DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of T'Lea and Selek and is copyright (c) 2002 by T'Lea and Selek. This story is rated NC17.



THE FIRST YEAR

T'Lea and Selek



Sarek of Vulcan pulled his cloak tightly around him as the cool breeze blowing across the bay gusted stronger. Sunlight had peeked out from the overcast sky earlier in the morning, its warm tendrils coaxing Sarek outside. Now it was turning gray and blustery. And cold. Winter had definitely arrived in San Francisco. The young Ambassador, both to Earth and the Federation, strode toward the Vulcan Embassy.

'It smells like rain,' Sarek thought.

He shook his head ruefully. It was illogical to make predictions about the weather based upon an olfactory sensation. The first time he heard Amanda's father comment that it smelled like rain, Sarek had believed that his own translation of Federation Standard was faulty. Later, Sarek had asked Amanda for clarification but she had simply laughed and told him that his translation was indeed correct.

Sarek reluctantly turned away from the railing at the edge of the promontory. He retraced his route through the park, his mind turning from forecasting the weather to the work that awaited his return. Emerging on the far side of the park, Sarek joined the throng of people scurrying about their business. He moved gracefully through the stream of humanity, keeping his own sedate pace.

Humans were always in such a hurry. Sarek did not understand their propensity for being late, and then rushing to compensate for their lack of planning. Terrans did not possess a perfect internal sense of time like Vulcans, but they made up for this by having chronometers everywhere. Sarek failed to understand how someone wearing a chronometer, constantly surrounded by other indicators of time, could still have problems being punctual. However, he had come to expect habitual tardiness from most humans after he had been on Earth only a few weeks. He still didn't comprehend it, though. Thankfully, Amanda was unfailingly on time.

Sarek's mouth curved slightly upward as his thoughts turned to his wife. No one but Amanda would construe the small twitch at the corner of his mouth as a smile. Sarek's reassertion of control was so swift that passers-by would not have noticed any change in his expression at all had they bothered to look in his direction. Fortunately, the Terrans he passed were too wrapped up in their own affairs to take much notice of him. The Vulcan ambassador deftly avoided head-on collisions with preoccupied human pedestrians as he made his way back to the embassy.

Sarek waited for the crossing light to change, his hands folded placidly at his midsection.

"Oh, for Pete's sake! I can't get over how long this light is," a man next to him commented.

Sarek could not understand the man's outburst. The lights were computer controlled, and accurately timed to allow for the optimum flow of traffic. Sarek knew that the timing for this particular intersection did not vary at all. The light changed at a constant interval. It was neither slow nor fast. It simply was. It was illogical to think of time as anything other than a constant.

"This is taking forever. I'm gonna be an old man by the time this light changes," the man next to him again said to no one in particular. Sarek did not bother to tell the man that the light would change in exactly 5.7 seconds and he seriously doubted that the man would age significantly in that period of time. Five point seven seconds was definitely not forever. Another human exaggeration. Sarek wondered if Amanda's phrase "making a mountain out of a molehill" would apply to this situation. The corner of his mouth was tugged involuntarily upward again.

Despite his fierce discipline, Sarek's control was eroded whenever Amanda intruded into his consciousness. His wife would no doubt find it amusing that he was teaching her Vulcan techniques for mastering emotion when he himself slipped up so often. Not that he would ever admit it to her, of course. He was quite certain that if she had any inkling of how often he found himself daydreaming about her that she would indeed "make a mountain out of a molehill." This time, he consciously suppressed the hint of a smile threatening to break across his countenance.

"It's a miracle," the man next to him exclaimed as he surged forward.

The light had changed and people spilled into the intersection. Sarek did not understand their haste. The light would permit crossing for several minutes. Sarek stifled a sigh as Terrans bumped into him from all directions. He wondered briefly if it would be safer for him to take his chances by jumping directly into the snarl of groundcar traffic.

Sarek took one last breath of air before he entered the Vulcan embassy. He would be in negotiations with the Andorian ambassador for the rest of the day and there would be no further opportunity for any outdoor activity. As the chill air hit his nostrils, the smell wafting across the bay evoked a strong memory of his wedding day nearly a year earlier. He accepted the feeling the olfactory impression triggered, despite the illogic of doing so. This time, he did not bother to suppress the soft smile that played across his lips.

It did smell like rain.

* * *

Sarek rode the turbolift to the upper floors of the Embassy. He attempted to focus his mind on the upcoming round of talks with the Andorians. As he organized his thoughts, his attention was drawn to the conversation of the two human males who were also passengers on the turbolift. During his tenure on Earth, Sarek had carefully observed turbolift behavior. Do not speak. Do not make eye contact. Face straight ahead toward the door. Look up at the lights displaying the building levels. He was interested that these two men were breaking with protocol and talking in the lift.

"Man, oh man. I have to do something big for this one or I'll be in the doghouse for sure," the blonde man commented.

Dog house? Sarek did not understand. Amanda's parents had a dog, but it lived with them in their house. Amanda's mother often stated that the creature thought that it owned the place. Did other humans have dwellings built specifically for their canine pets?

"Don't sweat it. Send her some flowers. A little dinner at a swank restaurant where she can gawk at some of the beautiful people. Rub elbows with some celebs. Spring for a bottle of French champagne, and not the cheap stuff like you usually buy. I guarantee she'll be eating right out of your hand, compadre," the other man told his companion sagely.

Eating right out of his hand? All of the restaurants Sarek had been to on Earth had silverware, however, Amanda's favorite establishment in Chinatown did provide wooden sticks, called 'chopsticks', to its customers. Why would this female with the doghouse want to eat right out of the blonde man's hand in a public place? Amanda often proffered him tidbits of whatever she was eating or cooking but she had never done so in public. Nor had she ever expressed any desire to eat out of his hand while they were dining out. "When I came home empty-handed for our last anniversary, I thought it was curtains for sure," the blonde man continued.

Empty-handed? Well, that would make sense if the blonde man's female was expecting to eat out of his hand. Unless, of course, he was supposed to have the food item in his hand upon arriving home. Sarek was not sure of the etiquette governing such a situation.

"Yep. Not doing the wedding anniversary thing is very dangerous, amigo. Could have been instant divorce, right on the spot. You were lucky to dodge that bullet," the other man told his blonde friend.

Bullet? Had the blonde man's bondmate actually shot at him with some archaic Terran weapon? Sarek was fairly sure that Amanda did not have such armament. On the other hand, her father might have access to such relics since he was an archaeologist.

Instant divorce? Sarek had never heard of such a thing on Earth. Most divorces that he knew of were long, drawn out, complicated negotiations between the two party's legal representatives. If he came home "empty handed" on their anniversary, would Amanda divorce him on the spot? Or worse, would she invoke the kalifee at his next pon farr? His blood ran cold at the thought. Perhaps this was some clan ritual that dated back to ancient times just like the ceremonial lirpas and ahn'woons used on Vulcan. However, the Vulcan weapons were still deadly, even if they were simply a reminder of pre-Reform tradition. He did not want Amanda to be tempted to invoke the kalifee. Sarek's musing was diverted by the two men's conversation again.

"Face it. You're gonna have to cough up some major credits to get back in her good graces," the blonde man's friend continued.

Cough up? Sarek did not want to know what that meant.

"I suppose you're right. I'll just fork over the credits and then it will be smooth sailing," the blonde man said.

Fork over? Maybe the blonde man's bondmate would not be eating out of his hand, after all. Sarek had no idea where boating came into this. Perhaps sailing was the blonde man's hobby since there were several marinas in the area.

"Look at it as an investment," the blonde man's companion told him.

"Yeah. Hopefully I'll be getting a lot of, uh, returns on my investment," the blonde man answered. Both men laughed out loud as they exited the turbolift at their floor.

Sarek gazed thoughtfully at the turbolift door as it closed behind the two men. He would have to thoroughly research this anniversary custom quickly as their first wedding anniversary was next week and he did not want his wife to seek the Challenge at his next Time.

Since the Andorian ambassador took up his day, he would ask Saran's advice. His aide was well-versed in Terran protocol. If he did not have the information at hand, he would make discrete inquiries. Saran would probably have a complete operating procedure for anniversaries on his desk by tomorrow morning. Sarek did not wish to appear ignorant of Earth practices, nor did he wish for Amanda to feel slighted in any way.

* * *

It was after 2:00 a.m. when Sarek wearily boarded the lift again. He rode to the top floors of the Embassy that housed the Vulcan staff. Quietly, he entered his suite, not wishing to wake his wife. When he saw the lights on in the living area, he sighed outwardly.

