Chapter 1: Admiral Kirk's Visit
The young lieutenant, Giverson, arrived breathing hard and flushed red and immediately apologized the moment he reached Spock’s table. “I’m so sorry, Ambassador Spock. I didn’t mean to keep you waiting.”
Spock gestured to the seat across from him. “Please be seated.”
Giverson fumbled himself into a chair. “It’s just that I got caught up in the crowds in the street.” He leaned forward with no little eagerness. “Admiral Kirk is here, so you can imagine everyone wanting to see him.”
Giverson leaned back then, looking at Spock rather curiously. “You used to serve with him, didn’t you?”
“I was his first officer on board the Enterprise for a number of years.”
“Wow, to serve as the first officer of Kirk. Well. He’s a legend.”
“I guess you are too, sir.”
Spock waved this away and reached for the messenger bag Giverson had brought with him to deliver to Spock.
“You served with him…before, right?” Giverson had lowered his voice. “Before the memory loss?”
Spock tried not to flinch but it was a near thing. “Yes, Lieutenant.”
“So you knew him when he saved Earth all those times before.” Giverson shook his head. “That’s amazing.”
Admiral James Kirk, a captain at the time, had been abducted by an alien race that had violently tortured him for months. He had been declared dead by Starfleet. When he was finally rescued, he had lost a third of his body weight and had suffered permanent brain damage that had resulted in significant memory loss. He remembered none of his life before his rescue and had to be retrained in most things. The memory loss was irreversible and to the crew of the Enterprise, devastating to know their beloved captain remembered none of them. He had not even remembered his mother.
He’d been shown a lot of his life through video captures, recordings and documentation, but it was not the same. Admiral Kirk had gone on to command the Enterprise once more and had earned legendary status all over again.
But the loss for some of them was permanent.
Spock among them.
“Will you see the admiral while he’s here, Ambassador?”
“Yes,” Spock replied.
“I envy you, sir,” Giverson said. “He’s my hero.”
Hours later, Spock waited at a quiet vegetarian restaurant that he had chosen himself for their dinner. Jim was ten minutes late, but he did arrive, and sat across Spock with a readymade smile.
“Spock, hey, how are you?” His blue eyes sparkled, and there were crinkles by those eyes, and gray in his sandy colored hair, and perhaps he’d put on some weight, but to Spock he looked stunning.
“I am well, Jim.”
“It’s good to see you.” Jim smiled at the waitress who stopped at their table. “A glass of merlot, please.”
It was, of course, good to see Jim, as well. He rarely saw his former…captain anymore. His former captain. So much more. That life was no more. And Jim did not remember any of it.
Spock, however, did. And he yearned for it.
“I can’t believe all the fuss they’re making,” Jim was saying. “And anyway, I think I’m staying this time.”
“You intend to stay in San Francisco?” Spock asked, surprised.
“I’m not getting any younger. And it’s getting a little harder to pretend otherwise,” Jim said with an engaging grin. “Time I left the planet rescuing to the younger guys. What about you, Spock?”
“Are you staying here for a while or back to New Vulcan or elsewhere?”
“I shall be here for a little while.”
Jim’s smile widened. “Yeah? I’d love to catch up.”
Of course, Spock could never entirely catch Jim up on everything. Jim had been told they’d had a relationship, yes, but one that Jim had not recalled and therefore it was as though he had never participated in it. He did not remember falling in love with Spock or even meeting him that first time. And he did not remember Spock falling in love with him.
Jim’s smile faltered a little. “Are you okay?”
“Of course, Jim.”
Jim nodded. “Yeah? Cause I’d really like to talk further. Not here. There are so many nosey people around. Maybe after dinner? Could I come to your apartment?”
“That would be agreeable,” Spock replied, trying to keep his voice even. He felt eager and yet he did not know for what. Jim was his ex now. They had never been able to rekindle what was between them. And yet, for Spock, it had never died.
Spock would never forget the first time between them. It was right after their new ship had been finished on Yorktown and they’d continued onto finish their mission. While still on Yorktown, he and Nyota had made the final decision to remain friends only.
Spock had been somewhat injured on a mission and after being released from the medbay to his quarters, there had been someone at his door.
It was Jim.
“Spock! Are you all right? I can’t believe you got hurt again,” Jim had babbled. “You have to stop doing that. I can’t—”
“Jim, I am all right.”
Jim searched Spock’s gaze, looking very unhappy and his eyes looked almost wet. “Are you sure? Because if Bones released you too early, I’ll…” He took two steps closer to Spock until he was standing right in front of him, in fact so close Spock could feel his heat and his…desperation.
When Jim suddenly kissed him, Spock was not surprised. He had been about to kiss Jim.
They’d spent hours that first night getting to know each other intimately in every way and thereafter they’d spent every night together for the next year until Spock asked Jim to bond with him.
They’d gone to New Vulcan and formally bonded, with Starfleet’s permission, and then had gone through a human marriage ceremony as well.
It was the most content Spock had ever been.
Until Jim was abducted and presumed dead.
His world had changed in every way.
Before Spock knew that Jim had survived, his father had talked Spock into getting their bond formally dissolved because his time was coming and he would need to be bonded to someone else in order to make it through Pon Farr. He’d then been bonded to a Vulcan woman for the duration of his time.
It was after that, that Jim had been discovered by another passing ship alive and imprisoned with his irreversible brain damage.
Spock blamed himself. Leonard blamed himself. There weren’t a lot of crew members that didn’t blame themselves. And in the end, though they had their captain back, and his name was still James T. Kirk, he had very little in common with their beloved captain. At times Jim had stared right through them. He knew nothing of his friendship with the doctor, nothing of his love with Spock. He didn’t remember his childhood, or Tarsus, or anything, really.
He recalled being a prisoner and being tortured and that his name was James T. Kirk. Everything else he’d had to relearn.
Though Spock had informed him of their relationship, he had not told him they were married and bonded. It seemed pointless as all that was over now. Jim viewed him as a stranger.
Now Jim was asking to see him privately after their dinner. They had barely spoken or seen each other for the last few years and Spock did not know what to expect.
“You’re really deep in thought,” Jim said as he twirled his glass of merlot in his hand. “Are you sure you’re all right?”
“Of course, Jim.”
