Disclaimer: As I understand it, some entity called ‘Paramount/Viacom’ “owns” the characters, features and ideas that make up the mythology known as Star Trek. I know I don’t. Nonetheless, it is my steadfastly held opinion (backed up by a Mr. Henry Jenkins of MIT!) that the Star Trek Mythology has come to take a place among the mythologies of the new global folk culture -and as such I have every right to try my best to contribute something of my own to the myths and stories I love so well. As long as I don’t try (goddess forbid!) to make money off of it.


by Taylor Dancinghands

All these accidents,
That happen,
Follow the dot,
Makes sense,
Only with you,
nbsp; You don't have to speak,
I feel.

Emotional landscapes,
They puzzle me,
Then the riddle gets solved,
And you push me up to this

State of emergency,
How beautiful to be,
State of emergency,
Is where I want to be.

-Bjork - 'Joga'

I: An Almost Perfect Mission
         All in all, had Data’s emotion chip been engaged, he would have been quite pleased at how flawlessly his mission had gone so far. Particularly, considering the difficulty of his assignment, and the extraordinary risks involved, really things had, up to now, gone much better than could have been expected.
         He had no difficulty with the prosthetics; his mastery of the Romulan language was, of course, flawless and, more remarkably, all but one of the Romulan security codes Starfleet had bought at great expense worked perfectly. The one that had not worked had required Data only a few minutes to circumvent, and had not given them any difficulty after that.
         He had located the prisoner exactly where he’d been told by the informant he would be and, most remarkable of all, the Romulan authorities had apparently still not identified accurately one particular prisoner picked up in a random sweep of one of the many neighborhoods marked as frequented by ‘sympathizers’.
         Detained, therefore, as he was, in a ‘relatively’ low security orbital holding facility, Data had little trouble securing the ambassador and escorting him to the cloaked Klingon infiltrator, surreptitiously docked on the underside of the facility. Only when they were away, and well clear of the Romulan security perimeter, with ten day’s travel at warp-one ( the infiltrators top speed) to the Neutral Zone, did the first real hitch appear.
         Data’s orders had been, specifically, to secure the ambassador, assure that his identity had not been discovered, remove him from Romulan space and, since all Romulan prisoners are routinely subjected to some kind of information extracting procedure, determine the ambassadors medical condition.
         The ambassador had been helpful and cooperative, in ways that rescued dignitaries seldom are, throughout the operation. Really, a pleasure to work with, Data reflected. So it hardly seemed ... logical for the ambassador to now become imperious and uncooperative when confronted with a cursory medical scan.
         It was also quite unlikely (Data calculated the odds almost without thinking about it) that the ambassador was refusing a medical exam for trivial or arbitrary reasons, no matter what airs he pretended. No, there was a reason Ambassador Spock was refusing a medical scan, and further more Data knew quite well what the most likely reason was. If he was right, he thought -with something that would have been like dismay, if he’d had his emotion chip on- that everything that might have gone wrong up till now would be nothing compared to what was coming.
         It was standard procedure in Romulan detention facilities, both civil and military (and there actually is a difference) to drug inmates with any number or combination of drugs intended to induce docility and cooperativeness. They are disseminated in the food, the water, the air, and occasionally, administered forcibly, and it is generally considered futile to attempt to avoid being drugged while in Romulan custody for more than a few hours.
         A lot of the drugs used for this purpose belong to a class which vulcan pharmacoligists refer to as ‘anti-inhibitants’, and can often be used to get most vulcans to divulge a lot of what they know, in the right setting. A side effect of some of these anti-inhibitants, in some vulcanoids (ie. vulcans) is the artificial onset of Pon-Farr.
         Data had been briefed on this, or on its possibility anyway. There was not, however, one word in his mission briefing or his orders suggesting a course of action in this event. Being the rigorous officer that he was, he had done some research of his own, after reviewing his less-than-helpful mission briefing, into some fairly hard to find and access vulcan medical data bases. (Vulcans as a whole are still very tight lipped about some aspects of their ‘biology’.) Because of that research he knew that artificially induced Pon-Farr can progress far more rapidly than a naturally occurring one, and that, on average, the subject could become uncontrollably violent in 4 - 5 days, and that total systemic collapse occurred in 6 - 8 days, but that results varied widely depending on the drugs used, and the individual. He also knew that they would not reach Federation space for nine days, and that the nearest Starfleet medical facility ( of little use) was another two days. and that Vulcan (the only place help could really come from) was another four days travel from the Neutral Zone.
         If he was to formulate any plan of action Data knew he needed more information, and unfortunately the source of the most vital information stood imperiously with his back to him, ignoring his most civil entreaties for cooperation.
         Only a few years ago Data would have been helplessly confounded by this behavior, and he’d learned better since. Still, it took Data a moment or two to gather his self possession and confront the legendary Vulcan Ambassador. He stepped around to face his passenger.
         “Forgive my bluntness, Sir.” he said, “but I have reason to believe that you were drugged while in Romulan custody, and may be suffering any number of effects thereby. My orders were to secure you, see to your well being, and deliver you safely to Federation space.”
         “That may no longer be possible.” interrupted the Vulcan.
         “That is not a judgment I am inclined to make in advance of the facts.” replied Data, unflappably. “And unless you can supply me with a logical reason why you cannot submit to a medical scan then I will have to resort to a less ... dignified means of acquiring the information.”
         Spock rounded on him as though he was inclined to do violence, but Data did not so much as flinch, and Spock did no more than to fix him with a direful glare, thunderclouds building on his brow.
         “Proceed.” he said at last.
         It came as no surprise to Data when the medical tri-corder showed a veritable cocktail of anti-inhibitants in the vulcan’s system. Most unfortunately, the substance detected in the largest amount was the one connected most frequently with the artificial onset of Pon-Farr, and the tri-corder was already picking up signs of the coming metabolic imbalance.
         “Well?” asked the ambassador with unseemly impatience, after Data had examined the results for a few moments.
         “I regret to inform you that I have detected, among other things, significant amounts of drahcrodrozine in your system.” Data said. “May I assume that you are aware of the side effects of ...”
         “I am aware.” Spock said darkly. “And I had recently come to suspect ... that I was not well. Had I known earlier I would not have consented to be rescued.”
         There was a taught moment of silence as Data considered how to ask what must be asked next -very, very carefully.
         “I remind the ambassador,” he began, tentatively, “that my orders, and my intentions, are to do anything and everything within my power to secure your health and well being.”
         “Are you offering your ... services to me?” Spock asked with open disdain and hostility.
         “Would you find that useful in resolving your current dilemma?” Data asked.
         “No I would not!” the vulcan snapped.
         “Then I will not offer.” Data answered. “What course of action do you advise?”
         As much as Spock had evidently expected Data’s first suggestion, he had not apparently expected this, and it took him a moment to reply.
         “You will give me all the sedatives from our medical supplies,” he said at last, “and all the privacy this ship can accommodate. Neither will be sufficient, but they will have to do.”
         “I truly regret the lack of privacy, Ambassador, though I have, against this eventuality, bought extra sedatives. I do not, however, find it advisable to leave the medication in your hands. I did take the time to study what information the Vulcan medical database has on artificially induced Pon-Farr, and will do my best to minimize your discomfort, if that is all I am able to do. I wish for you to know, also, that it is my intention to erase any active personal memory files which include any interaction with you in which you are ... less than coherent.”
         This, Data could see, was something the vulcan had not anticipated -a generous offer, which he accepted with gratitude, nodding wordlessly. Now, when his guard was down, Data could begin chipping away at his resolve.
         “These are measures I have taken for an eventuality I still hope to avoid, Ambassador.” he went on. “It is not my intention to allow you to suffer a lengthy, painful, degrading death while you are in my custody.”
         Like a door slamming shut, Data noted with interest, the vulcan’s barriers were up again and in full force. Perhaps it had not been subtle, certainly he would have to be more so in the future, but he had, he thought dealt a telling blow, and a good beginning to his campaign.
         His strategy, he had concluded, must not involve trying to coerce the ambassador into any particular course of action -this was precisely what Spock would be expecting, and on guard against- but rather to motivate him into choosing life over death -figuring that once the legendary Spock was resolved to such a thing, then some appropriate course of action would be arrived at, and success would follow. As a strategy, it’s advantages were that he had, seemingly, an easy case to make: that life was worth the indignities occasionally accorded one, and that the death awaiting him was particularly unpleasant. It’s disadvantages were that, once his mind was set on a thing, Ambassador Spock was famously hard to shift, and added to that was the great likelihood that there were more than a few things about vulcan mating physiology which Data didn’t know, and Spock did. Spock would hold these unknowns in reserve to disqualify any argument Data had to make, unless he was able, somehow, to coax some of this information from the ambassador.
         Spock however, Data considered, was not the only one with secret knowledge. Entirely for his own reasons, Data had come to accumulate a great deal of knowledge in an area not entirely unrelated to Spock’s current predicament -far more than the ambassador, or any vulcan for that matter, would ever suspect him of possessing. For this knowledge to be useful though, Data would have to be very subtle indeed.
         “Are you quite finished, Commander?” Spock asked, his tone hard and brittle as flint. Now was not the moment for subtlety, that would have to come later. No, now that he had spoiled the vulcan’s mood Data would have to use a different approach. Data had one more important question to ask, of the sort that most people would wait to ask till the ambassador was in a better mood. Spock would be expecting it then, though, and would be on his guard. Once again Data would foil Spock's expectations. He would ask now, rather than later, and rather than employing sensitivity in his approach, he would take a page from Dr. Crusher’s book on recalcitrant patients: he would bully.
         “Very nearly.” Data replied to the ambassador’s earlier question. “There are still one or two things I need to know concerning your condition. As you yourself must know, the information on this subject available to outside agencies is quite limited. For instance,” Data went on, in spite of the vulcan’s obvious intention to comment at this point. “I cannot find anywhere in Starfleet or Vulcan databases any explanation of why a ... casual liaison cannot be used to resolve a situation such as yours.”
         “It is enough to know that it cannot. No more is required by you.” The smoldering fury behind the words was surely meant to intimidate, but Data continued relentlessly.
         “Forgive me Ambassador, but I beg to differ. If I am to effect a solution, I must know not only what doesn't work, but why. I do require this information from you, and I see no logical reason for you to with-hold it.”
         Right away, Data could see that his second invocation of Logic infuriated the vulcan.
         “I shall not stand here and debate logic with a machine!” he barked. It was meant to wound, and indeed in other circumstances it might have, but Data continued unflinchingly.
         “I do not require that you debate logic with me, Sir, only that you explain to me the reasons why your condition cannot be remedied with a ... “
         “Enough!” The vulcan was close to losing control, but not there yet, and was therefor still bound by the tenants of logic. He had no choice but to acquiesce. When he spoke it was with an underlying tone of stifled fury. Had he been human he’d have spoken through clenched teeth.
         “The ... mating” he spoke the word with extra distaste. which the Pon-Farr drives us to seek is not a mere physical conjoining, but a deep telepathic one as well, and results in a permanent bond. The *kunut’farr*, which is required for the successful conclusion of the Pon-Farr, involves a complex and intimate union of two minds, one which remains after the Pon-Farr. It can only be dissolved by means of a difficult and dangerous working, requiring the service of a very rare type of healer. One or both of those dissolving the bond can be permanently injured, and it is considered a disgrace, among vulcans, to have had to employ such desperate measures.
         “This, Commander,” Spock glowered. “is why we are so particular about how we choose our mates, and never has any vulcan ever met any outworlder who did not immediately dismiss the gravity of suffering that can be experience by those caught in an ill-made bond. No non-telepath can understand the agony of such a circumstance, and yet outworlders insist on claiming that they can *imagine* what we feel. But no one who claims that they can *imagine* no suffering life worse than the raving death of the un-sated Pon-Farr, has sufficiently imagined the agony of mis-bonding.” Spock met Data’s eyes with his own, conveying the gravity of his words.
         “As I am aware of Romulan interrogation practices, it was a risk I took knowingly when I came here. But I have, myself seen the results of a mis-bonding and I assure you, death is preferable.”
         Spock fell silent and looked to Data, clearly expecting him to try and dismiss the seriousness of his claims, or to interrogate him further, but once again Data moved counter to his expectations. He nodded after a moment, to fully digest what Spock had told him, and then said, “Thank you for your candor. I will not trouble you on the subject again.”
         Bewildered by Data’s sudden change in tone, Spock asked, seemingly in spite of himself, “Is there anything else you wish to know?”
         Data shook his head. “No, thank you, and I apologize for my intrusion. I am going to see if I can improve the performance of the ship’s warp drive. I may be able to save as much as three days travel time.” And with that he turned to the engineering console, and left the bemused vulcan to his own devices.
II: The Best Laid Plans ...
         He heard Spock move to the back, to seek the only privacy the tiny ship had to offer (besides the head) -one of the four curtained bunks in the area behind the central engineering alcove. For himself, Data found the monotonous job of fine-tuning a klingon warp relay soothing, almost meditative, in fact. It formed a pleasant background for the difficult analysis that lay before him.
         His strategy was working well enough -a variation on a simple coercion technique Commander Riker had called ‘good cop - bad cop’. Data had researched the origins of the expression and found them in earth’s 20th century, but the technique was so fundamental Data was certain it had been in use since the dawn of human civilization. The vulcan surely would have recognized it for what it was had he not already begun to lose his edge due to his condition, and had Data not altered the technique by playing both parts himself. It was serving well at keeping Spock off balance, and he intended to continue doing so. That bit was quite easy and straight forward. Send Data to solve a problem, and he will solve it. No, the difficult questions were all about what to do with the solution.
