DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Kate Birkel and is copyright (c) 1980 by Kate Birkel. This story is Rated PG13. It was originally published in Starweaver, 1980.
Uhura turned away from her console to the Science Station. "Mr. Spock," she called quietly. "There's a personal message coming in for you. Shall I patch it into your station?"
Spock's eyebrows rose. "Yes please, Miss Uhura." He flicked the intercom viewer switch, wondering who would be trying to contact him aboard the Enterprise. He had his answer almost instantly.
Sarek of Vulcan's dour face filled the small viewer. "Live long and prosper, Spock."
"Long life and peace, Father," Spock responded softly in Vulcan, wishing he were elsewhere.
"I have been informed the Enterprise will be in this quadrant for five point six standard days." Sarek's voice was supremely even. "You may present yourself and she who is now your wife to your Mother and me at your convenience. I trust you will have a reasonable explanation for this latest escapade."
Outwardly stoic, Spock replied, "I shall discuss the matter with Christine."
Neither Sarek's mien or tone of voice changed. "There is nothing to discuss, Spock. I am expecting you." The viewer blanked out.
* * *
Watching Spock and Sarek exchange greetings, Christine was reminded of two dogs sniffing before tearing into each other. Both men were rigidly erect and coldly polite. Christine risked a quick glance at Amanda, who was standing to one side a little behind the Ambassador, as she herself was standing in relation to her own husband. It was the first time she had done so. Spock had told her it us not necessary, but she had wanted to start the relationship with her new father-in-law without any more friction than already existed.
Amanda's face was peaceful, her posture relaxed as she looked back at her daughter-in-law. Christine hoped she was projecting much the same image of polite unconcern.
"Christine," Spock said to her gently.
Christine took a deep breath, then stepped forward to place her hand against Spock's. She inclined her head briefly to Sarek, then spoke the Vulcan words of greeting to an older relative.
Smoothly, allowing no hint of surprise to mar his expression, Sarek responded in kind, then Amanda expressed her greetings. Christine wished the floor could open up and swallow her. The Ambassador and his wife were not unknown to her, but the circumstances of that first meeting were in no way similar to this one at all. This time, she was an intruder in their home ground, the woman who had stolen their son.
* * *
"Christine, would you like to come with me upstairs to freshen up?" Amanda asked gently in English. "You must be tired after your trip."
Christine opened her mouth to deny any tiredness, then closed it. She glanced quickly from Spock to Sarek. "Of course, Lady Amanda," she agreed pleasantly. "I thank you for your concern."
Amanda nodded to the two men. "If you will excuse us for a few moments."
"You are excused, wife," Sarek said.
The two Human women retreated gracefully from the living room.
* * *
"So, you chose to disobey me yet again." Sarek's words were spoken with a heaviness that chilled Spock to the bone.
"It was not a matter of obedience." Spock stared back at his father, willing himself to remain calm. "You sent me a list of four names. I simply chose to marry one who was not on that list."
"T'Pau and I did not randomly choose those four names." Sarek was rigidly controlled. "Each of those women had something to offer our family. The bonding was necessary for you, but also of grave importance to the family. You have not served us well in this matter."
"And what did T'Pring bring to our family?" Spock demanded harshly. "The first Kal-if-ee in generations. I nearly murdered my Captain and friend because of that woman. Would you have that repeated?"
"It would have not been repeated," Sarek replied, unruffled. "None of those four women would have been so foolish as to let emotion lead her astray."
"And what about me? Did any one of those four want me for myself or for the position marriage with me would have offered?" Spock retorted. "Would she have tolerated the Human contamination in my genetic background for the sake of marrying into our family?"
"There has never been any question of your Vulcanness." Sarek glared at his son. "You were bred to the Vulcan way. It has only been since your defection to Starfleet that you have turned from Tradition. Had you remained on Vulcan and taken your proper place at the Academy, the woman T'Pring would not have rejected you."
Spock's mouth tightened. "We have all been through that before! I am not a Vulcan. I am only half-Vulcan, and Vulcan chose to reject me for that. T'Pring would have chosen the Kal-if-ee whether I remained on Vulcan or not. It was my Humanness she could not accept. Christine accepted both halves of me without question or fear. The family has no say in this matter."
Sarek turned from his son in order to conceal the unVulcan rage in his eyes. "The family is all! We needed an alliance to strengthen our position. You have been away too long and have lost contact with the present political situation on Vulcan. T'Pau has struggled for many years to pursue a course of moderation in regard to the Federation. Yet there are those who perceive danger to our way of life if we continue in active participation in Federation affairs. Your marriage to a Vulcan woman of good family would have put a stop to some of the talk. Instead, you have done the very thing calculated to aggravate the Conservatives."
