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‘’Father… why does mother not want me?’’

Spock stops in his tracks, the brutal honesty of his daughters question seeming to suck all the air out of his lungs.

‘’Clarify, young one.’’

‘’Approximately three years ago Mother indicated to you that she no longer wished to remain bonded to you and that you should take me with you when you severed your bond. I merely wished to know, now that I am six years of age, why my mother felt the need to discard our familial bonds.’’

Looking down at his daughter, her severe expression so unnatural on her tiny elfin face, he finds that he wishes desperately that he could let go of his Vulcan controls and simply embrace her. He curses T’Pring for the thousandth time for placing him in this situation. It did not matter how she had treated him for all those years when he had lived on Vulcan with her as his wife. He would never forgive her for causing this uncertainty in his daughter.

‘’This is not a matter I can explain to you young one, as I cannot presume to know your mothers mind or thoughts.’’ He deflects and his heart give a squeeze as he sees his daughters shoulders droop in disappointment.

‘’I see.’’ He hears her small voice float up from somewhere near the vicinity of his knees and he sighs quietly. Bending down, ignoring the looks of the passing humans, he carefully brushes a hand against her temple in rare display of public affection.

‘’It matters not T’lera, as I will always value you. I will always ‘want’ you. You are blood of my blood and my sole reason for living. It is only logical to love and cherish ones children. I cherish thee. I care for thee, my young one.’’ He whispers quietly to her and he breathes a sigh of relief as he sees a small smile appear in the corner of her lips before it too quickly vanishes.

‘’I cherish thee as well, father.’’

‘’Indeed.’’ His eyes are warm and gentle as he stands up and reaches out his hand.

‘’I thought it inappropriate for a Vulcan of my age to still need the guidance of her father’s hand when crossing a road.’’

‘’Today we will make an exception.’’ He says simply as he clasps her tiny fragile hand in his own, projecting his love and reassurance through their contact. He can feel her happiness in this moment. She knows that she will always be loved, be cherished, that he would die before he allows anyone or anything to come between them or hurt her.

                                                                                                *********

‘’Father? May we please purchase what my peers refer to as ‘ice cream’ on the way back to our home?’’ he hears her mutter thirty-five minutes into their walk and he follows her gaze over the road to where a human male is exuberantly fighting off a dozen children who are all screaming for the sweetened snack.

‘’I am, as your father, compelled to point out that you have yet to partake in your evening meal and that should you dine on this sweetened frozen dairy product, there is a statistically likelihood of seventy-four point nine percent that you will be too full to finish your main meal.’’

‘’I disagree Father. I estimate there to be only a forty-nine percent chance that it will indeed ruin my dinner.’’ He sees her pout and he lifts his eyebrow at her faulty mathematics.

‘’I see you are learning the art of persuasion.’’ He says referring to her pouty bottom lip which juts out defiantly and a slight shrug of her shoulders suggests she agrees with him.

‘’I have observed other children display this characteristic when they have set eyes upon something that they desire. It appears to always be successful.’’

‘’Of course.’’ He murmurs and giving in to his daughters whims he leads them across the road and Spock braces himself for the struggle ahead.

Pushing his way through the throngs of screaming, sweaty, laughing children he eventually reaches the man who is expertly navigating this minefield of emotions that he himself is desperate to avoid.

Spock’s first thought as the main gazes up and into his eyes is just how very blue this man’s eyes are. Almost artificially so. His nose is dusted with light freckles which taper off and vanish as his cheekbones are highlighted by the sun. His hair is blond, but not just with one shade, but with no less than five different variations of the colour. His teeth are straight and white against his tanned, golden skin, his lips a rosy shade of red and Spock simply stares.

His heart has skipped no less than four beats in the minute that he has locked eyes with this stranger. He is, for lack of a better word, stunning.

‘’Hey man, you okay?’’ he hears the man ask and Spock quickly suppresses the urge to ask him to repeat himself simply so that he can revel in the timber, the bass of the man’s voice again.

‘’I... am adequate. I wish to purchase…’’ he stutters mid-speech as the man begins to snicker.

‘’We have strawberry, vanilla, mint and chocolate chip today. Although I’ve read that chocolate doesn’t go well with you guys.’’ The man smirks and Spock takes a step back in response, his stomach churning for some unexplainable reason.

‘’Vanilla. One. Please.’’ He manages to croak out and he curses that his voice has come out similar to that of a human male experiencing puberty.

‘’Sure. Two credits please.’’ The man says again and Spock swallows, his adams apple bobbing in his throat as he sees the blonde god stick his tongue out from the corner of his mouth as he scoops the frozen dairy product into what he now recalls is a ‘cone’ for holding the snack.

Spock hands him the money wordlessly, his eyes never leaving the perplexingly stunning sight and as the credit chip is passed over, he almost groans in regret when the man purposefully avoids touching him.

‘’Voila! One vanilla ice cream.’’

The ‘ice-cream’ is melting in the hot summer day but Spock could not care less at this moment in time as he vaguely feels the sticky moisture run down his fingers when he takes it from him.

‘’Are you sure you’re okay?’’

‘’Yes.’’

