Disclaimer: Star Trek is the property of Paramount/Viacom. The plot and original characters of this story are copyright 2004 by Karracaz. Rated PG13.


Smoke and Mirrors Koan



When Sarek and Amanda returned to the lanai, the family were waiting for them. Deferentially, T'sai T'Peha indicated the two vacant seats hastily drawn up nearest the decorative fire pit. Amanda inclined her head and settled with studied elegance into the low chair -- achieved after much practice -- beside her new husband, aware of the many eyes that discreetly watched her.


The tremulous, pulsing flame of the asenoi, held aloft in the paws of its winged feline keeper, cast a bubble of light over the table, a slab of black granite, intricately carved around the edge with strange runes. The only other illumination came from the crimson and gold embers that glowed in the open fire pit.


They ate in silence, concentrating on the food set before them. The meal, typically Vulcan, proved delicious: barkaya marak, a traditional soup, full bodied and satisfying made with baby vegetables and Vulcan white radish, with a side dish of legume salad, followed by tabsheel. When Amanda commented on the piquant taste, Sarek informed her quietly, one eyebrow on the rise, that the makor tubers had probably been cooked in green tsa'e -- a custom of that region! Wrapped in the soft warmth of a padded robe, Amanda hoped that the sudden rush of color to her cheeks might be attributed to the nearness and heat of the fire pit, aware that Sarek alone of all there could know how tsa'e -- the spicy herbal beverage of Vulcan -- affected her equilibrium.


When their plates were empty and cleared from the table, a word game commenced. As if released from confinement, the interchange jumped back and forth between the family members, a bright ball tossed from one player to the next.


"What is the One?" questioned the child Shonhulok, who had opened the door to them.


Sarek, with an inclination of his head, answered the query in his mellifluous, deep baritone. "It is the Many."


"What is the Many?" enquired the eldest daughter, T'Pehan, her dark eyes serene.


"The One," came the considered answer from T'sai T'Peha. The lady spared Amanda a measured glance but baffled, she remained quiet. She had never witnessed such a game before.


Sehak, a gangling adolescent, T'Pehan, T'Piao and Shonhulok's cousin, foster child of Lady T'Peha, quickly filled the silence. "What is the All?"


"The All is the Universal Mind, the mind of sentient beings," Sarek again intoned.


Now Amanda thought she had the way of it. With a look at her adun, she murmured, "What is sentience?"


"It is the All," T'Piao countered, soft girl's mouth curving in the barest suggestion of a smile.


Shonhulok asked, "Then, what is my Self?"


"What does thee wish Self to be?" his mother counter-questioned.


"Self is all and nothing," T'Pehan murmured.


Once more all eyes centered upon Amanda in hushed expectancy. She thought for a moment, then turned to Sarek, meeting his gaze. "Am I not facing thee?"


His eyes swept over her face approvingly. "I see only my Self."


"And who is Master?" As one, they turned to Sulek, husband of T'sai T'Peha who had not spoken until then.


But Amanda continued to gaze at Sarek, his face lit by the shifting flame of the asenoi. She sensed that he would answer and waited in breathless silence as if his response was the most important thing in all her world.


Gently, he said: "There can be no Master without a servant and no Servant without a master. They are both One, and the same."


Amanda held in her laughter and delight but Shonhulok, who had begun it all, could not restrain his obvious approval. "I believe the game is thine, Sarek en'ahr'at."


Sarek inclined his head, "My thanks, Shonhulok'kham."


Tranquility settled once more around them as they moved on to discuss the activities of the day. Once it was known that Sarek and Amanda were making a tour of the planet, suggestions of what to see and where to go abounded.


"What of CheomKsan?" T'Pehan recommended, her fine young face alight with restrained enthusiasm.


"Perhaps the fire festival would interest T'sai Amanda?" Shonhulok suggested swiftly.


Amanda looked questioningly at Sarek. "The fire festival?"


"It was the ancient forerunner to the kahs-wan, a test of strength and courage, my wife. The girls dance and the boys carry torches. Would thee be interested in such a rite?"


"Very much, husband."


"Then it is agreed."


But the night was growing late. It was the guests' responsibility to retire first. Sarek rose, a hand under Amanda's elbow. He bowed to T'sai T'Peha and S'haile Sulek. "My aduna and I thank thee for thy hospitality. Thee has been more than gracious to two weary travelers."


Sulek answered for his wife and family, "Think no more of it, Sarek ansh'oine t'skon kah T'Phra and she who is thy wife. Rest well. We shall talk again in the morning."


"We are honored."


With fingertips joined in the acceptable public show of private affiliation, they followed T'Pehan to the rooms that were set aside for their use. It was a suite and not a bedchamber, two large rooms with a walk-in dressing area between. Amanda, entering, saw their sparse luggage, familiar in the midst of strangeness. She stubbornly retained physical contact with Sarek through her fingertips -- the only part of him that touched her.


"Thee may have thy choice, my wife."


Moving closer to him, her expression wistful, she murmured softly, almost imploringly, "Can't we share?"


