Sarek had left the office to attend a meeting in another room with a representative of the Vulcan Council. Amanda sat quietly in Sarek's office, looking at the closed com-link and thinking about her son and his wife. A smile broke across her face as she thought about what had happened less than five minutes ago. Amanda had just met her new daughter-in-law, Nyota, which means 'Star' in Swahili. But, most of all, she had noticed her son's happiness-Spock was content for the first time in his life. During the conversation, Amanda had watched Spock's eyes and the way he looked at his wife. She had seen that same glow in Sarek's eyes when she married him many years ago. Yes, Amanda could discern the character of a Vulcan in their eyes (the eyes don't lie) they tell it all. Amanda remembers as she looked into the eyes of her son, her only son, she could clearly see that Spock was in love with the woman. A mother can tell. The way Spock introduced Nyota-his back straight, chest out, and demeanor calm-spoke volumes to her perceptive eyes, showing that he was proud of his choice.
Amanda shook her head and thought to herself, Boy, Vulcans are something else; they experience emotions so close to those of humans, but express them so differently; Sarek and Spock are so much alike, but yet so different.
Amanda felt an uncoiling of a knot in her stomach that she had lived with for so long she no longer recognized it was there-until it relaxed. For the first time since he was born she was able to rest at ease, knowing that her son had found a partner for life. Amanda reflected on the brief conversation with Nyota, who was friendly, confident, compassionate, and intelligent. Her beauty really stood out, and that Nyota spoke so many languages fluently and had worked for the diplomatic corps spoke volumes about her intelligence. She could see that Nyota was not the type of woman who indulged in casual relationships. She would have been an amazing catch even for a human; Amanda marveled that Spock, her adorably dorky son, had been able to win Nyota's hand. Amanda's happiness and excited thoughts projected through her bond with Sarek, and he responded:
You are content with the match, my wife?
Yes, Adun, very pleased [smiling to herself].
Amanda remembered how Spock and Nyota had looked on the com-link, the way Spock positioned himself next to his wife. That Vulcan protective stance was on display, demonstrating his love for her. Amanda sighed deeply, as though she had been holding her breath for thirty-six years. It's a mother relief to know that her child is living a productive and healthy life. But with Vulcans, a healthy life for a male requires a wife to bond with. Thinking about this brought back how Sarek and she had made it so far in their marriage; she shuddered, thinking about all the trials and tribulations that went with it. Amanda hadn't wanted Spock to have to deal with all of that, but his mixed heritage came with a price. It had always been a dagger in Amanda's heart that Spock was an outcast in both societies.
Amanda reflected on Spock's previous relationships (the ones she knew about). Since Spock's birth, Amanda had struggled to understand Vulcan customs and traditions; her mistake was that she examined them from the perspective of Terran customs. In her world, Spock should have been able choose who he wanted to marry. Until she met Sarek, she hadn't known about the mating rituals of Vulcans, which were forced upon them because of the mental and physical stresses-and danger of death-both sexes endure at the age of sexual maturity. Vulcans were very careful to keep this part of their biology and culture under wraps to avoid the exposure of uncontrolled emotions that would rip off the tight lid of their logic because it would humiliate them and expose their vulnerability.
Spock was half human, so many Vulcan people didn't consider him to be a true Vulcan and were reluctant to allow him to take part in their traditions. But the healers had revealed to Sarek and Amanda shortly after Spock's birth that his Vulcan genes were generally dominant and his body would grow and develop as any Vulcan male's, meaning he would eventually undergo the pon farr and require a mate. Therefore, they advised that Spock should have a bondmate for his Time. Amanda fought her mother's instinct to protect him against exposure to Vulcan prejudice, but after considering what the healers had said, she realized that to keep her son safe, he had to have a bondmate. Which presented another problem: what Vulcan female would want to marry her half human son? She entrusted Sarek with negotiating a bride for Spock, even though she had studied the traditions under the tutelage of T'Pau. Amanda got along well with her, despite T'Pau's questioning Sarek's reasons for marrying her. Amanda had held her ground against T'Pau in their many debates, eventually earning T'Pau's respect, which had not been easy, Amanda thought. She's a tough old bird. Sarek and T'Pau found a match for Spock. Amanda remembered the look on Spock's face when he was informed of the upcoming betrothal ceremony; she had felt his despair and confusion. He knew how his peers felt about him being half Vulcan, and he wondered what female would be willing to attach herself to him. Amanda's seven-year-old son was about to be bonded, betrothed, to a girl he did not know.
