Spock can not breathe properly. His lungs are painfully tight and what little air he is managing to gasp does not seem to be sufficiently oxygenating his blood. His chest feels compressed. No matter how hard he tries to focus his thoughts and rebuild his shields, he is completely unable to do so. The failure layered upon failure is only causing these unbearable waves of vile emotion to increase in intensity.
Spock’s heart is pounding so hard against his ribs that it feels like the vital organ might escape through the side of his chest. He illogically pulls his arms into himself to keep it in place.
Spock is panicking.
Vulcans do not fear. They do not worry. They are not permitted angst or anxiety. To lower oneself to the point of sheer panic is the deepest shame. It is weak and it is human.
Spock. Is. Panicking.
His eyes are focused on his father, standing in the corner of the room staring back at him. Even though Spock’s vision is blurred and chaotic he can see the slight lines that have appeared on his father’s brow. He can feel the disappointment that prickles and sears where their minds lightly link.
From behind him, his mother’s fingertips brush across his back and start to slide around his arm - seeking to provide the kind of comfort her own human mother had so often bestowed. Amanda’s touch is brief and fluttering but to Spock it feels heavy and sharp - her worry and pain folding into his own.
He feels as alien in his own skin as he is in others eyes. The damage done is too great. He can shield nothing.
His bandaged hands clench into fists. It hurts intensely but the physical pain is easier to tolerate.
He pulls away from his mother - rejection leaping from her skin to his as they part. And in that moment, caught between his father's shame and his mother's sadness, Spock slowly starts to breathe again.
He knows now that he can not remain here.
The Starfleet dorms are compact, utilitarian and unadorned. Spock finds them satisfactory. Leonard McCoy disagrees - fundamentally, completely and rather loudly.
To this Georgia farm boy, San Francisco is grey and claustrophobic and starfleet communal housing is especially dense and colorless. And horrible. And cold. And packed full of egomaniac, incompetent, youth-addled wastlings. And germs.
He is already in a bad mood when he arrives - damp with rain and encumbered with a large cardboard box full of crap he probably should have left behind - to find a Vulcan sitting at a double desk in what he was repeatedly assured to be a single dorm room. Single - as in no goddamn roommate.
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me with this bullshit.”
Spock looks up at McCoy, seemingly unaffected by the unconventional greeting.
“I can assure you, Vulcan’s do not jest. Also, there is no excrement of any kind...”
Leonard’s groan is loud and exaggerated. Spock notes that it seems to match the volume of his voice and the uncontrolled nature of his hand gestures.
This human is very unlike his mother - Spock’s only empirical point of reference for typical behavior.
“Do you require medical attention?”
“Are you certain? I could...”
“Yes! I’m a fucking doctor. I would know.”
“Starfleet enrolls physicians who specialize in human sexual health?”
Spock mentally catalogs the elaborate and unnecessarily dramatic range of facial expressions this one human manages to conjure in the duration of only four sentences.
“I do not understand.”
“Join the fucking club.”
“I have no desire to engage in....”
“No! Ug. Stop. Stop. Just Stop.”
This is the first Vulcan McCoy has ever actually encountered and he was not aware that any Vulcan was or had ever been enrolled in Starfleet. The man standing before him is dressed in full uniform on a Saturday. His posture is perfect and his hair cut severe. The only things that keep him from falling completely within regulation are that his shoes remain neatly by the door and he is wearing thin black gloves.
When he sees Leonard looking at his hands, Spock folds them behind his back.
“Doctor Leonard McCoy,” McCoy says, shifting his weight awkwardly. He does not offer his hand. The only cultural sensitivity points he can remember at the moment are that Vulcans have copper based blood, are telepaths, are annoyingly unemotional, and not to fucking touch them.
“S’chn T’gai Spock,” Spock replies. Holding up one gloved hand in some sort of traditional Vulcan salute that McCoy vaguely recognizes.
“I’m never going to remember all that.”
This is the moment Jim Kirk shows up, kicking through the half open door - shirtless - with McCoy’s second box in hand.
“Jim!?” McCoy startles, “ It’s raining. Why the hell are you naked? Nevermind. I don’t want to know.”
Spock takes a step back.
“Found this in the hall,” Kirk answers, tilting his head toward the box. “I wanted to stop by and bring you a housewarming gift.” He sets the box on the counter and produces a bottle of Romulan ale.
Spock notes that Kirk is wearing regulation Starfleet Academy slacks that are wet, wrinkled and indecently low on his hips. His cadet shirt is twisted and tucked in a heap in the waistband of his pants.
It is inappropriate and disrespectful. He looks unruly and unkempt and unbefitting a Starfleet Cadet. He is also delivering illegal contraband.
Spock is appalled.
Spock thinks he is beautiful.
Kirk looks up at Spock, smiles wide and says “Hello.” as if not at all surprised to see a Vulcan standing at full attention in the center of the room. “Jim Kirk.”
“I take it this means he finally convinced you.” McCoy says, pulling two shot glasses out from his own box.
“No. Save it for later. I gotta run.” Jim waves his hand dismissively toward McCoy, winks at Spock then strolls back through the door, leaving it ajar.
Starfleet suddenly seem a bit more colorful.
Expectations are illogical.
It is not possible to accurately predict a new location or situation until all facts are known. Preparation and research produce the best results. Each experience is unique and assumptions have no quantifiable value.
Still, Starfleet Academy leaves Spock with a feeling of disappointment that lingers in his stomach no matter how long he meditates.
The Vulcan education system has imprinted on Spock a level of academic rigor and internal drive for knowledge that is unmatched in any known civilization in any known universe. The fact that Spock has always been deemed less-than has pushed him towards success with additional purpose.
He did not have the misconception that Starfleet Academy would compare in intensity to the Vulcan Science Academy, however he was not prepared for how lax his classmates would treat their course work and how much personal time he would be allotted.
Spock does not know how to fill this time. He searches for additional areas of study and research to supplement.
McCoy has said nothing negative to Spock directly about their current living situation, but acute Vulcan ears have overheard coms that have made the doctors discomfort clear.
“I already put in a complaint with housing but who knows how long that will fucking take. Jesus, I’m a doctor not a goddamn cultural ambassador.”
While Spock is still struggling to fully grasp McCoy colloquialisms, the meaning is not hard to discern.
As a result, Spock spends as much time as possible at the library in an attempt to unburden his new roomate. Despite being unwanted, and contrary to preconceived notions about Vulcan social habits, Spock has no desire to live in solitude.
He also recognizes that he needs to be able to interact successfully with humans in order to become a competent Starfleet officer. Despite it’s many alliances and vast galactic exploration, the organization remains a predominantly human one with predominantly human ideals.
Spock adds a list of Terran popular literature and vids to his research schedule. He also catalogues his conversations with his roommate for further review in hopes of better understanding his unique use of the common language. In addition he adds to his list the need to frequent common places of human social interaction. (However he has yet to actually visit the local drinking establishment which seems to be the most popular point of congregation.)
Spock thinks on these things each night as he meditates while McCoy sleeps - the light from his fire pot burning low in the dark room.
Deep meditation is sufficient mental and physical rest for the majority of Vulcans. Spock’s half human physiology requires that he also sleep a few hours each night. He has always considered this a weakness that has negated the amount of time available for productivity.
Sleep has another side effect which makes him further unique among Vulcans.
His dreams are nonsensical and illogical. They are human. Despite repeated and exhaustive efforts, he has never been able to cure himself of this ailment.
This also means that Spock has nightmares.
Spock has not slept in 3 months, 14 days and 10.65 hours. He has not slept since his injury.
Meditation is the only thing keeping him together. In his entire life, he has never been this tired.
Spock meets Nyota Uhura three weeks after classes begin.
He is sitting alone in the commissary eating a morning meal as per his standard routine, when a young woman comes to stand behind the chair across from him.
"Is this seat available?” she asks in competent Vulcan.
Spock raises one eyebrow. Her accent is immediately recognizable, but her pronunciation is better than any human he has ever heard, including his mother.
"You are free to sit.”
"Appreciated” She smiles genuinely and slides into the open chair. “Nyota Uhura, second year communications specialty. Live long and prosper.
“S’chn T’gai Spock, second year transfer, science and command specialities,” says Spock, returning the traditional salute.
"How long have you been on Earth?”
"36.8 Terran days.”
"How do you find it?”
