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) 2002 by Saidicam29. Rated R.

The Spice of Life

Saidicam29 and T'Lea

"We will be arriving at our destination in 10.42 minutes, Ambassador."

Sarek acknowledged his driver with a nod of his head then turned to the woman seated beside him. "I still do not understand the purpose of this trip. You said that you were free to choose your own mate, Amanda."

"I am; they just want to meet you, Sarek. It's sort of a tradition here on Earth." She looked into the steely eyes of her fiancé. "You are about to marry their only daughter. It's only natural that they want to look you over, to see if they approve."

"And what if they do not approve?"

Amanda patted Sarek's arm comfortingly. "They will, don't worry. How could they not love you as much as I do?"

Sarek suppressed the urge to roll his eyes at her emotionalism. He leaned closer as he lowered his voice to prevent Sulkar, his driver, from overhearing their exchange. "Considering the fact that I have been an Ambassador for over 30 years -- many of those served on this planet, encountered tens of thousands of your people, and you are the only one to ever have this sort of affinity for me ... I do not consider the likelihood of that occurring to be very great."

Amanda laughed softly as she began to gather her purse and other personal affects. The aircar had just landed.

* * *

"Alfred Grayson, would you please stop that brooding."

Al looked up from his work at his wife standing in the doorway, hands on her hips in exasperation. "I'm not brooding, I'm grading." He put down the paper he was marking and turned his chair to face his wife. "I just don't get it, Nell. I'm an educated man, as open-minded as the next guy, but I just don't understand why our daughter can't find someone of her own species to marry."

"Well, it could be worse. He could be one of those blue Andorians with the antennas." Nell's smirk dissolved when she noticed her husband didn't share in her good humor. "We don't control who we fall in love with."

"Love? What does Amanda know about love? She's only 20 years old, for chrissake. Mark my words, Nell, if she marries this alien, we'll never see our daughter again."

Nell rolled her eyes at her husband's melodramatic display. He'd been going on like this for weeks now, ever since Amanda called home with the news of their engagement. "In case you're so old you've forgotten, I was only twenty when we got married, too. Now stop this, please; the kids will be here any minute."

"Kids? Kids? Look at this, Nell," Alfred pulled a crumpled piece of paper out of his pocket. "I copied this from a newsvid at the library. I've been checking up on our would-be son-in-law. According to this article, that man is 64 years old! Sixty-four, Nell; we could be his kids! What do you think of that?"

Nell quickly glanced at the photo. "I think he ages very well."


"Honey, look, I'll admit I have certain ... reservations about this situation; but I trust our daughter. Amanda is very intelligent, and mature; and the fact is we can't stop her from marrying this guy, so let's try to make the best of the situation." They heard the front door open and Amanda call out to announce their arrival. Husband and wife looked to each other, silent understanding passing between them. Together they went out to greet their future.

* * *

Sarek stood against the wall, momentarily forgotten, as he watched the reunion between the couple and their daughter. He knew it had been many months since Amanda had seen them, and he welcomed the opportunity to observe these people unaware for a few minutes. Nell Grayson was a slip of a woman, petite like Amanda but without her height. That trait obviously came from her father. As Sarek assessed the male Grayson he pondered that fact that such a huge bear of a man would have chosen a sedentary career as a college professor as opposed to something more manual that he was obviously suited for. Automatically Sarek calculated the differences in their size; the human was only 3.24 inches taller than he was; but whereas Sarek had the typically slender Vulcan build, this man was much larger, outweighing him by at least 50 pounds of lean muscle mass.

Once the initial welcome was over, Sarek felt their eyes turn to him as they waited for Amanda to make the introductions. Nell's were curious, but warm, while Alfred's had a cool dislike evident in their depths. Sarek knew how much Amanda loved and respected her parents, especially her father, and he was beginning to seriously doubt the benefits of this meeting.

"Sarek, this is my mother, Nell," Amanda waited for her mother and Sarek to greet each other.

"It's nice to finally meet you, Ambassador," Nell nodded politely.

Sarek raised his hand in the Vulcan ta'al. "I am honored, T'sai Grayson."

"And this is my father, Alfred." Amanda waited breathlessly for the men's first impressions of each other.

There was a pause as both men waited for the other to make the first move. Alfred finally broke the silence. "It's nice to meet you, Sarek. You don't mind if I just call you Sarek, do you ... considering you want to marry my daughter and all?" He stuck out his hand to shake with the Vulcan.

Amanda's breath caught in her throat. "Dad, Vulcans don't--"

"Of course," Sarek interrupted, "It would seem appropriate. I am honored, Shaile Grayson." Sarek grasped the man's hand firmly, but not painfully, as he had been taught years ago when he was first appointed to the Earth delegation. Unfortunately Amanda's father had apparently not had the same training, for his hand engulfed Sarek's with a force that surely would have been quite painful to another human; but was only a mild discomfort to Sarek's stronger Vulcan bone structure. Making the most of the opportunity that physical contact provided, Sarek allowed his mind to gently brush Alfred's -- not an invasion, but just a lack of the normal shielding he used to prevent encountering other minds. He was gratified not to detect any sense of hatred or bigotry towards offworlders from Alfred, just a deep love and concern for his daughter. With a renewed determination Sarek gave one more firm shake before breaking the contact. He would simply have to reassure this man that his daughter would be in capable, and safe, hands.

