Title: A Study in Humanity , or, Ten Times Ambassador Sarek Encountered James T. Kirk
Characters: Spock, Kirk, Sarek, some Amanda and McCoy
POV: Sarek, surprisingly, and rather pleasantly for me to write. Explanation below.
Word Count: 8,866
Warnings: Massive spoilers for the whole TOS canon, including (in order) Amok Time, Journey to Babel, The Motion Picture, The Wrath of Khan, The Search for Spock, The Voyage Home. Full footnotes and explanations inside. Quickly beta-ed because the recipient is sick and I didn't want to make them wait.
Summary: Tharin was my 500th reviewer for A Star to Steer Her By, and as such got a ficlet of her (his?) choosing. The prompt was: My request is an outsiders POV of the big three. It would be great if it could be Sarek. Spock and McCoy banter would be great, too.
A/N: So yeah, the 'ficlet' morphed into something that, honestly, I really and truly like, which doesn't often happen in my own fic. I believe Vulcans are misrepresented in fanfiction quite a bit, just as I believe that in particular Sarek is misrepresented regarding his relationship with Spock. I also believe Amanda doesn't get much attention and when she does, it's not accurate. Half of what we read about regarding Vulcans can't, in my opinion, possibly be true - and the other half isn't consistent with evidence found in the canon for those who search for it. In other words, you may believe I am making Sarek and possibly Amanda OoC here, but I really don't believe I am and I believe I've shown in here why I think I can stand by that. The Sarek who requested a different escort than his son in Journey to Babel isn't the same Sarek who openly admitted to T'Lar that "My logic is uncertain where my son is concerned" in Search for Spock. Massive change here, people, and I don't think I'm outside my rights in writing this. Even if I am, maybe you can enjoy it anyway.
So here's to you, Tharin, and hope you feel better soon!
The first time Ambassador Sarek encountered Captain James Tiberius Kirk, the human was unaware of the fact; and the instance was so brief it barely deserved more than a passing thought.
Amanda was in the habit of receiving communications from her son during his service in the profession he had, against all logic and Sarek's much better judgment, chosen. When he had stated in no uncertain terms his disapproval of his wife's practice, and had even gone so far as to forbid her from speaking of the messages while in his presence, he was met with silent acceptance as befits a Vulcan wife.
He also met with an entire lack of communication – verbal, mental, physical – for a period of four days, seven-point-eight-five hours, and fifteen seconds. Human women could be most persuasive in bending the strongest of men to their will, he had discovered, much to his eternal regret, long after he had married one. It was most illogical that simply being ignored – abroad, at home, during meals, in bed – could wreak such havoc with his inner tranquility; and yet to deny that which existed was not logical.
He gave in after he could bear it no longer, and permitted Amanda to speak of and with her son if she pleased, with the understanding of his own disapproval and entire lack of interest in the proceedings.
It was sheer chance, nothing more, that caught him outside the open doorway one evening when a live communication came through from the starship Enterprise. According to the words he could hear clearly from around the corner, Spock was (shockingly) about to absent himself from the ship for two days of the frivolous activity known as shore leave – in the company of his human captain, no less.
Such astonishingly unVulcan behavior was only to be expected from Spock, unfortunately, and yet it was admittedly uncharacteristic. Captain James T. Kirk was a human in every sense of the word, and Spock a polar opposite in most interests and expressions.
But when he heard Amanda's amused laugh chime softly in the room beyond, he decided that to ensue a spouse's happiness was logical, and so did not enter to cause her unease by his eavesdropping.
He did, however, move into the shadows to catch the end of the conversation.
"But surely a few members of your security teams could do so just as capably?" Amanda was asking, and with that dangerously shrewd edge of mischief that caused their Vulcan neighbors no end of grief at social functions.
"No doubt, Mother," Spock's reply was calm, entirely devoid of expression, as it should be. "But the captain insists he will, and I quote, 'ditch his royal guard' as soon as he beams down, if I were to insist they accompany him. As this would cause no end of problems planetside, not the least of which would be the safety of the ship's captain, I shall accompany him instead."
"But he said he didn't want a guard, Spock?" Amanda asked, obviously smiling.
"It was his own suggestion, Mother. I take it therefore that he is simply more resigned to my company than Security's."
His wife laughed again, the sound soft and gentle as the evening breezes. "Oh, Spock," she sighed at last, her voice tinged with amusement. "Your captain is a very…interesting man."
"At any rate, Spock, I wish you luck in your…duty to your captain's safety planetside," Amanda spoke after a short pause. "And –"
The pressured sound of automated doors opening filtered through the channel, and a clear human voice rang cheerfully over the connection. "Come on, Spock!" came the good-natured bellow from distantly off-screen. "How long does it take a Vulcan to pack a toothbrush, anyway?"
Spock gave an audible sigh, and Amanda's laugh tinkled merrily once again. "I shall be with you in a moment, Captain. I must go," he added, more quietly as he returned his attention to the screen before him.
"Of course. Try to enjoy yourself, Spock," was his wife's illogical reply.
"Vulcans do not enjoy or dislike actions or circumstances, Mother. They simply acknowledge each's existence."
"Yes, of course, my son. Then at least do more than simply acknowledge your captain's presence for the next two days?"
"SPOCK! I'm going to leave without you, mister, I promise I will, and then you'll have to beam down with Bones!"
"I shall apparently have no choice in the matter but to do so," was the response, edged with wry humor.
He shook his head at the human captain's presumption and entire lack of decorum in shouting at his subordinates, or in seeking a Vulcan's company on such a frivolous excursion. And why Amanda found her son's duty to protect his captain to be so amusing was entirely beyond his comprehension.
The second time, Ambassador Sarek should have encountered Captain James T. Kirk but was unable to.
