A/N: Here it is! And to all the reviewers for TVW who said thank you to me...you are all very, very welcome.
Chapter 1: One Year Later
A lot can happen in a year. It is only three hundred and sixty-five days- a small portion of time, a fraction of a lifespan- and yet those few hundred days can change everything.
This is a fact S'chn T'gai Amanda (better known as Amanda Grayson) knew well. In the space of one year she had met, fallen in love with, and married her husband. Her life- once so ordinary- had been turned upside down.
There had been many trials and tribulations during the first months of their marriage. But they made it through. They had endured. They lived on, their marriage stronger than ever- and it had been worth it. It had been worth the pain and suffering.
In the year they had been living on Earth, Amanda had never known greater harmony. The dark beginnings of their marriage coalesced into peace and happiness. They had started over, begun their marriage anew- unhampered by their past. They had moved on. They found the peace they sought. A year ago she had not thought it possible...but such was the power of hope, determination, and the passage of time.
Coming out of her blissful reverie, Amanda looked up at the antique clock on the wall that rhythmically kept time, disturbing the otherwise silent room with each resounding tick. It was 1800 hours...Sarek was probably home already.
Gathering her PADDs, she put them away in one of her desk drawers. While being an elementary school teacher did not afford much of a challenge by way of academics, she still had pile upon pile of PADDs to grade and dealt with unruly ten-year-olds on a daily basis on top of that. It was tiring and often stressful, but rewarding to watch the young children learn.
She'd hoped for a more challenging position when she first began applying to schools and institutions a year ago- perhaps a high school class at least, or maybe a tutoring program. But she didn't mind this- she'd grown to like it. The work was not too strenuous and allowed time for her other pursuits.
Amanda also attended night classes at the university, working towards a linguistics and xenocultural history doctorate. She worked days and then came home to grading and class-planning- barely had enough time to have dinner with Sarek- and then left for classes...only to return late at night and crawl into bed exhausted, falling asleep in her husband's arms within seconds.
But she enjoyed having something to do- something to work toward. For the first time she had a career and a bright future ahead of her...and while Sarek often expressed concern for her health, he supported her every inch of the way.
Her only regret was that she did not get to see him as often as she would like. He worked all day like she did, and usually made it home in time for dinner. Sometimes he did not return until she had already left for the college...the result being that until the weekend they only saw each other for about an hour a day.
The weekends, however...
"It's Friday, Sarek," she said with a tired smile as she entered his office. He looked up from his desk.
"I know what day it is, Amanda," he replied evenly.
"This means I have no class tonight. You have me all to yourself," she said, leaning over and resting her folded arms on his desk. "It's been a l-long week," she added as she yawned.
"Then I suggest you retire to bed after dinner," he replied, his voice a little softer as he looked at her again. "Amanda, you-"
"I know, I know...I work too much. But so do you." She gestured toward his desk, which was stacked high with PADDs.
"I am Vulcan. I do not require as much rest as you do. As it is, you only sleep five hours a night. A typical human requires at least eight."
"Thank you for worrying, but I'm fine," she said, smiling as she rested her chin on one hand and tilted her head at him.
"You should stay home tomorrow night. Your presence is not required at the banquet and rest is more important."
"Sarek!" She stood, staring at him in shock. "It's the biggest annual event! Every ambassador and dignitary in the Federation is going to be there- and they'll being their spouses! I can't let you go alone, you'd be the only one!"
"It is not necessary for you to go," he replied. She sighed.
"I'm going, and that's final." She crossed her arms over her chest, glaring at him.
Like all married couples, they had their spats. They'd had plenty of them in the last year...but just like this one, they were always quickly resolved. Sarek reached out, arms encircling her waist as he drew her to him and she sat on his lap. Slowly, her arms unfolded and she sighed.
"Damn you," she said fondly and his arms tightened around her.
"I'm going. Final answer," she said, placing her arms around his neck.
"Why must you always insist?"
"Why must you?" she retorted and she could have sworn she saw the corners of his lips lift slightly.
"Very well. Since you insist I will allow you to go."
"You'll allow me?" she asked, eyebrows rising.
"I planned to administer a nerve pinch to prevent you from it."
"You always know what to say to make a woman feel loved," she said sarcastically. She kissed him before pulling away and changing the angle to kiss him again. "Come to bed, Sarek. We can have a late dinner afterward," she murmured.
"It is tempting, but I must finish my work," he replied, pulling away. "Later, Amanda."
"All right...but after dinner I'll be waiting for you upstairs. Don't you dare keep me waiting." She placed a hand on his cheek, caressing it gently before moving off his lap.
"It is not in my nature to keep you waiting," he replied. She smiled as she kissed him again and began to back toward the door.
"I'm going to go help T'Shan with dinner. It should be done in an hour...and by then you'd better be in that dining room, and you'd better hurry up and eat. If not I might be forced to drag you upstairs."
He did not reply but she felt his agreement over the bond and she smiled. He looked forward to the weekends as well. Friday evening to Sunday evening was reserved for them only- other than the occasional banquet or party they were invited to, they stayed home and enjoyed each other's company with no work to interfere. Those weekends kept them both- or at least her- from going insane.
