NOBODY’S CHILD: The Saga of Doctor Leonard McCoy and Family-Chapter Nine

NOBODY’S CHILD
by Pat McCoy

CHAPTER NINE – San Francisco and Wedding Plans

Pat is surprised at how much has changed, around San Francisco during the intervening years. “It’s been quite awhile since I’ve been here! I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to locate any of my old haunts!”, she comments to no one in particular. “You’re so right, Pat.”, Sulu responds with a nod and a smile. “So much has changed since I was an Academy student hanging around here. For now, I’m going to head on home, put my feet up, and RELAX with my family! Please keep me posted on your wedding plans!” Pat grins at him. “Thanks, Sulu, for EVERYTHING! You’ll be the first to receive the engraved invitation!”, as she waves farewell. Sulu gives her a graceful bow. “Glad to help out any family member of Len’s. See ya later!” He waves farewell, gets on another transporter pad and leaves.

Pat looks at Sam and her Great-grandfather. “Well, it’s now down to just the three of us. Shall we scout around before we head to our respective homes?” “Child!”, her Great-grandfather growls, “I’m TIRED! Let me get some rest first! Please!” “Okay, Gramps.”, she sighs, “I keep forgetting that you get tired quicker than I do! Let’s see you home first.” Pat and Sam escort Leonard to his residence. While there, the three of them sit down and relax. Sam looks about the home. “Gramps,”, he says, “Can I get anything for you?” “Yeah, Gramps.”, Pat chimes in, “What can we do for you while we’re here?” Leonard waves them both off. “I’m fine! You two just relax! After everything we’ve been through, it’s good to just sit and enjoy each other’s company.” “I enjoy being with you, Gramps. It’s been so long since I’ve been here that I’m curious to see what’s around here … especially the jewelry shops. I need to plan for that part of the ceremonies.” The old doctor grins at both Pat and Sam. “Eager to get married, huh?” Pat looks at Sam and blushes. “Yeah, Gramps.” She pauses. “When Quon died, I forgot how to live. I just buried myself in my work.” She reaches up and strokes Sam’s cheek. “Then Sam entered my life and I finally understood that there’s a difference between existing and living.”

Leonard nods. “I could see that you were burying yourself in your work, child, which was why I insisted that you be ordered to take shore leave. The Top Brass could see that you were breaking down mentally, physically, and emotionally but did not agree to allowing indefinite leave. Sending you to DS9 during their Sail-abration helped. In a sense, Spock’s abduction, at about the same time, was a mixed blessing. When you returned from shore leave, it took your mind off of the depression you were struggling with and it brought you and Sam together.” Sam takes Pat’s hand in his. “In more ways than one, Gramps, Pat saved my life too.” Both McCoy’s look at Sam quizzically. “As illogical as it is … I, too, was still grieving for my wife and son and was doing the same thing … burying myself in my work. Even though they died several years ago, I held that pain inside and just simply … existed. Given that my parents are gone, my friends attempted to arrange another betrothal for me, but I was not interested … until I met this special lady.” He kisses her hand and Pat grins. Leonard leans over and grasps their hands in his. “You have no idea what all this means to me, kids. Someday, I might be able to find the right words to tell you.” Pat turns toward her Great-grandfather. “Love you, Gramps.” She pauses. “Is there a way to look up jewelry shops so we can look at rings?” Sam indicates the computer that he has noticed on the table. “Gramps, with your permission, may I access your computer to search for shops nearby?”

The old man nods. “Of course, son!”, as he gestures toward the console. Sam kisses Pat on the cheek, then gets up, goes over to the computer and begins searching for jewelry shops within their vicinity. Pat gets up and walks over to stand behind Sam as he searches the computer database. “I’m wondering how many jewelry shops are nearby?”, she wonders. “From what I can see”, Sam comments, “There are about four within walking distance of here. We can look into them as we are heading over to my place.” He makes a note of their locations on a PADD. Pat looks over at Gramps. “Will you be all right on your own?”

Leonard scowls at her. “And what kind of question is that child?” Pat shrugs. “Just checking. We’re all not as young as we used to be!” The old man shoos at them. “You kids go on. I’ll be fine; you two have a betrothal ceremony and a wedding to plan!” Pat smiles. “Thanks, Gramps! We’ll drop by from time to time and keep you in the loop about the wedding!” She turns to Sam. “Are you ready to go look at rings, K’Diwa?” Sam kisses her. “Of course.” He gets up from the computer and he turns toward Leonard. “Gramps, you will contact us if you need anything while we are gone?” The old man gestures toward both of them. “I said I’ll be fine! Now shoo, the both of you, and go look for your ceremonial rings!” Pat and Sam leave Gramps’ residence, carrying their luggage, heading toward Sam’s place. On the way there, they stop by the first jewelry shop on their list. It is being managed by a staff of Ferengi. Pat gives Sam an uneasy look and he nods. “I’ll handle this, K’Diwa.”

One of the Ferengi shopkeepers approaches and gives the Ferengi greeting with wrists together. “Welcome to my humble shop! How may I help you?” Sam looks about. “I wish to see rings suitable for a betrothal and a wedding ceremony.” The Ferengi gives him a puzzled look. “Rings for a ceremony? We don’t carry those kinds of rings. Why not use Bajoran earrings instead? I have earrings right over here!”, as he gestures toward a section in his shop. Sam gives him a look indicating disapproval. “My intended and I are NOT interested using that kind of jewelry for a VULCAN ceremony!” The Ferengi realizes he has made a major OOPS. “Forgive me. I was not aware that Vulcans used any jewelry at all in their wedding ceremonies.” “The rings are unique for our particular ceremonies.”, Sam states, “If you do not have any rings then we will need to take our business elsewhere.” The Ferengi realizes he is losing a customer. “At the moment, I don’t have anything in stock, but I can see about ordering some rings.” Sam looks at Pat, who shakes her head NO, then he turns back to the Ferengi. “We will look elsewhere.” Pat and Sam leave the shop while the shopkeeper protests. Sam shakes his head in bemusement. “I do not think I will ever understand the Ferengi.” Pat shakes her head. “Not all Ferengi are like that, K’Diwa. If you’ve ever met Grand Nagus Rom, he’s a good guy and very gentle. His wife, Leeta, is Bajoran, and he treats her like a queen! Zek, the previous Grand Nagus, came to understand many things when he married Rom’s and Quark’s mother, Ishka. He’s mellowed since he met her. As for Quark … as I’ve come to learn, after encountering him on DS9, he’s unique all by himself!” Sam looks over at her. “You speak as if you are friends with this Ferengi family.”

Pat nods. “I’ve met Grand Nagus Rom and Leeta during one of my many travels. His mother, Ishka, and step-father, Zek were visiting. Zek had a medical crisis, an ear infection, that had become septic. At his advanced age, he didn’t really pay attention to the symptoms as he thought it was just part of growing older. Fortunately, I happened to be visiting Ferenginar, studying their form of medicine and lecturing about practicing medicine in the midst of war, and I was called on to treat him. It was my first experience treating an elderly Ferengi and he was very sick for awhile. During my stay with the family, I came to hear about Quark and his escapades on DS9 and how he met my friend, Grilka, his ex-wife and current Par’Machai. I made a mental note to check on him the first chance I had to visit the station, which I did during the Sail-abration. Grilka told me more, about how Quark put his life on the line for her, while she was also visiting DS9’s Sail-abration. As for Zek, I wasn’t sure what to look for regarding his survival, let alone his recovery. His Hupyrian servant, Maihar’du, was able to help to a certain extent. The first indication that I knew Zek was feeling better was when he grabbed my behind! Ishka quickly reminded him who was boss!” Sam nods in understanding. “Ah!” “Which reminds me”, Pat continues, “We will need to invite Grand Nagus Rom and Leeta to the wedding … and Rom’s son, Nog. I don’t know if Nog will be able to attend as he is in Star Fleet and I’m not sure where he’s posted. If Zek and Ishka are up to it, we should invite them as well.” Sam reaches into his bag and pulls out the PADD. He punches in the information. “What cuisine can we serve the Ferengi delegation?”, he asks. “Well”, Pat responds, “They are insectivores …” Sam involuntarily blanches. “I see …” Pat nods empathetically. “I know! I know! It was a challenge while staying with Rom’s family while treating Zek. I had to live on MREs because there was NO WAY I could digest gree worms, chilled tube grubs nor could I drink snail juice and/or Sluggo Cola! BLEH!”

As they walk on toward Sam’s assigned residence, they encounter the second jewelry shop on the list. They go inside. They see objects such as Spikan Flame Gems on display and other objets d’art but no rings. They leave without speaking to the staff. Pat sighs. “Maybe we’ll have better luck at the next shop on the way.” As they encounter the third shop, they discover a sign stating that it is closed as the owner is out of town due to a family emergency. Pat and Sam walk on. They reach the fourth shop and go inside. Pat is delighted to spot antique jewelry of both Victorian and Art Nouveau styles … her favorites … along with her birthstone, the amethyst, set in several gorgeous pieces. There are also various styles of rings for both men and women with a variety of gems in tasteful settings. Pat becomes wide-eyed and whispers to Sam, “Ooooooohhhhh! PRETTY!” Sam nods approvingly. “These pieces and settings are very … aesthetically pleasing. I see why you like them so well!” “Sam, do you see a ring that would be suitable for you?”, she asks him. Sam looks about. “I believe I do see a set of rings … two for a woman and one for a man … that is a matching set.” The shop keeper, a Bolian woman, approaches. “That would be the bridal set, sir. Would you like to look at it?” Sam nods. “Yes, please.”

The Bolian shopkeeper brings out the bridal set so that Pat and Sam can take a closer look. Pat tries on the engagement ring, then the wedding band and discovers, with delight, that they fit. Sam tries on his ring and notices that it is slightly loose. “The ring can be adjusted to fit you, sir.”, says the Bolian, “Here, let me take some measurements.” The shopkeeper measures the ring, then measures Sam’s ring finger. “It should take just a few moments to adjust the size.”, she says. The shopkeeper takes the ring over to a replicator, programs what is needed, and the ring size changes. She brings it back to Sam and he tries it on again … it fits perfectly. “This is satisfactory.”, Sam nods. “Can an engraved message be placed inside the ring?”, Pat asks. The Bolian shopkeeper nods. “Yes, we can do that. What message would you like engraved?”