Spock stalked around to confront his father, no longer bothering to hide his anger. "Your marriage didn't?" he asked deliberately. "Yours is the precedent."
"You forget yourself," Sarek said coldly. "It is not my marriage we discuss -- but yours."
"And I say you have no right to interfere in my life!"
"I am your father."
"when it is convenient for you!"
* * *
Meekly, Christine followed her hostess into the small guest room, vaguely aware of a sense of discord in her mind. The mind link with her husband was still new enough that she was unable to filter it out at will, and thus still bothered by it on occasions like this. Spock had assured her the day would come when she could exercise more control over what she sent and received through it, and had taught her some basic mind techniques to deal with it.
"Spock and Sarek need some time alone," Amanda explained gently, taking a chair by the open window. "I know this is most uncomfortable for you, but I believe it will pass given enough time."
Christine summoned up a smile. "I hope so, Lady Amanda."
"Your husband and his father are very much alike." There was a glint of amusement in Amanda's grey eyes. "Bullheadedness seems to be a family characteristic."
Christine's reserve melted. "I have known your son for many years," she said gravely, her eyes twinkling in response to the older woman. "Both Dr. McCoy and I concur he is the worst patient on board the Enterprise."
"He had the ideal model to observe."
Christine's smile faded. "What is going to happen?" she asked anxiously.
"A logical discourse on filial obedience and obligation," Amanda sighed. "Followed by a period of mutual sulking."
"You're not upset?" Christine queried in disbelief.
"They are both adult Vulcan males," Amanda explained in a reasonable tone of voice. "There will be no physical damage." She changed the subject. "Tell me about the wedding. Spock's message tape was not very informative."
* * *
The evening meal was a silent, miserable affair for Christine. Seated at the table across from her husband, she was perfectly aware of the tension lurking just below the surface calm. Maybe it would be better if Spock allowed her to return to the ship while he finished the discussion with his father. Without her presence, the two men might be better able to settle their differences.
Abruptly, Spock pushed his chair back from the table and stood up. "Christine, you haven't seen the gardens yet."
"The meal is not finished," Sarek said.
"My wife is upset," Spock replied evenly. "I am going to take her outside to give her a chance to recover."
Mechanically, Christine stood up. "Thank you, Spock."
* * *
In the dim light of the orange Vulcan dusk, Spock guided his wife to a bench in the center of the gardens. Firmly, he pushed her down on it.
"I'm sorry, Spock," Christine whispered raggedly.
"What for?" Spock asked, one eyebrow rising slightly. "You are not the cause of my father's unreasonableness." He laid a hand on his wife's head, drawing some of the unease from her.
Christine leaned against her husband's tall, lanky frame, grateful for the support. "I can feel how much this is bothering you," she said softly.
"Do not concern yourself," Spock replied lightly. "This argument has been in existence for over thirty years. Sarek of Vulcan's son should be like Caesar's wife -- above all criticism. Right now, he is angry. Not because I married you, but simply because I did not make a politically advantageous marriage. Any wife not of his choosing would have met with the identical reaction." He slid into the seat, next to Christine, his arms catching her in a firm embrace. "Sarek and I will either settle this thing tonight, or you and I shall return to the ship and never come back here."
Christine put a hand up to touch Spock's face. "You have already been through that once before, Spock. Is it necessary again?"
"I trust not. Hopefully the situation will be resolved short of that point."
Out of the darkness, Amanda approached them. "My son, your father wishes to speak with you again. I will sit with Christine for a while. He is in the study."
Spock rose in a fluid movement. He paused long enough to reassure his wife, and then was gone. Amanda took her son's place next to the apprehensive Human woman. "My dear, marriage to a Vulcan is not the easiest thing in the world." Amanda's words were gentle, yet inexorable. "Spock has a position to uphold on this planet and you must learn how to fit in here. T'Pau comes to visit tomorrow. You must not disgrace Spock. He may not appreciate the value of discretion in this matter, so you must for him."
* * *
Spock stood outside the closed library door for a few moments, marshaling the inner defenses needed for a second confrontation with his father. Finally, he knocked on the door.
"Enter," Sarek's voice ordered.
Squaring his normally slumped shoulders, Spock opened the door and strode into his father's kingdom. "My mother informs me you wish to converse with me."
"You may be seated," Sarek intoned.