         His orders (and intentions) were to save Spock’s life. Securing Spock’s life now meant mating with him; mating with him now meant making a life long bond with him, but making a life-bond with Ambassador Spock was not something to be taken lightly. Was he really sure he wanted to convince Spock -Ambassador Spock- to mate and bond with him? Maybe it wouldn't come to that, maybe he wouldn’t convince Spock, maybe they would find another way, but what would happen -to his career, his friends and loves, to his life- if he and Spock were bonded?
         The permutations of possibilities were endless -some disastrous, some exhilarating. He quickly determined, however, that there was no way to forecast any kind of probable outcome to this, and that was the most disturbing aspect of all.
         “Some decisions shouldn’t be made without knowing how you feel about them.” Geordi had once told him in the early months of his experience with emotions. Data was, at the time, struggling with the discovery that when he had his emotion chip on, and was faced with any kind of decision, most of the time his emotional desire was not to take the sensible or rational choice. He had been suggesting to Geordi that he wanted a way to turn off his emotion chip every time he had to make a decision. Geordi had disagreed.
         “I don’t think anybody’s emotions tell ‘em to do the smart thing most of the time. If you’re paying attention you know when to listen to ‘em, and when to tell ‘em to rake a hike; but you got to listen to ‘em for the really big decisions. I’m not talking about when you’re in the middle of a fire-fight, or when you’re piloting the ship -I mean the decisions you make that’ll change your life, like where you decide to go with your career, or who you take up with- you know, stuff like that.”
         Stuff like this most assuredly, Data thought to himself. He wished, now, that he could take the time to emotionally consider the possible consequences of his plan, but he still did not trust himself with his emotions in a crisis. Jean-Luc insisted that his distrust was unwarranted, but this situation was especially fraught with emotional peril. What if they were bonded and mismatched? What kind of ruin could that make of his life -or of Jean-Luc’s? Was it sheer hubris on his part to think of himself as a match or fit mate to the legendary Ambassador Spock -to think that he could fill the shoes (and other things) of the equally legendary James T. Kirk? How could this not be the greatest show of utter arrogance he had ever displayed in all his life? Yet the alternative was to let Spock die.
         If this was somehow the course of action he had arrived at by so-called rational means, then the emotional considerations would surely be overwhelming. No, he’d leave them be for now, because rationally there was only one consideration: saving Ambassador Spock's life was paramount. For the rest he would have to trust Ambassador Spock (a man slowly descending into madness!) that he wouldn’t make a bond with Data if they were mismatched -wouldn’t compound Data’s hubris by accommodating him. If that’s what it was -if he really was so deluded.
         Why didn’t Data think -emotion chip safely locked away- that he was deluded to imagine that he might be a fitted mate to Spock of Vulcan? Was it something in all that vulcan esoterica he’d been counting on to save the day, or was it something in those encounters Jean-Luc had had with Spock and his father that would somehow connect them? He did not readily have an answer.
         He heard a stirring behind him: the sound of a vulcan leaving his bunk and entering the head. Data checked his chronometer and saw Spock had been down for about five hours. That was too short for a good sleep, and longer that he would have been down if he were meditating -not a good sign.
         He heard Spock emerge and come to the ‘dining and social area’ behind the control alcove and order a cup od Ch’isk broth from the replicator. Well it was good that he was eating, even a little broth. He would wait a little and see if Spock would start a conversation before he hazarded starting one himself.
         Evidently Data’s silence put the ambassador at ease, and after he had drunk about half of his cup of broth, he cleared his throat and turned to ask Data a question.
         “What is our estimated time till the Neutral Zone now, Commander?”
         “I have been able to reduce our running time to seven days -eight hours, and I have pre-loaded a coded message for the Enterprise set to go as soon as we leave Romulan space.” Data replied. “If the Enterprise-E can meet us on the other side of the Neutral Zone, we can be at Vulcan in only another five hours.”
         All of this, both Spock and Data knew, was pointless. Their very best case scenario had Spock raving and incoherent in five days; he’d be dying and long past the hope of recovery by the time they got to the Neutral Zone. Not even Data could make a klingon, single-reaction, warp engine break warp 1.9. Discussing the situation in this light would, however, lead Spock to believe that Data had given up on any other avenue of approach, and perhaps get him to let his guard down even more.
         It seemed to be working, too. Spock looked to Data sadly resigned, but relaxed.
         “The Enterprise-E.” he mused. “I do recall hearing of the loss of your former ship.” Data watched the vulcan sharply, wondering what else the vulcan had heard about that misadventure. If he had heard more he showed nothing of it, which was fine with Data. He didn’t need any more complications than he had already.
         “My condolences.” Spock continued, “I know it is difficult to lose a starship -it can be like losing a home, particularly if that starship is an Enterprise.”
         “I thank you for your consideration, sir.” Data answered, intrigued by Spock’s sensitivity, and seeing an opening at the same time. “As it happens I did ... feel the loss of the Enterprise-D quite profoundly.”
         The ambassador’s eyebrows rose in curiosity, and Data knew a moment of triumph. He had piqued Spock’s interest!
         “Am I to learn how this came about?” he asked.
         Data nodded obligingly. I do not know if you were ever aware that Dr. Soong built an emotion chip for me.” Spock shook his head. “At the time when we last met it was in the possession of my brother, Lor, who stole it before I was able to install it. Later, when I recovered it, the chip was damaged, but I was finally able to repair it and, nearly three years ago and just before the events on Veridian III, I decided to install it. It really was an unfortunate coincidence, with nearly disastrous consequences, and since then I have (with the help of a friend) engineered a way to turn the chip off when required. I do, however have the capacity to experience emotions now.”
         “Fascinating.” the vulcan mused over steepled finger tips. “This is something you desired a great deal, was it not?”
         “It was.” nodded Data.
         “And are you ... satisfied with your new perspective?” Spock asked.
         “It has been a difficult adjustment.” Data said frankly. “I am still adjusting, and it is still difficult at times, but it has widened my perspective beyond measure, and bought me so many new insights ... I find it well worth the risks they entail.”
         “Most intriguing.” the vulcan murmured. He looked up at Data, curiosity warring with conservatism in his eyes. Once again, that unlikely instinct in Spock saved his life, ... and the curiosity won.
         “May I ask, Commander ,,,?” he began, and paused.
         “Your ... emotion chip -it is not active now?”
         “No, it is not currently engaged.” Data answered. “It is my policy, for now, not to engage my emotion chip in any situation where I may be called upon to perform ... at peek efficiency. In this case it was my intention to leave it off as long as we were in Romulan space.”
         “You have had difficulty performing at ‘peak efficiency’ with your emotions, then?” Spock asked.
         “There were several ... incidents.” Even with his emotion chip off, Data found these reminiscences unsettling. “Most notably when, less than four hours after I had initially installed the chip, the Enterprise unexpectedly came under attack. I found myself in a combat situation I was unprepared for and i became ...” Data paused to draw breath, “paralyzed with fear, allowing a fellow officer to be taken by hostiles. He was, fortunately, returned unharmed a short time later, but in the weeks that followed incidences of my being late for my duty shift went up 200%, and my performance rating fell 12.5% because I was constantly being distracted by my emotions. Commander LaForge helped me engineer the off switch shortly afterwards.”
         “So you seldom use the device, now?” Spock inquired.
         Data shook his head. “No, in fact I try to use it as often as possible. Usually when I am off duty, and now even occasionally on routine shifts. It is my goal, eventually to be able to leave it engaged permanently, but it will be some time, I think, before I feel comfortable handling a crisis with my emotions engaged.”
         “Why not just continue to use your off switch?” Spock asked next. The tone of his question, Data thought, seemed more hypothetical than curious, as though he were delivering some kind of test question. Data considered his answer likewise.
         “If my goal is to attain humanity, and it still is, then I will hardly achieve my goal if I must depend on my ability to switch off my emotions at will. Furthermore, I have learned that possessing the capacity for emotions means that emotions are potentially present at every moment, not just when I have turned the chip on. I have already had my emotions used against me twice because I did not understand how to control them, ... or at least prevent them from controlling me. I have found an apt metaphor in the ancient earth legend of the genii escaping the bottle. Having installed the chip I cannot remove it, cannot stop having emotions, even if I wanted to -which I do not- therefor my most ... logical course is to learn to live with them.”
         “I have, in fact,” he went on, after a significant pause, “begun to explore vulcan philosophy for help in achieving that end, and have found it ... highly instructive.”
         The ambassador’s posture, sitting at the dining table, changed distinctly at this last remark, as he sat up straighter, yet angled forward slightly. At the same time his expression grew more guarded.
         “Indeed.” he said, almost to himself, and then, more directly to Data, “What have you read, and which of it, I am curious to know, has proved more instructive?”
         “I have read Surak’s Principals of Rational Thinking, volumes 1 - 50, and Logic in Theory and Practice,. I have also read M’tukt’s Commentaries on Logic in Theory and Practice, volumes 1 - 72. I first read them many years ago, at the academy, but I reviewed them shortly after I installed my emotion chip. I found Surak’s work far more meaningful when confronted with my own out-of-control emotions. So much so that I then began more research to find writings in the areas I was interested in. This directed me to R’ghet’s One and Seventy Stillnesses, T’Speiy’s Mind and Heart, and Ch’strell’s Way of the Truth Seeker.”
         Spock took a moment to consider all of this. “Only the T’Speiy is available in terran translation.” he commented, at last.
         Data nodded. “I have some ... facility with languages, and prefer to find all my sources in their original language, wherever possible. It took some work to find copies of these works in the original Auck’chektan-Hocht, but I am also quite adept at database searches,”
         “St’Fan has written highly regarded translations into contemporary vulcan of all of these works. They were not sufficient?” Spock inquired.
         “Indeed, I have read them, and I agree that St’Fan has brilliantly conveyed the authors’ intent and meaning,” Data replied, “but I have come to appreciate the nuances most of which, I believe, are truly untranslatable, that reveal the most about the author. Beyond this, however, I have also discovered a number of remarkably instructive materials which are not available in any translation. These writings alone have compensated me for any time and effort spent learning two archaic vulcan languages.”
         At Data’s last remark the vulcan’s demeanor changed once again, subtly yet profoundly. He had closed himself down, not in hostility as before, but in excruciatingly careful neutrality. He most assuredly did not want Data to know what his reaction to that revelation was. It was enough, however, for Data to know that he had reacted -and powerfully so. This was Data’s ace-in-the-hole, his secret knowledge, but if laying the card on the table had called for great subtlety, playing it would call for the utmost grace and delicacy. All could still be lost.
         “Do you mean to say,” asked Spock, not quite succeeding in keeping the incredulity from his voice, “that you have learned to read Auck’chektan-Zef?”
         “It was something of a challenge,” said Data, carefully not boastful. “but yes, I believe I have come to posses a basic understanding of the more formal variant of the ancient vulcan language. One of the more promising looking sources listed in the R’ghet -something called Practices for the Acolyte- proved to be quite difficult to find, and when I finally located a copy it was written in a form of ancient High Vulcan with which I was not familiar.”
         “And you found a translation key?” Spock asked, still fairly dubious.
         Eventually I discovered that R’ghet had translated all of his own works from Auck’chektan-Zef to the more widely read Auck’chektan-Hocht.” Data replied. “Once I had found copies of both it was a relatively small matter.”
         Spock was quiet for a long moment, and Data took the time to check on the ship’s functions, and then walked over to the other side of the table where Spock sat, and took a seat himself. The vulcan looked up as Data sat and gave him a long regard from under hooded eyes.
         “Tell me,” he said at last, “what other sources you have discovered in Auck’chektan-Zef, besides “Practices for the Acolyte of the Kol’sh’harr”.”
         There was, Data deduced, something important about that last, from the way Spock had weighted the words. It was a term Data had heard before, but whose meaning he was not clear on.
         “Curiously,” Data answered, “I have found a few references to the Kol’sh’harr in archived material, but little of substance or merit. In fact, I quickly exhausted what archival databases there were of works in Auck’chektan-Zef, but then I discovered a fairly sizable collection of largely contemporary works, all written in Auck’chektan-Zef.”
         “You have discovered the K’keft Taa Forum.” Spock said, more a statement than a question.
         “I have.” Data replied.
         “And what,” Spock asked after another long moment’s regard, “do you make of it?”
         This, Data thought, had all the earmarks of the big question at the end of the term final which is worth 50% of your final grade. Data chose his answer with care, accordingly.
         “When I first began my research into vulcan esoteric practices, it was truly to help me find ways to understand and handle my new emotions, and many of the exercises, such as the ones in R’ghet’s work, were quite helpful, some remarkably so. So impressed was I with the effectiveness of these practices that I began to experiment with others which, while not directly related to my original pursuit, seemed possibly intriguing. Eventually, when I entered into an ... intimate relationship a little over a year ago I began to experiment with some of the two person exercises I discovered in the K’keft Taa archives -of the small number which did not require abilities which neither of us possessed. So far we have both found these experiments quite rewarding.
         “In the last few months I have seen the potential for this field of study to be a continuing challenge, and a rewarding pursuit for me for years to come. I only wish that there was more material pertaining to those without telepathic abilities.”
         Focusing all his attention on choosing his words with care, Data had failed to notice how Spock’s expression had grown more and more intense as he spoke. He was taken by surprise, therefor, by the pointedness of the ambassador’s next question.
         “Have you sent any inquiries to the forum, regarding this matter?” he asked.
         Data had, in fact, some time ago, but in a desire not to come to the table ‘empty handed’, he had offered a humble effort of his own -variations on a set of exercises written for a pair where only one is telepathic, (archived at the forum about eighty years ago) which he had rewritten for a pair where neither is.
