Sooooo…long time no update, I know. Really long time. I am really sorry about that. I've made quite a few changes in the last year. After having a job I hated for a few months I had a slight breakdown and decided I needed to make a change or risk my mental health. It was pretty tough decision since I'd needed a job for a while, but I was so unhappy and anxious that it just wasn't good. So I quit. I had a long time of feeling depressed and not feeling like writing. But now after a lot of consideration, I'm going to school to be a dental assistant, with my eye on further education in the field later. Strange it may be to some but I have a big interest in the human body and health, the pay will be good, no work to bring home with me, good hours and with plenty of free time to pursue my real passion of writing without worrying about "making it" as soon as possible. My classes started a short while ago, so before that I focused on writing a book, and it's almost ready to be published on kindle, it's in the last stages of editing by friends with a fantastic grasp of the English language. Someone asked about it before and I'll give more info about it once it's ready, promise. I've also updated Baby Blues and an update for Man's Best Friend is also coming soon. I want to finish these stories soon…because I have other fanfiction ideas as well as more books XD If anyone reading here is a fan of Avatar the Last Airbender, I have a project years in the making coming soon. On related news, I'm looking for a beta reader for that project if anyone is interested. I've gotten rather tired of not seeing my mistakes till later and I want this fanfic project to go really well.

And if anyone is on Tumblr, you can find me there under Dracophile :3

Jim's jaw dropped and he pulled open the gate quickly, rushing out into the street. He looked around, hoping that maybe Young Spock was within sight. Of course he wasn't, he'd likely left hours earlier. "Dammit!"


Jim turned, seeing the Sehlat bound out and sniff around the street before bounding as fast as his fat furry body could take him towards the desert, which began just at the end of the street beyond. "He's following Spock's scent I bet," Jim said.

"Indeed…" The older Spock said as he began running after him. "I will go retrieve him!"

"Are you serious? Isn't the desert huge?!" he yelled, but began to run after him."

"Yes, but a sehlat's sense of smell is very acute, I-Chaya should be able to track him."

"What about your parents? Or his parents I mean!" he said, mind rushing.

"There is no time! The desert itself is dangerous, day or night, but the forge at night is a hundred times more so!"

"Well can't we get a car?"

"You need a special vehicle to run over the sand! You can stay behind; I am going on foot if I must."

Jim bristled and glared at him as he sped up to run next to him behind I-Chaya. "I swear to every alien god out there, you do not get to ever, ever make your snarky comments on my recklessness ever again!" Jim shouted, not caring if he woke any of the houses at the end of the street.

"Do not remind me," Spock growled. "And I was young!"

"You are still reckless, don't deny it! You would go into a freakin' active volcano if there was something you wanted." Spock turned enough to give him a withering look before returning his eyes to the desert ahead. The Sehlat was bounding over the sand already, moving surprisingly fast despite his girth. Jim felt a moment of dread when his booted foot pushed down into the sand proper for the first time. Despite the permeating cold of the night, memories of blistering heat and light were coming back to him, of his skin bubbling and burning and his ankle sore. He shook those thoughts away quickly. He wasn't going to burn, not like before, and he was lucid and had Spock with him. The chill was the worst thing and he wished he grabbed a jacket before rushing into the night. Compared to the planet Spock tried to use as a temporary prison though it was just a brisk evening.

"How far to this forge thing? Maybe we can get to him before he gets there!" he said, rubbing over his hands.

"It's possible, but if he left early enough he may already be at its start," Spock said, hiking up one dune after I-Chaya with determination. "And it goes for miles like a maze."

"Wonderful…" Jim said, worry knotting his stomach. "But you don't die, right? You said you remembered being rescued?"

"I don't know what I remember, captain. I have traveled into the past; there is no telling what is different, what that effect might be having on my mind and memories."

"My memories are fine," he pointed out.

"You have not done anything to change your own history. Whereas you've apparently been living with my family and my younger counter part for months and changed who knows how much. Perhaps I wouldn't even be out there now if not for your influence, because my memory of this event is inconsistent at best."

