Disclaimer: Star Trek characters are copyright by Paramount Studios. The rest of the story is copyright (c) 1999 by Cheree Cargill and may not be reproduced in any form without express written consent of the author. A single copy may be downloaded for personal enjoyment of the reader.
(originally printed in "Federation Chronicles #3", May 1973)
Spock slipped his boots off in the foyer and entered the house silently. He was an old hand at it. More times than he cared to remember, he had sat hidden somewhere, cold and stiff and half the time sick, waiting until the boys had gone. Waiting until the night had fallen and insects sang far off and the quiet was broken only by the whispered roar of ships arching out to the stars. Waiting until the dull throb within him drove him out of his lair and through the silent streets home. Home to Sarek's questions and Amanda's hurt eyes. It had almost become a game. Slip in the house after his parents had retired and creep to his room. Hope Sarek didn't hear him. Hope Amanda hadn't been crying secretly again. The terrace door was always left unlocked for him, but i-Chaya slept on the terrace and always whined with joy at Spock's return. Sarek had very sharp hearing.
Tonight Spock was very tired, too tired to give the sehlat bouncing about him, eager to play, more than a soft pat on the head. He touched the door plate, but i-Chaya began to whine. "What is it?" Spock asked him in a barely audible whisper. The bear-like creature pawed his leg, its soft brown eyes imploring. "I fed you this morning," the boy whispered, annoyed. i-Chaya opened his mouth to utter his gruff howl, but Spock quickly laid a land on his head. "All right. But just a little."
He took the cracked bowl and dipped it into the metal container standing just inside the door. As he set it down before the sehlat, he shook his head. i-Chaya ignored him completely, concentrating on the food before him.
Spock sighed heavily and looked up at the stars, bright and clear in the depthless sky. They beckoned him, winking and teasing, calling silently to him. He picked out a few he knew well ... T'Sehmon ... Dismolesci ... bright T'Serdya that the Earthmen called Sirius...
He'd been out among them several times. He'd accompanied Sarek on diplomatic missions occasionally when his presence had not hampered his father's efficiency. He'd been to Earth several times with his mother. A cold nasty planet with thick air and rude beings. Somehow he couldn't connect his gentle mother with such a world.
On impulse, he patted his jacket pocket and was satisfied to hear the crackle of the message he'd received today. Well, Earth itself wasn't so very bad; maybe he could get used to it. Heartened just a little, he went inside and locked the door after him. Then he slipped off his boots and set them down.
He hadn't eaten anything since early morning, so he went into the kitchen and quietly set the food processor for a light meal. The food was ready in half a minute and he managed to catch the machine before the buzzer went off.
As he ate, he took the crumpled letter from his pocket and re-read it. He'd been accepted. Thank whatever forces presided over the universe for that. the semester was almost over and he had enough credits to graduate ahead of his class. For an instant, he almost smiled with smug pride, then realized he was being emotional and fought it down.
But the emotion would not stay tucked neatly away inside him. It metamorphosed itself into bitterness and longing. He had been torn for years between tradition and his own will and finally he had decided. He'd had no trouble being accepted by the Academy. After all, he was head of his class. He had to be. He had to prove to the others ... and himself ... that he was superior, that his human blood did not make him stupid and useless. And, besides that, how could the Academy refuse to admit the son of the Vulcan ambassador, the grandson of an ambassador, and direct heir to his family's fortune?
Spock folded the letter and returned it to its envelope. He'd have to tell his parents ... after graduation. He had no desire to face Sarek's wrath any sooner than he had to. And T'Pring ... he'd have to tell T'Pring. After all, she was his t'pfarr. She'd have to know.
He fed the dishes quietly into the washer and went to his room. There he touched the light panel on the wall and watched the soft light flicker into existence. Laying the letter on his desk, he got undressed and climbed into bed, picking up the book he was reading.
He had sunk deep into his pillows, absorbed in the book, when his door opened and his mother peered almost apologetically in. He looked up, his dark eyes sharp.
"I just wanted to see if you got home safely," she said. "Where have you been?"
"At school. Studying," he said.
"So late?" He did not answer and awkward silence passed between them. Finally Amanda said, "Don't stay up too long. Good night, Spock."
"Good night, Mother."
She withdrew but he was disturbed now. The matter of the Academy had sprung back into his mind. It would hurt Amanda when he told her. She was the last person in the universe he wanted to hurt. Still, it couldn't be helped...
At last, he got up and turned out the light, but instead of going back to bed, he pulled his pants on and went to the terrace, the carpet deadening his footsteps. His boots stood sentry by the door, but he did not put them on. Instead he slipped outside and sat down on the step, the tiles cold against his feet. i-Chaya came and laid his heavy head on the boy's knee, closing his eyes in bliss as Spock rubbed him absent-mindedly between the ears. He sat in the dark for a long time.
* * *
The week of his graduation, he went to see T'Pring. There was no word in the English language that adequately described their relationship. They were s'pfarri ... mates. But the relationship went farther than that. They were joined in mind, although not yet in body. They would not be fully wed until the pon farr consummated their marriage. That was still sometime in the future.
