DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Saidicam29 and is copyright (c) 2001 by Saidicam29. Beta Reader: Selek - thank you so much!!! Acknowledgments: I want to thank J.M. Dillard for creating the Silek, Sarek's younger brother in the profic novel Demons. I also want to thank Selek for allowing me to borrow some themes from his story "Reminiscing." Rated PG13.

Time Portal


Summary: The Klingons have discovered a time portal and go back into Earth's history, a history that affects Sarek and Amanda.


Captain's log, stardate 4635.6, James T. Kirk reporting...

"We received a Priority One message from Star Fleet. Intelligence reports that the Klingons have discovered some sort of time portal located on a small, class M, planet coded XCZ-432, located just outside of Federation Space in the Neutral Zone. Our orders are to investigate, determine the accuracy of these reports and ascertain what the Klingons intend to do with the time portal, if anything. If necessary, the Enterprise has been authorized to engage the Klingons and destroy the time portal. I hope to avoid that if at all possible. However, I feel that this portal must be kept out of Klingon control at all costs. Since Star Fleet doesn't want a full scale war with the Empire, they have warned us that if we're caught, they will deny any knowledge of us being there. So, we're on our own.

"Currently, we have entered the Neutral Zone and are operating on yellow alert status. Long range sensors have picked up one Klingon Bird of Prey orbiting around the planet. Since we believe our scanning range is much greater than theirs, we intend to hide in the planet's magnetic poles. This should hide the Enterprise from their scanners, but keep them in ours. We should be able to outrun and out-maneuver them if necessary, but I hope we won't have to test those abilities. I am preparing to beam down with a small landing party consisting of Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy, and security officers Cruz and West. While we're gone, Mr. Scott will be in command."

* * *

The Enterprise landing party beamed down in a small clearing in what appeared to be a vast rain forest. As soon as they materialized, the security guards took positions to protect the area while Spock walked away from the rest of the group to take readings with his tricorder. Kirk and McCoy moved to appreciate the local flora. "I am reading three Klingon life forms as well as an unidentified energy source located .40228 kilometers in this direction." Spock indicated with his tricorder.

"Could it be a time portal?" Kirk asked.

"It could be a time portal, or a number of other things. There is not enough data to be certain." By this time the rest of the landing party had gathered together.

Kirk looked around the group, catching the eyes of each of his men before giving his next orders. "Well, then, we'll have to take a look. I want a single file formation. Set phasers to stun. Mr. Spock, since you have the tricorder, you'll take the lead. Cruz and West will protect the rear. Let's go."

* * *

The men slowly made their way through a wall of vegetation, moving as quietly as possible. After several minutes they came to a circular clearing, much larger than the one they had beamed into, approximately one hundred meters in diameter. While their side of the clearing was walled with vegetation, the opposite side was walled with a huge, cliff-like rock formation. The ground was covered in a blanket of lush, green grass, broken up by several large boulders scattered throughout the area. Near their end of the clearing was a small waterfall emptying into a large, shallow pool of blue water. It would have been a paradise -- except for the presence of three very large, very armed Klingons sitting in a semi-circle at the other end of the clearing. Fortunately, they had their backs to the Enterprise men; their attention was focused on what was definitely a time portal before them, cut into the rock wall like the mouth of a cave.

Kirk looked over at his First Officer, who was busy recording with his tricorder. "Spock?"

"Yes, sir," Spock murmured absently. His attention was mainly focused on his instrument. "This is a time portal. Cycling approximately ten years per minute. That's only a fraction of the speed at which the Guardian of Forever rotates time. This portal, however, seems to be only cycling through the first half of the twenty-third century and only through Earth's history. I believe the Klingons must be regulating it somehow." At this Spock looked up to see the reactions of his friends. Kirk met his eyes directly, then turned to the time portal as he became lost in thought.

McCoy closed his eyes briefly, then opened them as he addressed his Captain. "Well, it seems their intention is obvious. I say we beam back to the ship, send down some phaser fire to destroy that thing, and high-tail it back home where we're safe."

Jim didn't seem to hear him as he was still looking at the time portal, but Spock shook his head negatively. "Doctor, it would be both illogical and foolish to act impetuously in this matter. We do not know if any Klingons may have already gone through the time portal."

"He's right, Bones." Jim Kirk snapped out of his reverie, then turned to address Spock. "How are the Klingons regulating the time portal? And how do we determine if they did go through and where and when they went to?"

"Unknown, Captain."

"Well, Spock..." Kirk paused while he searched for the right word, "...speculate."

Spock's head tilted to one side as he pondered the situation. "I am not sanguine about speculation, Captain. However, since Klingons focus their energies on military rather than scientific pursuits, it would be logical to assume that the portal is regulated by a device of some kind found on this planet."

Kirk nodded his head in agreement. "But there's no way to know where it is, or what they did with it." He watched the Klingons for a moment. "In that case, I guess we go ask them."

* * *

McCoy and West worked their way around the Klingons just inside the tree line, so they could emerge on the far side of the them. Kirk, Spock, and Cruz moved forward, going from boulder to boulder for protection. The maneuver worked well. They had closed about three quarters of the distance when one of the Klingons sniffed at the air and sensed their approach. He jumped up, spun around, and squeezed off a shot from his disrupter. Fortunately, his aim was off and Kirk knocked him unconscious with a phaser blast. Before either of the other Klingons could manage to get a shot off, they were stunned by the two security officers, who then piled all three of them together unceremoniously on the ground. Cruz and West disarmed the Klingons and took up a position to guard their prisoners until they came to. Meanwhile, Kirk, Spock and McCoy began looking through the various pieces of equipment the Klingons had with them.

"I believe this instrument here," Spock held up the device he had been studying, "might control the time portal. It doesn't resemble anything of Klingon origin."

"Can you work it?" Kirk asked anxiously.

"I believe I can, however I will need some time to study its various functions in order to use it effectively."

"He means he needs to play with it awhile, Jim. Right, Spock?" McCoy interjected.

This raised an indignant eyebrow on Mr. Spock, which was exactly the reaction McCoy wanted to get. "Vulcans do not play, sir. I will be applying logic and scientific theory to ascertain its purpose and functions."

"Of course, Mr. Spock. I apologize. Hey, Jim, looks like our little friends are waking up."

The Klingons regained consciousness, holding their heads and grumbling under their breath. Kirk watched the Klingons thoughtfully. "They seem young..." He watched them stare down and exchange words with the security guards. "...and awfully calm, almost confident. Seems a little odd considering they just woke up as Federation hostages." Kirk was thinking out loud, not expecting an answer from his officers, and none was given. "Spock, keep working on the time portal. Bones, come with me."

Kirk and McCoy came up to stand beside the security officers. After giving the Klingons a moment to look them over, Kirk drew himself up to his fullest height, and stepped forward. "Gentlemen, I am Captain James T. Kirk of the Federation starship Enterprise. You are our prisoners. Can you understand me?" he asked briskly.

The three Klingons glanced uneasily at each other. The name James Kirk was well known in the Empire and it was clear that they had heard of him. "JIyaj. (I understand.)," the largest Klingon replied.

"Tell us what you have done, or plan to do, with the time portal." Kirk waited for the translation to go through.

Again, the three warriors looked at each other, then one replied smugly, "It is too late now, Terran! They have already sealed your fate!"

"BIjatlh 'e' yImev! (Shut up!)" the largest Klingon yelled to the other.

Kirk's jaw tightened in anger and his eyes took on a dangerous gleam. "They? You have sent someone through the portal? Where and when did they go? What are you planning to do?"

"Captain!" Spock called out as he came over to join him. "It seems we are rather fortunate. This device has a memory -- similar to our transport buffers. The last time period that was paused for transport was to..." He consulted the device. "Earth, San Francisco specifically, in the year 2229."

"Excellent work, Spock! All right, now we know the when and where..." He turned to back to the Klingons, now appearing very menacing. "...all we need now is the why."

A smug smile slowly spread across the face of the smaller Klingon who had acted so cocky earlier. "It won't help. The Federation is already ruined." A low growl came from the large Klingon as he glared at the smaller angrily. "It doesn't matter," the smug one addressed his companion. "It is too late. We can't be stopped now." He turned to address Kirk. "Very well, Terran. Learn of your Federation's destruction." He cast a quick glance at the other two Klingons before continuing. "Our superiors have gone back in your time to assassinate an ambassador -- a Vulcan ambassador." He sneered as he looked directly at Spock.

This was not exactly what Kirk had expected to hear. He looked at both McCoy and Spock, but found puzzlement on their faces as well. "Why?" he demanded.

The Klingon shrugged indifferently. "I only know that his death in that time will benefit the Klingon Empire in this time. I have nothing more to say to you." He then settled back, clearly demonstrating his unwillingness to talk any further.

Kirk and McCoy walked over to Spock, who was staring at the regulator in his hands, deep in his own thoughts. Kirk drew his attention back to him. "Spock? Any thoughts on why they would want to kill the Vulcan ambassador?"

Spock glanced quickly at his Captain, then cast his eyes back downward. "I am not sure, sir." He fell quiet again.

McCoy gently cleared his throat, preparing to ask a question he was afraid he already knew the answer to. "Spock, who was the Vulcan ambassador to Earth in the year 2229?"

Spock took a deep breath, straightened his shoulders, and looked directly at his friends before answering. "In 2229 the Vulcan ambassador was..." He paused to ensure his control was perfect before he continued. "...a young, very new, Ambassador Sarek; my father."


Earth, San Francisco, 2229

Ambassador Sarek quickly made his way to the linguists department in the Vulcan Embassy. He was in a hurry, but to let it appear so would be inappropriate, so he forced himself not to rush. He had just spoken with the linguistics assistant, T'Lana, who told him that Amanda Grayson was still in her office. He had not been able to spend any time with Amanda in over a week because he was too busy preparing for the Federation Trade Conference to find any personal time to seek her out.

This year's trade conference was extremely important, not only to the Federation in general, but to him specifically. This was because this trade conference was open to any planet that wished to attend, not just the Federation's member planets. It was hoped that the visiting planets would come not only to trade with the Federation, but also to join it. If all went well, they expected to double the number of Federation members within the next decade. For Sarek, its importance was due to the fact that this was the first major political event that he would lead in the year since he had become Ambassador.

As he entered the linguists lab, he briefly thought he had missed her because all of the main lights were off, leaving only the very faint glow of the emergency lights. However, in the back corner, where her office was, he could see through her open door that the desk lamp she had brought in shortly after starting here was on. As he approached the doorway he could see her loading data tapes into her bag as she muttered to herself. He once questioned her about this habit, and although she had insisted that it was common for Humans to talk to themselves, he had never seen it before. Since she had not noticed his presence yet he took the opportunity just to watch her. Most would say she was beautiful, certainly most Terran males seemed to think so since she was often asked to accompany them to what on Terra is called a 'date', and he certainly would not disagree. For him, however, what was most fascinating was her mind. He had never met someone who could be eminently logical one moment, then capriciously emotional the next. At least, no one who would be considered sane. But Amanda was sane, and intelligent, as well as beautiful.