"Well, dinner is probably done. I'll just go get everything on the table then we can eat!" Nell moved off towards the kitchen.

Amanda started to follow her mother, but then looked back at her men, who were both still watching each other intently. Deciding perhaps she should stay, she moved to stand beside Sarek again.

Her protective measures did not go unnoticed by her father. "Amanda, why don't you go help your mother? I'll get your bags out of the car."

"Unnecessary, Professor Grayson, my aide will bring them in for us," Sarek automatically supplied. He noticed an unidentifiable expression cross Alfred's face, and he felt Amanda draw in a quick breath. He looked quickly from one to the other, but he could not tell what was causing this particular reaction. He was getting the impression that he had committed an offense, but knew not what it might have been.

Deciding the best method was to retract, he amended his last statement. "Perhaps, I should retrieve the bags myself and send Sulkar back to the embassy now." He glanced at Amanda questioningly.

"Good idea, it is a long trip," she offered, smiling reassuringly.

Sarek nodded his acknowledgment, and gratitude, and ducked back out the front door. He was actually relieved to have a moment alone to collect his thoughts, or he would have been, except Amanda's father soon followed him to the flitter. As soon as Sulkar took Amanda's two bags from the flitter Alfred grabbed them up, leaving Sarek with only his one bag to carry inside. Ignoring Sulkar's questioning look, Sarek gave him a few final instructions then followed the elder Grayson back into the house.

Alfred led him through the living room to the stairway leading to the second floor. As they walked through the living room, Sarek noticed the many photographs lining the walls and shelves. He knew only the basics about Amanda's parents. Her mother was an artist who made her living selling her paintings to local shops. Her father was a professor at the local college, and he devoted his spare time to his farming hobby, where he raised a few horses for pleasure riding in the wooded areas surrounding their home. Sarek knew nothing about farming or horses, so he made a note to study the photographs at his first opportunity. He decided he could use all the help he could get in finding a common ground with Amanda's father. The top floor held only four rooms, two on each side with the doors staggering down the hall. They stopped at the first door which was on the right.

"This is Amanda's room," Al explained as he opened the door and they both walked inside. He placed both of Amanda's bags gently atop the bed.

Sarek absently did the same with his bag as his attention was involuntarily drawn to a mirror sitting on a low dresser beside the window. Attached to the edge of the mirror, across the top and down both sides, was a series of pictures taken of Amanda throughout her lifetime. As Sarek's eyes roamed over the pictures, he saw the angelic little girl Amanda once was turn into the beautiful woman he knew today. Almost without thought, Sarek began to observe the rest of the room. He did not intend any invasion of Amanda's privacy, but he found that his curiosity about his wife-to-be's childhood could not be contained by his Vulcan control. The room was kept in a similar fashion as Amanda's current residence, but in a much more youthful décor. There were large floral prints on the bedding, and the draperies surrounding the bed and the windows. There were also many stuffed toys of different varieties perched throughout the room. As Sarek completed his exploration of his future bride's room, he became aware of her father standing by the door watching him with a solemn expression. Sarek quickly moved back towards the door, displeased that he had once again given this man reason to disapprove of him.

Alfred picked up Sarek's bag and firmly pushed it into the Vulcan's arms. "You will sleep down the hall."

They passed the door on the left and went to the next door on the right. Alfred opened the door but did not go in. "This will be your room. The bathroom is the last door down the hall. That room there--" He pointed to the door on the left that separated Amanda's room from Sarek's bedroom. "--is my room. Just to warn you, this is an old farm house. There's a creak in the floor right in front of my door. It's quite loud, but my wife and I rarely get up in the night, so we should not disturb you with it. I trust that there will be no reason I will be disturbed by it either, right?" He gave Sarek his most menacing look, the one that had sent more than one of Amanda's beaus to look elsewhere.

Sarek looked from the floor in front of Alfred's room, to the bathroom door, and back again. He thought a moment then addressed Amanda's father with a simple question. "What if Amanda should need to use the restroom during the night?"

Alfred felt his right cheek twitch involuntarily, but managed to maintain his stern countenance. "Take your time unpacking. The women will call when dinner is served." He left the Vulcan standing alone in the hallway, watching his back with a puzzled expression.

Dinner had been a somewhat tense affair, but after dessert things really began to take off. The women kept the conversation going at first, until the men finally found a subject both could warm up to ... history. Amanda's father was a history professor at the local college, and like most Vulcans, Sarek had a substantial and detailed knowledge of his people's history. Together they had kept the conversation rolling throughout the entire evening. "Dinner was simply wonderful, Mother. These apple dumplings are just beautiful. I think perhaps you should give me the recipe; it appears that Sarek is rather fond of them, considering he ate three for dessert." Amanda smiled at her fiancé, who barely looked over at the mention of his name, so engrossed he was in the conversation with Amanda's dad.

"Yes, I noticed that." Nell looked at the man in question and lifted the plate in his direction again. "More apples, Sarek?" Sarek dished himself another serving and nodded his thanks without ever halting his dissertation about the role of the High Council in the current Vulcan political system.

