About three things, I was absolutely positive. First: Sarek was a Vulcan. Second: There was a part of him — and i didn’t know how dominant that part might be — that found my kind utterly illogical and frustrating. And Third:, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him
As I examined them across the Vulcan Science Academy’s cafeteria, one of them looked up and met my gaze, this time with plain-spoken curiosity in an expression I could have sworn was unreadable to anyone else. As I looked swiftly away, it seemed to me that his glance held some kind of unmet expectation.
“Which one is the boy with the straight, slate-colored hair?” I asked. I peeked at him from the corner of my eye, and he was still staring at me, but without the disdain the other Vulcans had plainly written on their face — he had an ever-so-curious expression. I looked down again.
“That’s Sarek. He’s gorgeous, of course, but don’t waste your time. He doesn’t date. Apparently none of Terran girls are logical enough for him.” She sniffed, a clear case of sour grapes. I wondered when he’d turned her down.
I bit my lip to hide my smile. Then I glanced at him again. His face was turned back to the PADD he was holding and he was speaking to the Vulcan to his left, but I thought his eyebrow appeared lifted, as if he were smiling inside.
After a few more minutes, the four of them left the table together. They all were noticeably graceful — even the big, brawny one. It was unsettling to watch. The one named Sarek didn’t look at me again.
“It’s nightfall,” Sarek murmured, looking at the western horizon, obscured as it was by Mount Seleya. His voice was thoughtful, as if his mind were somewhere far away. I stared at him as he gazed unseeingly out of the hovercar’s windscreen.
I was still staring when his eyes suddenly shifted back to mine. His pupils had already dilated a bit in response to the rapidly-encroaching night.
“It’s the quietest time of day for Vulcans,” he said, answering the unspoken question in my eyes. “The easiest time to meditate and center ourselves. But also the most sobering in many ways… the end of another day, the return of the night. Darkness is so predictable on Earth, isn’t it? Your nights do not have dangers like the le-matya or dust storms along the Forge as the terminator crawls across the globe and the cool air collides with the warm ground.”
“I like the night. Without the dark, we’d never see the stars.” I frowned. “Not that you see them here much.”
His eyebrow went up slightly, and the mood abruptly lightened.
“Thank you. But there’s something else I feel should be mentioned.” Sarek didn’t frown, exactly. His mouth became a thinner line.
I waited patiently.
“He called you pretty,” he finally continued, his eyebrows furrowing ever so slightly. “That’s an understatement. You’re … very aesthetically pleasing at this moment.”
“You might be a little biased.”
“I do not believe that to be the case. Besides, I have excellent eyesight, like all of my people.”
We were twirling again, my feet on his as he held me close. “So are you going to explain the reason for all of this?” I wondered. He looked down at me, unreadable, and I glared meaningfully at the crepe paper.
He considered for a moment, and then changed direction, spinning me through the crowd to the back door of the gym. I caught a glimpse of T’pril and Stolok dancing, their heads cocked ever so slightly. Jessica waved, and I smiled back quickly. The slight Andorian Liari was there, too, looking blissfully happy in the arms of George Kirk; she didn’t look away from his eyes, a head above hers. T’lin and Soltar, T’pau, glaring toward us, with Tuval; I could name every face that spiraled past me. And then we were outdoors, in the still warm, yet dim light of a fading sunset on a world light-years from my native Earth.
“Nightfall.” I heard Sarek say quietly to himself.