"Mother, must I?"
Amanda looked up at Sarek and saw his face; he urged her through their bond to confirm the truth.
"Yes, my son. Do you remember your studies about the mating process and the reasons for bonding?"
Spock slowly turned toward his father; Sarek urged Spock through the family bond to be logical.
Later on that night, Spock had run away with his pet sehlat for three days. He returned on his betrothal day and met his future bride. T'Pau performed the ceremony, and a healer confirmed that the bond was sound. Spock spent little time with T'Pring; he tried to touch her through the bond and found resistance. She either didn't understand Spock's nature or that fact he was of mixed heritage caused confusion with her. When Amanda met T'Pring's parents, everything was explained. It was merely a political move for them; an alliance with the S'chn T'gai clan meant power and position, and they were willing to sacrifice a daughter to obtain them. Looking into their eyes, (the eyes don't lie) Amanda could see the resentment. It hurt her to know that Spock would suffer slights and prejudice from them in the future. Her future daughter-in-law was a pawn in Vulcan society. Amanda thought about the Terran history of such dealings between royal families, making strange bedfellows and alliances. Now these two children were pledged to marry each other in the future. She was thankful that her son was safe-for now. For Spock to survive, Amanda could only hope that the pair would find a way to mesh. When Amanda sat with little T'Pring, the girl sat as stiff as a board and said next to nothing; she didn't want to look at Amanda. Amanda expressed her thoughts to Sarek:
"The child fails to acknowledge me; what is wrong with her?"
"The child will adjust in time, Amanda; it is a new situation for her to experience a marriage bond."
"Sure; it couldn't have anything to do to with the fact that I'm human?"
"That is an illogical assumption; the child is aware of her responsibilities."
Amanda's sarcasm revealed how upset she was that the child showed prejudice against her. If that is true, then she has it against Spock as well. Not a comforting feeling.
Spock's suffered from bullying, prejudice, and assumptions about his intellectual abilities and emotional control every day at school. Each day, Spock's emotional control grew stronger. The healers were amazed to find that he had a psi rating in the 90th percentile for full Vulcans. His tremendous aptitude for math and science soon became apparent, challenging both his schoolmates'. His teachers' assumptions about the limits of a hybrid's mind and telepathy has becoming a threat in the eyes of some. They were unaware of Spock's capability and growth, but Amanda knew, he shared his thoughts about them.
As Spock grew, Amanda noticed that he became more reserved, less talkative, but would respond every now and then through the family bond when requested. He barely mentioned T'Pring or his engagement to her. Spock occasionally felt her resistance toward him and only acknowledged her when arrangements were made to keep the bond intact. Amanda would feel the stress rise in the familial bond because Spock became irritated when T'Pring was around. Sarek would remind Spock of his responsibilities to the girl and that fulfilling them was important for his survival as a male Vulcan. Sarek had tried to portray Vulcan culture and sexuality in a positive way, but Spock would only listen politely and kept his thoughts to himself.
Then the S'chn T'gai family dealt with the unthinkable, the thing that would drive the family apart. Spock reached the age of accountability; he now had to choose his path for the future. Against all odds, he had performed to an outstanding level in all academic areas. The Vulcan Science Council invited Spock to follow in his father's footsteps and continue his studies at the Vulcan Science Academy, which was considered a great Spock shocked both the Academy and his own father when he announced that he had been accepted into Starfleet Academy and he intended to leave Vulcan to pursue his studies there. It was the beginning of the end of their father-son relationship:
"Spock, your choice of career is illogical; Starfleet practices are contrary to Vulcan beliefs."
