By: Lalaith Quetzalli
They were bonded, James and Spock, which was good. And while most people seemed to either have no problem with it, or even outright supported them, there were some who still refused to accept it. So the two of them would prove that they were, indeed, t'hy'la… even if they hadn't the slightest idea as to how.
James blinked once, twice, thrice, all the while wondering if he ought to ask Spock to repeat himself. Though he knew it was pretty much pointless, saying the words again wouldn't change them in the slightest. And he knew how much his mate hated having to repeat himself, especially because they both knew it was completely unnecessary.
It had been a year, almost to the day, since what was supposed to be an Academic Hearing was interrupted and a whole generation of cadets, along with many junior officers, and even a few senior ones, had been thrown into a Trial by Fire. Where thousands Officers had died, and the Vulcan race had almost been annihilated; all because of a man thought that a desire for vengeance against one he held as responsible for the tragic loss of his own planet (and said individual's only fault, in the end, had been being unable to save a planet already on its road to destruction) was in any way right. As if blood spilt could somehow be paid by the spilling of even more blood.
James Tiberius Kirk was Captain of the Enterprise, the Federation's flagship; while his bondmate served on the same vessel as his second in command as well as Science Officer. Everyone on the Enterprise knew them to be married, even if only a select few knew how deep their bond ran, and just how important it was.
The plan had been for them to take a few days off. The crew really deserved a break, they'd been working so hard, so well. So they'd have a few days, maybe a week off, and meanwhile Spock and James could take a ship to New Vulcan to visit Sarek, Amanda, Selek (the name Spock Prime had chosen upon joining the survivors) and all the little vulcan children James had managed to befriend before; and give them a hand settling into their new homes. It had taken a relatively short time to find the right planet for the colony, yet considerably longer to build new homes, and the Elders had all agreed their children would be better staying on Earth until they had homes to go to. The time for the move had finally come, and Spock and James had been invited by T'Pau herself to see the place.
Of course, that was before things got all complicated.
It was all T'Pring's fault, she was challenging the validity of James's and Spock's bond. Claiming that Spock was meant to be her mate. Never mind that she had broken the betrothal bond with him when he left Vulcan to join Starfleet; officially because, if he wasn't even on the planet, he couldn't possibly be a good mate for her. Truth was (Spock knew) that she never wanted to be bonded to him, but saying so, trying to break the bond, would have brought dishonor upon her clan, until Spock's turning down the VSA and joining Starfleet gave her an excuse. There was also the fact that she'd been sleeping with Stonn for over a year by that point, Spock's psi talents were strong enough that he could tell, thin as their old bond might have been.
Now Vulcan was gone, as were so many of their kind. Stonn among them. And Spock was a hero, his name known across the Federation (along James's; and to a lesser degree everyone else in the Command Crew of the Enterprise). Suddenly he was the 'right' kind of bondmate, and since James was an outsider, and apparently at least some Vulcans were xenophobic bastards; which shouldn't even be possible, because being such was completely illogical, and they so claimed to be completely logical beings so… didn't change the fact that some of the Elders, and other Clan Heads did not like James, and claimed that because he wasn't Vulcan he had no right to claim one as his bondmate.
Suddenly their little vacation to Vulcan had turned into a fight to defend their bond, their love. And James would say it was absolutely stupid if he didn't have the very real fear that one of them just might be able to break his and Spock's bond and just what was he supposed to do then? It didn't matter how short a time he'd known his husband before their bond first formed, how bad a first impression they'd made upon each other; there was no doubt that they loved and were absolutely devoted to one another. James couldn't imagine being without that bond, without Spock, it would destroy him…
"That will not happen k'hat'n'dlawa (half of each other's heart and soul)." Spock whispered, looking straight into James's eyes.
That was the highest endearment he'd ever used with his bondmate. It was one that had fallen out of favor among Vulcans because of all the emotionalism implied in such words; and that was precisely why he used it. Because Spock was all too aware of the love he and James shared, that they were nothing without the other; and while most Vulcans might choose to keep a tight rein over their emotions, and even Spock himself did most of the time, when it came to James he held nothing back (and neither did James with him).
"Ashayam…" James whispered back, exhaling.
No, that would not happen. Their bond would not be broken, they wouldn't be separated, no matter what might come at them, that was one thing neither of them would allow.