She had been at the Embassy for almost five months working on the Vulcan translations for the Universal Translator, of which she was one of the original inventors of the concept. She had taken off a semester from teaching at the Harvard University in Boston to head up a team of Vulcans here in San Francisco. She had been a linguists professor at Harvard for the past 6 years, along with Sarek's younger brother, Silek. It was actually Silek who arranged for Amanda to work at the Embassy. In exchange for their help on the translator, she would give English lessons to anyone at the Embassy who wanted them. Sarek would have agreed to the arrangement, regardless of who made the request, simply because he believed the Universal Translator would be a great achievement for the Federation. His personal interest, however, stemmed from Silek's interpretations of Dr. Amanda Rebecca Grayson. Silek preached to him of her intelligence and qualifications, all of which Sarek could see from her personnel records. However, Silek had called her his friend and spoke of her wit and insight. Sarek could always sense his little brother's emotions, no matter how well he masked them and despite his own limited telepathic abilities. Whenever Silek mentioned her, Sarek could sense the deep affection and intense loyalty he felt towards this Terran female. And that is why Sarek had to meet her.

At first he could see nothing special about her. She was intelligent and quite charming, but he could see nothing to cause such a strong reaction as Silek seemed to have. So, he decided to ask for lessons. He had an excellent understanding of the functional part of the English language, but his idiomatic English needed work. It was actually his curiosity he wanted enlightened most of all. The reports from his staff had been outstanding, both professionally and personally. It seemed she had made a place for herself among Vulcans, something very few Terrans were able to do.

It was during these lessons that he, too, became captivated by her. She had a good grasp of the Modern Vulcan language and she was the first Terran that he could converse with in his own language. She was kind and warm and had a fresh sense of humor. She liked to tease a lot. She even teased him, which is something very few people dared to do anymore, except his close family. He saw her for lessons three days per week, an hour each day, because that was all that either of them could fit into their schedules. He wanted to be around her more than that though, so he began to visit the lab whenever he had some free time. First he acted as though he was checking on their progress, although there was no logical reason for him to be doing so. Then he volunteered his services, which she accepted. He came down as soon as his business was finished and stayed until they were the only ones left.

One evening she asked him out to dinner. She said she wanted to thank him for his help with the project. He said that it was only logical since they both had to eat and this way they could keep working too. So it became a habit. At least once a week they went out together. Very little work got done at the restaurants, though. Nor on their walks along the beach after the late dinners. Instead, they talked about ... well, everything -- his culture, her culture, his work, her teaching, their families. So they would always go back to her house to make up for it and sometimes even managed to get some work done.

Now the project was almost finished. Next week, Amanda said, she would start submitting the final lists to the Federation board. Soon after she would be returning to Boston, to her teaching. He did not like to think of that, though, as he could not imagine what it would be like not to talk to her, to see her, on a regular basis. It wouldn't matter soon anyway, because he knew that in the near future he would have to return to Vulcan to marry. He hadn't picked a bond-mate yet. There was no one who particularly interested him, however, if he did not choose then the family would choose for him. T'Pau and Skon, his father, were becoming insistent and his own Vulcan biology would force him to do so anyway. Then he supposed he would be caught up in the duties of bond-mate. Even if he saw Amanda after that, it wouldn't be the same. He knew this, could sense it somehow, although he couldn't say why it should be that way.

But such thoughts were illogical. Kaiidth; what is, is. For now Amanda was here, and so was he, and he could find no harm in enjoying her company.

"It is rather late for you, Amanda. I did not expect you to still be here."

She started at the sound of his voice. "Oh, geez, Sarek. You scared me." She pressed the palm of one hand against her chest.

"Forgive me. That was not my intention."

She waved away his apology. "You're forgiven. So, long time no see, huh?"

Sarek nodded affirmatively. "Indeed. The trade conference has occupied all of my time this past week."

She nodded and gave him a teasing smile. "Well, I guess making history can be a bit time consuming."

Sarek raised an eyebrow and inclined his head toward her. "You would know that as well as I. Your translator will certainly 'make history'."

She lowered her eyes as her face took on a slightly reddish hue. "Sarek, it's not really my translator, but, thank you." She glanced up and briefly met his eyes before looking to the chronometer on the wall. "Good Lord, it's after eight already." She blew out an exasperated breath. "I really need to get going. At this rate, even if I stay up all night, I'll be lucky to get through all these tapes."

He could not believe she wanted to leave already, when he had just arrived minutes ago. He wanted to spend more time with her, to talk with her. "I will assist you," he stated, fully expecting her to agree with his suggestion.

"No, Sarek," she answered quickly, then offered an explanation. "I'm rather tired tonight. I was planning to go home, put on something comfortable, then go over these tapes while I sip some wine and order Chinese."

"I find that acceptable, Amanda. We have worked under those conditions before. This way you will get done much sooner and can get the rest you require." It was a logical solution, both would get something they wanted. He stepped forward to grab the bag on her desk, intending to carry it for her, but she stopped him by placing her hand on it first.

"Besides, Mr. Ambassador, you have an extremely important trade conference to prepare for. It starts tomorrow, doesn't it?" she asked lightly.

"It does. The preliminaries are during the day, followed by the reception here at night. Tomorrow will mainly be an opportunity for everyone to become acquainted. I, and the other Federation representatives, will use this time to introduce the Federation and its benefits to as many of the visiting ambassadors as possible. The actual negotiations will not begin until the following day and will continue for about two weeks. However, I am fully prepared to represent my planet's interests, as well as the Federation's. There is nothing more for me to do here tonight. It is logical that we should leave. As your people say, 'the night is not getting any younger'." This time he did pick up her bag, despite the fact that her hand was still resting on it.

She offered no resistance. Instead she flashed him a bright smile. "Okay, Sarek. But only if you let me buy you dinner, even if it is only take-out."

Sarek was perplexed. At first she gave him excuses why she didn't want him around, then not only does she agree to his help, but she wants to reward him with dinner. He briefly wondered if this was what Terrans referred to as 'playing hard to get', but he decided against that notion. From what he understood of that expression, it would imply certain emotions on Amanda's part and he did not dare to believe she had such feelings for him. That could complicate things considerably. "That is acceptable, Amanda."

As they made their way out of the embassy, Sarek turned the conversation back to tomorrow's events. "I know I should have mentioned this to you earlier, Amanda, but..." Sarek paused briefly to gather his thoughts, then finished quickly with, "I wanted to invite you to attend the reception with me tomorrow night."

Amanda stopped suddenly and turned to look directly in his eyes. Sarek couldn't tell if she was delighted or insulted by his invitation. "You want me to attend an embassy reception ... with you?"

"Yes." Sarek had to control the blood from rising to his face. "Apparently, most ambassadors are married and the wives act as a hostess at these functions. Therefore, I need someone to fill that role."

"And you want me to act as hostess at tomorrow's reception?" she asked incredulously.

He nodded in assent and waited for her reply, but she gave none. She continued to stare at him, expecting something perhaps, and he was becoming uncomfortable with the perusal. "Your duties would be minimal. We would arrive together and be expected to dance a few times together. I have only had time so far to learn the waltz, however, they will be playing one several times throughout the night so that should not pose any problems. Otherwise, you would be free to move about on your own and do as you wish."

"But why did you ask me, a Human woman, instead of one of the Vulcan women here at the embassy? Wouldn't that have been a more logical choice?" She waited patiently for Sarek's answer.

"I thought you would wish to have the experience. You seem to enjoy social engagements, and with your background, I thought you would find the various species present to be interesting." 'A perfectly logical reason for her to attend', Sarek thought to himself.

She nodded absently, but he knew that was not a reply to his invitation. Finally, he looked away from her, too uncomfortable with the eye contact. He thought she wanted to refuse, but was trying to find a polite way to do so. "If you do not want to go..."

"I want to go!" Amanda exclaimed loudly drawing Sarek's eyes back to her. She gave an embarrassed laugh. "I mean, I would be honored, Sarek."

Sarek let out the breath he hadn't been aware he was holding. "Good. I will let Soran know you plan to attend. Shall we?" He gently took her arm to move her towards the ground car waiting to take them to her home.

* * *

Several hours later Sarek leaned back on the couch and took another sip of wine. He knew Amanda had turned up the temperature slightly when they had first arrived, for his comfort, but now even he was feeling warm. He stood and removed his robe, leaving him in the silk shirt and pants he wore underneath. As he returned to his seat he grabbed another piece of the cranberry-raisin bread they had been snacking on while they worked. As he ate, he watched Amanda, who was sitting near him on the couch, as she studied the PADD on her lap.

After they had arrived she had excused herself to shower and change. Now she was dressed in a light blue, sleeveless, summer dress that didn't quite reach her knees. Her legs and feet were bare, and he noticed he could see her nipples pressed against the fabric of the dress. Her hair was loose, hanging down her back like a blond curtain. He wanted to run his fingers through it ... to wrap his fists in it, while he--

"What is it?" Amanda had noticed him staring, but couldn't imagine what was causing him to do so.

"I am enjoying this fruit bread you made, Amanda." He wasn't about to admit where his thoughts had really been as he couldn't believe it himself.

"Yes, I noticed." She broke into a wide grin. "You've had nearly the whole loaf!"

Sarek smiled back, causing Amanda's smile to disappear. She was rather shocked because she had never seen a Vulcan smile before; had never even heard of it. He was aware he had done it, knew that he should have prevented it, but couldn't seem to be bothered at the moment. He was feeling very strange. He had felt like this only once before, many years ago, shortly after he had first come to Terra.

He had been touring through the local shopping area when he came upon a woman handing out chocolate samples in front of a confections store. He knew that chocolate was not on the list of acceptable foods, but he tried it anyway and found he liked it -- a lot! So, he bought himself half a pound of it, all of which he consumed that night in his room while he worked on his computer briefings. At some point he apparently passed out on his bed, because when he awoke (which wasn't until late the next afternoon) he found himself sprawled across the bed, fully clothed and violently ill. Thinking he had been poisoned, he summoned a Healer who quickly ascertained Sarek's condition when he saw the empty container on the desk. The Healer gave him something to ease the symptoms, then explained that the sugars used in a lot of Terran sweet foods have an intoxicating effect on Vulcans, and then he lectured him about the folly of not abiding by the food list. He told Sarek to remain in his room the rest of the day and suggested that he meditate to aid the return of his health and perhaps improve his logic as well. It was a reproach, Sarek knew that, but he spent his time rewriting his briefs instead. He found that what he had written the night before was, at best, preposterous. And he still ate chocolate, although infrequently and only in small quantities.

But this was not candy, it was only fruit and bread, both of which he had eaten before. He thought perhaps he had better check with her, so he turned himself to fully face her. "Amanda, what is in this bread?"

She turned to face him also. "I can give you a copy of the recipe if you'd like. Let's see, off the top of my head, there are cranberries and raisins, obviously. Orange juice and some peel for flavor, and I add some cinnamon to mine for an extra zip. Then the basic stuff: sugar, flour, salt...uh..." She gently chewed on her bottom lip as she tried to recall the rest of the ingredients.

Ah, sugar. And what was it about cinnamon -- an aphrodisiac, maybe? Sarek thought to himself. He wouldn't have thought there was enough in bread to affect him, although he had never eaten a whole loaf at one time before. His train of thought was lost, however, as he became mesmerized by the sight of Amanda's lip being caught between her teeth.

As soon as it was released he reached out to rub two fingers gently over it. He noticed its softness and her sharp intake of breath at his contact. He realized she must not have any telepathic ability because touching her as he was, he had expected to get some sense of her feelings. Wanting more intimacy, he moved to place his fingers at her psi points, in order to share their thoughts together. She reached up and grabbed his hand, and although she didn't remove it, she clearly wanted to prevent him from forming a bond.

"Sarek?" Her voice was small and unsure. She searched his eyes questioningly.