Nell winked reassuringly at her daughter. "It's easy enough. Just make up some pie crust, peel and core the apples -- from the bottom, and not completely because you want to stem to stay on the top. Then fill the center with some butter, sugar and cinnamon," She leaned closer to her daughter to speak conspiratorially, "I remembered what you said about the effect of sugar on Vulcans, so I cut back on that and increased the cinnamon."

Amanda whispered back, "I noticed, thank you."

Nell leaned back and resumed her instructions. "Then just wrap the apple in the pastry, add some pastry leaves to make it look fancy, and bake."

"Sounds simple enough." Both women looked at their men, who were now deep into a discussion about the fall of the American two party political system in the late twenty second century.

"Alfred, it's getting late, and didn't you say you wanted to mend the east fence first thing in the morning so you could put the horses out?" Nell hinted to her husband.

"Hmm? Yeah, I'll do it first thing, dear," he interjected then immediately resumed his lecture on American history.

Nell tried again. "Sarek and Amanda had a long trip today. I'm sure they'd appreciate the opportunity to relax some, don't you?"

"It's alright, Mom. This sort of thing is exactly how Sarek does relax." She turned her attention to the men. "However, I am rather tired, so I think I'll head up to bed now."

* * *

Sarek came out of the bathroom and was headed to his bed when he suddenly changed gears and went to Amanda's door instead. He wanted to see her one more time before he settled down to attempt his nightly meditation. He knocked softly on her door and was pleased when Amanda immediately opened up. She was already dressed for bed, wearing a pale blue satin nightgown with matching satin robe. It was perfectly practical, and modest, and yet Sarek found the smooth material looked all too sensual and inviting tonight. He was momentarily caught up with watching how the soft fabric molded to the curves of her breasts and hips.

"Hi there. You didn't end your evening early because of me, did you?" She leaned against the doorjamb nearest Sarek, and her closeness brought her sweet delicate scent to his nose.

"No. Despite my assurances that I do not require sleep, your mother insisted that we postpone the rest of our conversation until tomorrow." 'In the name of Surak, what is she wearing tonight that smells so ... alluring!?!' He couldn't help but to lean a little closer to take a deep breath of her. "I did not wish to displease her," he murmured.

"Things are going rather well I think, don't you? I mean, sure, things were a little awkward in the beginning, but you certainly seemed to relax with them tonight." She gently laid her hand upon his arm, the only physical affection she allowed herself when they weren't completely alone.

Sarek laid his hand over hers, enjoying the sensation of her flesh against his, then he took her hand in both of his. "Indeed, I did feel rather ... comfortable; however, I was greatly distracted all evening."

Amanda watched how his fingers drew a slow pattern across hers, then around the back of her hand, and back to repeat the path. "Oh?"

Their conversation stopped as the sound of footsteps coming up the stairs distracted them. "Oops, sorry, didn't mean to interrupt. I'm just headed to bed, you won't hear another peep out of me, I swear. Good night, you two!" Nell said as she rushed past Amanda's room to her own.

"Good night, Mom," Amanda said without looking away from her fiance.

"Sleep peacefully, T'sai," Sarek responded, also unable to drag his eyes away from his future mate.

"So, you were telling me you were distracted this evening?" she said softly, resuming their earlier mood.

"Indeed I was."

"Well, I hope nothing's wrong. What was it that preoccupied you so?"

Sarek gently took a tuft of her hair from her shoulder and leaned in to take a long satisfying whiff. "The scent of your hair, the feel of your skin," he brushed his fingers down the bridge of her nose, and across her cheek, then down her throat where he paused at the juncture of her chest, feeling her pulse quicken beneath his fingers. He was on fire, and although he knew not why, he did know that Amanda -- despite the fact that they were not yet bondmates -- was the one who could soothe the flames. "Amanda," just one word spoke so much of his need, his desire to join with her.

"Ahem," a male voice cleared itself behind him. "Did you need something, Sarek?" Alfred asked with false innocence.

Sarek quickly withdrew his hand and snapped himself back under control. "No, S'haile. I was just saying good night."

"Oh, me too." Al's smile didn't quite reach his eyes as he stepped in between the Vulcan and his daughter. "Good night, Kitten." He kissed her fondly on the forehead, then stepped back.

"Night, Dad," Amanda said quickly, waiting for her father to leave. Never before had Sarek looked at her with such ... emotion in his eyes. 'Of all the times you want to get close...' Amanda looked over Sarek's shoulder as she realized her father was still standing there. "Good night, Father," she said more loudly, hoping he'd take the hint and leave them alone again.

"Al, come to bed, NOW!" Nell's demanding voice was heard from inside their bedroom.

"I'm coming," Alfred yelled back but didn't immediately comply. "Do you remember which room is yours?" he asked Sarek.

Sarek turned to face him, carefully concealing a mix of anger and amusement at the human's behavior. He heard Amanda's softly whispered "Jesus" and knew that she too was displeased at her father's behavior. Slowly Sarek raised his hand to point at the next door down the hall.

Alfred gaze didn't shift from the Vulcan's eyes, but he nodded slowly to indicate agreement. "All right then, good night, you two." He reluctantly left the couple and entered his own bedroom.

