Sarek and Amanda lay in the afterglow of their lovemaking. It was her first night home from the hospital after she had acquired an infection that just about killed her. Sareks mind harkened back to that day
He and his wife were at an outdoor reception on Tarbal Prime, enjoying the warm breeze and the sunny, orange skies. Sarek had just closed a trade deal with the Tarbalans which would improve Vulcan water purification immensely.
Tarbal Prime was a desert world as well, and their knowledge of fluvial conservation surpassed even Vulcans. He was finally relaxing after many hours of negotiations and receptions that were negotiations thinly disguised.
He nibbled at some brightly colored pastry laid out on a table, its tablecloth fluttering in the breeze. Beside him, he heard his wife yelp softly. He turned to Amanda and saw her swatting at some sort of insect, then inspecting her hand. "What is it, my wife?" he asked.
"Oh, nothing, Sarek. I was just bitten by a bug. Ill be fine." Amanda smiled her assurance.
He saw that her hand was slightly reddened where the bite had occurred, but he also saw that she could move it and all her fingers without any apparent discomfort. He continued to keep an eye on her, but as the reception progressed, and Amanda seemed in good health, he forgot about the incident.
Sarek and Amanda returned to the hotel they were staying at several hours later. As they were getting ready for bed, Sarek noticed that her hand was quite inflamed and starting to swell. "My wife, is your hand causing you pain?" he asked, concern showing in his gaze.
"Its a little sore now, Sarek. But Im sure Ill be fine. Ill soak it tonight though, just to be sure." She turned to run hot water in the sink.
Sarek gently took her wounded hand in his strong ones and examined the bite more closely, looking for any stinger or anything else embedded in her skin. He turned her hand slightly to allow the light of the bathroom to shine directly on the reddened area. He could see nothing out of the ordinary, save for a little chunk of missing flesh. He concluded that the insect had removed this piece and possibly introduced a toxin from its saliva. "Soaking it is a sound plan, Amanda," he concluded. "I shall stay and keep you company, so you are not tempted to shorten your treatment." He leaned against the counter, folding his arms across his chest as Amanda placed her hand in the steaming water.
She soaked it for twenty minutes, and said the treatment was over as her fingers were getting wrinkled. Sarek raised an eyebrow at her declaration, but allowed her to dry off her hand. They both headed for bed, knowing that a long day was finally over.
During the night, Sarek was awakened by a restless bed partner. Amanda was tossing and turning in her sleep, moaning slightly at times. Sarek put his hand on her shoulder and felt heat radiating from her body. Concerned, he turned on the light sitting on his bedside table. Amanda was sweating, her hair was plastered against her forehead. He shook her gently, waking her up. "What is wrong Amanda?" he asked.
She woke up groggily, staring at her husband. "Whyd you wake me up, Sarek? Whats the matter with you?"
"Amanda, clearly you are not well. You are perspiring greatly and your sleep is quite restless, even for you." His concern was plainly visible on his face and he shared his feelings across the bond. "Let me see your hand," he ordered. Her hand was swollen to twice its size, red, and very hot. "This is not normal. I am going to contact the hotel doctor and ask him or her to see you immediately." Amanda opened her mouth to protest, but Sarek raised his hand. "No, I insist on this." He got up from bed and placed a call to the front desk, asking the doctor to come to his room.
As he waited for the medic, he went to his suitcase and brought out a general use medical tricorder. He ran it over his wife, frowning at the results he was getting. Her body temperature was elevated substantially, and her white blood count was equally elevated. He knew that meant she had an infection of some kind, and looked at the tricorder for treatment options, which was to bring down the patients temperature.
Sarek went to the bathroom and gathered all the towels and facecloths he could find. He soaked them in cold water and went back to the bedroom. Removing the covers from the bed, he started wetting Amandas naked body with the cold cloths, starting with her face and working his way down.
"Sarek, what are you doing? Im freezing!" she exclaimed, pushing his hands and the cold towels away.
"You have a fever, Amanda. I am attempting to lower it. Allow me to continue, my wife. You will thank me for this, even though it is uncomfortable for you now." He bathed her face and neck again, then reached for a soaked facecloth. He put that over her forehead and continued to rub her down with the towel.
The door chimed, and he covered her up with a sheet and went to answer it. The doctor stood there, her bright blue hair a stark contrast with her pink skin. She had a medical bag slung over her shoulder. "I am Delmain, the hotels physician. Are you Ambassador Sarek?" she asked.
"I am. My wife is in the bedroom. She is feverish, but coherent." He followed the diminutive woman into the bedchamber where Amanda lay.
Delmain scanned Amanda with her tricorder, then sat on the edge of the bed. "How did you come to be in this condition?" she asked.
"I was bitten by an insect at a reception we attended this afternoon. I thought it was nothing, but it seems to have become infected," Amanda replied, a wan smile curling the corners of her mouth.
"I have a few questions to ask of you, if I may. First, what species are you, and second, can you describe the insect that bit you?"
Sarek noticed that Delmains manner was matter-of-fact, something that seemed universal to all doctors, he mused.
"Well, firstly, Im Terran. And the insect, well, I only got a brief look at it, but it was small and black with the most beautiful red wings Ive ever seen. Im afraid thats all I noticed about it."
"That will do. Ive never treated a Terran before so I am unsure of what medications to give you. I dont want to inadvertently poison you more than you are already. That particular insect, while common and only bothersome to Tarbalans, seems to be more serious to you. It injects a toxin into the victim. For us, it only causes some itching and maybe slight irritation. But to your physiology, it is more serious it seems."
Sarek nodded at her statement. It was as he thought. She was poisoned by a toxin. His conclusion was logical and correct. "What should we do in the meantime, Doctor?" Sarek asked.
