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Buried in the Sand

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Spock had not prepared himself for seeing Sarek again.

The loss of his father has never been something he can easily think about. He hadn’t been there when it had happened, and their relationship at the time had been far from stable. Though they had been working on repairing their relationship, it had worsened when Sarek rebuked him for attempting to maintain a dialogue with the Romulans and became nearly non-existent when Sarek remarried. Spock had regretted that, after he’d learned of his father’s death, but it was too late by then.

Now, in this other universe, Sarek is alive and well. Spock knows he has survived the destruction of Vulcan, a fact he is privately grateful for, but he does not intend to see him. This Sarek likely has enough problems with his own Spock – he doesn’t need two of them. And deep, deep inside, where Spock only acknowledges its existence during meditation, he is afraid that this Sarek will be just as disappointed in him as his own father was.

So he will keep his distance. Even as he travels to New Vulcan, he resolves to see Sarek as little as possible.

But he steps off the shuttlecraft onto New Vulcan soil and there he is, waiting for him with his hands tucked into the sleeves of his robe.

For a moment, Spock believes there has been a mistake, and that this planet does not have an oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere. But then he realizes it is merely he who can’t breathe, and he forces himself to inhale.

“Spock,” Sarek says.

“…Ambassador,” Spock responds, dipping his head in greeting.

Sarek looks at him calculatingly. It is a gaze that Spock knows well, and even at 157 years old he burns under it. “Commander Spock informed me that you would be coming to assist the colony in his place. I am here to offer you a place to stay until you are settled.”

“I am gratified,” Spock says slowly. “However, I do not wish to impose—”

“You are technically my son,” Sarek interrupts. “And you will always be welcome in my home.”

Spock blinks at him. It takes all of his control not to show his astonishment on his face. While he had not often felt unwelcome in his father’s home, Sarek certainly would never have said such a thing out loud.

It is evident, just from that, that this is not at all the universe he is accustomed to.

He eventually dips his head in acquiescence and follows Sarek into the heart of the colony. It is a short walk, as much of the colony has yet to be built. The Vulcan high council has prioritized constructing temporary shelters before anything else, a logical endeavor considering that all of the remaining Vulcans are now homeless, so they mainly pass by small, hastily constructed huts.

Spock observes Sarek as he walks slightly behind him. He is remarkably similar to his own father except he is so much younger, and yet somehow grayer. It is something that Spock has noticed abundantly in this timeline – how young everyone is. Jim is fresh out of the Academy. So is Leonard, and though he is older than Jim and most everyone else on the Enterprise, he is still younger than Spock had ever known him. Sarek too married Amanda and had his son much younger than he had in Spock’s timeline. It is strange to think that he is older than him, and in fact nearly twice his age.

Sarek’s hut is last among the long line of them. Spock can easily imagine him insisting that his be the last one built. When they enter, the hut is completely empty save for a food replicator, a computer console, some mats for bedding, and other essential items. This is unsurprising, considering that everything any Vulcan owned was lost along with the planet.

“You may use this room,” Sarek says, leading him into a room just adjacent to the main entrance. It is small and barren except for a rolled-up mat in the center of the room. Clearly, it has always been intended for Spock’s use. Whether it was intended for him or his younger counterpart, Spock isn’t sure.

Spock hovers in the doorway. “You are surprisingly accepting of my presence in this universe.”

Sarek glances at him. “There is nothing to accept. You are here, and you are as homeless as every other Vulcan, if not more so due to your spatial and temporal displacement. It is only logical to support you as your father.”

Spock turns to consider him. “But you are not my father.”

Sarek raises an eyebrow. “Perhaps not. However, presumably my counterpart raised you, and thus it is my duty to help you in his place.”

Spock doesn’t know what to say to that. He wonders, should the situation have been reversed, if his own father would’ve been so accommodating to the Spock of this universe.

Sarek leaves Spock to get settled in the room. Spock places his bag down near the rolled-up mat and takes his time unpacking. He doesn’t have many possessions either, as he had not taken much with him in his attempt to stop the Romulan sun from going supernova, but he does have his personal PADD, some data chips with Vulcan music and literature inscribed on them, which will no doubt be valuable to the colony, and, of course, a picture.

It is of the seven of them, taken at the end of the Enterprise’s last voyage. Spock stares at the picture for a moment, touching his fingers to Jim and Leonard reverently. He had not taken the death of his friends well. He had not been there when Jim passed, and it was something he had never quite recovered from. Jim had been his closest friend, someone who had supported him through his whole life, and he had died before Spock could figure out how to tell him what he meant to him. Spock had spent most of his time with Leonard in the aftermath, as he was the only one who felt the same loss that Spock did. They had argued and supported one another, and they kept in touch for many, many years after. Leonard had even accompanied him on some of his negotiations as a Federation ambassador, to ‘keep him out of trouble’, as he’d said. By then, Spock was more comfortable with his feelings and had found a way to tell him how much he and the others had always meant to him, and he was there when his friend who he had admired and argued with for the majority of his life took his last breath. Afterwards, he had gone to Romulus and fiercely ignored the hole that stretched and yawned in his life and heart.

Perhaps Sarek is right – he has been just as homeless for some time now.

Spock rolls out the mat and places the photo at the head of it, and then wanders back out into the main area of the hut. Sarek is kneeling at a low table where two bowls of plomeek soup are laid out for them. Spock sits across from him and breathes in the comforting scent of the familiar soup. Since he has lived on Romulus for the last 19 years, it has been some time since he has had the food of his home world.

They begin eating in silence. Sarek watches him over the rim of his bowl. Spock stares down at his soup. Dinner has always been a quiet affair between him and his father, but it has never been a comfortable quiet. Even now, it is hard not to feel like he is being analyzed.

“Tell me about your shipmates,” Sarek says finally. “The ones my son is currently working with.”

Spock wonders where he could even begin. “…If this timeline progresses the same way mine did, then they will become the most important people Spock will ever know. They will stand by him without fail, and support him even through decisions they may not agree with. They will save his life, over and over again, and encourage him to grow as a person. I do not believe my life would have been as fulfilling if I had never met the crew of the Enterprise. I am grateful that Spock will still have this experience, despite what has happened.”

“Is this why you encouraged him to stay onboard?” Sarek asks and Spock nods. “I see. I was unsure of what to make of his decision at first. I believed it was partially another one of Spock’s attempts to reject his Vulcan heritage.”

Spock raises an eyebrow at this, and Sarek lifts his hand. “I am starting to understand that Spock has never wished to do this, and that it is merely circumstances and the xenophobic nature of many Vulcans that has led to his current career path. It seems, at least, that it is the right one.”

Spock returns his gaze to his soup. He thinks about how many years it had taken his own father to admit that Starfleet had been the correct path for him, and that his friends were people of character. This version of Sarek has accepted it so easily, merely from Spock’s few words on the subject.

“You are quite different from my own father,” Spock says eventually. “…If I may ask, what is your relationship with the Spock of this universe?”

“We speak frequently.” And just that is enough to make something ugly and unpleasant twist in Spock’s stomach. “He has struggled for most of his life to balance his Vulcan and human halves, but I believe my advice has been helpful to him in figuring it out. I try to support him however I can.”

“…I see.” Spock tries to remember the last time his father had done anything like that. Perhaps not since he had helped restore his katra.

Sarek stares at him. “I take it our relationship is different in your universe?”

Spock hesitates for a long time, disguising it by taking a long sip of his soup.

“We were not close,” he says finally.

“I see. Was this a recent development?”

“No.”

Sarek considers this for a long moment. And then, softly, “And Amanda?”

“She lived a long, healthy life. She passed away quietly in her home with both of us by her side.” Spock’s fingers curl around the warm soup bowl. He meets Sarek’s gaze finally. “I grieve with thee. I can never atone for the loss my actions have caused.”

It’s Sarek’s turn to look away, and for a short, stunning moment, Spock can see the pain on his face. His father’s control has always been impeccable – it is shocking to see this second of vulnerability.

“Spock,” Sarek says finally, “would you permit me to meld with you?”

Spock’s entire body freezes. He nearly drops the soup bowl he is so shocked.

His own father had never melded with him. Despite the fact that it is common for Vulcan parents to meld with their children in order to more effectively teach them shielding and other telepathic techniques, Sarek had never offered to do so, and Spock had never asked him to. To this day, he still doesn’t know why his father had not wished to meld with him, but he can imagine. It did not take a telepath to tell that Sarek had constantly been disappointed in Spock’s struggles to control his emotions growing up, and indeed his behavior in general. Why would he wish to meld and experience the chaos firsthand? And Spock had certainly never wanted to experience the disappointment firsthand.

At least, that is what he’d thought until Picard had offered to let him touch glimpses of his father’s mind. Through that, he had learned that Sarek had often been frustrated with him, but there had been warm feelings there as well. He had cared for Spock, in some way, though melding with Picard had not given him a complete picture. The feelings seemed to contradict how he had always acted, so Spock had left that meld with only a small amount of understanding of his father. This would present an opportunity to learn more.

But he—he cannot bear to see what is in this Sarek’s mind. He may act understanding, but perhaps underneath it is the same frustration and disappointment Spock’s father felt, and the thought of feeling it at such a personal, intense level is paralyzing. 

Spock sets his bowl down. He can’t meet Sarek’s gaze. “I do not wish to.”

“…Very well.”

The rest of their dinner is eaten in complete silence.

 

--

 

Spock spends most of his days at the colony working on rebuilding the database of vast knowledge that was lost when Vulcan was destroyed.

Fortunately, he has many files from Vulcan’s main library stored on his PADD. When he had begun gaining interest in reuniting Vulcan and Romulus, he had spent much of his time in the library, studying ancient texts. He had never bothered to delete them, as his research was always on-going, and he is grateful that he has them now. He attempts to copy them at least in shorthand to a more permanent database and considers ways to back-up the data should such a tragic event occur again. He also uploads the music and literature that he has stored on his data chips, and works on gathering what other compositions may exist from the other colonists.

He also begins making plans to reconstruct the Vulcan Science Academy.

It had never been his favorite place as a young adult, a sentiment he is sure the younger version of himself shares as well. They had been interested in him only as an experiment, a hybrid who wasn’t quite Vulcan or human. They had not been interested in his theories, or his mind, but rather what he represented – an outsider, infiltrating their ranks.

Despite this, the Vulcan Science Academy had been a center for research and knowledge. It had devoted much of its time to understanding Vulcan inside and out, and then, once that was accomplished, the galaxy and other worlds. It will be useful to have a place like that again once basic needs, infrastructure, and population concerns are addressed. Vulcans have always relied on their minds and the pursuit of knowledge, and Spock suspects that without a place to do such things, recovery will take much longer.

It is slow work, but Spock finds he doesn’t mind. It is rewarding to work hard for something again. When he was stranded on Delta Vega, he had believed that he would never do anything of importance again, and instead live out the rest of his life on a barely livable planet fighting monsters. He had not dared to believe that one day he would be able to work on something meaningful, that he could do something to help right the grave wrong he had caused.

The colonists are grateful for his assistance, and curious about his knowledge. It is far different from his usual experiences with Vulcans, but refreshing. He spends a whole day speaking to a woman named T’Lor about the Vulcan actors that existed in his universe versus the ones that exist in hers. It is valuable information, but it is also nice to have an intelligent conversation with someone again. He spends another day cataloging native plants with a man named Sevek and learning about his fascinating publications on modern logic. Spock feels he is engaging with his culture in ways he’d never been able to before, and it eases some of the pain he has carried with him his whole life. 

When he comes back to the hut that evening, he finds Sarek in the living room playing a lyre.

For a long time, Spock just stands there and watches him. Sarek is not a very technical player, but his fingers move elegantly along the strings and the sound is pleasant. However, there is something distinctly…off about this scene.

“I was unaware you played the lyre,” Spock says when Sarek has finished.

Sarek looks up at him. “I did not for most of my life. However, Amanda played the piano, and it was…rewarding to learn to play with her.”

Spock swallows thickly. “I do not believe my father ever played. However, I have gained some proficiency.”

Sarek considers him for a moment and then gets up and walks to the replicator. He creates another lyre, and offers it to Spock. “Would you wish to play together?”

Spock hesitates, and then takes the lyre and sits beside him. It has been a few years since he has played, so for a moment he just draws his fingers gingerly along the strings, refamiliarizing himself. He used to play for the local children on Romulus before it became clear that a public display of Vulcan culture was still premature.

