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Originally published in 2002 in the print fanzine First Time # 56.



If Commander Antonia Jelsma had learned anything in twenty years of teaching at Starfleet Academy, it was to be careful what one said to a Vulcan. Political science and pan-galactic affairs were both required subjects for every cadet, which meant that uncounted numbers of students had passed through her classroom, yet the commander could recall the Vulcans among them quite clearly. Each had not only excelled at finding the weakness in any ill-considered statement, but actually seemed to relish drawing the unwary into debate. Jelsma herself had fallen into such a trap more than once. While the experience always forced her to penetrate to the very essence of ideas and no doubt sharpened her wits in the process, she occasionally grew weary of defending even the most basic and widely-accepted concepts of political thought.

Over the years she had become something of an expert at understanding her Vulcan students as well, which in part explained her frustration with the young man presently standing at attention before her desk.

"Your work has been outstanding until recently, Cadet," she said, "but this…." The datadisc in her hand clattered to the desktop, where it lay like an accusation. "This would be unacceptable from a student with half your ability. Coming from you, it’s almost an insult." Her student said nothing; Jelsma’s lips tightened in annoyance. "I’m waiting for you to explain yourself, Mister."

"I have no excuse, Ma’am."

"Which is just as well, because I didn’t ask for one. I asked for an explanation."

The young Vulcan’s unblinking gaze was fixed on the wall behind his instructor’s desk. "I did not conduct adequate research for this assignment," he said finally. When silence greeted this statement, his expression became even more wooden. "Of late I have been…distracted by personal concerns."

"What sort of personal concerns? A family emergency? An illness?" Jelsma studied her student’s sallow face. "Are you quite all right, Mr. Xtwelb?"

"Quite all right, Commander," the young man replied with a cadet’s habit of military correctness, but a hint of irritation had surfaced in his eyes. He opened his mouth as though to say something more, then apparently changed his mind and subsided, still staring resolutely at the wall.

Antonia Jelsma knew an immovable object when she saw one. "Very well," she said. "Your personal life is of course your concern." Making no attempt to disguise some irritation of her own, she retrieved the datadisc and jammed it unceremoniously into the access slot of her computer terminal. After tapping out several commands, she sat back in her chair and looked up at her student again. "The grade you received for this assignment stands; it’s now on record with the rest of your work. However, you will redo the assignment if you wish to receive credit for completing this course. Should you choose to submit a new paper, consider it due by the end of the week. Dismissed."

The Vulcan stiffened to attention, then turned on his heel and started for the door. He was reaching for the handle when his instructor’s voice stopped him in his tracks.

"And Mr. Xtwelb," Jelsma said, and waited until he faced her once more. "I don’t expect to have this conversation with you again."

For one frozen moment she thought he might truly be ill. A sudden rise of color had replaced his former pallor, but the young man collected himself with a visible effort and met her eyes.

"Understood," he said stiffly, and then he turned again and was gone like a prisoner fleeing the jailer’s lash.

"Vulcans!" Jelsma muttered in disgust when the door had clicked shut behind him. Suddenly weary, she rather felt like escaping as well. Instead she punched up yet another paper and with a sigh settled herself to read until it was time for her last class of the day.

Her student, meanwhile, was making his way out of the building with an urgency bordering on panic. Because classes were in session, only a few cadets were in the halls and neither elevator was in use, but he avoided them from force of habit, clattering instead down six flights of stairs to the lobby. With his eyes fixed on the square of daylight beyond the glass doors, he crossed the wide stone floor and pushed out into the gray November afternoon.

The day was chill, with a fine mist in the air—the sort of weather that usually made Spock Xtmprsqzntwlfb more than a little uncomfortable. Instead of hurrying to his next destination, however, he walked to the edge of the portico and leaned heavily against one of the pillars, letting its concrete cold seep through his uniform tunic as he stared out over the manicured grounds of Starfleet Academy. The green of the lawns hurt his eyes sometimes; he felt almost grateful for the cover of low, scudding clouds that hid the sun and the vibrant blue of the sky. Earth colors, he thought, suddenly longing for a comforting landscape of ochre and red and the caress of a warm, dry breeze.