Jim had no idea why exactly T'Pau had requested the Enterprise to deliver the remaining members of the Vulcan race to New Vulcan. Other than to prove something to both Starfleet and the stuffy Elders (those other than T'Pau, of course, because she absolutely rocked). So in the end the trip to the colony wasn't as private or as personal as they had expected it to be.
As part of the mission, the crew would be helping the arriving Vulcans settle into their new abodes, see that the public buildings were ready for use, and that everything was in order. Then they were all invited to the Memorial for Vulcan and all those who'd been lost there. Uhura and Sulu would be on charge for most of that time, as Spock and James handled the more 'personal' situation with the Clan and T'Pring.
T'Pau was there to receive the crew of the Enterprise, as were at least a dozen vulcan youths, most who approached James and saluted him in a very traditional manner.
"Tonk'peh." James greeted the children, shaping the ta'al with his hands.
He and Spock then turned to T'Pau, straightened up and greeted her properly:
"Dif-tor heh smusma (Live long and prosper)." Spock let James lead the salute, as was expected in such a formal setting.
"Sochya eh dif (Peace and long life)." The matron gave the expected response.
As practiced, Spock and James then stepped to the side, letting Uhura and Sulu take charge:
"Sarlah etek dvin-tor (We come to serve)." Uhura stated in flawless, accentless Vulcan.
"Vu dvin dor etwel (Your service honors us)." T'Pau responded formally.
Selek stepped forward then, and in the back of his mind Jim wondered how it was that no one noticed just how much like his Spock the old vulcan looked. Yet no one made a comment as T'Pau introduced him as a member of her clan, and the one the crew of the Enterprise would be coordinating closely with, as she was busy at present.
No mentions were made of what she would be doing exactly, though as Uhura was well aware of the situation; mostly because even when they were no longer quite as close (though they'd never actually dated), Spock still considered her one of his dearest friends, and James had agreed that someone needed to know what was going on exactly in case it all went to hell. Spock refused to admit such a thing was even a possibility, but James believed it was better to be ready.
Goodbyes were said and each went their own way.
Spock and James insisted on carrying everything for Amanda once they made it to what would be hers and Sarek's new home. James was quite touched, upon discovering that the home had been built with additional bedrooms, for whenever they chose to visit.
"Unlikely as it might be." Amanda stated as they shared tea, after putting everything into place and unpacking, hours later.
James didn't seem to quite know what to say to that. Truth was, he felt like that with terrible regularity when Amanda was involved. She was just so… maternal. He hadn't had anyone act in anyway motherly towards him since M'aih and, most of the time, James just didn't know what to do about it. Thankfully, with Spock so tightly connected to him, James knew his mate understood his silence and would react to it.
"While our duty might sometimes preclude us from making use of our time as we would prefer, that does not mean we shall not endeavor to visit as often as those duties allow." Spock stated, in perhaps a more convoluted manner than James would have used, but the message remained.
"And we can always take off for a day or two every once in a while." James said in a completely blasé tone. "What are a few light-years every now and then?"
Amanda giggled at James's tone, which was exactly what he was going for, even Spock smiled. He so enjoyed the rapport his mother and bonded shared. He'd always feared that, were he to ever bond, his bonded might not like her, might treat her like so many in Vulcan used to treat her. It had gotten better in the last year, with how instrumental Spock (and James) had been in saving as many Vulcans as they did, including most of the Elders. Also, the fact that Amanda and Sarek together had ensured that Vulcans got the best treatment possible during their time on Earth, she'd represented them before all human authorities, and before the Federation in general.
James and Spock themselves hadn't had much to do with all that, actually. Busy as they were with the Enterprise. James was quite convinced that several members of the Admiralty (starting with Komack) were convinced that Kirk did not deserve his captaincy, and determined to prove it. It was for that very reason that he made sure to never refuse a mission unless it might be detrimental to the health of his crew, why he only ever lost his temper at their superiors when some order they'd given had almost gotten them killed. There had been a few hissy fits, but a number of Admirals (mainly Archer, and of course Pike) actually approved of Kirk's attitude. Also, his actions had made the crew love him even more (which seemed impossible considering how much they already liked him after Nero); Spock and Pike were both quite sure if anyone were to try to take away his captaincy the crew would revolt.
"It will be alright, you'll see." Amanda's whispered words, but especially the touch of her hand over his own, pulled James abruptly back to reality. "You and Spock, you… you're destined."
"Destined…" James repeated, as if tasting the word. "I like the sound of that."
