"Far From Here"
Disclaimer: None of it's mine. I'm just a sad little fangirl that spends her days writing fanfic and watching taped episodes of her favorite shows. Sad, isn't it? :(
Description: Young Sarek learns to open himself to the possibility.
The Vulcan youth approached the elderly woman with reverence and care, some would say with more respect than the eccentric female was due. The young boy had heard what was spoken about the woman among discrete elders; those who listened knew of her story.
He was fascinated to see Vulcan, people and culture alike, so nearly abandon this woman, one of their own. Their silent shunning seemed illogical to him, for every instance he had seen her, in passing or in the news, she comported herself like a consummate Vulcan. For her past transgression, the sin for which she was cast aside and looked at with disapproval, there was no outward evidence of contamination of her sheer 'Vulcanness'. It was highly illogical, and the boy was intrigued to learn.
His father at first found his son's curiosity of the unclean, tainted woman highly irregular and reasoned with the boy to dissuade his interest. The young man at last had to delineate the logic of his curiosity to his father... the Vulcan woman, the shunned one, was called upon every time the Terran delegation came to their planet or called for Vulcan representatives at an off-world summit. For this alone the woman would emerge from her solitude, arrayed in robes of the highest maintained care, and for the lifespan of diplomacy she was accepted and allowed to bleed back into the fold of Vulcan councils. For matters of politics, particularly with the humans, she was honored and revered.
For the young boy's fascination with diplomacy, a venture the father supported in his child, his father allowed his son's interest in the woman to persist. He had gone so far as to allow and encourage his son's current actions as the boy found himself scaling the steep pathway toward the small home carved into a canyon-side.
The woman sat facing the distant shape of Mount Seleya. Her posture was trained and erect, despite the weight of age upon her. Mediation robes were folded around her, pooling to the dusty floor and concealing her shape in a gentle slope of woven fabric. White hair was immaculately in place, resisting dishevelment when a soft, hot wind from the dry valley below rose to ruffle a few strands by stubbornly returning to their place against her head. Sharp wrinkles radiated from her deep brown eyes and bracketed her mouth. The few bold Vulcans who spoke of her dared, on rare occasions, to accuse some of those prominent wrinkles of being 'laugh-lines'. It was spoken with as much disapproval and disgust as a self-respecting Vulcan would permit, but the pejorative intent was no less intense.
The boy neared her then and, when he was certain she was aware of his presence, assumed the proper position of a child to a highly-esteemed elder. He folded his hands behind his back and lowered his gaze, black-haired head drooping to wait in silence for the woman to recognize him. It was a matter of pride how long a child could stand perfectly still, perfectly quiet and calm, waiting to be acknowledged.
He expected to wait at least until the dipping Vulcan sun completed its retreat behind Seleya, but he had barely stood there long enough to draw three breaths when a roughened yet soft voice broke the silence.
"Many would say your displays of respect are wasted upon this one."
The boy looked up to find the aged Vulcan woman continuing to sit perfectly still, unmoved but for the fact she now faced him, alert eyes settled on him.
"I would not presume to let others dictate whom I think deserves respect."
The Vulcan woman regarded him a moment, quiet, then pulled her hand from the folds of her robes and patted the ground beside her. "Come and sit with me."
The boy blinked. It was a gesture unfamiliar to a Vulcan; never in his life had anyone beckoned him to their side with such a gesture.
After only a second's hesitation he stepped forward, drawing as close to the old woman as he felt comfortable, as Vulcan propriety permitted, and lowered himself to the ground gracefully, folding slim legs before him and looking toward the silhouette of Mount Seleya, growing increasingly red-bathed in the setting sun.
The two sat in silence a long while, watching the dipping sun, and it was not uncomfortable. Vulcans often shared long stretches of contemplative silence, but perhaps it should have been unusual for it was normally an action shared between close acquaintances. Certainly a boy and old woman who had never spoken to one another before should not share such companionable proximity.
"Tell me your name."
