Jim was standing in the kitchen –his kitchen, the one that he’d gotten in the will from his father- with a coffee –the real stuff, not replicated, it was amazing- and staring at the small excitable dog sitting in the kitchen doorway.
“You can ask him to move. He’s well trained already, he’ll listen. Porthos-“
“’S not that.” Jim went over to sit next to Jon, eyes still on the puppy who was now sitting in Jon’s lap. “He’s so little.”
Jon nodded, suddenly remembering that Vulcan didn’t have dogs. “Well, he’s just a puppy. Puppy’s are small. Finally got off a damn ship, can actually have one now. Didn’t Spock have that big, bear like creature? Followed you around like a dog pretty well.”
Jim bristled just the slightest bit, “Didn’t follow me, Spock told him to guard me. ‘s what they keep them for, they protect little kids, and fragile little humans.”
Jon snorted, “You’re not so fragile. I once watched you eat a Mavrine spine fish, and I only know a few people who can do that, without throwing it up.”
Jim finally cracked a smile. “Hey, I didn’t think it tasted that bad. Little sour cause I drowned it in lemon, probably why my stomach didn’t revolt. Don’t find all too many things that I’m not allergic to though, so knowing it wouldn’t kill me was a bit of a treat.”
The puppy fell asleep in Jon’s lap, making both of them look at him funny. “How can something so lazy, fall asleep all over the place? He doesn’t even do anything.”
Jon sighed, petting the thing a few more times before getting up to put him on his puppy bed in the corner of the kitchen. “You know, when you were little, you could fall asleep anywhere. Now you’re a big ball of insomnia and allergy meds, angrily working your way through taking apart this house piece by piece.”
Jim’s nose scrunched up, “Nuh-uh, I’m putting it back together too.”
Jon grinned at him, “Yes, and, like many things taken apart and put back together, I fully believe this house will be the better for it, even if it’s a shame that it had to be taken apart at all.”
Jim sighed, “Are you trying to compare me to a house.”
Jon just smiled, coming over to wrap his arms around the tensed up teen. It kind of hurt to think about, Jimmy was only eighteen, and he was trying to feebly save a house in the hopes of having something that was close to his parents. Jim was tense for a few seconds before letting out a deep breath, shoulders relaxing. “You caught me, kiddo, mean old Uncle Jon is trying to get you to love yourself like everyone else loves you.”
Jim sighed into the older man’s stomach. It was hard to love himself after…
It’s not that he didn’t try. He loved Amanda and Sarek, for taking him in and not separating him from Spock. He loved Jon and Chris for not pushing him to go back to Earth when he was so full of hatred and anger towards the federation. He love I-Chayh for constantly being by his side on Vulcan, so even when he was waiting for Spock to get out of his school pod, when Jim was already out of his, no one ever talked to him with the sehlat by his side –which had probably stopped a lot of fights between him and kids who didn’t want him there.
He even loved that stupid, constantly sleeping, tiny puppy that followed Jon around like he was his sun and stars.
Jim knew that, because he often follows Spock around like that when he was there.
It was harder to love himself though.
He’d nearly died on Tarsus, so deep within his own mind that he was comatose to the world around him. When he’d gotten out, he’d lost weight, most of his sight, and family.
It was hard to love yourself, when you were beating yourself up over something that you had no control over.
Of course, he technically had more control over it than anyone else. No one else could get any communications out, but he could have sunk into his head earlier than he did and asked Spock to get help.
That just didn’t happen though.
It was harder to love yourself, when you felt like you should have done more than you did.
Jon pulled back from the teen, fixing his glasses for him before sitting in the vacant chair next to him. He looked Jim in the eye for a few minutes before nodding. “It’s okay, Jimmy. You don’t have to love yourself right now. It’ll come later. Just… just, let us all love you now, okay?”
Jim felt some tears springing to his eyes, nodding and feeling relived all at the same time. “I think I can do that.”
“Good. Because you’ve got enough people to love you.”
Iowa was… kind of boring.
Which is why Jim found himself attempting to sneak into the Riverside shipyard. Just to, you know, see some stuffs.
