Actions

Work Header

The Home We Lost

Chapter Text

Amanda Kirk was struggling to stay awake in her general cosmology course when she first sensed that something was wrong with one of her family members. Her head had been lolling in her palm, her stylus long forgotten on her desk, when a jolt of fear so cold and raw went through her skull that she jerked upright in her chair.

Zak Scott, who was sitting next to her, snorted a laugh, thinking she had accidentally dozed off.

She blinked a few times, trying to chase after the tendril of emotion still in her mind, but it fled too quickly for her to determine which member of her family had felt it.

Her fingers activated her PADD deftly and she opened a message to Selik:

>>Did you feel that?<<

She could feel Zak watching her, but she ignored him, tapping her fingers against her desk nervously.

When the class ended, with still no word from Selik, she immediately started to comm him.

“Are you alright, Amanda?” Zak asked, running after her as she departed the classroom.

Amanda waved Zak off, trying to focus on her call with Selik. He answered after only a minute. “Hello Amanda.”

“Hey, Se, was that you? And why didn’t you return my message?”

“I do not know to what you are referring,” her brother said. She could imagine his raised eyebrow. “I did not have my communicator within sight.”

“I just…I think something is wrong with Dad.” Amanda started chewing on her lower lip, a habit that her brother deplored.

“Explain.”

“Well I was in class and I just felt this…terror almost?” Zak was watching her with his eyes wide. “And I can’t imagine Sa’mekh losing control like that.”

“Are our fathers not off planet?”

“I—” Amanda had to recall the time. “No, they’re at Earth Spacedock. Easily within my telepathic range for Dad.”

“I see. You should make contact with them. Perhaps it was a minor slip of control.”

“A minor slip of terror?” Amanda’s voice rose on the words.

“The probability that they have run into life-endangering trouble at Earth Spacedock is less than 5 percent.”

“Selik, that is not entirely comforting.”

“Comm them before you start to panic, and please inform me of their status.”

“Okay, okay. Bye, Selik.”

“Peace and long life,” Selik responded, in perfect Vulcan.

Amanda rolled her eyes and ended the call. Being around Vulcans all of the time made her brother somewhat insufferable these days. At very least, it seemed like he was finally fitting in at the VSA.

“Hey, you alright?” Zak asked, his eyes wide with worry. He had Uhura’s eyes, bright and intelligent, but kind.

“Yeah,” she breathed. “I just need to call my dads.”

Making a call to the Enterprise was usually a difficult process, involving waiting for subspace amplifiers and syncing her schedule with the relative one of a space-faring vessel. But the Enterprise was due for shore leave, a long one at that, and Amanda could probably reach one of her father’s personal comms from here.

She elected for her Vulcan father. He was easiest to get information from in an efficient manner.

“Hello Amanda,” her Father said without preamble. “I had not expected a call from you until we had arrived in San Francisco.”

“I…are you both alright?” She started to wonder if she had imagined the terror. Her Father certainly sounded calm. Albeit the Vulcan parent would be the one most adept at hiding a problem.

“Yes, Amanda. Docking procedures are proceeding smoothly.”

“I just…I felt something,” she felt stupid now, like maybe she had dreamed the whole thing. She had been beginning to doze off in class.

“You have inherited Jim’s ability to be vague to the point of incommunicability.” Her Father’s voice was dry, but there was something off about it. The easiest way for a Vulcan not to lie was to divert the conversation.

“I felt terror, Sa’mekh, and it came from my bond centers.”

The sigh that came through the communicator made Amanda’s stomach flop. “Amanda—”

“Father, you have never lied to me. Please do not start now.”

“I was not going to lie,” he assured. “We should meet this evening. I will prepare dinner at the apartment. Is 1900 acceptable?”

“Are you okay?” Amanda’s voice shook.

“Please, calm yourself, ko’fu.” Her Father’s voice was gentle. That scared her more than anything. “I will see you this evening. Live long and prosper.”

“Peace and long life,” she murmured back, feeling numb.

She put her communicator away, feeling exhausted suddenly. Zak put an arm around her shoulders and started steering her.

“Let’s go get lunch with Noah,” he said with a forced smile.

“I just want to go collapse and not think about anything.”

“Come on, I’m sure it’s not that bad.” Zak shrugged. “I mean, they’re Kirk and Spock. They survive everything.”

Amanda allowed herself to be steered to the Starfleet cafeteria, where Noah McCoy often met them for lunch. She pulled her communicator back out and sent a simple message to her brother.

>>Something is wrong.<<

Chapter Text

As he and Jim entered into their apartment, Spock allowed his shoulders to slump and a short huff to escape his lips. Jim, who carried their bags, set them down gently and turned to his bondmate, a sad smile on his lips.

“Can I get you anything?” The Human asked, his voice gentle.

Spock shook his head. “I require rest.”

“If you want to sleep, I can cook dinner.”

“I told Amanda I would cook. I thought I would make her favorite dish.” Spock met Jim’s eyes.

“Amanda’s coming over tonight?”

“I…” Spock sighed, his weariness seeping into his voice. “She felt my loss of control earlier at Spacedock.”

“Oh.”

“I promised an explanation.”

Jim moved closer to the Vulcan, lifting his hands slowly to Spock’s neck. “Are you sure you want to tell them now?”

“I must. I will not lie to my daughter.”

Jim nodded. “I agree.” He smiled ruefully. “She will tell Selik, and they will worry.”

“Which is why I have waited for three months, Jim.”

“McCoy and M’Benga haven’t given up hope yet.” Jim pulled Spock closer so that their foreheads touched and their minds were very nearly one unit. “And neither have I. You’re supposed to outlive me by at least a hundred years, Spock.”

Spock said nothing, letting Jim’s hope and optimism wash over him. After allowing himself the luxury of basking in the bond for a few moments, he pulled away and quirked his lips in a half smile.

“I will rest for a short while. Will you chop vegetables while I do so?”

“Absolutely. I’m fantastic at cubing plomeek.” Jim winked and sent assurance down their bond as Spock left to meditate. He had a feeling that this evening would be emotionally taxing; things almost always were with Amanda.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

“Sweetheart,” Jim said fondly when Amanda smiled brightly at him as he opened the door.

“Dad!” She squeaked and hurled her arms around him in a bear hug.

“Space misses you,” he said by way of informing her that the Enterprise crew missed her.

“Must be terribly dull without me,” she responded. Although she showed no outward signs, Jim could sense enough of her emotions when they touched that she was suspicious. Her mind probed his through their family bond, snaking along his consciousness, trying to gauge what was wrong.

“Amanda.” He pulled slowly away from the hug, meeting her eyes while still holding her shoulders. “It isn’t me.”

Emotions flickered across her features, fading from confusion to alarm quickly. She looked to the kitchen, where Spock leaned against the doorframe, watching them solemnly, listening to their conversation.

Her breath caught, and she immediately went to her Vulcan father.

They were the same height, with matching heads of thick, shining Vulcan hair. Amanda was even styling her hair in a pixie cut recently, which caused her resemblance to Spock to raise to a frightening degree.

When she reached her Vulcan father, Jim was struck by how utterly similar they appeared. Yet, while Amanda displayed her dismay openly, Spock hid his thoughts everywhere but his eyes, which were taking in his daughter as if he would not see her again.

“Amanda,” Spock said softly.

“Can…can I?” She lifted her fingers to the level of his head, hovering over his psi points.

Spock hesitated, obviously worried, before he nodded reluctantly.

When her fingers joined her father’s psi points, both of their eyes fluttered closed. After only a moment, Amanda let out a strangled sob that twisted Jim’s heart.

Spock pulled her fingers away, grasping her wrists gently but firmly. He did not let them go when their eyes opened, and Amanda’s brown eyes met his. Hers were beginning to fill with tears.

“Father, you’ve been sick for months,” she accused, sounding less angry than sorrowful.

“I did not wish to worry you if nothing came of it.”

“But now?”

“Doctors McCoy and M’Benga have been working relentlessly, little one,” Spock said gently.

“I’m not little,” she said, her voice a whisper. “You have to tell me when you’re sick.”

“I am sick, ko’fu.”

Amanda started crying fully then, and she moved to wrap her arms around Spock’s neck, darkening the fabric of his shirt with her tears.

Jim moved to rub her back, trying to suppress his curiosity over what exactly Amanda had felt in the meld. She sometimes had a better sense of Spock than he did, since she was just about as telepathically gifted as her Vulcan parent.

“I can help,” she said suddenly, pulling away from Spock; her tears stopped and her fingers wiped at her eyes furiously. “I can talk to Noah and Selik, and we can help.”

“We have been in contact with Doctors and Mind Healers from Vulcan-that-was. We have the very best in the field working on him, Amanda.” Jim informed her. He smiled weakly. “Although I’m sure a Starfleet Cadet, a Starfleet medical student, and a member of the New Vulcan Science Academy could give them a run for their money.”

“Do you know anything?” She looked between them both, her eyes pleading.

Spock sighed deeply. “The symptoms appear similar in nature to Bendii Syndrome: fatigue, loss of emotional control, and fever. However, I am far too young to have succumbed to the syndrome, and my synapses do not have the same level of degeneration as expected. However, it is possible that my Human half is changing the progression of the illness or its presentation. We know very little. I am not reacting to any known neurological rebuilding protocols.”

“Have you talked to, you know, older Spock?” Amanda shrugged.

Spock nodded. “He did not succumb to the illness at my age in his timeline.”

“Doesn’t that imply it’s something you caught? Wouldn’t he have it if it were genetic?”

“Not necessarily.” Spock shook his head tiredly. “Even genetic predispositions can be triggered by environment.”

“There has to be something!” Amanda’s voice cracked. “You’re not even half a century old yet. Vulcans just don’t die of illnesses this young.”

They all stopped breathing at her use of the word die. Even she snapped her jaw shut and looked down. No one said anything for a while, letting her words bounce around in the empty room.

“We have some time until…until that, Sweetie.” Jim lifted her chin to meet his eyes, his captain voice blending with one of fatherly authority.

“Even Bendii Syndrome can take multiple years before death occurs,” Spock added. “And my case is progressing more slowly than usual.”

“But Bendii patients lose coherency far before death. You’ll lose control of your telepathy. You’ll become a danger to those around you. More than likely, even dad would have a hard time being around you.” Amanda’s voice equaled Jim’s in severity, and no one offered any counterarguments to her point.

Spock was not looking at her, instead focusing on some point over Amanda’s shoulder.

“Come on, guys. Let’s have dinner.” Jim forced a smile and motioned to herd them to the dining table. “I haven’t seen my daughter in six months, and I fully expect to hear about how much better she’s doing at the academy than I did.”

“But Dad—”

“No,” Jim said firmly. “Your father is ill, yes. But we’re not going to act like he is dead right now, Amanda T’Karik. He is right there, and we are going to keep on living, because that’s what we do in this family.”

Amanda nodded and dropped her eyes to her feet, fully chastised. “You’re right.” She took a deep breath and when her head raised, she was forcing a smile. “I’ve missed you both…and I’m not only out-scoring Dad’s scores,” she said, looking to Spock. “I’ve got a perfect score in Astro’ right now.”

Spock met her eyes and smirked. “I only missed one question on the Astrophysics final.”

“Shameful.” Her smile was genuine now. “I’ll get perfect, promise.”

Chapter Text

“What was the extent of the degeneration? Which protocols have M’Benga and McCoy tried? Could you sense—” Selik was as close to blabbering as Amanda had ever heard him. The sound of furious tapping was audible through her speakers.

“Selik, stop,” Amanda said with a sigh.

Her brother’s jaw snapped shut as he regained his control. She had thought he might panic a little, but her brother’s form of panicking was to obtain as much information as possible.

He lifted his fingers from the console, and his bright blue eyes focused on her through the viewscreen at the terminal in her dorm room.

“I’m going to go talk to Uncle Bones tomorrow,” she said, watching him closely. “He should be in town a little while longer before going to Georgia, according to Dad at least.”

Selik nodded. “You should obtain as much information as you can from him.”

“Obviously.”

“I mean as much as possible.” Selik shifted slightly, revealing some discomfort with his words.

Amanda chuckled and raised her eyebrows. “Are you saying you want me to hack dear Uncle Bones’ medical files?”

“Do not pretend as if you had any other intention.”

“You didn’t even need to suggest it, and you know it.” She rolled her eyes. “In return, you should mess around with the VSA’s medical files if you can. But we both know how interminably hard-assed Vulcan’s can be about keeping telepathic medical conditions on the down low for mere Earthlings.”

Selik grimaced at her words, obviously quite disappointed in her vernacular, but he should be used to it by now, honestly. Amanda smirked. Although he largely resembled a slightly slimmer version of James Kirk, he could look remarkably Vulcan when he was uncomfortable.

“I have already compiled some information. The search has been preliminary, however. I am sure M’Benga has access to this information.”

“New eyes perusing it won’t hurt.”

“Indeed,” Selik agreed.

Amanda turned contemplative, and she started messing with the hem of her t-shirt. “He was in a lot of pain, Selik.”

Selik’s eyes held no reaction, but he was watching her closely. “Could he control it?”

“Yeah, to an extent, when he was well rested.” She sighed. “I went digging beyond surface thoughts. I experienced severe vertigo and scorching hot pain.”

Her brother’s expression remained calm and controlled. “Vertigo and burning are telepathic projections of confusion and nerve damage.”

“I am aware.” She bit her lip. “I think it’s already pretty bad, Se. We’re lucky he’s a powerful telepath. He can hold off the worst of it.”

“He should have resigned his commission earlier,” Selik commented.

“They have a year on Terra this time around,” Amanda shrugged. “Dad’s probably gonna be asked to be an Admiral again and will probably want to turn it down again. But if Sa’mekh can’t go back out…I don’t see Dad leaving him.”

“Of course not. They are t’hy’la.”

The siblings were both silent for a moment.

“We have to figure this out, Selik. We have to.”

Sa’mekh is young and healthy. His chances of succumbing to an illness are…low.”

Amanda noted that he didn’t use numerical odds, which either meant they weren’t as low as she would like or that Selik was being gentle with her. Either way, she figured she could hassle him more about what he knew later…once she had researched more as well.

“I’m going to tell Noah. He has access to more medical information than I do.”

Selik’s eyes narrowed slightly. “What is the status of your relationship with Noah McCoy?”

Amanda grinned ruefully. “Wouldn’t we all like to know?”

Selik actually rolled his eyes. She was glad that the Vulcans hadn’t taken all of his fun away yet.

“I will return to my studies,” he told her. “I will contact you when I have amassed more information and forward you anything that I find relevant through a secured channel.”

“Same. See ya, Selik.” She waved.

Selik formed the ta’al. “Live long and prosper.”

When her viewscreen went dark, the silence echoed interminably in her dorm room. She checked the several programs she had running on her computer. One was carefully combing through Dr. Leonard McCoy’s medical files for any references to Vulcans, telepathy, or hybrid physiology. Another was doing the same to Dr. Geoff M’Benga’s files. She had an even subtler program trying to make its way into Starfleet Medical’s databases.

Unfortunately Starfleet Medical was the most difficult at present. She had more experience with hacking personal files. Heaven knows she had done it far too many times while living on the Enterprise. But Starfleet’s medical files were some of the highest priority in all of the Federation.

She frowned at the locations where her program failed, wrote a few new strings of code, some more elegant functions, threw in a few diagnostic loops to get a better feel for the security, and then sent the program back into the field.

Amanda then did something she rarely did. Amanda T’Karik Kirk changed into her meditation robes—one of three pairs of Vulcan clothing that she owned.

The process of securing herself in the loose, yet complicated fabric reminded her of her Father and calmed her.

She looked at herself in the mirror. The upswept eyebrows and pointed ears seemed to stand out more against the black of her robes. She looked like Spock, and at this moment, she wished that she could take his place.

Amanda folded herself gracefully onto her meditation mat, falling into the position that her Father had drilled into her—with varying degrees of success—long ago. With a deep exhale, she let her mind drift. Surak’s precepts immediately started to whisper through her mind, like wind through the forest of her thoughts.

She successfully meditated for almost two hours, losing track of time except for the small awareness of it in her brainstem. Spock and Selik would have been proud.

A light knock on her door aroused her from her meditative state, and when she blinked, she felt more calm and collected than she had in a long time.

The time was 01:47, and she had no idea who might be at her door at this hour.

Noah McCoy stood on the other side of the door. He was wearing Starfleet Medical Scrubs. His brown hair was messy, and his eyes were blood shot.

“Meditation robes?” he asked, by way of greeting.

“Yeah,” she said, raising an eyebrow.

“That bad, huh?” His eyes gentled.

“Vulcans meditate. It doesn’t mean I’m screwed up.” She stood out of the way to let him into the room.

He strolled in with a sigh. “Yeah, but you don’t meditate unless you’re on the verge of a panic attack.”

She closed the door behind him, considering if he was right or not. When she realized that 87.654% of the times that she meditated were during extremely stressful events, she chose not to answer.

“Why are you here at 2 in the morning?” She asked instead.

“I was just getting off duty at my internship in the ER.” He collapsed on her bed without invitation, the datapad in his hand falling on his stomach as he splayed his arms.

Amanda replaced herself on the ground, on her meditation mat, watching him.

“I had a transmission from your brother, of all people,” he continued. “The only words in the message are ‘Here is preliminary data and information. More detailed information will be forthcoming.’ And then there’s something like a hundred attachments to Vulcan medical texts and scientific papers.”

Amanda sighed, realizing that she should have foreseen her brother acting immediately. It had been early in the day on New Vulcan.

“Since I don’t know all that many Vulcans, I figured something had gone to shit with my favorite Vulcans.” Noah sat up, his eyes conveying his sympathy despite the exhaustion in them. “Are you okay, ‘Manda?”

She stood and moved to sit across from him. He watched her closely, as if he could sense any problems.

“Spock is sick,” she said softly as the bed creaked beneath her. The meditation had given her enough control that her voice did not crack.

Noah frowned. “How bad?”

“Worse than he’s making it out to be. Hopefully better than I am.” She knew how weary she sounded, but this was Noah.

“How…what do you know?”

Amanda told him what little she knew, and she could see as his mind started turning over possibilities. He was young and untrained, but much like his Father, he took to medicine like a fish to water.

“I’ll get started right away,” he said firmly, meeting her eyes. “I’ll help with whatever I can.”

“That’s why I told you. And you actually spend all day thinking about illnesses. Selik and I don’t. So your perspective is appreciated.”

Noah’s eyes narrowed slightly in concern. “Are you okay?”

Amanda smiled wanly. “I’m Vulcan.”

He reached out a hand and let it settle on her shoulder, no skin contact. “I’m here for you. Always and anything you need.”

She settled her hand on his, her telepathy recognizing him immediately. His mind was easily the most familiar to her outside of her family. In some ways, his mind was like her Father’s: gentle but sharp. But his emotional competency was beyond anything a Vulcan, even a hybrid like herself, could fathom.

Noah’s pupils dilated slightly at the telepathic influx, but he adjusted quickly and winked at her. Fondness and a jumble of lust/attraction/tenderness trickled through the connection.

Amanda pulled away, not quite feeling up to dealing with his emotions at this moment.

“I’ve seen your dads get out of worse than this,” Noah said, settling his hand back in his lap. “We’ve got this.”

“Thanks, Noah,” she said sincerely, offering him her best smile.

Noah grinned. “Us McCoys will be taking care of the Kirks for generations to come.”

“Shut up.” She shoved him lightly. “The McCoys wouldn’t know what to do without Kirks to make life interesting.”

Noah rolled his eyes but laughed all the same.

\/\/\\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/

Jim knew what his kids were doing. He assumed they would do something like this as soon as they knew about Spock’s illness, but he didn’t bother to check until about a month after he and Spock had told Amanda.

All the same, he was shocked at the sheer amount of programming he traced to his daughter’s computer. By simply looking at how much hard drive space she had filled, he knew she had probably downloaded everything Bones and M’Benga had, plus some. He knew, as a well-respected and high-ranking member of Starfleet, he should probably report that a Cadet had most likely compromised their medical files. And yet, he couldn’t bring himself to honestly care.

On the one hand, he knew that the chance of Selik and Amanda finding anything that McCoy or M’Benga had not was slim. His kids were brilliant and passionate, but they were so young still. However, he knew that they had to do something because they were his and Spock’s children. Of course, they would try their hardest until they had exhausted every avenue.

So instead of saving his findings of Amanda’s computer history, he deleted everything he had found. He would be a horrible hypocrite if he told his kids to stop doing something that he would do in a heartbeat and had done for the last few months.