Due to his and his wife's being in the Laurentian System at a tri-planet peace conference when Spock's unfortunately premature Time occurred, he had not even been notified of the condition before the entire debacle had been concluded and the Enterprise waved summarily on its way to Altair VI. (1)
Amanda had been furious, not only because they had not been notified due to the ambassadorial suite's clear no-disturbance policy, but more emphatically because their son's betrothed had rejected him for no reason other than carnal desire for another. To do so was utterly repulsive, not to mention entirely without ethics. Had T'Pring desired an annulment of the marriage bond, she could easily have petitioned for one based upon any number of relevant factors, not the least of which could have been that Spock simply was not a suitable bond-mate for a Vulcan who never intended to leave the planet. She had had logical alternatives to calling a kal-if-fee, and had chosen none, preferring instead to shame his son before their clan and endanger the lives of his human colleagues in the process.
Whether he approved of Spock's regard for the humans with which he served or not, for T'Pring to endanger innocents over such a sacred matter as a marriage bond was unheard-of and abhorrent.
Amanda had taught him a few new Terran profanities in reference to the females of the species, much to his ambassadorial aides' horror and his private amusement, when she had heard of what T'Pring had done.
He merely scheduled an interview with T'Pau for the very day he returned to Vulcan; Stonn and his new betrothed would have severe repercussions for subverting sacred law and tradition in such an abhorrent manner. Not even a human would dream of so desecrating the codes and antiquity surrounding the koon-ut-kal-if-fee.
His half-human son had behaved more honorably than his full-Vulcan betrothed, and the human captain and physician of the Enterprise even more so. The healer McCoy's method of subverting their tradition was, indeed, subversion – but as the entire affair had been a travesty from the beginning and the humans innocent bystanders thrown into that which they did not comprehend, his actions had been honorable and…even logical, under the circumstances.
Besides, as his wife had said so eloquently, if not quite elegantly – T'Pring had not been good enough for his son; he had been of that opinion at the time of their betrothal.
Spock was better off with his human companions aboard his ship. (2)
The third time Ambassador Sarek encountered Captain James T. Kirk, the human was severely – Amanda had helpfully supplied the term – ticked off at him.
It was none of the human's business, his relationship (or lack thereof) with his own son. Spock had made his choice with full cognizance of the consequences for his actions. Sarek did not approve of his son's decisions to follow the path of a Starfleet officer, though by this point he had become aware that acceptance produced a far more preferable state of being in his relationship with Amanda than open disapproval did.
That was, of course, the only logical reason for why news of Spock's successes no longer provoked his disappointment as they had in years past.
He frankly had no wish to even come into contact with Spock, mainly because after over fifteen years he had absolutely no conception of what they might speak about. Pointless converse was not logical, and yet there would be no common ground upon which they might meet.
It would be, in a word, awkward, and that in the extreme. And he must be in complete and utter harmony with himself and his world if he were to successfully navigate the many diverse species aboard the Enterprise, being taken to the Babel conference. Already, he could tell upon disembarking the shuttle, the ship was overrun by emotional displays and currents flying dangerously high. (3)
Captain James Kirk himself was bland and suave, quietly diplomatic, even if the human could not successfully form the ta'al and rather embarrassed himself attempting to. They were welcomed cordially, and Amanda's pleasure at seeing her son filtered deliberately through their bond despite his clear insistence that she restrain herself. His beloved was certainly a rebellious woman, and a formidable one when her mind was set. He had long since learned which battles to choose regarding her spirit, and this was not one.
That changed when he requested another guide to their quarters; he was promptly shoved out of his wife's mind and an icy door was slammed up to block him from her human emotions – but not before he caught the chilly undercurrent of disapproval and disappointment.
Spock himself made no move to acknowledge or defend himself, a respectable feat, and indeed he had not meant the words as offensively as they had sounded; he merely knew he would not be able to maintain his inner peace were he to be forced into awkward converse with a man he did not know – for Spock was no longer a child, and no longer an uncertain misfit, not knowing where he belonged or to whom. The calm, self-collected, content being before him was not his young son, and he simply did not know the man.
Kirk, however, was obviously incensed, though his eyes were the only features that showed the fact, and Sarek noted with great amusement that the human went out of his way to show his Vulcan guests that his First Officer was a highly-respected one aboard this ship. A veiled warning was not very subtly obscured under his bland smile, and he would be very mistaken if he did not identify slight fondness in his son's eyes at the human's righteous indignation.
Possibly that was why he could already foresee Amanda adopting the young man as her own along with her blood son, unfortunately.
Try to stop me, my husband, trickled defiantly through their veiled bond, and he began to regret not bringing his heart medication along with him.
He most likely would require it.
The fourth time Ambassador Sarek encountered James Kirk, the young captain was not aware of his presence.
He had been resting as Dr. McCoy had ordered, Amanda patiently at his side (one pleasing side effect of his illness was the entire and whole forgiveness for any misunderstandings they had) when the alarms blared in Sickbay to signal a Code Gold – an emergency regarding the captain's life. Before his eyes, the genial healer McCoy transformed from a fairly gentle comforter into a small tornado of panicked activity, which chaos was only heightened by the pandemonium that erupted when his son staggered through the sliding doors, panic lurking in his eyes and his half-conscious captain convulsing for breath in his arms.
Captain Kirk was wheezing faintly, lips a chilly shade of purplish-blue, and when he had been removed reluctantly from Spock's grip the sleeve of his son's tunic was coated in the clotting darkness of human blood. Security reported the Andorian attacker had been taken to the brig a moment later, but obviously to all the damage had been done, quite expertly.
"Out," McCoy bellowed to the ward in general with admirable succinctness, pointing at the doors.
When Spock hesitated, eyes on the coughing, gasping human curled on the gurney as nurses hastily stripped him of his bloodied shirt in preparation for surgery, the physician stopped sanitizing his hands for a brief moment to grasp his son by the shoulders and shake him slightly. A shockingly familiar gesture, but evidently Spock did not object.
