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Mint Tea

Debra Fran Baker

dfbaker@panix.com


I was expecting heat when I sank into his body, but I found it when he allowed me access to his mind as well. All of my preconceptions were destroyed at that moment - a moment I didn't want to end. With the small part of my mind that was both functional and still my own, I thought how close I had been to never experiencing this.

******

Tuvok had never come to me for advice or counsel in all the time we'd served together, whether on my own ship during a time that feels increasingly more like a dream or now in this new reality. I did not expect anything else. Next to him, I was a child. I could no more help him than I could help a tribal elder, although, since he looked, if anything, younger than myself, that was often hard to accept.

But there he was, standing at my cabin door.

"May I come in, Commander? I am aware it is late."

"Of course, Mr. Tuvok." I stood up and gestured towards my couch. "I was looking over inventory reports. A first officer is never off-duty."

"Nor a chief of security." He took a seat, and began to slowly fold and then unfold his hands.

"May I offer you some refreshment? Tea, perhaps?" I had to do something. Tuvok was doing the Vulcan equivalent of pacing.

"No...perhaps. Nothing with a stimulant."

I fought to hide my reaction while I went to my replicator and ordered a strong mint blend that I had seen Tuvok drink in the past. I had never seen him like that before. I took the tray with the tea set to him and poured two cups.

"What did you want to talk about, Mr. Tuvok?"

He took a sip of his tea. "Mint tea has always intrigued me, with its conflicting sensations of coolness and heat."

"Tuvok, you didn't come here to talk about tea."

"Indeed." He put his cup down. "This is not an easy subject, Commander, nor am I about to ask something simple." He took a breath. "This is about...it is...you recall the...problems Ensign Vorik had a number of years ago?"

How could I forget? Ensign Vorik had entered the Vulcan state of pon'farr, which apparently is their mating cycle and during which a Vulcan must mate, fight or die. He tried to mate with B'Elanna Torres, who resisted, after apparently trying other methods. This brought a similar crisis upon B'Elanna, which was eventually solved by a fight that fortunately both survived.

I took a closer look at Tuvok. "Are you telling me that you are in the same...condition?"

He bent his head. "This is extremely difficult, Commander. Normally I would not speak of this at all...not yet, but I have been receiving signs...especially vivid dreams...that it is not far off. It will...I have...there are a few more weeks."

"May I ask why you are telling me this?"

He stared at his tea cup. "I was...I know we have been...not friends. This is...I...I would...would you help me when my time comes?"

I slumped back on the couch, nearly spilling my tea. "Mr. Tuvok...if what I gather about...did you...did you just propose to me?"

He looked at me. His eyes were warmer than I expected. "In...in a manner of speaking...the result could be...yes."

"Why me? As you said, we are not even friends. And there are other choices, surely. For one, I am human, and for another, I am male."

He shook his head. "You are the most logical choice...for me. I require a mate of some physical strength, and there are only two others stronger than you. Lt. Torres would not appreciate my advances any more than she did Ensign Vorik's, and...gender is a factor."

"Then...surely Vorik..."

"I...offered during his...time. Vorik...gender is a factor for him, as well. While the...urges of pon'farr make such things...irrelevant, as I am very aware, such...incompatibility...and he had no wish to be bonded to a male should we return home. Such relationships are...uncommon, as mating is for procreation. His logic was...compelling, so we sought other solutions."

"Yet...Tuvok...we would be bonded, would we not?" Bonded to Tuvok? Could I even contemplate such a thing?

"We...need not be. If you were a Vulcan, the answer would be 'yes', but it is not as certain with a human. There have been few Vulcan/human attempts at bonding, and most of those that succeeded required some effort, although there have been rare exceptions. And...even if it did occur, we could possibly break the bond."

This was overwhelming. "But...what if...are you willing to be bonded to me? What would occur to your bond with your wife?"

"I do not know. It has already grown tenuous with time and distance, and...while I regard her highly and value her as a person and as the mother of our children and as a companion, it would not grieve either of us if the bond was broken. We were mated at the age of seven. Well before my first...I knew that had I the choice, it would be...not a woman." He turned his face from mine.

I put my cup down. It was getting cold. "Mr. Tuvok...this is overwhelming. The last thing I expected was to have you come in and...propose marriage, or what could be a marriage. You must give me time to think about this."

"Of course, Commander. I would not wish to force you. There is some little time before I have to know one way or the other." Was there something in his voice that was less than even? I couldn't tell.

I had to ask. "How much choice do I have, Mr. Tuvok?"

"If you choose not to...help me, I shall endeavor to get through...this with meditation. I have done so once before, so the odds are in my favor. My life is not in your hands."

I could not help it. I breathed a sigh of relief. "I will give your...proposal serious consideration."

"Thank you, Commander." He hesitated. "I wish to add...not all of my reasons for choosing you were logical, and...it would be pleasing to me if...if the bond occurred." With that, he set his down his cup and strode out of the room, not looking at me.

I sat on my couch for a long time, trying to make sense of this new and strange universe. Eventually, I went in search of my medicine bag. Tuvok wasn't the only one who needed to meditate.

