DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of T'Lea and is copyright (c) 2002 by T'Lea. This story is rated PG.
FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH AN EARTHWOMAN
Acting Ambassador Sarek had not stopped moving since he set foot in the Vulcan Embassy on Earth. His entire morning had been taken up with one briefing or meeting after the other. He had arrived on Earth late the night before and had not even had time to unpack his belongings yet except for the essentials and a change of clothes. His warp-lagged body was beginning to feel fatigued, but his mind reveled at working at such an exhilarating pace.
As the eldest son of his house, he had followed his father Skonn into the Vulcan Diplomatic Corps. As technical attaché, he had proved himself particularly skilled at maintaining the vast databases at the consulate, and, later, to his surprise, discovered that he had a great facility with languages as well. When his superiors realized his potential, they formalized his linguistics training, posted him to Betazed, and promoted him to cultural attaché. Since he was often called upon to sit in on negotiations to assist the Vulcan delegates with various nuances in the language of trade agreements, his expertise at mediating between parties grew rapidly.
His abilities would now be tested. Sarek had lately only served as an aide to experienced ambassadors. Never before had he been the primary representative of his government. Tanak, Vulcan's ambassador to Earth, had spent many afternoons with Sarek at the Intergalactic Affairs offices on Vulcan. Together, they developed a strategy for the latest trade agreement with the Terrans. Sarek had never been to Earth, but that did not bother him. He was fluent in the major Terran languages as well as Federation Standard. He had tirelessly gathered and assimilated the relevant materials for Ambassador Tanak, and had himself written a draft of their proposal. When the elderly Tanak fell ill, Sarek was the logical choice as a replacement for this mission.
Saran, his aide on Earth, had briefed him in depth over the secure comm unit in his cabin aboard the Vulcan starship T'Planna'hath. Sarek was most impressed with the young Vulcan's organizational skills. Saran assured him that all of the necessary preparations had been made, all that was necessary was for Sarek to take his place as the leader of the Vulcan delegation. After signing off with Saran, the temporary ambassador to Earth felt confident that the negotiations would proceed as planned. Logic dictated that the proposal would be accepted by the Terrans. His father would be most pleased with his performance in this matter.
* * *
According to Saran's itinerary, Sarek's last task of the day as Acting Ambassador was to tour the various departments of Embassy and meet the staff. Although he was not certain why it was necessary for him to be introduced to the staff, Sarek did harbor some curiosity about the computer facilities and the Linguistics Section. He assumed they would be similar to those at the offices in Shi'Kahr and he hoped that the familiarity would help him adjust to his duties on Earth. After his tour, he would finally unpack and sleep off some of his warp-lag. He had not realized how fatiguing the cumulative effects would become after an entire day of constant activity.
Saran and Sarek boarded the turbolift. Sarek paid careful attention to which floors housed the various departments so that he would not be aimlessly wandering around what was, at least temporarily, his Embassy. En route to their next destination, Sarek questioned Saran about the upcoming negotiations. Deep in conversation, Sarek was nearly startled when the turbo door swooshed open to admit a very harried Terran female carrying a collection of tapes and printed material that was nearly as big as she was. The female impatiently pushed the lift button several times with her elbow; a button which Sarek noted was already lit.
As the lift began to move again, Sarek ignored the female's presence, and, switching to his native Vulcan tongue, continued discussing the trade agreement strategy with Saran. They were interrupted by a soft beeping emitting from the confines of Saran's tunic. Breaking off their conversation, he spoke softly into his communicator. When he closed the unit, he reached out and pushed the button for the next floor.
"Forgive me," he told Sarek. "I must attend to something immediately. I will only be a few minutes, with your permission."
Having been in such situations himself as an aide, Sarek nodded. Attending to all the details of a major summit was no small feat, and Sarek wanted everything to be flawless.
"Of course," Sarek responded. "I will continue by myself." Sarek did not want Saran to be concerned about him when the negotiations were of primary importance. He was quite certain that he could follow the signs to the departments listed on the itinerary on his padd.
"As you wish," Saran complied. He knew he could easily ascertain Sarek's whereabouts and meet him at his next destination. Saran exited the turbolift.
The doors closed and Sarek was alone with the Terran female. He consulted his padd, committing the remaining stops to memory. As he returned the padd to his tunic pocket, he became suddenly aware of a light, pleasant scent in the turbolift. He glanced surreptitiously at the Terran woman. Inhaling again, Sarek noted that she was definitely exuding a pleasing olfactory substance. It reminded him vaguely of the ama'tlan flower of his homeworld. It was quite ... pleasant. Sarek wondered if there were ama'tlan plants on Earth, but his schedule had not permitted him to study Terran botany. Curious, he considered asking the female. Looking at her with his peripheral vision, he noted that she was staring at the turbolift lights, jiggling her tapes and papers and tapping her foot lightly. She seemed...ill at ease. Sarek decided to pursue his inquiry. For the time being, this was his Embassy, after all. He could not rely on his aides for everything. Squaring his shoulders, Sarek turned toward the female and spoke in Federation Standard. "Forgive my intrusion," he began.
