Title: Father's Day.
Characters: Spock, Sarek, and Amanda.
Rating: G - Suitable for all. Disclaimer: Paramount/Viacom owns these characters. I only write about them for my pleasure and not for profit.
Sarek watched his son eat in fascinated wonder. Spock had only lately progressed to using jom'ir and took such meticulous care to spill not even one morsel that it set Sarek's teeth on edge.
Once again he waited, breath held, as Spock manipulated the tapered stick-like utensils with chubby fingers. Only when the shaky consignment reached its intended destination did a sigh of relief escape his control.
The sound roused his young Human wife from her total absorption in their child.
Her smile as she regarded him was dazzling, alive with affection and delight, "Nerve wracking isn't it?"
"Indeed, Amanda," he twitched up his lips in the way he had learned pleased her. "It is an exhausting process merely as an observer. Our son appears to have abundant patience --- and an amiable constitution. I suspect that was not so true in my case at his age. He must have acquired the trait from thee, my most respected wife."
He saw her cheeks blush as she inclined her head, "Thank you, Husband. I am honored by thy courtesy."
"None was intended, my wife." Sarek refuted, "I simply spoke the truth."
She laughed - a quick, enchanting sound – and before Sarek could ready a defense against her reached across to plant a kiss upon his nose.
"Ni'rih." Sitting between them at the low table, Spock shrieked in joyous abandon, too young as yet to sublimate his emotions. He beamed at Sarek revealing all four teeth.
"Ni'rih," the boy crowed loudly a second time and walloped the jom'ir against the edge of his bowl.
Unable to restrain his son in time Sarek could only sit and watch as the bowl tipped - straight into his lap.
Amanda avoided his eye as she passed him a napkin, hastily suppressing a sound suspiciously like a chuckle, "I guess he's had enough …"
Impassive, Sarek mopped at the sticky mess that now stained his once immaculate robe. "It appears so."
Then, somewhere in the cool quiet depths of the house, a bell harmoniously chimed.
"Who can that be?" Amanda queried, gently reproving Spock's continued high spirits. "Would you go, Sarek? Or perhaps you'd rather see to your son ---?"
The child in question gurgled demonically around a fist crammed into his mouth.
Sarek did not hesitate. He rose nimbly from the floor cushion, "I will attend to it."
He headed for the archway that led into the sioan, the room fashioned in Tehr'n style where a videocom sat behind masking screens. The melodious chime pulsed again as he reached for the controls.
The operator's image appeared, a young woman. She inclined her head in courteous acknowledgement, "To the House of Kah-t'Sarek ansh'oine au T'phra, greetings. I have an important message for Lady Amanda from the Tehr'n Embassy."
"Wait one moment ---"
Amanda appeared both astonished and alarmed, "The Embassy, for me? What on Earth can they want?"
"Perhaps if thee were to take the call," Sarek suggested patiently, "All will become clear."
Amanda smiled, "A most logical suggestion, my husband."
She lifted Spock from his cushion and brushed her lips across his baby-soft hair. Sarek took him from her as she walked sedately into the hall. Affronted by such cavalier treatment from his mother, Spock's little body stiffened. He grasped his father by the nose and pulled the offending proboscis with all his childish strength until tears of acute distress welled in Sarek's eyes.
Not for the first time, Sarek decided that being a father was not his particular specialty. Children were all very well at a distance, he conceded, but close-up and in the flesh they were most disconcerting. Sometimes, if given the choice, he would much rather have confronted a room full of enraged le-matyas than be alone with his youngest son. Now, held at arms length, the child squirmed and wriggled, contorting his young body in various, startling ways in an effort to get free.
Sarek was not too displeased when Amanda returned at last and immediately took Spock back. Her arms wound about the boy clasping him to her. When she finally leaned back to look at him her face had lost its previous radiance.
Her lips trembled, "Sarek, my father's been injured. He's seriously ill."
"And thee desires to attend him, of course."
