Disclaimer: If I owned Star Trek, someone would have told me by now.
A/N: Written for a prompt, like most of my fanfiction, it seems. What if Amanda tried to become more Vulcan, adopted the ways of Surak? (I think I've caught all the formatting errors in this, I'm sorry if any of you stumble across an stray i or /i somewhere in here. D: )
T'lara had never enjoyed the company of Amanda Grayson—in fact, she'd come her closest to expressing overt displeasure when she and Amanda first met—and Sarek had postulated that there was little chance of this changing in the foreseeable future. His wife had been distraught by the observation, despite his insistence that his mother was unlikely to change her opinion in any event. He assured her that his father, Skon, and the matriarch of their clan, T'Pau, took little issue with Amanda to the point of finding her most agreeable, but Amanda seemed to doubt his assessment in favor of his mother's.
Amanda had been distraught and refused to be consoled in any fashion. Despite repeated attempts, Sarek had been unable to stabilize her moods. After a several weeks of such behavior, as he was on the verge of contacting his mother to converse about the negative effects her regard appeared to be having on his wife, Amanda recovered and her behavior normalized. He was reluctant to ask what inspired such an abrupt chance in her behavior, lest he accidentally reverse the process through observation, and simply accepted the providence. His concern sparked back to life, however, several days later.
It had been before dawn, the twin suns hugged the far horizon and Alam'ak's yellow light was evidenced just below the cyan of the horizon. Amanda was gardening, as was her wont in the early hours of the day. Sarek watched her from their bedroom window; he watched as she meandered through the rows, inspecting each outcropping of vegetation with a keen eye and tending to those in need. Despite himself, Sarek enjoyed watching her preform these banal activities—the hobby was incongruous with the strict intellectualism she evidenced at the academy and in her work, it reminded him of how very tender she could be, how abruptly nurturing and gentle she was. He watched as she bent by the roses along the edge of the sun filters and frowned as she touched them each in quick, reserved motions and walked off.
He'd asked her if she felt well and she'd answered, very evenly, that she was quite fine. He watched the roses as she left for the academy and couldn't help but wonder if he'd missed something important. In all his recollection, she'd always lingered near the roses and carefully enjoyed the shape, texture, and scent of the Earth-borne flora. He'd never taken conscious stock, but he could always remember the sensation of music when she did so—did she used to sing to them? Humming to the blossoms as she tended them? He furrowed his brow as he fought to remember, but came up with no clear answer. He suppressed the myriad of emotions that this realization caused and resolved to meditate on it after his duties at the council were completed.
He kept keen watch on Amanda after that morning, cataloging her motions, her reactions, and found that he had a disturbing level of discrepancy wherein knowledge of her was concerned. Though she was his wife, he had never taken solid stock of the details surrounding her. It was with disappointment, or something akin to it, that he realized he had no solid data to compare her current state to. It seemed as though all his information about her was ephemeral and the thought caused him restlessness.
Day after day, she prepared her meals and his in silence, the placidity of her motions and expression dug at him, quietly whispering error against the back of his mind. She slept more peacefully, moved with less haste, and rarely rushed. He took solace in watching her work, bent over her desk with her hand propping up her forehead—the shadows the desk lamp threw across her face reminded him, inexplicably, of her apartment on Earth and the many evenings and mornings spent there. He found himself irrationally longing for those days and had nearly jumped when she turned to face him. Her mind pressed against his and sobered him instantly—had be projected his thoughts? Her placid expression revealed nothing and quietly frustrated him.
Amanda's somber mood continued unendingly and caused Sarek ever increasing amounts of discomfort as time passed. He realized, as he meditated on the blatant visceral distress the situation was causing him, that his wife had not smiled at him, nor kissed him in over a month. That fact alone stirred him from his meditation and brought his mind to action—he had experienced quite enough of this, and the situation had become intolerable.
"Aduna." His voice broke the silence in a nearly painful manner and his stomach turned lightly as Amanda turned to regard him—she hadn't been startled, hadn't admonished him for sneaking up on her, nor accused him of subterfuge. "I am concerned for your mental wellbeing."
"Oh?" she prompted and turned her chair to face him. She folded her hands in her lap and regarded him evenly as he stood before her. "Why are you concerned?"
"I am your husband," he replied with more vehemence than was strictly necessary. Several of the muscles in her face twitched in reaction to his tone, but they evened out quickly—how long had it been since he'd seen her with an expression? He could recall her smiling visage with more clarity than any aspect of her, but her current state was quickly overwriting those memories, despite how he clung to them.
"Forgive me," she prefaced and stood. She still had to look up at him. "I was imprecise. What I meant was, what has caused you to be concerned?" He took a step closer to her, decreasing the space between them to scant centimeters, and examined her patiently—she did not react but to blink.
"Your latent behavior is not normative," he assumed and she cocked her head to the side slightly. For a moment, the tightness in his chest subsided as he saw the muscles around her mouth pull upward. A ghost of her former smile glittered across her face and shone behind her eyes, but it was gone so quickly he might have imagined it. The ease it had inspired in his katra, however, insisted that it had been there.
