A Christmas Carol

By

Pat Foley

Chapter 9

Sarek settled into his usual seat in the back of the theater. Various humans raised their heads when he entered, some smiling a tentative welcome, others looking at him askance. He sketched a brief nod in returned greeting to all, but he had what Amanda termed his ultra Vulcan mask firmly in place. That didn't invite familiarity, and if he cared to, he could see that his restrained greeting did nothing to advance himself with them. That did not concern him, for he had no interest in any other in the room. His eyes had already found the one particular human he had come to see – and hear. She was off to one side of the stage, with Porter, teaching the young children their songs. Many of them, like the boy with tousled brown hair stumbling through Tiny Tim's part were too young to read, at least music, so she was teaching by the simple expedient of singing their parts to them, and then, singing along with them, until the children were well enough versed to sing them on their own, with her occasional prompting when they faltered or forgot. One of the small children saw him, and unimpressed by Vulcans, pointed him out to her, she turned and briefly sketched a wave. Early that morning, struggling with hair that wanted to knot instead of braid, she'd asked him absently if he would be coming that evening to pick her up, because then she would not take her own flyer. And then answered herself, "Of course, you're coming, you always do", and then fretted already by too many activities in her already long day, gave up trying to braid her hair and twisted it into a French knot, Vulcan customs aside. Sarek had not commented on that breach of tradition, nor now, was he the waving type, though the rest of the smaller children were now all waving. Amanda gathered back their attention and settled them. And Sarek himself settled back to listen.

Having copied the score when he had first seen it, he had then read it through. He'd tossed that, one read sufficed to commit it to his eidetic memory. Since he had read the libretto, he could now accurately place the rehearsals within the context of the story, his reason for reading it. It helped him better understand and appreciate what he was hearing, or at least, find it less incomprehensible, human motivations not always being entirely clear to him. In that alone such activities as this were something of an education. He had begun reading the scripts since the first such pageant rehearsals when he had discovered such preparations didn't involve a straight run through of the play, but a curious scattered approach, starting and finishing scenes at apparent random – or at least by some method he could not divine. Only during dress rehearsal did the play really resemble itself as it appeared in the libretto. Or on opening night.

Over the next few weeks, Sarek expected to hear the score often enough, partly in rehearsals and hopefully partly at home. Amanda didn't consciously practice, but depending on her activities and state of mind, she did sometimes sing as she went through her day, usually brief snatches of song. Lately she had had little time for even that at home, but with the pageant, she would be more likely to do so. And now that he had read the script, he would understand what she was singing even when it was totally out of context.

But in truth, he scarcely cared whether he understood what she sang or not, so long as she would sing, and he could listen. This startling tendency – and ability – of hers was one of those things he'd discovered after his marriage. No doubt she had discovered surprising things regarding his behavior as well. Probably most she had never discussed with him, direct though she often was.

Just as he had never spoken of this to her. Nor discovered about her until they relocated to Vulcan.

xxx

When they had first married, they had lived in the embassy on Terra, which while reasonably commodious was not entirely private. They had a suite of their own, but the rest of the staff, advisors, aides, and others, lived in the same complex. He'd been aware she wasn't comfortable with that situation, but had …put up…with it, as she called it. She'd been eager to have a home of their own. Even though obtaining one meant that she would also be leaving her home planet.

Coming to Vulcan had entailed myriad culture shocks for her, much worse than for him on Terra. He at least had lived in a Vulcan environment, among Vulcans and Vulcan customs at the embassy. Amanda had arrived on a strange planet to live closely with no human associates, and was essentially entirely immersed in an alien culture. Even though she'd had some months on Terra after they'd married to adjust to his ways, this was indeed a major change. She needed some place to retreat to, to call home, though for her that still meant a Vulcan home, with a Vulcan husband.

