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whose love, support, and life lessons
continue to guide her son
in her absence.
Nyota Uhura finished throwing the rest of her clothing into the drawers as she unpacked in her temporary quarters at a Starfleet facility in San Francisco. Her ship, the Enterprise, was docked in orbit at the space station, undergoing refit and repairs after an unfortunate encounter with a gravity well near an asteroid belt. For the next month, all personnel would be spending time at various planet-side Starfleet facilities for debriefings, additional training, and a week or two of shoreleave.
Nyota hummed to herself, but a thought interrupted her song, and she turned to her significant other, who had helped bring her belongings down from the ship. "Spock, we have some shoreleave time off coming up. Have you thought about what you'd like to do?"
His focus shifted to somewhere outside the window. "I have a personal matter to which I must attend."
The last seven months had been full of personal matters for him since the destruction of his home world, the loss of his mother, and the resettlement of his father and Vulcan's remaining citizens. Piled on top of the stresses of his demanding schedule and duties, Nyota wondered how he managed to keep himself from succumbing to the pressure. He had been quieter than usual the last couple days in one of his more contemplative phases. During such times Nyota usually let him process his thoughts for as long as he needed until she sensed that he was ready to open up.
Her pleasant mood changed to one of concern. "What is it?"
"I need to fulfill…a request." He moved toward her until he stood in front of her. "You met my aunt at Mother's memorial service."
"Yes, Margaret, right?"
He nodded. "My mother often expressed a desire for Margaret and me to acquaint ourselves to a greater degree. Margaret reminded me of those wishes at the service and repeatedly has done so since. I wish to fulfill this obligation at the earliest opportunity, and we have available leave in—"
"—in a couple weeks," Nyota finished.
Before the memorial service in San Francisco, Spock had last seen Margaret Grayson was when he was 8 years old. During his and his mother's visit to Earth, they had stayed with Margaret and her family. Overall it had been a pleasant stay, though many aspects of his mother's family and Earth culture perplexed him then. Only now, after some reflection and years spent observing Earth's citizens, did he understand many of the behaviors and interactions he saw then.
In his observations, he noted many similarities between Margaret and his mother, both as younger women and as they matured. They were similar in appearance, although Margaret was 5 centimeters taller. Their easy, engaging manner often created an immediate rapport with friends, family, and strangers alike. Most who met Margaret and Amanda liked them instantly.
But it was their nearly identical vocal qualities and cadences that Spock found disturbing as he grieved Amanda's loss. When Margaret spoke at the memorial service, Spock heard his mother's voice. His considerable linguistics experience sensitized him to the familiar inflections and tones as Margaret recalled to all those gathered his mother's warmth, talents, contributions, and the enormous love she had for her friends and family. Although Margaret had undoubtedly brought comfort to many of the mourners, she unintentionally had made the day more difficult for him.
Twice during Margaret's eulogy, Spock wavered on the edge of an emotional display, fighting to suppress those feelings—hard—before they emerged. Only Nyota, who had refused to leave his side that day, truly sensed the threat that his tumultuous, angry human side posed to his control. To all others, he appeared inscrutably Vulcan.
Vulcan inscrutability was one of the reasons Margaret and Amanda had remained so close despite the distance between their worlds. Vulcans made poor confidantes when it came to emotional personal matters. Other than Sarek (or Spock, as he got older), the only person in whom Amanda could confide her greatest concerns, frustrations, or even joys was Margaret. Too, because it was not prudent to share many personal details of her prominent husband or household with the few human friends she had made with Terran embassy personnel, Margaret became Amanda's sounding board.
Despite the closeness Margaret shared with his mother, Spock never developed anything other than a cursory relationship with his aunt and her family. There were the physical distances and cultural differences that made interaction difficult. For his mother and his aunt, busy diplomatic schedules, careers, the expense, and the demands of raising children on two different worlds made arranging frequent visits between their families impossible. Although Sarek and Amanda visited occasionally when Sarek's duties brought him to Earth, Spock was left behind on Vulcan in the care of relatives or household staff to continue his studies uninterrupted.
To Spock, his family on Earth remained more of an abstraction. Nor did he have close relationships with his extended family on Vulcan, so the idea of familial closeness outside his own household, other than formal alliances between members of a House, was foreign to him.
Amanda had on occasion expressed regret for this situation. Clearly she expressed this regret to her sister more often and in greater detail because, with Amanda's passing, Margaret took up her sister's cause with renewed vigor, but with the same persistent gentleness that Spock knew in his mother. Every month since the memorial service, she had reissued her invitation to visit her as well as their extended family.
