Disclaimer: None of it's mine. I'm just a sad little fangirl that spends her days writing fanfic and watching taped episodes of her favorite shows :(
Description: Sarek gets a glimpse of the friendship between Spock and Kirk.
Sand stirred under a dry, scorching wind. Red clouds that almost rose into the air, but as though fatigued themselves by the oppressive heat of midday, settled once more to the desert ground. It was a mild season at the time for the planet Vulcan, however, and when the long and windy summer months finally arrived nothing would beat down the sand that had so valiantly tried and failed to take flight. In those hot, wicked months the sky would fill with the haze of thousands of pounds of sand in the air, coating the planet in a blanket of red soot that managed to encompass nearly the entire planet.
No one had summers and sandstorms like planet Vulcan did. Of course, that rather generic statement had never been contested. Lack of challenge to its claim led most to believe it was therein true.
But today... now... the sands were still, the air silent. It was disconcerting, especially to the lone figure standing on a ledge that projected from the backside of the massive Mount Seleya. He had come here seeking some kind of peace, a calmness with the deeper inner emotions he was having to fight harder and harder to keep in check.
Vulcans had emotions... it was only to show them that was weak.
This old mountain, probably standing here in this very spot since before the time a bipedal creature had thought to pick up a tool, had seen many visitors. In its ancient wisdom, it gave silent and patient council to countless who had needed it. Mount Seleya was a wise old master, she had infinite knowledge, infinite wisdom, and unending patience.
She had watched the emergence of the humanoid Vulcan species become communicating, intelligent and cooperative creatures. She saw them rage at one another's throats in their barbarian ages... looking on with patience and no sense of rush even as the sands at her feet were bathed green in Vulcan blood. She saw the births of tyrants, oppressed, and the visionaries. Mount Seleya touched the ground, which touched all of Vulcan. No matter where something happened, in a detached sense Seleya knew about it.
Mount Seleya saw the birth of Surak, future leader of the pacifist movement and the advocator for the devotion to logic and mastery of one's emotions among the Vulcan people. She bore his path as he walked the desert sand to spread his word.
Mount Seleya, the massive feature itself, was the point of creation and cultivation of the now prestigious and sacred Kolinhar. Within the depths of her internal chambers she begat the Hall of Ancient Thought, where she received the katra of great Vulcans lost to the frailties of the flesh.
To the greatest, she received their flesh as well. Though the actual location was unknown, it was common knowledge that Surak had been buried somewhere on Mount Seleya... many felt the northern end of Seleya's feet.
Her experience was untouched by any living or preserved Vulcan mind. The immensity of the mountain on which he stood served to give a Vulcan reflection... a sense of perspective... a sense of humility that therein lessened the problems in their lives.
Today, however, that was little consolation for the one Vulcan standing against the backside of Mount Seleya.
The mountain had seen many of the Kolinharu linger here, the robe of the discipline back dropped against the heavy red rock not unfamiliar... in a way almost old enough to be fitting.
It was not, however, a white ceremonial robe that set against the mountain's side. It was the startlingly new blue of a Starfleet uniform.
Spock's contemplative mode was not controlled to his regular level of mastery. In fact it was barely just, though no outward onlooker would have seen the science officer's struggle. It was a battle within himself, and that was ultimately where he would handle it. It was the Vulcan way.
Science Officer Spock and second in command of the USS Enterprise did not like to admit when he had an almost emotional dilemma, but this occasion certainly seemed to call for it. So, to himself if not anyone else, he admitted it. He was troubled... and maybe worried.
These sensations were not foreign to him, but expression of them would be, so the latter he dare not and did not do. Their repression was the only course of action, but one must not discount and ignore the pull of emotions so strongly to the point that one ceased to learn from them. Even one's own body could be a teacher, and logic stated that to learn whenever one could was the most appropriate course of action. Knowledge was understanding, and understanding begat logic.
Spock sighed to himself... more of a half-sigh, but for a Vulcan as much of a sigh as a human's all-out exasperated one would have been. Spock was not above frustration... indeed, working on a starship often bred that condition. New work and unexpected quandaries were the catalyst for frustrating predicaments (not to mention the double challenge of having to work side by side with humans). Perhaps Spock had let slip some of his Vulcan control to allow himself frustration, but whether it was a lapse in his Vulcan practice or not was far from his mind today.
Spock, shoulders heavy not only from the greater gravity on Vulcan but also the metaphorical 'weight of guilt', tilted his head upward, face canted toward the burning sun above.
Without his control, his third eyelids lapsed over to cover both his irises, creating a well-adapted and perfectly evolved filter to diffuse the intensity of the Vulcan sun to his naked eyes. Spock wasn't consciously aware of the physiological feature going into action, not even noting the slight blur to the sun's outline that the third nictating eyelid caused in his vision. It was what was natural, and he was born with it... he had a lot of time to get past noticing it, needless to say.
The sun's warmth was what he sought. The rays from the near sun-star seemed to soak right into his Vulcan skin, warming his thin blood in a way it was rarely elevated in temperature otherwise. Being a Vulcan aboard a predominantly human starship had its drawbacks... one was that humans were adapted and configurated to temperatures that, to a Vulcan, were almost chilly. Of course, to his nature and species, Spock did not complain that he was constantly in a slight state of chill. If he focused his mind into forgetting the temperature for the most part and wore an insulating undergarment the starship environmental settings were acceptable. Besides, it would neither practical nor logical to ask that the ship inboard temperature be changed to better suit him when almost the entire 430 compliment on board would prefer the current 75 degrees. Spock kept his peace and learned to deal with it. After a fashion, he ceased to notice with great concentration the nip to the Enterprise air.
That did not diffuse the physical relief to actually be warm again, though. His quarters on board Enterprise were set to his liking (normally about 85.4 degrees F), but it did not compare to the submersion into the environment he was evolved to live in.
But not even the relaxing and calming warming of all his cells after months in the cold of starship space could remove his concern. Even with his eyes turned upward to the sky and mind focused on the sun as much as he could isolate the thought, he was all too aware of the stains drying to a dull rust brown on his uniform, fighting to overtake the blue as dominant color.
Spock was never comfortable with the way human's red blood turned to such a color of decay and rot so easily and quickly. And not when the blood in question was so dear... not when the drying areas that were drenched in blood on his shirt came from the body of his captain... James T. Kirk.
"If your mother saw you doing that, she would tell you that staring into the sun would blind you," an even voice intoned from a few feet behind Spock's left shoulder.
Spock did not startle at the voice so near him. It was calm and deep in candor, and Spock's adept hearing had picked up the visitor's approach long before he arrived at Spock's immediate side, though Spock had been only unconsciously aware of the new person's presence.
Now that he was addressed, however, it would not be proper to ignore. Especially so considering the Vulcan who had joined him.
Spock brought his face down, eyes moving to the figure that stood a matter of feet from him as the third eyelids coating his eyes blinked away as though they had been but a trick of one's imagination. His vision focused sharply on the regal and controlled figured of his father.
