DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. This story was written for the enjoyment of the author and no infringement of any existing copyright is intended nor is any profit realized or expected. The story contents are the creation and property of Carol Hart and copyright 1986 by Carol Hart. It is reprinted from Vault of Tomorrow #9.



Here Be Dragons

Carol Hart



Amanda awoke in darkness and for an electrified moment lay perfectly still, confused, roused so abruptly from sleep by piercing terror that she was completely disoriented. It took her a few seconds more to realize that the fear was not her own and by that time she was thoroughly awake and had thrown off the soft quilt that covered Sarek and herself. It was only then that she heard the sound, whispering across the quiet room, no more loudly than the sigh of the desert wind outside.

"M'aih..."

Pausing outside Spock's door for a moment while the lights brightened around her, she listened again, but there were no further sounds coming from within. Gently she stepped into the dim interior and stood looking at the tiny huddle that crouched among the tumbled bedding. He was lying on his side, his eyes closed too tightly, the long, silky lashes dark against his cheeks. His breathing was shallow and fast and alarmed. Amanda went on staring. Spock muttered in his sleep, turned on his back and presented her with an expressionless profile. Even at three years old he had learned that Vulcans did not show emotion and was quite prepared to be brave if the circumstances warranted it. But remembering her own childhood, the irrational fears that darkness brought, Amanda whispered, "Spock?"

For an instant the breathing checked, became erratic, started to settle. Amanda went around to the side of the sleeping dais, knelt down so that her face was almost level with that of her son, and just stared. That was a strategy that Spock had never been able to withstand. Sarek would have been taken in completely -- but Amanda, never! In fact Sarek would not have needed to pass beyond the door to be satisfied that Spock was sleeping soundly. However, within moments he opened his eyes gratefully, stretching out small arms to his mother.

"M'aih..."

Amanda held him close, crooning and soothing, while a shaft of extraordinary pain shot through her. Over the past six months Spock had slowly but increasingly been adopting a touch-me-not reserve that had hurt and alarmed her. Now he seemed to be the loveable pixy-eared bundle she had shared every possible waking moment with since his birth.

"What is it, baby?"

Spock, trembling suddenly under her hands, his thin arms clinging desperately around her neck, refused to answer at first. But as she continued to hold him the stranglehold eased and he babbled a word that she only half understood.

"What, child?" she asked.

"Dragons!" Spock said clearly in English, letting go of all pretense. "Dragons, M'aih!"

Amanda smiled gently. "Thee had a dream about a dragon, is that it?"

Spock shook his head violently, recollecting confused memories of pursuit and terror. "Lots of dragons. They were going to eat me, M'aih."

He looked fearfully around the shadow-filled room, clutching at her hand.

"Silly boy," Amanda chided softly, soothing his ruffled hair She slipped her hand free and started to rise from the floor. "As if I'd let anything hurt my baby! Go to sleep now. I will be nearby if thee needs me."

But Spock reached out to her again.

"No!" he whispered huskily, sitting upright. "If you go, they will come back for me."

Amanda sat down beside him, drawing him nearer to her heart. "It is all right. Nothing can get in here. There are only three of us, so thee knows thee is safe. Just shut thy eyes and go to sleep. I will stay a little while."

But it was half an hour before his eyes finally closed and he subsided into nervous slumber, and even later still before his grip on her fingers loosened and she could slip back to her own room.

* * *

Sarek was still asleep when she returned to his side. She looked earnestly down at him. The dark hawk-like face was relaxed and remote, though stripped of the aloof mask that was his usual public expression, and she felt a moment of bitterness at the sight of his easy tranquility. Men were such fools -- even the best and most logical. Particularly the best and most logical. He had never considered Spock's probable reaction to the news that he was going to be sent away. Certainly he had been surprised at her own.

* * *

"Send Spock away?" she had questioned with a calmness that she did not feel. "Away where, my husband?"

