Whenever Amanda can't find Spock, she knows he is staring at the picture in the hallway. It's odd; even as a baby, he had never been attracted to loud, brightly colored objects. Yet, the photograph had mesmerized him ever since she had hung it in the hallway two weeks ago.
“Spock, why do you like this photograph?” she asks on his third consecutive morning of staring.
“Who are these people, Mother?” he asks. She notes the deflection. It's something Spock does to avoid lying when he doesn't want to answer a question.
“They are your great- great- great- great... well, I don't know how many greats. But they are your ancestors, many years distant. This photo was taking in the twenty-first century, shortly after same-sex marriage became legal in Washington State.”
“Ah,” Spock says and resumes staring.
The photograph had been buried in the family archive for centuries until she had found it earlier this summer. There were two women, one pale, the other dark. Each wore a sleeveless white dress; one carried a multi-colored bouquet while the other's was made of pink flowers. She had hung it up immediately when she returned home; she needed something bright and vibrant among the muted tones of her Vulcan house. Yet, for all its loud colors, there was a certain Vulcan harmony to its contrasting colors and neatly symmetrical background. “IDIC,” she would tell Sarek when he returned from his latest diplomatic mission and protested that it did not match their décor.
“Mother, why was same-sex marriage illegal?”
Amanda shrugs her shoulders, not that Spock can see that when he's staring so intently at the picture.
“That's a hard question,” she says. “People were prejudiced, I suppose.”
“Ah,” Spock says again.
“Aren't you going to ask why people were prejudiced?”
Spock has been pointing out illogical behavior, human and otherwise, almost since he first began to speak.
“No. People are often prejudiced against those who are different from them,” he says so matter-of-factly that it breaks her heart. He turns toward her and his eyes widen when he sees the expression on her face. “Please do not cry, Mother. The existence of this photograph demonstrates that with sufficient exposure, people will overcome their prejudices.”
He pauses for the small, deep breath he always takes before he asks for something that's important to him.
“Mother, I believe that Father will object to this photograph. The colors are too bright, and they do not match the remainder of our furnishings. Therefore, I propose that we hang it in my bedroom so that it will not disturb him.”
“Of course, Spock. How could I have overlooked such a logical compromise?”
“I do not know, Mother,” he says, touching two of his fingers to hers. She pretends not to notice how self-satisfied he looks.
When he leaves for the Academy ten years later, the photograph is one of the few things he takes from his room.
Nyota has spent a lot of time imagining what Spock's quarters are like. An embarrassing amount of time, as a matter of fact. Yet, she had never suspected that amid the muted earth tones and abstract art, she would find a photograph of two human women clasping brightly colored bouquets in front of their wedding dresses.
“What's this?” she asks, feeling a little reckless. She knew that Spock wouldn't invite a woman to his quarters lightly. The last thing she wanted was to make him uncomfortable, so she had been determined to observe quietly. But Spock appears unperturbed her interest in the photograph; she can't even detect one of the tiny shifts in his emotion that she's become so adept at observing.
“They are my ancestors, many years distant. The photograph was taken shortly after same-sex marriages were legalized in Washington state.”
Nyota nods, although the answer hardly explains why he had the photo. It hardly matched the aesthetics of the room, and family history doesn't seem terribly important to him. A holo of his mother is on the corner of his desk, but there are no other traces of his family in the room.
“It's colorful,” she says. “I like it.”
“I do not,” Spock replies. “I find the colors abrasive if I look at it for an extended period of time.”
“But it's hanging over your desk, where you see it every day,” she blurts, and immediately regrets it. She knew that Spock liked her in part because she didn't hold him to the strict standards of logic that other Vulcans – and even some humans – did.
“Your interest is not offensive,” Spock says, and Nyota realizes that she's not the only one adept at detecting small shifts in emotion. “The content of the photograph is important to me,” he says softly. “I discovered it when I was a child, and I found comfort in the recognition that prejudice frequently occurs in the face of social change. However, the legalization of same-sex marriage demonstrated that such prejudice can be overcome. Prejudice followed by acceptance is therefore a natural social cycle.”
“That's a remarkably tolerant way of looking at it,” she says. She hadn't considered the prejudices Spock might have faced as the only human-Vulcan child in the galaxy, or as the only Vulcan in Starfleet. The misconceptions must be staggering.
“Perhaps,” Spock says mildly, which Nyota takes as a sign that they've reached the limits of what he's willing to share. Her attention drifts toward a holo on the desk beneath the photograph of the two women. It's Spock and Gaila, standing together at an engineering awards ceremony. A gold medal is draped around Gaila's neck, and she's turned ever so slightly to emphasize the curve of her hips and breasts. Spock is standing next to her, rigidly upright and unsmiling.
“The photograph is also a reminder that I may find I have something in common with people who initially appear very different from me.”
Nyota thinks he's talking about the holo of him with Gaila – it is one of the oddest friendships she's ever encountered – but she realizes with a start that he's looking at her.
“I would like to kiss you,” he says, then looks startled. “I apologize for my frankness.”
She leans forward to brush her lips against his. Her hands dangle awkwardly at her sides; she doesn't know if it's okay to touch him. She feels him reach for her, but he stops himself just before his hands reach her body. Very carefully, she curls her fingers around his wrists and guides his hands to her hips. It's difficult and awkward, yet somehow beautiful too.