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Special Thanks to Beta Notes from The Classroom…check out her latest story "The Envoy" in my faves.

Chapter 1

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

Leo Tolstoy

T'Pring stared at her feet dangling above the floor as she sat in her mother's chair. Her parents were excited about something. She felt it through her bond with them when they touched her fingers minutes ago, but was not able to discern the source. Her deductive reasoning was weak.

23.75 minutes ago the comm had chimed announcing a call from Ambassador Sarek, an associate of her father's from years ago at the Vulcan Science Academy. Her parents had touched her fingers, asked her to watch her baby sister, T'Pelna, and then left the room.

T'Pring looked over at her sister now. The baby was sleeping soundly in the cradle. T'Pring wished she would wake up...she deliberated reaching over and touching her sister's fingers. A telepathic nudge would surely rouse T'Pelna from her slumber and then T'Pring could play with her.

Her sister was just beginning to transmit emotions through her fingertips. T'Pring found it delightful - and her parents assured her that letting her delight slip back to T'Pelna through her own fingers was a logical way for both of them to hone their telepathic abilities, although a finger touch was actually technically only empathic, not telepathic per se.

T'Pring reached over towards one of T'Pelna's enticingly opened palms, and then drew back. She was nearly eight years old. She should have better control over her impulses by now. How often had she heard her mother say, "A tired baby is a difficult baby"?

T'Pring did the mental arithmetic - no fewer than 13.5 times! She was reasonably sure it would have been 14 times if her mother hadn't been interrupted in one instance by T'Pelna's wailing.

Putting her hands under her thighs to resist temptation, she mentally congratulated herself for being logical. And then, as if to reward her for her control, T'Pelna's eyes fluttered open.

Without hesitating, T'Pring reached over to touch T'Pelna's fingers.

What did T'Pelna feel? Grogginess...and familiarity. Happiness. T'Pring echoed the happiness and T'Pelna made a soft sound. Contentment radiated through the finger link.

T'Pring was so excited she wasn't aware of her parent's approach until she heard her mother say, "Ah, T'Pelna has awakened. How unfortunate. She will be very tired later."

"I will watch her," said T'Pring's father.

Feeling her heart fall, T'Pring said, "There is no need, Father. I will watch her."

Taking a step towards T'Pring, her father held out his fingers. Responding with her free hand she felt his happiness and...pride? "Your mother has something to tell you. Go with her."

T'Pring was unable to contain her disappointment. Unfortunately, T'Pelna and her father both felt it. T'Pelna began to cry.

Kneeling down, her father transmitted calm. "You will be able to play with T'Pelna later. Go now with your mother."

x x x x

T'Pring sat on her sleeping mat in lotus position. Her mother sat across from her in the same position. Their fingertips were joined. At this age most Vulcan children would not need this physical contact to discern their parents' emotions.

Her teachers used the word 'handicapped.' T'Pring's parents used the word 'delayed.' T'Pring was confident she would outgrow her 'handicap'...her parents were confident.

In the meantime, T'Pring's parents didn't believe in leaving her out of the family bond, so in private their fingers were frequently on hers.

Now her mother's fingers were transmitting relief and happiness. "We have found a bond mate for you. His parents are aware of your delays and they accept them."

T'Pring echoed the happiness her mother felt. All of her schoolmates were bonded. Some even spoke of their bond-mates as 'friends' already.

It was illogical, but T'Pring felt herself ashamed of her unbonded status. It was public proof of her undesirability.

A thought occurred to her. "Is he like me, Mother?"

Happiness burned through T'Pring's fingertips. "No, his telepathy is strong, as are his skills in deductive reasoning. When you have children, it is highly unlikely that they will have any delays of their own."

T'Pring felt herself overcome by wonder. How had she been this fortunate?

"His name is Spock," her mother said. "Perhaps you have heard of him, he is the only Vulcan Human hybrid."

Now that she thought of it, T'Pring realized she did know that Ambassador Sarek had a human wife and that they had one child. She'd heard about a Vulcan Human child, too - but hadn't put the two together. She'd heard in the 'hybridization process' the Vulcan genes dominated, but she didn't know what that meant really. Apparently his intelligence and telepathy were more advanced than her own. She felt a swell of curiosity. Perhaps he had round ears? That might be interesting.

"Your questions will be answered soon enough," her mother said, picking up on T'Pring's curiousity. A flicker passed through the link that T'Pring could not identify. "He has had some trouble controlling the outward display of emotion. But you," said her mother and the link swelled with pride, "have perfectly adequate control for a child your age. You will balance each other."

T'Pring nodded, pleased. "It seems we are a logical match."

x x x x

Spock sat across from T'Pring on a pillow upon the raised dais. His eyes darted to the side three times towards his parents. Her mother was right; he was not controlled.

Keeping her eyes focused straight ahead, T'Pring felt happy. She would be able to help him, just as he would help her. She'd always feared if she bonded with someone smarter and telepathically stronger, he would look down on her. Now she didn't have to be afraid.

He was pleasing to look on, too. That was a pleasant surprise. Did he find her to be as well? In a few minutes she would know! She was very excited but took satisfaction in knowing her outward demeanor betrayed no sign.

