Disclaimer: These characters are not mine!
Two growing seasons spoiled by uncontrolled monsoons in Eurasia have made ginger a delicacy these days, but Spock wants the meal tonight to be perfect—no, not perfect...a meal cannot be perfect, but as pleasant as possible—so he travels to three different food markets before finding fresh ginger the quality that he requires. The rest of the vegetable dish is easier to find—summer squashes and carrots and onions—a dish his mother often made on Vulcan, though with different vegetables.
Later in the kitchen as he washes and slices the food he has warm thoughts of Amanda doing the same back home—and he is pleased that he is able to think of her without great pain. Perhaps this is how grief works—ebbing away slowly. Of course this is a false conclusion, he amends quickly. Yesterday he had unexpectedly seen a hologram of her and had felt such sorrow that he had to stop sorting through the box of pictures and sit for a few moments of meditation.
For the first time in a week he does not move around his apartment like a man condemned to the gallows. Until he no longer felt it, he had not realized what a burden he had carried, how it had dragged on his footsteps and stooped his shoulders. But now—
He hears the outside door respond to a key code and calculates that this is his father coming to fetch him for the evening meeting with the elders. Wiping his hands on a small towel, he steps quickly to the front door and opens it before Sarek can press the code or ring the chime.
Spock watches his father surreptitiously as he closes the door, and sure enough, he sees Sarek's gaze pan around the apartment. He wonders how long before his father figures it out.
Not long. Sarek starts to speak and then stops, and Spock returns to the kitchen and the meal he is preparing. Over the sound of the steaming vegetables he can hear his father's measured breathing. His father does not seem to be troubled by the same disturbing memories of his mother that trouble him—Spock feels the familiar shame about his imperfect human control. When he was a child he had always admired his father's ability to remain balanced and steady.
That control has served Sarek well in the past two weeks—and Spock wishes, as he always wishes, that he could have the same demeanor.
At least he knows that his announcement will cause his father little discomfort, then—indeed, when he tells his father that he will not be joining the elders on the colony, Sarek's detachment is cool. Spock's own detachment is flawed—he cannot help but feel...joyous, yes, or jubilant...or any other word that expresses his relief at being given permission to follow his dream instead of his duty.
Tonight after he and Nyota talk, he will have to spend many hours alone in contemplation. He's not quite sure that he will be able to tell her about the other Spock, his future self. Would a lie of omission be as disturbing as his earlier lie on the transporter pad? He weighs the odds and decides that he will have to tell her, though he may save the details for later, when they are both back on the Enterprise, when some time has slipped past and the hurt from decisions made and unmade have had time to be assimilated.
But for now he has to secure the apartment, and finish the meal, and as he rushes from the apartment, he takes a moment to register his father's expression—resignation, certainly, but something else there, too—an acceptance and tolerance that Spock has rarely felt from him.
X X X X X X X
"You should invest in more reliable equipment," Spock tells the realtor as he signs the lease and hands it back to him. "The problem with your scanner has consumed 22 minutes of my time."
The realtor's lack of expression indicates a high probability that he will not remedy the situation. Spock decides not to press the matter and he walks as quickly as he can back up the steep street to his apartment building. By now Nyota should be there, or on her way. He raises an eyebrow in surprise at how happy the idea makes him—how happy he felt when she had finally answered his note. For one miserable day he had calculated the odds that she would not-and the very real possibility that their relationship could not be repaired, not even when they were both again on the Enterprise.
For he will be back on the Enterprise soon—the first thing he had done after seeing the other Spock was to check the manifest for the list of personnel—and cross-match it with the current candidates from Starfleet. No one else is remotely as qualified as he is for the position of first officer—it is not arrogance that leads him to this conclusion, but logic.
He hears her voice before he sees her—she is talking so loudly that when he swings the door forward she does not look up, and though his father does not either, some subtle shift in Sarek's posture lets Spock know that he is aware of him in the doorway.
The words crash around Spock's ears—he is preoccupied with watching the drama of Nyota's movements—her hands raised to her face, her eyes wide and upset—and his father's complete and utter loss of what Spock had thought of as unbreakable centeredness—Spock watches as something inside his father caves in, his face heavy with terrible loss.
When he moves forward toward him, Sarek stops him and brushes his arm. Spock feels a bright flare as his father's mind flutters past his own, and it is enough to reassure Spock that although Sarek has been shaken, he is not shattered.
X X X X X X X X
The evening is a contradiction of confusing stories and unspoken tenderness. At first Nyota urges Spock to follow Sarek, to make sure he gets back to his hotel safely, but Spock insists that his father is fine.
"But how do you know?" she asks, and Spock raises one finger to her cheek and then another, and he does what he has never dared to do before: he shows her not only what he is sensing at the moment but more, too—the spot in his consciousness always occupied by the bond Vulcan parents and their children share—the awareness of his father like a dim light in a shadowed hallway, the place where he had always felt his mother's presence, now dark and silent—and because Nyota sends back a wave of her own sorrow, he shows her a memory of his mother working in her garden...the curve of her cheek, the warmth of her eyes beckoning him to join her—the feel of the sandy red soil on his hands as he helped her plant desert succulents in tidy rows...
...and then he leads Nyota's mind from his memories to his imagination—to his anticipation of the mathematical, sexual precision of heat and motion, of being tousled soon with her like an interlocking equation...
...but for now they are still sitting here, knee-to-knee on the sofa, their thoughts gently intertwined. Spock opens his eyes, inches from Nyota's upturned face, and remembers the moment on the transporter pad when he had said "I will be back"—it is not a lie, and he lets go of it with a sense of relief.
X X X X X X X X X X
By the time they eat, the vegetables are badly overcooked, but Spock doesn't care. It is hours later, in fact, that he remembers the tagine and lifts the lid to see the soggy, aromatic mess. He offers it anyway, and they eat it in the bed, cross-legged, wearing their sleeping clothes that they have finally put on against the chill.
Author's Notes: And thus this event ends-please let me know what you think. That's my only pay!