Tuvok looked out of the window of the tiny shuttle that was dipping lower and lower into the atmosphere of the reddish colored planet. It had been too long. Much too long. Voyager had been home for a year, but this was the first opportunity he'd had to get back to his home planet. After the other crew members had left the ship, there had still be security logs to review-- eight years worth. Then, there was Kathryn Janeway's wedding. It seemed one thing after another had prevented him from returning to his family.
Tuvok stepped down from the transporter padd that had deposited him on Vulcan and to the waiting family before him.
"Welcome back." His youngest son, Elieth, greeted him.
"Thank you." Tuvok discreetly took a deep breath of the slightly drier and much warmer air on Vulcan. Earth was cool and moist in comparison, and he was glad to be back in his familiar homeland.
Before him stood a family that he knew was his, but a much older version of his children. His wife, T'Pel, had died three years ago to a plague that swept through Tendura IV where she was visiting their middle son's grave. Varith had died while serving Starfleet as a lieutenant during the Cardassian wars. Yet, here was his oldest son, Sek, with his wife, Lanil, and their five year old son, Mesnik. Elieth was not married, according to the last time Tuvok had spoken with him via subspace channels, he was studying to be a priest and master of the Vulcan arts. Asil, Tuvok's eighteen year old daughter, was on the edge of the group, eyes downcast as she studied the floor of Starfleet's Vulcan base. At the young age of nine when Tuvok had disappeared, she had grown up.
"It is good to be back." He finally said. The family broke up then for the journey back to their home. Elieth shyly came to sit beside his father for the transport.
"Father, after you left, mother took a new husband," He began, not quite how to broach the subject other than to leap head first into it. "They had a child together-- a girl-- and then Thesark disappeared after Mother's death leaving us with Juree. Asil has been taking care of the child, but she is becoming interested in Starfleet. I thought you should be warned."
Tuvok's placid face revealed nothing that would indicate that he was upset by the news. It was what he expected, to be honest, that T'Pel would take another husband. Though, he hadn't expected there to be any children after her first grandchild was born.
"Thank you, Elieth."
Tuvok was stunned as he stepped into his home and found a four year old bundle of energy with long dark hair and beautiful dark skin rushing towards them. His daughter's face hinted at a smile as she knelt down to catch her small charge.
"Juree," she admonished, "What have I told you?"
Silky soft bangs fell over the little girl's eyes as she bowed her head. "To not run and shout in the house." She whispered.
"Correct. And why?"
"Because it is disrespectful to our elders." The girl cowered further under her long hair.
"Good." Asil stood, still holding the girl's hand as Juree hid behind her. "And now, I'd like you to meet one of your elders-- my father."
The little girl shyly peered upwards at the tall Vulcan man. "Is he my father too?" She inquired, her voice as soft as the wind's whisper.
"No." Asil pulled her from her hiding place. "Your father and our mother left at the same time."
"Come now. Let's get the midday meal for the family."
"I don't want to." Juree yanked her hand out of Asil. "I want to stay here."
"I'll watch her." Mesnik, trying to appear older than his five years, came forward and grabbed the girl's hand.
"No. I don't want you to watch me." Juree tried to pull her hand free but didn't succeed.
"I will watch them."
The adult's heads swiveled to stare at their father.
"Thank you, Father." Asil said as she and Lanil moved towards the kitchen.
Tuvok eyed the young children he had been left charge of as his two sons moved to the sitting area.
"I do not know you, yet you are my family." He said kneeling down to their level.
"I know you." Mesnik showed off a perfect row of white teeth. "You are grandpa."
"Yes, I am your grandfather." Juree was tugging insistently on his hand.
"Let's show him the fort!" She begged her older nephew, all bashfulness gone.
"We'll take the long way and show him the cliffs." Mesnik decided.
Tuvok enjoyed the walk with the children, though he wouldn't have admitted it. The scorching Vulcan sun beat down on them, warming their skin as they rounded where the cliffs he had climbed upon as a child jutted out. Mesnik walked solemnly by his grandfather and informed him of the things he was learning in school as Juree skipped ahead and collected a soggy handful of flowers- t'karath flowers to be exact.
They finally reached 'the fort', which was actually a cluster of boulders and sand protruding from the earth. Tuvok held back and gazed at it for a moment as he remembered his childhood days of playing amongst them. One of his friends, Vesvik, had been born on Earth and taught Tuvok and the other children how to play hide and seek. A wisp of a smile crossed Tuvok's eyes as he remembered all the hiding places this cluster held.
"This is our secret place." Juree informed the older Vulcan with a serious expression.
"It was my secret place too." Tuvok told her as he sat down on one of the boulders. "And my father's. And my sons'."
"My dad played here?" Mesnik knelt down and picked up a flat stone.
"Yes. With Varith and Elieth."
"I never met Varith."