He had quite logically presented Amanda with the reasons why she should not wait up for him last night, when he also came home very late and found her still awake and reading through her presentation for an upcoming linguistics conference which featured her as the keynote speaker. She had smiled at him and asked if he'd eaten anything, but her eyes had been red with fatigue. She was barely able to keep them open long enough to go to bed. He had insisted that she would be in no condition to teach the following day. Then he made her promise that she would go to sleep early tonight. Now that he thought about it, he wasn't certain that she had actually agreed. Whenever Amanda could not find any flaws in his logic she simple chose to ignore his arguments.

She had listened patiently, then shook her head and smiled at him. "You argue well, my logical husband. But all the logic in the world can't make me sleep well when you're not beside me," Amanda told him.

"You sleep well when I am in the other room. You slept well without me beside you for 23 years," Sarek pointed out.

"That's different," Amanda said, ending her argument on that note. She stood on her tiptoes and kissed him goodnight, and then stumbled off to bed. Sometimes she made no sense at all. Perhaps it was the fatigue.

Sarek placed his satchel on the chair near the door, careful not to make any noise just in case his wife had actually listened to him last night. He padded softly across the carpeting to the living area. Another smile threatened to break across his face.

Amanda was stretched out on the sofa in her nightgown, one arm flung out to the side. The notes she had been making for her conference presentation were scattered on the floor beside the couch, her fountain pen dangling precariously from her open hand. Her lips were parted slightly, and Sarek could hear her slow, steady breathing. Sarek leaned over and carefully plucked the pen from her hand, sliding the cap into place so that the ink would not dry. He stood for a moment longer, watching the gentle rise and fall of her chest, then bent over and lifted her into his arms. She did not even stir. How long had it been since he'd held her like this? Sarek resolved to remedy the situation as soon as possible.

He delicately placed her on their bed. Desperately trying not to wake her, he managed to extricate the covers from beneath her sleeping form. He pulled the bedclothes over her, then leaned down and lightly kissed her forehead. Amanda mumbled something unintelligible and rolled over onto her side. Sarek undressed and slipped into bed next to her, his arm automatically encircling her waist.

"Mmmmfffrrrrmissedyou," Amanda muttered, her voice thick with sleep.

"And I you, my wife," Sarek whispered into her hair. Moments later he drifted off as her body molded comfortably against his own.

* * *

When Sarek arrived at his office the next morning, a document was on his desk. He saw who it was from, then opened it with interest. It was Saran's research on anniversaries. Sarek sat down and read it, occasionally stopping in contemplation. He was pleased to see Saran was most thorough in his research of this topic and wondered who his references were.

He sat back in his chair when he had finished the report. His mind was considering many options, gift ideas swirling through his brain. There seemed to be considerable leeway in what was considered appropriate ways of celebrating the occasion. Sarek mentally sorted and catalogued all of the information gleaned from Saran's investigation.

On one page of the report, Saran had listed traditional anniversary gifts. According to Saran's table, paper was the customary offering for the first anniversary. Paper? Sarek could not comprehend why paper would be a suitable anniversary present, and could not begin to fathom what the symbolic meaning of it would be, if any. On the other hand, Amanda wrote almost exclusively with her old-fashioned fountain pen. He could obtain some fine writing paper for her, or perhaps another of the bound volumes that she wrote in every night. It was similar to the computer log that he kept, or so he believed. He had never actually looked inside one of her journals since he knew it was a private thing. Amanda once commented that it was her form of meditation.

Sarek unfolded one of the ads that Saran had included in the Appendix of his report. The ad showed a sparkling, faceted diamond illuminating the dark background of the advertisement like a beacon from one of the lighthouses Sarek had seen along the coast. The text at the bottom proclaimed "Is two month's salary really too much to spend?" Then underneath that "The diamond anniversary ring. Show her that you'd marry her all over again. Exclusively at Kingston Jewelers."

Diamond anniversary ring? Amanda was not overly fond of jewelry. She only wore it for official Embassy functions or for "special occasions" which also seemed to be related to her using her grandmother's lace tablecloth and the "good" china. At those times, she usually favored earrings or pendants, sometimes bracelets. When she did wear jewelry, she preferred sapphires and the fiery red zeotite stones from the Antares sector over diamonds. The only ring she wore was a thin, gold wedding band that she and Sarek had picked out together.

He remembered that day quite well. He had cleared his calendar completely, expecting to devote the entire day to the selection of this piece of jewelry, which was apparently crucial to their marriage ceremony on Earth. It must be vital, otherwise there would not have been so much discussion among her female family members and friends devoted to the topic of "the rings." Sarek did not wish for Amanda's clan to think that he was ignorant of Terran customs so he had offered to take several more days of leave to search for a ring, but Amanda hadn't thought that it would be necessary.

It had taken exactly fifteen minutes from the time they entered the first shop to the time the tiny velvet box was in the palm of Sarek's hand. Amanda had been very decisive, walking directly to the display case, looking briefly at the shiny metal objects displayed within. A clerk approached them, asking if she could show them something in the case.

"We are searching for a wedding ring," Sarek told her. The clerk had looked at his ears curiously, then at Amanda.

"I have several nice pieces that might interest you," the clerk told them, smiling.

As she unlocked the case, she prattled on about the various metals and gemstones. The metal Trillium was apparently quite popular that year with brides throughout the Federation. It seemed that absolutely everyone who was anyone was getting their rings made from Trillium. When she looked up at Amanda expectantly, Amanda pointed to a plain, unadorned band way in the back corner of the case.

"That one," Amanda told her simply. The clerk looked at Amanda doubtfully, then at Sarek who was standing with his hands clasped behind his back, his expression impassive. It was obvious to the clerk, who knew all about such things, that the woman's alien fiancé was well off financially. He was handsome, the clerk thought, regarding him unobtrusively, but, he was, well, obviously not human. The clerk took the ring out of the case and placed it on a piece of black velvet.

"Let me show you something with some diamonds. I have just the thing," the clerk said as she ducked her head back into the case.

"No, thank you," Amanda said politely, slipping the delicate gold band onto her finger to check the size. Sarek had not noticed how beautiful the ring really was until Amanda put it on her finger. In fact, he had not noticed it at all amid the overwhelming glitter. It was exquisite. Its simplicity appealed to Sarek's restrained sense of aesthetics. Amanda's eyes positively sparkled when she looked up at him. That, as humans say, had been that. Two months salary? Sarek wondered if it could possibly be a misprint. That figure seemed somewhat excessive, particularly if he was supposed to buy Amanda paper for their first anniversary. Unless he bought her some very expensive paper. Perhaps something like the historical documents that her father was always unearthing. Such antiques were considered quite valuable on Earth, and were often auctioned off. On Vulcan, it would not occur to anyone to profit from historical objects. Amanda's wedding ring had certainly not cost him two month's salary, far from it, actually. Sarek mentally marked the diamond anniversary ring off of his list of potential gifts.

Sarek perused the other data Saran had assembled in the Appendix section. As he scanned it, his slanted eyebrows shot up momentarily. Saran's intelligence source must be very well placed indeed. As Sarek absorbed the information, a course of action finally crystallized.

* * *

Sarek had spent the rest of the morning in Council Chambers and when they finally adjourned for lunch, he decided to implement his plan. He walked through the center of San Francisco until he came to the shop that was mentioned in Saran's report. He walked into the store and was greeted by a pleasant-looking, human female.

"May I help you?" she said, walking toward him.

"I am here to purchase an anniversary gift for my wife. I was advised that this establishment would have such a gift."

"I see. Yes, I'm sure we can accommodate you. Why don't you look around and see if anything appeals to you. My name is Moira, and I own this boutique. If you have any questions at all just let me know, and I'll take care of it personally." With that, she left him to browse.

Sarek wandered around the store, looking at the candles, oils, and accessories. He picked up one item and examined it closely to determine its use. It was shaped as a phallus, but he could see no logical use for it. According to the placard on the shelf, it was to relax tired muscles, but if this were true, surely it would be shaped differently. Then it dawned on him. Taking its shape into account, the only reasonable deduction he could make was that it was for. He quickly replaced it on the shelf. He looked up and saw clothing toward the back of the store and headed there to investigate. Moira discretely hovered in the background rearranging a display, close enough to answer any questions but far enough away to insure privacy. Her experience over the years with males of every species imaginable told her that it was a universal principle that they did not like to be accosted while shopping for intimate presents. Except for the Orion trader who had wanted her to model something for him, which she refused to do since she did not want him to get the impression that she herself was for sale as an accessory to the leopard-print bodysuit.