“And how’s your daughter, T’Mara? Have you seen her lately?”
“She is well and quite engaged in her studies,” Spock replied. “I saw her a month ago when I was able to be on New Vulcan for a time period.”
Jim shook his head. “I still can’t believe all that happened with Vulcan and Nero. And to think I was a part of that and can’t remember any of it.” He sighed. Grimaced.
“Do not strain yourself to recall something that cannot be recalled.”
“Yeah. It’s just, people stop me and ask me about all that and other stuff too and I just…” He stopped, licked his lips. “It’s frustrating not to know what they’re talking about. And I’m sure it is for them too.”
Spock certainly was well aware of that but he did not say so.
Still Jim gazed upon him in silence for a moment. “Sorry,” he murmured. “Sometimes I can be obtuse.”
“Yes.” He looked away. “I wish I could remember us the way you do.”
“That just seems like something to say when you don’t like something but can’t do anything about it.”
“Yes,” Spock agreed.
Jim pinched the bridge of his nose. “Some things I guess maybe I’m better off not remembering, I don’t know. My mother says so. She’s been working with me, helping me to get back some of it. At least to know what it is I’m not remembering.”
“And how is that going?”
“Good, I think. At least I’m getting a better picture of my life before I became aware again. But there are things she can’t really help with.” He bit his lip. “That’s, there’s some things, I want to talk to you about, if you’re willing.”
“I will assist you in any way I am able, Jim. Always.”
He smiled. “Great. Great. How’s your food?””
“It is good.”
“Mine too.” His gaze became distant again, as though he was focused on something else, somewhere else, and so Spock spent the remainder of dinner watching him. Even that was a comfort to him.
Spock opened his apartment door. Once it had been intended to be their apartment in San Francisco. When they’d both slowed down and spent most of their time there. Spock perhaps teaching again, Jim as admiral giving other captains orders.
It had been chosen with all that in mind. They’d contacted a broker from the ship and had the place picked out and even decorated for their future.
One that Spock never got to have.
It was only his apartment now and Jim only recognized it as such from the few times he’d been there. Very few.
Jim smiled as he stopped by the sliding doors that led out to a patio and garden. Spock remembered them looking at holopics together in their shared quarters.
“Oh, look. Look. I’d love to grow a garden,” Jim declared as he pointed out the space.
“You?” Spock asked doubtfully. “What do you know about gardening, adun?”
“Well.” Jim grinned. “Nothing. But I can learn. We’ll learn together.”
Spock was haunted by such conversations.
Now Jim merely smiled vaguely as he looked out at the patio, the still unused garden space.
“Oh,” Jim said into the awkward silence. “I saw Bones a week or so ago. He said to say hello if I saw you.”
“That is kind.”
When they had first got Jim back, he did not know about calling McCoy ‘Bones’ and therefore for a long time he would not do so. It was an odd nickname to him without context. It was always Leonard or McCoy even and Spock had watched the doctor’s spirts sag lower and lower.
The day Jim had finally called him Bones, the doctor had cried. Not in front of Jim, but later when he’d gone for a drink with Spock, Nyota and Scott.
“I really like this place, by the way,” Jim said, seemingly unaware of all the emotional turmoil he had caused. “You did a great job with decorating it.”
“Would you care for tea or coffee perhaps? I do have a small coffee maker available should you wish to forgo replicated.”
“I wouldn’t want to make you go to any trouble.”
“It is no trouble.” Spock went into his kitchen and the light automatically came on. Jim followed him into it.
“This looks like a cook’s kitchen.”
Indeed it had been chosen for that also since they’d both liked to cook when it was available.
“Do you cook a lot, Spock?” Jim shrugged. “Doesn’t seem like something you’d like to do.”
“I do not cook much these days,” Spock admitted. “In the past I…” He shook his head. “I do not spend much time here with my travels as an ambassador.”
In that he had not intended to follow in the footsteps of his counterpart so long ago. He’d wanted to return to teaching, not to diplomacy. But so much was different than what he’d wanted.
“I guess you don’t see your wife much. On New Vulcan when you saw your daughter?”
Spock stiffened. “It is not necessary for us to endure each other’s company under normal circumstances.”
Jim frowned a little as he watched Spock fuss with the coffee maker. “That’s a weird relationship.”
“Because it is not one. She was specifically chosen because she did not desire a committed bond with me. We have both given serious consideration to dissolving it altogether.”
“But that could affect you when your time comes again.”
Spock would not look at him. “Please. I do not wish to discuss such intimacies.”
“I understand. It’s just…”
Spock glanced at him. “What?”
“Well, what about Uhura?”
“What about her?”
“You two used to be together.” Jim crossed his arms in front of his chest. It was very defensive. “Before, you and me, right?”
“As Humans would say, Admiral, that ship has sailed.”
“Okay.” Jim nodded. “I guess what I’m saying is…”
“What are you saying?”
“When your time comes I don’t want you to die because you don’t have a bondmate.” Jim huffed.
Spock thrust a mug of coffee at Jim. “While I appreciate your concern, it really is not something you need to be worried about.”
“I’m not worried about it, Spock. Well, not really.”
Spock quickly made himself some tea. “Since you indicated you wanted to discuss something I suggest we adjoin to the living room.”
Spock left the kitchen with a pot of tea and a cup for himself which he set upon a side table next to his sofa.
When Jim was seated, Spock said, “What do you want to talk about?”
Chapter 2: Crescent Shaped Holes
It really was a nice place, Jim could not deny, but being there made him a little uncomfortable. There was some significance about this apartment that was just out of reach of Jim’s brain, but he saw it in Spock’s body language and his sad dark eyes.
He tried to hide it. Jim gave Spock credit for that. Jim suspected Spock’s shields were firmly in place. But he wasn’t as good at hiding his emotions as he thought. Not from Jim, anyway. And Jim realized there was likely something there too.
Jim’s gaze drifted to the patio and the unused garden there and back to Spock, who sat stiff and unyielding.
It was hard to imagine himself with a Vulcan, even one who was only half-Vulcan. Spock was uncommonly attractive, there was no denying that, but Jim, from what he’d learned about himself, and how he himself felt, was such an emotional, touchy sort of being. He would never have guessed someone like Spock would have been remotely interested in someone like him.
