A/N: I suck. I'm sorry. I just wanted you guys to know that. Stuff is going on with me right now, and life is going crazy. Also, I'm moving in a few days, so again, it may be a while before I can update again. I appreciate you guys staying with me. It means a lot.

Of course stuff is going to be taken out of canon. You'll see what I'm talking about when you get to, oh, the second paragraph.

I don't know if I ever mentioned this in the series before, but Kamea's last name is Ululani. It was her mother's last name.

Gol'nevsu: aide

Na'shaya: greeting

Chapter Thirteen: Under the Microscope

The girl had come in willingly, accompanied by the human lieutenant who had insisted that he be present for her examination. The girl attempted to convince him that it was not necessary that he observe, but in true human fashion, he refused to yield. The girl had reluctantly agreed that he could stay. She did ask that he close his eyes when she asked, so that he would not see anything inappropriate. It was refreshing to see that the girl, at least, had some sense of propriety.

Sarek watched the examination with great interest. He had been surprised and a little suspicious when V'Las had asked him to observe – Sarek was new to the High Command, a gol'nevsu. He had only been working at the High Command a week. Sarek suspected that V'Las had ulterior motives behind the invitation. He suspected the administrator wanted to ensure his silence.

He had been present when the crew of the Enterprise touched down outside the city. He had heard the claims leveled at Soval and V'Las by the young girl, and though he was reluctant to believe her, he could not help but wonder if what she claimed was the truth.

So he had done his research. He had looked as far back into the records as possible. He had dug up every bit of information that existed on Kamea Ululani. The only medical records were those of her birth; she had either never been sick or injured or her parents had been reluctant to take her to a hospital for fear their secret would be discovered. The girl was a certifiable genius – a whiz with machinery. Her acceptance into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology seemingly guaranteed her a fast track to Starfleet. But she had never been accepted. Sarek had managed to procure the evaluations, including the recommendation of the admissions board, and the only logical conclusion at which he could arrive was that someone had interfered.

Sarek raised his eyes to Kamea. She sat on the edge of a biobed, her expression deflated. She did everything the physicians asked of her, but she did so robotically, as though simply going through the motions. She sat patiently as they drew vial after vial of blood for analysis, as they took sample after sample of her hair, nails, and epithelials. They poked and prodded her, and all the while, she simply sat there, allowing it.

The young Vulcan raised his eyebrows, impressed.

Eventually, Sarek made his way over to the lieutenant, who was watching the entire process with a stony glare. Sarek could tell from the way his muscles twitched that he was clenching his jaw. He was intrigued by their whole relationship. In fact, the whole idea of human relationships fascinated him, and from what he could tell, the two of them were quite close. Perhaps even intimately involved; a logical conclusion, given the ferocity of the lieutenant's reaction to some of the questioning.

T'Mun did a majority of the "interview" – though interrogation was a more accurate term. The others no doubt believed that the girl would be more amenable to answering their questions if it was a woman doing the asking. Sarek could not tell if that was the case; he sensed that Kamea would have done anything they asked just to get out of this entire situation. However, some of the questions were extremely personal – about Kamea's previous sexual encounters. The lieutenant did not look pleased with her responses.

When it was time to do a gynecological exam, the girl looked at the lieutenant for the first time since being brought into the room. Her eyes were pleading, and she said only one word. "Malcolm."

The lieutenant obediently turned and faced the opposite direction. Sarek stood beside him, facing the wall as well.

"You are Lieutenant Reed, yes?" Sarek asked.

The lieutenant looked at him, his eyes confused. "Yes."

Had Sarek been human, he would have smiled. "My name is Sarek. I would shake your hand, but we do not do that."

The lieutenant grunted a laugh, but there was little mirth behind it.

Sarek gestured at Kamea with his head. "She is quite an enigma, your young lady."

The lieutenant shook his head. "She isn't exactly young. And she isn't my lady."

Sarek quirked an eyebrow. "I was mistaken, then."

There was a whimper behind them, and the lieutenant twitched visibly, seemingly fighting a battle with himself. It appeared as though he was trying very hard not to turn around to check on Kamea's welfare. Sarek's second eyebrow joined the first. "It is the examination," he said. "From what I understand, it is quite…uncomfortable."

The lieutenant rolled his eyes and crossed his arms. "Those chairs in your conference room are uncomfortable. I can't even begin to imagine what it's like to have an exam like the one you tossers are forcing Kamea to suffer through."