“Sir, the shipyard isn’t open to public tours for another year, I’m going to have to ask you to leave the premises before I’m forced to call security-“
Jim stopped listening at that point, a hand already wrapped around his arm and leading him out of the dusty area he’d been sulking in.
“Ah, wait a second!”
They both looked up to see Chris, coming towards them with tiny little Porthos at his heals. One of them always brought him to come see Jimmy when they stopped by. He thinks they’re trying to turn him into a dog person.
The hand around his arm let go as the ensign snapped a crisp solute, making Jim roll his eyes.
“Sir, this man was just found-“
“I know, Ensign, don’t worry about it, brat’s with me. He’s mentally incapable of using a front door sometimes.”
Jim scowled at the man, leaning down and picking up Porthos so the puppy could bath his face in his gross slobber, like some deformed dog version of ‘hello.’ Better than how he was trying to tear up Jim’s jeans, though.
Jim hadn’t even known that they were coming today, so maybe it’s more of a checking out the ship, visit, than a lets go bug Jimmy on our day off, visit.
The ensign nodded, awkwardly walking away while Jim ignored Chris entirely, petting the dog, despite the annoying voice in his head –sounds like Spock- telling him that he probably had the plague on him, or something.
“What are you doing sneaking around? If you wanted to come see the ship, you could have just asked.”
Jim shrugged, the tiny fat puppy in his arms squirmed, wanting down. Chris had a leash in his left hand, giving it to Jim with a stern look, knowing that Jim didn’t actually like chasing after pets like him and Jon did. Besides, he really should be on one in a construction zone. Jim put it on him, letting the dog down so it could attempt to choke himself by getting too far away.
Dogs are kind of stupid. He’s okay with that. But, Spock was more of a cat person. Jim was more of a cat than a person. Spock liked petting him. Jim liked being pet. Jim was content with not being a dog person.
Jim looked up at the big ship. He couldn’t see the top of it, and the bottom was so far in the ground that he couldn’t see that either.
“They’re gonna give you her?”
Chris nodded, face falling to a soft smile. “Yeah.”
Chris nodded, “Yeah, let me show you around kid?”
Jim had been sleeping off a self administered allergy hypo he’s shoved into his neck that morning when he accidentally ate a walnut brownie someone had given him, when he felt something in his mind.
Jim smiled, sleepily pushing into the pillows behind him to snuggle. Spock always made him want to snuggle. Hey, Spock. Watcha doin?”
I am nearly in Riverside.
Jim sat up a little, looking at the clock to see that he’d slept half the day away. Oops.
Are you well, ashayam?
Jim sighed, squirming a little at the soreness in his limbs. He started stretching so he could get up to go to the shuttle port. I had an allergic reaction to walnut this morning. Slept most of the day.
There was a hum of disapproval through their bond, but Spock didn’t say anything, knowing fully well that Jim couldn’t control what he ate 100% of the time unless he made everything himself, and Jim was a pretty bad cook, so, chances of that were slim.
You’re judging me. I can feel it.
I am not judging you, but your consumption of sweets-
I’m not giving up sugar, it doesn’t get me drunk-
You also have a high consumption of liquor for someone who isn’t of age yet-
Of age is stupid, it’s a societal construct based off of-
Based off of knowledge of the human body and its limitations in terms of growth and devel-
Then the age of requirement should be at least twenty-six!
Their bond was quiet for a moment, before Spock came back, sounding a little smug while Jim pulled on a pair of too tight pants and grabbed his keys off the hall banister. So you agree that your consumption of inhabitants is ill advised.
Jim groaned, flopping down onto the floor next to the door so he could pull on the skinny black boots. They covered the bottoms of his pants and made him cringe at just how skinny he was.
He had looked so much bigger while still on Vulcan, but Amanda said it was probably bloating from liquid consumption and heat.
He flopped back for a moment, curling up on his side so he could look into the living room, which needed to be cleaned to be honest, and receded into his mind again. Fine. I’ll stop. Not like I have a substance abuse issue anyways. When are you arriving?