It occurs to him suddenly that that planet is gone as well, because he had failed to save it. There appears to be no end to the suffering he has caused.

“I will follow your lead,” Sarek says, drawing Spock from his thoughts.

Spock nods and begins a simple, slow tune. The song represents those who lost their lives for the sake of peace during the Time of Awakening, and Spock thinks that perhaps it is appropriate for this occasion as well.

Sarek listens for a moment and then adds a simple countermelody. After a while, Spock realizes that he is attempting to outdo him in terms of complexity. Spock adapts his playing to match him, and then picks up the tempo a bit. Sarek’s playing becomes slightly sloppy, but he follows along and throws in some dissonant chords. 

This mini competition goes on for some time until Spock has completely lost Sarek in technicality. They end the song together, at least, and when they are done Sarek looks at him and raises his eyebrow.

Spock very nearly smiles.

 

--

 

Spock had not intended to keep in contact with any of the Enterprise crew of this universe, but to his surprise the three of them—Jim, Leonard, even Spock himself—send him a frequent stream of messages. Even Nyota contacts him fairly frequently, asking after his well-being and eager to practice her Vulcan, though not as much as the trio. After sharing a mind meld with this universe’s Jim, the young man seems extraordinarily curious about Spock’s own timeline, and how it differs from his. Spock doesn’t tell him much as a matter of principle, but it is rather amusing to listen to his wild theories about what Spock’s Jim did in his lifetime. Leonard contacts him the most, usually to discuss Vulcan physiology but sometimes just to discuss science in general. Spock tries to push him to engage in this same rapport with his own Spock, knowing that it will be valuable for both of them, but until then he is more than content to fill the role. Spock contacts him the least out of the three, which he understands perfectly well, but sometimes he calls just to talk about Amanda. They are moments of vulnerability, moments Spock is sure he doesn’t share with anyone other than him, and he tries to guide him as best as he can. He is fortunate that he lost his mother to old age, rather than catastrophic disaster, but it leaves him a bit lost and more than a little guilty after speaking with his younger self.

They also tend to talk about Vulcan, the places they still catch themselves thinking about, illogically forgetting for a moment that they no longer exist. They compile a list of the ways New Vulcan is different from Vulcan, cataloging their loss in a detached, Vulcan sort of way. But sometimes his younger self’s throat clogs up, and Spock will feel his own eyes prickling with something he dares not acknowledge.

The loss they have suffered is great, and Spock wonders if there will ever be a time when speaking to his younger self will not make his chest tighten with irrepressible guilt.

Regardless, he looks forward to the calls from all four of them, even though he knows he should not.

It is Spock, however, that contacts him today.

“Ambassador,” his counterpart says, face and voice flat. Spock has practiced it more than enough to recognize the carefully structured mask.

“Commander,” he returns, dipping his head.

“…Father told me you do not wish to meld with him.”

Spock blinks. He had not predicted this topic of conversation. It is also slightly painful to realize that Sarek has spoken to his son within such a short time interval. “…That is correct.”

His counterpart assesses him for a moment. “I fail to understand why.”

Spock considers how to answer. “You have a…much improved relationship with your father compared to what I had with mine.”

Commander Spock frowns. “I do not understand.”

“It is better that you do not,” Spock says.

“Then…your father never melded with you?”

Spock hesitates. “…No.”

“How did you learn to properly shield your thoughts? Or how to meld yourself?”

“From my teachers.” And then, at his counterpart’s shocked expression, he adds, “They were quite professional while teaching me. And eager, I’m sure, to study my mind as the only Vulcan-human hybrid in existence.”

“I…cannot imagine allowing my teachers to touch my mind.”

Spock’s mouth tightens. “It was either that or never learn, and forever be known as a ‘non-Vulcan’.”

His counterpart’s features neutralize. He must understand this, at least. “It seems our experiences were quite different even before you entered this timeline.”

“Indeed. I…am pleased that you have remained close with your father.”

Commander Spock searches his face. “It is ultimately your choice, but I believe a meld with my father would be…rewarding for you.”

But Spock is already shaking his head. “There is no need. I have made peace with my relationship with my father.”

His counterpart’s eyebrow arches up, and Spock knows that expression so well it is disconcerting. It is disbelief – it is incredulity. It is something he usually only points at his human friends. “We may have had different experiences that shaped us in different ways, but at heart we are the same. And I do not believe you would’ve denied my father if you had truly ‘made peace’, as you say.”

Spock raises his eyebrow in turn. “I am starting to understand why both of our Leonards tend to refer to us as a ‘pain in the ass’.”

The corner of Commander Spock’s mouth ticks up. “I will take your word for it, as I can seldom understand Doctor McCoy through his yelling.”

Spock’s chest aches momentarily. His Leonard didn’t yell as much as this Spock’s Leonard apparently does—fond grumbling was probably a more accurate term—but he misses it, him, just the same. “I appreciate your concern, however it is unwarranted. I am of a different time and place – it would not be appropriate to connect with your father as if he were my own.”

“He would not have offered if he felt the same.”

Spock glances down. “I will take your word for it.”

They make a valiant attempt at small talk for a few minutes, but it has never been Spock’s strong suit and it seems to be something of a struggle for Commander Spock as well, so they decide to end the call for today. His counterpart hangs up with a parting ta’al, and his projection vanishes.

Spock closes his eyes for a moment, wonders if it will ever be less strange to interact with a younger version of himself, and then rises.

Sarek has returned at some point during his call, and Spock finds him standing in the sand behind the hut, staring out at the desert. The desert of New Vulcan is even harsher than Vulcan’s own desert, somehow – comparable to if the Forge had covered the entire planet. There is very little vegetation here, and Sevek has yet to find anything edible. Sarek is assisting in the construction and design of a greenhouse to grow native Vulcan plants from Starfleet’s seed bank, but progress is slow.

“I was thinking of our garden on Vulcan,” Sarek says when Spock comes to stand next to him. “Amanda worked very hard on it. You are aware of how resistant Vulcan soil was to foreign plants, and indeed flora in general, but she seemed to fight with the soil itself until it produced seeds for her.”

He pauses. “We could use her tenacious nature here.”

Spock is unsure what to say in the face of this surprisingly mournful Sarek. His own father had rarely spoken of Amanda after she passed, something that had bothered Spock immensely, but he’d kept quiet about it for the sake of peace. He wonders if his own father ever stared out at the garden as it fell to shambles and thought of his wife.

“I too deeply felt my mother’s loss,” he says quietly. “I never…figured out how to tell her what she deserved to hear.”

“Like father like son,” Sarek says thoughtfully, a human idiom.

Spock glances at him and then away again. He stares out at the desert and feels small.

“Did you ever marry?” Sarek asks eventually.

“…No. I learned very late in my life that I do not care for others in that way.”

Sarek looks at him. “But you were…content?”

Spock thinks of all the people he had come to care about, and who had cared for him. “Yes, I was.”

Sarek seems to accept this, and turns his gaze to the sand at his bare feet. Spock can only take several more moments of watching this man who could be his father mourn for his wife and his planet before he has to go back inside.

 

--

 

A New Vulcan week later, some more huts are built to relieve the pressure of large family units all living in one space. Spock, after making sure the ones who need it most have taken what they need, picks one of the huts for himself.

He packs his meager possessions – there are only two things that he has now that he didn’t have when he arrived, and they are the lyre that Sarek replicated for him and one of the few remaining paintings by the famous painter T’Mek, gifted to him by the colony for his assistance. Spock had felt like he was the last person who deserved such a gift, but it isn’t the Vulcan way to reject a gift so he had accepted it.

Sarek watches him from the doorway. When Spock had told him of his departure, he had merely requested that they still have meals together once a week. Spock had agreed, as there was no logical reason to refuse. It is a fair exchange for having his own space again.

It will be a relief, he thinks, to finally be apart from Sarek.

 

--

 

In reality, the loneliness is unbearable.

At night, the emptiness stretches and yawns, both in Spock and outside. Where there used to be the pleasant sounds of wind brushing the sand and le’matya howling, now there is only silence. The only fauna discovered on this planet so far have been small, most of them fossorial creatures, and there is an unsettling lack of wind.

Spock lays on his mat and thinks of all that he has lost. He thinks of Michael, the only one who truly understood him, sacrificing herself for the good of everyone as she always did. He thinks of Pike, who guided him and helped him understand himself in his early years. He thinks of Sybok, who was the only person who had ever looked at him and seen his humanity as a gift. He thinks of Jim, whose warm smiles and steady presence had grounded Spock more than he had ever realized. He thinks of Scott, who he had mourned for 70 years before encountering him again, bonding over transwarp theories and red matter before losing him once again. He thinks of his mother, who had taught him all the good things of being human. He thinks of Nyota, who had challenged him to look outside of himself for once and learn about and from others. He thinks of Hikaru, who remains the only human who could ever beat him in martial arts, and thus always provided a thoughtful emotional outlet for him. He thinks of Pavel, who tried to make him laugh and always seemed overjoyed to be around him and learn from him, even if he never succeeded. He thinks of Leonard, who poked and prodded at him and challenged his world view every day, but also stood by him always. He thinks of Vulcan, of its deserts and mountains and millennia of history.

He thinks of his father, and the relationship they had barely had.

He weeps, for the first time in many, many years, and he cannot seem to stop.

 

--

 

As the colony’s construction progresses, it becomes clear that the education of the remaining children is severely lacking. Not enough teachers survived the destruction of Vulcan, so Spock is asked to assist in teaching at the orphanage. Most of the children there have barely survived the severing of their familial bonds, and much of their time until now has been spent recovering their mental faculties. The ones that are deemed recovered are sent to Spock’s class, but even he can tell that they are not at 100%. They cannot focus, and have very little stamina for things outside of themselves.

Spock has never had a familial bond, except for an extremely weak one he had shared with Sybok, and he cannot help but feel that this makes him unqualified for the position. If he cannot relate to their pain, how can he ever hope to reach them? He tries basic elementary pod-like class-structure at first, but quickly finds that this is as unhelpful now as it was for Michael when she first came to Vulcan. Isolating the children only serves to draw them further back into themselves, so the next day he tries a different approach.

He takes the children out into the desert—not far, but enough to feel the sand against their feet and the sun on their skin. He brings chemistry model-building kits made on Earth out with them. This universe’s Leonard and Scott had given them to him when he’d mentioned to them the lack of science learning equipment available on the colony. They had both seemed sheepish when they’d dropped them off, apologizing for not having anything better, but now they seem perfect.

Vulcans have always been tactile creatures, so Spock teaches the children about atoms and organic chemistry as they follow along and build the molecules from their kits. And, to his relief, this works. The kids focus better with something concrete to pay attention to and touch with their hands, and the physical sand at their feet seems to ground them to their current reality more than before.

And finally, slowly, curiosity about the world returns to the children. They ask him all sorts of questions, some he doesn’t even have the answer to, and Spock realizes that perhaps he was the logical choice for this job after all, because he has already learned how to live without the familial bonds.

As he supervises the children running through some basic experiments with their kits, Spock thinks about how fortunate he really is to have a second chance with his father. These children have lost their parents forever, and while Spock has also, he equally has another man who is in many ways his father, and is at least willing to fill the role.

As a child, Spock had always wondered what a parental bond felt like. He had tried asking Sybok, but his older brother’s attempts at explanation had been completely incomprehensible, and they’d both been too young to attempt to meld with each other without one of them getting hurt. His childhood self, and likely these children as well, would have jumped at this opportunity to experience such a bond, and Spock wonders what it is that’s really stopping him.

 

--

 

That night, while Spock is going through some old files on his PADD, he finds a holovid of his father giving his acceptance speech when he took the ambassador position for the Federation.

Our primary goal has always been the pursuit of knowledge, Sarek says. It has been so many years since Spock heard his father’s voice or seen his face that he has to pause the video for a moment to process. He takes a deep breath, centers himself in his mind, and continues the recording. “Without knowledge, without understanding, there is only fear of the unknown. There is only hate and prejudice and war. And I believe that the only true way our two peoples can come to understand each other is to work together, live together, communicate together. In peace. I seek to bridge the gap between us so that there may be understanding.

The video ends, and Spock is left staring at his father’s face. He wonders if his father had ever found that understanding, if Spock has himself. He had started to understand his father, but he still doesn’t fully, and now an opportunity has presented itself to understand. It won’t be the same, obviously, but it will be something.

