It would be dawn soon.
Spock knelt in the garden as he had for most of the night, immobile as a statue. The pitch black sky of night was giving way to a bright amber glow on the Eastern horizon, chasing away the dimmer stars. The jeweled lights of ShiKahr began to wink off one by one.
Somewhere in the near distance, a le-matya howled. Spock was grateful for the force screens that protected the perimeter.
He wanted nothing to interfere with this one last, sad duty he had to perform.
Spock sighed. The news of Sareks death, while not unexpected, troubled him. The last time he had seen his father, the former ambassador was waging a losing battle against Bendiis Syndrome. Spock had been disturbed by his fathers condition. Gone was the robust, powerful, intimidating figure who had once swayed entire galactic governments to his point of view by the sheer force of his oratory. In his place was a frail, wizened old man with an unkempt shock of snow-white hair, lost and small in the coverlets of his sick bed. One moment he would be lucid and rational, speaking, as he always had, in even, measured tones, albeit with less resonance in his baritone voice than in his younger days. The next he would be screaming and raving, sobbing and crying as emotions overwhelmed him. Spock found it very disquieting. Perhaps he unconsciously feared he was seeing a preview of his own fate.
When Spock had taken his leave, Sarek had gripped his forearm with surprisingly strong, bony fingers. Tears rolled down the older mans gaunt face. "I shall not see you again, my son," he quavered. "Goodbye."
Taken aback, Spock had been unable or unwilling, he wasnt sure to respond in kind. Sarek seemed as clear-headed as he ever had. The certainty, the sadness in his fathers voice had shaken Spock. Raising his hand in the ta'al, the so-called Vulcan salute, he had simply intoned, "Live long and prosper, Sarek of Vulcan."
Then he had departed.
Sarek had expired while Spock was locked in the battle of his life on Romulus, the Chforrah homeworld. His fathers third wife, the Lady Perrin, had sent him a scathing starmail just before he left on his mission (which Spock had not received until much later), berating him for leaving without saying goodbye to his father.
Spock closed his eyes. He had no way of knowing. He was behind enemy lines at the time, under deep cover, on a mission unsanctioned by the Federation. When Starfleet had learned of his presence on Romulus, they had dispatched Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Enterprise-D to extract him. It was he who had broken the news to Spock as gently as the Human could. Spock was unaware that Picard had mindmelded with Sarek near the end of the elder Vulcans life, to assist him in his negotiations with the Legarans. As a gesture of infinite kindness and courtesy, the Human had offered to meld with Spock so that he could touch Sareks mind, something he had never done while his father lived.
The gesture proved to be both a blessing and a curse, and would change his life forever.
Spock pulled away from the mindmeld with tears streaming down his face, his own soul overwhelmed with grief and regret. What he discovered in that brief contact with his fathers mind devastated him.
All those years, he had longed for a simple touch, a brief ghost of a smileanything to demonstrate that his seemingly cold, unemotional father cared for him at all, the father he admired, respected, even worshiped...and loved.
And all that time, his implacable father yearned to reach beyond the barrier of culturally-imposed Vulcan-ness that kept father and son apart. He desperately longed to tell his son how proud he was of him, that he wished to embrace him, as his mother did that he loved him as much as she did.
But he had not.
And Spock had not.
Instead, they had spent most of their lives trying to stare one another down across the yawning chasm that separated them, trying to see who would blink first.
And, of course, neither one did.
Now it was too late.
Oh, there had been brief glimpses of progress, from time to time. His fathers heart surgery had been one instance, and the period after the Whalesong Crisis, where his father had diligently worked on negotiating the Enterprise command crews return to Earth. But they would butt heads again and again, especially after James T. Kirks death and Spocks sudden resignation from Starfleet and subsequent entry into the Federation Diplomatic Corps. The Klingon skirmishes, the Tholian police action, the Cardassian war, all had led to friction between them.
In the end, only the realization of Sareks impending death had brought the two of them together in an uneasy truce.
Spock winced inwardly. The mindmeld with Picard had left him emotionally shattered. Especially poignant were his impressions of Sareks inconsolable grief upon learning of Spocks death at the Genesis planet, his anguish when he feared his sons katra was lost forever and the indescribable joy he felt when Spock was returned to him alive and whole.
He sensed, too, Sareks regret, and even shame at his inability to express that joy.