He ran his fingers slowly across her cheek, then down her neck and across her shoulder until finally he combed his fingers through her hair. He was surprised that hair could be this soft and smooth. Thinking she was nervous, he wanted to make her comfortable, so he leaned forward to press his lips to hers the way he had seen Terran couples do. She raised her face to meet him, and as she raised her hand to brush his face, her PADD fell unnoticed to the floor. As he gently pressed her down to lie on the couch, she instinctively opened her legs and he settled himself between them.

"Sarek?" Her voice had grown stronger, but she still questioned him with her eyes.

"Shhhhh, Amanda. No words. Now is the time for actions." Either she found what she was looking for, or she decided to put it aside and take his suggestion, but a sudden change came over her. She wrapped her hand around the back of his head and pulled him down to her. This time when they kissed, her tongue brushed across his lips, then when they opened, she thrust her tongue into his mouth, eliciting a moan from him. Since this was the first time Sarek had ever experienced a Human kiss, he was more than happy to follow her example.

Her legs had wrapped around him and he could feel her chest heaving slightly beneath him, pressing her breasts against him. His hand began roaming again. This time past her shoulder and down her chest until he could feel her nipple pressed into his palm through the dress. When he brushed his thumb across it, she thrust her pelvis against him, giving him a heady feeling. His hand continued downward until he reached the end of her dress, which he slipped beneath. He then retraced his path upwards, over her panties back to her breast which was, as he had suspected, free of the restrictive undergarment that most Terran women wear.

This time it was Amanda who moaned, then she began some exploring of her own. She ran her hands across the back of his shoulders, over his chest, and down his stomach to the waist band of his pants. She had just tugged his shirt free and had begun to explore further when Sarek became aware of an insistent buzzing that had been going on for several minutes. "Are you expecting anyone?" he reluctantly broke off the kiss to ask.

"Hmmm? No. Why?" She apparently had not heard the noise.

"Because," he moved off her, once again sitting the couch facing her, "there has been someone buzzing at your door for quite some time now." He helped her sit up also.

"Oh ... yes. I hear it now." She stood up and smoothed out her dress. Her face was flushed, but she had regained some of her composure. "I'll be right back."

As soon as she left the room Sarek fixed his own clothing, then used his bio-control to quench his arousal and regain his own composure. He seemed a bit more sober now, whether the effects of the sugar were wearing off, or the interruption caused it, he didn't know. He felt shocked and embarrassed by what had happened, or almost happened, a few minutes ago. What was he doing? It was wrong. She was not his wife, he had no right to touch her. He had practically forced himself on her! She did not want him, it was so obvious now. She stopped him from touching her mind, she tried to speak but he would not listen. What must she think of him?

"Sarek, it's for you. It's your driver, Sulkar. He says he needs to talk to you."

He got up and put on his robe, then left the room with just a nod of acknowledgment towards Amanda. A few minutes later he returned to explain. "I must take my leave of you. The Embassy has been trying to reach me for quite some time now. It seems someone has accessed my personal files from the computer in my office. I must check what has been opened and what is still confidential. Thank you for you hospitality. Good night." With that he grabbed his outer robe off its hook and left, leaving a very confused and disappointed Amanda staring after him.


Jim Kirk and Dr. McCoy had been waiting for over an hour for Mr. Spock to return from the Vulcan Embassy. They had emerged through the time portal a few hours ago to find themselves in a small park located in the governmental section of the city, fairly close to the embassy. After much discussion, and some debate, it was decided that since Spock was familiar with the embassy from times he'd been there as a child, and since he would be the least conspicuous of the three of them, he would attempt to enter the embassy alone and gather as much information as possible. He waited until about midnight to go, hoping that most of the resident Vulcans would either be in their rooms or too occupied by their work to notice him moving about. Currently, Dr. McCoy was sitting on the ground leaning against a tree, while Jim Kirk slowly paced around. He stopped when he noticed a lone figure moving across the lawn towards him. Spock was dressed in a modest Vulcan style tunic, suitable for an aide at the embassy. Jim and Bones were dressed in simple shirts and trousers fashionable for the time. The clothes had been beamed down from the Enterprise, along with several extra security officers to help guard the Klingons.

As Spock approached, Kirk thought he looked quite pleased, as pleased as Spock ever looked anyway. McCoy got up to join him, and both men were eager to know what Spock had learned.

"Captain, Doctor, we are most fortunate that Vulcans are creatures of both logic and habit, especially Sarek." Spock had both eyebrows slightly elevated and his lips pressed together in the 'smiling, but not smiling' expression he sometimes wore. He was definitely pleased.

"It went well then," Kirk stated because he already knew it had.

"Yes, Captain."

"Jim, Spock. You have to call me Jim while we're here." Spock nodded his acknowledgment, but otherwise stayed quiet, forcing Jim to pry for the information. "So, what did you find?"

"First, I found that most of the rooms are exactly like they were, or will be, when I was a child. Specifically, Sarek's office was where I remember it being."

"Well, that's certainly convenient, but was it helpful?" Kirk inquired impatiently.

"I think so, sir. I have learned that tomorrow is the first day of a two-week trade conference. I learned that this is the first Federation trade conference that allowed non-member worlds to attend. Some of the key races Sarek expects to be present are the Deltans, the Capellans, the Troyians and the Argelians. If you remember your Federation history, gentlemen, you will note that none of these planets are members yet. It is my father's goal to persuade them to join. There will be many more governments present and he expects many more to arrive without prior notice, but those are the ones he is most hopeful of recruiting. I suspect that the Klingons will attempt the assassination sometime tomorrow, either at the conference itself, or afterwards at the reception being held in the embassy." Spock waited patiently while Kirk and McCoy digested this information.

McCoy's eyes narrowed as he scrutinized Spock. "That's an awful lot of detail, Spock. How'd you learn all that? Sarek just came out and told you I suppose, huh?"

Spock met McCoy's look directly. He always found it a trifle annoying when McCoy focused on irrelevant matters, but he knew that it would be much faster to just answer the doctor than avoid the question. Otherwise McCoy would be on him about it all night. "No, Doctor, of course not. Sarek was not there that I could see. I went to his office and accessed his personal files on the computer. Sarek always keeps a record of his thoughts regarding both personal and professional matters. Fortunately, Sarek's access codes have always been one of a set of ten codes he continually circulates. In my lifetime he has never altered those codes. He uses them for everything; his computer, the house, his office, even his bank account. Always using the same codes, just changed frequently. Mother and I are the only ones who he ever shared those codes with, and that is only because we needed access to them for various reasons. It was a simple matter to try the different codes until one worked."

McCoy broke into a bedeviling grin. "You read his diary!" He chuckled.

Despite himself, Kirk could not suppress a grin from emerging. McCoy's words brought forth an image of Spock sneaking an old-style diary from under Sarek's mattress, picking the lock, and reverently reading all his secrets. What could he say, it was funny.

Spock looked from McCoy to Kirk. Noticing their grins he raised his eyebrows indignantly. "I assure you it was a necessary breach of privacy!"

Kirk's grin grew into a full smile. "It's okay, Spock. We understand. Bones, knock it off, will ya?" He grew serious. "Okay, killing Sarek would certainly disrupt the conference, but how would that benefit the Klingons?"

"Jim, there are only two main reasons to join the Federation. One is to facilitate trades for your planet's goods and services, and the other is for military protection. Currently, the Federation is quite small and spread over a great distance. It needs the planets separating its member planets to join also to give it strength, however, when they see that the Federation cannot even keep its own conference secure-- "

"Then they will have no reason to join," Kirk finished since he had already surmised Spock's conclusion. "They can still trade on a planet-by-planet basis and not have to contribute to the Federation. This leaves a lot of planets vulnerable for Klingon attack." Spock nodded solemnly.

"So, the Klingons scare them into not joining the Federation now, so that they can conquer them and make the Empire larger in the future," McCoy reiterated. All three men were now in accord.

"All right, that makes sense, but how do they plan on getting into the conference? How are we going to get in to stop them for that matter?" Kirk asked.

"Well, I cannot speak for the Klingons, but we will get in using these." Spock pulled three passes out of a pocket inside his robe. "I ... procured them from Sarek's office."

Kirk and McCoy looked at each other, surprised, then looked at Spock. "Well I'll be damned," he heard McCoy mutter.


Sarek sat at his desk, in the dark, deep in thought. The first day of the trade conference was over and he was due to appear at the reception shortly. His thoughts weren't on his duties however, they were on Amanda. Last night he had returned to the embassy to find that someone had accessed his personal files, but nothing that was classified, just his last few entries in which he discussed the upcoming conference and a few personal matters. He was disconcerted that such a thing would happen in the embassy and that someone had his access code, which he changed, but he was not overly concerned. He spent the rest of the night replaying in his mind what had happened before that, on Amanda's couch. The more he thought about it, the more he was convinced that he was at fault. He had thought at the time, when he had kissed her, that he could sense some deep affection and desire from her. Now, he thought that what he had sensed was his own feelings which, in his intoxicated state, he had attributed to her.

By morning he had developed a terrific headache, but he refused to summon a healer because he didn't want to explain his condition. Instead, he suppressed his discomfort and went about his duties at the conference. He didn't call her, as he normally would have, because he was still too ashamed to face her yet. Although, he knew he would have to at some point, apologize, and hopefully salvage their friendship. He did, however, learn that she had not come in to work that day, which he considered to be a bad sign.

Soran, his chief advisor and long-time friend, entered the office and took a seat across from Sarek. He turned up the lights and studied the ambassador a moment before speaking. "The guests are starting to arrive, sir." He knew Sarek had heard him even though there was no reaction. Not sure what to make of Sarek's behavior, he kept talking. "Today went well. Many of the visiting ambassadors were open to what you had to say. Logic dictates that our chances for success are great."

Sarek nodded but offered no reply. Soran knew that something was troubling him, had been since last night, but he was unsure what it was or how far he should go towards finding out. Sarek was one of his best friends, had been since they were seven years old and attended their kahs'wan together. However, he was also a very private person and not even Soran would be allowed to pry too far. "Embassy security is investigating the occurrence in your office last night. In the meantime they have posted a camera outside your door and will patrol this section of the building more frequently. Is that sufficient?"

He watched closely for a reaction, but Sarek merely nodded and murmured, "Yes, that is adequate."

Soran knew that Sarek was at the home of Dr. Grayson last night. He knew that Sarek often spent time there and now he was beginning to suspect that she was cause of his troubles. Soran himself had been married for several years, so he knew that, regardless of the species, there was only one type of trouble a woman gave a man. "Is Dr. Grayson meeting you here, or are you sending a car for her?"

Finally Sarek looked at him, but only briefly and Soran was unable to identify the flicker of emotion he saw. Sarek took a deep breath. "Is T'Sar attending tonight's events?" He still did not look at Soran.

"Yes. My wife is preparing now in fact."

"Good. I think that she would be a suitable hostess for tonight. Since we will all be arriving together, no one will notice whom she is actually with. That is, if that is acceptable to you, my friend." Now he looked his friend in the eye, hoping that he would not ask for an explanation.

"Of course, Sarek." He gave Sarek a measured look. "I suppose Dr. Grayson has a schedule conflict and had to cancel for tonight. Most unfortunate." He had not asked a question, therefore Sarek was neither forced to explain, nor forced to lie, for which he was grateful.

The buzzer to the office ante-room sounded, and since the receptionist had already left for the day, Soran got up to answer it. A moment later he returned followed by a stunning Amanda Grayson. She was wearing a deep blue, strapless evening gown. It clung to her young figure down until about mid-calf, where it flared out and flowed to her ankles. On her feet were matching sandals with three-inch heels. Her hair was piled on top of her head with several ringlets pulled out to frame her face.