He placed a large, comforting hand upon her shoulder. . Gently, he led them all into the sioan where he placed Amanda in one of the large, comfortable, chairs imported from Earth. Spock sat quietly upon her lap as if he too, was aware of the subdued emotions that passed between his parents.
"Yes," She murmured slowly, "I must go to him."
After a moment, Sarek asked gently, "Tell me of the message, my wife."
Amanda swallowed hard. Sarek could see the effort she made to keep the tears at bay. "There was a traffic accident, a midair collision. Father got the worst of it. The Embassy said he's been asking for me. Oh, Sarek --- they can't do anything for him. He's going to die ---."
Sarek regarded her in silence knowing there were no words he could offer that would comfort her to any degree. He took her hand, allowing his own calm strength to filter through their mind bond. He understood the attachment that bound Amanda to her father even though millions of miles separated them. It was an obligation deeply ingrained in every Vulkhanir child, if not in every Human. Amanda must return home, there was no question about it.
He glanced at Spock who was now half asleep in his mother's arms, one thumb stuck delightfully if somewhat insanitary, in the corner of his mouth.
"There is a ship bound for Tehr'a in the morning, the She'mihr. I will arrange for an immediate passage."
"Thank you, Husband." Amanda dashed a tear from her cheek, "Perhaps your mother will take Spock while I'm away? Obviously, I can't take him with me. The climate, gravity and atmosphere of Earth will be too much for him while he's so young…"
Sarek raised an eyebrow. The possibility of leaving his child with T'Phra had already occurred to him - and been instantly dismissed. Spock at ten months was still far too exuberant and demonstrative to be given into the hands of his Vulkhanir grandmother. While Sarek fully appreciated her many excellent qualities, the staunch regard she held for the Vulkhanir Way would only reinforce her opinion that Amanda was an inappropriate person to raise his son. That opinion, he knew, was unwarranted. Spock had certainly not yet learned to control his childish elation but he was also unique and the usual training programmes had to be tailored for his use.
Sarek had complete faith that, in time, his son would become a model Vulkhanir child.
"Spock will remain with me, my wife."
Amanda managed a tremulous smile, "But your work, the Academy…?"
"My work can wait." He hesitated only a moment before he pulled her into his arms, the child cradled between them, "Thee and Spock are more important at this time."
There was nothing further to be said. They looked at each other for a moment above Spock's sleepy, dark head. Then, Amanda crushed her face into the hollow of his shoulder, allowing the grief to take her at last. Sarek could do no more than hold her gently, brushing her hair with his lips, consolingly murmuring her name.
Early the next morning they set out in the family sand-trekker to take Amanda to Space Central located a few miles from the city, and surrounded by desert.
It was spring, the month of Tuya, and the desert was at its most beautiful. Amanda, sat up front beside Sarek with Spock strapped in his baby seat in the back. She stared out the window of the vehicle, marveling at the stark beauty of red sands and frosted spires wrought by wind and harsh weather. Touched with the first rays of sunrise, a curtain of gossamer mist filtered the unforgiving light and tinged the mystical landscape in a silver glow - a scene that had impressed itself upon her memory from the moment she had first seen it.
Home, she thought suddenly as the truth finally became clear. Vulcan has become my home.
Without speaking, she reached to touch Sarek's knee where it pressed against her own. With tender concern he placed his hand over hers aware she knew, through the link they shared, of the conflicting emotions that tore at her heart.
Through touch he offered her the comfort she needed, a demonstration of affection he usually kept for when they were alone together. The only sound came from Spock who prattled away in a concoction of Vulcan and Tehr'n distracted by the scenery passing by outside the trekker. He had remained unusually subdued since their departure, no doubt responsive to the despondent atmosphere prevalent about him.
Their leave taking, once within the confines of Space Central, was necessarily far more formal. Many Vulkhanir eyes watched them with deceptive circumspection as they waited in the departure lounge for Amanda's flight to be called. She clung to Spock right up until the moment the flight computer announced the departure of her shuttle.
"Live long and prosper, my Adun."
"Mene sakkhet ur-sevah, Aduna. May thee return to us soon."