A healer placed two fingers on both their temples and then said, "You may begin."

In unison Spock and T'Pring raised their hands towards one another's temples. "My mind to your mind..."

T'Pring felt like she'd been caught in an earthquake. She'd never been this deeply in any mind except her mother's and father's. And their minds were welcoming and filled with warmth towards her - well, when she behaved. But she mostly was a logical girl, and so that was most of the time.

Spock's mind was chaotic and strange and his presence in the meld was overwhelming. Or maybe it was just that she was so weak in comparison? She felt her own shame at her 'handicap' and then felt that feeling of shame resonate with him. Images of taunting Vulcan children welled up before her eyes - taunting him because he was half-human! T'Pring was aware that some Vulcans regarded humans as inferior, but her parents were not among them. T'Pring trusted her parents.

And how horrible to be singled out publically! At least no one taunted her out loud. She tried to transmit sympathy. To her surprise, something in Spock recoiled as if she'd stung him. It hit T'Pring like a physical blow. What had she done wrong?

And then she felt Spock trying to get his bearings. Ahhh...it wasn't just her weakness that made this place between their minds uncomfortable. It was strange, unfamiliar territory for both of them. She tried to speak into his mind. But it will not be strange forever.

She felt Spock regard that statement. It did not elicit happiness from him or unhappiness. She felt like he was weighing the truth of it.

What are your interests? she asked...she wasn't strong enough to peer around his mental corners and find them for herself.

Images of numbers, planets and equations filled her mind; notes from his lyre hummed in her ears. And then a multitude of brightly scaled creatures swimming in water shimmered in her vision - Earth fish! His brother liked them and so did he. A thought on fish popped into his mind - some were as smart as the 'dog' animals used for assistance by humans on Earth. He wondered if fish could be equipped with special suits and used as assistance animals in space; after all, they were already attuned to navigating in three dimensions.

T'Pring could not contain her wonder. He was smart. Very smart. She thought he would one day be as smart as her father and mother. And there was something else, too - the way his mind flittered to the idea of fish as assistance animals in space...It wasn't something he'd deliberated a great deal upon-it had just occurred to him in this moment. She wasn't equipped to judge the idea on its merits, but it was...fascinating.

Spock's mind seemed to open then. Just a little. She felt something...

What are your interests? he asked.

He could know it in an instant; she knew that. He was strong enough. But he was asking. T'Pring felt joy.

She felt him recoil a bit, but did not understand.

So she stuck with his question. He would not learn anything from her that would be relevant academically. And her skills in the lyre were not as impressive. So she filled him with images of her family - especially T'Pelna. He didn't have a baby sister. That was something new she could give him. And T'Pelna was so interesting. Her sister's new favorite activity was to sit up, and then drop and roll over. T'Pring loved helping her sister sit up so she could do the movement over and over. She loved feeling the baby's thrill through her fingertips.

T'Pring felt Spock absorbed these experiences...and then felt his disappointment.

x x x x

After the bonding, Spock and T'Pring touched fingertips to the members of their new families.

Shaken by Spock's disappointment, T'Pring hesitated for a heartbeat before touching the fingers of Spock's father Sarek. To her relief she felt only calm, peace, and welcome. His eyes did not dart from hers. Sybok was the same.

And then she found herself face to face with the human woman. Her eyebrows were half circles above her eyes, but her features were symmetrical and not unpleasing. What was peculiar about them was how they moved.

A tightness started in the human's lips and then they appeared to relax and the relaxation spread outward. T'Pring was reminded of a stone dropped into a pool. She could not fathom what the expression meant.

It made her uneasy, but she did not want to be rude. Reaching forward, she brought her fingers up and the human woman responded, but slowly. To T'Pring, touching a human felt different. She felt some resistance; it was more difficult at first to get her bearings, but then she felt a slight spark of connection. T'Pring felt the human woman's own hesitance and...worry...and knew the human was trying to hide both. It struck T'Pring that this was the first time she'd ever been in contact with a fully-grown sentient being whose telepathic skills were less than her own.

When one encountered another being in distress, Surak did command a standard response. T'Pring tried to project calm, peace and welcome - just as Sarek and Sybok had done for her.

The human woman's lips thinned and stretched outward. "Thank you," her bond-mate's mother said. A blend of happiness and sadness T'Pring did not understand flickered from the woman's fingers...and something else...she thought perhaps the woman liked her. It was very pleasant. And if one's bond-mate's mother liked you...

Perhaps she could be optimistic after all.

A/N:

If you haven't guessed by the title, T'Pring will be handled very differently in this story. This won't contradict my other stuff, but my feelings on T'Pring have evolved a lot since I started writing Fan Fiction so it may not completely fit with Descartes Error. (I can't remember all I wrote about her in that tome!)

I have a cold for the third time in about two months (we're thinking our 4-year-olds nickname should be "The Petri-Dish"). I just want to write something that is fun for a little bit, don't have the emotional energy for Tapestry for a while…and this just came to me. Will be an eventual happy ending for both our Vulcan leads.

If you think Spock is innocent…Leave now! Leave now!