DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of J. M. Lane and is copyright (c) 1999 by J. M. Lane. This story is Rated PG.


J. M. Lane

At this point in time, Spock hated being Vulcan -- or at least one aspect of being Vulcan: his photographic memory. A memory which rarely allowed him more than a few hours of peaceful sleep or tranquil thoughts nowadays ... a memory which constantly reminded him of those he had known, loved and lost, dogging him constantly, no matter how painful the thoughts were. Had he not endured enough pain in his life for a dozen people?

Granted, his life had improved markedly upon his reaching adulthood, after a nightmarish childhood, made somewhere near bearable by the love and presence of his Human mother, Amanda, and his beloved sehlat, I-Chaya. On the Enterprise, Spock had met the other three Humans destined to play major roles in his life -- James Kirk, Leonard McCoy and Christine Chapel. The first two had been his closest friends; the third had eventually become his wife and mother of his children.

Unfortunately, roughly a century after their first meeting, only Spock was left to remember the bittersweet experiences they had shared together -- both in their professional and personal lives. However, he much preferred to think of when they had all been together, not of now, when all his loved ones were gone and he was alone again. The pain and emptiness he endured just knowing this was all but unbearable, and had it not been for the support of his children and grandchildren, he could not have faced even one more day.

Still, despite the pain he was enduring, he would not have traded one moment of all he had shared with his friends and beloved, lost wife ... not for all the treasures of the Universe -- for to him, the memories of the time spent with his mother, Jim, MCoy and Christine had always been (and always would be) among the most precious things he possessed.

The thought of Jim prompted Spock to mentally travel back in time thirty years ago, to when he had first heard of his friend's death. It had taken years for him to effectively deal with that loss, the largest personal loss of his life up to that point -- and even now, it still wasn't entirely behind him. He frankly doubted it ever would be.

He could not have been more grateful for the love and assistance of his mother, McCoy (who had known and loved Jim as much as Spock himself had), as well as Christine and their children. All but Amanda had attended Kirk's memorial service with him at Starfleet Headquarters, but she *had* sent her sympathies and a large bouquet of yellow roses. He could never have survived his grief without their support.

They had had to go after McCoy to set right what he had inadvertently changed in Earth's past upon beaming down to the Time Planet under the influence of a massive overdose of the stimulant Cordrazine -- actions which had destroyed their future (and how it had affected Jim) standing out most prominently in Spock's mind. They had been in 1930's New York for a week, subjective time, having gone through the Guardian of Forever, and it was near the end of that time that they learned of McCoy's presence in the past.

He had told them later that he had arrived approximately three days prior to their discovery of him, subjective time, and that Edith Keeler had been caring for him in a back room of the Mission, which served as her office. In fact, the day he'd arrived, she'd taken him there scant seconds before Spock had come out to serve soup, sandwiches and coffee to the homeless, jobless people.

But that was irrelevant compared to what had happened shortly after Kirk had left Edith across the street from the Mission upon learning of McCoy's presence and yelling for Spock as he ran. As if on cue, McCoy came out the door of the Mission -- and as Edith started across the street, a moving van headed for her, on a rendezvous with destiny. McCoy attempted to go to her, intending to save her, but Kirk knew that he could not allow it.

He and Spock had discovered that if Edith had lived, the U.S. would have delayed entering World War II long enough to enable Germany to develop nuclear power first, and thus allow them to take over the world and doom millions, including themselves; as a result, space flight would never get off the ground and none of them would ever be born. Even so, Kirk would rather have died himself than allow Edith to die ... but he had no choice. Spock's heart had gone out to his friend, but there was no way he could change matters -- simply tell him the truth as gently as possible.

Spock would never forget how McCoy had demanded to know why Kirk had stopped him. "Why did you stop me, Jim? I could have saved her! Do you know what you just did?"

With one part of him, Spock was strongly tempted to box the Doctor's ears; another part couldn't blame him for his ignorance of the facts -- and fortunately, it was this part which guided him when he finally replied, "He knows, Doctor. He knows."

