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Many Voices Speaking As One

Chapter Text

For just a moment, she was able to let go of the grief that had led her back, and of the anger that had kept her away.

She had missed the smell of the air.

Seattle was rainy and green and comfortable (like sliding under a favorite blanket on a cool afternoon) but it was never going to smell like warm salt, like an atmosphere constantly threatening heat lightning (like home, even after all this time, as much as the thought rankled).

She did not recognize the man waiting at the end of the shuttle gangway, though he was already directing the slightest bow of the head in deference to her.

“The ambassador sends his apologies that he could not greet you in person, t’sai. He felt it most appropriate to remain with the lady T’Pau this morning. I was asked to escort you anywhere you might wish to go before the ceremony.”

Ceremony. Not funeral. It was an interesting choice of words, though she did not pass comment on it.

She could not blame Sarek for not coming himself. She had not particularly wanted to be there to begin with.

“Thank you, but that won’t be necessary. I would rather just be getting on.”

Another barely-there bow.

“Of course.”


Having departed from her escort on the flitter pad, Amanda entered the temple’s antechamber alone.

At first glance, most of the people gathered were at least familiar, extended family (unclear though the exact manner of relation was in some cases), but not all.  There were more than a few people that Amanda assumed to be Skon’s colleagues, peers… friends, insofar as a Vulcan would consider them.
For so private a people, their funerary rites were incredibly public.

She moved through the room, nodding gently at the closer relatives who caught her eye, making her way toward the gently sloping stairway that led to the ceremonial hall.

The most immediate family would be gathered there, at the base of the steps, waiting for the signal from the priestesses.

“Here you are, after all,” T’Pau said, emerging from somewhere to her left, taking her by slight surprise.

Amanda bowed, hands steepled at her forehead - a gesture of respect reserved for clan elders. It was genuine, natural to her even now. If she could not give a hug to comfort, she could at least convey deference with something more than a simple ta’al.

“S'ti th'laktra, oko-mekh. Skon was always kind to me.”

The critical gaze might have been more difficult to endure if Amanda hadn't long since realized that T’Pau regarded everyone that way.

It was a strange comfort, to still be worthy of critique after her time away.

“My son never did understand Sarek choosing you, but he did occasionally speak of his respect for you. It is ironic… perhaps even arbitrary.”

Though T’Pau’s direct manner did not come as a shock, the sentiment did - and in so public a place. T’Pau glanced back, back toward the stairway, and Amanda followed her gaze: Sarek (thankfully engaged in a conversation, paying her no obvious mind), a few others she did not immediately recognize, and - to Amanda’s surprise - Silek.

She looked back to T’Pau, hoping that her expression was enough of a question on its own. T’Pau shook her head gently as she answered, tone as seemingly-impassive as ever.

“I have been contemplating how it is we can so value the great diversity of life while so readily abandoning each other over choosing to embrace it.”

Before Amanda could respond, a woman in dark blue robes - a young initiate to T’Pau’s order - approached, leaning in to whisper something to the matriarch. T’Pau nodded, and turned back to Amanda.

“They are ready to begin. I hope that we will be able to speak again before you leave.”

“As do I,” Amanda agreed.

It was not necessarily a lie.


Sarek did not try to speak to her as they entered the inner hall, as she took her place next to him. Nor did her try to touch her, none of the old little hidden sidelong caresses they had played at in public spaces.

She had no sense of him through their bond, either - perhaps their time apart had dulled that connection, or perhaps he was simply more closed-off than usual.
She did not care to wonder, at the moment.

It was in fact a profound relief.

It was a relief to be able to focus on the ceremony, on the music, on the cadence of the funerary poems, on the strange calm of it all.
It was a relief from the anxiety that had gripped her all the way from the Tacoma spaceport.

She wondered briefly, as the ceremony stretched on, about the nature of katra.

Was it perhaps to do with humans’ generally low psi tendencies that souls only existed as a function of myth and not as a practical reality of daily life? Had she not, after all, experienced the reality of that very life force within herself through bonding with Sarek?
She wondered if Spock and Michael might someday try to honor that part of her - soul, katra, whatever it was - in such a manner.
She wondered, with something of a stab, if that meant that she still thought of herself as living out her days in this desert.

She shoved that thought back down from where it had come, refocusing herself on the chanting song, on the movement of the priests preparing the body.

