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On the Diffusion of Oil and Water

Chapter Text

 

 

Beneath dark, rain-laden clouds the Sausalito wind blew fierce.  It swirled around a couple standing close on the balcony of a high-rise, its cold powerless against the heat of their embrace.

Amanda’s fingers dug into the soft plush of her new husband’s robe as she clung to him.  Her heart pounded as she felt his hands slide up her back, his fingers entwining in her hair.

Sensations she had only just been awakened to flooded her body again, when suddenly his lips left hers.

Her desire was to pull him to her, to feel the power of him again when he had made her his.

Instead, she opened her eyes.

He had already taken a small step back, allowing the cold wind to pass between them.  His fingers slowly left her hair and came to rest atop her shoulders.

She looked up into his face and saw something new in his eyes.

Confusion.

She didn’t move.  She didn’t dare speak.  Because she understood.

He was vulcan.  And she was human.

And after mere hours of being his wife she had gone too far.

So she waited.


Sarek hadn’t started counting the seconds until he realized that they were both holding their breath.

He found the action illogical and without explanation, so he slowly began breathing again as he looked into her eyes.  He felt her frame relax under his hands a few moments later, but noted that her body still seemed to be on guard.

As was his.

Her expression was solemn and patient, but there was something behind her eyes that he could not read.

He realized then that it was always there.  Whenever she appeared her most stoic and logical, there was an emotion masked deep within her viridian eyes.  He had simply never noticed it before that moment.

Had he not been paying enough attention to miss that this most rational of humans was merely excellent at masking her emotions?

It was the most logical explanation.

He wanted to know what it meant.  He wanted to reach into her thoughts and discover it.

He lifted his hands so they hovered just above her shoulders.  He had promised never to read her mind without her permission, and the natural inclination to do so while touching her was strong.

An illogical anxiety accompanied each thought of potential actions he may take in that moment, including the ones he refused to give full presence to.

He blinked several times as he determinedly blocked out all thoughts except the one he decided was most honest.

“What are you thinking?” he asked, his hands still hovering above her shoulders.

Amanda looked surprised by the question.

“I…was wondering what you were thinking,” she replied.

Sarek blinked again.  He didn’t want to acknowledge the ideas that kept entering his mind.  Because they were not only illogical, but completely inexplicable.  A remnant of the pon farr, he decided, allowing just that much of the thoughts to return.  Thoughts far too personal for a vulcan to share.

“I find my thoughts to be a mystery,” he finally said, hoping it was honest enough and that she wouldn’t ask further.  He really needed to meditate.

He took another step back and folded his hands in front of him.

Amanda stepped back and looked down, her fingers fidgeting.

“I require meditation.”

She glanced up.  “I…um, would you like some tea?”

Sarek inclined his head slightly.  “Yes.”

They looked at one another for another moment, before she turned to go back inside and Sarek followed her.

The tea service still contained the preparations from his morning meditation.  Sarek paused in his reach for a pillow as Amanda began pouring the cold, wasted beverage into the sink.

He was struck suddenly by the selfishness of his choice and turned immediately toward his bedchamber.  He would shower and dress and see to Amanda’s needs before returning to his routine.  

Amanda was his wife.

The statement should have gravity, yet it seemed completely unreal.  

Having entered the lavatory, Sarek reset the shower to sonic function and banished his illogical thoughts.  Whatever he ‘felt’ or didn’t feel did not change facts.

He had made Amanda his wife.  

As the sound waves cleaned his skin he looked out the window at the darkening clouds over the bay, a perfect visual metaphor for the confusion he couldn’t deny he was experiencing.  

A gust of wind slammed heavily into the glass, and then suddenly a single and worrying thought broke through the storm in his mind.

He had no idea how to be married.


Sarek returned to his sitting room to find a fresh pot of tea steaming on the table, his meditation lamp beside it, and one of the pink cushions waiting for him on the floor.  Amanda sat on the other cushion opposite, already sipping from a teacup held in both hands.

As he joined her she looked up, her expression uncertain.

“Thank you,” he said when he was seated.

She blinked in surprise.

“You’re welcome,” she replied as she poured his tea.

“It is not necessary that I meditate immediately.  We can dine, or move your belongings first if you so desire.”

Her brow furrowed in a way that made Sarek feel inexplicably more at ease.  He decided it must be the familiarity.

“Actually, I would like to try to meditate,” she said slowly.

Sarek had not expected that.  “Have any of your previous attempts been productive?”

“I don’t think so.”

