Author: ebonbird (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Summary: A flicker of light can dispel a room full of darkness.
Disclaimer: This story is a work of original fiction. The characters belong to UPN and Paramount respectively. I make no claims to any copyrights regarding these characters. This work is written entirely for my enjoyment and the enjoyment of friends.
"I'm deeply sorry," says her human OB/GYN, Dr. Tigertail. Empathy strains the hard tenor of his voice. He wears Star Fleet science blue. His chin is weak, his nose fleshy and prominent. His wide, steep cheek-bones anchor his brilliant, brook-brown eyes. Like his predecessors, he has trouble meeting the eyes of the woman who married an emotionless, elitist alien - the Lady Amanda with-the unpronounceable-Vulcan-last-name. His reasons have nothing to do with modern medicine's repeated failures to bring any of Lady Amanda's pregnancies to term.
Amanda has trouble meeting his eyes because that morning when she'd brought out Sarek's casual clothing from his wardrobe and laid some of it out on his bed, and some on the floor, and some on his desk, she'd noted the heaviness in her lower abdomen and a cramping in her lower back and ignored it. She'd run her hands over the sheer wools of his undershifts and over the glossy length of his formal robes and wished him home. Six weeks into this pregnancy she'd sent word to him on Nisus. Sixteen weeks into this pregnancy and Sarek was still on Nisus; the ninth Vulcan Colony and the finest example of intrapsecies cooperation in the galaxy.
"Your physicians are best qualified to see to your well-being and I am needed here, t'hy'la," he'd told her.
As if she were a child who wouldn't understand that the needs of the many outweighed the needs of the one.
Or in this case, two.
But oddly, enough, there's no weeping in her. Not yet. Perhaps it has to do with Dr. Tigertail's presence. She's seen him almost each and every day of this pregnancy.
"I know how much this meant to you," Dr. Tigertail says.
"Indeed," Amanda replies dispassionately. Maybe she spent all her tears two miscarriages ago.
The glossy black diagnostic monitor thumps slow and steady at a higher than normal pitch. Dr. Tigertail rises from his seat on the biobed opposite hers and settles on the edge of the orange and silver sensor-net covered cushion Amanda reclines upon. Through the window, Amanda watches the orange sun slip closer to the Bay.
The doctor is probably unaware that he's sighing even though his broad shoulders heave and his breath is sibilant. His dilated eyes; the downward turn of his lips; the rich, double-curve of his lowered chin, and the stark eyebrows that lift and lower with every beat of his heart have stripped him naked. Maybe it's living in the Vulcan enclave for so long - but Amanda reads Tigertail like a flowchart. The part of her weary of looking for High Golic Vulcan words in any way analogous to the antecedents for the human word 'love', the part of her saddened by scrunching herself down on a thin Vulcan mattress as she bends her ear to the lean and faintly burning side of her husband so she can hear the beating of his heart, the part of her angered by Sarek's absence responds.
She feels a sort of flooding in her chest. The throbbing of her aching anatomy sharpens, leaving pain and approaching pleasure. Amanda considers the trembling doctor besides her and thinks that the very things she loved about her husband when she first knew him she's now begun to hate.
But she wants to take the doctor by the appealing breadth of his hand and place his too-cool fingers on her face, index tip to temple, palm over her jaw.
Amanda puts on her strength; sits a little straighter, firms her chin, thins the tremor from her lips and speaks in a steady, clear voice. "What is it, Doctor?"
"I can put the pieces of your womb back together, but it's up to your body to do the rest."
"Will I be able to conceive again?"
"Maybe a human child."
"I was told a Terran-Vulcan hybrid was possible. How could I keep getting pregnant if it wasn't possible?"
Lady Amanda Grayson, draped from head to toe in clinical blue, reclining on a biobed and worrying a sensor band circling her wrist, waits on the physician with a steady, blazing gaze.
"I know we've - I promised you - a Vulcan-Human baby, but maybe you need to consider that your body is protecting itself. And there are other factors. Right now, the tissues of your uterus are friable."
Analyzing the words etymologically, she pronounces, "Easily torn and punctured."