She does not ask Spock any personal questions or to explain any aspects of Vulcan or it’s culture. He does not feel like a novelty. For the first time since leaving Vulcan (and perhaps for the first time ever) conversation flows easily.
She is intelligent and does not move her hands wildly when she speaks. They are in the same warp theory class and review notes. Uhura wants to improve her Vulcan and Spock wishes to improve his social skills. A friendship is logical and perhaps....pleasant.
"How do you find it?” He asks.
"Find what?” Uhura replies, dabbing the corner of her mouth between bites of egg.
She smiles and glances around the room as if expecting to find the answer here. One woman waves at her from across the room. She looks back at Spock and nods.
This is the first time Spock has accompanied Uhura to the local drinking establishment and the second time he meets Jim Kirk.
The bar is dark and crowded in excess of what Spock would consider an appropriate number of persons given the rooms dimensions.
It is a mix of locals and cadets. People stand too close and speak too loud. The floor appears unsanitary for an establishment in which food is consumed.
Spock wants to leave.
Uhura leads him through the mass of people to the back of the room with one hand on his gloved wrist.
People brush up against him. Happiness. Sadness. Excitement. Nervousness. Anger. Arousal. Confusion. Spock is over-exposed. Emotions sizzle and pop in the air around him. It is unpleasant and hard to push away.
Uhura sits at a small empty table. Despite his best efforts, his discomfort must show on his face.
“We can leave.”
“That would be illogical. We have just arrived.”
“Hmmm.” She makes a noise in her throat and looks at him carefully. “Have you ever had alcohol before?”
“Alcohol has no effect on Vulcans.”
She raises one eyebrow at him - a gesture that he knows she is mimicking off one he often makes himself.
“No. I have never had alcohol.”
“I will be right back.” She glances around the bar. “Stay here.”
Spock wonders where she thought he might go.
Uhura returns with two small glass cups, each filled with a clear liquid.
“Vodka.” She presses the glass to her lips and tips it back, shallowing the entirety of its contents in one sip. “When in Rome.” She places the empty glass back on the table.
“We are not in Rome. We are in San Francisco.”
“It’s a human expression. ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do.’ You know, try new things. Adapt to new situations.”
Spock does not know, but he drinks the alcohol anyway, mimicking Uhura's single-sip.
Spock does not like Vodka. It is sharp and burning and hot down his throat. It reminds him of fire.
Alcohol does not affect Vulcans, but Spock is not fully Vulcan. Vodka, evidently, does affect Spock. It reminds him of weakness.
Uhura is smiling at his sour face. “Water for you then, I take it.”
Uhura does enjoy Vodka. And Terran dance music and a game called pool. She is currently explaining the rules to Spock. It seems to be a simple game of physics and geometry that any Vulcan child could easily master.
Uhura is bending over the table with her cue to start the game when Kirk approaches from behind.
He whistles. Spock notices that he is staring at her backside in way that does not seem polite, even for Terrans.
“Fuck off, Kirk,” she says without even turning around.
“Uhura. tisk tisk. That’s no way to talk in front of the Vulcan.” Kirk makes eye contact with Spock and smiles with his entire face from chin to brow. “Hello again Spock.” He then turns back to Uhura. “I’ll buy you a drink if you tell me your first name. Actually, fuck it, I’ll cover your tab if you kiss me and we can leave the name a mystery.”
“Is it common on Terra to exchange monetary goods and services for gestures of intimacy?” Spock asks with genuine curiosity.
“No!” Uhura responds immediately, “Although, Jim is such a slut it would not shock me if he had.” Jim is laughing.
“Are you a prostitute by trade?”
He laughs harder. “No. I consider my gifts a community service - to the benefit of all!”
Uhura rolls her eyes. “You are such an arrogant asshole. I will never understand how you get everyone to sleep with you.”
“Your roommate would disagree.”
“If this is a sales pitch, it sucks.”
Jim laughs and takes a sip of alcohol from a brown glass bottle. The label is peeled away as if he has been picking at it, preventing Spock from accurately gaging it’s contents. (However, based on the beverages stocked in McCoy’s refrigerator at Starfleet, Spock is guessing that it is some sort of beer.)
“Go on being a shrew.” He turns his body towards Spock, “What do you say? I’ll buy you a drink. Come dance with me.”
“Vulcans do not drink and...”
Uhura laughs. “You just assume that every single life form you meet wants your dick.”
Jim leans into Uhura, his face close to hers. Long fingers reach up and tuck a stray hair behind her ear. He whispers, “because they do.”
Despite her harsh words, Uhura blushes. Spock turns away from them. It is the only way he can prevent himself from staring at Kirk’s hands in the same demeaning way Jim was just staring at Uhura's ass.
Uhura and Kirk continue to exchange insults, but to Spock’s surprise she hands him a pool cue and he joins their game as if such a happening is common place.
McCoy arrives later in the evening and also joins them at the pool table. He does not play as well as Jim or Spock.
“Jim, you are such an idiot. Stop hitting on the hobgoblin.” McCoy shakes his head at Kirk and at the ball that teeters on the edge but does not fall into the hole.
“Cadet Kirk has never attempted to strike me.”
“You’re funny.” Jim smiles at Spock.
“Humor has no value among Vulcans.”
“You aren't among Vulcans.”
Spock nods once. “Indeed.”
Spock has received an informal request to visit Admiral Christopher Pike, the Starfleet officer primarily responsible for Spock’s recruitment.
Pike did not indicate what time would be best to meet, he simply said “stop by,” which Spock finds vague and slightly irritating.
He can hear laughter as he nears the door to Pike’s office. Spock immediately recognizes the voice as Kirk's.
As Spock enters the room he can see him seated opposite Admiral Pike, slouched down in his chair with his feet crossed and resting on the Admiral's desk.
Kirk's behavior and demeanor are consistently alarming.
Both men look up when Spock taps on the door.
“I see that you are currently engaged in a meeting. If you will indicate an appropriate time, I will return when you are available.”
“No, please come in.” Pike gestures toward to remaining empty chair beside Kirk, who thankfully places his shoes back onto the floor. “Have you meet Jim Kirk? Jim this is Spock.”
“We have previously been introduced.”
“Uh oh,” Pike laughs.
“I was good. I swear.” Jim puts his hands up in mock self defence. Spock is not sure that ‘good’ is the appropriate descriptor, but he does not comment.
“Jim will be one of our greatest starship captains some day. Well, if he can make it through the academy that is.”
“This seems an illogical conclusion. How can you be confident of his success as a captain if you are uncertain he has the skills to graduate Starfleet?”
“The two are not the same,” Pike laughs. “Did you know Jim’s father was an honored Starfleet captain? Some people are just made for the stars.”
“And, I do not plan on following in his footsteps. Excuse me, I am late.” Jim looks suddenly awkward and out of place. He leaves with hurried steps.
“I have been trying to convince him to enroll since he was 15. Stubborn bastard.”
Spock now remembers reading the name Kirk before.
“Captain George Kirk of the USS Kelvin.”
George Kirk was captain of the USS Kelvin for 14.35 minutes before piloting his own ship on a collision course into enemy fire to save his evacuated crew - of which included his wife and newly born son, James Tiberius Kirk.
The good of the many outweighs the good of the few, or the one. Vulcans consider the choice a logical one. Humans think him a hero.
Spock finds this information disparate from what he has observed of Kirk and agrees that he finds it unlikely that he will follow in the honorable footsteps of his father.
“How are you enjoying Starfleet so far?”
“Vulcans do not take on academic endeavors for enjoyment.”
“Yes, sorry. How are you settling in?”
“I have found the accommodations satisfactory.”
“If there is anything you need please feel free to come to me at any point. It is important to all of us that you are happy here.”
“Vulcans are not happy.”
“I have known your father a very long time, since before he became ambassador to Earth even. I do not know many Vulcans, but I would like to think that he is happy.”
Spock has never really stopped to consider whether or not his father would consider himself happy.
“I would like to put in a request to enroll in additional courses next term.”
“Spock, you are already taking a double course load with a dual emphasis. Let’s not push it too far. I don’t want the stress to...I...How is your health?”
Due to his close relationship with Spock’s father, Admiral Pike is one of the few members of Starfleet who knows the full story of what happened to Spock and the lasting consequences of that day. A knowledge of which Spock is very aware.
“I am in excellent health and have satisfactory scores in all of my classes.”