Soran let his eyes travel slowly over Amanda's appearance before casting Sarek a meaningful look. "Unless you should require us beforehand, T'Sar and I will meet you at the reception." At Sarek's nod he turned, and after giving Amanda a slight bow, he quietly left, shutting the door behind him.

Sarek got up and closed half the distance between them. He had not expected her to come tonight after what he had done, but then Amanda was always doing what he least expected.

"I know I'm a little early, Sarek, but I thought we could talk a bit before we go." She was twisting a ring around on her finger, Sarek knew this was a sign of nervousness.

"Yes, of course, Amanda. Would you like to sit?" Amanda took the chair Soran had just vacated, but Sarek remained standing. "I did not think you would come tonight, especially when you did not report to work."

"Well, I didn't have much time to get ready, Sarek. The dress, shoes, hair, nails ... it takes awhile to look like this." She gestured towards herself.

"Ah." He looked her over appraisingly. "I would say it was time well spent, Amanda."

Amanda was warmed by his compliment. It gave her the courage to mention what was happening between them. "Sarek, about last night ... I ... that is, we-- "

"Amanda, please, if I may I would like to explain myself." Sarek spoke quickly, not entirely sure what he was going to say, but wanting to get it over with as soon as possible. Amanda sat back and folded her hands in her lap while she waited for him to continue. "Amanda, Vulcans and Humans have quite different physiologies, and, while I was unaware of it at the time, some of the ingredients in the bread we ate have ... particular effects on Vulcans."

"Oh God, Sarek. I had no idea." Amanda was visibly upset.

Sarek held up his hand to stop her from continuing. "Of course not, there was no way you could have known. My point, Amanda, is that last night I behaved in a manner that was atypical for me. I was not myself and I am asking for your forgiveness, and if possible..." He paused to find the right words. "...I would like for us to forget that last night ever happened." There, he had said it. He looked at Amanda, but she was looking down at her hands.

"Oh, I see." She looked up at him, her eyes glistening with tears she refused to shed. "You want to just forget about it, pretend nothing happened?"

Sarek could tell she was upset, but he misinterpreted the reason. "Amanda, I promise I will never do anything like that again. I give you my word."

She looked back to her hands. "All right, Sarek. If that's what you want, then we'll forget about it. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need a few minutes to freshen up." She jumped up and quickly left without another word nor a glance in Sarek's direction.

Sarek watched her leave. He was confused by her actions, but paid them little attention since her words were exactly what he had wanted to hear. He straightened up his desk, then left to meet Amanda and proceed to the reception.

* * *

Jim, Spock and McCoy were already at the reception, having been one of the first to arrive in order to learn the layout of the rooms and watch the doors. They would do the same thing tonight as they had at the conference. Once Sarek arrived they would split up, each taking a different area of whatever room he was in. This way they would all keep him in their sights, but also be able to have most of the room under surveillance. Currently, they were standing together near the corner discussing strategy and the day's events. There had been no sign of the Klingons yet, but it was only a matter of time. The three men were deep in conversation when the noise level in the room dropped drastically. Looking to see what had caused it, they found Sarek standing at the door beside a gorgeous and very Human woman. It took them a moment to realize who this woman actually was.

"Spock. Wow, I had no idea ... I mean, that is Amanda, isn't it?" Kirk was a little flabbergasted, something he thought he had outgrown years ago.

"Yes, sir. It is her. She looks ... different. I have never seen her dressed like that before. She looks so ... Human." Even Spock was having difficulty realizing that this young, vivacious woman was the same person he had always associated with baking cookies and mending socks.

"You know something..." McCoy added his two cents, "I never realized it when they were on the ship for the Babel conference, but those robes did nothing for her." He titled his head thoughtfully. "Think that's why Sarek makes her wear them?"

"I can't say that I blame him for it," Kirk concurred.

"Gentlemen, please." Spock was becoming embarrassed by the way his friends were ogling Amanda, although it was no different than the way he had heard them refer to many other women. "She is my mother."

"Not yet she isn't," McCoy muttered, knowing full well that Spock would hear it. He gave Spock a disarming smile. "Just kidding."

Sarek and Amanda were greeted by Soran and his wife. After a moment of conversation Soran drew Sarek over to a group of delegates from several planets with whom he had been conversing before Sarek's arrival. T'Sar and Amanda followed, remaining respectfully behind the men but still able to follow the conversation. It wasn't long, however, before one of the Earth representatives recognized Amanda and had engaged her in conversation, mainly about the translator, then guided her off to join a small group of Federation members who were interested in her project.

Spock had managed in insinuate himself into that group and was enjoying himself as he watched Amanda display the charm and finesse he always remembered. Oddly, he had thought she was taught those skills on Vulcan, as Sarek's wife, but now he realized that was not so. He should have known all along, because even though Sarek was charming in his own way, and he was capable of running negotiations in a fair and logical manner, Amanda had a way of subtly getting people to do what she wanted and yet make them think it was their own idea. Now, it was different though. He had never seen men act so bold and flirtatious with her, nor had he ever seen her respond in kind. He did realize, however, that they were acting no different than the men on the Enterprise do towards a beautiful and available woman. Soon, he realized that Sarek had moved to another area, so he had to leave the group in order to keep an eye on his father.

* * *

As the evening progressed, more and more people arrived and it became rather crowded, but everyone seemed contented. There had been no sign of Klingons as of yet, though. Spock had just seen Sarek exit into what he knew would be the gardens. He was alone. As Spock made his way through the room to follow, he caught sight of Jim and Bones doing the same. They met just outside of the garden's doorway and decided that McCoy would remain inside to watch the room while Kirk and Spock kept track of the gardens, which were quite large and designed like a maze to allow several people their own private areas. This made surveillance difficult because anyone could be behind any of the hedges in the maze.

They lost Sarek for a moment, but then Spock heard his voice so they headed in that direction. When they were close to him, they separated, each taking an alcove to the side of the one Sarek was in. At this distance, Kirk could only hear the deep murmur of Sarek's voice and the lighter tone of a woman's voice. He assumed it to be Amanda. Spock, on the other hand, could hear every word being said. It was yet another breach of Sarek's privacy, and should any Vulcan come upon him he would have no excuse for being there. As a Vulcan, he should have moved to another area or left the gardens completely until it was unoccupied, but his duty required that he be aware of everything Sarek was doing.

Amanda had come outside for a little fresh air and some privacy. This was her favorite part of the gardens because there was a selection of different rose bushes lining one side of the alcove. Tonight had been difficult for her. She was hurt by Sarek's denial of what had happened between them, but mostly she was angry at herself for believing that last night meant something. She had only been there a few minutes when the object of her thoughts entered the alcove.

"Am I intruding?" Sarek asked softly, standing near the entryway.

"Of course not. I just needed some fresh air is all."

Sarek moved closer to her. "Yes, I too feel the need for fresh air from time to time." He looked at some of the roses nearby. "I have been neglectful in my duties as your escort. Do you have everything you need?"

Amanda moved to the stone bench and sat down tiredly. "Yes, Sarek, I'm fine." She took off her shoes and rubbed her aching feet.

Sarek sat beside her and watched. "Those shoes do not appear to be designed for comfort, Amanda. An illogical choice for an evening of dancing." Even though he had been busy discussing politics with the other delegates, he had also been aware of everywhere Amanda had gone. It did not escape him that a large portion of her time had been spent on the dance floor with a variety of different men. He refused to acknowledge that it had bothered him to see her in another man's arms, especially when the feel of her in his was so fresh.

"No, they're not comfortable. But they are tall and that is why I bought them." She picked up one of the offending shoes. "Plus they match the dress."

Sarek took the shoe from her and examined it. Upon seeing the tiny tip of the heel he wondered how she managed not to fall over in them. He gave it back to her. "Why are you concerned about your height? You are quite tall for a Human female, are you not?"

"Yes, but I'm a bit short for a Vulcan female," she replied sheepishly. Sarek raised an eyebrow at her curious statement. "I guess I was trying to fit in."

He considered this for a moment. "You do fit in, Amanda. You fit in among Humans, as well as here among Vulcans. You fit in among your peers, both teachers and scientists. You also fit in at these functions, at least you seem more comfortable than I anyway." Exactly the qualities he was looking for in a wife, but where would he find a Vulcan woman who could do that? He noticed that Amanda was looking at him strangely. "Besides, a Vulcan woman would never wear those shoes." He said this hoping to lighten the mood, and it worked because he heard Amanda's chuckle.

"Good point." She once again focused on rubbing her feet. "I saw T'Lana earlier tonight. She told me that they had finished the rest of the translations today. I'll pick them up before I go home. Once I get through them, all I'll have to do is wait for the Federation board's approval. So, other than coming in to teach my classes I probably won't be here much."

Sarek kept his face blank, but his heart increased its beat. "You're leaving? I thought you were staying through the summer. It is not even June yet. You could start teaching at the embassy full-time; we certainly have a demand for it."

"I had expected it to take most of the summer to get through all the translations, but you have a very efficient staff." She gave him a weak smile. "If you want me to stay, I'm willing to do it. That is what we agreed on. However, if you don't need me then I really would like to go home and help Silek get everything ready for next semester. He's done so much for me, taking over my classes and all, I don't want to stick him with that, too." She looked at him, awaiting his answer.

He wanted to tell her to stay, but knew he couldn't do that and still be completely honest with her. Yes, they did need an English teacher at the embassy, but whether they replaced Amanda now or in a few months didn't really matter. He wanted her to stay for personal reasons, but that also would only be putting off the inevitable. He wondered if this sudden departure had anything to do with his behavior last night, but would not ask. "No, you don't need to stay any longer than you want to. Our agreement was that you would teach as long as we were assisting you with the translator and you've done that." He got up and examined one of the rose blossoms with much more intensity than it warranted.

They were silent, each lost in their own thoughts while they listened to the music playing softly from inside. As one song ended and another began, Sarek broke the silence. "A waltz," he stated, silently seeking her permission.

"Yeah." She looked up into his eyes. "Do you want to dance? I believe you said it was required." She slipped her shoes back on and took Sarek's proffered hand to help her up.

"True," Sarek said as he wrapped her arm through his to escort her to the dance floor. "But I would want to dance with you regardless."

They were approaching the doorway when Sarek pulled them aside to allow two large men to pass by. He didn't recognize them from the conference, but then he couldn't really see much of them because they were both wearing large, hooded cloaks. As the second one passed, Sarek began to move forward until he felt Amanda being yanked from his side. He simultaneously heard her gasp of surprise and a deep voice telling him to stop. He spun around to find that one man had a weapon of some kind pointed at him while the other had a massive arm wrapped around Amanda's torso, imprisoning her slight frame against him, pointing an identical weapon at her head.

Sarek had never been in a situation like this before, but he had been through training for it since an ambassador was always a potential target.

Amanda, however, would have no reason to expect an attack like this. Her eyes were wide with fear, silently pleading with him to do something, but she did not lose her control. She did not cry, as he knew Terran females had a tendency to do, nor did she beg or plead with her captors. He felt a surge of pride and admiration beneath his own fear. Sarek kept his outward appearance calm and controlled, but inside he was torn. His training dictated that he should save himself at all cost, but he could not leave Amanda to them, regardless of the consequences. It was not logical, but it was the only thing he could do.

Sarek realized his captor was talking to him, telling him to go inside, but he had almost missed it due to his inner turmoil. He forced all his feelings and thoughts aside, enabling him to concentrate on the situation at hand. He didn't know what those men had planned, but the room inside was full of important ambassadors and delegates from many different planets. He could not let anything happen to them while they were in his embassy, under his protection.