Spock replayed to himself Sarek's words, commenting in return, "If she were to stare at the Vulcan sun permanent eye damage is likely. I, however, would suffer no ill effects."
Sarek stepped closer to his son, hands held coolly together before his solar plexus... the proper and common repose of someone of Ambassador Sarek's status. As he came up abreast with his son, Sarek's far brow rose slightly and a dark twinkle flashed in his eye as the lines around his mouth softened. It was the closest Sarek came to a smile, and it was likely that even that small gesture was a result of living with an Earth woman as his wife for so many years. Spock had adopted the same slight mannerisms having had Amanda Grayson as a mother. Implications to reactions were not too outlandish, and control was still maintained while communicating a sentiment to those species less attuned to moods and thoughts of others. To have done it in front of Spock was just... habit.
Sarek mused aloud, "Earth mothers, I've found, do not wish to be told facts if they run contradictory to their instinctive parental drives."
Spock nodding, returning to his father the phrase it was tagged with, "Maternal instinct."
Sarek nodded, remaining silent.
Spock knew his father had questions... Spock would too if the situation was reversed, but Spock did not particularly wish to discuss them at the moment. He did not feel he had had sufficient time to meditate on the events that had brought them here. He had yet to let himself question what had happened to his best friend for apprehension that it might show an emotional anxiety on his part.
Perhaps that was why Sarek was here... to inform his son that the captain's injuries had been too severe... that Jim Kirk had died.
Sarek picked up on Spock's sudden unease, and it took no deductive logic to know what his concern was pertaining to. One did not usually stand about with almost the equivalent of one and a half liters of human blood on his clothes and not have concern for the victim who had spilled it.
Sarek spoke calmly, "Your captain is doing well. The priestesses expect him to recover."
Spock bit back a sigh, all too aware his father would be gauging him for a reaction to the news. Always, it seemed, Sarek was looking for the human in Spock, and not because he wished to praise it. He just wanted to know, how much of Spock was human and how much Vulcan? The constant questioning, even after all these years, left Spock continuously aware of himself around his father.
Spock worked on keeping his voice as deadpan and even as possible when he stated, "His injuries were quite extensive... the ship surgeon had feared he would not survive."
"Indeed," Sarek looked out over the sands of the Vulcan desert, "he nearly did not. That particular human, however, has proven to be quite resilient."
Spock nodded complete agreement, "That is true." Spock's stare was locked out over the desert, another thought plaguing his mind. The thought that had been secondary to his question of whether or not Jim was alive ten minutes ago. Now that Spock knew Kirk would live, the secondary unease became the first.
Sarek let Spock have his silence a long time, not so much as shifting on his feet. When he did speak, it was in a slightly more authorative tone. "You seem... troubled, Spock."
Spock stiffened at the insinuation, waiting for the next logical word 'worried' to follow and have to balance in his mind yet again if he wanted another stand-off with his father. This was the most inappropriate time for Spock to engage in verbal bickery with his father... in his agitated hidden-emotional state he was likely to say something... with connotation.
Sarek did not say it, though. He left it at troubled.
Troubled Spock could answer without fear of sounding... human... or of sounding afraid of sounding human.
"I was contemplating the events that brought us here."
Sarek glanced slowly, almost nobly over his shoulder in the direction of the ascending path he'd just walked. Sarek spoke slowly, "Your chief engineer Montgomery Scott explained to me that you were attacked by Romulans?"
Spock nodded. "The captain, Doctor McCoy, and myself along with three other security personnel were down on the planet of Beta Rana 3..."
"That is in the Romulan/Federation neutral zone, if I'm not mistaken."
"Quite... though shifted 4.56 degrees into the Federation space more than the Romulans. As is dictated in the Organian Peace Treaty addendum between Romulus and the Federation, Beta Rana 3 was not to be inhabited or militarily defended by either side. Reports of Romulan activity on planet, however, led us to suspect otherwise. While the away team was on the surface investigating, a cloaked Bird of Prey decloaked and opened fire upon the Enterprise."
Sarek nodded, "Your Mister Scott told me as much. There was apparently heavy damage before a 'counter-offense' was launched."
Spock knew the inflection on 'counter-offense' was a prod on his father's part at the Federation. Sarek never approved of ships dictating peace having the weaponry that the USS Enterprise was equipped with, and subtly made Spock well aware of his distaste. Spock, however, knew well his father's position on armed peace vessels and was not going to get into another debate with him. This encounter with his father on this unexpected detour to Vulcan had begun and lasted to this point in a civil manner... Spock was determined to leave just as neutrally as he had come.
Spock disregarded his father's goad into a heated discussion, "Forced into battle, the Enterprise had to raise her shields to defend herself."
Sarek filled in as Spock thought a moment in silence, "And transporter beams do not work when a ship's shields are up."
Spock's brow creased slightly, a faint combination of anger, frustration, and concentration creeping into his features as well as demeanor.
Sarek caught the different vibe his son was giving off and looked over at him, patiently waiting for him to continue.
Spock obliged after a long silence, "The attack on the Enterprise was synchronized with an ambush on the landing party by on-planet Romulan soldiers."
Sarek nodded grimly, lines around his mouth growing heavy as his dissatisfaction with the tale and its participants became evident. What his son was not telling him, and what he did not need to say, was that both parties were armed. The image of his son brandishing a weapon upon another intelligent life form was... appalling.
Spock turned his head away from his father, not wishing to see him as well as not wanting his expression to be seen. The events on the planet were upsetting him, though he would deny the claim if someone laid it upon him.
Sarek frowned. It was not unlike Spock to have misgivings or doubts about some of the things that went on in his life as a Starfleet officer. It was unusual for him to be so agitated by it, though. This behavior was unlike his son.
Sarek asked, "Spock... are you all right?"
Spock fought the illogical desire to snap back at his father. Instead, he kept his face turned away and stated back, "I was uninjured in the encounter."
Sarek knew that, just as Spock knew that that was not what his father had been asking.
Spock finally looked back at his father, eyes shifted to one side as though to look directly at his father would interrupt his train of thought, "I apologize for coming here as I did and insisting the priestesses see the captain. I realize it was... irrational, but at the time there seemed no viable alternative."
No viable alternative was right. Sarek had been with the priestesses when his son had brought down the starship captain for healing. When off-planet sensors had first detected a Federation starship heading in their direction, Sarek (as Vulcan Ambassador to the Federation planets) had been summoned and was present before communication distance was reached. He had, in effect, been there for the entire scenario. When communications had opened, instead of a welcome greeting or waiting for the Vulcans to greet first, the communication console had crackled with an urgent female voice, "Planet Vulcan, this is the USS Enterprise requesting emergency medical aid on-planet."
Sarek knew very well that the Enterprise was the vessel his own son served on, and it had crossed his mind instantaneously that Spock was fatally injured, for why else would the starship logically seek the aid of Vulcan healers so fervently were it not FOR a Vulcan?
Sarek's voice was calm and collected as he opened communications to the ship, "Enterprise, this is the Ambassador Sarek. Please state the nature of your request for medical aid."