Instead a gust of wind blew dampness into his face, and Spock came back to himself with a shiver. Straightening away from the pillar, he looked across the central campus to the Astrophysics Building, barely visible beyond the trees lining the Captains’ Walk. His next class would begin there in twenty minutes. With uncharacteristic hesitation, Spock shifted the compu-slate and several books he had been clutching under one arm, realizing in the process that he had snatched them from his dormitory desk without thinking to put them in the weatherproof pouch many students carried. If it began to rain in earnest, the wet would play havoc with the electronics, not to mention the unprotected covers of the books. Still Spock hesitated, trying in vain to remember if he had finished the computations his astrophysics professor had assigned. Finally he decided he did not care. Turning his back on the expanse of lawn, he rounded the Political Studies Building and started off for the walkway that led to the sprawling complex of student housing and the dormitory he had called home for almost two years.

By the time he reached the entrance, the exercise had made Spock uncomfortably warm; but as soon as he stopped to key in his building access code, he began to shiver again. Annoyed, he yanked open the heavy door and stepped inside, keeping his eyes down and speaking to no one until he reached the small room he shared with one other second-year cadet.

His roommate was there, as Spock had known he would be. Daniel Conrad lay on his back on the top bunk, one bent knee supporting his opposite ankle and a compu-slate balanced precariously on the palms of both hands. He glanced toward the door when Spock entered, then turned his attention back to the slowly scrolling text on the screen above his face.

"Hey," was all he said at first, but after a moment he deftly flicked a finger to halt the readout and rolled his head to the side. "What are you doing here, anyway? I thought you had Astrophysics at sixteen-thirty hours."

"I do," Spock replied absently. He disappeared into the head and returned a few seconds later with a towel. When he had carefully wiped his books and the cover of his compu-slate, he looked up to find his human roommate still watching with a quizzical expression. "I don’t understand how you can study like that," Spock said, hoping to forestall the remark he knew was coming. "Surely you would be more productive sitting at your desk using the terminal."

The human laughed. "I like to get comfortable when I study. Besides, I’ve been told I do some of my best work on my back."

Spock considered that. "Your position does not look comfortable to me," he said finally.

Groaning, Conrad lowered the compu-slate and rolled onto his stomach. "Another great one-liner wasted," he muttered as he settled the slate and propped himself on both elbows. "What I ever did to deserve a Vulcan roommate is beyond me." When there was no reply, he looked up to see the Vulcan now using the towel on his hair. "Is it raining?"

Spock sighed. "A little."

"And you went out without your slicker? Or even a jacket?" Conrad shook his head. "What is this world coming to?" He got no reply, and after a moment the human went back to his reading. From the corner of one eye he watched Spock return the towel to the head, go to his closet and change into a fresh tunic, then take a seat at his desk, where he began an apparently aimless shuffling of discs and papers. Finally Conrad looked up. "So what about your class?"

"I beg your pardon?"

"You know, Astrophysics. Was it cancelled or something?"

Spock’s fingers closed on a disc until his knuckles showed white. "No," he said very quietly.

"You mean…you’re just not going? You’re actually skipping a class?" With the text now scrolling past unheeded, Conrad sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bunk. "Hey, this is news! Xtwelb forgets his rain gear and cuts a class—all in the same day!"

Biting his lip, Spock reached out and switched on his desk terminal with an almost savage jab at the controls. "I wish you would not call me that," he said tightly.

His roommate blinked. "What?"

"Xtwelb. My name is Spock."

"Oh yeah, right," Conrad laughed. "Since when do we go by first names around here? I mean, can’t you just hear the drill sergeant now? ‘Mister Dan—front and center!’" Warming to his subject, the human leaned forward. "Or how about this: I’m a captain, with my first starship command. And on the bridge, right in the heat of battle, my communications officer says, ‘Oh, Captain Dan, there’s a call for you.’" Roaring with laughter, Conrad fell back onto the bunk and lay there with his feet dangling. After a minute he caught his breath and sat up again to find Spock studiously ignoring him as he punched commands into the terminal. "Come on, Cadet Xtwelb," he said to his roommate’s back, "didn’t you think that was funny?"

"I did not. I see nothing unreasonable about wishing to be called by my correct name."

Conrad was beginning to feel annoyed. "But Xtwelb is your name."

"No, it is not. Xtmprsqzntwlfb is the designation of my clan. That is not the same as a human surname."

"But it’s the closest equivalent, isn’t it?"

"Yes," Spock admitted, "I suppose it is."

"And since no one can pronounce…whatever you said, what’s wrong with calling you Xtwelb for short? The Academy brass seem to think it’s okay."