But again her thoughts wandered, gradually - Sarek would almost as surely outlive her as would Spock, as would Michael… as would Sybok, to whom she’d never truly managed to be a mother, but whose company she had always valued.

She wondered if instead they might all find themselves back on Earth after her own passing, might perhaps sit shiva for her. She wondered (and kept herself from laughing) at the thought of her husband and their son rending their clothing for her, in some strange, precise, exacting way, with their stoic expressions.

She wondered at the thought of having to do this for - any of them, actually. At the thought of any of those headstrong children getting themselves into worse trouble than usual. At the number of times Sarek had already been in near-misses over the course of their marriage.
She wondered at the mere possibility that she might someday set foot in their house at the edge of Shi’Kar completely alone.

She was ready to get back to Seattle.


They filed out of the hall slowly, the crowd of invited guests dispersing before the family did.

She caught Silek’s gaze for just a moment, and she nodded to him slowly - a gesture that he returned, though he turned to speak with a cousin as they crossed into the antechamber.

She was ready to leave, to make as clean an exit as possible.

If she kept a good pace, she might be able to catch the next transport; if not directly back to Earth, simply… away.

“If you wish, you might join me for dinner.”

If she’d had a thinner skin, those words might have cut her to the quick. If being here hadn't been reopening her anger little by little, it might have been enough to make her finally cry.

Sarek’s voice was as deep and even as ever, but there was something so impersonal in his phrasing - something that made him sound as though he were addressing a counterpart during diplomatic talks.

Am I such a stranger to him now?, she wondered, but it was… once again something of a relief.
Better that he treat her as a stranger than to assume familiarity, all things considered. Better that he choose that form of civility.

Amanda kept herself from clenching her hands and turned carefully, trying to school her face into a mask of Vulcan calm that she had never really managed.

His own expression betrayed nothing. (Had she hoped that it might? She wasn’t sure.)

“You came all this way. It would be remiss to let you leave hungry,” he elaborated.

It would have been so easy to turn on her heel, to leave him there without a word, even now.
She would not - but neither would she speak, lest the remains of her anger come spilling out in such a public place.
She would not so embarrass them both, and when all was said and done, this day had absolutely nothing to do with her.

Instead, she gave a curt nod and fell into step with him out of the room and down the corridor toward the platforms where the public flitters were waiting.


He did not try to speak to her again in the time it took for them to make the little jaunt to the house, though she could swear she felt the blurred edge of something through the bond, just for an instant, as the cab went airborne.

If this were a novel, or maybe a pre-war film, that feeling might have made her glance over. She might have taken in the way his profile caught the afternoon light. She might have wondered at how it softened him, ever so slightly. They might have brushed their hands together on the seat between them. 
In that kind of story, she would have been able to ignore the way that she wanted to climb out of her own skin.

But this was not a novel, not some old movie, and she was not about to indulge the notion that the next hour of her life was going to be anything more than an awkward nod to civility for the sake of appearances.

Instead, she kept her gaze fixed resolutely to the passing scenery - watching the familiar buildings and the wide boulevards begin to peter gently away to the great rocky expanse of desert beyond the city.

She uttered a quiet ‘thank you’ to the operator as they landed, and stepped out of the cab without so much as glancing back to see if Sarek had followed.


She was running a fingertip along the spines of the books on the long shelf in the sitting room, volumes that now took up the space where her small sculpture collection used to sit.

This was another kind of strange relief - relief that he had not left those spaces empty for her sake, in the hopes that she would return to fill them.
He had at least taken her word on that.

“It was unexpected when T’Pau told me that you’d accepted her invitation. I had assumed you would not want to come.”

She glanced over her shoulder, noting that he’d done away with the heavy outer robes he’d worn out for the ceremony, and was now in simpler daywear. For possibly the first time since she’d known him, she felt overdressed in comparison.
She ignored the resulting urge to start drawing the complex network of pins and jewels out of her hair, to rub her scalp and relax.

After all, this was no longer her home. This was a space in which she was merely a guest.

“Well, I had it on good authority that it was important for me to be here,” she finally said, turning fully to face him once again.

“If she was harsh with you-”

Amanda shook her head.

“No. She invited me, but it was our son who convinced me to come.”

The subtle shift in Sarek’s expression was worth everything.