"Snap out it, Spock," the healer said in an undertone, a voice of cool reason in the chaos. "It looks bad, I know – but he's had far worse and has still been alive to scare us both half to death another day."
Indignation slid into the other, more elusive, emotion that had flooded his son's expression before hastily being schooled away. "Doctor, Vulcans –"
"Don't even say it, you pointy-eared idiot," the physician snapped. "Now I need you to leave, because you know he's gonna fight that sedation tooth and nail unless I can tell him you're on the Bridge keepin' his ship safe."
Slowly, Spock nodded. "You are correct, Doctor," he agreed quietly. "I shall be at my station until you call for me."
"Which I will as soon as he's stable, okay?"
"Ready for surgery, Doctor," Nurse Chapel interrupted gently, casting a worried look between her two superiors.
"Coming. Now get, Spock." The healer smiled tightly, and they left the room together, hurrying in separate directions.
He did not appreciate Amanda's noting in half-concern, half-smugness, that Spock had never once looked at them the whole time; his whole focus had been on his injured captain instead of his incapacitated parent.
And he most definitely did not appreciate her further intimation that he rather deserved it.
The fifth time Ambassador Sarek encountered Captain James T. Kirk, neither the human nor his son realized he was awake and listening to them.
Spock had been far weaker than Dr. McCoy had thought he would be after the incredible transfusion, and he had also reacted negatively to the drug used to accelerate his blood-cell reproduction. As a result, he was confined to Sickbay for another three days, the same amount (oddly enough) that the captain was following his second collapse from his injury.
Amanda had remarked something about the Terran physician being 'brilliant' for placing both his son and Kirk in the same room for the same three days, but by the end of the first he could not for the life of him see why she might think so.
The two had done nothing but chatter endlessly about anything under the suns, the topics ranging from interplanetary beaming equations all the way to something called 'cappuccino' being programmed into the replicators in the Officers' Mess (what the difference was between 'mocha' and 'caramel', whose superiority had been argued vigorously on both sides, he had no idea and was not going to ask). They had played fifteen-point-six games of chess (the captain's medications had abruptly taken effect halfway through one of them and he had begun snoring while Spock was contemplating a move, much to Amanda's amusement), and five of those had required other members of the crew to move the pieces for their superiors. They had read the entirety of The Three Musketeers, Hamlet, and an old Terran paragon of classic literature (according to a very serious, straight-faced Amanda; he personally doubted it very much) called James and the Giant Peach.
Aloud, they had read them, until the strange Terran healer had caught sight of Sarek's face and took refuge in his office, laughing hysterically at something known only to him, and he had nearly given away his own frustration by moaning openly, a horrifically unVulcan display.
Amanda had only found the entire thing to be quite hilarious, apparently; then again, she was not the one who had been attempting to sleep while listening to James Kirk drone onward about oversized insects and disgustingly disproportionate Terran fruit pits being used as domiciles for orphaned younglings.
On the third night, they had apparently exhausted their infinite topics of conversation, and he was beginning to believe he might be able to meditate properly for the first time since the entire disaster began.
He should have known better; but hope was, unfortunately, an emotion which no being was entirely unable to eliminate from his life.
McCoy, after complaints from his nursing staff about the noise level in the recovery ward following an hour-long Kirk and Spock conversation held while calling across the room at each other, had moved Spock's bed closer to the captain's, only a few inches separating them, and in a flash of inspiration had reversed the head and foot of it, so that the two could talk to each other and still recline, negating straining Kirk's healing lung injury by unnecessary turning. The physician had explained his reasoning quite logically to Sarek's raised eyebrow; if he did not acclimate to their desires, his medical advice would simply be ignored. Therefore, he must acquiesce or he would never be rid of his patients.
Amanda had hidden a laugh in her shawl, and he had only closed his eyes; obviously, from the physician's manner, this was a perfectly normal occurrence, this lack of control over his Captain and First Officer.
Now, however, the captain was apparently not pleased with the situation, for he had not ceased squirming for the last ten minutes, forty-three seconds.
"If you had not told the doctor to 'butt out' an hour ago, then he might have been more observant of your distress before retiring, Captain," Spock observed blandly out of the soft darkness.
"He was hovering again," was the growled response, filled with what he clearly recognized from experience with his wife as human crankiness.
"And that is what Starfleet pays him to do, sir."
"Well I'm tired of sleeping on this awful bed! Feels like a bag full of rocks or something!"
Sarek nearly sighed as the rustling commenced again.
"It is the same material and composition as the bed in your quarters, Captain, Starfleet standard issue," Spock intoned with admirable patience; he personally would have told the human to be quiet long ago.
"But the feel is all wrong, Spock. I don't want to spend another night here." The plaintive tone seemed both sly and hopeful simultaneously.
"If you are returning to your suggestion that I collaborate with you in formulating a plan to deceive these sensors into believing we are still in our beds, and then escaping with you, then my answer has not changed, Jim." There was a definite note of amusement audible in his son's voice, and Sarek frowned in disapproval. Despite there being no one around, such familiar behavior was unacceptable in a Vulcan except with close family.
"Spock, you are no fun."
"Thank you, Captain."
The muttered response could not possibly have been inaudible to Spock's ears, if Sarek could hear it across the room, but his son made no response save a small huff of breath which could have been a laugh were the idea not absolutely absurd, even for Spock.
After another three-point-four-six minutes of fidgeting, the captain heaved a weary, drawn-out sigh into the stillness. "I hate this," he whispered.
Spock's voice was gentle. "Hate what, Jim?"
"Being helpless while my ship could be going to pieces without my even knowing it…"
"The Enterprise is fully functional, else I should not be here instead of overseeing ship's business, Captain. You may safely rest easy in that knowledge."
"…Wait. You would be out there?"
"…Affirmative," was the wary reply.
