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 ( 4 months ago - August 23 2355 )

 

“The only emotion I wish to convey is gratitude. Thank you, Ministers, for your consideration. Live long and prosper.”  Spock turned around and strode out of the Vulcan Science Academy, each of his emotions rising like tsunamis inside him. He walked with long, purposeful strides. It was the walk of a man who was not going to turn back anymore.

 

“Spock!” The words were not shouted, but by Vulcan standards they could have been considered as such.

Spock stopped but did not turn around.

 

“Sarek,” he replied, keeping his voice even, but perhaps the flatness of it, was in itself a statement. He was merely acknowledging his name being called. Nothing more, nothing less.

 

Sarek took a few moments to catch up to his son, and then walked around Spock till he was facing him.

“Spock. I remind you, again, that you have made a commitment to honor the Vulcan way.“

 

“To what purpose is your reminder for? Rest assured, my memory requires no assistance from you.”

 

Sarek looked uncertain.

“You are letting your emotions dictate your actions. That is not the Vulcan way.”

 

Spock took a deep breath. If he was seething inside, he did not let it show outside. In the same calm, deadly tone, he replied, “ Kol-Ut-Shan , Father. That is the Vulcan way. Please do not teach me Vulcan wisdom, when you, yourself have clearly failed to understand it. Now, if you will excuse me, I have to pack my belongings.”

 

Without waiting for a reply, Spock side-stepped around Sarek and headed towards home.

 


 

 

“I don’t understand what happened!” Amanda was near hysterical. “Will someone please talk to me? I can’t read minds!!!”

 

Spock checked to make sure he had packed all his essentials. He had no plans of coming back to retrieve something if forgotten, so he had to make sure, he didn’t commit that mistake in the first place.

 

It was not helping his focus that both his parents were standing in his personal room, and they were having what his mother would call an “argument”.

 

“I do not understand myself, my wife.” Sarek still had the same confused and perplexed tone. This infuriated Spock even more but he kept quiet and put in the last of his belongings in this large bag. “But Spock has refused to enlighten me further.”

 

Spock finally straightened and stood tall. It was time.

 

“Speak your mind, Spock.” Sarek approached him.

 

Spock looked at his father. The man, whose genes he carried. The man whose culture and planet, he had till that day, identified himself with. The man who, in principle, was a good being. An ambassador, a husband, a father, a Vulcan. Yet, Spock could not forget that, Sarek had married Amanda because it was “logical”. Even after all these years, Sarek was clueless that his utter lack of courage to defend Amanda in front of the Science Academy had once and forever, decided Spock’s own path.

 

“That would be unwise,” Spock replied, and instead approached Amanda.

 

“Mother, earlier today, I asked you that should I complete the Vulcan discipline of Kolinahr, and purge all emotion, I trust, you will not feel it reflects judgment upon you.”

 

Amanda’s tears started flowing. “My answer remains unchanged. I am and always will be proud of you.” She replied fiercely, holding his hands in her own. “Are you going to Kolhi-”

 

“No, I am not. I am going to Earth. I am going to join StarFleet.”  Spock looked into his human mother’s eyes.

 

Amanda looked shocked. Then, she looked at Sarek and back at Spock.

“Spock? Did someone say something to you?” A note of anger seeped through dangerously.

 

“No, mother,” Spock replied before Sarek could. He hoped that, Sarek in his oblivion and ignorance, would at least spare Amanda the words, that had been spoken about her. But may be he should make sure. So, he looked at Sarek, directly into his father’s eyes, as he said the next words, “No one said anything to me. This is my decision. I take full responsibility for it.”

 

And for the first time, Sarek seemed to start understanding. Something changed in Sarek’s demeanor. Or maybe Spock was seeing things, he wanted to see.

But Sarek stopped objecting after that. Spock hoisted his bag over his shoulders, and bent down, so his mother could kiss his forehead. He knew she wanted to, and he felt no shame anymore in letting her.

 

“Good bye, mother,” Spock said in the gentlest tone.

“Oh Spock! Be well, my baby.” The tears started pouring in earnest again. But the steel edge of her voice didn’t waver. “I am proud of you, Spock. Go, follow your own destiny.”

 

Spock turned around and walked out of his childhood home, leaving behind all his memories buried in the walls. He walked past the gardens, the gates...he left all that behind. These were not his anymore, this was not his home anymore. Maybe it never was.

 

He belonged no where. He would always be a child who belonged no where.

 


 

( Present day - Dec 23 2355 )

 

Jim braced himself for the question coming his way, his downcast eyes studying the liquid in the glass he held. His Academy friends were seated around him, in various lounging poses - some on the couch, some on chairs and some like him, lounged on the soft rug on the floor.

 

Nyota was talking excitedly about her upcoming trip back home, “I can’t wait to meet Mom and Dad. I have missed them so much this whole semester. But most of all, I am dying to see Bibi and Babu again.”

Her voice wavered and she brushed away a tear from the corner of her left eye. She shook her head, her ponytail gracefully swaying and laughed self-consciously, “Sorry, I just miss home. Bibi always makes my favorite dish and Babu tells us kids, stories about his youth. I get to meet all my cousins and we all sleep together in Bibi’s house on the floor, and no one actually gets any sleep!” She smiled as the  memories of her childhood and youth played out like a movie in her mind; then she sighed happily and curled up on the chair.

“It’s the most special time of the year for me and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

They were trading holiday stories. It was the last day of the semester. Tomorrow, the month long holidays would begin and everyone would fly back to their respective homes. Some were going to leave later that evening itself.

 

Well, almost everyone, Jim thought.

 

“Your turn, Chekov,” she patted her friend’s arm playfully.

 

Chekov immediately perked up and his eyes shone with excitement. “Did you know in Russia, Christmas is celebrated on 7th January?”

“What?” Sulu asked incredulously.

“It izz true!” Chekov beamed back, satisfied at the mild shock on his friends’ face. Even Jim had to admit he found this bit of information fascinating.

 

“How do you celebrate it?” Sulu asked eagerly.

“Actually new year is more popular for us. Christmas was banned by government long time ago. So, for new year we always go to visit my babushka. She is very old now and cannot travel in the cold. Dedushka passed away 5 years ago and she gets lonely during the holidays.”

Everyone murmured as they each were reminded of lost relatives.

 

Jim just kept quiet. As always, he felt lonely even when surrounded by loved ones. Listening to his friends, he realized just how very different his childhood and life had been.

 

He had been overjoyed to have found his friends after the first week at Academy. They all had bonded and hung out together everyday this whole first semester.

 

To Jim, they were like his family. But now he realized, they all had real families. They all had real homes to go to.

Memories to treasure.

Traditions to hold up.

Laughter, food and love to look forward to.

 

And Jim? No one. No home. No fond memories.

No grandparents who were waiting for him.

No one had ever waited for him, and no one ever would.

 

He pushed away the heaviness in his heart and tried to listen to Chekov, who was bouncing in his chair as he recounted his family traditions.

 

“I loved the Koliada!”

“What’s that?” Nyota was curious.

“It’s a fun nonsense tradition. Kids and teens dress up and we walk through the snow, singing Kalyadki, and knocking at doors of houses. And guess what’s the best part?” Chekov asked.

“What?” McCoy had been roped in as well, unable to keep up his grouchiness.

“We get candy and gifts in return!”

 

“Like Halloween?” McCoy’s eyebrows shot up and he looked at Jim.

Jim shrugged his shoulders, intrigued at learning about Chekov’s traditions.

 

Chekov immediately waved his hand and said empathetically, “No, no, no! It’s called the Koliyadi! It was invented in Russia.”

At that, everyone burst into laughter. 

“And after Christmas, it’s time for svyatki.” Chekov turned around to Nyota and Christine and asked, “Do you want to find out your future partner’s name?”

 

“Ummmm?” Christine exchanged glances with Nyota.

 

“January is a special month,” Chekov lowered his voice and whispered, “The spirits visit Russia and you can find out about the future.”

 

Nyota’s eyes had grown round and big. “Ummm, we are Starfleet cadets.. you know?”

Chekov winked.

 

“Well, not that I believe in such stuff, “ Christine spoke seriously, “but for the sake of cultural exchange, I think you should tell us anyways.”

 

Jim chuckled and so did others.

“Oh, shut up!” Christine blushed.

 

“All you have to do is gather a bunch of your girlfriends,” Chekov explained seriously, “and stand on the corner of the Academy entrance, and then as people pass by, throw your boots behind your back.”

 

“What!?” the entire group chorused.

Chekov continued, clearly enjoying himself immensely, “the people have to shout out names and then you will know the name of your future partner.”

 

“Wow! Like the bridesmaid throwing the bouquet of flowers behind her back?” Christine asked amazed.

 

Chekov shook his head and said, “No, no, no! It was all invented in Russia!”

 

Even Jim had to laugh at that. Scotty turned to Jim and said, “Laddie, it’s ye turn.”

 

Jim cringed. He had been trying to dodge this question all evening but now he was the only left. All of his friends settled down to listen. Jim shrugged as nonchalantly as he could, and said, “My family isn’t like others. We didn’t do anything special.”

 

“Oh I am sorry, honey!” Christine immediately put a hand on his shoulder. “But you know things change, when we move out. This year I am sure you will feel the difference when you meet everyone after having not seen them for months,” she added kindly.

 

“I...uh...I am not going anywhere,” Jim answered uncomfortably. As soon as he had spoken the words, he regretted them. As he feared, everyone chimed in, with various reassurances.

 

“Oh no! You can’t not be with family during Christmas!”

“Jim, don’t be silly. It’s family, it’s always special.”

“How can you not go home ?”

 

In an instant, Jim’s mood changed. Anger coursed through him. He put down his glass with a bang on the table next to him and stood up.

“You know what? I don’t need your fucking advice. Or your fucking judgement.”

 

His friends looked stunned. He turned around and walked out of the room which reeked of happiness and joy and hope and love. He hated it all.

 

“Oh shit, Jim, wait!” he heard Nyota calling after him.

“Let him go,” his room mate’s calm voice stopped her.

 

Jim silently thanked Bones and slammed the door on his way out.

 

Chapter Text

 

Jim decided to take a long walk. His insides were churning with emotions. He was angry. Angry at his friends who didn’t have a freaking clue what they were talking about.

 

How can you not go home , they had asked. Jim walked along the pedestrian lane of Golden Gate bridge, the cool night air ruffling his hair.

 

Home. What did they know of his home? What did they know of his family? He fumed.

 

After a while, he felt a little guilty. His friends couldn’t be expected to understand. People like Jim were the anomalies. They had meant well. They loved him. They wanted him to be happy. But their way of going about making him happy  just made it all worst.

 

He found a piece of rock and flung it into the waters. The rock sailed through the air and then with a barely discernible splash, it disappeared. The bay waters kept flowing, with not a care. It mattered to no one, that the pathetic existence of the rock on land had ended. It had lived a solitary life and now it would sink to the bottom and continue to exist with no meaning, no purpose.

 

The city skyline glittered with twinkling lights. The bridge itself was adorned in festive red bows and green wreaths. Jim touched the bow tied next to where he was standing. He was fond of the decorations. Of the music, the general merriment in the air, people wishing each other and the camaraderie. He wanted to be part of it all. Desperately.

 

But invariably the actual day would arrive, and all those people who were busy and on their way to somewhere , in the past days, would actually reach that somewhere . Nothing made Jim feel as lonely as the season which reminded him about family. Family he didn’t have. He turned around and started walking . May be if he kept walking, he too would find his destination. Wherever life had planned to take him.

 

It started drizzling slightly but he didn’t notice. He just kept walking, away from the Academy, hands shoved into his jeans, away from everything. Traffic was light, now and then a hovercraft passed by, but otherwise the world was deserted. Jim reached the residential area, which lay some distance away from Academy grounds.He walked by houses, cheerfully decorated, bright light spilling from inside them. Most had Christmas trees proudly displayed through windows. Jim tried not to look inside the homes, where laughter and love flowed, where kids ran around and grandparents hugged them.

 

What about us? Jim thought bitterly, as he looked up at the night sky.

He noticed the drizzle, when his tears and raindrops mingled on his cheeks. He was grateful to the sky for providing him the cover.

 

Sometime during the night, he felt exhausted. He stopped walking and found a hoverbus terminal. While he stood inside the shelter, the drizzle finally turned into a decent downpour. Jim loved the rain, the sound of it, the smell of it. It made him smile. He wiped away his tears and though nothing had changed, he felt lighter. A driver-less hoverbus headed towards the Academy arrived shortly, and Jim wearily climbed aboard. The bus took off into the air, sailing through the wet air. Jim found a window seat and pressed his nose up to the glass and watched the city fly by. His warm breath misted the surface and it fogged.

 

He had the sudden child like urge to draw on it. So, he did. He drew a heart, then another and joined them by an arrow. It was silly, but no one would know, and he chuckled at himself.

 

“Interesting illustration.”

 

A deep voice, next to him spoke up.

 

Jim startled and turned around with wide eyes. He hadn’t even noticed but there was a man sitting next to him. Actually no, not a man. A Vulcan! A Vulcan with deep brown eyes, delicate pink lips, soft glossy hair which had raindrops clinging to the ends. He smelled of musk and heaven and spice tea. He wore an oversized sweater which fit too loose on his lanky frame but somehow he looked adorable in it.

 

Jim swallowed heavily. He was looking at a face he knew well. Very well, in fact. So did his room mate, Bones. It was the guy Jim had a massive crush on. Since literally the day he had arrived at the Academy. But he was Vulcan. The only Vulcan. His name was Spock. It had taken Bones a lot of coaxing to get Jim to even confess his crush.

 

But it wasn’t just about Spock being a Vulcan. The first time they had crossed paths, about three months back, was in the cafeteria. It so happened that when Jim stood in the short queue, the person who had arrived next was Spock. Jim had been waiting for an opportunity like that, so he had turned around and flashed his most alluring smile and chirped, “Good morning.”

Spock had moved not a single muscle on his face, except his right eyebrow.

“Good morning” was the polite but cold reply. The tone conveyed, “I am not interested in this human custom of chit-chat.”

 

But Jim was made of tougher material. He had survived way worse than frigid, mysterious Vulcans. So, he had tried again, "I am not in a rush, why don’t you go ahead?” 

With smooth face and a bored voice, Spock had replied, “That is not necessary.”


And that had been the end of that. The few more times whenever Jim had run into Spock, whether in library or in study area or in student lounge, the Vulcan had deflected every single attempt by Jim. All that had made Jim pine even more but he had taken the hint and stopped initiating any contact. Instead, Jim had spent many an afternoon, watching the lone Vulcan from a distance - sitting on a bench or under a tree or just studying.

 

And now he was sitting right next to Jim, and looking at Jim with those eyes. Wow, those eyes!

Jim opened his mouth again to say something, but nothing came out. He flushed a bright shade of pink, as he realized the comment Spock had just made. He dropped his gaze, unable to contain his embarrassment and the sudden thrill.

 

“May I?” Spock asked in that delicious voice again.

 

Jim looked up puzzled, and saw that Spock had a hand raised and was indicating the window with a tilt of his head.

 

“Of course,” Jim managed to squeak out.

 

Spock leaned across Jim to reach the window, and Jim bit his lower lip and closed his eyes. Their legs touched as Spock shifted his body and the contact sent sparks across Jim’s entire body. He was an absolute mess! On a public bus! With a Vulcan!

 

After a couple of moments, Spock shrunk back and Jim focused on trying to breath evenly. His face was probably still flushed. Damn.

 

He wanted to talk to Spock. Like normal people talk! At least say “Hi, I am Jim! You know, we met a few times?” but the leg was still pressed against him now, and Jim’s brain wasn’t working like it should.

As the seconds ticked by, Jim realized Spock was not the most talkative person either. They just sat in silence, legs touching, heart hammering. The texture of Spock’s sweater, the damp smell in the air, the quiet sound of a Vulcan breathing - Jim was hyper aware of every little thing.

There was a small lurch as the hover turned in mid-air, and Jim felt a warm weight press on his shoulder. His breathing spiked up. Damn! Damn it all.

It took him a few moments to realize, but apparently, Spock had fallen asleep. A head full of soft black hair was now resting on Jim’s shoulder. Jim wanted to turn and pull Spock into a hug. He had an inexplicable but burning need to just take Spock in his arms. He somehow knew that Spock hadn’t slept like this in a long time. Tendrils of care and protectiveness flowed from his soul. But Jim sat very, very still, not daring to move an inch.

The bus took another turn and Spock’s hand fell across Jim’s lap. He threw his head back and it hit the edge of the seat. He pressed his lips tight, trying not to moan. In vain, he fought to control his erection.

 

Please don’t turn anymore. Or make sudden stops.  He prayed to the dark skies fervently.

 

In a bit to distract himself, Jim turned to see what Spock had done on the window. The fog had faded and he could hardly trace the markings anymore. But, he could still see what Spock had drawn.

 

The second heart had been modified so that now that it resembled a Vulcan heart. Jim’s mouth fell open as he stared. There on the window of a random bus, on a random night, was a drawing of a human heart and a vulcan heart with an arrow joining them.

 

Maybe it was the long night, all the emotional turmoil he had gone through, or maybe it was that he was hallucinating, but Jim was, in that moment, sure that Spock knew who Jim was, and somehow it wasn’t as random as he had guessed. Spock happened to be seated next to Jim not by chance but by choice. 

Spock shifted and cool air blew across Jim’s overheated neck. Like butterfly wings, eyelashes touched Jim’s jaw as Spock opened his eyes. Jim went rigid and unfortunately so did his cock.

 

Spock took in the scene, his own hand lying across Jim’s thighs, the uncomfortable bulge in Jim’s jeans.

 

“I am sorry,” Jim closed his eyes. He had never been more embarrassed and more turned on in his entire life.

 

Moments trickled agonizingly slow and then long fingers touched his chin and his face was turned towards Spock, even as Jim tried to hide. Jim opened his eyes and their gaze met. It was like lightning striking him. In those two endless pools of warm brown, Jim read recognition and affection and - his breath sped up - hunger. Spock was looking at him with sleepy but hungry eyes. Spock had made no attempt to remove his hand, neither had Spock shown any interest in putting some space between them. Spock was without a doubt awake and very much in Jim’s personal space.

Jim couldn’t help it anymore. A low moan escaped him. He leaned in and asked hoarsely, “May I?”

 

Spock’s hand closed on Jim’s upper thigh in response and Jim gasped. The Vulcan had enough presence of mind to quickly look around them. Jim blushed furiously realizing he hadn’t thought of it himself. There was no one else aboard. This entire time, it was just the two of them. And yet Spock had chosen to sit next to Jim, on an empty bus. That last thought made Jim’s blood sing.

 

“Yes,” Spock breathed and before the word was entirely out, Jim touched Spock’s lips with his own. Very softly. Even though he wanted to devour Spock, he planted a tender, chaste kiss on Spock’s lips. He heard Spock’s breathing become uneven. He kissed again. Feather light kisses, all along the pink lips. Spock didn’t move so Jim stopped and leaned back.

Spock made a small noise and pulled Jim into an embrace. Jim completely lost it. Their bodies aligned in the small space in desperation, lips meeting in hot desire and raw need, hands clawing at each other. Both fighting in an explosion of wanton lust.

Spock returned his every move with such passion that Jim felt dizzy. He felt Spock’s hands pushing him up. Jim stood up, facing Spock, hands resting on either side of Spock’s head on the seat’s edge.

 

Spock was looking up at him, with an expression of pure reverence. Graceful fingers touched Jim’s jeans and stopped at the button.

“May I?”

“Oh God! Yes!” Jim was so hard it was painful.

Swiftly, Spock unbuttoned Jim and pulled down the jeans to his knees. Next his briefs were pulled down. Jim cried out, at the relief as his erection bobbed free, and then moaned again, as Spock’s fingers curled around him. He bucked wildly into Spock’s hand.

“Look at me, Jim,” the Vulcan commanded, as he started pumping rhythmically.

Jim was fading in and out, on the edge, consumed by the sensation of Spock’s touch.

But he managed to open his eyes and look at Spock.

Spock knew his name! And it sounded almost obscene enveloped in that deep voice. They looked at each other, their gaze locked, both of them enthralled by the other.

Jim’s hips moved faster and faster, into Spock’s hand, and with each thrust, he lost sense of time and place. His rhythm faltered and his body spasmed, as he came. A long, low moan escaped his lips. His legs shook, as one of the most powerful orgasms he had ever experienced, tore through him. “Oh my god!” Jim slumped over Spock, trying to hold himself up, a small part of his brain alerting him that even though he had just spilled all over Spock’s hands, they were still strangers, and he couldn’t just let himself go.

 

But then Spock pulled him down, kissed him and held him close for a moment. Jim was still floating in post-orgasmic haze, but this gentle embrace and care, almost made him weep. He was already feeling so vulnerable that night and what had just transpired was surreal. But Spock was holding him and somehow Jim knew he was being reassured. Of what, he wasn’t sure. He just was.

 

Spock broke the hug, then moved Jim back onto the seat and stood up.

“I will get some cleaning wipes from the medical kit.”

Jim nodded, and realized he was half naked on a bus which would be reaching the Academy any second.

While Jim cleaned himself up in a hurry, he became aware for the first time that Spock was still fully dressed. 

 

What the hell had just happened??

Jim wondered as they stepped off the bus together.

 

Chapter Text

( 4 months ago- Aug 24 2355 )

 

Spock peered at the underside of the umbrella shaped plant. It had a strange gill like texture. Fascinating. The top portion was smooth, covered in colored dots. He looked around from where he was kneeling, and noticed the strange growth all around. He held his mini-padd above the one he was examining, capturing the image. The screen immediately flickered to life and he had his answer - "Agaricus bisporus", known commonly in standard as "Mushroom". Under extra information, he learned they were also referred to as "toadstool". Spock immediately searched for images of "toad" on his min-padd and then stared at the mushroom for a long minute, trying to understand how exactly did it serve as a stool for a toad, and why.

Green! So much green. Earth was covered in green grass and green trees as far as his eyes could see. So different from the desert planet he had left behind, few hours earlier, after his altercation with the Vulcan Science Academy.
He looked up. Blue, vast stretches of blue! The other dominant color. He couldn't decide which color he liked the best, blue or green.

His first hour on Earth, at the Academy grounds, was spent in complete wonder, just marveling at how different a world Earth was.

Go, find your own destiny. His mother had always known what to say to him. He knew that he had made what his mother would call a "rash" decision, but there was no other logical alternative. Staying back would mean accepting not just the Academy's invitation to join, but accepting their viewpoint as well. Sometimes, it was not enough to simply not agree. Sometimes it was required to instead take a stand and walk away.

As he stood on the surface of his mother's planet, surrounded by the natives and their loudly radiating emotions, he wondered if his mother had felt similarly on her first day on Vulcan. There was only one other person that he knew of, who had left their own planet and chosen to stay among aliens. No one understood better than Amanda, what kind of courage it took to find your own destiny.

Spock spent the entire day with his mini-padd, capturing images of a myriad number of things and delighting in learning their names.

At dusk, he realized his body needed nutrition. Spock put his mini-padd back in his pocket and proceeded to the cafetaria. It was teeming with humans who buzzed around him.

The excitement of the day slowly left him as he found himself standing alone, with just his meagre belongings on his back, facing a sea of rounded-eared beings. He got touched, pushed, jostled and bombarded with feelings, as he made his way to the replicators, and then had to make the same journey back, out of the crowded establishment.

Back in his room, he breathed a sigh of relief. His plomeek soup and salad were pleasing enough mercifully.

He was eating his first meal away from his home planet, when the computer beeped and Amanda's face appeared on the terminal.
"Mother," Spock greeted with a nod, hoping his eyes didn't betray the overwhelming comfort he felt, in looking at a familiar face, after spending an entire day amidst strangers.
"Spock, how does it feel?" Amanda's smile was gentle.
"It has been a most fascinating experience so far." He replied as he sipped his soup.
"Yeah?" Amanda laughed. "Tell me what did you find most fascinating?"
Spock cocked his head to one side as he gave the question some thought. "The amount of verbal communication is staggering. I did not realize the extent to which humans engaged in this method of communication. It appears to me no one stops talking here. It is a very...boisterous planet."
Amanda burst into silent laughter, her frail shoulders shaking. "We do like talking, yes. But you know...we don't have much of a choice." She shrugged playfully. "Did you find it over stimulating?"
"I had not given much thought to it. But, in fact, your question makes me realize, I, indeed, do. I am experiencing fatigue in all my senses." Spock inlcined his head slightly and added, "However, please do not be concerned. It is simply a matter of time before I am able to adapt."
"I know, honey. But it is still a lot for you."

Yes, it had been an exhausting day. Spock did not want to admit it, but his mother had correctly deduced nevertheless.
"Is it too cold for you?"
"The temperature is considerably frigid." Spock nodded. He thought about for a moment longer and added, "and the air moist."
"Yes, that's humidity, something new for you. Did you find anything good to eat?" Amanda asked.
"Yes, mother, the replicators here are fully functional." He held up his bowl.
"Oh I am glad. What about -"
"Mother," Spock looked at Amanda pointedly.
Amanda smiled and nodded, "Okay, fine,I will stop fussing."

They talked some more as Spock finished his soup and then his salad.

"I will call you tomorrow again. This time seems best, since you will be eating dinner. Is that okay?"
"That will be acceptable."

She mentioned nothing about the tensed situation with his father or the Academy. She had always managed to find a balance between her husband and her son. Spock was grateful for her wisdom. Miraculously, neither his father nor Spock felt the lack of her support, though they were often on opposite sides.

As promised, Spock did successfully adapt to the new surroundings. After a week, his ears no longer felt assaulted by the constant chatter around him. It simply became his new reality. He also became somewhat immunne to the extra glances he received, wherever he went. The novelty of being the lone Vulcan on the entire campus carried with it a sense of excitement but also loneliness. Every day and every night, Spock navigated his new world, with his shields firmly in place, attending classes and learning. But the shadow of being the only one of his kind never left his side.


If he had felt like an outsider on Vulcan, here on Earth, the distinction was even more stark.

On the thirty third day of his new life, the San Francisco skies was that startling shade of blue, which Spock was still getting used to. He reached the cafeteria for his morning meal, ready to begin another day. He had figured out that being very early to the cafeteria or very late, was the best strategy. He preferred being early. Spock stood with his hands behind his back, his eyes on the floor, working on a calculation in his head, as he waited in the short queue.

He felt a jolt as though struck by lighting and looked up in alarm.
"Good morning," a pair of blue eyes were looking at him, and a human hand tapped on his shoulder.

Humans had this annoying habit of invading his personal space. Spock took a step back from the Cadet and scowled. "Good morning," he replied coldly.
The Cadet, with a face that was chiseled to perfection, and a smile that could stop inter-planetary wars, seemed unfazed. Instead of leaving the increased space between as it was, the Cadet closed in on Spock.
"I am not in a rush, why don’t you go ahead?"

Spock felt curiously warm and cold at the same time. He noted his respiration speeding up, his pulse started racing and he felt hypnotized by the most mesmerizing pair of eyes he had ever looked into. The name on the Cadet's front pocket read "James T. Kirk." Spock made a mental note. Struggling to maintain his composure, he declined the unnecessary offer with a "That is not necessary.”

To his enormous relief, James Kirk turned around and stopped pestering.

Later that day, Spock finally realized his answer to the question of which Terran color did he find most alluring - blue or green. It was blue.

 


 

 ( Present day - Dec 24, early morning, 2355 )

Jim stepped on to the road, as the hover bus left. He had seldom been scared of anything. Even Frank. He despised his step-father but not feared. As soon as he had been big enough to defend himself physically, he had stopped giving the leech any damn. So, the sensation pooling in his abdomen, as he walked behind the straight-backed Vulcan, was quite unusual. Jim was scared. Terrified, to be accurate.

What the hell had just happened and how could he unfuck it?

The first person Jim had ever seriously fallen for, in his entire life, stopped walking as soon as they were a few steps away from the main road. Spock turned around and looked at Jim with a face devoid of all emotions.