And yet, Jim had spent many nights wondering what their intimate life had been comprised of. Since returning, or rather being returned, to his former life, such as he could recall, Jim had found such personal intimacy to be impossible. After numerous sessions with professional help, they’d all come to the conclusion that Jim’s time in captivity had been most horrendous, likely the reason Jim avoided sexual intimacy. He liked to be touched though. That much had, apparently, not changed.
Spock looked at him expectantly.
“We were bonded,” Jim said softly.
He had almost expected Spock to deny it or at least act surprised, but he simply nodded.
“Why didn’t you mention that?”
“Our bond was officially severed when you were declared dead so that I could partake of a new bond. It seemed irrelevant under the circumstances.”
Jim pressed the thumb nail of his right hand into his left palm. “Still, clearly our relationship was not at all casual if we went through a bonding ceremony.” He paused. “And a wedding.”
“Your mother?” Spock guessed.
Jim nodded. “Yes. To be fair, she assumed that you would have mentioned it.”
“I never advised our relationship was casual.”
“No.” Jim licked his dry lips. “That’s true. But you didn’t mention it had progressed to such…permanence.”
Spock shook his head. “Not permanent as it turned out. Since we are no longer bonded, as I said, it seemed irrelevant.”
“And our marriage? Did you divorce me?”
“Negative. Since you were presumed dead, it did not seem required,” Spock admitted.
Jim chewed his lip. “That means, technically, we are still married. How come I didn’t know that?”
Jim waved his hand at that. “I know that. But why didn’t anyone tell me? You, Bones, Uhura, Starfleet. ‘Hey, Jim, you have a husband’.”
“If you wish to initiate a divorce in order to pursue a new marriage you are well within your rights to do so.”
“That isn’t what this is about, Spock.”
Spock exhaled quite slowly. “In truth, the marriage ceremony was only a formality and concession for you. Vulcans do not recognize it in the way humans do. Since our bond was severed I considered the matter concluded.”
“Especially considering you bonded with a Vulcan female.”
Spock nodded once.
Jim covered his face with his hands and leaned over.
“Jim, are you unwell?”
“No.” He lowered his hands and straightened. His hand throbbed where he had been stabbing it with his nail. “This is just a lot to take in, Spock.”
“I am aware.”
“What do we do now?”
“There is nothing you need do at all, Admiral.”
Jim rose from the couch and went to stand at the patio door, looking outside. “So, you have no emotional attachment to me now?”
Spock did not respond and Jim was hardly surprised. He shook his head.
“Do you really intend to dissolve your bond with T’Mara’s mother?”
“She has expressed a desire to do so. She wishes to choose another mate. And we are not especially compatible.”
Jim leaned against the glass door and closed his eyes. “Who are you compatible with, Spock?”
“My intent is to remain un-bonded once this bond has been dissolved,” Spock said quietly.
Jim opened his eyes and turned back to face Spock. “And when you go through Pon Farr again? What then?”
“There are surrogates for those sorts of times.” Spock spoke stiffly, almost pained.
He took a step forward. “You could do it with me.”
“No,” Spock said quickly. Too quickly.
Jim frowned. “Why the hell not? You chose me once!”
Spock got up from the couch himself and began to pace. “Because we are not together anymore. And I will not hurt you.”
“That’s my choice.”
“No. It is mine. I am aware that you were…poorly treated in captivity. I refuse to use you in the manner required for Pon Farr. I would rather die then—”
Spock stopped pacing. “Nevertheless, it is the way it is. The simple truth is you are no longer capable of fulfilling the requirements needed for a mate. Besides my time, I also require mental stability.”
Jim sucked in a breath. “I see.”
“I very much doubt that you do,” Spock replied softly. “And if I could change the outcome, I would surely do so.”
Jim felt the prick of something in his mind and behind his eyes, but he ruthlessly pushed that away as he had decided he would never show weakness again.
“Then, why won’t you find someone else to bond with?” he asked.
Spock shook his head.
Jim walked over to where Spock stood and grabbed his arms right below his biceps. “Talk to me here. What’s going on with you?”
“That would be unwise.”
“Spock.” Jim gritted his teeth. “Just tell me. Just…we were close once, right? Very close. Mom said…”
“It was like we breathed for each other.” Jim sighed, shook his own head.
Spock’s lips thinned and he looked away, over Jim’s head, toward, nothing, Jim guessed. Just anywhere but at Jim.
“There is no one else for me,” Spock whispered. “You were all I ever wanted.”
But Spock pulled out of Jim’s grasp and put as much physical distance as there seemed to be emotional distance between them.
“I find that I am tired and in need of meditation,” Spock told him, back to Jim.
“Are you telling me to leave, Spock?”
Spock hesitated, obviously torn between the truth and not wishing to be rude.
“Fine, I’ll go. My hotel suite isn’t far from here. Can probably walk it.”
“I can get you transportation,” Spock offered.
“No. I may be ‘mentally unstable’ but I think I can manage that.”
“Never mind. It was a cheap shot. Meet me for breakfast at the hotel restaurant.”
“Breakfast, Spock. The Hotel Marimont. Nine. I don’t want to have to get up too early.”
He waited for Spock’s nod of agreement and then he opened the door of the apartment and walked out, closing the door behind him.
For a long time, probably longer than necessary, he stood in the hallway, looking at the number on the door. Even ran his fingertips across the raised area.
Then he pulled his hand back and looked at the injuries he’d inflicted on the palm of his hand. Several crescent shaped wounds, lightly smeared with blood.
“A coping mechanism during stress.”
Or so his last doctor had advised.
Jim wished he could cope through less violent means. Fortunately, back at his hotel he had a regenerator. With a heavy sigh, he finally turned and made his way to the stairs that would take him out of the apartment building and to the street below.
Chapter 3: Memory Comes When Memory's Old I Am Never the First to Know
As soon Jim stepped outside on his way to his hotel, he pulled his coat tight around him. It was a cold night. Or it felt cold to him. He didn’t know if that was because he was getting older or if it would have felt cold to him in his twenties.
He’d seen numerous old pictures of himself. Or perhaps young pictures would be the more accurate description. He hadn’t particularly looked cold in any of them.
“How does one look cold?” he murmured to himself.