Sarek sipped his tea and settled himself on the cushion.  His only experience in guiding someone through meditation had been his previous unsuccessful attempts with Amanda.  But it was common knowledge that guiding others aided in one’s own success.

“Then we shall start from the beginning,” he said.

“Wait,” she furrowed her brow again, “will teaching me make it more difficult for you?”

Sarek’s brow rose.  Were she vulcan, as his wife she would have read the opposite in his mind and had assurance of the process for them both.

But she was human.

“Sarek?”

“No.  It will not.  Now, concentrate on the flame.”


Amanda couldn’t see his light.

Every time Sarek had tried to teach her vulcan meditation he began with the light.  But she could never envision it filling her lungs nor see it behind her eyes without knowing it was a forced, unnatural image.  And each failed attempt left her surrounded by a drifting darkness, clouding her thoughts more than when she began.

So this time she did not try, and let whatever images come as did so naturally.

At first, the familiar cloudiness consumed her.  But she refused to give in to it and followed Sarek’s instructions.

After a few minutes, his methodical explanation stopped as he himself surrendered to the process.  Amanda didn’t open her eyes to peek at him as she had done in the past, but kept breathing slowly and evenly, determined to succeed.

And then like the sun burning fog from the bay, the darkness began to clear.  Light began to creep through, still blocked by the haze but bright and insistent like so many sunrises she had seen growing up.

It wasn’t gentle, but neither was it harsh.  It simply was.  And while she knew it wasn’t what Sarek was expecting of her, she considered it progress.

So she gave in and let her thoughts drift as she knew she was supposed to.

Several minutes of peace passed.

And then her focus was completely shattered, her eyes flying open from the shock of the realization she had just had.

She blinked, the sight of the room around her unfamiliar for a moment.

“You have lost focus,” Sarek stated simply.

Amanda swallowed anxiously.  “I have to tell my parents.”

Sarek’s eyes opened.

Amanda knew that he could follow the thread of her thinking based on that statement alone.  Her parents had never been comfortable with her friendship with Sarek, and only tolerated it due to her insistence that it was just that.  And because of the logic, which she explained to them, that a sixty-something aged vulcan was not interested in a teenaged human for more than her mind.

She had felt comfortable speaking for Sarek in that regard, because everyone knew that vulcans rejected emotion.  But her insistence about her own feelings had gradually become lies that were easier to tell the less time she spent with her parents.  After nearly four years, they had finally believed her.

But now…

“They…aren’t going to like this.”

She looked up at Sarek, who appeared to be contemplating.  And for the second time that day his face betrayed confusion.

Finally, he spoke.  “I do not know of a logical way to proceed that will yield a satisfactory result.”

Amanda was tempted to roll her eyes and laugh all at once.  Clearly, the meditation hadn’t helped.

“Neither do I.”

“Then, perhaps,” Sarek said, blowing out the candle and reaching for his tea again, “we should give the matter more thought.  And attend to other needs for the present.”

Amanda pursed her lips.  She had heard him, but the thought of telling her parents had given rise to other thoughts.  Everyone would find out sooner or later.

“Has…a vulcan ever married a human before?”

Sarek set his cup down and folded his hands.  “Not to my knowledge.”

Her brow furrowed.  “Is this…going to be a problem?”

She expected a denial, or a vulcan quip against human emotions.  But Sarek was silent.

Her heart began to pound as she looked up into his ever-impassive face.  What was he thinking?

Then he lifted his hand and extended two fingers over the table, through the drifting smoke of the extinguished candle.

She lifted her hand and made gentle contact with her own two fingers, her eyes never leaving his.

“Our marriage is of no consequence to anyone.”

Marriage…

His fingers moved to caress the back of her hand.  She swallowed down the lump in her throat and measured her breathing until the threat of tears had gone.

“Then…let’s get on with it,” she said a bit shakily.  “We can move my things first.”

Sarek’s fingers stilled and he stared at her, his expression unreadable.  What was he thinking?

“Very well,” he said, and rose.


Amanda rushed through her apartment, packing her things.  She kept telling herself there was no reason to hurry, and yet she couldn’t make herself slow down.

A chime at the door startled her and too loudly she called, “Come.”

The door slid open to reveal Soran with a large hover-trolly.

“I can begin moving the containers you have packed,” he said simply.

“Oh, I…okay.  Thank you,” she said, rubbing a hand across her forehead.

Soran lifted an eyebrow.  “My lady, you seem distressed.”