Jim nodded getting up and grabbing a jacket, Okay, I’ll be there.
When Spock stepped off the shuttle with the other first year students, Jim was pretty sure none of them were expecting Jim to glomp him like a five year old, attaching himself very firmly to his bondmate’s side.
“Oh, do you two have to act like you haven’t seen each other for a decade every time Spock comes to visit?”
Jim looked over Spock’s shoulder with a frown, seeing Chris maneuvering Porthos’ carrier off of the shuttle with a scowl on his face. Porthos apparently hated that carrier, acted like he was dying every time they stuck him in it. He seemed to be passed out in it though, quiet for once.
“The last time I was separated from him for this long, two of my family died and I lost half my vision. Don’t talk to me about exaggerated distance.”
Jim slid his hand into Spock’s –a vulgar gesture but vulcan standards- and pulled the vulcan away to where he’d parked his bike. He hadn’t known that Chris was coming, and so he could take his own transport home. Jim wasn’t feeling very kind today for some reason. Besides, he always spent an hour or two getting everyone settled, and Spock was going directly home with him. Spock was looking at him with curious eyes when they got to the bike, gently prodding his mind with a touch that felt more like a caress than anything.
“The students will talk.”
Jim shrugged, giving the vulcan a helmet to put on. “Do you think I care what they have to say about me?”
Spock raised an eyebrow, “Maybe I find it distasteful that they all believe my bondmate to be an angry, broken, brash, human.”
“I never thought you would be upset about something that wasn’t a lie.”
Spock nodded, “Correct as you are, that does not change the fact that I will be the subject of more rumor than usual, and as the only known half vulcan, half human hybrid in existence, I am already subject to much.”
Jim straddled the bike, giving Spock an annoyed look while leaning on his own helmet, “I’m sorry for adding fuel to your fire, I just hate it when people act surprised when we miss each other. Being in your mind is one thing, but seeing you, alive and well, that’s everything, Spock.”
Spock stepped up to the bike, leaning down to press his lips to Jim’s own parted ones. “Ashayam, seeing you alive and well is also a site I view highly. I simply think that you should calm yourself. Your mind reacts furiously to the slightest of mishaps, and I honestly believed Captain Pike’s words to have been a joke.”
Jim looked down towards where Spock’s fingers were tangling with his own, before feeling a pricking sensation on the back of his neck. “People are staring now.”
Spock gave the smallest of smiles, “How can they not look, when you are the only thing worth looking upon?”
Jim leaned forward, the sappiest grin on his face, and Spock mentally congratulated himself for putting it there, wanting to commit it to memory forever, and look at it whenever it pleased him, and it always pleased him. “That’s so corny, I must be rubbing off on you.”
Spock leaned down for another kiss, letting it linger on Jim’s mouth, feeling the human shiver against him. “I only hoped you could do so today, as well.”
Jim’s cheeks heated up a little bit, groaning into those pale lips. He was going to hate the ride home.
Jim was slowly getting used to the cool temperatures on Earth again, meaning that most of the time, he didn’t even have much heat going in the Iowa house. But, when Spock was there, he made sure to ratchet the heat up enough that Spock would be comfortable there.
Which is why he was sitting up at three in the morning, having what he could only consider a hot flash right now, wondering if there was any ice cream in the freezer.
“Ashayam, you are much too warm.”
Jim looked down at Spock with hazy eyes. He was so fucking tired right now, he could easily fall back asleep, insomnia be damned, but he also felt like he was melting a little. “I should turn down the heat just a little. Maybe like, midway point between this and normal human temp.”
He stumbled out of the bed, and Spock was immediately following him, sliding his much cooler skin against Jim’s back. But, that was still too hot. Jim turned down the dial and turned around to press his lips to slightly flushed green cheeks. Maybe it was too hot for Spock too. Maybe he shouldn’t have turned up the heat so-
“The thermostat seems to be malfunctioning. The room is six point eight degrees higher than it should be.”