Sarek waited a moment to ensure that they were really alone this time. He could hear Amanda's mother murmur something disapproving and heard Alfred's defensive, "I am being nice to him!" Sarek turned back to Amanda, his ardor somewhat cooled by the untimely interruption. "Perhaps I should bid you good night now."

"I understand," Amanda said sympathetically. "Well then, I guess this is good night?"

"Yes, good night, Amanda." Neither one changed their position in the slightest.

"I suppose it is getting rather late."

"Indeed, you should get some rest."

"Right; okay, then, good night, Sarek."

Sarek nodded then raised his hand to lightly brush two fingers across Amanda's lips. "Sleep well, t'hy'la." Sarek finally began his walk down the hall, looking down at the floorboard outside Amanda's parent's room as it creaked beneath his weight. When he got to his door he looked back at Amanda, who was still watching him from her doorway. She gave a slight wave then went inside closing her door behind her. Sarek looked back at the floor board challengingly, then entered his room as he began to calculate the possibility of getting past Alfred's room without producing a creak. Early the next morning Sarek heard Amanda's parents beginning their day, but he didn't get up to join them. He had not had a restful night at all. Not only had his meditations eluded him all evening, but he found it unconscionable that he would have even considered disrespecting Amanda's parents by being intimate with her in their own home before he was bonded to her. And yet, as he had lain awake on the bed he could not help but to consider all the factors that would be required to complete his computations for circumventing the noisy floorboard.; his footwear, bodyweight, type of wood, age of the house, humidity, and other environmental factors. He quickly realized that he was unable to make any accurate hypothesis, as several of those variables were unknown to him; and yet even that did not prevent him from spending his time extrapolating various possibilities. He simply couldn't fathom what was wrong with him; it was no wonder Amanda's father disliked him; a pubescent human had more control than he'd been exhibiting in the past 24 hours.

After performing his morning ablutions he walked into the kitchen to find Nell washing the breakfast dishes. She smiled warmly at him. "Amanda is still asleep, and Al went out to mend the fence in the east pasture. Do you drink coffee?"

"No, however, if you have any sort of juice or tea, that would be acceptable. If not, then water will be sufficient."

"Sure, have a seat. I'll get you some orange juice." Nell began to bustle around the kitchen as Sarek sat at the table and skimmed through the news. "What would you like for breakfast?"

"Do not trouble yourself, T'sai. I do not require sustenance at this time." Sarek forced himself not to look at the weather forecasts for tonight, then decided perhaps it was only logical to double check the accuracy of his computations from the night before.

"I would prefer it if you'd call me Nell, Sarek. We are going to be family, after all."

"As you wish, Nell." He looked at her questioningly as she placed a tall glass of OJ and a plate of cinnamon toast before him. "This was not necessary."

"Oh, come on," she admonished. "Everyone needs a little breakfast to start the day." She sat down opposite him at the table. "You know, the east pasture isn't hard to find. I bet Al would appreciate a little company this morning, and if I know my daughter, she isn't about to wake up anytime soon."

Sarek considered this as he began to consume the first of the four pieces of toast on his plate. "I do not think S'haile Grayson would appreciate my company."

"Of course he would! He likes you very much, you know."

Sarek considered Al's actions the day before. "I respectfully disagree, T'sai. I do not believe I have made a particularly favorable impression on your husband."

"Oh, yes, you did! Trust me, I've been married to the man for over thirty years -- I know my husband. He likes you very much; however, that doesn't automatically make you suitable for his daughter."

Sarek stopped eating and looked at the woman earnestly. "What would make me suitable for Amanda, in his eyes?"

"Nothing," Nell smiled soothingly. "Amanda is Al's only daughter, and his baby to boot, our youngest. There isn't a man in existence that he would willingly hand her over to. It's a typical paternal reaction here on Earth. Would you like some more toast?"

Sarek looked down, surprised to see he had consumed all four pieces of cinnamon toast. "No, thank you. If this is the typical reaction, then I am amazed that humans manage to marry at all."

Nell laughed as she carried the dishes to the sink. "Well, that's why God made daughters so willful, so they can prevail over their stubborn fathers; and honey, he reached the pinnacle of willful daughters when he made Amanda!"

"Indeed." Sarek considered the benefits of assisting Al with his chores versus staying at the house. He had never performed many menial tasks before, but how difficult could it be to fix a fence? "How far is this eastern pasture?"

"Oh..." Nell faced Sarek as she leaned against the sink to think. "By now he's probably a half an hour away, by foot. You could take a horse if you want though, then it'd only be half that."

Sarek looked at her dubiously; he had never even seen a horse up close. "I believe I will walk." He got up and was almost out the door when Nell's voice called out to him again.

"Sarek, you can't go to the field dressed like that." Sarek looked down at the loose fitting tunic and pants he had on. They were the typical style clothes Vulcans wore for casual occasions. He could see nothing wrong with them. Nell noticed his confusion. "It's just that, those aren't the sort of thing you wear for working around a farm. They'll get dirty, and might tear. In your room you'll find some of Jason's old clothes. They'll fit, I think. You'll want a pair of denim pants, a t-shirt of some kind, and his work boots. Do you think you can find them?"

