Spock had few happy memories of his childhood. The ones he did have were almost all connected to his mother and retrained a sort of bittersweet quality. The more he saw of the universe, the more he realized what he had missed and how hard she had worked to give him a glimpse of what was possible. When he sat down to catalogue these brief moments, in an attempt to learn how to recreate them for another, he realized for the first time how much they had shaped who he was. They stood out in his memory like lit candles in a darkened room.

There was the time she made a fort out of seating cushions and some fabric in the living room. They'd pretended to be cave explorers and pirates and a hundred other things that afternoon, all within the billowing walls of their make-believe palace. Then his father had come home and softly ordered Amanda to never repeat such foolishness and systematically demolished their oasis.

The first thing Spock did after his promotion on the Enterprise was to cover his standard issue walls with great draping trails of fabric simply because he could.

Then there was the time she'd taken him to Earth to visit her family and he'd gotten lost in the woods outside his cousin's house. He'd been missing for hours but the shear wonder of the green, moist, exotic wonderland had captivated both the child and the scientist inside him. His mother had found him half way up a tree trying to see what was in the nest he'd barley been able to spot in the pale light that filtered through the leaves. Rather than take him back, she'd climbed up next to him and helped him figure out what kind of creature had left it. After calling back to the house to let them know they were alright, Amanda had taken his small hand and lead him through the underbrush pointing out animal tracks and edible plants and strange insects until it grew too dark for either of their eyesight's. Spock had shivered in the chill darkness and when they'd emerged from the forest to find themselves several blocks from the home they were staying in, Amanda had laughed with glee and spun around a lamp post for no reason other than the joy of it. Her golden hair had been loose for the first time in Spock's life and he watched in awe as the shadows weaved through the strands as his mother carelessly frolicked on the public sidewalk, headless of the leaves in her hair or how strange her behavior might seem to anyone out late enough to witness it. On Vulcan Amanda was reserved. In the forest she was the elfin creature out of her storybooks, and for a moment Spock thought his ears misplaced.

In adulthood, whenever someone would comment on the alienness of his ears, Spock could only recall how perfect they would have looked on her, in the lamp light, as his mother danced.

There was the time when he failed in his control and struck another student that had been trying for weeks to push him past his endurance. Sarek had retrieved him from the school and his criticisms had been sharper than the bite of the other boy's fist. Amanda had waited until Sarek was deep in his meditations to take Spock aside and explain the first rule of little human boys. 'You never start a fight, Spock, but by damn you finish it. Next time hit him harder. I don't care what your father says, you're my son too.' And she'd hugged him.

At Starfleet Academy some of the other cadets tried to best him in physical combat to prove he wasn't worthy. He never started a fight but he always ended them and soon they left him alone.

There was the time he'd gotten perfect scores on every one of the tests his instructors set before him only to discover they had mistakenly switched the data file meant for his terminal with one of the older boy's. He'd been working on material three years ahead of his classmates and managed perfect scores, and in the allotted time. He'd been reading ahead, he knew, but would never have expected such a result. Sarek was pleased for once but Amanda had baked him a cake. She'd put green frosting on it and spelled his name out in white letters on the top and marked it with an A+. She told him it was how human children were graded and it was the highest mark. Her mother had always given her a cake when she got top marks so she'd baked him one out of tradition. Sarek's mouth had turned down in disapproval but Spock and Amanda had sat down an eaten the entire cake spoiling their dinner.

When Chris Pike gave him a perfect score on his first annual review as an officer, Spock retrieved an iced cupcake from the mess and carefully carved his name into the peaks before eating it the quiet of his quarters.

These few moments, these special eternal moments, were what Spock drew on in the darkest of situations. They were warmth in the cold, solace during the unbearable, his secret hidden place where he was always accepted, always loved, and always allowed to be himself. They were too few and too far apart and Spock knew that the others, Jim, the Doctor, Mr. Scott, Lt. Uhura - each member of the Enterprise had their own special collections of moments and that in all likelihood Spock had the fewest.

The wild child in front of him would have even less to think back on when life became difficult. Saavik's childhood had been harsher and more bitter than Spock could imagine. But she'd come so far and Spock knew he had to do something to give her a glimpse of the possible.

Saavik stared at the pale blue cake in confusion, the single candle on top flickering in the small draft from the open window. "What is it?" she asked softly, leaning forward to get a closer look at the stellar pattern made out of gold sprinkles on the top.

Spock reached out to carefully brush a stray hair back behind her ear before it could fall into the icing. "It is a birthday cake. My mother always had one. Since we do not know when your birthday is, I thought we would celebrate your first year as my ward."

Saavik looked up in confusion. "But your mother is human."

"Good ideas, Saavik, are not species dependent. I find that often, when it comes to the pleasant things in life, my mother's ideas are...superior."