He could feel Spock liked it too, even if he was unlikely to comment on it; probably thinking it was too much emotionalism… it was one thing James definitely loved about their bond, that even though Spock would keep control over any and all expression of feelings, he still felt them, and James felt them almost as well as his own. He didn't need Spock to act in any particular way or say anything to know when something was bothering him, when he was sad, or happy or… pretty much anything. It was also reassuring for Spock, to not feel like his lack of emotional responses may affect his relationship with James. Just like Spock accepted that James could be very emotional and even illogical at times. They each took the other as he was, without hesitation or censure, their acceptance of everything that made one another (not just race, but also their history, all the good and the bad and the in-between) was absolute. It was also perfectly natural for them. They were, after all, T'hy'la (friends, brothers, lovers… everything).
Three days later they all met in New Vulcan's first temple. Things went straight to hell practically from the moment they set foot inside it.
"What is he doing here?!"
James could have almost sworn that had been a screech. Really, how else could that particular pitch of voice be described? He wasn't even sure most throats (human or otherwise) were capable of reaching that particular pitch.
"Standing by my bondmate." James answered in a perfectly placid tone of voice. "Where else would I be?"
"He is not yours!" T'Pring hissed at him. "He is meant to be mine."
"I am not." Spock answered evenly. "By your own choice, in fact. It was you who chose to dissolve our bond the very same day I turned down the Elders' offer to join the VSA, instead choosing to become part of Starfleet. And beyond that, you chose to bond with Stonn less than a month later. So I find it highly illogical that you would now insist on upholding a commitment you yourself walked away from first."
"Those were other times." A man Spock mentally informed James was T'Pring's uncle, Soren, spoke up then.
*Shouldn't the head of his clan be Stonn's father, or some other relative?* James asked through their bond. *As she was his wife?*
James might not have been an expert on Vulcan culture and history, but he knew enough.
*Stonn's whole clan perished during Va-Pak (The Immeasurable Loss).* James knew his mate was referring to the destruction of Vulcan and nodded mentally. *She survived because Stonn sent her and their son off planet in an escape pod in the nick of time.*
Son?! James had no idea what to say to that.
*The boy too has died.* Spock added.
No words followed that, but the connection was strong enough that with some few images and short memories shared James understood enough. T'Pring was among those who saw humans as less. Because of that she'd refused to join most of the other survivors in Earth, instead traveling to one of the few Vulcan colonies. However, the only colony who could receive them was one located in a planet that was almost diametrically the opposite of what Vulcan had been. T'Pring's and Stonn's son had been ill prepared to handle such cold temperatures and had fallen sick. Never having been in such a situation T'Pring hadn't known what to do. In the end a mix of her delayed reaction and the boy's lack of natural defenses against such illnesses made it so he didn't survive.
James exhaled silently. He felt bad for the loss of life. The boy had been an innocent. He knew all too well how fragile the lives of children truly were. He would feel bad for T'Pring too… if she weren't trying to take his husband from him!
The blonde felt the burst of joy from his mate who, of course, had followed the whole line of thought. He agreed too.
"We are so few now." Soren continued with his speech. "Old alliances must be fulfilled."
"Our alliance was terminated, by your own niece, years ago." Spock stated once again. "I myself am married now, to James Kirk, and that is one bond I shall not break."
"You cannot possibly be bonded to him!" T'Pring retorted. "He's nothing but a human! Filthy…"
"Before you dare continue your tirade, shall I remind you that my own mother is a human, which makes me in turn half-human." Spock cut her off, barely managing to hold his temper in check (really, even most humans knew better than to insult someone's mother, how had Vulcans not learned that, or realized how 'illogical' it was to do so?). "If you cannot stand half of my heritage how do you intend to be married to me?"
"You are Vulcan." T'Pring insisted.
"I am half-Vulcan, and also half-human." Spock said evenly. "That will not change just because you may choose to ignore it. I will not repress half of me to satisfy someone who made it very clear she did not want me before."
"It's not about what anyone wants." Soren intervened. "We cannot allow our selfish desires to get in the way of doing what is right for our race. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one."
"Indeed." Spock agreed. "Then tell me sir, how this amounts to the needs of the many, for I see it as nothing more than T'Pring's own selfish desire."
"And you insisting on staying with… him?!" There was so much venom in T'Pring's voice as she referred to James. "That is not a selfish desire?!"
Spock took a deep breath, wondering if there really was a point to continuing the argument when it had been made more than clear enough that the other side weren't listening to a single word he had said from the start.