"Ah…point taken…" he said, chastised. He wondered if he could've seen his past self on Earth. Likely only in Iowa, not San Francisco. And he'd only be a baby. He wondered what he'd do to screw himself up more than he did on his own.

"Let us not focus on blame now. I'd rather ensure I don't die," he said, sliding over the sand on the other side.

You say no blame but I feel like you're trying to guilt me… Jim sighed, following down the sharp decline as well. His nerves were still trying to get to him with memories of his first journey through the sand. He'd grown accustomed to being in doors, away from the grit and the heat or the cold. He envied Vulcans and their naturally higher body temperatures, how they'd evolved to live in such conditions without needing heavy coats.

It was more than an hour before the sand started turning into rocks and earth under his feet. The slope of the ground dipped down into the bowl formed by high rock walls of a large canyon. The ground was dry, patterns of cracks spreading out like broken glass across the wide expanse before them. Rock walls rose up on either side, wide enough apart in some areas it was hard to even see the other side. Spires of stone rose up like columns holding up the sky over the forge at random intervals. In the day they were likely red and gold and dusky brown like the rest of the desert, but the darkness and moonlight painted them a chalky grey color. I-Chaya paused, sniffing over the ground again, moving left and right in search of the scent.

"So this is the Vulcan Forge?" Jim asked, looking around in curiosity. Talking helped with his nerves sometimes and he was on edge with worry now that they were hopefully close to finding Spock the younger. "Reminds me of the Grand Canyon…minus the water."

"Yes, there are some similarities visually. However, the things living in this canyon are much more dangerous."

"How dangerous?" he asked.

"Very. The animals of Vulcan are more active at night especially and-"

A loud shrieking roar swept across the canyon, making both men jump and look. I-Chaya snarled and rushed forward.

"I-Chaya!" Spock called, running after him. Jim followed, heart pounding. It was around one column they say it. A huge creature the size of an earth rhino but resembling a tiger, if tigers were covered in spines. In the dim light Jim could still tell the creature was meant to be green with yellow markings, the kind that nature used to warn of poison he thought. A feline like face was stretched into a long muzzle with large teeth, and long curved claws scraped against the ground. It opened his mouth and gave another shriek that made Jim's ears throb up close, yellow snot-like drool dripping from its jowls. I-Chaya was trying to move forward, but Spock had him by his collar and prevented him from doing so out of sheer will.

"What the hell is that?!" Jim hissed as he tried to stay behind the stone pillar they were hiding behind.

"A le matya…" Spock grunted, still fighting the sehlat. "A predatory animal of the forge. Its claws secrete a poison…"

"Yeah, like they don't look dangerous enough already-Fuck!" Jim shouted the last when he saw what the le matya was focused on. Climbing the pillar in front of the beast was young Spock, doing his best to stay out of the beast's grip. The le matya turned, snarling in their direction. Likely two adult men were a more tempting meal than one small child. "Shit shit shit; I don't have a phaser or anything!"

"I might be able to take the creature down but not in a head on battle!" Spock said. "If we run we can lead it away and-" The le matya shrieked at them and suddenly bounded forward, leaping a distance greater than Jim expected.

I-Chaya broke free then, rushing forward with his claws and one good fang bared. He tackled the creature driving it away from them and where young Spock was trying to hide. "I-Chaya!" the boy yelled, sliding back down. Jim ran forward quickly before he could go to the fighting animals, grabbing him up with his arms wrapped around him. "No, put me down! I-Chaya!"

"You can't get in the middle! You'll end up torn to shreds by both of them!" Jim said, pulling him farther away. Young Spock continued to struggle in his grip. Jim was only human, even a young Vulcan was too strong for him on many levels. An elbow to the ribs had him hissing and feeling like it might've been cracked but he managed to keep his hold on him.

While he was trying to keep young Spock he barely registered the elder running past him. With a vault he jumped onto the le matya's back before it could lay its teeth into I-Chaya properly. His hands came to either side and squeezed the flesh hard, getting the nerves beneath. The animal gave a pitiful whine before it collapsed, Spock rolling off it and to the side before his leg was crushed. "Run!" he shouted. Jim didn't need to be told twice, he had a feeling the thing was just stunned and would eventually wake up. Holding on tight to the younger Vulcan he turned and sprinted away.