Spock stood taller; he had now outgrown most of his peers.
"Starfleet Academy has a science division that is adequate to continue my academics."
"Spock, it is expected of you as a member of the S'chn T'gai clan to continue your studies at the Vulcan Science Academy; Starfleet will not provide the training to maintain your beliefs in the Way of Surak."
"My acceptance is final; the decision is final; I will attend to my departure."
With that, the family split. Spock went to Starfleet, and Sarek refused to accept or acknowledge Spock's choice. The family bond shrunk to the point where Amanda could hardly feel it; it felt almost as if a part of her had been amputated. Spock had somehow shut it down to nearly nonexistent.
As a mother, it was hard for Amanda to see her only child leave, not knowing when he would return; her heart was heavy. Amanda knew Sarek's heart was heavy as well; he didn't have to say anything; she felt it through their bond.
Sarek has lost two sons; what does a father do? Amanda thought to herself.
Amanda continued to reflect on the past events of Spock's life. Spock had been through so much, but his relationship with his father had worsened. Amanda was caught in the middle of their bickering about Spock's career choice; Sarek would often make a snarky remark, and Spock would cut off the communication. There were times Spock would call Amanda on the com-link to let her know of his welfare, and she would notice that Spock would not mention his father or T'Pring in their brief conversations.
As the years passed, the news that Spock had been assigned to the Enterprise, as well as details of his scientific investigations, started to become widely known. Awards, achievements, medals of all sorts started pouring in from Starfleet and other Federation planets to the family compound on behalf of Spock. Everywhere Sarek and Amanda would go for diplomatic meetings, Spock's name was mentioned and his achievements and scientific theories were praised. Amanda smiled to herself: I'm so proud of you, my son. She would project her pride through her bond with Sarek, but Sarek did not express any sentiment or acknowledge his son's achievements.
Several years later, Sarek did respond to Amanda through their bond about Spock: Spock's duties are required in his position. It was the most he had ever said about Spock and Starfleet. But Sarek's reflections about his son were very rare; he still felt that Spock should fulfill his responsibilities by attending the Vulcan Science Academy. That was one thing about Sarek, he refused to see Spock as total human, but as Vulcan son and treated him as such like a father would. Amanda smiled about that, it touched her that Sarek really tried.
Then back on Vulcan, Amanda started hearing rumors. It was her opinion that Vulcans gossip worse than humans, but they base their comments on facts and they don't exaggerate. T'Pring had grown up into a lovely Vulcan woman; males from other provinces had come to seek her audience, and she entertained them publicly. She acted as if she were single, and many males had requested Koon-ut so'lik (marriage proposal). But once they were informed of her pending marriage to Spock, many declined, infuriating T'Pring; she needed a challenger to break the marriage. Amanda couldn't take it anymore and confronted Sarek:
"Adun, it bothers me that T'Pring is entertaining male suitors, knowing that she is betrothed to Spock. This is unacceptable behavior!"
"T'Pring has been aware of her responsibilities and contract from the beginning; she will honor those commitments, Aduna."
"Sarek, please! Is there any way to break this?"
"Our ancient marital laws may be cruel; T'Pring will honor her family and Spock."
Amanda thought that conversation went nowhere; she became worried about Spock, who was not present on Vulcan to fight the suitors or defend his betrothal. Amanda did the next best thing a mother could do: she confronted the woman.
Amanda remembered the day; it was a day of disrespect and anger when she met T'Pring after all those years. She confronted her about her display of disrespect toward her koon'ul[betrothal]. T'Pring looked down at Amanda the human with distaste, stating that she would not marry Spock the legend and that this was her right. Amanda wished she could have slapped her or taken a sword and run her through. T'Pring had no intention of marrying her son, and that hurt. Amanda looked into the woman's eyes (the eyes don't lie) and saw hatred; T'Pring actually hated her son.
