Parallels and Divergences
'Rene and Georgette Magritte with their dog after the war
Were strolling down Christopher Street when they stopped in a men's store
With all of the mannequins dressed in a style that brought tears to their immigrant eyes.
Just like the Penguins, the Moonglows, the Orioles, The Five Satins
The easy stream of laughter flowing through the air
Rene and Georgette Magritte with their dog après le guerre.'
- Paul Simon
"So I understand he's going to make an honest woman of you?" James T. Kirk asked conversationally as Uhura came over to the chessboard in the Officer's Lounge where he and Spock were engaged in a game.
"Lt. Uhura has always been exceptionally honest," Spock protested with a slight frown. "It is not required of me to-"
"Oh, for crying out loud," Kirk tugged at his hair with both hands and turned to Uhura. "Look are you really sure you want to do this?" he asked her. "Cause I can - zip - get you out of it like that," he snapped his fingers, "no problem. One subspace call, and I'll have him transferred to the Bradley. They still want him." He gave Spock a chary look. "Though for the life of me, I can't figure out why."
Spock's brows rose in wild surmise at this.
"No, thank you, Captain," Uhura said demurely. "I want him. And I saw him first."
"Well, I guess I want him too at that," Kirk admitted, regarding his First Officer with critical evaluating eyes. "On the bridge that is. Just so long as you're sure what you're getting into."
"Captain," Spock warned.
"But see if you can work on those communication skills of his," Kirk asked Uhura.
"Oh, I don't know," Uhura said with a smile. "Most of the time, we manage to communicate rather well." She leaned back against Spock and smiled at Kirk meaningfully.
"Whoa. Way too much information," Kirk said, holding up both hands before him. "Mixed company here."
A yeoman came with a netpad. "A message for you, sir," she handed it to Spock. "From New Vulcan."
Spock took the clipboard.
"Guess Dad's coming to the wedding, too, huh?" Kirk asked, nodding at the netpad. He turned to Nyota, giving Spock some privacy to read his message. "I don't know, Nyota. I think your Captain should be the one giving you away. I mean, I am sort of in loco parentis for you, you know. Think of it," he held his arms out expansively. "Your captain is like your father figure, wise, worldly, leading you along the path of life..."
Nyota crossed her arms and leaning back, rolled her eyes, "Please. When I met you, the only path you were on your way toward was jail. And I'm not entirely sure that's changed."
"No, no, listen," Kirk expostulated. "Seeing I'm am Captain to you both, I ought to be the one marrying you."
"I think I'd rather not get married."
"Your choice, your choice," Kirk nodded judiciously, but with a gleam in his eye. "But if I don't conduct the actual wedding, then you know you'll want me on your arm, walking you down that aisle. And just think, if you do have a last minute change of heart, who better to have nearby? I have a history of being expert at quick, unexpected, fantastic escapes. Keep that in mind. And then of course, since the first day we met, I always felt you and I were...simpatico." He waggled his brows suggestively.
"You wish," Uhura said, amused.
"I am your Captain," Kirk said pontifically, with a grand sweep of his arm to his chest. "I really think you two should have come to me for permission. And I'd have given you the benefit of my council before granting it. Guided your young love, as it were, on the responsible road to a long term relationship, to matrimony-"
Uhura gave in and bent over with laughter, hands wrapped around her stomach. "Do you even know what that is?"
"But I'm not taking offense at the lack of respect for me, your Captain," Kirk said mock frowning at her display, "in spite of that neglect. But as to the wedding-"
"You're only my Captain every other week," Uhura told him breathless with laughter. "When you manage to stay out of trouble. In between charges and suspensions and Admiralty sanctions. And how long term have you ever had a relationship?"
"You cut me to the quick, Lieutenant. Never-the-less, I am responsible for you. And if you're really serious," Kirk said, ignoring her laughter, "And sure that you want to be given away at all to this sober, silent paragon of rectitude," he pointed at Spock, who was still perusing his message, "who admittedly, has some marginally acceptable qualities, I should still be there to -"
Spock drew a sharp shocked breath.
