A look into an episode in Spock's early childhood based on this Sarek and Amanda Yahoo Group prompt excerpted from In My Dreams by Saidicam. (Visit the TrekTales Web site for the story.)
Spock's keen Vulcan hearing picked up snatches of their conversation. He did not intend to eavesdrop, but when he heard his own name, he couldn't help but tune in their words. The message was somewhat garbled.
"When Spock... in the yard... buck naked... Sarek trying to catch him... little green tushy... neighbors were... Sarek tried to...Spock thinking it was a game...got camera..."
"I'd *loved* to have seen that," Christine said.
"Might just have a holopic with me..." his mother's voice replied.
Amanda lifted her dripping son out of the basin and sat him down on a towel, drying him off before rubbing his skin with a children's ointment to keep it from drying out. Without looking, she reached for the ointment's customary spot. When her hand made contact with air instead of solid matter, she remembered that she left the bottle in Spock's room the previous night.
"Spock," she said, wrapping him in the towel to keep him from becoming chilled, even in Vulcan's hotter temperature, "I have to get your lotion. Stay here. Don't move. Do you understand?"
Her son's big brown eyes widened. "Stay!" he affirmed.
"Good, I'll be right back." With Spock in a stable sitting position on the sanitation stool, she hurried out the door as quickly as Vulcan decorum allowed a high-ranking ambassador's wife to hurry to anything.
Spock waited patiently for as long as his toddler's attention span would allow, but when his mother had not returned within that fleeting timeframe, boredom set in, and Spock lifted himself off the stool and slid to the floor. The activation knobs on the sanitation station caught his attention, and he reached over to activate them, just as he had seen his parents do many times. His finger neared one button.
Spock leapt back, startled, but then smiled. It was only I-Chaya, the faithful family sehlat who served as sentry over his younger master. As he had lumbered by in the hallway, the animal would have passed the door except that there was Spock, by himself. I-Chaya huffed quizzically.
Instinct told the experienced creature that something was amiss. Younger Master was never left alone. Younger Master should be led to She-Who-Was-Mistress or He-Who-Was-Elder-Master. I-Chaya proceeded to perform his duties as centuries of ingrained behaviors through selective breeding demanded he do. At this moment, herding Young Master to Mistress and Elder Master became his sole purpose.
I-Chaya entered the small bathing chamber and nuzzled Spock. Spock giggled, but refused to move, still fascinated with the sanitation station controls. Spock reached out again, his little hand closing in on the temptations that blinked enticingly, beckoning the curious child to push, just to watch what would happen.
I-Chaya had to get Young Master's attention—now!
Quickly, but with more gentleness than a being of I-Chaya's size and configuration should have been able to muster, the sehlat secured Spock's towel in his teeth and pulled.
The whoosh of cooler air on the toddler's moist and now-exposed body caught the boy's attention at once, but so did the towel in I-Chaya's teeth. Spock squealed in delight. I-Chaya wanted to play! The Vulcan child turned as quickly as his stubby toddler legs would allow and made a mad dash toward I-Chaya and the prize the animal held in his mouth.
I-Chaya barely dodged the onslaught of Spock's enthusiasm. Now he was not sure what to do except lead the child to one of the elders. He turned on one of his hind paws and bounded out the door and into the hallway, the squealing child following closely behind. The quicker I-Chaya moved, the faster Spock pursued him. Somewhere between the bathroom and Sarek's office, with the unfamiliar laughing and other vocalizations rarely heard in a Vulcan household close behind him, selective breeding disappeared as I-Chaya's fight-or-flight instincts kicked in.
Fighting Young Master was bad. Flight was the only option open to any loyal sehlat in I-Chaya's circumstances, so flee I-Chaya did, growling all the way, right past Sarek's office, out the low sehlat door, and out into the front courtyard.
As Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan concentrated on the intricacies of his latest draft of a trade treaty proposal with the Andorians, few things could have pulled his mind from his work. He was debating the use of a particular word when the approaching hallway commotion seized his attention. He looked up in time to see a white cloth attached to a growling ball of fur wave its way by. He had not surmised the nature of this phenomenon before the blur of a small squealing boy—a small, squealing, unclothed boy—streaked by as well. The higher pitch of his son's voice yelling "'Taya! 'Taya! 'Taya!" reverberated down the hallway.
"Spock?" his wife's panicked voice echoed from elsewhere in the house. "Spock? Where are you? Spock!"
Demoting the Andorian treaty on his list of priorities, Sarek jumped to his feet instantly, rounded his desk, and charged into the hallway.
Unfortunately, the ambassador charged out of his office only to occupy the same set of coordinates that his wife was using at that moment, and the two collided.
"Sarek!" Amanda yelped, trying to stop.
Sarek immediately rolled to the side to lessen the force against his wife, but both landed in a heap right outside Sarek's office anyway.
In the meantime, their precious bundle of joy gleefully left them behind, following the family pet outside in pursuit of his prize.
"Sarek, Spock has—"
"Yes, Amanda, we shall attend to it," Sarek replied in forced Vulcan calmness. "Let us retrieve our…son." He got up, pulled Amanda to her feet, and the pair hurried out the front door.
The front courtyard of any Vulcan home, especially one belonging to a clan as old and esteemed as the Clan S'chn T'gai, set the tenor of any interaction between those who called and those who occupied the estate. Heavy columns stalwartly anchored a stately portico, which loomed over and shaded the wide stairs and receiving platform before the home's grand entryway. A fountain in front bade their guests welcome with the cooling water prized among all desert peoples. In the gardens framing each side of the courtyard, calming trickles from smaller water features kept the flora well-hydrated. The carefully arranged and tended plants and boulders created pleasing patterns to also set one's mind at ease.
Pausing at the front gate, T'Nafa and Stonek, the elderly pair who resided next door, noted the new bloom on one of Lady Amanda's intriguing Terran cacti. There was always something interesting to behold at the S'chn T'gai home, thanks, in part, to Lady Amanda's efforts in adapting Terran flora to Vulcan conditions. As many of the Terran plants had proven interesting to T'Nafa, an avid gardener herself, the old woman had found an affinity with Sarek's Terran wife. The two often exchanged advice and knowledge over the stone wall that separated their properties as they tended their gardens.
The elder pair had just stopped to examine the bloom in greater detail when through the small door to the left of the main entry, the S'chn T'gai sehlat burst out onto the entry plaza, then bounded down the three short steps into the courtyard where he stopped suddenly. He growled. He stomped in place, agitated. He carried a white cloth.
As if this were not confusing enough, through the same sehlat door emerged Sarek and Amanda's son, who obviously had graduated from crawling to running recently. However, the child seemed unaware that he was missing his clothing.
"'Taya!" the child called to his pet.
The creature moved warily away, taking a position behind the fountain, keeping it carefully between himself and his pursuer.
Two sets of eyebrows rose as T'Nafa and Stonek glanced at one another. Well, this was more intriguing than even Lady Amanda's rare bloom. Besides, logically, they needed to ensure that the child came to no harm, and so they remained. Monitoring such a situation was the duty of any elder.
Spock had not mastered descending stairs, even low ones, at a speed that would satisfy his impatience. But that did not matter—he simply took an incline from the platform through the terrain where Lady Amanda had planted hardy varieties of asteraceae from her homeworld. The child maneuvered his body between the plants with moderate success until he reached the courtyard outside the portico.
"Greetings T'Sai T'Nafa, Sai Stonek…peace and prosperity," a male voice intoned from behind.
T'Nafa and Stonek turned. Paying proper respect to their elder neighbors were T'Oara and Salen, the newly bonded couple who resided on the other side of the street. T'Oara was wearing fuller robes these days. The couple was expecting their first child during the next season. Salen carried the bag of fresh produce they had just procured from the market.
