Authors note: Sarek wishes me to say that even though he is a Vulcan and finds remorse illogical, he expects a written apology from all of you who doubted him and his actions at the end of the previous chapter after you read this chapter. Enjoy!
Kirk stood on a high perch overlooking the gathering of Vulcan citizenry who were looking upwards at him. This was a little disconcerting at first, but as the oration progressed and his words flowed from him with ease and assurance, the three humans finally relaxed into their surroundings.
The speech was given entirely in the Vulcan language and it wasn’t particularly long. But its sentiments of both grief and hope were given and received in both solemnity and sincerity.
When it was over, no one applauded. McCoy, following along on the universal translator, for a moment looked very much like he wanted to clap, but Uhura, who sat beside him just to the side of Kirk, stayed his actions with a slight touch of her hand.
Uhura, even though she had heard the words countless times during practice sessions with Kirk, still found it moving and had to hold herself together as best as she could to keep from crying.
After the speech, a brief interval of introductions were made, which ended with their separation. The Captain and Doctor McCoy were led elsewhere by Sarek along with a whole host of presumed Vulcan luminaries following behind. Uhura was left standing on her own.
T’Lin, who had been shadowing her silently and unobtrusively in the background now approached, bowed her head, and simply held out her hand to lead the way leaving Uhura with no option other than to follow.
Their destination was a house, a simple earthen structure, a short distance away. When they entered, they were greeted by a cool waft of air that was more than welcome to the human unused to the stark contrast of temperatures outdoors. Uhura had no opportunity to glace around at her surrounding for T’Lin quickly moved to the staircase forcing Uhura to keep up.
T’Lin, still silent, led her up to the top level of the home and stopped outside of a closed door. Only then did she speak. Her soft, delicate voice, polite, speaking in the crisp English of a person not used to speaking the language.
“It is now the rest interval. I will return for you in one Earth hour. You will find a meal awaiting for you inside. You are advised to dress comfortably and informally. Your official duties are ended for the rest of the day.”
T’Lin then bowed again, but before she moved off, Uhura began to voice her concern. It was one thing for Sarek’s aide to give her the day off, quite another thing being an officer of the Enterprise.
“Captain Kirk might need me to–”
“Administrator Sarek will see to all of your captain’s requirements.”
There was just enough of the Vulcan superiority of manner to not gainsay T’Lin. Uhura chose the path of least resistance and decided to take matters into her own hands once she was rid of her guide.
T’Lin, coming to the conclusion that the human female had nothing more to say, moved off again, down the stairs, and out of sight.
Uhura put her hand on the door latch and took a deep breath before entering. They had all come down to the planet prepared to be given, due to the Vulcan’s status as refugees, a very basic set of quarters. Yet, when Uhura opened the door, she immediately saw that in her case that was not to be so. She was given a very comfortable and pleasant room.
Glancing around, she saw several of her personal items already placed on display. It seemed that somehow her cases, which had been beamed down with her, had been whisked away from the beam-down site and now everything was put away.
On the outside of a wardrobe that contained her various uniforms and clothing that she would need for her stay, someone had purposely hung a modest dress of blue and green, adding to it a long diaphanous veil of the darkest blue. It was not one of Uhura’s possessions, yet it seemed clear that it was expected of her to use it to complete the outfit.
The chamber had a high, comfortable Terran-style bed with a lightweight white quilt covering it and two large and plump pillows on top. At the right of the bed was a nightstand with a collection of books to the side and a lamp. She picked up one of the books: a copy of Pride and Prejudice, a copy of a language primer written in ancient Vulcan, and a small volume of Andorian poetry completed the neat pile on top.
On the left nightstand was a plate of fruits, both Terran and Vulcan, flat-bread, along with what appeared to be something very similar to cheese. There was also a carafe of water and a glass. Whoever had prepared this room certainly knew her taste and she could not help but be a little flattered.
She walked towards the set of windows and threw them open. A warm breeze fluttered the sheer curtains and a pleasant floral scent from the garden below filled the air. She observed that she was in a housing complex of some sort and that the homes here, though modest, were on somewhat of a larger scale than the houses that she could see in the distance.
These particular houses where arranged around the perimeter of a large communal garden of some considerable size. The garden was filled with a variety of plants and flowers and she looked forward to exploring it more fully in the days to come.
Recollecting herself and knowing her duty. She removed her communicator from her belt and flipped it open.
“Lieutenant Uhura to Captain Kirk, please come in.”
Kirk answered on the first beep.
“Captain,” said Uhura, hesitantly, “is everything alright?”
Kirk laughed. “Everything is fine, Lieutenant, why do you ask?”
“Where are you and the doctor now?”
“We’ve been set up in quarters at the Vulcan Military Garrison. Where are you?”
Uhura hesitated. It was strange for her to be in what appeared to be in a private home, while the captain and McCoy where more or less in the barracks.
“I am lodged in a home in a large housing complex. There is dense vegetation outside of my window. At a distance of approximately ten kilometers there appears to be a large mountain–”
Kirk’s laughter stopped her cold.
“Lieutenant, we are not on an away mission nor are we in the business of reconnaissance gathering. We are the Vulcan’s very honored guests. Stop being a Starfleet officer for a moment and relax.”
“But my guide—she told me that I was not needed for the rest of the day—I thought it best to see what your orders are.”