Jim felt like a ball of lead had dropped in his stomach. But, no one, not even Spock, could know that. Smiling in the face of disaster was second nature to Jim. With a half-smile dancing on his lips and an eyebrow raised in nonchalant amusement, he challenged Spock's non-expression.

Spock took a deep breath, folded his hands behind his back and waited.

So, the Vulcan had conveniently made it Jim's headache to get this conversation rolling. Very well. Jim would do just that. Someday, he would have to to talk to Klingons and Lord knows who else. A solitary, drop dead gorgeous Vulcan, who had just seen him come undone, was totally not a problem.
"Well...that was...I don't know what to say," Jim began, "I have to admit I am shocked, Spock. I didn't think you know...I mean you are Vulcan...and the few times we met, you seemed really uninterested."

"Indeed."

Jim looked into the dark eyes, framed by the straight eyebrows, which had earned a following of their own, among the many admirers of Cadet Spock. Did Spock know he was popular? A sex symbol?

"Indeed? That's all you have to say?" Jim leaned in a fraction, both eyebrows raised in question.

"What else would you like to hear?"


"Wow! I don't know man...I thought we just...it seemed we clicked?" Jim started losing his confidence as Spock remained unmoved. The smile started fading from his face. He really, really wanted this thing to work. Okay, yes, he had acted like a beast in heat. But this was different! He actually liked Spock! It had felt the most amazing orgasm of his life.

"Well, to be honest, I was feeling really low tonight and sometimes I just want to fuck the first thing I see when I am in that mood. But, I -"

"I am aware of your reputation."

The smile faded entirely from Jim's face. Jim's mood changed.
"Oh..yeah? And you are going to judge me on that now?"

"I have not passed any judgement. I was simply stating that I am aware of your reputation of engaging in casual sex indiscriminately."

Jim stared at Spock for a few moments and shook his head once. Unbelievable.
"Well, Mr. Spock, what happened on that bus, " Jim pointed a finger in the direction of the road, "wasn't all me, okay? So, I don't need to take any crap from you."

That was right. He didn't take crap from Frank, he was not going to start taking now from Spock. Certainly not because he had committed the blunder of assuming Vulcans weren't assholes, and that Spock had actually liked him.

"And you know what?" Jim's inched his face close to Spock's, "I didn't start it. I didn't even know you were on that bus! You...you sat next to me!"

"An action I now regret," Spock replied in a monotone.

The words stabbed Jim in his gut. He wanted this conversation to end. He wanted to disappear. How naive had he been! To think that anyone would actually reciprocate his feelings! What a joke. Had Jim really forgotten so soon, that no one really cared about him? He was a pretty face and an excellent brain. That's all.

"I see. Well, in that case, Mr. Spock, we have nothing further to discuss." Jim took a step away from Spock. He raised a hand in the Vulcan gesture of parting, the fingers split in a ta'al.

"Live long and prosper, Spock," Jim spat out.

Spock's own hand followed and he returned the ta'al, but said nothing. Spock just stood there like a statue. Jim turned around and walked away, wounded to his core, but he would shed not a single tear, for someone so cruel.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

( Present day - Dec 24, early morning, 2355 )

 

"My God, man! Where the hell have you been?"

Jim wasn't expecting Bones to be there, when he reached his room. He wasn't in the mood to face anyone much less his room mate. Jim headed straight for the bathroom and tried to close the door but Bones just followed right in.

"I must've messaged you five hundred times by now. You don't just leave like that, you hear me?" Bones continued. "It's bloody four in the morning."

Jim splashed some water on his face. "I'm sorry, Bones. Rough night," he mumbled.

Jim turned to find his toothbrush but Bones had a scanner pressed to his neck. "Hey!"

"Shut up, Jim. You look like hell. I don't want to know where've you been all night, but -"

Jim swatted away Bones' hand. "I've been walking."

Bones looked at him skeptically. "Walking, my ass. Your eyes are red, and you look like you should be drunk, " Bones sniffed, "but I smell no alcohol." Bones leaned in again, sniffing Jim's collar, "though I smell something else...weird..something - "

"I am fine!"

They stared at each other. Bones showed no indications of leaving Jim alone.

"Why are you here, anyways? Weren't you supposed to be gone by now?"
"I postponed."
"Why?"
"I'm doing you a favor. I couldn't just leave you, without knowing if you are okay."
"I didn't ask for any favors. I don't need your pity. Just go away!" Jim's voice tembled.

Bones immediately stopped trying to scan him. His face softened in an instant.
"Jim, I am sorry," he whispered. "What happened, kiddo?"

Jim crumbled under the soft and caring voice. He was tired of being angry. He ran a hand over his face, hiding his eyes.

"You need a minute?" Bones asked softly.
Jim nodded, not taking his hand off his face. Bones left.

Jim took a shower, washing off all the traces of what had happened. When he stepped back into their shared bedroom, dressed in clean clothes, toweling his wet hair, Bones was sitting on his bed and waiting.

Jim started the mini replicator and brewed a strong cup of coffee. "I did walk. I wasn't lying."

"I believe you. But that wasn't all, was it?"

"No," Jim let out a long breath. How was he going to tell this to Bones?

"I met him," Jim went and sat down on the chair by the computer table, with his coffee in hand.

"Him?"

"Yeah, him." Jim's voice was very quiet.

"Oh! The green blooded hobgoblin you've been mooning over?"

Jim nodded and took a sip of the hot beverage.

Bones didn't say anything. For all his mutterings, McCoy knew exactly when to shut up. Slowly, a halting word after another, Jim told Bones everything.

When he finished, Bones was indignant, "He said what?"

"Well, technically, he is correct. I am - " Jim began in a defeated tone.

"All right, that's it." His friend got up and went to Jim's side of the closet and found his duffel bag.

"Bones?"

"You're coming with me," Bones started throwing Jim's clothes into the bag.

"Where?"

"To Georgia."

"I don't think so. It's your family holidays. I will be fine, trust me."

Bones finished flinging Jim's stuff and then checked the chronometer. "The next shuttle leaves in 30 minutes. We gotta hurry. C'mon!"

He hauled Jim off by the shoulders and despite his protests, Jim found himself seated on the next shuttle, headed towards Georgia.

 

 


  ( 3 months ago- Sep 29 2355 )

 

Spock started noticing Cadet Kirk everywhere after that day. Even when the Cadet wasn't in Spock's direct line of sight, Spock still "felt" his presence. He would be walking on his way to his own class when something would alert him and soon enough, he would spot the human turning a corner around a building, at a distance. Sometimes, the Cadet would abruptly turn towards Spock's direction, from across rooms or halls or campus grounds. Their eyes would meet and Spock would get goosebumps. A most curious phenomenon.

Spock wasn't a casual person. He took everything extremely seriously. Spock started conducting an extensive background check on the Cadet. Exceptionally brilliant, a natural leader, friendly, resourceful - these qualities were all obvious to anyone who took time to read the Cadet's background. But, also a repeat offender and a record of numerous disciplinary actions. Spock found that distasteful.


"Mother, how does one initiate friendship with a human?" He asked Amanda one evening during their daily calls. Amanda had been silent for last fifteen minutes, as she considered her next move, staring at the virtual chess board floating in air in front of her. Spock worked on his salad between the moves.

"Well, the same way you would initiate with anyone,"' Amanda replied, eyes still on the board.


"Mother, please, the complexities of human nuances escape me."


Amanda finally looked up and smiled. "You have had friends, Spock, here on Vulcan. You already know how to make friends. Just be yourself." She moved her bishop. A replica of the virtual chess board was on Spock's side and the same movement occurred on Spock's side, as well.

Spock chewed on his salad, pondering on his next move and what his mother had said about friendship.

Starfleet was a place where Spock had worked hard to establish himself. Being the only Vulcan and his exit from the Vulcan Science Academy not a secret, he had been relentless in his diligence in conducting himself with the dignity, confidence and manner befiting a Vulcan. And he had indeed succeeded. He was widely considered as the brightest cadet to have enrolled in StarFleet, gifted in every aspect. He hadn't come to Earth to waste his time in persuing friendships. So, what should he do?

"There is a particular human. However, I am unsure if it would be wise to devote my energy in this endeavor."
Amanda leaned back in her chair, crossed her arms neatly, a small smile playing on her lips, and asked, "You must have already thought about the pros and cons."

"Indeed."

She tilted her head and waited, her eyes smiling at him.


"The advantage would be, as you have often reminded me, to broaden my horizons. I find this individual fascinating, a highly intelligent and aesthetically -" Spock suddenly looked away from Amanda's eyes, needing to drop his gaze. His face felt slightly warm. He was perplexed at his own reaction.

"And the disadvantage?" Amanda prompted.

Spock shook off the confusing sensations and continued, "The Cadet has some undesirable traits."

"Who doesn't?"

Spock looked up at Amanda in surprise."Mother?"
"Who doesn't have some undesirable qualities, honey? She sounds like someone who would make a great friend."

"He. However, you do make a logical observation," Spock replied thoughtfully. And then made his next chess move on his side, which was instantaneously transmitted to his mother's side.

"Of course," Amanda smiled.

"You are also biased," Spock returned the smile without bending his lips.

"I am? How so?" Amanda shrugged playfully, her trademark gesture.

"You would like me to find friends. You have inquired about them every day since I have arrived here. Hence, any arguments you put forward have ulterior motives."

Amanda broke into laughter. "Guilty as charged. I do have ulterior motives, Spock."
Then she reached over and moved her queen, "Checkmate, son."

Spock's non-smile faded. He looked at the board for five minutes before exhaling. "I concede defeat, Mother. A most logical play, if I may say so."
Amanda stood up, then bowed slightly, and flashed a smile at him."Thank you, your excellency."
"Mother, that is ill-"

"I love you, sweetheart," she spoke warmly.
Spock didn't have an argument for that. He nodded slightly and then said shyly,"The feeling is mutual."

They bid farewell to each other and Spock went to bed formulating a plan on how to approach Cadet James Kirk.

 

Chapter Text

( 2 months ago - Oct 15 2355 )

Spock decided he needed data. Without data, no scientist could come to any conclusion. And to collect data, he needed to make multiple observations. In various settings.

 

The cafeteria was a good setting to begin with. Spock began to observe Cadet Kirk on as many mornings and evenings, as his schedule allowed, from a far enough distance that the Cadet was unaware. The Cadet often ate with his peers -a group of other high performing Cadets, each of whom was top in his or her own specialized field. One of them, a Nyota Uhura, was an advanced Xenolinguists student, able to speak even Romulan. Excellent. At the end of first week, Spock had approved Cadet Kirk’s social network.

 

Next, Spock decided to observe Cadet Kirk in Advanced Hand-to-Hand Combat class where Kirk served as an assistant instructor. This particular setting proved especially interesting. Having been convinced of the Cadet’s intelligence, Spock was surprised to see the Cadet engage in such physical setting with such ease. It also allowed Spock to observe the Cadet in combat clothes, which highlighted certain parts of the Cadet’s physique the usual uniform couldn’t. James seemed to relish in getting bruised, frequently getting red blotches on his limbs and face, during the exercises. It was fortunate that Cadet Kirk’s roommate was a medical student. Surely, Cadet McCoy had to be using the dermal regenerator often. James was an agile fighter, Spock noted. Extremely quick, though not unusually strong. He defeated his opponent using unpredictable moves and taught the same maneuvers to his class. During this phase of observation, Spock started having strange dreams. The dreams almost always had him and Cadet Kirk wrestling on the hot sands of his home planet. Spock rarely dreamed of anyone. Perhaps sometimes of his mother. And of his sehlat. But certainly never before, had his dreams involved such vivid details of Suus Mahna with another being. Fascinating.

 

After a month of observing Cadet Kirk every day, one afternoon Spock heard a snippet of conversation between Cadet Kirk and Cadet McCoy in the cafeteria. He hadn’t meant to eavesdrop, but his superior hearing picked up the raised voices.

“At the Midnight Blue,” Cadet Kirk was saying.

“C’mon, not the bar, Jim!” Cadet McCoy shook his head. “Why are you intent on destroying yourself?”

“You know damn well, why, Bones,” Cadet Kirk seemed unhappy.

“Running away from your past isn’t going to help -”

“Oh please, spare me the psychology bullshit.”

 

Spock couldn’t help but turn towards their direction and stare. James was definitely distressed. Spock felt strangely uneasy.

“Jim, I am sorry, you know I am! But I’m your friend, kiddo. You are not some random client. And it’s not bullshit. This is not healthy, the way -”

 

“Are you done?”

“No, but you are,“ Cadet McCoy’s tone was resigned.

“You got that right, at least,” Cadet Kirk stood up abruptly and stalked out. Spock was taken aback. He watched as Cadet McCoy kept sitting, with a look of defeat and concern on his face. The concern part Spock felt as well. He didn’t know what their disagreement was about, so he had no way of discerning if Cadet Kirk was right to have walked off.

 

 

Spock consulted his mini-PADD and found out that the term Midnight Blue was the name of an establishment in San Francisco. One of those establishments, where humans partook in activities and drinks, both of questionable quality. It seemed the time had come when Spock needed to observe the Cadet outside the Academy grounds. That meant going to this place what the humans called a “bar”.

 

“So, what are you planning to do over the weekend? “ Amanda asked that night during their regular chess games.

“The Federation's three-dimensional annual chess competition is tomorrow morning.”

“Oh that’s right! You’re in the finals, how could I forget? I must be getting old,” Amanda winked.

“Your memory is untarnished by age, Mother. I had, in fact, neglected to mention the exact date to you.” Spock sipped his soup while he spoke.

“Well, your game has certainly improved hugely since you joined StarFleet. Do you think you will win?”

“I hope to be the Grandmaster. However, my opponent, a young man called Pavel Chekov has quite a track record. Either way, it will be an enjoyable experience.”

“Good luck, honey.”

“Thank you. I am also...planning...to visit a bar in the evening.”

 

Amanda was in the middle of moving her knight, when she froze in surprise.

“A bar?”

“Affirmative.”

“Where we humans go to drink?” Amanda’s eyes were wide.

“I believe that is the correct description.”

 

Amanda unfroze and put her knight back to its original position.

“Are you not going to - “

“No, forget the game. I need to know why my very Vulcan son is planning to go to a bar tomorrow night!” Amanda’s eyes shone with intrigue.

 

Spock had not anticipated his mother’s intensity of reaction. He hesitated. For some oddly illogical reason, he had till now avoided mentioning his ongoing observations regarding Cadet Kirk.

“I intend to observe humans in settings outside the Academy.”

“Oh?” Amanda’s eyebrows almost reached her hairline. “Why?”

 

Spock looked down at his soup, suddenly feeling his cheeks grow warm. That strange sensation again. Surely, he should just tell his mother about his study. There was simply no reason to not tell. He enjoyed sharing his knowledge with Amanda, and she in turn, shared her insights from her research at the Vulcan Education Institute with him. Furthermore, he realized he was actively trying to conceal the truth. Vulcans did not lie and yet Spock found he was unable to tell the truth.

 

“Do you disapprove? Spock asked instead.

 

“Not at all. I am just surprised. It’s just not...you know, it’s quite adventurous for you,” Amanda smiled and relaxed a bit.

 

“The prospect of being surrounded by humans, who have no control over their emotions, is daunting I admit, even under regular circumstances. To do so, when they are intoxicated is quite an undertaking. However, I will be prepared.” Spock’s words seemed directed more at himself than at Amanda.

 

“Good for you, Spock! Just be careful and alert.”

 

“Mother, it is not my place to ask...but I am curious if you ever - “ Spock hesitated. Vulcans did not ask such private questions.

 

“No,” Amanda quickly answered. “I was never the drinking types. I preferred reading a book. I was quite boring, well by human standards,” she laughed. “Vulcan is just the right place for me, I fit in here quite well in many ways.”

Spock finished his soup and set his bowl aside. “I never imagined prior to joining StarFleet that I would be able to fit in anywhere.”

 

“Oh Spock! I know, honey, I know the feeling. To be honest, it wouldn’t be the same for me, had it not been for Sarek and you in my life. That made a difference for me, Spock. I have a family, you see. Though I am always the only non-Vulcan around here, it doesn’t matter as much, because Sarek and I believe in similar values. I have a home here, I raised you in that home, I have my research at the VEI, and I have my few chosen friends. That’s all I ever needed.”

 

Spock looked at his mother. They had never spoken so candidly about her decision to live on Vulcan. Now, Spock could see her point of view. Indeed, if he could find a partner, someone who loved the sciences as he did, and believed in IDIC as strongly he did, someone who shared his thirst to explore the universe...perhaps, Spock too could live anywhere. Perhaps, he would finally fit in. As these thoughts bloomed in his mind unbidden, his thoughts went to a pair of enchanting blue eyes set in a flawless face.

 

“Enjoy your weekend, dear; I will talk to you later then.” Amanda was speaking again. Spock snapped out of his reverie and hastily bid her farewell.

 

The next morning turned out to be quite enjoyable. Cadet Chekov was exceptionally talented, Spock noted, considering the difference between human and Vulcan brains. Spock did manage to win, but it was a hard earned victory and he let his opponent know the same. Spock became the first Vulcan grandmaster in the Federation's three-dimensional chess tournament.

 

( 1 month ago - Nov 25 2355 )

 

The Midnight Blue was situated on the roof of the tallest building in San Francisco. Spock took a deep breath, checked his mental shields and then entered the lobby of the building. He took the sleek looking turbolift to the top floor. True to its name, in spite of the very late hour, the bar had a vibrant and energetic crowd. The night sky glittered with stars above them.

Spock found the nearest heat lamp and stationed himself next to it. Finding Cadet Kirk was going to take quite a bit of searching. Given the loud music, he could not rely on his hearing. Also, the illumination coming from thousands of candles and sunk-in lights was not sufficient to clearly study faces around him.

He was dressed in a sweater, a jacket over it and a woolen beanie. After 26 minutes of pushing through the crowds and pretending to drink the beverage in his hand, Spock had still been unable to locate Cadet Kirk. Perhaps the Cadet had left. He decided to terminate the experiment, when a sudden commotion caught his attention. He craned his neck and stood on his tiptoes to see what the uproar was about.

 

"Why don't you try someone your own size?" A man was saying in a loud, slurred voice.

 

"What's wrong with you? Go, pick a fight somewhere else." Another man replied rudely.

 

"I am not going anywhere, Mister," the first man replied, lurching towards the other. Spock realized with shock, the man with the slurred speech was Cadet Kirk.

"This is my spot and I own it." Spock had never seen the Cadet act so irrationally. His movements were severely uncoordinated as well.

 

"Fuck off," a second, burly man came and stood next to the man James was talking to.

 

"Don't talk to me like that, you moron. I am a StarFleet Cadet!" James replied, eyes unfocused. Spock grimaced. The Cadet was, at that moment, a disgrace to StarFleet Academy.

 

The two men laughed derisively.

"You're no one! You're a loser." A third man pushed James roughly in the chest. James lost balance and crashed heavily on the floor. Spock gasped in shock. He started pushing through the crowd.

 

A fourth man joined them and started punching James violently. Spock's blood turned cold when he saw his human getting slammed against one of the tables. One of the men landed a vicious blow across his jaw. Spock had almost reached the scene of the fight, when five security personnel showed up. The men were led away. Spock followed them but missed the turbolift they all entered. He waited impatiently for the next one, which took an entire minute to arrive.

 

Down in the lobby, he frantically looked around for James, but saw no sign of him or the men. The receptionist informed him that the gang had been asked to leave the premises.

Spock ran outside into the cool night, his breathing hard as panic began to creep in. He heard grunts coming from somewhere down the road, from a hidden alley. He made a mad dash in that direction, turned around the corner, and spotted the men in the unlit, narrow alley. They were kicking James, who was on the ground.

In an instant, Spock had pulled one man off his human and tossed him away with such force, that the man crashed against the opposite wall. He pivoted, grasped another man's arm and flung his entire body over his own shoulder. The third man had barely raised a fist aimed at Spock, when Spock's fingers tightened around his wrist and twisted. The man cried out in pain. Spock was hit from behind. He crouched low and swung around. A swift kick at the fourth man's chest resulted in the man howling.

 

"Leave," Spock growled at the four of them. Hobbling and crying, they skittered away immediately.

 

Spock turned his attention back to the unconscious body of his human.

"Cadet? James?" Spock whispered, trembling uncontrollably, overcome with fear. The Cadet's lips were swollen and blood was leaking from a deep cut. A gash over the left eyelid was bleeding profusely.

"James? Jim! Please," Spock bent over the unresponsive face, fingers touching the delicate skin gingerly. All logic and rationality left Spock. There was only one thing on his mind - his human's life, which he would protect with his own. 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

Spock was struggling. His thoughts were in complete disarray. His shields were failing.

 

Was his human dying?

 

Breathing rapidly, as if he was being asphyxiated from inside his own mind, his eyes darted manically around the alley. There was no one around. Jim wasn't moving and Spock's brain had shut down. He couldn't remember basic human biology. He couldn't remember elementary emergency medical procedures.

 

What was he supposed to do?

 

He shook his head right and left, like a wounded, disoriented animal. And then something deep inside him twisted in agony. Spock let out a strangled cry. His entire world narrowed down to the bloodied face cradled in his arms. Acting on some primal instinct, Spock placed his fingers across Jim's right temple and cheek. He didn't even have time to complete the usual mind-meld Vulcan phrase.

 

He lost his footing and fell headlong into a dark, deep abyss. He thrashed his hands out wildly trying to find something to grab onto, but it was pitch dark. There was nothing to grab onto.

 

With a thud, he landed on a bedroom floor, and spotted Jim right away. He was smiling and well and alive! What a relief! The next moment, Spock gasped and recoiled. Jim wasn't alone. He was in bed with two alien females. Spock watched in utter dismay as Jim undressed slowly with a smile on his face and the females looked at him, making obscene noises.

 

No! Not him! Please!

 

He kept watching hypnotized in horror, while every fiber in him screamed in protest, as Jim touched and caressed and kissed and licked. The man who had invaded Spock's dreams, who had become Spock's own center of gravity, gave himself away willingly to others, in front of Spock's own eyes. The three engaged in consensual, enthusiastic, sex. Again and again. Then, Jim dressed, and left.

 

Spock followed him on auto pilot. He felt numb. As if his heart had been taken out of his body entirely. There was nothing left. He felt nothing. He did not want to see anymore, but he seemed to be lost. Jim was walking in front of him on a street. Spock could smell faint traces of alcohol coming from Jim even from the short distance. Jim pulled his communicator out of his pocket and put it to his ear.

"I'm fine, Bones. I told you not to call."

"Will you at least comm me so I can come pick you up?"

"I can get a hover, Bones."

"The last time -"

"Would you quit it, already? I'm not a baby," Jim replied in an irked tone.

 

He snapped the communicator shut and put it back in his pocket. Turning around the corner, he entered a tall building, which Spock now recognized as Midnight Blue. He watched Jim's evening unfold, as Jim consumed glass after glass at the bar, sitting alone. His behavior deteriorated with every passing moment. Spock could take it no more. He had seen enough of Jim's memories. The mind meld had begun completely out of control. Now all Spock wanted to do was to find Jim and resuscitate him, and then he wanted to leave. This was not a mind he wanted to come back to, ever again. This was not a human he wanted to think of, again.

 

When he felt himself falling a second time, he looked down and realized the long, dark tunnel was ending. His crashed onto hot, hard surface. The darkness of the tunnel was replaced by a red, glowing sky. All around him, in every direction, everything was burning. Flames leapt high into the air and acrid smoke entered his nostrils. He whirled around, trying to find Jim.

 

Between the flames, he spotted a body lying on the sizzling ground. Spock dodged the fires as best he could, and ran towards Jim. Sharp pain shot through his limbs, as he got burned a few times. Spock's brain had finally started working. He checked for Jim's breath, and began mouth to mouth resuscitation. Spock kept pumping the frail human heart and breathing into the soft lips, alternately. 

 

Please, Jim. Come back to me.

Jim coughed and blood spurted out of his lips. The fire around him started dying and slowly the sky turned from red to pale blue. The intense heat disappeared.

 

Spock was thrown out of the meld with a sudden force. The low vibration coming from Jim's pocket caught his attention. He reached inside Jim's trousers, and pulled out the communicator. The screen showed "Bones calling". Spock took the call without hesitation.

 

"Jim? Why have you not been answering? It's been five goddamn hours that -" An angry voice on the other end shouted.

 

"May I know whom am I speaking to?" Spock replied.

 

The voice went deadly silent.

 

Spock waited and then repeated, "May I know whom am I speaking to?"

 

"Who the hell are you?"

 

"The owner of this device is currently unable to answer. Please identify yourself."

 

"What the bloody - I am McCoy. Dr. Leonard McCoy. I am a Starfleet doctor in training. Now tell me who are you and what are you doing with Jim's communicator?"

 

"I am Cadet Spock. Cadet Kirk was...physically assaulted by four unknown men. He is unconscious at the moment. Should I call the authorities?"

 

"No! Don't call anyone. He can't afford to have that on his record." Dr. McCoy said in an urgent tone.

 

"I do not - "

 

"Where are you? Give me your coordinates."

 

Spock did so.

 

"Stay put right there! Don't leave him!"

 

"I have no intentions of leaving him." Spock replied and ended the call.

 

His emotions were still in chaos, but the panic had left. Spock knew Jim wouldn't die anymore. Spock slumped down besides the limp body, letting go of his rigid poise. He was exhausted. Why had Cadet Kirk behaved such recklessly? 

 

Dr. McCoy arrived in a few minutes by a hovercraft. He came prepared with his medical kit.

 

"What happened? Why did he get beaten up?" The doctor asked, scanning Jim with a hand-held medical device.

 

"I cannot be sure. However, Cadet Kirk was intoxicated and he seemed to be in some disagreement with his attackers."

 

"Yeah, I can see that he is drunk. Dammit, Jim."

 

"Are you aware of why would he choose to get intoxicated this way? The Academy's code of behavior clearly state that -"

 

"For God's sake man, don't quote me the rule book. It's not like he gets drunk every day."

 

"Then why today?"

 

Dr. McCoy didn't answer immediately. He worked on Jim, muttering unintelligibly, administering several hypos. After several minutes, he looked up at Spock. "It's his mom's birthday."

 

Spock blinked. Why would someone choose to celebrate their mother's birthday this way?

 

"I didn't know he had made plans with you. I didn't even know you guys had gotten to -"

 

"No," Spock hurriedly clarified. "Cadet Kirk is unaware of my presence. This was merely a coincidence that I was able to intervene."

 

"Intervene? Did you fight them off or what?"

 

"I had no choice."

 

"Oh!" The doctor studied Spock's face for a few seconds and then said, “He has suffered internal injuries. I need to take him to back to the Academy. Are you injured?"

 

"Negative," Spock replied. "I will accompany you."

 

Spock helped Dr. McCoy move Jim's body to the waiting hovercraft. One side of the seating was unfolded so it converted to a bed. They both sat down on the opposite side.

 

"What is the extent of his injuries?" Spock asked.

 

"It's bad but he will live. That kid has seen way worse. Looks like you got there in time. He owes you one."

 

Spock winced involuntarily on hearing that Jim had endured more violence in his life. The evening had culminated into a disastrous end. He had never meant for his human to be aware that he was observing him. But now, it was out of question that the Cadet could know of his involvement.

"I have a request, Doctor."

 

"Yeah...sure."

 

"I would like Cadet Kirk to not know of my involvement."

 

Dr. McCoy's right eyebrow rose sharply. "You want to be an anonymous Samaritan?"

 

Spock did not consider himself a Samaritan. For reasons eluding his brain right then, his loyalty and devotion to the Cadet had much deeper roots than he had realized. But that was hardly a reasonable explanation for the doctor, so he just nodded.

 

"Well, if that's what you want." The doctor shrugged. "Are you sure you are not injured?"