The boy looked at last away from Seleya to rest his gaze upon the old woman. She was still watching the sun but her attention was clearly on him.
"I am Sarek, son of Solkar."
The woman nodded gravely, as if such information was telling, then she turned her eyes to him.
"What brings you to my dwelling when so many would call this action questionable, Sarek?"
Sarek was unsure how to proceed at first, uncertain how to respect the privacy of this woman while at the same time learning what he'd come to learn.
The old woman raised one eyebrow fractionally at him. The same look from his father was a sign of wearing patience, but on this face it was not so demanding a gesture.
"I came to ask you a question, Revered One."
The woman's brow returned to its place over her dark eyes, lips tightening only barely as she returned, "Ask your question, young Sarek, but know that while I might possess the answer it does not mean that it is also wisdom."
Sarek went mute, trapped looking at the old woman.
After a long minute of silence the woman spoke. "Ask your question and leave it for me to choose the correctness of your curiosity."
Sarek took a short breath, Vulcan etiquette screaming at him inside his thoughts, and he dared to confront this woman as he would never think to address his father or mother. "It is said that once, long ago, you were bonded to a human."
Sarek expected shadows of insult and perturbation on the woman's face for his audacity to pry into her private life, but there was only a vacancy to her expression. The unreadable expression grew flushed red in the darkening toward night.
"That's not a question, and I do not think you traveled this distance to tell me such a thing."
Sarek looked down, abashed to have behaved so improperly. "Forgive me, Revered One. I should rephrase that I have two questions, then."
"Will each thing you say propagate into an additional question? If so, you have initiated a conversation that cannot end."
Sarek would never go so far as to smile, but inwardly he was amused.
"No, Revered One, but the question I came to discuss with you will be irrelevant if the facts as I understand them are wrong. Necessarily, my first question will need to be a confirmation of information."
The woman nodded, pensive, then her voice intoned serenely, evenly, "It is true what you have heard, the thing for which I have received disfavor among the Vulcan people. Once, a long time ago, I was intimate with a human."
Sarek quelled any reaction to that, to confirmation of the illicit rumor, then he bowed his head in deference and said, "Then my question, if I may be so presumptuous, Revered One, is to inquire... I have heard many things about the human race, their irrationality, their emotional reactivity, and I come to ask since it is true, how is it possible for a Vulcan to align themselves with a creature such as this?"
Sarek could almost swear, for a microsecond, that the corners of her mouth twitched toward a smile, but before anything was realized she was a picture of model Vulcan composure. Instead she was looking at him, studying him, assessing his earnestness and sincerity.
When Sarek passed her scrutiny the woman's voice drifted over the twilight air. "Have you ever spoken with a human, Sarek? Worked alongside one or experienced their nature first-hand?"
"No, I have not. One day I hope to enter into the ambassadors' council, but as yet I have not met a human face-to-face."
With a slow nod the woman returned, "You must take caution with the appraisal of human nature you hear from your elders, Sarek. There are not many Vulcans who have interacted with humans long enough to begin to understand their minds, their motivations. They are truly intricate, complex creatures. Complexities that do, to Vulcan senses, appear at first as tumultuous chaos. Their emotions are strong and to our standards unchecked, but 'though it is madness there be method in 't'."
Sarek frowned infinitesimally.
The woman did not address his fluttering confusion, instead intoned, "Humans are beings beyond what most Vulcans will allow themselves to see. I confess that to understand a human a Vulcan must look long and hard at the sands of a dust-storm before form arises from the winds."
Sarek digested this, mulled it over, then asked, "But to come to understand another life form, indeed to discover the inherent order to anarchy within them, does not say how one of our kind could... connect to one as you have been said to have done."
The woman looked toward him and Sarek continued, "Forgive me, Revered One, but if you took one as a bond-mate, if you shared your mind with a human, how did you tolerate the disorder and emotion to be found therein?"
"You believe I should have gone mad from such contact with chaos?"
Sarek nodded. "I would think it would be inevitable... there are some who say that you did."
