As a Reminder and a Promise
Unlike her study, which she used largely as an office, Sarek never worked in his, instead keeping an office on the ground floor. This was a real study, something of a meditation chamber. There was practically no furniture in this room. One wall of windows opened to the same jagged view of the Llangon mountains as their bedroom. One wall, carved out of the rock of the hills behind them, held a hearth, flanked by stylized lematya carvings, their teeth bared in permanent snarls, idols guarding the glowing red rocks of the meditation flames. Sarek preferred the sentry point for his meditations, and a glowing red sky or starfield. He used this room mostly in winter when it was too cold, or during sandstorms or Vulcan's rainy monsoon season. The red meditation flames were traditional tools used in the disciplines, as well as a reminder of Vulcan's savage past, a warning to master control.
One wall held shelves, some ancient clan texts, writings on the disciplines every Vulcan strove to master. And to counter that, an assortment of ancient weapons, personal family heirlooms, lirpas with razor sharp smooth and serrated edges, daggers, swords, the ahn-woon, and other reminders of Vulcan's violent past. There were some modern accoutrements of society – behind one ancient tapestry of Sarek's clan shield held a media screen, and communication access. Lematya carvings in corners of the room held speakers. There was even a limited servitor, for tea and some light prepared foods, held in stasis.
This room was meant to be self sustaining, at least for a short while.
And before the hearth, a thick rug made of the silky, springy tassel of a grain plant. And an assortment of cushions and bolsters.
Sarek sometimes meditated here, cross legged, sunk deep in Vulcan trance. Sometimes he read the ancient texts he stored here. Or when Vulcan sandstorms or monsoons were at their height and no one ventured out, the Vulcan equivalent of snow days, when even he had finished his work, or needed a break, he might relax in here, read on a portable viewer, sprawled on the rug before the flickering flames, while listening to the swish or patter of sand or rain against the Fortress' stone walls or a symphony or concern on the media screen. For him it was more of a den than a study, and given his busy schedule, one he seldom had leisure to use.
But she rarely came in here. For it had another purpose.
Sarek usually brought her here at least once during Pon Far, at the height of the fever, when his control was least sure. Took her on the silky rug before the hearth, under the lematya's snarls, the fireglow winking off the gleaming edges of the weapons, Vulcan's past reaching forward to claim Vulcan's present. The meditation flame a reminder to control. Why he brought her here.
Just the sight of this room made her pulse beat faster, her mouth go dry. At that stage of Pon Far, she didn't dare do anything, didn't risk anything, which might joggle his control. He was never violent in Pon Far, not like he'd been in vrie. But even an inadvertent move on her part, a jig when she should have jogged, could cause him to bruise her, when his strength was barely leashed, so untempered.
Sarek looked down at her, and she reminded herself he was not in Pon Far now. She smiled at him.
He laid her down before the hearth, came down beside her, his expression grave, considering. "Amanda."
It was even a shock to hear him speak in this room. He was never in a state for words when they were usually in here. Vulcan males in the fever did not speak. Much of their higher reasoning was short-circuited by the fever. Gone. They didn't really understand speech either, not at the height of it, not until the worst of the fever was past. At least, she'd seen no evidence that he really understood her when she spoke to him then. She was reminded anew of why Sarek strove so hard for control. Clung so to their traditions.
"I have told you there will be no more lessons."
She still found that hard to accept, still couldn't have been more shocked than if he'd said he was leaving her.
"You're really sure?"
"Indeed. There will be no more lessons. For you." He reached down and began to undo her hair, fussy as always not to pull a strand. "But I am Vulcan, and my control is most at issue here Operant conditioning…is quite effective… for Vulcans as well as humans." He finished undressing her, rose, dropped her clothes on a shelf and shed his own clothes, a Vulcan strip tease, totally unconscious of it, his eyes pinned to her, roving down her. She felt her own breath coming fast.
He came down beside her, kneeling next to her. "But for me…I will endeavor to use those tools in another way. We will…make love…here. We will even…play here. Pleasant associations. Pleasant conditioning. So that in the fever, I will remember - be preconditioned to associate - that human love can withstand even Vulcan passion. That even our games of mock aggression end in love, in mating. Not in fear and hurt. Yes?"
She breathed out, a sigh of relief. "Yes. Oh, yes."
He took her hand in his, slid fingers to fingers, Vulcan style, and then raised her hand to his lips in a kiss. And then settled down beside her.
She drew a breath. It was all still a little overwhelming, the red glow of the flames winking across the razor sharp blades of the weapons, the silky feel of the rug under her bare skin, and the scalding warmth of Sarek's skin as he moved to cover her. He kissed her and she indulged herself with a hand behind his head, fingers carding through his crisp curls, careful to avoid the tender spot where he'd bumped it. For a moment she drew her other arm around his neck, hugging him to her, fierce and tight. She still couldn't get close enough. Bonded or not, love aside, she never felt close enough She rather hoped she'd never lose that feeling. And then, indulgence aside, she steeled herself back to discipline, drew her arms behind her head, crossing her wrists as she'd done thousands of times before.
Sarek drew back, looked at her. "Amanda, no."
"It's all right," she assured him, remembering he'd be wary of her wrist, the recent break. "It doesn't hurt."