When they had returned to the Time Planet, the remaining landing party gave the Captain strange looks, wondering what in the universe had happened to him to make his face take on such an expression of mixed pain, anger and frustration. Kirk didn't seem to hear Uhura when she said that the ship had called and asked when they wanted to be beamed up. They'd looked at Spock and McCoy for answers, but neither gave any explanation, either.

There was a long silence, then in a tightly controlled voice, the Captain said, "Let's get the hell out of here." Uhura flipped her communicator open and gave the go-ahead, then everyone was beamed up.

Spock knew that death was a part of life, but had consistently kept the idea of the mortality of his Human friends, wife and mother at a safe distance, refusing to allow himself to dwell on it. He fully expected to outlive most, if not all, of the Humans he had known and/or loved -- but that knowledge wouldn't make it any easier for him to endure their passing. Then, to top things off, his mother had died a mere six months after Jim, the event coming as an emotional "double whammy" when he had received the message from his father.

He had been angry that Sarek had not informed him of his mother's precarious condition in time for him to spend her last days with her, but when the two met for her funeral, Spock accompanied by McCoy, Christine and their children, the younger Vulcan could tell that his father was every bit as devastated by Amanda's death as Spock himself was ... even though the older Vulcan would not allow any of them, even Spock, to offer condolences.

Spock couldn't help feeling sorry for him; it was most regrettable, but still Sarek's choice to push them away. Amanda was all Sarek had ever had in the way of friend, lover, bondmate, and confidante -- but Spock had had McCoy, Christine and his family with her to fall back on.

This particular incident occurred on stardate 3843.4, en route to the Babel Conference. Sarek had suffered a near-fatal heart attack while aboard ship and Spock and McCoy had argued that the older Vulcan needed "cyrogenic open-heart surgery" due to the differences in the construction of Vulcan and Human hearts. The younger Vulcan had initially been willing to give blood for the surgery, but backed out at the last minute when he learned of the attack on Jim by one of the Andorians, considering it more important to stay in command of the ship in Kirk's absence, even if it meant risking his father's life.

That had been unacceptable to Amanda, so she had gone to Spock in his quarters to plead with him to reconsider. The first thing she said after he admitted her was, "Spock, you must turn command over to someone else."

He turned to face her. "Mother, when I was commissioned, I took an oath to carry out duties and responsibilities, which were clearly and exactly specified."

Amanda didn't give up. "Any competent officer can command this ship. Only you can give your father the blood transfusion he needs to live."

Neither did Spock. "Any competent officer can command this ship under normal circumstances. The circumstances are not normal. We are carrying over 100 valuable Federation passengers; we are being followed by an alien ship and subject to possible attack. There has been murder and attempted murder on board. I cannot dismiss my duty."

"Duty?" Amanda shot back. "Your duty is to your father!"

Spock turned away and hung his head. "I know -- but this must take precedence. If I could give the transfusion without loss of time or efficiency, I would. Sarek understands my reason."

"Well, I don't," Amanda retorted. "It's not Human."

Spock whirled around, a pained look on his face.

"That's not a dirty word. You're Human, too. Let that part of you come through. Your father's dying!"

"Mother, how can you have lived on Vulcan for so long, married a Vulcan, raised a son on Vulcan, without understanding what it means to be a Vulcan?"

"If this is what it means, I don't want to know," she threw back, her voice breaking as she turned away.

"It means to adopt a philosophy, a way of life that is logical and beneficial. We cannot disregard that philosophy merely for personal gain, no matter how important that gain might be."

Amanda was too stunned and furious to speak. How could Spock say that after all he'd gone through because of Vulcan philosophy? Where was the 'benefit', either to him or Sarek, if it kept them apart? And Spock obviously didn't seem to realize that in the process, he was also denying another tenet of Vulcan philosophy -- their high regard for life! She had to ask herself, how would he have reacted if the price of upholding his precious logic had been Kirk's life?

"Nothing is as important as your father's life," she insisted.

