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Courtship Ritual

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Courtship Ritual
Raven Knight


Before they’d even cleared the doorway of the movie theatre, Amanda Grayson’s companion turned to her and stated bluntly, “I do not enjoy this courtship ritual.”

Her date was a Vulcan. Perhaps his confusion came from their cultural differences. She did not pause in her walking to the hovercar Sarek had secured from his Embassy in what Amanda believed to be a small stretch of his diplomatic privilege. “But you asked me to go,” she reminded him. “You chose to go to a movie. In fact, you chose the movie!”

Sarek did not exactly sigh. “Based on the recommendation of one of your other Human colleagues.”

She smiled into what remained of her popcorn. “That’s sweet.”

Sarek looked at her. “Popcorn is more salted than sweet, is it not?”

Amanda tried not to laugh. “I meant your behavior was sweet.”

Sarek did not respond while he thought about her words. He shook his head. “I do not understand.”

He needed clarification. She forgot that Human phraseology could be confusing for a literal-minded Vulcan. “You asked other Humans what activities are common for a date?”

Sarek nodded. “I concluded that I must appeal to your species’ traditions, preferences, and sensibilities in order to interact with you outside of a professional capacity to more effectively communicate my interest in you on a personal level.”

She quickly translated that overlong answer into something much simpler in her head. I like you and wanted to spend time with you outside of work. Amanda smiled. “So you asked about Human dating.”

“I inquired after Human courtship rituals, affirmative.”

“And you chose ‘See a movie together?’”

Sarek opened the hovercar door for her as he replied. “The activity had been indicated as the most commonly chosen activity for prospective mates.” He did not notice Amanda’s eyes widen in alarm at his wording. He slid into the seat next to her. “Therefore, it was only logical to suggest this activity.”

“But you didn’t enjoy the date,” she said.

Sarek settled in the seat and gazed directly at her. “I did not.”

The silence between them lasted for three endlessly long blocks of traffic. “So you’ve changed your mind about me?”

Sarek inhaled slowly, thinking. “Inconclusive.”

They looked at each other. When the car halted in another bout of traffic, Amanda asked, “What specifically about the…ritual…did you not enjoy?”

“We were expected to remain silent during the entirety of the feature. The purpose of courtship is to gain knowledge of compatibility with one’s companion, is it not?” He waited for her to nod. “How can such knowledge be gained in silence?”

Amanda smiled at his logic. “I see your point.”

Sarek leaned into her to speak conspiratorially while plucking a piece of popcorn from the depths of the bag. “I would be amenable to a different ritual that involves speaking to each other.”

Amanda’s mind raced through different dating scenarios to think of one that might fit his parameters. She nodded to herself, decisively. “Well, there is always the coffee date.”

Sarek failed to fully hide his distaste. “I do not enjoy coffee.”

She held her ground. “A tea date, then.” She stared at him in challenge. He’d asked her on this first, apparently unsuccessful if unenjoyable, date. She wondered if she’d overstepped some Vulcan social mores by asking him this time. How did Vulcans even court each other?

Sarek’s eyes softened as he did not quite smile. “Very well.”