Summary: When Spock needs a friend, T'Pol is there.
Notes: Written for Selena
"You can't do it."
As T'Pol approached a group of boys, she thought they were engaging in some friendly competition at first. She was disabused of that notion when she heard one of them say, "You're not a proper Vulcan. Only a proper Vulcan can do it."
She quickened her steps and when she grew closer it became obvious that the group were clustered around one boy in the center. But it wasn't any boy: it was Spock.
Having known Sarek for a long time it was inevitable that she'd met Amanda when she came to live on Vulcan. The two of them struck up a friendship and when Spock was born Amanda had been keen to show him off. T'Pol had been glad his features were different from the baby she'd never forgotten. Although she'd continued to see him over the years, she was unfamiliar with children, therefore they hadn't interacted much beyond the pleasantries.
Amanda had spoken of Spock's bullying by the other boys and her frustration that there was nothing she could do except wait until they'd grown out of it. Or perhaps when Spock gained the confidence not to mind that he was half-human. With some reluctance, Sarek had spoken to the boys' parents, but the effects hadn't lasted. Seeing how upset it made Amanda, T'Pol had offered to speak with them herself, but Amanda had refused, not wanting to make a big deal out of it. Which had come as a relief to T'Pol. If Sarek hadn't been able to find the logic to deal with it, how would she?
And now she was faced directly with it.
The situation reminded T'Pol of something her mother had said about her relationship with Trip: "Imagine the shame your children would endure." At the time she hadn't cared, but now she saw her mother was right. Had things been different it could have been her daughter being teased. That, and her friendship with Spock's parents, meant she felt it was her duty to stop this, even if it was only for today.
As she approached the group one of them attempted a nerve pinch on Spock. Spock twisted away, putting an arm up to deflect the hand before it reached the base of his neck. However, another boy tried for Spock's other side, where he was undefended. T'Pol could tell Spock's training in Suus Mahna had been good from the way he hit out. However, the move he used, despite being one taught to children, would be something he'd only ever tried in practice. He reached out too fast without looking first and the soft part of his hand connected with the boy's jawbone.
As the boys closed in, they reminded her of a pack of wild sehlats. She quickened her step and gave a shout, but was too late to prevent the boys pushing Spock over before they ran off, leaving him face-down in the dust.
She should say something to the boys, but she'd never catch them. Besides, there was Spock to worry about. She crouched beside him and saw him tense up. "I will not harm you."
He turned his head to peer at her before pushing himself up, wincing as he did so. While still on his knees he peered over his shoulder to see the last of the boys rounding a corner.
He didn't turn to T'Pol until he was on his feet. Then she could see his face was dusty and his eyes wet. The green that mingled with the dirt on his hands told her he was hurt. His injuries didn't appear to be
severe, but would need cleaning up so they would heal. She lived closer than Spock did, so her decision was easy.
"Come," she said. "My house isn't far and we are unlikely to meet anyone on the journey."
He looked at her, wary, but followed when she began walking.
Once they were at her house she directed him towards the bathroom, but he refused her help. Suspecting that he needed the time to compose himself, she left him to it and made them a drink. She'd always found chamomile tea relaxing and the rituals of it calmed her, so she made two cups now.
It was only once she was on her own that she realized how upset the scene had made her. Whether it was the display of illogic from the boys, that Spock was the son of her friends, or because she was imagining Elizabeth in his place, she wasn't sure. It would be something to consider later. For now she concentrated on the tea and when it was ready she set it on the table and sat before it, waiting for Spock.
He was gone for some time, but upon his return he was clean and serene. Brought up to be obedient, he sat opposite T'Pol and took a sip of his tea. He wrinkled his nose before swallowing. Perhaps it was an acquired taste for a child.
As Spock watched, she fetched some sweetener and added some to his drink. After another sip his expression didn't change. However, she couldn't tell whether it was from an improvement in the taste or if he did better at not reacting to it. Perhaps it was the latter given that he set his cup down afterwards.
They couldn't just sit here and drink tea. It wasn't going to have the same effect on him that it had on her. But perhaps she could help him in a way that his more emotional mother could not.
"There is no shame in being half-human," she began.
Spock gave a small frown.
"If there is, then perhaps you wish your father had married a Vulcan." She knew that Spock and Amanda were close so it would be easy for him to disagree with her logic.