Jim groaned a little, adding that to the forefront of his mental fix-it list. That needed to be fixed before he gave himself heat stroke. He pressed the button on the thermostat to go down by either degrees before pulling Spock out of the room with him. Spock was flushed all the way from his ears to chest, but he’d only actually been woken when Jim had sat up feeling sick from the hot.
Jim stumbled a little, suddenly feeling dizzy and upset, when he felt the world shift. He looked up to see Spock carrying him down the hallway. “Need to check on Chris, make sure he’s not sick too-“
Spock let out a gentle purr, deep in his chest, in an attempt to calm his beloved. “Ashayam, you are ill and fevered, please cease movement before you become nauseous.”
Jim did, his mind reaching out to poke Spock’s to get him to go check on Chris.
Spock opened the bathroom door at the end of the hall. It wasn’t the biggest on in the house, but the one attached to the main bedroom wasn’t finished yet, and so that’s what Jim was using. Spock set Jim down on the cold tile, making him shiver almost violently, but let the vulcan lean him back against the porcelain bathtub. Spock pressed a kiss to his forehead and got back up, starting up the tub with cool water before leaving the room.
Jim watched him go tiredly, feeling very sick and extremely upset. Not even Vulcan got that hot. Actually, Vulcan had had several heat waves in the accumulative time that Jim had been there, but his mother and Amanda had gone to great lengths to keep him indoors at all times during those, where there was a relative cool and controlled climate. Jim hadn’t ever realized how hot it truly was.
Right now, he felt like his brain was oozing out of his ears.
When Spock came back, Jim could honestly say he wasn’t sure how long he had been gone, but it must have been a bit, because he immediately turned off the bath water and got to work stripping Jim of the rest of his clothes. When Spock was setting Jim in the water –only cool, but against his hot skin it felt chilled- someone else came into the room.
Chris looked like he’d just been woken up, hair a mess and wearing pajamas, but looked awake and concerned. “Hey, Jimmy. You okay?”
Jim whined out, sounding petulant and tired. “Just want to go to bed.”
Chris came into the room, cooing at him while shoving a bag at Spock. He leaned in and pressed a closed kiss to Jim’s warm forehead, still creased from his pillow case. Jim just wanted to whine again, feeling overwhelmed and cranky. “I know you’re tired. Heat stroke has that effect. You’re head hurt?”
Jim nodded, a few tears springing up. Christ, his everything hurt. He nearly jolted when he felt a hypo depress into his neck, feeling an odd sense of déjà vu at being shot up with weird things in a bath tub.
By the time his body temperature was finally low enough to be moved without harm, Jim was falling asleep in the cool water, making tiny unhappy moans of pain with every other breath, sore all over.
He was out like a light, the moment his head touched the pillow in one of the secondary bedrooms that night.
Christmas was cold as fuck.
Spock had the next two weeks off though, and so pretty much everyone was converging on the Iowa house to invade Jim’s life for a little bit.
Jim was sitting in the living room, buried under half the blankets on the main floor of the house with Bones, who looked like he wanted to kill everyone. Apparently, he hated the cold too. Jim was pretty sure that Joanna was somewhere under the pile near their feet, but the pile has grown since she joined them, and so he can no longer see if her head is sticking out or if she left to go get a snack.
Spock had long since extracted himself from the pile when he got a ‘sudden inspiration’ for his thesis, which may or may now have something to do with Leonard trying to lecture him about something that Jim wasn’t paying attention to.
Spock came back into the room, PADD in hand, and absently nudged Jim forward so he could slide back into the spot underneath him, letting Jim snuggle into his chest. Spock may have been cooler than a human, but he was wearing a giant sweater that Amanda had made him, and it was soft and warm. He had several that she’d made him too, but he wasn’t wearing one in favor of not overheating himself again.
The front door opened, and a few minute later, a head poked into the living room while Porthos made a dive bomb for the blanket pile. A small yelp from the floor clued them into the fact that, yes, Joanna was still down there, and the puppy made himself right at home in the crook of her neck. “Ew, puppy slobber.”
“You four are no fun. What’s the point of snow on the ground if you’re not going to play in it?” Chris held up a hand to Spock when he looked like he was going to actually answer that, not wanting to get a lecture, “That was a rhetorical question, Spock. I don’t need an actual answer.”
