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The celebration was in full flow, the main room of the embassy looking its most glorious. But through all of it, the good wishes, there was an undercurrent of grief. This was the first bonding since Vulcan had imploded. So many youngsters had died, so many bonded pairs. They needed this, but at the same time it hurt. Hurt those who had survived that it was not their children who were wearing the robes.

She circulated through the crowd, predominantly Vulcans, exchanging nods and small talk with the handful of humans. Spock was in the centre of one knot, fielding compliments and space discussions equally. Amanda looked at her son, her kan-bu always. He had grown up so much, even since he had challenged the Council and left Vulcan. And he looked it, dressed in the House marriage robes... as Sarek had been the day she'd wed him. The robes were an heirloom of the house back to its foundations and with each generation they grew more ornate. It was tradition that with each bonding the clan symbol of the partner be added to the robe, in a similar way to the noble families of medieval Europe. Stylised capital G's in grey on the green and blue of Earth marked her entrance to the House, but the newest edition was the Starfleet Chevron on a backing of yellow-gold. That marked the acceptance of the second human bond-mate, in two generations... James Kirk.


Where was Jim? She scanned the crowd, finally spotting the peculiar mixture of bright science blue and silver-grey which made up the other bonding robe. He was over in an alcove at the side of the room, near one of the doors onto the embassy grounds... someone else there with him. Even at this distance she could tell that the conversation was not amicable in the slightest. Jim had his back to the wall, and there was an element in his stance that reminded her of a cornered rabbit she'd seen once. Furthermore, there was a good gap between him and the nearest Vulcans, and those who were near appeared to be studiously not listening, far too studiously for her liking.

As quickly as she could, without seeming to hasten, she crossed to the nook.

“...disgrace to your father's name. It would have been better if you'd died out there.”

She only caught the end of what was clearly a long tirade, but saw Jim's face lose whatever colour it had left with the final remark. She had no idea what exactly the woman was referring to and she wasn't sure she wanted to know. Instead she composed her features to the mask of the pleasant hostess and stepped forwards

“Jim dear, I don't think you've done me the honour of being introduced to your friend.”

Both jumped ever so slightly, and there was a flash of desperate relief over her son-in-laws face, further confirmation that the discussion had not been friendly

“Amanda, this is my mother, Commander Winona Kirk. Mother, Lady Amanda, Spock's mother.”

The other woman held out her hand “Pleased to meet you lady.”

Amanda raised her hand in the Ta'al, drawing herself up to her full height and keeping her face expressionless “Dif hor e sumasa Winona.”.

The Blond woman blinked, then fumbled her own Ta'al “Peace and Long life, Lady Amanda.”

“The gardens are wonderful at the moment, perhaps you would like to see them.” She deliberately moved, allowing Jim an exit past her shoulder and directing herself and Winona towards the garden door, making it so that Winona could not disobey the implicit instruction in words and body without being visibly rude.

The woman clearly had some common sense in her head and turned towards the door, matching Amanda's stride as though they were walking companionably rather than her being escorted. Amanda bit her tongue until they were across the lawn from the house and approaching a thicker piece of the garden.

“How dare you.” it burst out of her lips in a furious hiss as soon as they had passed the first screen of greenery “How dare you say those things. He is your son!”

Winona returned her glare with a self-righteous steadiness“I speak as I find... He has no family pride, no self respect.”

She thought that she would never be incredulous again, having to work to keep her voice low in her reaction “Jim has done nothing to make you ashamed of him... He's a hero, one of the brightest cadets Starfleet has had. He's full of life, and love for life”

“He's full of trouble” She saw winona's lip curl in disgust, her eyes cold and smugly righteous “He is foul, people were not made to give themselves to alien demons, much-less other males.

Amanda wasn't aware she had moved her hand until Winona staggered backwards against the nearest tree, propelled by the collision of a bunched fist with her face. “They are my family... are you deaf as well as bigoted?” She closed the gap between them, holding herself back as blood pounded in her ears She'd never truly understood the phrase seeing red before, “Jim and Spock are not foul, or perverted. They are t'hy'la.”

There was a flash of shock in Winona's eyes “You sanctify that abominable relationship! Well, God has punished your devils for that hasn't he?”

Amanda pinned her to the tree, wondering for a split second if outright murder under provocation would fit under her diplomatic immunity. That this creature in human skin could say such things, say them and mean them and believed them, it made her cold with an odd kind of fear for mankind. “You...” Words failed her momentarily, there weren't curses in any language she could think of with enough vehemence to hurt this ice cold woman.

Another cold voice came from the trees to her side “If thee truly understood t'hy'la, thee would be down on thy knees praising your God for this gift to thy son.”

She turned her head, as did Winona, to see an old woman dressed in Vulcan robes approaching them, her blue eyes icy with fury and locked on Winona “ T'hy'la is a bond set above all others. If Jim were to be in trouble, there would be no limit on what Spock would do to help him. He will have a champion and defender above all others for the rest of his life... If you cannot see that, then you are not worthy to be his mother.”

Amanda was dimly aware of Winona's spluttering next to her and she returned her own gaze from the stranger to the woman who had started all this. The voice that came from her mouth was cold and hard, so much so that she barely recognised it “You have two choices, leave now, quietly and with dignity; or be hauled out of the gates like a sack of potatoes by security. Either way you are never to come back here, or cause more trouble for my sons. Is that Understood?”

Winona nodded, looking slightly cowed suddenly and Amanda stepped back, releasing her from the pinion, and watching as the woman disappeared in the direction of the gate at a pass.

“You did well.”

“I've never been so angry in my life” She shook her head sharply “I can't believe some people.” She looked over at the older female who stood next to her, then realised that despite the robes and the formal High Vulcan accent which might have rivalled T'Pau's, her comrade in arms was a human. “You have some experience with t'hy'la?”