****************

I couldn't think. Every time I tried to decide, my mind would reject the very thoughts. It affected my sleep and my work - especially since I saw him on the bridge each day, and I could see him begin to change. I don't think anyone else noticed, but he was the only thing on my mind even as I fought to decide.

Finally, days after he came to me, I went to his cabin.

He was sitting on the floor in a long, dark robe. The only lights were candles. When he looked up to meet my eyes, I saw something there, as if the candles themselves were reflected in dark fire. "Commander." His voice was hoarse. Had I waited too long?

"Tuvok...I've made my decision." I knelt beside him and touched his shoulder. He was hot...feverish.

He waited, silent.

"I'm...I'm sorry. I...I like you, Tuvok, but I don't know if I can marry you, and if I don't know, I shouldn't take that risk. If there is any other way I can help..."

"Get out."

"Tuvok?"

"Commander, you will please leave my quarters. Your presence will only make....what I must do...more difficult."

"I'm sorry."

"Get out!" His eyes blazed. I left.

I went back to my cabin, trying to convince my self that I'd done the right thing. I made a pot of his mint tea to calm me down. His words came back to me...heat and coolness at the same time. Which one was I more afraid of...the coolness of his logic or the heat of his emotions?

I thought about meditating, but I fell asleep instead, only to be woken by a calm voice.

"Commander?"

I blinked. "What are you doing here, Mr. Tuvok?"

"I was...unable to sleep. Not until I apologize to you.

I struggled to sit up. "Computer, lights at twenty-five percent." I could make out Tuvok in the dimness. He was still wearing that dark robe. "Apologize?"

"For my rudeness earlier."

"No need, Mr. Tuvok. I understand that this is a difficult time, and my...answer was disappointing."

"Even so. I should have more control at this point. Normally, I do not have mood swings until a week or less before...it happens. This is...atypical."

I could only nod. "Mr. Tuvok...I know you're uncomfortable in my presence, but...if you need to say anything..."

"I would ...I believe we should talk."

I nodded and reached for a robe. Ten minutes later, we were holding tea cups again in my sitting area. "What did you want to talk about?"

"Why? Why did you...decide in that direction? Am I...physically repugnant?"

I thought carefully about my answer. "No. Physically, you attract me greatly. And I do not find your company oppressive, either."

"Then...the act itself does not repel you?"

I shook my head. "I have had male and female lovers in the past."

"Then...why? What were your reasons for..." His voice sounded as calm and measured as ever, but, just at the limit of my hearing, I could detect the faintest tremor.

"It's not you, Tuvok. It's me." Even to my ears, that sounded false. "It's...Tuvok...I was frightened."

"Of me? There are ways...you would retain control..." His hands were shaking. It had to be almost on the molecular level. He shifted slightly on the sofa. I felt as though the earth was moving. What was going on?

"I hadn't...Tuvok, I have never been married. I have come close once or twice, but in each case, I left them. You...gave me no time to think. It seemed...safer to...not risk it."

"Not risk...what?" His heart was beating quickly. I could hear it. I could feel his body heat...not feverish, but higher than mine. He was taking over my senses.

"Losing you as a friend...joining you forever...I don't know. Both. Either. You're...there was the Borg collective...and I remember how it felt to lose myself. I don't want to lose myself."

"You wouldn't. The marriage bond does not...is not like that. It is...a joining, but not a melding. We would be...more aware of each other." I could not be more aware of him than I was now.

"How...how is it with you and T'Pel...all this distance...your...differences...?"

"I...suspect I don't know a true bond since we...live as companions when we live together, other than...these times. However, there is always something. I know when she is well and when she is not. She..." He narrowed his eyes. "She is...very far away. And she is not...she is not feeling...I don't know what she is feeling." He opened his eyes again. "She is still there, but I cannot sense more than that anymore. This explains..."

"Tuvok?"

"When a Vulcan is properly bonded and...consummated, the bonding helps control...us. The first one is...the worst. It comes upon us without...without warning or we do not know the signs. And it is...faster and more dangerous..." His breathing quickened and he became...hotter.

"And you no longer are...bonded. You will not get through this alone, will you?" My breathing became faster, almost in sync with his. I wanted to touch him. "Tuvok, what is happening to me?"

"You...you touched me earlier. We didn't meld, but...our minds were...ready. I...don't believe I would survive this alone. The choice...the choice is still yours."

I had to move. I went to the replicator and got a glass of water. "I do not want to hold your life in my hands, Tuvok."

"This is not something we can control now. Fate is not logical, but...something is there, guiding us together. You are a spiritual man, Commander. You understand."

"No. No, I don't. I just...you are so beautiful, Tuvok." He was. The lights were still dim, but I could see his face and it glowed with fire inside his calm, cool features.

"You do. I...I told you I had vivid dreams before...they were of...I saw you. You were strong and steady, a rock in a storm, and...I knew then that you were who and what I needed."

"How...how do I know it's me and not you who is making me feel this way? Are you in control of my mind, Tuvok?"

