Sarek did not understand where he had gone so wrong. His plan was entirely logical. He did not understand why Amanda left him. Why he returned to the beach house from his walk to find it abandoned.

It was most satisfying to wake with Amanda in his arms, her head pillowed on his chest. He looked forward to doing so for the next several years. He watched her sleep, content, until she opened her eyes and looked up at him. The smile on her face quickly faded.

"What have you done?! I can feel you in my head!"

He should not have been surprised at how quickly she became aware of the change. She was much brighter than many of the humans he'd dealt with, her mind more psychically responsive. That would be a great convenience for them.

"We are bonded now. In the eyes of my people, we are married. We will marry in the way of humans as soon as you wish to do so. Perhaps once you have finished your teaching for this school year. I expect to have returned from Vulcan by that time."

He would regret having to leave her, so recently bonded, but he could not ignore his duties. He would inform T'Pau of his bonding when he reached Vulcan, which would allow her time to grow accustomed to the idea before actually meeting Amanda. He was certain that his mother would have an opinion on the matter, but he was also certain that Amanda would hold her own with her.

"Have you lost your ever loving mind?! Why would you ruin a good thing?! What the hell makes you think you can just do this without talking to me first?"

The slap to the face was unexpected. Amanda had never attempted to strike him before. Had she not understood him? Perhaps she thought he meant some insult?

"Amanda-"

"Get out!"

Her anger was mystifying. Why should she think that their bonding would ruin anything? They were compatible, and they clearly desired each other, what other end did she think to reach? Why did she look frightened at the very idea?

"Amanda—"

"I said get out!"

He would leave for the moment. To continue when she was clearly angry would only end in an argument, and he did not wish to argue with her.

He had not expected to find her gone when he returned. He searched the house for any clue as to her whereabouts, but she left none. The house sat empty, only his bag sitting on the floor indicating that anyone had occupied it recently. Where could she have gone so quickly? He had not even been away for an hour.

Resigned, he picked up his bag and set it outside before closing up the house. He could not learn Amanda's location by remaining in the house since she'd taken all of her things with her. He would return to the embassy, and develop a strategy. She could not remain hidden forever.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

"Are you alright, sir? You look troubled."

It should not have been so surprising that his human aide had picked up on his agitated state. He knew his shields were compromised, and that he was as much at risk of projecting as he was of picking up thoughts he did not wish to know. It was nearly impossible to maintain a stoic mask in such a state of mental upheaval.

"I am well, Mr. Jacobson."

"Would this have anything to do with why you came back from the beach three days ahead of schedule?"

He looked up sharply at that, but the human male just watched him evenly. This was the first time Sarek could recall that the human had questioned him. Should he confide in this man? Mark Jacobson had been the epitome of discretion since he first assumed his position, yet Sarek was hesitant. There were some things that simply should not be shared with one's subordinates.

"It is a private matter, Mr. Jacobson."

"Very well, sir. I've received a message from Vulcan that your transport back to the planet is arranged. You leave in two days time, as you requested."

"That is acceptable, Mr. Jacobson."

He felt a great desire to leave Earth as quickly as possible, now that Amanda had left him. His search into her whereabouts had thus far proven fruitless, and he was no longer certain that he would find her. While Senator Carter likely knew where Amanda's parents lived, he could not make that inquiry. The human would no doubt wish to know why he wanted the information, and he could not explain. Nor could he force the school where she was employed to divulge their records.

He returned his attention to his computer screen, determined to finish the report he'd begun as soon as he returned to the embassy. It was not due for another standard month, but he needed to occupy his mind.

"It can be helpful to get another perspective on a problem, sir."

He looked back at the human who still stood in his doorway. He could not share the details, but perhaps Mark Jacobson could still be of assistance. He was married; he dealt with human women constantly.

"I do not understand human women, Mr. Jacobson."

The human nodded, as if that was what he expected.

"Human men don't even understand human women, sir. Can I assume that you and Miss Grayson had your first fight?"

"I believe that she misunderstood my actions, and took offense where there was none intended. Unfortunately, I cannot rectify the mistake, as I have been unable to ascertain her whereabouts. She has not returned to her residence."

If he had to label the look that crossed his aide's face, he would say that Mark Jacobson looked intrigued. However, the man was professional enough not to pry further.

