italicized dialogue is in Vulcan
It had taken him months to convince his mom to do this. Language immersion programs for young kids were rare and difficult enough when it was with different countries. James wanted to go to Vulcan. By Earth standards, he was fluent. But he wanted to be fluent. It had been nearly impossible for them to track down a tutor who was anywhere near them and would take a 7 year old. Which they did, and he tutored James for 3 years. Then they had to figure out if there was actually any sort of program for this. Which there was, though no human had ever actually participated. And there was no way they could afford the transportation there and back and a hotel on Vulcan. Which was how James T. Kirk and his mother ended up staying with the Vulcan ambassador and his family.
It was difficult to convince anyone to let it happen. Luckily Winona was determined to make her son happy, Sarek was curious about how a human would act and react in Vulcan culture, Amanda expressed the excitement her husband wouldn't, and their son expressed an interest somewhat like his father's, in the sense that it was for information. Lately, Spock had been looking into Terran culture and history. He had determined that only knowing one side of his heritage was unwise to say the least. He had found others saying the best way to learn was with someone from Earth, and now he would have the chance.
Since his arrival on Vulcan, James had rarely left Spock's side for the next 2 months. Their shared - purely intellectual - interest in each other meant that the two were inseparable. Figuratively, of course. James had learned to differentiate between figurative and literal speech quickly as Spock started correcting him every time. And Spock had started asking whenever James didn't differentiate. He had learned a few Terran sayings as well, though he would never dare to use them.
A month in, school was starting again on Vulcan. Of course, the years didn't line up, but James was to attend for the duration of his stay. Spock tutored him to bring him up to speed, and was as shocked as a Vulcan could be when this boy - this human - was actually doing well. Actually, James was doing better than him. Which only made things worse. The other children had never exactly treated him as an equal. But now... they treated him as inferior. So Spock distanced himself. He determined that James was impacting his own studies, and decided he had to cut him off. 3 months of a confused and hurt James followed, as well as 3 months of Spock sulking in his room. A month before his departure, James finally figured out what had been going on.
He turned a corner to see Spock with who he assumed were his friends (or as close as Vulcans got) and almost turned away again. Spock didn't want to see him, so he had no interest in seeing Spock. At least in that spiteful way. Then he heard what the other boy was actually saying.
"-no place for you. You are too emotional to be a Vulcan, and no Terran would accept you as one of their own." The boy moved closer to Spock, who stepped back and fell over, then moving back further along the floor. "Even that Terran who is interested in Vulcan culture is not interested in you."
That was when everything clicked into place. James rounded the corner and shoved past the others, getting between them and Spock. Almost immediately, the others all left, leaving Spock and James. He sat down and apologized for causing so much trouble for Spock. Spock, of course, said apologies were illogical, especially for things you cannot control. They were, once again, figuratively inseparable. A month later, James left to return to Earth.
Jim was 17, starting senior year of high school, and already had a spot at Starfleet Academy waiting for him. Even with his future secured, he was taking AP statistics, AP psychology, AP physics, and AP literature. Plus xenobiology. And he was a tutor for the Vulcan History and Culture class. And the Vulcan language course. He had a bigger workload than anyone in the school. Until a new planetary exchange student came in. And had essentially the same workload.
He had to know who this new guy was. He'd heard rumors. That he was Romulan (which Jim doubted - nobody had seen the Romulans so how would they know). That he was re-taking courses on Earth to improve his chances at getting into Starfleet (which Jim new wasn't true - taking year on Earth was recommended but in no way affected admittance to Starfleet). That he'd been exiled from his planet and came to Earth (if it was a Federation planet he wouldn't be here in that case). Everything he heard just made him more curious. None of the pieces fit together, which led him to believe all of them were wrong.
