In his room, Spock changed into his pajamas, carefully folding his clothes from the day and packing them into his duffle. His visit here was drawing to a close. Tomorrow he and Nyota would be leaving, so it made sense to begin transferring things from the closet to his luggage.
Ready to lie down at last, he pulled back the covers and looked at the empty bed. Though comfortable, it did not invite the comfort and rest he sought after this challenging and eventful day. Meditation did not hold any appeal either. He wanted to be elsewhere. Instead of climbing in, he pulled one of the pillows off the bed and tucked it against his side, turned off the light, and quietly closed his door behind him as he took the three steps to Nyota's door across the hallway. He tapped it quietly.
Four seconds later, the door opened. Nyota saw the pillow under his arm and smiled, glad that he, perhaps, had picked up her thoughts. Maybe he had, or maybe he simply needed what she did—the security of being with the other. The emotional roller coaster of the day had left her spent. Yes, she needed this. She motioned him in, closed the door, took the pillow from him, tossed it onto the bed, and walked into his arms.
Nice as being surrounded by his warmth was, nevertheless, after 30 seconds, she could not resist.
"You didn't have to bring your own pillow," she said, nuzzling against his chest, knowing what he would say about it.
His cheek was against her hair, and he was reluctant to pull away from its softness. "Indeed?" he asked quizzically, pulling back anyway. "My experience indicates that two are not enough to satisfy our requirements."
She shook her head, smirking, leading him to the bed. "Have it your way, Mister. But three pillows take up a lot of space. There may not be enough room left for you."
His eyes narrowed in what she had learned to read as playful indignation. "Then we shall most certainly dispense with them," he stated, throwing back the covers, lifting her, and setting her down on one side of the bed. "However, I do not believe that measure will be necessary," he whispered silkily in deeper, more sultry tones.
She sat up, astonished. He was not finished surprising her, however. With the confidence and decisiveness Nyota has not seen since before the Battle of Vulcan, instead of walking around to the other side, Spock climbed over her, wrapping his arms around her waist in the process, and pulled her down with him as his body settled into the other side of the bed. Somewhere in that motion he had managed to grab his pillow that she had thrown atop the covers and placed it against the headboard. She laughed and wondered, where had this playfulness come from? He pointedly shoved both of her pillows to her side. Then his mood changed as he slowly, carefully brought his hand behind her head, cradling it into his chest, stroking her hair, soothing her as he began to relax.
She relaxed with him. "Hmmm, this feels good," she purred. "OK, you can stay."
"I am gratified to hear that." Vulcan dignity remained intact as he lulled her with his soothing tones.
She melted into him, oddly comforted with the sensation of his rapid heartbeat against the side of his torso and the controlled Vulcan strength of his arms. The restful rhythm of his breathing lifted and lowered her like a cradle's rocking as she lay on his chest, finding pure contentment. "I'm glad Janelle and Nguyen saved us from 'outing' ourselves to the quadrant today. I get to keep you to myself for a while longer."
"Preserving privacy is always desirable," Spock said. "However, the probability is high that inadvertently we will be revealed at some point."
"Maybe people will be so sick of seeing us on the holovids that, when it happens, they won't care," Nyota sighed, then paused. "Ah, who am I kidding?"
After thinking about Nguyen's talk with them, each had reached the inescapable realization that they were—and would remain—subjects of public interest both individually and together. If they were not careful, they could be swept up by a media maelstrom. The prospect remained troublesome.
"When we left this house this morning, if Admiral Barnett himself had told me that, by the end of this day, we'd have to be protected by Starfleet PR, I would have told him he was crazy," she added, trailing over his neck and shoulder with her free hand.
One of Spock's eyebrows lifted minutely. "It was an unexpected development," he agreed.
"If we get into trouble, we have Janelle on our side. No one's going to mess with her."
"That would be unwise."
They lay silently for another minute, each lost in thoughts about this day and the days since their arrival here. Oh how far they had come this week!
"Thank you for asking me to come here with you. Even with all the craziness, this visit has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life."