As stubborn as ever, Spock continued. "Can you imagine what my father would say if I were to agree -- if I gave up command of the ship, jeopardize the lives of hundreds of people and risked interplanetary war ... all for the life of one person?"

Amanda's hurt and anger bubbled up inside her as she thought, You'd do it in a nanosecond for the Captain, wouldn't you?

"When you were five years old," she began, "you once came home, stiff-lipped, anguished, because the other boys tormented you, saying you weren't really Vulcan. I watched you, knowing that inside, the Human part of you was crying. And I cried, too. There must be some part of me in you ... some part that I still can reach!"

Spock turned away again, eyes closed and head bowed in pain.

"If being Vulcan is more important to you, then you'll stand there, speaking rules, Starfleet regulations and Vulcan philosophy -- and let your father die ... and I'll hate you for the rest of my life."

Spock turned around, speaking one word in an anguished voice: "Mother..." He could scarcely bear the tears in her eyes or on her face, but forced himself to ignore them.

"Go to him now. Please," she almost begged.

"I cannot," Spock returned slowly, quietly.

*You mean you WILL not," Amanda thought, equally anguished, frozen for a moment -- then stepped up and slapped her son with all her strength.

After his mother stalked out of the room, Spock went to the door and put one hand on it, in emotional turmoil as he stood there, head bowed. With one part of him, he ached to call her back and apologize, then do as she wished, but his sense of duty to both Starfleet and Jim was stronger ... and he acted accordingly. If Sarek died, that would have to be accepted, as would his mother's animosity toward him for refusing to give the blood which would have saved his father's life. He could only hope that one day she could find it in her heart to forgive him, but wouldn't blame her if she never did. His mother was an exceptional Human, but Spock doubted that even she could forgive such actions toward Sarek and herself. And it would certainly take a long time before Spock could forgive himself for hurting her so -- even if it meant doing his duty to Jim and Starfleet.

Then, twenty-five years ago, there had been an urgent call from Earth to their winter home on Vulcan. Christine had taken the call, returning to the living room where her husband waited, her face streaked with tears as she threw herself into his arms upon reaching him. She sobbed brokenly as he held her, stroked her silvery hair and crooned soothing words, continuing to cry despite his best efforts to comfort her. He didn't know what else to do, however, so he simply allowed her her grief.

It was a good quarter of an hour before Spock led his wife to the sofa and they sat down. Christine was silent in his arms after her sobbing ceased. She simply held him tightly, savoring his warmth and closeness, the gentle strength of his arms around her, his love and concern washing over her through their matrimonial bond of fifty-plus Standard years.

They had married shortly after the Genesis incident in 2291. Their twin children, Sotar and T'Lyrah, had been born in mid-2292. Spock had been 65 Vulcan years of age at that time, equivalent to a Human in his thirties, whereas Christine had been in her early 50s in Standard years, the borderline age to be able to have children in the 23rd century; both were thankful that she had gotten pregnant so quickly after their marriage, in a matter of three months.

All their friends that could possibly be there were there when the twins were born. Christine had to remain in the hospital several days after their birth, since she'd had a Caesarean; McCoy had advised against a vaginal birth because of the likelihood of complications due to her age. When she awakened after the birth, Spock was sitting by her bed. When their eyes met, he had smiled just for her, then raised her hand to his lips and kissed it.

"Hello, my love," she whispered, weakly returning his smile.

"M'chejan," he whispered back.

"Have you seen our children?" she asked.

"We all have," Spock returned, eyes sparkling with warmth and joy. "They are--"

"Beautiful," Kirk smoothly continued, then McCoy and Uhura said, "Simply exquisite."

"When do I get to see them?" she wondered.

"Very soon," Spock promised, squeezing his wife's hand.

Uhura sat on her other side, smiling. "I want to babysit the first chance I get," the dark woman insisted.

"Oh, you will ... once I've had a chance to spend some time with them," Christine promised. "Maybe Jim and Leonard can even help you. After all, two babies are going to be quite a chore."