Sarek stopped in front of a nightwear display. His eyes were drawn immediately to a red, floor-length nightgown with a sheer covering. The iridescent material clung to the lifelike mannequin, giving him an indication of how it would fit a human female. 'Amanda would find this a most appealing garment,' Sarek thought. He glanced at the price tag and turned to Moira. When she had finished straightening her display, she looked up at him.

"I will purchase this," Sarek told her.

"What size is she, do you know?" Moira inquired.

"I do not know her size as your system of measurement is different than mine, but I know her weight and height. Will that be sufficient?"

"Yes. I can determine her size from that information." Most men told her "about your size." She took a padd out of her pocket and waited for Sarek to supply the information she needed. Once he did, she found Amanda's size on the chart on her padd. "That one on display is too large. I'll look in the back for a smaller one."

Sarek waited for her return. Three minutes later, she returned with another red nightdress over her arm. "This will be perfect. Of course, if it doesn't fit, just bring it back for an exchange or refund. But I'm sure this will do the trick. May I ask what anniversary it is?"

"Yes, you may. It is our first anniversary."

"Since it is a special occasion, would you like me to wrap it for you?"

"Yes. That would be acceptable," Sarek answered, knowing how much Amanda enjoyed unwrapping the brightly colored packages at Christmas.

Moira expertly packaged up Sarek's purchase, slid it into an elegant bag, and handed it to him.

"I've put one of our catalogs in the bag in case you ever want to do your shopping from home or when you are away on travel," Moira told him, her smile genuine with warmth.

"Thank you." Sarek responded politely. Bowing his head fractionally in acknowledgment, he turned and made his way to the front door.

"Good luck on your anniversary," she called after him.

Good luck? Sarek did not understand the human concept of "luck", but he did not wish to appear rude. Sarek turned his head toward her as he opened the door. "Yes. Thank you," Sarek answered, hoping it was the appropriate response.

On the walk back to the Embassy, he started thinking about his life lately with Amanda. They had been so busy, that he had been 'lucky' to see her for more than five minutes a day. And when they were 'lucky' enough to have some time alone, one of them was usually interrupted by the comm unit. If it wasn't about the Andorian trade agreement, it was regarding the up-coming conference on linguistics. Amanda was agonizing over her keynote speech. Sarek kept telling her it was adequate, but that did not seem to satisfy her in the slightest. When they both went to bed at night, she was so tired and tense that Sarek abandoned any thought of mating with her. Instead, he would gather her up in his arms, stroke her hair soothingly, and watch her until he heard the deep breathing of sleep.

As he ruminated on what to do about their situation, he glanced up at a neon billboard. He stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, walked back to the sign, and read the billboard more carefully. A strategy coalesced in his mind. Memorizing the address, he made another stop on his way back to the Embassy.

When Sarek returned to his office, he had twelve-point-seven minutes to prepare for the afternoon session with the Andorians. He was grateful for all the work he did yesterday evening, preparing for today's session.

He placed his purchase in his private filing cabinet. Then he gathered his padds and headed out the door to the conference room.

Late that evening, the trade agreement was completed and the Andorians were back in their Embassy, presumably pleased. It had taken many hours of negotiating, but now it was finally finished. Sarek returned to his office and sank wearily in his chair. There were two days before his anniversary and now he could devote more of his time to making further preparations.

He knew that Amanda would be pleased with today's purchase, but Sarek wanted more. He had not been truly alone with his wife in over two weeks, and he wanted their first anniversary to be special for Amanda. He thought back to the conversation that started this whole line of research. 'Perhaps if we went to a fine restaurant, she would be pleased with that as well,' Sarek mused. He knew Amanda was giving her keynote address the afternoon of their anniversary at the Federation Linguistics conference, but after that, she, too, would be free. Sarek wanted to celebrate that freedom with her. He coded in the comm number to the restaurant where he had taken her for their first real "date" and made a reservation for two for the night of their anniversary. He envisioned presenting Amanda with her gift at the table, but realized the box was far too big for that. Also, he was not certain that it was something that she would be comfortable opening in public. He would not want her to be embarrassed on their anniversary.

'It would be logical to present it to her after dinner,' Sarek reasoned. The corner of his mouth twitched upward. In fact, presenting it to her after dinner would logically compliment the other arrangements he had made this afternoon.

* * *

Finally! It was over. Amanda breathed a sign of relief as she gathered up her notes and returned them to her attaché case. She had spent the last forty-five minutes patiently answering questions from students and other conference attendees. The crowd had eventually dwindled to just a few earnest students, everyone else taking advantage of the hotel's early Happy Hour prices. It would not do for the keynote speaker to bolt out the door immediately after her talk, Amanda thought wryly.

She had been tempted for a minute, though. Particularly when the man with the horrible goatee, and equally horrible attitude, had been blatantly trying to come on to her. He had taken the concept "goatee" just a little too far. Not only did the man actually look like an unkempt billy goat, he was incredibly rude to a shy first-year Tellarite graduate student who had timidly asked Amanda a question during the general session. That sort of behavior always made Amanda's temper flare. She had controlled it, however, using some of the mental techniques Sarek had taught her. She had very subtly, but firmly, put the man in his place by outlining why Goat Man's, as Amanda had come to think of him, response was not in line with the current models of theoretical linguistics. It had been most satisfying to see the look on his face. The Tellarite had smiled and seemed to come out of her shell just a bit after that. No wonder Sarek used this strategy so often. She would have to remember to thank her husband for teaching it to her.

The remaining gaggle of graduate students invited her to join them for a drink at a pub across the street from the conference site. Remembering what a big deal it had been for her to interact informally with visiting scholars and professors when she herself had been a student, Amanda took them up on their offer. Seeing the young Tellarite woman hovering on the periphery of the group, Amanda made a point of including her in their plans.

Now Amanda was making her way back to the Embassy. The glass of Chardonnay had been very smooth and had settled well. She had begged off having another. One more drink would have gone straight to her head on her empty stomach. She was never able to eat much before she gave a presentation, no matter how many times she gave them. She wondered if Sarek ever experienced this before speaking at important summits. She smiled at the thought of her calm, composed husband frantically pacing back and forth in private immediately before giving a speech. No, she decided, Vulcans would not waste energy wondering whether they were prepared enough. And, if they did, there were probably mental techniques for controlling the anxiety. Another smile crossed her lips. Perhaps this was why Sarek spent so much time in meditation.

She couldn't wait to see him. Today was their first anniversary. It was hard for her to believe that they had been married for a whole year. Best of all, they would both be home tonight. Amanda quickly catalogued the food alternatives she had in the small kitchenette in their suite at the Embassy. She knew they had several nice bottles of wine to choose from. She would put her grandmother's lace tablecloth on the table and set it with the good china and crystal. She would fix a few of Sarek's favorite dishes. She always kept the main ingredients on hand. And then, she thought determinedly, she would lock him in their bedroom as far away from the comm unit as they could both get.

* * *

Amanda kicked off her pumps the minute she closed the door to their suite. Tottering on high-heeled shoes for the entire morning was no picnic in the park. On the walk home, she had been tempted to chuck the heels after only a block or so, but decided that skipping through the Embassy barefoot would not make a very favorable impression on the Vulcan staff or upon visiting dignitaries. She curled her toes into the plush carpet, enjoying the sensation of the thick pile massaging her toes. After she figured out what to cook for dinner, she would treat herself to a nice, long soak in the tub. Maybe another glass of wine while the bubblebath worked its magic on her tired, sore feet. She couldn't wait to get out of her confining undergarments.

She went through the bedroom to the bath to start the hot water running in the antique tub. When she and Sarek had decided to live at the Embassy after their marriage, Amanda had told him that the only thing she would miss about her apartment was the big bathtub. In typical Sarek fashion, he had consulted with her father and they had found something very close to the one in her apartment. Sarek had surprised her with the renovations when they returned from their honeymoon. Amanda smiled as she recalled his thoughtfulness. She had no doubt that all of the Vulcans at the Embassy used sonic showers, even though there were water showers in the suites. She had taught Sarek to appreciate the sensual aspects of water. She wondered what the other resident Vulcans had made of the plumbers installing the huge claw-footed tub in the Ambassador's quarters. Amanda had never been able to figure out exactly how the workmen had maneuvered the large tank into Sarek's bathroom. It would not surprise her in the least to find out that Sarek had simulated the entire procedure on the computer beforehand to make certain it was feasible. And, if it hadn't been, she could imagine him matter-of-factly contracting carpenters to knock the wall out. Her husband let very little deter him once he had decided on something. Which was a good thing, she thought, as she smiled briefly recalling their first date. Otherwise, they probably would never have married one another.