“If possible”, Pat continues, “Could you engrave it with both Vulcan and Standard script?” “Depending on the wording”, the Bolian nods, “It is possible.” “That would be wonderful!”, Pat grins, “I would like the following words: ‘Taluhk nash-veh k’dular and I love you’ engraved inside. I hope that can fit.” Sam gives her a slight smile and his eyes are dancing. “I agree that I hope the quote can fit inside the groom’s ring. May I take a closer look at the rings that the bride would wear?” The Bolian shop keeper takes the rings from Pat and hands them to Sam and he looks closely inside the wedding band. “Yes, it should be large enough to engrave Vulcan script inside. However, I am not certain if it would be large enough to include Standard as well.” “How about the Vulcan script for ‘Taluhk nash-veh k’dular”, Pat asks, “and ILY’? Might that fit inside?” Sam looks closely at the bridal ring again and nods. “Yes, I believe that can fit inside.” He hands the rings back to the shopkeeper. “How long will it take to do the engraving inside the rings?” “Not long really.”, the Bolian responds, “Only a few days for both rings.” Pat is looking at other rings as well. “K’Diwa, do you see something else?”, Sam asks.

Pat lifts up a gorgeous Victorian ring set with an amethyst. “K’Diwa”, as she gestures toward the ring, “How’s this for the pre-ceremonial Promise Ring?” Sam nods approvingly. “Yes, that will do nicely.” She tries on the ring but it doesn’t quite fit. “Looks like it’s a little too small.”, Pat comments. The Bolian shopkeeper approaches her. “Let me take some measurements.” She measures Pat’s finger then goes back over to the machine nearby, programs it, and the ring changes size. She brings it back to Pat, who slides it on and sees that it now fits perfectly, She then takes it off and hands the Promise Ring to Sam with a smile. “Kind Sir, would you like to do the honors of placing this Promise ring upon my finger?” Sam gives her a slight smile as he takes the ring and holds Pat’s left hand. “I promise to bond with you, at our Koon-ut-La, on Vulcan!” Pat can’t take her eyes off of his face. “And I also promise to bond with you, at our Koon-ut-La, on Vulcan, K’Diwa!”, she replies. Sam slides the Promise Ring onto Pat’s left hand. They notice the Bolian shopkeeper dabbing at her eyes. Sam turns to the Bolian shopkeeper. “How many credits will that be?” The shopkeeper finishes wiping her eyes and picks up a PADD and runs some calculations. “Let me see.” She shows the PADD to Sam who nods with approval and places his thumb print on it. “I will have the bridal set and groom’s ring engraved within 48 hours.”, she says, “How may I contact you?” “I am staying at lodgings on the Star Fleet campus.”, he replies, “Do you have a business card you can give me?” “Yes, of course.”, the shopkeeper responds, “May I have your PADD, please?” Sam produces his PADD and the shopkeeper punches her business information into it, then copies down their contact information into her own PADD. She hands Sam’s PADD back to him. “I will contact one or both of you as soon as the rings are ready.” Sam nods at this. “Thank you.” “Thank you so much!”, Pat adds. They leave the shop and walk onto the Star Fleet campus. Eventually, they find the coordinates for Sam’s lodgings after taking the scenic route. Pat giggles as she takes his hand. “I don’t mind getting lost with you!” He gives her a slight smile, looking at her with affection.

Once they arrive at the door, Sam consults his PADD for further instructions about his lodgings. “I see where they have the code box programmed to accept my thumb print and retinal scan.”, he comments, “It can be programmed to accept yours as well.” He programs the code box for both himself and Pat. The door slides open and Pat grins at him. “Want to start practicing an ancient tradition?” Sam tilts his head, quirks an eyebrow, and looks at her with curiosity. “Which ancient tradition is that, K’Diwa?” “Lifting me up and carrying me across the threshold.”, she continues grinning. Sam’s eyes start dancing. “Please instruct me in this ancient tradition!” Pat wraps her arms around his neck. “Just bend your knees, place one arm around my back, the other arm under my knees, then slowly lift with your legs so you don’t throw your back out.” Sam does as he is instructed and is holding Pat in his arms. Pat’s grin grows wider. “Comfy?” Sam gives her slight smile. “Definitely, yes!” He steps across the threshold while carrying her. Once inside, and the door slides shut, he sets her on her feet and kisses her. “I like this ancient tradition!” They drop their luggage where they stand and he lifts her up in his arms again. “I need to practice this further!” He carries her from room to room as she giggles. “I haven’t been able to laugh like that in a long time!”, she says breathlessly. Sam stops in the bedroom. “It is good, K’Diwa, to hear you laugh again. I want to make you happy for the rest of your life!” He kisses her then lays her down on the bed while he continues kissing her. They begin to make love passionately.

She wakes up the next morning and begins caressing Sam’s bare back. “Hmmmm …” Sam replies, “Hmmmmmm?” “Just thinking to myself …”, she says, “I guess I should stop by Star Fleet Headquarters while I’m here to get that bit of unpleasantness out of the way. I’m sure they want to debrief me about what I’ve been doing while I was on medical leave per Gramps’ orders and I don’t think they are going to be happy about my being away so long. I’m also not looking forward to having to revisit my experiences regarding Uncle Spock’s abduction and the encounter with my late brother.” Sam rolls over and faces her. “You have nothing to be ashamed of, K’Diwa. Gramps documented the reasons you were sent on shore leave to DS9 in the first place. The investigation into Spock’s abduction required your presence as you were the only one who was able to recognize the evidence your brother left at the crime scene. Without you, we would not have been able to solve the case.” Pat nods. “I know, K’Diwa. The two halves of my brain are at war with each other. The logical left side of my brain agrees with everything you’re saying and the emotional right side of my brain is still in panic mode. Then there is the grief, about my brother, on top of it all.” Sam lifts Pat’s left hand to his lips and kisses it. “While you’re meeting with Star Fleet officials and you start feeling scared, look at this Promise Ring and know that our thoughts touch.” “I love you, K’Diwa”, she responds, “and I cherish thee. Taluhk nash-veh k’dular!” She kisses him and they begin to make love again.

Later, Pat stands outside the office of one Admiral Akaar. She nervously smooths her uniform tunic and tries not to stim. An aide ushers her inside the office to meet with the Admiral. She tries to calm down and folds her hands behind her back to stop them from shaking as she stands at attention. “Good morning, sir.”, she greets him. Admiral Akaar looks up. “Doctor McCoy! I’m surprised by your visit! I was not expecting you!” “Yes sir.”, she nods, “I accompanied Gramps … I mean … Doctor Leonard McCoy home and thought I should meet with you and the other officials given that I had been away longer than is normally permitted.” Admiral Akaar gestures towards her. “At ease, Doctor! I am well acquainted with your Great-grandfather. As a matter of fact, I am named after him.” Pat becomes wide-eyed with surprise. “You are?!” She suddenly remembers her place. “Ooops! Sorry, sir, didn’t mean to step out of line.” “Don’t worry about that.”, the Admiral responds affably. “Be sure to ask him to tell you the story of how he helped save the life of my mother and delivered me. I’m sure he would enjoy those memories.” Pat whistles softly. “Wow. I had no idea! Gramps hadn’t told me about that adventure!” Akaar nods solemnly. “I know that you have some experiences of your own that we need to discuss, Patricia.” He notices the purple sparkle on her left hand and points to it sternly. “What’s this? I don’t believe regulations permit this.”

Pat nervously caresses the ring. “It’s my Promise Ring, sir. When my Intended finishes his studies here, we will have a Betrothal Ceremony on his home world and then a wedding later.” Admiral Akaar is surprised at this. “I’m not familiar with the custom of a Promise Ring before a Betrothal. Which world is he from?” Pat blushes. “He’s Vulcan, sir. We met when we were investigating the abduction of Ambassador Spock. As illogical as it may sound … we fell in love and are planning our betrothal and wedding while he studies with Star Fleet.” The Admiral frowns, puts down his PADD and crosses his arms. “I didn’t think Vulcans use jewelry for such things. It would be illogical and considered frivolous.” Pat swallows hard and touches the ring again. “You are correct, sir, that Vulcans normally don’t wear jewelry that is considered frivolous and personal. Anything adorning their persons is usually connected to a ritual, family, rank and/or planetary symbolism, such as IDIC and Kohlinar. This Promise Ring is special between us. When we return to Vulcan for the Betrothal Ceremony, known as the Koon-ut-La, this Promise Ring will be replaced by an Engagement Ring. Then, at the Koon-ut-Kalifee, a Wedding Ring will be added. When I was researching my family history, I learned that this was a very ancient custom centuries ago. We wanted to honor our ancestors as we join our families together.” Akaar pauses as he gets up and walks around from behind his desk. “I see …”, he comments, then smiles and holds out his hand. “Then let me be the first to congratulate you on your upcoming nuptials! As your Great-Grandfather might say … it’s about damn time!” Pat gulps in surprise. “T-t-t-thank you, sir!” “Admiral Leonard McCoy has been keeping me informed regarding the recent developments since you left for your shore leave at DS9.”, Akaar continues while still smiling. “I understand what happened between you and your late brother. Your Great-grandfather has granted you Bereavement Leave. Now I’m giving you an order. Go home to your Intended and continue working on the wedding plans! Star Fleet Medical has been taken care of, per your Great-grandfather! Now get going! Dismissed!” “T-t-t-thanks, again, sir!”, she stutters, “I’ll make sure you are included on the guest list!” She heads toward the door, trying hard not to be obvious about hurrying. “I’m looking forward to the celebration!”, the Admiral responds. “Yes, sir!”, she says as she scoots out the door and gives a sigh of relief once she’s out of the building.