"What you have already been doing. Try to keep the fever down, and I will research Human physiology to see if any medication we have will be suitable for her. I will come by tomorrow morning to check on her. Hopefully, my research will be fruitful by then." With that, she gathered her tricorder and left them.
Sarek looked at his wife and sat on the bed, bringing a wet towel with him. Amanda smiled at him, and he felt her reassurance over the bond. He took her swollen hand and kissed it gently on the back of it. All through the night, he bathed his wife in cold towels, stroking her skin gently but firmly. The only time he stopped was to re-wet the cloths.
When morning came, Amanda was worse. Her arm was now swollen, and she was lethargic and listless. The doctor returned, but her research didnt come up with any results. As the Tarbalans physiology was quite different from Human physiology, she dared not give any medication. "I am sorry," she said, her frustration showing on her tired face. "Were not members of the Federation, and frankly, we are far from Federation shipping lanes. We just dont have any experience in treating Humans."
"Our transportation is arriving this afternoon. They have a sickbay on board, and we can get treatment there. I appreciate your efforts on my wifes behalf," Sarek said. He only hoped Amanda could hold on until the Intrepid arrived. A small stab of fear clutched his heart as he showed the doctor out.
He returned to the bedroom and took Amandas uninjured hand in his. "Hold on, Amanda. Just hold on," he whispered to her.
Sarek divided his time between bathing his wife and packing their belongings and checking out of the hotel via computer.
The Intrepid arrived in early afternoon. Sarek contacted the ship and asked to speak to the chief medical officer. Sarek looked at the stocky Human man and explained about Amandas illness. "She is unable to walk to the transporter pad here at the hotel. It would please me if you could beam her directly to Sickbay."
"Certainly, Ambassador. Give us a minute to ascertain your coordinates, and well beam her directly here. Did you wish to accompany her, sir?"
"Yes, I would. I will be standing beside the bed."
Sarek felt the familiar tingle of the transporter effect forty-nine seconds later. He was pleased at the crews efficiency. He blinked as he looked around him and saw that he was standing in the middle of Sickbay. Looking to his left, he could see that Amanda had been transported directly to a bio-bed, and the staff was already taking her vital signs. He immediately felt better, knowing she was in excellent hands until they reached Vulcan.
He stood beside Amandas bed, making an effort to stay out of the staffs way. He did not want to do anything to cause them to ask him to leave.
The medics bustled around his pale, drawn wife, taking blood and tissue samples, waving tricorders and other instruments over her, and hooking her up to biolines that were carrying antibiotics that she so desperately needed. Sarek watched this happening, satisfied to hear the low booming of the heart monitor. Hold on, Amanda. Hold on until we get to Vulcan, his thoughts implored.
A Human male came to Sareks side, and Sarek recognized him as the doctor he talked to from the hotel. "Hello Ambassador. My name is Doctor Phillip Nader, and we talked already."
"Greetings, Doctor Nader," Sarek said, distracted slightly by the activity going on around his wife.
Nader asked him questions about Amandas condition and the insect she saw. Sarek reached into his deep pocket and surrendered his tricorder. In it was a complete log of all the recordings he had made.
"Thanks. This will make our job much easier. Well start working on an antidote as soon as I analyze this. Why dont you go to your quarters and settle in? Ill let you know if there are any developments." Naders voice was kind, but it was clear he wanted Sarek out of his Sickbay.
"Certainly, Doctor. However, I do wish to reserve the right to visit my wife at any time, if that is acceptable."
"Sure. Just call first. Ill get someone to show you to your quarters."
A young woman in Science blue was called over to escort Sarek to his quarters. As he left Sickbay, he stole another look at Amanda, and suppressed a sigh of concern and frustration. Squaring his shoulders, he allowed himself to be led out the door.
The journey to Vulcan seemed to take forever for Sarek, although he knew it only took two point six days. He spent all of his spare time in Sickbay, sitting beside Amandas bed, holding her hand and stroking it with his paired fingers. He brought a small tricorder and quietly dictated his report to the Vulcan Council as he held her hand. He only left her side to eat, and that was infrequent. He did not sleep once.
Amandas condition wavered, then plunged. By the time they got to Vulcan, she was critical. Doctor Nader arranged for her to be admitted to the Vulcan Medical Academy Hospital immediately upon their arrival. Amandas physician, TVel, was informed, and she made sure a critical care bed was available for her.
When she arrived, Amandas arm was almost three times its normal size. Cellulitis had set in, and this was causing her coma. Her entire system was poisoned by this one, noxious bite. TVel put Amanda in a stasis unit, allowing it to completely overtake her autonomic nervous system. It would breathe for her, and make sure her heartbeat was maintained. Sarek remained by her side as all this was transpiring, fearing for Amandas survival. He did not want to go home, could not go home until he received some news from TVel and the other healers. He had to know if Amanda would survive.
Once she was safely in the stasis chamber, Sarek pulled up a chair and sat beside her, unable to touch her through the field.
TVel received all the information from Nader. "Sarek, I and others will now continue the work Healer Nader started regarding the possibility of synthesizing an antidote for this particular toxin. In the meantime, we will continue her course of antibiotics started on the starship."
Amanda was in stasis for over two weeks. Sarek would drag himself away from her bedside to present his report to Vulcan Council, or to clear up some paper work that had piled high in his absence. But as soon as he was finished, he would immediately return to the Vulcan Medical Academy and take his place beside the woman he loved. Night after night, he was found in the chair by her stasis tank, staring at her still form. The staff at the Vulcan Medical Academy became used to his illogical behavior and accepted it. Sarek would gaze at his wife lying in the stasis field, as if willing her to open her eyes.
After the tenth night, TVel entered Amandas room and Sarek stood, greeting her.
"I have news, Sarek. We have finally synthesized an antitoxin we believe may be successful. I am here now to administer the first dose."
Sarek stepped aside, giving TVel access to Amandas bioline. He watched Amandas face carefully as the healer injected the antitoxin. He could see no change, and knew it would have been illogical for him to have even thought that he would.