Amanda picked up a bottle of lavender-scented bubblebath and went to turn on the water. As she reached out for the hot-water knob, she saw a single red rose attached to the handle with a red ribbon. This time she smiled broadly. Sarek knew the most logical place to leave something he wanted her to find. Placing the bubblebath on the rim of the tub, she carefully untied the thin ribbon from the thorny stem. Sarek had taped a note around the stem, and Amanda pulled it off. She inhaled deeply from the rose petals as she read the note.

"Amanda, I would be most gratified if you would join me for dinner tonight in honor of our anniversary. It would please me to see you in your blue dress, the one that you wore the first time I took you out to dinner. My driver will be waiting for you at 6:30 p.m. in front of the Embassy---Sarek."

This was definitely an interesting development. She had seen her husband only in passing the past few weeks, and he hadn't mentioned anything about their anniversary. Amanda herself had been totally preoccupied with planning for the linguistics conference. She had not expected this at all. Left to his own devices, Sarek could be surprisingly romantic even though he claimed to have no idea what the word meant. If she teased him about it, he always had a perfectly "logical" reason for his seemingly illogical behavior, and if he needed to deconstruct his often spontaneous, inexplicable actions so that they conformed to his rational Vulcan mindset, that was fine with her. She could take a nice long bath since she didn't have to prepare dinner and set the table.

As water ran in the tub, Amanda went through to the bedroom to get her blue dress out of the back of the closet. To her astonishment, the mandarin-style dress was already laid out on their bed, along with the sapphire pendant and earrings she had also worn on their first date. It seemed that her husband had thought of everything.

Amanda undressed, finally extricating herself from the confines of her underclothes. She sighed with relief. Much better. She stretched, feeling some of the tiredness leave her muscles. She had been running on caffeine and adrenaline for several days now. She went back in the bathroom and eased herself into the tub. Sinking back into the bubbles, her mind relaxed completely, contemplating her evening out with Sarek. As the scent of lavender took the residual tension out of her face, a faint smile appeared. She decided that she would still lock him in their bedroom when they got back home.

* * *

Amanda watched the scenery rush by as Sarek's driver wound through downtown traffic. Sepek had been polite as usual, but not very forthcoming. In fact, Amanda thought that he was even more tight-lipped than usual. She had questioned him in a roundabout way about their destination. He had answered her in a very imprecise, un-Vulcan, way. Not wanting to press the young Vulcan further, especially since he seemed uncomfortable with her line of questioning and since it was apparent that she wasn't going to get any more information out of him, Amanda settled back to enjoy the ride.

Sepek visibly relaxed when the Ambassador's wife made no more attempts at querying him. He had sworn an oath of secrecy to the Ambassador himself, and he had no intention of compromising that trust.

When he finally pulled the groundcar to the curb and stopped, Amanda waited for him to open her door. At first, it had been difficult for her to get used to following Embassy security procedures. She had not wanted to contemplate the notion of herself as a moving target; it was bad enough that someone might want to attack her husband. Sepek opened her door and she stepped out of the vehicle. She smiled immediately when she saw that Sarek had selected the restaurant where they had gone for their first date. She remembered how they were unable to finish their meal. On that first dinner date, they had suffered constant interruptions from the press corps, and finally had left without eating anything at all.

The owner of the finest restaurant San Francisco greeted Amanda when she entered the foyer. The tall, elegantly-dressed man guided her to the upstairs level of the establishment. In the many times that they had eaten here since their first date, Amanda could not recall ever having been in this section of the restaurant before. It was nearly impossible to get a reservation upstairs because of the commanding view of the bay. They were booked up every night of the week, not just on the weekend. Sarek must have made his reservations well in advance, she mused. Amanda hoped that they would not be wedged into a tiny, corner table by the kitchen.

To her surprise, Armand, the owner, led her to a private dining alcove with its own view of the bay. Candles illuminated a round table in the center of the room. Sarek sat with his back to them. When he saw their reflection in the floor-to-ceiling window, he stood up and turned around to greet his wife. Amanda's pulse quickened when she saw him. The candlelight glinted off of his shiny black hair and accentuated the chiseled planes of his face, making his eyes look mysterious and vaguely hypnotic. He was resplendent in the formal black tunic that he had worn on their wedding day. Amanda could not take her eyes off of him. She nearly jumped when Armand spoke beside her.

"Enjoy your meal," Armand told her warmly, leaving her alone with Sarek.

Sarek moved forward to greet his wife, his paired fingers outstretched to touch hers. She smiled as she touched her fingers to his. Then Sarek stepped around the table to pull out the chair adjacent to his own. As he bent over her to push the chair toward the table, she could smell his familiar, spicy scent.

She looked out over the bay and said, "Remember when we went for a walk along the beach on our first date, Sarek?"

"How could I forget, my wife. I almost drowned that night." Sarek suppressed a shudder. It was a disastrous first date. It was a wonder that Amanda agreed to see him again after it. "I have never been so cold in my life," he said.

"I never saw that wave coming," Amanda insisted. "And your heavy robes dragged you down so quickly when they filled with water!"

Then her eyes sparkled with amusement. "As I seem to recall, it was also the first time I saw you naked," she teased, remembering how she had made him strip off all of his wet clothing right in the middle of her living room. He had been frighteningly close to hypothermia.

"Yes, it was," Sarek responded matter-of-factly, knowing that she was baiting him.

"Mmmmm," she said dreamily when another mischievous smile crossed her lips. "Then the next day, I saw you naked again when Sev and I washed you with ice water to bring your fever down. What a week that was!" She chuckled.

Sarek smiled with his eyes as he remembered as well. "Amanda," he chided softly. "I am beginning to think that my state of undress is the only reason you agreed to go out with me again."

"Of course, it isn't, Sarek," she told him with mock virtuousness in her voice. "But it is the only reason I married you," she finished, grinning at him broadly.

Sarek simply raised an eyebrow in response. "Shall we order now, my wife?"

Their waiter materialized at Sarek's side, seemingly out of thin air. The young man recommended several of the vegetarian specialties of the house. As he hovered discretely beside their table, Amanda ordered the eggplant parmesan that he had indicated was his personal favorite. Sarek followed suit.

"Very good, Mr. Grayson," the waiter said, disappearing as quickly and quietly as he had appeared.

"Mr. Grayson?" Amanda asked incredulously.

"Yes. I am 'Mr. Grayson' am I not?" Sarek responded drolly. Amanda laughed out loud. Sarek continued, "I made the reservation in your name, so I am sure the waiter made the conclusion that my name is also Grayson. Obviously, he is unfamiliar with Vulcan naming etiquette."

"I suppose that technically you are Mr. Grayson, come to think of it. Does this mean that you are all mine this evening?"

"I am always 'all yours' as you well know, my wife," Sarek told her softly, his eyes growing darker with desire.

Suddenly, the wine steward appeared, just as stealthily as the headwaiter. While Amanda watched the candlelight play softly across her husband's face, Sarek and the steward discussed vintages. Amanda undressed her husband mentally, and was considering drizzling him from head to foot with melted chocolate, then slowly and thoroughly licking it all off. She wondered if they had any chocolate sauce at the Embassy. She might have to ask Sepek to stop at the all-night market on the way home. She would start with his right ear.

Sarek's voice interrupted the fantasy she was having about him. "Is that acceptable, my wife?"

"Hmmm? Oh yes, that sounds wonderful," Amanda responded. She hadn't heard a word of the wine discussion, but she had never had bad wine or food at this restaurant. After the week she'd had, any type of wine would be acceptable.

The wine was opened with a flourish and the dark burgundy liquid was poured into their glasses. The steward left quietly and Sarek raised his glass to toast Amanda. "May our remaining years together be as satisfactory as this one has been."

Amanda raised her glass and clinked it to his, her eyes smiling at the rather unusual, formal-sounding sentiment. "Hear, hear," she said.

They chatted as they ate their meal, drinking their wine and enjoying the view from the floor-to-ceiling windows. As soon as the busperson cleared the dinner plates, their waiter returned bearing a large tray of desserts. Amanda perused the selection, then crooked her finger at the waiter. He bent over and she spoke softly in his ear.

