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just a very human kind of love

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It’s so strange, I can’t look at the feedback for this after I finish recording. Well, at least, it doesn’t have the option to on the systems settings, so I’m assuming I can’t. I’ll really need to discuss that with someone, we built the universal translator, we should really be able to give more options for sub-space private recordings at this rate.”

Her voice came first, filtering through the terminal before her image even flickered onto the screen, as if her impatience to speak with him had caused her to begin prematurely. It filled his quarters, gave them a warmth that he hadn’t realized them to be missing and settled something soft and comforting around his heart. An illogical sentiment, and yet his mind still held a fierce ache from the things that he had lost, and her voice had always offered such comfort throughout his childhood, it was understandable that such a thing would remain when he reached adulthood.

It was with her voice in his ears and her image on screen that Spock settled into the chair in his quarters to watch the recording.

“Anyway, hello kan-bu. You’re off to do great things, make wondrous discoveries and change lives, but I find myself feeling selfish. I keep thinking this is some horrible, existential moment, that human instance when your life flashes before your eyes? And that-that I’m going to come to and I’ll be falling away from you on Vulcan still, and that the last thing I’ll see is that look on your face. I can’t seem to shake the feeling that I didn’t make it, and then I just-“

She shook her head, and he watched as her long, loose dark curls swayed around her shoulders. There was no scarf about her head to confine the tresses, and this was only the third time in his life that he had ever seen her head uncovered. There was something to be said, surely, about the rich, chestnut color of her hair and the way that it lovingly curled about her face, falling in a delicate cascade past her shoulders. There were words that he wanted to ascribe to the image that she made, unbound and free before him, with a healthy, soft pink flush to her pale human skin and the way that the Terran sun brought a shine to her eyes, and yet he found that he could not begin to find them. Such poeticism was far from natural for a Vulcan, and it was a trait that his father had attempted to strip from him throughout his childhood so much so that Spock felt alien within his own skin even as he thought such rhythmical words.

There was a particular shine to her eyes, caused by the gathering of tears, and he watched with an ache in his side as she pressed the backs of her fingers to the underside of her eyes to gather the moisture before it could fall. Such emotion was precious, the display priceless and the trust that his mother placed in him something that could never be matched, and Spock found himself growing frustrated then for the millions of lightyears that separated them in that instant.

Amanda cleared her throat delicately, and gave him a wavering smile that was weighted with apologies that didn’t need to be given.

“I shouldn’t get emotional in front of you, you’re a starship Captain, the last thing a man in your position needs is a crying woman on his hands. You have more important things to worry about.”

Nothing was more important than her happiness, the sight of her small, tempered smile or the startled sound of her laughter before she managed to contain it, but Spock was in no position to tell her such things, and he watched as the recording of his mother carried on.

“San Francisco is nice, really, it is, but I keep finding myself trying to go outside and take care of my cacti, and then I remember that I don’t-I have rose bushes now, the house here in San Francisco has rose bushes, not Vulcan cacti, they don’t hold up well in the humidity.”

Her mouth pursed, her brows furrowed, and before his eyes, his mother slouched forward in the desk chair, pulling at her hair with one of her hands until he could see her face once more.

“Billions of Vulcan’s lost their lives, we-we lost our home, and I’m sitting here complaining about the fact that I hate rose bushes. Yes, this is becoming behavior for an ambassador’s wife, absolutely. I really, honestly wish there were functions to edit this dam-this video, but I’m not finding any, and I don’t have the patience to record another.”

She groused some more, mumbling something that even his enhanced hearing couldn’t quite decipher, and Spock watched as she allowed herself to wallow for a moment longer before straightening. She squared her shoulders, and lifted the dainty curve of her chin, giving the transmission the same poised, elegant expression that he had seen throughout his life. He felt pride for how she held such a stance for a few moments when he could see the lines of tension rippling throughout her willowy frame, but there was relief there as well when she allowed herself to relax back into the desk chair. He could see the toll that recent events had taken on her, the shadows beneath her eyes and the faint tremble to her usually steady fingers, and Spock wanted to reach out, logic be damned as he selfishly offered his mother the comfort she craved.

The destruction of their home had occurred less than a month prior, and despite the strength that he showed to those who asked, he still felt a sickening feeling every time he closed his eyes and saw his mother falling away into Vulcan’s crumbling core. It was only logical that she too would still be unsettled by such an event.