Spock had come to Earth for one reason - he wanted experience with Terrans before joining Starfleet. To know exactly how he didn't fit with them. To know what they would know (given the courses offered, he was in no way impressed). He'd heard the rumors about him and essentially got exactly what he was expecting. Even his teachers didn't know any information on him other than what the roster said - S'chn T'gai Spock, M. During attendance they simply paused at his name, and instead of wait and let them butcher it he simply took the pause as his name. Which was how he got to his last class of the day with nobody knowing anything about him.
Xenobiology was a subject Spock was incredible at, and as he would be repeating courses anyway he decided one he liked may as well be one of them. Which was how he met Jim Kirk. Despite their shockingly similar class schedules, he hadn't actually seen the boy until was sitting next to him in xenobiology.
"You're Vulcan." Jim muttered, watching as Spock's eyebrow rose. A skeptical look at best. "I'm Jim, by the way." He held up the tl'al, watching the mild surprise on Spock's face. Jim had learned how to read Vulcans years ago. He didn't remember much of his trip to Vulcan, but he sure as hell remembered the customs and beliefs.
"I am Spock." he said, returning the salute to Jim. "Class begins in 15.2 seconds, it may do us well to cease conversation."
And that was it. Spock turned to face the front of the class just as class began. As they listened to the teacher, Spock seemed to be more and more restless. The current subject was Vulcan biology, and if Vulcans laughed, it would be laughable how far off the information was. Of course, Jim didn't know that - Vulcans were very private about biology. But Spock knew. And Jim could swear that he saw a smile on Spock's face, just for a second.
As school ended, Spock started packing up his things the second the bell rang. He turned to Jim. "I presume you studied Vulcan customs. Not many Terrans know of our customary greetings."
"Yeah, I did a 6 month intensive course, plus study on my own. A fascinating culture. At least from my perspective. I'm sure that to you, we're fascinating in our own way." The mention of a 6 month intensive course sparked something in Spock's memory, a feeling that he should recognize Jim but didn't.
italicized dialogue is in Vulcan
Nearly a month passed with Jim and Spock having these small interactions. Nobody talked to Spock other than Jim, and even then only in class. Then people found out Spock was half human. He'd mentioned his mother during xenobiology, having seen for himself a direct comparison between human and Vulcan biology. Then people definitely talked to him. There were a few who were honestly interested. He was, from a scientific standpoint, something impressive. For the most part, they were... well, awful.
Jim was late to class. He'd been tutoring a student and they ran over - not that his teacher would mind. He'd been late a few times now, and it was never much of a big deal. And then he saw Spock leaving the room. He turned the corner and went down to the end of a nearly empty hallway, and Jim followed. He saw Spock sitting and approached, then realized exactly what was happening. So he sat across the hall from Spock and joined him in meditation.
Nearly an hour later, Spock opened his eyes and looked at Jim across from him. As he recalled, he had been alone when he had started meditation. "What are you doing here?"
"I saw you leaving class. You seemed upset, and I was gonna talk to you but then you were meditating and I know it's rude to interrupt, so I just joined you. What happened?"
Spock stared for a moment. "Was it that clear I was upset?" He reprimanded himself for his slip in control. He made a note that he clearly wasn't meditating enough to keep himself in check.
"Well... only because I know Vulcan body language better than most people. That doesn't answer my question." He knew Vulcans liked to avoid questions they didn't want to answer, and if he didn't ask again he wouldn't get an answer.
"It should not have upset me. It was simply a comment from one person. Saying that I did not belong here."
"People just don't like stuff that's different, I guess." The comment felt familiar. Too familiar. "What were the exact words?"
Spock stopped, and only spoke when he stared at the ground. "'You don't belong here. I'd tell you to go back to Vulcan but they don't want you either.' Jim, it should not have upset me. I am... quite welcome on Vulcan, and clearly welcome here."
That was when Jim realized who this was. That was when he put everything together.
"Of course you are upset. You were told on Vulcan that you are too emotional to be a Vulcan, and no Terran would accept you as one of their own." he said, careful to use the words he'd heard 7 years ago. "But, logically, you cannot be hated by a species that has not met you yet. So your subconscious still had hope of belonging somewhere. Of belonging here, with Terrans. Then you hear the same argument again, but from the other side. From the side that still held hope for you."
