Sickbay on board the Enterprise was unusually ("blessedly" was Doctor McCoy's word) quiet that evening. In fact, it only had three occupants and they could hardly be called rowdy, absorbed as they were by reading. Much to his long-suffering CMO's chagrin, Jim Kirk had, as usual, checked himself out and returned to duty early with protests of "C'mon, Bones I'm absolutely fine!"
"Who's the damn doctor here?"
"Who's the damn captain here?" Jim had retorted "I need to check in with the ambassadors before we reach Babel otherwise we'll have a riot on our hands. These diplomat people are not as civilised as they would have us believe."
Jim's insistence had put McCoy in a particularly stubborn mood so had made him even more determined to make Spock and his father listen to him. With Spock's mother, the Lady Amanda on his side, the two Vulcans didn't really stand a chance and had to acquiesce to spending the remainder of the trip to the Babel Conference convalescing in sickbay in exchange for PADDs on which to complete their respective projects.
Amanda looked up from her book restlessly. Vulcans were very comfortable with silence and she herself liked a moment of quiet now and again but not when she thought there were important things to be said. And there certainly was much for their family to discuss. Since Spock had left home in his late teens to attend Starfleet Academy, against Sarek's wishes, there had been a deep rift between them. If there was one thing her husband was guilty of it was pride and his had been hurt by, as he saw it, Spock's disrespectful defiance. Amanda knew Sarek had seen their son's actions, not as a declaration of identity and independence of thought as they had been, but as a rejection of Vulcan tradition and by extension, Sarek himself. Spock had staunchly refused to offer any olive branch before his father did and had resolved to speak only to his mother until he had done so. That stubbornness was evidently genetic. Spock had graduated with only his mother and cousin present and both father and son had perused their separate careers and lives. For two decades now she had been trying to facilitate reconciliation on both fronts, during which time the estranged pair had only ever engaged in a few clipped sentences at a time whenever they met, Vulcan civility unable to mask the cold tension. It had greatly saddened her that the bond of sympathy they had shared when Spock was a child had come to this in his adulthood and that she was unable to share a room with both her husband and son without it freezing over. In an otherwise loving relationship and happy life together, that was the one thing she disliked in Sarek and had been a great source of frustration. Why could he not just swallow his own sense of injury and admit to being proud of the many achievements their son had worked so hard for? To speak of him as his child again? She wished Spock had also made an effort to make up and had seen the benefit of discussion. If they wouldn't do it for themselves, for the benefit it would bring them, couldn't they at least try for her sake? No matter how many times or ways she bought the subject up with either of them, the state of affairs seemed fixed and she was faced with the prospect of always having to have a separate relationship with the both of them instead of feeling like a family and of the two people she loved most in the world having no affection for each other. If they stayed like this until after she was gone (and the two Vulcans were likely to outlive her considerably), would they even acknowledge each other's existence?
Still, she had looked forward to the Babel conference as she always did on the rare occasions she got to speak to her dear son in person. She was also fascinated to see his workplace and meet his colleagues and friends who he had discussed in his communications home so often. She was proud and glad of how respected and liked he was by the majority of the crew and quickly grew an affection for them herself. Then the crisis had hit, the assassination and Sarek's illness. The events of the last few days had been very trying for all concerned but especially the three now gathered in sickbay. For a while, it had seemed that the rift between father and son would end in tragedy but, with the help of both Jim Kirk and Leonard McCoy (to whom she would be forever grateful), Spock had been convinced to abandon his post to save his father with a vital blood transfusion.
Amanda had finally had enough of the silence "I think we need to talk, don't you?" she said softly, turning between her husband and son.
"What do you wish to discuss, my wife?"
"Sarek, you know perfectly well what I wish to discuss! Have you nothing to say to your son?"
"What is there to say that has not already been said?"
"Thankyou for a start!"
"Mother, I was in the position to provide assistance and I did so" Spock interjected serenely "no thanks are necessary. Nor are they expected." Here the dark eyes flicked to his father, a tiny flash of emotion, an attempt to provoke a response to this veiled barb "such expectation would be-"
"S'chn T'gai Spock if you use the 'i' word now I shall scream!"
"That would be a highly…unreasonable response."
"Are you mocking your mother?" she asked
"I hardly see how stating a fact is to be considered derision, ashyam" Sarek responded. Amanda paused. She recognised the well known subtle twinkle in her husband's eye reserved for when he was affectionately teasing her. Her own mouth twitched in amusement "The two of you!" she shook her head with a small laugh.
The two males exchanged a puzzled look which made her laugh the more "honestly, look at you! So alike and all you can do is fight. Perhaps that's why" her smile faded "it's been nearly twenty years. Can't you please discuss something with each other! Is it logical to be so petty?"