         Unexpectedly, he’d found his efforts widely applauded by the forum’s moderators, and had been asked to write a complete rearrangement of those earlier exercises for publication on the forum. Shortly afterwards he had even been contacted by the original author of those exercises, introducing himself to Data by the same pseudonym he’d used for his earlier writing (as do all members of the highly private K’keft Taa Forum) -an old Vulcan word meaning ‘outcast’ or ‘hermit’. Their correspondence, over much of the last year, had been extremely rewarding for Data and, he’d speculated, for his unknown correspondent as well.
         This was the complete answer to the question the ambassador had asked, but what occupied Data’s thoughts in the main was why he was asking it. He’d intended to steer the conversation in this general direction because he thought the ambassador might be impressed with his knowledge of a fairly obscure facet of vulcan culture, or at least disabuse him of the notion that he was completely ignorant in such matters. He’d hardly expected the ambassador to have a similar interest, and now Data was beginning to suspect that there might be even more to it than that.
         Earlier, as he’d been speaking, under the vulcan’s guarded gaze, a number of what had previously seemed unrelated facts began to come together. How the dates for a unique series of articles describing intimate exercises for one telepath, and one non (and nearly all entries on the K’keft Taa Forum are written by and for telepaths) coincide with the time period during which James T. Kirk and the then Commander Spock were most closely associated. How Spock displayed great familiarity with a field of research regarded as obscure, even on vulcan. How reliable Spock’s ability was, to send and receive communications on Romulus. How two lags in his correspondence from ‘Outcast’ had coincided with occasions of heightened tension on the Romulan border. How pointed Spock’s last question had been.
         “I did , in fact, make inquiries.” Data said in answer to Spock’s question. “Addressing myself to the forum, a little over a year ago, under the name K’Tvi. The correspondence which eventually resulted from that inquiry has been ... most rewarding.”
         His pseudonym was something that Data was quite pleased with. It was one of the six terms in Auck’chektan-Zef for ‘truth’ or ‘divine knowledge’, but this was the one who’s cognate in modern vulcan meant ‘information’ ...or ‘data’.
         Spock shook his head slowly in silence for a moment, murmuring finally, “Of course, I should have known.”
         “Traditionally,” he said, lifting his gaze to meet Data’s directly, at last. “one does not reveal one’s Forum name in person.” Spock’s voice held the faintest notes of admonishment. “However, the occasion, I believe does merit a momentary disregard of tradition.” He extended a hand across the table. “K’Tvi, I am honored to at last make your acquaintance in person. I am St’keshtsva.” -*the outcast*.
         Data extended his own hand to clasp Spock’s, still somehow not quite prepared to find his suspicions to be true. “The honor is mine, Sir.” he answered sincerely.
         Data found Spock’s gaze upon him more open now, weighing and considering.
         “This changes much.” he said significantly.
         Indeed it did. Data was having a hard time grappling with the realization that for the last nine months or so he had been corresponding on matters most intimate and explicit with the legendary Ambassador Spock, on Romulus, not to mention the fact that his ill-considered plan was working in ways he never would have imagined.
         “I would have your thoughts.” Spock asked.
         This, Data thought, was an excellent example of how leaving his emotion chip off made certain decisions much simpler. He’d never in his life engaged in a mind meld, and he was certain that if his emotion chip had been turned on he would currently be quite terrified. As it was, the only considerations must be rational ones, and so he lifted his gaze to meet Spock’s and said without hesitation, “Of course.”
         He sat still, feeling the vulcan’s warm fingers on his face, and hearing the low voice intone the ancient mantra in the Old Vulcan he knew Data would understand.
         “S’tutukt krevef’t, S’tchay krevef’t.” *My mind to your mind*.
         “Hokk’fsta zhi s’tcha, Hokk’fsta zhi s’tut.” *My thoughts to yours*.
         Thoughts not his own began to filter into his positronic net -vulcan phrases, unfamiliar images, but nothing clear. There should, he thought, be more.
         Apparently so, for after a moment Spock lowered his hand, shaking his head slowly.
         “Forgive me,” he said, his disappointment, if any, hidden by his puzzlement. “I cannot reach ... enough. It is as though you are occluded within yourself. It may be that you are not ...compatible.”
         Data frowned as he thought furiously for an answer, and one came to him almost immediately. He remembered something that Geordi had explained to him a while ago about how his emotion chip worked. Data’s emotions didn’t emanate from the chip, he’d explained, rather that the chip acted as a sort of translator, gathering a host of apparently unrelated signals from some of the murkier portions of Data’s positronic net and then expressing them as feelings. It seemed likely, then, that activating the chip might allow Spock to access those areas also, and maybe that would be enough.
         “I have a theory.” he said out loud.
         Spock nodded and waited attentively.
         “I believe that if I engage my emotion chip it may enable you to ... access me more completely. I am willing to try if you think it worthwhile.”
         “By all means.” Spock answered.
         It is understandable that in the heat of the moment, as it were, Data failed to consider what an emotionally charged moment he was dropping himself into. Alas, it only made a difficult moment more so. Data engaged the chip without a moment’s preparation, and a mountain of emotions dropped on him, all at once.
         Data gasped and shuddered visibly as a tumult of feelings vied for prominence in his scattered thoughts. Anxiety about the impending meld, awe of the politely impassive vulcan legend sitting across the table from him, stupification over the recent revelations about his long time correspondent, each threatened to overwhelm him, and yet paled in the light of the decisions that awaited him in the immediate future.
         He took a couple of deep breaths and stood. “Forgive me,” he said a little breathlessly. “I will need a moment ... “
         “Understood.” Spock nodded, unperterbed, sitting back in his chair to watch Data pace the confines of the tiny ship.
         It still disturbed Data that he could feel so compelled to move physically at moments like this, even though Deana Troi frequently reassured him that pacing was an ordinary and respectable habit for such moments as this, and that many great figures in earth’s history (including their captain) were known to be likewise afflicted. All this aside, it did, somehow serve to calm him, even more so when he recalled -as he usually did, lately- the ‘walking meditation’ he had discovered among Ch’Strell’s exercises.
         He spoke the vulcan chant quietly for a while until he’d felt it internalize, calming him and settling his thoughts.
         “May I ask you a question?” Spock asked, seeing Data’s pacing slow some.
         “Please feel free.” said Data, without breaking rhythm.
         “Your partner in the workings you wrote to me about, may I know who it is that is working with you?”
         Now Data paused. “In confidence ...?”
         Spock nodded. “Of course.” The casual promise of a man possibly privy to more profound confidences than anyone else in the Alpha Quadrant.
         “Jean-Luc Picard.” said Data, missing him powerfully as he spoke his name.
         Spock nodded, seeming to Data almost amused to learn who it was. “Indeed, I should have known.”
         “You have not discovered any suggestion of this in my writing?” Data asked, concerned for his captain’s privacy.
         “No,” Spock assured him. “Only I am not surprised to find our paths crossing once again. In truth, I doubt that this will be the last time.”
         Data nodded, finally finding himself calm enough to sit back down across the table from Spock.
         “Shall we try again?” he said hopefully.
         “Are you sure you wish to proceed?” Spock's tone was kind but insistent. Data must be certain
         “I am.” Data nodded solemnly.
         “The third exercise in the fifth set, from ‘Practices for the Acolyte’,” Spock asked him. “Do you know it?” Data nodded. “It will help calm you, as did the Ch’Strell you were using earlier.”
         Data found the study Spock had named in his memory, and began to focus on the prescribed images. It was one of a large set of exercises that called for the naming and visualizing, on the corresponding part of the body, each of the thirteen vulcan ‘Emotional Orders’ or *Jiq’tras*, in a certain order, or progression. There was a different meditation, each with a different intent or purpose, for each one of the 169 ways to arrange the thirteen Jiq’tras. The one Spock had selected for Data set the more powerful emotions across from one another, balancing each other out and dampening both their influences. At least that was the theory as Data had understood it, and it did seem to be working.
         Data felt only a small wave of anxiety as he felt Spock’s fingers touch his face again, and was easily able to concentrate on the ancient vulcan words. Now however, with his emotions in play, Spock’s voice seemed to sink into him and resonate so that before he realized it he was speaking them in unison with the vulcan.
         “Our thoughts are one ... our minds one ... “
         The loss of his internal frame of reference was incredibly disorienting. Data was suddenly was suddenly not sure of where or who he was. Panic hovered nearby.
         *Steady, my young adept.* Spock’s thoughts, as clear and soothing as his voice emerged from the chaos. *Where were you in your Jiq’tra sequence? Tchi’ge -the throat?*
         *Tchi’ge -the throat; Het’v -the left breast; D’kat’v -the right hip; ... * The meditation became Data’s frame of reference, and he possessed himself again. Possessed enough to leave part of himself to keep the meditation going, he turned at last to focus some attention on the mind he shared.
         *You are indeed a quick learner.* Spock greeted him.
         *Thank you.* Framing the thought without words surprised him, but he felt himself acclimating to this new intimate style on communication. Enough so that when Spock’s thoughts came to him as *Open your mind to me, Data, and we will know each other.*, he knew what it meant to open, and what to open, and so he did.
         A torrent of memories chased one another through Spock’s and Data’s minds. The revolting taste of a new drink in Ten-Forward, and the brand new, never before experienced emotions it sparked; the first handshake with his new, and very young Captain -James T. Kirk; the Borg invasion of his ship; walking into a room marked ‘Lethal Radiation Hazard’ to save his ship, and sacrifice his life; waking for the first time before two amazed starfleet officers; fighting with Sarek and fleeing into the desert; being kissed by Jean-Luc for the first time; falling into a pair of blazing hazel gold eyes lit by a sun bright smile ...
         A powerful longing from Spock swept through both of them, though Data found himself suddenly reticent in the presence of that powerful memory. Surely he was not worthy to join such company. How could he be?
         *You are golden too, my beauty.*
         The heat of Spock’s ardor was no longer possible to resist, and Data felt himself being drawn into the center of it, like a leaf in a whirlpool. It was nearly impossible not to want it. He did want it -wanted to touch the one who’s mind he shared, wanted to know intimate pleasures with him ...
         This, some part of Data was waking to the realization, was not part of the plan. The progression of Spock’s condition was pressing on him, and he had slipped. Struggling against his desire, Data found the part of himself still keeping the meditation sequence, and focused on it.
         *Y’bek’ne -the right hand; Y’bek’v -the left hand; Ch’choff -the heart; D’kat’v -the left hip; Ch’dat’v -the left knee; Tchi'ge -the throat ...*
         He felt Spock’s gratitude as the Vulcan pulled himself together and began to separate them as quickly as was seemly. It was only a matter of moments before Data felt Spock lift his trembling fingers away, and knew himself to be alone in his own mind again.
         “Forgive ...” Rasped Spock as soon as he had his voice.
         “Understood.” Data said with compassion.
         Spock sat silently, eyes closed and hands clasped in front of him, for a little while, as Data waited quietly, processing what he’d just experienced.
         When Spock finally spoke, it was without moving anything superfluous, not even opening his eyes, so careful and tenuous was his control.
         “Clearly, little time remains before I lose all functional rationality. I would have preferred more, naturally, but I have learned enough to know that a bonding ... between you and I ... has the potential to be quite beneficial to both of us. Unfortunately, given the present circumstances I am only able to speak to the potential. There are yet some factors that may bring ruin to this ... enterprise. And so, Commander Data, I am trusting you with both our souls.
         “For the next five hours I will attempt to meditate. I may even succeed -you are a man of great inner strength, Data. Our meld, in spite of it’s conclusion, has served to stabilize me somewhat, thanks in the main to you. While I am thus engaged, you must think carefully on the possible consequences of our actions here. The final decision is yours Data. You will need to think about this with your emotions engaged, and if you do decide to become bond-mate to me, brother to my house, son to my parents, and mate to my soul, then it must *not* be because of your orders, or your duty to Starfleet, or my value to the Federation. Nothing of that must be in your heart, do you understand? Nothing!”
         Data nodded as solemnly as he could, now, in truth, somewhat taken aback by the fires of passion he saw barely banked behind the vulcan’s now open eyes.
         “Data, if you decide to do this, and I must, in truth say that it is my hope that you will ...” This was a profound admission for Spock, and in return Data gave Spock ever bit of his attention, wanting the ambassador to know he was being taken seriously.
         “If you do decide to do this, Data,” he went on, “it must only be because it is something you desire, for your own sake, no one else’s. Only to serve your own desire, Data, nothing else must be in your heart. That way ruin lies, do you understand me?”
         “I do, yes.” Data nodded. “And I shall do as you say, Sir.”
         Spock stood slowly to head back to the bunks, then turned to look back at Data, so intently that it frightened him a little.
         “I trust you,” he said, “as does he.”
         *Picard,* Data thought *does he invoke my Captain because he does not think I take this seriously enough? No,* he realized *he is afraid too.*
III: An Impromptu Concert

         Data paced for a while at a more relaxed speed, letting a vulcan ‘walking meditation’ occupy his thoughts.
         *Every step, a step into the future.
         Every breath, a gift from the universe.
         Every heart-beat, a spark of new life.
         Every tear-drop, a purification of the soul.*
         After a while the tonal vulcan syllables gained a sort of sing-song quality in his mind, and he began to hum a little. He soon realized that he wanted his violin, very much, and fortunately, he as good as had one to hand -a top of the line replicator program for one, anyhow.