Sarek knew that Jason was Amanda's older brother, although he had never met him. He was not sanguine about using his clothes, but on the other hand he didn't want to insult Nell by refusing the offer. Nor did he want to appear inept in front of Alfred by meeting him unprepared to assist. "I am honored by your generosity." He bowed slightly to her. "I can find them myself, thank you." He went back up the stairs to try on human apparel for the first time in his life.

* * *

Amanda spoke softly to the chestnut Cleveland Bay mare as she brushed her flank. A shadow cutting across the sunny barn wall caused her to look up. In the open door way stood a tall dark figure. As it approached her she laughed out loud in spite of herself. The sight of Sarek dressed in jeans and a faded blue chambray shirt -- all dusty and dirty from helping out in the fields, was more than she could handle.

"What do you find so amusing?" Sarek asked with a twitch of his lips. He was perfectly well aware of how he must look right now.

"Nothing, nothing at all. You look ... different. All you need now is the hat." She giggled as she came out from the horse's pen and put the brush back on its shelf.

"I refused to wear the hat. You look quite different as well." He took in her tight riding pants, and blouse. It was different than anything he'd seen her wear before, even when they were alone. "Have you been out riding one of your equines?"

"Nope, but I was just about to take Mr. Dillon over there for a walk. I didn't expect you back so soon; Mom said you hadn't been gone more than an hour." She opened another pen that held no animals, just hay. She began to pitch some into the feeders in front of the other horses.

"Actually, I have been gone 1.13 hours." He watched her body's lithe movements, the gentle sway of her hips -- so easily visible in the form-fitting riding pants. It was happening again; his inability to control the path of his thoughts. This was unacceptable! Sarek cleared his throat, which had suddenly gone dry. "Your father had most of the work done before I got there."

Sarek began to run through some hypotheses on what could be causing such a reaction in him. He began to consider everything he had done since arriving at the Grayson house. This would help him narrow down the possibilities as well as distract him from the tiny bead of sweat that was trickling down Amanda's neck and disappearing into the valley between her breasts. He mentally shook himself and focused back on his quandary. He concentrated on his body, taking a quick internal scan of his condition. Something was definitely revving up his system, but not just an excess of energy, but specifically sexual energy. It must have been something he had consumed, but what? He had had nothing unusual to drink last night, nor this morning. All the foods he ate were things he had before: vegetarian lasagna and a plain tossed salad, then baked apples for desert. And this morning was simply toast with some sort of condiment on top. Suddenly inspiration struck as Sarek continued to consider his diet while Amanda fed the horses. The spice that was on his toast this morning ... it was very similar to the taste of the apples he ate last night. "Amanda, what was the spice used on the apples we ate last night?"

"Um ... you mean the cinnamon?" she suggested as she tossed hay to the last animal and came back to finish her discussion with Sarek. She pulled a rag out of her back pocket and began to casually wipe the wetness from her neck and chest, unknowingly distracting Sarek from whatever train of though he had been on. "You know, I bet Starburst would enjoy a walk as well ... care to join us?" She pointed to an Appaloosa mare in the next stall.

Sarek dragged his gaze away from Amanda and eyed the beast warily. "No. However, I do find the prospect of spending time alone with you quite appealing." He brushed some errant hair that had escaped from her bun away from her face.

"Well, it would just be you, me, and the horses. They won't tell any of our secrets. I know a quite, secluded place near a pond where we can be alone," she tempted him.

A flush went through Sarek and suddenly he realized just how unyielding denim really was. "Am I dressed appropriately for riding such a beast?"

"It's not a beast," laughed Amanda, "it's a horse, and she's very gentle." She looked him over appraisingly, but her smile faded as she noticed Sarek's aroused state. When her eyes met his again, she licked her lips tentatively, noticing how his eyes were drawn to the movement. "Actually, you are not dressed appropriately. See, these shirts aren't supposed to be buttoned all the way up the neck." She reached up and began to slowly release the top buttons on his shirt, pushing the fabric apart and rubbing her hands across the exposed skin. "The top two buttons should always be left undone."

"Indeed." He reached up to gently touch the exposed area on her chest, then trailed his fingers down and released another button on her shirt.

"My top two buttons were already undone," Amanda calmly pointed out.

Sarek paused with his hands on the forth button of her blouse. "I know," he murmured then released the next button, giving him room to slide his hands inside and caress her breasts. He was slightly irritated to find his exploration hindered by another thin layer of fabric. "How far is it to the pond?"

"Too far," Amanda replied breathlessly. She grabbed Sarek's wrists, and without moving his hands from her torso, she led him into the hay stall. There she stepped into his arms and pulled him down for a kiss. She turned them around and left him just long enough to close the stall door behind her. When she returned Sarek was eagerly awaiting her, and pulled her close continue his exploration inside her shirt as he returned her kisses hungrily. Amanda quickly worked through the rest of the buttons on his shirt, before reaching down to give the bulge in his pants a quick squeeze.