"Yes. You may conceive, but carrying the child to term is another matter altogether."
"Why do you think that is?" she whispers.
"Maybe something in the Vulcan blood factors do not agree with your immune system. There'll have to be tests." His gaze is penetrating. His hand holds hers, his thumb caresses the smooth back of her hand. His palm is almost distastefully cool but it's a human hand.
Her eyes well with tears. There's the grief, she thinks.
"Oh, Amanda," he groans. "You can cry."
She yanks her hand - hands - from his and laughs, a pointed laugh as bright as her mind. "I married a Vulcan. I am not one."
Dr. Tigertail keeps her there under 48 hour observation but he doesn't touch her more than absolutely necessary. She arranges to have a message sent to Sarek, requesting his presence. When his reply comes, she has already been discharged.
The weather outside is frightful but beautiful: a bitter wind howls; moisture saturates the heady air, chilling her skin; mist creeps along the steep streets, slicking the handrails along the hardest ways. The bloody sun shatters the cerulean horizon line, reflects on the bottle-green water. Orange and gray clouds scud through an indigo sky.
As Amanda labors up the brutal incline of the North hill, the mist blanks into fog. Eventually, Amanda feels her hands before she sees them when she raises them to her face. Sounds are muffled; scents distorted, but the olfactory acuity of pregnancy lingers rendering fresh mulch as easily identifiable as diesel exhaust - soy broth as baking cinnamon and sugar.
She walks because modern medicine has re-knit her shredded womb and the pain blockers allow her to climb the steep streets without feeling burn or tears. She walks because she wonders what it would be like to walk along the streets of San Francisco shoulder to shoulder and hand to hand with any man. Say, someone with a heart located beneath his breastbone.
She reaches her street, panting. She leans forward on her knees, winded. There's a sick, slick ache in her belly and a fiercer one behind her eyes. Hidden by the fog, she closes her eyes and weeps. When she opens them, the fog has cleared. She can see behind her, San Francisco alight.
Twining up the light pole on the corner is a vine. Closed morning glories nod from it. How Amanda sighs - like everything inside her has a life of its own and doesn't want to leave her but cannot be contained.
Overhead, she can see the undercarriages of shuttlecraft as they wing silently to the academy staging grounds. Here, visible stars are few and far between.
The house to the left of hers has colored lights outlining its windows. Animated holograms of snowmen and graceful herbivores dance on the lawn of the house on the left. As she steps on the flagstone path leading to her front door, golden running lights flare, illuminating her way. A lamp illuminates the porch as she climbs onto it. She looks over her shoulder in time to see the path lights shut off in a wave. She stands in a pool of electric light in front of a house conspicuous by its lack of adornment. Darkened windows. Closed rooms.
She presses her hand to a rectangular panel on the wall. The doors of her home slide open. She scents the mustiness of two days, damp and fierce metallic scent that is both oily and dry. She wrinkles her nose, recalls her irritation at the hyperclean air of the Academy hospital, her enjoyment of the complex bouquet of odors she'd experienced on her walk home, and she hesitates at the threshold. She spies crumpled fabric on the very edge of the circle of illumination cast by the porch light.
"Computer, half lights."
The fibrous material has a sheen like purple onion skin. She steps over the threshold, holds her stomach and bends to take up Sarek's robe. She pinches a fold of it and it springs from her grasp.
In the foyer the strange hot scent is more concentrated. The front door slides shut as Amanda follows her nose. It leads her to the living room that is aglow with a rich illumination and thick with the scent of strange fire. In the wall niche stands a rough-hewn stone brazier in a wrought metal stand. The lumps within the brazier blaze too steadily to be coals, they cast a chalky pink light.
Amanda spies writing in archaic Vulcan script on the rim of the brazier. She sounds out and thus identifies the name of Sarek's place-of-birth. 'Sas-a-Shar, ShiKahr'.
"Sarek?" Her voice quavers as she calls into the near darkness. "Sarek?"
"You came ..." she whispers. She shivers, shakes out the folds of Sarek's rumpled robe.