Spock swung around, real anger sparking from his eyes. "It is not my name!" he all but shouted. Awkward silence fell between them, and Spock dropped his gaze with a visible effort at control. "For now I seem to have no choice in the matter, but one day I shall. When I am a commissioned officer, I shall ask to be called by my given name."

"Okay," Conrad said slowly. "Whatever you say." His reading completely forgotten, he studied the Vulcan through narrowed eyes. "I don’t know how we got onto the subject anyway. You were telling me about skipping your Astrophysics class."

"No, I was not."

"Well, maybe you should." Spock looked up at that, and Conrad frowned at the strained expression on his face. "Hey, you aren’t sick or something, are you? You’re acting almighty strange and you look like you just ate some bad kefalla fruit."

Spock looked away from the piercing blue eyes. "I am not ill, Mr. Conrad."

"And I’m glad to hear it. I mean, the last thing I need is to catch some weird Vulcan disease." When that failed to get a rise out of his roommate, Conrad slid off the bunk and crossed to his own desk. Hooking the chair leg with one foot, he yanked it around and sprawled onto the seat, frowning at the Vulcan barely an arm’s length away. "Okay, Xtwelb, out with it. If you’re not sick, then what the hell is going on?"

"Nothing is going on."

"The hell it’s not!" Though he spoke from sheer frustration, Conrad knew the words were true the second they left his mouth. He watched as Spock clasped both hands in his lap, and was amazed to see that they were shaking. "Seriously, maybe you should think about going to the infirmary," he said more reasonably. "Someone as disgustingly healthy as you probably doesn’t even know where it is, but I could go with you, if you want."

A long silence followed while Spock tried and failed to ignore his human roommate’s concern. "The doctors at the infirmary could offer no remedy for my…situation," he said finally. "I spoke the truth before; I am not ill. However, it is illogical to deny the fact that at the moment I am, as you humans say, not myself."

"Okay, now we’re getting somewhere," Conrad said with relish. "So what exactly is the problem?"

Spock turned on him a darkly penetrating glance. "I have no intention of explaining further," he snapped and then, to the human’s surprise, he actually blushed. "Forgive me. As I said before, I’m not myself." Abruptly he got to his feet and went to the room’s only window, now streaked with a steady drizzle. He stood looking out at the fading afternoon for only a few moments before turning on his heel and stalking to the row of hooks beside the door, where their jackets and rain gear were hanging.

"Where are you going?" Conrad demanded, but the Vulcan did not reply as he shrugged into his waterproof jacket. "Your class has started by now. You’ll catch hell if you walk in this late!" Again he was ignored, and Spock was through the door and halfway down the hall in the time it took the human to decide it was useless to say anything more.

In fact the Vulcan had no intention of attending his class, though he could not have said where he planned to go instead. He did realize, dimly, that he had just fled the presence of a well-meaning human for the second time in less than an hour, but the knowledge brought neither satisfaction nor embarrassment. All he felt was the strange, persistent tension that had gripped him several days before. He knew what it was; he knew what would have been done about it had he been on Vulcan. What he did not understand was what to do about it alone on a planet light-years away from home.

When he reached the vestibule inside the dormitory exit, Spock hesitated. The rain was not heavy, but was falling steadily enough to have driven most pedestrians into the tunnels connecting the main Academy buildings. As he had earlier, Spock rejected that option, still craving the feel of open air on his face. Pulling up the hood of his slicker, he once again stepped out into the clinging dampness of San Francisco weather.

For a long while he simply wandered, criss-crossing the campus, choosing his course mainly by the occasional need to turn aside in order to avoid another pedestrian. For some reason, the walking steadied him. Though his tension was not relieved and his muscles and nerves were strung taut as a bow, at least the feeling was no longer knotted like a fist in his gut. The rain once more subsided to a fine mist as the sky grew dark with the coming evening, and still Spock walked. Once he found himself passing a building that resembled the residence of Vulcan’s delegation to the United Federation of Planets. He knew where the embassy was located, curiosity having driven him to seek it out during his explorations of San Francisco as a newly-arrived cadet. He could go there, he knew, for the staff surely included a healer, but the idea of explaining his situation to a stranger who probably knew his father….

Spock faltered to a stop, paralyzed by the realization that for all he knew, Sarek might actually be at the embassy. His father’s duties occasionally brought him to Earth for meetings of the full Federation Council, but given their disagreement over Spock’s decision to attend Starfleet Academy, the ambassador had thus far declined to contact his son. Spock expected nothing else. Still, he wondered if Sarek would turn him away if he knew that his twenty-one-year-old half-human son had finally arrived at the moment of physical crisis experienced by most Vulcan youths by the age of seventeen or eighteen.