"Amanda," Sarek sighed, resting his head against hers as he was being carried away by the sensations her touch invoked. A sudden movement by the horse in the next stall drew Sarek's attention back to their surroundings. This was ridiculous; they were in an animal dwelling -- this was hardly an appropriate time or place to consummate their relationship. Sarek moved away slightly to regain his senses, to inject a little logic into the situation, but Amanda took advantage of the new position to suck on his right ear lobe. Suddenly he couldn't remember exactly what his complaint had been. He pulled back on her shirt to expose her shoulder to his questing lips. "Is there someplace we can go to ... continue this?" he murmured against her neck.

"Umm-hmm," Amanda sighed then slid her foot through Sarek's legs and behind his then gave him a hard shove backward.

Sarek, caught completely unaware by her actions, fell back onto the pile of hay. He barely managed to get his bearings in time to catch Amanda as she threw herself down onto him, laughing breathlessly. Enjoying this new aggressiveness, Sarek rolled them over, straddling her as he held her hands to the side and took her lips with his. His hands soon began to wander again, however, and he released her to pursue more pleasurable avenues.

Amanda used her new found freedom to remove Sarek's shirt completely, and enjoy the feel of his alien warmth beneath her hands. When she reached for the fastener on his pants, Sarek moved to lie beside her -- giving her easier access. She unbuttoned the clasp and pulled the sealed fly apart, then looked up to see Sarek had his head back, eyes closed, as he anticipated her touch. Unable to resist a little teasing, Amanda altered her course and softly traced circles around his nipples. "Sarek ... now keep in mind ... that I'm not ... complaining here," she punctuated her words with soft licks and kisses on his chest. "But ... whatever happened ... to Vulcans ... not engaging in ... premarital sex?"

"Where did you hear that?" Sarek asked distractedly as he watched her tongue flick at his flesh.

"From you!" she laughed, playfully pinching his side. "About a thousand times in the past two months, whenever I tried to get you to stay with me instead of returning to the embassy every night."

"One thousand, Amanda? You exaggerate." He rolled onto his back bringing her with him. He picked a few pieces of hay off her hair, then pulled out the fastenings allowing her hair to flow freely over his fingers. "Do you wish to stop?"

"No, I just wish I knew what has come over you the past two days. I'd bottle it up to keep on hand for future uses. Everything is alright with you, isn't it?"

"Other than I find this hay to be rather uncomfortable to lie on, I am fine." He frowned at her slightly. "Are you saying you doubt my ability to keep you satisfied as my wife?"

"Hmmm, let's see..." She slid her hand inside Sarek's jeans to grasp his erect manhood. "No, I think you're well-equipped to keep me satisfied." She began to stroke him gently and reveled in the soft moans it elicited. "Is your back getting itchy? Hay is not meant to lounge in, you know; just for a quick ... roll."

"Indeed," Sarek's eyes widened as he grasped her reference. "Ah, I see ... a roll in the hay. Hmm," he mentally recorded the meaning of this idiom for future reference, "then it would seem we are taking entirely too long to complete this activity." He pushed her over to straddle her legs. He locked his eyes to hers, watching her expression as he slowly unhooked her bra and released her breasts from their confines. He cupped them in his hands, enjoying the way the smooth flesh moved as he squeezed them; the way the nipples grew and darkened at his touch.

He bent down to take one in his mouth, conscious of the way she arched against him, and grabbed the back of his head to hold him against her. He also slowly became conscious of something else; voices, male voices, still in the yard but coming closer. He sat up to listen more closely and pinpoint their distance.

"What's the matter? Why did you stop?"

"Someone is coming." Sarek got up to adjust his trousers as Amanda fixed her blouse. At first Sarek couldn't find his shirt, then saw a part of it peeking out from underneath Amanda. He gently lifted her to his feet than hastily put the garment on as the voices entered the barn.

Alfred and another gentleman, quite a few years older than Amanda's father, by the looks of him, stopped short when they saw the couple in the stall. The two men exchanged a look, then simultaneously Sarek saw Alfred's mouth tighten while the other man broke into a wide grin. "Amanda," Al addressed his daughter tightly. "I didn't realize you were out here. Your mother said you went riding a while ago."

"I did. I was ... uh ... I am, Dad; I was just showing Sarek how to ... feed hay to the horses."

"Looks like he got more of it than the horses did," the stranger chuckled, oblivious to Amanda's furious glare.

Sarek looked down at himself, and realized there was a bit of hay sticking out from beneath the bottom of his shirt. He brushed it off then realized there was more covering his back and head. "It was more difficult than it appeared," he murmured as he cleaned as much of it off as he could, hoping he was doing a better job than Amanda at keeping the color was infusing his face.

The stranger laughed outright then, "Yeah, well, personally I find it easier to pitch the hay in front of me, instead of over my back."

"Jake," Al practically snapped at his companion. "I'll bring that grain over to your place later, alright?"

The man attempted to sober his expression, but didn't quite succeed. "Nah, don't put yourself out any. I'll just grab it ... as I show myself out." He indicated he understood Al's subtle hint to leave. After he walked out of the barn, chuckling the whole way, Al gave Sarek a hard look then left as well.

"He knows," Sarek said certainly.

"It's all right, Sarek."

"He is angry."

"It will pass," Amanda tried to reassure him, but he was not listening.

"No, Amanda, I have insulted the man -- in his own home, in front of his associate."