Spock bristled a little, going back to his PADD and holding Jim a little tighter in case he might be thinking about leaving the warm safe blankest nest. Not a good idea, his mate got sick far too easily. Jim sighed, feeling the arm tighten around him, squirming instantly. “Spock, you’re gonna crush me.”
Jim whined a little, finally settling down when Leonard reached over and shoved a PADD into his lap. Jim looked down with a frown to see it covered in incorrect equations. He made a noise like a boiled over tea pot, furiously typing on the PADD.
Spock relaxed now that his t’hy’la was distracted, going back to his own thesis.
Amanda was on the other side of the room, taking pictures of them all without them knowing. She was gonna make a scrap book, and send it to all their friends.
“Oh, sorry, I don’t eat meat.” Jim paused, looking at the caitian female, who was looking down at the food on the table with worry, before cringing. “Or nuts, and I’m not the biggest fan of strawberries, or kale. Allergic to all those things.”
She was giving him and honestly concerned look by now, furred features standing on end. Ironically, her name was Avia. “I… I have a replicator?”
Jim grinned, nodding, “I can work with that.”
The girl smiled when he sat back down with a cup of coffee and plate of finger foods that he could easily inspect just to make extra sure none of them had anything to kill him. He smiled at the hum of praise coming from the bond link between him and Spock. “So, you say this job is working with little ones?”
She smiled at him with a nod, “Yes. I have twelve younger siblings, and I’m what you would consider a middle child. Not many earthlings could say that they’ve worked with aliens in a close relation, and have the qualifications to teach.”
Jim coloured just a little, “Well, I wouldn’t say that I have actual qualifications-“
“James, I’ve read your ‘not qualifications’ and you’re still the most qualified to teach a mixed age of children, without getting overwhelmed, and still know what it is that you’re actually teaching them.”
Jim looked down, still unsure of being in charge of that many kids. Avia leaned over the small apartment table and placed one furred hand on his, making him wonder at how she was just as soft as she looked. “James, even if you say no to teaching them in bulk, I would at least like you to consider tutoring them in math. My littlest sister, she’s a genius, I can no longer keep up with her, but even so, she would greatly benefit from a skilled mind as yours.”
Jim smiled just a little. Obviously, flattery worked very well on him. “You know, the majority of the math I don’t know, I pilfer from my bondmates mind when he lets me. Had to put a halt on that process when I was still in school myself, after I cheated on one too many tests that way.”
Avia shrugged, “Well, it’s still in your mind, just not at the front of it.”
Jim grinned at that, “I like the way you think.”
He swallowed a drink of coffee, sitting back in the chair. “Why aren’t your parents conducting this interview? You obviously don’t even live at home with them, and you’re not the oldest out of the kids.”
“My parents are working in the shipyard right now, building that fancy old thing that your godfather is going to fly one day.”
Jim laughed a little, “Okay. But, still, why not any other kids?”
“I’m the only one still in Iowa. I left home because it was crowded, and I like my space, but I don’t have any urge to be any further away. So, they put me in charge of finding the kids a teacher, since the school system in Iowa is so… terran.”
Jim’s eyebrows furrowed, “I’m sorry, I never actually went to school here, they’re not inclusive of non-terrans?”
She shook her head, “They are inclusive, but not… accommodating. We tried school here, but the children are too distressed by it to keep going. Missia is even loosing fur over the stress of it. We decided not to keep them in any longer.”
Jim nodded, “You know, if you’re okay with me coming forward as a trial basis, I think I can give you a yes right now.”
Avia grinned, tiny pointed teeth shining in the light, “Oh, we’d be ever so grateful to that.”
Jim nodded, leaning back before getting an odd look on his face, “Um, Avia, I know this might not be culturally sensitive, but if I’m going to be working with the kids, I think it might be a good things to know-“ he looked up, not sure if he should continue, but the caitian was looking at him encouragingly. “uh, so, dogs… have any of you ever-“
“Are you trying to ask if we get along well with k9s?”