"No," he said quickly, proving her right.
"Then perhaps you wish your mother had married a human?"
This time he was slower to answer but his "No" was no less confident.
"Then everything is as it should be." T'Pol set her cup down, satisfied she had solved the problem.
But as Spock contemplated his tea in silence, she thought that perhaps he needed more reassurance. He was a child, after all. After a moment of contemplation one person came to mind that he would be interested in hearing about.
"I met another half-human, eighty-one years ago."
He met her eyes, curiosity clear on his face.
"He was the captain of a Starfleet vessel. His ship had been thrown back in time one hundred and seventeen years. He was the descendant of a human and a Vulcan on the original crew. Because of his actions the ship avoided that fate, they didn't go back in time and we never saw him or his ship again." She paused to be sure he had understood all of that. It had been easier to stick to the facts because one meeting with Lorian hadn't been enough to tell her what he'd been like.
"Was his ship destroyed by the four ships he was last seen battling with or did he never exist?" T'Pol asked. She'd had a long time to think about it, since she and Captain Archer had discussed it. However, she was still unsure which was the correct answer. There was not a great deal of literature on time travel to help her decide.
Spock peered into the distance as he considered it. "He must have existed," he decided after a while, focusing back on her. "If he didn't you couldn't have met him."
"I am inclined to agree." For exactly that reason.
As she sipped her tea, Spock asked, "Did things like that happen all the time in Starfleet?"
Only in the Expanse, she thought, but then other unexpected things happened often on Enterprise. "It was one of the more unusual events I experienced during my time in Starfleet."
"You were in Starfleet?" Spock's eyes widened. "I thought it was only for humans."
She shook her head. "There were two non-humans on Enterprise." Although Phlox was never a member of Starfleet and neither had she been when Enterprise first left space-dock. But it was an unimportant distinction right now.
He was quick to accept her explanation and ask, "What were the other unusual events you experienced?"
She shook her head. "It's late, you should be going home." She didn't want Amanda to worry about where he was. Although T'Pol had noticed she did that anyway, whether there was a reason to or not.
He sighed but nodded.
As he stood, she rested a hand on his shoulder. "I will tell another story another time."
She admired his tenacity. Although at that rate she'd be out of stories before the end of the year. "You should ask your parents when you can visit next."
After T'Pol watched him go she messaged Amanda to tell her, probably futilely, that she wouldn't have to worry about Spock's experiences with the other boys today.
After regular visits to T'Pol's house, Spock had lost some of his inhibitions when it came to showing his human side. Today he stomped inside and declared, "I hate Michael."
T'Pol was a little nonplussed at seeing this side of Spock. There was always a part of him that was more emotional than the average Vulcan, but he had good reason to be, so she never called attention to it. This was a lot less Vulcan than she was used to and it took her a moment of thought to decide what to do about it. "Why is that?" she asked, hoping to draw him out a little.
"Because I don't like her." He sounded moody.
It wasn't an answer that suggested any obvious follow-up questions. So in order to keep the atmosphere calm, she went about the ritual of preparing tea.
After being left alone by the door, Spock recovered from his initial dramatics and came over to stand beside her. "Can I live here? I won't be any trouble."
His expression was innocent, she thought, as he gazed up at her. It was true that he had spent the night on occasion when his parents were away and he needed to stay on Vulcan for his studies. However, that was always after Amanda or Sarek had asked in advance. And never because Spock was attempting to run away from home.
Of course the answer to that was no, but she had to think about how to state that in a manner that wouldn't lead to him stomping back out again. That could lead to him running off someplace else, meaning he might not be found for several hours.
"Have you asked your parents?" she said in the end.
He shrugged. "Mother won't notice."
So he was jealous of Amanda's relationship with Michael. A familiar human reaction. And one not uncommon in Vulcan children his age. She could understand why he didn't feel like he could ask his father to show him the logic in the situation. Wanting him to confirm her conclusion, she asked, "Why is that?"
"She's always with Michael." Spock followed her to the table and threw himself into his customary seat. "No one has time for me anymore." At her raised eyebrow, he added, "Except you."
Only because Michael had been too bashful to speak to her. T'Pol suspected the girl saw her as just another Vulcan, as Spock had before she'd encountered him being bullied. T'Pol was only just getting used to speaking with Spock and she hadn't known where to start with Michael, so she hadn't yet.