"Not a chore -- a treat," Uhura insisted. "We've all waited so long for this that it'll be worth every moment of work we put in, looking after them."

"Amen," Kirk and McCoy concurred, speaking as one. They would have said more, but the door to Christine's room opened and a smiling nurse came in, wheeling a double crib with the babies inside.

Kirk noticed first. "The babies are here," he informed them, going over to pick up the nearest one, who turned out to be T'Lyrah, born ten minutes before her brother. He took her to her mother and placed the infant girl in her mother's arms. "Meet your daughter, Christine."

The new mother moved the blanket away from the tiny face. "You were right. She's exquisite -- and has my nose, my lips..."

"--and Spock's ears, eyebrows and bone structure," the Captain finished.

Christine traced her child's features, whispering, "Hello, my darling. I've waited so long for you," then kissed the baby's forehead. "She also has brownish- blonde hair," she observed. "I wonder what color eyes she'll have."

"We'll have to wait a few days for that," McCoy put in. "Meanwhile, here's your son."

He stepped up to Christine, holding another small bundle, even as Kirk took the tiny girl back and replaced her in her crib.

A moment later Christine repeated her earlier actions with her baby son. "He has brownish-black hair, and it wouldn't surprise me if he had his father's eyes as well as his ears and brows." She sighed deeply. "Just wait until your folks see them, Spock!"

"Indeed," the Vulcan returned quietly. "We may travel to Vulcan as soon as you have recovered from their birth, and the children are old enough to travel."

"Then it's a good thing I have several weeks maternity leave still to come," the female doctor remarked. "I don't think Leonard would let me or the children out of his sight before it's over!"

"You got *that* right," McCoy confirmed, even as everyone else laughed -- and Spock allowed himself a smile.

When Christine at last lifted her head to meet her Vulcan husband's soft, brown eyes with her tear-filled Human ones, Spock felt it was time to obtain some answers to his numerous questions regarding her behavior. He brushed her wet cheeks dry with gentle fingers, then kissed them before speaking.

"M'chejan, may I ask what was in the call you just received that prompted your tears? It distressed me greatly to be unable to ease your pain."

Christine raised his hand to her cheek, then held it there a moment before kissing it tenderly. "I'm sorry, love, but the news came as such a shock that I just couldn't stop myself. As to who called, it was Heather, Leonard's oldest granddaughter. She told me that he ... died in a Starfleet hospital in Atlanta yesterday."

Spock was momentarily stunned into silence, forcing back his instinctive grief at the sad message and making himself speak. "How -- did he die?"

Christine closed her eyes in pain before speaking again, then opened them. "It was natural causes, Heather said. After all, Leonard was over 140 years old. 149, to be exact, as of his last birthday. Remember how we went to the party Joanna and her children gave for him last year?"

The Vulcan allowed himself a smile at the thought.

When they'd caught up with him, the long-retired doctor's face had been a mass of wrinkles and his hair snow-white, but his wit (not to mention his tongue) was as sharp as ever. He could no longer walk very far without tiring, so he spent at least half his time in an airchair -- but when the couple had seen their old friend, he had been on his feet ... moving slowly, but at least under his own power. He had hugged Christine with all his strength, releasing her to stun Spock even more with an equally vigorous hug, something the Vulcan hadn't thought him capable of at his age.

"So, how's mah fav'rite couple an' their kids doin'?" he asked, his Southern accent having become quite pronounced since he had grown old. "It's great t' see y'all again."

"Just fine, Leonard," Christine assured him with a smile.

"Indeed," Spock concurred, crossing fingers with his wife.

"Glad t' hear it. Always knew you two'd be great t'gether if Chris could ever talk ya around, Spock," McCoy jabbed affectionately at his Vulcan friend. "How long's it been now?"

"Fifty-four point three-seven-five years," Spock informed him.

"Whoever thought y' could go th' distance, Spock?" McCoy jabbed again. "But f'r both y'r sakes, ah'm sure as Hell glad you did. Saved y'rselves a whole lotta grief."

