Acutely aware of a pounding headache and unique muscle soreness he'd not had in many years, Sarek began to wake in his mind, his eyes remaining closed as the light of Nevasa filtered through the window slowly across his face. The thought of opening them just hurt too much. He tried to center his mind, but the fuzziness prevented it.

What had he been doing to find himself in such a state of disarray? Why was it so difficult think? What time was it? As the last vestiges of the blood fever trickled through his body, he suddenly remembered. Oh yes. That.

No longer an unrelenting fire, it was an annoying singe along his tendons. His back was sore, he was bruised on his arms and legs, and the musculature utilized by his groin ached unhappily. He lifted the bed linens enough to look down and see the terrific mess of 'after', and then glanced to his right and saw her.

Reaching out across their bond, he looked for any pain or indication of sustained injury. When none was found, he relaxed and watched her sleep. A soft snore, not unlike that of their first meeting in the library of the Explorer, drifted around her. There were dark circles under her eyes, and she looked exhausted. She had kept the covenant she made with him at the ceremony, and at their bonding.

She saw him through The Fires, and done so with skill and clarity. As he lay watching her sleep, his mind continued to clear, and then he remembered. Everything. All of it. In intense detail…

it began with his family accompanying him from the east, while T'Lyra and T'Ren joined Amanda from the west at the family's ancient marriage grounds serving again, as in millennia past, to observe the decision made, and its uniquely permanent consequences.

When he entered the inner circle, cymbals ringing loudly, the last vestiges of logical control slipped out of his grasp. All he could see was her. In front of him. Surrounding him. In his mind. In his everywhere. She was all he wanted. A deafening vibration thundered in his body as the blood fever surged through his brain and his body began to tremble. His family observed silently as Amanda approached him.

T'Pau, ever suspicious, challenged Amanda's resolve abruptly. Internally, he could not believe she would do such a thing. Amanda had accepted the responsibility, willingly and with compassion. Why would T'Pau interfere now?

"Thee are an out-worlder, a child, profaning this holy place, and absent of understanding the consequences. Thee are ignorant to place thyself in danger - " the Matriarch charged callously until Amanda interrupted her in well-mastered, High Golic.

"O'pid-kom heh O'komekh, rai lasha la fai-tukh-fam nash-veh. Osvot-k'saven-tor nash-veh. Puthukau fi'rishau ish nam-tor nash-veh. Osvot-sep-wafikh nash-veh, heh dungi-katau ish fna-nash-sonesh. Ish se t'nash-veh heh dungi-ish ma nash-veh!

(Honored Matriarch and Mother, I do not arrive here without knowledge. I am fully instructed and I am focused on his survival. I agree completely and I will bring him through this madness. I burn with him. He is mine, and I shall have him.)

Those in attendance simply watched as the Terran female asserted herself. No one had ever dared to interrupt T'Pau, and they saw true human strength, instead of assuming human weakness.

"K'yontau ish nash-veh. Olau nash-veh olau ish, fai-tor bolayalar ish. Ish adun t'nash-veh heh potau dungi kling nash-veh s'ish, wa'du. Dvel-tor Sarek nash-veh, heh dvel-tor ish i."

(I burn for him! I feel what he feels, know his needs. He is my adun, No one will keep me from him - not even you. I want no other. I choose him, and I choose him now.)

Her hands began to tremble as the pain burst fresh into her mind, overwhelming her usually calm demeanor. Clenching her fists, she continued as the fever burned hotter than she imagined possible.

"Fator yontau etwel po tor du, T'Pau? Kin'rer t'du se rai olozherkaik!"

(Why do you allow our burning to continue, T'Pau? Your cruelty is illogical!)

The elder matriarch simply observed her, a dawning understanding of the truth expressed in the young one's challenge. She hadn't anticipated a q'omi to fall into the flames. Rising quickly, she strode toward Amanda, her hand outstretched, and initiated a meld with her momentarily, drawing it back in surprise.

This was not possible. "Thee burns with him..."

Amanda nodded her head silently, fighting the urge to fall to her knees, unwilling to grant T'Pau the satisfaction, and snarled in response to T'Pau's surprise

"Snertau k'etwel kal'I'farr rai weht!"

(Interfere with our marriage no longer.)

Sitting up gently, Sarek's body reminded him of its displeasure with their strenuous activities as he stretched gently, flexing slowly. He stood, unashamedly naked in front of the windows in his family's ancient place of Seclusion, now for the second time. The first time, T'Rea abandoned him. Now, his true aduna remained.

A primal urge to protect her radiated through his psyche. After attending hygiene and satisfying a days-long hunger for copious amounts of solid food, he went to meditate. As he lit the cold meditative brazier and cast incense inside, he settled down into ikapirak, and began his first stage of meditation, tal t'li. he found the meditative state forming rapidly, finding her sleeping mind at the center of is katra.