 

Spock was very sure. Dr. McCoy dropped him off near the west end of the Academy grounds.

 

"Listen, I know you are Vulcan and all...but if you feel anything funny tomorrow, any headache or blurry vision or anything, here take my number. And take his as well. Jim would like to thank you in person, I'm sure."

 

With a final reminder that Spock shouldn't mention the incident to authorities, Dr. McCoy left.

 

Spock did not like withholding information. It was against the regulations. But, he was relieved that he didn't have to explain his behavior and his involvement to anyone. It was a night he wanted to erase from his memory if he could.

 

The next morning, Spock woke up, having slept only a few hours. He sat up on the bed, and found that he had no enthusiasm to get ready. There was no rush to get to the cafeteria, anymore. The observations were pointless now. His experiment had failed. That happened in science. Spock ought not to feel so heart broken by it. But nevertheless he was. No doubt if his father or any of his teachers, came to know of his state of mind right then, he would have been chastised. Hadn't the whole point of his study been to gather data, and arrive at the most logical conclusion? He had his data now.

 

He and Cadet Kirk were incompatible.

 

Spock crossed his arms around his torso, trying to hold himself up, and sit straight. The word incompatible seemed to have a weight all of its own, and it was crushing him. He checked his shields to make sure none of his agony seeped through his parental bonds. He didn't want to alert his parents of anything amiss. He doubted any changes could be detected over such long distances but he wanted to be sure.

 

Slowly, he forced himself to get ready for the day. Nothing had changed. He had the same schedule as always, the same classes he had to attend. But, Spock had inexplicably lost interest.

There had been a constant rush of energy that had been driving him recently. Life had become so much purposeful, so interesting and so pleasant. Now that he found himself running on empty; he realized with painful clarity, that this new drive had all been due to his interest in Cadet Kirk.

Except it wasn't Cadet Kirk anymore, was it? It was Jim. His Jim.

Spock's heart squeezed at his side. With his toothbrush in his hand, he doubled over the sink as a fresh wave of memories from last night hit him - the mind meld.

It wasn't just a study, was it? No, this was about his life.

His fingers twitched. The numbers given by Dr. McCoy beckoned to him. He wanted to message his human. He wanted to know if Jim was in pain. Was he recovering well? Spock wanted to be near Jim. Tend to his needs, to feed him, bathe him, take care of his precious human. The need was overwhelming. The touch of Jim's skin was intoxicating. The memory of Jim's naked body, the sound of his voice, sent shivers down Spock's spine. He wanted to - Spock's thoughts faltered - he...he wanted...Jim. Desire coursed through him. 

The toothbrush fell from Spock's hand. He stared at himself in the mirror as the full extent of his epiphany dawned on him. 

Desire. Spock had not experienced such an emotion before. He wanted Jim to be his. His, alone. In mind, in body and in katra. In every possible way. Oh! he wanted Jim to be his k'hat'n'dlawa.

 

Spock bent his head and his shoulders sagged in defeat. He knew what he desired was impossible to have. Jim wasn't Vulcan. He was a human with different needs and different values. A tear silently trickled down Spock's cheek.

Spock was neither human nor Vulcan. There was no one else like him in the universe. No one would understand his needs. How had he forgotten this truth of his existence?

With the back of his hand, he wiped away the physical manifestation of his misery. He completed brushing, got dressed and left his room. Life had always been about his duty. He had lost his way somehow, gotten sucked into a world of hopes and dreams. But, Spock wouldn't live in an illusion anymore. He walked with his back straight, his head held rigid as always. A child of two worlds; no one would ever want to be his, neither would he ever belong to anyone. Or anywhere.

 

Cadet Spock reached his first class and his long day began.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

The Xenolinguistic class was interesting and the instructor was excellent as well. Yet Spock's attention kept drifting away.

He was having trouble concentrating on the holoimages being projected in the air, ahead of him. A set of entirely different images were wreaking havoc inside his mind - the curve of a neck, the dip of a clavicle, a freckle on a smooth back, the play of muscles on Jim's biceps as he thrust. Just as it had been that morning, desire burnt through Spock's veins. But this time, to his horror, Spock's penis became swollen with blood. This was not the first time his penis had acted on its own accord. Since a young boy, Spock had experienced the sudden engorgement phenomenon but in the past, it had taken just a fraction of a moment for him to regain control.

Vulcans could control several physiological responses using their minds alone, and Spock was particularly gifted at it, much to the chagrin of his full-blooded Vulcan classmates. When his peers were grappling with their first Pon Farr, Spock had no such problems. He took quiet pride in his ability to maintain his logic. The loss of control others had so ridiculed him for, all his young life, proved to be his peers' ultimate undoing when they reached their teens. As Spock grew up past the age of first Pon Farr, and skipped having to endure the shameful phase, there was a change in the attitude among his peers. He was still not accepted but the dynamics had shifted. Spock had conquered the one thing which Vulcan males feared. He was no longer ridiculed.

So, it came as a shock to him, that for the first time in his life, his penis would not listen to his mind. Even worse, emotional desire had never been coupled with a physical arousal. He was in completely uncharted waters.

Spock was grateful that he was seated, and that the class was filled with other humans, who were hopefully oblivious to his plight. Spock tried to viciously push away the indecent images of Cadet Kirk, but he failed. Spock's perfect memory supplied him a clear picture of pink, plump lips opened in ectasy as Jim moaned. More blood rushed to his groin.

A bump to his knee brought the torrent of images to a halt. The human female sitting next to him, bumped his knee again, under the table they were sharing. Spock looked at her in annoyed surprise. She was staring at him with dark, intelligent eyes.

"She is asking you about the history of Vulcan dialects," the female whispered in tones, not audible to anyone but Vulcan ears. Spock recalled her name from the group of students he had observed in Cadet Kirk's social group. Cadet Nyota Uhura.

Spock turned towards the instructor and became aware of the entire class looking at him expectedly.

"Spock, are you well?" Professor Chopra asked him.

Spock swallowed. Humiliation finally killed his arousal. "I apologize for my behavior," he focused on keeping his voice even. Then, thanks to his human savior's tip, he launched into an explanation of Vulcan dialects . Both Professor Chopra as well as rest of his classmates had several questions about the topic and the rest of that day's Xenolingustics was spent dedicated to it.

After the class concluded, Spock walked out hastily, shame laying on him like a heavy cloak.

"Spock?" Someone called out his name from behind.

Spock frowned and stopped walking. It turned out to be Cadet Uhura. She came running up to him.

"I am sorry. I don't meant to pry. I was just wondering if everything is fine with you?" She asked.

"Fine has variable definitions," Spock replied, not wanting to answer her actual question. Why was she interested in him?

"Yes, it is. I am also aware that you understand what it means. If you do not wish to answer my question, please just say so. I value honest communication," she replied with no trace of hostility.

Spock stared at her in slight amazement. This had certainly not been the answer he had expected. What a refreshing reply.

"You are correct, Cadet Uhura." Spock nodded respectfully. "I do not wish to answer your query, however, I am grateful for your concern."

"You know my name," she smiled slightly.

"As you do mine."

She smiled wider, crosser her arms and studied him for a few moments. Curiously, Spock did not feel at unease. Perhaps, it was because, when she had bumped his knee, he had picked only benign emotions from the touch. She was genuinely concerned about him and the concern was of a selfless nature.

"Fair enough," she spoke after sometime. "I do think though, you are not yourself today, and something is wrong. I have observed you everyday since our class began and you have never been inattentive."

Spock's eyebrows bunched up slightly. He didn't want to oppose her accurate deductions but he was absolutely not interested in sharing the reason behind his inattentiveness. She raised a hand, when he tried to interrupt her, and continued speaking, "I understand how private Vulcans are, Spock, and I will never violate your privacy. I know you don't need me or anyone, either. I am here to simply offer company."

Oh.

Interesting.

"We can have lunch together since we are both headed that way, anyways," she offered again, when he had not spoken for a few seconds.

Spock had not eaten with anyone since he had arrived on Earth, and in her company, he did seem to feel better. He enjoyed solitude and had never sought out company before, but given everything that had happened the night before, Spock was feeling despondent and he couldn't deny that in his mind.

He dipped his head again, out of both gratitude and respect, and replied, "Very well."

They walked together to the cafeteria in comfortable silence. At the replicators, she replicated a meal of rice, spinach and fish for herself, while Spock opted for a cup of Vulcan tea. His apetite was non existent.

"A wise choice," she nodded at his tea, once they had found a corner table for the two of them, next to the huge windows offering the view of San Francisco's bay. "On days I am feeling down, I find tea comforting."

"Do you prefer tea over coffee?" Spock had observed coffee being the beverage of choice among humans, so far.

"Oh yes. I come from a region where tea is the way of life," she smiled again, a small, gentle curve of lips.

"I was not aware regional differences dictated preference in beverage."

"Not always. Both coffee and tea are popular all over Earth. But, yes, in some parts, tea has been historically consumed, whereas in other parts, coffee," Nyota replied between bites of her meal.

"May I ask where is your region located on the planet?"

"I am from a small town called Malindi,in the United State of Africa. We drink tea several times a day," she laughed gracefully.

Spock took out his mini-PADD and opened the planetary atlas. With her aid, he located Malindi - a coastal town on the shores of Indian ocean. She showed him images of her people, food, housing and clothes.

"It appears the temperature there is different from here, judging from the clothes you wear," Spock commented.

"Absolutely. It's one of the hottest regions on the planet. The coast actually helps to lower the temperature a bit for us, but further inland, it's dry and hot all year through." She finished her meal, rested her cutlery neatly on the plate and picked up her glass of water. "You would enjoy the climate, Spock. It is closest to Vulcan you'll find on Earth."

Spock raised an eyebrow.

She laughed, that gentle, musical laugh again, and said, "Yes, I am inviting you, if you ever want to visit."

"I am flattered, Cadet Uhura."

"Would you like me to address you as Cadet Spock, then?" She raised her own eyebrow at him.

Spock hesitated. Then, he understood what she was saying.

"Negative," he shook his head. After a momentary pause, he added awkwardly, "Nyota."

The returning smile was dazzling. Her eyes lit up. "Good," she replied. "I have Advanced Phonology to go to, unfortunately, otherwise I would have loved to stay back and chat with you," she picked up her plate.

Spock had not realized how an entire hour had passed. "Perhaps, we can repeat the -" he stopped speaking mid-sentence, shame coming back in full force. Since when had he started inviting humans to have meal with him?

Nyota's expression changed minutely as she read his face. Kind eyes looked at him.

"Spock, I would like to be friends with you. I admire your intellect and as a Xenolinguistics major, I am of course, interested in non-human cultures and languages. However, for the very same reasons, I am also well aware of the differences between us and alien cultures. I understand concepts such as human friendship is not the same on other planets. My friendship is meant to offer you comfort and company, not cause you distress. As I already stated, I value openness and honesty. If you don't want to have lunch with me again, please just say so."

Spock exhaled in relief. He had missed this quality in humans. This ability to be transparently open. What a respite from having to dance around ambigous language games.

"I welcome your company. I am...I am uncertain about my plans for tomorrow. I have been indeed under unexpected stress lately. May I have your number so we can schedule our time in future?"

"Sure. That's the logical thing to do," she smiled at him, with an expression he couldn't exactly decipher. "Here," she offered her number and he gave her his.

"Can I message you sometimes to inquire about your well-being?" She asked, flipping her long ponytail off her shoulder.

Oh! Spock was taken aback yet again.

Her kindness and affection for him unnerved him. He fumbled around for a suitable reply. She reached across the table and gently placed her hand on his upper arm. The touch was nothing like he had felt when Jim had tapped him in the cafeteria a while back. That had been like lightning striking him. This was like a gentle breeze.

"See?" She tilted her head, "I mean what I am saying."

Her knowledge of telepathy and use of it as proof to reassure him, impressed him and moved him, at the same time. Through her touch, he sensed her feelings of comradeship, nothing amorous. She wasn't lying. He calmed down.

"Yes, you may message me. I am unaccustomed to such communication, but please do not let that dissuade you. I would like to be a friend to you, as well." After spending almost two hours with her, he realized he had forgotten all his manners. How dreadfully selfish of him! "Apologies for my behavior today. Thank you for your help in class. May I ask, how are you, Nyota?"

"Oh!" she smiled, "don't worry about formalities. I know you are disturbed. Whatever it is, I hope it gets better. If you want to talk about it, though that is a very human thing to do, please know I am available. I am a good listener and most importantly I am your friend, I will not judge." She removed her hand. "To answer your question, I am well, Spock. I'm glad to have made a wonderful friend today. Take care and I will see you later, okay?" She stood up, plate in hand, waved him the human gesture of good bye and walked away.

  

Chapter Text

 

 

 

(Dec 24th 7 AM , Suwanee, Georgia.)

 

"Okay, listen, Jim, don't freak out, there may be quite a lot of folks in there," Bones said.

 

"I will be fine. Just let me stay in a hotel, really -"

 

"Kid, no guest of my family has ever stayed in a hotel. That's not how it works here."

 

Bones led him on a short walk along the dirt road. The fresh countryside air and lush greenery was heavenly but Jim was feeling nauseous. His head had started throbbing on the ride to Georgia.

 

They came to a pair of huge iron gates. While his friend got his fingerprints scanned at the security panel, Jim looked around with curiosity. Sitting behind the iron gates, he could spot a sprawling red brick, plantation-style mansion, surrounded by acres of land, a basketball court and ...was that a lake?!

 

"I thought you said you were a simple, country boy?"

 

Bones actually cracked a rare, pure smile. The gates swung open and they both walked in, bags on their shoulders. "It's just our ancestral property. We're simple people, you'll see."

 

Beautiful red poinsettias were everywhere - along the entry way, on the verandas, and on both sides of the short flight of stairs, which ended at the front door. The doors were open and Jim could hear voices coming from inside.

 

"Lenny!" A cannonball of clothes and hair shot out from inside and the next thing Jim knew, his friend was being smothered. Jim watched in slow amusement as Bones got kissed all over his face by a woman, who could only be his friend's mother, because Jim couldn't think of anyone else in the entire galaxy, who could get away with that behavior.

 

"Mamma, this is Jim." Bones looked abashed but he was smiling like a little boy. Jim felt his heart swell at the sight of his friend's relaxed happiness. At the Academy, Bones was almost always buried in books, medical track being the most grueling. And even when not studying, Bones wasn't ever as carefree like he was now - standing wrapped up in his mother's arms.

 

Jim understood in that moment, why people liked to go home. It's not like he was oblivious. But, standing there, the realization really hit him. Home meant something entirely different to others.

 

 

"Eleanora," Bones' mom shook his hand firmly, "Call me Ellie, I have heard about you from Leonard, of course."

 

"You shouldn't trust your son entirely," Jim smiled at her. "Bones has a flair for drama."

 

"Bones?" Ellie asked surprised.

 

"Yeah, that's what this butthead has nicknamed me."

 

She laughed, “I like it. It's funny." She winked at Jim.

 

"Don't feed into his ego, Mamma," Bones rolled his eyes.

 

But Jim's ego had indeed been stoked. He instantly fell in love with Eleanora. Plus, there was something really calming about her. She was a tall, slim woman with bright, intelligent eyes.

 

"Well, Jim, welcome to our home. You'll be sharing Leonard's room; I hope you don't mind that. We have a full house, as all of our extended family arrived yesterday."

 

"I don't mind at all. It'll be just like at the Academy. We share room there anyways," Jim spoke earnestly, "I am sorry for the inconvenience for my last minute plans. I tried to convince Bones that -”

 

"Jim," Ellie put up a hand. "I'll hear none of that." There was such authority in her voice that Jim closed his mouth. "Now, if you need anything, just let me know, all right?" She smiled warmly.

 

“I will. Thank you Ma’am.” Jim shuffled awkwardly, feeling every bit of a burden he knew he was.

 

Ellie studied him for a long moment, the three of them standing at the front doors. "Leonard tells me you are planning to be a starship Captain?"

 

"Yes, Ma'am."

 

"Jim, in here," she pointed to the inside of the house, "I am the Captain and taking care of my crew is not an inconvenience to me. I enjoy it. You understand that, don't you?"

 

Jim's eyebrows rose. He obviously understood her. He would never want a new crew member to feel like they were not welcome.

 

"I do. Thank you, Ellie," Jim replied quietly. In less than a few moments, Bones' mother had managed to understand Jim more than his own family ever had.

 

“Good, come in,” Ellie ushered them in, one hand around her son’s waist. Jim took a deep breath and followed them inside.

 

There were about fifteen people in the living room. Jim was introduced to the various family members. Ellie’s two sisters’ families as well as Bones’ dad’s brother’s family had all come over for the holidays. Jim watched as Bones went over and hugged everyone. Two tween boys shook hands with Bones and a little girl jumped up and down in excitement. Bones scooped the girl up in his arms and kissed her forehead.

 

The feeling of ease which Jim had felt moments earlier evaporated. He felt out of place instantly. An intruder upon a private moment in a loving family. He wore a cocky grin to hide it.

 

"Where's Dad?" Bones asked his mom.

"Cooking up a storm," she waved towards what must be the kitchen.

 

Bones thumped Jim's back, the little girl in his other arm, wrapped around his torso, and said, "Let's go meet the chef."

 

Inside a spacious kitchen with high ceiling, stood a tall, wiry man, a knife in his hand expertly moving in the fast, repetitive motions borne of expertise. He looked up as they walked in and Jim was struck by the similarity. Bones was a spitting image of his dad. Cubed potatoes lay in a heap, next to neatly diced onions and chopped collard greens.

 

Dad and son embraced and exchanged greetings.

"My roommate. James Kirk," Bones introduced. "Jim, this is my Dad, David McCoy."

"Welcome home, young man," Jim got thumped on his back again. “How are you doing, son?”

“Thank you, sir. I really appreciate-“

David shook his head and looked at him with crinkled eyes, "Want to help me get some eggs, boys?"

 

Jim had no time to respond. David was already on the move. Bones followed and Jim hurried to keep up.

"How are the girls?" Bones was asking.

"In perfect health," David replied. They exited through the back of the house and stepped out into a beautiful, wooded backyard. Blue water gleamed in the morning sunlight in a corner, and Jim realized it was a swimming pool he had spotted earlier, not a lake. "The new one, there she is, you haven't met her."

 

Jim saw the most comforting sight he had seen since coming to Bones' home.

Hens clucking, chasing each other, scratching and pecking - doing the things hens do.  His heart soared with joy.

 

Jim had been raised on a farm and nothing made him feel more like home. Soon, he was sitting on hay, in the slightly cold Georgia air, watching as the beautiful birds roamed around him, their little legs carrying them in that adorable way Jim had always loved.

 

David, the little girl and Bones were hunched over a gorgeous, golden colored hen. "This is Scarlett, she arrived two months back."

While Bones got to know Scarlett, David walked around collecting fresh eggs.

"Do you like her?" the little girl asked.

"I love her," Bones pulled her in an embrace and then put her on his knees. "What about you, Joanna?"

"Me too. She is my favorite now. It used to be Rosalie, but I think I like Scarlett more," she informed Bones with the utter seriousness of a child.

 

Jim watched the two interact with intrigue. There was something different about his best friend. His face had an expression of softness around the eyes that Jim had never seen before.

 

David left them with the hens and went back indoors to cook breakfast.

 

Joanna turned towards Jim, from her perch on Bones' lap. "What about him?" she whispered shyly.

"Jim, come over here."

 

"Jim, this is Joanna, she is five years old."

“Five and a half,” Joanna immediately replied.

 

Jim smiled and knelt down next to Bones.

"Hi," he smiled at her.

 

"Hi," Joanna replied, her black hair hanging in tight, curls around her little face. She resembled none of the McCoys with her dark brown skin and grey eyes.

 

"Do you like hens?" she asked.

 

Jim nodded. "I grew up with them."

"Really?" she leaned forward forgetting her shyness as her face lit up.

"Oh yeah," Jim said. "I grew up on a farm. With cows and horses and hens."

She turned to Bones. "Can we get cows too, Papa? Please?"

Bones started laughing. "I don't think so, kiddo. At least, not yet."

Joanna pouted.

 

Someone called her name from inside the house. "I think Dada is calling you."

"I want to eat with you," she pouted again.

"I am coming in five minutes. You go and get started."

"Show me your watch."

Bones flipped his wrist and Joanna tapped on his watch. "I set the timer for five minutes. Don't be late or there will be cosenses…consequences," she said stumbling on the last word.

"Yes, Ma'am," Bones put her down.

 

She scampered off. Jim watched her go and then eyed Bones, "Papa?"

His best friend stood up. "Yeah, you probably caught that, huh?" He walked around the coop, between the hens, checking their feed and water.

"She was born a mile away from here. To my older brother's classmate. I was there when she was born and remember the day like it was yesterday. She was a happy little baby. Her parents, both Starfleet ground crews, were very close to our family. They came over almost daily in the evenings, and I became quite attached to her." Bones let one of the hens peck at his boots, as he continued."Three years ago, they both died in a fire while on duty."

"Oh God!" Jim exclaimed.

Bones sighed heavily. "It was a tragedy of unimaginable magnitude. In one day, Joanna became an orphan. She had no other family. So, I - " Bones looked at Jim, " adopted her. She is my daughter legally."

Jim stared at his friend. "She is yours?"

 

"Yes. I was planning to tell you but it's hard to talk about her and you...well you know, how things have been for you. I have been too worried about you, Jim."

The timer on Bones' wrist stared ringing.

"Let's go inside. She is learning about time in school and I better not disappoint her."

 

"But how can you be a dad, Bones? You're 20 and still studying."

"I know that. That's why my folks are raising her. They will probably raise her till she is old enough to decide for herself what she wants to do. But she calls me Papa and she knows I am her new father. And honestly Jim, I have loved her like my own since she was one day old. Not all families start out planned, you know," Bones' voice was barely audible. "You gotta do what's best given the circumstances."

 

Jim was overcome with unexpected emotion and just nodded. Joanna's story had hit too close home.

 

Breakfast was a noisy affair and absolutely delicious. Jim scarfed everything down, listening with wonder at the easy flow of conversation around him. It was such a different vibe than what he was used to.  

 

Ellie came over to him afterwards. "Lenny, why don't you show Jim your room? Let him freshen up a bit. He looks tired."

 

Bones' room, like everything in the house, was huge and spacious, with a private veranda and two beds. Jim flopped down on one of the beds. It was warm and soft. He felt exhausted. He hadn’t slept all of last night. And the nausea was coming back in waves.

Bones started unpacking and putting away his stuff in his closet. “Listen Jim, you be you. No one’s going to bother you, I swear. You don’t have to hang out with us if it feels uncomfortable. You can go explore the country side.”

 

"Thanks," Jim replied weakly. He had no energy. His friend turned towards him and then scowled.

 

"What?" Jim asked defensively.


“You feeling okay?" Bones came over to Jim's bed.

 

"Just tired. I think I’ll take a nap.”

 

"Hmmm," Bones seemed unconvinced. He put a finger under Jim's right eye. Jim flinched.

 

"Jim, be still!" Bones put his finger under the eye again and pulled the skin down gently. "Look up," his friend ordered, in his doctor voice.

 

Jim looked up obediently. Bones peered at him. Then, he did the same thing with Jim's left eye. Wordlessly, Bones walked over to his med kit and took out a long thin pen like medical gadget. He examined Jim's eyes again, this time with the pen-like thingy.

 

Jim became impatient. "What is it?"

 

Bones straightened up. He rubbed his chin, "Am not sure. I’m a little stumped at this whole thing going on with you. Do you feel funny again?"

 

"I am kinda beat. I didn't sleep last night and you know, it was not exactly a fun night. I just feel a little...low." Jim shrugged.

 

"What kind of low?"

 

"I have that...wierd headache."

 

"When did it start?"

 

"Sometime...I don't know...I think may be when we were on the shuttle to here."

 

Bones looked unhappy. "May be we can figure what is wrong with you, here. My entire family is doctors and medical professionals. Between the all of us, we -"

 

"No!" Jim balked. "I am not going to be your guinea pig, okay? You promised me you won't tell anyone!"

 

"And you promised me you will not throw away your life like that ever again!"

 

"Have I?" Jim asked. "I told you already, last night I just went walking. Even though I felt like shit, I didn't think of it, Bones. I'm sorry for what happened on my mom's birthday." Jim looked away, his voice low. "You saved my life. You always do. You have been the best friend anyone can ask for. I don't know how to thank you."

 

Bones sat down on Jim's bed. "You would have done the same thing for me." He laid a hand on Jim's forearm. "We don't have to tell them your whole life story. I won't tell them anything. But Jim, I am really worried. It's been a month now, and at first I thought…maybe you had a head concussion or something. But I have run all kinds of tests on you. It doesn't make sense and I feel..." Bones hesitated, "I feel scared, Jim. I am not experienced. What if I am missing something? These are my folks. It will be all in the family. I promise, we will talk only about the medical symptoms and nothing else."

 

"Let me think about it," Jim replied.

 

“Okay, take a nap. I’ll wake you up for lunch,” Bones replied.

 

"I feel like puking."

 

Bones went over to his medkit and got out a hypo. "This will take off the nausea."

 

“Thanks, man.” Jim kicked off his boots. "I'll be fine. Go and have fun with them."

 

Bones looked at Jim for few seconds while Jim got settled under the covers and then his friend left.

 

Jim stared at the ceiling. The warm light streaming from the window made patterns of shadows on it. He had told Bones he was feeling a little low. A little low was an understatement. Jim felt awful. What he couldn't tell Bones was that he couldn't stop thinking about Spock. He had been having strange dreams every night for quite a while now.

 

Last night on the bus, it had felt like his dreams had turned into reality. Jim closed his eyes, as the memory of Spock's head resting on his shoulders came back to him. His heart ached with the need to feel that again. In spite of how Spock had behaved later, Jim felt such acute need to be near Spock, that it felt physically painful.

 

He had told Bones mostly everything except some details. Somehow, Spock falling asleep on him was even more intimate to Jim than his own damn libido.

 

He didn't understand what had made Spock act so cold later. When they were on the bus, Jim had felt such a connection that he had truly forgotten the world around him. It wasn't just about physical attraction either. With everyone else, it had always been just sex. Just a physical release from the emptiness that felt claustrophobic. But, afterwards, he would feel even emptier.

 

With Spock though, it had been...it had been...different...completely different. It was nothing like he had ever experienced. He had felt complete. It was as if his body and soul had found home.

 

Spock's scathing words came back to him. Did Jim have such a horrible reputation? He had never cared about what others thought about him. Well, not since Sam had left anyways. May be, there had been a time, when Jim had believed that if he followed the rules, kept his head down, studied hard, life would turn out all right. But then Sam had left. His world had fallen apart.

 

What had been the point in anything, anymore? He stopped giving any fucks after that day. The world could go to hell. No one cared about him. He didn't care about himself either.

 

Jim's eyes stung. He wanted to throw something at the opposite wall. He felt betrayed. It didn't make any sense. But his stupid heart wanted so badly to be trusted by Spock. He wanted Spock to care. He wanted it so, so much.

 

But of course, it was all a cruel joke. Why should a Vulcan care about him? He was just a pretty face, after all.

It didn't matter that he had tried so hard. All this life. It didn't matter that he had fought. Alone.

Just a little boy trying to survive. Make sense of the madness.

Nothing mattered. He would always be judged.

 

Jim curled up under the covers, trying to hold the pain from spilling out of his guts. His lungs felt like they were collapsing.

 

But he would keep his promise to Bones. He wasn't going to end up dead, in some dark, forgotten alley just because he couldn't deal with his demons. He was not a loser.

That had been the last time, he had promised Bones. And he meant it.

The truth was it didn't help, anyways. The drinking, the sex, the reckless driving...nothing really helped.

 

He drifted off to sleep, wondering why had Spock come into his life at all?

Chapter Text

( 2 weeks ago - Dec 10 2355 )

 

The "beep" sound from the computer terminal alerted Spock of the incoming call from Amanda.