“Yes,” she nodded, stepping slowly over to one of the wide cushioned chairs to sit. “It was important to him. He seems to… well. He thinks that he shouldn’t be an impediment to our happiness, as though that’s the -”

She did not want this to become a fight, on this day of all days, but neither was she going to back off.

She took a deep breath, glancing back up at where Sarek still stood.

“It’s not just about how you treated him. It’s… it’s how you treated all of us. You do know that, right?”

“I do,” he said, finally taking the chair across from hers. He regarded her for a moment, and again she had the feeling that she was nothing more than a visiting dignitary in a negotiation. Perhaps that was easiest for him.

He continued, “You expressed the most distaste with the fact that you had not been consulted about Michael being passed over for the Expeditionary Group in favor of Spock. I maintain that I did what was most logical under the circumstances, even if you do not consider it fair. However, I find your accusations correct. I neglected your right to voice an opinion on the matter, and so you have a right to your anger.”

Amanda slid her hand against the fabric of the arm rest for a moment, mulling that over.
Whatever she’d been expecting, it was not that. She swallowed heavily, found that she could not meet his eyes.

“If Spock hadn’t gone to Starfleet - if I were just angry that you’d gambled with their futures and disrespected them both - would I still have a right to my anger?”

“Yes,” he finally said, tone almost gentle now. “At times I do not understand the way that you feel about things, but you have a right to those feelings. Our logic is not always the same, and I may not always agree with yours, but you have a right to it. You are - human, and I knew that when we married.”

If this were a story, it might have broken her heart. It might have pulled down the walls of her anger to hear him admit even that much. 
But this was, still, not a story.
Her words came out barely above a whisper, tempered somewhat by her attempt to remain calm through this.

“Fine. But it still doesn’t follow that Spock should suffer for having his own plans, and not choosing to live as some kind of an experiment.”

She could hear the ticker-ticker of the stove in the kitchen in the silence.

“Even if I could argue the past into a different shape, there is still the question of my life being a matter of public scrutiny here. I already had to disavow one son for outright heresy. Or do you object to that, as well?”

“No,” Amanda allowed. “No, Sybok was deliberately provoking you, and he made his choices there as much as you did. Spock was never trying to do that. He’s stubborn, but not malicious.”

“You imagine that I was acting maliciously?” Sarek offered, and she finally met his gaze again.

“I don't have to! You lashed out because you felt humiliated, and you know it. Instead of admitting your lie, suddenly he was a disgrace for not simply obeying?”

And then it was Sarek who could not meet her gaze, who swallowed heavily before he even brought himself to respond.

“I have made a number of grievous errors that I cannot now find ways to mend. Chiefest among them is the betrayal of trust.” He drew himself up, eyes meeting hers again. “And yet you say that Spock is the one who convinced you to come.”

Amanda nodded slowly. There was another indistinct sliver that danced along their bond, and she nearly let herself open to it before she pushed it away.

“Then do not forgive me,” he suggested.

Her laugh tore free before she could stop it, and she felt her face turn red in shock at herself.

There was a ding from the kitchen in the silence that followed.

His logic was elegant in its simplicity, she would give him that much. Acknowledge the hurt and move on, in any direction.

She stood at last, crossed to him, kept her hands at her sides. The urge to reach out was too profound, to clasp a hand on his shoulder or even to draw him to her, to give comfort. She had no wish to confuse him, to confuse her point. “I grieve with thee, and profoundly so. I wouldn’t be here otherwise, but it is why I’m here. You can't ask more than that. Not today.”

He shook his head.

“No. I am not so naive as that.”

“Good. Now, let’s eat.”


She had commed ahead, asked that the travel case she’d put into storage be moved to shuttle back to Earth.

She allowed Sarek to ride along with her to the spaceport, their silence at least less fraught than before if not specifically companionable.

The gangway toward the loading area was nearly empty, affording them some semblance of privacy if they kept their voices low enough.

“I, uhm - will you tell T’Pau that I regret not staying longer? I know that she wanted to talk to me.”

“Most assuredly,” he nodded. “If it would not be an imposition, I would pose a question in return.”

“You may ask,” she allowed carefully.

“With all respect, might you consider how we should proceed from this point, in regards to our bond?”

She wished for something, some flicker of an expression through his features.

It had, after all, been nearly a year. He had given her the space she had asked for. He had let her be. If she really wanted to stay away, what harm was there in finally making a choice?

“I will… consider it. When will you be back to Earth?” she asked.