Sarek kept his voice soft and calm. "Please, allow logic to guide your actions. There are many armed security officers in that room. Once inside, you will be surrounded and there will be no escape. But out here, there is just us. You are in control here. Tell me what you want and I will do everything in my power to get it."

The single man pulled his hood back slightly before answering him. "We already have what we want, Vulcan. You! Now, I want you to go back inside, slowly. Head towards the main doors. No one will attack us while we have you and your wife with us, especially since you will order them back. Then we will kill you in front of everyone present. Once you are dead, we do not plan to be around long enough to be captured. Do as I say and your woman will be unharmed, but if you fight, then she will die now."

Sarek had seen enough of the man to identify him as Klingon, although he had never had any dealings with them personally. He didn't understand why they would want to kill him, but he would not argue about it because he wanted them to remain calm. Nor would he mention their race, figuring they were wearing the cloaks because they wanted to be anonymous. Sarek heard someone approaching from behind the Klingons and looked to see a Terran and a Vulcan male heading in their direction. Suddenly, the men drew weapons of their own and took cover behind some hedges. Sarek assumed they must be part of the security team covering the conference.

He forced himself to keep his eyes on the Klingon, not wanting to alert him to the others' presence. "Very well. If it is my death you want, then I accept that." Sarek had no intention of dying, but he wanted to keep the Klingons' attention on him. "However, you should let the female go. She is not my woman and has no influence on what occurs at this embassy. She can not protect you."

"Sarek, no." He heard Amanda whisper, but he did not acknowledge her.

Everything that happened next seemed to occur instantaneously. The Terran male peered out from behind the hedge and demanded that the Klingons surrender themselves. The single Klingon spun around and simultaneously fired in the direction of the voice, but apparently missed, because the Terran male fired and the Klingon was disintegrated by the phaser blast. The noise inside became deafening as everyone heard the commotion outside and either fled the reception area or moved to protect their own ambassadors. Sarek was suddenly surrounded by many Vulcan security guards, some of which pushed him back inside, while the others stayed outside to deal with the remaining Klingon who still had Amanda hostage.

From Sarek's position inside, he could barely see that the Klingon had backed himself against the wall, using Amanda as a shield. He was waving his weapon back and forth between the Vulcan guards and the two men on his other side. He was demanding to be released and looked very close to panicking.

Soran emerged through the wall of men surrounding Sarek to check that he was well and try to convince him to go upstairs to his quarters where he would be safe. Sarek refused to go and they began a heated discussion over how the situation should be handled.

Amanda had never been so scared in her life. She expected at any moment one of the guards would shoot to take the man out and her along with him. She kept her eyes closed, not wanting to see it coming. The man was arguing with one of the guards, but Amanda was in such a daze that she couldn't really follow the conversation. When he started moving her, Amanda opened her eyes to see that the guards had backed into the room and were allowing him to go towards the main doors, which would eventually take them out of the embassy. She caught a glimpse of Sarek and Soran in the corner, speaking intently to each other, but then the conversation broke off and Sarek looked in her direction. Amanda quickly cast her eyes back to floor, afraid that if she looked into his eyes she would crumble into tears. Soon, she felt a cool breeze against her face and the man picked up his pace as they fled the embassy. Amanda took one last look at the guards who had followed them to the doors, but did not move past them.


Sarek slowly made his way out of the reception hall, unable to get the sight of Amanda being taken away in the Klingon's arms out of his mind. Sarek had been outraged that they had let him take her, but Soran explained that they had decided that it was safer for everyone if they let him leave the embassy. Once he escaped, he would have no reason to hold or harm Amanda further. Sarek couldn't argue, as he could see the logic of their decision.

The embassy was secured now and the guards were assisting many of the parties that had been taken upstairs to safety back to their rooms located in a building nearby. Soran was helping to oversee the operation and Sarek was headed to his rooms upstairs. There was nothing he could do to help Amanda now. She was out of the embassy, therefore out of his jurisdiction. The Terran guards who had been working at the reception tonight were working with the local agencies to find Amanda. Now he had to wait to hear from them.

Just outside the reception doorway something on the floor caught his eye. He bent down and picked up one of Amanda's blue, high heeled shoes. It must have fallen off during the escape. He held it close to his chest as he made his way to his room.

* * *

Kirk, Spock, and McCoy fled the embassy also and met a short distance away.

"Bones, what happened?" Kirk asked the slightly out of breath doctor. "I don't know, Jim. I never even recognized them in those cloaks! Spock, I'm so sorry." McCoy's remorse was clearly written on his face.

"He will be heading back to the park, to the time portal." Spock took off not even waiting for anyone to reply.

They had made it all the way back to the park without seeing any sign of the Klingon. They had, however, come across one of Amanda's shoes, so they knew they had come in this direction. All three men had their phasers drawn and set to kill. They weren't taking any chances.

"There she is!" Spock broke into a run, heading towards the lone figure several yards away. Amanda was sitting on the ground, knees drawn up and arms around them, sobbing into her lap. She jumped when Spock approached her, and although Kirk couldn't hear the words, he could tell Spock was comforting her.

McCoy came up to them and ran a small medscan over her. "She'll be all right. Just some bruising and a bit of shock." He addressed Spock instead of Amanda.

"Where's the Klingon?" Kirk gently asked Amanda from his position behind Spock.

Amanda looked at the three men before her. She had seen them at the reception and now assumed they were security guards since they were armed. "I ... I don't know. When we got here he pushed me away, then ran in that direction." She indicated with her hand. "Then he just ... just disappeared." She looked into Spock's eyes with a puzzled expression. "I don't know how."

"It is of no importance now," Spock said softly, to calm her.

Amanda had begun to shiver so Spock took off his tunic and wrapped it around her. She thanked him gratefully.

Kirk placed a hand on Spock's shoulder. "Spock, we need to get going now."

"We can't just leave her here, it isn't safe," Spock protested.

"She'll be fine. The authorities will be here soon. We're not that far from the embassy." Kirk reminded him gently. Nothing much affected his First Officer, but Kirk had learned over the years that his mother was his major weak spot.

Spock once more addressed Amanda. "It won't be long now. You will be fine." He got to his feet.

"Wait." Amanda also got up. "Who are you?"

Spock glanced quickly at his Captain. He knew that they had to leave, he could hear the sound of an aircar approaching. "Just know that we are here to help you." He quickly brushed his fingers across her temple, a sign of affection he did out of habit, then turned to join Kirk and McCoy. All three men ran together, in the same direction the Klingon had, and disappeared before Amanda's eyes. A few minutes later, an air car landed to pick her up.


Sarek was sitting at the desk in his room, fingers steepled, staring at Amanda's shoe sitting on his desk while he meditated over tonight's events. He came out of his meditation when Soran entered the room, holding a report in his hands.

"The delegates have been safely returned to their rooms and security has increased the number of staff on duty to provide extra surveillance. It should also please you to know that while a few parties have decided to leave the conference, most have agreed to stay."

"Indeed, that is fortunate," Sarek agreed.

Soran prepared himself for what he was about to say next. "Sarek, I just spoke with Security Chief Tamak. We think that since tonight's attack was meant for you specifically, then, in order to ensure you are adequately protected, it would be logical to have a guard with you at all times." He could tell by Sarek's expression that he was not pleased, but Soran had known that he would not be.

"Am I to have no privacy then?" Sarek asked, barely contained fury in his eyes.

"Of course you will. There is no reason why the guard should have to enter your bed chambers or the meditation room. If you require privacy in your office then he can wait outside the door. But otherwise it would be best to have him with you, especially when you leave the embassy."

Sarek pursed his lips together. "Very well, I agree, at least until the end of the conference."

Soran was surprised Sarek agreed so quickly, it was rare that he won any debate with the ambassador. "Excellent. He should be here shortly. Tamak was reassigning his staff when we spoke. By the way, Dr. Grayson was found in the park a short while ago. She is unharmed. I have included a copy of her statement to the authorities in with our security report." He placed the report on the desk in front of Sarek.

"Where is she now?" Sarek made no move to read the report.

"I just saw her downstairs approximately 20.35 minutes ago. She said she had to get some things from her office. After that I would assume she is going home." He gave Sarek a meaningful look. "She seemed upset. Understandable under the circumstances, but I thought you would want to know."

"I see." Sarek was dismayed to learn that she was here but had made no effort to contact him. He avoided his friend's eyes. "Thank you, Soran. That will be all for tonight." Soran quickly left, and Sarek sat looking at her shoe sitting on his desk.

* * *

Kirk, Spock and McCoy emerged through the time portal to find several phasers aimed directly at them, which were then lowered as the security guards recognized their Captain.

"Sorry, sir. Thought you might have been another Klingon. He gave us quite a start when he came through." Security guard West gestured to the fugitive Klingon, who was now lying on the ground unconscious. "We had to stun him, sir, he had his weapon drawn."

"That's fine, West. Good work. Have the extra security team beam up to the ship with the Klingons and put them in the brig. Then tell the transporter chief to stand by for the rest of us."

"Aye, sir." West quickly left to follow his orders after giving Spock a puzzled look.

"Well," Kirk addressed his two friends. "It didn't go exactly as I'd hoped, but at least everyone is alive and well." They murmured their agreement. "Let's get back to the ship, destroy this portal and go home."

"What about the Klingons, Captain?" Spock questioned.

"We'll drop them off at Starbase 4. We've done our job, let Star Fleet deal with them now." Kirk saw West approaching.

"Sir, the Klingons are all secured and Mr. Scott is waiting for you in the transporter room. I took the liberty of notifying him of our guest, sir."

"Guest?" Kirk asked, puzzled.

"Yes, sir." Now West was really puzzled. "The Vulcan, sir." He said this quietly as though Spock wouldn't be able to hear him.

The three officers looked at each other, shocked by these latest developments. "Mr. West," Spock began, "who is the First Officer aboard the USS Enterprise?" West looked at Captain Kirk, who nodded indicating that he should answer. "Mr. Scott is the second in command on the Enterprise."

"Then who is the Science Officer?" Kirk asked.

West looked at him as though he had lost his mind. In a slightly agitated voice he answered, "Commander Jacobs, sir. Mark Jacobs."

"Jim, what happened? What went wrong?" McCoy asked fearfully.

Kirk shook his head. "I don't know, Bones. Let's get up to the ship and see what we can learn there."

* * *

The three men met in Briefing Room 6, along with Mr. Scott and Commander Jacobs. The situation had already been explained to them and they had already confirmed that there was no Mr. Spock on the ship's roster, nor had anyone other than Kirk and McCoy recognized him.

"All right, Mr. Jacobs, what did you find in the ship's computers?" Kirk asked as he took his seat.

"Well, sir, not only does the name Spock not appear on our rosters, but I couldn't find anyone by that name anywhere in Star Fleet." He gave Spock a condescending look, obviously he did not believe their story to be true.

"What about Sarek?" Spock asked him meeting his gaze directly.

Jacobs addressed Kirk with his answer. "There's a ton of information on Ambassador Sarek. Born in the year 2165, became Vulcan's ambassador to Earth and the Federation in 2228, married a Vulcan woman named T'Mia in 2232." Now he looked at Spock. "Has two sons and one daughter, but none of them are named Spock either." He looked back to Kirk. "The rest dealt with his various missions and accomplishments."

"So, Sarek's alive then," Kirk stated, thinking out loud. "What about Amanda Grayson?"