T'Pring was a proud, headstrong girl that Spock himself would probably not have chosen to marry. However, her family had enough prestige to make it suitable for their daughter to marry an ambassador's son, so the marriage was, of course, quite logical in the eyes of their parents. Wealth married power and both sides were happy.
She had blossomed into a quite beautiful girl who, unfortunately, knew it and, being Vulcan, would readily admit to it without the slightest inkling of shame. She was a few months younger than he but close enough to be called his age. They were sixteen now, marking close to a decade as s'pfarri. She met him at the front door of her home, but did not invite him in.
"Let's go for a walk," he suggested.
"I don't know. Just walking."
She considered it then said, "Very well, but let me tell T'Paele." He waited in the foyer until she had informed her mother of their plans. At last, she returned wearing her jacket and they left.
They walked in silence for a few minutes then Spock said, "There's something I must tell you." She looked at him curiously. "Swear you won't tell anyone?"
"Of course," T'Pring answered, then stopped and stared at him in puzzlement. "Spock, you are acting most illogically."
"It is not altogether a logical situation, T'Pring." He looked away from her. "Let's go somewhere private. This is not a public matter."
Her eyebrows lifted fractionally. "You could have said so earlier. I've never seen you so emotional."
He snapped back to face her, his eyes hard. "That's enough," he said in a sharp voice. "Just because we're not fully joined doesn't give you any right to insult me! I'm still your s'pfarr."
T'Pring blinked in surprise at his outburst, then lowered her head. "I beg forgiveness," she said softly. "I spoke out of place." Her black eyes now gently inquisitive, she asked, "What is it, Spock?"
He looked at her for a moment, then began walking. She quickly fell into step with him and once more neither spoke. After a few moments, Spock inostensibly reached out his hand, his index and middle fingers extended, and gently touched T'Pring's leg. She glanced down then looked at him in surprise, but his gaze was unwaveringly straight ahead. The corners of her pert mouth lifting slightly, she touched her fingers to his.
They walked to the park and found a deserted area amid a clump of Vulcan lilies, huge white flowers with spiky leaves. There they sat down and Spock sighed unhappily.
"I graduate this week," he said.
"Yes, I know."
"I'm leaving. I'm going to Starfleet Academy on Earth."
T'Pring's brows lowered. "What? Why?" she asked incredulously.
He looked away from her. "You wouldn't understand how it is. Being half-alien is ... is..."
"But that means military service."
"Don't you think I know?"
"But how could you even consider..." Bewildered, she reached out to touch his face, but Spock jerked back out of reach. T'Pring asked him gently, "Let me know your thoughts. I do not understand."
He hesitated, knowing what mind-link entailed. T'Pring, seeing he was upset, held out her hand, fingers spread in salute. "Spock, we are pledged. We'll be married someday ... maybe even next year. Should a husband keep his thoughts from his wife?"
Spock wet his lips and took a deep breath. "There are things," he said, "which you would not understand."
"Will you try me?" she asked.
He looked at her and saw that she was sincere. Moving closer to her, he reached out to touch her hand and, for a moment, they sat immobile, palm to palm, looking deep into one another's eyes. Then Spock moved his fingers to the girl's face, their gazes locked. She touched his temples and, after a few seconds, closed her eyes and tilted her head back, uttering a long, soft gasp as their minds touched. Spock closed his eyes, too, and his breathing deepened.
They were One, the flow and ebb and sweep of their thoughts like a tide, gentle in eddies, crashing against the seawalls of mental blocks, imposed by will ... memories like clouds ... emotions meeting, touching, entwining ... wanting, needing, and always the gentle agony of being known...
They found themselves close together, caressing, when they pulled their minds away from each other and became again separate entities. The young couple blinked at each other in surprise, unused to such closeness, either mental or physical.
T'Pring pulled out of his arms and sat back in bewilderment. Spock did likewise, his mind still reeling. At last, T'Pring cleared her throat and said, "Spock ... I ... I think we'd better go home."
He swallowed and nodded dumbly. Standing up, he held out his hand to help her, but she shied away and got to her feet unassisted. All the way home, they walked silent and a regimented distance from each other. Both were afraid of the flood of emotions they had felt, afraid to let them free again.
But, as Spock turned to leave, T'Pring hesitated, then said softly, "Spock?" He looked back at her. "I understand."
He nodded and walked away.
* * *
Graduation came and went and still Spock could not bring himself to tell his parents. He'd wait until everything was ready, until he was invincible.
But Sarek would not let him wait. He had harbored suspicion for several weeks now. Spock had made no allusions to the Vulcan Science Academy, although it was only logical that Spock should attend that school. Sarek had spent many hours with his son, who had watched wide-eyed as Sarek had shown him the secrets of the universe. Physics, astronomy, computer science ... all had fascinated Spock. He had won math and science awards and had a dozen scholarship offers to attend the finest schools on four planets. Spock had turned them all down ... almost. There were at least two still pending.
