The Judgment of Solomon
Nothing pleased Sarek more on returning home than to hear his human wife's voice raised in song. He was well aware that from the standpoint of Vulcan control this scenario was heretical in nature. Both for her behavior as wife to a Vulcan, and for him as a Vulcan to take such pleasure from it.
But in spite of all his professed Vulcan philosophies, he would have found it hard to deny himself that private indulgence. He was no monkish acolyte of Kohlinahr, to reject all emotional experience. Provided he maintained all external controls, his enjoyment was well within his prerogatives as a mature Vulcan.
And his wife was Human.
And Vulcans did sing – as accompaniment to musical performances, to relate historical ballads and such. Though to sing for personal enjoyment, for sheer emotional pleasure, or to express joy was not an accepted Vulcan mode of conduct. In fact, it was so completely pre-Reform, that it could be considered provocative.
Though he knew Amanda didn't sing with the intention of seducing him. She simply sang. She sang when she was happy. She sang when she was soothing their infant son to sleep, when he was fractious from cutting teeth or some other malady. She sang when she was doing tedious chores. And she sang to entertain herself, her husband, and sometimes their son. This was particularly obvious now given what she was singing, not a ballad of love but some childish nonsense rhyme about a spider climbing a water spout.
Amanda had begun singing to his son even before his birth. Sarek did not think that Spock had previously taken any particular guidance from his mother's behavior, at least to Sarek's knowledge. To put a fine point on it, Spock had not emulated her in this regard. Though it was also true that for his first two years their son had not been terribly verbal. But this time, Sarek was suddenly aware that their son Spock, now two and a half standard years of age, although otherwise absorbed in an educational logic puzzle spread out around him on the floor, was singing along with his mother.
Amanda broke off her song when she saw her husband, her eyes filled with a joy that still astonished Sarek with its emotional intensity, even after several years of marriage. And warmed him again, in spite of all his Vulcan controls.
"You're home!" she always exclaimed with delight, as if it was only due to some miracle that he could navigate an aircar across the desert sands from Shikhar's Council Keep buildings to their Fortress home.
She flung her arms around him in a hug and kiss. Sarek stiffened a bit shooting a glance at his child. Recently, as Spock began reaching an age where he would notice and discriminate such behavior, he had become more concerned about he and Amanda setting proper role models for their child.
But Spock was still absorbed in his puzzle, still absently singing to himself, mesmerized in his contemplations in spite of Amanda's breaking off her song and her exclamation of delight. Their son was fortunately totally oblivious to their unVulcan behavior.
"As you can see," Sarek said, withdrawing from her embrace and offering her the two fingered touch of bondmates, with a pointed glance at their son.
Amanda accepted this change of embrace with a shrug of her shoulders to indicate she wasn't going to argue, but a rolling of her eyes to express her opinion of such stuffiness.
"Spock, hello, wake up, your father is home!" she said instead.
I-Chiya rose first from where he had been napping nearby, wuffed, and greeted Sarek gravely. Amanda watched as Sarek's hand absently brushed the huge head, carding through the thick fur. She raised a brow of her own.
"Tell me, my dear husband, why your sehlat is allowed more outward expressions of affection in public than your wife?"
Sarek gave her a repressive look and dropped his hand.
I-Chiya gave a throaty exhalation that made it pretty clear that as far as he was concerned, this was only natural. He had been first in Sarek's childish heart, and the empathic sehlat knew it. While he tolerated her as a necessity in Sarek's adult life, and was even fond of her in as much as anything his beloved master was fond of he would embrace as well, he didn't plan to give up his long favored position to some mere human upstart. He turned his broad back on her, to express that.
"I-Chiya, you are rude! Sarek, are you going to stand for that from him?"
Sarek drew up, disinclined to get in the middle of such conflicts. "I-Chiya is a sehlat, Amanda. One must make allowances for differences in species."
"I would accept that," she argued, "except that on Vulcan, I seem to be the one making all the compromises."
I-Chiya roared in confirmation of this appropriateness.
"Oh, get along, you walking carpet. You're off duty." Amanda said, in acknowledgement that with Sarek's return, I-Chiya always considered that the third child care shift had arrived. With a measuring look to Amanda that she had no trouble interpreting, I-Chiya headed off to her garden. She set her teeth, knowing exactly what he intended. But there was no use fighting that problem now. Later she'd talk to Sarek about sehlat-proofing the garden beds she wanted to preserve. If her husband would even tolerate any restrictions on his beloved pet.
"I don't understand why I play second lyre to a sehlat in this house." Amanda complained.
"Your statement is illogical, my wife," Sarek said, taking refuge in literalness. "I-Chiya does not play the Vulcan lyre."
"You do that deliberately," Amanda accused. "I know you understand exactly what I mean. I'm your wife, not some diplomat you are using Vulcan tricks to verbally fence with."
"We'll discuss it later," Sarek said.
Spock raised his head as I-Chiya lumbered past him, shook himself out of his logical reverie, belatedly noticed his father, and totally akin to his mother's behavior, flung himself across the room toward him.
The embrace which Sarek would have accepted and returned in Spock's infancy he was now steering Spock away from. Sarek set his son back on his feet, exchanged the proper parental embrace, and distracted him further from the emotional encounter by taking him over to review his puzzle.
"That is excellent progress, my son," he said, his voice revealing a trace of astonishment.
