Title: The Desert
Author: Starfleetdream

Series: NEW TOS
Codes: Sa/Am
Rating: [K]
Disclaimer: Don't own, don't profit
Feedback: Yes, please
Summary: An outing early in their relationship

The Desert


It had been an exceptionally cold and damp summer. Mark Twain's ancient quip, "the coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco," rang true anew as chilly layers of marine fog rolled over the city day after day. During the sunnier winter, Amanda and Sarek had walked for hours in Golden Gate Park, but now the colder temperatures and higher humidity made Amanda loathe to suggest they continue, knowing it had to be uncomfortable for Sarek. For a time she proposed indoor venues for their weekly excursions.

Then one day when they were scheduled for a repeat visit to the New Palace of Fine Arts, she came to his office, her eyes dancing with anticipation. "I have an alternative plan for today, if you're game."

"If I am -?"

"Game. Willing to try something. It's nothing outrageous, I promise!"

"I suppose I am willing to try something that is not outrageous. Where will we be going?"

"Back over to Golden Gate Park - but I won't make you walk around in the cold." Sarek raised his brows inquiringly, but she only laughed, "You'll have to wait. It's a surprise!"

"Surprises are illogical." She merely placed a finger over her lips and smiled conspiratorially over her shoulder as he accompanied her out the door.

Once they arrived at the park, Amanda piloted the flitter to the vast complex of buildings that housed the Academy of Sciences. Parts of it were several hundred years old, but others were quite new. She led them toward a more modern cluster of tall, domed structures, "Terran Biospheres" emblazoned over the cluster entrance. Once inside, they passed underneath a large wall mural depicting the major habitats found on Earth's surface, and entered a hall ringed by airlock-like entrances to adjoining domes. There were lines of people waiting to enter some of the domes, such as "Tropical Rainforest" and "Alpine Glacier," but the one Amanda led them to had no line: "Desert."

The attendant at the door took the pass Amanda handed him and momentarily looked askance at Sarek's long robes, then shrugged. "Please stay on the marked path. It will lead you through eight different desert habitats found on Earth. Take care to remain adequately hydrated. The exhibit closes at five o'clock. Water bottle or sunscreen tablet?" he offered. Amanda accepted both; Sarek declined.

As they stepped through the second door they were greeted with a warm, dry breeze. Amanda read from the display nearest them. "Southwestern North America, high desert. Current temperature 115 degrees, humidity 6%." She turned to him, "It's not quite Vulcan, but it's better than what you've been experiencing locally lately."

Sarek was momentarily taken aback. She had been thinking of his comfort in bringing him here? Before he could think of what to say she removed the light jacket that covered her sleeveless dress. "That's better," she breathed, taking a sip from her water bottle. Sarek studiously examined a group of plants to his left rather than gaze at her bared shoulders. "Are these plants carnivorous?" he asked while engaging his controls.

"No, those are succulents. Most carnivorous plants on Earth are found in wetter, tropical areas."

"Interesting. A significant portion of Vulcan desert flora is carnivorous."

"Really! Tell me about it," Amanda asked and Sarek obliged as they walked, describing the similarities and differences between Vulcan's arid climate and Earth's desert areas represented in the exhibit. After a time, they paused at a bench and sat. Amanda chuckled as she drank from her water bottle. "I bet this bench doesn't get many visitors."

"Are you uncomfortable?"

"No," she smiled. "I'm not accustomed to the heat, but I'm adjusting."

They sat in silence for a moment, then Sarek spoke. "Thank you."

"For what, Sarek?"

"There was no logical reason for us to come here today, yet I find it...a welcome change."

Realizing he might be embarrassed by his admission, Amanda responded, "On the contrary, Ambassador, coming here was quite logical. It is beneficial to greater cultural understanding to compare the physical habitats of our respective worlds, and while you could no doubt arrange an expedition to see all of these areas of Earth in person, this venue allows for efficient exploration in a short period of time." And I get to do it with you, she added silently.

Sarek dipped his head toward her in acknowledgment. "Then I commend your logic."

"I am honored."

They sat for a long time in comfortable silence, until the artificial sunset signaled closing time.