And Spock finds, at this point in his life, that he wants that something. He wants to understand.

 

--

 

He has the next day off, so he invites Sarek to his hut for lunch.

Sarek arrives punctually and quietly, leaving his shoes by the door and following Spock out back behind the hut. Spock has laid down a blanket and several plates of pok tar. Sarek raises an eyebrow.

“Humans call this a ‘picnic’,” Spock explains. “I thought perhaps it was worth experiencing.”

“Do humans enjoy sand in their food?” Sarek asks, but kneels on one side of the blanket.

Spock’s mouth quirks. “I believe my friends Jim and Leonard would say it gives the food ‘character’.”

Sarek looks even more bewildered by this. Spock doesn’t bother attempting to explain, as he’s not sure he understands it either.

They settle in to eat. Vulcans do not often use mealtimes for conversing, though Spock and Sarek are probably the sole exceptions due to Amanda’s influence. However, even they generally prefer to eat first and speak later.

“The work you have done for the colony is admirable,” Sarek says when he is done, without inflection, and somehow it is this that finally breaks Spock.

He takes a deep breath, sets his plate down, and meets his father’s eyes. “I wish to accept your offer to meld, if you are still amenable. I…wish to know you.”

Sarek looks at him, and then nods once.

They return to the hut, as the weather on New Vulcan is still unpredictable enough to make a long session where neither of them are outside of themselves unwise. Sarek sets out some blankets for them to sit on and starts lighting meditation candles. Spock sits cross-legged on the blanket and closes his eyes, trying to find a light meditative state. He does not want to be closed off to Sarek, but he is unsure if he will be able to stop his instinctive defenses.

Sarek’s weight settles across from him, and Spock opens his eyes again. Sarek’s fingers go up to his face, splaying gently against his psi points. Their eyes meet. Spock takes a small breath. He nods.

The initial meld doesn’t make much sense. Spock doesn’t know if it is because they are from different universes, and thus inevitably have incompatible brain chemistries, or if it is because they both equate the other with another person, but at first they can’t find a single centimeter of common ground.

The point where they finally find each other is, unfortunately, the destruction of Vulcan. Spock flinches away from it, his guilt clouding the memory, but this is how Sarek pins down his mind and enters into a proper meld with him.

Spock is unsure what to do at first, what to show Sarek, so Sarek begins, showing him different aspects of his life. His life has been more or less the same as Spock’s own father, so there is nothing too surprising. Taking his lead, Spock shows him a brief summary of his own life. He shows him serving on the Enterprise, under both Pike and Jim. He shows him his attempt, and ultimate failure, at the kolinahr. He shows him his death and subsequent resurrection. He shows him Sybok’s fate, and negotiating with the Klingons. He shows him his various projects as a Federation ambassador, and his work on reuniting Vulcan and Romulus. He shows him the destruction of Romulus, and his subsequent arrival in the alternate timeline.

He thinks that will be it. Quick. Simple. Easy.

But then, without fully meaning to, Spock falls into the memories of his own father. Perhaps it is inevitable, considering who he is sharing this meld with. Sarek follows him, and the memories start playing like a holovid in their shared consciousness, all meshed together into one long narrative:

The first time Spock meditates with his father, he can’t focus. He is five, and he is bored – he wants to explore in the mountains, or play with I’Chaya in the garden. He doesn’t want to sit here, his father centimeters away from him, and watch him sit there, impossibly still, with his eyes closed.

“Spock, cease fidgeting,” his father says without opening his eyes.

Spock freezes and guiltily rearranges his limbs back into the proper meditation pose. He closes his eyes and tries to look within, but he doesn’t understand what he’s looking at. He opens his eyes again and frowns in frustration. “I don’t get it!”

“Be patient. Sometimes it takes time to assess your mental condition.”

Spock tries again, but it is hard for him to pay attention for very long. There is nothing concrete to focus on, and his thoughts get so jumbled up sometimes he can’t tell left from right, emotion from logic, human from Vulcan.

“Why do I have to do this, Father?” he asks. “It is boring.”

“You must learn,” his father says sternly. “It is the Vulcan way.”

He knows this will get Spock to obey, and it does. Spock wants to be Vulcan – he doesn’t want to be human. Being human has so far brought him nothing but misery. He wants to stop being singled out at school. He wants to control his emotions without difficulty, as his peers do. He wants to stop feeling like he isn’t Vulcan or human.

So he straightens, closes his eyes, and tries to focus only on the smell of the incense.

When he is seven, he meets a girl named T’Pring. She is to be his bondmate, he is told by his father before T’Pring and her parents arrive. As a child, Spock has little concept of what this means. He figures it is like having a friend, though he has never had one so he cannot be certain.

As soon as their parents leave them alone together, she questions why his eyes are so different from hers. He tells her it is due to his human half, though he is reluctant to admit this. If she is to be his bondmate, however, it is likely that she already knows of his mixed heritage.

“I do not understand why a half-breed would want to pair with a full-Vulcan,” she says. It isn’t said meanly, but with genuine curiosity.

He still flinches back at the term, and he is too young to hide the pain of it from his face. He thinks of the kids at school who spit the same word in his face and bar him from joining in with their activities. They do not like him, and he doesn’t like them. He doesn’t think he likes T’Pring, either. 

“My parents arranged this,” he says eventually, when he can reign in his control.

She tilts her head slightly. “Wouldn’t you prefer a human?”

“No,” he grits out, stiffening.

“I would,” she says. “They would be an outsider, like you.”

He refuses to say another word to her for the rest of the meeting.

“I do not wish to bond with T’Pring,” Spock says when T’Pring and her parents have gone home.

Sarek glances up from his PADD. “What is your reasoning?”

Spock hesitates. He cannot say that she demeans him just as the kids at school do, or that he doesn’t like her, for these are emotional responses and his father will not accept them. If Sarek had seen Spock’s inability to suppress the pain he felt at T’Pring’s words, Spock would have been disciplined. Sarek has never been understanding of his human tendencies, and he will not start now.

“She is…unsatisfactory,” he says eventually.

Sarek frowns. “In what way?”

“We are not compatible…intellectually,” he says haltingly.

“I do not understand. Your teachers say she is the same level as you in school.” Sarek kneels in front of Spock. “Spock. Vulcans do not lie. Tell me the true reason you do not wish to bond with T’Pring.”

Spock stares down at his feet and mumbles, “She referred to me as a half-breed and told me I should bond with a human. I do not like her.”

“Spock, you are acting based on your emotions, not your logic. This is not acceptable.” Sarek’s gaze seems to burn Spock’s skin, and then he stands abruptly. “The bond will go forward. Perhaps T’Pring can help you learn to set your emotions aside.”

His father leaves Spock standing there, staring at the floor and trying not to cry.

Throughout Spock’s childhood, the L’langon Mountains near his home are his only reprieve. He goes there when everything is too much, which is frequently, and he does not inform his parents, concerned that they will attempt to stop him or follow him. He sneaks out at night, when they will not notice or be able to follow his tracks, and he stays away for hours, days, weeks, however long it takes to feel he is in control again. He spends part of his time practicing his meditation and control techniques in complete privacy, but when he is not doing that, he explores. He catalogues different plant species and soil types, conducts wildlife surveys, and constructs a detailed map of the area. He finds this scientific exploration of the place he adores more comforting than anything else in his life. When he is in the mountains, no one is around to judge him – no one is around to be disappointed in him. He can just be.

One day, when he is ten, he sneaks back in his bedroom window to find his father standing in the middle of the room.

“Spock,” Sarek says, his voice completely toneless. “You have been gone for 12.65 days.” 

Spock says nothing. He has been raised not to lie, but that does not mean he has to divulge the truth.

“Where did you go? What did you do? Your mother was concerned for you.”

Still, Spock says nothing. He cannot bear his father finding out about the mountains – they are the only thing he has.

They sit in silence for 23.4 minutes. Finally, Sarek says sternly, “You are not allowed to leave this house without telling us where you are going.”

Spock nods. He stays home for a week and then sneaks out to the mountains again. When he returns, his father is once again waiting, but this time he restricts Spock to the house and his school. The doors and windows no longer respond to Spock’s voice commands, and he must be escorted by his parents or one of his siblings to school. It is humiliating, as it is supposed to be, but still Spock says nothing.

And, when he is finally freed, he once again returns to the mountains. The punishment will always be worth the freedom of escape from his father.

Spock is fifteen, and he has not gone through pon farr. He finds it is a relief more than anything, but he knows this will not last long. Word will get out, and his classmates will use it against him as further proof that he is not as Vulcan as they think he should be, as he wants to be.

Sarek finds Spock meditating in the garden, attempting to prepare himself for the backlash he will face at school. He is struggling, however – he cannot seem to get how he feels about not experiencing pon farr under control. He had dreaded the onset of pon farr, but now that he has not gone through it he worries that perhaps the kids at school are right. If he does not go through pon farr and he can barely keep his emotions under control no matter how much he studies Surak’s teachings, then how can he call himself a Vulcan? Perhaps his green blood and his telepathy are all that he has. Perhaps he is not Vulcan, after all.

Spock falls out of his meditation with a soft noise of frustration. He is startled to realize that his father is sitting next to him, though some distance away so as not to intrude on his privacy. He doesn’t know what to say to him. He feels like he has failed him.

“T’Pau says your Vulcan blood is thin,” Sarek says, and Spock barely stops himself from flinching. “But it is not true. You simply need more study, and practice. Pon farr is not what defines a Vulcan. Logic is.”

“I have studied,” Spock says, fighting to keep his voice even. “I have studied for most of my life. I have practiced. I can assure you that I have studied and practiced more than anyone else my age. But it is not enough – it will never be enough. My human blood is a hindrance.” 

“Your mother would be displeased to hear that.”

Spock grits his teeth and has to work to disperse the sudden anger that floods through him. He closes his eyes, imagines it flowing into his arteries and out into his extremities. He thinks of it evaporating through his skin and leaving his body like it never existed. He finally speaks. “I wish to follow the teachings of Surak, as you also wish. However, because of my human half, I have struggled all my life. I have trouble containing my emotions, where others my age have complete control. My telepathic skills are weak, and I have trouble retaining my sense of self even in light melds. And now, I do not experience pon farr. So tell me Father, what part of me is Vulcan, as you say?”

Sarek doesn’t answer, and Spock exhales harshly. It hurts more than he can deal with just then that Sarek doesn’t even attempt to refute his claims. “I request that you do not sit there and pretend that you don’t wish I was fully Vulcan.”

He gets up and leaves, and his father does not follow him.

Spock is eighteen, and he has decided to leave Vulcan. The Vulcan Science Academy has offered him a position, but when he thinks about serving for an institution that will always consider him as less than his colleagues, he can hardly stand it. No matter how much he excels or what he discovers, it will be he that is the experiment, not his work. They will wonder how he can have such a scientific mind, with his human hindrance. They will be waiting for him to make a mistake, so that they can pounce on it and blame his humanness for it.

The thought is unbearable.

But the thought of not pursuing scientific research is also unbearable, so he looks for other options. The most compelling one is to join Starfleet. Exploring parts of the galaxy that are currently uncharted presents a certain fascination, and he will be one of the first aliens to join Starfleet. Thus, while perhaps he will still be viewed as an experiment, at least he will be seen as Vulcan. His human side will not be a hindrance, but a point of connection.

For the first time, he will not have to constantly defend himself.

It is vastly appealing.

He waits until he hears that he has been accepted into the Academy before informing his parents that he will be leaving. Amanda has mixed feelings – joy that her son is pursuing his passions and getting to spend some time on Earth, and sorrow that he will be so far away from her. Sarek shuts down in a way that means he is not pleased.

“I do not understand your decision to reject the offer from the Vulcan Science Academy,” he says. “What is to be gained by leaving Vulcan?”

“A deeper understanding of the universe. Enrichment from encountering phenomena and species that were previously unknown to us,” Spock replies evenly. He knows better than to bring up his personal reasons. “I do not understand your objection. You yourself are an Ambassador to the Federation.”

“I represent Vulcan thoughts and ideals within the Federation, and support Federation goals. However, I believe Starfleet is too militaristic, too ready to promote violence instead of peace. As Surak has taught us, peace can only be accomplished once both sides are willing to cooperate without the threat of violence.”