As she sipped her tea T'Pol pondered how best to help Spock this time. "Close your eyes," she said, when she put her cup down.
Spock frowned at her, but she waited, unmoving, and eventually he did as she asked.
"Imagine you and your parents are traveling to Andoria. As you land there's a shuttle accident. You survive uninjured, but your parents are killed. Not knowing you have family on Vulcan and Earth, an Andorian family take you in. How do you feel?"
He shook his head. "I am Vulcan."
She decided not to point out that so far today he had not shown that. "You are also half-human. How do you feel?"
"Lonely." He sighed.
"Would it help if the Andorians cared for you, showed you kindness and made you part of the family?"
Spock opened his eyes. "It's not the same."
T'Pol adopted an air of confusion. "Explain."
He shrugged, which she took to mean he was aware of his lack of logic.
She thought back to his earlier sigh and whether it could have more than one meaning. "Perhaps it would be less lonely not to feel like the only non-Vulcan on Vulcan."
He picked at a loose thread on the chair. "Father said he wants to prove humans can be just as good as Vulcans."
That news didn't surprise her. For all his love of humans, sometimes T'Pol thought Sarek didn't understand them at all. Although that was still more than can be said of most Vulcans, who hadn't come far since the first contact with humans. "It is logical to conclude he likes humans."
Spock shrugged. "He likes humans better than Vulcans."
Given Sarek's marriage to a human and adoption of a human, coupled with Spock's current state of mind, she could see why he would draw that conclusion. She left her seat and came around the table to sit beside Spock. Even if only to prevent him unpicking all of the fabric on the chair. "Vulcans don't experience jealousy."
"Then I don't know how to be a good Vulcan. Maybe that's why Father wanted Michael." He turned away from her, folding his arms.
This was proving to be harder than she expected. Her own brush with jealousy had been Trellium D fueled and easily resolved. This was a completely different situation. However, it occurred to her that she could communicate his feelings to all affected parties, and a solution presented itself.
"If you spent some time with Michael perhaps she will spend less time with your mother. I believe if you are friendly with her, your parents will be pleased with your efforts."
He side-eyed her from beneath heavy brows.
She could be sure that would be true because she would call Amanda and Sarek after Spock had left and tell them what she'd said. "Try," she added. "In an experiment you cannot be sure of the answer until you test a hypothesis."
At that he shifted round on the seat to face her once more, a thoughtful expression on his face. "If it doesn't work, can I come and live with you?"
She was amused at his tenaciousness, if a little nonplussed over by his change in moods. It reminded her of the humans she'd served with on Enterprise. The nostalgia he invoked told her she was overdue for a trip off Vulcan. "We will discuss that another time."
Fortunately he was satisfied with that, for she had run out of arguments. But if he didn't become reconciled to Michael's position in the family, then she had time to think of ways to dissuade him if he asked again.
The knock at the door was soft and hardly heard. When T'Pol opened the door she found Spock standing in front of it, hands behind him and staring at the ground.
Although his visits were irregular, she'd still come to expect them after a few weeks had passed. Since Michael had run away three months ago he hadn't visited at all. When T'Pol inquired of his health, Amanda had confided her worries. Amanda wasn't sure what was wrong, only that he less trusting and more closed off than he used to be, and nothing she tried had helped. She had been hoping T'Pol could help if Spock was willing to visit her.
"My mother sent you this." Spock held out a note, written on paper.
It seemed that Amanda had found a way of attempting to get him to open up. Communicating on paper was unusual enough that T'Pol raised an eyebrow at it.
Her silence meant Spock looked up. "She said the contents were sensitive," he explained, "and I should wait for your reply."
T'Pol opened the note up and found that her suspicions were correct.
Please try to get Spock to talk to you.
She kept her eyes on it longer than the sentence took to read, before re-folding it and turning her attention to Spock. "Come in. This will take some time to answer."
He followed her inside, but stopped close to the door, his posture straight.
Despite that being unusual for Spock, and therefore a cause for concern, she kept her expression neutral. "I was about to make some tea. Would you like a cup?"
"I am not thirsty."
