It was decided Jim would return to Vulcan with Spock. The bond with T'Pring would be broken, and his would become an officially recognized bond. He would essentially be married to Spock, though Spock explained that it wouldn't technically be a marriage until his first pon farr. Jim asked about that, which just resulted in Spock blushing furiously and promising to explain later, and Jim insisting that Spock was adorable when blushing.
Their bond was about to be joined by an official Vulcan betrothal bond. A bond which, when combined with their existing bond, would leave no area of the mind secret between them. It was Amanda who warned them - who told them if there was anything they were keeping from each other, it may be best to tell each other now. To have no secrets going in. Which was what led to Jim rambling the night before their official bond as they were getting ready to sleep.
"Well... I have got a couple things, they are not exactly secrets, yet you should probably know. Given a complete bond they could cause problems for you as well. Not that I can be sure, as there are no recorded instances of anything like this, but it might affect you so you ought to know."
"Jim, if you have things you wish to share you ought to simply say them instead of making your apparent discomfort longer than it needs to be."
"There are not Vulcan words for them. I am not even sure if you are familiar with the concepts, as one is a human disorder that may have equivalents in other species, though I am unsure. The other is a social concept on Earth which surely has equivalents in other cultures."
Spock simply stared at Jim, encouraging him to go on. Jim pulled out from under Spock, sitting on the edge of the bed and just staring down, deciding to do the hard part first.
"I... I'm trans. Transgender. As with many species, humans are assumed to be a certain gender at birth based on external appearances. My identity doesn't correspond to that original assignment." He paused, waiting for any sign of a response from Spock. "I don't know if there's anything like that here, but I thought you should know since on Earth there's... a lot of prejudice."
"You do not appear to be-"
"Because I'm not." For the first time since they'd met, Jim actually interrupted Spock. He knew how the sentence was going to end. It was always the same - "You don't look like a woman". And he hated hearing it. "I'm lucky. I realized when I was... 5 years old? I chose the name James when I was 6 and didn't start going by Jim until there were three James' in my class. I had top surgery about a year before you came to Earth."
Jim noticed Spock moving behind him, sitting behind him and pulling him close.
"Jim, you may consider yourself lucky compared to others, but being someone who others hate for existing is not lucky." He paused, for a moment just sitting and comforting Jim. "However, I would also like to inform you that based upon your description, I would also be considered transgender."
Jim turned to look at him, a confused look on his face. "Really?"
"You are correct. There is no Vulcan equivalent word. That does not mean that there is no equivalent concept. While Vulcans are assigned a gender soon after birth, there is no prejudice when someone goes against that assignment. It is not something one is ridiculed for. After all, there is no logic in disliking a natural phenomenon. Vulcans can largely change our own hormone production, as you know we have near complete control over our bodies. Due to my early recognition of my identity, I was able to mostly control hormone production. Here it is not seen as strange to identify differently from ones assigned gender. It is considered somewhat strange to identify as something that is neither male nor female, but such cases do exist, such as myself. For most purposes I find male to be... close enough for comfort."
It was going to be okay. He'd had what he thought was every possible scenario play through his head before coming out. Spock rejecting him, refusing to be bonded with him officially and going back to resisting the original bond. Rejecting him, but putting up with the bond anyway because he had to. Not knowing what he meant and being surprised later. Not understanding, and asking a billion questions. Accepting him, asking questions about whatever he was curious about. He hadn't thought for a moment that Spock was trans as well. He had never thought that he might end up spending his life with somebody who could understand that part of him.
The next morning, Jim was bouncing with how excited he was for their bonding. Spock tried his best to keep him somewhat calm, though all that really happened was Spock got more excited. So he tried a different approach.
"Jim, last night you expressed that there were multiple things you wished to tell me before our bonding. You told me only one. Doing so seemed to be quite difficult to you, and I understand if you do not wish to share the other and instead wish to simply allow me to discover it myself. However, I am under the impression that you simply... forgot."
"Oh, right." Jim smiled, his bouncing stopping. "It's not as hard to talk about but I'm pretty sure this one doesn't have a Vulcan concept. I mean it might, but given Vulcan's whole thing about complete control of the mind I seriously doubt it." He was rambling again. He shook himself, knowing he needed to get back to his original point. "I guess I'm just worried that you aren't gonna want to bond with me because it'll make you more scattered. Less in control..." he mumbled.
"Jim, you must remember we are already bonded. It is highly unlikely that any problems that would be caused would not have already arisen."
"I've got a... disorder. ADHD. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, it really isn't a big deal, it's just-"
"It does explain many things, Jim. Your constant rambling, your thoughts progressing in non-linear patterns, your... consistent bouncing when you are nervous or excited." There was a small smile on Spock's face, which he never showed to anyone else. The smile not only was a clear sign of his love, but the fact that he would show it around Jim was a sign itself.
Jim smiled, stepping forward and brushing his hand against Spock's. While all they did in public was what was acceptable - a Vulcan kiss - in private, even on Vulcan, they would happily hold hands and hug. Though they had never gone beyond that. Spock, having been raised on Vulcan, was naturally hesitant to make too much contact, and Jim was happy to go at his speed.
It was finally happening. They were in front of T'Pau, facing each other. This was not a normal occurrence, bonding of two young adults. Both of them were warned that each of them would likely experience some discomfort, while Jim would near definitely experience pain.
Jim listened only as much as he needed to in order to go through the ceremony, his attention focused on Spock in front of him. They joined hands, the final step in creating the artificial bond as well as the natural one. Jim immediately had a headache, feeling almost as though his brain was throbbing. He saw the mild discomfort in Spock's expression, and his need for more contact with Spock grew stronger.
