A/N: Eventually I'll be writing something for the early days of Sarek and Amanda's relationship, because I absolutely adore them and really enjoyed writing out their interaction here. As for this little piece… I don't know if I'm going to continue it or not… and before anyone flays me for it, read the second A/N. :P
Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek, nor the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.
The room was a dimly lit cave, shot through with bright electronic stars. The beeps and whirs of sophisticated medical machinery jabbered back and forth to each other like mechanical insects. There was the faint odor of disinfectant, perhaps a suggestion of sharp medicinal scents, but the air had the flat, lifeless taste to it that was the signature of air often recycled.
There was just enough light to see the walls that formed the room as well as its contents. It was not very large, and the walls were given over to specialized readout panels, banks of delicate controls, calibrators, computers, memory stacks… From the walls moving inward was a ring of standing units, each with a specified purpose, each with its own set of readouts, sensors and controls, independent of the wall banks. This one was for measuring oxygen, protein and pH balances, another for the manufacture and injection of suspension fluids while the one beside was for the extraction of old fluid and recycling of what could be salvaged and feeding is back to the fabricator. One entire side of the ring was dedicated to monitoring. Some were easily recognized in their purpose: this one a heart monitor, that one pulse and blood pressure, another for brain wave function. Others were less obvious, their readings bearing on balances extremely delicate and subtle.
All of these machines formed an orbiting ring of watchfulness, and were connected to one central node. It stood as a pillar in the room, from floor to ceiling, and had eight sides, eight faces, and eight panels set at waist height with yet more controls, more indicators, more arcane codes. From this central pillar ran bundles of cords, tubes and wires, all neatly arranged and organized, radiating out to mate with the watching ring.
Standing inside this darkened room was a single figure, small and slender, one might go so far as to say slight. A human female garbed in the flowing robes of Vulcan, her dark hair gathered neatly at the base of her neck. Outwardly she was composed, calm, but small signs betrayed her: how her fingers curled about themselves in her voluminous sleeves, the line of her clenched jaw, and the brightness of her eyes that never wavered from the pillar.
The pillar was really a vessel, and though the woman could not see inside it, she knew exactly what it contained. She did not need to see, it held something precious to her.
Amanda Grayson of Earth, married to the Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan, placed both hands over her abdomen and gave a small, involuntary shudder.
She knew that her being here was illogical. There was nothing to be done now that wasn't already being done, and even if there were, she did not have the necessary knowledge or training. She was a teacher, not a scientist, geneticist or doctor. She had already contributed what she could: an underdeveloped child, which even now hung suspended in a manufactured embryonic fluid.
Even had she not understood for herself just how irrational it was for her to be here, the looks cast her way by the Vulcan staff would have informed her. The machines did their jobs well, but it was still necessary for live specialists to monitor them, to read the measurements they gave, to make those slight adjustments that appeared so miniscule and yet could mean the difference between life and death. Whenever one would come in they would glance at her, note who she was, and say nothing. They did not need to; their attitude said all that their words did not. They could not understand for themselves why she was there, she had no role to play here, and one could not change what was happening simply by being present, by watching. Even should an emergency take place, her presence would have no bearing whatsoever on the outcome.
But while they could not understand the motivation, they knew who she was, recognized her as a new human mother experiencing distress due to the danger her child was in, and gave her privacy. Her rank as Sarek's wife would have afforded her that measure of respect even if Vulcan customs had not.
She had felt such joy when she had conceived. She was pregnant, she carried Sarek's child! It was rare, incredibly rare for the bloodlines of human and Vulcan to mesh so, and in those cases when a pregnancy arose, it never went beyond the first month. No human-Vulcan hybrid had ever made it to full term, somewhere between the nine months required for a human and thirteen for Vulcan. All such children had perished. But Amanda not only had conceived, but the growing fetus appeared healthy, vital and forming well. More importantly, she carried beyond the four week threshold, on to five, then six, seven…
It was all going so well. Until her body, finally perceiving the alien DNA in her as an invader, aborted the process at twelve and a half weeks. Only week months along and her body rejected its own child. It was longer than any other comparable pregnancy on record, yet still, not nearly enough.
She supposed now that it had been too much to hope that she would have been able to carry a hybrid child to full term. But oh! if only she could carried him even a little longer! Then, perhaps, it would not be so uncertain if he would survive. Her body had failed. She had failed.
My son. My son.
The only reason he lived now was because he was Sarek's offspring. As Ambassador he was greatly respected, knew many others in respected positions and had the influence and funds required to attempt a thing never done before: to nurse a human-Vulcan hybrid to full term.