"I thought you were still here for another day like I am."
A short pause, and then the reluctant answer. "I was informed by the doctor that I could be discharged this afternoon should I prefer to return to duty."
"Then why in the world are you still here?" The captain was clearly annoyed that he had not also been discharged, but Sarek was more interested in learning why his son thought it necessary to remain for another day; was he possibly in worse condition than McCoy's analyses showed?
"Based upon observation this afternoon and upon other occasions where you are confined to Sickbay, I…did not believe that you would sleep properly if left alone here."
Silence, blessed silence for all of thirteen seconds.
Then – "You know, Spock, that's really…sweet."
Vulcans do not snort; that must be a trait Spock had inherited from Amanda. "You are obviously in need of sleep, Captain. Please apply yourself to that task."
For once, Sarek found himself in utter agreement with his son's pronouncement.
The sixth time Ambassador Sarek encountered Captain Kirk, he had returned unexpectedly early from an ambassadorial mission to the Rubinius star system and found his home had been invaded by humans.
"Sarek!" Amanda had paid little attention to Vulcan propriety, flinging her slender arms around him and kissing him vigorously in both the human and Vulcan ways right in front of their guests (though to be truthful, it had been a long three-month mission…and it was not as if the men were Vulcan and would be anything but pleased by the action).
Spock, much to his amusement (for in this case it was only logical), looked properly horrified at the display, which was only further reason to permit it to continue just this once.
"We had not anticipated your return for another four days, my husband," Amanda said at last, once they had regained their breath and composure, and indicated the slightly-fidgeting humans seated on the flagstone benches in one of the estate's more shaded gardens.
"The Enterprise's central processing core crashed two days ago and is being overhauled by your Vulcan engineers, since they're the best there are at data memory retrieval," Captain Kirk offered apologetically, "and when the Lady Amanda heard we were in orbit –"
'She insisted I bring the captain and Dr. McCoy down for a visit," Spock finished, with a tolerant look at his mother. "I am…pleased, to see you have returned early, Sarek," his son added, with an extremely hesitant glint of humor in his eyes, "for I have been quite in the minority these past three days."
Spock and Sarek were still on quite unsure footing; more like new acquaintances than family, but that was only to be expected. He had no objections to meeting his son halfway in his efforts, however, and as such thought no more of Spock's calling him by his name instead of familial title than he would of Amanda doing so; it was only natural.
Nor was he averse to distilling the instant tension he could see in Spock's demeanor at his unexpected return; in the interests of peace in the household, of course.
"Indeed," he stated with a raised eyebrow. "Then perhaps you will not be averse to some more logical, dare I say more orderly, conversation now that it has been made possible?"
Captain Kirk choked on his tea, nearly spattering it all over his lightweight civilian shirt.
"I should not, indeed," was his son's reply, and the note of relief in the simple words was not lost on him. How disgraceful had he truly been in past years, to make his own son so wary of his disapproval as to walk so timidly around him?
More importantly, how important was that approval to Spock, if he could be so positively beyond-Vulcan in hopes to gain it? Even a Vulcan was permitted to relax in the company of family or close friendships, for those were rare and sanctioned as sacred and valuable by the oldest of traditions themselves. Spock refused to permit himself even that, all for the sake of being perceived as what he was not entirely – Vulcan beyond doubt.
"A game of chess, perhaps?" he offered an acceptable compromise, and an activity that would not entail much awkward conversation. "You can hardly have opportunity to truly exercise your formidable gift in that area aboard your ship."
"Here now," the captain spluttered good-naturedly, scowling. "I give him a pretty good fight on occasion!"
"Indeed you do, Captain," Spock replied, in the soothing tone of a mother placating a nervous child. "On very rare occasion."
"You must not continually best your superiors in any area before subordinates, Spock," Sarek continued, flicking a glance at Kirk to ensure the human was well aware he was not entirely serious; the man showed remarkable ability to understand the subtleties of Vulcan non-verbal communication. "You must endeavor to handicap yourself on occasion when dealing with humans, so that they retain their sense of dignity both before their subordinates and for their own mental states."
"I shall endeavor to do so." Spock's eyes were dancing now, something he had definitely inherited from Amanda.
"Go ahead, laugh it up," Kirk muttered into his glass.
"Captain, I assure you –"
"Vulcans do not laugh, right. With all due respect, Ambassador," the human answered with a peculiar staccato delivery, accompanied by a poking motion with his glass, "I don't believe you. Either of you." Tossing back the last of his drink, he smirked over the rim and toasted them both with it. "Here's to overconfidence."
"Accuracy is not overconfidence," Sarek replied, serene, and the captain's face assumed a wounded expression; no doubt for dramatic effect which was entirely lost upon him. He gestured toward the path back to the house. "Spock?"
His son looked rather like he was strangling on something, but rose to follow after a glance at his captain, who smiled and nodded as if in silent encouragement.
It suddenly struck him that Spock might well wish to mend the rifts in their strained relationship but be extremely wary of being alone with him. To cause further unease to guests in his house – for Spock had not made it clear he considered himself to be a member, after so long ostracized – was not logical.
"You are more than welcome to attend, Captain, Doctor," he said, turning back toward the humans. "Perhaps you might even learn something."
He did not much like the predatory grin that slowly spread across the human's slightly-sunburnt features; it bespoke of hidden depths and probably a hidden brilliant intelligence, if he indeed could best Spock at the ultimate game of logic and intuition.
"I might, at that," Kirk replied, the grin widening as he stood. "I play winner?"
"Play would by definition entail your lasting more than ten moves, Captain," Spock clarified politely.
"I'll show you moves, when we get back aboard. All the way back down to Ensign, mister."
"Are you threatening my son, Captain?"
Behind him, Amanda froze; and he suddenly realized why and what he had said – acknowledging Spock as his son for the first time in over a decade and a half.