         He set the replicator to it’s task, as he erected an acoustical barrier across the sleeping alcove entrance. When he was done both violin and bow (pre-rosined!) were ready. He checked the instrument’s sound with a few brief scales and arpeggios, and then he just played -whatever came to him. Passages of things he’d played last month tumbled out over his fingers and transmuted mysteriously into bits of things he’d been playing last year. He made himself stop paying attention and let it come. He raged and frayed bow-hairs, wept liquid notes and real tears, growled, and raged, and roared, and threw a musical temper-tantrum.When he found himself quoting again he found himself tending towards ‘late romantic’ music of earth’s twentieth century. Sibelius, Khachaturian, Walton, ... until somewhere in his voluminous musical memory he stumbled over a piece he knew he really wanted to play, from beginning to end. It was perfect.          “Computer,” he paused in his playing to speak. “Please cue, from the instrumental music data files, the orchestral track for ‘Tzigane’ by Maurice Ravel; New Avalon Philharmonic, Leopold Greyhorse conducting -without soloist. Please begin orchestral track on my cue.”
         Tzigane was an old earth word for the Gypsies, or Romany people of Eastern Europe, famous, among other things, for their passionate music. Ravel’s musical portrait was a technical and emotional tour-de-force, and though Data had mastered the mechanics long ago, only lately had he come to posses any kind of understanding of the range of expression the piece required.

         Data tore into the music now with real pathos, beginning with the long brooding violin solo which preceded the orchestra’s entrance. Then as the other instruments joined in, and the music’s pace quickened Data felt his own tumultuous feelings coincide with the passionate gypsy themes. He truly played with all his heart, losing track of everything but the music, until violin and(recorded) orchestra reached their frenzied and dizzying climax and conclusion, and Data stood, breathing deeply, a lock of hair fallen stray across his forehead, a few replicated bow-hairs hanging, broken, from his bow, and saw Spock, standing just inside the acoustical barrier, nodding with approval.
         “Ambassador,” Data gasped, “Forgive me, have I disturbed you?”
         “Not in the least, Commander.” Spock said. “I rose from meditations a little while ago, in perfect silence, as you had arranged, and saw you, but could not hear. I was curious. Forgive me if I have intruded.”
         “No,” Data shook his head. “Of course not. I was only ... somewhat absorbed. I did not see you there until just now.”
         “your performance was most excellent, Commander.” Spock said, and then, “I will understand if you do not wish an audience, but I would be ... most gratified if you would continue.”
         There was in Spock’s request something of the last wish of a man of culture who may be shortly to go mad and die. He was in every way, entirely at Data’s mercy, and yet the unshakable quiet dignity of the man, the steadfastness, the deep and serene joy Data could see that he took from the music, savoring it in the moment, in spite of the frightening and uncertain future, all these things penetrated Data to the soul he could not be certain he possessed.
         The moment crystalized, and their eyes met, and suddenly Data was hearing a conversation from the past -years past, maybe seven or eight years ago, when he had first met Spock.
         “More human?” Spock had asked. Data had just mentioned, in passing, his desire to become ‘more human’.
         “Yes, Ambassador.” Still naive enough to be in awe of the famous ambassador, Data had been astonished that Spock actually deigned to take such an interest in him.
         “Fascinating. You have an efficient intellect, superior physical skills, no emotional impediments. There are vulcans who aspire all their lives to achieve what you’ve been given, by design.”
         “You are half human” Data had responded after a moments consideration of the vulcan’s words.
         “Yes.” he had answered, perfectly unemotionally.
         “Yet you have chosen a vulcan way of life.” Data continued.
         “I have.” Spock confirmed.
         “In effect, “ Data had made his point, “You have abandoned what I have sought all my life.”

         Spock had not responded then, and Data had sometimes worried that it had been a trifle audacious to turn the ambassador’s point back upon him like that, but now Data saw that he had made a deep impression on the vulcan then, just as Spock had made upon him. Had the promise of this future been made at that moment? Had Spock, even as he unknowingly corresponded with him as K’Tvi, wondered about Data -his ‘opposite number’ in the spectrum of personal emotional quests- as he had often found himself, both before and after the activation of his emotions, wondering how Spock fared in his inner journey. They were, it came to Data, two extremes on a pilgrimage to the center, and inner balance. Was there not a kind of perfect symmetry to their making that journey together?
         In that moment of revelation Data’s own desires became clear to him. He did want ... Spock, and hang the sense or presumption of it. He desired strongly to know Spock in every sense of the word. He wanted to learn from him, wanted to devote himself to the elegant vulcan standing before him in what ever small ways he would allow.
         He also realized, marvel of inexplicable marvels, that although this was nothing at all like the way he felt about Jean-Luc Picard, those feelings stood neither greater or lesser next to his feelings about Spock. He could love them each for who they were, as they each saw him, and loved him in his own lights. When he knew that, he knew his choice was made.
         He lifted his violin, smiling to the ambassador, and said, “Of course.”
         He did not know what he was going to play until he set bow to string, and what emerged was a beautiful Bach partita for solo violin. The music poured out of him gloriously, like sunlight pouring through a cathedral rose window, and Data wished as he played for Spock to be bathed in the light of that music, to brighten his soul with the whole spectrum of stained glass colors. Observing the approval and pleasure shining in the vulcan’s eyes as the last notes faded away, Data laid down his violin, removed his uniform jacket and com-badge, approached Spock, and addressed him, in the old High Vulcan tongue.
         “<I have come at the appointed time,
         In the appointed season,
         To the appointed place.
         To join with thee,
         Bond with thee,
         Link with thee.
         That we may remain,
         Never and always,
         Parted from me, yet never parted,
         Touching and touched.>”
         With great feeling and tenderness, and also carefully hidden relief Spock answered in kind.
         “<And I greet thee at the appointed time, ...>”
         As he finished speaking he raised his eyes to meet Data’s fully, and Data could see the fever lurking just below the surface. Still, it was with great control that he spoke next.
         “One last chance now, has thee, to turn aside from this course. After this, no turning back. What we will do in what follows cannot be undone. I enjoin thee -know thy heart, and if that knowledge is not to be attained, then take not this next step. By all thee holds precious and sacred, are thee certain of thy heart?”
         “I am.” said Data, carefully and very, very certainly.
         Spock drew a deep and not altogether steady breath, and lifted his right hand, first two fingers extended.
         “Then be thou t’hyla to me,” he recited. “Now and forever.”
         And Data lifted his hand likewise to reply.
         “Now and forever.”
         The two pairs of fingers touched.
         The sensation, for Data, was not unlike that of grounding a powerful electrical current, except that instead of coursing through his physical form, he felt it in the core of his emotional being with a force that made him want to shiver and sob out loud.
         He sighed, by way of compromise, and gazed raptly at Spock’s face. Eyes closed, the elegant features displayed an open warmth seldom revealed in a face that could be as hard and cold as the depths of space. Without opening his eyes Spock moved his fingers to caress the back of Data’s hand, and gradually climb up his bare arm.
         Data drew a sudden breath at the sensations Spock’s caresses produced inside him. His T’hyla looked up now, eyes open, and lifted his fingers to stroke Data’s face, tracing the line of his ears, his jaw, his lips.
         “So perfect.” the vulcan murmured. “Thee are so very perfect.”
         Part of Data wanted to protest, but simply could not, because now Spock’s lips were drawing nearer, and nearer still ...
         Theoretically, one can cross half a distance, and then half the remaining distance, and so on ..., forever, and never actually traverse the full original distance. This thought crossed Data’s mind in the eternal seeming seconds as Spock’s fevered, copper flushed lips approached to .04, then .02, then .01, and then only .005 millimeters away.
         Contact was release. Something inside him broke lose when their lips touched, and then he was devouring the vulcan’s mouth -an oasis of welcoming moisture in a dessert face- feeling Spock’s tongue, incandescent with it’s own heat, plumbing the depths of his mouth in return.
         Quickly he felt Spock’s fingers finding the meld points, and Data tried to prepare for what would follow. The moment of heat he had felt earlier, when Spock’s control had faltered, was as the brief flair of a match compared to the solar furnace that burst upon his mind now. For a fraction of a second (0.68 seconds or less) he was utterly terrified, and then he was overcome. The power of Spock’s passion brilliantly illuminated every dusty and neglected corner in the depths of Data’s soul, and in one of them it found a seed. It was the seed of Data’s own star, requiring the fire of another star to ignite it and now, basking but a few moments under Spock’s bright presence, it burst forth with a strength and brightness no less than the one that had sparked it. Data felt it blaze up within him and cast it’s own light deep into Spock’s own soul, and Data heard Spock laugh with joy.
         “Perfect!” he rejoiced. “Thee art perfect!”
         The sensation of Spock’s laughter was, for Data, like a euphoric and an aphrodisiac all at the same time. So naturally Data was delighted to find that Spock had begun to remove his clothing, reverently, as though opening a rare and valuable gift. Data reciprocated, but found his task much too easily accomplished, as Spock wore nothing but his black silk meditation robe. At the vision of the vulcan’s elegant body and proudly erect sex, Data was nearly overcome with desire. his first impulse was to kneel before him and worship him with his mouth and hands, but he hesitated because he also really wanted Spock to finish undressing him. His shirt was off, anyway, and Spock’s fingers were savoring the waistband of his uniform trousers. The vulcan was clearly enjoying himself, but he too was growing impatient. Data’s trousers and underwear were removed together, but when he sat on the edge of a bunk to remove his boots Spock suddenly fell upon him like a starving man at a banquet. He only got one boot off before he was rendered incapable of sensible action, and thus his left boot (encumbered with his uniform trousers and underwear around his left ankle) remained on yet unremarked upon for the next while.
         Spock pushed him forcefully back onto the bunk, claiming him with his mouth, and sometimes his teeth, over Data’s face, lips, neck and shoulders. Spock’s hands moved over his torso, gripping with a sometimes bruising force, until they brushed his yearning cock. Now Spock stroked it with a sudden gentleness and the sensations that resulted created a sort of feedback loop of pleasure between the two linked minds. Data moaned and gasped helplessly on the bed while Spock chuckled with pleasure above him. The look on Spock's face was purely feral as he ran a fevered finger along the crack of Data’s ass and probed his opening. Data watched, helpless with anticipation, as Spock daubed his finger with some of the generous amounts of precum seeping from his cock. Thus lubricated, he probed more deeply and Data sighed with delight at being entered, relaxing his opening to allow more. It took little time for both to lose patience with these preliminaries, but when Data saw Spock preparing to lick his palm in order to apply moisture to his more than ready cock he reached out with android quickness to grab Spock’s wrist and stop him.
         Now that Data had gained the vulcan’s attention Spock saw the image in Data’s mind and smiled to comply, offering his open palm for Data to lick and coat with a clear lubricant gel. Spock shared the sensation of working Data’s condensed saliva over his cock, as Data shared his anticipation with his lover, finding it twinned with Spock’s, and together they were driven forcefully into their conjoining. Spock had barely entered him before he was hammering into Data with terrifying force. Spock’s presence in his mind was animal, hardly sentient, and yet some how, illogically, bewitching.
         The madness beckoned to him, the notion that he might exist, even for a moment, in a state the exact opposite of how he had lived most of his life, the terrifyingly dangerous idea that it might be possible for him to know only emotion, freed of every bit of his reason and intellect, the thundering realization that surely he could know this never before imagined freedom if he but joined Spock in his madness, how easy it would be ...
         This very realization sent him, and then Spock over the edge, his own hot spending flowing over his and Spock’s intertwined fingers as he cried out in joy. Spock thrust mightily within him once, twice, and then roared with release, finally collapsing to lay on top of Data on the bunk.
         Both lay still, breathing heavily in the quasi silence of a cloaked klingon scout ship, traversing the empty quarters of Romulan space, at warp 1.7.
IV: A Secret History of Vulcan
         Data lay and listened to that silence as he felt the last traces of ecstasy ebb away, and began, out of habit, to gather his thoughts. Spock’s presence in his mind was now a slumbering smolder, though Spock himself was not asleep, only experiencing the extreme lassitude that comes with utter satiation. Data was sympathetic, but he had experienced something of a revelation a little while ago (not the first time he had come to an important realization at such a moment) and was quite eager to explore the idea that had so stricken him.
         *To lose control so completely, abandon all reason and rationality, and live only in my emotions, ... even for a few seconds.* The thought terrified him, and yet ...
         *Thee art indeed ready for the Kol’sh’harr.* No longer sleeping, the smolder still banked, Spock’s thoughts were clear in Data’s mind. He found himself longing for the conventions of words, though, and so struggled to sit up on the low bunk. Spock sat as well and helped Data shed his remaining boot and trouser leg.
         “You have mentioned the Kol’sh’harr before, but I remain unenlightened as to it’s meaning.” Data said when they had settled, sitting next to one another on the bunk.
         “A simplistic translation is ‘total emotion’, just as a simplistic translation of Koli’nor is ‘total logic’. They can also be read to mean ‘power of emotion’ or ‘power of logic’, the true meaning lies somewhere in between. The Kol’sh’harr is a discipline, just as is the Koli’nor, but though the two disciplines may seem to be each other’s opposite, in truth one is more of a ... continuation of the other.”
         Spock’s voice rolled dark and warm as the vulcan spoke with his eyes half closed, and Data realized that there were images and impressions accompanying the words, through his link with Spock.
         “In the time before Surak the Kol’sh’harr were the masters of all Vulcan. My world was then ruled, as you surely know, by any number of monarchs, clan leaders, and despots of every variety, but behind every one that ever gained any great power, there was a Kol’sh’harru, a sort of vulcan sorcerer, if you will.”
         Images of a figure -sometimes male, sometimes female, in ornate robes standing alongside a medieval vulcan potentate, as he met with advisors, held court, ran military campaigns- moved past Data’s inner eye.