“Jim?” Spock said from the doorway of his office.

“Hey Spock,” he said, shutting his terminal down.

“Would you like to accompany me to lunch?” Spock was wearing his professorial blacks, his arms tucked neatly behind his back.

“Yeah, sure.” Jim smiled.

“How are your classes progressing?”

Jim relished how normal this felt, how comfortable, when Spock was discussing work and not Vulcan telepathic illnesses.

“Great. I’ve got a brilliant group of seniors.”

Spock’s eyes glinted with amusement. “Are you using our old mission logs for teaching again?”

“Well of course, but I supplement with other logs.”

“I do not believe Captain Sulu’s mission logs count as diversification in curriculum, Jim.”

“I swear, I use other missions.” Jim chuckled. “And how’s the world of science?”

“My experiments are progressing well.” Spock tilted his head. “And I am teaching first year cadets this summer. They are exceedingly…immature.”

“Your daughter is only finishing her first year,” Jim reminded.

“Amanda’s maturity surpasses that of my students, I assure you.”

“Proud dad,” Jim accused, bumping Spock with his shoulder.

Spock met Jim’s eyes, his expression soft. “I assure you, my analysis of the situation is unbiased.”

“Dirty Vulcan liar.”

Spock shrugged minutely.

Jim grinned, matching Spock’s stride as they exited the Academy onto the front lawn.

He could not help but inspect Spock’s gait as they made their way to Spock’s favorite restaurant for lunch. His bondmate looked good today, his face untroubled and his posture straight.

Jim moved closer to him, letting his fingers gently rest on Spock’s lower back. He smiled encouragingly. “You look good today, ashayam.”

Spock stiffened slightly at the reference to his illness. “Dr. McCoy’s most recent treatments have alleviated the most aggravating head pain.”

“You should tell Amanda,” Jim said, thinking of the no doubt complicated project that their children had going regarding Spock.

“I do not wish to trouble her, Jim.”

“It troubles her more when you don’t update her.”

Spock met his eyes briefly, considering. Then he nodded. “I believe you might be correct.”

“I know I’m right. You’re insane if you think either of them don’t think about what they can do every day.”

Spock sighed. “I wish they would not.”

“What would you do? If it were them?”

Twenty years ago, Spock might have responded with something along the lines of ‘idle speculation is illogical’ or ‘there is no logic in considering hypothetical situations which have not come to pass.’ But now, the Vulcan contemplated the question seriously.

“I would obviously work tirelessly to determine a solution.” Spock sighed. “I believe the Terran saying is, ‘I would move heaven and earth.’”

“Exactly,” Jim agreed.

Spock’s expression darkened immediately. “Jim, what are they doing?”

“I dunno,” he said, semi-honestly.

“I do not believe you.”

“I think they’re researching some information, but I really don’t know anything beyond that, Spock.”

“We should not—”

“Just let them,” Jim interrupted. “It’s how they deal with this, Spock. They’re your kids. They research, they hypothesize, they move heaven and earth to help. It’s who they are.”

Spock looked ready to protest, his jaw tight and his forehead wrinkled in distress.

“They love you so much,” Jim said, a gentle smile on his face. “They need to feel like they’re doing something. You get that?”

Spock exhaled heavily and nodded. “I suppose.”

“We can intervene if their studies suffer, I promise.” Jim clapped his hands together. “Now, let’s get some lunch. I’m starving.”

Spock let the subject drop, following Jim into the restaurant. “Do not get the sha’vah tea again, Jim. You recall your reaction last time.”

“But it’s so spicy!”

“Jim.”

Chapter Text

The most curious side effect of the illness plaguing Spock’s mind was that he had begun to experience dreams. Dreams were a very human phenomenon, the subconscious method by which the species sorted and dealt with a wide array of stimuli experienced during waking hours.

Spock’s mental landscape had always held more similarities with his father’s race than his mother’s. As such, he had always processed information as Vulcans do: by meditation.

He was not sure if the dreams were a side effect of the illness directly or of his own exhaustion. He had been sleeping more than ever before, nearly six hours per night now, and when he did sleep, he achieved a deeper state of sleep than he had ever experienced, something closer to REM sleep in humans.

Still his dreams were not, as he understood it, quite exactly like those of humans. For the most part, he relived his past, his eidetic memory bringing him through the corridors of his mind with clarity that he was certain humans did not experience, if Jim’s bleary-eyed descriptions of absurd dreams were anything to go by.

He was nearly always lucid in his dreams, simultaneously reliving a memory but also aware that physically he was in his bed, Jim beside him, fast asleep.

Spock supposed that the dream he was having now could be qualified as a nightmare.

“Spock, they have our children!” Dream-Jim was screaming at him. The Captain’s command gold was dulled with dirt and torn at the junction of his left arm and torso.

“I am aware, Jim,” Spock said, sounding calm to his own ears. Even though Spock was aware of the fact that he was dreaming, his mind forced him to relive not only the actions but also the emotions of the day. The terror was bitter in his stomach, the fury bright in his mind.

“Why the fuck are we here then?” Jim kicked his desk chair, grimacing in pain.

“We have been relieved of duty by Starfleet.”

“And Uhura and Scotty let them, Spock. What the hell?”

“As our offspring are the most recent victims of the kidnappers in this sector, we are emotionally compromised.”

“You don’t look emotionally compromised.”

“Jim,” Spock’s voice was patient. “You of all people should know that the emotions I show do not necessarily reflect the reality within.”

Jim crumpled, his eyes softened and his jaw loosened. “Damn it, Spock. I’m sorry. I’m just…I can’t deal with this.”

“We can and will. Uhura and Scotty make a formidable command team. Aside from ourselves, I would trust no one else to retrieve our children more swiftly.”

“We should have taken a position on Terra.” Jim met Spock’s eyes with pain. “Taking our kids on a starship was incredibly selfish. They’re only five!”

Spock did not say anything, but his fingers tightened behind his back. He watched Jim collapse on their bed, breathing deeply, obviously fighting tears.

“Two Vulcan children were stolen from New Vulcan in the last two months,” Spock said into the silence. “Four Tellarite youth were taken from Tellar. Two Humans and one Orion were taken from Earth Spacedock. Jim, the universe is dangerous. Perhaps our children would have been safer in San Francisco, but that is by no means a statistical certainty. Indeed as our children, they will always be targets.”

“Is that supposed to make me feel better?” Jim asked, his voice raw now.

“No. It is a statement of fact. I personally would rather have the firepower and manpower of a Constitution class starship to defend my offspring.”

“We don’t have this ship right now. Starfleet relieved us.”

“We will arrive at the last known hub of the traders in half an hour.” Spock sat on the bed next to Jim, putting his pointer and middle fingers on his bondmate’s temple in a show of emotional solidarity. “I believe we can convince our acting Captain and First Officer to assign us to an away team in that time period.”

The dream melted as the scene shifted, the bright white and silver of their quarters fading into dark brown and grey. The smell of re-circulated air was replaced by the scent of rust and mud and blood.

Spock held a phaser. Jim and Dr. McCoy flanked him, with three other crewmembers bringing up the rear. They had just teleported down into a warehouse on the planet that they believed the pirates used to store their goods.

The room was too quiet, but Spock could sense the touch of minds from all around him. “There are living beings in this room,” he said to the rest of the away team. He knew that the bridge was probably listening in as well. Nyota had their frequencies.

“Sir?” one of the security team whispered to him. “I see cages over here.”

Selik was there, huddled into the corner of a cell with two other children. Jim and Spock took that cage, easily breaking the lock mechanism and opening the door.

The two other children looked human. They had dark hair and bright green eyes that watched Spock and Jim with fear.

“Hey, it’s alright, we’re Starfleet. We’re here to rescue you.” Jim’s voice was gentle, and although he addressed the two strangers, his eyes never left Selik.

Selik had not opened his eyes when the cage opened. He was settled into a Vulcan meditation pose, his face oddly serene, despite the dingy surroundings and even worse state of his clothing.

At the sound of Jim’s voice, Selik’s eyes snapped open, the blue irises zoning in on his fathers immediately.

“Selik,” Jim said softly, holding out a hand. He did not make a move to touch his son. He was waiting for Selik to reach out to him.

Spock realized that Jim’s actions were slow in case Selik had endured abuse at the hands of his captors, and Spock was filled with nausea. On the heels of the nausea was an all encompassing rage that someone dare harm his child.

Selik barely hesitated before grabbing his dad’s hand. Jim pulled him gently closer until the boy was nestled safely in his chest.

Selik began crying in earnest. At this age, Selik was only just growing adept at meditation. His control over emotions was hardly better than a particularly sedate human. Spock could not find any fault in his reaction at this time.

“I’ve got you, buddy. You’re safe.” Jim was stroking the boy’s back, and Spock could see the beginnings of tears in Jim’s eyes.

Spock, despite his desire to go to Jim and Selik, helped the other two children out of the cage.

Dr. McCoy was scanning a group of eight children collected by the rest of the away team. McCoy looked up at Spock as the Vulcan added two more to the group.

“Selik is with Jim.” Spock’s eyes surveyed the group. “All of the children in this warehouse are human,” he observed. “Or at least appear to be,” he amended, thinking of Selik.

McCoy nodded, looking back to his tricorder. “Any sense of Amanda?”

“Only that she lives,” Spock said, his chest feeling tight.

Jim walked up with Selik on his hip. The boy had his arms tightly around Jim’s neck, his face nestled into collarbone.

Spock let the tips of his fingers brush against Selik’s forehead, lulling the boy into sleep and sending a sense of calm through their bond. The boy’s small fingers relaxed on Jim’s shirt and his breathing evened out.

“I must continue to search,” Spock told Jim softly. “You and Dr. McCoy should beam back up with these children. Our scans showed that they check this warehouse every hour. We do not have much time.”

“Keep Bones. None of these kids are seriously injured,” Jim said softly, his eyes tight with pain. “I’d stay with you but…I don’t think he should be alone.”

“Of course,” Spock agreed. They had decided long ago that as long as they had children on the ship, they should not be on away teams together. Too much could go wrong, and their children deserve at least one parent.

“Fight like hell, Spock,” Jim said, which did not make a lot of sense, but Spock accepted the sentiment.

Jim beamed up the children, leaving Spock with the rest of the away team.

Spock knew how this memory ended. He, McCoy, and the rest of the team found a room with the more “exotic” captures. Here they found Vulcans, Klingons, Orions, Tellarites, and Andorians.

Here they found Amanda. Spock remembered how he found her in her cell. She had been put alone, a small mercy for the telepathic child. Her arms had been covered in green bruises, her cheek broken with the force of a backhand.

Her eyes were defiant when he opened the cage door, ready to fight and kick and scream, and Spock realized then how she got her bruises. Amanda had always been Jim’s child.

When she had seen her Father, she had attacked him with a ferocity that rivaled a Klingon. “Daddy! Father!” She rarely called him ‘daddy,’ saving the human term of endearment for Jim.

Spock held her tightly while they escaped the warehouse.

That was how the memory should have ended.

That is not what happened now.

Spock opened her cage. Amanda’s wild eyes did not meet his. Her small five-year old body was limp in the corner of the cage, sprawled against the bars as if she had been thrown there.

He fell to his knees at her side, turning her body gently onto her back. She did not stir, and her skin was too cold to the touch. Green blood was smeared from her mouth to her chin.

Spock’s fingers found her meld points swiftly, and he attempted to meld. Nothing occurred.

The tiny body jerked beneath him, and her head tilted to reveal the burn of disruptor fire at her temple. One breath escaped her mouth and then she was still.

He became suddenly, painfully aware of his bond with her. He reinforced his hold. The bond was not gone. She could not be dead.

And yet here her body lay, her dark hair matted with blood and her tiny fingers limp and unresponsive in his hands. He picked her up, cradling her to his chest.

“Amanda, no,” he said softly, illogically. It was illogical to protest a fact, and yet he must.

This was not what happened. This was wrong. Wrong.

Or was it wrong? It felt real. Her lifeless body was nearly weightless in his arms, her heartbeat silent against his abdomen.

Was this a dream? Was he losing his sanity? Did the loss of his daughter make him wish it were a dream?

Spock tried to call out to McCoy, but he could not form the words. His throat was caught, stuck, broken. He tried to yell, for Jim, for McCoy, for Amanda, for Selik, for Sarek, for his mother. But nothing happened. He held his dead daughter and slumped against the dirty cage.

Defeated. He closed his eyes.

“Spock!” Jim’s voice. He blinked.

He was not in a cage. The air was clean. He took a rough breath.

“Daddy,” his daughter’s voice, pained, older than it should be. He blinked again.

He was in his apartment in San Francisco. He had been…he had been dreaming.

Amanda was seated next to him on his bed, her eyes filled with tears. “I’m okay, Sa’mekh,” she whispered.

Spock lifted himself, his arms feeling too weak for the simple motion.

“Spock, are you okay?” Jim was kneeling next to him, his hands hovering, unsure what to do.

“I was dreaming,” he said, confusion evident in his tone. “Why are you here, Amanda?”

She sucked in a breath. “You were…calling for me.” She reached up and tapped her own forehead.

Spock examined his own mind and found her bond strained, as if it had been cramping for too long and was sore.

“I apologize, ko’fu.”

Amanda took a deep breath and smiled at him. He had been around humans long enough to know a fake smile when he saw one.

She sniffled through her nose, a wet sound, and she rubbed over it with the back of her hand. With horror, Spock watched her hand come away green.

“I have injured you,” Spock said, sounding calmer than he felt. “Call Leonard, Jim.”

“Selik’s already gone to get him,” Amanda told him, wiping the blood off her hand onto her pants, darkening the fabric. “I’m alright. It’s not a big deal.”

Jim’s mouth was set in a grim line, watching them both.

“Was Selik similarly affected?” Spock asked, watching Amanda closely for any other symptoms.

She shook her head.

Spock moved to get off the bed, and Amanda quickly moved out of the way. She held out a hand, but he ignored it, suppressing a sigh.

“Maybe you should stay sitting down, Spock,” Jim said, hesitantly.

Spock opened his mouth to reply when the sound of people entering the apartment stopped him.

Selik entered the room with Dr. McCoy following behind him. The boy was as tall as Amanda, rivaling Spock in height. He wore Vulcan robes consistently now, and somehow managed to look as Vulcan as any of his homeworld despite the unique blonde phenotype. Although he had favored Jim’s features for his entire childhood, his face now had the sharp angles of Vulcan and his eyes were solemn in a way that reminded Spock of Sarek. And yet, they were so, so blue.

Those serious eyes were trained on him now, analytical in a way that Spock was not used to seeing on Earth.

“What’s wrong?” Leonard said immediately. He was already pointing his tricorder at Spock.

“Doctor, if you could scan Amanda, I believe you will find she needs help more than I do.”

Selik’s head snapped to his sister.

“No,” Amanda rubbed her nose again, as if to check for blood, “I’m alright. Just a bit of a headache.”

“I believe I may have inadvertently caused her telepathic trauma,” Spock said, hating that his voice shook slightly.

Dr. McCoy turned his tricorder on Amanda, flipping the settings to her personal baseline. He murmured to himself, and Spock leaned over his shoulder to view the readout.

“You’re fine,” the doctor said gruffly. “A bit of strain. But it’ll heal on its own.”

“Doctor,” Spock’s voice was careful, controlled. “This cannot happen again.”

“Well, yeah,” McCoy turned to him frowning. “Of course we don’t want it do happen again.”

“I did this while asleep. I no longer have control of my subconscious.” Spock met Leonard’s gaze. Aside from his own family, Dr. McCoy was easily the most familiar being in the universe to him. He knew the planes on his face and had been there for the making of the scars.

He saw when the words penetrated Leonard’s mind, finally dawning what the Vulcan was trying to imply. “Spock, no.”

“I will not hurt my family.” His voice was calm, firm.

“I won’t do it.”

“You must.”

“What are you talking about?” Amanda interrupted his stare-down with the doctor. She had grasped his shoulder, forcing him to take note of her presence.

“Your damn fool father wants to take telepathic inhibitors,” Dr. McCoy said, crossing his arms defiantly.

“Wha—”

“I would appreciate you upholding patient confidentiality, Doctor,” Spock let his voice fall coldly.

Leonard had the sense to look abashed. He stopped speaking, letting his head drop.

“Father, you can’t do that,” Amanda was bewildered. “You’re only functioning as well as you are because of your control. If you repress your abilities…”

“Your function will decline precipitously,” Selik continued where his sister left off. “Every case of neurological failure in a Vulcan has only been worsened by mental dampening.”

Spock knew this, of course. And he noted the ease of familiarity that Selik spoke of such matters.

“If I were only concerned about my own functionality, of course, I would not take inhibitors. As it stands, my only choices are to sever my mental bonds or dampen my telepathy. Which would you prefer, Selik?” Spock snapped, feeling his emotions rubbing raw. He hated how helpless he felt, helpless against the anger and frustration that burned at his neurons.

Selik flinched, dropping his gaze.

“Spock,” Leonard said softly, he made an abortive motion to place his hand on Spock’s shoulder. Instead, the doctor motioned in the general direction of his head. “How about I give you something to stop dreaming? You’ve still got plenty of control when you’re awake.”

His control was still holding strong as far as he could tell when he was awake. That his condition had worsened to the point of lack of control when sleeping was alarming, but maybe not a reason to give up on other alternatives.

He nodded shortly and glanced to his daughter, who was biting her bottom lip.

“Amanda,” he said, gentling the edges of his tone. She looked at him, her warm brown eyes full of worry. “Promise me that if you feel any telepathy through our bond, you will tell me.”

She barely hesitated before nodding. “I promise, Sa’mekh.”

“Although Amanda is most likely to sense any major changes, due to proximity and telepathic sensitivity, if either of you feel anything, it is of utmost importance that I know.” Spock looked to Selik and Jim in turn. They both nodded somberly.

“It’s a plan then,” Dr. McCoy said with a pained smile. “We’ll tackle this thing every step of the way, Spock.”

Spock sighed, wishing he were alone to meditate. “As we always have, Leonard.”

Chapter Text

“You should not drink a liter of whiskey twelve hours after undergoing telepathic trauma,” Selik said dryly, watching his sister drink straight from the Kentucky Bourbon bottle on her desk.

“Eh, I barely feel it.” She shrugged. “Plus, it wasn’t trauma. More like the equivalent of father screaming into my ear for an extended period of time.”

Noah McCoy grimaced over at her. He was sprawled on her bed, reading on his PADD through one of the books Selik had brought with him from New Vulcan. “Pleasant,” he commented, proceeding to take a sip of the tumbler of whiskey in his hand.

“The duration of my visit is two weeks,” Selik reminded them. “Will we be squandering this opportunity of joint research on drinking every night?”

“Selik,” Amanda grumbled. “Dad’s illness just took a turn for the worse. I’m allowed to mourn a bit.”

“Mourning will not cure him.”

“Fine.” She took a final gulp from the bottle and then screwed the cap back on. “I’ll be sober in like thirty minutes anyway.”

“Noah, have you figured out that theory you had about action potentials?” Selik asked, ignoring his sister.

“I dunno, man.” Noah’s voice was slower than usual, but not slurred. He handled his alcohol better than Amanda, even if she processed it much, much faster. He jumped into an eloquent explanation of neurobiology that left Selik somewhat impressed, although he would never tell Noah that.

“T’Laren studied our father’s neurobiology when he was a child.” Selik said, after Noah had finished speaking. “Have you read her paper?”

“Yeah,” Noah shrugged. “She had some interesting conclusions. Mostly based off of some samples she took. My dad’s done some parallel studies recently, and everything seemed largely the same. But all evidence points to minimal neural degeneration, despite the loss of telepathic control. It makes no sense.”

Amanda had her head cradled in her hands, her eyes closed against the world. Selik was not sure if she was still injured from earlier or just drunk.

“I’m just really tired today,” she said, as if she could sense him looking at her; perhaps she could.

“Did you see what Spock was dreaming about?” Noah asked her, his brow furrowed.

Amanda groaned. “Yeah. I think that’s what sucked the most.” She peered at Selik through her fingers. “Remember the pirates?”

Selik remembered cold cages and fear and rust. He sorted the experience away, as he always did. It was a long time ago. He nodded at Amanda.

“He was there.” Amanda expanded. “But in his dream, I died.”

“Ouch,” Noah winced.

“I’m just really tired of shit happening, you know?” she gestured at her computer and then at her surroundings.

Selik sighed and went back to his reading. Amanda was pretty much useless when she was in moods like this.

Noah murmured some words of comfort to Amanda, which Selik steadfastly ignored for his own sake.