‘’Okay. Uh, see you around?’’

‘’Yes.’’

Spock takes a step back and turns on his heels, narrowly avoiding knocking over a child as he turns, so desperate was he to return to normalcy.

‘’Father…? You have been unresponsive for three minutes.’’ He feels a tug on his sleeve and he guiltily and belatedly realises that his daughter has been trying to garner his attention.

‘’I am well, T’lera. I was simply… deep in thought.’’ He frowns slightly as he passes the dripping food over to his daughter who is nearly vibrating with excitement at being bought a ‘treat’.

‘’Once you have eaten, we will cut our walk short as I have an urgent matter to attend to.’’ He follows his daughter unthinkingly as she seats herself on a wooden park bench and he takes the seat beside her.

He is conflicted.

His eyes return to the man at the ice cream stand every two minutes for approximately thirty seconds at a time. He feels drawn in, caught like a proverbial moth to a flame as he watches the man interact with the children, laughing, ruffling their hair and swatting at the ones who are over-eager.

He has thus far never felt this type of attraction to anyone. This need to consume, to devour, to discover.

He curses his human half for bringing forth such new emotions, such new sensations, such new urges and he forces his eyes away to look back to his daughter who has taken to swinging her feet back and forth above the ground as she eats.

He takes a deep breath and marvels at how she is always able to centre him. She is a remarkable child. It is not logical to feel pride and yet he is fit to bursting with it whenever he looks upon her. Having moved to Earth two years ago she has adapted to her surrounding with such ease that he almost envies her. And while it is not the Vulcan way to express so much emotion in one’s facial expressions or body language, he cannot find it in himself to correct her.

She is perfect the way she is. It is not Vulcan to have friends. And yet when he collects her from day-care each day his heart is warmed to see her surrounded by humans who claim to be just that.

Yes, this, she - his daughter - was all he needed in his life.

His eyes flicker back to the ice-cream stand and his breath catches as he his transfixed by the colour blue staring back at him. A smile spreads on his lips and for the first time in years since his bond was broken with his wife… he feels… fascinated.

**********

He does not know why he returns to the same park an exact week later. He does not know if the man will be there and yet he feels compelled to go anyway. His daughter, who he has collected from day-care, has come along with him and if he feels a slight twinge of guilt of using her as an excuse to once more visit this recreational area for children, he stifles it as soon as it appears.

‘’Father, I have sensed that you have been most agitated as of late. May I enquire as to the source of your discomfort?’’

Spock wishes for a moment that his child was not so adept at figuring out his moods and sighs internally as her inquisitive brown eyes shine up at him. She looks so much like her mother in this moment that he feels an itch start at the back of his neck. He resists the temptation to scratch under her scrutinising stare.

How could he explain to his six year old daughter that he has been absolutely and utterly beguiled by an ice-cream man? That his thoughts had been plagued by visions of a golden haired beauty each night before he commits himself to sleep? How could he explain this new fluttering sensation he feels in the region of his intestines whenever he thinks of the man? His excitement at once more setting eyes on the human that has bewitched him is palpable in the air and as they cross the road to the park, his hand twitches around hers as his eyes scan their surroundings. Searching eagerly for some sign of him.

‘’I am not experiencing any discomfort. Merely an emotion that I am unfamiliar with.’’ He corrects her and he ignores her own raised eyebrow of disbelief.

‘’Do you intend to once again purchase me an ice-cream? I have heard of children who get rewarded weekly if their behaviour has been acceptable. Am I to assume that you have adopted the idea?’’ she comments and he stops to look down at her with a small frown.

‘’Your behaviour has always been commendable for someone of your age. I do not need a reason to indulge you in dietary treats. I do so simply because I wish too.’’ He says and he sees how she represses the urge to giggle at him.

‘’As you say, father.’’ But her words are underlined with pride at being praised and if she skips the last three steps to the bench he does not comment on it.

‘’What are we waiting for?’’

‘’T’lera, whist I appreciate that you have a curious mind and are always eager to learn…why do you feel the need to question everything? I find that if you spend too long questioning what it is or why something is that way, then you lose the chance to admire the simple beauty of it existing altogether.’’

He raises a brow at her contemplative look and when they sit and wait on the bench, she folds her tiny hands in her lap and simply stares off into the distance, a slight quirk to her mouth as she also observes her surroundings.

The two sit in companionable silence until both are startled, a tiny and later deniable squeak leaving his daughter and he, himself puffing out a breath from shock. The sound is atrocious, a blaring melody of rock music which Spock would swear he can feel penetrating through to his bones. He cocks his head to the side and wishes briefly that Vulcan hearing was not twice that of humans.

Absolute pandemonium breaks out as the vehicle comes to a standstill and every child within the recreational area practically sprints towards the music. The music mercifully switches itself off and it is instantly replaced by screaming children. He does not know which he would prefer if he were ever given a choice.

‘’Father, may I attempt to purchase the ice-cream myself?’’ his daughter asks and he is loathe to grant her this wish.

‘’Humans, as you know, especially children are not adept at controlling their emotions. You are a touch telepath, my young one. I would not see you overwhelmed or hurt by transference if they should come into close bodily contact with you.’’ He says and ah… there comes the lip again.