"This may take several days, Sarek," she cautioned. "Do not illogically think the treatment will take only hours. Your bondmate is very ill, and her recuperation will take weeks. However, I will say that you and she should have many more years together."
Sareks heart leaped in his side at her last sentence. Amanda would live! She will be cured! He had thought of life without his beloved, and it pained him, more than he would ever admit. But now, she was going to be fine. He didnt care how long it would take, just the knowledge that she would be fine was enough for him. "Thank you, Healer. Your words mean a great deal to me."
Two weeks later, he brought his wife home from the hospital. He was 117 years old, and she was almost 73, but to him, she had aged most gracefully and still looked beautiful. Her hair was still silver colored, but her skin was still tight over her facial bones, and glowing with happiness.
He turned to lie on his side, facing his beloved wife. "How are you feeling, my wife? Did our recent activities tax you too much?"
Amanda had her eyes closed. She opened them and smiled at her husband. "No, beloved. In fact, I havent felt this rested in years." Her eyes twinkled as she regarded him.
He took her hand and caressed the back of it with his thumb. "I remember the first time I met you, Amanda. It was that same twinkle in your eye that caught mine. Do you remember?"2229 Sarek had been appointed Vulcans Ambassador to Earth and the Federation five short years ago. Previously, he had served his government for over twenty years as a technical attaché, and later a cultural attaché on Betazed and Rigel IV. He was content with his position and had learned a great deal in his years in the Vulcan Diplomatic Corps. But his duties as Ambassador were staggering in scope. His was the Voice of Vulcan to the Federation Council. He also represented his government to the people of Earth as well. He found Terra, or Earth as they called it, cold, and damp. He had found places that were more like Vulcan, but the Embassy he served in was in San Francisco. There, he had to take medication to convince his body not to retain the fluids that he absorbed from the atmosphere. He did not like taking the pills, but after two days of avoiding them, he realized their importance. He never missed a dose after that experience. He found Terrans, or Humans as they called themselves, a fascinating species. They were brash, loud, and wore their emotions very close to the surface. When he first arrived, he spent many hours in meditation, shoring up his mental shields against the constant bombardment of emotions these beings were broadcasting. He found it very taxing at first, but he became accustomed to the level of shielding necessary to function in this environment. He did find that Humans had a joy of life that was hard to miss, illogical though it was. His staff was mostly Vulcan, although there were some Humans as well. It surprised him that visitors to the Embassy wanted to see Vulcans present, but preferred to talk to Humans, so Sarek made sure there was a Human and Vulcan present in the reception area. Logically, this would satisfy both needs, he decided. When he first arrived, he was shown around by the previous ambassador, the aging Sasev. He was introduced to many staff members, both Human and Vulcan. He noticed a Human woman that was in the linguistics department. He found her blond hair striking, being only used to the dark hair of Vulcans. He had other blond-haired Humans on staff, but none as blond as this ones. He was unable to remember her name, though. No matter, he thought. It is of little importance. If I encounter her again, I will ask her name at that time. As he was walking down the corridor toward his office, he saw that same Human walking toward him. Her long blond hair fell in waves down her slender back to rest on rounded hips. He thought her features were aesthetically pleasing, but he did not speak to her as he had no logical reason to. Another Human approached the blond female and stopped to talk to her. As Sarek passed them, her laughter rang out. The sound startled him, and he turned to look at her, intent on reminding her about proper decorum in the hallways of the Embassy and around Vulcans in particular. As he faced her, she looked into his eyes. His lecture stuck in his throat. Her eyes were the most stunning feature of her already pleasing face. They were a sapphire-blue, and twinkled as she looked at him. She bowed her head at him in respect and continued walking down the hall. Sarek followed her with his eyes, then turned back to continue to his office. When he arrived, he pulled up a list of employees in the linguistics department. He hoped that he would remember her name if he saw it. One name, Amanda Grayson, seemed to tug at his memory. He sat down and studied her file. It contained a picture of the woman he saw in the hall. He noted that her file was impressive, and that she had accomplished many things in her short life. He sat back in his chair and steepled his fingers in front of him and wondered if there were some logical reason he could find to meet her. No logical reason was forthcoming. ***** Several weeks later, he met Ms. Grayson in the hallway again. Amanda turned and smiled hello to Sarek. He nodded to her in acknowledgment of her greeting, his eyes following her as she passed him. He noticed Stavel walking down the hall towards him, then saw that Amanda was still looking at him. He knew they were going to collide, and he was about to call out to let Amanda know Stavel was there, but it was too late. Sareks eyebrow raised at the yelp that came from Amanda as she crashed into his aide, but Stavel was quick and caught her before she fell. As her blue eyes turned back to Sarek, he saw her face blush. The color intrigued him as he watched the scene unfold. He heard her mumbled apology to Stavel and his acceptance of it, and waited for Stavel to catch up with him as he continued to his office. "I am curious as to that womans actual duties here at the Embassy," Sarek said. "I reviewed her file and it mentioned that she was to teach some classes in English. I was unaware that our staff did not speak English, Stavel. Please enlighten me." "Actually, Ambassador, she is to teach our staff idiomatic English. It was believed that we could only benefit from such classes," Stavel replied.