"Whoever thought you could ever live as long as you have, Leonard?" Christine remarked. "Hardly seems possible that you're 149 years old."

"Ah'm a doctor, Chris. It's t' be expected," McCoy returned matter-of-factly. "Where're y'r kids?" he finally asked, looking around for them.

"Over there, talking with Nyota and Hikaru," Christine told him. "Let's go join them. Spock and I haven't greeted them yet, anyway."

"Yes, let's," the old but still feisty doctor agreed. It took a while to reach them, since Spock and Christine matched their speed to the slowness of McCoy's; he was unable to believe his eyes at how much Spock's son resembled him, and how much of a beauty the Vulcan's daughter was.

Still, he wasn't entirely surprised, since Spock and Christine were a handsome couple and would naturally have kids who were world-beaters -- and not only in looks. After everyone had greeted each other and made small talk for a while, there came a call from the other side of the crowded room.

"Daddy! Where are you?"

McCoy scowled upon recognizing his daughter's voice. "Damn. Ah thought ah could keep one step ahead o' her, but Jo's tracked me down again. By God, ah hate that damnable airchair. What little ah can still do, ah want t' do under muh own power!" McCoy tried to hide behind his friends, but Joanna, accompanied by her oldest daughter, Heather, found him anyway.

With Heather's assistance, they soon had him bundled into the airchair despite his loud protests -- but all present knew McCoy's bark was worse than his bite and therefore weren't too concerned, especially when they saw Joanna's face and saw the love for her father mirrored there, a love as great as their own. Both were immensely grateful that Leonard had managed to mend fences with his daughter and that she, her children and grandchildren were looking after him now. One should never grow old alone...

Spock came back to reality at this point to find his wife curled up next to him; he kissed the top of her head as it rested on his shoulder, holding it close for a time before resting his cheek on it. She sighed contentedly, then continued to speak. "Heather said his age seemed to catch up with him all at once during the last six weeks of his life. That's when they put him in the hospital..." Her voice trailed off.

Only then did the Vulcan recall that he had promised Jim that he would keep in touch with McCoy, riddled with guilt that he had been so remiss in his duty to both his friends. As if losing Jim hadn't been painful enough, now this had to happen. Both his closest friends and mother were gone. Christine and the children were all he had left.

"When does the funeral service take place?"

"Next Thursday, I believe, at 1100 hours, at Fleet HQ in San Francisco, then burial will take place in Atlanta, in the McCoy family plot in the main cemetery there the following day," Christine told her husband. "I promised Heather we would be there, come Hell or high water. I'm also told that Nyota, Hikaru and Pavel will attend. Unfortunately, Scotty is believed lost. The last I heard, his ship, the Jenolen, crashed on a Dyson sphere en route to the Norpin Retirement Colony in 2294."

She buried her face in her husband's chest; he squeezed her comfortingly. "Hardly seems possible that both Jim and Leonard are gone now, and that Scotty may also be dead." Her voice was so quiet that even Spock's still-keen ears could scarcely hear her. The Vulcan also suspected that Christine would begin crying again if she spoke normally. "Thank God, we still have each other, our children and grandchildren," she finished.

Both had busy schedules -- Spock in his teaching positions as both an instructor of Advanced Scientific Theory and Applications, as well as Advanced Computer Science and Programming at the ShiKahr branch of Starfleet Academy, which he alternated with his duties as a faculty member of the Vulcan Science Academy during the winter semester. As for Christine, she was Chief Assistant to the Vulcan Healer who had looked after the Science Academy faculty, staff and students for as many years as she could remember.

Still, it had been Leonard who had delivered their two children, one of his last medical duties, done as a favor to them, before he retired for good in 2293. To honor their long-time friends and colleagues, they had added both Kirk and McCoy's names to their son's Vulcan name, and both Amanda and Christine's in naming their daughter after *her* Vulcan name.

Both were now long since grown, with children of their own; Christine made a mental note to notify Sotar and T'Lyrah about Leonard, then see if they could come pay their last respects to him. Meanwhile, she and Spock had their own plans to make on that score...

