Note: I'm completely ignoring the fact that Abrams fridged Amanda in the 2009 movie for the purposes of this fic – which I don't want to set in the TOS universe because the reboot one has so many more interesting variables. Foremost among them is the fact that Vulcan exploded oops. There should be five chapters of this, hence the title.


She cannot sit still in the too-warm room, so she rises from the mat on the floor, the only protection between her bare feet and the stone, and begins to pace.

Nervous energy fills her, and only some of it is her own. The rest of it comes from her bondmate, her sa-telsu. He is nervous. More than that, he is afraid. Compounding both these things, making them that much worse, is the simple fact that they are logical.

He is Vulcan.

She is Human.

And it is entirely possible that in the next few days, he will kill her.

Amanda shudders in spite of the heat. They are underground, deep in the heart of a mountain with a barely pronounceable name. She doesn't mean to diminish the place's importance, because it is an important place. It is the ceremonial ground where the men of her soon-to-be husband's family take their mates for the first time, and it is because this place is so important that she doesn't attempt, even in her mind, to think its name. She would only mangle it, and that feels too dishonorable to her.

There is little to the Spartan apartment. Its decorations are spare, almost East Asian in their arrangement. In the small foyer where she has been instructed to await her husband is only the thin rug. The rock ground beneath her feet is warm, pulsing with quiet life, and cracked and pitted from age.

Beyond the foyer is a bedroom, and attached to that is a bathroom with only the barest of necessities.

The bond between her and Sarek fills with his eager apprehension, and Amanda stops pacing. She knows he is close to her because he knows he is close.

She shudders again, trying and failing to shield him from her fear.

He has been nothing but honest with her. And open, far more open than she expected him to be. He sat with her for nearly two hours answering her questions about his time. Though it clearly pained him, he gave her scientifically thorough answers to her every query. She knows exactly what to expect, but she is still afraid.

Through their bond, he senses her fear, and she feels the change in him. He wants to destroy what frightens her. He wants to hunt down anything that might upset her and remove it from her life. But he frightens her, and he cannot destroy himself.

She senses the moment when he considers keeping away from her, and she swallows convulsively. She tamps down her fear, recalling the two times they've had sex already. Once before the bond, once after. Both times, he was a generous, attentive lover. Keenly aware of her, he was gentle and kind, responding with an eager and soft touch.

The first time was a gift to her, a concession from him so that she could see if they suited in a physical way. It was logical, he still says, to assure her they were compatible.

The second time, he showed her how to use the bond to sense his pleasure. He taught her how to open herself to the things he felt, how to let his experiences influence her own, and how to project her pleasure onto him.

He explained the bond was a tool. She would need to use it.

Wrapping her mind around those memories, she tips back her head and runs her fingers down her neck pretending they are his. The soft caress tickles and causes fire to curl low in her body, and she feels his instantaneous response.

Pleasure burns through their bond, his apprehension fading, and she welcomes his pleasure into herself, accepting it as part of her own experience. His anticipation becomes hers, his need burns within her.

And all those strange emotions he feels, the dark and terrible ones that come from some primitive place inside him… they no longer seem so bad.

A Vulcan woman would know instinctively how to manipulate this bond, but she also would have had years to learn her bondmate. Amanda has had only three years, and she thinks she's done a rather remarkable job.

There is a brief flicker of humor from Sarek, coupled with potent arousal. He loves her laugh. He wants to hear her laugh more – and there again is his fear that he might damage her such that she will be afraid of him.

Something catches in her throat, a strange, sorrowful sort of affection.

I think the fact that you're afraid of hurting me is proof enough that you won't, she thinks, sending the thought toward him and the bond.

She knows the minute he receives the thought, sensing his hope, but he does not respond further, not with words.

Instead, her mind is flooded with erotic images, and she gasps, dropping hard to the thin rug on the floor of the foyer room. She sees images of him wrapped in her limbs, her head tipped back and breathless laughter spilling from her lips. Images of her astride him, her arms lifted over her head as she arches her back and his mouth closes around a taut nipple.

Heat, need, want, and lust hit her hard, making her skin burn. The light shift she wears suddenly feels like too much. Something darker, richer follows these feelings. It comes from deep within him, primal and raw, and she has no word for it.

