Amanda tripped over her own feet and stumbled down onto the ground. She sat there for a moment, then laughed at her own clumsiness. “I swear that that was not on purpose this time!”
Sarek refrained from rolling his eyes, as that would be much too human of an action, but found his mind filled with nothing but fond thoughts as he looked upon his t’hy’la. She quickly scrambled back up to her feet, unaware of Sarek’s close observations. She went back to examining the flower that she’d found on the ground. It was a rather unique looking specimen, but Sarek doubted it had any particularly useful properties.
After a few more minutes, he cleared his throat. “Not to seem like a bother, but I believe your mother is expecting us back for dinner in approximately zero point five hours. We should leave now if we wish to make it back on time.”
Amanda walked over to Sarek, a handful of flowers gathered in her hands. “Look, they’re so pretty.”
Sarek nodded. “I suppose if anyone were to be qualified to understand the meaning of that word, it would be you.”
Amanda smiled, and her cheeks turned a light pink. “You always say just the sweetest things.” As they walked back to their car, holding hands, Amanda peered up at Sarek out of the corner of her eye. “Hey, do you ever think about what our future selves are doing?”
Sarek shook his head. “It would be illogical to dwell on them, as they are not us and the actions they take in their current time cannot affect us in any way. Unless you were speaking of the future versions of ourselves, rather than those we encountered last year, in which case I do find my thoughts occasionally straying towards thinking of our future. Why do you ask?”
Amanda shrugged. “I don’t know. It seems scary to think about the future. Some people might think that going there would be enough to make it seem less scary, but it really isn’t. And sometimes I can’t help constantly looking over my shoulder like those stupid aliens are going to be there. They had two ships and we only took one, and they can travel through time, so why haven’t they come back here yet? Or what if they got the future me after all?”
Sarek frowned. “That is not something you have to worry about, as I know for a fact that I would never allow that to happen. Whether it is right now, or forty years from now, I will always protect you from anyone or anything that may wish to cause you harm or distress. Perhaps in this case those ‘stupid aliens’, as you put it, have learned that we are stronger than them and have given up. The fact that it has been an entire year without any further incident should be proof of that.”
“I know you want to protect me from everything, Sarek, but that’s not possible even for someone as incredible as you. You can’t protect me from the nightmares that I have so often.” She tried to pull her hand away from Sarek’s, but he tightened his grip a little bit.
The Vulcan frowned. “I thought that those times I calmed your mind in the night would be enough. If it is not, then perhaps we should think of heading to Vulcan sooner rather than later. Once we’re officially bonded, we would have a strong mental connection that would allow me to sooth those dreams. I will protect you from everything, Amanda. I mean that.”
Amanda smiled. “You’re the one who wanted to stick around on Earth. And at first I wasn’t so sure about it, but now I think that that was a good idea. It’s taken a while, but I’m finally starting to get through to my family, and I think that once my brother leaves for college, things will be much easier at home. I love you and I want to be with you forever, but I guess I’m selfish. Now that I’ve had you and my family for so long, I don’t want to give up having everything.” She frowned, and looked down at her feet as they continued to move forwards. “But I’ve been taking you away from your family for way too long, and it isn’t fair. Maybe it would be best if you just went back to Vulcan. With modern technology, we could still talk everyday, and when I’m feeling more ready to leave, I could meet you there.”
There was a long moment of silence before Sarek responded. “It would be illogical for me to ‘miss’ my family, as I can speak with them whenever necessary. Also, as a Vulcan I know that I will have a much longer lifespan than you, and I can always spend more time with my family many years from now when you are gone. I love you, Amanda, and I love spending time with you. If Earth is where you are happiest, then I do not wish to take that away from you. However, if you could find the idea of a small absence from this planet to be acceptable, then we could go to Vulcan to be bonded, and then return here. My parents understand that as an ambassador, I have many duties to attend to on Earth, and I can assure you that their feelings are not hurt by my being here.”
Amanda paused so that she could throw her arms around Sarek’s neck in a tight hug. “Oh, you’re the craziest Vulcan I’ve ever met! I love you more than anything. And I’ve already told you before that I’d be happy to be bonded to you. I can’t imagine ever wanting to be with someone the way I want to be with you. You make me the happiest girl in the world.”
