Sunrise on Vulcan and S'chn T'gai Spock opened his eyes, the dawn’s first rays filtering in through his curtains. He did not immediately rise as he usually did, but rather, lingered, eyes closing heavily in a state of semi-sleep. He could hear the motions of T’Pring in the kitchen, her shoe heels clicking on the stone floor, could detect the sound of the automatic tea-brewer starting. He heard the soft murmur of her voice, on the comm, as usual, even at this early hour. She seemed to be forever engaged in conversation with someone; her parents, her siblings, her clients, her companions – anyone but him and anyone but S’Bren. He detected a soft rhythmic tingling as his wife moved about the house, preparing herself for another day’s work.
Spock let another six minutes slip by after he pulled the covers up to his neck to ward against the cool air. He mentally steeled himself for another day of mind-dulling routine. He permitted himself a heavy sigh in the privacy of his own bedroom.
His son would be calling for him soon – best to get up and see to his needs now. He rose finally and stretched, slipping into his lounging robe. Clearing his throat and blinking his eyes, he rose and shuffled into the common area, where T’Pring stood at the back patio window, gazing at the sunrise and clutching her teacup in both hands. She did not turn as she spoke.
“I have a client to see to after hours today. Do not expect me home until 2000, perhaps later.” She wore very stylish heels and a new form-fitting tunic underneath a red draped silk sari. She was adorned with bell-like bracelets that shimmered and jingled as she moved her arms.
“Of course,” he said. He had given up arguing with her years ago. She came and went at will. She did as she would. She had gracious and kind words for others. She dressed nicely for others but never for him. He wondered at who her client was.
She answered as though she had heard the unspoken question. “S'Triton’s father has passed, leaving the entirety of his estate to him alone. He has asked me to manage all his accounts. It could be quite lucrative indeed, perhaps one of my largest thus far.”
S’Triton was a handsome man. He was muscular and barrel-chested the way Stonn had been – the type of body T’Pring preferred over his too-thin and reedy frame.
“Congratulations,” said he, the remark sounding only slightly facetious. Spock was not impressed with massive accumulations of wealth. T’Pring did not share the same sentiment.
His dry tone was not missed. At last T’Pring turned and fixed him with a cool and piercing stare before returning her cup to the kitchen, stowing it in the fresher. She plucked her comm from the charger on the sideboard by the front door and slipped it into her clutch. She withdrew without a word. Spock heard the sound of her heels clicking on the front sidewalk fading as she quickly retreated.
Spock passed through the family room and headed toward his son’s room. On the way, he passed T’Pring’s bedchamber, door sealed resolutely shut. He opened the door to S’Bren’s room and went to his bed. As he did every day, he resisted the urge to pick his little son up and crush him in embrace, press his lips to the soft skin of his forehead and cheeks. Now he understood why his mother had so often given in to the impulse when he was S’Bren’s age.
“Time to rise, child.” S’Bren’s eyelids fluttered but he did not stir.
“You are faking,” Spock said with a little amusement.
At that, S’Bren’s eyes popped open. “I was acting.”
“I see,” he said.
“Grammie told me that I was going to make a fine actor one day.” He sat up, one side of his hair matted and clumped endearingly.
Spock could resist no more. He reached out to smooth his boy’s sleep-tussled hair down. S’Bren’s hair was as soft as down, as fine as it was the day he born. His hair was long, the back length even with the point of his chin. Any shorter and his lightweight hair fluffed and stood in clumps of whorls. T’Pring had blamed Spock’s human genes for this and had given up. All child hair care duties were left to Spock. In fact, almost all child care duties were left to Spock.
“What would you like for breakfast?”
“Kreila with khlup, please.”
“And for fruit?”
“No, thank you.”
“You must eat your fruit. How about a papaya from Grammie’s garden?”
S’Bren eagerly nodded.
Spock stood. “Bathe. And wash your hair.” He went to the closet and pulled out a fresh uniform and dropped it on the bed as S’Bren clambered out. “I will make our breakfast.”
The day had started.
S’Bren held on to his father’s hand as they walked to school. As he often did when he was not occupied with speaking or with studying, he sang softly to himself, absently and with sporadic phrasing – Spock caught little snatches of various songs, some that he recognized and some that he didn’t.
S’Bren interrupted himself to ask his father, “How many days until my birthday today?”
“Eighty nine.” Spock left off the fraction.
“Grammie says she wants to buy me a gift and that I should think about what I might want.”
“And have you?”
“Sa-mekh-al and Grammie took me to the artisan village to watch the man make lyres. Do you think I may have a lyre?”
“I am not certain that a lyre for such a small one as you would be readily available. It may need to be custom-made and that is not to be taken lightly as it will cost a great deal. You need to commit to learning the instrument.”
“I am committed, Sa-mekh.” S’Bren squeezed his hand. Spock actually felt the slightest psionic wave of promise pass through S’Bren’s delicate fingertips to him. Spock squeezed back.
“I will speak to Grammie,” he said.
S’Bren let go of his hand and silently leapt into the air.
Spock turned his head as he smiled at his son’s joy.
They walked on. Soon S’Bren resumed his meandering singing. The school came into view on the distant horizon.
Spock and S’Bren arrived at exactly the required time at the Shi'oren T'Klass. As he usually was, Master Kalelothran stood in front of the semi-circle stone gate which led into the confines of the school, underneath the shade of the large Ic’tan tree.
The esteemed Master was a fixture at the school, having instructed both Spock and Sarek in their daily lessons when they were S’Bren’s age. The ancient elder was so wizened with age now that he stooped low over bent knees, but his eyes were as bright and alert as ever.
Children of various ages silently glided past them as Spock and the Master made eye contact above their heads. It was easy to do even from a distance as there were no other adults present.
At this age, children walked by themselves or with their classmates to class. Parental escort was for babies. Yet Spock continued to walk his child to school well into his fifth year of life.
“Ha'tha ti'lu,” the Master said in greeting.
“Ha'tha ti'lu,” answered Spock.
“S'chn T'gai S’Bren,” the Master acknowledged his son.
“T’Kehr,” he responded. S’Bren had settled himself when they came into view of his school. He now kept his eyes cast respectfully down.
Spock walked his son up to the front door, mindful of the gazes of the other boys upon his son, especially the bigger boys. S’Bren was still blissfully unaware of the attention he automatically drew as the son of a half-breed, much to Spock’s relief. But one day…
At the door, Spock employed a phrase that his mother had used with him. “Have a good day, my son.”
“Bye, Sa-mekh.” Spock watched his son wander off toward his home class and soon Spock lost sight of him in the crowd of taller youngsters.
He turned to go, winding his way back through the path to the gate. Master stopped him as Spock acknowledged him with a respectful bow on the way out. “S’chn T’gai.”
“Your son is falling behind in math. I would not expect that, given who is father and grandfather are.”
“My son has his own unique gifts, Master. His strengths lie elsewhere.”
“Indeed. However, he must apply himself to these keystone skills; otherwise he will fall further and further behind. I sense he has the native ability to master the concepts. He seems to be disengaged, however.”
“My son’s passions are the arts, sir.”
“One so young should not be allowed to manifest his individual desires. You spoil the child.”
Spock felt a pang of frustration. Spoil? To allow the child to have some personal satisfaction is to spoil him? He swallowed his resentment and dutifully bowed his head, eyes cast down. “As you say, Master. I will tutor him myself to make sure he is at parity with his age group.”
The Master stared back at him, gaze penetrating. Spock felt like he was six years old again. He turned and trudged toward the shuttle station that would take him to work. He kept his head low.