The mention of Surak is pointed. Spock finds himself closing off. “I believe you are incorrect. Starfleet encourages exploration and the pursuit of knowledge. It wishes to form peaceful relations with new species. Weaponry is only necessary as a form of protection. After all, it is illogical to assume that all species we encounter will be as equally interested in peace. On Vulcan, many died before Surak achieved peace. Do you believe that officers devoted to science and exploration should be lost simply because they were not prepared to defend themselves?”

Sarek tilts his head. “And do you believe that a ship bearing weaponry and a ship without carry the same message when making first contact?”

Spock’s mouth sets. As much as he would usually enjoy debating the morality of Starfleet philosophies, he knows this is not what this argument is really about. This argument is about Sarek believing that Spock is making the wrong choice. That his logic is faulty.

“I believe that Starfleet can provide me with an environment necessary for my growth as an individual,” he says eventually. “Vulcan, as of now, cannot.”

“…Then you have decided to abandon our way of life? Live as a human? It seems I am destined to raise sons who care nothing for Vulcan and our ways.”

Spock physically recoils at the suggestion. He is hurt, and he is ashamed to know that Sarek must be able to see it on his face. “…No. My decision is the only way I can see at this time that will allow me to live as a Vulcan, as I have decided to do. If you knew anything about me, Father, you would know that I want nothing more than to follow the Vulcan way of life.”

Sarek stares at him, studying him. Eventually he drops his gaze, and his disappointment is practically palpable. Spock has to swallow back a sudden surge of emotion, and he turns and leaves before he can lose control of himself.

He and his father do not speak for eighteen years. Spock tells no one about his family, and ultimately tries to think of his father as little as possible. He finds himself falling comfortably into Vulcan rituals around his human acquaintances, and due to its nuances none of them notice when he occasionally slips up. It is refreshing, and when Spock first steps foot on the Enterprise and meets Captain Pike, he knows he has made the right choice.

He does not see his father again until he is 38, and his parents have come onboard the Enterprise. They had almost encountered one another when they’d lost Michael, but Spock had been too grief-stricken and frustrated over his inability to go with her to face his father and whatever condescending words he might have had. Even now, when he knows a meeting is inevitable, he has neglected to tell anyone that his parents will be coming aboard, which he regrets only when Jim stumbles over a social faux pas in front of them because of it.

Spock finds himself stiff and defensive with his father onboard. He doesn’t like the way Sarek seems to brush off his friends, leaving the tour that he had requested early after Jim had taken the time to show him the ship, refusing to answer any of Leonard’s Vulcan physiological questions in-depth. His friends have come to mean a lot to him, and he bristles at the realization that his father is not granting them the respect they deserve.

But then he finds out that his father has been having heart attacks and needs extensive surgery. And that Spock is the only one who can donate blood for him, or else he will die.

He would do so, without question, if Jim was not also injured and he was not in command of the ship. But he is, and he cannot set aside his responsibilities for personal reasons. He knows that; his father knows that.

But while he is on the Bridge, he is distracted, consumed with thoughts of his father. He realizes, after some time, that what he feels is regret. He and his father have never been on good terms, have never been able to understand one another, and now Sarek will die without either of them truly attempting to remedy the situation.

And he will die because Spock decided to give his loyalties to Starfleet.

The Bridge doors open suddenly, and Jim himself walks over to the captain’s chair.

Spock blinks at him. “Captain?”

“I’ll take over, Mister Spock,” Jim says. “You report to Sickbay with Doctor McCoy.”

“Captain, are you quite alright?” Spock asks, hardly believing it. He’d seen Jim’s stab wound himself – it had been deep.

“I’ve certified him physically fit, Mister Spock,” Leonard interjects. “Now since I have an operation to perform and both of us are required—”

“Get out, Spock,” Jim says, smiling.

Spock stares at him, and continues to stare at him as he gets up from the chair and Jim takes his place. Eventually, he decides that it’s hardly his place to question both of them, even if it is a deception, so he follows Leonard into the turbolift.

He is groggy and disoriented when the procedure is over, drained from all of the blood he’d had to donate. Leonard keeps them all confined to Sickbay, an illogical choice fitting for an illogical man, but Spock finds he is strangely grateful for it. It gives him time to process his feelings from before, and think about what he wants to say to his father.  

He waits until Jim has recovered and returned to the Bridge, and then requests that he and his father have the recovery ward to themselves. Leonard, surprisingly understanding, simply puts a hand on his shoulder and leaves the room with Amanda in tow.

“Father,” Spock says, standing by Sarek’s biobed stiffly with his hands behind his back. “I am pleased you are recovering.”

Sarek rolls his head on the pillow a little to look at him. “Your surgeon is quite skilled.”

“Doctor McCoy is a credit to his field,” Spock says, something he would not have if Leonard had still been in the room. He is pleased that at least now his father seems to hold some respect for his friend.

They say nothing more for a long time. Spock struggles to find words – now that he is here, all he can seem to remember is his father’s cold expression after telling him he was going to join Starfleet. “Father, I…I do not wish to always be at odds over my career choice.”

Sarek closes his eyes, and for a moment Spock believes he has slipped into unconsciousness. But then he says, quietly, “Perhaps…we can agree to disagree. You seem to be doing admirable work here. Your colleagues respect you.”

It is not an apology, but it is something. Something Spock can work with. “I believe that will be possible, Father.”

They try to repair their relationship after that.

Sarek expresses some interest in his research, so Spock starts sending him the papers he publishes in Starfleet journals. They begin to discuss science and debate in a way that they never could before. And though they still tend to get frosty and defensive when a comment doesn’t quite land correctly, Spock feels closer to his father than he ever has before.

So much so that when the Enterprise’s five-year mission nears its end, he considers going back to Vulcan. He had thought that living among humans would help him follow the Vulcan way of life, and in some ways it has - he feels more like a Vulcan when he is surrounded by humans and their lack of logic. But it hasn’t necessarily helped him get better at Vulcan cultural practices like emotional control, either. Instead, it only seems to have made matters worse. His control slips too easily when his friends are hurt, and he finds himself becoming complacent when he argues with Leonard or plays chess with Jim or plays his lyre with Nyota. Additionally, there are too many foreign substances and alien species that they have encountered that can render his control useless. Therefore, it seems too dangerous and unpredictable to continue living with these emotions that feel more and more out of his control each day.

He returns to Vulcan, and decides to attempt the kolinahr. He figures his father will be pleased, but both of his parents attempt to discourage him from the procedure.

“You believe I will fail,” he says, stone-faced.

“I believe it will not be healthy for you if you succeed,” Amanda argues. Sarek says nothing, just looks at him with that gaze that Spock knows too well.

“It is the only way our people find true logic and peace.” Spock clasps his hands tightly behind his back. “I must attempt to find it, for my own sake if nothing else.”

They let him go. Spock realizes as he walks away that if he succeeds, he will never feel this way again.

It is a vast relief.

But, perhaps inevitably, he fails the kolinahr.

There is shame in this, great shame, but it is at the back of his mind. Instead, he thinks of the mind he had felt, and the deep emotions it had left him with. He thinks of the Enterprise. He thinks of his friends, who had protested his decision to go through the kolinahr even more than his parents had. At least they, he thinks, will be pleased to know he did not succeed.

His father approaches him as he is packing to return to Earth.

“You and Mother were correct,” Spock says, not looking at him. “I could not complete the kolinahr.”

Kolinahr is not always the answer,” Sarek says.

Spock stares at his half-packed bag. “It was for me.”

But now…he will have to learn how to live with his emotions. Again.

“I thought you would approve of the kolinahr,” Spock adds, a hint of accusation in his voice.

Sarek folds his hands into the sleeves of his robe. “I believe finding logic comes from the examination and understanding of emotion, not its erasure. Without emotion, we are unable to understand the logic of species who conform to emotionalism. Without emotion, we lose our past, we lose who we are. There are ways to find logic without resorting to such extremes.”

“Then why—” Spock starts, but has to swallow back the sudden surge of emotion that clogs his throat.

Why did you encourage its erasure in me, is left unsaid.

He leaves Vulcan once again, and this time his father watches him go.

Spock is 55, and he dies to protect his friends.

He gives Leonard his katra, and memory becomes an abstract thing, important only for those with a body. He doesn’t remember much of that time when he’s miraculously restored to his own body, just vague impressions of Leonard’s mind pressed against his and emotions he was unable to control. He doesn’t remember much of anything else either, and for a long time he feels lost, afloat. So much so that he begins to wonder if perhaps he has always felt lost.

He spends the majority of his recovery with his father. It is the most time they’ve spent together since Spock was a child, but he doesn’t fully remember the significance of this until much later.

He does, however, notice his father’s reluctance to discuss their past.

“I do not remember much of our relationship,” Spock says to him one day, a month after he has been restored to his body. “I am curious why we have never discussed it.”

Sarek looks at him evenly. “I have always had difficulties understanding your point of view. I would not be able to give you an unbiased account of our relations.”

Spock considers this. “Then we have had…a complicated relationship.”

“Indeed.”

“…Why?”

Sarek doesn’t answer at first. After a great length of time, he finally says, “Because you are my son.”

Spock doesn’t understand, but that is not unusual to him anymore, so he lets the subject drop.

Two months later, Spock goes to ancient Earth with the Enterprise crew and feels he is finally himself again. His memories are fully restored, and he believes he is starting to understand himself better than he did before. The only evidence of his ordeal is the weak link he retains with Leonard due to the fal-tor-pan, the closest thing he’s ever had to a familial bond. He finds himself curious about it, experimenting with it so much that Leonard eventually playfully growls at him to ‘stop messing around in his head’. Despite this, Spock feels Leonard poking and prodding at him through the bond every once in a while, his curiosity getting the better of him too.

When they return to modern day Earth, Sarek attends their trial. Once the verdict is declared, Spock joins his father at the back of the hall, facing him with his hands behind his back. “Father.”

“I am returning to Vulcan within the hour,” Sarek says, hands folded in front of him. “I would like to take my leave of you.”

Spock struggles for a moment. There is so much left unsaid between them, so much misunderstood. He remembers that now, when he hadn’t before. But he has never been able to discuss these things with his father, and he suspects that Sarek has the same difficulties. So he settles for simply saying, “It was most kind of you to make this effort.”

“It was no effort. You are my son.” Spock blinks hard at this, and Sarek either doesn’t notice or kindly lets it pass without comment. “Besides, I am most impressed with your performance in this crisis.”

Spock cannot remember his father ever telling him such things. He finds himself continuing to struggle for words, a problem he has not had often in his life. “Most kind.”

“As I recall, I opposed your enlistment in Starfleet. …It is possible that judgment was incorrect. Your associates are people of good character.”

It…means more than Spock can process at the moment to hear Sarek say this. He had been so convinced that Spock had made an erroneous judgment, when Spock’s experiences had only cemented to him that he made the right one. That Sarek acknowledges he was wrong is…monumental. “…They are my friends.”

Sarek nods, and the very corner of his mouth ticks up slightly. “Yes, of course.”

They stand in silence for a moment before Sarek continues, “Do you have a message for your mother?”

This, at least, is simple to address. “Yes. Tell her…I feel fine.”

Sarek lifts his eyebrow, but he knows Amanda well enough to not truly be surprised.

Spock swallows back another surge of emotion and lifts his hand in the ta’al. “Live long and prosper, Father.”

“Live long and prosper, my son,” Sarek says, returning the gesture.

They part ways, the first time they have done so on good terms. Spock wonders if this will allow them the chance to once again begin repairing their relationship and bridge the gap that seems so wide between them.

However, speaking casually to each other is not a habit either one of them have, so the next time Spock speaks to his father, it is to inform him about Sybok.

It is hard for him to process what has happened to his brother. As a child, Sybok and Michael had been the only people who Spock had felt close to. They were the only ones who accepted him fully for who he was, and never judged him for the occasional lapse in control. Back then, there was a part of him that had longed to follow Sybok and his ideals, because with him Spock knew he would never be criticized for his human side. But he had chosen the path of logic, and no amount of arguments on Sybok’s part had changed his mind. It hadn’t been an easy decision, however, and when Sybok was banished from Vulcan, Spock had felt like a part of his soul had been banished, too.

He never thought he would see Sybok again, and when he did it was not on good terms. Holding the rifle to Sybok’s chest is an image that will surely haunt Spock for the rest of his life. He regrets that he didn’t have the opportunity to reconnect with Sybok, now that he is more in touch with himself. Perhaps they could have established the proper familial bond they had wished to as children.