The hotel really was close. Only about five blocks down and a straight shot at that. But he found himself wishing he’d gotten the transportation after all. Walking left him with far too much time to think. And thinking wasn’t always wise. Too much missing information.
As he neared the hotel, a guy who looked vaguely like he might be part Human and part Tellarite and just a tad threatening took a step toward him.
“Don’t even think about it,” Jim said, showing the guy the phaser tucked into his coat.
The man backed away and Jim kept on walking.
He was not surprised to find a message waiting for him. After all, she’d known of his plans to see Spock.
Jim sat down before the terminal on the hotel desk and brought her up.
Christine Chapel smiled her soft smile at him as she leaned forward. She wore a pristine white doctor’s uniform.
Jim shrugged out of his coat and left it on the back of the chair. “Am I interrupting anything?”
She shook her head. “You’re my last scheduled patient for the night.”
“I’m not keeping you from anything personal, am I? We can talk tomorrow.”
“Don’t worry. I anticipated tonight.” Her chair squeaked as she leaned back in it. “How’d it go?”
Jim sighed. “Not well. It’s…frustrating.”
“You can’t make yourself remember by pushing it, Jim. Those memories are just not there,” she reminded him gently. “All the concentration in the world isn’t going to bring them back.”
“Everyone expects otherwise.”
“Everyone or you? I don’t think Spock expects that.”
“He might not expect it, but he…wants it.” Jim closed his eyes briefly. Then opened them to look at her. “I sense such sorrow in him.”
“That’s understandable, isn’t it? You were his mate, his husband. Jim, you don’t remember, but Spock does.”
“I know and it’s so unfair.”
“It’s the reality of your situation, fair or unfair. You can’t change the way Spock feels, you are not responsible for him. You are only responsible for you.”
“And I don’t even know who I am. Not really.”
“You know who you are. You don’t know who you used to be.”
“I can’t be the Jim they all want me to be, Christine. I don’t know that guy.” He looked away from the screen. “I look at the old pictures and videos of me and it’s like, I’m just watching a stranger. Someone who looks like me but isn’t me at all. Like my twin or something.” He glanced back at her. “Maybe Mom shouldn’t have told me Spock and I were bonded and married.”
“Has it made you feel worse then?”
“Let go of that guilt, Jim. None of this was your doing.”
“It’s not so easy to convince myself of that.”
“Let me see your hands.”
Her sudden command startled him into showing her his hands, palms out, before he thought better of it. He winced when he saw her frown. He realized he should have used the dermal regenerator before contacting her.
“You have to find a more positive means of dealing when you feel stressed, Jim.”
He almost said, ‘I know’ in an effort to convince her to move on from the subject, but when she’d agree to be his shrink, Jim had agreed to be as honest as he could be. So after heaving a sigh, he said, “Mom said when I came back from Tarsus IV I used to cut myself.”
Christine’s eyes softened and then crinkled. “That’s not altogether surprising under those circumstances. You’ve lived through more bad experiences in your relatively short years than many experience over decades of life.”
“And yet I do not recall any of them.”
“Perhaps for the best, yes?”
He smiled slightly. “Do you think so? Really?”
She hesitated and then said, “Our experiences shape us into the people we eventually become.”
“And I got a clean slate after I was tortured.”
“I…I remember some of that, but not all.” And he did too. Vague memories of painful devices attached this his head. Poking and prodding. Images of creatures looming over him. Shadows.
“Honestly, I wish you didn’t remember any of that, Jim. You need to find a more positive way to deal with your stress,” she said again. “How are your attempts at meditation?”
“A joke,” he admitted. “I can’t sit still through it. And anyway, I can’t meditate right through difficult conversations. And I’ve tried the breathing and counting exercises.” He stared down at his wounded palms. At least I’m not cutting, he thought.
In the shower, right after his mother had shared that information, Jim had found just very faint traces of scars on his forearms.
“Meditation isn’t instinctual, it’s learned. Have you given more thought to the courses I suggested?” Then she sighed, likely guessing his answer before he’d even spoken. “I don’t like this tendency to seek out self-harm, Jim. It’s concerning.”
“This is just…minor things.”
“At this point, yes, but what if it becomes more? You’re internalizing everything.” Christine leaned forward again. “Old habits and behaviors that seemed to have survived into this new version of you.”
“I’m not suicidal,” he said sharply.
“If I thought you were I’d have you at the hospital right now,” she advised. “I don’t think that. The meditating and the breathing and all those methods you’ve been learning are to help ease the stress when you are dealing with it.”
“He said I’m mentally unstable.”
He sighed and ran his hand over his face. “Re-bonding I guess.”
“A poor choice of words for Humans, I think. But Vulcans look at facts. Your brain was damaged. Obviously you are fully functional, Jim. And an incredible person as you are now. But the damaged part of your brain might make Vulcan bonds more challenging for both Spock and you.”
“Yeah.” He looked away.
“Is that something you want?” she asked softly.
He glanced at her. “I don’t know. I worry about the-the Pon Farr thing. His bond with T’Mara’s mother is likely to be severed.”
“It’s my understanding from M’Benga that these days there are surrogates for those times. With the population still nowhere close to recovered, there’s little choice. And as I understand it, it’s working for them.”
“He mentioned the surrogates.” He studied her expression and there was kindness but also concern. “You’re worried about my ability to handle it. What…the bond? Or the Pon Farr?”
“Both, honestly. There’s no precedence for your circumstances. No Vulcan has ever been bonded to someone with your health issues,” she said delicately. “And given your issues with physical intimacy…”
“Well.” Jim swallowed heavily and shook his head. “We probably don’t have to worry about that. I don’t think he’s interested given what he said about my unsuitability.”
“And what are your emotions when you think of Spock now, Jim?”
“I care about him. A lot. It just doesn’t seem to be enough for either of us.” He yawned then and she smiled.
“You’re tired. And I think we’re done here for now anyway. Get some rest.”
“Yeah, I’m meeting Spock for breakfast.”
She nodded. “We’ll talk soon, Jim. And don’t push yourself, okay? Heal your hands.”
“I will. Kirk out.”
He rose from behind the desk and went to pick up the regenerator off the hotel dresser. If he really was going to stay in San Francisco, he was going to need a more permanent place to stay. Once he got everything figured out with Starfleet, he’d look for something.
