Chapter One: Burgoyne & Selar
Selar stared at the desert in the middle of Burgoyne's living room, then looked in astonishment at the Hermat. She held their child close to her, looked as if she wanted to say something, said nothing, and instead looked back at the desert.
"Too much?" inquired Burgoyne solicitously.
Cautiously Selar walked the perimeter of the red desert sands. She felt heat radiating from the sands. A heat lamp above gave a fair approximation of a desert sun. "This," she said slowly, "is insane."
Burgoyne looked rather surprised. "I don't know why you would say that."
"Why I would say that?" The Vulcan doctor had walked around the desert and wound up back next to Burgoyne. The infant, Xyon, cooed blissfully. "Burgoyne...there is a desert...in the living room. Why is there a desert in the living room?"
"Not enough space in the den."
"That is not the point," Selar said with forced patience.
"Yes, I suspected it wasn't," Burgoyne admitted. "You don't like it?"
"That is also not the point. It has nothing to do with like or dislike. The question is why you felt a need to construct a replica of a desert in a room normally reserved for matters of socialization."
"I do not recall asking you to construct such a thing."
"Yes, I know you didn't ask. I was doing it to try to make you feel at home."
Selar let out a long, patient, and -- ultimately -- emotionless sigh. "Burgoyne," she said finally, "we need to talk."
"All right," Burgoyne said reasonably. S/he went to a chest of drawers and pulled out a couple of large blankets. This action puzzled Selar somewhat, but things were quickly made clear when Burgoyne spread the blankets out on the sand and dropped down onto one of them. S/he patted the other one, indicating that Selar should take a seat next to hir. Selar was sorely tempted to remain standing, but decided that matters would be simpler if she just humored the Hermat for a while. So she sat on the blanket that was a few inches away from Burgoyne.
Burgoyne looked quite ready to listen to anything that Selar was prepared to say. "Go ahead," s/he prompted.
"Burgoyne," she said slowly, "first, I should acknowledge the efforts to which you have gone. Obviously, you are aware that my native Vulcan is somewhat arid and desert-like in many places. Unlike the other Starfleet personnel who are taking advantage of the cooling-off period, you have chosen not to reside in San Francisco, in proximity to the Academy. Instead, you have obtained this lovely residence here in Nevada, on a stretch of territory that is not unlike Vulcan."
"I wanted to make you comfortable."
"I know. Your attention to my comfort and to any desires that I either might have, or that you think I might have, has been very..." She cast about in her mind for the right word. "Flattering," she finally settled on. "And I have been willing to accommodate your endeavors because...frankly, I had not developed a workable strategy to the contrary. However -- "
"However what?" s/he prompted. "You can tell me anything, Selar. You know that."
"No. I do not know that," Selar replied. "There are many things that I cannot tell you because it is a waste of time. There are things that you do not wish to hear, and, therefore, you tend not to hear them."
"What sort of things? I'm listening now."
"Burgoyne..." She drew a deep breath. "I do not love you."
"Yes, you do," Burgoyne said cheerily.
Selar let the breath out, shaking her head. "You see?"
"Yes, I do see. I see that you're afraid -- "
"No. I am not afraid." She rose and walked around the interior desert, shaking her head in a combination of frustration and amusement. "I am Vulcan. I am logical. I am able to put the reasonable aspects of a relationship ahead of any foolish emotional entanglements. And, logically, it is utterly unreasonable to think that any long-term relationship between us could work."
"Excuse me, Selar," Burgoyne said, indicating the child who was happily burbling on the blanket, "but we already have a long term commitment, and that's him. He's as much my child as he is yours."
Selar was silent.
"I said, 'He's as much -- '"
"I heard you, Burgoyne," she said softly. "My hearing is quite acute, as I am sure you are aware."
Burgoyne leaned back against the nearest wall, watching Selar with open confusion. "Are you disagreeing?" s/he asked. There was something in hir tone that seemed vaguely warning.
"The child has Vulcan ears, and the face is of a generally Vulcan cast. As for his reproductive system..."
"He is singularly male. Yes, I know."
She raised an eyebrow. "You say that with a hint of regret."
Burgoyne's lips thinned. "You keep talking about how you know nothing about emotions, Selar. About how above them you are. So, if it's all the same to you, don't start attributing emotions to how I say things, considering you claim to be unfamiliar with them."
"Very well," she said. "The point is...your genetic contribution seems minimal to nonexistent."
"I'm still his father."
"And for that, you will always have my gratitude. But -- "
"Gratitude," Burgoyne interrupted her, snorting disdainfully. "You know, Selar, I'm starting to wonder if you know the meaning of the word."
"Gratitude. Noun. An appreciative awareness or -- "
"That's not what I mean and you know it!" It seemed as if Burgoyne's meticulously crafted control was starting to erode. Selar couldn't help but think that if Burgoyne was in some sort of "competition" to see who could keep themselves reserved longer, s/he didn't have a prayer. S/he was pacing furiously.
Still sitting on the floor, Xyon's attention was now caught by hir, and he watched hir as s/he moved back and forth.
"How much more do I have to be there for you? I was there for you when you were in the grip of pon farr. I was there for you, for emotional support, during your pregnancy. I saved your life -- "
"Burgoyne, I know that -- "
"Saved your life!" s/he shouted over her. "I was so linked into your mind that I fought monsters and kept you alive so that you could give birth to our son in a hostile environment -- "
"Technically, it was a single monster, not plural."
"I care. We might as well be precise."
Burgoyne covered hir face with hir hands. "Selar...does it matter whether it was one monster, two, or twenty? The point is, you owe me your life, and the life of Xyon."
"I am very well aware of that," Selar said reasonably. "But what did you expect of me, Burgoyne? Did you believe that I would come to love you because of those things?"
"I believed that, at the very least, you wouldn't reject me out of hand."
"It is not out of hand. It is..."
"What? What is it?"
Selar looked away. "Burgoyne...you want me to give something of which I am not capable."
"I don't believe that," Burgoyne said firmly. "I don't believe that you're incapable of love. Incapable of acknowledging that you are capable, perhaps, but that's as far as I'll take it." S/he shook hir head in exasperation. "You know what? I'm starting to wonder why I even bother."
"As am I," Selar said reasonably. "What did you think was going to happen here, Burgoyne?" She steadied herself. "It is my fault. You see, Burgoyne...I was operating out of gratitude. Believe it or not," she added dryly.
"Let's just say I'm skeptical," Burgoyne said, but s/he sounded uncertain.
"I agreed to come out here, to reside with you in this domicile, because I believed that you were...entitled in some way. That, after everything you had been through in connection with me and this child -- "
"Yes. Xyon." She frowned. "I know his name."
"That may be, but you never say it. You just say, 'this child.' You should refer to him by his name. It's as i