Spock had always found refuge in his art. Michael knew this from the nights she’d sneak into his room when she couldn’t sleep, only to find him awake too, with his fingers moving across the screen, his eyes fixed trance-like on his latest creation. She knew this from the illustrations of the Red Angel she had found in his quarters on the Enterprise , the images he had made tangible in an effort to make them understandable.
But, whatever he had been creating since Discovery had taken him in, he didn’t seem to find peace his art anymore. When he would sequester himself in his temporary quarters to draw, he would do it with a heavy gaze and a look like a man on his way to the gallows.
And Michael wanted to know why.
Which is how she found herself here in Spock’s room. In Spock’s personal space. In Spock’s personal business. Exactly where he had made it quite clear he never wanted her to be again. He sat before her now on his bed, stone-faced, cold at her request to see his art.
She missed her brother.
“You used to love to show me your drawings,” Michael said. The words came out small, tinged by a quiet sadness she didn’t mean to convey. Not to him. She always wanted to be strong for Spock.
But now, Spock was the strong one, resolute where he held his darkened PADD in his lap, fingers clenched around its edges.
“There are many things I ‘used to’ do,” Spock intoned, looking down to the PADD as if its screen were a scrying stone. Michael thought she might have imagined the tone of his own voice. Small. Sad. Like hers.
“You used to confide in me, for one,” she said, and in a moment of decision she settled on the edge of the bed. They could both be resolute. “I used to be the only person you confided in.” A pause. A deep breath. Spock didn't look at her. “Please, show me your drawings, Spock.”
She wouldn't push too hard, not when Spock was still recovering, but she knew these drawings were troubling him. They may have been like those images of the Red Angel -- important to the mission, if not to Spock's heart.
Spock finally met her eyes. “What do you expect to do with them?” He nearly snapped. “Analyze them? Use them to torment me? I do not wish to feel as though I am back in confinement. I --”
Michael laid a hand on his shoulder. “Spock,” she said. And that was all.
He let out a breath, almost a sigh, and looked down once more. “I cannot make sense of them,” he said. “The images. They -- the Red Angel showed them to me. The same face repeated a thousand times in my mind.”
“Who is it?” Michael asked. It was the wrong question. Beside her, Spock stiffened, and she removed her touch at once, hand falling to the bedspread. Out the window, a gleam of stars slid slowly by.
“If I knew --” Spock began harshly, teeth clenched behind his lips, but the fire seemed to leave him the moment those words did.
“I know you hate a mystery,” Michael supplied. She tried to give Spock a smile -- something sisterly. Her muscles had forgotten how to work that way, her face unused to facing this boy (because he was still, very much, just a boy). “I could help you. Maybe I would recognize them?”
The chances were slim, she knew. Whatever or whomever this Red Angel was, it knew and had seen more than she could even imagine. But she wanted to give Spock some hope. Since he had arrived on Discovery , he had been surrounded by a dark cloud, oppressive and thick and keeping out any light the crew tried to shine on him. Any light Michael tried to shine.
He stroked the edge of the PADD with a fingertip. “I do not believe you can help me, Michael,” he said. “But if you wish to try --”
“I do,” she interrupted, and Spock’s eyes shot up to her. “Spock, all I’ve ever wanted was the opportunity to try.”
The words may have rung hollow to him. Michael understood. It could take a lifetime to recover from the hurt she had caused. But she hoped he might give her some chance to atone.
Spock nodded, which was more than Michael expected. “Very well,” he said. Michael didn’t watch the PADD as he turned it on, as he flicked through the many drawings and charts and sketches that filled it. She watched his face instead as, one by one, he flicked a finger over the screen, casting holo portraits before them, filling his little room with a warm golden glow that bathed his face. And when he had finished, when he set the PADD to the side and stared at his creations, Michael saw a light in Spock’s eyes she could never remember seeing before.
It looked like hope.
Slowly, she turned to the display, the dozens of drawings Spock had hidden from her until now. And, maybe, in some part of her that knew her brother better than anyone else ever had, she thought she knew why.
Each image was a portrait of a human man. The same man, it seemed, repeated in every holo. He was golden as the sunlight, with bright golden hair and warm hazel eyes, a smile that showed all his teeth in a way that felt infectious. Even Michael almost smiled at the sight of him. In one drawing, he looked young, his eyebrows raised in suggestive challenge. In another, lines of age had drawn themselves over his face. He wore reading glasses and a strange red and white uniform Michael didn’t recognize, though she recognized the Starfleet insignia on his coat. In one image in the center of the spread of them, in the center of the room, he stared straight ahead, something warm and singular in his expression.
Michael knew that expression. It was the way Ash used to look at her. The way Sylvia looked at her now.
She turned back to Spock, her heart hammering with a secondhand feeling she couldn’t name.
“I suspect,” Spock began slowly, eyes scanning his drawings with precision and indomitable focus, “that he will be important to me someday.”