Jim opened the top dresser drawer and set the regenerator back inside it. He picked up the picture his mother had given him the last time he’d seen her.
It was of him and Spock, at their wedding she’d said. Spock and Jim were both dressed in Vulcan robes that contained elaborate embroidery. Jim’s face was turned as he kissed Spock’s cheek. They looked…happy.
And yet, Spock had admitted the Human wedding hadn’t meant anything to him.
Jim felt like he was looking at strangers. He was filled with sadness he could not explain, so he pushed the picture back under some clothes and closed the drawer.
He went to the windows and looked out on the city, feeling dark and empty.
Chapter 4: I Remember the Time I Knew What Happiness Was
Spock was delaying leaving to meet Jim for breakfast. He’d been up for hours. He never had been able to sleep late. He was just not mentally programmed for that.
He’d drank a pot and a half of tea and yet still sat at the dining room table of the apartment. And now he had contacted Nyota.
It had been a long time since they’d been romantic partners. At times it seemed like that had been an entirely different Spock, though he knew that was not the case. But he as he was now had trouble recalling when he did not love Jim and perhaps that was why his romantic relationship with Nyota had ultimately failed.
He’d asked her to go with him to breakfast, knowing that likely wouldn’t please Jim, and yet he had trouble with the idea of facing Jim by himself.
Her long hesitation had him opening his mouth to take back the suggestion, when she finally spoke.
Nyota sighed. “I’d really rather not.”
“Oh, Spock. I know it’s just awful of me considering what you’ve gone through, what you’re feeling. It’s just…it hurts for him to look at me like I’m just an old neighbor that lived next door to him when he was a kid instead of someone who shared so much of his life, was like family.”
“I understand,” Spock repeated quietly. No one understood more than Spock what it was like to have Jim look at you like you were some college friend he’d known once upon a time instead of your very reason for breathing, for living, for everything.
“Do you hate me?”
“Of course not, Nyota. And I should not have asked you along.”
“I know I should go with you.” She sighed again. “Has anything changed since the last time you saw him?”
“Negative,” Spock replied. “If anything the distance in his gaze has increased.”
“I’m sorry. Could you cancel?”
“No,” Spock said softly.
“Are you sure? Because every time you see him, it seems to hurt you more. And I know it’s not often, but—”
“He is still my t’hy’la, Nyota. Even if he does not recall it or want it. I cannot deny him anything.”
And Spock realized if he did not leave at that precise moment he would be late. Something entirely unacceptable to the old Jim. And to Spock as well.
“I must go. We will talk later.” He disconnected without allow Nyota to reply as he rose from his chair and headed out the door to meet Jim at his hotel.
Spock walked up to the hostess for the Hotel Marimont at a full three minutes past nine.
The hostess, who looked to be half-Andorian, nodded. “Yes, he’s in there. Table by the window.”
Spock started to move.
“He’s been waiting for fifteen minutes,” she called after him.
Jim faced him but his gaze was out the window at the street outside the hotel upon Spock’s approach. It had been a long time since Spock felt embarrassed but he felt it now.
“I apologize for my tardiness.”
The blue eyes switched to Spock’s face, and for a moment he could make himself belief he saw his beloved, treasured mate there, but the moment passed and blankness returned to Jim’s eyes, almost frightening in their starkness.
“Have a seat,” Jim said, his tone neutral. Spock had once see Captain Kirk berate an ensign for ten minutes for lateness. It was an odd quirk they had shared, their detestation of lateness. “I was beginning to think I’d been stood up.”
“Never. I was communicating with Nyota and lost track of time.” Spock sat across from Jim.
“Is she doing all right?”
“Yes. I invited her to join us but she was unable to come.”
“Did you?” His smile was enigmatic.
“Have you ordered?”
Jim shook his head. “Just coffee. Which I’ve probably drank way too much of already. I’ve got a meeting later at HQ to discuss my role going forward.”
“Your mind is made up to stay Earthbound then?”
“I think so. Depending on what they say, I don’t know, maybe I’ll retire.”
Spock was unable to hide his surprise. “You are still quite young comparatively speaking.”
“I love how you qualified that.” He turned his dazzling smile to the waitress who approached their table. “I’m sure he’ll want hot tea. But otherwise we haven’t had a chance to look at the menus.”
Spock agreed to the tea and then she moved off. He picked up the menu.
“And you, Spock? What does your future hold?”
“Eventually I will make my way back to New Vulcan. It’s where I intend to make my permanent home eventually when my ambassadorial duties have concluded.”
“What about your apartment here?”
“Once I depart here this time, I intend to let it go.”
Spock nodded. “It is no longer a place I wish to spend any length of time in.”
“Maybe I could buy it from you,” Jim said offhandedly. “If I decide to stay in San Francisco, retirement or not, I’ll need a place.”
It made logical sense, of course, but the idea of Jim living in the apartment that was meant for them, perhaps with someone else someday, made Spock feel nauseous. And yet he felt that he must fully disclose the matter.
“We chose that apartment together,” he said after a moment of contemplation.
Jim showed no change of expression but he lost several shades of color. At that moment, the waitress came by with Spock’s tea. Spock watched Jim force himself to interact with her.
“Um, you know, just a couple of over easy eggs for me and some rye toast.”
Spock closed his menu. “The zucchini pancakes. Thank you.”
Jim sighed. “Fuck. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that, Spock. I’m sorry.”
“You owe no apology.”
“I hate this,” Jim murmured. “You have no idea how much.”
“I have a pretty good idea.”
Jim stared at Spock. “Yeah. I guess you do. Anyway, maybe I won’t even stay in San Francisco. There are other places I can go.”
“Mom lives in Riverside, Iowa. I guess I’m from there?” Suddenly, Jim looked away out the window, biting his lip. His hands were clenched into fists.
“Jim, are you all right?”
He shook his head but didn’t look at Spock. “I think you’re right.”
“About what, Jim?”
“Being unstable. I think maybe I’m crazy.” Finally he looked at Spock again. The same hint of familiarity he’d seen in Jim’s gaze when Spock had first arrived at the restaurant was back again. “I saw Christine Chapel last night.”
“After you left the apartment?”
“At my hotel room. Via video conference. I think the stress is…I don’t know,” Jim said abruptly. “You know what? Forget it. You don’t care about any of this.”