The female shifted her gaze from the light board to Sarek. As her eyes settled on his, Sarek was struck by their unusual blue hue. He had never seen eyes of such a vibrant color before. As he stared into them, the female spoke. "Yes?" she asked him politely, continuing to look directly at him.
Sarek, still fascinated by her eye coloring did not respond immediately.
The female's eyes widened slightly as she regarded him curiously. "Do you need some assistance?" she prompted him.
Sarek brought himself out of his reverie, and squared his shoulders once again. "No. I do not require your assistance," he responded, not sure how to ask her about the flowers on Earth. The whole idea seemed unimportant, now that he had considered it more fully.
The female's forehead knotted in puzzlement. "Ah. I see," she answered. The female returned her gaze to the light board, shifting the load in her arms.
Sarek wondered why she did not have a conveyance of some sort for her materials, since the amount was so sizeable. Perhaps he should tell her the location of such conveyances. "Forgive me..." he began again.
This time the female's eyes regarded him with a look that Sarek could not quite define. Her left eyebrow was raised slightly, and her lips curved upward slightly at the corners. Her first impression of the young Vulcan before her was that he was either incredibly arrogant, or incredibly stupid. And she had never heard of a stupid Vulcan. However, she did not wish to be rude. It might be the case that he did not speak Standard all that well and was searching for the right words. "Yes?" she asked again, trying to keep the impatience out of her voice. How long was this turbolift going to take, anyway? She should have taken the stairs ... his eyes were really quite captivating. Now where had that come from? He was a Vulcan. And he was a damned arrogant Vulcan at that. Or a damned stupid one. His eyes were definitely not the least bit captivating.
His voice intruded on her thoughts. "It would be more efficient for you to place your materials on a conveyance," he commented.
He was a damned arrogant Vulcan. She looked down at the haphazard bundle of tapes and papers in her arms, then looked back at the Vulcan. "Yes, it would be," she responded. Her eyes traveled back to the lights and her foot began to tap again.
When she made no move to continue the conversation, Sarek was at a loss. He wanted to ask about the flowers on Earth, and he had hoped to engage her on that topic. This was somewhat more complicated than his experiences at trade summits had led him to believe.
"I can tell you where the conveyances are if you wish," he continued, not wanting her to stop speaking with him. He unconsciously squared his shoulders again. He recalled an article in a xenobehavioral journal from his days as a student at the Vulcan Science Academy. It indicated that Terrans, as well as other species, placed great value on their perceptions of confidence when engaging in interspecies social interactions. He remembered that the findings of the study were that their levels of trust were increased by their perception of confidence levels of the speaker of the other species. This time he consciously squared his shoulders and made sure that his posture was impeccably straight.
She turned to face him again, this time not hiding her irritation. "What?" she confronted him, more than asked him.
Her exotic eyes seemed to flash at him. They were really quite fascinating...and quite appealing. Appealing? Perhaps his warp-lag was more extensive than he thought.
"I do not understand..." he stated, pulling his shoulders back once again, wanting her to perceive his confidence so that she would trust him. Then he would ask her about the amat'lan plants.
"You don't understand what?" she asked him with exasperation in her voice. She was beginning to lean toward the hypothesis that he was both arrogant and stupid, all at the same time. And what the hell was that thing he kept doing with his shoulders? She sighed loudly. It simply baffled her that she should be trapped on what was apparently the slowest turbolift on the planet with this insufferable Vulcan. Even if he did have the most gorgeous eyes she had ever seen. Now why did that thought keep popping into her head?
"I do not understand why you chose not to transport your materials on one of the wheeled conveyances that I have noticed located on every floor of the embassy," he continued.
"As a matter of fact, it's because I didn't want to use a 'conveyance' if that's alright with you," she told him tersely, her eyes flashing at him again.
He was somewhat taken aback by the aggressiveness in her tone and posture. Clearly he had offended her somehow. Perhaps the results of the xenobehavioral article did not apply to this particular Terran female. This was turning into quite a disaster. He hoped that the negotiations were not going to have a similar outcome. Relaxing his tense shoulders, he tried again, this time matching her style of speech as closely as he could. "As a matter of fact, it is acceptable to me that you did not want to use a conveyance. I will assist you with carrying your materials if that is alright with you," he declared authoritatively, looking straight into her eyes. Her eyes widened with surprise. Then her mouth turned up at the corners again and she began shaking. He had never seen anything like this before. He wondered at the sounds she was emitting. Was she having difficulty breathing? Should he summon a healer?