“Logically, you have not met every female in the world, and also happiness is an emotion which means it cannot be weighed. Therefore, you have no way of knowing who holds the highest percentage of happiness.” His expression softened. “However, I will not deny that I am pleased by your response.”
The two of them hurried back to their car, and drove as quickly as they could back to Amanda’s house. Now that she had her license, she was the one driving whenever she could, though Sarek found the way she often sped up unnecessarily to be slightly irritating and possibly a safety hazard.
When they reached the house, they both got out of the car and walked inside. Amanda’s parents were already seated in the dining room. They weren’t particularly surprised to see Sarek, as he came around quite often, but they’d yet to get to the point where they actually liked him. At least they’d gotten better in the last year, and had stopped trying to force him to eat meat whenever he came over.
As they were eating, Amanda’s father, Michael, looked over at Sarek with an innocent curiosity. “So I saw on the news that there’s a big fight going on in Starfleet. Apparently the two head honchos are fighting over which one of them will be better at teaching the students with their methods. One guy, Admiral Baren, wants to focus more on the individual tracks students can take, like command, communications, science, whatever. This other lady, Admiral Yera, wants everyone to be taking the same courses for several years, with just a couple differing classes depending on each kids chosen specialty. Everyone’s going nuts over the two potential policies. What do you think, Sarek?”
Though the human adults would be unable to see it, Amanda could tell that Sarek felt uncomfortable. Whenever her parents asked him seemingly innocent questions, they almost always turned out to be traps used to make fun of Sarek or to put him down. “Well, on Vulcan we have a school of great scholars, the Vulcan Science Academy. There, because we acknowledge that each Vulcan is unique, every student has their own personal learning path laid out for them. There are no specific paths that anyone must follow, and it has always seemed to work out rather well.”
Michael snorted. “That doesn’t really answer the question, but that’s alright. I understand that on Vulcan you guys would never be so ‘illogical’ as to argue over what would provide the best kind of education. But hey, since you’re such a smart person, maybe you should go to Starfleet and tell them what you just told me. I’m sure they’d listen to you, since you’re an ambassador and all.”
Amanda frowned. “Dad-”
He cut her off. “Not now, Amanda. I’m trying to talk to your boyfriend like the nice, civil kind of guy that I am.”
Carrie, Amanda’s mother, rolled her eyes. “Don’t mind him. He’s had a bit too much to drink today. He’s still so sad to see Adam off.”
Amanda stood up. “I’m actually finished, and I think that Sarek and I will just be on our way now.”
Michael shook his head. “No, I don’t want you sleeping over that goblin’s place tonight. We just lost a member of our family, and I want you to stay here and be a part of the loss with the rest of us.”
Carrie nodded in agreement. “Besides, even though it may seem like we didn’t care in the past, it’s always bothered us that you stayed over at Sarek’s place so often. You’re just a child, Amanda, and by human standards, he’s a full grown adult. When you’re eighteen you can make whatever decisions you want, but until then you live in this house, and you follow our rules. And that means no more spending the night at other boys’ houses, and no more sneaking out at night every time you disagree with something we say.”
Amanda crossed her arms over her chest and scowled. “You’re being completely unfair. Adam’s gone so now suddenly you’re just going to try and act like real parents? Fine, whatever. I’m going to see Sarek out then.” She grabbed the Vulcan’s hand, and pulled him outside.
Sarek looked down at Amanda with some worry. “Are you alright?”
She sighed. “Yeah. It’s just… I was literally just telling you about how things are getting better between me and my family, and then they go and pull something like this. I get that they care about me and they’re just trying to look after me, but there was a while where I was practically living with you and they didn’t even notice. I don’t know. Maybe things were better when they couldn’t even see me because I was so invisible. It was easier, anyways. I’m sorry. I was hoping that tonight would go more pleasantly.” She tilted her head. “Were you serious about going to Vulcan and getting bonded?”
Sarek nodded. “Of course. I would not have suggested it if I did not wish for it to happen. However, it can happen at any time, whenever you are most comfortable.”