“I have been informed that you have not been in contact with your parents or a Vulcan healer since arriving on Earth. Your father has asked me to check in on you and to relay his desire to hear from you more frequently.”
Pike smiles but he looks sad.
Spock waits for McCoy to go out for the evening before attempting to holo his parents.
Even when he has the small apartment to himself he finishes an unimportant assignment and rearranges some of his personal belongings. He tells himself that he is busy, not nervous.
The call takes a few moments to connect but soon he is looking at his mother on the screen. It is early in the morning on Vulcan and she is still wearing a light blue nightgown of Terran origin that he knows she prefers over stiff Vulcan sleepwear.
Amanda immediately starts to cry, although she tries not to let it show.
“Oh Spock! I am so glad you called. I miss you, baby, so much. How are you doing?”
“I am well mother.”
She tells him about the current welfare of his pet sehlat (Spock is glad to hear of her good health but does not say so) and about the recent sand storms that have decreased crop production on parts of Vulcan and his father's latest peace talks.
“Are you well, Spock? Are you eating well and sleeping. You look so...thin.”
Spock is not able to lie well in general and has never been able to lie to his mother.
“My health is satisfactory. I am...I am trying, Mother.”
This time her tears do fall, just a few that she is unable to contain. “I am so sorry Spock. Your hands...I...I love you Spock. I am so sorry.”
"The trial starts in 2 weeks, are you sure that you do not--"
“I must tend to my studies. Please say hello to Father for me.”
“Spock, wait. I...When I first moved to Vulcan everything seemed so strange and different. I felt like I might never be happy here. But, it was only temporary. I have never regretted this journey.”
Spock nods. “Live long and prosper. Goodbye Mother.”
He ends the call.
Spock fulfills his Father’s second request a week later.
Taking public transportation from the Starfleet campus to the Vulcan Embassy is loud and unpleasant but highly efficient.
He arrives early for his appointment and waits in the lobby. It has been 43.78 Earth days since he has been in the presence of another Vulcan. Being here now, he does not find the sense of home that he thought he might. He feels very much a stranger.
“S’chn T’gai Spock."
"I am Spock."
Spock follows the Vulcan woman through the medical bay and into a private room where a Vulcan healer is waiting.
They exchange customary greetings minus any of the human pleasantries Spock was not aware he had become used to.
The healer records all of Spocks data: height, weight, temperature, continuing down the list. He enters each into Spock's medical history on a data padd.
“Earth has not favored your health.”
Spock says nothing.
“Please remove your compression gloves to allow me to determine the level of healing of your previous injuries.”
Spock slowly removes the black gloves. He takes them off only when he showers. They stopped being medically necessary 62.23 days ago but he does not want to reveal his scars or risk touching another being skin to skin.
“Has your telepathy or shielding improved.”
Spock shakes his head.
The healer runs several tests. He is careful to never touch Spock at any point during the process.
“There is no change since your last exam. Do not expect any further healing to occur. It is unlikely that you will ever be able to successfully perform a mind meld and thus will be unable to take a proper mate.”
“I am aware.”
“Increase the level of copper in your diet for proper health. It is not easy with the limited dietary options available on Earth but you must make the effort. That is all.”
Spock is uncertain why he is upset. None of this information is new and to expect a change to have occurred would be illogical. He knows better, but he still feels worse.
On the long bus ride home his hands will not stop shaking. He tries to meditate in his seat, willing himself to calm so as not to make a public display of his inner despair.
When he gets home the apartment is empty. Spock closes the door with a quiet click. He stand silents for a minute, back against the solid metal door, then allows himself to fall apart.
This is the third time Spock has accompanied Uhura to the local drinking establishment.
They are seated in the back of the room at one of the few tables. Uhura has had several drinks and is now talking about Jim Kirk.
“What an arrogant asshole.” She sets her glass down a little too hard and some of it spills. Spock wipes it up with a red paper napkin. “He thinks he can have whatever he wants whenever he wants it. Well, he is not getting any of this.”
She makes an aggravated noise and gestures towards herself and then towards Kirk who is in the middle of the room playing pool. He has his arms wrapped around an Orion woman who is currently playing the game. Spock recognizes her as one of the few other non-humans currently enrolled in Starfleet.
She plays poorly. Spocks thinks that perhaps it would be easier to be successful at billiards without a humanoid clinging to your back. But based on her laughter, she is either not bothered by Kirk or not interested in winning the game.
Spock observes the majority of the Starfleet Cadets present gradually becoming inebriated, leading to a loss of inhibition and an increase in volume and emotion. Spock can feel the buzz of it against the skin on his neck and face.
He expends a significant effort each day to ensure that such a lapse never occurs. It is inexplicable to him that these Terrans not only willingly participate but seem to find so much joy in the loss of control.
He pays attention to Uhura, covers her tab, and buys her a bottle of water. He thinks that there seems to be a sort of underlying sexism in the assumption that human females are not able to procure their own alcohol, however, based on his observations, this seems to be the standard practice.
While he listens to Uhura talk, he occasionally glances up to observe Kirk.
When he bends over the table his shoulders pull at his shirt, revealing skin on his back and stomach. After winning one of the games he leans into the man standing next to him and connects his mouth to the other cadet’s. Kirk’s arm is still around the Orion woman. Everyone around them is laughing. Spock feels his ears burn and he is glad that the bar is too dark for Uhura to notice his blush.
Their tongues touch. This is an illogical and unhygienic display of affection.
Spock can not seem to look away.
The fight breaks out as Uhura and Spock are preparing to leave.
Several Cadets in full uniform approach Kirk. At first, the dialogue is too low for even Spock to hear over the music and combined voices of the other patrons. But, as one of the cadets steps deeper and deeper into Kirk’s personal space his voice get increasingly loud.
This is illogical. At a closer proximity one’s volume need only decrease for proper communication.
Spock can now hear words like “Waste.” “Hick.” “Pathetic.” “Faggot.” and “Father.”
Kirk is smiling and appears unaffected until the latter. He drops his pool cue and swings, hitting the cadet in the face and splitting his lip.
The cadet and his friends are immediately on Kirk, punching, kicking and yelling. Kirk appears to be a competent fighter but the odds are not in his favor. Most of Kirk’s friends, including McCoy, have long gone home. Spock notes that the man who had previously been kissing Kirk stands aside and does nothing to intervene.
Two of the men slam Kirk’s back against the pool table and hold him down while the original aggressor leans over him, speaking quietly.
He takes out a cigarette and a lighter, which he flicks open inches from Kirk’s face.
At the sight of a spark, Spock is accross the room with alien speed.
He grabs the cadet, lifts him off the ground and easily tosses him into the wall. People are screaming and the collective adrenaline warms Spock’s skin.
His boot comes down on the man hand, smashing his fingers and permanently extinguishing the tiny flame. He then turns and takes on the rest of the men.
Spock is no longer aware of his own actions.
The brush of Kirk’s hand against his neck is as effective as a hypospray. It shocks him and calms him. He finds himself leaning over the pool table with his hand wrapped about the throat of a terrified first-year Starfleet cadet who is seconds from losing consciousness. There are three men on the ground. The felt of the table is marred with blood - red and green.
Spock’s hands are shaking and his breath is unsteady. He bites his tongue bloody fighting the panic and the shame and the overwhelming anger.
Kirk’s fingers remain lightly pressed at the stop of his spine. Kirk's mine is calm amid a sea of chaos. Spock does not seek to disconnect them.
Spock and Kirk are both arrested.
They are detained in separate cells but can hear and see each other through the clear field.
Spock sits rigid and silent and watches Kirk, who is sprawled out on the single bench in his cell. One of his eyes is swollen shut. The other is voluntarily closed. His face is swollen and modeled. His hands are bruised.
Spock wonders if they will receive a dishonorable discharge from Starfleet.
“Was it your Dad?” Kirk asks suddenly without opening his eye.
“I do not understand your meaning.”
“People with normal upbringings don’t just react like that. So, who was it? Your Dad? I would guess cigarette burns from the way that lighter set you off, but I seriously doubt any Vulcan would see the logic in smoking.”
“My Father is highly honored and a member of the Vulcan High Council.”
Kirk laughs but it sounds like a choke.
“My Father is not violent.” Spock responds again when the silence drags on. He almost says Vulcans are not violent but he stops himself. Vulcans do not lie.
Kirk rolls onto his side and opens his one good eye. His lip is split but he curls his mouth into a half smile anyway. It fades.
