Chapter 20
Not His Biggest Fan

The next day, Spock and Seleya left early, to attend the Vulcan High council meeting. Kirk slept late, a luxury he had not indulged in for many years. He had not seen Ashan since their encounter in the garden the day before, so he was surprised to find him in the kitchen.

At first, Kirk hesitated in the doorway, unwilling to provoke the boy into another show of hostility, but Ashan casually got up from the table and said, "Don't worry Terran, I'm finished here, and my father would be most displeased if you missed your breakfast on my account. When is he not?"

The next day, Spock and Seleya left early, to attend the Vulcan High council meeting. Kirk slept late, a luxury he had not indulged in for many years. He had not seen Ashan since their encounter in the garden the day before, so he was surprised to find him in the kitchen.

At first, Kirk hesitated in the doorway, unwilling to provoke the boy into another show of hostility, but Ashan casually got up from the table and said, "Don't worry Terran, I'm finished here, and my father would be most displeased if you missed your breakfast on my account. When is he not?"

He opened the door that would lead out into the garden. Kirk sighed. Somewhere in the back of his mind a small voice was telling him to follow - to reach out to the boy somehow.

Even this early in the morning on Vulcan, the brightness was quite formidable, causing Kirk to shade his eyes as he left the house. Ashan was standing in the middle of Amanda's sand garden, kicking at the stones. Kirk felt outraged on Spock's behalf. He stood frozen in the doorway, wondering if he should announce himself. But the young Vulcan's keen hearing had already alerted him to Kirks presence. He spun round and glowered at the older man with open hostility.

Kirk hesitated. Lord knows he had tried to make friends with Spock's son. But the young man's barely concealed hatred had, so far, served only to anger Kirk. Perhaps he should just turn around now and go back into the house - leave the boy to his problems. It was none of his business. And yet he could not move. The look in Ashan's eyes was so familiar. He had seen it in his own sons' eyes not so long ago.

Kirk took a deep breath and stepped out into the garden. Ashan remained frozen in his belligerent stance until Kirk stopped before him.

"I thought I made it quite plain that I didn't want your company, Terran."

Kirk's eyes narrowed and his hands curled into fists, which he carefully placed on his hips. "You have a nasty attitude son - care to tell me what you have against me?"

Ashan let his gaze travel down to Kirk's boots and back up to his eyes before answering. "Your smell offends me."

Kirk sighed in frustration. Had he been on his ship right now, he would have chewed this guy's arrogant ass right off. But he wasn't Captain Kirk, hero of the galaxy, anymore, and this was not one of his cadets. This was an angry young man, Spock's son, and a stranger.

Maybe once, a long time ago, Kirk would have stood his ground. Maybe once, he would have used every means at his disposal to change the boy's mind.

But not now. He was tired, and he was old. Too old to make a difference, even to this one mixed-up boy.

He turned, with the intention of returning to the house, but Ashan clamped a hand onto his arm, effectively stopping Kirk in his tracks. He found himself forcefully whirled round to face the boy, who was radiating hatred from every pore.

"Backing down, Kirk? I don't think so. This time, my mother's not here to save you."

Kirk saw the fist pull back, and realised that if the boy hit him full force, it would probably break his neck. Instinctively, he ducked, and the fist whistled through the air, missing him by a few inches. His training in unarmed combat took over. With lightning reflexes, he caught the boy's head, and forced it down to meet his raised knee.

Ashan staggered backward clutching at his nose. A trickle of green blood dripped into his cupped hands. The boy stared at it in shock.

Kirk might have taken Ashan unawares this time, but knew he was no match for his youth, and physical superiority. He quickly raised his hands in a mollifying gesture. "All right, all right. That's enough. You've made your point. I have no idea what I did to piss you off so thoroughly, but I've learned my lesson."

Ashan advanced on Kirk, with a fire burning in his eyes so brightly that is put the sun's radiance to shame. Kirk took a hasty step backwards. "I don't want to fight you, son."