They all eventually fell into silence, reading their own works, sending each other anything interesting or any ideas via their communal notebook online.

“Do you know what I’m most tired of?” Amanda questioned.

Selik looked up at her, not expecting anything helpful to come of this. She was obviously in a bitter mood.

“The stupid Starfleet error message ‘Sorry, the database which you are trying to access no longer exists or has been moved.’” Amanda kicked at the ground, as if it were her floor’s fault. “As if Nero didn’t take enough from us. He’s gotta take all of that knowledge. God, what if the answers were there? On Vulcan? And now it’s all gone.”

Noah was nodding. “Or the VSA’s message: ‘The file you are attempting to retrieve has been lost.’ A little melodramatic for Vulcans, if you ask me.”

“The loss of the Vulcan homeworld went far beyond the loss of life,” Selik said, by way of agreement.

“What I wouldn’t give for just a day in the old Vulcan archives.” Amanda frowned at her computer.

Selik sighed. He was just as frustrated about the lack of knowledge as Amanda. Perhaps even moreso: he spent most of his time researching on Vulcan and was therefore intimately familiar with the information lost to his people.

“Don’t Vulcans have eidetic memories? Can’t the surviving Vulcans re-record a lot of the knowledge?” Noah looked to Selik for the answer.

“Although Vulcans on average have a remarkable memory, memories cannot stand for hard scientific data.” He sat his PADD down and leaned back in his chair. “Even now, a large amount of New Vulcan resources are dedicated to replicating data from key experiments. No one wants to cite data that no longer exists.”

“Oh. I guess that’s why all of those new scientific journals are coming out of New Vulcan?”

“Yes. We want a place to publish important data for experiments that may have been published on other planets, but no longer exist from Vulcan scientists.”

Amanda stood to get herself a glass of water. She was being oddly and suspiciously quiet. Her lips were tilted down as she looked at her water.

“Amanda?” Selik questioned.

Her head snapped up, eyes widening, like they did when she was a child caught breaking the rules.

“Is something wrong?”

She hesitated, letting her eyes dart over to Noah and around the room before settling back on her water. “I was just thinking about how unfair it is that we’ve lost all of that information.”

“The universe is not fair,” he pointed out.

“I mean, what if we could get to it…the information?” Her voice was overly casual.

“We cannot,” Selik said, furrowing his brow. “Even if we could, there is no guarantee that there’s any information.”

“Approximately 90% of the information on Vulcan neurobiology was completely lost.” Her voice was flat. Noah winced at the number, although it was true. “What little remains is the knowledge of mind healers. And there are only a handful of those alive.”

“Yes, but…”

“And of those, maybe one or two even advanced enough to think about a case as difficult as our father’s. There’s something on Vulcan-that-was. There has to be.”

From previous experience, Selik knew the fervor in Amanda’s voice needed to be broached with caution.

“It is pointless to engage in idle speculation.” Selik kept his voice calm.

“It isn’t speculation. We’ve done it before. We could travel to Vulcan.”

Noah sucked in a breath, remembering the incident all those years ago. Selik flushed, the event both shameful and vivid in his memory.

“No,” Selik said sharply.

“That was an accident, ‘manda.” Noah’s voice was gentle.

“Doesn’t matter. We time travelled, Selik.” Amanda set her glass of water down and started moving her hands excitedly. Their dad did that when he was full of adrenaline as well.

“Time travel is not something to engage in frivolously.”

“Our father dying isn’t frivolous.”

“Alright,” Selik allowed. “But it is too dangerous. We might change the past irrevocably. We could just make things worse. Or we could get stuck there.”

“But we could find something. What if we can save him?”

“His condition is not so dire.”

“Not yet.”

Silence. Noah was watching them closely, obviously not desiring to enter the argument, or perhaps he did not believe it to be his place.

“Even if we wanted to…to time travel,” Selik coughed on the word, “the likelihood of us creating a working time machine are negligible.”

“Hardly negligible. We have created one. If we can mimic the conditions of the accidental time travel and run some tests, there’s no way we couldn’t figure out some way of controlling it.”

“It would be irresponsible!” Selik stood now too, matching his sister eye to eye. “We would be performing an action that could affect millions…no, billions of lives Amanda. If we make a mistake in the past…”

“We can be careful.”

“Careful? Your response to the possibility of world ending paradoxes is to be careful?”

“It’s our father! It’s Sa’mekh. And I cannot watch him die, Selik.” Amanda’s voice cracked, her eyes going glassy. “Not while I know there’s something I could do.”

Selik took a deep breath. He could never stand Amanda crying. “We are doing something.”

“It isn’t enough, and you know it.” Tears were filling her eyes. “Bones and M’Benga are smarter than us in this. If they haven’t found something, we probably won’t either.”

Selik looked away. He knew that, intellectually. He knew that the chance of he, Noah, and Amanda finding something that professionals long in their field had not found was slim. To think that they could find anything was a folly of youth. He knew that, but admitting it felt like defeat.

Illogical.

“Then by your logic,” Selik said, his voice strained, “we should send the doctors back. Not us.”

“They’d never go. Our dads would find out. They wouldn’t let anyone risk themselves for this.”

Selik watched his sister, her brown eyes glinting with passion, her body thrumming with an excitement she had not shown since learning of their father’s illness.

“Wait a few more months before making any decisions,” he said finally. “Doctors McCoy and M’Benga have not explored every possibility yet, and our father is still at nearly normal functionality.”

“But today…”

“I believe it was a lapse due to exhaustion, which is understandable. No one was irrevocably injured. Hopefully Doctor McCoy’s fix will be sufficient for at least another year.”

Maybe a year was generous on his part, but there was so much conflicting data and no known timetable for what their father was experiencing. So the best prognosis that Selik could even hope to make was an inference.

Amanda knew that, of course, but she nodded. “Fine.”

Although his sister appeared calmer now, he could see in the set of her shoulders and the spark in her eye that she had made a decision. Nothing he said could stop her or change her mind.

Selik could only hope that they found a cure before he got desperate enough to follow his sister into certain danger.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/

10 Months Later

The chime of the apartment door echoed in the silence of the evening. Jim looked up from the trashy novel he was reading. Spock, who had been napping in their bed, blinked over at Jim.

“Are we expecting visitors?”

Jim frowned, putting a small piece of paper in his book to hold his spot.

“No.”

It was late, too late for a casual visitor. As Jim rose to move toward the front door, Spock wrapped himself in one of his Vulcan robes.

When Jim opened the door, he tilted his head in surprise at the visitor.

“Noah?”

The boy was shivering, despite being bundled in an old Starfleet Medical sweatshirt, one that had once belonged to Bones. A messenger bad was slung across his shoulders; he was grasping the strap so tightly his hands were white. He met Jim’s eyes but shifted nervously on his feet.

“Hello, Admiral. May I come in?”

Jim frowned. “Are Amanda and Selik alright?”

“Yes, sir. I came to see you and Mr. Spock.”

“Alright, son. Come on in.” Jim stepped out of the doorway to let Noah in. “Do you want something to drink?”

Noah checked his watch quickly, then nodded. “Yes. Water, please.”

“Okay, go take a seat on the couch then.”

Spock met Jim’s eyes as he turned to go to the kitchen. They had been together long enough that Jim could read the confusion in Spock’s gaze, and Jim wished he had some human insight. But he was clueless.

Jim heard Spock and Noah exchanging words in the living room. As he filled a glass of water, he tried to sort through what Noah could possibly want.

The boy was Amanda’s on-and-off boyfriend, which Jim tried not to think about too much, and as far as he could tell, Selik and Noah were friendly. But Noah had always kept his distance from Jim and Spock, especially since the time they caught him and Amanda melding.

“Here you go,” Jim said, offering the glass of water to the boy.

“Thank you, sir.”

Noah took a sip of the water, and there was an uncomfortable silence. He was sitting alone on the couch. Spock sat in a chair near the couch, and Jim took another next to Spock, leaving Noah looking incredibly small and nervous by himself.

“Mr. McCoy, what is the reason for your visit?” Spock’s tone was surprisingly gentle.

Noah looked horrifyingly guilty for a brief second before his expression cleared. “My dad is on his way.”

“Why?” Jim frowned.

“I—” Noah checked his watch again. “My dad said he’d be here soon.”

“Noah,” Jim let the edge of authority enter his voice. “What’s going on? Are Amanda and Selik okay?”

“They’re fine, sir.”

Jim opened his mouth to protest the vague statement when the front door opened without any warning. Bones.

“What’s going on? What’s wrong?” Bones shuffled through the front door, obviously having used his emergency override code.

“Nothing, Bones. We’re fine.” Jim stood for his friend, confused. “What made you think something was wrong?”

“Noah called me…” Bones eyes narrowed on his son. “What’s going on?”

Noah swallowed uncomfortably as all of the adults turned to look at him. He glanced at his watch again and took a deep breath.

“I’m really, really sorry. I’m so sorry I can’t even begin to say how sorry.” The words spilled from Noah’s lips and his voice cracked horribly.

Jim’s heart sunk. His brilliant, stupid children.

“What’s going on? What are they doing?”

Bones strode over to his son and grabbed his shoulder. “Where are they? Are they in danger?”

As Jim waited for a response, he felt a slight tingling in the back of his mind, like an itch. He frowned and then—

Pain. Searing pain split his skull in two. He fell to his knees, gasped with the sharpness of it. His eyes blurred, tears from the pain. He tried to focus on the ground beneath him, his fingers on the grain of the wood, but he couldn’t.

Noah was suddenly there, pulling something out of his bag. “This should help,” the boy murmured. And then a hypo was being pressed gently into Jim’s neck. While Jim’s vision cleared, Noah whispered apologies as he fiddled with a tricorder.

“What…” Jim resisted the nausea that threatened to overtake him.

He knew this feeling. He had felt it before…his telepathic bonds with Amanda and Selik breaking. This had happened before, last time that his children had time traveled.

“Spock?” Jim whispered, unable to check on his bondmate without succumbing to his nausea.

“Dad’s taking care of him. I think he’s fine.” Noah’s hand was on Jim’s back. “I’m so sorry. What hurts right now? Did the suppressor I gave you help the pain? What else can I do?”

“Nausea?” Jim said immediately.

“Right.” Noah shuffled through his bag and pulled out another hypo.

When that one took effect, Jim could finally settle back on his heels and look somewhere other than the ground.

Spock was leaning forward in his chair, his hands white against his forehead, his elbows resting on his knees.

T’hy’la?” Jim asked, his voice soft, speaking in Vulcan without even thinking about it.

Jim could hear Spock’s intake of breath.

Bones was glaring murderously at his son. “Noah, what the hell is going on? You knew that someone with a degenerative neurological disease was about to undergo trauma? And you let it happen?”

“That’s why I called you,” Noah said firmly.

“He could have had a seizure.”

“I know.” Noah looked down. “They knew. I brought hypos.”

“You brought hypos?! That’s your defense?!”

Jim ignored the McCoy showdown in favor of crawling over to Spock’s chair, not even worried about looking undignified. He collapsed against the fabric covering Spock’s leg, his forehead soaking in the heat of his Vulcan.

Spock’s hand fell onto the back of Jim’s neck, and the resulting reinforcement of their bond was a small relief from the chaos. Jim closed his eyes.

“Spock,” Bones’ voice was soft. “Is there anything I can do?”

Anger, frustration, sorrow, anger. Spock’s emotions flowed through their bond, and Jim’s breath caught.

“Where are they?” Spock asked, his voice rough.

Jim opened his eyes again, watching Noah, who looked wrecked.

“Vulcan,” Noah whispered.

“Probability of success?” Spock’s voice was almost normal sounding now, which actually scared Jim more than anything. He sounded…clinical.

“They felt pretty confident that—”

Numbers. I know my children, and I know they had numbers.” Dangerous. Now Spock’s voice sounded dangerous.

“92.432% chance of successful time travel.” Noah, to his credit, met Spock’s gaze. His voice shook. “71.654% chance of correct location. 59.881% chance of successful return.”

Bones swore.

“Oh my god,” Jim whispered, closing his eyes again.

“I’m so sorry,” Noah choked out. “I’ll never forgive myself if she…if they don’t come back. You have to believe me, I…”

“Why?” Spock asked, standing now. Jim scrambled from his place on the floor to stand too.

Noah’s mouth snapped shut, his apology dying on his lips. “What?”

“Why did they go?”

Noah blinked. “To help you. To get information.”

Spock stilled, his breaths uneven.

“You should have told us,” Jim said.

“I know,” Noah looked at his feet. “But when Spock went on the telepathic dampeners last week…I don’t know, Amanda lost it. She couldn’t deal. That’s why Selik rushed back from New Vulcan earlier this week.”

“They could be dead,” Spock said coldly, glaring at Noah openly now. “And even if they live, they might be lost to us forever.”

“I know,” the younger McCoy said miserably. He took a deep breath and squared his shoulders. “But I’d do anything for her, to help her, and I couldn’t stand watching her watch you die. I know that I might lose her forever. But…she would never forgive me if I stopped her from going and then you died. So I helped them, and I’ll live with the consequences.”

Jim’s heart felt heavy in his chest. As much as he wanted to be angry with Noah, he couldn’t. Getting mad at Noah wouldn’t bring his children back.

“I don’t expect you to forgive me,” Noah said, looking from Jim and Spock to his father.

Jim took a deep breath and moved away from Spock toward Bones’ son. He reminded Jim so much of Bones in that moment: defiant, worried, and loyal to a fault. He put his hands on Noah’s shoulders.

“Thank you for taking care of my kids.” It hurt to say, but he kept speaking. “I know my kids. Telling us wouldn’t have stopped them, just slowed them down. Don’t blame yourself.”

Noah nodded. “Thank you, Admiral. I am sorry.”

Jim smiled painfully. “I know you are.”

He turned back to Spock. The Vulcan was pale, a thin sheen of sweat on his brow, his lips pressed thin. Jim winced and went to stand in front of him, face to face.

“Hey,” Jim cradled Spock’s face in his hands, not caring about the McCoys right now. “It’ll be okay. They’re okay.”

It does not feel that way.

Spock’s mind was confused almost all of the time now. He experienced too many emotions and had no control to filter them. The sorrow at a broken bond was a visceral, instinctive reaction to which Spock was completely defenseless.

This was too much for Spock right now, far too much.

“Could you guys go?” Jim asked, tilting his head to look over at Bones.

Bones frowned. “I’m guessing you won’t agree to hospitalization.”

Perhaps a year ago, the suggestion would have made Jim balk and crack a joke about Kirks not needing hospitals. But now…

“Too many minds. A hospital would only make things worse.” Jim rubbed his thumbs over Spock’s psi-points. There was still a spark, but the telepathic dampeners made everything muted, weak.

“You’re probably right,” Bones agreed, not even complaining about the PDA.

Jim looked over at his friend. “Don’t be surprised if I call you tonight. I’ll keep an eye on him.”

“Of course,” Bones nodded. He motioned to his son, who was obviously miserable. He was watching Spock’s broken figure. “Come on Noah, let’s go.”

Jim sighed and turned back to his bondmate. “Don’t be too hard on him, Bones,” he said, just loud enough for Bones to hear. “There comes a point when we cannot control the actions of our children anymore.”

“Remember the same,” his friend responded. “And those kids of yours are smart. Don’t give up hope on ‘em.”

Bones and Noah left then, and the apartment was quiet. Everything was too quiet: silence in the apartment and silence in his mind.

“Spock…”

Jim wanted to ask if he was okay, if Jim could do anything. But he knew the answer to that. Of course, nothing could be done.

“I cannot help this time,” Spock said, his voice raw.

Last time their children disappeared, Spock had worked relentlessly to get them back. He hardly ate, worked hundreds of hours in his lab, and slept in snatches of time brief enough that Jim hardly ever saw him in their quarters.

“They’re older now. They can figure it out by themselves.”

“Noah should be able to provide us with specifics. Perhaps I can—”

“No, Spock. You can’t. Not this time. I’m sorry.”

“I know.” Spock leaned his forehead forward so that his touched Jim’s.

“They’ll make it back,” Jim said, believing it in his gut, the same way he believed in the Enterprise and her crew.

Spock’s lip quirked slightly. “They are Kirks.”

Jim’s laugh was hollow. “Yeah, they are.”

Chapter Text

Amanda Grayson finished her lecture with a short bow, a Vulcan tradition signaling the end of a speech. Many of the attendees nodded, either in approval or acknowledgement. There was a largely silent shuffle as the Vulcans began to leave the lecture hall.

Amanda couldn’t help but glance surreptitiously at a Vulcan girl who had been sitting in the front row for the whole lecture. Her hair was shorter than typical, and she was younger than most in attendance. But still, there was nothing overtly abnormal about her. And yet…

“Lady Amanda Grayson?”

She blinked, looking away from the girl and towards two tall Vulcan men. They were dressed as Academy Security.

“Hello,” she said, an unnecessary Human greeting.

Of course, the Vulcans had no time for such small talk.

“A student who claims to be yours has been caught accessing the Academy Archives without appropriate permissions,” the older of the two Vulcans said.

Amanda furrowed her brow. She had two graduate students right now, both on Earth, one at Oxford and one in Starfleet.

“Did they give you a name?”

“He says his name is James Kirk. We searched that name in Federation records: a male Human from Earth, 15 Standard years of age. No records came up in regards to you or researching off-planet.” While of course the Vulcan appeared impassive, Amanda detected a bit of annoyance.

She considered. James Kirk wasn’t a name she knew immediately, and really, for an Earth name, it wasn’t particularly unique.

“May I speak to him?” She asked, curious about this child that invoked her name while hacking Vulcan databases.

“Is he your student?” The older Vulcan questioned, his eyes narrowing.

Amanda hesitated, her gaze flickering past the two guards to the now mostly empty lecture hall. The Vulcan girl was still there, trying to surreptitiously watch them but failing to be subtle. Their eyes met, and this girl that Amanda had never seen before nodded slightly.

The Vulcan girl wanted her to claim this Human child in custody? Or was her nod just a coincidence?

“He’s too young to be part of an off-planet exchange,” Amanda found herself saying, watching as the Vulcan girl’s shoulders relaxed. So she was listening, and she approved. “So he’s visiting as a friend. I apologize for the misunderstanding. May I speak with him now?”

“You understand that our archives are not open to outworlders without explicit permission, Lady Amanda?” The Vulcan man seemed more condescending than annoyed, which Amanda was far too used to handling.

“Of course,” Amanda said, using her most firm and dignified voice. “Human children often behave without restraint.” It was always best to appeal to Vulcan superiority when lying. “I apologize.”

The older Vulcan nodded severely. The younger one stepped back slightly. “If you would follow us, we can take you to Mr. Kirk.”

“Could I have one moment to speak to a student?” Amanda said, putting her bag over her shoulder to rest at her side.

As all good Vulcans, neither of the security guards expressed displeasure, although Amanda imagined she could sense it. “As you wish, Lady Amanda.”

The Vulcan girl was shifting on her feet. Vulcans did not shift. Amanda smiled at her, a soft smile that went often disused on Vulcan.

“Hello,” Amanda said, knowing that the Vulcans behind her could hear her words. “You must be a new student. How did you enjoy the lecture?”

The Vulcan girl tried so hard to straighten, to press her face into the emotionless mask, but she was honestly bad at it, at least to Amanda. Amanda had spent much of her life studying languages, including nonverbal cues, and there was not a person on this planet better at reading subtle body language than the lone permanent Human resident of Vulcan.

“Thank you,” the girl said, her lip twitching into a smile. “The lecture was…great.”

“Would you like to meet later to discuss it?” Amanda weighted the words, telling this girl that the invitation was not optional.

“Yes, Lady Amanda.”

“Give me your comm. I will give you my information.”

The girl hesitated slightly, her fingers shaking. But she eventually handed over a communicator, a model that Amanda did not recognize.

“I look forward to our discussion. What is your name?”

The Vulcan girl grinned slightly, not even hiding it. “T’Karik.”

“Alright,” Amanda nodded, utterly confused, slightly concerned about what she might be getting into. “I’ll talk to you later.”

T’Karik met her eyes one more time. Despite being Vulcan, Amanda could sense kindness from this girl in front of her. From the Vulcan species, first impressions of any kind were rare. “Thank you so much.”

Amanda furrowed her brow but nodded. “We’ll talk later.”

The Vulcan guards led her through the Academy towards the library. Most of the staff knew her on sight, so they weren’t entirely interested in her passing through. When they reached an office area, the guards told Amanda to wait in the hallway. She couldn’t even begin to guess what was going on. Why was a Human child on Vulcan to begin with? Most child visitors were temporary, and they stuck to the tourist sections of the city. This person she was about to meet obviously was not supposed to be here.