Spock's memory then jumped ahead to when he had lost Christine -- now almost twenty years in the past. Her death at age 113 in 2350 had been the final blow, the catalyst which had prompted him to become an Ambassador in 2368 at age 130.

It was precisely five years after McCoy's death that Christine's own age caught up with her. She had become progressively more fragile as more and more of her body functions were replaced by machines ... so much that Spock was forced to put her in the hospital shortly after her 113th birthday. The only strength between them now was their marital bond, which had only deepened with the passing of time. Which reminded him -- there were now only three point three-seven-five weeks until their 60th anniversary, but at the rate Christine was deteriorating, Spock felt sure she would never live to see it. Intellectually, he had known this day would come; he had known for years, ever since they had been married, all the time they'd raised their children and continued their careers ... but now... She had been forced to retire for health reasons two point six-two-five years ago; it was fortunate that she had kept up her health insurance to help cover the costs of long-term medical care ... and what her insurance didn't cover, Spock's did.

Christine and the children had been the beneficiaries on his life insurance right from the start. Since her health had begun going downhill, Spock, their children and sometimes grandchildren cared for Christine ... until it became apparent that this was her last illness and that she needed professional care that only a fully-equipped hospital could provide.

However, at Spock's request, her room had been made over to look like their bedroom at home; he even stayed with her when he wasn't working -- just holding her, melding with her and sharing her bed, all the while counting her breaths and heartbeats like most people would count sheep, as well as combing out her long, silver hair after the nurse had washed and bathed her. He had always loved burying his face in it and inhaling its fragrance -- and never failed to kiss her good night.

Nowadays it seemed as though he couldn't get enough of holding and kissing her, all the while trying to keep the knowledge that her days were numbered at arms' length ... but rarely succeeding for more than a brief time. There had even been times when he had held her after she'd fallen asleep and allowed himself to cry, the thought of losing her more than he could bear.

She was the last thing he had left to live for. He loved his children and grandchildren, of course, but knew he would never have had them without her. His life, his heart, his mind, their bed would be so cold and empty once she was gone. Her loss would leave a void in Spock's life that he knew he would never be able to fill again, no matter what he did. His body might live on for several more decades, but his heart, all his love for life, would die with her. All he would have left to sustain him were his children, grandchildren -- and his work.

As time passed, it was becoming progressively more difficult for him to conceal his grief ... so much so that Spock was convinced that he would soon be unable to. Sotar, T'Lyrah and their children were all very much aware of his emotions -- not only regarding Christine but themselves -- but he had admonished them never to ask about them unless he volunteered the information.

Sotar and T'Lyrah became increasingly concerned for their father as time passed and their mother's condition gradually worsened. They, along with their six children (two sons, four daughters) visited her often ... and simply by observing him, they knew that only their mother's steadfast devotion to their father and their strong marital bond had sustained him through all the tragedies of his life -- devotion which he seemed to literally live on. As much as they and their children loved him, none of them could be sure that anything they could do or say would be enough to bring him through the time of sorrow he and they would soon endure.

Christine did indeed make it to their 60th anniversary, and was even lucid enough to mark the occasion ... but because of her precarious condition, the best they could do was visit her, hold her hands and reminisce about their years together. Spock had even allowed them to observe him giving Christine an anniversary kiss and their finger-crossing. The most any of them had ever seen was either finger-crossing or an occasional embrace. His actions gave them the distinct impression that Christine didn't have much longer to live, as indeed she didn't.

Shortly after Sotar, T'Lyrah, their spouses and children departed, Christine slipped into what Spock sensed was the final coma prior to death. Her heartbeats gradually became more and more erratic and her breathing more and more shallow over the last three days of her life.

It got so Spock rarely left her side for more than a few minutes; he wanted to be with her when it happened, all the while continuing to hold, kiss and feel her next to him.

