Posted on Sun Jan 14th, 2024 @ 10:03am by Lieutenant Commander Zhi'rev & Senior Chief Petty Officer Sethan

1,434 words; about a 7 minute read

Mission: 1.1 - Catalyst
Location: Vulcan
Timeline: 6 months after "when we first met"

"are you nervous?" Sethan glanced sideways at his very silent companion. Zhi hadn't said a word since their transport entered Vulcan space and he had become very still. "Zhi, are you alright?" He caressed the other man's cheek lovingly. "My parents will adore you, don't worry. They'll approve, have faith love. The ceremony will continue as we planned."

Zhi caught his hand and held it in place for a moment, the gentle touch seeming to ground him. "A little," he admitted, "the concept of a parent is unknown to me. I grew up with a variety of caretakers and was left to my own devices at a young age. I don't know what to expect."

"They're..." Sethan pondered on a description. "...very open people. I couldn't have wished for better people. They never treated me as a replacement child, even though technically, I am. They never made a secret of the child they lost and it makes me feel like I had an older sibling I've never known. They're also very open minded and accepted that my betrothal was annulled because of who I am. They want me to be happy, rather than be traditional. I'm still on friendly terms with my former fiancée."

Zhi touched Sethan's hand with two of his fingers, gently caressing his palm before moving them to caress his cheek. "You are who you are," he said carefully, "never change who you are because of what another desires of you." He smiled, leaning closer. "What you are however, is mine. Now and forever, as I am yours. And I still am not certain I am worthy of you or why I deserve to have you."

"Fate," Sethan said simply, "fate decided we meet, and fate has us deserve each other." It almost felt like a wedding vow, something which wasn't customary with a Vulcan wedding. A jolt shook him back to reality and he grabbed Zhi by the hand, sensing his fear through the intimacy of their touch. "You will have a family now," he vowed, "a place, and a clan to call home. Come, beloved, and I will introduce you to my parents."

"You are a hopeless romantic," Zhi sighed as he almost stumbled, trying to keep up.

"Someone has to be," Sethan started, his smile brightening as a lithe woman approached them. "Mother," he breathed, radiating joy. "Mother, this is my betrothed, Zhi'rev."

"Zhi," Zhi corrected. "You may address me as you wish however, but among my friends, I am called Zhi." He bowed his head. "As should family," he added uncertainly.

"Zhi'rev son of no-one," the woman spoke softly, reaching to make him look up. "You are such no more. You belong with us now."

Sethan grinned. "What did I tell you?" He looked towards his mother. "You honour us with your welcome," he said gratefully.

"And now you get cleaned up, both of you." Her smile vanished even though the twinkle never left her eyes as she ushered both men along, towards separate rooms. "You can't appear before the priestess in your uniform! Get yourselves dressed properly in robes. I will meet you in thirty minutes."

"Yes ma'am," Zhi answered, too surprised at being ushered away to say anything else.

"Be easy on him mother," Sethan begged of her, "he's not used to this..."

Thirty minutes later, both men walked out onto the family ceremonial grounds, a large gong suspended from a double chain being prominently displayed at the center. Both eyes it somewhat nervously even though neither had any plans to strike it with the large mallet. But anyone who would object might still. They came to a halt in front of the priestess and they gave each other a single look of appreciation before turning back to the priestess. They were dressed similarly in cream coloured robes though Sethan's had green accents, where Zhi'rev's were brown.

The priestess stared down at them, a stern look in her eyes. "Thee come here to be wed," she spoke formally, "have thee attempted a bonding thyselves?" It wasn't uncommon, but she had to know.

"No," Sethan spoke clearly, "it is something we wished the family to be witness to." He turned to Zhi, taking his hand within his own. "We have melded before but not like this. Will you trust me when I say we will succeed? Will you trust me, when I initiate this?"

Zhi was surprised at the initiative and nodded slowly. "I will," he vowed. "I have no reason not to. I will trust you with my life, and my soul." He reached up to touch the katra points on Sethan's face, just as slender fingers found them on his.

"My mind to your mind," Sethan whispered, closing his eyes as he felt their minds merge and become one. It lasted only seconds but when the meld broke, he still gasped. "We are one," he whispered.

The priestess stepped forward, touching their temples simultaneously. "They bond is true," she announced, "recite the traditional vows."

"Parted from me and never parted," Zhi started, his voice breaking.

"Never and always, touching and touched," Sethan whispered, leaning forward to kiss him passionately. "I love you...and I'm so happy we did this."

Speechless for once, Zhi could only nod as he cherished the kiss, ignoring the public display of affection. They were among peers here, the only one with a disapproving look on her face was the priestess. She cast them a final nod, before turning to leave, leaving the newlyweds in the company of their family.

He turned his head at the tug on his hand which was firmly held by his new husband. "Come," Sethan said, "we'll find some privacy to settle your feelings. You look a little overwhelmed and I'm afraid you'll pass out. I want to spare you the embarrassment even though no-one will think less of you if you do. it's emotionally very draining." Sethan smiled lovingly at him and he could feel it at the back of his mind.

"I won't faint," Zhi promised as he took an unsteady step forward. "Or perhaps I will," he admitted, clinging to his husband for support. "I'm relieved your family accepted me so readily without having met me."

"Why wouldn't they?" Sethan grinned. "You're not the only stray here.,.. I'm too, remember.and there are others that aren't blood family. But I learned some ties are stronger than blood. And I'm very close to my parents, you heard mother, you are one of us now."

Zhi nodded slowly. "It's a little overwhelming," he admitted, "I've never had family before, not like this." He allowed himself to be led into what seemed like a very large garden, away from all the guests.

"I know." Sethan turned to face him, gently caressing his cheek. "This garden belongs to the family, everyone tends to it when they feel like it. Look, see that tree?" He pointed at a small fruit bearing tree." I planted that when I left for medical school. It needs quite a bit of attention but it's rewarding us with fruit every year." He paused. "We can plant something new if you like, to celebrate our union?"

Glancing around, Zhi nodded as he found somewhere suitable. "Something sturdy," he suggested, "something that will thrive in a desert climate and will protect itself from scavengers. I've been admiring the cactus when we lived on earth. Some seem to find it an ugly plant but I find them very intriguing. They require little, but can provide water in time of need. I just.. don't have one with me but we could on a next visit?" He smiled uncertainly at his husband, part of him still afraid this was just a dream.

Sensing the uncertainty, Sethan stepped forward and touched his temple with two fingers, at the same time kissing him a second time. "You aren't dreaming love," he whispered soothingly, "I promise this is very real. Come, let's go home and explore our newfound bond. We'll have all the privacy we need. After all, normally those who return here, are in the throes of Pon Farr and fortunately, we don't seem to have that issue. If we did, trust me, we wouldn't be standing here, talking."

Eyes widening at the very idea, Zhi shook his head. "I don't fear it, even if we may never experience it. I have you. And your thoughts betray you my husband, but have no fear... I will never deny you. I have made a vow, and I will keep it." He returned the kiss. "Let's go home."



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