Summary: At the time, it seemed the logical thing to do.
Fandom: Star Trek: The Original Series
Pairings: Sarek/Amanda, Spock/Chapel, Spock/T'Pring touched on
Title, Author and URL of original story: Untitled TOS Drabble by sabaceanbabe
"It wasn't easy for Spock as a child," Amanda murmurs. "He had such a soft heart."
The words are familiar. They begin a story he has heard many times and one that he remembers well. Quite obviously, it is a story to which he knows Mother has grown attached. Listening to the cadence of her voice, Spock finds, despite everything, he cannot begrudge her the telling of it. Not even to Christine. Indeed, a part of him which refuses to be cowed by cthia's command both thrills and cringes to hear it told to this woman especially.
Christine looks at him, her eyes sympathetic, and Spock finds he cannot face such tenderness. Unwilling to betray his internal unrest, he shuts his eyes to endure it, silently permitting his mother this small rebellion. It is not the Vulcan way to relate such tales, but it is her way and, for all he cannot give, he can give her this.
Over her many years on Vulcan, she has sacrificed much with little complaint while, by contrast, Vulcan has sacrificed nothing and profited much. A profit gained with little thanks. Spock knows his momentary discomfort does not even begin to address the imbalance.
However, as his mother would say, it is the thought which counts.
"I've heard of the kahs-wan," Christine says, drawing his attention once more.
Spock sighs, quietly so as not to be heard by either woman, the memory of his premature attempt at the kahs-wan still paining him. It is not something he will admit, nor share with even his mother, but neither is it something which shames him. By admitting the pain, he honors a sacrifice.
He listens to Christine repeat the name, "I-Chaya" and is impressed by the ease that it slides from her tongue. She would have liked I-Chaya. Moreover, I-Chaya would have been quite fond of her.
Spock experiences an irrational moment of frustration that such a meeting will never occur. It is not logical, but it is and he experiences frustration anew. With such a contradictory truth, he finds himself wondering if this is a sensation his father experiences often and if, perhaps, it is a condition common when dealing with Terran women.
Perhaps he will ask. For the first time in many years he believes he may have the freedom to do so.
"After that day -- " Amanda sighs. "I lost my little boy to Surak." Her voice warms with a smile. "I suppose it's something all mothers go through, but I had hoped it wouldn't be so soon."
"The men of Vulcan, they treat their women strangely, at least, people say that. But you're part human too, I know you don't - you couldn't - hurt me, would you?"
He opens his eyes to the image of his mother and Christine, heads together, murmuring. Unsettled by the memory of Christine's voice and his own reaction to it, he looks away from them. . He has not thought of that incident in many months. Not since --
Not since the Fires brought forth the memories of her hand pressing upon his, cool and strong; of the swell of her hip flush against his and whispered to him of the shelter she offered. How he'd yearned for it even before his Time had come upon him.
Spock recalls, and again experiences, the shame of involving Christine, however peripherally and however ignorant she remains, in such matters. Through lowered lashes, he watches his mother draw Christine from the room, her smile a hopeful one Spock knows well.
The Lady Amanda is, as always, a highly perceptive woman.
"An excellent choice, my son."
He turns his head to find himself being regarded by his father. "You are awake?"
Sarek nods slightly. "I wished to listen and my wife tells me such tricks are common among the men of her species." His amusement is subtle, but Spock can see it nonetheless. "Over the years, I have found much wisdom in the action." He looks in the direction of the door. "Your Christine is a most impressive woman."
"My -- " Spock forces himself to silence, reviewing the denial so readily springing to his lips. It is a habit borne of a betrothal he no longer bears any loyalties to. Illogical to protest natures indeed. "I have no claims upon Nurse Chapel."
Sarek's eyebrow sweeps upward. "I have not heard your mother tell that story in many years."
Neither of them is ignorant as to the significance of the timing.
"It is one of her favorites," Spock replies, aware of the defensive edge on his words. "I did not wish to intrude upon the moment."
"You chose to allow her to continue, despite the reaction said story might evoke within you," Sarek states. "I believe, my son, that is quite compelling evidence."
"Mother -- "
"Is part," Sarek says. "I would wager that she is not the sum total." He hesitates. "I fail to understand the situation, my son."
"Nor do I," Spock says, "and yet I am living it."
"Explain," Sarek commands. "Perhaps we may find order in the chaos."
He is, Spock knows, still quite amused by the situation. It would rankle if it did not relieve him so. So many days ago, this simple exchange would have seemed impossible to Spock. Even amongst Vulcans, this is typical of fathers and sons, but the estrangement with his father had meant such was impossible.