But there had been no time, and now Sybok is dead. The only familial bond Spock will ever have is the one he shares with Leonard. It is stronger now, but currently dull with distance, and Spock feels his brother’s absence more than ever.

When he arrives at his parents’ home on Vulcan, Sarek must be able to see it in his face, for he lets him in without question.

They sit out in the garden and Spock tells Sarek about Sybok. He tells him of the hostage situation on Nimbus III and Sybok hijacking the Enterprise. He tells him of Sybok’s search for Sha Ka Ree and the subsequent false god they had found there. He tells him of Sybok’s sacrifice to save the rest of them, his regret for putting them in such a dangerous situation.

“He never did wish any harm on anyone,” Sarek says when Spock has finished. “He abhorred violence.”

Spock nods. “He died fighting for peace. As a Vulcan would, as Surak did.”

Sarek glances at him. “I imagine he would not appreciate the comparison to the Father of Logic.”

“Perhaps not.”

Sarek is silent for a long time. “…He was misguided.”

“No.” Spock looks up at the stars. “He was simply trying to find the place where he belonged.”

Sarek seems to struggle with this for a moment. “…Perhaps he would’ve succeeded if I had been more of a father to him.”

This is surprising, to say the least. It is not often that Sarek admits to making mistakes. “I do not believe you could have provided him with what he was searching for.”

“Perhaps not.”

They fall into silence again. Spock thinks of his brother’s extraordinary ability to sense others’ pain, and to help them deal with it. While he did not approve of his tendency to do it despite explicit refusal, like with Leonard, it is true that facing that pain can bring some sort of comfort and release.

He thinks about what Sybok had revealed for him, and decides he can try facing it for his brother.

“Sybok told me…” Spock stops, starts over, “When I was born, did you truly say that I was ‘so human’?”

Sarek meets his eyes. “I did.”

Perhaps he sees something crumble in Spock’s face, for he quickly adds, “At the time, only your ears appeared Vulcan. Your green blood had not yet dominated, so you were very pink as a baby. It was merely an observation.”

Spock doesn’t know what to say to this, so he says nothing. Vulcans do not lie, and yet Spock has always had trouble taking his father at face value. He wonders if Sarek truly meant no emotion behind those words.

They speak on and off for the next several years, and when Spock is 63, Sarek comes to visit him onboard the Enterprise-A.

“Your mission onboard the Enterprise will be ending soon,” Sarek says after Spock has replicated some Vulcan spice tea for him and they are sitting on Spock’s rarely used couch. “Have you considered what you will do after?”

Spock takes a sip of his tea to delay answering. The truth is that he has not. Starfleet has once again offered him a teaching position at the Academy, but the prospect is no more appealing than it was before. The Vulcan Science Academy has also extended him an offer, and while considerably more appealing, Spock is unsure if he would be satisfied living a stationary life on Vulcan after all this time. He has been, as Jim and Leonard would put it, spoiled by space exploration. There is upsettingly little he finds interesting outside of being a science officer onboard a starship, specifically the Enterprise.

“I have not yet come to a decision,” he says finally, a half-truth.

Sarek nods and sets his tea down. “I believe you have the qualifications to be a successful diplomat.”

Spock considers his father for a moment. Even though they have become closer in later years, he still doesn’t know how to read his father, or understand him enough to guess his intentions. But he can still recognize this for what it is – Sarek’s attempts, once again, to encourage him to follow his own career path.

He finds, however, that this time he is not so adverse to the idea. While he had not been particularly interested or skilled in his diplomatic duties onboard the Enterprise, establishing peace in the quadrant is something he believes in. Too often Starfleet has to rely on a show of strength to achieve peace, and not enough Federation citizens are unbiased or non-hostile enough to attempt important peace negotiations. It is what Sarek has always disapproved of, but Spock had not realized it himself until he had been on the Enterprise and seen what was often required.

Perhaps, as Leonard would no doubt say, it is time to put down the rifle.

“It is true that peace and stability have been elusive in this quadrant,” Spock says slowly. “There are not enough of us who believe in negotiations over firepower.”

Sarek nods. “Indeed. The Federation has gathered many enemies, and would not fare well if said enemies decided to attack all at once.”

“…What do you suggest?”

“A peace treaty with the Klingons.”

“The Klingons have considered us their sworn enemies for decades.” He thinks of Michael, and upon seeing Sarek’s hands tighten in his lap, knows that he is thinking of her too. “Do you think they would be open to peace negotiations?”

“Surely they are as depleted in resources as we are. It is illogical to sustain war for no reason except that no one has yet attempted peace.”

“And you believe that I should take the initiative?”

“You are well known across the galaxy because of your service with Captain Kirk and the Enterprise. The Klingons know of you, and what you and your ship are capable of. I believe they will listen to you.”

“…The hostilities must end if we are ever to have peace,” Spock says, meeting his father’s eyes. “I will try.”

But Spock’s first act as a diplomat, perhaps predictably, does not go well.

Gorkon, the Chancellor of the Klingon High Council is murdered, Jim and Leonard are framed and tried for it, and Spock spends most of his time on the Bridge of the Enterprise, attempting to find out what really happened. Though they figure it out and are able to rescue Jim and Leonard and save the conference before any serious damage can be done, Spock cannot help but feel this is his fault. It had been agony, feeling Leonard’s deep chill and pained exhaustion through their bond and being able to do almost nothing about it. Jim and Leonard are near death when they collect them, and Spock’s hands clasp tightly behind his back.

He shies away from additional diplomatic duties for a while after that. After the Enterprise is officially decommissioned, Spock goes with Jim and Leonard on an extensive backpacking trip in the Himalayas. It is good to spend some time together where Spock can keep an eye on them and be assured that they are alright.

His comm beeps with incoming calls from Sarek several times, but he does not answer.

When they return from their trip, Spock finds that peace treaties with the Klingons have been signed. Despite all that had occurred, his attempts at diplomacy had, in the end, succeeded.

He is considering attempting the diplomatic route once more when he learns that Jim has died. In a state of numbness he has not experienced since Sybok, Spock withdraws from Starfleet and the public eye. He spends his time with Leonard in the cabin he owns in Georgia, mourning their close friend of so many years. Life without Jim seems impossible at first – Spock has always relied on his advice and friendship to get through just about everything. Without him, he feels lost, unsure of how to proceed.

After several years, Leonard encourages him to return to his original plan of attempting diplomacy again. When Spock has finally rebuilt his shields and processed his grief, he decides to try another diplomatic mission. However, this time, he is determined to do it alone. If he is going to have a diplomatic career, he will be doing it without putting anyone he cares about in danger again.

He contacts Pardek, the Romulan senator he had met at the Khitomer conference. When they had discussed reunification at the time, Pardek had seemed very open-minded and willing to discuss terms. As the call to Romulus connects, Spock is pleased to see that Pardek still seems eager to talk to him. They speak for hours about the barriers between their two peoples and the work that still needs to be done. Pardek tells Spock about his career and the reforms he has sponsored, both those that have worked and those that have failed.

When the call is over, Spock feels optimistic about taking the first steps to repairing the rift between Vulcan and Romulus. As his father had encouraged him to enter into the world of diplomacy, Spock is eager to share this news with him.

When he arrives on Vulcan, however, Sarek gives him that same old look he has always given him – that of disappointment.

“It is illogical to believe that we can maintain a dialogue with the Romulans long enough to negotiate peace talks,” Sarek says.

Spock straightens stiffly. “Pardek believes otherwise. He has a lifetime of experience as a senator, and he has sponsored many reforms that have caused just as much turbulence in the Romulan government as discussions of peace will.”

Sarek shakes his head. “But he has no support at home – he is considered a radical, and no doubt a danger to the Romulan leadership. One Romulan senator cannot change the opinions of the entire proconsul. Sooner or later, he will be voted out of office or forced to change his ideals, and when that occurs we will lose our connection to the Romulan Senate.”

“Then is it not logical to attempt peace while we have the opportunity? Peace with the Klingons would never have occurred if we had not taken the initiative.”

“But we knew the Chancellor of the High Council himself was for reform – everyone besides this Pardek on the Romulan proconsul are strongly against it. You will make no headway.”

Spock shakes his head, hardly able to believe what he is hearing. “…You are just as close-minded as the Romulan Senate. Peace will not succeed if no one ever tries, despite the odds.”

“You are letting your emotions influence you,” Sarek says harshly. “There is no logic in pursuing this path.”

“I believe there is,” Spock says, just as coldly. “And I will not give up so easily.”

He turns and leaves, and the tentative peace that had existed between them shatters.

Over the next four decades, the only times they speak are when they are debating diplomatic policies in public. They are rarely on the same side, and their debates have become legendary throughout the Federation. Most diplomats seem unsure of what to do, as their two Vulcan ambassadors are so rarely in agreement that they never know for sure who is truly representing the overall wishes of the Vulcan people.

For Spock, it is exhausting and uncomfortable arguing with his father so publicly. But, for some reason, he keeps at it. Perhaps it is a natural release of all the frustration towards Sarek that he’s kept inside all this time. Perhaps it is because he is defending something he cares immensely about.

Or perhaps it is just because he is stubborn.

For whatever reason, it goes on for many years, and then Amanda’s health starts to fail. 

He and Sarek both withdraw from the public eye and return to Vulcan to be with her. When they are both sitting around her, one on either side of her, she surprises them by chuckling softly.

“To think it took this to bring you two together again,” she says, shaking her head at the both of them.

Spock and Sarek exchange an uncomfortable glance over her, and then look away.

They stay at her bedside, holding her hands, until she takes her last breath.

They attend an Earth-style funeral for Amanda when Spock is 118.

He and Sarek sit stiffly side-by-side, neither of them speaking to each other or even looking at one another. They are both all too aware that Amanda was the only one keeping them together, and they do not know how things will proceed now that she is gone.

Leonard is pressed against Spock’s other side. It means more to Spock than he could ever tell him that he dropped everything he was doing to attend. Based on the soft feelings of comfort Leonard sends across their bond, he seems to understand without Spock saying it.

Spock has had several opportunities at this point to learn how to process grief, but it seems to only get harder, not easier. He never had learned how to tell his mother that he loved her, and though she had always seemed to know, the regret burns within him. What had it been like, surrounded by Vulcans who sometimes couldn’t even say what they thought, let alone felt? She had lost Michael, her only human child, so early, and Sybok even earlier. Had she been lonely? Had she been happy? Spock had never figured out how to ask.

Later, he stands over her grave, everyone gone but Leonard, and feels like he has failed her.

2.2 years later, Sarek sends him a subspace notice that he is getting married again. To another human woman.

Spock is—outraged. He is still processing his grief, spending half of his time in meditation and still barely making any progress, and it is inconceivable to him that Sarek has moved on already. He can guess at the reasoning, though Sarek doesn’t say – pon farr requires a mate, whether one wishes to or not. But pon farr could easily be satiated by a temporary Vulcan partner. He does not understand why Sarek has decided to marry another human.

He wonders what Amanda even was to Sarek, that she can be so easily discarded. Every time he thinks of it, the urge to break something threatens to overwhelm him. 

He does not attend their wedding.

He meets his step-mother, Perrin, on a diplomatic mission. Things are not hostile, but they are not exactly cordial either. Spock’s issue is not with Perrin, but that does not mean he wishes to have a relationship with her. He had hardly had one with his own mother – he will certainly not form one with her replacement.

It is obvious that Sarek is displeased with this, however, and doesn’t hesitate to tell him so.

“You are being rude to Perrin,” he tells him. “It is unbecoming of a Vulcan. Explain why you are acting this way.”

Spock trembles with the effort it takes to restrain his sudden anger. He should not have come on this mission – he knew he wouldn’t be able to stand seeing her, seeing either of them, and yet he had come anyway.

“There is no reason she and I need to have a relationship,” Spock says tightly. “I live an independent life and am in no need of a step-mother.”

“I find your reasoning incomprehensible,” Sarek says. “No doubt your emotions are influencing your actions. Have you decided once and for all to stray from the teachings of our people?”

Spock stiffens. That Sarek seems to have absolutely no idea of how much Spock has struggled to follow the Vulcan way of life, how hard he works every day to restrain his emotions and follow the path of logic, is a slap to the face. It undermines everything Spock has worked for, and utterly destroys the already fragile ground they were standing on.