He hesitated briefly, then pulled her body up so that her head was closer to his and traced the contour of her brow before resting his fingers against her cheek. "My honor is that thou walkest with me, thou keepest me, thou fillest me with thy essence, thy tranquility, thy strength," he whispered, pulling phrases from a poem in Old High Vulcan that was one of her favorites.
A surge of elation filled her inside, and she looked up, reaching for his temple with her first two fingers in the Vulcan equivalent of a kiss. "And I am thine, always, as thou wilt be mine."
He inclined his head toward her. With one final quiet, reverent Terran-style kiss, he gently set her back into her place and pulled the covers over her before reaching over to turn off the old-fashioned lamp next to the bed. It was time to sleep.
She smiled as she began to drowse off in the darkness. "You have a nice family, Ashayam, you really do."
"Yes, k'diwa," he answered, settling back into his pillow, "we do, indeed."
As usual, Spock woke up well before the day's first light. With as little motion as possible, he surveyed the back of his head, looking for his pillow. He carefully arose, trying not to disturb Nyota as he replaced the covers around her. As he suspected, her head rested on two pillows with his now clutched in her arms against her torso. He shook his head and silently slipped through the door and out into the hallway.
He went to his room to gather his clothes for the day, took his shower, got dressed, and packed the rest of his things for departure. Being neat and orderly by nature, it did not take him more than five minutes. When he reemerged from his bedroom, the scent of orange-spice tea wafted through the hallway. Going down the stairs and to the kitchen, he was not surprised to find Margaret already awake.
"I knew you would be up early," she said. "I was hoping that we could get some portrait time in before Allen and Nyota wake up."
Because of the paparazzi yesterday, Margaret was behind in her project. Spock realized that they would not get another opportunity for this. "That is agreeable," he said, lifting a mug and pouring himself some of the tea.
"Good," said Margaret, grabbing a plate of pastries. "Let's get to the studio before they find us."
They walked down the hallway to a door that led to the stairway to the studio over the garage. As soon as they were in the studio, Margaret turned on a few key lights, brought over a couple fill lights, and positioned them in front of a stool. With her arm extended, she invited Spock to sit, then seated herself in front of the covered easel that held her work-in-progress. She already had her paints and brushes out, ready to go.
"I have some detail work to do," she said, squirting a couple dabs of paint onto a palette. "There are those little nuances that you don't see until you get close to the end. Could you tilt your head down a bit? … Ah, yes, there!" She dipped a finer brush into one of the colors, examined the image on the canvas, then reached forward to make her modifications.
Spock sat quietly, patiently watching her work. Margaret thought that the nice thing about Vulcan models was that they did not squirm while they sat. She always suspected that Sarek somehow meditated some of his sitting time away. If that had not been the case, then he was the most patient portrait subject she had ever met. Spock was the same way.
"You know, Spock, after painting portraits of both your parents, and now painting this one of you, I really can see each of them in you…."
He continued to sit silently. If he had inherited elements of his parents' likenesses, it was not unexpected.
"…It's not just physical features," she added, as if she had read his thoughts. "It's in your posture anytime something new comes up, and it's in your eyes, that same drive and enthusiasm for learning that your mother had. I swear, you soak up information quicker than a sponge, just like she did…."
Margaret wiped one brush, then changed to another. Spock remained steadfastly posed, though he followed her movements with his eyes.
"…And you're so patient, too!" she laughed. "She wasn't as good at sitting still as you are, but she was generally patient with most things. When you were working with Allen on that problem he had at work, I hadn't seen patience like that since watching Amanda tutor my friends in high school…. It was a joy to see that again."
Margaret set her brush down. "I will be sorry to see you and Nyota leave today. It may not have been how you wanted to spend your time off, but I thank you for coming anyway. I really needed this."
"You honor us," Spock replied quietly, actively maintaining the non-expression that Margaret saw through anyway. "And we are grateful. I…have learned much."