"Perhaps," Spock says. He thinks back on the conversation and the way Christine had listened. "It is difficult to judge," he says. "Christine has expressed an interest beyond that of the superficial, however, it was not a situation in which her words might be believed." He breathes out. "She was...compromised."
"And you have not discussed it since."
"She would be shamed," Spock says. "The memory of that day would cause her pain. I will not be responsible for any further suffering she might experience." He is not unaware of the gossip amongst the crew. He knows that humor, if it can be called such, has been found in the situation. He also knows Christine has never participated in such.
That he has not helped shames him.
"There has been other pain?" Sarek inquires.
Spock does not meet his father's gaze. "Yes. Some weeks ago." His voice tightens. "I will not discuss it."
There is a minute hesitation. In that split second of time Spock knows his father considers any number of potential topics that he might abjectly refuse discussion of.
Of them, given the timing, only one is likely. The Pon Farr. In this, Spock realizes, the Rule of Silences is the refuge Surak intended.
Sarek cannot, and will not, ask and there is no shame in his relief. It merely is.
Sarek nods once. "Indeed." He is silent then, lost to his own considerations and Spock finds himself remembering that fateful trip with I-Chaya. His premature attempt at his own kahs-wan. He had charged ahead, full of determination and anger, and led himself and his companion into the path of a le-mayta's wrath.
I-Chaya had died in his defense.
His best friend. His only friend had fallen beneath the cat's claws, wounded beyond any healer's aide, and Spock alone bore responsibility. I-Chaya's suffering had been Spock's.
"She does not know what could be expected of her, should she choose me."
"Neither did your mother," Sarek says. "I tried to explain our role, the prominence of our family, and what she might face." He sighs. "I fear my explanations were not adequate to the situation at hand. She was quite overwhelmed by the focus."
And the criticism. A human woman marrying into Surak's House.
Spock tries to picture Christine among them. Tall and elegant as she walks the grounds of his estate, long limbs clothed in the finest of Vulcan fabrics.
The image comes to sharp clarity in his mind much with ease. He finds it a most compelling thought.
"It is premature to consider such issues, my son," Sarek says. "You are free and without restriction. Perhaps, at this time, the prudent choice would be to enjoy it."
Spock looks at him. "I do not understand."
"I have shocked you," Sarek says, "speaking in such fashion."
There is no simple route by which to address that comment. Spock considers it from a number of angles and then settles upon forthright honesty. "I had not expected it," he says. "I find, however, that this has become a quite common occurrence."
"Where you are concerned, I have found it equally frequent," Sarek says. "You have always had a unique talent for the unexpected, my son."
It is, Spock feels, the closest Sarek has ever come to apologizing. "An inheritance from Mother," he surmises.
"Quite," Sarek nods. "She has frequently made use of it herself. It is most refreshing." He looks at Spock, a faintly sly expression on his face. "You may find the same of your Christine."
Spock says nothing. Protesting this would only serve to confirm his parents' suspicions and, again, draw Christine into another untenable situation to which she does not deserve.
"It seems, my son," Sarek begins, "that you should not reject any possible outcomes without first exploring their viability."
"You refer to addressing the matter with Christine," Spock says, experiencing apprehension at the thought. He quells it, facing his father down. "I do not believe that advisable."
"From your perspective you may not," Sarek allows, nodding. "However, I remind you that once, many years ago, I found myself in similar circumstances. Might I venture to point out that the results of that inadvisable risk have proven themselves to be quite rewarding."
Spock settles back against the biobed. He closes his eyes. "I cannot dispute that," he says. "However, I do not believe the timing is appropriate."
"Perhaps not," Sarek agrees, "but I must question for whom the distance is required."
For that question, Spock has no answer.
Spock is released the following morning. His mother is waiting in his quarters.
She smiles, a little guilty, when he enters. "I couldn't wait," she says. "I've been so cold since we left home. When I first moved to Vulcan, I never thought I'd adjust to the heat." A little laugh escapes her. "Now, I can't bear the cold."
"You have always been highly adaptable, Mother," Spock observes. "I believe you would adjust."
"Well, I might," Amanda says, "but I don't want to." She reaches out to him. "Come, please sit, Spock. Let me see you."
"I was not aware you were experiencing difficulties with your vision," he says, but sits anyway. "Perhaps, before you disembark, you should see Dr. McCoy. He is a capable physician." Who, of course, would never let Spock hear the end of such high praise. "I am certain he would be able to assist you."
Amanda laughs. "Spock, really."
He tips his head. "It pleases me to see you smile, Mother."