"No, I-Chaya! He's hurt!" the boy cried, struggling still.

"Sorry Spock, but we all came to rescue you and we're not letting you get near that thing again!" Jim said, trying to keep him from getting out of his grip. When he finally couldn't run any more he skidded to a stop and pressed his back against the cavern wall, sliding down to sit as he tried to gulp cold air into his burning lungs. Next to him Older Spock was barely out of breath but leaned against the wall while still standing.

"Jay, we can't leave I-Chaya!" Spock said.

"I didn't want to, but that thing might not stay stunned for long!" Jim rasped out, giving him a glare. "That le-whatever is poisonous, you know?! There was shit like that out here and you came out alone without telling anyone! Were you trying to give us all a heart attack!? If it weren't for I-Chaya bringing our attention to it, you would probably be dead and eaten by now!" Spock was shocked, likely because Jim had never scolded him like that. But the fear, the worry, and yes the anger at Spock being so reckless was bubbling over. And it hit him suddenly: Was this what his mother had to go through? When he drove cars off cliffs and got into bar brawls did she feel like this? Or given how much trouble he always got into, did it become old hat? God, I swear I will apologize to her when I'm home. I will call up and say sorry for everything. He took another deep breath to calm down and hugged the smaller body close. "We were scared, Spock. Don't do things like that, okay? There are people that love you that don't want you hurt." He glanced up and noted the Older Spock was looking at him with a surprised, unreadable look. He ignored him and concentrated on trying to comfort the young boy in his arms.

Spock sniffed a bit and nodded. "I-I'm sorry…I just wanted to prove I-I was mature…"

"Thinking you have to prove it isn't that mature. Trust me; I speak from a lot of experience…" He breathed again, trying to keep calm. "Did you really think no one was going to notice and come after you? We were worried! I was worried! You're like a little brother to me, I wasn't going to let you just go out on your own and get hurt!"

Spock wilted a bit more. "I...I'm sorry, Jay..."

"I know, but...look, you're like family to me. A best friend. I don't want to lose anyone. I'm always going to come for you if you're in trouble, no matter if it's your fault or not."

Spock sniffed, rubbing at his eyes with frustration that he was getting emotional. Older Spock was looking at Jim with an expression he couldn't decipher so the captain just tried to smile. getting back under control, younger Spock took a deep breath. "I…am truly sorry for worrying you or anyone. Iwould like to go home. But I want I-Chaya first. I can't leave him behind either, he is my friend and fought for me." He looked up at his older self. "Where is he?"

The older Vulcan looked a bit uncomfortable before he looked grim as ever. "Spock…I do not think I-Chaya will be coming. He was badly wounded. By the le matya-" he tensed and whipped his head back around towards where they had come. Jim was scared a moment the le matya was following, but then he heard the huffing and puffing. I-Chaya came into view, still standing and limping over to them. The poor sehlat had a rather nasty gash across his face down to the rough of his neck but was still on his feet and panting.

With a wrench of his body, young Spock managed to finally get free of Jim's grip and rushed over to the animal, hugging him around the neck. Jim pushed himself to stand, glancing at the Older Spock who was staring at them in surprise. "I-Chaya! You foolish, foolish animal, what did you think you were doing at your age? You are too old and too fat to be fighting!" The Sehlat whined, giving him a lick before he collapsed to the ground. "I-Chaya!"

"He's likely been scratched by the le matya," older Spock said, the shock gone at seeing the sehlat coming forward fading and looking resigned.

"No! No no no, he can't have been! The poison…" young Spock choked a little. "It's all my fault..."

"Easy there, Spock," Jim said, walking over and gently putting a hand on his shoulder. "It'll…we'll figure something out."

"But what can we do?! We're out here all alone," the boy said, rubbing over the sehlat's brow with shaking hands. Jim frowned worriedly, realizing that I-Chaya might not make it as old as he was. This is heading dangerously close to Old Yeller territory… The thought made his heart ache and he knelt down to rub over the animal's side. This was Spock's only friend here on Vulcan really, his one true companion. And now he was likely dying after protecting him from a monster. And was this Jim's fault somehow? Did he influence the boy to come out alone and nearly get killed? God, I just wanted to save a planet, how badly can I screw up someone else's life when I meant to do something good?

