Disclaimer: I don't not own Star Trek Enterprise or any of its characters. They belong to whoever owns 'em. I just took the general idea for a test jaunt. However, L'Ras, Ambassador Soval's aid is an original character created by myself.

Authors Note: After a long hiatus, I am dusting off this old relic and seeing where it takes me. Thank you to all my reviewers, I'm thrilled you enjoyed the last chapter!

When Opposites Collide - Chapter 28

He was in the middle of reviewing the transcripts from the most recent round of negotiations between Vulcan and Andoria when the chime for his personal communication channel blared through the hush. Effectively rousing him from his thoughts as Amanda's name flashed across the console.

And for a long moment he simply stared, stilling his strangely restless hands as he forced his turbulent thoughts back into their previous tranquility. …But despite his best efforts the emotional reaction spread. Coursing through him with all the ferocity of a firestorm as his mental controls slammed down into place, leaving him with only a slight tremor in his hands and an unexplainable tightness in his chest as his heart rate gradually returned to normal.

That shouldn't have happened. It wasn't his time…

He steepled his fingers as he considered his reaction. Perhaps her message had sparked something deeper and far more instinctual than he'd expected. Something brought on by the nature of their union, the tension of their unresolved issues, and the uncertainty that had been building in his mind ever since he'd handed her the pad and returned to the embassy after their outing the previous evening.

Their situation was admittedly unique. With a Vulcan pairing these circumstances would have never been allowed to happen. Everything would have been dealt with quickly and expediently in order to assure he was bonded and provided for far before his time. If he'd allowed it, his clan and perhaps even his late wife's relations would have selected a number of suitable women in the months after his wife's death. There would have been no questions, no waiting or uncertainty. He would have simply selected a number of appropriate candidates, gotten to know them, and over the course of a few months would have eventually made his decision. He wasn't accustomed to not being in control. Not accustomed to this…intimate sort of uncertainty. But he'd chosen to pursue Amanda in the custom of her people. He couldn't risk losing her. He wouldn't, even if it did take some…adjustment.

They were one of the few, perhaps even the first to have embarked on such a relationship. Therefore, it stood to reason that temporary allowances and aberrations were not only acceptable, but perhaps even expected given the circumstances.

After all, being concerned about the contents of the message would by no means change the nature of what had already been written. Her message was labelled neither time sensitive or important, thus it made little difference whether he read it now, or at the end of the work day. Whatever the attitude of her reply, he would read it later. …For now, he had work too attend to.

…He couldn't let this sort of distraction continue. Otherwise it could start affecting his duties…

But despite his best intentions, he'd only gotten halfway through the document before he finally blinked and looked up. Suddenly at a loss as to what he had been reading only moments before as he stared down at the flashing text. The file contained a complete record of a series of remarkably delicate negotiations. They were fast moving and complex, but they were by no means difficult to understand. Certainly no different from the hundreds of treaties that he himself had helped form throughout the course of his career. - His inattention was inexcusable, lax, and he simply would not tolerate it.

So with that thought in mind he paged back to the beginning and began reading again. Only this time the words blurred, fading in importance as the fingers on his right hand tightened around the armrest of his chair. It was if there was part of him that simply refused to settle. Something restless and caged that reared its head and demanded to be addressed.

Amanda.

He pushed back his chair and rose, adjusting the hang of his robes as he straightened the intricate brown and silver trim. Keen hearing cataloging and summarily dismissing the soft hush of fabric as his loose slacks ghosted across the hardwood. - And as was his habit in such situations, he angled his feet southwards, looking out through the floor length window that made up the far wall of his office as he considered his situation.

When he'd first arrived on Earth the infinite ocean view and aging exterior of San Francisco's iconic Golden Gate Bridge had actually been somewhat…disturbing. To a Vulcan the sight of so much water, something so uncontrolled and unfathomably vast, triggered an innate, and almost instinctual response. It was illogical and certainly not universal among his species, but much like a human fighting a gag reflex, it had taken some time for he and his staff to become accustomed to the cresting waves. – And for a long time it had served as yet another reminder of how alien Earth really was…

She was a vibrant blue-green jewel set within an infinite cosmic dark. Stark and undeniably unique when set against Vulcan's harsh desert sands; an ever shifting mixture of orange-tinted crimson and melding tans. Terra was completely and undeniably different. Indeed, when he'd first started his assignment here, it had seemed almost too different. And now, after over thirty years of making Earth his second home, he was willing to go even further. …To take a human wife and live out the remainder of his years with her as his bond mate.

Considering his preconceptions about humans when he'd been awarded the position of Vulcan Ambassador to Earth, the irony certainly wasn't lost on him.

His hands rested behind his back as he stared out at the swelling current. Watching the gulls circling over the white caps as the cool ocean breeze stirred the leaves in the Embassy garden below. - Ironic, how it was now the sight of the rippling ocean waves that provided him with a sense of calm. Something that seemed at odds with his most basic Vulcan nature, to the instinctual longing he still held for the unforgiving desert sands and the heavy, acrid air of the Vulcan Forge. They were two entirely different concepts, and yet the mere sight of both never failed to instil him with a strange sense of completion.

Admiral Forest and Captain Archer had been right; he had been on Earth too long. – And yet, just as he had nearly four years ago, he was privately fascinated to realize that it was a fact that didn't affect him nearly as much as it probably would have when he'd arrived on Earth close to thirty years ago.

What was the human expression? It must be something in the water? - It was an entirely illogical analogy, but still strangely apt considering the circumstances.

Indeed, for an old adage it had proven to be all too accurate. Past experience had shown that humans tended to have that same magnetic effect on other species. Even Commander Shran had remarked on it more than once. It was high praise from any Andorian to be sure, but even more meaningful considering it came from the Commander himself.