She finally decided the quiet was what had awakened her, opposed to the raucous noise of his fevered mind in recent days. Amanda realized she was alone in the bed, and as the sunlight finally began to filter toward her, she decided she needed to rise and attend her own physical needs. The past four days had been a foggy whirlwind of outrageous balance…

after Amanda essentially told T'Pau what she could do with the Le Matya she had ridden to the ceremony, Amanda and Sarek were transported to his family's ancient place of Seclusion.

Having heeded Dr. Corrigan's instructions five days prior, Amanda had packed some essentials, including medkits with pain relief and hormone injections to make things a little 'easier' for her, food that did not need additional preparation, additional water and vitamin supplements, and, just in case, a tranquilizer that would render even the most vivacious Vulcan inert for a minimum of 12 hours.

Daniel had also supplied her with a mediband that she would wear while in Seclusion, so that if she were injured, they could get to her quickly.

"Dr. Corrigan, this does not inspire my confidence," she smiled.

"Amanda, we've got so little data on this aspect of reproductive biology," he replied, giving her a broad-spectrum antibiotic hypo, "we need to plan for all contingencies. Here's a medical priority beaming transponder, should either of you need it."

"Ok, is there anything else I need?"

"No, I don't think so… water, food, meds, 'blow darts'," he laughed, "sincerely, I think everything is ready. I will ensure this is transported to the location before the ceremony, so you'll have no worries. I have a theory, and it's a wild one, but hear me out?"

"Always."

"Biochemically speaking, he will undergo a substantial physical alteration. The difficulty he'll have is reconciling his urges with his logic as it diminishes. You know him better than I, but if your instinct tells you to be assertive, do it. If you think prescribing for him how things should happen will be best, do it. Loss of logical thought does not mean violence or insanity, and my theory is that he will respond emotionally.

"Whenever you can, initiate and keep him paced that was. Remember, you are an emotional being, so use that to your advantage…we're human, we marinate in emotion. Also, combine as many necessary activities as you can. You've got to eat, drink water, and use facilities. Keep it quick and efficient. It's my theory, at least."

Sarek had been beamed into a different location of the ancient home than she had, so she proactively utilized a hormone shot, a vitamin shot, and downed a large bottle of water before she went in search of him. She could hear him in her mind as she sought him out, and it was heartbreaking.

/Where are you? I burn, aduna, I need you now!/

/I am here, my love. I am coming to Thee./

She followed the sounds of intense pain moaning through the stone shelter. She rounded the corner and found him on his knees, trembling. She felt the hot rush of fever flow through him with renewed strength and he cried out in agony.

"My love, I'm here," she whispered in his ear as she embraced him.

His skin was white-hot, and he was drenched with sweat. "Ashal-veh," he mumbled as he grasped onto her shoulders.

She was grateful T'Lyra had taught her how to style her hair so it was less likely to get pulled. "Come with me, k'diwa," she whispered as she led him to the bed chamber.

Waking a few hours later, she saw the trail of clothes that casually made their way from the threshold to the bed, the shattered lamp, and the torn blanket. She remembered the first three times, but was exhausted, and chose to steal away to the bathroom and care for her hygiene.

Once that was managed, she tip-toed into the kitchen and prepared rough cut fruit and raw vegetables, kasa juice, and a large pitcher of water, bringing it all back into the bedchamber. Filling unbreakable tumblers with a mix of water and juice, she set the bowl of food onto the stone table, grabbed some, and went to him, waking him.

"Sarek, it's time to eat. Wake up," stepping back as he raged upward from a dead sleep. "It is only me. Eat now."

"I am not hungry," he bellowed, refusing her offering.

"You require nourishment. You will eat, Sarek. Do it now."

"No!"

"If you don't want food, what do you want?"

"I require thee! Now!"

"You want me? Then you eat first, and don't even think about knocking this out of my hand," she said, handing him the glass and bowl.

He looked at her momentarily, and then took them, albeit abruptly. "How dare you suggest what I will and will not do?"

She just looked at him. "You can be angry if you like, but you will eat and drink before we start again, Sarek."

"You cannot tell me what to do, woman," he muttered, as he ate the food she told him to eat.

She watched him with sympathy. "Whatever you say. Eat," she answered, giving him more fruit.

Glaring, he accepted it and consumed it as quickly as he could, and then downed the entire glass and cast the tumbler aside as she pushed him assertively back on the bed.

"Hear me now, husband," she said, straddling his hips, sitting on his upper thighs, "you do as I say."

An enticing smile crawled across his face as she began to work her magic.

