Aug 202009

Prologue | I | II | III | IV | V | VI | VII | VIII | IX | X
Title: Zahvan T’Masu
Co-author: diane_kepler
Fandom: ST TOS
Characters: Starek, Spock, Skye, Amber, Cash, T’Nis
Rating: M
Warnings: Shower. Angst. Exits.
Notes: It never ends the way you think it will. It never ends the way you hoped it would. Morning comes a’calling, and it’s time to go back home.

Cash is driving on the return trip. Skye, full of jam and starches, has predictably fallen asleep against Amber and complains in her small, sweet way whenever her surrogate teddy bear tries to disengage.

"We’re back," Amber pokes Skye as the car glides into the garage. "Wake up."

She blinks and sits up, with a yawn and a stretch. "Are we okay?"

"Cash and I will see. Go have a look for Khart-lan. You know all his usual hiding spots."

Skye takes off her shoes at the garage door and trails away, calling softly.

"I don’t know why you baby her like that," Cash grumps at her.

Amber rounds on him. "Yeah, I know. How bizarre to see some honest compassion in this house."

"I only meant—"

"I know what you meant, you misogynist prick." She jerks her head. "C’mon. She’ll be in the control room."

T’Nis is, in fact, exactly where Amber predicted, long hair swept into a chignon and wearing daytime clothes in a bruise-colored pallette. Her fingers connect rapidly with the interfaces, so that the sequence of action onscreen is almost too fast for the humans to follow.

"We’re back," Amber says, matter-of-factly. "Can we get you anything?"

T’Nis does not look away from the screen. "Yes. Espresso, scalding. And Cash, finish the rough edit. I’m going to look for appropriate comm nodes."

Amber turns and heads back towards the kitchen. T’Nis’s little lapse will not be mentioned, of course. The Vulcan will arrange for some workers to come in in tomorrow or the next day and everything will be back to its usual state of deeply flawed perfection.

She measures coffee into the machine and sighs. Maybe after tonight, when that precious footage is released, they’ll all finally be able to relax.

Spock exhales as the reality crashes down, pinning him like a small creature on a dissecting tray.

"I must leave immediately. My effects are at the transportation hub in Lancaster. And my next stop after that must be at," and he swallows, "my father’s residence in San Francisco."

"Immediately. You mean, like, right now." Starek shuts down, visibly, extracting himself from the tangle of limbs and bedclothes. Blank-faced, he steps off the bed, stiffly, to sort through the clothing on the floor.

"And walking into the worst of your own problems, too, I see. But, what must be must be." He tosses Spock’s clothes onto the foot of the bed. "If you want a shower, I’m certain you can find it."

Starek sinks, gracefully, to the floor, legs crossing on the way down, landing with his elbows on his knees, and his head in his hands. "I have to make this stop, now. I’ll be just a minute or two. Nothing goes according to plan. Everything falls apart, and the falling apart falls apart. I’m not sure if this is better or worse than the last time Merendith had to put my guts back in, but I’ll tell you it feels about the same."

Still dazed, Spock reaches for him. But his fingers close on nothing. Starek is on the floor, head in hands, before Spock even realizes what has happened.

Starek sits straighter, closing his eyes, running the backs of his hands down his arms, breathing deeply. Spock lies perfectly still during his lover’s brief period of — meditation? No, it is not. For it has not left him relaxed when it ends. When Starek stands, after two minutes, he seems stiff, brittle, and cold.

"If you wish, we will stay in orbit, and you can take one of our beacons, just in case you need us to save you from the horrorshow I suspect is coming." Starek opens a drawer, and pulls out a small, black box. "Take it anyway. If you want me for anything, hit that button. Maybe I’ll be close enough to hear you."

"Yeht-veh, please." Spock is standing now, palm out. "I desire nothing more than to stay here with you. And immediately is not . . . we have some little time left to us."

"K’diwa, you’re going to break my heart. That’s the way this ends. And maybe, one day, when the world can look the other way, you’ll come back to me, but what am I to do in that time?" Starek feels his control coming apart, and it’s the feel of strained muscle tearing, that he knows so well. It’s illusory, but he feels it in his hands, his arms, his chest. "I can put it all away. I can say it doesn’t matter, until I believe it.

"And more than that? I deserve it. I set you up. You know that." A thin smirk of self-disgust appears, and Starek rubs the back of his neck with one hand, and reaches for Spock with the other. "You know me better than my best friend, and I think that’s really the problem, here. It’s the only time anyone’s been inside me, like that, and now I’m like a little girl with a crush."