"Certainly, my husband," She offered him a restrained smile. "Take care of our son and remember --- he is only half Vulcan!"
"I suspect choice in that area will be limited, my wife."
That made her chuckle even as she fought against the tears that threatened to shame her, "I guess so ---"
She handed Spock over to his father. "May I kiss him goodbye, Husband?"
Sarek's hard mouth curved gently upwards at the corners, "Quickly then ---"
She stretched up on tiptoe as Spock leaned down, winding his arms around her neck, his eyes wide, darkened by fright
"M'aih…" He whispered desolately, though he did not cry, and planted a warm, wet kiss in her ear.
Amanda hugged him for a moment. "Be good my son. I shall return as soon as I can."
She pulled away, touched Sarek briefly on the lips with a fingertip and strode for the exit. Husband and son watched in silence as the shuttle sped up into the burnished, ochre sky and finally disappeared from view.
"Ni'rih," Crestfallen, Spock patted his father delicately on the cheek with one chubby fist, a dimpled finger exploring the tempting curve of the pointed ear that was so much like his own. It was the first word Amanda had taught him to say; the Vulkhanir equivalent of 'daddy' and with a precocious understanding of his supposedly emotionless father, Spock now used it to advantage. "M'aih gone …"
Sarek had little defense against the soft plea, yet he was unable to console the boy the way Amanda would have done. With a calming breath, he returned to the sand-trekker eager to get home.
When they eventually stepped through the doorway and entered the hall, the house had that peculiarly desolate air that only became apparent when one of the chief occupants was missing. Sarek paused with Spock in his arms listening to the empty silence, knowing that it would not feel the same until Amanda filled it once more with her singular presence. The illusion of emptiness however was soon shattered as a shaggy ball of fur burst into the hall from behind them and thrust exuberantly with a broad, dry nose at Sarek's upper thigh.
"'Chiya," Spock cooed, wriggling to be put down. "Chiya, Ni'rih. Good boy …."
The old sehlat rumbled contentedly as the boy wound his arms as far as they would reach around the broad neck, burying his face in the thick fur, unafraid even though the animal towered over him. Sarek looked down at them both, his hand caressing one silken ear, conscious of the serene comfort the aged pet was projecting to them as it sensed their loss. The man as well as the child did not resist that calm warmth as it flowed over them. But, at last, Sarek collected himself, aware that he had duties and responsibilities to execute. Taking his small son by the hand, he led the way into the sai'en, the cooking-place, with the big sehlat plodding respectfully at their heels.
The room was large, severe in design, with few of the appliances a human woman would have considered necessary. There was a refrigeration unit, a tiny oven and charcoal brazier as well as the recent addition of a mechanical selector.
Amanda, Sarek recognized, had found their methods of preparing food strange and difficult during those early months of their bonding but, eventually, she had learned to organize the customary fare with great success. Cooking, simple as it was without the great variety of foodstuffs common on other worlds, was still regarded as an art and a discipline, one of the many Ways of T'lala, an expression of the deeper self. To rely on mechanical equipment in whole or part of that preparation was perceived by many as an affront, a willful obliteration of the significance manual provision held. The cooking and sharing of food was part of a Tradition handed down to them from the Beginning and thus assumed an importance that was hard to define to any but a trueborn Vulkhanir. Amanda voiced the opinion that it seemed a double standard, considering the high level of technology that was prevalent on Vulkhanir, a view that Sarek had refuted, of course. Where a machine was a logical extension of one's own talents or intellect it was employed with alacrity and enthusiasm, whether it be a fusion oven or a sophisticated computer system. Allowing oneself to become subservient to a device, conversely, was to weaken the dexterity of both mind and body.
He had assured Amanda that as soon as she had mastered the skills of being a wife in the Vulkhanir Way then, if she still preferred it, there would be all the appliances she wished. However, to his greater satisfaction, she had remained content. It had been his proposal that they install the selector when Spock had been born so that she would have more time to spend with their son.