He had looked at her steadily as if he shared none of her misgivings, felt no doubts. "Spock is Folh'kaneh, Amanda. Thee knew that sooner or later this time would come. Our son must learn independence."

Yes, she had known. She remembered Sarek's measured words before Spock's birth, but she had thought hat moment years away yet.

"He is only three years old, Sarek. Must independence come so soon?"

"This is a harsh world, my wife," he answered with maddening patience. "It is only logical that our children learn early the tenets of their civilization. Thee is a wise mother, an able teacher, but now Spock must learn other lessons."

They talked long into the night and she wondered to herself when he had become disillusioned. When had pride overtaken his tolerance, prejudice suppressed his compassion? Their child was to have become a bridge between their disparate cultures and now all Sarek seemed to want was a carbon copy of himself.

"Spock is a baby still, husband..." she had murmured in a whisper that was like a shriek of pain as she lifted her face to him and asked him to reconsider in a low and level voice, without emotion or reproach, matching his dignity with her own. She had never before asked him for anything, but she knew her child, knew he was not yet ready to stand alone. But he was not swayed.

"Sirak and T'neah will take him until he is old enough to attend S-scholi'on, the Hall of Learning at Chin'ohr. Do not fear that he will be misused, my wife. Spock will be treated exactly like Sirak's own."

Which was exactly what she feared. Sirak was Vulcan and so was T'neah, proud of their logic, their mastery of arie'mnu, the suppression of all emotion. What would Spock be like after three years in their care? But it had been impossible to explain to Sarek, to convince him that it would be wrong to send Spock away. Perhaps now he would realize their son was like no other, something she had thought he already understood.

However, when the nightmares continued on every second or third night, Sarek took it calmly in his stride. "Naturally, Spock will feel some anxiety. The idea is still new. Pay no attention and it will pass."

* * *

Amanda was not as sure and when the familiar cry for M'aih came whispering out of the darkness once more, Sarek finally pushed away the soft, enveloping quilts and slipped on his night-robe. He looked at Amanda expressionlessly.

"Stay here, my wife. I will take care of this."

Amanda lay still for a moment, contemplating the luxury of undisturbed sleep -- but curiosity overcame her and she left the sleeping dais to follow Sarek.

"Spock," she heard him say quietly to the child lying stiffly awake in the bed, "there are no dragons present in this house. I will prove this to thee."

Amanda, standing by the door, could imagine the indecision on her son's face as he cast a wary glance around the shadowy room. He knew there were dragons, whatever Sarek said.

"Come, get up, Spock. We will look together." Sarek threw back the bedcovers and lifted Spock to his feet. There followed a thorough inspection of the room with Sarek patiently leading a reluctant Spock, opening the drawers of the chest against the wall, even pushing it away to look behind it. Finally, Sarek sat on the edge of the dais and drew Spock toward him.

"Did we find any dragons, Spock?"

Spock stared solemnly at his father. "No, Pate'ras."

"I am pleased to hear it," Sarek said drily. "And now that we are sure there are no dragons, we are all going back to sleep."

He placed Spock under the bed quilts and touched him lightly on the forehead with one long finger. "Goodnight, Spock."

* * *

Back in his own room, Sarek took off his robe and climbed into bed beside Amanda. "Firmness and logic were all that was needed," he murmured, closing his eyes and was instantly asleep.

Amanda wondered if it were that simple, but it was true that there were no more noises coming from Spock's room. She felt a mixture of relief and ... sadness that the spark of imagination could that easily be extinguished. Eventually, though, she too drifted back to sleep.

* * *

Spock, silent but still awake, stared unblinkingly into the dim reaches of his room, only too aware of the dangers waiting to emerge as soon as he shut his eyes. He knew too that whatever happened, he could never call out for his mother again. It occurred to him then that what he was afraid of most was not the shadows of darkness, or even dragons. It was Sarek. Given the choice between dragons and Sarek, he knew that he would sooner choose dragons every time.