"Yes, that is alright with me," she told him when the sounds subsided. He could not decipher the expression in her eyes, but it did not seem to be hostile any longer. Her mouth was still turned up at the corners. He stepped toward her and lifted the topmost layer of her materials off of their precarious perch.
"Thank you. The real reason is because I was in too big of a hurry," she told him, her eyes fastening on his. He really did have lovely eyes. The darkest she had ever seen.
"Ah," he said. "Would it not be more efficient to allot an adequate amount of time for traveling to your next appointment?"
"I suppose so. But I didn't. I was afraid I would be late for a meeting with the new Ambassador," she responded.
"You will not be late," he told her confidently.
"Oh? You're sure about that, are you?" she challenged, her eyebrow rising again.
"As a matter of fact, I am quite certain. If that is alright with you."
Her lips parted this time as they curved upward and he could see the whiteness of her teeth. "Well, I hope that you are correct," she told him.
"I am." This time she tilted her head to the side and cocked an eyebrow at him. He raised an eyebrow of his own in response. She made the choking sounds again as her lips curved up, but not as extensively as the first time. He wondered whether her lips were as soft as they appeared. For a long moment he allowed himself to consider that possibility. Her voice brought him back.
"By the way, it will not work," she told him in perfect Vulcan. The elevator doors opened just then. They stepped out and he followed her, carrying her materials.
"What will not work?" he responded in Vulcan, surprised at the flawless way she spoke his native language. She did not sound like an offworlder at all.
"Your trade proposal," she answered, turning her head to look at him. He was very attractive, and not nearly as stupid as she had thought. A little arrogant perhaps, but at least this Vulcan seemed willing to take suggestions. His slanted eyebrows knitted together in confusion.
"I do not understand. The proposal offers the most advantages to both sides. Logic dictates that it will succeed," he told her in what she perceived as a patronizing manner.
"Yes. It is very logical," she conceded.
"Indeed it is."
"That is exactly why it will not work," she countered.
"I do not..."
"...understand. Yes, I know," she told him, her lips curving again.
"Please explain," he replied. Was it really possible that there was a flaw in his proposal? He mentally began calculating the odds. If there was a defect, he could not find it.
Their pace slowed as they reached her work area. Sarek's mouth nearly dropped open in shock when he saw the degree of disarray. How could she work in this disorganized space?
"Just put those down right there," she told him, indicating a corner of her desk that was already piled high with tapes and documents. She dumped her stack of materials onto another mound rising out of the center of her desk. Sarek gingerly placed his stack on top of the area she had indicated. To his surprise, the entire column did not fall.
"I don't have time to go into details right now. I'm expecting the Ambassador any minute. It's a good thing I cleaned up in here yesterday," she told him looking around the room. Sarek blinked. This was clean?
"Indeed," he offered. At that moment Saran came around the corner.
"Ambassador. Please forgive my delay. I will accompany you to the Cryptographic Section now, if you wish," Saran told him, looking at the female and then back at Sarek curiously.
"Ambassador?" the woman said as if to herself.
"Yes. Allow me to present Ambassador Sarek cha Skonn cha Solkar of Vulcan," Saran told her solemnly.
"Oh, shi..." she muttered softly, again as if to herself.
"Excuse me?" Saran was not quite able to make out her utterance. Sarek lifted an eyebrow.
"Oh, sure ... of course. Ambassador Sarek, welcome to the Linguistics Section," she said waving her arm across an expanse of workstations. Sarek noted that her desk was indeed clean compared to the others in the area.
"Ambassador, this is Dr. Amanda Grayson. She is in charge of the Embassy's linguistics program. Specifically, she leads a team developing a universal translation device. In her off-hours she teaches our staff more idiomatic Standard, as well as English," Saran continued.
"Dr. Grayson, I am honored," Sarek said formally, bowing slightly. The corner of his mouth twitched upward fractionally.
"Please, Ambassador. Hardly anyone calls me 'doctor.' We're rather informal up here, as you've probably noticed. Call me Amanda," she told him.
Sarek once again noted the softness of her lips as she spoke. He wondered idly what they would feel like on his skin. He felt the blood rush to the tips of his ears. Aware of Saran's curious gaze, Sarek dragged his eyes away from her lips and casually looked around the linguistics area as he asserted his biocontrols to divert the bloodflow from his ears. Then he looked back at Amanda.
"Very well ... Amanda," Sarek said, his voice soft, yet deep.
If she had thought his eyes were lovely, they were nothing compared to the silky baritone of his voice. She wondered what it would be like to have that voice whispering in her ear... Suddenly her face felt hot.
"Well then. Shall I escort you to the Cryptographics area, Ambassador?" Saran inquired, his eyes darting back and forth between Sarek and the Earthwoman.