Leaning forward, she rests a hand on his. It's cool and small and there are new marks on it. Age. So easily fixed, but she refuses, bearing them with pride. She squeezes and he turns his hand to hold hers. The barest hint of her thoughts lies at the edge of his mind. He sweeps his thumb across her palm and senses the joy she experiences at his presence.
It warms him.
He has faced much because she is his mother. Intimations and accusations from Vulcans and Humans alike. It has been difficult, yet he will never regret that she is his mother. He cannot.
"I have spoken with Sarek," he says.
"I know," she says, smiling wider. "I was hoping you would."
He looks at her. "It was -- We did not speak of that."
"No," Amanda dimples, "Sarek told me what you spoke about. I like her."
"I have observed such," Spock agrees. "Nurse Chapel is a remarkable woman." Christine is so much more than that, but he finds he cannot bring himself to attempt an accurate description. He is uncertain words exist to properly do her justice.
A laugh bubbles out of his mother, filling the void his words created. Spock nods. "Indeed." It is a far more accurate description than any language could create. Light, air, warmth that reaches beneath the cold of cthia's control, slipping down deep to where the Vulcan heart still beats with passion and fire.
"You weren't embarrassed, were you?" she asks suddenly. "When I told that story. I know it bothers you when I bring I-Chaya up."
He shakes his head. "It is your favorite."
"It is," she nods, "but that's not why I told her."
Spock raises his eyebrow, genuinely confused. "I do not understand, Mother."
Amanda's smile softens. "Of course not, Spock. I told her the story because she needs to know, just as I did, that within the Vulcan, beneath the control and logic, there is a man capable of love. Even if he may never say it, can never say it, he still feels it." She raises a hand to his face. "It is not logical, my son, that such things be hidden away, and yet Vulcans do."
"Indeed," he agrees, "we do." And she is right. It is not logical, but, like with so many others religions, they who followed cthia sometimes followed the dictates of culture as well. Most unfortunate. "Thank you, Mother."
Here, in the privacy of his quarters, Spock permits himself the luxury of hugging his mother. They have both earned it.
It can be said that Spock, son of Sarek, grandson of Skon, does nothing by half-measure. Few would dispute this, but few understand the extent Spock exhibits this trait.
He is gratified by this.
Christine eats her noon meal each day at approximately the same time. The time does vary, but rarely falls outside the frame of 13:20 to 13:40 shipboard time. She is scheduled to do so a good hour earlier, but invariably, she delays it. Ostensibly the delay is due to patients and reports, but that is not entirely the case.
Like McCoy, Christine frequently refuses to see to her own needs until those of the people under her command has been met. It is, like so many of her traits, quite admirable.
Today, she is early. Spock has barely arrived in the Mess Hall when she sweeps through the door, accompanied by Lieutenants Uhura and Moreau. They are laughing together as they move to the service line. He observes them from his position as he gathers a salad and collects a beverage before moving away.
He delays approach until Christine has cleared the line and moved toward a table. Her companions stop to speak with Lieutenant Zahra. Spock bypasses them easily, nodding a greeting as he does, and moves toward the table, well aware they are observing his path.
It is awkward, this moment, but Spock is not dissuaded. He stops before the table and regards her calmly. "Christine."
She looks up, startled, eyes wide with surprise. "Sp--Commander," she says. "Is there something I can help you with?"
"Not precisely," he says. "Might I join you? I do not wish to intrude, however, if another time would be more appropriate, I would quite understand."
"No," she stammers out, "it's fine. I just -- " Christine laughs a little, nervous. "I'm not sure I understand what's going on here."
Spock places his tray before a chair opposite hers and sits. "I believe I am rectifying a grave oversight." He looks at her. She is tired. The shadows beneath her eyes suggest a long night in Sickbay. Despite this, she is still beautiful. "There are things which I wish to discuss with you, Christine, however it would be highly improper to do so in a public venue." He clears his throat, steepling his fingers before him. "I have made mistakes where the matter of us is concerned, Christine, I ask forgiveness for this."
While it is not improper to make such a request of her in front of others, Spock would prefer to do so elsewhere. A venue in which they would have more privacy. However, he believes it would a grave error to delay any further.
She stares at him, utterly astonished, for a period of time. So long, in fact, that Spock is on the verge of inquiring as to her health when she finally says, "Mr. Spock, I have absolutely no idea what you mean. I -- well, I was not aware there was an us." A light blush colours her cheeks as she continues, "I mean, I am aware of -- " she waves a hand "--but it's never been your fault."