If his face had not given him away, his words had. Margaret painted a few more strokes, then dipped her brush in another color as she thought about the meaning behind them. He had needed this visit as well, and his subtle admission of that fact touched her deeply. He had reached his limit, however, becoming uncomfortable with the emotional tenor of the conversation. It was time to switch to a safer topic.
"You said that you would try to return for Alaina and Safi's wedding."
"And would you and Nyota be interested in returning here to visit us again?"
"Yes, that is desirable." He paused, then added, "I believe that Nyota will insist on it."
Margaret smiled. "I knew I liked her!" Then her inner imp took over. "But just to make sure, as an incentive to her, I'll make a deal with you: You buy her some more wine, and I'll let her soak in my tub again."
Both eyebrows shot up as Spock considered her teasing. "There is a 67.85 percent probability that she then would refuse to depart the premises."
Margaret howled in laughter at Spock's declaration. "Perhaps I should reconsider. I'm sure that Starfleet would not want to lose one of its best officers to my whirlpool tub."
He nodded. "The illogic of the situation would be most disturbing."
Margaret chuckled to herself some more as each brushstroke added more personality to image she created. He had inherited his mother's dry humor and, well beneath his carefully controlled exterior, her generous heart. She now saw that his initial formality had hidden a vulnerability, a fear that if he let anyone get close to him, he might be hurt.
Somehow, though, through their stories about Amanda and the experiences they shared this week, they all had grown close, and he was slowly opening up. Margaret looked forward to getting to know him even better on future visits. And she was sure that Nyota would always be there with him. From the moment she first met them, it was clear that they were bound to one another—if not telepathically yet, then by something nearly as strong just as Sarek and her sister had been.
She looked up once more before dipping her brush again. The young man before her was the best of both his worlds, every bit the gifted and delightful being who took center stage in Amanda's stories. Anyone who said that Vulcans were cold, unfeeling creatures had never met her nephew—or brother-in-law, for that matter. They had never seen their unwavering devotion to the people and causes in their lives. With so few Vulcans now, Margaret thought it was sad that people might never have the opportunity to witness that.
Perhaps Spock's appearance at the Mayo Children's Hospital and elsewhere would change perceptions and inspire Terrans and others throughout the Federation to provide the assistance the Vulcan colony needed. Perhaps now, after finding a part of his human half here, this child of two worlds would fulfill the destiny of his namesake and become the builder of connections to other worlds, the uniter that his Vulcan brethren needed once again to ensure their survival. Margaret fervently hoped so.
After a big brunch, Spock and Nyota gathered their belongings and returned to the main floor. Regrettably, it was time to say good-bye. The younger pair set their bags near the back door, then turned to their hosts.
"Well, I guess this is it," said Allen. Despite trying to keep it down, a lump formed in his throat anyway. He was really sorry to see them leave.
"Nyota…," Margaret said, reaching out to the young woman for a hug. Nyota opened her own arms and returned the hug, holding on longer than normal.
"I hate to say it," Nyota said, her voice increasing in pitch as her throat constricted, "but words are failing me. Some communications officer I am!"
"I think you're communicating just fine," returned Margaret, feeling Nyota's sincerity as their hug tightened. "You have no idea how much I'm going to miss you."
Margaret and Nyota broke their embrace, and Margaret looked up at Spock. "Come back safely."
"We shall," said Spock, watching Nyota as she now grabbed Allen in a vise-like hug.
"And it won't be another 18 years between visits?" Allen squeaked out as Nyota, in her enthusiasm, nearly constricted the air out of him before releasing him again. Starfleet sure was not lax in its physical conditioning, he thought.
"At this point, 17.756 years, to be exact," Spock replied. "No, it will not."
Allen tried rolling his eyes—the kid was such a smartass! He burst out laughing with Nyota and Margaret instead, already missing the banter. "Whatever, Spock, just come back soon. You always have a home here, anytime you want it."
Allen raised his hand, fingers parted in the Vulcan salute. "Live long and prosper—and I mean it!"