The other end grew silent, as though channels were being switched, then a very familiar voice spoke over the communication channel, "Planet Vulcan, this is First Officer Spock, demanding immediate aid."
Sarek had been taken aback, internally, by his son's response. His voice had been loud and authorative... and to 'demand' of the planet Vulcan. Spock was acting as an officer in the Federation and therein was obligated to treat Federation planet members with respect and courtesy. Spock was doing neither, and that in itself gave cause for Sarek to be concerned. His initial reaction at hearing his son's voice had been to deduct that there was, in fact, nothing wrong with him. His uncharacteristic manner made him second guess that assumption.
Sarek stated again, "Enterprise, please state the nature of the emergency."
Spock answered back... almost curtly. Sarek was secretly baffled at his son's near-outburst. Sure, Spock had been prone to emotional moments as a child before he mastered his human side, but Spock was now far from being a child.
Spock's answer came back with almost a tint of anger at Sarek for the continued questioning, "We were attacked by Romulans and the captain was injured. Our sickbay has been rendered inoperable by alien fire and the captain's condition is critical."
Sarek began calmly, "Enterprise, stand by for..."
Sarek could not speak further for Spock barked, "Father! There is not time for you to hold council. If the healers do not see him now, Jim may die."
Sarek was silent a moment. Spock had resorted to speaking of their family relation while on official communication channels. That was frowned upon by the Federation, the same way private calls were not to be used on official communication channels. What really worried Sarek, however, was urgency in his son's voice.
Sarek answered, "Enterprise request granted. Healers are being summoned as we speak, transport patient to coordinates 344.629."
Sarek had been standing at those coordinates with three Vulcan healer priestesses when the team began to materialize in front of the healing temple.
Sarek had been unprepared for what he saw.
His son was with the team that beamed down. Technically, it would have been his place to stay aboard the ship as the captain was out of commission. Yet, Spock was with them.
And he had James Kirk with him.
Even before he fully materialized, Sarek saw that Spock held the injured captain. In human terms the arrangement would have looked awkward. Spock was much more slightly built than the starship captain, and if Spock were human it would not be likely he could have held the captain's weight. Being Vulcan and stronger, however, made such a feat possible.
When they fully materialized, everything took on a much more drastic tone.
Jim Kirk was limp in Spock's arms, complexion much whiter than his normal skin tone. Even his lips had a ghostly shade to them that even a Vulcan could see was not normal. Spock held the captain securely to him... the front of Spock's uniform was covered in blood... human blood.
Kirk's gold captain's tunic was ripped at the left side (the one against Spock) and his own blood smeared across his exposed skin and suit.
It was perhaps the expression on Spock's face that most unsettled Sarek. Spock's eyes were not calm... they were almost frantic, and his expression was... fear.
McCoy, the ship surgeon who had accompanied the landing party, stepped up to Kirk and Spock, checking on the captain... seeking a pulse.
McCoy turned to the priestesses and ordered, "Don't just stand there, help him!"
After that moment of inactivity, everything hurled into action. The priestesses hurriedly led the way to the hospital area, Spock swiftly carrying the captain to where the Vulcan healers led him.
Sarek was drawn out of thinking when Spock spoke to him again, bringing him back to the ledge on Mount Seleya where they stood, "Thank you... for helping Jim... the captain."
Sarek nodded, "It was the right thing to do."
Spock nodded slowly, "The Federation council will surely agree with Vulcan's aid to one of its captains considering the situation."
Sarek said in a low voice, "I did not mean it in that respect."
Spock looked at his father, getting suspicious, and rightly so. Sarek did have other outcomes in mind than gaining further approval by Federation council... Vulcan had that already as the best arbitrator to interplanetary quarrels. No, Sarek intended to bring up something much different with his son... something much more personal.
And however one wanted to phrase it, introducing the subject or springing the trap, Sarek did so. He looked up at Spock and said, "It was the right thing to do because the captain is your friend."
Spock visibly fought back any apparent recoil. It could not be denied that he wanted to, though. Sarek knew his son, at least partly, and he could see the flash of caution in his eyes.
Spock swallowed, answering calmly, "To say one has friends implies an emotional attachment."
Before Sarek could speak further Spock turned and left his father standing alone on the ledge on Mount Seleya. Spock had not excused himself from his father's company but just left. In Vulcan etiquette, that was as blatant a slap in the face as if Spock had actually touched Sarek.
Such behavior on Spock's part, it seemed, was reserved only for his father. To everyone else Spock was as polite and cordial as a Vulcan's upbringing dictated he be. His only rude gestures were directed at the one person that should theoretically be in his highest regard.
Of course, things between Sarek and Spock had never been that well off. Sarek would have attributed it to his son having too much of his mother in him, but were he to do that Spock might well outright denounce him as family and never speak to him again. They were practically at that point now as it was. It was a dilemma for Sarek. He had great affection for his wife Amanda, but it was that aspect of her in Spock that locked them so frequently as enemies. Sarek didn't see his son as his enemy, but a father frequently sees things more clearly than his children. Spock seemed to think that he and his father were rivals, and Sarek could do nothing about it.
Their current arrangement of meeting, that is avoiding personal contact at all, seemed to be the only way to keep any further disagreements from erupting. Though Sarek cared for his son, every time they met it seemed it ended in dispute and 'hurt feelings'.
So Sarek did not contact Spock, and Spock stayed away from home. It visibly hurt Amanda, but Sarek was hoping that perhaps when Spock was older he would come to understand that Sarek did not seek to be his opponent.
Sarek turned, silently leaving the ledge of the backside of Mount Seleya. Though she were often helpful, today, her council was silent and wisdom kept secret.
Sarek caught up with his wife Amanda outside the priestesses halls of the healing temple. She was conferring with one of the healers, who departed only moments before Sarek reached his wife.
"Sarek," Amanda said evenly to her husband as he reached her, "Captain Kirk has regained consciousness and is demanding to see Spock... do you know where he is?"
Sarek stopped, not to think (because he was unaware of Spock's present whereabouts), but to wonder why Kirk would want to see Spock. He of course assumed it had to do with operational talk about the ship, for which Spock would be woefully unprepared as he had not returned to the ship since bringing Kirk down. Sarek finally answered after a short pause, "No... I was with him moments ago on the third quarter precipice of Mount Seleya, but he parted company 6 minutes ago and I did not know his destination."
Amanda frowned, "Is there something wrong, my husband?" The fact that Spock and Sarek had been together was enough for Amanda to know, in all likelihood, that something unsatisfactory had come out of it.
Sarek sighed, "Spock's behavior earlier today has me..."
Sarek almost visibly scowled, "That is not what I was going to say."
Amanda smiled that soft, knowing smile as she answered, "I know... but it's what you meant."
Sarek, while he usually delighted in these little teasing games of word play with Amanda, could not entreat himself to the banter with what was occupying his mind.
Sarek stepped closer to his wife, standing by the wall as Amanda turned to face him.
"Spock seemed most agitated."