Spock himself looked as if he had been physically struck a blow. Eyes unnaturally wide, he stared for a moment at the ground before flicking a glance toward the human standing beside him and then finally resting his gaze on Sarek's face.
He raised an eyebrow; this would never do, if he had any inclination for the situation to improve rather than grow more awkward. And he was, unabashedly, the best diplomat in the entire United Federation of Planets.
"Because it is not a wise action, Captain Kirk," he continued, as if nothing at all unnatural had occurred. "My wife is rather protective of her son; you must sometime ask her to tell you what she said to one of my son's instructors years ago –"
"- when he informed us that Spock was more interested in reading the copy of Alice in Wonderland which-"
"-which he had smuggled into his classroom, than in performing his elementary physics equations."
Spock looked utterly horrified, the tips of his ears tinged a delicate shade of olive, and Amanda appeared utterly mortified at the reminder of how vehemently (and not-diplomatically) she had defended her son against the well-meaning but extremely Vulcan disapproval of all things Terran.
James T. Kirk seemed in danger of asphyxiating himself by trying to appear that he was not shaking with repressed laughter – whether out of respect for Vulcan culture, or simply because he wasn't sure if any of them would be offended, Sarek was uncertain, but was in slight dubious respect for the wheezing human for making the attempt.
The healer McCoy had been following the entirety of their conversation, head bobbing back and forth to each speaker and eyes slowly growing into enormous spheres as it progressed, until their startling blueness seemed to overpower his whole countenance.
Now he suddenly groaned as if in pain, and planted his face into his hand. "Please tell me I have heatstroke and y'all did not just do that," he moaned.
"Do what, Doctor McCoy?" Spock asked innocently.
"Don't even," was the whimpered reply. "Anyhow, have y'got anything stronger than this tea in the house, ma'am?" he asked in an undertone, gesturing toward Amanda with his half-empty glass. "I think I'm gonna need it tonight."
The seventh time Ambassador Sarek encountered Captain James T. Kirk, it was by live video-communication only.
"I have only news you do not wish to hear, Admiral," he said without preamble, for this particular human did not appreciate indirectness as some of his species did with regard to unwanted news.
Kirk's face was drawn, stricken; he found himself wondering if the man had eaten since he first heard. "Then it's true…he did it," the newly-appointed admiral whispered, the utter despair of the words weighting them down like millstones.
"He believed it best," he answered helplessly, for he had been able to do nothing to change his son's mind regarding his choice to seek out the acolytes of Gol. For once – and now it was too late – he had agreed with Amanda in her disapproval of Spock's decision. His son was half-human, and those emotions which he so detested and could not fully control were part of that heritage. An inability to fully master that which for years had been drilled into Spock's head must be mastered had resulted in an insecure, uncertain half-Vulcan, half-human at a critical point of change in his life.
When Captain Kirk had, in obvious desperation, contacted them to try to discover more about what Spock's proposal regarding Gol had entailed, they had given him what information they could and attempted to reason with Spock, to convince him that such drastic measures need not be taken, at least until others had been exhausted.
Obviously, that had not succeeded.
A disgraceful thought occurred to him then, and he stared straight into the admiral's miserable eyes. "Admiral, my son did not dare to leave for Gol without informing you?"
"He…well, he left without telling me, but I knew he was probably leaving, had told him if that was what he needed then to do it…" Kirk swallowed, looked away for a moment to compose himself before returning to the communication. "He got my…approval, I guess you'd say, two days ago. We hashed it all out over five hours one night, and he said then that he was going to still think about it. He just…knew I wouldn't be able to say goodbye, I guess, and left this morning without telling me, just left me a letter…"
"Captain," and the title is used on purpose, for it will remind the human of happier times. "It is far more likely that Spock was aware he would not be able to say goodbye."
Kirk's misery was evident in every detail of his being, slumped in the unfamiliar maroon uniform of a Starfleet admiral, a rank which he did not want. The promotion was, in Sarek's frank opinion, an extremely poor move of Starfleet Command and a loss of immense potential in the lower ranks and the propaganda department. By promoting the youngest and most brilliant captain in the 'Fleet, they had effectively split up the best crew and most tightly-efficient command team in existence in the entire galaxy; and in doing so, they had ruptured several relationships that might take years to heal.
His son had not reacted well to the change; Spock never had reacted well to uncertainty, and after sixteen years of serving aboard the same ship, living in the same quarters, leading the same satisfying life – to lose that so suddenly had thrown his center off completely, and with it had skewed every relationship he had formed over the past five years.
He would have had severe words with Spock had his son simply left without explaining his need to his friend – for Kirk was that, and it was to be respected – for inner peace, for a centering, and without obtaining Kirk's understanding at least, if not his permission.
But Gol was not for Spock, he knew that as well as his human wife. While it was a revered accomplishment, and one to be sought-after by troubled Vulcans, even he could see it was not right for Spock.
"He said it would bring him peace," Kirk finally blurted, scrubbing a hand over his haggard face. "And…and if that's true, then I wish him…all the best, and I told him that when we talked."
Brave words, from a brave man; he did not fail to recognize that.
"I cannot answer for my son's actions, Admiral," he finally spoke, slowly and measuredly. "But I can give you one hope; I do not believe this is the correct course for Spock."
"How is that a hope, Ambassador?" came the tired whisper.
"Because the ascension into the honored few who complete the kolinahr does not occur except to those for whom it is right," he explained simply. "You need only see one such Vulcan to know that it is right for that one; and those for whom it is not, will never be able to achieve it."
Hope lit in the back of the weary human's eyes. "Then you think he will fail, Ambassador Sarek?"
Truth was the most comforting of actions, he believed, and this man deserved no less. "No. For your sake, James, I hope that he will fail." (4)
The eighth time Ambassador Sarek encountered James T. Kirk, he committed a grievous offense against an innocent man.
