Framed against the setting sun, he stood looking out across the vast expanse of the desert, inwardly counting his life against the years. One hundred and eighty-nine years had not bent and broken him—that had taken only a handful of days, and in that handful of days he had lost everything. Opening his hand, he let the sand he had gripped so tightly loose, the wind taking it and scattering it until there was nothing more to hold, letting his mind trail back through the years as the grains swirled off into the distance…

"You would do such a foolish thing such a this, wandering out to the desert alone. Tell me why, my wife, tell me why."

He could see her silhouette in the setting sun, her chin quivering, fighting to stay the tears. Sarek was not sure what he had done to cause her to flee. He turned and weighed his actions over and over in his mind and could find no clue, no hint of what had gone so wrong so quickly. A few days before Amanda had stood laughing and joyous beside him, now she sat upon the bluff, her legs curled against her chest, pinned there tightly by her arms and chin, a ball of pain that reverberated against him.

A response did not seem to be forthcoming. He let loose a barely audible sigh and gathering up his robes, dropped to the ground next to her. Closer now, he could hear the ragged intake of breath he knew meant that the tears had won. He struggled against his own inner battle of what he should and should not do. He could not leave her here, and he knew only too well now was not the time to try and reason with his wife. Pausing but for a brief moment he let his hand rest on her shoulder, caressing it briefly and then letting it trail the length of her back, looking to have this pain, whatever it was slip from her with its movement.

Finally, Amanda spoke, not looking at him, but into the desert far beyond sight.

"No matter how hard I try, everything I do is wrong. I am ruining your life and mine as well."

"This is not so."

"It is, everything. Every single thing," She bit her lip at that, and he knew she was trying her best to control. A part of him wanted to tell her to stop, yet he knew she was only trying to her best to conform to the strictures of his world.

"Will you let me be the judge of whether or not my life is being 'ruined'?"

Finally. His wife looked over at him, opening her mouth as if to speak, but before she could, he continued.

"Since I am unable to see how you have come to this conclusion, please advise me on how you have reached it."

"Tonight, with your mother, I try so hard to control, but I just can't. Losing my temper was inexcusable."

"My mother has seen more than her share of lost tempers, including some of her own, I might add." He paused for a moment pondering whether to make the admission, then realizing it was for the best, "It is a matter I am guilty of myself. This is no reason to risk your life by wandering off into the desert."

"But it's not just that, the other day with T'Pau…"

"T'Pau can play the short-sighted bigot when she considers it to be to her advantage her to be so, and can swiftly change her vantage point when it is more to her plans. She would have me marry her choice. I made mine."

"It's not just her though, it's your colleagues, your family, your friends. They make me feel, well, like I'm your pet human, something to be tolerated in the short range, cause in the end, in the end you'll grow weary of me and come to your senses and find yourself a proper Vulcan woman."

"I do not desire a 'proper Vulcan woman'. I desire you."

"But things change…"

"This will not change, Amanda. I promise you this."

Sarek pick up a handful of sand.

"You see these sands? Look at them closely, remember each one of them."

Questioning, she looked directly at him, her eyes bright in the remains of the lingering light, a trail of tears marked in a stain of dust on her cheeks. He nodded to his hand, and taking a deep breath, she looked into his cupped palm and its contents for a long moment.

Suddenly, Sarek stood in one fluid motion, and opening his hand, he flung the fine grains into the wind, "Find every single one of those sands, my wife, and when you return them all to me only then would I ever allow us to part."

In the end the joys had far outweighed the sorrows of their lives. And he had kept his end of the bargain over those many years, though more than once death had come close to his door. Amanda had done her best as well, living a long life, longer than he could have ever asked for and she did it for him. A marriage of one hundred and twenty-five years, almost as long as a standard human lifetime was theirs. Then when finally her body could no longer fight the battle, he cradled her in his arms one last time, knowing he could do nothing more for her now than to let her go. And in her passing, a gaping wound had opened up within him that would not be healed. Each day a little less of him remained among the living, each day he had moved closer to she who had passed into that which lay beyond.

The sun set before him one final time, the darkness now overtaking him like a shroud. Sarek of Vulcan turned and walked his last trip across the sands of his birth, going home to die to this life and be reborn in arms of she who alone had proved worthy of being loved by one who had never known of love until the day she came into his heart.