"On the contrary, Christine," he says, "the matter of how I handled it is." He lowers his voice. "I confused you by allowing you to believe my reticence a matter of -- emotion. It was not. Circumstances bound me. Had they not, my choice would have been otherwise." He considers T'Pring and realizes that, perhaps, he has done disservice to them both. "Though my recent request of you was borne from -- "
"I know," Christine says, smiling gently. "You were indisposed."
"Quite," he agrees. "It does not, however, change the truth. The circumstances of the request were inappropriate, shameful, but does not erase the truth of my choice. Indeed, I am told by both my parents that my choice is highly logical."
Sitting back, he picks up his fork and regards his salad with calm consideration. After a moment, he begins to eat, leaving Christine to her thoughts. Her disquiet is obvious. The source of it equally so. The content, however, is not.
He gives it several moments before he speaks again. "If I have offended, I will leave -- "
"You haven't," Christine says, voice quiet and small. "I'm just -- " she laughs. "A little confused. A lot confused. I've spent some time believing one thing, only to find out it's completely the opposite."
"Again, a misconception that is my responsibility," Spock says. "I have been quite correctly chastised for this behavior."
A delighted giggle escapes her. Spock finds that this sound is highly pleasing and decides, in the future, to devote much consideration to evoking it again.
"Do you mean to tell me that your mother -- "
He inclines his head. "Indeed."
Christine covers her mouth with her hand, mirth dancing in her eyes. "Oh, Spock, I don't mean to embarrass you -- "
"You do not," he assures. "The behavior of mothers, I believe, is a universal constant. It is, in fact, why she chose the story that she did."
"Aha," Christine says. "I wondered." She pauses, then admits, "I worried that she embarrassed you. I know such things are inappropriate for Vulcans."
"My mother indulges herself," Spock says. "It pleases myself and my father to permit her." In truth, he believes, there would be little either of them could do to stop her, but such self-deceptions have their own pleasures as well. "She has explained her logic and I agree. Her choice was an appropriate one."
"Would it be wrong to ask what that logic was?" Christine inquires.
"For anyone else," he nods. "You, however, are not anyone else."
She smiles. "Well then, I'm inquiring."
"She stated that it was necessary, to permit you a glimpse behind cthia's walls."
"Cthia," Christine pauses. "The path of logic, correct?"
He tips his head. "After a fashion, yes." In truth, the definition of cthia is not so easily simplified. However, he cannot fault her for it even if he wished to. Thousands before her have devoted their lives to the definition of Surak's teachings, written tome upon tome, and still failed to accurately quantify it.
It is, quite likely, he realizes, that he is over-thinking the matter.
With this approval, he continues, "I believe she is correct. There is much that you need to understand." He forces himself to stop and point out, "Should, of course, you choose to do so. I am being presumptuous in imagining otherwise."
"No," Christine says. "No, you're not. Your mother and I had a longer talk as well." She picks up her own fork. "I found it a 'most enlightening' exercise."
He raises his eyebrow. "Indeed, I should wish to know more."
Christine considers it. "Maybe, but first, you should eat. Important conversations must never be conducted on an empty stomach. It would be inappropriate."
"And we have had quite enough of that," Spock agrees.
"Yes," she agrees, "I suppose we have." She looks over her shoulder as Uhura and Lieutenant Moreau pass by. "They're going to want to know what's going on."
"Indeed," he agrees. "However, at this time, I find myself disinclined to permit you the time to tell them."
Christine turns back, catching the look in his eye, and blushes deeply.
"Red," Spock comments, "is a most appealing colour."
"Keep that up," she manages, "and you'll be seeing a lot of it."
Spock considers her words with some relish. "I find your suggestion most agreeable."
She makes a face. "That is not what I meant."
"No," he agrees. "I suppose that it is not. Does this trouble you, Christine?"
Christine starts to frown, but it becomes a warm smile instead. "No, no, I suppose that I don't." Still smiling, she ducks her head and returns to her plate.
Content to let silence stretch between them and allow the image of them dining together to speak for itself, Spock returns to his meal. Christine is correct, for the discussion which lies ahead, fortification will indeed be required.
For all that lies ahead, he imagines, he will require a second helping.
"Spock," Christine says. Her unexpected interruption quite welcome.
"Do you have any images of I-Chaya?"
"Yes," he says. "I will retrieve them for you." He hesitates. "And, perhaps, if you wish, I will tell you the entire story."
It will be good to speak of I-Chaya again.
She smiles brightly at him. "Thank you."
He inclines his head. "It is I, Christine, who should thank you."
Christine's smile turns to an impish grin. "Must you argue everything, Mr. Spock?"
There is no way to answer such a comment. Spock experiences a moment of empathy for his father.