Jim turned bright red, nodding and looking away. “I only ask, cause my godfather and his husband have a dog, and I just wanted to know if I should ask him to keep him away, and-“
He was cut off by the sound of tinkling laughter, looking over to see that at least she seemed amused at him.
“Oh, sweet James, don’t worry about that. I haven’t yet met a dog who found a caitian child to be disagreeable.”
Jim let out his breath again, shaking his head, “Sorry for even asking, I just needed to make sure.”
“It’s quite alright.”
“There are children-“
Jim paused in the doorway, not having expected Jon to come over this weekend. He had five caitians in the living room, and two andorian zhan’s in what had now been dubbed the ‘playroom’ –a benroom that hadn’t gotten furniture in it yet on the first floor- with two more caitians in there with them.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. When did our precious little Jimmy become a professional nanny?
Well for the answer to that, you’re going to have to look at the situation itself.
Jim was a man, living in a boring as fuck town, and can’t even date around because he’s so fucking in love with his bondmate that just thinking about it makes him upset, and nothing good to do, with a big house to himself that empty more often than not.
To be honest, he was lonely. And, children? He liked kids, in fact, he loved them, even was thinking about getting a rascal or two of his and Spock’s own, later on in life… well, maybe, probably not. Actually, most likely not. He liked Spock to pay attention to him, and he’s not sure if he could share that attention with a baby…
So, since Avia’s parents house was so crowded, he suggested having them come over to the farmhouse instead.
Avia and her parents had jumped at the chance to get half the kids out of the house at a time, apparently, even if they wanted the kids, with all the other older ones gone, they were probably too many to actually handle on their own.
Jim was happy to help right now. He loved the kits.
Though, he wasn’t sure how they also somehow roped him into watching the zhan’s, because that conversation took place in andorian, and he hadn’t even been sure they were talking about him until they looked over at him for the fifth time, but, he wasn’t gonna complain. He wasn’t truly overwhelmed yet.
He did have one caitian sitting on his shoulder –only the left shoulder, though, which was weird- and another in his arms, absently petting her like the kitten that she was, which another clung to his leg.
To be honest, he felt amazingly loved right now, and even felt loved through his bond with Spock, and it was a little like being high right now, because the love was everywhere and he felt like he was floating.
He grinned at his uncle though, chirping out an excitable, “Yeah, little kits that I’m watching for a caitian family! Aren’t they all so adorable?”
For emphasis, he lifted the one in his arms, nuzzling into the side of the soft furry cheek. He’d already done both research and talked with the parents, nothing about that sort of touch was out of the ordinary for caitian children, and so he was happy to do it. The kit in his arms giggled, turning to cuddle him back.
Jon set the puppy carrier down in the front hallway cautiously, worried that the kits might descend on it like a pack of rabid animals.
Some of them did, but they did it in the usual quiet way of caitians, where they inspected just about every part of a new thing before wrecking havoc upon it. Jim had been subjected to this manner of inspection when he first met them, and it had ended, like most things with feline humanoids, in a giant pile on the floor, two of the smallest ones sleeping on him.
He may or may not love these little creatures more than anything in the universe. They provided snuggles.
When the end of the school came around, Jim was, for once, more busy than Spock was.
Of course, vulcans are dorks who always get their homework done early, and so it made sense that he was barely behind on things. But, still, Jim was nearly dead on his feet.
He’d finished fixing all the frame work and structural damage on the old farmhouse, and was finally focusing on fixing it’s innards, which, unfortunately meant, the construction zone of it was now indoors instead of out.
Which meant that he was trying to keep a lot of curious feline species out of his house right now.
Which meant that he was outside, in the warmth, and being overrun by –today- ten tiny kits who were split between trying to climb trees –and get stuck- and trying to climb him like a tree –and make him fall over- which was alarmingly easy to do.
Maybe he needs to get stronger, because he’s currently being taken down by a whole handful of kits.
In the grass.
When he finally got back up, he found his left arm being taken over by tiny red dots. Ugh, hives.
He shivered a little, deciding to go get a hypo for it and a biggest shirt.
It was a fun year.