Sam is attending the classes at Star Fleet to supplement his investigative skills. One of the items he has been given is a Star Fleet issue communications badge. At the end of one of his classes, he pauses to try it out. “Samok to Doctor Pat McCoy.” Pat is both surprised and delighted to hear his voice come across her comm-badge. “K’Diwa!”, she shouts. Sam manages to suppress a grin as other Star Fleet officers walk by. “Yes, it is I. I’ve just been issued a Star Fleet comm-badge and thought I should test it.” Pat suddenly remembers that they are out in public. “Our thoughts never and always touching and touched. I miss you! Can we meet for lunch?” Sam has a slight smile on his face as he responds, “Parted from me but never parted. I concur! Do you know of any good restaurants around here?” Pat hesitates. “It’s been awhile since I’ve been on Star Fleet’s campus. Let me locate a kiosk and see what I can find.” She walks about until she finds a computer console at a public kiosk and consults it for a list of nearby restaurants. She continues her conversation over the comm-badge, “I see Terran cuisines of Asian, European, Mediterranean, Cajun, and a variety of off-world eateries. Any of them pique your interest?” She can hear the smile in his voice as he responds, “You choose the place, K’Diwa.” “With my impulsiveness”, she giggles, “you KNOW that’s living dangerously when you have me make the choices of food and beverages! If we had enough time, we could beam over to New Orleans to Sisko’s Creole Kitchen. I’ve always wanted to check that place out ever since Ben … I mean, Captain Sisko … described it to me. His father founded the restaurant and Ben spent his childhood there. The restaurant is still in the family even though Joseph Sisko is gone, may he rest in peace.” “Intriguing!”, he replies, “Let me check my chronometer and my class schedule …” He pauses. “There’s a Star Fleet officer here who is willing to accompany us to the restaurant in New Orleans. His name sounds familiar to me … do you recognize the name of Nog?”

Pat is surprised. “Nog! Yes!” She taps her comm-badge again. “Nog, it’s me, Doctor Pat! Can you tie into our conversation?” “Doctor Pat!”, Nog happily replies, “How are you? What are you doing in San Francisco?! I couldn’t help but overhear the mention of Sisko’s Creole Kitchen! I dine there often and the food is FANTASTIC! I would be honored to accompany you there!” “I’m here with my Intended while he’s attending classes at Star Fleet.”, she replies, “And how are you, my friend? What have you been up to?” “Not doing bad at all!”, the Ferengi officer replies, “As to what I have been up to … may I ask you a question regarding that?” “Sure!”, she says, “Go right ahead!” “Well …”, Nog continues, “Jake is getting married soon and he has asked me to be his … what do they call it? His Best Man? Please don’t be offended … given that you are a Hew-mahn … can you tell me … what is a Best Man … at a wedding? I just couldn’t ask Jake! I didn’t want to appear … foolish … for asking a stupid question.” Pat stifles a laugh. “It’s all right, Nog! I understand! It appears that it’s wedding season around here lately!” Nog’s voice sounds confused. “How so, Doctor Pat?” “Nog”, she replies, “do you see that handsome Vulcan gentleman standing beside you?” “Yes”, he replies. “HE is my Intended!”, Pat replies with a smile in her voice. “Once he finishes his studies, we will be formalizing our relationship with a Betrothal Ceremony and then a Wedding! I need to find out from Ben when Jake is getting married so I don’t accidentally schedule our ceremonies at the same time!” Nog’s voice sounds ecstatic. “That’s GREAT!” Then he suddenly remembers the time. “Would it be possible to continue our discussion at Sisko’s? My treat! Transport and all!” Pat suddenly becomes concerned. “Nog, can you afford the credits?” “Doctor Pat”, Nog replies, “my Dad is the Grand Nagus and he gives me a generous allowance. Ever since you saved Zek’s life, we can’t thank you enough on behalf of Moogie … my grandmother!” “Do we have enough time to transport, get something to eat, and transport back?”, Pat asks, “What about your schedules … both of you?” Sam pauses before responding. “I don’t have another class for a few more hours. I can contact the instructor and see if I can flex that.” “Sounds good to me!”, Pat responds, “And I’m getting hungry!” “Then allow me to direct you to the nearest rendezvous point.”, Nog replies, “Where are you, Doctor Pat?” Pat gives him the coordinates of her location. “That’s just around the corner and down the block! Stay there! We are on our way! Nog out!” Pat waits a few moments after Nog signs off. “Sam? You still on the comm?”, she asks. “Yes, K’Diwa.”, he answers, “We will be there shortly. Let me sign off with you while I communicate with my instructor. Samok out!” In about ten to fifteen minutes, Sam and Nog turn the corner and see Pat. Nog waves to her and she waves back. When they reach her, she hugs the Ferengi Star Fleet officer in greeting. “This is great, Nog! You’re going to be our navigator! Which way?”

Nog grins. “Just follow me!” He leads the way to the nearest transporter platform and the three of them transport to New Orleans. He continues to show them the way to Sisko’s Creole Kitchen and they enter through the front door. Pat breathes deep as she savors the aromas she is encountering. “That food smells GOOD!” Then she notices the alligator hanging from the ceiling and jumps back in astonishment. “WHAT is THAT?!” Nog laughs. “That is the restaurant’s mascot! I can’t recall the full story behind it. Something about it being turned loose at night to act as a watchdog. I’m sure Captain Sisko can tell you the next time you see him.” Pat is flabbergasted as she continues to inspect the gator. “I just might put in a call to him as soon as we return to San Francisco! That thing is HUGE!” Sam nods toward the alligator. “Intriguing!” “I can’t wait to hear the story behind THAT!”, she adds as she points to it. A waitstaff person approaches them. “How many in your party?” Nog gestures toward Pat and Sam. “These two friends are with me as guests. Table for three, please.” The waitstaff person leads them to a nearby table, seats them, and gives each one a menu. Pat looks over the menu. “That lobster creole looks good! I think I’ll try that along with some Cafe’ Au lait as I’m not sure how the spices would interact with Root Beer!” “I’ve come to enjoy their Gumbo”, Nog replies, “So I’m having that with Synthale.” Pat turns to Sam. “What do you think?” “Since I’ve never experienced Cajun cuisine before”, Sam responds, “I’ll follow your lead and have the lobster creole. By the way, what is Cafe’ Au lait?”

“In answer to your question regarding the Cafe’ Au lait”, she says, “It is a coffee beverage with milk and it does have some kind of sweetener in it. Your metabolism might react to the caffeine, the lactose, the sweetener, or all of the above. You might be safer with water for now. I was also going to suggest sharing the lobster creole as the serving portions could be way more than I can eat by myself!” The three relay their orders to the waitstaff serving their table. Pat quietly takes out a pill bottle and pops one pill into her mouth. Sam notices this, quirks an eyebrow, but chooses to say nothing for the moment. She turns to Nog. “So … you’re going to be the Best Man at Jake’s wedding, eh?”, she says with a grin. Nog nods. “Yes. What is … a Best Man?” “Well”, Pat replies, “Traditionally, the Best Man assists the groom at his wedding. I’m sure Jake will have a list of things he will need you to help him with.” Sam considers this. “Which makes me realize that I will be needing to make similar arrangements to have a Best Man assist me in my wedding preparations.” “Do you think Stark would be willing to accept that role?”, she asks, “I get the sense that you and he have been friends for quite a while.” “In traditional Vulcan weddings”, Sam explains, “The male has a group of his closest friends assisting him, at the ceremony … not just one.”

Pat looks bemused. “I see … how would the group be assisting you at our wedding?” “Their roles depends on what occurs at the Koon-ut-Kalifee.”, Sam answers. Pat quirks an eyebrow. “Would that be a good thing or a bad thing at our wedding?” Sam’s voice drops to a whisper. “When the Plak Tow takes over, it is difficult to predict what may occur. Sometimes, the … groom’s … closest friends must restrain him.” Nog’s eyes bulge in astonishment. Pat looks around then drops her voice to a whisper. “Is that what happened at your first wedding to T’Ling?” she asks with a worried look on her face. Sam shakes his head and continues to whisper. “I have very little memory of that day. The only thing I can recall is that there was no challenge. The marriage proceeded without incident in spite of the Blood Fever. Do not worry, K’Diwa, circumstances are different for us as we are both adults since our first meeting. I doubt that you will have the same issues given that you are human.” “Don’t be so sure, Sam.”, she replies, “Assumptions have a bad habit of making fools out of people who make them. I’m hoping that the ceremony we design will pass inspection by the priestess who will be officiating at both the Betrothal as well as the Wedding ceremonies.” Nog is puzzled. “I’ve heard that Vulcan rituals were not spoken of to outworlders. I’m confused.” Pat gestures. “Normally, Vulcans do not discuss such things with outworlders. Our situation is … unique … and given that Sam and I are to be formally bonded together, in marriage, I need to be instructed as to what to expect and what I should do … and not do … at both ceremonies. I’m still learning about Vulcan custom and culture on a personal level. It’s one thing to be aware of Vulcan wedding etiquette, from a Star Fleet point of view. It’s a whole ‘nother ball game when an outworlder marries a Vulcan. There can be culture shock.” Nog is astonished. “You’re not having a regular Hew-Mahn wedding?”

Pat smiles. “Not exactly. We are combining elements of both human and Vulcan rituals to honor each other.” The waitstaff arrives with their meals, a glass of Synthale, a glass of water, and a cup of cafe’ Au lait. After Pat pauses, momentarily, to say a quick prayer, they dig in and begin eating. “This lobster creole is DELICIOUS! I wonder if Ben would be willing to give me the recipe?”, she pauses to chew, then resumes speaking while Sam continues to sample their shared meal. “Anyway, I will need to know when Jake is getting married so I don’t accidentally schedule our ceremonies at the same time because I want to include you, your family, Captain Sisko and his family, which will include both Jake and Karenna.” Nog nods at this while he is eating. He pauses. “I’ll check with Jake. I think this would be one of my duties as his Best Man.” “I really appreciate it, Nog.”, Pat says, “There are so many details and logistics that need to be considered when planning a wedding. I have a feeling that, as the day gets closer for Jake, he’s going to be nervous.” Nog looks at both Sam and Pat. “Are you two nervous about your upcoming ceremonies?” Pat points to herself. “I am DEFINITELY nervous, especially about the details!” Sam nods. “I would concur with Pat. There are certain … details …that cannot be discussed in public.” “And that is just for the arrangements for both ceremonies PLUS the ceremonies themselves!”, Pat adds, “I still have a LOT to learn regarding Vulcan wedding custom and marriage culture! I have many habits, based on my own culture and experiences, that could be considered offensive on Vulcan … such as cursing in Klingon. One does NOT do THAT in polite Vulcan society!”