Kirk does not look away.
The silence is interrupted by a police officer who wolf whistles as he turns the corner.
“Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy. It’s been awhile. I was almost starting to miss you. What the fuck have you been up to?”
Kirk stands and connects his fist with the officer's in what appears to be a friendly gesture.
“Any way we can take a slap on the wrist and just walk this one off?”
Spock researched the Terran legal system and local California laws before moving to Earth and can not recall any punishments which involve being hit on the wrist or taking strolls.
“Sorry man. Your friend really did a number on those guys. This one is way over my head. I called Bones though, and am trying to at least get you out on bail tonight.” The officer shrugs. “I’m not sure about the Vulcan though.”
“Thanks Josh,” Kirk says. “I’ll give Gaila your number - see if she’s interested.”
“Shit.” The officer smirks and runs his hand through his hair. “I’ll push - see if there is anything else I can do.”
The two men touch knuckles again and the officer walks back down the hall. Spock can not help but think about the implications of such a gesture on Vulcan and how casual it seems here. He runs his fingertips over his own knuckles. Through the thin material of his gloves he can feel the scars.
Kirk lays back down the on bench and drapes his elbow over his face. He is quiet again for a long time.
“It was my Step-Dad.”
Spock holds his breath. He watches Kirk’s chest rise and fall seven times before Kirk speaks again.
“Never cigarettes - just fists and alcohol.”
Spock does not reply.
Leonard McCoy and Admiral Pike arrive within 3.45 minutes of each other.
“For fucks sake Jim, only you could be a bad influence on a goddamn Vulcan.” Pike shakes his head. Spock thinks he looks older and somehow more human in the middle of the night in civilian clothes.
McCoy just snorts. He is wearing pajama pants, an overcoat and some sort of fluffy indoor footwear. He appears to also be holding one of Spock’s jackets.
Pike sighs. He is serious now. “Well, you broke Mitchell’s jaw and three of his fingers. Certainly painful, but everyone will be fine. The police are handing you both over to Starfleet for disciplinary action in hopes that this does not become an inter-planetary incident.”
“Cadet Mitchell and his accomplices held Cadet Kirk down with the intent to burn and disfigure him, Sir. Intervention became necessary.”
“What?” Kirk looks confused and Spock is not certain why. “I mean he beat the shit out of me and was talking crap about my father, but fire? Spock? He was just lighting a cigarette.”
Spock’s hands tighten behind his back. Images flash behind his eyes of fire. Of hands holding him down. Of lips against his ear. You will never be one of us. Of excruciating pain.
Spock opens his eyes and looks at Kirk. He looks worried.
Spock just got into a bar fight. He broke a fellow cadet’s jaw over a cigarette. Nothing seems quite right.
“I am emotionally compromised,” Spock says. “I am not able to perform -”
“No.” Pike looks and sounds like an Admiral again. “No. Please, go home and get some sleep and we will discuss disciplinary action in the morning - for all involved. I will call the Vulcan Embassy. I....I know what happened....and I..” Pike glance at Kirk then McCoy, very aware of the presence of so many ears. “I understand.”
“I do not.” Is all Spock can manage to say.
“I know.” Pike turns to McCoy, “You can take them home?”
“I’ll get both Jim and the hobgoblin all tucked in,” McCoy says. “I’m Jim’s doctor and his fucking babysitter.”
McCoy hands Spocks the jacket as they exit the police station.
Without it, Spock would feel ice cold.
McCoy uses a dermal regenerator and a liberal number of hypos on Jim. He attempts to do the same to Spock, but is repeatedly refused.
Spock learns that bailing Jim out of jail after a barfight is somewhat of a tradition which is followed by the ritual of sharing a bottle of illegal Romulan ale while sitting on the floor.
He attempts to point out the illogic of becoming intoxicated after one has participated in a public, drunken brawl. But he is only offered a glass, which he declines.
Spock prepares himself a cup of Vulcan tea instead and sits with his long legs folded under him on the floor next to the two drunk men.
“I thought you were past all this stupid, irresponsible, rebellious farm-boy bullshit.” McCoy is grumbling at Kirk. “Reformed or whatever total crap you were spewing at the beginning of the term. Why the hell join Starfleet and continue with this?”
“Aw, Bones,” Jim spills some of his drink onto the floor. Spock stares at the wet drops. “Your concern is so touching.”
McCoy makes a grunting noise. “Don’t fuck this up. I can’t come bail you out after they strap me into a tin can and shoot my ass off into space.”
“Starfleet has some of the safest and most technically advanced military starships in the universe. None of them are composed of tin.” Spock breaks his silence.
“Bones is afraid to fly.”
“Why do you insist on calling Doctor Leonard McCoy ‘Bones’ when you are intoxicated?”
“Doctor Sawbones.” Jim giggles.
Spock thinks that sounds a bit barbaric. “It is illogical to join starfleet if one is afraid to fly into space. Why not choose a different area of practice?”
Drunk and slurring, Bones says a bit too loudly, “I am only here because, in all honestly, I have no place else to be.”
“I confess I find myself in my present location under similar circumstances.” Spock’s voice is far quieter and distinctly sober. This is the most personal information he has ever shared.
Jim laughs. “Well, aren’t we just the saddest pile of shit I have ever seen. To rejects and losers!“
“It would not be possible to attend Starfleet Academy had one been rejected. It is illogical to …”
“Cheers.” Bones and Jim intercede in unison.
Spocks pauses momentarily, then mimics their gesture and clinks his cup of tea against their shot glasses.
Bones and Jim sleep in the same bed. The doctor snores and Jim curls himself around him. Spocks sits alone. He does not sleep.
He uses his personal data padd to access the Starfleet personnel records of James T. Kirk and finds that they do not exist. This is an unexpected result and one that requires further investigation.
Hands are holding Spock down. He is screaming but no one is listening. The air is putrid with smoke and burnt flesh. One minute they are hurting him and next he is watching them hurt Jim.
These illogical transitions in time and space are the only way he can be certain that he is dreaming. It is otherwise overwhelming real.
Spock is screaming.
He fights and he fights but grips tighten and pressure increases. He wants to wake up.
Jim is screaming his name but he can not seem to get close enough no matter how fast he runs. A Vulcan man leans over Jim. He pulls out a lighter. Spark and flame and fire.
McCoy slaps him and suddenly Spock is awake. He is sprawling unseemingly on his meditation mat on the floor by his bed. He did not intend to fall asleep. (He intends to never fall asleep again, if possible)
Spock can not breathe properly.
He gasps and struggles and pulls himself away from McCoy hands, which have moved to his throat. For a brief irrational moment he thinks that McCoy is going to kill him.
“Shit! Jim, grab my tricorder. In my desk.”
Jim watches Spock carefully.
“The fuck? Jim? Tricoder! Now! Or he is going to fucking pass out.”
Every breath is painful and in this state he does not have to touch Jim or McCoy to feel the powerful pull of their collective fear.
McCoy is reaching towards his throat again. “I am just going to feel your pulse.”
“I...” Spock gasps. “I am not....” ragged uneven gulps. “human.”
Spock can still smell smoke. He tries to tell himself that it is only in his mind, but illogic is currently winning this mental battle.
He wills his fingers to work and guides McCoy hand to a spot just below his armpit.
Spocks pulse is strong but wild and irregular and McCoy is awash in the knowledge that in this particular moment all of his medical knowledge is completely fucking worthless. He is a human with a human’s knowledge in a universe filled with more others than himselves.
Jim hands McCoy a tricorder and kneels beside Spock with a glass of water. He rests his hand on the back of Spock neck again - on the same few inches of skin he had touched the night before.
Everything hurts, but it hurts less. His hands ache and his lungs burn and his head feels like it might explodes from the pressure trying to escape and the pressure of trying to hold it all in. Each breath is slightly easier than the last until finally he is breathing regularly again.
“What the fuck happened.” McCoy is continuously recording data and analysing Spock, searching for an answer.
“I do not require further assistance. I am sorry to have woken you.”
“Oh no. That is not how this is fucking.....”
“He had a panic attack.” Jim sounds certain.
“He is a green-blooded, Vulcanized robot. A panic attack? You’ve gotta be kidding me.”
McCoy looks at Spock. His silence appears to be answer enough for the doctor.
McCoy digs through his medical bag and pulls out a hypo. “Can I even give you this?” It is a human medicine for sleep and relaxation.