"Neither did I." Juree clamored up the side of the stone and climbed into Tuvok's lap. "I was born after he died." She said as she rested her silky head against Tuvok's chest.
"Yes, you were."
"Grandpa, I will return shortly." Mesnik glanced toward another rock. "I left a data padd out here and must fetch it."
Tuvok hesitated. Was it safe to allow a child to wander in the small area by himself? Then, he wanted to laugh (curious, he thought to himself, a human emotion) at his trail of thoughts. He had been sneaking out here before he was Juree's age and never run into danger. But still... "Be careful. The stones can hide many enemies." Tuvok warned thinking of Terran's snakes and scorpions.
"I will." Mesnik trotted off, thankful to be free for a bit. He couldn't help but enjoy being able to run and play at his young age.
A sudden movement in Tuvok's arms reminded him of the small bundle who was growing tired.
"You were married to my mother." She worked her thumb in her small mouth.
Tuvok pulled it out. "Yes, I was."
"But, you're not my father." She glared at her thumb and wrapped it around his large finger as a soft breezed ruffled her silky locks.
"That is correct."
"I don't have a father." She suddenly turned and looked at Tuvok with her big brown eyes. "What do I call you?"
Tuvok stared, mesmerized by this child's large eyes. Pulling her hand from his grasp, she rested it on his chin. Tuvok felt a lump rise in his throat. "If you wish," He began and then stopped to swallow the lump which had risen, "You may call me 'Father'."
"No! I won't! I won't!" Stomp. "I won't!"
Tuvok watched from his place in the door way as his adopted daughter stamped her small foot and folded her arms across her chest in defiance to her older sister.
"As you wish, Juree." Asil turned to the pile of broken glass lying on the floor at their feet. "Go to your room and work on your letters. You are to stay there until I come for you."
"I don't wanna!" The small foot came down again, this time on Asil's hand.
Asil bit her lip as a thin trickle of green blood pulsed from the wound.
"Juree," Tuvok stepped in the kitchen, "Go to your room."
Juree's head snapped to face her father. "I'm sorry, Father!" she cried, a small tear coursing down her cheek.
"Work on your letters as your sister has instructed you. One of us will come for you later."
Juree cast a glare back at her sister before slipping out of the kitchen.
Tuvok bent down and picked up a shard of bluish glass. "I am concerned about Juree." He finally admitted to his daughter.
"Me too." Standing, Asil turned to face Tuvok. "Father, I am doing my best to be a mother to her, am I failing?"
Tuvok straightened and carried the glass to the waste disposal system. "No, Asil. I questioned my own actions as a father concerning Sek and Varith when Elieth was born. I was given good advice and told that these two boys were acting as I had at their age. Though Juree is two years younger than Varith was at the time, she is acting very close to how he was." Tuvok hesitated, unsure why he was going to say what he was next. "Even so, I wish to have Juree's DNA tested for abnormal development. There is something about her which leads me to be concerned."
Asil nodded as she swept the last sliver of glass from the floor. "I concur. When I was her age, I remember sneaking around to run through the sands, not throwing things at Mother."
Two weeks later, Juree sat on a medical biobed as Kavik ran his scanner over her. The Vulcan said nothing as he read the tiny tricorder, but merely looked up as he finished.
"She is in perfect health." He pronounced before turning to Juree. Placing a hand on her shoulder, he told her quietly, "I'd like to discuss something with your father. Please go to the outer room for a minute. My nurse is out there. You can draw a pretty picture for us."
"It is quite common place for Vulcan children to be present for their own diagnosis." Tuvok stopped Juree. "I wish for her to remain here."
Kavik met the older man's eyes. "This time, she will wait outside."
Tuvok saw that there was something wrong. Something terribly wrong. Nodding once, he gave Juree a push to the outer room. After the door closed, he waited as Kavik downloaded the tricorder into the computer console.
"This is a normal strand of Vulcan DNA." Kavik began as he pointed at the double helix appearing on the screen. "I have colored the 'rungs of the ladder' in yellow as they are pure Vulcan."
Tuvok watched as another strand of DNA began spinning beside the original. This one, though mostly yellow, also had patches of red and blue in it.
"This is Juree's DNA." Kavik said. "The red and blue are Klingon and Terran DNA respectively."
"You're saying that Juree is part Klingon and Human?"
"Yes." Kavik switched the monitor off. "As you can see, it's just a little bit. I estimate that she is seventy five percent Vulcan. And twelve point five percent Terran and the same amount Klingon. In other words, her great grandfather and great grandmother were full Terran and Klingon""
Tuvok nodded once. "This does explain her over energetic stages."
"Yes, and in the future, it will explain why she will not be as restrained in her emotions as a full Vulcan. Also, since she is one eighth of two different species, she may develop some characteristics of the others." Kavik pulled the tricorder readings back up. "I believe I saw slight ridges in her skeletal patterns that will develop more fully, although they will be nearly indecipherable from her hairline. And, although her ears are pointed, it appears that her human DNA proclaimed itself for her mind powering genes."