"You have noticed," she commented blandly and inclined her head in thanks. "I have been trying to bring you honor."
"Explain," Sarek demanded and his brow furrowed. Her expression remained the same as she turned from him and withdrew a PADD from the top drawer of her desk. She held it out and he took it quickly. A glance at the title caused his eyebrows to rise of their own accord—he glanced up at her swiftly, his surprise nearly palpable. "The teachings of Surak?"
"Many have indicated that my emotions bring you issue," Amanda responded—though he had not heard such comments, it was clear who they'd stemmed from before she confirmed his suspicions, "T'sai T'lara has remarked encouragingly about my progress." Amanda paused and took the PADD back, placing it on her desk. "She insisted that you would be honored and my place here would be assured."
"Your place here was assured long ago," Sarek cut in as she finished. It was fortunate that his hands were hidden by the length of his robes—the manner in which he was clutching them was very, very un-Vulcan...as was the irrational surge of anger that bubbled in the pit of his stomach.
"Forgive me," Amanda replied, her eyes a little wider than they had been, "I spoke imprecisely again—."
"There can be no forgiveness for this," Sarek interrupted with a razor sharpness to his voice. The muscles in his back and shoulders tensed painfully as he fought to keep his anger in check—his own disappointment in himself mixed with the irrationality of the moment and created a strange, bitter, disgusting sensation in his torso. He'd felt something similar through their link before, during the time they'd been dating, and he recalled it with startling accuracy. He'd only gleaned it after a passing touch, reassurance to the woman who seemed torn between physical illness and self reproach. She'd called it Feeling like shit, and he now understood the idiom and the paradoxical emotions that created it. Concern mixed with guilt, self-reproach with anger, and disgust for all involved cemented the torrent into a solid, uncomfortable weight.
"Sarek?" Amanda prompted, her voice forcibly even, and the sensation within Sarek multiplied tenfold. Tentatively, she held out her right hand, her index and middle fingers held out in the traditional Vulcan kiss. The motion offended him so greatly that he all but scowled at her as he turned and left the room. So distracted was he by his own conundrum that he failed to see the pained shock on her face nor feel his emotions as they leaked across the bond between them.
Sarek retreated to the meditation chamber as he fought the unfamiliar turmoil that raced through his blood. He engaged the lock, for fear that further exposure to his wife would inspire even deeper, less controllable sentiments, and all but collapsed before the fire pot in the center of the room. He didn't light it, the idea of the familiar incense made him feel physically nauseous, but rather stared at it in an attempt to focus his thoughts on that inconsequential item. After an indeterminate amount of time—he found himself unable to access his internal time sense, and unwilling to try—he turned from the fire pot and crossed the room to the wall.
It was late already, but he did not hesitate as he pulled up the comm and attempted to establish contact at his parents' home. The link failed to connect and, without thought, he attempted it a second time. On the fifth ring of his second initiation, his father's face appeared in the display, his hand aloft and his eyebrow arched. As Skon began the traditional greeting, Sarek interrupted him, "Father, put mother on." Skon reeled momentarily and both his eyebrow slid up his forehead as he regarded his son. Wordlessly, he dropped his hand and vanished from the display. Moments later, the thin, high-boned visage of his mother appeared on screen. The angle of T'lara's eyebrows expressed a duality of confusion and concern that was unfitting of the conversation he intended to have.
"Is there an emergency, my son?" T'lara asked dryly and Sarek took a deep breath through his nose to school his voice. His mother watched him and her scrutiny was tinged with surprise.
"Yes," Sarek answered flatly, enough edge to his voice that T'lara was struck silent. "Mother," he began, his voice cold, "your behavior of late is unacceptable and the consequences of your ill considered actions have placed me in an intolerable situation."
"What?" T'lara asked, her tone clipped but curious. Sarek was well aware that he'd never addressed her in such a manner—but he spoke nothing beside the truth.
"The damage your instruction and subsequent intolerance has wrought upon my t'hy'la is unacceptable and may," Sarek hesitated and closed his eyes for a second before looking back at his mother, "may be irreparable." His mother blinked and glanced at his father off screen. "I demand an explanation of your motives and why you have failed to inform me of them nor monitor their effects."
The gravity of the situation settled in the space between the screens and Sarek's hard gaze remained, unblinking, on T'lara. He cared for her, he was her son, and she cared for him with the same depth of unspoken emotion—he could tell by the light slackening of her facial musculature and he increased dilation of her pupils that she was as affected by this situation as he. It took her fifteen seconds to answer him, and her voice projected with less strength than usual when she did.
"She professed a desire to bring our house honor," T'lara justified and Sarek felt a swell of anger as she attempted to pass the responsibility on to Amanda. "I encouraged her to follow the most logical path. She readily accepted it."