After a while, as his uneasy amusement faded and his spatial sense picked up every little wavering current that circulated the room, he needed some sort of reassurance. Quietly, he got out of bed, pulled on something warm and crept stealthily downstairs.

* * *

Once more Amanda woke with a jolt. "What was that?"

Sarek, jerked back to consciousness by Amanda, made a sound suspiciously like a groan. Could his wife and son be engaged in some kind of conspiracy against him? He sat up, disturbed for the second time that night, and found that Amanda was already out of bed.

"Listen," she admonished him sternly, crossing to the window.

"If there was a sound, it will be i-Chaya on the prowl, my wife. Please put out the light and return to bed."

"I-Chaya hasn't yet learned to open the downstairs shutters, my husband," she murmured, mimicking his tone exactly as she threw open the window and peered out into the wild garden shrouded now in darkness. A draft of cold air found its way around her slight figure and whirled about Sarek's naked shoulders. He shivered convulsively.

"Amanda..."

She ignored him and hurried out onto the landing, listening outside Spock's door.

Sarek propped himself on an elbow, the draft still whistling uncomfortably through the room, aware that if he went back to sleep before his wife returned, he would be liable to charges of selfishness, lack of parental thought, and possibly even sloth! But as the seconds lengthened into minutes and the breeze became a gale, he finally gave up the struggle to disassociate himself from his clamorous surroundings and followed her onto the landing.

Spock's door was open and Amanda leaned against the door jamb looking in, a tender smile upon her lips. Quietly, Sarek joined her there, peering over her shoulder into the darkened room. Spock lay curled in a ball beside the considerable bulk of i-Chaya who was sprawled in luxurious enjoyment across the sleeping dais. Spock was sleeping deeply, and on his face was a look Sarek had not seen for many days -- a look of peace. It seemed his son had found his own logical solution to the problem of nocturnal dragons. Sarek only hoped that i-Chaya was up to it.

Gently he reached out a hand to Amanda, who placed her first two fingers upon his outstretched ones and together they tiptoed out. Silently they made their way downstairs where Sarek stirred the firepit embers into life.

Amanda set the water kettle over the flames to boil. In accord for the first time since his proposal to send Spock away, neither spoke until the ch'aa was made and they were seated before the fire sipping from fragile bowls.

Looking at Sarek's face in the reflected glow of the firelight, Amanda thought, He's changed. She did not know in quite what way, but the arrogance had disappeared and he seemed to be more the man she had taken as her bondmate.

He gazed back at her, his eyes aloof but kind. "I owe thee an apology, my wife."

"Oh?" Amanda questioned, knowing very well what he meant. The fire settled more firmly in the decorative firepit.

Sarek took another sip of ch'aa, staring thoughtfully down at the burning coals. "Yes. I ... I ignored thy advice when thee cautioned me that our son was not yet ready to take his place in our society. I apologize, Amanda."

Smugly, she replied in the time-honored way. "It is of little matter, husband. All is silence within the family. I take it that Spock will not be going to Sirak and T'neah's household?"

"Indeed," he said softly. "At least not until he has outgrown dragons! I doubt that Sirak is forbearing enough to take both Spock and i-Chaya."

Amanda grinned. Standing up, she put her hands on Sarek's shoulders. "I do love thee, my husband."

He turned his face up in a way that reminded her of Spock when he wanted to be hugged. She bent to kiss him. It was very sweet and infinitely tender -- and Sarek did not object.

"Quite illogical," he murmured and took her within the circle of his arms. They clung together in silence, their arms careful and considerate about each other. Sarek's eyes were closed, lashes dark against his skin. Amanda saw in the instant she opened her own eyes and then closed them again. At last they pulled apart.

Sarek looked down at the woman who was his companion, his bondmate, and the mother of his only son.

"Come," he said carefully, hoping she would understand. "It is time to hunt dragons of our own."

THE END

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