DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Toni Cardinal-Price and is copyright (c) 1977 by Toni Cardinal-Price. Rated PG. Originally printed in Eel-Bird Bander's Bulletin #1.

The Decision

Toni Cardinal-Price

"Mother? Mother, I'm back. I have news."

Amanda turned quickly at the sound of Spock's voice, and a peculiar tightness clutched at her heart. His voice sounded almost exuberant, and she feared the news he brought, for if it pleased him, it would mean that he had been accepted, and would be leaving soon.

She stood up and pulled off her gardening gloves, brushing the sweat from her forehead. Looking down at her garden, she wondered how she had ever managed to get anything to grow in the rocky, sandy soil. But some desert plants of Earth had survived, with her care, and flourished. Brushing particles of dirt from her jumpsuit, she turned and walked into the house. Her son met her there. She saw the sparkle in his eyes and her fear was confirmed.

"Starfleet has accepted me, Mother. I leave next week."

She tried to mask the sorrow and perhaps she succeeded, for he didn't seem to notice. She put her hand out and gave his arm a small squeeze, pretending pleasure. "I'm happy for you, Spock, if it is what you want."

The tall youth in front of her tilted his head slightly in confusion. Then one eyebrow rose in an expression Amanda had grown immensely fond of. "It is what I have chosen, Mother," his deep voice returned evenly, and Amanda noticed that he had successfully controlled his exuberance. "I shall be in my room studying if you require me." He started to leave, then halted and turned to her again. He looked almost uneasy. "Is Father still in council?"

"Yes," she answered softly. "I will tell him when he returns."

"No ... no," her son interrupted, taking a deep breath. "I shall inform him." And he turned and walked away.

Amanda watched her son disappear into his room, realizing then that her child had become a young man almost without her notice. She gave a small sigh and allowed the worry she felt to wrinkle her brow. Sarek would disapprove, she was almost certain, and she felt a familiar pang of pity for Spock. Perhaps Starfleet would be right for him, perhaps he would find some degree of acceptance there. She hoped desperately for that, although it would be painful to see him go. But then it was painful for any mother to watch her child leave home - any human mother, that was, she corrected herself. She turned and went back to her garden.

* * *

Less than an hour passed before her husband returned. She was busily at work and unaware of his arrival until he drew up behind her. She whirled and looked up, startled. "Sarek!"

"My wife," he greeted her and held out his hand, helping her to her feet. He looked up at her with concern. "You should take caution not to remain in this heat for too long a period of time. Your face is flushed."

"Yes ... well, I was getting ready to come in anyhow." She turned and looked down at the flower bed. "Beautiful, aren't they?"

Her husband nodded and said almost proudly, "Because of your diligence it is so."

Amanda smiled openly for a moment, then wiped the perspiration from her face.

"Come, my wife," Sarek demanded gently. "Enough of this heat for you today. I shall get you a drink."

Amanda offered no protest and followed him into the kitchen. In a moment a glass of cool water was placed before her on the table.

"Is Spock home?" Sarek asked, watching her drain her glass. "I have news that I wish to give him."

"He's in his room," she returned, stiffening slightly. "I'll go get him." But before she had a chance to rise, Spock appeared in the doorway.

"Father." His quiet voice held a small hint of tension as he bowed his head slightly in proper respect. "I heard you and Mother speaking. I did not realize that you were home."

"I have only just returned, Spock. I have news for you."

Amanda regarded her husband closely, her brows drawn in confusion. Sarek sounded almost pleased.

"You have been accepted by the Science Academy to begin your preparation as a teacher there," the older Vulcan stated evenly. The pride in his voice was unmistakable.

Amanda drew a sharp breath and clasped her hands together in her lap. She watched as her son glanced at her with slightly panicked eyes. Then she saw him straighten and turn back to his father. He held out a sheet of paper.

"I am honored by the Academy's acceptance of me, Father. However, I wish you to read this."

Sarek's eyes showed confusion as he took the paper from Spock and read it. The confusion grew. "Starfleet? I was not aware that you had tested for Starfleet."

"Yes, sir. I tested last month. I did not wish to tell you ... in case I failed."

"I see." Sarek nodded. Then he handed back the paper. "It is of little matter now. The Science Academy has accepted you, you will be attending there."

Again Spock's eyes turned to Amanda, seeking courage. "No, Father," he said finally, unevenly. "I wish to attend Starfleet Academy."

Amanda closed her eyes for a moment, then looked up to see the shock in Sarek's eyes.

"Starfleet!" Her husband's usually quiet voice reverberated through the room. "You have been accepted the Science Academy, Spock. You shall ultimately teach there, as generations of our family have done. The discussion is ended." And Sarek headed for the door.

"No, Father." Spock's voice was low, but determined. "I do not mean disrespect, but I will attend Starfleet Academy. It is my choice."

Sarek had stopped by the door and kept his back to Spock. Amanda watched her husband take a deep breath, and knew he was summoning control. When he turned to them, his face was expressionless, but his eyes suggested disapproval.

"There has always been a member of this family teaching at the Science Academy," he stated evenly.

"Yes, I realize that, sir," Spock returned. "And I regret that I shall be the one to break that tradition."

Sarek's eyes narrowed and he turned his face away again. There was a long, uncomfortable silence, then: "When do you leave?"

"Next week."

The older Vulcan nodded once, then left the room, making no further comment. Spock turned to his mother and she saw the uncertainty in his eyes. She reached out and touched his arm. "I'm sorry, Mother," Spock said quietly. "I did not mean disrespect."

"I know, Spock, I know." And she tried to smile bravely, but inside, she was anguished. How much damage had Spock's and Sarek's disagreement done to their relationship?

* * *

The week that followed was one of misery for her. Spock and Sarek avoided each other purposely, and the tension in the house was overwhelming. She trod the line between the two, offering encouragement to Spock and understanding to her husband. In too short a time Spock's departure date arrived.

She silently helped Spock pack the few articles he would take and, in the privacy of his room, hugged him, feeling his discomfort at the embrace, but exercising her motherly right.

Sarek accompanied them to the spaceport at Amanda's request, but remained coldly impersonal, disregarding Spock completely. When the time came finally for Spock to board the shuttle, he stepped in front of his father and held up his hand in the formal Vulcan salute.

"Live long and prosper, Father," he said properly.

Sarek glanced at him coldly and raised his hand to return the salute. No accompanying words were uttered, and after a moment, Spock lowered his head in acceptance. He turned to his mother and nodded also, his eyes not quite able to mask the hurt his father's snub had inflicted. "Goodbye, Mother," he said finally.

Amanda bit her lip and forced back the tears, then touched his arm and nodded. She watched the tall, thin figure of her son turn, then walk away.

"Come, my wife," her husband's voice broke her stare, and she glanced up at him. His eyes were watching her steadily. "Let us return home."

Amanda nodded absently, then turned her head once more in Spock's direction. The departing figure continued on its way with a determined stride. Amanda closed her eyes momentarily and said a silent prayer for Spock. Then she turned and followed her husband.