The woman nodded, a gentleness coming into her face as she relaxed “My son was half of a pair.” As she spoke Amanda saw a flash of old grief in her eyes, quickly covered as if in long practise at hiding emotions in public exactly as she herself had to . “I've seen the rule book go out the window on both sides when there was a threat.” Then there was a smile. There was something very familiar about the smile, small bits of the face.

“Your name... she spoke slowly, double checking all the pieces of this puzzle in her mind as she put them together “It wouldn't be Amanda Grayson?.”

The older woman nodded, looking relieved rather than cross at being found out “I did rather wonder how I was going to keep that secret. Unless human-Vulcan marriages are more common in this timeline than my own.”

Amanda shook her head “Just me.” She found her eyes wandering back in the direction of the embassy even as they saw the red landscape of Vulcan crumbling in front of her eyes “It's probable they will become common now. A logical necessity.” Her voice caught in her throat as the full sense of everyone who had died with Vulcan crashed into her like a freight train. So many lives lost, so many shattered, even if they had themselves survived...

She felt a hand gently resting on her forearm and lifted a head she didn't even realise she had bowed to look at this other version of herself

“I grieve with thee.” The other Amanda's eyes were solemn and gentle.

She swallowed the lump in her throat and nodded “Thank you.” With a swift twitch of her shoulders, she resumed the stance of a poised hostess and semi-Vulcan lady. “Come with me, I think I know someone who will be able to help you settle in.”


She led her companion back to the main embassy building. Although given that other Amanda walked right at her side and seemed extremely confident with every turning she wondred why she bothered. They stipped in a side door t one of the ante rooms of the gathering room.

“Wait here, I'll go and get them.”

Other Amanda glanced around the room, then settled herself pointedly on the chair in the room with a smile. She looked so serene and calm so regal. “I will wait.”


It was easy enough to spot Selek when she entered the main room, because he was the only one seated, his lyre still on his lap from where he had played the marriage dance for her sons while she had been out in the garden. Keeping out of the throng of groups she wove her way over to him


Her lifted his his head from contemplation of the instrument “Lady Amanda?”

It was a polite fiction, she knew who he was really, and she was almost certain that he knew she knew.

“There is someone that you ought to meet Selek. I'm afraid they have only just arrived” She made an inarticulate gesture that was symbolic of all sorts of travel difficulties.”

Selek rose to his feet, holding the instrument carefully in his arms “Your will Lady. Although I do wonder who could be interested in a quiet, out of touch hermit like me.”

Another fiction, she smiled “You'll understand when you meet them.”

Bless his generous soul, Selek followed her across the room to the ante chamber. When they reached the door she stepped back as she opened it, making it clear she was ushering him inside first. He met her eyes, in a glance that was so plainly 'illogical human'. Then she closed the door behind him, turnign away and ignoring the shocked emotional gasp he couldn't contain and had not real reason to in her mind. Aside from facilitating the meeting this wasn't something for her to be part of, it was family business and therefore private.

And she still needed to acquaint Sarek with the full account, assuming he hadn't eavesdropped, of that woman.


“Amanda” sitting on the other side of the breakfast table Sarek shook his head in resigned weariness “I suppose I should be grateful that you did not set I-Chiya on her.”

“No that was my plan B.” Grace's, as they had agreed to call other Amanda, voice was honey sweet and perfectly calm, a small smile on her face.

“Mother!” Selek's voice was shocked and simultaneously Sarek dropped his head into his hands, muttering something along the lines of an appeal to Surak. Amanda did her level best not to laugh.

And on that juncture, with perfect comic timing, Spock and Jim appeared in the doorway, Spock looking immaculate, Jim a little more sleepy and rumpled.

She glanced over at them “Good morning featherheads”

Spock raised his hand in a brief ta'al, Jim nodded, dropping into one of the empty seats as his bond mate sat beside him

“Headsup Jim”

They all ducked as with great accuracy, other Amanda threw an apple up the table to Jim, who snatched it from the air, with a grin “How did you know I like apples for breakfast?”

Other Amanda smiled “Experience, dear. Many years of it.”

She saw Jim blink, then look back and forth between Selek and other Amanda as the pieces fell into place. “OK”

He'd only taken a couple of mouthfuls of his breakfast selection when he stopped and set his cutlery down “I'm sorry about my mother last night.”

She held his eyes “You have nothing to be sorry for... And she won't be bothering you again if she wants to stay in Starfleet.” She stabbed the piece of fruit under her fork with a little more venom than the grapefruit warranted as the memories of that woman rose up.

“You can do that?” Jim sounded stunned

“If Amanda cannot, I certainly can... Insubordination. Bigotry unbecoming of a Starfleet officer, Xenophobia, significant cultural insensitivity to a challenged species. They should all fit rather nicely.”

She turned in her chair to see T'Pol appear from another door, gliding across the room with a considering look on her face. The Vulcan female sat down next to her, apparently oblivious to the fact that Jim was staring at her with his mouth agape like a fish, his breakfast forgotten. T'pol glanced at them “Good morning to thee youngling.” After a moment she paused in her dishing up and looked again “Kirk, eat your breakfast...that's an order.”

Jim looked around slowly and it was very plain that he had completely forgotten he had food in front of him.

Instead she watched as she looked over at Spock “How are you on 'youngling' terms with a Starfleet Admiral?”

Spock looked ever so slightly smug, although Amanda knew he would deny such an emotion if she ever asked “She is my godmother, as you would have it”

Poor Jim, he looked as though he wondered exactly what he had got himself into “Godmother, right, great....Any more surprises?”

Amanda watched as T'Pol levelled him with a firm gaze “Eat your breakfast, Jim...”

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