Written for LJ's Spock Uhura Mega Prompt Post to the request of Spock+Uhura+bbs/u go to nu!Vulcan and Sarek babysits.
The Amazing Adventures of Sarek and Mandy
"With the addition of multiple family units on board the Enterprise, Starfleet has begun enforcing familial benefit plans. The addition of such regulations has culminated in a large portion of time set aside in which Nyota and I may not serve as to take extended shore leave with Amanda." Sarek blinked at the communication video that continued to play out before him.
After Spock's revelation of his plans to return to Starfleet after the destruction of his people's home, Sarek had had much difficulty in returning to his previously cool relationship with his son. Hence the start of their mutual correspondence, updating each other as to what they were doing, formally at first but breaking into more personal territory once it was clear that his son was seriously involved with the Human, Nyota Uhura.
Their bonding came of no surprise nor did it bring shame to Sarek, Spock had always been somewhat uncontrollable, determined, once he set his logical mind to something there was no stopping his actions. Also, Sarek mused, if he'd disapproved he'd have been a rather large illogical hypocrite. So no, their marriage came of no surprise, but that it produced offspring? Now that was surprising, but again by no means unwelcome.
He had never had the pleasure of meeting young Amanda, merely watching the top of her head bob along the bottom of the screen occasionally during Spock's recordings, until he picked her up and placed her in his lap explaining what he was doing after her incessant questioning. She had blinked up at him, then faced the screen and broke into a large partially toothless smile and had greeted him in Terran Standard. Sarek had never been called Grandfather before and for a moment it stole his breath.
Directly after however she proceeded to frown mightly and ask her father if Sarek spoke in standard, but before he could reply she turned back to face him and greeted him doubly as her Sa'mekh'al.
"… the available options as to where the extent of our time will be spent however is limited and yet undetermined. Nyota wishes to return to Terra and spend the time with her family to introduce Amanda and myself. The shuttle schedules for this course of action are unfavorable as the commute between Terra and Izar V is quite long and uncomfortable without the reprieve of a planet to stop at or other such facilities…"
And that was how Sarek made his immediate reply an invitation to spend an equal portion of time with him on Tih-Vulcan as a midpoint between Izar V and Terra.
" The colony is beautiful," Nyota remarked as they were transported across the settlement to Sarek's dwelling. In only a few years short of a decade the Vulcan people had managed to accomplish much and their city was clearly thriving. Less composed than her mother, Amanda's hands were pressed to the plastic of the window, staring at the people and buildings.
" Wooow," she said with wide eyes. It was telling of how magnificent the city was that the usually chattering child was sitting in stunned silence. She was usually only this captivated by complex riddles fed to her by Spock.
"What's that?!" she exclaimed as she caught sight of the beginnings of the hanging inverted cliff buildings that Vulcans were known to construct, making the most of their space and resources.
" Don't point Mandy," Nyota gently clasped her daughter's hand and brought it down, "It's rude. Especially here, we talked about this," she chided the child who squirmed in her seat and looked abashed. She apologized quickly and went back to gaping at the scenery. With Mandy so distracted Nyota turned to Spock who had been quiet for some time.
"Are you alright?" she asked in a hushed voice leaning towards his seat. He looked at her and gave one minute nod.
" The experience is profoundly unique," he said indicating it was something he was unable to articulate about just yet. She couldn't begin to imagine what it was like for him and didn't try, instead lending what measure of reassurance she could by briefly squeezing his shoulder before sitting back to answer a new Mandy-question.
When the transport finally stopped before a moderately sized dwelling on the outskirts of town, they all trooped out, stretching cramped limbs and cracking disused joints. Together they unloaded their belongings, Mandy's arms fully outstretched to receive the small pack of her things that Spock bestowed upon her. As soon as her job of carrying her own bag was underway she tromped up to the door with parents lagging behind and stretched to reach the button above her head.
On her toes she was almost there, her fingers completely outstretched- but then she was being lifted and pushed the button with gleeful ease before being set back down. She giggled to herself twisting to look up at her parents knowingly, but the door was opening… there was a strange mood about this meeting she decided, and she didn't like it very much.