"Logical," Sarek said as he raised an eyebrow and wondered if his English could do with some refreshing. The two Vulcans continued to Sareks office without further delay, but Sareks mind was more on language lessons, than trade agreements. When they got to Sareks office, he dismissed Stavel and waited for him to leave. He decided that he would personally ask Amanda for language lessons. With his mind made up, he left his office to seek her out. Arriving at her office, he knocked softly at the door. "Come," she answered. The Vulcan Ambassador entered the room and gazed at her. "I understand you are to teach my staff idiomatic English. Is this true?" "Yes, sir. I was contracted for one solar year," she explained. "I would like to take those classes as well. I would like to improve my English." She cleared her throat softly and indicated he sit down on the chair. "We have three levels, Ambassador." He approached her desk and sat before her, his robes swirling around him as he did. She paused, "I think we should start you at the basic level. We can move on from there as you progress". "That would be acceptable." He glanced down at his hands, which were folded in his lap. "What would you have me do to prepare for my lessons?" he asked, looking in her blue eyes again. She delayed in answering him. He thought perhaps she didnt hear him, so he leaned closer to her. "Well?" As he leaned forward, he could smell her perfume. It was understated and not offensive, just like the wearer. "Hmm... lets see. I can put you in a class with Stavel, Sorael and TKira, or you can have individual lessons. The choice is yours." He looked deep into her ice-blue eyes. "Logic dictates that my authority could be compromised if I proved to be less adept than my subordinates. I would prefer individual lessons," he said softly. He wondered at the fates that allowed his wish of getting to know this intriguing woman. But then, he reasoned, he was there for a logical purpose. But did logic completely rule his actions in this instance? He wasnt sure. Amanda shivered. "I agree completely. Seeing as youre the ambassador, you wouldnt want to look... unprepared in front of your staff, would you?" Sarek wasnt sure how taking lessons would make him look unprepared, but he bowed to her reasons. He did want the private lessons with her, so whatever the reason was fine with him. Sarek straightened in his chair. "When do we start?" She paused for breath as she glanced at her calendar. "How about tomorrow at fourteen hundred hours?" "That will be difficult. I am meeting with the Andorian ambassador then. Would it be possible for you to have lunch with me? You could conduct your lesson then." Amanda shrugged. "Okay, let me see," she said as she accessed the compuclipboard containing her appointments. "Yes, that would be good." "Then it is settled. We will dine together." He stood up to leave. "Will it offend you if I eat meat though?" she asked. "No, it will not offend me, although I would rather you did not." He paused, thinking. "I do not believe we serve meat here in the Embassy cafeteria." Sarek felt a little queasy about the prospect of sitting across from someone that would be eating the flesh of a dead animal, even having been on Earth for five years. But he had seen it many times before. "Oh! Well then Ill teach you after I have my lunch," she stated firmly. "Oh?" Sarek raised his eyebrow. He was fascinated by her strong will. "May I ask why?" "I am Human, sir. My diet needs meat. And I love it." He had never been spoken to like that other than from his parents. He was intrigued. "Very well, you may eat what you wish. I require the lessons, and you are our only instructor. Shall we dine at midday?" He looked out of the corner of his eye at her. "Is that acceptable?" "No! I have another appointment at that time. Thirteen hundred hours is better. But we will have to be finished by fourteen hundred." The corner of his mouth turned up ever so slightly. "Thirteen hundred hours will be fine." He stood up and swept out of her office, bemused. As Sarek strode down the hall, he thought that she had a lot to learn about Vulcan societal etiquette. But he realized that he would be more than willing to teach her. ***** The next afternoon, Sarek and Amanda ate in the Ambassadors private dining area adjacent to his office. It was a well-appointed room, without the unnecessary affluence of the wealthy. In fact, it was almost spartan. The food was excellent. Sarek had a salad and plomeek soup, while Amanda arranged for veal scallopini, antipasto, Italian salad and bread to be delivered to the Embassy. Wine was also served and they talked about the different cultures and languages of Earth during the meal. Amanda told Sarek how the English language evolved over the years into a standard language for Earth. It was even referred to as "Standard" by some. He was impressed by her knowledge and found himself fascinated by her dissertation. Sarek started his lessons immediately after lunch and found she was a most satisfactory instructor. She was hard on him when necessary, but encouraging as well. He found her...refreshing. She relished in her Humanity and didnt change her behavior around him to "become Vulcan" as some Humans did in a foolish effort to become less offensive. Their lessons went on for two months, and Sarek knew he wanted to see her outside of those structured times. He marshaled his resolve and asked her out for dinner. She was startled, he thought, but she accepted his invitation. The night of the dinner, Sarek wore his most impressive looking robe. It was dark brown, almost black, with his familys glyphs in gold running down the right side of the heavy tunic. The sleeves were long and wide, but not wide enough to become cumbersome. He knew the night air was cold, so he wore a matching cloak to ward off the chill. He asked Amanda to return to the Embassy, explaining that his driver would take them to the restaurant. As he watched her approach him, his breath caught in his throat. She wore a blue silk mandarin-style dress that matched her eyes perfectly and hugged her form. Her hair gleamed in the light from the hall and fell in waves down her back. He had only seen her in her work clothes, which were functional. Now, she was positively beautiful. He offered his hand to assist her into the groundcar. Her skin was cool to him, but soft. They got in the groundcar and left for the restaurant. He planned to take her to the finest restaurant in San Francisco, one that served both exquisite vegetarian as well as meat dishes. When they arrived, they were shown to his favorite table. Shortly after they were seated, the reporters and vidarazzi interrupted their meal, wondering who the lady at his table was. He had a little experience with them and found them boorish at best. Even so, he was appalled at the behavior of the Terran press. They made it impossible for them to eat their dinner. Sarek endured their questions for a brief time, and then he called for the cheque and escorted Amanda firmly out of the restaurant. "I am truly sorry. We will