She logged the appellation of ‘my lady’ in the mental category she had created for ‘things to ask Sarek about protocol’ and waved off his concern with a smile.

“I’m just in a hurry,” she said, turning back to the container she had been stacking old paper books into.

“For what reason?”

She straightened again, staring at the wall.

“I don’t know…”

“Unless you have a pressing need to unpack, I can think of no logical reason for your haste.  There is more than enough space in your new quarters for all of your belongings, and aside from your dinner reservations this evening the ambassador has nothing else on his schedule.  Unless you have scheduled something without him.”

“No!” she said incredulously, turning back around to face him.  “I mean…well, no.  I guess…there is no logical reason to hurry,” she concluded, forcing herself to slow down.

Soran lifted a single eyebrow and then wordlessly began carrying the packed containers through the door and onto the trolly.

Glancing after him, Amanda suddenly realized the reason for her haste.

She was worried someone would see her moving, and start asking questions.  And she didn’t know how to answer without Sarek.

Yes, I’m moving.  Well, to my husband’s suite.  Yes, we eloped today.  No, we were married here.  Who is my husband?  Um…

The idea of word spreading, especially to her parents, without her being in control of it was very worrying.

When she and Sarek had first begun spending time together openly the gossip had been heavy on both sides, though it was much more logical on the vulcan end.  It had died down of course, but had never fully gone away.  Every now and then her father would send her a news article that mentioned ‘Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan and his human companion’ as a way of warning her to stay away from him.  

The press had already concluded they were together, which didn’t really matter to either of them.  It was Sarek’s reputation among those who actually mattered that had always bothered her.  Would his peers now think less of him for having married outside his species?

And then there were her parents, who just couldn’t see things except through a human lens.  They couldn’t see Sarek as anything but an old man trying to take advantage of their little girl.  Even after years of proving himself to be nothing but honorable, the warning was always unspoken on the edge of her mother’s tongue and loudly spoken on her father’s.

They would not take the news of a spontaneous marriage well.  Especially not if she told them why.

Nevermind that she was in love with Sarek.

She closed the last container and carried it into the hall to set on the trolly, peering both ways as she stepped through the door.  But the corridor was empty except for her and Sarek’s faithful aide.

“I just have one more I think, but I can carry it with me.”

“Very well,” Soran said.  “The ambassador asked me to suggest to you that I process the forms regarding the end of your lease, should you desire it.”

“Oh.  All right.  Thank you,” she said.  She hadn’t even thought of the ‘paperwork’ she would have to do to move out.

“My lady,” Soran acknowledged with a nod and turned to guide the hover-trolly down the hall. 

Amanda went back inside and looked around at the small, now-bare room.  It still contained the standard dark-gray furniture, similar to the cabin of a starship.  It was extremely spartan in its aesthetic just like the apartment she used to share with her parents in the compound, designed for function over form.

How illogical that Sarek’s suite was nothing at all like this.

She packed the last container of loose items and sealed it, glancing one more time at the small room she had called home for the last two years.

Tears again threatened to fall down her cheeks.

“Not of joy or sorrow?”

“Simple human anxiety.”

She had explained it once to Sarek, and he had surprised her greatly with his response.

He lifted a finger to her cheek to catch the single tear that had fallen.

Her surprise was enough to halt the rest and she looked at him quizzically.

“Aren’t you going to say it’s illogical?”

“That one should accede to a natural biological response that alleviates anxiety?  No.  It would be illogical to resist.”

It was one of the many things that had struck her about him when they were getting to know each other.  She had lived her entire life surrounded by vulcans and yet none had ever responded to her humanity the way Sarek did.  She supposed that was the beginning of her interest in him as more than a friend.

But in the end, love wasn’t logical.

She let two tears slide down her cheeks before wiping them with her sleeve.  Crying may be logical, but she didn’t want to answer the questions it could invite if she were seen teary-eyed in the halls of the compound.

“Lights off,” she said to the computer.  And leaving the apartment, she locked the door for the last time.


“Amanda,” Sarek said.

She turned to look up at him from behind her fidgeting hands, held before her lips while her elbows rested on the table.  She sat hunched forward in a manner that Sarek knew well, but was very unlike her while in public.

“You will achieve the opposite of your intentions if you continue to sit like that.”

Startled, she lifted her head and really looked at him.

“What?”

“Your posture betrays your anxiety.  People will take note.”

Slowly, Amanda straightened in her chair and sat back.  But she put her wrists on the table now and let her hands fidget independently of one another.