When the Vulcans returned, Amanda blinked in surprise.

The Human with them was tall, almost as tall as the Vulcans who guided him. While not large by any means, the boy had broad shoulders and a bit of blonde stubble on his chin. Amanda was hard-pressed to believe he was 15 years old.

“James Kirk, Lady,” the younger Vulcan said.

The boy, almost a man really, held himself stiffly. His hair was blonde, shaggy, and it contrasted with his otherwise sharp demeanor.

“Lady Amanda,” he greeted, a Midwestern American accent leaking through.

“James,” she played along with the charade. “Why would you run off like that? You know you aren’t supposed to be at the Academy without permission.”

The boy, who was probably not 15-year-old James Kirk of Earth, did not react to her lie at all. His icy blue eyes watched her calmly.

“I apologize,” he said softly.

“Well come on, your mother is expecting to hear from us.” Amanda smiled at the Vulcans, who looked bored now. “Thank you. I am sorry for the misunderstanding.”

“Do not let it happen again.”

Amanda didn’t speak to the boy until they got outside. He was surprisingly silent and docile, following her without any complaint. When they were finally outside, she turned to the boy.

The day was mild for Vulcan, but for Humans, it was stifling. Amanda had already had a tri-ox compound that day so she was comfortable enough. Not-James had beads of sweat on his lip already forming, but he seemed indifferent to the heat otherwise.

“So you’re not James Kirk,” Amanda said, looking away from him and to the sand of the street before her. Vulcans tended not to linger anywhere for long. So the main entrance stairwell leading to the Academy was devoid of many students, faculty, or visitors that might hear them, all going about their tasks efficiently.

The boy was silent for a while, his breaths calm. He was also watching the road before him, his expression unreadable. “Do you know James Kirk?” he asked, his accent shifting, vowels shortening, from Midwestern to a very neutral Standard.

“No.” She shook her head. “But they said James Kirk was fifteen. Vulcans might not know Human ages well, but I do. You’re, what, eighteen at least?”

“Twenty,” he corrected, still expressionless.

Amanda nodded. “Why did you use a fake name?”

“I knew they would search for me in the Federation directory.” The boy shifted slightly. “I look like James Kirk.”

“And your real name?” Amanda asked, frowning.

He stiffened, betraying his discomfort. “Perhaps you should call me James.”

Amanda sighed, and while her voice was still gentle, she made sure it was firm. “Listen, I’m trying to help you. You pulled me into this. If you expect me to keep helping you and not turn you in for information theft to the Academy, you should start talking.”

He stiffened even more, his arms going behind his back subconsciously.

“Of course, you are correct.” He took a deep breath. “I contacted you because I believed you might be sympathetic to my cause.” The boy, with obvious reluctance, glanced around them, checking for anyone paying attention.

“My name is Selik,” he continued, his voice low. He lifted the blonde locks from the side of his head slightly, revealing his ears.

Amanda’s eyes widened and her heart quickened. “You’re—”

“A hybrid,” he finished, with a sharp nod. “Much like your son.”

Suddenly the boy’s stiff posture made sense, his practiced control. But his blue eyes were too Human. She didn’t know what to say.

“I was not born on Vulcan,” he said, seemingly reading her thoughts. “You should not have heard of me.”

Amanda just kept staring. It took her years to have Spock, years of pain and doctors and being alone. Yet here was another part-Vulcan, healthy and functional. How could he not be from Vulcan? How could she not know him?

“How?”

“I need medical information from the VSA. I do not have access to it at home,” Selik said, which was not an answer to her question.

“Does Vulcan High Command know about you? Where are you from?”

“The current High Command does not know who I am. I was born…far from here.” Selik avoided her eyes, glancing instead to the building behind her.

She looked more closely at him; his blonde hair was sticking to his forehead now, wet with sweat. The skin on his cheeks was darkening with the sun.

“Will you come to my house? I have questions, and you need a tri-ox.”

“I…I am incredibly grateful that you have helped me,” he said, uncomfortable. “But I cannot give you much more information.”

“Why?”

Selik’s eyes darkened, and he met her gaze. “It is dangerous, Lady Amanda. I should not have used your name, but I could not get arrested.”

“Dangerous?”

“I came to this planet at great personal risk,” he said softly.

Amanda frowned. “Where are you staying?”

He shrugged. “I have friends in the city.”

“The Vulcan girl? T’Karik?”

Selik’s expression opened in surprise momentarily. “Yes. You met her?”

“I believe she may have been ensuring that I retrieved you.”

Selik nodded. “She has helped me remain undetected by High Command.”

“Then perhaps using the wife of Vulcan’s ambassador to Earth was not the most intelligent decision,” Amanda pointed out, raising her eyebrows.

The boy’s eye twitched almost imperceptibly, and she was reminded of Spock so strongly that she had to suppress a smile.

“My son will be home from school in a few hours. You should comm your friend T’Karik. Let’s have lunch while you both explain why I’m harboring a criminal.”

Selik watched her for a moment, not moving at all, before he slowly pulled out his communicator. “You remind me of my Dad,” he said softly.

The statement was too emotional for the boy before her, and she found herself picturing Selik’s father. Surely he was blonde, maybe he shared those striking blue eyes. His father must be the human one.

“Am—T’Karik will meet us here. She is not far,” Selik said shortly, slipping his communicator into his pocket.

“Is your father your human parent?” She asked, unable to contain her curiosity.

Selik blinked. “Yes, he is,” he answered slowly.

“So your mother is Vulcan?”

“I have two fathers,” the boy answered abruptly, his eyes shifting away in discomfort.

“Oh, I…I’m sorry that’s terribly presumptuous of me, isn’t it?” Amanda was still ridiculously curious. Now she was having a hard time imagining not only another Vulcan-Human pairing, but two males in a Vulcan-Human relationship.

“My familial situation is unconventional. No offense is taken where none was meant.”

“How could I not know about you?” Amanda wanted to explain how many doctors she had to visit, how much the odds were stacked against her, how she still got odd looks because of her Vulcan husband. But she was not sure how to broach any of that. It was too much.

“You are intelligent,” Selik said. “I do not wish to insult that intelligence by lying to you.”

“Then don’t lie.” Amanda turned the full force of her professorial gaze on the boy, but he seemed indifferent to such tactics. He only watched the street in front of him, his face oddly gentle.

They were in that silent standoff as T’Karik arrived, a leather messenger bag slung over her shoulder. Her brown eyes were keen, taking in Selik and Amanda with bright eyes.

“Hello,” the Vulcan girl said, a gentle grin on her face.

“Nice to see you again,” Amanda said wryly. “Will you be more forthcoming with information than Selik?”

“Ah,” T’Karik laughed. “I’m surprised he told you his name.”

“He believes I have a soft spot for hybrids,” Amanda said.

“They can be endearing,” T’Karik smiled fondly at Selik.

“Quite,” Amanda agreed.

As she watched the stoic, blonde hybrid boy and the obviously gregarious Vulcan girl, Amanda grew ever more curious. Nothing about these children was as it should be.

Chapter Text

T’Karik, Amanda repeated the name in her mind, forcing herself to think in terms of her Vulcan name. She could not be Amanda here, not with her namesake walking next to her, very much alive and very much suspicious of she and Selik.

The human woman was beautiful, as Amanda knew she would be. She had seen holos and photographs of the Lady Amanda, but none of them really did her justice. A picture did not show the gentling in her smile when she was being kind. The holos somehow blurred the lines that were beginning to form in her eyes, lines that echoed the laughter that had created them.

Amanda T’Karik knew that she and her brother were in quite a predicament, but she could not bring herself to care in this moment. Here was her grandmother, the strong woman who had braved the spite of two cultures to create something new. Amanda was in awe. Hearing her long lost grandmother give a lecture was a pleasure that she had never thought to experience. When she saw the announcement for the talk from Lady Amanda Grayson, she could not resist the temptation. Selik said it was risky, and she got a twisted amount of pleasure from the fact that Selik was the one who had gotten caught while Amanda was being ‘risky.’

The Lady Amanda led them onto a mass-transit train, one of the ultra-fast types that were popular in the Federation before transporter tech became cheap enough for mass use. Their grandmother said little to them while they traveled, seemingly lost in thought. Selik was similarly silent, looking down at his shoes as the train barreled out of central Shi’Kahr and into the more sparse red desert around it.

On one hand, Amanda felt a thrill of nerves at leaving the city. She had grown comfortable there, familiar with its spires and logical street arrangements. But the sense of danger was dulled by the simple fact that Amanda Grayson was trusted. Amanda Kirk’s greatest fear was of changing the future, a future of which she did not feel particularly defensive. Would it be so bad if Amanda Grayson were somehow spared?

“Have you ever been to the Forge?” Lady Amanda broke the silence abruptly, drawing the siblings from their thoughts.

Her question was asked neutrally, at neither of the twins specifically, although her gaze fell longer on Selik.

“No,” he answered first. “I have only ever been to Shi’Kahr.”

“Did you have a kahs-wan?”

“My fathers did not deem it safe enough for me,” Selik answered, stiffening slightly. “Although I wished to.”

Amanda was surprised that her brother even revealed that much about their parents. He was usually so reticent, although it seemed Amanda Grayson had a skill for persuasion.

Their grandmother’s gaze lingered on Selik a bit longer before turning to Amanda. Obviously the older woman would find Selik more interesting—as far as she knew he was the only hybrid aside from her own son.

Amanda answered her question anyway, if only to take the attention away from her brother, who was obviously uncomfortable.

“I’ve never been this far west either,” she said. “I also never went through the kahs-wan, although I suppose girls have never really been expected to do so.”

Lady Amanda’s gaze grew more curious. “Tell me, T’Karik, were you raised in accordance with Surak’s teachings?”

Selik’s eyes widened. Amanda chuckled, giving the older woman a rueful grin, despite having promised herself she would act more Vulcan. “One of my parents was quite adherent. The other allowed me more freedoms. I am sorry to say that I was never very good at meditating.”

The older woman appeared somewhat confused at the explanation. “And how do you know Selik’s family?”

“We grew up together, Selik and I. Our parents were quite close,” Amanda smiled innocently. She was telling the truth, after all.

“Off planet, then?” their grandmother asked. “Although I admit my social circles are somewhat limited, I do feel I would know of a hybrid if there were official documentation.”

“Yes,” Selik answered. “I was not raised on Vulcan.”

“We moved a lot, but we probably spent most of our time planet-side on Terra,” Amanda continued.

“So your travel here is not documented,” their grandmother concluded.

“No,” Selik spoke again. “Which is why I lied about my name.”

“So why are you here? What were you doing in the academy?”

“My father is ill,” Selik said softly, his gaze as gentle as it ever got as he met his grandmother’s eyes. “We do not have access to the archives from our home. I need the medical information contained at the Vulcan Science Academy. I know what I am doing is not legal, but my father’s life is of more importance to me than laws.”

“Life is to be valued above all else,” their grandmother agreed. “But I do not understand why you cannot go through legal channels. Indeed, I do not understand your existence at all.”

Selik looked to his sister, obviously uncomfortable. She sighed and bit her lip.

“You understand that interspecies couples are still a source of controversy, my Lady,” Amanda gave her grandmother a stiff smile. She hated lying to this woman, but Selik could not do it. Amanda would have to, for his safety, for the safety of their future. “Not all hybrids can afford to be visible.”

“How could you keep it a secret?” Lady Amanda’s eyes narrowed on Selik. “You had to have been created in a lab, if you have two fathers.”

Selik winced, knowing he needed to speak. Amanda could hardly explain his whole fake life story without it being suspicious. “My father is a scientist.” Selik’s voice was stiff and clipped, obviously forced into calmness. “There are planets with low security research facilities.” All truths, albeit misleading ones.

“Must be quite a scientist,” their grandmother said, doubtfully.

“He is,” Selik agreed. “And he is very ill.”

Lady Amanda watched him for a moment, digesting his words, reading the body language. Both of the siblings held their breaths, waiting to see what this brilliant woman made of their tale.

“Your parents did not know you came, did they?” she said finally. That was not what either of them expected her to say. But of course, she would consider the whole story from the viewpoint of the parents.

“No,” Selik admitted. “Although I expect they realize it now. But coming here would be impossibly risky for them, especially with my father’s poor health.”

“Can your clan not help? Are you that separated from Vulcan?”

Selik looked down. “This is my first trip to the planet.”

Amanda was honestly impressed with her brother’s ability to tell such misleading truths. The Lady Amanda appeared placated enough, anyway. Her gaze was calculating now, no longer appearing suspicious.

“You’ll stay with me,” she said suddenly, nodding to herself, as if affirming the decision. “I have researchers visit me quite often.”

“What?” Selik’s head jerked up, his eyes widening.

“You may not have access to your clan, but I can take you in as…James Kirk, you said?”

“Stay with you?” Selik repeated, disbelieving.

“Yes,” Lady Amanda smiled. “I can even get you access to the Academy. Although, I do admit we may have to figure out a way to make medical research look related to linguistics. My husband tends to be very thorough in his questions.”

“Your husband,” Selik repeated again.

“Yes, Ambassador Sarek,” their grandmother confirmed.

Selik was quite close to Sarek in the future. They both resided primarily on New Vulcan, and Selik was following a path that Sarek had always envisioned for Spock. They had similar interests, and similar countenances as well. However, neither of the siblings was ignorant of their grandfather’s past: that he and Spock had been estranged for years because of Spock’s humanity. And Selik…

“You have had Human researchers here?” Selik asked, frowning.

“For short periods of time, yes,” Lady Amanda answered. “How long do you need?”

“Would a month be an imposition?” Selik said slowly, glancing at the younger Amanda briefly.

“Perfectly reasonable.” Lady Amanda nodded. “My husband and son will not find that odd at all. You’ll have to hide your ears of course, if you are to be James Kirk.”

“Your family doesn’t want another hybrid?” Amanda asked with a smile.

Lady Amanda returned the smile ruefully. “I’m not sure Sarek is ready for that.” She watched the younger woman for a moment. “You can both stay. Do you have family on planet?”

“Distant family,” Amanda agreed. “And I would not impose our schemes on you any further.”

“Your presence would be slightly harder, but not impossible, to explain. You’re only a few years older than my son, I’m guessing, so he would probably have seen you if you went to school near here.” Their grandmother’s face was kind as she spoke. “But if you need a place to stay, we can figure it out. Where have you been staying?”

They had been sleeping in shifts at libraries, keeping guard for one another. When they could hack their way into Federation databases, they stole a bit of money to sleep in cheap lodgings about the city. But neither Selik nor Amanda desired to perform such illegal acts; they were too much like Spock to ever exploit the system beyond necessity.

“We’ve stayed where we can,” Amanda T’Karik said ungracefully, immediately wishing she had thought of a lie.

Lady Amanda read the truth in the hasty response. “Then you’ll stay, of course.”

“I don’t…”

“You are a friend to Vulcans and Humans, and so you are a friend to me,” Lady Amanda insisted.

“I do not want to cause you trouble, when you are already doing so much for Selik.”

Their grandmother smiled. “I admit am not entirely selfless. I am curious about his experiences. My son has ever been the only one.”

Selik’s gaze fell to the ground at that admission, guilty.

“And Selik is obviously more comfortable when you are with him,” their grandmother continued, smirking almost imperceptibly.

Selik flushed lightly; he always hated when people could read his expressions.

“Selik is my dearest friend,” Amanda said honestly. “He is like a brother to me.”

“I admit you are also a curiosity. Even my son avoids the word ‘friend.’ I have met few Vulcans like you,” Lady Amanda admitted, her eyebrow raised.

“Being raised off-planet has made us quite…unique.”

Their grandmother seemed to accept their story, at least enough to stand by her offer of hospitality. Perhaps staying with their family was a risky option: if any of Sarek’s family decided to probe more fully into their story, its falsehood would be only too obvious. Luckily, she and Selik had been here for two weeks by now, and already had a decent amount of leads. She had uploaded hundreds of papers to a secure off-world server and timed them to deliver to Doctor Leonard McCoy some thirty years from now. That way, even if she and Selik never made it home, the information would.

In fact, she and Selik had already discussed some of their problems with getting home. They had found that the most restrictive part of their algorithm was that they could only travel in time if using a transporter that existed both in the past and future. The only reason they’d even been able to travel back to Vulcan was because they found an old Vulcan transporter that had been reallocated to Starfleet before the destruction of the planet.

There was a very real possibility that she and Selik would have to travel back to Terra before going home. Otherwise, they would risk transporting to the black hole that now resided where Vulcan once was. Most of the transporters on Vulcan were destroyed with the planet. The one they had used to arrive to Vulcan was under tight security; they had barely convinced the transporter operators that they weren’t criminals when they arrived without appropriate authorizations. The likelihood of being able to get to that same transporter and rig up a time-travel algorithm without getting caught was laughably low. Secrecy was too important here.

As their train slowed to a halt, Amanda Kirk peered out of the window onto blood-orange dunes that rose into craggy mountains in the distance. The sky was pale, pale blue over the land, tinged with red at the horizon. Perhaps it was for the best that Vulcan was beautiful. There were certainly worse fates than being stuck on a lost home world.

Chapter Text

The online Starfleet application was a jumble of bright blues and reds and yellows, colors that reminded Spock of the children’s toys from Terra his mother had insisted he own. Stars periodically shot across the banner, an addition that needlessly filled an already abrasively colorful page.

As if he needed a reminder that he was applying to a patently Human organization, despite their supposed dedication to diversity.

The yellow blocked lettering of “Pending Application” was bright on the navy background. His name was featured slightly smaller just below it. ‘S’chn T’gai Spock’ it read, lettered with a Terran alphabet, the name looking odd and jumbled when not in Vulcan.

The next question on the screen was written in a dull white print, simple letters with a simple box to click as the answer, and yet to Spock it seemed more glaring than even the shooting stars in the banner.

Please indicate your Federation species (according to the United Federation of Planets bylaw 159.32.21.2, species may not be used as a basis for admission to any Federation-sanctioned institution of learning). If you are not a member of the Federation, please see the section for ‘Out-of-Federation Applicants.’

The top two options were Human and Vulcan. Currently Spock had Vulcan selected, but his eyes strayed to Human as he thought of his mother.

A message from her appeared in the corner of his screen just as he clicked to the next portion of the application. He quickly closed out of his Starfleet application, an uncomfortable flush of emotions warming his limbs as he opened his messaging program. Illogical. Mother could not tell what he had been doing.

Spock, New researchers will be staying with us for a month. They will both be present at dinner. See you after school. Love, Mother

Spock sighed. His mother had throttled the emotions in her messages since he had become a teenager, but some of the Human emotionalism and redundancy still managed to bleed through. He did appreciate her attempts, however.

Acknowledged. Spock. He sent his simple reply.

He had nine minutes and thirty seconds until he absolutely needed to leave in order to arrive home within the time frame that his mother expected him. Now that there would be guests for dinner, he found himself considering arriving late. But the impulse was illogical.

He calculated the odds that his mother’s visiting researchers were Human at around sixty-eight point three percent, factoring in her previous research assistants, current planetary location, and most recent research topic. Spock had a limited amount of experience interacting with Humans. Most were foreign dignitaries, scientists, or linguists, and therefore were not a broad sampling of Humanity by any means, but he found interactions with them tolerable, although not particularly enjoyable. His classmates would understand; most of them had an unfavorable view of Humans, according to his mother.

Spock put his mother’s visitors out of his mind as he made his way home. He considered the research plan he was currently writing for his potential tenure at the Vulcan Science Academy. His professor advised that he rework one of his main research aims.

The ride on public transportation to his home was calming. The silence of Vulcan railcars was peaceful despite the number of people, and he was able to pull out his PADD to continue writing his VSA application.

By the time he reached home, his mind was whirling with the physics of binary stars, and he had nearly forgotten about his mother’s visitors. His fingers pressed into the cold of the translucent screen next to the front door, reading his identity and confirming his biosigns before the door slid open for him.

As soon as he entered, the sound of laughter reached him, and he froze. The laughter was female, not his mother, and after a day of Vulcan silence, a shock.

One of the visitors was a female Human, then.

He rounded the corner into the main room of his family’s home, where there were two couches and multiple chairs, and expected to see his mother laughing with a woman her own age.

Instead, he found his mother talking to a young Vulcan girl—probably a few years older than he—who was smiling brightly, her cheeks dimpling at the effort. Spock blinked.