Michael’s gaze returned again to the one of the man staring straight ahead. A love light glowed in the glint of his eyes. “I think you’ll be important to him, too,” she said.
“He is a Starfleet captain. Or was. Or will be,” Spock said. “The Red Angel shows him to me in uniform on the bridge of a starship.”
“But you don’t know him?” Michael asked. She couldn’t help the disbelief in her voice. These portraits felt so intimate, so familiar and crafted with so much love that each line seemed to bleed it.
“I do not,” Spock confirmed. “And I assume you do not, either.”
“You could --” Michael started, then thinned her lips. She shuffled, elbows on her knees, holding her clasped hands before herself. “You could run his face through the computer,” she suggested slowly. “If he’s enlisted in Starfleet …”
“I do not think that is wise,” he said. The mattress shifted beside her, and Michael lifted her eyes to her brother. He stood, taking a step forward, then another, approaching the holos as tentatively as he would step onto a frozen lake. “I know I will meet him.” He raised a hand to the man’s face, to his cheek, as if cupping it. “And I want to meet him when it is right.”
“When what’s right?” Michael asked.
“Time.” The response was short.
“Your logic is flawed, Spock,” she said. “There is no such thing as the right time. No such thing as destiny or fate.”
“Perhaps not,” he conceded, turning back to her. The man’s face stared out over his shoulder, a golden ghost haunting Spock’s uncertain future.
“‘It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves,’” Michael said quietly.
“ Julius Caesar ,” Spock attributed, without missing a beat. “Although a bastardized version of the proper --.”
“ Spock .”
With a short breath of frustration, Spock seemed to let it go. “Michael, if I am to know him … if I am to care for him, I must know myself first.”
Michael’s lips curled in a small smile, born of pride, she thought. “You think you’ll care for him?”
“He is in every future the Red Angel has shown me,” Spock responded, Adam’s apple bobbing with a hard swallow that he may have hoped his high collar would conceal. He stared at a spot over Michael’s shoulder, hands clasped behind his back. “Every life I could lead, he will a part of. I do not know his name, and yet --” he paused, shook his head slightly (so Vulcan) and turned only halfway to the drawings once more. A gallery of a single man’s lifetime. “I care for him even now.”
Michael stood as well, coming to Spock’s side as they both regarded the man’s warm face. “He is handsome,” she said, almost conspiratorially. When she glanced to her side, she could tell Spock fought back a smile.
And only then did a thought strike her.
“Wait -- if you don’t want to run his face through the computer -- if you don’t want to meet him now, why did you let me look at these? What if I had recognized him?”
“The chances of that were miniscule,” he said. “I could provide the exact odds if you would like.”
“No thank you,” Michael said, and Spock huffed. He turned after a moment, returning to the bed and his discarded PADD. In a moment, unceremoniously, he closed all the images, and they blinked out of existence like a dying star, leaving a void and a darkness that forced Michael’s eyes to adjust to a space that felt suddenly empty.
The images also left silence in their wake. Silence settling like a familiar fog between her and her brother.
“Spock,” she began, turning to him, but his back was to her, the PADD held delicately in his hands.
“Michael. You said you wanted to help me. I am grateful. I do not need you to recognize this man, nor do I need you to help me find him. What I need --” He turned, his eyes capturing hers like two black holes. “What I need is for you to know that he exists. To share this burden of knowledge. The Red Angel has asked that I carry a great deal. I believe it has shown me these images to thank me, but ...”
Michael thought she understood. “None of us are meant to know our own future,” she said. “It’s okay if it scares you, Spock.”
“The future does not scare me,” he said. His voice had gone hard again, and Michael expected a Vulcan deflection. I cannot feel fear. I am afraid of nothing. Instead, she got that voice again. The small, sad voice of a boy. “I am afraid because if I take a wrong step, this future I see with him may not come to pass.”
Michael’s shoulders fell. “Spock, you said he is in every future the Red Angel showed you.”
Michael strode forward, took Spock’s elbow gently in her hand, and coaxed him to turn around. His eyes fell to the ground. “Then maybe -- maybe no matter what you do, you’re destined to meet.”
“‘It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves,’” Spock quoted right back at her, and Michael felt her face flush, even as Spock lifted his eyes with a small, mischievous smile.
A pause hung in the air between them. “Then hold it in yourself,” she said. She squeezed his arm gently. “And you will meet him. And you will know him. And you will care for him.” The smile faded slowly from his lips, uncertainty carved in every line of his face.
“And he’ll care for you, too,” she finished quietly.
Something in those holos, in the drawings that had come from Spock’s own hand and own mind and own future, assured her of that, at least.
Slowly, shakily, Spock lifted a hand and rested it over Michael’s. He squeezed gently, and Michael squeezed back. They stood there together in the silver light of a room that felt as though it should have stayed golden, in a small space that wasn’t Spock’s home, but held the promise of one. And, Michael hoped. In the touch of Spock’s hand, she felt, impossibly, that he hoped, too.