“You made that clear enough last night. You want nothing to do with me, with whatever we were, and I get that. I do. I can’t blame you. You remember things I don’t or can’t or I don’t even know. Sometimes I just want to cry for no reason at all, Spock.”
“Jim, it is all right.”
“No. No it isn’t. I want more than anything to remember everything the way you do. You have no idea how much I want that. I want us to be…us. So much.” His gaze slipped away again, moving across the restaurant, the blankness returning in his eyes. “But it’s gone. And you don’t want that anyway. You want that other Jim. Someone who doesn’t exist anymore. Who’s mentally stable and won’t fuck up your head.”
“I get it. More than you know. You said our bond was severed, right?”
Spock could only nod.
“By whatever was done to me and then, what, in order to bond with T’Mara’s mother, it was officially done.”
“Okay.” Jim moistened his lips. “Okay. I get all that. But why do I still feel—”
“What?” Spock asked sharply.
Jim tapped his temples. “Something here. Faint. I feel, I don’t know, a presence. And I thought maybe it was them, you know. Th-them. But it doesn’t feel…ominous. Just, I don’t know.” He blew out a breath. “Familiar.”
Spock could only stare at Jim, his heart thundering wildly in his side.
“Is it you?”
Chapter 5: That's Me for You
Jim found it hard to hide his disappointment when all Spock did was stare at him. Clearly Spock was trying to come up with an answer that had nothing to do with him. And really, it probably didn’t. Spock had said their bond had been severed both by his brain damage and for Spock to bond with T’Mara. Whatever Jim felt it was more likely to be tied to his captivity, even if it didn’t feel ominous.
He was temporarily spared from further embarrassment when their breakfast arrived. Jim’s attempt at a smile for the waitress failed before it could fully form.
“More coffee, sir?”
“No, thank you, though.”
The last thing he wanted to do was eat, but he couldn’t forget that his mother had told him he’d been on Tarsus IV. He didn’t remember any of it. But he’d read up on his own files. So he dug his fork into the eggs, cut off a bite, and stuck it into his mouth.
He waved his fork at Spock. “You know what? Forget it. It’s my head, my problem. It’s nothing to do with you, right?”
“I am uncertain,” Spock said faintly.
“Which means you feel nothing of me on your end. And since you’re the telepath, I’m guessing if it was still our bond, you’d know about it. So, yeah, my problem, not yours.”
“I do not believe that to be true.”
Jim decided to ignore that. Because if it wasn’t their bond, then it was most definitely not Spock’s problem or issue or whatever. And since Spock seemed to prefer to spend his time in isolation on New Vulcan, there was no point to pursuing anything anyway. And yeah that hurt. A lot.
“How long until you think you’ll leave?” he asked instead.
Spock shook his head. “I do not know, but when I do, I believe you should accompany me.”
“For what purpose?”
“To have a healer examine your mind.”
“Jim, if what you are experiencing is related to our bond, then it is only logical to have a Vulcan healer examine and confirm that.”
“Forget it. There’s no way someone else, some stranger, is going to probe around in my fucking head. Not again. Never again. I’ve had enough of that to last a lifetime, Spock.”
“Jim, a healer’s examination would be nothing like what you went through while you were held captive.”
“How do you know that? How do you fucking know anything about what I went through?”
Spock looked stricken. “Jim, why are you so angry?”
“Because this is all just so fucked up. Because I love you, right now, I love you, but that doesn’t fucking matter because I’m not the same, I’m not who I was before, and you want him, and I can never be him. I can’t even talk about getting an apartment because it’s all wrapped up in the past of a future we didn’t get to have.” Jim rose from his chair and pushed back. “I should have stayed gone.”
But he didn’t let Spock finish, he turned and rushed out of the restaurant and the hotel to the outside. Tears blinded him and he only got to the park across the street from the hotel when Spock stopped him, hand on his arm, turning him around.
“I love you,” Spock said quickly. “You are my heart and soul. As I told you before, you are all I ever wanted, and I would take you in any way I could have you. This I promise you.”
“But my mental instability, you said…well you know what you said.”
“I do. And my words were ill-advised. Jim, ashaya, I am uncertain if we can ever be fully bonded as we once were due to what was done to your brain, but I would willingly spend my life with you even without a bond if that is what you truly want.” Spock grabbed Jim’s hands in his and held them. “My fear has been that you could never re-discover your love for me, but if you are certain, that you do love me, then there is nothing that could part me from your side.”
Jim pulled himself out of Spock’s grasp and took a step back from him, his emotions in turmoil. “I don’t know if-I don’t know if I can ever-intimacy, it’s still—”
He saw when Spock got what he meant. Saw Spock’s look of devastated confusion cleared away. “That does not matter.”
“It does,” Jim said. “Pon Farr—”
Spock sucked in a breath then, glancing around the park in which they stood. “We will not discuss that here. But that is not a consideration.”
“Of course it is.”
“The only thing that matters to me is you,” Spock told him. He stepped closer to Jim and Jim didn’t back away. “There is no real existence without you, Jim. There is life, but no existence. Look into my eyes now. How can you not know?”
Jim bit his lip. “That’s the Jim you remember, but I’m not him. Spock, I can’t remember all that you remember.”
Spock raised shaking hands to Jim’s face. “To me there is only one Jim. You.” His thumb moved up to wipe at a tear Jim hadn’t realized had fallen. “Do not cry. I would do anything to see that you never cry again.”
Jim blinked rapidly, more tears falling unbidden down his cheeks. “I don’t want you to leave me.”
“I will not.”
“You don’t deserve to be burdened with me.”
“We share all burdens, even those of ourselves.”
“Is it you, Spock?” he dared to ask again. “In my head.”
“It must be,” Spock replied. “I can accept no other alternative.”
Jim stepped closer to Spock and even though he knew they were out here in the middle of a park where anyone could see them and it might make Spock horribly uncomfortable, he put his arms around Spock. He leaned his head against Spock’s shoulder and almost wept in relief when Spock’s arms encircled his waist, and then slipped up to his back, holding him very tight.
Jim closed his eyes. His throat hurt, his chest hurt, his head hurt. But Spock was there. And it was okay. “Can we go back to the apartment?”
Spock nodded. “Yes.”
“Did you pay for breakfast?”
