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My Living and My Dying

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“Commander Spock and Captain James Tiberius Kirk,” Scotty addresses, his accent thick with emotion. He is standing in the heart of the Enterprise -- a secluded sect of Engineering blocked off and prepared for this very ceremony -- between and slightly behind his two superior officers. It is only fair that, while neither are able to lead this particular event, the second officer of the ship should take charge. “Today, you are surrounded by family and friends, all of whom gather to witness an exchange of vows and share in the joy of the occasion.” Here, the Scotsman pauses to gather the thin, vibrant strings lying in a coil on the small table in front of him. On either side of the strings sit two small saucer-like trays, one with a single bite of a Vulcan-grown bread and the other with a short glass of a deep red wine. Scotty eyes both men before nodding, and just like they practiced Jim and Spock raise their right and left hand respectively and press their first two fingers together in a traditional Vulcan ozh’esta. In tandem with their movements, Scotty follows soon after to circle the blue string twice around Jim’s wrist and twice around his and Spock's joined fingers. He is respectfully careful not to brush his skin against theirs. Once looped, he brings the ends of the string together and ties them into a neat bow. He repeats the action with the gold string except around Spock's hand, and when he is finished, there lies two delicate bows against the side of each man’s hand.

After quickly assessing his work, Scotty nods in approval before continuing. Jim is both surprised and, conversely, not surprised at all that his chief engineering officer seems to have his lines memorized. “Let this,” He gestures pointedly to the loopy arches the strings paint across their skin, “be a statement of what you mean to one another and your commitment of marriage.

“When you love someone, you do not love them all the time in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. Illogical, as Commander Spock would say,” Scotty diverts with a wry grin. A collective chuckle weaves through the crowd, and Scotty is sure he sees a minute twitch of Spock's lips, even though he doesn't seem to have eyes for anyone else but Jim right now. Scotty continues after the noise dies away. “It is a lie to even pretend to, and yet… this is exactly what most demand. There is so little faith in the ebb and flow of time -- of love and relationships. We leap at the flow and resist in the ebb. In these moments, we are afraid it may never return.

“We insist on permanency -- duration, continuity -- when the only continuity possible (in life as is in love) is in growth, fluidity, and freedom. And the only real security is not in owning or possessing, or demanding or expecting -- not even in hoping. Security in relationships lies neither in looking back at what brings nostalgia and reminiscence nor forward toward what will become fear and anticipation, but rather in living in the present and accepting what is now. Kaiidth.” At the impromptu nod toward Vulcan philosophy, Spock’s lips twitch again, and Scotty counts it as a win. He had spent at least two hours perfecting the intonation of just that single word. “Relationships must be like ships; acceptance not despite, but rather because of its limits. Ships, surrounded and thus interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides of life. An apt comparison for a Captain.” Another round of chuckles as Jim and Scotty exchange brief grins.

“If I may so cordially refer, Spock and Jim have chosen to incorporate the ancient Celtic ritual of handfasting in their wedding ceremony today. Vulcan biology being as it is, I have elected to only tie their first two fingers together as anything more than that might scandalize our poor Commander here.” This time, Spock's cheeks tint a soft green as the good-natured laughter rolls through the room. “Handfasting, as I'm sure most in this room know, is a declaration of intent that clearly states the couple is marrying of their own free will. Spock and Jim, know now that before you go further, the paths of which your lives have intersected have formed between you an eternal bond. As you seek to enter this state of matrimony, you should strive to make ideals that give meaning to this ceremony and to the sanctity of your union. With full awareness, know that within this room you are declaring your intent before your friends and family as witnesses.

“The promises made today and the ties that are bound here greatly strengthen your union and will cross the years and lives of each soul’s growth. Do you seek to continue this ceremony as testimony to your intent?”

Without hesitation or even a moment’s thought, as if both men were simply waiting to be asked this infallible question, both utter a perfectly synchronized: “Yes.”

“It's a bit redundant to say it, but if you two would now please look into one another’s eyes.” Scotty watches Jim's smile widen minutely. “Jim... will you share in Spock’s pain and seek to alleviate it?” It is a testament to both Spock's loyalty to tradition and love for Jim that he doesn't reply with his mandatory “Vulcans do not feel” comment.

Jim, with wide blue eyes, nods slightly in affirmation. “I will.”

“And Spock? Will you share in Jim's pain and seek to alleviate it?”

“I will.”

“And, so, the binding is made. Jim, will you share in Spock’s laughter and look for the brightness and the positive in him?”

“I will.”

“Spock, will you likewise share in Jim’s laughter and look for the brightness and the positive in him?”

“I will.”

“And, so, the binding is made. Jim, will you share in Spock’s burdens so that your spirits may grow in this union?”

“I will.”

“Spock, will you share in Jim’s burdens so that your spirits may grow in this union?”

“I will.”

“And, so, the binding is made. Jim? Will you share in Spock's dreams?”

“I will.”

“Spock, will you share in Jim's dreams?”

“I will.”

“And, so, the binding is made. Jim, will you take the heat of anger and use it to temper the strength of this union?”

“I will.”

“Spock, will you take the heat of anger and use it to temper the strength of this union?”

“I will.”

“And, so, the binding is made. Jim, will you honor Spock as an equal in this union?”

“I will.”

“And Spock, will you honor Jim as an equal in this union?”

“I will.”

With a secret sort of smile, Scotty briefly touches the sleeves of both men’s dress uniforms. “Spock and Jim, as your hands are bound together now, so your lives and spirits are joined in a union of love and trust. The bond of marriage is not formed by these cords, but rather by the vows you have made. For always you hold in your own hands the fate of this union. Above you are stars and below you are… well, more stars, but for the purpose of this union I'll say “home.” Like the stars, your love should be a constant source of light; like home, a firm foundation from which to grow.