Ashan stopped, and wiped more blood from his nose. He extended the shaking, bloodied hand towards Kirk, palm up. "I bleed green Kirk. How can I be human if I bleed green?"

Kirk frowned. He detected a note of uncertainty in the boy's voice that tore at his heart. The anger began to leave his body, as he realised that Ashan was in pain. Suddenly, the boy was unsure of who and what he was, unsure of his place in the cosmos. That, at least, Kirk could sympathise with.

Right now, James T Kirk was very unsure of his own place in this strange, future world. He slowly stepped forward and clutched the young Vulcan's shoulders. "You're being too hard on yourself son. You haven't changed. The world around you might have thrown you a body swerve, but you are still the same person."

Ashan jerked back from Kirk's grasp. "NO!!! I'm not. I don't expect you to understand Kirk - you carry only the blood of one race within your veins." Ashan was absently rubbing his bloodied palm against his thigh. "I am no longer Romulan, I don't want to be Vulcan and I...," he trailed off.

"Go ahead son - say it. The thought of being even remotely Human makes you sick?" Kirk gently took the boys' sagging shoulders again, and gave them a little shake, forcing eye contact. "What do you actually know about Terrans, Ashan? Give us a chance son, give yourself a chance, and for God's sake - give your father a chance. He might not be the person you thought he was - he might be someone even better."

Ashan's eyes clouded over momentarily then closed. For a moment, Kirk thought he might be getting through to the boy, but when he met Kirk's gaze again, there was something cold in them. He took a step back, and Kirk's hands fell to his sides.

"Everything he ever told me was a lie. Vulcan's aren't supposed to lie - are they Kirk?"


Ashan spun round and strode towards the gate at the bottom of the garden. He paused for a moment and looked at Kirk with eyes that reflected his inner pain only for a moment. "That man is not my father" He said in disgust, "I have no father."

And with that, he stepped out into the vast, shimmering, expanse that was Vulcan's Forge.

"Ashan, no!" Kirk gasped in shock. No one went into the desert without survival gear. It was suicide. But even as Kirk ran after him, he knew there was no physical way to stop the boy.

Standing on the edge of the Forge, he thought quickly. Maybe he couldn't stop Ashan from going into the desert but he could go after him. But not without grabbing some gear first. He may be old but he was not stupid. Twenty minutes later, Kirk had thrown his small bag of supplies into Spock's ground car, and was heading off over the sand, following the footprints, and hoping that the weather would remain calm long enough for him to find the boy.

Spock and Seleya walked in silence from the Great Hall. There was much to think about. Although the majority of the Vulcan High Council had maintained their position on the question of unification, Spock had been gratified to note that several of the younger members seemed to be wavering in their stance. He had found support coming from unexpected areas, and was grateful. Never the less, the council had voted overwhelmingly to remove Spock as Ambassador to Quon'os, and forbade him to continue his mission of peace.

At least officially. Spock called to mind the meeting with the leader of the High Council, after the debate closed. T'Lar had bade him remain, as the others began to file out of the huge room. When they were alone, T'Lar had regarded him in silence for several moments. If Spock had been fully Human, he may have broken into a sweat under such intense scrutiny.

Finally, she spoke. "Spock - there will be no more debate on the subject of Re-Unification in the Council Chambers. I would assume, however, that debate will continue unofficially amongst its members. This is what you intended?"

"T'Lar, my intention was to bring the question into the open forum, where it could at least have fair hearing. That much I have already achieved."

"And what are your intentions now, Spock, son of Sarek?"

Spock met her eyes unflinchingly. Vulcan's were perfectly capable of lying when they had to, but lying to a respected elder, for one's own gain, went far beyond excusable behaviour. "You already know the answer to that question, T'Lar."

"Evasion, Spock? - That is unworthy of you."

"Allow me to ask a question of you. No charges have been brought against me for my unsanctioned visits to the Rihannsu homeworld - this is not logical. I would know why?"