*All Vulcans claim to be creatures of logic above all, right?* James asked him mentally, though he didn't wait for a response before adding. *Shouldn't being a xenophobic asshole be considered illogical or something then? I mean, I believe I read somewhere something about diversity and combinations, I think?*
*Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations, k'diwa (beloved).* Spock clarified. *And you are, indeed, correct. It is illogical, and yet…*
*And yet…* James agreed with a sigh.
They both knew well enough (more than either would have liked) how many things that should be illogical, that shouldn't happen, sometimes did.
Spock braced himself to continue defending his bond to James, there was really nothing else he could do, when someone else spoke up, completely surprising everyone present:
"It is destiny, it is the will of our ancestors." It was Sarek. "For they are T'hy'la."
James blinked once, twice. While he didn't exactly think Sarek disliked him, the older Vulcan had never done anything to show that he more than reluctantly accepted the bond between James and his own son. Yes, he was grateful for what James had done to save Amanda, and the way he'd assisted with the children, but through the past year he'd done little more than acknowledge James's existence and status as Spock's bondmate. He certainly didn't spend as much time with them as Amanda did; and yes, he was an Ambassador, he was busy; but Amanda too had her own responsibilities and still she made the time to spend with them.
Also, the fact that Spock's own mind had frozen, if briefly, at Sarek's intervention showed that James's thought weren't caused by his own insecurities (or at least, not just because of that).
"That's impossible." Soren refused to so much as contemplate it. "He's not Vulcan."
"What makes a Vulcan?" Amanda asked unexpectedly.
Soren, T'Pring, and even two or three Elders turned to look at Amanda with a mix of disbelief and actual anger. There was no doubt that at least one was about make a very scathing comment, when Amanda continued:
"Is it just a matter of the blood running through our veins. Iron or copper?" She went on. "Or is it a matter of education? Of a philosophy, a way of life? The way each individual has been raised to follow a set of beliefs? To behave in a certain manner? Each of us, humans, vulcans, orions, and all other races, we all are more than just the blood in our veins."
"It is everything." One of the Elders stated as his own expression softened, seemingly deciding that Amanda's words weren't that bad.
"If that is so, then James Kirk is as much Vulcan as any of the rest of us." Sarek stated.
That certainly caused a reaction. Even more so than Amanda's own words.
James took a deep breath and braced himself, he knew exactly what was coming:
"That is... that is illogical." James could have almost sworn that Soren and T'Pring (and about half the Elders present) were actually spluttering after that last one.
*Just like it's illogical to be a bunch of prejudiced xenophobic assholes?* He asked in a drawl straight into Spock's mind.
*Quite.* His half-vulcan husband agreed silently.
"I have exercised the right of en'ahr'at (godparent) and claim Kirk, James Tiberius, son of T'Lura as k'war'ma'khon (unrelated family)." T'Pau announced in a low but powerful tone.
"Son of T'Lura?" One of the Elders inquired.
"That is not the name of his mother." Soren shook his head. "I have done my research. James Tiberius Kirk is the son of George and Winona Kirk."
"And the adopted son of T'Lura, wife of Van Ravanok." Sarek informed him.
"T'Lura… I remember that name." Another Elder (female) stated. "She was disavowed when refusing to become cattle to her chosen. She defied our oldest traditions."
"She stood for herself, fought for herself, when her own family refused to fight for her." T'Pau stated evenly. "I never agreed with her father's decision to disavow her, would have taken her into my own clan, but I knew even that would not have been her choice. And now, I've chosen to exercise my rights to take in her son in her place. I say Kirk James Tiberius is part of my clan, of the House of Surak. He is Vulcan, and thus his bond to S'chn T'gai Spock is recognized."
He was also considered as an official graduate of the Shi'Kahr Institute. It was pretty much what he'd been doing for the past three days. Filling paperwork and undergoing tests to complete the work M'aih had him do when he was still young. Back then it had all been unfinished due to lack of a sponsor, but with T'Pau declaring herself pretty much that (like a sort-of godmother), he had the right. He was also recognized for his mastery in all forms of Vulcan and the Golic script, which helped ratify his right to be considered a citizen of Vulcan.
"If the Honorable T'Pau wishes to take the human into her clan, should it not stand to reason to have him take a mate in a different clan?" Another of the Elders questioned. "Allow for new alliances to be created, strong children…"
James snapped. It hadn't been enough that they refused him for being human; when even that was solved, they then tried to marry him off to someone else?! Spock didn't even try to stop him, just braced himself for what he knew was coming.