“I fought with your father. It was stupid, and we had enough complications when we conceived you, I’m not sure if I can take that again. But the High Council is pressuring him to produce more heirs given the recent travesty, and with the legacy of this bloodline, I don’t necessarily blame them. We have you, and Sybok, but he will never meet their standards because of his character, and it sounds so-so clinical when they question whether you’ll be able to ‘efficiently reproduce’, like you’re some animal.”

She took a breath to collect herself, and as he heard her harsh inhale, Spock did the same. Such criticisms were nothing new, opinions he had dealt with throughout his life, yet he found time and time again that previous experience made their distaste no easier to stomach, no matter how well he understood it.

“I’ve been thinking. I went to the Embassy yesterday, and there was this man, and I knew him. He was-he looked so tired, and he was covered in bruises, and nobody smiled back at him, but he smiled at every person he saw, and he was so respectful that it made my teeth ache. And he said he’s from Starfleet, and he said he’s willing to take whatever classes or tests they want him to take, but he wants to do everything he can to help any of the orphaned children that the Embassy has, because he-he said he knew what it was like to be alone and think that you don’t really matter, and I just- God, Spock. I’m going to talk to your father about adoption, because he made me think about it, I guess.”

She shrugged, a soft lift of her shoulders, and he watched as she tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear. There, there was the shaking in her fingers, there was the catch in her voice, and Spock felt small in the presence of her grief. And then she looked at the transmission once more, with wide, dark eyes and a firm set to her mouth, and he couldn’t help himself from reaching out, fingertips touching the screen.

“I can’t tell you his name, but I’m never going to forget his face.”

-

March, 22, 2263 12:22:33
Five years post-destruction

During the years of its being, the phenomenon of sandstorms had been as common to Vulcan as the chance fall of rain was to Earth. Hailing down from the Mountains of Gol, ferocious winds would beat across the plains of Gol and the plain of Blood, bringing with it the burning red sands of Mount Seleya and the blistering heat that came from the Womb of Fire deep within the Forge served only as a catalyst for the swirling squalls. The storms would often rage for days, pelting sand against the side of their home and restricting any activity outside of its safety.

The first sandstorm he could remember in detail occurred when he was but six years old.

The wind had howled against the walls of the house, sending a loud roar through the home that seemed content to never quiet. For three days, the world had narrowed down to his existence within their home, and everything else had been put abruptly on pause. With the hovercar unable to sustain in the harrowing winds, and his own father effectively stranded in Vulcana Regar while the storm blew, Spock was left with no lessons to attend, and the uninterrupted attention of his mother.

Kan-bu .”

He had chosen to ignore her, enraptured instead why the way that the wind screamed past the house. There was nothing to be seen past the window apart from a sifting wall of Vulcan red sands, but he had looked anyway, as if it were a challenge to find the neighbor’s home across the street.

Her fingertips had ruffled through his hair, grazed his cheek with that tenderness that only she ever displayed. His gaze had not parted from the window though, and instead, he remembered the feeling of her kneeling behind him, of her arms loose about his waist and her chin resting delicately on his shoulder so she too could stare out the glass and into the storm.

It’s like being in the eye of the storm, isn’t it?”

That is illogical mother, for sandstorms do not possess eyes.”

She had pressed a kiss to his hair, and he had sighed, the sound tempered and exasperated. Her affection had been freer then, like it always was in the few moments when his father been called away from the house, from Shi’khar, and there was no trepidation to be felt from her skin. Her headscarf had fluttered against his shoulder, the warm press of her skin only just something he had begun to realize as improper.

Hm, I guess they don’t, do they?”

He hadn’t understood then, the wistful tone that her voice had taken or soft sigh that she hadn’t been able to repress. Sentimental things, human things, and at the age where he had only just begun to understand the pressure that his species put on him to be Vulcan, her human behavior had been written off as nothing more than that, human and illogical.

Now though, standing on the cusp of the shuttle ramp, looking out into the bustling bay filled with technicians and his departing crew, Spock had an inkling that he was beginning to understand. His crew had already mostly scattered, chattering amongst themselves and striding toward the main shuttle bay doors to see themselves out, and he was left in their wake, the roar of his surroundings a constant sound within his ears. He didn’t move from where he stood though, caught on the threshold of the shuttle and the ramp that led to the bay, and he was almost ashamed to admit that the hand on his elbow took him by surprise.