“Look at my Dad and Leeta.”, Nog responds, “When they first got engaged, they had a LOT of misunderstandings because he was born and raised as a Ferengi and she’s Bajoran. Ferengi custom and culture, where women are concerned, can be … ummm … tricky!” Pat turns to Sam. “When I met Nog’s Uncle Quark, the Ferengi ambassador reminded me that on his home-world, it was the custom many years ago that their women always stayed home … naked.” Sam’s eyebrows shoot up in astonishment. “I do not understand the logic in that.”, replies the Vulcan. Pat snickers. “Quark does. It was part of his pick-up line to me thinking I was going to go along and play his FEE-MALE! Then his Par’Machai, Grilka, showed up and us two FEE-MALES had some fun yanking his chain! He finally realized that he was much happier with Grilka.” Sam is puzzled by that. “But if Ferengi females stayed home … naked … how would it be possible for this Grilka to be involved with Quark given his traditional Ferengi views? How was it possible for Ishka, Nog’s grandmother, to accompany Zek on their travels?” Pat grins. “As illogical as it may sound … and Quark was OFTEN illogical, from my perspective, he found himself facing a dilemma of his own making because of his pursuit of profit after a drunken Klingon fell on his own knife in his bar. Quark tried to claim credit for winning a hand-to-hand battle. Grilka, being Klingon, and the honored widow, she challenged Quark to a duel when she first met him! She was claiming the Right of Vengeance for the death of her husband, who happened to be that drunken Klingon. It’s a long story. They are now, what is called in Klingon, Par’Machai … lovers … again, long story. As for Ishka and Zek, Ishka is VERY progressive and a force to be reckoned with! She’s a LOT of FUN to hang out with! She’s been teaching me to play Tongo! FUN game!” Nog becomes wide-eyed as an idea comes to him. “My Dad and Leeta, Uncle Quark and Grilka, Jake and Karenna, you and Sam! Do you notice something in common?”

Pat grins. “It’s the same thing that Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan and Amanda Grayson, a human from Earth, along with Worf, a Klingon, and Jadzia Dax, a joined Trill. They all had … love … even though each mate comes from a different world!” Sam nods. “It appears that love overcomes all obstacles between worlds … and yet, on my world, we are taught that love is an illogical emotion.” He gazes at Pat. “But those who insist that love is illogical have never experienced the strong bond between two who are mated.” Pat leans over and kisses Sam. She suddenly remembers they are in public. “Oops! I probably should not have done that in public!” Sam gives her a slight smile. “As stated, love is an illogical emotion and I have been forewarned that you are impulsive. Don’t ever change, because I love you just the way you are.” Pat grins and blushes. “At the same time, K’Diwa, I have to be mindful about when PDA is appropriate, especially around Vulcans.” Nog gives them a puzzled look. “PDA?” Pat gives a mischievous grin as she winks at Sam. “Public Displays of Affection.” Sam’s eyes dance while he chooses to remain silent on the subject. “Watching all of these friends and relatives find each other, maybe there’s hope for me.”, Nog says wistfully. Pat reaches over and touches his hand. “Just take things slow and listen to the other person. I think your Dad and your Moogie Leeta could give you advice in that department given how they found each other.” She gazes at Sam. “Believe it or not, Nog, before Sam and I met, we were both workaholics and simply existing. We each had just given up and was resigned to being alone for the remainder of days. But meeting each other changed all of that.” Sam reaches over and takes her hand. “I would say our meeting was agreeable to both of us.” He winks at Pat and she grins back. Pat glances at a nearby chronometer and gasps. “I just realized something! Your schedules!” “Easy, Pat.”, Sam replies, “I’ve spoken with my instructor and flexed my next class until tomorrow. They are giving me time to become acclimated to being on Earth.” “What about you, Nog?”, Pat asks.

“Actually, I’m on a scouting trip for Jake.”, explains Nog, “He wants to find something special to give to Karenna as a wedding gift and I thought I might be able to find it somewhere on Earth.” Pat looks at Sam as they share the same thought. “Nog, does Jake have anything particular in mind?” The Ferengi officer shakes his head. “Not really. He wants it to be something REALLY special and we expect the Great Material Continuum … the Great River to find a way to bring it to pass.” “Nog”, Pat replies, “I have an idea. It might or might not work. I just want you to consider it. Can you find out when Jake’s birthday is and, if possible, Karenna’s birthday, even though she is Bajoran. It might be possible to calculate the Earth’s equivalent of it.” Nog looks intrigued. “Why?” “Based on Jake’s birthday”, Pat continues, “There is a birthstone that goes with it. Each month of the Terran year has it’s own birthstone, such as diamond, emerald, amethyst, pearl, topaz, opal, ruby, sapphire, and so forth. If we can calculate what Karenna’s corresponding birthstone is, then you can find them at a certain jewelry shop in San Francisco that is owned by a Bolian lady. Perhaps both birthstones could be set in a necklace to give to Karenna on her wedding day. What do you think?” Nog pulls out his PADD. “I think that’s a GREAT idea! Let me calculate … converting the Star date of his birth to Terran time … my calculations indicate … August 7th!” “Great!”, Pat exclaims. “May I borrow your PADD for a moment?” Nog hands it to her and she punches in some information. “According to my research, the month of August has TWO birthstones … the Peridot and the Sardonyx. Now we need to calculate Karenna’s birth-date.” “Wait!”, says Nog, “I remember something that Jake told me … that he and Karenna share the same Federation Star Date for their births! That’s one of the things that brought them together.”

Pat’s eyes are aglow as she roughs out a sketch on the PADD. “That gives me another idea! The Sardonyx has often been used in cameos. If there is a way to carve a cameo in an image, unique to them, with a tiny inset of a Peridot … like this sketch here …” She shows her sketch to Nog and Sam. “And have that cameo on a pendant for Karenna to wear around her neck!”, Nog replies excitedly. Pat makes another sketch. “Or have both their images carved on a cameo inset with them holding a Peridot, together. Here, let me give you the information we have for that jeweler in San Francisco. She’s a very nice Bolian lady. She might be able to come up with some ideas that are better than what I have thought of. Be sure to tell her that Samok of Vulcan and Doctor Pat McCoy of Earth sent you. She’s very helpful!” “Thank you!”, Nog says, “I’ll do that!” Pat notices that Sam is sitting quietly and looking thoughtful. Pat attempts to touch his thoughts and finds them shielded from her and she sends him her feelings of puzzlement. “Sam?”, she asks, “Is anything wrong?” Sam shakes his head. “No, K’Diwa. Nothing is wrong. Nothing at all.” Pat gives him a look that says “Hogwash! You’re up to something!” He responds by looking innocently back at her. Nog looks back and forth between Sam and Pat. “Uh-h-h-h, Doctor Pat?” “It’s all right, Nog.”, Pat replies, “Just a little misunderstanding that Sam and I can discuss … later.” Sam decides to change the subject. “I believe this restaurant serves dessert?” Pat looks askance at her fiance’, remembering their previous discussion regarding desserts on Vulcan. Nog chooses to not notice this as he replies to Sam’s question. “Definitely!” The Ferengi officer gestures to the waitstaff. “Can you bring us a dessert menu, please?” The waitstaff brings over three dessert menus and they begin to look over the various choices. Pat flinches when she sees what is listed. “I think I have a problem.” “Are they too fattening?”, Nog asks.

Pat shakes her head. “Uh-h-h-h-h, no! Everything listed on this menu includes alcohol … REAL alcohol!” Sam gives her a puzzled look. “Alcohol is still a problem?” Pat nods. “For me … yes! If you recall from our mind-meld, K’Diwa, I cannot safely metabolize alcohol.” “Maybe they can use synthehol instead.”, Nog suggests helpfully. Pat shakes her head again. “That won’t make a difference for me. I cannot have alcohol … or synthehol … in any form.” Nog and Sam comment together. “I don’t understand.” Pat pauses, then sighs. “I’m not sure how to explain this to those who have never experienced anything such as … addictions. You see … when I was younger … I became addicted to alcohol, and drugs, because of their properties as mood- changing chemicals. I became dependent on those chemicals because I could not cope with certain … problems. The alcohol, and other drugs, stopped my thinking about those … problems … but then the alcohol started damaging all of my internal organs and I nearly died. Even the taste could trigger the cravings and my addiction would begin anew. The addiction is always fatal if it is not stopped … and stays stopped. Not everyone understands alcoholism, or drug addiction … or the fact that I am a … recovering alcoholic and a recovering drug addict.” Her voice trails off … and there is an awkward silence. Pat sighs and resumes. “I’m sorry. I ruined everything.” Sam shakes his head. “No, K’Diwa. You did not ruin anything!” He gestures to the waitstaff. “Is there a dessert that can be prepared without alcohol?”

“Yes, of course!”, replies the waitstaff. “There is a dessert of chocolate crepes and fresh strawberries. The strawberries are also dipped in chocolate.” Sam nods. “That is acceptable.” He looks at Nog and Pat, who both nod eagerly. “Would it be agreeable to share this between the three of us?” “It’s one of my favorite desserts!”, Nog replies. “Yes, please!”, Pat chimes in looking at Sam with a gleam in her eye. The waitstaff leaves with the dessert order. Pat drops her voice to a whisper. “Sam, that dessert is LOADED with sugar PLUS the chocolate! It’s going to make you VERY drunk with a double whammy!” “I trust that the two of you will keep me safe?”, Sam asks. Nog grins while Pat is speechless. The dessert arrives and they each sample it. Sam eats very sparingly but Pat quickly picks up on the fact that he is feeling the intoxicating effects. She reaches over to cover his hand and sends her thoughts to him. “Sam, now that our minds are linked, and the sugar is impacting you, I’m feeling the effects, through you, and that is NOT comfortable! I had NOT anticipated that! My sobriety is very important to me! Do you understand?” Sam nods toward Pat. “I have had enough of this dessert. I will leave the rest to the two of you.” She sighs with relief. They finish the dessert, Nog pays the tab, and the three of them head back to San Francisco.

