Summary: A few months after JTB, Lieutenant Uhura meets Spock's parents on a linguistics seminar. Sarek is not entirely comfortable with playing second fiddle.

The crush of people at the reception was almost too much for her after the already exhausting travel. The queue of visitors trying to register for the talks and get their visitor's passes seemed to go on forever.

Nyota cursed her rash decision for the nth time, already regretting coming here. What if something happened to the ship while she was away? She had a good team, a very good team, but in case of emergency she didn't trust anyone at her station but herself. And all that for a linguistics seminar that probably wouldn't tell her anything useful anyway; just some fancy new theories, so she could boast she was top of her field.

She sighed, resolved one more time not to act like a mother who had left her unruly children at home, and changed her weight from one leg to the other. Oh, but this queue didn't seem to be moving at all, and people were getting impatient, making matters worse.

Nyota closed her eyes, trying to clear her mind then shot them open again. No, she was not hearing things. Here it was again, the last voice she had expected to hear there: "I assure you, my name is not Mr. Grayson!"

With all the skills of a soldier trained in stealth operations, the chief communications officer of the Enterprise wiggled past the masses of waiting people, until she got a better view of the couple currently standing at reception. The man, at least a head taller than his petite companion, stood very straight, with his arms by his sides and looking directly at the receptionist concealed behind his back. The woman by his side was turned towards him, her hand raised, barely keeping herself from patting his arm.

" Sorry, sir, I'm sure it was my mistake., what is your correct name, please?" The high-pitched, slightly shaky voice of the receptionist could be heard from behind the man's back.

The man said "Sarek," followed by something that sounded like he was clearing his throat.

"Er...I'm sorry, sir, but the only Sarek registered for this seminar is Mrs. Grayson's husband. I'm afraid you'll have to leave."

"No, you misunderstood again. I am, in fact, Amanda Grayson's husband. I..."

"So you are Mr. Grayson!"

It was probably the obviously relieved tone of the receptionist that prompted Sarek's companion to chime in, "Yes, he is!" With that she pushed her husband towards the exit, while simultaneously taking the two visitor's passes from the confused receptionist.

Sarek let her push him for a few steps, probably too astonished to properly deal with the situation; then he stopped still. Amanda walked on, and Nyota could still hear her saying: "Oh Sarek, not now! We still have to find our rooms and unpack, and oh! We haven't even eaten yet. You can discuss this when..."

Sarek looked after her for a moment then reluctantly followed her.

Nyota saw them again later on, dining in the restaurant. She didn't want to disturb them, but they sounded agitated, as if they were fighting. Amanda even seemed to raise her voice now and then.

One of the reasons Nyota was the best communications officer in the Fleet was that she knew how to acquire information. In fact, many people suspected she knew "everything". Of course, what she did could not be called anything as vulgar as "gossiping". That would imply passing on information without knowing what it might do. Preposterous.

Seating at a neighbouring table with he back to the pair, she ordered a light meal and began to wait.

"I told you, it was a misunderstanding," Nyota heard Amanda say, ending with a sigh.

"It is an insult to my person. He refused to find out my name."

"I don't think he did that on purpose. Well, my name is Grayson, and we are married. When I said I'd bring my husband, he just assumed that was your name."

"I am Vulcan."

"That you are." At this Sarek must have done something, and Amanda chuckled in response.

"You should have given up your surname when you married me. That is what you would have done if you had married a human."

"I have your clan name. It's just not the same as a surname."

"Surnames are unnecessary on Vulcan. This problem would not have occurred if you had adapted your name to Vulcan norm."

"Or if I had been Vulcan to begin with."

"Or that," Sarek said hesitantly.

"Well, if I had been Vulcan, you might have become part of my clan."

"That is beside the point."

"If you say so."

"At any rate, the damage is already done. The only option to remedy the situation is to convince the organizers to correct their mistake."

Nyota heard a chair being pushed back, and Amanda's voice, calling over her shoulder: "Good luck!"

Nyota hesitated a moment. She had only met her superior officer's parents a couple of months ago, but they certainly seemed to be less aloof than one would expect from Spock's parents. She decided to go over to Amanda's table.

"Ah, hello. I'm sorry to intrude like this...," she started hesitantly.

"Why, hello, dear."

"I suppose you might not remember me..."

"Oh, nonsense, of course I remember you. You're one of Spock's colleagues on the Enterprise." From the tone of her voice the sentence might very well have been "You're one of Spock's friends from school."

"Yes ma'am."

"Sit down, please. I have to say I'm a bit surprised to see you here. Is the Enterprise here as well?"

Nyota had to smile at that. "No, I'm afraid not. The Enterprise dropped me off at Starbase 8 and travelled on a freighter coming this way. I'm lucky, though, the Lexington is here and it'll take me to Starbase 15, where I'll rejoin the Enterprise."

"A freighter! Sounds perfectly awful."

"It was. I'll be only too happy to be back on the Enterprise."

They talked about the ship and her adventures. Amanda was genuinely interested in her job, but most of all, she wanted to hear how Spock was doing. Nyota soon found that that was a delicate subject. Spock had an unfortunate habit of getting himself in outrageous situations, not something a mother would wish to hear.

Amanda continued talking, even after Sarek returned and sat down at the table. He seemed tense, his face a frozen mask. His visitor's pass still had the name "Grayson" on it. He stayed silent. When the waiter came and they ordered dessert, Sarek still kept quiet. He finally looked at the waiter when he directly addressed him and was about to reply, when Amanda interrupted him, saying: "Mr. Grayson will have the same as I." Sarek shot her a glare that she countered with a look of complete innocence.

Nyota wasn't sure what to make of this behaviour, but she deemed it safe to change the topic. She turned to Amanda. "I was surprised to see that you are one of the guest speakers. I looked over the list before I came here and I'm sure your name wasn't on it."

"Oh, that. I'm replacing T'Ris, a colleague of mine. Her husband got a particular fever and passed it on to her, you see."

At that Sarek turned to her. "Amanda."

"I'm sorry to hear it. It must be troublesome, if it's so bad that she couldn't come," said Nyota, confused at Amanda's apparent cheerfulness at her colleague's demise.

"I wouldn't say it's bad. And I'm sure they'll be properly ashamed of themselves for al the mischief they've caused."

"Mischief…?" Nyota started to say, but was interrupted by Sarek, who stood up and walking away from the table, said, "Attend me, my wife."

Amanda followed him, giving Nyota an innocent look and a tiny shrug, followed by a hasty "I'll be right back," over her shoulder.

Nyota, who no longer believed in Amanda's innocent looks, wondered what she had said to make Sarek so flustered. The poor ambassador had glowed like a green light bulb.

Back on the Enterprise, Nyota asked Spock to come to her quarters. She noticed a couple of ensigns exchange glances at that. How troublesome, she thought. Junior officers really could make a mountain out of a molehill. What else was she supposed to do? She could hardly give Spock a package from his mother on the bridge!

Spock arrived exactly on time, and if her communications skills were worth something, and they most certainly were, she had been called the best communications officer in the Fleet more than once - then he was more than a little pleased.

Before he left, she thought of Amanda's strange remarks about her colleague and repeated them to Spock. His face first drained of all blood, and turned pale. Then the blood rushed back in, all at once. "I am certain it was nothing serious," he murmured, and then practically fled her cabin.