Spock was dead; they had been notified, as next of kin, two weeks before. His son had been buried in space, as his will and testament had requested, and so it was with haste that he diverted from his planned course to Vulcan to meet the Enterprise when she docked at Earth.
He had thought more of James Kirk than this. And now the human was going to explain why his son had died on what was supposed to be a cadet-run educational trip, and why the Admiral was not already on his way to Vulcan with Spock's katra.
Kirk looked as if he had not slept since Spock's death, and the ever-present McCoy was nowhere to be found as he had expected, but those observations came secondary to the need for information. The admiral acquiesced to a mind-joining, as he knew the man would, and he initiated it without proper preparation or anything resembling gentleness, in his haste to know.
His son had spoken once of Kirk's mind in complimentary terms, speaking of its dynamic allure and its unusually organized thought processes, but there was none of this pleasant, comforting connection in the meld he shared with the human now.
Guilt was the sensation foremost, a choking miasma so thick that he could see nothing else besides it for the moment. So much, so horrifically much guilt that it turned his stomach into a curl of physical nausea. He saw snatches of years gone by, a super-man marooned on a planet in mercy rather than killing a race outright, and how that act of compassion had now reared its ugly, vengeful head and had taken the life of his son. He was shocked by the intense, crippling sense of blame that permeated the human's thought processes; Khan's reappearance was not his fault, and yet Kirk blamed himself and solely himself for so many deaths this time around, the chiefest of which was Spock's.
And then, once the surface of the mind before him had cleared of the roiling clouds of guilt, he felt the pain.
So much pain, so much unadulterated grief that he nearly lost control of the meld, nearly slipped out of Kirk's mind before he gained the knowledge he needed. The raw, heart-wrenching agony of one who has lost half of who he is, a grief so sharp that he knew not how a human could even function in the face of it without Vulcan emotional pain management, the tortured screaming of a soul now realizing it is all alone in the universe after having long ago found comfort in the presence of an all-accepting love. Only in Amanda had he known a mere human could feel so deeply, care so strongly, love so all-acceptingly, grieve so despairingly, lose so completely.
He heard a broken sob, his son's name wrenched from lips not his own, before he finally caught the information he needed and fled the human's mind, regret washing over him at what he had inadvertently done.
Kirk staggered away from him, tears flooding his eyes, for the pain buried deep beneath duty the last few days had been churned upward into a maelstrom once again by the mental intrusion – and Sarek had not been gentle.
"Forgive me," he murmured to the human's shaking shoulders before him.
"Did you…find what you needed?"
"No," he answered softly, and regretted it with everything he was; almost as much as he regretted even contemplating that this man could knowingly be so careless with Spock's soul as to ignore the final rites of the katra. James Kirk would have died before so desecrating such a sacred thing, and Sarek's unflattering thoughts had been most unVulcan – and most unjust.
"Forgive me, Admiral. I should have known you would never withhold what I have accused you of," he finally managed to admit, for though Vulcans did not admit to wrong often, the offense warranted it.
The human was still trembling, looking vaguely ill, and it had been his doing.
"You have to believe…that had I known what he was planning I never would have let him off the Bridge," Kirk whispered.
"Which is precisely why he did not inform you of his plans, Admiral," he replied. "Your ship and all aboard her would have been lost; and he would not have forced you to make that impossible choice."
The human's head jerked up at the implications, the usually bright hazel eyes dull with grief.
"Therefore, what occurred to cause my son's death was in no way your fault, Admiral," he finally spoke the words with utter sincerity, though it would have been easier to attach the blame to an entity he could see and speak to. "You must not continue to blame yourself."
Kirk's sardonic laugh was bitter, sounding sourly in the warmth of the room. "Apparently I couldn't even save his soul, if what you say is true, Ambassador. And don't tell me I can't blame myself for that."
"I will tell you, and you cannot, for he did not instruct you accordingly," he spoke, increasing the tone in severity to make the point.
"But…I don't see him just giving up on the idea," Kirk murmured, morosely picking at a loose thread on his jacket. "If it is truly as important to your culture as you say, why would he not have found a way?"
Silence for a few moments, and then their eyes met as one.
Four hours later, they had found it.
"Your Genesis project has been classified, the planet and surrounding space declared off-limits," he mused, for the knowledge had filtered through their mental union despite the blocks Kirk usually held against secure Starfleet information. "You will be unable to retrieve his body, but his katra at least must be returned to Vulcan. Your Dr. McCoy will not be able to maintain his sanity much longer; scarred as he is by mental contact previously and unwittingly a participant in the transfer, he is most likely rejecting Spock's essence."
"And we've been grounded until further notice, pending investigation," the human murmured, eyes glinting softly in the dim light. "I have no ship, no connections to speak of, no freedom, no mercy from Command after using it all up before now."
"They will strip you of your rank if you steal a ship, James," he warned, and only absently wondered when he began using this human's first name under certain circumstances.
The admiral stood, fists clenched. "Then so be it."
It was truly a pity that he had not, until now, realized the depth of regard, the intensity of acceptance, the exceedingly tight bonds of loyalty that bound these three – for their healer was an integral, if more subdued, part of their union – together into an incredible force the universe itself could and should be wary of.
"Then I thank thee, James Kirk," he spoke in High Vulcan, and meant every word of the respect it indicated. (5)
The ninth time Ambassador Sarek encountered James Kirk, it was the bottom of the ramp leading up to the Klingon Bird of Prey.
No one had been more surprised than he to hear that Spock's body had been recovered, and none more horrified to also learn in a secondary transmission (made by McCoy, for Kirk's had been cold, blunt, and worryingly impersonal) that the Genesis planet had imploded upon itself, that the Klingons had killed Kirk's son, and that the admiral had destroyed his ship to grasp at a small chance of rescuing Spock and all of them from the Klingons' clutches.