And regardless of her acceptance of her Vulcan husband, her Vulcan home had not at all been what she'd expected or hoped for. The expressions on her face when she'd first seen the Fortress had been myriad, but discernable even to him. Shock, awe, amazement, and …dismay. Though she'd made some effort to conceal it, to put a best face on it, he'd seen her first reaction. It had been unaccountably dismay. This was not the quiet, private home she had envisioned, one that they could share together…and alone. Where she could be human

To make things worse, the overzealous Federation press that had tagged her every movement on Terra had arrived on Vulcan in force, to continue the story of her adaptation to her new world. Sarek didn't dare let her leave the Fortress without guards until he'd gotten a handle on that situation – the voraciousness of their interest had totally surprised him. But even within that huge edifice she had come to feel beleaguered, that she had no place to retreat that she could call her own.

He hadn't understood that at first. And she'd abetted his misunderstanding, gamely trying to underscore her discomfort. He could see she was becoming more and more unhappy. But he had been unable to deduce the exact cause – a novice himself at deducing emotional reasoning in a human wife. Finally, one morning after a breakfast she'd scarcely touched, he sat her down, her hands in his, and managed to coax the problem out of her.

"I thought…this was going to be our home."

Sarek was non-plussed. "This is our home. It has been one of my family's ancestral homes since--"

She frowned as an attendant entered to announce a call from the Newtonian ambassador. "I will take it later," Sarek said. "Defer all calls until further notice."

Amanda's eyes were on the Vulcan attendant that had left, chill reproof in his air.

"Amanda?"

She turned back to him, dismayed. "It is your home. But it's not ours."

"That is not true."

"No, it's perfectly obvious," she said, with barely repressed frustration.

"I don't understand."

"Sarek," she drew a breath, as if for a long confession. She was still struggling to adapt to the thinner air, and it was leaving her a little breathless and lightheaded. That didn't help matters. She refused to use much Triox, afraid she would never adapt. And though she had worked out in a heavy gravity gym for months before they shipped to Vulcan, a scant hour once or twice a week had not nearly prepared her for Vulcan's heavy gravity. Even he had required a day or two to reacclimatize after so many months in Terran conditions. Combining the gravity with the scant oxygen, the heat and the longer days, she didn't need personal or emotional problems to have more than enough with which to contend with on Vulcan. Unfortunately, she had those too.

The attendant entered again without preamble, Sarek's schedule in hand. "Leader, there is a request--"

Amanda actually flinched, snatching her hands back from his as if burned. And the glare she gave his aide, if understandable, could still hardly be considered proper. Or an expression Sarek could condone, however secretly he might excuse it under the circumstances. The aide merely stood his ground. And if Vulcans could glare…

Sarek looked from one to the other of them, both stubborn, both uncompromising, both so sure they were right. Amanda was breathing fast, eyes narrowed, barely spoiling for a fight. And the attendant merely looked straight ahead, as if she did not exist. Were he not Vulcan, Sarek might have had some choice words to say of his own to both such behaviors. Instead he rose, gestured the attendant out of the room and activated a seldom used door lock. Turning, he found his wife taking a cushion from behind her and throwing it at the hapless door where through the attendant had just exited. Sarek ducked in spite of himself, for she had yet to adjust for how the pull of Vulcan's heavier gravity affected thrown projectiles, and as the cushion angled down sharply it nearly struck him. Though if she were going to continue to express her displeasure by that means, he almost preferred she did not accustom herself, given it meant perfecting her aim.

"Amanda!" he reproved. He picked up the cushion and handed it back to her.

She took it automatically, hands crushing it in tension. "I don't care. Sarek, how can you say this is our home?"

He was even more non-plussed. "Because it is a fact."

"They've made it abundantly clear that nothing here belongs to me." She tossed the cushion aside. "Not even you. And I've begun to wonder if any of this even belongs to you."

"I assure you--"

"Oh, in practice if not in fact," she brushed that aside. "They do what they want, they go where they want and we just have to deal with it. They just expect us to deal with it."

Sarek tilted his head in a Vulcan negation. "My wife, they are merely doing their duty as they have always--."

"Well, they can do it a little less around me," she said truculently. "Always is right. 'The world is too much with us, late and soon.'"

He had become accustomed to her literary references, and after searching through his own memory, he frowned.

"You do not like William Wordsworth."

"Then it's an appropriate quote, because I don't like this."