But then, he was not like most Vulcan youths, who typically stayed at home—or, at the very least, on their home planet—until well past the occurrence of pon jeh’rel. Had he bowed to Sarek’s wishes concerning his career, Spock still would have been living in ShiKahr, pursuing advanced studies at the local university in preparation for the exacting entrance examinations at the Vulcan Science Academy. The onset of low-grade fever and persistent tension that signaled the body’s initial production of sexual hormones would have sent him to the privacy of his father’s study for a brief mind-meld. Or had Sarek been away, the services of the family healer would have been sought. Vulcan children were taught that the Time of First Yearning was nothing to fear. It was dealt with in a straightforward manner by allowing young minds to perceive the change in physical condition and then lending the support of an adult mind to the task of controlling the unfamiliar sensation of arousal. Acute hormonal activity usually lasted for several weeks, but long before it subsided, the habit of control would have become ingrained—one more step on the road to modern Vulcan adulthood.

Spock knew that things had been quite different in pre-Reform times, when the concept of controlling both physical response and emotion was as yet undreamed-of and pon jeh’rel inevitably marked the beginning of an individual’s active sex life. A young person responded to his or her body’s stirrings by simply finding a willing partner and letting nature take its course—and from all accounts, willing partners were seldom hard to come by in that uninhibited society. While sexual appetite generally leveled off once hormonal levels stabilized, a youngster in the throes of pon jeh’rel was considered a prize by many adults, and many an erotic song celebrated the conquests of pubescent young women by pre-Reform chieftains who then bound the girls to their households as concubines and claimed the resulting infants.

Someone suddenly brushed past, and Spock realized that he was still standing in the middle of the walkway. Shaking off his reverie, he started walking again, more slowly this time, turning over his options in his mind. He could risk embarrassment and seek out a healer at the Vulcan embassy—surely the most logical approach. He could also go into temporary seclusion and attempt to deal with his condition himself. Spock was confident that, given solitude for extended deep meditation, he could master his immediate symptoms and teach himself the disciplines required for long-term control. The problem was that he did not know exactly how long such a process would take, nor could he simply disappear from Starfleet Academy for any length of time. Should the process require several days or even a week, as he feared it might, he would find his status as a cadet in serious jeopardy by the time he was fit to resume his studies.

As for the third possibility…. Spock shivered and quickened his pace. He was afraid even to think about the third possibility, for his body knew that it was the most appealing of all. Many times in recent days as he tried in vain to read or to listen to a lecture, his mind had wandered down mysterious, forbidden paths. Despite his lack of experience, he thought that finding a sexual partner might be relatively easy. Spock was occasionally invited by his roommate to join a group of cadets for a sporting event or a meal at a restaurant, and sometimes he accepted, at least partly in order to observe the social interactions of young humans. He had soon noticed that "picking up" persons of the opposite sex seemed to be a popular topic of conversation among both males and females. Indeed, Daniel Conrad had had three different girlfriends in the eighteen months that he and Spock had been roommates. Not only that, but he frequently teased Spock about being attractive to females and accused him of playing "hard to get." The Vulcan’s disinterest only spurred him on, until finally Spock forbade him to mention the subject.

Even now, caught in the unfamiliar grip of physical desire, the notion of a casual liaison was abhorrent to him intellectually. He certainly had no wish to endure the emotionalism of a non-Vulcan partner. That made him think of T’Pring, and inwardly Spock winced. He was betrothed, after all. He had no business even considering intimacy with any other woman. To succumb so easily to the demands of the body would be not only an unthinkable violation of Tradition, but a terrible lowering of personal standards as well. Yet despite all that, he felt out of control, unable to decide—

A flash of garish light startled him, and Spock once again faltered to a stop, staring at a blinking restaurant marquee and suddenly crowded walkway. He was no longer on the grounds of Starfleet Academy. After a moment he realized that, utterly lost in thought, he had walked well beyond its perimeter and into the surrounding neighborhood. Around him were commercial establishments of every description, for he had wandered—quite unintentionally—onto Silver Street.

Located barely a stone’s throw from the Academy campus, Silver Street was the local name for the collection of bars, holo-arcades, and cheap specialty shops that tended to spring up on the fringes of every institution of higher learning. It was perhaps more respectable than most, given the high visibility of Academy security and the equally high standards of behavior expected of Starfleet cadets. Silver Street also played host to a diverse clientele drawn from the city at large, so while the majority of its establishments catered to relatively inexpensive student tastes, both the posh and slightly seedy ends of the spectrum were represented as well.