 

Spock touched the screen to accept, "Hello Spock, how are you - Oh Spock!"

 

He sat down in front of the terminal. "Mother?"

 

Amanda's face looked stricken. She put her hands over her mouth.

"Is something wrong?" Spock was immediately tensed.

 

"Spock, are you well?"

"Yes, I am adequate, why do you ask?"

"Spock, please. Are you truly well? Have you been sleeping?"

 

Spock became uncomfortable under her scrutiny. It had been 15.7 days since the disastrous night at Midnight Blue. Spock had been able to avoid speaking to his mother since then, using studies as a pretext. It was true that he had not been able to sleep or meditate. Neither had he eaten anything, tea being the only substance his system could tolerate. But he was determined not to attach any emotional significance to these affects. He was a Vulcan and he understood the power of mind over body. 

 

"As I stated earlier, I am functioning adequately. Please do not concern yourself."

 

Amanda looked at him, clearly still concerned. But she seemed to sense his resistance, and as she had always done, she accepted that.

"Okay," she nodded, looking down at her hands clasped on her lap, speaking more to herself. "Okay, honey, that's fine."

Amanda was a remarkably logical being for a human. She had always been able to control her emotions extremely well, but her family could see it was sometimes a struggle for her. Spock watched her compose herself in front of his eyes. He felt guilty but there was no alternative. Knowledge of the true nature of events would simply cause her more distress. Spock didn't see any logic in making her suffer. His ordeal was his alone, he alone must bear the burden.

 

"So," she smiled valiantly, “how are your studies?"

 

"Most satisfactory. I have volunteered to be teaching assistant in three courses and the extra duties have kept me busy."

 

"Oh, hmm, I see. Isn't that too much, dear? You are already taking more courses than humans do, and then there's chess and that coding project you have been working on."

 

Spock shifted in his chair before he could help himself. Such display was unbecoming. He stilled his body and attempted to center his mind.

"It is not."

 

Amanda nodded again and attempted to smile.

 

Spock wanted to take away her distress. In desperation, he offered information that he hoped would help. "I have made a friend."

 

Her reaction was instantaneous. Genuine smile danced on her lips. "Oh really? That young man you told me a few times about? I remember you were trying to decide if -"

 

"No." Spock cut her off harshly. He had forgotten how much he had shared with her, in his earlier foolishness. "No, mother," he softened his voice, "my friend is a human female. Her name is Cadet Nyota Uhura."

 

"Oh! Wonderful! Tell me about her."

 

Spock eagerly described Nyota in as much detail as he could - this kind of information he could freely share and if this brought her joy, he had no problem in indulging her.  She asked him several questions and seemed pleased with his replies.

 

"Oh that's such a great news, honey! You should try to eat with her whenever you can."

 

"She has her own social network so that may not be possible. Our initial meals together were an anomaly." Cadet Kirk had taken five days to recover. Those five days Spock and Uhura ate together and spent hours engaging in conversation. They had several mutual interests and talking with her soothed Spock. The only time she had made him uncomfortable was when she commented on him drinking only tea at every meal.

But once Cadet Kirk had returned, she had gone back to her older dining habits. This was only fair. She had been kind enough to invite him to join their table but of course, Spock couldn't do that. He was trying to avoid Cadet Kirk in every possible way.


 "Oh, that's too bad. May be the young man could be another friend -"

 

"No, mother. He cannot." Spock's voice was lower than he had intended. The pain seeped through in spite of his efforts.

 

Amanda finally realized that something was wrong. She fell silent, possibly grappling with what to say.

 

Spock had to provide her with some information so this topic could forever be closed. He took a deep breath. "I had the misfortune of finding out certain aspects of his personality. He participates in immoral activities and acquaintance with such a human would be against my personal values."

 

"Oh...That sounds awful. I know what you are talking about. I knew few such individuals in my younger days and they don't deserve you, dear. You have always displayed high moral character and in fact, I am very proud of you for that. You be you, honey. There will be more...others like Nyota, in future."

 

Spock let out his breath, which he didn't realize he had been holding. His mother's reply was incredibly validating. For the first time since this conversation had started, they both relaxed. She had been his one person all through his life, who believed in him. Even when others didn't, she always had his back.

Spock was struck by how much power her agreement had over him. If she had disagreed, he would have still continued as per his decision, but it would have felt like walking through a blizzard. Exhausting.

 

Now that she understood him and approved of him, some of the weight had been lifted. Perhaps, some soup would be a good idea.

 

"Would you please give me a minute? I wish to heat some Plomeek soup."

 

"Of course, sweetheart. I was wondering where your usual dinner was," Amanda looked happy.

 

Spock retrieved a portion of frozen soup and reheated it. After not eating anything for two weeks, it tasted and smelled pleasant. They chatted about various topics, while Spock finished his meal.

 

Later that night, sleep again eluded him. Unable to meditate or sleep, Spock had taken to spending the nights staring through the window of his room at the night sky, the moonlight, the distant stars and constellations. December was a month of festivities in San Francisco. Spock watched the decorations that had been strung all around campus. Light probes had been hung from the front of each building creating an enchanting effect. Trees and shrubs had been similarly treated. Everything twinkled and glowed. Spock admitted to himself that the environment these decorations created affected him emotionally. He felt a peculiar joy.

 

In spite of the cold weather, humans strolled through the grounds every night. Mostly pairs. Hands held together, heads bowed towards each other, their breaths misting in the cold air, they walked. It was not a new sight. However, Spock had never before felt pain when looking at these couples. Now, he did.

 

 

His communicator buzzed, commanding Spock's attention away from the night life outside. He padded through his dark bedroom, to where it glowed on his study desk.

 

"Hi Spock! How's it going?" 

 

It was his friend, Nyota. She messaged him often nowadays. Her kindness never failed to move him deeply. He tried his best to be a good companion to her.

 

"I am unchanged. Are you well, Nyota?"

 

"Yup! Got my Xenolinguistic grade back today. I got a perfect score. Yay!"

 

"That is indeed admirable."

 

A few more similar texts later, they exchanged good nights.

 

The next morning, Spock was in the library looking for a reference, when he unexpectedly came face to face with Cadet Kirk.

 

"Oh, Hi!" Jim smiled at Spock with a brilliance that made Spock's pulse spike. "I was actually looking for the same thing." Jim was pointing at the reference PADD held in Spock's hands.

 

Jim moved closer as he spoke - Spock could smell the heavenly scent of his skin. Spock's resolve wavered dangerously. Would it be so wrong if he dipped his head into the crook of Jim's neck and inhaled? Linked their minds again? Rubbed Jim's fingers against his -

 

"Hey, you okay?" Jim licked his bottom lip absent mindedly. The little flash of pink tongue and the way it left Jim's lip moistened sent Spock's blood rushing down to his abdomen. Panic gripped Spock.

 

He shoved the PADD into Jim's hands and walked away rapidly, fighting his body's indecent reaction.

 

"Umm...thanks...bye!"

 

Spock didn't turn back or respond to Jim's words. He walked straight to the nearest bathroom and locked himself in it. The tip of Spock's index finger had brushed against Jim's skin when giving the PADD. It sent him reeling. Every nerve end in Spock's body seemed charged with desire. Like a drug addict, Spock's body twisted in spasms - he wanted to be near Jim with maddening need. In the end, it took all his will power to not go hunting for Jim and devour him.

 

The encounter worsened Spock's already depleted controls. His appetite vanished again. Sleepless, restless, hovering on the edge of insanity, the next night, he found himself walking towards Jim's building. Just a glimpse, he promised himself. Nothing more.

Spock walked around the building, pretending to be on a stroll, till the night progressed and every other person on the campus had left. Spock forced himself to return.

 

 

But the next night, he was drawn back helplessly like a moth to a fire. He was rewarded when he spotted Jim along with his friends sitting on the benches outside their building. Spock drank in the sight like a thirsty le'matya.

 

It became a dangerous habit from there on. Unforgivably shameful behavior, he chastised himself but the pull only became stronger. He avoided Amanda's calls. He started forgetting his assignments and the days and nights blurred into an endless stretch of time.

 

The campus was full of the news of the upcoming winter vacations. He frequently overheard conversations about plans being made by the other Cadets. Spock had, of course, no plans. He was hoping the month long leave would cure him of his insanity. Perhaps the absence of Cadet Kirk would finally break the spell that had been cast on him. It was his last hope, else he would have to quit Starfleet all together. How pathetic. He had come to Earth to study, to prove to his father what he was made of, to explore, to learn. And now? He was obsessed with a human. He could never show his face to his father, if his downfall became known.

 

On the last day of classes, Spock stumbled towards Jim's building, for the last glimpse of the man who had completely taken over his life. The next day, Jim would leave like the rest of them.

 

Christmas, the terran festival of goodwill and generosity, was two days away. Songs of gentle melody played through hidden speakers, dotting the walking paths and the gardens all around the campus. Spock found an empty bench and sat down, a good distance away from Jim's building. It was a cold evening, so he had his preferred sweater on. Spock had only been sitting a few minutes when he felt a wave of misery wash over him. He put a hand on the bench to steady himself. After a few moments, he saw Jim emerging from the building but without his friends.

 

Spock stood up without any conscious thought. Jim's body language was different. He was walking rapidly, away from Spock. Without hesitation, Spock started to follow. A sense of foreboding had him on high alert. Jim walked all the way to the entrance of the Academy and then stepped out. Spock was convinced that this was a repeat of the Midnight Blue evening. Jim had the same agitated walk then. Destiny seemed to place Spock in Jim's path for reasons Spock couldn't understand. Whatever be his disagreements with Jim, Spock could not allow any harm to come to his human. Even if it meant he would have to witness the intoxication and copulation one more time. Any number of times for that matter. Jim's life was more precious than anything else.

 

To his surprise, Jim didn't proceed towards downtown. Instead, Jim walked towards the Golden Gate bridge and started walking along the pedestrian lane. Spock followed at a discrete distance. After a while, Jim stopped and stood facing the waters. Spock hid behind a pillar though Jim seemed unaware of his presence. Seconds turned to minutes. Spock became increasingly distraught. Jim was like a statue. Was this normal for humans? Especially for Jim? His human was always so full of energy.

 

In the pale moonlight, Spock caught the first glint of moisture seep from his human's eyes. Spock's heart splintered. No! This was not allowed.

Silently, alone, unmoving - Jim stood and wept into the night. Spock was beside himself with worry. What was wrong? How could he stop this? This was not the order of the universe. It was Spock who was supposed to suffer.

 

Unable to control himself, weak with the month long ordeal, Spock began to weep as well. What kind of punishment was this - to watch his beloved suffer?

 

After an indeterminate amount of time, Jim started walking again. But instead of going back to the Academy, Jim walked further away. Spock followed him through fields, residential areas and empty lands; through the cold, wet drizzle. His body struggled to keep up. Surely, Jim must be tired too. Towards the end of the night, Jim mercifully stopped walking.

 

Jim took shelter in a hover-stop. Spock inched close, not wanting to lose Jim, but his human seemed caught up in his own world. When the hover arrived, Spock climbed up behind Jim.

There was only thing left to do.

He went and sat beside his k'hat'n'dlawa. Their bodies touched very slightly but it was enough. Waves of unbridled happiness and relief crashed into Spock at the contact. Oh, how he had longed for this. It was like a lost soul had found home. His muscles relaxed for the first time in weeks. Jim's scent was so beautiful. It was like spring flowers and the Firebird's cry.

 

Spock shifted closer, seeking Jim's warmth. Their knees and thighs pressed together deliciously. Jim's full range of emotions started flowing into Spock.

And oh! Spock turned his head towards his human in shock. Such desolation, such loneliness! How could Jim feel such agony? He was one of the most popular Cadets, surrounded by friends and always in demand. Jim's nose was pressed against the window. Like a little boy. So innocent and pure.

 

Spock had to stop the tide of pain crashing inside Jim. Nothing else mattered. It felt like every moment of his life had come down to this. Spock felt it then. He felt his logic slip away. The part of him which was human refused to listen anymore to his other half. Being Vulcan wasn't about being cruel. Logic didn't mean that he let the man he loved more than anyone else, keep hurting. Jim was lonely. Spock would offer himself.

 

No sooner had Spock realized this, Jim shifted and then drew two hearts and an arrow on the window. Spock stared at it. It could not be more obvious what Jim was longing for. Driven by a courage he couldn't understand, Spock broke the silence.

"Interesting illustration."

 

Jim startled and turned to him. Their eyes met and time stood still. How could it be that in Jim's eyes he saw everything he had ever wanted to see? How could this stranger's eyes hold Spock's dreams and hopes and demons and pain? But, oh they did.

 

Spock could not wait anymore. He wanted to show Jim that he was tortured by the same pain. He wanted to offer Jim his everything.

 

"May I?"

“Of course,” Jim replied, confused but not upset.

 

Spock let his heart dictate his actions. He changed the second heart to his own - I am yours, T'hy'la. I offer you my heart and my katra. I can't stay away from you.

 

Jim didn't say anything. Spock waited, unable to breathe, unable to think. Would Jim accept his offer? Was a Vulcan acceptable to Jim? Or was Jim looking for someone else?

But Jim didn't speak. Didn't move. Didn't even look at Spock.

 

Jim's body was so soothing next to him. Spock wanted to wrap himself inside Jim. His eyelids grew heavy without him realizing it. For the first time in Spock's adult life, he fell asleep like a baby. He didn't know how long he slept. But when he woke up, it was with the realization that he was aroused. The next realization to hit him was that his head was nestled in Jim's shoulder, his entire body aligned to Jim's. It felt so right. Nothing had felt so good, so natural as that moment, when Spock's wildest dreams came true. Jim was aroused as well.

 

"I am sorry," Jim said, and Spock immediately picked up embarrassment, shame and rejection flowing through Jim.

 

There was no turning back now. Spock had to let Jim know that it was mutual. With trembling hands, he turned Jim's face towards him, and forced him to look. Do you see my katra cries for you too?

And Jim did! Jim responded!

 

"May I?" Jim asked Spock's permission.

Spock lost it completely then. He showered Jim with his love, trying to express in every touch, just how much his human was desired. He worshipped Jim's body, knelt at his altar and brought him to climax and then cared for his beautiful human by helping him clean up.

 

The bus reached their destination and Spock snapped back into reality. He had been transported into a magical world but reality came back knocking at his door. Jim had still not commented on his offer. Why? What did it mean?

 

With a last look at the drawing on the window, where Spock had offered his heart, Spock turned towards the exit and disembarked. Without physical touch between them grounding him, Spock felt marooned. He could no longer know what Jim was feeling. Would Jim finally acknowledge his offer?

 

"Well...that was...I don't know what to say," Jim began, "I have to admit I am shocked, Spock. I didn't think you know...I mean you are Vulcan...and the few times we met, you seemed really uninterested."

 

Spock's blood ran cold. There was no acknowledgment coming. That drawing meant nothing to Jim. He had no interest in a Vulcan heart.

 

Shame flooded every pore of Spock's body and oozed out like puss. What a pathetic rejection. Of course, Jim didn't want his useless Vulcan heart. Had anyone ever wanted a half-breed like him? Why had he irrationally hoped so now?

 

Like steel shutters, Spock's shields sprang up. Every emotion fled from his voice. "Indeed."

 

"Indeed? That's all you have to say?"

 

I have offered you everything and you are treating me like a vermin! "What else would you like to hear?" Spock replied coldly. He wanted this conversation to end. He needed to escape.

 

"Wow! I don't know man...I thought we just...it seemed we clicked? Well, to be honest, I was feeling really low tonight and sometimes I just want to fuck the first thing I see when I am in that mood. But, I -"

 

Spock could hear no more. That was it, wasn't it? He was nothing more than one of these creatures Jim went to…to release his semen and then later walk away. Spock had seen it with his very own eyes before. Utter delusion had caused Spock to believe he would mean any different to Jim. Well, here was the truth. In human parlance - he was just a "fuck".

 

Something died inside Spock at that instant. On autopilot, he answered whatever was needed to end the conversation.

The conversation did end.

With it, ended everything.

Jim walked away.

 

Spock couldn't move, couldn't return the ta'al, couldn't speak. He couldn't see - the world turned black in front of his eyes.

Chapter Text

( 23 Dec 2355 Early afternoon, San Francisco time,

late evening on Vulcan)

 

Amanda put her book aside, glanced up at the wall where Eridani's rays hit the elaborately painted sun-dial at a precise angle. The light illuminated the number which corresponded with the eighth hour that was on Vulcan. Borne of habit of past months, she mentally calculated the time in San Francisco.

 

Spock had been so busy this past one month that they had talked just once. She got up and went to the opening cut out in the stone wall, overlooking the canal which flowed past their home. Watching Eridani set was one of her favorite activities. Birds were swooping down to the banks of the canal, in large numbers, getting their evening drink before flying off to sleep for the night. Sarek was due to return that evening, back from his ten day tour of the province of S'Lara. Amanda had hence asked their cook T'pul to prepare a welcoming meal of freshly prepared F'avinit butter, Filrak and M'lu. The sweet aroma of F'avinit butter wafted out from the kitchen, making Amanda smile.

 

A short while after, with Eridani almost out of view behind the distant sand dunes, T'pul approached Amanda.

"Amanda, the meal is prepared as per your instructions. I will take my leave now," T'pul stood tall and dignified, the collar on her robe, turned up high signaling her intent to leave. She was the most sought after cook in the city of ShiKahr.

"Thank you, Madam T'pul. I will see you next week, then."

 

Amanda saw her off to the entrance and then closed the heavy doors. She went back to the window to gaze outside. She had chosen to wear the pale yellow gown today, Sarek's favorite from the days of the early days of their marriage. Her fingers idly traced the embroidery on the sleeve, while various thoughts about her research, the upcoming Vulcan festival, her book which she was writing, ran through her mind. As always, her mind settled down on Spock. She frowned slightly as she remembered their last conversation. He had looked so exhausted and worn out. Almost ill. She knew he was probably not eating again. Vulcan metabolism would have been used as an excuse, of course, to counter any of Amanda's concerns, had she pressed further. She privately thought it was a ruse used by the Vulcans to hide their emotional suffering. But saying that to the two men in her life was fruitless. Stubborn oxen, that's what they were.

 

Being a mother to a son whose biology was unique in the entire universe had been a challenging experience. Every time Spock fell ill in his childhood, the healer and doctors had to figure out what was wrong, since no other baby was like Spock. When she was younger, she used to panic. So did Sarek except he didn't show it. Those were lonely years, not able to share anything with other parents, seeing other Vulcan babies grow up normally, seeing other mothers have more babies, while Amanda struggled day in and day out, in understanding Spock. Sarek and she frequently argued those early years - she citing her teaching experience and training and he citing his Vulcan knowledge. Soon they both realized they were taking our their pain on each other. They couldn't afford that. They had to support each other and raise their son together. They were a family of hybrids - their marriage was hybrid and so was their son.

 

Amanda spotted Sarek's personal vehicle flying through the air, approaching their home. She watched with a smile on her face, as it came closer and closer and then landed softly on the sand below. Sarek emerged from the vehicle, and immediately looked up. He knew she would be waiting at the window, and she knew he would look up. It was their private ritual. He didn't wave or smile. She did both. Sarek hurriedly crossed the courtyard; his long, heavy robe fluttering slightly at the edges, and Amanda ran to open the door for him. They embraced and kissed for a long moment. In the privacy of their home, Sarek was comfortable with showing his affection.

 

"Taluhk nash-veh k'dular," she whispered, blushing like a young bride. She had missed him.

Sarek said nothing in reply but scooped her up in his arms and carried her inside. Amanda giggled.

 

He set her down in the middle of the family hall.

"Have you been well, my wife?"

"See for yourself," she smiled and twirled around like a little girl, showing off her yellow gown.

 

Sarek raised an eyebrow. "Solitude suits you, it appears."

Amanda laughed, while Sarek removed his heavy travel robe and hung it up.

 

"I did enjoy myself. I visited the fountains daily, helped T'sai with the wedding preparations, worked on my book's first draft, and finished reading two novels. I think I didn't move from the armchair for long hours."

 

Sarek listened as he took off his dust boots, and washed his feet in the foot-basin, and his face and hands in the hand-basin.

 

"How was the convention? All this privacy and secrecy makes me more curious, you know." Amanda held a towel for him.

 

"The negotiations were difficult," Sarek replied. "Public cannot be involved at this stage. I am under oath not to reveal the details to anyone, my wife."

 

"Hmmm," Amanda made a face which amused Sarek. He enjoyed her curious nature.

 

"Have you spoken to Spock?" he asked.

 

"Just once," Amanda slipped her hand inside his and they both walked towards the kitchen. They served themselves dinner and then sat down together on the marble table.

 

Sarek let out a long sigh. "I admit that I am anxious."

 

"I know. Do you sense anything new over the bond?"

 

"Negative," Sarek shook his head, a deep frown creasing his forehead, "However, his poor mental state has continued."

 

"Eat," Amanda firmly told him.

 

Sarek noticed his food then and raised an eyebrow in appreciation of the menu. They ate for a couple of minutes in silence.

 

"I think he is having friendship troubles," she told him. "It's very common in humans. Especially during these young adulthood years. He updated me on that young man, remember, I told you?"

 

Sarek nodded.

 

"Well, I think Spock really likes the boy, but it didn't work out. Turns out the boy is into all kinds of wrong stuff. But he did make a new friend, a girl. May be he is also getting teased and harassed."

 

"I do not like that thought," Sarek replied gloomily.

 

"Of course not. But, it's part of growing up for humans. And what he has already endured here was far worse. He was just a child then. He is so much mature and stronger now. Don't worry, Sarek, he will pull through."

 

"I admire your courage, my wife."

 

Amanda put her hand on his. "I am worried too. You can feel it, right?"

 

Sarek nodded. "Yes, I can feel your bond clearly. His is much subtle. I wish he had not chosen to block me... It is only because of my more experienced mind that I am able to detect his current misery."

 

"He is really mad at you, I don't know why, but something ticked him off that day of his VSA admissions meeting." Amanda poured Sarek tea. "Well, at least you can feel him. For me, it only works when he is nearby."

 

"That is to be expected. The human brain lacks areas which the Vulcan telepathy needs to function fully."

 

Tea bowls in hand, they both went to sit on the swing on their porch outside. At night, due to the canal, refreshing cool breeze blew across their porch. They discussed about Spock some more. Amanda updated him with all the latest details she had learned from the call. After a couple of hours, they went indoors and got ready for bed.

 

Sometime in the night, Amanda woke up abruptly. Sarek was moaning in his sleep, very unusual. Amanda sat up and listened quietly. Sarek groaned and his body jerked once. Amanda gasped in shock.

 

"Sarek?" she whispered gently, not sure if she should wake him up.

 

Suddenly, Sarek's face twisted and he cried out hoarsely, his entire body in spasms.

 

"SAREK!" Amanda shouted horrified.

 

Sarek's eyes flew open, a look of terror in them.

 

"Sarek? What's wrong?" She put her hands around his shoulders.

 

Sarek mumbled incoherently.

 

"Oh shit, are you having a stroke or something?" Amanda's voice was shrill with fear. "I'm going to call the healer, honey, I'll be right back."

 

Before she could get up from the bed, Sarek's hand grasped her wrist strongly.

 

"What? What is it?"

 

Finally, he looked at her, and gasped, "Spock."

 

"NOO! What happened? What happened to him?"

 

Sarek shook his head side to side, as if unable to speak.

 

Absolute terror gripped Amanda. "What has happened to him? Is he...is he...?" She couldn't bring herself to say it.

 

"Bond...injury...," Sarek wheezed.

 

"What do you mean? Which bond?"

 

Sarek held up his hands, his five fingers splayed. Through their marital bond and the gesture, Amanda understood that he was asking for time. She nodded and waited. Sarek closed his eyes and did whatever Vulcans did to calm themselves.

 

After five minutes or so, Sarek opened his eyes and his voice was strong. He started getting up from the bed.

"Amanda, we must contact him immediately."

 

"Why?" Amanda hurried after Sarek.

 

"He is physically unharmed but his mind has been fractured. It is difficult to explain in human terms, but it is equivalent to him bleeding in his psi points." Sarek was walking towards the library. "He has been severely hurt emotionally. You must talk to him, Amanda, and find out. He trusts you. I may need to go to him with a healer."

 

"Oh!" Amanda was reeling. She was so in shock she couldn't even cry.

 

Sarek gently sat her down in front of the computer terminal.

 

"Speak to him. I will stand here out of sight, but I will prompt you for information depending on his replies. Please do not burden him with the knowledge of my presence."

 

Amanda nodded as the call to San Francisco was initiated. She took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and summoned her internal strength. In times of crisis, Amanda had always been able to keep calm. She would fall apart later, but now, her son needed her and she would be the rock to which he could tether.

 

The "beep" alerted her that the call has been successfully accepted. On the screen, she saw, the local time for Spock was five in the morning. The next instant, Spock's face appeared on the screen. Amanda's heart thudded.

Spock looked worse than last time. His shoulders were bonier than ever, face pallid, eyes sunken with deep purple bruises under them.

 

"Honey, what happened?" Amanda wasted no time.

"I...I am ...I am..." Spock stuttered uncharacteristically.

Sarek gestured from her side, and Amanda muted the call. She kept looking at Spock.

 

"The purple dis-coloration around his eyes confirms my hypothesis. He is suffering from a bond-injury. It is not due to either of us, then, logically it must mean, he must have formed a new bond with someone. Furthermore, he must be unaware of this bond, judging by his mental confusion."

 

Amanda unmuted.

"Spock, honey, listen to me carefully, you are unwell. Very sick. You need to tell Mamma what's going on. Is there someone whom you have developed deep feelings for?"

 

Spock nodded.

 

"Oh honey. It's not Nyota, right?"

 

"Negative," Spock whispered hoarsely.

 

"Who it it? And what happened between you both? Please tell me. I love you, darling." Amanda coaxed.

 

"It is...his name is Cadet James Kirk. He is the human I had mentioned...He...We.." Spock was having trouble keeping his attention on the topic.

 

Amanda felt panic grip her again. Spock had never ever been like this. Even as a child, even during the worst bullying.

Sarek gestured again. Amanda muted the call.

"His disorientation is consistent with a bond-injury. A bond which formed without his intention and knowledge can only be of one kind. The rare t'hy'la bond. This James Kirk is possibly his t'hy'la and they must have been in physical contact. Even a brief contact is sufficient for such a bond to spring to life without either party's conscious effort. My wife, you must convince him to speak to me." Sarek spoke slowly.

 

"Spock, it is no secret that your father and you have difference in opinion," Amanda started in a calm voice. "It is between father and son and I respect that. So I have never interfered. But, sweetheart, I don't think you have looked in the mirror, honey. You look ill." Her voice wavered slightly. "A very specific kind of illness. It is called a bond-injury. Your father wants to speak to you. Please, Spock."

 

Spock stared at her for some moments. "I will speak to him then."

 

Sarek stepped into Spock's view. In a gentle voice, he began, "Spock, I regret the circumstances of your leaving Vulcan. It has never been my intention to cause you distress, though, our differences do unfortunately create barriers. As an Ambassador, it has been my duty, for many years now, to forge new relations with others," Sarek took a deep breath. "My failure at understanding with my own half-human son is therefore, unforgivable. I apologize for my deficiencies."

 

Spock stared with wide eyes.

 

"Spock, do you accept my apology?"

"I am ...I am not in control of my emotions." Spock rubbed a hand across his eyes.

 

"Son, let me help. Please cease blocking me."

 

"No."

 

"Honey, please. He is your father! He loves you!" Amanda implored.

 

"And you?" Spock asked her.

 

"What do you mean?"

 

"Does he love you?"

 

"Of course he does!"

 

Spock looked at Sarek. Sarek was momentarily perplexed by his son's line of questioning.

 

"Spock, my affection for your mother and you, is as resolute as the laws of gravity. Have I caused you to doubt this?"