"Yes, I believe the dessert chef can prepare that for you. I'll be right back." The waiter vanished like a ghost.

Amanda turned back to her husband. "I have plans for you tonight," she told him simply, her eyes narrowing.

"And what would those plans be exactly?"

"Sorry. I'm not at liberty to discuss them just yet," she said expansively, leaning forward to brush his lips with her fingertips.

"I was not aware that dessert was a Federation security matter."

"Ummm. Well now you know." Amanda let her fingers trail along his jawline. Pulling his face to her, she kissed him softly on the mouth letting her tongue lightly touch his own.

"I might just have you for dessert," Amanda whispered in his ear.

"Indeed."

"Indeed," she repeated, her tongue darting out to trace a route along the delicate folds of his ear, all the way up to the pointed tip. Under the table, her hand stroked the fastener on his trousers.

Sarek suppressed a moan. "We are not alone, Amanda," he admonished her, his body arching into her hand despite his logic telling him that he should behave with more decorum.

"I don't see anybody here but us chickens," Amanda murmured, popping open the first button of his fly.

"Chickens?" Sarek asked in a daze before her lips silenced him. Breaking the kiss, Sarek warned her. "The waiter will return shortly, my wife."

"Ummm. That's nice," Amanda responded, deftly unfastening his second button and reaching inside his pants. The warmth of her hand on his bare skin was almost more than he could stand.

"Perhaps we should forego dessert and leave immediately," Sarek suggested, his eyelids fluttering as she pulled him all the way out of the restricting fabric.

"Oh, I'm not quite ready to leave," Amanda teased, cinching her fingers around his shaft.

"Amanda." he began, then closed his mouth as she stroked his ridges in a most agreeable manner. Silently he calculated how long it would be before their waiter returned. He could not figure preparation time into his equation since he did not know the nature of the dessert being prepared.

"My wife, I do not believe that there is sufficient time."

"Shush. I know what I'm doing," Amanda reassured him.

"I do not doubt that, but..." Sarek attempted to construct a coherent argument, but was unable to do so. His body seemed to be of the opinion that he should defer to her obviously superior judgment in this matter, and his brain was beginning to concur.

Amanda let go of him suddenly and sat back in her chair, smiling at a point just over Sarek's shoulder.

"Great! The chef had all the ingredients, I see." Amanda commented enthusiastically. Sarek didn't dare move. He didn't even breathe. He mentally asserted his bio-controls for all they were worth. He knew there was no way that anyone could see under the tablecloth, or under his napkin, but he didn't want to take any chances. He felt the blood rushing out of his groin, flowing straight to the tips of his ears.

"Yes, m'am," the waiter told Amanda from behind Sarek. Stepping around to her side of the table, he unfolded a tray-holder, then expertly set a silver tray on it. Sarek kept his eyes directly on the spot where his plate had been.

"Those look wonderful," Amanda exclaimed.

"The dessert chef is truly a master," the waiter told her. "Will that be all this evening, Mrs. Grayson?"

"Yes, I believe so," Amanda answered warmly. The waiter smiled at her, then glanced at the dark green tips of Sarek's ears.

"Would you like that on your account, Mr. Grayson?"

Sarek swallowed, then found his voice. "Yes, that would be acceptable," he said authoritatively, looking directly at the waiter.

"Very good, sir. I hope you've had an enjoyable evening," the waiter said pleasantly, winking at Amanda as he left the room.

Sarek slowly let his breath out and discretely fastened his pants while his wife busied herself with the dessert tray. He could not understand why his logic failed him so often in her presence. He would have to meditate on this subject. Just as his bio-controls returned him to a state of equilibrium, Amanda plucked his napkin up and settled onto his lap.

"The rest of the wait staff might return at any moment, Amanda," Sarek told her seriously. He did not want to repeat the encounter he just had with the headwaiter.

"Relax. No one will disturb us," she said, kissing him on the tip of his nose.

"The probability is quite high that they will return to clear the rest of the dishes."

"No it isn't," Amanda told him confidently.

"I must disagree, my wife. I would estimate that the probability is."

"Zero," Amanda finished for him.

"Zero? My calculations indicate that it is 99.437 percent, based upon prior restaurant visits," Sarek maintained, rising slightly in the chair so that Amanda would return to her own seat before anyone else came into the room.

Amanda was undeterred, shifting her weight more solidly onto his lap. "Well, your calculations are wrong," she told him, her eyes twinkling with mischief.

"Wrong?" Sarek said in the voice he used when lecturing his junior aides on the finer points of diplomacy. He could not recall an instance of ever being wrong. His estimates were always correct given that the data he started with were accurate. Curious, he looked at his wife for an explanation.

"I know it's a shock to your system, but you're most definitely wrong," Amanda continued.

"Then perhaps you could explain the nature of my error, my wife. Logic dictates that I am correct."

"You are extrapolating without having sufficient information, my husband. I told our waiter that we did not wish to be disturbed after he served dessert," Amanda told him, a self-satisfied smile crossing her lips.

"That does not guarantee that we will not be disturbed. therefore my conclusion is sound." Sarek could see no flaw in his logic.

"I also told our waiter that you would leave an outrageously large tip. That does guarantee that we won't be bothered by anyone else," Amanda finished, leaning into him for another kiss.

Sarek sighed with exasperation. "Amanda, I have no idea how you always manage to circumvent my arguments no matter how logically I present them." "Well, it isn't easy, I can tell you!" Amanda rejoined, grinning at him fondly. She turned on his lap and reached for the dessert cart.

"Here. Have one," she said, holding a large red strawberry by the green leaves to his lips. The berry was coated with dark chocolate.

Sarek had never had strawberries prepared in this style before. He found chocolate to be satisfactory, but much sweeter than he was used to. He tentatively took a bite of the proffered fruit. The combination of the bittersweet chocolate with the tartness of the strawberry was quite agreeable.

Amanda brought her lips to his. A twinge ran along his nervous system as her tongue entered his mouth, the taste of her blending with the chocolate and strawberry. She caught his tongue and sucked the remaining berry mixture into her own mouth. A most unusual sensation. pleasant in fact. Perhaps there was something to be said for the Terran concept of eating out of someone else's hand.

"Um. Tasty," she said, licking the last drop of chocolate from his lower lip.

"That was ... agreeable," Sarek returned, loosely wrapping his arms around her slender form, his fingertips tracing the pattern on the back of her silk mandarin dress.

Amanda reached for another strawberry, this one coated with white chocolate. Sarek raised an eyebrow, then took the berry from her, holding it carefully to her lips by the uncoated end. Amanda bit into the delicacy and Sarek quickly clamped his mouth over hers, capturing a sliver of white chocolate that threatened to escape. Very agreeable. He offered Amanda the remaining half of the concoction, pulling her into a deeper kiss with his free hand.

"The white chocolate is good too," Amanda said, her voice breathless.

"It is also quite satisfactory." Sarek chose one of the two remaining strawberries from the tray and dangled it in front of her. She slowly licked the chocolate from the bottom, then bit into the strawberry, feeling his tongue follow the berry.

After a few moments, Amanda picked up the last berry and held the green leaves between her teeth. Sarek looked at her with amusement in his eyes then began eating his way to her lips. She could feel his arousal beneath her as his arms drew her in tighter. Amanda caught the greenery in the palm of her hand as he bit off the last portion of strawberry. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she kissed him back, tasting the remnants of chocolate. Pulling away, Sarek looked at her, his dark eyes on fire.

"Let's get out of here," Amanda said, standing up and offering him her hand.

"That would be very acceptable."

"I have other plans for you the minute we get back to the Embassy," Amanda informed her husband, a wicked smile forming on her face.

Sarek looked deeply into Amanda's eyes and said, "I do not wish to go back to the Embassy tonight, Amanda. I have made ... other arrangements for the remainder of the evening. Will you accompany me?"

"As long as it doesn't include swimming with our clothes on, I'm all yours, Mr. Grayson."

"I can assure you, it does not." His eyes twinkled in the candlelight. She allowed him to put her shawl around her shoulders, feeling the heat of his hands through the sheer material. "If you will come with me, I believe the driver is waiting for us."

"You seem to have this all planned, Sarek. Now I am intrigued," she teased. She held out her paired fingers, crossing them with his.

They left the restaurant and got into the groundcar, Sepek holding the door open for them. "Take us to the planned destination, Sepek," Sarek said, looking at Amanda.

"Of course, Ambassador." Sepek got into the driver's seat and pulled out into traffic.