“Well, what did you think of Sisko’s Creole Kitchen?”, Nog asks. “The food is FABULOUS!”, Pat responds. “I must agree with Pat.”, replies Sam, “The food is aesthetically pleasing to the palate as well as visually.” Nog grins. “I’m glad! Jake wants to hold his wedding there.” Sam raises an eyebrow. “Indeed?” Pat grins and nods. “K’Diwa, it’s perfectly logical for Jake to have his wedding at his ancestral place. His grandfather established the business, lived there, and raised both his children there. Captain Sisko has many wonderful memories from growing up there. By Jake celebrating his wedding at the restaurant, it also honors his grandfather, who will be there in spirit. And they won’t have to travel far for the reception.” Sam nods in agreement. “I see what you mean.” Nog becomes excited. “Maybe a double-wedding?!” Pat holds up her hand while shaking her head. “Thanks for the suggestion, Nog. It’s a nice idea. I strongly feel that Jake and Karenna’s wedding day should focus ONLY on Jake and Karenna! This should be special to the two of them alone. Sam and I have other plans. You’ll understand the logic behind the decision as soon as you see what we are doing.” Nog looks a little crestfallen. Pat leans over and kisses his cheek. “It’s really sweet of you and it’s the thought that counts, Nog.”, she says, “I really appreciate that. Now, I think it’s time for you to go see that Bolian lady about the necklace idea. Okay?” Nog smiles. “Okay, Doctor Pat! I’ll see you later!” He heads over to the antique jewelry store. Pat turns and looks Sam straight in the eye. “And WE have some talking to do.” “Yes.”, Sam acknowledges, “And I have a question. What was that pill you took before you ate?” They start to walk home while Pat pulls out the pill bottle to show him. “This is medication that I have to take whenever I eat anything spicy. I have gastro-esophogeal reflux disease.” “Wouldn’t it be more logical to stop eating spicy food?”, he asks. Pat smiles. “K’Diwa, if I stopped eating a food because it triggers GERD, I would be stuck eating only pablum for the rest of my life! That would be just EXISTING … again!” Sam nods. “I understand.”

“Now it’s my turn!”, she says. “Why have you started shielding your thoughts from me all of a sudden?” Sam gives her a slight smile. “Wouldn’t you like any surprises at our wedding?” Pat narrows her eyes at him. “I like surprises, Sam! PLEASANT surprises! The sudden shielding caught me off guard, that’s all. Being closed off, without warning, is a most UNPLEASANT surprise!” Sam nods. “What I did annoyed you and I agree that was not a fair thing to do without warning. I’ll be sure to remember so I do not repeat that mistake!” Pat huffs. “Thank you!” They arrive back at their home and she pulls out a PADD to start jotting down additional ideas. “I need to look at wedding gowns, to find something suitable.”, she comments, “Some of the wedding attire I’ve seen has my head spinning! Another item to look for is a Unity Candle.” Sam looks puzzled. “A Unity Candle?” “Uh-huh”, she responds, “It’s a ceremonial candle. It was used by my ancestors in the ancient of days.” Sam looks bemused. “I see …” Pat looks at him. “Uhh-h-h-h, you don’t see … yet!” She sends him a mental image of what it looks like. “Ah!”, he replies, “Now I understand!” “K’Diwa”, Pat continues, “I think now would be a good time to check in with Uncle Spock so we can coordinate with what he’s doing.” “Agreed!”, says her fiance’. He gets up and goes over to the comm-system. In a few moments, Spock’s image appears onscreen. Spock gives the Vulcan salute and greets Sam in their native language. Pat calls out from across the room. “Hi, Uncle Spock!” “Live long and prosper, Patricia-Kam. Are the betrothal and wedding plans progressing well?” “So far, so good, on our end!”, she replies with a grin. “What have you to report from Vulcan?” “I have been conferring with the Elders and one of them wishes to meet with you … privately.”, replies Spock. Pat gets up and walks over to the comm-system. “Meaning … couples counseling … as in traditional premarital counseling similar to what they have on Earth?” “No … and … yes.”, Spock says enigmatically.

Pat looks confused. “Uncle Spock, what’s that supposed to mean?” “The Elder”, Spock continues, “Who would also act as Priestess, wishes to meet with you, Patricia-Kam, alone.” “I see.”, she says, “How can we work out the logistics for that?” “She is traveling to Earth, as we speak.”, her Uncle replies. Pat is taken aback. “I was not expecting that! Can you tell me what I can anticipate from our meeting?” Spock shakes his head. “I regret, I cannot. The Elder would not disclose that to me.” “Maybe I worded the question wrong.”, Pat says, “Did she appear to disapprove of our upcoming nuptials?” “Again, I cannot answer as the Elder would not disclose that to me.”, Spock replies. “Perhaps she wishes to evaluate the matter before she renders an opinion.”, Sam suggests. Pat looks from the monitor to Sam and back. “Sam, she might be of an age where she does not approve of Vulcan-Human marriages.”

“I believe that in this day and age, racism would be a thing of the past.”, Sam comments. Pat sighs. “Unfortunately, that is not always the case. My family research has turned up more than one interracial marriage among my ancestors, which makes me … a mutt. And I STILL encounter an idiot, from time to time, who thinks it’s funny to make racial jokes about people of color or offspring of mixed marriages! The idiot quickly learns that I do NOT share THAT kind of humor!” Spock nods. “I can attest to that … from personal experience.” Sam is astonished. “Even in this day and age?!” Spock and Pat respond together, “Yes!” “I find that … astonishing, as well as disquieting.”, Sam says, “In this age of Enlightenment there are STILL those who prefer to remain …” “Those who prefer to remain ignorant … unfortunately … yes!”, Pat replies. Sam is rendered speechless. Pat continues, “My visit with this Elder will happen, whether I want it or not. I guess the only thing I can do is prepare for the worst and hope for the best!” With no other updates to discuss, they conclude their communication.

Pat continues working on the plans for both ceremonies. She visits several bridal stores, trying on various gowns, and finds them a challenge. Some are too short, or skimpy, for her taste; others are too long and unwieldy; some make her look older than she is, and still others accentuate the wrong areas of her body … much to her embarrassment! Feeling exasperated, she returns home to find an imperious looking Vulcan woman standing on her doorstep … waiting. Pat realizes this must be the Elder and thinks to herself: “Uh-oh!” She recalled an ancient court show that was still being broadcast in re-runs, where the court was presided over by an imperious no-nonsense lady. This Elder had a striking resemblance to that judge and Pat felt her stomach clench! She approached the Elder and bowed in respect. “My esteemed Uncle Spock informed me that I would have an important visitor.”, Pat says in greeting, “May I presume that the expected visitor is thee?” The Vulcan Elder arches one eyebrow. “Indeed.” “Give me a few moments to open the door and see to your comfort. You have traveled a great distance.” Pat approaches her door. “It is illogical for thee to see to my comfort! Thou art human!”, the Elder responds. Pat straightens up from inputting the code into the door’s panel and looks her directly in the face. “It may be illogical and yet it is the polite and respectful thing to do for one’s Elders.” “Do thee see to the comfort of others?”, the elderly Vulcan asks. “If you are referring to my Great-grandfather and Uncle Spock”, Pat replies, “Then yes, they require assistance from me as they both have age-related challenges. It is also my duty as the Great-granddaughter and niece. I see to the needs of my Elders gladly and willingly as I love my Great-grandfather and Uncle!” The Elder narrows her eyes. “Thee are Doctor Leonard McCoy’s Great-granddaughter. Thee are NOT Ambassador Spock’s niece! THEE ARE HUMAN! Love is an illogical emotion and should not be considered in the equation!” Pat softly sighs as she walks through the door and places her things to the side. She turns to face the Elder who has followed her inside. “And what is wrong with adopting someone, as family, when that person helped to save my life?!” The Elder glares silently back at her. Pat clears a comfortable chair and indicates it to the Elder. “I’ll bring you some tea.” Without waiting for an answer, she walks into the kitchen and puts her antique kettle on to boil. She is grateful that Gramps had kept it with him and was able to return it to her. She turns around to discover that the Elder has followed her into the kitchen and is peering closely at her.

“Thee are not easily intimidated!”, the Elder declares. Pat’s patience is wearing thin. “No, I’m not!” “Explain!”, demands the Vulcan Elder. Pat leans closely toward the Elder and drops her voice to a near whisper. “I train Klingons!” Pat notes, with satisfaction, that both eyebrows of the Elder shoot up into her hairline but manages to keep her facial expression neutral. “The water will be ready shortly.”, Pat comments, “Here are the various tea flavors. Do you have a preference?” She holds open a box that contains a variety of teas. “I have no preference!”, the Elderly guest declares as she turns on her heel, walks into the other room and sits down. Pat mutters to herself, “Okay, then.” Pat sets up a tray with two tea cups, places a tea bag of mint tea in each cup and pours boiling water over each. She waits for the tea to steep for a few minutes before she carries the tray into the other room where the Elder is waiting. She offers one of the tea cups to the Elder, who silently takes it. Then she set the tray down on a nearby coffee table and takes up the other tea cup for herself. She sits silently, taking in the aroma of the mint wafting about her face and notices that the Elder is watching her intently. “Thee does not speak?”, the Elder asks. “It is more respectful that the Elder be the first to speak!”, Pat replies as she sips her tea. “Indeed!”, the Elder comments. More silence ensues. “Who taught thee Vulcan manners?”, the Elder finally asks. Pat cannot keep the irony from her voice. “UNCLE Spock …” The Elder stares intently at Pat for what feels like forever. “How long have thee known Ambassador Spock?” “I’ve known Uncle Spock ever since I was a child of six years of age.”, Pat replies then pauses, “We have a long history. As I’ve stated before, he helped to save my life. Would you like more mint tea?” “My tea is acceptable as it is.”, the Elder responds. “Very well.”, Pat says. More silence ensues for several more minutes then the Elder suddenly sets down her teacup. “It is time that I state the purpose of my visit! Thee wish to marry a Vulcan?” Pat looks her squarely in the face. “Indeed!” “And thee proposed this … idea?”, the Elder demands. “As a matter of fact”, Pat responds, “HE proposed to me! I had suggested that we give ourselves time to explore all possibilities … and to get to know each other better … given that I am an illogical, emotional, human!” The Elder quirks an eyebrow at that comment. “Indeed! Where is thy proposed bond-mate now?” “He’s taking classes at Star Fleet Academy, to augment his investigative skills.”, Pat answers. “I see …”, the Elder says then she pauses. “Are thee aware of the Pon Farr?” “Given that I must be aware of what to expect”, Pat comments, “we have discussed it.” “Indeed?”, says the Elder, “And you do not fear what may happen?” Pat takes another sip of tea. “It is illogical to speculate on what has not yet occurred.” The Elder is stunned into silence but continues to study Pat’s face intently while she continues to enjoy her tea. The Elder finally nods. “Thee have experience with training Klingons, and have joined the Investigative Force when they rescued Ambassador Spock from that homicidal madman.” A slight flicker of pain crosses Pat’s face and the Elder comments, “The mention of the madman has disquieted thee.” Pat carefully places her tea cup on the tray. “Yes.” “Thee are also honest about thy emotions.”, the Elder continues. Pat can only say, “Yes.” “Thee are aware of how the madman died?”, the Elder inquires. Pat feels her throat tighten as she barely whispers, “Yes.” “And this knowledge has also disquieted thee.”, as the Elder peers intently at her. “Yes.”, Pat barely whispers. “And thee does not express emotions about this? Why? Thee are human. Humans normally shed tears.” Pat quietly responds, “I grieved for my brother as I sent his ashes into the sun that shines down on us today. When a family member is lost to death, grief will always be there while living must continue. Is that not so, Elder?” Pat lifts her eyes and looks the Elder full in the face, awaiting her answer. Once again, the Elder is stunned into silence and she lowers her eyes. “I was not aware that the madman was thy brother. I grieve with thee regarding his loss.” “Thank you for your condolences.”, Pat quietly responds, “It is much appreciated.” There is more silence. The Elder nods sagely. “Samok has chosen well. Thee are not Vulcan and, yet, thee behaves as if Vulcan. I accept thy challenge and will perform the Koon-ut-La! I will see thee again, on Vulcan, when it is time!” Before Pat can get up, the Elder stands up and walks out the door without saying another word. Pat shakes her head in bewilderment. “Now THAT was one spry old bird!”