"Her desire was obvious," Sarek corrected, "she was distraught by your barely concealed reactions to her. Her perceptiveness and your lack of restraint brought about this chain of events." Sarek ignored the twinge he felt as his mother flinched slightly. "I took her as my wife—do you respect my decisions so little that you would choose to reshape my t'hy'la without discussing the idea with me? Did you not consider that my selection of her indicated my preference for her previous state of being?"
"I did not," T'lara admitted lowly and Sarek felt his ire begin to ebb away. He felt tired as the emotion bled away from him and, eventually, the hardness in his voice softened. His mother watched him evenly, awaiting his next words. His voice was laced with resignation when he spoke next.
"If this damage is irreparable, as I believe it might be," Sarek began, his weariness creeping into his cadence, "Then you may have succeeded in terminating my marriage. If this was your intent, you have achieved it with great expedience." His mother's face paled and she cocked her head forward to speak, but he could hear no more—wordlessly, he reached forward and pressed his hand flat against the display, terminating the communication.
When he'd initiated the conversation, he'd been intent upon questioning her, ascertaining her motives, and demanding that she repair the damage done. As it stood, without his anger to fuel his thoughts, he could find very few logical methods to achieve this. His mother was likely incapable of such an act and he...He could not recall more than a fleeting memory of her smiling face. His fingers tensed against the glass of the display and the last vestiges of his anger turned inward—his training unconsciously attempted to subdue the unhelpful reaction, to pull him back from the animalistic sensation, but his own failings kept that training at bay. He stood for a very long time, staring blankly into his faded reflection in the display, and his scattered thoughts slowly drew themselves together. The sensation in his stomach was lessened, but the weight of it wore on him--dread, he believed it was called.
He had to deal with his wife. He did not wish to see her, his tentative control was stretched thin at the thought, but he could feel her mind, withdrawn and small, against the back of his. As he reached for it, it pulled away, and he closed his eyes to steel himself. He left the meditation chamber with much less haste than he'd used to enter it, and hesitated as he reached the bottom of the stairs. He crushed his emotions, forcing them back and regaining a tendril of control, as he traveled toward her study. Unsurprisingly, she was not present in the small room. He inspected the lower level of the house and found nothing. His mind reached toward hers and his stomach twisted as he felt the mental distance she'd tried to force between them. Mentally, he grasped the thread of their link and followed it blindly.
She was in the garden, standing at the edge of the fence where it bordered the rocky landscape of the mountains behind the estate. As he approached, he didn't feel as though he were any closer. She had wrapped her arms around herself, her feet were bare and likely damaged by the unforgiving soil of Vulcan, and she shivered in the light evening breeze. He stepped up beside her and she flinched, taking a conscious step away, pressing herself tightly against the fencing. Her shoulders shook and she let out a short, plosive sob—it physically pained him to hear it and he reached toward her mind as lightly as he could, trying to coax it nearer. It did not come, and he flexed his fingers. He was uncertain what to do—he had no situation with which to compare this one to, no concrete methodology to apply. After several minutes, she shook and released her arms to brace them against the fence.
"God, I'm so stupid," she professed, though not to him. "I try to make your mother like me," she continued, her voice raw and her words laced with uneven breaths, "and I make you hate me in the process."
"I cannot hate you," Sarek interrupted and she let out a strangled sob as she curled against the unbending support of the fence.
"I know, you're Vulcan," she responded sadly, her voice warbling as new tears deepened the red tracks on her face. "You can't hate anyone."
The truth of that assertion cut him as clearly as an insult would have, and he nearly reached out to her. Her shoulders shook and he knew that his touch was not yet welcome. "Forgive me, I spoke imprecisely," he said slowly and she let out a bitter laugh. "I am incapable of hating you because...for many reasons," he finished unevenly and she turned to regard him. Her expression was so distraught that he couldn't prevent himself from stepping forward and wrapping his arms around her shoulders. She stiffened and would have recoiled, had the fence not been at her back.
"I tried so hard," she said flatly against his chest, "I tried to be more Vulcan, to learn how to purge emotion..." Her voice faded and her head bowed, away from his sight. He took a deep breath and pulled her closer—she relaxed, but she did not return his embrace and it caused him pain.
"Do I convey myself so poorly? The majority of my family and yours seems convinced that I wished to marry a Vulcan and selected you on accident," Sarek spoke flatly and Amanda shook as her tears fell on his robes. "It would be illogical to marry a human and expect a change in your nature."
"You don't want me to bring you honor?" Amanda asked bitterly and Sarek released her enough to look down at her wind-mussed hair.
"You bring me honor," he corrected and she looked up at him for the second time in several minutes. "It is my turn to apologize—I do not convey that fact frequently enough." Her eyes were swollen but they carried the beginnings of relief. "I desire no change in you."
"I desire no change in you too," Amanda announced and a smile split her face for the first time in far too long. As fatigued as he was, Sarek could not recall if his controls had slipped or not, but his wife forever insists that he smiled back at her as broad and beaming as she'd ever seen.