Sarek's dark eyes took in the boy who clung to his extended finger still unsteady on short, baby plump legs. The pressure of his work had kept them distant from one another for the most part and Spock had become dependant largely on his mother. For ten months, he had known Amanda's sole love and protection, sleeping in a cot in his mother's room, taking his child fears to her, and expecting a kiss or a hug whenever he fell or bumped himself - a show of affection that continued to reassure him. Nonetheless, Sarek recognized that Amanda's seasons with her child were rapidly growing to a close. It was still early to begin instructing Spock in the true ways of his home world but the knot that tied him to his mother, by necessity, had to loosen if the boy was to fit properly into Vulkhanir society.
Spock must learn to sublimate his emotions, vanquish the desire for love, and overcome any urge towards tenderness or warmth until he matured into a man who would consider pain, weariness, grief, or pleasure only from the viewpoint of rational deliberation. To that end, Sarek intended to wean Spock from Amanda's care as soon as it became practicable by placing him, as custom demanded, under the guardianship of Sirak and T'Neah. Sarek's nephew and his mate would treat Spock as one of their own, observing the strict formal training that would ensure his son remained impervious to his human blood ---.
"Ni'rih ---" The tugging at his finger brought him back from his thoughts and he looked down into the round eyes of Spock. Ee-chiya, it seemed, who was allowed into the sai'en only on special occasions - and thus expected a treat of some kind - was growing impatient. The big sehlat swayed with anticipation, short rope-like tail beating back and forth.
Sarek's eyebrow rose. "Be still, old friend. Would thee set my son a bad example?"
The old animal butted at his thigh, rumbling with pleasure.
"Very well ---" Sarek poured a measure of lak'ral, the thin, but nourishing fluid taken from the tri'lha plant, into a bowl and set it down on the stone tiled floor.
Ee-chiya, never slow to take advantage, darted in, and began to lap eagerly. Spock, fascinated as always, hunkered down, head between knees, watching intently to discover which way the enormous tongue curled as it sucked up the golden liquid. A few drops escaped, spattering his bare toes as he sat by the bowl and, absently, he wiped at the beaded moisture before licking his finger clean. Sarek half filled another bowl and gave it to Spock, before leaving them, firstly admonishing Ee-chiya to keep the child out of mischief. Although the house was immaculate as always, there were everyday jobs to which Amanda had drawn his attention that morning.
He had prepared for his new occupation, as a matter of course, by programming the study computer to construct a scale model of the house, minutely examining every task and establishing the time, motion and energy quotient needed to complete each separate function. The one and most important item he had failed to calculate however was Spock. Spock and Ee-chiya taken together defied analysis.
Once the lak'ral had disappeared and Spock realized he and the sehlat were alone he set about for something to occupy them. With Amanda, the boy would have been by her side, sharing undisturbed games, learning through play, listening as his mother commented, explained, teased and laughed, cementing the already powerful bond that had been forged with her first born son. Throughout the day, he would have accompanied her as she completed her normal household duties, participating in Amanda's abundant warmth and humanity absorbing, as if by osmosis, the processes that had shaped her into what she was.
There were many such peaceful days when the turbulence of the outside world never touched them at all. However, Amanda had now vanished leaving him with the unfamiliar individual he called 'a'nirih'. It was not a change he relished. Currently, even Sarek had left him, though Spock's keen hearing pinpointed his father's location on the second level of the large and rambling house with unerring accuracy.
Spock's attention focused on Ee-chiya, tugging at the thick fur, the soft ears, and lips, pulled back in a grin to expose the three-inch long canines. The rough, salivary tongue extruded and licked away the moustache of lak'ral about the boy's lips and he chortled gleefully. The tufted, rope-like tail beat against the tiles as the beast purred, a vibrant baritone, enduring the childish play without offence. The aging animal, usually exiled to the wild garden during the day where it spent the hours dozing among the crowded vegetation, was content. The sai'en was cool; the light diffuse, and there was always the chance that wherever the young master happened to be there would be food on offer --- He snuffled at the boy, mouthing him in mock attack, a huge, clawed paw holding him down effortlessly.