He took her hands in his and drew them down. "No. You as yet do not understand me." He held her hands gently in his for a moment, and then released them. A starling, flying free.
This was a bigger shock than his announcement that there would be no more lessons. This he'd done from the first days of their marriage. Even outside of lessons, he invariably pinned her wrists at some point during their lovemaking. "Really?"
"I will not say never," Sarek said, grave and yet still teasing her, even in this. "You have taught me the folly of that, and I have my own passions. But never …deliberately."
"Oh, Sarek," she couldn't help herself, she couldn't hardly believe it, or realized, now that it was past, how much it meant. How much it had bothered her, after all these years. She flung her arms around his neck and kissed him so fiercely she bore him back, down against the silky rug. Covering him. She didn't realize what she'd done until she drew back from the kiss, to meet her husband's amused eyes. He sat up, one hand going to the back of his head. She met his eyes, her face flaming to rival the flickering flames of the fire idol. At least she'd pushed him down against a pillow.
"Oh, your poor head. Did I hurt you?"
"Amanda. You never cease to amaze me."
"I…I'm sorry." If she had done that before, in a lesson situation, or even out of one, she might have earned herself a lesson or two or three, depending where Sarek was in his cycle, and how strict he was being, to teach her better control. And in here? She deserved a lifetime of them. She mentally kicked herself. The very minute he let her loose from those restrictions, she did something stupid.
"There is no need to apologize." He tumbled her down beside him, underneath him, and kissed her in turn, but with more control. "I am pleased my wife desires me. Still."
"Always. Sarek, I really am very sorry."
"Perhaps I was in error."
She eyed him, wondering if she really had blown it.
"Indeed, I believe I have long been in error," Sarek continued, looking more amused than grave, his hand absently caressing her face, her cheek. But not reaching to pin her anew. She held her breath, wondering. Waiting for what he would do, say next.
"Perhaps control is simply something humans can never learn. Should not learn." He flicked a finger down and off her nose, in teasing reproof. "Even as I have demonstrated exemplary control on my own behalf."
"Not!" she accused.
Sarek sighed. "I have of course been forced by human biological tendencies to keep my wife…sufficiently engaged. It has been a continual trial. Yet one to which I long ago promised fealty. Fortunately it is one to which I have never failed to…rise."
"You!" She was half outraged, half amused in turn. Even to his use of the word never, beginning to be a watchword for them, loaded with special meaning. "You may need to start pinning me down again if you are going to talk like that."
"Indeed. But I have already said I will not do so. And must thus take the consequences of your unbridled, unruly emotions…my very human wife."
That did it. The Vulcan gargoyles could raise their brows in shock, she didn't care. Those last words were, had long been – in their shared history and in this type of situation - fighting words. A direct challenge. An invitation to play. Sarek apparently didn't plan to waste any time in starting their new lessons. And she had six months of buried aggression of her own to work through. And this was as pleasant a way as any to expunge it. She took advantage of the tacit invitation and launched herself at her very Vulcan husband. His poor head aside.
And he answered her in kind. "Just try, my wife. Even kicking and screaming will not help you." And the game was on in earnest.
She squealed and squirmed free – he let her of course - and she struggled to her feet, kicking out when he grabbed at an ankle, safer than her wrist for him, she flying to escape him. There was no furniture to put between her and him, her usual tactic, trying to avoid his longer reach, so she ran out on the balcony, where there were a few chairs and tables. After giving her a bit of a head start, he then chased her. They played a brief but very silly game of keep-away tag before she was laughing so hard she was out of breath, betrayed by her sore ribs and the thin air. Not so hampered, he caught her, picked her up, kissed her even more breathless under the Vulcan sky, before carrying her back to the silky rug. Laying her gently down before the hearth.
Fighting, even in play, now far from both their minds.
And as she wrapped her arms around her husband's neck, no unpleasant associations from the past plagued her mind, or his.
This kind of lesson, she could handle.
This kind of lesson, she'd thank even Surak for.
Even Jane would approve of an engagement that lasted throughout one's marriage.
And as he drew her under him, if the lematyas guarding the flames looked at them askance, these lematya were blessedly silent.
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As a Reminder and a Promise
April – July 2005
slightly revised March/April 2011
References – Holography 3: As a Reminder and a Promise
Austen, Jane, Collected Letters
Austen, Jane, Emma
Austen, Jane, Love and Friendship
Austen,Jane, Mansfield Park
Barry,Philip, The Philadelphia Story
Brothers Grimm, Cinderella
Carroll, Lewis (aka, Dodgson, Charles), Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There
Henry, O, (aka Porter, William Sydney) " Gift of the Magi" The Four Million, 1906
Hilton,James, Lost Horizon, Morrow, NY, 1933
Kerr, Jean, Please Don't Eat The Daisies, Doubleday and Co., NY, 1954
McGinley, Phyllis, "In Praise of Diversity", Times Three, Viking Press, NY 1960
Saki (aka Munro, H. H.), "Reginald on Besetting Sins, the Woman Who Told the Truth", Reginald, 1904
Shakespeare, William, Hamlet
Shakespeare, William, Romeo and Juliet
Shakespeare, William, Sonnet 29
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All original material in this novel copyright Pat Foley 2005
Please do not distribute, repost or archive elsewhere without permission of the author. As Tolkien said, courtesy at least to living authors requires that one ask.