Amanda nodded, looking at Sarek a moment as though she were stunned he could be so dense, "Why, of course he was. When he arrived here his best friend was dying."
Sarek's brow rose, "Spock seems to rebuke the claim of James Kirk being his friend, to say nothing about 'best'."
Amanda smiled even more kindly to stop herself from laughing at her husband's ignorance, "Well, of course he would say nothing of this to you. For that matter, he would likely deny such claims to me."
Sarek looked at his wife, "Then how do you purport to know otherwise?"
Amanda looked around, a slight conspiring glint in her eyes, "I spent a great deal of time today, after the operation, talking with Leonard McCoy."
"And what did this Doctor McCoy tell you that would so change your mind as to how we perceive our own son?"
Amanda sighed, "About Jim Kirk mostly... it's not hard to imagine why he would be the topic of conversation."
Sarek nodded... naturally.
Amanda grew pensive, a content and wistful look coming to her face, "Spock and James Kirk are best friends without question to the doctor, who seems to be himself friends with both men. Spock and Kirk clearly place explicit trust in one another on board the Enterprise, and value each other's council highly. The surprising part, however, is that Spock and Captain Kirk associate when off-duty... did you know that Kirk plays three-D chess with Spock?"
Sarek was a little surprised, "Spock plays chess with no one."
Amanda nodded, "No one but James Kirk, it seems." Amanda looked her husband in the eye, "Sarek... I know that as a Vulcan what I'm about to tell you might be hard to grasp in its human terms."
Sarek waited silently for her to go on, mentally preparing to hear something that was without doubt going to be illogical.
Amanda sighed a moment, "On more than one occasion it seems, and to familiar people as well as absolute strangers, James Kirk has referred to Spock as his brother."
Sarek's brow creased, "This is erroneous. There is no shared genetic make-up between the two."
Amanda shook her head, "It's not about the science of it, which is why I forewarned you that understanding it might be difficult. You must remember human emotions and how much they rely on them."
Sarek nodded, stating flatly, "They seem to allow these emotions to run their lives."
Amanda nodded, "Indeed... and in an emotional context Kirk thinks of our son as a brother."
Sarek was quiet a long time.
Amanda said what he was thinking, "Considering the truth of how much we humans follow and trust our emotions, that is a bold statement for the captain to make."
Amanda's eyes jumped to life and she looked at her husband, "I was mistaken... there is a context to this that you would understand. A Vulcan interpretation."
Sarek looked at her expectantly.
Amanda smiled as she spoke, "T'hy'la."
Sarek's brows both rose at the word. A Vulcan word, used rarely for it did not occur often in such logical beings as they. T'hy'la, a word that had two meanings in the Vulcan language, almost parallel meanings that could relate just as easily to the other as they could stand apart. 'Lover' and 'brother'... James Kirk considered his son Spock his t'hy'la.
Sarek spoke the obvious question, though, "Kirk, though a fine example of a human, is human nonetheless. Because the captain sees Spock in this manner does not mean our son returns the sentiment."
Amanda nodded, "Maybe not... but I have a feeling that there's some to Spock that we don't know."
Sarek sighed, "Feeling... Amanda, I would rebuff your claims if they didn't prove correct... occasionally."
Amanda smiled, "At least you've stop calling them accurate statistical extrapolations. In the meantime, we need to find Spock."
"Is it something urgent?"
Amanda shrugged, "I wouldn't say so, the captain seems to be recovering and resting well, but McCoy's word carries great weight since he knows the patient so well."
Sarek asked, "What has Doctor McCoy predicted?"
Amanda answered, "Well, it seems that the famous Captain Kirk makes a terrible patient. The doctor expects the captain to attempt rising if he feels he could better tend to his needs himself. Apparently, when incapacitated the captain becomes quite irritable and agitated. If he's correct, then it is somewhat urgent. The captain's wound was deep and the skin graft raw... he should not get up for a while. We need to find Spock."
"I'm right here, Mother."
Both turned to see Spock moving down the hall toward him. His hands were clasped habitually behind his back and he still wore the blue Starfleet uniform tunic that was stained with blood.
Amanda frowned, "Spock... why are you still wearing that garish shirt?"
Spock stopped before his mother, blinking and looking down at his clothes as if stunned that the answer wasn't obvious to his mother.
"I am technically on duty so it would be improper of me to be out of uniform, however I had no change of clothes on planet and I wanted... was going to see the captain before I beamed back up to the ship to procure one."
Amanda still sneered in discomfort at the uniform. It was not surprising it would so startle and upset her... it was the color of her own blood that covered the blue tunic.
Spock recaptured her attention, "I overheard that you wanted to find me?"
Sarek spoke up, "Yes... the captain has regained consciousness and is asking for you."
"Then if you'll excuse me, Mother, Father," Spock dipped his head and was gone down the hall before either could think to say more.
Amanda exaggerated a shiver, "It's amazing how much blood a human can lose and still live."
Sarek looked after Spock, "It was only approximately 1.4 liters, technically a human could lose far more of a percentage of their rough seven liters of blood and still survive."
Amanda grimaced, "It was enough blood to cause distress. Go with Spock."
Amanda departed, leaving Sarek standing there alone. He didn't know why his wife had sent him after Spock, but he had to assume there was reason and followed after his son.
Spock stepped into the doorway of the healer's room. The spartan dormitory was deeply shadowed, illuminated with the soft glow of the red glowing embers in the wall nooks. The bareness of the room was an illusion and the primitive decor just that. The area was set up to invoke thoughts of the old days, in the Time of the Beginning, but hidden inside the walls behind holographic panels of the same red rock as the wall structure were a full barrage of modern medical tools and supplies. An incense burned somewhere that was meant to be an aid in meditation, to help the ill and injured establish the healing trance.
Not that it would do this patient much good. On the center table, proffered like an alter sacrifice, lay James T. Kirk.
Spock looked a good moment at the captain. He was bare-chested (the uniform top, slashed and tattered, lying in a corner), his left side bandaged and faint patterns of blood showing where the wound had been closed and healed. In optimum practice, the faint blood stains shouldn't be there, but Kirk had probably shifted or stirred, and so soon after closing new skin over the old the new flesh was thin and easily torn. It was NOT too hard to imagine that Kirk had woken restless.
Kirk, who had his eyes closed, opened them as though sensing a presence and looked over at the door.
"Spock... I was wondering when you'd get around."
Spock stepped into the room, "I only just learned you asked for me," Spock sat on a block near the bed designed to serve as a seat, unsure how long this visit was going to last so forgoing formality, "I was on Mount Seleya."
Kirk cocked his head slightly, "Troubled?"
Spock frowned faintly, not sure what he was more paused by, the fact that he was troubled or that Kirk would know so effortlessly. Spock took in a breath, "Pensive," he correctly weakly.
Kirk studied Spock a moment, then asked, "You all right?"
Spock would never cease to tire of the way humans asked the wrong people the wrong questions... knowingly. Of course, his father had done the same moments ago... perhaps it was something more than human... or less if it harked back to primeval days for both species.