A flicker of surprise crossed Spock's face as he raised his own hand in response. "Peace and long life…Allen, Margaret…"
As tempting as it was to stay, it was time to return to duty and the life that they had built. With one final nod, Spock and Nyota picked up their bags and walked to the center of the back yard where Spock pulled out a communicator and signaled for beam-out.
As their forms coalesced into swirls of light, Margaret and Allen waved sadly to them, but were glad knowing that the newly formed bonds of family would someday bring them back.
Lieutenant Nyota Uhura concentrated, monitoring the flow of data at her communications board, downloading the latest batch of crew mail. One line caught her eye—a message addressed to both Spock and her. She looked at the return path designator. It was from Margaret, and there was a sizable attachment to the communication. It had to be Spock's finished portrait.
Spock, at his own station, looked up at her, picking up on her excitement.
"Message from Margaret!" she mouthed silently at him.
With a slight rise of his eyebrow and a nod, he returned his attention to his own board, knowing exactly what they would be doing at shift end.
An hour and half later, they glanced conspiratorially at each other and walked toward the turbolift, but not before Kirk noticed. The captain leaned back in his chair, knowing that his officers had something planned, and sent his own eyebrows suggestively toward his hairline in question. Nyota stared back at Kirk, then turned on her heel and entered the turbolift as soon as it arrived, but not before rolling her eyes. Spock tilted his head in what Kirk had learned was the Vulcan equivalent of a shrug, and followed her, leaving Kirk laughing quietly to himself.
"Do you have to encourage him?" Nyota asked once the lift doors had shut.
"I do not know what you mean," Spock replied, his eyes open wide in all innocence.
"Hmph," she snorted. "Right. Let's stop and get a sandwich or something. I'm hungry."
"That would be welcome."
They stopped at the mess hall, quickly grabbed a couple sandwiches and drinks, and went to Spock's quarters. Once inside, they set down their meals, then Nyota went to the console and tapped in the message's access code. Spock moved the chair from the other side of his desk and joined her in front of the screen.
Immediately Margaret's face appeared, smiling and radiating the Grayson brand of warmth as always. "Hi, Spock! Hi, Nyota! I hope you're watching this message together. And if you're not, then stop now and don't watch the rest of this without the other. OK, are you both there?"
Spock and Nyota looked at each other. Yes, they were.
"Good," said Margaret's image. "Allen, Norah, Alaina, and Safi all send their love. Just wanted you to know that Alaina and Safi set their wedding date for September 8. I hope that you can come. I've said this a million times, I know, but we would so love to see you there, and so would everyone else. They haven't stopped talking about you since Janelle's party and can't wait to see you again.
"Speaking of Janelle, did you know that she just arranged for Starfleet Personnel Services to start sending her Lifestyles program out on the entertainment feeds? I don't know if that's a good thing or not, but it's another entertainment option for everyone, I guess. Oh, and here's some more news: Janelle has been talking with Sarek. Her company will begin donating basic tools and crafting supplies to New Vulcan, things that they need and can use. She is launching a fund-raising campaign to ship it there. Amy's been busy setting up the foundation behind it. She is also starting work on an advanced degree in administration, so she's been busy.
"I am sure that you'd be interested to know that your visit to the hospital had quite the effect. The Board of Directors was so impressed and moved by your visit that the Mayo Foundation will begin sending supplies to New Vulcan in honor of your mother and grandfather. They are also working with Sarek on a 'loaned physician' program to send personnel there to help set up the hospital and clinics the colony needs."
Spock took in this information with interest. Yes, these things would help. Nyota touched his forearm and patted it happily a couple times. This was good news.
"All right, enough of my yacking," Margaret continued. "Now to the reason for this communiqué. I did finish your portrait, Spock, and I think it turned out beautifully. But after you left, I painted another one." She shook her head slightly, and her eyes looked upward and away. "I swear that I painted for 20 hours straight. I just couldn't stop. It was like it painted itself." Margaret's voice cracked slightly. "I've never had this happen before. I don't know how…."