The man in the door looked exactly as she'd seen him before, her grandfather obviously. He was tall like most adults, with grey hair and a lined face, but he looked sort of …fun.
" Hi! Do you play Checkers?"
On the third rotation of what could be called a Terran day that the small trio family had spent on Tih-Vulcan, Spock and Nyota received urgent missives from Starfleet. The Enterprise needed contact with them immediately.
As Sarek did not have communication facilities appropriate for such a subspace conversation to take place they dressed in their uniforms and headed for the temporary Starfleet base that protected the colony.
In leaving, they entrusted the care of their child with him. Mandy didn't appear to be at all uncomfortable with the arrangement, explaining willingly that she was watched by many other crewmembers while her parents worked.
They watched each other warily over the top of Sarek's small round kitchen table, his hands folded around a mug of tea, her nose just clearing the surface.
" What activities do you usually engage in while your parents are on duty?" he asked pulling his mug up to his mouth.
Mandy tipped her chin up at him and smiled widely.
" Do you think they're alright?" Nyota slid over to where Spock was making use of a computer terminal to process calculations for the Enterprise. Their current predicament left no room for the tiny margin of error that his replacement was sure to evoke.
" They appear to be distressed but otherwise unharmed, do you have reason to believe them in danger?" He asked without looking up, the buttons singing under his dancing fingertips. Nyota frowned and looked up at the screen where the bridge was depicted sweating out their negotiations without them.
" Not them," she jerked her head towards the screen, " Mandy, your father," she lowered her voice, " They aren't exactly similar personalities,"
Spock paused, " I see no reason for them to have any difficulties in our absence. Amanda is a bright child with abundant communication skills." He turned back to his console.
" But your father…" she whispered tensely.
" Does in fact have experience with raising a Human-Vulcan hybrid child." He said sharply. Nyota sighed covering her eyes, that wasn't what she meant…
" However I understand your concern although it is unfounded and illogical. I assure you my father will not attempt anything Amanda does not wish to do, nor will he impart any information to her unless she requests it," He said turning in his chair to face her. She scanned his passive features, focusing on his reassuring eyes and nodded.
" Okay," she blinked and nodded, smiling tiredly, " Okay, I'm sorry, it's just…" she looked to their stations and picked up her ear piece shaking her head, " Never mind, I'm sure they're fine."
"You have a big Checkers board,"
She commented looking duly impressed as she hopped up into the chair on one side of the large traditional chessboard. Although a terrain game, Sarek had always enjoyed it and Spock had sent him this particularly beautiful set on the fifth anniversary of the destruction of Vulcan, and the death of his human wife.
It seemed fitting for this child with her name to now be appreciating it as she was, tucked into her chair, swinging her legs her bottom lip pressed into her mouth with concentration.
" Indeed," he sat across from her and watched intently as she set up the simple round red pieces, one for each dark square of the first two rows of the board on her side. He extended his hand as she offered the stack of identical black pieces. He placed them as she had hers and looked to her for instruction.
She then proceeded in explaining the rules of the game, you may only move diagonally one square at a time in the forward direction. The object of the game was to capture all of the opponents pieces by 'jumping' them. When you reached the opposite side of the board your opponent would give you one of your pieces back to be 'kinged' and the piece could then move in all diagonal directions. Sarek was intrigued, it appeared to be a simple bishops game.
Mandy then said that red goes first and moved her first piece.
Sarek played, assuming facing a child, even with his handicap of never having played the game before would be little challenge.
Then he watched her deftly jump four pieces in a diabolical pattern and land squarely in kings position.
" King me," she demanded collecting his slain pieces like she made that sort of massacring move all the time.
Sarek then proceeded to be soundly beaten. As Mandy picked up his last piece she sighed and looked up at him unimpressed.
" You aren't very good,"
" Indeed," he raised one eyebrow and extended his hand to take his pieces back and set them up again.
" Captain, I strongly suggest you rethink your strategy."
" This isn't a game of chess, Spock," Kirk was ordering another clearly insane tactic to get out of this new sticky situation. Nyota was frantically working with the opposing Izarian battle cruiser, trying to get them to stand down, to explain that the Enterprise is on a mission of peace.