For Spock, however, his captain deserved more of an answer than his own father did, "I was physically uninjured, yet I am not at peak performance level." It was apparently all the answer Kirk needed, and good thing too, for regardless of whether or not it was enough to tell Jim what he wanted to know it would have been all Spock said.
James Kirk looked awful. His immediate threat might have been ended, but he was still short a couple liters of blood and that would take time to replenish, not to mention the anesthetic he'd been given was probably still making him feel off kilter. The Romulan phaser that had been used on the captain had been some kind of new weapon meant to tear nasty holes in people, because the typical phaser used heat and would have cauterized as it cut... Kirk had been ripped open and left to bleed out. A barbaric tool for a ruthless race of warriors. Those matters could be handled later, however.
Kirk closed his eyes, resting a moment, then said without opening his eyes to look at his first officer, "It wasn't your fault, Spock."
Spock would have glowered if the light was just a little lower and he could have been insured of not being seen, "No... it was yours, but the catalyst for your action was me."
Kirk grumbled under his breath, shaking his head faintly as he said back, "It was my decision. Calculated risk, you might say."
Spock crossed his arms over his chest, "I'd hope, in the future, you would confer with me before pulling such a 'stunt'."
Kirk smirked, opening up his eyes, "Why, Spock? Hoping? That's not like you."
Spock was silent a moment, "Perhaps 'hope' was the wrong word."
Kirk chuckled, but only shortly before the pain it caused to radiate in his side stopped him. He winced, then said after he'd gotten control over his body, "Don't worry Spock, next time something like that happens again, when I have the chance I'll check with you first."
Spock knew he had won no wars with that, "Jim... that situation and any others like it would offer no time for council."
Kirk nodded sarcastically, of course he knew that already. Then he looked over at Spock innocently and stated, "Well, then I guess you'll just have to trust me."
Spock dropped his arms, resigned that he would get no where with the captain on this. "Very well. Have you spoken to McCoy?"
Kirk cleared his throat, "Yes... the phaser fire grazed between my left sixth and seventh ribs, cutting in three inches and tearing into my left lung. They patched up my lung and closed my skin... other than that no real damage and I'm expected to make a full recovery."
Spock said heavily, tone leaden with meaning that only Spock and Kirk would know, "If that had been me, the blow would have been fatal."
Kirk looked up at Spock, meeting his eyes squarely as he replied in a serious, steady voice, "I knew that."
Spock stood, "I have no doubt that Doctor McCoy has prescribed rest for you... I shall leave you to do so."
"My God Spock, get out of that uniform, you look you've been out slaying humans with medieval swords."
Spock ignored the jib, "While I still do not concur with your actions on Beta Rana 3... I suppose I should thank you for them as well."
Kirk grew sincere again, "Not necessary, Spock. I'd do it again."
Spock sighed faintly, "I know... I'll see you later, Jim."
Spock nearly ran into his father leaving Kirk's room, so preoccupied with his thoughts he had been that he did not see Sarek until he was right on top of him.
Sarek had heard almost all of what the two had said, though he'd not meant to eavesdrop. He had been waiting for Spock and since he did not want to interrupt he was left standing back where he couldn't help but hear the conversation. He had considered leaving and finding Spock later, but he knew Spock too well. He would make special efforts to avoid his father, so if he did not catch him now the Enterprise might be on its way before Sarek could do anything about it.
Spock blinked up at his father, saying nothing.
Sarek asked calmly, "Spock... might I have a word?"
Spock stood up straighter, "We had several on Seleya."
Sarek retorted evenly, "I would ask a few more."
Spock nodded, "Very well."
Father and son walked for nearly five minutes in absolute silence, unconsciously agreeing to head to ShiKahr, one of the nearby capital cities were Sarek and Amanda lived and where Spock was born and grew up.
It wasn't until they'd passed the local ShiKahr hall of records that Sarek asked, "Spock, what happened on Beta Rana 3?"
Spock looked slightly at his father, "The away team was attacked by Romulan soldiers."
Sarek often found himself more exasperated with his own son that the illogical humans he often worked with, "I meant that as a question of how your captain was injured."
Spock stopped, collecting his thought as Sarek stood nearby waiting patiently.
Spock began, "We were investigating what appeared to be a make-shift Romulan outpost when we discovered that it was a set-up, a trap to gather the Federation personnel in one area. Before a withdrawal could be ordered we were surrounded by 13 Romulan warriors who had no doubt been watching us from the moment we beamed down to the planet. Word came down to us via the Romulan team leader's communique that fire had been opened upon the Enterprise and combat had been engaged. We were, obviously, left to the discretion of the on-planet task force until someone won the space battle. No doubt because I was a Vulcan so physically similar to them and seen as a greater enemy for being in Starfleet, the Romulans chose to particularly focus their hostility towards me."
Sarek thought, "By that reasoning, logically, it should have been you that came away from the confrontation injured and not Captain Kirk."
"True, the entire time on the planet I was quite aware that I would be the primary target if planetary hostility broke out between Enterprise crew and the Romulans."
Spock began walking again, Sarek falling into step beside him as Spock continued his recount, "The Romulans soon received word that the Enterprise had effectively disabled their tactical mechanisms as well as weapon controls and were calling for immediate surrender. This, naturally, excited the Romulans into a state of particular hostility and they made it quite obvious they meant to exterminate the Federation personnel on planet."
Sarek glanced at a quiet Vulcan woman passing them in the streets, then said, "I still fail to see how it happened that you were not injured."
Spock continued hesitantly, "The Romulan soldier in charge of the on planet force began to organize a pattern of execution for us and trained his weapon on me as the first to be eliminated."
Sarek looked a long moment at his son, imploring him to finish for, as it was, the story made little sense.
Spock's voice took on a note of duty, as though reporting to a superior instead of talking causally to his father. It was one of Spock's oldest defense mechanisms, he turned a personal moment into a matter of work. "The Romulan's fire upon me coincided with actions on Captain Kirk's part. Captain Kirk stepped between myself and the Romulan executioner, taking the hit meant for me and therein incurring his injury. 1.3 seconds later the Enterprise beamed us up, having secured the Romulan ship's surrender and lowering combat-mode shields to allow transporter use."
Sarek was silent, thinking.
Spock stopped, "The rest of the account, you know. In the initial attack when the ship's shields were down deck 15, where sick bay is located, suffered heavy damage and was unprepared to deal with an injury to the extent that Captain Kirk had. Vulcan was the nearest Federation planet and their help practically guaranteed. Now, if you'll excuse me, Ambassador Sarek, I must return to the ship for the time being."
With that, Spock took his leave of Sarek, moving back the way he had come from the streets, his hand moving to retrieve the communicator from his belt.
Sarek wondered if Amanda had known this all along. It was hard to imagine that she would hide information when she could have easily told him (for no form of treachery was in her nature, though this was not quite a dire situation), but then again, Amanda wasted no opportunity to get Spock and Sarek to speak to one another. If this did happen to be part of one of Amanda's reunion efforts between father and son, then it would stand to reason that there was more she expected, or hoped, for him to find.