Unconcerned, Spock wriggled out of the sehlat's grasp. The boy knew the house of his birth intimately but there always seemed something fascinating that he could handle, poke at, or explore. Clinging to the sehlat, he pulled himself up, his eyes shining as he employed the beast like a climbing frame, using his agile toes to ascend quickly to Ee-chiya's back where he sat like a mahout astride a Tehr'n elephant. Although he could speak only in isolated monosyllables, neither had any difficulty in understanding what the other wanted. The large beast was compliant, eager to please, trusting ---
"Move, Chiya. Move!" The boy urged, digging his tiny heels into the sehlat's bulky sides. The animal lumbered to its feet while Spock hung on, baby fists entangled tightly in the thick and silky neck hair. As if directed, Ee-chiya headed straight for the lanai where the asenoi pulsed crimson in its appointed niche, the beast-like shape mysterious and alluring, wreathed in the aromatic smoke of tshkin wood that burned in the shallow receptacle. The boy's eyes roamed over the familiar sight, bowing his head to the Presence in imitation of his father although he still did not understand the rationale for such admiration. However, he found no reason to remain in the austere room and was soon gamboling around the Tehr'n style furniture in the sioan, narrowly brushing past the assortment of cherished ornaments and bric-a-brac from Earth, wedding presents and gifts from Amanda's father.
Sarek's study lured Spock on. Usually locked and out of bounds, the door stood fractionally ajar, inviting entry. It was the equivalent of coming across treasure trove for the inquisitive child. With a squeal of delight, he spurred Ee-chiya forward. Slipping from the sehlat's back he toddled from one enticing object to the next, fingering the priceless lyrette where Sarek had left it the evening before, and toying with a holo-cube on the low desk which portrayed several views of his mother, until, finally, he discovered the computer terminal.
Head on one side, Ee-chiya solemnly watched as the boy balanced precariously against the edge of the low desk and reached for the buttons that formed an attractive display. He touched them gently, one after another with little result, gradually becoming bolder until there came the sound of machinery awakening. A harmonious female voice chimed softly,
I AM RECEIVING. PROCEED.
Spock blinked, startled, and drew his hand away from the enticing buttons as his eyes searched the room for the owner of the voice. He sucked a thumb; dark eyes wide but the voice offered nothing further. Regaining his confidence, he returned to the monitor. Ee-chiya whuffed noisily, nudging the little boy in agitation, ears pricked at the sounds of approaching footsteps. Spock pushed at the huge bulk of the animal protesting loudly,
"Go way, Chiya. Bad boy. Go way."
In response, the computer, waiting for further instruction, said in the same pleasant accents,
PLEASE REPHRASE. I HAVE NO UNDERSTANDING OF THIS STATEMENT. REPHRASE.
"H'rase! Spock echoed stridently, banging his fist on the console in front of him with delight, striking another button set to one side.
PLEASE QUALIFY. WHAT DO YOU REQUIRE ERASED.
At the same instant, information activated by the release button Spock had accidentally touched began to appear on the monitor quickly wiped out of existence by the computer. It scrolled busily before Spock's fascinated gaze for several seconds until he lost interest and touched another key. Immediately the precise, well modulated computer voice, started to thunder,
ALARM. ALARM. ALARM. ALARM. ALARM.
Spock jerked back, freezing for a vital second, before heading for the entrance of the room with Ee-chiya slightly in the lead. Sarek, on his way to investigate all the commotion, collided full tilt with the huge beast. Brawn definitely won over brain as he fell backwards and in the ensuing confusion, Spock managed to escape unscathed.
It would have been easy for several adults to lose themselves in the wild and luxurious jungle surrounding the ancient house and Spock, who knew every nook and cranny, had no difficulty whatsoever. Frightened by the computer alarm and the sudden appearance of his father, he made instinctively for his own safe haven, a natural structure hollowed out by Ee-chiya among the dense shrubs and creepers where he curled up in a rigid ball, eyes tightly shut against the world.
For the rest of that morning and well past the noon hour, drugged with a subtle blend of subdued light and the rich smell of growing foliage, the child lay enveloped in the dim reaches of the garden, accompanied only by the old sehlat that, after a short while, came to share his refuge.