Sam has found the classes more challenging than he anticipated. Many of the training exercises defied all logic and yet, somehow, they worked. One training exercise caught him completely off-guard. He, along with a group of other trainees, were tracking perpetrators who were described as armed and dangerous. He thought he had followed every logical course of action, protecting himself, protecting his fellow officers, while searching for the criminal when he suddenly felt himself hit with a paintball in the posterior! Then he hears a gleeful voice: “You’re done! The exercise is over!” He whirls around in astonishment and discovers another Star Fleet officer garbed from head to foot in armor, holding an old-fashioned paintball gun. Sam peers at this stranger. “Who? How?” He did not think he could be astonished any more until the officer removed the helmet concealing his face … HER face! Doctor Pat McCoy’s face! She stands there, giving him an evil grin! When Sam finally finds his voice, he asks, “What are you doing here?!” Pat swaggers over to him. “Who do you think DESIGNED this exercise in the first place?! Hmmmmmmm?! Sam could only stand there, agog, speechless. Pat can’t resist giving him a passionate kiss then and there. She hears other officers start to cat-call or whistle and she whirls around, hitting them all with paint-balls as well! The catcalls turn into squawks of surprise, groans, moans, and curses.

Pat grins at all of them. “Class is over for the day! Back to the classroom to debrief about what has just occurred.” She turns back to Sam, smiling. “You too, sexy. Your instructor is waiting.” He shakes his head in astonishment. As he turns to walk away, she reaches out and smacks his posterior. He whirls back around. “You are in a good mood!”, he comments. “Your instructor is still waiting for you!”, Pat reminds him. Sam walks back to her. “He can wait for a few more minutes. You have something to tell me!” Pat brushes his thoughts with her own, “Guess who stopped by and visited with me today?” “The Elder!”, Sam replies, “What did she say?!” Pat grins. “She has given her Stamp of Approval. She will perform the Koon-ut-La! Now get going before your instructor gives you detention! I’ll have something special, waiting for you, when you come home!” Pat watches as her Intended heads back to his classroom. Then she turns on her heel and heads for the locker room, whistling as she walks.

Back at their residence, Pat is still researching wedding attire. Sam arrives home and glances over her shoulder while he puts his things away. “Found anything yet?”, he asks. Pat shakes her head in frustration. “Nothing yet. Either they are designed for the barely legal, focusing on portions of my anatomy that I DON’T want attention drawn to, or there is so much fabric that I would feel claustrophobic and/or be tripping over my own feet, not to mention becoming overcome by the Vulcan heat while wearing it! Maybe Uncle Spock can give me some suggestions.” “You’ve researched wedding attire from all the Federation worlds?”, Sam asks. “Yes”, Pat replies, “Except one because of their unique custom.” “Which world is that?”, he asks. “Betazed.”, she replies drily. Sam quirks an eyebrow. “What makes their wedding custom so unique?” Pat is barely managing to keep a straight face. “EVERYBODY shows up naked! Bride, groom, guests, officiant, and wedding party!” Sam pauses to consider this. “That would resolve what to wear!” Pat bends double laughing, clutching her ribs and wiping her eyes. After several minutes, she manages to catch her breath. “Thanks, Sam!”, she gasps laughingly, “I needed that! Let me see if Uncle Spock is available.” Sam gives her a kiss. “I have some studying to do and you need privacy to speak with your Uncle regarding the ceremonies and the attire.” He steps out of the room, closing the door.

Spock appears on the comm-link. “What is it, Patricia-Kam?” “I need to brainstorm some ideas for what would be an appropriate gown for the Koon-ut-La plus an appropriate gown for the Koon-ut-Kalifee.”, Pat answers, “Can you help, Uncle Spock?” “I am … uncertain.”, he responds, “Given that the Koon-ut-La is usually performed when the betrothed are but seven years of age, this would be new territory in designing a ceremonial gown that you would find comfortable. What might be suitable for a Vulcan might not be suitable for a human.” “What does the traditional attire look like, for the usual betrothal age?”, she asks. Spock brings up some graphics and Pat had to shake her head. “Nope. I don’t think I can adapt that design for a older adult!” Then Spock brings up the graphic of his parents’ wedding attire. Again, Pat shakes her head. “I’m sorry, Uncle. Your Mom’s wedding dress was fine for your Mom given that she had a human-themed wedding dress and her ceremony was on Earth. Nice thought, though. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t quite fit with the Koon-ut-La nor a good fit for the Koon-ut-Kalifee. If I find the need to answer a challenge, your Mom’s gown wouldn’t be able to function in that regard.” Spock nods. “Logical.” “I guess the way I’m thinking is that form must follow function as well as look regally elegant … dignified.”, Pat continues, “I guess I’m thinking in terms of a Warrior Queen. Not like the Lady Lukara of Q’onos, but a logical Warrior Queen of Vulcan, ready to answer any challenge on the battlefield of Kalifee.” Spock quirks an eyebrow at that description.

Pat thinks for a few more minutes, then grabs a PADD and begins sketching. “Uncle Spock, what are your thoughts about this kind of Bonding Dress?” She shows him a sketch of a fitted dress, that was slightly above the knee in front, draping toward a below the knee length in back. The bodice of the dress was fitted to the contours above the waist without being overly tight with removable bell sleeves composed of a light, translucent material that was purple in color. The skirt was also removable in the event of battle. The leggings was of the same matching material as the sleeves. The material, for the remainder of the dress, was a deep purple velvet. Ceremonial armor, fitted with amethysts, were contoured over the dress with a matching helmet that resembled the crown of a queen. Pat continues, “The armor and helmet would be for the Koon-ut-Kalifee. If a challenge is issued, I must be prepared.” Spock nods. “And it would incorporate being the adopted daughter of the House of Martok. I believe that design will work, Patricia-kam.”

“And the shoes must also be elegant and logically functional for battle, should a challenge be issued.”, Pat continues. She makes additional sketches on the PADD of a pair of slip-on flats, that matched the dress, with skid-proof soles. She shows the sketch to Spock who, again, nods with approval. “Please send these sketches to me, Patricia-Kam, and I will see to it that they are produced in time for the ceremonies.” She gives him a quizzical look. “Uncle, how can they be produced in the correct size while I’m here and you are on Vulcan?” “Do you have your latest measurements for your uniform and boots?”, the Elder Vulcan asks. Pat nods. “Good point!” She transmits her sketches along with her Star Fleet uniform size and Star Fleet boot size. “As soon as the prototypes are ready”, Spock continues, “I will contact you.” “Thanks, Uncle! Love you! I have some more errands to take care of so I have to run. I’ll talk to you later! Live Long and Prosper!”, she prepares to sign off. “Peace and Long Life, Patricia-Kam!” His image fades from the screen. She gets up and goes into the other room to speak to Sam. “We need to decide on the invitations to be sent out.”, Pat comments, “What they should look like on the outside and what wording to engrave on the inside. We already have a guest list drawn up. Once we decide on the invitations, then there is the challenge of how to deliver them to where our guests currently are around the quadrant!” “And we need to learn from Nog when Jake is getting married so we don’t create a schedule conflict.”, Sam adds. “THAT is imperative!”, Pat agrees, “Let me get him on the comm-link. Maybe he has some updates to give us!” She goes back to the comm-system, programs Nog’s contact information and he appears onscreen.

“Doctor Pat!”, Nog greets her, “How’s everything? By the way, thanks for telling me about that jewelry shop! I found exactly what I needed and I think Jake and Karenna are going to LOVE it!” “Glad to help out!”, Pat replies, “Any word from Jake regarding when their big day is scheduled?” Nog shakes his head. “Not yet. Jake has been so busy with this research project, given that he has a deadline hanging over his head, he and Karenna haven’t had the time to really pick a wedding date yet.” Pat nods. “I understand. Sam and I are still working on our arrangements. We have a Priestess on stand-by on Vulcan. Uncle Spock is assisting with the logistics on his home-world. Worf and Martok are taking care of what they need to do. We have all the items either in our possession or in the process of being created. The last thing we need to do is to prepare the invitations, which require a definitive date. I’ve been holding off on that until I knew what Jake and Karenna are doing so I don’t accidentally steal their thunder or stomp on their wedding day.” Nog looks anxious. “I’m not sure what I CAN do about that dilemma even though I’m his Best Man. Any advice?” Pat shrugs, indicating that she doesn’t know either. “I’m going to need to seek some advice of my own before I can impart any helpful suggestions for you, Nog. Let me check on something and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Thanks!” “Thank YOU, Doctor Pat! Nog out!” Pat cuts the connection, then puts in a call to Deep Space Nine. She comments to Sam, “I’m on a roll! Once I get what I need done and out of the way, then you and I are next!” Captain Benjamin Sisko appears onscreen.

