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The arboretum was a peaceful place after a day spent piloting a starship through uncharted space. Hikaru Sulu retreated to the arboretum often, both to tend to his own plants (if he hadn't been so intent on becoming a starship captain, he might have been a botanist) and to admire the many other botanical wonders on display. Some were plant specimens the crew of the Enterprise had collected from distant worlds; others were projects, botanical experiments developed for medicinal purposes, for food production, to prevent a plant's extinction, or just to create something beautiful.

A lovely rose plant caught Sulu's eye one evening, its flowers varying shades of soft lavenders and subtle pinks - a pretty, feminine plant. He walked over and read the label on the plant's container.

Rosa vulcanis.

Vulcanis? As he began to ponder the implications of the name, he heard someone approach.

"Good evening, Mr Sulu."

"Good evening, sir."

To Sulu's eye Spock looked relaxed, his back not so stiff, his hands clasped loosely behind him. Sulu felt bold enough to ask the question.

"Is this your plant, sir?" Spock's eyebrow rose. "I saw the species classification and made the... logical deduction."

The corners of Spock's lips curled almost imperceptibly. "Indeed." Sulu had the ridiculous notion that Spock was amused.

The Vulcan glanced around the room, empty but for themselves, and seemed to pause for thought before he spoke again, his voice soft and deep. "My mother has roses on Vulcan, plants she transported from her home on Earth. They need a great deal of care and nurturing to survive in Vulcan's harsh climate," -- he reached out to touch the rose petals -- "but they endure nonetheless."

Sulu wondered why he felt that Spock was speaking of more than roses.

Spock continued, "I have spent the last two-point-six months developing this plant, with a goal to producing a species capable of thriving naturally on Vulcan, without the necessity for as much intervention as is required for the roses in my mother's garden. I have had some success; the conditions within this growing chamber are Vulcan-norm - and the plant thrives."

Sulu noted Spock's use of the word 'some' and the tiny knot forming in the Vulcan's brow.

"But not total success, sir?"

"No." The muscles in Spock's jaw visibly tensed. "I had to introduce elements of a Vulcan species." His voice dropped even lower. "I had hoped to avoid that."

In a flash of insight, Sulu chose his next words carefully. "Crossbreeding typically produces better plants - hardier and more resilient than either parent species. The best of both worlds." He side-eyed the Vulcan, seeing the hooded expression. "I think your mother would be pleased to have something that combines the best of Earth and Vulcan."

"Perhaps."

Sulu changed tack. "Have you thought of a name? Most roses have a common name, not just a botanical one."

"I have," said Spock, heading for the door.

It hung in the air between them. Amanda.

 



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