T'Lar turned and looked pointedly towards the chamber door, where Seleya stood patiently waiting for her husband, and then back at Spock. "We have long been aware of the nature of your visits and their frequency. For this reason alone, your trips were - overlooked."

Spock felt heat rising in his cheeks "My apologies, T'Lar - I was sure that I had used more discretion in this matter."

"Your aide - Surok, has kept us informed of your... activities for the past 40 years. He also informed us of your plans to meet with Pardek."

"And yet you did not try to prevent it."

T'Lar was silent again for a moment. Her expression did not change at all, yet Spock realised that she was considering how much to tell him. "Vulcan is not ready for unification Spock. But as you have argued, the day will come. As one man, working alone, you could lay the foundations for that day, but if you failed, the Vulcan High Council would remain officially clear from any repercussions with the Federation."

Spock steepled his fingers as the thought "Logical. I will, of course return to the Empire when it is safe to do so. My work will continue - unofficially."

"If that is thy will. Live long and prosper, Spock, son of Sarek."

"Peace and long life, T'Lar, until we meet again."

And she had turned regally and walked away.

Spock had remained motionless, deep in thought, until Seleya took his arm. He turned a faintly bemused gaze on her. "They have known all along."

Seleya tugged at his arm, seeing that her husband's tightly controlled emotions were perilously close to surfacing. "They must have approved then Spock, even if they could not admit it. This proves that your cause is just, and worthy. We will not abandon our efforts."

He began walking automatically towards the door but his mind was still focused on his anger. He had never appreciated being manipulated or used.

By the time they reached his house, Spock had grown calmer. There was little to be gained from dwelling on this turn of events. But as they approached the gate, Spock felt the hairs on the back of his neck rising. He knew there was something wrong on a purely instinctive level. He no longer felt the urge to dismiss such intuition.

Hesitating at the gate, he caught Seleya by the arm. "The car is missing," he stated flatly.

His wife looked at the spot where the vehicle had been parked, and shrugged, "Perhaps Kirk went for a drive?"

"I told him to remain in the house until we returned."

"And since when has Kirk taken orders form you Spock?"

Spock did not look at his wife, but pushed open the gate and entered the house. His keen Vulcan hearing picked up no sound from within. He did not have to shout to know that there was no one here.

A slight gust of wind caressed his face as he headed for the kitchen, Seleya close behind. The back door, which led into the garden, was ajar, and already, sand was blowing into the room. No Vulcan in his right mind would leave a house open to the elements this close to the desert.

Spock looked at Seleya now. "They left in a hurry."


"Ashan is also gone."

They had stepped out into the garden. Spock shielded his eyes against the wind and pointed at the open garden gate. The footprints of one person were visible leading out into the desert, but even as he watched, the swirling sand filled the tracks.

"It is obvious that one person walked into the desert and the other followed by groundcar. Jim knows better than to walk in the Forge during daylight hours."

Seleya clutched at her husband's arm, "Spock, Ashan has no desert survival training - he cannot survive the Forge can he?"

Spock closed the gate and headed back to the house. "If Jim has gone after him, his odds of survival are higher. However I do not intend to sit back and wait."

Kirk swore loudly at no-one in particular. He had been praying for calm weather, and had got a sandstorm. Not a particularly fierce one, but bad enough to obliterate any tracks. It had not lasted long either, but Kirk had been forced to stop the car and wait it out. Spock, with typical Vulcan logic, kept a shovel in his groundcar, but after half and hour of digging in the blistering heat, Kirk had begun to realise that he had come as far as he could by car.

He scanned the horizon, and focused in on a large rock formation a few miles ahead. Or at least it looked like a few miles, distances could be deceiving in a desert. He reasoned that Ashan would probably have made for the relative shelter of the rocks when the sand storm hit, so that's where he would go too. He also knew enough about Vulcan to know that the rocks would make good shelter for some of the planets less friendly fauna.

Shouldering the heavy bag, and wiping perspiration from his eyes, he gave the air-conditioned ground car one final, whimsical glance, before setting off at a light jog.





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