"Weren't you so against my marrying any of your people just five minutes ago?" He asked in his coldest tone of voice. "You want to marry Spock? Is that it? Because I'm afraid you'll be disappointed. Spock is my husband, my mate, my t'hy'la. And neither you nor anyone else in the universe is going to take him away from me. I'll die first!"
Silence was the only response to that impassioned speech and James wasn't actually sure if it was due to his words, that they didn't think he meant them, or they were too shocked by the intensity of his own emotions. Perhaps a bit of all.
"This is not the first time their bond has been referred to as t'hy'la." An Elder commented. "What proof have you that what they claim is true?"
Surprisingly enough there was no disdain in her tone, nothing but honest curiosity. James knew how rare a bond as theirs was. How most saw it as nothing more than Pre-Reformation legends.
"It's impossible!" Several called at the same time.
*Calling something they know nothing about impossible should be considered as illogical as believing it straight out.* Spock whispered into their bond.
*Definitely.* James agreed.
He had no idea what counted as 'proof' for their bond exactly.
"How long have you been bonded, precisely?" Another Elder wanted to know.
"From the day of Va'Pak (The Immeasurable Loss) Honorable Elder." Spock answered evenly.
"How long have you known each other?" Another inquired.
"Pretty much the same time." James stopped to contemplate. "I had heard of him before, but C… Admiral Pike was aware of my true skills and helped me test out of a bunch of classes, which included all that Spock taught. I heard him mentioned here and there, particularly in relation to the Kobayashi Maru. But really, the first time we met was during my Academic Hearing, when I was accused of cheating on that test. I asked for the right to face my accuser, which turned out to be Spock. However the hearing was interrupted when we got the distress call from Vulcan. Two, three hours later?" He wasn't sure of that one. "We were fighting for our lives and to save as many as we could. Spock chose to go down to get the Elders and I decided to follow him."
"You decided to follow a man you had only just met, and not in the best circumstances, into a planet that was already collapsing?" Sarek had never known all the details from that day.
"I'd already gone down." James pointed out calmly. "I was with Sulu and… I cannot remember the name of the Engineer. We were the ones who disabled Nero's drill. Had just gotten back to the Enterprise when Spock decided to go down and I followed."
"Why?" Another Elder pressed.
"It was the right thing to do." James shrugged.
Really, he had no better explanation than that. As he remembered those moments, he also couldn't help but remember landing on Vulcan, the pain on his hand, taking off the glove… his hand spasmed automatically and he remembered the moment when he wound one of his arms around Amanda, throwing his other hand out, seeking something to hold onto… it was the first time they'd touched.
"Wuh'rak esta (First touch)…" Spock breathed out.
"What…?" James was the only one to ask the question out-loud, but he was quite certain he wasn't the only one confused.
"First touch." T'Pau translated, though James had actually understood that part from the start. "It is quite fitting, for a t'hy'la bond to be formed thus."
It was almost funny actually because throughout the last year Spock and James had revisited the memories of that first day, willingly or not, while awake and in dreams, over and over again; yet never had either of them thought to wonder about the exact moment when their bond had formed. It was all so natural for them, they saw no reason to question it, to trace it to its origins. Yet in that moment James could recall with perfect clarity, laying on that landing-pad and feeling like he was hearing Spock with something other than his ears, could remember the sense of peace he got when he returned to the bridge after seeing to the children. Spock himself remembered the horror at seeing his mother begin to fall, the echo of certainty that she would not fall the first thing he felt upon touching James's hand, the anxiousness that had been so present in him and which he barely managed to keep in check, until Nyota lead the blonde into the bridge hours later… And the whole time they'd been on the Narada, rescuing Pike, going after Nero, always getting the sense that someone had their back…
For several minutes the Elders talked among themselves about everything that had been said. They seemed to be pretty divided on things. James noticed some still opposed them being bonded solely because he was human, one actually opposed because of Spock being a hybrid (apparently he was among those who'd opposed Sarek's and Amanda's marriage, and when Spock had been 'created', the idea that someone who was only half Vulcan could achieve something that hadn't been seen among his people in centuries, it went against everything he'd always believed), others simply because they honestly believed the t'hy'la bond to be nothing more than a dream, and the last one because she thought that with their numbers as low as they were, all Vulcans should be focusing on re-population, something James and Spock clearly would not be able to do among themselves (James wondered if it really hadn't occurred to anyone that they could use surrogates, or even synthetic wombs, it had been done before, in other planets, even on Earth).