“Two weeks is the customary grieving leave. I may return sooner, if I am truly needed.”

Amanda nodded slowly.

“Give me three. Is that agreeable?”

“Three it is. May the way be smooth and your journey safe,” Sarek said, with a simple bowing of the head. He held his hand out, offering the ozh’esta.

Fighting through her hesitation, Amanda responded in kind - what harm was there?

His skin was warm, smooth, only vaguely calloused at the spot where she knew he held PADDs and styluses, where he occasionally held the pick for a lute.
If it was longing that she felt, at that, it was a longing she could ignore.

There was a glimmering-something through their bond, wavering and slow. She did not push back against it this time, though Sarek did not push it further.
It was a slice of something comforting, and she was able to acknowledge that feeling without it sticking in her throat.

“Three weeks,” she whispered, pulling away. “We will speak then.”

Chapter Text

She had not spoken aloud to anyone since Vulcan.

She had remained in her cabin for the entire trip back to Earth, barefoot with her hair down, taking her meals from the tiny replicator unit and burying herself in an unfinished project. (Or three. Or six, with annotation on a seventh.)

And that had been fine, if unusual. She was an intensely social person, and long trips were wonderful for striking up conversations with fellow passengers.
It was fine, this time, but it meant that she’d avoided the problem at hand for four days.

And yet somehow, the little studio was too much to handle. She’d spent almost a week alone, and even in comparison this space felt too incredibly empty.

For twelve entire seconds she stood breathing in the silent darkness, looking at her plants on the window ledge silhouetted by the streetlamp outside.

It was almost a strange compulsion, the slightly robotic way that she sat her case neatly next to the front closet, retrieved a jacket, and walked directly back out into the night.

The sky was drizzling down slightly, the coolness of autumn already looming at the tail-end of August.

She let her feet carry her on and on, let herself wander until she felt sore, until she knew that she’d be feeling the ache in her arches for the next few days.

It was more than an hour before she finally ducked into a transpo stop to wait under the little overhang for the next bus to come rolling around, and she pulled her comm from her pocket.

Normally, she would have sent a message to her mother as soon as the shuttle had departed Vulcan, but she’d found herself simply staring at the input field on her PADD. What was she supposed to say? That the free money was tasteful and her marriage might be over?

But she was back now, and had to say something.

Got home safe. I’ll call soon. Please send dad my love.

It was late enough - early enough - something enough - that she didn’t expect a reply for hours.
And yet the device gave a little chirp, the readout flashing up a message:

we were starting to wonder. love you, button.

Amanda stared at that, wondering what her mother could possibly be doing awake at this hour, worried suddenly that she’d woken her.
She considered pulling up the voice widget, considered letting all of her pent-up confusion come pouring out on a rainy sidewalk, until the guidelights of the approaching bus came up in the distance.

This was not a conversation she cared to have where others could hear.


The other half of the bed was empty. Had he left early again, or -

It took a moment, blinking awake to the sound of her alarm, for her to realize, to jolt straight up to sitting.

It had been months, months since she’d done anything but relish having a whole mattress to herself.
She’d never even shared this particular mattress with Sarek, so why had she expected -

Shutting off the beeping, she considered the strength of coffee to replicate, considered if she just wanted to work from home that morning.


(Had she been dreaming about him? Had they been dreaming about each other? That sort of thing required something on the order of planetary proximity. She’d only been back for three days - unless he’d followed right on her heels, she couldn’t imagine that he was back yet.)

She fixed her hair into a smooth bun, dressed herself in plain, straight black trousers and a boatnecked blouse, some simple flats, put on a lined anorak against the burgeoning cold, and shuffled herself out to the transpo stop at the bottom of the hill.

(Did she want to dream of him? Did she want to wake up next to him ever again? Did she want to go and put her little sculptures back on the living room shelf in Shi’Kar? Did she want to work towards warmth with him again? Did she want - did she want?)

Her canister mug of coffee was almost empty by the time the bus ambled its way along Lake Union. She could see the Archives building coming up along the road.

(Was she only dreaming of him - maybe dreaming of him - because of those few hours they’d spent together? Was this simply something within her craving familiarity?)

She stepped back into the cool morning, made her way across the plaza toward a side entrance to the museum, to the doorway down into the vaults - there would be time for all of this fretting later.


She worked, worked, actually worked through lunch, reading as she ate, combing through two translations that a colleague at a satellite location had been working on.