"He's been working on it most of the afternoon," Amanda said, watching them with no little amusement.
"The child has it nearly solved." Sarek said. He had thought it would take him months. And that he would need considerable assistance to do so.
"Well, what did you expect?" Amanda asked complacently. "He's brilliant, like his father. Like both his parents, if I do say so myself."
Sarek glanced at her, realizing she didn't understand the significance of Spock's abilities. But he had no chance to reply, for Spock cut in.
"I like it," Spock pronounced. "It is fascinating," he added, using his favorite English word, while his mother rolled his eyes. And then, as attracted to his puzzle as iron filings to a magnet, Spock dropped down to the floor, on his stomach, ankles crossed over his back, totally absorbed again. Except that he was absently singing that same nonsense song.
"I wished he'd never heard me say that word." Amanda said, turning away, sotto voice, as if word choice rather than Spock's singing were more of an issue. "The first time it was precocious. Even the second time it was cute. But now, suddenly everything is "faaaaaassssscinating". His storybooks are fascinating. The way Eridani moves in the sky is fascinating. That the water swirls in the tub in a circle before it goes down the drain is fascinating. I thought his Whys alone were going to drive me crazy. I didn't know what I was being saved from. Now every "why" for the last two weeks has been followed by a 'fascinating'. I confess that, as much as I love my own child, I am no longer fascinated by his use of 'fascinating'. In fact, it has become a colossal bore."
"Did you suggest another word, as I recommended?" With a lingering glance over his shoulder at their son's progress on his puzzle, Sarek followed her.
"Indeed I have. I have worn out a thesaurus suggesting other words. Scintillating. Enlightening. Enthralling. He picks them all up like a computerized dictionary. We don't have to worry about his linguistic abilities." Amanda gave him a significant look.
She was referring to their fears of a year ago when Spock, confused by the enormous differences in sound and syntax between Vulcanur and the English his mother couldn't help speaking, had suffered a language acquisition delay. But then, while his worried parents had just begun a process of consulting healers and development specialists, Spock had mentally integrated the two languages in his mind. Without any help from educational experts he had suddenly begun talking a blue streak, going from bare one word utterances to complete, and even complex, sentences. And then, with the dam broken, he hadn't shut up since.
"He has even said 'logical', to borrow his father's favorite word. I'm sure you don't mind that."
"I do not."
"But he prefers 'fascinating'" Amanda concluded. "I think he likes the sound of it. He is, dare I say it, fascinated by 'fascinating'. You would think, with the combined lexicon of English and Vulcan available to him, he wouldn't settle so firmly on just one word to convey his ultimate approbation.
"I am sure he will soon diversify his comments."
Oh, well," she said, regarding her son with exasperated fondness. "It's only another fifteen years or so, and then I dare say he'll be out of the house most of the time. Or I'll go deaf in my old age and be spared it."
"But now he is singing," Sarek mused, returning to his first concern. "I hear that quite clearly."
"Have you never heard him sing before?"Amanda asked, oblivious to the implications. "He sings very well. Perfect pitch. Well, why not?" Amanda abandoned him to go back to her dinner preparations. "He has your hearing. We know that from having him tested, when we were so worried about his speech. And no doubt all your musical abilities. Our combined musical abilities. Why shouldn't he sing well?"
Sarek turned from his contemplation of Spock's puzzle solving to stare at his wife, visibly shocked at the heretical inference that Spock, that any Vulcan, should sing.
But she was as oblivious to the ramifications of her rhetorical question as Spock was, still singing softly as he worked on his logical puzzle.
"Fasssssscinating," Spock said, drawing Sarek's attention back to him. "I have finished it."
Sarek turned back to have his shock compounded by the realization that Spock had indeed solved it. A puzzle somewhat beyond what Sarek had thought of as his abilities. He had thought to have to help him with it in the evenings, and even then, had thought it would take them some weeks or even months to do.
"Brilliant, darling," Amanda said, coming over to give it a glance, and her son a pat on the shoulder, no more surprised at this than she was, at least any longer, at her son's ability to lightening calculate, or see shades well into the infrared, or any other of a myriad of Vulcan propensities.
It came to Sarek that she was as ignorant of when Spock was performing above Vulcan abilities as she would be if he were deficient. To her they were all of a piece. He had not realized that.
"Put your puzzle away now, and then wash up for dinner."
Spock went off, pleased with himself but as unperturbed as his mother at his abilities. As he left, Sarek heard him take up again the sing-song tune about the spider.
Sarek met his wife's eyes, not sure how to communicate either his amazement or his concern.
"What?" Amanda asked, seeing the look on her husband's face. Sarek checked his own annoyance at the fact that he had lost countenance and failed control. "It's not like I told him to wash with water, or anything unVulcan like that."
Sarek caught his breath at such obliviousness, realizing Amanda could not be expected to know what caused his astonishment. He didn't answer, concentrating on forcing his own reactions back to some semblance of Vulcan discipline. He needed time to consider this carefully.
After dinner, when Amanda took their son off to bed, Sarek took the puzzle pieces out of their container to reanalyze the logical skills necessary to solve it. He was staring at them fixedly, trying to reconcile the requirements to their son's astonishing ability when Amanda came in.
"Having trouble dear?" She asked, patting his shoulder kindly. "You can always ask your son to help you."
To be continued….