"You're saying that her mind powers, if any, will be limited?"
Kavik nodded. "In light of her not being full Vulcan, I believe she will be hard pressed to attend the local schools and master their classes. She will be more restless than the other children and will likely be teased about her ridges and lack of mind powers." Kavik looked down for a moment before meeting the other man's eyes. "If it were any other situation, I would tell the parents to raise the child as a true Vulcan, but that can not be done here because she is not a true Vulcan. She is only part Vulcan. And, she should be with children who will be like her and have the same amount of uncontrolled energy as her."
Tuvok ignored the hot sands that stung his face as he gazed over the desert landscape. He'd been home for barely six months and was restless. He was a vital part of the family's life-- especially Juree's-- but he felt he served no purpose. After resting for a month and visiting the tabernacles the next two months, Tuvok had spent the remaining of his time wandering around his home looking for something to do. And there was plenty. But, he didn't wish to spend the rest of his life playing mommy.
The truth was, his children were grown or nearly grown and he was in the way. Oh, no one would come out and say it, but Tuvok could feel it. Sek had his job as an ambassador for the Federation's Vulcan base. He spent many days touring the planet with some of the Federation's top executives. ve c at least once a week he was called on to visit another planet and sort out some mess.
Lanil was busy raising her young son and training him in Vulcan restraint. It was a difficult task for the young mother, but she was trying her best. Tuvok was reminded of his own difficulties with his sons as he watched the struggle between mother and son.
Elieth, once eager to have his father home and back in the tabernacles, now spent more time reviewing the old scrolls that had once been an obsession of Tuvok's.
Asil had taken her exams and had been accepted for entrance into the Academy the following year. She was intending to take Juree with her to Terra and find a small apartment for them. It was the perfect solution to the biological problem which Juree-- who still didn't know she was different-- would be faced with the following year when she was required to enter school.
Thinking of his daughter's pending education reminded Tuvok of his own transmission from Starfleet. 'Would he come back and teach,' they had asked him. Instincts told him to say no, but after careful thought, Tuvok was wondering if maybe he should go with his daughter and become one of the professors.
"Father! Father! Father!"
Tuvok was shaken out of his reverie by Juree who was running through the sand towards him, followed by her nephew who was chasing her. Throwing herself into his lap, Juree let out a peal of laughter as she climbed away from Mesnik.
"I nearly had you that time!" Mesnik shouted as a grin slipped over his features.
"Close your mouth, Mesnik. Juree, calm yourself." Tuvok slipped into the parenting role as he often did when the children were rowdy and there was no one to restrain them.
Mesnik balled his fists and squinched his eyes shut-- a habit that he used often and reminded Tuvok of Varith. When he had calmed himself down, Mesnik opened his eyes and gazed up at his grandfather.
"I am restrained."
Tuvok nodded once and then slid off the boulder with Juree still in his arms. "We shall return to the house. There is something I must discuss with your parents."
A few months later, Tuvok sat in his office reviewing the student roster, gold shouldered uniform and pips back in place. He would be teaching a course entitled 'Security 1101.' Not the most difficult of courses, but he would make it a challenge.
One name stood out from the group-- Cadet Hanson's-- as she was referred to on the roster. But Tuvok knew he would call her 'Seven' more often.
A movement at the door drew his attention. "Seven, come in." He regarded her with indifference, but was actually pleased to see an old crewmate.
"Thank you." She stepped inside and glanced over Tuvok's shoulder at the roster, her face paling slightly.
"Is something wrong?" Tuvok asked.
"Nothing." She answered, "I do not get along with K'Ratacha Nowak. And, I see she is in your class."
"Indeed." Tuvok raised an eyebrow. "When I was first assigned to serve with Captain Janeway, it was to both of our displeasure. Neither of us would have chosen the other. But, in time, we learned to work together and even became friends."
Tuvok would have continued, but another shadow fell over the door. This time, it as Asil and Juree.
"Seven, I would like for you to meet my daughter, Asil, and adopted daughter, Juree."
Seven nodded at the woman before her and eyed the child carefully.
"You look funny."
"Juree." Asil grabbed her by the arm. "I apologize, Seven, Father."
Seven tilted her head to the side. "It is irrelevant. She has never seen Borg before."
"That is true, but she must learn to restrain from thoughtless words." Tuvok opened his arms to invite the tot into them. She bounded to her father with a gleeful smile. "And, she must learn to restrain her emotions." Tuvok added giving her a hug.
Seven eyed the two. "You have become less restrained at demonstrating emotions." She stated observing the child with him.
Tuvok looked up suddenly. "Indeed, Seven. I have. I must rectify that immediately."