 

Spock processed Sarek's reply for a few seconds. He looked back at Amanda. Amanda nodded to reassure him that she agreed.

 

"The minister referred to my mother as a disadvantage. Do you agree with them?"

 

Sarek was perplexed again for a moment. "You refer to the day of your VSA hearing."

 

"Yes."

 

"The ministers spoke the truth, Spock. It is not a matter of agreement. The facts are -"

 

"Wait!" Amanda interjected. "What disadvantage? What are you both talking about?"

 

Sarek described the proceedings to her and repeated the exchange of dialogue, verbatim, thanks to his excellent Vulcan memory. Amanda listened carefully.

 

Then, she turned to Spock. "Honey, did you think he insulted me?"

 

"He did." Spock looked back defiantly. "Sarek did not object."

 

"I do not understand what objection -" Sarek began.

 

Amanda raised a hand and Sarek fell silent.

 

"Sarek, I think I understand what happened. Spock thinks the word disadvantage is a derogatory attempt. In fact, if this was Earth, and some human had talked about me this way, I would agree with Spock. It's offensive. It implies I am inferior to you, to Vulcans. And because of that, Spock being my son, is also inferior."

 

"Precisely," Spock added emphatically.

 

"That was never the intention. That is contradictory to the Vulcan doctrine! Surely, you both must know this." Sarek looked at Spock and Amanda.

 

"I do." Amanda replied. "He doesn't. Let me explain." She turned to Spock. "Honey, when you were conceived, the Vulcan doctors were very worried. The Vulcan gestation period is four months longer than humans. The Vulcan brain is larger and more complex, so it needs more time. My body was of course limited to human biology. Everyone was worried that you would not survive being born premature by Vulcan standards. But you did. Immediately after your birth, when the doctors and healers melded with you, they realized your telepathic nodes were not fully developed. My physiology lacks the necessary enzymes and nutrients. A Vulcan baby is born with fully developed nodes, and it is crucial for the baby's health because he needs to bond with mom and dad. So, it was a medical disadvantage you were born with, honey. It's not a racial slur." 

 

Spock's shoulders slumped. He slid down in the chair, unable to sit straight.

 

"My son," Sarek's voice was gentle, like he would speak to Spock when he was a very young boy. "I am deeply distressed to know you have misunderstood. Your grief is unimaginable. I grieve with thee."

 

"I thank thee." Spock whispered.

 

Sarek felt the bond between them tremble and then bounce back, the shields lifted from Spock's side. The full extent of Spock's bond-injury became apparent to Sarek.

 

"We must know what has transpired, Spock. It is of urgent importance. Without intervention, you face irreversible brain damage." Sarek sent waves of affection, devotion and support to Spock as he spoke the words outwardly.

 

"I am unaware of the true nature of events" Spock began, "However, I will inform you of all the facts in chronological order. On Sep 26th, I met a human named James Kirk while standing in queue for my morning meal. He wished to engage in trivial communication, but I had no interest." Spock then told them everything that happened after that day. When he finished narrating the events of Midnight Blue bar, Sarek interrupted.

 

"Why did you mind meld with him, my son?"

"I cannot explain. It was...it was..an emotional reaction."

"I do not wish to cast doubt on your actions. I wish to only understand the truth. Did you do it for altruistic reasons? Would you have done the same for anyone else?" Sarek asked.

"I....No. I have never felt the need to mind meld with a stranger before. James...Jim...he has an unusual hold over me. I am ashamed." Spock hung his head low.

 

"Oh honey, no. There is no shame in falling for someone," Amanda wanted to hug him. She hated that they were so far away.

"Falling?" Spock looked at her.

"Yes, you started falling in love with him."

"I see."

"Is this why you decided not to go ahead? Because of all the things he did this night?" Amanda asked.

"Yes. And you agreed with me, Mother."

"I had no idea things were this serious, Spock. I am so sorry, Oh God, I am sorry. I thought he was some sleazy, dumb guy. Not deserving your time. He sounds nothing like that. He sounds troubled. Tell me what happened then?"

 

Spock blinked at her for few moments. Then, he found new energy and continued. When Spock told them about Cadet McCoy's comments, Amanda realized something had gone very wrong.

"The doctor said it was James' mom's birthday?" Amanda asked.

"Yes. I felt disappointed that someone would defile their mother with such a celebration."

"Oh God, I should have asked you then. Oh that poor child. He is someone's son, too, and oh...." Amanda was in pain. "Spock, do you know who his mother is? Has he talked about her?"

"We are not on talking terms. I wished to have no contact with him after that night." Spock continued with his narration, now with eagerness. It was obvious he had wanted to share all this and had been carrying his secret with disastrous consequences. He told them everything, ending with how James and he had separated just half an hour ago.

 

Amanda covered her face in her hands. She was overcome with guilt. She had wanted to support her son. In her blind love and urge to protect him, she had never ever imagined Spock could be cruel to someone. He was her perfect child, capable of no wrong. But, it was obvious to her that this James was a very troubled man. Vulcans and humans had different ways of coping. But, what could she say to Spock now? It had all gone so wrong. And she was to blame.

 

Sarek put a hand on Amanda's shoulder as she quietly berated herself for her arrogance and incompetence.

 

"Spock, my hypothesis is that James and you have developed a new bond. But it is hidden from you. Possibly because James and your meld remains incomplete."

 

"I would know if I formed a new bond, father."

 

"There is one kind of bond, which forms without conscious effort."

 

Spock's mouth opened to say something, and then closed.

 

"Yes, the rare t'hy'la bond, so rare that we don't talk about it, except learning about it once during our childhood. It is formed on first contact."

 

Amanda recovered enough. "Listen, honey, I committed a blunder. He is not an indecent guy, Spock. He seems to be hurting. Your katra couldn't choose anyone less. He is your equal, but he is a human, and it's different for us. When we are in pain, we try to block it by self-destructive, stupid things. He is so young, too. Oh please, honey, don't judge him for being only human. Something about his mother....I don't know..things sound complicated. You need to talk to him Spock. You absolutely must apologize. I know you didn't mean it, but your words must have destroyed him. I am sorry I egged you on. If what I think is true, he doesn't have family support like you do. You both need to talk and resolve your misunderstanding. He definitely has strong feelings for you too...sounds like he has been trying."

 

Sarek nodded. "It is also imperative for your bond-injury to heal. If you cannot contact him within 24 hours, I must bring a healer to you and we must attempt to repair the injury by dissolving the bond. But, if it is a t'hy'la bond, it is...it is not advisable. What do you wish to do, my son?"

 

"I...I wish to...I feel the urge to...I believe I must do as mother says. I must apologize to him and repent for my actions. The thought of dissolving the bond is unbearable. I cannot fathom to be away from Jim anymore." Spock's voice was broken.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

( 24th Dec 2355, Georgia)


Hours later, Jim awoke by himself, feeling somewhat better.He had dreamt of Spock again. Ridiculous dreams. He lay in bed for a few moments trying to clear his mind of the web of emotions. Jim combed his hair and made himself presentable and then he went downstairs. The entire family was gathered around the long marble island counter top in Ellie’s kitchen. On it was a huge gingerbread house, in various stages of being put together. The grown ups were busy adding the walls and floors.

“Hold it steady!” Someone called. Jim watched a pair of adults hold two giant gingerbread panels while a third slathered white icing like glue.

The kids were squealing in delight, waiting for their turn it seemed. They had an assortment of candies and nuts in front of them, all ready to be stuck on, once the house was assembled.. Holiday songs were playing in the background. Jim spotted Bones, neck deep in icing, next to Joanna.

“Had a good nap?” Ellie gracefully came over to where Jim was hovering by the kitchen entrance. She quietly stood by him.
Jim nodded and smiled.

“Hungry?”

"No, I am fine, thank you," Jim lied. He was ravenous.

"Let's try that again, future Captain." She glanced at him sideways and smiled. "Hungry?"

Jim couldn't help but smile back. "Actually, yes."

She ran her hand over his hair affectionately and then walked away. Jim froze. It was such a small, simple gesture but it left him reeling. It made him feel like a little boy, wanting more. Fighting the sudden tsunami of emotions, he stood like an idiot, with a brave smile on his face.

Ellie came back with a plate loaded with food and a glass of iced tea.

Bones finally looked up at him. He said something to Joanna, who nodded, and then left her.

"How's your headache?" He asked Jim.

Jim eyed Ellie.

"They know, Jim. I briefed them when you were asleep."

"Oh," Jim looked down at his plate. He was such a nuisance to them. What must they be thinking of him? Probably, waiting for him to leave. "It's gone."

"Let's go to the family room. It's too loud in here," Ellie placed an arm on Jim's elbow and without waiting for his reply, guided him away from the kitchen.

They settled in the plush, red chairs, next to each other. Jim felt acutely uncomfortable.

"Lenny, can you get me an iced tea,please?" She asked Bones, who promptly got up like an obedient boy. Jim envied their relationship with a pang of sorrow.

She turned to him and spoke in that quiet, authoritative voice. "Jim, I know you did not grow up with much of a family. Is that correct?"

Jim nodded.

"Then, this can feel uncomfortable for you. It is natural if you are feeling so, dear. But, let me tell you how I feel about you. Lenny considers you as his best friend. He talks about you all the time in his messages from the Academy. I will be honest, Jim, " She reached out and did the hair thing again. Jim stared down at his meal, afraid to meet her eyes. "To me, you are no less than Lenny. You are my boy too, Jim, and if you are in pain, as Lenny tells us you are, I want to help. We all do. David is a neurosurgeon. My elder sister and her wife are both reputed scientists in brain research. I am a space radiation expert myself and have spent decades exploring how the human body reacts to space radiation exposure. The rest of us are all doctors. I can't possibly sleep tonight knowing you are in pain and we aren't doing anything. Let us take care of you. It is what families do, sweetheart."

Jim blinked back tears. Why was she being so nice to him? It was too good a family for someone like him. He had issues and he didn't deserve to be with people like them. It was Christmas eve, on top of everything. Way to ruin a family's Christmas with his fucking problems!

"It's okay," she whispered. "Whatever it is, Jim, it is okay."

Jim tried to swallow the lump in his throat.

"My heart breaks for you. You have suffered so much, for no fault of yours. Let us help you. Please."

"Okay," Jim caved in.

"Thank you so much," she then outright hugged him. Jim wanted to run away but also stay forever in her arms. "Eat," she let him go just as Bones came back with two tall glasses.

He ate while Bones and Ellie discussed how to help Jim. In the end, it was decided to take him to David's hospital, where they could examine him with state of art machinery, and all of them could figure out what was wrong with him. The tween boys would babysit Joanna while they took him to the hospital.

An hour later, they all piled into two groups into the family's hovercars and left for the hospital. The hospital was open, of course, unlike most other establishments. Disease and illness didn't care about Christmas.

David put him through all kinds of scans. They stood, tapping his brain holoscans, nodding their heads, deep in discussion, while Jim lay on the scanner bed, understanding not a single word. He could see now why Bones was such a genius. What a bunch of nerds! And all this drama for him. What a bunch of selfless nerds. He felt a rush of affection for his best friend.

They continued yammering away while Jim slowly drifted to day dreaming.

"Does anyone see the pattern here?" David suddenly shouted excitedly, pointing to something on one of the holoscans. "See this, this and this. It's like his brain has gone back to infancy, like a baby open to bonding."

Jim's eyes widened. He had turned into a baby? What the hell?

"Bones?" He had been silent for way too long now. Had they forgotten he was lying there? He mouthed "baby" to his best friend, with exaggerated hand gestures conveying what the fuck does that mean?

Bones guffawed but came over to his side. "Don't panic. They don't mean an actual baby. Jeez, imagine you babbling." He rolled his eyes.

"Hey, cut the crap," Jim whispered. "What have they found?"

"As wierd as it sounds, your brain seems to think it's going through bonding, which usually happens in babies. But, it's not exactly the same either. I mean your brain is like anyone else your age. Everything is fully developed. But something has caused wierd changes and no one can explain it. But at least we know now, it's not a hidden tumor or something, which is what I was honestly scared of."

"So babies get headaches?" Jim smirked.

"Don't be so cocky. As I said, it's as if you are back to infancy, but thank the Lord, you actually aren't. We can't explain the headaches or the nausea or any of your unpleasant symptoms. In fact, what we see should make you feel awesome. Like falling in love but at an intensity which is not humanly possible, because your brain is literally changed in some places and-"

Bones stopped talking at the same time that it hit Jim. Falling in love!

They stared at each other. Both knew what the other was thinking. Jim glared at Bones with a don't-you-dare-tell-them look. Bones glared back with a -if-it's-relevant-you-doctor-should-know look.

"Did he do something to you on the bus? You told me it was just a hand- " Bones whispered.

"It was!" Jim whispered back. "What do you think I am? A moron?"

"Of course, yeah."

"Shut up. Plus, I have been getting headaches since like...some time, okay? Since the bar night. Didn't you say some thugs beat me up and left me to die?"

"Oh, Shit!" Bones suddenly exclaimed loudly.

"What?" Jim forgot to whisper.

Everyone stopped talking and turned around as well.

Bones swallowed. "Uhh...I need to talk to Jim." He looked at his family. "Alone."

They didn't look one bit happy. But after a moment of awkward silence, they left him and Bones alone in the medical exam room. Jim shook his head in awe at the amount of trust and respect they had in this family.
"What is it?" He turned to Bones as soon as they were alone.

Bones took a deep breath. "Okay, this is wrong, but man, I have done my bit. I gave him my word, but this has gone far too -"

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"Spock."

Jim's heart flipped. "What about him?"

"He saved you. He was the one who saved you that night. He was there, don't ask me how. He didn't tell me. But when I arrived, it was because of him. He said he fought off four goons. But then he made me swear to never tell you. I even gave your number to him, hoping the hobgoblin would call you or something..." Bones trailed off.
Jim sat shell shocked. Spock was there, that night? He saved Jim's life?

"Jim?"

"Hmmm?" 

"He is Vulcan, right? And they are telepaths, you know? What if this has something to do with him? You have been dreaming of him -"

"Hey! How do you know?"

"You mumble his name in your sleep all night, Jim," Bones let out a long sigh. "I am a dumb ass. Of course, it's something to do with him."

Jim's face was bright red as a tomato. God, had be been talking in his sleep? What all had he said?

"We need to contact him," Bones was still talking, oblivious of Jim's state of mind.

"We are absolutely not contacting him!" Jim retorted. "He hates me, okay?You want me humiliated in front of your whole family?"
Bones wavered.

"Are you guys done?" It was Bones' dad.

"Yeah!" Jim shouted back. "Don't say anything to them," Jim growled to Bones.

The door opened and David peered in.
"Sorry about that," Jim put on his best face and hurriedly explained before Bones could open his mouth. "Just some misunderstanding. Nothing important."
David looked at Bones and back at Jim. He didn't look convinced but he didn't press.

"Let's go home, then."

Later that night, Jim couldn't fall sleep. He had slept half of the day anyways, plus his mind was swarmed with thoughts. Jim couldn't get over the fact that Spock had saved his life. Why? But Spock had kept on ignoring him. Again, why? Granted, Spock was Vulcan. So, okay, he probably shouldn't have pounced on Spock on the bus. May be Vulcans didn't like that. Hell, probably a lot of humans wouldn't either. And yes, he should have probably tried to get to know the guy first! May be Vulcans didn't have sex?

"Bones?"

McCoy grunted sleepily from the bed across the room.

"How do Vulcans make babies?" Jim propped himself up on an elbow.

"For God's sake, Jim!"

"This is important, okay?"

"Right! Because planning a family with an alien who probably doesn't remember you exist, is totally the smart thing to do."

"I am not planning anything with him!"

Bones snorted. "You can keep saying that till the cows come home."

"Are you going to answer me or not?"

"What? How do they make babies? They have sex, you goofball!"

"So, they do!" Jim said triumphantly into the darkness.

Bones let out a long suffering sigh. Then, he kicked off his covers and sat up.

"What happened? Go back to sleep." Jim waved at him.

"Well, I am awake now. Might as well go do my Santa duties and double check, if Mama remembered to put Joanna's gifts under the tree."

"Just her?"

"The boys are too old for Santa now," Then, his expression softened. "Jim, did you ever get a gift from Santa?"

"Nope."

"I am sorry."

"Honestly, I didn't care and didn't know at that time that other kids were getting gifts and all. I was cut off from the world and had more important things on my mind then. Like survival."

"I understand. Do you wanna come down with me?"

Jim was up in an instant. Together they went down the stairs quietly. It was past midnight. The house was silent, the soft glow from the holiday lights twinkled cheerfully. Bones found Joanna's gift securely placed under the tree.

"What's this?" Jim asked.

"Cookies and milk for Santa. And that's carrot for Rudolph. Joanna left it out for them." Bones explained with a smile.

"Whoa! She's so kind!"

Bones laughed quietly. "No, Jim, it's a tradition. All kids do it. And you know what we adults do?"

Jim shook his head, eyes alight with curiosity.

Bones took a bite of the cookie and then sipped a bit of the milk. Jim stared at him in surprise which made Bones laugh again.

"When she wakes up tomorrow, this will be proof that Santa had indeed come."

"Oh!"

"Here, you do the honors for Rudolph," Bones held the carrot towards Jim.

"Always the veggies for me," Jim grumbled but he was too excited to refuse. He took a bite, feeling silly but this was the first time he had ever done anything like this, and frankly it felt really good. Like he was part of something bigger.

"Okay, let's go back. What if she wakes up and find us here?" Jim whispered.

Bones looked at him for a moment, that soft expression again on his face. His friend punched him in the shoulder playfully and then nodded. They tip toed their way back up.


The next morning Bones woke him up at the crack of dawn.

"Hey, do you want to see her opening her gift?"

"Yes!" Jim scrambled out of his bed. He couldn't wait to see her expression. He had done a real good job with that carrot after all.

They brushed and then still in their pajamas went downstairs where rest of the family was gathering. David was brewing fresh coffee in some fancy apparatus.

"Merry Christmas, Jim," Ellie hugged him.

"Merry Christmas," Jim beamed back. "Where's Joanna?"

"She will be up any minute. Feeling better?"

"Yes," Jim had been feeling so much better since yesterday. He didn't even notice. It was strange because the McCoys hadn't really given him any medicine.

Everyone else hugged him and David handed him a steaming mug of coffee. A couple of minutes later, a squeal was heard and then Joanna came tearing down the stairs in her nightdress. She went straight to the tree and with another squeal grabbed her gift box. Jim grinned. Her innocent happiness was infectious. She carried the box and plopped down next to Bones. Within seconds, the gift wrapping had been torn to shreds and she held her gift in her hands, legs kicking in air excitedly.

"It's a telescope! It's purple too!" Her little body was tembling with excitement. She examined it for few seconds then seemed to remember something. She jumped down from the couch and rushed back to the tree.

"Santa ate my cookie!" She danced around.

"What about milk?" Bones asked seriously.

She checked and then reported, "Yup. But he didn't finish it, Papa."

"Well, may be he was too full," Bones replied.

Jim couldn't help himself. "What about the carrot, Joanna?" he asked with a thrill.

Joanna checked again and jumped up and down in delight. "Rudolph was here too! See?"

Jim almost burst with pride and happiness. He had been part of making a child's world magical, but the true magic was that, in spite of him knowing none of it was real, he felt every bit as excited as Joanna was.

Ellie and David got busy in the kitchen with breakfast preparations. Joanna settled between Jim and Bones, her prized telescope in her hand.

"What did you ask from Santa?" she asked him.

Bones grinned. "She knows only kids get to ask Santa." The implication being she had apparently classified Jim as a kid.

Jim threw Bones a dirty look. To her, he smiled, "I uhh...I forgot." He finished lamely.

"You forgot?" Joanna was shocked.

"Not exactly...I mean, what I asked, Santa can't give me," Jim found himself unable to lie to the child. Bones raised an eyebrow.

"Really, Papa? Would Santa not give Jimmy uncle his gift? What did he ask?"

"He asked for...something really hard, Joanna." Bones looked at Jim over her head. Thankfully, no one else was paying attention to them.

"What is it?" Joanna asked.

"Do you want to show me how to use the telescope?" Bones tried to distract her.

"What is it?" Joanna couldn't be dissuaded.

Bones looked at Jim again. Jim was at a loss.

"He...he asked for an elf," Bones replied.

"Oh!" Joanna considered that, while Jim blushed every shade of red in quick succession, and vowed to get his revenge on Bones later.

Ellie carried in trays of food and set it in the middle of the family room. David was handing the plates when the doorbell rang. Bones frowned, then got up to open it. Jim was busy stacking up potatoes on his plate, when Joanna let out her loudest squeal. "It's Jimmy uncle's gift!"

Jim dropped the plate with a loud clatter. Standing next to a stunned Bones was Spock.

Everyone stopped talking and stared at the sight of a Vulcan standing on their doorstep.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

(24th Dec, 2:00 A.M, Vulcan, House of Amanda and Sarek)

 

The screen went black. The call ended. Amanda sat frozen. The image of her little boy, haunted and looking deathly was still floating in front of her eyes. Sarek's words that Spock would die within 24 hours if not healed reverberated inside her head. Her mind went back to all those times Spock had been sick in his childhood; the doctors always uncertain of his survival, Amanda always determined that her love will save him. Since a premature infant, that had been Spock's battle. But, he had finally become strong and a grown man. And now…now…what was happening to him?

 

She stood up abruptly. Sarek was saying something in quiet, subdued tones but Amanda wasn't listening. She half ran, half walked to their bedroom. She took a small bag from the high-shelf next to the full length mirror and grabbed the first three dresses her hands could find.

 

"What else? What else do I need?" she muttered under her breath to herself.

"Amanda?"

"Communicator…" she tossed it in the bag, "extra battery…" she kept mumbling and tossing things.

"My wife, what are you doing?" Sarek's voice was no longer quiet.

She stopped and suddenly realized Sarek was next to her. Oh!

"I am going after him, of course," she told him. Was it even an option? Why did Sarek look so stunned?

She turned back to her packing. That was enough. It would have to do. She couldn't waste a single more minute. She put the bag on her back, securing the straps across her shoulders, and marched out of the bedroom.

"My wife you cannot help - "

"Oh yes, I can," Amanda cut him off.

"Denial will not -"

"NO!" she cut him off again. "Don't talk to me about death. I know life is fickle. Don't you think I know it?"

 

Sarek stared at her.

"But, it is not his time. He has centuries to live. And I am not going to let anything come in the way. Do you hear me?" her voice shook. "You can stand here and philosophize, but don't you dare try to stop me."

 

Sarek looked dejected. "As always, you misunderstand my intentions. No matter what my actions say about my regard for you and our son, it appears you and him, only see my inability. My inability to express it in human emotionalism."

 

"Oh Sarek. I am sorry. I am doing in again. You're right. I am taking my anger out on you. Forgive me, love."

"Let me accompany you then."

 

She grabbed his arm with surprising strength and locked eyes with him. "No, you can't help by coming. Sarek, you must find a healer. You said a healer could help, right?"

"Yes,"

"Then, GO! Go find a healer."

"Yes. Yes, I must go immediately." He put on his desert boots and robe as did Amanda.

 

Together they left their home, in the dead of Vulcan night.

"Where will you find her?" Amanda asked.

"The Katric Arc Chamber," Sarek replied. "You need the hover. I will proceed on foot."

 

They embraced, kissed, and then each set off in opposite directions.

Amanda got into the parked hover by their home. ShiKahr was a major city and had its own interplanetary transportation hub. She planned her route in her mind, while she piloted the hover over the dusty roads and stone mansions. At the transportation hub, she parked the hover. Sarek would get it later. The huge hangar was mostly empty, the odd hour of night working in her favor. At the counter, the young Vulcan nodded to her. She was instantly recognizable being the lone human.

 

"Lady Amanda, what can I do for you?"

"I need to charter a private shuttle immediately."

"Very well. Your destination, please?" he started touching the holoscreen in front of him.

"Earth, San Francisco, The Americas."

 

He looked up, his Vulcan smooth features betraying just a hint of surprise.

"Additional passengers’ names?"

"Just me."

He didn't comment further. Vulcans were great that way. Efficient and to the point.

"Your pilot license and credit chip, please."

Amanda handed over the necessary items.

 

"The shuttle Seleya is available. It is parked in dock number 11." The young man spoke while typing rapidly into the computer system.

"Lady Amanda, the quadrant navigation system has an emergency alert for the route to Earth. An asteroid collision has resulted in debris moving in…" He consulted a chart, "in two hours and 18 minutes after departure, you will encounter a massive debris field. You are advised to take the alternate route of —"

"No, I don't have time," Amanda spoke calmly. The debris would have to move out of her way. Because she was not going to take any longer route.

 

Again, the Vulcan logic helped her. The man didn't protest, didn't question her sanity. He just accepted her response and finalized her flight plan. "The computer is uploading the route as we speak. You may proceed to the dock now," he handed her back her documents and a microchip loaded with her flight plan and instruction as a backup.

 

"Thank you," Amanda adjusted her backpack and hurried to dock 11.

 

As he had predicted, in approx. two hours, the shuttle ran into floating chunks in the blackness of space. Amanda put all her concentration on the task at hand and dodged each, some narrowly. Her shuttled maneuvered through it for next 45 minutes but at last she was on the other side and increased the speed to maximum. She put the controls back to autopilot and exhaled in relief. Age was getting to her, she thought dryly; she felt tired and exhausted. It had been a rollercoaster of emotions since Sarek had woken up in pain, hours earlier.

 

Well, Spock would have surely advised her to sleep while she could. She needed to be fresh and alert once she landed. She could imagine him telling her it was only logical. Her sweet little boy. So, she set an alarm and forced herself to close her eyes. Hours later, feeling relatively rested, she awoke to the scene of a blue planet looming large in front of her. Earth.

 

It was late night in San Francisco, Christmas eve. Oh! How beautiful the grounds looked in the centuries old tradition of the terra festival. She smiled a little in nostalgia, riding the shuttle bus from San Francisco Space Hub to StarFleet Academy.

 

Spock's room was to the west of the Academy grounds, she looked at the map on her communicator.

"Spock, honey, I am here," she messaged him to give him a heads up.

She found Spock's room and to her dismay realized it was vacant and locked.

She tried to call him. She messaged again. "Spock? Where are you?"

No reply. Oh God, where was he? In his severe condition?

 

What would she do? Where would she find him now? Amanda started hyperventilating. There was no one around. Think! Breathe and think! She told herself. She breathed in and out slowly, while she desperately looked around.

 

Nyota Uhura! Spock had a friend. Yes, she would be able to help. Amanda had her contact information - she had thankfully asked for it from Spock once, just as a precautionary measure.

She dialed the number and waited.

 

"Hello?" A beautiful voice answered.

"Hello, Nyota. I am Amanda. I am Spock's mother. Are you the correct person I have reached?"

"Oh. Hi! Yes, I am the correct Nyota. What -"

"This is an emergency, dear. Has Spock been in touch with you in past few hours?"

"Yes! He called me couple of hours ago. He wanted to know where Jim was. Uhhh…Jim is my friend. I am not sure why -"

"I am sorry, Nyota. I will explain everything later but I need Jim's address."

"Oh! Ummm, he is actually at our other friend's house. Leonard McCoy in Georgia."

"I see. Do you have the address?" Amanda was already walking.

"Yes. I am sending it to you right now. But what's going on? Why is everyone going to Georgia? Is everything okay?"

 

Amanda apologized again and promised to explain everything later. Right then, she needed to find a hover or shuttle bus to Georgia.

 

 


 

 

( 25th Dec morning, Georgia, The McCoy mansion)

 

The dark colored robe, which Spock was wearing, covered every square inch of him except his neck, head and palms. It moved slightly with the breeze coming in through the open door. But Spock himself appeared to have turned into stone. Framed against the morning light streaming in, Spock looked like a regal prince of ethereal beauty. His dark eyes, with deep purple circles beneath them, bore into Jim's.