Tea was not something you drank purely because you were thirsty. And in Spock's case he generally only had a sip or two. Nonetheless, she had soon found that he asked for a cup if she was making one for himself. Perhaps wanting to be grown up or wanting to like it. He'd only shrugged when she'd asked.
But there were more important matters to discuss today, so she took him at his word and only made a cup for herself. Meanwhile she set the computer to execute a series of searches that she knew would take several minutes, making sure to keep herself between Spock and the screen so he couldn't see what she was doing.
When she was done she turned to face him. "I believe last time you visited I promised you a story about an impossible ship and its impossible pilot." Perhaps if she acted like this was any other visit, he would too.
His eyes widened and he took a small step forward.
"We have some time while we wait." She brought her tea over to her customary seat. Spock hesitated, but after a minute he took his seat opposite her. "We found a small craft, perhaps an escape pod. It was a long way from Earth, despite having no obvious means of propulsion. Furthermore, the craft was not of a design that humans or Vulcans had seen before. However, the occupant was human and it was further out than any human had ever gone."
"That is impossible." He moved forwards onto the edge of his seat.
"Clearly. More impossibly, he had Vulcan, Terrelian and Rigellian DNA from ancestors further back than the first meeting between humans and Vulcans." She paused to let him puzzle over this and consider solutions, while she sipped at her tea.
He gazed into space for a few moments before he spoke. "Did some Vulcans visit Earth before human's first contact with them?"
She gave a small nod, admiring his logic. "They did, but that is a story for another time. However, it doesn't explain the Terrelian and Rigellian DNA. Have you ever heard of a child that is part Terrelian, part Rigellian and part Vulcan?"
"No," he said slowly. "But I haven't heard of a lot of things."
She inclined her head. "I haven't heard of Terrelians mating outside their species. But it's unlikely that all three species visited Earth before 2063 when most don't go out of their way to visit pre-warp societies."
Spock frowned as he turned his attention to the view from the window.
Hoping it meant he was still thinking about it, she carried on. "If I hadn't seen the proof with my own eyes I wouldn't have believed it. But the truth was that the vessel and the pilot were from the far future. That means his make-up is more likely, is it not?"
He nodded. "Is time travel real?" He glanced over at her. He didn't sound skeptical, but neither did he appear enthused by the prospect.
"Yes. I myself have traveled in time. But that is also a story for another visit. Perhaps," she went on, putting her now-empty cup down, "you could tell me a story."
He shook his head. "I don't have any stories," he said firmly.
"I believe you do. From the night Michael ran away," she said softly.
He reddened. "A red angel visited me and told me where she was. That's it." He recited it a little woodenly and turned on his seat to face the window.
Clearly Spock was not going to make this easy. "It spoke to you?"
Which was interesting, but the red angel's method of communication was not in itself the important question. "It scared you," she guessed.
He nodded. "I saw…"
She stood and came around the table to crouch in front of him. But he was gazing into the distance and didn't see her. "Spock." She waited until she had his attention. "You are not alone."
"But I am," he protested. "I don't know any other half-Vulcans."
"Nor do I. Neither do I know any Vulcans who are exactly like me in every way, but I am not alone."
He puzzled over that for a moment. "You are saying that we are all unique, whether Vulcan or human."
She nodded. "Your logic is good."
Finally, he met her eyes. "I want to be a Vulcan."
"That is up to you. You can be anything you want to be." She was keen to see what that would be. Spock was intelligent and eager to learn, which would afford him many opportunities in his future.
"That's what my mother says."
She gave a small smile. "Your mother is a wise woman."
The computer beeped, indicating the searches had finished. She wished she'd added more searches: she hadn't made as much progress as she'd hoped. But he had talked about himself, which was a start. She rose to make a pretense of studying the results, then wrote a line on the bottom of the note, before re-folding it and handing it to Spock.
"Will you continue your visits?" she asked, turning to see him standing nearby, waiting for her. "I have few people to drink tea with. Fewer still interested in hearing my stories." Amanda was the only person who ever drank chamomile tea and that wasn't often. When they talked it was of Amanda's family or of Earth.
He blinked. "I will," he promised, sounding more confident as he said it.
Time and love will heal him.
It was the last time they would sit together and drink tea for some years. That was the reason for Spock's visit: he was going to Earth to join Starfleet and he had come to say farewell.