Amanda grinned. “Then let’s do it. Book us a shuttle for whenever’s the soonest you can. We’ll be bonded, and then we can come back to Earth and they’ll have to recognize the bond, which means that then we can legally be married without my parents’ permission. And once we’re bonded and married and everything, they won’t be able to legally keep us apart.”
Sarek didn’t exactly frown, but he did look at least a little bit worried about that suggestion. “Are you sure that you wish to go so soon? Of course I would love to be bonded at the earliest date, but I know that you’ve expressed, on multiple occasions, the desire to avoid going on another space shuttle again.”
Amanda shrugged. “You’re the one who told me that that was an illogical fear of mine, Sarek. You said that just because we happened to be unlucky enough to get onto a shuttle that was going to malfunction does not mean that it would ever happen again. Shuttles are very safe, and the odds of them breaking while in flight are very low.”
“While that is true, it doesn’t change the fact that the idea of going onto a shuttle at this time makes you feel uncomfortable. And I cannot entirely blame you for that, seeing as you nearly died the last time. Humans are not the only ones to fear a situation that has proved dangerous in the past, no matter what the current odds of safety are.”
Before more could be said, the front door to the house slammed open, and Michael walked outside. This time he did look surprised to see Sarek, and he paused for a moment. “Oh. Are you still here?”
Sarek nodded once. “At this current moment in time I am still at this current location, however I shall take my leave of you now and allow your family time to rest tonight.” He gently pressed the tips of his fingers to the tips of Amanda’s, and leaned closer to speak into her ear without her father being able to listen in. “I do not know if sneaking out is the right way to go about things. Perhaps you should try talking to your parents. Even if they seem less pleasant tonight than they have during some of my previous visits, I’m sure that they’ll at least hear you out if it comes to what will make you the happiest.”
Amanda gave Sarek a quick kiss on the lips, and responded in an equally soft voice. “Alright, I’ll talk to them, but there are no guarantees. Have a good night, Sarek. I love you.”
The Vulcan nodded at Michael, and then turned and left. Amanda turned around to look at her father, and she put her hands on her hips. “What was that about tonight? You’re making an ass of yourself. Sarek is a respected ambassador who does very important work with keeping open the diplomatic relations between Vulcan and Earth. You don’t have to be so rude to him. He’s my boyfriend and I love him, and he’s always going to be a part of my life, so you’re just going to have to get used to that, okay? I know that I’m young, and I know that I’m technically a child, but I’ve been through more than you could ever possibly understand, and I know what I want in life, so just butt out! I don’t need you interfering and ruining everything all the time!”
Michael narrowed his eyes. “That’s no way to talk to your own father. I thought I raised you better than that.”
Amanda clenched her teeth. “Well you didn’t. And that’s mainly because you never bothered raising me at all. You’ve always spent so much time focusing on Adam that you never paid any attention to me. You didn’t care what I did or who I did it with. But now your golden child is out of sight and suddenly you want to actually start acting like my parents? That’s ridiculous! You can’t expect me to just go along with this!”
Michael pointed back towards the house. “Go to your room. And stay there until you can find yourself a better attitude!”
Amanda stormed back into the house, not bothering to say anything else to her father. She was annoyed that she was being treated like a child, and angry that suddenly her parents were acting like they were some big happy family unit. She wished Adam were back home already. He wasn’t Amanda’s favorite person, but with the attention all on him, it had never had a chance to be on her.
Amanda flopped down onto her bed and pushed her face into her pillow with a loud groan. She had no idea why her parents disliked Sarek so much. He was a good person, and he meant her no harm. If her parents really cared about her as much as they claimed, then they would understand that.
That’s why Amanda couldn’t wait to go off planet, even if it was just for a couple of weeks to go through with an official bonding ceremony on Vulcan. Amanda wasn’t sure what the other Vulcans already knew about her from Sarek, or what they would think of her. As far as Amanda knew, there were no other recorded cases of a Vulcan and a human going through with officially bonding. And Sarek was important among the Vulcans.
But that’s part of what would make it all so interesting. As much as Amanda was terrified of trying to leave Earth again, after everything that had happened last year, she also knew that she was starting to get bored of Seattle, and there was something inside of her just itching for the next grand adventure.