Sarek was waiting when Spock came home from the library that evening. As the young Vulcan laid the books down on the table in the hall, his father called him into the main room and told him to sit. Spock sat, politely attentive but growing apprehensive. His father did not waste time.
"Have you decided where you plan to continue your education?"
"Yes," Spock said.
"Good." Sarek seemed to lose a bit of his direness. "I trust you have made the necessary arrangements."
"I have. My ship leaves in eight days."
"What?!" came Amanda's voice from behind them. Spock turned as she entered the room. "What did you say?" she demanded, her face white.
"Repeat it," said Sarek in a tight voice.
Spock had risen and was staring at his father eye to eye. "I said my ship leaves in eight days," he replied. "I'm leaving Vulcan."
"But where are you going?" Amanda asked.
"Earth. I'm going to Starfleet Academy. I'm joining Starfleet," Spock announced with determination.
"On what do you base that decision?" Sarek wanted to know, his back stiff.
"On the fact that Starfleet is, by its very nature, a completely impartial organization. I would not be a freak there. I would be accepted for what--"
"You're being illogical You belong on Vulcan where you were born."
"I'm not tolerated here! I'm a half-alien--"
"You are Vulcan!"
"And my mother," Spock said in a low voice. "Is she Vulcan?"
"Your mother has nothing to do with this."
"My mother has *everything* to do with this!" He reached out imploringly to his father. "Don't you understand? They won't let me be Vulcan here. I'm human."
"Spock! Sarek!" Amanda pleaded, tears coming to her eyes. The two ignored her.
"Don't you ever let me hear you say that again," Sarek breathed through clenched teeth. "You are as Vulcan as I am."
Spock shook his head. "You're wrong. You should have thought about this seventeen years ago. You should have thought about what you were doing before you married her."
"Please!" Amanda begged.
Sarek glared at his son. "You are being completely illogical about this. Where is your training? Where is the discipline you prided yourself on? You're showing more and more that you're not fit to be called Vulcan. If you want to go to Earth and fall in with that pack of emotional animals, then go! I no longer wish to see your face!"
Spock glared back and spun around. Amanda caught him, then implored her husband, "Sarek! Don't say that to your son!"
The Vulcan had turned his back on the pair. "I have no son," he stated in a hard voice.
"Quite right," Spock agreed, his eyes burning strangely. "And I have no father!"
Spock jerked out of Amanda's grasp and stalked to his room where he leaned back against the door. Covering his face with his hands, he began to tremble hard. Sarek was right. He had lost control of his emotions. All the years of rigorous training had slipped away.
Weakened, he stumbled to his bed and sat down. There, he clasped his hands into meditation pose, pulling his frayed emotions back inside and securing them in their usual tight ball. At last, he felt a calm begin to creep back into his soul. He'd be all right now. He was Vulcan! he told himself. He was Vulcan!
His ship passage was paid for, his scholarship would handle his schooling, he had money in his name, and he was Vulcan. There was nothing to worry about.
Taking a deep breath, Spock got up and began to pack. All his clothes, his books, everything he could fit into the weight limit. One by one, he loaded his bags into his neat little flyer. He'd hate to give her up. She'd been a birthday present from his parents. He paused to trail his hand along the polished blue cowl before he went inside.
His room looked strangely bare as he picked up his last bag. He took one last look around the room that had been his since he could remember. Sixteen years was a long time. He'd miss this house.
At last, he turned then a thought struck him and he set his bag down. Quickly, he went to the terrace and gave a low whistle. In a minute, i-Chaya came bounding out of the shrubbery. The boy bent down and put his arms around the sehlat's neck, burying his face in the soft brown fur. i-Chaya wriggled and nuzzled him. At last, Spock ran a hand down the animal's back and stood up. i-Chaya growled happily and pawed his leg.
Spock bit his lip and nodded. "Okay. One last time." He took the gnawed bowl and filled it with food. As the sehlat buried his muzzle in it, his young master said softly, "Goodbye, old friend. Prosper." The animal flicked up his brown eyes, then went back to his eating.
Spock retrieved his bag and headed for the door, but Amanda intercepted him. Her eyes were wet and red.
"Where will you go?" she asked him.
"The Embassy," he said. "I can stay there. Take care of i-Chaya for me, will you? And I want you to sell my flyer after I've gone. I won't have anymore need for it." His eyes softened as he laid a hand on her arm. "Don't worry about me, Mother. I'll be all right."
"What flight will you be on?" He told her, then asked if she would see the shuttle off. "Of course," she answered. "Do you think I would miss--" Suddenly her voice broke and she pulled him down to her, quickly kissing him.
Embarrassed, he straightened and said, "Peace and long life, Mother."
"Goodbye, Spock. I love you."
Steeling himself, he went out the door. Throwing his bag into the back of the flyer, he settled himself into the pilot's seat and resolutely started the engines. The little flyer lifted gently and moved out into the street. As it skimmed toward the flyway, Spock sighed. He was Vulcan. Everything was going to be all right now.