Once they were seated with their tea she said, "I believe you are ready for the challenges of Starfleet."
A small, fleeting smile proved she was correct. Spock had spent his life trying, and not always succeeding, at being Vulcan. Now it was time to learn how to deal with his human side, other than by suppressing it. And perhaps being among so many different species would help him feel less alone. She suspected that Michael leaving for Starfleet last year may have increased his loneliness. But he hadn't mentioned her since she'd run away, so T'Pol hadn't either, still unsure he'd gotten over his initial jealousy.
"I am looking forward to it," he admitted.
After placing her cup back on the table, she asked, "What made you want to join Starfleet, rather than the Vulcan Science Academy, as your father did?"
He winced, but hid it behind his cup.
She knew there had been a rift between father and son, due to his choice, but T'Pol declined to interfere, despite Amanda asking for her help. T'Pol's friendship with each of them was independent of the other. It wasn't her place to intervene between the two of them.
"I enjoyed your stories." Spock glanced into the distance for a moment. "It sounds like a fascinating place."
"My time in Starfleet ended eighty years ago," she cautioned. "Much has changed since then."
"Much has not," he countered. "Starfleet still has a mission of science and exploration. It is merely the technology and the boundaries that have changed."
"That is true." As she drank her tea, she realised how much she would miss him, and the logical discussions that had become a bigger part of their time together as Spock grew older.
"I am curious as to why you chose to sponsor my application," he asked.
He had been talking about joining Starfleet for some time. So when he'd told her he'd submitted his application, but not to tell his parents in case he didn't get in, T'Pol had taken steps to ensure he did. Sponsorship from a current or former member of Starfleet would always mean an application stood out from the rest.
Rather than answer straight away, she stood, and went over to the small table in the corner. From it she retrieved a necklace and set it on the table in front of Spock, seating herself beside him.
"The IDIC," he said.
She nodded. "Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. A trait Starfleet embodies, although it doesn't use those words. I believe that diversity will help you understand yourself."
He stared at the IDIC, looking unsure.
"And," she added, "you will find the adventure you have been seeking. Perhaps more than you ever wanted." Of that she was sure.
He relaxed a little at that and nodded.
"It is customary to give a gift at this time. This was my mother's." She nodded at the IDIC. "Now I wish it to be yours."
His eyes grew wide. "I cannot take it. It is a family heirloom and I am not family."
"You are not," she agreed. "But it is not." She didn't know where T'Les had found it and never had the opportunity to ask. "And I have no living children to pass it onto." Besides, it had sat in a drawer for decades while she'd been unsure what to do with it. She'd removed the map to the Syrrannite base, since it was no longer of any use. It was now merely an ordinary IDIC on a chain, but it was a symbol that may be of some help to Spock.
She sat in silence while he considered. After a few minutes she was rewarded when he picked the IDIC up with a gentle touch.
"I will take good care of it," he said.
She knew he would.
Spock stepped inside the dimly lit house, his footsteps echoing. Nothing had changed since his last visit; nothing was out of place. Yet it felt empty. Without thinking about it he began tiptoeing, not wanting to make too much noise.
Captain Pike had been promoted and the Enterprise was to get a new captain. Since there was some time yet before they launched, Spock had taken some leave. He had initially been unsure where to spend it: home wouldn't the same without Michael there and his father being around always made things awkward. His decision had been made when he received news of T'Pol's death.
He'd been back to Vulcan on leave only once since joining Starfleet. He'd stayed with T'Pol then, who had welcomed him. And expected him to prepare the morning meal now he was an adult. It had made for a much more pleasant stay than with his parents.
Now this house was his. T'Pol had left everything to him. He had under-estimated the depth of her affection for him.
As he moved through to the kitchen area his eyes adjusted to the dark. The sun was setting and the shaft of light piercing through the windows illuminated the other end of the house.
Much of his time with T'Pol had involved tea. What was already a ritual for her had become one for him while he was here. When he was a child he had watched her prepare it. As an adult he had quickly become adept at the steps himself, learning to make it to T'Pol's satisfaction.
He stood at the counter now, lost in his memory for a few moments, before something intruded. It was something out of place: a photograph of a baby that had been left on the counter.