Amanda couldn't see her son, so instead her stare fixed on the machines, on the telltale lights and graphic readouts, those signs that told her the child's condition. It was all so very primitive, she thought, these devices meant to keep him alive. She knew that the best minds were behind the functionalities of these, but they unsettled her. Their presence unsettled her; the very fact that they were needed unsettled her. She never thought that she would be standing in a nest such as this, relying on these archaic devices to preserve one who meant so much to her.
My son, my son is there!
It was just as well he had gained as much strength in her womb as he had, for the machines he was encased in now, for all their delicately balanced efficiency, were not keeping him strong. He lived, but he did not thrive as he had done before the rejection. If her son survived, he would be sickly, underweight by the end of term. He might be small his entire life because of this danger so early in his existence.
If he survived.
She took her hands away from her abdomen, away from the newly regenerated flesh where she had been cut to lift out the failing fetus, and in the shadowed light examined her fingers. Such a complex web of life, she mused. Such complex, subtle beings we are, yet we constantly take it for granted that we shall continue. Just the act of breathing, of taking in oxygen to revitalize blood cells, was such a simple thing in conscious practice, yet so involved a process on the cellular level… Air in through the nose and mouth to the lungs, the alveoli where oxygen were picked up by the blood via thin networks of capillaries. Red blood cells swept away to be circulated throughout the body through arteries, veins, more capillaries, depositing that oxygen. Flowing back to the heart, the lungs again that expelled waste carbon dioxide in exhales…
All in a single breath. So easy to disrupt, destroying the chain, killing the organism. And her son… he was in a much more delicate state now…
There would be no second attempt at bearing a child of Sarek's, she knew, even should this child miraculously survive. Steps would be taken to prevent even an accidental conception. The risk to herself was considered too great. If this child died, she would remain without one her entire life. She would be effectively barren.
She shivered, held her arms close against her body.
The door hissed open and Amanda carefully arranged her features to a blankness she was becoming accustomed to. Expression of emotion was considered rude, even offensive, and while allowances were made for her based on her species, she had no desire to make these people uncomfortable. So well-conditioned she was that when she looked over and saw the familiar figure outlined in the light of the hall, she did not show the rush of relief she felt.
The figure, tall, lean and angular, betraying a clipped efficiency in its motions, paused in the doorway to allow its sight to adjust to the comparative dimness and scanned the interior of the room. When its gaze turned to Amanda, positioned near one wall, nestled between two humming machines, the figure came in, stride quick but soft.
Sarek stopped in front of her, looking down into her deliberately calm features, his own face an impassive mask, his dark eyes black in the shadows. "My dear," he said, and then stopped.
By those two words, Amanda understood just how deeply upset her husband was. He spoke in Standard, which was naturally inclined to a heavier stress on emotionalism than Golic Vulcan, but his choice of words was also a clue. It revealed sentimentality never expressed in public, even when in reasonable privacy in a public place. So many humans expected any stray emotion in Vulcans to show in relatively obvious, observable ways; a frown, a rumpled shirt, a raised voice, but Vulcans were reserved beings. What there was of emotion that could be read had to be seen through layers of control and training. One observed the intention, not the gesture.
For a moment she considered reaching out to him, to seek a measure of comfort in physical contact. He would not pull away, she knew. He made more allowances for her 'illogical ways' than any other; he understood her distress and love would hold him to suffer her emotion. But it would be a sufferance. It would make him uncomfortable, and she couldn't force that on him. With a small effort, Amanda held herself back, only giving a small, faltering smile as a reply.
Sarek, long accustomed to the peculiar ways of humans in general and of his wife in particular, recognized the struggle for self-control and what it cost her. He stepped close, rested his hands on her shoulders, so slender and fragile beneath the light robes she wore.
It was another measure of his love for her and the compromises he was willing to make for her. He was used to humans, it was true. As Ambassador he had spent much time on Earth and come to know their ways well, more than tolerating them but accepting them and their foibles. But still, he was Ambassador, whose position in the complex Vulcan social structure could be weakened or even compromised by taking an emotional human female as wife.
She was very fortunate, Amanda knew.
"T'hayal told me where you had gone," he said, his tone the odd, near-inflectionless cant that was typical of Vulcan speech. It was a little difficult for humans, who were used to reading a second conversation carried on the rising and falling of tone, to listen to. It was like trying to grip water; it just slipped through one's fingers with no handhold.