T'Nafa and Stonek nodded in return. T'Oara and Salen were proving to be agreeable neighbors. "May peace and prosperity also be yours," said Stonek.
All four turned their attention to the drama unfolding before them as the sehlat pointedly eluded the determined boy. Fortunately the fountain walls were too high or else the boy might have taken a more direct route though the water to the other side.
"All is well with the Clan S'chn T'gai?" T'Oara asked, now intrigued by the scene before her.
One of the elder woman's eyebrows rose. "We were in the process of ascertaining the situation," T'Nafa answered, her inflections indicating a measure of amusement.
Finally one of the big double doors opened, revealing the boy's father and mother. Sarek stepped out, scanning the portico and courtyard for his wayward pet and progeny. He did not have to look long. The pet, more agitated than Sarek had ever seen him, warily eyed the progeny stalking him from the opposite side of the fountain. Every time Spock took a step in either direction, I'Chaya took as measured a corresponding step to retain the maximum distance.
"Spock!" Amanda called to him, walking down the steps to regain custody of her child.
Spock looked up at her, his big, brown eyes rounding out in surprise. He pointed toward his pet. "'Taya…," he said plaintively.
"Yes, Spock, I-Chaya has your towel. We will get it back. Come here now." But as she reached for him, Spock took off running again, stubbornly determined to get his towel back himself.
I-Chaya, meanwhile, took advantage of the momentary diversion. He ran away from the fountain and toward the refuge of a row of bushes at the edge of the yard. I-Chaya's retreating tail beckoned the youngster, who took off toward the bushes himself.
"Spock! Come back!" Amanda called, then turned to her husband. "Sarek!"
Sarek considered running to the hedgerow himself, but then 12.2 Standard seconds later, I-Chaya reemerged from under a bush at the far edge of the row and ran back into the courtyard, up the steps, and behind his elder master. The animal was breathing heavily—the old sehlat was not used to the strenuous activity. The three of them waited for Spock to follow, but seconds went by without an appearance by the errant child.
"Sarek?" said Amanda.
Sarek felt her growing concern through their bond. He, himself, was perplexed as to why his son had not returned by now. "Yes, Amanda…I-Chaya," he addressed the now-calmer animal, "go get Spock."
The animal looked up in disbelief.
"Retrieve Spock," Sarek urged, patting the animal on the rump.
I-Chaya let out a wistful sigh, then reluctantly did as he was bade, lumbering toward the bushes with Sarek following a few paces behind.
"I will see to Spock," Sarek said. "Perhaps a clean towel is in order?"
Amanda nodded, returning to the house to replace the cloth I-Chaya carried, the one now drenched in sehlat drool.
T'Nafa, Stonek, T'Oara, and Salen, from their vantage at the front gate, continued to watch. What would happen next?
I-Chaya approached the bushes where he has last emerged. When he got within three meters, a blur of pale baby skin and an enthusiastic "'Taya!" greeted him as the youngster flung himself into the big beast's shoulder, then held on in a big hug.
The interested neighbors nodded to each other. Ah, the young boy had been found. Now they could all resume their walks home, except…
Except, as Sarek leaned down to pick up his son, his son eluded his grip, grabbed the towel that I-Chaya still held in his mouth, and pulled.
Young Master wanted to play now. I-Chaya held on, his large neck feeling no strain from the child's pulling.
As if by mutual agreement, the four onlookers remained standing in their places. Clearly this event had not run its course.
"'Taya, play!" Spock commanded.
Never let it be said that the S'chn T'gai sehlat did not serve his masters well. Gently, I-Chaya pulled once, accompanying his efforts with a small grunt.
Spock pulled back, changing his angle. "More!"
For the irrepressible tot's father, this had gone on long enough. "I-Chaya, sit," Sarek commanded.
The large furry animal grunted, then slowly, but obediently lowered his lower end.
Amanda had returned with a towel and a robe. Disturbing to Sarek, she had also returned with a camera. Quickly she captured an image before joining her family.