“To quote an ancient Terran prayer: “May these hands be blessed this day. May they always hold each other. May they have the strength to hang on during the storms of stress and the dark of disillusionment. May they remain tender and gentle as they nurture each other in their wondrous love. May they build a relationship founded in love, and rich in caring. May these hands be healer, protector, shelter, and guide for each other.””

Scotty glances toward Bones, of whom is steadfastly staring at the ground (and he's certain he notices a certain sheen to his downturned eyes). With a subtle motion of his hand, Scotty gains the the Doctor’s attention. Bones digs around in the pocket of his pants and retrieves two rings made of a silvery and precious ore; carefully, he drops each into the palm of Scotty’s outstretched hands. At closer examination, it becomes clear that both rings -- while inherently very similar (identical at first glance) -- have Vulcan calligraphy etched across the faces of both, two halves of one word. The writing is loopy and so flawless that Scotty nearly stares at then for a second longer than necessary.

“i will now ask you to seal the vows you share with each other by the giving and receiving of rings. The perfect circle of the ring symbolizes eternity. The precious metal came from the ground as a rough ore and was heated and purified, shaped and polished. Something beautiful was made from raw elements. Love is like that. It comes from humble beginnings, made by imperfect beings. It is the process of making something beautiful where there was once nothing at all.”

Spock’s eyes, big and brown and, gods, fighting more emotion than Jim remembers seeing before, settle keenly onto Jim. While the look isn't assessing -- not now. Now isn't a time for calculation and precision -- it is certainly a searching glance. Jim feels as though it's the first time Spock is seeing him in this light with these implications, never mind that they've been planning this day for months. It sends an inadvertent shiver down his spine.

“Jim,” He begins, sotto voce; he seems afraid that any higher decibel may startle the onlookers in the room. Jim can't honestly fault himself for his burst of admiration because, even despite the effort Spock puts into keeping his voice quiet, Jim is certain that there will be no issues in hearing his words. “You cannot possess me, for I belong to myself.” A hand twitch. Spock’s stoic neutrality is beginning to deteriorate. “But while we both shall wish it, I give you all that which is mine to give.”

With difficulty, Jim manages to swallow through the sudden lump in his throat and maintain eye contact. Spock's voice doesn't waver as he continues, but it is a near thing: “In that which I am bound to you, you cannot command me for I am a free person.” Spock stops his speech completely as he raises one of his hands and swipes a tear sliding down Jim's cheek. He continues as if he had never stopped. “But I shall serve you in those ways you require,” A beat of pure silence. “And the honeycomb will taste sweeter coming from my hand.”

Gently, lips brushing with a soft intimacy, Spock presses a kiss onto Jim's cheek at the conclusion of his part of the vows in accordance to tradition. As if in an afterthought, Spock plucks Jim’s ring from Scotty’s outstretched, patient hand, and carefully slides it onto Jim's awaiting ring finger. Jim takes a shaky, fortifying breath before beginning his vows.

“Spock. I pledge to you that yours will be the only name I cry aloud in the night,” By way of upholding tradition, Jim brushes the pads of his first two fingers softly across Spock's lips. “And the eyes into which I smile in the morning.” Here, his fingertips brush the skin directly below Spock's eye. “I pledge to you the first bite from my meal.” Cautiously, the hand Jim had been using to press Vulcan kisses into Spock's skin diverts and lays upon the tray to his right. Without averting his eyes, Jim procures a small chunk of a warm bread-like substance and coaxes it into Spock's mouth. Jim waits patiently until Spock has chewed and swallowed the food before he continues. “And the first drink from my cup.” Much like the bread, Jim retrieves the glass of Vulcan spice tea, offering it to Spock without allowing him to physically take it. Spock drinks the wine without a hitch. Not that Jim was particularly worried.

“I pledge to you my living and dying, equally in your care,” Jim takes another necessary breath. “And tell no strangers our grievances.” Similar to Spock's ending, Jim leans toward the Vulcan and presses a kiss onto his cheek.

Then, as if the two had practiced until it was perfected, they both utter the next two sentences together: “This is my wedding vow to you. This is a marriage of equals.”

Scotty smiles, slow and wide. “And now, Jim and Spock, I pronounce you both wed.” He reaches for the strings and carefully pulls them. Like slithering snakes, the blue and gold pool together to the ground, entwined in a perfect analogy of the ritual. Jim takes the opportunity to surreptitiously slip Spock's ring onto his finger. “Well, what are you waiting for? Give us a little smooch, eh?”

Jim laughs at the rise of green in Spock's face, but surprisingly it is Spock himself who smoothly leans forward the short distance between their bodies and presses his lips to Jim's. The kiss is close-mouthed and for all intents and purposes politely appropriate for the general public, but the way Spock cradles Jim's neck and Jim splays an open hand against Spock's lower back and the focus they put into just a press of lips seems so intimate that Scotty can't help but avert his gaze to his feet, smile anything but wavering.

The crowd erupts in cheers and grins. To the side, hands still buried deep in his pockets, Scotty thinks he hears Bones mutter, “Goddamn finally,” but the exasperation doesn't reach his eyes because his smile is just as genuine and wide as Scotty’s. All in all, the ceremony goes on without a hitch, and when Jim and Spock separate it's because Jim's smile is too big to physically continue it, and, hell, even Spock has a true smile playing at his lips.

And with a final stroke of his fingers against Jim's before they too separate, Spock gazes at his new husband. “Taluhk nash-veh k’dular, t’hy’la.”

Jim returns his stare with equal parts affection and unadulterated contentment. “I love you, too, Spock.”

And for all that Spock's words have a literal meaning, to the both of them t’hy’la means home.