"Do you have any idea where she may have been headed?"

"I understand that she intended to return to her parents' home for this Christmas holiday. It is probable that she went there early, but I do not know where they live."

"I see."

He was surprised when Mark returned two hours later, a sheet of actual paper in his hand.

"Her parents' address in Canada. You might want to give her a couple of days to cool off before you go see her. If she's pissed she'll be as likely to try to castrate you as to listen."

XXXXXXXXXXXXX

"Alright, baby girl, why don't you tell me what's really going on?"

Amanda looked up from her PADD to see her father standing in the doorway.

"What makes you think something's going on?"

"You came home early. When's the last time you voluntarily spent extra time in the same house with your mother?"

He was smiling as he said it, but she could see the pained look in his eye. It was no secret that she and her mother hadn't gotten along, ever, but even she would admit that it had gotten worse when she went away to college, and decided she was staying away permanently.

"It's nothing dad."

"This has something to do with your Vulcan, doesn't it?"

She almost dropped the PADD.

"My Vulcan?"

"Your Vulcan. You didn't really think you could pull one over on me, did you?"

"I don't know what you're talking about."

He leveled her with a look, and her protest died in her throat. She should know better than to think she could get one over on him by now.

"I believed you when you said that photo hadn't captured anything inappropriate, but I know you. I know you've been spending a lot of time at that Vulcan Embassy, even after your so-called job with them ended. That tells me you're seeing that Vulcan more than professionally."

She surprised herself by spilling out the entire story. He listened quietly, not saying a word until she finished. She felt almost relieved to actually be able to tell someone what was going on for a change.

"Well, it sounds like quite a problem, I'll give you that much."

"It's not a problem; he's just off his rocker! He had no right to put a bond in place without asking me!"

"I can't say I disagree with that. He should have talked to you about it first. But I think you're forgetting one important thing Baby Girl. He's a Vulcan."

"I know that!"

"I don't think you do. I think you've managed to forget just how foreign vulcans are, since it sounds to me like he's been doing a lot of things the human way for you. Vulcans don't think like we do. I can't say I know too much about them, but nothing I've heard indicates that they casually date people the same way we do. Judging from how seriously they take everything, I'd expect that they take their relationships just as seriously. And I'm sure that, considering the relationship you guys had, it was perfectly logical for him to believe that you'd eventually get married, so it was perfectly logical in his mind to just go ahead and create this bond and solve a PR problem at the same time. They're not like us, Amanda, and you can't expect them to be."

That definitely wasn't what she'd expected to hear from her father. She'd expected him to fly off the handle at the news that she'd had an intimate relationship with a man older than him. Why wasn't he more pissed off about this? Shouldn't he be planning to skin Sarek alive, instead of rationalizing what he'd done?

"I can't say I'm happy you've been sleeping with this guy, Amanda. I'd have expected you to show a little more sense than that. But you're a smart girl, and you chose to sleep with him, so you're just as much to blame for that. I'm not going to kill a man for what was a mutual decision."

"What's wrong with him that I shouldn't sleep with him?" she demanded indignantly. Her father snorted, but smiled affectionately down at her.

"How can someone so smart be so dumb?" he asked himself before he decided to answer her.

"Hey!"

"What's wrong with him is that he obviously had very different ideas about where the two of you were headed, and you didn't bother to find that out. If you had the common sense God gave a goat you would have thought to make sure that you both wanted the same things BEFORE you jumped into bed with him."

"He—we—I—"

"Very eloquent defense there, Baby Girl."

He was laughing at her; she could see it all over his face. But at least it wasn't her mother, who would have started yelling two seconds into her story and would still be yelling. Amanda hated to admit it, but maybe her father did have a point. They'd never discussed where they thought the relationship was going; how was he supposed to know she had no plans of ever getting married when she never mentioned it?

"Regardless of what we did or didn't talk about, he had no right to create a bond! And he just expects me to say it's alright that we're technically married?!"

"You can't be technically married, Amanda. That's like technical virginity. It doesn't exist. You're either married or you're not, and it sounds like, to vulcans at least, you are. And hiding out up here isn't going to fix that problem."