"Hey, I was just teasing Spock," Kirk said, turning to him. "Spock?" Kirk said, losing the smile and looking concerned. "What is it?"
"Is your father ill?" Uhura asked.
Spock threw the netpad on the table, away from him as if it were a poisonous insect, with more than a little force. He was breathing hard.
"Um…bad news I guess. I'll leave you two alone," Kirk rose cautiously to his feet, looking between Spock and Uhura. "So you can talk about this in private? Unless you want me to stay. Spock?"
"He's not coming," Spock said to Uhura, ignoring Kirk.
"Well, we thought there might be a chance he might be tied up," Uhura said frowning anxiously, because Spock's reaction was beyond what she would expect if Sarek were simply not coming.
"Tied up!" Spock growled in a low tone, as if he couldn't believe the phrase.
Uhura mentally kicked herself. It had been years since they had first met at the Summer Linguistics Institute, but she still hadn't broken the habit, the bad habit of using colloquialisms she couldn't expect Spock, in spite of being raised by a human mother, to entirely understand. "I meant-"
"That is the least of it. He means to tie me up," Spock said instead, overriding any thought of hers that she might have confused him.
"What?" Uhura asked. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Kirk gesturing and gathering the rest of the occupants, herding them out of the rec area, leaving them to discuss this in relative privacy.
Spock met her eyes, his own still wide, as if he couldn't quite process the information even yet. "He has forbidden me to marry you. He has ordered me to New Vulcan. To take a Vulcan bride there."
Uhura's fingers went to her throat, clutching at the little lematya pendant hanging there on a fine chain. Sarek and Amanda had given it to her when they had first met. "But he sanctioned our marriage. He approved then. In fact both your parents wanted us to marry back when I was still at the Academy."
"That was before Vulcan was destroyed. Now he thinks our population is so reduced, I should marry only a Vulcan. He has promised me to her - promised me away as if I were no more than a seven year old child!"
"To whom?" Uhura asked.
"Who does it matter?" Spock growled.
"Well, it matters to me! To whom?" Uhura insisted.
"I hardly care." Spock handed her the netpad.
"T'Pring," Nyota said, a bit forlornly, looking at the holo displayed there. "She's...she's beautiful."
Spock was shaking his head fractionally, but still human style, his eyes narrowed, black irises snapping with an emotion as close to anger as Uhura had seen in him since his fateful attack against Jim Kirk. "I would not accept her when I was seven. And I will not accept her now. And as for my father, when this came up before when I was a child, he promised my mother that he would never marry me against my will. That he would allow me the same freedom of choice my parents had. I find it difficult to understand that he would violate that agreement. But know this. He may have forgotten my mother and his promise to her. I have not forgotten her."
"Spock," she put a hand on his arm. He was practically shaking with repressed fury. "Please."
He looked at her and after a moment, drew a ragged breath and visibly pieced back together his control. "Forgive me. It was … just unexpected."
"What are you going to do?"
Spock bent his head, his jaw set. "I am sorry my planet was destroyed. I am sorry I was not able to save it. Or more of the population. I am especially sorry I could not save my mother. And I appreciate that my father has taken on a huge task to rebuild our civilization. And I regret the pain he feels at that." He looked up at her, his eyes narrowed as he struggled back to control. "But all my life, I was raised as a child of both my parents. My father always told me, from my very first memories, from my first problems on Vulcan, when I was struggling with acceptance in his society, that I could choose what I was to be of both my heritages. My mother said the same. She died on Vulcan with my father's people believing that. My parents, both of my parents, lived the principles of IDIC. They raised me the same. What kind of tribute to my mother's life, or to my heritage, would it be if I disregarded those philosophies now? Just because she is no longer alive, just because it is convenient for him, does he expect me now to turn my back on all she was, to my father and to me? To disregard all our family represented of our blended culture? To abandon the true nature of IDIC which is at the core of Vulcan philosophy?" Spock shook his head. "No. My father must be overwhelmed with his responsibilities. He is not thinking logically. I will tell him this. And that I refuse to do this heinous thing."