Eyes widening as even Vulcans' can do after such a blunt remark, he got them off literature and onto a more pertinent discussion. It turned out that her human standards of privacy surpassed even Vulcan ones, at least in some respects. He was somewhat surprised at that, and then wondered why he should be. He was still guilty of making automatic assumptions regarding humans – even when it involved Amanda. He tried to remind himself to be a little less assuming in that regard.

After which he spoke to the staff and instructed them accordingly.

But the staff saw no reason to change the traditions of millennia. And he had yet to deduce the true gulf between his Vulcan staff and his human wife. His attempts at mediation had not satisfied her and, he suspected, had failed to serve his staff as well.

By this time, her emotions were running high, and Sarek thought even his staff were waging something of a private war. It was something he and Amanda hadn't quite encountered before. Unlike the Fortress staff, the embassy staff on Terra had become somewhat used to Terran ways and accustomed to the notion of Terrans in general. And they'd had time to get used to Amanda before she'd become their clan leader's wife.

But his Vulcan staff at home had no experience with Terrans. Amanda had burst upon them in all her unfamiliar humanity. She might have been a creature in a zoo for how the most conservative of his staff regarded her. And when it came to war, they had, as Amanda would have said, the home field advantage. They had the superiority of numbers, the military intelligence, as it were, in having full communications among each other. And a well known turf, a set of traditions, to protect to which Amanda was new and with which she was largely unfamiliar.

It was a war Amanda had no real chance to win, that was waged out of his sight, and of which he saw only snatches, skirmishes. And a war in which she, out of some obscure sense of honor or dignity, reticence or pride, was refusing to tell him about. He generally only saw the effects.

Knowing something was still wrong, but not sure how to resolve it, he then limited the staff in numbers, trying to ease the friction. But if anything, that only worsened the situation. The staff were more than up to this war, and were certain of victory. Amanda was not. And he saw the effects of it in his wife only too well.

She could not go outside the Fortress without being besieged by reporters, she apparently had little sense of peace within. When she wandered through the Fortress, she got lost. When she had wandered in the gardens, she'd mistakenly played with, and brought home, a pair of lematya cubs, bringing the Vulcan guard on the run to dart and remove them. He'd spoken sharply to her then, in panic at her close encounter with death, for even with treatment lematya poison was very frequently fatal. Her ignorance had been his fault but he had been very…emotional…over that near brush. Even now, decades later, the memory could make his heart speed up. He'd remedied the ignorance, but the instance had left its mark and he didn't think she'd forgiven him for his sharp words. Although she'd been trying her best to put a good face on things up until then, she'd been becoming increasingly unhappy. And that incident had been, as she might have said, the final straw that broke the mythical camel's back.

He knew then that he had to do something. Heads had rolled over the lematya incident, but his staff had been insufferably superior over the incident.

But his Vulcan staff had miscalculated, for the one thing they did not have , that she did, was him. It was an advantage that outweighed all others. But it would matter little to her if he didn't resolve things quickly. He sat her down again, with strict instructions to his staff not to enter unless the Fortress was under attack by Romulans. And finally coaxed her to talk to him, striving to understand, once and for all, what she required.

Finally she made him understand that when she said she wanted privacy, she wanted just that. Not the privacy of requesting admittance. But real privacy as in actual private quarters. Completely theirs. She requested, they discussed, and finally agreed that their suite and that wing of the house would be theirs and theirs alone. That the aides, attendants and servants to which he was accustomed would only come upon appointment, to speak to him in his office, or to do heavy household chores only when scheduled to do so. And that she would take upon herself the daily housekeeping chores that had been the purview of the now banished staff, just so that she could have their private apartments entirely, absolutely private.

He had finally come to understand her concept of a private home. She wanted it, she obviously seemed to need it, and she was determined to have it, even if that meant she would take over chores that to him ought to be done by servants. That she intended to, even wanted to, make beds and meals and do the most menial of tasks. Unexpected as that desire was to him, he finally understood her. It was hardly proper for his wife to take on trivial chores. It was completely outside of his expectations of what a potential matriarch would do, and a break with all tradition. But then…so was she. And Amanda had finally convinced him this was what she'd meant. And though he'd had understandable trouble accepting this odd notion, in the end, seeing her mind unchanged, realizing this was no mere human whim, but an absolute requirement for her present happiness, he had acquiesced. Puzzled and dubious, he'd respected her wishes and reorganized the household accordingly.