Giving him one last small smile she turned around and exited his office.
She was fortunate. She had a career in progress and a husband who could at times be difficult, but loved her and was truly concerned about her. She even had friends again- women whom she'd met at the numerous diplomatic events and occasionally went out with. She had everything she could possibly ask for...
And yet there was still something missing.
She wasn't sure when this realization came, exactly...perhaps with her miscarriage of the year before. It made her wonder; if it could have been somehow prevented, what would the child have looked like? Would it have been a boy or a girl? What would it have grown up to be? A scientist and diplomat, like its father? Or more like her? Or something else entirely?
Over time, as they healed from the wound dealt to them by nature, she had become increasingly curious about the possibility of having a child. There were no guarantees it was possible but she had done research. Many interspecies couples had been able to have children, although admittedly their biology was not as different as that between Vulcans and humans. It had never been attempted...but surely with some help it would be possible?
The thought of a half-Vulcan, half-human child filled her with warmth. She wanted a family...she wanted to have a child- for both her and Sarek. The desire had grown from mere curiosity to an almost painful longing- certainly not helped by the fact that she was surrounded by children all day long. Most teachers complained that teaching children made them not want any of their own- but the exact opposite was true for Amanda. It made her think almost constantly about it.
Their marriage had finally settled into a state of contentment, and even though she was still going to school she saw no reason not to start a family...she could still attend night classes, or complete them online like she had with her Bachelor's degree. She knew she had plenty of time- she was only twenty-four- but the yearning was too great to ignore. She simply didn't want to wait.
If Sarek had sensed these thoughts and desires in one of the melds they engaged in every few weeks, he did not comment on it. Nor did she bring it up. She knew he was waiting for her to address the issue in her own time and she would...eventually.
Truth be told, she was afraid to discuss it with him. The thought made no sense, but she simply didn't want to confront him about it. Would he agree? Try to talk her out of it? Did he want a child at all? She knew he'd been just as sad as she when she lost the first one...but did he want to try again?
Amanda knew she couldn't avoid it forever. If she wanted to start a family she had to talk to him about it. Yet every time she'd tried to bring it up over the last few months, something stopped her. Despite her own deep desire for a child she wasn't just afraid of discussing it with Sarek...part of her was afraid of being let down. She wanted it so much...what if it turned out to be impossible? While she was happy enough with it just being the two of them, they didn't seem complete to her. Finding out that it was impossible for them to conceive would crush her.
But she had to do it. They had to at least try...she had to talk to him about it. And she knew that time was nearing.
The banquet was held by the Federation president every year to encourage relations between planets. What she'd said was true- every dignitary in the Federation would be there, and they would bring their spouses. She'd gone with him the year before and despite his protests would go again.
"I still maintain that you should rest this evening instead," Sarek said as he pulled on a pair of boots, sitting on the edge of the bed. She could see his reflection behind her in the mirror.
"I am your wife," she pointed out as she smoothed down the blue silk gown she'd donned for the occasion. "How would it look if you went without me? The media would immediately jump to conclusions. I can see the headline already: Trouble in Paradise. With a big question mark on the end. Then they'll wait at the gates for us to make a comment on Monday. And of course- since you insist on silence- we won't answer and that will fuel speculation."
She'd become very familiar with the workings of the media since meeting him. She'd finally gotten used to it though, and was no longer bothered by their constant inquiries and nosiness. She ignored it. They were the least of her problems.
"I could easily issue a statement saying that you are in need of rest."
"Then they'll jump to an entirely different conclusion," she said. "They'd probably think I'm pregnant."
There was a silence after this statement as she studied his reflection. Sarek said nothing as he stood and straightened his robes, not looking at her. She wasn't sure what she had expected, but that was not the response she'd been looking for.
She turned around to face him. "So how do I look?"
"Pleasing, as always," he replied.
"Just 'pleasing'?" she asked, sliding her arms around him.
"I do not know what else you expect me to say."
"Beautiful, sexy, ravishing," she said with a smile.
"I see no logical reason to tell you that which you already know," he said. She laughed as she pulled away and he led her toward the door.
Diplomatic events were another aspect of their life she had grown accustomed to. There were times when she still felt awkward and made a few small mistakes- but it was never anything that could not be easily rectified and for the most part she played her role well.
She'd met a lot of interesting people at these events and had even made friends with some of them. They tried to keep in touch outside of social occasions and when they met up she always had a good time. It was a relief to have them to talk to, as she did not particularly enjoy standing around listening to the uninteresting conversations Sarek conducted with other diplomats.
They always entered together but after being introduced to a few new people she excused herself from Sarek's side and joined the other women. This function was no different, and a few minutes after their arrival she turned to him.
"I'm going to find the interesting people to talk to," she said. He raised his eyebrows.
"Am I not interesting, Amanda?" he asked.
"Not when you're talking about how high interplanetary import taxes are," she replied with a teasing smile. "Don't worry, you'll get a chance to show me how interesting you are later tonight," she told him over the bond. He did not reply but she took his silence for assent.