"Spock, let's get you dressed," she said, coming to Sarek's side.
Spock had not finished, however. "'Taya!" he called, tugging at the towel again.
I-Chaya half-heartedly tugged back, looking up at Sarek, confused. What was he supposed to do?
"Cease," Sarek reiterated.
"'Taya!" Spock tugged again. "More!"
The confused animal had reached his limit. Younger Master wanted him to engage. Elder Master wanted him to stop. Which should he obey? In defeat, he stood for Younger Master, but let go of the towel to obey Elder Master, sending Spock flying backward with his next tug.
Sarek thought that should have ended this episode right there. However he had not factored in his son's inordinately strong determination, for Spock scrambled up, the towel firmly clenched in his hand, and announced: "Mine!"
"Yes, Spock, the towel is yours," Amanda acknowledged. The corners of her mouth turned upward; though, in deference to Sarek's sensibilities, she tried to emulate a calm Vulcan mother.
Sarek noticed the small crowd outside his courtyard gate. "Come, my son." He walked the few steps toward his son and began to bend over to pick him up.
Spock, however, was not about to let anyone take away his hard-won prize, even his own father. He, too, noticed the foursome outside the gate and took off toward them, holding up his prize. "Mine!"
T'Nafa and T'Oara exchanged interested glances. Salen observed. Stonek nodded. "Indeed," the elder responded to the child's pronouncement.
Sarek, meanwhile, had stood back up. With new determination, he strode toward his overly energetic son, who now gleefully took off running between and underneath Amanda's smooth-barked bushes, somehow avoiding the spiny ones with an older child's agility. Sarek noted this advanced marker in Spock's development, pleased with it, but also displeased that it made capturing the child more difficult for him.
"Spock, this is unacceptable," Sarek warned in his stern father's voice.
Normally this would have stopped Spock, but right now, the child's focus on retaining his prize took every last segment of his attention span.
"Spock." With the neighbors watching, it would not be proper for Sarek to raise his voice beyond a certain level, much as he considered it. "Spock, return. Immediately."
Unfortunately for Sarek, his single-minded son had retreated to his refuge under the bushes. "'Taya, come!" he insisted.
The sehlat made no move from his place in the courtyard. In fact, it looked like the old animal had suddenly gone deaf.
Sarek, the master of his home, faced a rebellion. His son, who refused to part with a soiled cloth, remained out of his reach. His sehlat, who had been a loyal companion since childhood, had ceased to function. His wife, who should have been aiding him in extracting their son, chose to record this dubious event for posterity instead, smugly clicking images. "This will work itself out," she whispered patiently. "He won't stay there forever."
Growing impatient nonetheless, Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan called upon all his disciplines to contain his expression into careful neutrality. It would not do to have the neighbors witness a lapse of control.
As a father of four, grandfather of ten, and great-grandfather of fifteen, Stonek understood the challenges of child-rearing. Through their bond, he sent a silent message to T'Nafa, who nodded to her husband in assent. Yes, she said through their bond, it is correct to assist him, Husband…
"Sarek," he called quietly. "I have experience in such matters. May I assist?"
One did not refuse assistance from an elder, and Sarek acquiesced, walking over to open the gate. "Your counsel would be welcome, Elder."
Stonek calmly strode into the courtyard followed by his wife and neighbors. He looked at Salen and T'Oara's bag of produce. "Ah, you have puni," he said. "Might I have one?"
Salen reached in and pulled out an oblong purple, palm-sized fruit. "Yes, Elder. Are you hungry?"
"Yes, but it is not for me," Stonek replied, a slight amusement crossing his features. "The child's attention requires redirection. You will be a father soon. Observe."
The elder neighbor stepped into the center of the courtyard as the others watched. "I-Chaya," he addressed the S'chn T'gai pet quietly. "I-Chaya, here is puni. Do you want puni?"