She was logging her notes when there was a polite, gentle tapping against the open doorframe to the office.

Gavriela was one of the tallest human women Amanda had ever met, imposing at first glance, but her expression was one that always suggested that she contemplating some kind of horrible joke. (Usually, she was. Her puns were unsurpassed in almost any language.)

“Now, normally I’d be concerned if someone came back from a funeral with almost a month’s worth of work done.”

Ever to-the-point, no dithering. It had been the same way when she’d been Amanda’s linguistic anthropology professor, the same again when Amanda had herself started teaching and they had become friends.
Amanda cleared her screen, sat up a little straighter, and shrugged as she considered that.

“All I had was time on my way back. Dwelling on everything honestly would’ve made it worse.”

Glancing over her shoulder before she stepped into the room, Gavriela spoke again, much more quietly.

“Did things go badly?”

People had been nosy, of course, when Amanda had applied to the Archive’s translation team. The Vulcan ambassador’s wife, living alone back on Earth, doing work that was neither charity nor a particularly high-profile cultural exchange?
She had deflected most of those questions with politely canned answers.

Gavriela had not pressed her, but Amanda trusted her, and so she was as aware of the situation as anyone else could be.

“No. Confusing, but not badly.”

Gavriela nodded slowly.

“Alright. Well, stop making me think that you’re going to burn yourself out, alright? And I know you’ve got my comm line. Any time,” she said, punctuating with a rap of her knuckles on the edge of the desk.

Amanda had barely spoken to anyone in a whole week, and after all, Gavriela was one of the only people who knew about everything - so why was she so reluctant to talk about it? Did she really just want to hold this all in until she saw Sarek again, and make everyone worry?

“It was just a really weird week. I’ll loop you in once I’ve got it figured out. We'll split drinks. Deal?”

Nodding again, Gavriela took a step back towards the door.

“Deal. But only if you get out of here for the night. You’re making the interns nervous.”


The daylight wasn’t even gone - going straight home would have been absolutely unbearable. She waited instead for a bus that would carry her in the opposite direction, out towards the bay.

(She normally might have walked, but decided to spare her feet.)

It was strange to her that she felt so compelled to isolate herself, to mull this over alone, in the same breath that she despised the thought of actually being alone.

Perhaps she just hated the idea that the decision would be anything but her own.

But that was ridiculous, and she knew it.
Maybe it really wasn’t anyone else’s goddamn business, but what was she supposed to do - let this eat away at her for two more weeks?
She was not about to shut down and wallow like that.

(Perhaps the whole past year had been wallowing in its own way, even if she was justified. Now there was a thought that stung.)

She shouldn’t have put Gavriela off like that. She should have just called her mother that morning. She shouldn’t have pushed Sarek back a whole extra week.
Should have, should have, should have -

What she deserved was a walk along the waterfront in the coolness of the late afternoon, and a dinner by herself, and to stop working herself up over all of this.


She didn’t even get out of her clothes that night.
She took off her shoes, hung her bag in the closet, and proceeded to roll onto the bed, half-clutching the pillow as she drifted off.

The sun wasn't even up when she awoke to a chill, real or imagined. She slowly considered peeling off her socks and getting under the covers, considered letting herself drift along until the alarm finally went off.

Instead she rolled over, sat up, and drew the elastic band from her hair. She let the remains of her bun fall free, and reached up to run her fingernails along her scalp.

The clock read ‘4:57’ in faint purple numerals, and she rolled her ankles a few times as she turned her gaze to the rest of the apartment again.

Too empty.
Too empty.
Empty in a way that hadn’t bothered her for a whole year. Empty in a way that she hadn’t allowed herself to contemplate. Was this just loneliness, or did she actually miss him?

She almost wished for something to clean, something to give herself a purpose until she could make her way into work.

Instead, she retrieved her comm from her satchel and stood silently in the kitchenette, taking a long moment to consider before she tapped out a message.

It’s not an emergency, but if you’re awake, I’d love to talk to you.

She sent that along, and stepped along to set her coffee 'mat.
The pot was halfway done when the response came - not the chirp of a message, but the lingering chime of a call coming through.

With a deep, bracing breath, Amanda accepted, and held the device up to her ear.

“Hey, mom.”