Spock worked with the Captain, assuring him that Nyota would complete her task, and no serious confrontations would arise from what was supposed to be a simple negotiation. Kirk was being uncommonly stubborn though, leaving Spock to resort to contacting Dr. McCoy for a second opinion.
Within minutes the Doctor was on the bridge frowning and 'Damnit, Jim'-ing. It's the best Spock could do so far away; he itched to be back on the bridge as did Nyota, as she tried to convince the battle cruiser that she was in fact part of the Enterprise crew.
Almost simultaneously Jim cracked and decided to go to his ready room and rethink the entire situation, and the battle cruiser cut communication for deliberation.
Spock and Nyota faced two empty screens for a moment and then turned to look at each other helplessly.
" I thought vacations were supposed to be relaxing." She smiled weakly at him and he raised one eyebrow in reply.
"What do you do for fun?" Mandy asked eventually as she collected another one of his pieces from the board in front of them. Seven games in and Sarek was taking his time, thinking out his moves as he would any chess game. He had yet to win one match and was determined to find the logic in the patterns of the game, but his patience appeared to boring the child.
" My days consist of a number of logical activities to ensure the traditions and culture of the Vulcan people are preserved," he said slowly inching one of his pieces forward and to the left.
Mandy pounced on it and he watched it disappear behind her side of the board with a touch of fond resignation.
" But what do you do for fun?" she asked settling back into her chair to wait for his next move. He looked up from the board into her serious eyes such a contrast to her outward appearance, her hair pulled into two sprightly fountains on her head.
" My leisure time is spent meditating and familiarizing myself with the news worthy events of the Federation." Mandy perked up as he said this.
" You meditate?" she asked brightly. He bowed his head catching her eyes again before taking one of her invading pieces. Her face transformed from surprised delight to frowning frustration. As she moved one of her far pieces, stretching out over the board she huffed.
" I meditate with Father every morning before Mama is awake, I don't sleep as much as her,"
Sarek steeped his fingers and observed her.
" You perform a joint meditation? It is not a solitary pursuit?" he inquires, halting the game for a moment. She looks at him blankly and nods.
" I can show you if you want,"
" We're never leaving the Enterprise solely in Kirk's hands ever again." Nyota mutters punching buttons far more vigorously than she needed to.
" I am of the persuasion to agree with you were it not for Starfleet regulations demanding our leave under penalty of suspension or ejection from service," Spock gently touched her shoulder, communicating wordlessly for her to relax.
The negotiations had lasted the unexpected majority of the day, and they were just packing things up now. It had taken some quick thinking on everyone's part but the Enterprise was once again sailing on unscathed. It was any other day on the flagship of the federation but feeling so helpless from so far away, so far from their true extended family was taxing and they were both unusually fatigued.
" How do you think Mandy and Sarek are doing?" She asked standing and stretching beside Spock.
" I do not know," he said truthfully cocking his head as they began their walk out of the Starfleet base.
Sarek escorted Mandy to his meditation chamber, watching her take in the room, gaze at the artwork on the gently curved walls as he removed his outer robes.
" Is the ambient temperature satisfactory?" he asked her, mindful of her bodily requirements but she just nodded and gazed up at one particular piece depicting a Vulcan night. Much of the sky was covered by Vulcan's sister T'Kuht and the balance of light and shadow captured by the artist was of a startling accuracy.
" It's pretty," she said looking at him with a small smile, " It's the other Vulcan isn't it? Before it was…" she trailed off looking down, Sarek clasped his hands before him.
" Yes, it is. You may speak of the destruction of Vulcan, fear of that which has taken place is to allow fear to dictate your life." He said sitting upon the rectangle mat, folding his legs to settle into meditation as he has done since he was her age.
He then came to watch her stand before him looking at him with open dark eyes weighing his features, his character.
" May I touch you Grandfather?" she asked at last in a quiet voice, " I'm not supposed to touch anyone while we visit the colony, but I only know how to meditate with Father while I touch him." She explained patiently.