         “Our legends have accorded these sages great powers -the power to raise a fog, or a wind storm, render a woman barren, or a man impotent, even the power to stop a man’s heart with a thought. Indeed, none of these things is outside the realm of possibility, but if the Kol’sh’harru were known for their power, never were they known for their restraint, and neither were they known for their mercy, nor fondness for justice. Rather, the Kol’sh’harru, like the men whose regimes they supported, and occasionally toppled, were driven by shortsighted ambition, greed and lust, and in the end, were as much a target of Surak’s reforms as our rulers.
         “Just as my people came onto the estates of our greatest tyrants and dismantled them so that the wealth might be distributed among our most neglected, so did they come also to the Kol’sh’harr monasteries, and after that time the Kol’sh’harr are considered to have been disbanded.”
         The images in Data’s mind were not of looting and burning as one might have expected had the history been a human one, but this was a revolution of logic, and what Data saw were many young vulcan men and women carefully removing, cataloging, and packing up the contents of opulent palaces, manor houses, and temples.
         “Surak created the Koli’nor to replace them, and they have been the seat of spiritual power on vulcan ever since. Enjoined to separate themselves from matters of state in all cases, they have kept the ancient healing arts, and continue to maintain the most ancient of our ancestor shrines. Publicly, all of vulcan will avow that the powers and observances of the ancient Kol’sh’harr are irredeemably lost.”
         Spock interrupted himself, sitting up to stretch his back, and nearly banging his head on the upper bunk.
         “This is not comfortable.” he announced. “Let us rearrange our accommodations. I suggest removing all the mattresses from the bunks and laying them on the floor here.”
         Data concurred and set about moving the mattresses while Spock went to see if pillows or cushions of some sort could be coaxed from the replicator.
         “It is not widely disseminated,” Spock went on as the replicator began it’s work. “But most vulcan histories relate that Surak was trained as an adept of high level in the Kol’sh’harr, before he came to teach logic and disbanded the order. Many of his first followers were, in fact, peers of his in the Kol’sh’harr. Some disavowed all formal practice, some, with Surak, helped to found the Koli’nor, but a secret few he sent to keep the knowledge of the Kol’sh’harr -it is, after all no more logical to discard knowledge than it is to burn books. These, most trusted few, he enjoined to keep their new order a secret, to eschew power and celebrity, and to enforce these restraints in any and all followers. He has not, to this day, been betrayed. Neither, I might add,” Spock said looking up at Data with great affection, “has any outworlder come to learn our teachings, much less study and apply them with such diligence.”
         The replicator now began disgorging large pillows -compressed when they left the replicator, but expanding remarkably when shaken open. Six emerged before it stopped, and all were scattered on the mattressed compartment of floor between the bunks. Data made himself comfortable, sitting cross legged and naked among them. Spock had donned his robe to work with the replicator, as the shuttle was not vulcan warm. Seeing this Data asked the ship’s computer to increase, as Spock sat next to him, leaning comfortably into the cushions as he pulled Data close.
         “How did you learn of them?” Data asked after a little while.
         “The Kol’sh’harr ... ‘recruit’ in certain places. The K’keft Taa forum is one place where contemporary Kol’sh’harru non-initiates can meet and exchange ideas. Those who show promise there can be contacted individually. They also follow the progress of certain acolytes in the Koli’nor, and those that achieve high level initiation, but do not take the final devotions are often the most promising candidates.”
         “Was that how you were contacted?” Data asked as he watched Spock’s hand slowly caressing the inside of his thigh.
         Spock nodded absently. “As I said before, it is a continuation. Surak intended the Koli’nor to be a preparation to the reformed and secret Kol’sh’harr -those who came to see the limits of pure logic, after learning the extent of the power of logic- they were the ones Surak deemed fitted to bear the responsibilities and the power of the Kol’sh’harr.”
         Spock fell silent and seemed lost -feeling Data’s smooth skin under his hand- but a few moments later he began to speak again, very quietly.
         “Thee has an opportunity, if thee so desire it, to become Initiate in the first level of the Kol’sh’harr. The initiation can only be given by one ... in the throes, such as I am, of the farr’k’tow -the mating drive. You are, in my estimation, more than ready ... and it would please me to be able to give you this gift, though you are free to refuse if that is thy will.”
         Data was, himself, becoming lost in the feel of the vulcan’s heated touch on his thigh, and it took a moment for the import of Spock’s offer to sink in.
         “You offer this,” he asked hesitantly, after a moment of stunned silence. “knowing who ... and what ... I am?”
         In the background current of the link he still shared with Spock, he detected a note of sorrow at his question, which in turn bought a sense of resolve to the vulcan.
         “We hold the belief, in the Kol’sh’harr, “ the vulcan spoke, “that the true nature of the universe may be more clearly perceived if we bring together as many varied and diverse kinds of views of the universe as possible. Just as the location of any point in three dimensional space may be most accurately determined by being apprehended from three or more known locations in space, a universe with infinite dimensions must be viewed from an infinite number of directions to be truly known. Of all the infinite perspectives in the universe, yours is most precious and unique. The Kol’sh’harr will welcome you and value you for who you are, as I do. It saddens me that you believe that you should be valued less because you know the name of your creator.”
         Data found himself at a loss for words, and remembering that none were really necessary, he took one of Spock’s hands between his own and lifted it to his lips.
         “I would be honored,” he said after a quiet moment, “to enter in to such a fellowship.”
V: The Touch of Ecstasy
         There was a spark of quiet pride in Spock’s eyes as he lifted two fingers to beckon Data’s.
         “We must begin thy preparations then, young adept.” Spock said when he had captured Data’s twinned fingers.
         “Thee has guessed already what lies at the heart of the first initiation of the Kol’sh’harr. The shall learn what it is to release thyself, totally, into chaos.”
         Even now, listening to Spock describe it, the thought struck terror into Data’s soul, even as it exerted a powerful allure on a newly discovered part of himself which he did not understand at all. Spock evidently sensed Data’s discomfort for he pulled him closer and stroked his face tenderly.
         “Fear not, my t’hyla, thee shall be prepared. We shall work four preparatory exercises together, and when the moment comes thee shall be well ready and we -thee and I together- shall come to know the most exquisite joy.”
         Spock’s voice and smile, and the touch of his mind were so steeped with desire that Data’s breath caught in his throat.
         “Yesss ... “ Spock’s hypnotic baritone drew the word out until Data was captivated by it, like a bird before a snake, as Spock’s right hand caressed Data’s jaw and throat, and came to rest over his heart.
         “We are indeed ready to begin.” Spock knelt beside Data as he gestured him to lay back among the cushions. He began to stroke Data’s body slowly with the first two fingers of his right hand. Wherever Spock’s paired fingers touched him, Data noticed, the sense of ‘touch’ seemed to extend inward, into that mysterious place (or places) where his feelings came from. Joy, pleasure, giddiness, or desire were wrung out of him with only the lightest of touches on his throat, his thigh, his knee, his belly ... , as the vulcan observed him and smiled.
         At last the fingers came to rest on Data’s forehead, above and between his eyes.
         “Before thee gives thyself away, thee shall have it taken from thee.” Spock murmured. “Does thee trust me?”
         “Yes.” Data spoke, amazed that he was able to.
         “Even as I steal thee away, piece by piece?”
         “Yes.” Data answered almost before he was aware of it.
         “Then I shall begin with thy vision ... “
         Data felt Spock ... do something in his mind, and suddenly he was no longer accessing his visual processors. *Malfunction!* A thrill of terror ran through him, but he quenched it quickly. It was Spock. Spock had done this -on purpose- and he trusted Spock, with far more than his vision. He was safe. Spock *had* taken away his access to his visual processors, but that was all right because Spock was still *touching* him that way. Spock, Data reflected, held his very soul in his hands -he could have any part of Data he wanted. He relaxed.
         Spock’s wandering fingers found their way back up to Data’s throat, where they caressed him lovingly and then lingered at the base of his jaw.
         “Now thy tasting I will have, and thy scenting.”
         An ordinary human might not have noticed the loss of their sense of smell or taste as sharply as the loss of their vision, but to Data a down system was a down system, and three at once set off all kinds of alarms. *Spock has them. Spock has me. I am safe.* He repeated this to himself until it became a kind of mantra.
         When he tried any of the vulcan meditations he’d learned Spock's touch would would drive the thread of them out of his mind. In the middle of any long and ordered progression Data would find himself suddenly wildly giddy, or aching with desire, and all the sense and order would be gone.
         “Thee will find no shelter in order or logic.” Spock chastised, his voice smiling in such a way that both frightened and aroused Data profoundly.
         Spock now lifted Data’s head, cradling it in his lap, as his fingers came to rest at the back of Data’s skull. He knew what was coming next. He was almost not afraid any more.
         “Now thy hearing shall I have.” Spock whispered lovingly into his ear, brushing it with his lips, and then Data was immersed in utter silence.
         Besides the fact that there were now three alarms going off somewhere, Data had never before experienced this sort of sensory deprivation. It was most disorienting. Then he became aware of Spock’s presence in his mind, controlling and calming.
         *Thee shall know only touch in this exercise -and thee shall see that a world reduced is a world expanded.*
         Then Spock’s presence -or the part that spoke, since they were still fully linked- withdrew, though the sensation of Spock’s hands caressing his body quickly took it’s place in prominence. Data’s natural sense of touch was, perhaps, not so intimately connected as that which he had experienced with Borg technology, but it was more than sufficient to fire his desires under ordinary circumstances. Now, with the addition of Spock’s influence on his senses, Spock’s touches and strokes soon rendered Data delirious with pleasure.
         It took him a while to realize that the vibrations he felt at the back of his throat were from the moans he could not hear himself making. Spock's lips and teeth were working at his nipples now, his hands caressing the inside of Data’s thigh, ... his neck, ... his buttocks. Data gave up trying to figure out where Spock was, how he was facing, and just let himself be touched, handled, stroked, licked, bitten and fondled.
         So lost was he in these sensations that when he felt Spock’s fever hat touch trace the length of his aching cock he moved without thinking about it -thrusting his hips up to press his yearning sex against ... anything. He felt himself moan loudly, then felt the strength of Spock’s hands -the ordinarily renowned Vulcan strength now augmented by the mating drive- pinning him down at the hips. Feeling the heat of the vulcan’s entire body covering his was almost more exiting than his touches, but al that dimmed quickly in the sensation of what Data was sure must be Spock’s lips kissing his grateful sex.
         Surely it was because next came the exquisite sensation of Spock’s tongue tracing the contours of Data’s cock and balls. Then, could it be? ... Yes, yes, Spock was taking him into his mouth, oh ecstasy! To be engulfed in that hungry heat, feeling Spock’s tongue working the length of his shaft. In the absence of virtually any other input, the sensations seemed for a moment to be capable of overloading his positronic net with pleasure.
         The faintest nudge of Spock’s presence in his mind suggested to him that further pleasures lay waiting at his lips. He reached our with his tongue to find Spock’s smoldering hardness there. Now he knew how Spock was situated!
         He took Spock’s meat into his mouth with real pleasure and enthusiasm. He could not taste the bitter copper tang of him, nor smell the spicy desert musk he had come to enjoy so recently, but at the moment just exploring the shape and textures of him in his mouth was more than enough.
         And what was more thrilling? To feel the contours of the double ridges at the head of Spock’s sex in the back of his throat, or the way Spock’s body quivered above him when he ran his tongue over them. He couldn’t possibly say. His own body was trembling with rapture, and he felt adrift -floating on a sea of touching skin.
         Adrift. Yes, that was the key. In the back of his mind he could feel Spock’s fires glowing more brightly. He needed to touch .. more. He reached out with his hands to clutch at Spock, grabbing the vulcan’s firm ass and pulling his cock deeper into Data’s throat. It was good. He focussed every faculty at his disposal on the sensations he was feeling. Expanded his examinations until there was no room left in his positronic net for anything else. No room for his visualizations of how he and Spock lay, no room for his imaginings of the sounds they were making, or of the tastes and smells ne might be experiencing, no room for thoughts of any kind. Now he was truly adrift.
         Adrift yes, but also being drawn along unerringly in Spock’s wake. Adrift, carried along in a raging torrent of Spock’s passion. His whole being was engulfed, as his cock was engulfed in the vulcan’s hungry mouth. He let the sensations fill him, as he welcomed Spock’s fevered hardness filling his mouth and throat. His world dwindled. A single touch, a single moment became his whole world. Yet within each touch, each moment, there was a whole world of sensation. Time slowed to near stopping -so slow that he could perceive the expanding bubble of their coming release. This foreknowledge allowed him to catch the wavefront of ecstatic release as the bubble burst. It carried them both, screaming with pleasure, out and away, at last, from the epicenter of their climax, and when at last the wave rolled out to it’s end, it left them lying on more familiar and conventional shores.
         Data felt his senses returning one by one -hearing, taste, smell, and finally vision. It was a vision that Data would not soon forget: Spock lay facing him, half propped up on the cushions, with an astonishing smile -almost a grin!- on his face.
         “Thee has quite an ... aptitude for these exercises, my young adept.” he said.
         “I have had the most excellent of teachers.” Data replied.
VI: Transcendent Vision
         This remark so flattered the vulcan that he allowed Data to coax him into consuming a relatively substantial meal -it having been eight or more hours since he had eaten last. Data shared some of Spock’s repast while they chatted idly about interstellar politics, current events, and Starfleet gossip. After he’d finished eating Spock declared that he’d like a short nap, and Data lay down in the cushions with him, feeling wonderfully cherished in the vulcan’s warm embrace. Wrapped in the exclusive circle of Spock’s ardent affection, Data felt enormously privileged -fortunate beyond measure. He lifted one of Spock’s hands to his lips to kiss it, moved to answer the astonishing tenderness of the rare and extraordinary man he’d so recently come to love.