She nodded absently, letting her eyes fall away from Sarek's face. She noted his clothes, still the formal blacks with red and gold trim of his office; he hadn't even changed his robes in coming here. "I… felt I couldn't rest properly without coming to visit," she said.
She felt Sarek nod as well, how he looked around the room, taking in the instrumentation and their readings, all reporting on the condition of his son. Amanda looked past him to the central pillar. She gently touched one of the hands on her shoulder, the barest brush with a single finger against his thumb. "It's hard to think of him, so fragile and in that contraption. Sometimes I just wish I could see him, instead of all these equations."
"Quite impossible," Sarek replied, and she stifled a flinch at the brittleness in his words. "Exposing him or the compounds being fed to him to light would be disastrous at this stage. We will have to be satisfied with what the machines can tell us until much later."
"I know. It is an emotional, irrational response." She did her best to control the frustration, to make her tone light. "I'm-"
"Do not apologize," Sarek interrupted brusquely. "You are human; it is in your nature to feel and to express those feelings." Fingertips to her cheek, Sarek gently brought her focus back to his face, where she could see the sincerity of him as well as hear it. "I know this of you, my wife, and would not have you altered. Think you to do so, and so diminish yourself?"
Tears started up in Amanda's eyes, softening the lines of her husband's face through a veil of moisture. "No, my love."
For a time they stood in silence, shadowed and listening to the beeps and mechanical whispers of the devices that kept their child alive. So close he was to them, yet invisible; present in all they saw around them – his heartbeat, the minute fluctuations of temperature – yet entirely unknown to them.
What a strange family, Amanda thought. A human, a Vulcan, and their mixed blood son, stitched together with cogwheels and potions.
Sarek's voice interrupted her thoughts. "I have spoken with the chief geneticist. She and her team are confident in their projections for him. So long as nothing too unexpected reveals itself, our son has a reasonable chance."
"Which is more than we could have reasonably hoped for."
"Indeed." Sarek shifted slightly, and Amanda's senses came alive, the fidget revealing uneasiness in Sarek that was rare. "There is the possibility, sometime in the future, when it may be needful for our child to have a proper womb, to either finish out or nearly finish out the term." He paused, and if he were human, would have cleared his throat. "Would you be willing to attempt that, Amanda?"
She didn't hesitate. "Of course I would. If it means giving him a chance, I'll do it."
There was a pause as Sarek arranged his words before speaking. "There is some element of risk to you. The possibility of a second rejection…"
"I don't care, Sarek," she said, looking up at him fiercely. "If it means our son had a chance, any chance, I'm willing to take that risk."
Sarek stared at his wife silently a moment, then nearly smiled. "Of course. I was foolish, perhaps, to think I could dissuade you if I'd wanted to, much less that you would refuse."
"You were indeed, my husband," she replied lightly.
"Will you come home with me?" he said, stepping away with a more businesslike air. "T'hayal was already preparing the evening meal when I left the house."
Amanda shook her head. "I'll stay a few minutes longer, Sarek. You go on ahead and I will follow."
She looked up at him, saw the worry he felt for her where no one else would have and smiled reassuringly at him. "I'll be alright. I need only a few minutes more. To compose myself."
A brief hesitation, a slow stroke of her cheek with the side of his thumb, an intimate gesture for a Vulcan, a small parting nod and he turned to leave, granting her privacy.
Once again alone in the darkened room, Amanda looked around, filled with a kind of awe at the lengths being taken for her son.
Her stomach twisted, her heart clenched, and she wondered at that, too. The depth of emotion she felt for her child was one she had never felt before, and it was incredible. So powerful it felt as though it could drive her to anything.
There was a product of her deep training, though. The subtle, almost unintentional control of responses, tricking the body so it acted on a level that fed false information even to the subconscious, and so to the subconscious of the observer. Amanda felt a brief flicker of satisfaction. The Vulcans had given up a powerful weapon, she thought, when they had forsaken their capacity to feel.
She looked at the pillar that encased her son, stared as though by force of will she could peer inside, and felt her heart clench again in fear.
You must survive.
A/N2: I am sorry, I am sorry, I am sorry, I. Am. So. Sorry.
I really do love Sarek and Amanda, individually and as a couple, and the idea for this, when it came, was really strange for me… but I really wanted to write it out. When it finally came to the last little piece, hinting at horrible intentions, (and yes, I do have a plan for it should this continue), I almost didn't do it. I loved the feel of the whole thing and was terrified that the last twisty bit would kill it.
For whether or not it continues… what do you guys think?
Thanks for reading!