So many of his feelings are like that, and she feels as though humans live with some kind of emotional blinders on. Everything he feels is so much more raw and visceral than her own pale, watery emotions.

Concern flashed through their bond.

I'm waiting for you, she whispers in her mind, and she feathers her fingers over her chest.

The shift is immodest by any standard. The straps of it are thin, the fabric sheer, and it falls perhaps half way down her thighs. The back swoops low, the front reveals a generous amount of cleavage, and it is so thin that it will be no trouble for him to rip it from her body.

His pleasure at that thought sends a wave of heat through her.

Now that she has opened herself to the bond and taken his needs into herself, the whole situation doesn't seem quite so frightening.

She wants him, desperately. They've been bonded – married – for two years. For two years, she has been effectively celibate. She might have convinced him to have sex with her, but she found she didn't need to. His own influence through the bond curtailed the bulk of her desires, and what it didn't, well.

A smile curls her lips. Intercourse wasn't the only way to gratify those needs. And he suggested, at the time of their bonding, that putting off intercourse would be logical. She wasn't initially convinced, but he proposed that by making her wait, she would want him all the more.

There were days she hated agreeing to that logic. But now that she waits for him, growing needier by that moment, she sees he was right.

Another burst of pleasure, sharp and piercing, shoots through her. He is pleased she understands his logic. Very pleased.

Where are you? she asks him, growing increasingly agitated.

His answer is an impression of nearness, of a tunnel and need.

And then he is all around her, sweeping her into an almost violent embrace. Sarek's arms come around her, caging her against his body. He feels hotter than he ever has before, a burning flame consuming her.

His hands seek hers, and he presses his palms and fingers flush to hers as he drops his mouth to her neck and bites her. He sends her trepidation, uncertainty, and so, so much lust that she can barely breathe.

He overwhelms her. He always has. He is life and breath and air, and though he is terrifying in his furious need to have her, she rests in the calm center of the fiery storm knowing, with utter certainty, that he will not hurt her.

He clings to that knowledge. Her unshakeable faith in him is his anchor and lifeline as he soothes his bite with languid licks of his tongue.

Now that he has her, she feels a little of his need abate. But only a very, very little.

Dragging his hands over her arms, he kisses his way up her neck, his lips trailing sweet fire over her skin. He nuzzles her, purring gently against her ear, and she shifts closer to him, wanting—she doesn't know.

Her breath comes in heavy pants. Pleasure coils low in her belly, a steady pressure that demands satisfaction, and she doesn't know what she wants. She can't separate her wants from his, but she senses that he likes that.

Amanda expects him to catch her face in his hands and kiss her hard, with teeth and tongue. She expects him to claim her mouth with brutal intensity.

Instead, she feels a brief moment of puzzlement from him. He frames her face with his hands, his fingers at her psi points, and he whispers words in his mind and with his mouth against hers. "Taluhk nash-veh k'dular."

I cherish thee.

Implicit in those words is a question: where is the logic in harming she whom I cherish?

When he kisses her, it is slow and soft and sweet, with a measure of control she cannot fathom. She feels him burning. She burns herself. But he kisses her as though she is a dessert to be savored, as though he has nowhere else to be and nothing else in the world to do.

His lips ply hers with a tenderness that surpasses her comprehension. His fingers leave her psi points, sliding through her hair to hold her head still as his mouth shifts from hers to make a study of her face. His lips, dry and hot and oh so gentle, brush her cheekbones, her temples, her forehead. They slide in a sweep down the bridge of her nose to the tip of it, and his tongue flicks her skin playfully.

It is her laughter that sharpens his lighthearted kisses into a fierce hunger. She remembers the image he projected earlier of her breathless laughter as he took her, and he senses this, too.

He growls, the sound coming from deep within his chest, and her body responds to that sound with a flood of heat. She answers him aloud with a desperate mewl, not that he needs to hear her. He feels what she feels, and she can feel him.

All of him.

He settles one hand on the small of her back and draws her close, his mouth demanding on hers. His tongue traces along her lips in the way she taught him, seeking entry, but when she opens with a gasp, he doesn't seal his mouth to hers. With a languid, heated look that makes her tremble, he closes his teeth gently around her lower lip and pulls lightly.