         *A neutral observer might find themselves hard pressed to determine which of the occupants of this vessel were more ‘rare’.*
         Even asleep, Spock’s mind was still linked to his, tracking his thoughts. Though his body still slept, his mind half waked, just enough to steer his acolyte away from the trap of self effacement disguised as admiration. Data smiled inwardly, acknowledging his bias.
         *If thee requires something to occupy thy thoughts while I sleep, think on this: in the next exercise I shall put away all my own senses save for sight. Thee must ... engage me. Thee may want to plan.*
         Indeed he might. This challenge occupied Data’s thoughts most thoroughly for the next two hours or so, as Spock slept soundly. When the vulcan began to wake, however, aroused and eager to continue, Data did in fact, have a plan.
         Spock went to use the facilities -as he generally did after rising- and while he was thus occupied Data went forward to check on the ships systems, and confirm their course and speed. Neither he nor Spock were wearing a stitch of clothing; the whole of the interior of the tiny ship was vulcan warm, and there was no one on board save for himself and Spock. Still, it felt ... peculiar to Data to sit, stark naked, at the command station and perform such conventional tasks. The incongruity of his nudity and his work-day surroundings had an ... intriguing effect on him. It felt a little audacious, and rather exhilarating, and he suspected that Spock would find it so as well.
         He let Spock find him there, when he’d finished in the head, and he felt Spock’s gaze upon him, both desirous and curious, the second he stepped around the engine core and Data came into his line of sight. Data swiveled in his chair to face him, but didn’t rise.
         “Does thee wish to work here, then?” Spock asked, lifting a single graceful eyebrow.
         “I do.” Data replied, challenging the vulcan to admit to his curiosity.
         Spock responded by taking a seat at the pilot’s station next to Data, and turning his chair to face him. When Data turned again towards Spock they faced each other -with the console and the big sloping view-port on Data’s right and Spock’s left- stark naked and already slightly aroused in front of God, hyperspace and everybody.
         “Are we ready to begin?” Spock asked.
         Data nodded, and as he did so, felt his awareness of the link with Spock increase and intensify. Simultaneously, he watched Spock settle back in his chair and close down his awareness of his own senses. One by one Data felt him shut out his senses smell, taste, touch, and last of all, hearing.
         Data felt the link very strongly now, indeed. Spock’s narrowed world was quite intense and intruded on Data’s own senses. Seeming for a moment to be affected with double vision, Data blinked, and when his eyes were closed he saw ... himself -through Spock’s eyes, of course. He closed his eyes again and took in Spock’s vision.
         His pale and perfect body lay back in the chair, relaxed, legs parted, softly erect. He was wearing an astonishingly whimsical smile which, had he seen it through his own eyes, would have made him feel a bit self conscious. But he was looking through Spock’s eyes, and Spock found his expression to be utterly beguiling. Leaving his eyes closed so that Spock would know that he was seeing through the vulcan’s eyes only, he reached up slowly, languorously, and began to touch himself -brushing his fingers over a nipple, running his hands over his chest an belly, stroking the insides of his thighs.
         He drew his pale fingers along the length of his now rigid and quivering sex and felt Spock’s vision burn in his mind. With relaxed and casual motions he next lifted his left hand to his mouth and then -with a gesture positively incandescent with desire- slowly licked, with the full surface of his tongue, across the palm of his hand, leaving it glistening with a thick layer of his thickened saliva. With equal deliberateness of gesture Data wrapped his hand around his proudly erect cock and slowly began to work it. Data moaned with pleasure, the sensations overwhelming Spock’s vision for a moment, but as he let what he was feeling show on his face, his features contorting with pleasure, Spock’s vision intensified still more, and Data heard the vulcan moan aloud in an echo to his own.
         Data peered out from under lidded eyes, holding Spock’s vision in his minds eye, he segregated his own vision and focussed on it for a moment. Spock sat across from him, relaxed save for his eyes gazing intently at him, and his cock, rigid with excitement and radiating a heat that Data could all but feel where he sat. Data continued to stroke himself slowly, playing with one nipple or other with his right hand, while Spock’s breaths became shorter and harsher and his moans more frequent. Data though, had allowed himself to become distracted from the vulcan’s vision by his own vision -of the vulcan’s gracefully erect cock.
         He had begun to desire it from the moment he had stolen the glimpse of Spock, and now he was obsessed with the notion of tasting it (again!). He gathered his thoughts for a moment -with some difficulty- to weigh his strategy. Spock would not feel Data’s mouth on his cock, but he could *see* it, and the vision would be, Data thought with delight, easily as alluring as what he had been seeing heretofore.
         As he knelt down in front of his lover however, he found he was still faced with a few challenges. One was that most of Spock’s objects of visual interest would be blocked by Data’s head, and another was that his own point of view was much too delightful to leave unobserved. Having apprehended the situation thusly it took mere nano-seconds for Data to arrive at his next course of action. Before he fell to his much anticipated feast he reached up with his hand to gently close Spock’s eyes, simultaneously inviting, through the link, for Spock to share his vision. As he had seen through Spock’s eyes before, now Spock saw through his, and Data felt Spock’s pleasure at what his eyes beheld.
         Data took his time savoring the vision of the green patinaed bronze colored cock before him, and carefully arranged himself so that his own organ and the hand that continued to work it, remained in his field of vision. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it. It became more difficult still as Data at last began to kiss and lick the vulcan’s magnificent sex, but Spock’s passionate moans and the fire of the ardor in his mind told him he was not failing in his goal.
         When, at last, Data came to consume the entire length of Spock’s magnificent cock, the challenge was not closing his eyes to savor it as he was accustomed to, but to keep his focus on the subject at hand (subjects, rather -one at hand and one at mouth!). In the end he fell to the strategy of shifting his focus back and forth -from the cock between his lips to the one he still stroked steadily with his left hand, and back again. To his surprise and delight, Data found the effect of this visual battery quite stimulating for both of them.
         The desire to close his eyes fled instantly. Instead he found his eyes drawn from one alluring vision to the next, compelled as much as his hand on his cock, or his lips and tongue on Spock’s. His eyes were now as much a sexual organ as his genitals, mouth or skin. The climax building in them both now had it’s beginning in Data’s vision, firing both their minds and coursing through both their bodies. They came simultaneously and Data lifted his lips away from Spock’s flesh without thought, to watch the seed pulsing from both their cocks. Only then did he realize that Spock had opened his eyes to watch Data, watching themselves come. He opened himself to Spock’s vision again, experiencing a moment of double vision -his own intent features transposed over their two quivering cocks- and felt the intensity of Spock’s passion for him evoked by that vision.
         On impulse he rose to kiss his lover, the exercise and it’s parameters be damned, and found the vulcan already bringing back the rest of his senses. Spock responded to Data’s kiss with all his senses and all his passion, and Data felt the partially banked fires of the farr’k’tow within Spock surge suddenly into an inferno of desire, igniting Data as well, body and mind.
         Though they had both just climaxed Data was, like Spock, consumed with fresh ardor, and eagerly moved to Spock’s desire. Together they were one organism whose only purpose in life was to satisfy Spock’s overwhelming need. Data turned and knelt on the chair he had previously occupied, bracing his chest against the back as Spock thrust into him from behind. Both cried out in relief at being entered/entering. Both arched and lunged with all their strength and will to bring their hungry flesh together, Spock’s hands gripping Data’s arms and torso with bruising, even bone crushing strength.
         Data lost all track of time, place -everything but his own bodies need, answering Spock’s and feeding his as well, until he felt Spock’s fingers, the same ones that seconds ago had clutched at him with such uncontrolled force, tenderly stroking his own cock, in rhythm with their thrusting. The universe seemed to fall out from under Data then. He was, in passing, aware of two voices howling with ecstasy, and that he seemed to be falling -as his limbs no longer possessed any strength or will of their own. But Spock’s strong arms were around him and he was never afraid.
VII: A Feast of Delights

         Such was the lassitude that possessed Data in the passing of this last climax that when he felt Spock lift him and carry him to their ‘bower’ in the rear of the ship, he allowed this without protest. He lay in loose limbed comfort for several moments before stirring himself, and when he did he found Spock engaged in writing what seemed a complex replicator program. Hearing him stir, Spock stepped away from his work to greet Data with the tenderest of kisses.
         “Once again thee has shown great promise, young adept.” he said with pride and affection.
         “Two more exercises must before thy initiation now, and it is traditional at this point for the initiate to rest and restore themselves before continuing. I know thee does not sleep, none the less, it might be wise for thee to meditate some hours or partake in some other restorative activity while I prepare for the next exercise.”
         Data nodded thoughtfully. “Perhaps this would be an appropriate occasion for me to engage my dreaming function.” Spock’s eyebrows rose at this revelation, but he said nothing.
         “It does seem to have a restorative effect on my emotional well-being, much of the time.” he continued. “I generally set it to run for about 20 minutes. Will that be sufficient?”
         “It will be sufficient for my tasks, but you must take as much time as you need.” Spock answered.
         Data shrugged as he sat back among the cushions. “I confess, having never attempted anything of this nature before, I have no idea whatsoever how my endurance for these activities may be assured. Meditations might indeed prove useful to that end, but I have a ... hunch that running my dreaming program may bring the best results.”
         Spock nodded in concurrence, and after assuring that Data need nothing else from him for the moment, returned to his task. Data, for his part, made himself comfortable amongst the bedding, closed his eyes, and entered into his dreams.
         It came as no surprise to find himself dreaming of Picard. More pleasant still, it was not with guilt or sorrow that he dreamed of his other lover, but with pleasure of remembrance, a little longing to have him here, sharing these new joys, and anticipation for the reunion he knew lay in the future. Waking he might have found himself troubled, not knowing how Jean-Luc would react to his new relationship, but in the dream he knew only joy and pleasure in his captain’s company, and so he awoke relaxed, refreshed, and a little aroused.
         Spock was sitting close beside him when he woke, smiling as he sensed the gist of Data’s dream through their link.
         “I owe thy captain much.” said Spock upon seeing him waken, stroking Data’s face tenderly. “I must think on a way to show him my gratitude.”
         Data had just caught the edge of Spock’s imaginings along that line -delicious imaginings indeed- when the replicator indicated that it had finished with the task that Spock had put it to. Spock rose and quickly returned bearing a tray upon which were nine tiny cordial glasses, each filled with a pale colored liquid, no two being quite the same tint,
         “Are you familiar,” Spock asked as he lowered himself to sit again next to Data, and set the tray on the adjacent empty bed, “with Lgly’ng nectar?”
         “Do you refer to the liquor made by the monks of the Ch’kft’stt monastery of A’grh province?”
         Spock nodded, and gestured for Data to go on with what he knew.
         “It is said to be made from the blossoms of the s’tvie thorn bush which, it is also said, blooms only once every seventeen years and, according to some sources, the liquor must be aged for one hundred years before it loses it’s toxicity.”
         Spock had gathered up Data’s hand as he spoke, and had begun to caress it, deliberately, with his two joined fingers. The sensation made him want to close his eyes and fall into the vulcan’s smoldering voice, and so he did.
         “This is all true, beloved. “He murmured distractingly. “What is also true is that monks of the Ch’kft’stt monastery were once, you will, I am certain, not be surprised to learn, powerful Kol’sh’harru, most renowned in the domain of intimate pleasures. Much of the Lgly’ng nectar made today is pleasant enough, but the Kol’sh’harru of ancient Ch’kft’stt (as do some few and secret Kol’sh’harru today) made of the s’tvie thorn flowers a most powerful aphrodisiac and ... stimulant in nine parts. Nine different liquors are made, one for each of the nine days that the s’tvie thorn flower blooms, each made only of flowers in the same stage of bloom. The replicator program that I have used to create these was the life's work of a contemporary Kol’sh’harru who dwelt near the old monastery. It is based on an historically famous vintage, from approximately two hundred fifty years ago. These nine elixirs, when drunk in order, and with certain conditions they act ... most powerfully. These replicated cordials are remarkably effective, but I long for the day when I may entertain you on my home world and there we may sample the divine nectar in truth.”
         Spock’s voice had dropped to a nearly inaudible purr as he lifted his paired fingers to Data’s lips where he could indeed smell something intoxicating on Spock’s fingertips.
         “Curiously, “ Spock murmured into Data’s ear, “nothing in the liquor acts on the brain or nervous system. It’s effect comes entirely from it’s taste and smell.”
         Data blinked in surprise. Of course no ordinary aphrodisiac -or systemic pharmaceuticals of any kind- would have any effect on Data, but this might well. Intrigued, Data began to sit up to examine the cordials more closely, but Spock stopped him.
         “Lie back.” he commanded, and Data acquiesced at once. He watched as the vulcan selected one of the miniature goblets from the tray and lifted it to his nose, then dipped the very tip of his finger in and drew it languorously across his upper lip.
         “Taste what I taste, t’hyla;”he intoned, the iron of his command encased in the velvet of his voice. “Smell what I smell. Nothing else is of consequence.”
         Data understood what Spock wanted and strove to comply. Unlike the previous exercises where he or Spock had their senses eliminated, here he was to set them aside himself -allowing them to remain active but unaccessed -in order to focus with intent on the object of the exercise. Reaching through the link -with some practiced skill, now- to his vulcan lover he found Spock’s mind open and inviting, drawing him easily within, to experience what the vulcan did. He caught a glimpse of his own form, eyes closed and resting on the cushions before him (before Spock, that is), then Spock closed his own eyes, cutting Data off from even that connection to himself. He began to notice the taste then, on Spock’s lip, and wondered how he had not before. It was sweet and spicey, like cinnamon or clove, but smoother with a flavor like white grape juice, and also musty, like black currents. It was an incredibly complex flavor, and it was currently all mixed up with the coppery tang of his lover’s mouth. Now Spock was lifting the cordial again, inhaling the vapors deeply, and Data lost himself in the vulcan’s perception of the scent. It, like the liquor’s taste was complex and multi-layered, but more ethereal -some of the tones seeming to fall just outside the vulcan’s range of smell, if that was possible. And then all was overwhelmed as Spock downed the contents of the first cordial. He held it in his mouth for a while, allowing himself and Data to appreciate not only the layers of flavors in the nectar, but also the feel of the inside of Spock’s mouth, as he rolled the liquor over his tongue, from the front to the back of his mouth, held it suspended over the back of his throat till it threatened to spill into his sinuses, and finally swallowed, letting it burn a trail of sweet fire down his throat to spread throughout his body.