Catching herself, Margaret forced herself to sit up straight, looked forward, and forced her voice to brighten, though she spoke more slowly. "Anyway, I hope it's not too forward, and I hope that it's OK. But, like I said, something in me had to paint it. I hope you like it.
"Now, stay safe…you'll be in our hearts and our minds until we see you again."
With one last smile to them, Margaret's image faded to black, leaving in her place two icons.
"I guess this is it," said Nyota. "The big reveal. Should I open the first one?"
Spock nodded. "Please proceed."
The first portrait showed Spock in a dignified pose, dressed in a formal Starfleet uniform. His expression, however, was not severe, as one might have expected. There was a hint of the Grayson warmth centered especially around his eyes, yet his expression was typical of the centered calm that most Vulcans carried. His posture, though not ramrod-straight, was upright indicating a poised, stalwart, and powerful individual with a strong presence. The slight tilt to his head, however, hinted at a deeper personality, and the image invited a closer look to get to know the exotic, mysterious person in the picture. One eyebrow was just the smallest fraction higher than its counterpart, adding to the subject's mystery.
Nyota gasped. "Oh, it's beautiful…"
Spock analyzed the image. Yes, it was his likeness. Margaret had done exemplary work in capturing him. He was trying to reconcile some of the cues that she included, however. Is this how and others saw him? He would have to meditate on the many nuances Margaret had included.
"…and so sexy!" Nyota finished.
The young woman laughed at her scandalized boyfriend. "Margaret did a wonderful job. I can't help it if I find the subject matter especially attractive!"
"Perhaps we should view the second selection," he suggested, obviously trying to change the subject.
Nyota smirked as she opened the second file. As the new image appeared, her smile immediately transformed into open-mouthed shock. "Omigod…," she barely breathed. "Oh, Ashayam…"
The painting drew his breath as well.
In the center of the canvas he sat, this time attired in formal Vulcan robes. To his left sat Nyota, dressed similarly. Surrounding them were their own colors of warmth, companionship, and bonding. But light from a third figure, this one to his right, also illuminated the couple as she smiled upon them, a loving expression radiating from her features, especially the eyes that she shared with her son.
Nyota's hand reached for his. "Margaret felt this…? Is it a message?"
"Perhaps," Spock said softly, his Vulcan side analyzing the possibilities while his human side accepted the newly familiar warmth that grew inside him. Though his face remained as composed as any Vulcan's, he drew Nyota against his side. Margaret's paintings were more than portraits, they were, in many ways, insights into himself and the heritage that was Amanda's gift to him.
For the first time, Spock's many facets now blended into what had never been there before—harmony.
Author's Notes July3-2010 (rev. Oct8-2010): Whew! It's is just two days shy of a year since I posted Insights Chapter One. What a year it has been! My goal with this story was to show Spock finding peace by reconnecting to his human family and heritage, and I believe that I fulfilled it. My goal with myself was to get used to putting words down on paper, learn to craft a story, and refine my fiction-writing skills. I don't know if I've met those goals, nor am I sure that I ever will meet them entirely, but I believe that the practice has done me good. Part of learning involves making mistakes, and I've certainly made my share. However, I have also discovered that I do many things very well. Overall, I am happy with my experience at writing my first-ever novel-length work of fiction. I look forward to future works and improving my skills.
This experience would not have been nearly as rewarding or valuable without you, my readers and reviewers. You have taught me a great deal through your feedback. You are a very observant group, and you were great about gently pointing out your concerns with my direction or expressing your delight. One of the great things about fan fiction is the interactivity between authors and readers. I thank you most sincerely for yours!
Many of you have asked for Sarek/Amanda stories, and I have interesting requests for Kirk- and McCoy-centered stories as well. I am always open to ideas, whether I am actively posting stories or not. Feel free to leave your suggestions or a review here (now that it's complete, tell me what you think of this story overall), or contact me through my profile page anytime.
