Pat Foley

As captain of a starship, I know a lot about the families of my officers and crew. Though we roam the stars, our own little world is a circumscribed one, metal walls and floors and ceilings enclosing us, fostering an unavoidable intimacy. Mail from home isn't just savored, it's shared. People have to talk to someone, and so they share their families with their friends, fellow crewmembers, even their captain. When loved ones are so absent, we become each other's families. So I know all about Bones' daughter, how proud he is of her, of Scotty's aged mother, living in Edinburgh, a retired engineer who is passionately interested in her son's puir bairns. I've seen pictures of Uhura's family, and Sulu's nephews. But the one person I was most interested in, I never hear about.

And of course I couldn't pry. Though we listen eagerly to volunteered tales of family, people go into Starfleet for all sorts of reasons, and it's an unwritten rule that one doesn't ask.

But if I could have asked about anyone, I would have asked about you. I could have looked in Spock's personnel files for information about you. Some captains routinely review their officers' dossiers, particularly their top command officers'. But I wouldn't do that, certainly not to Spock, who values his privacy so, and who suffers for the lack of it in our crowded little starship world.

You see, even though Spock has never spoken of you, I feel I know you. Much of the time, he's a proper Vulcan. But his mischievous ways, his arch amusement, his teasing had to come from you. Even his sunshine smile, that I've seen rarely but will never forget. And his strength of will. That might be a Vulcan trait, but for him to choose to leave Vulcan, enter a largely human Starfleet, he must have had at least one great human role model to emulate. And who could that be, but you? Many of the traits that as a friend, I've come to value, even cherish, in him, I know that I owe to you. I've long been wanting to meet you. To thank you for your son, who's not just my best officer, but has become my dearest friend. My family now. He's saved my life, my ship, my command a dozen times. He's a gift you've given, unaware. But this recipient is more than grateful and it's past time you heard. It's past time we weren't strangers to each other. Two of the most important humans in your son's life. We're family too, of a sort. Related, not by blood, but by shared affection.

And here you are. And I have told you. But you're such a puzzle to me.

Sarek's behavior is understandable, if inestimable. He's angry at his son, and so he shuns him. That's ordinary enough behavior, for a human, if unexpected for a Vulcan. Though it's more than that, I think. He seems distracted. Ill at ease. I've seen that in Spock, when something is taking up all his concentration, or some personal problem is tearing him up inside. Perhaps, for Sarek, it's the Corridon admission. Though volatile as that issue is, as a Federation ambassador, it would hardly be the first explosive issue Sarek has faced. In fact, this sort of thing should be routine to him. So I don't understand your husband. But I don't know any full Vulcans well, and I don't know what exactly to expect in him.

But it's your behavior I can't understand. You see, from knowing Spock, I know you. I know your arch humor, your teasing, your laughter, your mischievous spirit. Your courage. I've seen it all in him. And your pride. Spock likes and respects humans for what we are, though he puts on a good bluff, and never fails to prate on Vulcan superiority. But he's here, in Starfleet, and very much at home. He couldn't be all those things if he didn't first learn them from you.

But you walk yards behind a husband who didn't even introduce you by name. Just "my wife", as if you were a possession only, not a person. You let Sarek pull you away from Spock, every time you try to speak with him. A son you haven't seen in years. You rationalize Sarek's treatment of a son who ought to make even a Vulcan proud, regardless of his chosen profession. You listen silently while Sarek speaks disparagingly of the limited understanding of "Earthmen", his son's colleagues, close associates, friends. And you not only take orders from your husband, but you accept it as his right.

That's not at all what I expected. In fact, I find it more than a little shocking.

And yet I can see in you all the traits I expected to see, the humor, the spirit, the strength. Not even Sarek can dim that in you. I can see how his reproval hurts Spock. But you shrug off Sarek's behavior like a duck does water. Unmarked. As if it doesn't matter.

Then of course I learn why Sarek has been so distracted. Hiding a serious heart condition must be a chore, even for a Vulcan. Though even now Sarek still seems…tense. He's recovering from major surgery. Perhaps that's all it is.

I'm glad that Spock has reconciled, at least in part, with his father.

And it gave us all a much needed laugh, to hear why Sarek married you, that it was the logical thing to do. Though I suspect that's not the truth. At least not the whole truth.

But the real question in my mind is not why Sarek married you. In fact, that's not at all a question in my mind. Watching your single minded dedication to keeping your husband alive, your family intact, seeing how devoted you are to your Vulcan husband, I'd say he's lucky to have you, and that's reason enough. I used to attribute Spock's dedication to me solely to Vulcan loyalty, but I see his mother rivals even a Vulcan in her own private loyalty. No I don't wonder that there were many good and logical reasons for Sarek to choose you.

The puzzle, the real question in my mind, is why did you marry him? Why do you stay with him, why would you choose to live a life where you aren't given a name in civilized company, where you keep to the rear, bow your head and take petty orders that you can't possibly agree with? Even as little as I know of you, I know that's not the real you. Not at all.

But even with your fingers touching your Vulcan husband's in a Vulcan embrace, you smile that undimmed, human smile, and your blue eyes sparkle in laughter. And you keep that secret to yourself.

And even I, a vaunted Starship Captain, don't dare ask.

All I can feel, I suppose, is grateful that you did.



Pat Foley

Part of the Holography Series (5 something)

At Brookwood

July 2006