         Data faintly sensed his body stirring as it responded to the sensations of the nectar filling Spock’s body with sweet warmth. Then he was tasting the sweetness mixed with Spock’s copper notes in his own mouth as he realized that Spock was kissing him. He kissed back, focussing only on his lips tongue and mouth, tasting and smelling what they brought him. For a moment he even managed to hold himself suspended in between -tasting both his own and Spock’s mouth, sensing the alchemy of flavors being passed back and forth as they kissed.
         Now Spock’s kissed wandered and grew intermittent. Data tasted his own skin under Spock’s lips, from the vibrating silk of his throat, to the moist warmth of his armpit, the dry smoothness of his chest, and back to his lips again. When he tasted Spock’s fingers on his lips once more he laved them hungrily with his tongue and found the taste of the lgly’ng nectar there again -clearly more of the same, and yet clearly quite different. The sweetness from this cordial burned like ice. He shared the flavor with Spock as they kissed, once again minding how the notes of the liquor changed and were changed by the chemistry of the vulcan’s mouth. Then he felt the smooth cool crystal of the tiny goblet on his lips, and he welcomed the full measure of the second cordial into his mouth.
         The hot sweet fire of the first met the icy fire of the new cordial in a burst of energy so intense that it seemed to Data that some outlet must be achieved lest he burst with the force of it. He was hardly aware of his hands grasping at Spock’s head to draw him onto a searing kiss -sharing both the taste and the inner fire the cordials had sparked.
         *Mind thyself, t’hyla, for we have only begun,* the vulcan thoughts entered his with amusement. *Seven more tastes of ecstasy remain.*
         And so they did. As the day (or evening, or morning -Data had utterly lost track of the time) progressed Data and Spock smelled and tasted, kissed and licked, nibbled and swallowed and drank each new elixir in turn, reveling in each one’s flavor and effects. The third cordial quenched them with a flavor so liquid that it doused the fire within them (without draining away one spark of the energy it had filled them with), and made them feel as if both their bodies had been immersed in it. The fourth, sweet and salty like the ocean, filled them with restiveness, so that they must move like the tides -each driven by a slightly different rhythm- so that each was driven to move with the other and against the other, in concordance with the mystical liquor. The fifth possessed a smokey flavor -and by now the liquors seemed to posses positively hallucinogenic powers- for upon imbibing it the restless liquid motion that had seized them both abated, and left them drifting, vaporous in the grip of the liquor’s influence.
         The sixth seemed to have almost no flavor, but in the search for the subtlest hints of it’s tastes Spock and Data both lost themselves and each other, wandering aimlessly in a maze of the ghosts of past liquors and almost tastes of the present one, until Spock remembered the seventh cordial.
         It tasted of longing, it’s flavor unsatisfying unless tasted with another mouth. At this point Data hardly knew where he ended and Spock began, but he knew with certainty that the thin graceful lips with the rainwater tasting, lightning quick tongue craved the copper tanged, full, fevered, steel strong lips with every particle of both their beings.
         The eighth cordial tasted (impossibly) like light. When both tongues had tasted of it both their bodies became (Data was sure, even with his eyes and Spock’s tightly shut) incandescent with passion. There was still a hint of longing left in him, though, from the last cordial, which sent him searching for the taste that would give satisfaction. He went questing after it, blindly with his mouth and nose only, till he found it -discovering, almost by happenstance, the faint copper tainted seawater flavor of Spock’s precum on his lips. Then, suddenly he craved the taste, driven to distraction by it, that and the warm, desert animal smell of vulcan arousal.
         Spock too, he realized vaguely, was questing too, tasting Data (and Data tasting through him) in every part, drawing in the many and various perfumes and nuances of, till the seeking became finding. What was found -according to the images conjured up from Spock’s thoughts- was a taste that reminded the vulcan of the smell of a certain desert shrub from his home world, when the sun was full on it. It was this musky resinous flavor that Spock felt such an insatiable desire for, seeping from Data’s own cock.
         Astonishingly, the sensation of Spock’s lips and tongue on Data’s cock was all but overwhelmed by the incandescent sensations of the two cravings sated -each finding the taste and smell of the others sex to be a perfect completion to the liquor they had drunk.
         (It would come to fill many an idle hour in Data’s positronic net -wondering how the taste of his own, highly unique, ‘pre-cum’ emissions should be as harmonious a flavor with the mystical Lgly'ng nectar as the conventional biologically produced substance it was designed to accompany. He would develop many theories, but none ultimately satisfactorily.)
         For the moment, however, all Data cared was that he craved the bewitching flavor of the hard flesh which he sucked and caressed with his mouth and tongue, that the taste and the smell of it, combined with the remains of the liquor in his mouth, was driving him mad with desire, that a cherished liquor of a different sort would filling his mouth soon if he didn’t let up, which troubled him not in the least. The situation was, he was quite aware, much the same for Spock, and the sense of Spock’s paralleled joy and pleasure, combined with his, rendered both their souls luminous with ecstasy.
         There was still, however, one more cordial.
         Data could not imagine how Spock had remembered it, but he reminded Data with a thought-image. There was a promise with it, of still more pleasures, and it was this that granted Data the fortitude to give up his pleasant engagement with the vulcan’s delicious cock.
         He sat slowly, blinking, to find himself face to face with his dark and fiery eyed love, and kissed him briefly but lovingly. Spock held the last tiny challis between his fingers, and regarded it reverently for a moment as he caressed Data’s head with his other hand, pulling it close to his so that they both gazed at it, cheeks pressed together. An image from Spock’s mind showed Data what was to follow. They opened their mouths together, extending both their tongues so that as Spock tipped the last cordial the liquor spilled out and both tasted it at once.
         As soon as the last drops had left the cup to fall on their outstretched tongues their two mouths drew together in an all consuming kiss. Both pairs of hands clutching at the others head to deepen the kiss -long jointed fevered fingers grasping through fine brown hair, pale graceful ones ruffling through straight black silk.
         The taste of each others sex in their mouths combined with the ninth magical cordial all but overwhelmed Data’s positronic net, and suffused through his body with a sensation that made it feel as though all his inner workings had somehow liquified. He moaned aloud into the vulcan’s mouth and Spock answered by pressing his whole body into Data’s, pushing him back among the cushions and grinding his pelvis hard into Data’s own. Data pushed back, rolling to lay beside Spock rather than beneath him, and thrusting his rigid erection against Spock’s. Made artless with raw desire, each tried to wrap legs around the other to pull their two rampant cocks together. Mouths opened wide, each desired nothing more than to be swallowed whole by the other, to crawl into the others skin. Two bodies struggled valiantly to become one for a few moments more, until two cocks, trapped between two writhing, sweaty, heated bodies signaled the end of the struggle. But where the two bodies had failed to become one, the two minds together reached that utter singleness of purpose so that they might as well have been one mind indeed. As one they knew climax and release; as one they experienced the tastes and smells of their love, made indescribably compelling by the lgly’ng nectar, and as one they felt the ecstasy of release ebb away and then, and only then, did their lips part.
VIII: Divine Harmonies
         Even after their lips parted, it was a long while before either Data or Spock was willing to leave the close, but relaxed embrace into which they had fallen. Spock eventually drifted into a light doze, but woke after half an hour or so, and then finally had to disentangle himself from Data to get up and use the head. He returned with his mind still on sleep.
         “It has been,” he apologized sleepily and philosophically, “a number of years since I last partook in such activities, and clearly, I am not as young as I was then. The farr’k’tow will not allow me to sleep long-- no more than an hour, I imagine-- but my body demands that I take what rest I can, now.” Data nodded, sitting up in the cushions as Spock settled next to him.
         “Thee has the lead in the next exercise,” Spock remarked to Data, as he laid back and made himself comfortable. “Thee has some idea, I should imagine, upon what it will be based?”
         For an answer, Data smiled, as he stood gracefully and stepped over to the console where he had laid his violin earlier, lifting it to his chin.
         “Shall I serenade you as you sleep, T’hyla?” he asked.
         Spock chuckled affectionately from among the cushions. But for an answer, he touched Data’s mind with a breath of love and ardour so intense, it rendered him weak in the knees for the briefest of moments. Data tried to respond in kind, but Spock was already slipping off to sleep, so he lifted bow to string and began to play his feelings instead.
         Sweet and soulful melodies, much like the 20th century romantics he had been playing earlier, softly filled the tiny space of the scout ship; but these melodies were Data’s own. He had not been thinking of music (in the least!) until a moment ago; but now he found himself inspired as never before. How readily he found within himself melodies and harmonies to express his feelings! Further, he was astonished to find, how truly his feelings were expressed by his musical inventions. Why, he marveled, had he ever even tried to use language to express such things-- an exercise Data had repeatedly found to be a futile one-- when such a profoundly superior agent of expression existed?
         He determined, then and there, to do away with language of every sort for the duration of the exercise. He would communicate with the violin alone, and Spock...would have to improvise. When Data approached the not insignificant task of separating himself from his language, however, he realized that there were two different ways he could go about it. The obvious way would be to selectively shut down his language processing and synthesis systems. This would require tediously searching out dozens of programs and algorythms and temporarily disabling them (and, of course, turning them all back on again, later). Or he could do it the vulcan way.
         At one time Data would have speculated that this latter was only an alternative (telekinetic?) method achieving the same results as the former, conventional technique. Now, ...well, if what he was about to try worked, then that would definitely not be the case. He continued to play, letting his fingers and bow spin out tunes he was only half aware of, though they came from him entirely. At the same time, he cleared his visual mind and placed in it the <jiq’tzche’kha> mandala, the traditional vulcan ‘mind map, ‘ containing the Jiq’tras and other archetypal representations of the functions of the mind. He placed himself-- his awareness-- at the center of that map, as he had done previously in countless meditations and exercises, and sought to connect with the regions of his ‘vulcan’ self called <swe’tkah> and <heit’ktv> (the “out-sending” and the “in-consuming”)-- the vulcan psychospiritual language centers.
         His link with Spock, though the Vulcan still slept quietly, granted him somewhat more skill and perception in this domain, Data realized, then he usually possessed. He had visualized the mandala many times before, even occasionally begun to really sense the different aspects of his self though it, but, he’d never been able to actually manipulate his inner workings, as some of his reading claimed was possible, in any of his own practices. Now, however, things were quite different.
         The subtle influence of the link with Spock made everything clear. It was as simple as walking away, leaving what you don’t want behind you, and taking everything else along, just as before. As easy as unburdening one’s self of a portion of a heavy load. Could one not unburden one’s self of the entire load, then, if just leaving off this bit was so simple (and so liberating)? Yes, he realized, with a sudden thrill, one could, and it was that which awaited him at the conclusion of his initiation. This would be enough for now.
         Indeed, being liberated from the leaden, overgeneralized symbols of conventional language, and all its associated intellectual baggage, lightened his soul to the point that his music lightened in color and increased in tempo suddenly, as he felt it fall away. It was his music, and all else that came to him through his ears, on which he now focussed his attention. As the tempo and tone of his playing picked up, he heard Spock stir among the cushions, and a little while later, softly moan.
         Still playing, Data moved to kneel at his lover’s side, and saw that the fever had come upon him in his sleep. He would wake momentarily. But, Data mused, there was no reason for him to wake in need. Data was, himself, not unaffected by the Vulcan’s state of mind, and was becoming as eager as the half-waked, thoroughly aroused Vulcan. He hardly paused in his playing as he knelt over Spock’s rock-hard and demanding cock. Data sang out his delighte, relief and desire over the violin’s strings as he lowered his own hungry flesh over it and was entered. His heart soared with delight to hear how well his music expressed his feelings and sensations. Data seemed somehow to contain an everflowing wellspring of music. It poured effortlessly out of him and through his arms and hands and fingers, to wring every sound in the world out of his violin, at his mereist whim.
         Spock was definitely awake now, in Data’s mind as well as the body moving rythmically beneathe him. Spock possessed just enough reason to quickly comprehend Data’s approach, and he acknowledged it with approval, banishing his own words with a thought.
         Now, all they heard was sound, understood only for its own sake, free of interpretation or implication. All that remained, their only language, was music.
         As Spock sat up to hungrily devour Data’s nipples, Data found, to his delight and surprise, that a strain of fiery vulcan harmonies had interpolated their way into his violin playing. With a joyful musical laugh, Data invited Spock to contribute more. In answer, an assortment of ancient vulcan melodies, invoking images of passionate desert princes and cool desert nights, were wrung from his violin with his own hands and fingers. Then Spock was bending down to take Data’s cock into his mouth, and Data seized the music back again to let the instrument cry out his ecstacy.
         Spock continued to provoke Data in this manner, until Data was close to the edge; but then he laid back, again, to thrust mightily into his lover, climaxing himself with a roar of pleasure. The fever was full on him, now, though, and he was far from ready to stop. Data rode his cock throughout wih skill and agility --and never once missed a note.