Nyota felt simultaneously relieved and concerned. "Wait till you are a little calmer before you do."
"It will make no difference."
"But ...do you still want us to marry now?" she asked.
He looked at her, astonished. "Have you second thoughts?"
"No," she said. "I just don't want to upset your father unduly. Maybe we should give him some time after your refusal. To get him used to the idea again. To let him come to terms with it."
"Time is not his issue," Spock said.
"Then make sure you re-invite him to the wedding," Uhura said. "So that he knows even if you disagree with him, he's still welcome."
"The wedding," Spock said, darkly. He looked at Uhura. "There has already been another wedding. He has remarried."
Uhura caught her breath, surprised and yet unsurprised.
Spock drew a long breath and calmed himself, his shoulders dropping. "I knew of course that he must, eventually," he said in a more reasonable tone. "He is Vulcan. Marriage for a Vulcan male is not an option, but a necessity. I don't...don't begrudge him that. Only that he appears to have forgotten, or at least entirely disregarded, that his first son was sired on a human woman." He looked at Uhura darkly. "Who married him for love. With his new responsibilities, and his new marriage, he seems to have abandoned the memory of the old. But I have not."
"I'm sorry, Spock." She went to him. "I am sorry. I'm so sorry." She wrapped her arms around him.
"Nyota," he murmured, and buried his face in her neck. She felt the barest brush of tears against her skin.
"It will be all right," she said.
"I hope so," he drew back. "But I can't believe he is ordering this of me. And I have never disobeyed him before. It's...disconcerting."
"I guess there's always a first time."
"As clan leader, he has the right to order me." Spock's face was set with control. "But I am my mother's son as well as his. I am her legacy of her life on Vulcan. I will not betray her or disregard who I am." His eyes met hers. "Not even for Vulcan. Or my father."
"Of course you can't. And he will understand," she said. "I remember your father well, even though we only met once. He was so kind, and thoughtful. I can't imagine him forcing you to marry against your will. Or being upset with you for refusing."
"He may be. As I said, I've never disobeyed him before. It's very untraditional. And it appears New Vulcan is embracing tradition with a vengeance. But he has never given me cause to disobey him before, because he has always practiced IDIC with me. The penalties could be...severe." He drew a shaky breath. "Still, he is still alive. He will have other sons. My mother is not. I will not bury who I was raised to be, and with that bury the essence of her memory as well. My father may believe I must be of Vulcan now. But I am still a child of both my parents. That I can't change."
She nodded and took his hand in hers. "Your father will remember your mother. And he'll understand."
Spock looked at her and slowly, hopefully, nodded.
But Sarek did not. The answer, and Sarek's orders, came back two days later, couched in no uncertain terms. As clan leader, and head of the new Vulcan High Council, Sarek said no to his son embarking on a dangerous five year mission into uncharted territory when his civilization now needed every Vulcan life. No to his son's marriage to a human, in light of the relatively small gene pool of living Vulcans. He ordered Spock to New Vulcan. To take up a position as head of the new Vulcan Science Academy. And take T'Pring to wife. Spock was to comply immediately. Or he would be no longer considered a Vulcan by Sarek or any other resident of New Vulcan.
Spock listened to the order on the bridge, where the crew were inspecting the systems installed by the dockyard, outwardly impassive, uncaring that Kirk was in the background. That the entire bridge crew was listening in. For the first two denials, Spock was impassive. But at the last edict, Spock's brows lowered like a thundercloud and it took him a moment to gather his control. He glanced at Jim Kirk a moment, who spread his hands a little, and raised his brows, in a what can you do expression.
"Send this to my Father," Spock said, turning back to Uhura, stressing the relationship with furious irony. "Nuts."
"Nuts?" she asked, not quite sure if either her fiancé or his father were quite sane on the subject.
"Nuts," Spock reiterated. "And sign it McAuliffe."
At this, Kirk straightened in understanding, turning a choked exclamation into a cough before turning his head away, to hide the dawning realization on his face.