The fine dining restaurant on the embassy’s ground floor was well-populated that evening, but not crowded.  Sarek frequented the place in the course of his duties, and as always the species diversity in the patrons was great.

He had brought Amanda there only once before socially, but she had not been as nervous that time.

“Do you think anyone knows?” she said just above a whisper.

“How would anyone know by looking at us?”

She blushed and glanced down again before sipping from her water.

Sarek observed her another moment before trying to analyze her thoughts.

“You believe it is important whether or not people know we are married.”

She narrowed her eyes in confusion.  “Yes.”

“Why?”

Her brows knitted further.  “I don’t know.”

“Will our public lifestyles be altered in any way?”

“Um…”  Her frame relaxed further and she finally set her hands in her lap.  “I don’t think so.”

Sarek turned slightly as he heard their server—a human—approach with their meals.  He had only ever seen human employees in the restaurant and wondered if the cooks were human as well.  If so they were to be complimented, as the vulcan meals he had eaten there were expertly prepared.

“I think it’s just a human thing,” she finally said, taking a bite of her risotto.

“If announcing our marriage is a tradition you wish to follow, I have no objection.”

She looked puzzled again, and Sarek watched her closely as he sampled the asparagus on his plate.  He had become fairly adept over the years at reading her thoughts based on her mannerisms, but she still surprised him frequently.  Especially when she purposely concealed her emotions, as she often did.

He knew she was analyzing her own thoughts now, trying to understand her own motivations.  But despite knowing that he had the strangest feeling it wasn’t enough.

He had been preoccupied by the desire to touch her mind ever since that morning when she had been frightened by the one instance he had done so.

That particular reaction had also been weighing on his mind, as he had never known her to be afraid before.  

Logically, he should ask her about it.  But the restaurant was the wrong place for such a conversation.

“I suppose it doesn’t matter,” she said between bites, still appearing confused.

“As you wish,” he replied.

They ate for several minutes in silence, and Sarek watched Amanda’s expression change like ocean waves from calm to anxious and back again with the passing of each minute.  This time he couldn’t interpret their meaning.

He thought for a moment how useful a mental bond would be between them, but quickly banished the thought.  She was human, therefore it was likely impossible.  And were it possible she would not be able to share the benefits as she was not telepathic.  To attempt to form one with her would be selfish.

He thought again of touching her mind, but banished that thought as well.  She had made her desires clear in that regard even though he did not yet understand her reasons.

“Amanda, what is troubling you?” he finally asked.

She looked at him uncertainly for a moment, but then her expression cleared.

He illogically felt something within him relax as well.  But he ignored it and focused on her, waiting for her to speak.

“What do I need to know about being a vulcan wife?”

Sarek blinked, feeling a tension he had previously been unaware of return.  And now faced with it he could not ignore the thought.

He did not know the answer to her question anymore than he knew how to be a husband.

“Please, specify,” he said in reply, turning his gaze to his meal.

“I mean…are there any protocols I’ll have to learn, or things I’ll be expected to do?”

Suddenly he was thrown in memory back to a cave on vulcan.  Visions of green blood in russet sand took presence in his mind, followed by illogical arguments in ShirKahr.  Embarrassing questions and hopeless denials came back to him, and he shook his head slightly to clear away the memories.

“You will accompany me to all social gatherings in my official capacity.  And you will join me in all of my travels,” he said, not looking up from his vegetables.  That at least was an easy and honest answer.

“Oh.  What else?”

He looked up.  That tension he didn’t want to acknowledge was growing.

“You must obey me.  At all times.”

He was not surprised to see her eyes widen in astonishment.  He also knew that the tension he felt had shown itself in his voice and posture, and he forced himself to relax.  But he needed her to answer.

He extended two fingers across the table toward her and waited.

She stared back at him, her expression incredulous.  It was clear to him that she had not expected him to say that.

He felt his heart rate increasing as the silence grew between them.  And still he waited.  If she wouldn’t…

Fear.  A quite...logical fear took residence in his mind.  He had felt it before, and so he knew it by name now as it filled the silence between them.

“Amanda…”

And then her expression changed.  Solemn, unreadable.  The one she used when masking her emotions.

She began reaching her two fingers toward his.  “Of course I—”

“No,” he interrupted, drawing his hand back slightly.  Her mask shattered leaving confusion and fear behind.  “You must mean it.  You must…want to.”

Their hands hovered inches apart over the candle that illuminated their table.  But Sarek barely noticed the heat from the flame as his eyes bored into hers.