Sarek turned and headed back toward the path that return him to the healer's temple on Mount Seleya. Spock would likely say no more on the subject, but there was still one person he could confer with. Captain Kirk.
Sarek paused at the door to Captain Kirk's room. He knew that, in human manner, it was expected to knock, a rapping on the portal that would secure the room from outsiders under most circumstances. The doors of the Vulcan healing temple rooms, however, were made of thick, heavy stone and carried sound poorly even if one were able to pound on it hard enough to get an effect.
Instead, Sarek opted for the Vulcan form of warning to his presence and wish to enter. He had to forego the Vulcan assurance that the occupant's limited psychic powers would alert them to someone nearby and instead called out in a careful voice, "Captain?"
If the captain was asleep, Sarek would leave him be.
As it turned out, James Kirk seemed to be merely dozing. Sarek had seen Amanda do that for years, but it still made little sense to him. It was not sleep, nor was it awake, and neither was it a meditative trance or state. It seemed to serve no purpose at all but waste time when the person could be either sleeping and replenishing energy or up and doing something.
As befuddled as Sarek might be by the practice, it did not particularly surprise him when he found Captain Kirk doing it.
After a moment following Sarek's call, Kirk's throat emitted a grumble and he finally spoke in a heavy voice, "Someone there?"
Sarek did not yet enter... Kirk's response had not sounded enough to him like an invitation.
"Captain Kirk... it is Sarek. I was looking to speak with you a moment if it is not inconvenient."
Kirk cleared his throat, "Sure... come in."
Sarek stepped into the room, finding Kirk on the healer's bed. His eyes were half-closed and his gaze unfixed... breathing deep and slow. Sarek knew well the signs of human fatigue and the indications one was about to fall asleep in earnest. Kirk had them all.
"I could return later if you are resting."
Kirk lifted a hand, waving off the offer, "No... that's all right. I'm sure I'll be forced to sleep plenty once Bones gets me back under his claw."
Sarek stepped forward, "Doctor McCoy is hardly malicious, from what I have seen."
Kirk smirked lazily, almost to himself as though not expecting Sarek to understand, "I know... earth humor."
Sarek nodded. It might not clarify for him the particular usage of Kirk's words, but he understood enough earth humor to know it was not to be listened to. He didn't have to know what it meant to know it wasn't important.
Sarek moved closer to the captain, taking a chance to glance at the wound. "You've torn your skin, I see."
Kirk's brow furrowed, "When I first came to I tried to get up."
"Tell me about it... but I get the feeling you didn't come here to chew me out for being a bad patient."
Sarek agreed with a slight half-nod, "Indeed, I did not. I came to ask you about what happened on Beta Rana 3."
Kirk took a breath, "Well, we'd received word that the Romulans may have been trying to..."
"Excuse me, captain, you misunderstand. I know already of the events that occurred on the planet and what brought them about."
Kirk looked up at Sarek, "Then what did you want to ask me about?"
Sarek stepped a bit closer, "I spoke to Spock, he was the one who told me how you were hurt. He said that you were shot in his place... you stepped before him and took the fire meant for him."
Kirk watched Sarek blankly, not saying a word, but waiting for Sarek to say more. Sarek, when Kirk said nothing, wondered if someone had misinterpreted the events, "Am I incorrect?"
Kirk shook his head faintly, never taking his eyes from Sarek (eyes that had grown suddenly quite serious), "No... that's what happened."
Sarek pondered this a moment, finally asking, "Captain... why did you put yourself between Spock and the Romulan phaser?"
Kirk was quiet for a while, taking Sarek a little off guard with a rhetorical question, "Romulans are a divergent strain of Vulcan ancestry, right?"
Kirk knew that full well, and Sarek knew that simply from the certainty and tone of Kirk's voice. "That's correct."
Kirk thought again a moment, then spoke, "If a human met an unknown humanoid alien and found itself in combat with it, any human would aim for the chest."
Sarek thought on this, "That's a non sequitur."
Kirk shook his head, "Not really. It's an assumption based on personal familiarity. It's what we know. The alien, if it in any way resembled us, we would automatically assign its vital organs to certain locations, even though there's no knowledge of this alien's anatomy. A human would try to look at the fight as if it were with another human."
Sarek waited patiently, indicating for Kirk to go on.
Kirk finally did after a moment, "The Romulans did the same to the landing party on Beta Rana 3. Spock's outward physical appearance just managed to draw their attention moreso than the human members of the away team. When the Romulan leader pointed his weapon at Spock, I stepped in to take the fire because where the Romulan was aiming I knew I would only injure my lung at worst. If it caught Spock where the Romulan had meant to... if he was hit where I was, Spock would have died. The Romulan was aiming at where a Romulan heart would be... where a Vulcan's heart is, too. If I hadn't stepped in, Spock would have died on Beta Rana 3, and there would have been nothing Doctor McCoy or all of Starfleet and Vulcan medicine could have done to save him."
Sarek digested this information, looking over at the bandaged side of Jim Kirk. It was true. If Spock had been shot there (particularly with a weapon that did not staunch blood flow), his son would have quickly bled to death... if his heart had not exploded first.
"You are right, Captain."
Kirk nodded, clearing his throat again and letting his eyes drift shut a moment in the silence that followed.
Sarek finally spoke, "Even so, you did not have to take the hit."
Kirk shook his head, "No... I did. I am captain of the Enterprise and her crew is my responsibility. The safety of everyone aboard is my prerogative... even an officer so high ranking as Spock is still under my care, and I would not let him die without trying to stop it... or divert it to myself if necessary."
"But, Captain Kirk, in logic, you are more valuable to the federation as a captain than a first officer would be."
Kirk tried his best to shrug from where he was lying, "That may be true, but my orders are not to look out for myself as the greater investment, it is to look out for the people under my command."
Sarek nodded... a logical response. Of course, he'd found that when humans made such a large decision, logic typically played little role in it.
"Is that the primary reason for your intervention?"
Kirk, surprisingly, smiled, "No... of course not. The excuse I gave you was too logical for a human."
Sarek was surprised James Kirk could see his human fallacy.
Kirk said pensively, "No... I couldn't let Spock die because I have a personal investment in him. He's my friend. I was afraid to lose my friend... to see him hurt, and at the time, it was a greater fear than that of death."
Sarek was puzzled and yet a little awed by the bravery and honor in such a foolish and illogical act. Sometimes the weakness of humans resulted in acts that even Vulcans, though the acts illogical, could admire for the heroism that were inherent in them in the truest sense of the word.
"That's an illogical answer."
Kirk countered, "To an illogical action, according to your own assessment, Ambassador."
Sarek grew quiet at this. Apparently his wife Amanda was not the only human that could engage in word battles with a Vulcan. Sarek had to wonder if this was a skill Kirk honed in such non combative verbal sparring with his son.
Sarek asked carefully, "Does Spock return this sentiment of friendship you extend to him?"
Kirk smiled wryly, "Not to implicate Spock as having sentiments, but I'm not one to give that level of friendship where it is not returned."