You know, Insights was only going to be a 10-chapter-long story when I started. Well, 31 chapters later, I guess that Spock, Nyota, Margaret, Allen, David Swenson, and Amanda had much more to say than I anticipated. Maybe I'll hear from them again. If I do, I'll let you know…
Blessings to you all and, again, thank you!
Author's Note, January 22, 2013: Although I finished this story more than two years ago, I'm so happy to see that readers continue to discover or revisit it. If you are one of those readers who have enjoyed this fic, I'd be thrilled and thankful if you left a review or recommended it on a blog, forum, or Web site to help others find it.
To my repeat readers, I'd also be interested to know whether it stands up to a second reading. I reread this occasionally myself, cringing at some parts, smiling at others...I'm amazed at how each chapter brings me back to the mindset I had when I wrote it. It's an interesting way to measure my growth as a writer and a person in general.
Thank you for your indulgence in reading yet another author's note. I appreciate your consideration. Blessings...!
NOTES & ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
As I went through this story to clean up the copy, I realized that I might be erasing all my author's notes, some of which I wanted to keep. Here they are as a reference to my mindset and the challenges that came with writing this tale. I also wanted to retain a record of my gratitude to several Insights readers whose feedback was essential to improving this story.
Chapter 5: Author's Note Jul26: Thank you for the reviews, story alerts, and favoriting. I appreciate all the feedback. With this story, I am learning a great deal about writing. I appreciate that you all are willing to take the time and read through these first few efforts. I hope to improve.
Chapter 7: Author's Note Aug1: First of all, I would like to extend a special thanks to Adarah and LettieM for PM-ing me through a crisis of confidence I had with this story. Writing this story is like the proverbial learning to ride a bike, and I'm still using the training wheels. Learning new skills can be simultaneously exhilarating and nerve-wracking, so I especially appreciate their words of support.
And, for the rest of the Insights Reader Family, please know that I also appreciate your kind words, story-alerting, favoriting, etc. This is a non-standard story, and I am happy that so many of you are sticking with it. I love character back stories, and I'm glad that you do, too. THANK YOU, ALL! - "Aashlee"
Chapter 8: Author's Note Aug6: As a read through this again, I realized that, for our international readers, I needed to explain why Margaret would ask Amanda "...will Dad need to bring a shotgun?" It comes from the term "shotgun wedding." A shotgun wedding happens when there is an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, and the girl's parents want the child to be legitimate. So, to ensure that the boy marries the girl, the father will bring his gun to "persuade" the boy to take his wedding vows. Thought you'd want to know ...
Chapter 9: Author's Note Aug10: This was a difficult chapter to write. I'm amazed at how easily some chapters magically appear on the paper, and then there are problem chapters like this one (LOL)!
Ashayam = Vulcan for "Beloved"
Chapter 10: Author's Note Aug16: Sorry this took so long. It was hard to follow up the angst-fest of Chapter 9. But I think this works.
I truly appreciate your continued readership. Honest. You help inspire me to keep working at this story.
Chapter 11: Author's Note Aug23: Hi, sorry this took so long. This was another difficult chapter to write as it focuses on character growth and the developing relationship between the four major characters. (Having to spend an afternoon down in the basement because of tornado warnings did not help my progress, either!) I promise that this story will lighten up with more fun tales, especially a few chapters down the line when Spock's cousins come over for dinner. As always, thanks for reading!
Chapter 14: Author's Note Sept11: Thank you for continuing to stick with this story. I appreciate it! We're in a transitional phase, and this chapter is kind of fluffy - about as fluffy as I get - but I hope you enjoy it anyway. We're coming up on the Halloween party!
Chapter 15: Author's Note: Here's a "Janelle Devereaux-style" value-added bonus…the recipe for the pumpkin-tomato soup that our main characters enjoyed for dinner.
And, again, thank you for your readership and reviews! I will never stop expressing my appreciation for them.
AASHLEE'S PUMPKIN-TOMATO SOUP
Pumpkin and tomatoes—in a soup? I know this sounds strange, but it's very, very good. I had a pumpkin-tomato soup at a party once, loved it, so I figured out how to make it. This is a perfect autumn soup.
