Spock is only six years old when Amanda Grayson looks at her son one night and wonders where his passion has gone.
Even at such a young age, Vulcans are tightly constrained creatures. Spock has already taken to sitting in the family room with his datapadds and books spread around him – tiny, thin volumes still, because he is young – and studying into the early morning. He meditates frequently with a tiny furrow on his brow, struggling to reach the level of focus that comes so easily to older Vulcans.
When Amanda was a young woman she imagined having children; in her dreams she heard the patter of small feet over ceramic tiles, the bubbling cries of raucous play. She bites her lip and looks out the window.
“It's not very dark out, you know – and it's such a nice day. Why don't you ever go outside?”
“But I have nothing to do outside,” says Spock plainly.
“You can play with your friends,” suggests Amanda.
Her son stares at her without comprehension. “I have none.”
Amanda's mouth opens in a small 'o'. Then she purses her mouth, thinking hard. Suddenly, she has an idea. “...Come with me,” she says, standing. “I want to show you something.”
She steps closer and holds out her hand. Spock dutifully clutches her wrist, and they step outside together into the cool desert night.
The sand sucks at their feet as they walk, but Amanda knows the area well. They head up in the direction of the L-Langon mountains, and the sand turns hard and gritty under their heels. Spock wonders at his mother's plans – wild lematya have been known to prowl these areas – but before going too high she stops suddenly and releases Spock from her grip. He looks at her, confused. They are in the middle of nowhere; there is nothing to differentiate this spot from any other.
“Do you know what a shooting star is, Spock?” she asks.
“Oh, it's a magical thing – you see, you make a wish on it when you see one fall. For whatever you want most - ”
Spock seems so alarmed by the notion that Amanda immediately changes track. “No. Meteors graze the atmosphere – they just look like stars. Falling stars are rare. But you can wish on normal stars, too.”
Spock looks at her skeptically. “Wishing is illogical.”
“When I was young, I wished for a family. And now I have one.”
“That is a logical fallacy, Mother - “
Amanda ignores him. “They're lovely, aren't they?”
Spock looks up.
Vulcan is a world that has had very low levels of pollution for thousands of years. The skies are clear and here, on the mountains, the stars seem intimately close. Several of them gleam more blue than white; on the edge of his vision the vast black abyss of space glitters with waves of light too distant, too dim to fully comprehend. But there is a mosaic of lights peering back at him, and he spares a thought for the myriad worlds drifting in unthinking orbit around these stars – expanding, falling, sinking and dying.
“It is aesthetically pleasing,” he says quietly.
“Go on,” says Amanda. “Make a wish.”
He supposes there is a logic to this, too. Even in myth and hope there is logic. He does not wish for the things he wants most – to be accepted, to have his father's regard.
But there are things within his reach which Spock can still strive for. If there is some benevolent force at work in the universe, one who takes mercy on those who look to the stars – and, though this is poor logic, Spock reasons that there is no means of disproving this idea – then there are still certain things which Spock could seek. Stability, and peace, and perhaps even academic or professional success.
So he wishes for these things very strongly. He feels foolish – for a moment – but as his eyes move up to trace the pinprick glow of the stars it is very hard to care what anyone else would think of this display. T'Khut rolls higher into the sky like a giant burning eye, as though Vulcan's looming sister planet is granting her tacit approval for his lapse.
Perhaps, then, he can spare himself this one indulgence.
Stars are a constant on every world, Spock finds. He knows this intellectually but it is something different to see it for himself. Even when he is older and finally attending Starfleet Academy the stars provide a welcome backdrop to the many unknowns which plague his mind. He is not alone in this comfort; many of the Academy students find comfort in the night, and no one finds it odd if he is prone to walking late or taking out his personal telescope during the twilight hours.
He still wishes on the stars, and not just the burning meteors that humans call 'shooting stars'. He looks up at them and sees a landscape not much different than that of his home on Vulcan. He makes the same wishes: Peace. Stability. Wisdom. Success.
It is akin to a meditation. Spock's life has not been very stable as of late. His departure from Vulcan was fraught with tension. Sarek did not agree with his leaving. His time at the Academy has also been difficult. But his studies have been proceeding well. Still – Spock has never been satisfied with a fifty-percent success rate. These are matters to work toward, then.
The Enterprise's Observation Deck is a popular place. Crewmen filter in and out of the room at all hours to gaze at the wide window of transparent aluminum that shows an immediate vista of stars. It is hard to obtain privacy here, but Spock occasionally ventures into the place nevertheless. Thankfully his own presence is often enough to deter other onlookers.
His place on the Enterprise has been satisfactory for over a decade, though Spock has often felt less than entirely fulfilled with his work. Personal feelings, however, are irrelevant; his work has been important and excellent on an objective scale. So he has remained.
During the last few months of Captain Kirk's captaincy he has felt a certain shift. He is not certain, however, what it signifies – not certain if the change is positive or negative. He is confident this matter will reveal itself in time.
As a particularly bright, piercing star rolls into view, Spock takes a breath. He hears the door slide open behind him and ignores it; no one will disturb him. He makes a wish. He wishes for Safety. He wishes for Peace and the ability to find Logic. He wishes for Competence in his work. He wishes for -
“Spock! I was told you were here.”
Spock startles and turns around. Kirk looks vaguely guilty. “I'm sorry – I didn't mean to surprise you,” he says.
“Not at all, Captain.”
Kirk follows his gaze. “They are beautiful, aren't they? I used to stargaze myself, back in Iowa – the vision doesn't seem to compare, now.” A smile curves at the edge of his mouth.
“I have no opinion on the matter.”
“Oh, I'm sure,” says Kirk lightly. “What about chess, Mr. Spock?”
“Do you have an opinion on that? Because we missed our last game. I was wondering if you'd care to join me in the rec room. If you're not busy.”
Kirk leads the way with one last, fond look out the window. Spock tries to remember the last part of his list – he cannot quite manage it.
He has never dared to wish for something as wonderful as a friend.
(But maybe the stars heard him, anyway.)