Spock had been to Silver Street before. He had first looked it over while exploring Starfleet Academy and its environs, and several of his social outings with Daniel Conrad and friends had been to Gaetti’s, one of its most popular student hangouts. Spock knew that his roommate was a frequent visitor, as Daniel often took a date to a restaurant for an informal meal in addition to the weekend evenings he spent with a group of cadets at one of several bars. Directly across the street from where he was standing, Spock noticed a hologram depicting a peculiar Terran bird and beneath it another made to appear like an antique wooden sign: The Oystercatcher. That was one of Daniel’s favorite watering-holes. Farther down the same block he could see the blue and white logo of Gaetti’s, and everywhere the street was alive with people strolling in pairs, in groups of three or four or five.

Fascinated, Spock stepped aside and pressed up against the nearest building, where he simply stood and watched the ebb and flow of pedestrian traffic. Because it was a weeknight, cadets appeared to be outnumbered by civilians. Spock began to count the number of couples who passed, to notice the way many of them walked close together, some frankly touching, others simply talking in an intimate way. Like a moth drawn to flame, Spock followed them with his eyes. Thoughts of Vulcan—of duty—began to recede before the simple fact that he lived on Earth now. He had rejected his father’s wishes and enrolled in Starfleet Academy precisely because he wanted to learn what it meant to be human and to discover what role his human heritage might play in his own life. So there he was: sexually aroused for the first time in his life, surrounded by his mother’s people and yet completely alone. He could not help but wonder if logic truly demanded that he deny half of what he was. Would Tradition be served by dying of thirst when he need only stretch out a hand for water?

Dimly Spock realized that such thoughts were both undisciplined and unproductive. Still he stood his ground, watching in silence until an unexpected touch grazed his arm. He jumped, startled, and found himself face to face with three young human females.

"Sorry," one of them was saying. "Didn’t mean to bump into you."

Her companions giggled. One had red hair that curled and frizzed around her face in the damp weather. Backlit in the glow from restaurant marquees across the street, the effect was that of a rosy halo, and she looked at Spock from vivid blue eyes.

"Starfleet, right?" she said. "You waiting for somebody?"

"No," Spock managed. "I mean, yes. That is…."

"Hey, leave him alone," the first girl said.

The redhead only laughed. "Why should I? Come on, Cadet, a handsome guy like you shouldn’t be standing out here all alone. We were about to find someplace warm to have a drink. Why don’t you come with us?"

Spock merely gaped, dimly registering the fact that all three young women undoubtedly had already consumed more than one alcoholic beverage that evening. He shrank from their challenging stares, and something like panic seized him when they giggled again.

"Thank you, but no," he said hastily, "I think not," and turned and fled along the sidewalk until their laughter was swallowed by the ambient noise of the street.

Once he was certain he was not being followed, Spock slowed his frantic pace. Dismayed to find himself out of breath and his hands shaking, he walked on until he found an unoccupied bench facing the street. Its seat was damp with the recent rain, but he sat anyway, heedless of everything but the need to reestablish control. Carefully he settled both hands on his knees, closed his eyes, and focused on the simple act of breathing. The exercise was among the most basic relaxation techniques taught to every Vulcan child, but Spock knew it was useless to attempt anything more complicated under the circumstances. Nevertheless, within a few minutes he began to feel more calm. Opening his eyes again, he sat quietly and attempted to think of nothing as he watched the passing ground cars and the pedestrian traffic on the opposite side of the street.

After a time he realized that the rain had resumed. The hood of his jacket had slipped off; absently he reached to pull it up. That small movement jarred him back to full alertness, which in turn brought a keen awareness of the arousal still gripping his body. He needed to walk again, he decided—away from Silver Street, into any dark place that might conceal a Vulcan’s shame. Somewhat unsteadily he got to his feet, but movement across the street caught his eye before he could take a single step. He stood there, suddenly unable to move, staring at a scene he had apparently been watching for several minutes without grasping what it meant.

Directly opposite his bench was a nondescript establishment with shuttered windows through which feeble bars of light spilled onto the walkway outside. A lighted sign read simply Brothers, and beneath it another said Food and Drink. A restaurant then, perhaps a bar as well., and a fairly popular one judging by the number of customers going in and out. It resembled a dozen other eateries in the neighborhood, and Spock might not have spared the place a second glance except for the makeup of its clientele. For he saw that the patrons of Brothers—whether couples, groups, or individuals—numbered not a single female among them.

