Amanda is almost eight when she first questions her family dynamic; she turns away from the holo to fix her piercing too blue gaze on her three parents, all of them cuddled together on the couch, a mass of limbs and humming contentment.
Nyota, Spock and James share looks of amusement mixed with – even if they didn’t want to admit it- concern. She takes their silence as incomprehension and reiterates. “Over the 45 minutes and 29 standard seconds that we have been viewing this holo, 92% of the families featured have consisted of two parent combinations, the other 8% of single parents. How is it our family has a three parent combination?”
The silence that falls again isn’t because of their lack of understanding Amanda realizes, it’s because each has a distant look on their faces of a mixture sorrow so deep she had to concentrate on not shuddering and a fondness that replaced it that she dismissed the sad looks.
They were reliving bitter sweet memories.
Her mother snaps out of it first and disengages herself from between her fathers to slide to the floor, closer to her. “Well it’s hard to explain… but we love each other deeply and we couldn’t fight it. Nothing could have kept us apart,”
Daddy’s – Jim’s – hand moves down to reassuringly squeeze her mother's shoulder and even though Amanda is not sure she understands what her mother means she can feel the rush of affection from her familial bonds that makes her content with the answer for now.
The curious stares that she receives as she walks through the halls of her Terran school unnerve her inside – outside she is the epitome of Vulcan calm. The stares are mainly focused on her pointed ears and the curious – almost unreal shade of her eyes and her dirty blonde almost brown hair. She had entertained their bewildering questions in the only way she knew how by rattling of scientific explanations that no 12 year old in standard years was supposed to keep up with.
When she returns home after her first Terran school day her parents are in the kitchen preparing dinner. The way the trio moves in harmony anticipating each other’s need and movements beforehand has her stopping in her tracks in order to appreciate the beauty of their silent song, the one they had ingrained into their bones and etched onto their souls so that they could never forget it and never not be three separate beings yet one whole.
Her pleasure must have seeped through her bonds – or it could have been her accelerated heart beat that she made no attempt to regulate – because her dad – Spock – looks up at her, one of his tilted eyebrows raised. Even though he has his usual stoic mask on she can tell he’s happy to see her by this tiny gesture.
She finally lets her presence known to the rest of her family and then there is an exchange of hugs and kisses between the quartet that would have offended her Vulcan sensitivities if it hadn’t been practiced to fluidity and drenched in a strong human emotion that she secretly revels in. She wants to claim that she would rather do without the unnecessary show of affection but she finds herself yearning to be enveloped into warm hugs and for kisses to be pressed onto her forehead or cheeks by the warm, happy yet burdened people in front of her.
It’s July 14th and there is a ‘dark cloud’ as her human aunt would say, over their household, one that almost visibly ages the people she loves with some unseen burden. Dad has been locked in the gym training and meditating.
Her mother spends most of her day standing in front of the window gazing out of the backyard, her eyes seeing but not really seeing. Sometimes she cries silently, wiping away the tears as fast as they come and if she’s not fast enough everyone pretends not to notice.
Daddy is sitting reading a paperback book from the 21st century but Amanda can tell from the way his eyes are sliding over the pages he’s not understanding one thing he reads. Amanda is used to it by now, most likely it’s something traumatic from the days of their Starfleet service.
She has asked but she has never been given a straight answer, probably they’ll decide to tell her one day for now she waits patiently. But she can’t help but notice the date is almost ten months before her birthday and wonders if it has something to do with her.
The assignment of school projects has her uneasy because the possibility that she’ll have to engage in socialization after allotted school hours with someone she most likely can’t tolerate already has her tired. The pairing surprises her of course, she’s not sure why because the probability that she would have been paired with him because of seating arrangements and surnames are high. Carter.
Amanda eyes him carefully, she has insufficient data to come to logical conclusions about his character. They agree to convene at her house tomorrow, Saturday, since it is closer. His impending arrival has a palpable tension in the house since Amanda has never had ‘friends’ over before. Her mother expresses her approval in the language of the day, an Orion dialect common to the southern part of the planet.
Amanda replies in kind even though she wishes to roll her eyes in a decidedly human and teenage way because she was forced into this predicament. Her fathers are in the living room just off the foyer, playing 3D chess and listening to daddy’s old 21st century songs that he loves so much. When the doorbell chimes her mother smiles regally. Her hands straightening her Vulcan robes – which were slightly more elaborate than the one she herself donned. – before going to answer it. Her mother leads Carter into the open layout kitchen and she can tell her fathers are aware of their guest because the music lowers and there is some shuffling before they both appear in the doorway right behind her mother.