Sarek's eyes were still on Amanda Grayson and he noticed that her face had taken on an interesting pale red hue. The corner of Sarek's mouth twitched again. "As a matter of fact, I would like to discuss this universal translation device with Dr. Grayson ... Amanda ... if that is alright with you," Sarek told Saran. "And I would imagine that you have many details to attend to for the trade summit tomorrow, is that not so?"
"Yes, of course, Ambassador," Saran replied, visibly relieved that the Ambassador understood the difficulties of his job. He would be up all night as it was. Saran nodded and then made his way toward the turbolift.
Sarek turned his attention back to Amanda Grayson. Her face had returned to its normal coloring.
Her eyes sparkled as she gazed up at his tall form. "So, Ambassador. What is it that you wish to discuss?" Was that the hint of a smile on his face? Surely not. In her experience, Vulcans did not smile under any circumstances. "Please, Amanda. We are also quite informal in the Linguistics Department on Vulcan. You may call me Sarek when we are alone," he returned softly. There was the reddish color in her face again.
"I see. Very well. What is that you wish to discuss ... Sarek?" she said as she indicated the chair next to her desk. Sarek moved a mountain of books onto the floor and then sat in the chair. Frowning slightly, he reached behind him and finally extracted a computer disc.
"Oh, good! I've been looking everywhere for that," Amanda exclaimed. Sarek's eyebrow rose again, but he did not suggest that she employ a more formal filing system. Instead he handed the disc to her. As her hand lightly brushed his, he felt the blood rise to the tips his ears again. Amanda looked at him surreptitiously. He was very attractive, indeed, even if his ears kept changing color. "Well?" she asked him, leaning forward, resting her elbows on her desk.
Sarek squared his shoulders. "I wish to discuss ... Terran flora," he told her, his dark eyes drinking her in. In the back of his mind, Sarek thought that it would be most agreeable to gaze into her sky-blue eyes for the rest of his life.
"Terran flora? You mean plant life?" Amanda said incredulously.
"Yes, precisely." Amanda nearly laughed out loud as his ears became an even darker green. What on Earth was that thing he kept doing with his shoulders? Not that it mattered. Losing herself momentarily in the shadowy depths of his eyes, she was certain that she could get used to his unusual shoulder movements over time. In fact, Amanda decided that there were a great many things she could tolerate as long as she could follow the sound of his sultry voice.
It was the sound of her own stomach growling that brought her out of her fantasy about listening to his voice until the end of time. Sarek was regarding her curiously.
"I'm starving. Have you eaten dinner?" Amanda asked. Sarek realized that he had not eaten in quite some time.
"No, I have not. Do you wish to have a meal in the dining area?" he suggested, not wanting their conversation to end just yet. The Embassy dining room was the only place he had obtained meals since arriving the night before, and he had not been briefed on the local establishments. Amanda cocked her head to the side again.
"Do you like Mexican?" she asked.
Sarek did not know how to respond. Could she possibly be serious about eating Mexicans for dinner?
"Vulcans are vegetarians," he told her in a serious tone. Amanda's face became clouded with confusion. Then a smile tugged at the corners of her mouth as she realized that he must be thinking that she was some kind of cannibal.
"Mexican restaurants offer a large selection of vegetarian foods. What I am thinking is a big eggplant and tofu burrito with some mango salsa from Burrito Bob's," she told him, her sapphire eyes lighting up at the thought of mango salsa.
Sarek mentally ran down the list of acceptable foods he received in his briefing packet. None of the items that she had mentioned should pose a problem, since they were all vegan. He did not believe that the words eggplant, tofu, mango, or burrito had appeared anywhere on the list of foods that might cause gastrointestinal distress. In fact, he had eaten a fruit called a mango that very morning for breakfast and had found it quite agreeable.
"Burritos would be acceptable," he decided. Sarek was also looking forward to getting outside of the Embassy, even if only for a short while. After a claustrophobic weeklong starship voyage and an entire morning spent indoors, Sarek wanted to be in the open air. More importantly, he wanted to be with this woman for as long as possible.
"Great! I've had a craving for habanero sauce all week," Amanda told him enthusiastically.
"Habanero sauce would be acceptable," Sarek told her. Habanero was not on his list of questionable foods either. Amanda smiled at him again.
"Perhaps you should try something a little milder if you've not eaten Mexican food before." She had heard that Vulcan cuisine was bland compared to Terran and did not want him to suffer intense discomfort, not only while eating the habanero pepper sauce which was notoriously hot, but afterwards as well.
"I will bow to your expertise in this matter, Amanda," Sarek said, his mouth turning up slightly at one corner. Amanda stood up and Sarek followed suit, and they briefly looked into one another's eyes before they turned toward the turbolift.
As the lift doors closed behind them, Amanda was quite pleased that she had not decided to take the stairs today. Looking at her dinner companion from beneath her lashes she asked "Now then. What was it that you wanted to know about Terran flora?"