"Is it wrong?" she'd asked, seeing his hesitation. "Taboo or something?"

"No," he assured her. "Merely unexpected."

She made a face. "Meaning you married me expecting me to act like a VSA teacher and researcher. Not a skivvy."

Sarek hesitated. In truth, what he had expected was for her to behave like a clan leader. But he reminded himself it was not a role she had been born to. She would come to it, in time. "You are a teacher and researcher."

She looked at him almost hopefully. "On Terra, all sorts of people tend their own homes. With robotic help, and that sort of thing. Personal attendants are rare."

Sarek conceded that with a flick of a brow. "On Vulcan as well, in normal households. But there is a certain…tradition…associated with personal attendants on Vulcan for a clan leader."

She flushed. "I know you didn't marry me expecting a scullery maid for a wife." She gave him a look. "But you weren't exactly honest with me, were you?"

He raised innocent brows. "My wife."

"Clan leader. You rather conveniently omitted that."

"A cultural blindness. It is not something I have ever had to tell, on Vulcan."

"A living legend, are you," she said, and he was pleased to see her lips twitch in a reluctant smile.

"I'm afraid I have a certain notoriety."

"And I suppose I do too, of a less estimable type. And wanting to live something of a private life isn't going to endear me to your staff."

"No," Sarek admitted frankly. "But the staff will get over it, and in any event, I am not concerned with their emotions. If you wish this, I will not object."

"Maybe just for a while," she said. "Until I feel more comfortable."

"Of course," he'd replied.

And with that, except under certain very specific circumstances, he'd evicted the staff from the main wing of the Fortress.

And at that order, the Vulcan staff had fallen like kingpins. And to this day, he suspected they had never quite recovered. As Amanda might have said, hearing it, they could have been knocked down with a feather, even the mightiest of the Palace Guard. Because for the first time in millennia, the Fortress' staff and guard – the Fortress itself -- had been breached, conquered, taken over – and by an alien and outworlder force – and in the person of a young Terran girl. The war had been lost on their part, won on Amanda's. And even if she didn't fully understand the reverberations going through the Vulcan staff at what he had done, he did.

Vulcans were a warrior race. One thing they understood, never failed to understand, was winning. Vulcan, after all, had never known a conqueror. And Vulcan to the core, they had never conceived that they would lose. Certainly not to an outworlder, one little more than a child by Vulcan standards.

Of course, she would not have won without Sarek's backing. But what had shocked them, even more than Sarek's siding with her, was that she had stood up and demanded their exodus. They retreated in shock, never having been defeated in Vulcan memory.

Amanda had not the experience to really understand what she had wrought. But she drew a relieved breath with that exodus. And with her own portion of home turf finally carved out, she did her best to make a home for them out of it, in their own eclectic style.

With Amanda in possession of the Fortress and the staff booted to a convenient wing, the victory was only too apparent. Sarek had only to banish to lesser places the few who dared to let him see her treated with the slightest lack of respect to make her victory, in their eyes, complete. Perhaps another race of beings might have been vindictive, but Sarek's swift actions checked as well the few that succumbed to the impulse.

It was true, that Vulcans as they were, they did respect winning. He might almost smile himself to see them evaluating his small wife with amazed and considering eyes. Those that might never have been won over by any human charm, were won over by her considerable strength of will.

The staff that remained learned a valuable lesson, that humans were a force with which to be reckoned. At least this human. And that Amanda had a power of her own. They came to grant her a grudging respect, though she was far too occupied to consider it, or them. She had a new teaching career at the Vulcan Science Academy; she had a new home to make; she had a new world with which to become accustomed; new associates to meet, and a fairly new husband with whom to reacquaint herself, for Sarek was not quite the same on Vulcan as he'd been on Earth. There, he'd been adapting in some respects to local customs, at least as much as he would or could. Now returned to his home himself, he returned to his culture in earnest. And became more aware of how very human his wife was. They both had some adjustments to make in that regard.