Spock ignored the command, standing instead, both hands loosely clasped behind his back. "What did you wish to discuss?"
"What do you intend to do now that you have been bonded? Are you going to give up this Starfleet foolishness to return hone and take your proper place in our society?" Sarek asked in a voice of calm reasonableness.
Behind his back, out of Sarek's notice, Spock's clasped hands clenched. "I believe I made it clear in my first letter home I had resumed my commission as a Commander in Starfleet and First Officer of the Enterprise. The bonding changes nothing. I have every intention of remaining in Starfleet."
Silence descended between the two men. Sarek rested his elbows on the desktop, steepling his hands. Spock continued to stand easily, gazing unconcernedly at the top of his father's head.
"Spock, you are being unreasonable," Sarek finally said. "Vulcan faces grave political problems. Your aunt and I need all the support we can muster to hold the forces of Conservatism at bay. It is time you grew up and accept your duties and responsibilities to your family."
"I will not return to Vulcan!" Spock declared through tight lips. "My life is no longer here and has not been for the past twenty-five years. I am an officer in Starfleet, and I will not give that up."
"You are a Vulcan and a member of the clan Xtmprsqzntwlfb." Sarek's voice rose a bare notch. "At this moment, that is more important than Starfleet."
"Not to me," Spock retorted. "I serve under a Captain whom I respect and call friend. I find my duties aboard the Enterprise eminently satisfying. My wife also enjoys her position aboard the ship. I see no reason to leave."
"A position can be found for your wife on Vulcan if she feels it is necessary," Sarek said.
"My wife worked hard for many years to create her own position. I will not demean her by offering a make work career on Vulcan."
"A wife's duty is to her husband!" Sarek insisted. "Your mother has been content with what Vulcan has to offer her."
"I respect Christine too much to force this upon her." Spock took a breath, struggling to maintain his control. "I respect myself too much to come back here either. On Vulcan I would be Sarek's half-breed son. In Starfleet I am Spock."
"It is because you are my son you must return." Sarek rose from his chair, putting himself at his son's eye level. "Further disobedience in this matter will not be tolerated. You have already made the mistake of bonding with a Human woman... " He got no further.
Intense rage burning in his eyes, Spock leaned across the desk toward his father. "You will not speak of my bonding in that manner! You will treat my wife with courtesy and respect. I have not brought her here to be ridiculed and browbeaten by your notions of propriety."
"And you will not speak to me in that insolent manner!" Some of Sarek's own anger permeated the room's tense atmosphere. "I have the power to disinherit you and your descendants for all time."
"You have used silence as a weapon before," Spock taunted him. "Will you do so again? This time there will be no reconciliation and you will lose your unborn grandchildren."
The threats hanging in the air between them, both men glared at each other.
* * *
Hands knotted tightly in her lap, Christine still sat on the bench in the garden, oblivious to the small night sounds surrounding her. Amanda had departed several minutes earlier, leaving her guest with much to ponder. Somehow, here on Vulcan, an already complex relationship was being further complicated. Marriage to the Enterprise's First Officer was totally different than bonding to a son of the family of Xtmprsqzntwlfb.
"You are still upset, Christine." Spock seated himself next to his wife, possessing her restless hands in his own. "There is no need for you to be."
"I am concerned for you." Christine said softly. "You had another argument with your father."
A rueful look glinted in the brown eyes. "Yes."
"Your mother tells me T'Pau is coming to visit tomorrow."
"There could be several reasons for that, Christine," Spock said slowly. "I will not speculate. But I do not want you to fear T'Pau. For all her exterior appearance to the contrary, she is a very kind person. You may find yourself liking her."
"I hope so, Spock," Christine sighed.
"In any event, we will be leaving tomorrow." Spock squeezed her hands reassuringly. "You have done quite well so far."
* * *
The next morning, as Christine joined the other three for breakfast, Spock shot her a quick, suspicious glance. She had taken time to dress her long, dark hair in the elaborate Vulcan fashion and had chosen a formal Vulcan garb, borrowed he supposed, from his mother. He noted the barely perceptible look of approval bestowed upon his wife by his mother, and decided the older woman had had a hand in the younger one's transformation. He didn't know whether to be pleased or not. He had certainly never required it.
When the silent meal was over, Spock drew his wife aside into the living room. "Christine, you didn't have to dress like this. Your normal mode of dress would have been sufficient."
Clear blue eyes gazed at him steadily. "it's a small thing, Spock, and it may help prove to your aunt that you didn't totally disgrace yourself by bonding with a Human."