The edge of 40 Eridani A's crimson disc slipped over the horizon, flooding the canyon with garish unfiltered light. Spock glanced at his reflection in the small pond at his feet. The strain evident on his face surprised even him. When he had finally arrived here at his parent's villa, his boyhood home, he was not surprised to find that a host of stargrams had preceded him. Most of them were sympathy messages from friends and acquaintances. Two of them stood out. One was a raging tirade from one of his oldest friends, Admiral Leonard H. McCoy (retired), chastising him for missing Sareks funeral, his ancient blue eyes blazing in his seamed, leathery face. The other missive was from the Lady Perrin, as glacial in its coldness as McCoys was volcanic in its heat.
In his heightened emotional state, the two messages stung him. McCoy, of course, never said or did anything without a veritable explosion of emotional fireworks; if anything, he had become even more irascible and volatile in his advanced age. He would eventually calm down, and he and Spock could discuss this matter somewhat more calmly.
Perrin was another matter. He had never really warmed to his stepmother, perhaps unfairly so. He had recently come to the shocked realization that perhaps he resented her because he perceived her as an interloper taking his mothers place.
That he could succumb to such petty emotionalism astounded him. While he no longer denied that he possessed emotions and that they could be valuable, he felt that he had a better rein on then. Perrin, it turned out, had been a great comfort to his father in his later years.
Spock never realized how lonely Sarek had been after Amandas death. He never spoke about it to Spock. Sarek stood here in this very garden all those years ago, in stony silence, scattering his wifes ashes amidst the roses of her favorite, private place.
Then, without a word to anyone, he turned on his heel and left the villa, never to return.
And later, when suffocating loneliness became almost too much for him to bear, and well past the time when such an action would have been deemed improper, Sarek took a wife. Not someone to take Amandas place, but someone to fill the void left by her passing.
Spock realized now that he owed Perrin a great debt of gratitude and an apology. He would mend that fence as soon as he could.
A light breeze off the Sas-a-shar desert plucked at Spocks graying hair. It was almost time. He stood, reached down and reverently picked up the urn from its resting place on a nearby garden bench. His heart was heavy. He felt a tear form in the corner of his eye. There was a time when he would have dreamed such an action to be totally illogical. He had been wrong. Regret, sorrow, loss, all gnawed at him. He had been with his mother Amanda at the moment of her death. Before she passed away, he had told her he loved her, and he had even kissed her.
The beatific smile on her face as she expired was not lost on Spock. As much as he mourned her passing, he was a peace with her death.
But he had achieved no such closure where Sarek was concerned. He wondered how long he would berate himself for not making a last visit to Sarek, or for not saying goodbye to his father that last time he had seen him.
Spock cradled the urn almost lovingly as he walked deeper into the garden. It was somehow strangely peaceful here; as illogical as it seemed, he believed he could still sense his mothers presence here in this place she loved so dearly. Blossoms from Vulcan and Earth opened as the first rays of the sun touched them. The automatic sprinklers had already showered down their first burst of life-giving water. Like the villa itself, the gardens had been meticulously cared for and maintained, just as they had been when the Lady Amanda was alive. Even though he could no longer bear to live here without her, neither could Sarek bring himself to sell the property.
And now the estate had been handed down to Spock.
He took a few more steps and paused. Here. This was the place. It was a small garden at the base of a fountain, encircled by decorative stones. Even had he not known that this was the site where Sarek had spread Amandas ashes, Spock would have sensed it. His mothers presence was very strong here. Today, along with the serene peace he always felt when he came here, he detected an expectant joy that sliced through his own burden of sorrow, and it filled him with a sense of wonder. He always felt that he was sensing an echo or resonance of his late mother. Perhaps he was detecting his mothers own katra in this place.
"Fascinating," he breathed.
He knelt before the fountain, holding the urn. Good, the ground was already moist, and the ashes would adhere. Sareks remains would become one with the soil, as had those of Amanda all those years ago.
His father and mother would, in a sense, be reunited again.
Spock removed the lid from the urn. He gentle and carefully poured its contents onto the sprinkler-dampened patch of earth indicated by the small, unobtrusive stone marker. Excellentalmost precisely the same spot. He stepped back. In a few moments, the sprinkler system would deliver another burst of water, as it would all day at regular intervals until Vulcans red primary dropped below the western horizon. Then his task would be complete, and Sarek would be one with the soil.
As if on cue, the small camouflaged spray heads raised up above ground level and activated. Spock backed away, observing until he was satisfied the water had thoroughly dampened Sareks ashes.
It was finished.
Spock sat down heavily on an ornately carved stone bench. He was emotionally exhausted. Tears began to flow, and he wept unashamedly, for his father, for his brother, for his mother, for himself. His shoulders shook, and he sobbed quietly.