"Not all alone," Older Spock said, turning to look behind them. Jim looked up as well and squinted when he saw what looked like search lights in the darkness. Then, over the crest of the incline they used to enter, came a large vehicle. Much like the one that rescued him he thought, though he couldn't be sure with his vague memories. It was and well armored, hovering over the sand using air rather than heat propulsion or magnets.


"I did have a rudimentary communicator with me," Spock said, holding up the device. I used that to issue a distress call message Sarek and Amanda while we came ahead. It seems they've brought further aid."

"You could've mentioned that!" Jim snapped, glaring. "I was having a goddamn heart attack all the way over here and you didn't think to mention you had a communicator and were calling for back up?!"

"Yes, well. It's rather annoying when people keep things from you and make plans that involve you without your say, isn't it?"

Jim gaped before feeling warm again as anger flushed his body. "You…you vindictive, petty, self-righteous-!"

"Jay, please calm down! You're scaring I-Chaya!"

Jim looked at younger Spock, noting the near tears in his eyes despite trying to remain in control, and took a deep breath. "Right. Sorry. Thank you…Selek, for calling in help," he gritted out. You are gonna hear about this later, you sardonic pointy eared jackass…wow, I'm starting to sound like Bones.

The hovercraft was even faster over the rock floor, coming up to them quickly and stopping a few feet away. The door opened and Amanda was the first to step out. "Spock!" She rushed over, hugging him tightly. "Oh, you little…You had us so worried!"

"Mother, what are you doing here? The Forge is dangerous!" Young Spock said.

"Oh, so it's fine for you to come out here alone but not me?! Honestly, this stupid kahs-wan, I didn't like the idea of it in the first place, but for you to go alone-"

"Calm down, Amanda," Sarek said, stepping off from the craft as well, another Vulcan with him.

"I'll not calm down! Our son could've been killed!"

"But I am not even hurt!" Spock argued.

"Getting upset helps no one." Sarek came over and looked down at Spock. Even as calm as he seemed, Jim could tell he was containing a lot of emotion by the pinched look on his face. "We will speak on this incident at home."

Young Spock looked down, his ears and cheeks tinged green. "Y-yes, father…but please, help I-Chaya! He fought a le matya to save me!"

Sarek's eyes widened, looking at the Sehlat who looked back despite his scarred face. "…I-Chaya…Old friend…" He set a hand on the animal's unhurt side and rubbed over him.

"Oh no…" Amanda whispered as more tears came to her eyes. "Oh I-Chaya..."She looked up, beckoning the other Vulcan over. Jim realized he must be a doctor or something as he knelt down. He looked over I-Chaya, gently running a hand over his body.

"His wounds are not life threatening, but likely the le matya's poison is already running through his body," he said, his deep voice calm and serene despite the foreboding report. "He will be in much pain soon."

"Then do something now!" Jim said.

"I am unsure what I can do to save him," the doctor said. "The easiest thing would be to ease his suffering until the end."

"No," Jim said before anyone else could answer. "This sehlat saved Spock's life, and you're saying we shouldn't even try to save his?"

"I'm saying it may be the most merciful thing," The doctor said, his tone still infuriatingly calm.

"We can talk mercy after we've actually tried to save him," Jim said. "Unless you mean you Vulcans have lived with these creatures for thousands of years and never developed a cure or anti-venom?!"

"We do—"

"Then freakin use it!"

The doctor frowned and looked to Sarek and Amanda. Sarke was still rubbing over I-Chaya, who was wheezing a little more and looking sick. "It would be more logical not to waste the cure on a sehlat," he said, trying to appeal to a more logical being.

Jim wanted to sock the doctor in the jaw for ignoring him, but looked to Sarek as well. The older Vulcan looked down at I-Chaya, then to his son's face. Spock looked back, blinking his eyes rapidly. "What do you think, Spock?"

