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On the Edge of the Mountain

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Waking in the night.  

This huge planet with its slow rotation made him too heavy in nights that were too long.  In
space, they had always kept to the 24-hour earth cycle, and after so many years he was utterly
attuned to it.  He was restless.  Rising, finding a robe, padding out into the stone halls of the
mountain.

Who had told him, once that *Seleya* was a modern rendering of *Sel'Heya* - *the* mountain?
As if there were no others that mattered.  Perhaps there weren't.  It wasn't the tallest in the
Federation, but no other mountain on this world or any other he had ever visited projected up
fifteen thousand feet from a level plain.  No other mountain had been shaped over so many
millennia by humanoid hands, first by touch in blind reverence for the monster in the desert, then
chipping out primitive strongholds around its base, then the temples, maybe the first permanent
buildings on a planet of nomads, recognizing the power of the landscape and the higher power of
the self.  No gods had ever been worshipped from this place, though the desert had spawned
thousands of religions.  Why?  More wars had been fought to possess this pile of stone . . .

Because the Vulcan mind accepted that the mountain was The Mountain, and it belonged to no
god but itself.

There were torches hanging in brackets at intervals along the corridor.  No technology greater
than fire.  Hands, not technology, had carved the honeycomb of tunnels that extended beneath the
temple.  Maybe that was why he was dressed this way tonight, covering his body in the black
robe of a visitor and walking barefoot through the caverns, seeking the outside.  T'Khut, Vulcan's
too-close moon, would be down, and he wanted to see the stars.

*****

Stars, beloved.

None of the constellations I was raised with, but I saw them in your mind every time you showed
me your home.  Nights I slept beside you and our thoughts blended and I couldn't remember who
I was in the instant after I woke up.  Nights after you left that I remembered those visions and
cried.  Moving in between the stars.  I had my love for you and my love for my ship.  And I gave
up each of you in turn to keep the other.

I was thinking of the first night we were lovers.  Maybe only because it started here, after we left
T'Pring standing on the edge of the desert and went back to our ship.  Three Ponn Farrs since
then, and the one you spent without me, in deep meditation here in the mountain.  I dreamed that
one.  I was on Earth, playing admiral, and you had disappeared.  I'd wake in the night like this
and *feel* your hands running over my skin while you were dozens of light years away and so
deep in your mind that no one could touch you.  That one I remember.

I dreamed we were at the edge of the Forge, sleeping in a canvas tent, nomads five thousand
years before the Reformation.  We were hunters, you and I, and we had been travelling for three
seasons since we left our people.  But we were explorers, too.  No one had ever gone to the
places we had been to, surely.  No one else had tracked the desert's rim and communed with the
a'kweth, the old ones who live under the sand.  They told us that the Underliers had taught the
first Vulcan wanderer the first word, that before there had been only the indistictness of shared
thought.  They told us that the first word was *heya*, told to a lost one who stumbled on the
Underlier at the mountain's foot.

The days, beloved, god, the days were so hot I didn't realize when you started Burning.  Only
lying beside you at night, when the desert got so cold, I could feel the fever in your body.  We
made camp in the shelter of a pile of rock and stayed there so many days.  Mating, rough as
animals, frantic as sentients, intense as only telepaths are.  And you were my lover again.

That first touch.  Finger to finger, then fingers tracing hands and arms and faces.  Kissing you,
my tongue in your mouth.  Your lips wrapping around my ear.  Licking my way down your body,
tasting the desert on your skin, and taking you in my mouth.

When I woke, I could taste you.  I was *sure* you'd been there.  My room was so *cold*, not like
the desert at night but like I was on the wrong planet.  I was on the wrong planet.  I had to be
with you.  But you were *there*, beloved.  I felt your hands on my shoulders, pulling me down,
stroking my body, penetrating me and pushing against me and I remember screaming . . .

Gods.

Beloved.

T'hyla.

Spock.

I screamed your whole name, the one you taught me over a hundred nights, correcting my
pronunciation and guiding me through the secret patterns of syllables.  You said that the name of
something is the most important aspect of it, call any thing and it will come to you, call any
person by his right name and you can own his soul.  And then you found my name, the one you
were supposed to have, and I suppose I should have known it would be that . . .