"S-Sarek," he quavered. "I never said goodbye. I could not bring myself to admit th-that I might not...see you again. Logically, I realized...you would soon die." His laugh was brittle and bitter. "Ironic, is it not? I, who prided myself on my ability to balance cold Vulcan logic with Human emotionalism, could not reach past my own fear to give youto give us boththat which we desired most. I beg your forgiveness."
He paused and clenched his eyes shut. "I love you, Father," he murmured in a tremulous whisper. "I regret that I never told you that while you still lived."
40 Eridani A had risen fully now, and its angry scarlet orb dominated the sky, bringing with it its blast furnace heat. Spock rose slowly, wiping his eyes. He would retreat to the cool sanctuary of the villa. After he had composed himself, he would place a BellComm call to the Lady Perrin in ShiKahr to try to mend the rift between them.
As he turned to go, he sensed yet another presence in the little garden. His eyes widened. "Sarek?"
Had it not been for the mindmeld with Picard, he would not have been so sure.
This time, there could be no mistake; brilliant light flooded his mind. It was indeed Sarek. No words were spoken, but the mind touch was suffused with warmth and understandingand love. And then his mother Amanda was there as well, and for a moment, Spock experienced what could only be described as an embrace from both his parents.
And then he was alone in the garden, rooted where he stood. Tears slid down his face once more, but this time he wept for joy.
Had he imagined it? He had always sensed his mothers presence here, but Sarek? He knew that Sareks katra had been transferred from the mind of TLian, his attending physician, into a receptacle into the Hall of Ancient Thought. Could he be here as well? Spock shrugged. Why not? He could not remember much of what transpired after the Genesis incident when his body was in death. He had never completely crossed over or whatever the term was to the other side of existence, since his own katra was ensconced in the unsuspecting mind of Doctor Leonard H. McCoy. But he had a glimpse of what was there, a sense that there would be ultimate freedom and no boundaries there, that all the great questions would be answered, all the great mysteries would be resolved.
Whatever the case, whether he imagined the encounter or not, the sense of peace and well-being that filled Spock was real.
High above him in the thin air of Vulcans amber sky, a trilling, chiming call sounded, and then another. Spock gazed upward, shielding his eyes against the glare of the sun.
Soaring on the thermal currents were two xirahnah, the legendary Vulcan silverbirds. Spock watched, entranced, as sunlight glinted off their chromium feathers.
Suddenly, as if of one mind, the falcon-sized birds wheeled over into a screaming power dive, dropping down through the skies. They landed on the lower branches of a dwarf thlaax tree and perched side by side less than a meter away from Spock.
He didnt dare breath for fear of disturbing the beautiful silver creatures. They appeared to be a mated pair; one the male was slightly larger than the other. They regarded him candidly with warm, brown, intelligent eyes, calm and unafraid. Tentatively, Spock reached out to them. Gently, he stroked the back of one of the birds, and then the other. And then, to his astonishment, each of them nudged his hand with their heads, like contented cats. Then the larger one clicked its beak and made a chirrup sound, and the two of them rocketed back into the sky. They arced higher and higher, wheeling, spinning, dipping, gliding in an aerial ballet.
Finally, when they were little more than silver specks, they leveled off and glided toward the L-Langon Mountain Range.
And then he did something he had done very few times in his life of his own volition, when he wasnt being controlled by alien spores or an invasive alien mind:
He laughed aloud.
He started slowly, but the chuckling built until peal after peal of joyous unrestrained laughter rang in Amandas little garden.
And the sprinkler system chose that moment to kick on yet again, dousing Spock, soaking him to the skin within seconds. He laughed ever harder, slapping his knee and dancing around and around in what could only be considered an awkward Vulcan equivalent of a jig, splashing in the sprinklers refreshing spray. He didnt care about his dignity, or if someone might be watching him, or even if they might think him mad. Or totally illogical.
Finally, the sprinkler system cut off. Spock glanced back into the sky. The xirahnah were almost out of sight. Smiling broadly, he spread his fingers in the ta'al salute.
Then he turned and headed up the path to the house, chuckling at the squishing sounds his sandals made as he walked along, his soaking wet robe dragging after him.
He was at peace.
Free counters provided by Andale.
Return to the index of ORION ARCHIVES --
2294-2400 The Adventures Continue.
Return to the index of ORION ARCHIVES On-Line Fiction.
Click Here to Return to the Orion Press Website