He should have expected such a touch though, just as he should have expected the large, dark eyes that stared at him from beneath sharp slashes of black paint. Her full lips were pulled down into a concerned frown, a familiar expression upon her attractive face, and Spock watched as Nyota studied him for a few scant seconds. She seemed pleased with what she found though, or at least like she had expected what she saw, for she nodded, and her fingers tightened on the joint of his elbow before she sighed.

“You’re nervous.”

There was no question in her tone, nor any hesitation to her words, and instead, Nyota spoke to him in understanding. With the furrow between her brow and the pinch to the corners of her mouth, he let himself be handled, felt her concern and her affection through her touch and in the way she drew him back into the privacy of the shuttle. Out of sight and out of mind, he let her fuss, tipping his head so that she could straighten his bangs and even enduring the chaste press of her fingertips to his cheek.

“Everything will be fine. Your mother will be delighted to see you, and I’m sure your father missed you. We’ve got a few months off for retrofitting, and then another few for any extra repairs or mental leave that the Brass decide we need. At the least we’re looking at a year dirt-side. Your parent’s have been expecting you for a while, everything is going to be fi-“

“I did not inform them of my coming home.”

She blinked at him, doe eyes narrowing both at the way she had been interrupted, and at the implications of what he had said. He watched as frustration gave a nearly indiscernible flush to her cheeks, and as her jaw worked with the clenching of her teeth, and then was given privy to the way that her shoulders fell as she forced a thick exhale from between her lips.

“I’m going to assume you had a reason?”

Gazing at her fully, Spock took in the disapproval on her face and the way that her unpainted nails tapped a rhythm against the crest of her hip bone. The sleek of her high ponytail swayed slightly when she tilted her head, and she regarded him with a crisp, cool exasperation on the arch of her brows. Poised, elegant, it was moments like these when she looked like the royalty that she was, and as always, Spock found himself grateful that he had outgrown the urge to bow during the first year of their seven year friendship.

“You reminded me when we docked at Regula Prime that humans enjoy spontaneity. I thought it would be fortuitous to ‘surprise them’.”

Her shoulders sagged as if her tension had been drained, and she lifted her face skyward for a moment, uttering a prayer that he knew by heart. He had heard it whispered time and time again, her voice broken by tears or quivering with fear, but never once had she faltered. For she was better than that, stronger than that, and the N’Haan noblewoman had never given him reason to question her judgement.

“Dear sweet Mother of Mercy, I-“ Her lips pressed together, and her eyes closed tight for a brief moment, and Spock watched as Nyota bolstered herself together once more. “Good. I’m very happy you decided to surprise your parents, and I’m very proud of you for this. I just need you to understand that your mother is probably going to cry.”

“I had not considered that.”

The rueful twist to her lips spoke of her understanding, and Nyota reached out, cupping the side of his face and soothing her thumb along the side of his jaw. He took comfort from the gesture, from the calm that she offered. Even without her caped gowns and her artfully draped hood, she was regal in the line of her shoulders and the delicate nature of her touch.

“How about we make a plan?” At his miniscule nod, she gave one of her own before continuing. “I’ll comm you, but we’re going to meet up for a late dinner somewhere. That way you can tell me about how everything went with your mother, and I can take care of all the partisan minutiae I need to take care of with my Embassy, as well as find Gaila. I told her not to leave the apartment, let’s see if she listened.”

“Of course, I will keep you posted until then.”

That was enough to satisfy her, and Nyota pressed onto her toes slightly to buss the crest of his cheek. She clicked the heels of her boots together then, rocking in place slightly before she swiveled, strutting away from him and down the ramp. She tossed her ponytail over her shoulder, tilting her head back to get a look at him in the shadows, and her smile was sharp, though not unkind.

“I’ll hold you to that, Captain.”

He found himself alone in the empty space of the shuttle then as his First Officer left him, and with his lips pressed together, he fought the urge to sigh. Often, being alone was better, allowed him the time to analyze himself and the thoughts that filtered through his brain. This time felt different however, and standing alone in the empty of the shuttle, Spock felt the heavy weight of his solidarity where it pressed onto his skin.