Spock stopped, just listening to Jim. "Your... your logic is sound, Jim." The words sounded too familiar. He searched his memory, uncovering one he'd clearly tried to forget.
italicized dialogue is in Vulcan
He was 11 Earth years old. James Kirk had been staying with them for a month when it truly began. And he blamed James. The boy brought out the human in him. The human was smarter than him. And he hated it. It made him feel inferior. And when his peers started treating him as such, there was only so much he could handle.
It started with teasing about his intellect.
"The Terran is doing better than you are, despite being younger."
Just a statement of fact, and Spock could feel the disgust behind it.
Then it was about his emotional state.
"You are allowing your emotional attachment to your Terran heritage to interfere with your studies."
Then it was about his feelings.
"Your attachment to the Terran is compromising your control. Your own heritage is becoming more prominent."
So he stopped. He stopped tutoring James. He stopped talking to James. He wouldn't even look at him anymore. Knowing of Terran's tendency to become emotionally attached to others quickly, he knew that James was hurting. Knowing that hurt him. But he had to make it stop.
And for some time, it did. After some time, though, the others began to notice that he was unhappy. And had been since he had stopped talking to James.
It started with his feelings this time.
"You truly do care for him."
A statement of fact, said with disgust in the words though no Vulcan would let it come through in tone.
Then it was about him.
"You cannot exist as a Vulcan and experience this attachment."
Then it was about home.
"The universe has no place for you. You are too emotional to be a Vulcan, and no Terran would accept you as one of their own. Even that Terran who is interested in Vulcan culture is not interested in you."
Then... James was there. James was there, and everyone else had left.
The two of them sat in silence for a moment, James next to Spock. Near enough to touch, not that either would dare.
"I am sorry," he said, looking over at Spock. "I did not mean to cause any trouble, Spock."
"Apologies are illogical, James. Especially when you could have done nothing to prevent it."
"I know. But it can still make you feel better. And comforting someone is always the logical thing to do. Calms the mind. Helps keep control."
"Your... your logic is sound, James."
Jim looked at Spock. He looked immediately relieved when Jim spoke Vulcan. The comfort of his own culture and life must have something do to with it.
"You do remember me, then?" Jim asked quietly. It was clear enough, but he still had to make sure.
"Vulcans have perfect memory, Jim. I could not properly forget you if I tried." Spock was quiet. "I must admit that I did try. While your visit was pleasant, nothing else during that time was."
He looked so small. Jim wanted nothing more than to pull him into a hug, but knew that would only make things worse. Especially since Spock knew that he knew of their touch telepathy. Instead he spoke again.
"I do not blame you. I would have tried to forget as well if I were in your position."
Spock stayed quiet after that, just staring forward. He knew they should technically return to class, but he couldn't be bothered. Jim was doing well, and Spock had taken the course before. He stared, reliving the memories he had uncovered.
Jim could see the pain in his eyes. He quietly moved next to him, just as he had 7 years ago. He quietly offered that he would do anything he could.
Over the next months, they grew closer. Spock could just be himself around Jim. He didn't have to be completely Vulcan like he did with everyone else, and Jim didn't pressure him to be human like some did. For the first time in his life, Spock could just be.
Jim's ability to find the logic in anything was astounding. When Spock's thoughts returned to his previously repressed memories, Jim convinced him that sadness, fear, and anger were all logical reactions. His apparent joy in participating in Vulcan traditions and customs with Spock was appreciated by Spock, who now had someone on Earth who could understand why he did as he did.
It was nearing the end of the year, and both of them were busy with AP tests. Spock was handling the stress well. Jim... not so much. He was stressed. He wasn't eating. He wasn't sleeping. And Spock was having none of it.
"I'm fine, Spock. Seriously.
"Jim, you have overworked yourself. Your productivity has declined by 15.3 percent, you have not eaten during lunch any time during the past week, and you clearly are not getting the necessary amount of sleep for a human male of your age."