He traces a swirl on Spock’s upturned palm. "I joked about ruining you, but it may be the other way around."

After a long pause, Starek looks Spock in the eye. "I’m not like this, Spock. I’m a heartless one-night stand. I enjoy being that way. But, you… You need to know that I’m serious. You need to know that if you call for me, any time, anywhere, if I can hear you, I’ll move stars to stand by you."

Spock swallows, thickly, knowing that there is nothing to say. He curses himself for having been so thoughtless as to believe they could have even this, just one sliver of a single night, without it leading to ruin.

"I shall need to cleanse myself," he says. How much greater an affront it would be to appear in his father’s presence smelling of Romulan musk?

He pulls Starek close to him, kissing the tip of one ear. "Dungau-ma etek sov-masu a’rs’a t’etek?"

Starek shivers, almost melting against Spock. "Dungi-palikau mashulayek. Kuv kup-lam-tor na’ish-pul-vath. Aisha pada-tor du patam t’nash-veh."

He pulls away with a humorously disgruntled look, half smiles, and heads to the bathroom. Starek hasn’t really had a chance to enjoy the new bath, since the plumbing’s been acting up, since Riena and D’nila installed it, but if D’nila said it was ready to go, he couldn’t think of a better time to test it. Stepping down into the bathtub that occupied most of the room, he turned one of the old-fashioned knobs on the wall and flinched, waiting for something to go wrong. Instead, hot water rains down from five points along the ceiling, and he quickly turns the other knob, to set the temperature to something other than boiling.

Starek holds out a hand to Spock, finally smiling recklessly, again. "Rain dance, you say? I’m afraid I don’t know how to dance like a Vulcan, but I’m told the dances I learned from the Orions are close enough to pass. From what little I’ve seen, it’s a fair bet."

The look in Spock’s eyes is tender, but sorrowful as well. "I didn’t mean it literally, yeht-veh."

Starek leads them into the falling rain. Spock’s skin tingles with it, becoming almost as fully alive as when they were sharing the meld. He embraces Starek once more and, lifting his face reverently, kisses him, taking what little comfort he may from these last few moments of having Starek by his side.

At last, spying a jar of soap, he scoops some out and begins to wash his lover. Spock traces slick fingers across the scarred chest, kissing the imperfections to fix them more solidly in his mind. Although his memory is edetic, he fears the loss of even the smallest fragment of this time.

Spock’s gentle washing proceeds to Starek’s up shoulders, massaging them, and from there to his arms, and hands. He lingers there, fitting his slippery fingers between those of his counterpart. With a sigh, he leans into Starek as the water sheets down their backs and falls gently all around them.

Despite the shower, they will never be clean. Neither one of them.

Starek is just as dexterous as he looks, tossing the soap to himself with his foot, so he doesn’t have to move away from Spock to reach it. It’s a tricky move, and he smiles against Spock’s neck as the jar crashes into his hand. He almost drops it, but then catches it between one finger and his thumb. Score one for the home team. He hasn’t lost it, after all.

Words aren’t necessary, as Starek’s tempting smile says everything he could say and not start a fight or a guilt trip. His soapy hands linger on almost every bit of Spock’s skin he washes, and a few bits he probably shouldn’t wash, unless he’s looking for trouble, but he wouldn’t be a starship pirate, if he wasn’t always looking for trouble. In the end, he winds up on his knees, with Spock’s foot in his hands, gazing up, through the falling water, at the second person in his life with enough weight to shift his balance — and the only one he fell so hard for.

Starek returns to his feet, resisting all the amusing things he could be doing while kneeling, and takes Spock’s hand in his own, laying it on a rather noticeable scar, just below his ribs. "When I say it’s like being gutted, I might not be joking. Barfight. Draylax. And what they say about Draylaxian women is true. And after she put my intestines back in, Merendith almost killed me for being a reckless cocksman."

He laughs, almost easily, and pulls Spock against him for a heated kiss. Clean? Whole? None of that matters. It isn’t like he’s ever been either.

Starek’s teasing humor gives Spock the ability to to finish washing him. He must will his hands not to tremble near the areas so heedlessly enjoyed, but he manages.

Afterwards, there are bodies to dry and clothes to sort and toss into the sonic washtub, concealed in its usual place. All this keeps Spock occupied for a few more minutes. But at last his thoughts can’t be held back.