-

It had been five years since he had laid eyes on Vulcan architecture.

His childhood home in Shi’Kahr had been destroyed, with its sprawling dry garden of local cacti and colorful, smooth stones. Once the ancestral home of his clan, the villa had been swallowed into the crumbling center of the dying Vulcan, all of its history lost with it. Shi’Kahr itself had been a seamless blend of classical, Pre-Reform Vulcan homes and structures, and towering, sleek, hypermodern spires that climbed high into the Vulcan sky.

Now, all that remained were the homes and structures built on New Vulcan where the colony had flourished, and over two hundred years worth of architecture strewn across Earth.

Standing before him, the Vulcan Embassy was a grand, sprawling building, designed in the same regal craftsmanship as the Pre-Surakian temples that had stood proud in Vulcan’s red sands. Pale, polished sandstone bricks were meticulously laid, topped with domed roofs in a glittering, metallic crimson that reflected the light of the mid-day Terran sun. Elongated, oval windows allowed sunlight to stream into the building, and through the one closest, Spock could see a female Vulcan seated at a desk with a salad of fresh greens before her while she scrolled through a padd.

Straightening the cuffs of his regulation grays, Spock stared at the doors for the Embassy with a budding feeling of apprehension in his gut for a brief moment. There was no logical reason for such a feeling, and he fought against the frown that tried to press across his lips with a sigh. There was no reason to try and delay his arrival, especially not since it had been his intention to surprise his mother in the first place.

Striding forward, the door to the Embassy slid open at his presence, and the air within was pleasantly arid in comparison to the dampness of the January mist that carried on the wind. Stepping forward enough that the doors could close behind him, the warm air enveloped him, and Spock swept his dress cap from his head and tucked it in the turn of his elbow with his hand folded over his abdomen.

He did not recognize the Vulcan female who sat at the receptionist desk to the left of the door. Her skin was a cool olive with faint emerald undertones that became prominent along the sharp crest of her cheeks. Her eyes were sharp, dark in color, and her mouth was a tight, pouty bee stung curve that was painted a rich plum. She regarded him with a quick glance, and a tilt of her head caused the cascading carousel braid of her black hair to sway against her shoulder. A momentary glance, and then her attention went back to the two people behind the desk with her, their backs to him.

He did not recognize the backs of the people who faced him, the broad shouldered, wheaten haired man, or the slender woman whose dark curls his fingers were occupied in finishing off a strange, mohawk shaped braid atop her head. Regardless of how he didn’t recognize the view of their backs, he knew the voice that came from the man well enough, for it would be forever seared into his memory.

“-really ‘Manda, he’s trying to be romantic, give the poor man a break.”

Soft and smooth, there was a soft tinge of an accent to the words that he spoke, and an undercurrent of exhaustion that did nothing to distract from the way that he recognized it. He would know that tone anywhere, would recognize that voice even if a lifetime had separated them. A shock ran through his nerves, set his body alight and stripped his control from him for the briefest of moments, and Spock listened to the barely discernible sound of his dress cap hitting the floor.

He knew that voice just as he knew that laughter, though the sound was far more free than he had ever heard it before. Pulling his eyes away from the back of the golden haired man, from Jim , Spock stared instead at the woman who was his mother, and caught the line of her profile when she turned to give Jim a look of pure exasperation. She was familiar by the soft curve of her cheeks and the delicate upturn of her nose, but it was startling to see her with her cinnamon brown hair free, more so even to see someone beside his father with the privilege to touch it.

Jim seemed familiar with the action though, Amanda’s hair slipping through his fingers as he wove it into a style reminiscent of an ancient Nordic female warrior.

Stooping quickly to gather up his cap, Spock strode forward on silent feet.

“I know he’s trying Jim, it’s just that it’s-“

“The concept of Sarek attempting to be romantic is proving difficult for Amanda to understand due to his sardonic nature. The art of romance is a foreign notion to the Ambassador, and as such his latest attempt included the Terran delicacy of a can of congealed lactose.”

Jim’s fingers faltered, and Spock heard the sharp, rattling inhale that he took, followed by the gut punched sound of his wheezing laughter. With Amanda seated in one of the desk chairs, Jim sat behind her, perched on one side of the curved, long expanse of desk with one leg folded and half tucked under his body. He leaned forward then with his laughter until his head rested against the gentle curve of her shoulder, rumpling the chiffon puff sleeve of her dress, and there was such familiarity there in the way that Spock watched his mother lean back into the touch even as she let out an undignified squawking sound.