“Mother,” he said solemnly, trying to impose some normality on this situation.

“Oh!” she exclaimed, turning her smile to him. “Dear, I didn’t hear you come in.”

“Perhaps you could not hear over the volume of the present conversation,” he suggested, his gaze falling to the Vulcan girl.

Her smile was gone now, but her face was not without expression. Her eyes were slightly narrowed and her lips pressed tight, features Spock had perhaps seen on his mother but never on another Vulcan.

“Probably so,” his mother agreed. “Spock, these are my new students. This is T’Karik, travelling from a small university south of here. And this,” his mother motioned to a male that Spock had not even noticed, who was sitting in a chair apart from where the women had been sitting, “is James Kirk.”

The male Human stood immediately, a courtesy that the Vulcan girl hastened to copy. His fingers spread in a perfect ta’al, and in careful Vulcan he said, “Live long and prosper.”

Spock returned the gesture. “I am Spock.”

The male was not anything particularly unique for a Human. His hair was a sandy yellow that rarely occurred in the Vulcan genome. Striking, even from this distance, were the icy blue eyes, utterly unseen on Vulcans—whose eyes ranged from reddish ambers to dark browns. However Spock was mostly dismissive of the odd coloring, as he was more distracted by how still the Human was, so unlike any of the other Humans that he had met.

“It’s nice to meet you,” T’Karik said.

A Human greeting. Spock was uncertain how to respond.

“She was not raised to Surak’s precepts,” his mother explained.

“I see.”

Such Vulcans were not unheard of—indeed, Spock’s own brother had rejected the teachings and disappeared many years ago. But they were hardly ever voluntarily found in Shi-Kahr, a city whose people were ninety-nine point eight seven percent adherent.

“What university do you attend?”

“A’kash,” she said simply.

A smaller institution of learning that specialized in linguistics, which was perhaps a six-hour journey south of Shi-Kahr using public transport. His mother travelled there occasionally. Logical.

“And James?” Spock turned his gaze back to the silent Human.

The strands of blonde fell over blue eyes as his gaze shifted to the floor, his hands tight behind his back.

“He’s a student at Starfleet Medical. We have been collaborating remotely,” T’Karik answered, her gaze flickering from James and then back to Spock quickly.

Spock tilted his head. “What project has a medical student collaborating with linguists?”

“Let’s finish this discussion at dinner, Spock,” his mother interrupted.

As they walked into the dining room, T’Karik walked up next to him. She seemed somehow less perturbed than previously.

“We’re studying certain linguistic flags from pre-Reformation medical files to present day. How societies view illnesses can be extremely enlightening about the cultural psyche,” T’Karik explained. Her eyes seemed somehow brighter as she spoke, and she used her hands while she talked, making small nonsensical motions with her fingers. “For example, telepathic injury is much more…reverently and carefully treated now than in the pre-Reformation era. Oddly they viewed telepathic problems as a weakness in the individual rather than an actual physical problem. Much like Humans used to view mental illness on Terra.”

Spock heard all that she said, of course, but he found that his focus was on the pure…animation in her whole body. She was loud and outright with her emotions, so unlike his mother.

But her ears curved to a perfect Vulcan point, and her hair was even cut short like his. However, Spock, for the first time, considered himself the more ideal Vulcan of a situation. He wished his father were not away on business so he could witness this.

“Is Sa’mekh still returning tomorrow?” Spock directed the question to his mother.

James’ eyes snapped to Spock, the odd blue somehow appearing sharper.

“Mmm, yes. Late in the evening,” his mother responded. She glanced to their visitors: James seemed incredibly interested while T’Karik was staring pointedly at the ground. “He has already told me he is perfectly okay with researchers staying with us.”

Perhaps James was nervous, being on a foreign planet, meeting a Vulcan ambassador. He certainly appeared uncomfortable, although Spock could not be certain.

“Father,” Spock used the Human translation in an attempt to be helpful, “is quite receptive to Mother’s researchers.”

He supposed he should practice his interpersonal relations with Humans if he were seriously considering attending Starfleet. Even better, this particular Human was attending Starfleet. Perhaps his mother’s researchers would not be a complete burden on his time.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Ambassador Sarek required rest. His return trip to Vulcan had been prolonged; the Federation waylaid his transport to make room for yet more Terran scientists coming to this sector. Terra was entering what many historians were claiming to be a whole new era of colonization, expanding into the galaxy at a frankly alarming rate. For Sarek, that meant more planets that he would probably eventually have to mark in his galactic database and even possibly make a personal visit, especially for those planets particularly close to Vulcan.

His wife had sent him a missive the day previous, telling him of the researchers she had visiting. Young students, she said, who were performing some sort of cross-cultural medical research. Her details had been more sparse than usual, but Sarek was not overly concerned. He trusted her.

When he entered their home, he was met with the usual silence. He presumed their guests would be in the visitor’s wing, and aside from possibly dinner (Amanda had a propensity to go beyond the hospitality required of nearly any species with regards to dinner) he would rarely see the researchers. So he found it interesting when he saw a figure standing on the balcony off of the main sitting area.

Whoever they were, they were very tall, close to his own height, with short black hair. Sarek strode forward calmly, and pressed the glass door open. The hiss of the balcony door caused the visitor—a young Vulcan girl—to jump and spin. Her eyes widened and her jaw dropped slightly before she came back to herself.

“Um,” she said.

Sarek frowned.

My name is T’Karik,” she tried again, appearing flustered. The Vulcan words poured out in a rush. “You must be Ambassador Sarek.

T’Karik was an old name, often used in the high Vulcan houses. However, given this female’s obviously poor grasp of Surak’s precepts, she was unlikely to be from any important family. In fact, such blatant emotionalism probably meant she was from outside of Shi-Kahr. But her Vulcan was neutral, showing no obvious regional variation in pronunciation.

Yes,” he confirmed. “I have been informed that you are staying with us for a month.

I am,” she nodded. Her arms folded behind her back as she straightened her shoulders in an attempt to appear collected. “My colleague as well. James Kirk. He is from Terra.

I presume that I will meet him at some point in the duration of your stay.

T’Karik nodded again. “He is working currently.

And you are on the balcony?

“Um,” she said, using yet another speech disfluency. Perhaps such patterns were acceptable in well-educated Humans, but Sarek already found himself doubting her intelligence as a Vulcan. Any educated Vulcan would never say any such thing as ‘um.’

I wanted fresh air. We have been working all day,” she said. “The sunset is my favorite time of day.

Such a statement sounded like something Amanda would say. Sarek quirked an eyebrow. “Why should any time of day be preferable over another?

T’Karik flushed, green blood warming high on her cheekbones, but her voice held the edge of a challenge. “Is it not the prerogative for living beings to find beauty in their lives? The sunset is beautiful.

Sarek spared a glance for the horizon, colors of red and blue mixing as varying wavelengths were scattered over the visible edge of the planet. “Beauty is subjective,” he said.

Subjectivity is beautiful,” she countered, dark eyes glinting.

For the first time in many years, Sarek was reminded of his eldest son. He recalled the defiant glares, the subtle jibes against Sarek’s ‘sensitivity.’ Of course, such things were in the past, and T’Karik was not his son. All the same, Sarek could not help but desire to keep this girl away from Spock.

Spock’s Human blood put him at a disadvantage in the processing of emotion, and he did not need the poor influence of a peer, if in fact this girl could even be considered Spock’s peer in intelligence.

I suppose,” he said tersely, placating. “Will you and James be joining us for dinner this evening?

T’Karik’s posture stiffened, and Sarek had the impression she could sense his displeasure, although he doubted she could read any nonverbal communication—he was very well-trained in controlling such things as an ambassador

The Lady Amanda invited us to dinner, yes,” T’Karik said softly.

Well then--

His response was cut off by the hiss of the door opening. He turned to see his wife, her hair covered in a loose maroon wrap and her fingers grasping the edge of her navy dress as she stepped onto the balcony.

“Hello Sarek,” she said, a gentle smile gracing her features. She lifted her fingers for the traditional greeting, and Sarek brushed his against hers in return. He got the brief impression of joy and an edge of nervousness from the contact, but then their fingers had parted and her expression revealed none of the anxiety he had felt. She chose to speak in Standard, which was a curious choice as her audience was two Vulcans.

“I see you’ve met T’Karik,” Amanda motioned to the girl who smiled genuinely at his wife. “She’s quite gifted with programming, Sarek, for a linguist. She’s already helped me with the Universal Translator.”

“Has she?” Sarek raised an eyebrow, glancing back at the girl.

“Yes,” Amanda said, smiling. “James is in our library presently. He seems to have gotten distracted with one of your old books on clan history.”

Sarek was not certain he wanted a Human reading such an important tome, although there were no clan or cultural secrets easily found in his library. “Humans are often distracted from their goals, yes?”

“Some,” his wife agreed. “Although James is quite a singular student. I believe he genuinely finds history interesting.”

“I see,” Sarek responded. “Then he is finding his stay on Vulcan educational?”

“Quite. He had never seen the planet before.” Amanda nodded to the girl. “T’Karik has helped James adapt wonderfully, although she had not visited Shi-Kahr before.”

“That is unsurprising,” Sarek commented. “From what clan are you?”

T’Karik winced. “I don’t have a clan,” she murmured.

Sarek nodded. True, most Vulcans could trace their lineage to one clan or another and usually took pride in that, but they were hardly a truly hierarchal society anymore, valuing intelligence and skill over blood. Some Vulcans had more dubious parentage, the result of an unbonded Pon Farr or a taboo dalliance outside of a mated pair. Such bloodlines either did not claim their clans or did not know them.

While being born into a wealthy or influential clan was most certainly a privilege, being clan-less was not the anathema it once was. Many clan-less were in positions of power these days, although there were definitely still issues with political representation among the population without a clan. Representation on the Vulcan High Council was still hereditary, and positions in politics were wrought with nepotism. Such things were illogical to an unbiased party, but Sarek was not so blind as to see that even followers of Surak were susceptible to lapses in judgment when it came to family.

“Well, such things are not so important these days,” Amanda said, smiling at the young Vulcan girl, who seemed troubled by her admission. “Right Sarek?”

“While of course there is still some stigma,” he began honestly. There was no logic in denying a truth. “If one is intelligent and works hard, there is no reason for them not to achieve a fruitful place in society.”

“Right,” T’Karik looked up at his statement, her expression flat. “And what of admission to the Vulcan Science Academy?

Amanda frowned at the girl, who was now watching Sarek raptly.

“The Vulcan Science Academy reviews all applications for their merit regardless of clan name,” he said.

“Is that the experience your son has had, then?”

The girl’s question was confrontational, a challenge. Sarek wondered why she should care at all.

“My son is not clan-less,” Sarek responded. He had dealt with enough emotional species to understand that she was not talking about clans when she referred to his son, but perhaps she could infer that they should drop the subject.

“No, but he is half-Human,” she said.

Truth.

“He is physiologically Vulcan,” Sarek said.

Also truth.

“Of course,” T’Karik said, nodding her head. “I only mean that prejudice does not much care for logic.”

“Then it is beneficial that our society functions on logic,” Sarek agreed.

“Mmm yes,” T’Karik said softly. “That’s what they say, isn’t it?”

Her vernacular was Standard, but informal Standard, which Sarek rarely heard on Vulcan. Sarek was reminded again of his elder son, the fully Vulcan one, whose eyes flashed much like T’Karik’s as he argued.

Amanda appeared perturbed by what they were saying, her expression concerned. She had always worried too much about Spock, about how he was handling his peers. She wanted him to have whatever he wanted, and she always saw more of the so-called ‘prejudice’ that no one would show Sarek.

Sarek supposed that perhaps this clan-less Vulcan empathized with Spock, although such a connection was tenuous at best. The struggles of two minorities hardly needed to be linked.

“Well, I suppose when I married a Vulcan ambassador that I should not have expected dinner guests to be treated with light topics,” Amanda forced a laugh. “There is a saying on Terra to avoid discussing money, religion, and politics.”

T’Karik smiled at Amanda, and Sarek averted his gaze from the odd girl. “But those are the only fun topics, Lady Amanda.”

His wife’s subsequent laughter was meant to diffuse the situation, he was sure, but he found his patience running short. His trip had been long, and he was tired. Amanda seemed to sense his displeasure, even if her mental sense of him was relatively weak, and she grew silent, letting her laugh fade to a soft smile.

Come in for dinner.,” his wife said, switching to Vulcan, which—he was loathe to admit—calmed him.

The girl followed behind he and his wife silently, and Sarek could not help but feel that her gaze was a physical weight on him. He was not so emotional to say that he disliked anyone he knew so little, but he found that he did not wish to spend more time than necessary around the girl with the dark, rebellious eyes.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/

“You and Sa’mekh had a strained relationship for years,” Selik said. He was sitting on the edge of the bed Amanda was sleeping in for their stay in the past. “And Sa’mekh was trying to be nice to you. You surely did not expect our Grandfather to take kindly to you in this era.”

The rooms that the Lady Amanda had given each of them were grand but austere. Selik could see how architecture on New Vulcan was trying to capture the bold and ancient beauty of concrete built from Vulcan clay.

“No,” she said softly. “But it doesn’t really make it feel any better. You should have seen the disapproval, the condescension. It’s like the last time we time-travelled all over again, but this time with Grandfather.” Amanda frowned. “Actually, it’s worse because at least that Spock was trying, in his own Vulcan way. Grandfather is just…scary.”

“Perhaps a bit,” Selik admitted. “At least he seems keen to leave us to ourselves. His discomfort with our presence may actual serve us. If he merely dislikes us, he will be less likely to probe our backgrounds. If that dislike moves into mistrust, we should begin worrying.”

“Let’s stop going to dinner,” Amanda said. “That was fucking awful. I don’t think I’ve ever been that uncomfortable.”

“It was…silent,” Selik said, a sort of agreement.

“I think Sarek was actually trying to keep me from sitting next to Spock.”

“I believe he may be concerned about Spock’s adherence to Surak’s precepts. He and Spock have their fallout this year,” Selik reminded, his throat going slightly hoarse. “They will not speak again until Ko’mekh’il dies.”

Amanda’s gaze dropped. “I know.” Her fingers passed softly over the PADD in her lap. “I wish we hadn’t landed here, in this time. Maybe when Father was younger it would have been easier.”

“Perhaps,” Selik said. “But we had little control over when we would come.”

“Yeah.”

“We should sleep,” Selik said. He did not wish to ponder what could be or what could have been. They could not afford to put that weight on themselves. Their current purpose must simply be enough.

“You’re right,” Amanda agreed, a forced smile on her face.

When Selik collected his things and turned to leave, Amanda stepped closer to him, her gaze serious.

“Thank you, Selik, for coming with me,” she said softly.

“I want to save him too,” Selik said, and he had to look down. The emotions inside of him were too much.

“But you didn’t want to come,” she insisted. “I just want you to know that I appreciate it was hard for you. And I like you how you are. Never, ever think that I wish you were more like me, okay?”

“Amanda, you and I are not our father or our grandfather,” Selik said, forcing himself to meet her gaze, even though it was uncomfortable for him. “I think, in this case, we are something better. I have not wished for either of us to be something that we are not in a very long time. You say I wish that I were Vulcan, but that is not true. I am a hybrid of Human and Vulcan, and I am at peace with my nature. You should be, too.” Selik smiled at her, a rare occurrence for him, but he knew Amanda would appreciate it. “Do not let Grandfather make you feel any less about yourself, ko’kai. He does not understand yet.”

Amanda had tears in her eyes, which made Selik even more uncomfortable, so he stepped back from her.

“Goodnight, Amanda,” he said moving toward the door.

“Selik, you’re a sweetheart, you know that, right?” Amanda said, a grin on her face even though her eyes were still shiny.

Selik kept his expression neutral as he met her eyes again. “I trust that you will keep my secret.”

Amanda’s laughter followed him as he left her and moved to his neighboring room.

Although he had put forward a confident front for his sister, he found himself troubled by their evening. He had not said much to his grandfather. In fact, he had purposefully avoided speaking to him.

He was not troubled in the way Amanda was. Her fears were seated in her own insecurities, and he lived on New Vulcan among Vulcans and had learned long ago to rise above the presumptions of others. Not to mention, he knew Sarek in a way that Amanda did not. They were quite close in the future, and he understood the viewpoint of his Sa’mekh’al, even as misguided as it was in this time period. He could not feel animosity or anger. Only perhaps a bit of sadness.

The sadness brought him to thoughts of their grandmother, their Ko’mekh’il that would die in the coming years. He had left the future with the firm belief that they would not change anything in the past, and if at all possible, not even interact with anyone who may know them in the future. He also knew that his sister would have an incredibly difficult time adhering to this, despite her assurances to the contrary.

He could already see the sadness growing in her eyes. Calling Amanda Grayson for help had been a mistake. He knew it was only a matter of time before his sister suggested they try to change her fate, to tell Amanda Grayson to keep her hand in Spock’s when the planet crumbled beneath her feet or even to tell her when to make a trip to Terra and avoid the whole catastrophe.

Selik had to be the strong one, had to say no, and his resolve was already growing strained. Were they not changing the destiny of time by even being here? Should they not just let Spock die? Did this qualify as interference already? Why not save two people instead of one?

As Selik crawled into his bed, feeling utterly exhausted, his chest was heavy with responsibility. He had been so sure that a trip for research purposes would even fulfill the Prime Directive of which Starfleet was so keen (when it suited their purposes).

In some ways, the destruction of Vulcan was part of Selik’s own narrative. The narrative of Captain Kirk and First Officer Spock was forever altered by the arrival of Nero and the Destruction of the Vulcan. In fact, according to Spock Prime, Selik and his sister did not exist in his timeline. The loss of Spock’s planet had changed their father so much that the trajectory of his life and his family had been forever altered.

As Selik let sleep take him, his final thoughts were about timelines and justification of altering them. A vision of Amanda Grayson falling into crumbling rock filled his dreams, and he could not help but wonder if his grandmother had never died, would Spock’s life still have twisted toward James Kirk? Would Amanda and Selik Kirk exist in a future where Amanda Grayson lived?

Chapter Text

Amanda managed to compress the data and she and Selik had gathered into an impressively small file, considering how much information they had gathered. She wanted the files as small and inconspicuous as possible so that they wouldn’t attract any attention when she stored it on an off planet site, timed to be delivered to Noah and Leonard McCoy over 30 years from now.

She and Selik had fought over sending more than strictly necessary information—data and experiments that had been lost with the planet—but Selik was firm on minimizing their interference with the future.

Her compression algorithm was taking a couple of hours, so Amanda was reading around on the web. She was in the Academy Library, so there were plenty of Vulcans mulling around, but everyone thankfully kept to themselves.

She was presently reading some daily news articles. There was a subtle tonal difference in the Vulcan reporters from this era, a sense of arrogant detachment that was lacking in her time. While it was true that traditionalism was running rampant on New Vulcan, Amanda found the new leadership unnecessarily dramatic, hiding their sense of loss behind a veneer of solemnity.

She even managed to find something of a Vulcan underground in this era. There were young Vulcan adults who, while they still adhered to Surak, allowed a dose of liberalism in their lives. They had gatherings and even their own online magazine circulation. The current issue had poetry and song lyrics featured, which to a Human would be painfully Vulcan, but compared to the total dearth of new art on New Vulcan was refreshing.

She was reading an article about Starfleet’s leadership written in the Chronicle of Shi-Kahr when she noticed a shadow hovering over her shoulder. She pulled out her headphones (which she had found at the Terran Embassy) and turned her head.

Spock was there, his eyebrows raised and hands tucked tightly behind his back.

“Hey Spock,” she said. “How are you?”

The crease between his eyes tightened. “I am functional.” He blinked a few times and shifted slightly. “You were attracting attention and seemed to be unaware.”

“I was?” Amanda glanced around and not a single Vulcan was looking her way.

“You were…humming.” His dark eyes fell to her headphone buds.

“Oh,” she flushed lightly. “I didn’t realize. I hope I wasn’t bothering anyone.”

“You were listening to music?” Spock questioned, seeming honestly curious.

Of course, on Vulcan, most audio recordings were educational, used as a secondary means of information intake.

“Yeah,” she nodded. “I need something in the background of my mind when I’m researching for so many hours without a break.”

“I see.” Spock took the seat next to hers, setting his bag on the ground near hers. “And this is not a source of distraction?”

Amanda smiled slightly. “I’m Vulcan, Spock. Think of it as practice in multi-tasking.”

Spock nodded, seeming placated by her explanation. He logged onto the console next to her and began working on something of his own. Amanda watched his still posture for a moment before turning back to her reading and tucking her headphones back into her ears.