"Do you....do you feel an urge to mate?"

"I...want to touch you, but...I don't feel aroused. I feel...frightened."

"Frightened of what?"

"You. Because I know that if...if we go through with this, we will be together. No looking back."

"And that...frightens you?"

"No. It's that...I want it." It went straight to my soul, this need. Somewhere, I could hear my spirit guide speak to me. And it approved.

"Then...take it. And me. Now." He was growling.

"Are you...are you ready?" I could feel him burning again. "You...you have a fever."

"I...it's happening too fast. Chakotay...before I can no longer speak...listen. You *must* remain in control or I may hurt you. Do not fight me, but do not let me take over. You...I trust you. I trust you. I trust you." Was he trying to convince me? Or himself? I couldn't tell. The world was tilting. "Hurry."

I ran to my bathroom and took several jars of lubrication. He would...he would be impatient and I refused to hurt him. When I returned, he had removed his robe. He was...indescribable. He was no longer a man, but an elegant, sensual animal, deeply aroused and arousing. I tore off my own robe. He looked at me and growled.

And then my arms were around him and his were around me and our lips crushed together as I brought his head down. He put his hands on my face then, and, almost instinctively, I touched his the same way.

Heat. Fire. Chaos. Pain. Loss. Desire. I felt them all, but knew they weren't mine...they...tasted different. Even so, I could feel them, feel their intensity over running my own. I could feel my control slipping away. Control. Tuvok trusted me to stay in control. I had to fight for it. They...he...wanted me to become like them - violent, animalistic, hungry. I couldn't let that happen, I couldn't let Tuvok lose himself in that. I fought with the weapons I had - my faith in myself, and Tuvok's trust in me. As I claimed control of my thoughts, I realized I was also controlling his, that he was surrendering his mind to my will. It took all my strength but there came a time when I knew I was with his feelings, and with him. There was nothing calm and ordered about his mind now, but I could still sense Tuvok deep.

As I did so, I became aware of our two bodies. Our hands remained at each other's temples, but our mouths had met and just as I was fighting for control inside of us, I was also fighting there, controlling the kiss as his body pressed closer to mine.

With a supreme act of will, I forced my hands away, knowing that nothing could break our mental contact unless I desired it. This, I knew, would be the hardest part. I could feel the power in his arms, in his shoulders and knew it surpassed mine. Only by never permitting him to have the upper hand could I remain safe, even if I remained victorious inside our minds.

I forced us apart completely, and walked towards the bed to throw off the blankets. He stood in the sitting area, lost and confused and aroused. I could feel all of that in my own head, through the bond. There were no words but I could not tell if that was the nature of the bond or if he simply had no words in that state.

I went to him and pulled him to the bed, tackling him. My Star Fleet training was still with me; he was pure instinct now. And I knew his mind and what he needed. I forced him to his stomach, wrapping his arm around his back with one hand while I began to explore his body with the other, sending thoughts of reassurance and desire to him. He growled when I brought my hand between his buttocks. Then he moved them, impaling himself on my dry fingers and howling. I quickly removed them and coated them with ointment. When I returned to him, he eagerly thrust himself on me, sending me lust and need in amounts almost too strong to master, and these combined and fed upon my own feelings to the point that I was ready to howl myself. Unable to wait any longer, I lubricated my penis, using the ointment and my own pre-ejaculate, and plunged myself into his body.

He was hot, hotter than any other man I'd ever had, hotter, I was sure, than any Vulcan could be. And he was strong and tight, tight enough that I wondered how long it had been...if it had ever been. But that was secondary. I found myself plunging equally into his mind. And there I found what I had ever expected - Tuvok himself, hidden away in a corner of his mind, shocked at his behavior but reveling in the lack of control. And I reached for him as I made love to him, and he reached out to me.

I no longer had words, and his were long gone, but in that intimate mental touch, we communicated. And I knew then that nothing could separate us, that he loved me and that I was meant to love him, each in our own fashion. As our orgasms grew, I drew him to me through the fires of his mind, and centered him again, centered him on me until we both exploded as we were together, body and mind and soul.

When we emerged from that, he looked at me, banked fires still burning in his eyes. "We are bonded."

"I know. I was foolish to fear the best thing that could happen to me."

"I'm...relieved because I believe breaking this bond would mean my death."

Those words stung me to my soul. "It would mean mine as well. As long...as long as I live."

He stroked my forehead. "We are bonded."

I could feel the fires begin again. "Will we need to...soon?"

He shook his head, and kissed me. "It will happen again, later. In a few hours. But not now. You have...you are shade and cool water, Chakotay. I want to lie in your arms and keep the rest at bay."

"That's where I want you, Tuvok."

He nodded and drifted off to sleep, cradled in my arms. I couldn't sleep. In the space of...I checked my chrono...an hour, my life had changed irrevocably. Tomorrow we would inform Kathryn.

This night, I would hold my bondmate and contemplate the fire in his soul.

Copyright 2000 Debra Fran Baker and NightRoads Associates

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