“T’Ashau!”

It sent an inquisitive sort of confusion across his tongue, and he spoke before he could contain himself, and it was fortunate that Jim had finished with her hair.

“Mother, how do you know the Captain?”

A startled, yelping sound fell from his mother’s lips as she turned around to find him standing on the other side of the desk. Her eyes were wide, swimming and spilling over quickly, and she started to move forward, to reach out toward him. The motion was aborted though, for her face crumbled, and he watched as she pulled her hand back to herself. He reached out swiftly, grasping her delicate hand within his own before she could completely pull away, for he craved her affection in a way he had not allowed himself to since he was small.

Silence fell over them then, a startled hush of sound that seemed to swallow the entire lobby, drawing all the atmosphere in until all that existed was the face of the woman before him. There was confusion on her soft features, and he felt trepidation, anxiety and a hesitant, growing delight from her skin. Even though he held her hand within his own, her movements were slow, as if she feared she would not be allowed to touch him. When her fingers brushed his jaw, Spock turned his head into the touch, tilted his face against her fingers, and heard the wet, startled sound of her inhale.

“Spock?”

“Indeed Mother. I had intended to surprise you, as I have recently been reminded that many humans enjoy shows of spontaneity. I miscalculated however, and it was not my intention to cause you distress.”

Behind his mother, the Vulcan woman, T’Ashau by the way that his mother had addressed her, watched him with a critical, knowing gaze that made him feel bare in its wake. Spock barely spared her a glance though, instead watching the way a smile formed on his mother’s face despite her tears. It was more free than any such expression he had previously seen on her features, and he reveled in the sight of it.

“Oh kan-bu , no, no I-I’m happy, I just didn’t know.”

“Such was my intent, Mother.”

She smiled at him still, and Spock basked in the feeling of her joy. She held onto him for a moment longer before her breath became a snuffling sound, and Amanda pulled free from his grasp to swipe her fingers across her face. From the bag propped beside him, Jim pulled free a soft looking tissue, waving it out until she took it from him, and still his back was all that Spock was given.

There was a tension in those shoulders and the slope of his neck, and his stance had lost the easy slouch that had filled it. Instead, there was a tight, faint tremor across the line of his back, and the bulging of his jaw spoke of how his teeth were clenched. There was a tension through him that Spock had never witnessed before, not in the freefall at Vulcan or the following attack launched on Nero’s ship, and the sight of it had his head tilting slightly.

Amanda followed his gaze, and her expression shuttered quickly, piquing Spock’s interest further.

“Captain.“

There was a flinch that rippled across Jim’s frame, and Spock watched as he curled in on himself where he sat. Such an image went against the boisterous man that Spock had come to know as his Captain for a short time, and he watched as Jim turned a little farther from him still. Brow furrowing, Spock squared his stance, and glanced back to his mother, only to find a blank expression upon her face.

“It’s Jim.”

Illogically, he had thought that the image the other man presented would no longer affect him. Five years had passed since the last time they had seen one another, and such showed in the faint wrinkles at the edges of Jim’s eyes, but those five years had done nothing to distract from his beauty. His eyes were still that same vibrant, piercing blue that caused Spock’s katra to sing within the confines of his body.

There was a fear in those eyes though, something unhinged and frantic in that gaze, and Spock straightened beneath it. Just as he had initiated contact with his mother, Spock felt a yearning to reach out in the same manner, to sooth the tension from those shoulders and to touch the hinge of Jim’s jaw. Such a caress wasn’t allowed though, and the only touch he had ever been and would ever be permitted was the crushing clasp of his fist around the delicate stretch of Jim’s throat.

You wouldn’t have missed her if she’d died. You don’t even love her, you’ve never loved her.

That golden, brilliant, multidimensional mind had brushed against his own, twining with his katra in the most tantalizing start of a fledgling bond. Only a moment had passed between them on the bridge of the Enterprise, an instant of all consuming rage, and that was all it had taken for Spock to be blown wide open and left raw in the wake of the violent, consuming press of Jim’s mind against his own in those few seconds where the blond had fought for his life.