His name falls from her lips of a moan, and she suddenly finds herself trapped between his hard, hot body and the relatively cool warmth of the wall. His fingers fist in the fabric at her waist, pulling it taut against her hip and thigh, and his mouth falls to her shoulder once more.

Slowly, knowing that a sudden movement will startle and unsettle him, she settles her hands against his chest. He wears a loose, open robe, with trousers and a tunic beneath it. The clothes are plain but serviceable. And easily removed.

She licks her lips at the thought of peeling them off his body, and he stirs against her, rolling his hips against hers in silent entreaty.

"I'm not glass," she mutters.

He sends her his concerns through the bond. To him, her bones are like twigs, her flesh is like tissue paper. He could shatter her as easily as she cracks an egg.

Amanda takes a deep breath. And bites him.

He tears the gown from her, and she makes a mental note to remember to provoke him this way in the future.

His mouth finds hers for a fierce kiss, one that, had he not bonded with her, would surely have branded her as his. She feels the kiss down to her toes, which curl against the rough floor as he rocks against her. His sensitive hands slide up her sides, and she feels what he feels – smooth, cool skin, the pounding of her heart, the expanding of her lungs as she inhales.

Everything about her is precious to him, and everything about him is inflammatory to her.

She slides her arms over his shoulders, linking her hands loosely behind his head, and returns his kiss. Her lips part, and his tongue meets hers, stroking and caressing. Her kisses are like a drug to him, one that soothes him even as it pushes him deeper into his insanity.

He needs her desperately now, and without breaking the kiss, she pushes his robe off his shoulders. There is nothing gentle in how she disrobes him, only the indelicate grasping of a woman who wants her lover naked and inside her, and her passions make his burn hotter.

They are trapped in a strange cycle, as though the bond exists only for them to inflame each other more. Every stroke of her hand over his warm skin makes her burn as he burns. The fires within him are in her, and though they are alien and strange, they no longer scare her.

Her husband is with her. He will protect her. He will keep her safe.

These thoughts are met with a rumbling groan from him, and he sweeps her into his arms. Her legs wrap around his naked waist, trapping his hard cock between them. The feel of him, a branding heat against her sensitive flesh, makes her sob.

He nuzzles her as he moves, each step rubbing him against her. The brush of his face against hers should be soothing, but it isn't. It makes her want more. She wants his kiss again – wants his tongue in her mouth, his hands on her skin, his cock in her body.

They tumble onto the bed, which is surprisingly soft under her. He stretches beside her, catching her wrists in one large, strong hand, and he obliges her with a long, thorough kiss that leaves her arching against air. She needs the heavy warmth of his body over her and between her thighs.

Contrary creature that he is, her husband wants to play with her. He nuzzles her cheek once more, lifting his head to catch her gaze with his. She inhales sharply, unable to look away as she feels his touch the underside of her chin and slide down her neck.

Her skin prickles and a shuddered breath escapes her. Her lips start to form a plea, and she senses his amusement through the bond. He thinks something, but not in words. Rather, she is left with the impression of deep, unmitigated possessiveness, the driving need to have and keep, and though she knows those are his feelings, they coil inside her, too.

His hand shifts, spreading across her collar bone, easily covering the expanse of skin above her breasts. His breathing changes, becomes harsher, and he drags his hand down, into the valley between her breasts.

His eyes have not left hers, and she cannot tear hers away.

Knowing precisely what she wants, he shifts his hand, cupping her breast, and at last her eyes flutter shut. She tips back her head as his fingers wander over her, stroking around her nipple. His nails scrape over her skin, and she shivers. His knuckles brush against the soft skin on the underside of her breast, and she keens. When his thumb flicks over her taut nipple, she nearly comes out of her skin, her back arching as she releases a quiet cry of pleasure.

He likes that. He likes making her cry out and likes knowing he is the source of her pleasure, that he is both sweet torment and assuaging succor.

"Poet," she gasps.

In response, he presses his lips to her earlobe, catching it briefly with his teeth. He pinches her nipple, making heat lance through her in an electric arc, and begins speaking. Poetry. Pre-Reform poetry falls from his lips like honey.