“It would not be wise. My body reacts negatively to most Terran medications.”
McCoy turns to Jim, “Well at least get some of that voodoo Vulcan tea or something.”
McCoy spends the rest of the weekend bent over padds reading, glancing up to monitor Spock at regular intervals as if to make sure he is still breathing.
He asks Spock if he can check his resting pulse 3 times in two days. When he touches Spock, the genuine concern that comes off Leonard McCoy is not what Spock expects.
Leonard's words are antagonistic and angry but his emotions hint at a friendship.
Spock thinks of Uhura and Jim at the bar. He thinks of the insults exchanged between Leonard and Jim when it is clear that the two share a genuine affection.
“Why do humans use insults and negativity to express feelings of friendship?”
“It’s called sarcasm and not all humans do it. Just the assholes.”
“All humans have assholes. I do not understand.”
“Humans are not logical,” Leonard says with a laugh. “Don’t bother trying to understand us. We are all idiots.”
Spock is surprised to see that the disciplinary hearing is just a small, informal meeting. He had expected the highest degree of prosecution given the violent nature of his transgression.
The only people present are Admiral PIke, two additional Starfleet officials, Spock, Jim, Mitchell and and three other men that were involved in the altercation.
“Let’s get this out of the way so we can move onto something productive shall we.
No one involved has pressed charges so thankfully the police are not going to be involved and this will stay between you and Starfleet. What happened this weekend was absolutely ridiculous and I hope that all of you can get your heads out of your asses and see that.
I have gotten conflicting first hand accounts of who actually started this whole thing and it happened off campus and out of my jurisdiction.
So, I am giving you all of a demerit for behavior unbecoming an officer and ordering all of you to attend an anger management class, a alcohol abuse seminar and one weekend of cultural sensitivity training.
If anything at least the boredom will be a reminder not to fuck up again and it will keep you out of the bars for a few weekends. Now, everyone get out of here.”
Pike gestures towards to door.
“Spock, please stay.”
Spock remains seated while the rest of the cadets and officials exit the room. Jim hangs in the doorway but Pike insists that he also leave.
“I need an honest answer this time Spock. Is everything okay? Do I need to require that you see a Starfleet physician?’
Spock hesitates. “I am still transitioning to life on Earth. There have been some challenges, however I am attempting to adapt.” Spock thinks of Uhura, one of his few success. “When in Rome, correct?”
Pike laughs and the mood feels lighter. “Perhaps you behaved a bit too much like the Romans. A middle ground next time, alright? How is your health? Is this whole thing” -He gestures toward and around Spocks hands, uncertain of what to say - ”affecting you emotionally?”
“Vulcans do not....” Spock stops. “Yes.” The word barely escapes his lips. “But, I am making efforts to improve the situation.”
“That is all I can ask. Feel free to skip the alcohol and cultural trainings. I see no need, but perhaps the anger is not such a bad idea.”
Uhura calls Spock a hero. He finds her reasoning irrational.
Cadet Mitchell’s behavior was not acceptable, but neither was Spock’s. In their violence they were all collectively less than their potential and he considers himself deserving of the demerit he received.
Jim’s friends seem to disagree. Numerous cadets, the majority of which have never previously acknowledged Spock, congratulate him in the commissary and several new faces join Spock and Uhura for their morning meal.
“Spock, this is my roommate Gaila and this is Scotty and Pavel Chekov.”
Spock recognizes Gaila as the Orion cadet that is often with Jim. Based on his initial observation he had assumed they were mated but has now come to believe that is not the case.
“Live long and prosper.”
They each say hello and proceed with their meal - talking loudly and, in Scotty’s case, with their mouths full. It is not the most peaceful meal Spock has ever had but he is certainly not lonely.
About half way through breakfast Jim and McCoy arrive at their table. Jim asks Uhura to scoot down and takes a seat next to Spock.
Jim recounts a hyperbolized tale of the fight, including a dramatic reenactment of the proceedings using a hotdog, several green beans, and one large splat of a thick red Terran sauce called catsup.
Spock attempts to not watch, but Jim is surprisingly engaging and keeps the attention of the entire table.
“A Vulcan, huh?” Gaila laughs, wagging her eyebrows at Jim in a way that appears suggestive. “Uncharted territory? That doesn’t happen to you very often does it.”
“Is the pot calling the settle slut?”
“Slut?” Gaila mocks offense. “I’m just an innocent little Orion girl. I think this cultural sensitivity training will do some good.”
Jim rolls his eyes and flicks a green bean in her direction. She picks it up from the edge of her plate with a smile.
“It has been a long time since I have seen a green cock,” she says as she swallows it. “I miss it.” She pouts out her lower lip to express her disappointment.
Spock chokes on his soup and the entire table erupts in laughter.
Jim pats Spock on the back as he coughs.
“That action does not actually aid a humanoid who is choking. I believe it is what you would refer to as an “old wife’s tale.” Which is an illogical expression, as human wives do not have tails."
“I know.” Jim keeps his hand on Spock's back for a few moments, even after he is breathing normally again.
Spock finds, that without any attempt on his part, he has a new standard routine. While he was previously alone the majority of the time, he now finds himself often with company.
This feeling of being invited is new to him and he finds himself at times overwhelmed and in need of quiet.
Spock goes shopping for Terran civilian clothing as he finds his current wardrobe of Starfleet uniforms and Vulcan formal wear to now be inappropriate outside of classes.
He has a hard time finding items that fit him correctly. He finds a majority of Terran clothing to be too flimsy and soft. Too revealing. Too colorful.
On many occasions he ends up with a compromise, Terran shirts with stiff Vulcan pants and his ever present gloves and Vulcan boots.
While in the market he finds a small pair of silver ear rings of a Swahili design that he believes Nyota will enjoy. He purchases them for her. She now wears them frequently and Spock is glad that he is able to contribute something to her person of which she is fond.
This is the aspect of human friendship he had previously not been able to understand - as he was only a witness, not a participant - this give and take.
It is somehow more than he thought it would be.
He finds the young Russian, Chekhov to be an adequate study partner with an equal mind for mathematics and science.
Gaila is attempting to teach Spock how to dance. (with uncertain results, although she is not deterred and seems to be positive about the overall outcome.)
Jim sees Spock reading a Terran novel off of his data padd. The next day he presents Spock with a small wrapped gift.
“This paper covering serves no purpose. It is a waste to simply tear it into trash after serving no function.”
Jim rolls his eyes. “It is part of human gift giving. Just be a good Vulcan and participate.”
Spock carefully un-tapes each edge and avoids making any creases to the paper. He silently admonishes himself for not following the proper procall when he presented Nyota with a present and makes a mental note to adjust his behavior in the future.
His efforts reveal an antique Terran novel made out of cloth and paper.
The book is titled A Hitchhiker Guide to the Galaxy. "You need more comedy in your life." He shrugs. “It belonged to my Father.”
"I can not accept something so valuable."
"I have tons of them. He was a bit of a hoarder, collector, whatever. I am not going to be able to bring them all into space with me. I'd rather you have it."
“Is this collection of literature not available on padd?” Spock asks.
“Trust me, it’s much better this way,” He pauses.
"Better is vague."
When Spock returns home that evening he displays the colorful gift paper on his wall above his meditation mat. He uses the small blue stars as points of focus on days when his mental balance is precarious and he is in need of aid.
Spock fails the Kobayashi Maru.
Spock knows that it is not possible to succeed at the Kobayashi Maru so to expect any outcome other than simulated death would be illogical.
He takes the test step by step choosing each command carefully and weighing each option to its fullest and most logical conclusion.
In the end lights are flashing and alarms are blaring and it is clear that there are no further options available and no way to save his crew.
The rational part of Spock’s mind knows that they are safe in a Starfleet training facility but there is a part of him that is certain he is about to die.
He has felt this same feeling before.
He takes deep, almost meditative breaths to keep the terror from crawling through his chest in order to finish the simulation and be excused.
He is not confident that he will someday be one of Starfleet’s greatest captains. Nor is he confident that he can live up to his promise to Pike on his continuing emotional improvements.
Spock barely makes it back to his dorm room. He fights to stay conscious on the turbolift. Each and every breath is it’s own struggle.
He slides to his knees as soon as the door is closed behind him and he is safe in the apartment. His body crumples in half. He is no longer aware of what is happening around him.