It hadn’t been until he removed himself from the bridge to go find his petrified mother in the Medbay that Spock had allowed himself to understand what he had done.

The glaze of fear that had filled Jim’s eyes, such a sheen was present once more as he stared at Spock from the other side of the desk. His light, tawny cashmere sweater dipped low around his collarbones, and fluttered low past the thick stretch of his thighs, complimenting his skin tone, and the soft texture suited him. There was something shattered about the Jim before him, crackled soul glass pieces that had been clumsily pasted back together, all jagged edges and iridescent colors.

“Jim-“

“Sa-mehk!

A sharp, childish squealing sound, one that echoed through the spacious lobby of the Embassy cut him off.

It cut his concentration away from Jim, away from the gold tinged sight of him and the way that his soft clothing carefully contained his frame, but Jim moved faster than he had expected. The human man skirted around the desk, behind the bemused looking T’Ashau by the lift of her severe brows, and came close enough to touch. The distance between them wasn’t meant for Spock to close however, for Jim didn’t even spare him another glance.

Instead, he fell to his knees, and a dark haired little girl threw herself at him, small hands clasping behind his neck. Long, loose twin French plaits fell past her shoulders with simple elastic ties to hold them together, and she nuzzled her face against his jaw, her features obstructed by the way she was turned. Her feet planted on the jut of his hips when Jim straightened, pulling at the pale powder pink of his jeans, and Spock saw upon second glance that the boots the two wore matched, dark leather Doc Martin’s that held a faint, waxed sheen.

Her little knees, covered in thickly quilted black leggings, rucked against Jim’s sides, wrinkling both his sweater and the gossamer and cotton layers of her pink dress. She clung to him tightly as Jim raised up to his full height, tucking his arms beneath her so that he could hold the little girl against him, and his breath was a huff of laughter. The contact between the two of them was familiar, achingly so, and Jim swayed with his bundle in his hold.

Her face turned to him then, as if sensing his presence, and Spock noticed first the severe slant of her brows, and second the curved, pointed tips of her ears, both of which caused him to straighten where he stood.

The young girl was Vulcan, no older than six by the structure of her face and the length of her limbs. Her skin was pale, tinted a faint mint that stood out in contrast against the crisp black leather of her jacket. And yet, the color of her skin, the slant of her brows and the curve of her ears seemed to be the only similarities that she held to the other of their species, for there was a vibrancy to her eyes that spoke of emotion and laughter almost as much as the baby toothed grin on her full cheeks.

Just as quickly as he saw it though, that grin fell, and the little girl regarded him with a sharp frown.

“T’Ara, it’s not polite to stare.”

“He has a funny nose.”

“T’Ara!”

Jim’s voice was scandalized, and he hefted the small girl a little higher in his arms, but there was no mistaking the sharp display of teeth she gave him. She was an entirely non-traditional Vulcan, no doubt the most emotional that he had ever met, and he was left at a loss for how to respond to her. Furthermore, the sight of Jim of all people with a small Vulcan girl in his arms was more than Spock was prepared to deal with, and the craving, yearning feeling to call Jim his own returned ten-fold.

He found himself struggling to find the words that he wanted to say, gazing instead at the pair before him with a loosely clasped jaw and something like adoration in his gaze.

“James.”

Two voices spoke at once, slightly reedy and high, prepubescent in tone. They spoke with the same inflection, the same stress to the final consonant. So similar, in fact, that Spock would have assumed it to only be a single voice belonging to a single person, had he not turned his head to look at the new arrivals. Two Vulcan male youths, identical in height and feature, from the protrusion of their noses to the still soft curves of their jaws.

Their faces were blank, the visages of perfect Vulcan youths, and the instructors from his own adolescence would have no doubt thought them to be exemplary illustrations of what a Vulcan should be. Yet, there was something outlandish about the pair, with their identical eyes and their vacant expressions, the way that they spoke and blinked in tandem.

“Tolak, Turak, na’shaya (greetings). How was your session with Healer Anauk?”

Their dark eyes shifted from where the two had been coolly staring at Spock, latching instead onto Jim and T’Ara where they stood beside him. Flat, icy, there was not a hint of emotion or affection within their gazes. Rather, as they watched Jim, their heads tilted to the left in perfect synchronization, their bangs shifting accordingly while they blinked at the human.

