Nightlily

This story is already on the archive of the Sarek and Amanda Yahoo group, but I wanted to have it here as well.

Summary: Amanda gives flowers as a gift and then receives some herself on Valentine's Day.


Amanda said she would take care of the flowers first.

It was too early for breakfast, Sarek was not even dressed yet. Besides, he wanted to look at some documents before leaving the house. And then, thought Amanda, what a morning – fresh like the mornings of her girlhood.

For so it had always seemed to her when she had burst open the windows and immersed herself into the Terran air. How fresh, how calm the air was in the morning; chilled and sharp and yet (for a girl of eighteen as she then was) solemn, as she felt, standing there at the open window, looking at the flowers, at the trees.

Having lived on Vulcan – how many years now? Almost twenty – one felt even in the middle of night a particular hush, or solemnity; a pause before striking the gong to welcome the morning. There! Out it boomed, together with so many others, their houses too far away to greet in person, but this moment of striking the gong at four in the morning, all at once, dissolving the darkness, telling each other: Here I am, I greet you. They loved life, Amanda was certain.

She had reached the garden. She stood for a moment, looking at her home illuminated by Vulcan's sister planet, before turning towards her garden.

There were flowers: mostly Vulcan in origin, some small, delicate, others with huge blossoms, rich in colour and texture; and roses, masses of roses. There were a few irises. Ah yes – she breathed in the sweet earthy smell before turning her attention to Nightlily. Mu-yor-svai, the Vulcan name, but she preferred to think of it by that English name she had come up with. So it had bloomed tonight.

The thought did not disappoint, nor excite her. Having waited for years now, the appearance of the first bud a few weeks ago had sent thrills through her whole body. But now, this completion of her work that should have been the reward for her efforts had left her oddly cold, empty somehow. She felt very young, and at the same time unbelievably aged.

Her thoughts turned to Sarek. Her oh-so-Vulcan husband. Unlike in a human marriage it was not necessary that everything be shared. There was the bond, for the assurance of their commitment to each other. And in a marriage, there must be a little independence between people living together day in day out in the same house; which Sarek gave her, and she him. Where was he going this morning for instance? Some committee, she never asked what. And she would be picking out a gift for T'Ris, who would be returning to Vulcan in a few days. Sarek might not even come along, insisting that it was not necessary. The shock of thinking that Sarek might not go with her made her shiver. She felt suddenly aged.

They could pass for a perfect Vulcan couple, the way they dealt with this. Acting as always, they completely avoided the topic. There was nothing either of them could do to change anything, after all...

He blamed her of course. She was the human parent. He had not said anything of the sort, but the tension between them persisted, even after months. A year, it had been one complete Vulcan year, 201 days, since Spock's departure. Amanda stopped working, blinking back tears.

Like she wanted him to live in constant danger, she wanted to shout at Sarek. But she could not deny that she understood it. She was adventurous, Sarek knew that. She had left her home world to live on an alien planet. And her son had inherited it from her, and Amanda liked that, liked the trait, as well as the similarity between them. There were not many, after all...

Worry crept up inside her again. She stopped watering the plants, eager to work with her hands, to exhaust her energies. Her son would not be back until summer. How long a Terran year lasts, she thought again.

She had received a call from him two days ago. He had sounded like he had wanted to get it over with, like it was an obligation. She would not be receiving a call from him for at least another week. And she did not want to call him, dreaded the thought that it might annoy him. He was 18 now, almost a man, but she missed him so. And then there was the cold of course. It was mid-February on Earth and if he was in the northern hemisphere...

Mid-February, Valentine's day. Today is Valentine's day on Earth, Amanda thought, and berated herself for the pang of excitement she had felt at the thought.

Sarek was already in the kitchen when she returned. "Good morning, Amanda," said Sarek, "You look refreshed."

"I love working in the garden," said Amanda. "Really, it's better than any exercise."

She joined her husband and soon they were seated at the table, Amanda having coffee again.

After all these years, thought Sarek, and she has remained the same. The many years spent on Vulcan might have changed her from that young girl, yet she was unaltered at the core.

Despite adopting the Vulcan lifestyle she always did something to never let you forget that she was human. Different. Like coffee, for example, and giving presents, which though not unheard-of on Vulcan was not done often. But everyone knew Amanda never came empty-handed.

"T'Ris is coming to Vulcan," said Sarek, while balancing various items in his hands, carrying them back to the kitchen.

"Oh yes, I remember. I still need to find a present for her," his wife replied between rushing to the dining room and back, bringing the remaining items.

"I will meet you in front of the academy after you finish work and we can go look for it," said Sarek, illogically satisfied with the look of surprise on his wife's face.

Never a conformist, always one part rebel, thought Sarek about Amanda, as he watched her rush out the door, again trying not to be late. Not that she would be, it was just that punctuality could not be taken for granted with her.

She had tried to adapt to life on Vulcan with such determination, Sarek remembered, out of her human need to fit in. But when she had reached the point when she could have been accepted into Vulcan society, she had started doing things that would inevitably stand out; create conflict. When he had asked her she had laughed and said that otherwise there would be nothing to disagree on and what would be the fun in that?

After all this time he still did not understand her fully. As peaceful as she was, as much as she lived by the laws, moral or otherwise, one part always remained that had to go against the rules. While they both saw the need for a military force, for him it was a necessary evil, something he wanted to keep away from as much as possible. Amanda on the other hand...