Fingertips press into his side under his arm and then slide downward across his ribs, hand over his heart.
A hypo hisses and stings against his neck.
“Just fucking breathe,” a gruff whisper near his ear.
McCoy takes his temperature and feels his pulse again.
“Don’t worry, the hypo is just a Vulcan respiratory aid. You have had it before with no reactions.”
Spocks lungs fill with air and the room is soon crisp and solid once again.
“You have researched Vulcan anatomy and healing methods.”
“Yeah, well, turns out the alien anatomy and first aid training here completely sucks. I’m the best fucking doctor in Starfleet, if I can’t keep my own roommate alive then I might as well give up now.”
“I was under the impression that you did not like me.”
“I don’t like anyone.”
“You like Jim.”
“Least all of Jim,” McCoy says with a smile.
“You knew I was not allergic to the hypo.”
“Jim hacked into my medical file.”
“How do you know?”
“He has also erased all of his own records.”
Spock lifts one eyebrow.
“It was my idea. And he didn’t give me the whole thing. Huge portions of it are blacked out and he kept it that way. I just do not want to be helpless again.”
Spock nods. “Nor do I.”
“I would like to ask you a question of a sexual nature.”
Jim's hand slips on the tricorder that he has in pieces on his desk. He cuts his finger.
“Shit.” He sucks the drops of blood into his mouth. “You gotta warm up to that or something. Ok, shoot.”
“I do not have a phaser.”
“Ask your sexual question.”
“Do you enjoy being anally penetrated?”
Jim laughs, somewhat nervously.
“Wow. Uh. Okay. Uh. Yes I do...”
“I have been doing research in regards to a successful emotional and sexual relationship with a human male and the act of anal penetration seems illogical to me. Can you please elaborate?”
“Jesus. Spock, are you even gay?”
“This line of questioning would be illogical if I were not romantically interested in men.”
“What about Uhura?”
“I do not understand your meaning.”
“I mean. Does she know that you’re gay? Did you guys break up? I just saw her yesterday and everything seemed fine. She already hates me as it is, if I fucked her boyfriend.....”
“I do not plan on engaging in sexual congress with you at this time. Uhura and I are not romantically involved, nor have we ever been.”
“Does she know that?”
“I mean, it I really thought you guys were dating. Everyone does. And she seems totally into you.”
“I do not understand how it is possible that Uhura and I are in a romantic relationship without my knowledge or consent, while you Gaila frequently engage in sexual congress and are only friends.”
“Um. Well, I don’t know. You are together all the time. You have secrets. You pay for her drinks and buy her gifts. I mean, you are pretty much dating her.”
“By those qualifications you and I are also currently engaged in a romantic relationship. And I believe also yourself and Leonard McCoy.”
“What? Um.. " Jim blushes. "Shit. When did this get so complicated?”
“You claim to have extensive experience in human sexuality. It seemed logical that you would know.”
“The truth is Spock, I have no fucking idea. But, your original question, butt sex is great and I recommend you try it.”
“Wait, you said you did not plan on engaging in sexual congress with me at this time. Does that mean you plan on it sometime?”
“Are you currently under the impression that we are engaged in a romantic relationship?”
Uhura stops eating her plomeek soup. She sets down her spoon and does that sad-smile human face that Spock knows he will never be able to emulate.
“No,” she answers after a moments pause. “I know that we are not. There is a part of me, probably a bigger part than I want to admit, that has hoped for a long time now that we might become something one day, but I know that it not a....logical....thing to wish for.”
Spock nods and continues eating. “I apologize if my behavior has not always been that of only a friend. It has recently been pointed out to me that my actions could be construed as romantic in nature. I was not aware.”
“I know. You have always been honest, Spock.”
“Your friendship has come to mean a great deal to me.”
She smiles. This time it is genuine and warm.
“It is ok if you like him, Spock. I may have said otherwise in the past, but he is not a bad guy.”
“I do not know your meaning.”
“Yes you do.”
Jim Kirk passes the Kobayashi Maru.
This outcome is unexpected. The Kobayashi Maru has a zero percent chance of success.
It is the third time that Jim has attempted the Kobayashi Maru. He failed the first two attempts.
He asks Spock three times if he will serve as his first officer during the simulation. Spock refuses at first having no desire to participate a second time and thinking the entire endeavor concerningly irrational.
Spock finally agrees to go as long as McCoy also attends as one of the bridge crew.
Uhura, Gaila and Chekov fill in the rest of the necessary positions.
Spock fights off anxiety. Remaining calm is just as critical in an emergency situation as knowing the right answers.
The test proceeds normally until the Klingon vessels attack. Jims hands fly over the keyboard at Chekov’s station. He does not deliver any commands.
The entire crew stands in shock as their small simulated ship defeats the warbirds and returns to dock safely.
Jim Kirk passes the Kobayashi Maru.
There is an uproar. Starfleet officials push their way into the room and demand to know how he cheated. People are yelling and accusations fly from one corner to the other.
“You could have at least fucking warned us,” McCoy says, standing next to Jim.
“I didn’t think it would really work.”
McCoy laughs. “You totally knew it would work."
Jim and his test crew are escorted out of the classroom and into Pike's office where they are told to wait.
In the quiet, Spock watches Jim carefully. He is taking deep, slow breaths. Spock recognizes his careful control and his attempts to remain calm.
Jim was scared. Jim did not want to follow in his father’s footsteps. Jim did not want to die and he did not want to leave anyone behind.
This wasn’t about honor. It wasn’t about winning. It was about not giving up and not giving in and ensuring that every single one of them made it home that day, even if it was only pretend.
Jim was scared but he didn’t panic. He just said fuck it. (and Spock now understands that this has nothing to do with fornication, at least this time.)
He knows in this moment that he can trust Jim, with everything.
Jim and his entire test crew are brought before a disciplinary committee. It is a real one this time, with real consequences.
“The test is a cheat!,” Jim yells.
“The test is designed to prepare you to face death. To prepare you to be a captain. To prepare you for no-win scenarios.”
“I do not believe in no-win scenarios.”
“I think your father would be surprised to hear you say that.”
Kirk blanches as if slapped. “I do not believe in no-win scenarios.”
The problem is, that while everyone is certain Jim cheated, no one can determine how he did it as he also managed to completely clear the test results as soon as the simulation ended.
There is no way to discern how Jim cheated. There is no record that Jim cheated at all. In fact, there is no record that Jim even took the test a third time.
It is hard to punish someone for something that no one can prove happened. A fact that Jim knew going in to this game.
The admiral leading the investigation turns to Spock as the voice of honesty and reason.
“How is it possible that Cadet Kirk was able to beat the test?”
“It is not logical.”
And, it is not. Because Jim is not logical. Spock keeps the fact that he knows exactly how Kirk beat the test to himself. He does not quite consider it lying.
Jim is released with a second demerit and the rest of his test crew is sent home with nothing but a stern look. They are all banned from ever taking the test again.
Admiral Pike smiles in the back of the room the entire time.
“It was not my father.”
Spock speaks into the silence of the room.
He is sitting on the small gold sofa in Jim’s apartment. Jim is laying across the entire length of the couch. His legs hang over the side and his head rests in Spock’s lap. He is reading one of his antique Terran novels.
Spock likes the wisping sound it makes each time Jim turns the page. Jim says he likes the way they smell.
Jim lays the book on his stomach, words pressing against his person. He is quiet and still.
“There was someone who...someone who burned me. But, it was not my father. I saw the fire and he held you down and I.....There was someone who held me down once and it is a thing that I can not forget.”
Spock counts the rise and fall of Jim’s chest. It reminds him of that night in jail.
Spock tells of an isolated childhood. His voice holds so little emotion it is as if he is narrating the life of a stranger. Telling a simple, inconsequential of someone else.
There once was a small half-alien boy, who was often all alone
All the little Vulcan children battered his spirit to sand and stone.
Spock, the unwilling trailblazer: the first ever human/Vulcan hybrid. The first half Vulcan of any kind; considered by his father’s people to be the first human accepted to the Vulcan Science Academy and the first Vulcan to attend Starfleet by his mother’s.
When Spock meditates he feels as if he is both nothing and everything. Two halves of neither, everything unresolved. Completely unique in his own alien anatomy.
It is lonely.
Spock speaks these words aloud. For the first time he does not feel ashamed.
Jim is unusually silent, as if he knows that once he speaks, Spock will not continue.