Drastic as his solution had been to Vulcan eyes, she'd been helped by it. Once she had a place where she felt she could be herself, be human, outside of Vulcan standards and Vulcan expectations, she had relaxed. She stopped flinching at every open door, for there were no doors opened except by them. If still a little tentative, she started to smile again. And then, finally relaxed and secure, she blossomed in her new oasis.

And that's when it began.

The first time he had come home to hear her singing as she went about the house, her house now, he had stood amazed, frozen in place, unable to do anything but listen for uncounted minutes until I-Chiya had sensed him and come flying out, bringing her behind him. She'd been embarrassed that he had heard her, her cheeks flaming, but she had shrugged and said little. He had been too amazed himself to say much.

Vulcans did not sing. Not like that. Not out of pleasure or joy or happiness. Her voice was enthralling enough, but to hear her sing touched something deep inside him. He'd been confused himself at his own reaction, still struggling to deal with the myriad of emotions his emotional wife seemed to incite in him. And did what Vulcans do, he buried the reaction deep.

But then he discovered that now that she felt at home, one she had acclimated to Vulcan well enough to have breath for such, she sang often, as she had never done in the Vulcan Embassy on Terra. He could not have been more surprised at this unVulcan behavior. She sang most often when she was alone, or perceived she was alone, performing the routine chores necessary to maintain their household. As if in some sort of accompanying entertainment, or compensation for the tedium of those tasks. Every time he heard her, he was astounded anew.

But he continued to say little, since she seemed still …embarrassed …when she'd found he'd overheard her. He didn't fully understand that – after all, she was his wife, and they'd shared far more personal intimacies. But he did partially understand. For he had his own secrets in a similar respect. He had not suspected he could have desired her more, but hearing her sing, the knowledge that she not merely had the ability, but the inclination, and that she would do this, seemingly without volition, merely because she was…happy…totally amazed, and enthralled, him. Had he been able to, he would have indented for a wife with this behavior, had he even known such existed. But he had no need to do so. She was already his. A heady knowledge, that made him appreciate his own good fortune, unVulcan though that might be. Here was a great gift, bestowed unknown to him. Yet in his surreptitious enjoyment of her snatches of song, he also kept it, as much as he could, unknown to her. Because it was unVulcan.

And as she relaxed, she grew less self-conscious. She sang when she rose in the morning. When she made beds. When she did the necessary housekeeping chores she'd undertaken. She'd scheduled her classes so she had a day free from the Academy for housekeeping. He then had taken to working in his office in the Fortress on that day, just to hear the echoes of her songs. She sang when she cooked. Coming home in the evening, the shadows laying across the desert sands, he looked forward to hearing her voice raised in song, lifting high as if in contrast to the Eridani's fall behind the Llangons -- though often punctuated by a yelp when she nicked or burned her fingers, for she was a hasty, careless cook by Vulcan standards. He deplored and decried those accidents of hers, but in truth, he would not have her change her behavior one whit – if it meant she no longer sang. Though his Vulcan sensibilities would never allow him to admit it.

xxx

That was what he regretted most about the staff returning to the Fortress. And that too was too inestimable for his Vulcan sensibilities to allow him to confess. But now that she no longer engaged in routine chores, she sang that much less. He lost the pleasure of coming home and finding her alone in the kitchen, fussing over some meal. No longer did she schedule time at home to deal with household tasks – the trivial round, she'd called it, laughing as she characterized it so -- while he worked in his office -- sometimes setting his work aside, sitting back and listening as she sang. Often it was something from Cinderella. And in the hidden privacy of his office, he would half smile at the incongruity of it. He did not consider himself in the role of Prince Charming by any means. But Amanda always said that it was the only suitable score to sing when scrubbing a castle. And perhaps it had helped her in some respects. More than once she'd taken out her temper and her frustrations that had come with her living on Vulcan by cleaning some part of the house, or scrubbing a woebegone I-Chiya, or an even more resistant Spock, who like all Vulcans, and all small children, resisted soap and water, and had been known to flee to the Forge when he sensed a bath in the offing, his pet as his heels, feigning deafness to her calls. Cheap therapy, she'd called her housecleaning. Sarek supposed he should be grateful she'd never turned her skivvy skills toward himself.