As the years moved on, the rumors persisted and concern for Spock's life put stress on Amanda. She went to T'Pau about it; she too had heard statements about T'Pring seeking a challenger in order to rid herself of Spock. T'Pau looked at the woman who had married her son and was now seeking advice on behalf of her grandson. T'Pau wondered why the woman had not immersed herself in the marital laws before now.
"Amanda, thee have known about this for some time; plans are in place. The kali-i-farr has been proposed. The woman is within her rights to challenge the marriage at the appointed time. Regardless, one male in the challenge must die, and the victor will win the woman. It is done."
Amanda sat heavy-hearted, remembering those events. Tears formed in her eyes. She had worried so much over Spock, hoping that just one time he would get a break in life. Amanda hated that part of Vulcan culture, knowing her son could be killed by a rival Vulcan if T'Pring chose the challenge. Cold-hearted bi**h! she had thought to herself, drowning her fear in anger. At the time it had seemed so far off, the idea that he would find happiness.
Amanda remembered the com-link. She and Sarek had been on a diplomatic mission on behalf of the Federation when she heard that the ship that Spock was assigned had been diverted to Vulcan, and he was preparing for his wedding. Her thoughts and emotions overwhelmed her bond with Sarek, so her husband rushed to her in concern. She informed him that Spock was on Vulcan getting married. They rushed back to Vulcan, hoping to be present for the ceremony. They hadn't been far away, just two days at warp 5. But by the time they returned to Vulcan, Spock and the Enterprise had already warped out, missing them by 12 hours. Amanda had looked at Sarek, voicing her greatest fear through their bond: Is our son dead? Amanda had rushed to Spock's old bedroom, afraid to hear the outcome of the kal-i-fee. As she looked around his room, filled with awards and medals, the fear overwhelmed her and she collapsed on the floor.
Sarek sought out his mother to learn the outcome of his son's wedding and found that T'Pring had gone through with the challenge. His mother's comments comforted Sarek, letting him know that his son was alive and had returned to the ship.
"The woman T'Pring has succeeded in dissolving the marriage between her and thy son. The champion she selected was most fascinating and unorthodox, Sarek. Thee woman T'Pring chose a Terran friend of Spock's."
Sarek's eyebrow rose: "Fascinating."
"Indeed, the Terran succumbed to the wounds made by Spock." T'Pau looked at her son. "I granted Spock his divorce; I grieve with thee for the loss of his friend and Spock."
When Sarek returned to find his wife on the floor, he lifted her and placed her on their bed. He opened their bond to find fear, despair, anger, and a feeling of great loss for her son. He held his human wife, whom he had cherished all these years. Later, Sarek relayed the story from T'Pau of the challenge and its outcome. Amanda had expressed anger toward Sarek, embarrassment that T'Pring had stood Spock up at the altar, and disappointment that her son was alone again. It took a couple of months to forgive Sarek, and herself too, because she had agreed to it as well. She attempted several times to contact the ship to check on his well-being; he eventually sent a message saying that he was well.
As Amanda remembered the whole event, she said out loud, "Nothing like your fiancée leaving you at the altar, but to have one of his friends fight for a woman who didn't even want him and get killed over it? It's just too much." Amanda shook her head. Being a Vulcan is tough!
Then, about a year later, Sarek was assigned to the Babel conference. Amanda was excited about getting to see Spock on his ship. Sarek was not thrilled; he stood his ground and held an unchanged attitude about Spock's decision to join Starfleet. When they finally saw Spock, Sarek and he were more distant than ever; Spock probably thought Sarek blamed him for his failed Kai-i-farr. She watched Sarek give Spock such a cold shoulder that even his captain noticed and tried to help. Then Sarek's heart attack put fear into Amanda. Through their bond, she felt her husband's pain, and her body suffered too; Sarek had been trying to keep his illness from her for some time. Amanda had been so focused on Spock that she had forgotten her Adun; that grieved her. She loved Sarek with her whole heart; they both suffered for long. When she was alone, Amanda cried bitterly over Sarek, thinking of all the things they had endured and trying to push away thoughts of life without her Ashayam. The core of her whole life could be gone if Spock wouldn't step forward.