He decides, once and for all, that he and his father will never have a relationship.

“It is strange to me, Father,” Spock says, toneless, “that you should desire humanity in your partners, but not in your son.”

Sarek is shocked by this – Spock can tell by the way his body freezes. When he says nothing, Spock turns away.

They do not speak cordially for 16 years. They only argue, and as the years go by, it starts to feel like they can’t remember how to do anything else.

When Spock is 136, he receives a message from Perrin. He doesn’t open it for a long time. Though time has healed his anger, he still has no desire to see the new wife of his father, nor even speak to her.

When he receives a second one however, he opens it. It is unlikely she would try to contact him more than once if it was not something important.

Your father has been diagnosed with Bendii Syndrome, is all it says.

Spock sits back, letting the shock roll over him. Bendii Syndrome? Bendii Syndrome is so rare that most Vulcans consider it a folk tale – and yet now Sarek has it. It is a degenerative neurological disease with no known cure, considering it is so rare in the first place, and it will not give Sarek much more time to live. To make matters worse, during the time he has left, he will gradually lose all control over his emotions.

It is a strange irony, really, that Sarek is plagued by the very thing that he has criticized Spock for all his life.

He thinks it, and then feels a pang of guilt. It is not something to make light of. It is debilitating, and in Sarek’s mind no doubt very shameful.

Spock debates for a long time, and then decides he must see him.

When he arrives, Perrin seems pleased to see him. This is unusual, as she is usually quite displeased with him. Ever since he spoke out against his father regarding the Cardassian War, she has been fed up with him and his treatment of his father. She is right, probably, but Spock will not be the one to apologize first.

Perrin leads him into the room where his father spends most of his time now. It is a gray dome, with black linoleum flooring. Sarek’s bed, a dark mat with a small, brown sandstone wall around the edges to prevent him from rolling off in delirium, is situated in the middle of the room. It is the only piece of furniture in the room. The gray walls and the tall, narrow windows in between them are insulated with materials that block telepathic projections. This is for others’ protection more than his father’s – his symptoms have steadily gotten worse and worse so that even highly trained Vulcans have trouble fully blocking his emotional projections from their thoughts.

Spock can feel him even now, pressed up against his consciousness, but now more than ever he has no desire to sense his father’s thoughts.

“…Father,” Spock says stiltedly, standing with his hands behind his back 1.3 meters from his father’s bed.

His father jerks, spinning around to squint at him with distrustful eyes. He very obviously doesn’t recognize him for 23.6 seconds before the confusion clears from his eyes. “Spock. Why are you here?”

“Perrin informed me of your condition,” Spock says.

Sarek’s face twists and he turns his back to him again. He begins muttering, anguish and anger assaulting Spock’s mental shields so that he has to divert all of his attention to maintaining them.

It is…painful to see his father like this. His father was always in control, always proud of his control. To have it ripped away from him like this is…cruel.

“Father,” Spock says, and waits for Sarek to return to himself before continuing, “is there anything I can do for you?”

Sarek frowns, anger lacing his face as he rolls over to face him again. “No. I am in no need of assistance, as I have told you and everyone else before!”

“...Father, you are not well,” Spock says quietly.

This seems to make Sarek irate. He stands abruptly and begins pacing around the room like a caged animal. “I am in good health, I am in control! How dare you suggest otherwise! Is this your next attempt to humiliate me?!”

Spock recoils slightly. “Father—”

“I always valued our arguments, our debates in public – it was all I ever seemed to get from you,” Sarek growls. “But were they just your efforts to discredit me? To claim my logic was faulty after all?”

“…I have also always valued our arguments,” Spock says quietly. “I never wished to undermine you.”

Sarek starts shaking, and Spock moves towards him, only to stop when he realizes it is because his father is sobbing. “Why was that all we had? My son…I wanted to connect with you…”

Spock opens his mouth to respond, but nothing comes out. He has long wanted the answer to this question as well, and it is unnerving to think that his father doesn’t have it either.

“But I never knew what you were doing,” Sarek says, bitterness lacing his voice. “I always asked you, and you refused to tell me. Why did you always refuse to tell me?”

“…I couldn’t bear to face your disappointment,” Spock murmurs, the truth coming out despite himself.

“Disappointment?” Sarek shakes his head. “I was never disappointed. Except perhaps when you chose not to follow my teachings.”

Spock looks down at the floor. “Then why were you always so harsh with me?”

But Sarek has lost himself again, muttering and scratching at his body like he’s trying to escape his skin. Spock takes his elbow and gently leads him back to his bed, laying him down and then sitting on the edge next to him.

For a moment, he just sits there and watches Sarek whisper nonsense to himself. Part of him wishes to stay with him until the end, to try and coax answers out of him before he never has the chance to again. But there is still the part of him that cannot bear to hear the truth, the part that he has never been able to suppress fully. And besides, he knows what his father would say. Vulcans do not mourn, Vulcans do not hover at the side of their loved ones, waiting for them to die. They had done so for Amanda, but she was human and she had needed it.

Sarek will die, and his katra will be preserved in a katric ark, regardless of whether or not Spock is there to witness it.

And perhaps, in the end, the best gift he can give his father is to remember him as he was, instead of how he is, riddled with this disease.  

“Goodbye, Father,” Spock says quietly. He touches his fingers to Sarek’s wrist briefly and then gets up and leaves.

It is the last time he sees his father.

He is 138, and he is on Romulus. He has come to ascertain the public interest in a reunification between Vulcan and Romulus. There is an ever-growing underground movement interested in reunification, but no one on the proconsul is as of yet in favor of the idea. Spock had thought Pardek was, but he betrays the movement and assists in the attempt to overtake Vulcan.

It is only because of Captain Picard, Commander Data, and the Enterprise that they are able to stop it.

Spock likes the new crew of the Enterprise. Leonard had told him his impressions when he had visited it before, and Spock finds himself agreeing with him, for perhaps the first time. He had been unsure about Picard at first, but no doubt this was due to his illogical disillusionment that Picard was speaking with his father’s voice. In reality, Picard is open-minded, intelligent, and possesses a skill for diplomacy. He is a fitting captain, especially of the ship that Spock will always hold dear to him. Data is also an interesting person, and the first functioning android that Spock has ever seen. He and Data have a pleasant conversation about Leonard, and an intriguing exchange about humanity that sticks with Spock long after they have parted.

It is from them that he learns of Sarek’s death.

He had thought this news wouldn’t hit him as hard as the others he has lost in his life. After all, it could be said that he lost his father a long time ago.

But it does hit him hard, and he is nearly breathless from the pain of it. His father is gone. After 138 years of interaction, they had never managed to come to an understanding. Spock will never understand his father’s motives, his thoughts, his decisions. Instead, he will always wonder what he meant to him, if having him as a son had been worth all the apparent torment it had caused him.

“Ironically, you may know Sarek better than his own son does,” Spock tells Picard when he is bidding them farewell from Romulus. “My father and I never chose to meld.”

Picard considers this for a moment and then says, “I offer you the chance to touch what he shared with me.”

Spock blinks, taken aback. This is…an amazing gift that Picard has offered him, one that Spock certainly doesn’t deserve after the way he has treated him.

But it is his last chance to try and understand his father. And he will not refuse it.

Spock touches Picard’s mind, and quickly finds the segment that is distinctly Sarek. Though he does not recognize it from personal experience, it is so vastly different from the rest of Picard’s mind that it sticks out like a beacon. Spock presses against it and is suddenly overwhelmed with memories of…himself.

Him as a newborn baby, mostly pink instead of green at that time, staring up at Sarek with wide, curious eyes. Him as a young child, restraining his emotions successfully for the first time. Countless instances of them meditating together when he was young, Sarek able to feel Spock squirming next to him but not always calling him out on it. His admiration of Spock’s prideful and stubborn nature, despite the frustration he also held for him. Spock’s various science projects, and Sarek’s collection of every journal article Spock has ever published. Sarek’s grief over learning that he had died, and his subsequent determination to help bring him back, regardless of the cost. His pride in Spock for paving the way for peace between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. His frustration, and his sorrow, at his and Spock’s arguments over the years, the rift between them growing larger and larger with each conversation. His regret, that he would die without ever reaching his son. And finally, he saw Sarek through Picard’s eyes, shakily attempting to hold up a ta’al and requesting that Picard tell Spock to live long and prosper.

Spock lets out a shaky breath, and horrifyingly finds himself close to tears. His father had…cared for him. Loved him. He had often not known how to express it, except for trying to guide him as best he could, but he had felt it.

Spock withdraws from Picard’s mind, from his father’s mind, and removes his hand from Picard’s face, fingers trembling.

He meditates for many hours afterwards, trying to process his father’s memories and emotions. He wonders why he and his father had never been able to find a common ground, if this is the way they had felt about one another. Had it been shame for having emotions at all? Misunderstandings? Stubbornness? And if his father did indeed feel such warm emotions for him, why had he always acted otherwise? Spock remembers his father’s criticism and disappointment in him more than he remembers acts of affection. He wonders if his mother knew what had kept them apart, if she had never told them simply because she had always believed they would figure it out.

But they hadn’t. And now Sarek is dead, and they never will.

Spock feels completely hollow, the irrepressible grief emptying him into nothingness.

 

--

 

Spock lets the memories fade away from the shared place he has with Sarek. He experiences a quick flash of panic, unsure suddenly if he actually wants to see what’s in this Sarek’s mind. He is unsure if he can handle witnessing firsthand the close relationship this Sarek has had with his son, so he respectfully tries to break the meld.

Before he can leave, however, Sarek sends him a memory. Spock can’t help but look at it, and he is suddenly drawn further into the meld:

Spock is four years old. He is sitting in his father’s lap while Sarek shows him how to use the computer in front of them. It is the first time Sarek has taught Spock about computers, but he is taking to it quickly.

“Spock, I want you to run a simulation of a payak tree growing,” Sarek says after they have spent a few hours going over basic functions. “I must go to a meeting, but I will check on your progress when I return.”

“Yes, Father,” Spock says, not looking away from the computer.  

Sarek picks up his son with some amusement, stands from the chair, and then sets Spock down in his place. He leaves the office and moves into the living room where their viewscreen is.

The meeting takes its standard hour, and then Sarek returns to the office. What he finds is his son, guilt incompletely suppressed as he stands in the middle of the room with the computer in pieces at his feet.

Sarek blinks. “Spock. Explain what has happened.”

Spock shifts slightly, staring down at his feet. “I finished the simulation you requested, but you had not yet returned so I wished to try and understand how the inner circuitry worked. However…I could not figure out how to put it back together again.”

Sarek stands there for a moment, allowing himself to feel a brief flare of affection and pride for his son. He is pleased that Spock is interested enough in computers to wish to learn everything about how they work, and he admires the seemingly endless amount of curiosity his son possesses.

He hopes he will be able to help cultivate it as he grows.

Kneeling next to his son, Sarek picks up the central processing unit. “Then I will show you how to repair it.”

Spock smiles before quickly suppressing it. He is still learning emotional suppression, so Sarek does not reprimand him.

Just this once, he believes his son’s enthusiasm is warranted.

Spock, who is seven now, is covered in bruises. Sarek looks down at him from where he is sitting next to him on a bench at his school, distress and anger bubbling up inside of him before they are quickly suppressed.

He had been called by Spock’s teachers and told that his son had started a fight. Sarek had not been able to believe it, as his son has always been non-violent, but the darkening green bruises dotting his skin now seem to be proof.

Sarek can feel Spock’s pain over their familial bond and he observes his son, checking for more injuries. His upper lip is split, and the skin is darkening underneath his left eye. If his son had instigated the fight, he had also certainly received the brunt of the attack.

Sarek lets out a small sigh.

“They called you a traitor,” Spock says quietly, looking up at Sarek and then back down at his knees.

Ah. So his son may have thrown the first punch, but he had certainly not started the fight. However, it could have been avoided entirely if Spock had followed Sarek’s teachings. “Emotions run deep within our race. In many ways, more deeply than in humans. Logic offers a serenity humans seldom experience. The control of feelings, so that they do not control you.”  

Spock looks up at him again.“You suggest that I should be completely Vulcan, and yet, you married a human.”

“As ambassador to Earth, it is my duty to observe and understand human behavior. Marrying your mother was…logical.”