He inclined his head, " You may," he sated and then watched as she smiled a small smile and then climbed into his lap. He stayed perfectly still as she arranged herself to sit in his position, her legs crossed her hands on her knees, pressing her small warm back into his chest. Her hair was soft as it ticked against his chin and he pressed his lips together as not to let them curl into a physical manifestation of fond amusement.
Mandy seemed to settle then, but shifted again and looked up at him twisting comically. He raised one brow at her in question. She smiled and faced forward again taking care as she next focused her attentions on turning his hands by maneuvering his wrists to lie palm up.
She then carefully placed her small delicate hands into his large palms. He blocked his own telepathic conduit, allowing her just contact with none of the emotional transference. She seemed very displeased with this.
" What are you doing? I can't feel you." She twisted to look at him again, " Do you really not have any emotions? People say Father has none, but I feel them when he touches me. Or maybe you don't know how to do that?" she asked her words for once in their day betraying her age and inexperience.
" I was merely attempting to shield you from such an exchange," he explained letting go of his tight control so she felt his amusement and affection for her. She smiled then and settled back into him more comfortably.
" You're good at meditating," She said simply relaxing, he felt her mentality in return, a calmness settling over her being as she slipped into meditation.
" I have much practice," he murmured closing his own eyes somewhat eager to experience the interesting push and pull of the joint meditation.
" You should practice at Checkers then,"
By the time Spock and Nyota finally made it back to Sarek's home the shades were pulled and lights were dim in accordance to Terra's daily schedule.
They entered hesitantly, unsure of what they would find.
" Father?" Spock called entering the house further as Nyota unzipped and tugged off her boots tiredly. She then followed him into the sitting area where he had stopped in the doorway. She frowned and ducked around him to see what had caused him to take such pause.
Upon looking into the room she was faced with obvious evidence of a good day for Mandy, half a game of checkers was set up, the dirty dishes of a shared meal over the low table in front of the sofa stacked neatly and pushed to the side but not yet cleaned, and finally in one large armchair sat Sarek holding a large data PADD displaying Vulcan text in one hand. His other hand appeared to be trapped by their daughter who was curled up in his lap fast asleep.
" I was quite unsure of how to proceed once she fell asleep," he said looking down at her peaceful face, " I find myself reluctant to wake her," he confessed his eyes pulling up to look at them, a measure of affection worked into the lines of his face.
Nyota smiled and moved towards them, reaching out to shift the little girl gently into her arms. She inevitably woke with a sigh pressing her head to her mother's neck.
" Mama?" she mumbled curling her arms in, " You're back,"
Nyota hummed, " Yes we're back, time for bed though," she carried her towards the entrance of the room and her father.
"Say good night," Mandy shifted, turning her head and extending one hand, which Spock took in his own.
" Good night Sa-mekh" she muttered quietly and then turned to look over her mothers shoulder.
"Ne'shau neik-ha'ge, Sa'mekh'al*" she smiled at Sarek, the secret pleased smile of two great friends. Sarek fought not to smile back, instead inclining his head and moving to clean up the dishes while she was put to bed.
" Amanda did not create too much trouble while we were absent?" Spock asked, entering the room at last to begin cleaning up Mandy's Checker pieces gathering them back into their satchel.
" No. She is a very engaging and polite child." Sarek straightened carrying their dinner effects and moving back into the kitchen. Spock followed and Nyota soon joined them once more.
" I'm sorry we were gone longer than we expected," She said moving easily to take over the cleaning and recycling of the dishes, " What did the two of you do all day?" she smiled over her shoulder at Sarek who sat down once more.
" We engaged in several games of Checkers. She is a formidable opponent and determined quickly my skill level is little to none." Nyota snorted at that and sighed as Spock took over the task of cleaning from her.
" I hope she didn't gloat too much, Captain Kirk is a bad influence on her when it comes to board games," she said taking a spare chair.
" She was not impressed but neither did she take pride in her wins." He said, " Our conversation were most illuminating as to her life, I was quite intrigued by the concept of joined meditation," Spock paused at this and looked at him.
" It is something she has an aptitude for-"
" I agree. She elected to demonstrate the process. It was a fascinating experience," Spock nodded his head in acquiescence, " It has potential for further study on the topic of instruction of meditation to the children of Tih-Vulcan. I will propose the idea at the next counsel of elders," he said simply, watching as Spock's actions slowed and Nyota's brows furrowed.
