Setting: After ST XI, back on earth at Spock's human grandfather's house near Seattle, North America. (Christopher Plummer as Ret. Adm. Robert Grayson. I tried attaching the fanfoto again where he's jauntily wearing a scarf and has a great blue-eyed smile, but it got cut uploading. He seemed like he was having the time of his life as Karg; it would be so fun to have him in another role.)
My only daughter's only child thinks he has slipped unseen away from his mother's memorial service. He objected to attending, but his father and I both insisted he come. I can see he's hurting: we all are-my Vulcan son in law as well. It's hard to read my son in law, but his rigidity, silences and distraction have been telling.
The service is over, so I too can slip away to check on my grandson. His father is already at the door, the worry in his eyes plain. "He cannot bear to demonstrate human characteristics in my presence."
"Sarek. He looks up to you. He needs you."
Outside the window the lawn sweeps down to the steel gray of the sound and the boat dock, where the waves are gently soughing. It is low tide and the salt bleached cobbles of the beach lay exposed, gray and fringed with emerald eelgrass. The sky too is gray and monochromatic; the San Juan Islands in the distance barely visible through the mist.
Sarek shakes his head. "He depended on Amanda. He could always speak freely with her." He meets my eyes and I can see the pain there. "He tried to save her. As we prepared to beam aboard the Enterprise, the ground collapsed beneath us. She was mere centimeters from…" His voice trailed to a whisper. "I regret if this causes you pain, but the shock to my son was great."
Yes, it hurts, but it helps to know the truth, what happened; how Spock managed to save his father but not his mother. My precious baby, dear God…
"Sarek. I'm so sorry." Not just my daughter lost but the entire planet dissolving beneath their feet: their home, their culture-six billion Vulcans gone in less than twenty minutes time. And earth barely averting the same fate. "There are no words…"
Sarek gives the slightest nod to acknowledge my condolence, but says nothing. He opens the door, and we move in tandem to the edge of the stone patio.
My grandson wanders along the water's edge to the end of the boat dock. I expect him to stop there and duplicate Sarek's Vulcan stance, ramrod straight with his hands clasped behind his back. But, no, he leans hard on a piling. I have an idea, and gesture for Sarek to follow me.
We drift across the wide lawn in silence and enter the old boathouse. I gather a bucketful of cleaning supplies and nod my head for Sarek to follow me out on the dock, but he hesitates. He is wary of the water. I doubt if he knows how to swim. Few Vulcans do…or did, I correct myself. I hold out the cleaning supplies.
"Star Fleet has placed him on leave for at least another couple of weeks. Tell him I expect him to do something useful around here." I say it gently, a suggestion.
Sarek takes the bucket and looks at its contents uncertainly.
"He knows how to use that," I add. While Spock stayed with me during his Star Fleet Academy holiday breaks, I'd taught him to sail. He'd already logged plenty of time swabbing the decks of the Mandy Jane and running her around the Sound. The repetitive, mindless maintenance work might be just what he needs to find his bearings.
As Sarek-carefully walking dead center on the dock-approaches Spock, I can see the effort it takes for my grandson to force himself into the formal Vulcan stance. Still, he faces away from his father.
"Spock. You left the memorial before it was concluded."
There is just a moment's hesitation before Spock responds, "I meant no disrespect."
"My son…" Sarek shakes his head slightly, and I recall what Sarek privately fretted to me last night: No matter how carefully I phrase my words, Spock perceives as criticism anything I say directly to him.
"I would prefer to continue my meditation in private." Spock's words were spoken evenly, but his tone quavered.
"It is appropriate for you to grieve your human mother in a human way."
He doesn't respond right away, and places a hand back on the piling for support. "I struggle for control, Sarek."
"I do not require it, Spock, not in these circumstances. Our losses are too great. I am more concerned that you find your way through your pain, and return to mental balance."
"I have not lost my mind."
"Consider, if you will, that I offer these words out of…concern, not judgement." After a prolonged silence, with Spock keeping his back to him, Sarek places the bucket at his son's feet. "Your Grandfather Grayson requests that you perform maintenance activities on his archaic aquatic transportation device. He indicated that these are the supplies you require and that you are trained in their function."
Not turning, Spock nods.
"There will be an excess of food presented to family and guests shortly; a traditional human post-memorial activity. I do not expect you to partake, but I expect you to attend." Sarek strides away, his pace deliberate.
I can read nothing from Sarek's face, but I have the feeling he is frustrated.
He pauses before me. "I have indicated that I expect my son to participate in the evening meal."
Our eyes hold for a long moment, then Sarek silently turns and sweeps more than strides back to the house, disappearing inside. When I look back to Spock he has knelt and is rummaging through the bucket, picking out some rags. I go to him.
"Hey, kid. Got everything you need there?"
He nods, sniffing quietly and wiping at his face with his hand. "Yes. I believe so."
I rummage through my pocket and hand him a clean handkerchief. "Here."
My grandson sighs, taking it.
I have a sudden realization. "Your father had no idea-" you were crying. I stop myself from stating it out loud—after all, it's generally believed that Vulcans are physically incapable of shedding tears and I don't want to unintentionally offend Spock by pointing out he's doing something human.
Not looking up, he scrubs at his face. "Correct. To grieve in this way is, of course, alien to him," he responds as if I'd completed my sentence.
I put my hand on his back for a moment, over where I believe his heart is, and can feel him trembling. "I miss her, too."
His breath catches in his throat and, although he continues smoothly organizing the cleaning supplies, fresh moisture tracks down to the tip of his nose. Irritated, he flicks the tears away, his mouth compressing with determination. He opens up a can of wax and tests it with his finger. "He thinks I am being self-indulgent." Spock says quietly.
I bite back the refutation that comes to my lips. Spock believes it: perhaps he fears it's true. He doesn't need me to correct him, not now, not today. I give his back another little pat and a rough rub and step back, putting my fists on my hips. I lean back as my gaze follows the little craft's mast up, checking the rigging. "You think you can get this sailboat ship shape?"
"Aye, sir." Then he adds softly, almost wistfully, "There might be time enough to run her out to the point and back before dark."
'May I? Before dinner?' I translate. "I'll cover for you if you run a few minutes late."
His dark eyes give me a grateful glance as he nods, understanding.