 

No one spoke. Even Joanna seemed to have sensed the changed atmosphere and fell silent. But they were looking at Jim. At Spock and back at him. Jim couldn't tear his gaze away from Spock's eyes. He kept looking back like a deer caught in the headlights of a hover.

 

Ellie broke the silence first. "Lenny?" she asked with some hesitation in her voice, glancing nervously between Jim and Spock. Her expression was one of confusion but also of someone taking charge of the situation. A guest was at their doorstep and everyone was always welcomed at McCoys’.

"Ahhh…" Bones shuffled awkwardly once. "Uhhh…"

David stood up and approached Spock. "Hello, I am David. Can I help you? Why don't you come inside?" He extended his hand as he said these words.

 

Spock didn't even blink. He ignored David and the hand, continuing to stare at Jim with an intensity which made Jim start sweating.

Ellie walked towards them. She glanced at Spock, and then whispered to Bones. "Lenny? Do you know this gentleman?"

Bones nodded yes.

"Is he a friend of yours?" she prodded.

 

That seemed to bring Bones back to his senses. "No Mamma. I mean may be, yes. He…err…Jim and he…have a history." To David he said, "They don't shake hands. Touch telepaths." David quickly withdrew his hand. Bones turned towards Spock, and his eyebrows bunched up, as he studied Spock with the gaze of a medical man. Apart from the purple bags under his eyes, Spock was sporting a five o'clock shadow, something Jim had never seen before. Bones took a deliberate step towards Spock and touched Spock's arm wordlessly. The Vulcan gasped and recoiled. But, that broke the spell and Spock seemed to suddenly notice everyone else around him.

 

"Spock, these are my parents. And that's rest of my family. I am assuming you are here for Jim." Bones spoke in a voice one used to approach a wounded puppy.

 

Spock's eyes swept the room and came to rest back on Bones. "I apologize. I had no other choice. I regret causing this inconvenience to you and your family," his voice was deep and raspy, he spoke while taking in a breath after every word. "Yes, your assumption is correct."

 

Bones shook his head. "It is not an inconvenience. You are welcome here…." Bones looked at Jim questioningly, "as long as Jim is okay with that. Jim?"

 

Jim was still stunned. He nodded and just said, "Yes."

 

That was the cue for Ellie. She immediately moved towards Spock. "Please come in. I am Ellie, Leonard's mom." She didn't offer her hand, but her body language was warm and welcoming.

 

Spock inhaled and took a step forward and immediately swayed dangerously. Jim's heart leapt to his mouth. He bolted up to standing, ready to rush to Spock but felt a peculiar sense of vertigo himself. Something was very, very wrong.

Bones' got to Spock in time and he caught Spock firmly. This time Spock didn't recoil.

 

"You are sick," Bones commented. It was a statement, not a question. Spock took several deep breaths before he was able to respond. "Yes. I apologize."

 

"Stop saying sorry. What's wrong with you?" Jim asked in an urgent voice.

 

Spock was panting, laboring to breathe again. But, he managed to reply between deep inhales,"I wish to talk to you. It would be best if you accompany me back to San Francisco."

 

"What!" David exclaimed.

 

"Absolutely not." Bones snapped. "Out of the question."

 

Spock reacted as if had been gutted. He moved out of Bones' grasp.

Jim gasped - he had been stabbed in his side. Blood gushed out. Jim doubled over in pain and shock, clutching onto his right side. He looked down to his palm, expecting to see red blood, but there was nothing. In confusion, he looked at his waist where he had been stabbed. Again, nothing. But he was absolutely sure he had been wounded, the pain was almost paralyzing. What was happening to him?

He looked up and to Jim's horror, he saw Spock lurching, as if drunk. Green fluid was trickling down from Spock's left nostril.

 

"Spock!" Jim shouted in panic.

 

"Papa," Joanna whimpered.

 

"Get the cart," Bones was talking to David who took off immediately. He turned to Ellie, "grab the kids and take them to the study." Ellie didn't need to be told a second time. She moved swiftly, and Jim was dimply aware of Joanna being lifted and half of the family left the living room.

 

Jim was wrestling with unbearable pain. His body felt on fire and his head about to implode. He wanted to alert Bones. But words failed him. His vision started darkening around the edges and the world tilted sharply. He didn't realize he was falling, because all his mind could process was that Spock's eyes had rolled back in his head. Spock's body hit the floor with a thud and so did Jim's.

 

"He's hemorrhaging!" Bones was kneeling besides Spock. David was back with a trolley which had tubes and various medical attachments. David's brother and wife, both doctors were also next to Spock now. Jim lay on the floor, unable to move. The physical pain stopped as suddenly as it had started.

 

"Jason, stabilize him," David's voice was deadly calm. "I am going to drill in."

David's brother, Jason, plunged hypos into Spock. His wife, Stacy, was holding two devices and Bones was fixing something onto Spock's skull. All of them snapped on surgical gloves.

 

"Prepping surgical site," David said to no one in particular, or so Jim thought.

Jim's stomach turned as he heard the sound of the drill and smelled the antiseptic.

 

"Where's his damn heart?" Jason asked.

"Near our liver."

"Do you see it?" Bones asked.

 

"I don't know what to look for. I am flying blind here. Their brain - " David was peering into a tiny computer.

"Try to find the telepathic nodes, Dad. Remember Jim's brain scans? I think it would be the same sites for Spock."

 

For a few moments no one spoke. Bones spared a quick glance at Jim.

"You okay, Jim?"

"Yeah," Jim was uninjured physically. "What's happening to him?"

 

"I am not sure. His brain and yours seem to be connected. I got the idea yesterday after we ran the scans on you. I think you are somehow mirroring him. You haven't been sick but he has been. You have just been feeling it second hand. That's why we haven't been able to explain your symptoms."

 

"Third ventricle, l need to create room in the ventricle so l can maneuver the scope."

"What's normal BP for them?"

"I don't know. Damn it. Just hold it as best you can."

 

Jim fell quiet and let them do their job. He propped himself up and leaned on the leg of a chair.

"Someone close the front doors. The risk of infection is already high enough," David said.

This Jim could do. He was about to get up when he heard footsteps approach from the outside. The next moment a petite lady dressed in Vulcan robes stumbled in. Her greying hair was tied in a messy bun and she was panting.

 

"Close the doors," David said again without taking his eyes off the tiny computer.

The lady turned around and closed the doors.

Her eyes fell on Spock's body on the floor, with the four doctors hunched over him. She flinched and froze for several seconds. Then, she looked around till she spotted Jim.

 

"James Kirk?” she asked.

"Yes?" Jim replied feeling stupid.

"I am Amanda. I am Spock's mom," she came near him, though her eyes kept straying to the surgery going nearby.

"Oh!" How was she a human? "Real mom?" he couldn't help asking.

"Yes. He is half-human."

 

Wow! Just….wow! This day couldn't get any weirder.

 

"You live around here?"

"No, Vulcan."

Oh!

"Listen, honey -"

"Ma'am, do you know what normal BP is for him?"

Amanda turned towards Jason. "80/100."

"Pulse?"

"242."

"Thank you."

"No, thank you!" Amanda replied with emotion. She faced him again. “Listen James, Spock needs your help. I have no right to ask you this, but please help him. Help me."

 

She had Spock's eyes. Or rather Spock had her eyes, Jim corrected himself.

 

"Anything," Jim replied. “Absolutely, anything. But Amanda, I am not a doctor. That's why I am not helping."

"Oh you are much more than that, honey. Do you know about Vulcan bonds?"

"Not really."

She nodded as if that made sense to her. "We don't have time to go into details. But the thing is, Vulcans, they form these mental links with each other. With people they love, that is. Lifelong links. So, I have a parental bond with Spock for example. I can feel his mind inside mine. And he can too."

 

Jim's eyebrows rose to his hairline.

"And for whatever reasons, Spock's mind and yours has formed such a bond."

 

"So, what went wrong? He showed up looking pretty sick." Bones asked Amanda.

"These two seem to have hurt each other. Profoundly. Spock is suffering from a bond injury which is fatal unless James helps."

 

"What can I do? Tell me, please. I don't know what to do!"

 

"You have to mind meld with him. That is, you have to join your mind with his."

 

"I have no freaking clue how to do that."

 

"That's okay, honey. I will help. Come," she grabbed his arm and for such a small framed woman, she was really strong. She pulled him to standing.

 

She instructed Jim to kneel down next to Spock.

"I have his father on the line here. He has the best Vulcan healer with him as well. She is going to tap into the collective Vulcan energy and it will help Spock. Just follow his instructions."

 

"Okay," Jim's heart was hammering against his chest.

 

She arranged his fingers on Spock's temple. Jim lowered his eyes, not wanting to look at Spock's skull being operated on by David, though all he saw was a long rode poking into Spock's hair. There was no blood or anything gross.

 

A deep voice came over the communicator Amanda was holding.

"James, please repeat after me. My mind to your mind…"

Jim repeated the words and followed the instructions, all the while feeling like it was a bizarre dream. Just half an hour earlier, Joanna was opening her Christmas gift.

 

A shiver ran down his spine. The hair on the back of his neck and arms stood on their end.

"Can you feel his mind?" Amanda asked.

"I…I think so."

"James, channel your affection towards his katra." The deep voice instructed.

"His what?"

"Soul. Just think of sweet things, honey. Concentrate and try to push the feelings towards the presence in your mind."

 

Spock, can you hear me? I am here, Spock. I know I hurt you. I let you down badly. I am so sorry. It won't happen again. We can be friends. More too, but if you don't want that, it's fine. I just want to get to know you. You know, I have admired you from the first day. You are amazing, Spock. May be I can show you cool stuff. Do you like beaches? or mountains? I can take you around. I bet you would like that. You got to fight, please. Your mom is here. She looks real worried. And I am worried as well. Please don't die, please, please. I…I can't live…I like you. A lot."

 

"Heart rate rising!"

"Decompression successful," David exhaled in relief.

"Keep going, honey, you are doing wonderfully," Amanda put her hand over Jim's back.

 

So you can hear me! I am a dumb ass, but listen, that thing you drew, remember? On the bus? That's the sweetest thing anyone has done for me. I wanted to tell you that but I chickened out. I didn't tell anyone about it. It can be our secret. Bones told me that you saved my life. I don't know what to say, Spock. I am sorry but give me a second chance, please. I will make it up to you. I promise. May be we can be on the same Starship. Wouldn't that be cool? Please don't leave us. Don't leave me. I got no one…except Bones. But he is like a brother. You are…well, you know. I really like you, Spock.

 

"Heart rate stabilized!"

"Closing."

"He is clear."

Bones let out a whoop.

 

Jim opened his eyes. Jason and Bones high fived. Stacy was grinning at Jim.

"He is gonna be okay?" Jim couldn't believe it. Happiness bloomed inside him threatening to engulf him.

"Yes!" Bones replied and then pulled Jim into a hug.

 

The sound of a sob caught Jim's attention. He turned to see Amanda's face crumple like a little girl. Her lower lip trembled and her eyes filled up with water.

She let out a heart wrenching cry and flung herself onto Spock's chest.

 

Jim looked at Stacy in confusion. "I think she misunderstood."

Amanda's sobs rose in intensity. She clutched at Spock's collar and buried her face in his robes.

Stacy shook her head, wiping a tear of her own. "No, she understood."

Stacy took off the surgical gloves, and ran her hand up and down Amanda's back. "She knows," she said again. "He's her baby."

 

Jim watched as Amanda, who had been so tough and so calm, that Jim had forgotten that she was not a StarFleet officer, wept inconsolably. She had come all the way from Vulcan and didn't even pause to catch a breath. Her wails carried in the cool, crispy Georgian air, freezing all of them in place. He looked at Bones and the others. They had dropped everything else and without any hesitation, helped Spock, who was nobody to them.

 

Jim promised himself there and then that he would never put Amanda through this again. He would take care of Spock. Protect his life at all costs. Bones' too. He had put Bones through so much shit. Ellie and Amanda, he would never let them down. He had been stupid and made a lot of mistakes. He had been selfish, thinking only about himself. But he had changed. He vowed to be the best Captain there ever was. He would guard his crew with his own life.

 

Jim closed his eyes and for the first time he understood his dad. He sent a thought to wherever George Kirk was. I am sorry, Dad. I get it now. Better to die saving lives… than to live with taking them. That's what I was born into.

 

Chapter Text

Ellie was adamant.

Jim watched her as she passionately convinced Amanda that she and her son could be accommodated in their house just fine. Amanda was apologetic but the McCoys were having none of that. David was on the phone talking to his hospital. They were sending an Emergency medical response team so Spock wouldn't have to be taken to the hospital to recover.

Bones was sitting next to Jim, on the couch, listening to all the chaos. Amanda had already explained to Jim what had happened.

"Sorry for spoiling your Christmas," Jim told his friend quietly.

"Don't be stupid. This is the best Christmas we have had!" Bones muttered back.

"A stranger in your house? Showing up half dead?"

"Jim, do you know how rare it is to be able to drill into a man's skull? That's like medieval medicine, man! Was popular way back in 21st century. Dad is going to be gloating about it for years."

"Seriously?" Jim was amused.

"Oh totally. He got to perform old school surgery ...that too on a half-Vulcan in the middle of his freaking living room. All the shit I learned in med school pales in comparison to this. Joanna is still in awe that Santa got you a real, living elf,” Bones snickered.

Jim's ears burned. “Shut up."

"This is definitely the best Christmas we all have ever had. I can't believe that you did some mind voodoo with him and he just magically healed. Aren't you freaked out?"

"I am actually," Jim admitted. "I can feel him, Bones. He is there." Jim pointed to his head. "It's fucking weird."

"I bet. That bonding...it's some intense stuff. You sure you want this?"

Jim ducked his head in embarrassment. “You have no idea how much. I can't explain it..." He shrugged helplessly. "It's just...it's not bad, Bones. It feels like...like...something just fits correctly finally. Like you know when you land a starship and you get the docking just right."

"Getting mind married to a half-Vulcan on Christmas, without any prior notice, feels like docking a starship to you?" Bones' eyebrow had risen to its maximum height.

Jim scowled. “I am not married!"

"You are more married than any human has been to another. I bet in the history of mankind -"

"Shut up," Jim punched his best friend in the shoulder.

The medical response team had arrived. Within seconds they had setup a medical bed and transformed a corner of the living room into something like what Bones had in his clinic. Jim was impressed by their speed and efficiency. He watched the hospital team and David carefully transfer Spock from the floor to the medical bed. Amanda had not moved from Spock's side for even a second. Jim studied her expression - a mother's love and concern for her child. She glanced at Jim every few minutes and smiled. 

"I don't actually know anything about him, Bones. I think I am in shock," Jim confessed to his friend. "We aren't even friends. I thought he hated me."

"You are a giant dorkhead."

"I am serious! I told you what happened on the bus. He didn't want me, Bones. He has been avoiding me this entire time. Am not sure he is going to be happy when he wakes up. He was saying something about taking me back before shit went down. What if he was planning to ...you know..."

"Dude, his mom came all the way from Vulcan to make sure you guys..." Bones touched his two fists together "...do that!"

"I'm not sure," Jim repeated morosely.

"Well, get to know him then! Since when are you all shy? What happened to all the Kirk charm you freely dole out to anything that catches your fancy?"

"It doesn't work on Vulcans."

Bones threw up his hands. "You two are perfect for each other. He is as much as a nutcase like you. Almost killed himself trying to deny it." He shook his head and muttered, "Crazy hobgoblin. Well, I better find out what's going on."

"You don't have to, you know, I mean...Spock isn't your concern technically."

"Oh yes, he is. He has been my damn concern since the night he busted his ass trying to save yours. I gave him my number then, should have guessed the stubborn fool wouldn't just show up at my clinic on his own. I am totally his doctor now until he fires me." Bones looked at Jim. "Something tells me he won't."

Bones got up and went to talk with his Dad. The hospital team was busy disinfecting the floor. Ellie came over to where Jim was sitting.

"Jim, how are you, sweetie?"

"I am okay, thanks for - "

"You are welcome, dear."

"Where's everyone else? Joanna?"

"Oh they are watching a Christmas movie in the basement."

"Ahh!"

"David says Spock will be conscious soon. He wouldn't need to be on bed rest either. Vulcan healing magic!" she smiled at him.

Jim exhaled a sigh of relief.

"Listen, with the additional guests, I need to make some changes to the sleeping arrangements. So, I am going to put you and him in Lenny's room. Amanda will sleep in the study. I am getting extra beds delivered. Sound good?"

Jim blushed like an idiot.

"So, ummm...Bones will be sleeping with us as well?"

Ellie was about to answer when Bones came back. "Mamma, no!" he protested.

"Shh! It's just for two nights. Then our guests leave and you all can have the whole house to yourselves."

Jim looked at Bones. He didn't know whom to pity more. Himself or his friend. Ellie was apparently clueless.

"All right kiddos, I need to get lunch started. David wants to be with Spock till he is stable and awake."

Jim immediately stood up. "Let me help. Please, what can I do?"

"Oh you are useless, Captain!"

 Jim was taken aback.

 "Amanda says you need to be within close proximity to Spock for next many weeks. So stay put right here," Ellie winked and walked away laughing quietly to herself.  

Damn!

Bones followed his mom to the kitchen looking all grumpy. The hospital team left after a while. David and Amanda were the only ones left in the room, standing next to Spock's bed. They talked in subdued tones while Spock slept. It was finally quiet in the house after the dramatic morning. Jim reclined and studied Spock's face. The purple discoloration had completely cleared up and his skin has lost the deathly pallor. In fact, Spock looked almost radiant. The long, dark eyelashes against his pale skin took Jim's breath away. God, he was absolutely beautiful. 

Spock's eyelids twitched and then before Jim could look away, Spock opened his eyes and looked straight into Jim's. Jim's heart started doing cartwheels.

"Spock!" Amanda bent over him, taking his face in her hands. "How are you, honey?"

Spock's gaze moved from Jim to his mother. He mumbled something Jim couldn't understand.

"Ni'droi'ik nar-tor," Amanda whispered.

"Ring," Spock shook his head. They exchanged some more words in Vulcan.

Spock turned to David and said, "Shaya tonat."

"Spock, he doesn't understand Vulcan," Amanda looked surprised.

 "It is normal for bilingual patients to get confused when coming out of brain surgery. Please don't be concerned, he will be fine in a few hours," David assured her.

Spock's eyebrows bunched up ever so slightly, his expression intent as if trying to work out a complex math problem. Jim's heart did another flip. 

"Thank you, Doctor McCoy," Spock spoke a second later in clear English.

 "That was fast! You are welcome, young man. How do you feel?"

"I am adequate."

David cracked a smile. Jim tried his best not to smile but Spock was so adorable. 

"Well, you are free to get up and move about whenever you feel ready. Take your time. I will go and freshen up."

Spock nodded and Amanda smiled. David left and Jim wanted to flee as well. He was planning his escape route when he heard Amanda say, "Jim, come here, please, will you?"

Don't blush! Don't babble like a fool!

His treacherous heart wasn't listening of course. It started beating like crazy. Spock was looking at him. Dark, gorgeous, mysterious eyes with endless depth in them.  Jim walked over and stood at the foot of the bed, concentrating on the edge of the crisp, white sheets.

"You both need to talk. I am sure lunch will be ready soon. I am going to go and help. Use this privacy wisely." Amanda instructed in a stern voice, but her expression was tender. She touched Jim's shoulder lightly as she walked past him.

Jim waited till her the sound of her footsteps receded before daring to look up. Their eyes met.

"Hey," Jim was blushing from head to toe.

"Thank you," Spock's voice was somehow deeper than when he spoke to others. Or it was Jim's crazy imagination.

"Umm, I just...you don't...it was," Jim looked down, his heart hammering. His frantically tried to think of something coherent to say.

"Jim," Spock's voice dropped even lower. God! His own name had never sounded so amazing ever. The way Spock said it...just...Jim's poor heart was about to stop beating all together.

"Hmm?" Jim squeaked. He looked up, only to find that smoldering stare fixed on him. "Stop looking at me like that," Jim blurted.

Spock didn't reply at first, then he murmured, "Neither the rays of the blazing sun, nor the claws of the thirsty beast, can turn one away from a sight, which makes the silver bird sing." 

Jim's jaw dropped. He was awestruck.

"That is...ummm...that sounds...."

"It is an old Vulcan poem." 

"Oh!"

Vulcans wrote poems? Who knew!

"It is beautiful. What is it about?" Jim formed an intelligent question finally.

"It is about a Vulcan lost without his mate."

"Oh...I see...So, I guess you aren't mad at me anymore?" Jim fiddled with the corner of the sheets with a finger.

Spock inhaled sharply and there was such sadness on his face that Jim's heart squeezed.

"Hey...no," Jim forgot to keep his distance and moved from the foot of the bed to Spock's side. He reached out a hand to touch Spock's face but then hesitated and pulled it back. They looked at each other for a long moment.

'I am sorry, I didn't mean to hurt you." Jim finally said.

"Tilek svi'khaf-spol t'vathu - tilek svi'sha'veh."

"Another Vulcan poem?" A smile escaped Jim's lips. Spock was so full of surprises.

"A saying. By Surak," Spock's face transformed ever so slightly while looking at Jim, and to anyone else it would go unnoticed but Jim was starting to understand his Vulcan's subtle expressions.  

"I have a lot to learn looks like. So what does it mean?" Jim smiled brightly.

Spock was speechless for a moment, looking at Jim with an odd expression in his eyes. There was a whole universe held in those and Jim was completely enthralled by them. He leaned in, without realizing what he was doing, wanting to dive into Spock's gaze.

He waited expectantly but Spock just kept staring.

"Well? Do you know the meaning or did you forget? That happens you know, after your brain gets poked at," Jim grinned again, enjoying the idea that may be Jim had finally caught Spock at a moment of weakness.

"It...It means...The spear in the other's heart is the spear in your own."

"Wow. That's deep," Jim teased, hiding behind the joke, because the truth was that his insides had turned to jelly on hearing the sentiment. 

"Indeed." The corners of Spock's lips turned up a tiny bit and an eyebrow slanted up.
 

Jim burst out laughing. What a silly doofus his Vulcan was. He felt deliriously happy. The sound of someone clearing their throat made him jump. So lost was he that he had forgotten where they were. In the middle of the McCoy's living room!

Ellie was standing by the door with a smile on her face.

"Jim, I haven't been introduced, you know."

"Oh! I am sorry! Spock, this is Ellie, Bones' mom of course." Spock swung his legs off the bed and slowly stood up. Ellie approached him.

"Ellie, this is Spock, my...my..." Jim sputtered. He hadn't thought that one through!

Spock stood tall, looking dashing in those fancy robes, his head bowed. 

"I thank thee."

"The pleasure is all mine. I have always wanted to have a Vulcan friend."

 

Jim's heart melted with gratitude at how welcoming they were of Spock. As if they had always known him. No hesitation, just absolute acceptance. He saw Spock's expression reflect something similar.

Did Spock have a happy childhood? Was he used to a loving family? Did Vulcans accept Spock like McCoys did? Jim had so many questions about Spock. They would have to wait though, because their moment of privacy was over. Jim saw the rest of the family pour into the living room one by one. Joanna was looking at Spock with gaping eyes. Jim let Ellie and Amanda make rest of the introductions while he went to Joanna and whispered to her, "Do you want to talk to him?"

"Uh-uh", she nodded nervously.

"C'mon," he led her by hand after everyone had greeted Spock and were moving towards the dining room for lunch.

"Spock, this is Joanna."

 Spock's expression became soft. He knelt down in front of Joanna on one knee. Jim's heart flipped instantly. Thankfully, Spock was focused on Joanna.

"Joanna, I am pleased to meet you."

"Are you really an elf?" Joanna asked.

"No, I am a Vulcan."

"I knew that! Papa thinks I am just a baby," she crossed her arms and stuck out her lower lip.

"That is indeed inaccurate." 

Joanna looked momentarily confused by Spock's words. But, she recovered quickly. “Are you going to spend Christmas with us?"

"If you will allow me."

"Yup! I will allow you." She replied looking very pleased with herself. "You can sit next to me at lunch if you want to."

"Hey!" Jim protested. "What about me?"

"Jimmy uncle, your turn will be at dinner. You need to learn to take turns and share. It's good manners." She scolded him.

Spock rose to his feet and glanced at Jim with a twinkle in his eyes. Damn. Well, he couldn't blame Joanna for switching loyalties.

She offered Spock her hand and to Jim's surprise, he took it. Off she went trotting happily, telling him about hens in their backyard. Just before entering the dining room, Spock turned his head towards Jim and said in a barely audible voice, "You may seat yourself next to me if you wish."

Jim stopped walking while Joanna carried on merrily. After a few deep breaths, Jim collected himself and followed both of them in, not sure anymore of what to make of his emotions.

 

Chapter Text

In the dining room, Spock lowered himself down to the plush chair and felt his body sink into the soft cushion. It was difficult to maintain a straight spine with furniture like this. No wonder humans had such lax posture.

 

He surveyed the scene in front of him. A huge variety of food was laid out in colorful containers, along with neatly written labels next to each. Spock was both impressed and relieved that someone had jotted down “vegetarian” on some of the labels. Joanna was engaged in a debate with Leonard about the order in which she was required to consume food. Her preference seemed to be a carbohydrates-rich menu while Leonard was firmly stating she needed to consume the proteins first. Interesting!

 

Directly in front of him were plates of varying sizes, and glasses of varying heights along with multiple sets of cutlery. He recognized one of the smaller plates as a “salad plate” which was quite illogical. Salad as eaten on Vulcan required the largest plate. He also recognized one of the glasses as white wine and another as red wine glass. Again, those were completely new to him since Vulcan had no such concept. Unfortunately, he couldn’t recognize some of the other items. In his culture orientation course at the Academy, they had been learning about the various placement settings practiced on Earth. They had covered Japanese and African placements so far and were just starting the placement resembling this exact arrangement, termed as the English layout. He was quite pleased that he was getting a practical session of the theoretical concepts he was learning. His musings were brought to a halt when he sensed Jim’s body heat to his left. Jim sat down on the chair with a thud and flashed a smile at Spock before turning away quickly.

 

Everyone had been waiting for Jim who was the last to arrive, so lunch started as soon as he was settled. Within couple of minutes, Spock faced his first challenge. Round mounds of wheat had been passed around and when he attempted to cut his into pieces with a knife and fork, Joanna started laughing. Spock paused and turned to her with a raised eyebrow. She shook her head and said something. However, her mouth was so full that parsing the syllables proved impossible. Spock turned to Jim and the exact experience was repeated. Clearly, these two humans had something relevant to convey to him. So, he waited patiently while they swallowed.

 

“No! You don’t eat bread like that silly!” Joanna was the first to comment. “You hold it with your hands!”

Spock did come to know of this terran custom within the first few day of living on Earth. However, Vulcans did not touch food with their hands and so he had simply used his cutlery at the Academy.

“Thank you Joanna. I appreciate your advice, however, as a Vulcan, I do not touch my food with my hands.”

 

Amanda had stopped eating and was listening to their conversation with a smile.

“Never? You don’t touch it ever?”  Joanna’s eyes were round with surprise.

“No.”

“But...but...how do you eat popcorn?”

“We do not eat popcorn.”

“M&Ms?”

“We do not have alphabetized food.”

“Is that why your ears are like that?”

 

“Joanna!” Several adults spoke up in unison.

 

Joanna’s expression changed to guilt and she mumbled “Sorry” hastily.

Amanda was laughing hard and Jim was coughing into his palms.

“No offense is taken when none is intended.” Spock spoke a little loud to make sure the adults understood. He found the child’s honesty and curiosity refreshing and pleasant.

 

Rest of the lunch was a leisurely paced and informal affair punctuated by queries from Joanna about Vulcan toys and birthday parties. Jim, to his surprise, was mostly quiet. A few times Spock stole glances and met Jim’s eyes and every time a smile spread on Jim’s plump, pink lips. But he averted Spock’s gaze. Through the bond Spock sensed no distress so he was left puzzling at Jim’s sudden change in personality. He decided to risk a conversation.