Sarek turned, about to move out of the room when he stopped and asked Kirk, "Captain... do you know the meaning of the word t'hy'la?"
Something flashed in Kirk's eyes, something that came and went so fast that Sarek could not read it, despite the intensity of its short flare.
Slowly, Kirk spoke, "Yes."
Sarek studied Kirk, "Do you have any brothers?" It was not Sarek's style, nor the style of any Vulcan to 'beat around the bush', but Sarek had adopted many mannerisms while serving as a diplomat in human relations to adjust for the audience and occasion. Besides, the convenient extra time to sort things out was not wasted.
Kirk had obviously known where this line of questioning was going, and he did not shy away from what Sarek was asking of him (a bold human move, for a Vulcan in the same situation may have outright challenged the questioner with the nature of the insult it was), "If you ask me, I have two brothers. One you don't know, Sam... the other is your son."
Sarek weighed this in his mind, almost thinking aloud, "You're not related in any real manner."
Kirk answered Sarek's verbal musing, "Not all family is born... some is chosen."
Sarek looked askance at Kirk, "That's a very human thing to say."
Kirk nodded, "It's a very human fact."
Sarek turned to face the lying captain squarely, "Do you really consider Spock to be your brother?"
Kirk thought a moment, but only a moment as he let a light and teasing smile tug at his lips, "Probably no more than you consider him your son, Ambassador."
"Again... an illogical answer."
Kirk tried to shrug again without disturbing his wound, "You'll find those a lot when you question humans... particularly on matters so personal, as you no doubt know already."
"No doubt. I thank you for your time, Captain, I will now leave you to your rest."
Sarek found his son almost exactly where he had expected to find him. Spock stood at the foot of Mount Seleya, staring out pensively into the red expanse of the Vulcan desert landscape. He had returned to the ship long enough to change into a clean uniform tunic, though still for Sarek it was incongruous to see a Vulcan garbed in such striking earth colors as opposed to the subdued robes of the Vulcan disciplines. How he had once wished for Spock to be standing here now in those exact such clothes. The son to follow the path of the father... it was the Vulcan way which Sarek had followed dutifully when he was a child. Now, his path would be followed by no one, for his only son had chosen to beat his own.
He pushed the errant thought from his mind as Spock, still standing motionless before him, cocked his head imperceptibly toward Sarek to indicate he'd become aware of his presence. It was not to be helped now, and it was illogical to occupy oneself with situations that could not be altered. The acceptance of things they way they are, another wise doctrine of Surak.
Sarek approached his son lightly, quiet feet of a strict master of tranquility making little to no sound against the harsh desert floor. Spock did not move or give any outward appearance that he felt a reaction to Sarek's presence once again, but something in his mental projections that Sarek could barely catch tensed. Spock, after so long, was still uncomfortable around his father... preferring the company of humans, of the valiant Captain Kirk, over his parent.
Sarek folded his hands before him serenely, glancing meaningfully and with respect to the desert Spock considered so astutely moments before.
Spock seemed to wait for Sarek to get to the point of his visit, but when it became obvious he was going to draw out the experience, Spock reluctantly returned his own attention to his early musings.
Sarek chose then to gently but still sternly break the silence, "I stopped by to see your captain... he seems to be doing well."
Spock nodded, "For a human he heals fast... Doctor McCoy would say that practice at it has made him better."
Sarek concealed a frown, though mentally he did, "That's an illogical concept, that one could 'practice' healing."
Spock half-nodded, "So is Doctor McCoy."
Sarek nodded, "Of course..." then looked sideways at his son, still retaining his pose and authority as he commented, "Captain Kirk also happened to inform me that he considers you his t'hy'la, Spock."
Spock tensed, even enough for Sarek to see it, but for a long time he said nothing.
Spock slowly responded in a very guarded, clipped voice, "The captain has long regarded me as... a friend."
Sarek looked back out at the desert, "T'hy'la is a strong word, my son... I suspect the translation is more to Captain Kirk than just a friend."
Spock's shoulders almost sagged as he dropped his eyes to the desert floor at his feet, almost in exasperation and maybe irritability (though to a proper Vulcan subtlety), and confirmed, "Jim does have a greater grasp of the Vulcan meaning than most humans."
Sarek returned calmly, "Humans are, of course, illogical creatures."
Spock threw a quick glance at his father, catching the imperceptible out that his father was leaving him... blame Kirk's sentiments on human frailties of emotion and be done with it. Any other time, Spock might have taken his father's bait... a few years ago he would have. Now, however... he couldn't do that to Jim, least of all to his own father.
Spock cocked his head slightly at his father, stating plainly, "Humans, I have noticed, have a way of bringing people into their families. To them, not all family is born, some is chosen... illogical, but true. When it struck Jim to regard me as a brother, I became as much a one to him as though we'd been bared from the same womb."
Sarek looked over at his son, meeting his eyes, and studying the young officer. Spock, though he would never admit it and nor Sarek aloud, could have an intensity to him, moments when those emotions were just beneath the surface and they were disconcerting. Disconcerting to a Vulcan because they were so raw. At times, Spock was most primal... and Sarek, as a trained and restrained Vulcan himself, didn't know how to handle that kind of primal.
Sarek, instead of being overwhelmed by what Spock was capable of being, lifted one eyebrow and said as gently as he ever got, "Your captain did not implicate your own regards of him, but he did say that he did not often give someone that kind of loyalty unrequited."
Spock's simmering rage and even maybe some fear faded, and a very calm and almost peaceful repose came to his face. He looked again over the desert sands, being stirred gently by an almost stale wind. His voice was almost melodic and fitting with the pure nature around him as he answered cryptically, "I have never found acceptance... not the kind that Jim offers to me. Vulcans reject my human half, humans reject my Vulcan half... Jim doesn't see me as halves or parts... he takes me as a whole. He feels... compassion, for my whole self... not for what I'm composed of, but who I am as an unique life. For that, I owe him a great deal."
Sarek stepped slightly closer to his son, pressing faintly, "Do you consider him t'hy'la, Spock?"
Spock did not look at his father, keeping dark, keen eyes on the reddish sands as he sounded almost bitter, "If an emotional weakness is what you're looking for, Father, seek no further."
Spock turned to face Sarek, that bubbling anger underneath his plain mask and nearly black eyes. He said evenly, "Yes... I regard Jim as t'hy'la... my brother and more-than-friend."
In the silence that ensued, Spock stepped aside and left his father. Sarek was left alone, watching after his son, wanting to go after him but Vulcan stoicism keeping him in his place. He wouldn't know what to say to his son even if he did stop him... there was nothing void of emotion that could be said.
Sarek looked again out at the desert, wind-dancers gliding lazily on paper-thin wings in the fleeting updrafts of hot air. Mount Seleya, so wise and yet once again, for the second time in one day, her wisdom offered no council.
Kirk pulled his shirt gingerly over his head, thanking the Vulcan priestesses that tended to him. He would never complain about McCoy's beside manner again after being attended to by a crowd of doctors and nurses that couldn't even offer their patient a weary and long-suffering smile. It didn't even have to be a real one, but it would be better than the expressionless masks they wore. Normally, the stoicism didn't bother him, but this experience had taught him how much he preferred the human touch when hurt.