Jim laughed but he didn’t let go, not yet. “Sorry.”
“There is no need. Let us go. We can talk more openly there.”
“Can we talk while I sit in your lap?”
Jim pulled back and offered a watery smile. “It feels good to touch you.”
He noticed then that Spock’s eyes looked a little watery then too, which startled him. “Hey. What’s up?”
Spock shook his head. “It is only for the first time in a long time, I have hope.”
Jim swallowed heavily and nodded. “Me too. Come on.” And he took Spock’s hand and led him out of the park and when he went to let go of Spock’s hand on the city street as they headed to the apartment, Spock held on.
Chapter 6: Near You I Always Must Be
Spock watched Jim looking out at the garden patio of the apartment with a sense of what Terrans would call Deja Vu. He had an overwhelming desire to hold onto Jim but for now he allowed Jim to dictate whatever was between them. Really he always had.
Finally Jim turned back to face him. “We chose this place together?”
“We made-we made all our decisions together. Those that affected both of us anyway.”
Jim smiled weakly and then stepped over to him again. He put his hands on Spock’s stomach, spreading them out toward the sides. “It must have been amazing.”
Spock nodded. “It was to me. To us.”
“I know how I feel now, so that doesn’t really…I’m pretty sure you’ve always been amazing and more than I deserved.”
He took Jim’s hands in his and moved them over to the couch. After all, Jim had expressed a desire to rest upon him while they talked, and Spock was eager to have skin contact with Jim after all this time of being forced to hold himself back.
Jim’s arms curled around Spock’s neck and Spock’s held Jim’s waist as they sat. He’d moved aside the material of Jim’s shirt so that he could touch bare skin directly, and he was grateful when Jim made no protest of his familiarity.
Jim’s tongue came out to moisten his lips and Spock tried not to find it arousing. Jim didn’t want such intimacy between them.
“Talk about us,” Jim said softly.
“Before you did not want to hear such things.”
“I do now. Anything you’d like to tell me.”
Spock considered. “I believe that it was me who first loved you.”
Jim’s blue eyes crinkled at this. “Yeah? Weren’t you with—?”
“Yes. I unfairly stayed with Nyota past when I should have because I was uncertain what to do with the overwhelming love I felt for you. It…pained me. At first.”
“You didn’t want to feel such things for me.”
“I did not. Both because I felt it betrayed my relationship with Nyota and because I had never felt such intense love and desire for anyone. It was…uncomfortable,” Spock admitted. “For a long time I fought it.”
“After Altamid, it began to change between us.”
“I read about Altamid.”
“You saved Yorktown,” Spock said simply. “And the lives of many of our crew. Prior to that point, I had decided to depart Starfleet for New Vulcan. I had determined that my unrequited love for you was no longer containable and it would be better for both of our situations if I put distance between us.”
Jim’s brows furrowed. “I put in for the vice admiral position on Yorktown. Is that right?”
“It is, though I was unaware of it at the time.”
“Do you know why?”
“I believe that you allowed your insecurities to get the best of you,” Spock said honestly. “Your doubts about your worth, your command abilities. It was not logical but then insecurities never are.”
“We got together then?”
“Shortly after, yes. After the Enterprise was rebuilt, we continued our mission, and during one of our planetary missions, I was injured. You became alarmed.”
Jim smiled at that. “Alarmed.”
“Yes,” Spock said softly. “You kissed me first but only because I had not yet found the nerve to initiate the kiss myself.”
To his surprise, Jim leaned in closer and captured Spock’s lips with his own. Jim’s lips were warm and soft and, as always, absurdly addictive.
Jim pulled back a little. “Is that all right?”
Spock closed his eyes as Jim touched his lips again. “It is always all right.”
“I wish I remembered like you do.”
Jim shook his head. “Some things I am glad to have forgotten.”
Jim’s lips found his again and Spock eagerly accepted the offering. If kissing and touching were all Jim allowed him, it would be enough. Just to be with Jim in any way was enough. And perhaps that made him weak and pathetic. Spock did not care. He needed his sun.
“If I did not die, why was our bond severed?” Jim asked. Then frowned. “If it was.”
“Given what you have said, I believe it was not. Merely damaged by what occurred during your captivity. Damaged so that I was unable to feel it myself and believed that it must have been destroyed given the pain I experienced at the damage.”
“And probably further damaged when you bonded to T’Mara’s mother.” Jim grimaced. “I guess I understand why your father insisted, given your condition, but I can’t help but be a little…irritated.”
“I would never do anything to deliberately hurt you, Jim.”
“I know. Or at least I think I do.” Jim leaned his head down on Spock’s shoulder, snuggling into him. Spock tightened his hold. “I just…how do you have two bonds?”
“I do not know either.” Spock paused. “But if you will come with me to New Vulcan, perhaps we can find out as well as repair the damage that was done.”
“To both of us.”
“It makes sense to go but—”
“You fear the intrusion.”
Jim let out a shuddery breath. “I do. I know I should be strong, Spock. I know. But, God, someone fucking with my head caused so much pain, so much turmoil, going through that again—”
“It would not be like those who tormented you.”
“Logically, I know that. In my brain. In my mind. But my heart…I’m scared.”
“I would take away all your fears, if I could,” Spock told him. “I would die a hundred deaths to protect you. It-it is not logical, but—”
“Shh.” Jim put his fingers across Spock’s lips. “I do love you, Spock. As I am now. I just-I just hope that’s going to be enough for you.”
“It is more than I could have hoped for.”
“Okay,” Jim said softly. “Can you-can you give me some time? I’d like to stay here with you. Move out of my hotel. Stay here with you and just, I don’t know, be us, now. As we are. Spend time together. And then, when I’m ready, we’ll go to New Vulcan.” Jim caressed Spock’s jaw. “Would that be okay?”
“It is more than okay, Ashal-veh. I feel like I can breathe again.”
Jim gave him one his heart-stopping smiles and Spock’s heart clenched in response. “All right. Let’s go get my stuff and maybe we can go to the store and get some actual food in this apartment.”
Spock let Jim feel his amusement. “Very well. I will follow you anywhere.”
Chapter 7: Give Me One More Chance
Jim felt Spock leaning over him in the market as he surveyed the meat counter and butcher’s area. “If your desire is to consume meat, I will make no objection.”