"He will understand," Spock said coldly.
Uhura hesitated but sent the communication. Everyone on the bridge, went back to their system checks, doing their best to hide their interest and concern.
"I don't understand," Uhura said to Kirk, when she caught him at a coffee break later that morning. "What was that interchange about? I could tell by your face that you knew."
"It's taught in Command Training. Otherwise, you'd have to be a history buff," Kirk said. "In World War II, the U.S. 101st Airborne was besieged by the German XLVII Panzer Corps. And the 101st had no real possibility of relief at that point. They were outnumbered five to one. They had insufficient gear, food, etc. The nearest army able to relieve them – Patton's 3rd, was 100 miles away and fighting a battle itself, and the weather was terrible. German General Luttwitz demanded that McAuliffe surrender."
"And?" Uhura asked.
"McAuliffe answered 'nuts'." Kirk shrugged his shoulders. "In effect, screw you. Patton's army moved through a blizzard, going from one battle to another without food or rest to break through and end the siege. They combined forces with the 101st and routed the Germans. I mean, it's a classic example of how even in an almost no win scenario, you can still triumph. It was one of the excuses I gave when I - I mean, naturally Spock knows of it because it's taught."
"But this isn't a battle," Uhura said, exasperated. "This is a wedding. And they're father and son."
Kirk shook his head. "But he ordered Spock to surrender, essentially. He said, he's got the power, most of the numbers, and you'll do what I say." He quirked a brow. "Can he do that?" he asked Uhura. "I mean, sure he's his dad, but Spock's no kid."
"Spock said Sarek can order him to obey," Uhura met Kirk's eyes. "But that he'd refuse if Sarek did."
"And he did refuse, in no uncertain terms," Kirk sighed. "And in a very human way. I guess he intended that. If Sarek knows the reference, and I gather from Spock's using it, that he must, then he'll get where Spock stands."
"They're both being unreasonable," Uhura said, vexed. "Not just unreasonable. At this point, they're being stupid, stubborn fools."
Kirk shrugged. "It really doesn't sound like the Sarek we knew on the Enterprise right after the destruction of Vulcan, does it? But grief can do things to people. And he is fighting for his culture. There are so few Vulcans, it must seem like a battle to him, to rebuild from what little he has, and to keep them from being assimilated and dissipated into the larger Federation. I can understand Sarek's viewpoint. Not that I condone it. And of course I can see Spock's too."
"What do I do?" Uhura asked in frustration.
Kirk shook his head. "You marry him, Nyota. Sarek will get over it. Or he won't. But Spock's lost his mother and his planet. You're part of his history with her and the Sarek who was before this. Spock's made his choice. And he's lost a lot too. It's wrong of Sarek to expect him to give up any more just because Sarek's now fighting to consolidate what little of Vulcan is left. Don't you expect Spock to lose his one love. He does love you," he assured her.
"I don't want to be the reason why he loses his father's love."
Kirk shook his head, sure of that. "You wouldn't be."
"How can you say that, when it's true?"
"But it isn't," Kirk said. "Do you think it would be different, even if Spock went to Vulcan? Married that girl? Sarek raised him with Amanda. With tolerance, acceptance for his humanity. Always giving him a choice. Now Sarek's taking that back, reneging on that philosophy. I understand Sarek's point of view. In a sense he's acting in a siege mentality – just a few Vulcans left, against all the billions in the Federation. At least, he's pulling out all the heavy guns to go after his son, and shore up what he has left. Disinheriting Spock from what's left of his culture if he refuses Sarek's order is pretty drastic. But Sarek's forgotten, isolated there on New Vulcan, that he's expecting Spock to give up half of his culture, the human side, just to go totally Vulcan. It's a half Spock happens to have strong ties to, and feelings about. Even if Sarek has given up on feeling."
"I don't want Spock to have to give anything up."
"There are other Vulcans not resident on new Vulcan. Not every remaining Vulcan migrated there. Spock wouldn't be entirely cut off from the original Vulcan culture, even if the planet's gone. Just the new more stringent New Vulcan, or at least his father, while Sarek intends to be unreasonable. I guess between the two, given Sarek forced him to choose, Spock's made his choice."