"Where are we going, Sarek?" Amanda asked as she looked out of the window.

"You will discover our destination when we arrive, my wife. Until then, enjoy the ride."

She sat back into the leather seat, and pulled Sarek back with her. Amanda rested her hand lightly against the inside of Sarek's thigh as she watched the downtown landscape speed by in a blur. Feeling the firm muscle beneath her hand, she hoped that their destination was not too far away. Keeping her eyes on the downtown streets, she slowly moved her hand up his leg. She smiled slightly when noticed that her husband was most definitely aroused.

Sarek started at the contact, then looked at his driver. Sepek astutely kept his eyes on the road. Sarek subtly shifted himself out of Amanda's grasp, pointedly looking out the window on his side of the groundcar.

We are not alone, my wife, he reminded her over their bond.

No, we aren't. That's what makes it so much fun.

I do not comprehend the human concept of 'fun' in this context.

I know. That's what makes it even *more* fun, Amanda returned.

I see, Sarek responded mentally. He decided that he could also indulge in this 'fun'. Concentrating, he conjured up an erotic image he had glimpsed in Amanda's mind during an unshielded moment a few months earlier, then transmitted it telepathically over their bond.

Amanda breathed in sharply, then looked at Sarek, who was still gazing out the window on his side of the groundcar.

"Is anything the matter, T'sai Amanda?" Sepek asked, looking in the rearview mirror. He was prepared to divert to any one of several local hospitals if necessary.

"No, no. Nothing is wrong, Sepek. I just ate a little too fast." Amanda told him, meeting his eyes in the mirror. She could barely keep her composure, her face felt flushed.

"Then forgive my intrusion," Sepek apologized, returning his attention to their route. Judging from his behavior earlier, perhaps the Ambassador had eaten too quickly as well.

What are you trying to do to me? Amanda shot over the bond.

I was under the impression that we were having 'fun', Sarek responded.

Uh huh. You realize that there will be a payback for this, don't you?

Of course. I am counting on it, my wife.

Before she could retaliate with a passionate image of her own, they arrived at their destination. Amanda looked at the building with awe in her eyes. "This is beautiful, Sarek," she breathed.

"I thought staying at the Fairmont would be a perfect compliment to our evening. I have a room already reserved for us. Sepek, I will contact you tomorrow at the Embassy when I wish to return."

"Very well, Ambassador." Sepek met Amanda's eyes knowingly, then looked briefly at the ground. If she hadn't known better, Amanda would have sworn that Sepek had a glimmer of a smile on his face.

Sarek led Amanda to a bank of turbolifts. Her eyes never left his for the entire ride, his fingers resting lightly against her wrist sending little thrills through their bond all the way along her nervous system. Her knees were weak by the time the turbolift doors opened.

The room was large and luxurious. It had a commanding view of the bay and Alcatraz. There was a sitting room with two comfortable-looking chairs and a table as well as a vid-unit. As Amanda took it all in, she noticed a large, colorfully-wrapped box on the middle of the king-sized bed. She looked at Sarek, who nodded, then went to the bed and picked up the box and shook it experimentally.

She slipped the note card from underneath the ribbon and read her husband's orderly, precise script. "Amanda, please accept this gift. It will perfectly compliment your eyes and this evening--Sarek."

"Oh, Sarek! What is it?" she asked, her eyes bright with excitement.

"You will have to unwrap it in order to make such a determination," he told her. Amanda tore off the ribbon and opened the box. In it she found the red, floor-length nightgown with the sheer covering. She held it up to herself then looked in the floor-length mirror. She couldn't believe that her reserved husband had actually gone shopping for something like this all by himself, even though she knew that he was definitely aroused whenever she wore one of her more revealing pieces of lingerie. She was pleasantly surprised that he had taken the initiative. "Oh, it's beautiful!" She placed it on the bed, and hugged Sarek hard. "I love you so very much, Sarek. Thank you!" She pulled his head down and kissed him. "Shall I put this on now? Or do you have other plans?"

"My plans are complete, Amanda. However, if you wish to put your gown on, I will not object." The corners of his mouth twitched in the slight smile he allowed himself around Amanda. He was gratified that she was pleased with his gift, and was eager to see her in it.

"No, I'll bet you won't," she teased him, running her fingertips lightly over the bulge that had suddenly reappeared in his trousers. She let her fingers make one more circuit before she turned away and went into the bathroom to change.

Sarek took a turn around the room, then stood by the picture window with his hands clasped behind his back, staring out over the bay. Earth's oceans had always fascinated him. When he was first posted to San Francisco he had spent nearly all of his off-duty hours watching wave after endless wave. He had found it to be quite meditative. Even inside the sound-attenuated walls of the Vulcan Embassy it was often difficult for him to truly escape the constant noise of the city.

Sarek became engrossed watching tendrils of fog snake around the base of the island in the bay. As he contemplated the swirl patterns formed by the precipitation, Amanda's reflection appeared in the glass, looking ethereal against the misty background. He turned to view his wife in the flesh. She was stunning in her red outfit, the folds of material flowing around her ankles.

"Aduna," he breathed in his native language, then in English. "You are most attractive in that."

She twirled around, holding the edges of the sheer coverlet out. "Does it fit, Mr. Grayson?"

"Yes, quite well," he told her. It had not looked anything like this in the store display. The sleek, iridescent material accentuated her every curve. His eyes traveled the length of her body. The color was perfect.

Amanda took in his gaze. "You like this? It feels so luxurious. Thank you so much, Sarek." She crossed the room and pressed herself against his firm body.

Sarek's arms wrapped around her slight form and he bent his head to kiss her. Her lips responded by opening slightly, allowing his tongue to enter. He glided his hands lightly over the silky fabric covering her back. Her fingers searched for the clasps on his clothing and, finding them, began to undo them.

Sarek broke off the kiss and said, "Perhaps we should move away from the window, my wife."

"I suppose you have a point, " she agreed.

She took his hand and started to lead him to the bed. Sarek stopped her progress with his resistance and, with a nod of his head, motioned to the cooling bottle of wine in the sitting area of the suite. "Can I interest you in a glass of wine, Beloved?"

She smiled at him, her eyes dancing. "I didn't even notice that there. Yes, please."

Sarek moved to the wet bar and took down two goblets. As he uncorked the bottle and poured the wine, he felt Amanda's arms slide around him from behind, the warm pressure of her face against his back. When he finished pouring he turned in her arms and held out the glass of wine. One arm still around her husband's waist, she accepted the offering.

"It's good," she said after an experimental sip. Standing on her tiptoes, she kissed him softly, just letting him taste the wine on her lips before she moved them away. "It is a most satisfactory vintage," Sarek commented. Amanda took another drink from the glass. This time her tongue darted into his mouth when she kissed him. Sarek captured her mouth with his own before she could move away a second time, the wine tart on his tongue. This time he broke the kiss. "A most satisfactory vintage, indeed," he breathed. Lifting his wife easily, he carried her to the bed. When he felt his knees bump into the mattress, he lowered her onto the edge of the bed.

He straightened up and took another sip of his wine, the aroma filling his nostrils. "When was the last time I told you I cherished thee?" Sarek asked, his eyes dark with passion.

"I'm sure you can tell me down to the exact second if you wanted to," she replied. "But I'm sure it was yesterday sometime."

"If you cannot remember with any accuracy, then it has been too long. Happy anniversary, Amanda. May we have many more and may they always be as pleasant as this one."

"Oh, my, aren't you poetic tonight." She smiled at him.

Sarek removed his heavy outer tunic, leaving only a silky shirt on.

Amanda stood up and undid the buttons, baring his muscular chest. She untucked his shirttails, but did not remove the garment from his shoulders. She slipped her hands under the fabric and hugged him close to her, resting her head on his chest. "Oh, I love you so much," she whispered. "And who knew that Vulcans are such romantics, or at least one is." She looked up at him and smiled.

Sarek's mouth turned up slightly at the corners. "It would not be wise to inform anyone of this ... tendency. It would destroy our image," he told her with mock seriousness, enunciating the words carefully as the wine finally insinuated its way into his nervous system, his gaze becoming wistful. "The verses of the romantic Pre-Reform poets resonate in the hearts of all Vulcans. Very few offworlders are familiar with their works. There was a time, I must admit, when I was quite taken with the a'rip'an of Sorel. I went so far as to inquire into the Classical Literature program at the University of Shi'kahr. My father did not consider this to be a logical course of study for his oldest son, however." Sarek told his wife in a confidential, almost shy voice, as if he were uncertain that he should make such a confession.