Spock was surprised and sniffed before looking at I-Chaya. "I…I know that he's hurt. I know that it is my fault, I take responsibility for the danger I put myself and everyone else in. And I know he is old and in pain and it would be more merciful perhaps to release him…" Jim frowned and looked down sadly. "But…but I feel that if there is a chance, if his wounds will not affect his life later, then it would be sad to rob him of whatever time he has left. Cutting that time short seems cruel as well. He should at least be home and die in comfort one day, not here in the forge as honorable a death as it might be in saving me. I wish to try and save him, as that is what friends do." Jim smiled a little at him, both relieved and proud.

Sarek nodded slowly and looked to the doctor. "What time I-Chaya has left will be ours to spend with him. He has been a loyal family friend and pet since my own youth. Please administer the cure now, so as to avoid any permanent nerve damage."

"If you insist, sir," the doctor said. He pulled a syringe from his medical kit, getting it ready. Pulling the thick fur around I-Chaya's neck apart, he injected the shot into his neck. The sehlat whined and thrashed a little but soon quieted. "I shall sedate him and tend to his wounds in the transport. We should leave before more le matya or worse find us." Jim didn't want to test the 'or worse' in this case. He helped to get a floating gurney from the transport with Older Spock while the doctor gave another injection to put the large cat creature to sleep. The gurney was barely able to hold I-Chaya's large body but they managed to roll him onto it and get him into the transport. They all filed in as well, Spock siting with his parents on one side and Jim and Spock on the other. The doctor sat cleaning the sehlat's wounds with some liquid disinfectant and clean gauze when he was out. The sedative worked quickly it seemed as he didn't fight the stinging liquid or efficient hands. Bandages were wound around him after or plastered onto his face.

"I've done what I can," the doctor said when he was done, sitting with them. "A proper veterinarian will be needed I think, and I can't guarantee there will be no lasting effects."

"I thank you, Doctor Savata. I realize sentimentality must seem as though it has overridden my logic, but I must be grateful to I-Chaya for saving my son."

"Understood, even if I would not have made the same choice perhaps. That the sehlat lives however would be a joyous occasion," the doctor said in that same deadpan tone.

I'm not sure you quite understand what joy is, but I guess it's the thought that counts… Jim thought. It wasn't too long before they were back in town, the transport much faster than being on foot. The doctor allowed them to use the gurney to get I-Chaya back into the house and to his bed in the corner of the family room. Young Spock sat with him, rubbing over his head in comfort even as he remained out like a light.

The grownups went into the kitchen to get something to drink after a harrowing night.

"I…I can't thank either of you enough, really," Amanda said. "Thank you for going after him right away. And thank you, Selek, for contacting us."

"I am used to having a communication device on me at all times, using it was not difficult. I am glad my textual message got through, I thought it easiest as we were following I-Chaya at the time, and would help ensure you could pinpoint my location easier as you traced it back."

"Very wise," Sarek nodded, a hint of pride there Jim thought.

"You're not going to be too hard on Spock, are you?" Jim asked.

"He has put himself and others in great danger," Sarek said, his face turning more severe.

"I agree. I don't know what he was thinking!" Amanda added, still upset as well as she sipped her tea.

"I wished to show that I was not a child." Everyone looked up to see Spock at the entry way to the kitchen, looking resigned but determined.

"But you are still young, Spock! The kahs-wan doesn't make you automatically an adult," Amanda said, standing. "And being so irresponsible certainly hasn't made us consider you one!"

"I know that, mother. And I am sorry for the trouble I've caused. But the fact of the matter is you and father and everyone else made me feel driven to it!"

"What?" Amanda asked in shock. "I…we did?"

"Explain yourself," Sarek said.

Spock took a deep breath but stood at attention to address his parents civilly and with dignity. "I feel recently that much of the important decisions in my life are being made for me, rather than by me. My future has been decided it seems without my consent. I am expected to grow up Vulcan, shun my emotions, go to the Vulcan academy, and one day be partner to a girl I hardly know and who would rather have nothing to do with me. Some of these things I do not mind, but the latter two I am finding more and more distasteful. Especially being bonded to T'Pring."

It was quiet a moment and Jim looked over to the older Spock, who seemed rather shocked by this development.