Vuhlkansu is not a particularly lovely language. It is full of glottal stops and harsh consonants. But Sarek makes it indescribably erotic, the words dripping with passion and lust as his fingers shift to her other breast.

He takes his time there, too, slowly exploring her skin. He uses the tips of his fingers, so much more sensitive on him than a human, and as he whispers what she assumes is explicit poetry in her ear, he sends little shocks of pleasure into her skin by way of their bond.

When he finally slides his hand to the plane of her stomach, she is shuddering and gasping beneath him, barely cogent enough to part her legs in silent entreaty.

Dipping his fingers between her legs, he breaks from his poetry to purr. He murmurs something else to her in Vuhlkansu, and she doesn't need to know all the words to grasp his meaning. He is thrilled beyond measure by how aroused she is.

She's almost embarrassed by it.

He growls softly, a warning.

Almost embarrassed, she insists in her mind, spreading her legs wider and arching into his touch. He moves with her, though, anticipating her movements easily. He keeps his touch feather light, ghosting over her heated, needy flesh. He toys with her, keeping her on the edge for what seems like hours.

She opens her eyes to meet his and beg, but the plan goes awry when she sees the fierce, possessive pleasure on his face. He watches her with an unnerving intensity, his dark eyes soft and warm.

Nudging her cheek with his, he drags his finger across her opening, and she grabs wildly at his wrist, her orgasm swift and uncompromising. She thinks she makes him bleed with her nails, but he is so overwhelmingly pleased by her pleasure that she can't be sure.

She rides the waves of her pleasure, but he doesn't let them ebb. Instead, he presses a long finger into her, stroking her slowly, prolonging her orgasm until she is breathless and boneless beneath him.

It's good, so good, but it's not enough. She wants more of him. She wants him to feel her and feed the fires with his body.

With a murmur of denial, he shifts over her. His lips brush over her cheek, her mouth, her neck. His abdomen settles between her thighs, a pressure that does nothing to alleviate clawing need in her. Her orgasm has barely faded and already she wants another.

He thinks she is greedy.

His mouth closes around her nipple, sucking hard enough to hurt, but the hurt is entirely eclipsed by pleasure. Everything about him is dry and hot except his mouth – which is wet and hot and exactly what she wants.

When his tongue brushes over her taut nipples, she digs her nails into his back. This encourages him, and it encourages her, and before long she's raking her nails over his back as he feasts on her with licks and sucks that drive thought clear out of her mind.

It's unfair that he seems to be capable of thought when she isn't, but she is mollified by the fact that his singular thought is for her pleasure.

His mouth drifts lower, and his intention flickers through the bond in the form of images: her legs draped over his shoulders, his face between her thighs, his tongue sliding through her slick folds. He projects clear images of her twisting and arching under him, of her toes curling against his back and her hands tearing at the sheets.

"Yes, yes," she agrees, and he rumbles a response against the skin of her hip.

After a moment's consideration, he touches his lips to her hipbone, and then his tongue. His teeth close lightly over her skin a second later. He releases the bite to lick her. Then he bites her again, and she grabs his hair, destroying what little remains of its severe style.

He delivers the same treatment on her other hip, marking her again, and she wishes she could wear next to nothing on Vulcan all the time.

He freezes over her, and she opens her eyes to find him watching her with a very dangerous expression.

It baffles her. She's not sure who he's mad at, but his lust for her body has shifted toward a lust for blood, and at first she doesn't understand why.

His hand curled possessively over her hip, and she recognizes that her answer will determine whether or not he tears himself from her body with the intent to kill every male on Vulcan. She arches one brow at him. "Everyone would know I'm yours, then, wouldn't they? If they could see those bites?" she asks.

Mine.

Her fingers brush over the delicate point of his ear. "Yours," she assures him.

Lust for her pounds through him again, and he spends several minutes ministering to the marks on her hips, nuzzling and licking them. He adds a few more for good measure, some little nibbles that won't bruise, but many more that will, and she can't begin to care. She wants his marks all over her.