Spock's eyes widened as he caught that last thought from his mate. He actually thought it to be quite likely that no one had considered such a thing. Because never before had such been needed on Vulcan. Families were usually small, formed in a traditional way. If a couple did not have children they may choose to sponsor someone less fortunate, or mentor a youth they found particularly promising. But never had they focused on reproduction, on having children, so they might not have considered possible alternatives. He'd have to remember to talk about it with his parents, and perhaps with Lady T'Pau.
A few minutes and the two bonded had nothing to do, instead they just listened as the events of that day, and the ones following were dissected, as the actions of both were carefully analyzed, this time focusing on how the bond might have affected their decision-making, their plans. James was quite sure the bond explained why he'd trusted Spock so quickly, he had hardly trust anyone since Tarsus, and even Bones he hadn't fully trusted until months after spending time with him. If James was honest with himself (and as sad as it made him to admit it), he didn't fully trust Bones, not enough to tell him all the truth about Tarsus IV, never before Spock had he trusted anyone to so much as admit to them that he'd been there, yet he'd spoken of it to Spock (beyond the dreams he'd already been privy to) just days after their first meeting (and bonding).
James kept looking around almost absently, his eyes constantly straying back to T'Pring and Soren, though especially her. Something about her was bothering him (something beyond the fact that she wanted to take his man… vulcan), but he just couldn't put his finger on it. When he finally did, the words slipped from him before he realized it.
*She's pregnant!* He cried out though, thankfully, only in his (or rather their) minds.
"What…?" Spock was taken enough by surprise by that, the leap James's own mind had made such Spock didn't see it coming, that he didn't take care to react silently.
"What what?" Amanda asked, confused by what had happened.
"James says…" Spock cut himself off, deciding he maybe shouldn't speak of such things.
"James says…?" Amanda repeated. "But I didn't hear him speak…"
"Have you been talking telepathically?" T'Pau inquired, intrigued.
"That's impossible." One of the Elders stated straight out. "They haven't been touching."
"No, we have not been touching, but we have, indeed, been talking." Spock answered.
"How long have you been able to do that?" Sarek wanted to know.
James and Spock looked at each other, mentally reviewing the oldest instances they could remember. James's being the one furthest back, upon their return from Vulcan, That day.
"From the very first day." Both answered practically in sync.
"That's impossible!" Someone called out.
James could only roll his eyes. Really, they seemed to thrive in what was supposed to be 'impossible'; hadn't yet found anything that could truly be considered such, not for them.
"What was it James said that surprised you such?" Amanda asked softly.
"I… I am not sure if it is something that should be brought up at this time." Spock stated, as diplomatically as he could.
"It might be what ends this ridiculous argument once and for all." James offered quietly.
He wouldn't say it if Spock didn't want him to. But T'Pring was the very reason they were there, that their bond was being questioned at all, a whole year after it was formed. And James had read enough on Vulcan traditions to know that if T'Pring was really pregnant (and after the epiphany first came to him he'd begun noticing a lot of other things, small tells that she probably didn't even notice she was doing), then she had no right to make any demands of Spock, of any of them. She already carried a child of another clan and couldn't hope to join Spock's as she was.
Spock exhaled, he knew James was right, on all accounts. A part of him had wished the Elders would just accept the truth, accept him and James, but such was unlikely to happen. So they would do what was necessary…
"James believes T'Pring to be with child." He finally said.
The look of self-righteous fury in T'Pring was such as James had never seen in another being (which was funny considering how Vulcans claimed to have no such a thing as emotions), yet she did not even try to deny it. James didn't know if it was the whole 'Vulcans cannot lie' Spock had said to him before, or something else entirely. It made him wonder how exactly she expected to marry Spock like that. Was she hoping to pass the baby as Spock's? Or maybe that, since he would obviously be going back to Starfleet, no one would care about such details in the end?
The whole meeting came to an end right after the pregnancy was confirmed. Soren taking T'Pring away with barely concealed displeasure.
"Shall we proceed then?" T'Pau asked once they were done.
Spock and James both turned to look at her with surprise. Proceed? Proceed with what?
"With your ceremony of course." T'Pau answered the question she could clearly read on them.