The sole lasting disadvantage of these peculiar activities seemed to have been Spock growing up with the idea that wives played some sort of servant's role in a household. This opinion Spock had precociously volunteered when Sarek explained the need for bonding and the purpose of wives, at least in such a way as appropriate for a young child. Spock had assured him he knew this, blithely agreeing that every Vulcan male would need someone to cook and clean for him. Appalled, Sarek had tried to dissuade his son of that notion, and quickly, before Amanda heard it voiced and attributed it to him. But it was difficult for any perceptive child to disregard the evidence of his senses. He saw his mother did those things, and his father did not. When Sarek had countered that observation with the assertion that this was simply something his mother chose, but not necessarily something that a Vulcan wife would choose, Spock had then deduced that it was only human wives who were servants. That made a nightmarish situation even worse. Sarek could just imagine Amanda's reaction should Spock inform his mother his father had taught him that. In trying to backtrack from that disaster and explain something of the circumstances that made Amanda choose this, Sarek somehow got it turned around so that Spock thought this behavior was something only appropriate for a clan leader's wife. Which totally flabbergasted his Vulcan father. Sarek had finally given up at that point. And hoping to head off an explosion, raised the …difficulty… with Amanda, thinking perhaps, as it was her behavior, she could explain it more coherently in a way the child would finally understand. But she'd just laughed.

"Soon enough for his own wife to teach him otherwise. After she has a good laugh."

Sarek just raised a doubtful brow. "I don't think T'Pring will be laughing, my wife."

She looked a little truculent at that. Her opinion of T'Pring had never been high. "Let's just let him keep the misconception, then. An afternoon spent scrubbing would do that girl nothing but good. I wouldn't mind watching while he explains it to her. And puts a sponge in her lily green hand."

"Amanda." Sarek shook his head at her caustic tone.

Amanda shrugged the problem aside. "Oh, he's only seven, Sarek. I'll set him straight when he's a bit older."

Sarek sighed and agreed, but he wasn't sure Spock had ever modified his curious notions.

But then again, his father had his own heretical notions that he held onto. He had never broken himself of the habit of desiring his human wife's song.

Illogical as it was for a Vulcan to admit, the present state of his household was somewhat disappointing to him. His banishment of their Vulcan staff had turned out to have been a rather idyllic period, in retrospect. He had not understood Amanda's distress when she'd first come to Vulcan, but now, he did. Even as she seemed to have gotten past the need for such ultimate privacy, he had come to realize he missed some aspects of their lost intimacy, had not fully appreciated it, in fact, until the situation had changed.

But he was wrong regardless, more wrong than his son had been. For that had merely been the misconception of a child. His own misdeeds were those of illogical and emotional behavior. That alone should shame his Vulcan sensibilities. But far worse was that the emotions involved -- his emotions -- were of a distressingly pre-Reform nature, something that he, especially he, was doubly obliged to suppress and control. He had not forgotten the dangers of vrie.

Passion was allowed in a marriage bond, but traditionally it was passion of a specific type, suitably expressed only in the normal …relations… between husband and wife. This passion fell outside that restriction. And thus it was something he should, even must, control. Forgiving as Amanda was in so many respects, he didn't think she would appreciate this heretical desire.

For more than once in his marriage, he had…almost… found himself regretting his wife's professional career. Only almost. Vulcan disciplines served him that much. His were certainly shamefully unVulcan thoughts. For his wife sang most often when she was doing tedious manual chores. Given her career, she had little time for singing. But if she had been, for example, a skivvy, a scullery maid, as she sometimes teasingly called herself in relation to those chores… Well, she might sing all day, every day.

