Spock thought he knew his father.
Over the course of his long life, Spock had often meditated on his father. Simply put, the man confused him. The harsh logic with which he treated son had always been an odd juxtaposition with the tenderness he displayed towards his wife Amanda and the understanding presented during the negotiations for which he was famous. An alien race that killed thousands was shown more empathy than his own son.
In his youth, Spock had thought his father's behavior a sign of his own inferiority, believing himself a disappointment to his father. By adulthood this had transformed into anger. Why should his own son be treated in such a manner when barbarous murderers were accorded empathy? Spock had analyzed his behavior both as a child and as an adult and could find no fault worthy of the continued hostility.
During the journey to the Babel conference, Spock had finally confronted his anger, and his feelings of inadequacy. By saving his father's live, Spock had been able to put to rest much of his inner turmoil. His duty towards his father was paid. He owned the man nothing. It was not Spock's fault if Sarek choose to continue in his illogical behavior - for Spock had concluded it was illogical. The minor truce that developed between them during their convalescence did little to dissipate the years of broken trust and tattered familiar bonds. Things improved, but Spock had never felt close to his father, not like he knew his human companions felt for their paternal parentals.
His mother, his poor human mother, had agonized over their rift during his youth. After Babel, Amanda had rejoiced that the two were speaking again and spent the remainder of her life pretending that the problem had been solved, that Spock forgave Sarek and that Sarek understood his son.
Spock had allowed the delusion, and with the aid of his father even cultivated it. It was the first act that father and son had undertaken together in decades. They would met for dinner, write to one another, have short conversations over stellar com. But it was surface deep and a part of Amanda always knew that. She knew they never melded. She knew they never shared the normal bond of father and son.
Their attempts to keep the human they both cared for happy led to other endeavors. Spock aided Sarek on a handful of difficult negations. Sarek assisted Spock with the Klingon treaty. They traded on each other's skills. It was a pragmatic arrangement that had more to do with complementary talents than familiar caring.
Saavik was the wedge that widened the relationship again. Sarek barely tolerated his son's guardianship of the child. He gave minor aid to Spock as he mentored her at the academy, more for appearance than anything else. And he sheltered the woman when she returned from Genus carrying his unborn grandson out of obligation. But he did not provide for her in her sorrow when the fetus failed to survive. He did not comfort her in her grief. When Saavik broke down in sobs in Amanda's arms, Sarek left the room. When Amanda brought the young woman back to their home from the hospital, Sarek hardly spoke to her other than to remind her she had chosen the Vulcan way and thus her behavior was illogical. The child's DNA was unstable and the tri-species mix was untenable and had only occured without medical intervention because of David Marcus' use of proto-matter.
Spock could not forgive his father this. Sarek had comforted Amanda through 13 miscarriages before Spock's birth. Could he not do the same for his son's woman? Was Saavik so much less than Amanda that she was not worthy even of his silence? He could not even hold his tongue to spare her? Saavik had left Vulcan more broken in spirit than Spock had ever seen. When he'd finally found out the truth, after Amanda had contacted him in fear for Saavik's sanity, he'd gone to her immediately. He would have married her then, but for Sarek. But for Sarek he would never have left her in the first place, memories or no.
Sarek refused to give the clan blessing to his son's choice. Amanda railed at him, but Sarek would not waver. Just as he had when Spock joined Star Fleet, he held his ground in opposition to his son's path. Saavik was clanless. She was also a hybrid. The chance of them having viable children even with medical intervention was slim. Sarek wished Spock to choose a Vulcan woman as wife. In this he stood firm.
Spock did not understand how Sarek of Vulcan could stand against his clan, his entire species, and chose a human wife. He could do this, but his son was not allowed a choice in his mate? Hypocrisy had never been something Spock could tolerate. Had it not been for Amanda's failing health, Spock would have once again turned his back on Vulcan.
When Amanda died, he did just that. With Saavik by his side he began the work of Reunification. When word came that Sarek was to remarry - a human - Spock felt the first stirrings of true hate.
Saavik had calmed him. Saavik had made him see that his father could never bond with a Vuclan, not after being linked to a human for so many years. He would require the feeling of human emotions, he would not know how to manage a purely Vulcan bond.
Not long after Spock married her in direct violation of his father's orders. Saavik deserved a public acknowledgment. She deserved his devotion. She deserved his love, however human the emotion. Spock would not be the hypocrite his father was. His wife knew he loved her. His mother knew before she passed. And when his son was born, healthy, it was the first words that were whispered into his ear. Spock would not be his father's son.
Spock thought he knew his father.
He knew Sarek was dead. The diplomate in him grieved for the great loss to the Federation. The Vulcan in him grieved for the loss to Vulcan. The solider grieved for the lives that would be lost because there was no one capable of stopping the next war. The son in him...could not grieve. The son was still angry. The son...still did not feel wanted.
When the meld with Picard took hold, Spock knew he'd misjudged. His father had loved. His father had been proud. His father...had missed him.
Spock thought he knew his father. But it wasn't until it was too late that Spock learned how much they had in common. It wasn't until it was too late that Spock knew they'd both had the same regrets. It wasn't until it was too late that Spock knew what he did not know.