have to finish our meal at the Embassy where we have proper decorum." He escorted her into the car, and they were whisked away. "I dont want to go back to the Embassy, if you dont mind," she said once she was in the car. "Where would you rather go? I will take you anywhere in order to make amends for this evening." Sarek was disturbed by the disastrous way this outing was going. He knew he was making a terrible impression. "Walk with me along the beach?" "Now? But its dark out there, and cold." He saw her slightly pleading look and said, "As you wish. Driver," he called, "take us to the beach...uh," he looked at her with a hint of confusion on his calm features, "which one, Amanda?" "The nearest one is about a mile and a half...uh, around two or two and a half kilometers from here. Head towards Starfleet Headquarters, and follow the road to the left. Youll come to my favorite stop. Its also where I live." She turned to look at him, her eyes twinkling. "Driver, did you hear that? Please take us there." Sarek turned to her and asked, "Are you sure you do not mind me coming over to your dwelling? I have not even fed you yet." "Ill send out for food. Its not a problem. Relax," she assured him. Sarek settled back in his seat, thinking. What must she think of me? I am unable even take her out for a nice dinner. He was reminded of what his mother said when he was first assigned to Earth. It is logical to acknowledge an invitation to someones dwelling by bring an food item or beverage, my son. "Do you wish me to pick up some wine along the way?" "No, Ive got a few bottles at home!" she smiled secretly. Sarek raised an eyebrow at her. "Then that would be acceptable." Sarek looked out the darkened windows and noticed that the driver was slowing down already. "Is this where you live?" "Yes. This is home for the time being. I just moved to San Francisco, and Im looking for a place closer to downtown. But the prices! Way too rich for my blood!" Sarek wondered how her blood factored into the price of a dwelling, but he didnt ask as the driver stopped the car and opened Sareks door. Sarek rounded the car to open Amandas door himself. "That will be all for now. If I require your services again, I shall call the Embassy." Sarek walked slightly behind her, his hands clasped behind his back as they made their way to her apartment. She opened the front door, walked down the small hallway and entered the living room. She dialed up the heating slightly, to aid his comfort. Taking a deep breath, she turned to him, "Ah... Sarek, I need to set a few ground rules." He looked at her calmly. "Yes? What rules would these be?" He remembered her fondness for eating flesh and sought to assuage her concerns about that. "I understand that you would have meat in your own house. Ive already informed you that it does not offend me. Was there something else?" "Er... yes... I dont know how to say this... but Im going to try anyway. Im not in the habit of inviting just anyone back to my home. Your comment to the driver kind of surprised me." He raised an eyebrow at her comment. "How so?" Her words totally confused him. He could not fathom what she was talking about. "I was simply letting him know that I would be here for a while. I see no logic in spending hours outside a dwelling sitting in a groundcar. I was thinking of his comfort as well as your privacy. If the car were to be spotted by the media outside your door, they would logically assume I was here. I feel confident in saying that the press would not respect your privacy, Amanda," Sarek explained. "No, Sarek, you said and I quote... You may go back to the embassy... I will call you if I require you again tonight. It made it sound like you were planning on spending the night here, and that made me feel kind of uncomfortable." "Actually I was considering using the Embassy transporter to return. I can understand why you would presume I was being presumptuous. That an unfortunate choice of words on my part. I meant no offense. I shall leave now. Please have a pleasant night." Sarek started toward the door, his humiliation complete. He wondered if she would ever see him again; would she even continue his language lessons after this evening? He knew he didnt understand Human dating practices, but even he could tell that he had made far too many serious errors tonight. He almost sighed as he reached out for the handle and opened the door, but suppressed it. Amanda sighed. "Hang on," she called after him. "Yes?" He turned to face her. He sensed by the flash in her eyes that she was clearly torn between a decision of some sort. "I know Ive messed this up, but you can see how I came to the conclusion I did, right? No doubt we will... I will laugh about this later...but I want to at least feed you. Why dont you stick around, okay?" "If you insist," he ventured. He turned back and shut the door. "You wanted to walk along the beach. Do you still wish to engage in this activity?" "Oh for Petes sake, Sarek!" she exclaimed. "Is that a yes?" Amanda let her temper loose. "Stop it! Just stop it! I insult you, and you dont even give a fig; you dont even fight back! Yes, I want to walk along the beach after we eat." Sarek stared at her in total incomprehension. "Were we fighting? And how does a Mediterranean fruit come into the conversation?" Amanda lost it then. Holding her sides, she started laughing. Tears were streaming down her face. Sarek wondered if he should summon a healer. He approached her, but was at a complete loss as to what to do for her. Still giggling, Amanda sat down on the sofa. Gasping, she told him to sit. "Oh, Sarek, you are truly amazing. Do you know that?" He didnt know how to answer that question. He knew he did not want to incur her wrath again. So far, she had yelled at him twice. He didnt wish a third time. "Non sequitur, Amanda. First, I was presumptuous, now I am amazing. You are confusing me again." "Okay, Im calm now. Lets start again shall we?" Amanda giggled again. "Sorry, Ill try to explain. Okay, oh hell... its kind of silly and embarrassing. When a male Human or other species takes a female out to dinner, they think they have earned some rights to use her." Sarek sat on the edge of the sofa seat. He hadnt even taken off his cloak yet. He waited for her to continue. "And especially when said female invites back said male to her home. I havent dated in a while so I forgot about this part." He stared at her. "My right to use her?" Then he started slightly and his ear-tips became suddenly green-tinged as he realized what she was referring to. "No! Im not lumping you in with them...but it was the comment. All I wanted to do was to invite you here for a meal and to talk. You know, get to know you a bit. Im really sorry for jumping to the wrong conclusion." "And I ask forgiveness for putting you in an awkward position. Shall we start again? Would you like to accompany me on the beach for a walk?" He looked at her with his black eyes, imploring her to walk with him. Here was a man used to dealing with governments on a daily basis, yet becoming flustered around this