 

“Are you enjoying the meal?” he asked.

“Umm, yup. You?”

“I am.”

 

He waited a few seconds for Jim to carry on. He had found that most humans were allergic to silence and filled it with continuous conversations. He had assumed Jim would be similar. During the data collection phase of his experiment, he had observed Jim to behave so. But Jim kept eating. Spock was forced to initiate again, a most unusual occurrence. He floundered for a suitable topic. He could carry long conversations on astrophysics but Spock had learned that humans did not enjoy such topics during meals.

 

“Do you have a preference in cuisine?” Talking about food while eating was hopefully acceptable.

Jim paused the trajectory of his fork towards his mouth and thought for a moment or two.

“I like a lot of stuff. Mexican, Thai, Lebanese, Indian, Italian, Chinese...anything edible and I will try once.”

“You would attempt Vulcan cuisine then?” Spock asked cautiously.

“Oh yes!” Jim’s eyes shone with excitement. ”I have never had that! I am curious about what do you guys eat.”

“I am pleased to know that.”

“It’s a shame really that we don’t have Vulcan restaurants. I wonder why.”

“The replicators at the Academy have a decent selection of Vulcan food items.”

“Oh!” Jim’s face became excited again. “Why did I never think of that! Well, once we go back, I plan to try all of them then.”

 

Spock had an illogical reaction to Jim’s statements. His heartbeat increased and something close to bliss flowed through his veins. Even more illogical was his next sentence.

“I would not be averse to cooking them for you.”

 

Jim made a choking sound and coughed a few times. He gulped down water noisily. Spock found everything Jim did amusing. The way he held the cutlery in his large palms. The big bites he took in no order. There was no method to his eating. Sometimes Jim attacked his plate on the left side but then moved to the right in next bite. Spock was amazed. He himself had always measured his food and cut them in precise, equal pieces first and then eaten them systematically in a logical fashion. Yet he found Jim’s method infinitely endearing.

 

“Sorry...I...uh...that’s really sweet. Do you like cooking?”

“It is considered a functional skill and taught to all Vulcan children.”

“But do you like it?” Jim wiped a crumb from his lips.

Spock hesitated. “I admit to never having entertained the idea prior to today.”

“Oh Spock! You want to cook...just for me?” Jim leaned towards Spock, his voice low, and his hand brushed against Spock’s on the table.

Spock could not meet his eyes. He looked down at his plate and said softly, “I would like to do many things for you, Jim. Not just cook. But yes.”

 

Visions of a kitchen with Spock cooking and Jim leaning next to him overtook Spock’s thoughts. Neither of them spoke again but Spock noticed Jim often brushed his hand against him and three times their knees touched under the table.  

 

After lunch was over and everyone helped clear out the table, Dr. David McCoy insisted that Amanda take a nap. Spock’s gratitude knew no bounds. Clearly, his mother needed rest. She refused of course, but Spock and Mr. David managed to squash down her little rebellion. Ellie setup her bed in the study and Amanda retreated there.

 

Ellie came back and asked him with a smile, “Do you want to rest as well? Or do you want to join us in finishing our gingerbread house?” Jim silently came over and stood next to Spock. “It’s a family tradition. We all make it together on Christmas eve and eat it on Christmas. This year though,” she looked at Jim and smiled, "it's been so eventful that we couldn't finish it yesterday."

 

Spock had never made one, though he knew the term “gingerbread house”. He turned to Jim and asked, "Are you interested in this activity?"

"I...umm..." Jim stammered. "Yeah, cool, why not?"

Relieved, Spock turned back to Ellie and said, "Very well then, I would be honored to be of assistance."

 

Ellie's smile widened. She looked at both of them for a long moment and then lead them into the kitchen. On the long marble island, a half-finished structure was laid out. The rest of the McCoy clan was already busy around it.

 

Jim sat down on an empty stool and patted the one next to him wordlessly while smiling at Spock. Humans made so many non-verbal gestures. They moved their hands, nodded their heads, patted furniture and so on. Spock had learned the significance of many of these but there were so many others he still couldn’t understand.

 

Spock perched on the high stool as gracefully as he could. His legs dangled in a most un-Vulcan way. What odd seating. He surveyed the scene.

Jim rested his elbow on the counter-top and looked at Spock with those startling blue eyes.

“What do you think of it?”

"It is a replica of a classic southern architecture building."

"Yup!" Jim grinned.

"Made out of edible substances as per my knowledge.”

"Yup! Often times people make these just for the show. But this one here is being made out of fresh stuff, so it’s going to taste yummy."

"Fascinating," he uttered.

 

Jim's lips stretched into a wide smile. Pride filled Spock. He had managed to please Jim and earned Jim’s smile as reward. Spock wished to repeat the phenomenon.

 

Ellie assigned them with the task of making “verandas” and left them on their own. Spock stared helplessly at the flurry of activity going around him. He was adept at reading technical manuals and assembling starships but he had no clue how to complete this strange task Ellie had assigned them.

His very first team assignment with Jim and he was completely unprepared! Even the child named Joanna was expertly picking up pieces of colored items and assisting Leonard.

Surely Jim would realize his incompetency and perhaps refuse to be his bondmate anymore. Despair pooled in his stomach.

 

Jim tapped on his shoulder lightly. “Hey! We could use pretzels!”

“I am afraid I do not know what is meant by pretzels.”

Jim bowed his head with another smile on his lips and said in a low voice which carried only to Spock’s ears, “You are so cute.”

 

Spock was taken aback. How could his sheer ignorance be a cause of mirth? But it had made Jim smile and Spock could no longer feel despair about his ignorance.

 

Jim held up pieces of “pretzels” and explained animatedly how they could accomplish their task. Spock listened in awe.

“Got it?”

“Affirmative.”

“All right, let’s get to work!”

 

He had not anticipated the intense pleasure he would experience in working side by side with Jim. He held the pretzels while Jim squeezed the white icing substance and stuck the pieces on the structure. Their fingers touched often due to the intricate nature of the task. Jim’s scent filled his nostrils, subduing even the sweet aroma of the various edible ingredients in front of him. Waves of thrill flowed through Spock’s body every time Jim leaned closer.

 

“You okay?” Jim asked him midway their project.

“Yes, Jim.”

“You know this is first time for me? I am assuming it’s for you too, right?”

“Indeed. Did your family not celebrate this holiday?”

 

Jim fell silent. The bond spiked with sudden pain. Spock tensed.

“I apologize. My question was not -”

“It’s okay.” Jim shook his head. “You can ask. No, my family didn’t celebrate Christmas this way. They didn’t celebrate much at all. I didn’t have a typical childhood.”

“I apologize, ashalik,” Spock murmured.

More pain flowed through the bond causing Spock to almost drop a piece of pretzel. Jim carried on normally outwardly making Spock realize how adept Jim was at hiding internal pain. He would never have imagined without the aid of the bond.

Moments later, Jim’s head jerked up in surprise.

“Whoa...is that the ...thing? What are you doing?”

“Yes, it is the bond you are feeling. I am not doing anything, Jim. My spontaneous reaction is what you are experiencing.”

“But...it feels...so good. Like someone hugging me. Real close.”

“I am relieved you find it helpful.”

Jim shook his head, “No, not just helpful...it’s wonderful. I have never felt it before. Was that really spontaneous?”

“Yes.”

“I am...touched, Spock. Thank you. How come I don’t feel the bond all the time? I think since morning this is the first time I felt is so distinctly. Otherwise it’s just...I dunno...like something heavy at the back of my head. But fuzzy, you know?”

“That is to be expected. My mother faced the same challenge. Your mind is not trained for telepathy. You will need to learn how to use the bond. Furthermore, in resting states, the bond does not interfere with normal mind processes. One feels their bondmate’s emotions only when a certain threshold is crossed.”

“I see. Well, that’s good. I kinda was a little nervous that you could read my thoughts all the time.”

“Negative. Privacy is a central tenet of Vulcan lifestyle. However, with the kind of bond we have, if we desire, we could train our minds to a high enough level that small changes in emotions would be detectable. It is a theoretical concept and you need not worry about it.”

 

Jim nodded thoughtfully but Spock sensed no further distress over the bond.

 

Music, which he recognized as carols, was playing in the background. A few of the humans hummed to the tunes. Laughter and conversation was all around him.

 

When the song called “Merry Christmas” started playing, the others stopped working abruptly and broke into an impromptu choir. Spock’s first instinct was to calculate the loss of efficiency in working in this haphazard manner. But then he slowly realized that efficiency was not the goal.

 

He listened in fascination at the loud singing. He turned towards Jim and noticed that Jim hadn’t joined them. He was pondering the reason when he heard Leonard shout across the marble surface at Jim.

“ Hey Jim! You don’t get to eat candy in this house if you don’t sing!”

The others chorused their agreement.

 

Jim laughed good naturedly and then started singing along very softly, his head bowed, eyes looking down, a warm glow coloring his cheeks. Spock was enthralled at the sight.

 

When he heard his bond mate’s voice, Spock’s heart skipped a beat. Jim’s voice flowed like smooth waters of a canal, cutting through the dry desert of Spock’s soul and turning everything green. He had not known how beautifully Jim could sing! As the song progressed, Spock was utterly transfixed. Spock’s heart longed to hear Jim sing just for him, away from everyone. Perhaps on a warm Vulcan night, under a starry sky, as the silverbird would descend from the skies to listen to such angelic voice, Spock would play the lyre in a duet. The thought caused Spock to become so emotional that he found breathing difficult.

 

The song ended with clapping and cheering. Spock wrestled with his wayward concentration and hoped his expression betrayed nothing.

 

Two hours later, the gingerbread house was finished. Heat washed over his body when he saw Jim licking his fingers clean of the sticky white residue.

“Need help?” Jim asked him.

Spock hung his head, unable to reply. He needed a different kind of help at that moment.

 

“What are you getting so green about?” Jim whispered; a small laugh in his voice.

“Clarify your question.”

“Huh? Well, I was asking if you wanted me to show you the way to the bathroom. I figured you would want to wash your hands, you know, the proper civilized way.”

“Indeed.”

“But...did I say something? You look so green!” Jim was looking at him curious eyes.

“Can you please show me the way?” Spock got up hastily and managed to nip Jim’s interrogation in the bud.

 

A while later, the family room was where everyone gathered, sipping ice teas, coffee or hot cocoa. Most of the McCoys took up reclining poses, a highly unusual scene for Spock who was accustomed to such poses only for sleeping. In the center a few of them engaged in a board game.

 

Spock found a corner where he could sit in as dignified a manner as he could manage. He had to fold his legs under him and adopt a meditation posture. Jim stretched his hands above his head next to him with a groan and then flopped down on the cushions unceremoniously. Folding his hands under his head, Jim looked at Spock with half lidded eyes. His shirt pulled upwards and a sliver of taut stomach showed.

 

“Do you always act so formal?” Jim asked Spock with a lazy smile.

“Define formal.”

“You sit with a straight back. Talk only when someone directly addresses you. You don’t express emotions openly. That’s formal.”

“It may appear such to you, however, this is the norm among Vulcans.”

“Don’t you feel like relaxing sometimes?”

“I am relaxed.”

Jim laughed. “Well, relax like me I mean. Lie down, take a nap?”

“Resting is a personal activity on Vulcan. Done inside one’s personal chambers.”

“Hmmm. So you must be uncomfortable right now?”

Spock hesitated and glanced around. No one was paying attention to them. “I would not be  comfortable in similar circumstances elsewhere, however, I am not uncomfortable currently.”

“How come?”

“Your presence is an antidote.”

“Ohh…!”

Jim’s cheeks and ears took on that appealing red hue. He smiled and put a hand over his eyes, hiding his face.

“I’m glad I am useful,” he replied.

 

Ellie approached them. Jim sat up immediately and pulled his shirt down.

“Sorry to interrupt kiddos. But we are going out in couple of hours to see the lighting and watch the special musical fountain show in the botanical garden. It’s really beautiful and I am sure you both will enjoy it.”

“Sounds awesome,” Jim nodded.

“Well, I wasn’t sure Spock, if you wanted to freshen up. Sorry I am a little rusty on Vulcan etiquettes. I just wanted to make sure that you know that you are welcome to use the guest bathroom on third floor.”

“I appreciate the offer. I do wish to change. I left San Francisco without adequate planning and unfortunately I have not brought any personal belongings with me. As you must have observed, my attire is highly undignified.”

“Oh no! Not all.” Ellie objected.

“Exactly. I thought it’s quite fancy, Spock. This robe kind of thing you have on. None of us mind it.” Jim reassured.

“These are sleeping robes. My attire is worn only in one’s personal room at night on Vulcan. It is hence extremely inappropriate. I left during the night and was in such an agitate state that I failed to realize I should have changed.”

“Ah!” Jim exclaimed.

“I see.” Ellie replied. “Well, how about this? We have couple of hours to kill anyways. Would you like to go and do a little bit shopping Spock? Most of the shops are closed but there’s a nice mall nearby which is open. I am sure Jim can help you...right Jim?”

Jim’s spine straightened. Excitement flowed through the bond. 

“Fantastic idea.”

Ellie looked at him so Spock nodded his agreement.

“Great. Jim, please make sure he gets swimwear and sportswear.”

“Got it.” Jim curled his palm into a first and put his thumb up.

“Let me get you the keys to our hovercar.”

They got up and started walking out of the family room.

“Actually, do you have a bike?” Jim asked in a voice brimming with anticipation.

 Ellie laughed. “Oh boy. Well, yes we do. It’s David’s old bike. He hasn’t used in a while.”

“Do you think he will mind if I borrow it?”

“Oh not at all. I just think your...Vulcan guest here might not be enthusiastic.” Ellie winked at him.

“Don’t worry about it,” Jim laughed back.

 

Spock listened to the entire conversation with mounting curiosity. He was accustomed to hovercars and hoverbuses. What could be so strange about this transportation called bike? Jim made no effort to explain but he had a huge smile on his face. The bond thrummed with a mix of adrenaline induced emotions. Curiosity at peak, Spock followed Jim outside.

 

 

 

 


 

So, I don't know if Jim can sing or not, lol, but Chris Pine sure can! If you haven't listened to him, please I insist you do so now! :)
Love this post on tumblr of him singing

And here's Quinto!!
I posted this on my tumblr

Chapter Text

Jim had always been a confident man about his looks. He knew he had been blessed with a face and body most people found instantly attractive. He had waltzed through life never having to do more than flutter his eyelashes or flash a grin before the other party caved into his charms. But with Spock, everything was upside down. He was nervous and felt strangely out of his depth. How did one go about seducing a Vulcan? Especially one who drove Jim so crazy with lust that he had been undone on a public bus yet he knew nothing about Spock. And now they were bonded!

 

All afternoon, Jim had been overcome with such uncharacteristic shyness, that he could hardly hold Spock’s gaze. He was glad they had been with the McCoy’s family during this whole experience because Jim needed the distraction. He was getting his brain back on track though. Ergo, his plan for getting Spock on a bike!

 

Ellie took them one level down to the family garage with fancy lighting and smooth, polished black floor. Jim spotted six, sleek hovercars suspended in air, illuminated by spotlights from above. He had been too distraught last evening when he had been taken to the hospital to notice the McCoy’s incredible car collection.

 

“Are you sure?” Ellie asked as she walked past all the sizzling automobiles.

“Umm, yeah.”

Spock silently walked alongside.

“All right then, here it is,” she reached the very end of the long garage where a thing of utter beauty caught Jim’s eyes, hovering mid-air.

 

Jim whistled low.

“Sorry, it’s a little unused. More like a couple of decades,” Ellie laughed.

Jim couldn’t believe a bike like that could be sitting unused for two decades!

 

He ran a hand along the smooth tank cover, over the side panel and was admiring the spokeless wheels when Ellie nudged him gently and handed him the keycard.

“All the gear is in there,” she pointed to a set of glass covered shelves in the wall. “Have fun, ...and oh...David asks that you return Spock’s brain back in one piece,” she patted him on his shoulder and then left them alone.

 

“May I enquire the name of this transport you seem transfixed by?” Spock asked warily after a few moments.

“It’s a PX70,” Jim replied, eyes still on the bike. “My Dad had one. Used to drive mom nuts,” he spoke fondly with a small smile. It was among the few memories Mom had managed to tell Jim before she lost it all.

“What was the cause of her...going nuts?” Spoke stumbled on the last words, making Jim look up.

“He would put her on his back and drive,” Jim winked.

“A fate you are planning to subject me to?” Spock’s eyebrow was climbing higher with each passing second.

“Exactly!” Jim replied cheerfully.

 

Spock crossed his arms over this chest and looked particularly unhappy which made Jim laugh out loud.

 

“There are safer and more reliable transportation options. I fail to see the logic in this choice of yours.”

“I don’t operate on logic, Spock. You will learn soon enough.”Jim walked over to the glass covered shelves which slid back soundlessly on his approach.

Rows and rows of gear lay neatly folded.

He started looking through them to find the ones which would fit them.

“Since you are so concerned about safety, you will like these,” he threw a bundle at Spock who caught it with impressive reflexes.

 

“Explain.”

“This is safety gear. Let’s suit you up Vulcan boy,” Jim approached Spock with a sly smile. “Ummm, you will need to take off the robes, Spock. You do have something on underneath, right?”

 

Spock tilted his head and opened his mouth as if to say something but nothing came out, he just kept looking at Jim in confusion.

 

“Right! Of course, you do,” Jim blushed. “Well, take your robe off then.” Jim’s heartbeat started climbing just at the prospect of seeing a little bit of flesh. He had never seen Spock in anything but neck to ankle covered clothing.

Spock untied the robe at his waist, then slid it off his lean, long body. He was dressed in black full sleeves undershirt and soft slacks. God, he looked amazing.

 

Jim licked his lips nervously and then said, “Okay, so this is a riding jacket. You just put it on, here you go.” he helped Spock and zipped it up for him. The jacket fit Spock perfectly. And the sexy cut of the jacket made Spock look even hotter. “Ummm, good, now the pants. Just put them on, you don’t have to remove your slacks.”

 

“I was not planning to.”

 

“Of course,” Jim replied breathlessly. “You do need to remove your shoes. Here, let’s see if these riding boots fit you.” Jim crouched down in front of Spock, who silently and obediently let Jim dress him up. The boots were knee length and damn, Jim was having trouble focusing. His fingers trembled as he pulled the zip up Spock’s long legs.

 

“Jim?” Spock must have picked on Jim’s state of mind through the darned bond.

“Okay, last two items. Gloves and helmet.” Jim handed black gloves to Spock.

 

“These preparations do not bode well,” Spock said after he had put on the gloves.

 

“It’s just standard safety protocol,” Jim replied. He couldn’t take his eyes off Spock. Vulcans in motorcycle gear were his new favorite thing.

 

He quickly put on his own jacket, boots and activated the intercom link between their helmets so they could communicate.

He hopped on, inserted the key in the starter slot and the bike purred to life. “Ready?”

 

“Negative,” Spock replied stubbornly.

 

“C’mon! It will be fun.”

 

Spock didn’t budge.

 

“How are you going to go into space if you can’t - “

 

“A starship is built to protect its inhabitants and tested to rigorous -”

 

“Please? For me?” Jim looked at Spock from under his eyelashes hoping to look his most pleading self.

 

Spock let out his breath in a long sigh.

“But, come what may, I do adore thee so that danger shall seem sport and I will go.”

 

“Oh boy! Shakespeare huh? How many kinds of poetry do you know?”

 

“Not enough,” Spock replied, as he gingerly climbed on the bike, settling behind Jim with a straight back.

“You have to put your hands around me and hold me tight,” Jim instructed.

 

“Interesting.”

 

Jim chuckled. His breath hitched the next moment when he felt Spock’s arms around his waist and Spock’s body against his back.

 

He eased the clutch and drove out of the garage with a steady hand, not wanting to scare Spock anymore, who tightened his hands around Jim in a death grip as soon as the bike started moving.

 

They drove past rolling, green hills, and breathtaking Georgia countryside.

“Isn’t it beautiful?” Jim shouted through the wind whipping past his helmet.

“Yes, Jim.”

“See, I told you, you’ll love this!”

“Your deductive reasoning is alarming.”

Jim broke into a laugh.

“You’re a funny guy, you know that?”

“I do not believe anyone has said that to me prior to this moment.”

“Oh, they just don’t get you. You are damn funny.”

 

It took 25 minutes to reach the mall. Jim parked the bike and waited for Spock to peel off him. When Spock didn’t move, he turned in his helmet and asked, “Spock? You okay?”

 

Little by little Spock detached himself from Jim and managed to plant himself back on solid ground. Jim flashed him a grin. It was adorable the way the stoic Vulcan who seemed unfazed by much scarier things in life, had been unsettled by something like riding a bike but clearly trying not to admit that he had been scared. The pride with which Spock carried himself was both cute and sexy.

 

“Nice ride,” a woman standing nearby commented. Jim noticed quite a few curious glances from people around them. He wasn’t sure what they were looking at. His bike or a Vulcan with him. Both were a rare sighting.

 

“Thanks!” Jim replied to her. “You could have had it. But it’s not mine. Sorry!”

 

Inside the sprawling mall, Jim found the holomap display and identified the section of the building they needed to head towards.

Helmets tucked under elbows, they walked side by side, in perfect sync.

 

“May I enquire about a detail regarding human communication etiquette?”

“Of course. What do ya wanna know?”

“You offered the woman in the parking area the PX70. Was that necessary? Surely you do not mean to hand it over to her if the vehicle had been yours.”

 

Jim laughed,“I don’t know if it was necessary, but I meant it. She genuinely liked it. So, yeah I did mean what I said.”

“You would have willingly parted from the vehicle simply because she expressed interest?”

 

“Well, I will be space-bound soon. What am I going to do with a bike? Plus, it’s fun to make other people happy. I like it. If I really want, I can always get another bike later. I will have tons of credit accumulated from my Starfleet career.”

“Fascinating.”

Jim laughed again. “What’s so fascinating, Spock?”

“Your remarkable sense of generosity.”

“Oh! You make it sound way cooler than it is.”

 

“I disagree. I can also sense your honesty through the bond. Which makes your generosity even more remarkable. Unconditional giving requires a character of utmost integrity. I am grateful and proud that I have you as my bondmate.” Spock spoke with so much sincerity that Jim was unexpectedly moved.

 

Jim wasn’t used to such deep conversations, certainly not where others seem to compliment him. He didn’t agree that he was remarkable or anything, but he was also deeply touched by Spock’s words. It was hard to dismiss them with a joke as he usually did when made uncomfortable this way. So, in a moment of growth, he matched Spock’s sincerity with his own and replied,“Thank you, Spock. That means a lot to me.”

 

Their eyes met and what passed between them was hard to describe. Perhaps there were no words for it. Jim was the first to look away. He was overwhelmed.

“I am also ashamed I misjudged your character. I have much to learn,” Spock added, head hanging low, walking in long strides.

 

Jim wanted to object to that. They hadn’t yet spoken about their miscommunication. He still didn’t know exactly why Spock had avoided him. He had a good idea though. His incident at Midnight Blue was somehow to blame. But his emotions were already swirling near the surface. Spock could bring down his walls in an instant. So, he decided to tackle the subject later. Probably a mall wasn’t a good place either.

 

However, he couldn’t just let Spock think he was the only one to blame. So, Jim did what he was best at. Improvise on the spot.

He put a hand on Spock’s shoulder and pulled him towards himself slightly. He leaned in and touched Spock’s cheeks with his lips in an affectionate kiss and whispered in a voice thick with emotion, “It’s okay.”

 

Spock’s steps faltered and his eyes closed. Jim couldn’t stop himself. He dragged his lips across Spock's jaw and brushed them against the soft, Vulcan lips in a gentle, chaste kiss. Spock trembled, moaned softly and said, “Jim”, in a voice which almost brought Jim to his knees.

Jim hastily let go before he could start saying more sappy things and make a fool of himself in a public place yet again!

They resumed walking, both breathing a little hard. 

“Have you ever been to one of these malls in San Francisco?” Jim asked after a few moments.

“Negative.”

“So, this is your first time shopping on Earth?”

“Yes.”

“Is it different than on Vulcan?”

“Yes, significantly.”

“Really? Now I am curious. There’s not much information out there about your planet considering you have been a founding member. I tried to look up, you know. Neither do you guys believe much in tourism. Very mysterious.”

“There is no mystery. However, I agree with you - cross-cultural exchange is limited in Vulcan society. Vulcans seldom voluntarily seek out contact with other races.”

“What about you then? Why made you join Starfleet?”

 

Spock hesitated, his expression changing in that subtle way that Jim was slowly beginning to decipher.

 

“Oh sorry. Is it a wrong question to ask? I was just - ”

“You may ask, Jim.” Spock still looked a little troubled. “You are my bondmate. You have the right.”

“No, that’s fine. You don’t have -”

“I wish you to know,” Spock locked eyes with Jim. “I wish to share. I desire it.”

 

Jim’s heart skittered unsteadily. Spock had a way with words the likes of which Jim had never experienced. The conversation was cut short when a lady in her twenties, with dark, glossy hair tied into a neat bun and a dazzling smile greeted them.

“How can I help you, gentlemen?”

They had reached the clothing department store Jim wanted to take Spock to. The chain catered to a wide variety of tastes, frequently stocking styles not found elsewhere. He was hoping Spock would find something to his liking there.

“We are just going to look around. He is not sure what he wants,” Jim indicated Spock.

“Of course! Please let me know when you are ready to be measured. My name is Lupita,” she handed Jim a pager but her eyes were on Spock. Jim noticed her gaze lingering on Spock’s ears . Yeah, he is Vulcan, lady. And mine!

 

Aloud, he thanked her and pulled Spock away before she could say anything more.

 

“So, here’s how this works. We take a shopping chip from one of these consoles.” Jim took Spock to one of the many consoles lined up on the wall by the entrance. He obtained a shopping chip from one and then led Spock inside the store.

 

“Then, you look around and choose which style you want to try on. This store carries tons of styles, even some from distant parts of Alpha quadrant. All the styles are available in different sizes to try on. Once you choose what you like, we simply scan our shopping chip and the style number will be loaded into it, for us to retrieve from the replicators later. We can scan and load as many items as you want. Once we use our credits to complete the purchase, we will then get your measured, so the styles can be replicated as per your exact measurements.”

 

“So, every piece of clothing is custom made?”

 

“Of course. That’s how it works. Else, things wouldn’t fit anybody. I mean we are all different, right?”

 

“Indeed. A very efficient system.” Spock had that glint in his eyes, the kind scientists get when they discover something new and exciting. Jim loved it when Spock looked all excited in his subdued Vulcan way. He wanted to find more things which would make Spock go fascinating just so Jim could devour that look.

 

Spock took his time browsing through the collections. In the end, he found Pathan style clothing most Vulcan-like but he wasn’t entirely satisfied.

 

“You know what? Let’s do this. How about you buy some regular jeans and shirts. For your nightwear, loungewear, and undergarments, we will get them special ordered.”

 

“Special ordered?” Spock raised an eyebrow.

 

“Yup. I am sure they can do that.” He pressed the pager button and Lupita answered instantly. “Lupita, do you have Vulcan clothes available for special order?”

 

“Yes. Sure. Please wait for me. I will be with you in a moment.”

 

She tracked them down using the pager’s location. “It will take about four hours for the replicators to download the specification from Vulcan over the Federation network and replicate your items. Is that acceptable?” she asked.

 

“Yup, that’s fine.”

“Excellent. Are you ready to be measured, sir?” She asked Spock ignoring Jim again.

 

“I am,” Spock spoke to her directly. Her eyes widened slightly at his voice. Jim rolled his eyes, but no one was looking at him.

 

She made Spock strip down to his black undershirt and pants beneath the bike gear and took her sweet time measuring Spock with her hand-held device. Jim was pretty sure there was no need to touch Spock as she did, while she was taking the measurements, but he gritted his teeth and didn’t say anything. Spock stood like a statue letting her do her job. 

