A chance encounter on Deep Space Nine. I have traveled here to assist in mediating negotiations between Bajor and Cardassia that, if successful, will result in those worlds establishing full diplomatic relations. She is attending a medical conference.
It happens in a very mundane way. I’m waiting for a turbolift. The doors open to reveal her standing inside. My first inclination is to turn and walk the other way, but that would be neither dignified nor rational. I step inside and speak, my voice under tight control.
“I had not expected to see you here, T’Pring.”
The corner of her mouth quirks slightly, a familiar expression that I remember having seen many times on the face of my betrothed. A hundred years have passed since then, a fragmentary instant in the span of the universe. Even in her youth, that faint smile had been the only glimmer of emotion she’d allowed herself.
“That much is obvious.”
Her voice hasn’t changed. It still carries the echoes of the challenge she uttered to deny our joining, of the cold words of explanation she flung at me afterward. She is a great-grandmother now, the matriarch of a prosperous family. My parents went to their graves without grandchildren, my father’s ancient bloodline ended.
She might as well have castrated me in full view of all Vulcan. In some ways, that would have been easier to endure.
“I bear you no ill will.” My voice, despite my futile efforts to discipline it, has become as cold as hers once was. “To carry grudges is not logical.”
For the better part of a century, I had indeed been able to convince myself that she no longer troubled the equilibrium of my mind. In my meditations, I analyzed her actions and sought to understand her perspective. She had been given no choice in our bonding, had known no other way to free herself. Kirk had meant nothing to her, an off-world stranger invited to gawk at her forced marriage to a man she did not desire.
But when I picture Kirk lying pale and limp in my grasp, having nearly met his death at my hands, I am still unable to prevent myself from wishing that I had choked T’Pring instead.
“Very little of what has passed between us has been logical.”
There’s an unmistakable note of sympathy in her voice. Perhaps I was for some time a part of her meditations, as well.
I do not want her pity.
The doors open, and I step out of the turbolift, my posture straight and my face altogether without expression.
“Spock,” she says gently, “live long and prosper.”