“It was a necessity, James-“

“And as such, we have no opinion on the encounter.”

Their voices blended seamlessly, the second picking up without hesitation when the first ceased speaking, and the sound merged as if they were one. At their insistence of having no judgement however, Spock fought the urge to raise a single brow in response, for he remembered being their age and the sort of thoughts that he held after his mandatory sessions with a Mind Healer were concluded. The two had an opinion, no doubt something harsh and critical, yet they chose not to share it.

“Alright, well, your sister’s been projecting food at me for the past few minutes, so what do you say about us going and getting lunch before we head home?”

There was no movement to their brows, and not a single show of emotion even as their heads straightened in time. Their hands clasped behind their backs, tight necked sweaters and dark pants making them both seem larger than they truly were. Spock watched the twins with curiosity in his gaze, and it was only then that he looked back at Jim once more.

The shorter man had yet to return his gaze though, and instead, T’Ara stared at him with pursed lips and a scrunched nose, as if she didn’t know what to make of his presence. Unaccustomed to such an expression on a Vulcan face, Spock could only stare at her in return. That seemed to be all the little girl wanted though, for she grinned at him with a stretch of baby teeth and emerald tinted lips.

“’Manda, eat something other than graham crackers and icing for lunch, or I’ll tell Sarek you secretly liked the whipped cream fiasco.” Jim hefted T’Ara up in his arms once more, bouncing the little girl, and for a moment, her mouth disappeared behind the chunky knit of her burgundy scarf, leaving only her wide eyes to stare at him. “T’Ashau, do me a favor and get T’Pring to eat something? Stonn’s meeting me and the kids for lunch, but the wife’s lab doors were locked up tight, so she’s probably having another research spell.”

Jim!

“Dead serious, I’ll comm him soon as I get out those doors. Better yet, I’ll have T’Ara comm him, Sarek loves her.”

Spock watched the way his mother shook her head, and then watched as Jim turned, finally to face him. There was something that Spock couldn’t place in his gaze, a shadow that seemed out of place against the brilliant color, but he gave no comment toward it. Instead, he inclined his head, watchful and curious as Jim’s full lips pursed. He seemed unsure of what he wanted to say, and the ability to gaze upon him distracted Spock enough that he nearly flinched when small, cool fingers pressed against his chin.

Instead, his gaze dropped down to T’Ara, with her wide blown expression, and he felt the impressions of wonder, curiosity , impatience that curled from her mind, slipping quickly against his own.

“T’Ara, no, kan-bu , you can’t just do that, we’ve talked about this.” Jim shifted aside then, taking the small girl with him, and the both of them gave Spock wide eyed stares that struck him to his core. The shorter man offered up a tentative, yet lovely smile, apologetic at the corners and it made Spock desire to gather the other man against him. “Sorry Spock, we’re still learning boundaries? And she doesn’t like Surak’s teachings, so there’s been a few instances. We’re working on it though. I’ll uh-well, I’ll see you round.”

Adjusting how he held his dark haired bundle, Jim seemed assured that the twin boys would follow behind him, and he gave the women behind the desk another smile before heading toward the door.

“But sa-mehk , he’s so sad!”

Kan-bu , we’ve talked about this, you can’t just do that-“

The doors to the Embassy slipped shut behind the small group, Jim and the children that Spock had realized belonged to the golden man gone from sight, and yet he stared all the same. He wanted to follow them, desired to catch up with Jim and pull conversation from the man, to hear the lilt of his vice and see the shy stretch of his smile once more, and it was only when his mother cleared her throat did he realize that he had indeed begun to move toward the door.

“Spock?”

Her dark eyes were wide, and with the wild design of her hair, his mother looked impossibly young. Beside her, the Vulcan woman had resumed tapping away at her terminal, but Spock didn’t doubt for a single second that her attention was still focused on the two of them. Sighing quietly however, he gave his gaze to his mother, and saw that her lunch did indeed seem to be a sleeve of sweet crackers and a canister of soft, airy white frosting.

“Oh Spock , it’s Jim? That bond is-it’s Jim?”

One hand pressed to her mouth, expression turning sad, and Spock held her gaze even as his heart constricted in his side. Such a countenance held no place on her fair features, yet, there was little he could do to banish the look.

“Indeed.”