Every time he caught himself thinking such thoughts he forced himself to back to Vulcan disciplines, to review the myriad logical benefits of his wife's academic career, compared to the superfluity of her dealing with mundane tasks – balanced against his own personal satisfaction in hearing her sing. A logical argument that could not be faulted.

Now more than ever. For those days were over. They had a full kitchen staff now, and a full household staff. The time that she had spent caring for the household – and singing while she did -- she had now turned over entirely to her professional duties, even as she had turned the household duties over to the staff. And when she was reading, or studying or writing papers, naturally, of course, she was concentrating fully. And she did not sing.

With her added council duties, she had even less time, and less opportunity now, for moments of song.

And he did regret that, though it was not merely illogical. It was positively pre-Reform for such thoughts to cross his consciousness. Unacceptable for him to actually have moments of wishing his wife to do mindless work. And doubly illogical given the reason was that she would engage in the purely human, illogical behavior of singing as she did it. And that he would be able to listen as she did it.

That was what made him, even as he relished the sound of her voice in song, bury his external reactions deep in Vulcan disciplines. He was, after all, a modern, logical Vulcan. Logical in most areas. In all areas, save to do with his marriage and his human wife. But with her, try as he would, illogical reactions continually surprised him. Even outside of the natural relations between bondmates he caught himself amazed by his heretical desires. And some desires should be controlled. His wife was a brilliant scholar and teacher. In addition, she fulfilled an important advisory role in his own Federation work. It was entirely inappropriate for him to wish her to give up even one hour of her real duties for menial chores… merely because in doing so she might sing.

And yet, there were times, particularly listening to her voice, that he could wish it.

Hence what she called his Vulcan face. She was perceptive enough to sense something, even if not to see what it concealed. But he could hardly countenance his admiration for her voice without acknowledging the desire that accompanied it. So he concealed both, and Amanda did not know. At least he trusted she did not know. If his Vulcan face served him at all.

But it made this pageant season all the more precious to him. More so now than ever.

Though the first time she had broached the subject to him, he had not known what to expect. He had of course, been to a few dramatic performances on Terra, part of the social round. But the terminology was confusing. Amanda spoke of this being a play. He understood that was ostensibly merely a dramatic performance. But he also knew that she also called the intimate games they sometimes indulged in play. So he'd been a trifle wary. And had accompanied her just to ensure, to see for himself, exactly what kind of play wasactually involved in this activity

When he understood it involved music, singing, specifically his wife singing, that was all he needed to know. A play meant new songs. A play meant his wife would sing, would practice, these new songs at home, as well as in scheduled rehearsals. It meant weeks where the level of music, of song in his household, and for his ears, increased. After he understood that, well, she would have been hard-pressed to get out of it, if he had any say in the decision. Though he did not, would not, allow himself one. It was purely her decision to participate in these activities. He would not influence her. He would not betray, not by a flicker of expression, his own thoughts on the matter. Heretical though they could be. And were, to a Vulcan such as himself. Another reason for his Vulcan face, as Amanda called it.

But if she was going to do participate, if she was going to sing for others, well, he was going to listen. He was her husband and that much he would grant himself.

And far from forbidding such a proposal, every year, he was grateful anew for this illogical Terran holiday season. One that brought presents even to Vulcans.

Though if he had any control at all, he would conceal that behind a proper Vulcan countenance too. Both the pleasure and the gratitude.

He sat listening, his face revealing nothing.

xxx

"He's out there again," Clara whispered to the others. Amanda was going through the trios with the two Scrooges, and the rest of the cast was at leisure.

Nadine put her head around a scrim and shook her head. "Why does he come? To sit there, night after night, like a statue. Not a crack on his face. With most Vulcans you can discern a little expression.

"Maybe it means he's concealing one all the more," Simone said, thoughtfully. As a spy, she was well aware of subterfuges.

Nadine did a double take, then shook her head. "Not Sarek of Vulcan."

"No, I suppose not," Simone admitted. And turning away, they let the curtain drop back in place.

And on stage, ostensibly singing to the two Scrooges, Amanda's eyes cut to her husbands'. And she smiled, just a little. But as the old human saying went, she saved her breath to swell her song. This was Vulcan, after all.

To be continued….

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