1 large onion, cut in 1-inch chunks
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. ground black pepper
2 15-ounce cans chicken or vegetable broth
1 15-ounce can pumpkin (must be plain pumpkin, not the pie filling seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.) OR 2 cups cooked pumpkin
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
salt to taste
cream (optional) served on the side
In a large kettle, heat oil and cook onion until translucent and slightly carmelized. Add pepper and broth, bring to a boil, cover, then let simmer about 15-20 minutes. Then take out onions, put them in a blender along with about a cup of the broth, then whirl until liquified. Add this back into the kettle of broth. Add pumpkin and diced tomatoes (juice and all). Bring to a boil, then let simmer another 15 minutes. Add salt to taste.
This soup is good as it is, or you can add a tablespoon of cream to individual bowls of soup for a different taste experience. It is great either way.
If you like a little more spice, you can add dashes of pepper, pepper sauce, or curry when you add the broth. This recipe is a nice base for customization. Bon appétit!
Chapter 16: Author's Note Sept24: This is another transitional chapter with a few light moments. The next one will have more depth. Right now my subconscious is still figuring out how to write it.
Chapter 17: Author's Note Oct7: I have said that, by writing this story, I am learning a great deal about writing fiction in general. This chapter was especially instructive in working with multiple characters all in the same chapter. There were so many of them, and there was so much going on that it was difficult to control everyone and everything. I have learned the value of focus, believe me. Also, there were several times when I was worried about becoming too heavy-handed. I'm not sure I avoided that entirely, though. (I'm tempted to rewrite this chapter at some point.) You'll have to let me know. Anyway, I thank you for your patience and loyalty to this story as I sort it all out. You folks are great!
Chapter 19: Author's Note Nov5-2009: It's baaa-aack...My October was crazier than I thought it would be, so sorry for the delay. Thank you all again for your valuable encouragement and "insights." This chapter was probably not the most entertaining, but Spock, being Spock, had to torture himself and question his contentment from the night before. Now armed with Nyota's reassurances, I think he can accept his role as part of the Grayson family. Next chapter: Lasagna with Norah and Alaina!
Chapter 20: Author's Note Nov15-2009: Hi, everyone...Not my favorite chapter, nothing really deep, but there's some light family bonding here. Had to rewrite a couple times because the table banter was getting too silly, even for the lively, fun-loving Graysons. I had to calm them down! Hope to reestablish the bond more between the three younger cousins in the next chapter. Safi also needs to get into the mix...
Thanks for your ongoing support with your reviews, PMs, favoriting, alerts, and general readership. I appreciate them all! :)
Chapter 21: Author's Note Nov28-09: Hello again! Sorry it took so long, but I had the worst writer's block. If you have suggestions for combating that, please PM me with your suggestions!
Again, this wasn't a deep chapter, but Spock is learning more about handling family dynamics, practicing his social interaction skills, and coming to realize more things about his upbringing (sadly, not all good).
Thank you for reading and sticking with this story! I couldn't ask for nicer readers!
Chapter 22: Author's Note Dec9-09: Thank you all for your patience. The horrible bout of writer's block, I hope, has abated!
I also wish to thank the folks at the Live Journal Spock/Uhura community. Someone there nominated "Insights" as best fanfic posted outside the community. What can I say? I am extremely honored that you not only read this, but that someone nominated this for recognition. THANK YOU! Do you have any idea how motivating this is? Omigosh!
I also thank MuseDePandora for telling me that the S/U community members were talking about "Insights" in the first place. This news came at a time when I needed something to lift my spirits.
Speaking of which, many of you have lifted my spirits with your kind comments, critique, and suggestions as I worked through my writer's block. Your encouragement has meant the universe to me. Bless you!
Chapter 23: Author's Note Jan8-2010: Hi, I'm back from my hiatus that included the holiday hubbub, a cross-country drive to visit with family (2,500 miles on the road), and writing the short story "Silent Night." Thank you for waiting.