It was shortly after midnight on the third day after their 60th anniversary that Christine told him through their bond that she was dying -- that it was only a matter of minutes now. Tears filled the Vulcan's eyes as he held his wife and kissed her hair passionately.

//Christine, my wife, my beloved ... you cannot die! How can I possibly live without you?//

//My love//, she thought tenderly. //As long as I live in your heart, in your memory, and those of our children and grandchildren, I will never die. I have treasured every moment of our lives together, both the good and the bad. What mattered was that we saw it all through together. I only ask one more thing...//

//Anything,// he returned sorrowfully.

//Kiss me goodbye...// Her mind-voice faded even as she thought this to him.

Spock gathered his wife's almost weightless body into his arms and kissed her one last time, knowing he would never forget the feel of her in his arms, the taste of her kiss, for as long as he lived. Upon releasing her, he brought her fragile hand to his cheek, then his lips, to again kiss it passionately.

Christine smiled lovingly at her husband one last time, her eyes glowing as she thought her last words to him: //I'll be waiting for you, beloved, with Jim, Leonard and your mother. Farewell...// With that, she took one last breath and was gone.

//Christine!// the Vulcan cried in anguish as he felt the severing of their bond; it felt as though it had been literally pulled out by the roots, leaving an agony which penetrated to his mind and heart, even his very soul. He gathered her still-warm body into his arms again and buried his face in her hair, sobbing un- controllably. //Christine, my wife, come back! Please come back! I need you -- I cannot live without you!// But only silence answered him. Silence and almost unbearable pain.

Spock had no idea how long he sat there holding his wife's body and sobbing; he only knew when he stopped. After composing himself, he laid her down and covered her after touching her cheek and lips with his fingertips one final time -- then called the nurse to report her death before leaving to make the arrangements for her funeral and such before calling Sotar, T'Lyrah and their children to inform them of Christine's passing.

There was nothing left for him in the Federation now, nothing more he could do for any of the ones he had loved, including his wife and children, so it was logical that he get into a profession where he could do something to help others.

(He had left Starfleet shortly after Jim and McCoy had retired in 2291, as had Christine, in order to devote herself to being Spock's wife and the eventual mother of his children. Technically, Spock could have remained in Starfleet because of his considerably longer life-span, but the idea of serving there without Jim and McCoy was most unappealing to him.)

Spock had contacted Sotar, T'Lyrah and their children before his scheduled departure, explaining to them the reasons behind his sudden decision to become an Ambassador and what he intended to do -- travel to Romulus and do all he could to end the three millennia-old schism between Vulcans and Romulans. His contact on Romulus, Senator Pardek, whom he had met at the Khitomer Conference in 2291, was awaiting him there, and they would work together to bring about re-unification.

He assured his children and grandchildren that he would try his best to get word to them as to his status as often as possible, but warned them that it would be infrequent at best. He also knew all too well what both his friends and Christine would have said about what he planned to attempt, but also knew that they would not have tried to dissuade him once his mind was made up, since it was nearly always a lost cause.

He had had a physical shortly before he left, assured that because of his mixed blood (and fairly advanced age), that it was unlikely that he would have to concern himself overmuch with the madness of pon farr now that he was well into late Vulcan middle-age. [His last full pon farr had occurred two point seven-five years before Christine's death, in mid-2349.] In a Vulcan male aged past 125 Vulcan years of age, the frequency and potency of the cycles de-creased until the age of 175 or thereabouts, until they all but ceased. After that point, the individual would feel only vestiges occasionally, easy to conceal and control, instead of experiencing an uncontrollable madness.

In addition, Spock had no interest in remarrying, so this news suited him just fine, unlike his father, who had married another Human woman within five years of his mother's death -- a woman as different from Amanda Grayson as night was from day. They didn't get along very well, since Perrin was 100% for Sarek and therefore not inclined to cut Spock any slack if the latter did anything she deemed disrespectful to his father.

At best, the relationship between Perrin and her erstwhile step-son was strained, but the younger Vulcan noted that she seemed to make Sarek happy, and with a part of himself, Spock couldn't blame his father for feeling a need to fill the void in his life left by Amanda's passing, nor his dislike of the idea of spending his last years alone.