"Spock," Margaret said in her latest of six recorded messages to him, "we cannot predict what life will bring. Procrastination is a risk. We both know that now more than ever. Amanda wanted this."
Repeatedly he had resisted accepting. But he could not dispute her logic, nor could he determine a diplomatic way to continue to refuse. Despite the awkward prospect of visiting a woman he hardly knew, he informed Margaret of his upcoming shoreleave. Privately in his thoughts, borrowing a phrase from Nyota, he simply wanted to "get this over with."
Once he formally accepted Margaret's invitation to visit her during this upcoming shoreleave, Margaret acknowledged his acceptance warmly, then expanded her invitation to include Nyota. Spock was not sure if he should ask her to come along and was weighing the advantages and disadvantages when Nyota's voice snapped his mind from his thoughts.
"Spock, what do you mean by 'I wish to fulfill this obligation'?" She said it directly, but tenderly, taking one of his hands in hers. "You are uncomfortable with this."
The way she could read the subtle moods and meanings behind his word choices never ceased to surprise or, on occasion, annoy him.
He said nothing. He was uncomfortable with the inevitable reminiscences that would make up much of the conversation. He did not want to answer personal questions about himself, his mother, or the destruction of his planet. He did not want pity or sympathy. He just wanted the peace that his human side refused to grant him.
Nyota knew better than to try and offer comforting phrases as she would have to a human, and she did not have to ask him why this visit could be difficult as he tried to maintain emotional equilibrium. Since the memorial service he remained unsettled, and she doubted that he was finding release in meditation. This visit might force him to find the release he needed in another, more human fashion, and, if so, she suspected that he might not be prepared for that.
"But you're still going … ?"
Nyota liked Margaret. She had been warm, consoling, and kind at the service. Even Sarek had sought her for conversation afterward, and the two had had a pleasant exchange. From a personality standpoint, there was no reason for Spock to avoid her.
But, as Nyota had learned in communications psychology classes, humans under extreme stress often behave opposite of their normal personalities, and Spock was at his most human when it came to this loss. Although outwardly he protested going, Nyota wondered if his human side was driving him to look for the answers he needed to return to his Vulcan center.
She brushed his forearm gently. "How can I help?"
Spock considered her question. Since becoming his teaching assistant at the Academy and throughout the course of their relationship, Nyota was often Spock's window into human practices and interactions. During his childhood visit with Margaret and her family, Amanda had taken on that role. Now grown and an Earth resident for several years, Spock could handle himself in Earth society in general, even if his nature preferred the predictability of Starfleet's environment of regulations and protocols that governed events and general interactions.
However, many customs and personal interactions still perplexed him. Grief had a way of making many interactions unpredictable, and these days Spock was unsure of his own logic where his mother was concerned.
He did not fight the fact that he also found Nyota's constant presence comforting, calming, and soothing.
"Accompany me, please," he said finally.
Nyota was relieved at and touched by his request. "Your aunt won't mind? I won't be intruding?" She did not want to cross boundaries, but she did not want to let Spock go alone.
"She amended her invitation to include you," he admitted, "after I accepted for myself."
Margaret Grayson must be a very perceptive woman, Nyota thought.
Margaret Grayson knocked on the door to the study and entered. "Allen, he accepted," she told her husband.
Allen Markham looked up from his monitor. "Who accepted what?"
Margaret sighed in frustration. "You cannot tell me that you don't know! What have I been trying to do for the last six months?"
"Spock finally accepted your invitation?"
"Yes, he did. And I told him to bring Nyota Uhura if he wished."
Allen's eyebrows rose high on his forehead, nearly touching his short, brown, graying hair. "Well, well, and Hell has frozen over. What on Earth could have changed his mind?"
Margaret lips turned upward into a satisfied smile. "I did, of course. Amanda always said that you had to be persistent. Like father, like son. Both stubborn."
Allen was amazed that his wife's tenacity had yielded results, especially with a Vulcan who seemed determined to keep to himself, even though he was family.
It was hard to think of Spock as his nephew. Upon meeting Spock at Amanda's memorial service, he thought that the warmth that was a trait in the Grayson family had been obliterated by Vulcan genes. Unlike the almost-shy 8-year-old boy he had met years ago, Spock The Man was distant, intimidating, cold. He was the consummate Starfleet officer, a reluctant hero, a stoic scientist, and more alien than Allen remembered. Yet, at his side the whole time was the lovely communications officer who quietly identified herself as his girlfriend. He could not fathom how the two of them made a relationship work.