If I screamed loudly enough, now, in my head, would you even hear me?  The link never
shattered, but I don't get anything from it except its presence, an itch inside my skull.

You died.

You died and there was a wall between us and we couldn't even touch, damn it.  Your fingers
were pressed so hard against the panel that I thought if I could just push a little harder I could get
through.  Your kiss in my mind.  And then you were . . . elsewhere.  Not gone but not there
either.  I used to wander the halls of the ship after you died, looking for you, because I knew you
weren't gone, only missing.  I thought I'd gone crazy when I felt you through Bones' arms around
me.

We went through it all and I destroyed my ship and lost my son and we got you back.  We
climbed the steps of Mount Seleya. *Sel'heya*.  The sound that means *oh yes, yes, that*, the
revelation, only a touch of the tongue to the teeth away from *hyla*, lover.  You and Bones laid
out on the stones and all night there were prayers and incense and I *felt* the moment when you
came back  together, like the Burning all in an instant through my body.  Then nothing else.  And
I was so tired, and I missed you so much, and they must have known I would do it, go to find
you, before they ever asked.

But since then, I haven't felt you.  I only talk to you out of habit, years of your knowing the things
I want you to.

There isn't any reason for you to remember.  They said that your memory was fragmented, that
parts of it were gone.  They said that because all the mind structures were there, you could
re-learn everything quickly enough.  But they didn't allow for emotions, mine if not yours.  No
one said *you lover will remember you* or *your lover will not remember you*.  And I'm
selfish.  I don't want to give you time, see what you can remember.  I want all of you, now.  I
want you tonight in my bed so we can make love the way we did after you came back from
Vulcan to be with me again.

I'm old, now, Spock.  Over half my life, the half that could be counted on, is past.  I am an old
man in an empty place and I do not have you with me.

*****

The stars cut sharply through the unnaturally thin, high atmosphere, blunted only a little by the
last light of T'Khut.  He stood at the edge of the hewn-out courtyard on top of the mountain and
leaned on the unbroken stone wall.  City lights in the far distance, almost hidden by the planet's
curve.  Shi'Khar, the oasis, on the edge of Vulcan's Forge.  

He hadn't realized that he was crying until he felt the sharp evaporation of tears in dessicated air.
Only one or two struck the stone surface before they were reduced to dry salt stains.  The part of
his mind that had grown Vulcan over too many years of contact whispered that he was wasting
water; it both shied away from the carelessness and acknowledged the pain that drove him to give
up his body's moisture to the atmosphere.  Gods, this terrible emptiness of being only one person
on this terribly empty planet, having given up the ship that was his other name and the vocation
to Starfleet that had driven him for too many years.

His emotions would be echoing through those stone halls as loudly as any scream he could
summon up.  Training asserted itself and he began assembling the shields that would silence
him.  Knowing it was selfish and irrational, he focussed the pain and rage into the bond, wishing
so hard to break through the dam that had settled across it.

The single image of a human starship captain, wrapped in black Vulcan robes, outlined against
the sky.

It came to him slowly, filtering in through his thoughts like an alien touch, seeing himself
through someone else's eyes.  Seeing his own head come up, the hazel eyes edged with red and
salt streaks on his face, staring back into the dark at the edge of the mountain.

"Jim."

Oh not possible.  Tentative contact with his mind, not quite a stranger and almost Spock, then
surer, a telepathic caress a moment before he heard his name.  Something colouring the corners
of the thought that he didn't at first recognize.  Humour?  Yes, definitely humour, and close to the
surface as it had never been.

They stood opposite, Kirk nearly obscured in the dark, Spock curiously visible in his white robe,
his black hair still over-long and hanging in his eyes.  Small thoughts.  Testing the bond.  *there's
my wooly sheepdog*

*?*

*your hair is*

*.*

Then contact, pulling together and trying to press inside one another's skin.  Holding on *for dear
life*   

*dear   love*

*love you*

*love you lost you couldn't find you*

*was never gone*   

*who are*

*who I always was   and McCoy who was with me   and you   who I am who I was who is yours*

"How can you remember?"