"There wasn't much, sir. Dr. Amanda Grayson was born in 2206 and worked as a linguistics professor at Harvard when she helped create and develop the first version of the Universal Translator. That's all that's there. I would assume she is alive, somewhere, because her death would have been mentioned in the article. At least, other scientists who worked on the project and have since passed had their deaths mentioned." He waited for Kirk's response.

"Okay, Commander, Mr. Scott. That will be all for now. You are dismissed." Kirk didn't care for this officer's attitude, and waited until they had left before discussing Spock's situation any further. "Well, Spock, what do you think happened?"

"Obviously, the situation with the Klingons has altered some significant event that should have resulted in Sarek and Amanda getting married," Spock stated flatly.

"Yeah, I know that, Spock," Kirk responded drolly. "What I meant was do you have any idea what that event might have been? When did your parents decide to get married? How and why did they choose each other? Is there anything you can think of that might help us to get them together now?"

Spock thought about this for several minutes, going over the numerous conversations he'd had with this parents over the years. Finally, he shook his head. "No, Captain. You were there, in sickbay, when I asked Sarek that very question. You heard his answer."

"Yeah," McCoy broke in, chuckling lightly, "he said 'it was the logical thing to do.' But I just thought that was his way of teasing her."

Spock nodded. "It is, however, also his way of avoiding personal questions. That is the most he has said to me on that subject."

McCoy looked at him doubtfully. "Okay, but surely your mother told you stories, when you were a child, about when they dated, or how he proposed to her, stuff like that."

Spock shook his head. "Nothing specific. I know that they met when she began working at the embassy, on the translator. They spent time together when Sarek began helping with the project. Other than that, all she ever said was 'we fell in love and decided to get married.'" He looked at the Humans around him thoughtfully. "Is it customary for Humans to tell their offspring such stories?"

"Why sure, Spock." McCoy smiled broadly as he remembered his own parents' story. "My Mama was always telling me about the antics my Daddy pulled trying to get her attention. He chased her all through high school, but she wouldn't give him the time of day. Then at their senior dance, she was someone else's date, but he used the old McCoy charm and finally swept her off her feet. They went and eloped that very night! I guess her Pa was pretty ticked about it, but he got over it." McCoy looked at Spock's impassive expression. Obviously he was not moved by the romance of the story. "No, huh?"

Spock raised an eyebrow. "No, Doctor. Vulcans do not do such things. Of course, most Vulcans are bonded as children, so there is nothing to tell, usually."

"After tonight, security is going to be tight. Do you have any ideas on how to get to Sarek now?" Kirk asked, ignoring their by-play and trying to formulate some sort of plan.

"Hey, maybe you could get on his staff. Maybe a computer tech or something," McCoy added hopefully.

Spock rolled his eyes at him. "Doctor, just because I am a Vulcan does not mean that I can just walk into the embassy and insinuate myself into Sarek's life without someone questioning it. Even though Vulcan has no crime, actually it would be more accurate to say that Vulcan has no crime committed by Vulcans, we still take precautions. I need the right credentials and a security check and so forth."

"Well, at least I'm trying, Mr. Spock!" McCoy snapped angrily, "Maybe you should try using that damn computer brain of yours constructively instead of just knocking down our ideas! I'm not the one who won't exist if this doesn't come out right!"

Spock sat silently for several minutes, staring at his hands which were steepled on the table before him. "Actually, I could probably forge the credentials well enough to get into the embassy as a technician or some other low-level staff position. Sarek's personal log did mention some new staff having arrived a couple of days ago."

"Really? That's great, Spock!" Jim beamed, excited to be doing something now.

"Not really, Captain. As I said, I could forge a lower-level position well enough, but no one at that level would have dealings with the Ambassador. Certainly not enough for us to accomplish our goal." He went back to staring at his hands.

"Spock, Sarek couldn't possibly know everyone on his staff. There must be a couple hundred people working there. I certainly don't know everyone on this ship, and there's always some people leaving and new ones arriving. Surely it's similar at the embassy?" Kirk was getting discouraged.

"That is true, Captain. However, just as you do not work with every member of this crew, Sarek does not work with everyone at the embassy. He works mainly with his senior advisory staff, all of whom he picks personally, just as you have the senior officers here on the Enterprise." Spock waited for Jim's next suggestion.

"Okay." Jim thought for a moment, drumming his fingers on the table. "Yeomen." Spock raised a questioning eyebrow. "Yeoman, as in administrative staff. My yeomen change fairly frequently and I don't know all of them when they first start. Security guards, too. They change quite a bit, especially when we have something going on around here. Could that work?" Spock frowned in contemplation, then hesitantly replied. "I would doubt that Sarek pays much attention to those staff members. Especially security, because while he accepts it as a necessity for someone of his position, he has always considered it to be a bit of a nuisance."

McCoy jumped up and clasped his hands together. "Well, that's it then! You'll be his bodyguard and Sarek won't even notice you're new."

Spock was still considering it. "But Soran might."

McCoy turned to glare at Spock. "Who the hell is Soran?" he asked angrily.

Spock was unfazed by his outburst. "Soran is my father's chief advisor." He shook his head decisively. "Very little gets past him. If he notices that anything does not appear as it should, he will check into it and he will discover that I am not who I said I was."

Kirk stood up, his decision made. "Then you'll have to make sure that everything appears as it should. It's all we've got, Spock. Now, go and get whatever you think you'll need and we'll meet you in the transporter room."

* * *

Amanda watched as the three men disappeared before her eyes. "Come on, Mandy, keep it together," she said to herself. "People don't just vanish into thin --" Before she could finish her thought they reappeared and walked towards her.

"Where did you go?" she asked as they reached her.

Kirk stepped forward and offered her a toothy grin. "Nowhere. We were just looking for the guy who took you."

"Don't give me that. I know what I saw!" Amanda's nerves were stretched to the breaking point.

"Shhhhh, honey, it's all right now." McCoy put a comforting arm around her shoulders. "You've had a hard night and your eyes are playing tricks on you, that's all." McCoy's calm tone helped soothe Amanda's frayed nerves.

She looked questioningly at each man in turn, until her eyes settled on Spock's and he nodded encouragingly. Amanda closed her eyes briefly. "I guess, maybe."

A large air transport sailed over them and landed a short distance away in the park. A team of armed, uniformed officers emerged and blanketed the area. Before Amanda realized it, she was being guided towards the aircar, for questioning, and when she turned around to thank the three guards who had found her, they were gone.

* * *

A short time later Jim and Bones were once again waiting for Spock outside the Vulcan Embassy. It was late at night, but the place was still buzzing with authorities and embassy guards who were trying to finish their investigations. A short time later Spock came out talking to a large, stoic looking Vulcan. Once they parted Spock made his way over to them.

"Well, how's it going?" Kirk anxiously inquired.

"So far, I seem to have been successful. I managed to access a computer and put myself in as an embassy guard, specifically, I assigned myself as Sarek's personal guard. Fortunately, the Security Chief, with whom I was just speaking, is too distracted to realize his roster had been changed. He was just explaining what my new duties are. For your added information, my name is Selek now." At Kirk's surprised look he explained. "It's a much more common name than Spock."

"I see," Kirk answered.

"So, you just stay with Sarek and keep working on him until he marries Amanda." McCoy raised an eyebrow at Spock. "Piece of cake, right?"

Spock gave McCoy an uneasy look, then walked a few feet away and gestured to Kirk. "Jim." Kirk realized Spock wanted to say something he didn't want McCoy to hear, so he walked with Spock out of the doctor's hearing range. "What's the matter?" he asked patiently.

Spock looked into the distance as he carefully worded his thoughts. "Jim, I am not sure what... Even if my ruse woks, and no one suspects me, how do I convince Sarek to marry my mother?"

Jim considered this for a moment. He didn't really know Sarek that well. He'd only met him that once, on the Enterprise, and from what he picked up from Spock, he figured Sarek was a pretty difficult man to deal with. Still, with Amanda, his demeanor was completely different. He was gentler with her, almost affectionate. Always touching his fingers to hers and he had even smiled a little at her in sickbay.

"Spock, nobody knows why people fall in love. There's just something about a certain person, about who and what they are, that causes another to feel strongly enough about them to want to spend the rest of their life with them. Now, you don't need to create that in Sarek or Amanda. Whatever qualities attracted them to each other are already there. You just need to get them to spend time together so they can recognize those feelings."

Spock thought about this, then nodded affirmatively although he still looked dubious. "Very well, I concede to your judgment, since you certainly have more expertise in this area than I. However, I fear that you are thinking of Sarek in Human terms, which he is not. He may not react as you expect him to."

"Maybe, maybe not. But getting them to spend time together is certainly a start. You'll have to watch them, try to understand what they are feeling. You've seen how the women on the ship act when they're being courted; what they expect." He gave Spock a grin and an affectionate punch in the arm. "Maybe you can give Sarek some pointers?" Spock's eyebrows nearly flew off his head. Kirk laughed. "If you need my help just find me. We'll probably head down to the beach area for tonight. The park will be crowded with police still. Okay, Selek. Now get to work!"


Sarek was preparing to leave his room in search of Amanda, in order to return her shoe, when someone buzzed at his door. He absently beckoned to them while he finished reading the security report. Once he finished he looked up to see a young Vulcan male, whom he recognized as the one from the gardens earlier tonight, standing by the door.

"Yes?" Sarek asked patiently.

Spock raised his hand in the Vulcan salute and spoke in his native language. "Ambassador, my name is Selek. I have been assigned as your personal guard by Security Chief Tamak, effective immediately." He bowed his head respectfully. "I come to serve."

Sarek returned the salute and spoke the traditional words, but in Federation Standard. "Your service honors me, Selek." He took a moment to look Selek over. "I ask that all my staff speak in Standard whenever possible, at least when on duty. If needed we can arrange English lessons for you until you are proficient at it. Did you understand that?"

Spock bowed slightly to Sarek. "Forgive me, sir. Yes, I understood you and I am quite proficient at speaking Standard."

Sarek was impressed by how well he spoke the language. He had almost no Vulcan accent when speaking Standard, something Sarek himself managed to achieve just a few years ago. "That was well said, Selek. How does a security guard become so familiar with foreign languages?"

Does he know? Spock thought. No, it was just an innocent question. He had to clear his throat before he could answer. "I began studying Standard diligently as soon as I learned I would be assigned here. Apparently, I have a gift for such things." Spock hoped Sarek would accept that. He forgot that most Vulcans would never bother to learn another language since a very small percentage of Vulcan's population ever go offworld. But as Amanda Grayson's son, he knew Standard as well as he knew Vulcan. He could also speak decently in many other languages, usually better than Sarek could, but he would have to make sure not to let that show.

"Indeed you do. Perhaps once the conference is over I will have you reassigned to the linguistics department. Your talent would be well used there as opposed to the security staff."

"Indeed, sir." Spock bowed again. "I am honored."

Sarek nodded, then stood up and grabbed Amanda's shoe. "If you have no questions then there are some matters to which I must attend." Sarek walked out the door without another word to Spock. It had sounded like a dismissal, but Spock followed Sarek down the hall anyway, as was now his duty.

Sarek went down to the linguistics labs, with Spock following a respectful distance behind. There were a few people still in the labs, but Sarek passed them and went to a small room in the far corner. He went in and turned on the lights, then looked around in confusion. The room was bare of any personal effects, and to Spock, looked unused.

A petite Vulcan woman approached them. "Ambassador? May I be of assistance in some way?"

Sarek turned to her and casually placed his hands behind his back, effectively hiding the shoe from view. "T'Lana." He nodded to her. "I was looking for Dr. Grayson."