Spock considers this for a moment. While he thinks, Sarek reflects on what he had said. Spock’s classmates believe Sarek is a traitor, no doubt because he married someone they consider to be an outsider. Thus, it is logical to assume that Spock is being bullied because he is half-human, because Sarek had made this choice.

When he and Amanda had decided to have a child, Sarek had suspected that it would not be easy for Spock to be of two worlds. He had thought, however, apparently naively, that Vulcans had learned how to be more accepting of others. He had thought Spock’s struggles would be entirely personal, rather than forced onto him by a xenophobic society.

For a moment, Sarek considers telling Spock to suppress his human side, at least until the bullying stops. Sarek’s own father had been a strict teacher in emotional suppression, and Sarek has often tried to mimic his parenting techniques, just as he followed his career path.

However, he wonders if that is truly what is best for Spock. Spock is not fully Vulcan, and to treat him as one would be to undermine and discourage his uniqueness and the subsequent plethora of paths open for him to take.

“Spock, you are fully capable of deciding your own destiny,” Sarek says eventually. “The question you face is: which path will you choose? This is something only you can decide.”

Spock tilts his head slightly. “Then you do not wish for me to be fully Vulcan?”

“To encourage you to ignore half of yourself would be a disservice to you and to your mother. I believe your human side provides you with a unique set of strengths that will be beneficial to you,” Sarek says. “However, if you wish to act as a full Vulcan would, I will support you. If you decide the opposite, I will support you as well. The choice is yours.”

Spock glances away, and Sarek pretends not to see his bottom lip wobble as his son tucks himself into his side.

Spock is eighteen, and he requests Sarek’s approval to undergo the kolinahr.

To say Sarek is surprised by this is an understatement. Though he respects those who choose to undergo the kolinahr, he has personally always believed it to be an archaic ritual fitting only for a xenophobic species. To assume that all species function primarily on logic is in itself illogical, and thus, to him, a complete erasure of the emotions Vulcans possess is a clear rejection of ever coming to an understanding with another species. Sarek has found his emotions, while not shown to others, to be a helpful tool in his role as Ambassador to the Federation, and he had hoped that Spock would also consider his emotions so, especially because he is half human. There is also perhaps a part of him that has wished for Spock to decide to follow in his footsteps, just as he followed the path of his own father.

But he tries to push all of those preconceptions aside and face his son calmly and with an open mind. “May I ask why you have decided on this path?”

“I have not decided on it yet, though I consider it an appealing possibility.” Sarek waits, and watches with a small twinge of guilt as Spock ultimately cannot meet his eyes.

“I…have struggled to find my path, to understand myself. I do not consider my human side a hindrance, or a weakness, but I do believe that it has made certain aspects of Vulcan life…difficult for me. As I have decided to live primarily as a Vulcan, I thought that perhaps studying the purest form of logic will reveal something that has largely been unclear to me.”

Spock suddenly meets his eyes again. “I have already told Mother that this decision is not a reflection of her, and I do not wish for you to think so either. I know that erasing my emotions will make it more difficult for me to understand other species – but for now, I believe it is more important for me to better understand my own.”

It is clear that Spock has thought this through, and is being rather logical about the whole thing. Sarek has observed that most candidates for the kolinahr choose to undergo it because they have been jaded by their emotions or by the emotions of others. Spock, however, has thought of it as a pursuit of knowledge, of culture.

And how can Sarek deny him that, when it is the very heart of what the kolinahr is supposed to be?

So he dips his head. “Then I will yield to your logic. If you choose this path, inform me and I will send my recommendations to the temple elders.”

Spock’s shoulders loosen, and something inside Sarek does as well. “Most kind of you, Father.”

Several days later, Spock stands before the council of the Vulcan Science Academy.

This is another one of the options he has discussed with Sarek in pursuing the Vulcan way of life. Sarek believes that Spock would be more content working as a scientist rather than studying under elders for the kolinahr, but he has promised himself that he will support him no matter which path he chooses. Spock has worked hard to stand here before the council – Sarek looks down at him from his seat and allows himself a brief second to feel proud for his son before compartmentalizing the emotion and storing it away for later analysis.

“You have surpassed the expectations of your instructors,” the Science Minister says. “Your final record is flawless, with one exception. I see that you have applied to Starfleet as well.”

This is a surprise to Sarek. Spock had never told him that he had applied for Starfleet Academy.

Spock’s eyes slide over to meet his briefly before returning to the Minister. “It was logical to cultivate multiple options.”

The Minister nods. “Logical, but unnecessary. You are hereby accepted to the Vulcan Science Academy. It is truly remarkable, Spock, that you have achieved so much despite your disadvantage.”

Sarek watches his son tense, feels him shut down his side of their familial bond, but the Minister either fails to notice or chooses to ignore it. “All rise!”

Sarek stands with the rest of the council, and from here the sudden stony coldness emanating from his son is even more obvious.

“If you would clarify, Minister,” Spock says slowly, “to what disadvantage are you referring?”

“Your human mother,” the Minister says immediately.

Sarek closes his eyes briefly. Frustration wells in him for one second before he disperses it with well practiced ease. He has spent many years defending Amanda’s intelligence when no such defense should’ve been necessary, and he would have thought that, by now, the Vulcan Science Academy of all places would understand the value of knowledge and cultural exchange between species. Yet here they are, displaying their xenophobic tendencies once again.

Perhaps having Spock among their ranks will help open their closed minds once and for all.

Spock meets Sarek’s eyes again. “Council, Ministers, I must decline.”

Sarek is shocked. He cannot comprehend why Spock has suddenly rejected his Vulcan half, for this is what this decision means to Sarek. A rejection of Vulcan beliefs, of Vulcan science. A rejection of him.

“No Vulcan has ever declined admission to this Academy,” the Minster says harshly.

“Then as I am half-human, your record remains untarnished,” Spock says, and this is almost worse. Does he not even consider himself a Vulcan?

“Spock, you have made a commitment to honor the Vulcan way,” Sarek says, unable to keep quiet any longer. 

Spock glances at him, but doesn’t get a chance to reply before the Minister continues, “Why did you come before this council today? Was it to satisfy your emotional need to rebel?”

Sarek waits for Spock’s answer. Though Spock had been somewhat rebellious as a child, he does not believe that is the reason for his behavior today. Spock had expressed sincerity when he told Sarek of his wish to follow the Vulcan way of life, and Sarek still believes his rebellious nature as a child was merely due to his frustration. Frustration at himself, for struggling to learn suppression techniques that others his age had mastered easily, frustration at society, for always judging him before he had a chance to prove himself, endless frustration.

Spock’s eyes narrow. “The only emotion I wish to convey is gratitude. Thank you, Ministers, for your consideration.”

Sarek blinks at his son. He has never known him to tell a lie, and yet—

“Live long and prosper,” Spock practically snarls, in a tone that makes it quite clear he does not mean it.

Sarek watches his son storm out, anger curling off his shoulders and settling into the back of Sarek’s mind.

He waits to confront him until they are home and Amanda has retired for the evening.

“Spock,” he says, stopping him from going up to his room. Spock stops, but doesn’t turn around. “Explain your reasons for declining admittance to the Vulcan Science Academy.”

Spock takes a long time to respond. “You heard what they said about Mother.”

“I did,” Sarek says. “However, we have heard similar statements many times before without—”  

“How can I work somewhere where they believe I am at a disadvantage simply because of the circumstances of my birth?” Spock interrupts, whirling around to face him. “You and Mother have always taught me that my human side is an advantage. And yet you expect me to work among those who will never see it that way, who will always believe I am somehow less than them?”

“It was your chance to prove them wrong,” Sarek argues. “A chance for them to work alongside a human and better understand the benefits such a relationship can provide.”

For a brief moment, Sarek can read the anger on his son’s face before he neutralizes his expression again. “Then you believe that, despite my decision to live as a Vulcan, I should work at the VSA merely for them to only see me for my human half?”

He is shocked for the second time today. “Spock—”

“That is unacceptable to me, Father.” Spock drops his gaze. “I have accepted the offer from Starfleet Academy. I will be leaving within the month.”

“But what of the kolinahr—”

“It would only be the same there,” Spock practically growls. He is barely holding himself together – Sarek recognizes it from the many hours they had spent together when Spock was struggling to learn his emotional control. “It seems that I will never be seen for who I truly am, for all that I am, unless I leave Vulcan.”

Sarek shakes his head. “That is—”

“Illogical?” Spock’s face has completely shut down again. “I don’t think so, but I suppose I should have expected that you would.”

Sarek watches his son leave, his shoulders so stiff that Sarek can feel the ache in his own back over their familial bond, and realizes that he broke his promise to himself. He had vowed to support his son no matter which path he chose, and yet here he is, failing him when he needed him most.

Sarek doesn’t see Spock again until he and Amanda go to Earth to attend Spock’s graduation from Starfleet Academy.

They have not spoken much over the four years Spock has been here. Sarek believes this is because he had expressed disapproval at Spock’s decision not to join the Vulcan Science Academy, but he is not certain. He does not understand Spock as much as he would like. He tries to treat Spock as Spock has asked to be treated, as a primarily Vulcan individual, and yet Sarek has not figured out which aspects of humanity Spock has accepted in himself. Sometimes, it seems like none: before his acceptance into the Vulcan Science Academy, he had been considering the kolinahr.

But other times, he seems to emote more than Sarek would expect him to. He does not know if it is something Spock wishes him to reprimand him for, and over subspace it has been even harder to tell. Conversations between them have felt strained, tense.

Sarek hopes that seeing each other in person again will assist matters.

He and Amanda sit in a crowded auditorium, watching their son walk across the stage and receive his diploma. He is immediately recognizable by both his ears and his green-tinged complexion, and Sarek can only hope that he has been treated better as an outsider here than he ever was on Vulcan.

After the ceremony, they take Spock to dinner, a quiet, awkward affair, despite Amanda’s many questions about Spock’s plans for post graduation. He tells them that he has already accepted a teaching position at Starfleet Academy, another surprise to Sarek. He would have thought his son would prefer to take a space assignment immediately.

After the dinner, Amanda kisses Spock goodnight and leaves for their temporary quarters, but Sarek lingers, not wanting to leave his son quite yet.

Spock’s gaze is cautious, wary.

“I would suggest,” Sarek says, stiltedly, “that we renew our familial bond.”

If Spock is surprised by this, he has gotten better at not showing it. Sarek waits, hoping Spock will recognize it as the peace offering it is, and allows a small tinge of relief to course through him as Spock nods in acceptance.

He leads Sarek back to his dorm, his roommate already long gone, and gets out his meditation mat. They sit facing each other. Sarek gives his son a moment to relax the tension in his shoulders before reaching out and pressing his fingers to his psi points.

It is easy to access his son’s mind, and Sarek is once again relieved that Spock has not barred him here. He starts by sending him an apology, one he could never hope to convey out loud, and his reasons for acting the way he had.

I should have supported you regardless, he projects.

Spock curls around the words, examining them along with the memories, and accepts them. He opens up his mind to his own view of the VSA council meeting. Sarek sees his son’s pain, his humiliation, his frustration, and understands.

The meld dissolves between them, but Spock doesn’t meet his eyes for a moment.

“Starfleet will benefit from having you as one of their officers,” Sarek says eventually, letting out a small breath when Spock looks up and the corner of his mouth creases into his version of a smile.

It seems that, finally, Sarek has gotten something right.  

4.6 months into his teaching position at Starfleet Academy, Spock calls Sarek. When Sarek answers, he sees his son sitting in near darkness, dressed in his meditation robe, and cannot help but wonder why he has called him at such a late hour.

“Father, I wish to inform you and Mother that T’Pring and I have agreed to sever our bonding,” Spock says.

Sarek is slightly taken aback. Spock has never mentioned having problems with T’Pring before. He had thought they were well suited. “I see. May I inquire as to why?”

“T’Pring has stated quite logically that my posting on Earth and hers on the Argus Array would make it quite impractical should she need to fulfill her duties as my mate.” Spock shifts uncomfortably. “Additionally, we are both…interested in another.”

“…Those are logical reasons to dissolve a bond,” Sarek says eventually. He debates internally if he should ask about this other person Spock is supposedly interested in, but figures that line of questioning would not go over well.

However, an image suddenly appears on his screen. It is of a young human woman with dark skin and intelligent eyes. Her hair is up in a long, neat ponytail, and she wears two earrings in the shape of leaves. She appears to be wearing her Starfleet cadet’s uniform, and Sarek can’t help but raise his eyebrow, wondering if Spock is fraternizing with his students.