The Vulcan High Council had listened to his emergency plea in stony silence, though the air was tense with a flood of curious awe. No Vulcan would dare refuse sanctuary to any species, but this group of humans who had given up everything in a ridiculously risky attempt to save Spock cha'Sarek, of the clan of Surak, would find sanctuary on Vulcan for as long as they wished it – and the Federation would never force their prize planetary member to give up such admittedly-outworldly heroes.
A fal-tor-pan had never been done in recorded history since the days of Surak, and as such if the procedure were successful the entire group of humans would by virtue of their participation be inducted into the very fabric of Vulcan history itself; a high honor, given to no other human in times past.
But all this was of course secondary, and unimportant to any directly involved; nonetheless it gave Sarek some good news to offer James Kirk when he stepped off the ramp of the Bird of Prey that Vulcan evening.
Even a Vulcan would not fail to be moved by the sight of the entirety of Spock's former command crew (once the impressive Commander Uhura had rejoined them), as well as Spock's protégé Saavik, each participating in the bearing of the stretcher holding his son's mindless body. He was unsurprised when they refused to relinquish him to a Vulcan delegation of healers, until he explained that speed was of the essence and as such it was necessary to make haste.
"Doctor, have you any knowledge of what we propose to do with the katra of my son, which resides within you?" he questioned the physician as they hurried along to the temple.
"Get it out, I hope," was the laconic response, and he marveled anew at the human habit of falling back upon humor as a cover for nervousness or apprehension.
"It is an ancient, mystical process – and it will involved the joining of your mind with that of every Vulcan within the temple," Sarek stated tersely. "Many humans are uncomfortable with that sort of contact, Doctor, and an unwilling mind will never be able to complete the re-fusion. You must be willing."
From his periphery, he caught the bitter, ironic twist of Kirk's lips, and knew the man was anew berating himself for not being the one to carry Spock's katra; he had been Spock's intended, Sarek was well aware, but the circumstances had forced a different carrier upon them, and McCoy was the only other person aboard by whom Spock was aware he could be forgiven such an intrusion as this.
The human looked slightly ill at the thought; and he could tell from the mental emanations coming from the frightened physician that the thought frankly terrified him for some reason unknown, but before they had time to discuss the matter they were within the confines of the temple, and the fal-tor-pan was to begin.
He hoped that the more skeptical, bigoted Vulcans within would mark well the way the human healer pushed aside his fear for the sake of Spock and agreed to the re-fusion, well knowing the danger – for it would have been a serious undertaking even for a full Vulcan, and a hundred times more so for a human. They would do well to learn from these men.
And then it began.
The air was charged with the electrifying currents of the ancient arts being summoned to work the first modern Vulcan miracle in ages untold, the entirety of the Vulcan people each bending his mind and will toward the re-fusion, lending all the mighty power at their disposal to the performance of this last, desperate chance.
For hours, the process continued, and for hours, the group of humans stood or sat in uneasy silence, watching and listening, no doubt feeling the residual effects of the re-fusion and the massive amount of psionic power that was being utilized and unleashed in the temple's hallowed depths.
During one of his short resting periods from lending his strength to the re-fusion, he moved over to Kirk's side. The human stood tense and motionless, shivering slightly from the chill of a Vulcan desert night and quivering under the barely-felt power that hovered over them. Kirk was not telepathic, but had always been extremely receptive for a human to such emanations, and he could tell more than the others how slowly the process was going, and how much danger there was inherent in it – for both of his friends. If this failed, he would have lost both Spock and the doctor, either to death or – what was worse – madness. Such stakes were too high to gamble with under ordinary circumstances, and no human could maintain such a strain as this had been for weeks, indefinitely.
"Admiral, there have been chambers prepared for you close at hand, if you would prefer to retire for a few hours while the fal-tor-pan is being performed," he offered quietly, though he knew the offer was useless.
"Thank you, but I can't leave until I know," was the returning whisper, hoarse with tension and an incredible force of sheer longing.
"Understood," he answered, and truly did. As he had told T'Lar, his logic when it came to his son was…uncertain. A far cry from his beliefs during Spock's childhood, he would be the first to admit.
Eight long hours later, as the sun was warming the air and burning off the morning mist, he stood outside the temple to await his son, to discover how much of the man before them was truly Spock, and how much was mere re-fused mental pathways, reconnected synapses. He attempted once more to thank James Kirk for retrieving Spock's body and soul for the reunification, even going so far as to quietly, gently, acknowledge the immense loss, the incredible cost this human had paid so dearly.
"Your ship, your son," he spoke with as much sympathy as he, a Vulcan, could muster into his voice.
The tired eyes looked back at him, determined and without regrets despite the grief still lying dormant within, despite being so weary after days of little or no sleep and food that Kirk was nearly out on his feet.
"If I hadn't tried, the cost would have been my soul." (6)
Not his son's, not Spock's soul – the human placed such regard on his son's life that he considered it more valuable than his own flesh and blood, his career, his beloved ship – and his own soul.
He had been a fool to ever believe otherwise, and for one very human moment he considered saying so. But then Spock began slowly descending the steps, and the rest of the world took secondary positions.
The Enterprise crew backed away from the two of them and, after only a moment's hesitation, he made his decision. He walked away, to stand with the healers, and permitted James Kirk this moment to stand alone, for he alone deserved the privilege to view what he had sacrificed so much for.
He was never so relieved in his life as he was when Spock remembered the human's name; it bespoke of ties that could not, even in death or soul-death, be broken.
After his son, overwhelmed and uncertain, was finally being led away to recover in his own home after an examination by qualified mental healers, he turned back to offer what comfort he could to the humans who had paid so dearly for this miracle. But he found that the captain's stamina and self-control had finally given out, and that he was silently weeping on the shoulder of a very shaky-looking Leonard McCoy, and that the rest of the man's crew had gathered protectively around the two as if to shield them from prying Vulcan eyes.