"Ah. Dr. Grayson left here 5.8 minutes ago, sir," she impassively informed him.

"With all her effects?" Sarek asked.

"Yes, sir. She said she would be leaving soon and since the translations are complete, there was no reason for her to keep an office at the embassy." She waited for him to question her further, but when he remained silent, she excused herself and went about her business.

Sarek paid little attention to her leaving. He couldn't understand why Amanda would leave without contacting him. Did this mean she was angry with him? If so, was it because of his behavior last night, or did she blame him for what had transpired tonight? He briefly thought about going to her, or at least calling her, but decided to do neither. If she had wanted to see him again she would have done so when she was here earlier. So, that was that. She was gone. Ignoring the hollow feeling in his gut, Sarek headed back to his quarters to meditate.

* * *

Spock observed Sarek closely as they walked back to his rooms. Obviously, Amanda's imminent departure had come as a shock to Sarek, as it did to Spock as well. Amanda's leaving would certainly explain why their marriage didn't take place. Spock already knew Sarek would not go after her. Whenever Sarek was angry or upset, he closed himself off from everyone around him until someone, usually Amanda, drew him back out. Spock knew better than anyone that nothing could make Sarek take the first step. He had spent eighteen years of his life learning that lesson. Apparently this time, according to the history Commander Jacobs presented on the ship, Amanda would not come to him either. So, it was up to Spock now. Jim had said, You just need to get them to spend time together. But he would need to give Sarek a logical reason to contact her.

Spock's eyes fell upon the shoe Sarek still held behind his back. It seemed like a trivial reason, but as he had often heard Humans say, 'what the hell'. Spock cleared his throat loudly, attempting to get Sarek's attention, but he was ignored. They had just reached the door so Sarek had to stop to punch in his access code, and Spock took the opportunity to talk. "Ambassador?" Spock knew that as a security guard he was acting inappropriately, for it was not his place to speak unless spoken to, certainly not about personal matters.

Sarek suppressed a sigh and turned to face Spock. "Yes, Selek?"

"Do you want me to notify your driver that we will be leaving?"

Sarek's eyes took on a hard gleam. Spock expected at least a reprimand, if not immediate dismissal from his post. "No, Selek," Sarek snapped, then proceeded into his living area. He tossed the shoe onto his desk and began to unclasp the fastenings of his outer robe.

Spock followed him in and tried again. "I had thought you wanted to return the shoe to Dr. Grayson. She will require it if she plans to leave soon."

Sarek was so stunned by Spock's audacity he stopped undressing and stared at him. "You forget your place here, Selek. I will not remind you of it again." He turned to face the desk, putting his back to Spock.

This is not working, Spock thought to himself. I need to speak with Jim. Spock bowed low to Sarek. "I ask forgiveness, sir. I merely intended to help. Perhaps you would prefer to have it delivered to her? I would be honored to serve you in this capacity in retribution for my impudence." Spock hoped he would agree so he would have an excuse to leave the embassy to seek out Jim.

Sarek had been looking at the shoe sitting on the desk throughout Spock's apology. He turned again towards Spock, but this time he refastened his robe. "No, Selek. I will deliver it to her personally. Tell Sulkar I will be ready in five minutes ... and tell him I want to find a florist's shop. It is a Terran custom to give flowers when one wishes to apologize. Dr. Grayson favors roses, so he will need to find a shop that carries that variety."

Spock had to suppress a smile at Sarek's ignorance. "I do not think that will pose a problem, sir." He left quickly before he told Sarek that roses are the most common flower Terrans exchange, but for reasons other than apologizing.

* * *

Once Amanda got home she tore off her dress, which she considered burning, and helped herself to several large servings of brandy while she listened to some instrumental music. She had hoped the combination would enable her to fall into a deep, dreamless sleep, but it didn't work. Instead she changed into a swimsuit and sweats so she could take a run along the beach followed by a quick swim to cool off. She often did this when she felt stressed, but tonight it, too, had little effect.

She had returned to her house and was halfway up the steps to the back porch when she saw two figures walking her way, which was odd for this part of the beach, especially this late at night. She watched them for a moment and when they drew near she recognized them as the two Human men who had found her in the park. She felt a spark of gratitude followed by some fear and suspicion. Why were they here, on her beach, near her house, on what was probably the worst night of her life? Were they following her? Why? And why did they disappear as soon as the other authorities arrived? She wanted to run away, but they had already recognized her and were waving as they jogged over to meet her.

"Hey! Fancy meeting you here," Kirk said when they had caught up to her.

Amanda plastered a fake smile on her face and made her voice sound light and cheerful, but in reality visitors were the last thing she wanted to deal with tonight. "I was thinking the same thing. Funny, I've never met you here before. Do you live around here?"

Kirk glanced at McCoy, sending him a message to go along with whatever he said. "No, we're just a couple of night owls. Looks like a nice place to live though. You've got a great back yard!" He flashed her a smile dripping with boyish charm.

"Yeah, it's not bad." Amanda just wanted them to leave, but before she could blurt out an excuse, Sarek came around the corner of the house.

"Amanda? Please forgive the interruption, but I heard voices from out front." Sarek eyeballed Jim and Bones suspiciously. He recognized the Terran who had shot the Klingon, but not the other one. He didn't like that they were here, because Amanda had told him several months ago that on Earth it was considered rude to call or visit someone after ten at night, since most Humans had already retired for the night by then. It was now a little after one in the morning. Much too late even for friends, let alone new acquaintances.

"These are for you." Sarek held out the bouquet of roses. He had been unsure which color Amanda would prefer, but had purchased two dozen of the red ones at the store clerk's suggestion. Amanda looked at the flowers, then back to Sarek, but didn't take them. "I wanted to apologize for tonight, and to return this." He held up the shoe in his other hand.

"Oh. Of course. Thank you, Sarek, they're beautiful ... and extravagant." She took both items from him. It was then that she noticed Spock standing behind Sarek. "It's you! I tried to find you a little while ago, at the embassy."

Sarek sent a surprised look to Spock then turned back to Amanda. "How do you know my guard, Amanda?"

"He found me tonight in the park. Actually, all three of these men did. He was very kind." She looked past Sarek to address Spock. "I still have your tunic. I wanted to return it to you but I didn't know your name." She looked around at the men. "I don't know any of your names for that matter."

"Well, we can certainly fix that." Kirk chimed in. "You can call me Jim and this here is Leonard."

Amanda nodded to each of them and turned back to Spock. He raised his hand in the Vulcan salute. "I am Selek, and it was no kindness. I come to serve, madam." He bowed his head to her.

She returned the gesture and responded formally. "Your service honors me, sir." Then she graced him with a smile. "Wait here while I go get the tunic. It's right out front in the car. Here, hold these please." She shoved her roses and shoe back into Sarek's arms and took off around the side of the house. A moment later she came back holding Spock's robe neatly folded in her hands. She gave it to him then took her things back from Sarek. "Thank you again, Selek. I had thought I'd been abandoned. You were a great comfort."

Spock shook his head. "No need to thank me. It was the logical thing to do."

Amanda gave a slight smile. "Another follower of Surak? In that case, and I hope I'm quoting this correctly, 'Shiyau thol'es k'thorai ri k'ahm (Nobility lies in action not in name)'."

Spock nodded to her. "That is correct, and most kind. However, I think an Earth philosophy would be more fitting, 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you'."

Amanda laughed and said, "Where did you learn about 'The Golden Rule'?"

Spock allowed himself a slight smile. He was enjoying the light bantering that had always been a part of his relationship with his mother; although usually it was he who quoted Surak and Amanda who rejoined with an Earth saying. "Would you believe me if I said my mother taught me?"

Amanda laughed again, but Sarek, who was apparently not amused, responded darkly with, "No, I would not."

There was a rather lengthy and awkward pause in which no one could find anything to say. Finally Amanda broke the silence when she mumbled, "I'd better get these in some water." She then went up the stairs and into the house.

Spock watched her go, then turned to find himself caught in the path of Sarek's dark, steel cold glare. Spock could think of no offense he had committed to anger him so. The only time he had seen Sarek look at him with such an expression was when he had left for Star Fleet Academy against his wishes.

Sarek started partway up the stairs, then turned back to Spock. "You do seem to have a lot of experience with Terran customs. Why is that?"

Spock thought carefully for an answer that would not raise Sarek's anger nor his suspicions any more than they were. "Was it not Surak himself who said that wide experience increases wisdom?"

Sarek continued to glare at Spock. "It was, but I think you missed his point with your incomplete quotation." He cast a quick glance at Kirk and McCoy then looked back at Spock, and spoke in Vulcan. "Eik-veshtaya to'ovau-lu veshtaya ri glazhau goh na'kastorilaya t'kashan." Without waiting for a response he went into the house.

Spock turned to Kirk and McCoy, his expression puzzled. "I do not understand his reference."

"What did he say just now?" Kirk asked.

"He quoted Surak, the same quote I had begun. 'Wide experience increases wisdom, provided the experience is not sought purely for the stimulation of sensation.' I do not understand its relevance to the situation, nor do I understand his apparent anger over it."

McCoy began to laugh and Kirk smiled. "Don't you? He's not angry with you, Spock, he's jealous of you," Kirk told him.

"Yeah, Spock," McCoy joined in, "I mean what were you doing back there anyway?"

"Gentlemen, I was not doing anything. You must be mistaken." Spock folded his hands across his ribs. "Amanda and I were merely teasing each other the way we always have. Sarek never objected before."

"Jesus, Spock, don't you get it?" Kirk was amazed at how obtuse Spock could be on certain subjects. "Before, it was Sarek's wife and son teasing each other. But here you're Selek, remember? All he sees now is the woman he wants and another man acting way too cozy with her."

McCoy put a hand on Spock's shoulder. "Get it now? Sarek thinks you're moving in on his turf, that you're his competition."

Spock looked slowly from McCoy back to Kirk. "I see. In that case, I will have to remind myself to act more formal towards her. I do not want to send Sarek the wrong message."

Kirk shook his head negatively. "Actually, Spock, this may be just what Sarek needs to get things moving. Sometimes a challenge can be good for a man." He grimaced and rubbed his chest. "When it doesn't involve a lirpa, that is." He smiled at Spock, lest he become offended at the reference to his own kal-i-fee.

Spock just raised an eyebrow and murmured, "Indeed."


The back door led Sarek into Amanda's living room. She was not there, but he did find a decanter of brandy and one glass sitting on the coffee table. There was also music playing softly in the room. Sarek recognized it was a piece from one of Amanda's favorite instrumental discs. She often played it when he was here.

Sarek took a few moments to straighten up the room, a natural habit of his that always drove Amanda crazy because she herself never picked anything up. He put away the brandy and turned off the music, while he attempted to understand and then control the emotions he was experiencing. The bottle of brandy was one-third of the way empty, but Sarek remembered that last night, when Amanda had offered him some, it had been full. Amanda ordinarily did not consume large amounts of alcohol, so he took this as a sign of how badly she was affected by tonight's events. This increased the agitation that had come upon him outside. No, agitation wasn't quite right. He was angry, but it was more than just anger. Sarek could not recall having this particular feeling before, so he was unsure about how to identify it, or how he should cope with it.