         Spock took the music back afer a little while, matching the easy tempo to the relaxed pace of his gentle thrusting. Data rocked and swayed with the music, with his playing, with the rhythm of Spock’s delicious flesh inside him. The tempo quickened again as Spock reached up to caress Data’s cock, and again Data reclaimed his playing. Thus it went. The music see-sawed back and forth between the two of them, the distinctions between the two becoming less and less. Spock climaxed twice more, and Data never stopped playing, never got tired of having Spock moving inside him. In his way, he was as insatiable as the fever-struck Vulcan.
         Insatiable though he might be, there was a limit to how long he could hold his climax at bay. Spock was teasing him mercilessly, sucking ravenously on his cock, slurping loudly and moaning with pleasure for a few moments, and then moving away to touch or lick him elsewhere. So far, Spock had kept him balanced on the edge with great skill, but sooner or later (sooner, please!) Spock would, intentionally or no, push him over.
         Their musical dialogue had become increasingly intimate, as well. Now they traded phrases, rather than passages, back and forth, and sometimes spun a phrase or melody in tandem, harmonizing with each other’s thoughts. It was in this manner that Spock came to appreciate Data’s growing tension, and Data, Spock’s building farr’k’tow madness.
         As their musical communications chased each toehr over Data’s fingerboard, Data heard and sensed the approach of Spock’s most powerful climax yet. Data would join him, this time, and their music spoke of it with joy and anticipation. The tempo slowed as Spock’s thrusting deepened, and the music devolved into a slow, but accelerating, progression of dense and convoluted chords. It was astonishing to Data that he could continue to play as Spock’s spit-slicked hands worked Data’s cock and balls, expertly stroking those extra sensestive places near the base. It rendered him helpless with pure pleasure, but his violin now almost seemed to be playing itself and compelling his hands and arms to follow. The chords grew thicker, faster. He heard his own notes layered with Spock’s, as their joint cries of ecstacy were wrung out of Data’s instrument; until at last, with a series of ecstatic chords that could have made Anatoly Scriabin (a thousand light years’ distant and four hundred years dead) sit up in his grave to listen, they climaxed together.
         Data let his violin slip away from his shoulder at last, as he threw back his head and cried out with his own voice, as did Spock. When he was able, he leaned forward and kissed his Vulcan love with passion and affection. It was some time before he lifted his head.
         Spock, momentarily sated, was also momentarily sensible, and now needed to speak. So reluctantly, Data let Spock slip from within him, and reshouldered his burden of language.
         “Thee are now ready...quite ready indeed,” Spock said, with pride in his voice and thoughts but only the most tenuous control on the raging fever that burned in him still.
         “The trial, the challenge is before thee now. We have spoken of what it entails. Do you understand what you must do?” he asked.
         Still reeling from the experience of his musical orgasm, and suddenly beginning to understand what lay immediately in store for him, Data was stricken.
         “I...must release...”he flustered after a moment.
         Spock sat forward and laid his trembling hand against Data’s cheek, turning his head so that the wide, golden eyes stared directly into the half-crazed, jet black ones.
         “In a very short while, the madness will take me again,” the Vulcan intoned, in a voice dark as smoke and not quite steady. “And I will not regain control again until the fever has passed altogether. You must join me in the madness. That is the trial of the initiate.”
IX: The Trial of the Initiate.
         Seeing the full extent of the fever madness lurking behind Spock’s eyes for the first time, Data felt his heart falter, and Spock felt it too. He offered Data comfort, sharing with him his deep affection, as he gently stroked Data’s cheek with his thumb.
         “Thee are wise to be afraid, T’hyla, but thee shall come to no harm in the end,” he said kindly. “Thee has proven thyself more than able to endure this trial, and I believe you will find it quite... exhilarating.”
         The madness was back, haunting Spock’s gaze, and striking a potent mixture of terror and arousal through Data’s heart.”
         “To experience the farr’k’tow is to experience my perfect love,” Spock purred. “Will thee not join me?”
         Data felt his mouth go dry (one of the physiological responses he seemed to have acquired along with the emotion chip). At the same time, he felt his cock stiffen. As much as it terrified him, the allure was undeniable.
         Spock laughed, seeing Data’s physical response, and Data heard the lunatic edge to it as he felt the seething furnace of desire, which Spock’s mind had become, waiting at the edge of his. So close. So simple. Yet he was paralyzed.
         Without any further preamble, Spock attacked him, seizing Data’s mouth with his own, plundering it, pushing him back into the cushions. Data did not resist. The farr’k’tow burned in Spock’s eyes; and in his mind, and in Data’s, it beckoned, alluringly, and yet lay before him like a bottomless chasm, as bottomless as the one he could see in Spock’s eyes.
         Suddenly, without further contemplation, Data reached out and wrapped his arms around his love, crushing him to his chest with all the force of all the terror he felt. The he shut his eyes tight and stepped off of the edge.
         The madness seeped into him like water fills a drowning man’s lungs. He gave one last choking cry as the liquid fire of the vulcan’s madness swept through his being, and he was gone -reduced to a scattering of ashes, soon dispersed on the winds. All that remained of him was a fire of desire, a need for completion or destruction, with or of the Other -the Other who was here, with him -a force mirroring his own, driven as he was.
         He attacked -directed by a compulsion he could hardly comprehend, to consume the Other, and annihilate him. The Other’s presence in his mind and in his body drove him mad with the need to serve the Other likewise, and so he did. As he burned his way into the Other’s mind so did did he penetrate the Other’s body -delving into his mouth or thrusting into his ass- as the Other in turn entered his, with fingers, tongue and cock.
         In the bower of blankets and cushions, in the compact scout ship’s sleeping alcove, two bodies struggled and fucked one another with mad abandon. The only sounds filling the close spaces of the cabin were the panting moans and cries generated in their struggle, punctuated once by the sound of a replicated violin being crushed under a rolling body. (No remark was made about this until much later when a few splinters had to be removed.) Climaxes came upon them both, time and time again, marked by sudden guttural shouts as their bodies would spasm in short lived release, then quickly resume their quest for fulfillment in the Other’s flesh. Mouths and asses and cocks and fingers slippery with spit and cum, grasped and bit and sucked and thrust at one another with greater and greater fervor and desperation, and beneath it all, two minds struggled to overwhelm each other in an inferno of mad desire.
         When it seemed at last that their two hearts must be upon the point of bursting -so desperate were their strivings- they came to lie face to face -two pairs of hands each griping the other’s meld points. Eyes as black as the heart of a singularity, from which no light can escape, were locked in a gaze with eyes as bright as the moment of all beginnings, the birth of all the stars on creation, and between those two pairs of eyes, two minds reached an accord. Annihilation would be granted and accepted. Each would get their wish and fulfill the other’s -thus was a covenant made.
         If surrendering himself to Spock’s madness was like stepping off the edge of a chasm, this was like stepping out an airlock into deep space, and yet it was so much easier. He now craved oblivion as he craved the Other’s flesh -more, because even when there was a release for his body there was none for his mind. Even in the obliteration of the Other there would be no peace for him. Only his own dissolution would bring relief from this all consuming, unquenchable desire. He welcomed it as the Other welcomed his.
         Their singleness of purpose and anticipation bought their bodies to climax together, and the power of their joint climaxes kindled their souls’ pyre. With indescribable ecstasy Data surrendered all that was left of himself to it, joining the Other in a perfect union. For one eternal instant they were all ... and then nothing.
         ...and then, little by little, something again. Data was reborn in pleasure and pure joy. His whole life was returned to him, from his happenstance awakening on the deserted colony on Omicron Theta, to this very moment, but now, to Data’s astonishment, feelings and emotions accompanied *all* of his memories, not just the one’s he’d accumulated since he’d acquired his emotion chip.
         His memory of his first awakening was now accompanied by memories of feelings of bewilderment and curiosity. His memories of his years in the Academy and his beginnings in Starfleet evoked feelings of pride and pleasure at meeting the challenges he’d encountered in those years, mixed with confusion and embarrassment for all of the times he’d stumbled over another human idiosyncrasy he hadn’t known about or understood yet. Far more intense were the bittersweet feelings that came with his memories of Tasha Yar, and his encounters with his brother, Lor, and Dr. Soong, the creator Data had always thought of as his father.
         Though this mass of ‘new’ memories might have seemed enough to overwhelm Data entirely, he found himself able to move effortlessly through them, touching each one briefly before sending it to sleep with his other memories. Still, when he arrived at the end of this unexpected odyssey, waking gradually in Spock’s loving embrace, he found his face awash with tears, both of joy and sorrow.
         Spock lifted him up to hold him close and kiss his tears away, and dried Data’s cheeks with his warm, though no longer fevered, fingers.
         “How does thee fair, young seeker?” he asked, tenderly.
         Data nodded, waiting another moment for his voice to steady before he spoke.
         “I have been given a great gift.” he said at last.
         “Such ... epiphanies are not uncommon among initiates of great promise.” he said with a small but proud smile.
         “Did you have such an experience, yourself?” Data asked, after a moment to digest this.
         “I did.” Spock nodded. “I came to realize that James Kirk had loved me for as long as I had loved him.” he said, after another moment.
         Both savored the pleasantness of that memory for a space until Spock turned his attention back to Data.
         “Kirk never took any interest in my “Vulcan philosophy”, however.” Spock mused wistfully. “We ... experimented some, and he enjoyed the experiments, but his was never the path of inner discipline.”
         Spock lifted his hand again to stroke Data’s face tenderly. “I had come to believe that I would never have the pleasure of escorting an initiate of my own into the Kol’ifar, and but for you, my beloved t’hyla, I almost certainly never would have.
         Data took Spock’s hand between his two and gazed down at them as he replied. “I feel that I am the benefactor of the most remarkable good fortune -that we should have ever come to know each other, much less this ...”
         “Do not make the mistake of thinking that good fortune alone bought you this opportunity.” Spock admonished kindly. “A famous Starfleet Captain I once knew was well known for both pointing out and demonstrating that we make our own luck. You have most certainly made yours. Your studies, practices, and most excellent correspondences would eventually have earned you an entrance into the Kol’ifar, no matter what else transpired. It is my great good fortune, however, that you were the one selected by Starfleet for my extraction mission. Had anyone else been assigned I would most assuredly not be sitting here and enjoying a pleasant conversation at the moment.”
         “Indeed,” Data looked up at Spock again. “and if I may say so, the luck you have made for your self of late has not been the best.”
         Spock nodded his concurrence.
         “And yet you plan to return to Romulus as soon as you are able to arrange transport, once we have returned to Federation space?” Data asked, already knowing the answer as Spock nodded again.
         “Why? I have joined minds with you, I have shared your thoughts and become bonded to your soul, and still I do not understand why you feel compelled to do this.” Data asked in ernest.
         “That is because I myself do not know what inspires me to offer my life to this cause.” Spock answered bemusedly. “Perhaps it is because I do not know that I pursue this cause so avidly. It is not logical, but ... there is, as they say, a thing beyond logic. It was, after all, hardly ‘logical’ for the honored Surak to believe that his promotion of the philosophy of logic would find any positive reception among the vulcans of his day. None the less...”
         “I do understand, then.” Data said, smiling with bemusement. You are, as they say, on a mission from God. Fortunately for you, now, at least, if you find yourself in a similar misfortune, you can be certain that I will know instantly and head to your rescue with all possible haste.”
         Spock shook his head in response to the image. “At the moment,” he said with chagrin, “I am finding the idea of your flying to my rescue an appallingly romantic one, but you should know that vulcans, under the influence of a waning ponn-farr, are prone to quite ridiculous bouts of sentimentality and lechery.”
         “Sentimentality *and* lechery?” remarked Data. “It will come as no surprise to you, I am sure, that nothing of this was suggested in any of the extensive background research I did for this mission. How long will this condition last? Will you be fit to be seen in public by the time we rendezvous with the Enterprise?” he asked, only half serious.
         Spock knelt behind him, and kissed him on the top of his head before he stood and replied. “Thee does look after me most kindly, t’hyla, but I will be more than capable of controlling my more primitive urges by the time we encounter your ship. The remainder of our voyage, however,” he reached down to lift Data to stand beside him, “may be spent most pleasantly. Let us take nourishment now, however, for I am quite famished.”
         They did indeed spend the remainder of their voyage most pleasantly, and most enlighteningly for Data as well -as Spock taught him still more of the lore of the Kol’ifar. As a result, by the time their cloaked ship finally departed the Neutral Zone, Data felt as relaxed and well rested as though he had spent the last two weeks on vacation, rather than on a grueling and dangerous rescue mission.
         He worried, a little, as he lay those last few nights in Spock’s close embrace, about Picard -how he would take the news of Data’s new love and bond mate, and whether he would be able to accept it all, or not. Most of the time he was certain that his first love would take it all in stride, happily accept Spock’s presence into his life, and understand Data’s motives for why he’d done what he’d done. Sometimes though, in the small hours of the night as Spock lay sleeping, he’d wonder if he wasn’t asking too much of his Captain, and expecting too much when he thought of the magnitude of the changes in his life that this new development would bring. How could he expect Picard to take this all in stride when he barely could grasp it himself?
         When his doubts loomed their largest, though, Spock would stir beside him, and in his mind, and Data would remember -he lived in a world of miracles, was a something of a miracle himself, according to some. How little was it to expect, then, just one more.
All that no-one sees,
You see,
What's inside of me,
Every nerve that hurts,
You heal,
Deep inside of me, oo-oohh,
You don't have to speak,
I feel.

Emotional landscapes,
They puzzle me - confuse,
Then the riddle gets solved,
And you push me up to this

State of emergency,
How beautiful to be,
State of emergency,
Is where I want to be.

-Bjork - 'Joga'



T. Dancinghands 2001