"Do you wish to reject your Vulcan side?" Sarek finally asked.

"I wish no such thing. As vulgar as it might be to say, I am proud of my Vulcan heritage. And I want to make you proud, father. I do. But…going to Earth, getting to know other terrans, I have come to also find interest in that side of my heritage. I find more and more rejecting one over the other is…increasingly disheartening." He looked at his mother. "I do not wish to turn my back on half of me."

Amanda's eyes grew wet again and she blinked them rapidly as she tried to remain in control. "Oh Spock…"

He looked back to Sarek, whose face was as unreadable as ever. "I am half Vulcan and half Terran. I know you wish me to embrace my Vulcan side fully, father, but the fact of the matter is that even if I did so, I shall never be accepted by my peers. Neither will I likely be accepted by every Terran I meet either I realize. But I hope that I might be accepted by others one day if I become comfortable with myself. And that is why I think I must find a balance, within me and with how I live my life. And I think especially I will require a future partner that accepts me as I am. T'Pring I feel is incapable of this. All attempts I have made to foster a report with her have failed and in truth, I find her a genuinely unpleasant girl to be around. I do not see that changing as we grow older and believe that any bond we have will be shallow and unfulfilling."

Sarek was quiet a moment, regarding Spock carefully. Spock didn't fidget under his gaze though, meeting him dead on. "You have given this much thought?"

"As much as I can," Spock replied.

"I see. I shall be honest with you, my son. I have been strict with your Vulcan upbringing for a few reasons. Partly it is the way I was brought up. I know no other life than this. Chiefly I had hoped you would be accepted if you embraced your Vulcan side. I see now that was a mistake on my part, holding too much hope for my people and not enough understanding of you. I apologize for that. Another reason however was that you still hold in you the volatile emotions that run beneath the surface of our people. Am I mistaken in thinking this?"

Spock looked considering before shaking his head. "No. I do believe I have the temperament of our people, as demonstrated in the past, as well as much of the physical attributes. My control I find crucial and not what I seek to give up. I still find much to learn as well, in life and in the teachings of our people, which are invaluable in my search for balance. I will still seek to guide and leash my emotions as necessary and follow much of our beliefs."

Sarek nodded, seeming a bit relieved by his words. "Understood. But the bonding ceremony you do not wish to follow? Despite the consequences?"

"I am half Vulcan, father. There is a possibility the plak tow shall not affect me. But if it does, I would rather be given the chance to follow my human inclination and find a life partner I wish to be with, not that I am with merely out of convenience or precaution to a problem in my evolution. I feel that, being there is no other like me in the universe to my knowledge, that in many ways I should forge my own path. To me this means following the core of my Vulcan beliefs, but also not shunning my human side or what it believes as well. As illogical as it can be sometimes. And for this I ask you both, mother and father, to cease treating me like a child and yet thinking I am old enough for my right of passage and to be bonded to a practical stranger in near matrimony. I wish for the chance to at least be part of a discussion of my own future and not merely told what to do and where to go."

Sarek was quiet a moment before looking to Amanda. Amanda looked back with a guilty and saddened face before nodding slightly. Returning his gaze to his son, Sarek nodded slowly. "I believe I understand. However, I ask that you take a little more time to consider this. This night has been full of rash decision and I will not tell T'Pring's parents your bond ceremony is off until you are positive this is the rout you've chosen. The ceremony is or was to be in two weeks. You can consider these two weeks a time you have in order to decide which path you wish to follow from your heritage in this regard. You may also begin to consider where your future lies. Here, or on earth." Spock was surprised, both the younger and the elder, and Sarek glanced at Amanda who smiled slightly at him. "I do not envy your decision, my son. Vulcan offers much. No wars, little crime, order, logic and control in place of raw emotion and instinct. Given our strength that is often a blessing, and the clarity of our minds now has led to much innovation. But you are also your mother's child, a blessing in itself. You may see the value in free emotion, expression unrestrained in a way that I or any other Vulcan may shy from. If you feel the Vulcan Science Academy is not your place, I will understand I think. I ask only you put as much effort into your studies as would be required to be accepted, so that you know you could do it and cannot be beaten down by your peers for that. If you choose another path, and it leads you to Earth, you will have a home there in the future where you can express such things more freely than here on Vulcan and…though I shall miss you I would give you my blessing."