The woman nodded again, untroubled by the old stories she knew so well, and said, "Sarek... look out there."
Sarek followed the woman's direction and turned his eyes out to the desert expanse, gaze lighting upon a S'ltet glider, a winged creature native to Vulcan and no bigger in body-size than an adult Vulcan's palm while its wing-span could stretch nearly the length of an entire Vulcan arm.
"The S'ltet has mastered the Vulcan desert, its winds and storms, with uncanny skill and efficiency. Before a storm comes it knows it will come, and it knows the severity of the winds that will accompany it, and when the winds rise the S'ltet rides the updrafts and thermals with prescience that even the most dedicated Vulcan planetologist has not been able to approach."
Sarek watched the S'ltet seemingly fall like death only to rise again on an invisible wind, all without a flutter of its massive wings. "It is a most impressive creature of the sands. Their prediction of such fine, unruled details is most commendable."
The woman nodded. "They are adapted to a storm always, and the S'ltet has bonded through time with the forever unknown. They make love to the desert."
Sarek's eyes jerked quickly to the woman for the very un-Vulcan comment, mind at once sharp to what it could mean.
The woman, for her part, was untouched by his shock at her choice of words. "Humans are like that, Sarek. Their wild emotions are the storm and they the S'ltet. What to us is disorder and chaos to them is a natural rhythm, perhaps one that will always be beyond the reach of Vulcan comprehension, but a S'ltet does not need a Vulcan's understanding to ride the wind."
Sarek watched the S'ltet flip and cavort in the air, most likely to attempt capture of an airborne insect, and the winged animal righted and resumed flight without a bobble, the entire maneuver appearing as one motion, one of the few creatures the old poets long dead had endeavored to capture in word.
The woman sighed softly, as good as a huge sagging exhalation to a Vulcan, and she said, "The answer to your question, young Sarek, is this: yes, it was strange for me at first to experience the chaos of my human bond-mate's mind, but I was not left alone in such confusion. He was there and he knew the patterns and he took me with him and for the time he was alive together we rode the winds."
Sarek was quiet a time, sitting in still easy company with the woman, then he asked, "Do you regret exposing yourself to it?"
The woman, her face nearly lost in the descending darkness of night, turned to look again at him and she shook her head. "I do not. I am ill thought of among my own people for that more than the truth of once bonding with a human. I do not regret his emotions, his mind... on the contrary, I miss them."
Sarek felt distinctly uncomfortable at the admission but he was unable to pull himself away, intrigued. A notion so alien to a Vulcan... immersing oneself in an emotional storm and feeling the mastery of such chaos. He could not dislodge the thought from his mind.
The woman's voice took him off guard when she said, "You should return home, young Sarek. The night grows late."
Sarek at once stood, a knee-jerk response to an elder's request, spurred by politeness. He turned to go but froze, burning with one last question.
"Ask it, Sarek."
Sarek didn't feel the burning uncertainty of whether he would offend her or not when he blurted his query, "Do you believe others of our people will do as you have done? Will humans and Vulcans share minds and bodies so freely?"
The woman only thought for a few seconds. "I cannot think I will be the only one. There is much to be desired in humans from a Vulcan perspective, but there is also much in which we are lacking by the same comparison. There will be others, of that I have long been certain."
Sarek nodded, finding himself in some part agreeing with her.
"Thank you for your time with me, Revered One."
The boy turned back to her, waiting.
"Return in the future to tell me of your efforts to become a diplomat. Let me hear of your first meeting with a human, of your impressions of them. Mine will be the only ear that will not judge anything you might have to say."
Sarek had no doubt that was true and found himself welcoming the confidante, even if it was a woman so many times his senior.
"I shall, Revered One."
"And do not call me that, it is for someone who has adhered to proper Vulcan etiquette far more than I have... I would ask you to call me by my name."
Sarek nodded, not troubled to speak in so familiar a manner with an elder. "If that is what you wish, T'Pol."