"That was just Jake. He's been our neighbor since before I was born." Sarek began to tuck in his shirt and make the final adjustments to his clothes he didn't have time to before. "That is irrelevant. I have dishonored your father, I have dishonored myself. My behavior has been inexcusable; I must make amends with him."

"How?" Amanda said helplessly.

Sarek brushed his fingers down her cheek affectionately. "I do not know."

They walked into the kitchen where Nell was standing by the window, using the natural light to put some finishing touches on a painting. She looked up as they entered, but said nothing as she returned to her work. Amanda pulled a small container of juice out of the refrigerator and stood behind her mother as she watched her paint. "Has Dad been in the house recently?" she asked casually.

"Your father? Hmmm," Nell paused to wash her brush. "I suppose the creature that came through here a few minutes ago could have been your father. The way it was mumbling I wasn't sure if it was capable of speech, so I didn't recognize him. Whatever it was, it was in a foul mood." She looked back at her daughter sympathetic to the distressed look on her face. She didn't know what had happened, but she wouldn't ask either. Amanda and Al always worked their differences out by themselves. "He's in the garage now."

Amanda noticed Sarek slip from the room and followed. She caught up to him just outside the entrance to the garage. "Sarek, what are you doing?"

"I am going to speak with your father." They heard a loud bang followed by some cursing from the other side of the door.

"No, let me go talk to him. He's not in the best mood right now, as you can tell."

Sarek considered her words as he listened to the litany softly continuing in the other room. "It is not you he has an issue with, but me. Therefore, it is logical that I am the one to address those issues with him." He saw the uncertainty in her eyes. "Obey me, Amanda," he requested gently. "There is no cause for concern."

"I think I know my own father better than you do," Amanda said, affronted at his words even though his tone seemed caring.

Sarek gently grabbed her upper arms to pull her nearer to him, enabling him to look deeply into her eyes. "Yes, under normal circumstances, I would agree. Please trust me on this, Amanda."

Amanda hesitated, but then sighed in resignation. "Okay then, if you're sure you want to do this. I love you, you know."

"I know. You tell me quite often," he softly ran a finger down the length of her nose, "but reminders are always appreciated."

Amanda grew somber as she left Sarek alone to speak with her father. He had not teased her about her how illogical her love for him was -- a clear indication, she believed, thaat hhe was not as confident about this talk as he appeared.

Sarek allowed the garage door to close noisily, alerting Alfred to his presence. The human was sitting inside a flitter, the dashboard covers removed to expose all the computer components as he attempted to repair some malfunction. Both doors of the flitter were open, so Sarek approached the opposite side to watch him work while he waited for the human to acknowledge him. Al made some more adjustments, then reattached the power supply. "This should do it," he murmured as he flipped the power switch to prepare to start the flitter. He pushed the start button then held very still as he waited for the engine to roar to life; but only silence filled the room. "Son of a..."

Sarek watched as Al angrily disconnected the power supply again, and added several new Terran idioms to memory as he listened to the human curse at the machine. He cleared his throat and took a seat inside the flitter. "I believe I see the problem. If you give me the connection adjuster, I can repair it." He held his hand out to accept the instrument.

Alfred looked at the Vulcan dubiously. "You don't even drive a flitter; what would you know about fixing one?"

Sarek shook his head. "As an ambassador, when I am on assignment it is customary that I be chauffeured wherever I go. However, I assure that when I am home, on Vulcan, that is not the case. In fact, my flitter is one I built myself approximately 34.6 years ago when I was attending the Vulcan Science Academy."

Al handed him the tool. "Thirty four point 6 years ago, huh? I wasn't even old enough to drive 34.6 years ago."

Sarek made some adjustments to the flitter's components saying nothing as he worked. He wasn't sure what the point of Alfred's statement was, so he decided it would be best if he didn't comment. "Try it now."

Al reconnected the power supply and attempted to start the flitter, which hesitantly came to life this time. "Well, at least it starts now."

"Indeed, but I do not believe for long."

Both men exited the flitter as they came to the same conclusion. "I think it's the timing." Al opened the hood and began to tinker with the engine some more. He watched the Vulcan with his peripheral vision. "Look, Sarek, if you came out here to try to convince me that nothing happened out there, then you can just forget it."

"No, sir, I would not come here for that reason. First, it would be a lie to do so, and second ... what did or did not occur earlier is between your daughter and myself only. It is not open for discussion." He watched Amanda's father glance up from his work to look him over considering, then nod as he returned to his work. He suppressed a sigh of relief as he continued. "However, I must apologize for our ... for my ... behavior this morning. It was not my intention to cause you any discomfort, especially in front of your associate. While I am at a loss to explain my behavior the past 48 hours, I assure you that this is not typical behavior for me."

Al waved off his apology, and sighed deeply. "Hell, I'm not worried about that. I realized long ago that my daughter is a very beautiful woman; and her having relationships with men is unavoidable."

"Then I must assume you find me unacceptable as a mate for your daughter. May I ask why?"

Al considered this a moment, then shook his head. "Look, you're probably well aware that I can't stop Amanda from marrying you. Even if I could, I wouldn't. You seem to make her happy, and that is all I care about."

Sarek nodded in agreement. "That is my goal as well, S'haile. I realize you can not prevent our marriage, however, I would much prefer to have your... I believe Amanda referred to it as your blessing. I assure you I am more than capable of providing your daughter with anything she would desire."

