It's irrelevant, but the thought that keeps going through her head is that the smells are all wrong. Humans have described the smell of one of their hospitals as sterile, but to Gaila it smells like a mistake in creation. Disinfectants, sweat, blood, a bacteriological orgy and a tiny hint of ozone assault her. It's hardly reassuring.
Sarek must notice her discomfort, the way she keeps itching her nose and drinking Orion herbs that deaden her nerves and darken her green skin. But he says nothing. He continues to focus on the far wall, as evasive as he's been since arriving on Earth two nights ago.
"I'm sorry, sir," says Gaila, taking the vessel, gulping the drink down. It's not enough to fully re-hydrate, to plump her skin back to firmness, but she feels less ill.
"What are you apologizing for when you have done no harm?" For the first time in ten minutes, he rotates his head to look at her, seated next to him in the hospital waiting room. Her stomachs gurgle with flusterment.
She doesn't know what to say to him. Nyota warned her against mentioning the procedure directly, explaining that Vulcans don't talk about their emotional side. In her dry, anthropological language it had seemed reasonable, a small cultural abnormality she could hold herself superior to by being respectful of. In the person, it's unendurable, especially because she is partially responsible. It was not just Spock's decision.
Instead, she apologizes for something different entirely. "I must be unpleasant company under the circumstances. I'm sorry you had to observe this occasion among humans."
"You are not human," he observes.
"Humanity is what brings us together." He nods and returns to staring at the wall. There are paintings on the wall, images of cultural artifacts from across the galaxy. As she watches Sarek, Gaila eventually realizes that he has been focused on one particular image the whole time. A glass circle suspended from a metal pole.
"Is that from Vulcan?" she asks. Gaila could swear he startled, though his body exhibited none of the sudden motion she'd expect from an Orion or human. She bemoans his Vulcan unreadability.
"The painting is by a human, but the instrument is a Dhahq-khaf-spol. It is called a heartsong. " He takes a deep breath and his eyelids flicker just a second. "It is an... encouragement and a warning."
When she visits Spock in his hospital bed, it is dark outside the windows, but the hospital's uniform brightness remains. His head is foggy. His mouth is dry. His right pinky is twitching. He tries to make mental notes of these things to report to Dr. McCoy, who has been taking a perhaps overly salacious interest in the procedure.
Gaila stands at the door. When she sees him, her bright face lightens. She approaches one step at a time. He can sense her hesitation.
"Is it over?" she asks.
He tilts his head upward with some effort to look her in the eye. "I have not yet purged the serum from my system entirely, but I have regained control of my senses. Where is Sarek?"
She sniffs at him.
"In standard, please?" Exhausted, his head collapses back onto the pillow. His skin is nearly translucent and he looks extremely weak, but she supposes it could have been worse.
"He left to get something to eat. How's Nyota?"
"She is next door. She will be fine." The room goes quiet, except for the periodic beep of a heart rate monitor. Gaila lets it hang for a moment. They take in the scene together.
"Your father is still unhappy, I think."
Spock rolls his head away from her on the pillow. The beeping is again the only sound in the room. She waits him out. Eventually, he turns back to her.
"We can talk about this later." She nods and turns around to leave the room. At the doorway she peeks back and sees he is already asleep.
Nyota emerges from her room hours later in a hospital gown that does an excellent job of unflattering her curves. It rides softly on top of her body, chafes softly against sore thighs and stiff calves. The wall chronometer tells her it's only been a day since she entered the hospital. She is worn out, her body and mind overtaxed by the emotional and physical passion of the past day, but all of the medical sensors report that both she and Spock remain within nominal condition for their species.
When she sees Gaila slumped over on a chair in the waiting room, she brightens. Sarek is next to her, sitting dead straight, looking straight at her, though once his eyes drift over to the far wall for a moment.
He stands to greet her and Gaila, sensing the motion, starts awake. She jumps up and runs over to hug Nyota, who smells like urine and sweat and laundered hospital sheets.
Then Gaila swipes her chin across Nyota's cheeks, and Nyota can feel the pheromone spray wash across her face, which means that Gaila just pumped out a ridiculous level. "Hey! Why—?"
"You're naked," says Gaila repressively. "Completely unmarked. And you!" Nyota turns around and sees Spock in the doorway. He's wearing a hospital gown like hers, draping loose over his skinny bones.
"Come here," says Gaila, and she drinks a deep breath in, drawing air over tongue and teeth and an extremely sensitive chemical perceiving organ with no parallel in human or Vulcan anatomy. "You're just as bad. Come. Here."
Nyota interposes, shifting to stand once more between Spock and Gaila. "Are you sure? There won't be any complications with the serum?" Gaila pauses for a second, thwarted, but Spock's crisp voice clears the impasse.
"Dr. McCoy has assured me that once the Vulcan hormonal overload has cleared the system, there will be no further complications. Gaila is quite safe in performing her ritual."
Spock bends his head to let Gaila reach his cheeks for marking as well. Then Sarek makes a noise which Nyota doesn't understand, and she looks at him. He looks exactly like Spock does when the Captain holds off from interposing in one of Spock and Dr. McCoy's sparring matches. "Sir?" she asks.
The silence stretches out while he formulates a question. His face shows nothing, but Nyota imagines he's trying to ask one that'll tell him what he wants to know without referencing emotions, pon farr, or pheromone marking. "S'chn T'gai Spock, how many daughters have you brought this house?"
"That has yet to be determined," says Spock.
Sarek's expression becomes chillier and more remote. "What issues remain to be resolved?"
"If a Vulcan doesn't suffer the rigors of Vulcan ritual, can he still bring new daughters into a Vulcan house?" Nyota admires the detached circumlocution of hypothetical, but Sarek appears to be taken aback nonetheless by the question. She catches a glimpse of Gaila out of the corner of her eye, seemingly urging Spock toward a confrontation with her body language. She frowns at her, but Gaila's expression doesn't change.
Sarek speaks slowly and carefully. Every word hangs in the air for a moment like hot breath on a winter day. "As long as a Vulcan calls himself Vulcan, the council will welcome his partners into the Vulcan nation." This last moment hangs an especially long time as Sarek seems to gather himself together. "We... I haven't always been sure if you do."
Spock answers in a low voice, so quietly Gaila has to strain to hear. "Then I think you have two new daughters."