He would not go as far as claiming that she had liked Spock's choice, but she had understood it. Instead of discouraging him, had given him advice on how to deal with humans. And when she worried, then only for his safety, never for what he might have to do in the line of duty. He might have to kill, his vegetarian son who had outgrown violence since early childhood, or so he had thought. But Amanda considered it a part of life. No wonder that there were so many humans in Starfleet. Sometimes Sarek thought that humans could not exist without conflict.

These thoughts kept him occupied the whole day. They had been his companion for the last months, but now something else was troubling him as well. He realized he had been blaming her, when he knew perfectly well that it was not her fault. Spock was what he was, and he had made his decision. When the situation had been reversed, when Spock had chosen to live as a Vulcan, Amanda had not blamed him.

Sarek's mind recovered from its lethargy, set now on his wife, Amanda, and he had a sudden vision of her there at his meeting; of himself and Amanda; of their life together and he thought of her meeting him soon to look for T'Ris' present, all the while thinking about how it was Valentine's day.

He wanted to give her something; a present for Amanda. Only what? Flowers? Yes, flowers, cut flowers from Earth, he decided. Not that they did not have flowers in their garden, but this was different. They would be imported from Earth, kept in a stasis field. Surely, they would have to be thrown away in a couple of days. In essence, they would be watching dead plants decay, something entirely unheard-of on Vulcan. He left as soon as he could.

They had not spoken of anything important lately, because they never said anything about the one topic that was constantly on both their minds. Not for months had they spoken of it, which, he thought, entering the rather small shop that dealt with off-planet goods, is the greatest mistake. The time comes when it can't be said; one's too shy to say it, he thought, picking out a vast bunch wrapped in decorative paper and ordering it delivered to his address, to say straight out in so many words, when she saw the flowers, "I love you."

Why not? Here he was walking across Shi'kahr, to say to Amanda in so many words that he loved her. Which one never does say, he thought. Partly, there's the Vulcan lifestyle, looking for a logical reason for everything one does; partly one's shy.

It was late afternoon when he met her in front of the academy, and they strolled to the accumulation point of the small shops not too far away from there. First, they went looking for meditation lamps and candles. "Vulcans can never have too many of those," Amanda claimed. After that she decided to look for some gourmet food or drink, something that T'Ris had missed while away from Vulcan. Sarek mostly followed her around, only giving his opinion when asked and generally enjoying the stroll and Amanda's company more than the search for the present.

When they started walking back, it was already dark. Amanda had been unable to pick a present.

"I'm going to give her Nightlily," she said suddenly. She used the word "Mu-yor-svai" as they were talking in Vulcan but she thought "Nightlily".

Sarek looked at her, not trying to hide the surprise. "You have been waiting for it to bloom for 6.43 years."

That's about three and a half Terran years, thought Amanda, the conversion done almost subconsciously, long since used to the Vulcan calendar, yet still the need to think in Terran years persisted. "Oh! I forgot to tell you this morning. It bloomed last night. And it will make such a lovely present. It's tiny, so she will be able to carry around a piece of Vulcan wherever she goes."

The way Amanda has her roses from Earth, Sarek thought, then said: "You are emotionally attached to that flower. It will be too great a sacrifice for you."

"No, no, Sarek, it's not like that. You see, the wait was much more exciting than the actual bloom."

Amanda's brows furrowed. There was something that was bothering her, something that she had been thinking of since early morning. What had Sarek said that had added to that? Her presents! That was it. He did not understand them. But how was she going to explain? He thought that she enjoyed imposing herself; liked to show off how different she was; in short, liked to challenge the Vulcan way of life. Sarek thought it foolish of her to attach such importance to a rather mundane act. And he was quite wrong. What she liked was to create happiness.

What she meant by that was a little strange. She knew these people, someone in Shi'kahr, another from a neighbouring city, and then T'Ris, who did not even live on Vulcan. And she continuously felt a sense of their existence; and she felt it brought them together, this giving presents. It was an offering, her gift.

There was nothing else about her that was extraordinary. She loved success; hated discomfort; must be liked. One day followed another; one would wake up in the morning; see the sky; go to work.

And then there were those moments of happiness; it was enough.

She turned towards Sarek; smiled. "It will only bloom for a few days and then what? I realized I can't go back to treating Nightlily the way I did before. I used to check on it every time I worked in the garden. The excitement I felt before, that I might find a bud – The thought sent shivers through my body every time. I was just like this flower, or like a butterfly on Earth, waiting, working, for that short period of beauty, that was so longed for that it could not possibly live up to the expectations..."

Sarek looked thoughtful. Amanda was not sure if he understood her at all. And then there was that part of her that hurt to part from the flower, but the old had to go, change had to happen. In the end there was nothing like the momentary happiness that broke the monotony of life with colour. Like the happiness she would experience when giving the present, for being thought generous, for being thought an exceptional gardener. After all, even Vulcans had difficulties growing that particular plant. And also, the happiness at the obvious joy it would bring to T'Ris. Causing emotional responses in Vulcans, there was nothing quite like it...

There was a package delivered at their door. Amanda was surprised to find it there. She turned to Sarek to say as much, only to find that he was not surprised at all.

"Open it," he said.

What a surprise! The package contained cut flowers, delicately wrapped, obviously a present. For her? From Sarek? Sarek watched the realization sink in on her face. (But he could not bring himself to say he loved her; not in so many words.)

"But how lovely," she said, taking his flowers. She understood; she understood without his speaking; his Amanda.

"They will fade soon, but now they are pleasing to look at, and we will remember this instant with fondness," he said.

Maybe he did understand after all, Amanda thought, and realized that whatever happened, they were happy in that moment. Everything would be all right.