"Where will you go, then?"

Starek snorts, pulling fresh clothes from his closet. "As the Terrans say, fucked if I know. I go where there’s profit to be had. Got a list of ship parts two pages long, that we still need to refit, before I can start having faith in our survival over warp three. Somewhere in the Alpha Quadrant, there are people who have the parts I need, and who need someone to do moderately questionable things for them. I just have to find those people."

The knee breeches fit him like a second skin, and Starek shows just an inch or two of actual skin between them and the tops of his boots. He sorts through shirts and jackets as he talks.

"I can give you the routing code to hail us, but you need to swear to me that it stays in your head. You do not give that sequence to anyone — I don’t care what they do to your brains. If I give this to you, you need to guard it like I guard the Delta VII incident. The last thing I need is some Federation patrol ship up my nacelles, because you sprung a leak."

He skips the shirt, pulling out a violet frock coat, with gold trim. It sets off the pale greenish-grey of his skin, rather nicely, but there will be none who take him for a Vulcan in it. He looks at Spock, in the mirror, as he hangs the strap of his goggles around his neck.

"Can you promise me that?"

Starek ties a long, violet, satin scarf around his head, and pulls the goggles up, to sit just above his forehead. He turns around to look at Spock, directly, leaning against the vanity, waiting for an answer.

Fully dressed once more, Spock turns to fix Starek with a penetrating, almost affronted look. But then it softens.

"Nam’uh hagik, yeht-veh. Dungi-klashhausu tsatiklar t’etek svi’khaf-spol t’nash-veh." He comes forward, sweeping in for another embrace, murmuring over Starek’s shoulder. "Kwon-sum."

Starek smiles, sadly, wrapping his arms tightly around Spock, whispering the routing code into his ear. He stays there a long moment, before realizing there probably isn’t any more time.

"I dressed so you could see me once as I am meant to be seen. Foolish? Yes. Egotistical? Definitely. But let your memory of what I look like, in clothes, be this, and not that damnable robe. I don’t look good in that thing, regardless of how often I wear it for the sake of propriety." The reckless grin is back, and Starek spins and bows, graceful and cocky, as ever he is. "Let me walk you to the transporter, so the Orions don’t maul you, on your way out."

A sudden smirk hits him. "Hey, do you want to borrow one of the girls? Can’t be a sa-ka-ashausu, if you’re showing up on your father’s doorstep with an Orion girl on your arm, right?" Starek laughs, broadly. The entire situation is ridiculous. It’s just his luck to end up in some twisted parody of his own intentions, and offering to loan one of his engineers to the man of his dreams, to counteract the betrayal he himself helped engineer.

Every moment finds Spock grateful for the humor that is allowing him to put one foot in front of the other. He dreads to think what will happen once it is gone.

They walk the short distance to the turbolift, side by side, for this short time at least. In the small space they grasp each other’s hands, leaning on each other for support. Only when it is time for Spock to step up on the transporter pad do they break the contact.

"Until we meet again, k’diwa." ‘Goodbye’ is too painful — too permanent. Starek’s a linguist and a poet, though, and it’s easy enough to find words that say what he means, rather than what’s expected.

"Kwon-sum," he says, tapping his forehead with the side of a finger. "I would move worlds for you. I would pull the stars from the sky. Whatever you desire, at any time."

He bites his lip, and his eyes glisten, as he tries for one more smile. When this is over, he’s going to lock himself in his quarters with a double-chocolate hazelnut mocha, and replicate things to throw at the wall. Darts. Darts would be eminently sensible at a time like this, but it’ll probably be Andorian crystal, because he likes the sound of it, when it breaks — the comforting sound of the glorious burst of impact.

Spock raises his hand in the ta’al.

"Ashayam. Taluhk nash-veh k’dular. Dif-tor –"

But the words stick in his throat. And he disappears in swirling energy before it can become unstuck.

Zahvan t’Masu:
[ Prologue | I | II | III | IV | V | VI | VII | VIII | IX | X ]

Fallout (on LJ):
[ Starek’s Personal Log | Repudiation | Reflections of a Starship Pirate | Subspace Doesn’t Have That Newsprint Smell | Boomerang | The Romulan Response | Na’Shaya ]

[ I | II | III | IV | V | VI | VII | VIII | IX ]

Verdant and Virile (gDocs) | Tala t’Zaprah

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