“Hey, sweetheart." There was a pause, and Amanda thought she heard the sound of a the door from the kitchen to the deck opening. That checked out - her mother had always liked having her tea outside, weather allowing, and she probably didn’t want to wake Amanda’s father with chatter. “This is a weird hour for you.”

Amanda laughed at that, reaching into the cupboard over the sink for a mug.

“Used to be a weird hour for you, too.”

“Mm. Well, doctor still can’t nail down a good fix for the arthritis, so sometimes… all I can do is just get up and move.”

“Is it that bad, now?” she asked, kept her gaze fixed on the mug as she poured her coffee, then carefully set the pot back in the maker.

“Bad? No. Irritating. And definitely, definitely not what I think you wanted to talk about.”

No more wallowing. This was supposed to be about no more wallowing.
Before she could stop herself, before she could let her voice break over finally saying it out loud -

“Sarek asked me to think about a divorce,” she blurted out, words flowing like one long wavering syllable.

She could hear her mother breathing, felt her own pulse returning to normal. It was out there now, something that she couldn’t just take back or ignore.

“Just like that?” her mother finally asked, her suddenly-clipped tone all too familiar.

“No… no. He just asked me to - you know, to think about what I want, one way or the other. And he knows he made a mistake that he can’t take back. But I couldn’t just - I mean, that’s not something to decide when we were both grieving and angry. Or... well, I don’t think he was angry, but I was.”

The great jumbled rush of words took her by surprise as she spoke, more defensive than she'd meant to be.

She could hear the sniff and the sigh over the line, and her mother finally spoke again.

“What do you think you want, then?”

Amanda picked up her mug, finally, and walked over to the couch to sit. She felt a little calmer, trusted herself not to fall apart again.

“I really, really don’t know. And I know that I should, but… you know I talked to Spock before I left, right? He told me... he said that I shouldn't hold a grudge on his behalf. That he didn't want to be a wedge between us, because Sarek's reaction was logical.”

“You raised a sweet boy, and we all know that. But I didn’t ask what Spock wants.”

Well, that was true enough.

“Come on. Cone of silence, same as ever,” her mother prodded. Amanda felt something pass, felt the days of silent anxiety release themselves.

“He really didn’t push me either way. And I’ve gotten along fine on my own, gotten used to it again. But it'd be tough to… to just get over someone who’s been in my mind. And vice versa. Not impossible, just tough,” she sighed. She paused, took a long swig of her coffee, and continued, “Worst part is, I don’t know if I actually miss him. I just avoided thinking about it, and I don’t like that. It’s all so messy, and I hate it.”

“Oh, honey.”

“Does it make me a bad person if I give him a chance?” she asked, shocked at how tiny her voice suddenly sounded.

The pause from the other end of the line was almost uncomfortable, but her mother finally spoke up.

“Have you been happier since you left? I mean, really, if you think it’s not over, are you going to be giving up something by going back?”

She thought about that, glanced out the window at the gradually lightening sky.

“I would really miss the archives. I think I’d miss the bay, and the rain… and it’s been good to really reconnect with my friends.”

“But you can still have that. You’re not tethered to him. Even if you’re on Vulcan some of the time, you can still be here some of the time, especially now that the children are all - grown.”

Amanda almost giggled over her mother's attempt at tact.

"I wasn't exactly housebound back then," she did giggle. It was a good point, though - Sarek had certainly shouldered his share of the parenting, but he had also been away far more frequently than she had.

She heard the distinct tone of her mother's scoff.

“What I really meant was, if you would be happier with him back in your life, even with some changes… if it was just a mistake that everyone can live with, and there’s still plenty of good to balance it out? Fine. If you talk again and decide to end things? Fine! If you’re happy? That’s all I care about. That’s all anyone should care about. Even if I still think he's a jackass.”

Amanda considered her coffee cup for a moment, took another huge gulp before she answered.

“I'm really glad I never had to go up against you in debate club, you know that?”

“Your dad makes a point of telling me s- Oh! Light’s on upstairs. You wanna say hi to him?”

Did she want to actually cry this morning?

“No, I uh… I don’t wanna worry him until there’s something to worry about, okay?”

“Okay, Button. You know I love you?”

”I love you too. Very much.”

The line went silent, and Amanda closed the comm.

It felt as though something had shifted in forcing herself to put words to the situation. The morning suddenly felt easier. Lighter.

Her mother was right, of course. No matter what happened, she was going to be fine.