Sarek was disturbingly sensitive to the tension he felt along his neck and shoulder blades as he searched the house once again, looking now in the unlikely, out of the way places that he had, the first time, deemed an illogical refuge for a frightened child. The door to Spock's room remained open, a discarded stuffed toy, a teddy bear that had previously belonged to Amanda, lying discarded against the far wall where Spock had tossed it that morning. Sarek hesitated on the threshold, dry throated and uneasy as he assessed the sparsely furnished contents.
"Spock, child where are thee?" He murmured quietly not expecting any answer from the silent room. Nor did he receive one. He rubbed at one winged brow in thought. Where could the boy have vanished so completely? A question he had posed a thousand times since Spock had disappeared.
Sarek thought back, remembering his own father, the admiration and respect he had always experienced in that dignified presence. He had never wanted to escape, or to hide away. On the contrary, it had been a privilege to spend time with either of his parents. However, he realised that equating his own behaviour with that of his son was illogical. Spock, after all, was half human and, furthermore, unique. Fatherhood, he began to realise, was going to be far more intricate and complicated than he had first envisaged when he had volunteered to take care of Spock. It had seemed so simple the evening before. He could already imagine what his wife would say if she could see him, having already instigated fear instead of deference into his son.
Slowly he descended the stairs, wandering through the archway that led into the garden, checking the gate as he walked past. It was still closed and latched, thus ensuring that Spock, at least, was still somewhere in the boundary of the house or garden - but where? His thoughts circled in vain, as he strolled along the narrow pathways of the wild area, experiencing a curious chill when he allowed himself to reflect on his behaviour of the past hour. His displeasure at finding a half-months worth of theoretical research wiped clean in a few seconds had obviously been communicated to Spock, compelling him to hide away from what he must view as an avenging fiend. Although it would take effort to recall the content, the work was retrievable, but the damage to his relationship with the child might never heal.
Sarek leaned against the uneven trunk of a large tree fern, sheltering from the heat in the shadow of its diffuse canopy, and closed his eyes. The brilliant radiance of sunlight burning through his eyelids faded gradually, overtaken by an inner darkness as he began to assemble a detailed image of his son. Evenly, he reached out, and touched the drowsy, animal thought of Ee-chiya, curled up in the abundant proliferation of jungle not too far away. The old beast, friend of many years, had also sensed his annoyance and chosen to evade his master until the tempest had passed. Sarek let his awareness slip further, seeking clarity, remembering with sardonic irony, how the sehlat had pinned him down until Spock had successfully escaped. Evidently, his pet's loyalty had transferred since his son's birth.
He opened his eyes. Of course! Amanda had told him how inseparable Ee-chiya and Spock were. Where one was to be found the other would not be too far away.
Schooling his mind to calmness, he pushed through the thick cover until he drew closer to the hidden nest. He immediately saw sehlat and child curled around one another. Spock lay with his arms entwined around Ee-chiya's neck, rimmed by dappled sunlight, his dark hair tousled, his eyes closed in sleep. Sarek knelt beside the pair, rewarded by a lick from Ee-chiya as the boy opened his eyes drowsily, only slowly making the transition from dream to reality. Sarek gathered him close, holding him reassuringly, burying his face into the child's sable hair as he breathed in a mixture of dry earth, sun-warmed skin and the special, aromatic scent of his child.
"Spock-neha ---" Sarek murmured, softly, and the child uttered a quivering sigh of contentment as he pushed his face into the hollow of his father's shoulder.
Sarek could feel the tiny heart of his son beating strongly against his enclosing hands and suddenly knew how excellent life was.
Sensing that his father was no longer annoyed, Spock snuggled closer. The small voice whispered softly, contritely,
"Spock good boy, Ni'rih."
Sarek agreed. With his mouth next to the boy's ear, he murmured kindly, "Indeed, my son. Thee is a very good boy."
And with a gentleness Amanda knew very well, he carried the child back into the house, pondering deeply on the link that now bound them inexorably together.