They returned to Spock's room soon after, and it had been made clear that they would be left alone. The moment they got into the room, Jim closed the door and hugged Spock. As physical contact increased, the throbbing of Jim's headache decreased. Spock guided Jim over to the bed, draped his arms around him, reaching up under his shirt to further increase the contact. To fix Jim's pain. To help his t'hy'la.
By that night, they both ended up happily shirtless, sleeping as they usually did with so much more direct contact. For days, they didn't leave the room. They had everything they needed there, and nobody disturbed the recently bonded.
The first night, as they went to sleep, Spock gently traced the light scars on Jim's chest. Jim startled for a moment, then just smiled and pulled Spock closer as they fell asleep.
They returned to Earth for the start of the semester. Between Spock being the son of the ambassador and the fact that his family personally knew T'Pau, they managed to get a room for themselves. There were married couples in Starfleet - plenty who served together. But none who had entered the academy already married. After all - Jim was 18 and Spock was 19. By human terms, they were incredibly young.
Both of them had a heavy course - Jim was determined to finish his education quickly. And in any case, his mind's natural jumping between thoughts with no apparent path meant that he did better with more things to focus on. Spock could likely finish in one year, but he found no point in doing so and Starfleet wouldn't let him take that many classes anyway.
Soon it was determined that Spock would pursue a science career. The purely factual nature appealed to him. Jim was set for command. He knew he would have to work his way up, but everyone was sure that he would do so quickly. His natural ability to lead, his odd ability to make decisions nobody else can meant that he was essentially destined for command.
Regular psychological evaluations were required, and they always scared Jim. What if his attention meant he was found unfit? What if his past caused so many problems that he couldn't serve? The most anxiety was for the first, and the anxiety about the possibility of failure was the closest thing to failure that he got. His results were released to him almost immediately.
JAMES T. KIRK
Fit to serve
Spock was more difficult to evaluate in the first place. There were different criteria for humans and Vulcans. An emotional reaction from a Vulcan was a clear sign they were out of their minds. A human acting like a Vulcan wouldn't necessarily be seen as unfit, but would certainly be questionable. As such, they did a reading for each, manually evaluated each after the computer evaluation, and figured out an overall view from the combination. And the first time, he was called back. Which was nearly always a bad sign.
Spock was tense as he entered the room. He was going to be kicked out of Starfleet. Something was wrong, and not knowing was only making him feel worse. He sat across from the man who evaluated him, his two recorded evaluations in front of him. He looked at the readings - clearly meant to be shown to him - and his anxiety ebbed. The left labelled 'human'. The right labelled 'Vulcan'. The display screen showing a summary of each showing nothing of concern. Simply information. An overview of what the detailed report said.
"Did you know?" The man seemed to feel sorry for him, though Spock did not understand why. "Did you know this is how these would read?"
S'CHN T'GAI SPOCK
Autism Spectrum Disorder, PTSD
Fit to serve
S'CHN T'GAI SPOCK
Fits Terran criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder and PTSD given native culture
Fit to serve
Spock returned to their room, bringing with him his copy of the results. He was completely silent as he went and hugged Jim.
"What were the results? What did they tell you, Spock? Are you being rejected?" He held Spock, initially thinking that he was comforting him. Until it became clear that he was happy. Between their bond and how relaxed Spock was, there was no way he was upset. So he reached behind himself and took the results, looking at them. And he understood.
He was 8 years old. He was in trouble in school again. Goofing off during class, distracting others. Again. It wasn't fair - he couldn't for the life of him sit still, and apparently that was distracting.
He was 9 years old, he began to search. Both for a way to get him to Vulcan, and for a reason he was the way he was. He found one. He forgot to look for the other. He sat at the table with his mother, tapping his left thumb against his right as she scheduled a visit to Vulcan, having temporarily forgotten that he had meant to do other research as well.
He was 10 years old, about to leave for his trip to Vulcan. He was being yelled at again by Frank, absolutely livid because Jim had gotten distracted while packing. He'd picked up one of his books on Vulcan history and sat on the ground where he was to read it. He'd been interested in Vulcan culture for 4 years now, and Frank hated it. But Jim couldn't give it up.
11 years old, and a girl moved in across the street. Carol Marcus, who didn't seem to mind his... eccentricities, as his teachers put it. She could follow his rapidly changing thoughts, and put enough effort in to learn how to help keep him focused when he needed to be.
He was 12 years old, crying as his psychologist told him he had ADHD. Crying, but not because he was sick. Crying from joy. Crying because he had an explanation now. Because he wasn't broken, he was different. Because now he had a name for the way he was. A name for his experiences. Because he had a community now, and resources, and ways to cope, and a reason. He had a reason. The next morning, he and his mother left for Tarsus IV.
Spock pulled back with a smile on his face, again an expression saved just for Jim. Jim could see the look in his eyes, the same one he'd had. The look of finally knowing there's nothing wrong with him. The look of knowing there are others like you. The look of knowing you belong somewhere.
"Jim, I am aware that you are more knowledgeable than I in this particular subject, and I believe your knowledge can be of assistance to me."
"Hang on, are you telling me I know more than you? I've gotta say that's a first."
"Jim, there are many areas in which you would be considered an expert that I would not. If you are unaware of this, I may need to mention it more often. This is one of those subjects, given the inherent similarities between attention deficit disorder and autism. It would be beneficial for you to share with me some ways that you help yourself in this particular area."
"I can definitely help you, but let's just focus on how you just said I'm smarter than you for a little bit."