"Okay, maybe I'm a bit stressed. But I'm fine. You are stressed and not only are refusing to admit it, but are refusing to show it. You know as well as I do that I can still tell. You're tired. Even for a Vulcan you're not getting enough sleep."
It seemed for a moment that Spock had backed down. Then he spoke again.
"Jim... it has come to my attention that some sleep better when joined by another. It... reduces stress, the comfort makes it easier to sleep, and-"
"Are you suggesting that we take... naps together?" There was a small smile on Jim's face.
They had known each other for nearly 8 years now, technically. And been close friends for most of one. He supposed it did make sense that they help each other.
"Purely for the medical and mental benefits, of course."
Over the next weeks, it became a routine. They would go to Jim's house after school, study for whatever test was coming up next, then take a nap together. To avoid making Spock uncomfortable, they made sure there was no direct contact. Jim would lie down first, and Spock would curl up against his side with his head low on Jim's chest. Jim rest his hand on Spock's side and they slept, Spock listening to Jim's heartbeat and Jim feeling Spock's, and neither ever directly touching the other.
The night before their last test, Spock shifted in his sleep for the first time in either of their memories. He had dreams of people he'd never met in places he'd never seen. And he knew as well as anyone that Vulcans did not dream.
He woke in the morning - earlier than Jim, as always - and the first thing he had noticed was warmth under his hand. He pulled back, suddenly extremely aware that he had apparently been essentially holding Jim's hand for hours. He pulled back enough that he fell off the bed. Spock stared at his hand, still able to feel Jim's hand and still feeling traces of the connection. And he craved more. Of course he did - Terran's needed touch, as he had learned.
Jim woke up to a loud thud. Spock was on the floor. Not meditating like he usually did in the morning. He was just... staring. Jim slid out of bed and sat next to Spock.
"Spock... Spock what's wrong?" The concern in his voice was apparent, and when Spock didn't respond to him, Jim wrapped an arm around him, pulling the other to his chest. To his surprise, Spock closed his eyes again, and shifted so his head was on Jim's shoulder. If either of them moved their head a little bit, they would be touching. Even more surprising was that Spock did just that. For a moment, Jim was even more concerned. Then he felt Spock relax. Actually relax, in a way he never had before. He lifted Spock and moved back to the bed, and they slept until Jim's alarm went off.
Spock woke up for the second time that day - which was unusual enough - nearly on top of Jim, holding his hand, and with his face buried in his neck. And something about it just felt right.
Jim woke and turned off his alarm, then turned to Spock, his concern returning somewhat. "What happened earlier?"
Spock looked away from Jim. "A... lapse in control, is all. It will not happen again." He stood and left to get ready, not giving Jim a chance to respond.
He was 6 years old. James stayed curled up in his bed, head under the covers to block light and dampen sound. He'd felt some sort of pull in his mind, and despite having no idea what was actually happening, he knew the only way to figure it out was to focus on it. Which meant everything else had to be blocked out. He had been there for hours, eyes closed and trying to focus on whatever that feeling was. Just for a moment, he could swear he felt something new. It was hot. Ridiculously so. And -- then it was gone. He still felt the pull, but it was weaker.
He was 10 years old, visiting Vulcan. He was constantly too warm. Humans could bear this heat, but he was on Vulcan and was expected to cover up. It was only a few hours before he felt that pull again - the one he had nearly forgotten. Surely it was just the heat - he'd felt heat, so the heat now reminded him. He hadn't mentioned it to anyone. He had no words for it, and anyway, it felt... personal. Like something just for him.
Until Spock touched him. He felt the same pull again, much stronger now. He didn't know what it was, but he could tell Spock had felt it too.
He was 7 years old, and had his bonding with T'Pring finalized. During the ritual, minimal contact was required to help initiate the link. It had been hours, and he could still feel her hand against his own. His mind ached - despite the official bonding being complete, the link was still working its way into every part of their minds. He was miserable. He lay in his bed, holding his hand as she had, hoping it would at least make that feel better. It didn't. As his mind stretched to meet T'Pring's, his skin hungered.