Spock and James stepped forward right away, automatically. Not quite conscious of what they were doing until T'Pau began her recitation:
"What thee are about to see comes down from the time of the beginning, without change. This is the Vulcan heart. This is the Vulcan soul. This is our way…"
They had been bonded for a year, been married under human laws for almost as long, and after that day, they'd be married by Vulcan tradition as well.
James and Spock took all of one day to themselves, then they got to work. Neither of them felt it was fair that they have free time while their crew was working, so they went to do what they could to help. Somehow that ended up being acting as babysitters to several dozens of vulcan youths. At first just those who'd been with them on the Enterprise, the children delighted to be with them, singing, talking; they especially loved to hear James tell them about his 'adventures' through space. A few of which even Spock hadn't heard about before, as they were things that had happened before his mate ever joined Starfleet, during the seven years he spent wandering everywhere he could think (apparently he hadn't stayed on Earth all the time!).
The first day or so some of the vulcan parents would look at them oddly. Not understanding how their fellows could trust outsiders (and even Spock was seen as an outsider by a few) with their children. James didn't take it personally, they hadn't been on the Enterprise, they hadn't bonded. But even those parents (and miscellaneous adults) couldn't help but notice how good Spock, and especially James, were with the children. How they were quite capable of taking care of them, teaching them small things, and never losing control. And thus more children joined the group.
Selek finally approached them on their last day on planet.
"I have a feeling many will be missing you when you go." He commented.
It was quite clear what he meant. Emphasized by the fact that they were completely surrounded in that moment by probably over a hundred Vulcan children and teenagers.
"We'll do our best to visit when we can." James assured him. "We already promised Amanda."
"I find it so… fascinating." Selek murmured. "The way you're so much like my Jim… yet nothing at all like him at the same time."
"It's only to be expected." James shrugged.
"Is it?" Selek certainly hadn't been expecting that.
"Of course." James nodded good naturedly. "Your Jim grew up with a father in George Kirk, and probably even with a mother in Winona Kirk. Me? I had M'aih."
Really, that was what it all went down to. Different people had raised each version of James T. Kirk, and that made all the difference.
"I will never fully forgive myself." Selek admitted. "For taking your father from you."
"That wasn't you." James stated simply. "That was Nero."
"He did all the things because of me."
"And the alternate me too, don't forget that." James smirked, knowing he was right. "In any case, don't blame yourself. Much as I might regret my father's death, and what his loss did to my mother and my brother… I wouldn't give up M'aih for anything."
He really, really wouldn't.
Selek just smiled. He didn't fully understand. But then again, he'd never met T'Lura Ravanok in the other reality/timeline. He had no idea what had become of her, and of her husband (because if the Kelvin was never attacked, then he survived, and perhaps the baby as well; though there was no way of knowing what became of them afterwards). Still, he couldn't regret the man this version of James T. Kirk was, and not only because he'd managed to find his way to his Spock so much earlier than his own Jim and he did. Selek (Old Spock) could see that no matter the universe, James Kirk would always be a remarkable man, and that was just perfect.
Also, seeing his younger counterpart and James standing before him, the Old Spock could admit (if only in his own head) that they weren't the same, not at all. The changes might have begun with the attack on the Kelvin, but like a snowball falling down a snowy mountain, it had only grown from there. The James and Spock in front of him bore very little resemblance to his (Old Spock's) own t'hy'la and himself. And that made things both easier and harder. Easier because he could stop wishing for more from the James standing before him (he wasn't Jim and would never be him), but also harder because he felt like he was being denied even that small measure of comfort. Of course, those were all the kind of thoughts he could share with no one, they wouldn't understand, no one would… except perhaps the two standing right there, but he'd never put that kind of burden upon them.
A small beep interrupted them, they were being called.
"Duty calls?" Selek guessed.
"You've no idea." James ran a hand through his head. "We only just finished things here and already Starfleet is sending us elsewhere." He shook his head. "At least I've managed to secure shore-leave for all of us following this mission."
"And what is this mission?" Selek inquired. "If I may know."
"A new M-Class planet has just been discovered." James informed him simply enough. "We're being tasked with survey and ascertaining whether the planet holds any intelligent life. Should be easy enough, all told."
"New M-Class planet?" Selek repeated, there had been a lot of those during his time with the Enterprise and he couldn't begin to guess which one they were going to exactly.
"Yeah." James shrugged. "I think they're calling it Nibiru."