"It will be our little secret then, I promise." Her eyes twinkled in amusement. She had not known that Sarek had ever considered seriously studying anything other than high-energy physics and the coursework necessary for his diplomatic training. This explained his fascination with her collection of Terran poetry.

He took her glass and placed it with his own on the nightstand, then pushed her gently onto the bed and lay beside her. She turned to face him, her fingers tracing circles around his erect nipples. Sarek's eyes closed briefly when she flicked one with her thumb and rolled it between her fingers. She looked down and admired the noticeable bulge in his pants. She continued to stroke his nipples, alternating between them.

Finally Sarek sat up and grabbed her hands, stopping her. "It is getting decidedly uncomfortable for me."

"Yes, I can see that. Perhaps it would be logical to remedy that situation, Mr. Grayson." She lowered her hand to massage his groin through his pants. Sarek sank back down on the bed moaning softly. Amanda slowly undid the fastenings on his trousers, pausing every now and then to kiss his erection through the fabric, deliberately exhaling her warm breath along his shaft. Finally she undid the last clasp and his erection sprung free of its confines. Lightly kissing the tip, she wrapped her fingers around his hardness and pumped him.

Sarek raised his head and watched his beautiful wife of one year stroke his penis. As he kicked off his pants, Amanda never broke her rhythm. Amanda looked at him wearing only his opened shirt and leaned over to kiss him deeply.

As they kissed, Sarek delicately ran his fingertips over her nipples through the satiny fabric of her anniversary gift. The texture of the gown and her warm roundness underneath sent ripples of delight from his fingertips directly to the pleasure centers of his brain. He hoped that she found her gift to be as satisfactory as he did. Sarek cupped one breast, then the other, this time rubbing his thumbs over her nipples. He felt her grip on his erection increase slightly as he flicked them and became even more aroused.

Amanda let go of Sarek's cock and stood up beside the bed. Sarek looked at her, his eyes questioning. "I don't want this brand new outfit to become soiled so soon, Sarek. I think it would be best if I took it off," she said, sliding the sheer robe from her shoulders. As she slipped her fingers underneath the straps of the gown, Sarek sat up and restrained her hands for the second time that night. This time it was her turn to look at him curiously. His fingertips caressed the silky straps and moved down the length of fabric, finally settling his hands on her buttocks.

"Leave it on," he breathed in her ear so softly that she wasn't sure if he'd actually spoken or if his request came to her through their mental bond.

Sarek pulled her back toward the bed, but Amanda stopped him. "No. Lie back down. I want to look at you," she told him, silently transmitting a telepathic request of her own.

His eyes widened slightly but he did what he was told. As she watched, he took himself in his hand and continued what Amanda had started. Her eyes flashed pure cobalt with desire as she watched her proper, Vulcan husband fondle himself. His thumb rubbed his pre-cum over the spongy head, causing it to glisten in the subdued lighting of the bedroom. His other hand lowered to his testicles and he rolled the orbs with his fingers. "Does this please you, my wife?"

"Oh, more that you can image," her voice hoarse with longing. "Can't you tell over the bond?"

"I can feel your passion. I can feel you burn. I burn for thee as well." Sarek quickened his pumping, then thrust into his hand as her raw hunger became indistinguishable from his own. "I need thee, aduna," he whispered urgently.

Amanda knelt between his legs and let the satin hem of her garment brush against his ridges. She stroked his erection with the sleek cloth until his body threatened to spill over. Pulling the gown up to her thighs and letting the silky, red material puddle around them, she straddled her husband. Her folds were wet with anticipation and Sarek's penis slid into her warmth easily. She sighed as he filled her. She rose up so only the tip of his cock remained in her warm cocoon. She sat back down as Sarek thrust upwards, burying himself to his dark, black curls. He reached for her breasts, sensuously caressing them through the gown. He sat up and took one into his hot mouth breathing onto it through the fabric, just as she had done to him. Through the satin he sucked an erect nipple and flicked it with his tongue in time with their thrusts. Sarek's fingers slipped gently between her legs, his feathery touch causing her to arch backwards until his fingers found exactly the right spot. Amanda moaned and threw back her head, her hands gripping the material of his shirt.

Soon, Sarek's propulsions inside of her became quicker and more erratic. Amanda's juices covered his lap and the faint whisper of her wet, silken channel slapping against his steel was the only sound in the room. Suddenly, Sarek arched his back and shot his seed deep inside his wife. Amanda's muscles clenched around his rock-hard cock as he drove upward once, then again, his semen filling her and flowing out onto his groin.

Amanda's orgasm ripped through her slight form. Her vaginal muscles milked Sarek's penis of its precious load before she collapsed onto him, her chest heaving from the expelled passions. She straightened her legs and moaned softly when Sarek's cock slipped out of her. Sarek stroked her back, his sensitive fingertips once again luxuriating in softness of her lingerie, waiting for her breathing to return to normal. Finally, she shifted her weight and rolled off of him to lay beside him. "Oh, Sarek. It has been too long." She raised herself somewhat shakily onto her elbow and kissed him softly on the lips. "I love you so," she said and kissed him on the tip of his nose.

"Happy anniversary, my wife," he returned, as his bare ankle softly rubbed against the satin hem of her gown, his leg finally wrapping around her calf.

"Happy anniversary, my husband," she said reveling in the warm, solid weight of his leg thrown over her own, a contented smile on her lips as sleep overtook her.

* * *

Amanda was roused from her sleep by the smell of fresh coffee. As she opened one eye experimentally, she found her husband looming over her wearing one of the hotel's terrycloth robes, holding a cup of coffee directly in her line of sight. Opening her other eye, she raised up in the direction of the steaming liquid. The smell was intoxicating. Sarek moved the mug farther away, and she followed the brew to a sitting position. She held out both hands and Sarek placed the cup in them, first making sure that she had a firm grip on the china. Amanda sipped and closed her eyes in ecstasy.

"Oh. Ummmm. Good," she finally managed, taking a bigger sip this time.

"Ah. It moves. It speaks. Anthropologists have been debating its cognitive and linguistic capabilities," Sarek commented. Amanda tried to muster up a glare for him. Morning people could be so annoyingly sanctimonious, particularly if they were Vulcan and happened to have a perfect free-running internal clock. She concentrated on her beverage instead.

"Very good," she said, wanting to make sure that he knew her vocabulary was larger than just one word. She was the linguistics authority here, after all.

"I am pleased to see that you find the coffee satisfactory, my wife. Perhaps you will find brunch equally gratifying."

"Mmmm. Get me another cup of coffee while I freshen up, do ya mind?" she mumbled. Amanda got up from the bed and stumbled into the bathroom, sipping her coffee as she did.

As she was doing her toilet, Sarek set the table and brewed another coffee for his wife. When she emerged from the bathroom, she looked like the woman he married a year ago. He handed her the cup of steaming liquid. Looking beyond the rim of her coffee mug, she was delighted to discover an entire dining cart filled with delicacies. She walked over to the table that Sarek had set and sat down in one of the two chairs that Sarek had placed on either side of the makeshift table. She took the napkin from her plate and dropped it into her lap. Picking up her fork, she looked at Sarek expectantly. Raising an eyebrow at her, he held up a platter of fresh fruit. Amanda motioned with her fork and he spooned the largest strawberries she had ever seen onto her plate, along with plump blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries.

"Thank you," she said, popping a juicy blackberry into her mouth. "Oh. Ummm," she enthused. He removed the cover from another dish revealing scrambled tofu with mushrooms, onion, and tomatoes.

"Um. Yes, please," she said, holding her plate out. Before returning it to her, Sarek took the lid off of a fluffy pile of Belgian waffles.

"Ooooh. Definitely," his wife commented. Sarek placed a waffle in the middle of her plate, then handed it back to her.

"Ah. Fabulous," she told him around a forkful of scrambled tofu. As she drenched her waffle in syrup and began cutting into it, Sarek fixed a plate of food for himself and sat down to join her.

"Ahhhh," Amanda said as she polished off what was left on her plate, dragging the last forkful through the remaining puddle of syrup. She poured another cup of coffee for herself as Sarek poured tea for himself. She then sat back to look at her husband. "Good morning," she finally told him after her first sip of the third cup of coffee.

"Good morning, Amanda. I see that the coffee is starting to have the desired effect," he teased.

"Yes it is. This is wonderful. But I'm stuffed," she said, patting her belly.