Sarek furrowed his brow in confusion. He prided himself on his grasp of English, but this word, "tosser", was one with which he was unfamiliar.

A small hand snaked between them and rested itself on the forearm of the lieutenant. Both men turned and came face-to-face with Kamea. She gave them a small smile. "Language, Malcolm," she said.

The lieutenant gave the girl the once over and then lay his hand on her shoulder. "Are you all right?"

She nodded. "Of course. Just a physical." She shifted. "Though that last part was a tad more invasive than I remembered. Phlox skipped that part."

"Are you free to go?"

She shook her head. "Of course not. You know Vulcans. They'll debate the results for weeks. I suggest you start learning Vulcan. We're going to be here a while."

The lieutenant sighed. "Are you hungry?"

The girl grinned. "I could eat." She glanced at Sarek, as though just realizing he was there. "Who's your friend?"

"My name is Sarek," Sarek said. He bowed slightly at the waist, and the girl raised her eyebrows. "I work for V'Las."

The girl snorted. "My sympathies." She grabbed the corner of the lieutenant's jacket at started dragging him towards the exit. "Come on, Malcolm. Let's eat."

Sarek watched them leave. When they were gone, he wandered over to T'Mun, who was reviewing Kamea's information. T'Mun glanced up as he approached. "Na'shaya, Sarek. Did you enjoy the examination?"

He inclined his head slightly – it could not be considered a nod, but it was at least an indication that he was considering her question. "More than your patient did, I'm sure."

T'Mun acknowledged his attempt at humor with a curt look. Sarek steeled his gaze and met hers without flinching. He was often being reprimanded for his "human-like" behavior, though he hardly considered a sense of humor to be a bad thing. T'Mun went back to her findings.

Sarek swallowed his sigh and sat down. "What did you conclude?"

The physician shook her head, as though perplexed. "It is confusing," she said. "When I spoke with the administrator, he led me to assume that the girl was lying." She turned to look at Sarek, and he could see the question in her eyes, though it was not evident in the rest of her facial features. "I was under the impression that she was trying to discredit the High Command in order to assist the Syrannites."

Sarek leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees. "And now you believe that is not the case?"

T'Mun shook her head again. "There are…anomalies in her blood that cannot be explained. The composition, the color… It is logical to conclude that she is who she claims to be."

Sarek pursed his lips. This, he knew, was not what the administrator wanted to hear. "You're certain."

T'Mun's frustration was apparent in her tone. "I am aware of what the administrator wants me to say, and I am prepared to do what is necessary for the preservation of Vulcan society. But, Sarek, this girl…she is telling the truth."

Malcolm knew he was mothering Kamea, so to speak. But she did not seem to mind. At least, she wasn't complaining. They'd wandered the streets of Shi'Kahr for what seemed like hours before they found anything remotely resembling a restaurant. It was tucked on a narrow side street and looked like something one might find in New Mexico or Arizona back on Earth. A sandstone wall surrounded the open-air patio, which only contained three or four small, circular tables. Apparently, eating out was not big on Vulcan.

The hostess at the restaurant looked surprised to see them, but Kamea spoke to the young woman in fluent Vulcan. Malcolm had absolutely no idea what either of them were saying, but a few moments later they were being led out to the patio. From where they were seated, Malcolm had a pretty good view of the cross-street, which didn't appear to be too busy at the moment.

"It's early for lunch," Kamea said in response to his unasked question, which was why the streets were so dead. "And even though Vulcans are more acclimated to this heat than you or I, most of them still avoid the heat of the day."

He stared at her, and she stared right back. "I hate it when you do that," he said. It was annoying, the way she always seemed to read his mind.

She quirked her lips in a smile. "Why do you think I do it?"

He licked his lips, desperate to ask her about some of those questions the Vulcan doctors had made her answer, but unsure of how to broach the subject. He couldn't very well just come out and ask her something intensely personal like that, when she was so unwilling to share intimate details about her past.

Malcolm cleared his throat. "Don't we get menus?" he asked, looking around for their waitress.

Kamea shrugged. "I already ordered. I hope you don't mind. Also, I hope you like mollusks."

"Mollusks? I thought Vulcans didn't eat meat."

Kamea shrugged again. "My father used to talk about the Vulcan mollusks all the time," she said, using that faraway tone that she reserved only for when she spoke of her parents. "It's one of the things he missed most about Vulcan." She met his eyes, then looked away, almost shyly. "I just…wanted to try them."