His face remained aloof but there was a certain tension in the fine lines about his eyes as though he struggled to remain detached from her implied intent.


"That -- is not our way. State thy preference, Amanda--"


"I thought I had--" she murmured, still playful, hopeful that he was too. But he purposely refused to meet her eyes, refused to communicate.


At last, when the silence drew out unbearably, she conceded defeat and accepted the fact that he meant to ignore those needs he had awakened in her. She withdrew her fingers and dropped her hand to her side.


"Very well, if that's what you want," she declared archly and spun on her heel. Her blue eyes flashed as she marched determinedly past him and over to the dressing room where she hesitated on the threshold to look back. But his gaze steadfastly remained fixed on a blank space across the room. Then as if feeling the weight of her reproach, he blinked slowly and focused his eyes upon her. When he still did not call her back, she sighed heavily and continued on, through the connecting door into the room beyond.


Again, it was typically Vulcan, bare of anything but the essentials. A raised sleeping platform took up most of the floor space. It was already spread with a thick pallet and night quilts that during the day resided in a concealed cupboard behind the wine colored drapes.


With another sigh, abruptly drained of energy and emotion, she shrugged off the padded robe and allowed it to slip to the floor in a puddle of fabric. For a moment, she closed her eyes, the cooler air of evening caressing her naked skin with invisible fingers, her imagination calling up Sarek to stand before her, wanting to feel his heat and smell the cinnamon scent of his skin. The two sensations were inextricably linked now in her memory.


She knew it was not the Vulcan Way to share a bed -- or even a bedroom. That knowledge she had gleaned quite early on from her bond with her new husband, her adun. She thought she had understood what the restriction meant, and that she was adult enough to accept the limitations of marriage to a Vulcan. Maybe she had been wrong in that assumption.


Softly, a catch in her voice, she spoke to the house comp. "Dim the lights, please."


Immediately, the room darkened but she continued to stand beside the sleeping platform, shivering a little in the cold draught, still reluctant to climb beneath the waiting quilts in case he changed his mind and called to her.


Part of her said with childish petulance, even if he does I won't go, I won't. But deep inside she knew that she would be unable to resist. If he called -- she would run to him and be grateful. She wasn't too sure she liked that part of herself but it was an honest appraisal. She had not chosen to love him. Who but a fool would become emotionally involved with a Vulcan? But, almost from the first moment his dark, green-flecked eyes had swept arrogantly over her at San Francisco Space Terminal, she had known that she needed him, wanted him with all her heart and soul. He was a drug on which she had become dependant. She had never before felt such a keen awakening of all her senses, the tingling exhilaration that told her she had at last found a foil for her own adventurous spirit, a man unafraid of challenge, a man who posed his own challenge.


They had known each other such a short time and yet the mind touch had forged an unbreakable connection. It had allowed each of them to see the other with a terrible clarity. Now, his was the only voice she could hear, his heartbeat was her heartbeat, his flesh her flesh. When she looked at him, she saw her Self reflected in his eyes. But she had human emotions and he did not. The physical act of sexual union was deleted from his credo.


Amanda swallowed hard and sank down upon the edge of the dais, a single tear wending its solitary way down her cheek. She groaned at the memory of Sarek taking possession of her in the steamy heat of the bathroom only an hour or two before. Had her yearning really spurred his latent desire or was she fooling herself? There was only one way of finding out. Heart stuttering nervously, she dashed away the self-indulgent tears, desperate to feel his skin against her own, to have him close to her both mentally and physically, yet reluctant to use what she thought of as feminine trickery against him.


Folding the bed covers back, she slid nakedly between the cool linen and with eyes closed reached out along the bond. She imagined it as a cord of light connecting her to him in some indefinable, almost magical way. Though she could not read his thoughts without his assistance, his consciousness burned like a bright star in her awareness. Silently, she repeated the mantra he had first taught her: Sarek, parted from me and never parted. Never and always touching and touched --


The response was immediate.


*Amanda* His distinctive mind-voice held a warmth she could hardly mistake.


The next instant there came a light tapping at the door. A sliver of tawny light gleamed for a second then disappeared again as Sarek slipped almost soundlessly within. Amanda felt him beside the bed before she was fully aware of his approach. The pallet sagged with his weight. He lay beside her, clothed only in darkness. He did not speak and neither did she.


Sarek's hand cupped her breast, rested there, the heat like a brand upon her chilled flesh. Amanda's legs lifted as her unruly body turned involuntarily towards her mate but knowing how he might be offended now that his own need had waned, she willed herself to wait for his embrace.


Seconds later, his fingers burned a trail across her skin, stroking and caressing, sending waves of heat and desire along her nerves. Amanda moaned softly and immediately stifled the sound. She turned away trying to hide the wild passion her body already showed to him. But his fingers found the curve of her cheek while his thumb brushed her lips. Long fingers spread over her brow and settled upon her katra points, completing the union of both mind and body. Moving on to her, he could not help but know the joyful hunger that she felt, their thoughts mingling as their bodies came together.