That face.  Spock's face had always been angular, composed, like the mountain.  It couldn't
possibly be a smile he saw at the corners of that mouth.  "La coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne
connait pas."  The words spoken softly in that voice like whiskey and stones. *the heart has its
reasons which reason knows nothing of*  "Jim.  You are not part of my mind.  You are part of
my soul.  You were never gone."

*love you   love you*

Spock's lips on his forehead.  The Vulcan had always been taller; he had never noticed.  Lips on
his eyelids and his cheeks and his lips.  Spoken words brushing across his skin.  "Tu ne me
chercherais pas si tu ne me possedais.  Ne t'inquiete donc pas." *you would not be looking for me
if you did not possess me   so do not be uneasy*

"You've been studying."

*of course*

Touch.  Soft contact between them as they re-entered the chambers of the mountain and found
Kirk's room where he had left it.  The bed that was cloths over stone.  Spock let the door slide
shut and felt the stone darkness around them.  Kirk's arms around him.  Human lips on his throat,
sucking gently.  This was alien to him.  He was alien . . .

*you are not alien   you are Spock are beloved   can you remember when I touched you like this
before*

Kirk moved slowly.  This was his beloved, but also a new lover, and they had been apart a long
time.  His fingers slipped under the white meditation robe and pushed it away.  Kissing, licking,
massaging a nipple with his tongue, then moving lower to take Spock's arousal into his mouth
and suck on it gently, then not so gently.  He brushed the sensitive skin with his teeth, resisting
the urge to score it more roughly, to mark this new body as his.  His fingers slipped up to
massage the scrotum and then back to probe the tight opening.

A hiss.  Every sound was amplified in the stone room.  Their breathing seemed unconscionably
loud.  Kirk's own small sounds were muffled where he pressed his face against his lover's body.
Touching where he knew the other wanted him, feeling the rough echoes of pleasure coming
down the bond.  When Spock came, filling his mouth, only rapid, ragged breathing signalled it,
but the contact across the bond shrieked.

*!*

*yes I know*

Memories were vague.  Kirk offered his own across the link, providing explanations and
experiences to cement the fragments together.  Spock pulled him down and kissed him violently.
Under the cover of darkness, the too-fair human skin bruised and was gently massaged with a
Vulcan tongue back into sensation.  Then Spock was shifting under him, rolling onto his stomach
and spreading his legs in an invitation that would have been unmistakable even without the bond
to guide them.

Holding onto sharp-boned hips as he leaned into that body, penetrating so slowly with the
thought that this was a virgin body under him always in mind.  A gasp at the first contact, then
amusement across the mental link. *have you always needed to be so careful with me t'hyla?*

*not always*

*then not this time*  Hips thrust up to meet him and without realizing he had crossed the line
they were mating, because that was the only word for it, stretching and filling and thrusting to
meet one another.  Kirk felt his lover moan under him and understood to slip a sweat-slick hand
between both their bodies and take that erection and pump it in time to his thrusts until the man
below him gasped, a sound that echoed in the room and through the tunnels, and in his head Kirk
heard the other come.  *beloved yes gods never could have given you up never lost you you were
never gone love you love you love you I love you oh yes oh please oh please*  And then he could
release the last of his control and pound into that body and come himself, feeling their contact
and crying silently against that hard-muscled back.

He withdrew and slid to one side so they could wrap themselves around one another.  Long,
delicate Vulcan fingers brushing away the tears and the others that followed until emotional as
well as physical exhaustion made Kirk give up, sobbing and curl himself around the other.
Spock's head resting on Kirk's chest to hear the heart-beat, the way they had slept through
hundreds of nights on ship and planets, Kirk's fingers lacing through the over-long hair.  A flash
of humour along the bond, from Spock, *you missed me, then*

Shock.  *when did you ever learn to tease?*

Sleepily, *always   was never important to you before*

It was a different person in his arms, but he was a different person, too, changed by time and
grief and loss, and they were the same spirits they had been the first night they touched.  What
Spock had said when he came out of the temple. *I know you.*  Because in nearly every
language, *know* implies an intimate knowledge, born of love and physical contact, and an
awareness of the other that only mating can provide.  Spock had known.  So sleepy, *you are part
of my soul, beloved*

The Vulcan night stretched hours yet before morning.  Sleeping on the edge of the mountain,
between this life and the next one.