Heedless of the increasing drizzle, Spock stood and watched with helpless fascination. He saw males of all ages and several species, though the majority were human and many appeared quite young. As he had done earlier, he found himself focusing on the couples, alert for signs of intimacy. They were not hard to find. Many pairs walked hand in hand or with arms casually around each other’s waists. Though traffic noise prevented even Vulcan ears from distinguishing many words, Spock could hear occasional laughter and sense the intimacy of murmured conversations. Once, the restaurant door opened and a half dozen middle-aged human men came out. They stood talking for a minute, gathered in a close circle on the walkway, shrugging into jackets and pulling collars tight against the evening damp. Then, laughing, they exchanged hugs all around, and the party broke up into three couples who strolled off in different directions.

"Happy birthday, Michael!" one of the men called back, and when his friend turned to wave, added: "Love you!"

Spock’s legs had turned to rubber; he fumbled for the arm of the bench and sat heavily. Excitement gripped him, flooding his limbs like heated water and taking his breath away. Desperately he tried to contain the feeling, but it seemed utterly beyond his power to control or even to analyze. Neither pleasure nor pain, it simply filled him up, crowding out every sane thought and familiar sensation. With his heart thumping in his side, he continued to stare at the empty walkway where those men had stood until the door of the restaurant opened once again. For a moment he could make out only a brief rectangle of light as the door swung wide. Then, shaking his head to clear his swimming vision, he managed to focus on the two humans stepping onto the rain-slicked sidewalk.

They were young, he saw, certainly no older than himself. The taller of the two turned to his left and took several steps before stopping abruptly, apparently realizing that the other had not followed. He was saying something Spock could not hear when a lull in the ground car traffic brought their voices clearly to his ears.

"—thought we were going to my place first."

"No, I said let’s see if anybody’s hanging out at the holo-arcade as long as we’re right here, then after that we can—"

The hum of traffic resumed and urgently Spock leaned forward, scarcely aware of the intermittent blur of passing vehicles. He saw the taller human walk back and grab his partner’s hand—playfully, they were laughing—but the young man shook his head and tugged in the opposite direction. They appeared locked in a stalemate until the tall one suddenly released his grip, sending the other reeling backwards against the wall of the restaurant. He was still laughing, but his expression began to change as Spock watched. He went very still, waiting, and then the taller one closed the distance between them with a single step. Extending both arms, he braced himself with a hand flat against the wall to either side of his partner’s shoulders, leaning over the shorter man and blocking Spock’s view of the expectant, upturned face.

They were kissing, Spock realized—there, on the street—their mouths pressed together in what seemed to the Vulcan an unthinkably intimate act for so public a place. Still he watched, caught, his own lips parting in unconscious imitation. The sensation within him crested and overflowed. Drowning in a wave of longing, he saw the two young humans straighten and stand apart, then start off in the direction the taller one had favored in the first place. As surely as though he had been told, Spock knew where they were going: to the human’s lodgings, to share sexual intercourse, because they were lovers. They were two males, and they were lovers with intimate knowledge of each other’s bodies.

"Homosexual," Spock whispered aloud, testing the word, feeling its weight on the chill air of a planet light-years from home. As the truth of it settled around him, his inner turmoil began to recede. In its place came a cold clarity only slightly less painful, but one that allowed him to assess his situation objectively for the first time in days. He began in that moment to understand that the clamor of his body was inextricably linked to emotions long suppressed and perhaps complicated by his dual heritage, and he began to suspect as well what payment might yet be exacted for his decision to leave his father’s house.

"Homosexual," he said again. "That is what I am."

A light gust of wind blew rain into his face and Spock shivered, roused at last from his stupor of indecision. When he pushed himself up from the bench, the sudden movement made him light-headed so that he was forced to pause until he could find his balance against the relentless motion of the passing traffic. It was like a current, he thought, and himself an island at its still center. He began to walk resolutely upstream, taking the first turn away from the clamor of Silver Street. The enveloping darkness was a comfort as he turned his back on Starfleet Academy as well, choosing instead a walkway leading into the heart of the city.

If he set a rapid pace, Spock thought he could reach the Vulcan embassy in less than an hour. And with luck, he might even return to his room on campus before morning.

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