Alfred shook his head dismissively. "I am well aware of your accomplishments and success. However, it takes more than material wealth to make a woman happy."

Sarek was at a loss. "I have already told you that I will do whatever it takes to make Amanda happy. What can I do to assure you of that?"

"You're marrying a human, Sarek. Human women are very emotional -- Amanda is very emotional. Are you prepared for that?"

Sarek wondered if he realized how emotional he himself was becoming. He made certain to keep his voice low and completely devoid of inflection. "I am. I have spent a lot of time with your daughter these past few months. I would not have asked her to be my wife if I did not believe we were logically well-suited for one another."

Al tossed down his tool with more force than it warranted. "This isn't a treaty you're negotiating for the Federation, this is a marriage. Do you love my daughter?"

Sarek looked away uncomfortably. "On Vulcan we do not speak of such things. It is not that we do not experience such emotions; however to speak of them, to express them in any manner, is considered a gross lack of control."

"And you want to marry my daughter and take her to live among people who will forbid her to express herself? You will kill her, Sarek; kill the special essence of what makes Amanda, Amanda. Do you understand what I'm talking about?"

Sarek nodded soberly. "I do, and I will not allow that to happen, S'haile. Your daughter is very important to me, more than I am capable of expressing. There are no words in the Vulcan language..."

Al saw the sincerity in Sarek's eyes. "I'm pleased to hear that, Sarek, really. But it's not enough that you have the emotions; Amanda needs to know of your feelings, regularly. Humans have a need to feel loved, it is essential for our happiness."

Sarek continued to stare at the flitter engine. "I am aware of that. She will know, I guarantee it." He spared a glance at Alfred's face and was relieved to see some acceptance there. He wasn't sure if he could bring himself to explain about the intricacies of the bond between Vulcan mates. He hadn't even discussed that with Amanda yet.

Alfred watched him in silence for a few more minutes, then picked up another tool to finish his adjustments to the engine. "And I don't mean showing her in the way you were showing her earlier today." He noticed Sarek look away quickly as his face definitely took on a greenish hue. 'Well, at least he has the decency to be embarrassed about it,' thought Al; then wondered why making Sarek blush felt like some sort of victory for him. "So, Sarek, if that isn't your normal behavior, then what's your problem this weekend?"

Sarek audibly sighed. He had been trying to understand that himself. "I am uncertain, but I have narrowed it down to a few possibilities; the most likely of which would be the cinnamon I have been consuming since I arrived here. I have never had cinnamon before."

"What about cinnamon?" Al asked distractedly.

"Certain products have different effects on Vulcans than on humans, and I have begun to suspect that cinnamon might have some very ... peculiar effects on my people."

"What do you mean by peculiar effects?" Alfred was confused by his vagueness. "Are you feeling ill?"

"No, not ill," Sarek sat back in the car to begin replacing the dashboards over the computer console and to avoid Alfred's gaze.

Alfred stopped his tinkering and looked directly at his daughter's fiancé through the windshield. "Then what?" he demanded.

* * *

"Maybe I should go see how they're doing?" Amanda suggested to her mother as she ripped another napkin to shreds with her fidgeting.

"Maybe you should just sit tight and let them work this out for themselves. Sarek's a big boy, Amanda." Nell placed a bowl of green beans in front of Amanda.

"Not as big as Daddy," Amanda murmured as she began to snap off the ends to prepare the beans for dinner.

"He'll be fine," Nell said firmly; then both ladies turned their head towards the door as the sound of Al's booming laughter could be heard all the way from the garage. Nell patted Amanda's hand reassuringly. "There, see? I told you everything would be fine."

Amanda looked at her mother a moment, then smiled in relief. "Yeah, I guess so." She went back to snapping the beans, wondering what Sarek could possibly have said that would amuse her father so.

"Amanda, could you grab me the cinnamon out of the cupboard, please?"

Amanda got up to retrieve the spice. "Sure, what do you need cinnamon for?"

"Oh, I'm making your father's favorite tonight ... cinnamon rolls." Nell finished rolling out the dough then wiped her hands as she waited for Amanda to bring over the cinnamon. They heard Al again as his laugh vibrated throughout the entire house. "You know, I never realized Vulcans were that damn funny." She took the container from Amanda and sprinkled some cinnamon on each roll to prepare them for baking.

"Neither did I," Amanda said, picking up the container of cinnamon Nell had just put down and sprinkling a little more on each one. She licked a bit of cinnamon off of her finger. "You know I had forgotten how easy these were to make," she said to her mother as she slid the pan into the oven, "maybe I should make them for Sarek's staff at the embassy some time?"

"Oh, I'd bet they'd love them! Sarek certainly seems to." Amanda's mother mopped her forehead. "Come one, let's get out of this hot kitchen for a while." The two women left for the living room where Amanda relaxed completely for the first time in her visit home. It seemed that the two most important men in her life were finally getting along. 'Sarek must be one hell of a diplomat,' she thought as she plopped down next to her mother on the couch and petted the orange tabby cat who was rubbing persistently against her legs. She closed her eyes and enjoyed the smell of cinnamon as it wafted through the house.

The End