" Will they listen to you? Mandy is mostly human after all, using her as an example of a successful case in which this process works…" trailed off implying the counsel may not agree to hear his words because of blind prejudice. Spock was openly watching their exchange now and Sarek welcomed it, it was something they had not spoken of for too long.
" With the size of our population, even as it grows, any and every Vulcan genome is a cherished resource. While the proportion of her humanity may render her dispensable on the grounds of reproduction, other contributions to the community by her are still valid. It is her telepathic abilities that are in question, although weak, they are wholly of Vulcan origin and therefore the solid logical basis to start an inquiry into the benefits of this method of instruction." He stated patiently. There was a clear need to collect and pool every last little bit of Vulcan culture left floating in the universe, and to begin creating new original defining characteristics as well.
" Much the same can be said of many of your Vulcan based talents, Spock. Your skill upon the Vulcan Lyre, and indeed even the instrument design itself are much needed to instruct the youth of Tih-Vulcan,"
Spock nodded then, the note they had achieved with the conversation seemed final, or at least for the moment, they all needed time to reflect.
Many more enjoyable days were spent exploring the colony, teaching Mandy as much as she could ask and taking much amusement in the uncommon but apparently newly close relationship between Grandfather and Granddaughter.
Mandy enjoyed the market the most, conversing in her very best Vulcan with the vendors who raised their eyebrows but in the end treated the small charming girl to free trinkets and in once case a very beautiful necklace she had been admiring.
In no small feat of diabolical organization she aligned with Sarek in order to give the necklace to her mother in the ruse that it had been purchased for her by Spock. The resulting later display of affection between her mother and father was very enjoyable.
All too soon however they were due to depart in order to make it to Terra to visit Mandy's Human grandparents.
The small family huddled in the doorway to the home, the transport loaded with their belongings, ready to make their departure.
Nyota was first thanking Sarek for his hospitality, her arms around Mandy's neck as the girl stood before her quiet for once. She then uttered a well wishing for him in her native tongue bowing her head in respect.
Mandy was next, she stepped forward and looked up at Sarek with wide wet eyes. She spoke a similar thanks for letting them stay and then sighed and motioned for him to crouch to her level. He did so without hesitation, expecting some other words she wished for him to know but what he didn't expect was a very warm and welcomed hug.
" I'll miss you Sa'mekh'al," shewhispered into his ear. He closed his eyes then and wrapped his arms around her as well.
" It has been quite the honor to have made your acquaintance and to be graced with the privilege of being part of your family, Lady Amanda. We will meet again," he assured her as she pulled away finally. She smiled then although her eyes were still shining with tears.
" You can practice your Checkers while I'm gone," she returned to her mother's side and they moved together through the door to the transport. Alone Spock and he exchanged a gaze that spoke of volumes more than any words possibly could. Finally Spock raised his hand in Vulcan Salute.
" Live long and prosper, Father," he bowed his head as well, Sarek returned the sentiment, his own hand raised in the shape so familiar and traditional.
" Be well, and cherish your family, Spock. They are your greatest treasure, it has taken me far too long to realize this point." He said at last. Spock nodded once more and then was gone, into the transport, which whisked them all away.
Sarek felt logically alone after their leaving, and moved to his meditation chamber in efforts to begin to re-center his mind, to stave off encroaching loneliness. As he took off his outer robe a small dark fabric bag fell from its folds onto the floor with a clatter. He hooked his robe and retrieved the bag, feeling the fine fabric and the smooth round pieces it contained.
Mandy had ensured he would have pieces to practice with. Sarek tossed the bag in his hand once and moved into his meditative position, placing the bag on the incense alter before him.
He most definitely would be improving upon his skill in the time between their next meeting. With that he slipped into meditation, looking forward to that unknown point in time where he would be with at least one of his Amandas again.
* Ne'shau neik-ha'ge, Sa'mekh'al = "Greetings of low light, Grandfather," aka good evening -this is completely made up on my part with the help of the vulcan language dictionary