Spock is a medical marvel, a novelty, and although created with loving intention, a science experience. He is held up as a great achievement but talked down as not quite whole.
“I only attended the Vulcan Science Academy for one term. There was public concern about whether or not was I fit to attend given the potential weakness of my human mind.
I scored the highest out of any student on the last round of exams in all areas of study. These scores were followed by accusations of academic dishonestly, a serious crime on Vulcan carrying with it great dishonor and harsh punishment.
These accusations were spoken the loudest by a fellow student, Stonn, with whom I have shared conflict the majority of my childhood. His scores would have been the highest had my weak mind not bettered his Vulcan one.
I was also betroved to the female with whom he desired to mate.”
At this Jim’s weight shifts slightly and he makes eye contact with Spock. His brow is slightly lined.
“I am no longer betroved to anyone. It is no longer possible.”
Spock raises his hands and slides off the ever-present black gloves. Only his mother, his father and his doctors have seen what is underneath.
Spocks hands are green and deeply scarred. Flesh melted and reformed into something not quite the same. Jim is surprised that he has the dexterity that he does. The skin looks stiff and malformed.
Jim hold his breath. Spocks gently rest his exposed palms on Jim’s shirt-cover chest. He can both hear and see the lack of movement.
“I was walking home late in the evening when I was approached by Stonn and several of his friends.
They followed me a ways along a desert path. They called out insulting words; belittling my upbringing, my genes, my mother. Stonn said that something so vile should never have been created. That I was not now and would never be Vulcan and the thought of my mating with one was so abhorrent that he would do anything to prevent it.
It....It is hard for me to remember exactly what happened next. They attacked me from behind. Several of them held me down....”
Jim can feel Spock’s entire body trembling.
“I do not if you know anything about Vulcan hands, but they are the center of our telepathy. Our neurosensors are the strongest there. Without our hands we are unable to probably control or shield our telepathy. We are unable to perform a mind meld. Without the full use of my hands I will never be able to form a marital bond or produce Vulcan offstring."
Spock's voice shakes.
"The others held me down and Stonn held my hands into the flame. He must have methodically planned the entire thing. They were waiting for me...
The damage to my telepathic nerves is so severe that were I fully Vulcan I would not be alive.”
“So the thing he hated most about you is the thing that saved you.”
I have retained some of my touch telepathy but have lost the ability to control it. Skin to skin contact with my hands will result in my reading all of your emotions and surface thoughts. I am more empathic than most Vulcans, more empathic than I was before the injury. I will never be able to form a bond with another.”
That is not true. Fuck anymore who tries to tell you otherwise.”
“Logically, I will not be....
Jim closes the distance still between them and presses his lips against Spock’s. Spock remains tight and stiff under Jim's soft warmth. He does not breath. He does not move. It is chaste and short, but it is everything.
Jim sits back and looks at Spock. He is perfectly still and stoic except for his hands, which are shaking. They betray him.
Spock takes one deep, slow breath and then his hands are in Jim's hair, his lips are coverings Jim’s and his body is pressed completely against him.
This might as well be Jim’s first kiss because nothing has ever felt like this before. He can feel Spock around him so acutely that he can also feel him inside his head. He feels dizzy and the room is edged in strange colors. It almost hurts, but it feels too good.
And then Spock is gone and the door is closing. Jim fights to breath normally.
His head hurts - a dull ache like he has been crying, but he is fairly certain that they are not his tears.
McCoy is fighting with Starfleet to increase the amount of time spent on non-human first aid techniques.
He is presenting his plan before a committee of Admirals, instructors and fellow cadets; all of whom seem bored and uninterested in his arguments.
“We understand your passion here Doctor McCoy, but we do not have the budget for a specialist instructor.”
“I will do it.”
“Classrooms and school hours cost money. We currently have so few non-humans enrolled that I really do not see the point in spending valuable resources on --”
“On spending resources on ensuring that every cadet gets equal medical care in the line of duty?”
“That is not what I am saying.”
“It is what you are saying. Each and every one of us is trained in basic first aid field medicine for a reason. Who here could even figure out how to take Gaila’s pulse? What common Earth medicine are Andorians all allergic to?” McCoy is yelling now. “Where is Spock’s heart!?”
Someone in the back of the room laughs. “Do Vulcan’s even have hearts?”
“I’m fucking serious!” McCoy’s face is red. “Can anyone in this room, besides me, give the correct location of Spock’s heart?”
Kirk raises his arm into the air. He is the only one. The silence is awkward.
“Well, I’m a doctor, not your fucking away mission leader. When this is real someday, your human-centric first aid training just killed the smartest fucking one of us.”
Kirk stands and walks to the front of the room, pulling Spock along with him by gloved wrist. He lifts Spock arm into the air and places his palm against Spock’s side near the top of his ribs.
He can feel it beating.
So can Spock.
This is the fourteenth time that Jim has invited Spock to play poker. It is the first time he has said yes. It turns out this is another social activity that involves alcohol.
Spock finds it fascinating that with human activities, be it poker, or billiards, or the baseball game he participated in last week, the emphasis is rarely on the actual game. There is less focus and calculation and more laughter and conversation. This was not the case on Vulcan.
Spock is no longer sure which he prefers.
Jim explains the rules as Spock examines the deck of cards. He memorizes them. McCoy talks over Jim when he feels he is explaining things incorrectly. They talk through and around each other. it is almost a rhythm and Spock is almost jealous.
Uhura mixes drunks and provides Spock with a Terran food called popcorn, which he enjoys.
“In poker, it’s all about playing the people, not the game,” Jim cautions.
“That statement is illogical and unclear.”
Jim laughs. “You’ll see.”
“My vision is adequate.”
Leonard and Scotty laugh. Jim leans his head toward Spock so their skulls lightly brush. The gesture is odd but somehow reassuring.
Human affection is complex.
Spock observes 3 hands before participating in the game. He pays close attention to the cards and the rules and the moves each player makes.
“It was illogical to wager all of your chips, Jim, as you did not mathically have a chance to win.”
“I did win,” Jim says, sliding a pile of chips across the table.
Jim is often illogical but Spock has grown to respect him and believes him to be highly intelligent. It would be illogical to dismiss his illogic.
Spock is almost out of chips. His logical style of play is ineffective against Kirk and McCoy's wildness.
Vulcans pride themselves on logic and problem solving but it may not be as universally correct as Spock had once believed. Perhaps there also other things that he is that he can come to be proud of.
“All in,” Jim declares confidently as he slides his large pile of chips into the center of the table.
Spock has only king high. It is illogical to play but he decides to take a risk.
“I will also go all in.”
Gaila wolf whistles as they flip over their cards.
Jim has nothing and Spock doubles his chips.
“I thought you did not believe in no-win scenarios.” Spock’s mouth curves into an almost smile.
The table erupts in laughter. “Holy shit! Did the hobgoblin just make a joke?” McCoy spills his beer on the table.
“I told you he was funny.” Jim smiles right back. “and, I don't think I really lost.”
As the evening progresses and friends become increasingly intoxicated the game becomes less organized and slowly falls apart.
Gaila dances around the room. She drapes her arms around Jim and kisses him. He kisses her back, deep and slow, like he knows her mouth.
Spock escapes the room into the hallway.
Jim follows soon after.
“Are you ok? What happened?”
“I do not enjoy watching your displays of intimacy towards others.”
“We aren’t dating.”
“I did not say my reaction was logical. I will attempt to suppress it better in the future.”
“Goddamnit Spock. Just say that you don’t want me to fuck anyone else and I won’t. Why don’t you just tell me how you feel? ”
“Vulcans do not feel.”
“That is such bullshit.” Jim looks like a different person when he is angry. "What are we doing?"
“There is so excr ---”
“No excrement of any kind. Don’t play stupid. You are the smartest person I know. Just fucking say it.”
“I do not know what you want from me.” Spock’s voice holds a hint of desperation, even in his own ears.
“Spock..." Jim sighs. "I love you. I fucking love you. Exactly like this.” He throws his arms into the air. “This is all that I want. Just this.”
Kirk stands still for a long time. The noises from the party filter in under the door. Spock is silent. Jim sighs and turns to leave.
As he opens the door, laughter and cheer poor through like a wave.
“I love you, Jim.”
“I heard you.” he stands in profile in the doorway.
No amount of training can prepare a cadet for how quickly normal turns into life threatening and terrifying in outer space.
