Hear, Hear" were
chorused as glasses and cups were touched..

//To families// thought Leonard // those bonded by love and those
bonded by stars.//

//You are feeling poetic, Beloved?//

//I'm feeling grateful, Sweetheart.//

Slowly the friends said their good nights and made their ways to
their rooms. All except Spock who returned to the living room in the
equivalent of a casual Vulcan robe and carrying a data pad. He had
just settled himself at his desk when his mate padded back down the
stairs in pajama bottoms, tee shirt, and bare feet. //Spock?//


//Come to bed.//

//I will in a while, Leonard.//

//Whatcha doing down here?//

//I did not wish to disturb you. I am reading some schematics that
Mr. Scott is proposing for shuttle thruster redesign.// Yes, he
thought, it is possible to hear one's mate roll his eyes through the

Leonard came up behind Spock's chair wrapping his arms around Spock
and rubbing his nose around the sweep of the Vulcan's ear. //I'll
refrain from suggesting other *thrusters* you might give your
attention to and point out that if you stay down here you may force
two of our guests to actually sleep.//

//Ah. I am thwarting your carefully planned *opportunity*.//

//Come on, your reading won't bother me, and I'll get to sleep faster
just knowing you're there anyway.//

//Very well.//

And with that they retired to their bedroom. Leonard did fall asleep
quickly, and Spock read and revised the plans for more than an hour.
He had been careful to turn up his shields, so as to not
inadvertently overhear any conversations or activities going on in
his home. So he was surprised when he rose from the chair to put the
plans on the dresser that he caught movement outside the window. He
stood for a moment watching two of his houseguests make their way to
his lake.

//When was the last time I told you just what the sight of you bathed
in moonlight does to me?// His mate whispered gently in his mind.

Spock turned back to the bed to look at his mate, on his side propped
up on his elbow, and looking all the world like a starving man at a
feast. //And do you know what it means to me to have you here
looking at me like that?// The Vulcan's slight smile and the
Human's sly grin were exchanged. Spock crossed to the bed and
disrobed. As he waved the side lamp to down he whispered, "It seems
the knock of opportunity was answered; two of our guests have gone to
the lake."

"Skinny dipping?" came a delighted, if hushed, inquiry. "Let me see."

And before Spock could chastise or make a grab for his lover, Leonard
was up and over the bed to the window. "Well, how about that."

//Stop spying. And come back to bed.//

//I think I'll sneak out there.//


//Oh, hush, I'm not gonna stay and spy. I'm just gonna take them a
lantern, so they can see clearly to get back. I should probably take
them some more towels, too. If they took the ones from the bath,
they won't dry by morning.// This planned while donning slippers and

Realizing the battle was lost but determined to make sure that some
propriety was maintained, Spock decided to accompany Leonard, and
quickly donned his robe once more. //Should we take them a blanket?//

Leonard stopped mid-stride and looked at the one who held all of his
heart and took up part of his mind. //Good idea.//

//Not the blue one.//

//No, Beautiful, never the blue one.//

They began making their way quietly down the stairs when they noticed
light and sound from the kitchen.

"Jim? Did we wake you?'' Spock asked in hopes of not waking his
other two guests.

"No, I just came looking to see if Bones had anything to combat that
wicked hot sauce that Hikaru brought."

"Is your stomach rumbling, or your chest burning?"

"More burning than anything."

"Hold on, I got just the thing," he said going to the center cabinet
and choosing a bottle with orange tablets. "Chew two of these now,
and two more if there's no relief in fifteen minutes."

"Okay. And why are you two up?"

"Just taking a little stroll out to the lake and back, wanna tag

//Leonard you are as incorrigible as Jim is curious.//

Years of association made the look of mischief easy to recognize in
his favorite physician's face. "Sure, I'll take a walk with you.
What am I gonna find at the lake, Bones?"

"Two of Starfleet's finest engaging in the age old tradition of
skinny dipping." When he was met with a look of disbelief, he
continued, "Spock saw them from our window."

"We are going to go out, deposit these things on the dock, and come
right back." Spock said in a manner not to be broached. He knew he
could not keep them from the lake unless by force, but he was
determined to see that Scotty and Nyota were not disturbed too much.

Jim looked at the towels, blanket, and lantern distributed between
his two friends and said, "I think I'll add to the gifts so that I
can play 'wise man' too. How about I grab that peppermint drink you
have stashed in the liquor cabinet?"

"Be our guest, Jim."

"I am your guest, Bones."

As quietly as they could, the three stole down to the lake. They had
gotten all the way to the dock before it became clear to the
occupants of the lake that they had company. They watched as a
lantern and other items they could not make out with any certainty
were placed at the end of the dock.

As they three turned to leave, Jim looked back. "Carry on. That's
an order."

"And don't get chilled." Leonard offered. "I'm not gonna be happy
if I have to treat you two for colds."

Feminine giggles and a masculine groan were heard as they retreated.

"'Bout time" Jim commented.

"I had not realized that Mr. Scott was such the exhibitionist" Spock
mused quietly.

"Yeah, they should have used the back of the ground car if they
wanted more privacy." Jim playfully chided.

"Come on Jim," Leonard began, "One can be too old for the back a
ground car."

"You did not think so forty-seven point three days ago, Leonard."
Spock offered in even tones,

Jim stopped cold, whirled and halted the progress of his friends by
placing one hand squarely in the center of each chest. "Gentlemen,
regardless of anything I may have told you during the years of my
command, there are certain things I do *not* need to know."

"Yes, Captain." Came the dual response.

"Now I know I'm gonna need more of those orange tablets."

Leonard put his arm around his bondmate's waist, as they continued to
walk to the house. //Sleepy?//

//Not at all. I find the night air refreshing.//

//And if I promise to be quiet so that our good Captain doesn't hear
us . . .//

//I am sure something can be arranged to our mutual satisfaction,

//We could always use the back of Jim's ground car.//

//Tempting, but if discovered he might attempt to court martial us.
Besides, Jim leased a coupe.//

//Come on then, I know of a great big bed, not too hard and not too
soft, that ought to suit our needs just dandy.//