“May I ask a personal query?”

Amanda tugged the headphones back out of her ears, raising an eyebrow at him. “Sure.”

“Have you ever visited Starfleet?” he asked. “You mentioned having visited Earth and have also expressed…passionate opinions about Starfleet as an organization.”

Amanda licked her lips and turned away from Spock’s gaze. She quickly recalled all she had told him, trying to get her story straight. “Yes, I have. I thought of applying once. I visited with my family.”

“I had inferred as much,” he nodded. “Did you find the learning environment insufficient?”

Amanda loved Starfleet. She loved being a student, the academic atmosphere, the exploration, and the diversity. But the Starfleet that Amanda attended was not the same Starfleet that Spock would attend. The Starfleet of her parents was more xenophobic, not by opinion necessarily, but in accessibility. Her father had told her of his troubles with roommates as a telepath, of the Human style of teaching, of the misconceptions of Vulcans.

“The learning environment is more than sufficient,” she answered carefully. “Starfleet has some of the most brilliant minds of Terra, but Starfleet is an innately Human organization and a Vulcan attending must be prepared for an administration that, while generally well-intended, does not understand the specific needs of Vulcans.”

Spock nodded once, sharply, and did not look her way as she continued.

“But the cultural experience is enriching. I think Starfleet could use more Vulcans.” She watched Spock’s profile, sharp and unyielding. “I believe both Vulcans and Humans alike would benefit from the exchange.”

Spock did not respond, his gaze heavy on his own screen.

“Are you applying, then?” she asked.

Spock did not answer for a moment. When his answer came, it was emotionless. “Yes.”

“Good,” she agreed. “Starfleet needs you.”

“I…have not told my mother and father.” His voice was strangled.

Amanda resisted the urge to laugh, to point out that in a way he was lying by omission. But her father’s ability to tell half-truths successfully is a key part of his successful Starfleet career, and she didn’t want to discourage it.

Her mirth disappeared when she remembered that Spock’s decision to attend Starfleet began a period in which Sarek and Spock did not speak for many, many years. The relationship that Spock would break in the coming weeks would not begin to heal until his homeworld and mother were lost.

“Will you tell them when you are accepted?”

“I do not know if I will attend.” Spock met her gaze for a moment before looking back to the screen before him. “I am also applying to the Vulcan Science Academy.”

“Have you talked to James about Starfleet?” She asked, wondering how her brother might deal with the necessity of lying.

“He is reticent on the topic,” Spock said. Selik was reticent about everything in this time period.

“That’s James,” Amanda agreed.

Spock raised his eyebrow at her. “Is there a reason that you seem to prefer speaking informal Standard to Vulcan?”

Amanda blinked, not even realizing that her preference for the language of Humanity would be suspect when conversing between two Vulcans.

Sorry,” she said, hurriedly. “I have been working with James so much on this trip that I have become accustomed.

Spock frowned slightly but nodded. “I have no issue speaking Standard,” he said. “I believe the practice could be beneficial. Especially as I have little experience with informal Standard. Where did you learn it?”

“I’ve watched and read a lot of Terran media,” she lied easily. “My family has Human friends as well.”

“I see,” he said, nodding. “While difficult to obtain, such informal instruction may be beneficial in fully considering my options.”

Amanda tried not to laugh at the idea of Spock sorting through the vast amounts of frankly idiotic Terran media for learning material.

“Just remember you’ll be among intellectuals at Starfleet, which isn’t necessarily what you’ll find in media,” Amanda said. She paused a moment trying to think of a way to explain further. “The Vulcan race has gone through many violent eras, and that’s caused the population to become more homogenous than Terra. Humans have larger diversity of intellect and memory. Evolution wasn’t as violent for them.”

Spock nodded. “I have read some on the topic of evolutionary xenobiology. In addition,” His expression tightened ever so slightly, “I do have humanity in my genome, even if it is largely recessive.”

“It is nothing to be ashamed of,” Amanda could not help but say.

Spock winced imperceptibly. Only years of watching the older version allowed Amanda to see the twitch in his right eye.

It is illogical to be ashamed of that which you cannot change,” Spock said, switching to Vulcan. His gaze was steadfast on the screen in front of him.

Amanda wanted to tell him that it wasn’t just his human half that was vulnerable to flights of illogic, but such things fall on deaf ears at his age, she should know. All the same, she didn’t want to let the conversation end on such a note.

“You’re right,” she said. “You should be proud of it.”

With that, she put her headphones back in her ears and turned to her own computer. She could see Spock glance her way, although he said nothing else. Maybe she couldn’t change the future, but she could maybe make Spock feel a little less alone, if only a for a while.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/

Selik avoided both Amanda Grayson and Spock. Although Spock did not talk much, when he did talk, he was extremely interested in Starfleet. Selik knew much of Starfleet, having grown up on a starship and as a member of an almost entirely Starfleet family. But he never attended, and he could not truthfully answer any of the questions that Spock put forth.

So when Selik saw Spock around the Academy Library, he tried to sneak away such that either Spock did not see him or that Spock could not easily speak to him alone. Unfortunately, the oddity that was his blonde hair stood out in the library. He would be lying if he said he had not seriously considered dying his hair to obscure himself. He had never considered such a thing in his own time, no matter how uncomfortable he had been.

Amanda Grayson was a whole other problem. Some part of Selik hurt when he saw her. He had been in his father’s mind enough to feel the never-quite-gone pain of her loss. Her presence reminded him of all that was at stake. The loss of Spock would hurt Selik much like the loss of Amanda Grayson wounded Spock.

But she had opened her home to him, a stranger to her, out of the kindness of her heart. He could not ignore her, he could not afford to make her suspicious, and so he spoke with her occasionally.

She always looked at him with a mix of confusion and interest: wanting to know more and not quite understanding where he came from. But he tried to keep their conversations light, as much as he could tell she wanted to know more.

Of course it would be an entirely human, generic need that would cause Selik to be stuck talking to Amanda Grayson more than he wished.

On Vulcan, Selik was more dehydrated than he had ever been in his life. His grandmother obtained tri-ox hypos for him, which helped, but he still drank water constantly. He had a mostly human physiology, and Vulcan was drier than New Vulcan by an appreciable amount. He could not help but wonder how Vulcans on New Vulcan did not constantly feel as if they were drowning in the humidity.

As it was, Selik found himself awake in the middle of the night, his tongue plastered to the roof of his mouth ‘tasting of death,’ as Amanda would say.

As much as he was loath to leave his room at any time, he grabbed his water bottle and tiptoed out of the guest room. The house had huge hallways, large passageways that allowed for maximum airflow and therefore natural cooling on the desert planet. He felt that his steps echoed loudly into the night, but in reality he knew the stone floor dampened sound within a few meters of where he walked.

The kitchen was empty and quiet. Selik filled his water bottle, taking a few longs drinks before refilling the bottle yet again.

“Selik?” A soft feminine voice asked.

He nearly jumped, but some part of him also felt dread. Amanda Grayson.

“Yes?” He said quickly. He turned, his water bottle full and newly capped in his hand. “I needed water.”

There was already a smile on Amanda’s open face, so like his sister’s.

“Vulcan is unforgiving,” she said, softly. “In my first year on the planet, I actually carried around a backpack with a water bladder. You would think Vulcans would find such a technology logical. However, I found myself having to dispel rumors that some humans could store water on their backs.”

Selik did not smile, as a general rule, but his lips twitched.

Amanda, wife of a Vulcan ambassador and mother of a half-Vulcan son, twitched her lips in return. “Would you like some tea?”

Selik was not sure what possessed him to say yes. Perhaps it was the soft brown color in her eyes, or perhaps it was the remembrance of his dad saying the exact same words on rough nights, or perhaps it was the memory of Amanda Grayson reaching her fingers out to her son as the planet collapsed around her.

“Sure,” he said, for possibly the fourth time in his life. ‘Sure’ was such an imprecise word.

Amanda Grayson moved across the kitchen with purpose, and Selik tried casually to lean against the kitchen island, falling into the role of not-quite-Selik with some difficulty. He tried to think like his dad or his sister, but that had never been easy for him.

“Selik,” his grandmother said softly as she boiled water.

“Yes?” he asked, looking at his water bottle.

His grandmother was silent for a moment, even though she had begun the conversation.

“Your human parent…your—”

“Dad,” Selik offered. “I call him dad.”

“I know you’re more…human than Spock,” his grandmother said softly, her eyes on the boiling water. “But I just wondered how you deal with having parents of different species. Are you…closer to one because of your identification to a particular species?”

Selik watched Amanda Grayson’s profile as she held it stiffly, uncomfortably.

The irony was that his sister—the one of them that was more Vulcan physiologically—was much more prepared for this conversation than he was. But unfortunately Amanda was not the one playing the Human-Vulcan hybrid, although she was the one who had considered the emotional ramifications of their hybrid status far more intimately.

“I hold affection for each of my parents equally,” Selik said gently. “Despite their conflicting natures.”

“Affection,” Amanda Grayson repeated softly.

“Love,” Selik offered, his face flushing, “If you prefer the human parlance.”

His grandmother smiled at him before turning opening a cabinet. Within was jar after jar of neatly labeled tea laves. “You seem more at ease with emotions than my son,” she said.

“I am older,” Selik said. He also knew that the woman before him influenced how his behavior, his very nature, would be interpreted in the future. She had done more for him than she would ever know.

“It is a daunting prospect to raise a child as no one has before,” his grandmother said.

“I can imagine,” Selik agreed. “I am incredibly appreciative of my parents. That being said, every child ends up reflecting the traits of one parent more than the other, I think. I believe the nature of Spock’s and my own hybrid species status sometimes feels more disparate than other personality traits, but I think that is only due to perspective.”

Amanda Grayson watched him closely now, her gaze thoughtful. “Perspective?”

Selik sighed, unable to watch her familiar brown eyes. He gazed at his chrome water bottle. “I follow the precepts of Surak,” he said softly. “But I am human as well, possibly more than I—well, I am hormonally human despite my preference for the logical system of Vulcan. But that does not mean I do not love my dad—I even appreciate his emotional candor at times—even if I am uncomfortable with it for myself.”

“Appreciation is different than love,” his grandmother said. He could hear the sharp sound of two mugs clicking against the countertops and the soft sound of water filling ceramic.

“Maybe so,” Selik agreed. “But my family would be incomplete—entirely lost, even—without my dad. My Vulcan father and I rely on my dad to balance that which we are not ready to say…or think, sometimes. “ He thought about his parents and missed them painfully: the way his dad’s blue eyes conveyed love without even trying, the way his father’s utter devotion made him feel safe always.

Amanda Grayson was watching him thoughtfully when Selik finally looked up from his water bottle. He flushed, felt raw in a way he had not in years.

“I hope that Spock reaches the kind of peace you seem to have,” she said, a small smile on her lips. She slid a mug of tea to him, the ceramic scraping the stone counter.

Selik was not sure entirely how to respond. He knew that Spock would face indescribable pain before he came to balance his natures, and Selik was only as successful as he was due to the hardships of his father. Now, more than ever, looking at the gentle and strong woman who had raised Spock, Selik felt her loss was not worth his comfort. He wanted her to know, then and there, that she was cherished and would be for decades yet.

But he was not her grandson here. He was a stranger to her, and the role he was playing was already revealing too much truth. He needed to reel the conversation back in, regain control.

“Spock seems intelligent and resourceful. I am certain that will take him far,” Selik offered a neutral statement.

Amanda’s brow furrowed. “You get uncomfortable when I start talking about my son. Why is that?”

Selik licked his lips, wishing more than anything that his sister were here. She was so much better at deception. He hated lying.

“I don’t know him,” Selik said, his tongue slipping the contraction before he could fix himself. He was so bad at this. “I cannot say much.”

Amanda sipped on her tea, her gaze focused on the steaming mug before her. Selik held his breath, worried and nervous he had said something wrong.

“I know you’re lying to me. You and T’Karik. I just can’t figure out why and what about,” Amanda told him, not meanly, but flat enough to make Selik’s heart start beating slightly faster.

“I am sorry,” Selik said. He could “I am not willfully deceiving you.”

“Are you not doing exactly that?” Amanda countered.

“I don’t—,” Selik was so bad at this. “I do not want to lie. I despise it. But I have to. I have to keep my family safe.”

“Am I such a threat?”

“Knowledge can be dangerous.” Selik forced himself to take a sip of the mug of tea, mimicking some kind of normalcy. The tea was sharp, a Vulcan variety, and he coughed a bit on it. He swallowed slowly on his next sip. “I have nothing but the highest regard for you, Lady Amanda. I may deceive you, but I take no pleasure in it. Nor does T’Karik, I assure you.”

Amanda sighed. She did not seem angry, only tired and perhaps a bit frustrated.

“I believe you,” she said. “I just can’t help but feel you know something about me and my family. You know I will also do anything I can to protect mine.”

“In that, Lady Amanda, our sentiments align.” Selik put his tea down, and before he could stop himself. He took a step closer to his grandmother. He held out a hand, offering a handshake, a touch of skin that would allow his telepathy to hopefully, assure her. “I swear on the precepts of Surak, on the lives of my fathers and my ancestors, I will do nothing to harm you or your family.”

Amanda raised her eyebrows. She pushed his hand gently into his chest, only allowing the briefest skin contact, not long enough to sense anything. “Selik,” she said, whispering his name, “I wouldn’t have let you into this house if I thought you would harm my family.” She met his eyes. “I only want to know why you used my name when you were in trouble. You know me somehow. I just can’t figure it out.”

Selik allowed a small smile, drawing back from her to his tea. “I will forever be grateful for what you have given my family. If I could repay you, I would.”

Amanda sighed and nodded. “Is your research going well then?”

“T’Karik has already sent word to my parents. We are hopeful,” Selik offered.

“I’m glad. Do you think I could ever meet them? Your parents?” She asked, tilting an eyebrow. “I go to Terra fairly regularly.”

“You may see them someday,” Selik said vaguely. He flushed lightly and finished his tea.

“I suppose that’s about the answer I expected,” she said. “I wish you all the best. I have enjoyed having you both here. Even if I’m not entirely certain who you are.”

Selik nodded at her, unable to say anything else. Lying was tiring, and more than that, it hurt to lie to her. This conversation had left Selik more tired than he had been in ages. He could feel his shoulders drooping.

“I’ve kept you up,” Amanda said softly, as if she could sense his thoughts. “I’m going back to bed. Have a good night, Selik.”

“Good night, Lady Amanda,” Selik whispered.

She left with the remainder of her tea, but Selik somehow felt her presence still, a ghost in his thoughts. He found himself idly speculating her reaction to the truth. Would she believe him insane?

“Spock is my father,” Selik whispered to the room. He felt a little insane. “You are my grandmother, and I am glad to have met you.”

The words, the truth, felt good on his tongue. He took a deep breath, letting the words die in the room. He could not tell her. There were too many painful years between he and Amanda Grayson. Such a burden was his and his sister’s to bear, not hers.

Although he was exhausted, he felt he could not sleep just then. His feet brought him to the library. He knew Amanda, his sister, was often distracted from their task by reading as much as she could about Vulcan-that-was. Selik spent nearly all of his time researching, his attention span always better than hers, but his one indulgence had been Sarek’s collection of clan history.

Selik found the last book he had been reading—it regaled the tale of one of Surak’s descendants subduing a colony of violent, illogical Vulcans—and sank into a chair in the corner of the library. He let himself forget his troubles in his book, losing himself to the tales and lives of Vulcans long dead. These ghosts, at least, did not haunt him.

Chapter Text

Ambassador?” Spock queried, standing tall at the entrance to his father’s office.

Sarek was typing something on his PADD, fingers gliding efficiently across the screen. He sat in a high-backed chair, although his father’s body was held at such an angle that he did not recline. When Spock spoke, his father did not immediately respond, his head only twitching slightly to show he had heard his son.

When the ambassador put his PADD away, his sharp eyes switched complete focus onto his visitor. “Come in, Spock.

Spock wrung his fingers behind his back, feeling suddenly, unaccountably nervous. He had decided it would be logical to inform his father of his intention to apply to Starfleet. The application would need to be sent in within the month, and if Spock made it past the first round of applicants, he would have to travel to Terra if he wished to take entrance exams. As he had attended non-Terran schools his entire academic career, he would need such exams to best decide his placement in classes. In addition, he needed recommendations from his Vulcan instructors, most of which were on a regular speaking basis with his father. Sarek needed to know.

His VSA application was also nearly done, although Spock found himself constantly editing and rechecking his application for Starfleet, while his VSA application was only on its second draft. He tried not to look too far into such a preference. He was keeping his options open.

This was logical, and so Spock could not entirely explain why he suddenly felt as if he were preparing to defend himself.

I wished to speak with you regarding my application to the Vulcan Science Academy, ” Spock said.

Your teachers have informed me that you have been spending many of your free periods on your application. This is wise. Admittance to the Academy will be a challenge.

Spock could not help but feel that if he were a full-blooded Vulcan, his admittance would be nothing but a formality. His grades were excellent, and his performance as a researcher has been beyond exemplary.

"This is why I have come to speak with you,” Spock said calmly, hopefully not reflecting his conflicting internal dialogue. “I have cultivated a secondary option for myself by also applying to Starfleet Academy on Terra.

He is not entirely certain what possessed him to point out specifically that Starfleet was on Terra. His father knew such a thing. He was being redundant, or perhaps a little hostile.

Sarek’s face revealed little emotion, as a rule, but Spock could read the subtle shift in the room. The way that suddenly Spock found himself standing straighter, his litany of Surak’s precepts running in the background of his mind.

It is logical that I have another option if the Vulcan Science Academy does not accept my application. The sciences track at Starfleet boasts some of the best astrophysicists in the Federation. Furthermore—" Spock started, feeling himself beginning to—ashamedly—blather.

I know plenty regarding Starfleet, Spock." Sarek’s voice was sharp and flat, and a little disapproving. “It is a largely Terran organization that spends much of its time protecting Human interests and fighting in Human conflicts. Why would you want to join such an organization? There are many options on Vulcan to continue your education should the Vulcan Science Academy reject your application.

Spock had considered these things. Of his options, Starfleet had seemed most interesting to him, with many unique opportunities. “Starfleet is rapidly expanding its exploration of the fundamental sciences, including extended space operations to explore the edges of the known universe. The opportunity to help shape research priorities for such an institution—

Has this been prompted by your mother’s current research associates?

Spock was so shocked by the question that he did not even consider the fact that his father had now interrupted him twice. He had started his Starfleet application a year ago, two weeks before starting his VSA application. Starfleet had always been an option in Spock’s mind. His father had never mentioned much other than the VSA, but that had not stopped Spock from staring up at the stars and considering his place among them.

No,” Spock responded sharply and coldly. “I am, in fact, capable of coming to my own conclusions.

Conclusions? You have already made your decisions then? After all of the time you have spent preparing for the Vulcan Science Academy?

My time has been spent preparing myself to be a scientist, " Spock corrected. “I am merely informing you of alternative considerations for my future as such.

You would be a military unit for your Commanding officers. Our people are not warriors anymore, Spock. Such a thing is distasteful to a true Vulcan, not to mention a waste of life.” Sarek’s voice was flat.

Spock’s eyes tightened. True Vulcan. He stiffened, suddenly feeling childish. Starfleet was perhaps the dream of a human child, but Spock had long since risen above such a station. He closed his eyes briefly, filled with anger and also shame.

Starfleet was just a thought, Sa’mekh. I—” Spock’s voice started wobbling so he stopped and swallowed. “Of course, I am spending my time primarily on my Vulcan Science Academy application.

That was perhaps presently a lie, but Spock would attempt to make it truth. The VSA would be a high honor, and he had no doubt he could succeed there. Just as successful as any true Vulcan.

Starfleet has high goals, but it fails to meet its own ideals more often than not. Spock, it is not a place for a Vulcan,” Sarek said severely, dismissively. “You would be a spectacle, wasting your life around those of inferior intellect. You would be surrounded by humans fulfilling their most base desires for violence and conquering.

And well, such things were not new assessments of humanity to Spock. He had heard this and more from his classmates, but from his father—the ambassador to Earth, bondmate of a human, and father to a half-human child—the statement was a shock.

Sarek even seemed to still at his own words, although his expression did not change. “There are singular examples of the species, Spock,” Sarek said, his voice careful. “Your mother is such a person. But Starfleet is not the best of them.