Sarek was now over 200 years old, a handful of years into Vulcan old age ... and therefore needed someone to look after him, since he was showing symptoms of Bendii Syndrome, a disease very similar to Alzheimer's in Humans. (In fact, it was generally referred to in Federation medical circles) as "Vulcan Alzheimer's", even though recent medical advances had all but eradicated Alzheimer's in elderly Humans and Humanoids.)

In Vulcans, the disease attacked the center for emotional control and logic in the brain, the metathalamus, its presence characterized by gradual loss of emotional control. Symptoms included sudden bursts of emotion and irrational anger. Worst of all, the loss of control could be telepathically projected by the affected Vulcan to others around him, causing them to act the same way.

Whatever his differences with Sarek, however, Spock didn't think he could stand to stick around and watch his father gradually deteriorate after remembering Sarek's long, illustrious diplomatic career. He had seen enough death, experienced more than enough pain and sorrow, to last him the rest of his life. He also knew how his father felt regarding Pardek and re-unification, so the younger Vulcan saw no sense in even meeting with Sarek one last time, even though he knew all too well how Perrin would react to his leaving, as well as the fact that he might never see his father alive again. Even now, he recalled their last confrontation on the subject...

However, Spock also recalled what had happened when he and his friends had arrived at Vulcan after his rebirth on Genesis. Of course, at first he had only recalled bits and pieces ... but what was most memorable was what Jim had told him had happened shortly before the fal-tor-pan, when the Vulcan High Priestess T'Lar had asked Sarek what he wanted her and her Acolytes to do, then what the Vulcan Ambassador's answer had been.

Kirk had declared that he would never forget that time as long as he lived ... the time when T'Lar said, "Sarek, the body of thy son breathes still. What is thy wish?"

"I ask for faal-tor-pan, the re-fusion," Sarek had replied.

"That has not been done since ages past -- and then, only in legend. Thy request is not logical."

"Forgive me, T'Lar," Sarek had returned softly. "My logic ... is uncertain -- where my son is concerned."

To Kirk, that was the full-blooded Vulcan's way of expressing his love for his son -- and though Spock was naturally skeptical after his seemingly callous treatment at Sarek's hands, he now couldn't help wondering if Jim had not been right after all about how Sarek supposedly regarded his half-Human son.

If his father could love his mother, as Spock had long been aware, despite the older Vulcan's logical facade, was it not possible that Sarek had indeed loved him too, not only then, but every moment of his life? Spock didn't like to think that Jim could ever be wrong about anything, so he had to at least entertain the possibility that Sarek had indeed loved and felt pride for his son and his accomplishments; he simply considered it unVulcan to openly express love or pride in one's children.

Amanda had been the only one who had ever known the truth, at least where Sarek's true feelings for Spock were concerned ... and no doubt she had wished for years that she could have told Spock how his father truly regarded him -- but one, the younger Vulcan would not have believed her, and two, even if he had, both were too stubborn and opinionated (to the detriment of both Sarek and himself), considering it pointless to admit that either still harbored anything resembling affection for each other ... if there had ever been any such feelings to begin with, at least on Sarek's part -- and nothing she said or did could budge either one of them.

Not until now ... and even then, Spock only half-believed it, mainly because Jim had kept after him to follow his own logic and consider all the possibilities. Even at that, the younger Vulcan could not have told his father how he felt about him, even if he'd thought Sarek would believe him or accept it, much less confess his own true feelings for his son.

Still, even as Spock prepared to leave Federation space, quite possibly for the last time, he very much regretted sacrificing his last chance to tell Sarek how he felt about him ... at least while the older Vulcan was still alive. But even if neither Sarek nor Spock ever learned the truth from the other's lips, both would always carry the love for the other as well as the knowledge of such with them for as long as they lived ... Amanda, Kirk, McCoy and Christine having been the only others besides themselves who had ever known of it.