Spock nodded, accepting the gesture in the spirit in which it was being offered. " I am pleased, Christine."
* * *
As T'Pau's air car drew up in front of the residence, Spock and Sarek stepped forward to greet the old woman. Both Amanda and Christine hung back decorously, then followed their husbands at the prescribed three paces as they escorted T'Pau into the living room.
Once there, T'Pau swung around to face her errant nephew. "Your father tells me that once agin, you have chosen Starfleet over Vulcan, Spock. Is this correct?"
Unwavering, Spock faced his favorite relative. "Yes, T'Pau, this is correct. I do not believe Vulcan is ready to accept me for what am rather than my genetic heritage."
"Very well, Spock." The old woman said firmly. "You are forgiven this time, as you have been forgiven before. Your continuation in Starfleet deprives us of your support here on Vulcan, but does provide us with a valuable example of Vulcan contribution to Federation affairs. Of course, if would have been wiser for you to return home and bond yourself to a Vulcan woman, but that cannot be helped now. Present she who is your wife to me."
Feeling like a foolish child caught in the performance of yet another mischievous prank, Spock turned to Christine and held out his hand. "This is my wife, Christine."
Generations of Chapel breeding stiffening her back, Christine stepped forward, and placed two fingers against Spock's. With her other hand, she made the formal Vulcan salute. "Live Long and Prosper, aunt of he who is my husband." She greeted the other woman in flawless Vulcan.
T'Pau returned the salute. "Long Life and Peace, wife of my nephew." Christine dropped back three steps again, eyes properly downcast.
"Your choice does you much credit." T'Pau sent a serene look at Sarek. "The Chapel family is most suitable to be joined to ours, since you insisted on following your father's example. The connection will do us no harm."
Hands steepled at his waist, Sarek gazed off into space, refusing to be baited by his older sister's teasing. He had spent the night meditating upon his son's vehement words of the previous day, and had drawn the reluctant conclusion he must yield in this case. His son had been lost to him once before. He would not risk a repetition.
"Amanda." T'Pau commanded.
"Yes, sister of my husband," Amanda replied calmly.
"You are prepared to surrender the Charythin?"
"Yes." Amanda moved to a table to pick up a small metal chest Christine had not noticed being there the night before. Reverently, Amanda placed the box in T'Pau's waiting hands.
"Spock, as is your right as eldest son of the eldest son, you may present the Charythin to she who is your wife."
Spock stepped forward to receive the metal chest from his aunt.
He returned to face his wife. "This is the Charythin, the scroll of the Clan Xtmprsqlntwflb. It contains the written records of our family from the earliest days until the days of Surak. As the wife of the oldest son, you are now guardian of our traditions."
Christine gingerly accepted the chest, unsure of her part in this ceremony. "I thank you, my husband," she said after a brief pause. "I will endeavor not to bring shame to the traditions." Apparently satisfied with the response, Spock reclaimed the chest and placed it on the side table. That seemed to be the signal for the ending of the formal part of the visit. Amanda went into the kitchen to get some refreshments, while Sarek led his sister to a chair.
"Spock," Christine muttered i n her husband's ear, "what was that all about?"
"You are now accepted as my wife by my family," Spock explained, his eyes betraying his relief. "You will be entered in the family records as such, and our children will be accorded the full rights and privileges of a member of our family if they wish to exercise then."
"And if they hadn't given me the Charythin?" Christine struggled with the alien word.
"Then we would never have returned to Vulcan," Spock replied easily. "The insult to you and me would have been unforgivable."
Christine closed her eyes for a brief moment. "But that means you would have cut yourself off from your family for the rest of your life."
"Yes. But there would have been no alternative." Unconcerned for the rest of his watching family, Spock brushed a gentle hand across his wife's cheek. "However the situation did not arise so you must not dwell upon it, Christine."
"What do I do with it?" Christine gestured toward the Charythin.
"Now it goes back Into the family vaults until it is time for you to give it to our eldest son's wife."
"Spock!" T'Pau's sharp voice interrupted their low voiced conversation. "Bring Christine to me. I wish to speak with her."
"Yes, Aunt," Spock murmured dutifully.
Christine schooled her face to impassivity as Spock led her over to stand by T'Pau's chair.
The old woman's eyes raked her sharply for a few brief moments. "Don't be foolish child." T'Pau's voice moderated itself. "You are not a Vulcan. It is not necessary for you to pretend to be one. After all these years, I have learned to accept Human emotions. After all, you are not the first Human to be bonded to this house."
A delighted smile lit Christine's face.