Spock had little to say in response. His father knew more of such things, more of the galaxy and of Terra. He deflated slightly. “Yes, Ambassador. I will take your words into consideration. I…apologize for my lapse in logic and knowledge.” Spock took a large step away from his father, wanting to be as far as possible from the older Vulcan.

You are young still, sa'fu,” Sarek said, before Spock could fully retreat. “You still are finding your way on the path to logic.

Perhaps it was merely due to Spock’s sudden feeling of inadequacy, but his father may as well have just said, You are finding your way despite your disadvantages.

Spock left without another word. His telepathic shields were a mess, and he had no wish for his father to realize how his words had affected Spock. He briskly made his way to his room, wishing to meditate, consider his father’s words and perspective.

When he got to his room, he immediately went to his computer. He booted the machine, his fingers flying over the interface PADD. His Starfleet application was still open from the last time he had been on the device.

He moved to immediately trash the file, his fingers typing in the sequence to destroy the evidence. He paused before he executed the sequence.

He started reading it again. The application was excellent. He had some novel ideas on how to better study astrophysical phenomena from a starship. He had a whole section on fundamental physics that could only be studied in deep space, and another section on new zero-gravity equipment he would build. He felt so passionately about the ideas in this application.

He could not delete it. The idea repulsed him.

Perhaps he could collaborate with Starfleet researchers remotely and—

Spock closed his eyes. He needed to focus on the Vulcan Science Academy. His application there was still good. He clicked it open, tried to read it from the beginning. He could do good work here on Vulcan too. His father would be pleased. He could stay near his parents.

He closed the Starfleet application. He did not delete it.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

“Sarek,” Amanda greeted her husband as he entered their bedroom. She was sitting cross-legged on their bed, her PADD sitting in front of her. She smiled at Sarek, pushing the PADD away to show that he had her attention.

“I wish to speak with you regarding your visiting researchers,” he said. His posture was held stiff, as it usually was, but Amanda thought she could sense something wrong in the expression on Sarek’s face.

Amanda did not wince. In fact, she did a remarkably good job controlling her reaction. She projected calm thoughts through her mind, attempting to keep Sarek from suspecting anything odd about her 'students.' Deception was not something she enjoyed, but she was willing in order help the young half-Vulcan and his friend.

“What about them?” Amanda asked, conveying curiosity and surprise in her tone.

“What is the remaining duration of their stay?”

“The plan was a month at the outset. It’s been just about three weeks, so only another week, most likely,” Amanda offered.

“And the research is progressing as expected? They will not extend their time here?” Sarek asked. He was showing perhaps slightly more interest than Amanda expected.

She honestly knew very little about what Selik and T’Karik were researching. They had their cover story about medical diction in psychological and telepathic illnesses. So Amanda had guessed that Selik’s father had some mental illness that he was fighting. However, how much information they had uncovered was not something she knew. But Sarek could not know that.

“I do not believe they will need to stay longer,” Amanda said. She cocked her head. “Why do you ask, Sarek?”

“I believe they are unduly affecting our son. As he is at a very sensitive juncture at his life, I do not believe it is wise for such influences.” The displeasure was obvious on her husband’s face.

Amanda blinked, surprised. “I didn’t think Spock spoke much with them, aside from travelling to and from Shi-Kahr together.”

Sarek was silent for a moment, considering. His eyes tightened. “Spock informed me this morning that he was considering applying to Starfleet Academy.”

“What?” Amanda shook her head. Sure, Starfleet had amazing scientists and even social scientists—Amanda worked with them often—but the organization was also military. She had not thought Spock interested in such a human organization. She felt a tightness in her chest, and she was not certain if it was good or bad. “Spock’s never mentioned that to me.”

“Further proof that his motivation for such an action is recent,” Sarek said sharply. “He was worked rigorously to achieve the Vulcan Science Academy his whole life.”

At her husband’s severe words, Amanda paused and considered her son. Spock tried so very hard to be a good son to Sarek, and a good Vulcan to his father’s associates. But she considered her child when he was younger, how the few toys he allowed were star charts and mini-star displays that splayed small pinpoints of light across the ceiling of his bedroom.

She imagined the softness in Spock’s eyes as he walked Amanda’s gardens, eyes up and out, considering the wider galaxy. Perhaps her son had, while also working so very hard to please his father, been thinking of his place off of this harsh, red planet. What did Spock see in Starfleet—a Federation organization—that was attempting to become the defender and intellectual centerpoint for all species? The hope for the organization was such a human, optimistic ideal, and perhaps, one that a half-Vulcan, half-Human child would consider…fascinating.

“Are you sure that it is a new interest?” Amanda asked, wanting to go ask Spock himself. She had always assumed the Vulcan Science Academy was Spock’s dream as well as Sarek’s, and suddenly she felt remiss in her role as a mother. She had never actually asked Spock.

“Even you say that he has never mentioned Starfleet to you. I do not see how it can be otherwise,” Sarek said severely.

“That doesn’t sound like Spock to me. He always thinks his decisions through, Sarek. I can’t imagine him making such a large decision in such a short time,” Amanda said, a small smile on her face. “He’s too much like you for such a thing.”

Sarek narrowed his eyes. “You approve of our son considering Starfleet? It is distasteful for a Vulcan. Far too violent. I have told you of their blunders in First Contact and colonization attempts. Giving out planets to any egomaniac desiring of one.”

“I don’t love the idea of my baby boy learning how to kill people, no. But he’s always been such a curious boy. I think I could see him out there, among the stars, exploring.” Amanda looked at her husband, eyebrows raised. “Can you not see why he might want to experience the galaxy beyond Vulcan?”

Sarek’s head jerked sharply to the side. “No, I do not. Spock is, as you say, much like myself. I do not see why he would want to be surrounded by—”

And Sarek, wisely, did not finish his sentence. Although Amanda, of course, knew what he was saying.

“Surrounded by humans,” Amanda finished for him, her expression growing dangerous. “He’s half-human, Sarek. And you’re hardly in a position to speak about surrounding yourself with humans.”

“I spent a human lifetime mastering my grasp of logic, honing my emotional discipline such that exposure to humanity does not affect me.” Amanda sincerely wanted to laugh at that but could tell that Sarek was truly upset and perhaps a bit worried about their son, so she let him continue. “Spock is too young, and his heritage means that his maturation on the path of logic may require even longer than it did for myself.” Sarek paused briefly before continuing. “And you know, of course, that I mean not that his heritage is a disservice, merely that since he is physiologically Vulcan and a strong touch telepath, it would be irresponsible to let his formative years be spent in an organization as violent as Starfleet, surrounded by those who cannot understand his needs.”

And all of that made sense to Amanda. In this, she could not argue from any place of authority. Her knowledge of Vulcan telepathy was academic, aside from her bonds with Sarek and Spock. She could sometimes feel when their emotions were particularly violent, but they both had incredible control. The bonds were a warm point in the back of her mind, cherished but not fully understood.

“Sarek, is it so bad if Spock is considering Starfleet as an alternative plan? He is still applying to the Vulcan Science Academy, right?” Amanda offered gently.

Sarek nodded sharply. “I only find myself concerned about the influence of a human and a...an unbridled Vulcan at this point in his life.”

T’Karik was probably the more troublesome of the visitors for Sarek. A Vulcan that rejected the teachings of Surak was no doubt bringing up troublesome memories of Sarek’s first child—the Vulcan who had gone so astray. James—Selik—comported himself remarkably like the half-Vulcan he was. But Sarek did not know that, and Amanda could not help but feel a little disappointed that her husband did not even suspect, could not see even a little beyond the boy’s blonde hair and blue eyes.

“I think you are underestimating Spock,” Amanda told him, frankly, “But the researchers will most likely be gone in a week regardless. We can deal with Spock’s interest in Starfleet once they have left.”

Sarek’s shoulders loosened slightly. “Yes, I can understand that Spock may have a…curiosity for his human half.” Her husband stepped closer to the bed, reaching two fingers out for his wife.

Amanda met the tips of his fingers gently. A jumble of frustration and concern fell through their bond, and Amanda sighed. “Spock will be fine, Sarek. Don’t worry about James and T’Karik.”

Sarek let the edge of his mouth twitch momentarily. “Yes, although I find I will perhaps be somewhat relieved when your students have left.”

Amanda really doubted that Spock was so affected by their visitors, but she smiled at her husband and let the matter rest. As long as Selik and T’Karik maintained their low profile for the remainder of their visit, everything should be just fine. After all, how much trouble could two young adults possibly get themselves into?

Chapter Text

Interlude

Noah rolled over in his bed, arm flinging out as he shifted. His skin never touched sheets, instead running into another body. He immediately came completely awake, sitting up and scooting away from the figure net to him. He had been alone in his bed only minutes ago.

He scrambled over to his bedside lamp, clicking it on without taking his eyes off of the unknown person.

When he could finally see her, he realized this was no stranger. He knew every inch of her, as well as he knew himself: the slope of her forehead, the curve of her ears, and even the soft and slow cadence of her breath.

Impossible.

Noah had not slept much since sending Amanda and Selik Kirk to the past. Their absence was pervasive. The only place he did not acutely feel their loss was his classes, where he was surrounded by students who didn’t know Amanda or Selik personally. He avoided Admiral Kirk like the plague, actually darting to hide if he saw the man around Starfleet campus. His father tried to understand, but in many ways Amanda and Selik were like his own children. He loved Noah, of course, but anyone close to the twins was feeling strain by this point.

They had been gone two weeks, and no one had received any information from them. If they had made it to the past, they could send information to any future date they wanted. There was no need for delay, unless they didn’t make it to the past at all.

But now Amanda Kirk was lying in his bed, sleeping peacefully next to him.

He must be hallucinating. How long had it been since he slept?

Still, she seemed so real. He reached his hand out to her, touching her shoulder softly. His skin met hers in a familiar spark of telepathy, and he could sense her waking.

He expected her to disappear, but instead her eyes opened, the warm brown of her irises found him immediately. She smiled, and when she sat up next to him, his quilt fell from her shoulders. She was wearing a close-fitting tank top with the words Starfleet Science written across the front. Last time she was in his room, this had been what she was wearing, when she had come to his room to say goodbye the night before she and Selik left.

“Amanda,” he said softly, sadly.

“Noah,” she responded, her cadence low and suggestive. She crawled to him, climbing into his lap, straddling his waist. His hands immediately went to grasp her hips. She dropped her forehead to his, so that the telepathy opened and their minds flowed with one another. He couldn’t help but lean forward to kiss her.

Her lips were slightly cooler than his, a reminder of her Vulcan heritage, and he wanted to pull her closer, make her as warm as him until they were one Vulcan and Human unit warm and safe in his bed.

But Amanda pulled away, a soft smile on her lips. He found he was content to watch her there, so close that he could see every line of her face and every fleck in her eyes.

“Where are you, Amanda?” His voice was soft and hoarse.

“I’m safe,” she said.

Noah laughed bitterly. “Then why haven’t we heard from you?”

“You’re all so impatient.”

“There’s no logic in you and Selik waiting to send the information,” he told her.

Amanda grinned. “Is that the only explanation? That we never made it to the past?”

Noah frowned. Amanda had told him before she left that she was going to try to find an off-planet server somewhere to store the information that she and Selik found, and they would time it to be delivered sometime after they left the present.

“I guess the information could have been lost,” Noah said. “Maybe something happened to the server?”

“Maybe,” she said. She leaned into him again, this time into a hug, her chest against his and her head snuggled into his shoulder. “What can you do to figure that out?”

Noah reached his hand to run his fingers through her short-cropped hair. “I can search for any off-planet server malfunctions in the last thirty years or so. Maybe even cross-check with those that were storing Vulcan information.”

“Mmm, I knew I liked you for a reason,” she said into his neck. “So smart.”

“You would have thought of this earlier,” he said. “And you would find the information quicker. I’m rubbish at computers.”

“You’re a good programmer,” she said. “For a McCoy.”

Noah chuckled and flipped them over. Amanda laughed as her back bounced against the bed. He settled himself gently on top of her and lowered his head until their breaths mingled.

“Kirks are so arrogant,” he whispered.

“You love it,” she said, her beautiful eyes a challenge.

Noah’s eyes flickered over her face, and he knew his expression was probably utterly hopeless. “Yeah, I do, Amanda.”

On his next breath, he awoke with a start in his dark and silent bedroom, utterly alone. His heart was beating fast, and he had a thin layer of sweat on his brow that he wiped away with shaking fingers. He scooted himself up his bed so that he was leaning against the backboard, and willed his heart to slow down. The ice in the water by his bed had melted, but he drank the whole glass anyway.

His dream had felt so real, but it was probably just the result of too many sleepless nights. Still, he considered what Amanda had said in his dream, aside from the flirting.

Where was the data that she and her brother should have sent by now? Had something happened to it?

Noah forced his exhausted body to his desk and booted up his computer; he probably wouldn’t have slept tonight anyway. The history of Federation servers wasn’t exactly something of general interest easily found on the web. He thought about Amanda though and considered what her thought process would have been in finding an off-world server: secure, inconspicuous, and high quality.

Noah licked his lips and followed a hunch.

After making calls for three hours, in which half of the time he was yelling in Orion, he was talking to a young Orion technician who was manning an older server bank now stored on some distant moon.

Do you have any files marked for a McCoy that originated on Vulcan? Noah asked, his Orion accent was honestly terrible, especially after speaking the musical language for almost two hours now.

I got a couple,” the kid said, his voice bored and his dialect somewhat hard to understand. “New Vulcan doesn’t use us much though. Not much trust these days.

Not New Vulcan. These files would be old: pre-destruction. From before the servers moved to Rentak Moon.

Oh,” the technician said, somewhat flustered. “Let me check. That’ll be on the old drives.

Noah tapped his fingers impatiently on his desk, hoping that this would be his answer. His foot was tapping repeatedly, and his chair creaked with the motion. Please, please, please.

This is over thirty years old,” the kid said, his voice returning to the phone abruptly. “Marked for Doctors McCoy, of Terra. Just like you said, it’s from pre-destruction Shi-Kahr. Wow.

Why wasn’t it sent to us?” Noah asked sharply.

I…I don’t know.” The kid stammered. There was silence for a moment before the technician continued. “We changed security coding a few years back. I think that might have changed our auto-delivery subroutines. I’m very sorry sir. The server address it says to deliver is delta-echo-11-4561-tango-77 on the Starfleet Student Server, is that still correct?

Noah started laughing, his relief so palpable that he actually rested his head against his desk, “Yes,” he whispered, and then repeated the word in Orion.

Within the next hour Noah was decompressing file upon file of Vulcan research, so much that his eyes started to blur on the lettering. He dialed Admiral Kirk and his father as soon as he was sure. Both of their faces showed up on-screen looking rather bewildered. Noah checked the time and realized it was still an hour until sunrise.

“Sorry, guys,” he said, his voice cracking from overuse.

“Noah, you look awful. When did you last sleep?” His father asked, eyes crinkling with worry.

“I actually managed an hour of sleep in earlier,” he said, a half-smile on his face. “But then I got an idea from my dream.” He glanced to Admiral Kirk, whose hair was in similar disarray to his own. He flushed a little, recalling his dream and staring Amanda’s father in the eyes. “I realized that something might have happened to the server Amanda used to upload the files. And after making a ton of calls, I found them.”

“You found the files?” Kirk asked cautiously. The Admiral’s gaze was suddenly serious, and Noah, although he was in boxers and an old t-shirt, felt like he was giving a mission report on the bridge of a starship.

“Yes, sir,” Noah said. “Looks like hundreds of files, actually. All in Vulcan—some of which already looks promising—or in High Vulcan, which I can’t read, but I’m sure Commander Spock can.”

“Oh my god,” Dr. McCoy whispered. “They actually did it. They’re on Vulcan.”

Noah’s eyes widened a bit, actually taking in that information. “How do you think they’re taking it?”

“I don’t envy them.” Kirk’s eyes darkened. “Imagine having to leave Terra without saying anything if you knew it was doomed to die.”

His dad swore, and Noah raised his eyebrows.

“You said it, Bones,” Kirk agreed darkly. “Spock’s worried about them interfering.”

“Selik won’t let them,” Noah said.

“Since when does Selik control Amanda?” Kirk pointed out.

Noah wanted to defend his sort-of girlfriend, but they all knew her pretty well. Once Amanda got an idea in her head, it was difficult to get her to shake it. Then again, if Noah had to pick one person who could change her mind, it would be her twin.

“We just have to trust them,” Noah said tentatively.

They were all silent for a moment. They trusted the twins, to some degree, but the situation was complex, and Noah wasn’t sure if any of them could fault Selik or Amanda for risking everything to save billions of their people.

“Do you know what Spock would do if he went back?” Noah asked the older men.

Admiral Kirk closed his eyes, and Leonard McCoy smiled sadly.

“He would save his mother,” Dr. McCoy said softly.

Noah sighed.

“Can you tell what year they’re in?” Kirk asked. “Maybe they missed Spock’s lifetime entirely.”

Noah clicked around on the files until he found a source file with meta data. “These files were compressed inside of the Library of the Vulcan Science Academy, Stardate 2246.”

“Spock’s seventeen,” Noah’s father said. “He’d still be on Vulcan, right Jim?”

Admiral Kirk took a moment to answer, his eyes gazing at something off screen, or possibly he was thinking of something else entirely. He blinked and glanced back to the screen. “Yeah,” he said, his voice husky. “He’s still at the Vulcan Learning Center. But he’s applying to the VSA and Starfleet. He starts Starfleet at eighteen.”

“So they might run into him,” Noah said with a frown.

“Did they send anything but papers?” his father asked.

Noah bit his lip, clicking through the files he had so far. “I don’t think so, but I haven’t decompressed everything yet.”

The lines around Kirk’s eyes had somehow grown deeper in the last few seconds, his expression pained. The slump to his shoulders was more pronounced, and he looked exhausted.

“Good job with this, Noah,” Kirk said, a forced smile on his face. “Send everything our way as soon as you can?”

“Alright,” he said. “Are you okay, Admiral?”

“Yeah,” Kirk said, and he tried to straighten himself. “Just tired. It’s been a rough few weeks. Thank you for finding this. I’m glad to know they made it to the past, at least. I’m going to go tell Spock.”

Kirk disconnected without another word, and Noah frowned.

“Dad, is he okay? He seemed a little upset there at the end,” Noah asked.

“I don’t know. But imagine his position. If all of this goes south, he stands to lose his husband and children,” his dad said grimly.

“Yeah,” Noah whispered, the guilt overcoming him for a moment.

“Noah, son, you did good today,” his dad said, with genuine feeling in his voice. “It wasn’t your job to stop them. I’m sorry if I’ve made you feel that way. This has all been so hard.”

Noah nodded, his throat feeling tight. “I miss them too.”

He could feel his father’s probing gaze even through the screen. When his dad spoke again, he had to fight himself from actually crying, which would have been mortifying, honestly.

“She’ll come back, Noah.”

Chapter Text

“So when should we start thinking about going home?” Amanda asked. She was sitting on a short pillar that rose on the edge of the front staircase of the VSA library. The day was hot and dry, the sun seeming to take up more of the sky, demanding in its presence. They were waiting for Spock, who accompanied them back to the house regularly.

“We told Lady Amanda we would leave by the end of the week,” Selik said. He was checking the weather on his PADD, making a notation of the conditions. He leaned casually in the shade of one of the large columns that surrounded the entrance to the library. “We could theoretically search for years for potential answers, but the longer we are gone, the more risk we pose to the future.”

“Between the Lady Amanda’s curiosity and Ambassador Sarek’s outright dislike, I have a hard time believing they’ll forget us anytime soon.” Amanda was torn in her feelings. She cherished learning what little of she could of their lost grandmother, but seeing her grandfather look at her with such disdain was incredibly disconcerting.

Sa’mekh’al has many…personal realizations to achieve between now and our time,” Selik said, although he frowned at the statement.

“One of the first things I’m going to do when we get home is comm him and tell him I love him. He’ll be so uncomfortable, but it’ll be absolutely worth it,” Amanda said, a small smile on her face.

Selik huffed a laugh. “While perhaps not quite as direct as you, I will also be gratified to speak with him again.”

Amanda let her lips twitch and tried very hard not to think about their grandmother.

“I have a lot of hope for some of the therapies we’ve found for Father, Se,” Amanda said, changing the subject before she could ruminate for too long. “I think we have a chance. Hell, by the time we get back, they might have figured something out with what we sent them.”

“If we make it back,” Selik reminded.

“What’s the plan for that? Should we try to get to Terra?”

Selik hesitated, narrowing his eyes as he thought. “I believe that would have the highest probability of success.”