His mouth drifts lower, and she lifts her hips in invitation, silently begging him to play with her, to touch her. But he, damnably thorough man, ignores her. His mouth touches her inner thigh as he curls his fingers around her heel.

Lifting her leg, he peppers her with kisses, tasting her salty skin. He pays particular attention to the back of her knee. It should tickle her, but instead leaves her gasping and grabbing great fistfuls of the covers beneath them.

Nipping lightly at her ankle, he presses his thumb against the center of the sole of her foot, and pleasure zings through her. A foot massage. When this is over, she will demand a foot massage.

Perversely, she realizes she doesn't want this to end. She wants him between her legs for the rests of their lives, licking and kissing and caressing, but what she'd really like is for his mouth to—

She screams his name when he finally kisses her.

His tongue sweeps through her folds, testing the taste of her, and he finds it is precisely how he remembers it. She doesn't dwell on that in their bond except to discover that he savors her like a treat.

He licks her in long, slow strokes, taking his time to learn what makes her breath hitch and her back arch. He dips his tongue inside her, swirls it around her opening, and her body clenches convulsively.

She's certain she starts pleading with him to take her, but he ignores her.

Shifting onto his forearms, he closes his lips around that little bundle of nerves he adored so much their last two times in bed, and he slips a finger into her.

To him, she is cool, but not cold. The temperature of her body is an alluring contrast to his own, which she finds blazing hot. His every touch is a fiery brand, and she shudders and moans, twisting and writhing under him, desperate for him to touch her in just the right way so she can come for him again.

He denies her that pleasure. He makes a game of it, bringing her to the very peak before backing away to nuzzle her thigh while his finger moves slowly, too slowly, inside her. The fifth time he does this, she is so delirious with need that she gouges his shoulder when she grabs at him, and he finally lets her come.

Her orgasm sweeps her under a wave of pleasure so strong she's fairly certain she's gone blind.

And he panics.

He's on top of her a moment later, his fingers at her psi points, his mind rushes over hers like a tidal wave. A very gentle tidal wave. Oh, there is a good deal of force there, because he is who he is, and he is a powerful telepath, but nothing in his mental touch hurts her. In fact, the full presence of him in her mind makes her come again.

He is relieved and confused and aroused all at once when she wraps her legs around his hips and undulates against him, keening with pleasure.

"Sarek." His name is an entreaty on her lips, a supplication she knows he can no longer deny.

He shifts between her legs, his cock brushing against her thigh and core. She arches against him, trying to meet him, trying to get him where she wants him most, and for a moment, they are an awkward, desperate tangle of limbs before he's inside her, filling her, and he's burning like fire, and she's a cool balm for his body and mind, and there is rest in her body, rest and fulfillment and peace and a crystal, perfect moment where she understands all of this – him, his need, the Vulcan people, the bond.

And then it's gone, replaced by the need to move.

He isn't gentle, not anymore. He drags one of her legs over his hip as he moves inside her, and it hurts a little, but it's such a good hurt. Even so, he doesn't like that she is in pain, and cradling her against his body, he rolls them over.

This is a tremendous show of trust for him, because he needs to move in her, to feel that friction of their bodies joining together, and now she controls the pace. But she needs as much as he does. Bracing her hand against his shoulders, she rocks against him, taking him deep and hard.

His fingers seek out her psi points, and he's in her mind again, completely connected to her in every way that matters. It is breathtaking and overwhelming, but more than either of those things, it simply feels so damn good.

He comes before her, with a roar of pleasure and satisfaction, and that's what tips her over the edge. It's a disorienting moment, one where she can't tell what she's feeling and what he's feeling. But once she realizes it doesn't matter, because there is no him and her, there is only one mind, one soul spanning two bodies.


For the next three days, whenever she's awake, he loves her. He builds her need to a fever pitch to match his own and then feasts on her arousal until she is mindless with it. He uses the bond to extract precisely the reaction he wants from her, driving her to the heights of pleasure and catching her when she falls.

His arms are the scope of her world. She wakes and sleeps in them, and he sees nothing illogical about it. She is his to protect, and it is easiest to protect her when she is in his arms.

When she hungers, he feeds her. He strokes her hair and holds her when she is too exhausted by his lovemaking to sleep. Sometimes, he croons Vulcan poetry into her ears.