He was angry at Selek for his behavior tonight. While Sarek could think of no one thing that was offensive, it seemed to him that Selek's attitude and behavior towards Amanda was entirely inappropriate. He was agitated with Amanda because of the way she acted over Selek's supposed rescue. After all, he didn't actually do anything, just found her first. Someone else would have been there shortly anyway, but she acted as though he single-handedly took on the Klingon Empire to protect her. And, he was upset at himself, because he wasn't the one who had found her first. He wasn't even out there trying. He had wanted to be, but he had a duty to protect himself so he could serve his planet and his people. He felt as though he had failed her. Worse yet, it appeared to him that she also felt he had.

Sarek found Amanda in the kitchen filling a vase for her roses. She looked up when he walked in. "These really are beautiful, Sarek. Roses are my favorite."

He watched her as she prepared the flowers. "I am aware of that. That is why I chose them." Sarek took a deep breath as he prepared to talk with her about what had happened at the embassy tonight. "You said that you felt abandoned tonight, but you were not." She stopped cutting the stems and gave all her attention to what he had to say. "When his attempt to kill me did not succeed, all he wanted was to escape and he was using you to do that. Therefore the logical thing to do was to allow him to leave, then he would no longer need you and would have no reason to harm you. But we did not abandon you. The proper authorities had been notified of the situation and were looking for you, before you ever left the embassy. You know that we could not kill him when there was another option. That is not our way."

Amanda looked at him with a bitter-sweet smile on her face. "Ri klau au ik klau tu. Nufau au sochya -- yi dungi ma tu sochya (Do no harm to those that harm you. Offer them peace, then you will have peace). Is that what you're saying, Sarek?" She let out a deep sigh. "Don't worry, I do understand, up here," she tapped her temple with a forefinger, "but right now I'm still too shook up to think logically."

"I just wanted you to know. I did not want you to feel..." Sarek paused as he tried to find the right word. "...I am uncertain of the correct word ... offended perhaps? Or betrayed? I would never intentionally allow you to be hurt, Amanda, by anyone." He was not just talking about the kidnapping and he hoped Amanda understood. Sarek then heard Selek and the two Humans come into the house and someone set the instrumental disc to play again.

He saw Amanda's eyes glisten and swell with tears, but she turned her back to him before they fell. "It's okay, Sarek," Amanda murmured. "There is no offense where none is taken."

Sarek rolled his eyes in irritation. "Amanda, this obsession you have tonight for quoting Surak is ... could be considered quite annoying, to some people." Amanda snorted with laughter. He had never spoken to her like that before, but instead of feeling rebuked, she was amused.

"My, but aren't you a bit testy tonight." She turned back to face him and a single leftover tear escaped down her cheek. Sarek gently wiped it away. "Don't you like exchanging quotes anymore? Selek certainly seemed to enjoy it." Amanda didn't notice the change in Sarek's expression. "And I haven't even gotten to your favorite one yet. Let me see, I think it goes something like, 'Logic is the cement of our civilization with--"

She was cut off when Sarek quickly reached out and cupped both sides of her face, then bent down to give her a lingering kiss. When it was over, both were slightly out of breath.

"I think I prefer this to exchanging quotes," he whispered against her lips. He became aware of the sound of a waltz playing in the living room. "I believe you still owe me a dance, Miss Grayson."

Amanda pulled back so she could look in his eyes. "I'm hardly dressed appropriately for a waltz, Mr. Ambassador."

Without taking his eyes off hers, he responded, "I had not noticed, Amanda."

She grabbed Sarek's hands and put them around her waist then slid her hands up his arms and clasped them around his neck. They began to dance.

* * *

This was not how Sarek had been taught to dance, but he enjoyed the feel of her in his arms, with her head resting on his shoulder. Amanda's fingers began to comb through the back of his hair and brushed against the edge of his ears, causing a delicious tingling sensation to travel down his body. He pulled her closer, the dance steps all but forgotten now. They just moved about in a lazy circle.

Amanda moved slightly to pepper tiny kisses along the base of Sarek's neck and pressed herself against him suggestively. He cupped her ass and pulled her groin tightly against his so she could feel his arousal.

She pulled him down for a deep kiss and Sarek was instantly flooded by a wave of new thoughts and sensations. There was no question this time, this was definitely Amanda. He found her mind to be very chaotic and confusing and, while he suspected that this was so for all Terrans since they did not know Vulcan control techniques, it was still unsettling.

Without breaking the kiss, he moved her up against the counter for support and settled his fingers against her meld points. He was unsure whether Amanda truly didn't object to the touch this time, or perhaps she didn't even notice, but she allowed the contact. He made a mental note to himself to begin teaching her mind control as soon as possible while he gently projected his mind into hers to help her focus only on those thoughts and feelings significant to their current activity. He was pleasantly surprised by how easily she accomplished it.

I want you now, Sarek. Just for tonight, I won't ask for anything more from you. He heard both her voice and her mind speak.

He had seen her thoughts and understood her feelings for him because they mirrored his own, so he knew that 'just for tonight' would never be enough for either of them. He was dismayed that she did not also sense this, because that meant that she must not be able to sense him. A deeper link was needed. He wanted to bond with her, at least try to anyway. He could settle for no less, but that was not something he would do without her expressed consent. Once she became his bond-mate, nothing but death would separate their minds again.

Despite her protest, Sarek pulled himself away from her so they could talk. "Amanda, I want this also, but I want to show you how much I do." Amanda smiled, grabbed his hand and led him down the hall to her bedroom.

* * *

He allowed her to remove his robes, but stopped her when she began to pull off his shirt. "Amanda, wait. This is not what I meant, not yet." She had begun kissing him again and Sarek realized that he was powerless to resist her, so he gently pushed her onto the bed and settled himself beside her. When he again had some control over his body he tried again. "Amanda, I want to touch you, to share myself with you, all of myself." He looked into her eyes for a sign of understanding.

Amanda smiled warmly at him. "That's what I want too, Sarek."

He smiled back at her. "Good. Then touch my mind, as I will touch yours." He reached to place his fingers at the proper positions, but just like last night, she grabbed his hand to stop him.

"Sarek, I can't," she whispered to him.

Sarek's blood turned to ice at her rejection. He sat up. "You do not want me? Did I misunderstand?"

Amanda sat up also and placed a palm against his face to make him look at her. "Sarek, I do want you. I want you in my bed, and in my life, but not inside my head."

Hurt and anger swelled up inside him and he made no attempt to hide it. "Forgive me, madam, but I do not indulge in casual dalliances. I can not be with you if you can not be my wife." He stood up and retrieved his robes to prepare to leave.

Amanda was shocked by what she had heard. "I want to be your wife!" Her voice faded to a whisper. "Sarek, I love you. Why does becoming your wife have to involve giving you my mind?"

"Because I am a Vulcan. It is a part of what I am!" Sarek snapped at her.

Amanda's own temper flared and she yelled right back at him. "Well, I am Human! And what you're asking me to give is unfair!"

"I ask no more of you than I am willing to give of myself!" Sarek realized how loud their voices were. He had never been in a yelling match before and could hardly believe he had allowed himself to get so out of control.

Amanda was totally unconcerned with what decibels she reached. "It is unfair! You are a telepath, I am not. I would have no way to shield my mind, to protect myself, to ... to prevent you from reading things I don't want you to know. But you, well, you would have total control over what you do or don't share with me. How could that be fair?"

Sarek forced his voice back to its normal level. "It would not be like that, Amanda. I will teach you to shield, and until then, I would shield for both of us. I would never violate you in that way. But you have to trust me."

Amanda's voice dropped also. "I do trust you, but--"

"Then prove it." Sarek sat back down on the bed and took her hand. "Share yourself with me."

Tears slowly rolled down Amanda's cheeks. "I'm afraid to. What if I can't learn to shield? What if I lose myself in you? Isn't there some other way?"

Sarek watched the path of one of her tears as it rolled down her cheek and past her chin, until it finally dropped onto their hands which were clasped together on Amanda's lap. He looked at the contrast of his hard, dark, greenish hand wrapped around her soft, pale, reddish one. They were so different. The truth was, Sarek didn't actually know if they would be able to form a bond, nor did he know whether Amanda could learn the mind control techniques. What he did know was that Amanda suited him, more so than any woman, of any race, that he had ever met. While he desperately wanted to feel the intimacy that a bonding would allow with Amanda, he knew that marriage to her without it would still be preferable to a marriage to someone unsuitable, even with a bond. His marriage to T'Rea had taught him that a bonding with someone you had nothing in common with left much to be desired.

He gently wiped the tears from her face. "Very well, Amanda. I would like to suggest a compromise." Amanda's eyes lit up and she nodded eagerly. "We will wait on the bonding, for now. Instead, however, I want to perform a mind-meld with you." She started to interrupt but he stopped her with a finger to her lips. "A meld is not permanent and it requires constant contact. Once the contact is broken the link will greatly diminish, then disappear altogether a short time later. This way, we can share the intimacy I desire, but you can keep the individuality that you want."

Amanda took a moment to consider his offer. "Hmmm. Now I see why you are so good at your job. You make it nearly impossible to refuse you. I'm still afraid, but I'm willing to try, Sarek." She smiled then kissed him quickly on the lips.

The corners of Sarek's mouth tugged upwards slightly, then he raised an eyebrow and replied smugly, "'Cast out fear. There is no room for anything else until you cast out fear.' Surak."

Amanda laughed loudly. "Oh, let's not start that again! Actually, I never did get to finish your favorite quote, did I? Let's see--"

Sarek again cupped her face and kissed her. "No, not again. I believe I now have a new favorite among Surak's teachings." He grabbed each of her hands in one of his, and looked deeply into her eyes. "It goes, 'We have differences. May we, together, become greater than the sum of both of us'."

Amanda removed her hands so she could stroke his face and Sarek mimicked the movements. "Oh, Sarek. That's beautiful." She leaned forward to kiss him, then pulled him with her back onto the bed.

* * *

Kirk, Spock, and McCoy were waiting in the living room for Sarek and Amanda to return. The house was quite small and old, so the walls weren't particularly sound proof. Kirk could hear the low murmur of their voices in the kitchen, so Spock must have been able to hear everything, which is probably why he turned the music on.

The three men talked quietly amongst themselves when a short time later they heard voices shouting, from what had to be a bedroom down the hall, even over the music. Kirk and McCoy were surprised, but Spock was shocked. He said he had never heard his parents yell at each other before, at least he had never heard his father yell like that before.

It didn't last long, however, then everything was quiet again. McCoy ventured to say that they had either made up or killed each other. After a while, when they still hadn't heard anything and no one had appeared, Spock turned the music off to listen. He said he could hear their voices and although he couldn't make out the words, it sounded calm enough. The men sat silently, waiting patiently, when suddenly Spock bolted upright in his chair.

"What's wrong?" Kirk asked, now both he and McCoy were at attention.

Spock tilted his head to one side, as though listening for something, then his eyes widened and the tips of his ears turned dark green. "What is that noise?"

At first Kirk and McCoy couldn't hear anything, but then they were able to make out a soft, rhythmic thumping sound. It sounded like someone hitting a nail with a hammer or a headboard banging up against a wall.

McCoy started laughing, "Even you must know what that is!"

Kirk himself actually blushed, he was feeling slightly embarrassed for his friend. "Come on, let's get outta here. I'd say things will work themselves out now."

The three men got up to leave, but then Spock turned back, saying there was something he wanted to do first. He went into the kitchen and got a single rose off the counter. He then came back into the living room and took an old-fashioned sheet of paper and ink pen out of Amanda's desk. He quickly scribbled a note then placed it and the rose on the coffee table. On their way out, Kirk caught a quick glimpse of the message:

Sarek and Amanda--

Of all of Surak's teachings, never forget this one: 'Time is a path from the past to the future and back again. The present is the crossroads of both.'