“And easiest,” Amanda agreed. “Plus, I can hack Starfleet all day. We may even be able to find a transporter we’ve seen before.”

Selik nodded. “We will need to arrange our transport off planet. The duration of the trip will be two weeks in this era.”

The dull hum of the city around was so unlike Terra. No laughter or idle conversation and very few transport vehicles made Shi-Kahr easily the quietest major city in the Federation. The majesty was grand and beautiful and solemn. Amanda would miss it.

“Leaving will be hard,” she whispered, her throat closing. “So hard.”

Selik nodded. “Remember to what we are returning.”

“I’ll also remember what we’re leaving,” Amanda tugged on a head wrap she had borrowed from the Lady Amanda.

Selik said nothing for a moment, watching the city. “Yes, I find myself considering hypothetical—”

He left the thought unfinished as Spock joined them. He was composed and stiff as usual, but there was something in his eyes that Amanda found odd. Spock grasped the strap of his bag and glanced backward once. Spock had been accompanying them home for the last three weeks, and he had never expressed this edge of agitation.

“Shall we?” Amanda asked, frowning at her young Father’s demeanor.

“Yes,” Spock agreed, watching the ground as they began to walk.

The group only made it down the first set of wide marble stairs, when a voice reached them. The pitch was high, and the voice uninflected. Only from years of experience around Vulcans could Amanda catch the hint of derision.

“Spock, who is your Human? Any relation?”

She spun around, surprised. This was the first time that the attention of any Vulcan extended to verbal confrontation. There were two Vulcan males heading toward them, taller than Spock and Selik, wearing the black robes of Learning Center students with heads of shining black hair.

Spock blanched, somehow appearing even more pale than usual. He looked to Selik and Amanda with equal parts frustration and pleading. Amanda was uncertain what he wanted from them.

“This is James,” Spock said, returning his gaze to their pursuers. “He is a student from Starfleet, researching with my mother.”

“Were Vulcan researchers not sufficient for her?” The slightly shorter one asked with derision. His nose was broad and flat, with wide set eyes that could have appeared kind with a smile but instead seemed predatory as the Vulcan stalked forward.

“My mother collaborates with a multitude of species,” Spock said, motioning to Amanda.

The taller Vulcan, closest to Amanda, tilted his long neck, small amber eyes squinting as he watched her. He was one of the tallest Vulcans Amanda had seen, and he carried himself like a threat. His head tilted as he gave her his full attention. “The vre’kasht one.”

Vre’kasht. Outcast.

Amanda’s fingers tightened into fists. Selik glanced at her, stepping closer so that the back of his hand brushed her knuckles. He whispered, “Do not do anything stupid,” while simultaneously sending calm thoughts through their connection.

“Is she going to attempt to fight us?” The shorter one asked, a subtle tone of mocking in the words. Of course they had heard Selik; they were Vulcans.

“I might,” Amanda said calmly. “I don’t appreciate those who entertain incorrect and illogical conclusions.”

“One who cannot adhere to Surak should be vre’kasht,” the tall one said, Vulcan calm. “Spock has a disadvantage, but you have no such excuse.”

“You’re an ass,” Amanda said.

The Vulcans were obviously confused by her statement, and she grinned, tightening her fists again and stepping up toe-to-toe with the tall one. She refused to be intimidated by his superior height, meeting amber eyes with her own. “I’m not vre’kasht, but I have no problems risking exile. Want to test me?”

Selik grabbed her shoulder and pulled her back, although the tall one was so obviously close to backing down. Vulcans couldn’t stand an invasion of personal space. “Stop,” Selik whispered.

“The Human is afraid,” the shorter Vulcan said, a hint of humor in his tone.

Selik didn’t even flinch. He could bear ridicule with grace, of course. Her brother was maddeningly calm in the face of idiocy.

Spock stepped in front of Selik and Amanda, sighing. “Cease this interaction, Skon. My mother is expecting us. Such taunting is infantile at best and imbecilic at worst. Surely we have reached an age where such childishness is inappropriate.”

Skon, which was evidently the name of the slightly shorter bully, narrowed his eyes at the insults. “Can you not abide a conversation of inconvenient truths, Spock?”

“Let us take our leave,” Spock said to Amanda and Selik, turning his back on them.

“Come on Spock!” Skon raised his voice as they walked away. “How long has it been since you cried last? Has it even been a year?”

Amanda winced and glanced at Spock, who was flushed now, embarrassed.

“Your father’s whore had to come get you last time, did she not?” The tall one said calmly. Selik actually reacted that time; his own rarely used fists balling at his sides. Amanda was so surprised that she could do nothing but watch as her brother stalked back to the Vulcans. “Is that why she has brought a human for you? Do you need a human for your uncontrolled desires?”

“He is pretty and—” Skon was cut off as Selik swung a well-aimed fist straight at the Vulcan’s face. Many things could be said of James Tiberius Kirk’s incredibly intellectual son, that he had a weak right hook was not one of them. The Vulcan stumbled, not expecting the force of the blow.

Amanda rushed forward, but she didn’t make it in time before Skon’s friend retaliated, his fist colliding hard with her brother’s cheek. The blow was sloppy and poorly aimed, but the Vulcan was just that—a Vulcan—and his bone density alone was like steel to a human.

Selik fell to his knees, his hands catching his fall. He only barely managed to balance himself without falling down the massive staircase. His huff of surprise was the only sound he made, and Amanda twitched at the sound.

“You assholes!” Amanda tore toward them, and she was seriously going to fight for all she was worth.

But Spock, despite how reserved he was at this point in his life, physically grabbed Amanda around the waist and hauled her backward. “Stop this,” Spock said urgently. “You will be expelled from Shi’Kahr.”

Amanda exhaled, her eyes not leaving the Vulcan bullies. Skon was nursing what appeared to be a heavily bruised eye, his expression one of shock. His friend was peering at his own hand curiously, as if he had never thought to use it as a weapon until now. “The human is so soft,” the Vulcan said, his tone one of detached curiosity.

Selik hadn’t gotten up, still on his knees with his face downward. He was doing something with his hands, possibly testing the bones in his face for breaks.

“Shut up!” Amanda yelled at the Vulcan. She forced her gaze from her brother to the Vulcans. “Leave. Or do you want me to call the Terran Embassy and report that Vulcan students are assaulting a member of Starfleet?”

Both Vulcans blinked in shock. For all that Vulcans were generally very intelligent, their arrogance was their downfall. To be reminded that a Human was more than an unwelcome intruder to the planet was enough.

They left silently, not even glancing behind them.

Spock let go of her quickly as soon as it was clear Amanda wasn’t going to run after them.

Amanda immediately fell next to Selik, whose face was still hidden.

“Se, are you okay?” She asked, only belatedly realizing she was using a nickname of his Vulcan name. Hopefully Spock would not notice.

“Affirmative,” he said, his voice muffled. “However, I believe I may have suffered a nasal fracture and possibly a fracture of the orbital rim of my cheekbone.”

“Are you dizzy?” She asked, confused about his lack of movement. “Can you not stand up?”

Selik breathed through his mouth, a heavy sound. “I am bleeding.”

“Okay,” Amanda responded. “From your nose? That’s not uncommon with a broken nose. Why aren’t you moving?”

“Aman—T’Karik,” he corrected himself. “I am bleeding.”

Suddenly she felt as dumb as Skon and his friend had been. Selik was bleeding blood. Selik was bleeding green blood in front of Spock, who thought he was human.

“Fuck,” she said softly. She immediately unwrapped her scarf from around her head and handed it to Selik. “Can you hide it for at least the ride to the Lady Amanda’s house?”

“Perhaps,” he said. He took her scarf and was pressing it to his face. “Can you…help?”

Selik was quite obviously loath to ask, but Amanda understood. She reached out and gently pressed her fingers to his temple. His skin was overly hot and wet with sweat, but she found the meld point easily enough. She constricted the blood vessels around his fracture, slowing the bleeding. For extra measure, she eased some of the pain. Selik huffed at the unnecessary addition but said nothing.

When she pulled her hand away, Selik had finally lifted his head. His eyes met hers questioningly.

“I can’t see any blood,” she said, her voice low.

Selik was pressing the scarf hard against his nose, enough that it must hurt, but at least it hid his incorrectly colored blood. His cheek was visible, and already bruising bright green, but hopefully no one was versed well enough in Human bruising to know that the first stage of a Human bruise was not green.

Finally Amanda cast her gaze back to Spock. She was unsurprised to find that his face was some mix of poorly concealed horror and curiosity. Of course, he had seen the light meld she had performed, and all of his Vulcan sensitivities were probably rubbed completely raw by this point.

“We’ll explain later, Spock,” she said gently.

He blinked. “You are…bonded?”

“God no!” Amanda yelled. She flushed at her outburst, looking to Selik, who frankly appeared to be in several levels of hell. “No, he’s…we’re…dammit. Se, I don’t know what to say.”

“I am her brother,” he said, his voice strained and low. “Please, can we depart now?”

Spock appeared speechless, which in any other circumstance, would be amusing. Amanda hovered next to Selik’s arm. “Do you need my help or anything?”

“No, my legs are functional,” he said. “I am, however, slightly nauseous and dizzy. If we could make haste back to Spock’s home, it would be best for maintaining secrecy.”

To Spock’s credit, at Selik’s request, he put aside his obvious confusion and alarm and led them to their usual rail train out of Shi’Kahr. They paid slightly extra for a private box on the train, and as soon as the door shut, Selik all but collapsed on one of the seats, leaning his head against the wall.

Spock took the seat farthest possibly from Selik, right next to the door. He did not stare at Selik impolitely, but his gaze kept flickering over the injured form splayed against the outer wall of the train.

“Sit up, Selik,” Amanda said softly, forgetting to use his fake name. “Let me look at you.”

Selik’s only complaint at having to move was a short but audible exhalation through his mouth. He pulled the scarf away from his nose, and Amanda flinched. He was a mess. Dried and fresh green blood was splattered from his eyebrows to his mouth. The bruises across his nose and cheek were a mottled mix of dark and bright green.

“You look like shit, Se,” she said softly. “Hand me your water bottle and the scarf.”

Selik did as she told him, and his gaze never wavered to the other occupant of the train car.

Amanda cleared the blood from his face gently, and Selik hardly winced, his eyes steady on her own. The last hour was flashing through his eyes, and she could see the moment he remembered and regretted telling Spock too much information.

“It’s okay,” she whispered. His nose was still bleeding, but she had cleaned the rest of the blood with careful dabs of her scarf. Setting the cloth aside for a moment, she gently probed his nose with her fingers. Selik did wince at this treatment, but he knew that she needed to set it.

“Alright, want me to count?” She asked.

Selik shook his head, and as soon as he was still again, Amanda moved her thumbs to either side of Selik’s nose. On his next exhalation, she applied quick but sure pressure. The snap as his nasal bone and cartilage moved into place made Amanda wince. Selik shut his eyes and gasped with the pain of it. Amanda handed him his water bottle back, as well as the damp, bloody scarf. He placed the cooling pack from the side of the water bottle on his nose and tilted his head backward, scarf in hand for dabbing fresh blood away.

Amanda sighed and leaned back, watching her brother bravely make an effort to appear unfazed.

Spock was openly staring at them now, his attempts at impassiveness forgotten. His gaze was heavy on Selik, unwavering.

“Got any questions?” Amanda asked.

Spock’s head snapped to her, surprised, as if he had forgotten she was here. He glanced at Selik and then back to her.

“He is a hybrid like I am,” Spock said.

It wasn’t really a question, but Amanda answered anyway. “Yeah, but more human.”

“And you—,” Spock blinked, as if he had forgotten to consider Selik’s revelation. “My initial reaction is that you must be a half-sister, but your obvious derision for Surak’s precepts forces me to reconsider. You are also a hybrid,” Spock said.

“I don’t have derision for—,” Amanda started.

T’Karik, stop,” Selik said softly. “Now is not the time.”

Amanda sighed. “Yeah, I’m part human as well. But my physiology is more Vulcan than his.”

Spock watched them both with unconcealed interest. “Fascinating,” he said. He paused for a moment, eyebrows rising. “You have lied to my mother.”

“Not…completely,” Amanda said, wincing. “She may have lied to you.”

“She is complicit in this?” Spock practically choked out the words.

“We got in a bit of trouble,” Amanda offered. “She covered for us.”

“You are not researching with her?” Spock looked overwhelmed.

T’Karik,” Selik warned.

“Selik, what the hell am I supposed to say?” Amanda was exasperated and still shaking a bit with anger.

“I am not certain I can believe anything you say at this juncture,” Spock said stiffly.

Amanda hated the distrust in his eyes. In the time they had spent at his household, Amanda was fairly certain Spock had grown to tolerate—and possibly even enjoy—their presence. All of that was gone now.

“Our father is ill. He’s going to die,” Amanda said coldly. If there was one thing that Amanda was good at, it was giving as good as she got.

Spock’s mouth opened, but Amanda cut in.

“We got in trouble and your mom helped us not get arrested. She’s offered us a place to stay, mostly I think because she wanted to learn more about Selik. She doesn’t realize what I am.” Amanda leaned back into her seat, head against the wall of their compartment. “I’m really, really sorry, Spock. I like you. I’m sorry we lied. But we must save our father.”

Spock flushed. “I…I grieve—”

“No,” Amanda cut him off, knowing full well she was being mean. “We’re going to save our father. We don’t need your grief.”

Spock reeled like he had been hit, at least as much as any Vulcan reels. Selik leaned forward, new blood immediately welling at the tip of his nose. “T’Karik, stop yelling at Spock. He did not perform any transgressions against your person. You are misplacing your anger.”

You’re the one who punched the idiots,” Amanda grumbled.

“I admit my actions were perhaps rash,” Selik wiped at the blood on his nose with the scarf. “I found myself emotionally compromised by their statements regarding Spock’s mother.”

Spock’s eyebrows furrowed, gaze falling back to Selik. Her brother took a deep breath and met their young father’s gaze. “Lady Amanda has been incredibly kind to me.”

Spock leaned back in his seat. His gaze fell to the wall of their compartment, as if the curve of the metal were suddenly just as interesting as Selik and Amanda’s presence. His fingers, still not quite their full size, clenched on his Vulcan robes. “As I have also partaken in violence on this front, I cannot speak to the illogic of physical altercation. I also believe my mother does not deserve their vitriol.”

The soft whir of the rail car as it jettisoned into outer Shi’Kahr became the only sound in the compartment. Selik’s slight wheeze was worrisome, but the bleeding seemed to be abating somewhat. Unfortunately, his bruising was bright green now, a color never seen in a human bruise. Her brother may need to spend their final week indoors, away from Vulcan eyes, and hopefully heal enough to not draw attention when they travelled. Bruises were rarely seen in the era of dermal regeneration, especially bright green bruises on human faces.

“You should check that his optical nerves are undamaged,” Spock said into the silence. “The swelling below his right eye indicates that an orbital rim fracture is likely. Can you seek medical attention?”

Amanda leaned forward to examine the indicated cheek. “We can’t go to a doctor,” she said. “The current Vulcan High Council does not know of our existence, and we have no intention of letting them find us.”

“Are you able to move your right eye with normal functionality?” Spock asked Selik.

Selik tested his range of motion. He winced when the muscles in his jaw pulled, but his eyes responded normally while looking up, down, left, and right. “I believe it to be a mild fracture.”

“It’s a very non-human bruise and swelling color,” Amanda warned.

“T’Karik is correct, Selik” Spock offered; he only hesitated briefly on the newly-revealed Vulcan name. “Does Ambassador Sarek also know of your hybrid status?”

Selik winced, the motion caused him obvious pain, and his eyes flew shut. “He does not,” Selik whispered hoarsely.

“He is unlikely to overlook the anomalous evidence of your injuries,” Spock said. “Furthermore, he is fully Vulcan and will not abide deception as easily as my mother appears to have done.”

“The jig is up,” Amanda murmured.

Spock lifted an eyebrow but did not respond.

“We must convince him not to alert the High Council as to our presence,” Selik said seriously.

Spock’s other eyebrow joined the first. “I find myself obligated to verify that you are not committing some sort of crime.”

“All we have done is read academic papers from the academy archives,” Amanda assured him. “Our secrecy is personal, not malevolent.”

Spock met her gaze. “You will need to convince the Ambassador of this.”

“Maybe we should not go back,” Selik offered, only sounding slightly pained. “We could disappear into Shi’Kahr.”

“Is your father home?” Amanda asked Spock. Sarek had been in and out of the house for the duration of their stay, often returning very late from attending negotiations and other duties in the capitol and at spacedock.

Spock blinked. “He should not be home tonight until 1700.” His head tilted. “You plan to leave before he returns.”

“Why go back at all?” Selik asked.

Amanda winced and grabbed her brother’s free hand from his lap. His surface emotions, normally well controlled, were turbulent and anxious. The pain in his face was secondary to his guilt.

I want to say goodbye. Amanda’s mental voice was soft.

More guilt and sorrow poured into Amanda through her hand. I should stop you.

You won’t.

Selik pulled his hand from her grip with a short exhalation. “I believe,” he looked at Spock, apologetic for their silent communication, “that we will thank your mother for her hospitality. However, I do not believe we can convince the Ambassador to let us go. He is highly suspicious of our influence on your character. We will leave before he returns home.”

“My father does doubt my control,” Spock said, his voice flat. He tilted his head at Selik. “You expect me to lie for you.”

“It will be possible to mislead him without lying,” Selik responded with an equal monotone.

Spock did not respond. Even with Amanda’s knowledge of his future self’s expressions, she could not tell what he felt in that moment. However, she could sense the edge of a challenge in Selik’s tone, and she thought that her young father just might attempt to rise to it.

They fell into a heavy silence. Spock did not seem particularly happy, but neither was he upset. The last hour had been taxing, and even Amanda felt a little strung out—and she was the one in the train car that regularly chose to feel emotions fully.

She was not ready to say goodbye to her grandmother. She wasn’t she wasn’t she wasn’t. At the same time, she would feel relief. Every smile, every laugh, every tug of Lady Amanda’s headscarf was painful. Amanda would hug their Ko’mekh’il goodbye. Their grandmother would not understand what it meant, and Amanda would bite her tongue until it bled if she needed to. She would not change the past.

Amanda shut her eyes for the remaining ten point two-seven minutes of their train ride, shoring up her control. Her Vulcan mind-blocks were disused and nothing compared to her father’s, but they would serve to get her through this abrupt end.

When they left the train station, Spock and Amanda led the way, while Selik hid behind them, scarf attempting to cover his wounds. As soon as they were away from prying eyes, Selik removed the scarf. He had re-opened the split on his cheek, but otherwise the swelling seemed to have stopped getting worse.

Spock glanced at them once before placing his hand to the scanner beside the door.

When they entered the hallway, there was no response at first. Occasionally the Lady Amanda would greet them at the door, but not always. Selik was taking a step toward the guest quarters when a voice caused them all to halt.

“Sarek! Let them try to explain!” The Lady Amanda’s voice was firm.

Their grandfather stepped from the sitting room into the front hallway, his Ambassadorial robes flowing. To an unbiased audience, he was a perfectly controlled Vulcan, posture straight, arms held neutrally.

Selik stiffened at her side. Amanda forced her fingers behind her back, slipping herself into the Vulcan role. To finish out their triangle of uncomfortable, Spock stepped forward, inclining his head.

Sa’mekh.”

Sarek’s gaze took in the three of them, eyes flicking from his son to the obviously busted up face of Selik Kirk.

Their grandfather’s eyes narrowed.

“Spock, leave.”

Sa’mekh, James’ present condition is partially due to my own actions,” Spock said quickly.

“Go to your room, Spock. I will speak with you later,” Sarek’s voice garnered no arguments.

Amanda could not begin to understand what was happening. Sarek wasn’t even supposed to be home. They should’ve run. Selik was right.

Amanda Grayson followed her husband into the hallway just as her son silently removed himself, heading toward his room with his eyes trained on the ground. She watched Spock leave before her gaze found—.

“James, what happened?” she asked, hand coming up to her mouth.

“His name is not James,” Sarek said, voice cool. “That is well established. Further, James Tiberius Kirk is human.” Sarek’s head tilted ever so slightly. “This boy is bleeding copper-based blood.”

Amanda stepped forward, attempting to draw their attention. She met her grandfather’s gaze. “How do you know his name isn’t James?”

And then of course, because when it rains on the Kirks, it fucking pours, another figure appeared in the hallway. Her blonde hair was pulled into a high ponytail, hazel eyes wide and worried.

Winona Kirk took in the twins, confused. “James Kirk is my son, and you are not him.”