SA-SA-SA-SA

Sarek looked up at the house, then double-checked the address he'd been given. He was at the correct residence. Following his aide's advice, he had not immediately gone after Amanda. He'd spent the time ensuring that his affairs were in order, so that he would be undisturbed. Now that he was at her home, he was reluctant to leave his vehicle. He was unsure of what to say to her. Would she be any more receptive to what he said? Would she be more willing to listen than she was before?

He did not see anyone moving about. Perhaps she was not home? Should he wait for her return? He was not likely to have the time to come back to Canada before he returned to Vulcan. If he returned to the embassy he was very likely to be pulled into business. It seemed logical to wait, and yet it was so cold. Vulcans were not suited for cold weather; he could possibly freeze before anyone returned.

"Sitting out here staring at the house isn't going to help you."

He started at both the voice and the knock on his car door. Had he really been so preoccupied that he'd failed to notice the human man's approach? He took in the man's appearance. The human looked to be older than Senator Carter, and there was a strong physical resemblance to Amanda. He concluded that he was likely interrupted by Amanda's father.

"I am Sarek, ambass—"

"I know who you are," the human interrupted. "And I can hazard a guess why you're here. What I haven't made up my mind about yet is whether I want to let you into my house to talk to my daughter."

A second look at the human revealed details that Sarek hadn't noticed at first glance; mainly, that the human was armed. He recognized the antique weapon as a shotgun. Was the man inclined to use it? Sarek decided that he must tread carefully; it would be unwise to anger the man.

"I must speak with Amanda. It is of great importance. I believe there has been a misunderstanding that must be put right."

"I'd say there was a misunderstanding alright."

"She has told you?"

"She did. And I'd say you messed up big time. That was one hell of an assumption you made, mister."

"It was reasonable, given the nature of our relationship."

Amanda's father gestured with his shotgun for Sarek to climb out of his vehicle, which he did. The human staring at him made him uncomfortable, but he returned the stare and did not flinch.

"I never thought I'd be asking this of a Vulcan, but just what are your intentions towards my daughter? From what I know you're more than twice her age."

"Age is immaterial. Vulcan's prize mental compatibility above all else."

"So you took my daughter to bed for her mind? You really expect me to believe that?"

He looked ready to make use of his weapon, so Sarek hurried to correct him.

"My intentions towards Amanda were entirely honorable. If she told you what transpired between us then you will know that I fully intended to court her until she agreed to bonding with me. I wished her to become my wife. I bonded us as I did because to not have a relationship with her was intolerable."

Brian Grayson watched Sarek intently as he spoke. He'd been shocked to see a car coming up the driveway, and even more shocked to see the Vulcan behind the controls. He'd never given thought to the idea that the Vulcan might come after Amanda, not after the fight she said they'd had. He had to give the vulcan credit for having the guts to come up to Canada in the winter, when he was used to desert heat. It spoke to either an overdeveloped sense of obligation, or more attachment than Amanda had led him to believe existed.

"You know she's just going to tell you to go to Hell. She's not going to let you get through the front door."

It was strange, to say the least; Brian couldn't detect a single change in Sarek's expression, and yet at the same time the Vulcan seemed to deflate before his very eyes. That made up his mind. He couldn't remember Amanda ever being so invested in a guy that she was upset about the break-up before now. Sarek, for all that he'd done wrong in this debacle, had done what Brian had started to think no man was going to do for his genius daughter; make her feel something that she couldn't rationalize away. The Vulcan was good for her, and it looked like she affected him the same way. Whatever did or didn't happen after today, Sarek at least deserved to have a chance to tell Amanda what he'd just told him.

"Come with me," Brian ordered, gesturing to the house. "Luckily everyone else is out shopping, so she's in there alone. You'll have privacy to talk."

He led the way into the house and ordered Sarek to wait in the living room. Amanda was surprised by his order to come downstairs, but down she came, and froze when she saw who was waiting for her.

"What the hell is he doing here?" she hissed at her father.

"He's here to talk. And you're going to listen. You owe that to both of you. I'll be in the kitchen if you need me."

She gaped at him as he just left her standing in the room with the Vulcan she currently wanted to strangle. Sarek took a single step towards her as soon as they were alone, but seemed to think better of it.

"What do you want?"

"Why did you leave? You gave me no chance to explain—"

"You explained it plenty. You decided to put some damn bond in my head that I never asked for and certainly never agreed to, and now you think I'm supposed to be okay with being married to you?!"