“Hi, Ben! Sorry it took so long to get back to you after I left the station. How is everything?” “Everything is humming along!”, Sisko replies, “How have you been?” “Better than the last time we were able to talk. A whole lot has happened, which we can discuss later, and I need your help with a dilemma.” “What’s the problem, Pat?”, he asks. “Well, Ben, I need to know what wedding date Jake and Karenna have chosen.” Sisko gives an exasperated sigh. “I’ve been pushing him to make a decision … soon … if I’m going to be able to submit a request for time off to travel to Earth for the festivities. I expect they will send you an invitation.” “That’s part of my dilemma …”, she responds, “Sending an invitation to all of your family members to come to Vulcan.””Why?”, Sisko asks, “What’s happening on Vulcan?” “My Koon-ut-La and my Koon-ut-Kalifee.” Sisko is surprised and starts to grin. “Does that mean what I think it means?” Pat motions for Sam to come over to the comm-link and gestures with a smile. “Ben, I want you to meet Samok of Vulcan. Sam, this is Captain Benjamin Sisko of Deep Space Nine … and Jake’s father.” She takes Sam’s hand in hers. “Sam is my Intended.” Sisko grins delightedly. “Congratulations! I’m so happy for both of you!” “Thanks, Ben! Sam and I have been working on various logistics. We haven’t decided on a date … yet … until I know when Jake and Karenna have decided because I don’t want to put all of you in the position of being forced to choose between two wedding ceremonies at the same time.” Sisko gestures. “Pat, go ahead and choose a date for your own ceremonies. Then Jake will need to choose a date that does not conflict with yours. Do you have an idea of your schedule?”

“Well, right now, Sam is taking classes at Star Fleet Academy to supplement his investigative skills. Once those classes are completed, then we will be returning to Vulcan.” Sisko checks his schedule. “That gives me time to submit my request to take time off. Who’s officiating?” “A Vulcan Elder will be performing the Koon-ut-La.”, Sam replies, “For the combination Vulcan-Human-Klingon wedding ceremony, we will need to coordinate that with whomever is authorized to perform such ceremonies with their schedules.” Sisko nods. “I see. Have you consulted with Admiral Akaar?” “I have his name on the list to receive an invitation.”, Pat answers. “He could officiate at the wedding given his rank.”, Sisko suggests. Pat is puzzled. “But doesn’t that apply only to being aboard a star-ship? Our ceremonies are to take place on Vulcan.” Sisko smiles. “That would apply to captains of their respective star-ships. I would suggest talking with the Admiral further.” “Okay, Ben. I’ll check into that. Hold the date for the end of the academic year! Thanks! I know you’re busy so I’ll talk to you later. Pat out!” The comm-link connection is broken and the screen goes dark. Pat looks up at Sam from her seat in front of the comm-link. “Logically, my next call must be to Admiral Akaar. Do you have time to stand by during the conversation?” “I will always stand by your side, K’Diwa.”, Sam replies. He places his fingertips on her face and she leans into his hand. “After this phone call”, she murmurs, “It’s our turn.” “Are you tired?”, he inquires. Pat kisses the palm of his hand. “No, K’Diwa. I am not ready for sleep.” Pat turns, programs the comm-link and the image of Admiral Akaar appears onscreen. “Admiral, sir.”, she greets him. The Admiral peers at her. “You look flushed, Doctor McCoy. Are you well?” She realizes too late what has become apparent and blushes further. The Admiral smiles and nods with understanding. “Don’t be embarrassed, Doctor. Among my people, who are nomads, this is a fact of nature. We are not embarrassed by such displays. How else would my people increase the population when there is little or no opportunity for privacy?” Pat looks self-conscious. “Logically, I understand. Emotionally, that is another story!” The Admiral grins at that. “What can I help you with, Doctor?” “Captain Sisko suggested I speak with you regarding the ability to officiate at a wedding on Vulcan.”

The Admiral looks confused. “I thought a Vulcan Elder would be in charge.” Pat nods. “A Vulcan Elder will be in charge of officiating at the Koon-ut-La. For the combination Vulcan-Human-Klingon ceremony, we need an additional officiant. I will be consulting with Martok … later … regarding the participation of the Klingon representatives. We need an officiant for the Human portion of the wedding ceremony. Do you have any advice regarding that?” “Of course.”, The Admiral responds. “Being a ranking admiral in Star Fleet, as well as being a judge advocate general, I am authorized to perform weddings on various worlds according to their ancestral customs.” “Would you be available to officiate at our ceremony?” “I would be honored to perform such a duty!”, the Admiral replies, smiling. “I will schedule my availability to officiate when you return to Vulcan. Admiral Akaar out!” He closes the channel. Before Pat can take another breath, Sam scoops her up in his arms. Somehow, they blindly find their way to the bedroom and begin to make love once more.

Afterward, as Pat caresses him, she asks, “K’Diwa, How intense is the Pon Farr?” “Much more intense!”, he replies, “Logic will be ripped away. The only focus will be to … mate … or die! Are you still frightened by that possibility?” She considers the question. “Yes and no. Tell me, right after the Koon-ut-Kalifee, if there is no challenge, does the bride and groom go elsewhere privately?” “Your question is based on the Admiral’s cultural experiences as a nomad, is it not?”, Sam asks back. Pat nods. “Yes.” “Usually, after all the guests leave”, Sam replies, “The bride and groom immediately consummate their marriage … in front of the Elder, who officiated. That Elder is usually the matriarch of the groom’s family and, thus, has an … interest in the continuation of the family line.” Pat gives him a troubled look. “What is the logic in that!? Such a thing should be the most private of all … not for anyone to see!” Sam nods at her outburst. “I understand what you are saying, K’Diwa. In most cases, the bride and groom are of an age where they are old enough to consummate the marriage and young enough to be fertile. The Elder can verify when the pregnancy has occurred, with a mind-meld, which, in Vulcans, is usually immediate if there are no health issues to prevent it.”, Sam explains. Pat looks thoughtful. “Given our relatively advanced age, will we be permitted privacy?” “I will insist upon it!”, Sam answers, “We are both old enough to be considered Elders ourselves … thus we are entitled to privacy.” Pat grins at him. “There is an old saying among humans …”, as she indicates the tinges of gray hair they both have, “There may be snow on the mountain but that does not mean the fire is out!” Sam gives her a puzzled look. “I do not understand …” “Our relatively advanced age shows with the gray we each have earned in our hair.”, she responds as she caresses the hair on his head.” Sam growls in response and their lovemaking begins anew.

Much later, after both have gotten dressed and Sam has returned to campus for his next class, Pat sits back down at the comm-link and programs Martok’s contact information. The Klingon aide that she previously encountered appears onscreen and she gives him an evil grin without saying a word. The aide pauses. “Doctor McCoy! I will put you through to Martok right away!” The Klingon insignia appears onscreen as she is placed on hold. Pat is unable to control her snickering. The screen changes and Martok comes online. “McCoy! My adopted daughter! Q’Pla! Are the plans for your nuptials proceeding apace?” Pat gives him the Klingon salute. “Yes, my Esteemed Adoptive Father. I need to ask a question. A Vulcan Elder will officiate at the Vulcan portion of the ceremonies, Admiral Leonard James Akaar, the godson of my Great-grandfather, will officiate for the Human portion while also representing Star Fleet and honoring my Great-grandfather, his namesake …” she pauses, “Who can officiate for the Klingon portion … without taking over and attempting to run the whole show?” Martok grins. “Ah! THAT is both a challenge and an enigma!” “That it is!”, she nods, “What is the usual tradition?” “In my House”, Martok explains, “my wife, the Lady Sirella, would conduct the Klingon Wedding Ceremony. She did so for Worf and Jadzia.” “I heard that Jadzia punched her out before the ceremony because they had a difference of opinion!”, Pat comments, “I can GUARANTEE that the Lady Sirella and I will have differences of opinion about many aspects of my ceremonies!” Martok chuckles. “I expect that! However, you are already the adopted daughter! Jadzia was joining my House via marriage. The Lady is aware that it is not wise to provoke her children to wrath! As a matter of fact, she is here and we have been discussing your ceremonies. What do you have in mind?”

Pat thinks for a few seconds. “I’m thinking … that I would like to have two lines of Klingon warriors, holding their Bath’leths overhead, forming an arch, as I walk underneath toward the place where my Intended awaits. The Lady Sirella could recite my family lineage of warriors, as I approach my Beloved, then recite the family lineage of Samok of Vulcan, telling the story of how we met and how my Vulcan Warrior and I fought, side-by-side, to save my family … the family members who are in attendance at the ceremony.” “That sounds glorious, my daughter!”, the Lady Sirella responds, “Anything else?” “Yes”, Pat continues, “As humans have been known to often say, I would need to give you a ‘heads up’. There is a possibility that once my Intended and I are joined in the Koon-ut-La, Pon Farr might happen. Should the Pon Farr occur, logic will be ripped away. Should anyone be foolish enough to interfere and/or issue a challenge …”, she pauses, “the challenger could face an immediate attack and be killed. I want ALL Klingon warriors to understand that!” Martok and Lady Sirella reply together, “It will be done! Let NO warrior interfere!” Pat bows her head to her adoptive Klingon parents. “Thank you. That is all I can ask. I have other tasks I must complete. Until I see you both again … Q’Pla!” She gives them both the Klingon salute and the connection is severed. Pat immediately reconnects with Nog’s comm-link and he appears onscreen.