"I don't like it."
"We can't like it, Nyota," Kirk said, spreading his hands, his voice rising on that word in a way that made him still seem adolescent at times, even with a heavy cruiser Starship Command under his belt. "All we can do is support Spock with what choices he's making."
Uhura set her mouth. "Tell me he's not going to regret this."
"I can't promise you that. But Spock is pretty savvy about himself and his life, and he's made his choice. One thing I'm sure of - we both are - is that he knows his own convictions. And he acts on them. And he doesn't renege on them. Ever. That's why we both value him so much. And I think that's part of what galls him so much about what Sarek is asking. I'm sure he'll feel bad about it if Sarek follows through. But I don't think he'll regret it." Kirk shook his head, his eyes meditative. "Not for a second. Spock's not like that."
Uhura shook her head. "This was supposed to be a happy time," she dabbed at her eyes.
"Look, it still can be," Kirk said, catching her arm. "Don't get caught up in Sarek's issues. When New Vulcan is a little more settled, when Sarek doesn't have that feeling his back is to the wall, he'll get over it. And he and Spock will get back to normal with each other. And he'll accept the marriage and you." Kirk peered down into her eyes. "Hey, he did before right? So, it's not you. Or Spock. You've neither of you to do with any of this. It's Sarek's problem. Leave him to get over it. All you can do for Spock now is make him happy. And you do."
"How'd you get to be so smart?" she asked him, sniffling a little.
Kirk shrugged uneasily. "I don't know that I'm so smart." He spread his hands again. "And I never had a father that I could remember. But I had plenty of run-ins with authority, enough to be more than familiar with the scenario. And this seems like a no-brainer to me. Spock walked away from the Science Academy years ago. Even I know he's not the kind of man to choose to go backwards." He took her shoulders in his, giving her a little, reassuring shake. "We none of us are. This is right, Nyota. You, Spock, the mission. All we can do is go forward. There is no going back for any of us. It's just...this is our destiny."
"Our destiny," she said. She nodded. sighing and gave him a kiss on the cheek.
"Hey," he warned her, stepping back. "Don't be making Spock jealous now. I already took command of his ship away from him. Wouldn't want to be accused of taking his girl too."
"You dream," she said, raising her chin and giving him a look. "Anyway, you've already got a role in the wedding."
"There's just one rumor I'm hearing," Kirk said, suspiciously. "I'm happy to be best man. But what's this I hear about the maid of honor being a goat? I'm not walking no goat down the aisle," he warned her, shaking a finger at her, grinning at her reluctant smile. "No matter how pretty the goat. Flower wreaths and all beside the point. It's a girl or nothing. A human girl. Well," he backtracked, "she doesn't have to be human. But you know, a biped. A sentient, anyway. I mean, who am I supposed to dance with, afterwards? Once Spock carries you off into marital bliss? You don't want to leave me entirely forlorn and lonely after I have finally lost you. And to a Vulcan, too."
She laughed finally, and Kirk grinned back.
"Got you," he said. "Got you to laugh, anyway."
"I'm glad we've got you, James T. Kirk," she said, straightening up. She touched her fingers to her lips and then to his. "But that's all you get of me," she warned him. "There will be plenty of girls, I promise. Enough for a fast worker like you to find someone."
"Bring on the wedding," Kirk said with enthusiasm, and then turned serious. "Spock is a lucky man," he said, touching his own fingers to his lips as if capturing that kiss. I always thought so. From the first time we met."
"Is he?" she asked, her smile fixed, but some of the brightness fading from it. "I hope so."
The end of the day saw her putting her hand to the door of Spock's quarters, no longer smiling. Entering, she leaned back against the closed door, her hands flat against the door as if to hold herself up. "Are you all right?" she asked.
He nodded slowly, sitting back from his work, rising to meet her. "I will be."
She sighed and went to him, stepping into his arms. "I am so sorry," she repeated.
