Another round of talks with the Vulcan High council had come and gone with no resolution. The Rihannsu defectors would be given safe haven, but there would be no more mention of re-unification. Seleya had argued well. Although she was no match for her husband in the arena of diplomacy, she was never the less a skilled negotiator, which had not, in this case, helped.
She admitted now to feeling a certain amount of animosity towards Spock for leaving Vulcan at the very moment he was needed by both their worlds, but she also understood honour. When a friend of long standing died, one was duty bound to pay tribute. It was a matter of mnhei'sahe. And she too had known this friend of Spock's from years past. The healer with eyes as blue as the sky over ch'Rihan and a temper that burned like the sun. He had even had a Rihannsu name - Ma'khoi. That one was fire and air. A noble combination of elements and deserving of Spock's loyalty.
She could not apportion him any blame. Some things went beyond logic, though her husband would never admit that. She may not hold a grudge against Spock, but her son was a different matter. The truth of his dual heritage did not sit well with him.
The relationship between father and son had been tenuous before, but now... She sighed in frustration. That particular problem would take all her skills as arbitrator to overcome. She allowed herself a derisive snort - her so-called skills had been of little use today.
Seleya became aware of a multitude of eyes following her progress as she left the Great Hall. Her fellow Rihannsu were still being held by the Vulcan Security Forces, but she and her son were allowed to walk freely. News of their arrival had travelled fast. The watchers were not being rude - merely curious - one emotion the Vulcans exhibited with alacrity.
Apparently, it was believed that the wife and son of Ambassador Spock were not a threat to security. She had been surprised by that, and by the fact that Spock had so openly declared their marital status before the High Council. Somehow, she had assumed he would not admit to having taken a Romulan wife. Even after all these years, he still possessed the ability to surprise her.
As she reached the small fountain in the courtyard, Seleya saw that her son had come to meet her. He sat beneath the relative shade of a gnarled old tree, watching the passing Vulcans with barely concealed hostility. She sighed. Why had she ever believed he would stay in the house as instructed? One thing her son had in common with his Vulcan siblings, was his insatiable curiosity. And besides that, she knew how uncomfortable he felt in his father's house.
Seeing his mother's approach, he stood and came to meet her his welcoming smile fading slightly at her despondent expression. "I see from your face things didn't go too well."
"Am I grown so predictable in my old age that my son can read me like a book?"
Ashan took her arm and they turned towards the outskirts of town where his father's townhouse was located. "Of course you have, mother. How else would I be able to wrap you round my trigger finger?"
She laughed and patted him affectionately on the hand. "You should not underestimate me Ashan, for one day I may surprise you."
Ashan's handsome face clouded, and he dropped his hand from the crook of her arm. His very silence spoke volumes. She had already surprised him, and in a way neither of them could have imagined. They had reached an area of parkland, an oasis from which the town of Shikahr had sprung. Gently she guided him to a recessed bench.
Once seated, she laid her hand on his arm. "Speak."
The boy rested his arms on his knees, clasping his fingers together and steepling the index fingers in a heart-wrenchingly familiar gesture. "Mother, what's to become of us? Surely it can't be your intention to stay on this planet? Would you make a home here amongst aliens?"
"The Vulcan's are from exactly the same genetic stock as us, my son."
"I was referring to the high numbers of Terrans and other alien races that live here."
He said the word Terran as if it tasted bad. Seleya gently placed her palm on his cheek and turned his face towards him. He had given her the perfect opening.
"Ashan - there is something you should know. Your father is half human."
She watched carefully as that piece of information slowly sunk in. Her son seemed not to react at first due to the shock, but slowly he began to shake his head, forcing her use both hands to keep his face turned to her.
"He was raised here on this planet and chose to accept the Vulcan way of life. It was not easy for him. Young children, no matter what their race, can be very cruel, and yet he prevailed. He is a very good Vulcan, Ashan, but his strength of character, his compassion and his questing spirit are products of his Terran ancestry."
Ashan was staring at his mother as if she had just told him his father was the Emperor himself. She was unsure how much of the conversation he had heard until he closed his eyes and let his breath out in one long whistle. He fixed his mother with a narrow eyed glare.
"I've noticed nothing much in the way of compassion from him. Still, I'm sure he made his father very proud."
Ashan did not know what he expected from his mother, but her short, not-quite-amused laugh was not it. "Indeed he did not, but that is a story for another day."
She got to her feet and reached out a slim hand to the boy. Hesitating only a second, he took it and stood with her. "We have been terribly unfair to you Ashan. The mess we are in is none of your doing, and I can understand why you should feel as you do about your father, but I am as guilty as he - I could have told you all this when you were a child. Neither of us ever imagined that events would take the course they have. We had hoped that by the time you found out, Vulcan and Rihannsu would be re-united. I am sorry my son. I have caused you great pain."
Ashan felt his anger dissipate. She could always do that - make him feel like an ungrateful, unworthy son. Perhaps he had, in a way, always underestimated her. But he could not remain angry with her. His father, now that was a different matter. He could remain angry with him for the rest of eternity. He wanted desperately to get away from here, to think, but his mind was bursting with questions, his curiosity getting the better of him yet again.
As they walked slowly to his father's house, Ashan began his tentative interrogation. Seleya felt a faint stirring of hope, for surely, if her son really did hate his father, he would have no interest in his life.
The Starship Alexander Fleming, docked at Vulcan Space Central at 0300 hours. Captain Rodgers and his first officer met their two guests in the transporter room. Rodgers looked uneasy. "Ambassador - you can't really expect me not to report this can you?"