"Computer," she calls, sliding her arm into the sleeve. "Date: day and month, modern Jewish calendar."
Squeak sound of the poorly recorded audio tape followed by the tinny response of, "1st Tevet."
"Second to last day," Amanda murmurs. She approaches the dining room table, the surface of which is bare save for a blue embroidered white runner and a nine-branched candelabra. Five of the candleholders are filled but the ninth candle, the servant candle, the one from which all must be lit, is also unlit.
The strange fire burning in the brazier in the niche in the wall calls to her. Her feet go towards it and she stares into the flame. Pulled by her senses of sight and smell forgets the hard ache in her body. When she finally tears her eyes away from the brazier marked with the name of Sarek's home she gasps. The servant candle of the menorah is lit, the column of wax glowing with the pink-orange light suffusing her living room - her and Sarek's living room.
Words that spring to her lips before her mind even apprehends them: "Blessed art thou our lord and King of the universe who commanded us to light the candles . . . "
Pain eclipsed by wonder, one-by-one, Amanda speeds to the long low table. She lights the first seven candles with the servant light. She lights and while she lights she sings songs in a minor key, her voice rising and falling like ripples radiating from a stone thrown in deep waters. No song is completely known, no song is complete. When she forgets the words or melody to one she begins another.
When Sarek finally comes to her, he comes without words. The cool of the San Francisco evening has impregnated his traveling clothes. He smells like the stale air, waxy herbicides and pungent recycling microbes of overtaxed earth-to-orbit shuttlecraft. His hair is wild. His gaze, deceptively mild.
"You were discharged 3.7 hours ago," he begins, pinning her against him in a fierce hold that makes her groan. "Forgive my urgency," he says easing his grip only a fraction.
His wild, burnt sage and ozone scent with its rose notes brings tears to her eyes.
"T'hy'la?" he asks, naming her friend, confidant, lover, trusted and beloved of the soul.
Standing on her toes, she weeps apology against his neck. Seeking clarity, he places his hands against her face where appropriate and slides into the tidy, kaleidoscope fury of her thoughts. Grief. Lust. Rage. Betrayal. But he holds her, finding clarity he holds her, lets her feel the weight and furnace of him, the heat inside of him that seeks to balance itself in her coolness.
"My wife," he says, his dark eyes narrow. "You would have destroyed us for 'love'? Vulcans have words for 'fidelity'; 'honor'; and various passions, each more destructive than the last."
She swallows and says, "And yet ..."
They slide apart, their arms linked. He gripping her, almost carrying her weight as his hands bracket the undersides of her upper arms. She resting her fingers around the span of his biceps, content. His eyes travel her face, searching. "And yet . . ." he echoes. Then, his eyebrows arching minutely with each word, "I do not require a son."
"But you want one." She brackets his shoulders. "Don't you want one? I want one."
He sighs - his nostrils flare and his gaze remains steady, but that is for Sarek, a sigh. "Yes and yes."
"Then I'm willing to try how many times it takes."
"I contacted the Vulcan Academy of Science when you informed me of your condition."
"You mean my pregnancy."
"The probability of success increases by a factor of 28.2 percent if we go to Shi-Kahr, Amanda."
She caresses his hand, which has curved around her shoulder, laces her fingers through his. "You mean it might change our luck." Her eyes twinkle.
"At this juncture-" He sweeps her off her feet and into his arms- "I am willing to entertain even the most extreme possibilities."
He carries her from the pink and orange lit room, where the brazier and menorah shine, and into the dark and narrow hallway that is never warm enough for Sarek's comfort or cool enough for hers. She rests her hand on his side, reveling in the beat and heat of his heart. She murmurs, "The age of miracles may not yet be over."
Notes: This can be read as a sequel to 'Joy Unpseakable' at http://ebonbird.tripod.com/stories.htm
Written for C-Fan's Third Annual Holiday Fanfic Project (http://ontheroad.hispeed.com/iba/hfp2001/home.html). If the ring isn't fixed, links to all stories are available at http://ontheroad.hispeed.com/iba/hfp2001/links.html
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