"You did consume considerably more food than your customary breakfast. Perhaps you can find a way to balance your caloric intake with vigorous exercise," he offered, his mouth curving upward by a millimeter.

"Oh? And what exactly did you have in mind, Mr. Grayson?"

"This," Sarek told her authoritatively, as he knelt in front of her, bent over and began nibbling on her toes. She giggled, and then squirmed. He knew perfectly well how ticklish she was.

"Oh, no. Stop. I'll get you back for this, I swear," she managed, catching her breath between giggles, trying to pull her foot away.

"As you wish, my wife," he said, moving his mouth up her leg and under her gown. She continued to laugh as she felt his lips brush their way up her body.

"Oh. On second thought, don't stop," she insisted as she felt his tongue against her growing wetness.

Much later, Amanda lay on her stomach on the bed idly flipping through the catalog from Moira's boutique. When she heard Sarek turn on the shower unit in the bathroom, she tiptoed across the carpet and punched a number into the communication unit, searched for the desired item, and minutes later placed her order. She hit the final commands for delivery to the Embassy just as Sarek turned off the water. Hurriedly, she deleted all traces of her purchase from the unit's memory. There were some distinct advantages to being married to a security-conscious computer expert.

As Sarek emerged from the bathroom drying his wavy hair with a towel, Amanda had returned to her spot on the bed, continuing to flip through the catalog with great interest. Sarek peered over her shoulder as he wrung the last of the water from his hair.

"Did you find something to your liking, Beloved?" Sarek asked, kissing her bare shoulder.

"I believe so," she told him cryptically.

"It is good to see that you found your anniversary present to be so gratifying," he murmured as he began to kiss his way up her shoulder to the hollow of her throat. He would be pleased to buy her several outfits like the red one.

"Yes, I did. In fact, it was so gratifying that I decided to order something for you," she mentioned in an offhand way as she arched her neck into his lips. Sarek continued to nibble, this time back down her collarbone. As he did so, his eyes shifted momentarily to the open page of the catalog. Stopping mid-nibble, his eyebrow flicked upward. It was the very item he had handled at Moira's boutique.



* * *

Sarek of Vulcan surveyed the contents of his electronic "IN" box. He could not fathom the volume of work awaiting him. He had only been gone for the weekend, yet it seemed that two week's worth of messages, correspondence, and documents had been logged in that brief period of time. Suppressing a sigh, he decided to simply start wading through the tasks. He suspected that he was in for a very long Monday, possibly even a very long overnight into Tuesday.

He quickly prioritized the items, deciding which required his immediate attention and which could be delegated to his staff. This time he sighed outwardly. The list that he needed to attend to personally was considerable longer than the list that he planned to assign to his aides. After a brief conference, his aides left with their share of the work. By 10:30 a.m., he had barely made a dent in the backlog, despite pouring a great deal of energy into his work. Standing up, he stretched and walked over to the window. To his surprise, the sun was shining. He had been so engrossed in his tasks that he had not noticed. Unfortunately, he would have no time to partake of the favorable weather. Suppressing another sigh, he turned back to his desk. His thoughts turned briefly to Amanda. Perhaps she would be able to enjoy some time outdoors today in between classes. Stealing one more glance out the window, Sarek took a bottle of Altair water from the cooling unit and returned to his desk.

His comm unit buzzed. Amanda might have had an early break today. "Sarek here," he answered. To his dismay, it was not Amanda.

A young Vulcan looked back at him on the viewscreen. "Ambassador Sarek, an Express package has been delivered for you, marked 'Urgent'. It has been through all of the security scanners, but I have been unsuccessful in contacting your personal aides. Shall I bring it up, Ambassador?" the young man, no more than a boy really, asked tentatively.

"What is your name and position, young one?" Sarek inquired.

"I am Stopak, S'haile," the young man replied solemnly. "First year intern on security rotation."

"Very well, Stopak. I await your arrival."

A few moments later the door chime rang. Stopak must have taken the stairs, Sarek mused, remembering being just as enthusiastic about his duties when he was an intern.

"Come," Sarek commanded. The young Vulcan man entered the room carrying an Express Delivery package that was nearly as big as Sarek's attaché case. Sarek looked up from his work and Stopak handed the package to his superior, his eyes filled with awe. He had never before met the Ambassador. In fact, he had never even been on this floor of the Embassy before. He would definitely have something of interest to tell his parents in his weekly communiqué.

Sarek was surprised by the weight of the package. He deduced that it must be from Moira's shop as he noticed Amanda flipping through the catalog when he emerged from his shower at the hotel. But the package did not contain a return address or any identifying marks and was much heavier than anything he saw at the shop should be. Maybe his wife had ordered several items. Sarek hefted the parcel in both hands and arched an eyebrow quizzically.

"Is something the matter, Ambassador?" Stopak asked. He sincerely hoped that his first interaction with the Ambassador was not going to turn into a disaster.

"No, nothing is the matter. Your work is commendable, Stopak. That will be all," Sarek dismissed him. When the door swooshed closed, Sarek engaged the privacy lock. He had no intention of opening the package in front of anyone.

Finding a red tab along the edge of the wrapping, Sarek pulled it, then peered into the pouch. Inside was a large rectangular object wrapped in plain brown paper. He reached in and cautiously removed the heavy rectangle, along with an envelope addressed to him in Amanda's handwriting. Carefully placing the object on his desk, he opened the envelope and read the notecard.

"Mr. Grayson, I hope you find this to be stimulating, and as enjoyable as this weekend. Thank you for the wonderful getaway. Happy Anniversary---Mrs. Grayson."

Sarek eyed the package speculatively and decided that the only logical thing to do was to open it. Finding the edges of the wrapping, he tore the paper off. Both slanted eyebrows shot skyward. Impossible. He simply could not believe it. After the initial shock wore off, he tentatively reached out a hand and stroked the object.

For'ma'zhi by the Vulcan poet Sorel. Sand. How appropriate. Clearly this did not come from Moira's. Amanda had used the catalog as a ruse and he had fallen for it. He traced his fingertips reverently along ancient runes on the desert-red cover. Unbelievable. His wife never ceased to amaze him.

There were probably only a handful of intact volumes of Pre-Reform poetry in existence, and most of those were in private collections or antique bookstores. To find anything at all written by Sorel himself was quite rare, as Sarek knew from his youthful obsession with the poet. The ancient maverick often recited his verse at public festivals or roadside inns, each time subtly changing his delivery. Occasionally he scribbled his four-line creations on scraps of parchment or animal hide as payment for Vulcan ale or a meal. Sorel had vanished in a sandstorm deep in the Sas-a-shar desert, many of his lyrical musings left unrecorded. Everything Sarek had located during his youth had been disconnected pieces of prose, first recorded by scribes and scholars at least a century after the poet's disappearance. This, however, was a verified writing of Sorel.

Sarek gingerly turned the pages of the ancient tome. The words were in Old High Vulcan, which was very difficult indeed. Sarek had spent every day one summer at the linguistics archive absorbing as much of the dialect as he could from the scholars. His father had sent him there to learn to speak and write Andorian in preparation for his future diplomatic career.

When Skon found out that his eldest son was patently disobeying him, and that it was for some Pre-Reform nonsense, he made arrangements for Sarek to attend a stricter school located high in the Langolan mountains. T'Pau had intervened, however, convincing Skon that a firm knowledge of the ancient classics would make Sarek a well-rounded orator and negotiator, since it was words, and not necessarily logic, that forged alliances. When Sarek had an audience with the matriarch after the incident, she simply shook her head and muttered fondly "so much of your Grandfather in you." To this day, Sarek's command of Andorian was barely passable.

Now the archaic words came back to him haltingly, nearly forty years later. Holding the book, he walked over to the window for better lighting. Finally he found one of his favorite passages about a shooting star in the desert sky. After softly reading the first line aloud, he closed his eyes and recited the rest of the verse from memory, savoring the way it felt to speak the ancient phrases, envisioning the sky over the Sas-a-shar at night. He opened his eyes to regard the uncharacteristically sunny, blue sky of San Francisco. Sighing, he looked at the volume in his hand, then at the mound of work on his desk, then back at the perfect Terran sky. It was not the Vulcan desert sky at night, but perhaps Amanda would enjoy the poem about kahs'khior'I blazing across the heavens just the same, while they shared lunch and a bottle of wine in the park. Tucking the book under his arm, he walked past the pile of unfinished work, out of his office, past the startled expressions on his aides' faces, and then finally out of the Embassy and into the sunshine, heading in the direction of the University.



THE END

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