He chewed on his lip. “I didn’t become a vegetarian when we were together?”
“You did not. Neither of us required the other to make significant changes. We accepted each other as we were.”
He smiled a little “How diplomatic of us. Okay, so if I get these breakfast sausages you won’t care?”
“Provided I do not have to consume them, I do not.”
“Great.” Jim added them and a couple of other types of meat to their cart. “This is kinda weird, I know.”
“To what do you refer?”
“I dunno. Us trying to be domestic. Well, me really. Being domestic with anyone I guess. All the stuff I learned about ‘the me that was’, I just don’t seem like I was the settling down shopping with my partner sort.”
Spock inclined his head as they moved on from the meat department. “You were not. Previously.”
“You changed me, did you?”
Spock frowned slightly. “Jim—”
“Spock.” Jim stopped and turned to him. “I don’t mean that in a bad way. Because obviously we were together and I wanted to be, so you did, in fact, change me. And knowing you as I do now, which admittedly isn’t as much as it should be, I can see why I would change to be with you. You’re amazing. Really.”
Spock nodded then and continued to walk but Jim could see that he had somehow managed to rattle the Vulcan. It was so frustrating not knowing what went on before. Reading about it was bullshit.
“Hey, I want to get some potatoes and eggs and something for dessert.”
“As you wish,” Spock replied.
“You want any special teas or anything?”
“I will go and look. Meet me at the front.”
Jim wondered if Spock just didn’t want a moment alone without the pain in the ass human who couldn’t remember their life but he allowed it and moved off to do more shopping alone.
There was a part of the market that had non-food items and for some reason Jim found himself drawn there. Once there he stopped before a display of ceramics. Cups, saucers, pitchers, and teapots. He smiled at them without a lot of interest until he saw one in the back from all the others. It was round with a long skinny spout for pouring tea and had a built in tea infuser. It was also red, brown, orange and yellow.
“Desert colors,” he murmured to himself.
And Jim didn’t know why but it was almost familiar to him and he decided Spock needed to have it. He picked it up and carried it over to a cashier that was just there for this sort of thing and purchased it before he met Spock at the front.
“Can you wrap that and put it in a bag for me? It’s a surprise for someone and I don’t want him to see it until we get home.”
The woman there smiled. “Certainly, sir. My pleasure.”
When he got to the front with the rest of his purchases, Spock was already waiting for him, looking vaguely concerned while trying not to do so.
“What is that?” he asked, noticing Jim’s bag.
“Oh. Nothing. I’ll show it to you later.”
So they got their groceries and headed back up the street to the apartment.
Jim could see why they would have chosen this neighborhood in San Francisco. There was something warm and cozy about it. Almost magical. He could imagine how they must have sat before a terminal and looks at locations and places and chosen it together. But that was the problem, wasn’t it? He could only imagine it, while Spock could remember.
He smiled anyway as Spock opened the door for them and entered the apartment.
“You’ve been really quiet, Spock,” Jim said as they put the groceries away. “Did I do something wrong?”
“No, Ashayam. This is also an adjustment for me,” Spock explained. “Until today, I had given up hope that we would be together again as I wished. It is not ideal for either of us, but the fact that you wish to even work on it with me is more than I could have expected.”
Jim sighed. “And that’s why I get upset. Spock, honey, the fact you expect sorrow and pain just…it’s horrible to me. I want to fix it so much. I want to fix us. And I don’t know how.”
Spock went to him then, right there in the kitchen, and pulled him close. “I merely want to spend the remainder of our days, whatever those are, together.”
Jim pulled back enough to stare into those dark brown eyes. He put his hand on Spock’s face. “I feel you in my head and in my heart somehow. Whatever they did to me, it can’t block you out, not entirely, you, us, it’s all too strong. I love you. So much.”
Spock closed his eyes and inhaled Jim.
Jim kissed his cheek. “I have a present for you.”
Spock opened his eyes and arched a brow. “A present?”
He laughed. “Yes. From the store. I don’t know. It reminded me so much of you, I just had to get it.” He grabbed the back and removed the wrapped box. “It’s you. And Vulcan.” He dropped his voice as Spock unwrapped it. “And your mom. I don’t know how I know but—”
He bit his lip, anxiety pooling in his stomach. “Do you-do you hate it?”
Spock swallowed and shook his head. “No, adun. It is…you are correct. It is my mother.” He released Jim and turned to a cabinet. He removed two very dainty cups that matched the pattern and color of the teapot exactly. He held them out for Jim’s inspection. “These were hers. Originally there was a set of four but over the years, two of them broke. One in an earthquake just after I joined the academy. She never had the teapot, but she often wished to find one that matched it.” He shook his head. “I do not know how you did it but you are a wonder.”
“Then, it’s good?”
“Very much so.”
Jim grinned. “Wait. Have I seen those cups?”
Spock nodded as he set the pot next to the cups. “Yes, you have used them with me before. When…”
“When?” Jim prodded softly.
“We had tea on the anniversaries of Mother’s death,” he said quietly. “You would join me, first in my quarters, and then later in ours. It became a ritual with us.”
Jim sucked in a breath, meeting Spock’s gaze. “I must…I remembered them somehow, didn’t I? I must have.”
“I am uncertain.”
“Spock.” Jim ran his fingers along one of the cups. “I did. I had to. The pot seemed familiar but-but I couldn’t quite…it was the cups. That’s what I recalled. Doesn’t that mean…”
“There are memories trapped in me, somehow. They aren’t gone. Not all of them. The brain damage…it didn’t steal everything from me. Maybe I could—Spock, could I get them back?”
“Perhaps.” Spock pulled him close. “Perhaps there is a way. But do you want them?”
Jim nodded. “I want to remember you. Our life. If I have to remember the bad…I don’t know. But you? I’d give anything.”
He looked down at the cups and the pot and he had a memory flash, him lightly touching one of the cups to Spock. They were younger. And the quarters were Spock’s he was sure. They weren’t together yet. In fact…this was the first anniversary of her death he was remembering, Jim was also sure about that. He could even recall the feeling of falling in love then, when Spock was hardly free.
He touched Spock’s jaw and turned his face toward Jim’s. He kissed him.
“I want you back, Spock. Whatever it takes. Meld with me?”