He only lets her leave the bed when she needs to use the bathroom. The rest of the time, he is with her, even when they bathe, which she insists on late on the third day.

The only reason he agrees is because he wants to hold her in his lap and wash her before sliding into her from behind. There is some calculation to this thought, though, and she thinks the worst of the fever may have passed.

He is as ravenous on the fourth day as the first, but he is so very gentle with her.

She wakes alone on the sixth day. Completely and utterly alone. His presence is gone from her mind. She can't feel anything from him. It's as if he has been cauterized from her. There is a wall between them.

She does the most sensible thing she can. She panics.

Rocketing from the bed, she's halfway to the door before she realizes she's limping and the muscles in her legs are screaming.

She freezes, looking down at herself. Bruises and bite marks pepper her skin, and she aches everywhere.

Sinking to the ground, she draws her knees to her chest and trembles. The room is warm, but she is cold – almost frigid. The world swims around her, her vision dotting and tunneling. She sucks in a shuddering breath, feeling utterly alone.

Abandoned.

She doesn't know how long she sits on the floor. Time surely passes, but she can't feel its movement around her. The door to the cave-like room opens, and a Vulcan woman enters. T'Pau follows behind, and Amanda regards them both with blank incomprehension.

She knows them both, but she cannot comprehend their intrusion into her confused, empty world.

The healer murmurs to T'Pau, whose expressionless face somehow manages to convey a sense of bleak disappointment.

"Sarek," Amanda says, speaking into her knees. She lifts her eyes without moving her head, fixing her gaze on T'Pau. "Where is Sarek? Why isn't he here?"

T'Pau's lips press together ever so slightly. "You require medical attention."

Anger blossoms inside her. "I require my husband." But it fades quickly. She is tired and it hurts to breathe.

The healer urges her onto the bed, executes a quick exam, and declares that she will be fine with rest. Her injuries aren't permanent, and the worst of them is a pulled muscle in her groin (which leaves her red with embarrassment), a bite mark on her breast crusted with blood, and several bruised ribs.

After carefully cleaning herself in the tub, washing away the remaining bits of blood and allowing the heat to relax her aching, exhausted muscles, T'Pau takes her home. It is generous of her, and Amanda says as much.

T'Pau says it is only logical she care for her son's mate.

The house is quiet when T'Pau leaves her. Amanda knows there are at least twenty people home, but she doesn't see any of them – and she's looking. She doesn't want to be alone. She doesn't understand why her husband isn't with her. When she presses toward his mind, she finds only that smooth, impassable wall.

She spends an hour crying and pounding against that wall, but it doesn't come down.

Anger and resentment get her to her feet. A determination not to be weak forces her to the bedroom she shares with Sarek. She dresses in his clothes. She rolls the trousers around her ankles and ties them tight on her hips. His shirt hangs like a sack around her, the neck sliding over her shoulders and gaping at her neck, but it surrounds her in his scent, and she finds that comforting.

An hour later, when she decides she isn't disgusted with him or herself or the marks on her body, she discovers that chopping carrots into thin slices is equally comforting. Or perhaps just cathartic.

She attacks the carrots with vigor, intending to make a salad. But when she finishes cutting, she realizes she has far too many carrots for a salad. She attempts to make a vegetable stew, and succeeds passably.

She's sitting alone in one of the more comfortable parlor rooms of his massive house, wrapped in a blanket with her stew on her knees, when he finally comes home. He pauses in the doorway of the room, watching her.

"You weren't there when I woke up," she says. There isn't very much accusation in her voice. She's too tired and drained to be angry.

He hesitates, a charmingly human affectation he's surely picked up from her, one that likely thrills his mother. "I did not believe you would want me there." He swallows. "It was my intent to give you time to collect yourself."

"You abandoned me," she points out. "You closed the bond."

He looks at her with such loss on his face that it hurts her. "Would you have wanted me there?"

Amanda spoons the last of her stew into her mouth and sets the bowl aside. She holds out two fingers in the ozh'esta.

Sarek stares at her fingers as though they might grow teeth and bite him.

With a huffy sigh, she rises, letting the blanket fall away, and his expression changes.