“Nog! Sorry it took so long to get back to you. One call led to another regarding various logistics.” Nog smiles. “I understand, Doctor Pat! I still have not gotten any decision from Jake regarding his wedding date.” Pat nods. “I asked Jake’s Dad for advice and he’s pretty much in the same boat as you … no idea when Jake is going to be able to set a date. So here’s what we are going to do. I’ve already got several arrangements either completed or in progress. I have my officiants ready to perform the ceremonies. The only things left is to arrange for the invitations to be created and sent, plus the flowers, music and catering. The target date for the Koon-ut-La and/or the Koon-ut-Kalifee is at the end of this academic year, when Sam and I return to Vulcan. Captain Sisko is already making his arrangements to travel to Vulcan to attend and I expect you and your family will do the same. Jake and Karenna will need to be informed so they can arrange to attend as well. I’ll need to know what coordinates to send invitations to y’all.” “I can give you that.”, Nog replies. He transmits the information, then continues. “By the way, when you send me an invitation, can you include … ‘and guest’?” “Sure!”, Pat replies with a grin, “No problem!” She notices that Nog is smiling shyly. “Okay, Nog! Out with it! Who is she?” “You know that nice Bolian lady at the jewelry store?”, he asks. Pat quirks an eyebrow. “Isn’t she a little old for you?” Nog blushes. “Doctor Pat! I didn’t mean her! That nice Bolian lady happens to have a very nice daughter close to my age. When I went to the shop to look for the wedding gift that Jake needs, the daughter was there assisting her mother and … well … the daughter likes me.” Pat’s grin grows wider. “Good for you, Nog! I’ll be more than happy to include her on the guest list with you!” Nog grins back. “Thanks, Doctor Pat!” Pat bows her head in acknowledgment. “I think that takes care of some things for now. Watch for your invitation to arrive as soon as they are ready! Talk to you later, Nog! McCoy out!” She severs the connection, then remembers additional questions and reconnects with Spock.

“Spock here. Greetings, Patricia-Kam. Other logistics connected with your ceremonies, I presume?” Pat grins at him. “You know me too well, Uncle. I need to double-check on the flowers, music, and catering. What can we do regarding those arrangements?” “I have found several recordings of T’Ling’s music that would be suitable for waltzing”, Spock replies, “and arrangements have been made to ensure that guests from every corner of the quadrant will have cuisine suited to their digestive systems. The flowers, however, will be a challenge due to the climate where the ceremonies will take place.” “What about silk flowers?”, Pat suggests, “I plan to have some flowers in my hair that could substitute for the hand-carried bouquet. Those bridal flowers will be used to toss at the reception.” Spock quirks an eyebrow as Pat continues. “Another ancient tradition of my ancestors. At the wedding reception, the bride tosses her bouquet over her shoulder while her back is turned to her audience. Your Mom might have done that at her wedding, if there is a holo-record of it. Anyway, as tradition goes, whoever catches the bouquet is considered the next to be married in the future. Which reminds me, I need to get a blue garter to wear. The groom tosses that after he removes it from my leg.” She notices, with amusement, that Spock’s other eyebrow goes up. “I know! I know!”, she giggles, “It’s a risque’ custom among humans. I’m not sure how to explain it. I just remembered an ancient verse that coincided with the ancient Terran wedding ceremonies: ‘Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue! The blue will be the garter. May I borrow your mother’s wedding veil to adapt to my bonding outfit?” Spock nods at that request. “That is agreeable. May I suggest you place that old coin, from Thanksgiving, in your shoe for the ‘something old’? What do you plan to use to fulfill the item of ‘something new’?” Pat shrugs. “That I’m not sure. I have to talk that over with Sam and see what ideas we can brainstorm.” “That is agreeable, Patricia-Kam. It appears that the planning is complete. Now we must assemble all of the material components such as your dress, shoes, helmet, and armor. The prototype is ready. Would you like to see it?” Pat nods eagerly. “Definitely!”

The prototypes appear onscreen and Pat gasps. “They turned out better than I hoped! I can’t wait to try them on and start the fittings! How soon can they be delivered? Can a dressmaker accompany the prototypes, plus the veil, and assist me?” “That will not be a problem, Patricia-Kam.”, Spock replies, “I recall that your Intended should not be permitted to see this attire until the day of the ceremonies.” Pat nods. “That’s correct. I wonder if Gramps can assist me with that?” “That, also, should not be a problem. I expect that Leonard will be more than happy to assist his Great-granddaughter with the preparations.” “Thanks, Uncle, I love you! I better get going as I still have many errands to take care of.” Spock’s eyes are twinkling. “I share that sentiment, Patricia-kam. I am looking forward to seeing you again on Vulcan.” His image fades from the screen and Pat immediately contacts her Great-grandfather. Leonard appears onscreen. “Hey, Gramps! Can I come over and discuss ceremony plans?” “Of course!”, the old man grins, “I’m happy to see my favorite Great-granddaughter anytime! I’ll have some tea ready for you when you get here! McCoy out!” McCoy’s image fades from the screen and Pat heads over to her Great-grandfather’s San Francisco residence. She smells herbal tea as soon as she enters the home and is delighted to see he has her favorite tea that blossoms like a flower. She walks up to him, in the kitchen, and hugs him. “Love you, Gramps!”, as she kisses him on the cheek. McCoy returns the hug and kiss. “Anything for my favorite Great-granddaughter! How are the arrangements coming along?” “So far, so good.”, she replies. “I’m going to need your assistance, Gramps.” “In what way, Baby Girl?”, the old doctor asks. “Well, you know it’s tradition that the groom is not allowed to see the bridal gown before the wedding.” “That is correct!”, the old man nods. “Because of that”, Pat continues, “in order to be able to do the fittings with the dressmaker, I’m going to need to take care of that … at your place … so Sam won’t get a sneak peek!” McCoy is puzzled at this. “Couldn’t the bridal shop take care of that?” Pat shakes her head. “I’m not getting my Bonding dress from a bridal shop. They really didn’t have anything that was really … ummmm … suitable for my age, for my size, for a Vulcan ceremony … or for what I have in mind. Uncle Spock has arranged for a dressmaker to bring my designed prototypes here, for a fitting.” McCoy leans towards her. “Let me get this straight. Your Bonding attire is being custom made?”

“Yes.”, Pat nods. “And who designed it?”, he asks. Pat grins. “Me. You know my many talents, Gramps!” “I guess I’ll have to wait and see if it meets my approval.”, he growls. “Gramps”, she retorts with slight annoyance, “You’re not wearing it! I am! And it’s special to me! Since I’m old enough to have gray hair, I have a LOT of say regarding what I wear to my own Betrothal and Wedding ceremonies! Trust me, it is NOT designed for a Betazoid wedding! I have too many wrinkles, sags, and bags to show a lot of skin!” Leonard smiles. “Okay! Okay! Given that you’re old enough to get engaged and get married … and I approve of your young man, by the way, you have a right to make the ceremonies meaningful to both of you.” “Thanks, Gramps! So you won’t mind if I borrow your place to have the fittings done here?” “Not at all.”, McCoy replies with a smile. “Where will the dressmaker be staying in between fittings?” Pat gives him a blank look. “I’m not sure yet. Once she arrives, we can discuss that.” “Just be aware that I don’t want a whole lot of problems underfoot.”, the old man comments. “I’ll keep that in mind.”, Pat agrees.

Within a few days, the Vulcan dressmaker arrives and Pat escorts her to Leonard’s San Francisco residence. He decides to give them the guest room to work in, and for the dressmaker to stay in, for as long as necessary. They proceed to get to work, trying on the shoes, and various pieces of the dress … adjusting the bodice as well as adjusting the skirt so that it drapes appropriately. Then the armor is laid over the outfit and its fit is adjusted so that Pat can move easily should a challenge be issued and a battle ensues. Finally, the entire Bonding outfit is assembled and Pat looks at herself in the full-length mirror. The Warrior Queen that stares regally back at her takes her breath away! Pat breathes in and whispers, “Wow!” “You approve?”, the dressmaker asks. Pat nods. “Oh, yes! Very much so! Your talents deserve much praise!” “You provided the design.”, the dressmaker replies, “I only assembled it.” “Still, without your assistance,”, Pat tells her, “I wouldn’t know what to do. Tell me, do you know how my hair can be styled appropriately for both ceremonies? I didn’t think of it until now and … given that I may need to use the helmet in battle, I will need some assistance in switching the bridal flowers in my hair for the helmet. Can you advise me on that?” “My sister is a hairdresser who is experienced with Koon-ut-La and Koon-ut-Kalifee ceremonies.”, the dressmaker responds, “We may consult with her.” Pat obtains permission from her Great-grandfather to use his comm-link to contact the Dressmaker’s sister on Vulcan. They show her the helmet and the Hairdresser suggests arranging the hair and flowers separately so that the helmet and flowers are interchangeable should a battle erupt. The Hairdresser agrees to assist on the ceremonial day.

The days fly by, the invitations have been sent out, the RSVPs received, Sam completes his classes and both of them realize that it is time to arrange transportation back to Vulcan. The ceremonial rings have been picked up from the jewelry shop and both Pat and Sam note, with satisfaction that the inscriptions inside both rings are perfect. Leonard has contacted the Captain of the Enterprise, as well as his former crew-mates, regarding the return trip to Vulcan. He has also ensured that the Bonding outfit has been safely packed so that Sam would not see it before the ceremonies. Spock has confirmed that all the necessary arrangements, on Vulcan, are in place. The only thing that is left is the arrival of the Intended. “Sam, I’m nervous!”, Pat tells him, “I know it’s illogical but … I’m still nervous!” Sam hesitates. “I’m uncertain what the appropriate response should be.” “Think about it, Sam.”, she continues, “After all these years of being alone, separately, we are faced with not just one but TWO ceremonies, where anything unexpected, including a battle, could occur. After that, once the ceremonies are over, we will be together day and night for the rest of our lives. That’s a HUGE change, to say the least! Wouldn’t that make you … apprehensive?” Sam kisses her. “After facing death, at the hands of your late brother, living the rest of my life … with you … makes me … exhilarated.” “Being with you”, Pat replies, “makes me feel …whole … if that makes any sense.” Sam nods. “It is logical. When I am with you, I feel complete.” They embrace and Pat murmurs into his ear, bringing a smile to Sam’s face. “Come, K’Diwa.”, he says to her, “It is time to go aboard the Enterprise and face our future … together!” They contact Leonard, who has already boarded the Enterprise with his luggage and Pat’s Bonding regalia. Sulu, and other former crew-mates, have joined him. Pat and Sam arrive at the transporter site and prepare to beam up to the ship. Nog is there to see them off. “All ready for your Big Day?”, Nog grins. “As ready as we ever will be!”, Pat replies nervously. “How’s everything going with Jake and Karenna’s wedding preparations?” “Still going slow …”, Nog says with a good natured shrug, “and I’m still learning what I need to do as Best Man! Thanks for helping, Doctor Pat!” “Glad to help out!”, Pat smiles. “The Enterprise is waiting so we need to get going! We’ll see you on Vulcan!” “I’m looking forward to that! See you there!” Nog grins as he waves goodbye. The transporter effect takes hold of Pat and Sam and they vanish.

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