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Spock threw back his head and howled. There was no one to hear but the empty stars, and he was alone in his small craft, moving cloaked between the places of Ch'rian where he'd been working for the past few decades. If there had been anyone to hear, surely they'd have thought that some demon was being tormented beyond all feeling, all sanity. And in some sense they'd have been correct.

Spock, bereft. One more bond broken. Deaths--not just of his bondmate, but of his entire family, seared through the link. Hot tears fell, unbidden, from his lined and worn face, and his eyes, once so warm in his impassive face had gone cold as the black depths of space.

Sessek. Once his pupil, then his friend, finally, Need answering all, his bondmate. Not a replacement for his first and only t'hy'la--such a bond comes few in generations--but a new and deep affection, even love, had accompanied their joining. Two friends, two souls adrift, had found one another and been comforted thereby.

He never had thought it would happen. In the beginning, he had moved from cell to cell in the Underground, spreading Surak's teachings to young and old and middle aged who were tired of the endless machinations of the Empire, tired of its excesses and tired of the empty glory of war, which left the populous ill-fed and ill-clothed, and empty of sons and daughters gone to feed the endless appetite of the wars.

Sessek had been named Richak then, and he was of noble blood, yet genuinely interested in this new way of thinking, and applied himself to the disciplines, and learned the Mind Rules. And he had taken on the name of one of Surak's early disciples, honoring the teachings that he had brought to his entire house.

And because a kind of link had formed between them, they thought, when Spock's Time finally came again--always irregular, and once again, he had hoped with the long ago death of his first husband to avoid going through it altogether--Sessek too had Burned. And so they had joined.

Their passion had been deep and real, tempered by their advancing years. Sessek was no young man. He was older than Spock, though his face had not been carved and lined by the desert winds as Spock's had, so long ago. Even his Genesis rebirth had not erased those etchings.

As Vulcan and Rihannsu, neither looked at appearances in the same light as would Humans. And in their joined heritage, Sundered no longer, but each somewhat outcast by birth, circumstance or design, the Bond they had forged had been strong. Both were telepaths, both with strong Gifts, and though the love between them was not that one of youth and giddiness, but of respect and a deep abide, it was yet mutually satisfactory to both.

And because Sessek was older by some decades, Spock never thought to lose him so soon. They had only two decades together. Together, they had journeyed to Vulcan and had a public wedding. It had been attended by several StarFleet captains, Spock would later remember, when rationality returned, one of them the captain of the Enterprise. Jean-Luc Picard. Spock had been mildly curious about this current captain of the latest Fleet ship to bear the name of the ship which had been his only home so long ago. They had exchanged pleasantries, and Picard had been kind enough to talk to Spock about Jim's death, and even allowed a meld.

By then the loss had been a long ago ache, like a remembrance of pain, like a tooth long gone, whose nerve yet twinges in the imagination when probed with a tongue, but if left alone, did not hurt. It hurt him less than he thought it would, to see his beloved die on that world. Perhaps because in some sense it still seemed unreal, as the Bond had grown silent, but not broken.

Not like this break. He had wept at the loss of his first love. But Jim, however strong the Bond they had, had been mind-blind, except where the Bond was concerned. And so the strands, golden though they had been in their glory, had faded like the strands of floss in an antique tapestry, and finally died fully the day Jim Kirk had died fighting at Picard's side. Saving millions of lives once again, as he had done all his remarkable life.

Sessek had been proclaimed bondmate and heir to the House and to Clan Surak, and his nephew and niece, and later his oldest daughter had followed the two to Vulcan and taken up studies there. They and their families were at least safe, but Spock knew without a shadow of a doubt that the rest of Sessek's family were all, down to infants in arms, dead.

It would be so easy to give in to hatred. And that he must not allow. He had not hated the Klingons that took his students and turned them into so much smoking meat. He had not hated Soran, who had taken his t'hy'la. He had not hated Valeris, on whom he had pinned so much hope and who had betrayed all that he worked for. None of it had been in vain. There was peace between Klinzhai and the Federation now. He had met that Klingon who served under Picard. An honorable man.

No, he would not dishonor their memories by hating. He would continue his work, somehow. But now he would mourn. Again.

As his shaking hands lit the candle in the small space that served for quarters and kitchen and storage, the craft on autopilot, he worked to still the turmoil that his thoughts had become. He would work past this. He would find out who or what had betrayed his new family and he would work to repair the damage to the cells. He knew whatever else had happened, none of the family would have spoken of secrets, which is why they had died, undoubtedly.

And the work would go on, as it must.

Slowly, trembling, one more casualty of the Sundering pulled together the pieces of his inner peace and reassembled his composure. He would mourn and he would move on, and he would find comfort in knowing the labor was worthy of the laborer. One day

there would be peace and the rejoining. And though Spock knew he was unlikely to see it, he would comfort himself with knowing that he had set the Reformation in motion, and its irrevocable logic would one day do what over a thousand years of denial had not.

Sighing, Spock rose from his meditation and reset course for Ch'rian.

(written while listening to Sarah McLaughlin's "Arms of the Angels".

Yeah, I know. But the muse sometimes bites hard.)
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