No doubt this line of questioning would go as poorly as the other.

“Her name is Nyota,” Spock supplies. “She is a human from the Earth country Kenya.”

It is…intriguing that Spock would choose a human as his partner. While Spock has never rejected his humanity, he has also never fully embraced it, though perhaps in recent years he has changed his mindset somewhat. Regardless, it makes some form of sense – a human would be more likely to accept the Vulcan in him than a Vulcan would be to accept the human.

Besides, Sarek would be a hypocrite for questioning him on this point.

“Nyota,” Sarek repeats. “I would be interested in learning more about her.”

Spock relaxes slightly – Sarek hadn’t noticed he’d been tense. He sends Sarek another photo, this time of Nyota smiling and cupping a tribble in her palms.

Sarek settles back and listens to Spock’s slightly impassioned voice talk about Nyota.

Spock is 28, and he and Sarek have just watched Amanda plummet to her death.

They materialize on the transporter pads of the Enterprise, both staring at the pad where Amanda was supposed to be. Spock has his arm outstretched, still in the act of trying to catch her, but there is no longer anything to catch. Even if Sarek hadn’t been able to see it, he can feel the snapping in his mind of their marriage bond breaking, the sudden pain and emptiness nearly crippling in intensity.

She…she is gone.

Sarek has never handled grief well, or indeed any strong emotion. When his first wife had died, and his first son was eventually exiled from Vulcan, he had taken everything he was supposed to process and understand and shoved it so deep inside himself that it would not bother him again. Since falling in love with Amanda and having Spock, he has tried to practice the proper way of Vulcan understanding and compartmentalizing emotions instead, in order to better serve his human wife and hybrid son.

But this—the pain of this reminds him of exactly why he had never wanted to face the grief before. It is debilitating, emptying. It is all-encompassing, so that there is nothing left of him but the grief. It is painful, so incredibly painful, and it takes every ounce of control he has to keep it from showing on his face.

Spock appears to be attempting the same. His breaths are quick and uneven, but he eventually gets them under control and flattens his expression. He meets Sarek’s gaze, and they both realize instantly that it is too much. The grief flows across their familial bond, and Spock looks away again.

He steps off the transporter pad and is out the door before Sarek can remember how to function.

Once Sarek has recovered himself, he asks the computer to direct him to Sickbay, where the Vulcan survivors are being examined. Sarek works closely with Doctor McCoy in assisting the survivors, throwing himself into the work to keep other monsters at bay. Doctor McCoy insists multiple times that he give him a physical, but each time Sarek refuses.

“I am well,” he tells him, but the way the doctor looks at him makes Sarek feel like the crumbling of his mind is visible to the naked eye.

Eventually, Sarek outstays his welcome and heads for the Bridge. Spock briefly gives him a tour before returning to his duties, neither of them saying a word about Amanda. Sarek passes Spock on the Bridge many times afterwards, but can never bring himself to speak to him. He tells himself it is because Spock is busy as acting captain and he doesn’t want to disturb him, but the truth is that he could not contain his own grief if he so much as spoke a single word to him.

9,876 Vulcans remaining out of the original 6 billion. Among those lost, Sarek’s wife, who no doubt won’t even be included in the count of those who had perished.

For the first time, Sarek believes he fully understands the anger his son had felt at the VSA Minister.

Spock stops next to the communications officer, and Sarek eyes her. It is Nyota, he realizes, recognizing her from the pictures Spock had sent him. He wonders briefly if he should go over and introduce himself—human etiquette is not unknown to him—but he sees the vulnerability in Spock’s eyes and decides it is not the time.

For now, it is enough that she is there to support Spock.

The Enterprise and her crew are surprisingly efficient, despite the mass devastation and the inexperienced crew. They take care of the survivors and follow Starfleet procedures incredibly well, and Spock seems to be comfortable in his role as leader.

It is only when Kirk beams back on board that problems arise.

Sarek watches as his son first argues with Kirk and then starts having an all-out brawl with him. He lets it go on at first, believing that perhaps releasing some of his emotions in a human way will be beneficial to Spock. It’s when Spock punches Kirk and throws him against the helm, however, that it occurs to Sarek that this is not how Spock would like to be seen. He has worked hard to learn Vulcan suppression techniques because he has chosen to live as a Vulcan. Losing his temper, and in fact any of his emotional control, in front of his entire crew is likely the last thing he would ever want.

Sarek steps forward. “Spock!”

Spock is breathing hard, his hands still around Kirk’s throat, strangling the life from him. He comes back to himself slowly, his fingers uncurling from Kirk’s neck as he shakily steps back from him. He turns, and seems to finally realize the display he has just put on in front of his crew. His eyes meet Sarek’s, grief and shame and pain wafting through their bond, and then he turns away.

He steps up to Doctor McCoy, his voice barely audible as he says, “Doctor, I am no longer fit for duty. I hereby relinquish my command, based on the fact that I have been emotionally compromised. Please note the time and date in the ship’s log.”

Doctor McCoy seems stunned as Spock turns away from him, meeting Nyota’s eyes briefly before stepping into the turbolift. Sarek doesn’t hesitate to go after him.  

He finds Spock in the transporter room, standing on the stairs and staring at the pad where Amanda had failed to materialize.

Sarek feels his own throat tighten, but he pushes the feeling away. “Speak your mind, Spock.”

Spock doesn’t turn to look at him, and his voice is very quiet as he says, “That would be unwise.”

“What is necessary is never unwise,” Sarek says.

Spock considers his words for a moment. “I am as conflicted as I once was as a child.”

As you always have been, Sarek adds silently. Out loud, he says, “You will always be a child of two worlds. I am grateful for this, and for you.”

Spock turns to face him, agony in his expression. It is no wonder he had not wished to face Sarek until now. “I feel anger for the one who took Mother’s life. An anger I cannot control.”

Sarek considers this as he walks up to the transporter pads, climbing the stairs so he can stand in front of his son. “I believe she would say, ‘Do not try to’.”

Spock’s head sags. Sarek stares at him, at his tired, tight face, and continues, “You asked me once why I married your mother.”

He can’t continue for a long time, everything in him in as much turmoil as Spock himself. Spock does not press him, as he understands. Perhaps he can even feel it over their familial bond. The reminder of their connection, of their shared pain, allows him to continue. “I married her because I loved her. Just as I love you.”

Spock’s face crumples, and he steps forward to hug Sarek, tucking himself into his side. Sarek wraps his arms around him, and it is like Spock is seven years old again, covered in bruises and injuries and fighting to find his place in the world.

“Someday, you will find your place,” Sarek murmurs into his son’s hair. “You will find those who you are comfortable with, who understand and cherish you. And then, at least partially, the pain will be more bearable. The anger will fade.”

“…And what of you, Father?” Spock asks, pulling back slightly.

Sarek considers for a moment. “Perhaps I will attempt the kolinahr.”

Spock’s mouth turns up, and he actually laughs a little. Sarek has not heard his son laugh in many, many years, and he wonders if perhaps Spock is already well on the way to finding his place, here among this ragtag Enterprise crew.

“You may call me whenever, Father,” Spock says, squeezing Sarek’s arm.

Sarek places his hand on Spock’s cheek. “As may you, my son.”

Later, after what feels like an eternity has passed, Sarek stands in front of the shuttle that is to take him to New Vulcan. He is waiting for his son, as he has expressed a desire to accompany him and assist in building the new colony. Sarek is unsure whether or not to protest this decision. On the one hand, it feels like a necessity that Spock come and help reestablish his people – to choose not to do so would feel like yet another rejection of his Vulcan heritage. However, if Spock had been dissatisfied on Vulcan, he will no doubt be just as dissatisfied on New Vulcan. Additionally, the Enterprise and her crew, especially Nyota, seem to be the beginnings of a second family for Spock, and Sarek is hesitant to let him leave it. But the loss of Amanda is like a gaping wound for both of them, and Sarek wonders if, regardless of right or wrong, they could both use some time together to recuperate.

However, when Spock finally meets him, still in his Starfleet uniform and hands neatly behind his back, Sarek knows what he is going to say.

“Father,” Spock says, “I will not be accompanying you to New Vulcan. I have decided to stay with the Enterprise.”

Sarek nods. “I suspected as much. Your place is there.”

Spock’s eyes soften, and his shoulders relax slightly. “However…I will not be abandoning the colony entirely.”

“Explain.”

“There is an older version of myself from an alternate universe now in this timeline. He will be going to assist the colony in my place.” Spock gives Sarek a moment to process this. Another version of his son. How…unexpected. “He will be on the last shuttle. He insisted that he be the very last passenger, as his needs are of the lowest priority.”

Sarek nods. “Then he certainly sounds like my son.”

They stand there staring at one another. As illogical as it is, goodbyes seem heavier now knowing that they are some of the few remaining Vulcans.

Finally, Spock lifts his hand in a ta’al. “Live long and prosper, Father.”

Sarek nods and returns the gesture. “Live long and prosper, my son.”

Spock stays until Sarek boards the shuttle and then turns to leave, suddenly flanked by Nyota, Doctor McCoy, and Kirk. Sarek watches his son, who grew up with so few friends, walking close enough to these humans that their arms brush against his, and for the first time feels he has nothing to be concerned about.

At least for this son.

Sarek settles in his seat on the shuttle, and wonders about the older, alternate version awaiting him.

 

--

 

The meld ends, and Spock inhales shakily as he feels the residual traces of a familial bond that Sarek has created between them cradled at the back of his skull. He is mortified to realize that there are tears streaming down his cheeks.

“I… Forgive me, I cannot—”

He startles when Sarek’s hand gently rests on his shoulder. He can’t remember the last time his own father touched him. “Do not try to.”

So Spock cries in front of a father who in his timeline would have told him to control himself. When he is done, he feels emptied out, like all of his built up emotions have suddenly swept out of him. He can feel a faint sense of calm wafting over the bond from Sarek, and he centers himself before he can start crying again.

“I thank you,” he says stiltedly, eyes still closed, “for sharing your mind with me. As you saw, my own father and I never chose to meld. As such…I never understood many things about him.”

Sarek hums thoughtfully. “I have always struggled with learning how to be a good father to my son. I suspect my counterpart had similar issues.”

“Did you ever…” Spock says, voice low. He can’t look at him if his life depended on it, “resent his human side?”

“It has made it difficult for me to understand him. However, I have never resented it, nor do I wish he was fully Vulcan.” Spock’s face twists with pain. “I cannot speak to the motivations of your father, but I cannot believe he would wish to erase your human side. I imagine that, by encouraging and strengthening your Vulcan side, he wished to protect you from xenophobic individuals on Vulcan. There was a time, after all, when I considered doing the same. Though why he would not simply say so to you I cannot fathom.”

Spock lets out a small breath. “I do not think there was anything short of his degenerative illness that would make my father speak about his emotions.”

“Then he should have melded with you, as parent and child are meant to do.” Sarek is quiet for a moment. “Though it is illogical, sometimes…my pride impacts my judgment. I suspect that this may have been even more true for your father, and that pride in his clan and tradition often led him to be less than tolerant of your humanity. And perhaps even of his own feelings for you and your mother.”

Spock finally opens his eyes again. Sarek is not quite looking at him, but somewhere just past his shoulder – Spock recognizes it as what he himself does when he is discussing something difficult. “However, as he chose to marry and produce offspring with Amanda, a fiercely human individual, I find his reasoning illogical.”

Spock’s mouth quirks upwards. “I wonder what my father would say, if he heard another version of himself calling him illogical.”

To his surprise, Sarek’s mouth also twitches up. “I imagine he would be displeased.”

They sit there in silence for a moment, Spock at least processing all that he had learned from Sarek’s mind. It will take him many days of meditation to piece together all the memories and understanding that came with them, but it is not a daunting task. In fact, he believes it will be…enjoyable. It will feel like he is connecting, finally, with his father.

Sarek stirs across from him, standing fluidly. Spock doubts he can manage the same fluidity at his age, so he remains sitting. “I will grab us both some tea. Then, I believe you should tell me exactly what Captain Kirk and Doctor McCoy will do to my son.”

Spock lets his mouth quirk up again, taking a moment to slot this strangely playful version of Sarek next to the incomplete picture of his own father. He wonders how this universe’s Spock will turn out, with this man as his father.

Based on what he has seen, he thinks he will turn out alright.