As he tried to allow the link to strengthen, opening his mind to it, he felt another growing. One that he hadn't known was there, but clearly always had been. He began to focus on that bond, to identify the individual on the other end of it. It was weak, and only made his mind hurt more as T'Pring's bond grew. He returned his focus to T'Pring, electing to ignore the other bond. It clearly wasn't something anyone else wanted him to have. Breaking or resisting his bond with T'Pring would have consequences. Surely an additional bond would as well. He tried his best to block it while opening his mind to T'Pring.
Later, when Spock felt more secure in his bond with T'Pring, he had risked checking on the other bond. It was still there, but weak. Weak enough that so long as he didn't dwell on it, it would not lead to any true connection.
He was 11 years old. A Terran had come to Vulcan, and his curiosity brought an attachment to the boy. He felt the bond strengthen again and was sure that it was simply due to his lack of emotional control. The Terran was compromising his control, and the bond was growing because of it. Surely that was all.
Spock didn't dare to mention it. During the time that he was on Earth, he felt his connection with T'Pring weaken. This much was normal - distance would weaken a bond. The problem was he felt another bond growing. One he had nearly forgotten about. And now, he was sure it was simply that his bond with T'Pring was weakening. That must be it.
Until he touched Jim. He knew Terrans were not literal when they said they felt sparks between themself and those they were interested in. But he could now understand what they meant. The slight physical tingle and and much more intense mental one. He knew where the other end of that bond was - sitting just outside the bathroom, waiting for him to finish up. Now that he knew, he knew he had to either distance himself from Jim or tell his parents.
He didn't want either.
He had until his mother called next to decide. He had exactly 9 days, 10 hours, and 43 minutes to decide.
"He hates me." Jim sat at lunch next to his friends, the space next to him seeming to rub in his face that Spock hadn't spoken to him in a week. He'd started going back to his own place after school. He never sat next to Jim anymore. He didn't even show up to lunch, let alone sit with them anymore. Jim hadn't told them everything, but he'd mentioned that Spock had actually touched him.
"James, he doesn't hate you. I'm sure he's just embarrassed. I mean, from what you told us he went completely against his own belief system." Carol pulled him closer. He'd always been one for physical affection, especially when he was upset. He just sighed quietly and rest his head on her shoulder. "Have you tried talking to him yet?"
"I'm not gonna. He's Vulcan, Carol. They want us to think they're all emotionless and numb but-"
"But he's half human?" Everyone knew now, though almost everybody seemed to have forgotten already.
"No. Well, yes, but that's not my point. But they can hold a damn grudge. I'm not expecting him to talk to me ever again. He's not even upset. And I know you're gonna - don't ask me how I know. I just... do."
"Talk to him. He's leaving for a couple months next week, right? Heading back to Vulcan before coming back for the academy? You don't want to leave it for 3 months."
Spock had taken to spending his lunch period in the library. He had read all the books early in the year, and found most of them quite predictable. But the librarians appreciated his help. Given his attention to detail and quick pattern recognition, he was the perfect candidate to re-stock the shelves when they needed it. He hadn't spoken to Jim since that night, and had no intention to do so. It was a risk he wasn't willing to take. Not as long as Jim was still alright. And while he could tell Jim was upset, he was still alright. So instead of sitting and talking to him, he sorted books.
That's what he was doing when Jim walked into the library. Jim walked up nearly silently to where Spock was, putting the books in order on the cart so he could shelve them quickly. Their lunch period was almost over, and he'd just spent most of it figuring out what to say. Which was why he walked up and just started talking.
"I know you think apologies are illogical but I really wanted to say sorry for what happened last week. You were really upset about something and I tried helping you like a human, not a Vulcan, and I really shouldn't have done that." He paused for a moment, giving Spock some time to respond. "I'm just... really sorry and... just please let me know if there's something I can do to fix it."