“Dad, daddy, this is Carter, my classmate.” Carter’s head snaps to her with a confused look before he turns back to shake hands with them. Amanda wonders if her parents can share thoughts without touching because she can see the same thought and emotion in their eyes, as if they’re afraid they've disappointed her in some way. She doesn’t understand it but there is a twisting in her chest and she wants to hug them and assure them they have never let her down in any way.
The rest of the time flies by and he leaves and Amanda hopes that the questions she knows she’ll have to face Monday will be well within her comfort zone. She walks into the living room where her daddy is sitting on dad’s lap showing him an equation he’s working on and her mom is improving her federation dialects , she can tell that much by the way she shapes her mouth slowly and deliberately; getting a feel for the words.
She lets the human part of her she usually keeps at bay – because humans are irrational, illogical creatures… whose imperfections make them strangely enough; perfect – flow free. “You guys know I love you right?” The words make all the heads in the room snap up to face her because it’s so strange for her to express her emotions like that but from the looks on their faces and the warmth of their hugs she thinks she may just have to express her feelings more often.
She usually spends part of her summer vacation with her grandfather on New Vulcan, an experience she looks forward to in earnest. Her grandfather is always really insightful and patient with her, showing her the old Vulcan traditions and even letting her tag along to diplomatic functions. The shuttle ride down from the star ship to the surface is interesting, she makes it a point to record how many responses, both positive and negative, she earns from her looks.
Her grandfather meets her at the shuttle port and she is swept off to his residence. She is allowed a period of time to get comfortable in her old room before dinner. It’s formal and comforting and they do some idle chit chat; they discuss her parents’ wellbeing and her exceptional grades at her Terran school and he even refrains from making his usual observation that Terran schools are inferior to the schools on New Vulcan.
“There is a diplomatic function this evening, if you would be so inclined to join me your robes have been cleaned and hung up in your room.”
“I will. I'm sure It will be an educational experience,” Amanda says in perfect high Vulcan.
The functions, she knows, are more of an opportunity to gossip than an opportunity for creating intergalactic bonds but she enjoys it all the same.
The Vulcans watch her with a mixture of curiosity and disdain and the non-Vulcans are merely in awe.
She is introduced to scholars from the Vulcan science academy which unnerves her. She fears they’ll see her education is inadequate compared to those who grew up on Vulcan but they are more interested in her biological functions and her social skills among the humans rather than her mental capacities.
“Tell us, being the only one of your kind,” The tallest one in the middle begins
“Do you feel alone?” The one on her left continues “Or out of place among the humans?”
The one on her right finishes Amanda is more than a bit miffed at their blatant goading but stays calm.
“Considering that I am more human than Vulcan it seems a bit illogical to try to separate myself from them when it is clear that I will never be fully accepted by the Vulcans on New Vulcan. Isn’t that right?” And as she says these words, she realises it’s the same on Terra, she will never fully be accepted there.
They don’t dwell on the fact that she didn’t exactly answer their question and she allows herself to inwardly smirk at the creatures of logic and she takes her leave, preferring to walk around the ball room than chat further with them.
She catches one end of a conversation that has her stopping and listening.
“Rather fine Vulcan robes for human scum isn’t it?” A tall Vulcan woman says in perfect High Vulcan. The man next to her shifts uncomfortably
“Do you think she can hear us?” he says instead of agreeing with her.
The woman brushes off his concern “She’s human.” She says as if that explains everything
“She probably can’t understand a word of what we’re saying.”
There is a pause in the conversation before the woman speaks again “She acts just as entitled as that human whore whose name they share. Look at her parading around in the robes of the high house.”
Amanda examines the spread of food on the table, none of which she partakes in because it’s considered rude in Vulcan culture to touch one’s food. She accepts a drink from a passing waiter and turns her unaffected gaze on the couple.
“The act of donning my family’s robes does not equate “parading around”,” Amanda says to the couple who look as taken back as Vulcans are capable.
“My apologizes young mistress,” The woman says and Amanda can tell she is displeased, either because she has to apologize to someone three times younger than her or because she has to apologize to a half – more like two thirds – human.
Amanda narrows her gaze “It is rather illogical to apologize. You are right, I am human so was my grandmother and as I did not know her I have to accept that what you say is indeed correct and she did in fact act entitled... No offense can be taken where no offense was intended.” The woman seethes further and her companion simply casts his gaze elsewhere.
Amanda stalks off, more than ready to leave.