The animal's ears pricked up in interest, but the old sehlat knew better than to go to an outsider without permission. I-Chaya looked up at Sarek.
"Go, I-Chaya," Sarek said, curious about what Elder Stonek would do next.
From under the bushes, Spock also watched.
Stonek tore the fruit in half. When I-Chaya approached closely enough, Stonek tossed one half into the air, which I-Chaya eagerly caught and chewed. With one swallow, I-Chaya looked longingly at the other half.
Stonek turned toward the bushes. "Spock, you should feed I-Chaya this puni. He is hungry. It is your honor and duty to attend to his care."
Honor? Duty? These words caught Spock's attention. Yes, I-Chaya was his respon…reponsi…re…well, it pleased Mother and Father when he did the correct thing. He peeked out from the bushes.
"Come, Young One," Stonek urged gently.
Still carrying his prize towel, Spock emerged, his eyes now on the fruit. He stepped to Stonek's side, then stood and looked up respectfully to await instruction.
Stonek nodded in approval. The child exhibited a measure of discipline. Good.
Amanda stepped forward. "Here, Spock, let me put this on you, and then you can feed I-Chaya, as is proper."
Spock, still mesmerized by the fruit, dropped the drool-soaked, dirty towel and let his mother wipe him down with her clean towel, then quickly slip the robe over his head.
"There," she said. "Now listen to Elder Stonek."
Stonek stooped down to Spock's eye level. He extended one weather-worn, wrinkled arm, palm up. "Hold your hand in this manner," he said.
Spock did as he was told, and Stonek placed the other puni half on Spock's open palm.
"Tell I-Chaya to come to you, and offer this to him. Be gentle. He will take it with his tongue."
Spock, now focused on this new mission, did as he was told. "'Taya…," he called.
With Young Master, Elder Master, and Mistress now in a calmer state, I-Chaya could relax as well. He slowly approached Young Master, stopped, and gently slurped the offered fruit from Young Master's hand.
Spock wiped the sehlat slobber on his robe and looked up at Stonek with satisfaction. Stonek tilted his head, and an eyebrow rose into his gray hair as he stood back up.
"Spock has an unusual degree of focus for one his age," Stonek said. "Quite advanced."
Sarek did not know if that was positive or negative in Stonek's estimation. "Indeed?"
Amanda took it as a compliment, though she knew that Vulcans rarely gave them. "Your wisdom in redirecting our son's focus is most appreciated, Elder," she said.
"A useful technique in such situations," T'Nafa commented. "It was often necessary for one of our sons. However, his management of focus improved with training and age, as Spock's will." She looked toward Salen and T'Oara. "Perhaps you also will find this technique of use—five seasons from now."
T'Oara looked shyly down at her growing midsection. Yes, her and Salen's new child would be Spock's age in five seasons. She returned her attention to the older woman. "Your tutelage in such matters honors us," she said lightly. "We can benefit from your knowledge."
"As we have," Amanda added, bowing slightly with the proper humility. As she straightened, she looked around. Where had Spock gone?
Locating him took only seconds. In the shade of the portico, I-Chaya had resettled, lying down against a cool pillar to recover from his ordeal. Nestled in I-Chaya's fur lay Spock, now napping, clutching his drool-soaked prize.
Amanda nodded to her neighbors before walking over. She took one last picture, patted I-Chaya on the head, and lifted her son to bring him inside.
As he thanked his neighbors and showed them out the gate, Sarek wondered what other guidance he would need from Elders Stonek and T'Nafa. After all, his son Spock did exhibit a great degree of focus—and a most particular determination, indeed.
DISCLAIMER: For entertainment purposes only. I do not own a stake in any of the Star Trek properties, therefore I do not profit (nor would I attempt to profit) from this or any of my unlicensed Star Trek-based works. In fact, let me encourage everyone to continue purchasing the movies and licensed materials through legal channels to help keep this franchise profitable!
No sehlats were harmed in the writing of this fluff.