She went off to place their special order and Jim led Spock to the section of the store he was most familiar with – Jeans and shirts.

“Want me to help you try these on?” Jim winked shamelessly, standing by the door of the changing room.

 

“That would not be necessary nor efficient,” Spock looked surprised.

 

“Oh! Spock!” Jim laughed and stole a quick, chaste kiss again before Spock could react.

 

Spock looked startled but then suddenly turned green and closed the door on Jim’s face.

 

“What clued you in?” Jim laughed and asked from outside the door.

 

“Your emotions over the bond are impossible to ignore.”

 

“Ah! I would apologize, but I am not one bit sorry.”

 

“I am aware. You are incorrigible.”

 

“Thanks! It’s my mission in life.”

 

At the end of an hour, they had managed to get Spock all that he required. While they waited by the replicators for the clothes to materialize, Lupita took Bones’ home address, so the custom Vulcan clothes could be directly transported there.

 

When they left the store, she was having trouble keeping her eyes off Spock, who was now dressed in dark jeans, a white collared shirt and a burgundy V neck sweater on top. Jim couldn’t blame her. Spock in jeans was a vision. He was just thankful they were bonded and all.

 

Spock seemed oblivious to the drama he had generated and instead seemed more interested in the operational aspects of the shopping experience.

 

Jim wanted to kiss him again. Pin him against a wall and crush his lips till Spock would forget all about the schematics and engineering marvel he was so excited about. But Jim did no such thing. He was determined to go slow this time and let Spock become comfortable. So, he just listened to Spock, soaking in every word and drinking in the sight of an excited, innocent Vulcan looking effortlessly sexy in everyday clothes.

 

Chapter Text

On the ride back Jim took a few unnecessary hairpin turns just to mess with Spock. He was rewarded by a pair of arms squeezing him tighter every time.

 

“You are awfully quiet...are you scared?” Jim teased on a relatively flat stretch of road.

“Vulcans do not experience fear.”

Jim chuckled.

“Furthermore, silence is under appreciated in humans.”

“What else do Vulcans not experience?”

“Illogical choices in transport and unreasonable thrill seeking behavior.”

 

Jim threw his head back and laughed.

“You will like this then!”

 

He flipped on the voice activated command system of the bike and said,

“Play Sabotage, Beastie Boys, 1900s.”

 

He turned the volume to maximum and with a huge grin waited for the music to start.

After a few moments, the deafening notes of the song filled the insides of their helmets.

 

Jim increased the speed and bellowed “Aaaaaaah” with the lyrics.

Spock clung to him for dear life, with every inch of his body pressed against Jim’s. They zoomed past quaint countryside and passed a few hovercars - the passengers inside staring at them.

They were almost near Bones’ house. Jim didn’t slow down, planning to stop the bike in the nick of time to complete the effect. He opened the visor of his helmet and let the music blast.

 

In the small lull that the song has in the middle, Spock’s voice came over the helmet comm, “I would like to inform you that this cacophony - “

The beats started again and Jim screamed “Whyyyyyyyyyy” into the evening quiet air. Spock buried his face in Jim’s shoulder.

 

Jim grinned. This was the best day ever in his life.

 

He spotted a lone figure ahead who was walking along the countryroad carrying a piece of luggage. The figure stopped walking just as Jim’s wild voice died down, the music still blaring from his helmet.

At the precise moment that their bike passed the figure, the man turned and Jim’s eyes met the man’s.

 

Holy Shit! Jim abruptly applied the brakes while cursing again. The bike rose up on its rear wheels dangerously before Jim managed to get it under control. Jim turned the bike 360 degrees around, his feet dragging on the ground for purchase, but managed to keep Spock from being thrown to the ground. Or rather Spock’s grip on him was more solid than gravity itself.

 

Jim killed the music hastily and with a flushed face finally came to a complete stop, just a few feet away from the stranger. The stranger who had pointed ears, bowl cut and slanted eyebrows. The man who stood staring at them with a shocked face was no man after all.

 

Few tensed seconds passed as the Vulcan kept staring at Jim.

 

“Ummm...Spock?” Jim whispered stupidly. “Who is that?”

He felt Spock slowly remove his head from Jim’s shoulder where he had been hiding. Then, Spock took off his helmet.

 

The stone faced Vulcan shifted his gaze from Jim to Spock and his expression registered a whole new level of shock without managing to move any facial muscles.

No one spoke for a few moments. Jim felt a mix of heightened emotions flowing over the bond. It made him realize that for all the protest that Spock had been doing about the bike, he had not actually felt any real fear or discomfort from Spock across the bond. Now though, Jim felt Spock’s discomfort sharply.

 

Spock swung his leg over the seat and got off the bike. Raising his right hand in a split “V”, he spoke in a tight voice, “Father.”

 

The Vulcan responded with a mirror “V” and replied in a completely flat tone,”Spock.”

 

“I was not aware of your intention to visit.”

“It was not my intention to arrive unannounced but your mother, as you are well aware, is fond of such planning which results in humans getting taken by surprise .”

“Ahh. Indeed.”

“I apologize if this has caused you distress - “

“On the contrary, it is I, who is concerned if...if our appearance has disappointed you.”



Jim shifted uncomfortably. He hadn’t given much thought on making his first impression on Spock’s father but he admitted to himself, that the current impression wasn’t his best for sure. He slowly dismounted from the bike and put it on its stand.

 

“Father, this is James Kirk. He is...fond...of classical music.”

 

Jim glanced at Spock surreptitiously. Spock’s face was a blank mask. But was that actual pride in Spock’s voice he just heard?

 

“And motorbikes,” Spock’s father commented.

 

Both Spock and Jim were taken aback.

 

“How did you know of this method of transportation. I, myself, was only introduced to it 2 hours 4 minutes ago.”

 

Jim looked at Spock’s dad curiously. He was dressed in dark colored, heavy Vulcan robes, with intricate silk embroidery along the seams. Nothing about him seemed to be related to bikes!

 

“Your mother is, unfortunately, quite fond of them. Before your birth, when I was stationed on Earth, she owned a similar one. She frequently made me accompany her.”

 

Spock’s eyebrows shot up.

 

“Mother owns a motorbike? Where is it?”

 

“It was conveniently disposed off when she chose to leave Earth.”

 

“Fascinating. How have I never heard of this before?”

 

“I find it is best not to encourage her memories. Amanda can be quite...determined.”

 

Jim was having trouble not breaking into a dance. Amanda loved bikes!! And Spock’s dad was just as chicken as Spock! Well, so much for their Vulcan exteriors.

 

“Why did you then agree to accompany her?” Spock tilted his head slightly.

 

“It seemed logical at the time. May I ask, son, if you have inherited your mother’s fondness for this method of transportation?”

 

“I have not.”

 

Spock and dad looked at each other this time meaningfully.

 

“The human propensity for such activities is perplexing,” Spock confided to his father.

 

“Indeed. I have yet to understand it. Why did you choose to accompany then?”

 

Spock glanced at Jim and replied in a resigned voice, “It is only logical.”

 

“Indeed.”

 

Jim couldn’t help but smile widely. Gosh! Vulcans were adorable. Cribbing stoically about their wild human partners. He was starting to lose his initial fear of the strict looking elder Vulcan. He wasn’t really that bad after all.

 

Spock’s father looked back at Jim, bowed his head slightly and raised his palm at Jim.

“James Kirk, I am Sarek.  I thank thee for saving my son’s life.”

“I - I really didn’t do much, sir. My friend and his family - the docs were the ones.”

 

“Your ignorance is understandable given your human ancestry. Spock, have you not explained the bond to James?”

“I have provided high level overview. Due to time constraint, I have not yet discussed the details.”

 

Sarek clasped his hands in front of him and nodded in understanding.

“James, the medical intervention has indeed saved his life. I was not precise earlier. My apologies. I must thank thee for saving his sanity.”

 

“Sanity?” Jim repeated.

 

“Indeed.” Sarek stepped forward and came nearer to Jim, till they were standing comfortably in front of each other. “Only your mind could have saved him. A t’hy’la bond is unique. Due to his earlier meld with you while you were dying, a piece of his katra now resides in you. Similarly, when you melded with him and saved him, a fragment of your katra was transferred to him. Your bond now transcends time and space.”

 

Jim listened to each word with increasing confusion and incomprehension. What was residing where? What did he mean by transcends time and space?

 

Before he could ask anything, Spock cut in. “Father, I will explain everything in due time. I request you to please refrain from further discussion on this subject. Having studied with humans for the past months, I have clearer understanding of their psychology.”

 

Sarek looked a bit surprised. Father and son looked at each other for a long moment. Then, Sarek’s expression changed a tiny bit.

“Very well. That is quite logical.”

 

Spock looked relieved.

 

“Amanda must be getting concerned. The estimated time of my arrival is now five minutes past.” Sarek looked at a funky looking device on his wrist. “Your mother does not like to be kept waiting. Let us proceed to our common destination.”

 

They walked the last few yards down the road, in the dimming sunlight, Jim rolling the bike along, and entered the grounds of the mansion together.



The front doors were open, as had been that morning. Jim parked the bike and hurried up the stairs with Spock and Sarek.

 

He was just in time to catch the expression on Bones and Joanna’s face. Joanna stared open mouthed for a few seconds at the two Vulcans and then whispered to Bones,in a voice which carried to all of them. “Papa, how many did Jimmy uncle asked Santa?”

 

Bones’ reply to her was drowned out by David, who having recovered from the shock first, approached them with uncertainty. “Hello, I am David.”

 

“Dr. McCoy, this is my father.”

 

“I am Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan. My wife -”

 

Amanda came rushing out of the kitchen.

“Sarek!”

 

She looked refreshed after her nap. Her eyes shone brightly.

“Oh you already met!” She grinned at Jim. “I was hoping to surprise you, Spock.”

 

Spock’s parents did not hug but did a weird thing with their fingers. Hmm, some kind of Vulcan ritual? Jim wondered.

 

“You were successful, mother.” Spock voice held a note of long suffering. Amanda beamed at him. “Jim and I were quite unprepared”.

 

Ellie came over and Sarek was escorted inside with much formality. Everyone got introduced, including Joanna, who stared at Sarek with big, round eyes. Jim silently prayed that she wouldn’t blurt out something about M&Ms to Sarek.

 

Sarek had survived a human wife all right but Jim didn’t want the guy to be traumatized in his first few minutes of meeting everyone. Even Spock was still getting used to the McCoys and being amongst humans in such a informal setting must be stressful for the Vulcans. Thankfully everyone seemed to understand this. Sarek was given a wide berth of personal space as well as the small talk was being done in a very careful manner.

 

After half an hour, the entire group left the mansion in several hovercars for the botanical gardens. Darkness had fallen outside by then. The town of Suwanee was decked in lights. Every tree along the main road and every shop glittered. Jim was with Spock’s family in one hovercar. Spock was sitting next to him and Amanda on the other side of Spock. Sarek was up in the front seat. They were all looking out the window and when Jim turned to Spock, their eyes met.

“So beautiful huh?” Jim said quietly.

“Yes, Jim.”

Jim looked down at their legs, which were close, almost touching but not quite. He bit his lower lip, and looked up at Spock, with a mischievous glint in his eyes. Then he shifted his right leg till it was pressed against Spock’s. Spock’s eyes silently looked at Jim. Jim grinned back.

 

Amanda and Sarek were busy looking outside and the inside of hovercar was dark. Jim shifted some more till his shoulders were touching Spock’s. Spock’s eyes widened. Jim winked. He quickly checked to make sure Amanda and Sarek were still oblivious. Taking it a notch up, Jim moved his right hand till he found Spock’s left palm and linked their fingers together.

 

Spock reacted visibly this time. His eyes closed and the delicate, pink lips parted in an almost silent moan. Jim had not expected such a strong reaction.

 

The light from outside illuminated half of Spock’s face, the rest hidden in darkness, making his Vulcan features look dreamy. Jim desperately wanted to lean in and kiss that open mouth. Spock looked so lost. But he decided that would be too much for his Vulcan to handle. He waited for Spock to get a handle on himself. Spock opened his eyes after a few moments and looked down shyly, refusing to meet Jim’s gaze. Awwee , Jim’s heart melted.

 

Their hands were still clasped and that’s how they rode rest of the way. Jim let go of Spock’s hand when they reached.

 

Inside the gardens, there were people already settled on the green grass, under the clear, night sky. Some were reclining on blankets, some sat on lawn chairs. The place looked magical with thousands of twinkling lights draped over every bush and tree. Soft, cheerful music floated from somewhere.

 

They found a spot for the family. Ellie had brought blankets and soon everyone was comfortably lounging on them. The tweens sprawled on one blanket. Bones and Joanna on another. Rest of them all split up in couples, none of them too close to others.

 

Jim plopped down, crossed his hands under his head, and looked at the stars. Spock was sitting cross legged next to him looking around at all the people gathered. Jim observed him for sometime. Spock looked so innocent studying his surroundings earnestly.

“Hey.”

Spock turned to look down at Jim.

“You look beautiful like this.”

Spock’s mouth opened as if he was going to say something but then he hastily looked away. It was too dark to see faces clearly but Jim was sure Spock’s cheeks had turned slightly emerald.

Jim chuckled.

“So, it was logical to ride with me, huh? No other reason?”

Spock didn’t say anything, continuing to look away resolutely.

Jim extended his arm, touched Spock’s face and turned his chin gently.

“Spock?”

“Yes?” Spock replied slightly breathlessly.

“If you don’t like riding with me, I can find someone else. I am -”

“You will do no such thing,” Spock looked at Jim with dark eyes suddenly looking alarmed.

Jim shook with silent laughter.

“Why not? I think it’s only logical -”

“Jim!” Spock almost growled.

“Hmmm?” Jim let his thumb brush against Spock’s cheek while he smiled at his Vulcan.

“You...do not…,” Spock’s breath hitched when Jim’s thumb traced his lower lip, “understand logic.”

“Oh? Don’t I? Teach me then, Mr. Spock.”

 

Spock almost unconsciously tilted his cheek into Jim’s palm, his breath starting to speed up.

 

Whether Spock was going to teach Jim or not was left unanswered as a loud voice boomed over the gardens announcing the start of the show.

 

Jim dropped his hand from Spock’s face and turned over on his stomach. But he pulled Spock’s hand and intertwined their fingers. Spock didn’t pull back. The light and musical show was enchanting. But it was his company which made the entire experience the most romantic and tender he had ever experienced. It had been a long day - had started most unexpectedly and it ended under Jim’s favorite stars, holding hands with someone who was absolutely perfect and all Jim could do was try to etch every moment of it in his memory so he would never forget it all as long as he lived.





Chapter Text

 


 

On the ride way back to Dr. McCoy’s house, Spock mulled over his missteps. The mistakes he had made so far. Now that he knew that he had a t’hy’la bond with Jim, it was becoming increasingly obvious to him, how little choice Jim had in the whole process.

 

As a human, Jim had no prior knowledge of how the bond forms. Touching one’s bondmate was all it took. The touch invoked the centuries-old bond which is what a t’hy’la bond was. Even among Vulcans, it was an often forgotten concept, so rare was a t’hy’la bond.

 

Jim’s warm breath caressed Spock’s jaw. His human had fallen asleep on his shoulders, the bond thrumming with lazy static. Spock’s heart swelled with affection. Jim lived with such boundless energy, exerting himself to his full capacity every moment. Spock had failed to understand earlier just how deeply Jim felt everything. During his observations, he had concluded as anyone observing Jim would, that he was an energetic individual. But that is all one would see of Jim because that is all Jim revealed to the world.

It was only after having spent an entire day alongside Jim with direct access to his thoughts and emotions, that Spock realized Jim hid within him a vast amount of himself.

 

That night when Jim had stood on the Golden Gate bridge weeping, the other night when Jim had gotten drunk and had engaged in unattached sex, the moment when they were building the Gingerbread House and Jim’s pain hit Spock through the bond like a cannonball - all these separate instances were part of a bigger narrative which Spock was finally starting to put together.

 

Then there was Jim’s exuberance. He was like a flightless bird who could not be contained in a cage. Spock had noticed how Jim had reacted to the female at the shopping establishment. He had noted how Jim’s arousal levels had increased sharply in her presence. How Jim’s eyes had twinkled when they had passed an aesthetically pleasant-looking young man inside the botanical gardens. When Spock had observed Jim the first time during the mind-meld on that fateful night engaged in coitus with two alien females, he had erroneously concluded about his character. Spock had made the error of applying Vulcan principles to a human. Vulcan mated for life with a single individual. But Spock couldn’t - shouldn’t - expect the same of Jim. A t’hy’la bond extended over lifetimes. Such a bond would be an imposition on someone like Jim. His human had not chosen it. His human was not built to be tied this way. Spock could not cage Jim.

 

Jim sighed and shifted on his shoulder. The soft sound of his sigh caused Spock’s heartbeat to increase. Jim’s warm body pressed against Spock’s side. Amanda and Sarek, whether out of courtesy or modesty he did not know which, kept their attention focused outside the hovercar. Hence, Spock did not try to modulate his heart rate back to normal this time. Plus, Jim was asleep and he wouldn’t know Spock’s pathetic loss of control.

 

But...:Spock could not allow himself to get swept in the tides of desire which Jim elicited in him.

 

He bent his head towards Jim’s body and inhaled deeply - Jim’s hair smelled of Terran cleansing products combined with Jim’s own perspiration and musk. It was intoxicating. It made Spock’s blood heat up. He looked away.

 

He fought with his concentration till he brought it back to the matter at hand. He had only a few hours while Jim was asleep to think. Spock had deliberately not allowed himself to dwell on the thoughts all day. Because Jim would have sensed his pain over the bond. He did not want Jim to know of the conflict plaguing him.

 

Spock admitted to himself it wasn’t just a matter of cultural difference regarding human marriage bond and the t’hy’la bond. It was also selfishness on Spock’s part. He had become so attached to Jim that he had wanted his human just for himself. He had not even paused to consider if Jim actually wanted him. A half-breed. Neither Vulcan nor human. Why would someone like Jim, who had innumerable choices available to him, choose Spock? The statistics were against Spock.

 

So consumed was he with his own need, that he had forgotten the central tenet of his ideology. Infinite diversity in infinite combinations. Jim was who he was. No, Spock did not understand Jim’s choices but how immature and selfish of him to have earlier passed judgment on Jim’s character. How could he justify his devotion to IDIC if he couldn’t even accept his own bondmate? Spock took a deep breath.

 

It was clear to him what had to be done. The t’hy’la bond had been thrust upon Jim, a human whose very essence was the free spirit Spock had witnessed on the bike ride. He had to let go of Jim. But they had already formed the bond. Spock could see no way out. How could he rectify his grave errors?

 

Spock bowed his head, his clasped palms turning his knuckles white, his arms trembling with the weight of his guilt. He had acted such shamefully, such arrogantly - could he ever be forgiven? Probably not. He did not deserve redemption. And what had Jim done? Jim had saved his life! In return, Spock had enslaved him.

 

The hovercar envoy reached the mansion. Spock hastily swept his thoughts away before gently waking up Jim. Sleepy eyes of the most beautiful blue hue looked back at him. Jim smiled at Spock with lax muscles which made his lips bend in a manner which caused Spock’s insides to perform strange acrobatics.

 

“Hey”, Jim’s voice was different too. Deep. Rough. Rubbing against Spock’s defenses. Spock tried to tell himself it was simply the effect of sleep. There was no logic in his reactions.

 

Spock cleared his throat and replied, “Hello. We have reached our destination. I regret interrupting your rest but I reckoned carrying you out in my arms may be objectionable to you.”

Jim’s smile broadened till Spock was blinded by the luminosity of it. The skin around his blue eyes crinkled and Jim shook his head.

“Oh, Spock!”

 

Amanda and Sarek had already deserted the hovercar. Spock could see others doing the same. They would soon come looking for Jim and Spock. He turned towards Jim, who was still leaning on Spock, to warn him that their continued presence inside the hovercar would raise suspicions.

He opened his mouth but the words got swallowed into a moist, soft cavity. Before Spock had time to react, Jim’s lips were on him, kissing him deeply, deeper than ever before. A human tongue moved in supple strokes, licking against his mouth, pressing against the opening of his mouth, seeking entrance into him. Jim made a small noise of pleasure. Spock’s entire world shifted. Heat exploded in his limbs, in his groin, in his breath, in his vision. He was drowning in flames of untamed desire.

 

“Jimmy uncle!” a high pitched voice entered Spock’s ears. It took a few moments before Spock’s brain processed the origin of that sound. In those few moments, Jim’s right hand had somehow found a way under Spock’s sweater, a fingernail trailing a path of fire on his lower abdomen. Spock hissed at the direct contact with his skin.

 

Panting heavily, he grasped Jim firmly at the shoulders and in one swift movement dislodged his human. Spock’s body reacted to the space between them in a most undignified manner. He almost moaned at the loss of contact. Almost. But his Vulcan control finally paid off. He opened the door next to him and exited the vehicle before the child could stumble upon them and her innocence shattered.

 

He joined the waiting family, avoiding his father’s eyes or anyone’s eyes for that matter. He did not look back to see if Jim was following. He was having enough trouble as it is maintaining his composure.

 

He would berate himself later for the way he had forgotten about his resolve. The surprise move by Jim had thrown him off. He could not allow it again. Especially when they were alone. Just the two of them. It would push Spock into the inferno of his own overpowering lust and he could not afford to let that happen. He could not consummate the bond else Jim would be forever trapped. His duty was to pleasure Jim, just as he had done on the bus, not the opposite.

 

Hands clasped behind, his posture erect, he walked in measured steps, focusing on the back of his father ahead of him. A true Vulcan. His father had never displayed such compromised behavior. Never.  Amanda was a human mate to Sarek but she was not Jim. Her mother had herself admitted to him during their chess matches that she was more in tune with the Vulcan lifestyle than the human. Spock had grown up seeing her carry herself with grace, restraint, and dignity. Sarek would never understand Spock’s dilemma.

 

They had not spoken since Sarek’s arrival. The festivities had taken up all the time. Spock was grateful for the diversion. Facing Sarek was a daunting prospect. The last time they had a real conversation was when he left the Vulcan Science Academy.

 


 

 

It hurt. Jim didn’t show it but it hurt. The way Spock just threw him aside and left. The bond was a pain in the ass. He didn’t want Spock to sense anything. Jim had his pride. If Spock wasn’t interested in him, you know what? That was fine! Just perfectly fine.

 

Maybe Vulcans found humans annoying. Maybe Vulcans had no need for touching. Clearly, Spock did not. All day Jim had tried to flirt, to drop hints, to give Spock space but Spock was like a block of ice. The memories of two nights ago came back to Jim. The way Spock had reacted. Cold. Unmoved. Inhuman.

 

Jim’s muscles tensed up.

 

He hurried up to the retreating group. Bones sidled next to him, Joanna skipping alongside. Good! He needed his mind to stop thinking about “stuff”. He didn’t want anything spilling over the bond.

“Aren’t you tired buddy?” he asked Joanna. “I fell asleep,” he smiled at her.

“Papa says that happens to old people,” she nodded reassuringly.

“Old people?!” Jim choked. “Who are you calling old?”

“Cool your jets, Jim,” Bones drawled and then yawned.

“Now, see that Joanna? He is the one who is old. Poor guy.” Jim pursed his lips and made a face at Bones.

 

They were inside the house. Ellie was trying to be at many places simultaneously, running around like crazy. Jim chanced a glance around, not wanting to be obvious, but still unable to control himself. Spock was standing with his parents - the three of them rigid and looking out of place. Before Spock could spot Jim’s wandering gaze, he turned back to Joanna. His eyes met Bones who had a knowing look. Ugh! The smug piece of ass.

 

David approached them with a hypo in hand. Uh Oh.

“Jim, I am going to administer some drugs to make sure you sleep well tonight. It is important for your brain to heal after the shock it has endured in the morning.”

“That’s right, Jim. If you had any other plans, forget it,” Bones chipped in casually.

 

Jim’s cheeks burned. Of course, he had been thinking about it. Him and Spock in same room. Their first night. But then there was Bones. They were sharing the room. He may have been hatching some plans how to get Bones out of the way. Well, that was all before Spock had crushed his feelings so ruthlessly.

He looked at Bones. His friend was such a traitor, embarrassing him in front of David!

 

The senior McCoy had the grace to pretend he hadn’t heard anything, but Jim spotted a smile leaking from the corner of the older man’s mouth while he plunged the hypo in Jim’s forearm.

 

“You are just jealous,” Jim grumbled to Bones. “You are oooooold .” He looked at Joanna for support but she was too interested in his forearm where a small bruise was blooming at the hypo’s insertion site. Jim groaned internally. His skin was always reacting to things as if he was a delicate flower.

 

“I will administer similar drugs to Spock as well,” David informed him. Then, his brows furrowed. “Lenny, is this normal? Is he allergic to ...?”

“He is fine,” Bones waved a hand. “It will go away in a few minutes. Jim is a precious little baby, his skin can’t handle anything more than a -”

 

Jim punched Bones’ shoulders. Hard. He hoped it stung. Bones rubbed his shoulders dramatically but at least stopped speaking.

 

“Can I try?” Joanna was asking David.

“Maybe tomorrow,” her grandpa replied, patting her head. Then he left them, moving towards Spock’s gang.

“Try what?” Jim asked Joanna.

Ellie swooped in from nowhere. “You haven’t changed yet?! Lenny, she hasn’t changed...what are you doing? C’mon go, get her ready for bed, it’s so late…” she drifted off without waiting for Bones to acknowledge.

“C’mon kiddo, let’s get you ready,” Bones scooped her up and started carrying her in his arms.

“Try what?” Jim asked again.

Joanna spread her arms over Bones’ shoulder and made a stabbing movement  with one hand over the forearm of another.

“Hypo me?” Jim asked, eyebrows raised.

“She loves it,” Bones answered climbing the stairs.

“Oh boy! You guys are teaching her all the wrong things.” Jim followed them up the stairs not waiting for Spock. Why should he?

Jim and Bones continued their back and forth as Joanna brushed, changed into her nightgown ( she made Jim wait outside her bedroom for that part), got her hair combed and braided by Bones while she drank a glass of almond milk. Her little body finally gave into the day’s adventures and she was fast asleep within minutes of hitting the bed. Jim kept up his snarky comments during the entire time but his eyes didn’t miss the tenderness with which Bones tended to his daughter. He would have never guessed in a million years his Academy roommate was capable of such softness. He was truly glad he had come along with Bones for the vacation because it showed him a side of his best friend which tugged at Jim’s heartstrings.

 

His pride was offended when Bones did almost the same thing to Jim. He hustled Jim along forcing him to brush his own damn teeth and change into PJs. Jim rolled his eyes. He was a grown up! Thank goodness Bones didn’t mother-hen him back at the Academy.

 

“What? Are you going to comb my hair too now?”

Bones pushed him towards their shared bedroom on the third floor. “I have my limits.”

“I am relieved to know. Jeez, Bones you are old you know...you act like a grandpa.”

“Uh hmmm,” Bones literally pushed Jim into his bed. “Listen, Jim, don’t be a smart ass. You need to sleep, okay? Your body went through a lot today.”

“Well, it’s not like I am going anywhere,” Jim couldn’t stop his voice turning petulant. Spock hadn’t shown up yet. He wasn’t even going to say goodnight to Jim. Whatever!

“Good.” Bones dimmed the lights and left the room before Jim could reply. His roommate obviously knew Jim’s tactic of using talking to keep himself awake.

 

Left alone in the room, next to two empty beds, he pulled the blankets up to his chin. The drugs must have had some sedative in them he guessed as his eyes drooped shut with unnatural heaviness. His last conscious thoughts were of Bones combing Joanna’s hair which blurred into Frank beating him as a little boy, the lonely nights of his childhood as he cried himself to sleep, no one to tuck him into bed, no one to kiss him goodnight, realizing he was such a bad boy that his own mother had left him.