enchanting woman. "Yes, please, but first I would like to eat, as its been a while since I last did that." Sarek looked down, his ear-tips still green. "Yes, of course." He gazed back up to her face and asked, "May I please take off my cloak?" "Sure. Just hang it on that hook by the door. And, Sarek, is there anything wrong with your ears?" she teased. Her eyes sparkled as she looked at him with feigned innocence. He was humiliated by forgetting that she was hungry, and he had failed to feed her. He felt like an incompetent around her, and when she mentioned his ears, he used some simple biofeedback techniques to control the blood flow to them. "Nothing of importance, I assure you." "You sure?" "I am quite certain." He wanted to change the subject from his physiology and lack of control, so he asked, "What are we going to order in?" "Mmm... How about Chinese? They do some wonderful veggie dishes." "Chinese cuisine would be acceptable," he replied. Amanda laughed, then pressed the comm button for her local restaurant. She placed her order and put her thumb on the screen for payment. "How long will this take?" As Sarek had lived at the Embassy and his food had been prepared for him by the kitchen staff, he had never ordered any food in and was intrigued by the process. He rose and hung his cloak on a hook by the door. Trying to make small talk, he asked, "What did you wish to discuss while we are waiting?" "Oh, Im sure well think of something," she replied. Sarek was uncomfortable in her company. He was certain that she was upset with how this evening had gone thus far, and he wondered if she would continue his private language lessons after tonight. "Please make yourself at home; Im going to change into something more comfortable, especially if were going beach walking." She indicated a shelf by the door as she said, "The music disks are over there on the left on the shelf if you want to play anything. You can choose. I like pretty much anything. Before I go, can I get you a drink?" "Please." "What do you want?" she called from the kitchen. "Water will be sufficient." He wandered over to the disks and found quite an eclectic mixture. He selected a symphony by Beethoven and placed it in the player. He turned around in time for Amanda to hand him his water. "Thank you." Sarek took the proffered glass and took a sip. Amanda disappeared into her bedroom, pulling off the dress and pantyhose. She then pulled on a T-shirt, sweat pants and sweater. She walked back into the living room bare foot and carrying socks. Sarek saw a flash of red on Amandas feet and looked down. Amanda followed his gaze as he looked down at her bare toes. She wiggled them and asked, "Do you like the color?" "It is interesting," Sarek said, then took another sip of his water. Just then, the chime sounded. It was their food. Sarek realized that he was very hungry, too, and the food smelled wonderful. Amanda walked into the kitchenette grabbed two plates, cutlery and glasses. She set the table and motioned for him to sit. He entered the cozy kitchen and sat in the offered chair. He watched her as she pulled tin containers from a bag and opened them. Some she set before him, and others she put before where she was sitting. "Here, try these. You should like them." Sarek tentatively picked at the chow mein and found it very tasty. He watched Amanda eat, stealing glances over his fork. She pulled the cork from the wine bottle and poured a small amount into each glass. Sarek smelled the bouquet and found its aroma pleasing. He didnt know much about Terran wines, but he enjoyed her selection.
They talked amicably over their dinner and opened a second bottle of wine. After dinner, they felt stuffed. "I have never experienced Chinese cuisine in a foil container before," Sarek said. "Do you order in often?" Amanda sat back in her chair, swirling the wine around in her glass. "Yes, quite often. That way I dont have to cook. Sometimes Im too tired after work to prepare a large meal. And its only me here, so I find it very convenient to order in." Sarek watched her mouth move as she spoke. He wanted to touch her full, sensuous lips, to feel those lips on his skin, but knew he never would. He wondered what she would taste like, what she would feel like in his arms. Perhaps the wine is affecting me more than I thought, he mused, or perhaps I am in the early stages of pon farr? Amanda noticed his dark eyes staring at her. "Is there something wrong, Sarek?" she asked. He shook himself from his reverie and said, "No, not at all. Perhaps we should take that walk along the beach." Sarek was still dressed in his ambassadorial robes, with ankle boots. He thought about the breezes that kick off the ocean and realized he would be warm enough as he was, providing he put on his cloak again. He asked, "Are you ready?" "Sure!" Amanda jumped up from her chair and grabbed another bottle of wine. "We may need this to ward off the chill of the ocean air, dont you think?" "It may come in useful," Sarek admitted. He didnt want this evening to end, especially now that he realized that he had not made another serious mistake in over two hours. Maybe I can still get more language lessons after all, he thought. And maybe even another, what do the Humans call it, ah yes, another date with her. He walked to the door and removed his cloak from the hook. Putting it on, he noticed that Amanda also had a light jacket on as well. He opened the door for her, and they left. The moon was full and cast its light over the beach. The water sparkled as it moved back and forth on the sand. It was hard walking on the loose sand, but Sarek had done that many times as a child growing up in ShiKahr. Amanda commented that the breeze was still a warm one, but Sarek thought it was cold. He was still bundled in his cloak but after walking on the beach for half an hour on the loose sand, he undid the top clasp. As they walked, Amanda took off her shoes and waded in the shallow waters of the incoming tide. Sarek stayed on the beach. "Come on, take off your shoes and wade with me," she called. "What is the logic of getting sand all over your feet?" he shouted back. "Because its fun! Cmon, try it! You may even like it, God forbid." She was openly teasing him now. Sarek could feel the corners of his mouth pull up slightly, but knew she couldnt see his momentary lose of control in the dark. He started walking toward her, carefully keeping his boots as dry as he could. He felt more like Sarek than Ambassador Sarek, and he liked that. She left the water and moved to where he was walking, carrying the opened bottle of wine. "Here, have a drink." They had not brought any glasses with them, so Sarek took a swig from the bottle. If TPau could see me now! he thought. Surprisingly, the wine tasted even better from the bottle, out here in the night air. Amanda let Sarek hold the bottle and slipped her arm through his. They walked in silence for a while, each with their own thoughts. He looked down at her and saw how the moonlight bathed her delicate features. She only came up to his shoulder, and his