‘’I am on Earth. I am six years of age and three grades above my age group. Father, I am well aware that I could be overwhelmed by others emotions however I still feel it would be in my best interest to attempt this. If I learn at a young age to control what emotions bleed through my shields, I can then in turn learn to adapt so that it does not occur again.’’

He is proud. And dare he say - highly amused- at her impassioned speech of how she should be given the freedom to do as she so wishes. He takes a torturous moment – for her – to internally debate with himself. He has as of yet not dared to look over to the vendor selling the ice-creams, a part of him dreading the disappointment if the man he is searching for is not there and equally dreading the influx of emotions he will experience if he is there.

Perhaps his daughter going would allow him to continue observing from a distance and therefore give him a chance to further analyse why he is so drawn to this man.

‘’Very well. However, if you feel any discomfort….’’

He can sense her sigh of frustration and he watches avidly how she controls what would have no doubt been a spectacular tantrum, were she a human child.

‘’Thank you, father. May I please have the necessary funds to make my purchase?’’

He hands her the credits she has asked for and before he can caution her again – his mouth opening uselessly- he sees her walking briskly and bravely to the mass of screaming pink humans.

Her school uniform is an eye-catching blue, the red ribbon in her tied up black hair a startling contrast to her surroundings and he is thankful that her clothing makes her easy to keep track of. He sees how she navigates the children, her shoulders twisting in ungodly ways as she attempts to evade the children who are all pushing against each other – hands outstretched towards the vehicle.

She reaches the front and he illogically finds himself holding his breath as she makes her first ever purchase by herself and when his gaze starts to drift up, above her head, he forgets to breathe entirely as he catches sight of the man who has haunted his waking and sleeping moments.

Terrifyingly beautiful blue eyes have caught his own again and even as the man bends down to listen to his daughter’s request, it never leaves him. Spock feels himself flush under the hot sun; his normally pale skin turning a shade of green similar to the leaves and grass surrounding him. His daughter continues to speak and when the man straightens and turns his body in Spock’s direction with a wink – Spock finally remembers that breathing is conducive to staying alive. The air he has been withholding bursts out of him in a gust as his lips part.

The man is walking towards him, T’lera by his side, the screaming clamouring children now being attended to by a severe looking man, a grimace constantly on his face.

Why, oh why has his daughter deemed it necessary to bring this man along with her? Did he perhaps give her the incorrect funds? Has she offended him somehow? Would he have to speak to this man and bear witness once again to his own humiliation when his voice cracks again?

‘’Hi.’’ Says the man and Spock estimates that he has precisely four seconds in which to find his voice or he will be categorised as an imbecile. First impressions are made so quickly on this planet after all.

‘’Hello.’’

He is proud his voice has not cracked. He is however disturbed to find that the closer the man walks, the more his body reacts. He is suddenly hyper-aware of how much distance lies between the two of them. Seven exact steps and Spock will be able to smell the man. To see the pores on his nose, to see the creases around his eyes when he smiles. His heart rate increases to dangerous levels and he wills it to slow down immediately lest he make a fool of himself and succumb to a 'dizzy spell'.

‘’Your girl was very brave just now. She told me that as this was her first time buying anything and that she wanted me to come over and give you a report of how the whole thing went.’’ He says with a chuckle and Spock can only nod in response.

‘’So, uh... she did really well. She was… clear and concise in her order and she handled the exchange of money with ease.’’

‘’Indeed.’’ He says as he fights not to close his eyes in bliss as the human continues to speak.

‘’I know this is awkward as hell … but, T’lera is it? Yeah, T’lera also told me that you have been… thinking of me? It’s cool if you haven’t… I mean I just thought you know, that if you have... that the two of us should maybe goforadrinksometime?’’

Spock blinks twice at the garbled end of the humans sentence, realising the man is experiencing embarrassment. His gaze swiftly turns on his daughter in irritation for the violation of his privacy. She appears to feel no shame for the fact that she has purposefully set up this  encounter.

‘’Never mind. It’s cool. I’ll just –‘’ the man backs away with his hands in the air and Spock’s brain restarts itself.

‘’My daughter is correct. I have ‘been thinking about you’.’’

He will die of mortification in his private chambers… later.

‘’Hey, that’s good. I mean that’s great. So do you –‘’

‘’I am not against meeting you at a later date to partake in alcoholic beverages.’’

The golden-haired man laughs, running his hand through his hair, the strands parting expertly between his long fingers and Spock finds himself following the arch of the human’s wrist, up to his palms and further up to the tips of his fingers.

‘’I am Spock.’’ He introduces himself and he is intrigued further when the man mouths the word Spock silently, the shape of his mouth contorting in fascinating ways as he murmurs each letter.

‘’It’s a pleasure to meet you Spock. I’m James Kirk.’’ He holds up his hand in the taal and Spock returns the greeting, surprise lifting both of his brows.

He feels the warmth of the sun settle somewhere deep in his gut along with another feeling he cannot place. He files away the memory of this beautiful man and his rebellious daughter to be reviewed later.

It is indeed a pleasure.

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