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Spock arrives in the dining room at precisely six o’clock, just as he should, and his tiny forehead scrunches up when he looks around to find the head of the table empty. It makes Amanda’s heart clench, because she knows just what Spock’s thinking. She knows it hurts him, even though he doesn’t say it. Amanda smoothly informs him, “Your father’s working late tonight. But I’m sure he’ll be back soon.” She isn’t actually sure. But she knows that Spock already feels neglected and doesn’t want to make it worse.

She sets the table, serving him his soup and salad, and Spock climbs up into his chair and wordlessly accepts it. As Amanda settles into her own seat, it occurs to her that this could be an opportunity. She loves her husband, truly does, and she’s come to an agreement in regards to parenting, even though she doesn’t fully agree with it. But this absence could be an opportunity. Amanda genuinely believes that all children deserve a moment to unwind every now and then, especially ones with human blood.

So she suggests, “Spock... why don’t you invite your friend to join us.”

Spock glances up at her, looking momentarily confused. Amanda doesn’t have to clarify which friend, because as much as it pains her to acknowledge it, Spock only has one. Spock informs her, “It would be illogical to invite an imaginary friend to eat corporeal food.”

If she weren’t so sad, she’d smile. It’s unfortunate that Spock can’t embrace his humorous side, because he makes her want to laugh so often, and that’s a wonderful thing. She quietly insists, “That’s alright, Spock. Even your father understands the merit in creativity, and imaginary friends are just a natural progression of that. We have an empty seat anyway.” Spock still doesn’t look so sure. She worries every day that he lives in fear of his father’s judgment, no matter how hard she tries to negate that.

She tries to settle the matter for him. She pushes back her chair and rises, pacing back to the kitchen to collect another bowl and plate. She comes to set them down in the seat Sarek would normally occupy. Spock slowly nods, then informs her, “Jim is here.”

“Excellent.” Amanda sits down again and smiles at the empty void where her husband should be. She says, “It’s good to have you with us, Jim.”

“He says thank you,” Spock fills in.

Amanda nods and returns her attention to her son. After her first bite of the salad freshly made from the greens of her own garden, she asks, “So, what does this Jim look like? I don’t think you’ve told me.”

Spock pauses. He stares at the empty chair, studying it, and reports to her as though truly seeing it, “He appears human.”

Amanda pauses. She hadn’t expected that. ‘Jim’ hardly seemed a Vulcan name, but she’d still assumed that Spock had been picturing the Vulcan ideal, like what he’s always trying to emulate. He goes on, “He is about my age. He has light gold-brown hair. His skin is pale like mine, but his ears are rounded.” Then he pauses, as though listening to something, and scowls. “I am not going to say that.”

“What?” Amanda asks.

Spock huffs, “Jim says he is handsome.”

Amanda chuckles. That’s quite a cute detail for Spock to have added. She decides, “He sounds like a lovely boy. It’s a shame he’s invisible to me.” Some parents might pretend they could actually see the imaginary friend, but Amanda isn’t willing to patronize Spock that way. She’s only indulging in his creative mind.

Spock looks aside again, says, “Yes,” to the nothingness, then turns to tell her, “He wants to know if he shouldn’t be invisible to you. I have informed him that you can be trusted.”

Feeling oddly touched, Amanda answers, “Thank you. You can tell Jim I’d love to see him.”

Then she nearly jumps out of her skin, because something’s just appeared in Sarek’s seat. Her head swivels around, eyes going wide at the boy who sits there—a small Terran child that looks up at her with big bright eyes. Her heart’s pounding in her chest, mind reeling.

Spock easily introduces, “This is my best friend, Jim. Jim, this is my mother.”

“Hello,” Jim tells her, in clear Federation standard. “It’s nice to meet you, Spock’s-Mom.”

Amanda doesn’t understand. She wants to ask who he is, but he already said. So she can only breathe, “What are you?”

Jim answers simply, “Q.”