He turned and left when Spock made no move to respond, and went early to their next class.
Which was, of course, when Spock properly processed what he'd meant. He'd said that he was sorry. What he meant was "it's my fault".
Jim was in the back corner of the room, leaning against the wall with his feet up on his chair, eyes closed. Even Spock had figured out what that meant by now. Of course, he already knew Jim was upset. But it seemed that his attempt to block the bond was working - Jim was just so upset that traces came through anyway. Spock sat in the chair next to him, reached over, and placed his hand over Jim's.
"My mother will be calling me in 2 days, 4 hours, and 13 minutes. I would like you to be there." He was quiet and seemingly much gentler than he usually was. He couldn't stand to see Jim hurt like this, so his decision was made. He would be telling his parents about his bond with Jim. And he needed Jim there to do it.
When Jim looked at him and agreed, Spock actually smiled, just for a moment. "Thank you, Jim."
His mother was about to call. Spock was suddenly much more nervous about telling her than he had been 2 days ago and was pacing in front of the small screen in his room. Jim was sitting on the bed, listening carefully as Spock muttered to himself in Vulcan.
"It is fine. She is your mother, she will understand... but if she does not. Or if Father does not... they both love you, despite minor evidence to the contrary on Father's part... they may not after this... and T'Pring certainly will not understand... he may not even want me, then I will have told them for nothing... bu-"
His out-loud thinking was cut off by the screen lighting up and his mother's face appearing. He turned and greeted her. "This... is Jim. You may remember him, he visited Vulcan nearly 7 years ago."
A few minutes of Jim and Amanda talking to each other ensued, but Amanda knew when her son was nervous. When she asked, Spock looked down, sighing quietly.
"I... I have come to the conclusion that I must break my bond with T'Pring." He stopped long enough for her to process the words, but not to respond. "I seem to have... somehow naturally bonded with someone. Prior to meeting them. I have tried to distance myself, and that did work until I met them. Now, no matter how I try to close the bond, it does not seem to be possible. I am aware there will be consequences for the breaking of an official bond, and am willing to face them."
Jim stared at Spock, recognizing that it was him being talked about. Amanda looked at Sarek, who was staring at Spock. It seemed as though he was not just processing the words, but searching his mind for something.
They stood, the three of them now all staring at Spock, for a full five minutes before Sarek spoke. "Your pain when bonding was not due to a Terran mind. You were attempting to bond while already bonded. That is why your bond with T'Pring never properly strengthened. There is no way a bond could have formed before the presence of both parties in close proximity to one another."
As it turned out, Jim noticed, a confused Vulcan was a quiet Vulcan. He could feel Spock's mind working, and knew that Sarek's was working similarly.
"T'hy'la." Jim spoke just as Sarek was about to speak. In Vulcan history, the concept was recorded clearly. That particular piece was only briefly taught on Vulcan - it was determined that it was not necessary, as there had been none in so long. There was no need to learn in depth about a lost concept. But humans wanted to know the emotional part of every species. "Directly translates to 'friend, brother, lover' but is, in concept, closer to the Terran concept of soulmates. A type of bond recorded, but regularly ignored in Vulcan history."
Sarek stared at Jim. "That... is the conclusion I have come to as well. Which means that there is no need for concern. If this affects your status at all, Spock, it will be raised."
After a little more discussion in which Amanda seemed all too happy about entirely average topics, they ended the call. Spock had barely spoken, and he had never looked up from the floor.
As soon as the call ended, Jim turned to Spock. "So that's why you wanted me here? You were confessing to your parents that we-" He stopped, getting the same shocked expression on his face as Spock had. That we're t'hy'la. That we're soulmates.
He didn't know how long they stood like that, but it seemed that Spock was more overwhelmed by the thought than Jim was. Jim reached out and touched Spock's shoulder, guiding him over to the bed. He laid down and Spock pressed against him, as they had been 9 days ago. Spock fell asleep, closely followed by Jim.