A biomedical engineer, Allen called on his professional skills to help him analyze what he saw and decided that Spock was more complex than Sarek ever had been. But the circumstances of that day had been unusual, and it was difficult to read exactly who Spock was from their limited interactions.
"When does he arrive?" Allen asked.
"Wednesday, two and half weeks from now."
"I'll be sure to clear my social calendar," he said, just a little sarcastically. He was not sure what Margaret expected from his visit, and that frustrated him. She never gave him a straight answer.
Margaret frowned. "Allen!"
"Well, here's the million-credit question: Once he gets here, Margaret, what's going to happen? He doesn't seem like the talkative type. How many times did your sister cry and tell you how hard it was to get Spock or Sarek to talk when they decided to clam up? Are we all going to sit around and stare at one another for the week?"
Shocked into anger, Margaret's eyes flashed. "He's Amanda's son," she stated, a catch in her voice. "And we're going to do our best to get to know him. We are going to respect him. We are going to do what … what Amanda wanted!" Tears welled in Margaret's eyes. "I have no idea how we are going to do it, but I expect your support!"
Allen realized that he crossed the line, and he realized he made his remarks to cover his own apprehension about seeing Spock again. He really did not know how he was going to relate to him.
More important now, though, was Margaret. Amanda and Margaret had been very close, and Amanda's death had torn Margaret apart, leaving her feeling lost.
"I'm sorry," he said, rising from his chair. He walked to Margaret and embraced her in a comforting hug. "I know how much this meant to your sister. I know you miss her very, very much. I do, too."
Margaret sniffled into his chest, shaking as a sob overtook her.
Allen continued. "But is this more about Amanda, or more about you? Are you looking for a part of Amanda in him?" He worried that she was getting her hopes up, looking for something in Spock that he might not be able or willing to give her.
"I don't know!"
Allen stroked his wife's back, soothing her while wondering what she would find. Whatever it was, if there were something to find, he was confident she would find it. A portrait artist, Margaret's remarkable skills with her brush and ability to see the personalities in her subjects brought them to life, despite their two-dimensional renderings. Her talent made her much in demand, and her client list included many high-ranking Federation officials.
On the wall in their study was a small portrait that Margaret had painted during Amanda and Spock's visit those many years ago. As he held Margaret, Allen looked over her head and shoulder and studied it now. The mother and son clearly had a bond, each leaning toward the other, not quite touching, but inextricably part of one another. Pride emanated from the mother's warm eyes and subtle smile. The son's eyes were much like his mother's, despite being framed by upswept eyebrows, but in place of warmth there was intensity, yet a touch of shyness.
Allen noticed the portrait every time he sat in the study, but he had not really looked at it closely for many years, not until this moment. How long ago had that visit been? About 20 years ago, he thought. He remembered that it was a difficult time in Amanda's life, but he never knew what the issue was, as Margaret had refused to discuss it. The young Spock was quiet, never saying too much although he spoke Standard perfectly. Allen and Margaret's daughters, Alaina and Norah, then 10 and 12, did not know what to make of their cousin most of the time, but they did their best to include him in their activities, and the children seemed to get along.
Allen guided Margaret to the portrait. "I think you should look at this again. There is something there between the two of them, isn't there? I hadn't really noticed it before."
Margaret remembered painting her sister and nephew's images onto the canvas. Amanda had been sad for most of her visit except when her son was with her, and Margaret had chosen warm colors to represent Amanda's happiness and pride throughout the painting. Spock had remained expressionless most of the time, but he had been undeniably attached to his mother. Margaret positioned each subject with a slight lean toward the other, Spock's shoulders angled toward Amanda.
They wore Vulcan-style clothing, although Margaret omitted the head covering that Amanda often wore and, instead, let Amanda's long, dark tresses contrast with the bright blue of her robe. Spock wore a rust-colored, high-collared tunic with simple embroidered geometric shapes in gold and the same blue as his mother's garment.
Margaret had been most fascinated with Spock's eyes, and she spent a long time in choosing just the right shade of brown. The child also had long, dark eyelashes, which framed his eyes and made them simultaneously intense and innocent.
They were a beautiful pair, and Margaret felt a connection to them.
Margaret looked up to Allen, newly inspired. "I think I know what we're going to do."