He took a half step back, frowning, wary. "Sorry? Why are you sorry?" His brows lowered. "You are not leaving me now as well?"
She caught him up, squeezing him tightly, face buried in his neck. "Bite your tongue!" she exclaimed.
He may have given a soft half laugh in relief at that. Or it might have been just the pressure of her arms around his ribs driving the breath hard from his lips. "Must I?" he asked her in a hushed tone.
She stepped back from him. "You know what I mean."
"I do, Nyota Uhura. And at this time, I am sadly wondering if you are the only one that I do understand. And who understands me. Your fondness for obscure colloquialisms aside."
"I do," she assured him.
He looked down at her, that quirky curve she knew so well playing around the corner of his mouth. "So. It appears that we are both familiar with our assigned lines," he remarked lightly. "And we have nothing to rehearse."
She smiled up at him. "I guess we have got that part covered. But I don't mind a little bit of rehearsal."
"What do you want to rehearse?" he asked.
She leaned up on tiptoe and kissed him deeply. Then laid her head on his shoulder.
She felt him sigh against her. They swayed a little, cheek to cheek, breathing in tandem, moving in rhythm with each other, dancing without music. "It will be all right," she said. "He'll change his mind. He'll get over it."
"Vulcans generally don't get over things," Spock muttered.
"Well, we'll be on a five year mission after this. He'll have time for reconsidering."
"I am glad we are doing this before we leave," Spock said, choosing not to respond to that. "Because yours is the only family I will have. Now. At least we have that."
She hugged him tighter at that, "I don't want to be the cause of this," she whispered, tears squeezing between her tight-shut eyes.
Spock drew her back and looked at her, startled. "Is that what you think? Nyota, you are absolutely not. He intended to recall me when he heard of the five year mission. He has other plans for me, as you heard. But there is no way that I would have gone to New Vulcan, married that girl, abandoned everything I have ever chosen to be, to be a clone of a perfect Vulcan. I am not that. I never was. Whatever my father is trying to do there, I would have had no part of it regardless. We would have had this confrontation anyway."
"I don't want that, either. But it does make me feel a little less the cause."
He enfolded her again. "He has forgotten who I am," his voice marveled a little at this. "Or he now wishes to make me into something else. But I am not that person. I don't recognize that Vulcan. Or that Sarek. He has become a stranger to me. And he seems determined to make a stranger of me to everything I have been in my past. I can't stop him from trying. But I must refuse. I must. I can't be anything other than what I am."
"I love you," she said.
"Given we are to be married very shortly," Spock said, very gravely. "I believe that is entirely appropriate."
"Your lines are to tell me that you love me," she told him pointedly.
"Is that who I am?" he asked, raising a brow, stopping their dancing sway.
"Oh, you!" she shook her head, and mock glared at him. "Whatever. And whoever you are, I don't want you to change," she admitted. "Just stay who I fell in love with then."
"Given you are a linguist, and I am your superior, I must note that that last construction is very bad grammar," Spock said.
She laughed at that. "I will get you for that!" She stepped back and raised a hand.
He swept her off her feet, and kissed her. "Just love me, Nyota. And I will be whatever I can be with you. If that is enough for you."
"It's more than enough for me," she said, but in spite of her happiness, tears sprung to her eyes.
He looked down at her. "Don't cry," he said. "Regardless of my father's...stubbornness, you must remember that my mother would have been pleased at our marriage. And I am pleased. And in spite of those tears, I think you are pleased?"
"Then we have enough and more," Spock said. And kissed her.
"I like the idea of rehearsing," she said in a hush.
"I'm not averse," Spock said, with a gleam in his eye. They moved into the bedroom area, his arm around her waist. "By the way," he added, "Why does Jim keep complaining to me that a best man can't have a maid of honor who is a goat?"
She laughed. "What would we do without Jim?" she asked.
"Have a much less complicated life," Spock noted ironically, before closing the bedroom door. "But I think that will be denied us. I'm looking forward to it anyway, though."
"I can't wait," Uhura said.
To be continued...
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