He picked it up, the glossy paper cold between his fingers. Bringing it closer revealed no more information, but given the rarity of physical photos it must be important. He had an unaccountable feeling that he was meant to see it, but put it down to the amount of time he had spent around humans.
Curiosity led him to turn it over and he was rewarded with more information. Written in English on the back was a name and a date. The name, Elizabeth Tucker, was a human name, yet the child's ears were visible. She was Vulcan.
Spock remembered T'Pol's words when he'd left for Starfleet. She'd said she had no living children. If she'd never had any children she would have said that she had none. Therefore he strongly suspected this child was hers.
When he'd joined Starfleet, he'd searched the records for the NX-01. From them he learned that all the stories T'Pol had told him were true. And also that Tucker was the name of the chief engineer.
He'd also come across rumors of a half-human baby who had been born and died around the time of the forming of the Coalition of Planets. That was in 2155, the same year as was written on the back of the photo. It could not be a coincidence. The half-human baby existed and she had been T'Pol's daughter.
Now he thought he understood some of the logic of T'Pol leaving him everything,
She had been a friend to him during a time when he had struggled with his heritage. He hadn't felt able to speak to his parents for fear of upsetting his mother and disappointing his father. She had offered a different view without judgment. He hadn't told her how much her presence had meant to him.
And he had offered nothing in return, aside from company and an audience for her tales.
Yet she had never told him anything that wasn't public record. And he had never asked. Not even when he'd been old enough to have had adventures of his own. He'd known her thirty years, yet didn't know her at all.
Perhaps if her Starfleet friends were still alive he could ask them. Or her friends on Vulcan, if he knew who they were. Except he did know two, and one of them he knew would want to talk of T'Pol: she'd been upset when she'd told him the news of T'Pol's death. He would go home and speak with his mother. Perhaps in doing so it would bring T'Pol back to life in their memories.
Spock was silent for a moment when T'Pol opened the door. He had always thought of her as old, but seeing her now, as she had been not long after he met her, told him that she hadn't always been that old. He couldn't stand there forever, so he said, "It is Spock. I have traveled back in time to save my life. And that of my mother."
With his family he had to pretend to be his cousin, not least because he remembered meeting his cousin at this time. And the Guardian of Forever had cautioned him to only change the one thing he was here for. But with T'Pol he could tell the truth. She was familiar with time travel and would be more likely to accept that he was the same person as the seven-year-old she currently knew.
She studied him closely, nodded, then stepped aside to allow him to enter.
"Tea?" he asked heading to the kitchen. Although he knew her curious expression was because he was changing their ritual, he said, "I have grown to acquire a taste for it." Something he'd been keen to do as a child, thinking that if he emulated T'Pol in something then some of her Vulcan-ness would rub off on him. It was child's logic, but it had worked, to some extent.
He focused his attention on the tea making while she watched. It was hard to know what to say. He wanted to tell her he was the first officer and science officer on the Enterprise, as she had been, but he wanted his decision to join Starfleet to be his own and her decision to sponsor him to be her own.
"I came to thank you," he said, as he took their cups over to the table and sat in his customary position. "For all you have done for me. And all you will do."
She nodded her acknowledgment and sipped at her tea. "I believe it has been beneficial for both of us."
"I also came for a story," he added. He had enjoyed her stories when he was a child. She told tales so unlikely they couldn't be true. Except they were. There was something about ships called Enterprise that invited them, he'd found. And they hadn't only been stories: she'd always invited him to test his reasoning.
"Not an adventure," he continued, "but a personal one. If you're willing to tell it." Of a subject no one he spoke to knew much about, but it was one she had wanted him to know, given the photograph. "I would like to know about Elizabeth Tucker."
She stiffened and studied her tea.
She was hiding her face, he realized. As a child he'd found her to be unemotional, just as any Vulcan was. But he was seeing her anew and she was more emotional than he remembered. It gave him pause for thought, but one he would examine later.
Right now, he worried that he had offended her with his question, so he added, "I have reason to believe you would like me to know about her. I cannot tell you how I know this." He hoped he hadn't already changed things so T'Pol would only leave the photo for him to see because of this conversation. Unless she had always left it because of this conversation. Time travel didn't grow less confusing with age or experience.
After a moment she spoke. "Perhaps it is time I told someone." She sipped at her tea and while she spoke of her long-dead daughter, his tea grew cold.