Reading Vulcans isn't easy, but she's learned how to read him. They do have expressions, but they are such small changes that only the most studious of humans will notice them at first. His eyes widen – barely – and he inhales – slightly.

"You are wearing my clothing."

"Yes." She walks toward him, only stopping when she stands before him. She offers him her fingers again, and this time he brings his to hers without hesitation.

The wall between them – his wall – drops, and she feels everything he does. He is uncertain, confused, afraid that he hurt her, that she won't want anything to do with him anymore, that she will request they dissolve the bond, that she can no longer care for him.

He feels guilt for hurting her, shame for being unable to protect her from his passions, and a prevailing sense of failure in his duties to her as a bondmate.

"Sarek," she said, feeling almost exasperated.

A human man would have looked at her with the expression of a wounded puppy. Sarek merely tilts his head, quirking it to the side.

The fingers of her left hand brush over his face, a touch he finds cool and soothing.

"I couldn't stay," he says quietly. "You… I cannot remember it."

This shocks her, and she reels back, her body swaying. But she doesn't break contact with him. "You don't remember?"

He moves closer, one hand on her back to steady her, and she senses him justifying the touch as logical. He tells himself his hand keeps her from falling over. She's always amused by his attempts to explain away his behavior with logic.

"I remember you," he murmurs, and the truth of that echoes through the bond. He remembers the coolness of her body around his, the feel of her breasts beneath his hands. He recalls with perfect clarity the way her breath hitched and how she moaned when he touched her and tasted her.

But these moments are punctuated by pure, unadulterated rage and a hazy sheen of confusion and uncertainty. His memories are jumbled and uncertain.

"You didn't hurt me," she whispers, stepping into him, leaning against him. Her fingers stroke down his, urging him to meet her palm with his own. A frisson of electricity bounces between them where their skin touches.

"I am aware of your injuries."

She purses her lips. "You injured me, but you didn't hurt me. Sarek, we knew that was going to happen."

"It is indicative of a failure on my part, an inability to control myself."

She stares at him.

That first night, she finally comprehended the nature of his time and the bond between them. Now, she understands the deep shame of the Vulcan people.

She floods the bond with compassion. "Sarek, you're being illogical."

"My logic is flawless," he responds quickly, perhaps a bit sharply. Then his brows draw together. "You're teasing me."

Her lips quirk and she curls her fingers around his, lifting the back of his hand to her mouth. She kisses each of his knuckles. "You lost control of yourself."

"It is reprehensible."

"It's a part of your biology, Sarek," she says flatly.

He regards her silently for a handful of seconds. "Your acceptance of this is unexpected."

She gives him a rueful smile. "Have you forgotten that I was in your head that entire time?" she asks. His nostrils flare in response. No, he hasn't forgotten at all. "I wanted it as much as you did. But when you were gone this morning… That's when I was scared, Sarek. I felt abandoned when you closed the bond."

He assimilates this information with a slow inclination of his head, bowing it until his forehead rests against hers. He lets out a long breath, and she senses him relax. "It was a grave miscalculation."

"Yes," she admits, because there's no reason to lie to him. The bond is open between them again, and he can sense her mind through the touch of their hands and forehead. "But you won't do that again."

"No. I will not."

Now she relaxes, leaning against him. He slides his hand over her hip, very careful of her ribs. "I made stew," she tells him, deciding the matter is at rest.

"Plomeek stew?" he asks, and she detects a hint of hopefulness in his voice.

"Um. No."

He draws back to regard her with an arched brow. Skeptical. She senses amusement mixed with reticence about her cooking through their bond.

"It's more of a… all-the-vegetables-we-had-in-the-kitchen stew." His brow lifts higher. She scowls at him. "It's good," she protests. His brow lifts higher. "Fine, then you don't get any." The brow immediately drops. "Puppy eyes don't work on me."

"I do not possess puppy eyes, Amanda."

"Sehlat eyes, then."

"Nor am I a sehlat."

She scoffs, smoothing her hand over his ear to disguise her intent. He senses it through the bond anyway, but doesn't pull away fast enough.

He purrs as she scratches lightly behind his ears. "Good kitty," she coos. He doesn't correct her.