Three more days of sex, a smattering of sleep, sex, hygiene under his vehement protestations, sex, bathroom time, sex, more food and sex at the same time, a nap ended by sex, and then more sex… it had been decidedly surreal.

She had not ever seen that kind of overwhelming physical activity with any lover before. Perhaps that was the point. He was her adun, not just a lover, and he had committed himself to her for the remainder of their lives together.

As she stood in the bathroom, she began to cry. For the first time in her life, she realized she was a part of something so unique and precious and perfect in its imperfections; and she wept. He stayed when all others abandoned her.

Sarek's meditation was welcomed respite as he transitioned into a deep state of contemplation. After the past days of the fever, and the weeks that built up to it, his mind settled into logical thought and the serenity that accompanied it. Working through the meditative sequences, an echo far away flashed through his mind, weeping. His eyes opened carefully, as it resounded again. It was her.

He rose and walked through the dwelling, listening, and discovered she was in the bathroom. Discerning she was not in pain or injured, he chose to wait until she came out. He began thinking about why she cried, and was confused.

He stayed? Where would he have gone? Why would he abandon his wife? That was illogical…

No, it is perfectly logical, he thought. We have both been abandoned. That which we thought was, in fact, was not.

but Sarek … he stayed…drifted through his mind.

He decided to pen his response to her; technology could not serve this duty. Selecting a piece of ageless stationary and settling his favorite pen in his left hand, he indulged. Once satisfied with the thoughts he wanted to convey, he waited for the ink to dry, folded the paper carefully, and wrote "Aduna" across the front. He quietly walked into the bedchamber and placed it on top of the clothes she had set out to wear for the day, and then left to respect the privacy he'd invaded the past week.

Having finally recovered from her ugly cry in the bathroom, Amanda looked in the mirror, finding herself a hot mess.

Grayson, the others left because they were immature, unmotivated, and selfish… she thought to herself

She decided on a braid for her hair – it was less likely to get pulled by the surly Vulcan – if he were still surly, of course. She didn't feel the fever at all anymore, but chose to err on the side of caution. Returning to dress, she found a handwritten note. Such beautiful penmanship… with a distinct, left-handed lean. Her hands trembled as she opened it.

Ashayam t'nash-veh,

Dvel-tor tu nash-veh heh rai toria'tal heh afsakau nash-veh skilamu t'du. Dom zhal-tor nash-veh vi'kaluk, nahplar nash-veh fi'fik t'du, svi't'du. Aitlu nash-veh glazhau svi'bezuhnlar t'dulu'wuh'rak katelaya klimtau samek temoklar pa'katra t'du, klashau ashenau po'wuh'rak thrap t'nash-veh.

I'asal, tusa du po'fai'ei potau t'ugayalar t'nash-veh.

Nirsh Whl'q'n ugau-tor hagik, tan-tor fonn'es sahris, il kal'i'farr tun-bosh-fam wh'ltri.

Rai svik-tor nash-veh du: aduna t'nash-veh, hakiv t'nash-veh, kya t'nash-veh. Dvel-tor trashu kupi-nash-veh s'du, t'esh katra t'nash-veh, ha?

Amanda – dvel-tor nash-veh du.

(My Beloved,

You chose me and not the challenge, declaring me your champion. So I whispered in your ear, thoughts of me on top of you, inside of you. I desired to look into your eyes when our joining melted the cold walls around your soul, the guard you raised after my First Offense.

On this morning, you wept because I kept my promise.

No Vulcan makes promises easily, grants loyalty quickly, or marries without careful meditation. I will never abandon you: my wife, my life, my existence. How could I wish to depart from the very breath of my soul?

Amanda, I choose Thee.)

He sensed her, focused upon translation over their bond, and then the wash of what she would later term for him as 'happy tears' moved over her. Standing quietly in the door way, he watched her as she held it tightly in her hands, reading it again and again. He saw only the beauty of who she was in that moment. Her physical traits meant nothing to him. Only her mind, character, her heart.

/I am with Thee, Aduna./

She turned to see him half in the threshold, half in the hallway. He looked himself: calm, at peace, serene.

"How are you doing this morning?"

"It has passed. I find it satisfying to retain my thought and reason," he paused, visually seeking permission to join her. "I must know, are you well? Have I harmed you?"

"I am many things right now, but harmed is not one of them," she stood and joined him at the window.

After a moment he turned to her. "I thank you for your protection in these past days. You were, assertive."

Looking back into the beautiful hazel regarding her, her blue smiled. "It's my honor. I do not make promises easily, grant loyalty quickly, or marry without careful thought."

He leaned toward her, resting his forehead on hers as she continued. "Sarek, I chose Thee."