They sat in amiable silence for a while. Kamea had dropped her head back to stare at the sky; Malcolm watched the rare passersby on the nearby street. Eventually, he saw a familiar face.

"Koss," Malcolm said, as the Vulcan approached the outer wall of the patio. Kamea's chair screeched against the concrete as she shifted her position.

Koss ignored Malcolm, his eyes locked on Kamea. "I was wondering if I could talk to you."

Kamea cocked an eyebrow, then lifted one shoulder in a barely perceptible shrug and nodded at one of the empty chairs. Koss shifted his eyes to Malcolm, then back to Kamea. She must have noticed the look in his eyes, because she shook her head. "Malcolm stays," she said. "I don't think it would be appropriate for a married man such as yourself to be seen dining with a woman who isn't your wife. Wouldn't you agree?"

Koss didn't answer. Instead, he pulled one of the empty chairs over to the table and dropped into it. "How was your examination?"

Kamea narrowed her eyes. "Awkward."

Koss cleared his throat, obviously uncomfortable. "Are you enjoying your time on Vulcan?"

"Koss," Kamea said, resting her elbows on the table, "I hardly think you tracked me down to make idle chitchat, so in the interest of saving time, why don't you just tell me what it is you want?"

Koss took a deep breath but nodded. "I have a question, and as far as I can tell, you're the only one who can give me an answer."

"Can't give you an answer if I don't know the question."

Malcolm pursed his lips. He had a feeling he knew the question that Koss was going to ask; he also had a feeling that this conversation was going to get very uncomfortable very quickly. He half wished Kamea had let Koss chase him away.

"I want to know," Koss said, leaning forward slightly, "what is going on with Commander Tucker and my wife."

Kamea exhaled slowly. "How much time do you have?"

Malcolm leaned closer to Kamea so that he could whisper in her ear, though with Koss's superior hearing, it was probably a futile effort. "You aren't seriously going to tell him?"

Kamea's eyes softened as she stared at Malcolm, but she didn't answer him. She turned back to Koss. They sat in silence once more, as Kamea scrutinized the other man. She eyed him up and down, her gaze piercing. And Malcolm had to give Koss credit, because he didn't once flinch or falter under her stare. After several minutes, Kamea braced her hands on the table and leaned forward, so that she was only inches from Koss. He pulled back slightly, but otherwise did nothing.

"You love her," Kamea said as she sat back down.

Koss cocked his head to the side. "She is my wife."

"So?" Kamea folded her arms across her chest. "Do you love her?"

Koss sighed imperceptibly. "I only want her happiness."

Kamea grinned, wiping her bottom lip with her thumb. "Close enough. I can honestly tell you, Koss, that as of this moment in time, there is nothing going on with Trip and T'Pol."

Koss stared at her for a few moments. It seemed to Malcolm as though he were attempting to gauge the sincerity of Kamea's statement. Apparently, he believed her, because he nodded and rose from his chair. "Do you have any idea how much longer you'll be here?"

Kamea opened her mouth to answer, but Malcolm beat her to it. "We probably won't be here much longer."

Koss nodded. "Then I shall say goodbye."

Kamea smiled and waved. "Bye, Koss."

After Koss had left, Malcolm turned angrily to face Kamea. "So…" he said, "who's Wat?"

Kamea smiled disappeared almost instantly, and her eyes blazed with fire. "You did not seriously just ask me that question."

Malcolm shrugged. "You didn't seem to have any problems telling the doctors all about him."

"If I don't cooperate with them," she said through clenched teeth, "they could lock me up in that cell again. And I am damn tired of being stuck inside, Malcolm." She smiled up at the hostess, who had suddenly appeared with their food. Malcolm watched as Kamea leaned over her plate and inhaled deeply. The ghost of a smile played at her lips, and her eyes were distant as she sat back in her chair.

"Is he an ex-boyfriend?"

Kamea glared at him. "I really don't want to talk about this."

"Why not?"

Kamea sighed. "Fine. You want to know about Wat? Let me tell you about Wat. He broke my heart. He manipulated me. He took advantage of my feelings. He made me feel wanted and desired and beautiful and dirty and used and alone. He is the reason I ended up unconscious in my pod when you guys pulled me aboard. And I don't feel like talking about it."

She abruptly rose from her chair, grabbed her plate, and plopped down at another table. Malcolm sighed and regarded his mollusks.

He had a feeling he would be sleeping alone that night.