Kirk smiled (even though he knew no return would come for his gesture) to the young Vulcan woman cleaning the room as he prepared to vacate. He'd recovered enough to go back to the ship, and he was more than ready to. Vulcan was just too damn hot for any Iowa farm boy.
The Vulcan nurse looked blankly at him and his courtesies, but was saved from having to try to break the awkward silence when a deep voice intoned from the door, "Wise priestess, I'd respectfully request audience with the patient."
Both looked to the door to see Sarek standing regally there, waiting without rush to be granted his request.
The darkly beautiful Vulcan woman near Kirk nodded at Sarek, gathering her things and moving out of the room.
Kirk smiled, knowing his action was wasted as well on Sarek, but Sarek would better understand that Kirk was only trying to be friendly. Sarek couldn't have lived with a human wife and not learn a thing or two like easing a tense situation.
"Come to see me off, Ambassador?" Kirk teased.
Sarek gave Kirk a querulous look, "Hardly... I did, however, come for a specific reason."
Kirk stopped, catching the sincerity and business tone in the voice of his first officer's father. Sarek obviously had something to say, especially to forgo ambassadorial niceties as he was trained to have mastered.
Sarek approached James Kirk, considering him astutely and closely before beginning candidly, "My son... it seems that he also considers you his t'hy'la."
Kirk froze, staring at Sarek, and asking, "He said that?" not really believing it even as he said it. Spock, admit to something like that, and to his father no less? It seemed farfetched.
Sarek half nodded, pensive, then continued, "Of the faults my son may have, never before has being a poor judge of character been one of them."
Kirk's face screwed, and he muttered, "Thanks... I guess."
Sarek nodded, then began again with renewed conviction, "I have come to ask if you would be willing to participate in a Vulcan ceremony."
Kirk looked toward the door, wondering if Spock were standing outside and that part of this strange tradition for some reason was to have the parent ask.
When it turned out Spock was not right outside the door waiting for his answer, Kirk looked again even more curiously at Sarek, "What kind of ceremony, exactly, Ambassador?"
Sarek paused, still studying Kirk, then folded his hands and took a breath, "In the Time of the Beginning, when our race was a barbarian and violent one, there were times when entire families were slaughtered for so little gains. That is the root of the t'hy'la word and concept... forged between two in battle who had come to depend on the other to guard his life... forming a new and unknown bond between them Vulcans had not known before. Also created in this time was a ceremony of Accepting. I am afraid it is somewhat difficult to explain in human terms, a number of the Vulcan words have no literal Federation Standard translation, but the Accepting was an act of bringing into one's house. In those days when entire families were slaughtered, the very young infants were often spared to be raised by the enemy and taught to fight for their cause against their kinsmen. As our people evolved so did the Accepting... it became a willing exchange of a child from one family to another for belongingness. The ritual turned into one of trust, and a tradition to never leave a child without a home. The tradition now, aside from a few literal instances when children still change homes, is mostly ceremonial. You and my son equally regard one another as t'hy'la... you are his brother as he is yours... by our customs that makes you..." he paused then regretfully elaborated the only way he knew how to a human (though it somewhat butchered the intent), "'part of the family', you might translate it into English. I have come to ask you to participate in the Accepting, to ritually bring you into our house."
Kirk blinked, still trying to take everything in, then stammered, "Wait a minute, let me see if I get this straight... you want to adopt me?"
Sarek nearly smirked, "That is an equitable rough translation, yes."
Kirk started to laugh, then stopped when he realized that, of course, Sarek was dead serious.
Kirk cleared his throat, "I'm honored, Sarek... truly, I am, and for Spock's sake alone I wouldn't hesitate... but I have other obligations and responsibilities that would be complicated by being legally adopted into a Vulcan family..."
Sarek interrupted gently, "I did not say 'legally'."
Kirk stopped, waiting for Sarek to clarify.
Sarek continued, "I merely said ritually... there are no legal stipulations to this ceremony. The Accepting is a private matter between families... among t'hy'la as well, there have never been documentation for the exchange, not even in the Time of the Beginning."
Kirk thought a moment, "So this is... just for show."
Sarek resisted a frown, "It is not a display, Captain Kirk... we participate as a sign of respect and... acceptance in all familial sense of one outside the house trusted and regarded highly enough to be invited into the house."
Kirk nodded, "I think I understand..."
Sarek nodded, waiting.
Kirk smiled kindly, "As I said, Ambassador Sarek, I would be honored."
Spock turned at the Galileo shuttle door. The ship had been sent down on Doctor McCoy's behest... he insisted that until the captain was fully healed he stay away from those molecule-slicers. 'Damn fool dangerous enough without trying to put together open wounds to boot', he'd said... although the shuttle coming down to pick him and the captain up, he suspected, was as much for the doctor's sake as the captain's. Doctor McCoy, in his persistence to hate the transporter, found any way he could to use a shuttle whenever possible.
Kirk was standing about half a dozen steps from the shuttle, talking quietly to Ambassador Sarek and Lady Amanda.
Spock stood patiently, squelching the curiosity to wonder why the captain spoke at such long length with his parents. Never to give into such human failings, of course, Spock merely stood in his spot and waited.
Amanda looked over Kirk's shoulder at Spock, smiling though he did not see it and asking, "Are you going to tell him?"
Kirk glanced in the general direction of the shuttle, then answered, "No, not right now, anyway... I'm not sure how he'd take it. Besides, we don't need a ceremony to be brothers... we never did before. I have a feeling he likes having a friend without any Vulcan strings attached to it... I'd be the last to disturb his fun."
Sarek commented, "I suspect 'fun' would not be the most appropriate word to use."
Kirk smirked, "You're probably right... thank you both for everything, not the least of which, saving my neck."
Sarek lifted one brow, but Amanda smiled, "Think nothing of it, Captain Kirk... we could no sooner let a gained son die than let our son's brother come to harm."
Kirk smiled warmly, nodding, "Well, I have to leave."
Sarek nodded, "Of course... may good fortune go with you, son."
Kirk looked waywardly at Sarek, "Fortune, Sarek? That's illogical of you."
Sarek returned quickly, "I was merely accommodating for you."
Kirk nodded, "Of course... I hope to see you both soon, good-bye."
Spock straightened as Kirk turned and walked toward him. As he reached Spock's side, Spock fell into step beside his captain, asking after a moment, "Anything wrong, Captain?"
Kirk climbed somewhat gingerly into the shuttle, resisting the urge to swat the precautionary hand that Spock held poised to help the captain. Kirk settled himself into a seat as Spock clambered in after him, shaking his head, "Everything's great, Mister Spock, but I'm dying to get back to my ship."
Spock lifted an eyebrow at Kirk, "I would think the doctor would find it most displeasing to discover the shuttle returned only to deliver a dead captain."
Kirk laughed, "Right you are, Spock... so let's go home."