Older Spock looked as though his father had just offered him an entire moon to live on. Amanda smiled happily and put a hand on Sarek's arm. "There is no rushing that decision either. You always know we'll be proud of you, Spock, so long as you don't waste your potential and always do your best." Sarek nodded to her and Jim had a feeling that they had discussed this quite a bit out of view of everyone else.

"Once on you choose your path you shall not be able to turn back, however," Sarek warned. "T'Pring's family will not react well to the insult of a broken engagement. Further, as you still have every possibility to require the use of a bond later in life I urge you to think very carefully. Not simply with your emotions, but with your mind and what will in the long term mean the greatest benefit to all, not simply yourself. This goes too for what you wish to do with your future. I do not wish to see your mind or body broken. Such things would pain me greatly."

"…I shall bear that in mind father. I thank you for allowing me to decide," Spock said, bowing his head. Jim thought he could see a small hint of a smile there and smiled as well.

Sarek nodded but held up a hand. "Make no mistake, Spock. You are still young by both earth and Vulcan standards. I shall respect your decision to a point, but you will still be governed under our laws as a minor as well until you are old enough. I shall let you make decisions in regard to Vulcan customs whether to participate or not. If you do not participate in the bonding ceremony, than you will only be allowed to make your own decision after you reach maturity at the age of twenty or later for whom you wish to bond with, as with many other decisions."

Young Spock looked ready to argue before he stopped. He took a deep breath, mentally stabilizing himself, before nodding slowly. "I understand, father."

Sarek nodded and rose. "Now I think perhaps we should all try to get some sleep. It has been a harrowing night."

Amanda rose as well, going over and giving Spock a hug. "I'll try to treat you a bit more maturely, Spock…but you're still my son and I'm only human."

Spock blushed but hugged her back. "You are my mother. That is something more than "only human"."

Amanda smiled a bit, blinking back tears and giving him a squeeze.

Jim and 'Selek' rose as well, bidding everyone a good night as they headed up to sleep. Older Spock paused a moment before going over and rubbing over the unwounded part of I-Chaya's head, the Sehlat giving a groggy whine. Jim smiled a little, waiting for him by the stairs until he was done and joined him. "…So…did your kahs-wan thing go this bad before?"

"…I think so. It is still difficult to remember. I believe however that I-Chaya did come to my rescue before and did not survive the encounter."

"Oh god…" Jim whispered.

"I chose to have him put down," Spock elaborated. "He'd been poisoned far worse; there was no chance of saving him without permanent neurological damage. It seems somehow he avoided the worse of it in this timeline. Perhaps thanks to my interference."

They entered their shared room, Jim dressing for bed immediately with a yawn that made his eyes water. "Well, I'm glad. I mean…I get why you made that decision, and that it probably wasn't easy. But I'd rather I-Chaya have as long a life as he can. I've grown kind of attached to the giant fuzz ball."

"Indeed…It was a hard decision and one that always left a bad impression on me I know. That it is different now is…strange though."

"Everything about this is kind of strange," Jim pointed out.

"True. I seem to be more…obstinate in this timeline as well. It took me much longer to realize what my younger self has now…and much more loss."

Jim frowned and put a hand on his shoulder. "Hey, that's part of why I did this. Hoping to save the whole planet. Amanda included."

Spock nodded a bit and sighed, getting ready for bed as well. "Your meeting with the council will hopefully be fruitful then."

"Hopefully…" Jim sighed, climbing into the bed. He wasn't sure he'd be able to sleep after all the adrenaline of the night, but it seemed he was bone tired and the warmth of the covers warming his body up and lulling him into a deep rest.

I'll be honest, I was going to have I-Chaya not survive like what happened in the animated series, but then I realized I've changed Spock's childhood so much, why not change it more! So he's alive. I think I know where else this story will be going now, so hopefully there won't be such a fucking long wait this time (sorry again). I'll shoot to have it out in a couple of weeks at least, hopefully sooner.