Spock is surround by smoke and fire. There is so much of it that he can not even begin to be afraid. This is beyond the point of fear.
Pike is yelling commands and directing people as best he can but it is clear that they are approaching the point where best is not going to be good enough. Jim can not hack into the system and provide them with a better scenario. They are stuck with this one.
This was supposed to be a simple training mission. Their first trip out into space as cadets. Routine and easy and fun followed by a party with alcohol and plans for future adventure. Things did not go according to plan. Spock is beginning to wonder if they ever will.
The mid-sized starship that they are currently aboard is taking heavy fire and is dead in the air. Shields are failing. Lights are flashing and alarms are blaring.
For a moment it looks like this will all end before it has even begun.
Their only chance of escape is to fix the warp core which is currently unstable. The controls are melting under the extreme heat. The entire section of the ship is blocked off until the environmental controls can be established and engineering made hospitable again. If the heat continues to rise the warp core will explode.
There will not be enough time. The options before them seem to be fatal enemy fire or a fatal explosion.
Spock sees the moment that a third option crosses Jim’s mind. Like father, like son. But Spock refuses to allow Jim to follow in George Kirk’s footsteps.There is no point in having the potential to be one of Starfleet’s greatest captains if you do not live long enough to get your own ship.
“Admiral, evacuate the ship.” Jim calls out. “I will...”
“No human can survive the conditions, but I believe there is a 32.67 percent chance that a Vulcan can.”
“You are only half Vulcan and even if you survived you would be --”
“No, Spock,” Pike says. “Jim is right, the risk is too great, evacu--”
With one swift move Pike and Jim both hit the floor of the bridge with a thud. Chekov and Uhura look up from their station in shock.
“I have taken control of the ship. Direct all power to engineering and environmental controls and get everything back online. In 5.63 minutes, if conditions have not improved, evacuate the ship. Do not wait for me.”
Spock makes his way to engineering bypassing security codes and breaking doors. He runs deeper into the heat and smoke and he is not afraid.
Spock hears the environmental controls click on as he reaches the warp core. It is enough to sustain life but not enough to prevent injury.
The searing metal burns through his gloves and into his skin. He pushes the pain away and focuses on fixing the problems one at a time.
His hands twist wires and adjust equipment. His mind runs calculations. His eyes search for any missing detail. One mistake and it will be the end.
He thinks of Jim. Everyone will go home today. It feels like an unspoken promise between them and one he intends to fulfill.
Spock feels the ship start to move as he loses consciousness. He can not tell if the stars are blurring into warp or just in his mind. He hopes it is not the latter. His eyes force themselves closed.
Scotty rushes in with the rest of the engineering crew. Without Spock they would not have been fast enough. Scotty reaches under Spock's arm to check his pulse. He can feel his Vulcan heart.
Thanks to McCoy, he knows exactly what to do.
Spock wakes up to his father sitting beside him. For a moment he believes himself to be on Vulcan before he remembers what has occured.
His hands, arms and head ache. His mind spins.
"The crew? The ship?"
"All are well."
Spock closes his eyes and takes a deep breath. He allows himself to relax into the pillows.
“You are burned but unharmed,” Spock’s father answers the unasked question.”Your recovery will likely be painful but you should not be experiencing any further loss of sensation or telepathic control. What you did was illogical--”
“I am sorry Father.”
Sarek’s lips curl into an almost smile. “It is also illogical to be sorry.”
Sarek is silent for a long time. He reaches out and rest his fingertips on Spock's bandaged wrist. A gesture of affection - a wordless peace offering.
“I have missed you, my son.”
The admission is not what Spock expected to hear.
“I have never told you, but have always thought you to be brave.” Sarek says when Spock does not respond. “I believe you get this from your mother. She is also quite brave.
Do you know why I married your mother?”
“You are the ambassador to Earth. To pair with a human is logical and beneficial to your station.”
“No. I married your mother because I love her. She is smart and beautiful and illogically adventurous. She makes me happy.
And you, you Spock, made us even happier. I have always been proud of you. I only want for you to be happy."
“You are ashamed of my weakness.”
“I am ashamed of my weakness. How could I have let this happen to my son? How did I not know how it was for you? It is I who am sorry.”
“It is illogical to be sorry.”
What you did was illogical and brave. I am proud of you, my son.”
It is not long before the room is flooded with visitors. Spock’s father returns to the embassy and Jim slides into bed next to him.
“If you ever fucking do that to me again, I will kill you myself.”
This is Spock's third disciplinary hearing in a single school year. He is concerned. It is not that he has no where else to go, it is that he has finally found somewhere that he wants to be.
"Cadet Spock, you are being accused of incapacitating a higher ranking officer. Of mutiny against a Starfleet Admiral. You essentially stole a Starship, took control without authority and put yourself and your crew at risk. What have to say...."
Before the prosecutor can finish all of the cadets present stand and make their way towards Spock, front and center.
"What is the meaning of this?"
One by one each cadet removes the Starfleet insignia from their uniform jacket and places it at his feet. One by one in a single file line. Nyota, Scotty, Gaila, even Mitchell. His entire Starfleet class - They stand as one.
Spock knows their meaning.
Jim is last and as he approaches Spock removes his own insignia, fumbling with bandaged hands, and places into Jim's palm.
He will be their captain and this will be their crew.
“We don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.”
Jim actually sounds nervous, which is completely illogical. Spock is the virgin. Jim is an admiral to his cadet.
Spock is kissing along Jim’s neck, smelling and tasting, but the uncertainty that streams off his skin like vapor is too distracting.
Jim continues to talk as Spock explores flesh. Something about baseball. Pitching and catching, On top and on bottom. Spock wants him to just shut up and take off his pants already.
“Are these overly verbose sports metaphors your way of asking for permission to anally penetrate me?”
“Fuck. Yes.” Jim starts laughing and he finally feels like Jim again. “I love you,” he smiles into Spock’s skin and leans over him until they are both prone, Jim's body covering Spock's. “You really are funny.”
Jim slides out of his pants and underwear and kneels naked between Spocks legs.
It is not the first time that Spock has seen Jim naked but the knowledge of what is about to happen makes it feel like it is.
Jim works Spock pants down his hips, kissing his way down his body until nothing is left on Spock but the black compression gloves. Jim slides one thumb under the edge and then looks at Spock, asking permission.
“I will not be able too....”
“I will feel everything.”
“I want you to.” He slides off the gloves. “I want you to know everything. I want you to know me.”
And then Spock does.
“Are you ok?” Jim asks as he gently slides two finger inside Spock.
“Yes.” Spock barely whispers. These sensations are unlike anything he has ever experienced. He bites his lip to keep quiet until he cannot anymore and then he moans.
From where his fingertips rest on Jim’s shoulder he can feel his arousal increase which each tiny noise that Spock lets escape.
He did not think he would ever have this. He was certain that it was lost before he ever found it. That he was not a being that was meant to love or be loved.
Jim is kissing up his body - licking and sucking and biting at skin. Spock can not stop touching. He reaches for any part of Jim that he can. He wants everything.
“Are you ready?”
Spock is shaking and quiet. He can not find the words.
“We can stop. It’s ok.”
Jim's lips meet his as he slowly enters him. It hurts and it burns but it is illogically and irrationally amazing.
Jim's pleasure folds into his own and Spock wishes more than anything else he has ever wished for that Stonn had left him some way to share how this feels with Jim.
“fuck fuck fuck fuck.” A soft chant from Jim’s lips. “ugh. fuck.”
“That is what we are already doing.” Spock whispers back.
Jim laughs. “Funny.” And then he starts to move. Spock thinks that perhaps there is plenty for them to share afterall.
Each press of Jim’s flesh into his body is better than the next. The burn gives way to an orgasim that leaves Spock gasping for breath in a way that he did not realize was possible. A good way.
As Jim starts to pull away, Spock tightening his arms, holding him close. He never wants this to end.
They settle in together, two grown men too large for a Starfleet-issue single bed molding together into the small space.
He sleeps soundlessly and dreamlessly through the night.
When he awakes he is alone under the blankets. Kirk is across the room fumbling with the coffee machine.
"Shit. Sorry, did I wake you?"
Spock walks to the kitchen and kisses him.
Spock is awkward and does not care. He is inappropriate and imperfect. He is not in complete control, but he knows where his heart is. This time he opens his arms and let’s it go.
He is calm.