She looked more confused than ever, and Sarek wished again for a telepathic bond between them.  It would be so much easier that way.  He didn’t know if he had the strength to speak of his tormented past.  But to place such a demand on a human logically required that he explain his personal reasons for doing so, aside from those of vulcan tradition.

“I…” she said quietly, “I love you.”

“I do not understand love.  It may not be enough.”

Another voice, light and musical, sounded then from close by and above.

“Ambassador?” it said.

Sarek and Amanda both started and turned toward the speaker.  It was Arsa, aide to her father Consul Vanak.  She was looking at their two hands, still hovering over the table.

Sarek turned back to Amanda who suddenly looked very scared.  He reached beyond the candle’s heat until his two fingers met hers, lifting their hands higher so the voluminous sleeve of his robe wouldn't touch the small flame.  Amanda's eyes flew back to his.

“Good evening, madam,” Sarek greeted the other vulcan, any evidence of emotion completely absent from his voice and bearing.

Arsa’s eyes were still on their fingers, now joined.

“You have married,” she said, turning her gaze toward him.

“Yes.”  

She turned to face Amanda.

“You have met my wife—”

“When?” Arsa interrupted.

“What?” Sarek asked, perplexed by her lack of manners.

“When did you marry?”

“This morning.”

“My father and I were not made aware, or we would have been in attendance.”

Sarek sensed Amanda’s embarrassment through their touch, and glanced at her to see her face flushing human-red.

“It was a private ceremony.  Only my aide was in attendance.”

“I see,” Arsa said.  She looked at their hands again before focusing on Sarek and giving a respectful bow.

“Live long and prosper,” she said.

“Peace and long life,” he replied automatically.

Arsa turned and Sarek watched as she quickly departed the restaurant.  Her behavior, even her approach and interruption of their meal, was highly unusual.  But she had always been so from the time they were first acquainted.  He wondered why.

“She likes you,” Amanda said.

Sarek turned back to her with brows knitted.

“What?”

“She likes you.  She…she wanted to marry you.”

Sarek blinked.  “Explain your logic.”

Amanda laughed lightly, but without humor or joy.  Sarek felt his tension returning.

“It isn’t logical, it’s emotional.  She wanted you.”

Sarek’s brow furrowed again.  “I do not understand.”

Amanda moved her hand until all her fingers were entwined with his and their palms touching.

“Apparently vulcan women and human women have some things in common,” she said with a strange smile that did not reach her eyes.

Sarek felt her worry through their touch.  Then realizing he was breaking his word he quickly released her hand.

She gasped slightly, and he saw the too-familiar sad confusion in her viridian eyes.

“The instinct to read your thoughts when we touch is strong,” he explained.  “Forgive me.”

Gradually, her expression cleared.  He was relieved to finally see something in her eyes akin to her usual serenity and repose.

“I understand,” she said, the corners of her mouth turning up slightly.

Sarek had picked up his fork, but set it down to reach his index and middle finger across the table again.

Amanda appeared surprised, but did not hesitate this time in joining their fingertips.

“You need not concern yourself about announcing our marriage.”

“Why not?” she asked.

“We have done so,” he said, indicating their fingers with a glance.

He watched as Amanda’s eyes left his and began scanning the room.  He felt a slight anxiety through their touch, but didn’t reach for the feeling this time.  Human emotions were so entwined with their thoughts that he would likely sense some of them each time they touched.  Surely she would understand that if he explained it.

“People are looking at us,” she whispered.

“Indeed.  I suggest we finish our meal and retire before we receive more interruptions.”

He felt a slight rise in her anxiety and then separated their fingers.  He wondered how much of his own tension was a result of touching her.

It suddenly occurred to him that with her emotions so pronounced, he would constantly be subject to their influence.  It would likely affect his own emotional control.

The thought was very disquieting.  He had experienced far too much lack of control in his life as things were.  The idea of it being continual was…

“Are you all right?” Amanda asked.

Sarek wondered if his face had shown emotion then, and his concern grew.

“Yes,” he said distractedly, and returned to his asparagus.

She was his wife.  And he needed her to be with him, always.  He could take no chances.  But having a wife…meant touching her.

His innate desire to know her mind was now in conflict with his very logical concern about overexposure to her emotions.  He supposed he should view it as an opportunity to strengthen his control and his logic.  But counterintuitive past experiences would not permit that thought to have dominance in his mind.

“If…you’re not all right, you can tell me,” she said softly.

He glanced briefly at her worried expression before fixing his gaze on his meal, concerned that he would somehow betray himself.

“I will,” he lied.