Spock held out a data pad. "I have recorded a detailed report of recent events, for the eyes of Admiral Joshua Landsbury. You are welcome to review the data first, but I would consider it a personal favour if, beyond passing this information to the Admiral, you would make no further reports or log entries."
Rodgers took the pad hesitantly. "Well, I suppose you do have some extraordinary powers as a Federation Ambassador. Are you evoking those now?"
Spock glanced at Kirk. "I have... resigned. My request is not a formal one. You must do as you see fit."
Rodgers nodded and looked at the data pad as though it were made of antimatter. He quickly passed it to his first officer and extended a hand to Kirk, who shook it vigorously. "It was a pleasure to meet you sir. Reading about your adventures when I was a boy, is what made me decide on a career in Starfleet. I'm glad you made it into this century - even if I cant tell anyone I met you."
Spock raised his hand in the Vulcan salute. "Live long and prosper, Captain Rodgers. Your help has been invaluable."
"Peace and long life Amb....Mr Spock. I was honoured to help."
With that, the two men stepped onto the Fleming's small transporter platform and shimmered out of existence. They were beamed down in front of Spock's house in Shikahr.
Kirk noted that the single story building had not changed at all since his last visit there, well over 80 years ago. He hesitated at the gate and Spock raised an inquisitive eyebrow.
Kirk smiled sheepishly at his old friend. "Just composing myself Spock. I'd like to make a good impression on your ...wife and ...son."
The words seemed to fall hesitantly from his lips, as if he had difficulty believing them. Spock understood quite clearly, he had often felt the same way these last 40 years, at least where his son was concerned. Being separated from his wife by several thousand parsecs, the Romulan Neutral Zone and Federation policy had not diminished their mental bond - she was always with him, at least in spirit - but his son was an entirely different matter.
It occurred to Spock that he should perhaps have explained to Kirk, the relationship, or lack of one, between Ashan and himself. It was still difficult for him to discuss matters of a personal nature even with his oldest friend. No matter - Kirk would see it for himself soon enough.
Right now he contented himself with saying, "They will be asleep Jim. Dawn is still 3 hours away."
Kirk nodded and pushed open the gate. "I guess I'm a bit nervous. The last time we met it wasn't exactly under the best of circumstances remember? I just hope she doesn't hold a grudge."
They walked quietly up to the house, and Spock nodded. "Over the years, she has demonstrated remarkable accuracy with projectile weapons, including many breakable household objects. Her speciality is the teacup."
By now, Kirk was wide-eyed and firmly clutching his hand over his mouth, in a mixture of disbelief and hysterics. The vision of Spock involved in a domestic brawl involving flying crockery was one he would not forget in a hurry.
Spock entered his code into the door panel, and stepped back to allow his friend to enter the darkened hall. Kirk heard the ticking of Amanda's antique grandfather clock and felt a moment of sadness. Spock had told him that Amanda had died 60 years ago. Kirk was beginning to understand what being removed from the time-line really meant.
Many of his friends and acquaintances were now dead. Antonia was dead. Amanda, Carol Markus and McCoy - all dead. And so should I be, thought Kirk grimly as he laid a hand on the clock. Spock observed him quietly but said nothing.
He opened the door to the guest bedroom and indicated that Kirk should go in. "I believe you have a saying on Earth - things will look better in the morning."
Kirk stepped into the bedroom and turned to face his old friend. "We have another saying - tomorrow never comes."
"Perhaps the pursuit of such an unreachable goal, is what makes life worth living?"
"Philosophy, Spock? I didn't know you had it in you."
"Then you were not paying attention. Goodnight Jim."
"Goodnight Spock." Kirk closed the door quietly and undressed in the semi-darkness. The sheets were blissfully cool against his skin, but he knew that sleep would elude him. Too many questions regarding his existence still plagued him.
Spock hesitated at the open door to his bedchamber. Despite the fact that he had been married for 40 standard years, his wife had never slept in his bed. Seeing her here now, chest rising and falling gently in sleep, her hair splayed on his pillow turned silver by the light of T'Kut, Spock felt a touch of uneasiness. Illogical. She was his wife, and as such had every right to sleep in his bed, but Spock could not help but wonder what his father would have said, had he found the woman lying thus, is his son's bed. In his fathers house. Again - illogical. Whatever Sarek might or might not have thought, the Vulcan would have kept to himself.
Spock quietly let the door close behind him, and waited a few moments until his eyes adjusted to the darkness. He crossed to the window and let his eyes roam over the silver-lit garden below.
He turned slowly at the sound of her voice. She had propped her head onto one hand and was regarding him steadily. "Forgive me - I did not mean to wake you."
Spock sat on the edge of the bed and held out his hand, two fingers extended in the customary greeting gesture between married couples. She touched his fingers with her own and he felt the familiar and comforting brush of her mind against his. "Something troubles you, Spock?"
Spock allowed the smile to reach his eyes, if not his lips. How could a woman as psi-blind as she, still manage to read his mind with such ease? Sighing, he began to remove his clothing then slipped beneath the covers. She lay patiently waiting, assured that he would talk when he was ready.
He reached for the contact points on her face as he spoke "There is a great deal to tell. A meld will be much quicker."
She smiled in the near darkness and placed her palm on his cheek. "It has been a long time, Spock. I think I have forgotten how."
It was a long standing joke between them and Spock, placing his other hand on her cheek, said softly. "It will come back to you."
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