She left him to his own mingling as she crossed the hall, joining another woman by the refreshment table.
"Amanda," greeted the Betazoid with a nod and warm smile.
"Always a pleasure to see you again, Axana," Amanda replied.
"You are happy," Axana said, peering at Amanda closely. "And yet..."
"Stop reading my emotions," Amanda said, frowning. "You know I don't like that."
"When I am surrounded by others in a setting like this, it is much more difficult to control my telepathy," Axana replied, sipping from her glass.
"Where's Keris?" she asked.
"I think she and her husband are stranded in a distant sector. They were delayed and will not make it. How is Ambassador Sarek?"
"As you can see, he's perfectly fine," Amanda said, gesturing toward where he stood conversing with the chairman of the Vulcan High Council.
She shrugged. "Busy. Juggling work and classes isn't easy, you know. But I'm managing."
"I did not mean that," Axana said archly. "I meant how are you emotionally."
"I'm fine, too," she replied but as she said it she glanced at Sarek- remembering what had been tugging at the back of her conscience for months...
"If you were fine, what is troubling you would not be radiating off you with such power," Axana replied, raising an eyebrow as her black eyes bored into Amanda's.
"It's personal," Amanda said, frowning.
"Ah," Axana said, casting a look over at Sarek.
"We're not fighting or anything," Amanda said quickly. "Our marriage is fine. Not that it's any of your business."
"So the issue is you," Axana concluded. "And whatever it is you have not told him."
"I really don't want to talk about this with you," Amanda said.
"You know that as a Betazoid, I will be brutally honest with you," she said. "You can't keep what is troubling you from him. I do not need to know what it is to know it's important to you. The longer you keep it from him the worse your fears will become. I know this because I feel the emotions of all those around me- I know humans hide behind fear. I consider you a friend and would not want you to fall to that same error."
Amanda didn't reply. She looked at Sarek once again. He nodded at something the chairman said and as the elder Vulcan turned away, Sarek looked up at her. Their eyes met across the hall, and she gave him a small smile. Although he could not return the gesture, his eyes did soften- like they always did when he looked at her. He began to make his way toward her.
"I pity a marriage in which a wife cannot even overcome her fear to confide in her life mate," Axana said quietly before Sarek was within hearing range.
Drawing in a breath to prepare a reply, Amanda looked over at the Betazoid- but she was already gone, making her way toward her own husband. When she turned back Sarek was before her.
"Dinner is to be served in ten minutes. We should find our places," he said. She nodded mutely, thinking about Axana's words as he led her through the open archway and into a hall filled with round tables set for a dozen guests each.
The banquet was like so many others they had attended. There was a dinner, musical entertainment provided by a popular Bajoran orchestra; speeches and afterward more mingling amongst the guests...
When she went to her first of such engagements on Vulcan, she'd been a nervous wreck. Now she found it much easier- even enjoyable. It was a chance to practice some of the languages she had learned, and learn more from the native speakers. Other than Axana, she knew and conversed easily with dozens of the other women. She found it much easier to talk to them than to the men, and many of them were politicians themselves.
There had been a time when everyone- including her- thought she would never fit into this life. But she was adjusting...still learning and still adapting...but improving. Socializing in such a setting was becoming almost second nature to her.
After hours of smiling and conversing and being the best socialite she could, she was more than ready to go home. So when they said their polite goodbyes to the Federation president (who was not as intimidating as she had expected) she was relieved.
All the way home she thought about what Axana had said. She blocked the thoughts from Sarek- a trick he had taught her that would allow her privacy even when the bond was open- but he seemed to know something was wrong.
"You have been unusually quiet this evening," he said as they entered their bedchamber.
"I'm just tired," she said. It wasn't a lie- she was tired.
He did not reply and they did not speak again as she changed into a silk nightgown. He sat in a chair by the window and picked up his ka'athyra, plucking at the strings rather distractedly. As she took the pins out of her hair and it tumbled down around her shoulders, she looked over at him. He seemed to be deep in thought, his eyes slightly unfocused as he frowned down at the instrument.
Axana was right. She couldn't keep her desires from him forever- and she shouldn't let her fear of what he might say or her fear of being let down prevent her from it. The longer she delayed, the less likely she was to ever get the courage to bring it up.
Hesitating one last time, she went to him. Her bare feet padded against the floor quietly until she stood before him. He looked up as she took the ka'athyra from his lap and replaced it with her own weight.
"I've been thinking a lot about something the last several months," she said.
"A strange occupation for a human," he replied. She knew it was his idea of a light joke- a form of teasing they traded back and forth. But tonight she was in no mood for teasing. He seemed to notice this when she remained silent, not returning the barb. "What is it, Amanda?" he asked gently, drawing her closer and stroking her hair.
"Sarek..." How to say it? How could she say the words she'd wanted to say for months? Now that the moment had come she couldn't seem to voice it...
He waited, watching her patiently. When she did not speak for a while, he squeezed her hip reassuringly. Coming back to herself and meeting his gaze, she wet her lips and took a deep breath. This was Sarek, for God's sake. She could say it to him.
"I want to have a baby."