As was so often the case in their family, neither Spock, nor Sarek could come up with a suitable retort to Amanda's words. "I'll leave you two alone, shall I?" and before either of them could respond, she had folded the book the captain had lent her and left for the small waiting room.
The silence that followed was rather different to the ones that normally accompanied the presence of Spock and his father. Rather than icy, it was filled with expectation. Both thinking where to begin rather than waiting for the other to speak.
"It has become clear to me that I may have been…mistaken in my judgement regarding your career choice, Spock."
Spock slowly raised slanted brows "Indeed?" he prompted.
"Yes, you have proven yourself extraordinarily suited to your role on board the Enterprise. Your dedication to your duty and your excellent skill is clear, as is the respect your fellow crewmembers have for your abilities and character."
"You do not still maintain, then , that my choice was wrong? That I should instead have attended the Vulcan Science Academy?" Spock pressed.
"No, I do not. This is neither a platitude nor simply a way to appease your mother's wishes and contentment. I am Vulcan and so such things are not in my nature. You understand this as well as I and, from your behaviour these past days, appear to share in it?"
"Yes…Father. My only question is how long it took you to arrive at this conclusion; that the destiny I chose for myself would be more suitable and fulfilling to me than one decided for me?"
"I do not believe I am certain. Perhaps it is the case that I have known for twenty years. A man such as you, with such a range of influences, duality of blood and wide knowledge, logically would have such a destiny. I also believe that I made an incorrect choice of betrothed for you. Her character is rather incompatible with yours."
T'Pring. Spock had vowed never to dwell on the fact that he may one day have found himself forever tied to such a callous person and agreed with his father's sentiments. "Then you will forgive me when I say that your actions were highly illogical. There is no rational purpose for prolonging our estrangement, nor concealing your changed attitudes in the matter. I was under the impression that deceit was an alien concept to you." Spock and his father faced each other intensely after that charged comment.
"Your mother informed me of the same fact. It appears we find ourselves once again to be conceding to her wisdom. I believe my response was such because of the way in which you took your leave of Vulcan." explained Sarek.
"Rejecting the Science Academy in favour of Starfleet was never a renunciation of Vulcan, Father, nor of you. I merely saw from the attitudes of the council members that I was not truly considered worthy due to my Terran heritage and found that, for perhaps the first time, I had no desire to fulfil their expectations. Your apparent lack of comprehension of this, as well as your continued unwillingness to denounce their xenophobic attitudes towards me and Mother drove my later…impulse."
A shadow of hurt and regret passed across Sarek's face "my…reserve in the face of such attitudes did not reflect my own, Spock. Indeed I always found it difficult to restrain my emotional response to such narrow-minded insults. I always did because I believed that if you and your mother were allowed to let your own actions and words defend you in my place, you would both have a better chance of altering their perception. Whether I acted rightly or wrongly, I did so out of respect and of affection for my wife and son. My only request is that you are able to forgive my errors."
Spock was taken aback. Never did he remember his father speaking this way to him. Such admission was apology enough. His mother was, as usual, correct. Time to let go.
"I am able, and more than willing, Father. I trust that your question implies a reciprocation of sentiments on your part?"
"Indeed it does, my son. I would also thank you for providing me the transfusion that allowed this conversation to take place."
"It is logical, is it not, to strive for the safety of one's kin, Father?"
"Yes, Spock." replied Sarek.
They were interrupted by the entry of Amanda. "I officially cannot stay awake any longer!" she announced "I'm going to bed. Goodnight, you two." She had said it lightly but it struck her how much she had missed referring to them as a cohesive 'two'.
Rom-mu-yor, Amanda" Sarek said, while Spock gave her a nod. They gave her significant looks but even that wasn't needed. She could clearly feel the changed atmosphere and she left feeling a lightness in her heart.
"We had better follow her example, Spock."
"Indeed, Father. It is something of an oddity that Doctor McCoy has not overheard and had an emotional outburst at our continued wakefulness yet."
"I gather that emotional outbursts are a regular occurrence where the Doctor is concerned?"
"They are" Spock replied with a slight upturning of the mouth.
Within moments both father and son had followed their doctor's unspoken advice and the sickbay was silent once more.
A.N. For one of my watchers on Deviantart and based off her prompt to do a one shot depicting Spock's relationship with his parents. I hope you like it! I've been wanting to write this little reconciliation since I wrote my long fanfic Children of Two Worlds to repair the father-son relationship broken by pride.
This takes place after the TOS episode Journey to Babel and is set two days before the ambassadors finally reach the Conference. It also assumes some of the things said in the final scene of that episode and Sarek and Spock's interactions in it never took place.
BTW: ashyam is 'beloved' in Vulcan and Rom-mu-yor means 'goodnight'.