Andorians were notoriously difficult when it came to inter-species relationships. Yet humans had managed to do in just a few short years what Vulcan had been trying to do for centuries. Setting up diplomatic relations, trade agreements, and becoming fast allies in a period of time that his diplomatic experience told him was all but impossible. What was it about humans that made them so intriguing?

…But in the end, it was a train of thought that only ended up bringing him right back to the issue at hand, Amanda…

He still didn't completely understand it, this strange connection he'd come to feel for her people. Indeed, he was perhaps even more perplexed by it since she'd come into his life. Getting caught in the details as he considered how despite all the odds, they'd managed to find common ground. That he'd come to desire her above all others. Regardless of the fact that it could inevitably cost him his position as Vulcan's ambassador to Earth if some of his rivals in the diplomatic sphere were able to convince the council to share their outdated opinions.

He moved away from the window when a group of visiting Kreetassans entered his line of sight in the gardens below. - Leaving his data pad and the flashing console behind, he crossed the room towards the drink dispenser and ordered a cup of tea. He needed time to consider what her message might contain. He had to compose himself and face her answer logically. This…agitation would not change the outcome, thus not only was it uncalled for, but it was completely useless as well.

But despite the clear emotional indulgence his mind whirled. Could it be a refusal? Acceptance? The problem was that he scarcely knew how to respond to either. Perhaps it was merely poor planning on his part, but he found himself at a loss as to his next course of action.

He'd been adamant in his pursuit, perhaps even unconventionally so. And yet despite the unexplainable tension that had taken up residence in the back of his mind ever since he'd given her that data pad, he certainly had no intention of ceasing his actions. It was merely a question of the proper course…

So as the aromatic tea streamed into his cup he considered the options open to him. If she refused him, his choice was clear. He already knew his mind would not accept another. He would continue his duties on Earth until his time approached and then he would retire. He would return to Vulcan and lose himself in the sands that ringed the base of Mount Seleya. Where, much like in the days of his ancestors, he would surrender himself to the fires until his body failed him. He would not take another mate; of that he was certain.

For better or worse he'd made his decision.

But if she accepted him, his path was even more uncertain. If she chose to have him, regardless of all the reasons why she shouldn't, well, her acceptance would be what he was certain Admiral Forrest would have called the 'wild card' of the deck. There were so many variables, so many pitfalls and difficulties to consider. – And yet, as strange as it was to even consider, he found that he was looking forward to making each and every one.

His fingers curled around the handle of the mug as he faced his desk, silently contemplating the flashing orange light that indicated Amanda's unread message as he considered his next course of action. He hesitated. Was it truly logical to simply ignore her message and continue on in this state of distraction? - In fact, would it not be more logical to simply read her message now, thus putting his mind at rest about the issue at hand?

When he finally returned to his desk, he read her message with forced slowness, deliberately lingering on each sentence before going on to the next one. Determined to leave nothing to chance, refusing to give in to temptation and read ahead. And when he reached the end, he raised a considering brow.

It wasn't an outright refusal. But neither was it an expression of wholehearted acceptance. Or least not one he could rightly determine at any rate. Instead, she had replied with a riddle of sorts. It was a fascinating and indeed strangely appropriate action considering both their situation and history. Amanda was testing him, he was sure of it…

He had to admit that he was undeniably intrigued. Which, he supposed was probably the whole point of the exercise. It was a message within a message, a riddle within a riddle. There was the hidden content, but there was also the very nature of the message itself. She hadn't just replied with a few lines of text and invitation to dinner, but with what Commander Tucker would likely have called a treasure map of sorts.

Fascinating…

The fact that she hadn't refused him outright indicated that she was likely inclined to continue their relationship. Yet, he was also aware that in not specifying the terms of her answer, it was also very likely that she needed further information in order to make her final decision. - Therefore, this invitation could simply be Amanda's way to determine her final course of action.

Human pair bonding was certainly a confusing and multi-faceted affair to say the least.

But as he skimmed through the message Amanda had left him, his tea went cold. Finding himself inexplicably caught up in the challenge as he decrypted line after line of text. The decryptions ranged from mathematic equations, language translations, to even trivia. With each sequence revealing a separate work of art or literature that all pertained to the same theme, that of human sexuality and the varying modes of human culture that inevitably came along with it.

He'd only just managed to decode a rather large file regarding something that was entitled the "Karma Sutra" when his console chimed. The dark screen flashing intermittently until he finally pulled himself out of his rather blatant examination of the file's cover art and accepted the call.

"My apologies for the intrusion Ambassador, but there is a priority three communication from the Andorian Imperial Guard." L'Ras replied, clearly putting his administrative talents to good use as a virtual maelstrom of incoming calls blared through the video feed from his station in the adjoining room.

The Andorians? What business did the Imperial Guard have with him? Had something happened? …Something that affected to the upcoming raid on the remnants of Terra Prime? - The operation was only a week away and the Andorians were serving as rear support for the main operation. If they backed out now the entire raid would have been to be reorganized and new ships deployed within next few day in order for them to reach the rendezvous coordinates on time.

"Very well, I'll take it in my office. Please see to it that I am not disturbed. That will be all L'Ras." He instructed, wasting no time as he set the data pad to the side and engaged his privacy and security encryption. Nodding wordlessly to L'Ras as the young Vulcan transferred the call and engaged the approximate security procedures.

There was a moment of dead air before the transmission was transferred to his console. And a familiar, if not completely unexpected face suddenly filled up the view screen…


A/N #1: Hope you enjoyed! – Sorry about the long wait between updates, things have been rather busy on my end. And since this addition was unplanned for until last chapter I had to start this chapter from scratch!