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Valerie Piacentini

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Valerie Piacentini

No explanation has been offered, and she knows better than to ask for one. She can tell by the slight frown on her husband's face that he too is puzzled - and concerned. Their eyes meet, and he allows her to see the uncertainty, to share the waiting. She knows that his thoughts, as hers, are with the man who sleeps in the room overhead. There will be an explanation - of sorts - in the morning, and with it another parting. How many have there been over the years? And each one with its own memories, joy, pain and pride hopelessly mingled in a storm of forbidden emotion.

The first time - so long ago now, it seems - brought the special heartache of a mother who must watch her son sever the ties of childhood. Such a small, solemn-eyed child, stiff-lipped with the effort not to cry. The formal parting was still to come, downstairs, with the family watching; but her husband had offered this moment of privacy. A gift of love indeed, for he understood that both mother and child needed this last expression of tenderness. Somehow she found the courage to smile at her son proudly, and had her reward in the glow of unspoken affection in the dark eyes. He came forward, winding his thin arms around her neck, and as she hugged the small body close she knew it was for the last time. She kissed him, smoothed the dark hair, then with more courage than she had known she possessed drew back to fix in her mind this picture of her son, clad for the journey in a desert suit of soft leather. Such determination! Even T'Pau had offered to postpone the Kahs-wan for a year, as had been done for his cousin Stonn, but he would have none of it. Her fears vanished as she met his determined eyes. He would not fail.

The next parting had been harder. Even after all these years she could recall the anguish of that whispered conversation in the cool shade of her garden. Her husband, although he had turned from his son, understood his wife well; he would not demand that she too part from their child with cold formality, and had told her that although he would not see the boy again until he repented of his error, he would not forbid her to send or receive messages. It was unheard-of for a son to defy his father... but the boy was not Vulcan - not fully. Why did her husband find that so hard to understand? She was torn between them, her love for them both pulling her this way and that. The boy had struggled for years to satisfy his father's expectations, to win his approval; but his Human needs had grown stronger, the stars had called, and the rigid tradition of Vulcan had stifled his soaring spirit. Realising that, he had pleaded for his father's consent - and had been refused. He had answered his call; the resulting breach had been deep, and left bitter memories. She had lost her son to Starfleet, not knowing if she would ever see him again; but being Human - and so illogical - she had clung to hope.

That hope, thin though it grew with the years, had been fulfilled at last during the trip to Babel. There had been the joy of seeing her husband and son reconciled. Her fear for their lives had vanished in the pleasure of watching the dark heads inclined together as they spoke of eighteen lost years. When they reached Vulcan on the return leg of their journey she had stood with her husband in the transporter room and watched as her son moved to his place at his Captain's side. The hazel eyes had smiled an affectionate welcome, and gratitude had rendered her voice husky as she bade farewell to the proven friend who had held out his hand to ease her son's loneliness. Watching them together, she knew that each filled a need for the other. Two men, both set a little apart, one by his heritage, the other by his command, they had found or made a friendship that broke all barriers. It had been a happy parting, for it held the promise of reunion; the tears that shone in her eyes as she stepped once more onto the surface of her adopted planet had been tears of thankfulness - all was well with her son.

But two years ago the tears had been those of loss and sorrow. The icy-eyed stranger who had spoken the ritual words renouncing his home and family could surely have none of her Human frailty in his passionless heart. Why he had chosen the path of Kolinahr, she had never learned; perhaps it had something to do with the announcement, shortly afterwards, of the newly-promoted Admiral who had been appointed Chief of Starfleet Operations. She had not dared to ask. He had turned his back and walked away, a tall, too-thin figure in the robes of an Aspirant of Gol, and his step had not faltered, he had not once looked back for a last sight of his home and parents. She had watched with blurred eyes until a turn of the path took him out of sight, then clinging to her husband's arm she had gone back into the empty house, gathering all her courage to face the years ahead. Her husband's eyes had mirrored her own grief; it had been hard for him to lose again the son so recently found. As he had... for no family ties, no affection, no memories could bind an initiate of Kolinahr. Husband and wife stood face to face, knowing that the son they both loved had left their home and lives for ever.

For two years there had been no word. Then, only hours ago, a dust-covered figure, long hair veiling a face lined with anxiety and suffering, robes stained and tattered, had walked quietly through the door. His voice harsh with worry, he had asked for help - the use of a diplomatic shuttle, and immediate clearance to leave Vulcan. With an effort they had restrained themselves from asking questions, and pausing only to give him a quiet welcome, they had done as he asked. Her husband had left immediately to arrange for the ship, she had busied herself preparing food and clothes. Her reward had been the hesitant gratitude in the dark eyes. For them both, he had said all that was necessary.

"I have refused Kolinahr.

"My t'hy'la has need of me."

Refused Kolinahr? She had felt the shock that rocked her husband. Many had failed the harsh discipline - it was no disgrace - but never, in all Vulcan's long history, had initiation been refused by one who had achieved acceptance by the Masters. Yet the reason was there, in his own words, and it was enough. He was needed. Nothing, not even Kolinahr, could stand before the claims of a t'hy'la. Tomorrow he would return to the companion who had called him back. Perhaps she would see him again, perhaps not, but that call had freed him, finally and forever, from the chains that had bound his spirit to Gol. Whatever the future held for him, she was grateful for that.

Across the room she meets her husband's eyes, and she can tell that his thoughts and hers have followed the same path. Tomorrow they will stand together and give their son to the future. There will be another parting - but this time it will be of his own choosing... and with their blessing.


Copyright Valerie Piacentini