eyes traveled over her small frame. Her hips swayed as she walked next to him, her arm swinging with her gait. She steered him closer to the waters edge as they walked and drank the wine. They talked about his childhood, her childhood and virtually every topic under the sun. She told him about her sister and her family, and he told her about his brother and his bondmate, and life on Vulcan. Just then, a huge wave came in and knocked them both down. Sareks clothing, made of heavy tugnot wool, filled with water, weighing him down. The strong undercurrent pulled Sarek back with it. Amanda screamed to him to stand up, that he would be all right. Sarek had never learned to swim, or even what to do around large bodies of water. He could feel himself being pulled under the churning surface of the water, his heavy cloak wrapping around him, hampering his movements. He struggled to the top and grabbed a quick breath before being pulled under again. Amanda rushed into the water, screaming his name. Finally, Sarek could feel the pull of the water lessen and he stood up. The water came to his neck, and it occurred to him that he could die. He tried to walk toward Amandas voice, but the cold of the water was seeping into his awareness, penetrating his clothing and chilling him thoroughly. He could hear Amanda screaming his name, and again he tried to walk toward the sound of her voice, but the heaviness of his clothing was taxing even his Vulcan strength. He was cold, oh so cold, and his legs felt numb. His clothes still tried to drag him down, but finally, his Vulcan strength and determination allowed him to move slowly toward her. When he was waist deep in water, she ran up to him and put her arm around him. She tried to half drag and half pull him to shore, but the weight of his water-logged clothes was too much for her. When they got to the beach, Sarek collapsed on the sand. He was shivering badly, and his teeth were chattering like a machine gun. Amanda pulled off her jacket and wrapped it around him. "Can you walk?" she asked. His breathing was rapid, and he was exhausted. "I should be able to in a minute." "Youre freezing, Sarek. You may not have a minute. Now, get up!" She tugged at his arm and help to pull him to his feet. She found the wine bottle and it still had some fluid in it. "Here, finish this. Itll keep you warm until we get home." It was fortunate that they had already started back, so it wasnt that far to go. After about ten minutes of walking, they reached her flat. Sareks clothes were dripping wet, and she knew he had to get out of them fast. "Strip!" she ordered. Sareks eyes widened at the command. "Here? In the living room?" "Yes, here. I dont want you to drip water all over the place. You get those wet clothes off, and Ill find you something warm to wrap yourself in." She left him there, dripping, as she went into the hall closet and pulled out two thick blankets for him. Sarek knew what she asked was logical. He wanted to get warm as soon as possible. He had never liked the cold, and he certainly was not pleased about being soaked either. He began to peel off his wet clothes leaving them in a heap on the floor by the door. Amanda returned with the blankets as he was removing the last layers of clothing. Sarek reached for one blanket to cover himself and dry himself off. After he finished drying, he took the second blanket and huddled into it for warmth. She scooped up his clothes and asked, "Can this stuff go in the dryer?" "I do not know," Sarek said. "Someone else handles the laundering of clothing." He was still shivering violently, huddling deeper into the soft blanket. "Maybe I should put them in the sonic shower to dry." She went down the hall to the bathroom. When she returned, she asked, "You need a hot drink to warm you up. Do you like coffee?" "I prefer tea if you have it." "Tea it is." As she was fixing his tea, he thought over the events of the evening. Between the two of them, this evening had been a total loss. She returned with the tea and said, "Perhaps you should call your driver now." Sarek looked at her, his hair still dripping wet. "May I have a towel first and finish my tea?" "Oh, of course. I meant when your clothes are dry." Sarek watched her as she rose to get him a towel. She appeared almost flustered as she did. He was certain she would never consent to another outing with him. Again he felt he would be lucky to be able to continue his private lessons with her. He suppressed a sigh as he hunkered into the blanket and waited for Amanda to return with a towel. He vowed to never let himself get into a situation like this again, although he was not sure how events progressed from one disaster to another. He decided to research the concept of dating more thoroughly before he tried it again. If he tried it again, that is, he thought. ***** After the driver from the Embassy arrived, bringing dry clothes with him as per Sareks instructions, Sarek went into the bathroom and quickly changed, putting his still-damp clothes in a bag to take back for laundering. He re-entered the living room and took his leave of Amanda. "Ill see you tomorrow for your lesson, Sarek. Have a good sleep," she said as he left her apartment. "I thank you for the dinner and walk. It was most interesting." He turned and followed his driver to the aircar, glad that she was still interested in teaching him, at least. That night, Sarek felt more chilled than was normal. He opened the closet and pulled out another blanket, placing it over top of the one already on his bed. As he crawled into bed again, a sneeze ripped through him, startling him with its suddenness. He got back out of bed and got some tissue from the bathroom, placing the box on the bedside table just in case. He would call the healer in the morning. Im fine now, he thought. I just need to get some sleep. ***** When Sarek awoke, he felt awful. His nose was plugged, and he could hardly breathe. He would sneeze and then would have to blow his nose repeatedly. This cycle repeated over and over again. His muscles ached, and he knew he had a fever. Finally, after several hours of this, he asked his aide, Stavel, to call the healer, TVala. She entered his bedroom and swept her medical tricorder over his sneezing form. "You have an upper respiratory infection, Ambassador. A cold," she said matter-of-factly. "A cold?" "It is a common Human disease," she replied. "Unlikely, Healer. As you know, Vulcans do not catch colds." "Vulcans also do not go for midnight swims, as you did, nor do they suffer from the deleterious effects of alcohol, Mister Ambassador, but the fact remains that you did." She kept him quarantined in his room for fear his illness would spread to the other Vulcans on staff. He was given antihistamines and diuretics to encourage his body to expel the fluids he was retaining. He decided that it would be logical to spend the time in bed, reading reports and catching up on his paperwork. He had to stop for naps as he became tired easily. Because of the medication he was taking, he made frequent trips to the bathroom, huddled