Spock sensed his father's pain and briefly opened the family bond; it grieved him as well, but he had responsibilities as a Vulcan and an officer.*
Tears ran down Amanda's face, for what she had done to her son, demanding that he save her man, his father from death. She couldn't conceive of life without Sarek. The heart attack brought new closeness to the family she and Sarek had created. Somehow her Vulcan son Spock had saved the family, and for the first time in 18 years, father and son were talking. Amanda did notice how attentive the nurse was to Spock during his recovery, but Spock didn't pay her any mind. The trip to Babel was a success in Amanda's eyes because her husband and son had finally repaired their schism.
When Spock had hinted that he was in a relationship with a crew member, she had thought the nurse was the one he was attracted to. Now to see that Spock was finally married and to see the happiness in his eyes (the eyes don't lie) brought peace to Amanda's heart, mind, and soul. Spock was safe for the first time in his life; she was so proud of her son, and her husband.
A chime came from the com-link; it was Nyota. Amanda quickly downloaded the images; they opened in front of her, and what she saw took her breath away. Tears started flowing harder down her face and a deep cry projected from her heart; Sarek felt the disturbance in their bond and responded quickly. He found her crying uncontrollably at the desk where they had sat just moments ago.
"Amanda, you are in grave distress," he said, kneeling to hold his wife by her shoulders. "Aduna, your distress has affected me; please explain."
Amanda reached for him and continued crying on his shoulder. Sarek looked down at the com-link and saw the image of Spock with his wife after their wedding; he noticed that Spock was wearing his IDIC symbol on his formal robe, and he even saw it on Nyota's gown. Her gown complemented the color of Spock's robe. They were touching their fingers in the ozh'esta, revealing their intimacy. Sarek had to admit to himself that his son looked pleased.
"Sarek! He looks so happy! I know that's not the right word, but look at them-they look content! That's the word!"
As Amanda tried to explain through her tears, Sarek opened a drawer to pull out a cloth to wipe his wife's face. Amanda touched Sarek's arm and looked at him.
"Adun, please help our son come home, not only to us but to Vulcan as well." She tried to breathe, but tears of joy kept flowing. "He's been through so much. I'll try not to be so emotional."
"Amanda, you are a Terran; emotions are part of you."
Amanda reached over and touched the screen to reveal another picture of the whole wedding party, including Captain Kirk and Dr. McCoy. Seeing Spock surrounded by his friends caused her to smile with joy. My son has friends! She looked at the image of Spock looking down at his wife with tenderness. It brought back memories of her courtship with Sarek, they way he had looked at her said it all. Words could not describe what he felt for her. Amanda projected her former feelings through their bond, and Sarek responded, placing his two fingers against hers, sharing in her joy.
Amanda reached out and touched the screen again to reveal Spock and Nyota strumming their ka'athyras. Sarek's brow lifted:
"Fascinating! She is able to play this instrument; it would be quite interesting to hear Ms. Nyota perform."
Amanda smiled, seeing something different. She saw love, and she knew Sarek was proud of his son, even if he would never say it. Amanda got his attention:
"Sarek, we must give them a reception; they deserve something from us."
He looked down at her: "I agree. I'll see to the arrangements and send the pictures to T'Pau."
"Yes, she would like to see her grandson married."
"Have you recovered from your event, my wife, so I can attend to your request?"
"Yes, Sarek, darling. I'm much better now; thank you."
Sarek stood up and left to start making arrangements, while Amanda continued to stare at the last picture of Spock and Nyota playing their lyres. She had waited so long for this moment, and now it had finally happened. Her smile widened and a giggle erupted from her:
Through their bond, Sarek answered; "Indeed!"