"You are angry."

"No shit I'm angry. You don't get to just decide something like that!"

"Should I have thought you did not intend to make our relationship permanent, based on your conduct?"

Her mouth dropped open. Did he really think that just because their relationship had gotten intimate, she meant to marry him? And just like that, her resolve to be completely rational flew out the window. What, did he think that this was the 1950s?

"Look, Sarek, I know that you do things differently on Vulcan, but here we don't get married just because we sleep together. And maybe we should have talked about this first, but I don't plan on ever getting married. You can't make me marry you just because you put some bond in my head!"

Sarek did not understand. She didn't intend to ever marry? Then how to explain her conduct? Why would she accept a relationship with him if she did not-was not a relationship such as theirs a precursor to formal bonding? He had understood courtship to be a human tradition before their marriage. Why would she engage in such a relationship if she did not have the same end in mind?

He was searching for the correct response when he noticed what he really should have noticed before. Amanda's scent was not the same. There was something different about it. He inhaled carefully, and noticed the sickly-sweet scent of hormones generally only connected with pregnancy. They were faint, but they were definitely there. Amanda was pregnant?

His mind immediately began to catalogue every one of their sexual encounters. They had not discussed the possibility of pregnancy, but he knew that he had not used any form of preventive measure. Amanda had never disclosed whether she used contraceptives. It was entirely possible that she was pregnant, and indeed probable judging from the presence of those hormones.

"You are pregnant."

She actually laughed at that declaration. He could not see the humor in the situation. She did not believe that she carried his child.

"This is not humorous, Amanda. You carry my child."

"Oh come off it, Sarek. That's not even funny. There's no way I'm pregnant."

"Are you unable to conceive?"

Amanda finally stopped laughing when she realized Sarek was serious. She did some quick calculations in her head. She'd had to reschedule her appointment with her doctor when the doctor came down with Mulvaren Mud fleas after a trip off planet. As a result she had missed her contraceptive shot. It was entirely possible, physically, for her to have gotten pregnant.

She shook her head violently. Even if it was possible, there was just no way she was pregnant. She would know if she was, damn it! She would know it! But why would Sarek lie about something that was so easy to prove or disprove? All she had to do was take a pregnancy test. Oh God in heaven, what if he wasn't lying? What if he was telling the truth?

"While pregnancy hormones may be undetectable to humans, they are not undetectable to vulcans. You are pregnant. And you will need to be examined by a healer immediately to monitor the health of the child."

"Bullshit."

"I fail to understand how the reference to bovine excrement is applicable to this situation."

"This is ridiculous!"

"This is quite serious Amanda."

His concern grew as she appeared close to hysteria. She did not seem to be taking this seriously. She turned her back to him, and her step faltered. He quickly grasped her arm and spun her around so that she did not fall. She would have to be more careful now that she had to be concerned with more than herself. A close observation showed that she appeared thinner than usual. The circles under her eyes indicated a loss of sleep.

"You must take better care of yourself, Amanda."

"Don't tell me what to do!"

"You cannot neglect your health. You are in need of rest."

"I'm in need of your absence!"

"I cannot leave you in this state. There is still much that must be decided."

Amanda jerked free of his grip and stormed outside. She couldn't believe the nerve of the man! How dare he come here after what he did, drop a bombshell like that, and then have the gall to make demands! She leaned on the porch rail, fuming, but light-headed. She cursed herself for skipping breakfast, and supper the night before. She genuinely hadn't had an appetite since coming back to Canada, but that was no excuse for not eating.

"Amanda—"

"Go away, Sarek!"

She couldn't deal with this right now. She really couldn't. She gripped the railing tightly and closed her eyes.

"You are not well."

"I'll be fine as soon as you go away and leave me alone."

"I cannot—"

His words were cut off by Amanda's collapse. His reflexes ensured that he caught her before she could fall. This was not acceptable. He could not allow her to neglect herself. She was his mate; it was his duty to see that she was well taken care of. He would not fail her. He quickly scooped her up into his arms and carried her out to his car. They were not far from the spaceport where his transport awaited him. Once they were on Vulcan there would be healers and servants to see to her needs, during those times he could not be with her because of his obligations.