in his thick overrobe. One minute, he was cold, the next, he felt he was walking across the Forge in his heaviest clothing. In a word, Sarek of Vulcan felt miserable. How did the Humans stand this, he wondered. They are stronger than I initially thought. He lay his compuclipboard aside and settled in for one of his numerous naps. He started up in bed minutes later. He had forgot to cancel his class with Amanda. But he still wanted to see her, providing she would consent to see him again. More than likely, she would never grace him with her presence after last night. And he couldnt say hed blame her. It was a total disaster, after all. He reached for the comm unit. A few minutes later, Amandas features filled the screen of the BellComm terminal. "God, you look awful!" she exclaimed. "Amanda, I regret that I will not be able to make it for my language lesson today." He broke off to sneeze. "However, it would please me to see you again, if that is acceptable to you. As you can see, Im rather ill from my...swim of last night." "Of course, Ill come and see you. Ill come after work today, okay?" "That would be acceptable. I will have Stavel escort you to my suite. Until then." Sarek signed off just as he sneezed again. He was glad she accepted his invitation. He thought about her many times during the day, when he wasnt sleeping. He decided that he especially liked her laugh. It brightened up any room she was in, he thought. ***** Sarek was propped in bed, a box of tissues beside him. His nose was slightly green from all the blowing he was forced to do. When he looked up as the door opened, his eyes softened when he saw who had entered. "Amanda, it is pleasing to see you again. I am gratified that you came. Please, pull up a chair." He waited until she had seated herself, then continued. "TVala will not allow me out of bed, at least for now. She is quite protective, for a healer. How was your day?" Suddenly, an explosive sneeze ripped through him, and he looked at her apologetically. Amanda laughed out loud for reasons Sarek could not ascertain. Stavel brought some tea, and Sarek and Amanda talked for a while before she left for home. She assured him that she would visit him the following afternoon. While she was visiting, TVala came to see her patient. She explained the seriousness of a cold to Amanda. She told Amanda that Vulcan physiology was very adept at retaining fluid. On a dry world like Vulcan, it was a vital survival trait. When they got a cold, which was extremely rare, the fluid overload caused by the release of histamines could affect the respiratory and even the circulatory systems and could prove to be fatal in some cases. Most times, Vulcans just got pulmonary edema, but that could range from mild cases to fatal ones. "In Sareks case," TVala said, "he inhaled some of the sea water. Because of the different salts in your oceans, this is causing an almost allergic reaction in his lung tissue. It is similar to a pneumonia, but much more severe. I am watching him very carefully, but the worst is not over yet." She turned her attention to Sarek. "Have you been coughing, Ambassador?" "Not to any great extent, Healer," he answered, then blew his nose. "Nevertheless, I will be monitoring your condition closely. I shall leave you now. Try to get some rest. I will return this evening, Ambassador." She put some more medication on the bedside table, then left the room. After bidding Amanda goodbye, Sarek tried to sleep. If anything, he felt worse than before, but eventually fell into a restless sleep. ***** The next afternoon, Sarek slept fitfully. He dreamed that he was back in the ocean. He could feel the wet and cold, but his cold concentrated under his arms and in his groin. He tried to swim to the surface, but he was being held down by some force he couldnt understand. He tried harder, but to no avail. He could see faces swimming above him; that of Amanda and TVala. He tried to call to them for assistance, but no sound came from his mouth. He was freezing cold, then roasting hot. This is not logical, he thought. What is happening? Finally, he willed his eyes opened. He looked around him and saw Amanda and TVala hovering over him. "I have been delirious," Sarek concluded. "Indeed," TVala responded. The Vulcan healer turned to Amanda, unhidden warmth in her eyes. "I thank you, Amanda Grayson. Your actions were exemplary. It would have been difficult to do this without you." TVala bowed to her, showing her respect for Amanda. Amanda blushed at her show of respect. "I did what was necessary, TVala. But I do appreciate you being here with me." "Water," Sarek croaked. Amanda almost laughed. "Here, weve been bathing you in cold water for hours, and now youre thirsty!" She handed him a glass, and he propped himself up on his elbow to drink it. He looked down at himself, and saw that he was naked. He then looked at Amanda. "How long have you been here, Amanda?" "The entire time, Sarek." "Oh." He lay back down. "I am finding it a bit chilly in here. Would it be possible to at least have a sheet to put over me, please?" TVala and Amanda looked at each other. Amanda smiled, and TVala raised an eyebrow at her gesture. "I think we can arrange that," Amanda said. She covered him up, then helped TVala clean up the room. "I have to get home now. Ill see you tomorrow. Until then, Sarek." She swept out of the room, leaving the two Vulcans staring after her.
"Yes, I remember those two nights well, Sarek." Amanda curled up next to her husband of fifty-three years. "That was the second time I saw you naked. I knew you wanted me that first night, but when I ended up nursing you, I realized that I wanted you, too." She stroked his chest, still muscular after all these years.
"I remember the first time I kissed you, my wife. I was not very good at it at all."
Amanda laughed. "No, you werent. You pressed your lips hard against mine as you had seen other Humans do. There was no softness there at all. You said you did it because I talked too much. But I taught you the proper way to kiss, and you were a quick study."
"You taught me many things. You were a patient teacher, and I was a willing student. Shall we relearn some lessons, my wife?" Sarek gathered her into his arms and bent his head to kiss her. She opened her lips and he slid his tongue into her warm mouth.
He broke off the kiss and rolled her onto her back. She reached into his hair and carded through it gently. It was grayer now, but still her husband looked quite distinguished. He gazed into her blue eyes, then kissed her gently on the tip of her nose. His love for her washed over the bond, surrounding them both in its warmth. After a bit, he lay down beside her and pulled her into his strong arms.
They fell into a deep sleep, both with slight smiles on their faces. They were looking forward to many more years together and more memories to share.
Free counters provided by Andale.
Return to the index of ORION ARCHIVES --
2285-2293 The Third Mission.
Return to the index of ORION ARCHIVES On-Line Fiction.
Click Here to Return to the Orion Press Website