“My orders are for you to enjoy yourself. While Bones tours the hospital, I have been invited to review the flight academy and the dock yards where they are constructing a light-cruiser that Sarek says will be capable of transwarp. General Tovon himself is leading the tour personally. I have always wanted to meet him.”
She sighed deeply. “Then I guess you don’t need me after all.”
“You know that is not true. You are always needed, you are just not needed now. Enjoy your own tour and we will talk in the morning. Kirk out.”
She snapped her communicator closed and huffed. However, knowing that she would be soon collected by T’Lin to begin her tour, she quickly ate a few pieces of the fruit, refreshed herself in the adjoining bathing chamber, and donned her dress. As soon as she fastened the last button, the door chimed.
T’Lin entered and bowed. “I hope you have found everything to your satisfaction, Lieutenant Uhura.”
“Your home is pleasing,” said Uhura. “I thank you for allowing me to share it with you.”
“This is not my dwelling place, Lieutenant Uhura,” said T’Lin, matter-of-factually. “I live in another area of the settlement.”
“Oh? Then I must be allowed the opportunity to meet and thank my host.”
In the Vulcan fashion, T’Lin tilted her head and looked at her quizzically. Uhura was very familiar with that particular gesture.
“You are already acquainted with your host, Lieutenant Uhura.”
Uhura stared at T’Lin blankly for several moments.
“I am? I’m sorry; I don’t understand.”
“Administrator Sarek directed the fitting up of these rooms himself for your personal use.”
Uhura’s brow furrowed. “Sarek?”
“Did you not know? This is Administrator Sarek’s own home?”
Uhura’s hand flew to her temple. She gasped and looked around the room with new eyes. Of course, it all made sense now: the Terran furnishings and the reading material; obviously Amanda Grayson, though gone, had left a lingering impression upon her husband’s manners and treatment of guests in his home. She was very touched and just a little bit sad, especially with the way things now stood between her and Spock.
T’Lin continued. “The Administrator also desires me to say that he wishes your company for dinner this evening, that is, after you return from your tour of the compound this afternoon.”
“Oh,” was all she could manage past the sudden lump in her throat.
“Shall we go? Your guide awaits you at his home.”
“Oh, I thought—I thought you would be leading me on my tour.”
“No, other arrangements have been made.”
T’Lin glanced at the head wrap lying off to the side and back to the Lieutenant. “The tu’ruth is a gift from Administrator Sarek. It will mark you as being under his protection.”
“Since you belong to this house during your stay; it marks you as a member of the Administrator’s household. I am told that the Lady Amanda, though human, veiled herself in a similar manner on Vulcan. We all understand that the Administrator’s son–”
Uhura flinched and saw where all the conclusions were leading. She finally had her answer: Spock had not informed his own father where things now stood. It was up to her to put a stop to it all before things got out of hand.
She interrupted. “Please thank the Administrator for his kind attentions, but convey to him that such gifts are—unnecessary. I am flattered that he wishes to have me as his guest, but I urge him to speak with his son and perhaps after that event, he will wish to make other arrangements.”
T’Lin’s expression remained neutral. Uhura hoped that Sarek’s aide understood what she was endeavoring to make her understand without actually having to say the dreaded words out loud.
T’Lin merely held out her hand to urge her in the direction of the staircase. Only then when they reached the first floor did she get a good look around the main room.
For there, on the desk in the far corner was a series of holo-images. In the middle was a image of Amanda smiling softly. Uhura recognized it immediately as the same image she had seen in Spock’s home back on earth, taken during that time she had last visited her son. Spock must have shared it with with his father considering that Sarek’s own possessions were now all gone.
She quickly turned and caught up with T’Lin who had moved outdoors. Once they reached the house’s entrance gate, T’Lin nodded to a house at the very end of the path.
“Your guide awaits you there.”
Uhura bowed wondering why the guide did not come to meet her. Yet, she put these thoughts aside as she traversed the hundred or so meters. As she walked along, several Vulcan’s on the path nodded to her in greeting. She nodded right back, careful to be as polite and as emotionless as possible.
That was, until she saw a group of ten Vulcan children running in the direction of a large, open field. They were playing a type of game involving a round hoop approximately twenty centimeters across which was being tossed into the air and being caught at the end of a long staff. The game itself, though puzzling as to it rules, was not what astonished her at first, it was the fact that some of the children, thought not all, were laughing… actually laughing.
The gardens at the opposite end of the complex were slightly more colorful and showy than the gardens adjacent. Clearly her guide’s tastes leaned towards the vibrant. She could just make out a male figure bending at the waist in order to smell a flower blossom. But when he righted himself there was something very familiar about his carriage: the finely chiseled jaw, the noble slant of the brow, and the delicate curve of his ear all marked him out as someone she knew well–very well– and had thought dead.
She stopped on the dirt path and released a strangled cry. The figure stood tall, turned and fully revealed himself to her when he stepped through the plantations. However, before he could bow in greeting, Uhura had taken off in a run, barreling towards him, her arms open wide to receive him, all the while sobbing loudly at the same time.
Her body slammed into his and her arms had him around the neck so tightly that he was at a lost on how to breathe.
“Selkek,” she cried.
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Authors footnote: Come on! Did you REALLY think I would kill off Selkek? First rule of writing angsty soap opera: If you don’t see a body, it ain’t dead!