Sorry for the short transitional chapter; I wanted to get something up, as it's been a month since my last update. But it leaves a good question: Nyota and Spock may be outed - how will they handle it? Don't worry; I won't make you wait a month to find out! ;-)
Chapter 24: Author's Note Jan30-2010: Tried to be faster about posting this chapter, but two things happened. First, Haiti had an earthquake, so I spent some time packing food for relief efforts. The volunteerism that the Graysons embrace in "Insights" comes from experience shared with my Star Trek club friends and inspiration from my husband's own dedication to serving others. For the past 25 years, we have worked on projects including (but not limited to) telethons for children's hospitals, science fairs, fund-raisers for myriad charities, staffing fund-raising events, blood drives, and, of course, packing food for the hungry in Haiti and elsewhere. We're all on this planet together—let's help each other out.
Second, after a depressingly long stretch of unemployment, my husband landed an excellent position, better than we had dared to hope. So, unsurprisingly, "Insights" (and responding to reviews—sorry) took a back seat as we spent his last days off celebrating our good fortune.
Whatever the causes of my delay, I thank "Insights" readers for their continued patience and feedback. At least you didn't have to wait a whole month this time!
Chapter 25: Author's Note Feb19-2010: Yes, another one of those pesky transitional chapters. The next chapter should be more fun when Spock & Nyota make their hospital rounds.
I'm hoping that I'm more productive on the next chapter. I have an outline written already, but it's also one of my busy volunteer times. I'm packing more food for Haiti (Haiti is going to need ongoing help for a long time, unfortunately), hosting a blanket-making session at my home for a local crisis nursery, and working at a blood drive within the next month. Every little bit helps!
I'll try to get going on Chapter 26 as best I can. As always, thank you for reading! Blessings!
P.S. Don't let my slow posting rate scare you. I will not abandon this story. I will finish it. This is the first time I've written anything novel-length, and I'm learning too much about my strengths and weaknesses to quit. As a result, I've purchased books that address my problem areas so that my next effort-whatever it is-progresses much more smoothly than this one has.
Chapter 26: Author's Note Apr11-2010: A short chapter, just to prove that this story and this author still live. Really, it was not my intention to abuse "Insights" readers with a late, late update. Real Life, complete with a couple prolonged illnesses (nothing serious, but creatively stifling nonetheless), reared its ugly head. But I'm back. You'll be happy to know that most of the next chapter is already written. I would have posted it as part of this one, but I didn't think it had achieved the "Insights feel," so I have to work on it some more. My subconscious says that there is something more that I must include; I have to figure out what that is.
Special recognition go to MaddieStJ and T'Soy for their off-line comments and conversation, which have influenced this story arc tremendously. Truly, "Insights" will be a better story because of you. Thank you!
Chapter 27: Author's Note Apr21-2010: I wrote, rewrote, and re-rewrote this about a dozen times. Had doubts, anguished over it a bit, but took the leap and put it out here anyway. Spock took yet another leap of faith, too. Now he knows that he has a net to catch him!
Chapter 29: Author's Note May24-2010: Vonda N. McIntyre, in her 1986 novel, Enterprise: The First Adventure, suggested that juggling was a common activity among Vulcan children to promote hand-eye coordination. Made sense to me, so I gave nuSpock that skill as well.
"Insights" recently passed the "150" mark for favorited stories. It means so much that so many of you find this story worthy of that honor, and I thank you!
Chapter 30: Author's Note June15-2010: As you may have guessed, this story is winding down. (Maybe one or two chapters left.) Before I decide on my next project(s), I'd like to hear from all of you, so I am enabling the anonymous review and messaging options for now and opening this to all commentators, registered FanFiction folks and lurkers alike. Please tell me: What have you liked (characters, plot, style)? What haven't you liked? What could I do better? What would you like to read from me next?
By the way, I notice that Chapter 14: "Guidelines" gets a lot of re-reads, more than any other chapter—no mystery about why people like that one, ha-ha!