Kirk was in far better hands, and so he returned his attentions to his son, and prepared to give his distraught wife better news than she had had in many weeks.
The tenth time Ambassador Sarek encountered James T. Kirk, he could not have been more pleased.
He had met his son at Starfleet Headquarters, seeing Spock for the first time since he had left Vulcan weeks before, uncertain still of himself and his heritage and most of all, what part of the latter constituted the former. Then, he could see in his son's eyes – had seen from the moment the bedraggled crew were fished out of the San Francisco Bay – that he had come home, that he knew his place and his world and what constituted both.
Spock had been quiet the night before in the Vulcan Embassy, and when asked why, his simple response was that he felt he should be with his captain, and his crew, instead of safe and under peaceful custody among his people. The next day, Sarek had been proud – yes, for a moment, before the emotion was quashed and replaced in its proper controlled environment, and he rather thought he was entitled – when, to the murmured surprise of everyone around them, Spock had risen as those on trial entered and then slipped gracefully into place between Kirk and McCoy, as was his right.
Kirk had looked at him with fondness, but not surprise, only a regretful sad smile that Spock felt it necessary to join him and risk censure as well. Spock had stood with his crewmates through the hearing, through the sentencing, and was there to lend support when the admiral nearly fainted on the spot out of sheer stunned happiness when told he was being demoted to captain and his destined dream returned to him after such a price had been paid over the last few years.
Sarek had thanked Dr. McCoy again for his sacrifice, for he knew the healer had never quite gotten the recognition he so richly deserved, and was amused that the physician appeared terrified of him still, after all this. He then lingered behind until the hall had emptied, and approached his son one final time.
The exchange was…pleasant, and devoid of any friction or tension that had been present in years gone by. Amanda would be thrilled beyond measure at the scenes he was committing to detailed memory to share with her upon his return to Vulcan, and with that knowledge he could leave at peace and content.
He saw over Spock's shoulder that the demoted admiral had lingered behind, fidgeting silently well out of earshot to give them privacy, but not willing to leave without his newly-resurrected companion.
'Go to him, and to your friends," Sarek said simply, indicating the patient human. "It is your place, Spock."
"It is," was the serene agreement, and after a calm farewell his son turned and strode purposely toward his waiting friend. They shared a tiny smile, and walked from the courtroom in perfect synch, side by side.
Sarek would have liked to have seen the captain's face when he was shown his new command, but unfortunately he would be on Vulcan by that time before heading onward to a negotiation on one of the moons of Tellar.
And besides, Kirk did not need to know that Sarek had very delicately hinted before the tribunal pre-council that Vulcan and her membership status with the Federation might become slightly…strained, if Kirk were given any other vessel but the Enterprise-A.
(1) Spoilers: Amok Time
(2) Just to clarify: I'm not necessarily a T'Pring basher by any stretch. I think she's another misrepresented character in fanfiction, and my issues with her are far beyond the usual Spock-fangirl indignation. I simply don't see a race as logical as Vulcans not having some way to allow betrothals to be terminated if a more logical match is found for the partners; to continue into a marriage solely for the procreation of the species once every seven years is a ridiculous notion, nor is it conducive to successful parenting. There's no way there couldn't have been an alternative to the kal-if-fee, and that's what I have an issue with. Not T'Pring's refusal of Spock, but her public humiliation and refusal for the sake of his wealth.
(3) Spoilers: Journey to Babel, one of my top five favorite episodes
(4) And here I walk a fine line between the two divided camps of fandom. If you disagree with me, I hope you can just skip it and move on to the next ones because arguing your point isn't going to change my opinion. By way of brief explanation so that I don't have to go through the entire reasoning for this ficlet: as pertains to my fiction, I regard as canon what I see on-screen or in bookverse, whichever came first. For Sherlock Holmes, the bookverse is canon; movies and TV adaptations are not. For Trek, the shows and movies are canon. The novelizations are not.
In other words, I disagree with the novelization for TMP. If you've not read it, it says that Spock left for the kolinahr without saying goodbye to anyone or letting them know where he was going. I'm sorry, but I don't buy that. I see no evidence to suggest that in TMP itself, nor do I believe for an instant that he would be so heartless as to do so. That notion violates everything I see indicated on screen about Spock and his relationship (whatever you want to call it) with Kirk. I hate that most fic from this era is shrouded in angst and emo characterization and a dark, depressive atmosphere of despair. Do I believe something happened? Definitely. Do I believe Spock had a Vulcan mid-life crisis and freaked out, warping off to Vulcan to purge himself of all emotion without so much as a good-bye? Certainly not. It's my belief that he at least got Kirk's understanding about what he thought he had to do, if not his blessing. James Kirk has his faults, but I can't see him refusing to give Spock his acceptance if Spock said kolinahr was what he needed to find his own personal peace. I'm not buying it, and never will, and you can expect a oneshot from me at some point to further explain this.
There are many camps of opinion on the issue, though, and so if you reside in one of the others I'm not attacking you or anything – just explaining my reasoning for this ficlet and hoping you can enjoy it despite that. If not, please skip it, but please don't spend an hour trying to convince me why I'm wrong; just let me be blissful in my own ignorant opinion, okay? :)
(5) Again, I regard what I see as canon, and in the beginning of The Search for Spock I don't see Sarek as anything more than a grieving father – Vulcan or not. I don't think he at that moment cared a bit about Kirk's feelings regarding Spock's death; he was simply worried that his son's katra had disappeared for all of eternity. I see a change in the character between that man and the one who, at the end of the movie, is obviously hurting with Kirk over the sacrifice that had to be made through the movie's events.
(6) Oddly enough, this is an often-misquoted line from the movie TSFS. Most think Kirk says "the cost would have been his soul," but it is in reality "my soul." An interesting choice of wording, I think.
Thank you for reading, and I hope you didn't find it too far-fetched!